wrote in my Book of Books that “one book leads to another” though I cannot explain why I picked up Gustave Flaubert’s Sentimental Education (1869) after Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958). Especially 25 years after reading Madame Bovaryin college. I have to say I’m loving it. The grand river of detail Flaubert provides seems to be stimulating my neurons like water coursing the rocks of a narrow rapid. Though I don’t agree with this character’s sentiment about the mob (Standing against top-down decision making with Rouseeau who said The populace is never corrupted, but often tricked, and only then does it appear to want what is bad) I find the speech illustrative of my own exaltation.
I don’t want any of your hiedeous realty! What do you mean by reality, anyway? Some see black, some see blue, and the mob see wrong. There’s nothing less natural than Michaelangelo, and nothing more powerful. The cult of external truth reveals the vulgarity of our times; and if things go on this way, art is going to become a sort of bad joke inferior to religion in poetry and inferior to politics in interest. You’ll never attain the purpose of art – yes, its purpose! – which is to give us an impersonal sense of exaltaion, with petty works, however carefully they’re produced. Sentimental Education 53
LA versus Ozark – DAY ONE – I drove Angela and her mom to LAX >>> so they could fly out to her family re-union in Ozark, MO. Talked to her on the phone briefly and she reported that she was walking by the river where her cousin said ‘Look at the frog.’ OK,no big deal. We’ve all seen frogs. Her cousins property butts up against a national park there in the Ozarks, and from what I hear boasts a sublime wooded area. When Angela looked a snake swam up and swallowed the frog whole right in front of her eyes. Wow. I can’t say I saw anything comparably surreal in LA, though I seized the opportunity to hang out with my friend Gina Kowerko. She took me to get some vegan food (no shortage of tasty menus to choose from here) and we hiked up through Runyan Canyon, which on a less hazy day offers a fantastic view of Los Angeles in its uber vastness. We went to a party in a loft downtown later that night with Rich Ferguson. A beautiful live/work space ran by a poet named Tiger Moon. She runs a regular gig there called the POets Perch, though tonight was Tiger’s birthday. A score of musicans and poets including Rich Ferguson and myself ended up taking the stage, but the highlight was an appearance by Redbone, the Native American rock group, who played a beautifully harmonized acoustic version of their 1974 hit “Come and Get Your Love.” The space was absolutly relaxing, mood lit, governed by a rule of silent respect for the performers, smelling of incense and bathed in red light. I’d say between 40-50 people sat at tables, on pillows, couches or stood by the bar. I drank just enough wine to be able to take the stage after the fantastic poet Rich Ferguson.
Angela and I have not been married for 27 years today. I would like to use this forum to thank her for being a great partner. We sometimes accuse each other of the ‘we are the same person’ fallacy. And it’s true that we sometimes respond to stimuli in the same way. But really we compliment each other. And I don’t just mean that I blow up the spaghetti in the microwave and she cleans it up. We do things for each other. I rub her feet for example. She loves that. And she makes sure that we eat every day, and that I take breaks from the computer. We raised a child together, which seems to have turned out pretty good. We care about each other in ways that would not have been predicted 28 years ago. I couldn’t have written much of my work without her support. She has been my muse, my subject, but also my filter. ‘How does this sound?’ I will say. She usually thinks I’ve gone too far, that I should pull back. I almost never do. I do things my way which is sometimes called the right way. We don’t apologize for being who we are. Maybe we should, I dunno. We spend a lot of time debriefing amazing things we’ve witnessed. She is a keen observer of the human animal, sees many things I would never see. We are half way through a project of understanding ourselves and the world.
I’ve been out of town, cleaning up my mom’s house, so her brother, my uncle could move in. My mom had us take a lot of stuff to the dump. Since I’ve been in the ‘no-trash’ month, I resisted. My mom made my uncle promise not to let anything come back from the dump. The dump near her house is an indoor facility. You drive in and throw your garbage on the floor. They charge you by the pound. A bulldozer pushes it onto a conveyor belt where unfortunate laborers pick through the muck for recyclables. There’s a thick layer of slime on the floor; the air is thick with dust. It smells wretched, of course. The guy with the orange safety vest who directed us in grabbed the large portrait of my step-father’s grandparents and the rusty table saw my mom used to make furniture with. It still works and I was sick about throwing it away. I’m glad that stuff has a chance to find new use. You wonder if the new economic reality might reverse our society’s destruction of the extended family. My uncle doesn’t really want to move in with his sister; he thinks of it as temporary. Fannie Mae bought his house.
Soccer Debacle by Jimmy Jazz
I have trouble understanding why the Palestinians and Israelis, the Kosavar Albanians and the Serbs, the East Timorese and the Indosesians, the Hutus and the Tsutsis, the Russians and the Chechyns can’t get along without fighting, yet I found myself ready kill a soccer dad from the burbs. Continue reading “Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog -1”