Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dateline Aurora, Texas, 1897:

This was the year of the "great airship" reports in the United States. Many sightings were recorded, especially in the Southwest.

"About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country. It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward the earth."

The space ship crashed into a windmill, bursting into pieces. As the debris was searched through, the body of a small alien was discovered. The alien pilot was dubbed the "Martian pilot."

It’s another love story about how opposites find each other
how a race of aliens had the spirit of adventure, scientific curiosity and technical advancement to journey across billions of light years & conquer time itself
only to crash and burn against the rustic charm of a windmill in a little Texas town in 1897 and commit the cosmic crime of ruining Judge Proctor’s garden
Don Quixote could have told them about windmills.

But you have to wonder if The Intergalactic Bureau of Planetary Sampling had evolved past any and all sense of irony, and what it would think
about the "Christian Burial" the townspeople gave the body which they said was " not of this world". They just wanted to put it all
behind them, threw the wreckage down a well, buried the body under a single stone, who can blame them

to be looking out the window at the weather and plants, the land and spaces you have struggled with and grown to love for 30 to 60 years, and to be jolted into an awareness that it could all be just a dance on the head of a pin or a blip on some time traveler’s radar

who needs it? To see the little lizard like fingers, the huge snake like eyes, to know it could all be one nature, one present time, one presence capable of producing innumerable separate but equal intelligences from amoeba to ant to alien

they remembered the Alamo, forgot those little creatures beyond good & evil, beyond anybody they could identify with, & therefore beyond rage, especially beyond the comfortable lostness of that little town in whose empty skies many time travelers to come would crash and burn, fall to earth, be buried and forgotten.

Scritch scritch Pen flies across the page
words fall from 20,000 feet
justification of borders
the previous page is in shadow
history only begins after you’re attacked
the economic imperative
the communist threat
our interests abroad

ring ring telephone rings calling
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Mylai, Lebanon,
Chile, Guatemala, Panama,
supporting democracy
depleted uranium
agent orange
our val yous
our civil
it’s not terrorism it’s self defense
it’s not torture it’s hazing

tweeeeeeet! laser jet drops white phosphorous
on a Moebius strip
chain reactions of violence
axis of evil
climate change is bad science
situational awareness
consequence management

roar roar word is flying at mach 8
why are we cheering is it a coronation?
software generated paper trail proves
election results
the School Of The Americas changes its name
personhood & 1st. Amendment rights
for corporations
free enterprise relaxation of restrictions
on merger & media ownership
threat matrix
modeling fear

smack smack offset kisses the page
with vested interests
legal fictions
duties to money
and other abstractions
form and splinter
and again

whoosh whoosh air brush makes an image
billions kneel, history remembers
but crowds forget
how the glory of god was used
for the glory of man
all you need is enough people
poor enough to need
to believe and then
any image will do

soundlessly invisibly broadband
flies across the screen at the speed of light
crowds cheer, individuals run and hide
why are they cheering, what is it
a coronation, a war beginning, a war
people in trench coats with quietly smouldering
attitudes look thru quietly smouldering ruins
endlessly examining dead bodies for signs of life

drrrrrr drrrrrr drrrrrr
ink jet sprays the page with 50 caliber letters
dumping dead words in a basket
for the president to read aloud
like he was reading them aloud
the rationale is always
we’re being attacked
especially by an enemy too far away
to know well enough
to hate

moebius banality bomblets explode
and create other bomblets
multiply by exponents and compound interests
feedback loops accelerate at mach 8
too late
really bad analogies multiply
Iraq is WW II bush is FDR Osama call your mama
cause your mama is Hitler no bid contracts
are free enterprise hello mustapha we're the heroes
you ordered from the U.S. government
and we're here to help you

printer raps out lines across the sand
word is thing
map is territory
all propositions are true
Ding An Sich is a priori history
in the new word order
the right of return has been rescinded
all attempts at subversion of this ordinance
will be considered
acts of treason

Thursday, December 28, 2006


to people I thought to know

1. hey mist
er zimmer
man behind the sun
glasses hard to believe
that was me
getting tear gassed in DC or that was you
who wasn’t there guess you
didn’t care don’t know what
we’d have done
without you you
said you had things to do
(smirk, giggle) the face of America cracking
apart and darkness flooding
in where have you been
my darlin young man
after the hard rain
of drugs all the words
are empty now without common
ground songs go
round and round if it was just
about sound John Cage
wd really
be profound that’s ok
you didn’t owe
us anything what do we owe where do we go
to pay
the myth of mass the myth of fame
gotta play
the game what’s
in a name you said
you were just trying to get home
at a time when everybody
was trying to get home with drugs
ideals bombs
in their brains trains
of thought fraught
like everybody’s car wreck
of a family when home
was being ripped apart
by the war the traffic the need
for something home never was the paint
and tinsel left on it from the fifties looking
faded and sad the reporters frantic
with a feeling of loss and
betrayal they couldn’t articulate
"Do you have any feeling for the songs
you sing?"
"Do you believe in anything?" "You got
a lotta nerve." you said to their words but not
the tune and so soon
gone, no one ever really there
or aware like tagalong St. Joan all alone
her hand your foot
rest best
you could do in love
with who must be
you cause nobody else was
there we all died
the little room where
you said something
was happening but now it feels
like looking back over notes
from the acid trip more and more
you were leaving us---the way so many
were leaving so smug
and easy the way
Tim Leary left us with gobbledegook
explanations of why he turned his friends in
to the FBI—leaving us with a loss
of intimacy suitcase
full of words and
drugs and Jesus and
abstractions savaging
your characters
become singsong right or
wrong cartoon
hands reaching out and
missing each other
wrapped around the silence
and darkness of the time
and connected to
not much of
anything you say you're just
trying to get home shit
I dunno Bob, you're the success I'm
the failure, but maybe you could try
just being here
with other people

2. Robert Creeley
at the service for you
we seemed somehow
embarrassed like Degaul’s wives &
lovers meeting for the first time at the funeral....SOOO
said the same thing to you too, huh? Not to mention
the embarrassment of suddenly discovering
we also are/have different conflicted selves and how
do we put anything together now? The image of you
taking a leak at the urinal with a sheaf of some poems
somebody shoved at you after the reading
stuffed in the urinal next to you montage that
to the kindly old man going over the urologists’
instructions on how to take a leak & not leak.
What self? I kept asking in the discussion,
and later saw the poem you wrote about your hands
being separate selves. "The kissey huggey thing"
you said was "just awful" As if on cue
Paul Blackburn’s editor & girl Friday
said what did I spend all this time with Paul for
in the service of his poetry and Robert Creeley
treated him so badly and that changed later but
they were both so chauvinistic
and I found them both incredibly sexy and
I came to bury Robert Creeley not to praise him.
And she walked out.
Yes, I thought if there ever was a time this is it to
just get it all OUT.
At the end
we do have just so many shapes & shades of
nothing and that’s
the story but look
(I kept telling you) at our dramatic
characters the SCENE the SILENCE
how their ignorance says more than
their words, but you said I think it’s a good idea
to be as bright as you can at all times, o for god’s
sake of course it’s a GREAT
idea that’s the
problem but don’t you understand
we’re all INSANE? I remember Gil Sorrentino
in the sixties talking about writing, saying over
and over, "It’s not a NATURAL act!" but just take the damn
words away because that’s more than half
the confusion and look at that scenic background ignorance like
it was the dark forest primeval around
a herd of elephants
I remember
standing around a dead patriarch
a young bull
the corpse making
pelvic thrusts as if to say
so long you
free at last you
sonofabitch I
love you

3. (me) getting out of an old
art car into a relatively
new pickup even if
logic & environmental politics and
the need to breathe
clean air led you
to it can give a person
identity problems it
had been weeks of
asking how do I
sustain this deserve it use
it keep from wrecking
it and or being
more of a total
asshole than I
usually am with my sudden
good fortune one day
I drove
into a filling station and met
a short fat man & a tall
skinny woman in an old
Ford pickup they were
broke & I gave them a
ride to get their flat tire
fixed & drove
away wondering
how they survived rattling
around the desert picking up
herbs and selling them how
they found each other & how
I found them
she gave me a bundle of sage
months later it still sits
on the dash saying
I hear
you were wondering
who you are
you silly man

4. (Letter sent to info@leonardpeltier (.org) 9/24/05)
I have followed Leonard Peltier's story for many years, with concern, but as a poor person, there is very little I can do. There are so many emergencies, personal, national and global, sometimes I just don't know where to turn my attention.
But I did write the poem below for him, a year or two ago, and it just lies around, and I pick it up now and then and say,
"What did you write this for, Dennis, to hear yourself talk, or to try to bear witness to injustice, or to talk to Leonard Peltier?"
The answer is, I suppose, all three, and to the extent it was meant as an attempt to communicate to Leonard, I suppose it's time to try to send it to him....and then if the message still can't get through, for whatever reason, at least it won't be because I didn't send it.
Like it says in the poem, I'm sorry, it's the best I can do.

For Leonard Peltier In Prison

Listening to both sides is to hear
the basic solitude
of human communication.
2 FBI agents died for it at Wounded Knee II.
You and Robert Wilson were framed for it.
And a pathological liar
and sex addict who happened to be president
got a lot of money from a crooked fugitive financier to
pardon him instead of you, and so
the money and the motives go
to the loss of history and the
constitution and the rights
go, it
stops the mind
Chief Seattle didn’t understand
that The White Man doesn’t understand
"the dreams of The White Man"
like a blizzard on a mountain, it
stops the mind
to walk the battlefield at Wounded Knee,
December 29, 1890 or
Spring of ‘73 or New York City in 2004
and look at the death
in the faces and not wonder was this the
best we could do? It
stops the mind..
You said your crime was being proud
of being Indian. I think pride is
a dead man
we carry on our backs on a Trail
Of Tears to here
and now, we set him down
and become painfully small
too small for the enemy to see
thru his pride, small enough
to be whole as part
of the intelligence
of nature; but I could never tell you
to set anything down, or to learn
to eat the bitterness of your life behind bars
even if it was the taste of life itself, except for
the children....
The problem is how to say anything at all,
to anybody but especially to the children, how to
tell them how to
see ourselves as nature, beyond cruelty and
(but never give up on)
kindness, tell them
how hard
life will be without
scaring them to death and
how we somehow
out all this incoherent
cruelty called
we could do, it
stops the mind
from birth we go
outward like
rivers to find beauty
in ugly
to become
the world that doesn’t want to come
together so treasure
DISTANCE (where the
constitution and the rights
go) and that’s all
the justice we can afford right now
for now, best
we could do, it
stops the mind
for now and for now and
for now, I try to
pray by touching
a stone a tree
branch, if the water that remembers
nothing of the
best we could do
in a lifetime if the
wind that has already
forgotten I ever had
a face can carve the big
mountain, if so much nothing can be
for now if
the leaves and
dirt underfoot are my body, if
someday the big house falls
in the big time if the big
moment can see the
little ones
maybe I
move on
No-Road Trip
do this hundreds of times
and take all the wrecks to a junkyard
where they sit and return to the earth
under distant mountains
the skies changing forever with their message
that is no message....
after a bad day when nothing gets done
sit in the driver’s seat of one of these
and drive in peace for a change
things going by so fast they’re standing still
take a slug from the empty bottle of cognac
on the floor
the turbocharged Daytona whines on into the nite
of little towns with anonymous little lives
the nite is full of eyes and signs and
sirens people dying people being born
freeways, cities deserts, mountains
break open the NO DOZ
We needed to feel like we were going somewhere,
now we got too much satisfaction.....
SLEEEEEPPPPYYYYY!!!! bang on the steering wheel
bite your lip, clench your jaw
pound the floor SCREAM!
No use! Pull over! We’re not
getting anywhere. Here comes the darkness
in a cop uniform. Where the hell’s my ID? Here
we go again.

5. hello me again, awake
this morning at 3 AM
my big empty so called
mind echoing
who else have I offended by saying
too much failed by saying
too little or not just exactly
right how can I have so
little power and intelligence and feel so
responsible does the night
what am I
afraid of that the darkness
will remember
too much or
nothing now there’s
out there just
the sound of the traffic the roar
of some distant relentless surf
flood forest fire swarm
of insects
no cop
to stop
it no
compassion no
direction just infinite
expansion LOGOS logic the word that
was always there making manifest by
MIMESIS love of
some invisible
community of
the future in
TELEOS the end
seeking in
telligence of
nature with
no language just
a mind
of its own

6. How I
got to be
I went to El Paso in 1956
for a high school
Future Farmers Of America
grass judging contest
and I saw Andy Griffith
he was in some little 1 or 2 man
putting on his pants, talking
to some guy in the play
some kind of timebomb
hit all of us
years went by
the bumper cars still went
round and round
but Andy left and went to
a place beyond sadness where old
actors go
and become sheriff of a small town
and always win
and we went back over
the old two lane highway
going over Guadaloupe Pass
the moon shone the stars
were so close you
couldn’t touch them but they
could touch you
and make you

7. hello mouth my
dentist sees crossing the border
there’s a dirty little triangular piece
of concrete and ground
beside a building where
like a premoniton of the beggars blind musicians street
peddlers and
whores to
follow there is
a young boy
in bronze
one foot on the ground the other flung back
school books flapping beside
mouth open face flung up and back
no inscription no artist credits no explanation
of what he is running from or to
the dentist asks if I’m nervous
I say yes
because your teeth grind at night he says as HE
grinds my teeth
to put buildup on them
my legs & arms sweat
he offers novocaine
I refuse I figure I’ve done too much
escaping and pain is one of the few
real things left he
grinds away laughing
at the face I make he makes
a nightguard for me shakes
hand looking right thru my
teeth to my dream self that lives in the same
impoverished country
he does I walk
back across the border feeling
nameless unimportant the guard
doesn’t even bother
questioning me
back in Tucson I ask the woman working
the juice bar why people
grind their teeth she says
it’s all the little things
we stuff and carry
what can you do about it I ask
the fat woman on my left says
prayer and meditation
points and says the left side of her teeth
is worn down from it I think
of all the things I could not and can not say
in relationships piling up until
they hang off me like books
I can’t read
for running in
the stress of life the substance of
human disagreement so
impossible to argue
it turns to
stone in our dreams and we
destroy our teeth trying
to eat it

8. hello young idealists seen
thru a dog's
life IT’S
for Toby to get to his food dish, these days, his back legs sway
from side to side independently like they belonged to another dog,
strange to think
he used to howl because he needed more space to walk and run in,
especially when I left the basement of the arts center you were rebuilding
and I used to avoid thinking what that meant about
what you meant about
sending me to the soup kitchen to pick up laborers
leaving them back on the street worse off
than when they started---you caught two of them
smoking grass and fired them but let Bernie the plumber live there hooked
on Heroin. At the party for him when he OD’d
you showed up in your motorcycle jacket and boots
hoping someone would ask so you could say
you used to race dirt bikes---
sending me to pick up some A/C units with a check lower
than the amount you agreed on with the seller, and said,
"Have fun."
leaving me to shore up the morale of the guys on the roof---when
I asked Roger why the workers were forced to bear the entrepreneurial burden
he quoted Kissinger’s "Economic Imperative" maybe not knowing
that was Henry’s rationale for imposing dictatorships and genocide
in Latin America---
while you schmoozed and dreamed
flouncing up and down the hall in your new suit
with shaving cuts on your face
getting ready to go to the city council
and tell them you were adding a cultural asset to the city...


O I kno you didn’t mean nothing
Nothing toward me or anybody really
You just had a great idea
And artists are just into themselves
And power brokers are all just a little twisted
And that’s just the way the game is played
And if luck had gone the other way
We coulda all had it made
But what you gotta understand is sometimes
The stupidity of the alpha males and alpha females
And leaders in general
Just gets really depressing
It’s the cognitive dissonance see
Between flying the flag of art
And really being about money and power
And between our genes telling us to follow
The pretty faces and powerful bodies
And what real wisdom would say

Toby sinks down on his haunches and waits for his strength to come back.
Shit hangs off his hair. I have to cut that out, I
tell myself…
I was the best sucker for the ideal within a fifty mile radius,
you said "International Art" and I saw the foment of NYC in the fifties,
Paris at the turn of the century, Italy in the Rennaissance,
glossed over the fact
of our Medicis ordering you to tear down my water sculpture
on the back wall by the alley
"Wrong place, wrong time" you said, but
I was sent to fix the roof drain and I fixed it and tested it
and it worked, bright splashes of water down the spills and switchbacks
"What a beautiful Rube Goldberg" a passerby said,
but April had a tantrum because things weren’t going exactly
as she pleased, "It won’t work" she said, as authoritatively
as Brother Green saying my A/C precoolers wouldn’t work
after they’d been working for years, and his daughter wouldn’t believe
anything I proposed would work until another A/C tech
verified it, and they always did,
"Maybe next year." Was your answer to everything
and I said, "Yeah, it’s Alice In Wonderland, ‘jam yesterday
and jam tomorrow but never jam today.’" And you said,
"I’ll get you some jam." But you were already being squeezed out
by Roger, and exiled to Kansas City---Cheeto, another adopted
dog tries to egg Toby on toward the food, Toby snaps at him but
can’t hurt him anymore---and Karen
threw my performance piece out of the pool and then didn’t use the pool
for anything, and the props decayed in the yard and the videographer
taped over the tape with a soap opera…like something like the evil
of banality was out there that hated
consciousness, that over & over got us to Auschwitz again by holding the ideal,
the flag of art and personal power,
in front of our faces. Any one of those "maybe next years"
the course, consciousness & resources of the center
could have been righted by an artists’ community advisory board
but that would have involved sharing power. You sued Roger and you both
punished US in the process
the sheriff’s truck drove up to seize equipment, we took down the police
tape and moved on dragging the baggage of your affair behind us
Toby still won’t go,
I grab his collar and pull him upright, walking, talking to you, "Thanks,
for leaving me with these decisions about what is kindness
in a situation like this?" Roger’s dad died, Roger had a nervous breakdown and
repeat migraines because of the overuse of over the counter remedies for
symptomatic relief, so he was laid up in bed and his friends came out,
fired Brother Green because he was a crook but he was a crook with money
(and he defended us from the other power mongers)
and they were pissed at Roger’s wife so they withdrew their financial support,
they didn’t talk to me, wanted me
not to talk to you, it all made sense as the same negative politics
we always had
Toby gets to his food dish and falls on his side
can’t quite make it up to reach over and eat,
vitamin C and Glucosamine helped for awhile,
but he is failing like the arts center---from your big deals and big
sculptures which, to me were just flag draped
hardons, we’ve gone to big holes and just listening
to the wind blow.---it’s called MUSE now but it should be called
USE because it’s about art as Utility, Decoration, History and Teaching Aids---
There is a famine here in the land of plenty
a certain poverty of the human spirit we have been trying to feed with junk
food, a brokenness in an embarrassment of riches we tried to fix
by tacking up old signs on our cultural shacks to serve as
doors and windows
Sometimes I wish Toby would die
and end his suffering, then I remind myself
it is me who is suffering
because I have an idea about how things ought to be
that he and others at the arts center don’t share
because now I know I let myself be played and used
for a cause because I have an emptiness inside
like gamblers, addicts, crooks, religious fanatics, unfaithful
lovers, and other dreamers.
I have to remember to be more realistic about
what kind of art can be real and done and remembered
without being sick from a dependency on money rampant
in this third world country where there is
dictatorship, terror and genocide, and always plenty of words
for the ideal, no words left
for atrocity and pain.


o I kno you didn’t mean nothing
nothing bad toward nobody
but sometimes you just get tired
of the willful stupidity of big shot leaders
the lies they tell themselves and others
their little boy bravado
covering their childish fear
and mostly you just get
tired of your own rage
that comes from fear
as they lead us bravely, stupidly
to our deaths

(this pome is under construction
more versus follows and other chorus
(of chorus))

Wednesday, December 27, 2006



(Letter to Charles Alexander, president of WAMO (warehouse artists’ management organization) & owner publisher of CHAX PRESS)

Chas: I have no damn idea in hell what I’m doing with this mess....trying to explain the unexplainable to myself I suppose. And you know if it’s of no use to you at all, the DELETE button is very easy & handy & I’m used to the great mass of what I write somehow turning into trash (sometimes overnite with the help of gnomes in my word perfect program (what an ironic title) and sometimes it may take a day or two but only after I send it out...occupational hazards without hazard pay I guess....let me apologize in advance therefore for my "unknown unknowns" as Rummy (not Rumi) wd have it...& let this be a rubber stamp apology for any future idiotic ramblings also, thanx)

(Or four letters tied together with baling wire, string & bubblegum & unanswerable questions.)
(First letter in re the Frag Meants project (a book of fragmented visual & verbal documentation of interrupted & publicly reviled performances, attempting to match the dislocations & disorientations incurred since the turn of the wheel & people living in more times & places than one, and somehow less than one) addressed to Chas:) It's about my plan to splatterpaint & shoot the noteboook covers of my book full of holes with a shotgun and 9 MM:

I fear I may have disappointed you and Cynthia with the progress so far on the covers, either that or my paranoia is in hyperdrive, or both (sometimes we CAN have it both ways). I fear I may be setting myself up to disappoint myself in trying to speak in the unfinished sentences Frag Meants proposes as my new prosody for the new century. Theories are easy, making them real is a constant approach, like traffic, washing dishes, or love. I do believe (except I can talk myself into anything) I’m just following the logic of the demands and boundaries I, or the piece itself, set up in the beginning & must accept the bitter or successful end as the case may be, because I’m committed (only occasionally like a mental patient) to process—that the benefits when it works outweigh the dangers of being safe by concentrating on product.

BUUUTTTT.....all methods have their fallacies. I was once told I wasn’t a real artist, just a trick artist because sometimes I depend on a mechanical randomization. But that’s not (& nothing will ever be) all. There’s also my perceived need to bring the actual object into a perceptual area we are used to seeing framed, under glass, in celluloid, behind the proscenium arch, in formaldehyde, varnished, distanced in other words. I believe there’s a survival level necessity to achieve that distance in the presence of the raw & painful & evanescent & ugly facts of our lives. This will fail, often (and frequently too) but it’s how we get up from that failure that defines us, not slurs I’ve incurred like being "a media pig" and seeking these methods for the controversy (it was the law & media that broke in on MY pieces not the other way around). I heard an art professor on NPR broad brushing Andres Serrano & Damien Hurst et al as attention seekers. I know Andres Serrano, in his journals, speaks of much more serious concerns than those & anyhow it’s the critic’s job to explicate & make the substance of a work available to us, not to get in a mosh pit and ego bash with the artist & the artist’s job is to ignore critical ad hominems (that say more about the critic than the artist) & just do his/her work....& my work is, in curious correspondence to this season, to be willing to be broken to descend into the inner darkness, the only place where we can see the light. The race is on. It’s WHAT I BELIEVE VS WHAT I CAN DO.

At first I liked the process theoretically, in my imagined result, then was disappointed with the real evidence, then was pleased because, yes, I said, this IS the way stuff happens, the way war and life and death "choose" the absences and interruptions and holes in the fabric of space, time & our lives, with the all too perfect (& horrible) beauty of random, tragic as it may be for us, personally—all experience having an absolute value regardless of how horrific— the raw wounds of the covers still resonate (or resignate as W wd say) for me with the way things happen like dreaming the dream or acting out the violence of the universe and trying to lead it to a more meaningful ending or one that can at least be seen from a distance while still being HERE.

I don’t have much time left and I need to get down to the raw, the crude, the ugly...because I need some real things to feel like I’ve been alive. I tell my Dentist no anesthetic, pain is one of the few real things I have left. In art I think somehow maybe I can repeat the raw object and real life until they set up a resonance—the way Faulkner makes mythic resonance by repeating stories from different people’s points of view. In an article about Paul Shock’s photo paintings I talk about the retreat of many young artists INTO concept FROM the tactile reality of formal considerations like paint, texture, color, form, foreground, background and FROM the touch & feel of life itself increasingly media provides more opportunities to be present to some other world without consequences, without touch in this one or that one, abstracted, CONCEPTUALIZED..And in the beginning of Abstract Expressionism Barnett & Newman issued a manifesto saying they were getting back to the picture plane because they wanted to destroy the illusion of depth beneath that plane, which wasn’t REAL enough for them....and then that kind of got put under glass & framed itself.....I think it’s just something the human mind does. Reality. Sorry can’t deal with it. Was just reading about Michael Heizer in the sixties who did giant cuts in mesa land where it was almost impossible to get to....the more remote the better (talk about not wanting anything to interfere with your IMAGE). And Robert Smithson (of "Spiral Jetty" fame) developed an esthetic I can only reach to....I once had this idea for a (kind of silent primal scream) language of objects and gestures, to which English is everybody’s second language...but it was less definitive than I hoped. Always there’s this excursion one way or another into reality....and eventually the realization we’re going there as tourists....our cameras our only real reality....big old loud shorts on....

cf: "ad bellum purificandum" (Toward the refinement of war) the dedication to Kenneth Burke’s A GRAMMAR OF MOTIVES, his premise we can never stop war but perhaps it can be refined into sports, debate, games, art etc. and we may never find ultimate truth but perhaps we can examine it by: MOTIVE/SCENE/CHARACTER/CONFLICT/ACTION/DENOUMENT to arrive at a dramatic definition of truth. "Just be glad to be there" and "there is no fight" Tai Chi sayings re conflict, and "War is art." an American General in Iraq—well after all the other crap we’ve accepted as performance art we might as well give him that, even if (as Bob Cauthorn’s old carp said "yeah but he was going there anyway." good ol’ Bob always ready to cop an attitude with the artist & refuse to look at the work itself (did that with Stella too DAMIT)). The main (if unanswerable) question to ponder is STILL: what kind of art? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Some other qualifier? How about Picasso’s Guernica (for me too far under glass) or Goya’s horrors of war "Saturn Eating His Children", not pretty nor should it be even in that certain darkness & distance it must achieve to satisfy the demands of its time. But that drear distance can’t satisfy the modern emergency of an idiot president, the redundant death & destruction in Iraq, South America, New Orleans, everywhere global warming & the long arm of business-as-usual REACHES. Over & over nothing can be said, banality is war, poverty is violence, even real people become actors, nothing suffices to break the hypnosis of the SCENE (& all its MISE ERRR RRREEE) for me except for someone to SMASH thru the fourth wall with an actual object in an actual object lesson. these same tokens...I come to the point I realize I need to work it out & not say it because no manifesto is ever going to cover the territory where the artistic process depends on the subconscious...that dark forbidden land where each self is locked into its own personal narrative, each ego fed according to the politics of the dream censor, each representative lost in its own representations. Meanwhile back at the word ranch, consciousness frames it all, puts it all under glass...the coverup is worse than the crime, as I, the incompetent stumblebum detective see it, abandoned & tormented by the perfection of other people’s beauty & having to search for my own version "under stones", as Olson sd, and to reinvent the wheel and make beauty for myself out of whole cloth, real life, general ugliness and nastiness----NOT yr best agenda for popularity unless you happen to fall into it like Tom Waits or William Burroughs among other artists for whom I carry no brief & yet somehow seem to always end up with in the same methodological jail cell. Damn!

Humiliating. If I were Garrison Keihlor (& he were a hippopotamus) I cd just eat rhubarb pie (instead of humble pie) with ketchup on it & that wd "take the taste of shame & humiliation right out of my mouth" & "the natural mellowing agents in ketchup" wd take care of the rest to thunderous applause & laughter. But being me I just have to make lemonade and keep on trying to sell it from a bunch of cardboard boxes on the street. Damn!

Perhaps with new "wadcutter" rounds and new colors and better stenciling and more covers to choose from there will be a more attractive appearance without deleting the message, equally perhaps NOT, but without that challenge what, I wonder, would be the point of the endeavor anyway. Or maybe because of the way it starts out it just has to end up a little ugly. The history of beauty has been we found it in ugly by teaching the mind the symmetry & mythic resonance of destruction ("do not weep, maiden, war is kind") but sometimes the damn thing just says empty & ugly—that’s why we have the word...but maybe we don’t really know ANYTHING at this point anyway, and that could be a GOOD thing, why would we want to know exactly where we’re going anyhow? Leave that kind of safety for "building safety" (See following letter).

Thanks for working with me on this and yes I will be inviting you and a friend or two of yours and/or mine to come out with us when I arrange a date to do the rest of the covers. And I’m going to have to abandon this attempt to avoid doing the work & buying the ammo by trying to put it all in a credo.


(Second letter in re warehouse eviction threat or:)


(Or contrary to what you may read in my letter to The Weekly:)

Below (in 3rd letter) is what I really said before the editor’s axe fell. Actually Jboegle’s allowed me to edit my own article down to a letter & then a shorter letter still, like a shorter & shorter rope with which to hang myself, (so kind he is), sd. He didn’t have space for my idea for a half or a quarter column where people send in quotes and/or brief statements from a weblink or blog and didn’t have the space for a guest article. I guess I need to BE THE CHANGE I WANT, and list weblinks & blogs including my own inseparable from the text of any public letters I write from now on.

It is increasingly impossible to get any story at all out to the media, including NPR, including Congress, nobody seems to know the latest research, political progress, or DIRENESS of the emergency on global warming (which I’ve been hollering about since ‘84), vote fraud, Iraq, all bereft simultaneously of history and new research. Mass hysterical denial prevails everywhere. But both letters & article are incomplete and don’t really formulate the question that drove me to try to speak, end on an empty note but life will take care of that I’m sure. DAMN!
I just wanted to continue the search for history (as mid east journalists, Robert Fisk, Paul Krugman et al are just commenting we’re in Iraq because we DON’T read history) as we plow ahead into the iceberg laden waters of The City’s cryogenic, utilitarian, decorative definition of art & culture. My questions are as the article and poem state, "Who Is The City?" and also what is the most advantageous/conscious relationship an artist or group of artists can have to said supposed entity/identity? I really don't know the answers, I just think, with respect to all that's gone before, it's important to ask that & related questions.

From the vast plain of history the moral high ground shifts color, shape and location like great wandering sand dunes according to how the lifht shifts daw to sunset and spring to autumn and how we pick the begin and end points. The begin point could be the time the O’odham incurred (to speak Orwellian) their presence here, or the time the conquistadores fed them beans, called them "bean eaters" & shoved them onto the Res, or the time The City started shoving the poor around and out of downtotwn in the 40s and 50s, or the 80s and the beginning of the attempted gentrification of Congress Street when I started out assuming artists COULD be citizen artists, COULD work with business and community, saw the wreckage of Congress Street, & saw the casualties of gentrification: The Moving Center, Dinnerware, The Huntington Trading Co., Café Magritte, Café Quebec, the demands of touristy crowds, forced removal from store windows of religious satire, & a barbed wire wrapped penis (which we must defend from the other penises out there regardless of merit) the flak I got for "feeding the homeless" & for my loudspeakers on the roof of the Rialto "interfering" with the rock bands (what if THEY were "interfering" with my piece?) then put heart & soul into the International Art Center, was disappointed to find the owners’ goals and motives were compromised, then The City betrayed us all. Yes the past is dead, but without history the present is just meat machinery. Yes I should take my own advice and just do art, and yet a question remains and disturbs my sleep. Maybe it can never be answered but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be asked now & then.

Speaking of history I had to laugh when I read that The City’s concern is that you "should be safe". What a doublespeak, Nazilike prehistoric line. They used that line on me and the house I built and on the Old Y so much....and what it mostly boils down to is THEY want to be safe from artists and eccentrics and outsiders–why else has the City’s AIR code (which I among others ASKED for) somehow turned out more stringent than regular housing? Anybody who wants to live differently, is considered a threat. In other towns they burn outsider artists’ houses down and put them in asylums so they’ll be "safe". Even structural engineering as I discovered, is only half a science. I had to get an engineer to "prove" my dome was "safe" and "strong enough". The engineer—interesting fellow, built the hyperbolic paraboloid concrete roofs (look like canvas draped over lots of poles) of Flowing Wells Elementary School & the shopping center at Swan/Broadway & a house in the foothills----said, "You realize this is all BS of course, you can’t prove the strength of an eggshell but you know it’s there. So I just put a bunch of numbers and equations down and put my stamp on them. Those people just want to cover their own asses." Ah it is indeed to laugh if only the world had not moved to (or has it always been at) some dark place beyond satire?

Where does it really begin? It disturbs me that artists have been treated so badly in the past often even by other artists put in charge of the state’s largess. I wish there was someplace where we could be safe from The City’s narrow code and prejudice bound definitions of safety and the safe life. I wish we could all move and BE MOVED somewhere where we could be safe from "those awful people"—except they ARE us, and there ARE no more safe places. And yet I would like to see artists in a position where they have enough equity WHEREVER they (as opposed to some self appointed social engineer) so choose, so that they don’t have to depend so much on The City’s version of equitable, and yet even equity is no guarantee of not having your property condemned anymore. The government can now seize through eminent domain any properties it deems would be more profitable if operated by the public instead of the individual owner. Outrageous as this new law is, property in major cities has been seized and litigation to challenge this and prevent further seizures is underway. Something about life in increasing population & consequent mass anxiety, has increasingly instigated assassinations & coups here & abroad and silenced the still small voice of individual conscience and consciousness that used to serve as a rudder for the ship of state. We are forced to deal not with a person or persons, but with a great mass of persons which speaks for no one and everyone (doesn’t even like itself very much, truth (if it cd ever) be told).

It seemed to me after twenty years of counting the bodies on Congress Street there was, as I said in my letter, no possible reconciliation between my values and the values of The City. And yet now you seem to be, no you ARE proving that a benign relationship between artists, business and the state is possible. And in spite of that fact giving me a bad case of cultural whiplash, I suppose it is time for me to shoulder the burden of hope again.

What about Austin and their use of their old buildings as historical reference and tourist attractions, what about NYC & artist & squatter co-ops owning whole buildings with roof gardens and solar off grid installations (and a greater divide in those 2 cities between rich & poor?) Houston & the program where artists fix up houses for poor people? Could WE do that? Is it just my cranky old age prejudice & stupidity or does a different ethos obtain here, a kind of push pull, love hate, parental gifting/imposing relationship between history, art and business? Maybe that’s what’s confusing me. That’s why I titled my letter (don’t know what they will title it) "WHO IS THE CITY?" Well Austin is Austin (and kind of snooty about it too) and Tucson will be whatever Tucson wants to be and HOPE will continue to be a healing or "a dangerous thing" (The Shawshank Redemption) and reality will continue to be OUT THERE, a place Kant was kind of pessimistic about us ever getting to, Das Ding An Sich, is beyond us he sd, & yet I have to keep bumping into & hurting myself on "dat dere ding" and have to keep reminding myself "it IS what it IS". After my letter to the editor, the pome ESSAY ON THE SERIAL NATURE OF PICNICS does another take on the question of "Who Is The City". Please remember I come to it not so much as poet as deranged pilgrim picking up free range poultry as just another tool with which to triangulate to ask, again, & again & again:


PS: I caught a smidgen of you & David Aguirre talking on Slightly Off Center the other week. When David talked about a shard below Sentinel Peak that had a swirl on it suggesting to him the interconnectedness of culture and art through the centuries (are they really compatible or was this an arranged marriage?), I had a flash that ALIENS must have teleported a Nike shoe salesman (with briefcase stuffed full of SWOOSHES) here in prehistoric times–and though the evidence is patently incontrovertible, I welcome the scientific debate which must inevitably follow my ASTOUNDING AND GROUND BREAKING insight.

and now


(Letter to editor of Tucson Weekly re threatened warehouse evictions)

I prefer this one. I realize it’s probably too long for your purposes, but the problem I keep banging my head against is, it’s hard to say anything even halfway meaningful about what’s happening now without referencing the long arc of history (which Martin Luther King so hopefully said, "bends toward justice"). Unfortunately history (to be totally tautologous about it) takes time & time = space = MC square (money times the speed of light measured in squares) (or something like that). O well, is there a chance of a melting polar ice cap in hell for this version?

Stephen Eye, Zee and many other warehouse residents got two things right at the WAMO meeting as Dave Devine reported in The Weekly 11/16-22: 1. From the perspective of history dating back to the Native Americans, THE CITY (and I believe I speak for Thomas Hobbes, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud when I say this:) can mostly be depended on to SCREW anybody who doesn’t have a SHITPOT full of money. And 2. (And I believe I speak for Isaac Newton and the Local Plumber’s Union when I say this:) Shit flows downhill (& faster from the moral high ground) and there is more than a coincidental connection between the rise of high end condos and the fall of artists’ studios.

Last year the Old Y, (International Arts Center, MUSE at 5th. Ave/6th st) was sold out from under the community’s investment because of a big money deal to create condos. For seven years THE CITY promised landscaping and other forms of help that never came through, and "worked with us" on code violations. We started with 56 pages of violations and after 6 years of work on them ended up with 106 pages of violations. There were business problems like Larry Paul’s SAGE consortium’s 14 percent mortgage hung around the building’s neck. There were as many broken promises as good intentions, but the unkindest cut of all was the City’s promise that the building would always be used as a cultural resource—that was until there was a lot of money involved. Then The City didn’t just break its promise, it issued a demo permit on an historic building. It’s irreplaceable. Now one of The City’s last best hopes for growth with meaning is a hole in the ground.

Fast forward to the present and Tom Beal’s article in the Star (11/24/06). Bob Morrison of WUNA says the $300,000 condos (that are "replacing" the old Y) are fine with him. "Gentrification is just what we need. It’s irrational to mix upper income and lower income in the same neighborhood." Borghius of Vantage says, "The lofts at 5th Ave is the perfect infill project....walkable lifestyle...growth that enlivens and energizes."

Interesting value system those statements presuppose:
The old Y housed 10 artists, had studio space for 20, performance space seating 750, small performance spaces seating 50 each, classrooms and workshop space for 25 each, mural and sculpture space to accommodate 20.

Alternately, a 6000sq.’ commercial building (on a lot with room to put up two or three 20 X 100' steel buildings at $100,000 each), south of Country Club and Ajo costs the same as one condo $300,000 or 55/sq.’.

Either way you cut it, what WUNA and Vantage (and THE CITY by compliance) are saying is one upper middle class condo dweller is worth at least 20 to 100 artists and/or poor people in terms of their contribution to the cultural life of The City. I’m surprised. I had no idea we meant that much to them.

But all seriousness aside, economic apartheid works better for me than the cognitive dissonance of flying the flag of art and really being about money. At the beginning of The Arts District planning process, performance artist Robert Bray published a long letter in The Weekly saying please DON’T help us. Now after 20 years of working in and on and witnessing the cultural diaspora of the arts district,(and I recognize I may be speaking only for myself and The Piltdown Man and pissing in the wind to boot when I say this:) maybe it’s time for artists to just do art and stop trying to get along, because business, like they say, is business. Yes I proposed the Phantom Gallery and the Artist In Residence Programs (and you know I’ll have to beat you up if you call me bitter) but now in the light of all the damage done to downtown and art by arts managers, maybe it’s time to question the wisdom of all that social engineering. Witness the Beal article:

"Ganz thinks his experience should be a warning to other in-town residents. ‘We're the canaries in the coal mine. Every neighborhood should be afraid of this,’ he said." I AM afraid. I’m afraid we should all have another beer, recognize that our val YOU systems are irreconcilable and just move on.

(Checkout this weblink: and my blog under construction at:

and now:
(Or a fourth & even more incoherent lunge (if that’s possible) at the impossible....and questions still remain:)


Colossal man sits on a ridge in the
Catalinas watching
the car lights inching their way up
into the foothills, he smiles at this
of motion repeating
each night like history a constant
approach to
his idea
of home his hollow eyes look
at the town he built, in a café
down below a woman
asks a man, "WHO
are all these people?" The man laughs, he
doesn’t even know who he
is. Colossal Man laughs, the price of being
everybody is
you’re nobody, not
what anybody in particular
passionately wants but
what most people
can put up with , WHO
takes care of us in a wooden
parental way, and celebrates
unusual abilities growing
like giant warts in common,
fallible, and fatuous
individuals, sometimes kind, sometimes
blind he
blinks a lot, those who
speak thru
his mouth find their own words
come out estranged, ashen, those who
listen hear the thoughts of
an authority that
screws anybody without
money and power that
dares not believe in
art or science or
any reality not
politically expeditious not
ready to fly any and all flags I gave to
each at one time or another
like a hero
and an ant
and an idiot and he
took it like a corporation
and a politician
and a dope addict and
every year I sent him money the debt
was never defined and so never
PEOPLE dwarf the chasms between
the mountains he
puts them together, he
takes them apart, some
have seen god there, others
have just been broken he
has it all and yet is never
satisfied, constantly
maddened by those who
test the echoes thru
those canyons and irritated to
distraction by
the still small voice of individual conscience
and consciousness growing up
like grass thru
a crack in the pavement, when he thinks
of this he gets
pissed gets
on the radio issues a breaking
news bulletin
"FAMILY!" he says, "COMMUNITY!" he
says, "COUNTRY!" he
says and then
opens a door in the night and it
swallows us all.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Colossal man sits on a ridge in the
Catalinas watching
the car lights inching their way up
into the foothills, he smiles at this
of motion repeating
each night like history a constant
approach to
his idea
of home his hollow eyes look
at the town he built, in a café
down below a woman
asks a man, "WHO
are all these people?" The man laughs, he
doesn’t even know who he
is. Colossal Man laughs, the price of being
everybody is
you’re nobody, not
what anybody in particular
passionately wants but
what most people
can put up with , WHO
takes care of us in a wooden
parental way, and celebrates
unusual abilities growing
like giant warts in common,
fallible, and fatuous
individuals, sometimes kind, sometimes
blind he
blinks a lot, those who
speak thru
his mouth find their own words
come out estranged, ashen, those who
listen hear the thoughts of
an authority that
screws anybody without
money and power that
dares not believe in
art or science or
any reality not
politically expeditious not
ready to fly any and all flags I gave to
each at one time or another
like a hero
and an ant
and an idiot and he
took it like a corporation
and a politician
and a dope addict and
every year I sent him money the debt
was never defined and so never
PEOPLE dwarf the chasms between
the mountains he
puts them together, he
takes them apart, some
have seen god there, others
have just been broken he
has it all and yet is never
satisfied, constantly
maddened by those who
test the echoes thru
those canyons and irritated to
distraction by
the still small voice of individual conscience
and consciousness growing up
like grass thru
a crack in the pavement, when he thinks
of this he gets
pissed gets
on the radio issues a breaking
news bulletin
"FAMILY!" he says, "COMMUNITY!" he
says, "COUNTRY!" he
says and then
opens a door in the night and it
swallows us all.