stingers make bees irrelevant,
broken on the sill
where waxen symmetry flutters to stillness.
Who limbers me now
Glass doesn’t break in straight lines.
the light bending?
Villainy in the subtexts abound.
What has Touched Down Has Removed Me Instead: David Tomaloff Captures the Essence, Ghosts and the Liquidity of Image Language in His New Chap Book of Poetry
A review by DAMM
Rarely in my lifetime have I been so excited to write about someone else’s poetry. There in fact has been only two occasions before this where I found it necessary to do so – My review of The Hurricane Lamp by my favorite poet of all time Sundin Richards and when my other favorite Edgar Allan Poe moved me to pen a 45 page analysis of his work back when I was a far younger man. There is yet another to mention, Richard Cronshey who’s The Snow and the Snow I wish to write about but cannot quite invent the words for those words because so much of its fantasticness is beyond my ability to say anything when in the presence of those words.
Today there is another. Today I must write about my first eXperience with a large dose of David Tomaloff.
In his chap book “A Soft That Touches Down & Removes itself” Tomaloff kicks the walls of notion and preconception to the ground. In the unrecognizable rubble that is left in your mind he surgically constructs vivid new images and passionately leads the reader to their own delights. The heart on the cover is so appropriate for this collection of poems because it beats unwaveringly through every page. I was committed, I was involved. I read it four or five time and am still smiling.
This is a testament to relationship, and a shining monument to the dialogue between a he and a she. A mechanical pulse
But I am disturbed by what my mind can do. The new associations and fresh imagery make this one of the finest modern poetry collections I have ever read. I read and have read a ton of poetry. I am impressed. See the following excerpt from a poem called “These Are A Ritual”
The dirges were all villages;
we melted them into lead
we burned them all down
I said to make way for the “us”
It is these kinds of succinct abstractions that filter the meaning down like a warm drop of salt air or the icy finger of a bitter old man depending on the poem. This book is chalked full of meaning. Go up click on the link, buy this book right away. You will be a better human being for having read this book about the machine of the beating heart.
I found you writhing against cognizance on the kitchen counter,
You wanted nothing more than to be acknowledged
as the sick.
You were trying too hard
For me it is too natural and you may not duplicate it wantonly for extra healing
I was aghast at your mirroring.
I am so pale.
Green never was my color, not like jaundice.
That’s more flattering.
Far more so than the current gaping black swill spilled from my chasmchest
Among my own remedies,
I found more poison and opted.
I can’t tell you why there is no more hope
only that it died lonely.
There were many watching and poking – hope died afraid too
So bleakly beautiful and stark
but still as barren as beginning.
And our tethers.
Cutlery leaves to many trails, a quiet wither seems appropriate
So the cupboard remains in flames,
My empathy apathy
Rejection is a sense of peace now.
It indicates the cooling of synapse, the withdrawn talk to each other still.
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NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN:
Superb for a Biography
Phenomenal For an Artist
An In-Depth Review of A Book About an Even Deeper Man! By DAMM
**NO REAL SPOILERS!**
As a comic purist, die hard movie buff and pop culture junkie I am acutely aware of Lance Henriksen, but I had no idea what kind of man he was. I have watched him my whole life in Aliens, Close Encounters, Omen II, Jagged Edge and one of my favorite films in the genre Nightmares from 1983 and have, like most of you out there I would bet, took how significant his career has been for granted. His biography is unlike any book you have ever read, let alone any biography. Forget, just for a moment, all the beautiful art and top notch bookmaking, and look at the amazing life story of the man with one of the most impressive resumes in movie history. But, to understand this man you HAVE to acknowledge this Avant Garde style of storytelling, where the Co-Author Joseph Maddrey does the set up and the details, then Lance drives home the realism and personalization to his tale in excerpts. I read about 5 biographies this year including a good one by Sammy Hagar, not one of those was as awesome as this one. The first page An Invitation hooked me and I didn’t stop reading (with the exception of X-Men: First Class) till I was finished.
Here is said first page.
“When I first came to Hollywood, I tried to walk onto the Universal studio lot. I went right up to the gate, and the guards wouldn’t let me in…because I didn’t know how the entertainment industry worked. Later I came back – with a couple of Kleenex tissues stuffed in my shirt collar – and I walked right through the gate. They let me in because they thought I was an actor in makeup.
There is a wall around this entire industry. They don’t usually invite you in. But if you decide this is what you want to do, they can’t keep you out.
– Lance Henriksen
See? I was hooked. Just like you. I could stop this review right here and that would be enough. IF it was a book about ANYONE else – it I not; Lance Henriksen is a remarkable man and deserves a remarkable book, so that means an in-depth review. The book(unlike so many other biographies) is not an exercise in vanity or look-at-me-ism, in fact it is more of what a biography is supposed to be – a telling of a life story yes, but to redeemable and edifying ends. Like so many thing about lance Henriksen’s life, the book, becomes art because it is funneled through him and his vision. There it is, the word I was looking for, or words, artistic vision. I have never read of a person who has been so blessed by artistic vision on this scale and so unwilling to let it get in the way of said art.
Early encounters in his film career with directors Speilberg, Lumet and Truffant were not as much jobs but real tests of his desire to create art. His disdain of “fartcatcher roles” and stereotyped suit characters are punctuated by his illiteracy, street upbringing of himself and escape attempts from the heaviest kind of relationship chains all are front and center but what you see is the artist indulgent and harsh being hammered into the fascinating man Henriksen is. As he matures, his perspective incubates into a brilliant philosophy both that film is a more communicative medium than theatre (to which he has worked with some of the great NYC theatre community players) and a desire to immerse himself, to experience or experience again what the character is going through. He talks of his amazing opportunities with teachers, directors and companies. He talks of the hypocrisy and side of the industry that is counterproductive to the art.
While reading his life story all of the movie sets and job descriptions are like heaven for any fan, but once in it truly lodses significance compared to the journey of being the actor, painter and potter. Henriksen does not give the lame who slept with who details of salacious glory whoring of so many Hollywood biographies, he talks about on the onset horrors of fitting in, passion for the craft and the constant suffering of fools dressed in plastic suits and attempts to stymie, bully and dissuade him. It is a tale of being the late bloomer and never giving up. It is a tale of not understanding you do not know who you are to deciding what that is and forging it with will. The gratitude in this book is refreshing because it is not sticky sentimental nor is it disingenuous. Henriksen is well aware he had help on the way but is unwilling to hand all of the lumps and hard work from his own catalog of passion to others. His anecdotes are more potent than any actor’s bio I have ever read save Chaplin’s, because all pretention has been stripped away before it ever hits the page – it was removed at the source.
Henriksen is a monolith of regular guy mentality in a truly gifted soul that is neither regular nor ordinary. He is frank, unabashed and coarse at times and entirely too rare a personality type. He is a true tough guy where it counts, mentally and emotionally in my opinion, but my opinion of him is irrelevant because as he reiterates over and over it is the journey and the process not the destination or the product that makes a man an artist. The book talks about how Lance unlike any other actor I have heard of did this from his gut and never apologized for it. He followed the natural instincts engrained, nurtured and trained as an artist religiously and only seemed to suffer when he did not.
In this book the actor/painter/potter goes film by film and offers the reader insights that we all look for in biographies here are two examples of those to close this review. A large portion of this book is devoted to Millenium, one of the biggest cult shows ever and I promised no spoilers for them. But trust me when I say this, If you are a fan of Millenium and you do not have this book – you do not know half of the story. There are sections on his pottery and his direction in that craft. There are admissions of failure and moments of triumph that had me choked up. Like when he comes to terms with hoew he needs to learn to read better or when…oh boy almost had me. If you miss out on this book you will be missing an entire chapter in pop culture, film history and art legacies of this era. Not to mention, He’s Bishop!
There was a very iffy moment. In the first scene I had with Hackman, Sam (*Sam Raimi the director) had put the camera down on the ground and he says, “OK Gene, Ace Hanlon is right over there. You step in and we just see your boots.” And Hackman looked at him and said, “What the fuck does this have to do with acting? This is camera shit.” He was a little annoyed but he agreed to do it. In the next shot Gene was supposed to walk up to me, and I said “No Gene, don’t walk up to me – let me walk up to you because you give up your power if you walk up to me, so I’ll just walk to you.” And he said alright. But that could have gone very differently. He could have said, “Who the fuck do you think you are?” I did not realize until I got back to the hotel that night what I’d done. I had been waiting 20 years to work with Gene Hackman, and I had the nerve to give him a direction. What the fuck was I thinking?
From the facing page 205 when talking about being hired for Dead Man with director Jim Jarmusch:
For the second time in my career I said to a director, “I don’t want to say one line that you have written for this character in the script. I want to improvise the whole thing.” He said, “How are we going to do that?” I said, “You’ll see when we get into the situations.” I said that at our very first meeting….Any other director wouldn’t have hired me, but Jim was willing to trust my instincts. He is more receptive to the actor’s instincts than any other director I have worked with.
This last excerpt is followed by the director’s remembrance of the encounter. That kind of brilliant story followed by quality follow up authorship of Maddrey, and the exceedingly long line of directors actors and friends in this book make Not Bad For A Human more than a biography, it is art, it is art history, it is a fascinating look at the heart and journey of a true visionary whose work is not the flashy Tom Cruise smile or the uber-recognizable name like Stallone but is a more relevant and spectacular embodiment of the craft. Not Bad For A Human is a must buy for any fan of film, art OR biography.
Until Next Flight,
*DAMM insertion not in book
I. Electric Monet
A winsome deluge of crepe and berry, the sun buried its sweet face into the fluffy sky. The long hazeline atop the overworked and under appreciated scrapers, indicated the last of all sunsets. He was shocked at how meaningful purples could be if pitched just right at the bending light.
This, he determined was a fine end to the life-pallet stained with the Dark Sienna and Yellow Ocher, the tools of his hand and the only metaphor he ever understood. From his precise vantage point on the old rooftop water tower, (the wooden kind with the pointy top..that was important for some reason he knew) he watched a symphony play to the hostile audience – the sky’s light to the sea’s dark rage.
Omniscient is how he felt right at these moments, tapped in, able to watch the vibrations and blurs of the mundane known to slip by the most detailed eye. The trick, he knew, was you had to know to look for it.
Simple but so elusive and sandy.
When lightning hit the tower he was not harmed merely energized. His next three paintings sold for posterity plus, as a perk, the smiles of the world. The next seven saved man from the fire he stole.
But, he reflected more than anything else he was glad he had not killed himself when he was forced to quit fishing by his body and lack of demand (10 years ago?). He had started painting while he waited for call backs to go out as a boat hand – him a captain of 20 years!- and had seen the man on TV. with his happy little trees.
Changed the old salt.
When he awoke from 3rd degree electrocution he quit repairing satellite dishes and got help for his delusions. He was 27. And never knew Bob Ross personally. Somehow, he knew that was important too. This time he would stay on his pills. If he could remember.
He decided then and there he would not have a box-stair man-roach hut. A cave is what he needed.
But first he had to find the rope, the black one. The one that was singing to him, and the angelman.
The ropey protrusion in the noose around my wrist kept talking out of spite, out of turn and out of its mind. I however, was doing my best to ignore it, but every time I snorted in derision it would constrict a little tighter. My hand I noticed was a little purpler after the last round of Thorazine strewn vitriol lobbed at the Djinn, the Angel and the Hobo that accompanied us.
Along its writhing black back the rope, bulging to a pregnant hemp inner tube, the face resurfaced. Its gurgling muddy apocalypse of a screamhole started vocalizing high decibel filth.
I knew i was not going to last for long, it was driving me to stifle it. I looked right; saw my no hand Angel, then to my no hand Djinn on the left and finally the humming Hobo behind me. My other hand was already missing and soon I feared, at wits end with the annoying Knotface, my other as well. I asked the Hobo , “how do you stand it?” He smiled with electric no happy, the light in his eyes long dim, and then he replied. “I like the sound of freedom, reminds me of my mind. It has been too long, and so it sounds offensive. It can never be stifled, you know, now that it is singing so beautifully. I have followed it since my mind began, have quested with fervor for this intricate excrutiation, allow me but to take this burden from you and save your hand and mind.“
He took the rope from my wrist, uninvited but welcomed, before my hand was lost, “You will need this: for shaking, for punching and signing; for balance, for holding, for striking and so I will leave you your intended desires.” Then he appropriately swallowed the rope and the voices merged. It was the song of perfect order wrapped in eternal burning chaos. It was a thick, sick melody – the pinnacle pitch of madness and lucidity melded. I wept with no choice. I wept for time when it flew past me in secluded short bursts and my questing questions ended in razed reason. The Angel and the Djinn seeing no need for hands simply grew more and departed, now the cord was so permanently unhinged from my soft pink arm.
The Street Urchin, no more than 30 years of age, kept singing as he departed. He took over the world.
I just stood there with one hand, blinking away now dying tears and was lost to my own stunned bewildered chains. On the ground I see the Lithium bottle, discarded and full, and a painter’s pallet with a picture of Bob Ross attached.
The Wandering Mad Hobo is in his new glow caverns foraging cans. Since lucidity is absent, his svelte black grottoes send fiery overtones that his mumblecanyon cannot. Perfect is bleak. Allure is rusted. Solitude is a diamond. And the singing never stops, even with his mouth shut it continues. He wondered how freedom had become so heavy. Rope regurgitation is not pleasant and doesn’t work. All time spent subterranean is the condo of some overzealous crooner, forgotten as throaty groans fade to blank walled repossession. Sinatra is broke now. Murmurs are falling out, raining brass on a glass box.
Nebula rotate in his pupils.
This Vagrant Voltaire, this chromatically bent bonebag, has his thumb to his spine and is shuffling, casts aspersions on the sulfur streams running asymmetrical that will not slake his thirst. Only the golden liquors of dead space and the fine wine of dilapidating time can satiate the parching expansion of mind and eye. There is so much distance in his cup. How will he finish his happy little painting?
Here where no eye may behold him, he sits at conceptual control – ready to push button or dial on the Computer that Controls the Universe – which he fondly thinks of (when he can think) as Lilly. This will be his gift to the whole Universe, this slick white construct, bought with the knowledge of 1,000 collapsing psyches and a million imploding stars. It has cost hands and storm clouds this Command Center of the Cosmos. A present of love to make it all make sense, a white to offset the rope and the guts that have disappeared from the swallowing.
Lilly, always whining in the broken cogs below his reason, at what point does the cosmos cry pardon to me? To what end does the mishandled isotope churn to supernova? For what promise heralded do i retire? She resonates. The shimmer around his soul dulling noticeably, he surrenders his flesh to microchip accidents. The cybernetic copulation, to appease the insecure machine, ends in soothing compliments no longer meant. The Psychotic Nomad plugs in to the limestone machine with its button nipples and its dial sighs, its crescendo readouts and climactic pulses, from here he will unmake existence.
In the back of his mind he thinks he smells aluminum and hears car horns – his hands feel like cardboard.
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