What Do Mean You Forgot The Potato Salad!!!   Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Welcome to "Here and Now" number I.vi.. We apologize for the state of the world today and promise to try to do better next time.

Attaway Vince

Seven Beats a Second artist Vincent Martinez opened a new show of his latest work in Austin last week at the Lombardi Gallery in downtown Austin at 910 West 3rd Street. His art was featured at the gallery though July 4th.

Congratulations, Vince, and good luck.

No attaways for me. I've been too lazy to even send anything out.

A poem I like

This poem was posted on The Critical Poet, an on-line poetry workshop. It was posted by Justin, a Parole Office from Iowa. One commentator called it a "sweet" poem. I don't disagree with that. but, beyond that it is unflinchingly true to life. We live and we lose and we live on, finding new, maybe, but always keeping something of what we lost with us.

harold jackson brings my grandmother daffodils

he called one day out of the blue
now it's bingo every tuesday at the american legion and
sundays after church service
they drive to cedar rapids for brunch
then west towards keystone and
the steep cemetery on the hill
where her richard is buried then
further north
down a twisting gravel road along the iowa river
past marengo
to the spot overlooking an eagle's nest there
where he and edna took picnics for
forty three years before she
went dust last august
and he buried a fistful of her right there
along with that norway spruce

A movie I liked

A couple of coincidences reminded me of Steve McQueen.

I was killing time last night, surfing through the 600 channels we have of crap I don't want to watch and came across The Hunter, one of McQueen's last pictures, released the same year he died.

Then, today, I was in San Marcos, home of Texas State University, formerly Texas State Teacher's College, which educated Lyndon Johnson and, 30 or so years later, me, as well. It is also the origin of the San Marcos River whose icy cold, clear-as-crystal waters seep to the surface at the Balcones Escarpment, that place where, some millions of years ago, the Texas Hill Country, under immense geologic pressure, rose up a couple of hundred feet and separated itself from the Texas Coastal Plains.

After a couple of hours of tramping around the river in search of good pictures, I went into town for lunch at ate on the town square at the Hill Country Bar and Grill.

The Hill Country Bar and Grill (picture above) was in an earlier time the main bank for the city and the county. True fans will also recognize it as the bank McQueen's character robbed in the movie The Getaway before he and Ali McGraw almost got a way to Mexico. This was a pretty good movie, not to be confused with a remake some years later with whatshername and one of the Baldwin brothers that was terrible. (Not all McQueen remakes were bad. The remake a couple of years ago of The Thomas Crown Affair was miles better than the original.)

So, two reminders of McQueen's movies in two days led me to think about some of his other movies. Many were fair to indifferent, one, The Blob was in a category all it's on, a couple, like Baby The Rain Must Fall had ambitions they couldn't live up to and a bunch were very good, like The Sandpebbles, Papillion, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt.

Bullitt is probably the movie most people think of first when they think of Steve McQueen. The modern auto chase scene was invented in that movie and has been the inspiration of chase scenes every since, used nowhere in more good fun than in one of the later Dirty Harry movies when Eastwood is racing over the hills of San Francisco trying to get away from a remote-controlled model car laden with explosives.

McQueen in Bullitt is about as cool as anyone is ever going to get in movies, but the film, itself, isn't my favorite. That would be Tom Horn, his last or next to last movie, also released the year he died. The character he plays, Tom Horn, could be Bullitt, thirty years older, in a turn of the century setting. Horn, a famous western hero, is hired by a cattlemen's association to put a stop to a rash of rustling. Like a lot of other end of an era movies, it's set in the late 19th century, a time when the west was becoming civilized and his method for stopping the rustling (he kills them) doesn't sit so well anymore. The cattlemen's association that hired him, turns on him and he is eventually hung. I think I remember that the movie was based on a true story and a real person. I think it is, by far, the best of McQueen's performances as an actor and the story has a depth and sadness to it, perhaps reflecting McQueen's declining health at the time.

If you're at the video store and see it, pick it up and take a look.

Attaway New York Times

Keep the lying sonsabitches' feet to the fire.

Another poet I like

Here's short piece from San Antonio poet Carmen Tafolla


Never write with pencil,
It is for those
who would
Make your mark proud
and open


beauty folded into
its imperfection,
Like a piece of turquoise

Never write
with pencil
Write with ink
or mud
or berries grown in
gardens never owned,
or, sometimes,
if necessary,

About that book

I read the book by William Sloan Coffin that I talked about last week. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't much of anything. It made me sad in that it reminded me how little, beyond bumper stickers and, as in this book, topic sentences for sermons to the less enlightened, my generation of radicals and idealists actually came up with. Compared to earlier generations of American radical idealists like Norman Thomas who fought losing battles all his life, finally winning in the end, leaving us with a legacy of things we now take for granted like social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, child labor laws, forty hour work weeks and the list goes on and on. My generation, including people like Coffin, doesn't measure up to much in comparison.

Another book.

Check out an old book from the 50's-60's by longshoreman/philosopher/social commentator Eric Hoffer called The True Believer by for an exploration of the radical right movement that now controls the Republican Party. Hoffer was writing in the context of the American Communist Party and the KKK and the John Birch Society, but everything he wrote about applies today.

Two poems? Might as well do three

Here's another Bukowski poem, this one published in one of several collections of new poems published after his death in 1994. Bukowski didn't see real success, at least financially, until late in his life, probably in connection with the autobiographical screenplay he wrote which became the movie Barfly starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunnaway. The movie came out in 1987. I didn't like it at all and it was the main reason I didn't start reading Bukowski seriously until recently. But it did make him way more money than in his whole life up to that time and allowed him to live his remaining years in much more comfort and security than he had ever experienced before. He wrote about these new comforts in his later poems, as well as about his younger days as tough guy and heavy drinker still looking for his place.

after the sandstorm

coming off the park bench after the all-night
sandstorm in El Paso
and walking into the library
I felt fairly comfortable even though I had less than
two dollars
was alone in the world
and was 40 pounds underweight.
still it felt almost pleasant to
open the copy of the Kenyon Review in
and marvel at the brilliant way those
professors used the language to take one another
to task for the way each interpreted literature.
I almost envied their humor and sarcasm
but not quite: the professional envy for one another
was a bit too rancid and
red-steel-hot; but at the same time I envied the
leisurely and safe lives that language and literature
had evolved for them: places safe and
soft and institutionalized.
I knew that I would never be able to write or live in
quite that manner, yet I almost wanted to be
one of them,
at the moment.

I put the magazine back and walked outside,
looked south north east west

each direction was wrong.
I started to walk along.

what I did sense was that language
properly used
could be bright and beautiful but
I also sensed that there might be
some more important things I had
to learn

A little joke about a little fish

What did the little fish say when he ran into a wall?


That's enough of that, I guess.

Come again next week...

...same bat time, same bat station.

Vincent Martinez photo by John Strieb
All other photos by Allen Itz


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