Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Programming Note

Like many millions of people in this country, I don't own a computer, and rely on libraries and cafes in order to access the Internet. Of late, branch libraries in this town have cut their hours. Starting in October, all library branches including the central branch will close for budgetary reasons. (No libraries in a major city??) Internet cafes at the same time have been raising their fees.

WHICH MEANS I'll be doing a lot less posting on this blog and my other blogs. It's a miracle that I've kept them going the past few years as it is, given my up-and-down (mainly down) life circumstances during that period. Right now the recession is as bad as it's been, which makes it a little more difficult to make a living in any of the kind of jobs I work. I probably need a break from fighting the corruption of the demi-puppets!-- and will be focusing for once on my own writing.

In the meantime:
-There's a Youtube video purporting to be an interview with me, about the ULA!, conducted by a person I've not heard of, in which I talk up the organization-- why I would is a mystery as their top guys won't even sign the Petition to PEN, though it's clearly in their interest. (I also think I'm better looking and more articulate than the character in the video.)
-Said Petition still exists, and welcomes any lit person interested in the plight of writers-- everyone concerned about leveling a grossly distorted playing field:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Letter to "Poets & Writers"

To the Editor:
When I saw your new "Indy" issue I was ready to applaud your coverage of a literary movement long on the scene. However, your presentation of DIY is curiously truncated.

Where is mention of the major players of the Do-It-Yourself literary movement today? No Zine World, no Underground Literary Alliance, no Outsider Writers, no ZineWiki, no WeMakeZines. The historical overview Kimiko Hahn gives in her article has thrown the past 20 years of exciting DIY activity down an Orwellian memory hole. Where is mention of Factsheet 5 (either incarnation)? Or of unique DIY writing talents like Aaron Cometbus, Jen Gogglebox, Doug Holland, the Urban Hermitt, Bill Blackolive, Ann Sterzinger, and many others? Ms. Hahn hasn't done her homework. She mentions a "Chapbook" show-- apparently unaware of the hundreds of zine fairs, shows, and readings which have taken place, and continue to take place, this decade across the country.

Most mysterious of all, I can't find the word "zine" anywhere. (How-to-Make-a . . . Chapbook??)

Most of those involved in DIY see themselves as making ZINES, which encompass a range of talents-- art, graphics, DIY marketing and selling-- that traditional chapbooks only scantly embodied.

Real DIY is rooted in the punk happenings of the 70's and 80's. It carries forth that philosophy-- creating art apart from badges, institutions, gatekeepers, bureaucrats, and controllers. ("We don't need no stinkin' badges.")

Culture from the ground up. To paraphrase Zine World's motto, American literature belongs to everyone.

Karl Wenclas

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Che T-Shirt


Appropriation is the name of the game for the upper classes. If they want something, or want to be something or someone, they purchase it. They adopt a role as easily as buying a Che t-shirt. What they most desire is ownership.

This is how, for instance, rich guy Hiram F. "Rick" Moody III operates. "Daddy-Society, buy me that." In a recent Believer essay Moody decided he wished to be the next Antonin Artaud. "Voila!" American Express or Diner's Club? Antonin Artaud he's become.

The curious thing about it is that Artaud wanted to destroy the walls put up around art and artists; between artist and audience. Rick Moody lives surrounded by walls: institutional walls; class walls; walls of security and guards.

Twice I encountered the man when I led the ULA. I spoke up at events, from the audience. Briefly, I broke down walls. Both times security quickly shut me down.

They were exciting events! The kind of encounters the real Artaud would've loved. The second time, at the ULA's "Howl" protest in 2006, at Columbia's Miller Hall, I was with several notably crazed Artaud-like avant-garde characters whose lives and art consist of destroying walls-- "F.D.W." Walsh; Jelly Boy the Clown (whose sudden appearance onstage panicked the genteel audience); and surrealist underground novelist Patrick King. The Fake Artaud in a chair on the stage, Mr. Moody, sat silent while a cranky member of Moody's marionette entourage, one Phillip Lopate-- a rather red-faced marionette-- angrily denounced us.

The conflict released the bourgeoisie for a moment from their psychological fetters, but they didn't like this. We departed. Behind us the invisible walls slammed immediately down. The controlled puppets onstage and the controlled audience continued their stuffy, mind-wasting program.

We were denizens from the street thrown back to it. The difference between the two camps on that occasion was stark. No matter! For Columbia, ownership of "Howl" was more important than the spirit of the work. "Howl," or Ginsberg, or Artaud are objects they can place in a showcase, or lock in an airless room, or nail onto a wall like a trophy pelt.

These days the literary establishment has decided it wants DIY, and is busily moving to possess it.

Meanwhile the corpse of Antonin Artaud, absent of its spirit, can be found nailed to a wall at the controlled and clean offices of The Believer in San Francisco. First door past the lobby. They've got it! Bought; appropriated; credit card receipt in their hand; their name on the title.