Thanks to Steve for sending this my way! And Happy New Year!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday night we received some free tickets to the first game of the Eastern Conference WNBA finals at Madison Square Garden.
Despite a friend of mine attesting that watching WNBA is "like watching paint dry," the Liberty mounted an exciting comeback in the fourth quarter and upset the conference leaders from Detroit (coached by Bill Laimbeer, which inspired older fans in the crowd to truly represent the Garden).
Shayna said it best "This is the most I've ever cheered in a game I wasn't playing". Her friend Max and his father, Jonathan joined us for the festivities. Our seats were up in the 300 section of the Garden, but we still enjoyed the event. Thanks to Ronny at Park Slope Day Camp for getting us the tickets!
The whole recap of the game can be viewed here.
Here's a "New York Minute" as the 3rd period ended:
And the final moments of the game. Try and hear Shayna yelling "That's my girl!" when her favorite Liberty Erin Thorne sinks some key free throws that seal the victory:
Friday, September 26, 2008
In years past, I have written detailed accounts of poetry readings that I have attended, thanks to some copious note-taking during the events.
Alas (and I do mean “alas”), composing a cohesive recap got away from me. Although I did post several of the videos that follow on YouTube [which are sadly in cyberlimbo, as the account has been "permanently disabled" due to some unspecified "copyright infringement" issue], I did not complete the following synopsis until January 2009. Unfortunately, the passing months surely diluted my memory of the event. Unlike many of my previous dispatches, this one is lacking in the mad scramble post-reading for poet signatures, which is always one of the things I love doing.
So, do bear with me as I wander back to September, when the financial crisis was still fresh news, and do my best to piece together the reading from my notes. It should be noted that a fresher, less-memory-gapped recap can be found here.
David Lehman, the Series Editor, welcomed us and gave his consummate introduction. He read Kathryn Starbuck’s “The Shoe” and his poem “On Humility”.
John Ashbery read his contribution to the volume, “Pavane pour Helen Twelvetrees,” and “A Worldly Country”.
My favorite part:
“Let there be no mistake: the fundamentals of our poetry are sound. The problem is not poetry but poems. The crisis has been precipitated by the escalation of poetry debt—poems that circulate in the market at an economic loss due to their difficulty, incompetence, or irrelevance.”
Next up was Ciaran Berry reading the BAP-included poem Electrocuting an Elephant, which recalled a photograph from Coney Island, circa 1903. He also read another poem of his called “The Parsley Necklace” and followed with another poem from the volume, “Light” by C.K. Williams.
Next was Laura Cronk who read a poem entitled “Having Been Turned Down.” She also read “Entering,” her poem from the BAP volume. And she concluded with reading W.S. Merwin’s contribution, “A Letter to Su Tong P'o”. Special bonus: hear Merwin reading his own poem on NPR here (right click/save to download).
Richard Howard followed with his reading of the poem in the anthology “The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Castor and Pollux”.
D. Nurske followed with his poem “The Gate of Abraham,” and Michael Palmer’s poem “The Classical Study (4)”.
Meghan O’Rourke, sporting nifty cowboy boots, started with Dean Young’s “No Forgiveness Ode.” She followed with her anthology poem, “The Window at Arles,” and another, which I believe was called “In Search of a Mission”.
Lee Upton wrapped things up by reading three of her own poems, including “Dyserotica,” “Omniscient Love,” and “Undid in the Land of Undone”. “Diserotica” ended with the wonderful lines “I know you don’t love me/but why do you have to brag about it?” The last poem was captured here:
She ended with reading Franz Wright’s “Passing Scenes (While Reading Basho)”
The reading ended, and I did my usual thing, scurrying about, collecting poet signatures in my multitude of anthologies. I didn’t catch everyone, but I was able to get autographs from most of the poets in attendance. As always, it was much appreciated, and I had a wonderful time. Once again, I would refer to the review by Kate Angus (referenced at the top of the post) as a complement to this recap.
It is raining this morning in New York.
Tonight I am going with Shayna to the New York Liberty - Detroit Shock WNBA playoff game at Madison Square Garden.
I anticipated yesterday that there would be no bike ride this morning (or this evening).
I am happy with this and am looking forward to the break from the bike.
I am back to my goal weight, and I owe a lot of that to, not the 41 days of cycling from my birthday on July 3 through September 12, but from the 44 additional days I rode through yesterday.
I knew yesterday that this journey had ended when I got back home from the morning ride.
I commemorated it with this photograph:
I'm smiling because: a) I'm tired, b) I'm proud, and c) I never quit (although I came close) and it was only the weather that forced me to end the streak.
Thanks to all who have left me words of encouragement and support while I completed this task. Had someone told me on July 3 that I would continue through September 25, I would have been skeptical. Have a great weekend!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Some time on Sunday, after 1 year and 13 days, Tattoosday surpassed
BillyBlog (3 years, 13 days) in hits. Currently at 71,173 visits
(compared to BillyBlog's 70,905), the next question is, when will
Tattoosday hit the 100K mark?
Sent from my mobile device
Posted by Tattoosday at 11:10 AM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I found this in the dark this morning while biking on Ridge Boulevard, in front of P.S. 185, between 86th and 87th Streets. Not only is it new to the deck, but it is an unusual card:
apparently from the deck of cards from a plane in the Emirates Air fleet.
The following cards have been found previously:
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:
Hearts: 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
Diamonds: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
J, Q, K, Ace
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
It's been a while since I listed what I heard on the BilliPod on the
way to work, so here you go:
1) "London's Burning" by The Clash
2) "Old School Hollywood" by System of a Down
3) An untitled three-minute improvised song by Pearl Jam from August
4, 2000, in Charlotte, North Carolina
4) "Thank U" by Alanis Morrisette
5) "On the Way Downtown" by Peter Case, from his album "Who's Gonna Go
Your Crooked Mile?". Case is one of my favorite artists and he is so
far below the radar that I am astonished whenever I meet anyone who's
even heard of him. He was lead singer of The Plimsouls, whose "A
Million Miles Away" was a hit in the '80s.
6) "Headed for a Heartbreak" by Winger. Yes, mediocre pop metal
ballads still roam in the nether regions of my music library.
"Mediocre" may be a bit harsh, but it quintessentially follows the
formula for the power ballad. The video is yawn-inducing. Unless you
think Kip Winger is "dreamy".
7) Bizarre, the second song from the Clash's album of singles:
"Rockers Galore...UK Tour". If you heard this, you wouldn't guess it
to be the Clash. You get a great idea of how reggae influenced the
Bookpeeping interlude: Richard Yates, "The Easter Parade".
8) "Going Mobile" from the Who. Off of Who's Next. Great song for a commute!
Best lyric: "Watch the po-lice and the taxman miss me!"
9) Holy crap. ANOTHER Clash song, "The Card Cheat" from the classic
album "London Calling". Weird to get 3 of 9 Clash songs, when I'm
shuffling 12,952 in all.
Bookpeeping update: it's not the Amazon Kindle, but something called
the "jetBook". Whatever it is she's reading, it's all in Russian.
10) "Honky Tonk Woman," the Rolling Stones staple, as covered by The
Pogues, from a B-Sides and Rarities collection. Weirdly, Joe Strummer
of the Clash was in the Pogues in 1991, but the song does not feature
him on vocals.
Getting off the subway at 34th Street...
11) "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Nirvana. Made famous by their
performance of this Leadbelly classic on MTV's "Unplugged," this is
the demo version from their With the Lights Out box set.
12) "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti. Yeah, the Rocky theme song. This is
on the BilliPod by virtue of a blog called "I Guess I'm Floating" and
a mix once available there called "IGIF Presents: Sound Tracks". While
walking from the subway, I feel somewhat inspired to go to work. Hmmm.
And a craving for a tall glass of raw egg.
13) "I've Got the Fire" an Iron Maiden B-side from the box set
"Eddie's Archive". It's a cover of an old Montrose song.
And the song ends as the elevator spits me out on my floor at work.
Links and clips may be added at a later date, time permitting.
Sent from my mobile device
Posted by Tattoosday at 9:09 AM
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
My pal Brian e-mailed me on Sunday to tell me that the author David Foster Wallace had committed suicide.
My initial reaction was one of sadness and dismay. What drives a genius to self-destruction?
There was some additional insight in Bruce Weber's obit for Wallace in the New York Times here.
But the more I thought about it, the less detached I became. Ask me what he's written, and I can name the titles. Ask me what I've read, and you'll get a blank stare. Weber refers to him as an heir to Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLilo. Therein lies the rub, DFW was a complicated writer and I have, sometimes, a difficult time getting into writers that challenge me above and beyond what I'm willing to be challenged by.
I maybe read the first story or two in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Nothing grabbed me and pulled me into the realm of Wallace.
So, I will quote two friends, who commented to me on his passing.
First, my friend Rebecca, who wrote, "I was shocked, horrified and saddened when I read about it this morning on the NY Times website. I read Infinite Jest in my late 20s, on my first trip to France. It was a life altering experience, and I am so sad he is gone. Gives further proof to the axiom 'only the good die young' ".
My Canadian friend Brian elaborated. He has had a deeper look into the soul of DFW, as a fan and collector:
"This is weird news (as well as unwelcome & sad) to me because I met him once, at Book Soup in LA, and liked him very much. Exhausted after 48 hrs without sleep, he was a very gracious signer: signing books, a poster plus a couple of origami promos for Infinite Jest that his publisher had handed out to store employees ... But the memory that remains is of neurosis; a highly neurotic personality that was practiced at appearing to be confident. [if he hadn't been exhausted, would I have noticed?] At the time I thought that I was over-imagining the issue, though I noted that such a roundabout personality trait (avoidance?) did explain his writing style of endless diversions from the stated topic. In the years since then I continued to follow his career with some interest, especially when he wrote personal, biographical pieces, about his youth as tennis prodigy... and a very dark, strange piece he wrote in an obscure NYC magazine called Open City (the kind of non-paying gig that successful writers avoid). This piece was about when he was packing for college at age 19, and how he suddenly had a flashback of a memory of being 8 or 9 and his father...shocking him [with some inappropriate gesture]. The piece went on about the ramifications of this buried incident (had he imagined it? was a possibility) and the strangeness of life generally. Reading the piece by pure chance--and it was published around the time of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, what a title---I wondered if it was meant to be fantasy, a projection, or if it was a memoir (the tone was elusive, as if DFW wasn't sure). Now I wonder again. And wonder what this means about the forthcoming movie of Brief Interviews---how truly dark it all seems now."
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Some recent clutter in my inbox, worth sharing with the BillyBlog audience....
Here's an overseas perspective on "Why rednecks may rule the world," via the BBC. Thanks, Mom!
Michelle Obama has a rabbi in her family. Thanks, Jon!
How I and my fellow Packer-fan New Yorker's have adjusted to Brett Favre wearing a Jets uniform here.
My young friend Emmett playing harmonica with a wedding band:
Friday, September 12, 2008
Not much is making me feel young these days. No pity, please, I'm merely 41.
But this morning I burned a remaining iTunes credit to get the new Metallica album "Death Magnetic," which drops today.
I just finished listening to the first track "That Was Just Your Life," and am feeling all "80's-ish".
I thought about illegally downloading the album for about a second, but I didn't want Lars Ulrich suing me. Plus, I can claim to have my original vinyl pressing of the band's debut album "Kill 'em All". My fandom runs deep.
Pre-release press info has been largely positive for the album that has been hailed by critics as a return to form. Amen to that. The first song is impressive, then Kirk Hammet's guitar solo hits, and it sears a smile across your face. The crispness and speed stir emotions that I haven't felt in twenty years.
"The End of the Line" follows with some great hooks and pounding rhythms, but I am no music critic, so I will just speak like a fan: it kicks ass.
So does "Broken, Beat & Scarred" and by then one assumes the whole album will be lung-searing metallic nirvana. I'm typing this on the train on my "BlackBerry" and I am smiling ("Show...your...scars!). James Hetfield's vocals are grinding and emotional. He doesn't sing "scars," he growls them, almost pirate-like, "scaw-ers". And the beat is relentless. Beautiful.
Then there's "The Day That Never Comes" which I heard previously, of all places, on "This Week in Baseball" a couple weeks back. Oh, how far we've come. To hear Metallica crooning as we watch the plays of the week was slightly surreal. This is their ballad-y song, the 21st century version of "Fade to Black". This is the song that will be getting (probably has already been getting) all the radio play.
It's still surreal to me to go to a Yankees game and have the pleasure of seeing Mariano Rivera pitch. One of the greatest relievers ever, what truly blows my mind is that his entrance song is "Enter Sandman," a Metallica classic that motivates 50 thousand people to sing along "Exit Light....".
Track five is the cleverly-titled "All Nightmare Long". Yesterday, a co-worker sampled four or five tunes online and dismissed what he heard, "The songs all sounded the same...". I liken such comments to someone who might look at a beautiful sunset and dismiss it by saying, "It looks just like the sunset yesterday". The point is, a casual glance may dismiss two views, or sounds, as similar, but that doesn't make them any less spectacular. And if you're a big fan of sunsets, each one is as beautiful as the next.
To beat this metaphor to death, the new Metallica album is a fistful of sunsets. Pounding, rip-roaring, ass-kicking, gut-wrenching beautiful sunsets that make your eyes and ears bleed.
Track six, "Cyanide," was also available as a single prior to today. It's a bone-crushing song (sorry, I'm running out of suitable adjectives). The musicianship on the song is phenomenal, Ulrich's stellar drumming, Hammet's surgical guitar, Robert Trujillo's throbbing bass, and Hetfield's catalog of Metallica lyricism. But Hammet's guitar work doesn't sound only retro,
it's fresh and brutal at the same time.
When "The Unforgiven III" started, I was skeptical. The sequel to the classic song a few albums back was forgettable. This version opens with a little bit of strings and the hint of the chord progression that are so familiar, and then it goes in a different direction. "How can I be lost
when I've got nowhere to go," sings Hetfield. It's an interesting exercise and I don't dislike it, and as I type this while I listen (a mobile review, for sure) that refrain of "How can I be lost...." becomes more haunting and the song comes to a crescendo of fulfillment as it builds into a
mega-blister of layered guitar artistry that carries it to the next level.
Ok, there are 3 songs left, and I'm getting off the subway. Hold on.
"The Judas Kiss" is the eighth track and, for me, it's all about Hetfield's razor-like spitting out of the lyrics like darts. And then comes some freaky distorted guitar work that sounds like nothing else on the album. Fast, fast, fast, until it sounds like the guitar is pushed to its limits. And then it recovers. And shreds some more. Just when you thought you'd heard it all on this album, Metallica gives you something extra.
The penultimate track, "Suicide & Redemption" is a nearly ten-minute blitzkrieg of instrumental metal bliss. Recalling the old days of obligatory instrumental tracks on the early albums (see "Call of Kthulu," for example). First, you think, they won't be able to pull this off. But not only do they pull it off, they pull it off, light it on fire, and trample the ashes. It's an apt title for the band's journey: they nearly offed themselves with underachievement in the late 90's and early 00's, and Death Magnetic brings redemption.
The album ends with the shortest track, which just hops over the five-minute mark. Having gorged ourselves on the instrumentality of the previous track, we are hungry for Hetfield's gravelly voice and he doesn't disappoint.
"My Apocalypse" is a vintage speed metal anthem, as fast as anything Metallica's ever done. It's a perfect coda to a brilliant album and destined to be a concert favorite, as long as the band can maintain its oxygen supply.
I am smiling as I type this. I am not a professional music critic. But I am a fan of a band that has drifted over the years and has just given its older fans a huge gift, a reminder of the band that we fell in love with and suffered with through our teen years.
I am a very happy, greying, headbanger this morning. And I have Metallica to thank for the feeling.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The following is a poem I wrote seven years ago, tomorrow.
COYOTE v. ROAD RUNNER, ENDGAME
Wylie E. Coyote slams into the wall.
There is a hint of fire and a puff of smoke.
I am too far away to hear the sound,
but his imprint is seared into the façade of steel.
Not to be outdone, the Road Runner
beep beeps with the world watching. That Road
Runner, he always has to outdo the coyote, so
he waits and comes in at an angle, knowing
the cameras are trained on him.
Well, that's it for ACME,
headquarters shaken, smoked, burned, then collapsed
like a Hollywood implosion.
The world preempts
its programming and turns to the Cartoon Network.
Nobody bemoans the coyote, though he started it,
all you see is his outline, burning.
Then, the reruns,
slo-mo, amateur video, still photography, from all angles-
there is the Road Runner, you can't see his face,
but you know, you just know . . .
All those years
of chase have taken their toll, and then, all he knows,
that damn coyote is gone, stealing the thunder,
only today he will not rise from the ashes
or step out of the hole, dusting himself off,
the road runner is a proud bird and he will have none of it.
The world is watching, cursing the coyote
so here he comes, beep beep, knowing this
is his last run. All we see is the fire
and the feathers flying, falling, phenomenal.
A split second of silence and the world as we know it
comes crumbling to the ground.
New York City September 12, 2001
©2001 William Dickenson Cohen
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Last night I dreamed of a poetry reading.
I was not reading, but I was in attendance.
I do not recall the reading itself, just the chaos afterwards, as I
scrambled to get books signed by the various readers.
I recall the faces but not the names of the contributing poets as I
picked them off one by one, adding signatures to my growing
autographed anthology collection.
My friend Jill's recent acceptance of my invitation to join me at the
New School on September 25 for the annual Best American Poetry reading
may have subconsciously triggered the dream.
Most memorable was the last autograph. I inexplicably had a
photography book that featured pictures of poets and famous actors.
The last poet I was seeking was chatting with someone when I
approached, and it turned out to be none other than Tom Cruise!
I knew he was in the book and asked him to inscribe it. He was
enthusiastic and very nice. Only afterwards did I realize I had made a
grave error. The book he had inscribed to me belonged to my friend
Brian, in Toronto. I was crestfallen, knowing that Brian would want
his book back, despite the inscription from Cruise to me. I don't
recall the inscription, just that it had a lot of exclamation points.
So what does this all mean? Not much, I expect, other than book
signings have been much on my mind lately, as the Fall in New York is
always thick with author events. I could easily, in theory, go to an
event every day of the week and still miss out. Case in point, the
night of the Best American Poetry launch, the great Polish poet Adam
Zagajewski is reading at NYU.
Brian and I have been emailing back and forth as I rub it in his face
that New York is far better than Toronto at gangbuster literary
events. The New Yorker festival schedule is out and Haruki Murakami
is doing a signing
with Alice Munro. That's like a Pearl Jam - Green Day concert, from a
literary sense. Insane.
As for Tom Cruise, I have no idea why he would infiltrate this dream.
I have not been thinking of him, but I recall going through several
pictures in the book with him, deciding which would be the best for
him to sign. We share a birthday, July 3, and I just realized, I
neglected to tell him that in the dream.
What was I thinking?
Sent from my mobile device
Posted by Tattoosday at 8:15 AM
Monday, September 08, 2008
Today BillyBlog is three.
Of course, by Blog Standards (whose, I don’t know), BillyBlog is middle-aged.
I don’t have a lot to say, other than thank you to all of you who come back and visit. My creative energies have really been focused on the spawn of BillyBlog, Tattoosday, which celebrates 1 full year of blogdependence today as well.
My big problem with BillyBlog of late has been the ambitiousness of its posts, many of which are still stuck in draft mode. This summer’s 41 Days on the Bike was relatively crisp and easy (although ultimately a bit tedious, at least to me).
I imagine, with cooler weather (still elusive at this point of the year), we may see a swing back toward a healthy mix between the two vehicles. But I can only follow my heart and my mind to take me where it goes.
My company has upgraded me to a BlackBerry Curve, which has one of those newfangled camera phone thingamabobs in it. That may prove a source of endless entertainment.
At 41, I try to be hip, although as Jolee notes, I often try too hard. Example: I recently snagged some sweet Ed Hardy sweat shorts at Bloomingdale’s significantly on sale and using a delightful gift card, courtesy of the BillyBlogMom. Jolee sayeth: “Those shorts are too cool for you, Dad.”
And so it goes.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
After all that drama, disregard the lot of it. The ground was still
dry at 10 AM, so I hopped on the subway, rode my bike 2.13 miles to
Houston Street, jumped on a D train at the Broadway-Lafayette Station,
switched from the D to the N train at 36th Street in Brooklyn, got off
at 59th Street and rode my bike another 1.89 miles, giving me 4.02 on
the day and the ground is STILL dry! So, there's day 67, and I have
egg on my face. Sorry for all the drama!
Sent from my mobile device
Posted by Tattoosday at 1:31 PM
Friday, September 05, 2008
Even if there are spots of sunshine (unlikely), I have decided to take the day off from the bike.
And with the streets clogged on Sunday with cyclists doing the NY Century Ride, I may take off Sunday, too.
I initially started with the intention, on July 3, of riding 41 straight days. On August 12, I achieved that goal and had logged 341 miles.
However, since then, I've tacked on an extra 25 days and today, Day 66, I rode the bike to work, bringing my cumulative total to 548.69 miles. I'm going to say 550 because it sounds awesome. If I biked 548 miles from home, I'd be somewhere just west of Columbus, Ohio by now.
Last week, my landlords returned from almost 2 months in Florida. While they were gone, I kept the bike down in the vestibule on the ground floor. Since they've been back, as they would not be happy with my bike "in their way," I've lugged it up and down three flights of stairs each day.
I'm not sure if this is related or not, but my back hurts.
I am tired. Although riding is not tiring, it is the act of motivating myself to ride, and the thought of getting up early to ride each day that mentally exhausts me.
So. Tomorrow will be a well-earned day off. I am also happy to report that the exercise and a low-grade cholesterol medication gave me a shiny healthy number that made my doctor tremble with glee. Today at my Weight Watchers meeting I weighed in at 180.6. The week before my birthday I was 188.2. My "lifetime" goal is 179. The last time I was below 181 was January 2007. I am beyond happy to be in this neighborhood again.
And whether it is Sunday, or perhaps Monday, I will get on the bike again and start riding. I don't anticipate 66 days straight again, but you never know.
Thanks for listening with your eyes.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
BillyBlog's first "official" post was of my two shining angels, three years ago. Trot down memory lane here. And two years ago here. And then last year, here.
Jolee is a seventh-grader. Shayna is a fourth-grade something.
My, how they grow!