Saturday, 21 April 2012

New Times New Forms....the Millenium is picking itself up off the floor and gazing around what does it see....?

Conundrums but hope. 

Abstraction may be the only way to make sense of it all.  Enjoy these abstract photos

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Memoirs of a Confused Spaceman #2

Savagery as art intellectualised

Is one of those spinning thoughts where supernovae are no more

Than eye candy

an explosion

Switched on by  dieties

With not much else to do but

Float and game and think about

Savagery as an art form as a

Chess piece perhaps a rook in the shape of a skyscraper

Humans reaching for the stars whilst staying

Firmly rooted to the ground in Terra

Deep in Terror          firm

Where savagery is a totem

Of art appreciation


In a gallery halogen light no more direct light

On the canvases because of the risk of photonic


Clutching a rail on the side of the spacecraft

My own totem

My only home so far out here in space

With a starfield as my canvas

Enveloped by stellar phenomena

Clothed in many colours we will never

Ever see on

This spacewalk this floating to a state where

Savagery is less of a political statement and more of

An artistic one free from ideology and sense

It makes sense of the anarchist’s symbol I painted on the back of my suit

It is my gesture to the stars

A small one

But I think God understands

September 2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Briar Rose and Spanking the Maid by Robert Coover

Robert Coover is probably one of the most accomplished writers over on the other side of the pond who tackles the myths of America in a cerebral, yet still accessible way, without falling into the trap of writing 250000 word epics about life in a small town, whilst trying desperately [usually in vain] to be the next Great American Novel.

 To my mind, playing around with fairy tales is therefore a perfectly logical way to tackle that illusive concept of The American Dream, and that is exactly what Coover does in the first of these two novellas.

 Briar Rose is a take on Sleeping Beauty, and although on the surface seemingly 'all about sex' in classic Freudian mode- many of the metaphors are laden with sexual references- it is actually much more than that.  Everything in it is a dream, but that only successfully helps one to get into the mind of the dreamer, and it is full of wider meaning.  Sleeping Beauty for example dreams of being defiled by her own knight's and castle keepers....a comment on the exploitation by Corporate Capitalism of us all, in the guise of it being in service to us, anyone? 

There is a rich seam of other, similar metaphors in this story which leaves one intellectually stimulated but not overly dulled. 

The second novella, Spanking the Maid is again, on the surface, a more straight-forward master and Servant tale.  The master sets tasks for the maid to do, which she tries her hardest to complete to perfection; but the slightest failing meets with punishment, and the more she is punished, the more she fails to meet the masters exacting standards.  The result is that she feels a growing freedom from her overbearing, almost impossible work obligations, and so actually starts enjoying the 'punishment.'

All of this interestingly has the opposite effect on the master, who becomes more and more involved in the technicalities of the punishment ritual to the point where you end up wondering in the end, just who is the master, and who is the servant.

In a number of ways this story reminds me of the excellent film `Secretary,' where the exact line between pleasure and pain and dominance and subservience, when analysed in more depth, actually breaks down into a web of mental and sensual complexity.  Where this tale differs from 'Secretary' though, is the almost suppressed denial of any overt sexual activity.  Even body parts, such as the maid's bottom, is given euphemisms such as her 'sit-me-down.' It's as if the protagonists are trying to put the act of sex into a box.  The process of that however, leads to ever more degrading acts and Coover conjures up some quite affecting imagery to illustrate that.

So, although a very competent and classical examination of sado-masochism and, expertly, rather successfully titillating as well, the novella still manages to be more than that.  Coover is investigating deep seated human characteristics of obligation, worship, obsession, denial and the limits of sexual pleasure we all, deep down, are fascinated with exploring.  To my mind, he pulls it of brilliantly without any pretension, and leaves food for thought long after the story is finished.

Coover is now being recognised as one of America's greatest writers, and not before time.  He has always struck me though as more of a Eurocentric writer than an American one, and I think these two novellas illustrate that aspect of his canon perhaps more than any other.  If you are new to Coover though, this neat volume is as good a place to start as any and well worth a read.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

jazz workout poetry black keys white screen movement #5


life through music sketch

a life in music

plonk a world out of a keyboard

surf emotion through a keypad


not for the stars but


a sod of earth

find a musical scale

on which to weigh

your ounce of blood

and soil.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Medical Services, Hermosa Beach CA.


and so you come to me like I’m the doctor

oh yes your dispenser of comfort services

your veritable protector of the lame and there

you shine

as if the palm trees are offering you a personal service

a service of shade specifically designed for you


you make no bones

you declare

that all the city roads were built for you oh yes

to carry you my way on hyper-heated pavements cast with exclusive carriage rights

for your inflated, corrupted heart oh yes said without rancour

two skipped eye lash flickers the last Days of Succour

      no irony utter candour take this not that:

Me: mad flash wheeled dog weed euro-trash.

You: Texan Rose electrolyzed chrome neon pink

paint job galvanization anti-rust guarantee


once we sat rotating on a carousel in a car shaped like a tea cup oh yes

a hand picked rose Sung yellow sheet metal small white daisies templated

on thin curved steel from Allentown PA a nice battered riveted plate

a long way from east coast cloud and grime and we are next to a spinning,

grinning Dumbo

The simple velocity was enough to bind me to you, oh yes

simple times convex emotions whirling us in some

Carthusian orbit observe

Me: The Denialist a lost uncertain superhero looking for a

comic strip to haunt.

You: the wanton hedonist

looking for

a safe house


a warming glass perhaps oh yes

of Merlot to wash down the pills


you come          to me


I            am



the weave and stagger of a saxophone thick in the hot desert air straight out

of The Mojave



and you hang on every note whilst still fingering your keys

and I saw you there in

The Salamander sat at the bar,

smooth legs and denim spray on shorts men transfixed by a red wet look bra top

with dykes flitting at your elbows wishing plotting

you laughing oh yes glittering giggles aloof but wanton snickerings

full on lips stretched tight

over expensive teeth that got you that part, you know the one oh yes that one

in that TV mini-series a big break from the skin flicks in beach houses

on Hermosa Beach and villas hired by the hour in

Santa Barbara and lock-ups over in Watts



I knew of all that but you knew you could rely on me to keep it quiet

and oh yes I’m watching you now with my lazy eye

as you stagger-swagger with diabolical intent to soul- steal

from the already sad and depleted to filch and chew indolent senses

and why not oh yes










still your erstwhile dispenser of remedies for the maladies

clawing at your brain

me oh yes all shiny spic-and-span paint on new world grin learned well

from knowing colonialists slapped on with skill across old world lips given extra dimensional interest by European louche and you

dizzying your senses bug glass black eyes

oh yes

telling me you hate daylight and bougainvillea and

garden lions you need me to shroud you and

make the sun go away maybe a few weeks in

the mountains a timber lodge play acting at being

a nice husband and wife with regular jobs

shop in Big Bear City remember East Cinderella Drive?

Perhaps pretend we are out of Fort Smith AR

or is that too parochial maybemaybemaybe who knows

but it’s not no way and is it not obtuse to be wondering if maybe

perhaps somehow there’s many a million like us right now ensnared deep within this

metropolitan cage?

No doubt oh yes on street light aluminum barbs and concrete pegs and

razor sharp roadsign devices designed to extract contrition oh yes


in a city that wouldn’t be here if not for a fantastic thirst

so go ahead return home where all your drugged trajectories end

like a badly fused bomb dropped on expectant

civilian populations oh come nuclear heat please do come

when is it going to be me when is it going to be me


Throw your keys on the kitchen counter.

Demand OJ laced with Smirnoff.

Bark an enquiry about where the fuck is your Halston bikini.

Coming to me after a forty-hour AWOL jag

as if I’m the doctor your own little book of

calm a good man in a storm and


Spilled purse by a burnt out toaster next to

an erratic splay of over-ripened bananas:

cellphone credit cards Rizlas ancient battered

tin of grass packet of Moroccan small red box

of E’s condoms all of your own remedies you don’t need

me fuck me study the storm clouds rolling in off of the Pacific oh yes

your wish of vanquished sunlight to be granted

by dancing electric weather so:

go pick your keys up from the driveway I haven’t made it hard

for you I

haven’t thrown them

into the bougainvillea for example and I have emptied your

purse in the Roadster on the passenger seat

I haven’t made a mess so:

drink your screwdriver then cruise where ever you wish,

smoke weed on Sunset seeing multiple lanes

and shimmering bars and

just get out of here

not even the allure of those tight

negligible hot pants can make me forgive

not anymore just get out of here

and this time stay away stay distant find another cosmic state

get lost in Paris paint in Bruges get your feet tattooed in

Casablanca dive into Venetian canals late at night bemuse

the Caraberieri just go your own way erase me from digital awareness

coming to me,


I’m the doctor.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Personal Banking



There’s a demon on my shoulder

and I tell It to fuck off quite a lot

but it stays there, like a blemish

in some faded movie. I am aware

now that its strength lies not in a

specific geographical location,

but in its mental hold; it is like

an old friend who keeps calling

and nagging and you oblige and

do as It says, but screw up and

end up in a world you do want

to be in.

And you curse.

And you swear.

Swear about self-will,

but know- come the call- you

will do it again.

And other controls...

Like the mind zaps, you know, like:

‘I manage You. Only I can

direct You in What To Do.’

And 99% of the time it’s right. It wins.

Then It laughs.

And then it struts along my shoulder

doing some bizarre disco dance

And then it crouches and hisses

And once again, I curse politely

And I say:

‘but we have no contract; I want to

play no more part in the continuance

of this circumstance.’

And then of course the cackles grow

to crackles of spit and flame. I am

told I do not have the proclivity

for change:

my angel is skewered, manacled

with industrial chains and the demon

is laughing in her face:

on the edge of hell in sweat,

limbo dancing.


I don’t give a shit.

I do not care anymore for Its hollow


It is in error, it has wrong stepped.

It’s time is up.

One day.

One day soon.

And no, really, I won’t gloat when

the bastard reaches Its nemesis...

or maybe...its nadir...

…I am brandishing my shiny

new chain cutters, the first step.

And for one thing I can be sure, when

It’s own fire is turned upon It, I sure

won’t be reaching for

the fire extinguisher.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Pursuit of Truth within Modernism

Modernism is that most ubiquitous yet at the same time, paradoxically, an elusive term.  Many people believe they know what it means, but pushed to define it, they soon flounder.  Isn't it to do with 'being up-to-date?' Well, not really.  In that way, the term is very much misused these days- we say we live in Modern Times, when by the real definition of 'modern,' we don't [well not in the West anymore, anyway].  Modern as a word, has become the victim of it's own essential conceptual power, practical application and  subsequent over-use; it is used now, still, in the place of the word 'contemporary,' when that latter word is a more accurate verbal describer of our times.

Modernism emerged in the 19th century as a volatile,  multi-faceted movement- it's constituent thinkers and practitioners were often at war with themselves as much as the outer world establishment they were actively challenging and opposing- that developed out of the Enlightenment, taking on a very base, practical Materialism as the foundation of its artistic and political agenda and, that was an important aspect of modernism: it's intent to synthesise both art, and politics.

Before the immense economic and social upheavals of the 19th century industrial revolution in Europe and North America, art had been a very codified activity.  From the building of the great cathedrals, to the mannered art of the Renaissance, through to the portraiture and Arcadian landscapes of the Regency period, the artist/artisan had had a prescription to work to; the end result, whether it be a stone finial or a large, usually biblically based wall painting, was achieved within set technical parameters, social mores and expected output.  The skills were often handed down from generation to generation, the end result measurable within set, pre-conceived ideas of 'correct' aesthetics and acceptable subject matter.  'Taste' was a veritable, definable even quantifiable arbitrator of human assessment.

Modernism set out to dismantle this century's old idea of taste and 'acceptable' art.  Modernists believed that art could be taken out of it's cultural context and the human condition expressed in a pure, abstract form, and it could be practised by anyone.  In terms of conventional, visual fine art, the invention of photography obviously aided the cause for the acceptance of abstract painting into the mainstream-still life's and convention portraiture became rather lame artistic pursuits when photographs could do the same job [albeit crudely of course at first].

And so Modernism inevitable developed it's political profile and agenda; it became to symbolise a particularly egalitarian and then socialist movement.  It was of the people for the people; we were all artists making our own unique impression upon the world regardless of class, colour or creed, and although this may at first appear to be the celebration of the individual above all else, it proved more sophisticated than that, in that it believed in the erosion of class boundaries, the elevation of the lowliest of men to greater heights, and the demotion of the highest of men- in particular those who had the temerity to place themselves in the position of having the right 'taste'- to lower levels of greater humility.

Modernism set out to be the Great Leveller and to a large extent, it succeeded.  It's power and reach rumbled on into the sixties, expressed perhaps most completely [and brutally] in the monolithic social architecture of that period.  But we are hardly in modern times now. The cult of the individual sans community commitment has our society in a vice-like grip; contemporary art is seen as 'post-modern' now, which means it is arch, knowing and more often than not, cynical.  Modernist purity of thought, action and art in all it's holistic glory and thorny confrontation has all but gone underground, and I believe that is a great shame. 

But surely, as our currently unsustainable economy and society teeters ever more on the edge of collapse, it's day will once again return....