Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Born Free

Born Free is the book Joy Adamson wrote about raising Elsa the lioness and reintroducing her to the wild. The insanely catchy, treacly song comes to mind immediately. But of course Adamson did not write her book with that ditty plinking away in the African trees above her. I remember the movie, too (for which the song is the main theme). I'm sure I watched it at school. I'd thought it was a documentary. There are lots of pictures of Elsa in the books and Adamson mentions filming her antics. But I guess it's not.

In my stack of books I like to keep a book about animals going. I thought I had the sequel to Born Free. After I finished Born Free this afternoon I went upstairs to the library but found only the third book, Forever Free. Oh. Third book? Guess I'll have to check the bookstores for Living Free, the second book, if I don't want to miss anything. The Berkeley library only has Born Free. It has a single book condensation of the trilogy, but I want every word. Every word, I tell you!

Not that the writing is great. It's the story that's fun, not the prose. Prob'ly the shorter version is better. I mean, even in Born Free do we need to know about every time Elsa shows up after a few days living on her own? When for the fourth time she greets everybody by bumping her face against their knees, well, it's like a series of baby pictures ... if it's not your kid every forehead wrinkle is not equally interesting.

Still, if I see Living Free for a couple bucks I'll pick it up.

Sadly, both Joy and husband George died in the 1980s at the hands of human beings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kafka's diary

some excerpts:

"I can't endure worry, and perhaps have been created expressly in order to die of it."


"Leafed through the diary a little. Got a kind of inkling of the way a life like this is constituted."


"The beginning of every story is ridiculous at first. There seems no hope that this newborn thing, still incomplete and tender in every joint, will be able to keep alive in the completed organization of the world, which, like every completed organization, strives to close itself off. However, one should not forget that the story, if it has any justification to exist, bears its complete organization within itself even before it has been fully formed; for this reason despair over the beginning of a story is unwarranted ..."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

writing in books

Neighbor across the street was hosting his annual yard sale fundraiser for the Oakland Jazz Choir today.

I poked around the tables. Spotted the Collected Poems of George Oppen, gave its pages a cursory flip through, then saw Mina Loy’s Lost Lunar Baedeker. Even in Berkeley one doesn’t usually see such poets in the rummage. I also picked up The Trouble with Harry Hay, a biography of a “founder of the modern gay movement” (as the cover has it). A couple bucks for a good cause, right? I figured I would get around to reading these.

Once home, turning the pages with more care, I discovered the Loy and Oppen had been annotated by a jittery black pen. The reader didn’t say much, usually seemed satisfied with underlining and drawing arrows. Loy’s vocabulary seems to have given trouble. Her “Diurnally variegate” is translated as, “daily diversifying.” And “sialagogues” gets this definition, “anything that stimulates flow of saliva” – had I paper to write I’m sure I would have broken out the dictionary at this point, too.

In one rare bit of editorializing the reader cries out, “Oh yeah! baby” to the following Loy couplet:

I am the false quantity
In the harmony of physiological potentiality

… On the whole marked up books bug the fuck out of me. Had I seen the student’s scrawlings I would have put these back on the table.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CMJ New Music Monthly

Favorite song from the newest (issue no.133) sampler CD:

"Be Careful What You Wish For, It Might Come True" by Gabby La La

Monday, August 08, 2005

The New Yorker

I've let my New Yorker subscription lapse. How much of it did I read?

I did read one short story.

Several poems.

Most of the cartoons.

Entered the cartoon caption contest two or three times. But the winners usually weren't funny. (Kent was all excited about the thing until they'd print the finalists ...)

Realized how much the Talk of the Town political essays have been superceded by my blog reading.

It's not like I need to turn to the NYer for movie reviews. But I probably read a higher percentage of their movie reviews than any other department.

Why do I so often feel I'm wasting my time when I'm reading magazines?

This is from the July 4 issue, which happens to be on the floor near me, "Nearly every statement [Clothing designer] Kawakubo makes about herself is hedged or negated by a contradiction, and she resists being defined even by her own words. The desire to be unique and the sense of isolation that the feeling generates are a predicament common to artistic people." -- Judith Thurman

The first statement is true enough about me, I guess.

But the second annoys me. It may describe Kawakubo accurately but I know "the desire to be unique" is not the reason I hedge and speak slowly around what I mean. It's my not wanting to lie, it's my wanting to be precise, it's my following the travel of my thought. Do I feel a "sense of isolation"? I do. It's not because I want "to be unique". I also wonder about Thurman's "artistic people" ... does she mean "artists"?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Free Lunch

Free Lunch is a digest-sized poetry magazine that's been publishing for several years. Now that I think about it, for a little magazine, it's quite longevitous.

Its name comes from its queer genesis. Ron Offen is the editor & publisher and, I believe, founder, and he thought, the not unusual thought, there aren't many rewards to being a poet these days. Sure, you toil away perfecting your little objet d' language and once you've got it tweaked and retweaked its little word-shaped heart is buzzing away like a whiskery snouted shrew's, sure either to burn out in days and leave a fuzzy corpse or incandesce in a way that surprises everybody. That's not a reward? What more can you ask!

But Ron said to hisself, I could start a magazine and gift a subscription to every True Poet I find.

Well. Indeed.

I like this idea. Not just cuz I'm one o' dem Trues who gots a sub (eat your hearts out) but because the poetry economy is the gift economy, really, and it's time we faced it (I'm talkin' to you, poets). I've sent batches of poems to Ron over the years and he hasn't cottoned to any enough to publish them, but a free subscription isn't a bad rejection slip.

I read each issue cover to cover. And I don't dislike it more than Poetry Magazine, I suppose. The latest issue, which appeared in my just-renewed po box yesterday, is the first-person free issue. Ron's been buggin' about the state of contemporary poetry (he reads the unsolicited fat envelopes, don't he?) and decided one thing it could do was stop moaning about its own problems (I/me/mine) and start looking around, maybe see what's going on next door and talk about that maybe. I've only read a couple poems so far. They've done that one thing. That was the one thing they had to do in order to get in this time.