Monday, November 01, 2010

Another trip around the stupid sun

Poem For My 43rd Birthday
by Charles Bukowski

To end up alone
in a tomb of a room
without cigarettes
or wine--
just a lightbulb
and a potbelly,
and glad to have
the room. the morning
they're out there
making money:
judges, carpenters,
plumbers, doctors,
newsboys, policemen,
barbers, carwashers,
dentists, florists,
waitresses, cooks,
and you turn over
to your left side
to get the sun
on your back
and out
of your eyes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

And anudder t'ing ...

Head over, if you will, to bark, bugs, leaves, & lizards to peruse my first post there, a field report on the elusive classic Shuh-caw-go accent. Over by dere.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bark, Bugs, Leaves, & Lizards: Soon with Added STDPM

Not sure if anyone is left around here, after some months of inactivity. But, regardless, I'm checking in to publicize the fact that I've signed onto the team at dsb nola's bark, bugs, leaves, & lizards, and I plan to submit material for inclusion there reasonably soon, and hopefully on a regular basis. Stay tuned there or here for further word. And, yeah, who knows? Maybe it will liven things up here again, as well.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Marlon Brando in Libertyville

A nifty website.

Hank leaves the band (2010)

Dammit, I can't believe Turbonegro broke up ... again.

Fuck you, Hank! You Norwegian bastard!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

From the CBRAT Print Archives: (We're All) The Children of Bosse-de-Nage #1

Joan was quizzical; Studied pataphysical
Science in the home.

The song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" probably remains the most famous reference to dead French weird writer Alfred Jarry's greatest1 creation: the science of 'Pataphysics. Not being a great Beatles fan, the reference escaped me until pretty recently. My first knowing exposure to things 'Pataphysical came from comix artist Bill "Zippy the Pinhead" Griffith, who featured Jarry in a few stories and illustrated Nigey Lennon's 1990 biography, Alfred Jarry: The Man with the Axe, which I read in 1991, shortly followed by every Jarry book I could find in English.

In the winter, spring, and summer of 1991, I had a lot of free time. I had been out of college for a year, and I had been accepted to law school for the fall term, so I wasn't bothered by any sense of urgency to do anything I didn't feel like doing. I was working part time at a slack job, where I could read books checked out from the Northern Illinois University library all night long. When I wasn't reading, I was writing. I didn't make any money that year, but it was creatively productive. I put together a Xerox zine almost every week, and I was making trips to the post office every few days to mail off orders from Factsheet Five.

Another obsession at the time was the Victorian explorer and secret agent Sir Richard Francis Burton, known for, among other things, translating The Arabian Nights, bringing the Kama Sutra to publication, and making the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina while disguised as a Persian Shi'a.

If you lived through 1991, you might also recall that some other stuff happened that year. It went by pretty quick, so you could have missed it. Probably the only thing keeping the memory of this event alive is the movie "The Big Lebowski." Yeah ... I'm talking about the Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991).

My reaction to that particular war was to learn as much as I could about the culture and history of the people we were fighting. To that end, I read, among other things, an English translation of the Koran over a few lonely nights behind the desk at the Georgetown Motel in DeKalb, Illinois.

So ... all of this disparate but overlapping stuff went into a zine project called (We're All) The Children of Bosse-de-Nage,2 a vague and trippy agglomeration of various loci of modern angst, dressed up as a combined homage to Jarry and Burton. Part Roald Dahl-esque adventure, part science fiction farce,3 it ... is what it is.

What follows in this post is issue number one. There were two ... then law school interrupted the sequence. The third issue has never been definitively canceled. So hope remains that it is forthcoming. In the meantime, here's the first chapter.


1. Greatest, subjectively, in our opinion. Jarry's best known creation is, undoubtedly, the character of Pere Ubu, proto-antagonist of such plays as Ubu Roi and Ubu Cocu. Referenced thoroughly by a certain rock band fronted by David Thomas, as well as a prominent television production company ("Sit, Ubu, sit!")

2. Bosse-de-Nage est un personnage des Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll, pataphysicien d'Alfred Jarry. Cynocéphale papion hydrocéphale, il présente la particularité remarquable de savoir dire « Ha ha » en français, selon sa présentation au dixième chapitre. Il est depuis 1947 Staroste du Collège de 'Pataphysique, et assiste en cette qualité son maître le Docteur Faustroll, Curateur inamovible

3. The story that makes up the chief text of the first issue (and that drives the plot throughout) was derived almost verbatim from some science fiction I wrote in high school, probably in 1984, which I composed for the amusement of a physics-nerd friend of mine, who did get a big laugh out of it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pop Lecture and Video Seminar 5/15/10

The Boomerang Effect. It's an old story, how traditional West African music has been the dominant influence on North American blues music. The Boomerang Effect describes what happens when Western instruments and Western pop music has its own influence on contemporary African music. Songs from the North Mississippi Hill Country and songs from the Sahel in Mali communicate with one another, sharing a rhythmic drone some people call "Trance Boogie." Case in point: The Tuareg band Tinariwen -- formed in 1979 and achieving global acclaim in the early 2000s.

Fred McDowell - Shake Em On Down

RL Burnside - Shake 'em On Down

Junior Kimbrough - Lord, Have Mercy On Me

Tinariwen - Imazeghen N Adagh

Tinariwen - Lulla

Tinariwen - Amassakoul

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Return of! Friday Night Veddeos!

Less talk, more rock.

The Nazz - Rain Rider

Some men sail the waters, some men live on the land
I was born Apollo with the reins and the whip in my hand
Where I take the ladies is something you've never seen
But nothing stops a man who flies and glides like a flying machine

I don't need the motions that are made for that hill
And I don't do half the things you think that I will
And I don't see how you find it much of a thrill
That's unless you want to take a ride

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun
Ride my chariot baby, my steed's on the run
Ride my chariot baby, we're leaving by dawn
Come on, come on or else you're gonna see me gone

I got the belts and whips on hanging around my waist
I ride the skies of lightning with the clouds running over my face
Start out in the morning, sailing on the edge of night
I can save you with my left hand, I can destroy you again with my right

You've got one last chance to catch a ride on my tail
When I move my tracks are hardly leaving a trail
Leaving the sun and I leave every dawn without fail
So if you want to take a ride

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun
Ride my chariot baby, my steed's on the run
Ride my chariot baby, said we're leaving by dawn
Come on, come on or else you're gonna see me gone

You've got one last chance to catch a ride on my tail
When I move my tracks are hardly leaving a trail
Leaving the sun and I leave every dawn without fail
So if you want to take a ride

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun
Ride my chariot baby, my steed's on the run
Ride my chariot baby, we're leaving by dawn
Come on, come on or else you're gonna see me gone

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun
Ride my chariot baby, my steed's on the run
Ride my chariot baby, we're leaving by dawn
Come on, come on or else you're gonna see me gone

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun
Ride my chariot baby, my steed's on the run
Ride my chariot baby, we're leaving by dawn
Come on, come on or else you're gonna see me gone

Ride my chariot baby, my role is the sun

The Records - Starry Eyes

While you were off in France, we were stranded in the British Isles.
Left to fall apart amongst your passports and your files.
We never asked for miracles, but they were our concern.
Did you really think we'd sit it out and wait for your return?

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.
Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!

While you were on the beach, were you dreaming all about your share?
Planning to invest it all to cover wear and tear?
We paid for all the phone calls. The money's off the shelf.
Don't you know that while you're gone away, I've got to help myself?

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.
Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!

While you were in the pool, we were meeting with the boys upstairs,
Talking to the money men, and carrying out affairs.
We had no time for cocktails, or working up a tan.
The boys have all been spoken to. The writ has hit the fan.

I don't want to argue. I ain't gonna budge.
Won't you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don't want to argue. There's nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

Any Trouble - Second Choice

You begin your education on a nursery school floor
Now you're a little older and you want some more
Everything you say and do is wasted on my ears
Soon it'll be too late for me turning back the years

A simple life is all I need
Two shots of fantasy and one of make-believe
I never tried too hard to make this succeed
You're the only one I need
I never felt the need to cry or rejoice
I never felt the need to raise my voice
I only wanted to be one of the boys
Now you made me second choice

Now look behind you, baby, well, he's doing it again
He is going to get you but he won't tell you when
Stop, look and listen when you open up your door
Or he'll be in there with you, you'll be lying on the floor

The Motors - Airport

So many destination faces going to so many places
Where the weather is much better
And the food is so much cheaper.
Well I help her with her baggage for her baggage is so heavy
I hear the plane is ready by the gateway to take my love away.
And I can't believe that she really wants to leave me and it's getting me so,
It's getting me so.

Airport -
Airport, you've got a smiling face,
you took the one I love so far away
Fly her away - fly her away - airport.
Airport, you've got a smiling face
You took my lady to another place
Fly her away - fly her away.

The plane is on the move,
And the traces of the love we had in places
Are turning in my mind - how I wish I'd been much stronger
For the wheels are turning faster as I hear the winds are blowing
and I know that she is leaving
On the jet plane way down the runaway.
And I can't believe that she really wants to leave me - and it's
getting me so,
It's getting me so.

Airport -
Airport, you've got a smiling face,...

Airport -
Airport, you've got a smiling face,...

The Tubes - White Punks on Dope

Teenage had a race for the night time
Spent my cash on every high I could find
Wasted time in every school in L.A.
Getting loose, I didn't care what the kids say

We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad moved to Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope

Other dudes are living in the ghetto
But born in Pacific Heights don't seem much betto

We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad live in Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
I can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope

I go crazy 'cause my folks are so fucking rich
Have to score when I get that rich white punk itch
Sounds real classy, living in a chateau
So lonely, all the other kids will never know

We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad live in Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope

Sparks - Something for the Girl with Everything / Talent Is An Asset

Something ...

Something for the girl with everything
See, the writings on the wall
You bought the girl a wall
Complete with matching ball-point pen
You can breathe another day
Secure in knowing she wont break you (yet)

Something for the girl with everything
Have another sweet my dear
Dont try to talk my dear
Your tiny little mouth is full
Heres a flavour you aint tried
You shouldnt try to talk, your mouth is full

Something for the girl with everything
Three wise men are here
Three wise men are here
Bearing gifts to aid amnesia
She knows everything
yes yes everyting
She knew way back when you weren't yourself

Something for the girl with everything
Heres a really preatty car
I hope it takes you far
I hope it takes you fast and far
Wow, the engines really loud
Nobodys gonna hear a thing you say

Something for the girl with everything
Three wise men are here
Three wise men are here
Where should they leave these imported gimmicks
Leave them anywhere
Make sure that theres a clear path to the door

Something for the girl with everything
Something for the girl with everything
Something for the girl with everything
Something for the girl with everything
Three wise men are here
Three wise men are here
Three wise men are here
Three wise men are here

Heres a patridge in a tree,
A gardener for the tree
Complete with ornithologist
Careful, careful with that crate
You wouldn't want to dent Sinatra, no

Something for the girl who has got everything,
Yes, yes, everything
Hey, come out and say hello
Before you friends all go
But say no more than just hello
Ah, the little girl is shy
You see of late shes been quite speechless,
very speechless
She's got everything

Talent ...

Albert is smart, he's a genius
Watch Albert putter, an obvious genius
Someday he will reassess the world
And he'll still have time for lots of girls

When he grows up he'll remember us
When he grows up we are sure that he'll remember us

We made sure that Albert wore his mac
We kept all the strangers off his back

(Go away)
Everything's relative
(Go away Albert's mother say to me)
We are his relatives and he don't need any non- relatives

Talent is an asset
You've got to understand that
Talent is an asset
And little Albert has it
Talent is an asset
And Albert surely has it

One day he'll sever his apron strings
All of the while he'll be scribbling things, genius things
Look at Albert, isn't he a sight
Growing, growing at the speed of light

(Go away)
Everything's relative
(Go away Albert's mother say to me)
We are his relatives and he don't need any non- relatives

Talent is an asset
And little Albert has it

Talent is relative
That's hypothetical
We are his relatives
That's parenthetical
Spare your superlatives
There's the receptacle
There's the receptacle

Leave Albert's study room
Leave Albert's happy room
Leave Albert's neighbourhood
Leave Albert's city, too
Leave Albert's country seat
Leave Albert's coun-rer-y
Leave Albert's continent
Leave Albert's hemisphere
Leave Albert's planet, too
Leave Albert's universe

No one must see him now
Only the medical
No one must downgrade him
Don't be to cynical
Don't be to critical
Cancel the magazines
They're much to political
Don't buy him any jeans
They're much to casual
Talent is relative
We are his relatives
That's parenthetical

More stuff I wouldn't post on FB, now that it's riddled with relatives and the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the DAR

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore

John Prine

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

Repeat Chorus:

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boycotting the D-bags

I was thinking of buying a cheap ticket (there are usually single tix available in the crappy seats) for the Cubs game tomorrow afternoon. I live pretty close to the park, and the weather's supposed to be nice.

But then I looked at the schedule and saw that Arizona's going to be in town. And I said to myself, "Self, we'll go another time."

A portion of my money -- small amount, true, but it's the principle that matters -- would have gone to the bigoted owners of the Diamondbacks. And I'd rather it not.

Plus, the Cubs suck. But that's another story.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Neither Maverick Nor Paladin Nor Marshal Dillon

According to The Huffington Post, according to Newsweek, John McCain said, "I never considered myself a maverick."

I never thought of him as a Maverick, either. Maybe more of a James West, minus the low-rent-007 charm and coolness. Which leaves you with a short, bellicose jerk.

(So that would make Sarah Palin Artemus Gordon, minus the proto-MacGyver gadgetry and disguise kit. I guess. I refuse to take this premise any further. Ecch. I just involuntarily pictured Ross Martin in lipstick, high heels, and a designer dress purchased with RNC funds. Yucch. Hm, they do kind of have the same nose. OK, OK, that's it. I'm done.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Who are you, and what are you doing with Mr. Royko's sock?"

In 1984, Rupert Murdoch bought the Chicago Sun-Times, and columnist Mike Royko quit in disgust, moving over to the rival Chicago Tribune. In keeping with its self-proclaimed image as the classier daily fish-wrapper in town, the Trib waged a classy and subtle marketing campaign to promote Royko's column. The centerpiece to the campaign was the manufacture and sale of gym socks bearing Royko's screen-printed autograph. As a budding journalist, I naturally bought a pair. And wore them, too.

I've mentioned the Royko Socks before. I still have one of the socks -- don't know if it's the left one or the right one, and don't know what happened to its mate -- I keep it at the back of my sock drawer, for ... I dunno, sentimental reasons or something.

And if anyone doubts my veracity, I slapped the old surviving Royko Sock onto the scanner for you. Yeah, it's an image you won't see every day, even in the deepest bowels of eBay. One Promotional Mike Royko Sock, Slightly Used.

Friday, March 26, 2010

From the CBRAT Print Archives: GmbH #2 "Eric Gill: Just as God Made Us"

Insert the usual palaver about how time flies, etc., or spare the both of us, but it's been almost ten years since I published my last xerox mag. Not only that, almost ten years since I finished writing a piece of fiction. Until I started this blog in 2006, the zine reproduced below was the last thing to appear under the Colicky Baby Records and Tapes imprint. Dating back to fall 2000, here it is, issue number two of GmbH.

GmbH, as you might have figured, ran for a short span of two issues. The title is a business entity designation used in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland; it's an abbreviation for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, which translates to "limited liability corporation."

I chose the name primarily because it looks to me like an unpronounceable faux-expletive. "Consarn razza frazzit! GmbH!!!"

But I also chose it because it connoted sleek industrial modernism -- particularly the kind of sleek industrial modernism pervasive in the typographic arts revolution that took place in Germany and Switzerland in the 20th century. (And since we all know what 20th century German modernism led to, the assertion of "limited liability" added a layer of meaning, as in, "We were just following orders," or "We didn't do any genociding; only the Nazis, the bad Germans, did that; besides, we weren't even born yet.")

Anyway, in 2000, I was very interested in typography, particularly typeface design. I was especially interested in Jan Tschichold -- so the first issue of GmbH was devoted to him.

Well ... not exactly. GmbH wasn't a fanzine about typography. Typography was just a hook, something to hang some silly short stories on. Really, it was just a starting point for jokes. I didn't know enough about typographic arts to teach anyone anything new about it -- or at least not anyone who was already interested in the topic. But I did know enough about it to make jokes.

So the general premise was that I would narrate these goofy short stories -- actually, would be a pivotal character in them -- involving various famous 20th century typographers, or typeface designers. Since these guys were all dead, I would have to be some kind of time traveler, or zonked-out mystic, or a combination of the two. And nothing really had to make any sense. There didn't need to be any plot, beyond what I thought was funny, and I could throw in lots of biographical data and factual trivia as distractions. While I was at it, I threw in some D.F. Wallace-ish footnotes or endnotes, just for fun.

The first issue turned out pretty well. Maybe I'll post that later. The second issue was a little trickier, and actually took me several weeks to thrash out. In the days before broadband, I actually used to kill time by writing and making Photoshop collages. Crazy.

For the second issue I decided to write about Eric Gill. That was what made it tricky. I probably should have waited to cover Gill until I had zined up a few less confusing and intricate characters. Eric Gill was a complicated guy. Today, he's probably best known for designing a number of popular typefaces -- especially Gill Sans -- but he was a lot more than a font guy.

Let's see ... how to sum up? Can't, really. But in case you don't want to go to Wikipedia, in a very brief nutshell, Eric Gill was an English Roman Catholic, a stonemason and sculptor, a printer, a back-to-the-country medievalist wacko, and a sex pervert.

At that time -- and believe this or don't -- I was going through a sort of "religious phase." To be specific, my "Catholic phase." I didn't seriously consider converting -- but I frivolously considered it. Long story short, based on a combination of my interest in typographic arts and my interest in Roman Catholicism, I became fascinated by Gill's religious art, which quite often crossed a strange boundary line into eroticism. (The cover of GmbH 2 excerpts a portion of one of Gill's most striking pieces, a wood engraving titled "The Nuptials of God.") So I knew for quite a while that I was going to make some kind of mag about Gill; the reason I should have waited is, once I'd made the Gill zine, I had no idea how I was going to top it, just for sheer weirdness of subject matter. There just aren't any luminaries in the world of typography to match Eric Gill for nut-a-roony-tudinalism. So I pretty much had to give up on the GmbH series right there. Sadly.

So here are a series of scans of the zine, which consists of four sheets of 8-1/2 x 11 paper folded in the middle and stapled. I probably distributed about 20 of them. Hi-rez pdfs available on request.

Below that, a digitized text reproduction of the story, complete with endnotes, which was difficult, because I had lost the original Word file. So, in conducting the exercise of building this blog post, I actually had to OCR-scan the story, then proofread it against the hard copy, paste it as plain text into Blogger, and add back any formatting (italics, font sizes, etc.). And because I'm geeky in that way, I had a pretty good time doing it.

So here it is.

Eric Gill

just as God made us

The discovery, then, of what is meant by ‘pleasantly readable’ involves more than questions of eye-strain, important tho’ that question is; it involves first and last a consideration of what is holy.

– Eric Gill, Typography

6/4/28 Expt. with Jan T. Spent 1/2 h. in his bed, placed p. in his a/hole.
Discovered that a Modernist will join with a man. This has to stop.

– diary entry

After a long journey[1] to Ditchling[2] on a shoestring budget I was distressed to learn that Eric Gill died of lung cancer on November 17, 1940. Having come this far, a short jaunt to the ruined monastery[3] at Capel-y-ffin[4] seemed ordinate. The Finns had the following to say about it: “Grange on toiminut jo 30 vuotta ja ratsastajat palaavat vuosi vuodelta ihailemaan upeita maisemia, nauttimaan luonnosta ja pakenemaan kaupungin aiheuttamaa stressiä.”[5] I was in no position to argue with that.

First fashioning a small effigy of Portland[6] stone dust and the blood of a leftover sacrificial chicken (not quite a proper Kaparot chicken; more of a Santeria chicken; I always have some on hand in the freezer along with vegetable scraps for a rainy day of atonement and a rich, gelatinous broth; I recommend it) I forced my brittle legs into the splits position and recited a careful prayer: “The Internet is not a fad.[7] Blessed is the fruits of its womb. And also with you.” The effigy exploded, blinding me temporarily. I rubbed my eyes for a few moments and when my vision returned I was greeted with the impassive stare of a three-foot-tall golem in the shape of a naked cupid. The golem took me by the hand and helped me to my feet. Motioning me to follow, the golem led me to a grotto hidden among sharp crags. A well-worn path led to a cave entrance. The golem refused to go further but encouraged me to continue. Proceeding slowly as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I followed a narrow, twisting tunnel downward. Just as I was about to lose my nerve and turn back, I found a broken composing stick on the tunnel floor and several pieces of lead type. I remembered something someone had told me: “A distribution box is made of many compartments. Each letter, number, and character is assigned a specific box of its own.”[8] I went on.

Inching forward, I soon found myself in complete darkness. Clutching the tunnel wall, I proceeded carefully. After what felt like hours I was at once cheered and made apprehensive by the flicker of torchlight ahead. Pausing to take a deep breath, I perceived the sound of tapping in counterpoint to the sound of my beating heart. It was unmistakably the tapping of a chisel upon stone. Listening more carefully, I could hear a soft voice repeating the Ave Maria.

Emboldened, I turned the final corner and crossed a threshold into a remarkable chamber, a fully equipped print shop carved from the living rock. My wonderment at the room, however, was immediately eclipsed by what I saw next. Sprawled against a far wall was Eric Gill.[9] He was clad in his familiar mason’s smock,[10] with a heavy chain binding him to the floor by his neck. A cord and a small pile of stone beads were on the floor next to him. His smock was open, and he was hammering at a wide, bleeding gash in his gut. He turned his face toward me. “Aligheri? Is it you? I have a new chapter for you. Condemned to an eternity making rosaries of my own gallstones. An almost Promethean torment, surely a new circle of Hell. I’m proud, quite proud. God is great, beneficent.”[11]

“I’m a friend of Jan Tschichold’s,”[12] I said. “Or I used to be. We had a falling out,[13] and I left Germany.”[14]

“Oh? Was it the ‘isms’?”

“The what?”

“The isms.[15] Communism, Fascism, Anarchism, Modernism, Futurism, Vorticism, Cubism, Fauvism, Fabianism, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Ironism, Sarcism – ”


“Sarcasm, I meant to say.”

“But that’s more of an ‘asm.’ ”


“At any rate, no, it was none of those things.”

“Maybe it was Pantism. Could it have been Pantism?”

“What’s Pantism?”

“The ‘ism’ of everything.”

“That’s it!!!”

Gill flipped over backwards three times and landed on his ass. Laughing, he unclipped the chain from the wall and stood up. "I'm allowed a respite," he said. "Let's have something to drink, and talk."[16]

We spent the first few hours discussing the pure forms of letters,[17] before delving into territory I had intended to avoid — namely, typographic design,[18] the arrangement of elements on the printed page,[19] as opposed to the structure of letterforms qua letterforms, divorced from considerations such as page size and the golden mean, kerning and leading, etc, etc. I changed the subject by asking Gill what he hoped his legacy to be.

He scoffed. "I have no legacy. Books typeset my way will sit in libraries until they rot, but my truth has no life left, no duration as a living thing. I spent a lifetime mitigating the modern, taming the modern. After I died, modernism ran roughshod over England, Europe, the Americas, even Asia. And when modernism died of its gluttony, what was its successor? Postmodernism? Even worse! The “postmodern” typefaces are beyond ungodly, they are inhuman. ‘Platelet,’ designed by Conor Mangat in 1993,[20] may serve a purpose in certain advertisements, but it is hardly serious. ‘Dr. No,’ designed by Ian Anderson of the Designers Republic in 1992,[21] lacks any appeal whatsoever. Its ‘whimsy’ nauseates. ‘Volt,’ a face by Taylor Deupree,[22] is inoffensive, but that is the best that can be said about it. We could go on. We won’t go on.”

He pulled out a hymnal and invited me to sing, but I demurred. “You know what?” I said. “I actually worship text. The text IS God. It started out as a joke to say that, but I think I really believe it. Not just any text, though – COMPLETE text. Actualized text. Elegant text. In terms of the meaning and the depiction. What the text says and how it is presented. I'd make it a trinity, but I'm at a loss for number three right now. Maybe the reproduction. Yes. Meaning, presentation, reproduction. All are holy.”

“I'm proud of you.”

“I can’t think of text except in terms of these three coordinates.”

“Mmm.” He was leafing through the hymnal. He had lost a lot of blood. I was surprised he could sit upright. He turned his face toward me, but didn’t quite make eye contact. “You know, giant ducks used to rule the world.”

“Giant ducks?”

“Yes, fifteen feet tall, and carnivorous.”

“Giant flesh-eating ducks?”

“After the dinosaurs died.”

“They ruled the world?”

“They ruled the world! They didn’t just exist, they RAN things! Commerce, culture, government! Mass transit! The world!”

“Did they have text?”

“I don't know. But if they did ...”

“Did they have sheets and devices? And devices for sheets? Fifteen foot tall sheets! Devices that ate meat!”

He blinked, swallowed, took a breath. He shook his head. “Have you observed that the pattern of the veins in a rose’s petal is similar to that in the skin of a man’s scrotum, when it is stretched taut?”

That had escaped my notice, I told him.

“Although it barely resembles a dog’s.”

“A dog’s – ?”

“Scrotum, yes. Neither is the pattern like that of a pig’s, nor a goat’s, nor Ananda Coomaraswamy’s.”


“Which is not to say that a Hindoo is more like a dog than a man. I regret that work on the Stations of the Cross for Westminster Cathedral diverted me from this course of study before I could properly examine a cow’s.”

“A bull’s, you mean.”

“Ha ha! Of course! Coomaraswamy’s, let it be noted, bore resemblances to a lotus blossom stained with pekoe.”

“Pekoe? Not oolong?”

“No, just a few centimetres. Poor man.”

He coughed. “The nitre,” he gasped, and coughed again. “The nitre! For the love of God, Montresor!”

“Nitre? Saltpeter? Perhaps you could have used that while — “

He waved his arm to silence me. He grabbed a bottle of cheap sherry from a sideboard and opened it. He took a swig, which seemed to stifle his cough. “The best advice I can give you is this. It may be the best advice you get. My advice is to treat difficult text as if it were a recalcitrant lover. Cajole it tenderly and together you and it will find the form that is best for you both.”

“Typography as seduction.”

“No. Typography as caress.”

“I think I see what you mean. You must make compromises based on needs of the text that vary from your own needs.”

“I wouldn’t call it compromise. Never compromise. Stone has grain but the carver doesn’t compromise with it. Rivers have courses but the water doesn’t compromise with the riverbed. Just be open to the fact that finding the truth is a collaborative process, between lovers, between artist and medium, between man and God.”

“Ah. As the stylus of a pantograph floats slightly, and doesn’t force itself, or else the copy will be flawed.”

“Yes, this is along the natural lines.”


1 By foot, rail, horseback, steamship, aeroplane, jitney, hackney, catamaran, airship, junk, funicular, limousine, stagecoach, autogyro, time machine, pogostick, luge, bicycle, piggyback ride, surfboard, trebuchet, barge, etc., etc. Mostly borrowed. See Le Surmale (1902) by A. Jarry for a fanciful exaggeration on the rail portion of my journey, somehow described a handful of numbers of years before it took place, give or take. I had left Berlin in 1928 with intentions of reaching Ditchling by 1920. As a result of a simple miscalculation on my part (I should have known better than to make sensitive adjustments while impassioned) I arrived several trillion years ahead of schedule, specifically, in October 1941.

2 Sussex.

3 Llanthony Monastery, founded by 'Father Ignatiuus,' (Rev. Joseph Lyne, 1837-1908) in 1869, elevation 1,150 ft.

4 Wales. The name means "Chapel of the boundary."

5 < grange I .html > The Internet is not a fad! However, if in fact it is, you may get a 404 error when you enter this URL.

6 Mostly. Some admixture with Beer, Bath, and Hoptonwood.

7 But if in fact it is, see, generally, endnote 5, supra.

8 I couldn't go on.

9 Typographer, sculptor, essayist. Born February 22, 1882. Died November ... wait, I said that already.

10 He was, according to his usual custom, garbed otherwise just as God made him.

11 Misquote of Qur'an, Surah 55, "Ar-Rahman" (?)

12 See, generally, GmbH issue one.

13 Devices of jealousy sheets, covetousness devices, sheet after sheet of ... no, I can't lie. It was a woman. Pour ainsi parler.

14 A small Alpine country. Known for Volk dances and colorful oratory.

15 Years later, Edgar Reitz and I were snowbound in a hotel in Alsace. There was nothing to do but hole up with a few bottles of schnapps and watch the American miniseries "Holocaust," then being broadcast for the first time in Deutschland. Drunk since morning, Reitz fell into a violent rage. "Zionismus!" he shouted. I tried to calm him down, gently at first, but when gentleness failed I was forced to smash an empty bottle against a bedpost and hold its jagged neck against Reitz's wet, swollen, red tongue until he collapsed into a long, dreamless sleep.

16 Gill drank a tepid, odorless chicory infusion. He nibbled on a dull cake that looked like tsampa (or tsampa-shaped marzipan) which he refused to share with me because I declined to join him in prayer. I had come to discuss typefaces, not to say graces.

17 Body sizes, x-heights, line weights, cap heights, character widths, adnate serifs, slab serifs, squared serifs, abrupt serifs, teardrops, ball terminals, beak terminals, bowls, and other dimensions of God's descriptive devices at their atomic level.

18 For we certainly had more philosophical and aesthetic differences than sympathies, insofar as that subject was concerned. I had devoted my youth to machinery, speed, war, action, dynamism, automation, technology, efficiency, the new, the future. Gill lived in the past. Baked his own bread, lived without electricity, sought quietude and constancy and eschewed all aspects of the Twentieth Century. By designing typefaces for machine punch-cutting, Gill showed some flexibility and willingness to accept technological progress. But from a design standpoint, Gill was decidedly backward-looking. His ornate, lavishly decorated initial letters alone would have been sufficient to induce a fatal paroxysm in Jan Tschichold.

19 Typeface design and typographic design are often confused and conflated. The difference is like that between defining musical scales and arranging orchestras.

20-22 [Postmodern typefaces not reproducible]

[The editors would like to eknowledge John R for reference - eds.]

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Question your besotment with a manky job," indeed

To the extent that I have a personal philosophy of life, coach, it is encapsulated in the lyrics and music of this song.

Bankrupt the banks
Withhold the rent
Shitters are a wank
And the landlord's bent
It's time that the babies kept quiet
No it ain't

Open up the nicks
Close down the schools
The law is a prick
Not fit to write the rules
It's time that the babies kept quiet
No, they're cool
Time that the babies kept quiet
No it isn't, don't be silly

Uneasy sunny day hotsy totsy
Uneasy hotsy totsy sonny Jim

Question your besotment
With a manky job
Squat on your allotment
For thirty bob
It's time that the babies kept quiet
Shut your gob!

Melt the guns
Dismantle the bombs
Love your neighbour
Wherever they're from
It's time that the babies kept quiet
Up your bum!
Time that the babies kept quiet
No it isn't, don't be silly

Uneasy sunny day hotsy totsy
Uneasy hotsy totsy sonny Jim

London going junkie
Young and full of spunky
Don't care what you tell us
Old and fat and jealous

Uneasy hotsy totsy sunny day

Pills for fun
Damn the news
Different choice
Different things to choose
It's time that the babies kept quiet
Drink your booze!

Time that the babies kept quiet
No it isn't, don't be daft

Uneasy sunny day hotsy totsy
Uneasy hotsy totsy sunny
Uneasy sunny day hotsy totsy
Uneasy hotsy totsy porkie pies!

Friday, March 19, 2010

As the weird pro turns gone ...

Yeah, this is going nowhere fast. And slow. Both.

The way I see it, this blog can go three possible directions. First, I could just quit for good, which is by far the most likely. I'm burned out on all aspects of writing and publishing these days, and I don't have anything approaching inspiration or an active relationship of any kind with whatever muse used to handle this blog's account. In short, I'm just not thinking in a "CBRAT" mode anymore.

Second, I could rant and rave about politics. I could come up with a lot of posts on that, since I generally foam at the mouth about that shit in "real life" all day, every day. But I don't want to blog about it, because I don't see anything to gain from it, and it'd just screw up my head even more.

Third, I could do something entirely different. I could come up with a theme or a concept, give myself something of a framework to work with. But if I do that, why do it here? Why not start something else?

At any rate, the gist is, I just ain't feelin' CBRAT. The feelin's gone and I just can't get it back. Thinking about something new ... I'll let you know if and when.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thought of the day

President Obama is full of more horseshit than the paddock at Churchill Downs.

This thought of the day has been brought to you by the letter "D," for "Duncan." As in, Arne Duncan, the fool and scoundrel nominally in charge of implementing Obama's awful education policy, which is worser than Bush's, even.

Yeah. Let's send a bunch of Chicago Democrats to the White House. What could go wrong?

POSTSCRIPT: It's amusing (in an "I want to bash my head against a brick wall" way) to see the Obama Zombie crowd at Daily Kos following their leader ever-deeper into the wild wasteland of Reaganism, praising the school district's union bustery. I used to think Obama was a crypto-Republican. I was wrong. He's not keeping it a secret at all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

This bloggggg is moribundddd

But maybe I'll write something later today.

In the meantime, amuse yourself with Ozzie Guillen's twitter feed: I know I am.

Iam tired from bad very bad golf

3 day of Spring Training and im already boreddddddd

what I saw on the field today was a lot of grass...

Bed and bath I love this places

Looking for tickets to go to wrestlemania, I need help with that, they r way too expensive

I love what I'm doing now,Followers, don't worry, I will be here for all of you.

Although I'm more interested in spending my online time today hunting for more pix of the Canadian women's hockey team's sexysexy drunken on-ice champagne & cigar celebration.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gene Vincent Post

This video rules in at least 30 ways and you should watch it immediately.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another blog theme song to throw onto the stack of them

"I'm tough as dirt! I'm mean as blood!"

Big Black - Pete, King of All Detectives

(Ignore the two minutes of silence at the end of this ... if you get that far.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Miracle on Slush

Due to total lack of interest on my part, I am not watching the winter Olympics, but I just saw a headline that said the men's downhill skiiing competition was postponed because of a slushy course. My first reaction was, what a strange and wonderful banquet indeed would be one that included a Slushee course.

I can imagine a snooty French waiter lifting the big domed lid off of a silver platter to reveal several frosty paper cups full of swirled, froot-flavored goop. "Rad or Bleu?" the waiter would ask ...

Meanwhile, no word on the status of the men's uphill skiing competition.


Friday, February 12, 2010

As shocking as a dead battery

So Obama is essentially planning on being a one-termer. Makes sense. He should have enough time to wreak enough destruction on the squashed cigarette butt that is the remainder of the middle class. His function really has been (and note I'm saying "function" rather than "job" -- because as mathematical and biological scientists have shown, you don't need an intelligent designer for certain patterns to emerge) to effect a smooth transition from Republican to Republican, with more Republican in the middle, while throwing a wet blanket on whatever left-leaning (if sadly incoherent) sentiment had welled up over Dubya's eight years.

In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek on newsstands Friday, Obama said a presidential budget commission needs to look at all options for deficit reduction - including tax increases and cuts in spending on such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

To misquote Bruno Kirby in Spinal Tap -- "Yes, we can, if Lloyd Blankfein says it's OK first. Because Lloyd calls all the shots."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Meta: The state of the blog

OK ... no big speech here. Just me saying that I'm tired of the "white text on black background" look. So I might be attempting a redesign shortly. Or not.

Good grief, Google messed up the Blogger editing interface while I was on sabbatical. I can sort of understand why software engineers hate users (and all other humans), but I'm not sure that taking their generalized life-frustration out on everyone via punitive designs and randomly malfunctional applications is helping anyone's cause. Unless they are in league with the Computerized Hive Mind to kill us all. In which case ....... touché.

Right. Also perhaps in the offing: Some actual writing. No promises.

They aren't called "Nice Polite Republicans" for nothing

Good old "liberal" NPR.

[Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting] has a new Action Alert about All Things Considered's obituary of historian Howard Zinn, which "balances" the praise of Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond with a substance-free attack by far-right activist David Horowitz.

Sure, obituaries always feature rebuttals. It's very common to get someone on there to argue that the deceased, in fact, sucked. I can only imagine the chorus of "con" arguments ATC aired when Ronald Reagan died. That is, I can imagine that totally not happening at all.


"There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," Horowitz declared. "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."
Stronger Than Dirt:
"There is absolutely nothing in Ronald Reagan's political record that is worthy of any kind of respect," STDPM declared. "Reagan represents a fringe mentality which unfortunately seduced millions of people in the wacky-wacky 1980s. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of dumb people for the worse."
There. Fixed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thought of the day that is too negative for a FB status update: A continuing CBRAT feature

I can't decide what's more annoying and moronic: "Who dat?" or "Da Bearsss." I think I'll just flip over all the cards and say the entire NFL is annoying and moronic. Thank the nonexistent invisible omnipotent-yet-emotionally-insecure giant sky father another football season is almost over.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Let them see what is on the end of that long newspaper spoon."

THAT LONG NEWSPAPER SPOON was a xerox mag I sporadically produced between 1990 and 2000. The name is derived from a quote from Naked Lunch. I stopped working on it in the middle of putting together issue number 37, for reasons that have never been clear. Just lost the thread, or something.

TLNS started out being pure political screed ... rants, raves, and peeves. Then I started mixing in some fiction around issue number three, and by the teens, certainly by the twenties, it morphed into a serialized novel. Always to remain unfinished.

At present, I can't stand to read any of them — from the beginning to the end — but the cheap, shitty collage covers crack me up. So here are three more artifacts from the early days of "CBRAT — The Print Years," in the form of three unfolded TLNS covers (back cover appearing on the left, front cover on the right) that I like to think of as "The George Herbert Walker Bush Trilogy."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Geese Ausbie has nothing to do with this little politics blurb ... I just like saying "Geese Ausbie"

The Democrats are the Washington Generals of ... well, Washington. Their job is to lose, and they're comfortable with that role. I think they prefer being the opposition party, anyway, because then all the pols have to do is feed their constituents' anger, rather than actually deliver anything.


Ahem. As I was saying:

The worst is that I can't help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They're afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That's the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

Now with improved correct spelling of Geese Ausbie! Same fun sound!

Friday, January 15, 2010

It crawled from the crypt ... er, vault ... no, crypt was right ...

As part of my gradual buildup to a relaunch, here's a vintage Colicky Baby production — the covers to issue number 9 of "That Long Newspaper Spoon."

I did this one back in my old law school digs in Urbana. The clerk at the Kinko's near campus refused to xerox it due to copyright problems. (I wanted to get the "key op" to copy them instead of doing it myself on the self-serve machines, because the self-serve machines tended to suck.) Anyway, I didn't let that small brush with intellectual-property fascism stop me. I can't remember where I ended up photocopying them ... maybe on the office machine where I worked.

I never did latch onto any kind of xerox or zine culture scene in Champaign-Urbana, though, like I did in DeKalb — probably because I was too busy being in law school. So I don't think I distributed many of these. Maybe 20 copies, possibly as few as 10.

Yeah, that'll show 'em.

Right now, there are still a few Democrats I might vote for this year. But every time a Democratic politician uses the words "perfect," "enemy," and "good" in the same sentence — in regard to health care "reform" or otherwise — I am scratching another name off the list of potential vote-getters.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CBRAT's Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss Says the Age of Mark Zuckerberg Needing an Atomic Wedgie Has Barely Begun

Every time Mark Zuckerberg opens his mouth, I want to cancel my Facebook account.

Facebook's Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over