Up at 7, dithered online. Out no later than 9, spent a while at E77, redrafted graf on writer’s/publisher’s share, ran into C.D. Clifford. Read most of a chapter on Touch of Evil on train to LC. Worked a little bit nearby, then to the library. Got going about 1: another graf on publishing; day’s output around 700 words, plus a little drafting of the next graf. Section stands at 1660 words, w/o notes; would like to bring it in under 2000, and I have 2-3 paragraphs to go, so there may be more cutting. Left at 7:30, wrote daybook poem on train and read noir book, got home about 8:30. Put on Ellington (I’m up to 1929 – there’s a curiosity called “Who Said ‘It’s Tight Like That,” credited to Ellington/Mills, w/ a Cootie Williams vocal). Kept on w/ noir – 2nd ½ is comparative, w/ a slant toward tying both the rise and demise of noir to the post-war dissolution of the Popular Front-era American Left. Petered out about 15 p. before the end. Took a breather, watched some videos of Benmont Tench demonstrating his organ parts to Tom Petty songs, talked to Bree before she went to bed. Listened along w/ a transcription of Monk’s solo on “Bags’ Groove,” finished the book. “Curiously enough, it takes quite a bit of imagination to see film noir fantasy as reality.” Stayed up a while doing nothing of value. D/l’ed a dharma talk, lights out 1.
Up for a while around 5; dithered online. Went back to bed, listened to a little Craig Taborn, got back up at 7:30. Got coffee, started looking at Carl Richardson, Autopsy: An Element of Realism in Film Noir. Came home and spent a little over an hr. doing garden work w/ Bree (I do not like it, but want to sign up for watering once a week to set a good example for others in the building). Left about 11:15, got lunch, 7 toward Manhattan closed at my stop, had to backtrack toward Flushing. Read intro and ch. 1 of Richardson; strident and flat-footed in his Bazinianism (Bazinism?), but good on production details of The Maltese Falcon. Intrigued by discussion of Renoir’s Swamp Water (1941). Made it to LC library 12:45. Got going about 1:30, revised 1st 2 grafs on publishing, added another, seemingly usable. Left at 5:45 for the Kitchen; book launch/performance for Adam Pendelton, Black Dada Reader. Didn’t know much going in, only knew about it b/c I saw it was happening last night. The anthology is an odd mix of texts you might assume would appear under that title (Baraka, of course) – but are Adrian Piper and George Lewis dada, by most lights? Also a lot of work coming out of conceptual art (Lewitt) and language poetry (Silliman) that isn’t usually read in connection w/ race. So I guess making those connections was the argument. Readings by the editor (a New Sentence-y piece I liked), Stephen Squibb (economically minded, but I’m forgetting the details), Joan Retallack (on the “metaphysics” of white, I think the piece was mostly sleight of hand and let people my and her color off the hook of identifying as “white” a lot more easily than, say, Adam Fitzgerald might), and 3 songs by a multiethnic “New Orleans-style” brass band (SugarTone), ending w/ a long “I Only Have Eyes For You,” after Lester Bowie’s. Not sure I have a final verdict on whether it all hung together aesthetically/intellectually/as cultural politics. Chatted w/ Nathaniel Otting and a friend whose name I’d misspell. Read chapter on The Naked City on the train home – should see The City (Steiner-Van Dyke 1939), Black Legion (Archie Mayo 1936). Home, listened to a little more Taborn, lights out by 11.
Up 7:30. Dithered, looked up a piano transcription of “Black Beauty.” Coffee 9:30. Wrote up comments on Drew Gardner’s “proto-flarf” anthology intro, about 2 hrs. Came home: Bree out. Rested, made lunch, ordered a used copy of Ingrid Monson, Saying Something online. Put on Ellington, started a forced march through email. That turned into other mundane tasks; by 3, it didn’t seem feasible to try to get to the library to write. (Working past 11 on that intro set all this in motion, but it’s off the table.) Other interruptions: tech support call from dad, return call from doctor Bree might start seeing, old CD-R stuck in computer, requiring multiple logoffs/reboots. Left around 5:30; read Feist on train to the Kitchen. Free screening of Metropolis Video’s long-unseen public access shoots of various bands at CBGB’s in 1975: Hell/Thunders Heartbreakers, Blondie (pre-Destri, no keys), The Tuff Darts, the obscure Orchestra Luna (somewhere between the Tubes and Kid Creole, w/ Karla Devito fronting), and 40 min. of 3-piece Talking Heads footage, w/ more songs from Buildings and Food than 77. Q&A with Will Hermes and the video-makers; stuck around to say hi to Will briefly. Read the rest of the Feist on the way home; brisk, self-serving overview of “songpublishing” by the son/heir of one of the early TPA houses. Notable that David Sanjek is credited as a consultant. Prose mostly colorless but learned a few interesting details: I should have known that statutory mechanical royalty rates are maximums; publishers can’t negotiate higher ones! Read a few p. of the translator’s intro to Nicole Brossard, French Kiss. Home 10:30. Lights out 11; started listening to a dharma talk, but fell asleep quickly.
Up at 6:30. Charged devices/recorded expenses (which I should have done last night), answered a few emails, scanned my old Manny Farber essay for a possible reprint. Started looking at Drew Gardner’s anthology introduction. Out just after 10. Read Mieville on train and over coffee; caught up in poetry daybook (2 p.). Therapy. Finished Mieville over lunch (thought it would take longer, but the last 50 p. of the ebook are a glossary, reading list, and index. Point of the retelling seems to be to emphasize the complexity of struggles among several political parties at the time, and the univitability of (a) the Bolshevik takeover, just then and in just that way. And that it wasn’t “written in the starts” that Leninism would lead to Stalinism. My favorite line is a paraphrase of Trotsky’s paraphrase of Marx: “History doesn’t clean up after itself” (42). Content nearly aside, I could learn a lot from Mieville’s crisply paced sentences and way with an image (I think he’s often drawing on the photographic record). Found, oddly enough, issue #3 of Prelude in a Housing Works. To library around 2:30, paid deposit on recording dates (Nov. 5-6), dithered online. Worked 3:30-7, added about 550 words to publishing section, though it will ultimately have to be cut down. Finished Blauvelt on the train home – no poem more than a page, w/ sonnets (or 13/15 liners) dispersed through the book; the gimmicky technique starts to wear, and many lines and phrases could be in one poem as well as another (though that’s something you could also say about some late Ashbery). Started glancing at Leonard Feist, Music Publishing in America. Met Bree at Kitchen 79; “twisted stink bean” with shrimp. Saw our neighbors Honor & Joe; chatted. Home 9:30. Remembered to look up the Hélio Oiticia show at the Whitney; it closed yesterday. Read a few pages of the Feist, listened to some 1928 Ellington (I bought a bunch of chronological CDs in L.A. this summer). I love his solo “Black Beauty”/”Swampy River.” Lights out 10:45.
Up 7:30. Watched SNL – “satire” basically empty, except perhaps for Michael Che. Don’t know why I bother. One of Jay-Z’s songs was O.K. Worked on misc. to-do list; communicated w/ band and studio (Figure 8 in Brooklyn) about Nov. dates. Out at 11:30. Read about 25 p. of China Mieville, October on train to Lincoln Ctr. Saw The Crimes of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir 1936) in NYFF. Deceptively light film that interestingly prefigures Breathless in the on-the-lam hero’s fascinating w/ American pop culture (here, Westerns), and advocates collectivizing your workplace and killing your boss. Cinematically, it’s not The Grand Illusion, but the penultimate death sequence is great, w/ the protagonist rushing past windows at the edge of the screen as we watch the action in the square. Jacques Prévert has a writing credit. Ran into Eric Meyers just after. Used hr. between movies to respond to another round of logistics on rec’ing dates. Went back for One Sings, The Other Doesn’t (Agnes Varda 1976), which had opened the festival 40 years ago, w/ the director speaking briefly before. Complicated (and perhaps overlong) work, but basically an avowedly feminist quasi-musical about abortion rights, child-rearing, and domestic arrangements seen through the eyes of two friends, one (the singer) more bohemian (and an evident alter ego for Varda), one less. The agitfolk chansons sung by the protagonist and an apparently real group called Orchid, w/ words by the director, have not dated well, but the handling of her disappointment w/ an Iranian husband was subtler and more self-critical than it looked like it would be at first. Headed to Chelsea, passed a boomer saying to another, “The Stones’ songs have stood up time better than the Beatles’—they were just pop.” Got a bite, finished day’s quota (50 p.) of Mieville, found a coffee place (Variety on 25th at 7 Av, worth remembering), made myself start a graf on music publishing so I can get into it tomorrow afternoon. About an hr., just over 200 words. Walked over to Sid Gold’s, heard Joe McGinty sing his own songs at the piano, w/ violin, cello, sax/clarinet. Train home, read ½ of of Catherine Blauvelt, Here High Note, High Note, from Prelude, that odd poetry imprint run by n+1. Rather “pure” torqued-syntax lyric (“For likeness, we are massy, one leap and close.”), pastoral/”gurlesque” (still a thing?) vocabulary, sunny tone (for contemporary poetry). Reads quickly if you’re not looking to ferret out the subject matter/lyric occasion. Motto: “The image has the last word.” Near home, swung by Espresso 77 to catch the end of an art opening w/ music, but it was over; just as well. Home just after 10, Bree getting ready for bed. Lights out by 10:30 (though I should have charged devices/recorded expenses).
Skipped poetry notebook, didn't listen to a record. Otherwise, had the day I meant to have.