Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Untied Artists of Rockford

There's this very small building tucked in between two larger buildings on 7th Street here in Rockford, Illinois. For decades now 7th Street has been the street in our city known for prostitution and drug dealing. If you wanted to misbehave, you went to 7th Street. It is also remembered by older Rockfordians as a grand corridor of factories and furniture makers emblematic of their Swedish heritage and Rockford's glory days. The sound you hear me making is simulated masturbation, because those days are forty years behind us. Those grand building have been sitting and decaying for twenty-five years. A few developers own most of them, and allow them to sit and rot until they can find a way to get the public to pay them to create condos or a retail space that will soon become irrelevant because no one wants to go to Midtown because even if things are changing for the better all they remember is what they've seen on the police blotter all their lives. All of that back history related so I can say this...

This is the Untied Artists Building at 205 7th Street in Rockford, Illinois, America's 3rd most miserable, uneducated, fattest, and dangerous city.  For about a decade I have been walking by it and dreaming I'd buy it and have a creative bureau where all my favorite creators just punched in whenever they damn well felt like it and worked on whatever they wanted. Obviously that will never happen, but I can say in that past decade all of those people have done amazing work and I think they are all awesome. Oh, Jenny painted this. I now own the Untied Artists Building, sort of.
I normally dislike small spaces and buildings, but for some reason this tiny place just captures my imagination. Last night Jenny and I peaked in as we were on our way to Phoenix Traders to deliver copies of the latest Zombie Logic Press book The Blood Dark Sea by Dennis Gulling for his shelves. There wasn't much to see. I don't ever remember anyone being in there, or it having been open for any purpose, but of course one of the local vulture slum lords owns it and has no intention of keeping it up like a decent human being or offering it for sale so someone else can. To let the once majestic structures of a city like Rockford sit and crumble must be some sort of cosmic crime. Of course it's not the type of crime we prosecute in America. In fact, we celebrate vultures who prosper this way, because they succeed, if you call allowing neighborhoods to crumble for years, even decades so you can profiteer from them later being a successful human being.

I don't. But then again, I make things, and tend to evaluate people by what they create, teach others, and contribute to the general pool of ideas and objects that move us ever forward instead of backwards. Rockford is just one of those places that loves the past. And longs to return to a past that will never, ever exist again. The way forward is creativity, ingenuity, and accepting the fact that the world has moved on ,and as a city we need to move on with it.

What I'm pining for here was never more than a small pipe dream of mine. The adult in me knew I was never going to own a building where all my friends showed up and made whatever they wanted and people were going to give us money and everything would be a happy ending. But in that past decade those friends have been incredibly productive here in Rockford. Painters, photographers, musicians, poets, videographers, web developers, dancers, spoken word artists... so it turns out The Untied Artists Bureau is just a metaphor for the life I live already, and am so proud of and grateful for. And neighborhoods like Midtown and Downtown are now coming back. Soon we won't even be able to afford to live in the places we helped survive the darkest days of decay and paying for the sins of the past.

But that's ok, because we'll be somewhere else creating and dreaming and breathing life into places others left for dead. 

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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Knife As Metaphor In the Outlaw Poetry of Dennis Gulling

The knife is a frequent metaphor in the new book of Outlaw poetry The Blood Dark Sea by Dennis Gulling. Conversely, the knife is frequently a metaphor for nothing but itself in the new book of crime noir poetry The Blood Dark Sea by Dennis Gulling. The reader is free to decide. In 100 pages of true crime inspired vignettes of bad behavior, bad decisions, and bad consequences, the good comes from Gulling's unflinching and steady hand on the so-called camera he holds to his subjects. The observations are variously severe, humorous, and ironic, but never delivered in a condescending tone. We've all been there at least once, and if we haven't we know someone who has. Terrible things happen to the people in these poems. And they do terrible things. But instead of trying to describe the tone and tenor of these fabulously realized snapshots of the underbelly of American life, here are some examples from Dennis Gulling's The Blood Dark Sea.


Toby the busboy
Found the finger
On top of the urinal
It was cut clean and smooth
Had dirt under
The chewed-down nail
Felt cold and hard
Like a carrot
He stuck it in his shirt pocket
And when she wasn’t looking
Dropped it in the cashier’s purse
Then asked her for a Kleenex


Sounds of balls hitting pins
People yelling, laughing
And jukebox music
Drifted through the back door
Of Kingston Lanes
Where Tanner and I
Sat in his pickup
He kept saying
That bitch
That bitch
While he unwrapped
The towel off his left hand
And stared at the empty space
Where his thumb had been
Said she did it with a hatchet
When he was passed out drunk
No goodbye
No suitcases
Just left with his thumb
Crazy whore was always
Pulling shit like that
But it could have been worse he said
And rubbed his crotch
With his 4 good fingers

"The Knife" by illustrator Jenny Mathews


Larry Simpson was playing
Cards at my house when
His sister came pounding
On the door saying
Their mom had gone crazy
And torched her house
When we got there
There were fire trucks
Police cars and crowds
All over the place
And Larry’s mom was standing
In a yard across the street
In a housecoat and shower cap
Laughing like a kid
With big long tears smearing her cheeks
She had a tv remote in her hand
And every few minutes
She’d point it at the flames
And try to change the channel

You can buy The Blood Dark Sea at Zombie Logic Press 

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brother S 1500 Whisper Word Processor

Last free write of the day before I anticipate Jenny will show up and we'll head out to Spring Art Scene. I'm watch The Incredible Hulk on MeTV, and it seems like he's close to Hulking out for the first time. I wonder if the writers had a formula where they were required to make him Hulk out at least twice per episode. 

This is a Brother 1500 S Whisper word processor with an attached printer. I would like to have something like this even though I know there is no way to transfer these files digitally. Maybe I could just write up a few poems, print them out, and stuff them in an envelope the way Charles Bukowski did. 

I think I might have a tablespoon of baking soda before we head out. Sort of settle my stomach and prepare it for whatever carnage might be coming its way. Hard to tell at these art venues. Sometimes they'll be cool and have a few beers or a bottle of whiskey around, but generally its wine, which is an instant migraine headache for me. 

Set off the smoke alarm earlier making chicken wings. There was no smoke at all, I just just think it sense my panic whenever I cook and reacts. I jumped up and managed to grab it from the wall, and it stopped beeping after three sharp, shrill beeps. I ran downstairs with it and hid it under a stack of towels. Now I have to go down and get it. 

Bottom of the hour. I feel like someone is about to twist David Banner's arm within the next minute. 

"You want to fight? I'll give you a fight."

Bad idea, dipshit.

I have been wanting to watch this with Jack since it started airing on MeTV a couple of months ago, but I keep forgetting how early it is on, and tonight he's at grandmas. 

Made a list of Outlaw Poets earlier today. Running Hulk. That's it. Baking soda time.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

I Dislike Poets

I want to say this right on Main Street. I don't care for poets very much. As a group I never really have liked them and always felt leery about self-identifying as one. No group has ever proven to be more less deservingly self-important, pompous, and completely oblivious to their jackass nature than the poets I have met in this lifetime. On my Facebook feed I only have a few, and I don't like them.

National Poetry Month? More like National Asshole Month. I've never met a group of people less cognizant of the fact that you have to support your own genre. But not poets. Every single person on planet Earth who ever wrote a poem immediately seems to get a sense that they are exempt from supporting another poet or buying a godamn book. Read a book. Please. I get dozens of poetry submissions a month at the two literary reviews I edit, and it's clear they haven't read the guidelines, and why should they, they're poets.

I will say through careful editorship I pick out a lot of gems and am happy to publish them, but poets wouldn't survive on a planet as bountiful as Earth if there were no non-poets around. They just wouldn't know how. They would be incapable of learning the lesson that just because you wrote a poem once it doesn't make you exempt from every fucking rule of decency that applies to every other human on the planet.

I stopped submitting poetry over twenty years ago and have self-published my work since then. Over the past few years I have begun publishing the poetry of others, at my own expense, because I just can't seem to kick the habit. I may love poetry, but that doesn't mean I have to associate with poets. And I don't. I have friends who are musicians, visual artists, graphic designers, and a few who actually do something useful for a living, and none of them have this aura of arrogance I can get from the worst poet on the planet in five seconds. What the fuck do you fuckers think you ever did that entitled you to be such jerkoffs?

Anyway, Cubs lost today. Sent the latest Zombie Logic Press book to the printers today. At least I think I did. It seems to have disappeared into that Friday afternoon vacuum one encounters when dealing with creative types. None the less I'm in no hurry so I'll just send them a polite email Sunday night saying they received it and no way I'm waking up early on Monday morning to verify that.

This book should lose me a few hundred more dollars of food money I don't have and earn complete indifference from the poetic community. I tried to market our last two books to non writers, with some success, but no one hates poetry less than non poets, so there's really no where to turn in terms of finding an audience. 

I'll just eat the ramen noodles until the next one. You're welcome and thanks for nothing.  Pin It

I Made Dumb Things Today and Now I'm Going To Watch Vault of Horror and Drink a Final Cup of Tea

I made dumb things today and now I'm going to celebrate the dumb things I made by showing them to you and drinking a final cup of tea while I watch Vault of Horror. Then I'm going to go to Outsider Poetry and write a posy titled Outlaw Poetry emanates from Yul Brynner's crotch. 

The man in the first story of Vault of Horror has just been served a glass of blood he believes to be tomato juice after traveling to a remote village of vampires to kill his sister after their father dies. She returns to the restaurant later to partake of a glass of his blood after he is tapped like a beer barrel. One of the vampires says "A good year," which seems kind of funny. 

Gap-toothed British funnyman Terry-Thomas stars in the second story as a domineering jackass who bullies his wife until she buries a clawhammer in his skull and stores his parts meticulously in jars in the basement. Both stories I have described are far more tongue in cheek than gruesome, although when described they sound bloody and violent.

I see on the other screen, a television, i am also watching The Omega Man. I have a similar living arrangement to The Omega Man in that I live in an apartment above the third most dangerous neighborhood in America. Last night there were high speed polic chases and an ambulance showed up another time to cart someone away that was sitting on the bus stop bench under my window. 

Today in the mail I received Super Mario Kart, but I haven't gotten the generic clone game system I ordered so i can play it with Jack. 

The days are so fast I can't possibly apprehend them or even make a concentrated effort to describe what is happening. For him these days are going slowly because in the Psychology of Perception i learned youth seems very long and eventful because time to us is really the space between novel experiences. I can't wait for her to bury that claw hammer in this jerk's head so we can get to the Dr. Who story.

I left the design components I alluded to in the title on the other computer, the one I am watching Vault of Horror on. 

Did you see that Cubs game tonight? They are 8-1 now. When they resigned Dexter Fowler a couple of weeks before Spring Training I didn't think much of it because he didn't exactly blow the roof off my doors last season, but he's off to a roaring start, and with the Kyle Schwarber injury his return seems like a genius move. 

We reloaded the book of Outlaw Poetry we've been editing, The Blood Dark Sea, onto the BookMobile preflight apparatus, and if we approve the changes we made tomorrow I hear it could arrive by April 22nd. Actually, that is kind of a gruesome ending with the hammer and the body parts, but it's all in good fun.

Terry-Thomas really earned every ounce of this fate

I forgot the magic rope story comes before the Tom Baker story. It's a good one, too, and a cautionary tale not to "appropriate" the work of others. 

So, let me recap: time flies, Cubs, Omega Man, Dr. Who, Yul Brynner's crotch, goodnight

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

So Long Democratic Party

The same way the Republican party has come to be known as the trickle down party of economics, the Democratic party has rapidly become the party of trickle down ideology.

What does that mean?

Well, in my opinion, the Democratic party has told its voters to allocate all the resources, all the power in selecting candidates and establishing a political platform, and just trust them to vote for the candidates and issues they put forth and they will be rewarded, but if they decide to go in any other direction they risk losing whatever progress has been made in the past. Moreover, whatever hope they have of making rapid changes are illusory and unrealistic. They should just sublimate their real desires for change and allow the party to decide when and where change is possible, and at what rate.


It's exactly the same thing the Republicans tell us about economics. That there is this elite economic class that knows more about money than we ever could, and we should just allow them all the power because this will in turn allow them to create more wealth that we all will eventually participate in. The problem is it has never happened, 

So why believe the equivalent of the trickle down theory ideologically? Why give a small group of people the power to dictate what issues and changes are possible? It certainly hasn't proven true in the past. Two years Obama had a Democratic Congress and they got almost nothing done, then waited until Republicans swept in and immediately blamed them for obstructing whatever they were trying to do. But what were they trying to do? They could have done it. Something stopped them, and I don't believe it was the Republicans.

Exactly why should we believe in the future, if we give them all the power, that this Democratic party will address the issues so many of us care about? Fool me seven or eight times...

Vote blue no matter who? 

No. Not this time. Address the issues a substantial portion of the electorate is raising. We want money taken out of the political system. We are sick and tired of rigged elections. We want real social change. Health care and education for all. We want an end to these awful trade agreements that have caused so many Americans to lose their jobs. We want the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share because we're sick of bearing the burden locally of keeping our roads and schools open. You say those goals are unrealistic, and yet they are the model throughout Western Europe. 

What you're really telling us when you say these are unrealistic goals is that you really don't share our core values and goals for America, and once you've told us that why the hell should we vote for you?

In November I won't be. So long, Democratic party. 

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Stacking the Fizz

I got a stack of Franklin half dollars today in the mail, and I was excited to show them to Jack, and I put them in his hand and he was really impressed by them. Then he asked me about Benjamin Franklin, then he told me a few things about Benjamin Franklin, which I thought was really cool. I've been trying to introduce the concept of money, and it's value, to him lately. The Franklin half dollar has got to be one of my favorite coins. 

What a humdinger of a game the Cubs played tonight. It looked like they were dead in the water against this Reds' pitcher, but they found a way to come back late. What a fun game to watch, and I think this team will go on to stack up loads of regular season wins, but none of that will mean anything once the playoffs start. Cub fans now expect a World Series or nothing. There are no surprise seasons left now. 

Listed a few items on Ebay tonight, trying to raise money for the New Orleans vacation Jenny and I plan to go on. 

Trump is on the news saying "It's a fix," and after seeing what happened in Colorado and Wyoming this Saturday it's hard to disagree. The DNC may have the juice to force HRC down the throats of those who don't want her, but it may be the last time they ever have that power again. The "my turnism" of her campaign is staggering. Nearly sixty percent of the populace neither likes or trusts her, but she's going to get to be President because it's her turn? That smells rotten to me. Of course the Republicans can't even find a candidate they can get behind. 

My good friend Tim Stotz and I have been talking about the experience of free writing lately. It's not something a lot of us do anymore. I've been thinking about maybe doing a free write here every night. It most likely would be a recap of the Cubs game, the day in politics, and some goofy reactions to events during the day. I might not do it because I journaled for twenty years and there ultimately wasn't any value to it, much like this blog. 

Imagine a time in history when everyone had a pocket full of silver or gold coins. And the value of the things they consumed was intrinsically intertwined to the value of those coins. It's hard to make that connection with a promissory note, or even less so with an electronic transfer. 

I wonder now if I ever will finish Poem Book Five. If I do I hope Jenny paints a glowing red Five on the cover. I can't envision the book in my mind right now. 

Well, that's my free write from Day 12 of National Poetry Month.  Pin It
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