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Thanks to Ben Ehrenreich, Jen Hofer, Reyes Rodriguez and Marialice Jacob for organizing words into aid and music into medicine.

Citlali came with us to the Haitian restaurant TiGeorges beforehand then around the corner to Tropico, I met Ching-in Chen, Percival Everett, Veronica Gonzalez, talked to Craig Gilmore over blasting music, didn’t get a chance to say hello to Ruth, but I said hi to Will Alexander (will read from his book ASIA & HAITI), everybody read a brief piece or 2, later Ofelia asked me about the poem I read (“And you? What about you, what kind of mixed up hapa are you?”) and she monitored the door, Ceci Bastida rocked out while her husband Josh bopped rapt in the back, Citlali was checking it out (she and friends had been in Echo Park the night before to see her friend Daniela’s band Moses Campbell play another Haiti benefit), Abel Salas told about how Haitian farm workers gave him gloves in Florida to protect from pesticide burns, Jen read from her translations of Dolores Dorantes sexopuroSEXOVELOZ, Gloria Alvarez checked for exotic cardamom mint pistachio cookies at the food stand but they were out, Jose Lozano and I laughed at her (who knows why, I didn’t get any myself), I told the terrific cooks about Jose’s kids’ book ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK (2009 Cinco Puntos Press), Doug Kearney showed me his exciting wildly designed new typographical THE BLACK AUTOMATON (Fence Books) which he told me he’ll be reading from at Skylight Books, 5 PM Sunday 2-21, Tisa Bryant read Jacques Romain, Maggie Nelson read poems while her child slept on Harry’s leg, I got a chance to tell Chris Kraus that I thought her road book TORPOR was one of the best books of the decade after she read a piece about some hapless Australian teen suffering teenhood, Percival E. read a bit of THE WATER CURE where a man’s 11 year old daughter is kidnapped and killed, I admired Reyes’s tall larger than life banners high above the stage, but I couldn’t hear anything when the loud music started—so I went out back to drink a beer, missed a couple readings cuz of talking and looking at the immense moon—which Citlali or someone said was the largest moon of the year, Ben read about Truth hanging out in the chaparral, Gabriel of Domingo Siete carried in his instruments at midnight to begin their gig but we had to head out—$3000 had been raised for Haiti, out of the community created.

To learn more about relief efforts or make a donation online, please visit
Partners in Health (where all proceeds from this benefit will go) at
or Avaaz at

Douglas Kearney reading at UCLA Book Fair 4-26-09

McSweeney’s Issue 32

Because it seemed important to know in advance, we’ve dedicated Issue 32 to an investigation of the world to come—near-future stories written by the likes of Anthony Doerr, Heidi Julavits, Wells Tower, Chris Adrian, and Salvador Plascencia, each of ’em unearthing a different corner of life in the year 2024. This will be, we are sure, way more entertaining than waiting fifteen years for the real thing.Anthony Doerr-Memory Wall
Seventy-four-year-old Alma Konachek lives in Vredehoek, a suburb above Cape Town: a place of warm rains, big-windowed lofts, and silent, predatory automobiles.

Wells Tower — Raw Water
“Just let me out of here, man,” said Cora Booth. “I’m sick. I’m dying.”

Chris Bachelder — Eighth Wonder
When they came they destroyed.

Chris Adrian — The Black Square
Henry tried to pick out the other people on the ferry who were going to the island for the same reason he was. He wasn’t sure what to look for: black Bermuda shorts, an absence of baggage, too-thoughtful gazing at the horizon? Or just a terminal, hangdog look, a mask that revealed instead of hiding the gnarled little soul behind the face?

J. Erin Sweeney — Oblast
Baku, on the coast of the Caspian Sea. A pier between the cold, polluted deep and the early-morning light of an ancient, weary city undergoing a shift, an awakening of sorts, accompanied by a surge of interest in reality television, tiny dogs, and poetry.

Sheila Heti — There Is No Time in Waterloo
Everyone in Waterloo was an amateur physicist, and they endlessly bugged the real physicists as the physicists sat in cafes talking to each other.

Heidi Julavits — Material Proof of the Failure of Everything
Nobody laughed as Gyula rotated through the revolving glass doors of the Muvész Kávéház, as he caught the belt loop of his overcoat on a protruding nail, as he made another two full turns before managing, gracelessly, to extract himself on the intended side of things.

Jim Shepard — The Netherlands Lives With Water
A long time ago a man had a dog that went down to the shoreline every day and howled. When she returned the man would look at her blankly. Eventually the dog got exasperated. “Hey,” the dog said. “There’s a shit-storm of biblical proportions headed your way.”

Salvador Plascencia — The Enduring Nature of the Bromidic
Endeared by its disrepair and moldings, they move into a house with delicate plumbing.

Sesshu Foster — Sky City
To advance the proletarian interests of the community and counteract the military-industrial propaganda of the oppressor government, which goes so far as to categorically deny the existence of the High Low Radiance Corridor, disregarding even the cars that disappeared many years ago and that abruptly reappear nowadays falling precipitously out of the sky to wreak havoc on community members, community gardens, and street traffic, pirate radio Ehekatl 99.9 on your dial broadcasts this report-during our irregular hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. from various hilltops in northeast Los Angeles-to examine the Mysteries of East L.A., and to confirm the existence of one of the biggest: the long-rumored but never-before-sighted Sky City.

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport WE MAKE OUR CONNECTIONS

Please join us in solidarity with the Haitian people and with relief efforts in Haiti:

Saturday January 30, 2010 at 8 p.m.
Readings, Music & Dancing at Trópico de Nopal Gallery
1665 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

$10 (or more if you can!) at the door
To learn more about relief efforts or make a donation online, please visit
Partners in Health (where all proceeds from this benefit will go) at
or Avaaz at

Spread the word!

Music by Ceci Bastida, Domingo Siete, DJs Glenn Red, Concise and Gomez comes alive—

Poetry and Prose by Will Alexander, Sesshu Foster, Percival Everett, Gloria Alvarez, Veronica Gonzalez, Douglas Kearney, Chris Kraus, Jen Hofer, Tisa Bryant, Abel Salas, Maggie Nelson, Abel Salas, Ben Ehrenreich—

Chris Kraus wrote one of the best books I read in the past decade:

Aimless Reading: The F’s, Part 18.1 (Sesshu Foster)

Foster, Sesshu
Atomik Aztex

Sent by City Lights as a review copy. I think when Sesshu came to read in Buffalo this book was not quite out. I remember getting a .pdf to read for an interview I did with him (see sidebar for a link to an excerpt of the review on the City Lights Website), and that I didn’t get a copy of the actual book until a few weeks after he left. It’s about a fictional world in which the Aztec end up defeating the Spanish and colonizing Europe while the ghosts of Aztec warriors end up working in a contemporary slaughterhouse in L.A. It’s a wild ride!

(I was recently watching a great Mexican sci-fi film — “Sleepdealer” — which had some interesting parallels to Foster’s book. Also worth checking out.)

from Atomik Aztex

I am Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness of the Aztex and I am not getting fucked in the head and I think I like it. Okay sometimes I’m not sure. But my so-called visions are better than aspirin and cheaper.

Perhaps you are familiar with some worlds, stupider realities amongst alternate universes offered by the ever expanding-omniverse, in which the Aztek civilization was ‘destroyed.’ That’s a possibility. I mean that’s what Europians thot. They planned genocide, wipe out our civilization, build catherdrals on TOP of our pyramidz, bah, hump our women, not just our women but the Tlaxkalans, the Mixteks, the Zapoteks, the Chichimeks, the Utes, the Triki, the Kahuilla, the Shoshone, the Maidu, the Klickitat, the Mandan, the Chumash, the Yaqui, the Huicholes, the Meskwaki, the Guarani, the Seminoles, endless peoples…

“Tongue & Groove”
A monthly offering of short fiction, personal essays, poetry, spoken word + music

Sunday Jan 24th
6-7:30 pm

Jennine Capocrucet “Leaving Hialeah”, Sam Quinones “True Tales from Another Mexico”, Sesshu Foster “Atomik Aztex”, Julie Weidmann, Myrlin A. Hermes “THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER, AND THE POET” and music by Sam Suicide

The Hotel Cafe
1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Hollywood, Ca 90028

Jennine Capó Crucet is the author of HOW TO LEAVE HIALEAH, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award, was a finalist for the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, and was recently named by the Miami Herald as one of the ten best books of 2009. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, and other magazines. She wants you to know that no matter what you’ve heard, her mother raised her right.

Sesshu Foster taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 20 years. He’s also taught writing at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, and his own books include World Ball Notebook, City Terrace Field Manual and Atomik Aztex

Myrlin A. Hermes is a graduate of Reed College and the University of London, and has received grants from the Institute for Humane Studies and the Arts Council England. Her book is a pansexual re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and has won the Arch & Bruce Brown Fiction prize.

Sam Quinones is a journalist with the Los Angeles Times and author of two acclaimed books of nonfiction. In 1998, he was awarded the Alicia Patterson Fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships in U.S. print journalism, for a series of stories on impunity in Mexico, including a story of a lynching in a small town. Hailed as a cult classic, True Tales has also been used in classes in more than a hundred universities.

Julie Weidmann is an actress, comedian and writer.

Sam Suicide plays traditional country music of love and death.

Come one, come all and come early! Seating is limited and we start on time!

I was batting about the atmospheres searching or exploring for some ideas. was in the vEnicity, I was sure of it.

I could see some dudes had terrific excellent notions or dreams of ideas. Mine looked like crap, something like cardboard alongside, but you can't let that stop you.

Realizing that the dead are looking at your stuff, practically laughing, if the dead can laugh. Why wouldn't they?

I was sitting around, fiddling with my projects. My ideas were out there. I could sense them floating like prehistoric fish, like blue whales in the Sea of Cortez.

You try one or two things. They

Thousands of attempts have failed. So many have already pissed away their chances. So many made heroic attempts and still were crushed, swept aside. I know not to pay it any mind.

The atmosphere remains mysterious. It has it's mysterious features.

And it is raining.

Worse comes to worse, just use somebody else's ideas. That could work. Change them up a bit. Kick out the stops.

Your people are depending on you. Give one of 'em a call.

Even though I don't feel like talking to anyone, or calling anyone. That's what it takes.

The work is always there. We turn back to it.

Break our fingernails on it. Leave little bits of ourselves. Wipe our faces.

Sometimes "it won't get off the ground." Sometimes it's bound to go wrong.

Plus, if we don't hit the goddamned street, how will we get across? They got calls into us for cash.

You've been through all this. You've seen it before.

Ascend the tower.

"Get the nose out of the weeds!" You gotta tell 'em, like they haven't done this a thousand times before.

When it comes to you, what then? What are you going to do with it?

Do right by it. Sound of wind sheer.

Dear Congressman Schiff,

Thank you for your efforts in representing your constituents. My concern is the report that I read yesterday, January 17, 2010, from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning medical aid organization, Doctors without Borders, which states in part:

“Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.”

It is unconscionable that during this time of intense crisis in Haiti that the United States is impeding aid to the people who desperately need it the most. It was one of the most tragic and most obvious failings of the previous Bush administration that they abandoned so many people in New Orleans in their moment of crisis. Please do not allow this administration to do the same thing in Haiti.


Sesshu Foster

"Whatever day it is, it's Tuesday. Whoever you think you are, you might be. Whatever happened here so many lives ago, this is it. That buzzing sound you hear like a forty pound cicada. That feeling of unease zigzagging from your soles. That's it right there."

"Tamales 75 cents, cinco por docena, two kinds, red and green. One for the past, one for the future, they are getting so separate, so far away from each other. And you standing there, moving like flies."

"I can see you through words. I feel you through non-existence. Empty shells/ stratospheric winds/ subcutaneous/ astringent/ could be money/ on money/ somebody wasn't saying. House for sale outside Moab, Utah. Flash drive. Join the Marines. Straight to Iraq."

"On Christmas morning, the family found my neighbor Ron dead where he had fallen. He was already cold. He had an appointment for an angioplasty next month. I heard the cop radio and looked out the window on the street."

"Canyon live oak ghost marquee. Red willow stacked forklift pallets. California buckeye glass insulator. Creosote chaparral STD toothbrush. Yellow star thistle Tuesday afternoon corner. Sugar bush bare graded hillside. Juniper cirrus girl's haughty smirk."

"I met Raul at the 7-11. He was all right; he showed me his bloody hand where the guy had knocked him to the ground and held the pistol to his head. Raul talked the guy out of tying him up inside the house, 'I got people coming over any minute.' Just then a car drove up in the driveway. The guy got spooked, and demanded money, his wallet, keys, telling him he'd shoot him. Raul said they could drive to the 7-11 and he'd withdraw money and give it to him. At the 7-11 the guy wouldn't let Raul go in by himself, but he had to take off his ski mask when he followed Raul in the store. The ATM had a $400 limit, and Raul refused to be taken any further with the guy when he left with the money. There were cameras all around. I offered Raul a ride, since the cops said they had taken his car for evidence, but he wanted to wait for the car."

"Maybe our children will go swimming. Maybe they will be walking along the dusty road. Maybe they will take it easy in the shade of the willows. Maybe the water will be cool, green and have that greenish creek taste. Maybe the mockingbirds will be flying through the brush. Maybe the shadows will be cool as damp clay. Maybe the sun will be hotter than metal."

"Ion boulders swipe your card here, lithium house. New York green sideways giggle, one checking her cell at all times and the other serious. National Petroleum Radio we like towers. Tucson, Grand Junction, Lander, we like helicopters. Concertina wire is applied to structures over the freeway, to prohibit the teenage taggers. There are no old taggers, scribbling on everything is an affliction you grow out of. 25 cents each five minutes, drop your coins in the slot. This machine only takes quarters."

"Her food was too hot, she waved her hand back and forth. She had him cornered finally but she didn't know what to say. She thought he was being boring and remote on purpose. 'So, what did you think of those last proposals?' she'd say, and he made some tentative answers, as if he was unsure what she was asking. 'You know,' she reaffirmed, 'What do you think they, ah, signal, like in the long run, as a tendency? Or do you see a trend, I guess that's what I'm asking.' She was unsatisfied by his merely descriptive and unanalytical response."

"Innumerable pop loins, space, aluminum screen pigeon shit sunglare space, Old Nelly, movie conversation about movies we must to go see to, space, space, I want to see a movie, space, Old Terri, Old Didi, maybe not one of those lame boring 'last-American-alive-in-the universe-is-feeling-sorry-for-himself (everyone-else-must-be-killed)' movies, butt sore from bicycles, bed bugs, horse-riding, space, space, space."

"Cancer for that. The movie was about the moon. Tule reeds for that. It was about an astronaut and a computer that was telling him stuff. Cleveland sage for that. It was about Erykah Badu's tour dates. Black toenail for that. Winter for that. Salmonella for that. We must not have a good connection, you are breaking up."

"Golden eyes for that. We were swimming in mammals. Laurel sumac for that. My gut's blown out with that aspirin. Toyon for that. He was taking a nap and never woke up. Yucca for that. The waves black waves and silver waves and aluminum waves and tin waves and glass waves and bright waves that you cannot see. Feel it?"

"My voice goes out over Eagle Rock. My voice goes out over El Sereno hills and Debs park. My voice goes out on thin landscapes of war and wire, of the world of Los Angeles, of the crystals that form from dirt dust, foot steps, swallowing. Striations of geological sentiment, wire bra in order to protect the customers. From too much action. So they don't get tired. Eating that product."

"So many came by, hitting with windshield with green juice, I couldn't eat my sandwich. I complained to my supervisor but she never does anything. Then... pampas grass, inflected with turmoil... continuous... I was... saying... blow, cocksucker motherfucker... dog had a foxtail stuck in his nose, he was sneezing blood... heh---ha ha ha... in a coma or unconscious, yeah."

"I am just a weed, an ordinary weed like a dandelion, like Smoky Robinson singing "Ooh ooh, baby baby," on a hot radio afternoon in 1970, napalm and Vietnam, you wearing an army surplus field jacket the color of weeds, it's just ordinary, everything LBJ regular, ozone, particulate, sunny."

"Let me tell my homie. He said his homie was waiting for him. Whatever concrete detail or abstract noun it was, it was Tuesday. Whatever day that is. It was NPR, National Plywood Radio. Let's walk over here, I'm not getting a good signal. What plan are you on?"

"I appreciate that you took the time, swerved, hit a parked car, spun out into the intersection. Nine slaves. Get rid of a dog. Chops defrosting. I imagine you being fully devoted father to ships, ocean waters, generations of women, girls, California bay. Treatment for bigleaf maple. I see your hand shaking and what that means. Ceanothus and what that means."

"You're so smart, you've lived so long, you've totally done an end-run, outsmarted and out-witted yourself!"

"Lush desire abides, awaits you, cannot fail, the ocean's surface seen from Echo Mountain shines orange, wild tarragon, space. Why lie about estimations of economic structural change? It's as blue as the sky."

"I must hurry, point A to point B, birth to death. Pacific Coast Highway, sagebrush and buckwheat, I got stains on the front of my shirt, white shirt of intermittent vistas, unbroken urination of milliseconds, torpor of disaster, I'm pretty bored of your apocalypse, thanks anyhow."


Edited by Sharon Bliss, Kevin Chen, Steve Dickison

Over two million individuals are behind bars in U.S. prisons, living in isolation from their families and their communities. Prison/Culture investigates the culture of incarceration as an integral part of the American experience through a compilation of stunning and often heartrending art by inmates, as well as artists on the outside, such as Sandow Birk and Keith Antar Mason, who address incarceration, criminal profiling, wrongful conviction, prison labor, and the death penalty. The book also includes essays on prisons and prison art by Angela Davis and Mike Davis, and poetry by Amiri Baraka, Ericka Huggins, Luis Rodriguez, Sesshu Foster, and more.

I hope this finds you well, and that you’ll forgive the impersonal
nature of this note. I’m writing to you in rabble-rouser mode, to ask
if you’d be willing to endorse the call for an academic and cultural
boycott of Israel. After years of being appalled and enraged in
silence, I was moved to speak out by last year’s attack on Gaza (you
know the details, I’m sure: more than 1,400 dead, nearly a quarter of
them children, another 5,000 injured…) and joined the call for a
boycott. There is a lot of room for differences of opinion on this,
but it’s all too clear that over the last two decades, things have
only gotten worse. When I was in Israel and Palestine in the mid-90s,
apartheid felt like an apt metaphor. Now it feels like an

In the absence of any real pressure, the occupation will go on and on.
Just before Christmas, President Obama quietly pledged $30 billion in
military aid to Israel. In this country at least, it appears to be up
to us. Our silence achieves nothing, but by taking a public,
principled stand, we can change the discourse and, eventually, the
political reality. Since the US campaign began last year, more than
500 scholars, writers and artists have joined the call for a boycott,
divestment and sanctions. If you have any questions about the
specifics of the campaign or the reasoning behind it, I’d be glad to
try to answer them and can point you to more resources online. (Here’s
an essay by the Israeli scholar Neve Gordon that ran in The Guardian
last summer:

If you’re willing to add your name to the list of endorsers, you can
email And of course, please do whatever you can
to spread the word.

Many thanks, and all best wishes for the new year,
Ben Ehrenreich

January 2010