Category Archives: Photography

The Stoner Park Poets Picnic (Part Two)

PICNIC - Big Group

A slight different arrangement than the previous group shot. If anyone recognizes the other people, please write me.

Just now, working on this post, I remember that there was another poet’s picnic about four years earlier. It was in a park on the east side of town, and I remember Eloise Klein Healy, Deena Metzger, and Lee Hickman being at it along with enough other people to play a baseball game. I also remember that while I was playing centerfield, I tore my pants diving for a fly ball; and one of the other poets lent me a t-shirt so that the rip wasn’t too revealing. At the Stoner Park picnic, we played some soccer, which had a sad ending. The poet Blake Latimer broke her ankle about a half-hour into the game, and had to go to the hospital for a cast.

Scott Wannberg - Carol Lewis

Julia Norstrand; Carol Lewis; Scott Wannberg

Carol Lewis was one of my favorite poets in the scene at the time. I don’t believe she ever had a full-length book of poetry published. She was a thoughtful presence in the early years of the Beyond Baroque poetry workshop, and had poems in my 1985 anthology, “Poetry Loves Poetry.”

PICNIC - TRIO - BEST

Dennis Cooper; David Trinidad; Rick Lawndale (on guitar)

Bill Mohr - Bookstore T-shirt - 1

Bill Mohr, wearing an “Intellectuals & Liars” bookstore t-shirt

Bill Mohr - Green Shirt - 1

(costume change)

PICNIC - Big Group

Blog copyright Bill Mohr (c) 2017

The Stoner Park Poets’ Picnic (1980)

The reading of “5 Editors” at Papa Bach in 1974 and the large group reading that took place on Valentine’s Day, 1976, at Beyond Baroque were definitive moments in the resurgence in the poetry scenes in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. By the late 1970s, another groundswell of poetry magazines based in Los Angeles caught the West Coast still off-guard. No one was expecting Los Angeles to be the home base for so many activist editors. By the end of the decade, yet more editors were showing up, and their work provided the basis for many subsequent scenes to understand how complicated any account of Los Angeles must inherently be.

Among the most important editors were Dennis Cooper and Jack Skelley. Cooper’s Little Caesar magazine and Little Caesar press easily rank in the top 50 of all small press projects in the period between 1960 and 1990. Skelley’s magazine, Barney, was one of the rare magazines that accomplished more in its four issue run than other magazines manage to do in a dozen issues. David Trinidad and Amy Gerstler also had significant, though brief, projects at this time, too. One summer day found this new generation gathered at Stoner Park, along with two of the older editors, for a picnic.

Here are some photographs, never before shared, of “L.A. poets in their youth.” All photographs in this post were taken by me, and are (c) Bill Mohr. Group photograph (c) Cathay Gleeson.

Jim Krusoe - PICNIC - 2

Jim Krusoe holding court on a picnic table. In the background, one can see Dennis Cooper, David Trinidad, and Jack Skelley. I believe the man sitting on the bench in the foreground is Marshall Davis.

Dennis Cooper - Breaking on Camera
“Breaking on Camera”: Dennis Cooper, wearing a “My Aim Is True” t-shirt

Scott Wannberg - 1

From left to right: Joe Safdie; Julia Norstrand; (unknown person); Scott Wannberg, in red T-shirt, “McGovern 72”). Joe Safdie, it should be noted, went on to edit a poetry magazine after he moved to Northern California.

Picnic GROUP - 1

Standing, from left: David Trinidad; unknown; Amy Gerstler; Manazar Gamboa; Dennis Cooper; Rick Lawndale (with guitar); Jack Skelley; other figures in the back row, unknown); front row; kneeling, Bill Mohr; and two unknown individuals.)

An Affirmative Fourth of July, 2017

July 4, 2017

July 4, 2016

Donald Trump is in a state of severe psychological distress. He seems to be occupying a hall of mirrors in which Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum conflates with Freud’s musings about the return of the repressed. The most recent Delirium Tremens installment involves the dissemination of a video from an old wrestling show in which he lampoons himself as a Don Quixote vanquishing “fake news.” He may have taken a public oath of office administered by a Supreme Court Justice that grants him residency in the White House, but that speech act did nothing to change his personality, which is that of a narcissistic bully.

A year ago, Linda and I went to Rod Bradley’s house and enjoyed a lovely evening with his friends and family. As dusk began to summon distant glimmers of fireworks at the perimeters of Los Angeles County, we took in the spectacle with little expectation that a malign transmogrification was about to launch itself into public power over social policy. Despite this grim turn in our national self-governance, I choose to celebrate this holiday as an affirmation of the virtues required to stand up to bullies and to punish them for their bad behavior.

Even as we admit how discouraging this travesty of an administration truly is, let us remember how persistent the resistance has been. As we take in this evening’s panoply of lingering bursts of color, let this ritual reinforce the dexterity of our citizenship; let our pledge of allegiance be to a nation that still embraces those who live and work with us out of no other choice of tolerable refuge. Let the despair that drives them here be a reminder of the effusive hope we must sustain amongst ourselves to preserve the viability of this experiment in democracy.

Atomized Fireworks

As the soundtrack anthem for today, here’s a link to my favorite for this occasion:

Hey Baby, It’s the 4th of July (Dave Alvin & X)

For those who wonder about the technology of fireworks, here is a link from one of my favorite websites:

How fireworks get their colors

Short Walks

The second and third photographs are of the same chalkboard on Fourth Street (near Temple), in Long Beach, on different occasions.

Fuller Glass

I Love Hot Stuff

Fourth Street Chalkboard

Cactus Flower - 1

Side Fence Toil and Sidle

Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017

I drove up to KPFK’s studio on Saturday morning to record three poems as a reprise of the “Sunset Strip, 1967” reading a few weeks ago at the West Hollywood Library. Kim Dower, who had organized the reading, asked us to be in North Hollywood by 10:00 a.m., and I was not the most cheerful person heading off early on a Saturday morning from Long Beach in order to get up there in time. The day turned out, however, to be a scorcher, and on the drive back I was grateful that the recording session had not been scheduled for 3 p.m. I would not have wanted to commence my round-trip shortly after noon. Perhaps someday I will have a car with air-conditioning, but until then the various commutes I undertake are often an exhausting grind. I had free tickets on faculty and staff day to see a CSULB Dirtbags baseball game at 2 p.m. They went unused. I was glad to hear in the days after that no player suffered heatstroke.

Kim divided the recording session into two half-hour parts, the first one featuring Yvonne Estrada, Brendan Constantine, and Laurel Ann Bogen. The second one included Lynne Thompson and myself, with Elena Carina Byrne being recorded over the phone afterwards. I’ve been to these studios a dozen or so times over the past several decades; like Beyond Baroque, it’s a quirky miracle that KPFK has survived. The music critic, Steve Hochman, introduced himself after the reading at the library, and mentioned that he had been at the Darden Smith show that is the subject of one of the poem I read, “Sunset Blvd.”; it was a pleasure to dedicate the poem to him at the KPFK recording.

By the very late afternoon, it had cooled off enough that I was able to work at the side of our rented residence, and by the last smudge of twilight I had dug up most of the weeds that had grown since the onset of the winter rains, a period of steady moist air that I am already growing too fond of in my memory. There is just enough room to do some more planting and add a little more color to our domestic edges, so a trip to the plant store will be one of the first things we do after I finish grading papers for the Spring semester.

KPFK
(l-r, clockwise: Kim Dower; Yvonne Estrada; Brendan Constantine, Laurel Ann Bogen)

Full Length Yellow Blooms

Flower Sun Plate

UNBD Soft Landing (Part Two)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Having found the “host” planet at Temple and Third too forbidding, the NanoDrone moved on to Temple and Mariquita.

An initial report of a similar terrain caused the crew to check its fuel gauge.

Long Tube Dense Pole

Soon after, a set of three yellow bands signaled that a landing site had been detected.

Three Yellow bands

The “Descent” began (as “a kind of renewal”):

Begin Descent

Descent Almost Complete

Ultra-Nano-Breastbone-Drone (UNBD) Steers to a Soft Landing (Part One: Hostile Terrain)

Just as mechanized exploratory crafts such “Rover,” “Pathfinder,” and “Sojourner” must consider very carefully the terrain that will serve as their landing spots, so too must every Ultra-Nano-Breastbone-Drone undertake a meticulous assessment of the exact area that will most likely provide a “soft landing.”

This recent record of an exploratory flight was “hacked” from top-level intelligence sources (courtesy of Bitter-Twitter-Foible-L’oeil-45: Stayin’ Alive) and is hereby distributed as a public service to fellow flight controllers.

Satellite Dish Pole

Dense Pole - 2

Dense Pole Onward One

Dense Pole - One

Trash Can Sundials

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trash Can Sundials

Photograph: Bill Mohr
(c) Bill Mohr, 2017

Mother’s Day: “Here Comes the Sun”

Sunday evening, May 14, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, after I visited my mother and delivered cards sent by my sister in Tennessee and a cousin in Michigan, Linda and I drove up to Chatsworth for the opening reception for Hye Sook Park’s new exhibition of paintings, which I will write about in a day or two; and then went on to her sister’s place in Thousand Oaks, where we celebrated Mother’s Day with her family. During my visit with my mother, I had asked if she would enjoy going to the small outdoor patio on the third floor. She sat quite happily in her wheelchair in the mild spring sun. Although she still recognizes me by name when I arrive, her personal narrative is steadily vanishing. This time she asked me if her mother and father were still alive. “I can’t remember whether they’ve died or not.” At least she can speak that sentence and know what the question means. One answer is all too obvious, but I allowed her to consider what their real age would be if they were alive, and let her work it out from there.

Today, though, as I sipped my first cup of coffee, I looked out the sliding glass door between Sharon’s kitchen and her patio and saw Noreen, the mother of the Cleary clan, sitting in a chair and enjoying the sun as much as my mother did yesterday. I suggested to Sharon that she should take a picture of Noreen accompanied by a metal sculpture of her favorite animal, the rooster. A few minutes after Sharon snapped the picture, Noreen got up from her chair and shifted to another chair, which positioned her sideways to the sun’s outpouring. My thanks to Sharon for graciously hosting us, as she has done for well over the decade and a half I have been part of her extended family, and for sending me this photograph and giving me permission to use it.

Sunworshippers

Sandy Flees Jackson, Michigan (Trump Territory)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sandy Flees Jackson, Michigan

Last summer, I happened to find myself in Jackson, Michigan, and ended up using the public library in order to write my friends Larry and Nancy Goldstein in Ann Arbor about the possibility of visiting them before I headed back to Long Beach. Although I was willing to take the train, they very kindly saved me the trouble and made a round-trip to pick me up, where I spent what proved to be a very delightful time with them. After writing from a computer in Jackson’s library, I went to a local version of an enormous grocery outlet, at the front area of which, near the cash registers, was one of those children’s mechanical rides that I remember along with gumball machines as being ever-present, if infrequently used, in my childhood. The price tag on the ride seemed to be less of a “loss leader” than a comment on the disparity between what jobs paid and what things cost. If “Sandy” could have voted, she would have shown some horse sense and cast her lot with Bernie Sanders. At that point in the election, though, she had little choice but to get the hell out of Jackson.

It is a grossly overweight town. While I certainly need to lose more than a few pounds as I verge on my 70th birthday, I had never before been around so many young and middle-aged people whose girths reflected bad diets. Given that Jackson voted overwhelmingly for Trump, one has to wonder about the relationship between a diet lacking in sufficient vegetables and fruits and political naivete. I suspect that their allegiance to a fast food regimen hasn’t changed since the inauguration of the 45th president, so those of us who want a government that respects intelligent imagination have work ahead of us that will require us to take control of the political machinery. For too long, we have sold our votes for a penny a ride.

One Cent Sign - Jackson