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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

Asheville Blogger Meetup

About two hours ago I enjoyed my first Asheville Blogger Meetup at Tomato Cosina Latina. My wife and I wrangled up a babysitter at the last hour (our first one cancelled) and we were off for a blogging good time.

The introductions were a bit odd because they usually start out:

"Hi Screwy Hoolie, I'm 1000 Black Lines. Oh, your Edgy Mama? I'm 1000 Black Lines. Glad to meet you. So, this is Mr. Edgy Mama. And you're Modern Peasant. Pleasure to meet. Allow me to introduce my wife, Mrs. 1000 Black Lines." Introductions might go easier if we all showed up wearing our blog banners. Okay, okay... they weren't exactly like that.

I did bring my Nikon digi cam along to record the event. But if size has anything to do with it, the Nikon Ashvegas was using should yield better photos. I'll let you guess who is who. I'm the one behind the camera. Ashvegas is back here too.

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I posted more photos at BlogAsheville.

The food at Tomato Cosina Latina was incredible. I definately suggest trying that place. The conversations around the table were mixed but always stimulating. I really enjoyed my conversation with Modern Peasant about graphic design before MAC, iPods and blogs. I also enjoyed brief conversations with Edgy Mama and Screwy Hoolie.

The couple non-bloggers present seemed to have a good time as well.

Open Mics vrs. Literary Events

If you've been to any number of open mic events you are well aware of the anything goes environment. Some people go to perform songs they're still working on while others go to play a song/read a poem and plug a gig they will be doing later that night/week.

I go to practice, learn and listen. But I have to admit, open mics sometimes completely defeat me. Open mic crowds are accepting only because someone else is eager to have their 15 minutes. The applause is pleasant but forced.

Literary events on the other hand jive with energy. People attending these events want to be there. They want to listen and learn and commune at the table of wordsmiths. There is an honest response to the poet and writer.

I didn't attend last night's Beanstreets open mic because I had much writing to accomplish. There's a zone I get in when I write (whether it be sitting at the kitchen table or on the futon). Last week I wrote several sketches and a poem at an open mic... but this week I wanted privacy to prepare a manuscript for an upcoming poetry/music gig. When I organize a reading I want the poems to communicate a theme or motif. I've been at literary events where a poet reads a random collection of poems. But I don't want to deliver randomness... I want to deliver purposeful poetry.

For inspiration I went to the The Academy's website and read this:

In the days leading up to October 7, 1955, postcards circulated in San Francisco inscribed with the slogan, "6 poets at 6 Gallery." The Six Gallery was a run-down art gallery... and the six poets were: Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, and one unknown poet from the East Coast, Allen Ginsberg.

Organized by Ginsberg and his good friend Jack Kerouac, the poetry reading became one of the most notorious literary events of the 1950s. Wine flowed freely from jugs and crowds cheered during the reading. It was in this energized atmosphere that the 29-year-old Ginsberg, having published little up to that point, unveiled an early version of his poem, "Howl," to a mesmerized audience whose relentless cheers of "Go! Go! Go!" brought him to tears by the end of the performance.
--From This Week's Spotlight Essay on The Academy of American Poets


That was a literary event. Not an open mic. I still enjoy doing open mics, but I get real jazzed about poetry gigs.

Just got an email today saying that the organizer of a poetry gig (where I'll be performing) was distributing flyers and posters, which I designed. Two weeks to go. Am I read? Time will tell. Hopefully I'll have my chapbook available for the event.

Stanley Kunitz, Poet

Today is the one hundredth birthday of the poet Stanley Kunitz, born in Worcester Massachusetts (1905), who once said of his childhood, "It was not an auspicious start." His father committed suicide a few weeks before he was born. His mother refused to ever speak about it and never told him anything about his father.

The family dress manufacturing business was bankrupt when the father killed himself. His mother, however, even with three children to support, opened a dry goods shop sewing garments in the back room, and Stanley Kunitz said of his mother, "She was a woman of formidable will, staunch heart, and razor-sharp intelligence, whose only school was the sweatshops of New York."

He decided in the fourth grade that he wanted to be a poet when his teacher had the class read a poem by Robert Herrick with the lines, "Whenas in silks my Julia goes, / Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows / That liquefaction of her clothes." Young Stanley Kunitz loved that word, "liquefaction."

He went to Harvard on a scholarship, lived in the country after college, worked on a farm, and bummed around for a while. In the '50s, he moved to Greenwich Village and started hanging out with painters. He was still relatively unknown when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his third collection in 1958.

His great breakthrough as a writer, he thought, came when his mother and sisters had all died, and he said, "The disappearance of my family liberated me. It gave me a sense that I was the only survivor and if the experiences of my life ... were to be told, it was within my power to do so."

He won the National Book Award when he was 90 for his collection Passing Throu
--From today's The Writer's Almanac

Bele Chere

Today begins a 3-day music festival, Bele Chere. 80 musical acts perform on 6 different stages for the duration of the event. With a couple exceptions, the entire event is free to the general public. Most locals avoid Bele Chere. Personally, I would be more attracted to the event if the musical lineup were a bit more diverse. Mountain Xpress provided a band listing revealing a lot of jam bands, folk musicians, singer/songwriter acts and blues artists. It appears that the Bele Chere organizers aren't really offering a music event for Ashevillians as they are branding this city as a jam/folk/singer/songwriter/blues center to non-locals.

So, my fellow Asheville citizens, does Bele Chere represent your musical taste or do you think Bele Chere is nothing but a billboard with a misleading message?

I still plan on attending some of the shows (if only to take some photos), but I do not plan on devoting a lot of my time downtown. After all I have an Asheville Blogger Meetup to attend tonight and several articles to write tomorrow.

2 bizarre stories, 2 curious questions

I'm doing research for an article that is behind schedule and I came across these two really bizarre stories. I had to share... because I just don't understand this kind of behavior.

Gerardo Flores, 19, was convicted of murder in June in Lufkin, Texas, in the death of the 5-month-old fetus of his girlfriend, Erica Basoria. Flores admitted that he had stood on Basoria's stomach several times at her request to induce a miscarriage, but Basoria had told authorities that she had also punched herself in the stomach several times. Under Texas law, killing a fetus is a capital offense, and so Flores automatically received a life sentence, but Basoria could not be charged because of her constitutional right to abortion.


Standing on a pregnant woman's stomach? What thought process would bring an individual to do that? I'm not a psychologist but I'd guess there was an abnormal fear or self-loathing that triggered that act.

FORT WORTH -- Dana Wilson, 25, convicted of trying to smother her newborn in plastic bags and dumping him in a trash bin was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison. Wilson was stoic Friday afternoon -- as she had been throughout the weeklong trial -- as Judge Elizabeth Berry read the punishment imposed by a Tarrant County jury of seven women and five men.


Again, I just don't know anyone who would be driven to "smother her newborn." I have some pretty disturbing dreams from time to time (funny how the mind connects unrelated ideas into a mental collage and broadcasts it as dreams) but I can't imagine doing that to an infant.

::..

Two questions:

Why do pro-life activists traditionally support the death penalty? It's okay to kill adults but not babies is in their mother's womb. It seems to me that pro-life activists would logically oppose the death penalty.

Why do environmentalists typically believe in evolution? Come on, evolve already! Doesn't it make sense that humanity will evolve despite environmental changes? What are environmentalists afraid of... being left behind?

Being interviewed

I'm being interviewed by a local paper about this blog. Will keep you posted.

Sorry, Try me Again Later

I finished reading the latest issue of Small Press Review and couldn't stop chuckling about one of the reviews by Mark Bruce. In reviewing The Vanishing Point by Carol Hamilton he writes, "I know you worked very hard on these poems... I apologize... because I could not remember one damned poem... and found myself curiously dissatisfied... try me again when I've had more rest."

Ironically, I had a similar "curiously dissatisfied" reaction while reading selections from the most recent issue of The American Poetry Review (APR). The American Poetry Review represents the established voices in American poetry, yet there are some issues of APR that pass through me like a bean burrito.

Beanstreet's Open Mic Night


It was a steamy night in Asheville as I headed to Beanstreet's open mic. The coffee house was hotter than outside which seemed perfect for a congregation of creative energy. Even though sweat ran down my forehead and into my eyes, I ordered a cup of java and renewed friendships with kindred spirits. I listened to young man rip up his guitar with infectious blues rock tunes and another sing ballads but the performance that inspired a poem was a didge (didgeridoo) duet. You got a love didge players setting the tone for poetry incursions. I offered three new poems last night--plus one that I wrote on the spot and dedicated to the didge players. I wrote several poem sketches furiously for over an hour. The heat got to me and I left earlier than usual and followed the full moon home.

Ernest Hemingway's birthday

[T]oday is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899). He went off to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He had bad eyesight, so he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in Italy... And just about a month after he got to Italy, he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He spent weeks in the hospital and then came back home to his parents in Oak Park...

He started writing stories for Chicago newspapers and magazines, and then got a job as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and went off to Paris with his wife Hadley. They moved into an apartment in the Latin Quarter. Hemingway liked to give the impression that he was a poor bohemian, but he actually had plenty of money. He and his wife traveled around Europe and went to the horse races and ate in nice restaurants.

He became friends with a lot of writers who were in Paris at the time, Fitzgerald and Joyce and Pound and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote every day, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in cafés...
--From today's The Writer's Almanac

Bloggin' around the blogosphere

As of late, I have been reading more blogs than updating my own. I found some neat reads and thought I'd pass it along.

Real Live Preacher really digs Annie Dillard (truly a man after my own heart).
I will never forget the first time I read Annie Dillard’s work. The book was her Pulitzer Prize winning work of non-fiction, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”
...She is my favorite writer and the single greatest influence on my own writing.

The Marketing Playbook ponders...
"If you cannot be a poet, be the poem."
- David Carradine

Further, The Marketing Playbook investigates the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
Images are powerful marketing tools. They say [a lot] about the marketers using them and our response to them says a lot about us as consumers, as people and as a [society]. Nowhere is this more true than in images of women.

The other, much more qualified participants included:

- Bohemian Yuppie loves the realistic approach to beauty and has some good perspective on the Etcoff study

- World Magazine blog, a Christian oriented site had tons of commentary almost all in support, including a comment that the Christian right should spend more time preaching [positive] self image than indicting others


In related news Miss Universe...
...has been branded too sex[y] to open a cultural festival in Canada because she broke laws against sexual stereotyping.

Canadian Miss Natalie Glebova was to open the Thai culture festival sporting her official beauty queen's regalia near Toronto.

But the local authorities said her regalia sexually stereotyped women and they forced her not to wear it.


In local interests:
Asheville Music announces that:
Bele Chere organizers have updated BeleChere.com and announced that the headlining act on this years new pay stage is going to be Derek Trucks and Blues Traveler with "special guest."

This is so coooool! Blues Traveler... here in Asheville!

Other Asheville thoughts:
Raphael offers advice about moving to Asheville from an Orthodox Christian perspective:
Moving to Asheville is easy. But the hard question is "Do I want to move from X to Asheville?" Asheville is not at all like X. Coming here from a small town you will think you've discovered Sodom in the Mountains. Coming here from a Real City, you'll think it's more like Hooterville with larger stores.

Around the blogosphere:
Bluegression has a fresh new look as does One Word.

Several new bloggers have linked to 1000 Black Lines... Thank you (I think). One link from a former co-workers another from an Asheville blogger while another from... I just don't know, but thanks ya'll for linking to 1000 Black Lines!

Lunch time!

It's been kind of an odd week. Part of it is due to the poems, essays and short fiction I've been editing/rewriting. The other part is due to the fact I work in an office with no windows... almost like sensory deprivation. But lunch is always a good distraction. Yes, it is a brown bag lunch.

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My wife is amazing. She finds Yerba Maté at a local food co-op for $2 (a 1/2 lb. bag usually retails at $8.95). I've been trying to cut back on my coffee consumption and Yerba Maté is becoming my favorite warm beverage.

My favorite snack food is corn chips. So, my wife found these organic red corn chips, Salsa Reds, for $0.95 a bag (normally, $2.50 and up).

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So, with all this great brain food I design beautiful junk mail. Junk mail that demands to opened because it is beautiful. Junk mail that says, peel me open and drink in the offer I have prepared for you--junk mail that was designed by one who consumes Yerba Maté and red corn chips for lunch.

And then I go home and submit 14 new poems to several poetry journals, complete a short story which will be published on this blog and rewrite a couple essays.

1 Year Anniversary

This is my one year anniversary as a blogger.
365 days.
305 posts.
4580 visits (since November 2004).
An average of 30 daily visitors.
60% of the readers are on the East Coast.

Dalit

The dalit is a type of short Filipino poem, consisting of four lines with eight syllables each.

There is a controversy regarding its origin. One school of thought states that the dalit is Spanish in origin, particularly because its syllabication is even or pares. Hence, it is said that the Spanish popularized the dalit in the Philippines. Another view holds that the dalit is indigenous, but the friars used its popularity to promote Catholicism, in the form of meditative verses.


Christine Kane at UNCA

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My wife and I enjoyed an evening out by attending the Christine Kane concert.

Raincoat Reader

These are my favorite readers.
"Selecting a Reader"
by Ted Kooser


First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

from Sure Signs published by University of Pittsburg Press.


Though a raincoat reader doesn't buy a book, I'd take 100 readers who "thumb/over my poems" to one who actually buys a copy.

Doubting Again

After blogging about the reading I attended at Warren Wilson College, I seriously wonder if I should continue posting the short story "Tear Me Down."

Part of the reason is the fact that I've had to rewrite two scenes and the other fact is the story seems inferior to those I heard Wednesday night.

Robert Plant -- in the Cafe

Welcome to the School of Rock and Roll. Today, headmaster Plant will begin tonight's lesson in Classic Music.

On the World Cafe, the god of rock and roll himself, Robert Plant, LIVE is in the Cafe.

UPDATE: My three year old son is imitating the "Ah, ah, ah ah..." in the classic "Black Dog."

Hits and misses

First the misses...

I totally blew it. The three articles I was working on missed deadline. But the press does not stop.

The Indie, July 2005 Issue features banner stories:
- "What's up, Mother Nature?" by San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center
- "The Beasts and I: Part 4, Heroes and Villains" (last of 4 installments) by Michael Hopping

To obtain FREE copies of this issue...
go to their website The Indie
or write: The Indie, 70 Woodfin Place, Suite 01, Asheville NC 28801
or call: (828) 225 5994

The hits...

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I discovered a box containing back issues of a magazine I helped launch. I grabbed about a dozen copies of each and handed them out at the monthly meeting of the WNC chapter of the SECNCS's (Southeastern Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society). They were received politely as the group discussed everything from inking techniques to the comic book industry to storyboarding a movie. As always, I learned more than I contributed.

Also, I was able to attend one of the nightly MFA program readings at Warren Wilson College. I missed the faculty reading earlier in the week, but I enjoyed listening to five MFA Program writers/graduates read from their selections. I had mixed feelings leaving the Fellowship Hall (where the reading took place). I was a bit disappointed because I expected something grand and glorious. Maybe I came to the event in a critical mood, because each writer and poet was wonderful in his or her own right. The writers and poets featured that night had accomplished some very exceptional work.

Currently, I'm attempting to complete a manuscript required for admission to Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers. Sure hope I know what I'm doing.

Independence Day Fireworks

9:45 PM
Bug spray? Check. Lawn chairs? Check. Couple hundred friends to watch the Asheville fireworks show? Check. And yes, these are the cheap seats (north of I-240). Ashevillians have pulled off Interstate 240, parked, and found a patch of grass to enjoy beer and sparklers.

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10:00 PM
The fireworks begin and none to soon for my son who is already asking to go home.

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10:10 PM
Ashevillians watch the Independence Day celebration. For a brief moment traffic on the interstate ceases.

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10:18 PM
Big finish. Lots of noise. Smoke clears and I hear someone in the crowd say "That was shorter than last year." To which another person replies, "Someone didn't pay thier taxes." I love Asheville!

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10:44 PM
I see my neighbors have begun a show of their own. Talk about cheap seats... I could have stayed home for the show.

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11:34 PM
No. I'm not kidding. They started sometime before 10 PM and it's still going on. This is better (and longer) than the city's firework show. Best part about it is that I can hear their running commentary of the whole event from my front porch.

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12:00 AM
That was a close one! My wife said she heard something hit the roof. I guess I better check it out. I'd bring a flashlight, but it appears my neighbors have provided enough light tonight. I love Asheville! God Bless America!
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Independence Day ... and all that jazz

Today, Americans celebrate the fact that we chose to play baseball and not cricket. Over two hundred years ago a band of radical rebels formally declared independence from the most powerful empire at that time.
On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, and the United States officially broke from the rule of England... The Congress had wanted Benjamin Franklin to write it, but he declined, and then John Adams declined because he said Jefferson was ten times a better writer than he was.

Benjamin Franklin made a few new changes. Jefferson had written, "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable." Franklin changed that to, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

The Congress cut out an entire paragraph in which Jefferson had attacked the king for perpetuating the slave trade. They cut about 480 words out of his draft, leaving 1,337. Jefferson found the whole process rather painful.

The 4th of July became a big holiday after the war of 1812 and out on the American frontier, it was the one time of the year when everyone gathered in town from all over the countryside for parades and speeches, and the prettiest girl would be named the Goddess of Liberty, and politicians would get up and denounce the king and men would get drunk and insult each other, call each other Englishmen, and get into fights.


Today on the Fourth of July, Americans denounce the President and his cabinet, get drunk and call each other red-state rednecks or blue-state liberals (depending on what color state you reside in). Americans still celebrate with parades but it would be politically incorrect to select the prettiest girl in the city so people resort to talking about celebrity Libertine Goddesses.

I do find it interesting, from a writer's perspective, what was changed or edited from the Declaration of Independence. Also,
It's the birthday of the great American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in Salem, Massachusetts (1804).


Interestingly, NPR's "This I Believe" featured an essay by English born, former editor of The New Republic Andrew Sullivan. His essay "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" begins:
I believe in life. I believe in treasuring it as a mystery that will never be fully understood, as a sanctity that should never be destroyed, as an invitation to experience now what can only be remembered tomorrow.
complete essay


Andrew Sullivan also states:
I believe in the pursuit of happiness. Not its attainment, nor its final definition, but its pursuit. I believe in the journey, not the arrival; in conversation, not monologues; in multiple questions rather than any single answer. I believe in the struggle to remake ourselves and challenge each other in the spirit of eternal forgiveness, in the awareness that none of us knows for sure what happiness truly is, but each of us knows the imperative to keep searching. I believe in ... a country that promises nothing but the promise of being more fully human, and never guarantees its success. In that constant failure to arrive -- implied at the very beginning -- lies the possibility of a permanently fresh start, an old newness, a way of revitalizing ourselves and our civilization in ways few foresaw and one day many will forget. But the point is now. And the place is America.

complete essay


An American writer that believed in this journey was poet Walt Whitman.
On this day in 1855, the first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was printed. It was 12 poems and a preface. The printers were friends of his and so they didn't charge Whitman for the work.

Walt Whitman self-published his own work. He was not guaranteed success. None of us are. But the pursuit of knowing we tried, and failed and will try again is one of the hallmarks of the American inventiveness. It's discovering 32 ways not to succeed that reveals one way that will succeed.

On a personal note, writers group is canceled for tonight in honor of Independence Day. So, I meditate on "How To Be a Poet."

"How To Be a Poet
(to remind myself)"
by Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

from Given New Poems

Rereading Siddhartha

I've recently begun to reread Siddhartha. So I found it interesting that today is Hermann Hesse's birthday.
[B]orn in Calw, Germany in 1877... He wrote Siddhartha when he was disillusioned after World War I. He was disgusted about the war, and disgusted with the idea of nationalism. His marriage was falling apart and his son had gotten sick. And so Hesse left his family, moved to a tiny Swiss village on a lake and lived in almost complete isolation. It was there that he wrote a book loosely based on the life of Buddha, about a man searching for enlightenment.
The Writer's Almanac


Ironically, today is also the death anniversary of Ernest Hemmingway. Yes, I'm also reading one if his novels.

It was on this day in 1961, Ernest Hemmingway committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho, shooting himself early one morning in the head with a shotgun.
The Writer's Almanac


And I thought I was bummed due to lack of published material.

Saturday Blues



The garden outside the kitchen window is wonderfully blue. All but two of the pepper plants died, but the flowers and herbs are growing wonderfully. It's been cloudy all day... good for working outside.

Missed a couple poetry contest deadlines which makes me feel bummed. Working in the garden keeps my mind from the failure and my wife's homemade salad is quite a good pick-me-up.



I don't know where she finds all the salad ingredients, but it's always a wholesome organic mix of goodness you can eat with a fork (or chopsticks).