Monday, August 11, 2014

The Square Just Off Fleet Street

Planet, Earthgirl, and I saw the Landless Theatre Company's production of a prog-rock Sweeney Todd yesterday. It's true as I've stated often: I don't like Broadway musicals, even contemporary ones, not just the old shitty farts that high schools put on in the Spring that parents are emotionally blackmailed into attending and emotionally extorted into paying ridiculous ticket prices. Kismit! I had a compelling reason to attend: good friend and colleague Mr Alarum was one of the music arrangers and was lead guitarist in the tight five piece band. Mr Alarum says this is first rock version of Sweeney Todd that Stephen Sondheim has ever permitted, and that Sondheim will attend one of the shows. Let's hope his driver can find the place: the address on venue's website is wrong, and the entrance to the theater is across an abandoned parking that leads into a perfect cul-de-sac for a mugging. I will always hate the old shitty farts the high schools put on in the Spring that parents are emotionally blackmailed into attending and emotionally extorted into paying ridiculous ticket prices; I may never learn to like contemporary Broadways, but this was terrific, great fun.

  • Thomas Frank brings the duh: I have spent many years deriding the right, and I have to admit, it has been a hoot. The conservative world is an endless shooting gallery of hypocrites, con men, narcissists, and walking examples of this or that species of cognitive malfunction. In fact, whacking the wingers is such a fun pastime that it is ballooning in popularity these days: The crazy right now furnishes reliable material for our generation’s best comedians, and laughing at the benighted japes of the GOPers is, for many of us, the closest we come to real political involvement.
  • Posted to rebuke me, btw. If I got there a few years earlier than Frank that doesn't mean that wasn't once me.
  • Democratic Middle-East envoy: Blame Hamas.
  • Why bomb civilians?
  • Hillarian Inevitability and its consequences.
  • The motherfuckering.
  • The motherfuckering.
  • The New Inquiry's Sunday readings.
  • Maggie's weekly links.
  • { feuilleton }'s weekly links.
  • The Amazan-Hachette fight: the view from a self-published writer.
  • The pilot.
  • New Edvard Graham Lewis. He's also Wire's bassist. MSADI5G, there is a Wire cascade in your not-too-distant future.


Debora Gregor

And in that city the houses of the dead
are left empty, if the dead are famous enough;   
by day the living pay to see if dust is all
      that befalls the lives they left behind.

      Coating even the glassed-in waistcoat in time,   
coloring the air of the room stripped bare,   
down four stories of twisted stair it falls,
      down on the dictionary no longer there.

      Empty your pockets,
empty your hearts, that empty upper room exhorts.   
Forget the scrap of paper with the missing word   
      for what’s missing—

      go home to your rented room.
Go on. Six cramped quills, one elbow chair, missing a leg,
held up all those years by Johnson’s willing it to hold   
      his bulk—now even the “soul hath elbowroom

      in that room where scribes scribbled out that quote.   
In that city the dead never want to get up,   
just as in life. What can we offer them?
      Just this dust to cover them deeper,

      kin to the soot that shadowed their days.
Kiss from a wife who no longer wanted to be touched—
love, he held, regarded with passionate affection,   
      like one sex to the other, first; or, second,

      made do with the affection of a friend; or
managed merely parental tenderness, third; or, fourth,   
no more than pleasure with, delighting in; or, fifth,   
      no less than the reverent unwillingness to offend.

      O had a long sound, as in alone. Her opium.
On clean-shirt day he would pay a visit to his wife.   
Pack meant large bundle of any thing—“on your head
      a pack of sorrows.”

      Quiet. The square just off Fleet Street
so quiet Carlyle got lost on his way there.
Remember the garret floorboards’ complaint, the muffled
      ruffling of pigeons just overhead?

      Such silence we fell into
stair by stair, the house to ourselves.
Tired of London, he claimed, and one was   
      tired of life. Were we just tired?

      Under the low ceiling as below deck,
up where no angle was true, we sank in deeper silence,   
valedictory, the way it took us in.
      Volumes of ancient air closed around us, blank,

      weighted by the latest dust.
What had we come to the house of the dead to see? Something
exotic? The zebra presented to the queen in 1726? Something
      exactly as it might have been? Did you

      yawn first, back among the living?
You pulled me from traffic rushing downstream instead of up,
that Zambezi best forded from stripe to painted stripe,   
      a “zebra crossing.” I’d looked the wrong way.


  1. speaking of cats, they were doing a lot of that at the 828 comments for "A Man and His Cat" by Tim Kreider, NY Times, Aug. 1 -

    my own poetic contribution got three recommendations, and surprisingly i seem not to have posted it here yet (although there are other web spots that have seen it twice)

    it is, perhaps, my greatest work of literature, so far - although my MICFiC elevator pitch, my sonnet about my manic episode, and the suppressed ending of "It's A Wonderful Life" are arguably as good, or better - and don't miss my piece on The People's Catholic Church and Pope Maurice, available at Scribd - some might say these last two are too derivative, but i would argue that my transformation of the source materials shows real artistry - but enough of that - read about my loyal cat, instead, who would always come to the door to greet me, and would return to the house from elsewhere in the neighborhood, where he went to hunt and kill large insects and small birds and mammals, when i called his name or whistled in a particular way -

    I admired my late cat Pau's authenticity and engagement with life, and strove to live up to his unconditional trust. Here is a rap rhyme in his honor:

    This is your Pau - what a great cat
    Enjoy your Pau and love him like that

    Groove with the rhythm, bopping down the block
    move his paws and tail as he go hip-hop

    Purr at your neighbor, purr at the sky
    Life is a blessing - why ask why

    Energy moving his fur and bones -
    This is his life - this is his home

    Something good happen - maybe soon
    Maybe next week - maybe next June

    Count all your blessings - let go of strife
    This is your Pau - treasure his life

  2. where you were of the at the beginning here mention is an interesting co' pare to where i mention that i was in the post comments last, i arrived late so just in the el moc. for a moment ..then out standing under the palm lighted not by sky showers of light just that palm if you know the place , ..just a huge talk of coming down palm, with the band at length talking about some delight ful tells about hanging with many well known band members over the years , it was theatre /street version of your .. of the able of the bodies of the group and myself and the way we communicate when we have met up here and there over the years , the most telling in this dance was someth. of brian jones and swimming,