“It remains a puzzle why he might have decided one day to visit an agricultural area.”
I’m moving to Columbia, MO this summer without the best idea of what I’ll be doing there. In the meantime, I’m keeping a running list of things to know about, to get excited about moving there. Convincing myself that CoMo will be an all right place to spend some days, probably some years.
Having toured tirelessly and stupidly for many years, I played the unlikely hot spot of Columbia, Missouri no less than three times one summer. Don’t ask me how—logistically the cursed itinerary is still a mystery—but I can probably tell you why. The chance to play a gig with that city’s Jerusalem and the Starbaskets always made it a worthwhile and necessary stop. Basically a duo (although sometimes augmented by other members), Jerusalem and the Starbaskets play unfashionable, unpretentious and completely devastating pop music, and they’re one of my all time favorite live bands. Criminally under-recorded up until now (with only a handful of impossibly rare cassettes and a split LP with Skarkraou Radio to their name), their brand new The Howling LP (Radio Fonico) is a great sampling of their unique vibe, sounding like the third Velvets LP played by The Terminals. Note the righteous guitar tone any stoner rock Chud would envy, and catchy, infectious tunes (with a recent emphasis on country melodies) that will stay in your head for weeks. Completely necessary and great. Album of the month!
~ James Jackson Toth
Further reading on the press-release proper reveals:
Jeremy Freeze is a Memphis born songwriter who has spent the last few years in Columbia, Missouri playing and recording with Kim Sherman as Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. Before yr preconceived notions of Missouri make things cloudy, consider the Black Artist Group, Screamin’ Mee Mees, Drunks with Guns, Gene Clark and a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about get in the way. [emphasis mine] Lest there be other confusion, my friend Oliver, this 65 year old dude from Kashmir, told me DOST means “brother man”. So basically, DOST is “friend” but a more familiar way of the word. Just so happens that it’s the phonetic same as “dosed”. One crystalline thing herein is the Jams. Freeze has reached that point where he’s saying more by saying less and that’s a level that many songwriters never reach. After a few yrs of playing gigs with Times New Viking, Wooden Wand and a short list of more or less limited releases, DOST is the bands first readily available release and we’re going to do our best to get it everywhere.
I realize it’s a potentially sad thing for a solid, hip-seeming garage band to make me (so) excited to move to a place. But man doth not live by True/False Film Festival alone, know what I mean?
Also, I hadn’t heard of any of that list of other Missouri heavy hitters, allow me to follow those references up a little. I could use a cup of coffee this morning.
- the Black Artist Group
“the aesthetic and spiritual corollary to the Black Power philosophy”
- Screamin’ Mee Mees
Not to be confused with the 80s New Zealand new wave group?
“Comedy / Experimental / Punk; Ferguson, Missouri; Gulcher Records”
- Drunks with Guns
“four sauced, weird-looking guys sitting stupefied atop kegs with beers in hand and countless empties of Milwaukee’s Best and Meister Brau at their feet”
- Gene Clark
b. November 17, 1944, Tipton, MO. Co-founder of the Byrds.
- “a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about”
Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains the personal, journal-entry-style musings of its author. The diaristic mode is a common one on the “blogosphere,” but critics and pundits still find the time to complain about how boring and pointless it is for people to write about themselves if they’re not living through extremity. If you are likely to be offended by a first-person bourgeois confessional, you are advised to steer clear of this website entirely, and focus on more immediately pressing global concerns.
I am a tiny bit hungover. As I’ve already mentioned “in this space,” after reading Deb Olin Unferth’s interview with Gary Francione in the Believer magazine I couldn’t think of a reason to justify continuing to eat meat or animal products, aside from “it is convenient and delicious,” so I decided to call a temporary cease-fire until I could think it through. So I’ve been vegan for about six weeks. The first weekend in, I snarfed a cookie at a museum and realized later that it almost certainly contained butter and eggs. I also ate half of a hot and sour soup before remembering that the delicious floaty strands are of course scrambled eggs. I’ve been pretty solidly vegan since then. I didn’t throw away the leather I own. I drank a bloody mary that probably had worcester sauce that probably had anchovies in it. I put tofu in the blender for the first time in my life. Tofutti ersatz cream cheese is excellent. I don’t like the herb flavor in their “herbs n chives” variety but if you chop up some chives and stir them into the plain variety it’s good. All other fake cheese I’ve tried is gross, except for the stuff at Gracias Madre. Tofurella fake cheese is not vegan. Vegan pancakes are just as good as non. Indian food tends to have lotsa butter and yogurt everywhere. Today I went to a chinese restaurant and wanted chicken and scallops and beef and fish and shrimp and eggs. I ate a vegetarian hot and sour soup that had eggs in it. I can feel myself caving further. I want to buy large packages of anchovies and sardines. And grill a big salmon, and skewer some fucking shrimps. That’s mostly what I miss. Cubes of cheddar bobbing in the ocean, they can drown. Since I’ve been vegan I’ve grown a full, womanly bosom, and my penis is now shaped like a little vagina. My teeth have yellowed and when I poop it looks and sounds like this:
I adopted a dog on a semi-lark and the dog is not vegan. I walk around craving sea bass with my breast pocket filled with crumbled up sticks of “Pupperoni” — basically low-grade beef jerky. I’m still overweight. Pizza sounds good. Factory farming practices commit inexcusable crimes every day. Dudes argue that even the most humane dairy farm is still not cool for the cows. Cows only lactate if they are pregnant? What? How do dairy farms work?
Beer is vegan. So is Scotch. So is my loaf of bread, and my jar of peanut butter. Poetry is not vegan. Some poetry is vegan but much of it is not. Reading the back of the book is not always a reliable indicator. Reliable indicators are impossible to find in the United States. You need to travel to Thailand or Guam to find them. People with genitals tend not to stay vegan for very long. People argue that they’re more interested in human rights than animal rights, so they order steak. It’s possible to think about and work for human rights while eating a falafel sandwich with no cheese or yogurt on it. What board games are technically zero-sum games? Does anyone want to play online Go with me? It’s pretty fun. I’m sometimes on Pandanet as “quailty.” Hit me up.
The craigslist m4m/vegan forum is intense.
What about all the rodents and insects that die when you harvest organic skin creme? The answer is, it’s impossible to go through life without inadvertently hurting some other living thing, but if it’s within your power to avoid punishing some sentient being, then one shouldn’t let the rodents that occasionally get shredded by the creme-thresher justify the punishment of the chicken with its beak ripped off, and so on.
one of the dogs killeda barn owl. Bob sawit happen, tried tointervene. The airedalesnapped its neck and leftit lying. Now the birdlies buried by an appletree. Last eveningfrom the table we sawthe owl, huge in the dusk,circling the fieldon owl-silent wings.
I began writing a comment on this post by Ed Park, where he politely disagreed with Jenny Davidson’s negative response to the style of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time — but after two Stella Artois and some Ryvita crackers, I’ve decided to host my thoughts here, in my own air-conditioned corner of the web.
Tonight I’ll finish book nine, The Military Philosophers. I might not have made it this far into A Dance without the support of the Society I’m reading it with — or without Ed’s promise that once you get to about book three, things, as Levi notes on Jenny’s post, “will be layered with memory and meaning,” and become more enjoyable.
I couldn’t help but think of Jenny’s reaction to Powell tonight, when I read the passage in book nine where our narrator, Nick, hears Blake’s “Jerusalem” sung at a Victory Day Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London at the end of Word War II:
Blake was as impenetrable as Isiah; in his way, more so. It was not quite such wonderful stuff as the Prophet rendered into Elizabethan English, yet wonderful enough. At the same time, so I always felt, never quite for me. Blake was a genius, but not one for the classical taste. He was too cranky. No doubt that was being ungrateful for undoubted marvels offered and accepted. One often felt ungrateful in literary matters, as in so many others.
Powell reminds Jenny D., she says, of no one so much as Pope, with the trouble he takes “to develop an elaborate and fluent idiom that seems… overequipped given the relative banality and commonplace nature of the thoughts therein expressed!” It’s funny that immediately following the passage quoted above — one of the most self-consciously literary-critical in the series so far — the narrator invokes Pope himself, quoting “Imitations of Horace”:
Who now reads Cowley? If he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.
“But,” our narrator adds, “surely the pointed wit was just what did survive?” And who now reads Powell? A weirdly vocal and large group, it seems. The pleasure of Powell is in his humor, and his humor is entirely social. “Wit was just the quality he brought to bear with such remarkable effect.”
Before returning to his narrative of periphrastically noncommittal observations of his daily trials and triumphs, Nick ends this section of literary reverie in St. Paul’s Cathedral with a critical reading of the National Anthem:
Repetitive, jerky, subjective in feeling, not much ornamented by imagination nor subtlety of thought and phraseology, the words possessed at the same time a kind of depth, an unpretentious expression of sentiments suited somehow to the moment.
I’m overly inclined to think I’ve found an author’s ars poetica whenever a literary-critical episode appears within a piece of literature. But I wonder if this itchily intrigued section of the Military Philosophers can connect somehow with Professor Davidson’s response to Powell’s style.
UPDATE: I hate this blog post! I’m going to sleep
Ariana Reines posted a breathless (her paragraph breaks were lost in the posting) 1,400-word comment-response to Emily Gould’s Poetry Foundation review of Eileen Myles’s Inferno:
And your editors, you people, whoever you are, next time you commission a review from someone who is spunky and inexperienced, make sure you don’t publish it until something genuinely thorough has been written. What could praise possibly be worth when it comes with so little attention? The excellent essay that mainly deplores, but also appreciates, the poetry of Robert Hass, on this site, is a perfect example of everything this review fails to be: even to lambast an oeuvre so zestfully, as the author of that Hass essay does, is still a labor of sustained attention and care, ultimately the least that a ’30-plus year career’ deserves.
The Hass review she’s talking about is by Michael Robbins, whom I only discovered yesterday (via Village Voice editor @xZachBaronx). He has a poem in the December issue of Poetry that’s scathing and funny and full of weird smart uncomfortable sound:
You shouldn’t drink diarrheaunless you bring enough for everybody.Turn it into a teaching moment.Asian-American Students for Christhave the room until 2:30.
Rumi says no donkey is a virgin,no, nor any beast that bites the grass.Maybe it sounds better in Persian.An unseen force propels the cartsacross the Whole Foods parking lot.
- Zach Baron’s VV piece on Robbins,
- Baron’s excellent bonus Voice interview w/ MR
- links to other stuff omitted and/or included in above two links, plus the New Yorker poem that touched off all this interest, which Robbins compares to “the feeble glow cast by the reflected disco light in the splintered windshield of a Ford Taurus passing by the second hippest club in town or something.”]
Even though I’m pointlessly quitting my “good job” don’t worry I’m not trying to “become a writer” so it’s not problematic that I’m doing all this thesisless typing about poetry on my blog while I should be helping my “replacement.” Soon I’ll help dogs with diseases find new leas(h)es on life. In the meantime, I find myself anguishing through the composition of paragraphs like these:
- Look at the poems and realize the anger is right there on the page. It’s not buried. This is a big, false problem with my “argument.” Just because it has line breaks and is read by someone wearing a sweater doesn’t mean it’s not white-hot hoppin mad right on the page. Frederick Seidel singes my brows in nearly every poem. (So does Ariana!)
- Read a behind-the-scenes memoir-novel such as Myles’s Inferno. (“Kathy was always such a bitch.”)
- Hang out in the bar after the reading.
- Read published volumes of poets’ correspondence.
Ariana Reines, still furious:
Emily Gould’s ‘review’ sounds like a high schooler’s personal blog, not the product of what I assume must be some kind of editorial process over at the Poetry Foundation.
writing criticism of an internet comment by Eileen Myles in what purports to be a review of her novel is ridiculous and me, my awesomely hilarious and controversial poetry reading, Jezebel, and Eileen’s comment belong NOWHERE NEAR a review of her novel unless the reviewer has something absolutely subtle, and stunning, to say about the internet’s relationship to literary production. That authorship, the status of authorship, prose, voice, poetry, and the internet are in uncomfortable relation in these times is certain, and a critic with enough care and acuity might be able to speak purposefully to this strange relation, but she would have to make the case for why.
- I drink some coffee tomorrow and rewrite this post to actually make the case for why literary production has been affected by the internet, and maybe it has something to do with the personal outrage that poets feel and that motivates the composition of their best work.
- all the folks mentioned above have google alerts set up for their names and the comments section of THIS POST becomes an organic and LIVING SYLLABUS for things I can read that will prevent me from spending the rest of my life thinking and speaking and writing like a high school blog while injustice and institutional racism bloom and proliferate. Not on my watch!
[A fly lands on a guy’s wristwatch. “Not on my watch!” he shouts as he kills the fly. Or: Two guys are waiting for a train. “Did daylight saving’s time start today?” one asks the other. “Not on my watch!” the other hollers, killing a fly. “Are you a fan of this avant-garde numeral typeface I designed?” Sven asked Karl. “Not on my watch!!” Karl replied, his spittle drowning a family of larvae. “Hey, do you mind if I set down my luggage?” asked the weary Jewish prostitute. “Not on my watch!!!” declaimed Philip, who as you’ll remember had earlier placed his timepiece on the floor. “Do you mind if I use the bathroom?” Priscilla mewled. AND SO ON!!!!]
Derelict passive mouse blog on the weekend has several jobs: primarily to make sure she makes sense. The second is bloggier: I make sure any pregnant children get health-care of the highest quality. The best cheeses at the corporate supermarket (Safeway) are fine if they’re already in your fridge, but when it comes time to replace them, the best cheeses, why not go to the worker-owned grocery store (Rainbow) and buy that Leftist cheddar. Once everyone’s sure they make sense — in the sense that the language pour is robust or solid, making sure the iPod is charging, don’t telegraph anything, — break open a Thought Experiment Set Piece: the adult stoner’s choiceless afternoon (multiplex).
If it’s on my blog, you can be sure it’s vegan AND kosher, so sup.
the false choice of the breastless necktie.
Not a snack, precisely,
Lame basalt cup on a hooded truck’s best rodeo gear:
If sense is your master, then this is one holiday potluck
where you won’t have much luck
The horniest llama at the petting zoo,
If it’s important for fiction to advertise itself as socially conscious and that some of the proceeds will go toward buying the author’s daughters farmer’s cheese, please, please, revise, revise. Salad like typos cranberries itself up into a defecit — My deficit. A blinded salad’s cranberries flare out (“like jeans”–Cricket Pete). If a college salad freezes on a plate, it’ll be imperative that your reading end quickly. And begin again just as soon.
I’ll not make a plate of sense for you, Imperativa. And a beautiful name, totally — Imperativa. Your purple Honda conceals many curves — I’d love to ride shotgun and change the CDs for you. Let’s meet back here later; “Continue the Story.” I’ve got a Nintendo DS full of stories for you. Knowing, winking, awful self-conscious stories about children of privilege ruining themselves against backdrops of total suffering.
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus. This will be out in 2011. I don’t want to say that much about it. It’s too soon. But it has all the amazements we expect from Marcus in his construction of sentences and ideas, and then worlds more, all powered by a fantastic narrative. It’s a major book.