Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mom, Did We Forget to Escape Soviet Totalitarianism?

The Following is taken from yesterday's broadcast of Democracy Now! at

The Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The legislation strips detainees of the right to challenge their own detention and gives the President the power to detain them indefinitely. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. We get reaction from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. [includes rush transcript]
On Capitol Hill, the Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The editors of the New York Times described the law as tyrannical. They said its passage marks a low point in American democracy and that it is our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts. The legislation strips detainees of the right to file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their own detention or treatment. It gives the president the power to indefinitely detain anyone it deems to have provided material support to anti-U.S. hostilities. Secret and coerced evidence could be used to try detainees held in U.S. military prisons. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year.
The Senate passed the measure sixty five to thirty four. Twelve Democrats joined the Republican majority. The House passed virtually the same legislation on Wednesday. Legal groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, are already preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the law in court.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. See Senator Leahy’s statement on the detainee bill here.
Michael Ratner. President of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont condemned the legislation from the floor of the Senate.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: It grieves me to think that three decades in this body that I stand here in the Senate, knowing that we’re thinking of doing this. It is so wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American. It is designed to ensure the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power. The Supreme Court said, ‘You abused your power.’ He said, ‘Ha, we’ll fix that. We have a rubber stamp, a rubber stamp, Congress, that will just set that aside and give us power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having.’

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy speaking Thursday prior to the vote. He joins us now on the telephone. Welcome to Democracy Now!

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us, Senator. Now, if you could explain exactly what this bill that the Senate has just approved with a number of Democrats joining with the Republicans, what exactly it does.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: First off, as you probably gathered from what I was saying on the floor, it’s a terrible bill. It removes as many checks and balances as possible so that any president can basically set the law, determine what laws they’ll follow and what laws they’ll break and not have anybody be able to question them on it.

In this case, the particular section I was speaking about at that point was the so-called habeas protection. Now, habeas corpus was first brought in the Magna Carta in the 1200s. It’s been a tenet of our rights as Americans. And what they're saying is that if you’re an alien, even if you’re in the United States legally, a legal alien, may have been here ten years, fifteen years, twenty years legally, if a determination is made by anybody in the executive that you may be a threat, they can hold you indefinitely, they could put you in Guantanamo, not bring any charges, not allow you to have a lawyer, not allow you to ever question what they’ve done, even in cases, as they now acknowledge, where they have large numbers of people in Guantanamo who are there by mistake, that they put you -- say you’re a college professor who has written on Islam or for whatever reason, and they lock you up. You’re not even allowed to question it. You’re not allowed to have a lawyer, not allowed to say, “Wait a minute, you’ve got the wrong person. Or you’ve got -- the one you’re looking for, their name is spelled similar to mine, but it’s not me.” It makes no difference. You have no recourse whatsoever.

This goes so much against everything we've ever done. Now, we’ve had some on the other side say, ‘Well, they're trying to give rights to terrorists.’ No, we’re just saying that the United States will follow the rules it has before and will protect rights of people. We’re not giving any new rights. We’re just saying that if, for example, if you picked up the wrong person, you at least have a chance to get somebody independent to make that judgment.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, on this issue of habeas corpus, I want to play a clip from yesterday’s Senate debate and have you respond. This is Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: It was never, ever, ever, ever intended or imagined that during the War of 1812, that it British soldiers were captured burning of the Capitol of the United States, as they did, that they would have been given habeas corpus rights. It was never thought to be. habeas corpus was applied to citizens, really, at that time, and I believe that that’s so plain as to be without dispute.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. Senator Leahy, your response.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Well, I wish it was as plain as he says. Of course, in the Hamdan decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it very clear that it is available in somebody captured. In a case like what he was talking about, if somebody had been captured there and held in prison, and they said, “You have the wrong person,” they could at least raise it. And you also have, of course, under the Constitution, that habeas can be suspended if there is an invasion, if there is an insurrection. We have neither case here. Even the most conservative Republican legal thinkers have said this is not a case to suspend habeas corpus.

You know, they can set up all the straw men they want, but the fact is this allows the Bush administration to act totally arbitrarily with no court or anybody else to raise any questions about it. It allows them to cover up any mistakes they make. And this goes beyond just marking everything “secret,” as they do now. Every mistake they make, they just mark it “secret.” But this is even worse. This means somebody could be locked up for five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years. They have the wrong person, and they have no rights to be able to say, “Hey guys, you’ve got the wrong person.” It goes against everything that we’ve done as Americans.

You know, when things like this were done during the Cold War in some of the Iron Curtain countries, I remember all the speeches on the Senate floor, Democrats and Republicans alike saying, “How horrible this is! Thank God we don’t do things like this in America.” I wish they’d go back and listen to some of their speeches at that time.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, this was not a close vote: 65 to 34. The twelve Democrats who joined with the Republicans, except for Senator Chafee of Rhode Island, the twelve Democrats are Tom Carper of Delaware, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, as well as Senator Menendez of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senator Pryor of Arkansas, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. They joined with the Republicans. You are working very hard to get a Democratic majority in the Senate in these next elections and in Congress overall. What difference would it make?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: In their defense, all but one of them voted with me when we moved to strike the habeas provisions out. That was the Specter-Leahy amendment, and we had, I think it was, 51-48, I think, was the final vote on that. All but one of the Democrats joined with me on that. If we had gotten three or four more Republicans, we would have at least struck out the habeas provision. There are -- you know, I --

AMY GOODMAN: But they voted for this bill without that, with the habeas provision being stripped out.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: I’ll let each one speak for themselves. The fact that the Republicans were virtually lockstep in it, though, should be what I would look at. And maybe we’re blessed in Vermont --

AMY GOODMAN: But that larger question, that larger question of, what would be any different if Democrats were in power?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: For one thing, we would have been asking the questions about what’s been going on for six years. We’ve had a rubberstamp congress that automatically has given the President anything he wants, because nobody’s asked questions. Nobody’s asked the questions that are in the Woodward book that’s coming out this weekend, where you find all the mistakes were made because they will acknowledge no mistakes. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate. They will not call hearings. They won’t try to find out how did Halliburton walk off with billions of dollars in cost overruns in Iraq. Why did the Bush administration refuse to send the body armor our troops needed in Iraq? Why did they send inferior material?

And, of course, the two questions that the Congress would not ask, because the Republicans won’t allow it, is, why did 9/11 happen on George Bush's watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen? And secondly, when they had Osama bin Laden cornered, why didn’t they get him? Had there been an independent congress, one that could ask questions, these questions would have been asked years ago. We’d be much better off. We would have had the answers to that. I think with those answers, we would not have the fiasco we have in Iraq today, we would have caught Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan would be a more stable place, and the world would be safer.

AMY GOODMAN: Was President Bush on Capitol Hill yesterday?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, yes, indeed. You can always tell, because virtually the whole city comes to a screeching halt with the motorcades, although it’s sort of like that when Dick Cheney comes up to give orders to the Republican Caucus. He comes up with a 15 to 25 vehicle caravan. It’s amazing to watch.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was Bush doing yesterday on Capitol Hill?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, he was just telling them they had to vote this way. They had to vote. They couldn’t hand him a defeat. They had to go with him They had to trust him. It’ll get us past the election. We had offered a -- you know, five years ago, I and others had suggested there is a way to have military tribunals for the detainees, where it would meet all our standards and basic international standards. They rejected that. And now, five weeks before the elections, they say, ‘Oh, yes, we need something like that.’ No, basically what he was saying to them, don’t ask questions, get us past the elections, because if you ask questions, the answers are going to be embarrassing, and it could hurt you in the elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, we have to break for one minute. We ask you to stay with us. We’ll also be joined by CCR president, Center for Constitutional Rights president, Michael Ratner.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is president there. Michael Ratner, your response, as we speak with the senator about this groundbreaking legislation?

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, I think Senator Leahy really got it right. I mean, what this bill authorizes is really the authority of an authoritarian despot to the president. I mean, what it gives him is the power, as the senator said, to detain any person anywhere in the world, citizen or non-citizen, whether living in the United States or anywhere else. I mean, what kind of authority is that? No checks and balances. Nothing. Now, if you’re a citizen, you still get your right of habeas corpus. If you’re a non-citizen, as the senator pointed out, you’re completely finished. Picked up, legal permanent resident in the United States, detained forever, no writ of habeas corpus.

It was incredibly shocking. I watched that vote yesterday. I had been in Washington for two or three days trying to line up the votes for Senator Leahy’s amendment that would have restored habeas. We thought we had them. We lost at 51 to 48. I have to tell you, Amy, I just -- I basically broke down at that point. I had been working like a dog on this thing. And there I saw the President come to Capitol Hill and persuade two or three or four of the Republicans who we thought we had to vote to strip habeas corpus from this legislation. It was a shock. I mean, an utter shock.

So you have this ability to detain anyone anywhere in the world. You deny them the writ of habeas corpus. And when they're in detention, you have a right to do all kinds of coercive techniques on them: hooding, stripping, anything really the president says goes, short of what he defines as torture. And then, if you are lucky enough to be tried, and I say “lucky enough,” because, for example, the 460 people the Center represents at Guantanamo may never get trials. In fact, only ten have even been charged. Those people, they’ve been stripped of their right to go to court and test their detention by habeas corpus. They’re just -- they’ve been there five years. Right now, under this legislation, they could be there forever.

Let me tell you, this bill will be struck down and struck down badly. But meanwhile, for two more years or whatever it’s going to take us to litigate it, we’re going to be litigating what was a basic right, as the senator said, since the Magna Carta of 1215, the right of any human being to test their detention in court. It’s one of the saddest days I’ve seen. You’ve called it “groundbreaking,” Amy. It’s really Constitution-breaking. It’s Constitution-shattering. It shatters really basic rights that we've had for a very long time.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, how long have you been a senator?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: I’ve been there 32 years. I have to absolutely agree with what I just heard. I mean, this is -- it’s Kafka. But it’s more than that. It’s just a total rollback of everything this country has stood for. I mean, you have 100 people, very privileged, members of the Senate voting this way and with no realization of what it would be like if you were the one who was picked up. Maybe you’re guilty, but quite often, as we’ve seen, purely by accident and then held for years.

You know, I was a prosecutor for eight years. I prosecuted an awful lot of people, sent a lot of people to prison. But I did it arguing that everybody's rights had to be protected, because mistakes are often made. You want to make sure that if you’re prosecuting somebody, you’re prosecuting the right person. Here, they don't care whether mistakes are made or not.

And you have to stand up. I mean, it was a Vermonter -- you go way back in history -- it was a Vermonter who stood up against the Alien and Sedition Act, Matthew Lyon. He was prosecuted on that, put in jail, as a congressman, put in jail. And Vermont showed what they thought of these unconstitutional laws. We in Vermont reelected him, and eventually the laws fell down. There was another Vermonter, Ralph Flanders, who stood up to Joseph McCarthy and his reign of fear and stopped that. I mean, you have to stand. What has happened, here we are, a great powerful good nation, and we’re running scared. We’re willing to set aside all our values and running scared. What an example that is to the rest of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: You gave an example, Senator Leahy, when you talked about what would happen here. And, I mean, even the fact that “habeas corpus” is in Latin, I think, distances people. They don’t quite understand what this is about.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”

AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very -- sorry?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”

AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very graphic example. You said, “Imagine you’re a law-abiding lawful permanent resident. In your spare time you do charitable fundraising for international relief agencies that lend a hand in disasters.” Take that story from there, the example you used.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: You send money. You don’t care which particular religious group or civic group it is. They’re doing humanitarian work. You send the money. It turns out that one of them is giving money to various Islamic causes that the United States is concerned about. They come to your house. Maybe somebody has called into one of these anonymous tipster lines, saying, “You know, this Amy Goodman. I’m somewhat worried about her, simply because she’s going -- and I think I’ve seen some Muslim-looking people coming to her house.” They come in there, and they say, “We want to talk to you.” They bring you downtown. You’re a legal alien, legal resident here. And you say, “Well, look, I’ve got my rights. I’d like to talk to a lawyer.” They say, “No, no. You don’t have any rights.” “Well, then I’m not going to talk to you.” “Well, then now we’re twice as concerned about you. We’re going to spirit you down to Guantanamo, and we’ll get back to in a few years.” And, I mean, that could actually happen under this. And these are not far-fetched ideas, as the professor knows. He’s seen similar things.

And with that, and I would love to continue this conversation, unfortunately I’ve got to go back to my day job, back to the judiciary. I think this is going to go down as one of those black marks in the Congress. You know, I wasn’t there at the time, but virtually everybody voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution. When I came to the Senate, you couldn’t find anybody there who thought that was a good idea. They knew it was a terrible mistake. You had members of congress supported the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II. Everybody knows that was a terrible mistake now. That day will come when everybody will look at this and say, “What were we thinking?”

AMY GOODMAN: Patrick Leahy, thanks very much for joining us. We only have about 30 seconds. Michael Ratner, president of Center for Constitutional Rights, your final comment on this.

MICHAEL RATNER: This was really, as the senator said, probably the worst piece of legislation I’ve seen in my 40-year career as a lawyer. The idea, and even the example Senator Leahy gave, of someone being picked up, you don’t need anything. The President can decide tomorrow that you, Amy, or me, or particularly a non-citizen, can be picked up, put in jail forever, essentially, and if you're a non-citizen in Guantanamo or anywhere else in the world, you never get a chance to go to court to test your detention. It’s an incredible thing, and any senator who voted for this, in my view, is essentially guilty, guilty, guilty of undermining basic fundamental rights and may well be guilty of war crimes, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, thanks very much for joining us, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

saturday morning

Judith & Jules were each amazing last night at SPT & i think even if george w. had made it to the reading he would not have been able to decipher/decode/determine/detect: read. so. [see a few posts ago if yr wondering about the george w. thing.]

i love hearing Judith read because i feel like i can almost see/feel her writing process when she does. she's performative, not in a polished way, thank god, but in a passionate & raw, chewing peppers w/ an open nerve in yr mouth, kind of way.


CAConrad left a few days ago & we miss him in SF. it always seems like he belongs here when he is here but then, we all know his heart belongs to Philly. he just posted some musings he had while he was here over at PhillySound. a nice little write up about our gay marriage marriage which is not gay marriage but is the only "gay marriage" we can get. [because it makes way more sense that we legalize TORTURE. absolutely.]


i am on vacation starting Monday for 11 days. i am so excited. & i already have writing deadlines thanks to a very HAPPY friend of minor americans. thanks HAPPY friend!


last night's reading made me want to go home & write. i wish the readings were earlier & i didn't have a job & then i could go listen & then go write for a couple hours & then go meet everyone at Sadie's. i think that would be how i would organize the world.

instead i am back at work with a bit of dehydration & thousands of people [thanks to the smithsonian.].

Friday, September 29, 2006

and, finally, maybe

i just went and ordered THIS because you & i both know that Anne Boyer rules the world in real time.

& since i've secured the minor american copy, i don't mind letting you all know that you can pick one up now.

& i might add that logan aka transmission press & small town could use some love, too. [and deserves it.]


i'm ripping this straight off the site folks...

& i'm looking forward to this very much. VERY VERY MUCH.

i bet george w. IS NOT. though.

see you there. unless you love george w.


Friday, September 29, 2006 at 7:30 p.m.

Jules Boykoff & Judith Goldman

Jules Boykoff joins us in honor of his first collection, Once Upon a Neoliberal Rocket Badge (Edge Books). Tina Darragh says of reading it: “I want to echo Tom Hayden's comment on the 1999 Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations: ‘I am glad to have lived long enough to see a new generation of rebels accomplish something bigger.’ Boykoff's inventive language reminds us that in the futures market we're all dressed in sheep's clothing. This book re-girds us for the fight.”

Judith Goldman joins us in honor of her new book, Death Star Rico-chet (O Books). Rod Smith says: “In this violent and deeply accusatory book the cause and the effect are the restoration of our historical context as crime. The crime being murder. Deathstar/Ricohcet: The canceled check of a civilization. Somehow I don’t think that Pound thought his investment in poetry as ‘news that stays new’ would be returned for lack of funds. The implications of Goldman’s work are immense.”

Thursday, September 28, 2006


maggie & i go to AWP for two or three reasons:

1. to wake up in a different city & hang out with almost everyone + in person.

2. so we can buy restaurant guides & visit a city we probably wouldn't otherwise visit.

3. to CHILL w/ prageeta.

we think these are good reasons for you to go, too.

some people only go because they are on a panel or something, but really... there is nothing like a credit card vacation & the freedom to not go to panels if you so choose. & you could run into yr very first writing teacher ever, like i did, charles hood. which is always a pleasure. or yr second. like gillian conoley. OR, even yr first writing teacher's husband, like Forrest Gander.

some people we didn't run into in vancouver [we missed austin for some reason... o, yeah... money]... but would like to run into in atlanta:

1. elise ficarra
2. suzanne stein
3. brandon brown
4. michael nicoloff
5 pamela lu
6. julie reid
7.sarah vap [the winner of, like, EVERY poetry award for 2006...]
8. jack spicer
9. robert duncan
10. judith goldman
11. jocelyn saidenberg
12. maurice blanchot
13. logan ryan smith
14. john sakkis
16. stephanie young
17. everyone who blogs...

o... it is really too long of a list.

so, please. let's all go have cocktails & sleep in the same hotels & eat in the same restaurants & smoke each other's cigarettes in atlanta.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Originally uploaded by minor americans.
this, is a lucky shot. isn't it?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006


dear president,

i was talking to my employee, ken, a young, heterosexual man, today at work and he asked me, on the eve of my only-legal-in-san-francisco domestic partnership day why the definition of marriage is considered so fixed and obvious but the word TORTURE seems to confuse you.

and i ask you, mr president,

why is it you are legally allowed to electrically shock a young man's balls but two consenting adult males can't legally stick their dicks in each other's asses in alabama?


kathryn l. pringle

san francisco, ca

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Open letter to Kevin Dvorak



[yes you do mr. dvorak... yes. you. do.]

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

hey californians

did you know we filed a lawsuit against all the major auto makers... GM, Toyota... etc... over Global Warming.

did you? we are SO CALIFORNIAN.



and, if yr in N. Cal & are free Sunday night... you should come to the Minor American bachelorette party.

email for details.

[we've both had stalkers, you see, so we have to filter. you know. but, if yr not a stalker, do email, bc we know we haven't gotten in touch with everyone we'd like to about this.]

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yesterday's Reading

Ange Mlinko

Maine in 1845 did not have limes as a possibility.
But everything was green. The beam industry,
the pew industry, all these did well. Generosity
emerged from the log bridge futures, so necessity
was met wherever a hand was raised in humility.
Everyone came from a well-constructed family.

Basil knew that sharp tops meant pines;
cedars were flat. Vanilla wafted from certain firs.
Thoughts turned to St. Petersburg, looking at birches.
Then paused when a hemlock seemed like a larch.
The isosceles perfection of Norway spruces!
For diversion, Basil grew lettuces.

In March, the onion grass was kelly green.
In midsummer, the lawns were clover green.
By the gushing springs, a blue-green,
mattresses of moss developed, moss-green.
As they balled up into lakes, mallard greens
flashed. And in the winter, ice was midnight green.

What do green and violet make?
A wholeness, pollarded by the frame of reference.

The chapping bark in the stealing crepuscule.
The irrigating vintages.

Logs of drydocks.
Beet striations with a westward sheer;

Basil's junior status at the window in the new chipped sky.
To "Look up!" was a message that stuck.

The "passing fancy" bell he'll often hear:
Everything was green
but Maine in 1845 did not have lime.



Kevin Killian from SELECTED AMAZON REVIEWS, Hooke Press

Airport Planning & Management by Alexander T. Wells
Price: $47.50
Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
3 used from $40.00
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

The Book of Choice for Students and Dreamers, August 22, 2005

Like many young men, and I daresay women, I was drawn to airport management after exposure to Burt Lancaster's sterling portrayal of a harried airport manager in the Ross Hunter classic AIRPORT. Lancaster showed us that a man can handle a million problems all at once, if he had the right combination of grit and gray cells. It wasn't only the glamour, it was the idea of helping people get through their day -- even when the people in question were six or seven miles up in the air -- that made me consider airport management as a major at school.

Other factors prevented me from achieving my goal, but I continue to pick up textbooks and manuals to keep abreast of the way airports have changed over the last 35 years. From a technical point of view, one of the best resources for the lay manager is the Alexander Wells book AIRPORT PLANNING & MANAGEMENT (AP & MANAGEMENT), co-authored with Seth Young, both of them prominent in the field -- and the airfield -- today. This book brings you thoroughly up to date on the way the skies (and the terminals) have changed since the day of infamy, 9/11. Their information is laid out with dispatch, not a wasted word between them. In addition, they know their stuff, that's for sure. Over five-hundred pages and I could detect only a few minor inaccuracies.

If you were assigned to develop your own airport in some understaffed part of the world and were limited to bringing one textbook with you, this would be the volume you would bring. Of course, the old joke among airport-planning students is, what CD would you bring? Why, Brian Eno's MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS, of course.


If I hadn't read these two pieces on the same day, the similarities might have never occurred to me. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the form as a search for the endless opportunity to write. What I mean is that I think there are ultimately two kinds of writers. One is the writer who has a particular story he or she "needs" to tell. The language is secondary to this kind of writer. The other is the writer who picks the story that will allow him or her to put the most language down on paper. Moby Dick is, I think, an excellent example of the latter. With all those interruptions concerning all the technical aspects of whaling, the story becomes subordinate to everything that can be said around it. That's the kind of book I find most interesting. No doubt a "story" that has some emotional cache with the writer will help generate language, and so it might be easy to confuse one kind of writer for the other, but I think ultimately the quality of language makes it easy to put a writer into one of either category.

But both of the above pieces fall into the "excuse to write" category, the language-driven category. Mlinko's piece sets off in the language one might expect at the beginning of a novel, but that gesture permits her to go no further than the pleasures of green. There is no story-line, just the illusion of one, so that she can string a series of words together. Poetry, in this way, is a necessary cultural diversion in a world where the value of everything seems to be gauged by its utility. There's no need behind this poem, other than the need to make a poem, and there's really no defense for such a need in today's world. It's not going to make my stock rise, or help me overthrow the president. That's precisely the value of such work. In a culture were the usefulness of everything seems to be accounted for, where every dollar and minute count, we need ways to remind us that we are more than beasts of burden in an intricate social system that we cannot remove ourselves from. The imagination removes us from the system and places us into a non-teological structure that allows us to become sentient beings preoccupied with greens. Amen!

Killian's piece is one of thousands he posted on in order to get himself writing again after a heart attack. The endless products on-line act like spurs for his imagination, endless excuses for writing, and the fact that these reviews are public document in a consumer space immediately make the act of writing socially subversive. I understand perfectly now when Eileen Myles calls CAConrad the "Kevin Killian of Philadelphia." The whole project strikes me as a contemporary situationist or Dada performance piece. The consumer review which is supposed to help push product, to have a practical purpose for the consumer, is mocked with such imagination by Killian that I can't help but think of him now as the literary counterpart to my other comedic hero, Stephen Colbert. It seems obvious to me that anyone shopping for an airport planning textbook would think that this review is the joke that it is, but the fact that 3 out of 3 people found it useful points out just how seriously we take our consumption. And the comedy arises from the fact that he has usurped a form with a very concrete economic goal to pursue the splendidly uneconomical art of writing.

My Most Passionate Writing To Date:

September 16, 2006

AT&T Residence Service
POB 9039
South San Francisco, CA 94083

RE: Customer Account 415 547 4

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing because recently you added a long distance plan to my service without my consent. An announcement came in the mail thanking me for joining a plan I never signed up for, and then suddenly there was a $2.00 plus tax long distance plan added to my bill. Please cancel this service immediately and remove all related charges.

This behavior on your part is not new. Last year, when you were still SBC Global, you charged me about $400 for roughly a 60 minute phone call to Romania. I made the call because a relative was traveling and there was an emergency situation I needed to help with. I couldn’t pay the amount in one payment, so SBC cancelled my long distance service. Even though I was making large payments each month, SBC then cancelled my internet service, though the unpaid amount had nothing to do with web service. This happened at a time when I was applying to graduate school and the action jeopardized the process for me. When I called to complain, a sickly sweet representative, instead of offering an explanation for why the company thinks it can charge over $4.00 a minute for a phone call to Romania, recommended that next time I go to the corner store and by a phone card that only charges me $.05 a minute for such a call.

I moved last spring into a house where there was already AT&T internet service. I spoke to an AT&T representative and she explained to me that I could keep my current email address only by signing up for dial-up, even though I accessed the web through the home DSL connection. I agreed to do this, since it was important for me to keep my email address. At the same time, AT&T came to install a landline for me. The line did not work, but I was being charged for the service. I did not pay it until someone came to repair the connection. By this time, without warning, AT&T cancelled my email account because my phone bill was outstanding. What AT&T failed to recognize was that I had not paid the bill because the company had not installed the line properly. If you check your records, you will see that the repairman did not charge me for the visit because the lack of service was not my fault.

For all the reasons above, I wish to cancel my landline service with AT&T. I no longer wish to have a relationship with a company who aggressively and unfairly punishes its customers. Please make sure my account is cancelled upon receipt of this letter.

Perhaps AT&T should change some of its policies, since home phone service is a luxury in the age of cell phones, not a necessity.

I hope to never do business with you again.


Magdalena Zurawski

did i ever complain about not having enough to read?

the books sitting on my desk right now:

Tràma : Kim Rosenfield

The Metamorphoses : Ovid

A Season in Hell and the Drunken Boat: Rimbaud

Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus: Rilke

Aristotle's Poetics

The Visible and the Invisible: Merleau-Ponty

Phenomenology of Self-Consciousness: Hegel

The Phenomenology Reader: eds Moran & Mooney

Collected Poems: Mallarmé

Memoirs of My Nervous Illness : Brandon Brown

DeathStar/Rico-chet: Judith Goldman

Non-Adhesive Binding : Books without Paste or Glue : Smith

The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan


Books that were on my desk but Maggie swiped from me and put on her night stand next to our bed:

Selected Amazon Reviews : Kevin Killian

Burrow by Lauren Shufran

Cabinet Issue 21


Books that I ordered and are coming soon:

908-1078: Brandon Brown : get it here

the 2006 subscription from: Palm Press


and i'm still trying to get through fucking plato.



chatter now:

i had a dream last night in which i discovered that Lattimore actually translated EVERYONE and i was secretly heterosexual and in love with him because i only ever read HIM. every book said:

LATTIMORE'S... and then the title.

except for Kevin Killian's books.

and this may be because:

i fell asleep much earlier than maggie did last night because our upstairs neighbor had a party with a dj and hundreds of hipsters that lasted until 3:30 in the morning and i was totally annoyed because it seemed like there was a constant stream of conversations in which one of the smokers outside our bedroom window was always a Gemini and, like, that was so cool and they all rode Vespas [but maybe i inserted that for some reason]... so this was the night before last night, and thus... i fell asleep earlier than Maggie [who could sleep through the party which made me angry for some reason]...

and so... maggie was up reading Kevin's new book from Hooke Press [which everyone should have because of what i am about to tell you and also because Brent and Neil are doing an AMAZING job with these gorgeous books].... and i was fast asleep and maggie starts laughing convulsively and uncontrollably and wakes me up only... not completely... and she is in hysterics... and i am exhausted... so i start whining at her to stop it and she, of course, CAN'T... and i, not-awake, do not understand... so i start smacking her arm and whining louder which only makes it funnier for her. and me more confused.

that's all.

and she woke up this morning and read some of the reviews to me and we both fell into hysterics.

SO. there.


my doctor says i have a "normal" heart. FYI.


that's all i got right now. it is my only day off this week. been fighting the flu for two weeks. only made it to one event this past weekend [the PLAY]. i wanted to go everywhere, though. i swear.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

yr saturday night and mine.

oh... tonight there is way too much... and since i can't go to everything... i have to choose.

here's one:

SFSU Poetry Center Book Award Reading

Adrienne Rich and Mark McMorris
Saturday September 16, 2006
7:30 pm @ Unitarian Center
1187 Franklin (at Geary), San Francisco, $10
(SFSU students & Poetry Center members free)

and here is two:

Artifact Fundraiser:

Readings by:

Garrett Caples
Andrew Joron
Justin Sirois

Artwork by:
Renee Evans

September 16, 2006
7:30PM (reading begins at 8PM)
First come first served!
2921B Folsom St. @ 25th
SF CA 94110

and so. there you go.

you decide. i already have.

and maybe i'll see you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

have you noticed

that when our President has to pause and think that his mouth is still moving and the sound that comes out is something like a snake or a lizard hiss... or some other fork-tongued creature?

have you?

or is it just me?

yr friday night / announcements

this is where we will be, of course:

Fall 2006 at Small Press Traffic

Friday, September 15, 2006 at 7:30 p.m.

World Premiere of THE WISHING WELL, a play by Kevin Killian & Larry Rinder

Special benefit event – we suggest you arrive early – all seats $10 – first come first served.

In present-day San Francisco, not everyone's slacker, and artist-musician Buddy Harrison resents the label more than most. His art career seems like it's taking off, for he's sold one of his lemonade-based stick figure drawings for $150, and his acoustic band is polishing his Harry Smith-influenced neo-folk number, "Mushroom Wind." And yet one day Buddy wakes up and finds out that his little web side project, the "Wishing Well" has made him rich beyond his wildest imaginings, on a par with Craig from Craig's List. That's when his problems begin, as from around the globe, the people he helped and the people he failed to help converge on the city on the bay for another fatal round of summer wishes, winter dreams. From Russia fly Natasha Berchofsky and her French poodle, Bijou, cured of a pet disease once thought certain to kill him. From the Andes comes the young medical student and former shepherdess Purissima, now a gene-splicing technician at the new UCSF Mission Bay genetic labs. Buddy's boyfriend, suave real estate broker Michael Morton, has his own ideas about how to spend all that money. But what does Buddy want-really want? Put a quarter in the wishing well of San Francisco Poets' Theater, and find out. Our thirty-fourth full-length production, written by Kevin Killian and Larry Rinder, features an eclectic cast of poets, painters, musicians, film and video artists, photographers, writers and curators, including Gerald Corbin, Craig Goodman, Clifford Hengst, Scott Hewicker, Colter Jacobsen, Karla Milosevich, Donal Mosher, Rex Ray, Laurie Reid, Leslie Shows, and Wayne Smith.


also, an announcement from suzanne of TAXT

a bit belatedly announcing the summer publication of two new taxt

Selections from THE BRUISE by Magdalena Zurawski


Non Eligible Respondent by Stefani Barber


i'm back to work after a couple sick days.

and Hesiod went and got list-y on me in Theogony... but i still love him.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

hesiod vs. homer

[or is it Lattimore vs. Fagles?]

like i said, i'm reading a lot and i'm in the middle of Hesiod's Theogony [trans. Richard Lattimore look here .]

i just finished "The Works and Days," which i had read about in an amazon review [not one of kevin's ] "as very boring and about farming and stuff." <---loosely quoted.

so i wasn't expecting much... but what i got i fell in love with and here is an excerpt for you:

I mean you well, Perses, you great idiot,
and I will tell you.
Look, badness is easy to have, you can take it
by handfuls
without effort. The road that way is smooth
and starts here beside you.
But between us and virture the immortals have put
what will make us
sweat. The road to virtue is long
and goes steep uphill,
hard climbing at first, but the last of it,
when you get to the summit
(if you get there) is easy going after the hard part.


do i prefer the boiotian epic to the homeric?

i might.

i've always had a love for instructional poems. i like to be bossed around by work. and i like directness: i'm not one for small talk. [but maggie is working on this].

it seems to me... so far in my reading of Hesiod... that he refrains from "listing"... that, yes, there is a list... but it is more of a do this, do that [idiot] poem. the moments in the illiad and the odyssey [and the Holy Bible] where soldiers / tribes are listed for twenty pages... or the ships... those parts are really hard for me to sit through. and i realize that these lists are rich with history and culture... but with homer and the bible... i just want to get to the action.

with hesiod...

well. there is action in stillness. a suspended momentum.

but that's not really explaining it... it is more like seeing rapidly moving molecules that are moving so ... that they initially... seem unmoving.

ack... i'll try later.

after theogony.

[i'm home sick. i got this flu that had me achey and weak for 9 days, went away for 2, and returned with a very sore throat and stuffed up head.]


the easy and quick love i have for hesiod [or lattimore... which... i asked one of my employees who got a BA in classics which translators i should look at... because ever since my latin teacher suggested fagles and lattimore i haven't strayed... and he looked at me like ... 'translators? there are so many' ... and at first i thought... wow.... he doesn't care about this at all... and then i realized... he is his own translator. for the most part. but still...]

i do not have for Plato's Phaedrus. and i don't know if it is Plato or if it is me. but we always have trouble with each other. first... the Republic i found both frightening and hilarious and ... real [see how the CSU system is not so interested in the Arts anymore]... and again with Phaedrus.

i hesitate to mention the actual topic on our blog because of the sitemeter hits that will start bringing folks over [it is funny when it is "lesbian" but... this topic... i have a fear for the imagined safety of our blog neighborhood.]...

so... here: phaedrus .

my modern self coupled with my 300 + years of N. American Protestantism has issues with the text.

and, yeah, i do find it really funny. too. but difficult to surrender my disturbed self to.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

random and/or pointed reading.

"If I disbelieved it, as wise people do, I'd not be extraordinary; then I'd use their wisdom..." Socrates in Plato's Phaedrus.


does anyone else remember when our Presidents actually believed in democracy, not Democracy?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

my sister had her baby today!!!!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


when i was 12 these three songs were my favorites. i recently rediscovered my pre-teen musical obsession and have become re-obsessed.

and also convinced that

1/ i was a damn cool 12 year old [i did listen to gang of four, you know]

2/ my parents had no idea what i was doing ever. at any point. because these lyrics are very adult and i am just realizing this now.

never trust a man with egg on his face

beat my guest

whip in my valise

you will have to have iTunes to dload them. and it is SAFE, don't worry. you can always throw them away if you hate them.

enjoy. i still do.

[THANK YOU EB for help posting MUSIC... you are... RAD]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

what was done

was that i cleaned up our links all afternoon and added some new ones that were really needing to be added for months but adjusting our template is not something i often want to do so i waited a really long time to do it and now it is done until i decide i don't like the way it looks again.


my new reading list is as follows:


not exactly in that order and not exactly including everyone.
my new project. kind of like when i read homer, aeschylus, sophocles, the divine comedy, and much more in order to read pound's cantos and maybe understand something about them.

only, this is different.


i think i really miss school. which i didn't expect. this is the first semester i've not been enrolled in classes. [in ten years].

the relief i felt when i finally graduated with my degrees is gathering into a low-level panic.


and, yes, maggie is really obsessed with the dog whisperer. she is on a first name basis with him and talks about him every night before bed.

As Ususal...

...I am not as prolific as Kate, nor when I speak is it as intellectual. But I feel it necessary to share my newest obsession with everyone: The Dog Whisperer. I know, I am behind the beat as usual. Caesar has already been on Oprah and spoofed on South Park. I never hear the first heartbeats of a trend, always the dying whispers. Maybe I should be a historian, since I only seem to like things once they've passed. In any case, after watching the first DVD of season one yesterday and Sunday, I have learned that it is possible to teach an old blind dog new tricks. Percy is well on his way to learning how to sit. And I also got him NOT to attack an Akita yesterday. All after only 6 shows. Why is this so important to me? Kate says it is because Caesar has related to my inner child. I was always ambivalent about "dominating" my dog. Seemed cruel. But watching the show has made me see that making the dog know that I am in charge is comforting. The equivalent of a child knowing the parents are taking care of him because he is forced to go to bed at 8:00pm every night. The child doesn't feel like he has to parent himself. Likewise, the dog doesn't feel like he is responsible for taking care of the whole house and "pack".