Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

R.I.P., Ken Nordine

February 23, 2019

Ken Nordine, a voice you may recall from “Word Jazz,” a staple on NPR for years, has left the studio. He was 98.

A baritone storyteller who began with voiceovers on radio and TV, Nordine would go on to collaborate with Tom Waits, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and others.

He once said that the goal of his poetry was to “make people think about their thinking and feel about their feeling, but even more important to think about their feeling and feel about their thinking.”

I think he succeeded. Whenever I’d hear that impossibly deep voice softshoe out of my radio and into my head, I’d stop whatever I was doing and pay attention. They’re nodding and yessing and popping their fingers at Next World Coffee this morning.

The Pod People

April 8, 2016

OK, I’ve been threatening to resurrect the Radio Free Dogpatch podcast for a while now, and the stars finally came into proper alignment this week, so here we go.

For the first time Radio Free Dogpatch is not a solo effort — my friend and colleague Hal Walter joined me for a chat of about 75 minutes that I boiled down in editing to just over an hour.

RFD-BugCall it “Two Dudes Mystery Theatre.” We talked about the passing of poets Jim Harrison and Merle Haggard; Hal’s autistic son, and what it’s like trying to do creative work while raising a child who is not “neuro-typical”; and cooking.

For anyone who’s interested in the nuts and bolts of this Frankensteinian project, we chatted via Skype (Hal lives in Custer County, Colorado, while I’m in Albuquerque). On my end I was using a Samson C01U USB condenser microphone and an old pair of Bose earbuds plugged into an equally old iMac; Hal went even lower-tech, using a $50 Kindle Fire and some Apple earbuds, the kind that include an inline mic’.

I recorded our conversation using Ecamm’s Call Recorder, then split the convo into two tracks and dragged both into Apple’s GarageBand for editing. Once the thing was more or less the way I wanted it, I uploaded it to Libsyn, which hosts RFD and sends an RSS feed to iTunes.

During our ‘cast I promised to provide links with more information about some of the topics we discussed, and here those are:

Jim Harrison

• Tom McGuane’s “Postscript” in The New Yorker.

• Mario Batali recalls mealtimes with Harrison in Time.

• Jimmy Buffett bids a fond adios to his hermano on Facebook.

• Doug Peacock on Harrison and the art of friendship at The Daily Beast.

Merle Haggard

A recollection from Patrick Doyle in Rolling Stone.

• NPR’s “Fresh Air” reprises a 1995 interview with the outlaw country legend.

Cookery

• The food of Apulia, from Florence Fabricant in The New York Times.

• Her recipe for orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula (being a barbarian, I add hot Italian sausage).

Final notes

If you find yourself interested in Hal’s writing, you can visit him at Hardscrabble Times (yeah, it’s been a while since he updated the ol’ blog) or order up one or more of his books (check the link in the sidebar).

Meanwhile, let us know in comments what you think. It’s a little rough around the edges, but so are we. Happily, the podcast can be improved.

Nuts

February 11, 2016
Not exactly the Battle of the Bulge, was it? Unless you count the bulges at the portly patriots' American-flag belt buckles.

Not exactly the Battle of the Bulge, was it? Unless you count the bulges at the portly patriots’ American-flag belt buckles.

Could the Battle of the Budgies be coming to a peaceful resolution?

The Oregonian reports that the last holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are ready to give themselves up, and that their patron saint, Cliven Bundy, was snatched up in Portland and faces charges from the 2014 debacle that triggered this whole clusterfuck.

Perhaps as they continue to enjoy the hospitality of the State at another venue these small fellows can take solace from a Longfellow, translating Friedrich von Logau:

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;

Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.

 

Got them Suburban Snowsick Blues

May 12, 2014
It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

The weather has been, shall we say, unsettled.

One minute a fella’s cycling around and about wearing little more than a bit of team kit marinated in sunscreen, and the next he’s huddled over a furnace grate in a snowmobile suit, Ruger Mini Thirty locked and loaded, ready to repel a terrorist yeti raid on his bacon and beans.

I made my preparations on Saturday, whipping up two steaming tureens of Southwestern fare, the first of a pork-and-potato-laden green chile stew and the second of pinto beans with onion, garlic and chipotle chile. To say the atmosphere has grown heavy indoors since would be an understatement of epic proportions.

The weather wizards were shrieking about inches and feet of white stuff, but this latest resurrection of winter proved to be not so much of a much. What little we got was heavy and wet, to be sure, and at one point I had to venture out with a broom to flog it off the tender branches of the young Canadian red cherry in the back yard.

This morning we have gray skies, temps below freezing, a stiff wind, and flurries, which is to say it’s May in Colorado. It caused me to compose a protest song in the style of Mr. Robert Zimmerman, though it’s tough to be musical without guitar, harmonica or talent. Still, I had a whang at it in an email to a friend and colleague in the mountains.

How much snow have you got there?
They said we’d get it everywhere
But mostly, down here below
the worst was that the wind did blow

It sucked, actually
Real cold
Movin’ t’Arizony

(squee honk blaat hoot snort honk twee)

 

The summer grasses remain

November 12, 2013

I neglected to post something yesterday about Veterans Day, thinking I didn’t have anything fresh to say, and finding the outpouring of social-media thank-yous to the military slightly irksome. I never served, but if I had, I expect I might not enjoy being pandered to any better than I would being ignored.

Like Charles P. Pierce, when I was a squirt I didn’t know anyone whose father was not a veteran. Since the old man was career Air Force, we mostly knew the kids of Blue Zoomies, but in the course of affairs we would meet others; sons and daughters of soldiers, sailors, Marines.

dad2We’d hear the tales secondhand (none of the dads I knew bragged to kids about his service, so the kids bragged for them). This one was at Omaha Beach, that one at the Battle of the Bulge; this one got shot down in a B-29 after bombing Tokyo, that one flew unarmed Gooney Birds out of New Guinea.

It all sounded really cool, especially while consuming a steady diet of war movies at the base theater, like “The Longest Day,” “The Dirty Dozen,” or “PT 109.” And then we got a little older, and a little smarter, and we came to realize that going to war involved a strong probability of getting one’s arse shot off.

We realized that we never got to hear kids tell about their dads who didn’t make it back, because those kids died unborn with their would-be fathers, figments of an unrealized imagination. And we didn’t get to hear about the men who returned from war damaged in body, mind or spirit, or meet them; not until our own war, Vietnam, came along.

Books like “All Quiet on the Western Front” took on new meaning. And there were others, like “Dispatches,” by Michael Herr; “A Rumor of War,” by Philip Caputo; and “Everything We Had,” by Al Santoli.

In “Narrow Road to the Interior,” Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō (1644-94), following a visit to the ruins of Yasushira — and riffing off a line from the Chinese master Tu Fu about how war had left “the whole country devastated,” a place where “only mountains and rivers remain” — wrote:

Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers’
imperial dreams

In “The Poetry of Zen,” co-author Sam Hamill calls this poem “a brilliant indictment of the stupidity and cruelty of war,” one that reminds us how little we have learned over the millennia. How does one say “Thank you for your service” to the grass?

By seeing to it that subsequent generations get to spend as much time as is humanly possible enjoying the sunny side of it, I suppose.

Peace to those to served, and especially to those who never came home.

‘These rulers, so cruel’

October 11, 2013
"The Poetry of Zen," compiled by J.P. Seaton and Sam Hamill.

“The Poetry of Zen,” compiled by J.P. Seaton and Sam Hamill.

I’ve been reading a little poetry of an evening, much of it from the collection “The Poetry of Zen,” compiled by J.P. Seaton and Sam Hamill, and recently stumbled across a couple works that, alas, confirm my suspicions that the assholistic Reign of the Morons Charles P. Pierce has been following so assiduously is nothing new.

The first is “Bad Government,” from T’ang dynasty poet and painter Kuan Hsiu (832-912):

Sleet and rain, as if the pot were boiling.

Winds whack like the crack of an axe.

An old man, an old old man,

at sunset, crept into my hut.

He sighed. He sighed as if to himself,

“These rulers, so cruel. Why, tell me

why they must steal till we starve,

then slice the skin from our bones?

For a song from some beauty,

they’ll go back on sworn words;

for a song from some tart,

they’ll tear down our huts;

for a sweet song or two,

they’ll slaughter ten thousand like me,

like you. Weep as you will,

let your hair turn white,

let your whole clan go hungry . . .

no good wind will blow,

no gentle breeze

begin again.

Lord Locust Plague and Baron Bandit Bug,

one east, one west, one north, one south.

We’re surrounded.”

The second is an untitled piece from the mythical Han Shan, an eighth-century Chinese construct I first heard of via Jack Kerouac in “The Dharma Bums”:

I stand here and watch the people of this world:

all against one and one against all,

angry, arguing, plotting and scheming.

Then one day, suddenly, they die.

And each gets one plot of ground:

four feet wide, six feet long.

If you can scheme your way out of that plot,

I’ll set the stone that immortalizes your name.