The Vacuum of Thought

Have not been writing much new poetry, but have been enjoying some revision work and also reading a lot:

Nothing Right, Antonya Nelson
Don't Cry, Mary Gaitskill
Collected Stories, Amy Hemphill
Chapters from an Autobiography, Samuel M. Steward
Sight Map, Brian Teare
National Anthem, Kevin Prufer

National Anthem is a book I wish I'd written. It's strange and satirical and sincere and has odd recurring tropes--snow, parachutes--and is altogether very smart.

I wasn't loving the Teare book...until I got about four or five poems in and then WHAM! Teare does what he does best, using form inventively to surpass all my poetic expectations. It was just a smart first section. I haven't gone further than that yet, biding my time...I'm happy because he's coming to Fall for the Book in VA in September, so hopefully I'll get him to sign that and his other book.

You all know I love Mary Gaitskill like nobody's business. "He had the face of a greyhound." Brilliant. Don't Cry is awesome. I think I enjoyed Veronica more, but it was so great to be in her work again.


In Defense of Irritants

If you haven't heard yet, Perez Hilton got punched in the face.

The story is long and tawdry, but the summary is that will.i.am allegedly asked Hilton to stop poking fun at Black Eyed Peas on his blog, Hilton allegedly called him a "f-----," and then will.i.am's bodyguard allegedly gave him the bruise in this photo. In front of a lot of people.

There's a thoughtful discussion of the fallout that I agree with. Perez Hilton is crude, childish, incorrigible, and unrelenting. Yes. These are all true things you can say about him. His blog is pure, unadulterated ridiculousness, shaming celebrities for innocuous (or even shameful) behavior, sometimes making fun of people he just doesn't like.

And I say, Well, so what?

If anything, this alleged incident hasn't really demonstrated that a large number of Americans would like to see him punched in the face. It's demonstrated that Hilton has power. It might be dubious cultural power, but it is power serious enough to spur a bestselling recording artist to ask for some critical leniency. I might note this is the same band in which Fergie routinely pees her pants on stage, but that's really neither here nor there.

Hilton is a kind of antihero for the gay community. Although we don't all identify with him or the way he very publicly behaves, he's one of the few people speaking up publicly about gay civil rights issues. He put Miss California on the spot on Prop 8 and started the chain reaction that ultimately led to the reversal of her state title. And, although it was ill-advised, perhaps his use of the gay slur "f-word" has revealed something else: that some men still consider being called the "f-word"--even by a childish, crude imp like Hilton--worthy of physical violence.

If you've seen the video, you know the conversation is brief, and that the punch comes immediately following Hilton's beeped-out use of the f-word. And it's not like the paunchy, pink-haired Hilton was so much of a physical threat that the punch was made the preempt other violence.

If you read the link above, there's an interesting discussion of how quickly we can determine whether or not someone "deserved" the violence they received. It was an argument used against Matthew Shepard, that his advances toward the two killers created "gay panic." Don't even get me started on "gay panic." It's only a slight evolutionary step up from "Dan White ate too many twinkies and, in the sugar rush, killed Harvey Milk."

Was this anti-gay violence?


Back from the Edge of Civilization

I haven't been blogging much...because I went to Alaska!

I climbed a mountain! (Mostly without complaint, even.)

I saw beautiful glacial streams!

I sailed high above a gorge in a rickety little metal basket on a rope! (This is my friend Graham, so picture me there, except completely pale and shaking.)

There were bald eagles! I also saw two moose, about 9 sea otters, and the inside of a bar called the Salty Dawg that I wasn't quite sure I was going to make it out of alive.

I stayed in a condo on the beach by real live volcanoes!

I ate fish on purpose! (And liked it, miraculously enough.)

I also wrote and wrote and wrote, and went to the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, where I saw Peggy Shumaker and took amazing classes with Antonya Nelson. It was a great, great week.

And I think your vacation is just the right amount of time when you're ready to go home, and I was.

Next week: Beau moves to DC!


Tagline Brainstorm

Twitter: Because everything you think is genius.

Twitter: Chat for the schizophrenic. RT @myself Chat for the schizophrenic!

Twitter: Impulse control? So 20th Century.

Twitter: Need more quilt inside your sexy warm typewriter?

Twitter: Sucking your life away one Tweet at a time.

Twitter: If the President does it, it isn't a crime!

Twitter: Like a foreign language for parents.

Twitter: 140 characters never felt so good.

Twitter: Confusing you with odd typso!

Twitter: And then what happened? And then what happened?

Twitter: Keeping track of when you're not home.

Twitter: Broadcasting your really annoying personality traits since 2008.

Twitter: Keeping Ashton Kutcher from making more films!

Twitter: Shortening your attention span for--OOH! SHINY!

Twitter: Talk is cheap. Twitter's free!

Twitter: Not just for twits and nitwits! (But mostly.)


Upcoming DC Events

come hear poets
artomatic solo stage
june 17, 19, 26

three big readings at dc’s
all-free, all action, artomatic,
by artists, for everyone
get the latest here:

wednesday, june 17, 7-8:30 pm
Richard Peabody (Gargoyle, Last of the Red Hot Magnetos)
Maria Padhila (Capitol Cougar blog)
Dallas Corsair (Z-Spot)

friday, june 19, 9-10:30 pm
Rose Solari (Orpheus in the Park)
Charles Jensen (Living Things, The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon)
plus performance poets isee
and Brewster von Thyme Thackeray with musical accompaniment

friday, june 26, 9-10:30 pm
Reb Livingston (No Tell Motel, Your Ten Favorite Words)
Reuben Jackson (fingering the keys)
David Beaudouin (THE PEARL, Human Nature)
Pamela Murray Winters (Once Daily As Directed blog)

…and you
open mic signup starts 30 minutes before each reading

books for sale, surprise guests,
homemade cookies
55 M Street, SE


Presidential Proclamation with Substitution

- - - - - - -

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the BROWN-HAIRED community. Out of this resistance, the BROWN-HAIRED rights movement in America was born. During BROWN-HAIRED Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for BROWN-HAIRED Americans.

BROWN-HAIRED Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected BROWN-HAIRED leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. BROWN-HAIRED Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the BROWN-HAIRED rights movement, more BROWN-HAIRED Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly BROWN-HAIRED candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly BROWN-HAIRED employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The BROWN-HAIRED rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. BROWN-HAIRED youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and BROWN-HAIRED families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the BROWN-HAIRED community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to BROWN-HAIRED Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for BROWN-HAIRED couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the BROWN-HAIRED community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During BROWN-HAIRED Pride Month, I call upon the BROWN-HAIRED community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as BROWN-HAIRED Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.



Another reason I love Mary Gaitskill

She was twenty-five. I was thirty-three. She was already editor in chief of a venerable avant-garde press, a veritable circus of caged monsters and their stylish keepers. She spoke with a combination of real confidence and its flimsy counterfeit. Monsterless, I barely knew how to speak at all, and what I could say was timid and unctuous. It didn't matter. She wore a heavy silver necklace over her white T-shirt, under which her small breasts gave off dark, glandular warmth. Behind the bar, a mountain of green, blue, and gold bottles glimmered before a murky mirror lake. On the television above the bar, a rock star in an elaborate video drew a door in the air with a piece of chalk, smiled, and stepped through it. Jukebox music rose up, making a forest of sound, through which young girls traveled on their way to the bathroom. Above us, the fog traveled, too, laughing and quick. The bathroom door creaked loud and long; slim thighs went past, along with a swinging little wrist loaded with shining jewelry. We were hungry for this, all of this, and for each of us, "this" took form in the other. We ate each other with our eyes and, completely apart from our inconsequential words, our voices said, How delicious. We impulsively kissed, and separated quickly, laughing like people who had accidentally brushed against each other on the sidewalk. Then with a nervous toss of her head, she glided in close again. Soft heat came off her face, and then there was the dark, sucking heat of her mouth. She said, "I'd take you to dinner, but my girlfriend is expecting me."

Mary Gaitskill, "Today I'm Yours," Don't Cry

Bonus points if you can name the video referenced above.