Dear Anonymous Poetry Blog Reader ,
Hello. I hope you are doing well. I am sorry that I have not blogged for a while. I have had a very busy summer even though I was under employed. I read many books, saw some concerts and went to New York for the first time last week. Now my classes are starting (I have six) this week.
Before I went to NY, I read Lorca’s A Poet in New York again. It’s a magnificent book, but he had nothing good to say about the city. Of course he went there during one of the depression, one of the worse periods. He wrote the following. He wrote,” ‘The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extra human architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish. At first glance, the rhythm may be confused with gaiety, but when you look more closely at the mechanism of social life and the painful slavery of both men and machines, you see that it is nothing but a kind of typical, empty anguish that makes even crime and gangs forgivable means of escape.'' Federico García Lorca (1898-1936).
During the trip I kept hearing bits of the title tracks of Patti Smith’s Horses and Television’s Marque Moon kept flashing in my head. I guess besides the Velvets they are two of the quintessential New York bands that come to mind. Too bad CBGB’s closed down a few years back (that would have been my number one spot to visit.) I think my least favorite performer associated with New York is Billy Joel. He has always played it safe, and he has almost no musical integrity.
My stay in New York was fascinating s and enjoyable. I went with my sister and mom and I saw the Statue of Liberty, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA, Central Park, the Jazz Hall of Fame, the Joe Strummer Memorial Mural, the American Indian museum and Times Square (our hotel room was near there.)
Near the Statue of Liberty (which was impressive) there was a sonnet posted on a plaque called “The New Colossus.” The poem refers directly to the Colossus of Rhodes and it was created as a part of an effort to raise money for the statue. It was read at the opening of the exhibit. Here is the poem in its entirety.
Here’s the poem.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Architecturally the most outstanding building was the Guggenheim which was shaped kind of like an upward spiral. The museum featured an exhibit of James Turrell, which manipulated light effectively (though I admire his work the exhibit did more to tranquilize me more than excite me.) I preferred the Museum of Modern Art (commonly called MOMA) and I noticed many fellow beings of Italian descent in the 45 minute line to get in. The exhibit had its share of artistic excrement but it also had great paintings by Van Gogh, Miro, and Matisse. Perhaps my favorite work there (it made me laugh) was "Personage Throwing a Stone at a Bird,” but I think it has a different title in the exhibit.
Speaking of art I also got to see some art by the great jazz muralist, Romare Beardon (see http://www.beardenfoundation.org/artlife/biography/biography.shtml) in Lincoln Center near the Jazz Hall of Fame which was closed. But by far my favorite part of New York was East Village. The graffiti made me feel comfortable, and the people seemed cooler and more bohemian than the lemmings running towards the towers of Babel in Times Square. There was a great poetry reading at the Nyorican Poets Café (see http://www.nuyorican.org/) which was filled to the brim with over 200 people (the feature was an associate of Amiri Baraka).
I scoped out the selection at St Mark’s Books, and left some copies of my poetry book
“A Passion for Apathy,” on consignment. I was shocked to find lively literary conversations there (except for Hyde Park I hardly ever hear people talk passionately about literature in Chicago.) I was excited to be near the spots where Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, and Gregory Corso did poetry readings. Bob Hollman, a performance poet I admire, is supposed to do a feature there on August 27. seehttp://www.stmarksbookshop.com/event/bob-holman-reads-sing-one-back-me.
Near there I passed a store called Search and Destroy (perhaps named after a Stooges song) where they played Pussy Riot music nonstop. See their protest here unless you’re easily offended.
I also saw a great mural in East Village which is a tribute to the late, great punk icon Joe Strummer, which was used in the video for his cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F10tP5HIpaA. The murals were created by Zephyr and Dr. Revolt, two prominent graffiti artists. The Boardwalk Empire star, Steve Buscemi and Jim Jarmush (director of the classic Dead Man and Broken Flowers) are also in the video.
I stopped at Manitoba’s, a bar owned by a former wrestler and singer for the Dictators, Handsome Dick Manitoba (I actually dressed like him one Halloween.) see http://manitobas.com/. There were a million photos there of punk royalty (I know that sounds like a contradiction) including David Johansen, Joey Ramone, Poly Styrene, Johnny Rotten, Jayne County and of course Handsome Dick himself.. Many of them were taken by Bob Gruen, who was interviewed extensively for Don Lett’s Punk Attitude documentary. See http://bobgruen.com/
I met a friendly man with a giant hat there who called himself the mad hatser (he designs hats for a living.) with his attractive alternative girlfriend ( see http://madhatster.com/)
I also saw some enormous rats in the filthy subway, and there was a man who posed with multi colored rats for pictures for money (I wished I had gotten his picture.) See the rat king at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb5PThXxblE.
There were many parts of New York that smelled terrible because many major streets had groups of garbage bags that were placed right on the side walk. No wonder Garcia Lorca wrote:
Ah filthy New York
New York of cables and death
What angel do you carry concealed in your cheek?
What ineffable voice will speak the truths of your wheat?
Who, the terrible dreams of your tainted anemones?
Well that’s all for now folks. Thanks for reading. I hope to hear from some of you soon.