esposito's box
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
  TCS in NYC
As April, the poetic month, is almost over. I thought I would relate my experience on Saturday of seeing the Trash Can Sinatras in New York at the Mercury Lounge. It was a delightful show, the band performing admirably under, I'm sure, were the strains of an seemingly sempiternal tour in support of the masterful last album Weightlifting. Poetic to a fault, Mr. Frank Reader dedicated the new song "What Women Do to Men" to the new Pope:

someone else will meet her
stay awake and read to her
someone else will love her
did you forget to make up?
did you suppose your lovers' quarrel
would bring a renewal of your love
and then forget to make up?

and you don't know if it's right or wrong
what women do to men

the room is cluttered up with christmas cards
i can just barely see you
the room swirls around me

it's magic
it's magic
it's magic
what women do to men

or is it all just a trend?
the breeze carries summer scent
well maybe that's why she laughs a lot
do you still think we're all just
magic apes and trick dust?
well someone else will love her...

and you don't know if it's right or wrong
and you don't know if it's right or wrong
and you don't know if it's right or wrong
what women do to men

Not to be outdone in ascribing the new tunes ironically to topical world events Mr. John Douglas then claimed the tune "It's a Miracle" was a response, however prescient, to the last election (I'm assuming Presidential and not Papal): didn't last too long
no lack of trying on our part
as i was saying to the others
it's a miracle we try anything at all
you pour your heart out
knowing full well

it could fail, fail, fail
but how could we know back then?
it's a rare old grail, pricelessly to fail
older sins cast longer shadows
when we watch them fade and die

it's a lovely day in sunlight's golden ray
but that just slips away - isn't it a shame
and it's cold now at night

and i hear your name
calling me back through the days
you're a rare old flame, burning bright again
all those things that we shared matter now
i just can't say goodbye
do i have to try?

honey, it's no crime to lose your way
everyone, in their turn, gets to fail

well how could we know back then?
such a rare old grail, (pricelessly) to fail
older sins cast longer shadows
when we watch them fade and die

it's a miracle

In either case, I left impressed that the Trash Cans themselves can refract their poetic intents through new lenses and layer on new meanings. One day, their work will be held up as classical pop masterpieces against which all others' will be measured. Not just the most under-appreciated band, but best period. Click on the link at right for TCS goodies at their web page.
  Interesting Thread
Over at By Common Consent, there is an interesting thread on Mormons and Democracy. Here were my two cents. I quite like R. Laurence Moore's book Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans, and its thesis presents interesting ideas on what mainstream in our cultural context means. Another recent Salon article I liked by Anne Lamott might, in light of Moore, underestimate the degree to which the religious right's rhetoric confers on it this messy Religious-Outsider-ergo-American-insider status. I wonder if the longsuffering religious left would ever successfully use similar devices. Does MLK in any of his speeches? From my feeling, MLK succeeded by shining a light on hypocrisy in unjust institutions that were putatively impossible in a true democracy. This seems a different project, compelling insiders to deracinate the implanted embarassing brutalities in the country.
Friday, April 22, 2005
  New Yorker Piece on Bellow
There is a lovely piece in the New Yorker which comprises Saul Bellow's responses to Phillip Roth on his novels Augie March, Seize the Day, and Henderson the Rain King. Most of it deals with Augie March, which reflects somewhat Bellow's memory and passage into old age. It's amazing to see how the great man's memory cycles over the important episodes of his life: a walk along the Paris streets, the supreme indignity his uncle suffered (by the dictates of a father) to work with hog bristles as a brushmaker, a trip to Mexico in defiance of another "tyrannical" father. All emerge as sparks of what he became. It's pretty fascinating; Bellow at his most vulnerable.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
  Ms. Right?
Here is a copy of the letter I sent to TIME for its unforgive-able title piece this week.
What reason could TIME and John Cloud possibly have for this piece of dissembling drivel? Ms. Coulter's project ends with pogroms eliminating Americans who have every right to behave and believe differently from her. Her media kindred spirits are the like of managers of Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda. If she is an "ironist," it could still end up being no less damaging than Vonnegut's Howard Campbell, Jr. When the next Coulter-inspired Tim McVeigh murders innocents for holding liberal values, you should proudly share a little of the credit for mainstreaming her.

Once in New York, I caught a glimpse of Ms. Coulter as she left the TimeWarner building, having just been on CNN. She cut an imposing figure, her eyes darting about, perhaps for liberal miscreants. When I whispered with awe, "There's Ann Coulter." My wife asked (not hearing me), "Who?" I answered to describe her as the most vile American media creation of the Twentieth century, and I do not think I was far off. Her staying power legitimizes a sort of mad dash to insanity from which our country may not soon recover. The Daily Howler has a good series on Coulter's depravities. If the vitriol of those like her has the desired effect, an apocalyptic vision looms on the horizon.
Meeting Coulter had the exact opposite effect to my meeting in a similar vein with Lech Walesa on a street in Gdansk, Poland. They are the embodiments of opposite impulses in the modern world. I met Walesa after he had managed to pull a people out of a reign of terror that darkened his country, and I met Coulter while her stated aims, ironic or not, have yet to be realized. If her program has the desired effect, and believe me her mainstreaming is a huge step in that direction, will I, and so many I love, be "disappeared" in five to ten years? The benefit of straw men is that they're easy to burn.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
  Good Movie-Bad Scene and vice versa
From Onion (via lawyers, guns, and money, and ted barlow), a fun thread featuring bad scenes in good movies, and good scenes in bad movies. Here's my contribution:

Bad scene in a great movie:
Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels bears the anachronistic blight of the African American cook playing up the worst of stereotypes. Otherwise, great film.
Good scene, bad movie:
In the poor Hitchcock knock-off Niagara with Marilyn Monroe the scenes with the chimes are chilling. Everything else is pretty much leave it, including what may be the worst line ever for the end of a movie: “It may be the first time that someone said, ‘scuttle it!’ as a prayer.” “And had it answered.”
Honestly, it is so bad, it’s worth seeing. Also the character who delivers the last line plays a truly nauseatingly saccharine man. Is this what they call camp? or is it only if it is so intended?
Sunday, April 10, 2005
  Poetry Month-Some Keats
Good Night. Here is a poem to recite whilst on a pillow.
O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embowered from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine.
O soothest sleep, if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes.
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole.
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
and seal the hushed casket of my soul.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
  "The Amphibian Soul"
Saul Bellow, the Great, has passed. Nobody better made words living, breathing entities than this man. To read him is collapse into a world more alive than your own. So many images from his novels make up the favorite parts of my mind: Charlie Citrine staring at his destroyed Mercedes, Moses Herzog watching Valentine Gersbach wash Herzog's child, Eugene Henderson loopily traversing a tarmac in Newfoundland, Benn Crader and his sponsors engrossed in a Japanese sex club, and (as would be most fitting for today's news) Tommy Wilhelm weeping uncontrollably at a funeral of a man he never knew. I will miss wondering about what he was thinking somewhere.
When our professor Gerhard Bach taught a course on the man and his work, he mentioned an interview he had with Bellow on a book he had been working on since the early nineties tentatively titled All Marbles Accounted For. With a title like that it sounded like a masterpiece of masterpieces. If released posthumously (as I am sure will eventually be the case), I hope it comports with his wishes for the highest of standards.
It is time to mourn. We have lost another great. Not often are we blessed with one such as him.
It's cool, a multi-purpose shape, a box.


Nic Nic Nic Nic Nic

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