Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 84

This is for my friend Jim Ricker. 1954-2015



Elegy for Jim 

by Jimmy Jazz

An elegist like an astronomer should know more of a moon or a man than its gibbous phase. -anonymous




A screaming came across the sky

on Broadway two hours after sunrise

as a black crow darted before the cityscape,

a small hawk in pursuit of his tail feathers…

reminding me, strangely, of conversations

in a teacher’s lounge

at a language school

in San Diego

with our friend Jim Ricker


Jim, Hippie Jim,

parsing the spoken words of his interlocutors

asking each to think & re-think

before speaking

the talons of his sharp logic clipping some who dared

use anecdotal evidence to support a claim


Hippie Jim, there was a fry cook in your heart

and a prescriptive grammar Snoot

A fry cook flipping hotcakes in a Sunday rush

at the big kitchen


Hippie Jim with your Master’s degree

where is your long hair now?

a fry cook who never minced words

& a usage cop with an etymologist’s nightstick

upside the head of the Green Grocer— Who

does he think he is with his ’10 Items or Less’ sign?


Hippie Jim, you old polemicist, you coot

never angry

but always ready and able to argue



Hippie Jim, with your long hair

were you a Marxist?

Can you explain for me one more time

Marx’s Labor Theory of Value?

You old union man, you Wobblie

you Uber-hater

We’ll kick hell out of any scab that crosses your picket line


Hippie Jim

Why were you shaking your fist

at the lack of common sense in the Ottoman Empire

over coffee with the muse?


Yer cantankerous-misanthropic-curmudgeon mask

didn’t fool the people you loved

A circus tent couldn’t mask a heart like that


Hippie Jim, will they bury you

in bolo tie & seersucker coat?


Will your hair be long in heaven?

Will you give Jesus a piece of your mind?

Will God pour you a beer & with a slap on the back say, Good Job Buddy?


Hippie Jim, you could be sober

a thousand years, or a thousand lonely nights

and all your courage & conviction

wouldn’t stop us finger-waggers from waving your final vices

like a red flag— Did

you really eat a 7-11 chili dog & chocolate milk

every fucking day?


Any man who can find joy in the grit in the bottom of a styrofoam cup of Folger’s,

can be happy in this world.


O, secret joy teacher!

ask your students to seize the day

tap your enthusiasm

in class & field trips

to places they have never been


Jim, Hippie Jim,

You Teacher

You Reader


Who will speak at length about the great writers of our time?

Who will follow Pynchon & Bill Vollmann,

who will read Edward Abbey’s FBI file,

and care about David Foster Wallace?


Who will throw his body on the gears of the capitalist machine?

And wonder in what desert Edward Abbey lies?



You teacher

You Reader

You Study-hard

You Knower (of so many things)

History dies with a man like you

History falls into the memory hole



You Knower

You Carer

You Talker


Your hawk soars above the tower,

the crow count his days.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 83

FREE JEFF OLSON, Free Yourself

Jeff Olson, California Man, Faces 13 Years In Jail For Writing Anti-Big Bank Messages In Chalk

The law seems to have changed since I got in trouble for using sidewalk chalk to make a political statement during a strike in the 1990’s. Notice that the will to squish speech that challenges authority figures remains the same.

from Jimmy Jazz’s novel Where Life is Inappropriate

Day 9. It’s family day on the strike line. Mr. M brings his two girls and I bring Alaska and Caledonia. –Take this sidewalk chalk and sketch out a hopscotch. The bossy sister takes the chalk and draws a series of lopsided squares. The striking teachers hop with picket signs on their shoulders. The older sister draws a funny caricature of her dad, depicting Mr. M with a huge pumpkin-like head.

–That’s great! I say. Inspired, I chalk a portrait of every single teacher on the line, surrounding the school sidewalk. 42 separate pictures. I draw Mr. Stone with his stern face; I draw Ms. Fox with a bushy foxtail. I sketch Mrs. W with her bald chemotherapy head.

This high is as temporary as it was necessary, and for a while we feel as fresh and ready to confront the administration as we did on the first day of the strike. Like drug addicts we need more to catch the same thrill. School lets out and the children mill around the portraits.
–There’s Mr. I.
–There’s Mrs. W.
–Mr. M looks like a fat guy, one of the kids says. The simple chalk drawings seem to make everyone happy. The principal walks along our line in a 3-piece suit using a walkie-talkie to direct the school busses.
–Who’s responsible for this? he asks Mr. Stone. The principal’s a squat, stocky man with a head like a potato. He likes to talk about the fistfights he got into growing up in the Bronx. He likes to think of himself as a tough guy. He looks at the drawings, fists resting on furtive hips. He flicks his nose with his thumb. Fingers point at me. –This is vandalism, he says. –We need to call the police. He turns and marches back into the school.
The next morning Mr. Stone, the strike commander calls me aside. –An official complaint has been sent to your file.
–How come?
–It says you hit somebody’s car with your sign, he informs me.
–I did? I say sort of dumbfounded and unaware. The strike has been on for near 2 weeks; we all expect it to settle over the weekend and now this.
–And please no more stunts like the chalk drawings, he says. –Did you write the word SCABS on the entrance to the teacher’s parking lot? The impulse to cry fades into what it must feel like to be a scapegoat.
–This is bullshit. I talked to a cop about the sidewalk chalk, it’s legal, a free speech issue. You can’t spit on the sidewalk, but drawing on it with chalk is okay. It’s sidewalk chalk.

It rained overnight. The portraits, like our resolution, faded but remained intact.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 82

In the late 1980’s Tom Meyer, Pat Haley and I taped punk rock shows in San Diego, CA. We taped over a 100 bands. The promoters, were usually very cool to us. Tim Mays for one saw the documentary value in making these videos. The band managers would sometimes say No. No you can’t video. Bad Brains said no. The Cramps said no (but we were able to sneak into The California Theater and tape that one.) Black Flag said yes, but then stole the tape.

This particular video was shot at San Diego’s Carpenter’s Hall. My uncles used to go down there to wait for construction jobs in the 70s. IN the 90’s it was called The Art Union building. Pat Haley actually had a studio in there where he painted his masterpieces. Today the building is the new home of The San Diego Reader. Ha. But In the 80s Tim Maze Presents put on some great punk shows there. We saw Bad Brains, GBH, The Grim… and local bands like The Front. We started taping this particular show. We taped Frontline, a band from San Jose and Blast… and only this one song from The Exploited. They were making their own two-camera video on that tour and wanted exclusivity. It’s fine.

At the start of the video, Wattie references another show 2 years before “that was bullshit eh?” at the State Theater. That was a great show even though the power went off. The kids were chanting Exploited songs until Wattie got pissed and threw the mic stand which hit the drum kit and they went off stage. A great day in punk rock history. There was an Anarchist Picnic at Mission Bay earlier where we saw Ministry of Truth, Manifest Destiny and a bunch of other bands. When the cops came to break it up, the punks start throwing rocks and bottles. Wattie dedicated the first song that night to the kids who went to jail. The theater was condemned and ‘Exploited UK Subs and Dr. Know’ remained on the marquee for 5 years.

The thing we should never forget about the 80s was the terror we experienced worrying about Ronald Reagan with his shaking hand on the nuclear apocalypse button. And since Maggie Thatcher, one of his cohorts, died yesterday, I thought I would post this video in her honor. Wattie from the Exploited famously said (or inspired) the truism ‘Punk’s not dead,’ but also said “We’re not a fascist band.” This song decrying Thatcher’s war in the Falkland Islands gives his claim street credibility. ‘Let’s star a war said Maggie one day/ with unemployed masses, we’ll just do away…” So Fuck You to Thatcher, Reagan and anyone who uses fear to rule over people.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 81

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see my first featured performance in several years at The San Diego Art Institute; my good friend, the film maker, Eric Rife taped the event with his professional gear. I edited the raw footage into a kind of spoken word/puppet show video using Final Cut eXpress.

The video depicts me declaiming a chapter from my novel The Cadillac Tramps (for sale in the lobby.) I wish we’d had another camera to catch the audience participation aspect of the show. I made 22 puppets which members of the audience kindly waved around during the performance. Since punk rock, at least, everyone is in the show. Enjoy.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 79


Overcoming the résumé gap.

I’ve had a lot of jobs and taken time off from work and gotten new jobs. When they ask about those gaps in the resume, I just tell them the truth. I was writing. I’m a writer. It doesn’t always pay the rent, so I need to work. But what about the reverse, the gap in the writer’s resume? Inexplicable periods of no artistic production. What should I tell my desired readers?

Sorry I was working in a bank.

Jimmy Jazz Performance History: a list of featured readings* Continue reading

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 77

Just got back from listening to Reg E. Gaines preview his theater piece The Last Celebrity. He’s really good. I feel like I got a free pass for the $55 seats. Thank you San Diego Public Library! I was telling Librarian Bob that I hadn’t done a real featured poetry reading since SDSU’s “Avant Garde Festival.” I told him a little about how crazy the show was, but I didn’t realize, until just now, that it was in 2005. I haven’t done a real performance in 8 years. That’s crazy. I had told myself when I was still in my 30s that I was going to take a ten year hiatus, because who wants to see 40 year olds yammer on about their shit… but I thought I was joking… that’s one of my problems… I don’t even believe myself half the time because everything is a joke.

Reg E. Gaines is the kind of sincere, forthright, earnest poet who when he says something, you believe it. He could sell you anything, precisely because he’s not selling anything. He’s real. And the real thing. I would need photographic evidence.

The truth about why I stopped performing is difficult. My creative philosophy: read more than you write; write more than you share, has been in force. Been reading a lot, and after writing a 500-page book about books, I’ve struggled to get all my novels in print. The Cadillac Tramps and House of the Unwed Mother are in hand, so I’ve decided to try to read from them, even though it scares the shit out of me. But the real truth is that public performance is a horse I fell off. A rabid-wild-ass bucking horse that dragged me across the cobblestones. It’s like riding a bike, once you fall off, you never forget.

After putting so much energy into the Avant Garde Fest I felt like I had nothing left. I was spent, exhausted. The show killed a part of me. It nearly killed some of the poor people in the audience, and they loved it.

A minor epiphany put me on the road back to public life, curtesy of Slavoj Zizek who described the Marx Brothers in Freudian terms: Groucho, the ego, Chico, the superego and Harpo the unspeaking ID with its prurient energy. Continue reading

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 76

I don’t mean to encourage the delusions of Doomsday Cults, such as Heaven’s Gate or the Republican Party, but since today’s apocalypse caused me to dream of the end of the world last night (redwood trees were falling from the sky and a dolphin fell out of the hurricane and crashed through a car roof as I walked down 30th St.) I thought I would post  the section from BOB on Bukowski’s Last Night of the Earth Poems and a link to one of them.

from The Book of Books

Last Night of the Earth Poems • Charles Bukowski – When I checked this book out of the library I found a poem by Hosho McCreesh droplifted inside by the Guerilla Poetics Project. According to the website where I registered the poem as found, GPP operatives covertly smuggled 52,220 poem broadsides into bookstores and libraries around the world. I tried for a few days to write a poem as solid as Bukowski’s The Soldier, His Wife and the Bum, but failed realizing I lacked the iconic foundation he’d poured across the plumb line of an entire life.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 75

My partner, the fair Angela, has just gone through the harrowing process of searching for, applying, and interviewing for a job. She actually got the job, and I’m sure that our landlord and our grocer are as happy about that as we are, and yet our adulation does not diminish what I called in this poem “the humiliation of work.”

I’m reminded of my dearly departed grandma’s voice saying what a blessing to have a job, and my syndicalist friends reminding me what a struggle for workers in the US to earn things we take for granted like relatively safe working conditions, a minimum wage, the 8 hour day… (I mourn the dead workers who were locked in a Bangladeshi garment factory that caught fire) and at the same time wonder if the drug tests, the psychological interviews, the background checks… are conducive to a just work environment where meaningful work is done.

This is a video of a poem I wrote a few years back before starting a job in THE CUBE.