Monday, December 11, 2017


Nebula 4 by Jaime Derringer

Image result for jaime derringer art


You know how it is.  Me with my “Oh, this obscure band deserves some reissues” and “Oh, this obscure band shouldn’t be so obscure!”  Fuck all that.  I like that those bands are obscure, you know?  God I’d hate having to discuss them with people, like sports teams or (the sound of me throwing up in my mouth) comic book movies.  Gah……  Still, it’s nice when they get some recognition many years after the fact so they know that some of us actually were paying attention to them at the time.

And, on that note, you know who’s awesome?  Reactor.  They did a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet bunch of reissues for Loop around nine years ago.  I still highly recommend them, because they still highly kick ass.  The three main albums, HEAVEN’S END, FADE OUT and  A GILDED ETERNITY all got awesome 2CD reissues with groovalicious bonus tracks, including  their John Peel Sessions, so that takes care of reissuing their WOLF FLOW album, too.  Nice.  And then the good people at Reactor took the singles compilation album THE WORLD IN YOUR EYES and beefed it up with all sorts of good stuff to make it a 3CD set.   FAN. FUCKING. TASTIC.

I remember reading that Spacemen 3 dissed these guys at some point and accused them of ripping off the Spacemen 3 sound, which is a lot of codswallop, since the Spacemen 3 were basically doing an MC5/Stooges/Krautrock mash-up in the first place.   Bottom line is, both bands kicked ass.  Loop were probably more consistent, though, since they only had one visionary in the group, not two who couldn’t stop bickering.

Bottom line, to quote the good people at Ralph Records, BUY OR DIE.

Saturday, December 09, 2017


ALL THE DIRTY PARTS by Daniel Handler.  134 pp but, I gotta say, a lot of the  white space between the numerous tiny sections could be compacted to take another 20-25 pp off this thing.  $22 list price, tho, so I guess the publishers gotta try to justify that.

And what the hell is this book?  It’s about a self-obsessed teenager, but I found it in the adult section of my library.  It’s one big forward rush of a book, so busy skimming over surfaces that there’s no real time for minor things like character development or growth.  Is it a morality tale?  Something to scare and enrage the Moral Majority (are they even still a thing?).  An attempt by Bloomsbury to cash in on the 50 SHADES OF GREY smut craze, or the JK Rowling sales figures for her grown up literature?  I don’t know.  All I know is, MAN is it poorly thought out and written. 

The characters have names, but who cares?  Mostly they fuck and jerk off and (sometimes) brood.  Usually while fucking or jerking off.  I’ll refer to them anonymously since, even though they have names, they totally lack personalities.

If I may…….

BOY 1 is the narrator and star.  He is pretty much defined by his horniness (a 36 on a scale of 1 to 10).  He’s a high school kid who fucks and jerks off.  Seriously, this is pretty much all we really know about him.  If you left your donut on the table and walked away, he’d fuck the hole.  Twice.

He spends his time finding girls in his school to fuck.  Naturally, many of these girls think this will lead to a relationship, but it never really does because, as we’re told again and again, all Boy 1 wants to do is fuck.  Hurt feelings ensue.  Is BOY 1 crass and hurtful, or just stupid and hurtful?  We never really know.

After Boy 1’s personality is established, we’re introduced to BOY 2.  1 and 2 are best friends.  Why?  We don’t know.  Apparently, it doesn’t matter.  BOY 2 was needed to advance the plot, and so here he is, explanations be damned.  What do these two do together?  Well, BOY 2 doesn’t get it on nearly as much as BOY 1, so he lives vicariously through him.  This involves BOY 1 calling up BOY 2 and reliving his sexual experiences, so BOY 2 can jerk off to them.  When this gets old, they surf porn together in their separate bedrooms and jerk off while talking to each other.  Over and over and over and over.

And then we’re introduced to GIRL 1.  Not unattractive as far as we can tell but, again for reasons that are never explained, she seems to be the only female in the school that BOY 1 doesn’t want to fuck.   Which is odd, because it seems like he’d fuck a goat if it held still for him.  Why does she like BOY 1 as a friend, knowing what everyone does about him?  Again, Handler didn’t think this was important.  GIRL 1 seems to act mainly as the Greek Chorus in this mess.  Her job is to say “You’re getting a reputation” in an ominous tone.  BOY 1 acts with bewilderment, either (again) because he’s deliberately or genuinely obtuse.  I guess.

After GIRL 1’s appearance, BOY 1’s latest sexual conquest gets tired/resentful of him and breaks things off.  He’s at loose ends.  Eventually, he and BOY 2 end up in the same room jerking off to internet porn.  This leads to mutual handjobs and then the revelation that BOY 2 is bi.  Things escalate from here to a full-on homosexual (emphasis on sexual) relationship between the two, although BOY 1 insists on reminding the reader that he isn’t gay or bi, merely horny.  Maybe this is character development?  Probably not.

And what about BOY 2?  Does he have a backstory, a history or any depth at all?  Nope, he just likes to fuck and suck and jerk off.  The present tense is all.  His bisexuality is merely a stated fact, no need to delve any deeper.

And then (drum roll) we meet GIRL 2, an exchange student (it helps limit her backstory) who BOY 1 is immediately smitten with.  Why?  You should know the answer by now.  WE DON’T REALLY KNOW.  The pre-requisite lust is there, but at an even higher level than usual, which seems pretty amazing.  The word “love” is also tossed around but, again, like everything else in the book, this relationship is defined almost 100% by sex, so love might not be quite the word we or the narrator is looking for.

GIRL 2 is essentially the female version of BOY 1.  She lives to fuck, and to do it without the complications of becoming attached.  Why is she attracted to BOY 1?  You need to stop asking questions when you know you won’t get any answers. 

BOY 2 is now hurt since, like many girls before him, he had hoped for a relationship with BOY 1 that went beyond perpetual fucking, but he mostly disappears for the rest of the book, so he’s not our problem.  GIRL 1 pops in a few more times, but not in any truly relevant way.  She does, at one point, seek out BOY 1 to ask him about a male’s perspective of a monogamous relationship (??????), and the correlation between fucking and being in love, so maybe she’s not as bright as we’d like her (or anyone else in this book) to be.  BOY 1 doesn’t disappoint us, though – he tells her that fucking and being in love are pretty much the same thing to guys, and that if her boyfriend has bought her stuff (he has – a ring), he must obviously love her. 

The rest of the book, though, is essentially BOY 1 and GIRL 2 and what becomes of them.  Do you give a damn?  Can you figure it out?  My answers were “no” and “yes”, but I still read on.  I was right on both counts.  No point in giving it away, though, except to let you know that it involves sucking and fucking and jerking off. 

The characters are uniformly shallow and unformed right up to the bitter end.  Sometimes they veer into cliché.  Once, in an incredibly uncharacteristic moment, GIRL 2 actually explodes into self-awareness (if girls who fuck and fuck and fuck are called sluts, why aren’t guys?).  It’s an excellent question, but it comes way too late in the game to make any difference.  I don’t care what happens to these people, because I never care about them as people.  The book seems to deliberately skip all deeper emotion and introspection (I guess the title is a clue), and mostly reads like a lengthy Penthouse letter. 

A bigger problem, I think, is the way that pornography is treated as harmless sexual titillation.  I know the book is about narcissistic kids, but it’s for adults, you know?  It seems like having the first person narrator be a dim-witted cretin is an easy out to avoid having to look at the darker aspects of pornography;  the objectification, racism, abuse, drug addiction, misogyny and dehumanization that are part of the package of internet porn.  Hell, even if the book is supposed to be for youngsters for kids, why not deal with deeper issues than the perpetual hard-on of some teenage boy who treats girls like cum dumpsters?

In any event,.....  This was a pretty sad excuse for a book, and possibly it’s biggest crime was that it actually managed to make sex boring.  Or maybe that was the point?



Tuesday, December 05, 2017



Hourglass Studies is a triumph of imagery, and Krysia Jopek a master of postmodern abstraction.  This book-length poem is a glorious strand of word knots, all of them forcing meanings into themselves, or at least the suggestions of meanings.  The 144 numbered parts (twelve sections, each divided into twelve smaller movements) offer no cohesive narrative, yet they are very much of a whole.  Theyre like a puzzle of an abstract painting made entirely from square pieces you fit them together in whatever way works best for you, and always with the knowledge that maybe even Jopek herself doesn't know the true configuration.

Each of the fragments in this collection (and they are truly fragments, more than a few of them only one line long) is self-contained, but each carries its weight in making the work a unified vision.  There is anger here, and there is sorrow.  There is joy, loss, mystery and even incomprehension (for both the reader and the writer, it seems to me).  The overriding feeling of Hourglass Studies, however, is an almost constant sense of dislocation.  In the midst of a constantly shifting narrative, where exactly are we, the reader?  Jopek offers no answers, only an unending flow of sensory overload, a relentless barrage of supersaturated imagery. 
The 11th part of Section II reads, in its entirety
Particles spin and spin but stay in place [some]how

and, in an oversimplified manner, this passage offers the key to the book.  All of the particles might have their place, but the places themselves are free to move wherever they want.   The work as a whole moves back past Surrealism into Dada and a written form of Cubism, yet owes nothing to either of these forms.  Jopek is too busy pushing forward to spend time revisiting the past.  Hourglass Studies is a work for the here and now.  Its a collection that both deserves and demands multiple readings.  There is no other way to get to the elusive, brilliant heart that beats inside.

  1. If you’ve ever read any of my poetry reviews (and curse you if you haven’t), you know I’m not big on quoting the poems themselves.   I gave you one earlier, sure, but that was an exception.  Not a key to the larger work, necessarily, but at least a thin trace of light shining out from underneath the door.  And if you think it looks all snazzy and happening sitting there by itself, just wait until you read the entire poem and see how it looks slotted in among its brethren. 
  2. Labels, too.  Can’t stand them.  I gave you postmodern here, and I gave you Dada, and I gave you Cubist.  And for those last two, I was thinking more of the visual art side of things, really, because that’s how my mind works.  Synesthesia, you understand.  And, somewhere, someone is still whining “But dammit, I need a point of reference!!  Hold my hand!  Spell it out for me!”  So how about this? “Cryptically prismatic”.  “Tensely kaleidoscopic”.  Or how about disco?  Do you like disco?  Of course you do.  So, picture yourself in your tight polyester, your platform shoes, working it HARD down at your favorite disco.  See all those little whirling lights spinning around the room?  THEY ARE THE PIECES OF THIS POEM.  Period.  Buh bye.
  3. And still people will say “But we need names!  Who does she sound like?!”  And that’s the point, dammit – SHE SOUNDS LIKE HERSELF.  That’s what poets want – their own voice.   I’ll give you this, though – think John Bennett’s shards, only more concise.  Splinters, if you will.  Think Leonard Cirino’s shorter, more epigrammatic pieces.  Think "language poets", and all the myriad directions they moved in.  And do you see how this doesn’t help?  Seriously:  You need to read Hourglass Studies yourself to see how truly good it is.  Now.

    Monday, December 04, 2017

    phantom hope

    a million miles of static on
    pilate’s radio but the fucker wants to dance

    tells you the crucifixion is
    all in your mind

    says it’s a waste of time
    being in love with an addict

    thirty years and nothing to show for it but
    cold sunlight down early morning streets

    st elizabeth on her hands and knees
    and crawling into the ocean in
    some warmer corner of the world

    silver chains and a cross of
    gold and what if she can’t
    remember her child’s name?

    what if every moment is
    the one that matters most?

    you stumble through each one blind
    only to end up lost

    only to end up holding your
    father’s ashes
    in the middle of the freeway

    a million miles of static in every
    direction and that fucker judas with
    his hand up your lover’s skirt

    with his teeth filed down to
    chrome points and his
    tongue dripping poison

    gives us all one last kiss
    then says goodbye