Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Association

You ask me if
There will come a time
When I grow tired of you

Never my love

You wonder if
This heart of mine
Will lose its desire for you

Never my love

What makes you think
Love will end
When you know that
My whole life depends
On you?

Never my love

You say you fear
I'll change my mind
And I won't require you

Never my love

How can you think
Love will end
When I've asked you to spend
Your whole life with me?

Never my love

As poetry it is adequate - no more "primitive" than the songs of Campion and Spenser, Raleigh or Shakespeare. Set to the harmonies of The Association, it was exactly on time for that first heavy crush…the one so sweet it was painful. So sweet and painful nothing else quite comes up to it.

Read the story here Classic Bands

Said to be the best six-part harmony team. But that was part of the problem: the Beach Boys could do as much in Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows What I'd Do Without You!"...with four men. Joni Mitchell solo could cover the same harmonic range in "Chelsea Morning".

During the long boring hours at work I thought of the Association.

It's Guy Music, not Chick Music…not Michael Bolton making the Chicks swoon. It is troubadour stuff - idolizing women is another way men reach for transcendence, like religion, political ideas or art.

And "Cherish" isn't really about Unrequited Love (as the troubadours knew) it is about Doomed Love…because no matter what happens, young lovers won't stay young, but "as chimney-sweepers come to dust".

Better she doesn't love you back. Or take her virginity, hit it about thirty more times, and find a way to break off. Nothing is added if it continues. Nothing to that sweet and painful Thing, anyway.

Oh I could say I need you
But then you'd realize
That I want you
Just like a thousand other guys
Who'd say they loved you
With all the rest of their lies
When all they wanted
Was to touch your face, your hands
And gaze into your eyes…

That WAS all I wanted, during that first heavy crush…. I didn't even understand sex. The Association didn't have an album. We listened on AM radio.

It was enough. Better than anything since.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Arch Angel! Arch Angel!

...this is All you read me...over?"

(quote from Apocalypse Now)

Alexandra, of Out of Lascaux blog in a recent entry on "Art and Pornography, linked back to a much earlier post on Artemisia Gentileschi here, here, and here, and Michelangelo Caravaggio - the great innovator and tastemaker of the Baroque here, here, here, and finally here For those who don't know the story, Artemisia was first raped by her tutor (Tassi), unsuccessfully sought recourse in the courts, then wound up in some sort of "consensual" relationship with him.

Feminist Theory critics have had a field day with her, because her art is filled with, variously, images of female degradation, (Danae, Susannah), female revenge (Judith, Jael and Sisera) and female suicide (Cleopara, Lucrece)…mostly in paintings which - judging from acknowledged self-portraits - would appear to be at least partially self portraits.

It helps that Gentileschi was a damn fine painter!

Alexandra argues: damn the feminists! Gentileshi was a Baroque artist more influenced by the temper of her time, and its over-arching master Caravaggio.

Never mind that Caravaggio was a homosexual with a penchant for violence…much like the verse-dramatist Christopher Marlowe a generation before.

This is a very modern position. And maybe modern art gives us less of the person than two thousand years of illusionistic realism. One can only vaguely infer Jackson Pollack's alcoholism and violence from the blotches and swirls. Still less, Rothko's alcoholism and misanthropy from gusty orange and pink squares. Maybe one reason Andy Warhol was such a relentless self-promoter was that a cartoon soup-can is such a poor missive…every artist wants to be known!

Meanwhile, any excuse is a good reason to look at Caravaggio and Gentileschi. A parting thought - the Baroque was BETTER than the Renaissance?


Monday, November 28, 2005


Hat-tip to PLEP for this link to an old, but still interesting site Sci-Fi-Ku, devoted to "Sci-Fi-Ku" a marriage of Japanese haiku sensibility and contemporary scientific insight, as well as futuristic speculation. Per example:

hydroponics bay:
a snail among stars
on the wide porthole glass.

ramship prostitute:
again spitting the copper taste
from her mouth.

neuronal stimulation:
young monk trades minds
with a sparrow

…all by Tom Brinck - but there are many more poets, and it's all kinda fun and sometimes quite impressive.

This approach to poetry has been one which has largely eluded me. My most satisfying effort was a sort of tanka composed from fragments 98a and 98b from Sappho:

A very great ornament
from my mother's prime -
hair wound with purple.

Ornaments indeed!
Bindings with spangles,
or hair like yellow torches?

Daughter, no sparkling tiaras!
Where would I find them
in exile?

For a joke, I called this "Sapphu", and it was published in Lynx, an online journal for haiku, tanka and ghazal.

You might enjoy PLEP, a quirky mix of art and science.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Audio Books

Michael Blowhard, of 2 Blowhards argues a spirited case for audio books. Although I can't see it, it's a fun read.

I can't see it, partly because I have an alarming tendency to nod when others recite - I have embarrassed myself (I snore when I nod) at events for Jorie Graham, W S Merwyn and Ted Koozer!

Perhaps on a long car journey, when I'm driving - but I would likely prefer to talk to a passenger, or myself. Anywhere else, I'd rather read.

This reminds me that I made an "audio book", of sorts, once. I was young, and desperately broke, and a friend of mine had already gone blind in the course of her terminal illness. Abby had all sorts of pull at the Commission for the Blind - she had been a social worker/activist - and got me a forty dollar stipend to recite Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" onto reel-to-reel tape…a long time ago.

Michael mentions that audio books are frequently abridgements…another subject that interests me. I read a pile of Reader's Digest condensed books in a Portland rooming house during my wayward youth - a pile more when I served in the Army. The editing involved in the condensation appeared graceful and seamless.

Abroad in Asia, some Puritan impulse restrained me from buying heavily condensed pirate editions…now I must wonder how Anne Rice might have fared under a good editor!

I know "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Les Miserables" via Cliff Notes, and the skimming and cribbing involved in some college assignments amounted to producing homemade "Cliff Notes". I think most "well-read" persons have a Mental Library containing lots of cinematic treatments - replacing books we haven't read, and competing with books we have.

Still, I must confess to yearning for Jeremy Irons declaiming Nabokov's "Lolita":

...She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in her one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Delores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita...

Ah, well…by all means, plug into 2 Blowhards Blog, an excellent Arts and Entertainment blog!


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thinking Independently

Living on the West Coast and believing in a decent night's sleep what I do on most weeknights is videotape (yes, gasp! No TIVO or DVD yet) Charlie Rose on PBS and watch it the next day. I have an ulterior motive. I find sometimes the way an intellectual, scientist or artist or actor will phrase something in conversation plants the seeds for a poem.

Last night the guest for the hour was the judge Richard Posner. He was mentioned in the bizarre list of 100 intellectuals posted last month by Foreign Policy magazine. He has his own blog with a colleague becker-posner-blog.

I was amazed that he admitted that he didn't vote in the last presidential election. I thought that was blasphemy, can you do that?

He made me think, which I find necessary so that when someone brings up a topic such as the riots in France, one is not just blurting out pasterized received opinion. It might feel good to be part of the pack, whichever pack that happens to be but thinking things through for oneself..Ahh, now there is a lost art. One I aspire to.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting Started

We are Andrew and Audrey, two poets who live in Portland Oregon and edit a small bimonthly poetry magazine and hold lots of opinions about a whole host of subjects.

We couldn't be more different, I am a liberal, practicing Buddhist, Unitarian and he is a Blue State Conservative. What we share is a passion for good poetry, great art and interesting food.

Do join us for the ride.