Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Titles Read in 2011

January - April
Scott Pilgrim vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Faster Than the Speed of Hope by Donna M. Lane
Two Lines: a journal of translation vol. 13: Masks. 2006
Scott Pilgrim vol. 2 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
The Force of a Feather: the search for a lost story of slavery and freedom by DeEtta Demaratus
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
I am secretly an important man by Steven Jesse Bernstein
Scott Pilgrim vol. 3 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Deep Ska booklet accompanying 4 CD set
When Even the Sky Hurts by Julia Vinograd
Scott Pilgrim vol. 4 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
The Complete Adventures of the Borrowers by Mary Norton
Poor Stainless: a Borrowers story by Mary Norton
Scott Pilgrim vol. 5 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers: writers on comics edited by Sean Howe
The Borrowers Avenged by Mary Norton
Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? by Martin Gardner
Born to Run: a hidden tribe … by Christopher McDougall
Scott Pilgrim vol. 6 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
Lake Huron Winds poetry chapbook by Mel C. Thompson
I Love You Phillip Morris by Steve McVicker
Unpacking the Boxes: a memoir of a life in poetry by Donald Hall
The Beats: a graphic history by Harvey Pekar
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham
Ecco Anthology of International Poetry edited by Ilya Kaminsky
Travels with Lisbeth by Lars Eighner
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Shooting in the Wild by Chris Palmer
The Grandest of Lives: eye to eye with whales by Douglas Chadwick
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
X’ed Out by Charles Burns
God’s Man / Madman’s Drum / Wild Pilgrimage by Lynd Ward
The Salt Ecstasies by James L. White, intro by Mark Doty
Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America by William Graebner
Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cometbus #54: In China with Green Day by Aaron Cometbus
Wishbone by Priscilla Lee
In Southern Light: trekking through Zaire and the Amazon by Alex Shoumatoff
June - September
The End of Major Combat Operatons by Nick McDonell
La Perdida by Jessica Abel
The Best American Comics 2007 edited by Chris Ware
Hot Stuff: a brief history of disco by John-Manuel Andriote
The Cave Painters by Gregory Curtis
The Fart Party by Julia Wertz
Far From Home short stories by Walter Tevis
Prelude to a Million Years / Song without Words / Vertigo by Lynd Ward
Godzilla on My Mind by William Tsutsui
Self-Evident Poems by Guy Bennett
Listening to Winter by Molly Fisk
Pluto: sentinel of the outer solar system by Barrie W. Jones
Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
From Wonderland with Love: Danish comics edited by Steffen Maarup
The Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven
Shirtlifter #4 by Steve MacIsaac
Quarterly Review of Literature: contemporary poetry series IV: Wislawa Szymborska, Jane Hirshfield, et al
Three #2, edited by Robert Kirby
The World Split Open: four centuries of women poets edited by Louise Bernikow
The Unswept Path: contemporary American haiku edited by J. Brandi, D. Maloney
Kundalini: the evolutionary energy in man by Gopi Krishna
The Fart Party vol. 2 by Julia Wertz
The Commitment: love, sex, marriage, and my family by Dan Savage
Congress of the Animals a Frank book by Jim Woodring
Shedding Skins: four Sioux poets edited by Adrian C. Louis
Haiku Moment: an anthology of contemporary North American haiku edited by Bruce Ross
A Queer History of the United States by MIchael Bronski
Aunt Jane’s Nieces by L. Frank Baum
This Is Reggae Music: the story of Jamaica’s music by Lloyd Bradley
Role Models by John Waters
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda
The Complete Annotated Oz Squad, vol. 1 by Steve Ahlquist, et al
The Magic World: American Indian Songs and Poems edited by William Brandon
Tales of Magic Land 2: Seven Underground Kings and The Fiery God of the Marrans by Alexander Volkov, translated by Peter L. Blystone
The Complete Annotated Oz Squad, vol. 2 by Steve Ahlquist, et al
My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy by Robert Bly
Nothing Doing by Cid Corman
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai by Stan Sakai
The Grave Robber’s Daughter by Richard Sala
Aunt Jane’s Nieces Abroad by L. Frank Baum (as ebook)
Dolphin Diaries by Denise L. Herzing
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: 50 years of videogames by Harold Goldberg
Weathercraft: a Frank comic by Jim Woodring
Ebb and Flood #1, a mini comic by Brian Herrick
Elf World vol. 2, no. 2, Spring 2011, a mini comic anthology edited by F. Vigneault
Astro City: Dark Age, part 2 by Kurt Busiek, et al
Estrus Collection, vol. 2, by Mari Naomi
My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Comic Book Guide to the Mission edited by Lauren Davis
Ordering the Storm: how to put together a book of poems edited by Susan Grimm
Kiss and Tell: a romantic resume, ages 0-22 by Mari Naomi
Wonder Tales edited by Marina Warner
Optic Nerve #12 by Adrian Tomine
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
Dancing with a Tiger: poems, 1941-1998 by Robert Friend
Tales of Magic Land 3: Yellow Fog and The Mystery fo the Deserted Castle by Alexander Volkov
October - December
Gaylord Phoenix by Edie Fake
Ogner Stump’s One Thousand Sorrows by A. Goldfarb
I’m Walking as Straight as I Can by Geri Jewell
Beautiful & Pointless: a guide to modern poetry by David Orr
Love Is the Reason: a Cavalcade of Boys story by Tim Fish
Lies Grown Ups Told Me: a comics anthology edited by Nomi Kane, Caitlin M., Jen Vaughn
Sweethearts by Emmett Williams
Luci’s Let Down by Marjee Chmiel & Sandra Lanza
My Dreaming Waking Life: 6 poets, 66 poems by Hofstadter, et al
Book of Boy Trouble, vol. 2: Born to Trouble edited by R. Kirby & D. Kelly
A Controversy of Poets edited by Robert Kelly and Paris Leary
Bonk by Mary Roach
The Duchess Who Wouldn’t Sit Down: an informal history of hospitality by Jesse Browner
Century of Clouds by Bruce Boone
The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich
Sidewalk Empire and Wish the World parts 1 & 2, mini comics by Eddie H. Ahn
The Bridge Project a comics anthology edited by Matt Leunig
Drunk and Disorderly: selected poems, 1978-2000 by Alan Catlin
Crack Comics #63
The Lights in the Sky Are Stars by Frederic Brown
Falling Sky by Julia Vinograd
Seventh Generation: contemporary native writing edited by Heather Hodgson
The Cute Manifesto by James Kochalka
The Believer #73: The Music Issue, July/Aug 2010
The Lampshade: a holocaust detective story by Mark Jacobson
Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell
Visit Teepee Town: native writings after the detours edited by Diane Glancy and Mark Nowak
Dead, She Said by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson
Beast Begat Beast mini comic by James the Staton
Notes for My Body Double by Paul Guest
Radiant Silhouette: new & selected work, 1974 - 1988 by John Yau
Reading Comics: how graphic novels work and what they mean by Douglas Wolk
One More Theory about Happiness by Paul Guest
A Lifetime with Lions by George Adamson
Voices within the Ark edited by Schwarz, Rudolf
Auntie Mame: an irreverent escapade by Patrick Dennis
Mute by Raymond Luczak
Epigenetics: the ultimate mystery of inheritance by Richard C. Francis
Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell
How Music Works by John Powell
Thinger Dingers mini comic by J. T. Yost

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Titles Read in 2012

January - March
Marvel Masterworks: X-Men, vol. 4 by Roy Thomas, Werner Roth
Adam, Eve and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels
Belonging: new poetry by Iranians around the world edited by Niloufar Talebi
Born Wild by Tony Fitzjohn
The Ice Cave by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
The Velvet Underground & Nico by Joe Harvard
If You Knew Then What I Know Now by Ryan Van Meter
The More Difficult Beauty by Molly Fisk
Timescape by Gregory Benford
Paradiso Diaspora by John Yau
Magician’s Book: a skeptic’s adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller
Close Calls with Nonsense: reading new poetry by Stephen Burt
Hawaiian Cowboys by John Yau
The Wounded Alphabet: poems collected and new by George Hitchcock
The Cento: a collection of collage poems edited by Theresa Malphrus Welford
News of the Universe edited by Robert Bly
Crackpot: the obsessions of John Waters by John Waters
The Brave Never Write Poetry by Daniel Jones
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Unlikely Friendships: 47 remarkable stories from the animal kingdom by Jennifer S. Holland
Farm City: the education of an urban farmer by Novella Carpenter
Practice by Dan Bellm
With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads by Denise Levertov
Ing Grish by John Yau
Windows on the World by Frederic Beigbeder
This Great Unknowing: last poems by Denise Levertov
Music of a Distant Drum by Bernard Lewis
Eda: an anthology of contemporary Turkish poetry edited by Marat Nemet-Nejat
O Taste and See by Denise Levertov
Paying for It: a comic strip memoir about being a john by Chester Brown
The Royal Book of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Waiting to Land: a mostly political memoir, 1985-2008 by Martin Duberman
Kabumpo in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
What You Least Expect: selected poems, 1930-2011 by Rebecca Radner
The Sorrow Dance by Denise Levertov
Full Service: my adventures in Hollywood and the secret sex lives of the stars by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg
My Heart is That Eternal Rose Tattoo by John Yau
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
The Cowardly Lion of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Sasquatch Stories by Mike Topp
Grampa in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Among African Apes edited by Martha Robbins & C. Boesch
April - August
Debt: the first 5000 years by David Graeber
Drama: an actor’s education by John Lithgow
The Lost King of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge by Paul Guest
Concrete a collection of prints by Andrew Topel
black on white on black a chapbook of vizpo by Andrew Topel
Wisdom Teeth #1, a zine edited by Stephanie Foo & Neil Carman
The Hungry Tiger of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Poems, 1972-1982 by Denise Levertov
My Symptoms by John Yau
The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go by Eliot Khalil Wilson
Oblique Prayers by Denise Levertov
The Gnome King of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
The Static Element by Natan Zach
Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World by Paul Guest
Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: translation and the meaning of everything by David Bellos
The Dolphin in the Mirror by Diana Reiss
Across the Line / Al otro lado: the poetry of Baja California edited by Harry Polkinhorn and Mark Weiss
The Virgin Project 2 edited by K. D. Boze & Stasia Kato
The Rejection Collection: cartoons you never saw and never will see in The New Yorker edited by Matthew Diffee
King of Shadows by Aaron Shurin
Life Itself by Roger Ebert
The Giant Horse of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Better Angel by Richard Meeker
Breathing the Water by Denise Levertov
Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Tough Shit: life advice from a fat, lazy slob by Kevin Smith
Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics edited by Paul Gravett
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
The Passionate Spectator: essays on art & poetry by John Yau
White Trash Debutante by Jennifer Blowdryer
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Shuck by Daniel Allen Cox
The Negritude Poets edited by Ellen Conroy Kennedy
The Big Splat, or how our moon came to be by Dana MacKenzie
City Tree of Concrete and Hope by Luke Warm Water
The Yellow Knight of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Ishi: last of his tribe by Theodora Kroeber
The Science of Yoga: the risks and the rewards by William J. Broad
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl
Where I Was From by Joan Didion
Selected Poems by Tchicaya U Tam’si, translated by Gerald Moore
Iktomi’s Uprising by Luke Warm Water
Dog Years by Mark Doty
Wrong Wrong Wrong a chapbook by Jennifer Blowdryer
Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Sparkle & Blink 3.1, the Quiet Lightning reading for June 8, 2012
Pirates in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Three #3 a comics anthology edited by Robert Kirby
Leo Geo and his miraculous journey through the center of the earth by Jon Chad
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
The Purple Prince of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Voyage to the Whales by Hal Whitehead
Best American Comics 2008 edited by Lynda Barry
Song of the Ape: understanding the language of chimpanzees by Andrew R. Halloran
Evening Train by Denise Levertov
Healing the Split: collected essays by Marc Elihu Hofstadter
Magic Mushrooms and other highs edited by Paul Krassner
Ojo in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
My Family and other animals by Gerald Durrell
The Grief Performance by Emily Kendal Frey
September - December
X-Men: Schism 2011, by Jason Aaron
Gas #8, 96/97, edited by Kevin Opstedal
Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman
Further Adventures in Monochrome by John Yau
Cats Are Weird by Jeffrey Brown
Brush Fire by Tchicaya U Tam’si
Below the Belt & other stories by Phil Andros
Sand of the Well by Denise Levertov
Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogas and Gaddam
Torn from the Nest by Clorinda Matto de Turner
Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry edited by Stephen Tapscott
”There was chemistry,” a true story by “David” and Chii Maena
Cold Comfort by Maggie Anderson
Micrograms by Jorge Carrera Andrade
Moomin: the complete comic strip vol. 1, by Tove Jansson
Harper’s April 1997 issue
Huevos verdes con jamon por Dr Seuss, translated by Aida Marcuse
The Long Trip: a prehistory of psychedelia by Paul Devereux
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Plantas que nunca florecen by Ruth Heller, translated by Ivonne Murillo
The Full Spectrum edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell
Relearning the Alphabet by Denise Levertov
Bill Peet: an autobiography by Bill Peet
The Hidden Europe: what Eastern Europeans can teach us by Francis Tapon
Every Step You Take by Jock Soto
Dropped Names by Frank Langella
Moomin: the complete comic strip vol. 2, by Tove Jansson
Drift: the unmooring of American power by Rachel Maddow
The Madman and the Medusa by Tchicaya U Tam’si
Buttering the Wind by Julia Vinograd
The Double Image by Denise Levertov
The Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case
Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
Here and Now by Denise Levertov
Class Dismissed: a year in the life of an American high school by Meredith Maran
Kitties: a couscous collective collection Evan Waldinger, et al
The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
Collected Earlier Poems, 1940-1960 by Denise Levertov
The New African Poetry edited by Tanure Ojaide and Tijan M. Sallah
Leaving Yuba City by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Straight: the surprisingly short history of heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
Rain of Iron and Ice: the very real threat of comet and asteroid bombardment by John S. Lewis
Believing Is Seeing: observations on the mysteries of photography by Errol Morris
The Jacob’s Ladder by Denise Levertov
Denslow’s Mother Goose by W. W. Denslow
DNA USA: a genetic portrait of America by Bryan Sykes
Legitimate Dangers: American poets of the new century edited by Michael Dumanis & Cate Marvin
Marbles: mania, depression, Michelangelo and me by Ellen Forney

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Jesse Walker, Oz fan

The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 MGM musical, is ubiquitously known. The original L. Frank Baum novel is famous, too, of course, but it’s not long before you’re losing people if you talk Oz. You knew L. Frank Baum wrote sequels to Wizard, right? 13 of them, fourteen if you count a book of short stories. Then there are the children’s fantasies Baum wrote about lands he placed near Oz and characters from those fairylands would stop by Oz (or vice versa). But Baum wrote for a living and his was not the age when a children’s book author could become a billionaire (J. K. Rowling, you go, girl!), so Baum wrote other stories, like the series Aunt Jane’s Nieces for teens, and he collaborated on work for the stage and screen (though those actually are part of how he lost money!), and one must note Baum lived a full life before he wrote The Wizard of Oz. I’ve read all the Oz books and most the rest of Baum’s writing and have read biographies of Baum and studies of the many versions of Oz. I know a lot about Oz and Baum, so I recognize when someone else does, too. 

When I was reading Jesse Walker’s taxonomy of American conspiracy theories, The United States of Paranoia, I was a little surprised when L. Frank Baum showed up being quoted on American Indians. Baum is not going to top anyone’s list of authorities on the topic. Baum started and ran a weekly newspaper in Aberdeen, North Dakota, and in his newspaper Baum tried to calm anti-Indian hysteria, saying, “‘the Indian scare’ was ‘a great injustice’ fanned by ‘sensational newspaper articles.’” Recent Baum commemorations have been protested because Baum later wrote that the situation of the American Indian tribes had become so degraded that the Indians would really be better off dead, so, as Walker says, one “can’t accuse the man of special pleading” in his debunking.  

Oz, post-Baum, appears in Jesse Walker’s discussion of post-WWII era paranoia. After L. Frank Baum died, his publisher contracted with another writer to continue the Oz series. Thus the books continued to make money and provide royalties to Baum’s widow and sons. By the 1940s Jack Snow, a longtime fan, had inherited the mantle of Royal Historian of Oz, and got two Oz books published in the official series. Jesse Walker groups Jack Snow’s The Magical Mimics in Oz with other works of post-WWII dread like John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? which “featured an alien with the ability to adopt the appearance of the people it consumes,” and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers which did pretty much the same thing. “In The Magical Mimics in Oz … supernatural creatures capture Dorothy and the Wizard, adopt their physical forms and take the opportunity to engage in espionage within the Emerald City, searching for the spell that will allow their race of monsters to invade Oz and subject the rest of its people to the same fate.”

L. Frank Baum is listed among famous theosophists in Walker’s chapter on religious conspiracies, and Baum’s Oz-adjacent fantasy, The Sea Fairies, gets quoted to exemplify the metaphor of the octopus as monopolistic capitalism. (The girl, Trot, tells her newfound undersea friends that “‘on the earth, where I live, we call the Stannerd [sic] Oil Company an octopus, an’ the Coal Trust an octopus …’” The octopus Trot is telling this to interrupts her to demand a less insulting metaphor.) 

Clearly Jesse Walker has an unusual depth of knowledge of Oz and L. Frank Baum. I wonder if he’s a member of The International Wizard of Oz Club, like me. 

source: The United States of Paranoia: a conspiracy theory by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tom’s Ghost

In the development of the MP3 sonic compression format the voice of Suzanne Vega was used as a test for the quality of the sound. Vega warbles “Tom’s Diner” a capella on her album Solitude Standing. If you listened to “Tom’s Diner” and couldn’t tell the difference between an MP3 and a loss-less version, the MP3 must be doing a good job. An MP3 takes up a lot less space in your computer’s memory so if it’s works for you as well as a more memory intensive version, you can use that computer memory for important things, like more MP3s. 

I remember Kent found an MP3 version of the original “Tom’s Diner” being presented next to another compression version and a loss-less recording. I listened carefully. But I think I ended up choosing the MP3 as the best-sounding. Maybe it was the fault of the so-so speakers we were using. Maybe I just don’t have a sensitive ear. (You can test yourself at NPR.)

I bought Solitude Standing back in the 80s, mainly because I liked “Luka,” a disturbing story about an abused child set to a sprightly tune. There’s something about unhappiness you can dance to that works for me. The rest of the album was fine, but “Tom’s Diner” didn’t really register until a few years later when DNA released a remix/cover version which not only added extensive backing music to Vega’s unaccompanied voice but recut her vocal so that a passage in which Vega sings da-da-da becomes the chorus and the song ends a few lines short of the original. 

DNA was not the only one to essay a new version of the song. Suzanne Vega gave permission for other artists to alter “Tom’s Diner,” and she ended up with enough interesting versions to compile a CD she called Tom’s Album. Besides the DNA take I really like the one that incorporates the theme music from the old sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. The lyrics are rewritten, too. It grabs the backing music from DNA. It is so weirdly magic in its layers of theft.

Kenneth Goldsmith in his book, Wasting Time on the Internet, writes about 

a project called “Ghost in the MP3” in which [doctoral music student Ryan Maguire] took all of the audio that was removed from the MP3 compression on “Tom’s Diner” and re-presented it … The overall feeling of Maguire’s piece is indeed ghostly, like listening to the inverse of Vega’s song or perhaps an avant-garde ambient remix of it.

I barely hear “Tom’s Diner” in “Ghost in the MP3.” I suppose I have heard ambient remixes of songs that sound about as little like the song they were, um, inspired by? I like this, though. I think my favorite parts are where you hear Vega’s intakes of breath. 

quote source: Wasting Time on the Internet by Kenneth Goldsmith

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Noam Chomsky offers a ray of hope

I’d never read a book by Noam Chomsky, but I knew of him, mostly by reputation. Highly intelligent (some call him a genius for his work in linguistics), highly principled, pessimistic, a political scold. When I saw Chomsky’s newest book, Who Rules the World? at the library, I picked it up, interested in adding to my understanding of him and what he bases his pessimism on. I didn’t think I would be surprised. I wasn’t. But, damn, the book is depressing. Not only is the United States not a heroic force of goodness in the world (yeah, that I knew), it’s pretty much responsible for the bad state of things. If the US were to suddenly vanish, well, would things be worse or better? I suspect “better” would be Chomsky’s guess. 

And this was before Trump. Judging by the way Noam Chomsky looks at things, one might foresee improvement for the rest of the world if under Trump the US stops caring what happens anywhere else so stops spending money on mucking with everybody else’s business. On the other hand, Trump having a vast nuclear arsenal at this disposal can’t be good. Chomsky seems convinced it’s primarily been luck that’s kept us all from being blown to hell. 

What passes for a ray of hope in Chomskyland? How about this:

The strongest stand [against Global Climate Change] has been taken by the one country they [indigenous people] govern, Bolivia, the poorest country in South America and for centuries a victim of Western destruction of one of the most advanced of the developed societies in the hemisphere, pre-Columbus. 
After the ignominious collapse of the Copenhagen global climate change summit in 2009, Bolivia organized a World People’s Conference on Climate Change with thirty-five thousand participants from 140 countries — not just representatives of governments but also members of civil society and activists. It produced a People’s Agreement, which called for very sharp reductions in emissions, and a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

Here are some of the rights declared:

Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights: the right to life and to exist; the right to be respected; the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions; the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being; the right to water as a source of life; the right to clean air; the right to integral health …

You can read the rest of the Declaration at the Rights of Mother Earth website. 

Is there any hope of these rights being respected any time soon? Ever? 

What seems to surprise Noam Chomsky and give him some good feeling is that this initiative is coming from a region, the Americas south of the US, that has so long been the US’s fiefdom, the part of the world where the US has taken for granted it can impose its vision and enforce its preferences, even to launching military coups and paying paramilitaries to kill people the US doesn’t like. Yet here Bolivia is, raising a finger to the man. 

Evo Morales is the Native American president of Bolivia. I remember during the hunt for Edward Snowden, the CIA contractor who released tons of secret data, Bolivia was considering offering Snowden asylum. President Morales’ plane was even searched in Austria to grab Snowden, who, it turned out, wasn’t on the plane. The countries responsible for forcing Morales to land in Austria ultimately said oops, sorry-ish. What they would have said (or done) if Snowden had been on board remains a question. It’s not like the incident showed any respect for Bolivia’s sovereignty. 

quote source: Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky

Monday, March 06, 2017

Johnny Marr, kissed by a boy

As a teen, future Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr had a good gay mate named Tony. “Tony was a beautiful creature, another Bowie fan, with a blonde Ziggy haircut, high cheekbones, and green eyes like a Siamese cat. He wore red Oxford bags [trousers] with white platforms and a black Harrington jacket.” This accounting of clothing choices is not unusual in Johnny Marr’s memoir. The man is into clothes. “Tony was three years older than me and was the first guy I knew who was openly gay. The trends and times [1975] meant that boys who looked like girls, and girls who looked like boys, were commonplace, especially if you were into David Bowie, and plenty of straight men were fashionably camp and effeminate.” Tony came from a tough family, with two older brothers. “Tony wasn’t camp but he was cutting and had a sense of self-possession that gave him a feline poise and inscrutability. … We were together a lot, and it got some people talking, which didn’t bother me …”

So here’s the story of Johnny Marr getting his first male kiss:

The two of us were in PIccadilly Gardens one Saturday afternoon just after I’d had my hair cut. We were waiting at the bus stop when two big uglies with north Manchester accents came over and started making cooing noises and blowing kisses. I looked at Tony’s face as he continued talking to me, and I could see he was aware of the situation. ‘Eh,’ said one of the lads, ‘are you queers?’ They were obviously up for a fight. I readied myself for the inevitable as Tony continued to talk to me with his back to the goons and appeared to be ignoring their remarks until one pushed him in the back and said, ‘Eh, y’fuckin’ queer.’ With that, Tony grabbed my head and kissed me on the lips for what seemed like a very long time, then spun around and attacked the biggest of the two with two really hard punches to the face until the lad went on to his knees. He then grabbed the other guy, who was backing off, punched him very hard in the face and threw him down into the road full of traffic. … [A]s we ran off towards the train station Tony turned to me and said, ‘That was nice’ …

Tony also assured his young friend that no more kisses were to come.

Johnny never describes another same sex kiss so we’re left to assume that this was his one and only. It wasn’t really a consensual kiss, but Johnny seems not have been offended.

In his memoir Johnny Marr never speculates about the sexuality of songwriting partner and Smiths lead singer Morrissey, nor does he offer much in the way of lyric readings, other than that Johnny was proud of the songs they wrote together, Morrissey’s words, as well as his own music.

At one of the Smiths’ first gigs they played one song they hadn’t written themselves: “a song by the girl group The Cookies, called ‘I Want a Boy for My Birthday,’ which I realised would send out a message that not only didn’t bother me but which I was fairly amused by and quite excited about.”

source: Set the Boy Free: the autobiography by Johnny Marr

Monday, February 06, 2017

The irresistible inner emptiness of ABBA

Karl French sums ABBA up in a sentence:

What their songs were increasingly revealing was just a very pop, rather Scandinavian soul, where irresistible pop melodies and harmonies complemented or carried lyrics that explored romantic misery and despair, inner emptiness, artistic exploitation, sexual predation, as well as palm trees, tigers, and the queasy desire to be someone’s fiddle.

I was an ABBAphile as a tween. I bought all their albums. As I listened to them over & over I delved ABBA’s slightly off English and sometimes problematic themes, while, you know, singing along. ABBA wrote more than one divorce song, did you know?

source: ABBA Unplugged by Karl French

Monday, January 23, 2017

Titles Read in 2013

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka & J. H. Williams III
Animal Farm by Sam Sax
Persephone’s November by Rebecca Radner
Flagrant Conduct: the story of Lawrence v. Texas by Dale Carpenter
Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture by Rob Salkowitz
To Hellholes and Back by Chuck Thompson
Bite a chapbook by Amy Dentata
That’s Disgusting: unraveling the mysteries of repulsion by Rachel Herz
Moomin: the complete comic strip. vol 3 by Tove Jansson
Something Good for a Change by Wavy Gravy
Persistent Voices Philip Clark & David Groff, editors
Oddly Normal by John Schwartz
Astonishing X-Men: Northstar by Marjorie Liu & Mike Perkins
Disclamor by G. C. Waldrep
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
Secret Lives of Ants by Jae Choe
Push Open the Window: contemporary poetry from China edited by Qingping Wang
Spook: science tackles the afterlife by Mary Roach
Moomin: the complete comic strip, vol 4 by Tove Jansson
At This Point by Joseph Massey
Cyndi Lauper: a memoir by Cyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn
Out in the Open poems by Cathal O’ Searcaigh
The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse Robert A. Clark, editor
City of Rivers poems by Zubair Ahmed
For All My Walking by Taneda Santoka
March - June
Smokers Die Younger Stephanie Young, editor
Love Cake poems by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
24-Hour Comics edited by Scott McCloud
Fighting to Serve: behind the scenes in the war to repeal DADT by Alexander Nicholson
Of Woman Born: motherhood as experience and institution by Adrienne Rich
Lush Life chapbook of the song by Billy Strayhorn
Song of San Francisco chapbook by Ed Mycue
Santoka: grass and Tree Cairn translations of Santoka by Hiroaki Sato
Areas of Fog by Joseph Massey
The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara & Lenin Play Chess by Andrei Codrescu
I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual by Pierre Seel
Auto Bio poems by Dale Jensen
Straight by Boy George with Paul Gorman
Better Off Without ‘Em by Chuck Thompson
Moomin: complete comic strip, vol 5 by Tove Jansson
The Imaginary Lover by Alicia Ostriker
A Few Perfect Hours & other stories by Josh Neufeld
She’s Such a Geek! women write about science Annalee Newitz, editor
Another Kind of Nation: an anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry edited by Zhang Er and Chen Dongdong
While Eating Oysters a chapbook by Kit Kennedy
Green Age by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Sleeps Like Water a chapbook by Ron Alexander
More Than Human by Tim Flach
Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey
Ogre, Ogre by Piers Anthony
Are You My Mother? a comic drama by Alison Bechdel
March Hares: Fine Madness, 1982 - 2002
Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain edited by Michael Palmer, et al
Once More Out of Darkness & other poems by Alicia Ostriker
Speedy in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
The Wishing Horse of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
An Unfortunate Woman by Richard Brautigan
A Medicine for Melancholy by Ray Bradbury
Miracles: poems by children edited by Richard Lewis
Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions
Urban Myths: 210 poems by John Tranter
Contemporary French Women Poets edited by Carl Hermey
The Other Voice: 20th century women’s poetry in translation edited by Joanna Bankier, et al
Captain Salt in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Handy Mandy in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
The Silver Princess of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
I Killed Adolph Hitler by Jason
Stitches by David Small
Yankee in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
The Enchanted Island of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Pink Thunder by Michael Zapruder
Moon Won’t Leave Me Alone California Poets in the Schools statewide anthology, 2004
A Day for a Lay: a century of gay poetry edited by Gavin Dillard
Two Lines: world writing in translation vol 14, 2007
After Life: poems by Judy Steadman edited by Geri Digiorno, et al
Letters to the Sky by Ann Erickson
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, vol 1 by Bill Watterson
A Voyage Long and Strange: rediscovering the new world by Tony Horowitz
Fatale, book one: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Gay & Lesbian Poetry in Our Time: an anthology Edited by Carl Morse and Joan Larkin
The Voice of the Poet: William Carlos Williams CD and book
What the World Hears California Poets in the Schools statewide anthology, 2009
The Crack in Everything by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies spring 2013
The New Yorker March 9, 2009
Three Vietnamese Poets translated by Linh Dinh
The Wild Kingdom by Kevin Huizenga
Supergods by Grant Morrison
Fatale, book two: The Devil’s Business by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Shazam: Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
The Worst Intentions by Alessandro Piperno
A Splendor of Letters by Nicholas Basbanes
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Volcano Sequence by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Autobiography of a Book as told to Glenn Ingersoll
Letting It Go by Miriam Katin
The Property by Rutu Modan
Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, translated by E. Harden; illustrations by Roberto Innocenti
The Next Day by J. Porcellino, P. Peterson, J. GIlmore
Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins
Voices from Wah-Kon-Tah edited by R. Dodge, J. McCullough
Too Much Coffee Man: Cutie Island by Shannon Wheeler
Flex Mentallo by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Ransom by Jay McInerny
What We Believe But Cannot Prove J. Brockman, editor
Poetry Speaks: hear great poets edited by E. Paschen , R. P. Mosby
Optic Nerve #13 by Adrian Tomine
Being Frida Kahlo and Po Doomand Knock Knock / Not Not three chapbooks by Jim McCrary
September - October
Two Lines. no 15: Strange Harbors 2008
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
Before the Big Bang by Brian Clegg
A Death in Brazil by Peter Robb
Garish Zow Comics #4 summer 2003
No Heaven by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
The Ways of White Folks: stories by Langston Hughes
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein
How Music Works by David Byrne
Rungs a mini comic by Matt Harding
My Life in 26 Letters a chapbook by Justin Hall
Artifice by Alex Woolfson and Winona Nelson
Haiku in English edited by Jim Kacian, P. Rowland, A. Burns
Petaluma Poetry Walk 10-Year Anthology edited by G. Digiorno, B. Vartnaw
Invincible v. 15: Get Smart by Robert Kirkman
Feynman by Jim Ottaviarii, Leland Myrick
Black Sheep #2 by Fredo
Invincible v. 16: Family Ties by Robert Kirkman
Invincible Presents: Atom Eve and Rex Splode by Cereno
The Little Space: poems selected and new, 1968 - 1998 by Alicia Ostriker
Dear Julia by Brian Biggs
Smut Peddler edited by Spike, T. Sebastian, J. Carlson
America in Europe by German Arciniegas
Alternatives to Sex by Stephen McCauley
Dragon Child by Katie Shaw
2-Rabbit, 7-Wind: poems from ancient Mexico translations by Toni de  Gerez
Obscenely Yours by Angelo Nikolopoulos
Thus Spake the Corpse, v. 1: Poetry & Essays Codrescu & Rosenthal, editors
Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick
Panic by Julia Vinograd
The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
A Long Way Gone: memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah
Transposes by Dylan Edwards
The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks
Not My Bag by Sina Grace
Cyncialman: the paperback by Matt Feazell
Weird Life by David Toomey
No Straight Lines: four decades of queer comics edited by Justin Hall
Papercutter #4 a mini comics magazine
Hickee edited by Graham Annable
Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn
The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
Astounding Villain House by Shannon Wheeler
Fran by Jim Woodring
Stuck in the Middle edited by Ariel Schrag
Orange Sunshine: the brotherhood of eternal love & its quest to spread peace, love and acid by Nicholas Schou
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter
Locke & Key, vol. 1 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key, vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill & G. Rodriguez
The Poetry of Our World edited by Jeffery Paine
Locke & Key, vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill
Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me by Harvey Pekar
Runner Runner a mini comics anthology edited by Greg Means
Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall
Young Avengers: Style Substance by Gillen & McKelvie
The Horizontal Poet by Jan Steckel
Wolverine & the X-Men, vol. 1 by Jason Aaron, et al
Wolverine & the X-Men, vol. 2 by Jason Aaron, et al
King-Cat Comics and Stories #73 by John Porcellino
Papercutter #15, #16, and #17 a mini comics magazine
The Wonder City of Oz by John R. Neill
Wolverine & the X-Men, vol. 3: Avengers v. X-Men by Jason Aaron, et al
The Unsubscriber by Bill Knott