Monday, February 26, 2007


More movie madness.

Someone help me out here. I noticed that a film
called Journey to the End of the Night is coming
out on DVD 27 February. I was very excited, having
not heard of such a film until recently. I saw the
cast and was perplexed. Then I read an imdb review.

This looks to have nothing to do with Celine.

Why would someone tease me in this way?
The humanity.

Me & You, Your Mama &... er... Shane MacGowan too?

If there was one moment from the Oscars I'll
have tattooed into my brain, it didn't come from
the show itself.

Yes, Karl Shapiro, there is an Advertclause.

After a few hours of sedate speeches, the flavor
this year being off of 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of
paper, and before Martin Scorcese's long overdue
Oscar making us all warm inside, there was...
a Cadillac commercial.

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but while you
were emptying your bladder between blather,
some enterprising man or woman in an ad agency
slipped in The Pogues (greatest band ever,
by the way) to a suburban family/sunshine in
the breakfast nook let's take the dog and kid
through a drive in the redwoods fucking car

My wife noted my ire. "Shane needs gin!"

I don't mind at all that the voice of a generation
is in a car commercial. The expression was likely
one of suspense. As in, "what fucking couplet from
'Sunny Side of the Street' are they going to manage
to broadcast in a nukuler family car advert?" The
selection was... and I am not bullshitting here:

So I saw that train and I hopped right on it
with a heart full of hate & a lust for vomit
now I'm walking on the sunny side of the street.

I just want to know if the person at the agency was
being knowingly ironic (other gems from the chune include
"All I can remember now is little kids without no
shoes" and I'll paraphrase, not having the Hell's Ditch
lyric sheet at my disposal, "I swore to stake my life
like I would a whore.") especially on Al Gore's night,
or if Madison Avenue is just that clueless when it comes
to context.

Either the Andy Kaufman moment in American
advertising or reason #4,697 our Kulchur is swirling
around the shitter lid just in time for 2012.

If anyone has inside information, do tell.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Which side to choose?

Got this link from Silliman.

Could take the time to mention that The New
Yorker doesn't seem to value either brevity
or clarity from the article. (O, how you go on!)
But, obtuse though it may be, there's some important
information to consider.

When Barr published his essay in POETRY last
year, I was thrilled. My take on it was quite different
from that of this New Yorker piece. I would be happy
about this information... but it is tough to enjoy
knowing something new when the Greeks are the
Academic Establishment and the Trojans are
wealthy business types who seek to improve poetry
by screaming "Sell... sell!!!"

Could it be that Wiman and Barr aren't as they're
portrayed in the piece? When I read Barr's essay, or one
of Wiman's, I don't come away with the
sensation that either wants solely to commodify
the art. I could be wrong.

I must say that the passage where the Editorial
meeting takes place seems like nonsense to me. If
the folks at POETRY are so focused on bringing
us something new and exciting, what are they
waiting for? Methinks there was a bit of staging
to that sequence.

This whole debate leaves me (and I would venture to
guess a lot of other writers) at best confused. When
clarity comes into play, it leaves me (and...) despondent.
As a working-class individual, the investment banker
types and religious conservatives are my natural enemies.
As a working-class writer, the academic establishment
has no use for me whatever. It is a difficult choice, which
side to root for. Unless I look at those statements of
place above and determine that it doesn't matter either
way. The enemy of one's enemy isn't always a friend.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Go on, tell Mama.

Though I am a fairly political person, I make every
attempt to keep Karga on topic. This creates those
absences from time to time... when I don't have
something I want to share about the subject of
literature, I don't sully the page too much. With that,
allow me to jump in with both feet.

If you are thinking of voting for Hillary in
2008, I recommend you get your bullshit
detector checked out.

I've been dreaming of Barack Obama's candidacy since
before the 2004 Convention Speech. As we approach
2008, it seems more and more like there's a real chance
with him. As Faux News and the Faux Lites out there
make every attempt to assassinate his character and
make hay out of that "Muslimy" name, it indicates to me
that The Powers That Be are getting edgy about
the '08 Election. Incidentally, who thinks it is a bad idea
for The United States of America to have a president
who can relate to The Global South?

60 Minutes featured him and his wife last night. I could
empathize with the smoking thing, having caught one hell
of a cold. This caused me to involuntarily quit for... what
is it now... 2 days. I hope he's sneaking a fag every now
and then. This would be an inopportune time to play with
a person's addictive centers. By day three, I'll probably
be hallucinating. Stay strong, Barack, and please God don't
throw down any screams.

Today's Morning Edition on NPR ran a piece on Hillary and
Obama, in New Hampshire and Iowa respectively. They
pointed out, as did Frank Rich yesterday, that Obama was
against the Iraq War from the get-go. This "inexperienced"
state legislator from Illinois somehow knew something the
Beltway Brahmins hadn't thought of: that the war would
be a disaster, and that the Bush Administration isn't to be
trusted. Let that stand on its own.

Then, there's Hillary. It is amusing to see her backtrack and
attempt the performance of rhetorical somersaults in regard
to her downright Hawkish stance up until, when was it, o, yes,
last week. Mrs. Clinton is about as cynical an operator as can
be found in Washington, which makes it tough to see how she
can think that people are simple enough to fall for the "if I knew
then what I know now... we were misled" gambit. First off, I knew
then what you know now. A lot of people did. Actually, everyone
did, though some who tried to play both sides (read: most of
The Democratic Party) are trying to make us think they were
unsophisticated enough to buy the truckload of bullshit about
weapons, freedom, &c. Hopefully this horseshit (running out of
things to call what Hillary, Rahm and the whole Corporate
Takeover masquerading as an opposition spout) will hurt her
numbers. The American people aren't the brightest bulbs in
the cabinet by a long stretch, but it is so obvious even the
McDonald's fattened masses can see through this charade.

I got some disturbing news from a friend in a neighboring
county. "I'm voting for Hillary," he said, "hell, most everybody
I know is... to be part of something historic."

Because, if you hadn't noticed, she's a woman.

I understand this impulse. I have been going back and forth
between the two attractive candidates in the field, Mr. Obama
and Mr. Edwards, and asking myself whether I'd be in the
Edwards camp were it not for my desire to see an
AfriKansan Executive. Basing a vote on gender, in this instance,
is wasting a vote.

Lemme say it again:

Remember 2004? The Party Establishment squandered
a clear opportunity, and if you let them the song
will remain the same in 2008. Fool me once, shame on
you. Fool me twice, kick the power chords Mr. Townshend.

This is it. Get ready.

Fellow Democrats, please don't make me switch so I can
at least vote for Hagel.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

tinstaafl, for me, at least.

I was never the belle of economics courses. Being
an externality, it never appealed to me. I will have
to thank the instructor of my first class in the subject
for focusing on the familiar TINSTAAFL acronym.
(At the time, I was focusing on just how catchy
those numbers guys could be with their acronyms.)

I didn't learn many lessons formally, but I should've
kept that piece of information at the front of my
mind. (In case I am being opaque, which apparently
I have a tendency to be, the acronym stands for
There is no such thing as a free lunch.)

I did not heed the early instruction, and submitted
to Ron Offen's publication. A great idea, I think.
The mission statement goes something like this:
Free Lunch Arts Alliance seeks to publish poets,
big and small, and is quite keen on new talent.
We will give a free sub to any writer of merit,
whether or not we publish your work.
It may take some time, as we give an
actual critique of all submissions.
Minnows will swim with minotaurs, and we
shall see that it is good.

Or something along those lines.

"What've I got to lose?" I says to myself.
"If nothing else, I'll get a few issues of a
magazine that from my investigations
(visiting the website) I hold in some regard."

As the bold print indicates, I was very taken by
the idea of actually having some notes on just
why I'd be rejected. The lack of such notation
can drive a person mad. It leaves one with nothing
but questions... namely, "what am I doing wrong?"

Well, I get the rejection back in the mail. I shall
quote the passages, on post-it notes affixed to
my returned pages. (Don't worry, it won't take long.)

First, from the intern:

"I am intrigued by both these poems, but I don't
understand either of them. Is there more (especially
w/"Renewal".)[?] Also[,] "Chesapeake" is so short
and written in the specialized language of boating
that I don't understand what it is supposed to be

At least they're intriguing. I have no beef with this.
Actually, it was a wonderful feeling. Whenever a
work is rejected, I always think immediately that
the reader sees some unforgivable incompetence.
This boils the blood before sending me into a
depressive hibernation, where I will not even look
towards the typewriter, favoring a banjo for
company. These notes, however, are quite clear.
For that I am thankful.

I submitted two, and "Chesapeake" is indeed
short. Before submitting, I had it whittled down to
28 words from its original 35 or so. It does involve
specific nautical terminology, and a bit of sailing
history, and as such is very specific and not
necessarily a hit with many audiences. The second
poem, to me, is pretty straightforward. Not as
short, but less than a page. (This makes me wonder
why someone would ask if there was more to it.
Have you ever submitted half a poem?)

No matter, the notes provided me with the reasons
for rejection. They are reasons I am happy with.
Any poem I submit has undergone the Papa
treatment, whittled down to words of necessity.
This may not square with some (read: most) but
it is my aesthetic choice, so we can cordially disagree.
The second point, about being cryptic or opaque,
is also well-taken. I have failed in the sense that
two well-read folks didn't understand what in the
hell I was talking about, but neither said that
the lines and/or rhythm were lacking.
I return to Logan's Crane review, and not to
flatter myself with unwarranted comparison,
but as a general point:
"Crane was mystified, as most obscure poets are,
when readers found his poems difficult-- after
all, they were perfectly clear to him."

So, let's get this little psychoanalytic exercise
over with as quickly as possible.

On to Offen's comments.

On "Renewal": "I don't get it either."

I had half a mind to write him a rejection of
that rejection. It is, after all, so short.

On "Chesapeake": "Wogs?! Pretty nasty
term-- also Green Wogs?"

Aha, I am guilty of a racist abstraction! That is
the worst kind indeed.

Well, I don't blame the outraged question mark/
exclamation mark couple on the post-it. Again,
it is a term that has evolved over time for sailors,
but for readers of history it could be construed as

This is the maritime usage, at least as it is practiced
to this day. Being honest, the word is loaded and
I know it and that is why I am keen on it. Both
sides of the wog coin speak to a kind of alienation
I was driving at.

(Sorry to link to Wiki, a site that has given Basil
Bunting the wrong birthday! But on this, it is
pretty much accurate. I didn't write anyone about
it because the birthday they list for him is my own,
so I'm pretending for awhile.)

All in all, I am happy with the rejection. At least I
know the why, which is all I ever want.

I didn't stay very happy very long. There is a form
with returned submissions which has three options.
They go something like this:

Sorry, we've decided not to use the enclosed.

___ But based on the quality of your work, we feel
you are entitled to a free sub.

___ You previously had a free sub, but you moved
and you didn't tell us, so send us some money and we'll
re-free your sub.

___ We think your work has no merit, you get no
free sub, go fuck yourself.

Guess which one had the "X"?

Don't send another until 4-15-07.

Don't worry. Right back atcha.