Wednesday, October 31, 2007

me with me, she with she

gotta get out a quick one about a review of all things. the new yorker review of frida kahlo's show in minneapolis. perhaps it's the same show as the one that was at museo del barrio a few years back. not sure though. god that one was protested on by spics in new york who were mad that the museo didn't have any porto rikkins in there at the time. i was just livid cuz of all the people to protest, frida, frida? really? she who has given spic chicks of all stripes a whole vocabulary of flavor, please. everyone, porto rikkins and mexicans and all the other random spiclings from lands no one's ever heard of (like myself), owe such a debt, fuck em if they don't understand. anyway, this reviewer does, peter schjeldahl, he killed it. i know i'm doing a critique of a critique but i'm good at that. i might have mentioned that in a previous post. anyway, he admits to his near-cultishness in the end, to being a fan and he loves her so well in this piece. he gets how she gets herself, how in her self-portraits she's not looking out at the viewer but at herself looking at herself, exuding "a superbly indifferent confidence." perfect. he talks about her pertaining more to an avant-garde called new objectivity more than to surrealism and i wonder if that has to do with objectivist stuff i've learned about in poetry, the precursors of language school folks, sort of abstract and precise at the same time, stuff i am all about. i saw a little portrait of hers at moma in august among all the folks, dali and miro and magritte and everybody and i was just swelling around all them but when i got to her, i bust open. it was so little and intimate her piece. an early one. her sitting in a chair, dressed in a man's suit, her hair cut off in pieces on the floor and the lyrics and music to a song in spanish clearly sung by some dude about how i don't love you anymore cuz you cut your hair. here it is: it's "mire si te quise fue por el pelo, ahora que estás pelona ya no te quiero," "if i loved you if was for your hair, now that you're bald i don't care." i was so thrilled that she put songs in her paintings cuz i put songs in my poems. i was so happy to see this lady staring out at herself like i do at me in the lens of my camera, in the reflection of my computer screen. schjeldahl also called her "blissfully scornful of self-importance," more perfect phrasing, more words to live by, to become. she is a great latin love of mine, one of the first, way before bolaño, as self-aware and brilliant and a lady, dammit. so glad to be reminded that her self-portraiture wasn't about ego but about self-exploration, the dissecting of the only specimen that deserves such terrible, amazing scrutiny.

and now, to address the new day, happy halloween! after the article, i ignored the tedious work at home i had to do and donned my outfit for tomorrow/today, the reprisal of my role as she-hulk, this encore performance for my niece. i still fit in the torn jeans and shirt but it don't matter if it's tight cuz she-hulk is busting out of her shit too. i will get to work but frida and halloween and the 3-dolla trader joe's wine makes me dream, be me and not me. excuse me while i paint my nails black.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


great art comes for you where you are. it is so large it finds you, small you, in the middle of your turmoil, of your frenetic living. i am talking about savage detectives and emperor's babe, the latest book i started, but really right now i am talking about a tv show. mad men. it finished its season this last week and i've been watching it thru on demand.

talking about a show is in some ways as hard as talking about a novel because great shows have epic qualities. of course this one is from people involved with the sopranos so clearly, epic qualities, complex characters and storylines, layers constantly peeled off. some reviews say it moves too slow. i think that has made me pay more attention, slow down for it. the payoffs coming later are so satisfying i stand up from my couch and clap. i should apply that slowing down to my life but that is a whole other show that needs a lot of work.

mad men is about advertising guys on madison avenue at the beginning of the 60s. the secretary pool is like a harem and the wives are tucked away upstate while the men roam manhattan, lying and selling. it's about mythology and misogyny. it is totally irresistible to me. tonight it even slapped me awake from the foolishness i live. the lead man is basically clark kent, jet black hair, looks like he's gonna bust out of his suit, but his alter ego is not a hero, he is all the shame that america loves hiding. i could even lend him my updated alter ego moniker, pena honda, deep pain, deep shame, said with the head buried in the hands. it's a shame of poverty and unwantedness, his more than mine but mine is certainly related and empathic, empathetic?, pathetic at times yes, connected to the blood that has felt such hurt.

the leading lady in the show is not his wife but his secretary, who is not his daughter but he treats like one, or at least like some kind of little sister. she is smart of course and of course becomes the first lady to write copy in that taliban-ass office. she is young and her mythology is just forming in some devastating ways. one episode has her in the throes of an affair with a junior executive one moment, celebrating her first successful copy the next, and losing that boy in the last. it's much better than that even. i don't want to give away too many details even though i know most everyone i know who reads this won't see it for months if ever cuz of lack of cable, or lack of its priority in their lives. but at this point the details aren't so important. it's the feeling it's giving me. that what i suffer thru ain't shit. that it's time to be an adult no matter how much i fight it. that i can be a smarter person. that i can see thru illusion once and for all. that i shouldn't discard my instincts. that self-preservation matters. it destroys too but it matters.

the last episode found me where i'm at cuz it dealt with nostalgia, a.k.a. saudade, a.k.a. mythology. inkaquatic thought i was gonna be more brutal about all the abusers of the word but when i got to it (see "the abuse of saudade") i realized that's just not the point of the word. not that the writers don't deserve some lashing for their superficial use. still the important thing is the feeling. clark kent of mad men, his name is don draper, sort of, he talked all about it. something about a greek root for nostalgia that is about a literal pain from an old wound, a twinge in the heart at the memory of it. i discussed saudade with kalyban and we wikied it and there were other words in german and japanese that he latched onto, more nuances for this missing feeling (, scroll down to "See Also sehnsucht and mono no aware"). don draper, a.k.a. clark kent, a.k.a. pena honda, was using nostalgia to sell product and he uses family portraits of his own, him and his barbie doll wife and 2.4 children, the ones he won't be with for thanksgiving cuz he's selling product that sells memories, in this case the carousel projector that provided those suburban slide shows for decades. not like i would really know anything about that, i'm not that generation or that race or even really that nationality to know about that kind of american nostalgia. the only way i know about is from watching tv families like the brady bunch watching slide shows in their episodes.

it's tall tales upon tall tales, us creating ourselves constantly, an idea as frightening as it is empowering. it gets frightening when say the show connects the nixon-kennedy election to the fraud of today, the illegitimacy we've always lived with in this country, all of it as fixed as any sport. it is empowering when it shows one mistress of clark kent's, a jewess too smart and self-worthy to believe illusion, calling him out, calling him a coward, someone she doesn't know. she wanted to believe that surface as much as anyone in america does, especially anyone outside of what is considered american, but she couldn't ignore the truth behind the myth when it peeled back before her. it made me unwrap the reality of the crap i've been living with today, the fixation, the refusal to see what's true. yes, about men, but about me, about history, personal and large. it's a lot that some two-dimensional character has that much to say to me but that's how i'm gotten to, mythologically. the reality is not enough. i need the parallel, the reflection. the only way i see me.


Thursday, October 18, 2007


i am the nightbreaker yet again. fighting sleep like my five-year-old niece. i thought i shouldn't go to bed without singing of the unsung. i had my music class tonight, the latin band, a sporadic thing that's what comes closest in my life to a workout. it is spanish chanting, harmonizing for someone so used to disconnection. it is where i blend in in some productive way, something that contributes to some worthwhile whole, not just a disappearing act.

i am one of the guys, one girl among guys but over years, a guy or a sis, with a sound like theirs, made up of many tongues, not just the obvious ones. there is english and spanish but there is also trumpet and bari sax and bongos and timbales and jokes and moans and looks and gestures. it's ten to fifteen of us in a little room coming together wednesday nights when the jobs or the stresses don't get in the way.

tonight i was energetic cuz i am between work and have had plenty of rest. there is monthly blood rushing thru me and that can throw off the notes sometimes, as if my instrument, this body, is out of tune, an equilibrium thrown off. it wasn't so bad today cuz the blood is a few days underway but there was a little tension in the muscles that can make the sound coming out of me a little sharp and eager. i got to a mellow place at one point going over a phrase with the director and the bassist, over and over, till i forgot the other people in the room and rode the notes, followed them towards something true. that's when the sweat on my forehead cools and i don't make eye contact with anyone cuz i've stopped seeing. it's all about the hearing. my head is tilted in the direction of the giant speaker in the corner and i'm inhaling the sound of me becoming the song.

today i felt my part in the band. we are all crucial pieces and there are times i believe i am not one cuz i'm not holding anything in my hand, except maybe the mic stand, holding onto it to ground me. but in this case i see it is as wrong to think you are nothing, you have nothing to contribute, as it is to think you are everything, that none of it could be without you. i am part of the time-keeping, the coro chant i get to do is often people's favorite timepiece in these songs, the one that is most obvious. what i bring is as essential as the rasp of the güiro or the clang of the cowbell (cowbell of my heart i used to call it). i make something as steady as those beats, something a little smoother even, ghostly words that get broken down into their parts, syllables, notes, spirits, as they are uttered. today i was repeating asi no se quiere a nadie, ah see no seh kee eh reh ah nah dee eh. that's not how you love someone. over and over. that's not how you love someone on a roller coaster of notes. i was hearing it and telling it, inside and outside of it, to me and the band and the walls and the windows. that's not how you love someone. this is how you sing that's not how you love someone.

i'm in that class because of a past love long gone. i abandoned it for a long time cuz i couldn't deal with the memory. but time passed and i have time to keep with a chant and a note that know a better truth than what's past. every time they come out of my mouth new time gets made. it makes me glad to be the savage beast i've always been cuz the cure for me is easy, cliche, well-known. the song soothing me, making me as i make it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

baltz waltz

ball imagery everywhere. wow. i just got a clipping from a magazine a friend pulled out for me that affirms my theory. ball imagery is all the rage. for me it started with tell me you love me on hbo. lots of balls right away, flashes of penis but really ball shots, from-the-back type shots, creatively concealing dick but revealing balls. dick makes things like way too x-rated or something like it’s against the law, but balls get around the law. and the from-the-back shot is more getting around the law, the penis.

i saw eastern promises and that is notorious for the naked fight scene at the end. viggo mortensen, a specimen rolling around in a nude knife fight. and ballz, everywhere. behind the back shots, short curved knives like eastern penises and quick teasing flying ballz. gruesome and i couldn’t look away.

i say ballz like da bullz, da bearz, ballz.

there was also this story i read written by another friend. i was just discussing the ball rage with him some minutes before and he hands me the story he had been working on. smack in the middle, ballz. a consideration of ballz, the protagonist mulling em over in the shower, one thought of as alien-like, wizened.

maybe it should be baltz, like waltz.

and now this clipping from time out new york, their sex issue. they rate hi-res porn and the classic dvd wins out cuz who wants high-res balls and pimples and hairs and shit. the pull quote said something about “high-resolution balls were the deal breaker.” i could see how that could be misconstrued as anti-baltz too but that would be wrong, they’re just pro-blurry baltz.

most of these balls in the ball trend of today are just whizzing by. there’s no pause or close-up in tell me you love me or eastern promises, none of the historical treatment of bressesses, the gaze fixed on those twins. that’s the beauty of the baltz nowadays. they’re ever elusive. dangled before you and gone before you can reach out and stroke em. my friend who gave me the clipping would say lick em but it’s not his blog. right now i’m saying stroke em. the world outside the blog can add or remove whatever detail.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

the abuse of saudade

it's just me and the memories. there is no one around already. me and a screen full of memories. i was watching hip hop honors tonight because of tribe called quest. there were many great other acts, whodini especially but tribe broke my heart. they were my true love 15 years ago. on the video where they talk about how they came to be, phife and q-tip were on opposite sides. they brought back jarobi. he was on like one and a half albums but he was around in the beginning. phife looked run down. he looked ill. i didn't know what was going on with him. it killed me. to me he grew stronger with every album. q-tip was always the lead but phife held it up. and then from what i understand they fell out. that is the story of so many lives, so many i know, so many lives that crossed with mine.

when they got onstage it was excellent. phife seemed energetic, they were ready to go. they did it, they were alive and performing. i don't think they've been on a stage together in a decade, way more if you count that jarobi was there. i think he came back just to help hold them up. i rhymed along but i was stifling tears.

in the middle of it, i was thinking about this word that has been abused quite a bit lately by a few writers. inkaquatic knows. saudade. she says sow-dah-d, like cesaria evora and i say sow-dah-gee the way i learned in the gajillion brazilian songs i've heard and in rio thirteen years ago. there have been some writers that we respect, black american writers, that can overromanticize the romance languages and then call spics overly sentimental. well, the first i learned of the possibility of such abuse was from a black brazilian friend who was so close to me and now is a memory, like an image on a screen. she, fifteen years ago, was sick of the romance that americans, black and white alike, made of the world south, of the tongue south. she and i, like tip and phife, like me and a few great inspirational friends, have gone our ways and i see that saudade is more than nostalgia or romance or illusion, it's regret. it's shame and loss and hurt. it's someone else's and it's very mine. it's very hers and his, my friends who are not anymore. who exist in some other dimension, on some street of cracked concrete in brooklyn, on some dirt road on a mountain in brazil, going on in their own universe, as i go on in my own. the romance word is not to be abused. it's to be whispered to yourself in front of a screen like a memory, to reconstitute the disembodied you, the collapsed memory of us.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007


i am back by request. hasn't been that long. i am so moved cuz of a movie again. the immediacy of a movie, the immediate movement it creates. there were actually two movies today. maybe three. all connect as always in my scary mazelike funhouse head. i watch the movies in pieces often. perhaps i've said this before. cuz of the repetition of cable, cuz i have no tivo. so i won't write about the movies as wholes, in one paragraph. i'll do it as i saw it chronologically:

last night:

the year of the dog - i started watching this. got like an hour into it. got it from netflix. i've been slowing down with that lately. have two other movies i haven't watched for a month. this one is an indie by mike white who did school of rock but i love him more for chuck and buck. school of rock rocked though. i love chuck and buck cuz it's secret name is chuck and buck suck and fuck. this year of the dog stars molly shannon who i often find a little too much but she was mellow and there were plenty quirky indie characters some played up more than others. laura dern kinda overdid it but there could be someone as annoying and blonde and suburban as her character in the world. a little bit of the same with regina king but i was so happy to see her be something totally different, perky and prissy and in denial and hot, like a black white girl. she was a real-life annoying possibility too.


hollywoodland - i saw this some weeks ago at my fam's house, they of the endless cable and large-screen tvs, from whence i came. i watched it for what i heard about ben affleck in it, that he is not half-bad, to see if that was true. he plays the dead george reeves, the 1950s tv superman. it's about whether he was murdered or committed suicide. adrien brody is a shady private dick who looks into the death. it's long and done in flashback and i think it got mixed reviews but it has grown on me after several viewings. i got to see it from the very beginning but had to stop cuz i was hungry and needed to go to the supermarket and get some food for this bare fridge. fuckin workin in an office makes me forget about my fuckin needs. i stay eating out and not dealing with the barrenness at home. so yeah, so i watched like an hour and a half. i do enjoy the failure tales, that's really what it is. george reeves is hella disgruntled cuz his career is going in a direction he doesn't dig and i guess that's why everyone digs ben affleck in it, cuz he's got a well to tap into with that one. he wears a fake nose too, like nicole kidman in the hours. it sometimes makes me notice that it's him more, him in a fake nose. but he sinks into it. there is a comic sadness, he stays cracking a joke when he's real down, like chandler on friends. using humor to mask the pain. don't we know about that.

star wars part 3, the one where darth vader is born - of all the recent star wars, even perhaps of all the star wars, this one is hard for me to fight watching. it is great contemplative shit. i just have it on as background while i do whatever, use the toilet, wash the dishes, read some articles on the net. there are just little lines that work for me. like yoda with some shit about fear of loss leads to the dark side, something like that. yoda my guru. i know that this particular series of star wars is hella cheesy but this last one that considers the formation of darkness is just irresistible. oh and i think this time around i changed my mind about how i felt about padme. i was calling her a chicken for the longest and she is in a way but she is the one too that says all the important shit about the war and the government's deception. but she wants love to make everything ok somehow and i would get mad at her cuz she was so fierce with the larger picture but the smaller one, she couldn't see cuz of luv. she couldn't see that not only what was going on with the senate was evil, so was her man. her man was a problem and i just kept telling her, i am so sorry your man is the devil. i also thought that obi-wan got punked by anakin too so padme wasn't alone in the chicken coop. i understand punkedness as of late since i had to deal with a friend who's way harsher than i thought and i was way softer with her than i wanted to be. but i'm soft like a punk chicken, like padme and obi-wan's love child. at least today, in the last 24, 48 hours. i definitely have some anakin days, where the chancellor is my guru and he's all, notice, young devil, how anger focuses you. i didn't see this whole thing cuz i've seen it a million times. saw like the first two hours. i know the rest. i always try to catch some of the hotness of the end, the creation of darth scenes, true terrible beauty, can't look away.

hollywoodland - the last hour. i was doing other things while the part i saw earlier recapped for me. answered some e-mails, ate a late dinner, folded laundry, drank a little wine, smoked a little bud. i saw the middle to end part i always miss. bob hoskins got to be a surprise in the end. he was a movie mogul married to diane lane who keeps ben affleck as a boy toy. bob himself has some japanese hottie as his toy. they all go to dinner together, the married couple and their side things. when ben affleck is gone, bob is real sympathetic and stands by his lady, tells her he ain't going nowhere. he does it smoothly. i have decided i do like ben in this, he is this role and he knows it and works it. i also dig this one random aspect of the character. he has a mexican friend that he sings sad spanish love songs with, excuse me, with whom he sings sad spanish love songs. ben affleck, singing, in spanish, and well. glad he learned something from jennifer, i'm sure he licked her enough to get some spanish on that tongue. perhaps he was singing a farewell song to her. i thought it was funny that a failure has a spic friend. ben even gets called beaner at some point.

the year of the dog - got me. the last hour got me. molly shannon kept it together, never went too nuts with a character that clearly was. she became a crazy dog lady which is really worse than being a crazy cat lady cuz at least most cats fit in a house. not all dogs do. not 15 of em. it was disgusting and hilarious. the mellow pace leads up to this excellent epiphany that made me just burst outta nowhere. i totally cried. it was totally what i was talking about with my friend who was way harsh and that got me in so much trouble. about finding what you love. it requires sacrifice, a willingness to leave a lot behind and she talks some game but doesn't seem willing. i have to understand that. i was happy to see a lady, an imaginary lady who was willing. crazy and willing. brave. i am kinda getting sick of cowardice, especially my own. i have dealt with so much of it. especially my own. i do and don't know what that means for me. it means i have to face more shit with the writing certainly but besides that, i don't know. even just dealing with the writing, or putting it out there, has made this last month or two different, not so routine, surprising. i've tried to meet a lot of people who do this and the more i meet, the more i meet. the more i meet, the more i want to speak and write, the less i want to secretly hate and quietly complain. people do that openly and formally, on the page, among people who get it. no need to hide. i think though i am learning something about sympathy too, about not being so harsh.

i hope i love these words and writing as much as the crazy dog lady loves her animals. right now i think i do. bolaño reminds me to love again. tonight, the requester of this blog entry wondered what will happen when i am done with the book. i am about ten pages from the end now. i think he meant what it will do to my writing. i will have to give it time. but already i see that i am not afraid of fucking with time like bolaño does, like it does to me. i always thought i didn't understand complex structure but i live in it, we all do. this world is breaking us apart into so many pieces, everyone in so many pieces. i think of all the disembodied friends i have, who are just voices on a phone line, words in thin space, cyber air. i think of the way we receive information, all that stuff that seems so accessible but really can be just so many more new ways to misunderstand. a broken existence like this little day of thoughts broken by movies broken by errands broken by voices. i got thru it. there was a second i thought i wouldn't.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

what bolaño is doing to me (bolaño pt 2)

he's making me observe writers and write about it. it's dangerous business. he had time and distance. i'm processing right now. but that is the nature of this age we're living in, everything moving way too fast. little perspective, fuck it. it's not like what i'm saying here is so extreme. names are removed but unfortunately that means i can't cite the excellent poem i'm bringing up here that made me see things clearer.

i just listened to a poem online. it was about the word faggot. i burst at the end cuz it had a sound that was made for that, bursting, as i do, tears popping outta my head. i really needed to burst. I was all tense, mildly hungover, at the end of a cup of coffee, confused by a night out with a bunch of poets, not so terribly confused but confused enough. there was something reserved about how people dealt with each other. there were guards up and then down at certain moments but mostly up. it didn’t feel terrible but it didn’t feel great. only at the reading when I was hiding in the back and just listening to the work, to the words, did it really feel ok. and then right after, with the wine and mingling. there was mingling right after the reading, standing in some parlor, everyone stopping and talking and then meandering about and crashing into each other and stopping again and talking to each other and laughing. at the dinner table later on, there was much less of that.

listening to this poem right now, a great lyrical emotional thing, it seems clear to me, tangible like sitting in the back, hearing the readers last night. there is an urgency. there is a song. there’s dealing with a word so hard that most can’t deal i think and this poet wrapped it around her finger and then let it go. she was completely intimate with the word and that’s just my preferred reality, facing a hard thing and freaking it, just working that thing until it’s yours and then gone.

she is dealing with an ugly thing, isn't afraid of that ugly. last night there was something pretty in the poets, a reserve that was dropped at times in a way that was surprising and necessary but I wanted more. i wanted them to get really ugly, to get loud. There was clearly thought and consideration and rage in them. I wanted to see them just release it. when we sat down to dinner, I couldn’t really deal with the reserve and I wished I had made an earlier exit. I wished I had some energy. it had waned with the wine and the sangria, just more wine. I preferred not to engage much rather than be too ugly, too loud, too wanting to make a scene. maybe we should have been standing instead of sitting at that table, too many strangers drinking.

i wished this poet above had come along. I wished another poet who brought lots of energy earlier and called all kinds of shit out had been there too. some lively ass folks unafraid to be loud. it didn’t feel appropriate for me to be the one to do it. I needed a gang. but then that just meant I went along with what was wrong in that picture.