There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed.--TL Simons
As Occupy Portland camped out in two city parks during the mother of all camping fiascoes, the Sky News helicopters occupied the space over downtown, sending me into a frenzy of loathing for the local teledistorters.
November was an often sleepless month thanks to the chopper overkill.
Fortunately, good things were happening for Round Bend.
First came the news that Berkeley poet/biographer Tom Clark had picked up on Bill Deemer's Variations and commented at his website, Beyond the Pale.
These two notices represented victory over the forces of apathy that generally surround the poetic cause. To have bright fellow travelers notice and praise the work is about as good as it gets for the writer, and by association the publisher.
Praise be to the poets!
Now, if the poets could only eat such and pay the rent with it.
If April is the cruelest month, what be December? The saddest, with its often forced holiday good cheer, with its endless materialism and shop until you’re flat broke mentality?
But alas, this December has been less disheartening than most. Echoing his appraisal of the work Bill Deemer put forth in Variations, Tom Clark spread some of his love to brother Charles for the poems in In My Old Age.
It is left to be said to the book buyer at the Multnomah County Library where I sit and type at precisely this moment, who told me over the telephone--"We know Bill and Charles. We love them--" you are not alone in your love of the brothers, lady.
But please remove the April from your soul and shelve the entire RBP catalog.
The press is for real. We just had a helluva year.
As this narrative of 2011 in the life of Round Bend nears its end, I present a few highlights from September and October…
The Oct. 5 Blackbird Wine Shop First Wednesday reading was conceived as a celebration of Round Bend authors. Throughout Sept., as the event grew closer, I made occasional reference to it here and, a bit earlier, here.
I fretted over a lineup cut in half because neither K.C. Bacon nor Bill Deemer could be in attendance.
A week prior to the Blackbird gig, I recalled a reading I attended at the San Francisco Public Library in 1976 featuring Charles Bukowski.
It's 36 years later and I'm still under the influence of that night.
I was no Bukowski at the Blackbird reading and CD was no CD as he struggled with a voice ravaged by the flu.
We struggled through it in front of a sparse crowd on a stormy night, aided by Charles Lucas, who read from the Cold Eye anthology, ably handling the tough poems of Sam White and Mark Wilson, among others.
Lucas happened to be available for the reading because we were heavily involved at the time with piecing together his art book, a project I was growing increasingly confident in as it evolved.
I explained the genesis of that odd book here, noting that Buddy’s propensity for keeping it real and “childlike” gives him considerable merit in an art world that otherwise doesn’t know him as anything but the cantankerous sometimes friend of Round Bend.
October was fading away when a bit of good news arrived--CD garnered a nice review of In My Old Age from former Oregonian theatre critic Bob Hicks, an ally from the art wars of the ‘80s.
Bill's book Variations had been an Oregon Book Awards finalist in poetry in 1999. The original was published by Vermont's venerable Longhouse Press. Bill sought a renewal of a sort with the revisions and additions and decided to go with print-on-demand, and I can only assure you that I'm happy he did.
My role in the Round Bend experiment is a learn-by-doing proposition. An old guy fussing with new technologies and attempting to make it make sense.
Fresh young voices have entered the Portland scene in recent years and they're doing good stuff. I wasn't aware of this community literary resource before Bill's brother Charles sent me the link.
A little free pub never hurt.
C. Deemer dropped me an e-mail in August informing me the local library had picked up two copies of his June release, In My Old Age.
When I talked to the acquisitions clerk most recently, she said she'd be happy to look at the RBP listings. So far, the library hasn't placed the other RBP titles, with the exception of Bill Deemer's Variations.
Fame and repute are everything in this scenario, along with the Deemers' obvious talents. The book buyer told me over the phone, "We know Bill and Charles. We love them!"
Where's the love for the press, lady? I'm still trying to resolve this situation, but if there is a discouraging facet to RBP"s year to date, it is that I haven't been able to get all of our books shelved.
The living was easy over the summer as I assessed Round Bend's potential. K.C. Bacon’s second book, Morandi’s Bottles, went to press, followed soon thereafter by Charles Deemer’s In My Old Age.
Both books were immediately assigned to RBP’s Lulu and Amazon pages, safely out of the hands of their meddling publisher.
I thought both books outstanding and sought to express as much here.
In My Old Age was given deliberate scrutiny by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Association in consideration of its 2012 awards, giving the press an unexpected shot in the arm.
Alas, it did not make the final cut, but as I explained to the chagrined author—the PNBA’s decision shouldn’t be construed as a vote against what he and I both knew— the book was first-rate, lacking only familiar poems about Oregon’s deserts and mountains, flora and fauna, and sacred salmon—the stuff Snyder gave us fifty years ago.
My theory was soon proven by the interest in the book reflected at this blog, where people constantly type in “old age poems” at Google and land at RBP.
Something about aging has universality, whereas the Pacific Salmon doesn’t always play well in Azerbaijan or Cairo—except as perhaps a very expensive food fish.
Deemer has, as football coaches love to say about a good linebacker, a non-stop motor. He soon took his poems to Lewis & Clark College to archive them at the Oregon Voices Project.
He also organized a reading at the Blackbird Wine Shop for October as part of the shop’s monthly First Wednesday art venue.
It was around this time, too, that Charles informed me that his brother Bill was interested in publishing a print-on-demand book. Would I be interested?
At the risk of sounding overly poetic, I said, “Does a bear shit in the woods?” I made this cunning blog entry.
I felt the summer was progressing swimmingly when I began to talk seriously with Charles Lucas about producing a book of his recent paintings.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't note that Buddy Dooley also reappeared to give me hell about things, as you'll note in this conversation.
I haven't seen Dooley in awhile. I wonder where he is?
She was a pretty fine looking woman as far as transvestites go. She had the best clevage I had ever seen on a person who had no clevage at all. Me, I was lonely, jobless, hopeless and didn't have two eggs to rub together. For the first time in my life I told a skirt that I only wanted to cuddle and really meant it. The next morning, my new found friend went into the bathroom Angela and came out Andy. He bought me breakfast and offered me a twenty dollar an hour jobs as a foreman at his trucking company. Don't forget to cuddle guys.
Round Bend's short short story contest is cooler than most. You'll be shocked to learn "how it happened."
C. Deemer's Sequel to "How It Happened"
It happened on a winter morning
like this.. My wife cooked
me scrabbled eggs for breakfast and
left for work. As I sat down to eat,
the neighbor lady I'd been screwing
came in and sat down. She began to
eat my eggs. I was about to take
the plate from her when she started
gagging. She fell to the floor dead,
a victim of my wife's poison. I
got the message and got the
hell out of there. L.A. was much
warmer than Portland this time
I took a little break from RBP in the spring as Deemer and Bacon worked on their books.
I'd left Portland State University in 2007 after falling one class short of earning a history degree, but this last spring I decided to return and finish what I'd started. I needed an elective to finish up a general history degree that had focused on sequential work in three primary areas--Native American history (Eastern and Western), the history of the Middle East, and the American Revolution.
I'd finished seminars on the Japanese Diaspora, the Mexican Revolution, and the Cold War.
I turned to Africa, finding a gem of a class taught by Jennifer Tappen on historical health and healing issues from the colonial era through various independence movements.
The class consumed a lot of my time and energy--my posts here slowed to a trickle in April and May as I concentrated on the academic work and helped Deemer and Bacon push their books toward the finish line, contributing what I could through email contact, reading drafts, and obeying the whims of the great poets caught in the throes of their creativity.
(Okay, I'm being obnoxious).
The best way to illustrate what the spring and early summer brought to the world of RBP might be for you to read the self-explanatory entries from June, after I'd finished up at PSU and refocused on the press.
(The Round Bend logo, attributable to my love of the sound)
The fragmented story of Round Bend's past year continues...
In March, Charles Deemer was already jazzed about the book of poems we agreed to publish through Round Bend. I'd read some early poems at his blog, Writing Life II. He hadn't finished the book, but thinking ahead, he created this initial cover design.
Nice, we decided. But the book, In My Old Age, was about the gray years. Growing old isn't always a colorful experience--Deemer worked the cover over and came up with this:
While Deemer worked on his book, K.C. Bacon and I were perfecting Morandi's Bottles, the Tacoma resident's second Round Bend outing. A proof arrived in mid-March and we opened the book to sales at Lulu and Amazon in short order.
Click on the image at the sidebar and browse the first pages of Bacon's book. If you like poetry, you'll be as excited as I was to have a copy.
March also brought a day of remembrance as I recalled my great friendship with Roger Blakely III, who died in a tragic accident the previous year. I miss Roger to this day, of course. One never gets over the tragedy of a good friend dying too young.
Roger was 41.
But the Round Bend work carried on, as I redesigned the cover of my Four Absurd Plays, using a painting by Charles Lucas that I learned was one in a series he had recently painted on ceramic.
When I saw the entire collection, we immediately began to discuss how the press might bring the series forth in a special art publication, a variation from the work produced here in the past.
More on Charles Lucas later in this account, along with another poet, a fellow Charles Deemer knows very well and whom Deemer always claims is "the real poet in the family."
Of course, I'm convinced Charles and his brother Bill are both poets to the bone, but who wants to quibble?
A year ago at this time I was waiting with great anticipation for my 60th birthday in January.
And not just because 60 is the new 40, either. No, I relished the thought of my 60th because Elm Court, the senior center across the street, offers a .25 cent cup of coffee to anyone 60 or over.
One of the small perks for making it this far, I guess.
Take that Starbucks...
A few short days (are there any other kind now?) after I became a proud Elm Court coffee-drinker, I posted this notice announcing RBP's first foray into Amazon territory. Heretofore, I'd published solely through Lulu.com.
For reasons associated with marketing and perception, a book doesn't hold much cachet with the general public unless one can say with casual affect, "hell, it's at Amazon if you're really so damn interested in reading the thing."
"What's Lulu?" people often asked in RBP's early days, unaware of this vital POD company and Amazon competitor.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
On Valentine's Day I demonstrated my self-love by publishing a collection of poems I'd been working on for several years, Cello Music & Other Poems.
A couple of new RBP projects were simmering in late February when I blogged this mini-rant on books and publishing.
K.C. Bacon's second book, Morandi's Bottles, was coming together after so many editing exchanges that I finally had to put my foot down.
"You'll never achieve perfection," I told K.C., to which he responded, "Yes, but I intend to."
In another development, I'd noticed that Charles Deemer had started posting a number of intriguing poems at his blog, Writing Life II, one of my favorite sites on the Web.
I believed I was watching a new book emerge before my eyes, so I wrote to the PSU professor and retired playwright, suggesting we discuss the possibility of RBP's involvement in the publication of these wry, funny and sleepless gems.
His initial response was that there were too few poems at that time to warrant a book. I pointed out that perhaps that would change.
And in fact it did.
(right now I'm having "hella time" with blogger, my wireless and everything else, but I'll continue later)
More on the emergence of Round Bend Press in 2011.
One of the earliest supporters of the very notion of Round Bend Press was Charles Deemer, a friend from the old neighborhood who read and encouraged the production of my first play, Litany in a Trumpeter's Bog.
He even found a director (Patrick Rosencranz) for the project, a story conjoining homelessness and metal rock (don't ask me why!). Then he played a role in the thing, the part of an American manchild addicted to sardines squatting in an urban basement about to be turned into a rock club (read the play).
The resultant local television production became a Thanksgiving staple on access television for a number of years and went on to win a national cable producer's award in 1990.
When Cold Eye appeared Charles was all over it on his blog, Writing Life II, praising the effort and providing background. I thanked him for his blurb and linked what he had to say here (more on Charles later in this series of posts as I discuss how his volume of poems, "In My Old Age," came to Round Bend this past summer).
While Cold Eye and A Marvelous Paranoia were taking shape, K.C. Bacon and I hit on another idea simultaneously. K.C. had published a trio of books in 1994--a short play of mine, Deemer's Ten Sonnets and his own collection, An Establishment of Change: Poems, 1974-1994, through his Irvington Press.
I'd seen some recent paintings by K.C. in July, 2010. I made a blog entry about the work. When we decided his book should be reissued by Round Bend, I lobbied hard for this painting to grace the cover.
Cold Eye, A Marvelous Paranoia and An Establishment of Change in their final edits came out in a flurry of publishing activity late in 2010 a little over a year ago, and carried into 2011.
(K.C. Bacon, circa 1995, the year we concocted Cold Eye: A Generation of Voices)
Like all the years before this one, 2011 flew past.
But every year is full of stories, and a history is born.
So intermingled with whatever else strikes my blogging fancy between now and the fast-approaching new year, I'll try to post a few of the highlights of what Round Bend Press sought to do and in most cases succeeded in doing since this time a year ago.
Through these posts, I believe I can create a kind of narrative of a year in the life of an upstart, renegade press functioning on a dime and a dream.
Yes, I will link to my own blog some of the time. But I will also post links to a variety of other outlets that have given brief yet much valued notice to Round Bend and the authors who have been kind enough to allow this experiment to go forward these past months.
A year ago, I was basking in the glow of a new concept for Round Bend. I had the previous year concentrated on gathering the manuscripts of four plays I'd written years before and self-publishing them. At the same time, I was writing a memoir that began as a series of sketches on this blog.
I sent a copy of the memoir to K.C. Bacon in Tacoma, whom I'd worked with on a number of writing and video projects years before when he lived and worked in Portland. In 1994, Bacon had published my short play, The Problem, and Charles Deemer's Ten Sonnets, along with a collection of his own poetry, under his Irvington Press imprint.
K.C. volunteered to give my memoir a much needed editing job, and we began to meet regularly when he came to Portland on other business. From those sessions came the opportunity to rethink Round Bend and to grow it into something more than a publishing exercise for Terry Simons--though I am proud to say it still has that element and hopefully always will.
During the Irvington Press era, K.C. and I had tossed around the idea of publishing an anthology. I had, as poetry editor of a community paper in Northwest Portland, collected a number of works that I believed merited a kind of historical overview of a particular, small segment of Portland's writing community from the late 1970s. The project never got off the ground after our initial discussions in 1995, but with the advent of publishing-on-demand in more recent years, its time finally arrived.
Cold Eye: A Generation of Voices finally emerged after its long gestation period a year ago this month, along with my memoir, A Marvelous Paranoia.
It happened one convivial day a long time ago.
She came into my room, sat in my
favorite chair, and ate my unfinished
plate of scrambled eggs. And left
soon after I explained I had no money,
never to return.
Bob's Sequel to "How It Happened"
She came in my door without knocking, looking at me with soiled eyes as if she knew me, I didn’t have time to react to this unknown woman as she settled into my lap. Silent …warm…soft….her hair smelled like straw and her hands were warm and firm.
I kissed her lips and they tasted like scrambled eggs, she saw my jar of coins on the bookshelf and said she would never leave me. I dandled her for hours and made her leave when “The Rifleman” came on TV, wondering if I would see her again.
I invite all who read this post to submit a version. Keep it short and email it to Round Bend (firstname.lastname@example.org). Leave your name and city/country. I'll post the best of the bunch, however many arrive.
Here we go, another entry to our "How It Happened" short story contest! This one is a little long, not unlike a piece of neighborhood gossip that grows into an exaggerated, endless rehashing of what could have never possibly happened to begin with, but which nevertheless transforms itself into an excuse to stand at the bar and have one beer after another until the storyteller is staggeringly drunk and goes home before reaching the punchline--TS
Miguel's Sequel to "How It Happened"
It happened years ago, but the way it happened still seems like a dream. She came into my room. Sat on my favorite chair. I say 'favorite' but it was my only chair. She ate my plate of unfinished scrambled eggs. Except 'eat' doesn't begin to describe what she did to those eggs. She attacked them like a sabertooth attacking an unfortunate herbivore by the Tar Pits: a flurry of jaw muscles, teeth flashing, red drops everywhere...it took my brain precious seconds to understand that they were ketchup, not blood. And then...
What happened then, I can't tell you. The old adage about a gentleman never telling may be shopworn but part of me, buried somewhere under the rest of the rubble of my personal flotsam and jetsam, feels that some things should remain private. So, suffice it to say...certain events...transpired. And then? I think you can guess the rest. She wanted to be paid. When I told her I was broke, a dreadful look came into her eyes, and for an instant, I thought the scene and the Tar Pits would be repeated with myself in the herbivore role, with droplets of hemoglobin as the icing on my death cake. But instead she got up (yes, she had been in a prone position just before, I will share that much with you), gave me a final look, and walked out of the room...and out of my life.
The only part I still can't understand, all these years later, is why she didn't bother to get dressed before she left. I kept her clothes and sometimes, on dark rainy days like today, when I am eating eggs, I lay them out on the bed....and see her there, once again, as clearly as I can see you, right now. Would you pass me the ketchup, please?
Talent, OR/Guadalajara, MX
The contest is heating up, boiling in fact! (TS)
John's Sequel to "How It Happened" "1961" answering her question before she asked. I knew that I should not be driving. I had never heard anyone use the word hackneyed in a conversation before. It made it matter where she was from. I was very uncomfortable with everything in the near future except one thing. Anyone can cook eggs. That very bad feeling was now occupying all the space where I could rest. I kept driving. I laughed but could not tell if I made a sound or it was in my head. She should not be with me. Yes, yes of course. Hackneyed.
John Thomas Ashland, OR
And Kevin Bacon (no not that Kevin Bacon!) Bacon's Sequel to "How It Happened" I have five dollars left after I buy the two eggs which I crack and empty into a cold bowl. As I swirl them with a fork, I hear the door creak, followed by soft footfalls. I cradle my cold bowl in the nook of my arm and, still swirling, peep around the corner just in time to see her reversing her steps quietly back out of the door. Only two of the five single bills remain on the table next to the manager's late rent notice. I owe her twenty dollars and still she leaves me enough for a cup of good coffee. Boy, that's a girlfriend worth her weight in calling myself a lucky guy. I wonder if I still have her key?
A woman enters! Lily's Sequel to "How It Happened" I went into the kitchen expecting to be consumed by his desire. Gabriel was such a huge disappointment! There on the kitchen counter sat a dish of Kate's greasy eggs. I was ravishingly hungry, so I ate them. Gabriel was drunk, beckoned me toward him. No, I thought. I do not want to live among the dead. Ireland will one day be free!
Tony's Sequel to "How It Happened" “Where is the lady?” the little girl asked.
The man nodded in the direction of the hotel and then told the little girl a delightful story about a fish.
“Is she your wife?”
“Yes she is. That is a fact.”
“What is she doing?”
“Talking,” the man said as he adjusted the sash of his bathrobe. “Talking on the damned telephone and eating an omelet.”
“Where are you going?”
“I have some unfinished business to take care of in our room.”
Brooklyn, New York
Lou's Sequel to "How It Happened"
What was she thinking? Leaning against the wall in the hallway listening for sounds around the corner that would indicate someone following. Her life wasn't going as planned but how could she be surprised with the choices she was making recently. As her thoughts went to the dimly lit room she just left, she burped, delicately, tasting egg deep in her throat, bringing a smile to her face. Yes, things were certainly going to be different.
I'm reminded again today of an incident that happened 13 years ago at my mother's funeral.
First, Newt Gingrich, in his repetitively vulgar lust for power once again verified that he is an historian with the flimsiest of credentials and a weak sense of, well, history. He spewed out this crock just yesterday.
My brother Dan walked up to me at the family celebration of our mother's life back in 1998 and thrust a book against my chest. "Look at this," he said joyfully.
The book was an autographed copy of Newt's latest, published that year--the title of which I'm not unhappy to report I don't remember.
The autograph was procured for my brother by his son-in-law, the subject of this lame puff piece published in the Oregonian today.
I remember thinking at the time my brother approached me--Mom would be pissed. She hated the Republican agenda with a passion that only an old-fashioned and true FDR Demo could muster, especially one who headed up a large family in the throes of the Depression and witnessed first-hand the relief of the New Deal.
Which likely saved my older brother's bacon.
Of Nixon my mother used to say--"I can't stand that man." And one of the few times I ever saw her cry was during John Kennedy's televised funeral procession down Pennsylvania Avenue.
She was a tough, sweet cookie.
I always wondered how my brother, whom I guess made a good living in the wood products industry for many years, could have justified his bullshit.
But I recall; he never did much for the old lady in her later years anyway, despite having the means.
The politician in question here inherited his wealth and has spent his entire adult life sucking the public teat.
I could never understand why a poor kid from the Oregon backwoods admired that fact so much. He certainly didn't admire the trait among the lower classes who live on food stamps and unemployment benefits and will never have the opportunities he had under the largess of the New Deal.
The public teat is after all first and foremost a teat for politicians to squander the nation's wealth while enriching themselves and their friends and telling everybody else to jump off a cliff.
I spent an entertaining evening with K.C. Bacon yesterday. K.C. drove down from Tacoma to discuss the progress of his next Round Bend publication--and to celebrate recent notice of the press in new arenas, as well as the holiday season.
We settled on a revised approach to a few text and design questions we were both concerned with.
A clearer, improved concept resulted. We agreed not to rush things, and to strive to give this project the special care it deserves.
This was an important step, an example of how collaboration should work to again create the best possible book we're capable of making.
We moved the publication date back somewhat to give us time to get things exactly right, and now my confidence in the project has bloomed into certainty.
Rather than a Jan. 1 publication date as posted below, look for a later release.
Bob Thomas, who lives down in Phoenix, Oregon amid pear groves and southern Oregon rednecks, has always been a big music fan.
I've known Bob for over forty-years, met him at Southern Oregon College in Ashland when we were freshmen in the same dorm, Forest Hall, in 1969. I fell in with Bob and his twin brother, John, and we traipsed around the campus in what felt like nothing as much as a comic opera with political overtones, in the heyday of student anti-war activism and San Francisco rock.
Bob habitually turned me on to a variety of music and literature, and I've always valued his contribution to my education in things sublime.
I stayed in contact with him when I lived in New England for a couple of years in the early 70s, and I later rented from him in his house in Lebanon, Oregon, near the mid-Willamette Valley town where I grew up. Bob and his brother eventually settled permanently in southern Oregon, and I worked my way up the freeway to Portland.
More recently, I included a pair of his poems in the Round Bend anthology, Cold Eye. He's also featured prominently in my memoir of growing up in Oregon, A Marvelous Paranoia.
I'm editing and preparing for publication a new project by K.C. Bacon, a staple-author in RBP's lineup.
Half or more of the manuscript is dedicated to his collection of 100 Aphorisms, representing some the Tacoma artist/poet's most dynamic work to date.
Aphorisms are as old as writing, and no doubt date to the first development of spoken languages. The handy and true aphorism begets a concise view packed with explosive meaning, opinion, and certainty.
In the hands of an artist, an aphorism crystallizes thought, revealing the complexity of human nature, and just as importantly, the author's belief system and personal tastes.
A good aphorism is seamless. Masters of the form make the work look easy. But, of course, it is not.
Here is Bacon on a variety of subjects:
A man who makes a religion of science is the Pope of his own ideas.
No one needs God more than the atheist.
Growing old is watching a speeding train pass with empty boxcars.
A woman is superior to a man only when the opposite is true.
Self-knowledge is a fantasy made real by the necessity of living with others.
If you want to hear the truth about yourself, ask a stranger.
An intimate conversation is what happens between two people needing the last word.
Giving moral advice to a friend is building them a shrine and using the cheapest materials.
The ignorant and the erudite might admire the same politician, but only the ignorant has good reason for it.
We are never at a loss for words when speaking to the deaf.
No, no, no, not the trickle-down theory that is Round Bend Press (the world will catch up one day), but rather the PAC-12 Championship game, sponsored by UPS and Dr. Pepper (gag me with too much sugar or whatever it is that makes that soft drink product so wretched).
Gag me again because I am about tired of the corporate sponsorship philosophy, even if it is a more realistic view of the world than my own...
No, the football game between UCLA and Oregon set for Eugene tomorrow night gives me pause.
Few people are giving UCLA a chance, and that makes me uncomfortable. With all the distractions surrounding this matchup, I'm hoping Oregon doesn't get lost in the sea-swell of hype (or lampooning) that has dominated the sport's discourse leading up to the game.
Oregon was lost in the hype last month when USC played in Autzen, the supposed loudest stadium in the land, which became very quiet for some reason. Standing on the sideline during that game was a gaggle of NBA stars team President Phil Knight brought to the game just for fun.
A show of shows.
That little gambit cost Oregon, I'm convinced, though one can't conjure empirical evidence on the matter. It appeared to me that the Oregon players were more interested in gathering autographs than touchdowns for three quarters.
This week, Oregon can't even practice inside the football stadium. UPS and Dr. Pepper have colluded with PAC officials to make over the Autzen interior in their images.
Football players would be in the way of the advertising drones.
Good lord, will there be a football game Friday night or a convention of UPS and Dr. Pepper super salesmen?
Oregon is favored by 30, but give me a break. Last I looked UCLA is not a team of 2011 Pop Warner All-Stars. It has big, fast kids (and a few men) on its roster. They landed at the L.A. school for a reason after all. They earned scholarships because at some point in their football careers they could play the game and play it at a high level.
Oregon better push the distractions aside this week, unlike that evening last month when Dwayne Wade tried to talk Chip Kelly into playing quarterback for a series and Kelly almost caved in.
UCLA's players are gonna come out and play hard for their lame-duck coach, Rick Neuheisel.
Money can't buy that kind of emotion.
I think I'll go to the betting parlor today and put money on the Bruins to cover.
"Now that I think of it, a scene from Gus Van Sant's film Drugstore Cowboy was filmed at the Jan-Mar as well. They needed a view from inside a modest apartment looking out into the courtyard of a complex like the Jan-Mar with apartments going down the left and right sides of the screen as seen through the doorway. So at the end of the Jan-Mar courtyard (where there was no apartment) they built an apartment wall to be filmed from the inside looking out into the courtyard. Careful Jan-Mar cultural anthropologists who watch the film can catch the scene if they look quickly.
None of this significant cinema history could have occurred without the cooperation of the famously tolerant 'Julie the Manager'."
This is one of the strangest things I've ever heard of or witnessed in a lifetime of watching sporting events.
Rick Neuheisel, whose UCLA team plays Oregon in the inaugural PAC-12 football championship game on Friday night, has been fired after four years at the Westwood university.
He will be allowed to coach against Oregon, but no more.
His team has a .500 record and landed in the championship game after a fluke combination of events forced a tiebreaker among the also-rans of of a PAC South Division dominated by the probation-stuck USC Trojans.
The Trojans demonstrated their skills in a victory over Oregon in Eugene two weeks ago. But they are ineligible to play for the PAC-12 title after getting nabbed two years ago for violating NCAA rules.
(The NCAA is a monolith of absurdity, but that is another story for another day.)
Yet, if UCLA manages to upset Oregon and go to the Rose Bowl, Neuheisel will not be coaching along the Bruins' sideline.
When is the last time a Rose Bowl-bound team fired its head coach on the eve of one of college football's grand showcases?
It has never happened. If UCLA were to upset Nike U. and get into the Rose Bowl, the strangeness of this 2011 season will be sealed for eternity.
Editor's note: Read this great review by Lally but understand RBP no longer has this book. It's been retired from Round Bend. Look for it elsewhere.
Author Michael Lally reviews Bill Deemer's Variations at his blog site, Lally's Alley.
Lally's blog is a lively, eclectic, take-no-prisoners site he bills like this:
"Just another ex-jazz-musician/proto-rapper/Jersey-Irish-poet-actor/print-junkie/film-raptor/beat-hipster-"white Negro"-rhapsodizer/ex-hippie-punk-'60s-radical-organizer's take on all things cultural, political, spiritual & aggrandizing."
Portland filmmaker Jim Blashfield found my blog (google yourself, a harmless ego-driven exercise and great fun) and sent me an anecdotal note recalling his work with Joni Mitchell in the Jan-Mar Courts/MTV days.
I posted animated films by Blashfield and Joan Gratz (see posts below) last week and Jim might have been feeling a little nostalgic when he wrote:
"The video that Melissa Marsland and I did (with the help of a bunch of people) for Joni Mitchell was filmed at the lovely Jan-Mar as well-- in Joan Gratz's corner apartment that faced the intersection of 26th and Raleigh. We shoved all Gratz's furniture into her bedroom and brought in our own furniture, along with lights and cameras and numerous cactuses. We even built a couple of walls outside the apartment's windows so that we could light them and lend an artificial sense to the exterior environment. You might be able to see the video called Good Friends online and, through its photography, add to the ongoing documentation of the lustrous J-M."
Has any one locale, outside a Hollywood sound stage, been used more for film purposes? Not in Portland, I'd guess. The funny deal is the apartments in the Jan-Mar were absurdly small, too.
That's called making the most of what you have to work with--spatially.
Writes Jim, "I have been doing multiple screen video installations over the past couple of years. If you are interested, my website is here."
A note from K.C. Bacon, Tacoma artist, poet and businessman, reminds me that he too lived in the legendary Jan-Mar in the 1980s.
That is the the Northwest Portland apartment complex I mentioned in this blog post about Jim Blashfield, the esteemed filmmaker whose Suspicious Circumstances jump started his career as an MTV video director in the music station's heyday.
Blashfield shot his film in the Jan-Mar.
K.C. writes, "I lived at the Jan-Mar Courts directly across the patio from Blashfield in the late 80s. I believe my window is featured in the opening door scene. The Jan-Mar was an exceptionally bohemian gathering place, peopled by mostly film artists and actors...and at least one struggling businessman/poet with an old Royal typewriter who spent most of his time perfecting bad behavior with even less good sense. In other words, a wonderful time in a wonderful space."
K.C. informed me that another filmmaker lived next door to him, the Academy Award-winning Joan Gratz, who with Will Vinton was an early innovator of Claymation, the sensational animation technique that swept filmmaking circles in the eighties.
This award-winning film by Portland filmmaker Jim Blashfield led to the artist's career as a director during the 1980s heyday of MTV's music video craze.
His stop-action collage technique and surrealistic vision caught the fancy of David Byrne, Paul Simon and Michael Jackson, to name a few, and Blashfield was a video director in great demand for a time.
Predating digital and computer-generated film making, Blashfield's collage narratives were shot using a combination of still and 16mm photography before transfer to video. His labor- intensive cut and paste, hand-crafted method feels oddly out of place today, yet clearly demonstrates the artist's unique genius.
I had the good fortune of speaking often with Blashfield at the height of his career, when we frequented the same bar in Northwest Portland. Later, I collaborated with him briefly on a history project that, sorrowfully, never came to fruition because Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Historical Society didn't fork over the cash.
As a nostalgic aside, my daughter lived in the very apartment unit, in Northwest Portland's Jan-Mar, where this film was made. She moved in shortly after Blashfield vacated for new digs in the country.
Additionally, the male character in this piece was played by Portland actor Jim Cuevas, who played the role of "Doc" in my teleplay, Litany in a Trumpeter's Bog, produced in 1989.
I haven't talked to Blashfield in ages, but I'm sure he's involved with something just as artistically dramatic these days.
Great artists never quit or retire like ordinary folks.
After lollygagging around for most of the game and getting their butts kicked, the Ducks caught fire behind a couple of dumb USC miscues and nearly tied the game as the clock ran out last night in Eugene.
Oregon's mind wasn't on this game until it was too late.
When is a 37-yard field-goal not routine? When a possible National Championship is on the line, apparently.
This game had all the earmarks of a brewing disaster earlier in the week, when the media started yapping about Oregon's NCG chances.
The big win over Stanford the week before lingered too long and became a distraction for the Ducks.
Players heard how great they are and lost focus.
Phil Knight invited a crowd of idle, bored NBA players to stand along the sidelines and they became a sideshow that diminished the intensity Oregon needed to compete with a highly skilled opponent.
Oregon wasn't ready. Maybe they learned something about handling the spotlight, maybe not.
Oregon State's chances in the Civil War just up-ticked.
Will LeBron and Dwayne be there for the Ducks on Saturday? Of course not. Last night's game was about Nike marketing, Phil Knight, and the star power of USC.
Chip Kelly should have told Phil no when the NBA circus landed. But then he would have likely been fired for insubordination.
I’m watching the Nebraska-Penn State football game, and believe me I could not care less which team wins.
At this moment, Nebraska is leading 17-0, but Penn State is driving.
The camera scans the Penn State sideline, gathering the reactions of the coaches and players to an excellent play, a run to the five yard-line.
Stephfon Green scores! The camera again scans the sideline at the 5:07 mark of the third quarter. It’s a game now and the Penn State staff is excited. Shouting, extolling.
Where were they for the last decade or more? Why weren’t they shouting and rooting for the underdog over the long years of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged abuses?
They knew, of course. How could they have not known that Sandusky was a pedophile?
Coaching is a fraternity. The same group that knows the heavy drinkers among them, or those who carry on affairs, or those who may be a trifle dim-witted—why shouldn’t they know of the pedophile among them?
The arrogance of silence overwhelms even the roar of 107 thousand in Happy Valley.
It is a deep, shameful noise.
A football game is being played in State College today.
Be decent little protesters, and by all means keep the homeless and mentally ill out of the camps!
What does the Oregonian think this is all about?
"But an as-yet undetermined number of the campers are motivated less by the political message than by the reality that their needs are being met, with a space to sleep in shelter that police patrol around the clock, hot food and access to bathrooms."
Surely a part of the political message is that this country might feed and house people who are incapable of doing it themselves!!
The political message seems clear to me. Either place human beings in front of capitalistic ideology, or divide et impera until nothing remains but the bones.
"The thirty-five paintings on ceramic in Ubiquitous Serpentine have a prepossessing beauty that shimmers and pulses. Disdaining straight lines in his compositions, Lucas’s poetically stated ambition is to 'enhance the serpentine,' by which he explains, 'are those profound explications of the mystery inherent in nature.'
Lucas’s bold, color-laden brush strokes conjure mysterious, magical gardens. Expressively, almost impetuously drawn, the paintings reveal a cellular essence invisible to the naked eye. These are paintings to be felt as much as viewed, as one is drawn into Lucas’s vision of nature. Designed to inspire imaginations more than to present any cognitive interpretation, they confront us by charm and beguilement, creating a sense of the quixotic and, sometimes, of the foreboding.
Clashes of color and texture form a chaotic elegance balanced by a pronounced lushness of depth. Splashed, unexpected light counterbalances the considered formalism in each painting. To peer at them closely is to be taken into nature’s underworld, submerged in the possibility of what lies below the surface."
from the introduction to Ubiquitous Serpentine, Paintings by Charles Lucas.
I'm very pleased to present this beautiful book of recent paintings on ceramic by Portland artist, Charles Lucas.
"Those of you who follow Deemer’s bracing, political, personal, sometimes crotchety blog The Writing Life II will remember a while back when poems started poking out, almost on their own, as if demanding voice among the general background noise of sports rants and teaching woes and struggling with scripts and ramming one’s head against the broad national venality and extolling the virtues of a simple cup of coffee and a good plate of scrapple in the morning. Old men, Deemer has discovered to his delight, get to say and do pretty much what they like, or at least what they’re still capable of saying and doing. This book is the result of that irascible fit of creativity, and I, for one, am happy for it."
It certainly is nice when someone "gets it," and follows up with humor as able as the poet's.
Terry Simons is the founder of Round Bend Press Books, Round Bend Press Detritus, and an associated writing/editing service to aid and abet renegade authors. He has worked as a day laborer, dishwasher, factory drone, community organizer, journalist, media consultant and freelance writer. He attended the University of Oregon and Portland State University, where he read journalism, politics, literature and history. He is the author most recently of "Along Came the Death Squad: Political and Scattered Notes."
RBP books are available from Amazon and Lulu.
Write to: email@example.com