Friday, October 29, 2010

New Look Blog

Take a look at the new look of

Dare you write and submit a pop story? Take the dare. This blog is no more or less read than a thousand other lit sites. The difference is that this blog represents the future of literature. YOU have the opportunity to get ahead of the pack. Place the bet.

The Illusion of Success

THE LITERARY WORLD TODAY is a place where everyone wins. It's like high school athletic competitions where every single participant receives a ribbon. Today everyone can get their febrile poem or story published someplace. This, actually, is all that 99.9% of current writers want-- the illusion of success instead of the reality. Every writer puts after their story or poem a long list of credits at this unread lit journal or that unread online lit site. Credentials layered upon credentials, all meaningless. Chests of medals worn by Communist bureaucrats, signifying nothing.

Meanwhile, as this takes place, a tiny well-connected clique gobble up the largesse, grants, advances, awards, and publicity which truly are important in deciding the direction of literary culture in this country.

Everyone is happy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Crisis Moment

See the Philly Zeen post,

The World Series begins tonight, and he’s not there. If anyone has suggestions about how to get the Phanatic out of his funk, please post them at Philly Zeen. This is important! Thanks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More About MFA Programs

Here's an article about MFA programs which dissects them thoroughly and well:

Where was Anis Shivani when the Underground Literary Alliance was presenting an alternative to the MFA system? The ULA was staging the revolutionary performance lit readings that Shivani asks for. It was a great-- and recent!-- history that was ruthlessly put down and is now completely ignored.

Do you want change, folks? Or not?

(Hat tip to Frank M. for letting me know about this article.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Marionettes

PEOPLE ask me if this blog is devoted to puppets, and I answer, Yes, indeed, it is! Since someone in a comment asked about two known literary puppets, and how they became such, I've decided to address the matter. Mind you, I don't have the full details of the story-- I'm certain the anonymous person who asked the question could provide more.
This is not the story of Pinocchio, which was how a puppet became a boy. This is a more tragic tale-- of how a boy became a puppet.

Toe isn't the main character of the story. He's not even the villain-- for of course the Puppetmaster pulling the strings behind the scenes is the villain.

Toe is only a marionette puppet. He was always a puppet, from the moment the Puppetmaster picked him out at the Puppet store, on sale, with big letters attached shouting out, "BUY ME!" Believe me, if the Puppetmaster hadn't got him for a bargain basement price he wouldn't have bothered. Toe was a garish-looking, untutored and unsmooth simple-minded puppet. The puppet's only possible appeal was its own brazenness.

Toe knew he was a flawed puppet, of inferior production and stock, and so needed a way to become useful to his master. Otherwise he'd be left forever backstage in his puppet box!

How to be useful?

A light went on inside his wooden head. He would help destroy the NPA, aka the No Puppets Alliance! This, back in 2005 or thereabouts, was how and why he maneuvered himself to meet Noe, who at the time was not a puppet at all.

Toe whispered in Noe's ear about how wonderful it was to be part of the Puppetmaster's traveling caravan, along with flashy other puppets such as Boe Boe, who was soon to run the new All Puppets All the Time APTML blog. (Unlike Toe, Boe Boe was one of the favored marionettes, and so didn't have to work so hard at all. His woodenheadedness was never an issue.)

See the colorful favored ones! Toe said to Noe. See how well they're treated! They're not independent. All is provided for!

Unknown to Noe, the Puppetmaster had already infiltrated two of his older falling apart and desperate to be useful puppets into the NPA, namely Hoe and Foe. Hoe and Foe whispered into Noe's ear about the wonderfulness of puppetry. Look at the wonderful examples! On display at this time was the most favored puppet of them all-- carrying somewhat of a resemblance to writer Jon Franzen, if truth be told, but with puppet eyeglasses which weren't stolen. Become a puppet, and you also can roll in money and puppet awards.

Sad to say, young Noe made the jump. He lost his independence. He didn't know that once you make the transformation, there's no turning back. Now sad Noe sits backstage gathering dust in a puppet box, all but forgotten. Despite his lack of a heart or a brain, Toe truly feels sad about what he did to Noe, and so will occasionally stop by after a performance to say Hello! And every once in a while-- coincidentally when the now-dissolved No Puppets Alliance shows signs of the weakest life-- Noe is allowed to prance onstage with the more favored, gleaming marionettes, to calliope music, if only for a moment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now Up!: New Blog Posts

FINALLY at long last a new story at the American Pop Lit home of new pop literature blog—“”Fake Face versus Big Boy”—Part One of the Big Boy Saga, an exciting mini-novel.

Fake Face is of course a duplicitous and evil character in the fictional but not-so fictional city of Killtown, who was introduced in two previous stories on the blog. Now he’s back! With a formidable new antagonist.


ALSO: A brand new post at my exclusive restricted-access marketing blog, for serious lit-biz people, a few remarks about social media, in a post titled, “Social Media.” And other new insights.

Access is easy—you must ask to be invited.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Renewing American Culture

The balkanization of American culture now being implemented is a strategy of weakness. The past idea was that there was one American culture made up of an amalgam of our society’s many influences. “Out of Many, One.” The rock n roll explosion in the 1950’s, for instance, came about through the melding of roots music’s many diverse influences. Chuck Berry’s first hit, “Maybelline,” was a reworking of a country tune. Cowboy singer Bill Haley began singing rhythmn and blues. The idea was always to create an art which would reach the entire market. This was the goal of Berry Gordy Jr. when he created Motown with the slogan, “The Sound of Young America.” Create an American literature with this ethos and the balkanized mainstream brand which truly reaches no one will quickly fall apart.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Decline of American Culture


Here’s the link to one of the forum discussions I started regarding Molly Norris:

Note that there’s more commitment to vague and childish notions of multiculturalism than to free expression in the zine community. Which is scary. From the 1970’s through the 90’s, zinesters were THE most radical defenders and promoters of uninhibited free speech in the nation.

What happened to them? Where are the anarchists? The punks? The Chomskyites? It’s as if all have been brainwashed. Multiculturalism is a globalist/imperialist ethos originally propagated by gigantic multi-national corporations whose commitment to their home base long ago became secondary. Now the ethos has woven its way through the political system, the educational system, to the bottom-most levels of the culture.

Where are the Zine World: A Reader’s Guide to the Underground Press editors and writers in the Molly Norris debate? For fifteen years this flagship publication has pushed the primacy of free speech at the beginning of every issue, particularly to young high school-age readers. For all we know, cartoonist Molly Norris may well have been one of those readers and imbibed from the zine free speech philosophy. Where are the Zine World writers and editors now?? It’s as if they themselves have gone into hiding.

As you’ll see if you click on the attached link, the We Make Zines forum has almost three thousand readers. Yet not a one of them was able to step forward and announce support for Molly Norris. How easily we abandon our most fundamental rights.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Martyrs for Free Speech


I see there's a big scandal in the sports world involving a sports agent. ESPN has freely covered the story, even though one of their own guys, Mel Kiper, is implicated by association. Mel Kiper engaged in no illegal actions, yet is on the hot seat. The fact is that sports, of all cultural realms, is way better at policing itself than the insular world of literature. In lit, everything is silenced.

I've called big names like Jonathan Franzen corrupt and still call them corrupt. I've gone after questionable acts by the well-connected big money-backed likes of Paris Review, PEN, and National Endowment for the Arts. Throughout, many law firms have read this blog, yet I've received not so much as a single letter from one of them about what I've written. You know why? Because IT'S ALL TRUE.

Meanwhile, other writers, except a handful, across the board, have remained silent about corruption, even when it hurts themselves. It no longer surprises me, just as it didn't surprise me when I encountered the same kind of reaction regarding the Molly Norris matter.

Molly's idea to have a Draw Muhammed Day was naive. Her idea was that if ten thousand, or a million, or 300 million Americans were to join in, it'd be impossible for extremist anti-free speech blackmailer fanatics to issue fatwas. They'd have to kill everyone. What Molly didn't bank on was the gutlessness of the American public-- particularly of writers and artists.

The Islamists well sense this gutlessness. They're encouraged by cowardice. It's a chief motivating factor behind their behavior. They believe America is a corrupt, decadent, weakening civilization. They know there will not be martyrs for free speech-- that we don't believe in our own principles enough to die for them and they're aware that we scarcely anymore believe in anything.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Static or Dynamic?


The hardest thing for people to accept is that we don’t live in a static world. We want things to stay as they are—but that’s not the nature of life! One advantage I have from having lived many years in Detroit is having the truth of change pounded into me as I watched the destruction of my world. What were we told as the city declined, jobs vanished, our world collapsed? “Change or die!”

In every aspect of life we see death and renewal. We see continual change. Those who’ve sought to maintain a static economy, for instance, have been destroyed with that economy. As historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote, by 1980 the Soviet Union had constructed the best late-19th century economy on the planet.

One has to understand that the world consists of constant upheaval.

Today people are thrown by “climate change.” There always is climate change. There’s always been.


Art in particular—the leading edge of culture—has through history progressed by creative destruction. Destroy the old to create the new. Those who fail to recognize this are themselves destroyed. Witness classical music. Symphonies are in trouble across the country. In every way, from financing to styles to instrumentation, they’re unable to compete. Their model no longer works. Protecting that model from competition has made things worse. True innovation—revolutionary upheaval—hasn’t occurred. It hasn’t been allowed to occur. Or, it occurred—outside the system’s walls.

The same situation applies to literature.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The ULA Story

This Friday, October 8, marks the 10-year anniversary of the Hoboken weekend meeting of six zinesters which created the now-defunct Underground Literary Alliance.

I mark the brief literary rebellion as analagous to the 1905 rebellion in Czarist Russia. In similar fashion, the ULA campaign faced enormous hostility, and was soon enough put into place. Its leaders were effectively silenced, despite the brief noise they made.

My mistake was in not realizing that revolution-- even cultural revolution-- can't be sparked from below.

A study of history instead shows that revolutions, from 1789 to 1917 to even the toppling of the Soviet Union, are in fact, at least in the initial stages, coups. Both the French king and Russian czar in their respective situations decapitated themselves, abdicating because they lacked the will to fight. They were uncertain Montezumas who didn't believe in themselves or their station. Actual revolution occurred as a result of their actions, could take place only because there was no head; no direction for the herd to follow, and so the animals went into panic.

Why do I still believe something similar can occur in the American literary world?

Because the institutions of the aristocrats are crumbling. When the props of the system, like The New Yorker and the New York Times, go under-- and they will go under-- then all will be up for grabs. The current leaders of the scene will abdicate. The book publishing machine will go on, but the front of artistic justification will be gone.

What of the aristos? I've studied these people. I've watched them up close; their special in-bred caste. They're not very sharp, and are burdened with a kind of complacent inertia, a mental lethargy in the presence of new ideas.
The ULA itself sits unmoving like a car on a white-trash lawn or driveway, hood up, engine gone. I have no idea whether it'd be worth it to try to repair and restore the damaged thing-- or if an entirely new and vastly better vehicle should be created.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Change the Model

I’VE SHOWN that the current model of American literature is broken and corrupt. It doesn’t fit the needs of society or the art. That the enormous moldy and bureaucratized system can on occasion by straining every aspect of its crumbling empire create a modest success shouldn’t blind us to its overall failure. The success doesn’t justify the gigantic resources put into it.  If there were any real competition to things-as-they-are, the failure would be shown in stark contrast.

Literature needs a new model, a new vehicle, new kinds of art exciting and striking enough to attract the public. It needs writers with the vision to leave the herd behind and set out on a daring and uncertain path. Great achievements await at the end of that path. Writers first need to scrap their moldy indoctrinated assumptions about literature and art. They’ve blindly bought everything they’ve been told by their teachers but what they’ve been told, what everyone’s been told about lit the last few decades, has been wrong.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Latest News!

I'll be reading some poetry this Sunday October 3 as part of the Mad Poets Festival in downtown Media. See
I'm scheduled to go on at 2:15. I'll be on for five minutes, which is enough, as long as any poet should be allowed to read. I hope to surprise, enlighten, and entertain while I'm at the podium.

I'll also be taking notes, possibly taking a snapshot or two and doing a mini-interview or two for my new blog. (See below.)

I have a new blog post up at my "private" blog at
The subject of the post is radio and what might be learned from a particular show.

I have a new Philly blog at
part of new experiments I'm running. We'll see how this one goes!