Wednesday, June 25, 2008

PhillySound Poets in Fanzine

Fanzine, an online general culture magazine, has just published its first installment of a series focusing on poetry communities. Read work here by eleven Philadelphia poets, including myself (click here to go directly to my poems).

Big thanks to Thom Donovan and CA Conrad for putting this together.

Note: You need Firefox or Safari to read all of the poems (Internet Explorer won't work) - you can download either of these browsers from a link on the Fanzine site (it's quick & easy; I just did it).

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Wanna read a good story? Read this one by Chad Willenborg.

A rusty barbed wire fence run through the woods behind the house. It had been there a long time, and the trees had grown around the wire in places. Parts of it were all swallowed up in bark. We picked our way over logs and through the trees, until Brian said, “Here!” and he ducked under the fence and began to pass through. Will lollygagged behind us. He swerved through the leaves like his compass was loose, and when I called his name, he bumped off a tree, made some googly sound effect, then fell down flat, spazzing with his arms out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

elsewhere, pt 2

so on this roadtrip we drove a bright yellow car, a bright yellow chevy aveo, which we were all a little embarrassed about. i bore the brunt of my companions’ complaints, as i was the one who picked up the car from hertz. we speculated what people in passing cars were thinking once we got south. in asheville it was no big deal, since asheville, as you might know, is a kind of liberal free-spirit town, described by the manager of our hostel in charlottesville, virginia as “crunchy,” which i interpreted as “place of bare feet, dirty hippies.” asheville’s fire hydrants looked like this:

and so we were comfortable enough there with our yellow car. but as i may’ve suggested in part one (see previous post below), asheville seemed modester than i’d expected. certainly it was no san francisco. it didn’t appear to take pride in its weirdness, as say portland, oregon does. we stayed in a hostel run by a not-too-crunchy guy named BJ (if you want a cheap clean place to stay in asheville, go there) and found good, affordable food and drink. to be fair we weren’t there very long – and the local paper’s police log indicated that violence does take place on a regular basis.

we themed our trip “nothing is necessary.” we drove up to the raleigh-durham area w/out itinerary, w/out having researched a thing. problem was the temperature was over a hundred degrees, which made certain things necessary. durham was a scorching hot ghost town. new signs directed you which way to which district – however there was nothing to be found in these districts. there was nothing even i'd call a district. we drank a lot of water and took no pictures. which undermines my first, feeble attempt at a photo-essay, doesn’t it.

so imagine us then in an air conditioned room in a red roof inn off the highway watching the penguins lose the cup finally to detroit. the volume was fixed more or less, as any button you pushed on the remote or tv either turned the volume down or turned the tv off.

in raleigh there were some people on the street, and we stopped for lunch in a pizza place and asked its waitress what should we see. she said y’all aren’t thinkin a movin here, are ya?

we wound up bowling in an old bowling alley called “western lanes” on hillsborough st, i believe, where you had to keep your own score. we bowled lane 2, whose corner-left pin would not fall down. we guessed they gave us this defective lane on purpose. anyway i improved w/ each can of beer and won two of three, scoring a 125 in the final game, thanks in part to theresa the bartender who’s famous, apparently, for her “sidearm sling” – she slides (or bowls) the beers you ordered down the bar to you. i cannot yet express the satisfaction i got from catching her slings.

and chapel hill of course, the oft-hyped chapel hill: a college town that looked like any other college town you’ve ever seen, except maybe a little richer. it bored us, but they had a good used bookstore and we were able to crash one night w/ my mother’s friend patti and her family who treated us with some locally brewed beer and were extremely kind. we were lucky to meet them.

we finished up in greensboro, where i caught a train (with my camera) emerging from between these two old southern railroad buildings i couldn’t stop looking at:

down the street from those tracks was a place called elsewhere. elsewhere is a thrift store-turned-living art museum run by an artist collective that continually rearranges, if you will, the decades’ worth of inventory the store had amassed until its closing in 1997. old fabrics, furniture, books, toys—masters of the universe figures, for example, and those little plastic baseball helmets you’d get ice cream in from friendly’s, jumbles of childhood objects that may trigger long forgotten memories, the endless (but possibly emotional) junk of our consumer culture—as well as the histories lodged in these things, including the mysteriousness of the old store itself, contributed to the overwhelming experience of the place, the “sensory overload” you might say. i’ve seen nothing like it—my grandmothers’ basements, maybe, but to the 10th power, with much of its material (if not all, arguably) made into temporary art installations. that elsewhere preserves the original space and contents—that elsewhere actually exists as a consequence and extension of the building, albeit a self-conscious one, one that’s curious far beyond the simple values of commerce (nothing’s literally for sale there, tho it stands in the middle of a traditional commercial district) and perhaps beyond common rationales for art, is what makes it great. i understand that some of the artists even live there. i took some pictures of the place but they pale in comparison to the ones on their website. it’s a place worth seeing.

greensboro was a real good time. we hung out w/ our friend ken rumble who took us to a farmer’s market and set up a poetry reading in his beautiful apartment for me and riverbottum and local poet matt mullins. it was a pleasure to read w/ these guys amid an intimate yet skeptical, interactive audience of which i was happy to be a part, however fleetingly. that last wknd w/ ken was all too brief, which is to say of course that it was a great time, and that i still, a week later, retain bits of the good feeling i had there, a feeling specific to the place and time that gave it to me and which is therefore inexplicable, a small feeling that's the tip of an iceberg, the possibility of a moment you will never see, never feel exactly again.

ken, late the last night of our trip - thanks ken!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


last week three close friends and i took a roadtrip down to and inside of north carolina.

after a day in asheville, brandon asked me what do i think of asheville. i said it’s somewhere else, i like it.

which wasn’t to say that i abhorred where i’d been prior - philadelphia, where i live - though it’s easy to get cooped up in one’s home, i think, be it big city or small town. but asheville struck me as firmly its own compared to most towns. it wasn’t the same old boring chain stores of anywhere america. there was obviously a history—things about it you’d have to live there to begin to understand, to sense their actual size.

also, the people we met were friendly, unpretentious. i think that in philadelphia i am friendlier than most people. in asheville – in almost every place we visited in the south, really – i felt unfriendlier than most, and so i started paying more attention to the way i moved my body, my habitual gestures and so forth.

my guess was that nobody there was ready to steal anything from me.

walking down a street w/ brandon and riverbottum.

we went to the great smoky mountains and did some easy hiking along “deep creek.” the air startled me it was so fresh, and we were all happy to be there. we debated whether the creek was deep enough to warrant its name. lots of kids were tubing in the creek. we decided not to join them.

brandon along deep creek.

ryan inside oconaluftee vistor center, margarita outside taking photo.

driving along the great smoky mountain highway we saw a few cars pull over and so we pulled over too and watched an elk eating grass. it turned its posterior to us and defecated as it continued eating grass.

we drove through cherokee, a reservation-tourist area outside the park. among the absurdities (of which there were plenty) were a couple of tepees draped with signs that said Everything Half Off, out front a gift shop.

we stayed in a cabin (see photo above) in the deep creek area, near bryson city, drank some wine and beer we bought from an IGA in bryson, watched game 5 of the stanley cup on the cabin’s little tv and took turns swatting flies. pittsburgh won in triple overtime to stay alive for one more game; riverbottum was elated.

the next day we drove up into the hills and took some more pictures of each other.

ryan & margarita.

part two later.