07.31.02 meu nome e gal

i've acquired a lot of poetry in the last month. sizing up editors, envying the occasional "first time in print" authors, and so on. the last piece in zyzzyva, a journal that intimidates me and yet manages to seem benign, is a series of cover letters from their rejection pile. their amusement value isn't always readily apparent, and that worries me.
I am the former managing editor of Eastern Washington University's literary journal, Willow Springs, and more recently a waiter at Bread Loaf.

- DL, seattle

Since you state that "cover letters are of minimal importance", I will with relief keep mine short and to the point. I don't have any credits anyway.

- SC, alabama

As a man in my mid-twenties, I have been exposed to enough social, economical, and political stimuli to sustain ideas for a hundred-year writing career. I have seen misdirection of responsibility and selfishness to such proportions that you feel humiliated for others, but I have seen compassion and growth to match.

- WN, portland

that final one makes me titter, actually.

my own mail is awfully nice - both lukas and enjelani sent heartening things after my adventures with the weblog review. we like them. which reminds me - ray is as engaging in person as he is online; paul and i spent a lovely afternoon with him in berkeley a few weeks ago.

the YES YOKO ONO exhibit at the moma was fairly lackluster. i intended to gain respect for conceptual art - bet ten dollars on it, in fact - and was disappointed. "amaze", a series of plexiglas walls surrounding a toilet, knocked two or three museum-goers to the floor while i was in the room. i'd like to think that the slip-and-falls were planned with the piece - it would have been considerably more interesting than the twenty white chess sets or the eerie videos of john and yoko's bed-in. john lennon, by the by, looked utterly joyless throughout the collection (there were several lengthy videos of his face, his toes, and so on). radical pacifism is kind of creepy.

feminism, on the other hand, was a big old party at ladyfest last week. screenings and concerts we caught were generally amateur, but i mean that in the best possible way - hooray for girls who are unpretentious, loud, and excited about their art. the thought of leaving san francisco actually saddened me for a few days. i know events like these are slowly popping up around the country, but it's nice to be in the right place at the right time.


as expected, acquaintances have been kind to my site. it began as a stunt double, standing in for phone calls i meant to make and e-mail i meant to send. ambition ended there, really - friends check in for a bit of my day, and the occasional stranger gets bored and moves on. no surprises.

i've avoided sweeping pronouncements; politics and religion are certainly part of my life, but they tend to ruin dinner parties. i dislike rants. strike that: i adore rants, but i've attended to the notion that one should pick apart small things rather than skate across great things. write what you know, ad nauseam.

i figured i was due for a kicking from a stranger - kidchamp lacks a comment box, so i sought punishment from the weblog review. ask and you shall receive -
...the blog lacked capital letters. I expected to find the introspective scribblings of a semi-literate teenager. My tearing hand reached to my hair.

I found nothing interesting, funny or gripping in the actual content. It's a personal journal that would sit happily on the hard drive. It does not speak to the audience, it appears to be oblivious to the audience, and there are references to places, events and people that have no meaning to strangers. There is no attempt to explain and no sense of a personality behind the blog. Her actual use of English is of high standard - non-capitalisation apart. However, she does tend to use colloquialisms which are near unintelligible to me (I am a foreigner), and which, I suspect, are an unconscious imitation of the books she reads. Many of her entries refer to the books she read, but, like many of the other entries, require a prior knowledge to appreciate. I was struck [sic] by her seeming existence in a vacuum, with no reference to the outside world, that I searched for her September 11th entry. That only proved how trite and insular she is.


I would strongly recommend not visiting this site. The target audience is Lauren, and, possibly Joe and Paul. That's it. The writer is highly proficient in sentence construction, and I would be happy for her to write reports for work, but that does not make her a writer. There is nothing excrutiatingly [sic] awful about the site but very little of any merit.
as expected, the review amused the hell out of me; i do feel guilty, however, about soliciting formal criticism for an expressly casual site. i'm also tired of being so conversational that i don't make sense. my breakfasts are lovely, but they've probably received all of the attention they deserve.

i like the idea of comments, and i like the idea of an About page; expect them. i also like the idea of a larger audience; i'll try to earn it by treating kidchamp as Real Writing.

i'm tempted to write to my reviewer; i responded to september 11th with a ted hughes poem and a david foster wallace passage. ah yes, but i didn't explain what i was doing. more on that later.


Keep a dream notebook in which, on awakening, you record whatever fragments or scenes you can recall. Do this over a period of two or three weeks, or longer.

Not every dream will be useful.

01. whistle of a drill from an unidentifiable direction
02. dry hiss of tinnitis
03. sediment in a mug of tea
04. san judas tadeo translated hastily, the product a fifth of its source
05. mustachioed praying mantis
06. rolls against my back and nudges me awake, signaling the crisis that will consume the day
07. bare cobs the size of crocuses
08. convincing an antique to lend its history to the apartment's bare cheapness
09. spectre of ancient Pacific swallowed by taquerias
10. vendors with freshly iced churros sweating in the sun
11. and television taught itself a dozen new languages while I was asleep
12. the cats blinking awake as I pronounce their names, their cries an approximation of their names for me
13. a catastrophe in satin
14. platform shoes chuckling on the sidewalk
15. specific sadnesses
16. evolution of the modern hat rack
17. a boy with a port wine stain, a woman with a deviated septum
18. a warm valve packed into ice and papered against the wall
19. bubobs unsatisfactory in the mirror
20. i drip with conviction
21. useless profusion
22. my proud father hammering analogies into the table
23. a grim equation of serotonin and bile
24. a great bolus of years I can regurgitate on command
25. lonely ghosts disappear through the walls of the garage
26. the year's early thaw coursing through the gutter in clear streams
27. he pauses with the assumption that he will be interrupted
28. promises hanging crazily like laundry from washpins
29. a foreigner wraps his tongue around new slang
30. thin voices naming obstacles
31. studied eccentricity of a packed hall
32. the tragedy of my dream secondary to his breakfast
33. a mortar board wrinkling between electric bills and postcards from Europe
34. cable car squeals down the hill, tourists clinging to its sides like joeys
35. discipline is posture, is schedule, is a daily affirmation of the probability of greatness
36. inquisitors snatching refugees from the sea and stoking a great belief in causality
37. the eucalyptus leaves scissoring the air
38. quotations and pop broadsheets
39. ripples in the crowd as an alarm shrieks from the automatic toilet
40. as the sky blossoms in every direction
41. light of the great flowers reflected in the bellies of skyscrapers
42. hymns rise in my throat for a nation that clings to secular wonders
43. a cactus that learns to tap its neighbors' roots
44. waxy fingers clutching the edge of a strawberry crate
45. milk curdled into dirty clouds
46. fruit flies humming above a bag of apples
47. wrinkled like forgotten babies
48. a tourist rattling at his camera
49. the plane disgorging us like a pelican
50. a raccoon with wide eyes and wrinkled hands
51. the bland necessity of groceries

holy shit, i dream in bad poetry! automatic writing rocks!

both-eyes-open-lights-on stuff has been considerably more successful. our parade of guests have tapered off for a little while - i think jake will be dropping in for ladyfest next week, but the soldeveres / osters / kerschen / erwins / osters run is over. i'm lonely, and the apartment sure does look nice when we have visitors, but getting back to the notebook is probably a good thing.

- and i'll be updating. no, really.

07.10.02 just to watch him die

we also commemorated the hottest day of the summer by making a big ol' pot of pumpkin and tomato bisque. to our aid came one crescent dragonwagon, the creator of a dubious soup and bread cookbook.
Combine flour and water, from which we crawled, of which we are largely made, and without which we cannot live. Add salt-of-the-earth, just a bit; salt for savor, for soul, the sharp and dangerous mineral wrested from nature yet part of nature, a rock that can be eaten, which dissolves in water only to return, unchanged and crystalline, when the water evaporates. Add yeasts, airborne vegetal travelers, which themselves make the dough "travel" (and where? Up into the air, of course!).
my mother footnoted the book with observations on individual recipes (Good w/cheese, but looks like vomit).

acquired johnny cash at folsom prison, get rhythm & story songs of the trains and rivers, and pink lemonade as paul napped. fine substitutes for air conditioning.

today we rendezvous with ray / bellona times in berkeley. onward, christian soldiers -
07.09.02 all that's right with our great country

Paul here again, using the shift key and advising everyone to go read Ian McEwan's Atonement pronto. The prose is so good that I cannot quote the prose to demonstrate how good it is. It is far too subtle. Also, I left the book in Reno. But it was a terrible shock to move from that to American Pastoral, 25% of which I read on the Amtrak coming down here. So far I don't know. Very little is happening, and the things that do happen are buried under four stomachs' worth of rumination. (Trenchant and considered rumination, to be sure, but I really dislike essays masquerading as narrative.) It doesn't bother me that Roth feels compelled to put a circle jerk in his idyllic 1950s America—I mean, you expect that sort of thing from the man—but it's a bad sign that said circle jerk, which takes all of two sentences, is actually one of the more memorable events so far. We'll see. Frank Conroy claims it's the best American novel since The Great Gatsby, so maybe Roth's just been clearing his throat so far.

Singing Scrabble: you put down a word, you sing part of a song containing that word. It's harder than you think, and sometimes it leads to inelegancies like "Qat Scratch Fever," and it requires you to drink a lot of red wine so that the next day, when you are in the Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch, your head abruptly folds on itself and your stomach, thrown off balance, tries to reject the tabouleh you've been giving it and for the next three hours you can only lie on the couch and drink tapwater. This requires a change in plans, for I must be a hardy young man to sleep on the beach this weekend.