Friday, July 30, 2010

Scrambled Eggs: Coathangers Bring on the Grrrl Noise (CD Review) by Alison Ross

The Coathangers: Scramble
Reviewed by Alison Ross

The Coathanger's 2007 eponymous debut album was a brilliantly kitschy affair that nonetheless foreshadowed great things for the band, if only they would take themselves slightly more seriously.

On their 2009 release, Scramble, The Coathangers fulfill that prophecy a thousandfold. Their sonic template is denser and richer and their lyrical repertoire at once brasher and more tender. Their signature sassy humor is fully intact, and yet they don't hew to it quite as obstinately as on the first release. They have grown more confident in their artistry and so gimmicky flourishes like profane teen-angst song titles ("Don't Touch My Shit," "Shut the Fuck Up") are mostly absent, as endearing as those forays were.

Of course, cacophony informs who the Coathangers are, and so while there are transcendent melodies here (Dreamboat, Toomerhead, Sonic You (which showcases a truly sublime mellifluity) ), the nails-on-chalkboard prepubescent shrieks, throaty yelps, hoarse warbles, and abrasive fret-shredding are as proudly prominent as ever. But beneath the ferocious dissonance is genuine musical aptitude. The noisy aesthetic the girls have cultivated is not intended to disguise non-talent as it does with some bands. Rather, the scratchy screechy screamy assault forms the core of their sonic ethic. It's estrogen punk, and it's timelessly trashy and tasty.

Scramble is, as the name suggests, more diverse than its predecessor, and a wonderful harbinger of things to come. There is primal funk (Bobby Knows Best), along with punk freak-outs, rowdy rockers, woozy ballads, ironic 60s knock-offs, nostalgic new wave nods, and so on. The Coathangers have proven their sound to be eternally elastic, which should secure them a place in longevity's coveted garden.

One of the most notable things about Scramble is that infectious hooks aggressively abound, and bring to mind the Buzzcocks, early Cure, and the B-52s - and yet do not sound stagnant. The trade-off vocals among the girls, the cartoony circus organ touches, and ethereal piano shimmers add dynamic depth which dissuade accusations of derivativeness.

There is also an atonal artsyness and shambling asymmetry to Scramble. Indeed, successive obsessive listens to this album unfold a deliberate and barely controlled chaos that devolves into delirious disarray by album's end.

A most magnificent effort by a group of gritty girls boldly blasting through the barriers of boy-domineered territory with their saucy-feisty punk anthems. May success caress them with her manifold fortunes, because it's about fucking time.

Incidental Music by Claire Trévien

Let’s get one thing straight: he is everyman. He is you when you catch a glimpse of reflection in a window shop. He is the face you can’t recognize but is yours when you glance into a three way mirror. He has no nationality, he is perhaps Baudelairean. He is unimportant, but vital. He is a cliché, but so well worn that you accept it with a smile. He isn’t a poem, he’d never read poetry. Once, as a hint, the author put the following on a bus to see if he’d get the hint, but he didn’t. He thought the author meant his neighbour (who is also him, but with a moustache):

If this were a limerick.

Incidental music drowns his voice. He
Can rarely talk or hear, but he can mime.

If tears well up, he remembers his ears
And blocks them swiftly with over-ripe pears.

“Tis a pity,” he says, “to be followed
every…” but the rest is lost in Are and
Be. That time he asked that poor girl Chloe
for a spot of lunch, and a slap of punch,

(December 4th, in ninety ninety three)

her reply was savaged by the screeching
mandolins that follow the maudlin
with passion. How he ran our poor man, and

now he sits glum, listening to drums. The end.

Author bio:

Claire Trévien is a 24 year old PhD student living in Paris this year and taking an active part in its Spoken Word scene. She has recently been published in the Anthology ‘Dove Release: New Flights and Voices’ by Worple Press. Her writing has been been published or is forthcoming in anthologies published by Leaf Books, Cinnamon Press and Heaventree Press as well as in publications such as The Battered Suitcase, Nth Position, Pomegranate, Danse Macabre, Fuselit and Fingerdance Festival.

How do you say “qu'est-ce que c'est”? by Christopher Khadem

How do you say “qu'est-ce que c'est”?

Hold on tight, as if to say it means anything else
other than third person singular. It does.
But not only this, to identify a person. Who is it?

You there, at the back, are you following this?

This is an tree, that is an horse.
Shhh! What was that? It was a horse running round the equuator.
We're talking about “it”, y'know “it”. You know it?

Do you have something you would like to share with the rest of us?

How do you say 'can I have an apple, please?' Can I have an apple please? Yes.

What are you hiding? A psychological imprint?
Is this an interrogation? Is that something about a king?
Or somewhere between between and ask?

Is this an inquisition? We're just trying to get to the bottom of this, sir.
Well then you've got no chance, I'm afraid, it's endless. And anyway, are you sure you're allowed to say inquisition any more? You know, being catholic.
What, like something of broad and liberal scope? Containing many things? Oh stop it, you fundamentalist etymologist. Concerning all of humankind? That's quite enough of that kind of talk.`

So what is it, this thing that it is? Meta- metro- para- - - - -
The huge question mark, hunched over, drunk, questions its existence.

Author bio:

Christopher Khadem is a student of literature, currently studying at Royal Holloway, University of London. His work has appeared (or is forthcoming) on both sides of the Atlantic in Breadcrumb Scabs (US), Dead Letter Office (UK), Catalonian Review (US) and Leaf Garden Press (US). He co-edits the creative blog and magazine Disingenuous Twaddle.

Polanski’s "Ghost Writer": A Work of Genius With Meta Messages (Movie review) by Edwin L. Young, PhD

Ghost Writer
Reviewed by Edwin Young

I got back from seeing “Ghost Writer”, back and forth on long bus rides, hadn’t eaten since early morn, ate a tidbit, tried to watch TV and zonked out and just now awakened almost four hours later at 11PM and, bleary-eyed or not, I just had to say this: What a fantastic movie. One for those who keep up with world-shaking shenanigans; those with eyes to see, ears to hears, and minds to understand; --- this is a work of true genius and remarkable guts. No one but a world citizen, entangled between evil, global, clandestine principalities that are subjugated by their stealthy, almighty imperators; only a person with the mind of a great artist as well; no one but a Polanski could have made this particular movie at this particular tipping point in history.

He will only get a virtual Oscar from ‘the few’ scattered across the ‘Western Axis of Evil’, but who are not of their world, and only from those who, accidentally, have been prepped to receive his meta-message. I am still in awe that he could pull it off with Hitchcock-like surprising twists while using innuendos to expose a still smoldering, extremely complex, international intrigue. This could only have been produced by German, French, and disaffected UK leaders. No wonder there has been such a tug of war over his extradition. It is not shocking that it has, so far, mostly been seen in Europe. It is no wonder none of the major US theaters have booked it. It has had ‘limited’ release in US, mostly art house theaters – was made on a 40Mil budget, and has had a low gross so far. It is probably Caviar for the EU, but a hot potato for the US, with the exception of CA movie land, the US Northeast, and the Florida coast, as you might have guessed! Its reception appears to be like those movies dubbed ‘Banned in Boston’, only for “Ghost Writer” it is “Banned in the Red States.”

How ‘spot on’ he pegged Tony Blair. And, his cryptic, brief and chilling, allusions to Bush and Cheney should be epithets for both of their epitaphs. Such clever nuggets like these alone make it worth seeing.

Cheesh! What a movie! I have been a fan of his film noir style since “Repulsion” in 1965. Remember “Rosemary’s Baby”? But my god, in this movie, he reveals that has he matured into the cinema artist’s epitome of Jung’s Modern Man as described in “Modern Man in Search of a Soul” but with laser like insight into and detection of, and a genius international spy’s grasp of, the grisly, ugly, ruthless, behind the scenes, lofty, conspiratorial world of power. Traces of “The Good Sheppard”, and the many others of that ilk dotting this decade of cinematic critiques of the secret, ruthless side of government, flickered across my mind as the movie advanced to the denouement. And, as an additional bonus, I found a new love in Olivia Williams who played that intriguing, sinister wife, Ruth Lang.

I’m not sure why but I have a hunch that Polanski’s very existence on earth is like a shiv in the heart of Stephen Spielberg.

The only real justice in the world is poetic justice. With this film, Polanski got his by turning the tables on his judges and adversaries!

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

This Must be Hell (or Congress): An Odd Political Spoof (Satire) by James G. Piatt

“Who in hell cares about politics?” Tweet yelled at the top of his voice

“No one you idiot, no one here gives a damn!!” Syku answered stridently.

It was dark as hell, Dante’s third step dark. Tweet couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Syku was awfully glad of that.

“Where did Virgil go?” Tweet asked again

“He went with Michelangelo you moron, how many times do I have to tell you?” Syku answered.

“I thought he wrote poetry.” Tweet asked.


“Virgil, you horny toad!”

“No he is a lobbyist.”

“So why is he with Michelangelo, all he does is paint.”

“Well, doesn't that make sense?”

“Sense about what?”

“He isn’t with Michelangelo!”

“Good lord, what are you saying?”

“I’m saying he might not be with Michelangelo.”


“Its hot as hell in here!”

“What did you expect?” Syku yelled.

“I don’t know nerdo something else. I thought politics was cool.”

“You are an idiot Tweet, do you know that?”

“You should talk Syku, both of your heads are ugly as hell, I’m glad it’s dark in here.”

“That one ugly eye in the middle of your flat head doesn’t make you a magazine model.”

The door opened and light inundated the place like a floodlight, it blinded Syku’s all seeing eye.

“Shut off that light you moron, I can’t see.”

“Could you see in the dark?”


“Then what the hell difference does it make?”

“Who are you?”

“Virgil, I’m back.”

“Oh, the one who lobbies?”

“No, I’m the one who paints.”

“Really? Then you must have gone with Michelangelo.”

“That is correct you dizzy large mouthed liberal baboon.”

“See Tweet, you dumb ass, I told you!”

“Oh shut up Syku, who gives a rat’s damn.”

“Me, I do that’s who.” Tweet said petulantly

The place was getting hotter now, like the under belly of a desert toad hot. Tweet grinned, took off his robe and preened his tail.

“Tweet put your robe back on, your body is as ugly as a ruptured whale in heat.”

“You didn’t say that yesterday sweetie.”

“Yesterday it was dark. In the dark, you look good. All politicians do.”

Well you two shut up. Michelangelo is getting excited!”

“Who are these guys Virgil?”

“I have no idea Michelangelo. I flashed my light in this place, and there they were, ugly and all.”

“I think I’ll paint that one.” He said as he gazed lovingly at Tweet.

Michelangelo took out a huge paintbrush the size of an ironing board and commenced painting Tweet’s ugly naked body. It was a tremendous improvement.

“I like it Tweet, definite change for the better,” Syku laughed.

“It tastes like neo-con,” Tweet said as he licked his red tail.

“Don’t do that you’ll ruin my fabulous fanny paint job!” Michelangelo yelled.

“Jeez Micko don’t get so hot under the collar! You sound like a conservative Republican.” Tweet yelled.

"Who is Micko?” Syku asked.

“Him, the weirdo with the stupid girlie toga, brainless smile and big paintbrush.”

“Don’t say that.” Virgil squealed as he pulled his appendage around his body.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Tweet yelled.

“I’ll filibuster your next bill, and say no!” Virgil said as he barred his small teeth.

“Tweet, let’s get out of this damn place. The light is burning my beautiful fur.” Syku screamed as he blew out the fire on his furry blue Democratic bottom.

“You stay right where you are Syku, don’t you leave. Alice said the Queen of Hearts is going to invite you for dinner,” Michelangelo stated as he licked his lips.

“Who wants me?”

“The Queen of Hearts.”

“I thought she was in to Humpty Dumpty.” Tweet exclaimed as he looked at Syku then continued licking the red paint off of his blue tail.

“No the Mad Hatter did, he is into saying no and cracked eggs.”

The light went out and the place started getting cold again. Virgil and Michelangelo yelled and ran out. Tweet sighed and looked at Syku.

“What was that all about?”

“Just a misfortune I guess.” Syku answered as he preened his burning butt.

“What the hell is going on in there? The Bush asked gazing goofily into the place.

“Nothing, just coming and going like Michelangelo.” He roared.

“You perverts, you are never going to get out of this blue place.” The Bush yelled.

“What place?” Syku asked.

“This place.”

“What place is this place?” Tweet asked.

“Stay in hell you liberal perverts,” the Bush screamed jumping on his fairy-dusted broom and heading back to Never Never Land.

“He’ll never get there.” A youthful voice stated.

“Who the hell are you in your fancy tight pants, and why won’t he get there?” Tweet asked gazing dreamily at the lad.

“I’m Peter Pan and I moved his ship of state, he’ll never find it.”

“Jeez, why don’t you grow up Peter?” Syku yelled.

“I’m outa here everyone wants me, and Bush to grow up,” Peter screamed.

“Hey who else is in here with us?” Tweet asked feeling something sharp.

“Its me you stupid imbecile, let go of my shiny pointed hook.”

“Whose me?” Syku asked.

“General Hook & Crook! Where did that damn idiot Peter Pan go?”

“I think he left to find Virgil and Michelangelo.”

“Well that does it, I quit.” The General yelled as he stomped out of the place, “I don’t play second fiddle to anyone.”

“What a loser!” Tweet exclaimed as he licked the last of the red paint off his tail.

Author bio:

James earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University. He earned his doctorate from BYU. He is retired now, and spends his summers along the river, reading, writing, and penning poetry. Caper Journal, Word Catalyst Magazine, Everyday Weirdness Magazine, and the Cynic Magazine have published his short stories. He has had eight non-fiction essays published.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Edward Sanders' The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg (Book review) by John Yohe

The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg: A Narrative Poem by Edward Sanders
Reviewed by John Yohe

This book is exactly what the title claims: one long biographical poem about Allen Ginsberg. Instead of paragraphs, Edward Sanders uses stanzas, lines, fragments, random indentations, excerpts from Ginsberg’s letters and poems, and even official government documents, like one issued by the Department of Justice in 1965 calling Ginsberg “potentially dangerous”! The result is surprisingly readable, in part from Sanders’ choice of indenting some lines to create space on the page (versus, for example, making the text look like Paradise Lost, with one thick column of text running on for pages and pages). Sander’s style, the touches of humor and playfulness, also help. It’s obvious Sanders had some fun in writing this.

Sanders is a poet, journalist, and sometimes teacher. He was a friend of Ginsberg’s, and published some of Ginsberg’s earlier poems in an underground New York journal during the 60s, famous still, if only for its name: Fuck You / A Magazine of the Arts. Sanders was also part of the (what some would call satirical and others not) band The Fugs, with whom Ginsberg performed on occasion.

The poem/biography is organized around ‘Parts,’ each centering on an significant creative block of time in Ginsberg’s life, with the Parts subdivided, mostly, into important months or years. At the beginning of some Parts, Sanders adopts a pseudo-Elizabethan style, briefly reminding readers what has happened to “The Bard” in the previous Part. Not really necessary, especially since the Parts are short enough, and his style of writing is so smooth, that many parts can be read in one sitting, but they are humorous:

We left our history of the great bard Allen Ginsberg
in the summer of 1978 when
he was arrested at Rocky Flats
then returned to be arrested again
the same day

blocking the railcars of plutonium
coming in to build the triggers of doom

Sanders doesn’t claim to be writing an unbiased biography, and his language is very informal. At times he refers to Ginsberg with the more melodramatic “The Bard,” but other times Sanders uses his personal nicknames for him: “Ginszap,” or simply, “the ‘Zap.” Nor does he claim to be writing an authoritative text, referring readers to other texts, including the two official Ginsberg biographies, for further details, if curious. And, he dispenses explaining the more well-known people in Ginsberg’s tribe, taking as a given that readers already know who Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and the Beats in general are, though he does devote time talking about Ginsberg’s more-than-friends relationship with Neal Cassady, for example. But Sanders shows how much The Beats, and generations of poets after them, owe to Ginsberg’s generosity and support, making the case that without him encouraging editors and college administrators (Ginsberg helped found Naropa) to publish and provide teaching jobs for his friends, many would not have been so successful. Ginsberg was the social hub of most poetry going on in the United States during the sixties and seventies, and he is largely responsible for it’s popularity at this time, in part because, Sanders argues, Ginsberg’s idea of poetry was entwined with his social/political activism.

Some of the most interesting sections of the book/poem are when Sanders takes readers into Ginsberg’s writing process, showing how certain poems, like “Kaddish” and “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” formed, giving background on what was going on in Ginsberg’s life at the time, what he was thinking about, and when/where he began writing them. He confirms, contrary to Ginsberg legend of ‘first thought best thought,’ that Ginsberg did indeed revise, though unfortunately doesn’t elaborate.

One (minor) weak point of the book is the repetition. Some lines repeat information, sometimes almost word for word, as if Sanders had assembled smaller parts together over time and didn’t quite smooth them together. Not a big deal, but noticeable, and one wonders if other interesting snippets of information about Ginsberg’s life could have been included instead. Also less interesting is Sanders’ discussion of Ginsberg’s attempts at singing/songwriting. Sanders is a fan of that part of Ginsberg’s work and definitely seems to be arguing for it to be (re)considered, but readers may want to check out videos of Sanders’ own experiments in music on YouTube before rushing off to find old recordings from either poet.

Regardless, what comes through in the text is Sanders love and respect for Ginsberg, as a friend, mentor and poet. It’s an amazing tribute, Ginsberg would have been proud. As an experiment in genre-crossing, what Sanders calls “Investigative Poetry,” the book is even more amazing. Fun, thoughtful, and informative. The original version of this book was published in 2000, and Sanders has written others. It’s a wonder that this combination creative/critical form hasn’t been explored more, and it’s a tribute to Sanders that he makes it seem easy.

Author bio:

John Yohe holds a MFA in Poetry Writing from The New School for Social Research, and a MA in The Teaching of Writing from Eastern Michigan University. He has taught composition and creative writing for five years at the community college and university level. His poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in journals such as RATTLE, FENCE and THE HAT. A complete list of his publications, and writing samples, can be found at his website: John Yohe.

National Tagalog Day (Satire) by Jon Wesick

Diverse languages can divide a nation as seen in the ongoing tensions between Flemings and Walloons in Belgium as well as French and English speakers in Canada. Several studies indicate that conducting official business in a single common language fosters national unity. Even so the government must serve its minorities. In order to meet these conflicting needs, the agency proposes that all government business be conducted in languages proportional to the relative populations of their speakers. The most straightforward way to implement this scheme is on a calendar basis.

All government employees shall use only English from January 1 through November 10, Spanish from November 11 though December 7, French from December 8 through the 10th, German from the 11th through the 12th, Italian from the 13th through the 14th, and any Chinese dialect from the 15th through the 16th. December 17 is reserved for Tagalog, the 18th for Polish, the 19th for Korean, the 20th for Vietnamese, the 21st for Portuguese, and the 22nd for Japanese. Languages without enough speakers to justify an entire day will follow. Thus government employees will speak Greek in the morning of the 23rd and then switch to Arabic in the afternoon. Yiddish, Thai, and Persian fall on December 25. Sadly for speakers of those languages, most government offices will be closed on that day. However, this should result in a cost saving for the taxpayer. After the Christmas holiday the schedule compresses ending up with Amharic from 10:40 PM through 11:59 on December 31.* For a complete schedule see OMB Circular 5264 J.

The plan will roll out on January 1 following a weeklong orientation in Creole, Armenian, Navaho, etc. By following these measures we can experience the benefits of a shared common tongue while respecting the diversity of minority speakers.

*To avoid the expense and confusion of shifting schedules during leap years, all government employees shall speak Esperanto on February 29.

Author bio:

Jon Wesick’s stories have appeared in journals such as Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing Adventures, Bracelet Charm, Metal Scratches, CC&D, American Drivel Review, The Aphelion Webzine, Everyday Weirdness, Metazen, Oracular Tree, MiniMAG, SamizDADA, Sangam, Sunken Lines, Tabard Inn, Tidepools, Today’s Alternative News, and Words of Wisdom. He’s also published over two hundred poems in small press journals such as Clockwise Cat, The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.

From a Meaningless World to a Meaningful World (Polemic) by Edwin Young

Since I believe that life is meaningless in itself, I want to address those others like me whose minds take them down a similar divergent path toward believing in the meaninglessness of existence, and to give them heart. You, my dear reader, and I and those with the intelligence to do so can give it, life that is, a meaning, our personal meaning. Mine is a very earth-bound, non-religious, non-spiritual meaning. Mine has little to do with how I should live my life. Mine comes from detouring from the conventional paths, comes from looking down from a perch on another planet, comes from attempting to view the long panoramic journey through the earth’s history with its evolutionary history and history of civilizations, comes from trying to project far into thousands and millions of years hence, and then assembling these perspectives. In some peculiar and mysterious way, this aggregation of perspectives leads me into a sense of awe and, in a non-spiritual sense, reverence for what has taken place and may take place on this unique planet. This view inspires in me a profound caring for this spectacular tiny planet swirling through googols of lifeless galaxies. It is like I want to take mankind, as I would a young child, as I would my own child, by the hand to be astonished with me, to be thrilled with me, at the sight, the knowledge, of these myriads of natural miracles. It makes me want to say to all humankind, now and henceforth, take care of, take mothering care of, this marvelous flourishing marble. Take care to see that it is still here in all its glory for generations upon generations henceforth to be astonished by and to love and be grateful for and to enjoy caring for.

And now, my mind is once again burgeoning with ideas to further my unrelenting pursuit of my mission to tell the world of the possibility of evolving to a higher stage of cultural evolution, leaving the myopic, Cyclops-like old mankind, the shallow, insensitive, arrogant, mad, ruthless, toxic, destructiveness of all past civilizations, thankfully, behind. A new, more wise, more mature, humankind can evolve. I can see, just over the temporal horizon, that higher form of human that loves all living things and puts care for our earth above love of power and status, acquisitiveness, and brutal competition and conquest. I can see a strange, higher stage of evolution in which humans accept their animal nature and kinship with all animal species and organic life. I can see a new humanity in which there is no public personality there to disguise their private person and deceive their neighbor.

I can see a new world that has no borders and therefore no nations. I can see a world in which there is no more urbanization, people live in small communities, and they grow their own food organically and share freely with the community. I can see a world where science and technology have developed ways to simulate the natural seasons and conditions for all of the different vegetables, fruits, and other health giving plants. Scientists, in this world of farming, would have restored the original, natural plants, fruits, and vegetables, with all the necessary vitamins and proteins, so that we once again have nature’s variety and no more Genetically Modified Organisms. With such a variety of plants, vegetables, and fruits, there would be no need for meat from cattle, hog, and chicken mass production farms. Therefore, there would be a drastic reduction in methane gas, the risk of bacterial illnesses, and an absence of foods resulting in dangerous ingestion of second hand antibiotics. These natural-environment-simulated structures (NESS) that provide for vegetation from around the globe would also make the use of deadly pesticides unnecessary. One important value of NESSs is that the community can grow foods that are high in Omega 3 oils and thereby participate in the international boycott on the commercial fishing that is causing a global depletion of fish that in turn is destroying the eco-system. In addition, there will be no need to eat farm fish that are unnaturally fed on GMO corn and soybeans and bad for your health. Every small community could build these simulated environments and have a huge variety of healthy, organically grown foods perennially. With such a new food growing system, there would be no more need for that vicious, corporate-appeasing Federal Drug Administration. The self-sufficiency of homegrown foods would obviate our need for vast, energy-demanding, distribution systems as well as our current monstrous waste disposal sites that are overflowing with environmentally destructive packaging.

I can see a world in which parenting is a community endeavor. I can see a world in which education is completely individualized and without grades. There would be no mandated curriculum. No learner would have to move lockstep through a fixed schedule of lessons, leaving ninety percent of them without having mastered the material. I can see the education being done in these small communities having a focus more on learning personal, interpersonal, societal, intellectual maturity, and maturity in intimate relations than on prescribed curricula. I can see education that teaches people of all ages how to manage one’s personal health, develop and maintain good eating habits, avoid the use of drugs, unnecessary medications, and all other substances that are bad for one’s health. Such a form of education would also bring about the best possible kind of preventative medicine. To make teaching maturity the most effective, all members of the community should take turns as teachers or co-teachers since learning is best and most enduring when one teaches what one was taught. In addition, when youth take this responsible role, they also become more caring and mutually supportive and take an active role in maintaining the quality of the community. I can see communities in which the sick, children, the disabled, and the elderly are well fed and well cared for in such small, mutually supportive communities. With community doctors and a vast, global, internet-health-information-system, the best care would be available to all instantly. In fact, having such mutually supportive communities would mean that health insurance was no longer necessary, indeed, no kind of insurance corporation would be necessary.

When all of the members of a small community are educated in all of the areas of maturity, they become capable of discussing emerging problems in the community rationally. This being the case, they would not need to vote and have leaders to direct them. They could have community meetings in which any member could put forward a problem or proposal. Anyone and everyone could share their thoughts and knowledge relevant to the question at hand. With the question before everyone, anyone could access the internet, troll for the relevant experiences and information from other communities around the globe, and then share this with the group. They could wait until a consensus was arrived at then decide to try a solution or plan and see how it works. If it does not work, they could resume meeting and begin over with new ideas to be tried and evaluated. When they find a method that works, they could post it on the internet for the benefit of anyone else in the world.

I can see a world in which there are no more corporations, a world without contracts, copyrights, patents, or property deeds. I can see a world in which there is no need for capitalism. Consequently, there would be no banks and no stock market. There would be no free enterprise or free market economy. I can see a world where the deadly monetizing trend has ended and the profit motive is obsolete. The end of a worldwide, growth-based economy would mean an end to humanity’s pell-mell rush over the cliffs of self-destruction. Counterproductive, unhealthy, earth polluting products that seep into groundwater would no longer be produced. An end to polluting the rivers and oceans would mean the dying coral reefs would recuperate, overfished endangered species of fishes, some on the brink of extinction, would make a comeback, and otherwise edible shellfish would stop being contaminated.

Energy systems are essential for the functioning of every aspect of our culture. The massive energy-industrial complex with its life-threatening coal, nuclear, and oil industries supplies energy for just about everything our modern way of life has come to depend on. First, there are the extremely costly facilities for oil and coal production and refining and for nuclear energy plants that supply almost all of the energy. They are the sources that are required for mining precious metals, mineral excavation, logging and their processing and transporting and the massive chemical industries. Primarily, they are the main suppliers of energy for home heating and air-conditioning, refrigeration, and lighting for domestic homes and commercial buildings. These energy sources are necessary for cooking appliances; water plants; farming and ranching equipment; food processing factories and transportation for their distribution across our highways; the energy required for live communications such as television, the cinema, and radio; for our huge networks for personal and commercial communications; the escalating industries for information transmission and records storage; and for the massive new technological innovations for health diagnostic and treatment machines. They supply energy for our mounting surveillance and security systems and danger detection and alarm systems. They are essential for our appalling, sprawling waste and sewage disposal and sanitation systems. Unfortunately, they supply our enormous military with its energy guzzling modern weapon and transport systems. Finally, they are necessary for our vast numbers of manufacturing plants and their machines that are now running around the clock. The pressing question for our nation and the world is whether there are alternatives to its addiction to these lethal energy sources. Furthermore, if there are technological remedies, can society reorganize itself to make the transition to them?

I can see a new world where these small communities are energy self-sufficient. There is a saying that an army runs on its stomach. One could say that our nation runs on its energy sources. Our growth-oriented economy is an energy glutton and, metaphorically, the energy industries fuel every aspect of our tyrannical corporate world. This situation results in a casus belli that drives our nation to occupy or to threaten all energy producing nations. Thus, we now must support a gargantuan military-industrial complex to assure access to their energy. Astonishingly as it may seem, all of this massive energy complex is unnecessary. I recall that, in the seventies, the high school principal in my hometown built a wind energy system that not only furnished his home and farm with energy but he was able to sell energy to the local utility. Our new world small communities could easily do the same and, if you add to that the ease of implementing the new, wallpaper-like, solar panels throughout the community, sufficient energy for all would be available year round. Furthermore, hydrogen technology, contrary to the media, is ready for immediate use in buildings and for transportation. One large, six-story business building in the northeast uses only hydrogen energy to supply all of its electricity for a tiny fraction of what electricity formerly cost. These alternatives would be clean energy sources. Consequently, there would be no need for oil, coal, or nuclear energy. With no need for oil, there would be no need to occupy nations and maintain such huge military. With an end to the oil industry, the oil tankers would be permanently docked and that would stop the oil spills so deadly to sea life and our precious shores.

I can see a world there are no hierarchical chains of command, no centralization of government and plans, decisions, and duties are arrived at consensually in communities. Consequently, there would be no politics. With no government and no corporations, there would be an enormous increase in numbers of people to work. I can see a new world where everyone works doing what they are capable of, where people freely work for the good of the community, and there are no work schedules. I can see a world in which there is no advertising. No one is duped into purchases that are not necessary and that are actually unhealthy. I can see a new world in which all is shared and there is no ownership, no exclusiveness, no judging, no social comparison or discrimination, no rivalry, and there is no inferior-superior ranking of people. With no rival, exclusivity, social status ranking, and no advertising, there would be no need for the costly and psychologically destructive fashion competition. People would live in truly egalitarian communities with members well schooled in maturity.

I can see a world where people are trained from childhood on to avoid violence of any kind, even in sports. I can see a world where crime resulting from disputes over possession and possessiveness, jealousy, and greed has become archaic. I can see a new world in which law and the justice system has been replaced with reverential discourse in caring communities. I can see a world in which there is no incarceration. I can see a world where there are no more weapons of any kind and, of course, no weapons manufacturers. There would, of course, be no more war. There would be no military. With this freeing of people from work in corporations, government, the justice system, and the military, people could work whenever they choose. However, in a community-based society, people could become engaged in mutual help and furthering the health and welfare of their communities. So many more resources would be freed from counterproductive manufacturing, environmentally unfriendly building, and rampant, frivolous consumerism that our natural resources would not be in the process of being depleted. The forests of the world, especially the rain forests would be rejuvenated. Atmosphere, free of pollutants from manufacturing and capable of being cleaned by the restoration of greenery, would become healthy again and lung diseases, cancer caused by air pollutants, and other diseases from water and air borne contaminants would dramatically decrease.

I can see a world in which creativity, innovation, and self-expression thrive, in which these are celebrated and are shared freely without restriction. I can see a world in which science and engineering flourish and engineering innovations are shared just as are findings of scientific research. Communities having access to such advanced information and technology could reason together concerning how to use it and could evaluate it, locally, report their experience with it and whether or not they found it harmful and discontinued it. I can see a new world in which the most up to date systems of communication are available to everyone across the globe and everyone across the globe would be considered the same as family or closest friends. Information that is beneficial in one locale would be instantly available to all.

Over the last several decades, the Federal Communications Commission has increasingly relaxed its prohibition against mergers and acquisitions across both the horizontal and vertical spectrums of types of media, from newspapers and magazines to radio to television and the movie industry and also to DVD producers and furthermore from global media corporations to small town media. Now only a few corporations control what reaches the public through any media outlet. Contrariwise, with the worldwide internet, non-professional individuals can perform investigative journalism just as professional investigative reporters and they do this mostly for free and out of a sense of community responsibility. Now these internet citizens are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of viewers. A worldwide internet community is on the brink of co-opting the audiences of the mainstream media and beginning to help pave the way for this new stage in the cultural evolution of humankind.

I can see a world in which there are no sexual laws, nor even taboos, yet people engage in sex responsibly and without sexual abuse, coercion, or inflicting harm. Yet, I see a new world in which humans, living in these higher-stage-small-communities, are able to reverse the population explosion. As the population becomes smaller, more people would be available to devote quality time to the upbringing of the children of the world. This would make it easier for the children’s education to include maturity training, which is a sine qua non condition for ushering in and maintaining this new, higher stage of evolution in human civilization. Persons in this new world would live stress-free with an inner serenity and would become accepting of and empathetic with one another. Children growing up healthy and mature, in every sense, and feeling a sense of belonging to an inclusive, global community would mean that they and people everywhere would have a collective sense of meaning and a sense of purpose to maintain and further this new stage in the evolution of humankind and human civilization.

An important thing to note about the vision of a higher stage of global cultural evolution is that it is the opposite of our current attempts perpetually to be patching up the costly, excessive, and ever mounting number of flaws and breakdowns of our nation’s many complex systems.

I will not see this before the end of my life; still, I can see minute signs that it is evolving and edging closer to the horizon. Even that is wonderfully meaningful to me. Not that I am trying to find meaning to live a meaningful life but that I am living to do my small part to usher in the new humankind, living for that broader, more meaningful, human destiny.

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

Two poems by George Moore

The Dali Café

The crowds are not rushing the gates
of the golden temple, nor the eggs in danger
of falling off the battlements. But
you can’t get a cup of decent coffee here
I hear someone in a flowered shirt that the Maestro
himself would chuck a lunch at say, blossoming
from the sides of a tiny aluminum patio chair.
The women in black wear startling jewelry
much smaller than the best kept masterpieces
of the museum auxiliary store. The old car
propped up in the nun’s courtyard, or theatre,
a museum now with glassed-in out-of-doors,
was never so old as now. Each second
melts again, each hand seems firmly distorted.
We have traveled the lovely landscape
of Spain, Franco’s fascists all gone into hiding,
the vegetation coming back in dull gray,
all to arrive at gates of the fabulously unnamed.


Prologue to a Misdemeanor
for Eunice Odio

Nothing was foreseen.
Everything was imminent.

There where
the field becomes an open wound,
where nothing but poppies bump
into the day, another word
crawls out into the open
and testifies.

You could not say heart without
hurling yourself on the sharp edges
of flowers, or whisper love
without holding yourself
under water until
you were unconscious.

But it was this raft of limbs
in the sentence of the other
swirling through the sunlight
like eddies in a whirlpool
that rescued you from yourself.

It would be nice to spend
an hour on a walk with you,
if you were not dead
and if I were still simply bleeding,
not with arms full of poppies,
not already resurrected.

Author bio:

George Moore was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two "Best of the Web"s last year, and the Rhysling Poetry Award this year. He has a few collections out; the most recent is All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (Pulp Bits, 2007), an e-Book, no longer around, except on his website (George Moore). He has been published in the last year in Apparatus, Eclectica, Fact-Similie, Cortland Review, Ashé, Driftwood, Tangent, Ranfurly Review, Amarillo Bay, Café Irreal, Zone, ditch, Diode and elsewhere.

Two poems by Catfish McDaris

Picasso Blues

Living in a Japanese
motif with dragonflies
swirling around in my head
& peacocks strutting
across bear skin rugs

Collecting lacquered
jewel encrusted snuff
boxes & giving them
to ladies of the night

Match making for pregnant
spiders & Frida Kahlo's
monkeys that sip champagne

The morning clock always
blinds & bewilders me
I can never discern my
blue predicament.


Tortilla Curtain

Gargoyle politicians build a wall
between Mexico & gringolandia
NAFTA on a green horse
trampling the Emancipation Proclamation
rich bigots bloating

Let Freedom Ring

Freedom is babies born with no brains
Freedom is children retarded, malnourished, deformed
Freedom is prostitution at 13
Freedom is breathing toxic waste
Freedom is mountains of poisoned fish
Freedom is not being able to see the sun
Freedom is a river of tears
Freedom is a hole in the ground

Freedom, Freedom, Freedom
There is no such thing.

Author bio:

Catfish has 14 toes, weighs 148, and recently swam the English Channel.

Two poems by John Swain

Bitter for the Cymbals

Bitter for the cymbals
I stand inside an hour
caught between two evenings.
Pine shade creates its separate night,
wet needles make a bed
for my falling spellbound.
You insert tubes in the moon,
so I transfuse
then we alternate tastes.
Fire brightens the curtain,
I wear your ash garland
until the phoenix finally dies.


On the Anvil

I left the death mask on the anvil.
From entrance of silver and diamonds
the path unwound into darkness.
Charred trees bloomed with human fruit,
I wore a woman's face under ashes,
I wore the face when she was aching,
a severed wing dripped blood onto the ground.
The river inspires forgetfulness,
when you crushed pearls I met light,
then we got lost in fields of crocus.
The wind carried stench of decomposition,
scavenger birds crowned the netherworld
and I was drowned in my black mouth
pretending nothing ever happened.

Author bio:

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. His chapbook, Prominences, recently appeared from Flutter Press.

guillotine by Michael McAloran


against stone

walls of
idle laughter

bones dance before
the tomb

naked the winds
cry silently

guillotine of

cutting the screams
from the absurd

Author bio:

Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976) his family moved to the south of Ireland due to 'The Troubles'. He has travelled extensively in Europe, living for brief spells in both Holland & Italy. His most recent work has appeared/ is forthcoming @ Heavy Bear, Danse Macabre, Why Vandalism?, Calliope Nerve and Carcinogenic. He is the author of four collections of poetry: 'In the Black Cadaver Light', (Poetry Monthly Press- U.K, '09), 'The Rapacious Night', 'The Gathered Bones', (Calliope Nerve Media), & 'The Redundant Pulse', (Back Pack Press). His art-work has appeared/ is forthcoming @ Fragile Arts Quarterly, Poetry Monthly International, & Calliope Nerve. He likes to drink & smoke...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Exit: Banksy's Inescapable Charade (Film review) by Alison Ross

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Reviewed by Alison Ross

The ingenuity of Banksy's street art has always been in its not-so-surreptitious ploy to provoke radical thought, which one hopes will eventually germinate into action. That, paired with his sometimes incongruous placement of said street art. For example, the juxtaposition of a blow-up doll, hooded and attired in a Guantanamo Bay prisoner jumpsuit, with its location, the grounds of Disney World, is, to be sure, an audacious statement about our maddeningly misplaced priorities. We prefer to revel in the confectionary comforts of a cartoonish cosmos rather than confront the rank reality of tortured humans, Banksy is saying, and so he seeks to subvert our submersion in the syrupy surreal with a rude injection of terrifying truth.

Of course, there were also the infamous trompe d’oeil images adorning the Israel-Palestinian wall. Among the images was one that projected the illusion that a giant hole had been blasted through the wall, offering a glorious glimpse of sunlight. Naturally, the images, with their iconic evocations of freedom, intended to illustrate the stark disparity between the humiliating ghettoization of the Palestinians and true, humanizing happiness.

Banksy has perpetrated many more such brazen street art political acts, of course, in his native London as well as abroad, all imagery imbued with satirical import aimed toward jolting the muddled masses out of their shared soporific stupor.

And now Banksy has brought his relentless roguishness to the big screen. This time, his aim is to shake up our complacency toward the rampant commercialization of art. His medium is documentary film, though we can never been sure that his film is, indeed, a genuine documentary. And therein lies the mischievous genius of Banksy's cinematic rendering.

The protagonist in Exit Through the Gift Shop is a French thrift-store owner who lives in LA. He is besotted with street art and Banksy in particular, so he seeks to make a film about him. The problem is, Thierry Guetta, the thrift-store owner, cannot, ultimately, capably execute such a daunting task. And so Banksy attempts to take over. But instead of finishing the film about himself, Banksy ends up making a entirely different movie: one centered on the meteoric rise of Mister Brainwash, Guetta's street art alter ego.

Except that Guetta has no authentic artistic talent. His "art" is merely an absurd mishmash of street art iconography and Warholian sensibility. And he inexplicably vaults over a crucial step in art-world ascendancy, that of honing his craft first, while suffering existentially before finally "making it."

Mister Brainwash mounts a massive show in LA, and the legions flock to bask in his sudden fame. The denizens of LA, after all, compulsively chase the Next Big Thing.

There is a tasty irony, of course, in the fact that Mister Brainwash's work is reminiscent of the very artist whose trademark quote about the ephemerality of fame is frequently invoked in our star-obsessed society.

The thing is, we can never be sure if Mister Brainwash is "real" and whether the art show is staged for cinema, staged for the gullibly superficial LA poseurs, or both.

Either way, Banksy, whose face is shrouded in shadow and whose voice is shrouded in effects throughout the movie, is clearly asserting an anti-commercialization bias with his perversely fascinating focus on Mister Brainwash. Guetta's impetuous turn toward art and his bemusing surge toward art-world celebrity and fortune despite his embarrassing lack of artistic acumen is a humbling indictment of our blind complacency regarding substance in creative endeavors.

We are all being had, Banksy is saying, by charlatans and poseurs... and we are even being had by his movie, a fact which doubly condemns us as dumber than dumb, since we obviously need to be told what to believe.

Exit Through the Gift Shop is the cinematic analog to Banksy's street art: a cloying ploy to dramatically dissemble our attitudes of lazy indifference toward all that is true and beautiful.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Here They Come: Are You Ready For the Selmanaires? (Music interview) by Alison Ross

The music of Atlanta band The Selmanaires is virtually impervious to categorization, so promiscuous are the band's influences. So of course it’s no surprise that the members of the group are a culturally literate bunch, inspired by Dadaism, haiku, and of course, music from across the sonic spectrum.

“We are fans of music from all around the world,” says Ohio native Jason Harris, who, along with twin sibling Herb and Atlanta-born Tommy Chung, founded the band in 2003. “It all comes from a similar place, no matter the cultural differences. We attempt to distill the essence of that through what we know, modern American life.”

“Music is never a solitary venture,” says Herb. “There is always the player and the listener. And it is also informed by magic. It is culture trying to get outside itself.”

Jason echoes this sentiment: “Our aim is not to express ourselves, but to get OUTSIDE of ourselves, and rhythm is the springboard.”

Tommy Chung, who rounds out the core of the band, also feels that classical literature is an implicit influence on The Selmanaire’s music. “I like the masters: Hemingway, Fitzgerald,” he relates. “I also like Japanese author Murakami and magical realism. Of course, these influences affect me more subconsciously than consciously.”

Heralded as extremely hard working and yet “underappreciated” by fellow Atlantan Bradford Cox of indie darlings, Deerhunter, The Selmanaires have released three albums since their inception, each with its own idiosyncratic identity.

However, the first two albums share more of an artistic kinship than the latest offering. The debut album, Here Come the Selmanaires and the sophomore release, The Air Salesmen, carve out a rather traditional rock sound compared to the far spacier, more meditative, and electronica-infused Tempo Temporal.

Of course, the first two albums are suffused with quirky qualities that do seek to set them apart from mainstream rock outfits. Those albums are comprised of tunes that can best be described as a mad mashup of disco, classic rock, art rock, post-punk, new wave, electronica, Motown, and 60s garage rock. This reflects The Selmanaires’ cultural-stew approach to forging sounds.

But with Tempo Temporal, things get eccentrically edgier.

“With the first couple of records, it was us learning the craft, and learning to write,” explains Tommy. “With Tempo Temporal, we’re not trying to fit in. We are more open to randomness and chance. We are going away from verse-chorus, verse-bridge. We have thrown the rule book out now.”

“There came a point when all we could think about was texture,” Jason expounds. “It felt like we were just bashingbashingbashing. People in bars respond to bashing and not subtlety, and we were doing what elicited a response.”

This move away from more straightforward sonics must in part be explained by Jason’s propensity for avant-garde poetry and art: “I like any anthology edited by Jerome Rothenberg. And as far as art, I'm dedicated to Modernism, especially Dadaism. I feel like they were surrogate fathers to me. Jean Arp is one of my all-time favorites.”

But of course, likely the evolution is owed mainly to the band simply having mastered the rudiments of music-making and wanting to venture down more daring and even daunting paths.

“I think we've always wanted to do something a little more sophisticated and nuanced but did not have the resources or technique,” says Jason. “We don't want to remain alcohol salesmen. We are just beginning to emerge from ‘apprentice’ stage and move on to the next phase, which we hope will be developing a sound of our own. We felt trapped as a three piece and wanted to expand.”

Herb continues: “After a while we got bored with rock and roll and blues-based music which is most prevalent in American culture. We also didn't want to bludgeon people over the head with sound, we want to caress the ears, not make them bleed. It started when Jason got a sampler. Then it all got stranger.”

To weave in a bit more complexity and subtlety to its musical template, the band has been collaborating with 22-year old honey-voiced folk-crooner Adron. And wildly talented Floridian-Columbian Schambon has taken over on percussion.

Herb says of these additions, “Our ideas have gotten bigger, and there is only so much three people can do. Mario is crazy on the percussion, and he has been a wonderful addition. We have not really discussed long term plans with Adron, but it has been a blast to work with her. She has her own thing going on and her music is amazing. We definitely enjoy having female vocals. It adds to the sonic spectrum.”

Regardless of what musical corridors the band ventures down, The Selmanaire’s trademark melodious harmonies will remain firmly intact, according to Herb.

“Singing with other people is one of my favorite drugs,” he says. “When you’re all hitting it the vibrations are magical. We have been told we need a frontman. We contend that our harmonies are the main vocal.”

The members of The Selmanaires do not seem concerned that this may further marginalize the band in the local scene. They exude confidence that in the end, their vision will prevail.

Says Jason, “If we're doing something good it will be appreciated at some point. What we want to do is going to take time. We have grand ideas that are only starting to come to fruition. I'm somewhat glad that we haven't quite had ‘success’ yet. Great things take a long time. We would have gotten caught in traps had it happened sooner.”

And anyway, as the band asserts, the music scene has always been propelled by payola, where it’s more about marketing than the music. These days, with the Cox/Clear Channel monopoly, things are only that much trickier for up-and-coming visionary artists such as The Selmanaires.

Of course, the internet has afforded such bands unprecedented opportunity for wider exposure. And it also offers a way to circumvent the big corporations.

Say Jason and Herb: “The internet in its infancy. Big music corporations are squirming. Michael Jackson was the last big musician that everyone liked – but now there is so much choice and so much music. Things are so fragmented and there is so much to choose from – it’s going to be about finding your niche."

For the members of The Selmanaires, Sonic Youth exemplifies what constitutes the ideal equilibrium between critical acclaim for original output and audience appreciation. “Sonic Youth stature would be what we aspire to,” says Jason. Sonic Youth, it must be noted, never grew into an arena band, but has always maintained reverential status among critics for its innovative manipulation of noise, and retained a sizable core fan following as well.

The Selmanaires will continue to allow disparate cultural influences to impact their mode of music-making. Serge Gainsbourg, CAN, Os Mutantes, Ray Davies, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Air, Glass Candy, Broadcast, Stereolab, are just a few more in the band’s long litany of musical heroes who will undeniably make their presence known overtly and covertly in the band’s music. And, of course, creating its own mythology remains an impetus for the band.

“We are living in a very mythical/changing/confusing time, except that the myths of pre-industrial and pre-electronic times are not very fitting to us," says Jason. “We're dazzled. We're looking. Essentially all of our songs are about feeling at peace with our animal nature and finding out where we fit in. We FEEL there is major inner psychic change that is occurring right below our noses and coming to grips with that is one of our major themes.”

The band, which has yet to be signed, wants to work with any label that will give it enough financial backing to record a proper album. The band does not want to feel rushed and “under the gun” like they did with previous efforts. Until then, they will do it themselves.

“We have thought about giving it all up, but then we come back to it,” says Tommy. “We have to do it. We love it.” Jason and Herb nod in aggressive agreement.

The Selmanaires are working on new material which will likely be out by the end of the year. In the meantime, the band will release a 7 inch, Sinister Season/B.Spell on Double Phantom records, which is linked on Pitchfork, and has just dropped an EP download, An Animated Shadow. Both efforts showcase a startling evolution toward a dreamier, more deconstructive approach to music; traditional time signatures give way to cerebral sonic musings. Elements of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno can be readily discerned in these celestially sinuous tracks.

When The Selmanaires’ tenacious efforts do finally pay off and their vibrant vision is duly recognized, the band will at last reap the manifold rewards it so richly deserves.

Get ready for The Selmanaires. Here they come, world.

Here are some crucial links to The Selmanaires:

Official band blog



Two poems by Jacob Russell

Mar 18 2010 13th & Morris

Line of roof tops to the end of the _______

of the philosopher’s toe in the sand
(Plato’s alter)
of history

geometry of change

important things
are things

windows, sashes, bottle caps
trees in bud

and the sparrows
silent all winter
noisy for mates

(came all the way from England)

dressed in feathers Oh,

Look around and see
there’s more to history than Kings
or Counting House

That cat for instance
asleep in the sun

a dream of rats
in the granaries of Sumer

a recipe for beer
in clay
from the banks of the Euphrates

the words to the song
long after we’ve forgotten the tune



the widening gap


of blue

between what we think
we see
and what we see

though praise for the monosyllable is endemic
I'm not convinced

I must name each bus
with its passing such

multiplicity of faces
the darkened spaces in the windows
the invisible

thoughts that lie
to the side

to the side
we see

no more

a mono-syllabic
in the glass

Author bio:

James Russell lives and writes in South Philly. His work has been performed by InterAct Theatre and appeared in Criiphoria 2, Conversational Magazine, Connotations, BlazeVox, Scythe, Salmagundi, dcomP Mag, Pindeldeyboz, Battered Suitcase, Salmagundi, Beloit Poetry Journal and other literary venues. With the help of his Spirit Stick, he hopes to complete a second novel in the next few months, and is seeking a publisher for a MS of poetry. He manages the literary blog: Jacob Russell’s Barking Dog.

The Word ‘God’ – The First and Fatal Flaw in Religious Logic (Polemic) by Edwin L. Young, PhD

You do not have to prove Christianity is full of contradictions, fabrications, or spurious revised history related to it or its origins in order to be an atheist. All you have to do is ask 'What does the word ‘god’ mean?’ Reverting to synonyms won't cut it.

When man evolved from Apes and constructed language, they made the mistake of reifying words that had no concrete or material existence. C. S. Peirce, the pragmatist philosopher, wrote that to know the meaning of a word, consider what practical consequences would result from using that word and that would be its meaning.

The word God only has meaning to group members who react psychologically or emotionally to its use and who have a network of related words that cohere. They act as though the word god and related spiritual words do not require 'object'-tive verification and as though the assertion that god or things supernatural are causal agents needs no verification. You cannot prove the negative. You cannot prove god exists and you cannot prove god does not exist. To begin with, no one can even say to what the word refers or what it means other than its idiosyncratic meaning to each unique individual. An attempt by a person to do so, that is to clarify what they mean, ends with the defending person accumulating words that have no concrete or material existence or observable cause and effect relations. These words are strictly subjective and their meanings strictly preferential. Strange as it may seem, heated debates over these intangibles can rage for hours and even decades and have been the Casus belli for so many ghastly wars, like one horrid example for instance the Crusades.

Well, harkening back to an earlier trip to the grocery store and a Chinese woman with whom I talked. She was a middle-aged woman, not unattractive, with a high-pitched voice. She followed me off the bus and launched into a description of her existence. She was homeless and indicated where she now lived and where she had lived in winter to keep from freezing. I feared she was going to ask to come live with me so I made a preemptive strike and said I was a very old and poor man who lives in a tiny apartment and sleeps on the floor. It worked but her curiosity must have been aroused so she began asking me about what I did for a living. Of course, I said ‘retired’ but I had been a psychologist. She seemed incredulous so I added that I had spent most of my career reforming prisons and the like and there was no money in it. I hoped that leaving it at that would satisfy her and it did. However, that just catapulted her into a narrative about how she had been a nurse and had made a quarter of a million dollars and then one day the Lord touched her life and she gave everything she owned away for the poor and became an evangelist to the homeless. I told her I was an atheist and she immediately told me that all I had to do was open my heart and God would take me back. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, as somberly as I could, “Bless you!” She looked at me like God himself had blessed her and went on her way.

The tales of the lives of these billions of humans around the world are each so strikingly unique and fascinating. What a bizarre and fanciful world our species entered into when it developed language. Language creates realities all of their own for humans. Most live happily throughout their brief habitation because they believe so completely in their fantasies about the meaning of their life, the imaginary explanations for causes of the effects in their lives, and their worldviews that provide a rationale for their often fruitless, trivial, corrupt, or even horrendously destructive careers.

My meaning is simple. That woman is doing no harm in doing her kind of good. My infinitesimal moment in her life gave her a momentary, delightful sense of validation. Ironically, it had the same effect on me, the atheist, who believes she is living an arduous, self-sacrificing, life with a sense of fulfillment, albeit one built on pure fantasy. My life, devoid of fantasy, received what I think may have been a close to identical sense of fulfillment in that moment.

Is that, after all, what, in the end and for the most part, life is all about: kindness and caring shared between one human and another. Lest I forget, I must quickly add that, while not returned in the same filial manner, for we all are kin, life must also be about extending kindness and caring to our dear Mother Earth.

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

Dream #127 by James Babbs

my dead father sweeps
the floor of
the garage but
doesn’t look at me
when I circle the car
checking the tires to
see if they have
enough air and
I don’t ask him
for anything and
he never says a word
just keeps lumbering
across the floor
pushing his broom

Author bio:

Some of James Babbs' recent poems have appeared in Abbey, Gutter Eloquence, Underground Voices, Verse Wisconsin and Zygote In My Coffee. He says: "I work for the government but don’t like to talk about it. I like getting drunk and writing. I like Fall better than I like Spring. I like it when the tomatoes start getting ripe. I don’t like okra and never did but I could eat lima beans every day of the week."

sucking away the splits by Ross Leese

there are no solutions for it--

you just keep going and going
and putting on the bravest face you can
and smiling and answering and nodding
whenever needed
and crossing the t's and dotting the
I's wherever needed
and there are no real solutions for it--

you just keep eating at regular intervals
drink when you're thirsty
stay wrapped up in winter
and cool in summer
and sign all of the correct forms
and accept all the same old bullshit
from the same old bulls
and there are no real solutions for it--
you just keep on turning up at the factories
and offices and hospitals
and supermarkets
and you keep on sucking the dick
kissing the brown
clocking in
clocking out
and there are no solutions to it of course--

you just keep doing and doing
and going and going
and there's little else to do of course
but to do and to sleep
and to wake and to do
and to sleep and to wake
and of course

you're far from being the
only one on this god damn
desperate world stuck within this
depressing cycle--

which somehow makes the
certainty of the

all the more

Author bio:

Ross Leese is a 30 year old has been who tends to be far too miserable, far too often.

Three poems by Alec Kowalcyzk

For the Discriminating Smoker

It is a common looking cigarette lighter,
but when the cover is flipped
and the lever is flicked,
a crucifix is ejected,
pierced with butane jets,
and the cross burns ...


Woven Irons

you have this idea that if you relax positively / if you unwind yourself to the utmost / you can break down the molecular bonds / that bind your body as a whole / you can truly achieve pure freedom

accordingly / you stretch in the comfort of your recliner / relieving your mind of all worldly affairs / waiting to seize the moment - that fleeting window of opportunity / that blurred boundary barely separating the sleeping from the sentient

suddenly you sense it / you swirl toward a maelstrom of unconsciousness / tipping over the edge like a timber - sinking into the bottomless shaft of sleep / it is then - at that explicit moment - with keen concentration / you begin to experience sudden bodiless consciousness / you feel free as ...

it is at that precise moment that a sound from outside / the sound of shoe soles newly repaired but not broken in / slip-slapping the sidewalk / redirecting your attention / commanding your thoughts so strongly / that even though you can't see them outside / you know they bear the 'Cat's Paw' trademark ...

the sound of the traveling footprints is now long gone / the recliner remains visibly empty of its occupant / but if he still had vocal cords - which he does not / you would surely hear the screams / of one who remains inextricably and molecularly bound / ... forever ... / ensnared in the weave of the recliner's upholstery



I had dah I
the oddest tseddo eht
feeling looking gnikool gnileef
into the eht otni
mirror rorrim

I felt tlef I
the other rehto eht
was observing gnivresbo saw
me em

and I I dna
was the eht saw
image egami

Author bio:

Alec B Kowalczyk is a native of South Troy, New York, a civil engineer by day, with an interest in the mechanics of poetry. His work has been published in The Feathertale Review, Black Petals, ChiZine, The Horror Zine, Pif Magazine, Semaphore Magazine, Versal, Yellow Mama and others, winning a Dark Animus award for poetry. Snark Publishing released his chapbook Shadow and Substance. Most recently some of his work can be found in Jeani Rector's anthology Twice the Terror and, forthcoming, in Jennifer Bowles' The Medulla Review Anthology.

Current Situation by John Grey

As planets go, the Earth will have to do.
Can do nothing about its speed,
slow as days, as years even.
And it’s too old to spruce up.
So maybe it looks better from outer space
but who has the time.

It was born of chaos so they tell me
and I can believe that.
Despite my Bible, it feels more accident
than created.

And it’s so small that I can see all of it
on the evening news:
starvation in Africa,
students swarming in the streets of Teheran,
floods in Bangladesh,
Royal scandals from London.
But it’s still too large for me
to ever enjoy the plane ride.

Despite its feeling of crumbling
everywhere I turn,
the fresh winds,
the shifting plates, the volcanoes,
would have me believe it’s still unfinished.

And of course, the population expands
exponentially by the second.
More every day resigned
to this being the world they live in.
Or being people, that other name
for obsequious acceptance.

Author bio:

John Grey is an Australian born poet, but has been a US resident since the late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst. He was ecently published in Slant, Briar Cliff Review and Albatross with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and REAL.

Two poems by Daniel Wilcox

Iraqi Temples

A masked gunman in black stands
On a smoky street corner in Baghdad.

Palms rear up, in the background,
With green branches like hands to Allah.

His left rubber sandal hangs ripped,
Red spots dribbled on the blue plastic;

One hooded jihadist—the signet of the guttered streets
Of 23 armies ruling the smudged smog of 6 million.

The Euphrates and Tigris rivers steel with sheen
Like the blades of historic scissors—Closing…

The threat of the cutting,
The bleeding of a people.

A Kalashnikov rifle fingered in his raised hands;
On the ground prone, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Most of the streets lay as desert; it's Friday the day of worship,
God is Great! blares in triumph from the minarets;

A wretched Toyota, bombed, metal--wrenched and contorted
'Lies' in front of him, its bodies, idols of the fly;

It's Ramadan, the month of ultimate submission to Allah,
And the Mahdi Army fasts from sweets and melted cheese

And roams the streets, masked, hungering for infidels and Sunnis.
But far back down a scarred, trash-strewn alley

Behind the modern, sacred mosque, blindfolded bodies
Lay prone in endless prayer, red circles in their temples.


A Love Affair

Truth is not a woman to be propositioned
In the bold demands of a harsh creed,
Treated like an object to ever mind;
Not for heaven's sake is she to be
Reasoned into compromising positions
By the forced logic of mental constructs;

She is not to be cornered or ever boxed,
Prosed short to a Procrustean degree,
Delivered in some barren decree
On Sunday morning from the patriarchal
Sharp verbal edges of a ridged pulpit’s dock.
She is no submissive wife or doctrinal concubine.

Rather Truth is a foxy lady
Hidden ever so in virgin-minded wilderness,
Light playing through the translucent leaves,
Who deeply wishes you in poesied verse
To propose, that your every cherished moment
Be a sparked endless epoch

Of tender talk, bedded conversation
Inflamed with love's pure passion
From much earnest kind-ling
In the fire place of poetic symbol,
Not dried logic and brained doctrine
But inner Hebrewed 'knowing.'

To woo this lady Truth,
Worship and kiss her
Intimately with Frenched
Until the socks come off

And you two/too/to
Full of light in
The true

Editor's note: Iraqi Temples was previously published in The November 3rd Club (2007)

Author bio:

Daniel Wilcox earned his degree in Creative Writing from Cal State University, Long Beach. A former activist, teacher, and wanderer from Montana to the Middle East, he casts his lines out upon the world's turbulent waters and far shores in Counterexample Poetics, Moria, Word Riot, The Copperfield Review, Leaf Garden, The Bicycle Review, Full of Crow,, etc. His short story, "The Cheyenne Gift", set on an Indian Reservation, was published in Scattered Hearts Anthology in February 2010. "The Faces of Stone," based on his time in the Middle East, appeared in both The Danforth Review and Danse Macabre. Dark Energy, a book of his poetry, was published in 2009 by Diminuendo Press. Daniel lives with a second volume of poems Psalms, Yawps, and Howls, a speculative novel, The Feeling of the Earth, and his wife on the central coast of California--not in that order.