Thursday, November 30, 2006

Best Lit Site Ever

Great satire can be found at www.angelfire.com/zine2/ucreview/
done by ULAer Adam Hardin.

My favorite posts are the Oates bit, and Adam's deconstruction of a poet.

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sheep of the Literary World

The ULA Blacklisted.

Lit folk refuse to link with us because we, the most powerless of writers, have somehow become "bullies" capable of pushing around truly powerful millionaires and their armies of lackeys. Lit characters friendly to me in the past are suddenly aghast at things I've said. Pure phoniness. Another accuses me of not being open-minded, yet declines to exchange links to share each other's ideas.

The truth is that these people are terrified of upsetting the powers-that-be in the literary world-- patrician barons like Eggers and Moody-- by acknowledging our existence in anyway publicly. Word has come down from on high. Like the jellyfish they are, these icons of integrity have complied.

P.C.

The Underground Literary Alliance is open to anyone regardless of race, creed, color; political, musical, or sexual orientation; as long as the person or other agrees with our ideas. Our doors are open to all.

Someone who rejects us solely because we don't have enough women, or this or that, in our ranks, is someone who sees the world in categories and stereotypes. If people don't join us because we don't fit some pre-ordained percentage of prescribed diversity, that's THEIR problem, not ours.

They need to examine their own attitudes first before attacking ours.

Poetic Follies

CO-OPTATION DEPT.

This morning I had the displeasure of listening to bourgeois poets Anne Waldman and Jason Shinder misinterpreting the meaning of "Howl." About the famous "Moloch" rant-- "blood of money"-- they spoke in circles, refusing to acknowledge that Ginsberg's words had anything to do with his own time-- when the connection is obvious. At no time, of course, did they mention a major influence on the poem, Kenneth Rexroth's "Thou Shalt Not Kill," a poem which is just as strong yet is celebrated no place.

And what's up with Shinder, anyway? Before the ULA's spring "Howl" protest at Columbia University, eight months ago, establishment attack dog Phillip Lopate, in a letter to me, had Shinder dying, very ill, using this as a reason for us to halt our plans. Jason Shinder sounded fine on the radio, as he looked fine (except for his evil facial expressions) when we saw him earlier this year on stage.

What one can say about "Howl" is that the poem has been neutered. The cultural establishment, embodiment of this nation's upper classes, has the work well in hand. It sits politely on the coffee table in a large room in one of their airy houses, next to a tray of bon-bons. They look at it gratefully, knowing the work is now completely harmless.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Catching Up on Reading

The 11/19 issue of the New York Times Book Review was devoted to "Bad Boys, Mean Girls, Revolutionaries, X Outlaws, Beautiful Losers." All the writers discussed are from the past-- most from the distant past. The hapless and conformist editors continue the grand establishment tradition of lauding literary outcasts as long as they're safely dead.

Prepster Meghan O'Rourke of Slate, an Insider icon who wouldn't know anything underground if she fell down a manhole, asks the question, "Whatever Happened to the Avant-Garde?" The scope of her essay extends all the way up to 1992! Mentioned by her as purveyors of "a do-it-yourslf ethos" and "a distaste for commercialism" are such conglomerate house pets as Mary Gaitskill, Tama Janowitz, and Dennis Cooper. Say what? The goal of all three was always and forever will remain to be commercial. Scarcely one of them had a "do-it-yourself" moment in their lives regarding their art, though I'm sure all of them give good blow jobs. (Nice to see a recent photo of Tama in Vanity Fair sporting some recent plastic surgery work.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Upcoming

A lot of good stuff is coming up at this blog, including:
-A look at a great new Yul Tolbert illustrated daily comic strip.
-Wred Fright's new book.
-"Lessons in Lit": My four-part course on how to be a better writer or poet (from a reader's point-of-view). The four parts, in tentative order:
1.) "Fixing Franzen."
2.) "Marginalized Poetry."
3.) "Two Good Poets."
4.) "Walsh the Poet."
ALSO:
I'll be posting an excerpt from my Detroit novel. . . .

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

B'wana Dave

There's something disconcerting about the title page to his new book-- What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng-- with the subtitle prominently displayed. Right below, the punchline: by Dave Eggers.

The subtitle harks back not just to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, but to the autobiography of Frederick Douglass-- the shocking importance of which, in its day, was that ex-slave Douglass was speaking for HIMSELF. Remember the theme of the work-- that what Douglass most embraced was the ability and need to read and write. This revolutionary act gave him equality with anyone. Douglass proved by his writings, his speeches, and his life that he was the equal of any white person.

Empowerment was the message of these two powerful autobiographies. The much-hyped 2006 version gives the opposite message: that the paternalistic rich white man in the person of B'wana Dave Eggers is back in control. "I'm here to help." (The White Man's Burden.) B'wana Dave carts the embodiment of "Victim" from interview to interview as if they were ventriloquist and puppet, while the liberal print media applauds.

Dave Eggers is the darling of boozhie (street slang) lit critics because this ultimate boozhie is an example to them that it's hip to be rich and corporate. Everything he does has an air of unreality about it. He's crafted to be a savior of generosity and benevolence; his image washed in a special glow. The insanity of the man is that he rigorously protects this image from everything resembling a real human being; from hints of anger and flaws; criticism against him consistently steamrolled. Insanity-- or shrewd marketing.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Imperialist Lit

Imperialism depends upon social and economic gaps between populations which enable one group to feel psychologically and morally superior. The Imperialist justifies his forays into the world with the notion that he's using his privilege and power to benefit humanity. He's the good guy! A member by birth of the Clean and the Saved, he's going to prove his liberal virtue by helping people, cameras at the ready. True equality would eliminate his game; his patrician paternalistic philanthropic role playing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Infrastructure



I have a couple large posts upcoming, but will also be focused in the next couple weeks on helping to build infratsructure for the ULA, to help the launch of books like the one depicted. A lot happening. (Check out the ULA Book Review at www.ulabookreview.blogspot.com -- editor Victor Schwartzman is doing a bang-up job.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Action

New York novelist-activist Jason Flores Williams is doing a reading/protest outside Carnegie Hall in New York City, on 57th under the main entrance, tomorrow, Thursday 11/16 at 7 p.m. I won't be able to be there, but I hope you are!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two Poems

DRUNKEN POEM

Sitting in Dempsey's Bar
New York City Irish pub
East Village
I'm honoring Dylan
the real one
great writer
poet-performer unparalleled
who died of drinking
four days and fifty-three years
prior.
Does time fly?
It zooms. . . .
100 miles an hour
rocks glass rolling across the bar
whiskey gone too fast
"Bartender, get me another!"

BEAUTIFUL WOMEN

I had a dream of
beautiful women
many of them
at a prostitute druggie hotel
I once used to live in
"Treat them kindly!"
the madam barks.
"Treat them rough and we'll rough YOU up
Ten times over.
Be nice and they'll be nice."
Yes, they're nice
They're heaven
Women are heaven
Even the madam with the bulldog face
soft creature after all
A real softie; easy touch
Beneath the iron.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Rexroth

The poem mentioned on the post below, and a lot more fantastic Kenneth Rexroth stuff, is at the great radical web site www.bopsecrets.org-- simply scroll down to the Rexroth archive, but check out the other writings also!

I'm glad to see recognized somewhere the enormous importance and influence Rexroth had-- and has-- to American literature. Kenneth Rexroth is one of America's best essayists and greatest poets.

Rexroth lives!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dylan Thomas

If I don't miss my guess, this is the 53rd anniversary of Dylan Thomas's death.

Say what you will about the 1950s, but they were a time of great poetry; an era when poetry mattered to people.

The great Kenneth Rexroth wrote a memorial poem for Dylan Thomas. He called it "Thou Shalt Not Kill." It remains relevant today. A couple excerpts:

"They are murdering all the young men.
For half a century now, every day,
They have hunted them down and killed them.
They are killing them now."

"You
The hyena with polished face and bow tie,
In the office of a billion dollar
Corporation devoted to service;
The vulture dripping with carrion,"

It's one of the most powerful poems I've ever read.
Ever read the poem, Miss Snark? Have you other Miss Snarks of the literary world read it?
You should read the poem. Read it. It was written to you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Two Differences

Two major differences between mainstream publishing and the ULA way of doing things.
1.) In mainstream publishing, the most powerless, least respected person is the writer or artist himself. The writer is at the bottom of the totem pole, grateful to be published at all. He or she is in the position of supplicant, with no real power or voice over the artwork. (Not even Jon Franzen had it, as he found.)
With the ULA, the artist is valued-- and calls the shots. We're all writers in one form or another, even our publishers like Jeff Potter and Pat Simonelli. We understand what Do-It-Yourself is about.
2.) The mainstream is looking for "normal" writers; those sober individuals willing and able to play by the rules. The entire process is set-up to weed out the different voice; the wacked-out, outcast, or outraged person. The Underground Literary Alliance embraces such persons-- we know that's where artistic genius is to be found.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Abusive Snark

Literary agent Miss Snark (www.misssnark.blogspot.com wouldn't know an original writer if the person dropped on top of her. She and her ilk don't want originality. They cherish conformity-- which is why their main concern as editors and agents is in the manners, presentation, and obsequiousness of those who approach them. Make sure those manuscripts are neat and clean! Uh oh! He misspelled a word. Send the novel back to Mr. Dostoevsky immediately!

Miss Snark can abuse authors daily on her blog because she knows standard demi-puppet writers are interchangeable. She can always find a replacement, exactly the same, for the author she's just kicked down the stairway.

Why is this? Why do standard MFA writers get no respect? Why, after having paid for the preciously worthless certificate, are they asked to pony up another $350 (in New York) or $200 (in Philly) just to be allowed to briefly say "hi" to arrogant agents, editors, and publishers from the mainstream?

An artificial oversupply of writers is continually created by MFA factories. These aren't writers, but writer-wannabes. They think, "Golly! It'd be cool to be a writer." The vague notion appeals to their egos-- so they take expensive writing classes to "learn" "how" to write. They eventually achieve a basic competence-- a veneer of mediocrity. (The real writer, on the other hand, writes, regardless of background or circumstances. For the real writer, writing is an integral part of his being-- like breathing-- like Wild Bill when he was living off the land in New Mexico yet never failing to produce new issues of his hand-made zeen.)

When you have an oversupply of anything, its value plummets. This is how a Miss Snark is able to treat writers-- the foundation of the process-- with total contempt. "If God did not want them sheared he would not have made them sheep." The Snarks of literature are like the bandit leader from the movie "The Magnificent Seven." They carry his attitude.

Who put Miss Snark in charge? Does she know anything about literature, about art? Her posts show that she knows only about business. Art is secondary. Art is incidental-- an afterthought. If Snark received the hand-scrawled yellow pages of Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel in a box she'd have it taken quickly to the nearest dumpster in the alley behind her Manhattan office building. "Ugh!" she'd exclaim. "Disgusting!"

Robotic apparatchiks like her are in charge of literature today-- which is why this culture finds no great writers.

One can stand up like a human being or crawl like a mouse. Until writers begin to stand up for themselves, they'll have no value in this corrupt society.

In the Underground Literary Alliance, writers are in charge of the operation.
www.literaryrevolution.com

(p.s. For those who think in stereotypes, I've not sent an unsolicited manuscript anywhere in fifteen years. Jumping through hoops like an obedient dog has never been my game. I'm more interested in DIY. Creating an alternative literature is what ULAers are doing.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Miss Snark

I've discovered a blog manned, aptly, by an anonymous Insider, which represents perfectly the sad mentality of today's insular publishing world: www.misssnark.blogspot.com

On a Novermber 3 post titled "Nitwit of the Day!" a writer is castigated for daring to speak up to her mandarin handlers.

The pathologically ignorant have called me a "parasite" for trying to promote underground writers-- for six years now-- without a single contract, without an iota of control. The grand sum of money I've made from my efforts has been: zero. In fact, I've invested much in our project, which is now showing, with the release of another ULA Book, real progress.

Read Miss Snark's blog and there see represented real parasites. See the contempt they hold for their writers. That most of them are intellectual cowards who so little believe in their efforts they remain anonymous says a great deal about the mendacious dishonesty and corruption of today's literary world.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Man with Shopping Basket

In Center City Philadelphia lives a homeless man with thick eyeglasses, who pushes a shopping basket covered with cardboard signs. Other signs and notes are pinned to his clothes and even his hat. The signs are lettered with word screams about current events: "Lies," "Katrina," "Alarm," "Wake Up," and so on, from every available space; a blaring profusion of letters and words. If one follows the words around the corners of the basket they add up to some kind of narrative. He's a little guy-- no taller than five feet high; wearing a shabby gray-green coat and stained baggy trousers. (At least, this is what I can see of his clothes beneath the verbiage.) The man never strays far from the shopping cart into which he's poured his belongings. I've seen the cart standing alone-- then notice the man on the ground scrounging for cigarette butts a few yards away. At night when I walk city streets unable to sleep, I've spotted the literary shopping cart parked at the entrance to a doorway of a vacant building. Behind it, beneath signs-- covered with them-- the mad sign maker lies sleeping.

As he makes his daily journeys downtown, displaying the cart at strategic locations, accompanying his message by speeches to nobody, not a person goes near him, as he's obviously crazy. Obviously!

Yet in his screaming maladjusted intensity, is the man really so different from a Sean Hannitty or Ted Kennedy, though with less glamorous trappings? I ask myself if he's really much different from me.

I can't say I've ever fit into bourgeois society. My family couldn't. . . .

I became interested in literature on one of my down cycles; began producing a mad couple-page newsletter on a manual typewriter bought in a resale shop in Detroit's Cass Corridor, at a time in the early 90's when I was knocking down a bottle a day. "New Philistine." Angry bedraggled literary crank-- I was that, which didn't mean I had nothing to say.

Much has been written about the outsider in art and society. ULAers are literary outsiders-- true outsiders carrying a profound alienation toward society, and toward today's corrupt literary system which is a reflection of society. Our mad noise, like the noise of the homeless man with the shopping basket, comes from the streets, is the sound of anger, pain, outrage, alienation, and reality.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Point About Kerry

The point about John Kerry's recent remarks is that, like his fraternity brother George W., he's basically clueless about the realities of opportunity in this country. Many people join the military not because they're not smart enough, or don't study, or are against education-- but because they see it as the only way to get an education otherwise unavailable to them.

Because blueblood Kerry had his path into Yale paved for him, he naively believed that all his fellow rich kids were there because they were society's smartest-- or studied the hardest! If this man doesn't understand the structure and workings of his own society, then why in the world should he be expected to lead this country?

This is a nation scarred by class. Even the status-quo's most right-wing apologists like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly beneath their angry distorted want-to-believe-in the-dream arguments are in fact through the history of their lives badly scarred by class. The divide between rich and poor has never been greater in my lifetime. For twenty-five years we've seen a transfer of mpney from the poor to the rich; the lower classes falling behind while the top levels accummulate more wealth. Those who benefit from this live in an aristocratic bubble. This includes our officially-sanctioned writers.

Our culture shows a society on the verge of deluge. Movies by well-connected daughters celebrate the world of Marie Antoinette while the literary world is increasingly populated with daughters of privilege like Marisha Pessl or by fop-wannabes like John Hodgman or Lord Whimsy. Realities of the society aren't being covered.

What writers are there to cover them when the lit-world's approved writers, agents, and editors come from the select bastions of privilege like Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, and Yale? They graduate wearing blinders, seeing the world through stereotypes. Their only recognition of class reduces it to caste. Like Ex-Brown student Rachel Aviv, who interviewed Patrick King and myself for Poetry Foundation, they see all poor people as black and all black people as poor; unable to believe that there are desperately struggling whites also in this nation. (An increasing number of them.) These students and ex-students should be used guides for nothing-- least of all literature, which at its best serves to speak unflinching knowledgeable experienced truth.

This country would be better off if we tore down this society's elitist institutions, the most undemocratic entities in America which serve to maintain an aristocratic mentality-- represented by John Kerry-- including a sadly decayed and dying aristocratic literature.

Mighty Paradocs

The music industry is almost as corrupt as the literary world. Anyone who believes the well-hyped stars-- Britney, Jessica, Justin, et.al.-- are the best out there are deluding themselves. One can find better performers and musicians on any streetcorner.

Within the last week I've seen two very talented Philly bands:
-the multi-dimensional Hydrogen Jukebox, fronted by crazy magician-dissident Eric "Jelly Boy the Clown" Broomfield;
-on Halloween night, at Afro Pick at the Rotunda, the Mighty Paradocs: two beautiful young women of color (one black; one beige) doing a punk/hip-hop hybrid, screaming out words of rebellion while jumping around the stage in front of an out-of-control audience. "Pissy Politicians" was one of the highlights.

There are other great bands and musicians in just this city (or frequent visitors like Don McCloskey) who are pushing the envelope of music, words, and radicalism.