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
What if Buddy Dooley and an unnamed co-conspirator, the first-person narrator, simply took Portland over?
Or tried to.
They're community organizers and they're fed up. They go place-to-place in the city to work up the crowd--to foment revolution.
This would be like a sweeping historical epic in their minds; in reality they would drink too much Merlot and craft beer while meeting an assortment of resistors, lunatics and other archetypes. They would advance, parry, retreat and reengage. Each new day would vaunt hope. Each evening despair.
They would bungle the job, of course, but learn a hard lesson. Mankind is disinterested--except regards each individual's search for salvation, or quest for wealth, or hunt for martyrdom.
Except in the cases of the do-gooders, who would join the revolt without question.
The reader would not know until the final curtain whether this is a dystopic or utopian vision--and maybe even then the tale's moral meaning would be elusive enough to confuse everybody.
I promised myself last week that I would put Vonnegut down for a stretch, but I have failed.
This is the fault of Portland's Central Public Library near my pad. All of Vonnegut has been reissued in recent years through the late-great author's family foundation and Dial Press, a subsidiary of Random House, and now the library is teeming with available Vonnegut.
As KV would have said, "Hi ho."
In the old days you couldn't check any Vonnegut out without placing long-list holds on the scant copies our beautiful old library held at the time.
God Bless You, Dial Press and the Vonnegut Family.
So I'm reading another that I didn't get to back in 1979--Jailbird.
This is KV's "Watergate novel," the story of a low-level Nixon appointee, a "Harvard man" assigned to keep a wary eye on America's youth during the Nixon reign. He is rounded up with Nixon's other functionaries and does time--affording him the hours to reflect on how his dreams, and thus his life, came to ruination.
More of KV at his best, I must opine.
Here is an interview with Vonnegut from New York Public Radio, 1979. It cuts off at 21:11, but is a good source nonetheless.
I searched for Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States more or less at random today because I didn't see the Showtime series (I don't have broadcast or cable TV) when it came out months ago, and I was curious about its current status.
Here's the entire series. I would like to think this allowance resulted from a gentlemen's agreement between Stone and Showtime, an allowance designed to take advantage of an educational opportunity.
I could be wrong about that, but when I think about the intellectual property wars that regularly light up the Internet I must assume that Stone is uninterested in wringing out every ounce of profitability from his creation.
In other words, the message counts for something more than show biz here.
If this series is not being used in U.S. high-school classrooms throughout the country today, another grave injustice is being wrought by those more concerned with keeping alive the flames of American mythology than the intellectual lives of our children.
This project captures U.S. historicity and nuance better than anything I've seen in the documentary genre. (Don't bother to question my authority on this. I am a historian, political scientist, writer, publisher, and all around great guy.)
While it has its flaws and gloss (things history students should talk about), I think this is the most important piece of work Oliver Stone has ever produced. The naysayers have called it a hatchet job on the U.S., scorning Stone as a rich Hollywood interloper, a fabulist, a sick and hypocritical socialist, or worse.
Communist sympathizers, Stalin's revisionist dupes, Henry Wallace bootlickers? Is any of this in some manner more relevant or abhorrent than being William Kristol's errand boy?
Old Joe McCarthy would be proud of this piece, too.
The mythologists of U.S Exceptionalism, or dissenting historians? Can we have some history here without the tone-deaf ideologues of American virtue bleating their same-old songs?
I know whose version of history I'm going to believe.
BTW, you and I know GW Bush was too stupid and cowardly to fly an airplane in combat. That aircraft carrier-landing-w/codpiece-covering-limp-dick-photo-op when he announced the "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq was more Hollywood than anything Stone ever dreamed up.
My goodness, I had lunch today with friends at Pho Jasmine in North Portland, and the anarchy that was spilled around that table was a thing to behold!
A thing of beauty.
Photographer Lee Santa is in town, visiting from his home in Sagle, Idaho to attend the Portland Jazz Festival this weekend. He brought another of his Portland friends, Michael, to our meeting. Michael is working on a very clever children's book of photos and poetry that I'm interested in.
I hadn't seen Lee in person in decades, but people don't change that much. We fluently picked up with our old, easy, humorous banter.
Lee gave me a copy of Transparency Records' three-disc set of the Sun Ra Arkestra recorded at the legendary Red Garter in NYC, in 1970. Many of Lee's photos of Sun Ra from that three-night session are included in the TR set, and are featured in his recently-published memoir, A Journey into Jazz.
He bought me lunch, after mentioning that I was somewhat grayer than the last time we visited. What a guy!
After a good run in last year's March Madness, where Oregon made it to the Sweet Sixteen and played eventual champ Louisville close, the Ducks have taken a step back this season.
This team misses Arsalan Kazemi, the Iranian Nuke, who was a force on defense and rebounding last year.
The Ducks are 17-8 after beating Washington Wednesday night, and once again looked skittish in doing it. Every game is a must-win game now, as Oregon blew game after game earlier in the season.
A low point was leading then No. 2 Arizona late a couple of weeks ago and letting the Wildcats off the hook by missing open jumpers and playing sloppily down the stretch. It was another in a series of close games that Oregon could have won but for its ball insecurity when it counted.
A guard-oriented team that must rely on its outside shooting to compete, Oregon lacks consistency. Its big-men are usually non-factors.
Hard to win without the big guys. Oregon had two of them lined up for the season, but neither qualified academically.
We'll see, but I don't expect much to happen in the rush to March. One small advantage may be that Oregon has four of its last six at home.
However, it lost several it should have won at home this season, usually late with ball-handling mistakes and cold shooting, so I'm not sure home court is an advantage for this undersized team.
Perhaps we should say, "for now." He is still a young man with an enormous following.
Perhaps he'll rise from the ashes like Nixon.
In the end, by 2012, he was calling for moderation and peace after the Americans left. Before that, for a decade, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. One thing is for certain, he helped turn the U.S. out of Iraq, finally.
Upon seeing the abuses dished out by the U.S. and proxy Paul Bremer's ill-advised and then bungled takeover of Iraq, he quickly turned against the occupation of his country. Initially supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, who had after all killed his father, al-Sadr was introduced to realpolitik and America's ulterior motives--not to mention its deadly naivete and hubris.
The Marines tried to kill him because his Mahdi Army was killing Marines. Had the Marines not been in-country, following the commands of fools, that wouldn't have happened.
He made an uneasy truce with Nouri al-Maliki, but they can't stand each other.
Perhaps with the hope of peace in mind, he has disbanded the Sadrist Movement--again, "for now."
In fact, both of these journalists put the apologists and deniers for the U.S. invasion of Iraq to shame. The corporate media, of course, had no idea who al-Sadr was initially--other than a "firebrand cleric."
A decidedly biased and easy branding, most of them stuck with it to the bitter end.
According to film lore, Werner Herzog stole the 35mm camera used to film this from his old film school.
Convinced of his own genius, he viewed the theft as somewhat his divine right. If he did not steal it, a great movie could not be made.
This was Herzog's third movie, and the first of five collaborations with Klaus Kinski. Conceived in 1968, filmed in 1972, it was not released in the U.S. until 1977, which is when I first saw it at Portland's Cinema 21.
Herzog wrote the script in a couple of days, including during time on a long bus ride with his German futbol team. Location filming was spread over five weeks in the Andes and on Amazon tributaries.
The characterizations are in part based on historical figures from what little is known of the earliest Spanish explorations of the Amazon, but the story is purely Herzog's.
The real Aquirre did in fact survive beyond his actual reign of terror and was executed by authorities.
Gaspar de Carvajal's written account of a Spanish expedition inspired the story, though the priest lived to the ripe old age of 84.
This is without a doubt one of the best movies ever made.
The old Blogger design tools don't have a "red" option for the header characters. I really wanted to use red in the new workup of this blog's header--but alas it is impossible.
When I made my new website, Round Bend Press Books, the color red was an option. Given my predilection for a black template with strongly contrasting color--red being the most obvious choice--I was pleased we had finally arrived as a truly mobile design team--Google and I, like a glove and fist.
So the green on the header here is purely Blogger's dominion, the best I could achieve in contrast, an old remnant of tech. If I could turn it to red to match the new website, I would in an instant.
Of all the things I'm interested in doing with my art, this comes the hardest. In a lot of ways, it just boils down to making decisions--how long to stay with an image, inter-cutting scenes, where to use ambient sound, etc.
One thing is for certain. I haven't had enough practice at it. I'm a mudder, unsure whether I want to run against the rail or go wide. It's like chess in that regard. There are too many possible moves for the beginner. And, as with chess, some moves are better than others as the game progresses.
All of this after you think you may have written a decent script, which I still haven't done for a certain video project.
And, of course, the images themselves are not as good as you'd like them to be.
There's truly an art to this. I admire anyone who does it well.
What I have come up with so far is--you guessed it--detritus.
Well that is, after all, why we've gone with the new name.
I got to thinking. This is obviously a blog, so why am I calling it Round Bend Press Blog?
I've determined a more appropriate name is in order.
So here it is: Round Bend Press Detritus. From now on, do not refer to this as a blog. It is, finally and certainly, detritus.
What I like most in this name, beyond its descriptive power, is the rough rhyme in press/detritus, with the o-u metronomic in "round" heightened, which is just the poet in me being very, very clever. No big deal. I'm used to it, as painful as it often is.
Oh, and that it better separates what I do from what the esteemed authors who publish under RBP's banner do, which if you went here and purchased their stuff you would know--not to wreck your malaise.
And finally, through a purely aesthetic accident, you can now read the name on the masthead without squinting or wondering what the hell it says.
I've been on a Vonnegut kick of late. I read a bio of the author, who died in 2007, and I've gone back and reread, or read for the first time, many of his books.
Slaughterhouse-Five is generally considered his best work, but I tend to disagree. I know it was the massive bestseller from 1969 and sealed both his commercial and critical success, but it's not my favorite at all.
One of the first books by KV that I read years ago was Mother Night. I'd forgotten until picking it up recently how damn good that book is. He wrote it in 1961.
Most of KV has its occasional charms, but the entire canon isn't dazzling in the least. I didn't enjoy my first runs at Slapstick or Timequake here recently; in fact I ended up browsing through both of them.
I liked Deadeye-Dick, one I'd ignored for too long. I didn't reread Bluebeard in this go-around, but I have fond memories of that one as well.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater was a hoot when I first read it and remains so.
There are a few out there that I have yet to get to, but I need a break for now.
But damn, Mother Night...it's the real deal. I'm not alone in this opinion either. Check out the community reviews at the link below.
In his Introduction to the reissue of this book in 1966, KV wrote: "This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don't think it's a marvelous moral; I simply happen to know what it is. We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
Remember the story? If you've forgotten or have never tried it, do it.
In 1996 the book was turned into a fine movie with Nick Nolte.
Sometimes I can't believe I've finished a single project--and I haven't finished many--given my undisciplined nature.
Within the past six months I've started two novels, a screenplay, and a book of poetry. Yet I cannot seem to concentrate on any of them long enough to complete drafts that might be preludes to the actual work of rewriting and polishing the manuscripts.
Fuck selling them. I'd just like to get the damn work done, to make something real.
When I do look at these latest efforts I feel like I'm walking through a vast swamp of quicksand--and sinking. Some factors that contribute to this: my aforementioned lack of discipline, the depression which feeds my undisciplined work ethic, my anger, and not knowing what it is I'm doing--or why.
That's pretty rough terrain--a definition of writer's block? Insanity?
I was never cut out for this business, I think. I should have developed something else when I was younger.
I always dreamed of becoming a writer, didn't really think of much else; unfortunately I've never been capable of managing that dream or turning it into a satisfying reality--except on rare occasions.
The idea of being a writer rather than ideas themselves drove me--which is ass-backwards, a product of silly, modern romanticism.
Hell is being my age and knowing you blew it. It's also knowing that if I quit today I'd be dead within a year. I'm not saying that won't happen anyway--just that it would be a certainty after the fact of quitting.
My best writing is comedic. So where is my sense of humor lately?
Wait a sec here. I don't know if my best writing is comedic at all. I don't know anything.
Thomas: "Shot this with a circa 1936 to 1941 Rolleiflex TLR camera. Same camera that Vivian Maier shot with. Uses medium format film. Taken at Billings farm...Ashland. 1958 Ford farm truck." See more by RP Thomas. TS
I read a Kurt Vonnegut bio not long ago. KV's older brother, Bernard, didn't understand why Kurt bothered to write books. The brother was an accomplished scientist, which is what KV wanted to be as a youngster before figuring out he didn't have the chops.
The older brother was amazed in the end that Kurt made as much money at it as he did--literally millions. That didn't make him like the books or see any value in them--just caused him to be amused.
What most Americans seem to lack is a sense of balance.
Money trumps everything. If you're indifferent to making a ton of cash and willing to settle for survival and the world of the arts, you are relegated to a form of second-class citizenship.
The indifference of others to your art can be soul-wrecking if you let it be.
Any artist worth his beans attacks the status quo in return, for that is the artist's only path to salvation. To fight back, to embarrass those who would denigrate or destroy him, is the only reasonable thing to do.
This New Orleans writer explains why Treme, which closed out its 3.5-year run in December, was such great television.
I agree with his assessment that the series didn't reach the dizzying heights of The Wire because of its lack of overall character development, but that is small potatoes when considering its analysis of Katrina's impact on the lives of New Orleanians.
It's telling that the first season became must-see television for the citizens of New Orleans, but that the sheen soon faded away as the series became a constant reminder of the storm's devastation and nearly insurmountable personal costs.
New Orleanians who lived through it don't need to be reminded; the rest of us should go back to this work of art many times to absorb its messages.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org