September 26, 2010

Free Download! New Hoosier Pete Album

Field Recordings Volume One: Long Hot Summer is available for free download here.

Field Recordings started out as a sort of sketchbook: I was sitting out on the porch recording songs with my cell phone so I wouldn't forget them. I listened to a whole bunch of them together, and kinda liked the way they sounded, so I decided to go ahead and put them out there for anybody who wants them. Also included are a handful of recent poems.

Most of this was recorded late at night, with crazy humidity and ridiculous temperatures. I think that comes through pretty clearly.

I'm liking this: though the recording quality is pretty bad, and the playing isn't spectacular, I think it's a nice sketchbook.

If you are interested in keeping track of Hoosier Pete, I do make a token attempt to keep the HP MySpace page up to date, so that would be one way to do it.


September 25, 2010

In Rotation for the Bitter End of Summer

In Rotation

Television: Marquee Moon +
Tom Verlaine: Warm and Cool
Das Racist: Sit Down, Man
Grinderman: Grinderman 2
John Fahey: Live 7-15-72
Harry Pussy: In an Emergency You Can Shit on a Puerto Rican Whore
Bill Orcutt: A New Way to Pay Old Debts and Way Down South
Charlie McAlister: Mississippi Luau
V3: Photograph Burns
Various: Wolf's at the Door
Pink Faries: Kings of Oblivion
Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention: Burnt Weenie Sandwich, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Chunga's Revenge
Catherine Christer Hennix: The Electric Harpsichord
Boris Kovac: Ritual Nova
Suni McGrath: Childgrove
Vertical Slit: Twisted Steel & the Tits of Angels

From the bookshelf:

Sally Denton: The Bluegrass Conspiracy
Various ed. Joris and Rothenberg: Poems for the Millennium Volume Two
Jack Kerouac: San Francisco Blues
Jurgen Habermas: Toward a Rational Society
John Ross: Rebellion from the Roots: Indian Uprising in Chiapas
Various ed. Rothenberg: Technicians of the Sacred

September 12, 2010

Arty Farty

I have, deep inside me, the tendency to be a snob. I understand that about myself, and I take measures to push that part of my personality aside. For the most part, I'm successful . . . just a nice, level headed Midwestern boy.

For the most part, that is.

Along the same lines, I used to be a State Fair hater, but no more. It's not that I have finally, after all these years, joined the irony culture . . . no, although Sharri dragged me there kicking and screaming, I loved it. Next year, I'm all over it. All week. And I can only hope that Joan Jett comes back.

Before I launch into this rant proper, I need to point out that Sharri brought home the tapestry. Fourth place for the J.R. "Bob" Dobbs sweater, third for some socks, and second for a hat/scarf combo. Not bad for her first year.

She's already plotting for the blue next year. I'm trying not to get involved, which isn't a problem for knitting, but she's talking doll houses as well. I'll be drafted for that.

And one more shout out for the grand ol' American fairgrounds:

Yes, that's right, the American Carnage Tour, with Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Like the 80's never died. I am so there.

Anyway, back to the topic . . .

So we went into the exhibition hall, and went all the way back to check out Sharri's ribbon haul in the knitting exhibition. After checking out the different fabric arts categories, Sharri moved on to the quilting section. As impressive as the quilts were, the section was huge (there are a whole bunch of badass quilters in Kentucky, apparently), and Sharri was much more interested in the craft than I was. So, after a cursory surf through the quilts, I moved on to the art exhibit. Fifteen minutes later, I had to step away because I was laughing so hard that I was starting to attract attention. Yes, the snob had come back out, but I couldn't help it. This shit was killing me. After I caught my breath, I dove back in, this time squeezing off a few rounds with the digital Nikon. I had to move quick so as not to draw too much attention to myself. And, lo! I am going to share my bounty with you, along with appropriately pithy (though understated) commentary, Here are the highlights:

Well, one more caveat before I start: I am not a visual artist. Not because I haven't tried - I took a drawing class in college, and I was horrible. I ended up with a "B" in the class (because of my "theoretical aesthetic edge"), but I have no skills whatsoever. I am not making fun of these people . . . well, I am goofing on their art, but I'm sorry. This shit is just too funny. And no, I can't do better. Okay, actually I probably could do better than a few of these, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. And now, on with the show!

There's something I'm missing here. The jungle cats were HUGE . . . not just in painting, but in needlepoint and other sewing venues as well. Why? I don't get it. Is there something hypnotic about the fierce gaze of the JUNGLE CAT?

You can't really see it in the photo, but this one had a leaf incorporated into its mane, a grass flower for an eyebrow, and grass blades for its whiskers. Look out people, I've been psychedelicized!!

Which is the cue for the David Gilmour award winner for the painting most banally representing a Pink Floyd influence (from PF's most banal period, of course):

Us (us us us us) and Them (them them them them) . . .

Let's pause to drop some eagles on the proceedings:

. . . and indeed, that is a red 2nd place ribbon on that top one. Not a great photo (remember, I was shooting these from the hip), but if you blow it up and look close, you can see, along with the crazy detail, weirdly anthropomorphized eagle heads, especially on the one to the left. The other one . . . well, it is what it is. Live the glory.

There were also Lincolns all over the place, though the paucity of photos indicates that they were all reasonably executed, if not exactly spectacular. The true 'mericans in Kin-tucky still love them some Abe . . . it is the birthplace of Lincoln, after all (as opposed to the adolescent home of Abe [Indiana] and the young adult party grounds of the ol' railsplitter [Illinois]). It appears that it will take a couple years for Glenn Beck to ruin Lincoln for the state of Kentucky . . . but mark my words, he will. Even GB doesn't have the audacity to remake/reterritorialize/explain away Honest Abe . . . or does he?

Okay, time to stop being a complete dick. Here's one I like:

Apparently, what we have here is an old black and white photo with blue bear stickers all over it. Is this bear recognizable to anyone? Is this some cartoon character that I should recognize? Anyway, I really like this one.

Whoops, look out! Another jungle cat!

And now, to pinch a phrase from Todd Rundgren*, another of an infinite series from the Ever Popular Torture Artist Effect:

Exquisite! Martially composed around the messianic pose subverted by reversal, this hard-art gem works a multi-layered tattoo motif (actual tattoo on back, tattoo background motif with foregrounded tattoo vine) built around pop-culture Christian references (the reversed crucifixion pose, the sacred heart cross tattoo, the single ghostly angel's wing), moodily contextualized by dark storm clouds with white cumuli for effect. The rough-hewn draughtsmanship neatly subverts any bourgeois artistic pretensions, making this proletariat art with benefits.

Hey, I kid . . . but at least this one has multiple layers to analyze.

Unlike another example of the EPTAE:

Uhm, I know I'm being an asshole, but can we get much more cliche than the marionette image here? A-and, it's a woman, being controlled by a man? Okay, I'm buying, but can we work just a little bit harder for the images? If you're going to tell me a story, can you tell me one I haven't heard A MILLION FUCKING TIMES?

Okay, time for another one I like:

This one was by an eighth grader. There were a few "cutting edge" (fresh for '86) works which explored a connection between commercial art, cartoon art, and minimalist repetition . . . ohh, so postmodern . . . but this is the only one which did it successfully. There is a tension here between the minimalist structure and the rough execution of the dodos - not to mention the oddity of having dodos as a focus - that removes it from the strictly clean "commercial art" theater. The individual dodos, taken as a gesture, are interesting strokes, and the randomly (naive) postmodern whole is an interesting sum of its parts. This isn't the Guernica, for the love of God, but I would hang this on my wall, which is the ultimate test of art, isn't it?

And, well, ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has entered the building:

There is a nice move on that first one: a normal painting of Elvis with a black velvet frame! There's only one problem with the painting: it doesn't look like Elvis. And as far as that goes, neither does the second one. Not exactly dumbass bullshit, but FAILS nonetheless.

Oh, wait, the Kentucky culture painting:

See, 'cause it's got Churchill Downs in the background, and roses foregrounded (clumsily, but who's keeping track?). The Kentucky Derby as the defining element of Kentucky . . . the run for the roses, get it?

Uhm, tell me: why are those giant flowers invading those buildings?

And tell me why someone who would go to the trouble of meticulously imitating a Jackson Pollack would put a brass frame around it? Doesn't that miss the point at a very fundamental level?

Speaking of the legendary masters, here's our Bob Ross tribute. I like how winter showed up in the middle of the summer to envelop the mountain, but stopped just behind that stand of bushes. So, when you walk out the door of the cabin, is the temperature in the 60's, then you hike back through the trees, and it drops 30 degrees?

Yow! Bloody Satanic anime, straight from mom's basement! Wish I could have gotten more of the detail on this . . .

I'm really surprised I didn't see more wolf-inspired art - but maybe that's just a T-shirt thing. I actually kind of like the energy of the stroke and composition on this one, which means it doesn't have the requisite tackiness it takes for me to enjoy a wolf painting.

Now wasn't the most backhanded compliment you ever heard in your life?

Rodney Dangerfield? Done New Yorker cartoon style? On a huge canvas? At the Kentucky State Fair? I've got nothin' here.

Aw, cute polar bears. Such gentle and loving creatures, those polar bears. I wish I could have me a fuzzy warm polar bear to snuggle up with on those long, cold, arctic Kentucky winter nights (Louisville, land of the midnight sun!).

There were cute animal paintings all over the place. Most of them were dogs . . . many golden retrievers, if memory serves. No dog pictures here - even I have my limits.

Here's Caucasian Jesus (or Charleton-Heston-as-a-Mexican-in-Touch-of-Evil Jesus) saving the little white blue-eyed blond-haired children. Very traditional. Very caucasian.

The Beatles, psychedelic saints!

Super-cool Dale Earnhardt boat! S. S. Intimidator! That green ribbon should have been white (at least!).

Whoops, not from the art exhibit. This would be the giant walk-through colon.


This one is crazy - I wish I had a better picture, because the details here are insane. Starting, of course, with the obligatory eye on the pyramid. The eagle's ribbon reads "Bilderberg" and "Trilateral". Check out the stripes on the shield: they are rivulets of blood! Check out the globe down in the lower left: atomic mushroom cloud explosions all over the world! Up top it gets really bizarre: there is what appears to be a bloated baby with cartoonishly paristaltic umbilical chord and an old man's face, with a giant throbbing brain like a sci-fi/Star Trek monster. To the left there appears to be a sambo (?!) and a giant hypodermic needle. I have no idea what is going on here . . . and I'm not sure I want to.

Well, at least it addresses the world, unlike all those damn cute animal paintings.

As does this gem:

Lady Liberty, in black and white, crying a single red, white, and blue tear.


Well, there you have it, a little slice of Kentucky. To be fair, there was some really beautiful work in the photo realist vein, but pictures wouldn't have done it justice. These were the works that made this exhibition fun for me.

See you out at the fairgrounds next August.


* Soon to be a visiting lecturer at the Indiana University School of Music (Fall 2010)

September 11, 2010


This is my 9/11 memorial from a couple years ago. A new assessment is required (given the continually disintegrating atmosphere), but it will have to wait at least another year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There was crazy barge traffic on the river today. I couldn't see all of them over the trees, but I could see the stacks and hear the engines. My legs were burning, so I took the flat high path into Portland instead of dipping down by the river. I could hear the tug straining to push the barges a bit faster than the usual lazy saunter you see them do. On the way back, pedaling through Lannan Park, there was one tug shoving its load upriver in the locks, while up at the switchback by 22nd Street another rig was waiting its turn on the upriver side. By the switchback, at about the point where I noticed the unusual amount of barge traffic, a UPS 747 flew low over the river. About an eighth of a mile up, another UPS plane flew over. Commerce was bubbling in the overcast mid-morning.

Construction trucks were jamming the path on the downtown side of Portland, pushing me behind schedule. Usually that's one of the stretches I can put my head down and fly (or some reasonable facsimile thereof), but today it was more like the riverwalk stretch, where I have to dodge in and out of pedestrians, lollygaggers, Belle of Louisville workers having a smoke break, etc. I never regained my momentum, deciding instead just to chill for the rest of the ride. I jumped off the path up by the skatepark, and took a leisurely wheel through the neighborhood instead of running Adams Street uphill to my house. It took me an extra ten minutes. I need to stay on my bike more, or get up to the Y and get on a stationary when my bike breaks down. The end of the season is approaching, and my condition is more like the beginning of the season.

There is, of course, the symmetry. Fractal geometry tells us there's symmetry down to infinity. Seven years almost to the minute prior to my noticing the first UPS plane, the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. This will be our generation's symmetry, replacing the previous generation's Pearl Harbor, stapled forever into our public consciousness by state-of-the-art television coverage in the media capital in the world.

I was doing inventory at the Clarksville store. It was not a pleasant day for several reasons: I had to be there at 6 a.m., and I am not a morning person; Inventory is never pretty, especially when (like me) you are lax on paperwork organization; it's never fun spending the day with the regional manager, and so on. By 8:30 we were done with the front end so that the arriving salespeople could put the showroom back together and open the store. I was back in the warehouse when a CSR came back and said "come up and look at this, a plane flew into a building in New York". And there it was, the smoking North Tower.

Both towers were down by the time we went to lunch. We had several TVs turned to the news in various points throughout the store, but we decided against running the news on the main feed to the salesfloor, thereby avoiding having over a hundred replications of burning towers glaring at the front door like some J. G. Ballard stage set. Information gleaned in passing seeped in like rumor. Between finishing up the inventory, waiting on customers, and the confusion in the media, we weren't quite sure what was going on. The inventory group (including my regional manager) decided on Hooters for lunch. Now, there's not a lot that annoys me more than Hooters: if you wanna decent steakhouse burger, head over the Logan's at the corner of the lot, where you can get a well-executed (though somewhat unimaginative) pepperjack burger. If you're going to engage in inappropriate work behavior, don't make it borderline: head back across the river to the Gold Showclub on Market. We can stop along the way and cash in a couple twenties for a fistful of ones. When we get there, we can toss back scotch & sodas, discuss the upcoming fourth quarter retail season, and express our undying admiration for the big girls. Hell, we can go to White Castle for all I care – anywhere but Hooters, with its crappy overpriced bar food and empty promise of naughty girl/high school cheerleader sex, a tableau with cameltoe. But there they were, standing around the office, "Hooters for lunch?" I carefully considered my job and decided that this was only the second to last straw.

Waiting for my lunch, I was mentally tabulating the bill to see if it would fit on my debit card in case RM didn't pick up the tab (he didn't). One thing worse than a crappy overpriced lunch is a crappy overpriced lunch with a bounced check fee added. RM was droning on about my filing system or lack thereof, while I was focusing my energy on maintaining the bland laid back exterior which functions like a wax seal between the boiling acid of my contempt and the rest of my workaday world. "The most important thing to me," he says, "is to see you make progress on corralling the paperwork in the store." "No," I thought, "the most important thing to you is that I maintain my cool and not rip your fucking throat out." After a quarter hour or so, I was able to shut down my interior monologue and ride the somber wave of the day. My compatriots at the table were unusually muted in their pro-forma ass kissing. Though we still didn't really know what was going on, there was a gray pall that mirrored the rain outside. Our words were empty, their masks having been torn away. Words were placeholders for long dead ghosts. We didn't pretend otherwise, for at least the time being.

The oddest thing: that old PE song, "911 is a Joke", kept running through my head. A bitter joke indeed. We have yet to figure out just what the joke is.

Today was cloudy and muted as well. John McCain saw his pal Rudy Giuliani get booted from the primaries with his "Noun, verb, 9/11" platform, so he wisely decided that this is the one time he best not overestimate the gullibility of the voting populace. He invited his nemesis Obama to join him in not making hay of the stars -n- stripes on All Fall Down Day, and Obama eagerly accepted the draw, understanding that he could do no right with the Injured Middle American anyway. NPR, engaged in wall-to-wall Sarah Palin coverage, let the date pass with a modest mention or two. The BBC uncharacteristically went for the biggest drama, setting each of their main desk correspondents on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. As for the rest of the media outlets . . . well, it doesn't matter, they're dead to me. NPR only survives because I forget how to reset my clock radio.

Come September 12th, McCain will be back on his horse, making up for the time he conceded today. 9/11 will come up. Maybe even Obama will bring it up first in an effort to outflank him. Either way, the fractals will spread before us, the patterns will repeat, and the words will again don their masks. Somewhere else, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist will once again devalue Third World rage against the US because, surely, only the US Government (or, of course, the Mossad) could actually pull off an operation like 9/11. Someone else somewhere else will pontificate about chickens and roosting. 9/11 barely merits a dip in the noise these days, and the spirals will only amplify as time moves forward, muting themselves again in symmetrical units (10, 20, 25, 50, 75, 100) until it all blends together in the background wash like tires on wet pavement.

September 12th, 2001 was very quiet. Down here on the river, no planes marked the Ohio on the way in to Standiford Field. The constant roar of planes into the UPS hub was silenced. The Jazz Posse beachhead on Rufer Avenue was in another world without the treetop approaches of the UPS planes. Louisville, with its disproportionate level of air traffic, seemed frozen in time. Today, September 11, 2008, commerce clots the river and the skies above.

Tonight at Target, I am reminded of George Bush's exhortation to BUY! for America. It worked pretty well for a while. We pulled out our plastic and bought our way out of recession. The problem is, we kept buying and buying to keep the wolves from the door, but now our cards are maxed, and the wolf is calling again. Sooner or later we're going to have to deal with that recession we avoided, and it looks like the time is now.

Fractal patterns, repeating endlessly: the economy expands, the economy contracts. Information, even culture itself, has become fractal, repetitious, self-replicating. 9/11 moved from event to caesurae to trace to a fractal reflection in the time that it took to focus. True, 9/11 was big enough that the monster choked, but, soon enough, 9/11 was subsumed – first the t-shirts and politicians with t-shirt sloganeering, the commentators reterritorializing with every masked word out of their mouths. Then the jingoist public figures, "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch, the conspiracy theory to close the circle. We can, as a people, explain away anything . . . just drown it in noise and repetition and assume that, like the sun, it will rise every morning.

Coming out of Target, I decided I needed noise in a very literal sense, so I slipped Pig Destroyer into the Maxx's CD player and gave it a boost. Not long after 9/11, Tony put an "Operation Infinite Justice" window hanger in the front door of 138 Adams – it was the one with the American flag and the burning tower in the background, with a bald eagle shedding a single tear in the foreground. He figured he needed an American flag beard on the door. That was not paranoid behavior at the time.

Tonight, I will pour myself a glass of green iced tea, print out some more CD covers, and do my best to avoid election coverage. I've got a show tomorrow. Thankfully, I'm finishing this thing early enough that I can get up in the morning and get back out on my bike. Unless it rains.

September 9, 2010

Jackassery All Around

So the Dove World isn't going to be burning Korans after all. Not to fear! Westoboro Baptist Church is stepping up to the plate! Korans will be roasted on 9/11!

Sheesh. Jackassery all around.

No, burning Korans is not the same as building an Islamic cultural center near the site of the World Trade Centers. Burning Korans is an act of marginalization, an act of hate. Building an Islamic cultural center is a bid for acceptance. There is not an equivalence.

Both acts are protected. If assholes want to burn Korans, we can't stop them. Anyone can build a church anywhere zoning permits.

We should expect counter protests from the Muslim world. One good protest deserves another. Burn some Korans, they'll burn some bibles, or some American flags, everyone will have a good time, then they'll go home. No harm, no foul.

Perhaps some more extreme Muslims will go further. General Petraeus says that it could put American lives in danger. Is that Pastor Jones fault? No, even if it is a foreseeable consequence of his hateful action, a response beyond all measure can not be a legitimate part of the equation. Burn some bibles, sure. Killing people? That's not on him, that's on the killers. We lefties come down on the Israelis for the murderous response against the Turkish aid vessel trying to breach the blockade of Palestine, but the aid vessel was bent on confrontation, and they got it. The Israeli response was provoked . . . beyond all measure, but provoked. In the same way, we can't blame the bible freaks if Islamo-fascists kill anyone over the Koran burning.

We also, as progressives, can't continue to let nutjobs like Terry Jones and Fred Phelps stand as representatives for Christianity while we continue to differentiate between violent, radical Muslims and the mainstream of the Islamic faith. We can in no way find it "understandable" that a Muslim would be driven into a homicidal rage by the burning of a Koran, while not tolerating anti-Islamic sentiments post-9/11. Violence is violence, hate is hate. There should be zero tolerance for hate.

In spite of the surfeit of positive religious role models in my life, I am profoundly skeptical of religion, though ultimately it is clear that the problem is with the human, not the "divine". In both the Muslim world and the Christian world, there is jackassery all around.

September 5, 2010

The Outbox

Another compendium of half-formed ideas . . .

Hit the North! (Redux)

Bonus time up north! Another week of virtually perfect weather up out of the heat. My my!

Nice and quiet this time - just Sharri & I with mom & dad. We spent a little more time cruising the countryside, checking out little places we haven't seen been to before, like Christmas Cove (above), Mission Point, Good Harbor Beach, and a few other places. Dad fired up the party barge and we got most of the way into the southern lake, and at a much more relaxed pace. We also spent a little more time tearing around at full speed in the powerboat.

Not as much reading this time, either. I did pick up Ted Morgan's memoir, My Battle of Algiers.

One of these days, I'll spend more time talking about Up North . . . just not right now.

All in all, a nice mellow end to the summer, especially given how annoying August has been. The summer has a whole has been a tad bit more annoying than I would like, which is kinda a drag, since I spend the whole year looking forward to summer. Oh well, onward and upward.

Here's to an exciting fall.

* * * * *

In Rotation

Sir Richard Bishop: All Strung Out
Mahler: 9th Symphony
Various: Dirty Dirty (featuring Son House, Charlie Patton, Charlie Poole, Cliff Carlisle, Skip James, Dock Boggs, Yank Rachel, Lottie Kimbrough, Blind Willie McTell, Frank Hutchison, Willie Eason, Memphis Minnie, Washington Phillips, Homer Callahan, and more)
Ennio Morricone: Crime & Dissonance
OST: The Limits of Control
Shostakovich: 5th Symphony
The Milkshakes: Live from Chatham
Various: Psych Funk 101

* * * * *

Blame the Government

There was a gag order dropped in the Roger Clemens hearings, so we won't be subjected to the annoying media circus as much as we could have been. In the short time that they were allowed to speak, both Clemens and his lawyer made a clear outline of how they were going to run this in the press: it's us against the government. In other words, Clemens wasn't going to try to plead ignorance (a la Barry Bonds), or attack his opponents from his morally superior perch (a la Lance Armstrong), he was going to join the Tea Party in running against Obama.

It's the government, people. They want to take away your guns. They want to build mosques in your backyard. They want to take away your income by taxing you. They want to let everybody in the country. They want the socialists to take over. They want to marginalize and persecute the good Christians.

They want to put Roger Clemens behind bars.

God, guns, and a free Roger Clemens. That's America.

On one level, I do agree with the faithful: we have no business trying Roger Clemens for lying to Congress. Congress had no business wasting their time investigating PEDs in sports. They have much more important things to worry about.

* * * * *

Summertime Blues

I recently re-read Jack Kerouac's San Francisco Blues. The basic premise is that the series of poems are short bursts ("choruses") of blues, with the final line of one poem leading into the next "chorus". The poems are limited to fitting onto one page of a notebook small enough to fit into Kerouac's pocket.

The poems themselves are a mixed bag, and I have no interest in even approximating Kerouac's voice. I am interested in the notebook schtick, and I like the sharp, jagged rhythms of the best of the blues poems.

I'm going to try to scare up 75 poems or so for next summer. We'll see how that goes.


hotcha! State Fair time in the old town
the natives are out
  flashing displaced graphics
  and hysterical edge
  life during wartime's perpetual state

  one dimensional
eyes of jungle cats
"look, she's gonna pop right fuckin' here!"
off to the side
rivers & tributaries
gently swirling backwaters
there's a pickaninny in that case, over there
Kentucky detritus collecting in puddles
  & eddies off to the side
filtering into the rivers
throbbing thick blood behind the temples
anger just below the
hysterical above


hello, then!
the grass grows thinner, browns out
sandy, sandy pine
gone white
clarity in the air

who knows
what runs in the clear pines
"Take to the mountains," he said,
"if the government is a problem.
Make them come get you
& then shoot down on them
from high rocks."
          not the same, perhaps
but mixed oak, maple, birch
provide cover

white nation, white nation
curtain drawn, it's here
it's down the street
"no one gets my gun"


edge of town used to be
Wendy's & The Flap Jack Shack
up over the hill
from sandy orchard & sparse grain

corn's imperative barely met here
by narrow wizened farmers
Eastern European Catholic features
sharpened by wind & struggle
         up north
         isolation subtext
growing's a struggle waged alone
wheat not corn
cherries and apples not grapes

the damn wineries came in
grapes a spreading fungus
cherry trees displaced, brittle, dead, cracking
new tasting rooms run by old farmers
first the corn, now the grapes
in Gills Pier
Polish saints protect us
from the modern world

Once again, effing Blogger wipes out all my typographical stunts, so you'll have to wait until it gets published to see the final versions. [UPDATE: the new Blogger editor allows different kinds of indents, so the poems above are in their actual forms]

And by the way, did you know Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay also owns the original scroll from Kerouac's On the Road? Gotta love Wikipedia.

Oh, and more on the state fair in an upcoming post.

* * * * *

The Reds? Are You Kidding Me?

Well, my Tigers drained all the drama out of the AL Central by collapsing around All Star break instead of at the end of the season. They're playing okay baseball right now, but at ten back, they're not catching the Twins because, unlike the Tigers last year, the Twins won't fold. For the record, I don't see the Sox catching the Twins either, Manny or not.

But, what's this? The Reds in first place? Sure didn't see that coming.

As they say, stay tuned. I would love to see the Reds deep into the post season.

* * * * *


If you are sleeping on the world basketball championships, wake up. "America's B Team" is playing some of the most fun basketball you're going to see for quite a while.

Basketball traditionally breaks down its starting five into specialized roles, and anyone who recruits an all-star team generally defines the roles, and then finds the best players to fill those roles. This version of the US National team went with the best players, regardless of position. As a result, it's a team full of guards and small forwards, with Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love being the only big men on the team. As a result, you've got Lamar Odom, normally a 2-3 even though he's 6' 10", playing center, as well as Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, and Danny Granger, all muscular 2-3's, playing power forward.

I see the mark of Kryzewski on this team: he's trying to really establish himself as a basketball genius, not just a motivator of young men. He's trying to go to the logical extension of the Bob Knight defense-first school, pumped up Nolan Richardson-style. This is an amazing chance to see just how exciting defense can be.

It's too bad that Rajon Rondo didn't work out for this team, but if you turn the rock over and can't hit jumpers, the international game punishes you even more than the American game does. On the other hand, I'm glad they gave Eric Gordon a chance, because his inside/outside game goes well internationally, and his lack of a mid-range game doesn't get exposed like it occasionally does stateside. Kevin Love also does well in this set up, since he's more than happy to mix it up physically with anyone you can throw at him.

Overall, the defense is breathtaking, but the offense will make or break this team. They are currently undefeated, but now they're playing for real in the one-and-done round. Catch it if you can.

* * * * *

Uh, Starfish?

So, I'm thinking of creating an animal metaphor to represent my truly enviable attributes to the world at large. Let's see, I could be a strong, soaring eagle, or a powerful bear, or a graceful deer. I could be a sage owl, a proud lion, a faithful hound, or an inscrutable cat. I could be a showy peacock, a bizarre giraffe, a timeless elephant. I could be a slimy lizard, an indestructible cockroach. Or I could be a starfish.

A freaking starfish.

To be fair, the Tea Party didn't choose this metaphor for themselves. It comes from a book written by Rod Beckstrom called The Starfish and the Spider. The idea, in short, is that decentralized organizations are stronger because you can't kill them by cutting off the head - hence, the spider v. the starfish metaphor. This idea could probably as easily applied to Al Qaeda . . . and it does make sense.

You can follow the metaphor out to its logical conclusion. A starfish is capable of surviving and regenerating lost limbs, which makes it a uniquely durable organism. But if these "decentralized" organisms have superior survival characteristics, then why hasn't evolution determined that more of these types of organisms would end up higher on the evolutionary ladder? It seems that maybe nature prefers centralized biological systems after all.

Not trying to make a specific political point here, just pointing out the obvious.

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More Rhetorical Genius Courtesy the Commonwealth

“Many of these mandates affect small business owners who don’t have the resources to hire an army of lawyers and accountants to comply with all these burdensome regulations. The more time small business owners spend pushing paper, the less time they have to focus on creating jobs.

That would be the representative of Kentucky's fourth, Geoff Davis.

'Cause, you know, if it weren't for all that paperwork, these people would be out there pulling jobs out of their asses.

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Chamber of Horrors

So, this is old news, but I've been avoiding talking about the Chamber of Commerce because they make me crazy.

What's with this "crisis of confidence" bullshit anyway?

There has been a lot of chatter in the news about how the recovery has not translated into more jobs. The Chamber of Commerce essentially says that business owners are sitting on their money because of a "crisis of confidence" . . . which, of course, they explicitly blame on the Obama administration.

Now, "crisis of confidence" the kind of talk that should drive the stereotypical self-sufficient American superman completely nuts. If you have a "crisis of confidence", then whose fault is that? What kind of wimpy psychobabble is that?

There are obvious alliances between NGOs and political parties - unions and Democrats, the Chamber and Republicans. Ostensibly these NGOs will align with the party that will do them the most good, and it is understandable that they would be semi-permanent alignments given the philosophical underpinnings of the parties. Of course, these NGOs will campaign for the political parties that they are aligned with. Maybe I'm projecting here, but it seems to me that the Chamber has become more of an advocacy group for Republicans than an advocacy group for businessmen. Unions always seem to work for the best interests of their constituents, and to the degree that those interests are addressed by Democrats, unions work for Democrats. The Chamber seems to be working for the best interests of Republicans, and to the degree that those interests match the interests of businessmen, The Chamber works for businessmen. That may seem to be a subtle distinction, but it's not. The fact that their stated primary purpose is actually a secondary purpose makes them untrustworthy. Sort of like Fox News, if you know what I mean.

And besides, the real businessmen know that the best time to make your move is when your competition is suffering a "crisis of confidence".

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That's it for now. I'll do the Kentucky State Fair art post next.