THE ABSENT - out now!


Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers


Out Now


My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers

Monday, May 30, 2011


Gil Scott Heron, who recently passed away has received obituaries filled with praise for his poetic lyrics on the harshness of ghetto life and the overriding racism and basic unfairness of African-American life as well as the rich jazzy arrangements of his 70’s records (his best period collaborating with his arranger Brian Jackson) such as PIECES OF A MAN and WINTER IN AMERICA .

This is all deserved as Heron was a great songwriter who spoke of the black urban experience in America, the ghetto experience, with raw honesty and without any sense of creating a mythology or otherwise obscuring the message.

However, there is one slant that many writers are taking which is that Heron was “the Godfather of Rap”  This is an example of lazy journalism finding the first angle you can think of and making it fit.  Here’s a quote from Heron about rap music.... 

They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing

Personally I don’t see much in common with Heron and rap music except they both come from the same place and Heron was also a spoken word poet (which is very different from what rap has turned into).

Many years ago, there was a strain of thought among African-American writers that rap was like Amos n Andy, that it was a new minstrel show, showing black people in damaging stereotypes.  Unfortunately, this type of thinking seems to have died out.  

Gil Scott Heron RIP

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The amount of different adjectives, metaphors, similes, descriptive passages etc. Elfriede Jelinek employs for the sexual act in her book LUST are absolutely amazing and unprecedented in any book I have read before (fiction or non-fiction).

In attempting to show the wife (Gerti) as property of her factory director husband (Hermann), Jelinek drives the point home with repeated (and I mean repeated descriptions) of sexual acts (some perverse) that the husband forces on the wife.  Hermann is also called “The Direktor” and to say he has a strong sex drive would be the understatement of understatements.

About halfway through, Gerti meets Michael an ambitious young man from the nearby town (the story is set in an Austrian ski town ) and embarks on a relationship with him.  Not for love or sex but as a hopeful escape from Hermann’s daily rapes.

Of course, this leads to tragedy.  I found of the three Jelinek books I have read this was the most poetic and the most surreal.  Her descriptions of the sex act are illusionary, lyrical, sometimes you don’t know what’s going on then she will through in an anatomically correct term so the reader can find their place again.

For that reason, it’s an amazing book although her point about marriage as property is beat into the head of the reader in a too forceful and repetitive way and one gets both sick and worn out with the continual weird sex scenes.

Also like WONDERFUL WONDERFUL TIMES the ending sequence seems rushed.

Still just on the basis of language and writing craft this is a book worth reading

LUST is the last of the three books by Elfriede Jelinek I purchased recently.  I am hoping to read THE PIANO TEACHER soon as well.   


Sunday, May 15, 2011


WONDERFUL WONDERFUL TIMES is now the second book I have read by Elfriede Jelinek.  At the beginning, four teenagers-Rainer, Anna, Sophia, and Hans commit an act of violence and robbery against a stranger in post WWII Vienna.  They behave much like forerunners to a Clockwork Orange type of future.

Ranier and Anna are brother and sister and Hands and Sophia are their friends.  Ranier and Anna’s father is a one legged ex SS officer and their mother is his doormat as he spends most of his time abusing her forcing her to be the model for the pornographic photographs he takes.

Sophia (whom both Ranier and Hans both like) is from a wealthy family and Hans (who is liked by Anna but with whom he has a sex only relationship with)is a drop out.  What unites them is their complete lack of purpose and interest in life.  Ranier is a would be intellectual and poet, Anna is a bulimic who wants to become a better pianist, Sophia is spoiled, and Hans wishes to be a PE teacher.

Jelinek is less clear in this book as she was in the one I read previously WOMEN AS LOVERS. She’s spends a lot of time in describing the thought process and the actions of the fours characters as they gradually escalate their criminal behavior and all around anti-social activities.

In fact this book could have used some editing-I’d say at least 50 pages or so.  The ending also seems rushed

Still what Jelinek does do correctly is show how Austrian society had becomes amoral in the wake of the war.  There are no sympathetic characters in this book.  Perhaps the most memorable in a disgusting way is Ranier and Anna’s father the perverted impotent Nazi who misses the killing and torture of wartime made me wince every time I saw a scene coming up with him in it.

She has a way with the routine unpleasantness of life and also showing how that becomes one with a diseased system be it capitalistic or something else.

So onto the third Jelinek book LUST.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Sometimes a record comes out that is impossible to classify….It starts out under the blanket description that goes with a genre but a listen show’s that it is deeper, more powerful, the music so elemental that it stands apart as something quite different.

On the surface, HOUSE OF BALLOONS by The Weeknd has a pronounced R&B accent with the usual beats and synths behind it but here the music is neither welcoming nor especially sexy….The music here is epic, desperate, ominous, powerful.

Behind all the depravity and empty club life descriptions (and they are meant to be “empty”) is music fathoms deep in ennui….The only connection to living being the vocals an earnest pleading falsetto that sounds so alone among the languid downbeat machines that accompany it.

The title track samples “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees and this is one of the few times I appreciate the effect of a sample in music….Many of the songs have huge choruses like “The Knowing” which break the tension the way pus pores out of an wound that has been opened.

There's already a mythos brewing about this record-who was behind it and what it means and I think it's a fascinating record that will hopefully show a way forward for people making similar music….I’ve never cared for modern R&B as it seems to have no intelligence or creativity-just music made for cash or as a marketing adjunct….It has long needed the creation of its own counter-culture to spur better music.

The album can be downloaded on the official website

Monday, May 9, 2011


Okay, WOMEN AS LOVERS is the first of the three Elfriede Jelinek novels I recently bought that I have completed reading.

It is amazingly uniform with a discipline I’ve never encountered at this level before.  By discipline, I mean the voice Jelinek assumes for the writing of this book.  She never once breaks from it and what is ostensibly a simple book becomes a deep, penetrating, powerful treatise on the limited options for women at the time this book takes place (which is a little hazy-Not much info is given but I’m thinking 1950’s or 60’s).

We are presented with two women – Brigette and Paul.  Both are younger women (Paula is only 15 at the start WOMEN AS LOVERS, Brigitte slightly older).  Brigitte works in factory that makes women’s wear while Paula does dress making on her own.  Both are from lower income families.  The book constantly contrasts the two and their efforts to get to the next stage of life by getting married and achieving the dream of a house of their own.

Brigette has her eye on Heinz a chubby schlub who wants to start his own business while Paula likes the handsome but stupid and often drunk woodcutter Erich.  As the blurb says on the back cover “Brigette gets it right.  Paula doesn’t”

But that’s not really most important here.  What I found most striking about this book was how everything relates to survival.  There is no love -everyone in the families shown  hate one other and are constantly trying to get the upper hand and step over each other in a Darwinesque struggle.  Even sex is simply something the female gives as part of the value of a commodity process.  Give it too early and it’s worthless.

This is more than a Marxist dialectic, this is showing how every part of life in this wretched environment is buy and sell.  It is a criticism of capitalism but one so basic and so wrapped up in all the details of the story that it doesn’t stand out or feel forced like propaganda.  

A good introduction to Jelinek for me.  Next up is WONDERFUL WONDERFUL TIMES.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Watched the mini Republican debate yesterday featuring four third or fourth tier candidates and Congressman Ron Paul....It was for the most part a laughable exercise featuring a bell that signalled time’s up which reminded me of the game show Jeopardy.

As usual, Ron Paul was the voice of sanity- close Gitmo, end torture, pull the troops out of Afghanistan, legalize drugs and prostitution, audit the Federal Reserve, end foreign aid especially to Pakistan and Israel.  He even said that gay marriage was okay at the state level as long as the people voted for it.

I’ve written about Ron Paul before He has absolutely zero chance of being president which is too bad because I think a Paul presidency would be a great thing for this nation....I think a lot of his nuttier ideas on domestic policy (for example shutting down the Department of Education and giving pilots guns) would be checkmated by congress but even if they weren’t it would be worth the risk for all he could accomplish in ending American imperialism and militarism and reforming the government.

Even though Paul doesn’t win, he does affect the debate in a positive way.  The message gets out and trickles down (like it did in 2008).

Which brings me to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who is also running for president and was at the same debate.  However, he didn’t distinguish himself from the pack coming off as a lesser Paul albeit one who is a recreational marijuana enthusiast.

Johnson, in fact, during his two terms between 1994 and 2002 governed as a fairly pure Libertarian (even more than Paul) vetoing hundreds of spending bills and pushing drug legalization.

However, a more than cursory glance shows that Johnson (who endorsed Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign) isn’t in synch with all of Paul’s views as this article meticulously lays out

Basically, this article presents a conspiracy theory that Johnson is the elite’s version of Paul.  Paul has scared them (and by them I mean the Military Industrial Complex) and they have come up with their own Trojan horse, their own ringer to take the wind out of the Ron Paul movement.  Specifically, there are still many areas of foreign policy that Johnson has not been clear about.  He would have to take firm stands like Paul before I could support him.

If Gary Johnson did that then if by some miraculous accident or fluke of nature, Ron Paul got the Republican nomination for president, I would support Johnson to be his vice president. 


Thursday, May 5, 2011


I suppose in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by US troops there will be a plethora of conspiracy theories all centered around the fact that his body was quickly disposed of afterwards leaving nothing but the soon to be released photos and the words of the crew involved to filter downwards into the public consciousness.

I’ve read a few bloggers questioning why this was done and offering examples of Che Guevera and Benito Mussolini to show how the corpse of a defeated foe is displayed to end once and for all any theorizing on that person still being alive.

True, this would have gotten rid of the doubters but people tend to cling to a physical presence even a dead one especially if they know the location of the remains.  The situation is much like the Soviet Union which took Adolph Hitler’s already burned remains after WWII and buried them secretly until 1970 when they removed them for fear of the East German government’s inability to stop info getting out on their location and it becoming a neo-Nazi shrine so at that point they were cremated and thrown into a nearby river.

Considering the level of fanaticism and the glorification of martyrs in Islam, I think the administration made a valid choice.

I would also like to say in terms of conspiracy theories, after enduring the last two years of President Obama being labeled a communist Muslim who was a token admitted to Harvard under affirmative action and who may not have even be a US citizen, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt this time.

The other thing I would like to say is when Bin Laden was found he was staying in a million dollar mansion in a wealthy suburb of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad a stone’s throw from a military academy and surrounded by the homes by many of Pakistan’s elites including government ministers.  The latest is that rather than being one of many safe houses he hid out in, Bin Laden and family had actually been there pretty much full time since 2005.

Of course this should spark outrage although many US politicians are very careful to couch this outrage in general statements about what a delicate situation exists there.  Last year the US pledged at least 1.5billion in aid to Pakistan.

Now the current government of Pakistan headed by Asif Ali Zardari husband of the late Benazir Bhutto may be friendly to the US but what’s also clear is there a vast intelligence infrastructure in Pakistan that is not answerable to anyone and they are sympathetic to terrorist groups for a number of reasons mostly to do with destabilizing their neighbor India and decreasing US involvement in the region.

So when even George Bush’s BFF Pervez Musharaff complains that the raid was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty it’s time to rethink the US-Pakistan relationship.     

Monday, May 2, 2011


The copy of THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT by Kenneth Patchen that I just finished reading was a used copy and was filled with notes in pen on what was going on.  This was actually invaluable to me as this is not a regular book you can just read.

Like the last several chapters of ULYSSES thrown into a blender with pre-Kerouac beatisms and Donald Barthelme type surreal situations, this books doesn’t make any sort of sense as a narrative.

Rather, I read this is as prose poetry, an extended poetic narrative similar to AT GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT by Elizabeth Smart  or some of the works of Richard Brautigan but even less structured than those especially the last hundred or so pages.

I guess interpretation is the question here.  I think that this book is beyond interpretation and it would be frustrating and pointless to look for meaning.  For example;

Once we passed a large group of people gathered in a field around a fire. They had an old fat woman strapped to a post and were slowly cooking her, amid shouts of merriment and good spirits.  She seemed to be laughing with the others although the flesh on her thighs was already beginning to flake off.  I was surprised to see very small children poking the meat off with her with long, pointed sticks
Rather I think this is man’s battle with poetry, with expression, with all the petty day to day concerns that keeps us distracted and those that aren’t so petty (like the outbreak of WWII during which this book is occurring)

Sex provides no respite and I imagine if this book had been written a couples decades later, a similar pronouncement would have been made on hallucinogenic drugs.

Rather a non-specified desire to produce from the heart words with feeling, unedited, not necessarily making that much sense put together.

I think he was and is one of America’s greatest poets but this is a challenging read and if you are satisfied as I am with couplets of surreal absurdity melded into a kind of loose fable then I recommend this.

It is certainly original in every way.    

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I’ve just ordered three novels by Elfriede Jelinek a writer I’ve always meant to read.  The books are LUST, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL TIMES, and WOMEN AS LOVERS. If I like them, I plan to continue on and read her most famous work THE PIANO TEACHER.

I admit being a bit put out off by what I’d read about Jelinek in particular three things 1.) Her connection to a type of feminism that compares marriage with rape which I strongly disagree with (We’ll see how this translates into her writings) 2.) The dissenting comments of a committee member when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004 who called her work whiny pornography 3.) Critiques of the structure of her writing specifically the abrupt stops and starts and seemingly random text.

Well, after reading some excerpts on the Internet, I must say, as far as #3 goes, I like the structure.  It seems to suit the jarring nature of her narratives.  Her stories seem well thought out and many of them are critiques of her native Austria and the ties that still remain with the days of Nazism and fascism.

I figured she’s worth a shot so I will be reading and then reviewing the three books.  Normally, I don’t do a pre-reading write-up like this but I I figured she has some big baggage.  We will see if the bags are fully packed or completely empty.  


Sometimes when you listen to a record you don’t want to make an immediate judgement....Maybe because you think your opinion might change over time or you’ve liked the band’s previous output and want to give them a fair chance.

So with that in mind, I’ve refrained from talking about Radiohead’s newest KING OF LIMBS until now.

Now I am a fan of Radiohead and would like to make an analogy between their career and that of the Beatles in terms of their discography.  THE BENDS was their REVOLVER, OK COMPUTER their SGT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, KID A and AMNESIAC their WHITE ALBUM.

HAIL TO THE THIEF while not their last record could also be called their ABBEY ROAD.  They seemed very focused there (Next to OK my favorite) and if they had gone out on this high note it would have been perfect

However, they drifted back into KID A territory with their next IN RAINBOWS which was full of gauzy weird semi-songs held aloft by some odd keyboard squiggles or jarring piano lines. The guitar parts were rare and skeletal.  It is interesting music but I don’t listen to RAINBOWS much and the same I think will be true with KING OF LIMBS which is basically like leftover tracks from RAINBOWS.  It’s almost like another disc from that session.

Truth is, Radiohead’s always had two main things going for it – Thom Yorke’s powerful, hair raising on the back of your neck vocals and the epic soundscapes the band came up with to back him up.

They need to get out of the esoteric dream territory and get back to this.  My advice is to copy The Beatles on yet another of their records not in sound but in the recording process....Try something along the lines of LET IT BE-get primitive, get live in the studio, get back to simplicity in arrangements-getting back to basics is sometimes the way to get out of a musical corner you’ve painted yourself into.