Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Gay Pride + US Exits World Cup 2010

Today in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and other cities across the US and globe, people are celebrating Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender Pride, crowning what has been LGBTQ Pride Month. Other cities and municipalities have already held Pride celebrations, and others will be taking place throughout the summer and fall. It's been 41 years since the Stonewall Rebellion and similar uprisings, and 40 years since New York's first Gay Pride parade, which marke a new, public self-regard among gays and lesbians in the US. There have been tremendous civil, political and social advances for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the US and many parts of the world, but there are many more barriers to overcome, one of the most basic being complete and full equal and civil rights under the law. That, along with greater economic, political and social equality for LGBTQ people remains an issue in the US, as it does all over the world. 


So the USA national soccer team is out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup after losing, once again, to Ghana.  The team's great but brief run included tying England 1-1 in its first game, drawing (and defeating, though the goal was denied) Slovenia in its second game, and defeating Algeria 1-0, quite dramatically, on Landon Donovan's goal in stoppage time, on Friday, to finish atop its group, C, over England. This number 1 finish in the opening round was a national first.  In the first two games, the US fell behind, only to come back--and, in the case of Slovenia, pull ahead. Facing Ghana in this Round of 16, the US again fell behind, on a defensive error, their weakest area, and went down 1-0, on a goal by Kevin Prince Boateng, until a successful penalty kick by Landon Donovan brought them even. But a tie doesn't suffice in the second round, so the US and Ghana went to overtime, and, once again, the US slipped, on another defensive misplay, when Asamoah Gyan struck on a breakaway.  The Americans couldn't come back again, falling 2-1 to the Ghanaians and out of the tournament.  At the game's start, the US team looked tentative; they appeared to lack any real strategy to press the Ghanaians, to manufacture a goal or two, or to at least expose their opponent's flaws, while the Ghanaians appeared to be relentlessly on the hunt. Yet by the beginning of the second half, the US, perhaps after a locker room dressing down, the realization that they were sending themselves home, or an emergence from 45 minutes of stupor, came out with effervescence, and kept pressing the Ghanaian defense and goalkeeper.  This led to the Ghanaian foul against Dempsey that set up Donovan's penalty kick. Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, and Dempsey all took shots on goal, but as has been the case with the US in World Cup games, they were off-target, straight at the goalkeeper, or had no followup. Sadly, there rarely seems to be a US player ready to pick up a rebound or errant ball the way Donovan did against Algeria. I'm not sure why, but it's been a recurrent problem for US teams each World Cup tournament. On top of this, the US looked exhausted by the end of the second half, and by the beginning of overtime, they were unable to connect passes or make decisive plays against the Ghanaians. They didn't give up, but it was clear that despite all their efforts, their tanks were empty.  Ghana, the only African team left in the tournament, advances to the quarterfinals.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

PARK @ Freshkills Park

I've posted several times about my colleague poet/scholar/translator Jennifer Scappettone, who teaches at the University of Chicago and who was one of the primary forces behind the wonderful visit of some of Italy's leading experimental poets to the US a year ago.  Most recently I wrote briefly and posted photos from her performance at the Red Rover experimental poetry-performance series in Chicago. At that event and after, Jennifer told me about her spring residency at Freshkills Park, which is the new incarnation of what was once the largest (29,000 tons of trash a day) landfill in the US, the notorious Freshkills Land Fill, in Staten Island.  As part of her residency, she worked with choreographer and dancer Kathy Westwater, and architect/designer Seung Jae Lee to create a site-specific dance-poetry-performance version of one of Westwater's pieces, "PARK," at the park, and I decided not to miss it.

Below are photos and short videos from the performance, which required getting to the Manhattan Staten Island Ferry terminal at 9 am this morning, riding on a bus from the St. George Ferry terminal (on which we got an excellent introduction by Freshkills Park Outreach Coordinator Doug Elliott) to the park, and then visiting two different sites at which the performance unfolded. It was, to put it simply, unforgettable.  I'm no dance critic so I won't even try to describe it, but I did appreciate how the performance metaphorically and symbolically explored ideas concerning our consumerist, throwaway society and our relation to garbage/waste/debris, our (re-)constructions of "nature," "land" and "landscape," our struggles to communicate, community and atomization in relation to the natural world and (human) bodies, and, throughout, the role of time, in a setting like this still-unfinished, still-transforming "park." Kathy Westwater's and Jennifer's performance of insideness and outsideness, and their conceptualization of participation, involving themselves, the performers, the audience, and the surrounding landscape--with the wind providing an ever-shifting soundtrack, as the videos attest--was also enlightening.

Here's the writeup from the Freshkills Park blog:
It seems like no New York City site has truly been inaugurated as a public space until it has hosted an avant-garde dance performance.  Our time has come!  A group of artists and performers organized by choreographer Kathy Westwater has developed a movement-based project responding to their research and on-site study of the Freshkills Park site over several visits this spring.  PARK, as the project is called, isn’t a traditional dance performance—more a combination of movement, writing, and game playing.  It is “concerned with our construction and consumption of nature.”
Kathy and her dancers have previously performed PARK in locations as varied as Yosemite Park and Dance Theater Workshop in Chelsea.

And now, the photos and videos:

Jennifer Scappettone (poet/scholar), in white, dancers in background
Jennifer Scappettone (in white, in foreground), with dancers and audience around her
Dancers on the hill
The dancers on the first hill
The string phone
One of the string phones at the second hilltop (note how far it stretches into the meadow)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quote: Pierre Bourdieu

The essence of neoliberalism

"And yet the world is there, with the immediately visible effects of the implementation of the great neoliberal utopia: not only the poverty of an increasingly large segment of the most economically advanced societies, the extraordinary growth in income differences, the progressive disappearance of autonomous universes of cultural production, such as film, publishing, etc. through the intrusive imposition of commercial values, but also and above all two major trends. First is the destruction of all the collective institutions capable of counteracting the effects of the infernal machine, primarily those of the state, repository of all of the universal values associated with the idea of the public realm. Second is the imposition everywhere, in the upper spheres of the economy and the state as at the heart of corporations, of that sort of moral Darwinism that, with the cult of the winner, schooled in higher mathematics and bungee jumping, institutes the struggle of all against all and cynicism as the norm of all action and behaviour."

-Pierre Bourdieu, from "The Essence of Neoliberalism", Le Monde, December 1998

(h/t to Marc Garrett, via iDC)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Graduation Day + Birthday + Adeus Saramago + Adios (Old New) New York

Although I've already congratulated this year's graduates, since today is GRADUATION DAY, let me extend my deepest CONGRATULATIONS again!


Yesterday was my birthday. C made a delicious pasta dish (penne con funghi), and baked one of his signature desserts, a coconut-lemon cake, which, as the photo below shows, we dove right into. I'm willing to turn 45 weekly if it results in that meal and one of these cakes!


Yesterday around the time that Reggie H. sent me the link I saw online that José Saramago (1922-2010) had passed. He was, without a doubt, one of the major writers in contemporary world literature, and one of Portugal's greatest novelists.  I must confess that although I can read Portuguese (to some extent), I've only read his novels in English; years ago, when after teaching myself the rudiments of Portuguese I realized I couldn't speak the language, so I engaged an Azorean tutor-conversationalist in Cambridge who had me read selections from the works of Fernando Namora, Jorge de Sena, José Cardoso Pires, Augustina Bessa-Luís, and several other major 20th century Portuguese (but never Brazilian) writers, including some whom she wasn't so fond of, like Antonio Lobo-Antunes. But Saramago was, I recall, "too difficult" for a beginner. By this, I later gathered as I read his work in English, his formally experimental prose, often comprising long, paratactic and sometimes hypotactic sentences, broken up mainly by commas and few periods, and shifting at times abruptly between points of view and perspectives, while interspersed with direct authorial commentary and philosophizing, certainly would have proved a challenge. Yet I've found that in English at least, Saramago's works, once you engage the prose's rhythms, aren't as narratively difficult in the way that William Faulkner's, Juan Goytisolo's, Claude Simon's, or  are. Nor are they philosophically demanding in the way that superficially more formally simple novels of Clarice Lispector are, or linguistically as impenetrable as Julián Ríos or João Guimarães Rosa (i.e., untranslatable). Saramago is very interested in the traditions not just of the novel but of storytelling, and stories, sometimes remarkable ones, often allegorical and symbolic, his novels do tell. Saramago attributed this deep devotion to story to his illiterate grandparents, great storytellers thesmselves, who reared him when his parents left the small Santarém district village of Azinhaga, where he was born, to look for work in Lisbon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bloomsday + Congrats to the Grads + Buffett's Giveaway + Krugman/Cassandra

It's Bloomsday! "STATELY, PLUMP BUCK MULLIGAN CAME FROM THE STAIRHEAD, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressing gown, ungirdled, was sustained gently-behind him by the mild morning air..." and you know, or know of, the rest. (If not, you can find the entire, remarkable novel, Ulysses, one of the greatest ever written in the English or any other language, here.) You can hear Joyce himself reading from it here, at Bedeutung Blog.

To commemorate today there's the annual Lilac Bloomsday Run, as well as the Bloomsday Festival in Dublin and elsewhere. Apple, steadily gaining a reputation for prudery regarding its iPhone and iPad applications (and the anti-porn comments of its founder-guru), has decided to reinstate Throwaway House's Ulysses Seen app, created by which it had previously censored because of its depiction of partial nudity (an imagined goddess's breasts, Buck Mulligan's penis, egads!)

I haven't seen this app, but given how the entire novel ends, I wonder if that was bowdlerized too. To Apple's credit, they also reinstated a graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, which features a strip of a male couple kissing, after having heavily censored it.  Something tells me neither Joyce nor Wilde would have been surprised.


The university's graduation doesn't officially occur until this weekend, but final grades are posted, so I think I can post without caution:


Some of the seniors (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and lit scholars writers all) at the annual Bowling challenge (fiction won, creative nonfiction finished second, and I bowled with poetry this year). Congratulations to all the graduating senior major and minors, and to the other undergraduate students finishing up this week that I taught (including those in the Conceptual Art/Writing class--you were great!), advised or worked with over the last few years!

Congratulations also to one of my graduate fiction thesis advisees, Roya Khatiblou, whose magnificent manuscript received a 2009-10 Distinguished Thesis Award! It was exciting to work with Roya, and with the other graduating fiction students I advised this year, whom I'd also taught in the past, Jennifer Companik and Wendy Schoua Musto.

Lastly, to all the students in the novella class (The Theory and Practice of Fiction, Winter-Spring), congratulations on finishing your novellas! It was a huge, speeded up, often stressful undertaking, and you accomplished in 4 1/2 months what it takes many writers a year or more do but you've all completed your little books, and deserve praise for having done so!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Poem-Report: Rethinking Poetics @ Columbia

I thus voke thy aid
to my adventurous song,
what are "poetics," what
is poetry? Is it
"segmentivity" or "the news
that stays news," is it central
to the nervous system
of poetics?  Between
Columbia and Penn
a poetics conference, con-
versations begun
by Golston and Perelman,
(and Bernstein, behind them,
in minds, so many here,
and elsewhere, inspirited
with memories and ideas
of Leslie Scalapino, Cage,
Wittgenstein, Emerson,
Dickinson, et. al.),
three days, in Philosophy
ten panels, many panelists:
scholars, critics, poets; 41,
none Asian-Americans
if you're counting. Who counts
haunted the proceedings.
Who counts, in or outside
the proceedings, in or out-
side academe, institutions,, outside or in Silli-
man's or the Poetry Foundation's
blogs, the journals, net-
works and coteries,
the batteries of chapbooks
and books the oral and dissertation
writers and committees
might be reading, thinking
about and rethinking,
this rethinking and defining, amidst a ghost
horizon of privilege and invisibilities
framing the conversations'
often radiant, expanded fields.
What counts, as poetry, in
poetry, as poetics: relating to the art
of poetry, of making (poetiké, fr.
Gk. poiein) objects,
cf. Aristotle. Accountings:
poetic composition, tools
and materials, history
(but not materialist history per se),
tradition, relation (mostly tradition
of the European kind),
globalism and hybridity (mostly US,
i.e. "us" (we? who are ____), mostly
form), social location and ethics
(grazie Rachel Blau DuPlessis
and Joan Retallack especially),
poetics and the Academy
(which counts most, perhaps,
among most of the attendees), ecologies
of poetry, poetics as a category,
affective economies and prosodies
(but mostly affect as a concept,
so powerful, contemporary),
the end of authentic time and
reading radicalism came after
my attendance ended, on Sunday,
though PennSound was listening
continuously, so the presentations,
challenges, arguments, vocal antagonisms
and their responses--"fuckface"--will be--
to the world. So what is or are poetics,
our poetics, and does poetry matter, do poetries
other than the Euro-American
matter, other Others' poetries
matter, and are there poets
not in academe, not critic-theorists,
not doctoral students or soon to be doctoral
students dissertating, who do? They do. Where
were the writers and students
from the School of the Arts
creative writing department but
three blocks north, Perloff asked,
and is creative writing--poetry--
valid, relevant, connected directly
to this thinking, rethinking
an entity (a system
of institutions, a discourse,
a field, expanded),
this poetry that still holds
considerable capital
(Bourdieu), a high place
in the social (if not economic)
imaginary and hierarchy
(publishing, Epstein, Schiffrin, unmentioned),
that some might be seeking then
by rethinking to destroy?
Is it true that most people hate
poetry? Is it true that most
find it difficult, even beyond
the neoliberal prisonhouse
of university classrooms?
Do most people really think of it
when they think of it at all
in relation only to greeting cards
or else inaugural poets
and poems, like some serious
and bitter medicine lacking even
that sickly-sweet cherry flavoring
that starts to taste good when you're
really sick rather than listening to it
daily in songs, hiphop, rock, pop (so far
as I can recall, never uttered, not once,
not even the touchstone Gods
Dylan-Elvis-Leonard Cohen),
in speech, in backs-and-forths,
writing it in journals, on blogs, to loved
ones, reciting it to impress or beguile
or as acts of resistance, eagerly
returning to poets dead and living
who were not mentioned and wouldn't be
mentioned within a mile
of these sometimes exceptional panels?
Whither music, dance, and related
arts? Must poetry be lineated
as this pseudo-poem report is,
rhythmic, prosodic, metrical (not
that word!), use repetitions at all?
(Oh conceptual poetry, writing,
horribile dictu, you and Flarf
burbling up through the drains
of contemporary writing
and causing great anxiety,
delight, joy, annoyance, fright,
confusion, dismissal, because of your refusal
to fit within unstable confines.)
Brent Edwards spoke of Hemphill
(Julius), Tonya Foster of Sarah Vaughan
(and scat and the scatalogical), but
music was only an echo, a trace
amidst the talking (no singing, scatting),
a solo in this hive of dreaming out loud
and hard, hard thinking into being
(the archive of) an archive.

Oh, there is a blessing in this drizzly breeze
that carries the questions, What counts, who counts
what is poetry, what poetics might be
in an age of ever-developing technologies,
what of books too in this digital
age, our dematerialized present, virtual presences,
the vast and powerful neoliberal "software"
we're all running on, whose air we breathe in
every hour of every day? What of books
and what of collaborations, poetics whose ecologies
encompass other disciplines, landfills, oil spills,
wars metaphorical and literal, embodied as dancers,
publics imagined or not yet imagined,
politics imagined or not yet imagined,
archives imagined or not yet imagined,
poetries becoming "something else," counter-
speculation, material disintegration, waste (shit
and its residues), news, new or old, the impure
products of America (Williams another angel
omnipresent, edifying), all gathered together,
breaking apart (fragments, ruins, the specter
of Modernism and post-modernisms), the oral
and the written, discursivities, "choral."
Can poetry look outside itself?
Can we look outside ourselves, collectively?
Can we look outside the neoliberal, collectively?
Can we look outside the human, collectively?
Can we look outside the windows of the packed room,
past the panes to the concrete, the park and its steep
drop down Morningside Heights to the 116th Street
pavements I crossed to enter on Saturday?
Are we looking outside the comfort-
able confines of the pack,
the alphas and betas setting the pace,
do we see the other faces, the others' faces,
the other poet faces, other poetics facing these,
as we (who?) peer closely at and rethink
our (whose?) own? Who owns these poetics,
these poetries? Who remains invisible
and illegible even after the curtain parts?
Can these poetries and poetics be musical in the absence
of music or discussion of music, can they be or
become ontologically plural and is it ethical if there's not even
an active peeking and looking beyond those panes,
is that poethical if there's peaking beyond and none
here see it or hear it? Brent spoke of Ellington,
parallels, proliferations, concretions, can you hear
it, them? Do you listen? Aware, but you care?
"Everything we see could also be otherwise" (Wittgenstein),
other whys (Baraka): Bernstein's pataqueeranormal, -normative,
his "swerve" and "adversive" ("mental fright"),
his "derangement of the senses" (Rimbaud), his "strange,"
his "swish," and "sissy," but to a swish, a sissy, a queer,
this one here who asks with "sincerity" (Reznikoff, via Zukofsky),
is he really listening, aware yes, sure, sitting there, swerving
there, but what are the manifestations of that care? Show me.
Scalapino: "The human is crisis." (Ghost traces.)
In here poetry is in crisis, poetics are in crisis; out there?
Out there poetries are in crisis, poetics are
and....we are for ontological pluralisms (Erica Hunt), we are.
"One world, many minds" (Hunt) Many minds,
so much cleverness, so little time (Clever Clover
and the landmine of the mouth). Is poetics
a limiting frame? Is poetics in friction
with innovation, does it do the not-Princeton rub
with experimentation? Thinking past the limits
(historical and empirical with figural-Edwards), over there
is where the parallels lie.

Ambitious unknowns, collectively sigh
no more sadly. That is where the lie
parallels the--no Plato, long since buried,
under the unspoken green Greek swards
with Socrates or in some other archive.
Collectivity: what is poetry, we ask you?
Collectivity: poetics? Collect-
ivity: how many times can and must we seek
of an archive? Can and must we not speak of the archives?
Whose? Collectivity: can you answer me
without recourse only to the great master
minds and archives of Europe? One world,
so many minds but all from one historicultural mental massing.
Collectivity: are there verbs to express this kind of thinking?
Don't noun, verb. Don't image, think. Don't look, write.
Don't don't, act. Collectivity: what and where are the answers?
Collectivity: are we not always speaking of the body, of bodies,
ours and others? Collectivity--poetry: image: action:
(Laocoön, with Lessing unmentioned as well).
Collectivity: are aesthetics a superseded category, too
limiting to the field of poetics, its possibilities?
Dead as deconstruction, psychoanalytic theories, post-
colonialities, the new historicisms, the new new post-new?
Collectivity: to get beyond the boundaries set by neoliberalism
and its traps, to puncture the market master magus,
the page, or stage, or dais, to enter the frays
of the digital--this is ethical, we are together in this,
at least some of us, in here, whether we see us
or not, we see US or not, a "we" (or not).
Is there a spark, collectivity, and what is its verb?
What lights, illuminations, fires--what's motive?
Choral crowds, genres for action, verbing and swerving
into the now thing, the now-thinking, thinking now
as it enters and blossoms into something, landscape, harbor,
haven, abatgis, slip, hammock, arbor, slope,
sleep, hammer, keyboard, labor, affect, archive,
hope or some other abstraction, the we
in here, inhering, the we of poetry, poetics,
the whee, way, wee pluralizing, waxing
poetic is a form of knowledge-making,
making and taking back the forms
of knowledge, the possibilities,
rhapsodizing, of pleasure, poetics' and others,
that we're phreaking as we're seeing
and speaking thinking, and wreaking
writing: one world, many
minds (Hunt): many worlds,
many mimes: any worlds,
many memes, reres publicae: poetry.

Whose making all that racket
in the archive? Poetics.
Who's making all that racket
in the traditions? Poetics.
In the archives, poetries
or the traditions of poetics,
traditions temporationally, not spatially,
alternatives, to join, though who's
this we making all this racket
and not even leaving
testimony to the eyelands
beginning to appear,
and are we--we?--spatially
in there? Debriscapes, extrascapes,
countertraditions, are they ours
and are we in there? Are you? Nudge,
engage, be against, to be again, to gain
access to, think through.  Ante, up, anti.
Anti-interpretive, an "erotics" of...stop/ /bogging,
start telling the joke without its form, scatting
performative rather than definitive spaces.
Scattering, reconfiguring, transfiguring,
in the silences
                       within silences.
A baratadeeboppaluquivadoop: phatic.
A da daadaaa deeet deeetdeet
dum diddlysquatalicious--phatic.
Get phat, got that? Trawl Jakobson, Abrams.
Shudder, utter, stagger, stutter, still. Troll
the airwaves, fill them. Flarf dem
um, uh, duh, da, doobie, okey dokey, fort-da, say what?
Phatic, haptic, knowwhatimsaying yo?
Get back, for real, fo sho, daswassup, say what, Son?
You alright, stay around, almost mellow, One...Say,
our "boats are open." (Glissant) Say, the multiple
consciousness (nope, no dope DuBois). Say Césaire
and Baudelaire, "more at stake than aesthetics,"
the beautiful, the true, the sublime, disinterested, purposive,
Aufhebung, the autonomous, the aestheticist,
the historicist, the Dionysian and Appollonian, the high
and low and mid-brow, the is it art or is it not or it is
what I say it is, the public coefficient, the aleatory, the Ou-
LiPolean, the formal or formalist, the depersonalized,
the post-aestheticized, the desiring machined, the it-is-there,
the all of that glowering history, his-story.
This is a confab about poetics (and poetry).
Say dehistoricize and rehistoricize (Willis), push poetry up
against those other works, get it popping, into all that biz it's walking into, talking its way into, stammering and shimmying its way to, this important political labor that people are doing and all of sudden it's become this other thing, a political creature with some power in its having no public power at all, so how do you talk about it, yes you, the poet or critic or poet-critic or academic or whatever you fashion yourself as, coming back to this idea and your archive-praxis, knowing that "all you can do is suddenly listen?" (Cage). Poetry, are we into it? Is it into us? Do we mind it, truly, really? Is it not the basis, or one, for memory, no matter what psychologies and biologies may tell us? So I'm sitting at this seminar at the university, this is a month or so back, and we get into this back-and-forth about some theoretical issue, and my colleague, a poet, fiction writer, essayist, translator, scholar, all these things in the same body, tries to bring the discussion back to the language itself, the language of the poems, and I say, it can be both+and, which is at times a problematic formulation, but this came up again at this conversation, in a conversation, around oppositionality, because there's inclusivity as well, "discursive inclusivity," though the language of the poem, our languages and how we use them, shouldn't be forgotten. Are we in them, poetries, poetics?  Once upon a time a great deal of poetry was published for children and adults read it, adults memorized it, my grandparents did, my parents did, there were all these collective forms and forums, form as a collectivity, hymns, worksongs, music (popular), how did we forget all this? Say, how is it we don't look outside the window most of the time, poetries, poetics?

And this is very sooth that I tell you...radical particularities...the SF language school of the...1970s...not everybody was Kung-Fu fighting...some were talking and writing at the Grand Piano...some (the dazzling Mónica de la Torre) were talking of some talking and writing in the 1920s in São Paulo, Paulicéia Desvairada!...some were talking and writing about those Andrades, Miss São Paulo and the other one, not related...some were talking and writing about the Brazilian manifesto (Modernism--open to the world) and the Cannibal manifesto (closing up shop, a self-devouring)...some were talking about Haroldo de Campos and concrete poetry, how exportable it is, the image prevailing over the text (think Smart vs. Campion)...eye over ear...some were talking and writing about how "the longing for modernity led the poets to abstract the location of the future" (so beautiful, a truly poetic thought)...some were talking (and citing Roberto Schwartz) about how de Campos by 1963 had gone onto another project, the Galáxios, known in Brazil and Latin America but not on English tongues...some were talking suddenly in Spanish about the neobarroco and la poesía conceptual y pues porque no dejó de hablar en español many people perhaps didn't understand...and some were asking questions like, what might poetry for export be?...and what might the goal of extending a poetics to include globalisms?...and are you a filterer, relater, or rehearser, poetries and poetics...and it was good to hear about poetries and poetics outside of the Euro-American matrix...because those other poetries exist, those poetics exist...not cut off from the EA matrix but also not totally dependent upon them...they exist, we exist...and them someone was talking about antagonisms and "American hybridity" meaning formal hybridities of a very specific kind and that led to a blowup during the Q&A...that antagonism and blow were wake-up calls...there was the poetry of the expanded field...the charts that lured my eyes like sirens...Smithson, the jetty, the not-sculpture, not-language, the Klein square (not bottle), poetics, the not-poetry...making me think as I type this, am I still writing a poem? there segmentivity and rhythm would I describe the poetics of this elliptical passage...ellipsis being a technique and rhetorical figure...and Butler having returned us in the 1990s to the importance of the rhetorical, the gestural, as against the structural, the linguistic (Nealon) would and could you speak of the poetics...the and now...

Of hermit saints, these words addressed,
much more they said, so many pages I filled,
cursive upon cursive, line by line,
about genre (social) and form (individual),
about Derrida, the negative, social
and ethical locations, about absences
that Blau DuPlessis elegantly touched upon,
ethnicity (RACE?), class, gender (SEXUALITIES?),
disabilities, economics, social positions,
sediments and sedimentation,
memories' traces in the identifications
we daily live and perform,
the scripts and texts we carry
around inside us, imagi-nations,
Toscano's "material
translocative carnicities,"
evidence of things not seen
but discussed, reviewed,
on location, in location,
ego and echo (-location),
Lo: Poetry, said Joan
Retallack, "is a form
of courage," the microclimates
of our poetries affecting
and effecting the larger climates
of our world (Cage),
this necessity, always,
for reciprocal alterity,
alterities this courage,
created by poetry,
this ethical necessity
of relationality,
in Chang (videoing Hughes)
and Tolson, this need
of and for "soul," the word
SOUL, thinking about
the between,
a "textual structure
of feeling," older forms,
rhyme, rhythms
going back
to that black place
--poetries, poetics,
do you hear me,
do you read me,
over and out?

I missed it--Delays!--Escarpments!--
Those light-rail tracks and subways
of dishonor!
The panelists' disquisitions
on poetics and the academy,
there is no terminal on the molehill
of ambitions...the most important panel
of the morn....Spahr, Novak, Giscombe,
Evans, lunch D spelled me....
you start out as a peon and maybe be-
come a classroom star...
Oh, how to think beyond the architecture
of the private or semi-public institution...
Spahr: how to (re)create the kinds
of associations and organizations that existed
not so long ago, the disappearing independents,
journals, zines, collectives (cf. the Dark Room)
that arose outside and beyond
the universities' doors?
Is that outside out there any more? (Yes.)
Is the only desire now to gain entry? (No.)
--Creating those open spaces that defy
the boundaries, the rules, the private, and capital.
That resist the overwhelming neoliberal vacuum.
You began a schoolgirl and now wield your PhD.
You are armed with knowledge but you are not free.
Giscombe avowed teaching writing, creative
writing, taking field trips, leaving to see,
to learn, to come to know in the out-there, the otherwheres.
But what about hierarchies, prestige, the a priori
power of certain names and the potencies they claim,
these institutions and their social capital, their demesnes?
What about the wolfish logic (the genius
of capitalism--Paul O'Neill) that devours us,
poetry too, that makes a college ed and gig necessities
for so many?--Not all are rich, not all entitled,
so few can say I want to write all day or even part of each day
and someone will pay my rent, utilities, clothe me, feed me.
--Even the idea of the open university is a threat here.
--Even the idea of the non-academic is a threat here.
Does this stifle poetry, suffocate it? What would a poetics
of the socially, economically and politically open
sound like, look like, feel like, taste like?
What would a poetics of freedom, a free poetics look like?
We would know it when we were in it, wore it,
wrote into it, would we want it?
BD spoke of cross-university
partnerships, outside registrars,
she and Perelman Penn and Temple,
what the students gained in access,
but what about those not in their classes?
Is there a public forum by which these ideas
can circulate, the poems can circulate, the poets
connect? Is there a public poetic sphere,
not about power and privilege,
reputation making and breaking, the great
men and women, lettering and rubberstamping,
where poets and poetics can
even uneasily set camp?
Write the secret sign, and make it available...
write the open sign, and free it: poetry.)

And went down and rode in a hole
in the ground. To Jersey. And then went up
and climbed a mountain in Harlem.
Saw Schurz, back to the living city,
bronze profile helming the promontory.
Families moving about as embodied poetry.
Asphalted history snaking beneath me.
Three streets, two hills, back in Philosophy.
So different from the spaces Bitsui comes from.
The places a few of my ancestors knew.
Where words still bore their sacred force.
Where capitalism had not yet snowed
over the hard terrain. Where hot rain fell
into the estuaries as they sailed them,
worked them, their own or some others'
dying fields, the blue/black ceilings or skies
repeatedly raised by their plaintive blues: poetry.
What is the message within the message?
What is the message beyond itself?
Occasionally, like yesterday or today
I am permitted to enter, at a premium, a message
like a meadow that doesn't feel mine,
mean or indifferent, at least, where I stumble
and sputter and listen and linger,
where longing pervades me and I spend a long time.
What is the message of the message?
What passes through the meadows
that are not truly ours? Poetry.
Watten: nature's importance "as a site of the not-me."
What do you mean when you tell me
of ecology and poetry?
What is poetic ecology, or an ecology
of poetry? What is an ecological poetics
or ecopoethics, and where does it take us?
Bitsui: these lands, my people's,
are now turning to dust.
Ecologies require multiple
ways and acts of seeing.
Ecopoethics require human trust
in the nonhuman.
Not reducible to a single form.
Sometimes silence is better than doing harm.
Sometimes silence is the way to go.
Sometimes silence carries the power of a charm.
Sometimes in that silence you come to know.

Voyage through death
to life upon these poetic shores,
but does this even address
unending questions of categories?
Why, Dworkin queries,
the category of "poetry" at all?
Why are the other categories
so given to parsimony?
Why pitch your freaky tent
in front of this particular stall?
Why's poetry always stirring
up so much damned trouble?
In the center of the ring,
fists raised, ready to rumble?
Denken ist dichten, or should be
a form of therapy--but not poetry!
Golding: "the production
of poetry and its consumption."
Don't all roads return us
ultimately to this issue
of commodification?
No no no no no no no!
Future anteriors, becoming
the person one is,
the "authentic poetic project,"
pace Dorothea Lasky (where was she?).
Hofer resurrected Aram Saroyan.
Thank you. Voyage through death
to life, or "lighght," as AS
had it, Duncan chose it.
"Minima," "spareness,"
and as Emerson proposes it,
"every word was once a poem,
every word is a new relation."
Pound: "Rhythm is a form cut into time."
Saroyan: "Consonants govern pacing."
Pound: the poem debunks
"by lucidity." LIGHGHT.
Has one come on? Many?
Because we are back to forms
cut into time, to poetry. Perloff:
the public, what's a poem,
Maya Angelou at the podium,
riffing for Clinton (which became
a House song I heard and danced
to--"a Rock, a River, a Tree"--at the Delta Elite,
--"you, Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation"--but I doubt Perloff,
who knows so very much has ever heard that),
poetry, etc.  But really it's all
about poetry. The poem. Place,
Vanessa, Statement of Fact,
sexual crimes, etc. But really it's all about
poetry. More Vanessa Place, career,
fiction, one subgroup but the wrong
one, blurb, what do we call it,
sexually contentious, etc. Poetry.
Goldsmith's (not present)
Traffic "is poetry." Fitterman
UbuWeb Dworkin and Goldsmith's
anthology from Northwestern,
A fuzziness today, but...
Clover: prestige, kids know it
it when they spot someone with flow
in basketball, on TV, in movies--
poetic vs. prosaic, no body
wants to be a vast flat lot or lumpy plot
of words and text and movement,
but wants that lyric swagger: poetry.
"Is there a desire to undermine
or destabilize this?"
Perloff: "That which is written
in the language of information
but not in the language game
of giving information,"
i.e., Wittgenstein. Word.
Jakobson said: "poeticity"; Blau DuPlessis:
"chosen segmentivity," "rhythmic
segmentivity," that's poetry.
But really it's all about the poetry,
or should be, according to Marjorie,
lose not sight of that,
as pretty and shiny and exciting
as theory and criticism
and cultural studies and psych
and anthro and socio
and performo and bio and neuro
all are ("hairy star turning
under water"--BD). Po-e-try.

Some hour, in the emergence from this fierce insight,
let me sing--because that was once the source of this gift--
jubilation and praise to the assenting or dissenting angels.
Not real or better angels but people who think deeply,
seriously about affective economies. They may or may not
be poets. They mostly have academic jobs and are very smart.
They know their Derrida like seminarians know the Bible.
And Foucault because he's still important, and Benjamin,
and Deleuze and Guattari, and Butler, and Sedgwick,
and Leo Bersani, with panache and despite the difficulty.
(Once I spent a week trying to figure out
the argument in Bersani's "Is the Rectum a Grave?"
which I pursued because the title intrigued me so.
But that's neither here nor there and I finally untangled
Bersani's argument, or at least convinced myself I did.
It took me longer to grasp Lacan's "Kant with Sade,"
but there's revelation in persistence. Most
of the time, IMHO.) Thence: affect queer theory
before queer theory 1990s affect Butler Bersani
plus a short graphic sexual passage, involving
male-male sex, penis and ass--Nealon. Brilliant.
Williams (Raymond), Structures of Feeling,
affect, neoliberalism, Zukofsky on Reznikoff's
"sincerity,"Peck and Tickle, neoliberalism
as a "software," Harvey, Lefebvre, Ahmed,
neoliberalism, market/structure of capitalism,
sincerity, "of word to thing," to the social,
"sincerity is a software that would allow other forms
of sociability into the poem," still thinking about
what that would look like (the poetry)--Derksen.
Brilliant. "There is a third path and that
is the one we're going to take."
(Shklovsky) and much about
the problems of witnessing
in an encantatory performance.
--Zolf. As always (cf. Adfempo),
super brilliant. Then the much-heralded
Lisa Robertson, who spoke
on M. Henri Meschonnic,
a figure needing to be
translated, prodigious,
who passed last year,
his poetry and theories
and terms so vital,
but also running counter
to the terms so widespread
in the contemporary
American experimental
poetic communities;
pour M. Meschonnic
le truc c'est rhythm
"as a social force
via prosody"--so
many good quotes,
including "the active ethic
of this listening
for which a politics
comes" and "motility,"
and "the poem is
the critique
of the sign,"
his critique
of l'écriture et
les pages blanc
and il y avait tant plus...
until in the Q&A
Golston notes
that he wrote about Meschonnic
in his first book, pointing
to the French figure's
intellectual genealogy
that includes Klages
(a raging anti-Semite)
and Jacques-Dalcroze
(Mr. Eurythmics,
who also believed
rhythm could be a "moral
hygiene" and the basis
for a "new society)," etc.
Questions ensued
and not a lot of answers
and we, who think
of ascending joy,
would feel the emotion,
yet that's not what
all this work on affect
is really about,
that almost dismays
as much as our anxieties
about poetry and activism,
or rather poetics
and activism, though
for some poets
and activists, like those
at Split This Rock,
who were nowhere near
this event, this tension
unfolds as central
to their praxis,
if I'm using the terms
of art correctly,
but nevertheless
these are very smart
people who are training
others through their gifts,
and writing about writing,
and writing, and perhaps
not feeling dismay
or the stultifying angels
of tradition or neoliberalism
or of poetry itself,
when it, a joyful thing
at times, at others
utterly terrifying, into
their laps or laptops
or books or minds
or mine or anyone's,
like this longish
report--I thus invoke
your aid itself
a kind of poetics--
slowly and
inexorably falls.

Copyright © John Keene, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FIFA 2010 World Cup Underway

Amid my reading of the final versions of the novellas, and the conceptual art projects, I've taken some time to catch some of the FIFA 2010 World Cup games, which began yesterday with host country South Africa's match against Mexico. To the relief of the South Africans, and perhaps the Mexican fans, the match resulted in a 1-1 tie. Draws in fact have dominated the tournament's first day; in the other opening day match, France and Uruguay finished 0-0. On Day 2, today, South Korea trounced Greece 2-0, while Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0, and nearly scored several more.
The match to catch (and I missed it because I've been at a poetics conference), however, was England vs. the USA. Despite having a team packed with Premier League stars, England could only manage a 1-1 tie, which counts almost as a win for the Americans.  The game started in heart-dropping fashion for the US when English midfield Stephen Gerrard scored only 4 minutes into the contest, based on a defensive lapse, the sort of harbinger of a US debacle to come. Yet the Americans were able to hang on from that point onwards, even surviving a potential injury to their star goalie, Tim Howard, when England forward Emile Heskey slid cleet-first into the Howard's chest, and, in one of the most remarked moments of the tournament thus far, tied things when Clint Dempsey kicked a squibbler towards the English net and goalkeeper Robert Green couldn't hold onto it before it crossed the goal-line. From that point onwards the US team made no significant mistakes, despite being outshot 10-4 and corner-kicked 8-4. A great deal of credit goes to Howard for unflappable play, and to Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, who nearly got another US goal, for penetrating the English defense.

Tomorrow's games should provide some excitement, though I forsee Germany tromping over Australia, and Ghana v. Serbia ending a tie while I predict Slovenia will defeat the unheralded Algerians. The game I'm waiting for is Brazil's opening match, on Tuesday, against North Korea. In tribute to the match, I even wore my Brazil socks yesterday.  Below are a few of the photos from the games that I was able to cull thus far.

South Africa's goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune (R) and defender Aaron Mokoena (C) try to stop Mexico's striker Giovani dos Santos (L) from scoring during their 2010 World Cup group A first round football match on June 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
South Africa's midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi vies with Mexico's striker Giovani dos Santos during their Group A first round 2010 World Cup football match on June 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg. South Africa and Mexico play in the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, June 04, 2010 Is Dead, Long Live Capital(isms) + Danto Responds to Queries on Art + NY Times on Black Straight Women's Marriage Prospects + 77 Banks Gone Under: Did You Know That?

For five years or so, an unheralded P2P site featuring a massive intellectual trove existed, mostly under the radar, and now it's dead. was an open-source, virtual library, one of the few places online where you could find a vast array of intellectual material usually on lockdown by publishers, private institutions, anyone. (It was linked to The Public School, a truly public, free-form, anti-institutional collective, initiated by the Telic Arts Exchange in Los Angeles in 2008, that has created and offered classes, at low cost, on a variety of utterly relevant topics, by anyone, in LA and 6 other cities (Helsinki, Brussels, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Juan). The Public School is still alive.)

Organized by participants and loosely overseen by Sean Dockery, aaarg's archive included work by almost every major theorist past and present and many not so well known, and "courses" or lists (think "Posthumanism," "Queer Technologies," "Bodies and Time," etc., ), also self-organized, which people could study to learn about...well, a great number of things in the realm of the humanities and social sciences. It did encounter legal threats, from Verso, OMA Rem Koolhaas, Columbia University Press, and Macmillan, the most recent press to issue it a cease-and-desist letter, tellingly enough, not long after Macmillan had worked out a deal with Apple for the iPad. Originally it communicated via email, but that shifted to a Twitter feed that went kaput as of May 27, 2010.

My own experience with Aaarg was limited, but I do want to note one remarkable thing that happened as a result of the site: for several years now, I've been trying to reach the Italian conceptual artist Cesare Pietroiusti. I first came across his work, particular Non-functional Thoughts, while surfing through MIT's news feeds. (I'm known to do such things.) He had been a guest there back in 2004, I believe. I found the gallery that had originally published Pietroiusti's work, and contacted them, but had no luck whatsoever getting ahold of the book. So I posted on Aaarg to see if anyone knew how to acquire the book or reach Pietroiusti, because it wasn't in any library I had access to, it wasn't available on Amazon or any other online book-seller, and I didn't know anyone who could lend me a copy. Lo and behold, after posting this request several times, a certain someone replied that he would try to upload the book, but never did. And this someone wrote me some months later and said that not only would I be able to find Non-functional Thoughts online (cf. above), but that if I sent my address, I would receive more Pietroiusti materials--because it was Pietroiusti himself! I loved this; he not only did send me his work (several books, including 100 things that certainly are not art; a CD), but also two original conceptual pieces, one of which I gave out, via raffle, to my students on the last day of classes! The work requires that if you're its owner, you must give it to whoever requests it, so whom better to have it than my student artists? Perhaps this might have happened via email or this blog or Facebook or some other means, but I appreciated how things unfolded via and as a result of this peer-to-peer site.

What I keep thinking about is the how the desire for proprietary control, control in the form of copyight, of intellectual property, that these publishers are demonstrating, which I grasp rests on a particular economic viewpoint that in part does benefit the authors of some of these works, contrasts not only with the work of The Public School and similar networks, but also with the push for free access to intellectual material and capital--classes, syllabi and so forth--by a number of very wealthy and powerful private universities, including two of the leading ones in the world, the aforementioned MIT* and Stanford. As anyone who has access to iTunes knows, for example, both of these schools, which cost about $50,000 to attend as undergraduates nowadays, make a wide array of their material free (you must, however, sign up for Apple), and MIT in particular has pushed for open-sourcing its syllabi for some time. (Other institutions also make their course materials, classes, and so forth available, but nowhere to the extent of MIT and Stanford). I think that making this material available is an excellent idea, but I also realize that the economics of it, the questions of property rights (especially in this country), control and access, are fraught. While being able to watch online classes on computer science, or chemistry, or the philosophy of mind, or sexuality, gender and performance in the contemporary global context, benefits potentially millions of people who will never be able to attend Stanford, and benefits Stanford too, what about the students who are paying a premium to attend (though they do get a substantially value-added experience, including direct access to the professor, the possibility of collaborative work and face-to-face conversations with each other, classroom time, access to world-class facilities, etc.), what about the contracting nature of humanities and social sciences academe, its march towards commercialism, and the prospects for those scholars who would benefit greatly from being able to teach, with pay, these courses elsewhere? Also, I think about the complex issues of intellectual work, its status as labor and property, and its control and dissemination: who ultimately has the say on what happens to it?

Nevertheless, I mourn the (temporary?) disappearance of Aaarg, and look forward to its (phantasmal) return--in some other guise.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Printers' Ball Project + Escritorio Publico + Gulf Tragedy Video + Apatowed Out

Last night I dropped by Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts to participate in a project organized in part by Fred Sasaki, of the Poetry Foundation, pairing writers and print artists from the Printers Guild.  In combo, we'll be creating original pieces that will be displayed in an art book during the 6th Annual Ball, which takes place on July 30.  I've never attended, but I'm excited to have something included in the event. We were asked to bring an object which the printers would select to select us; I bought a baked good, a cookie (in the shape of a star). Food and a metaphor all at once. We were also suggested to bring a previously unpublished poem, something perhaps old but serviceable, so I brought a poem I've never published, but have tinkered with for years, "Serenade," finally getting it close to right, I believe, last December where I read it in English and, in translated Italian, at the poetry festival. It's a simple enough idea: each stanza of quatrains represents a season, represented by the naming of a month, seasonal tropes or metaphors, and an appropriate image; and it's a love poem and a serenade, so the words "I love you" repeat in each one. I used to worry that it was a bit sentimental, but as I get older I care less, I think (and reading up a bit on sentimentalism has also shifted my position a little). My Italian hosts got immediately that it was a "New York" poem--I have written poems or stories set in every place I've lived, save Charlottesville (none is forthcoming, and perhaps never will be)--which I hadn't really focused on, so it may be a bit jarring in a Chicago setting, but Big Shoulders, with its skyscrapers and business bustle and cosmopolitan diversity and slumlords and corrupt pols and rivers and sea-like lake and all can hang, so it should fly. I had my camera at the ready, so here're a few shots, one featuring two particularly great poets:

At the Center for Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College
The printers' selection of our unique "objects" which led to their selection of us
Ed Roberson and Mayakovsky
Ed Roberson and Vladimir Mayakovsky
Ed and Fred Sasaki
Ed and Fred Sasaki
Poets and print artists
More poets and printers (poet Lisa Janssen is in the purple dress)


This sunny but cool afternoon I dropped by the first part of poet and translator Jen Hofer's "Escritório Público: public letter writing," at the 6-corner intersection near Chicago's Blue Line Damen Station. There she was, folding table bearing a typewriter before her, composing off the top general letters ($2), love letters ($3), and illicit love letters ($5), in English or Spanish, based on the participant's wishes and directions. She even offered a choice of colored papers and stamps, and provided a standard-size envelope. I sat, chose blue, and went with a combo of the first and second, recounting the events of the day and C's role in them, so the letter was to him. It was fun, Jen's skillful renderings really turned my thoughts into something poetic, and as we sat there, she typing and I watching, we drew a lot of attention, including some eager young people who filled the chair as soon as I got up. All the while, the temperature steadily dropped and music blared from restaurant speakers above us, and the El trains rumbled in the near distance. As for the contents of my letter, only a certain few people will see them!

Jen Hofer typing
Jen Hofer, composing away
Participating in Part 1 of Jen Hofer's Escritorio Público performance piece
The letter writer and yours truly
Wicker Park passersby
Wicker Park Passersby
> > >
The rest of this program continues on Saturday evening, with more participatory events to come. The info:

Red Rover Series
{readings that play with reading}

Experiment #37:
Public Words - Letters & Interviews

David Emanuel
Jen Hofer
Anne Elizabeth Moore

7-9pm at Outer Space Studio
1474 N. Milwaukee Ave, 3rd floor
suggested donation $4

David Emanuel asks participants to assemble and write letters onto the pages of their own handbound chapbooks or zines. Materials will be supplied.

Anne Elizabeth Moore invites Chicagoans down to do a short interview about their city, lives, and what they think about the world. Know someone with a great Chicago story? Bring them or prepare to tell yours!

Last (Really) Day of Classes + BP's Gulf Cataclysm + Griffey Jr. Retires + RIPs + UN: Eat Less Meat

Today, finally, was my last day of classes! It's hard to believe that my quarter is nearly over, but it is. We discussed the final two novellas, all of which will be due, in their revised forms, next week. All of my former fiction students know how enjoyable and difficult--grueling, at times--a process this is, but I must say that even with prior experience and deep enthusiasm, nothing quite prepares you for closely reading, marking up and writing a critical letter (of at least 1-page length) for over 1,590 (or 15students x (2+2+2+5+10+20+20+45 pages each)) pages of fiction* in about 14 weeks. (Just for comparison, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volkonsky's 2007 translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, sitting beside me on my desk here in Chicago, is a slender 1264 pages.) And I'll still need to read the final versions of all 15 novellas, some of which are approaching 60-80 pages. It nevertheless was an exciting experience, and I can say now that as with my other writing classes, I witnessed ostensible progress and improvement, transformation even, not just aesthetically and technically, but personally, among many of the students. This is one of the things that as a teacher you hope for. Then too there's the reality of their having a portfolio of work they can call their own. By this time two weeks from now, they will have written as much as some writers accomplish in several years: 3-4 complete short stories (during the first half of the sequence), and a novella. Congratulations to all of them!


I've been wanting to write about the horrific catastrophe BP, Transocean and Halliburton (of course their fingerprints all over this) have created in the Gulf of Mexico, but everytime I think about this cataclysm I start to feel such rage, at these environmental terrorists and criminals, who apparently and knowingly flouted all sorts of regulations to cut a few million dollars off their costs, with this inestimable disaster as the result, and such powerlessness at our impotent federal and state governments, who appear to be doing everything they can to coddle BP, to let them control the non-clean-up, set the agenda, and protect their multibillion-dollar Chernobylesque investment, which continues to spew massive quantities of oil and natural gas into the Gulf.

If we had anything but corporate lackeys running the country, we'd have seen BP's domestic operations nationalized, top scientists and engineers brought in immediately to neutralize the leak, and a strict clampdown on any current and future offshore drilling. Instead, we get a president talking out of both sides of his mouth, federal agencies operating like Keystone Cops to the benefit of the oil industry, and corporate liars, led by the Rowan Atkinsonian Tony Hawyward, so dense and incompetent that they actually believe anyone except the fools in the mainstream media Congress and their own lobbyists are gulled anything they're saying. It was clear when BP talked about putting that giant steel condom atop this gusher that they were on a steady track record of FAIL, and it's been nothing but that since. They are determined not to do anything that would radically block up that gusher, no matter how much damage it's causing, no matter how much dead flora, sea life, careers in the Gulf Region, other countries affected, it engenders. According to the administration, we're supposed to just sit by till August, September, who knows, while BP bumbles forward and drills relief wells (or someone does), whining and dissembling, and finagling Congress into limiting its liabilities.

Really it's as simple as this: US (BP) to Gulf Coast: Drop dead!


Ken Griffey Jr., 40, one of the best baseball players of his generation, has announced his retirement after 22 seasons. Never carrying the taint of roids, playing full out year after year, even starring alongside his father for a short time, this former Rookie of the Year was one of the on-field leaders during the 1990s. Though he had many amazing years, especially during his initial 10-year stint in Seattle, perhaps the two most remarkable came in 1997, when he hit .304 with 56 home runs, 147 runs batted in, 125 runs scored, a .646 slugging percentage, a 1.028 OPS, and 393 total bases. He won the League MVP, and Seattle finished first in the AL West, though it lost to Baltimore in the League Division Series. The next year, in 1998, he again hit 56 home runs, drove in 146 runs, scored 120, had a .611 slugging percentage, stole 20 bases, and scored 387 total bases. Alongside these outsized years, Junior Griffey had many very good ones, hitting 40 or more homers 7 times and driving in 100 runs 8 times, and was a stellar fielder for nearly his entire career, winning 10 Golden Gloves. His playing time had dwindled this season to benchwarming, and with a .184 average, no home runs, and just 7 RBIs, he decided to bow out. Seattle and baseball fans in general are indebted to all he brought to the game. He'll be sailing into the Hall of Fame.