Sunday, July 31, 2005

Coney Island

Visited his grave the morning of 17 February 1987, election day in Eire.

“Compulsive homage: The slab over his and Georgie’s coffins a little broken, as if a foot had fallen through. Out my window: Ben Bulben. Some ice on Lough Gill as I drive around it to see--the lake isle of Innisfree. Then the great house at Lissadell. Why? Yeats’ country: his poems are on the menus, his image on the 20 punt note. The original Coney Island is in Sligo Bay.”


The I.R.A. recently offered to turn over their weapons to the British. Probably they get their weapons from the same sources as Al-Qaida and don't want to be tarred with that brush.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tourism and Terrorism

There is currently a huge security contingent on the Staten Island Ferry and at the terminals: uniformed unarmed minimum-wage watchmen; U.S. Coast Guard; N.Y.P.D.; and a pack of well-behaved bomb dogs. Tourists flock to the ferry. How can security tell a tourist from a terrorist? Tourists pet the bomb dogs. (Terrorists scurry past.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Irish Terror Tour

In February 1988 I went to Ireland to read poetry at the University of Cork, but after Cork I drove around Ireland for three weeks. Belfast was for me the real attraction. The British had imposed various anti-terrorist measures. My hotel, for one thing, was famous as the most bombed building in Europe, and consequently the Brits had built a secondary building outside the hotel and everybody and everything was stopped there and searched for guns, bombs, malice. Downtown sidewalks were one-way; gates effectively forced pedestrians in the correct direction. Many stores with plywood windows advertised “Bomb Sales.” I asked the pretty desk clerk where the Catholics lived. She was sure she didn’t know, she said. Then, reconsidering her partisan snappishness, she opined that the bell captain might know. How could I have forgotten? The I.R.A., of course, controlled Falls Road.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

9/11 and John Cage

On the morning of 11 September 2001 I was in Kinko’s just north of the World Trade Center. I was Xeroxing all the material John Cage had contributed to my magazine, Unmuzzled OX. I thought it might make a good book. But there was a lot of material and it was complex. And then there was a loud noise and Kinko’s rocked. It was probably a gas explosion, I thought. Somebody had been careless. I continued Xeroxing. Cage was tricky. As I worked, I happened to glance out the window, and saw flames and smoke a few blocks south. Yes, I decided, someone had been very careless. But then there was another tremendous explosion. Not only did the building move, but rubble bounced off the shaking window. I stopped Xeroxing. You know the rest except for one thing. I’ve started a John Cage blog.
(The blog also concerns Ray Johnson.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Security Clearance

While Clinton was president, I taught creative writing via the Internet to the U.S. military in Europe. My students could be anywhere from Iceland to Turkey, but the main office, so to speak, was Frankfurt. I thought I was very cool. Months before NATO entered Bosnia, my best student was there. He was my only Jewish student and had been a semi-professional soccer player in Europe before joining the military and special forces. He was sent to Bosnia on a secret mission--really, he indicated it was a secret mission, and that’s why he had to drop my course. But, as for me, that course soon became a tedious job; it amounted to grading papers. Many colleagues were divorce exiles, i.e. fathers avoiding alimony and child-support payments in the U.S. At least they were actually in Europe. In those days the recruitment slogan was, “Be all you can be.” Sergeants would leave the military after 20 years with a B.A. Yet somehow I didn’t get along with sergeants. And what I thought were unique interactions with my students were, in fact, clichéd commonplaces to a huge branch of the American educational establishment. I wanted to quit, but the computers kept feeding me students. Finally, the U.S.S. Cole was bombed, and an F.B.I. agent in Frankfurt reviewed my security clearance. She sent dumb questionnaires. I got cheeky. I called her a cretin. I didn’t know she was German. The German asked the dean, “what’s a cretin?” Upon receiving the correct answer, she cancelled my security clearance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thanks for dinner, Osama!

Fran Bull is in a group show at the Caelum Gallery in Chelsea. After the opening last night, I took Colette to a fancy restaurant. Just when I was about to ask for the check, the hostess stopped at our table, and told us the police had asked everyone to leave. It seems there was a suspicious package on the corner, and the bomb squad had been called. After waiting around for ten or fifteen minutes, we left without being able to pay.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Smut & Silliness

I love Angelica Archangelica’s Smut and Silliness because Angelica is an Australian Vietnamese Catholic beauty with a PhD in Gerard Manley Hopkins and I love her personally and, more specifically, despite my advanced age, dream of sleeping with her. You have to pay close attention to a woman if you ever hope to bed her. This might involve feigning she doesn’t exist. Although she stayed with me in New York, she has asked me not to visit her in Australia. Australia doesn’t exist. Internet dating can transform a man into Actaeon:

Gold diggers of the Internet
having low literary intent

secretly fat & menopausal,
let Actaeon glimpse them

in naughty thirty-year-old photos:
once kittenish J.A.P. or Ho or Virgin

but now in truth so sad and lonely.
Onan was killed by this huntress’ hounds.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Cher Michel,
Par chance mon fils Thommy et sa copine n'etaient pas dans les wagons du metro touches par les bombes. Ils etaient tous les deux en retard ... mais leurs lignes ont ete touchees. Keiko a du sortir du metro en route a son boulot a Victoria station et Thommy n'avait pas encore atteint le metro quand les bombes ont saute. C'est affreux ce qui s'est passe. Et le pire c'est qu'il parait que ce sont des fanatiques vivant a londres qui ont fait cela. Ils auraient pu avoir leurs parents ou amis comme victimes...
Je venais juste d'arriver de Londres la veille. Tout le monde prend le metro la-bas, c'est le meilleur moyen de circuler.
Et toi comment vas-tu?
Bisous, bisous.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Two of the four al-Qaida bombs struck Bloomsbury, the heart of intellectual London. Russell Square was my tube stop the last time I stayed in London. It’s between the British Library and the British Museum; across the street from University College, London; a hundred yards from a little plaque to T.S.Eliot. I can almost understand why al-Qaida would set off a bomb at Liverpool Station--that’s in the financial district, the City. But Bloomsbury? At first, I thought, al-Qaida simply made a mistake--why would they attack the poetry and the mind of Britain? But, then, remembering their Islamic persecution of Rushdie, I decided that the target was intentional. Why steal someone’s gold when you want to stab their heart?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Elizabeth Taylor on Fire Island

I'm back from a few days on Fire Island. I stayed in a house owned by the granddaughter of Sherwood Anderson, author of Winesburg, Ohio. She has no interest in literature. She summers on Fire Island, winters in New Orleans. She's 69, and likes to sunbathe nude. The best part of the little vacation was a National Park ranger tour of the dunes, and the swale, and the maritime forest, and the salt marsh. I now can pronounce phragmites. But I'm stuck in New York for the air-conditioned moviehouse season, and I‘m working on another blog: