Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still Alive

Between working again and catching up with some homies, I haven't blogged.  Sorry.  But sometimes quiet is where it's at.

Got to chill a bit with vocalist-extraordinaire Danny Richards, and was stoked to learn that his Dolce Voce all natural throat spray is available.  If you strain your voice after hours of singing, teaching, or doing a whole lotta readings, please check it out.  

There's more to talk about, but in a little bit.

Projects at hand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tech Highs and Lows

Max is weighing in a disappointment with his technology. I understand, and if my own processes depended on speed, I'd be right there with him.  As it stands, I still collect manual typewriters, so I'm moving a bit in the opposite direction.

In that respect, quick tip for Vespa owners:

If you carry around the 2% Oil Mix Cup and are tired of having to stuff it with rags, or keep it in a sloppy bag where all the 2-stroke oil residue gets all over, a Number 10 Rubber Stopper is a perfect fit.  One could also be acquired in your local High School Chemistry taxes at work.

(The beautiful housing for the Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park, San Diego)

Just sayin'.  Liberty, NY, have you voted for Vespa yet?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vote Xiantu!

If you want to spread the word, here's the link to get the code to put it on your own page.

What Work...

First, Tonight, Friday:


Max is meditating on work.  It's a list of questions I'm asking myself often lately, as things happen as they do and my desires might be to spend my days differently than I do now.  I'm not going to answer his questions aloud.  I'm sure you'll arrive where you need to with them.

It gets me thinking about not just the process of work, but the process of finding work.  In a sense, it's a job in itself: crafting resume, cover letter; navigating the online application softwares various places now use; if you're looking for teaching, you've got a stack of letters somewhere and have to ask someone to send those out for you.  Then there's the waiting: most jobs in teaching seem to want the materials in October or November, and maybe they'll get back to you by April or May.  Even the average administrative gig's process can take two or three months.  Nevermind the task those who review those must undertake.  Like I said, it's a job...a process.

I'd rather be painting than have a finished painting on my wall.  I am more fulfilled in the time it takes between starting and finishing a poem than I am in the time between sending the poem out and having it published.  The process is paramount to the finished piece.  Just as we create art through a process, is there art in the process of finding the work?  

I spoke with "my attorney" yesterday, who's sent about 500 cover letters, where in the first sentence he intended to write "public," apparently had the word "pubic."  It humbled him, made himself laugh to tears, as the biggest firms in Manhattan, he believes, have his letter set aside as an example of what not to send.  The humor's there, the laugher, is wonderful.  His sense of humiliation, I hope, passes as it doesn't seem productive.  He told me about his typo, and I remembered the old lesson that there are no mistakes in art.

Is it possible that that missing "l" is exactly what his artist process needed?  I believe if that detail kept him from getting into any of those firms, those jobs where not were he can best serve.  The goal, perhaps, is to get the job, but that is just as important as doing the job.  If the job has called to you.  If you perform your job with faith and grace.  

Deep within Max's post, we're reminded that, regardless of your actual profession, we are always in process.  Challenges that are our opportunities.  If you work, why?  If not, do you use that time to work on the interior life?  

Here's the first poem in Stephen Dunn's Different Hours:

Before the Sky Darkens

Sunsets, incipient storms, the tableaus
of melancholy--maybe those are
the Saturday night-events
to take your best girl to.  At least then
there might be moments of vanishing beauty
before the sky darkens,
and the expectation of happiness
would hardly exist
and therefore might be possible.

More and more you learn to live
with the unacceptable.
You sense the ever-hidden God
retreating even farther,
terrified or embarrassed.
You might was well be a clown,
big silly clothes, no evidence of desire.  

That's how you feel, say on a Tuesday.
Then out of the daily wreckage
comes an invitation
with your name on it.  Or more likely,
that best girl of yours offers you,
once again, a small local kindness.

You open your windows to good air
blowing in from who you knows where,
which you gulp and deeply inhale
as if you have a death sentence.  You have.
All your life, it seems, you've been appealing it.
Night sweats and useless strategem. Reprieves.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Makes me Smile

Adam Clay finds Bob Dylan finding what just might be a poem.  

Max Xiantu lays it out clear.  Long, bright and narrow: the path.

Mary's finding a healthier way to be.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Conversion from VNB to VBB

Meanwhile, we ride again! 
Not in the same context at all:
The details for revitalizing the electrical system of a 1959 Vespa 125 (VNB):

The old stator plate:
The black bundle at the top is the coil (the thing that takes the tiny spark from the points just to the right above the copper at 3 o'clock, and juices it up) has the line that goes to the spark plug.  They don't make 'em like this any more.

Luckily, somehow, this engine has the bracket to hold an external coil.  I'm kinda passively researching why that is.  My sense is that this baby was made toward the tail-end of 1959, and so some of the features wholly embraced in 1960, trickled in a little early.  It's similar to the 1974 1/2 MGBs.  But let's focus on one ridiculously tiny vehicle at a time.  

Here's the new set up:

The marking I've put there show Top-Dead-Center in the single-cylinder rotation, and as close to exactly 25 degrees before TDC.  The idea is that at -25, the points are still closed, but then, inside of that 25 degrees of the 360 rotation, they open up, and that gap makes the tiny spark.

We adjust that gap via these long windows in the ignition disc.

Alas, even though I used a feeler gauge, I initially set the gap way too big, so the spark was getting lost in the air between the points.  No spark. So no explosion, and no run.

Seeing as how I've never done this before (and the points in the MG were converted to an electronic system, which can't be done on the Vespa because the MG has a constant battery, and the Vespa is battery-less)  we've made new friends.  Both of us.

Scooter Bottega in Brooklyn is the place to go, if you've hit your wall and can ask for some help.  And look, my Vespa's made some friends:

And it seems peer pressure works.  The mechanic, Robbie, spent a little over an hour with it, and that was all it needed.  He explained to me how it went, and I feel a little smarter about them than I did before.  I took it for a zip around the giant parking lot across from my pop's place--the same lot I drove my MG around for the first time over 11 years ago.  

- Clean the contacts on the light. update: find tiny screws
- Oil the throttle. 
- Check the horn. update: needs replacin'. 
- Watch the Jets at 1pm. update: Won.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

...It's good?

This is the kind of thinking that's missing.  

You know the people who will be considered "Masters" of the art made of language when they resent having to even engage in the creative process.  You know the  "Scholars" who don't feel it necessary to read the actual text they're aggressively arguing their opinions of.

We know when we're wrong in thought, action, intention.  We're obligated to drop defense and forgive ourselves.  It is part of the art, that grace, which is also the reflection of Divinity in our humanity.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

For the New Yorkers

2009 NYFA Artists' Fellowship Applications are due next week!
All applicants must create and submit an application online. Application materials must be submitted and postmarked by midnight on the due date of your category. 

 Deadlines for each category are as follows:

October 6, 2008
Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts

October 8, 2008
Nonfiction Literature

October 10, 2008
Digital/Electronic Arts
Interdisciplinary Work


Artists' Fellowships are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. Grants are awarded in 16 artistic disciplines, with applications accepted in eight categories each year. Since the awards began in 1985, NYFA has awarded over $22 million to over 3,688 artists. In 2008, NYFA awarded 136 Fellowships to 144 artists, with eight of them working in a collaboration. Please see NYFA's website, for a full description of the program and for directions on how to apply.

Click here to access the online application.


For questions about Artists' Fellowships contact
The 2009 Artists' Fellowships are administered with leadership support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


poetryguy said...

It's kind of like how the world's best writers are all baristas... I guess. Your blog's a trip.

In the interest of considering spaces like this forums for constructive dialogue, I'm just making the new post to promote conversation that seems pretty important, rather than have it buried in an older post.

Thank you again, anonymous "poetryguy," for your appreciation of this space. However, I'm going to have to disagree that the best writers been baristas. Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company; William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician; Li-Young Lee's been a worker in a warehouse for years until recently; Bob Hicok (one of the most published writers today) had some kind of automotive shop until recently. These people had, and have skills beyond being wonderful writers, and those skills, more than likely, feed back into their writing. Even the Beats, who probably are responsible for the origins of this misconception, weren't baristas--Kerouac had many different professions, if not a pretty good career as a working writer; Ginsberg was a successful writer and then professor, and Burroughs came from wealth to support his successful writing. Most people who work in a coffee shop, unless they own or manage that shop, are there as a job, not a permanent vocation, and that's what I was attempting to get at. The thing is--in the last 30 years at least--that most of the "world's best" end up getting offered positions in academia, getting paid far more money than what they were to teach maybe a class or two a semester. Unfortunately we live in a country that doesn't support or subsidize their fine artists. Refer back to Max's initial post regarding "cultured, polished stuff." And teaching is wonderful if you can put your entire Self into it while the writing comes, and I'm not sure as many who are employed actually do. But my sense is that we can produce exceptional poetry while also serving society and the world in other capacities. That'll bring us the intentions when creating art, but I'll think about that and maybe toss in my two cents another day. Or maybe Max can offer an idea....

This Just In

Gary's up at Po' Daily.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Needle's Landing

It's on Friday.  JoeMama and Rez are worth seeing, a pleasure to promote, and an honor to know.  

Max is considering pop music lately.  You get over to it yet?  


I don't keep up in the way I used to with music (did you know I was a "Music Industry" major before learning how to read?).  I tend to buy one or two CDs a year, and those are usually by bands/artist I've come to depend on, like the Dandy Warhols or Tom Waits. Really, I get regular audio-fixes from SGM, take those in with the oldies or folk music on the radio.  What does any of this have to do with anything?  Well, it leads me to believe that, though I'm not a patient person in most situations, I seem to be fine giving new stuff time to sink in.  

I put music on in the background.  I click play, then do other things like reading, writing, doodling, whatever.  It'll take a while to make up my mind about it.  I think what Max is getting at is not what's happened to the excellent pop music, but what happened to the excellent pop music that seamlessly makes the transition to some kind of dependable classic status, al a Michael Jackson or the Beatles?  It seems to me that an album that came out last week and seems to blow might be pretty interesting in a year or so when the musical landscape it was released within has changed.  Examples for me are the Warhol's Welcome To The Monkey House, or Take London by Herbaliser.  One day, after the context's changed, the content has a way of resonating like it didn't before.

Isn't poetry the same way?  How many books did you pick up at AWP, and how many were really good when you read the in the hotel the next morning while your roommate was still passed out, but seem to have lost some luster in the last 9 months (you could have had a kid by now...some people you might know have).  Or how many were impossible on the flight home, but have since wrapped you up for at least a few nights?  And some were weak then, and are weak now.  Every art seems to have it's pop stars.  Re-play value.  

Reading journals feels like listening to the new top 40 radio station.  I listen to a lot of lacking attempts on the radio in hopes of hearing a song that makes me move.  I read journals for the same exact reason.  The album to buy is the book you'll pick up soon.  

For music, I trust the good DJ to dig up the old stuff I thought I'd never miss--or missed all together--and let it move me.  I don't know if there's a place for that kind of trust and confidence for the poems.  Which I think just means we'll have to keep our eyes open for ourselves.

A little somethin' from the ol' school, some early Milton

On The University Carrier

Who Sicken'd in the Time of his Vacancy, Being Forbid to go to London, By Reasons of the Plague

Here lies old Hobson, Death hath broke his girt,
And here, alas, hath laid him in the dirt, 
Or else the ways being foul, twenty to one,
He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.
'Twas such a shifter, that if truth were known,
Death was half glad when he had got him down; 
For he had any time this ten years full,
Dodg'd with him, betwixt Cambridge and the Bull.
And surely, Death could never have prevail'd,
Had not his weekly course of carriage fail'd;
But lately finding him so long at home,
And thinking now his journey's end was come,
And that he had ta'en up his latest Inn,
In the kind office of a Chamberlain
show'd him his room where he must lodge that night,
Pull'd off his Boots, and took away the light:
If any ask for him, it shall be said,
  "Hobson has supt, and 's newly gone to bed.

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