Friday, March 14, 2008


I spent most my time in the backs of cars,
inhaling the dark behind the stars.

We wandered while our parents slept,
tallying slow the hours kept

charting maps before the dawn
of holy places between the lawns.

Was it only I who saw it there,
gleaming faintly everywhere,

one ragged strand of angel's hair
wound through the mornings that we shared?

A ghost of memory not yet whole,
perching briefly in my soul,

of a new day our hearts extolled,
for both to keep but which you stole.

Somewhere out there you lost your way,
burned the map and kept astray.

Now your mother is awake,
watching moonlight bend and break.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Charles Bukowski used to talk about how most poets are incapable of writing "true things," that they are "fiddling assholes waiting for immortality that never comes because the poor fucker just can't write." They are incapable of producing simple lines like "the dog walked down the street."

I feel like only recently have I had enough humility to write things that represent anything beyond my own self-involvement. True things, like pieces of the first poem I've written in months and months:

I sometimes think the popularity of coffee is a conspiracy
perpetrated by the same people who pretend that tea
tastes like something other than leaves in hot water
(and carry it around in glass jars like little backstage passes
to Zen heaven where Ginsberg eternally masturbates and
bald men pace flowingly on hemp sandals)

The test is something along the lines of the Goodwill Litmus, a device I came up with wandering through art museums in Europe for judging works I knew nothing about: if you encountered whatever painting is in question on sale for five dollars at a thrift store, would you buy it? The Poetry Litmus is thinking about whether or not you would be embarrassed to speak the lines out loud in front of people.

I saw Kimya Dawson perform at my college. She was all adorable and whatnot, sang songs about farts and butts and people drowning in floods. I love seeing people who have found their genuine thing and are not pretentious about it. I also love seeing them making livings off of it and being able to connect to hundreds of people at once, revealing something that is actually themselves. The best art is neutral, reflecting many places at once. The best art is also simple, contained, true.

I recently encountered a piece of art that has since become my favorite, maybe ever. It's a short book of comic strips about a cat doing adorable things, called Cat Getting Out of a Bag. The following is a MySpace correspondence between the author and I.

I see that you list The Blow under your favorite music. I saw her perform recently. She is, to trot out a tired platitude, a force. After the show, I wrote her a rather gushy MySpace message about how much I appreciate sincerity in art because it is so rare and valuable. Apparently, this is becoming a habit for me.

My gushing will benefit from context:

Tonight, I had dinner out with my parents, who are visiting me at college. I ordered a boca burger. I hate boca burgers, but I've been a vegetarian a number of years and after a while you learn to settle. Halfway through my meal, I realized that I was actually eating beef. It was the first time since Junior year of high school that any meat had made it far enough to be swallowed. I was stunned, and sunk into lasting malaise.

The issue was not just dismay over having compromised, even if by accident, my values. I was upset, deeply, because I didn't know if I really WAS all that troubled; whether the past however many months, even years, of adherence to my diet was just out of force of habit. Was I just too lazy to come up with a tenable enough justification to start eating meat again? Did I care at all?

We went to a bookstore because my parents thought it would cheer me up. I was going to buy the new Onion book, "Our Dumb World," but some guy swiped it while my back was turned in defiance of his ambiguously European wife, who was loudly denouncing it as trashy, distasteful, and gauchely American.

"Cat Getting Out of a Bag" was on display. I opened it and thumbed through half of it.

By the time I came to the sequence of Misty summoning you to turn the light on in the basement so she could use her litter box, I was on the verge of breaking into tears right in the middle of the shop.

I settle for boca burgers because sometimes animals look at you and there is a moment of recognition, maybe even understanding.

I bought the book. Your drawings helped me to renew my conviction when it was most threatened, so thank you.

Thanks very much for the message, it's truly appreciated, and it makes the art making all worthwhile.
I have yet to see The Blow live... I did mix some song titles and lyrics into a comic I did that comes out later this year, I'll be interested to see if anyone catches it
Best to you,


I want to learn create things that are exactly what they are, that are of use to people, that are true.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I have been in this library staring at words for over ten hours solid. Next to me sits a six-page outline scrawled painstakingly in green ink. It constitutes the rough sketch of what is to be the most fruitful implementation of my analytical energies of my entire college career, perhaps barring a 20-page biopic about metaphysics in The Journal of Albion Moonlight.

It took me over ten minutes to write that paragraph. I am trapped here for another half hour. Girl with the magic purse is asleep on a couch.

Sat down at this computer to start writing the introduction to the essay proper. What came out in giggly delirium is the following:

Dragons dragons dragons poopy poop dragons.

Right now, that's the funniest thing I've ever produced or seen written by anyone ever.

Girl with magic purse is giving me a scalp massage. This is the best thing ever. I am about to pass out. Not fall asleep. Pass out.

Girl with magic purse finds her nickname vaginal. I can't tell if I agree.

She wants to know if she farted in her sleep. I can't tell. She also says she is so sleep deprived that she's going to go home and "fuck a bunch."

Instead of writing this essay, I'm going to gluestick some cookie fortunes to an orange and throw it at my professor's head.

Now I'm filled with glee because GWMP just materialized next to me holding a slice of cold pizza and let me take a bite. I demanded she recognize my status as "the best girlfriend ever." This guy keeps walking past and I flash him the Wu-Tang sign and I can't tell if it's funny.

GWMP is making toy police officers have sex on my keyboard. She also put a felt mouse on my shoulder. I am living in a David Lynch movie.

I swear to god I'm not trying to sound dazed. This was supposed to be a narrative. Art transcends.

Wu Tang.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I was supposed to be continuing my ten-some hours of reading about China things for a constipated 12-page political economy research paper that is scraping its way through my intellectual bowels with all the ceremony of a kidney stone but was instead jittering around my room yelling John Denver at the top of my lungs. Nobody was home.

Then I got way too into "How Soon Is Now," playing it three times in a row, arms, legs, hair akimbo, hoping to Sweet Jesus I would hear the front door open if somebody came home mid-shriek. I got to thinking about all the times I've watched family members start projects they didn't or couldn't finish, how used to mediocrity I had become. I started to think about what if I got good at this, what if I'm almost there, what if I am approaching, have approached, the moment at which the ball is dropped or carried over the wall?

"Adam Smith In Beijing" called from where it sat on my couch. But the throat kept going and I found myself cycling through most of my back-catalog of practice songs until I was crooning an a capella Country Roads and totally hypnotized by how melodic I found my own voice all of a sudden.

"Holy shit, can I sing now?"

Only science can tell.

I retrieved a digital audio recorder I had left over from a previously abandoned venture to become the school paper's only gonzo reporter. It now contains: about two hours of life soundtrack from being accidentally activated in my backpack; some hippies talking about their organic kitchen compound in the woods and how people need to rise up and take back the power; two voice samples that roughly approximate how Denver would sound if he reprised his greatest hits as the plane was crashing, and he had chugged a bottle of Drano minutes before, and there was a raccoon mauling his face.

But what's the alternative? Compiling theory about the dynamism of the Chinese market economy? When Guitar Guy still lurks the city streets and youth hostels of the world, unchallenged, laid? No, friends. I can't let that happen.

Fucking Jack Johnson.