Monday, November 2, 2009

Doing Some Shows

Tomorrow night I feature at North Star Cafe in Portland. I really can't say enough about their sandwiches.

Next Tuesday night, I'll be featuring for the Slam Collective at Hampshire College. I'll be doing an hour long set, the second half of which will involve a guitar. Some of my best friends and favorite poets go there, and I'm looking forward to the visit.

Anyone who reads this should please read Shoplifting From American Apparel. If you know me, you probably know what it sounds like when I geek out on Tao Lin, but I really want some people to talk to about this book. (P.S. I don't agree with Melville House that he's the "American Murakami," I think Lin is more radical--as in new and different, but also in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sense. Okay done.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ian Khadan and Connor Dooley

Ian and Connor are a couple of friends of mine from New Jersey. Connor runs the LoserSlam out in Long Beach, whose "rag-tag" team beat the infamous Slam Charlotte in their first bout at Nationals this year.


These two guys did a double-feature at Cantab last night, and they put on a really good show. It wasn't "rag-tag"; it was "rough-and-tumble." They managed to charm the audience without wasting time with too much banter. You could just tell how much they enjoyed performing together, and how much they enjoyed performing for our venue. I said on the mic, and it proved very true, that Ian and Connor don't play "good cop/bad cop," they play "suckerpunch cop/kick-to-the-gut cop." They brought a little bit of the funny and a lot of the heartache, and now they're touring the country, and anyone who doesn't see them should feel very sorry for missing the chance.

And their CD sounds awesome. Okay, now I'm done gushing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PANK

Three of my poems are in the new issue of PANK Magazine, which also features poems by PSi President Scott Woods and host of the Indie Feed Performance Poetry Channel podcast Wess Mongo Jolley.

I'm also featuring for Port Veritas at North Star Cafe in Portland on Tuesday, November 3rd. I'm planning to do a whole set of poems accompanied by guitar. I may cheat a little and do one or two poems without guitar, and there will definitely be some singing.

*

The Most Boring Thing

I work at an ice cream shop now. I'm still a vegan except that I eat a small amount of dairy for the job. I feel like I'm just doing what I have to do here, from a financial perspective.

I have pretty bad "first week jitters," as the Employee Handbook calls it, but it's going well enough. I served my first customers yesterday and talked to one of them about how nice Denver was in January while scooping a perfect 5-ounce medium cup of coffee ice cream, then rang it up on the register correctly.

Actually, I think this might have been the customer I made the frozen yogurt drink for. I screwed that one up a little, I think. I screw up a lot.

I remember in first grade when my teacher told my mother that I was an "absent-minded professor." I took it as a compliment when my mother told me about that, but I don't know anymore.

Maybe I'll go to grad school or something.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Russian Traffic Cop Claims Himself The Second Coming and Commands His Followers to Keep Vegan

Found this article via Newser.

"His followers, who have given up their lives to follow him, are strict vegans and are banned from smoking and drinking or handling money."

"Around 300 of them live in wooden huts in the village that has grown up around his church and which does not appear on any maps."

I'm going to say this: veganism doesn't need any more bad PR. I think there's been enough to keep us vegans looked at askance for at least the next two decades. PETA has handed out its share of pictures of scalped sheep and debased women, we've had McDonald's blown up on our behalf, plenty of liberal arts graduates have had vegan roommates they ended up quietly resenting--all and all, I think we look maniacal enough for a group of people who are just trying to leave animals alone.

And now we've got Jesusmania on our team.

I'm also going to say this, though: a sad and desperate part of me wants to join him. Never having to deal with money ever again? Living in a quiet little hut in Siberia? Which I'd build myself, giving me something concrete and ultimately rewarding to do, something directly and not just implicitly tied to my survival? Of course, it would mean never touching another glass of bourbon, but at least I would know what I was doing with myself.

Okay, I don't really want to live in Siberia. What I really want right now is bourbon.

I don't have any though.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sean Lovelace

Rose Metal Press has just published a chapbook of short short stories by Sean Lovelace called How Some People Like Their Eggs, the winner of their third annual short short chapbook contest.

I helped proofread this book and really liked it then, and now that I have it in a fashionable-looking font inside of pale yellow cardstock I like it even more. I am now going to get mushy and probably a little pretentious about it:

Sean Lovelace writes in a brisk, dry style, describing sequences of events that aren't entirely surreal and aren't entirely lifelike, which is to say that they occupy as fully as possible the world of the human mind. The wryness of his voice sometimes gave me the feeling of reading from Raymond Carver's shroom log.

The book consists mostly of first-person narratives that move and turn a little like James Tate's more fun poems, but one story, for example, is a series of diary entries from an aging Charlie Brown, each of which begins, "I wake, and hear the birds coughing."

"Meteorite," the story about 'meeting with a friend who's dying of cancer and eating bad bar food with her while feeling a little concerned about destiny' that opens the book, seems like the best, but my favorite was probably either "I Love Bocce," a story about 'a medical student mourning an unrequited crush and cathecting the sport of bocce,' or "Molasses," a story about [spoiler alert] 'feeling less motivated and responsible than one's girlfriend and starting to mow the lawn and then talking with the girl who walks through the lake selling junk from a tire on a rope and learning that one's favorite molasses store has gone out of business because of a syrup superstore opening up nearby.'

Generally speaking, Sean Lovelace's stories are hard to sum up; I feel that they are very complete and good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm in West Palm Beach for the National Poetry Slam

West Palm Beach is like the inside of a gigantic mouth. Our hotel is an ice cube on its tongue. The other buildings are the teeth. The person whose mouth this is flosses too much but still has bad breath, possibly from drinking too much.

Connor's been carrying around his huge bottle of Tullamore Dew. I wrestled two of my best friends last night for no reason. This is the least depressed I have been all summer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Stir-Fry

This is my easy meal that I make when I want an actual meal but don't want to work very hard. I also consider it a good recipe to have if you're a vegan house guest in a non-vegan home, and you end up in a situation where it's acceptable or expected that you make dinner. You don't have to ask for any special ingredients. You just say, "Alright, do you have peanut butter, soy sauce, rice, and some vegetables?" because those are the only really necessary ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:
  • water (okay, I mean besides water)
  • 1 cup rice
  • peanut oil (or just vegetable or canola oil, whatever)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 pound tofu, sliced into thin triangles
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • a handful each of onions, carrots, green peppers, mushrooms, and/or whatever other vegetable you want, chopped
  • salt and pepper and maybe some hot sauce to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start the rice.
  2. Coat a medium-large pan in the oil and put it on medium heat. Crush the clove of garlic with the side of your knife and slosh it around a little in the oil. (Alternately, you could mince it and put it in with the vegetables later, but I find this trick easier--"bruising," they call it).
  3. Fry the tofu for about 3 minutes a side, so that they're just golden. (Since you've already got some protein in the peanut butter, you can totally leave out the tofu if you feel like it).
  4. While the tofu is frying, put the peanut butter in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of water, and mash it with a fork until it's a nice creamy texture. Mix in the soy sauce and chives (chives, again, aren't really necessary, just delicious. I actually use green onions more often).
  5. Take the tofu off of the pan and replace it with the vegetables. Throw in the salt and pepper, plus some hot sauce if you want. Stir-fry the vegetables until they're slightly browned, or however you like.
  6. Throw the vegetables, tofu, and peanut butter sauce into the rice and mix it together, gently enough so as to leave the tofu more or less in tact.

I have this as leftovers all the time. Leftovers of this will be my dinner in about an hour. I am not unhappy about this.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getting published a little online, just remembered that I have a blog

Okay, so I knew I had a blog all along, but I didn't know what to put here for a couple of months (combination of writer's block and feeling too lazy to try new recipes).

Yes though, the first part is true: a couple of online literary magazines have decided to include some of my poems. Here are three of my poems on Mad Swirl, and here is their poetry forum on which my poem "Cozy" appears.

Also, Word Riot has accepted "2029" (known by those familiar as "The one where I kill Sam") and (to my amazement) "Seaweed Baby," a 30 line poem from the perspective of a crying infant caught in seaweed. I'll link to them again when they put those up.

Both of these magazines have published work by Sarah Morgan, who just completely rules. I keep saying that her use of imagery is destructive in a really satisfying way, and I that's the best/only explanation I can seem to conjure as to what rules about her poetry. I will admit that I may or may not know what that even means. She says she has exciting news for me, but she won't tell me what it is, so I don't know what that means either.

Sam wanted us to adopt a cat when we move in together and name it Meaning so that when s/he gets lost we can say that we're "looking for Meaning," but I told him no, because "come on."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

JOB APPLICATION *please pass along*

"...the goal of production no longer lies in any specific market, any specific set of consumers or social and individual needs, but rather is transformed into that element...that has no content or territory and indeed no use-value as such, namely money."

--Frederic Jameson

"i am going to pay someone a lot of money
to turn around and go home"

--Tao Lin

This is an open application for the position of Professional Pac Man Player.

My "resume" is that I will play Pac Man in front of you,
on the Free Pac Man website, on your MacBook,
and you will see that I have a natural talent.

I have maintained four extra lives at one time (April 29th, 2009).

I have consistently eaten all four ghosts
before they can even blink.

The numbers that I have generated
have exceeded the quintuple digits.

This can be a new form of customer service
for your corporation or private business.
Let me show your clientele.

I will pace the same maze
so many timesthat people who work
for companies that work for you
will swell with all the purpose
of someone who makes food or houses.

I will eat so many of the ghosts who chase me
that your American investors
will stop being terrified
of peoples that they don't understand.

I will consume so many white dots
in such gorgeous succession
that I will make the adolescents
at your fast food restaurant feel great
about eating the rainforests.

Most of all, I will try.
I believe in giving extra effort
all the time, every day,
and in having fun working hard,
in reaching for every fruit,
no matter its value.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The World's First Kiss Was the Ocean Kissing a Rock

It's been a little too long since I've straight-up posted a poem, hasn't it? In case you agree, here's a poem I've been picking at for a couple of weeks now. I'm working on setting it to music, so I'll tell you when that's done and on BadMovieCommercialSpace.

When I imagine kissing somebody for the first time,
I always imagine us in a kitchen--

and of course the window is open
and the sun is just about to go down
and some sweet bread that needs a lot of time
just went into the oven,

even though, in my life,
most kisses in kitchens
occur at house parties,
and are bourbon stale
and overdone.

I was daydreaming on the 66 bus,
groceries hammocking my feet, when
an old man with small glasses and no neck
told a girl with thick sunglasses across the aisle
that she looked very good today,
and that he hoped she had a good day.
He was smiling like someone
who has never heard of pornography.

By the trees at Brighton and Cambridge,
the pigeons were chasing each other,
and I watched one of them fly away, as steady
as the first bubble from the bottom of a pot.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dreams, 5/6/09

I dreamed my sister and I were on a ship back from Italy, and the plane landed behind a gigantic mall, and only the two of us and three of our friends went into the mall.

We went to the food court and ordered sweet potato fries, and the woman at the counter said that they'd be out in three to four hours, so we walked around.

All the shops were closed, and no one had anything to say, which was strange because one of the friends was Carlos, who always seems to have something to say about something. Then we walked back to the food court and finally got our sweet potato fries.


Then I dreamed that I was in a diner with the Gringo Choir and a few other Emerson people, including our rookie slammer Peter. They had something called Psycho Fries, which Max asked about, but the waiter said that they weren't very good and kind of tasted like shrimp. I ordered the sweet potato fries.


Then I dreamed that my neighbors and I got together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and we were going to race our cats.

One of my neighbors in this dream looked a little like Bea Arthur, and she kept making comments about my roommate's cat Butch being fat, and not in a joking way. She kept giving me a really dirty look. We ate lunch in her backyard, and after having asked me about how I was doing as a vegan, she dumped a pile of chicken wings right onto the table in front of me. Graciously, however, she also gave me a bowl of sweet potato fries.

The cat race ended late in the evening, on my front porch. Butch was in second or third place (Bea Arthur's cat got buried). The cats started brawling, and everyone else saw this as just the second leg of the race, but I really thought some cats were going to die. I tried to get between Butch and this bigger orange cat that was chasing him, and thankfully the orange cat got distracted.

Butch then plopped down under the porch and watched the other cats wreck each other. I watched too, dismayed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I have shows now!

And I'm even telling you about them this time!

This Friday, for example, I'll be doing a reading at Church of the Advent (over by Charles/MGH)with my friend and esteemed colleague Christopher Kain, who just last night gave a beautiful feature to the Emerson Poetry Project. I'll be reading some of my quieter poems, but there will still be drinking and probably cussing.

Also, on Sunday, May 3rd, I'll be playing a half-hour set as part of an acoustic night set up by another one of my friends, singer-songwriter Tony Lovell. I'm on at 9, but you should get there by 7 if you can, because that's when Tony goes up, and he is fun.

The other dates are on my "shows/readings" menu to your right. I'll post more about them as the dates near.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Fucked Up!

First, I had a show at Gallery 263 and didn't say anything about it on this blog (though I guess that's mostly okay since most of you got invited on Facebook? I hope.) I have a few shows coming up in the next month or two, and I promise I'll tell you about those as soon as I do some fact-checking.

Then, when I played that show last night, I covered this song, "Pablo Picasso," and introduced it as a song by one of my favorite songwriters John Cale, when in fact, it is by another one of my favorite songwriters, Jonathan Richman.

It was a weird mistake for me to make, since the song is on The Modern Lovers' self-titled album, one of my favorite albums and the main thing that I listen to when I'm delirious on good weather and salty air and full of love for my home city. But John Cale was the producer of that album, and (here's where the slip comes from) he covered this song on his (unbearably cool and Eno-ful) 1975 album Helen Of Troy. I heard that version first. Anyway, here's my version:


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vegan Matzoh Brie

It's Passover, and you know what that means: no bread for the Jews. If you're a real fan of Jewishness, you know that that also means no cereal, no pasta, no flour tortillas, and no whiskey or beer (or gin, but that is of less consequence to me).

If you're a vegan, however, you already know that restriction is the mother of invention, which is to say that you will eat delicious things that you would not have thought of eating otherwise.

One of these things is matzoh brie. You will eat matzoh brie.

You might be curious to know what matzoh brie is--basically, it is French toast, but since the "toast" is made out of the flattest and hardest of "breads," it is delightfully crispy and, I dare say, fried egg-like. It is easy to make; you will make it; it will be so good.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup soymilk or other non-milk

  • 2 ripe bananas

  • a pinch of cinnamon

  • some matzoh (yields about 8 sheets' worth)

  • oil for frying


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the soymilk, bananas, and cinnamon into a blender and puree them until smooth. Pour the mixture into a wide bowl.

  2. Break each sheet of matzoh into three or four pieces and soak them in the soymilk mixture for about three minutes.

  3. Fry the matzoh in oil until it's browned on both sides, which shouldn't take long, so watch out--it's best if they're still pretty soft anyway.


HEARTILY RECOMMENDED: Pour on some sugar and/or jelly, or some maple syrup. Some people prefer their matzoh brie more savory, like they fry it with peppers and onions and put ketchup on it, but I was never one of those people.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Gay Republicans

a Trevor Byrne-Smith joint starring me and Sam Teitel, "The Two Sensitive Guys" (a name that grows more ironic with our every action).


Monday, March 30, 2009

Come to New York City and watch me read poems and play guitar.

My friend Paris and her friend Allison are opening a new art collective space in New York City. They've named it Epoh Owl (I have to admit that I don't know what that name means; Wikipedia doesn't have Epoh, BabyNames.com doesn't have Epoh, so I'm at a loss, but I do love owls).

Epoh Owl's grand opening is this Friday, and as part of the celebration, I have been invited to do whatever I want in front of a microphone for half an hour. According to Paris, there will also be "electric blue ambiance," "flavor from both coasts," "an authentic Farolito runway," "dancing," and "mystery."




INFORMATION:

Epoh Owl is(/will be here on in) at 38 Marcy Avenue (at Hope Street), in Brooklyn.

The opening begins at 7.

Admission is $3, but it goes to help make this art space a permanent thing, so I would call that a bargain.

My set begins at 7:45.

The festivities will last until roughly 11pm, at which point I will have had a lot to drink and will probably do something foolish. Or actually maybe I'll just behave myself and go to sleep, since I'm supposed to stay with Paris, who will have her mom with her.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I read my poems at a church this morning

It was out in Salem, at a little Unitarian Universalist church right by the commuter rail. Sam got us the gig through his UU connections, but he was still in Oregon today, so I did it alone.

It was a small congregation of friendly small-towners. They gave me coffee beforehand and hummus and bread and salad afterward. I read these poems:

Meditation on a Signature

My signature
on the screen
at Trader

Joe's, where I have purchased
70 dollars' worth of health food
so I can go back to living at home

looks like I didn't used to believe
my own signature would ever look
when I was in the third grade

learning cursive. They were teaching us
how to write with our hands casually
without stopping. I thought I would

always write my name carefully. I thought
that my name was too important to scrawl.
I also thought my stuffed shark loved me,

which is ridiculous
because in most cases
sharks do not love humans,

but before one's trust in the inanimate,
before one's love for the ungiving of love,
even before one's ability to stop mid-word,

belief in one's name must be the first to go.

*

Some Very Cheerful Moments Happen To Me When I’m Too Depressed To Appreciate Them Fully

Sometimes, when I'm depressed,
I find myself somehow
walking down Harvard Avenue
wearing or carrying something
that would seem more fitting
for a non-depressed person
to wear or carry, like I'll be carrying
a stuffed monkey with fairy wings
that meows like a cat when you squeeze its hand,

and an old-ish lady who looks like she's been crying
will stop me and say, "Where did you get that little guy?"
and I'll have six beers in me, so I'll have to say, "What?"
and the old-ish lady will say, "Where did you get your friend?"
and I'll say, "My friend gave him to me. Here, check this out,"
and I'll squeeze his hand, and he'll meow like a cat,

and she'll chuckle and look at me
like she's completely done crying
and say, "What's his name?"
and I'll say, "I don't know.
What should his name be?"
and she'll look at his red and pink shirt and say,
"Happy. Happy--Heart."
and I'll say, "Happy Heart.
Okay." and I'll smile a little,

and I'll kind of want to ask if she's been crying,
or talk about why I've been crying,
but instead I'll turn back around
and continue walking home,

and I'll pass out over the sheets of my futon,
and at some point in the middle of the night
I'll toss to the corner of the futon
and squeeze against something
and get woken up by a meowing sound,
and I'll think it's my housemate's cat,
but it's Happy Heart,

and I'll smile again, and fall back to sleep
before remembering how depressed I am.

*

Okay

When I was two years old, I fell
and caught a huge splinter in my chin.
My mom says I bled a lot but didn’t cry.
I still have the scar under my beard.

Earlier today, my housemate’s cat clawed me in the face.
I thought my eyebrow was going to bleed. Meanwhile,
the cat kept rubbing up against the chair and meowing
as if she wanted me to keep on petting her.

My face has been in a small amount of pain all day.
I’ve been considering writing a song called
“My Cat Just Clawed My Face.”
I wouldn’t call it, “My Housemate’s Cat
Just Clawed My Face,”
or even, “My Cat Clawed My Face
On The Day That I Wrote This Song
(But Now I’m Okay).”
Sometimes, when you’re writing songs,
you have to lie a little bit
so listeners can sympathize with you better.

My housemate’s cat is usually a better cat.
Her name is Sundance. She is tiny and hyper, and graceful
except that she always bumps her head on low furniture.
I love her even when she claws me.
Sometimes I think that I love her so much
because I’m always a little afraid that she’ll claw me
and therefore always a little grateful that she’s not clawing me.

The great thing about cats is that they’re such chaos,
it makes them the perfect creatures to adore.
I could start shutting doors behind me,
avoid Sundance’s torn-apart cardboard scratching box
every time I go to my refrigerator,
or I can stoop down and give her a pat on her knuckle head,
no clue if she loves me or hates me,
enjoying the company for a second,
and maybe just minding my eyes.

*

Reading at this church was a really calming experience. I felt more like I was sharing my story, and less like I was performing my work--not that the latter can't be uniquely rewarding, in its way, but there wasn't any pressure. I'm kind of glad I didn't say yes to reading off of the higher pulpit. They had one pulpit that looked like a one-person elevator, further up on the wall than the organ platform. Actually, that might have felt pretty awesome.

I think that even the fullest life must be so full of regrets.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slam Poem #10 (All Religions are the Same)

Muhammad's Wikipedia page tells us
that the great prophet led the believers
to battle with tribes twice their size,
and that these tribes were slaughtered
into submission to an all-seeing god
just before the prophet's farewell tour.

A white guy with dreadlocks told me
that Buddha looked at his finger
and that Buddha saw the Buddha
and that Buddha killed the Buddha.

Jesus's PR representatives confide
that Jesus flipped the merch tables
in a church, and that he could be "kind
of a righteous asshole sometimes."

They teach us at Jewish camp
that Abraham used to be named Abram
until he started talking to God,
and God told him he should totally
put "ham" in his name. We imagine
that his son loved that story.

Someone named Fred wrote
about someone named Zoroaster
Zoroaster climbed a rock once,
jumped twice, slipped a little,
straightened up and sat down
on a beetle (though this
he would never know).

Slam Poem #10 (Stop the War)

.0 (The American Flag)

The daughters of the revolution
sewed red stripes on the American flag
to symbolize their brothers' blood
which ran through their uniforms
onto the streets and the soil
that was supposed to be freed.
A century after their deaths,
they were granted suffrage.

.0 (The Star of David)

If you tell me the star of David
is burning on a stranger's lawn,
then please call that a desecration
of the star of David. We can bow
our heads together for this stranger,
but after that, I want you to tell me
about the last time you picked up a rock.

.0 (The Peace Flag)

Every week, I walk through Brookline Village
to buy groceries, and I see the town elders
holding up rainbow peace flags and picketing
a war for which their president has announced
an exit strategy, and I can see them walking home
after a couple of hours, alone, going to bed, hoping
to dream, once more, of their glorious war in the Sixties.

Slam Poem #10 (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)

When I say sex
you say love

When I say love
you say marriage

When I say marriage
you say big house

When I say big house
you say prison

When I say prison
you say you've never been to prison

and I say me neither
and we both agree that's pretty lucky

because we've both done some bad things.
Everyone's done some bad things

because things are fun to do
even when they're bad

but you have to be careful.
Everyone should be more careful

especially around people who have been to prison
because they had to sit in a room with one other person,

whom they probably didn't like, for a long time,
and if they don’t like you, that could remind them of some bad things.

Slam Poetry Ate My Balls

Last weekend, I coached the Emerson College Slam Team (a.k.a. "the /b/ team") at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (a.k.a. "College Nationals"). The team was made up of my friends and excellent poets: Maxwell Kessler, Carrie Rudzinski, Carlos Williams, George Watsky, and (our rookie) Peter Lundquist. We made finals and took home 4th place.

I'm very proud of my team for getting to finals, and all four of them gave extremely good performances of extremely good poems, and the crowd seemed to love all four of them like long-lost children. Some other teams, such as UPenn and UC Santa Cruz, put up some really good poems in slams that I saw last weekend. That said, I came home with some freshly agitated opinions...

Many of the performance poets I know will agree with me when I say that Slam Poetry is one of the stupidest inventions of the 20th century (ranking just under the neutron bomb or the self-spinning fork, depending on which definition of "stupid" you're using). It was designed to steal poetry back from the academics, but now that poetry belongs to the people, it's just a really flimsy centerpiece for this community of orators, too many of whom seem less interested in the craft of poetry than they are in half-informed political grandstanding.

The main problem with slam, structurally, is that it forces the judges, randomly selected audience members, to give public scores to the poets. Audience members who have never seen a poetry slam before are especially encouraged to judge, so not only do they have to evaluate art in front of a crowd of strangers, but they very well might have to do so while forming their taste in said art form.

But the biggest problem with public scoring, as many slammers will tell you, is that a lot of poems that get performed at poetry slams deal with hot-button issues. Understandably, most judges feel uncomfortable giving a low score to a bad poem denouncing a hate crime, but they might give a low score to a great poem about, say, the troubled life of an ambulance driver.

I feel that poetry is an inherently valuable addition to social discourse. When people listen to any well-written poem, they are moved to think about the world in a way that they have not thought about it before. To submit oneself to an evening of good poetry is to appreciate existence on a higher level than usual--which, frankly, is good for humanity. Bad poetry at its best is boring; at its worst, it appropriates and trivializes the struggles of humankind, all of which deserve more attention than it takes to write a half-assed poem and perform it without having revised it thoroughly. Any mechanism that favors poor writing of a particular political persuasion over effective writing is a harmful one.

Still, Emerson's victory, paired with the Cantab team also taking 4th place at Nationals (and the recent attendance boom at the Cantab) gives me hope that good poetry is on the rise, and that it might soon overshadow the gaudiness of slam.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roasted Pepper Walnut Pesto

Radiatore

My favorite kind of pasta is radiatore.
I eat it in pesto fresh from the pot
and pretend that I'm eating radiators.

It's like when somebody tells you that
the world is on their shoulders
or that their heart belongs to you,

because unless you're some kind of heart realtor,
or a titan, or a giant, these situations are impossible--
it just humors us to pretend for a while.

*

I mostly just got this pesto recipe from about.com and further simplified it, but I cannot stress enough: radiatore is the most satisfying shape of pasta. It's like the golden rectangle--it's objectively perfect.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2/3 cup of roasted red peppers

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic

  • 1/3 cup of walnuts

  • 3/4 cup of fresh basil, coarsely chopped

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • a package of radiatore (or other inferior craterous pasta)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare the pasta in a large pot.

  2. Put all the other ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. If it comes out too dry, add more oil. This is a delicious pesto that goes well on crackers or pita chips, if you're feeling snackish.

  3. Pour the pesto onto the finished pasta and mix it around.


I won't get in trouble from plagiarizing from about.com, will I? If this post is illegal, then I'm sorry, please don't take legal action against me, I'm just an unemployed English major.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Hip-Hop Debut"

I've been recording sort of a rap this weekend. It guest-stars Sam. I put it on MySpace. The lyrics disparage MySpace. Modern life is full of contradictions. Anyway, you can listen to the track here, on my stupid MySpace page.


Beyond MySpace being a tacky and annoying website, I suppose my problem with it is a somewhat narcissistic one, which is that I don't like the feeling that when I make music, I'm competing with everyone else in my entire generation. The good thing about MySpace is that it empowers people to make music and share it, but that's also what irritates me about it.

Part of the problem is that not everyone should make music. I know this is really snobby to say (not to mention very un-punk), but imagine if a website came out that made everyone think they could just wake up and be a lawyer.

There is a difference, I think, between the assertion that anyone can make music without corporate appropriation--the punk and indie phenomena--and the opportunity for anyone to make music and then whore it out on the internet while Rupert "The Boston Herald" Murdoch makes fat bank off of obnoxious advertisements.

Obviously, I can't completely condemn something in which I continue to participate, but I'll say this: I hate that thing bands do where they friend strangers who like bands that they like, probably using some sort of robot. Fuck that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dream, 2/15/09

I was standing with my father and his work buddy somewhere in the Southwestern US at dusk. The moon was gigantic. We could see the moon and the Rockies as if they were on a gigantic HDTV.

My father was telling his work buddy about my trip to Chicago (I think to explain to him why I've been drinking so much), making fun of me for chasing after this college ex-girlfriend of mine. "He was hoping there'd be a--what's the word I'm thinking of, Steven?" He was looking at me like I was in on the joke. "It sounds like the name of an exotic bird, I think it starts with an 's'..."

I finally got fed up and threw a rag in is face. "Why do you have to mock everything I ever care about?" With that, I stormed off, wishing I could enjoy this majestic evening in the field behind the power plant.


Later, I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was like a camp bathroom--it had rows of urinals and curtained-off showers--and it was hospital green. There was a boy in a big t-shirt at one of the urinals, and I started toward him thinking it was my brother. I wanted to complain to him about our father.

But it wasn't my brother. He looked like my cousin David, but he was much thinner and didn't recognize me. I backed off and went to a urinal at the opposite end of the bathroom.

A second later, I heard him coughing very intensely, and from the corner of my eye, I could see that fluid was flying from his uncovered mouth.

After hesitating a little, and without looking right at him, I asked if he was okay. He said "Yes, I'm fine" very indignantly.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Whiskey BLT

Today I was just fed up with going to places that had delicious tempeh BLT's and then getting home and not being able to make one for myself. I went to the North Star Cafe in Portland for the Tuesday night slam--delicious tempeh BLT with sunflower seeds. I stopped into Good Earth when I was in New York on my way back from Philadelphia after my show at The Fuze--delicious FBLT with avocados and this ridiculously excellent bread. They all had their own spin on it.

So I went out to Star Market (well, WholeFoods first, just for the vegenaise) and got what I needed, because this was happening. I was just about to make my tempeh bacon with apple cider vinegar, but then I said, "No. Not apple cider vinegar--they'll be expecting that. I'm using whiskey." So here is my take on the vegan BLT.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 8-ounce package of tempeh, sliced lengthwise into very thin strips
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey (Maker's Mark is delicious and eco-friendly, but I just used Jim Beam because we had some lying around)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil

  • a tomato, sliced
  • crispy green of choice (I used baby arugula because I felt like being a fancypants)
  • avocado (optional, but again, fancypants)
  • vegenaise
  • bread of choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a trey or large bowl, mix up the soy sauce, whiskey, syrup, and garlic, then place the tempeh strips into the mixture. Let them marinate for about 15 minutes while you slice up the tomato and maybe some avocado.

  2. Fry the tempeh in oil over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes a side, until browned. Meanwhile, you can toast the bread if you want it toasted (I keep my bread in the fridge, so I did this).

  3. Spread vegenaise on both sides of the bread, then pile on the tempeh, lettuce, tomato, and avocado, in that order. Chop that thing in half and eat it with some chips and a soda pop. A pickle would be a really nice touch.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Beer Flowers

I took this recipe for Cauliflower Pakoras and pretty much just changed out the water for beer.

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 2 cups of cauliflower florets, sliced 1/2 inch-thick (other vegetables such as broccoli could work as well)
  • /2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup beer (pilsner or ale preferable)
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, chili powder, salt, baking powder, and beer to make a smooth, thick batter. It should not be runny. If necessary, add more beer 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Mix well.
  2. Warm 1/2 inch of oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. The oil is ready for frying when a drop of batter quickly crisps.
  3. Coat the cauliflower slices in the batter, and carefully place them in the pan to avoid splashing the hot oil. Don't crowd the pan.
  4. Cook until golden on both sides, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Serve as soon as possible.



This cheese-like sauce from Veganomicon works well as a dipping sauce. I increased the amount of flour to make it thicker and more of a dip. I also added minced olives because I had some leftover olives to use up. Incidentally, I used the leftovers of this sauce in my breakfast burrito this morning. It was a good idea.

Cheezy Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of dried thyme (crumbled in your fingers)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • a few olives, minced (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk together the broth and flour until dissolved.

  2. Preheat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the oil and garlic in the pan and cook about 2 minutes, stirring often.

  3. Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper.

  4. Add the broth, turmeric, and nutritional yeast, and raise the heat to medium. Stir constantly for 3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles.

  5. Once the mixture is bubbling, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes, then add the lemon juice, mustard, and olives. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

my birthday is next Wednesday

In six days, it will be Wednesday, February 11th, and Sheryl Crow and I will both be another year older. I'll be 22; Sheryl Crow will be 46 (I looked it up on Wikipedia).

I don't know what you should get Sheryl Crow if you're going to her party or whatever, but here's what I want:
  • A job. I've been applying at local places here and there. The ones I'm really hoping for are line cook or waiter at Veggie Planet or clerk at Brookline Booksmith. I would be open to doing other things, but mainly I want to work at a place that offers goods or services that I believe are "good," like vegetarian food or books. I don't really want to work at an office and be unclear about what I'm helping accomplish, but I guess that would be acceptable at this point. Just help me be able to pay my rent and I will not have very much room to complain.

  • A small-to-medium amount of fame. I don't really want to have to be on TV or go to huge award ceremonies; all I want is for more people to listen to my music and/or read my poetry. I want to achieve the level of fame where knowing my name makes people feel hip. If you help me accomplish this, maybe by burning my CD for some of your friends, that would be really cool of you. I'd tell people you're cool.

  • A band. This would help me achieve the level of fame aforementioned. If you play a percussive instrument, you'd be especially valuable to me as a bandmate. Raya, do you still have your xylophone?

  • A robot servant. My first girlfriend got me an awesome little wind-up robot for my birthday the year after I broke up with her. It carries a little tray that I think I lost.

  • Negative-one heart. No heart, no feelings. It's simple math. Don't make me explain why this would be good.

  • A Maker's Mark and tonic with a lime. Come to Cantab Lounge for erotic poetry night and buy me this to drink, then maybe remind me not to use my phone until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breakfast Burrito

I've been doing this lately, when I wake up too late for a light breakfast but early enough to make brunch. It's really easy and good. This serves one because I wake up alone.

COMPONENTS:

  • a tortilla
  • Sweet Potato Hash Browns
  • Tofu Scramble
  • Black Beans

before you do anything, heat the tortilla on a big pan for like a minute. This will make the tortilla nice and pliant and a little crispy. That sounds contradictory, but it makes perfect sense--we call that a "paradox."

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

INGREDIENTS:

  • vegetable oil
  • a sweet potato, grated
  • choice of vegetables, diced (I do onions and red peppers, but you could probably just not even do any if you wanted)
  • a dash of cumin
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fry the sweet potato in the oil over medium heat. You could use the same big pan from the tortilla. Just make sure the shreds are all spread out. Leave it frying for a few minutes.
  2. Dice up the vegetables, if you didn't already. Stir the sweet potatos and let them fry for a few more minutes.
  3. When the sweet potato looks like it's starting to soften up, throw in the vegetables, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir periodically until it looks done, probably about 10 minutes. DURING THIS TIME...

Tofu Scramble

INGREDIENTS:

  • half a block of extra-firm tofu
  • vegetable oil
  • a clove of garlic
  • choice of vegetables, chopped (I do onions and either carrots or spinach. You'll probably want to use at least one vegetable in this, or at least I would.)
  • a pinch of thyme
  • a dash of turmeric
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Press the tofu to remove excess moisture.
  2. Crush the clove of garlic and fry it in the oil in a big pan or wok over medium heat. Leave the skin on the garlic--that keeps it from burning, and then you just take the whole thing out at the very end (I learned this from a cooking show I saw at Raya's house).
  3. Throw in the vegetables and fry them until, for example, the onions are starting to carmelize, if you're using onions--until they should look like they'll be done soon.
  4. Smash the tofu and stir it vigorously into the vegetables.
  5. Add the thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for just a few more minutes. ALSO DURING THIS TIME...

Black Beans

INGREDIENTS:

  • about half a can of black beans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Just cook some black beans in a pot.

TO ASSEMBLE:

  1. Put the sweet potatoes, black beans, and tofu scramble into the tortilla (I do it in that order because I find it the least messy). Make sure not to overstuff.
  2. Fold two opposite ends of the tortilla into the middle.
  3. Holding those ends in, roll another end over the stuff, to the opposite edge of the stuff.
  4. Fold everything, as is, on top of the remaining end. The burrito should be finished. Put some guacamole or salsa or something on it. Delicious.

I find it particularly therapeutic to cook myself a big breakfast. Big dinner and even big lunch has more of a stress factor because it feels like the day is going to end and be totally over if I don't finish this meal in time, but when I cook breakfast I feel centered. I feel like anything is possible today, so I might as well start by making myself some delicious food. I recommend this to anyone who doesn't have to get out of bed and immediately hurry to work or something.

I really need a job though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Come see me and Sam read in Cambridge this Monday

This Monday (Groundhog Day), Sam and I will be the featured poets at the Stone Soup Poetry Series, which takes place at the Out of the Blue Art Gallery starting at 8pm. We'll probably be starting our set at around 9, but you should come early and do the open mic unless you really have to be late.

This is the only local stop we currently have booked, so unless you want to pay us to read in your basement (doable, btw), here's your chance to be a part of the Two Sensitive Guys experience.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

my "Fuck Chicago" mix

I will admit that it's unfair of me to say, "Fuck Chicago," but my bias--based on the week I spent there to play The Green Mill with Sam--is so great that I reserve the right to make a mix and call it that. I could explain to you what happened in Chicago and why I feel this way, but I think the songs--well, they're more interesting. There are also some poems about it here.

*

FUCK CHICAGO

1. "I Don't Want to Get Over You"-- The Magnetic Fields

I guess I should take Prozac, right? / And just smile all night / at somebody new


2. "The Denial Twist" -- The White Stripes

So now you're left denying the truth / and it's hidden in the wisdom in the back of your tooth, you need to / spit it out in a telephone booth while you call everyone that you know / and ask them, "Where do you think she goes?"


3. "It's All Over" -- Willie Nile

It's all over / It's all over / It's all over / It's all over / It's all over / It's all over / It's all over now


4. "Favorite" -- Neko Case

Oh lie, I thought you were golden / I thought you were wise / Caught you returning to a house you caught fire / But I know that I was your favorite / and I said Amen


5. "Everything I Try To Do, Nothing Seems To Turn Out Right" -- The Decemberists

[The title pretty much says it.]


6. "Seymour Stein" -- Belle & Sebastian

Promises of fame, promises of fortune / L.A. to New York, San Fransisco back to Boston / Has he ever seen Dundee? / Won't he hire a limousine? / Seymour, send her back to me


7. "Just Like Honey" -- The Jesus & Mary Chain

I'll be your plastic toy


8. "Nobody's Fault But My Own" -- Beck

Treated you like a rusty blade / a throwaway from an open grave / Cut you loose from a chain gang and let you go


9. "I'm Free Now" -- Morphine

I've got guilt, I've got fear, I've got regret / I'm just a panic-stricken waste, I'm such a jerk / I was honest, I swear / the last thing I'd wanna do / is ever cause you pain


10. "Country Mile" -- Camera Obscura

Once again, I'll be the foolish one / thinking a blink of these lashes would make you come / Don't you worry, don't get in a state / I don't believe in true love anyway / Oh, who's been pessimistic now?


11. "Say You Miss Me" -- Wilco

I've been losing my mind / wasting my time


12. "Glory" -- Liz Phair

You are shining some glory on me


13. "Fly" -- Nick Drake

Please, give me a second grace / Please, give me a second face


14. "How Do You Think It Feels" -- Lou Reed

How do you think it feels / to feel like a wolf and foxy? / How do you think it feels / to always make love by proxy? / How do you think it feels? / And when do you think it stops?


15. "Pink Bullets" -- The Shins

When the kite lines first crossed, we tied them into knots / To finally fly apart, we had to cut them off


16. "Where You've Been Hiding" -- Architecture In Helsinki

I wrote you a letter in capital letters saying all that I care for / all that I care for is / where you've been hiding


17. "Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver)" -- Elvis Costello

I see a look of recognition, so well hidden in your eye / and your game show regulations, they just don't seem to apply


18. "Who's Your Girlfriend" -- Adam Green

People like me should not have a phone


19. "2:45 A.M." -- Elliott Smith

I'm going out like a baby / a naive unsatisfiable baby


20. "It Wasn't Me" -- Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins

I'll use a pop song to clear my name / Beneath the bridges of fame it's always nighttime / I'll end with a closer and say goodnight


21. "Every Little Bit Hurts (Live)" -- The Spencer Davis Group

Come back to me / Darling, you'll see / I can give you all the things that you wanted me for / if you will stay with me


22. "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?" -- The Mountain Goats

And alone in my room / I am the last of a lost civilization / and I vanish into the dark / and rise above my station


23. "Boxers" -- Morrissey

Losing in front of your hometown / the crowd calls your name / They love you all the same

*

When your last-track pick-me-up is a song by Morrissey, I guess you're in kind of a Place, huh? Well, so it goes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

James Lindsay

James Lindsay is one of my favorite local poets and has inspired my work quite a bit lately. He's the kind of poet who makes you believe that he's writing to you off-the-cuff until he suckerpunches you with his subtle imagery and wit. I just found his website and thought I'd post it. It's http://www.wasjameslateforworktoday.com/.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm re-posting this poem of mine from 365/365

I already posted this on the public and private 365/365 sites, but I thought I'd put it here too, since it's a pretty complete articulation of how I'm feeling right now, and then I'd just add that I'm home and I'll be blogging here again. There will also be a couple more vlogs on the Two Sensitive Guys blog.

*

Cozy

I want to be knitted alive into a body-sized cozy
made of organic fair-trade soy yarn
by very creative people who are skilled at knitting.

While these creative people knitted my cozy,
I would feel like I was being touched by the feelers
of large furry insects who were curious about me.

The cozy would wrap my body completely,
leaving no openings wide enough for anyone to see any of my face.
(To survive, my body could maybe develop photosynthesis.)

They could leave me in a hip art gallery
and hipsters could come and look at me lying there,
and I wouldn't have to worry about doing anything to impress them.
I wouldn't have to worry about doing or saying anything ever again.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This year I'm trying to write one poem per day.

A bunch of my friends and colleagues are doing it too. You can read them all here.

Again, all of my blogging this month will be done with Sam here.
It's mostly video blogs. We incorporated a puppet.