Up 9. Moved some plants for Bree. At E77 around 11:30, read James bio and wrote a long message to a listerv (about sexual impropriety in the UCLA phil. dept.). Maybe not the greatest use of my time. Came home, napped and finished the James book – which is not quite the “appreciation” the jacket copy suggests. Dhondy, who knew James well in the 1970s, presents him as complex but rather self-serving, and neither as simple nor consistent in his views (on revolution and Black Power, among other things) as is presented by those who drop his name. I should read the work itself, at least some essays, but when? Moved more plants, went back out about 7:30, first at E77 and then (after the blues trio started) to Starbucks, to write Black Box Recorder piece I’d promised for HiLobrow. Not deep, but pretty smooth sailing – wrote 600 words, cut it to 500. Done by 11, didn’t stay up long after I came back.
Up in the middle of the night for a while, to no effect – though I did write to Dan Clucas about the possibility of a show in Pasadena in January. Up for good around 9, got out before 11 – realized I’d forgot the C.L.R. James book, but it didn’t matter b/c I ran into Ken L. and we chatted on the train. Which wasn’t running local, so it took a while to get to LIC. Spent 1:30-6 at Communitea. Watched a 10 min. intro video on Scrivener (which I’m using, but in an ad hoc way), and imported the first 3 sections of the intro therein, polishing a bit. They’re pretty good, but need more fns. Started to get back into the next section, in a limited way – feeling resistance. Read a bit of Ann Lauterbach (no relation to Ken, I’ve asked) somewhere in here. Called my dad when I left. Took train to Chelsea for Peter Kotik’s S.E.M Ensemble concert at Paula Cooper Gallery. Good program note here. The Cage was an hour of overlapping solos, w/ performers scattered through, moving around, and sometimes leaving the gallery space – as I told Bree later, if you didn’t know it was an avant-garde performance, you’d think you were in the dayroom in Marat/Sade. Kotik’s own piece was a somewhat monotonous setting from the early ‘70s of Stein’s “Composition as Explanation” (the same essay David Greenspan did as a memorized monologue a couple years ago) – a bit like plainsong, with a fairly attractive, even consonant flute and/or trombone obbligato. Julius Eastman’s Macle involved Kotik and three other singers vocalizing (screaming, mumbling, with some passages of discernible text) in rough unison, with a big finish of the three younger members rushing around the gallery yelling “Take heart, take heart…” while Kotik, in his sixties, collapsing on a yoga mat and quietly reciting some final text. I should study up on Eastman. Saw Steve Silverstein; he pointed out Phil Niblock. Home; cold. Listened to an episode of a reasonably well-regarded “intellectual” podcast, which I won’t name – was genuinely surprised by how shallow and smug it was, on both sides of the conversation. Already past midnight when I got back, didn’t have the fortitude to read. Bree still up, related her travails at the annual building meeting (she lost a vote about our door numbers). Lights out 12:30.
[Colin Newman, “Alone on Piano” to Ray Stevens, “Along Came Jones”]
Woke up at 7:30. Paid a parking ticket from Peekskill. Realized that I’d blown off calling into jury duty Friday. (It’s too late. Not sure what consequence to expect.) Went to E77 around 9. Finished the Hiss book – interesting thoughts on urbanism and landscape planning, but the rah-rah Ted-talk quality of the exposition got to me. Daybook – had a couple of actual ideas for short poems, so worked ahead. Read 2nd section of Lauterbach, a long lyric essay called “Task: To Open.” Roughly equal doses of: reflections on her alienation from some recent poetic trends, not to mention social media; glosses on Emerson; some fairly de rigeur suspicion about reason/rationality – and a couple of stunning passages of vivid imagery/distributed attention, esp. p. 71, that justify the enterprise. Came home, started reading Farrukh Dhondy, C.L.R. James. (I fell so far behind on my self-imposed quotas of reading prose and poetry last month that I feel like getting at least up to, if not over, my usual pace and the time devoted to my “reading life,” which feels in some way at least as important as doing the same with writing.) Anyway – I know so little about James, really, that it seems like getting the shape of the life will help me decide what to read; this author seems very invested in James’ non-rejection of, broadly, the West (more narrowly, English lit + public school/cricketer values) despite his Marxism and advocacy of colonial self-determination. W/o knowing other secondary literature, I’m suspecting that this is only one way of viewing his work.
Woke up early, got out by 7:30, did poetry daybook, wrote up some comments on the Pop Conference papers prior to the next round of voting. Came home, read a chunk of Hiss and napped 2-4. Did a few things around the house, went back out at 5:30, dealt w/ some email at E77, started reading again, but left when I realized that it was open mic poetry night; moved on to Café Bene, kept alternating between reading and doing this and that online. Came back while Bree was out, didn’t do much for a while but eventually listened to Jean Carroll, Girl In a Hot Steam Bath (one of the first stand-up comedy albums by a woman), filled the new “book”case with CDs that have been sitting in piles in the bedroom, helped Bree put some things away and replace a curtainrod that had fallen down. Listened to some of the rough mixes – should send to the rest of the band. Stayed up to almost 2, not doing anything useful. May have forgotten something, but overall a dithery day – didn’t write, should have tried harder to finish Hiss so I can move on.
Ingrid Monson, Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction
Alexanger Kluge, Learning Processes With a Deadly Outcome
Jonathan Gould, Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life
Raymond Smullyan, The Tao is Silent
Mark Tucker, Ellington: The Early Years
Wendy Lesser, The Amateur
Clifford D. Simak, Project Pope