Minutes (San Francisco)

July 31, 2009


  • On the bus, a man gave a woman his business card. With a completely straight face, he told her that he is a professional: “I can be very professional. My hair has turned grey, and I keep the top button of my shirts buttoned. I sit upright and blame the world’s ills on Trotskyites and mules. I have one tooth that is solid gold. I keep a thumbtack in my shoe in case I need to show emotion on a moment’s notice. I keep a handkerchief in my pocket in case I have to cavort with rabble/rousers. I have disposed of all my pairs of dungarees, and only wear linen.”

posted by Caroline Picard

written by James Joyce

What follows is an excerpt from Finnegans Wake (Book 1 Chapter one)

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe totauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface. The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoord-enenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes:and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy.What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod’s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillkilly: a toll, a toll. What chance cuddleys, what cashels aired and ventilated! What bidimetoloves sinduced by what tegotetabsolvers! What true feeling for their’s hayair with what strawng voice of false jiccup! O here here how hoth sprowled met the duskt the father of fornicationists but, (O my shining stars and body!) how hath fanespanned most high heaven the skysign of soft advertisement! But was iz? Iseut? Ere were sewers? The oaks of ald now they lie in peat yet elms leap where askes lay. Phall if you but will, rise you must: and none so soon either shall the pharce for the nunce come to a setdown secular phoenish. Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, freemen’s maurer, lived in the broadest way immarginable in his rushlit toofar-back for messuages before joshuan judges had given us numbers or Helviticus committed deuteronomy (one yeastyday he sternely struxk his tete in a tub for to watsch the future of his fates but ere he swiftly stook it out again, by the might of moses, the very water was eviparated and all the guenneses had met their exodus so that ought to show you what a pentschanjeuchy chap he was!) and during mighty odd years this man of hod, cement and edifices in Toper’s Thorp piled buildung supra buildung pon the banks for the livers by the Soangso. He addle liddle phifie Annie ugged the little craythur. Wither hayre in honds tuck up your part inher. Oftwhile balbulous, mithre ahead, with goodly trowel in grasp and ivoroiled overalls which he habitacularly fondseed, like Haroun Childeric Eggeberth he would caligulate by multiplicables the alltitude and malltitude until he seesaw by neatlight of the liquor wheretwin ’twas born, his roundhead staple of other days to rise in undress maisonry upstanded (joygrantit!), a waalworth of a skyerscape of most eyeful hoyth entowerly, erigenating from next to nothing and celescalating the himals and all, hierarchitec titiptitoploftical, with a burning bush abob off its baubletop and with larrons o’toolers clittering up and tombles a’buckets clottering down. Of the first was he to bare arms and a name: Wassaily Booslaeugh of Riesengeborg. His crest of huroldry, in vert with ancillars, troublant, argent, a hegoak, poursuivant, horrid, horned. His scutschum fessed, with archers strung, helio, of the second. Hootch is for husbandman handling his hoe. Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you’re going to be Mister Finnagain! Comeday morm and, O, you’re vine! Sendday’s eve and, ah, you’re vinegar! Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you’re going to be fined again! What then agentlike brought about that tragoady thundersday this municipal sin business? Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas but we hear also through successive ages that shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimiissilehims that would blackguardise the whitestone ever hurtleturtled out of heaven. Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sustainer, what time we rise and when we take up to toothmick and before we lump down upown our leatherbed and in the night and at the fading of the stars ! For a nod to the nabir is better than wink to the wabsanti. Otherways wesways like that provost scoffing bedoueen the jebel and the jpysian sea. Cropherb the crunch-bracken shall decide. Then we’ll know if the feast is a flyday. She has a gift of seek on site and she allcasually ansars helpers, the dreamydeary. Heed! Heed ! It may half been a missfired brick, as some say, or it mought have been due to a collupsus of his back promises, as others looked at it. (There extand by now one thousand and one stories, all told, of the same). But so sore did abe ite ivvy’s holired abbles, (what with the wallhall’s horrors of rollsrights, carhacks, stonengens, kisstvanes, tramtrees, fargobawlers, autokinotons, hippohobbilies, streetfleets, tournintaxes, megaphoggs, circuses and wardsmoats and basilikerks and aeropagods and the hoyse and the jollybrool and the peeler in the coat and the mecklenburk bitch bite at his ear and the merlinburrow burrocks and his fore old porecourts, the bore the more, and his blightblack workingstacks at twelvepins a dozen and the noobibusses sleighding along Safetyfirst Street and the derryjellybies snooping around Tell-No-Tailors’ Corner and the fumes and the hopes and the strupithump of his ville’s indigenous romekeepers, homesweepers, domecreepers, thurum and thurum in fancymud murumd and all the uproor from all the aufroofs, a roof for may and a reef for hugh butt under his bridge suits tony) wan warning Phill filt tippling full. His howd feeled heavy, his hoddit did shake. (There was a wall of course in erection) Dimb! He stottered from the latter. Damb! he was dud. Dumb! Mastabatoom, mastabadtomm, when a mon merries his lute is all long. For whole the world to see.

posted by Caroline Picard


Go to American Girl Place dressed as a man (this only works if you’re a woman) with a fake shitty moustache and a secret camera and a trench coat. Walk through the halls of young people (mostly girls) videoing any and all activity. See if you can get kicked out. Edit the video and call it SEXUAL PREDATOR (in a SLAYER font). Which is only funny (if it as at all) if you’re not.

posted and written by Caroline Picard


In December a friend’s father gave me a copy of Collette. She describes a the life of a performer working in the music halls of Paris in the 1800’s. She refers to her lover as a “wet noodle,” she talks about how she practices acrobatics to stay fit, and even describes the angles she performs from, such that her figure is most compelling to an audience. She ultimately chooses between the lover, a man who promises to take care of her, and a life on the road with a trunk full of costumes–which, while a little dramatic in description affords little to no money.

Similarly, I think the touring band has signed on to a thankless occupation. Interesting only in as much as everyone seems infatuated with it. For instance, one would imagine the father of an un-known band telling stories of life on the road, stories that would then be absorbed by sons and daughters, who despite the parents’ small success would think to mirror the parents’ life in one fashion or another.

I thought of her because only a week ago I found myself at a bar having a drink with another fellow ‘On The Road.’ He had been traveling seven months with his band. He had been playing music with the same people since the 4th grade. They came out with a record a few months ago and were waiting to see if it would take off, (i.e. give them a follow-up record deal). He said again and again how much he liked his life style. The smoking of  pot in alley ways. The road side diners, late nights. The applause. He said it was hard to go home at the end of a tour and have no money. That he lived with relatives. That he never saw his girlfriend. He said he loved his lifestyle. He said he fought with his bandmates for a while, but he said it was better now that they weren’t writing music together. He said he wanted to move from Ney Ohio, only he didn’t have any money to move. He said if he had money to move he might not ask his bandmates whether or not to do so. He said he’d stopped worrying about the future because he’d already almost killed himself with worry. He said the only reason he was still in the same band was because at every decisive juncture he’d had nothing better to do. He said he hoped he’d get famous.

It seems to me that most people in the business of rock and roll are looking towards an idea of fame for validation. If a record achieves the status of a Built to Spill, for instance, then they could continue indefinitely.

There is so much to unpack there, particularly since I suspect that Built to Spill is making quite a humble sum, if that. And yet. They are known. Which seems most important of all. Similarly the allure of touring must have something to do with playing in front of an audience who applauds after a performance. And yet. Even then. The compensation is paltry.

Yet. Singing is an unconventional activity. People sing in their cars. Or they sing in their houses but no one sings in the street, and unless its karaoke no one sings to an audience. Unless you’re in a band. By comparison it is customary to curse in the street. Cursing in the street is comparatively fashionable. It is not fashionable to sing in the street. If it were, I suspect no one on earth would bother going on tour.

And then, I think, a) I am grateful to those who trudge across the country to sing for us. Our indy bards– and b) I think it might be worth singing in the street more often.

In Japan, it used to be that eating on the street was rude. Now there are street vendors, old men who sell teryake chicken out of strange and smoking shacks. There are small trucks that drive through the dead of night with smoking fires in the back of thier cabs selling sweet potatoes. People down town snack on sweet things as they walk between meetings. People still curse of course. We don’t have to give that up, but it might be worth taking some steps outside of convention and belting a little something. Pretend your life is a musical.

Jinx:: Act One Studio

July 30, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


Last night I had the sweet chance to check out Basia Kapolka’s play, Jinx. Both written and directed by Kapolka, Jinx is a play adaptation of Theophile Gautier’s novel Jettatura, in which a young man is suspected of having the evil eye. The question comes to the fore when Paul d’Aspremont (played by Andy Junk) follows his fiancé to Italy, where she has travelled to improve her health. While there, a number of accidents ensue and the townsfolk begin to whisper, donning various talismens to ward off the evil. Sam (played by Loren Connell), d’Aspremont’s loyal servant, seems to be the only one unaffected by his master’s presence. What ensues is an argument between suspicion and rationality, but with the unfolding of unfortunate events, d’Aspremont suffers an excruciating doubt about his own goodness, and wonders if perhaps the townspeople are right. The play flits between amusing banter–linguistic sparring matches between Alicia Ward (played by Zia Okocho) and her suitors–and philosophical argument. The antiquated style of speech facilitates the transition between subjects and even affords some humor. The servants, Sam and Maria (played by Betty Lorkowski) create interludes of flirtation under the noses of their masters, showing a second face of character. That, coupled with the brightly colored (almost clown) costumes of  actors on  an otherwise austere set of white furniture enhance the playfulness of the production. And performances of Glenn Potter as Sir Joshua Ward, (who appears to be wearing a bowling ball under his jacket to serve as an old-man belly ), and the gloved and dandy macabre of Count Altavilla (played by Jim Hicks) soften and seduce the audience into laughter, despite the otherwise serious themes of the play, namely: prejudice, self-loathing, violence, superstition, and (even) sexism and class. The climax thus comes as a shock, for suddenly the world at hand, where magic has only been the joke of gossip, falls terribly apart. In the end one is reminded that real, albeit dramatic, lives are at stake. A thoroughly impressive production in its own right, it’s a phenomal accomplishment for Kapolka.

Act One Studios

640 N LaSalle Dr, suite 535 (between Ontario and Erie Sts)
Old Town/River North, ChicagoMap


El: Red to Grand. Bus: 65, 156  | Directions

Tickets: $15

Tonight–Sat 8pm

Minutes (Chicago)

July 30, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


  • I sat next to a lawyer in a café downtown. He wore a shiny suit with pink socks and he spoke to a young woman as though on an interview. The subject of Chicago often came up between them and within said subject he often spoke of “expediting” things. Whenever he said “expedite” he rubbed his first two fingers and thumb together. He raised his rubbing hand up in the air, equidistant between their faces, over the center of the table. When the woman ignored the gesture, he did it again. And then he did it again. Again.
  • On the cusp of retirement an old painter regularly forgot to shave. He walked down Milwaukee with a young man under his arm. The nature of their relationship was ambiguous, however I could not help but overhear their conversation. In fact I was so intrigued, and their passage so aimless, I was compelled to follow. What follows more or less recreates their conversation or, rather, the old man’s monologue. “I’ve been going through my paintings. I’ve been going through everything and throwing all the bad stuff out. I have a lot of paintings and I might die soon so I have to make sure to throw out the ones I don’t want to be remembered. You should keep that in mind yourself. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I could have died any number of years ago and I would have left behind a terribly spotty collection of work. This way I can control my destiny.” The old man sipped a cup of coffee. “My wife has this chair. It’s an amazing chair. She lives upstairs, you know. She lives in the apartment upstairs and I live in the one downstairs. We realized we have different furniture tastes so it works better this way. She has a chair in her apartment. It’s round and it engulfs all of her when she sits in it. It’s like a womb chair.” Again he drank some coffee. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood ten years now.” He shook his head, nostalgic. “My how it’s changed. I used to wake up to go to work and see a dead body across the street from my front door.” For whatever reason the young man, while he appeared to listen, said nothing at any point.
  • A middle aged man walked into the train station with a clean pressed, bright red polo shirt. When he walked through the front doors he opened his arms with much enthusiasm, as though anticipating great cheers from those in the station itself. Most of the citizens in the vestibule were either purchasing travel cards, climbing stairs or passing through turn styles. They did not pay the fellow close attention. Neither did the attendants, or for that matter, the shop owner at the kiosk. Nevertheless, the man in the polo shirt, undeterred, did a little soft show, stopped in a flurry and, arms open with jazz hands stopped and said “Will you be my alderman?” I suspect he must have been on some campaign.

The Pink Hotel

July 29, 2009

posted by caroline picard


Sweet perspectives

July 29, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno


I’m currently reading Margot and Rudolf Wittkower’s Born Under Saturn which, despite a slow beginning, is actually an amazing book. The thesis of the book is, basically, that artists are regular folk. Most of the “mad” artist type springs from the Renaissance, when artists needed to distinguish themselves from craftsmen. You know, to make patrons feel like they were getting their money’s worth of an essentially useless product. (So, just because you’re a painter, you don’t get a free pass for peeing in my fireplace.) The book also has lots of examples of mad artists doing mad things. My favorite comes from the chapter titled “Obsession With Work”.

Of Paolo Uccello, the story goes that “…without ever pausing for one moment, he pursued his studies of the most difficult problems in the art of [perspective].

“Because of these investigations he remained secluded in his house, almost like a hermit, for weeks and months, without knowing much of what went on in the world and without showing himself. Spending his time on those caprices, he knew, while he was alive, more poverty than fame.

“He left a wife who used to relate that Paolo would spend the whole night at his drawing-board trying to find the rules of perspective, and when she called him to come to bed, he would answer: ‘Oh, how sweet is this perspective!'”

posted by Caroline Picard

if you’re interested, email : fsasaki@poetrymagazine.org

Dear Printers’ Ball Participants,

We need hands on deck for next Friday, July 31. In exchange for your
services, you will get a POETRY tote bag, first pass of the books and
magazines, and receive a limited edition Printers’ Ball poster!

We need help:

1) Staging the thousands of pounds of print.
2) Directing traffic.

If you’d like to help out (and have a backstage pass to the Printers’ Ball)
please reply to this e-mail with your name, cell phone number, and
availability. We need help from 2:30pm on.



Fred Sasaki
Associate Editor, POETRY
444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1850
Chicago, IL  60611-4034
312.787.7070  Ext. 8005
312.787.6650  Fax

a World was Exotic

July 28, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

An Excerpt from


A Legendary 19th Century Journey

by Isabella Bird

Isabella Bird and her Tibetan pony, Gyalo

Two men took my bridle, and two more proceeded to put their hands on my stirrups; but Gyalpo kicked them to the right and left amidst shrieks of laughter, after which, with frantic gesticulations and yells of ‘Kabardar!’ I was led through the river in triumph and hauled off my horse. The tribesmen were much excited. Some dashed about, performing feats of horsemanship; others brought apricots and dough-balls made with apricot oil, or rushed to the tents returning with rugs; some cleared the camping-ground of stones and reaised a stone platform, and a flock of goats, exquisitely white from teh daily swims across the river, were brought to be milked. Gradually and shrinkingly the women and children drew near; by Mr. ——‘s Bengali servant threatened them with a whip, when there was a general stampede, the women running like hares. I had trained my servants to treat the natives courteously, and addressed some rather strong language to the offender, and afterwards succeeded in enticing all the fugitives back by showing my sketches, which gave boundless pleasure and through led to very numerous requests for portraits! The gopa, though he had oblique Mongolian eyes, was a handsome young man, with a good nose and mouth. He was dressed like the others in a girdled chaga of coarse serge, but wore a red cap turned up over the ears with fine fur, a silvr inkhorn, and a Yarkand knife in a chased silver sheath in his girdle, and  canary-coloured leather shoes with turned-up points. The people prepared one of their own tents for me, and laying down a number of rugs of their own dyeing and weaving, assured me of an unbounded welcome as a friend of their ‘benefactor,’ Mr Redslob, and then proposed that I should visit their tenst accompanied by all the elders of the tribe.