Monday, December 31, 2007

Literary Rebellion 2008

NEW LITERATURE like all new art can't be confined to institutions. The literary revolution underway is greater than conglomerates or MFA programs. Only by breaking out of the current system can one see literature for what it truly is: a great moving transcendent art.

Those inside the system are blind to what's happening. Their institutional walls mirror the aesthetic walls erected around their brains.

Can one live inside the walls and understand what happens outside them?

Can living art be catalogued and confined, quantified and put into a box?

One can't be revolutionary, an advocate of new literature, without breaking from the institutional walls of the old. Non-criticism of the status quo means you still are one with that status quo. You haven't broken with the present and so are unable to build a new future. Instead you're co-opted, subsumed, consumed by what is now-- the rigidly dead and decaying corpse of literature now. You're one with a corpse.

The Underground Literary Alliance is a vehicle for that which is literary and revolutionary. Nothing more.

To break with the present and become part of the new world of literature means embracing the historical break that has taken place-- a break in time, visible, which occurred on October 8, 2000; the onset of literary rebellion, of an upturned and renewed literary world.

The literary revolution can't be destroyed. It's an idea, an energy-- not a building or one person or group of persons. The flag has been planted. The break recorded. The call for new literature documented.

If the vehicle of the movement stalls and crashes, the movement continues anyway.

If the members of the cause are betrayed, or betray their own cause, yet the movement continues anyway.

The basis of the new movement is truth, honesty, integrity, independence, cooperation, commitment, desire for change and unflinching FEARLESSNESS in implementing that change in pursuit of revived literature-- literature not of dead words and borrowed postures but living art.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas?

REMEMBER the homeless person in the wheelchair I wrote about a couple months ago?

This morning I was walking through the burned-out outskirts of downtown Detroit on a bitterly cold day-- bitterly cold-- when I saw said person in wheelchair vanish inside a niche of an abandoned building; seeking shelter from the relentless wind. A quickly-moving bundled figure in a chair. There are parts of Detroit that would move Charles Dickens to tears of frustration for exceeding in tragedy anything he depicted.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Essay Awaited

Next up from the McSweeney's Gang: An apologia for record-setting baseball player Roger Clemens saying he may not actually be lying about his steroid use-- where's the definitive proof?-- and it's excusable anyway because everyone else is doing it! Success is All.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ten Landmark Movies

Here's my list, in historical order, of ten movies which came with the "shock of the new"; whose impact was greater than we can experience today. They redefined the art of film in this country-- for good or ill.

1.) The Great Train Robbery.
2.) Birth of a Nation.
3.) The Jazz Singer.
4.) Citizen Kane.
5.) The Robe.
6.) Psycho.
7.) Goldfinger.
8.) Bonnie and Clyde.
9.) Star Wars.
10.) Pulp Fiction.

This is a prelude to my next movie list, which will be less obvious and will come with explanations: The Ten Best Movies of All Time.

Movies: "The Godfather"

Remember the plot?

The Don won't compromise his principles. The other families are angry and put a hit on him, while trying to destroy his organization from within. Betrayals are common.

It's almost a history of the Underground Literary Alliance.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Open Mic

I checked out a decent open mic last night at a place called Beaner's on Woodward in Royal Oak, about five miles from Detroit. A report upcoming next week on my new Detroit blog.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I've stepped down as Publicity Director of the ULA until further notice. I'll not give my labor for free to those who'll betray it.

I remain as a Supporting Member, as I support the ULA mission, the web site and most of the current membership, the Philly branch particularly.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Coup Plotter #2:
He's a "can't we all just get along" kind of person, and presumably blames me for the dissension we've had in the team, people who've left, and so on. He doesn't realize that people leaving happens in any organization. I've seen more people come and leave in my present job than in seven years of the ULA. Conflicts will happen-- especially in an outfit whose mission is rebellion.

I've had time to think about the question of leadership-- when a leader is necessary. I've sought the ULA to have role models, not leaders.

Without leaders a group can operate ONLY in the spirit of cooperation-- which is not how Coup Plotter #1 has been operating.

Every revolution in history has had leaders-- which may mean in the final analysis nothing more than someone there to take the heat, which has been my role in my seven years as unofficial leader of the ULA. Someone out front to receive the inevitable brickbats. During this period I've tried several times to push someone else to the forefront. There were never any takers. It takes a certain kind of personality to take the responsibility and take the heat. A revolt-- even a literary revolt-- is going to generate heat. In many ways that's the point.

Have I riled people? Many many people. I have enemies all over the place. It comes with the territory-- with daring to make real change.

Revolutions have tried to move without leaders, or a series of leaders. The French Revolution failed because it had no overarching unifying force like a George Washington. Men like Danton and Robespierre took their turns but were swept aside by the conflicts and heat, the madness of those who could not keep their heads while making change and so lost them literally.

What dilemmas did someone like Robespierre face? He started as a man of peace and of utter integrity, then faced a choice between losing the revolution or compromising his ideals as the Revolution was assaulted from all sides; betrayed from within and attacked from outside. Easy enough for us to sneer at him from the outside, through the pages of history books, without understanding the choices he faced.

The same can probably be said for Castro in our own time. Yes, he's a monster, a ruthless dictator; hardly a saint. He's imprisoned many people. Why? Attacked from without and within-- he could either act or lose the revolution, what he'd created. One can agree or disagree with his cause but at the same time recognize that the moment he caves in to the U.S. and the monopolies that experiment is over. It will be dismantled, piece by piece, becoming swiftly enough what it was before he came on the scene-- a Disney amusement park for the corrupt and the monied.

I'm trying to prevent the ULA from being co-opted and destroyed. . . .

What kind of ULA will remain if the coup plotters succeed?

There will be no leaders, certainly; not a trace of a leader. no decision making. No actions done which create any waves. It will separate into fiefdoms feeding on the remains of the ULA's reputation. There will be no one to generate-- or take-- any heat, and so it will stagnate into just one more on-line place for conversation and back-slapping, while the two coup plotters recede safely into the background, satisfied there is no longer any noise.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Coup

I knew it was coming, in some ways willed it to happen.

I had left Philadelphia to give the campaign and myself some breathing space-- to lower the ULA's profile and give us a chance to regroup.

Remember what happened? The opposite of what I'd expected. Interest in this rebellion from our rivals and enemies suddenly went up. They smelled weakness and blood. I was attacked on "Gawker," of all places, and by others on this blog, the first visible interest in it in months. I played with this. I was experiencing real personal difficulties after my move. I wrote about them here, as readers know. I decided, "Let the sharks come out, from outside and within. Let them reveal themselves." The ULA seemed up for grabs.

In fact I've received many e-mails from likely and unlikely sources. From the ever-egregious Ed Rants, a System stooge through-and-through, urging me to quit the battle. From a McSweeneyite contact back east trying to find out where I was, what I was up to, and when I'd be back. Even from a prominent magazine editor in New York, friend of one of our major foes, prodding the apparently-dead corpse.

A maneuver was coming-- I only needed to wait for it.

(Next: The WHY of the matter.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Apparently a coup of sorts has taken place within the ULA, which has left me with no say in the organization I created. Consider me under internal "house arrest" at the present time. (Whether I can reverse this remains to be seen.)

In the meantime I'll be practicing my spoken word presentation-- instead of always winging things-- in preparation for becoming a solo act!

Monday, December 03, 2007


This is how I feel:

As if we've defeated over the years a series of the world's most evil and clownish villians-- the Joker, the Penguin, Doc Octopus, the Mummy, etc.-- and suddenly the entire group of them is brought back at once in front of our eyes.

Or, picture a line-up of eight jack-in-the-boxes popping up at once at the same point in the ridiculous music, all with the same painted-on idiotic grin.

Those to whom this refers will know what I'm talking about. Pardon me if I try to put you back in your boxes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

ULA Opportunities

2008 will be a good year for the ULA because the entire game board is open to us. Right now, Chicago is an open city-- a huge prize without the obstacles we've faced in the east. We have a base of sorts in Chicago-- a few great members; a couple media contacts-- but we need to strengthen it. I'm well-positioned in Detroit to access both Cleveland (a ULA base) and the jewel waiting to be taken that is Chicago. This I'll be doing.
(p.s. There's a great "ULA Monday Report" by Chicago-area writer Adam Hardin at Check it out.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Blog

Check it out at


I've never felt truly alive unless I'm facing a challenge. Back against the wall.

Too many writers-- zine people for instance-- allow themselves to become stuck in a mental box or niche, a cozy place from which they never progress. The years pass and they keep cranking out more issues of "Macaroni," #812. Which is fine if that's all you want.

To leave a mark your projects have to constantly mutate and grow, artistically. This is the task of the Underground Literary Alliance-- to keep our core attitude and message yet keep moving and changing. This is our challenge.

We have a great history but it's only that. New moves are required.

I look out from our tiny outpost of Truth and Integrity on the literary map and see us surrounded by opponents on all sides. Massed armies. Yet at the same time I see their weakness; paths through them to their cardboard fortresses standing like stage scenery within sight. I feel in some small way how Cortez nust've felt with his band of brigands in a golden city in an alien land, surrounded by a magnificent opposing army of many thousands yet knowing victory was his if he kept his head and met the awe-inspiring challenge.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Typical Lit Site

"The cat sits
in the rain
Fuck Matt Damon."
-by Glitzy

"Brilliant." -Trash Mouth
"Awesome!" -D.J.

"The dog
-by Trash Mouth

"Awesome." -Glitzy
"Brilliant!" -D.J.

"I am a baseball
-by D.J.

"I didn't know you wrote poetry!" -Glitzy
"Brilliant! Awesome!" -Trash Mouth

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


On the verge of dropping completely off the radar screen and vanishing into the muck of a beaten-down city I've become again what I used to be: a genuine underground writer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Good News

The good news is that the Underground Literary Alliance is alive and well. Overall 2007 was a successful year for us. 2008 will be better.

The Truth Tellers

IN A LAND where literary Overdogs from the monied classes glory in their own duplicity; where literary bureaucrats beneath them, who I call Demi-Puppets, live insulated in their sinecured offices amazingly obtuse about the realities of America while obsessed not with art but with grammatical trivialities and editorial control over writers-- the bland-faced living definition of mediocrities-- where newspapers even the "alternative" kind in cities like Detroit suffering from economic depression and financial collapse are printed with large glowing Happy Faces on their covers; in this societally-mad situation only writers in the underground as represented in the ULA and elsewhere will give you an inkling of WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why I Write

I write to change the culture. I believe in cultural revolution-- in writing as a vehicle to bring about change. Real change. Transformational change. I'm involved with the Underground Literary Alliance in order to change literature. Not just change literature-- transform it, from top to bottom. I believe literature can rescue this society but first we have to rescue literature.

I don't know why others write. They seem to be stuck in holding patterns, believing that if they write long enough something will magically drop from the sky for them. If they just keep writing someone will recognize them. But that's not life. You have to make the world recognize you-- have to grab it.

The time for change is now. Not some ill-defined unspecified never-mentioned time that will never arrive. The time is NOW.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


What I ask from the world is the freedom to write. I left the last decent job I had at the end of 1999 because I couldn't write. It was an always-on-call seven-day-a-week seventy-hour workweek position which left me no energy or time or space in my mind to write. I couldn't write! I was burning out brain cells processing stupefyingly dull paperwork submitting government-specified according-to-regulation entries for shipper clients and I never could write. As I worked I had many things in the back of my mind I wanted to write about. I created the ULA the spectre or first idea of the ULA back there, back in the untouched segments of my brain I wasn't using. Back in the tiny hectic riverfront office where I spent all my time.

Now I work shitty jobs part-time which don't pay my bills but I have some freedom. I write every day. I should be writing novels, could write some good ones but that's too draining when you still have to work but at least I'm writing, something. Even this. I yet have a little freedom.

I'm like the character I created Alex Skarski who just wanted to play her guitar the right way, except I'm not a guitarist, I'm a writer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Manifesto of Writing

My manifesto: I believe in literature. I'm part of the cult of fanatic madness of reading and writing. I believe words can save people. They saved me. When I was working nights in a railroad yard in the Eighties a young man with no course in life I read the words of giants like Dickens and Hugo and Dumas and Tolstoy and they saved me. I opened books in a tower while waiting for trains and the universe expanded. It multiplied in front of me. The great books expanded my mind.

Other writers are my brothers and sisters, yea, truly. They understand-- some of them understand-- this fanatic creed we've adopted, this cult of reading and writing. Literature is a religion if it reaches down into your soul; if it expresses the soul of life you see around you; if it shapes and explains your world and gives voice to your yearnings, your thoughts, your existence, your meaning.

Monday, November 12, 2007


My take on Norman Mailer is still up at the Literary Mystery blog, in Chapter Four. (He appears near the end of the chapter.)

It can be found at

What's Wrong with This Picture?

All this fall at libraries around the country, the ALA ( had displays up about "Banned Books." One of the books depicted on the display poster was The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Clearly visible on the cover of the book as shown on the poster were the words, "Nine Months on New York Times Best Seller List."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

About ULA Shows

I just saw this recent remark from Jackie Corley's blog ( )

"I like the ULA. I don’t agree with them all the time, but I like them. I did a ULA reading a couple years ago in this anarchist bar in Philly and it was probably the best lit event I’ve ever been to. All the readers varied in their writing and performance styles and that’s not something you see at most readings. Like, there were slam poets mixed in with short story writers, guys who were so sucked into their words that they spat and shouted their lines and guys who read in a straight monotone. There were just all different types of people. It felt very spontaneous, a little bit lunatic asylum. It was great."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now Up! "Part III"

The Conclusion of the short story "Bluebird" has finally been posted at

I wrote the story merely to prove a point but it turned into more than I bargained for.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deleted Sentence

(Knocked out of Part II of my story "Bluebird.")

"Brent was like a survey of men's magazines: hair, cologne, suits, shirts, and ties; but nowhere to be seen a trace of an idea."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Now Up!-- "Bluebird" Part I

The first installment of my new fiction story, "Bluebird," is now up at:
The other two sections will be posted in the next two weeks, as time allows.

It's the story of a rock band.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Open, Sesame"

THE ACCEPTANCE by writers of the literary world's caste system is akin to the European masses who for generations blindly accepted the Divine Right of Kings. The aristocrats have everything and we have nothing because that's just the way it is. Their wealth, armies, and castles. . . .

The result is that, all literary bluebloods like Mr. Moody have to do is say the magic words, "Open, Sesame," and everything is handed to them.

Lo! the huge cover story in Bust magazine, copies strategically placed at chain store entrances, about rich Mayflower brat Miranda July.

The article, needless to say, is a complete unquestioning puff piece, full of gushy-gush golly gee isn't this great! kind of writing, the "journalist" too thrilled being in the presence of royalty to turn on her brain and think. If Miranda were wearing a dildo the Bust writer would've crawled under the table and tried to swallow it. I would not for one moment doubt this occurred.

Who are we to question the way the literary world operates? We lowly workers and peasants? This is the way things are done, time and again. That Miranda July hasn't a speck of talent-- no matter. All one has to do is compare her stupendously shallow New Yorker story "Roy Spivey" about sitting next to a celebrity during a plane flight with a story about a plane ride by a real writer, "Girl on a Plane" by Mary Gaitskill, to notice the stark, cavernous, distance-between-galaxies difference.

Who are we to judge? It's not as if such literary farces don't occur every day-- the well-backed movie version of Susan Minot's bland Valium-level Evening being stocked with every prominent actress in Hollywood from Meryl Streep on down.

The most amazing part of it all, simply astoundingly amazing, is that the delicate blueblood aristocrats accept the hype and accolades as their due without a smirk (which at least Dave Eggers has the sense to offer as he puts one over on the reading public.). Poor waifish rich girl Miranda rose immediately to the top of the heap because, well, I guess because she deserved to. Not a thought, not a momentarily flashed lightbulb, turns on in her brain to alert her that something's wrong with the picture. She stands before the flashbulbs of million-dollar hype as stupidly as Fluffy the blue-furred Persian at the local cat show.

Similarly, Rick Moody accepts grant money because I guess he needs it. Or could spend it. On a new car. Or a painting (wait, that's Franzen) or a trip to Europe or something.

The literary aristocrats are as unquestioning of the stratified nature of today's society and today's lit world as the unquestioning peasants, and so are at least as stupid. "Open, Sesame!"

This civilization, certainly the part of it concerned with literature, beyond the lies of its ideals and corrupted myths, is like a casino within which every game of chance is egregiously rigged.

For starters, have that $80,000 entrance fee ready or whatever it costs to obtain an MFA degree.

Somehow you make it inside the door along with the other suckers. You notice the colorful red-and-black roulette wheels are tilted. At the poker tables everyone knows one another-- except an empty chair strategically placed for the newly arrived rube: you. Can the dealer be trusted? I don't think so-- she resembles Maud Newton. In her distracted moments she seems to be listening via a receiver in her ear to instructions from above the floor.

The slot machines filling the room in endless rows, manned by thousands of MFA grads, never seem to payout. Oh, there's one. It gave back a handful of quarters.

What a joke of a place, you think. A waste of time and money. At least they have entertainment! You walk into a huge room to await the floor show. Out step Rick Moody and Miranda July in top hats and tails to do a little soft shoe. Their voices are weak and off-key. They stumble around, dropping their canes. Several stooge Bust and New Yorker magazine plants in the audience pretend to love it. Everyone else stares in bemusement, or incomprehension, stunned by the gall of it all. You notice half of the audience has left-- you're not far behind them.

Back among the slot machines, you blankly push money into one of them. Relief from the trauma of the comical truth. You notice Miranda July next to you on her break has decided to try one also. She pulls the lever once. A rush of noise: a tremendous payout. With no embarrassment she scoops the money into her top hat and winks at you.

"Open, Sesame," she says, then departs.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Eye Opener

INTERESTING to see over the past weeks the extent to which I'm reviled by much of the literary community. It's been just when I've been knocked down by life to one knee that characters have run out of the shadows to take shots at me: a poet; "Gawker" and his foppish NY acolytes; and a prominent member of the lit-blogger community. (On the previous post; others.) Funny that when I've been around to engage in debate they've had nothing to say, for the most part.

A curious phenomenon. The writer Fran Upman experienced something similar recently when going through personal difficulties and trying to step back from her blogging. Then-- then!-- do the carrion come into the daylight. In both cases, prematurely.

I'm generally blackballed. Lit-bloggers who apparently read this site won't deign to link to it. In their minds that'd give public recognition to its ideas. An entire organization exists whose prime motivating force seems to be resentment of me. You'd think I'm this great terrible threat to literature, controlling millions of dollars of resources, generating millions of dollars of false hype and publicity; awarding seven-figure advances to utter mediocrities or making decisions about what grant money is awarded to which writers. I've been built up in somebody's head to be a large and powerful entity.

Yet in reality, all I have is my voice. That's it. I own nothing in this world-- nothing beyond a duffel bag of clothing. (And thus, approach the John-the-Baptist ideal of a raggedy voice in the wilderness.) For the last few years I've been living out of that duffel bag.

What's happening?

First, I've been made aware by the armies of literary darkness that I'll be granted no quarter. The tiny outpost of outspokenness which the ULA represents, our insignificant band of literary rebels, is hemmed in on all sides, outnumbered exponentially by numerous evil legions. If the group quickly decouples itself from me, they'll be spared. I'm the sacrifice. Am I being hyperbolic? Only slightly! It's clear that once out of the ULA I'll be nothing more than a brief chapter of deleted history; shoved down the memory hole; banished because I've antagonized the powers-that-be. The literary nobles will grant amnesty to some (not many, I'd wager) but not to the chief instigator.

Second-- and in this case I'm not at all exaggerating-- what we see are manifestations of the intolerance of dissent which exists in the literary community. Can anyone doubt this? The problem which the blacklisters, or Gawker, or OW people, or Daniel Green have isn't with me-- I'm nobody with not a shred, not a microdot, of power-- but with this very blog you're reading. They'll be satisfied only when it's silenced-- not even then, because it's when I've begun posting less regularly that their distemper increases.

Read this blog's archives. What's its crimes? Nothing more-- nothing less-- than to expose literary corruption and engage writers with ideas; to inform, stir, motivate, or outrage. To cause people to think!

Such contrary activity can't be tolerated in this day and age.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


LET NO ONE DOUBT That Philadelphia is the home base of the Underground Literary Alliance-- and of myself. I've planted enough roots in Philly to ensure my ongoing presence.

HOWEVER, at the same time I'm operating more under the radar and with wider scope than previously.

There's nothing to hide about my strategy. Here it is:

A.) Philly will operate as a hub from which ULAers can radiate out, with excursions not just to New York City, but to other east coast cities and to points west: Boston; Baltimore; D.C.; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Detroit; Chicago; Athens Georgia; Austin Texas; and beyond. Soon enough, the west coast. We can't allow ourselves to be cooped-up in one spot.

B.) My returns to Philadelphia from journeys will be with reinforcements and/or resources to strengthen our base and make us stronger viz-a-viz our competitors.

C.) I'm allowing for more sophisticated tactics from ULA opponents, who'll become more ruthless as our success proceeds. They're not beyond arranging attacks on themselves in attempts to discredit us. After all: what happened at Penn's World Cafe a while back. Alter-egos? Copycats? Something else??

Daniel Handler went out of his way to let me know he'll be in Philly in October for the McSweeneyite 215 Festival. I can be entrapped in nothing if I'm not in town. I won't be when whatever is set-up to occur goes down.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Abandoned City, Abandoned People

IN MY UNIQUELY CRAZED WAY I believe a writer isn't doing his job unless he's in a struggle for survival.

That seems to be anyway, accidentally or intentionally, how I've lived much of my life, jumping again and again from a tolerable situation into one less safe.

Fitting if I feel beaten down lately by circumstances-- not to mention maliciously mocked and attacked by Manhattan establishment fops and pseudo-underground stool pigeons alike. Fitting that I'm staying for the moment in the Beaten-Down City.

What a tragic place!-- a sad comedy whose streets scream with loss and pain. The City's downtown is very beautiful actually. The moving river is full of soul and beauty. Buildings surrounding the river gleam. All downtown lacks is people. The rest of the city is in ruins, the remains of half-a-century of boomtown industrial wealth followed by half-a-century of relentless failure.

There is much to write about here-- part of the reason I returned is to rediscover myself as a writer. I should start with my journey from Philly. First, though, a short image, because it strongly affected me.

Every day I pass through once-glamorous Grand Circus Park on the way to my new job-- how temporary a job I can't say. At night I walk again through the park on my way back to where I'm staying. During the day the weather is sunny; the west side of the park's semi-circle, where the fountain is, is surrounded by loitering street people, the discarded residue of society. One afternoon a bundled up figure in a wheelchair-- man or woman; probably woman-- had parked itself against the fountain. A single brown hand from the multi-hued rags extended itself into the coolness of the rippling urban fountain, on this hot September day. I sat on the rim of the walkway which surrounds the fountain, building my energy and courage to face trying to prove myself at a new workplace with strange-to-me people. This old dog hasn't been completely up to speed. I sat for thirty minutes, chilling, one could say, in the sun, until it was time to leave. All the while the brown hand in the fountain extending from a bundle of rags in a wheelchair remained. Young men smirked to themselves, old men slept, crackheads chortled and exclaimed, beggars walked past, the sun beat on us all, and the bundled up raggedy figure in the wheelchair by the side of the fountain remained.

Last night walking home in darkness, the city silent, deserted, with no Tigers baseball game to momentarily fill nearby streets, I noticed that activists had erected throughout the park, on the grass on both sides of Woodward Ave, small white tombstones to represent American dead military people from the ongoing permanent war in the Mideast. I paused to glance at some of the names before continuing.

The area around the fountain was empty now save for one solitary figure in a wheelchair, facing the rim-like barrier, back to fountain, head tilted, sleeping, inside its layers of rag-like clothing. What a life!

A forgotten soul. Somewhere people laughed, drank, ate, partied, among glowing lights, yet in the silent darkness of the once-glamorous but now seedy park the most forgotten person in the most forgotten city sat alone outside with no place to go, apart, sleeping. Alone in a deserted city containing miles of desolation. The image was heart-breaking. The conjunction of this civilization's realities shook me: the remembrance of dead, the ruins of a once-great American metropolis; the abandoned core, price paid for war, greed, and empire.

If I'm back here in this toughest of spots, hardest of cities, maybe it's for a reason: to serve as witness on stray occasions to this huge and terrible nation's real stories.

Tinfoil Hats

"The Central Intelligence Agency controls everyone of any importance in the major media."
-William Colby, former CIA Director.

Is this a thing of the past? Gee, I don't know-- what do you do with someone like Anderson Cooper, who not only is the son of recently deceased billionaire Gloria Vanderbilt, but interned with the CIA for two summers in a row while a student at Yale. Cooper decided against a career with the Agency (so he says), but has had a spectacular and interesting career-- including as a student at the University of Vietnam, where he went after Yale.

IS Anderson Cooper so talented that based simply on his own abilities he rose quickly at a young age to the very top of the heap of mass media, in his current role at CNN? Why are so many other "stars" of the conglomerates like John Stoessel, or Alexandra Pelosi (who served six years "in the trenches" at NBC before publishing a book) the offspring of very wealthy and connected individuals?

Many undergrounders don't want to know-- don't bother them with this information; disclosures about the true nature of the society in which they live; even about their own realm of literature. Things are okay as is, according to some of them; they're content to remain impoverished and unknown, while the Overdogs own and control, well, everything.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


RECENTLY I went to New York City for the day on personal business. What I saw different from eight months prior: further fast-paced gentrification. The city has become too expensive for all but the affluent. Even many barmaids are on trust funds. Stop in any saloon or cafe across the city and you'll encounter only gentry. Of the once-gritty Bowery around CBGB's there's not a trace. The character of the area has been destroyed.

Literary scene? There is no literary scene. There's not one bar in the entire island of seven million people of Manhattan where patrons talk about books and literature. (There are several spots where the business of publishing is the topic of conversation.) There are no humbly compelling dives where a Jack London (or Steve Kostecke) carrying a duffel bag, cocky grin on his face, would be liable to walk through the door and tell you he's a writer. (All "writers" in this city are poseurs and wannabes.)

New York can't in any stretch of the imagination be called a literary city. Other than a few staid events at chain bookstores, there are few literary happenings. The two major "alternative" papers, Village Voice and New York Press, on the day I was there, contained no information about poetry open mics. These two papers anyway are thin ghosts of what they were even six years ago.

Boom town New York, flooding with money and rich people, is destroying its roots. No more will there be an East Village haven for bohemians. Struggling writers and artists could never survive in the once great cultural city. No O. Henry or Bob Dylan are possible. Future just-arrived Madonnas will find no flea-bag hotels to stay at, because even the flea bag hotels are pricey.

Underground artists need look for another neighborhood in another city as focal point. The question is where that will be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gone Underground

Hints about where I'm going ("parts unknown") and what I'm up to will appear here, or more likely, eventually, on the Literary Mystery blog.

Note: The ULA PO Box is temporarily suspended.

Have a happy Labor Day everyone.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Joseph Conrad


This novel of Conrad's could be a depiction of the United States now with its castes and exploitive monopolists. Of New York City, multi-colored and segregated with vast differences between rich and poor, most of all.

The book is from the point-of-view of the educated blancos, aka the oligarchs. The narrative is with them as they shoot rifles from windows at revolutionaries in the streets below. To them, the rest of the population of their country is an unthinking mass; an indecipherable mob.

The young blancos may be cynically ironic dilettantes like Martin Decoud, or narcissistically ambitious careerists like the newly arrived British engineers. What unites them is their inability to see anyone outside their privileged circles.

What protects them is the layer of white workers insulating the oligarchy from the underclass; most particularly, the Italian boss of the stevedores Nostromo. By the end of the novel this admirable hero realizes he's been used; that in saving the wealthy but weak aristocrats, squelching the uprising against them, he's destroyed himself.

The ULA has encountered modern-day Nostromos who in fighting against us have really fought against themselves. They obtained from the oligarchs of the literary establishment as a result only crumbs. (Should I name them?) We've also seen divisive stratagems used against us, by duplicitous slumming oligarchs, as they're used against the rebels in the book. Their goal: to push all thought of literary revolution out of the heads of underground writers-- to have them absurdly renounce rebellion!-- keeping them compliant and powerless members of a little-seen herd. Literary peasants with no seat at the tableof literature; unacknowledged and unheard.

I wonder: how do today's literary oligarchs, grouped around elite "silver mine" power centers like PEN or the conglomerates-- making pronouncements of cluelessness at their clubby parties and salons-- view themselves? Does a Francine Prose have a trace of self-knowledge? What do they see when they read Conrad's book?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On Success

It's been a tough month for writers. . . .

I was thinking of the possible reasons a person would write.
--To influence the society and culture;
--To plant a flag of difference to influence future generations;
--To create work which moves or stirs readers-- which is the same thing as my first reason;
--To create lasting art.

Nowhere on my list is money, career, or positions of importance: current barometers of success.

I've long ago learned to live without money. On the few occasions I've had some I got rid of it as quickly as possible, as if it were a disease I had to flush out of my system. Material possessions for the most part aren't my thing.

It'd be nice to have a measure of security. I wish for it often, and complain to myself that most of the time I exist on a week to week basis. Yet if I had security, I might likely chuck it over on a whim for new risk, new adventure, as I did when I left a respectable job in Detroit to come east to foment literary rebellion.

I've oversold the ULA to some extent, through necessity, giving many downtrodden writers hope. Hope!-- that without which no artist can live; hope which has yet to be fulfilled. I'm well aware of my failures. Yet I know the current system is rotten through and through, in slow, irresistible collapse. When I study the possibilities, up, down, and sideways, I see no other option for American literature than the ideas, energy, and writing of the Underground Literary Alliance.

For myself, the one possession in this world I retain is my artistic integrity. This I won't give up. I kept it through tougher times than these; it'd be silly to get rid of it now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Can Literature Be Taught?

This morning I read "The Secret Sharer" by Joseph Conrad.

I'd read it once before, in my early 20's when taking a college English course, but I hadn't gotten anything out of the tale then but the hammered obvious point about the "double" or "doppleganger."

Reading it then was for me a waste. I was too young, too inexperienced in reading and life, to understand it. The story is very subtle. I didn't appreciate or see its subtleties, its depths, its hard-won experiences.

It's the worst kind of story to teach and discuss. Far better to discuss Jack London, who paints his tales with broader sweeps of noisy color. Better to discuss other of Conrad's tales. "Typhoon," which acts on a more concrete level, with a simpler, yet admirable, lead character, would be more apt a story for young readers, who need that captain's model, to talk about.

"The Secret Sharer" is taught because it allows windbag profs to pontificate about the mysterious "doppleganger," turning young students away from literature in the process; many, forever.

Reading has to be a joy, not a duty. The reader can't be told the meaning of the story-- he has to find the meaning himself.
* * * * * * * * *
The present educational system for higher education works fine for fields requiring intense and rigid discipline where answers are wrong or right-- mathematics for instance. Set up the classroom boot camp and have your charges jump over hurdles of quadratic equations, weeding out those not able to stay in line and keep up with the pack.

For a field like literature this style of learning is a disaster.

When you make the student dependent upon the professor for a grade in order to progress, a superior overlooking inferiors, you've brought into play all the intangibles of a dependency relationship, whose key action quickly becomes manipulation of the superior. Like workers manipulating a boss or slaves manipulating a master, the career-ambitious students learn not about the meaning of literature-- how to connect the words of Joseph Conrad with the currents of their own souls. Instead, the students read the professor!, studying his unconscious expressions and tics, his giveaway poker tells, to know what he believes and what he wants. They then give him what he wants.

The Achievers progress by recycling the expected concepts. In this case, "the double" or "the doppleganger." Aha! The student "gets" it. He's learned the story-- but what has he learned about it? He's learned what his professor learned, what his professor's professor learned. The liquid depths of the story remain untouched.

The imaginative student who comes up with a novel, off-the-wall view of what he's read will be treated like a moron. "You didn't get it," the pony-tailed preppy student next to him will say with disgust, while the phlegmatic professor pouring coffee into his system to recuperate from last night's drunken binge tavern meeting with a coed will grunt phlegmatically in the affirmative. The student didn't "get" it. He must be a dunce. No wonder he enjoys Jack London and comic books.

The truly independent student will silently observe these proceedings with scorn from the back row.
* * * * * * * * *
One thing I'm happy about with the ULA is that we "elders" of the group have connected with some of the best new writers out there. Here in Philly, I would take Eric Broomfield as a bet for future artistic greatness a thousand times over the local young Achievers obtaining conformist jobs in the local machine. Not only is "Jelly Boy the Clown" open to experience and the world-- has plunged himself into it in no less a fashion than did a young Joseph Conrad-- he comes to writing with no rules or inputted concepts. No barriers operate around his head. The Achievers in town, by contrast, are intellectually stunted. They've never discovered their own meaning of poems and stories. They've been taught what to think instead.
* * * * * * * * *
On this reading of "The Secret Sharer" I quickly saw that the key relationship the new captain has isn't with the fugitive hiding in his cabin, but with his first and second mates, who are watching his every move. His takeover of the ship is the story. The device of the "double" merely helps offset this. More, there are aspects to the story, of language and form, which connect with the reader in ways which can't be expressed. Conrad touches notes which approach the true meaning of art.

Literature can't be taught. All the instructor can do, at most, is leave the student an open path. Then, through reading, the student finds the meaning, his own meaning, for himself.

Rather than classrooms I would have silent reading rooms with widely spaced armchairs, so the student can read-- whatever he wants, but read. Reading is the only way to learn what literature is about.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Death of an Apparatchik

This is the truth: the established literary world is so corrupt, so immersed in the sewage of cronyism, cheating, lying, and hypocrisy, that I could post here every day on the subject and not come close to relating all of it.

An Insider's Insider killed himself this week, director, at a small college in New England, of a nest of literary corruption; a mentality of System success at all costs.

This man was at the center of one of the most disgraceful literary happenings of recent years. In 1995, at a summer writing conference at his college, he pulled stamped, sealed, posted mail out of faculty mailboxes and publicly destroyed it. The envelopes contained a zeen which outlined the then-incestuous relationship between the Advanced Writing Programs (AWP) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The issue described the musical chair process between the two organizations, in which the givers of grant money would the next year become the receivers, accepting funds from those who the previous year had been recipients. A nauseating story, but well documented. Made clear was the how and why workshop poetry and fiction had achieved such overwhelming dominance in the tiny literary world.

The zeen publisher had contacted the now-dead writer about the matter, asking for an explanation or a response, not receiving one, before the issue was created and mailed. He heard about what happened later, from three separate individuals; one a student, the other two well-known writers teaching at the conference (one of whom was outraged, the other amused). Many of the most prominent names in the business, renowned writers and editors, were present when the destruction of the copies occurred

What recourse did the zeen writer have? He was an insignificant nobody who likely would never be heard from again. That he could be so ruthlessly censored was thought unimportant.

For more details about this you could obtain two issues of my New Philistine zeen which covered the affair-- #28 and #36 (if my memory serves me). Remaining copies must still be out there. With the subject of the issues now ingloriously dead, perhaps they have some value, and could be found on E-bay.

The dead writer, beyond his actions, is a perfect example of everything wrong with status quo literature. A celebrated poet, he wrote what could hardly be called poetry at all, as there's no poetry-- no music-- to any of it. It's bland, usually self-involved, prose.

The dead writer achieved his positions and celebrated status in the literary system because he was adept at gaming it-- and knew this. Among his poems were several which expressed the contradictions he felt; which addressed the subject of how to attain awards and success. I'm sure he was conflicted by what he did at the 1995 summer writing conference.

I think he's an object lesson for his friends of how not to conduct oneself. For a writer, a real writer, nothing is more important than honesty and integrity. It's the writer's job in this society to speak the truth. One can't pretend to do so and at the same time live a lie, buried in misdeeds like a stained Dorian Gray portrait-- and not have the contradictions run through every part of your being, your reputation, and your art.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ko-Opting Kerouac

A funny quote is found in the fantastically ridiculous new book, Why Kerouac Matters by John Leland.

"The writer and critic David Gates, describing his ambivalent love affair with the Beats, noted recently that their influence can be found almost everywhere today except in contemporary literature. 'Among novelists,' Gates wrote, 'Kerouac and Burroughs may be honored as role models of American cussedness, as familiar spirits, as Promethean innovators, as visionaries who lived on enviably intimate terms with their imaginations. But relatively few people actually want to write like either of them, and few of those few will have their words taken seriously by whatever's left of the literary establishment. A 21-year-old applying to a writing program is as ill-advised to cite Jack Kerouac as an influence as O. Henry or H.P. Lovecraft.'"

Wow. No wonder I've never fit in with today's approved lit scene. O. Henry and Kerouac were among my strongest influences. I also read much Lovecraft.

David Gates is a bonded member of today's literary establishment, so when he expresses its closed-shop ideology, he knows what he's talking about.
John Leland is a self-designated authority on "hip." His thesis is that because of Kerouac, the Organization Man can imagine himself as outsider rebel (read: John Leland), while remaining an Organization Man. Leland equates Kerouac's work ethic as a writer with working as a dehumanized cog in a gigantic conglomerate, not seeing the crucial difference. The debate isn't work versus no-work, but the different paths of a DIY self-starter working creatively for himself, or a tied-down obedient robot. Leland argues for the literary stamping plant sustained by conformity with society through family. What the attractions of this "family," this conformity with the rat-race machine, IS Leland never says.

It's presented as joyless safety. He's prodding the reader to join the herd; like the steady prodding of pod people in the better versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." With the plodding of his shallowly reasoned and unexceptionally written book, John Leland resembles one of those pod persons.

Leland's book reaches a culmination of duplicity when he discusses Allen Ginsberg's victory in the famous obscenity trial. Leland sees this as the victory of the individualistic Beat ethos; a victory against conformity.

Yet the Gates quote illustrates that it was no victory at all. The world is more conformist than it ever was. The literary establishment declares the battle won-- and since it's won, there's no need to fight it; no need for underground writers now. Kerouac and his friends were enough, thank you. By declaring the fight over, the John Lelands of today's media scene can impose total conformity on today's literary culture-- albeit conformity with a hip goattee on its chin and trendy boozhie tattoo on its arm.
Ignored by the expropriators of culture is the key truth that the American Machine didn't change as a result of the Beats. In fact, if anything, in following years the Machine changed for the worse, becoming larger, more intrusive, more monolithic. The black underclass today is in much worse condition than it was fifty years ago. The white working class is in much worse shape. The top levels of society, on the other hand, are vastly more affluent, more protected, more out-of-touch with American realities than ever before. They've truly become aristocrats.

John Leland and other mandarin commentators like Ann Douglas-- certified as authorities on underground culture by establishment institutions but not by the underground itself-- HAVE to ignore American reality lest they discredit the storyline of their books: that the various segments of American society have merged; there are no differences, no divisions; no chasms; we're all one big happy lobotomized family. How untrue! One need only walk through North Philly, and step into its schools, then tour the U of Penn "Green Zone" two miles away, to see how little the classes today have in common.

Ann Douglas, incidentally, who was on stage with the Overdogs at Columbia's Miller Hall during our 2006 Howl Protest, has written with "Terrible Honesty" about the "truth instinct" in writers. She's spoken about writers driven to expose corrupting forces.

Yet Ann Douglas shows no Terrible Honesty about literature today; does not apply the truth instinct to writers now-- nor applaud those who use it. She shows no concern about sharing a stage with corrupt writers, and has no curiosity about the current literary underground, of how it's different from, or similar to, the Beat movement. She and her privileged colleagues would rather see cultural genocide-- all trace of literary dissent and difference in THIS era wiped out. After all, they have the Beats. They wear the historical icons like the skins of slaughtered animals: once glorious to look at but now safely dead.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friedman on PBS


I caught Thomas Friedman on the Charlie Rose Show last night. He was dressed in a bright yellow suit, and his head bobbed up and down like that of a bobble-head doll, while his hands gesticulated wildly. He reminded me of a "Music Man" style con man.

This is the man who has won three Pulitzer Prizes, is one of the media establishment's top boys. Friedman was originally a forceful cheerleader for the Iraq War, one of the most vociferous-- but now he says that maybe we'll have to lose the war, and leave Iraq divided-- keeping American bases in the north of course.

This kind of charlatan is used to having things turn out his way, however they turn out. Well, maybe he should apologize for being wrong, he now says, but he really wasn't wrong, and he won't apologize, as he buries the question and the fossilized questioner in layers of con-man blather.

Iran is the problem now, the Expert says. A big problem. "They're obstructing us," in the Mideast, he says. Obstructing US. (Us? We?) As he says this I wonder exactly who Friedman is talking about. This Imperialist kind of forgets that this isn't our part of our globe-- that our behavior there runs counter to the ideas of the Founding Fathers, which have conveniently been scrapped. (Our behavior there has bankrupted our country. Many thanks to the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.) Friedman doesn't seem to remember that our Revolutionary War was fought against Empire-- it was fought so that we not be an Empire. In this context, the un-American context of Friedman and his like, their behavior, might be said to be traitorous.

If the Man in the Yellow Suit is the best the media establishment can come up with, then they are truly doomed. Every con-man statement which comes out of his con-man mouth discredits him. What about the environment, Mr. Friedman? What have you, the Authority, have to say about that?

The "flat earth" expert tells us he consulted men who run utilities on the matter. Men who run utilities! Those who maintain and profit, greatly, from our flawed energy set-up. Does Friedman consult with upstart entrepreneurs putting new ideas to work? Of course not! He goes straight to the men at the top. The Monopolists. As sure a way to get a snapshot of the past hasn't been invented. Friedman does indeed believe in a flat earth.

If this were 100 years ago, Friedman wouldn't be looking for Henry Ford in Detroit working with bicyle parts in a tiny workshop at the back of his house. He'd be consulting horse and buggy manufacturers. I think the Man in the Yellow Suit deserves another Pulitzer for his performance.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CIA and Wiki

An article by John Borland on on 8/14/07 states that the Central Intelligence Agency, among others, has been editing wikipedia entries. What does this mean? At the least, that this organization is still cognizant of what's happening in the society and the culture.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Grammar Nerd Gatekeepers

AN EXAMPLE of the kind of young journalist being recruited as gatekeeper of the status quo literary world is self-described "grammar nerd" Elizabeth Fox, a book reviewer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In a 8/11 article in the newspaper, Fox snippily complains about "abuse of the English language" caused by writers who dare show linguistic creativity on the Internet.

Bizarrely enough, she then uses William Shakespeare, of all people, as an example of proper English.

Elizabeth Fox is an example of the bourgeois prism I've discussed. She views the past through her own situation and her own anal standards, which are the System's standards.

In reality, Shakespeare was the antithesis of a grammar nerd. He lived during the changeover in England from oral to written culture. Today he'd be called semi-literate. An actor, Will's words were created to be spoken aloud. Written texts were devised solely as a tool for the players; their saving an afterthought.

Extant documents, those which did survive the years, show an individual unconcerned with proper spelling or proper grammar. He made up scores of words found in no dictionary because there were no dictionaries. His audience grasped their meaning because of their relation to other words, and their context and placement in sentences. The man is notorious today among befuddled historians for the creative ways "Shakspere" spelled even his own name.

What does this mean?

It means that maybe-- just possibly-- the path toward greatness in literature lies in NOT being ruthlessly tied down, restricted amd constricted, bound with chains, gagged and put into a language prison cell box, as advocated in this overly-regulated age by utterly brainwashed System advocates like Ms. Fox.

Maybe it's better instead to have the freedom to be creative in all things literary. To use wordplay at readings, or use creative spelling to give new meaning to old words, as do ULAers Frank Walsh and Bill Blackolive. Maybe it's better to focus first on truth and emotion, passion and explosiveness, while letting the constipated rules fall to the background, as does James Nowlan, a ULA novelist.

We're at our own historical dividing line: Whether literature is going to be stuck, unmoving, in the drying cement of status quo thought-- or instead, burst forth with new freedom and energy, with the kind of excitement that Marlowe and Shakespeare once generated, and if done right, today, can attract to the poetry of language hordes of new fans.

Brooke Astor


Much is being made in media obituaries about Brroke Astor's "philanthropy" in spreading around $200 million to fellow New Yorkers over the years.

The question is not just whether that money went mainly to the projects of other wealthy Manhattanites-- but what Brooke, a person who likely never worked a day in her life, was doing with such immense wealth to start with.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bourgeois Prisms

The biggest mistake many observers and opponents of the ULA make is to view it, and view me, through prisms which give them a distorted sense of reality. They view us in terms of their own situation-- as Michael Signorelli does from the perspective of the huge monopoly which employs him. Because things are equaled on the playing field of the Internet, he believes they're equal in the playing field of life. This breeds the idea, as exhibited on the radio show I was recently on, that the ULA, an organization without resources, could somehow restrict the opportunity of a Jeffrey Eugenides, who's had every opportunity.

Another prism is used by bourgeois writers who like what we're doing, then see the group according to what they think a writers group SHOULD be like, or according to what they want us to be, based on their own needs.

The ULA is a radical lit group originally meant to consist of literary activists with a DIY mentality. This meant from the start those writers who'd already burnt their bridges to the mainstream; who'd already abandoned all hope of status quo literary success; who were for the most part totally alienated by this society and its culture; who for the most part had already lost everything and had nothing left to lose. The lowest of the low. Among writers, the hardest core of the hard core.

When we've swayed from these principles we've been burned.

The ULA isn't for everybody. Those who've joined and fit in have earned their colors. They've fit in with the pack of rabid dogs which is this team. There are no writers in America like us, which is our strength.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

40th Street Fair

I had fun yesterday at the 40th Street Summer Series. Read as part of our set, along with Mark Baird of Idiom Poets, Mark Sonnenfeld, Jellyboy the Clown, and Mr. Walsh, who M/C'd our part of it. Also a mysterious street poet named Ed Slook, who I'll be profiling in an upcoming post, because he's quite a genuine character. Matt Broomfield ably backed the lot of us with imaginative mixing and music.

Manning the ULA's zeen and book table, I had the chance to speak to many interesting folks, including a mysterious publisher with a briefcase; a woman with a zeen called "The Humble Housewife"; and others including several young artists, most striking among them Kim of Bakas Artysta. Plus several unnamed writers who stopped by. I hope to hear from one and all.

Yes, much of the audience for the affair was kind of boozhie, but the real undergrounders made our appearance entirely worthwhile.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ego in Writers

I've often gotten the feeling, since the ULA was started almost seven years ago, that I'm supposed to apologize for having a healthy ego-- a good opinion of myself as a thinker and a writer.

Yet if I didn't have a strong ego-- even a trace of arrogance-- I would've been crushed by this society, and by the circumstances of life, long ago.

Unlike those in other endeavors-- sports, or business-- writers aren't supposed to have strong egos. At best they should be self-loving but haplessly confused stumblebum successes on the order of Jonathan Franzen. But too much ego is out. Throw yourself on a cross as a martyr for the world like Dave Eggers, but stifle that ego, at least in public.

No, in the literary realm, ego and arrogance are reserved for the gatekeepers; minimally-talented editors and reviewers who erect barriers of snobbery and dismiss all who don't approach them with humble mien and appropriate groveling. It's the way the entire system has been set up. Somehow, because of their positions as literary apparatchiks, cogs in an enormous machine, they somehow believe THEY are the more valuable commodity.

One more reason why the present apparatus of literature must be changed.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I've had an interesting exchange on the "Cruelest Month" Harper-Collins lit-blog ( about poet John Ashbery. Interesting is how the moderator of the blog, Michael Signorelli, worries that I might make a fool of myself with what I say about literature today.

His concern shows his lack of knowledge about the roots of language, ideas, and culture.

"The Fool" of course is the first card in the Tarot deck. It represents the seeker, the artist: the individual open to the world and experience, yet uncorrupted by human machinations. (Dostoevsky's "The Idiot," Prince Myshkin, is a variant of this type.) Throughout history there has been the "Holy Fool." In medieval times intelligent poets played fools for barbarian kings. "Fool" is an honorable name, from the perspective of the artist.

The larger point about John Ashbery is that he's a symbol of the established literary world's inability to change over the course of half-a-century. No art form survives by remaining static-- yet this is exactly what the Michael Signorellis of the world advocate. They're closed-- hostile even-- to criticism of their dusty plaster gods.

To further announce Ashbery's mediocre body of work, especially in the face of a dawning underground revival, would be as if newspapers were proclaiming the greatness of Al Jolson in the face of the rock revolution beginning in 1955. Hopelessly, pathetically out-of-date.

(It's like McCartney on sale at Starbucks-- a sign of stagnation in more than literary culture today.)

Our media mandarins are trapped in a time warp, and seem unable to move away. Our world of culture today is like a bad science fiction movie. It's actually the moment of calm before the deluge-- before a Katrina cultural hurricane.

Signorelli attacks me for being an egotist, because I try to find available avenues to get word out about my writing. Unlike Ashbery, I don't have access to a profusion of mouthpieces proclaiming to the world what I'm doing. I'm well aware of my limitations as a poet (my colleague Frank Walsh for instance is way better, as are a few other undergrounders I could name)-- yet I also think, if a quack like Ashbery is being proclaimed far and wide, for five decades, there should be room for me also.

The repetition I use in my poem, cited on the Cruelest Month blog, seems to have thrown posters Michael and "John"-- yet is easily defended.

Repetition has been a mainstay of art over the centuries-- the key is to find the right mix, which I'm imperfectly groping toward.

Done right, you get the perfection of a Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which repeats a simple musical motif again and again, with amazing results.

In another art, take a look at the way the lighting of a cigarette is done in the movie "Double Indemnity." The final time, because of the context, the simple action takes on power and meaning.

Song, a strong relative to poetry, uses the refrain to hammer home an artistic point.

But, for the brainwashed, like those who manage the media monopolies, anything done outside their narrow parameters is dangerous.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

ULA in West Philly

The ULA will have a table at the 40th Street Summer Series at 40th and Walnut, outside, this Saturday August 11th, 2 to 7 pm. There will be performances from Frank Walsh and others. Members of the Idiom Poets are scheduled to join us. I'll be there from 3 pm on, so stop by to see us.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Writer's Motivation?

The chief motivation for System writers ostensibly remains greed: career and money.

The irony is that all follow the standard literary path, which takes them in the opposite direction of their goal. They'll pay $50,000 or more to accept extremely low odds of making it as a writer; to become one of 40,000+ similarly labelled with said degree. I suspect the badge itself-- "MFA"-- for most of this number is the real motivation. This certifies the person as a "writer" and allows him or her a kind of respectable, if useless, attainment.

For others, undergrounders particularly, the writing itself is the goal: the expression and construction of authentic art.

The ULA campaign offers an added bonus to the independently-minded writer-- the opportunity to make literary history, as we've done with our protests, our actions, our never before seen in-your-face excitement. (The status quo is reduced to presenting weak substitutes like the Dishwasher guy.)

Most non-underground writers are embedded in the literary past. Embedded-- incapable of breaking out of their artistic assumptions and prejudices. Even when they write about literary rebels of the past, it's in a thoroughly dry, academic way, their ANALysis coming through the prism of their politically-correct institutional brainwashing.

The Underground Literary Alliance offers literature as an adventure and a challenge. With us, the writer isn't one of 40,000+ trained and certified automatons, but a rebel engaged in the battle of ideas. We're guerrillas and prophets, a band of upstarts, vanguard of literary change.

Our fearlessness is our greatest strength. There is nothing appealing about an endless parade of artistic apparatchiks. Someday this nation's literature may devolve into an Age of Sheep. We're here to say: That time has not yet arrived! Exciting days remain.

Where's Bohemia?

The question is whether a real bohemia is even possible today.

The first requirement is a tight neighborhood, as existed in Greenwich Village once upon a time, or in Paris in the 1920s.

I'd guess that classic bohemias were mixes of lower class and idle rich, or radical rich. Without the low rent aspect there's no authenticity, no edge.

How many American urban neighborhoods are full of vibrant life yet affordable at the same time? (Detroit's Cass Corridor in the 1990s.)

The Hydrogen Jukebox has created a scene in West Philly-- but West Philly is too sprawling, the writers here scattered all over the place. South Philly might be tighter; Fishtown more working class, with more real bohemian freedom.

Most interesting urban neighborhoods have been taken over by the gentry-- hyper-conformist rat-race yuppies who are if anything anti-bohemians. Rents and prices exclude all but the Clean and Saved.

Bourgeois conformity has spread into most segments of the upper class (even ultra-rich guys like Tom Beller and Rick Moody obtained writing degrees) and swept through the lower middle class from whose ranks come many MFA writer-wannabes. True artistic and social rebels are a minority of a minority.

Also, few writers today except those of means will travel to be part of a scene-- as many writers like Hemingway, Robert McAlmon, Kay Boyle, and so many others moved to Paris to create the Lost Generation.

Sorry, but one can't have a community of writers through the Internet, which is a collection of disembodied voices without the exciting interaction of physical reality. At best it's a bloodless, enervated, unsatisfactory substitute.

Those who pose today as literary bohemians are in fact anti-bohemians. Take MediaBistro, a walking contradiction; an impossibility-- a mock-bohemian scene constructed around career and conformity. Their reality is anti-bohemia (as they're so thoroughly anti-ULA). Only the pose of difference remains-- and as everyone inside the System adopts the pose, any trace of difference from acceptable life and culture has thoroughly vanished. All that's left is consumerist advertising.

Friday, August 03, 2007

New Posts

A couple new posts by me are up on two ULA blogs; unfinished posts and likely not to be finished for awhile, because, as Lee Marvin says to Angie Dickinson in "The Killers": "Lady, I just don't have the time."

Check them out anyway at and (More reviews from me upcoming, when I can write them.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Okay, You're Okay

Status quo types and their acolytes in the literary world want to play the game of "I'm Okay, You're Okay." (This is a variation of "Can't we all just get along," coming from the biggest rich guy grant-grabber in recent history.)

Literary people want total agreement. Their attitudes when you meet them is, "I'm okay and you're okay, we're all okay because we're all good liberal people and this country and its literature just needs a little tinkering, a slight amount, around the edges, and then everything will be even more okay among all of us and our literature as they are today."

But things are NOT okay in this society, nor in its literature. There are widening gaping cracks in the civilization. A little plaster around the edges won't save things. This is the case the Underground Literary Alliance has been making.

Agreement is possible with the clique of insular elitists who comprise the so-called mainstream. It's always been possible, as long as we accept the terms of agreement.

These are their terms:
That they have everything and everyone else has nothing.

Is it a waste of time to debate with anonymous demi-puppets on blog sites?

Very likely it is. I'll still do it on occasion, because the intent of the ULA at its beginning was to engage the culture, to take on the status quo in debate and win the battle of ideas. The thinking was that by our ideas and the strength of our voices we could overturn the literature and save the culture. This showed tremendous faith in the fairness of this society.

It's thought by many undergrounders that we shouldn't criticize the literary establishment, but go our own way.

This presupposes that those writers at the top of the literary pyramid, recipients of attention, backing, and money, are there because they deserve to be. This assumes that the system isn't corrupt. This ignores the reality that many very good writers are struggling, while the system promotes privileged mediocrities.

The ULA argues by contrast that we the underground are the true American literature of this time. We also recognize the context of this society.

As rebels promoting new words and a new literary philosophy, do we attempt to sit at the table of literary culture without any weapons-- without our greatest strength which is the passion of our voices?

Study the example Brando as Zapata gives in the film "Viva Zapata" (screenplay by John Steinbeck). Holding a rifle on a moderate politician, he takes the moderate's watch away from him. Then he hands the rifle to the man and gives his watch back, at the same time saying, "There! Your watch back. But without that"-- pointing to the rifle-- "Never!"

Our arguments are the ULA's rifles. They allow us not to be subservient.

The literary world NEEDS debate-- true debate, of the kind which only the ULA as a contrary voice can provide. When we have engaged in such debate with establishment apologists, the events have been extremely exciting. Such debates are a way to grab the attention of the general public.

Besides-- how can undergrounders not compete? Sure, we're like a small local bottler of soda pop with few resources going up against the Coke and Pepsi giants. We have to present a better product and we have to announce that it's better. If we run away from this distinction we'll be quickly out of business. Our writers, our language, our more exciting words and energy is what we're selling. We need to get the word out that we're here and people should try us. If we ruffle a few feathers among the monopolists so be it. In a way, that's the idea.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Underground

The Underground
Originally uploaded by King Wenclas
Venue for our April event.

Toussaint and Brooklyn Frank

After the ULA's April 22 Show.

Lots more photos from this event and last week's Germ Books reading will be posted here and at the main ULA site. Stay tuned!

Mighty Paradocs

Mighty Paradocs
Originally uploaded by King Wenclas
The super-talented Mighty Paradocs reading at our April 22 "Underground" show in Philadelphia.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's About the Writing

The ULA movement, vanguard of literary rebellion, will ultimately succeed not because of our unbeatable ideas, or our unmatched public performances. We'll prevail because of the excitement generated by our writing.

Considering that we're not part of a billion-dollar system which thinks it can create, with the most conformist individuals in this society, "great" writing (see the Atlantic Monthly's 2007 Fiction Issue), the extent to which our writers can already outdo the established brand is amazing.

Speaking only for myself, I know, because my underground ethos allows me to be creative, that I can outwrite any of the standard literati in this town of Philadelphia-- including the exclusionists at the local daily. (My latest post on should demonstrate this.) I also know that writers in my own group are better and more creative than I am.

Underground writers are analagous to this nation's roots musicians, who first gained notice in the 1950's. Back then, the appeal of the recordings of Hank Williams or Leadbelly or the Carter Family wasn't their artistry so much as the soul embodied in their work; mainly, in the artist's authenticity; the expression of the voice of this country.

This is the appeal of most underground writing today. Many self-taught undergrounders adopt a kind of primitive Bukowski style, because it's easy to imitate, if impossible to duplicate. This is true for many prosists but especially for many many underground poets. Their work resonates through its very simplicity and rawness. Basic, primal screams.

I was always drawn more to Kerouac than Bukowski as an influence on my creative work, who plays with language in a different way.

Underground writers each have their own combination of influences, from reading, and express these influences in varying ways. I brought icons Jacjk Saunders and Wild Bill Blackolive into the ULA because they embody classic literary roots writing.

It's interesting to see how young undergrounders develop their art.

Our first "Zeen Elvis," for instance, began writing heavily influenced by Bukowski. Quickly enough, even while still a zeenster, she left this influence behind and began creating work equaivalent to early psychedelia-- very early garage band psychedelia, her prose taking on surreal and colorful aspects that I as a reader had never before seen. Unfortunately, this artist got it into her head that she needed training-- ambitious to be a "studio musician" I guess, putting craft above originality and art. If she's still writing, if her work is to have appeal, it will be because of its craziness, not its attention to rules, which is commonplace and stifling. (See Carla Spataro and Company.)

The major influence on zeensters in the movement's heyday of the 1990's was Aaron Cometbus. He probably remains the chief influence on young zeensters today. His work is clear, simple, basic, while not as crude as the Bukowski-wannabes. It's great folk writing-- like folk rock of the 1960's, Grateful Dead-style, interesting of itself but which never changes, as Cometbus's immutability as a writer is part of his appeal.

Even in the 90's though his biggest fans (see Jennifer Gogglebox and Urban Hermitt) were going beyond Cometbus by instinctively jazzing up their writing.

The strength of the Underground Literary Alliance is that we have the most interesting, and most advanced, underground writers in the country in our ranks. They've left the literary "rockabilly" of the Bukowski-ites behind and are presenting underground writing in its prime. I refer not just to the ULA's Wred Fright and Crazy Carl Robinson, whose work goes beyond (way beyond) status quo work but also standard underground sounds, but more, I'm speaking about poet Frank Walsh and novelist James Nowlan, whose work is the expression of underground potential, encompassing reality, authenticity, soul, but also full understanding of language, the uses of language to grab the reader and embody meaning.

This is a sketchy overview of the advancement of the underground literary scene. To mandarin outsiders we and our work appear to be a blur-- but there's a lot happening; the only true artistic excitement in the literary scene today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tour De Corruption

If the ULA has proved nothing else in the six-plus years of its existence, it's that the literary world is thoroughly corrupt. We have exciting arguments and talented writers-- yet because of our ideas, contrary to those of the entrenched literary scene, we're by-and-large blackballed. Noteworthy that my recent radio appearance was the first time our ideas have been aired publicly since February 2001, when we debated George Plimpton and his staff in one of the most exciting events American literature has ever seen. It's not that we don't have the goods. We've always had the goods-- ideas, and the writers to back up those ideas. We've been shut out because of our whistle-blowing.

The problem is this society's Cult of the Lie. There is no ethos of integrity in America today. Everything-- EVERYTHING-- is subordinated to career and to personal gain.

An example of this is what has happened to the sport of bicycling. David Walsh's new book From Lance to Landis builds an overwhelming case that superstar Lance Armstrong all these years has been cheating. If this is so, what does this say about Armstrong's public persona, presenting himself as an example of virtue? This psychotic has no problem living a total lie. It's how things are done, you see. As bad are the armies of enablers in the cycling scene, who know he's a fraud yet turn the other way for the sake of their jobs and the business world of cycling. Meanwhile, those who have spoken out, like Greg LeMond, are hurt because of their honesty. This is reprehensible and has a lot to say about the rottenness of the American character. The only remaining question is whether that character has always been that rotten.

The same thing goes for the lit scene. The ULA's exposes of corruption are dismissed as something quirky, of little meaning. We the whistle blowers are ostracized, while corrupt frauds without conscience have done nothing but gain.

The pursuit of truth-- entwined with the pursuit of art-- gives life meaning. I wouldn't have altered my behavior with the ULA one iota, because I know our campaign has been right. As William Holden says in "The Wild Bunch": "I wouldn't have it any other way."

What's Next?

(Aside from getting my life in order, which I've found impossible my entire life. . . .)

I'm gradually updating my new Literary Mystery blog ( Once it's up to speed, that will become my main on-line hangout.

There are fresh revelations however coming on this place-- as well as in a "Monday Report" in the preliminary stages about the art world today, for the ULA.

I have several reviews to write for the ULA's review blog, as well as a general essay or two for the same place. THEN-- I hope to work on my own fiction and poetry.

So much writing to do and no time!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

About the Public

A successful show is energizing!

We at the Underground Literary Alliance know we're on the right path with our writing. Wred Fright's Emus is as readable and fun a book as to be found anyplace-- and well-written at the same time. (The subtle quality of the writing creates the sense of exuberance.) The multiple viewpoints-- not done! according to writing programs-- gives the book a three-dimensional quality which further brings the characters and actions to life.

Even the ULA's more experimental writers, such as Jack Saunders, or Mark Sonnenfeld reading poetry in parks, use experiment as ways to further engage an audience-- not to alienate one.

Withdrawing from the public into cocoons of self or intellectualism is the tactic of establishment writers and establishment WANNABE writers like Tao Lin, the well-known single-minded careerist whose single-minded pursuit of literary career is matched by the single-minded, McSweeney's-taken-three-steps-further nature of his prose: robbed of persons, plot, characters and character; literature without the literature.

Worse is Mark Z. Danielewski's glossy-covered Only Revolutions, one of those goofy ideas zeensters have tried for years with half the page, each page, printed upside down, so the reader has to keep turning the book up and down for any glimmer of sense from the nonsensical cutesy-posturing narrative. Which is fine for a one-dollar zeen but not so cool for a hard-cover book selling for twenty-fine bucks. I figure about five people total, insane intellectuals all, have the leisure time to endlessly experiment with this game, and they all live on Fisher's Island.

Yet, the conglomerate behind this slick but useless product is spending a huge sum of money producing and marketing it.

How can one not prevail over these monopolistic clowns? They have overpriced experimental trickeries fit only for doorstops or to weigh down papers on coffee tables and we have Wred Fright and the Emus. A win for us all the way.

(Catch Wred Fright, Crazy Carl Robinson, and a stuffed Emus TONITE at Freebird Books in Brooklyn. Info at

Great Reading

The reading yesterday at Germ Books was fantastic-- just about every chair filled, thirty people or more to see our little-known writers group. Many were neighborhood folk. Most I'd guess came because of the amazing article we received in the Fishtown Star, by Brian Rademaekers (a real old-fashioned walk-the-streets reporter) which is attached to the ULA's main site at The best spread about us in several years. (The article looks better and seems longer in the actual paper, with a huge photo of Germ's owner.)

Noteworthy about the audience was that it was NOT your usual genteel literary crowd. Just average folks, young and old. Who needs the gatekeepers? We can go directly to the public.

Crazy Carl, Eric Broomfield, Frank Walsh, Wred Fright-- all performers read well. A good time had by one and all. Great vibe. Musician David Talento accompanied the readers on guitar and toy saxophone, highlighting dramatic narrative moments, in Wred's and Eric's pieces especially, at just the right time.

Mucho thanks to bookstore owner David Williams for having us. The ULA train is on the move!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Germ Books Today!

Yes, TODAY is the ULA reading at Germ Books in Philadelphia, 7 pm, 2005 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. Wred Fright and Crazy Carl Robinson are headlining. Much discussion before and after. Thanks to the METRO newspaper for their coverage yesterday, even though they got the date wrong!

Directions to Germ? FIND THEM on the Germ Book web site linked to this blog. It's a site worth checking out.

All are welcome, friend and foe.

Twenty years from now, will you be able to say, about an early appearance of the most exciting writers group on the globe, "I was there"?

See ya at seven!

On Right and Left

Writers on the Right and Left suffer from a similar ailment which manifests itself in different ways.

That is to focus on the many problems which afflict today's world as a way to not cover the problems here at home, in our own country; a way to turn away from their own collapsing civilization (hundreds of murders in Philadelphia neighborhoods so far this year) by trying to rescue places halfway around the globe. Dave Eggers rescuing an African; radio interviewers hyping books about Afghanistan; journalists coverage of Al Queda-- they don't see that our interference in these places made things worse to begin with, and anyway, it's not our business to run their nations and their lives. BOTH sides of the supposed debate embrace the philosophy of Imperialism which is the root cause of the problem.

These ideologies of Conservative and Liberal survive by their opposition to each other. They are still playing the old Capitalist/Socialist game. They actually believe that to criticize today's monolithic monopolistic media structure one must be a crazed Leftist advocating for government control.

Yet the real ideological battle in America is and has always been between Big and Small; Federalists and Anti-Federalist; Monopoly or Do-It-Yourself.

The Cold War which occupied the minds of the globe for several decades was a power struggle between Big Capitalism and Big Socialism-- gigantic inhuman bureaucracies which were mirror images of themselves. Whichever side "won," the individual was screwed.

The real fight in literature and media today, the choice, is between tops-down institutional control, or organic art spontaneously created by free-thinking people. It's a struggle worth delineating.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Institutional Snobbery

The prime motivating emotion of the bureaucratic personality is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of difference, fear of change.

The individual sits complacently in his office. As long as the machine he works for keeps operating, and paychecks for him regularly appear, all is well. The world outside the building is a vague blur, a hum of noise, not understandable to him, frightening in itself.

Changes to the bureaucrat's world then come as a surprise. More, as a shock. The individual's training and mindset has left him or her unprepared for all but the predictable.

I had an interesting exchange yesterday, on a blog, one attached to this site, with a person who works for this city's daily newspaper. The person, John Brumfield, representative of the newspaper, could do no more than engage in name-calling. A disappointing performance-- but from this Soviet-style apparatchik one can't expect more. One can't hope for a spark of an idea, a germ of an intellectual defense of himself and his employer, when he's a mere processor of words and information, not a creator. He's likely never had an original thought in his head. That's not why he's there.

I have to give kudos to Carla Spataro, who appeared with me on the WHYY radio show last week, for appearing with a representative of the Underground Literary Alliance; for debating our words and ideas.

I could challenge representatives of the Philadelphia Inquirer to do likewise-- Carlin Romano or Frank Wilson or Katie Haegele or John Brumfield-- but I know they would never consent. They are too caught up in the importance of their institutional roles; too full of their perceived station above that of mere writers, especially of the underground variety.

Never mind that the exchange between Ms. Spataro and myself was the first REAL exchange between different literary viewpoints which has occurred in this city in many years. It was genuinely exciting, worthy of notice. This doesn't matter. According to the bureaucrats at the INKY, the ULA isn't worthy of notice, mainly because we don't play by the rules and we don't have proper manners. Which means, we don't put ourselves in the position of supplicants. We don't appear with hats in hand and humble expression. We refuse to do this. We instead expect to be treated as equals. As the best writers in this city right now, we expect to be treated as no less than equals of anyone.

The fact is that the crimes of the INKY against Philadelphia's underground writers go back far beyond the seven years I mentioned to Mr. Brumfield. Frank Walsh has been in this city for thirty years, hosting readings, winning open mic contests, penning the strongest poetry to be found anywhere in the entirety of America itself-- yet through that lengthy period has escaped the notice of the supposed newshounds at the local daily. Bureaucrats more interested in press releases from other institutions, like the main library, or U of Penn.

This behavior is artistically criminal. Walsh is so good as a performer-- writes such provocative words, and knows how to present them-- that twice in recent years he's been physically attacked, and caused near riots-- at an arts festival in Baltimore and at an open-air show on South Street in this town-- simply by reading his poem, "Reagan's Brain." Not newsworthy enough! In fact, the opposite of what the INKY expects from writers, which is to remain in the closet literature resides in within society's house and not make any noise at all.

Does the ULA make a mistake by seeking to engage the office dwellers at the local daily? We do so from a generous impulse. We don't want them to outdate themselves. We want them to be part of our excitement, to justify themselves and their positions by covering truly exciting writers. We don't wish these folks to make themselves eternally irrelevant.

Possibly we make a mistake by NOT kowtowing to such. We might alienate these important mandarins (never mind that we've been alienated from official kulture by its sterility and its corruption). I'm not worried. I see the trend lines, and they're on OUR side, not theirs. Dwindling newspaper readership; vanishing book review sections; marginalized literature no longer competing with movies, sports, or radio. It will take much noise and excitement to turn these trend lines around-- the kind of excitement which in literature today only the ULA offers.

Peace is on the table, to be grabbed by the INKY at any moment, as long as they stop blackballing us. A public debate between us and them would be a good starting point. It would take, on their part, intellectual courage, of a kind I don't believe they have.

What Mr. Brumfield doesn't realize, in his narrow viewpoint, is that literature and the world which produces it in this society MUST change-- or literature will go the way of fine arts, to be as relevant to the culture and the mass public as opera.

(Don't miss ULA excitement tomorrow at Germ Books in Fishtown. Info about this and other readings at

Monday, July 16, 2007

Renaissance Clown

One thing I missed in the local INKY Sunday paper yesterday was a big spread in the fashion section about ULAer Eric "Jelly Boy the Clown" Broomfield. Eric-- most known in ULA circles for his actions at our Howl protest last year-- is one of the most prominent personalities in Philadelphia right now. We're glad to have him as a member. As an undergrounder and a balls-to-the-wall activist, there is no one better.

This young guy is quickly going to be huge. He's multi-talented, can be a success at any art he chooses.

The Question: What field will that be? Can we save him for literature? Will he focus more on music, or sideshow?

Eric embodies everything I've talked about regarding underground writers-- he's a natural. Simply from writing a zeeny hand-written journal of his life and adventures, he's made amazing progress. He has an easy, Kerouac-like facility with words-- as he proved at our last two readings in this town this year, and should again at Germ Books this Wednesday (2005 Frankford Ave in Fishtown).

My argument to Eric will be that literature needs him most.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

ULA Ascendent

OVERDOGS try to wish us away but we're not going away. Not to realize this is the fundamental mistake of status quo literary apologists.

They don't realize we don't live in a static universe. Change is essential. No art form survives by remaining static.

ULA represents the necessary future of literature. We'll only grow stronger, more necessary. Our voices will grow louder. Yet the Overdogs of Literature still try to wish us away. They close their eyes and ears, hoping. When they re-open them they realize to their dismay we're still here.

Their behavior is comical-- such as that of the local NEWSpaper i n town, whose appeal remains only to the civilization's green zones-- genteel folks who believe everything is okay in this world as long as everything is okay for THEM. They give their dwindling number of readers their narrow viewpoint. The phenomenal garage band Detroit Cobras are in Philly this week (Tuesday at the Khyber), but the NEWSpaper which never gives its vanishing readers anything new has missed this somehow. Their circulation is up, their owner proclaims! All through West Philly, where I'm currently staying, one sees copies of today's NEWSpaper sitting on doorsteps of houses whose occupants never asked for them; including many houses which have no occupants at all. Well, that's one way to do it, I guess. Laughingly we briefly peruse the contents of the badly outdated and insular rag. What do you know? An Associate Editor says the future is now, and for him things are good, because he has his I-Phone. Music? A big article among other "Harry Potter" hype pieces about "Wizard Bands" put together by Omen-looking prep school kids. Watch out! The privileged are cool and on the move! (No one wants to see the phenomenal Detroit Cobras anyhow, I guess, at least not in their Green Zone world.)

"Where's the trash can?" we all finally decide. "A suitable place for such rubbish."

The real news is that the Underground Literary Alliance is the only exciting thing happening in the literary world now. We have the energy and ideas other stale and stodgy lit-folk lack, and we're coming to your town.