Thursday, March 29, 2007

wine notes...

normally, we try to eat as much locally grown food as possible by shopping at local farmer's markets, supporting local co-op grocery stores, etc.; we believe that the only way to truly know what is in your food, and the only way to get the most actual nutrition out of it, is to buy fresh, local, organic produce whenever possible. you also support real humans doing work feeding their community rather than giant factory farms that yield sub par, tasteless, nutrient deficient, genetically modified trash, caring only for the bottom line of the shareholders and boardroom. it is a fact that small scale organic farming is an all around better way to grow food (and it also builds community bonds, the exact antidote to the type of ill-informed divisiveness that infects our country these days, as well as destroying the deadly paradigm of an oil-based food system that could fail with the slightest prodding from some external socio-political catastrophe). it is also good for wine.

there are not many organic Bordeaux wines, and the big business of Bordeaux wine sales is always a nagging problem with me (even though the wines are unreal when compared to most other wines; the terroir can't be beat). there are some, though many of those small scale vineyards that take into consideration bio-dynamic/organic farming do not have worldwide distribution systems (which is really how it should be), and are sadly unavailable here in the stinking goddamn south. so unless you do research, you cannot know the techniques involved at any given vineyard. it is one of the reasons I look into both my food and my wines in depth (hell, and my government for that matter). a variety of sources, all carefully researched and verified, then assembled into a larger picture is the only way to get at what's true. any time you take one source at its word, you are doing yourself a tragic disservice.

there is rampant use of pesticides and fungicides in not only wine, but the entire food system worldwide, and no FDA, bought and sold and run by industry insiders, will ever tell you exactly what is in everything you consume. there are many reasons for doing research into the shit we put into our bodies, just like there are many reasons for keeping informed about the corpocracy that runs this country, just like there are reasons to be aware of the many ways people are brainwashed every day by television, by careerist pundits, by those with a deep self-interest or hidden agenda; to be alert to the myriad ways misguided humans savage each other out of either malice or stupidity. and even though most of those reasons are considered out of our own self interest, they also insure that facts and education are the basis for our decisions rather than ignorant hatred or propagandistic lies and egotistical spin.

one would think that we are all just trying to live our lives with some measure of quiet, some measure of peace, and there are a few of us who are also trying to understand what it means to be a human, trying to grasp a bit of that magical essence, glimpse the mysterious workings of the soul. it is important to try and discover what higher things people are capable of. sometimes even simple expressions like a good organic tomato in the middle of summer, right from the hand of the farmer who grew it, like a well-made wine, like a small act of charity, can be like a short poem: a succint revelation about humanity's potential greatness. they show that some people can rise above the animal within and are trying to advance the human spirit, trying to move forward to some place where meaning infuses every action, where everything matters: how you spend your time, where you put your energy, what you do with your life, with your mind, with your hands. each life can be a work of art and it is up to each of us to decide if we will leave behind something beautiful or a shit-smeared canvas.

but I digress. sometimes the grocery store is a necessity, and when I was there recently I found an organic wine in the racks, a Chateau d'Estoublon. this was a 2003, from Les Baux de Provence. I wasn't familiar with either, so I bought a bottle. I enjoyed the hell out of it and its blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and cabernet sauvignon grapes. black pepper, cherries and spice with a bit of earth on the dry finish. tasty stuff, and a surprising reward for having to do some of the shopping at the fucking grocery store.

I also bought a bottle of organic Lolonis Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon since I was there. this is a solid wine, oak and black fruits, barely noticable tannins, a good domestic wine from the west coast at a good price.

anyway, life's too short to spend it drinking piss-lite beer or being poorly informed, and it's damn sure too short to spend it working at less than art in everything. it is up to us to decide what's important and where the meaning lies...

Friday, March 23, 2007

chap o' the quarter...

I just got my copies of the Bottle of Smoke Press Chapbook of the Quarter Club pressing of my mini-chap An Essential Misery, and it looks great. Bill Roberts is a master of the letterpress arts, and everyone should head over and sign up for the Chap o' the Quarter Club, which gets you four mini-chapbooks over the course of a year by damn fine small press writers (well, not me, obviously, I dunno how I slipped into the lineup) unavailable anywhere else, and only by subscription to the Co'T 1/4 Club. this little book won't be available for separate purchase, so I hope everyone supports the small press by picking up a subscription to four great mini-chaps from Bottle of Smoke Press.

the cover...

a teaser...

its backside...

go, buy, support...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

fragile beauty...

yesterday was cynthia's eighteenth birthday (I purchased her when she was one from a small Ukranian family for two goats and a bottle of good vodka ), so we went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to check out some of the glasswork of local resident Frabel, whose fantastic sculptures were scattered throughout the grounds. his orchids were indistinguishable from the actual flowers, and he also had some other very interesting pieces (these top two were in glass cases). cynthia took some photos with her pinhole camera and I thought I'd post a few (click to enlarge):

these figures are surreal:

this is a Dale Chihuly chandelier that was purchased from an exhibit and donated to the Garden:

and we were treated to a complex song from a mockingbird atop a Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture:

a poem from Animal Life to accompany it:

seen thru rubies

you have to assert your will
to be alive.

you have to make it known that
you will not be satisfied
standing in line with the others.

you have to
see where the mockingbird sits
in the setting sun.

there is style and wonder
there is music
when you
wake and know that

struggle be damned


then we splurged on a birthday bottle of our current favorite wine, the Ducru, which has so far cost us all the baby's formula money as well as all the coins I could find between the cushions on our second hand couch (genuine leatherette). I thought I was going to have to go into the city and beg for spare change from some of those pretentious, elitest, liberal intellectuals you find there, but my government check came, so we're alright for now, thanks.

so, a toast, to the best thing in my life, seventeen years running. happy birthday, cyn.

a short short...

Water Glass

He sat there thinking about cold fruit as the sun was coming up. He thought about a plate of cold fruit. It was almost dawn. He sat in a chair next to the window where he could watch the black turn blue. His mouth was dry and he wanted something. The television nearby was tuned to a news channel with the sound down. He sat in his chair with the house quiet all around him. There was only the flickering t.v. and the dawn.

He thought most about cold, white, seedless grapes. He used to put them on a glass plate and put the plate in the freezer until the grapes were not quite frozen. They would turn pale and frosted, but the insides would stay soft enough to bite through. He thought about all the times he’d had those frozen white grapes, the good times when he’d eaten them. He remembered all kinds of good times, most of them careworn and weathered like old photographs. Times change, he thought. People get lost. And sometimes people forget. It was pretty simple. Then, he thought about cold Granny Smith apples, sliced and dipped in peanut butter. Chilled plums, waxy and purple. Frozen blueberries on cold cereal with milk. Strawberries with whipped cream. It was almost wishing, there by the television alone. He had water in the fridge, and he thought, some cheese, maybe a few condiments. He knew there was nothing else.

He watched the room get lighter as the day began. He could hear kids walking to the school bus stop outside. If he turned his head, he could see them walking up the street in a little huddle. If he turned his head, he could watch the sun rise. The news, all of it, everything was relentless as he sat there thinking about cold fruit. Things were never easy, he figured. The truly beautiful things like moments of quiet bathed in the blue white dawn, like everyone’s kids walking slowly in the half-light. Truly beautiful things were simple and attainable, but never easy.

He got up from the chair for a glass of water and stubbed his toe, hard, on the edge of the coffee table.

“Shit,” he said. His voice sounded very loud in the empty house.

He got his glass of water and sat back down, rubbing his toe. Someone was blowing their car horn outside. He listened to the sound. It was the only sound anywhere. He rubbed his big toe. He had forgotten about the plate of cold fruit.

The t.v. picture shook. The horn stopped blowing. Things like this were never easy.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

some fine local music...

here in Atlanta some local freaks have formed a loose, late-sixties/early seventies Miles Davis-type unit that fuses shades of Fender Rhodes driven electronic music with instruments played by strange living creatures, giving birth to a funky, percussive, open-ended sound that stretches out into the ether. horn and guitar float airy lead passages over the tight rhythm section that drives the sound and explores the mysterious surfaces of the music's scant framework. they take a theme, much like Mile's style in his later "directions in music," and move around it, expanding, condensing, reshuffling and interpreting it as they go. the drums and bass mix with the swirling fog of electric piano, the flute stirs the soup, altered and twisted slightly with reverb and delay, as sharp skronky notes scattered from sax and trumpet dot the dark expanse of musical space like small explosions. the core of the group consists of just two guys but they enlist a revolving cadre of instrument wielding entities to flesh out their musical flights into inner as well as outer space.

you can read an interview with Mathis 'Smoofus' Hunter of the Noot and you can head over to the Noot's Myspace page and hear some tunes; check out "House of Light" and "Fire King" in particular. I'm not normally a fan of so-called "electronic" music, but the Noot is a very interesting combination of influences that find a pretty unique expression in a musical landscape fraught with bottomless pits of vapidity and plauged with a commercial sickness that destroys everything it touches. these guys play because they are searching for a sound, and enjoying the ride.

if anyone wants a copy of their "Live at the Beep Beep" or the "Goofer Dust Mixtape" let me know and I'll put one in the mail.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

lit update...

just had two poems taken ("the ride" and "blow wind blow") for the Poems For All series, they'll be #'s 741 and 742.

also had a poem taken by Quercus Review recently ("riding horses thru shallow water") which will appear in the forthcoming issue featuring a long section on the Guerilla Poetics Project.

forgot to post that I will have a couple of poems ("and the comet, and the moon" and "blue mouse") in Kaveh Akbar's great literary edition of The Quirk.

lastly, I will have my sunnyoutside book Flowers In The Shadow Of The Storm at the first of next week. the book is being bound, the letter pressed covers are finished, the fine paper of the guts have been printed, and the beast should ship on friday; then I'll paint the covers (one week's work probably), then you can buy one. easy. I'll post more when they are "officially" available from David.

UPDATE: turns out the measurements for the covers vs what the binder required was off by a red hair, and now poor David at sunnyoutside is going to have to reprint the letter pressed covers after reordering the fine grey textured cover stock and then resend the thing to the binder. so, put your drawers back on, it'll be a bit longer on this wonder of a book. more later, and all of you who've sent excited emails, I appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the GPP works, kids...

Hosho sent me this and also this. pretty cool, but even better is that the GPP is reaching people on exactly the level we'd hoped. it doesn't have to be my poem, it could just as easily have been Hosh's or Bill Taylor's broadside or C. Allen Rearick's because the GPP Broadsides are all little works of art with great poetry that well represents the indy press/small press.

I find it interesting that this broadside finder felt the metaphor of the poem was strong enough to include in the list of quotations. I'm just a translator/antennae for the strange energies of the universe, for the music we all hear sometimes. I am always amazed at the power of the poem to reach thru all the bullshit and really hit home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

more posts...

decided to start posting more frequently, with lit news, wine notes, and more poems and the occasional short story as I'm getting back into the form. with that said, here is a story that some of you may have read, but it's been tightened up and I think more focused on the metaphors involved.

hope you enjoy the read:

Things Are Gonna Be Fine

They say at a freshly wiped table in the non-smoking section of the restaurant. The dim light of the place shone in the faint wetness, the swirls from the rag still visible. She pulled a napkin from the silver holder at the wall end of the table and dried the area directly in front of her. She wiped in small circles that spiraled slowly outwards, reaching to the edge of the wood and then halfway across, almost to where he sat with his arms folded on the damp top. He appeared to not care about the thin oily film. His bare arms sat there in it. His eyes roamed over the rest of the patrons seated near them. Two couples, in the smoking area one aisle over, their cigarettes glowing, their chatter rising like smoke, waited on their food to arrive. One man sitting by himself in a booth by the window, staring. A group of girlfriends laughing. He didn’t really care, he was only acknowledging the space they filled. He looked at her. She’d finished her maintenance. He watched her wad the used paper into a tight ball and plop it down on the aisle end of the table. Their eyes met and then moved to the menus. They hadn’t been out to eat in a long time. He thought that eating out was always the same, the wiping of the table, the people, the silences. He saw it as a sometimes necessary evil; sometimes he thought they needed the vague comfort of stranger’s lives. They looked at their menus.

The waiter came up and took their drink order and went away. Waiters were never really there, he thought, waiting for his beer. She opened a local astrological newspaper that she’d grabbed on the way in and flipped the pages. A candle sat on each table, flickering against the walls, casting patterns on the dark ceiling. Their candle wasn’t lit so he took out a book of matches, struck one and dropped it on the wick. It flared and hissed on top of the wax, but the wick didn’t catch. He put the matches away.

The drinks came, and the waiter asked if they were ready. She folded the paper and slid it to the side, then said, “I’ll have the, um, the veggie burger with swiss, fries for my side item, and could you bring me a bit of your salsa as well?” The waiter noted it in his pad.

“And you sir?”

“I’ll take the same.”

He wasn’t picky. He hadn’t even read the menu. He handed it back to the waiter who was looking over the rest of his tables, scanning for his next mission, the next empty water glass. She slid the paper back in front of her and continued flipping thru the pages. He watched her for a moment then looked out the window where the trees were bending and leaves flew in the wind. Another storm coming, he thought, but didn’t say aloud. It was quiet at the table, in contrast to the room. A t.v. glowed above the bar where people sat one stool apart and stared, drinking endless drinks. Next to the television hung a framed black and white picture of a nude woman sitting on a white rug. He didn’t recognize her. He looked away and back to the girl. He ran his tongue over the teeth inside his mouth. His stomach growled. He was hungry.

A cop walked thru the front door and brushed past their table. He went into the kitchen and stood talking to the bartender. He watched the cop thru the little service window. The cop laughed and touched the girl on her arm. She smiled, and walked away from him, back towards the bar. He looked around, studying the kitchen area intently. The girl came back with a cup of coffee and handed it to the tall cop. They talked for a few more seconds, but she kept looking back to the bar. He eventually walked out of the kitchen and past the table again, out the door into the wind with his coffee.

She drew his attention back to the paper.

“You should do this,” she said, pointing to something.


“I said, you should do this.” Pointing.

“Let me see it.”

She turned the page around so he could read. It was an ad for teeth whitening, a coupon for a free bleaching with the purchase of a full cleaning somewhere.

“You know, they can also take out those mercury fillings people used when we were younger. Those things cause cancer. Now they replace them with some kind of porcelain mixture, I think, and it’s supposed to be better for you.” She opened her mouth wide so he could see. There were dark silver fillings in her back teeth. Mercury, he guessed.

“I don’t have any fillings,” he told her. She closed her mouth.

“No, I was showing you this ad so you could get your teeth whitened. Don’t you want that? Whiter teeth?”

“I don’t really care. It’s pretty expensive, I mean, with the cleaning and all, right?”

He didn’t think they had the money. They were eating out after all. What else did she want? He was okay with his teeth. He didn’t need a big pearly smile; that was for strippers or models, or actors or something. Anyway, he had been feeling like all of his teeth were coming loose for a while now, but he hadn’t told anyone. He didn’t tell her now. He ran his tongue around his mouth again, pressing each tooth firmly with the tip, testing. Each one felt just the slightest bit loose. So slight that he wasn’t even sure.

“Well, I want you to do it. Your teeth are pretty yellow.” She paused. “And we’ll have plenty of money soon, so that won’t be an issue.”

He stopped messing with his teeth. She went on.

“When we have money, I’m gonna have a bunch of stuff done.” She crossed her arms on her side of the table, her eyes narrowing, vanishing into the distance. “My teeth, I’m gonna get braces, then get em whitened. Then I’m gonna get a little lift, and maybe a few other things.”

“You know, you’re only twenty-seven.”

“I know, but I feel so much older.”

The food came, and she folded the paper and put it down. They ate in silence, thinking about whiter teeth and money. The burger was good and hot, and the fries were crisp and greasy. He ordered another beer before the waiter could disappear, then drained the last of the first. As he chewed, the rain began to come down in scattered bursts.

“You know, white teeth matter.” Her eyes were still far away.

He kept chewing. The bending trees beyond the window were lemon yellow in the sodium lamps. A bell rang insistently somewhere in the kitchen. He wasn’t sure about anything. He swallowed what he was chewing and waited on the bill.

Monday, March 12, 2007

wine notes...

goddamn heat building here in the dismal south. the bugs are already getting ugly outside, pounding miserably against the window panes, searching for a way into the dim recourse afforded by the thin walls of the Compound. so we combat the onrushing misery of summer, and celebrate the temporary glory of a southern spring, the cherry blossoms and magnolias blooming, the sudden explosions of color to be found everywhere, we celebrate with a few bottles of good wine.

right now (yes, right now) I'm drinking a 2001 Carruades de Lafite (Pauillac), the second wine from Chateau Lafite Rothschild, one of the legendary first growths (and its first wine is one of the most expensive). the Carruades is an affordable version of its big brother, and the 2001 is a nice ruby color with pink rim, sweet cherry, currants and raspberries on the palate with a nice balance of jammy fruit and edgy tannins. I like it quite a bit, the mouthful I just tasted had some wood and leather along with the raspberry jam.

last night we had a bottle of 2001 Chateau Troplong Mondot (St. Emilion), a Grand Cru. this wine, for all its Merlot grapes and new oak aging, was really delicious. liqorice and pencil lead, caramel and flowers, this opaque purple/black beauty was full of black fruits, hints of vanilla and toast. it is priced slightly above the Carruades, but I think the Carruades was a bit fuller with more depth (cynthia disagrees).

finally, don't ever buy any Chateau Lalande; the first bottle I bought (then returned) had mold growing on the cork, and the second, mold-free bottle tasted like rubber tires and sweat socks smell. avoid.

here's some goddamn music.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

the quirk...

who the fuck is "Kaveh Akbar" anyway and how does this punk kid get all these badass writers and artists in his little zine?

someone should call someone.

our old clothes are in the wash...

got tired of looking at light text on a dark background, was making my eyes go all crazy...

Friday, March 09, 2007

a cool tribute to miles from Airto...

of course, Airto Moreira played percussion during the Bitches Brew era Miles and on until Miles frizzed out in the early Seventies...