There are things / closer than rain / that keep hope alive— /
tenement flowers /seasoned with heartbreak, /chattering weeds / mixed with strange lies— / things that may not be / more brilliant / than a wine-stained shirt /and crow’s-feet eyes. / But they will do.
“At age 84, Plymell continues to write, publish and perform—“doing nuttin”, as he says—from his home in Cherry Valley, New York. His activities keep Plymell in steady correspondence with a crowd of like-minded hellions, including rockabilly’s Bloodshot Bill, Sonic Youth founders Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, bassist Mike Watt, filmmaker Mark Hanlon, guitarist Bill Nace, photographer Philip Scalia and musicologist Byron Coley. Plymell and his wife, Pam, first happened upon Cherry Valley in late 1969 in coming to visit Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky at their East Hill farm. Moving there for good in early 1970, the Plymells have set into adding to their immense creative legacy.” – Benito Vila
This was it, Jan. 12, 2017 . . . It began like this: ‘On the day Twitter Fingers is sworn in as the preening el presidente of a tin-pot United States of Trumpistan, enabling him to run the country like a division of his family-held company . . . ‘ and continued with a 17-minute recording of Heathcote Williams reading his poem “The United States of Porn.” That reading alone puts the blogpost in a class of its own.
Charles Plymell’s poems are hard-core gems dug out of the earth. Yet they seem effortless to me. Without the slightest hint of literary elbow grease, they shine like polished jewels. I should have published more of them back in the day, but at least there was this one. It’s as gorgeous now as it was then.
A feature documentary about the impresario of the international avant-garde art movement Fluxus from 1962 to 1978. Interviews with artists include Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, and Nam June Paik. Dedicated to cooperative methods and expanded processes, Fluxus could be everything and almost anything: kits, shops, festivals, islands, weddings, food, or Flux Lofts—a network of artist-owned lofts in SoHo, New York. The iconoclastic George Maciunas and the spirit of Fluxus provoke questions still critical to many working artists . . . and a helluva lot of silly serious fun.
“So I sit there with earphones, mind you West End of forgotten City East of what used to be a shade of time. Let’s not get into that again… machine gun fire loud & clear… airplanes moving in low & forgotten now like battles in the Pacific… distant artillery for the Americans don’t forget that buddy… sound of Japanese commandos… & Germany end of July 45, 17 sec. past the deadline… sunny morning in Hiroshima, stones trees houses people dust… it’s the 15th with transcribed music… cracks in the record, the unconditional surrender of Hollywood to TV…” — Jürgen Ploog
. . . when it seems that everybody is looking back over their shoulder more with nostalgia than disgust. I am not immune. Scrolling through some old emails, I came across this one called “from NELSON ALGREN’S LETTERS TO RAJAH.” Rajah was Roger Groening, a friend of Nelson’s and later of mine. Roger died in 2015. I think of him often. He and Nelson became friends, initially by mail, when Roger wrote him a fan letter. They remained friends for some 20 years until Nelson’s death, in 1981.
“I was struck by poems made of lines that are poems all on their own—even as they unstack into melodic steps from top to bottom . . . Some are as spare as Chinese widsom. In Herman’s poems you know you are certainly ‘somewhere’ but maybe it’s somewhere only in atavistic memory, the realm of dreams. He writes with what Lavinia Greenlaw called ‘unsettled language,’ which brings less obvious aspects of imagination or observation to the fore . . . teasing, holding attention by where they might be heading. A doubtful adventure? A seductive noire? An obscene history lesson? And of course, mortality raises its knowing head more than once.” — Jay Jones
“The penultimate superstition of mankind is the State, and until the state has been rejected man will be a slave to darkness and ignorance: for fatherland, nation, country, patriotism, government are all black magic brewed in the witch’s cauldron of World History. The State Conscience, like its founders, Remus and Romulus, has always been suckled by wolves . . . ” — Edward Dahlberg
Ran into a tough opponent the other day. Took a header. I hit the pavement and it knocked me cold. Disfigured my face. An entire crew of firemen pulled up in full regalia, ladder engine included, had a look and got me a deluxe ambulance ride to the emergency room, plus a brainscan, a 24-hour overnight on a hospital gurney—the place was fully booked—and a bunch of stitches by a well-meaning young doc. Now home, condition improving, I got to thinking of Edward Dahlberg’s “Can These Bones Live.”
It’s unlikely that Sylvia Plath would have picked the graveyard of Heptonstall Church for her last resting place. Early in her marriage to Ted Hughes, she declined the suggestion that they move into some cheap and rambling old manor in the socially depressed Calder Valley where Hughes had spent part of his childhood. Asa Benveniste definitely chose the location of his own grave, having spent the final years of his life in Hebden Bridge, the valley town that adjoins Heptonstall.
Richard Kostelanetz has produced many titles in his Archae Editions line of books over the past eight years via Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing service. But a few weeks ago they suddenly disappeared from the Amazon site. He was shocked. When he asked to have them restored, he was informed electronically that they had been removed because they contained pornographic images. He disagreed. Nevertheless, he decided to remove the “objectionable” content. Even as he offered to do so, however, he was further informed that his entire Archae Editions account had been closed—permanently. He would not be allowed to publish in the future any Archae books whatsoever. Period. Full stop. End of story. Fuck you.
Hard to believe, but there it is, Your Obituary Is Waiting, listed at #10 this morning in Amazon UK’s top-seller ranking of obituary books. Which goes to show that Amazon’s rankings are, among other things, ridiculous. My “deformed sonnets” are poems not obituaries. But if British readers don’t complain, why should I? The book is also listed at #272 in its “American poetry” ranking. Which might indicate that Amazon UK hasn’t gone totally nuts—except that when I consider the lack of sales of even one copy of the book in either category both lists make as much sense as Donald Trump.
So I was looking over some documents I had stored away years ago. (When you get old you start looking back, as everybody knows who has ever got old.) Well, I came across this fax from my great old friend, the late Carl Weissner. At first I couldn’t place what he meant by “O’s diary.” But then I realized that “O” was a reference to Orton, the playwright Joe Orton, whose plays I deeply admired and occasionally reviewed, and that I had sent Carl one of them, which is what set him off. As to the Raymond Chandler quotation Carl was thinking of using as a motto for a collection of magazine pieces, it turned out that he used it for his doomsday-lit novel “Death in Paris” instead, which he wrote online and which was published posthumously in paperback and as an ebook. Dear Carl, you are missed.