Saturday, December 27, 2008


When one confronts the System of literature directly one feels emanating from it the massive inertia which is every part of its being.

"DARE YOU QUESTION?" a voice demands. To question it becomes suddenly unthinkable. "See the world as we see it. Think as we think. Speak as we speak."

To protect itself against rebellion the System will construct a counter-narrative, then push this at its own writers to keep them in line, and project the counter-narrative even within the rebel camp. You read the missive from on high around the campfire. "It says here that we're wrong and they're right." You glance at the distant monolith, the walled city which up close is full of rot and is crumbling but through the mists appears yet sturdy. The message conveyed: "Go home. Let things be. Allow our walls to remain."

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Great Reaction


The reaction instituted in American letters beginning in 1953 through Paris Review, other publications, critics, and writing programs was the choosing of self over society, craft over content, style above substance, and the elimination of the direct expression of ideas.

In the 90's I was told by more than one respected editor and writer that one absolutely cannot impose ideas on the narrative!-- or use characters as mouthpieces for ideas. Which wiped out in one stroke an entire stream of American writing-- the naturalism of Frank Norris, Jack London, and others-- and also went against the practice of history's greatest novelists: Tolstoy, Hugo, Dickens, Dumas, Dostoevsky. It was an attack on classic literature-- on literature itself.

Not solely writers on the Left were hurt by this shift. Despite her immense popularity, Ayn Rand had difficulty getting every one of her novels published. (Which shows that the imposed standards had nothing to do with the market.) Feared by America's intellectual establishment were ideas themselves. Ideas were deemed too dangerous. (Given the history of the 20th century, the rise of anti-liberal regimes spawned by populist ideas, this reactionary attitude was understandable.)

The kind of writing being excluded wasn't realism so much as a stylized kind of realism, full of broad paint strokes on a wide canvas, with fiery rhetoric, big speeches and dramatic happenings. The works were often clunky and almost always artistically and intellectually exciting.

The decline of American poetry during this period has been, if anything, greater than the decline of fiction. Academic poets were encouraged to throw out that which made poetry poetry. It lost its music and its magic. While prose became more poetic, to its harm, establishment poetry became prose, to its destruction. From the 1950's high point of Dylan Thomas, Eliot, Berryman (not to mention the brief rise of the Beats) we've seen with the onset of New Yorker-style fakirs a one-way decline. What excitement remains for poetry comes from outside the approved bastions.

Fluff is exactly what the literary establishment wanted-- and got. Fiction and poetry both were narrowed to virtually nothing. As their aesthetic scope dwindled, so did their popular appeal. The chief ideologues of today's literary system-- Francine Prose, for instance-- still fight this battle in their essays, with NO opposition to them except on my blogs.

One can understand that something was happening by tracing the way neo-liberal and neo-con foreign policy types became interested in literature. To give one example: What did Jeanne Kirkpatrick care about literature? Yet even she and her OSS-background husband got involved, taking over a critical literary journal named Critique (the American version) via an entity called the Heldref Foundation as the Cold War was ending.

I'd been dogging George Plimpton's trail in my newsletter since 1993. Attempts by he and James Linville to co-opt me failed. (A free ad for New Philistine in an issue of Paris Review; my inclusion in a published discussion about fiction in another issue.) Plimpton and I eventually met at the 2001 CBGB's debate.

The thrilling clash of ideas had ended. Plimpton and myself, leaders of the two gangs, sat together in the aftermath over beers at a small table. Given this opportunity to speak to me in person, what was the ONE point Plimpton emphasized?

"There is no place in literature for polemics," he told me. "There cannot be."

The message didn't get through-- at least, not the message George wanted to get through.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What's Wrong with Global Culture?

means A.) American Imperialism; megaconglomerate dominance; B.) the destruction of American identity; C.) both.

The U.S. boozh-why-zee sitting in comfortable armchairs in Manhattan or Connecticut empathizing with people halfway around the world-- or with mad terrorists in Guantanamo-- is an excuse for them to ignore the triumphs and tragedies in their own country. The subject of American literature is AMERICA-- a big enough topic for anyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rightists and Leftists

In the same way the Right was taken over by empire-minded neo-cons, America's Left is compromised by elitist globalists with no interest in their own nation's working class, which is how they're able to support policies and beliefs (illegal immigration; global warming) destructive of that class. It's been no surprise to discover that many self-proclaimed liberals have never purchased an American union-made car. They're disdainful of anything which reeks too much of "America": American identity; American culture.

Solzhenitsyn pointed out that the first victim of Russian Communism was Russia itself. Likewise, the first casualty of American-spurred globalism is America. This is seen in our literature.

Which brings us back to the jet-set lit-journal N+1. It's not an American literary journal at all. In the words of one of their contributors, Gloria Fisk, they write for "the global audience of privileged citizens of comfortably secular nations."

Sorry, but my grandparents didn't come here simply to be part of the globe. They were escaping the globe. Like so many others, they came to transform themselves into Americans. Americans! A word which once meant something special, something unique. The task of American writers is to recapture that glorious uniqueness.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Folk Lit

of publishing from the literary rebellion-- which I fully applaud-- through authors like Wred Fright, Carl Robinson, Steve Kostecke, Bill Blackolive, Jack Saunders, and others, represents the best of American folk lit NOW.

Folk art has always been the life force, the renewing stream, for the best art. This has been seen even in the realm of classical music. One hundred years ago the best modern composers like Vaughn-Williams and Respighi returned to the roots of their art for inspiration.

Folk Lit is the necessary foundation for the next stage of the literary art-- the step, in styles and products, which will be truly revolutionary.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where Goes the Underground?

to be made about the literary underground ("Resistance"; "Rebellion"; as it's currently being managed at entities like the ULA and OW is that it does everything ass-backwards. In this respect it mimics the literary world as a whole. It makes me wonder if writers by nature are congenitally incapable of having a contemporary understanding about business, instead wanting to operate as if this were still 1820.

The problem is and has always been a MARKETING problem. The Underground Literary Alliance was founded to address this-- not to engage in the same-old same-old. Undergrounders, instead of using new tactics which I proved work, operate with the same baby-step way toward guaranteed failure; producing modest quantities of product; spending enormous amounts of energy in distributing it, without understanding the context within which it's placed, which demands ways to move it. Underground writers themselves are well-satisfied to have their books published, or poems placed on-line, without understanding it means nothing if new ways aren't found to attract readers TO that product.

Creating more supply isn't how the literary rebellion was intended to operate. The plan was always to first create DEMAND for that supply, to a great extent, into which the product could be fed. 90% of activity, if not 99%, was intended to go toward creating demand. Instead, 99% of effort is now spent on the other end. In this loud, media-saturated society, this is senseless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Total Disgust

bad news is the Republican stance against the auto companies. They're blithely willing to allow America to lose its manufacturing base-- to have our industries owned by Japan! The unfortunate truth is that both major parties are anti-American at their core-- due to a privileged and centralized intellectual class embedded and nurtured in and around New York. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal follow different strategies for achieving the same end-- the obliteration of America. This is why the campaign to take back our literary culture is fundamentally important.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rejection of Palin

The instant fear and hatred of Sarah Palin by the intelligentsia, on first sight and beyond, in a real sense is a rejection by this crowd of America itself-- "Fifties" America if you will, or America Past. It's a rejection not just of America's mistakes, but of everything that was truly great about this nation; its earnest striving, values, character, and wholesomeness. I don't know how anybody could see Sarah Palin, baby in arms, and not recognize a good person. Maybe that's the problem.

We're seeing the failure of the ideology of the global economy-- which has not served this country well-- but there's also a failure for us of the notion of a globalized culture, including globalized literature as represented by the intellectually bankrupt N+1 and other such outfits.

I advocate for roots-based new American literature.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


as to believe that America is never wrong is to believe that America is never right.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Rootless

of America's white liberal intelligentsia is that they've been raised without roots in their own land and authentic culture. Since 1968 they've been bombarded by the educational system with the notion that they're responsible for all the crimes of history, and should be ashamed to be white. Simultaneous with this they've been hit by the anti-American "citizen of the world" ideology. They've been imbued with false nyths and disconnected from legendary American cultural figures like Davy Crockett. The name embarrasses them if it means anything to them.

But real culture by definition IS rooted and has to be rooted in a land and people. This has been denied to America's most pampered and affluent class of people, who walk around like living tragedies. This is part of the tragedy of lost soul David Foster Wallace, whose art floated in the air in a disconnected way and whose ideas were disconnected from reality, the man so out of touch with the brutalities of life and society that he worried more about the boiling of lobsters-- giant cockroaches-- then the plight of human beings. A true representative he was, though, of his literary class and intellectually bankrupt time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

American Folk

ONE REASON for Sarah Palin's instant appeal to so many Americans is that she fits into American folk tradition going all the way back to Davy Crockett: the appeal of an untutored, "unvetted" backwoods personality bringing common sense wisdom to the corrupt political hills of Washington. THIS is what was instantly recognizable to Americans about Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican convention: a wise-cracking, larger-than-life character unleashed from the American wilderness with a plethora of legendary feats behind her.

Sarah Palin didn't kill "a bar" like Davy but she did kill and skin a moose, which is even larger. Accomplished in everything she's tackled-- point guard basketball champion and beauty contest winner-- she emerged as a pure natural, new baby in one hand and high-powered rifle in the other. The rumored stories about her, that she birthed her baby on an airplane on the way home from a conference in Texas(!) and was back to work as Governor a day or two later fit the mythic aura. She's an American character, and she represents what's best about the American character.
If Hemingway was right that American literature stems from Mark Twain, then it really began with Davy Crockett, our nation's first true underground "zine" writer, whose folksy voice created American pulp fiction of the 1800's and had to have been a huge influence on Samuel Clemens.

For a quick look at the Crockett legend and persona, rent the simple 1950's Disney version of the Davy Crockett saga starring Fess Parker. Fast-forward to Davy as politician, including on the stump. The naive, mythic appeal is the OPPOSITE of know-everything wonkiness. It's anti-wonkiness.

Sarah Palin's advisors make a huge mistake if they expect her to come across as a nerdy expert on "Bush Doctrines" and other Beltway b.s. nonsense. People want someone who instead knows what's right and what's not; who from native experience can tell good guys from bad guys and with good humor get directly to the heart of a problem, with joke or rifle, Crockett-style.
(Other interesting movie characterizations of Davy Crockett include folksy Arthur Hunnicut in "The Last Command," a colorful adventure whose primary focus is the similarly legendary Jim Bowie; John Wayne in the overblown "The Alamo," which includes a great Dimitri Tiomkin score; and this decade, Billy Bob Thornton in a newer, quite excellent, quite underrated version of "The Alamo." Rent them all!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Second Wave

TO MY CRITICISMS of the literary establishment, defenders tell me, "Create a better product." To this I agree. To overthrow the moribund lit-scene, rebel writers have to create stories, poems, short novels, and zeens unlike any before seen; so exciting they demand to be bought and read. The First Wave as represented by ULA Press, Microcosm Publishing, and others is a necessary step-- but not enough. Another level awaits. The new products will have to be accompanied by equally exciting marketing campaigns, each piece of the assault working in synchronicity.

In the creation of new literary art, I'm doing my best. My "McCartney at Starbucks" poem and "Bluebird" story from last year are initial entries. I'm still experimenting. I can do better, and will if I stay in one piece. I hope other rebel writers do likewise.

Who will write the next immortal poem or story? THAT's the task for all of us. Our disputations otherwise are meaningless.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Blind Spot

have a blind spot in that they don't realize how most people view literary writing.

They're like fans of Mozart, who when listening understand every nuance; each note of play or pomp, pathos or humor.

Most people today, raised in a different world, don't hear this from Mozart. They hear something different-- only the notes. In the same way, the general reading public sees something different in a novel by Michael Chabon. Literary people smile and nod and appreciate. Everyone else is bored.

I'm not saying to write Dreiser. We need writing that does what Dreiser's did in his day but which is new. It's our task to recreate the art form. What undergrounders are doing are fledgling attempts. We need to present to the nation a literature people can get excited about.

But forget about literary writing. That's dead. That's done. That's over. The path that way is closed. We can only move forward.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Literary Revolution


TO BETTER UNDERSTAND what I mean by literary revolution, look again at what happened with the music industry in the 1950's. At the very moment Elvis Presley was exploding onto the scene, Frank Sinatra, a starkly different kind of singer, was at his artistic peak, his recordings winning critical awards and universal accolades. 99 out of 100 musical experts then, and possibly today, would say that Sinatra was the more important singer musically. It would've been considered ludicrous at the time to put the two men in the same league.

Sinatra, despite his tough background, was a product of institutional music, in the same way Mary Gaitskill is the captive of institutional lit. He performed with orchestras consisting of the "best," most skilled musicians in the country; well-screened and highly paid. Recordings were well-controlled, expensive happenings. Sinatra's smooth, perfectly controlled voice manifested the smooth and sophisticated polish of the industry. Though Sinatra was to be given his own label, Reprise, he was connected to-- remained part of his entire career-- the giant record labels. He was DIY only in the sense that Dave Eggers, through his intertwining relationships with both the conglomerates and with status quo lit-talent of today, is DIY. Or, not hardly.

Unlike Sinatra, rock n' rollers weren't produced by the music industry already in place, but came from hundreds of fly-by-night new outfits, most producing a hit or two, spots of color in the overall rock mosaic, before vanishing. A high school student, Phil Spector, recruited a few coeds at his school, called them "The Teddy Bears," and recorded them-- and had a surprise hit. The industry giants were like slowly turning battleships attacked by scores of low-budget patrol boats. They didn't know how to compete.

Ironically, rock's biggest name, Elvis, was immediately co-opted by RCA, one of the giants, who quickly sought to polish him and tame him in the smooth Sinatra way.

That the established music industry demonstrably had commercial and artistic success at the time roots music, so long dormant, was bursting into public awareness, as if overnight (though the gestation period lasted decades) is no argument against the fact and power of change.

To see which was more important not musically, but culturally, one can look at cities like Detroit today, where exist hundreds of rock bands who all look and sound much like the garage bands of the early 1960's; all hoping to be the next Jack White. (Who played Elvis in a recent movie!) Hopelessly retrograde, they are, but that's a different story. Meanwhile, there is nowhere to be found, on any stage in the area, a singer publicly modeling himself after Hoboken Frank.
What meaning does this history hold for lit people today?

It tells me that literary renewal will come not from on high, but from below; that it may be extremely crude, carried by "cretinous goons" (see Sinatra on early rock), but it will definitely be populist. The simultaneous presence of smooth machine artists good and bad, Gaitskill to Franzen to Lethem, will be no argument against it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Class Dynamic

If I've overstressed this one aspect of American literary life, it's because all other lit commentators ignore it, and because class since the 1980's, as opposed to the levelling period of the 40's, 50's, and 60's, has become such a dominating factor in American society.

Class has been around since Day One of English literary language; from the days of Shakespeare himself, who was scornfully referred to as "an upstart crow" with his "tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide" by his more educated literary betters.

I'll be examining this upstart's "King Lear," discussing the play's un-aristocratic crudeness, its humanity and soul, which point to its authorship against the never-ending flow of books intent on denying credit to "Shakspere" the man, the actor, the upstart, to give it to some foppish Oswaldian noble instead.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Seat at the Table?

Obviously, there would be no literary rebellion if underground writers and ideas were acknowledged by mainstream literature. Speaking for myself, I've never wanted to exclude anyone. The idea is to have underground writers INCLUDED in the discussion.

I started out as a newsletter writer in 1992 writing book reviews, but also discussing literature from a new perspective, questioning why it couldn't be more relevant to things that were happening in the world around me. (Such as: the destruction of the working class.) Subsequent encounters with the corruption of the literary establishment radicalized my attitude toward the literary world.

It was further hardened when the ULA was formed. We began to expose some of the corruption, and received a hurricane of outrage-- not least that we supposedly had no talent, were not writers, and so on. This came from all sides.

Would I like to see good underground writers published-- by anyone? Yes! Along with publication, I want to see them given the attention they deserve.

At the same time I recognize that the system HAS to change. No, giving one group of writers a seat at the table isn't enough-- but might be a starting point, necessary leverage, to allow our advocacy to begin to change the literary world as a whole.

The idea, though, is to give all writers leverage-- every writer-- which writers by and large, except for the very connected, don't have now.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indy's Inspiration

UNSAID anywhere that I can find is a mention of a major influence for the "Raiders"/Indiana Jones series, 1959's "Journey to the Center of the Earth." (The famous chased-by-a-boulder scene is right out of this flick.) "Journey" has a few cheezy special effects, and, like "Raiders", is not without some cheezy acting, but is more intelligent, mysterious, and magical, with a classic Bernard Hermann score. Worth a look.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


have called the encounter 2,000 years ago between the ultimate bureaucrat, Pontius Pilate, and the ultimate rebel, a Galilean, "cosmic." It was a confrontation between legality and truth. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" because he didn't know. The little-known rebel lost the encounter, but that moment marked the beginning of the overturning of Empire: the known world turned upside down, as if the universe itself became broken.

The literary rebellion has had two such cosmic encounters in its short history, albeit on a much less important scale.

One was in 2006 during the underground's Howl Protest at Columbia University's Miller Hall, when Eric "Jelly Boy the Clown" Broomfield stepped unexpectedly onstage, and he and lit-Insider Jason Shinder stared face-to-face at each other. (An amazing happening.)

Before this, was my 2001 talk with George Plimpton at CBGB's gallery, in the aftermath of the ULA's debate with Open City and Paris Review. Plimpton allowed me to glimpse for a moment, as we talked over beers, the real person, tough and intelligent, behind his jocular facade.

He misread me, though; had no understanding of me whatsoever. Surrounded perpetually by sycophants, he believed there was no writer alive who couldn't be bought-- who wouldn't jump to his tune. The idea of an actual literary rebellion was beyond his understanding. It existed outside his complacent conception of the universe. He invited me to lunch at his house. I turned him down. He paused, then motioned to a flunkie for the money to pay for our beers, which he did with an extravagant flourish.

One afternoon in New York the aristocratic leader of the literary establishment met the beat-up leader of the literary rebellion; a signal turning point; the opening moment in one more revolution in the universe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Opportunity

Given the choice between joining one million unquestioning people supporting a stagnating System, or being a lone rebel against it, I'll take the one every time. How many times does history offer that option? It's an opening that has to be taken.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Key Points

Here are some key points about what I propose literature needs.

MFA programs were intended to professionalize creative writing and increase the value of the individual writer. They've had the opposite effect, because what they in fact do is create too great a supply of writers (an artificial supply); moreover, writers who sound the same. These programs produce competence instead of originality; treating literature not as an art, but a trade.

The current literary products; novels. stories, poems; aren't good enough. They're not working. The audience for establishment stories and poetry in particular has dwindled-- their impact on the culture even moreso. The prevailing philosophy of what constitutes "good" writing is flawed.

The big publishing companies are dominated by a highly-educated elite out of touch with the vast bulk of the American people. The literary art has to be released from its bureaucratic prisons and returned to its roots, to become organic, authentic, and alive. This is what the zeen movement has been doing.

To strongly revive interest in literature, a break with the present is required. The new writer and new writing, revealed through new products, have to be different in every conceivable way-- look, sound, taste-- from the established mainstream.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Change and the Personal

The biggest weakness of the status quo mindset, starkly obvious, is that it wants to personalize everything. Therefore, criticisms of a system or bureaucracy must be happening for personal reasons. Criticism of Writer A can't possibly be for his corrupt actions. This is incomprehensible. It has to, somehow, be personal. In a society where the concept of altruism has been obliterated, the "real" motivations of the critic are then studied. What has he to gain? What has he gained? What are we missing? It couldn't possibly be ideas themselves which motivate the person. The system's apparatchiks operate on such a base, cynical level that understanding any larger concept, any greater force or historical current, is beyond them.

Which is their great weakness. To think of all things, all ideas, all happenings solely on the level of the personal is a giant handicap. But there it is. They give themselves away time and again. Their feeble mentality gropes for ways to understand what I'm doing. So devoid of sense of how ideas and events interact over time; so lacking in reading of business or history; they search for answers in characters from movies! "Oh, Rupert Pupkin." The dilemma in their brains is resolved. They can go intellectually back to sleep.

They stumble through a fog of their own arrogance and complacency. One can put an idea directly in front of them; one inch over their heads, in the form of a marquee sign, with neon lights, and they won't see it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Zeens?

Because the nature of zeens makes them an active agent and promoter of literature, as opposed to blogs and web-sites, which seldom get their authors out from behind the computer. On-line literature will seldom snag people who aren't already interested in literature.

The successful zeen publisher is out in the world; selling, trading, promoting, marketing his or her wares. It brings literature TO the public-- more often to those not previously interested in literature. The demographic is broader.

Passive lit-blogs or active zeens?

Lit-blogs are written by and for the same folks who've studiously gone through writing programs; who buy their reading exclusively at B&N and Borders.

Anyone who's tabled at, or been to, a crowded Zine Fair knows that it's a true alternative to conglomerate dominance. Most lit-bloggers by contrast are unthinkingly supportive of the status quo.

The revival of literature depends upon reaching a much wider swath of the American public than it does now. Zeens can do that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Open Letter to Creative Writing Instructors

All art-- for that matter, everything in life-- is in a process of constant change. Art can survive only by continually questioning itself and opening itself to questions from outside, to become a willing participant in the fact and necessity of change.

You the instructor do your students a disservice if you close them off from contrary ideas regarding your art. This includes, and especially includes, the most radical and challenging ideas.

You'll find some of those ideas at this blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

About the Poem

The careers and works of Liam Rector and Jason Shinder show how establishment poetry has regressed over the years; how it's no longer even poetry, really-- the music gone from it-- but instead, cut-up examples of bad prose. Requirements of true poetic talent have been abolished.

The answer is simple: to get more people into college writing programs, paying large sums of money believing they're poets when they really aren't. The Ponzi scheme of writing programs is kept afloat for more years, sustaining paychecks and careers. All that's harmed is poetry itself.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reverse Think

The tendency of the Overdog mind is to reverse everything. Power (their own) becomes weakness, and weakness power, or at least a threat.

Regarding the established publishing world, they insist, "You don't understand it." What they're really saying is, "We exist behind Kremlin walls and you can't understand it."

But the walls don't prevent me from examining them. They're on the wrong end of a one-way glass. They can't see out, so they think I can't see in. Their walls narrow and enclose their own viewpoint.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why Change?

Why change literature? Why should you want to?

1.) It makes sense for the individual in any field or endeavor to be at the forefront of innovation and change.

2.) Once you see that literary change is inevitable, it makes sense to embrace it.

3.) Literary change is in its infancy. You can jump right to the forefront.

4.) When a field like literature is so skewed toward the privileged, change is moral and socially necessary.

5.) There is no art and has never been an art that does not change.

6.) Revolution, once begun, bounces toward the other extreme. Moderates, the Lafayettes, Kerenskys, and Pat Boones, are left behind.

7.) The longer change is delayed the greater the change will be.

8.) Those who require every question answered, every loophole filled, every guarantee given before they'll move their chess piece aren't agents of change. They're not makers of history. Change at its beginning demands a heavy portion of intuition and at least a partial leap of faith.

9.) Change is exciting.


Knowing the cycles of history is nothing more than understanding the yin-yang of the universe; being able to spot peaks and troughs; when a field or industry or stock or mindset is out of balance. In investing this is called contrary opinion theory.

When opinion is too far in one direction-- 99% agreement-- then it has nowhere to go but the other direction. In the face of extreme opinion-- or extreme stagnation-- it will flip over, almost overnight. This is called revolution.

Literature is at this reversal point.

Nothing to Lose

When you block all access points for classes of writers, they have no option BUT to seek new routes, new methods. Their obligation to their art requires them to find and use those methods. Or, blackballing doesn't work, but boomerangs on the blackballers.

Why You're Here

You're not here because you agree with me. You're here because you DON'T agree with me-- because this blog and my other blogs offer ideas you'll find nowhere else. Something inside your brain wants a new viewpoint; wants to be challenged. It's the only way your mind can grow.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are You Satisfied?

Are you satisfied with the condition of literature in this country? Happy that novelist Philip Roth, a reminiscent and boring relation who peaked in 1960, is the face of the art for this mighty civilization; the best we can offer?

Are you happy with mainstream poets John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, and Louise Gluck? Do you sincerely believe their words can stir anyone?

We know that anonymous visitors to my blogs are satisfied, as are the legions of academy demi-puppets now burning candles to one of their fallen. The sycophantic phalanx of leading lit-bloggers, Sarvas, Maud, and Champion, are satisfied. Their encounters with the literary industrial complex issues from them an appreciative gush.

The "critics" at the National Book Critics Circle are satisfied, though their world is collapsing around them. The System's books, the way they're written, promoted, and reviewed, are all wonderful. These "critics" make no waves to disturb a public which stopped listening to them long ago.

The System, the bureaucracies and the bureaucrats-- the MACHINE-- is satisfied as long as it continues operating without breakdown. Placement in American culture alongside more popular activities isn't an issue, when one is content to merely exist, with a solid core of aficionadoes as insulated as the fans of opera, backgammon, or bridge. One takes no risks when the goal is to remain safe.

I know where established literary people stand-- but are YOU, the reader of this blog, satisfied? Or do you think we can do better? Do you envision a culture where writers and poets are as important as politicians, as popular as athletes, actors, and rock stars? Do you see not the current stagnation, but a dawning golden age of American literature?

I've seen it. Making it happen against a mass of negativists and naysayers is the challenge.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Kinder Approach?

How does one change the mentality of the literary establishment using gentle means?

Will New York, Vanity Fair, Vogue,, voluntarily cease their endless worship of money, their celebrations of snobbery?

Will the publishing companies, on their own, stop force-feeding young people snob-based garbage, to give them instead works reflecting this nation's democratic ideals?

Will American literature, by itself, with its novels, stories, poems, and criticism, return to its days of scope, relevance, understanding, compassion, and greatness?

My experience is that the minds of the Overclass which dominates our literature are made of unmoving concrete. I'd love to be proved wrong.

Jason Shinder and the ULA

The best place for info about the ULA's encounter with Mr. Shinder, during our "Howl" protest in 2006, is at Check the News archives and the Monday Report archives. One can't fault him too much for defending his literary milieu and its ideas, though they were misguided. He's a noteworthy figure in the underground rebellion's ongoing history.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


that I've allowed this blog to go off track, engaging in the kind of contention I'd rather reserve for my "Demi-Pupper" place. I therefore resolve to be easier on peripheral personalities, misguided though they may be. One of the difficulties in going after ingrained ideas of the conglomerate mainstream, is how to avoid hitting individuals who advocate those ideas.

Americans are being fed SO much propaganda through various streams, they're unable to see their own country beneath the multi-media noise.

If I'm to return to the original vision of this blog, I can't at the same time waste my time with the kind of perpetual anonymous attacks which have sidetracked me so many times. There exist persons of no character and extreme malice who make it their business to prevent all attempts at literary change.

How far do you compromise your principles in order to defend your cause against ruthless enemies who have no principles whatsoever?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day 2008

Most people don't realize that in 1919 the United States was on the verge of revolution-- that on May Day of that year four million working people went on strike in cities and towns throughout the country. There were demonstrations and riots everywhere.

It was an amazing day little covered by America's writers-- except, strangely enough, by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his great story "May Day." Even though he comes at the day from an aspect of privilege, he well captures the turmoil and mood which existed.

His story is also a good example of how the literary art has changed-- become increasingly narrowed. Notice his great opening paragraph which gives context and scope to his story-- making the reader aware that his characters exist WITHIN a civilization; are part of the sweep of history.

Fitzgerald, of course, though not a naturalist himself (though he kind of tried to become one in his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned,) had been influenced by the great naturalists, who at the time he wrote the story were still an enormous influence on our literature.

Compare Fitzgerald's story with the similar one by J.D. Salinger, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," which borrowed Fitz's ending, to see how the art of the story began changing around 1950, becoming more narcissistic-- a trend which has continued to now.

American Miseducation

Susan Nagel's book on Marie Therese is relevant to what's happening now (see my May Day post at because it illustrates the mindset of the most powerful members of our nation's intellectual class, centered in the heart of print media in New York.

The scariest part is that Susan Nagel, and one of her biggest fans, Maria Elena Vidal, are both college professors-- yet they've shown little dedication to history as a search for truth. (One could fill up an entire volume listing the historical inaccuracies and misconceptions in Nagel's book.)

On her blog (listed at a previous post) M.E. Vidal equates noticing the realities of this country with Marxism. The belief: "Oh, you said the words 'inequality' and 'class' so you must be a Marxist!" She shows an inability to think outside the standard boxes labelled "Right" and "Left" which have over the years become ever smaller.

Ms. Vidal should be reminded that the French revolutionaries embraced "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" without the influence of Marx. I don't think he was around! She should realize that there were once revolutionaries in this very country-- yes, believe it-- whose ideals were democratic and whose actions kicked out the royals and every touch of royalty, a royalty which George Washington himself abhorred.

Ms. Vidal and Ms. Nagel are big fans of Edmund Burke. They're reading the wrong text. They should be reading and teaching Thomas Paine's Rights of Man instead.

(Catch my full review of Marie Therese, Child of Terror at

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Abandoned Aristocrat

A strong believer in the reactionary strength of nobility like Susan Nagel, who exists in a melodramatic world where wealth and unearned entitlement are supremely virtuous, must be sorely disappointed that no one has arisen to defend her book against the onslaught of truth. Where are today's Scarlet Pimpernels to put me swiftly in my place?

Alas, they no more exist now than they did then. Aristocracy implies parasitic weakness.

The last U.S. literary aristocrat of any character and courage was George Plimpton-- Pimpernel Plimpton!-- who in his latter days bravely met the literary Rebellion face-to-face, but has since gone on to the big Versailles palace in the sky.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


of established literature today is tragic. The flaw is that the participants don't know and don't want to know. They can't see their true situation-- and so they imagine that our literature is vibrant. They cling to inaccessible novelists like William Vollmann who'll never attract a major audience, using this to proclaim their success, while corrupt concoctions of propagandistic garbage about royalty or rich people pays the bills.

Think of the Soviet Union in the 1980's; a closed system in slow collapse, whose engineers were unwilling to face the dustiness of their dead regime. A few things worked, but they couldn't get rid of the dust.

The goal of this blog is to announce that American literature can be exciting, relevant, and great again. First its mandarins have to acknowledge its true condition. They have to take that first step out of the dusty room; to grab the door knob and wrench open the door, to step into the new world of literature beyond.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lit-Blogger Sycophancy

INSTEAD of becoming independent alternatives, most lit-blogs are now mere shills for the powerful publishing conglomerates.

Two examples of this are the hapless interview of Susan Nagel by Elena Maria Vidal at

and the advertisement masquerading as a post by Marshal Zeringue at

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Disturbing Trend

A book like Susan Nagel's Marie Therese, Child of Terror-- reactionary propaganda masquerading as history-- wouldn't have been published and hyped twenty years ago or more in this country, when there was still a concern that history be history. This was back when the U.S. was a democracy, not an Empire. The hallmark of the literature of our American Republic was radical populism, from Melville to Harriet Stowe to Mark Twain; Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London, Dreiser, up to John Steinbeck, who wrote the screenplay for "Viva Zapata!" which starred Marlon Brando in 1952. Our literature was populist and was also about the search for truth; telling the TRUE story.

The big publishing houses in New York now are distorting and discarding history and especially OUR history.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1,195 Horses

In her book, Marie Therese, Child of Terror, Susan Nagel makes much of the fact that in the two years before revolution, Louis XVI engaged in modest cost-cutting measures. For instance, the number of horses in the King's stables "shrank" to 1,195. This at a period when people throughout France were starving.

"Let them eat cake"? Nagel's analysis of the situation is the intellectual equivalent.

We should keep in mind the context within which Bloomsbury has published Nagel's ultra-reactionary book. The U.S. government is bankrupt. Real prices (not a dummied-up CPI) are skyrocketing across the board-- for food, energy, medical care, and education. Wages are stagnant at best, in many places in decline. The housing industry is near collapse. In Detroit, there's an ongoing strike in which workers are asked to cut their wages in half. IN HALF. Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate in the city is 25% and declining.

In short, the gap between rich and poor in America continues widening, mimicking France in 1789. As this happens, the N.Y. publishing industry issues celebrations of privilege and weeps about royalty of bygone days.

The good news is that with these egregious happenings are also opportunities for change-- beginning with the nation's philosophy; starting perhaps by overturning the mentality of the literary industry-- or relocating that industry to another city.

1,195 horses indeed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tina Brown and the New Aristocrats

We're seeing the result of having so many upper-class Brits in high positions in print-media and publishing in New York. The Marie Therese, Child of Terror book receiving a big push in Manhattan by British based publisher Bloomsbury is only the latest in a full scale cultural assault; yet another "British Invasion," but this time the invaders aren't Liverpool working class mop-tops, but the aristocrats themselves, accompanied by rattling jewels. (See my review at; also check out for a look at Aristos in their natural habitat.)

How many movies and TV shows have been made from Jane Austen novels alone in recent years? Or boring filmed paeans to privilege like "The Queen"?

In the lit realm, Marie Therese follows in the path of Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette and Amanda Foreman's Georgianna: Duchess of Devonshire.

At the forefront of the assault is Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, who as Editor turned both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker into cesspools of class-based snobbery and celebrations of extreme wealth.

The question arises whether the east coast island of money is leaving the Union altogether and forming with another island a new Anglo-American British Empire, as advocated over the years by personages like Carroll Quigley and Winston Churchill. We do know that at the centers of print media monopoly, London and New York, the ideals of democracy are being shredded.

Time to bring out fife and drum!-- to sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "The Marseillaise"! We need to restore media democracy and recapture our own culture.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not on List

"King Kong vs. Godzilla"
--did not make my "Ten Best Movies" list, unfortunately.

A Charlton Heston Quote

Likely the best line the actor ever recited, from "Ben Hur":

"When Rome falls there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has never seen."

This is how inhabitants of the world now view us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Literary Mystery

who've yet to check out my Literary Mystery blog,
please do so. I've begun another narrative of the movie-serial novel, "Plutocracy USA." The novel is about clashes between literary gangs and is filled with such daring literary innovations as plotting and characters, devices which owe nothing to theorists like Robbe-Grillet!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

P.C. Criticism

The topic of women in movies was brought up. Curiously enough, this past Saturday afternoon I saw a free showing of a Mary Pickford flick, "Daddy Long Legs," at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which was accompanied by live piano.

In its way it's a great movie, for all its simplicity. It's a tale of a woman found in a trash can as a baby and raised in an orphanage. Made in 1919, when many countries, including this one, were on the verge of revolution, its theme from start to finish is class: the difference between rich and poor in America. The movie contains scenes of tremendous pathos, very real scenes-- Dickensian scenes-- of a kind not to be found in movies or in any art form today.

At the same time the movie has great humor-- Mary Pickford WAS a wonderful player-- and a joy of life about it, as in the brief scene when she plays Juliet in an outdoor performance of Shakespeare at the college to which a mysterious benefactor has sent her after her "graduation" from the orphanage. Literature was far more important in that world, ninety years ago. The Pickford character, Judy, gains her independence not through becoming a rock star, but by writing a novel!

What do the DIA brochure notes say about the film? "-- reflects both fascination and ambivelence (sic) toward women's expanding social prerogatives."

Say what? I looked very hard to find this in the actual movie, and couldn't.

The movie in fact shows the solidarity between lower class men and women, in the scenes of children's rebellion at the orphanage. Some university-trained robot puts a p.c. twist on the movie regardless.

It's frustrating to see this, as we live in a time when this America of ours is more of a plutocracy than ever before, yet our critics refuse to see it. They willfully wear blinders, tapping away at their keyboards about prism-distilled boozhie-approved subjects like "women's social prerogatives" while the real story like a giant monster looms unseen behind them.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

#6: "Bridge on the River Kwai"

"Kill him!"

This scream from William Holden's slacker character near the end of "Bridge" emphasizes war's contradiction; contradiction after contradiction after contradiction; the building of "a proper bridge" by British p.o.w.'s only the most obvious.

This may be the best example of movie-as-experience. The moviegoer is WITH Holden as he escapes through the jungle, WITH the commandos amid the gurgling water as they plant charges the evening before demolition, while prisoner Alec Guinness and Japanese commandant Sessue Hayakawa stroll on the just-completed bridge. Destruction and accomplishment are counterpoints.

The clash of mentalities and wills is everyplace: Guinness's stubborn Colonel Nicholson and Hayakawa's authoritarian officer at the outset; later, the Jack Hawkins and William Holden characters on the commando team. Holden has few lines but imbues them with eternal meaning, as the team cuts inexorably through the jungle, returning, madly, to the "madness" he'd already left.

With this flick, unlike even David Lean's equally great "Lawrence," there are no editing flourishes; no tricks. The adventure is seamless-- you lose yourself entirely within the story and setting.

The madness of war is the theme-- wonderfully highlighted by scenes of peace; the commandos bathing in a stream with pretty Burmese girls a few moments before that stream is stained by blood. Everything: tragedy.

Literate, intelligent, suspenseful, terrifically acted and beautifully photographed, this superb work of art has to rank near the top of any "Best Movie" list.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Catch a Wave


Because we're the only writers who've broken with the stagnation of the present; the only ones who operate outside the conglomerate-academy-foundation system. We offer a new beginning.

My goal is not a return to the past, but a new synthesis of broken pieces of the past to create a literature never before seen: the shock of the new.

To accomplish this will require writers eager and daring enough to be cultural pioneers, breaking free of the shackles and safety net of things-as-they-are in order to start over, as if we were the first writers introducing the excitement of words to the world.

Friday, March 28, 2008

DIY Rebel

There are a number of DIY thinkers besides myself who are creating the foundation for an artistic rebellion which will become stronger in the years ahead. One of the best of them is Tom Hendricks of the long-running zeen Musea.

Tom recently "alienated" fans of the Dallas Morning News by pointing out an obvious example of product placement (Starbucks) in one of their captioned photos and stories. Tom's an attack dog of relentless integrity and relentlessly unstoppable LOGIC.

An artist, musician, and writer, his zeen covers the artistic gamut, always full of ideas, with some issues better than others. #162, "The Five Doors," is one of the best, explaining what the DIY revolution is about. I'd like to see copies of this modest pamphlet in every high school and college classroom in America! Then, our side would win.

The future is waiting. The DIY Rebellion pushing ahead on many fronts is an artistic and intellectual movement. Help us get the word out.

(Write Tom Hendricks at 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas TX 75219 requesting a free copy of "The Five Doors" and I'm sure he'll send you one.)

For more info on his activities, see

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Suburban Ghetto"

I'm a hip-hoppin brat from suburban ghet-to
readin my poems even tho' they do blow
Want the motherfuckin' pimp-daddy pose and show,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

I take my models from what I see
cartoon characters on my TV!
just like them is what I wanna be,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

Want to trash the city and burn the 'hood
wanna be BAD, don't wanna be good,
as long as it's not my Daddy's neighborhood!
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

I spent my summer in Paris, France
smoked cigarettes, did disco dance
fucked all night when I got the chance,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

Now I'm back in the USA,
readin my poetry night and day
Daddy's credit cards payin' the way!
For a hip-hoppin brat from suburban ghet-to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Ideas of Robbe-Grillet

ideas make some sense within the pages of his book. It's a finely constructed argument made of tissue paper. His theory is dependent on one factor. Absent that factor, the ideas become rationalizations for what he couldn't do. Could he create characters, plot, humanity, tragedy? No! Never fear; he explains all. His theory is an explanation for his failings as a novelist.

What was the one factor he used to justify his art?

That he was the logical, sequential heir to a line of great novelists, beginning with Balzac. His experiment was the next step.

Curious, though. On one hand he celebrates Faulkner as one of his recent predecessors. On the other he says that plot and story are no longer possible. But was any novelist more dependent on the intricacies of plot, or had more of a story to tell, than William Faulkner? If so, let me know. I'd like to read that person.

Given Robbe-Grillet's dead-end theory-- that he'd already eliminated character and story-- what was to be the next progression after that?

Would it be to eliminate words themselves?

But that would be the end of the novel.

As solution we have the New New Postmodernist, ready to reveal his masterpiece to the world.

The hall is filled. A red velvet cloth covers the volume, which rests appropriately on a marble pedestal. With a flourish, like a magician he whisks away the cloth! To reveal: nothing. The audience gasps. The pedestal is bare. The New New Postmodern Novelist steps to the microphone with an explanation.

"The genius is that I imagined the novel. I hypothesized the New New Novel without ever having to write it."

Everyone applauds.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Power of Pods

was what happened on Dan Green's "Reading Experience" blog in February when Ray Carver's first wife, Mary Burk Carver, stopped by to give her opinion that Carver was a better writer than Gordon Lish, and that it was unjust to give Lish credit for Carver's achievements.

Reaction was swift from the pod pack, who defended Lish's invisible literary qualities, citing all the tremendous writers (Amy Hempel) he created. I was waiting for the Leonard Nimoy character from the "Invasion" 70's remake to tell her, "Life will be easier if you agree with us."

Faced by the pod mob, Ms. Carver quickly recanted her heretical statements, affirming that Gordon Lish is a nice guy and a great writer.

In truth, Lish is a chief literary pod who has pushed the podification of American writing. The work of acolytes like Hempel, stripped of intelligence, context, and strong emotion-- of everything except vague feelings: plant-like unease-- are examples of a literary trend worth fighting. It's a battle against pod conformity.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rescuing Robbe-Grillet

to Cozzen's artistic ambition wasn't to deny ambition, but to point out that Alain Robbe-Grillet was no less ambitious-- his ambition being to remake the novel itself.

"--a grievous fault,
And grievously hath he answered it."

The value of Robbe-Grillet comes from his bravery; that he was an artistic rebel who realized literature had to change-- then sought to change it. Unlike most, he saw a problem. Only his solution was wrong. Though unwittingly his ideas fell in with the art form's Great Reaction-- its retreat into solipsism-- he remains a model and a lesson for all literary revolutionaries.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The purpose of my blogs is exactly what I've been using them for-- to present arguments, to engage in debate, to provoke discussion and thought, in so doing to propagate ideas which I believe in concerning literature.


The only tool status quo apologists seem to be able to use in debate is to question my motivations-- that I'm not real, just out for myself, a "poseur," egomaniac, etc.

I've hardly benefitted by waging this campaign-- I live on the margins-- but, like other undergrounders, I believe in what I'm doing. I've stepped back as much as I could to avoid dominating the movement-- was never the headliner (often not mentioned on the flyers) at any of the shows I promoted, for instance, and didn't ask to be included in the list of ULA Press books. Even when I opt NOT to be in a collection, so as to not appear self-serving, it's not good enough, as has been observed.

(Of course, many of those questioning my motivations remain anonymous, so we can never check out their own.)

Double Standards

Curious, isn't it, that a dissenter's actions and motivations are put under a microscope. Yet privileged writers in this society aren't questioned at all-- questioned why their art is a failure, why they have ALL the seats at the table, all the literary media pie, big advances and tax shelter foundation grants awards, and so on.

My "Rants"

Given that those at the forefront of the underground rebellion have not been welcomed, before or after I began making noise, it's hard to argue that my "rants" (arguments) are the cause. Many of the best underground writers, like Jack Saunders, Fred Woodworth, and Bill Blackolive, have been shut out for decades. Jack's efforts, for one, have always been exceedingly polite. It didn't do him any good at all. The only attention he's EVER received by the mainstream media, in fact, happened as a result of the ULA's vociferous noise.

The Dilemma

This is what I'm expected to do:
I'm expected to serve the underground relentlessly and selflessly, permanently and eternally, yet take no credit for it. In fact, I should remain anonymous.

At the same time I should stand ready to be blamed for all underground setbacks.

I should receive no credit for projects and press I initiate, unless said projects fall apart.

I should stand ready to serve all members of the underground, at any time, immediately, and my every own action should be subject to veto by any member of the underground. I should carry responsibility for every flaw of said underground, yet have no corresponding authority to correct those flaws.

In relations with the mainstream, and with status quo apologists, in debate and argument, I'm expected to always be properly polite. I should never try too hard to win an argument, even if outnumbered 10 to 1; even if my opponents, by their own words, are "piling on." Satire and sarcasm are off the table for me. In short, I should fight with both arms behind my back, and make sure that my statements are constructed to be unprovocative and inocuous, so that no one would want to read them. As bland as the lit-world itself.

At the same time, all style of invective, insults, and personal attacks from opponents are allowed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Robbe-Grillet!


Here's another striking irony. Robbe-Grillet's essay on writer Raymond Roussel indicates to me that if Roussel were alive today he'd be in the Underground Literary Alliance. Roussel would certainly be rejected by the lit-blogger bow-tie boys as a "bad writer."

The ULA has presented a wide variety of underground writers, including of course many whose writing styles are far different from my own. The underground has never been a monolith.

Willfully and explicitly the ULA welcomed writers like Jack Saunders who've remade the novel, Robbe-Grillet-style, and been rejected for it-- including by Robbe-Grillet advocates who should've known better, done a bit closer reading of their favorite literary theorist and author.

"Anti-intellectual" was a term likely hurled at the idol, Robbe-Grillet, as it has so often been thrown at the underground. If the French dude were around today he'd be in the rebel camp. Robbe-Grillet had little truck with the historically timid: the artistically imperious or aesthetically immoveable.

Cozzens II

on another blog, Cozzens to Beethoven in his use of structure and form to arrive at a transcendent moment. The comparison is just.

Study the way, in his famous 5th symphony, in the first movement Beethoven begins with a simple theme-- four notes!-- then slowly and masterfully plays with them, interweaves them, until by the end of the movement he's achieving, quite unexpectedly, tremendously dynamic sound.

The novel contains movements also-- the expression of a narrative line. Just as a composer hooks the listener and carries him forward, the writer ideally does the same thing.

Study the long opening section of Guard of Honor: a plane flight from one air force base to another.

It's a textbook case of how to lay down plot threads. Everything which is to come later in the huge work is set up in the extended opening scene. This is what professors SHOULD be teaching in writing or English classes.

The leading characters are introduced; complex, adult characters; flawed, biased, arrogant, human characters.

Cozzens plays three themes: the characters; the shaky interior of the plane; the weather outside. Four themes, really, because there's the hidden theme of the suppressed conflicts of society. Quite unexpectedly the themes all come together, in a brilliant way, at the very closing moments of the first movement: this extended scene.

Anyone who takes sentences out of context to claim Cozzens can't write should study what he achieves with his sentences in this scene; how he puts the reader inside that plane, looking over the shoulder of General Beal, feeling the bouncing plane and the fast-tension of the moment. A moment filled with implication and meaning far beyond the landing of an airplane.

It's the kind of moment, unfortunately, you'll never discover in a book by Robbe-Grillet.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Robbe-Grillet Fans

A Robbe-Grillet fan in 2008 is the ultimate anachronism. Alain Robbe-Grillet was very much a writer of a moment in time. His argument, the justification for his art presented in For a New Novel, is premised on being a writer THEN, in 1965; the culmination of a progressive line of novelists, the logical end point in an ever-moving artistic system necessarily dependent on the WHEN of the novelist.

By his own thinking, a Robbe-Grillet 2008 is an impossibility; a time-machine freak. Within the narrow sophistry of the arguments of his book, literary fans embracing his art in 2008 are inconceivable, can only be considered museum pieces.

I agree with A. R-B that art can't remain static. Ironically though, for all his "avant-garde" thought, he held a linear view of history, while from my brief days 20 years ago on the fringe of the investment biz I've believed in Elliott Wave Theory; or, history as cyclical, or more specifically, proceeding rhythmnically like nature, in ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys.

Robbe-Grillet would be disappointed in his own fans. Their view of history isn't linear or cyclical, but rigid.


There is one point on which Cozzens and Robbe-Grillet would assuredly agree, and that is on the novel being put together "by a creative consciousness, by will, by rigor. Patient labor, methodical construction, the deliberate architecture of each sentence as of the whole of the book--."
(For a New Novel.)

There were better novelists than James Gould Cozzens, but none more adept at the architecture of the novel. What he created, moreover, in his mature years, was of far more complexity and size than the baby-creations of Robbe-Grillet, while no less rigorous and finished. It's the difference between an automobile and a tricycle.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Critical Aside

From a discussion begun on another blog. . . .

WHEN SOMEONE STARTS talking about "middlebrow" writers, it means they're not thinking, but are regurgitating what was on the blackboard in English 545.

"Middlebrow" comes from 1950's critic Dwight MacDonald, who famously attacked author James Gould Cozzens in an essay called "By Cozzens Possessed." His is the received wisdom which you've been parroting. The Cozzens reputation was established at that time, hardened into concrete, allowing those who came later, such as yourselves, to not have to think. You can simply click to the "Received Wisdom" page, under "C."

Yep, there it is! "Cozzens." "Middlebrow." "By Love Possessed." Terrible writer! It says so, right there. There on the screen.

Under "R" we find the much praised innovative postmodernist "Robbe-Grillet." No mention of the stuff of literature about his work-- like striking characters, stories, insights-- because the stuff of literature is missing. He's a great writer because he is, that's why.

Could the Received Wisdom ever be wrong?

I mean, the professor, the blackboard at the university. He told me. . . .
I read Cozzens's Guard of Honor as long ago as when I read Robbe-Grillet. Yet I recall nothing of the latter's work-- not an incident-- while moments from Cozzen's great novel are planted in my memory. ("Great" meaning largeness of scope and mind.) A novel is ultimately about moments, and how we arrive at them. For "Guard" it's finally about the last moment, when brash-but-inept young General Beal and his mentor-sidekick Colonel Ross watch a large American bomber plane ascend into the sky. We feel everything which has transpired on all the many previous pages. The two men are satisfied because they've kept the whole shithouse of their very large Army Air Force base together for another day, despite incompetency and mishap, and mishap and incompetency.

For them, it's a triumph. For the reader it's a bigger moment. We're experiencing one of the great moments of American literature-- the first recognition of the birth of American Empire. The end of World War II was the point in time when the American civilization irrevocably changed. No writer other than Cozzens so well captured that transcendent birth-moment; for him and his two characters, a glorious moment. (For us, living under the George W. Bush regime, likely less glorious.)

In back of that moment, in the body of the novel, Cozzens has captured the American system's staggering venality and corruption, but also its unstoppable unthinking strength. America has been about business and organization. We've won wars not because we had braver soldiers, but because we had larger organizations. We've steamrolled the entire world by our energy, our products, our gift for organization: our mindless progress. As the novel shows, right and truth are subordinated to the needs of the organization. It's been the American way.

The happenings of later decades are prefigured in the happenings of Cozzens's story. You want the Sixties? You have the roots of the Sixties in the nascent rebellion by the black officers on base, and in the presence of two young white officers-- a liberal and a radical-- whose actions old Colonel Ross has to pre-empt if he's to save his dynamic but immature general. Society-- even the society of an army air force base; center of the Beast-- is a powder keg.

The amazing thing about the novel is that Cozzens, uber-conservative though he is, tackles questions of racism and class. He depicts the hierarchy of American society in a way no established novelist will even attempt to do today. (Though the hierarchy today is more pronounced; the gaps between classes greater than they were in his time.) The depiction is of a piece with the novelist's essential honesty.

Few American novels have been more ambitious-- or more successful in realizing that ambition. If "Guard" is not a great novel, then there are no great novels; there are no standards, no artistic values, and words like "great" have lost all meaning.

Given that a Robbe-Grillet is raised on a pedestal while Cozzens is demeaned, this is the situation of American criticism today-- a mindset which must be overturned if we're to begin our American literary Golden Age.

(Next: two more parts to this, including a discussion of Cozzens and Beethoven. Stay tuned.)


Thinking of Robbe-Grillet, I'm reminded of Simon Schama's great PBS TV series last year about artistic masterpieces. He wonderfully highlighted works by geniuses like Caravaggio. Then he did an episode on a 20th century American abstract painter-- I can't recall his name. Rothko? Schama went through his usual effusive explanation, then the camera panned and you were looking at a big blob of paint.

It's the same thing with Robbe-Grillet. The critical establishment can gush and point, but when you look at the actual work there's not a lot there. You're looking, basically, at a blob of paint.

Or as Oscar Madison said, "It's not linguine, it's garbage."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Happy doesn't mean lobotomized.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


The literary System as it exists today, as presented in Jeff Herman's book and others like it, is like an ideology or religion. The giant edifice is constructed on faith. The odds of a fledgling writer enrolled in a writing rpogram of being meaningfully published are 1 in 50,000, yet the person believes that he or she will be one of the Chosen few. (Never mind that the writers whose books are backed and hyped generally are well-connected, chosen from the outset.) Forget the odds: the would-be writer believes! Take away that belief and the entire structure would collapse within a week.

How do we know the System is ideology, is religion?

In Herman's 991-page book there is not one contrary opinion, not one dissenting voice, not one word condemning the unwieldy process itself. It is total unquestioning mindlock.

Indeed, in the entirety of the System of many thousands of writers, teachers, editors, agents, publicists, commentators; a billion dollar schooling program feeding a billion dollar industry, from leafy campuses to gigantic Manhattan skyscrapers, you'll find scarcely one dissenting voice. Oh you'll find exhaustion, frustration, complaints-- but not directed at the System itself. Those few who dare to speak against it, as my blogs, or the handful of literary rebels in the Underground Literary Alliance, at the edge of the literary universe, find themselves scorned and ostracized.

The all-powerful System produces jobs for many and profits for some, but it also produces massive artistic failure. There is no way of knowing whether they're getting the best writers-- only the best funded and most compliant; the most UNimaginative to be able to accept and survive the process. No one knows how many Thomas Wolfes, Scott Fitzgeralds, or Jack Kerouacs are in the rooms of the slush pile; tossed there because their envelopes were improperly or sloppily addressed, or the manuscripts contained coffee stains, or beer stains, or misspellings on the very first page, or were in an unfamiliar voice or tone or milieu (think of Bill Blackolive), and so presented the preppy reader a vastly new, disorienting, and uncomfortable world. The manuscript might even attack the demi-puppet reader himself!-- and so would have to be immediately tossed back into the stacks, hands which touched it washed thoroughly afterward.

No one knows how many John Kennedy Tooles have committed suicide in the frustration of knowing their book, no matter how good, would never find print.

No: the massive process is massively unwieldy and massively inefficient, when you consider that, by the admission of the System's own acolytes like Jeff Herman, 99% of the work produced never sees daylight. It ends up not in slush pile rooms but slush pile warehouses. So much wasted effort.

How much better for literature, for writers, and for the culture if even a fraction of System writers were instead creating their own zeens; putting their words, their ideas, and their imaginations THERE, in quirky colorful and relevant uniquely individualized craftings; then sold the literary artworks-- encompassing many aspects of art-- THEMSELVES, whether in zeen stores or through snail mail networks or publications like Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press-- or, as many have done, on buses or at rock shows or in saloons and on streetcorners. You would have an army of writers bringing their literature directly to the public. The most creative of them, with the freshest voices or most striking ideas, would find their audience. There would be no gatekeepers; no judges of authority in metaphorical black robes passing sentence. People who'd never read a book in their lives, never stepped inside a Barnes & Noble, would be introduced to the joys of reading and writing. Those zeensters who didn't find an audience might instead discover a network of fellow literary adventurers, and, at least, for his or her efforts, would have at the end of it not yellowing typed pages moldering in a distant warehouse, but a real creative accomplishment.

This is exactly the milieu within which I jumped into literature in the early 1990's-- a tremendously exhilarating underground scene. In its way it's a different literary religion to the all-powerful and hierarchical System one, but how liberating! It's a literary revolution alright-- a revolution of the mind.

It's not too late to kickstart this rebellion of the word again-- not too late for YOU the writer to jump into it; to discover the freedom and joy of being a pathfinder, of discovering the entirely new. With thousands of literary zeensters reaching the reading public directly, the top-heavy monopolistic status quo publishing industry, like an obsolete dinosaur, would collapse from its own weight.

Literary happiness-- that's all any of us wants.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Writer from Hell


In Jeff Herman's extensive look at the publishing industry, each agent listed is asked to comment on "The Writer from Hell." The bane of the industry.

I decided to make a list of past writers who, for various reasons, whether their drinking, egos, temper, sloppiness, independence, or madness, were likely candidates for the feared and much avoided "Writer from Hell." A partial list:

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Wolfe, Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Will Shakespeare, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, William Blake, Thomas Malory, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, Francois Villon, Rimbaud, Celine, Genet, Emile Zola, Nikolai Gogol, Marquis deSade, Henry Miller, Jerzy Kosinski, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, D.A. Levy, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Ambrose Bierce, Mary McCarthy, Lillian Hellman.

Who have I missed? I'm sure other names can be provided.

(More to follow.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Writer Biz

Second in a 4-Part Series

From reading Jeff Herman's mammoth book, I understand that nothing is read from the publishing industry slush pile. If a manuscript ends up there it's dead. Editors, in fact, rely almost solely on agents to do their screening for them-- are dependent on their taste. Given the incredible amount of submissions, this is the only way to operate. There's no way out. There are too many writers.


We see the outlines of a gigantic money-making machine whose purpose is to squeeze dollars out of the writer. The would-be writer, as much as the reader who buys the finished product, keeps the machine operating-- beginning with the first level, expensive writing programs.

There are too many writers today, more than there have ever been, because of these programs, which continue expanding and adding more classes and higher degrees of "achievement," feeding on people's hopes though odds of success are roughly akin to breaking a gambling casino. The programs are creating "writers" out of people who aren't writers at all-- have no natural ability or compulsion to write-- otherwise they wouldn't be in these programs. For the most part they're bourgeois folk who like the idea of being a "writer"-- the role-- and so the next step is, "How do I become one?"

First, get out your credit cards, because it's going to be expensive.

It's an industry: an industry erected to bilk the gullible. You have not just writing programs, but the many seminars, conferences, contests, and retreats. You have the many writers books and magazines. You have, now, apparently, a new layer of middlemen added with "book doctors" and "consulting editors." More money.

After the "writer" pays the book doctor he's finally ready for the literary agent. Many agents don't charge reading fees-- but their positions are enabled by the writer; by the enormous mass of writers which the writing programs have readily supplied.

What's being produced, as I said in a "Monday Report" for the Underground Literary Alliance, is Conformists with Money. These "writers" had better enjoy classrooms, in other words, because they're going to be spending a lot of time in them. And paying through every orifice. Against this mass of wannabes, our day's Stephen Cranes, Jack Londons, and O. Henrys don't have a penguin's chance against an avalanche.
The DIY "zeen" way of producing writers is much healthier, less exploitive, allows the writer to be more artistically creative, and by selling directly to the public, enables him to discover his market, and whether he has a market. Pluses all the way.

p.s. Late last year I was in an extended e-mail discussion with status quo lit-blogger Ed Champion, who kept insisting that every writer must submit to editing. Now that I've looked into the matter, I'm beginning to see the outline of his reasoning. He wants the Machine to keep operating.

(To be continued.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Who are the people who decide which writers are fit to be published by the conglomerates?

To find out I browsed through Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents.

According to their listed resumes, east coast literary agents are the best and brightest of our society. I found their bios covered with degrees from Columbia, Brown, Barnard, Vassar, Williams, Wellesly, U of Michigan-- all the biggies. Many didn't just graduate, but were at the top of their class-- "honors"; "high honors"; high distinction." Very studious people. I don't have a clue about the distinction between "high honors" and "high distinction," but I'm sure both are important, well, distinctions.

Here are a few of the answers I found at random to questions like, "How and why did you ever become a literary agent?" (Note to Herman: Please knock out the "ever.")
-"I asked Dad for money for graduate school. He offered me a job at Curtis Brown instead."
-"My first real job was at the United Nations."
-"I'm a publishing brat." (Which I take to mean, Mom or Dad are in publishing.)

Bottom line: We seem to have in literary agents a top echelon of American society; people with backgrounds of affluence and success.

The Question: Are these people fit to judge the tastes of the general American public-- or to judge writers who most certainly come from more knockabout, nonconformist worlds than they? Do they understand the mentality behind the words on the page? Are they able to relate?

There has to be a reason we're getting so many books about the very rich or the very busy in New York City.

(More to come.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reclaiming the Mainstream

THIS is the task of all writers and artists tired of cultural stagnation business-as-usual mentalities recycled postures and ideas tremendous sums of money thrown at the artistic problem but creating no excitement. ART for most people in this country has become a DUTY.

"Read this poem. It's good for you."

"I don't want to read it."

"Read this story then."

"But I don't want to."

The tragedy is that new exciting art and literature IS being created. I've discovered it, my friends-- the New Stuff, the True Gen, and will be announcing it AT THIS VENUE in between pointing out the moldiness and madness of today's cultural fakirs. Help is on its way.

America's culture belongs not to the intellectualized fossilized mandarins the professional academic authorities conglomerate machine flunkies or foundational snob money launderers. Not even to the sons and daughters of Presidents, TV execs, and bankers.

It belongs to the people.

It belongs to you and me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why Is This?

Lawrence Richette, is publishing through Xlibris.

Monday, February 25, 2008


The current issue of Vanity Fair has a feature where current Hollywood actors dress up as characters in Hitchcock movies. Someone had the bright idea of having Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey play Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in "To Catch a Thief." Uh, no.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

#7: "North by Northwest"

When reviewing in my head all of these choices, I continually say, "Wow! What a movie."

Such is it with this Hitchcock flick, which, frankly, in some ways is dated. The rollercoaster aspect of film, of this film, has been superceded by the hyper-manic likes of the latest "Mission Impossible" movie as much as if "North by Northwest" were "The Great Train Robbery." But on the big screen, the ARTISTIC thrill-- the joy of the canvas presented; the romance-- remains.

The hero of the romance, Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), is on his own mythic journey, his plunge into the subconscious: the pursuit of his soulmate. The mythic aspects are well-hidden as the hero faces the forces of the modern world; finding adventure in everyday life.

Like Odysseus-- or like the hero in "Guns of Navarone"-- Cary Grant encounters a siren who seeks to destroy him, but this time the wayward adventurer goes beyond a superficial encounter with feminine wiles, attractions and pitfalls, to an adult realization of her true predicament, and maybe, her love for him. As in "Adventures of Robin Hood," he finds his mate in the camp of the enemy.

Beyond this, the hero realizes she (beautiful and deadly Eva Marie Saint) is his equal; is more than his equal. He is, after all, a mere mortal, a Madison Avenue ad man, while she seems to romp with the gods of adventure as a secret agent. She's very human at the same time, and beneath Hitchcock's "MacGuffin" plot the ad man's quest comes down to one thing: Her. Everything in his life prior becomes superficial; meaningless in comparison to his primal want.

In this tale Penelope is along on the adventure.

The closing minutes are breathtaking-- accompanied by the Bernard Hermann score-- as aging but still agile Cary Grant climbs up the wondrous house of the bad guys to save his mate and simultaneously prove himself worthy of her. Then they encounter America's historical icons on Mt. Rushmore and begin to scamper down from them.

This is great art but it's also film as experience. We're with the couple as they move about the monument (to Hermann's bombardment of music); moments that are thrilling and sexy.

What else can I say? It's a masterpiece.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Movie Stylings

in theaters unique is that they're like giant canvas paintings come to life, set to words and music. As with paintings, we can notice different styles in them.

Compare the opening for instance of two visually beautiful westerns, "The Searchers" and "The Big Country." Made two years apart, both very 1950's, set in similar landscapes in a similar time period, yet the look and feel-- the style-- of each is completely different.

"The Searchers" opens lush, romantic, folksy, stodgy. The even more unforgettable opening to "The Big Country, by contrast, titles and music, is sleek, clean, modern-- romantic and lush at the same time but in a much different way. We're looking at, and hearing, two different styles of painting.

Note the incredible opening titles to my next "Best" movie selection, #7, coming up shortly. . . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The John Wayne Factor

When encountering "best" all-time film selections of distinguished critics and writers, one bumps into the curious presence of actor John Wayne in so many choices. This is particularly the case with wimpy-minded liberals like Peter Bogdonovich, Jonathan Lethem, and Joan Didion. Put a John Wayne movie before them and their liberalism vanishes. The moment "The Duke" appears on screen they begin bawling. It's a psychological phenomenon which has little to do with the actual movie. I call it connecting with their Inner John Wayne.
Of all John Wayne movies, "The Searchers" is the most lauded. Notice the gushings about Wayne's "obsessed" performance (Wayne glares to convey obsession); how "racist" it is, as if it were a radical departure, strongly against type.

Yet in the movie-- as opposed to the many essays about it-- John Wayne is clearly meant to be the hero of the story. His actions as strong man are conveyed as necessary to the survival of the community-- akin to the similar role in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," or his earlier part in "Stagecoach," where he freely shoots Indians. Duh! I suspect the film critics are viewing a different movie and different John Wayne from that seen by 1950's audiences.
John Wayne's strength as an actor came from the way he moved. Give him too much dialogue and his performance becomes embarrassing. (See "The Alamo.") He was an icon, but far from the greatest American film actor. All one has to do is compare his performances with what truly great actors like William Holden and Robert Ryan do with a few phrases in "The Wild Bunch." Each has some of the most memorable lines in American cinema. (Ryan: "We're chasing MEN, and I wish to God I were with them.") Their voices convey universes of meaning.

"The Searchers" has its strengths. The shot placements and technicolor photography blaze in the memory. It's also meandering, silly (Natalie Wood made-up like a pop movie queen), unbearably corny and at times boring. It's a nice folk tale-- its value in the way it preserves, or really, recaptures, the pioneer mindset; racism, hokiness, and all. A good movie, yes, but nowhere near the apex of great films. "The Wild Bunch"-- which did not make my list-- for one is many times better.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Eight: "The Adventures of Robin Hood"


A storybook adventure come to life; flawless in every detail with spectacular sets and color and a wonderful Korngold score. Gorgeous and romantic, the movie builds to a thrilling climax which includes an unbelievably athletic sword fight between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, and the rescue of ridiculously beautiful Maid Marian played by Olivia DeHavilland. Am I being hyperbolic? The film deserves it.

Flynn in the lead role is dynamic not just in his actions but in his acting: the passion he puts into his speeches; as rousing in commitment to right and truth as any words ever filmed. Which distinguishes this photoplay from mere storybook-- its clash of rich and poor; the struggle against unmediated power, resonates today. This movie is not a dead object, but living art.

The defining scene comes at the outset, when Robin Hood enters the Normans' castle to confront their nobles, who study the stranger with surprise and wonder. Insiders confront the Outsider from their highly-placed table. This sets the confronting motifs of Castle and Forest; Establishment and Underground. For those who exist on the margins, this remains powerful myth. The stark oppositions of society are presented with colorful, emotional power.

Until the relentless heartlessness of pure greed is ever halted, this film will remain a classic.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Art, Not Artiness

(Continued from another blog.)

When I said I would judge movies as art and experience, I didn't mean by this I would choose "art" movies (see European films), which often have little to do with true art.

True art keys into the rhythmns and patterns of nature and the universe and in so doing touches chords within our souls.

My most recent choice (#9: "The Guns of Navarone") does this beautifully. It has about it the mythic; the archetypal. Something is primal about the commandos' journey: They climb from the sea like a new species. Through many difficulties and betrayals they arrive inside a temple-- a sealed room containing secrets of the all-powerful gods, which is how the thundering two cannons appear. Then the heroes are cast suddenly back into the water, their adventure come full circle, the memory of it playing in their heads to be preserved and spoken about as myth.

Movies once functioned both as entertainment and as art. Most "entertainment" movies today come across as a series of hyperedited computer effects; manic video games or pointless violence. Knowledge of art has been lost. "Art" movies on the other hand are deliberately boring, closing themselves off from the nature of the art, which is first, bigness: big themes, patterns, characters, settings. The narrowness removes all possible effects on the moviegoer; all opportunity of challenging him. It's art become genteel: safe, domestic, and comfortable; the narcissistic emotions of the affluent. Little stories, little happenings, tiny tragedies. ("The Queen" the first example which pops into my head.)

The divide in movies now between "art" and "entertainment" matches that we've suffered for forty years with our fiction and poetry.
The most blatant movie entertainment, such as the western, can be the vehicle for the greatest art. A film like "Shane"-- a haunting, almost perfect movie which should've made the list-- with its form and motifs, iconic good guys and bad guys, set against a backdrop of stark reality, is an art movie. It contains great depths: the hero's shooting of the villain at the end is the killing of his "William Wilson" mirror image; the other, darker half of himself; the crippling of himself, and so the hero rides off mangled, mortally wounded, representing the extermination of his kind, destruction of the wild.

The lesser-known western "The Bravados," with Gregory Peck, is art-- a masterpiece of structure; put together like a great chess game or a symphony. Study the opening minutes, the way opposing characters are introduced, enormous tension created, until the tension is suddenly released in the form of a hectic chase. Movement in cinema on the screen is also movement inside the mind. Here is a story playing out through the Peck character's mind. Fittingly, the chase arrives at his own ranch. The story after all isn't about chase or revenge, but himself. So workable is the movie AS ENTERTAINMENT that the key question about the character is never asked: Why his character's extreme pursuit of vengeance? What internal guilt is he wrestling with BEFORE the chase? The answer is visible in front of us almost from the start. (An "Attaboy!" to the first person who watches the movie and guesses the correct answer.)
I seek not artiness, but art. I moved the "Ten Best" movies series here because this blog is a reaction to artiness-- insufferable bourgeois artiness found from first page to back cover in a lit journal I received recently.
(#9: "The Guns of Navarone."
#10: "Zorba the Greek."
NEXT UP: #8.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Dream

Am I in a dream?

As America's crisis worsens-- moral and financial bankruptcy-- is there any reason to dream about a revived American society, revived culture, revived land?

Hell yes! In crisis comes opportunity-- a chance to give this madhouse of a country a good knock to get it back on track.

A journal sent to my old Philly address by one of the ULA's two major rivals finally caught up to me. I took it from my building mailbox after walking home through darkness, snow, and cold from my current job.

Night, strong northern wind assaulting the window of my room, I flipped through the journal's pages. How depressing! Nearly the entire volume written in word-clotted academia-speak. "N + 1," the thing's title. It stands for "Negativity Plus." Though the editors are the darlings of high literary society-- this culture's alleged best and brightest-- the picture they painted in their pages was one of unrelenting bleakness. No prospects, no hope-- according to them-- for any of us. They represented not the future of literature, but its end. The editors had retreated within a cocoon-like blockhouse surrounded by a moat; put up a white surrender flag and raised the drawbridge.

I was living in rather desperate circumstances in a desperate city, yet I didn't feel nearly as depressed as these fellows. In fact, the toughness I'd faced the last few months-- the last two years, really-- had strengthened my optimism. I was surviving everything thrown at me.

With the wind raging against the shaky window; with conflicting thoughts running through my head, I fell asleep.

I dropped into a happy, sunny day: an optimistic America kind of sunny. We as a nation were starting over at the beginning; given a fresh opportunity.

I saw to the side four young women; four colorfully dressed nerdy quirky girls with glasses. (I may have already seen them on Detroit's streets.)

They were:
-A pale white girl with short black bangs.
-A black chick with jheri curls.
-A blonde, straight hair to shoulders.
-A kinky-haired redhead.

All were skinny and wore short skirts of stripes or polka dots or paisley; aqua and pink; yellow and black; orange and pale blue; purple and green. Their eyeglasses were of equally vibrant colors. A few young men joined them, wearing loud sportjackets, crazy ties, and porkpie hats, colors clashing every which way. Around this group expanded a cool bright glowing city, an eternally clean rushing blue river at the end of a plaza; as dream city's focal point: as life force. Birds, trees, calling voices, freshness-- no, the game wasn't over; not yet! It was beginning.

Since then I've been living inside the dream.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A One-Year Project.


I'm celebrating in advance the inaugeration of a new President one year from now. WHOEVER that is, it's worth a brief "Hurray!" before any disillusion to follow.

I'M ALSO, though, pointing the way toward a full renewal of the culture. For that as well I'm prematurely celebrating.

In the past, have I been too negative? Disturbed too many sinecured mandarin folks? Taken writers into dangerous territory? Here will be one place not to frown but to smile, because change is in place. Change is now. The tottering current system of literature is in collapse, better days ahead, accompanied by the fun and adventure which come WITH making change, renewing an art, discovering new talent and announcing that fact, which is my task.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


What is this site?
How did I get here?