Sunday, May 31, 2009

one of my life goals is to never own a mobile phone, but this iphone app is the kind of thing that tempts:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I got to go back to Detroit recently. I love it there. It is the anti-Chicago. Or maybe it is Bizarro Chicago. But anyway, when you go back to a place you like, you go to the places you used to hang, and this is one of them, the John King Books just south of Nine Mile. The other bookstore I used to hang out at is now a pool hall. The clerk at John King said the owner of the other one sold at a good time and is "enjoying retirement." But then a friend I met in Ann Arbor that day said that no, he was forced out and is very sad about it. So I get to choose which story to believe and today I choose that he is happy.
I found these things at John King. I couldn't remember if I already owned the Donald Hall book, but I bought it anyway because I love that series of Poets on Poetry books and I wanted to be safe, just in case I didn't. The Jack Spicer book was a score, though, because I thought it was worth more than the $6 I paid for it and it turns out that decent copies sell for $80-$100. I won't sell it though because Jack Spicer is crazy as hell and I need that book. The Rexroth book I got just because I don't like to buy books in 2's.
I can't believe I did not buy this one though. The one that got away. I picked it up and saw that it was just transcripts of Bob & Ray sketches and I thought "why would I want that when I can listen to the recordings?" and then when I was driving home I thought "for fun Cath and I could be Bob & Ray and act out the skits," so now I'm a little devastated at my lack of foresight.
This was my first apartment after college, in the town I helped prepare for its eventual gentrification: Ferndale, Mich. I think the gentrification ended while I was away though. The balcony was ours, where we would try to play Yo La Tengo songs on our new guitar. It was a dumpy place, but I can only remember loving it.

It wasn't all great. The eventual wife and I were doing what some people would call "living in sin," but if we had talked about it at all, which we didn't, we would have said only that we knew that we wanted to be together. We felt this in the way that you know things when you are young and know almost nothing else.

The landlord downstairs would throw big parties where there must have been a rule that you had to smoke at least two cigarettes at once because smoke would pour through the heating grates in our apartment until the clothes in our closets smelled like other peoples' clothes. This happened like all the time.

And then after the parties, the landlord and her boyfriend would yell at each other. Once, he locked her out and then at 3:00 in the morning on a work night she was yelling to the neighborhood "Somebody please call the cops! I have been locked out of my house! Please somebody call the cops so I can get back in my house please!" I can't remember if I called the cops. I like to think I did, but it is also possible that I thought she needed to be away from her violent boyfriend for awhile and therefore didn't call.

Basically, 2-3 times a week, Cath and I would be upstairs listening to some kind of badness downstairs, asking each other "should we call the cops?" I really don't think we ever did. I really think that for us, we felt like outsiders and that maybe that was just a different kind of life that was normal for some people and who were we to call the cops on it? It would be like judging them, we thought, I think. When you are older, it is very hard to remember yourself when you were 22 and not be stunned at how much of an idiot you were.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blackboard Check-in

So here is what the blackboard is up to these days, a line from one of Black Widow Press's books of Paul Eluard's stuff, Last Love Poems.  Everyone is always all "oh, the Spanish, the Spanish," but for me it's more Desnos and even Breton.  The French were more than just a gimmicky bunch of party boys.  But maybe nobody is accusing them of that.  And maybe you can like both Lorca and Eluard and you don't have to take sides.  I hadn't thought of that.
And in case you were wondering what happened to Mouse after his last adventure, in which he lost his heart, here is the conclusion of "Mouse."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It is rare that gardening is so exciting that you feel like every second counts, but this evening was one of those moments: Frost Warning. I've never had so much fragile stuff in the ground for a frost warning before, so the stakes were high. High enough to cover the freaky rainbow-hued heirloom tomatoes I'm trying this year, at least (not pictured). Looking at that red sheet on the lilac bush there, I think I'm going to have to go out and adjust it.
Last year, this was just an herb garden, but this year it's an herb/ cutting garden, so the bunkers have to be extra-fortified. For some reason, spending money on plants doesn't feel like spending money, but that doesn't mean I want to buy enough stuff to re-plant this thing.
Some blooms, you just have to say goodbye to. God by ye, Sweet Woodruff, my favorite shade plant. I will have that area under the peach tree cleared out a little more for you next year so you can run a little.
And some, you can only cross your fingers for. Siberian Iris, the single most anticipated bloom in my whole yard, I hope . . I hope . . I can't even talk about it--let's just not go there.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

I hadn't listened to PJ Harvey since, like, 1994, but apparently, somehow, she has persevered and still makes freaky and cool music.  There's a slightly cooler version of this song on NPR's All Songs Considered podcast, but this version is really good.

My 4 yr old is singing it now and has almost figured out how to work Youtube, so I think it's time to go to the library or something.

Update:  My wife Catherine hates this song.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dude, The Road trailer is out.  How did I not know this?  I don't know how this happened without me waking up in the middle of the night, distressed, with Catherine saying "what's wrong, honey?" and me responding "It's here.  On Youtube."  

Like most movies, the anticipation might be the sweetest part here, so I plan to make the most of it.  Maybe I will do so by preparing for some possible apocalypse in our lifetime, setting aside a thermos of drinking water, matches, and a copy of The Road as a kind of reference book. 

In fact, the majority of this emergency cache should be books, because the best thing about an apocalypse is that if you survive the initial firestorm, zombies, mutants, and search for a can-opener, you will have a lot of time to read.  It's the hunter-gatherer societies that have the most leisure time, after all. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Big parental rite of passage to-nite with our first ever attendance at one of the ol' end of school musical show-down things.  And yes, it was total cute overload.  I have two kids somewhere on that stage, I think.  Not sure.
None of these kids are mine, but three flutes and a clarinet and other peoples' kids are really cute, too.  You go there thinking you can't leave until you've watched a couple more groups after your kids are done--don't want to insult other parents you might get paired with when volunteering at the next carnival.  You scan the program carefully, deciding "okay, we can stay for these four acts, but we absolutely have to leave before 'Recorder Blues' comes on."  

But really, I made it through "Recorder Blues" without even realizing it.  I mean, all those kids, and they're happy and holding their hands to their eyes so they can try to spot their folks in the audience, and I don't even know.  I started thinking adoption, but I was pretty sure all these kids already had parents.  Just one of the cutest things and no, I don't think it will get old after a few years of it.
And then to top it all off I got to take this picture in the parking lot, one of those "Life is Good" sticker sets that get under my skin so with all their smugness, where you have a sticker for every member of the family to illustrate how everything is just fine in America.  These things carry implied messages, though, just like "Support the Troops" really means "Shut up about the war you cowardly French Pinko Hippie you can't handle the truth."  "Life is Good," on the other hand, I think reads "Shut up about raising my taxes your [sic] just jealous my kids go to a better school than yours."

Because the stickers above appear to have had Dad removed at some point, they suggest a different story: "Life is Not So Good" or maybe "Life is Sad."  Always have your camera with you.
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Friday, May 08, 2009

Things that have been made recently.

I made a pot rack.
My brother and his wife made me a nephew. Sullivan!! We're thinking red hair. Let this be his first mention on the internet.
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Lost Plan

People always ask me, they ask "hey, do you watch Lost," and my answer, it is always the same. I say "no."

My plan is to watch the last episode, in a couple years' time. Until then, I'm going to sign up for saxophone lessons every week at the same time that Lost comes on, on Saturday mornings before Bob the Builder, or whenever it is. I forget.

So in a couple years when the last episode comes on, I will throw a Lost party and invite all my friends who watch Lost to my house and we'll watch the last one and at the end we'll look at each other and say "so that's what the big four-toed statue thing is."

Then there will be a silence because people won't know what to talk about and I'll say "hey, listen to me, I'm going to play a saxophone song." And then I'll play it, real nice, on my saxophone that I have been practicing for two years while they've been watching Lost and when I'm done I'll look at them and say "There. I can play the saxophone. What can you do?" And they'll have nothing. They'll be like "We can't do anything. We've been watching Lost all this time, and just wondering about it and stuff."

Oh, that will be so sweet.

This is an old picture, but I don't have any spring '09 garden photos to upload yet. Film just can't capture what my phlox is doing this year, which is just beyond description. And the peach tree isn't blooming yet like it is in this photo, which has me worried the peach leaf curl fungus is taking its toll after a couple of summers. But anyway, spring. Some things have opened up for me and now I can read anything I want until, like, August. I'm dizzy with liberty.

Today I'm all excited about this spring poem, an acrostic, my littlun' wrote at school this week. I think it might be her first poem ever:

Firef gloe
In the nit they gloe
Ranbos are prite
Estr is fun
Fun dase are sile
Luv is gud
Yay for sping

Yes, yay for sping.
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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Saturday Indoors

"Postcolonial Family Planning: The Heredity of Desire in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace and Waiting for the Barbarians."

I came up with the title three weeks ago, have been composing the paper in my head for two weeks, and today I have to write it for realz. And it's sunny out. I'm locked in the library where it is supposed to be quiet, but the guy in the study room next to me is rocking some loud R&B, and out in the hall is a convention's worth of doulas and nutritionists all talking in the animated but knowingly serene voice reserved for the discussion of crunchy child-rearing. Conditions are not optimal.

Still, I'm confident I can get 6-8 pages out by 2:00 so we can drive out to the hippie drum circle May Day celebration I saw advertised at the coffee shop this morning. I will have to cross my fingers as I type.