Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Monday, May 30, 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Christ, HC's supporters are a bunch of entitled, arrogant idiots.
It's supposed to be automatic that Sanders' supporters go blindly, obediently into HC's corner? That's what the halfwits expect? I think Sanders was foolish to ever say he'd support Hillary in the end game. His strategy of trying to push the party and Clinton leftward was silly to begin with.
It was never going to happen. It's a mindless, manufactured-centrist state after all. Few budge from their plans, including the over 500 delegates who pledged to Clinton before Sanders even entered the race.
I had my candidate, too. He lost. Not the first time. This also won't be the first time I ignore my candidate's opponent. That's politics, kids, as much as are the DNC's compromises and party rhetoric. The little show of a faux Utopia that the Clintons and the Obamas and the rest of the centrist-neoliberal political class has set up for itself is quite the thing, just not mine.
Party unity my ass.
Hey, isn't this supposed to be a democracy? I was a Sanders supporter. Now that he hasn't a chance to win the last thing on my mind is to switch to HC. Are you joking me? That ain't gonna happen. I'll vote for Stein or write someone in. Or I won't vote.
That wouldn't be a first either.
The last thing I'm going to do is tell Sanders to shut up on behalf of the Queen, the DNC, and the aristocracy. I'm sure there are more like me, but it makes no difference if there are or are not.
What stake do I have in a Clinton presidency? None, because I'm looking ahead and seeing areas where the U.S. could use some sensible work, and Clinton is not capable of nor predisposed to provide that.
In terms of their command of the issues I'd like to hear politicians talk about, there is absolutely no difference between Clinton and Trump. Oligarchy and all that...They don't say anything!
While Trump bloviates, Clinton coos. I'm not interested in either one of the frauds.
Sanders was the only person talking about economic inequality and other concerns of the working poor before he lost, and he didn't do a very good job of it at that. So it's over.
Stay in the thing, Bernie, for the hell of it. The idiots disrespect too much, take too much for granted, expect too much, and act out too much, like the spoiled rich kids they are.
Are the Clintonites fucking nuts, or just plain stupid?
Saturday, May 28, 2016
I got a little writing in today on a couple of bogged-down projects; actually rewriting, a full day, and I'm thinking I may have made some progress.
Or so I'm telling myself. I'm tired, so I'll go over what I've done tomorrow.
Nothing on the horizon for CP. Maybe something will strike me in the coming week.
Friday, May 27, 2016
I ran through all five seasons of Breaking Bad, finally, and then watched the first season of its prequel, Better Call Saul. I liked the latter better, but they're both good. BCS won't be on Netflix this season. Sony Entertainment owns that baby now, and they don't share with no stinking Netflix.
Then I picked up on the final seven episodes of Mad Men, from that show's final split season, which I hadn't seen. At seven seasons in length, the series finally lost much of its luster for me, but like every other nitwit in the teeming TV-watching populous I had to see how it all ended. Had to know. I'd heard some things, obviously, but enough remained fresh to entertain me.
Finally, I watched a couple of documentaries and then dug into the first and only season (as of yet) of Narcos, which is, like the preposterous House of Cards, a Netflix original. A loose reconstruction of the life of Pablo Escobar, I liked it a lot.
Confession here: I watched a few more episodes of HoC, and if I may be allowed to demonstrate that I am but a shallow pig for a moment (and what TV watcher is not), I find Robin Wright quite pleasant to watch. Kevin Spacey is a great actor as well, but as I say the entire program is hokey. Wright and Spacey carry the show beyond its means.
Today, my discovery from last year--actually over a year ago--Bloodline, yet another original, begins its second season. But alas this is the final day of my trial. Netflix, which knows exactly what I am doing from moment to moment, won't allow me to sneak that one in today.
The jokers want me to pay for another month. How did they know I would go for such an obvious ruse?
I'll start on payday next week.
In this must-read, Mr. Urie explores the paradoxes underlying the manufactured centrist views of self-determinism, the essential lube of Clinton's supporters, never mind the grease of the GOP's schemata.
It is always nice to see Pilger's work appear at CP. Few writers tell the tale of oppression as well, with such succinct clarity and pointed notice of fact over opinion.
Some lament his reckless "ideology," which appears to be a word on the rise among happy-go-lucky Americans who can't distinguish between policy and a hayride.
As a descriptive word, "ideologue" now shines with the same modern abstraction as "liberal" and "conservative." What do these words even mean anymore?
Have any three other words in the U.S. political lexicon lost their value so completely and thoroughly over time? The further one probes into any issue not sanctioned by U.S. politicians and their huckster Post and Times media appendages, the less meaning these imprisoned words have, until they too are thrown down as dry cliches that cannot be made to breathe.
Have any other words, now formally skewed and embraced by economic elites, ever been so abused and misused by our body politic?
In the community where I live, a glance at the local newspaper's metro and national pages can cause the reader a headache. An utter neofascism (a truer word for where we are) is creeping into the daily comments there, and its abundance now is nearly overwhelming.
If all politics is local, where does that leave the rest of the nation? Here, there and everywhere, you might say, a result of what used to be called the dumbing down process, but which is now the ordinary output of mindlessness. The anti--intellectuals have won.
In a kind of quicksand of logical fallacies, the nation's political business--and that is what it is, business, not democracy--plays out like a bad TV loop that can't be erased.
Pilger places the genesis of the U.S. counterrevolution with the 1968 assassinations of King and Kennedy, and that year's chaotic Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
It goes farther back of course, with the killing of JFK, but in reality it started before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution.
It's been there all along in other words, a part of history too many choose to ignore.
Have an appropriate Memorial Day, all.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
These are pictures of Northwest Portland, where I lived for many years. The music is Curtis Mayfield's "Here But I'm Gone."
There is a large Volvo sign atop the Jim Fisher dealership on W. Burnside. When I moved to Portland to stay in 1977 I began to think about the sign in poetic terms. I think I was in love with it. I decided I would write a long poem about living in Northwest Portland and call it "Volvo," and that would explain everything about what I was feeling and longing for as a young man.
Imagine such a thing if you can. I passed through my youth and middle age, and now I am too old to write that poem.
Now I would have to write a different kind of poem if I called it "Volvo," but I don't know if I'll ever manage to. I think every writer has a project he/she is incapable of finishing, and it is the one thing other than their small successes that they will take to their graves.
Isn't that what literally happened to Katherine?
There are a lot of things, literary and otherwise, I've thought about doing but never came close to. When I came to Portland I thought I'd be a successful writer, and "Volvo" was going to be my masterpiece.
Today I was thinking about that sign and my life in Northwest Portland and I remembered I'd shot some video of the cursed thing and some other stuff from the old neighborhood a while back.
All of these pictures have a certain significance for me, like the Volvo sign itself. I don't have the energy tonight to explain, and probably shouldn't try to in any case.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
A new NCAA rule lets college players explore professional options; as long as they don't sign with an agent the college stars can return to school. The players are free to discuss the future with NBA, as well as European leagues' brass and assess their real chances of success.
Two of Oregon's best players from its Elite Eight team of last season have decided to stay in school and not pursue their NBA dreams at this time.
Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, who didn't play well against Oklahoma and Buddy Hield in March Madness, demonstrating that they thus far aren't professional-ready, made the rounds with the pro teams and learned the opinions weren't favorable--yet.
With today's deadline to enter the draft or return to school, both Ducks did the sensible thing and announced they'll return.
Since they still only play the games with one ball, you'll likely see a couple of transfers now as some very good players won't have the minutes they'll need to remain happy in Eugene, particularly if Oregon's 2016 recruits are as good as advertised.
Oregon is a projected Top-5 team by NBC.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I was half-listening to Rick Steves on OPB before I realized I was hearing a series of bourgeois tips about traveling, a program geared for moneyed, pink-shirted, short-pantsed, khaki-wearing, knuckleheaded travelers.
I won't (can't) travel like that. Give me a rucksack and a passport and I'll make a better scene.
The pious were in church Sunday morning while the rest of Talent slept. In the Church of God, a cleric gave warning: “Brothers and sisters, our deep suffering would be less and our goodwill more blessed if on the way out you left a ten dollar bill.” Amen, the righteous rang out and dug deep into their pockets.
The wag Ted, recently trying to dry out, said, “Rex, ya think Tex is out of bed yet? About God I have my doubt. A double about now and a few while tithing may improve the faith I am lacking.” Rex, bereft of humor but full of good sense, said, “But how?” Ah man, the wag sang out distressed, and dug deep into empty pockets.
from Nightscape in Empire and The Talent Poems.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
FAMILY VALUES: A dying patriarch struggles to accept his gay son and a changing world.
THE OLD BEATNIK: A wealthy young woman meets the grandmother she thought was dead, and the old woman, an unreformed Beat poet, changes the woman forever.
FAMILY CLIMATE: A teenager leads a youth movement to engage Native Americans in addressing climate change and is faced with the realities of Realpolitik and family values.
Get it at the CreateSpace Store now! It'll be available at Amazon by next week.
Check out Round Bend Press Books for more on this book.
EDIT: Here is the Amazon link.
Friday, May 20, 2016
CD is disgusted with Bernie Sanders, but I'm not certain how or why that is relevant to my columns at CounterPunch.
BS hasn't been a visionary enough soldier to awaken the somnambulists, but isn't that what most leftists imagined to begin with?
While he was the wrong "socialist," I don't see the point in bashing Bernie.
I don't care if Bernie stays in the race and stumbles around like a drunkard in a dive bar, and I certainly don't care if he is causing Hillary Clinton, her team, or the WaPo problems.
I'm just not all that political, I guess. I'm more interested in cultural criticism, as you'll note when reading me stuff at CP. Politics is one of those thing that, like playing on the line in football, seems difficult to really understand unless you're in the game.
I was in the game for a couple of years as an organizer. Not terribly exciting. The lust for power is more or less absurd. Politics is absurd.
I guess my slant is that while I follow some of it, I don't find it to be interesting as a parlor game or as something to talk about, unless it's in the hands of a good comic like Colbert. I admire Marx, and a few others. But that has no bearing on anything.
Just as CD does not much admire Bernie's mostly white and young kids, whom he's convinced are a moment away from selling out--and of course he's right about that--I'm not particularly enamored with Clinton and her pre-sold crowd.
I think any reader here must already know that I have CD beat as we wallow in the curmudgeonly depths. I don't think either one of us cares very much about politics. But I'm probably farther along. It's sort of a worn out deal.
I don't even like the military, which is to be blasphemous/treasonous in this country. I find the Army-Navy game to be intolerable football and a toxic environment.
But yikes, is anyone other than Bernie actually talking about poverty and race relations in this election? Maybe he'll mention those things again once or twice before he passes the trophy to HC.
Not that it'll make any difference. I'll just tip my cap to him if he does.
The last time they were given serious attention was in the Johnson years with the Great Society, and it got short changed and run out of the room by racists and warmongers, including Johnson himself.
Where have I gone wrong again?
In days past the MSM at least pretended to be impartial and "balanced."
These days they have about the same neutrality as Pravda had in the Soviet Union.
Long live the Fourth Estate! Oops, it has been dead for a long time now.
Man, it has been a particular ache of the Washington Post, which produces story after story chastising Sanders for not walking away.
In this one they want Hillary to sing it louder, babe, while calling Bernie a bad, bad boy.
Is this the way the Post's editors get off, being spanked by harlots of a violent nature? Please bring the whip, Hillary. Use it on Bernie and then on me, please, please!
They act as if Sanders doesn't know that he doesn't have a realistic shot at the nomination. People have taken to calling him stupid and arrogant and bah, blah, blah.
What, is he some kind of different politician than all the others, who are stupid, arrogant and blah, blah, blah?
Jesus, this is politics not a coronation. Sanders is stringing it out because he can. He's doing it because his supporters want him to. What difference should it make for the Clintonites, including the Post? They're worried about Trump?
We all know what the point is in the Post's and the other big-media's thinking. We know a leftist movement is a dangerous thing from their POV.
Why in their minds is it bad for Bernie to hang around?
They don't want to acknowledge the reality that it is not so much about this election as it is mobilization, a future curveball in political consciousness that the MSM can't hit and abhors.
So it might be time to put the Post and the NYT down and read the sublime Weekend Edition of CounterPunch. It's big, it's yuge, it's beautiful.
I have a piece there as well, a workup of something I started here on Wed.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
As the fallout from last weekend’s Nevada Democratic convention spreads, sharply critical pieces about the White House hopeful and his campaign have appeared in progressive outlets such as Mother Jones, Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos within the past 48 hours.
The Sanders campaign has also taken hits from progressive CNN contributor Sally Kohn, who endorsed the Vermont senator from the stage at a massive rally in New York City just before the Empire State’s April primary.
Kohn wrote an article published Wednesday for Time magazine that was headlined, “I felt the Bern but the Bros are extinguishing the flames.”
The fact that the criticism is coming from left-leaning sources makes it more difficult for Sanders supporters to rebut it.--NS
The article gets something wrong; left-leaning liberals haven't ever really backed Sanders to the degree the author claims, because they simply never thought he was a real socialist (and they're right about that). All any of them said, among the most evocative left-leaning radicals, including Chomsky, is that even as a watered down socialistic thinker--that is an old-fashioned New Dealer--he was the best candidate in the race.
So I don't find it difficult at all to rebut the idea that we must support Clinton now. The author probably doesn't know what a "left-leaning" liberal looks like, much less sounds like.
To me it would be justice and gift to America if Sanders' supporters go all the way to the convention with him and then stay at home or turn to Trump in the GE.
All the Hillary-loving saps, as well as the entire racist, jingoistic, conforming mob could then have what they deserve--Trumpism. A number of polls indicate Trump can beat Clinton. He'd wipe her out if the Sandernistas stayed home.
If liberals are anything, it is two-faced. Since when is a little rudeness in Nevada a worse thing than Hillary's imperialism? Liberals are fine with bombs falling on innocents. It is the damn unrefined Bernie supporters that are problematic.
Jesus, how stupid...
There is no more time for compromise, as Hedges says, insisting on a complete revolution.
So I say stay home, I am. Let's advance the chaos to the point unto which a real revolution is debated--via an even more profound rejection of the status quo.
I read something today that said Hillary has already pulled the terror card, claiming terrorist acts like yesterday's Egyptair tragedy wouldn't happen under her watch. She knows how to deal with it.
Right. Fear mongering at its best, wrapped and tied with a nice bow for all the suckers.
Say now, isn't that a better deal than Trump's wall? We can't lose. I feel safer already!
So goes the thinking of the pro-Hillary mob.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
1lb red kidney beans (juice extract)
1 large carrot (diced)
1 large sprig celery (diced)
1 small onion (diced)
Paprika (to taste)
Cayenne (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Canola oil (for sauteing)
Weber's Roasted Garlic & Herb seasoning (to taste)
(Note: All ingredients are estimated; I don't use measuring tools.)
Cooking the beans:
Fast-cook the beans to an initial boil in order to break them down and preserve the resultant bean "juice." Reduce temp to simmer. Cook the beans to desired tenderness. (Hint, the longer you cook them the tastier will be your juice.) Add water to the beans as needed to keep the level of liquid hovering an inch or two above the surface of the beans.
When the beans are done drain the juice into a bowl and set aside. Freeze or refrigerate the remaining beans and juice for later use.
Making the sauce:
Saute the diced veggies to tender in the canola oil and set aside. In a separate saute pan melt the butter and add the flour, stir to create a smooth roux. Set aside. (If you keep roux refrigerated and at the ready, this is obviously an unnecessary step.)
Return your veggies to the stove top and pour 4 cups of bean juice over the veggies; add your salt, paprika, cayenne and Weber's Garlic and Herb seasoning. Simmer for 15--30 min.
When you are ready to finish the sauce, blend your roux into the juice and veggies over high heat and wisk to your preferred thickness. Taste the sauce and and adjust it accordingly for flavor.
Serve this sauce as a basic, savory soup sans the beans (thinned), or use it to enliven white fish (a little weird, but not if you do it right), rice, sausages, chicken, pork, hashbrowns, etc. Use it as a dip for tortillas or nachos, etc.
Note: This is an extract sauce that relies on the juicy flavor of beans without a heavy bean dip texture. I'd make the dip with slightly different variations here, as would you.
Does any intelligent person look at a New York Times article about Russia or Vladimir Putin these days and expect to read an objective, balanced account? Or will it be laced with a predictable blend of contempt and ridicule? And is it any different at The Washington Post, NPR, MSNBC, CNN or almost any mainstream U.S. news outlet?
And it’s not just Russia. The same trend holds true for Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other countries and movements that have fallen onto the U.S. government’s “enemies list.” We saw the same pattern with Saddam Hussein and Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion; with Muammar Gaddafi and Libya before the U.S.-orchestrated bombing campaign in 2011; and with President Viktor Yanukovych and Ukraine before the U.S.-backed coup in 2014.--
No Country for Old Free Thinkers.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Things are different with Hillary. She’s a tried and true operative on behalf of both the nation’s capitalist and imperialist ruling class who sits atop the United States’ only remaining fully effective national and major party – the Democrats. She’s a deeply conservative right-winger on both the domestic and the foreign policy fronts, consistent with the rightward drift of the Democratic Party (and the entire U.S. party system) – a drift that she and her husband helped trail-blaze back in the 1970s and 1980s.--PS
Article of the day on Hillary's treachery, arrogance, and, well, fraudulence--by the brilliant Paul Street at CP.
I love the way Clintonites attack Bernie's campaign and youthful supporters while repeatedly letting her off the hook for her out-and-out murderous record and theft in the name of a corporatism we have not seen the likes of since the infamous "Robber Barons."
It's a sad commentary on where we are--and a "fuck you" in the face of reality.
People will never learn. Young people are pissed off for a lot of reasons, and it's not just because they're all misguided "ideologues" or stupid.
Personally, I'm glad to see the fire, as naive or ignorant as you may think it is; it beats the hell out of the banking cartel.
Do you really want to measure and compare the damage done?
The kids are the problem, are they? Really? What the fuck were you doing supporting the Iraq War? I heard you loud and clear back then: "Well, I guess it's just something that has to be done."
Some political fucking minds you have you weak-kneed bastards. Spineless turds.
More is at stake than our lucrative future Clinton wars, just like the Obama wars, and the continued theft of the nation's wealth. Think about the young themselves, their future, even if you are nearly dead and won't have to deal with climate change or mobs of hungry Americans lost in the wilderness, homeless and sleeping on the street.
It's around the corner, like a bout of madness.
Nobody knows what the future holds, but by the same token smart people know we cannot ignore the crimes of Hillary's new robber barons forever--not even in our poetic imaginations, or wherever in hell it is that people find their smug bliss--at the expense of the burgeoning underclasses.
People don't pay attention to history. They protect what shabby material they have, and more importantly, their own self-aggrandizement.
Speaking of a sad reality. One important question to ask is: if you don't like Clinton, who do you vote for in this election?
I don't know, said Socrates.
For that matter, I am usually disoriented to the nth; you know why, this life is a beach.
Got the cough now, watery eyes, sniffles, congestion the whole turkey.
Screw it all. Can't even type now. Little mistakes are piling up. Flunking secretarial school flat out. Too forgetful for my own good.
I wonder what a mini-stroke feels like...
Monday, May 16, 2016
("The Republican," by Buddy Dooley)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama handed the Republican Party a gift for the general election by making a series of offensive pro-knowledge remarks at Rutgers University over the weekend, a leading Republican official said on Monday.--AB
Borowitz strikes again.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama handed the Republican Party a gift for the general election by making a series of offensive pro-knowledge remarks at Rutgers University over the weekend, a leading Republican official said on Monday.--AB
Borowitz strikes again.
The cover of Charles Deemer's latest and perhaps last book. (He's retiring to travel, but I have news for him. When one travels, the urge to write about it is profound and difficult to resist. Ha!)
I would suggest he write a literary travel book, but he might slug me!
Should be online at Round Bend Press Books via Amazon by
When that happens a Kindle version will also be made available.
NOTE: We have pushed the publication date for CD's book back closer to June 1 due to some unforeseen tech/ printing glitches that may or may not be happening at CreateSpace/Amazon.
Be patient all you hungry lit fans. You'll be fed.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
CD is happy with his proof copy of his new RBP book, which he says will be his swan song as he gets really serious, very serious, about retirement.
The writer and ex-educator is getting old, he readily admits. But how old is too old?
We'll see about the final threat, but look for the official announcement about the publication of his latest here next week as it comes online at our Round Bend Press Books website.
If it is indeed the last of Deemer for publication with RPBB, I want to say in advance it has been a pleasure to occasionally represent this talent, who sometimes overstates the frequent writer's lament that he is unloved by too many.
That is far from the truth.
I've been fortunate to have the writer throw a few bones of serious work in the direction of this publishing endeavor. For that I am pleased, and I'll do all I'm capable of to represent it in the future.
I'm proud of what we've accomplished in carving out a not-insignificant platform for some of CD's work over the past six years. I can say the same regarding a few others, but this is not their time.
To the writer I say, thanks. To you I say, buy the fucking book when it appears in June.
Commencing right now and for as long as I deem reasonable, with scattered intent and attentiveness, and for as long as I can find the material, I'll be posting anti-war videos here that support my belief that the U.S. is today's number one global threat, and thus the progenitor of our mutual problems.
You are witnessing nothing less than the fall of empire, which makes you a special guest at RBPD. If you are aware of a video that speaks to this dilemma and you'd like to share it, please send it my way in an emailed link and I'll post it in this series.
“We will get more quagmires abroad, more blowback, more slaughter around the world and more training of fighters against us who will be more skilled to bring their fight here,” he said of a Clinton presidency. “Budgets will be more screwed against civilian necessities. There will be more Wall Street speculation. She will be a handmaiden of the corporatists and the military industrial complex. There comes a time, in any society, where the rubber band snaps, where society can’t take it anymore.”--CH
My addendum: If Romney and the boys plotting against Trump manage to wrangle the GOP convention from The Donald we'll enter stage one of a bloody revolution from the right, one intent on an unconscious neofascism.
If the Dems don't fix their credibility problems, we'll have stage two, and who knows what that would look like?
After that all bets are off.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Katherine Dunn's death has been bothering me all day since I read the news. Portland lost a great artist (Geek Love) with her passing, and I am unusually saddened, more so than I would have imagined.
I didn't know the woman well, but I had a number of encounters with her over the years. I have a couple of quick anecdotes about her to share before presenting this interview Happy Home (David Sevedge) conducted with her back in 1978 for the lit pages of the community newspaper I worked on at the time.
First, her kindness and compassion for people, particularly other struggling artists, is now the stuff of legend. I had a taste of that many years ago, several times in fact. She once introduced me to another well-known author with this unforgettable tag line: "this is Terry Simons, a writer, and a fine one."
I have no idea how true those words were back then, but they have stayed with me for all of these years.
I was serving her and her companion beer at the time in the Goose Hollow Inn! I was a borderline schlep, slogging through a bartending job, but I was also a young man trying to write and publish. She acknowledged that because she was a kind person and took a genuine interest in others' creative endeavors.
I first met KD at the poetry readings that were "happenings" at the Long Goodbye, a tavern/club in what is now known as Portland's Pearl District, in the late seventies. A few years earlier, she'd published two novels (Attic and Truck), enough to qualify for stardom in my then worldview. Being a star in my mind, she intimidated me. But that was my problem, not hers.
When KD read her work at the Long Goodbye, what I remember was her voice, the sound of honey poured through something refined. It was deep and flat out sexy. She knew it and cultivated it and it was never wrong.
Some years later, I invited her to audition for a voice-over on a video project I was producing for Good Samaritan Hospital. I wanted her on the project, but was overruled by my boss, who went with another woman, a friend of his with a high, girlish, squeaky Valley Girl tenor. I was pissed, and I never told KD how much I liked her work, how I fought for her to win that, at the time, much needed contract. I regret that.
When my daughter was born in 1983, KD soon met her in our standby coffee shop that was then all the rage in Northwest Portland. She said, "Oh, my. She'll be a real heartbreaker."
What a thing to tell a new father! KD had a way with words, indeed.
My daughter's mother, Linda, and I went over to KD's house to watch the first Sugar Ray Leonard v. Tommy Hearns fight in 1981. She lived a half-block away from us. We got the invite to the watch party because my friend Peter Fritsch, another Goose Hollow patron, had only recently married KD. Fritsch was into the fight game, like KD, and a literary man (he introduced me to A Fan's Notes, by Frederick Exley, a novel that still resonates with me). For a time they seemed like the perfect pair.
The marriage didn't last, but I am not concerned with that. (Peter was doing fine the last time I saw him, riding his motorbikes with a new woman.)
In the cloistered neighborhood of Nob Hill in Northwest Portland, for many years, with a nod, a smile, a quick hello in passing, the casual recognition from KD was common for all of us in the hood with literary and artistic dreams.
She finally made deep friendships with elites in the publishing world. Good for her. But she always had time for the rest of us as well.
She was an unforgettable woman, not just for her writing, but for her humble caring.
Portrait of the Genius at 33
H. Home Interviews Katherine Dunn
HH: When did you start writing, Katherine? Deep question.
KD: I began when I was about seven, starting out with the Chickencoop Theatre: then, the venue being usurped by a flock of Leghorns, I retired to an ancient pigpen out behind the barn, and there I produced a weekly newspaper with cartoons, editorials, human interest stories and a regular column devoted to the natural sciences. By the time I was ten, I was sitting in trees dressed all in green pretending to be Robin Hood cum Tarzan. By then, I was fantasizing my first conversations with editors. They adored me, kissed my ever so discreet knees.
HH: What do you think of Mallarme’s dictum “Poems are not made up of ideas, they are made of words?”
KD: On one level, I definitely agree. I don’t think there is such a thing as an idea without words, because your language is your thought.
HH: An idea’s not merely a concept, it’s a concept that has been elaborated, spun out in the manner of a spider; it’s been rarefied from its origin.
KD: And it’s been communicated from one cell of your brain to another.
HH: Right, if they’re not communicable, they’re not ideas, only vague notions, mere spectra.
KD: That’s why if you can’t write something, you don’t know it. And most people today can’t write a goddamn thing. Not a greeting card, unassisted. It’s a tragedy, an outright altogether terrifying tragedy.
HH: Do you think “Life imitates Art,” as Wilde averred?
KD: I wouldn’t know, H, I’m not a politician. My own theory about the phlegmatic qualities and properties of the English is the mountain of pure white sugar hydrocarbons they consume every day bloody day of the year—the stiff upper lip is petrified sugar, that’s Bermuda’s revenge, the with death, the rotting future square in the teeth of it. I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole purpose of various forms of art is that they are roadmaps, reliable guides to assist you to reach this particular point of high. I think it is the natural and innate function of certain organisms to secrete beauty in permanent forms we call artworks, to respond to beauty by answering its discovery with a new beauty.
HH: Any plugs you’d like to get in Katherine?
KD: Yes, I would like to plug the recently published volume of poems by my friend H. Home, “Pearls Snatched from Lethe,” on sale at $3.50. It is a very unusual form of poetry—unusual in this day and age—that is exquisitely fashioned and so incredibly disciplined and structurally profound, an incredible lyric dance of the mind, that we really owe it to ourselves to pay close attention to this genius strain of work, better than Coleridge’s, happening right here in our midst. Also, Jay Rothbell, a surrealist poet of genuine merit, and John Shirley, a writer of brilliant science fiction, both of whose work is becoming available in bookstores now. Also, everybody with an interest in contemporary literature ought to frequent the Tuesday night miracle at the Long Goodbye.
HH: Thank you, Katherine; you can pick up your check at the office any time after five. Has calligraphy had a bearing on the content of your work?
KD: I think it has to some degree, because I like the way the stuff looks on the page, and I like the feel of it. It’s a very musical feel. Writing that way feels like talking; it feels like the words sound, it’s almost onomatopoetic. And it’s really very satisfying to get a very lilting flow of ascenders and descenders, to get a nice rhythmic structure set up. It’s very Irish in its intonation.
HH: At what age do you expect to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Katherine?
KD: Probably right around 55. I figure I’ll need it about then…a little boost to my ego.
HH: Do you consider yourself a metaphysical author?
KD: Yes, actually, I do.
HH: Do you believe in reincarnation?
KD: No, I don’t. I’m open-minded about it for other people, but for myself, I’m convinced that this is my first time, and this is also my last time. An intimate core of my being recognizes that there is nothing in me that can go on, there is no spark, there is no infestation of vaporous miasma that has the capacity to continue, and there is nothing in me that wishes to continue. This moment is for me all that there is, and I’m willing to accept it. I’m a worm, I have no soul. For other people, I’m willing to acknowledge there might be possibilities. As for me, I stick with the mollusks. In a funny kind of way, I’ve always considered myself a rather profound mystic, but my mysticism simply has been the defiance of chaos, in a cheerful enough way, of course.
HH: Something I realize about my own work is if you don’t like the content, you won’t like the Arab; non-analogously, is the content the form in your work?
KD: The content absolutely dictates the form.
HH: You don’t hold with the romance of madness, do you? Do you think great things can be done out of hallucinations, delirium, saturnalias, opium dreams, the whole banshee shebang, the Dionysian architectonics and deified machinations of “artificial paradises?”
KD: I don’t actually know. It’s something I’ve been curious about lately. I’ve been studying the Surrealists for a while, and I’m identifying not with the productions, but with the assembly line, the sensibility that produced them. The idea that what is necessary is an explosion of what is normally perceived as a reality, so that you can, in looking through the cracks, discern that thing which lies out there haunting us with its whispering. You get these little glimpses by cracking through, evidently. I think that the basic disruption of reality to allow perception has to operate on a purely stone-sober level. And it seems to be that’s far more effective, and that’s what’s happening. I have never worked stoned, not at all. I have to stay absolutely straight. I drink coffee, and that’s the extent of it. Because you can put your head in the place where all that goes on anyway, and you’ve got a lot more control over it, so you can turn and examine what you need to, when you’re straight. I hold with the Apollonian outlook; it works longer because it’s not self destructive. If I don’t work on any given day, I really suffer this cottonmatherish affliction of puritanical guilt that this day has been lost, I’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve moved no further along that line of learning I have to go through, my novicehood is abruptly halted HERE. Today I am not a writer, because I have not written. As long as I’ve done that work that day, I can survive anything—the Rockies may fall, the Rock of Gibraltar may tumble over, but I can go on without suffering nervous diarrhea.
HH: Is this perilously close to one of the myriad subspecies of solipsism, Katherine?
KD: Not at all, it’s pure sheer responsibility of the worker to his tools and to his work itself. Something I realized a long time ago was that if I didn’t do my work, nobody else was going to come along and do it for me, or at all, for anybody, not now, not tomorrow, not ever.
HH: Do you believe people can be taught how to write?
KD: I’m afraid people have to teach themselves, and it takes a good hard long time to get any part or parcel of the hang of it, too—Rimbaud is the only child prodigy I can think of in literature. I mean, if you start to write when you’re fifty, it will not take much less time, and no less sweat, to get good at it, than it would have had begun the ascension of Parnassus at the age of ten, simply because language, the good old and everyday renewed stark naked mothertongue, is the most amazingly labyrinthine, the most devious craft-cunning of earthy and starry-cosmic plots and subplots of metaproto-hyper-mathematical superstructure any race of archangels could ever have thought up down and sideways/wise to provide them with enough sport play and pastime to while Eternity away, profitability of course. All the same, such solidarity-by-nature-and-vocation creatures as writers are and have to be, can use all the help they can get, from anybody who can give it or sell it to them. Plato wanted to be Aeschylus, and when he couldn’t master the tragedy in his hometown, he inflicted his blueprint for fascism on the world, gladly bequeathing any number of tragedies of political fashion to the subsequent non-Zen citizenries; still, the man must have had a hell of a sense of humor to have taken down the Dialogues. Deadpan or otherwise.
HH: Yeah, Socrates was as funny as Steve Martin. Sorry, Steve, no hard feeling, I hope. On the subject of funny things, you know I’ve never been able to fathom the craze for Henry James in American academe.
KD: Henry James is as stupid a jackass of pseudo hominid as ever stalked the face, hopefully averted, of the land. If Henry James was afflicted by, or in the simple possession of, an immortal soul, I wouldn’t have one if they offered me the store. Re: us mollusks—they thought we were spineless, but we’re pure guts.
HH: The Irish for you every time—though we are neither of us card carrying paid-in-full members of the Celtic Mystical Brotherhood and Motherly Order, you are perfectly and quintessentially Irish, Katherine, it is the magic of your language. For the next ten thousand years. Think of it, folks out there in TV land, that’s a lot of network seasons. I can’t thank you enough, Katherine. And a tip of the unpretentious Stetson to the Neighbor newspaper, the folks who make us possible. Oh, by the way, is there any tower you’d like to topple out there in the great heathenishness of modern Literature; have you been secretly lusting to even the score or one-up or thumbsdown any rival/competitor/contender: out there? Here’s your big chance, Kid, while still skirting the morass of libel, of course.
KD: Oh, no thanks, H. I don’t believe in hurting the living. For all its Spartanesque athleticism, the decathlonic rigors and exertions, Art is not a sport, nor has it any part in or of the nature of competition; there’s simply no combativeness to it. Artists waste their substance, their essence, and finally their lives fighting each other: it’s a dark ages arena of futility I don’t and won’t descend to.
HH: The blessed hath the blessed art; in a world of scapegoats, quick, give this woman the lordly wreath before the kids gnaw it up, in their sub-goatish lusts.
from Cold Eye: A Generation of Voices (Poems, Prose & Interviews from 1978 Portland, Oregon) Round Bend Press, 2011.
Oregon's next star running back, if he sticks with his commitment. Oregon lost its last stud runner on signing day in Feb. when a freakish Hawaiian turned to USC at the last moment.
Right now Oregon is loaded with talented runners, but in football as in chess you are always preparing for the next moves.
Speaking of great running backs. The time this guy thrashed USC for 300 yards in L.A. was a revelation.
In the case of a massive earthquake you might be tempted to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye, depending on where you live or work. Don't be afraid.
It will happen here in Portland, Oregon someday. It's best to plan ahead.
I live on the fourth floor in an old brick apartment building reinforced in 2010. It made this list of "possibly" dangerous buildings in the event of a catastrophic quake.
Never trust bricks in these situations.
The deal for me personally is that when the quake comes my building will collapse into its basement and I will survive the free fall, probably with a few broken bones, but mostly intact.
At times I lay in bed at night and think about it. My mattress and I will plunge down suddenly and forcefully, but the mattress will break my fall against the debris. Depending on how the ceiling and roof above me breaks down, I'll have a real chance to survive.
Bricks won't be the problem for me then, but rather that monstrous HVAC system that is directly overhead. I'll have to dodge that baby at the precisely right moment.
A few cuts and scrapes along with the broken bones would be a small price to pay for survival. I'll take the deal when and if it happens, perhaps with a quick rolling maneuver I learned in football.
To be cautious, I always wear a football helmet to bed, like BD in the Trudeau cartoons.
Portland and I have both changed over the decades, but this city hooked me back when I was a book-drunk adolescent with a yen for stories and adventure. This is the town I ran away to, and half a century later that skewed fascination still shapes my perception of the place.--KD
She loved Portland.