Friday, July 30, 2010

Death Star(e)

As I've mentioned previously, the upcoming Federal election has the potential to be the most boring ever, with both party leaders almost terrified to be themselves.

Fortunately, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has decided to inject some humor into the proceedings, shifting the focus of one of its best weekly programs, The Gruen Transfer, from advertising in general to election advertising, & following that up with a new series of The Chaser—who disappeared from our small screens more than a year ago, buried because of the outcry over a somewhat bad taste segment—entitled Yes We Canberra.

The clip below is of the Deputy Leader of the (conservative) Opposition, & it's the first time I've ever had a positive response to her. Mind you, I think that's because of the context.....


is National Poetry Day in New Zealand.

day is
in New

every day is

dylan sigh

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A line from Ron Silliman

Good corporate citizens
in San Francisco have
long tubes reaching up
to the upper levels of

multi-storey car parks.
Some kind of centralized
IT architecture, that by-
passes the circadian clock

& posits that a pot of
coffee is more effective
than an hour of light, &
Vegan food is regulated

by automobile lubrication
systems. It's a concept
that originates less in the
order of science, more

in the latest Tweets from
Kim Kardashian about
how slutty customers
are what make Japanese

pawnshops so special
& how adding acidophillus
culture to the recently
re-surfaced "lost Kafka

writings" could function
better than birds' bones
or tree trunks to cool
entire cities down again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Down Under Bible Belt

stretches from coast to coast, if two items from the current, utterly boring, election campaign are any indication.

Dumped Liberal candidate David Barker doesn't know why he has been disendorsed despite making controversial anti-Muslim comments.

The disgraced candidate used his Facebook site to accuse Labor of moving the nation closer to a Muslim country and attacked his ALP opponent in Chifley, Sydney, Ed Husic, over his religion.

Mr Barker described Mr Abbott, the Liberal leader, as ''God's mouthpiece'' and said on Facebook that God was ''on the side of the Liberal right''.

Today Mr Barker stood by his statements, telling the ABC there should not be a Muslim in parliament and questioning whether the country was ready for an atheist prime minister.


Liberal MP Don Randall has defied Opposition Leader Tony Abbott by raising Prime Minister Julia Gillard's atheism. Mr Randall, from Western Australia, said people from a range of Christian religions had told his office "they don't like the fact that we have a godless Prime Minister". They were "very concerned with the stance of the Prime Minister, basically being anti-God", he said.

Mr Randall says Australia was built on Christian values, which provide the basis for being a better leader.

"We expect out leaders to convey and portray good Christian values," he said.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slam Po-dunk

The Albion River in Mendocino County has been described as "a little podunk river." The real Podunk River is in Connecticut. It is 13 miles long. A total of 400 pounds of water chestnut plants were hand-pulled from the shallow Vinton's Mill Pond in the Podunk River basin. This plant species is not the same as the water chestnut used in Asian cooking. Approximately 15-20 tonnes of fresh Chinese water chestnuts are currently being marketed annually in Australia. "They even know it in Podunk, wherever that may be," commented Mark Twain. The loading dock in Steamboat Willie, released in 1928, the first Disney cartoon to feature synchronized sound, was named "Po Dunk Landing". Mark Twain wasn't around to comment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Survivor

That was the year
we wintered in
Montparnasse. The
ferry, I remember,
was empty apart
from us, might never
have sailed except
its skipper lived
on the other side
of the river & she
wanted to get
home that night. Up-
stream was thick
with forest. There
were fireworks
somewhere. I heard
them, but I did not
see their bloom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Now out from Otoliths—Expanding The Radius by Mary Ellen Derwis & Joe Balaz

Expanding The Radius
Mary Ellen Derwis & Joe Balaz
72 pages, full color
Otoliths, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9807651-0-6
$24.95 (currently with free postage in the U.S.)

Early on in Expanding The Radius, Mary Ellen Derwis gives us an untitled narrative sequence of digital art, hinting at the human form, which picks up again towards the end of the book in a more figurative sequence— “Rendezvous”. Intimate portraits, wider anthropological insights, and other strongly titled art also prevail. Among other tightly woven directives, Joe Balaz includes multi-paged narrations “High in Blue”, “Fairly Textual”, and “The Industrial Poet”. Then there are the collaborations which find a distinct third voice, as often happens when two people are so creatively in synch. The book ends with two of Mary Ellen’s urban shots that include typographical symbols and a similar photo, a final pun by Joe— “C and Leave”. Many of these images have appeared separately in the quarterly “Otoliths”; now it’s a pleasure to see/read this combined three headed body of always direct, sometimes humorous, often profound digital art, visual poetry, and collaborations. —C. Mehrl Bennett

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Australia

& New Zealand, following on from the lead of the U.K.—ah, these vestiges of Empire—cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Which means that nearly all vehicles here, apart from, in the main, a few leftover World War II jeeps, have right-hand drive.

So it was a bit bizarre—downright spooky in fact—to look in my side mirror today & see no-one sitting in what should have been the driver's seat of the car behind me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Australian Federal election

is still some months away, but it seems that one of the platforms Prime Minister Gillard is going to be running on is

A Pwoermd A Day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Color me old,

but I sometimes struggle with the elasticity of today's terminology.
"Police are investigating whether the four men and two women, aged between 18 and 27, were boy racers."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

25 years ago today,

the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland Harbor.

The first bomb exploded at 11.38pm, lifting those in the mess off their seats. Davy Edwards rushed into the engine room to find a hole the size of a car, water pouring in. Everyone was ordered off the ship but some went back to grab possessions. Fernando Pereira, the ship's photographer, was one of them, perhaps going after his precious cameras. There was a second explosion and, caught in a rush of water, Pereira drowned.

The crew were in shock. They gave statements to the New Zealand police, who reacted swiftly to the first act of terrorism on their soil. Piecing together statements from members of the public, they were soon questioning a French couple, agents Prieur and Mafart of the French secret service.

Initially, the French government denied all knowledge but it soon became obvious that they were involved. Soon French Prime Minister Fabius appeared on television to tell a shocked world, "Agents of the DGSE (Secret Service) sank this boat. They acted on orders." The French minister of defense resigned.

After the bombing, the Rainbow Warrior was given a final resting place at Matauri Bay, in New Zealand's Cavalli Islands. It has become a living reef, attracting marine life and recreational divers.

The idea was first proposed by the New Zealand Underwater Association. It seemed a fitting end for a ship that had spent its time protecting the marine environment.

It was towed north with a patched hull on 2 December 1987. Ten days later, a crowd of well-wishers looked on as it was given a traditional Maori burial.

Now home to a complex ecosystem, the Rainbow Warrior has become a popular dive destination. The local Maori community maintains its kaitaki (conservation). In a few short years, the Rainbow Warrior became an integral part of the environment it helped protect.

Further details are included on the Greenpeace site from which the above is taken.

Friday, July 09, 2010

got to see

Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles

but also this wonderful Magritte,
one of several versions of Les Amants.

The jpeg size is deceptive. You could fit the Magritte 30 times over into the Pollock.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm sitting

in a room in what is described as a "boutique hotel" writing this. The hotel's not bad; my only complaint the apparent lack of connectivity of its wireless network. So, went out to buy a topup for our "travelling" national telephony broadband connector, came back, plugged it in. At which point the hotel network decided to come in/on loud & strong, so I'm using that.

Frost this morning, white underfoot; but the predominant color of Canberra is black. Black hoodies, black leather jackets, black full-length coats, black pants, black shirts, black sweaters, or a combination of any or all can be found adorning 80% of the people I've seen today. I felt quite at home in my black corduroy coat.

Tomorrow is our day for being strictly tourists, but this afternoon I'm heading off to the National Gallery, to see Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles. Bought by the Whitlam Labor Government in 1973, its purchase created an outcry, partially because the Australian public considered they could do better, partially because of the price paid. $US2 million. Now it's regarded quite differently. It's a national treasure, an example of the forward-looking nature of Australian perspicacity in buying seminal works of art.

Plus it's currently valued at something like $180 million.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Now out from Otoliths—modulations by Márton Koppány

Márton Koppány
52 pages, full color
Page size 7½" x 7½"
Otoliths, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9807651-2-0
$19.99 (currently with free postage in the U.S.A.)
Nearly sixty years ago, Charles Olson warned, “The poet cannot afford to traffick in any other sign than his ‘one’,” preparing the way whether he knew it or not for Márton Koppány to take leave of his native Hungarian and to move into English, where for more than two decades he has been creating traffic signs with the gleeful abandon of a deranged city planner with an advanced degree in Dada. Or maybe not so deranged. I read the poems in modulations as perfectly sensible, whether fish are emitting thought bubbles in the sky, or a table’s legs are deconstructed to show their essentially asemic nature. Language is our great connecting principle and Koppány’s language artfully breaks, reduces, and repairs poetry with a metaphysician’s discomfort matched with a physician’s healing touch. —Peter O'Leary

There was a time when pictures and writing were not as separate as they are today, a time when the picture was given not just to show but to tell; a sort of “picture-writing.” And each “pictograph” was as an aperçu, at once an insight into and a brief digest of the thought to be communicated. The poet Márton Koppány has found for himself a form most becoming of his intuition; each panel here is an aperçu into that space where picture and writing are one, that space where the mind knows the word in the figure of its substance, that space that is language-in-eidos. And so I see Koppány’s panels as “eidographs,” as urtexts of “eidetic poetry.” —Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, author of The Logoclasody Manifesto

What can you say about . . . except that . . . with clouds just
where they . . . which is, to say, in short, a master of the . . .,
as well as . . . the. For instance, the refle . . . one poem
of the invis. . . stillness (         ), not to exclude (

                                    In fullest slowest color. —Bob Gru . . . n

The minimalist visual poetry of Márton Koppány has many qualities lifting it high and above most visual poetry composed over the last 100 years in any language. We are fortunate he has chosen to compose in his second language, American English, wedded to discipline. His manifestations always lean forward into the new, not a mere recycling of the old and worn out. It brings smiles, smirks and the belly laugh. It is consistently permeated with the rare characteristic of awe so many others lack and never reach for. And, for me, on too many occasions, his visions give me a jealous wish that it had come my way rather than his. —Karl Kempton

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The genesis of an urban myth?

or: "Will the real one-armed bandit please stand up."

"New Zealand Police say the one-armed man, who was pictured on camera helping to rob a brasserie at gunpoint, was spotted feeding a large amount of cash into poker machines at a local tavern the next night."


No record of it exists except as a refutation; & the only record of the refutation is a fragment of a manuscript without provenance, attributed by the late Umberto Allegrezza, on the basis of stylistic & scribic elements, to Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, better known as al-Khwarizmi, astronomer, the inventor of algebra, & rumored to be author of a lost—or rather hidden—treatise on calculus which, it has been claimed, was the basis for both Isaac Newton's method of fluxions and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz' integral notation.

The manuscript records the thoughts of al-Khwarizmi on a homily by his contemporary Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, adherent to a different religion, entitled "All Life is an Accident Waiting to Happen," aware that it was an ironic title since what Photius was advocating was the exact opposite.

al-Khwarizmi's piece has an equally ironic title; "All Accidents are a Life Waiting to Happen."