To the Point

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jan-Mar Redux

(Looks like the Jan-Mar to me)

One more tale from the glory days--

"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'."

Jim Blashfield

Jim obviously has a better memory than I do. I watched a lot of the shooting of Drugstore Cowboy up close, but didn't recall the Jan-Mar location.

Of course, Blashfield was (and is) an active filmmaker, while I was trying to hold existence together in one restaurant or another as a dishwasher/playwright bearing a bad hangover most days.


Monday, November 28, 2011


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.


Happy Birthday

Last year marked the 50th birthday of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

This year's birthday novel is Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

Earlier this month C-Span assembled a team of luminaries to discuss Joseph Heller's Catch-22 for Book-TV.

It's a 90 min. program, but worthwhile says my neighbor Bob Snyder, a dedicated C-Span fan.


Lally Reviews B. Deemer

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."

'Bout says it all right there.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

More on the Jan-Mar Courts

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."


Friday, November 25, 2011

A Note of Recognition

Just received a nice note from Tom Clark in praise of Bill Deemer's Variations.

Clark is a well-known poet/biographer, affiliated for years with Black Sparrow Press, and a former poetry editor of the Paris Review, the legendary journal founded by George Plimpton.

With this recognition, Round Bend Press gratefully takes its place amid royalty.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pike's Place

A few great photo-shopped images from boingboing.


Joan Gratz and the Jan-Mar

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.

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase by Joan Gratz:


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Armed, Sober (or Drunk), and Stupid

A culture war rages in a strange Texas town torn between Baptist values and the urge for a beer at 1:59 a.m.

Funny article, though I'm not certain it was intended to be.


Evelyn Follett

I'm sitting here in front of my computer screen thinking about turkey and dressing.

One of my sisters, the professional chef, used to cook the family dinner. She slaved for hours and was usually too exhausted after the fact to sit down and eat with everyone.

Too, she loved the adoration, the lip-smacking compliments that always accompanied her meal.

Sit down and eat! the family always exhorted. She waved us off and sipped her beer, her face showing the satisfaction of a job well-done, becoming flush because she drank a lot of beer.

She was, befitting a pro, a dressing specialist. She used to throw some wild nuts into her concoction that gave the stuffing a special lift.

Her gravy always killed. Her turkey always had the exact measure of tenderness that kept you returning to the dinner line like a fat fool.

Evelyn was my oldest sister. She was born in 1925 and always had powerful stories to tell about living through the Great Depression. When she died in 2000, I attended her funeral service.

She'd given up beer by then and had become, at behest of her youngest son, a reborn Christian.

My eldest sister...

She was a beautiful, large woman, and what a cook!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Suspicious Circumstances (Jim Blashfield)

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.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to Lose a Football Game

That truly would have been a miracle comeback.

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.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm Pissed

They're in the sky again today, hovering above downtown Portland, those damnable news helicopters.

I live in downtown Portland.

They ruined more than one night of sleep for this old boy in the past weeks. Chop, chop, chop, chop, the noise is such an irritant.

Covering Occupy Portland with what the news organizations would try to convince you is first-rate news gathering.

Piss on them, it is an unnecessary extravagance. The news stations are doing for journalism what the Occupy crowd is doing for realpolitik.

That is not much.

What is the goddamn point? I'll put it this way--the choppers are more of a nuisance to this community than any number of campers in the parks.

Junket Sam got rid of the campers. Why can't he do something equally functionary with the news organizations? They're equally absurd.

Portland needs a No Fly zone right about now.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Contemplating "Yes, But..." Revisions

I've been playing around with a new edition of my collection of PaintBox/ClipArt, Yes, But You Don't Understand!.

I changed some of the pieces inside, added a complete copyright page, etc.

An improvement, but I'll wait before declaring my happiness with it. Let it simmer.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Arrogance of Silence

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.

But there will be no winner.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Wasted Nights and a New Book

(Charles Lucas)

Feeling a little better today after two nights of complete hell in the health department.

A friend admonished me yesterday for not being very "talkative" lately and ignoring this blog. It's true, this is my first post in a week.

But damn, every time I sit down at my desk I feel like returning to bed.

The arrival of Charles Lucas's Ubiquitous Serpentine in the mail yesterday picked me up somewhat.

I'm beginning to see how it works. Every new publication is my new favorite in the growing RBP catalog.

Lucas's book is a beaut.

Click on the sidebar image of the book and have a look inside courtesy of the fine folks at Lulu.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Joe Frazier, RIP

What great memories this guy and Ali left for my generation.

I loved them both and admired Frazier's tenacity. His left hook scared me through the TV and movie screens of the day.


Friday, November 4, 2011

I Kid You Not

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.



Unbiquitous Serpentine, 2010, by Charles Lucas

"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.

Order your copy here.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Matty Alou, RIP

"Matty and his brothers Felipe and Jesus made history on Sept. 15, 1963, when they played at the same time in the outfield for the Giants during a game against Pittsburgh in Forbes Field."

I was 12 in '63, and I thought, wow, how often will you ever see three brothers in the same outfield in Major League Baseball?

Not often as it turns out.

The ESPN report on the death of Matty Alou.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Design Questions

(Transformation by Charles Lucas)

Some last minute changes to the design and editorial makeup of Ubiquitous Serpentine have conspired to set publication back a few days, no biggie. The usual ebb and flow of design and paranoia.

One strives to get it right the first time. By week's end, hopefully.

Then we'll have a publication party at your house.