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bIG yELLOW mOON died yesterday at age 59, because it was never alive in the sense of movies, of the native genius of the Owen’s Valley and of curmudgeonly 1930s Sharpie permanent markers. bIG yELLOW mOON suffered a long illness but was thought to have fully recovered from the swan dive of recent fortunes. But no, it was on the other side of the bare trees, it was still and hot and quiet and insufferable as a 1960 Chevy Apache panel truck. bIG yELLOW mOON will be replaced by a dictionary, by laundry on Wednesday, and the deadly West Nile virus called “Beef and Crows.”
bIG yELLOW mOON is dead at 80. Then—“Beef and Crows”.
Food writer Sesshu Foster died yesterday at age 66, hospitalized after a long illness, his eyes popped out at everything in the world. Sesshu Foster was thrown away on Wednesday, February 29, 20012, from the effects of nostalgia, enjoying all the past when everyone glad-handed him like a kid which he ate up like a bug. He never got over it insufferable as a 1960 Chevy Apache panel truck. Perhaps best remembered for writing 29,606 postcards which caused the extinction of one rare species, the Diastolic Fish Moth, once endemic only to the public pool in El Sereno, as well as causing an electrical short in Dick Cheney’s underwear, hastening the former Vice-Grimacer to his piss-assed tachycardia doom. Sesshu Foster died yesterday at age 34 and at age 68 and he died the other day at age 29 from potato chips, from the Indian Ocean, from the Sea of Hormuz and the Sea of Cleverness. He left a burnish on the expelled air, a pencil-like maneuver called the “Chopstick Nerve,” and is survived by his family and the light poles along the avenues, winking out one by one at dawn.
2 poems by Anthony McCann
Dreams of Waking
Over the photographed earth to the photographed park
Once I woke up in my ape suit “just thinking”
It was very important to be prevalent once
Extreme States was just the name of my shirt
And to hegemonize sleep was not just a game
With the drool of a year attached to my name
My left eye still smeared happily shut
Napping means to go drool shadow now
While the sky scalds itself with aluminum dread
Back in nineteen whatever you fill in the blank
Can you believe now once how my body talked
With all these words in the hands of the dead
Everyday I disown myself twice wake again
Go back to sleep with my brains in my hands
Letter Never Sent
The hills in the yellowing light
The sound of traffic far off
I remember the names of the grass
The terrible names of each blade
The sound of my voice in your name
To memorize you and your hands
Your lips, how they close when you look
How you looked repeating my name
O, please just no more events!
To kiss all your noise and your name
Now I describe my emotions
The sky is a lower case x
I say the names of my hands
First left and then right and then right
Strange to have hands and a name
I look down to my hands when I speak
I don’t say my name to my hands
(I’ll save that dark magic for last!)
This event will go unrecorded
Weird, fake birds overhead
Anthony McCann was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. He is the author of I ♥ Your Fate (Wave Books, 2011), Moongarden (Wave Books, 2006) and Father of Noise (Fence Books, 2003). In addition to these three collections, he is one of the authors of Gentle Reader! (2007), a book of erasures of the English Romantics, along with Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer.
Who to Tell
Who to tell no one cares when no one cares
No one takes the time to care for a monster
I care for monsters
But only because I am one
I go in the dark house
With the ghosts
And the ghosts take my coat off
The other man sits slumped in the chair
Is he dead yet?
I do not know
I know that no one cares about anything
I do know that the dressing room
Is drab and grey
And my pink patterned dress
Looks ridiculous against something so truthful
Wildness is not sadness
The wilderness is not sad
It is naked
I am not
If only because
Who to tell this?
Who do I tell when no one cares
I did not expect them to
I did not expect them to care
I am not mad
I’m not mad any longer
People eat tomatoes
People eat bread
I am a monster
I eat life
But only because I am losing mine
Into a horrible void
That for you is only an idea
I once felt better about things
I once felt better about things
When the blankness was just an idea
Like the way you still think of it
Still I don’t think love is an idea
I don’t think compassion is an idea
I don’t think babies are born out of loneliness
I don’t think the sea is cold
I only think it is cool
Cool cool sea
If only I had been born
Instead of a monster
If only the water were my only home
I would swim so quietly
I would not say hello to you
I would no longer be sad
I would still be me though
And I would not let you catch me
For your dinner
And when you wanted to eat me for your dinner
I would disappear
Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE, Black Life, and the forthcoming Thunderbird, all from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She currently lives in NYC and can be found online at http://www.birdinsnow.com.
About the Poetic Research Bureau
The Poetic Research Bureau is a valise fiction and portable literary service in Northeast Los Angeles.
As an out-of-pocket California milk-crate boosterist enterprise, it serves as the irregular literary umbrella for projects such as Ara Shirinyan’s house of concept & constraint, Make Now Press; occasional poetry journal The Germ (’97-’05), edited by Andrew Maxwell and Macgregor Card; and art-lit mag Area Sneaks, edited by Rita Gonzalez and Joseph Mosconi.
As a research bloc, the PRB attempts to cultivate composition, publication and distribution strategies that enlarge the public domain. It favors appropriations, impersonations, ‘compost’ poetries, belated conversations, unprintable jokes and doodles, ‘unoriginal’ literature, historical thefts and pastiche. The publication emphasis is on ephemeral works, short-run magazines and folios, short-lived reprints and excerpts in print-on-demand formats, and the occasional literary fetish objects of stupidly incomparable price and value.
The Bureau also hosts a reading series at 951 Chung King Rd in Chinatown, and invites writers whose work lacks the ‘commercial tendency’ while harboring the bright, high-minded intentions that often lead to broad panic, righteous perversions, improbable arguments, and the ill-served cul-de-sacs of genius. The series is programmed by the aforementioned Messrs Maxwell, Mosconi and Shirinyan. If you’re sympatico, passing through town, or need a megaphone, 50 seats and a big blank space, give us a write.
What is your social security number on the corroded availability annex.
What is your address on the cordillera mountain range of your radio antennae spine.
What is the effective range of motion on this course of action at your fingertips.
What is the last thing that you remember of Metaphysical Monday.
What did you say (said, saying) by way of the flying Pegasus gas station roadside.
What is the principal objective of the international pollution of dreams.
What is the most fanciful notion that will arrive from Orange Grove Avenue.
What did the bank persona mean when he said have a good rest of the weekend.
What did slippage reveal at the precise moment you expected you would live.
Who was it gave me this Japanese forgetting, this American forgetting; did she weep in the center of the room, asking why didn’t I warn her about those white people?
Who was it gave me this Rolodex of dirty air with addresses of smoke; was it the friend (of another) who gave me the mouse pad with her hopeless second thoughts?
Who was it gave me this promising vertical smudge on the back of my mind; was it a girl with the court ordered ankle bracelet, a compression of sorrow behind the counter?
Who was it that gave me this popcorn of gunshot reverb cracklings; was it some kid I lugged out of the park after the shooting, on my hip?
Who was it gave me this tipped tilting drained off sea of mornings; I thought it was one or the other, I thought maybe it was someone who knew.
Cup. Cup in my hand.
The doctor strikes a conciliatory note, trying to discuss the numbers.
She touches the screen, checking the numbers.
She says the numbers are not looking good.
I mention that the last time, she said the numbers were better.
She says if the thyroid is involved, that she would prescribe something for that.
She turns the screen toward me, saying, “I wish I could graph the numbers.”
She discusses the numbers she’s got.
Then, “Oh wait a second, these numbers are from Dr. Somebody. These are old numbers.”
Scratch that. “Let’s do a blood test to check thyroid function, anyway.”
She tilts the screen back. “We’ll check your potassium too. Sometimes one of the drugs can cause potassium loss. If that happens, I’ll give you something for that, too.”
At the Mexican falafel stand, whatever the owner says to the middle-aged woman at the register makes her laugh and laugh.
Even when he moves down the buffet line, she cannot stop laughing to herself.
She tries to hold it in so she can take my order.
At the end of my order, returning my change, she quivers, trying to laugh quietly, but she can’t stop laughing.
A Q&A with Ben Ehrenreich about his February feature about Chicano activist Carlos Montes
In the March issue of Los Angeles magazine, Ben Ehrenreich writes about how after a lifetime of activism, former Chicano power leader Carlos Montes is facing possible prison time on questionable charges. Ehrenreich, whose Los Angeles magazine story “The End,” about death in L.A., won the National Magazine Award for feature writing in 2011, talks with executive editor Matthew Segal about Montes’s singular career—and why the case against him should concern us all.
Carlos Montes was central to the Chicano rights movement in Los Angeles. A founding member of the Brown Berets, he helped organize the student walkouts in L.A. that began in 1968. Yet as you note in your story, many people have forgotten—or never knew—key details of that movement. What got you thinking about Montes?
I heard about his arrest from a friend who lives across the street from him and who last May woke up at five o’clock one morning to find a sheriff’s SWAT team and two armored cars in front of Montes’s house. The story at first seemed completely bizarre—a massive display of police force to conduct a search for weapons that the sheriff’s department believed had been registered illegally. I knew that Montes was an antiwar activist and soon learned that he had worked with a number of peace activists in the Midwest whose homes and offices had been searched by the FBI in the fall of 2010. I also learned that an FBI agent had been present when Montes’s house was raided and that the agent had tried to question Montes about his political activities. So I understood the story to be about an FBI crackdown on political dissenters, one that was all the more disturbing given the absence of any viable antiwar movement at the time. Only after doing more research and talking to Montes at length did I realize that he had played such an important role in the local Chicano movement and that he had fled the country in 1970 and lived in hiding for seven years because he feared he would be either killed or set up by police. The story, I realized, was not just about what was happening now. It was about a much longer history: of movements that have challenged war, racism, and police brutality and of fairly consistent repression of those movements by local and federal authorities. It also opened a window into a chapter of local history that has been largely bleached out of L.A.’s collective memory. More people were killed by police protesting the Vietnam War on Whittier Boulevard than at Kent State, but the Chicano movement has been largely expunged from our narratives about the sixties. L.A.—and the Eastside in particular—has a long history of political militancy that shouldn’t be forgotten.
His daughter only learned of Montes’s role in founding the Brown Berets in a college class at Berkeley. Lots of parents neglect to tell their children about their own youth. But Montes was fighting for a cause—more educational parity, an end to police discrimination, more economic opportunity. Why keep that a secret?
Montes never kept his activism a secret. His daughter, Felicia Montes, told me she grew up going to community meetings and protests with her parents. But they never talked about the past in any detail. Many activists of Montes’ generation—and particularly African-American and Chicano activists—were forced to make some pretty enormous sacrifices. Pressure from the FBI and police was relentless in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Dozens of Black Panthers were killed by police. Others served long prison sentences or went into exile. Montes spent two years in Mexico and five years in El Paso living under a false name. He and his wife were still in hiding when their children were born. He had fled arson charges in L.A. and was facing the possibility of many years in prison if he were discovered. He was ultimately acquitted, but I think it’s safe to speculate that he learned early on that it was unwise to talk about those years.
In a way, your feature is a story about the decline of Montes’s form of activism. Some of Montes’s former colleagues have either abandoned activism altogether or opted to work for change within the system. Why do you think Montes has stuck to the same mode of opposition that he adopted as a young man?
When I started reporting this story last spring, there was no large, grassroots political movement of any kind in this country, unless you count the Tea Party. Since then the Occupy movement has taken off and Americans in hundreds of cities have taken to the streets, many of them facing down police responses similar to those that Montes and his friends dealt with in the late 1960s. All of that works as a felicitous and somewhat ironic coda to the story, although you’re absolutely right—for most of the last 40 years, activism of the kind that Montes engaged in has been a pretty lonely business. Clearly he is both stubborn and committed, but so were a lot of people who ended up following very different trajectories from his. I think at least some of his consistency (for lack of a better word) has to do with the fact that he missed out on the collapse of the Chicano movement—and of the New Left more generally—in the early 1970s. Many of the activists who stuck around were severely disillusioned by the end of that decade, but Montes was spared witnessing the movement he helped found crumble under the weight of factional infighting and police pressure. I wrote in the article that he was a sort of Rip van Winkle: he returned to L.A. in 1977, jumped back in as if nothing had changed, and never changed course.
He received a felony conviction for throwing a can of soda at police during a protest in 1969?
That is the crux of the case currently against him. The District Attorney’s office is charging that Montes committed perjury when he signed the paperwork to register the guns he owns because he failed to mention that he had been convicted of a felony. Interestingly, the protest in question was a strike at East Los Angeles College. Students were demanding the creation of a Chicano Studies department. They won that battle, but the issue is no less contentious today: Chicano Studies programs have recently been outlawed in Arizona schools. And Carlos Montes is facing prison on the basis of a 43-year-old charge.
Montes’s home was raided last May by the sheriff’s department after prompting from the FBI. The reason stated by authorities was that he was a felon in possession of firearms. Montes knows the rules, so why were the charges a surprise to him?
Because the case is pending, Montes didn’t want to comment in any detail on the charges, but he did tell me that he believed his guns had been legally registered. I think it’s safe to say that the sheriff’s department doesn’t normally pursue allegations of illegal weapons possession with anything close to this degree of vigor.
What’s been the FBI’s stance in all this?
Across the board, the authorities have been silent. An FBI spokesman refused to comment, as did the Sheriff’s Deputy in charge of the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, which coordinated the raids on activists in the Midwest, has also refused to speak with the press.
Montes could go to jail for 22 years. Does he see any irony that he’s in this much trouble today, given how quiet his life has been since his heyday as an activist?
Montes was certainly surprised, but I think he found it more consistent than ironic. The authorities behaved with a good deal of paranoia in the ’60s and ’70s, and they appear to be doing so again. I certainly found it ironic—and frightening—that the government would go after him and other activists at a moment when activism seemed in such a state of decline in the U.S. Remember, in May, when Montes’s house was raided, protesters had been filling the streets in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Greece, Spain, England, France, Chile, Portugal—everywhere but here, it seemed. And yet the FBI was expending enormous efforts to pursue a tiny and fairly ineffectual group of protesters. Now that there is once again a protest movement underway in this country, Montes’s prosecution should give us all cause for serious anxiety.
To read “Never Stop Fighting,” pick up a copy of Los Angeles magazine on newsstands
Paste this URL (above) into your browser.
Proposed artworks by the East Los Angeles Dirigible Airport Transport Lines for the beautification of Los Angeles municipal region and Los Angeles county to provide for spiritual guidance, moral uplift of citizens and future generations, and ELADATL propaganda for the glorification of our dream apparatus and our financial schemes. This metal data streams via wafting genital wind.
In our long-awaited sixth issue of Global Graffiti Magazine, we are excited to present an array of features (by artists, poets, and authors) which broadly consider the theme of street art and graffiti throughout the world. While many of the pieces presented in this issue directly consider tangible public zones perceivable to any onlooker, others instead reflect on the realm of private and invisible spaces as well. We consequently envision this issue to be a thoughtful meditation on an often nebulous distinction between exteriority and interiority, public and private spaces, the realm of the visible and the invisible, and the nexus between these different spheres that is not always apparent upon first glance. As always, the melding of local and global culture again moves to the fore, as these pieces continually illustrate an increasingly diasporic world where ideas, histories and cultures intersect in fascinating and unexpected ways.
In “Beautification Proposal for the City of Los Angeles and Other Incorporated Cities of Los Angeles County from the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines,” a collaboration between writer Sesshu Foster and visual artist Arturo Ernesto Romo-Santillano, the duo imagines a city where tribute is paid to historical iniquity, suffering, and violence observable through communal displays of visual imagery and text. This beautification project proposes a union between the past and the present, imagining the streets of present day Los Angeles as a literal crossroads, an energetic site that owes its current reality, as well as its cultural and social fabric, to an active and sometimes unperceived process of migration, movement, tragedy and displacement….
He slipped the paper through a steel divot under the window and said, “Show this receipt to pick up your belongings on your way out.” You know in most of those situations, not everything gets returned. From the corner of my eye, a girl at a bus stop jettisoned a bright arc of orange vomit, that was the receipt. The Great Pacific shined like chrome, and it was shining, it was always shining, even in the deepest, blackest storms. Dense humidity condensed inside my stupidest notions, corridors I navigated. Imprisoned corners. Like birds, children perch on my arms, flying, seeing what I cannot. Some girl texts me, “I was thinking of you”—my former student, nostalgic for stuff that has nothing to do with me. That’s my receipt. From the corner of my eye, someone getting off the bus and hurrying across the street looks like someone I used to know, from the back.
1. set up an office as the public reception area for important visitors
2. this reception area for VIPS should have an analog rotary dial telephone, a manual typewriter circa 1955, and pre-1960 books on shelves
3. older furniture, nothing too contemporary, yardsale specials if necessary old stuffed chair etc.
4. obscure thrift store paintings or motel room art or restaurant art like bullfighting posters
5. all official visitors and VIPS should be greeted in this area in order to create the correct (corrective) impression upon their mental ambience
6. artificial dust, made of chalk, should be sprinkled in a thin film on some manuscripts or books that you select to pick up for your visitors
7. an old obsolete calendar from another year should be prominently displayed
8. if the visitor asks about anything anachronistic, their attention should be redirected to the business AT HAND.
9. this produces the proper mood, tonality, and thought dissonance for optimal communication functioning for the most viable wavelength.