Under the Channel to Paris

DC3 in snowMy first trip across the English Channel was back in 1966. ‘For five quid each,’ the London travel agent said with a wink, ‘I can get you and your girl friend to Paris for Christmas and back, by air! Howzat?’

Pretty good, I thought – I can just about afford five pounds, a third of my weekly wage. But by air? Did he say by air?

A very old bus took us out of London through the frozen winter countryside. Many hours later – it seemed like days – we arrived at the edge of a windswept icy field overlooking the sea. We strapped ourselves into the canvas seats of a World War II vintage DC-3 with its two gigantic petrol engines thundering and lurched off the edge of the cliff into the teeth of a snow-storm.

Continue reading “Under the Channel to Paris”

Whitman: Question; Ginsberg: Answer

Walt Whitman was thirty-seven when he published this poem:

Excerpt: “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (from «Leaves Of Grass», 1856)

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west – sun there half an hour high – I see you also face to face.
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose.
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me; and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

Continue reading “Whitman: Question; Ginsberg: Answer”

Sick baby hoax

“Anti-scam websites beg Facebook to remove sick baby hoaxes”: This type of hoax involves photographs of ill and/or disabled children in hospitals being shared virally across Facebook. Sometimes the hoax asks Facebook users to donate for the child’s medical expenses and other times it promises that sharing the photo will result in donations from Facebook itself. Both claims are false: if you donate money, you’re just giving it straight to the scammer, and if you share the photo, you’re only helping the hoax become viral… Families often find it very unsettling to learn photos of their sick relatives have been used to perpetuate these scams and hoaxes… Once an image like that is on the Internet and has spread far and wide… there’s no way to have it taken down…

[From: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/]

Bruce Beaver

Bruce Beaver 1984
Sydney poet Bruce Beaver, Manly, 1984. Photo (c) John Tranter. Click to see a full-size image.

The poet Bruce Beaver died in the early hours of the 17th of February 2004 after a long illness. He was 76 years old.

Bruce was born in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly on 14 February 1928, and returned there to live and write for the last half of his life.

His first poem was written as a teenager in 1945 in response to the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima: he wrote it the evening the bombing was announced. At around the same time he suffered the first of many attacks of manic-depressive psychosis or bipolar disorder, setting a pattern: poetry, mania and depression would accompany him on his life’s journey. Medication was variously helpful in keeping him on a relatively even keel, though he blamed it for the dialysis treatment he had to undergo through the last decade of his life.

Continue reading “Bruce Beaver”

Arise, Sir Migraine

Professor HillI noted the other day that British poet Geoffrey Hill had been awarded a knighthood for services to literature by Queen Elizabeth of England Et Cetera. Kind of her to notice a poet. The «Bromsgrove Advertiser» notes that Professor Hill was born in Bromsgrove and brought up in Fairfield where his father was a village policeman. His mother made hand-made nails in a room at the back of their shop.

When I was in London in 1996 I read for Poetry International, at the London Southbank Centre, with Polish poet Tadeus Rosewicz, British poet Anne Stevenson and German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger, on the evening of Hallowe’en, 31 October. I had met Mr Enzensberger some years before when he visited Australia under the auspices of the Goethe Institute, and I felt it a great honour to share the platform with one of Europe’s most brilliant and incisive writers, Germany’s “Chancellor of Irony”. The house was full, the audience was very responsive, and I felt the evening was a great success.

Geoffrey Hill also read that night, dressed in what seemed to be a home-made sackcloth garment, which made him look like the priest of some neglected Christian cult. He prefaced his reading with a lugubrious complaint about how hard it was to write poetry, and how painful to have to read it aloud in public. That is, in front of us, most of whom had paid to be there for exactly that purpose. His demeanor was that of a man bravely suffering a dreadful headache.

Well, if you don’t like it, don’t do it, I thought to myself. No one’s making you.

Driving home later in a taxi through the midnight wilderness of service bays and construction equipment at the rear of the Southbank Centre, I noticed a lively fox quickly cross the road and disappear into an alley.

The Pasadena poet Ron Koertge

Ron Koertge, 2008

The Pasadena poet Ron Koertge is one of my favourite poets. There’s something about the way he sees things that I really like, though I can’t put my finger on it. It would be easy to say his vision of life is not unlike that of Edward Hopper. But nor is it unlike that of Nabokov in America, with its bright pastel colors, European irony and surreal excursions. Sometimes it reminds me of the suburban heroics and small defeats in the movie «American Graffiti», and at other times of Proust pottering about in the Galeries Lafayette thinking about photography, or Allen Ginsberg bumping into Walt Whitman in “A Supermarket in California”. Of course it is not any of these things.

He has a lively interest in technique, and a thoughtful and kindly view of contemporary urban mythologies. Anyway, see for yourself: you’ll find many of his poems in «Jacket» magazine.

Ron Koertge – Five poems in Jacket 1

His homage to Frank O’Hara in Jacket 10

Poem: “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” in Jacket 11

Three poems in Jacket 16

Three ghazals in Jacket 35

Three poems: in Jacket 38

Hints: How to Have More Fun With this Journal

Please be aware that the Front Page of this Journal only holds say ten posts;
if you wish to see more (and there are hundreds more!)
please scroll down to the foot of the Front Page,
and click on the link that says Older Posts.

From then on, you’ll see a link to Older Posts at the top left of each page,
and you’ll see a link to Newer Posts at the top right.

Also, to see a page full of posts relating only to a particular Category,
click on one of the bullet-listed “Categories” at the top right of the Front Page.

Have fun!

Lord Bloody Wog Rolo

Lord Rolo

Born 1 July 1945, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Died 3 December 2007 (aged 62), New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia
Occupation Greenie, Socialist & Shameless Agitator

Rolo Mestman Tapier (1 July 1945 – 3 December 2007) otherwise known as Lord Bloody Wog Rolo was a colourful eccentric Sydney identity and one of the founding members of BUGAUP (Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions). Rolo was a highly intelligent and articulate man, and was said to speak five languages fluently – English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French… Argentine born Rolo first came to the attention of the Sydney community in 1979 when he renounced his pledge of allegiance to the Queen immediately following his immigration citizenship ceremony on the grounds that he was a republican and the Queen was not a democratically elected representative of the people. The renunciation caused a furore… Later in 1981, Rolo publicly apologised and… claimed he now saw that the Monarchy was the best system for Australia and to make amends he changed his name by deed poll to Lord Bloody Wog Rolo – to provide a service between Royal visits for those who wanted to curtsey and pay homage to royalty. He stated he was so adamant that the monarchical system was the best that he proposed all Australian-born children should also swear allegiance to the crown and be deported if they refused… As a mark of his true respect for all things royal, Rolo founded the British Ultra Loyalist League Serving Historical Interests Today and loudly and cheerfully proclaimed to anybody who queried the meaning of the name, that the answer was B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.

More about this widely-liked Australian eccentric on Wikipedia.

Farce Double

Harry Mathews
Harry Mathews

My discussion of the recipe for “Fegato a la Veneziana” has stirred up some interest. But for a recipe to end all recipes, Oulipo member and talented American-born writer Harry Mathews has a recipe that will make your eyeballs bulge in disbelief: «Country Cooking from Central France: Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double)».

It is part of his collection «The Way Home» which can be ordered from http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/mathewsh/wayhome.htm

Here is a brief taste of Mr Mathews’ baroque and heroic recipe:

Marinate the lamb in a mixture of 2 qts of white wine, 2 qts of olive oil, the juice of 16 lemons, salt, pepper, 16 crushed garlic cloves, 10 coarsely chopped yellow onions, basil, rosemary, melilot, ginger, allspice, and a handful of juniper berries. The juniper adds a pungent, authentic note. In Auvergne, shepherds pick the berries in late summer when they drive their flocks from the mountain pastures. They deposit the berries in La Tour Lambert, where they are pickled through the winter in cider brandy. The preparation is worth making, but demands foresight.

If no bowl is capacious enough for the lamb and its marinade, use a washtub. Without a tub, you must improvise. Friends of mine in Paris resort to their bidet; Americans may have to fall back on the kitchen sink, which is what I did the first time I made farce double. In La Tour Lambert, most houses have stone marinating troughs. Less favored citizens use the municipal troughs in the entrance of a cave in the hillside, just off the main square.

The lamb will have marinated satisfactorily in 5 or 6 days.

Allow yourself 3 hours for the stuffings. The fish balls or quenelles that are their main ingredient can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated until an hour before use.

Continue reading “Farce Double”

Barbou, the Font that Monotype Forgot

Fournier: Manuel Typographique
It’s hard to believe that Monotype, a successful company and a great font house with a history of brilliant design behind it, could cut two slightly different versions of a distinctive eighteenth-century font, and choose the wrong one to preserve; but such happened in the 1920s to “Fournier” — attractive enough, if a little plain — and its more beautiful sister “Barbou”. The great typographic historian Stanley Morison described what happened. (In his account below, the “typographical adviser” who was absent abroad was in fact Mr Morison himself.) One can well imaging the trembling teacups and curt conversations when he returned to find that Monotype had preserved the wrong font. Mr Morison was largely responsible for the design of the ubiquitous “Times New Roman” in the early 1930s.

These 3 posts are about Fournier: 1. Barbou  2. Corundum  3. New Fournier BP

Continue reading “Barbou, the Font that Monotype Forgot”

Book Titles can be Tricky

Nikon rangefinder cameras
Years ago I learned to be careful about the names I chose for my various books of poetry. When my first collection of poems appeared it was titled «Parallax and Other Poems». I was rather pleased with the title, which refers to the different field of view obtained when the observer’s position is moved slightly. It’s used in astronomy (the earth keeps moving, but the starts don’t, relatively speaking.) And in photography: rangefinder cameras suffer from parallax error, because the viewfinder is to one side of the lens that takes the picture, and thus the lens sees a slightly different view to the one you see when you take the photo. Poets, you understand, I implied pretentiously, see things just a little differently. Oh well, I was still in my twenties.
Blue Movie, cover

(The photo, top right, is a detail from an advertisement for Nikon rangefinder cameras from the 1950s. The brand first became widely popular when American soldiers returned from the Korean War, 1950-53, with the Nikons they had purchased on leave in Japan.)

The poet David Malouf congratulated me on the publication of the book. “And what’s the meaning behind the reference to the Nancy Cunard volume?” he enquired. I had not read Nancy Cunard’s poetry, and was nonplussed. David explained: “That’s the title of her third book of poetry. «Parallax», 1925. Good title.” Was I mortified? Well… just a little.

For my second book I had chosen the title “Blue Movie”, but with the vision of a smiling David Malouf hovering over my shoulder, I decided to check the catalogue of the local library.Candy, book coverSure enough, the title had already been used, by the literary smart-alec Terry Southern, who also wrote the brilliantly outrageous novel «Candy» (with Mason Hoffenberg), and the script for the outrageously brilliant 1964 movie «Doctor Strangelove». I chose “Red Movie” instead, rather resentfully, though later I came to prefer its obliqueness.

It was David Malouf, I think (I’m remembering things that happened over forty years ago), who said he was tempted when reviewing a book titled «Towards Silence» (perhaps UK poet Edward Lucie-Smith’s book of that name, published in 1968) to say only that “For this author, a step in the right direction.”

If you lose, game over

“Imagine a scenario where your next job interview isn’t face-to-face, but face-to-screen. There are no questions about your former work experience and office habits. There’s simply a computer game. If you win, you get the job. If you lose, game over.

“They’re called “employment simulations,” and they’re gaining popularity among high-tech firms that are seeking data from prospective employees that you can’t get from sit-down interviews.”

At The Atlantic.

Why is modern poetry so difficult?

W.H. Auden

The other day a friend asked me why modern poetry is so difficult. Don’t you hate that? Of course it’s difficult, or you wouldn’t bother reading it.

The American poet Richard Hugo wrote ornate and sometimes cryptic verse, and he had a defence ready when people accused his poems of failing to communicate. ‘If you want to communicate,’ he’d say, ‘use the telephone.’

‘But poetry didn’t used to be difficult,’ my friend said, appealing to the widespread folk belief in a golden age when capitalism was kind to poor people, and poetry was easy to understand. I gave a hollow laugh, and reminded her of Auden’s 1939 epigram ‘Epitaph on a Tyrant’. It begins ‘Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after / And the poetry he invented was easy to understand…’

Continue reading “Why is modern poetry so difficult?”

Goodbye, Kodachrome

Red BoxFrom the Luminous Landscape site:

[…] George Eastman stumbled onto one of the most durable of industrial products, one that remained viable and modern for 100 years, always improving, and in the process working its way into every corner of modern society.Toward the end, when the company closed down coating lines and destroyed large buildings to get them off the tax rolls, employees and retirees would come to witness the demolition. When the destruction ended, some could be seen openly weeping, as if part of their souls had been taken down. They remembered when the company was strong and good to them.

On some level, an unconscious level for sure, the name Kodak, and the company’s products, are attached to our history, both large and small, from images of space to the snapshots of a newborn baby. Kodak was there for all these events, and this accounts for the odd feeling of grief we feel over its bankruptcy.

I think it must be a rare thing to have such feelings for a business enterprise. But great enterprises, like great people, eventually meet their end, and life goes on, for better or worse, without them. Still, it does seem a great loss.

© 2012 by Michael Chiusano; February, 2012. Michael Chiusano is a retired advertising photographer who took his own studio through a film-to-digital transition. He now works on personal shooting projects, teaches classes about photography history, and hangs out with his two grown children. michael.chiusano@comcast.net www.chiusanodigital.com

Read the whole article.

Photo: New York City, photo by John Tranter on Kodak 120 Film.