31 May, 2008

I think I lost it -- lemme know if you come across it

I'm always losing things. Normally, said things are books or CDs. Predictably, if I replace these things, they will disappear again. Now, I have possessed some items nearly my whole life, but it's as if some jack-ass external and possibly supernatural force doesn't want me to have certain items. It's usually an ex who winds up with these things, either via thievery or dumb luck, but they are always the same items go missing. These include, but are not limited to, copies of The Sun Also Rises, The Book of Nightmares, Being There, A Hard Days Night and a People's History of the United States. To cope, I replace the books with used paperbacks (they, too, will disappear) and have replaced the music with burned and borrowed tracks from friends.

Reading over the above paragraph reminds me I should have coffee before anything else any morning, and await my home-raid from the RIAA brownshirts. Those are other stories.

26 May, 2008

that long train west

I am currently without TV or home internet access. It's been a long holiday weekend and I've been a bit removed for the past few days from current events. Accordingly, it was in an email received this morning I was informed of the passing of Utah Phillips. He was a giant in american folk/protest music, though apparently not giant enough to get an obit into the likes of The New York Times or any of those mainstream presses.

I suppose Utah's a guy most of us who work in words & music should know of, though it can take a good, knee-skinned climbing of that old family tree to get to his work. He's been covered by Tom Waits and Waylon Jennings, and nominated for a grammy for a spoken-word and guitar album he recorded with Ani DiFranco in 1995.

I'm pretty sure that Ani collaboration was my first introduction. Mid '90s, some carloaded road-trip with my ex and three friends to some concert in Cincinnati and one of them brought a 'utah and ani' cassette along. I have since become familiar with the man's music, but the one thing still ringing in my ears goes back to that August day. It was a rough and sticky trip -- my girlfriend's car had overheated and we were literally on the verge of pissing into the radiator on the side of I-75 to limp the remaining 20 miles or so to our destination. At some point before or after we were listening to that tape & Utah was rhapsodizing on the bankrobbers of the great depression, on how so many americans back then looked to them as heroes. After all, they stuck it to the very banks who had foreclosed on so many homes, farms, dreams ...

All of this is going through my head about an hour after walking up N. Lincoln Ave., where H-wood folks have redone its 2400 block to look something like it may have in 1934, when G-men chased a man they believed to be John Dillinger down an alley outside the Biograph Theater and shot him in the back. This hulabaloo for a new blockbuster movie with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. I've not read the screenplay, but have skimmed the book, which comes off as at least mildly pro-G-men ...

All of this on a day when politicians spout talking points on remembering fallen soldiers. That's all well and good, but somehow I'm stuck thinking also of folks who died fighting for other things we take for granted -- an eight-hour work day, job security, a livable wage ...

25 May, 2008

gallery cabaret freewrite

for s.m.

always a ghost
on the piano
& the departed I knew
too many already
the smoke eater
cracks over a low point
of Thursday’s open-mic, Waiting on a Friend
played badly though
apropos & now a piece
about the ‘muse,’ a notion
I fail to grasp
apart from old myths. We’ve broken up
w/our others
this week &
why else to meet
for beer &
whiskey &
comiserate. The bar closes.
I walk her to the Blue Line.
I want to kiss her
& she tries. I hail a cab
home to Edgewater.

under the loyola el pkg. goods freewrite #

you were telling me
about yr. dream, the one
begins you wake

@ his place
preoccupied w/leaving
to feed yr. dog

& put off cleaning
write something
go shopping

but he’s not there
when the guests
begin to arrive

uninvited, the couple
fucking in his pantry &
univ. colleagues

their theses
sounds like

… yr. overwhelmed, I offer
by the lot of it
it’s late

we’ve nursed liters of wine
watching Jeunet in yr.
living room in un-

folded camping chairs
Wed. night rocking
back in them, taking turns

our mutual, amateur
shrink game you sd.
there were eels

in yr. suitcase
I noticed
yr. boots

on the dumpster
& the snow
hits yr. window

I remember Kinnell’s Book
of Nightmares, his
2ndhand shoes

(each star, ev’ry
1, see
is a magnet.

& the gravity
of these chairs
finds us

in our 30s, here
to sort thru
timing &

years &
just what) I’m

singing Dylan
to myself
at the bar -- I wouldn’t

worry about it none, though
those dreams are only in yr. head.

fake Campbell McGrath pome

I slept in
S made coffee & eggs
I checked the weather online
it was warm
for Jan.
I ate my breakfast
I packed lunch
(an apple, 2 peanut butters on wheat)
I went outside &
it felt like spring
I was late for work
the el smelled like human piss
there was a shakedown
at the bughouse
across from the library, 2 homeless guys on a bench
fingered by bike cops for booze
in a soda can & forced
to dump it. One walked away.
The other slept on a bench.
The rich took their dogs inside.


mister moustaches ...

Went friday night to a friend's "moustache party." As can be surmised, this event asked each attendee to arrive wearing a moustache/moustaches (whether real or fake). It was a good time. I opted for a small soul patch, as actual moustaches make me look like some sort of cop or football coach or hapless third-world dictator ... not enough for the party's organizer, however, and within minutes I was bestowed with a dollar-store paste-on moustache of the handlebar/Snidely Whiplash variety. I enjoyed wrinkling my upper lip to make it appear alive, like any good silent film villain. Soon, though, I had to remove it, as it was causing quite a nasty allergic reaction. Apparently these things are made of asbestos ...


Saturday, some good friends from the poetry thing had a cookout. I rode the 76 bus west to the 9 south to the 72 then a-way, way west to their cute house in Humboldt Pk. Something about the aroma of real charcoal smoke and meat ... It was a good crowd, fairly eclectic, and the food was out of this world. I was pleasantly surprised with my friend's concocted 'rattlesnake shot.' OK, well, she didn't invent it so much as she introduced it to me, but it was quite good & quite potent. German cherry brandy, canadian whiskey & sweet & sour mix, so a sort of play on a whiskey sour or something like that ....


I was going to write a longer, thought-out treatise on the state of american politics, the so-called vice-presidential shortlists that have found their way into the mainstream media. What really could I say or do, other than to quite boringly & boorishly inject my own two cents into an already overloaded fountain? Next time, next time.