Dusting off the old BillyBlog to share this gem. Check it out:
Friday, May 03, 2013
Dusting off the old BillyBlog to share this gem. Check it out:
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Noche de Lluvia, San Salvador
(Aracelis Girmay, b.1977)
Rain who nails the earth,
whose infinite legs
nail the earth, whose silver faces
touch my faces, I marry you. & open
all the windows of my house to hear
your million feral versions
of si si
Seen on the R train, Brooklyn, May 2, 2012
Sunday, April 01, 2012
The following post appeared on BillyBlog five years ago, meaning that we are celebrating the silver anniversary of one of the greatest April Fools' pranks in the history of humankind. Well, certainly any I was involved with. This story has taken on a life of its own and, rumor has it, it might even make a cameo in an upcoming issue of The Occidental magazine. Best to look back at the original post here (and a follow-up here) to see the comments posted five years ago....
20 years ago today, Gary McMillan's truck was the special of the day. We were offering a "no money down sale with 3.9% APR financing". Lance Mendelow was the executive salesmen and Nathan Schmoll was very much alive. Brig was having an aneurysm and John Zacker was trying to tell you to "use your dorm influence" to get all of the cars out of the Newcomb lobby.
It's too bad John Zacker never attended one of our Bacon Burger Dog nights I think he might have at least enjoyed our company, if not our horrible cooking!
For those of you who were copied on this email I hope life finds you well. Erich thanks for taking so much heat for us.
Great times, time just goes by too fast,
It's a little hard to tell, but there's at least a half dozen steps leading up to the entrance, so maneuvering the vehicle there was no easy feat for Gary.
The truck was actually an exclamation point on what transpired as a collaborative effort by several dozen people, it seemed.
For inside the dorm, in the common room that housed the television in a large wooden box bolted to the wall, four cars were parked, with makeshift price tags. The windows of the
residence hall proclaimed that there was a sale on cars and that there was affordable financing available.
I know that one of the vehicles was Tino Ramirez' orange Volkswagen bug, and another was a shiny red pick-up belonging to Tim McLean:
I don't recall the other two vehicles' owners. [Update: But Rob does: "It will be forever etched in our memory! The other two cars where Carey Marks' Toyota MR2 and Kevin Hattori's Datsun B210."]
Many photos, I imagine, were taken,
but I haven't seen any in years
and I have included the few that Lance Friedman, Resident Adviser extraordinaire sent me just today. Until today, the only photos I had was this collage Lance had sent me:
Click to enlarge, if you dare. The top row features Paul Batmanis and Bill [ I thought his last name was Holmes, but now I'm not sure], next to which is a shot of me carrying a box of something past the Head Residents' apartment. Incidentally, Erich Marx, said H.R., did take a heat from the shenanigans of the
residence hall's 100+ residents. He was copied on the above-referenced e-mail and subsequently responded:
Wow. I just broke out into hives and a cold, cold sweat. I feel sick to my stomach and my nose has begun to bleed. All of sudden, I can't stop crying and I have the shakes. All of this because of you, Rob.
Wouldn't trade the memories for all the world.
Happy April Fool's. Hope you're all well. I live in Nashville now where another Newcomb-ite, Jennifer Krauss, also lives. She's the weekend news anchor on the local CBS station! Pretty cool stuff.
The middle row of pictures features a shot of Ann Blank and Rob (of the above-referenced e-mail) on the left and JohnMcGee and Lance Mendelow on the right.
The bottom row shows someone making an obscene gesture, I believe on Halloween, and another picture of Lance at the barbecue.
John Zacker, Director of Residence Life, meant well. He did the best he could concerning the challenges he faced with the students of Newcomb. This was a
residence hall that created a
If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Zacker demanded that Erich turn over the perpetrators of this heinous prank.
Residence halls are not zoned for vehicle storage, apparently. Erich came to his residents requesting the names of the persons responsible. Over twenty people put their names down, and we had to tell many others that they couldn't add their names to the list because they hadn't been there.
Were Rob, Tino, and I the ring-leaders? I don't recall it being that way. However, some evidence may cause one to believe otherwise.
It really was a collaborative effort. It was my idea to put newspaper under the vehicles in the TV room to protect against any oil leakage, and we composed a heartfelt note to Housekeeping on the chalkboard apologizing for the mess, but assuring them it would be cleared up by the end of the day. Mr. Zacker cited these two examples as evidence that we had been involved. In the end, after meetings and the patronage of another resident Owen Clayburgh, who took his share of the blame, and used his position as a student well-connected to the Board of Directors of the college, to what effect we may never know, the punishment was meted out.
[Update: Another photo from that night. Sure, I'm in it, as is Tino, but look at all the other guilty parties!]
Top row: Tino "Red Bug" Ramirez, Kevin "That's my B210" Hattori, Ann Blank, Yours Truly, and Tim "Red Pick-Up" McLean.
Bottom row: Owen Clayburgh, Carey "MR2" Marks, and Gary "4x4 on the Front Patio" McMillan.
I, along with Rob, Tino, Owen, and perhaps some others, stood up at a
residence hall meeting
"dorm spread" and apologized to everyone present for endangering their lives. Mr. Zacker pointed out that a vagrant could have entered the locked
I still think it was brilliant. I still think the "Newcomb Used Car Lot" is the stuff of legends, and I wouldn't have done anything differently. Sorry Mr. Zacker, if you're reading this, but that was the reality back then.
By the way, after we sincerely apologized to all our fellow residents at that dorm spread, we received a standing ovation.
Happy April Fools' Day.
UPDATE FROM APRIL 2:
So, can I get a witness? You betcha...
Marie Barber aka Mikey aka Micus sent the following reply, along with the best photographic evidence yet. This is the first I've seen of these in 20 years.
You losers. I have 8 lbs of investigational anti-psychotics in my office (don't ask), the kids are all in bed, and THIS is what I'm doing..... Damn you, Rob.
Bill, attached is my contribution to your memoir. Personally, I'm particularly fond of #2, Tino's "Cheap Piece o' Sh*t for 29.99" (the death machine that left me in need of the 8 lbs of investigational anti-psychotics in my office.....but that's another story for another time). Also, please note in #7, the sign on the desk behind the 3.9% reads "Lance Mendelow Executive Salesman". Yep, aim high. That's my motto.
Now stop tempting me, or I may just pull out the photos I'm saving to blackmail you all when you think of running for public office.
So, let's caption these suckers....
First, a better shot of the McMillan ride, perched up a set of steps in front of the Newcomb Hall entrance:
Ok, so there are at least four steps visible. I'm sure someone with a physics degree can extrapolate the number of steps by the angle of the camera vis-a-vis the position of the truck. Or someone can just run on over to Newcomb and count the steps for me. Needless to say, Tino's bug wouldn't have made it.
Now, the entrance to the showroom:
With some detail:
Here's Kevin Hattori's B-210. I've e-mailed Kevin, but haven't heard back. According to the alumni directory, he works about a mile away from me in Manhattan.
And here's the sophisticated price tag we improvised in the heat of the moment. And yes, it does say "Cheap Piece O' Sh*t $29.99". We were bold enough to roll four cars into a dorm, but not brave enough to spell the word "shit". Go figure.
And this last one, again, implies that Tino, Rob and I were behind this thing, but we were just whoring for the camera. Let me add that the wig I'm wearing got a lot of mileage. I am also wearing my famous Hawaii Fire Department fireman's coat. And I am wearing an Iron Maiden tour shirt from the March 31, 1985 show they did during their "Powerslave" tour. It was customized for the Hawai'i show only and is extremely rare. About six years ago, as I had expanded to a size far beyond the shirt in question, I sold it on eBay to someone in Italy for $91.00, American. It's likely worth much more now.
Needless to say, the shot Rob launched on Sunday morning had generated quite a fit of nostalgia. I've passed the link on to several former Newcomb residents and heard back from John McGee, also a New Yorker now, Yvonne (Grgas) Beck, who heard about the car lot and came to visit, as well as a few other residents of the old Newcomb Hall.
Let's see how this post grows!
"Hmmmm...is that a scratch in the paint?"
Posted by Tattoosday at 8:54 AM
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Readers of this blog in the past can attest to my love of the project and I bemoaned the end of it in NYC a few years back. Documenting the not-as-worthy Train of Thought series was less satisfying.
Imagine my excitement then, dear readers, when I saw this news item earlier in the week.
And then, I saw the first new poster yesterday on the D train:
Welcome back, Poetry in Motion!
He told us, with the years, you will come
to love the world.
And we sat there with our souls in our laps
and comforted them.
This from the MTA website:
A painter, sculptor, printmaker, novelist, and memoirist, as well as the author of two books of poetry,
Dorothea Tanning was known as a ceaselessly inventive visual artist first inspired by the Dada and Surrealist
movements of the 1930s. Taking to poetry only in her late 80s, Tanning, according to the Washington Post,
jokingly dubbed herself “the oldest living emerging poet.” Her poems appeared in theParis Review, The
New Yorker, and The Best American Poems of 2000. She published two volumes of poetry “A Table of
Content” and “Coming to the That,” which The New Yorker called one of the best books of 2011.*Born in
Galesburg, Illinois, she attended Knox College there. Tanning lived much of her life in Europe amongst a
veritable pantheon of 20th century artists. She was married for 30 years to the painter Max Ernst and
counted among her friends and sometimes collaborators such figures as Marcel Duchamp, Dylan Thomas,
John Cage, and Andre Breton. Her late-blooming love of poetry was further confirmed in 1994 when she
created and endowed the Wallace Stevens Award, which each year grants $100,000 to an American poet.
Artist Joan Linder created The Flora of Bensonhurst for the 71st Street subway station in Brooklyn.Best
known for her labor-intensive drawings that transform mundane subjects into conceptually rich images,
Linder has exhibited throughout the US and in Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Japan and Korea at venues
including White Columns, NY; the Queens Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Albright-
Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Kunsthallen Brandts, Denmark; and the Gwangju Art Museum, Korea. Awards
include residency fellowships at Smack Mellon Studios, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony; The Foundation
of Jewish Culture’s Ronnie Heyman Award; and a grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation.*Born in
New York, Linder attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received and MFA from
Columbia University and a BFA from Tufts University. Linder is an Assistant Professor of Visual Studies
Studies the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is currently represented by Mixed Greens Gallery
in New York City.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
When I first started writing Tattoosday, I may have had a couple of tattoos, but I was really very naïve when it came to the subject of the craft itself.
I learned very quickly, maybe within the first week or so, that one should never refer to a tattoo machine as a "gun". An anonymous reader chastised me over that one and I still bear the emotional scars of that mistake.
Another term that is thrown around a lot is "tats". Again, I started out thinking that it was okay, and was quickly called out by a reader.
In all fairness, you hear the words "tat," "tatted up," and other variations with fairly common regularity, so it's not as taboo as calling a machine, a gun, but I made a decision early on to use the extra syllable, and always say "tattoo". It just sounds better, and since I am writing posts that I assume will live forever, I figure I better use full and proper terminology.
Next up: who are the Meaty-Beaties, and why don't I like them?
Saturday, June 18, 2011
BillyBlog begat Tattoosday and, since then, BillyBlog has been my neglected alter-ego. But, there may be hope. I have decided to attempt yet another form of CPR, and it involves Tattoosday.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Friday, December 10, 2010
First spotted on the R train, November 2010:
"Life is a train of moods like a string of beads;
and as we pass through them they prove to be
many-colored lenses which paint the world their own
hue, and each shows only what lies in its own focus."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1892), "Experience"
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I found this on the bike path along the Belt Parkway between Dyker Beach Park and Caesar's Bay:
The following cards have been found previously:
The Ace of Hearts (March 27, 2010)
The Five of Clubs (February 20, 2010)
The Two of Spades (August 17, 2009)
The Ten of Diamonds (July 2, 2009 - found June 1, 2009)
The Five of Spades (June 18, 2009)
The Eight of Spades (January 6, 2009)
The Eight of Diamonds (December 5, 2008)
The Two of Hearts and the Queen of Spades (November 1, 2008)
The King of Spades (October 26, 2008)
The Ace of Spades (September 22, 2008)
The Jack of Diamonds (September 18, 2008)
The Six of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, and Eight of Clubs (August 10, 2008)
The Six of Clubs (July 21, 2008)
The Seven of Hearts and The King of Diamonds (April 24, 2008)
The Three of Clubs (March 29, 2008)
The King of Hearts
and the Three of Spades (February 28 and March 25, 2008)
The Ace of Diamonds (July 7, 2008)
The Jack of Hearts and Five of Hearts (July 19, 2008)
View the whole set here.
And here's the scorecard with the latest addition:
Diamonds: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
Saturday, July 24, 2010
"The gaunt trestle-work of the els brings twilight to miles of streets, the tunnels of the subways honeycomb rocks and rivers and skyscrapers. Their trains are the first things a good many New Yorkers observe in the morning and the last things a good many more remember at night."
From The WPA Guide to New York City (1939)
Click the tag below to see other Trains of Thought.
I spotted this one on the R train.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Spotted on the F train between 23rd Street and West 4th in Manhattan:
Spotted on the D train between West 4th in Manhattan and 36th Street in Brooklyn:
Spotted on the R train between 36th Street and 95th Street in Brooklyn:
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Spotted on the R Train this month:
My heart burns in flames of sorrow
Sparks and smoke rise turning to the sky
Within me, the heart has taken fire like candle
My body, whirling, is a lighthouse illuminated by your image
--Mihri Khatun ( 15th-century female Turkish Poet) from Poetry's Voice, Society's Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry by Walter G. Andrews, Copyright 1985. Reprinted by permission of Univeristy of Washington, Seattle.
Posted by Tattoosday at 3:31 PM
Sunday, May 02, 2010
April, they say, is the cruelest month. It also seemed, for personal and professional reasons, to be the longest month. And, as many may have noticed, we ran a little over and into May.
This concludes the second annual installment of the Tattooed Poets Project. The endeavor seems to have attracted more fans this year, and I am thankful for that.
But I do need to extend thanks to all thirty-three poets who participated this year, and tolerated my incessant badgering for photos, poems, and details.
And to the dozens (and I do mean dozens) of poets across the country and overseas to whom I sent emails asking for either tattoos or news of poets the knew with tattoos, I thank you for humoring me and the project.
The person who receives what I call the Muldoon Award is G.C. Waldrep. Last year, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon declined to participate saying "Alas, I've done the uninkable." The best response this year from an uninked poet was Mr. Waldrep's:
"What an interesting idea. But no, I remain untattooed. Except by the ravages of love and pain."
Thanks especially to Stacey Harwood at the Best American Poetry Blog who, from the outset, has been a champion and promoter of the Tattooed Poets Project. Theresa Edwards, of Holly Rose Review, not only contributed, but sent several people my way. Dorianne Laux also spreads the word like no one else and this year and Adam Deutsch not only was a return participant, he helped quite a few readers and participants discover our little inked poetry endeavor.
And I would be remiss if I didn't thank my lovely wife Melanie, who supports me and all things Tattoosday, even though it doesn't pay the bills. She recognizes how much I love to write about tattoos, and without her by my side, I wouldn't have had the strength and wherewithal to have made Tattoosday the blog it is today.
Those of you who have come to Tattoosday to see inked poets, I invite you to still visit, there's a dozen posts in the works documenting Tattoosday in Hawai'i, and then a long summer after that.
Before you know it, the Tattooed Poets Project 2011 will be upon us!
Here on the final day of the 2010 Tattooed Poets Project, we are featuring two tattooed poets (in two separate posts).
First up is Jeanann Verlee, who holds the distinction of being the one poet this year who met with me in person to discuss their tattoo. The poem below is dedicated to fellow bard Eboni Hogan, whose own contribution, not coincidentally dedicated to Jeanann, follows this post here.
for Eboni Hogan
She is the prettiest thing New York City
has seen since Christmas.
It is 2:38 AM. We have matching boots,
swirl cheap red wine between half-glossed lips,
jab bent forks into hard falafels.
The night is ready to end its shift.
A plump waitress wears the city’s tightest
electric-pink sweater, (a Valentine for her beloved).
Two Marines wink from February’s side of the glass,
a king cockroach lies wait in the ladies room sink,
the swordfish on the butcher block is looking for his gullet.
It is raining Merlot.
Our construction paper hearts, soaked
all the way through.
It’s 2:38 AM and I am stuffing her with confession.
She sucks the fat, licks her fingers.
I am gutted and we are ravenous, eating with our hands:
slurp, chew, gnash. Gluttons.
Soon, the bar and the second bottle are empty.
I watch her take the dull blade of a table knife
to her chest, (my jaw hanging loose like a broken
screen door swinging in a summer monsoon).
She slices straight through her breast,
breaks off two ribs, sets them on her plate—
blood rivering through the hummus.
She takes my hand, jabs my curious fingers
into the wound. I dig in hard,
all the way up to my elbow.
She doesn’t even wince.
The cooks across the room scorch
something that once was alive.
The pink waitress brings us each a free glass
of whatever wine is left and extra napkins
to mop up the pooling red spill
from our lips.
One of her tattoos, intertwined with her new book, can be seen here at Tattoosday.
Thanks to Jeanann for taking the time to meet with me, sharing her tattoos and poetry, and rounding up an exciting 2010 Tattooed Poets Project!
JEANANN VERLEE is a former punk rocker who collects tattoos and winks at boys. She is author of Racing Hummingbirds (Write Bloody Press, 2010) and her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The New York Quarterly, PANK, FRiGG, Danse Macabre, and Not A Muse, among others. An acclaimed performance poet who co-curates the weekly reading series Urbana Poetry Slam at the Bowery Poetry Club, Verlee has performed and facilitated workshops across North America. She was co-author and performing member of national touring company The Vortex: Conflict, Power, and Choice!, charter member of the annual Spoken Word Almanac Project, and is an ardent animal rights and humanitarian activist. She lives in New York City with her best pal (a rescue pup named Callisto) and a pair of origami lovebirds. She believes in you. Learn more at JEANANNVERLEE.com.
Here on the last day of the 2010 Tattooed Poets Project, we are featuring two tattooed poets (in two separate posts).
Eboni Hogan's poem below is dedicated to her friend and fellow poet Jeanann Verlee, whose own contribution, not coincidentally dedicated to Eboni, is above here.
Tabasco for Jeanann Verlee
We eat everything so smothered in Tabasco, it leaves our fingers ringing. When we share a plate, we do not have to accommodate the daintier palate by quartering off a sauce-free section with first-rate ventilation systems and plexi-glass. We brandish the little bottle furiously, haphazard and without warning. The poor falafel treads the screaming red lagoon on a makeshift raft of lettuce. I imagine that the red-head learned how to pronounce the items on the menu from her Greek ex-husband, who would be horror-struck by this sacrilege of tzatziki. From her tales, I’ve concluded that a man like him deserves nothing less than a good goring with a hummus smeared fork. Tonight we count the names of those like him. Display each one on the table top as evidence that our greatest mistakes were charmers with crooked teeth and bad handwriting.
It is Valentine’s Day. In the forty minutes it took me to ride the train to the West Village, I witnessed three separate occasions of women sobbing, yelling, or a frightening combination of both. I watched a girl, no more than 16, curdling on the uptown platform. She juggled an overstuffed teddy bear, a bouquet of plastic roses flickering like Christmas lights. Unexpectedly, she turned to the sheepish boy standing beside her, still obediently clutching her knock-off Vuitton in his thick fist,
and struck him once in the gut with the blinking bouquet with so much force, the lights in half of them ceased to twinkle.
The European family dining at the table beside ours finds our conversation far more compelling than their own. They must wonder at the strange notion of two women wearing black dresses and clunky silver rings dining together on a holiday meant for meant for lovers. Because we know that they are listening in, we don’t spare them the gore, layering in words like “detached,” and “hemorrhage,” and “depressive”. If they must know, we will give them full coverage, unabridged. They will learn how to stage a coup d’état in a cab that refuses the ride to Queens or Brooklyn or just up the block, study the way a sidewalk rampage can never be figured into travel time, commit to memory the occasions when tears came unexpected while grocery shopping or watching a particularly sappy commercial about rescue shelters or tsunamis or fabric softener. Catalog the moments when we’d wished we weren’t so good with words.
As I tell the story about the time I cried so hard on a flight from London to New York City, that the flight attendant secretly handed me a napkin cradling a sleeping pill, the European mother turns to look into my face as though she may have remembered being on that very plane with some weepy American girl fraying her eyes into black sores— but, no.
She is met with the narrowed glare of the red-head who speaks louder now, peppering their meal with terms like “fume” and “razor.”
It was in this very restaurant that I was dumped,
by the same man.
One might think that after the second rupture I might reconsider meeting the man for “dinner” and “conversation,” at least not without considerable re-enforcements.
A sock full of quarters,
A getaway car.
Our mouths are churchyards. There are no bells adorning the graves of the sleeping. Every coffin lid is raked in anguish, pink polish embedded in the grooves. The ghosts have been known to fly from between our teeth and take to the streets, only wishing to be held into flesh again. Tonight they stay put, ignoring the Navy boys roaming 6th Avenue, the lesbian couple monopolizing the only working stall, the employee bussing the plates before the last olive pit had been cleared of its meat. Tonight they will cause no spills, lose no friends. They will patiently wait an hour for the train watching the night’s lovers quarrel and kiss across the Manhattan bridge.
Thanks to Eboni for her contribution and for sending us four tattoos to be seen on Tattoosday here.
24 year-old poet, actress and Bronx native, Eboni Hogan, has performed in over 30 U.S. cities and facilitated workshops from refugee camps to prestigious universities. She studied theater at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is the winner of the 2010 Women of the World Slam Poetry Slam, the 2008 Urbana Grand Slam Champion and a two time representative of the Nuyorican Slam Team. She is published in the anthologies His Rib and Double Lives and recently released her first collection of poetry entitled Grits through Penmanship Books.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Yes, it's May, but we have two more days of the Tattooed Poets Project before we're done for the year.
When asked to submit a poem, Cody Todd said, referring to the tattoo he submitted (on Tattoosday, here):
"Sadly, I don't have any noir poems. I'd love one to explore a relationship between noir and poetry, even though I doubt it is possible. The early work of Larry Levis is noir-ish (e.g. "L.A. Loiterings" or "Fish") but I don't think it was his conceit to explore that relationship, even if it exists. The work of Bukowski, voluminous as it may be, comes from a kind of noir persona that the poet created for himself, but again, not really an attempt to explore the poetics, if any exist, of noir. I do have a weird poem here that I wrote in a woman's persona, and she came to me one night as a rather desperate and dark soul."
Portrait of child swinging on an old tire, tied to a tree. Portrait
of man hammering a stake into the earth. Portrait of wedding:
the space-eyes of everyone, happy as hell. Welcome to hell. Oh
portraits ringing in our memories like unanswerable telephones
in abandoned offices. Hello portrait, it’s me. I’m alone and still
thinking about you, portrait. Getting drunk alone. Lipstick has
to be refreshed after each glass. Don’t leave me alone, portrait.
I am almost dead, almost smoking another night away, almost
admiring the stars, wanting to eat the their own cold smiles.
Thanks to Cody Todd for particpating in another edition of The Tattooed Poets Project!