Monday, May 23, 2005

dictation from bukowski at bellevue

this is my transcription of the dvd Bukowski at Bellevue
Great video, I recommend, but since I cannot copy/pirate and must return to netflix at some point, I am choosing to preserve it for myself as follows.
I am eschewing most punctuation, using line breaks for all periods and many commas and leaving it to the context to indicate where quotes should be. It's bukowski so it should come pretty readily. Titles are not separated, but should be obvious. Again, it's bukowski, so we should not need titles underlined or boldfaced.

dictation from bukowski at bellevue
[ . . . ] indicate spoken comments not part of text

{video seems to pick up in the middle of a piece}
. . .
this hero of on the road
i met neal c who told me
i'm the tough young jail kid
yeah i said, have a beer
he flipped the beer bottle, caught it
broke the cap off on the table edge
drained it
a week later he was dead
now they're both dead
i don't know what to do
there seems to be no way of stopping the thing

Soup, Cosmos and Tears
I've known some crazy women
but the craziest was Annette
and it seems the crazier they are
the better they lay
and what bodies they give them
annette always lived with the Chinese
but she never saw them
that's what scared you
even the mafia are scared of the chinese
there's the dragon kid
That's all right
he knows you're all right
Are you sure?
when they put the x on you you might as well forget it
i told 'em you were all right, that's all they need
annette had incense burning
all sorts of charts and weirdo books
she always talked about the gods
she had a direct line with the gods
you've been selected by the gods
she told me
ok babe, let's make it then
not right now
i want you to try this secret soup i've made
secret soup?
yes, eat it
and you will inherit many forces of the earth and sun
the entire cosmos
i went in and ate the soup
frankly, it tasted all right, though a bit rusty
no telling what the hell she had put in there
i finished it
i feel like a man of steel now
you have inherited the force, she said
the gods are proud of you
on the couch i finally got hold of her
under that loose orange gown was enough woman to kill an ox
i lived in that hotel in paris
i slept with all of them
burroughs, the whole gang
i knew pound at saint liz
you slept with ezra?
more than any
oh fuck
go, she laughed, ahead
it had been a good soup
those paris boys and ezra had known a good mare
i rolled off
when she came out of the bathroom
she had a bottle in her hand and began sprinkling me with the contents
hey, what's that shit?
the tears of the gods
the tears of the gods?
yes, the tears of the gods
i laid there until she was finished
then i got up and dressed
when can i see you again?
in two hours, or tomorrow
i walked to the door
you walk like a poem, she said
see you in two hours, i told her
the door closed
what a man had to go through for a piece of ass in the modern age was highly ridiculous

i think of the little men
[this is probably a poem you may not like . . . anyhow]
I think of the little men
i think of the little men
coming out of the north
with rags around their bodies
and wanting to kill you
you dead bastards
you have death coming to you
i think of the little men
sitting in dirty caves
smoking, talking about you
you dead bastards
you have death coming to you
i think of the little men
half your size
with bodies like roaches
with flat bellies
speaking a language you'll never know
you dead bastards
you dead bastards
you've got it coming
and your fat soft wives and panty hose
with cardboard cunts
supermarket brains
and immaculate suburban calm
and clean mortgaged bedrooms in hell
they've got it coming
those dead cunts
i think of the little men
coming out of the north
with rags around their bodies
and wanting to kill you
you dead bastards
you have death coming to you
[that includes me]

like that
one of the most beautiful blondes of the screen
unbelievable breasts
hips, legs, waists, everything
in that car crash
it took her head right off her body
like that
there was her head
rolling along the side of the road
lipstick on
eyebrows plucked
suntan powder on
bandanna around hair
it rollled along like a beach ball
and the body sat in the car
with those breasts, hips, legs, waists
waists?
you only have one waist, dont' you?
everything
and in the mortuary
they put her together again
sewed the head back on
jesus christ, said the guy with the thread
what a waste
there's that word again
then he went out
had a hamburger
french fries
and two cups of coffee
black

another academy
how they can go on
you see them sitting in old doorways
with dirty stained caps and thick clothes
and no place to go
heads bent down
arms on knees
they wait
or they stand in front of the mission
seven hundred of them
quiet as oxen
waiting to be let into the chapel
where they will sleep upright on the hard benches
leaning against each other
snoring and dreaming
men without
in new york city where it often gets colder
and they are hunted by their own kind
the men often get under the car radiators
drink the antifreeze
get warm and graceful for some minutes
then die
but that is an older culture and a wiser one
here, they scratch and wait
while on sunset boulevard the hippies and yippies
hitchhike in fifty dollar boots
out in front of the mission
i heard one guy say to another
john wayne won it
won what? said the other guy
tossing the last of his rolled cigarette into the street
i thought that was rather good

[uh, I have a friend keeps taking me down to skid row
since i spent the early part of my life there
uh, i don't learn too much by going back
except it's not a nice place to have a typewriter
and no place is really nice unless you have a typewriter
you can do without a woman
but you can't do without a typewriter]

my father was
one can of beer
a day at the ball game
a color tv
a lawn to mow
a son in college
a pool table
a power saw
a work bench
a joke about sex
a child to scream at
a neighbor to hate
a door to lock
a bank to visit
four pairs of shoes
a light suit
a dark suit
a deck of cards
hospital insurance
life insurance
an inner spring mattress
a talking barber
memories of war
a diploma
an addict
fire insurance
a pet dog
a pet cat
a camera
a tape recorder
a christmas eve
a chicken dinner
a thanksgiving dinner
a sunday drive
church
garden
cigars
garbage disposal
the right to vote
a mahogany coffin
one day of mourning
forget it

[this one is called
the lesbian
and it's dedicated to all of them]
i was sitting on my couch one night
as per custom
in shorts and undershirt
drinking beer
and not thinking too much
when there was a knock on the door
now what the hell? i thought
what is it? i asked
i got a slim one
i got a slim one for you
a slim one?
it sounded like a woman's voice
wait a minute, i asked
i went into the bedroom
put on a ripped shirt
and my dirty chino pants
then i came out and opened the door
it was a lesbian from the place in the back
i got a slim one for you, she said
oh yeah?
she was in a tight sweater and shorts
she turned in the moonlight
see? i lost twenty pounds
you like it?
come on in, i said
she sat in a chair across from me and crossed her legs
don't tell the landlady i came by, she said
don't worry, i said
then she crossed her legs the other way
they had these big purple bruises all over them
i wondered who had put them there
she talked and asked questions
asked questions and talked
who was that woman who came by
with the little girl?
my little girl
was it my little girl?
yes, but they don't live here
my that's nice
her father supported her, she said
her father was a nice man
was that my painting on the wall?
yes it was
she knew something about art
she said
did i have a girlfriend?
what did i do when i wasn't sleeping?
then she stood up, walked over
and stuck her breasts into my face
you don't want any do you?
uh uh
she pointed over to a potty chair in the corner
you still use that?
ah yes
it pinches my cheeks a bit
but it brings back memories
good night
she ran to the door
opened it
slammed it
good night, i said
and then finished my bottle of beer, thinking
i wonder what's wrong with her, tonight
then there was a man
with little tiny legs
running back there
he had this long body
and these little tiny legs
began where an ordinary man's legs
would be
and he ran along
on these little tiny legs
packing baskets of food
to the lesbian in back there
my, my, there's something wrong with that poor little fellow
i thought
the landlord ran him out of there one morning
about five a.m.
hey, what the hell you doing up there
get the hell outta here
the landlord chased him up the driveway
i have quite a landlord, by the way
ah, let's get back to the poem
you're up there every morning at three a.m.
i'm getting sick of it
don't you ever sleep?
what the hell's wrong with your legs?
i sleep, i sleep
i work nights
they came running past my window
you work nights?
what the hell's the matter with you?
why don't you get a job working days?
little legs just kept running
he made a quick turn around the hedge
and was up the street
the landlord screamed after him
ya damned fool
dontcha know she's a dyke?
what the hell ya gonna do with a dyke?
there was no answer of course
then the fellow in the next court
a chap a bit on the sub-normal side
inherited twenty thousand dollars
next thing i knew
the lesbian's voice was in there
the walls were quite thin
god, she got down on her knees
and scrubbed all the floors
and kept running out the back door
with the trash
he must've had a year's worth of trash in there
each time she ran out the back
the scream door
[what kinda door is that?]
each time she ran out the back
the screen door
would go bam bam bam
and when she came back in
the screen door would go bam bam bam
it must've happened seventy times
in an hour and a half
she was showing him
my bedroom was next to theirs
at night i'd hear him mount her
there wasn't much action
quite dead
only one body in motion
your guess
a few days later the lesbian started to take over
coming in from the kitchen
oh no buster, get up, get up
you can't go to bed this time of day
i'm not gonna make your bed twice
then a week later it was over
i didn't hear her voice anymore
she was again in her place in back
i was standing on my porch one day
thinking about it
poor thing
why doesn't she get a girlfriend?
then i looked up
and here came our sappho down the driveway
it was too late to run into my place
i stood quietly
trying to be part of the porch
she came by in her white shorts
and neck bent like a vulture
and then she saw me and made this incredible sound
YAWP
good morning, i said
YAWP
she went again
god damn, i thought
she thinks i'm a bird
i walked quickly into my place
and closed the door and looked through the curtains
she was out there breathing heavily
then she begain to flail her arms
up and down
going
YAWP
YAWP
YAWP
she's gone nuts, i thought
then slowly, slowly she began to rise
into the air
oh no, i thought
she was about three feet above the hedge
flailing the air
her breasts bouncing sadly
her giant legs kicking
looking for notches in the air
then she rose
higher and higher
she was above the apartment houses
rising high into the los angeles smog
then she was over sunset boulevard
high above the crocker citizens bank
and then i saw another object
come flying from the south
it seemed to be all body
with just these little short legs at the back
then they flew toward each other
when i saw them embrace in mid-air
i turned away
walked into the kitchen and pulled down all the shades
and waited for the end of the world
my head rang like a bell
and i began to weep

[she's still back there, by the way
the only way I could get rid of her
was make her fly away]

. . . . to be continued . . .

Friday, May 13, 2005

Slow enoughtend progress for you?

WOODTV.com & WOOD TV8 - Grand Rapids news and weather - A Benton Harbor marching band can perform "Louie Louie" this weekend, after all

First of all, it's a marching band, so even if the associated lyrics are inappropriate, NO ONE IS SINGING THEM. If you have the words going through your mind as you hear the music then aren't you a naughty boy for knowing them. And besides, these lyrics were cleared of any (intelligible) obscenity over 30 years ago.

I was, of course, reminded of Todd Snider's wonderful song, The Ballad of the Kingsman which makes the connection between the wacky hysteria around "Louie Louie" and the contemporary blame-casting towards artists like Marilyn Manson and Eminem for the behavior of their young fans. (Superintendant Dawning either hasn't been keeping up on developments in popular culture and it's criticism since 1963, or else she's had it out for "Louie Louie" since it escaped justice.) The rhetorical thrust of Snider's song is that first of all the stuff such artists are talking about that is already a part of the culture, the society -- if it weren't, who the hell would listen; and second, it's easy to point fingers when "someone comes along on a mission and yells bitch", but all to often, this simply avoids the more fundamental problems facing children today and their root causes. Rock and roll is powerful, but it is a channel for energy, not a power source.

"It's the feel good hit of this endless summer
That gets these kids out of control.
Sing along to that rock and roll bomber.
Hail, hail rock and roll."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Roy Blount, Jr. is not a senator but he is a comic genius

On NPR's Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me this week, panelist Roy Blount, Jr. sent me into paroxysms of laughter (the only sort of paroxyms I think there are). (He shares the same name as a US Congressman (R-Missouri). They're not related -- the congressman is not a Jr. and spells his name without the "o", but the names are pronounced the same)

A quiz question had been asked about Laura Bush's much-discussed jokes at a White House Correspondents' shindig. The answer given, host Peter Sagal gave a bit of background, the he started to ask the panel :

Peter Segel: Now, panelists, let me ask you, as professional humorists . . .
Roy Blount, Jr. (cutting him off): Timing.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Get your hot lead enemas here. It's only a dollar, step right up

Tom Waits has always displayed an unbelievable amount of cool, not to mention extreme talent. However, this NPR story shows that he's also long on something that is a bit more rare in the entertainment world, integrity.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hitchhiker's Fatwah

Let me preface my remarks with some context. I suppose that I tend toward the extreme end of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan continuum. Since first reading them at the age of 11 or 12 I have been through the books at least a dozen times.I videotaped and rewatched the BBC series many times as well. In 7th grade I painted a poster for English class based on the cover of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, the 4th book in the Hitchhiker trilogy. Geek credentials established? Does this mean that my expectations were high? Perhaps. Too high? I don't think so. But as a reader of the books, all the moviemakers had to do to make me happy was stick to the text. I don't mean they had to get absolutely everything in there, or keep it in the same order -- I'm not a purist. As a viewer of the cheesy BBC series, all they had to do was improve some of the the special effects (not too difficult).

This movie was a travesty. Before tonight I have never walked out during the middle of a movie. I tried to stick it out, but after 70 minutes, I just couldn't take any more. The casting was great. The performances were great. The special effects were incredible. The references to the BBC series kept me there at least a half an hour longer than I would otherwise have stayed. But the adaptation, the adaptation was a crime. Why, I ask? Why when you have such pure comic gold to start with would one ever presume to incorporate, no, substitute, such banal, lackluster material. Douglas Adams, the author of the books, is given executive producer and co-screenwriter credits in the movie. However, he died in 2001 and I suspect that without Adams at the wheel, the project of realizing the story for the big screen careened out of control. There were some new bits in the film that I enjoyed and that I sense Adams' had a hand in. Apart from a couple of these gems, the movie worked best -- for everyone in the theater, not just this devotee -- when it stuck to the original material. And it worked less and less well the further it departed

It's as though I went to a screening of a film version of Frank Zappa's album Joe's Garage (this does not exist, yet, but is my dream movie) to find that 70% of the soundtrack had been replaced by new, original material composed and performed by Sting. Not that I particularly dislike Sting, but he's got no business trying to improve Joe's Garage. I think Sting is smart enough to know this, unlike the folks responsible for this movie.

Speaking of being British and smart, that's a lot of what was missing? Are us Americans of the 21st century considered 2 dum to appreciate the very British comic sensibilities found in Douglas Adams' novels? Perhaps many of us are. However, there are a lot of us who are not; the books were bestsellers in the 80's. And I would bet that these one-time book buyers make up a significant portion of the hoards now forking over 9 or 10 bucks a pop at the ticket counter to make Hitchhiker's the top-grossing movie of the moment.

I blame Disney and Dubya for this dumbed-down, dickless, derriere-dimple of a movie.

Alliteration practice over, I will summarize. Hoopy froods everywhere should be advised to save their money. Maybe Batman Begins will come through with the cool the previews seem to promise.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The man who would be king

John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King is a darn good movie. There are some pretty interesting things it teaches about history, ancient, recent and modern. And there's some kinda wacky stuff about the Freemasons in there to boot. (This reviewer has given up developing a compelling opening paragraph, but hopes you will read on nonetheless.)

The movie stars Michael Caine as Peachy Carnehan and Sean Connery as David Dravot, two British ne'er do wells, former soldiers in the Afghan campaigns of the late 19th century who seek wealth and fortune wherever it can be found in the subcontinent. The story is based on a work by Rudyard Kipling. The structure of the story has some post-modern features. Peachy calls on Rudyard Kipling in his Indian newspaper offices. Kipling doesn't recognize him at first; Peachy is ragged, abused and seems to have misplaced some marbles since their last encounter. Because yes, the two have met before. Their previous history is recaptiulated and then Peachy goes on to describe what happened next. Voiceover narration is by Peachy, who talks about himself in the third person -- Peachy did this, Peachy did that.

I've always thought Michael Caine looked like a very distinguished gentleman, one who had probably been a dashing young man. Well, here he is as that dashing young man, or a lot closer to it anyway. His performance does seem distractingly theatrical at moments -- stage whispering elaborate arguments to his pal David (Connery) while potentially-hostile-but -non-English-speaking crowds wait at the side of the stage. Connery's performance was wonderful. This is not the only movie in which he plays a king, but it might be the only one in which he plays someone playing a king. I was reminded at moments of his performance in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, where he plays the Mycaenean King Minos.

So what's the story? These two guys, they fought the Afghanis for the Queen, had an absolutely fabulous time, they don't want the party to end, don't want to go back to England "to be doormen" as Connery puts it. They're bumming around India, playing the short con on the locals and exploiting the well-mannered kindness of their fellow ex-pats. They cross Kipling after they purport to hold his occupation, editor/publisher of a newspaper, as a part of a blackmail scheme. They are roundly chastised by the authorities for impersonating a journalist (still a very popular transgression today, only now it's not called a crime, it's called the news), but when it comes to punishment, Kipling urges restraint because he has come to know that the pair are his Masonic brothers. As far as conspiricies involving the Masons, I think this story might be Kipling's Foucault's Pendulum; I don't think Eco's would work as well on the screen. But everyone must agree that Rudyard Kipling and Umberto Eco are in a dead heat in the cool name department.

The pair later call on Kipling, asking him to witness a contract between them. They plan to travel to Kafiristan and set themselves up as kings, amass what wealth they can with this power, and return from their adventure wealthy men. The contract stipulates not only that they will not give up until the goal is achieved, but that in order to best retain their focus upon it, they will abstain from both liquor and women.

I will forgo any descriptions of the outcomes of this scheme except to say that it traces the Hero's journey in all of it's triumph and tragedy, and the storytelling is so well done that the hero is the only one who does not see that his hubris is leading him from the dizzy heights of the former to the dark depths of the latter. As for the Mason thing, there is quite a bit of fodder for Templar afficianados. Kipling's act to spare the two miscreants, having recognized them as members of the ancient order, is echoed through the story. And at one point, Connery succumbs a bit to that paranoia which seems to descend upon all contemplators of things Masonic, wondering whether shadowy figures have not been somehow responsible for setting the pair upon their adventure and for everything that happened them along the way. When he credits agents of the Masons for having caused the fortuitous avalanche that kept them from becoming popsicles in the Hindu-Kush, it's obvious that we're supposed to think that he's "gone a bit balmy".

One thing that was interesting to learn was that the history presented in the story was legit. Kafiristan, the land over which our pith-helmeted heros would be king, is a real place, or was at least, and a lot of interesting shit was going down there at the time. In the film, Kafiristan is described as being on the other side of Afghanistan from India, in the Hindu-Kush mountains. Today it would straddle the Afghani-Pakistani border to the east and a bit north of Kabul, a city we know from the evening news. The area is (or was) ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from those around it. Alexander the Great spent some time there and some think that the people of Kafiristan are descended from his soldiers. The region was spared the domination of Islam which began conquering Afghanistan in the 7th century -- Kafiristan means Land of the Infidels. It was also left alone by the British Raj in it's rule of the region -- perhaps because the Kafiristanis looked strikingly more European than other groups in the area. However, the mapmakers and the Holy See were able to accomplish (with the muscle of the Brits) what these armies were not. The region was divided in 1893 when a border, the Durand Line, was drawn between Afghanistan and India through the Hindu-Kush. Those on the Indian side were basically left alone, as they were used to. Those on the Afghani side were slaughtered or forcibly converted to Islam. The region was renamed Nuristan, translating to Land of Light.

David and Peachy's adventure transpires in this climate. I'm thinking that at the time of the story the lines on the map have been drawn, but the Afghani's have not begun their ethnic cleansing of Kafiristan. To me, this pair of soldiers represents the imperialist urge, at a time when Britain's empire was reaching the limits of it's expansion. Without Queen's conquering to be done, David and Peachy determine to do a bit of their own rather than face the alternatives of becoming bureaucrats in the imperial administration or returning to England where they would no longer be white-skinned nigh-gods, but ordinary men. In many ways, I see their whole adventure as a metaphor for the imperial/colonial experience. At the beginning their project sounds like something of a lark, or a dare; some might say the Empire's beginnings were not dissimilar. However, as it reaches fruition, the game becomes more and more serious. Once they achieve, and exceed, the goal of political domination, possessing and controlling the riches of the subjegated peoples, they are torn. In the film there are, conveniently, two characters, each representing one horn of this dilemna. Peachy advocates taking the loot and heading for the border as soon as the climate (here literally -- they need to wait for spring) permits. David, however, takes his position as ruler and caretaker to heart, feeling he can improve these people over which God or Fortune, in their ineffable wisdom, has ordained him to be Lord and ruler. He holds court, bidding and forbidding among men with the flavor of Solomon if not all of the wisdom (King David, father of Solomon -- or is it son of Alexander?) Peachy, however, recognizes that is only a matter of time before the local yokels realize that him who survived piercing by arrow speakum not straight arrow, but with forked tongue.

I close now, lest I make myself a spoiler for those who have not seen the film. See it, or see it again.