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.
–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.
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.
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.
I walked downtown today, to the old library (you must refer to it heretofore as the ‘old’ library with the new one looming.) The Friends of the Library hold a book sale every Friday. I was fortunate enough this morning to pick up an extra copy of William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch.
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?
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 →
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.
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.
For those of you who don’t know, my name is Jimmy Jazz and I consider myself a writer. I’ve written several novels, stories, poems, articles,read my poems in public many times, but quite obviously I have been ignoring this blog forum. I’ve been furiously busy revising two of my novels for publication. House of the Unwed Mother and The Cadillac Tramps. Limited editions of both of these books were published in 1993. And in 2012 new trade paperback and Kindle editions have been created.
As a self-publishing author I have to try to sell the books myself.
House of the Unwed Mother is a fictionalized account of 7 girls’ experience with sex and being Mormon. As Tamara Johnson says in the forward, Catholic guilt has nothing on Mormon guilt, one of the engines of control used by the church. It’s a very vivid and I hope frank account of sexual life. I think it’s appropriate for readers of all ages, because I think that censorship and ignorance lead to young women having families before they are ready.
I did more re-writing on The Cadillac Tramps than I did on HUM. I went over it 8 times in the past few months, and I think it rocks. I thought it was good enough to publish, and so I hope you will let me know. The photographs by Patrick Haley are great too. He shot one roll of film on our trip (before digital) and his intuition about clicking the shutter while a live band is playing rates with the masters. I should probably warn readers that the book contains a PG picture of me running naked through a sprinkler.
The books are self-published through CreateSpace, a print on demand company associated with Amazon. You can buy the books from Amazon for $9.99 plus shipping, but I get a slightly bigger royalty if you order it directly from CreateSpace.