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 We were also suggested to bring a previously unpublished poem, something perhaps old but serviceable, so I brought a poem I've never published, but have tinkered with for years, "Serenade," finally getting it close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!


This is what BP doesn't want you to see or journalists to talk about, and the images are from just at one beach in Louisiana:

Tragically, it's only getting worse as ecoterrorists BP and the government bumble along. Tomorrow, I believe, they're aiming for yet another Hail Mary....


Okay. I get that Russell Brand is the (British-imported) laddish flavor of the month. (Who is Russell Brand?) But I still must ask Hollywood, can we not see more than 1-2 films starring Jonah Hill, or anyone associated with the Judd Apatow-Seth Rogen crew, if even that many, per year, please? PLEASE? There are millions of stories to tell that do not involve this gang or their puerile and decreasingly funny bro(m)-antics.  So please, Hollywood or someone else in the US with access to DV or film stock, create and distribute some other films. Please!


  1. Say what you will about Judd Apatow and his ilk, at least Get Him to the Greek isn't Sex and the City 2. Every time I see a poster for that movie, which here in New York is approximately every four seconds, I feel physically sick. The fact that the film is so explicitly being marketed to me as a woman irritates me as much as the idea that McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as VP was supposed to make me like him. I'd rather watch a bunch of bros stumble around in a disaster of their own devising than see those four over-privileged, shallow, entitled, materialistic anachronisms skreech about finding fulfillment in shoe-purchasing, with the implicit assumption that I will be able to relate to it.

    Actually, I'd rather watch Iron Man 2, and find another geek to argue about whether or not Don Cheadle > Terrence Howard as Rhody. My taste in summer movies is exactly as lowbrow as Hollywood wants it to be. I even watched Clash of the Titans. But it will never be lowbrow enough for Sex and the City 2.

  2. I agree about SATS 2, which has been harshly critiqued all over the web. This review, by a woman, was one of the best and most lacerating reviews I've read; she really tears it to pieces. I think of it as a ghost trace of an era that's already gone, a sad, desparate echo that will be silent by the time summer's in full swing.

    I'll also say, though, that there's a relentless string of these Apatow films, like a bombardment. As quickly as he can spit them out there in theaters. And some are sexist, reactionary, and not that funny. (Cf. Knocked Up). I know it's his--and a sizable swathe of Hollywood's--fantasies being realized, but I find them tiresome. I havn't seen Ironman 2; I can't really take Robert Downey Jr. anymore (I've been watching him mug for the cameras all my life, we're about the same age), and I hate to see what Gwyneth Paltrow now finds herself consigned to. And (poor) Don Cheadle...well, at least he's getting paid good money to do the film.

  3. That is a great review of a terrible movie. I find it hilarious that someone in Hollywood thought that the one thing the SATC girls needed was to add cultural imperialism to their repertoire of awful, awful character flaws. And I like that when Charlotte says she feels sorry for women raising kids "without help," she means servants. Not, you know, spouses or partners.

    I think what makes the bro wish fullfillment movies a little easier to take is that they aren't billed as empowering. Still a bit overwhelming though, the way they keep coming. And I totally agree that Knocked Up was awfully reactionary (I'm not allowed to say that, though, the chick who notices Katherine Heigl is preggers while measuring her belly is a cousin of mine), but what really bothers me about them is that women are not allowed to be funny. Ever. Judd Apatow has never heard of a woman being funny. Men are all hilarious, with their many quirky traits, endearing foibles, and snappy dialogue, but women are there to be slept with, and to be sensible, and generally to be the straight men for the wacky adolescent male antics. Women can be funny and adolescent too, Judd! I've seen it happen!

    As for RDJ, I have to say I haven't been as over-saturated with him, and I am completely joining in on the apparent nationwide crush on him. I think the first thing I saw him in was Tropic Thunder, where he was just ruthlessly mocking the "serious actor" persona. And I guess, too, I've bought into his whole Comeback Kid story. Here's a guy who used to have Mel freaking Gibson bail him out when he got arrested for drug possession, and now he's back, clean, and making movies! I mean seriously, how sad do you have to be before Mel "Sugartits" Gibson is your designated driver? And now he's clean, which is nice. Anyway, I liked him in Sherlock Holmes, and I think he makes a smashing Tony Stark/Iron Man. Talk about wish fulfillment characters! He grew up a billionaire playboy genius, didn't sprout a conscience till age 40, at which point he built himself the coolest toy ever and became a superhero celebrity who hangs out with Nick Fury and Captain America! Meanwhile, Batman is watching his parents being gunned down in an alley, and the X-men are being persecuted for being metaphors for racial minorities/homosexuals, depending on what year it is.

    There was something odd about Don Cheadle in that role...I think I read somewhere that he did it solely because there aren't enough black superheroes out there, so he couldn't pass up the chance to play War Machine. That may also be why Samuel L. Jackson is playing Nick Fury. Either that or he's doing it because he's so perfect for Nick Fury it's not even funny.

    I don't know why I talk about movies though. Like I said, I sat through Clash of the Titans. I lost all my credibility right then and there. (Who is Sam Worthington, and why is he in all my movies all of a sudden? He was awful in Avatar, too. But I'm trying to forget I ever saw Avatar.)

  4. Very good points on Apatow and women characters. Women in his films are ciphers when they exist at all. Seth Rogen and other filmmakers are also part of this mix. Having been a young (but not straight) male, I sort of see where they're coming from, but I also now feel like: grow the f*ck up! Maybe that's because I'm old enough to be someone's father. But they do just keep turning these films out, in part I think because people devour them. Or do they? I'm too lazy to check.

    RDJ Jr. really was in a bad place, so I do cheer his turnaround. I'm sort of tired of him, though. I don't think he's that talented, but I know many people love him, so I accept it. At least he's no Mark Harmon.

    I would much rather see Gwyneth Paltrow in films, and quality ones. Mainly I see her freaking out or exposing some picayune aspect of her life every week on Huffington Post. Is she that desperate for attention? Please don't let her turn into Jennifer Anniston. Please.

    I'd like to see Don Cheadle in more quality films with any other actor who can, well, act.

    Watching Clash of the Titans hardly disqualifies you from commenting on movies; I mean, I *loved* every last one of those horrid *Police Academy* movies. Talk about retrograde. For years I watched every one of them. I also nearly exploded watching and laughing at "Superbad." But that was 3 years ago or something. And Apatow's doing the same thing, or variations, again and again. Maybe my feelings about him match what others feel about Woody Allen, or did. Does anyone watch his new movies? He's been mining the same territory since *Annie Hall*. Judd Apatow has not produced anything at the level of a *Manhattan,* *Interiors,* *Crimes and Misdemeanors,* *Hannah and Her Sisters,* etc., so Woodele gets a pass from me.

    Sam Worthington is young and blond-ish with a nice face and body, which means there's a corps of Hollywoodites who're projecting him into all these roles. Let's see how long he lasts. I still haven't seen *Avatar,* though I almost picked it up from the video store the other night. I may watch *Colossal Youth*, though, tonight after I get back from Senior Writing Major bowling (go Fiction!!!).

  5. Don Cheadle deserves better, but I think he must have been having fun. It's not often he gets to play around with ridiculous special effects and explosions. (His IMDB page tells me he was in an episode of Fresh Prince. Why does no one tell me these things?)

    Good luck bowling! Beat those Creative Non kids, give them something sad to write about!

    (I wrote a review of Avatar over at . I think I called it something like "Avatar: Sigourney Weaver's Worst Movie With Aliens in it")