Monday, August 31, 2009

how can i help this writer

Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, "How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?" and avoid "How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?"

~ James Thurber in a 1959 memo to The New Yorker

[Damen Avenue at Chicago Avenue]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

the propagation of this comfortable feeling

If it were possible for me, I would make films which, apart from entertaining the audience, would convey to them the absolute certainty that they DO NOT LIVE IN THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. And in doing this I believe that my intentions would be highly constructive. Movies today, including the so-called neo-realist, are dedicated to a task contrary to this. How is it possible to hope for an improvement in the audience and consequently in the producers when every day we are told in these films, even in the most insipid comedies, that our social institutions, our concepts of Country, Religion, Love, etc., etc., are, while perhaps imperfect, UNIQUE AND NECESSARY? The true "opium of the audience" is conformity; and the entire, gigantic film world is dedicated to the propagation of this comfortable feeling, wrapped though it is at times in the insidious disguise of art.

~ Luis Buñuel in "Film: Book 1," edited by Robert Hughes

[State Street below Lake Street]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

in the clear water

i picked some blossoms and fashioned myself a tiara of flowers, i looked at myself in the clear water. I had no opinion of my face. I was bred for a higher system of vanity.

"Babel," Patti Smith

[Damen Avenue below North Avenue]

Friday, August 28, 2009

i lived a few weeks

I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me.

"In A Lonely Place," "Dixon Steele"

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

only shallow people

People say sometimes that Beauty is only superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Oscar Wilde

[California Avenue below Chicago Avenue]

Sunday, August 23, 2009

junk that's going round

Mother told me yes she told me I'd meet girls like you
She also told me stay away, you'll never know what you'll catch
Just the other day I heard a soldier falling off
Some Indonesian junk that's going round.

Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird
Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away

"Surrender," Cheap Trick

[Chicago Avenue west of Washtenaw Street]

Saturday, August 22, 2009

creating an imaginary, it's always imaginary

You know, they ask me if I were on a desert island and I knew nobody would ever see what I wrote, would I go on writing? My answer is most emphatically yes. I would go on writing for company. Because I'm creating an imaginary—it's always imaginary—world in which I would like to live.

~ William Burroughs, Paris Review, Fall 1965

[Illinois Street west of New Street]

Friday, August 21, 2009

last night i ate stolen bread

Yes, lass, last night I ate stolen bread and left my son among men who are going to use pick-handles on the authorities, so I thought I might just as well look you up this morning.

"Independent People," Halldór Laxness

[Ukrainian Village below Augusta Avenue]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

i am the least difficult of men

Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous
(and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable
list!), but one of these days there'll be nothing left with
which to venture forth.

Why should I share you? Why don't you get rid of someone else
for a change?

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too,
don't I? I'm just like a pile of leaves.

"Meditations in an Emergency," Frank O'Hara

[Chicago Avenue east of Damen Avenue]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

i used to think they were all alike

Today has that special, lapidary
Todayness that the sunlight reproduces
Faithfully in casting twig-shadows on blithe
Sidewalks. No previous day would have been like this.
I used to think they were all alike,
That the present always looked the same to everybody
But this confusion drains away as one
Is always cresting into one's present.

"Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," John Ashbery

[Armitage Avenue east of Spaulding Avenue]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

secrecy, masonic oaths, an underworld

The word 'subculture' is loaded down with mystery. It suggests secrecy, masonic oaths, an Underworld. It also invokes the larger and no less difficult concept 'culture.' So it is with the idea of culture that we should begin.

"Subculture and the Meaning of Style," Dick Hebdige

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Monday, August 17, 2009

he loved lightning he lived on an island

He loved lightning
He lived on an island
His mother was a
His father was a gold
Cutting tool
Old scholia say that
Stesichoros says that
Geryon had six hands and six feet and wings
He was red and
His strange red cattle excited envy.
Herakles came and
Killed him for his cattle

The dog too

"XV Total Things Known About Geryon," "Autobiography of Red," Anne Carson

[Chicago Avenue west of Damen Avenue]

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The fact there is massive social repression that has an enormous effect on desiring-production in no way vitiates our principle: desire
produces reality, or stated another way, desiring-production is one and the same thing as social production. It is not possible to attribute a special form of existence to desire, a mental or psychic reality that is presumably different from the material reality of social production.

"Capitalism and Schizophrenia," Deleuze and Guattari

[Chicago Avenue east of Winchester Street]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

making my life absurd

I hate the government for making my life absurd.

~ Jane Jacobs

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Friday, August 14, 2009

most of my time

I spend most of my time not dying.
That's what living is for.
I climb on a motorcycle.
I climb on a cloud and rain.
I climb on a woman I love.
I repeat my themes.

"Racer," Frederick Seidel

[Chicago Avenue at Winchester Street]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

when you stop listening

People are aware of having too many external stimuli. What do you hear when you stop listening? The question is about whether anyone has an internal world any more.

~ Adam Phillips

[Armitage Avenue east of Spaulding]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

using a feather

Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken.

~ Isabel Allende

[Halsted Street north of Hooker]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they'd never match
My sweet imagination
And everything looks worse in black and white

"Kodachrome," Paul Simon

[Damen Avenue above Haddon Street]

Monday, August 10, 2009

all kinds of supernatural powers

Like the artist,
the government has at its disposal all kinds of supernatural powers.
Without anyone telling it anything,
it knows everything. What it can do,
it has not learned. It has
learned nothing. Its education
is sorely wanting, yet magically
it is able to put in a word on everything, to decide everything,
even on matters it doesn't understand.

"The Government As Artist," Bertolt Brecht

[Augusta Avenue west of Damen Avenue]

Sunday, August 9, 2009

the cat & the squirrel

The thing comes
of itself

(Look up
to see
the cat & the squirrel,
the one
torn, a red thing,
& the other
somehow immaculate

"Love," Robert Creeley

[Chicago Avenue west of California Avenue]

Saturday, August 8, 2009

your absence

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

"Separation," W.S. Merwin

[Armitage Avenue east of Spaulding]

Friday, August 7, 2009

it knows about taking sides, positions, risks

Tango is a practice already ready for struggle. It knows about taking sides, positions, risks. It has the experience of domination/resistance from within. Tango, stretching the colonized stereotypes of the Latino-macho-Catholic fatalism, is a language of decolonization. So, pick and choose. Improvise. Hide away. Run after them. Stay still. Move at an astonishing speed. Shut up. Scream a rumor. Turn around. Go back without returning. Upside down. Let your feet do the thinking. Be comfortable in your restlessness. Tango.

"Tango and the Political Economy of Passion," Marta E. Savigliano

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

they are taking pictures of taking pictures

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America... Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot... We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book. "No one sees the barn," he said finally. A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn... We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies." There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism." Another silence ensued."They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said...

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?"

"White Noise," Don DeLillo

[Damen Avenue above Rice Street]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

inherent vice

Doc got out his lens and gazed into each image till one by one they began to float apart into little blobs of color. It was as if whatever had happened had reached some kind of limit. It was like finding the gateway to the past unguarded, unforbidden because it didn’t have to be. Built into the act of return finally was this glittering mosaic of doubt. Something like what Sauncho’s colleagues in marine insurance liked to call inherent vice.

"Inherent Vice," Thomas Pynchon

[Damen Avenue below Rice Street]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

sexual desire from epic to everyday, all they could sweep up

Was it possible, that at every gathering—concert, peace rally, love-in, be-in, and freak-in, here, up north, back East, wherever—those dark crews had been busy all along, reclaiming the music, the resistance to power, the sexual desire from epic to everyday, all they could sweep up, for the ancient forces of greed and fear?

"Inherent Vice," Thomas Pynchon

[Chicago Avenue at California Avenue]

Monday, August 3, 2009

tobacco is her consort

If alcohol is queen, then tobacco is her consort. It's a fond companion for all occasions, a loyal friend through fair weather and foul. People smoke to celebrate a happy moment or hide a bitter regret. I love to touch the pack in my pocket, open it, savor the feel of the cigarette between my fingers, the paper on my lips, the taste of tobacco on my tongue. I love to watch the flame spurt up, love to watch it come closer and closer, filling me with its warmth.

~ Luis Buñuel

[California Avenue and Chicago Avenue]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

by hazard's quirk

In sullen light of the inauspicious day.
Now, free, by hazard’s quirk, from the common ill
Knocking our brothers down, we strike a stance
Most mock-heroic, to cloak our waking awe
At this rare rumpus which no man can control:
Meek and proud both fall; stark violence

"Channel Crossing," Sylvia Plath

[Division Street and Damen Avenue]

Saturday, August 1, 2009

a visible counterpart to the feeling in everybody's skin

Santa Anas had been blowing all the smog out of downtown L.A., funneling between the Hollywood and Puente Hills on westward through Gordita Beach and out to sea, and this had been going on for what seemed like weeks now. Offshore winds had been too strong to be doing the surf much good, but surfers found themselves getting up anyway to watch the dawn weirdness, which seemed like a visible counterpart to the feeling in everybody's skin of desert winds and heat and relentlessness, with the exhaust from millions of motor vehicles mixing with microfine Mojave sand to refract the light toward the bloody end of the spectrum, everything dim, lurid and biblical, sailor-take-warning skies.

"Inherent Vice," Thomas Pynchon

[Chicago Avenue west of Winchester Street]

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Chicago, Illinois, United States

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