rainer maria, long knives drawn. as tom predicted, an excellent driving album - provided that you plan to be in the car for about thirty minutes. the final track is slow and lovely - a post-script to liz phair's "divorce song" - but it won't set you down in a vivacious place. i get the impression that caithlin de marrais is / has been cohabitating with someone for a long time; this album recalls the fatal fifth year we used to rap about at the spca, the year when a couple decides if they like what's ossified. excellent lyrics, then (excepting "the imperatives" - "monastery / ...our pockets empty" doesn't work for me). more importantly, caithlin has one of the most unique vocal styles i've encountered in indie rock - an impressive range, and wacky inflection. marry it, marry it, marry it.

from deirdre bair's samuel beckett biography:
Once when [Beckett's mother] saw a tinker beating a pathetic half-starved donkey, she abandoned her usual reticence and upbraided him vehemently in the middle of a crowded public road. When the tinker paid no attention to her curses and imprecations, she bought the donkey on the spot, took him home and kept him for years.

The donkey, named Kisch by her sons, was supposed to stay on the part of the grounds that was wild and wooded. May loved Kisch dearly and sent to nearby Bray for the finest trappings from a shop that specialized in elaborate harnesses and expensive equipment. However, Kisch, who was both independent and stupid, grew stubborn as he grew old and refused to stay where May wanted him, preferring the succulent morsels in her garden instead. After several forays into her prize strawberry bushes, she tearfully gave him to a mountain man in nearby Wicklow. Poor Kisch came to a bad end when he wandered into a turnip patch and ate so many that he quite literally blew up when his stomach burst.

so we're watching the 1978 version of invasion of the body snatchers. we thought we had the original, but the video store still hates us (see jen's comments on coming home with corky romano instead of donnie darko). 'sokay, since i have a soft spot for san francisco disaster movies (see towering inferno, the birds, so i married an axe murderer). surprisingly, it's a winner - we couldn't get rid of the closed captioning, so the scary pod person shrieks came out as much scarier OoOoO!s, and we had the pleasure of canine-man hybrid lines written as "HARRY-DOG: Get them!". True Art hit when we'd pause the dvd and see snippets of news coverage on the critical mass rally downtown. i don't wish to compare them to aliens, but they do get a bit shaky when they conflate their right to free speech with rights to a captive audience. i'd like the mayor to quit bitching about demonstrations taxing the city and issue a few assembly permits for union square.

mmm, groupthink.


and then there's the issue of segues. how does one complain about political climates and the pain associated with cutting nails too short and stubbing fingers on everything? perhaps i should have stuck with my internship - those folks wove disparate concepts into hulking theme issues like nobody's business. then again, they needed help with development rather than the editorial department; i'm not especially good at acquiring money. and the leaving for new york in a month, hmm.

on the advent of grad school applications:
Ques. Why will not the neophyte develop greater strength by meeting and overcoming the experiences and difficulties of the world than by a life shielded from those influences, as afforded by the Colony?

Ans. We would not under any circumstances present an argument for the purpose of convincing one of the necessity of an associate effort, in order to reach the highest goal of human attainment; for by doing so, persons who have not reached a point of preparation for such a movement might be led to seek admission. It has been known in all history of the world's mystics that it is not for the neophyte to be taken out of, and shielded from the world's influences until he has succeeded in overcoming them in all essential points; but the fact that all mystics have had such places and conditions for the neophyte argues that there is a necessity for them, for a time, at least.

(the esoteric, vol. ix no. 6, dec. 1895)

chez us, we interrupt war coverage for episodes of buffy the vampire slayer (and joe's occasional food tv lapses, but that's not the point). when i have angst to spare for things that don't really matter, i gnash my teeth over the upcoming series finale - o show, my show... and i'm wondering about the future of that niche market, those of us who tune in for little else. couldn't we explain to sarah michelle gellar that she's unlikely to flourish anywhere else? can the scooby doo and you'll keep right on paying for that summer people be offering her that much more than mutant enemy does? sure, she may squeeze out a few teen comedies and an occasional sitcom cameo, but soon enough, her life will be sci fi convention hell. alyson hannigan and nicholas brendan are already warming up on the folding table circuit.

much as i hate to admit it, buffy probably owes much of its staying power to the social goth demographic. i was right behind salon when they praised episodes like "the body", and umpteen sunnydale moments have moved me to tears, but 1) i cry for long distance commercials and 2) if creator joss whedon truly has the magic touch, why do firefly and (to a lesser extent) angel tank so miserably? because vampirism has the beefiest staying power in the history of popular horror, and buffy studs it with tee-hee references that function like electrodes for hapless twentysomething frog legs. it's difficult to move merchandise with those customers - though stewart bought the hot wheels replicas that once, no one's clamoring for tee shirts and posters - but some of us sit through commercials so as not to miss those "scenes from the next..." blurbs. i'll mention that at a convention someday.


how much are you paying for the war? calculates your taxes' contribution to the campaign in iraq
(paul's design, and an eloquent idea).


as predicted, "bowling for columbine"'s michael moore tried to raise a ruckus at the academy awards. like tom, i appreciate what he does - but he could have been loud and compelling. given that his fellow documentarians joined him on the stage for his acceptance, i'm thinking they had time to put their heads together on a hearty sound bite for the winning artist. adrien brody, by contrast, had his shit together. as for nicole kidman - i hope for her sake that she was profoundly drunk.

i can't really empathize with friends who fear for their personal safety as the war wears on. they have every right to be concerned, of course, and it's possible that i'm being naive in assuming that violence on the domestic front is unlikely. and no, i'm not in new york or washington; no one's suggested that i collect dry goods. that said, i doubt that my feelings will change when i move to manhattan in a month. here's the thing: i refuse to allow fear to compromise my judgment. i don't mean to go all conspiracy-wacky, but i think a lot of americans would be more likely to attend to the particulars of this campaign if the administration cut back on saturating its press releases with "links" between iraqi freedom and the war on terror. if our safety is relevant, it's relevant in the sense that we have a history of making spectacular messes in the middle east and coming home without tidying up. folks on the street in iraq don't seem too pleased to see us, president bush. focus on that, eh? i'll take care of myself.


on the president's address thursday:
President Bush announced the attack in a four-minute television speech to the nation. "On my order, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war," he said. "These are the opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign."

Minutes before the speech, an internal television monitor showed the president pumping his fist. "Feels good," he said.
lord knows i'm no stranger to the unflattering snapshot, but i'd liken george's moment to lewinskygate: you're going to get caught doing something, but did it have to be that?


when it became apparent that our turtle didn't appreciate large piles of rocks in his tank, i arranged the surplus on the kitchen floor.


why does the floor say SEX?
why shouldn't it?


that's very nice, champ.
thank you.


that's very sweet.
i'm not finished, go away.



on a lighter note, our allies at slithy tove are helping to inflict one of my poems on boise next week. it's about the prettiest girl in my victorian lit & culture class (why oh why didn't i ask her to go see velvet goldmine with me?). many thanks to jen for her matchmaking.

the television has been claiming for the last few minutes that war brings out the best in people - i don't see how that's possible. i think yesterday's cop convention bothered me because 1) i generally respect the police: it's unfortunate when they live up to their caricatures, and 2) some of the rallies certainly were in poor taste. it's more difficult to make a case for civil disobedience when Pukers For Peace are booting on the steps of city hall. tom informs me that protesters in madison planned their activities with the authorities, and their arrests were actually prearranged - while i applaud that sort of cooperation, it makes me sad.

then there's the matter of clear channel's organizing counterrallies. it's fine to tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree, but these are the same folks who suppressed war-related music after 9/11 and coordinated dixie chicks CD torchings after natalie whatshername criticized bush in london. i'm as angry about their "landslide" cover as the next person, but the corporation doth protest too much.


war - what's this one good for?
This isn't the start of World War III, it's the start of World War I - a very stupid war, started thanks to a tangle of alliances, national pride and personal egos involved. It never had to happen. And - again with the irony - WWI is the war that brought the world to this point, spawning the League of Nations, the failure of which led to World War II and the later creation of the United Nations and the Security Council. It also saw the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Kingdom of Iraq. And let's not forget the use of chemical weapons - allegedly the reason for the great big army in the desert. It was a war that embodied the Law of Unintended Consequences.

I promised I wouldn't make predictions about the start of the war, so perhaps I can make one about the end of it. When it's over and the dust has settled, the United States will stand supreme in the world, powerful but hated, its boot on the throat of Iraq. The international frameworks built over the last 50 years, including the United Nations, will lie in ruins or will be about to collapse. Resentful young men, hearts full of fear, hate and Allah will find refuge and a raison d'etre as explosive martyrs. The world will be less safe - for everyone. And thousands of people - soldiers, civilians, innocent or not - will be dead. And for no good reason at all.


i was reading an article this morning about retrofitting some of the larger buildings in the financial district - the reporter didn't quite say that entrances were modified to limit protesters' access, but the implication was strong. they did mention that demonstration protocols overlapped with earthquake safety - i found that rather interesting. get under a table and ride it out - that sort of thing just happens here.

joe and i found ourselves in the middle of an SFPD convention at a coffeehouse downtown, maybe an hour after most of the marchers' arrests. i don't usually identify with demonstrators, but these officers were throwing back frappuccinos and talking about kids they'd tempted from the sidewalk and hauled away. what should i have done there? what would you do?


Cinquains: Vigils Aren't His Style

aren't his style -
big words, little movement -
I see his point, but he's thinking

I think
he needs to watch
his neighbors push birthday
candles through Dixie cups, to watch
their hands

catch fire
a hundred times,
a thousand times: the hue
is unlike anything outside
the womb.

to hold an egg
before a flame, to see
an embryo or an omelette.
Inch of


an old form of
(when one could repent in the hour
it burned).

cells reassert
themselves. We remember
the body and we prefer it

The Dead Do Not Want Us Dead

The dead do not want us dead;
such petty errors are left for the living.
Nor do they want our mourning.
No gift to them--not rage, not weeping.
Return one of them, any one of them, to the earth,
and look: such foolish skipping,
such telling of bad jokes, such feasting!
Even a cucumber, even a single anise seed: feasting.

(Jane Hirshfield)


the slow ooze to new york is underway; if we can seal the deal on a friend-of-friend's sublet, we'll be in new york 1 may - 15 august. employment for may would be nice, if you know anyone. will consider nudity if the scene calls for it.

modern worry #275, if you're into that sort of thing: you're not so lucky to have that dry cleaner across the street, and it wasn't a good idea to purchase butter and breast milk from the market next door.

breast milk in general is political stuff. it's a logical choice for chemical body burden testing, but parenting groups hate the idea of accidentally demonizing the almighty teat. i got a sense of that at a bookstore job several summers ago when la leche (no, really) members bared themselves all over the place to test our adherence to a public suckling law. good times.

craig the baby turtle is basking like a rock star: he's abandoned the traditional terrapin-as-hood-ornament pose for a ballet stance (rear leg parallel to his shell, clawed toes pointed artfully). i recommend house-turtles, salmonella or no - they're terribly peaceful. hoping airlines will think so as well, as i'd rather not sublet him for the summer.


vigils 'round the globe tomorrow evening; find a gathering with your zip code.


excellent show down at bimbo's last night. mike skinner is the UK's answer to gwen stefani in terms of crowd control - he poured drinks for the front rows ("peace, love, and brandy") and invented a winning melody for "i left my heart in san francisco". he might have booked a larger venue, but we appreciated proximity to the dive bar / curry house across the street. johnny cash and belle & sebastian complement naan quite well.

note to self on recreating walks home from the pub and kebab: england is flat.


so the press is chasing my father and his fiancee around town. would he be willing to strip off a series of tees with political slogans, a la REM's michael stipe at an MTV awards show? doubtful, but it would be infinitely titillating to see an AP photo with emperor ed in a SMUSH BUSH shirt. if you can spare iron-on letters or have a good google bomb in mind, let me know.

like that, drama is coming to an end. donna and dad are very happy, and mom has re-entered society with a splash - think (the beginning of) the portrait of a lady. blah blah, family details - but this business has been horrible for the last few years, especially for her. it's indescribable to see everyone smile again.


courtesy of ms. gaw's magic fingers,

Take this quiz!

Which Humor Troubles the Disposition of YOUR Body?

A sanguine personality is joyous, quick to laugh, pursues music and the arts, and has a passionate disposition. He is lusty and generous and full of semen.

This potentially dangerous imbalance can be treated with Leaches - by drawing off a portion of Sanguinous Mass through phlebotomy. More conservatively, a manurning libido can be quenched by a cool food such as lettuce. Acid foods are a counter-acting agent, while sweet foods can intensify the imbalance and should be avoided.
Elvis Costello didn't record many covers in the early part of his career, but the ones that he did commit to wax he made his own, and his version of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" stands as a perfect example. Lowe first cut the song while a member of the band Brinsley Schwartz; with an arrangement that sounded like a souped-up approximation of the Byrds, it came off as a sad, bittersweet elegy to the hippie era, which was quickly fading into the sunset. Costello's version first emerged as the surprise B-side to the British single of Lowe's "American Squirm" (credited to Nick Lowe and His Sound), and received its greatest circulation as the closing track to the American edition of Armed Forces. But where Brinsley Schwartz's version sounded like a farewell to the era of flower power, Costello addressed his version to a world that was teetering on the edge of a new cold war threatening to turn deadly; here, "Peace, Love, and Understanding" was no mere catchphrase, but a desperate call for sanity in a world prepared to blow itself up. Costello and his band tore into the song with a passionate ferocity that was rare even for one of the most solid and hard-driving pop acts of their day. If the original was a farewell hymn, in Costello's hands "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" became a wake-up call, and no one who heard it could escape the urgency of its message.

never thought i'd see the song performed; on the late show tonight, it felt like the last sign of the apocalypse.

elvis costello, sing to my president (please).


art frahm: a study of the effects of celery on loose elastic.

The leafy stalks that presage humiliation. Hasn't she learned anything? DON'T BUY CELERY if you have pink underwear!


do-it-yourself ice rinks are not what they were. the beauties in today's times magazine looked like professional jobs, but for their edges of yards and homes. my grandfather was in the mood to tell stories last week - in 1950, a rink involved scalding bathtubs to thaw the garden hose, sharing "about a quart of whiskey" with each of the neighbors, and a grainy news photo of grandma making wobbly figure eights. i was going to ask about the photo, but the story exhausted him: he climbed into his motorized chair and waved, spiraling up the staircase into the ceiling. those chairs were a commercial staple between game shows in britain - nearly as funny as the old "i've fallen and i can't get up" spots. har har. his pacemaker is due to run out in the next thirty days and he refuses a replacement; i might never see him again.

one of my accepted pieces is a series about grandpa - an ambivalent, angry sketch about falling apart, or falling apart watching him. when i'm feeling snooty, i think that balling seven fragments together was an accurate snapshot of the process. when i get around to guilt, i think of how he's always been proud of me, of how hard it would be to explain that the poem's messiness is supposed to indicate that i love him.

it won't appear for a year.


i've got to find a tiara for our postal worker - four of my poems accepted today.
holy shit.


the yard is copulating: a pair of amorous flies just attempted to land on my knee, and i have suspicions about the rustles down the hill. the yard has not been reading thomas hardy, or it would know better. i was aware that jude the obscure is a tragedy, but i had no idea that sue bridehead's last pregnancy would end in a children's hour murder-suicide; just now, i've reached the bit in tess of the d'urbervilles where the love-child is christened SORROW and promptly expires. i might have preferred the pre-1912 edition of the story - the version where, for the delicate eyes of his magazine audience, hardy skips over tess's violation altogether. this "intact" version isn't exactly lurid; one wonders how sex, implied primarily in the phases' transition from MAIDEN to MAIDEN NO MORE, could compromise anyone. one also wonders why d.h. lawrence was so keen on criticizing hardy (like jude, my norton edition of tess is full of his blathering) - his flesh-positive angle is fine in principle, but his reasoning is customarily off-topic.
And Tess, despising herself in the flesh, despising the deep Female she was, because Alec D'Urberville had betrayed her very source, loved Angel Clare, who also despised and hated the flesh. She did not hate D'Urberville. What a man did, he did, and if he did it to her, it was her look-out. She did not conceive of him as having any duty towards her.

tuesday's anthem: "icicle", muddy bug. if wilco ever covers "yellow submarine", muddy bug might be able to sue them (though wilco litigation is old hat now, innit?).

tuesday's time suck: online MASH (via 50cups).
You will live in Shack.
You will drive a yeller El Camino.
You will marry Paul and have 4 kids.
You will be a headhunter in Reykjavik.
paul and i have been playing this for years (with the key additions of "pet" and "manner of death" categories).

my poetry is making friends; sadly, they are the sort of friends who invite you to coffee and accidentally take a nap instead. note the uncertainty in the Art vs. lauren sidebar, however - please send more luck. we've a tentative "yes" -

tuesday's admonition: on my father's paper shredder, MAXIMUM ONE CREDIT CARD ONLY.

4AD / Beggars Group are pleased to announce the simultaneous US release of the

new Throwing Muses and Kristin Hersh albums on March 4th. "Throwing Muses" sees Kristin Hersh reunited in the studio with David Narcizo and Bernard Georges for the first time since "Limbo" was released in 1996. Tanya Donelly also made an appearance at the sessions - she sings backing vocals on several tracks.


3. foreign spam.

We come from The Netherlands(Europe). And we have to do a search ring to your city. Can we ask you any questions? We don't speak English very much but we try.

Do you believe in god?


What do you eat a lot?
burritos, green beans, little foot-shaped lollipops dipped in pop rocks.

What is typical California food?
gatorade, pop tarts.

How many people are living in New Mexico?
as of 2000, approximately 1.8 million.

What is the average people in a family?
the middle child.

Are there many tourist there?
oh yes.

Would you like it to come to the Netherlands?
it doesn't travel en masse so often these days.

What kind of subject do you have?

How is reign over your state?
nominally democratic.


2. drink. not alcohol - that's cheap creativity.

- instant coffee
- drip coffee
- caffeine free diet dr. pepper
- diet dr. pepper
- diet coke
- water
- chamomile tea

i should be able to see through walls at this point, but the chamomile counteracted everything else. while beverages aren't commonly accepted as proactive fun, this is actually an improvement on afternoons at dad's office in the eighties (when we prepared every sort of tea in the kitchen caddy and, well, smelled them).


as the result of transactions that escape my understanding, i'm at a condominium in orange county sans car for the next four days. i could entertain myself with my father's computer and/or his collection of sherlock holmes videocassettes, but i'm attempting to be inventive.

1. craig the baby turtle. craig and i met in chinatown yesterday. his buddies were dead, and his vendor at the souvenir stand was feeding him lettuce to keep him small. we escaped to a freshman dorm at usc; with help from the good people at craigslist (no relation), i've been preparing turtle feasts of chicken and grapes. he appears to enjoy a) smelling my coffee, b) imitating a silver dollar, and c) swimming around in a fruit bowl. we're preparing ourselves for the inevitable salmonella discussion.