30 June 2005

Capparis Spinosa (which is not a philosopher's prank)

so I was reading John Latta's review of Joseph Massey & came across a reference to capers being nasturtium seeds.

there's always a jar of capers in my kitchen. but I never thot of their origin. nasturtiums   huh? naturally I did some googling & found an excellent site by Ben Alkire. he sez they are the immature flower buds of the caperbush.

for me the glory of the caper is that pungent stab to the tongue while nasturtium petals provide the nose with a jolt. in fact "nasturtium" means "nose-twist."

anyway all of this has made me feel terribly Marianne Moore this morning.

28 June 2005

"blow out yr candles..."

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I placd a banana on Carmen Miranda's grave in Rio & a Campbell's soup can on Warhol's in Pittsburgh.

for my visit to Tennessee Williams' grave I brought along a candle -- thinking of the line from "The Glass Menagerie." you can imagine my surprise to find that very line on the adjacent grave of his sister Rose.

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(special thx to Garry Hawk who kindly drove me to Calvary Cemetery & then suggestd Crown's. I'm certain the hellish weather wd've prohibitd me from going to either via public transportation.)

27 June 2005

the big swelter

St. Louis in the summer is such a challenge I understand why they sing the blues.

I stayd in a walk-up in an old guesthouse in the Soulard destrict. in the torpor of evening standing on the balcony outside my door I felt like Tom Wingfield doing his sililoquy.

yes when you wake up & it's already 80 & muggy it makes for a difficult day of sightseeing   esp for someone like me who insists on learning a new city by walking it. but one must endure that punishment to partake of the glory that is St. Louis.

let's start with the Grand Hall of Union Station. surely one of the most breathtaking structures in the nation. sitting in the middle of its beauty I began to weep. then there are the vintage homes around Lafayette Park which had me singing along with Judy Garland to "Meet Me in St. Louis." & Crown's Candy Kitchen is a delightful soda fountain of the kind I recall from boyhood. the BLT is abundant in B & the generous milkshake is brought to table in its mixing container.

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but the reason I came to the dangerous ozone levels of St. Louis was for the opera. & I wasn't disappointd. Colin Graham has mountd a majestic production of Britten's "Gloriana." Christine Brewer as QE1 is a towering presence.

22 June 2005

on the road again

my paternal grandparents lived in St. Louis when Tennessee Williams was a boy. the uncle who was my godfather was born there less than 2 years after the future playwright. in 1914 my family moved to Lorain where my father was born 4 years later.

but family history isn't the reason I'm flying to St. Louis today. the opera there is doing a Britten work I've never heard.

while I'm away allow me to suggest a piece by Wayne Koestenbaum.

21 June 2005

suddenly I own riverfront property

after a bundle of sultry days summer officially began this afternoon with flare. a sudden storm -- complete with mounds of hail -- came & went with the kind of drama that makes this part of the country so beguiling.

the arroyo whose name I borrowd for this blog became a river. twice in my 11 years here that river has been a roaring monster. today's wasn't quite that severe. but it's always delirious to hear flowing water in my backyard.

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20 June 2005

naked poets

in a recent entry Charles Jensen wrote "I have been photographed naked."

my first nudes were polaroids taken in another century. I retain a b&w one of me when I was a grad student but have only a memory of a color one of me on a raft in the middle of Coburn Britton's pond. my best known studies were those taken by Bryan Ockert.

there is a long & noble tradition of poets baring all. among the photographs of Eakins are nude studies from the 1880s purporting to be of Whitman. they certainly look like Walt & if so wd make him a forerunner yet again.

I seem to recall numerous nude portraits of Ginsberg -- both alone & with Peter Orlovsky. altho I haven't seen photos of Frank O'Hara naked there are famous paintings of him au naturel by Larry Rivers (1954) & Wynn Chamberlain (1963). either Alice Neel or Sylvia Sleigh (or both?) paintd John Perreault naked some 30 years ago.

in 1971 William Como publishd a full-page nude of Gerard Malanga in After Dark. & in 1976 Gay Sunshine ran an interview with one of the great couples of American letters -- Jonathan Williams & Tom Meyer -- which featurd fetching photos of them by Guy Mendes & Nicholas Dean. (this was the same year in which Jonathan photographd Tom & I skinnydipping together.)

I suspect Gavin Dillard holds the record for the most nude studies. of course he achievd fame by giving readings without his clothes on which gave him the name "The Naked Poet" (which he eventually used as the title of his collectd works).

then there are those underground classics. the naughty one of Edward Field. & a series of Andrew Lundwall.

probably my favorite male nude poet study is the Joel Singer portrait of James Broughton which adorns "Song of the Godbody" (1978). James looks downright beatific with his arms outstretchd.

at one point I plannd a chapbook to be calld "Naked Poets." I was going to write a poem for every male poet I knew who'd posed sans trousers & in the style of that poet. after a single poem I gave up the idea.

18 June 2005

the umbrella hanging from Spencer Short's doorknob

I see
only the handle
& presume
it's an umbrella

the poet
in the photo
looks askance

his lips
are generous

I presume
it's not
a cane

the poet
doesn't look
at me

but those
generous lips

& the umbrella
not a cane
hangs there
for the rain

17 June 2005

dollar DVDs

a few weeks ago Bill Reed had an entry calld "the buck flick phenom." he wrote abt finding cheap DVDs in local stores. so I went to my nearby Walgreen's & there indeed was a bin of bargains. I discoverd several which lookd promising & have been working my way thru.

last nite I found gold. the disk held 3 episodes of Jack Webb's "Dragnet" from the early '50s. I remember the series from childhood. the first episode "The Big Crime" had a turn by character actor Howard Wendell as a Good Humor man. Howard's parents had a house only a block away from where I grew up. when he came to visit I met him & stayd in touch over the years.

& then in the final episode "The Big Girl" there was a scene-stealing bit by a young Carolyn Jones as a gun-toting blonde. this was so early in her career that the credits listd her as "Caroline Jones." she & her then husband Aaron Spelling appeard several times on the series (as did Wendell). in this part she was so obviously full of talent & so young that it was utter joy to watch her.

15 June 2005


so there I was on the curb pulling the paper out of its yellow plastic sleeve. the lead story was that "Rent" wd be filming on the plaza this ayem. so I ran to my bus stop. in town fake autumn branches had been wired to trees. nothing else seemd to be happening so I poppd into Plaza Cafe for eggs & hot cakes servd by Karen Webb (who is featurd in the recent doc "American Waitress: New Mexico").

Plaza Cafe is probably my favorite restaurant in Santa Fe. to me it's the heart of the city. today I sat at my usual small table next to the counter. sitting near me was dashing Officer Barnett of SFPD's K-9 unit. 2 tables away a woman celebrating her birthday was being serenad'd by a guitarist & singer (& this at 7:15 a.m.) as I was waiting for my check Karen came up to me. seeing a pile of money on the table she pickd it up & startd to go thru the bills to extract the amount due. "good thing you didn't have yr money in yr pocket" she winkd at me. it's that kind of a place.

while crew members were transforming the plaza I sat on a bench to write. across from me a visitor wearing a name tag identifying him as Lee Stein sat on a bench writing in a yellow tablet. he'd look up from his writing & smile at me writing.

I detectd activities around the corner so I walkd to the cathedral. extras were milling abt a bus with a Denver sign parkd where buses never park. apparently something had been shot while I was breakfasting. I saw equipment being movd back to the plaza. there I spottd Adam Pascal strutting around in worn jeans. he was joind by Rosario Dawson in a skimpy skirt & high boots. they went into their trailer.

director Chris Columbus scurried around the Palace of the Governors. Pascal & Dawson emergd from the trailer puffing on cigs. they met Jesse L. Martin. while Columbus was setting up a shot the trio walkd down San Francisco. they went into Starbuck's but came right out without purchase & window-shoppd at several stores. Pascal & Martin startd back toward Starbuck's while Dawson went into Collectd Works. she bought 5 books including a Milan Kundera. Pascal on his cell phone & Martin sippd coffees in Starbuck's front window where they where eventually joind by Dawson.

just before shooting Columbus read aloud from a book on Graucho Marx. Dawson put down one of her new books to pose with Barnett & his fellow officers. Columbus seemd everywhere -- looking thru the camera   constantly supervising details. before rehearsal he personally positiond extras. finally -- the shot: Pascal leaning against the nearly 400-year-old building playing guitar with his case open for change. between takes Columbus consultd with Pascal who in the next take lookd in a different direction. then it was time for lunch & I jumpd back on the bus.

14 June 2005

face of the poet

the first thing I look for after picking up a new bio of a poet is the photo section.

so you can imagine how exciting the internet is for me. never before have we had such access to the lives of poets as documentd by the camera.

today I discoverd some delicious photos of Douglas Messerli.

this just days after enjoying a gallery of great portraits by Jonathan Williams.

13 June 2005

mystery bird

2 mornings ago I was sprawld on my brick floor reading the morning rag. outside the glass door beside me a majestic bird walkd by. by the time I got my camera it was too far away to get a good shot.

it returnd today & I was able to get this (altho I fear by the time it gets reducd you may not be able to see the bird which is to the right of the yellow flower). not visible is the little white tuft that sprouts from its head.

abt a decade ago I got a pamphlet detailing local birds & became quite the watcher. but as often happens with such activities my dedication to it lessend & now I can't locate the book.

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12 June 2005

the whole world's a stage

went to town today for the matinee of a new work by a local playwright.

but the real theater came when I was riding the bus home. a woman came on dressd in plastic bags. her "dress" was a large black garbage bag. on her head was a smaller black bag twistd into a bandana. around her neck was a white bag in the drape of a fashionable scarf. & of course her belongings were in a black garbage bag purse. surely the most modish bag lady I've ever encounterd.

11 June 2005

there are days like this

sadness infiltrates. Tom Beckett projects a sad edge on his blog. & Charles Jensen withdrew an elegy & went silent on his.

then the morning paper announcd the death of a local actress who kept on appearing in plays while battling breast cancer. we often chattd on the bus.

all the while that war keeps slaughtering people. no one wins there but Halliburton.

guess I'll go to the movies...

09 June 2005

pass the pipsissewa

the magazine announces: "Each issue of Court Green features a dossier on a special topic or theme." the premiere isssue featurd "film." I'm proud to be among the contributors.

the current issue's dossier is "Tribute to Lorine Niedecker." so the editors (Arielle Greenberg / Tony Trigilio / David Trinidad) are 2 for 2. I'm a slow & quirky reader so I haven't made my way thru it all. but I feel the need to call attention to the contribution of Jonathan Williams. the man's got the eye. he's got the ear. few in the past half century of American letters dare match his passion or panache.

o to have been buzzing abt the table when Col. Wms. broke bread with Lorine.

08 June 2005

in search of Karl Tierney

there was a time when I discoverd the new early & championd those on the verge of fame. but as I age it's harder to keep up. everyone seems to write poetry or make movies or play in a band or paint.

or perhaps I'm lazy.

I know that when it comes to poetry I read less than I did. I don't subscribe to a single poetry journal. I no longer linger before the shelves of such as the Asphodel Bookstore.

so somehow I missd Karl Tierney.

the new issue of Court Green features 2 poems of his which knockd me out. so I went to the contributors notes to discover who he was. I learnd he had AIDS when he died nearly a decade ago. a search told me that he rode his bicycle to the Golden Gate & jumpd off. the slap that is discovery was followd by the kick of reality. I'm suddenly black & blue. but I need more. I must find more of this man's work. the notes say that a collectd works is seeking a publisher. I hope it finds one soon.

07 June 2005

more noir

Roberta Teitel Zweig Posted by Hello

I walkd from Inn Exile (my home while visiting Palm Springs) to Camelot Theater (where "Sordid Lives" had its long cult run). I was early. I saw a banquette & sat. on the other end an attractive couple. we began speaking. she was a writer   Roberta Teitel. her husband a retired doctor   Morton Zweig. together they've just written a collector's guide/price list for Advertising Ink Blotters. we became pals for the entire festival.

Roberta once livd at Chateau Marmont. we had many Hollywood adventures to exchange. somewhere along the way I mentiond the Brown Derby near Hollywood & Vine where I always orderd the same thing: Cobb salad (which was inventd there ) & grapefruit cake. the next day Roberta brought me the recipe for the original Cobb salad which includes this great line: "a stunning mosaic of ingredients which are tossed together."

for me that also works for the festival. yesterday I mentiond some of the speakers. but the audiences were almost as exciting. there were representatives of Hollywood's past (Eleanor Parker) as well as present (director Phyllis Nagy). there were writers Michael A. Black (The Heist) & David Wills (Blonde Bombshells). there were a couple of veterans of Sam Fuller films: Michael Dante & Biff Elliot. & munching a number of Dove bars was the festival's co-producer Marvin Paige   longtime casting director who I first met when he came up to the table I was sharing with Lois Wilson & May McAvoy at that same Brown Derby that opend this entry.

with Biff Elliot (the screen's first Mike Hammer) Posted by Hello

06 June 2005

out of the shadows

Art Lyons   the novelist who runs Palm Springs Film Noir Festival   likes to screen both classic '40s & '50s examples of the genre as well as later "neo-noir." this year's festival opend with an example of the latter   "Seconds." I always thot of this John Frankenheimer film as sci fi but am willing to consider it as noir. it contains Rock Hudson's finest performance & haunting cinematography by James Wong Howe.

films screend over the weekend were a mix of gem ("Guilty Bystander") & junk ("Guns, Girls and Gangsters"). several were the only existing prints of obviously rarely-seen work. but in additional to choice of films what distinguishes this festival is the caliber of raconteurs who speak after the screenings. wheelchair-bound Ray Bradbury has the kind of memory which holds even the minutest detail. it was nearly chilling when he decribd how he willd himself to become Melville in order to finish his stalld "Moby Dick" script. Mamie Van Doren rememberd Marie Windsor as a "hot chick" after rooming next to her on location. they remaind friends for years. Paul Picerni recalld when co-star Thomas Gomez sat on the edge of his bed during location shooting & tried unsuccessfully to seduce him. producer Stanley Rubin detaild cuts Howard Hughes forcd on him.

more manana.....

with Mamie Posted by Hello

01 June 2005

Palm Springs

where James Dean drove too fast

where President Kennedy went to bed with Marilyn

where Ty Hardin slappd Robert Conrad (welllllll   at least on screen)

where Richard Harrison ran for mayor

that's where I'm flying today. I'll be taking in the film noir festival.

see you a couple of shadows from now.