Monday, February 28, 2011


Spunky Holler is in South San Saba County near Cherokee, just east of Texas 16, about a mile north of the Llano County line, maybe 4 miles north of Babyhead. The front 100 plus acres is an old turkey farm. Beyond it is the approach to the holler itself, which you can see in the first picture, taken sometime in July and August of some indistinguishable year. At Spunky, brief increments of time are inconsequential.

The next three are the different descents (north, east, and west), while the fifth is a good representation of what you'd see looking out, from the southwest corner. The last picture is the closest I could find to what it looks like in the holler, though in reality it's much darker, though the trees are not quite so dense. The ground is not level until you reach the bottom, where the spring bed is carved out. Hardly any grass, though walking about you'd need to watch out for gnarled roots, and creeping vines, and the carcasses of whatever new thing has permanently joined the rich dark soil.

Red Wind in the Holler

At the bottom of the holler is a joining
of springs, within a wood so dense
and low seasons come and go in tiny

increments. The black soil is cool, and carnal,
and the grasses sparse, and even the cedar
is stanched by the gushing arc

of oak, pecan, and ash that blots out the sun.
The water's pure and cold, and every season
the busy slope is littered with the bones

of those who coveted its sweetness, lulled
against their senses by whispers in trees
among the smell of damp earth, and ruse

of night, when the moon induces fevers
on the willing, and the tender.

Austin. Home.

I even miss downtown.

Won't be long now...

Goldman Sachs, et al: The Real Enemy

As I've mentioned, Obama is in deep with the bankers, who are every bit as degenerate and despicable as the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, or Rupert Murdoch. About a year and a half ago, Matt Taibbi—a truly heroic journalist, in an age when they seem to be disappearing—wrote an article for Rolling Stone laying out precisely how Wall Street, led by Greed Incarnate Goldman Sachs, has pillaged our nation's wealth repeatedly, and for generations:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

The article is titled The Great American Bubble Machine, and I highly, highly encourage you to read it, if you want to understand where we are as a nation, and how we got here (hint: we weren't bankrupted by teacher's unions).

Money quote—and boy, is it on the money:

"What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain - an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy."

Please, take a few minutes, and read this important story.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obama MIA—Anyone Surprised?

You've probably read this already, but it bears remembering what candidate Obama promised, just a few short years ago:

"And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”

He gave a speech to a business group in Cleveland the other day, while thousands of union members were protesting for their bargaining rights 100 miles south. Not only did he forget his marching shoes, he did not see fit to mention them, nor what was happening in Madison. Advice from his banker buddies, I guess—he has passels of em.

He is not our president. Don't forget it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Concerning Wisconsin

Like most of you, I am following what's happening in Madison with great interest.

I believe strongly in the right to organize—believe it to be among our most vital rights—derived from sacrifice often paid for in blood, and built on the ashes of literally millions of powerless, oppressed people. I believe the United States, as we know it, could not have emerged from the thirties without the Unions—the short-sighted greed of capitalists having brought us to the precipice—and that labor unions (and John Maynard Keynes) prevented our utter collapse into fascism.

Many of you are very heartened, I know, by the thousands who have taken to the streets in Wisconsin, occupying the capital for some days now. As am I. Heartened, and hoping against hope.

However, please appreciate what it is we're up against. Scott Walker, the little weasel Governor there, is only an errand boy, of course (Walcott accurately describes him as possessing the "dumb, subservient-to-power junior executive look of a man who will never be more than a low-level prick on the national stage"). What we're facing is far more menacing. It is the same cabal as in the thirties, that tried to remove FDR via a coup. They have been systematically breaking the unions since another of their errand-boys fired the air-traffic controllers in 1981, and they are ecstatic at the idea of finishing the job now.

Look into the dead-fish eyes of David Koch, pictured in his natural state of smugness at right, to understand what we're up against (read about and listen to Ian Murphy's hilarious and instructive punking of Walker—as Koch—here).

Their hatred of the unions is so consuming it brings to mind Nietzche's unhinged slave-morality polemic, in which he blamed the Jews for what he saw as the dominance of inferior values. He was infuriated that ideas like humbleness, meekness, and kindness could be used as weapons against the rich and powerful supermen he so longed to fellate, just as the Koch's of the world are moved to apoplexy by the audacity of unions. In their minds, the will of the possessor of capital is absolute. The arrangement of others into a counterbalancing force—the union of workers, into one—interrupts that unfettered will, and must be prevented, or destroyed, at any cost. It's really that simple.

This is not to say that unions are always right, or that unions are not succeptible to being corrupted by individuals. In this way, they are similar to democracy itself—the worst system in the world, except for all the others. Take a look at Koch's picture again. Imagine a world with no unions, and ultimately no democracy, where he and other well-fed white-men call all the shots.

Did you just shiver, too?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Victory or Death

The siege of the Alamo began 175 years ago, February 23rd. And it was on this day, two days in, that Col. Travis wrote his famous letter.

When I was a kid, Alamo was a favored game. Most kids wanted to be Crockett, as did I, though I never objected to being Travis (we all considered Bowie to be a big hero too, but you had to lay there with a rag around your head till the battle was nearly over). Jerry Jones (a kid on my block I'll write more about one of these days) actually enjoyed being Santa Anna, which was handy, and all the 4 year-olds on the block were happy to be the Mexican troops. The reading of the letter was a big part of the game-ritual, as was the line in the sand, and the desertion of the "coward" Moses Rose (also portrayed by Jerry Jones).

When the mission fell, and we died our heroic deaths, Jerry would mug and preen insufferably. "No quarter, you damn Texicans," he would hiss, as we writhed on the ground, with our hands on our hearts, and Texas on our lips. Then he'd order the 4 year-olds to run us through again (to make sure we were really dead), and he would wax poetic about being the Napoleon of the west. "Today, Texas. Tomorrow, the world!", he would scream, arms stretched toward the heavens, which made the ensuing game of San Jacinto oh-so-much more satisfying. ("Why, who is that stranger wearing a dress, and trying to sneak away?" "El President-ay, el president-ay," the 4 year-olds, on their knees with their hands behind their heads, would exclaim on cue.)

I'm not gonna try and persuade you about the truth regarding what happened there, at the Alamo, or about the men who died there. When I grew a little older, and learned more about David Crockett and James Bowie, I was disappointed, to be sure. I have learned, though, that people and events are complicated, and that it can be terribly unfair to separate them from their times. For good or ill, the myth is part of who I am, an inextricable part of my consciousness, and my character. As such, I remain inspired by their sacrifice, and moved by their heroism, of which the letter is a symbol, and perhaps the most precious of all Texican artifacts.

Here is the text—still gives me goosebumps:

(Page 1)
Send this to San Felipe by Express
night & day

The People of Texas
All Americans

(Page 2)
Commandancy of the Alamo—
Bejar, Fby. 24th 1836—

To the People of Texas &
all Americans in the world—

Fellow citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand
or more of the Mexicans under
Santa Anna—I have sustained
a continual Bombardment &
cannonade for 24 hours & have
not lost a man—The enemy
has demanded a surrender at
discretion, otherwise, the garrison
are to be put to the sword, if
the fort is taken—I have answered
the demand with a cannon
shot, & our flag still waves
proudly from the walls—I
shall never surrender or retreat
Then, I call on you in the
name of Liberty, of patriotism &
& every thing dear to the American
character, to come to our aid,

(Page 3)
with all dispatch—The enemy is
receiving reinforcements daily &
will no doubt increase to three or
four thousand in four or five days.
If this call is neglected, I am deter
mined to sustain myself as long as
possible & die like a soldier
who never forgets what is due to
his own honor & that of his
country—Victory or Death
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt
P.S. The Lord is on our side—
When the enemy appeared in sight
we had not three bushels of corn—
We have since found in deserted
houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into
the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves—

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A poem by Anne Sexton

Awake at this unGodly hour for no good reason, it occurs to me that it's Ted Kennedy's birthday today, which makes me very, very sad. Not just cause I miss him on this earth, but because of the Obama debacle. The mess that healthcare has become, unchecked corporate power, endless war, the assault on unions happening this moment. Brings to mind The Ballad of Owen Roe O'Neill—the forces against us seem no less Cromwellian (the puritanical zeal for power being an equivalent of the glutton's zeal for wealth).

Had a long conversation with Paula Jane about it not long ago, which I'm still turning over in my mind—searching for hope, I guess, among the darkness. Looking at the news tonight, I was struck by the similarity of the well-fed white men responsible for this state of affairs. Cruel, smug faces. Soulless eyes.

Trying to clear my head, looking up some poems I came across one written by a woman whose record as a feminist (and as a human being, to be honest) was rather spotty, from what I've read, but whom I still love, because of the power of her early poetry. Especially this poem, which expresses some of the emotion that I am feeling—commiseration, i reckon, is what i mean. None have felt the sting of the tyranny of the mediocre and the stupid—rampant, among us—more acutely than women have, which gives this poem its edge, i guess. Nevertheless, numbers of others feel it, in their own way, and for their own reasons.

Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making Book. Wasting Time. Freedom, Glimmering.

Hey y'all.

Five in the morning, and I'm still awake, though I'm not really sure why. 3AM is the soul's midnight, Bradbury said. It's 4 in Texas now, and that's close enough.

Three tunes. Nick Drake's gourgeous From the Morning; Elliott Smith's hypnotic, foreboding Angeles; and from 1970, The Band and Richard Manuel's heartbreaking version of Dylan's I Shall Be Released (Not an idle promise, by the way. They can't very well keep us in prison forever):

Friday, February 18, 2011


I love film.

Though my favorite art is poetry, and while literature and music are vital, too, I immerse myself in film more than anything else. Not sure I really approve of this choice I make—the easy choice, really, isn't it?—but it has been so since my sleep became troubled. I sleep with films on, most nights. Can't be just any film, either, but one of my certified sleeping-movies. Had the same ones for a long time. Seldom are there any additions, and never are the films contemporary—by that, I mean nothing created in the past 40 years or so. Not sure what the overarching theme is connecting them (perhaps a subject for a later post), but I imagine them to be an alternative to ordinary (sub)consciousness, which I find to be pretty wretched, usually, left to my own devices. Therefore, while in one sense I deplore the laziness facilitating this easy surrender to cinema's easy immersion, in a larger sense I thank God for it.

Another strange attribute of my obsession with cinema is my preference for seeing many of the same films over and over. For instance, I've seen each of Bogart's Big Six (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, To Have and Have Not, and Across the Pacific—the Bogart films I enjoy most) literally hundreds of times each. On average, I'm sure I see each of them between 5 and 20 times each year, sometimes even more (I'm sure I've seen The Maltese Falcon, probably my favorite film, 500 times). I've often said that I view this predilection as being consistent with the idea of film being important art, but I recognize the evasion beneath that centimeter of glibness. Whatever the actual motivation, the behavior I have described is testament, certainly, to the power of the medium. It is no exaggeration to describe it as being narcotic.

Some of the most powerful of cinema's drugs certainly are what the French named Film Noir, describing (black and white) American crime films of the 40's and early 50's. That, at least, is the simple definition—I apply it a little more freely, though, seeing it as a mood, a look, and an attitude. Noir is dark, obviously, and cynical. The dialogue ranges from the realistic (The Asphalt Jungle, for example) to the stylized (any of the Hammett and Chandler-based vehicles) to the allegorical (i.e., The Seventh Victim). There is goodness in these films, to be sure, and light, but it is assailed, from every direction. The darkness does not always win, but always takes its toll. The good don't always make it—sometimes, even succumb to their enemies—and sometimes, right and wrong get all twisted up, and it becomes difficult to identify one from the other. Heroism is often defined as being able to tell the difference, somehow, and act on the conviction that it's right.

Thanks to Netflix, a number of these great films are available for instant streaming. This week, alone, I've seen Kansas City Confidential, Union Station, Cry Danger, 99 River Street, Down Three Dark Streets, The Naked City, The Street With No Name, The Dark Corner, and Appointment with Danger. Each of these is a first-rate example of the genre, and a hell of a lot of fun, besides.

Black and white films made by master film-makers near the middle of the last century have a power subsequent films just rarely accomplish. If you've not approached them with an open mind, I encourage you to do so, immediately. You are missing something of startling quality.

Three videos. First, the incredible bar scene from Hitch's Shadow of a Doubt, where Joseph Cotton explains his special world-view to Teresa Wright; next, a random scene from a genuinely great and rarely scene picture, The Mask of Dimitrios, starring Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet; and last, a prime example of the genre, from a movie some say is the first true noir picture, Lorre's The Stranger on the Third Floor.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Otis Blackwell

Otis Blackwell, one of the greatest composers in early rock and roll, was born this day, in 1932.

Among the many hits he penned were Long Tall Sally, Teddy Bear, Breathless, All Shook Up, Don't Be Cruel, Hey Little Girl, Handy Man, Ready Teddy, Return to Sender, Don't, Fever, Good Golly Miss Molly, and Great Balls of Fire.

The range of artists who covered these songs is rather astonishing, as is the quality of Blackwell's catalogue. I really love those early rock and roll tunes—the lack of pretension is hard to come by these days, as is the joy, and the fun.

A handful of artists wrote many, many of those great songs. Besides Blackwell, there was Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Carole King, Mike Lieber & Jerry Stoller, and of course the great Buddy Holly (missed posting on February 3rd, but didn't forget).

Three of Otis's greatest songs, interpreted by three of rock and roll's most brilliant performers: Little Richard live, covering Good Golly Miss Molly sometime in the early 60's, I believe, from the look of it; Buddy Holly, just devouring Ready Teddy (the howl in the middle of the song slays me—I just fucking love it); and the Killer himself, live on American Bandstand, chewing up Great Balls of Fire so thoroughly that anyone else daring to attempt it after does it only at their peril:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bright Beginnings

Used to see this video on Austin Music Network all the time. Really schmaltzy, i guess. I like it a lot.

The first day of Conor Oberst's life was this day, 31 years ago.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Back from Chi-town few minutes ago. Paula Jane needed to see a film playing there (The Woodmans, at the Gene Siskel Film Center) to better inform a sequence of poems she's writing about the extraordinary Francesca Woodman (a couple of her well-known photos, at right, and bottom).
I'm still assimilating the onslaught of images—of sensory manipulation, by an artist of great power—along with the human tragedy attached to her family, and the sadness I feel, personally, from Francesca's evident despair.
Ordinarily, I am quite leery of claims other media make of being poetry, or of poetry itself extended to exotic or unconventional forms. Examining this woman's work, though, I am not troubled at all by the idea that her achievement was primarily poetic, in its nature. A body of work that is as affecting as her's is rare. If you've not seen it, Do yourself a favor, and check it out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kim Kardashian's Butt Explodes

How in the world did y'all keep up with the really important stuff, without me?

Course, y'all are the ones who explained to me what a Kardashian was. Now, it has erupted, like an angry, hell-bent Mt. Vesuvius, swollen beyond redemption with molten silicon.

It was bound to happen.

From my favorite news source (now that the Huffington Post is teetering to the dark side), The World Weekly News:

LAS VEGAS - Tragedy struck Kim Kardashian last night on a private flight from New Jersey to Las Vegas. Her left butt cheek exploded.
Many have debated for years whether Kardashian has had butt implants or not, but the proof was in the rupturing last night when Kim’s pilot took the Gulfstream 5 above 38,000 feet to avoid turbulence. When implants fly above this altitude they have been known to rupture, and that’s exactly what happened to Kardashian. As she reached for her third deep-fried Oreo cookie, she felt a “bang” in her butt. She was sitting next to the new man in her life, Miles Austin, the 25-year-old Dallas wide receiver (whose been doing just that with Kim).

The implant burst and her cheek immediately began to sag. Pilots cleared the runway for an emergency landing at North Las Vegas Airport. Kim was taken to Sunrise Hospital on Maryland Parkway. Her sisters, Khloe and Kourtney and mother, Kris, all rushed to the hospital to be with Kim. Luckily they were all nearby at their new boutique at the Mirage, Kardashian Khaos.

There almost was total chaos at the hospital when the staff was unable to find a female plastic surgeon whose first name began with the letter “K” (as Kris demanded) but soon Dr. Karen Engeman showed up and replaced Kim’s left cheek implant. “We’ve had a few cases like this before. It’s not always safe to fly with her butt filled with silicone, but Kim’s a brave woman.” Austin was the first one to slap Kim’s new left cheek. “It felt good.” He said.

Kim is resting at her Las Vegas home today and is expected to make a “full” recovery. Austin, on the other hand, feels that this tragic accident was not due to Implant Altitude Syndrome (IAS), but instead was something more nefarious. “Reggie Bush is behind this.” Austin said. “He wants to get back at Kim for dumping him, but it’s not gonna work. She’s mine now. All of her. Both cheeks.” When WWN asked Austin how he thinks Bush planted the butt IED, Austin said, “Reggie’s always been a sneaking guy. Remember the Bush Push? Well, somehow he snuck into the hotel we were staying at in New Jersey, knocked us out with rufies or something and then injected some explosive serum into her left butt cheek. They he paid off the pilots and had them fly too high. The man is sick jealous!”

When Bush was asked about Austin’s accusations he said, “What? He better watch his mouth. I’ll blow his ass up next!”

Doctors advise all women with butt implants to speak with their plastic surgeon before boarding another plane. “You don’t want to be in that mile-high club,” Dr. John Malley said.

That Reggie Bush is one crazy motherfucker.

Friday, February 11, 2011


How y'all been?

Been awhile, ain't it?

Been in a weird place. Innerd-wise, I mean. Maybe ready to start posting again. Hope so.

We're hosting another party, this moment. MFA kinda thang. Whatever, right? More proof that the loneliest fucking place in the world is a room filled with people.

I miss Texas really bad. Some news, huh? Sound like an infantile broken record.

I reckon.

Yeah. See y'all again soon i expect.