Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hi, Nancy.

"I just got churched out. The cobblestone streets and all, I got them out of my system so I just didn't think about them anymore."  

 "And when I came back to the States, it all looked brand new and very exotic."

(Robert Bechtle)

Monday, April 15, 2013

this in which

Camille Guthrie:
   "Last fall, a neighbor shot a doe in my front yard. I heard the gunshot, saw the doe stagger, limping and bewildered, out of the copse and race with her twins in a confused panic into the woods. I was shocked, although I had cursed the same deer for eating the last of the summer’s cherry tomatoes. This is certainly fodder for a poem, right?
   "There’s no poem there for me. No reach from the beauty of the scene; the explosion of the hunter; the death of the mother; the death of a human mother; to lots of pathos; then a return to beauty of the scene—the post-Romantic boomerang. . . .
   "Watch out for sentimentality. Predatory personification, too. And men with guns."

° ° °
George Oppen:


Veritas sequitur ...

In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there!

                              Their eyes
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass

                              The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.

                              Their paths
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
Of sun

                              The small nouns
Crying faith
In this in which the wild deer   
Startle, and stare out.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mother Beatnik

"59. When I looked at her early pieces, I had a sudden feeling that, regarding visual art, I was happy to be in San Francisco and not Paris. That was 1954."

"60. DeFeo rode Abstract Expressionism in a direction that it had never been before—it was the placement of her incredible shabby daubs or exquisitely worn splotches and loose sprawling offbeat bars that was the message. She was dealing with paint as the assemblagists would deal with worn materials. She was part of a vision, of a new way of seeing. She was beat, she was elegant, she was worn, she was glimmery. DeFeo is the visionary of the assemblagists."

Tuxedo Junction (fragment)

"61. . . . DeFeo was a gambler and an alchemist. She was translating her vision into painting and gambling her spirit on the coup of her dusky materials."

photo by Jerry Burchard • 1958

"63. At one point in the late fifties, I found that DeFeo had destroyed, by cutting in half, nearly all of her tempera on pasteboard works. The destroyed stack of work was eighteen inches to two feet high.
I wish she had not done it, and I have thought about her act for thirty years."

"66. Jay DeFeo is working with spirit, contemplation, and gesture. She proves that the minute gesture in a perfect daub is as fine as a great slooping drip in Pollock's work or a color field by Rothko."

[Text excerpted from "66 things about the California assemblage movement" in Lighting The Corners (1992) by Michael McClure.]

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Little Blue Books

Louis L'Amour remembers . . .

"Riding a freight train out of El Paso, I had my first contact with the Little Blue Books. Another hobo was reading one, and when he finished he gave it to me. 

"The Little Blue Books were a godsend to wandering men and no doubt to many others. Published in Girard, Kansas, by Haldeman-Julius, they were slightly larger than a playing card and had sky-blue paper covers with heavy black print titles. I believe there were something more than three thousand titles in all and they were sold on newsstands for 5 or 10 cents each. Often in the years following, I carried ten or fifteen of them in my pockets, reading when I could. 

"Among the books available were the plays of Shakespeare, collections of short stories by De Maupassant, Poe, Jack London, Gogol, Gorky, Kipling, Gautier, Henry James, and Balzac. There were collections of essays by Voltaire, Emerson, and Charles Lamb, among others. 

"There were books on the history of music and architecture, painting, the principles of electricity; and, generally speaking, the books offered a wide range of literature and ideas. I do not recall exactly, but I believe the first Blue Book given me on that freight train was Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

from "A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig"

The swine-herd, Ho-ti . . . left his cottage in the care of his eldest son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his age commonly are, let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly, spread the conflagration over every part of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes . . . . While he was thinking what he should say to his father, and wringing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of those untimely sufferers, an odour assailed his nostrils, unlike any scent which he had before experienced. What could it proceed from ? — not from the burnt cottage — he had smelt that smell before . . .  Much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed, or flower. A premonitory moistening at the same time overflowed his nether lip. He knew not what to think. He next stooped down to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in it. He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them in his booby fashion to his mouth. Some of the crums of the scorched skin had come away with his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in the world's life indeed, for before him no man had known it) he tasted — crackling! 
•   •   •
Nothing but fires from this time forward.
•   •   •
There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, crackling, as it is well called — the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance — with the adhesive oleaginous — O call it not fat — but an indefinable sweetness growing up to it — the tender blossoming of fat — fat cropped in the bud — taken in the shoot — in the first innocence — the cream and quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure food — the lean, no lean, but a kind of animal manna — or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) so blended and running into each other, that both together make but one ambrosian result, or common substance.
•   •   •
How equably he twirleth round the string! . . . .  I make my stand upon pig.
•   •   •
I remember an hypothesis, argued upon by the young students, when I was at St. Omer's, and maintained with much learning and pleasantry on both sides, "Whether, supposing that the flavour of a pig who obtained his death by whipping (per flagellationem extremam) superadded a pleasure upon the palate of a man more intense than any possible suffering we can conceive in the animal, is man justified in using that method of putting the animal to death ?" 

I forget the decision.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The murmuring of Bees, has ceased
But murmuring of some
Posterior, prophetic,
Has simultaneous come.
The lower metres of the Year
When Nature's laugh is done
The Revelations of the Book
Whose Genesis was June.
Appropriate Creatures to her change
The Typic Mother sends
As Accent fades to interval
With separating Friends
Till what we speculate, has been
And thoughts we will not show
More intimate with us become
Than Persons, that we know.

I shall not murmur if at last
The ones I loved below
Permission have to understand
For what I shunned them so --
Divulging it would rest my Heart
But it would ravage theirs --
Why, Katie, Treason has a Voice --
But mine -- dispels -- in Tears.