Wednesday, July 27, 2005

ULA Excitement, Part II

The radical edge we adopted-- our uncompromising in-your-face attitude-- is one of a piece with the sense of excitement we've carried as an organization from the beginning. Without that uncontrolled edge, that attitude, that excitement, we're not the ULA, but instead just one more group of lukewarm literary moderates who kind of want to change things but not really. Bourgeois moderates who sit comfortably at a distance with their approved Henry James t-shirts and Hemingway coffee mugs and Melville tote bags and gently "tut tut" at the failures of literary culture and the inequities of literary society, debating the omnipresent dominance of MFA academies while hardly tossing a pebble in the direction of the impregnable monoliths.

"Look," they observe with surprise, spilling lukewarm monopoly coffee over their faces. "A pebble touched a window! Someone stirred from their sleep inside. Such violence!"

In truth, in other words, they don't wish to change anything; they wish only to wear enough of a facade of change to hold themselves in esteem, and absolve themselves-- about the bogged-down condition of literature and its accompanying corruption-- of any blame. Real change means work and noise.

The ULA, in contrast to the mild reformist armchair murmurings of the literary moderates, has put itself at the front of the battle to release literature from the moldy grasp of decayed aristocrats. We say, "Change now! Tomorrow is too late." The Underground Literary Alliance was designed to be a hungry and snapping dog pack containing the most downtrodden of writers, the most aggrieved and demanding, the most untamed. We seek animals who can run hard and are eager for a fight-- we'll take them from all walks of life as long as they're willing to settle their ears back, harden their eyes, ready their hides to accept the slings and arrows of our enemies and prepare to run with us through a literary landscape that's become complacent and tired. As right now I exist close to the bottom of society, I carry the proper state of mind of a starved beat-up one-eyed dog eager for struggle, adventure, and drastic change. We should want to turn the present outdated structure of literature on its head.

The ULA adventure is expressed in the growing size of our pack and the increasing volume of our growling howling noise. The sound we made July 16th at the Medusa in Philadelphia was a promise, a preview, a prelude.


The Literary Landscape said...

Wait, please don't.

I know I've ignored you and laughed at you, but now I'm scared. I didn't realize you'd be assembling a hungry and snapping (snapping!) dog pack containing (containing?) the most downtrodden of writers. I certainly didn't expect you to recruit the most aggrieved and demanding, least of all the most untamed.

To be honest, I was really only expecting that thing about the pebbles.

But now, I surrender. You, King, and your rag-tag bunch of irascible ne'er-do-wells full of vim and vigor and radical edge and uncompromising in-your-face attitude (in-my-face attitude, I presume) are hereby the most wonderful, most praiseworthy and talented writers of them all. So says the literary landscape. Just don't run across me, tired and complacent as I am, you starved, beat-up, one-eyed dog eager for struggle, adventure, and drastic change. Not that. It's just too terrifying.

And do please decrease the volume of your growling howling noise. It's just too much, I say, too much growling howling for a pleasant landscape like me to endure.

impregnable monolith said...

Can someone honest please tell me how many people were at the already legendary Medusa event? Because I was looking at the pictures of the "packed house" on the ULA web site and it frankly didn't seem that packed at all. I mean, there was no one standing, for instance. And there is a lot of space between people. And there's no one in front of the camera which is in turn well back from the performers who are not on a stage. And the barcounter is empty in one of the pictures and the bartender is, like, wiping a glass clean and looking kind of bored.

Honestly now--if not to an impregnable monolith like me, then at least to yourself--ask yourself how many people were there who were

a) not performers
b) not a friend of someone who was performing
c) not filled with delf-delusional visions of grandeur?

I also want you to know that even the stoney heart of an "impregnable monolith" like myself can still be, well, touched by the poignancy of this bit of prose in your latest "Monday Report":

"Just after two we took a short cab ride to meet Karl and the
others at Ludwigs. Wenclas was sitting at the bar with poet Devin D'Andrea when Jack and i walked in. Karl had invited a few local reporters to sit in on the meeting, but they didn't show--apparently having some of the country's best writers and poets in town for a weekend of literary excitement isn't considered newsworthy in Philadelphia!"


Venceremos comrades!

the MP said...

The preceeding nonsequitor
from Littoral Lamescape helped me to recall that I needed to post another correction/clarification to the "A Southern Gentleman Captures 40th And Walnut Streets!"
contribution for the ULA's Current Monday Report.
Nasmely, that Jack's allusion to the python- handling stripper isn't "Zina"; her correct stage name was and should be noted to have been "ZORINA".
My mistake. Probably had in mind, "Zena" the beautiful bellydancer who works with the Arts Carevolution at the time I was rushing to write up the article to meet Pat Simonelli's deadline!

Patrick @ LitVision said...


When Patrick King's video comes out you can watch the medusa show frame-by-frame and analyze minutiae until you explode in exstasy! Or, you can watch it in hyper fast forward and teehee to yourself until the ritalin kicks in...

"OMG, those poets are reading in a BASEMENT BAR!"

"And look what they're WEARING!"

"Why isn't the bartender SMILING? Heehee!"

King said...

The anonymice are still out there. How witty! How cute!
What the ULA is trying to do-- at least what I'm trying to do-- is expose the lies of the culture, obvious to me every time I pick up a newspaper.
Such as: the myth of free trade. Dare anyone from your class admit that the thing has been a DISASTER for all concerned, except, presumably, for those like Mr. Moody on ample investment-oriented trust funds? (Yet the President seeks to expand it.)
In 1994 I wrote a long essay, published in heavily-edited version in a lit-mag, in which I spoke about how the working class was being destroyed in America. Eleven years later, one can say only that it's BEEN destroyed, with the establishment now stamping on the remaining shards. (Millions of Mexicans jam our borders, so NAFTA hasn't worked there, while our nation's minimum wage is stuck at the $5.15 an hour it was at ten years ago-- and it was too low then!)
The downtrodden's official spokespersons in "liberal" outlets like the NY Times and the New Yorker are badly out of touch about these questions, which they seldom address, or know about, while "lefty" publications like The Nation are staffed by affluent Ivy Leaguers. From the vantage point of the bottom, things look hopeless.
I happen to be old enough to remember how things were in this country when I was a kid, or even when I graduated high school, when good-paying factory jobs were readily available for anyone who wished to work hard. Things aren't that way any longer! The elites we put our trust in have failed us, across the board. The noise I make is a reaction to this failure.
LITERATURE should be at the forefront of changing the culture, of informing the public of the truth-- of waking that public UP!!! As writers like Jack London and John Steinbeck once did. Where are such writers now?
Instead, today, official literature has been captured by dancing dilettantes absorbed in a bon mot minuet. The chamber orchestra plays soft string music as the aristocrats pirouette, in between hits of snuff and waves of their silk handkerchiefs, in their literary palaces-- meanwhile the pain and anger on the streets outside grows deeper. I KNOW what side I'm on.
Say what you will about the ULA, but the true literature of our time is being created by writers like us.