Saturday, December 31, 2011

POEM.

DRAWING DOWN

As they Flow in your onion skin Italian books
Dream mists and half askance stares

Lines thick with moments brushed against your lips
Shades of moons left in brown mustard jars

The pens pin so many possibilities
Point by point by point

Capture the advent
With your whorls

*

In Dimension 4692
we are ruled by brown corduroy
which sits on its metal throne
handing out decrees
by the fistful
constantly on guard
worried about a coup
from within
armed with pinking shears
and hot ideas
long the days
they have reigned

*

Take each of the pens
Cobble out the history of time

With each new onion skin
Fill Italian books with a new understanding

Break down the hold of brown corduroy
Break down the hot ideas of rebellion

Turn each moment into mist
With your whorls

*

In Dimension 4692
Like silk worms embraced
we leave our effluvium
interwoven with the mist
forming a new fabric
upon which to draw
new moments of ecstasy
formulating new rule
in which Adam and Eve
feast on the flesh of the brown snake
seasoned slightly
with the pale scent of the apple.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cheap Thrills - TESTAMENT #12

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This Column Originally Ran on COMICS BULLETIN
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

December 14, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
TESTAMENT #12
Published by: Vertigo Comics
Written by: Douglas Rushkoff
Art by: Peter Gross (layouts) and Gary Erskine (finishes)


HUMANS MUST NEVER LEARN THAT THE TEXT KEEPS CHANGING...

In January of 2007, the American Astronomical Society announced that it had discovered a “triple quasar,” Japanese fishermen discovered a rare Frilled Shark, Scottish scientists successfully engineered hens to produce useful drugs in their eggs, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, the Hitachi company broke the 1 terabyte barrier for hard disk capacity, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand on the Doomsday clock to five minutes to midnight.

We buried Gerald Ford, saw the death of Robert Anton Wilson, and became enthralled in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade.

January of 2007 was fecund, ripe with the rewriting of history.

Into this fecundity, Vertigo Comics released issue twelve of Douglas Rushkoff's Testament.

Douglas Rushkoff is an American media-theorist, sort of a philosopher of our digital times, who thinks long and hard about how media impacts society. He is a very bright man who says some very interesting and important things, much of which is outside the purview of a column focused on bargain bin comics.

For my purposes, though, I need to bring up Rushkoff's 2003 book, Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism. The basic thesis of this polemic is that "Judaism is a religion dedicated to media literacy." It is a religion, like almost all others, that is based on texts which have been brought into societal consciousness as being a set of rules, tenets, and historical events. But for Rushkoff, as he states in a 2005 interview with Comic Book Resources, “(I)t's actually the story of a revolution-- both of a bunch of people, and of human consciousness. It's a proposition for an open source reality and a set of guidelines for how to break the news to real people who love to believe in idols."

Rushkoff sees the core text of religion as being the transferring medium that creates a particular perception of reality which adherents view as truth. If the media is altered, the perception of reality it has spawned is altered too, and what passes for truth is newly understood.

These sorts of pronouncements can get a person in some serious trouble, especially with an entrenched organization whose very livelihood rests on a particular set of “truths.”

Rushkoff goes on to say in the CBR interview, “I learned early on in life that if you have something that might be truly dangerous to say, say it in comics.”

And this brings us to our bargain bin Testament #12 and some serious mind-fuckery.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- JON DAVIS

Jon Davis has his own Wikipedia entry. On it, it says, "He was born in New Haven, Connecticut and received a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, where he was editor of the literary journal, CutBank. He has served as Writing Program Coordinator for The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, edited the literary journals Shankpainter and Countermeasures: A Magazine of Poetry & Ideas, and taught at the University of Montana, College of Santa Fe, and Salisbury State University. He is currently a professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Jon Davis is the author of three chapbooks and three full-length collections of poetry. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including a Lannan Literary Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MIRIAM GOODMAN

Miriam Goodman, poet, editor, photographer, and teacher, most recently studied in the Photography Atelier program of the Radcliffe and Lesley Seminars and in the evening workshop program of the New England School of Photography (NESOP).

She is the author of three books of poetry including “Commercial Traveler” 1996, Garden Street Press, “Signal: Noise” 1982, and “Permanent Wave”, 1977 Alice James Books. Her photographs have appeared, on book jackets, in literary magazines, CD packaging and on the web.

A great rememberance of her and her work can be found here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poets You Should Know - JAMES VLADIMIR GILL

NOT James Vladimir Gill
JAMES VLADIMIR GILL
(1927 - 1995)
In April, I was informed by his family that James Vladimir Gill, a contributing editor of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, died suddenly at his home in Lausanne, Switzerland. I never met James, but we had a rewarding correspondence over the last four years. He was a gifted poet, novelist and essayist, and for many years, he edited the influential literary magazine 2PLUS2. Above all, he was a gentleman. He agreed to become a contributing editor of a little-known journal, and the poets he directed my way have helped to give it stature. Moreover, he offered me invaluable advice, and never asked for anything in return. At times, to be quite frank, I have felt like giving up this
magazine, overwhelmed by the work it involves. At one of those times, I wrote James, asking him if it was all worth it. He wrote back, "Everything in our delicately balanced little life is worth it if it is worthwhile, if one can affect even in the smallest way a reader's perception beyond the prosaic, the flamboyant, the commercial, and let him touch the fleeting magic of the ineffable." He was, of course, right.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheap Thrills - COYOTE #7

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

December 7, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
COYOTE #7
Published by: Epic Comics
Written by: Steve Englehart
Art by: Chas Truog


SOOKIN SIN!

“My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” It's August 1984 and the leader of the free world at the time, the venerable Ronald Reagan, spews this into a live microphone during a voice check before recording his weekly radio address. Sure the geezer is just telling a joke. Sure it's not broadcast (although later leaked). But do you remember 1984? Things were kind of tense in terms of our relationship with the Soviet Union. There were nuclear weapons pointed at each others' faces. To have the President of the United States make this kind of joke in the midst of these tensions still kinda makes my testicles retract into my abdomen.

Such was the mid-80's, though, I guess.

Hell, in August of 1984, John De Lorean got acquitted of 8 charges of possessing and distributing cocaine. Even Doc Brown was surprised.

Richard Burton died. Truman Capote died. W.A.S.P. released their debut album.

Other than The Red Hot Chili Peppers releasing Red Hot Chili Peppers, there wasn't much to howl about in August 1984.

Speaking of howling, August of 1984 was also when Epic Comics published Steve Englehart's Coyote #7.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- JOHN BRADLEY

John Bradley was born in Brooklyn. He grew up in Germany, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Minnesota (Wayzata!). His itinerant childhood was a result of his traveling salesman father. He has always loved books. Music is a big influence upon him. The lyrics of bands like The Beatles and The Doors made him want to start writing poetry. He has published a number of collections of poetry and also has taught at Northern Illinois University.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Convenient Truths -- OBJECTIFIED

This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, Daniel Elkin curls up in front of the TV and delves deep into the bowels of Netflix Streaming Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today he found 2009's Objectified by Gary Hustwit.


Objectified is a documentary about industrial design, the products and the people behind them. It is also a film about our relationship with the objects around us, both in how we use them to define ourselves, as well as interact with the world. It is also about the unintended consequences of the preponderance of objects in our lives.

This is a beautiful movie. Objectified seems to be as much a product of careful design intention as the objects which it celebrates. There is a clean sleekness to the film that allows the narrative to flow in a seamless manner. The story of Objectified is told through a series of interviews with some of the top designers in the industry, people whose names and faces you may not recognize, but many of their designs have permeated our culture to such an extent that the products themselves have almost reached an iconic place in our consciousness.

Objectified gives its audience some historical perspective on the field of industrial design, originating from the need to mass produce arrows for ancient Chinese archers. Design has become so pervasive now, though, that nearly every man made object you come in contact with in your daily life was first part of someone's presentation to a manufacturer. Take a look around you right now. From the device upon which you are reading this column, to the glass you keep your beverage in, to the phone nearby, to the clock on the wall, to the chair you are sitting upon, to the clothes on your back, all of it was designed by someone. How it looks, how you interact with it, and, more importantly, how you feel about the object are all the result of the decisions of the designer. As the movie says, “Everything that fills the world has been designed.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MARK CUNNINGHAM


Mark Cunningham's poems have appeared in recent issues of Alice Blue and Dusie. He's had two chapbooks published, including one on the Mudlark Web site (2002) and one of the Right Hand Pointing Web site (2006). Tarpaulin Sky Press will be bringing out a book, tentatively titled Body Language, a sort of diptych containing two serparate collections, one titled Body (on parts of the body) and one titled Primer (on numbers and letters).

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Other Men I Could Be

Google Image Search. Use it to find yourself.


Vascular surgery's evolution at Emory University School of Medicine began with Dr. Daniel Elkin's 1930-1955 tenure as the first Chair of the Department of Surgery. An Emory graduate who completed his surgical residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston under the mentorship of Dr. Harvey Cushing, Dr. Elkin can rightfully be considered — along with Dr. Rudolph Matas — one of the original fathers of vascular surgery in the United States.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Molly Crabapple's Week In Hell

Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell from Brainwomb on Vimeo.


In September of 2011 artist/illustrator Molly Crabapple locked herself in a hotel room in New York City, covered the walls in paper and set about covering that paper with art. Funded with an impressive Kickstarter campaign Molly drew 270 feet of art over the course of a week. A week filled with musicians, performers, press, absinthe and drawing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheap Thrills - MOBY DUCK #21

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN.
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 30, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
MOBY DUCK #21
Published by: Whitman Comics
Written by: Vic Lockman(?)
Art by: Kay Wright


OH, SCUTTLE ME DUFFLEBAG!

December 1975 was a time of duality. While Carlos the Jackal kidnapped delegates at the OPEC conference in Vienna, Punk magazine released its inaugural issue with a drawing of Lou Reed on the cover.

Speaking of Lou Reed, in December 1975 he released his album Coney Island Baby. As a counterpoint, The Bay City Rollers released Wouldn't You Like It.

One Day at a Time premiered on CBS and foisted Valerie Bertinelli into wet dreams of teenage boys across the country. To provide the Yang to this Yin, the writer Thornton Wilder died.

In the strangest juxtaposition of them all, December of 1975 saw the formation of the band Iron Maiden and the birth of Milla Jovovich.

Into this heady brew of duelism, though, a singular event was shot across the national bow. This event was the publication of Moby Duck #21.

Thirty-six years later, I close my eyes (only for a moment, and then the moment's gone), reach into the bargain bin at my local comic shop, and grab hold of a rather worn copy of Moby Duck #21, missing its first two pages.

Luckily for me (and you), Moby Duck #21 has two stories contained within its cover. The first story, the one missing the pages, concerns Moby's tribulations with a “Two-Faced Buccaneer”. The second story in this comic remains intact and is called “The Dread Sea Adventure.” It is this story that shall be the focus of this installment of Cheap Thrills.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Convenient Truths -- IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, Daniel Elkin curls up in front of the TV and delves deep into the bowels of Netflix Streaming Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

Today I found 2011's If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, produced and directed by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman.


If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is ostensibly about the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a “leaderless international coalition of radical environmental groups” formed in the 1990's as a response to the the Environmental Movement's inability to gain any traction stopping the wholesale destruction of the natural world by corporations in their quest for greater profits. Members of the ELF began to fight against what they perceived as the rape of the environment with their own form of destruction, setting fire to timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge in Vail, Colorado. Because of these escalating acts of arson and property damage, in March of 2001 the F.B.I. designated the ELF as the nation's number one domestic terrorist threat.

The film approaches this story through a number of angles. First and foremost is the story of Daniel McGowen. In December 2005, McGowen was arrested at his office, the same office that director Marshall Curry's wife worked in. This set the wheels of the film in motion, and Curry's prior relationship with McGowen gave him unprecedented access to him and his story while he awaited the verdict of his trial for eco-terrorism.

The film does an excellent job of tracing McGowen's development from the mild-mannered son of a New York policeman to a radical environmental activist, while at the same time documenting the rise of the ELF, but this is not the fundamental heart of the documentary.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cheap Thrills - CAPTAIN AMERICA #393

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 23, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
CAPTAIN AMERICA #393
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Mark Gruenwald
Art by: Larry Alexander


AS YOU MIGHT GUESS, THIS IS NOT THE REAL THING.

Politics and sex had never been such intimate bedfellows as they were in October 1991. This was when we all got to watch the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee interview Anita Hill about Supreme Court candidate Clarence Thomas' alleged sexual harassment of her. Children all over the nation began asking each other, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?”

This was also the month that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton announced his bid for the 1992 Democratic nomination for President.

Thomas was made Justice. Clinton became President. The nation's libido was rocking.

October 1991 also saw the release of Jim Varney's comic masterpiece, Ernest Scared Stupid, into movie theaters. Public Enemy released their album Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Black right around the same day as Vanilla Ice released Cool as Ice.

Tennessee Ernie Ford died in October 1991 at the age of 72.

Marvel Comics published Captain America #393.

It is this last fact that will be the focus of this column, as it is Captain America #393 that I pulled out of the bargain bin (instead of, thankfully, the decaying corpse of Tennessee Ernie Ford).