Saturday, June 4, 2016

Seine rising


The river is at its highest since 1982,
a year which is still drinking well as
one of the century's greatest vintages.
The treasures in the Louvre have moved
upstairs, the vigil isn't pessimistic.

André Kertész
Place de la Concorde
1928 {a great vintage}

Alfred Stieglitz
Spring showers

Italo Valenti
Les Touches

Friday, June 3, 2016

A choice of sides

  Nice to be reminded, now,
  waiting for water to boil,
  how with politics you get
  a choice of sides. Order
  a neo-Reaganite slab of
  fantasy, lapped in an up-
  dated sauce of nativism,
  or the blue-plate think-
  tank consensus special,
  of reheated manipulative
  presumption, and you get
  prostheses, subsidized
  interments, even decora-
  tions suitable for fram-
  ing. The choice may not
  be great, but you're al-
  lowed to allege, you're
  not to blame for lunch.


Ohm Phanphiroj

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A wine with legs

It was a Memorial Day weekend
in the US in the past few days.
If one has just happened upon
rmbl for the first time today,
or in a while, the sense of a
memorial is repeated from three
different views, beginning with
Friday's reluctances to revisit
the occasion, moving to Satur-
day's and Sunday's responses to
our intrusive politicians, in-
vading our retreats even to the
beach, before the price of the
holiday restores perspective.

But the weekend was inevitably packed with other considerations. I found myself re-reading a collection of the incomparable Maeve Brennan's Notes from the Long-Winded Lady, written for The New Yorker through most of my child-hood, where they were not so much off-limits as the escapist preserve of a literate woman who lived in another part of the house, my mother. An innocently excruciating aperçu in one of Ms. Brennan's Notes may stand for so much of that epoch and its mores that it has probably embedded itself here already ~ I would go to a city where the people spoke a language I did not understand, so I could listen as much as I liked and still not eavesdrop.

And one had to go mar-keting for groceries, not for any implication in the ingredients, but at least for congeniality in their rapport. There was vitally fresh chicken from a farm down the road, and gorgeously unfrozen domestic duck, to say nothing of rich, dry-aged ground beef.

People say, they want a wine with legs; yet here, I'm in a city where I speak the language, and the phrase has so little sensible meaning, the desire flies past me, once again. I hear it and I still don't eavesdrop. For myself, I found a second wine from Château Mazeyres, which flatters duck unspeakably.  

But I'd interrupted the Long-Winded Lady,
who writes with the uncanny gift for be-
ing with one all the way. In that Note,
she continues ~ It is so nice to be able
to listen to voices without being delayed
by what is being said. 

Maeve Brennan
The Long-Winded Lady
  Notes from The New Yorker
  "The Traveler"
Houghton Mifflin, 1998©

Claude Monet
Promenade near to Argenteuil
Musée Marmottan

Monday, May 30, 2016

Like nothing

     . .
     To pluck at a poppy and sew on a petal
     And count the long night by the stroke of their hearts.

Louis Simpson
The Heroes
Jon Stallworthy
The New Oxford Book
  of War Poetry
Oxford University Press, 2014©

Little Donny Thump-Thump

It's been a darling weekend for 
our pulp-fed Fauntleroy of the
fascisti, minting thugs in his
image. It began with nativism in
lower California against a judge
for releasing sealed documents
in one of the lawsuits against
his hilarious, defunct diploma
mill, in compliance with a FoIA
pleading from The Washington
Post. Then it was on to biker
heaven, the Rolling Thunder 
ritual in Washington, to boast
how he'd polish our virility,
making us so tired of winning.

Lissen up, now, people ~ as only
the inimitable Gail Collins may
say - we have a Rosetta Stone of
the man's entire universe, saved
in a single super-secret volume 
on his boyhood's sticky syllabus.

What distinction may we draw, 
to begin, between the child's
festival with his genitals and
his morbid grasp of maturity?
We wrack our brain to fathom a
farthing's worth of difference,
unless it is a telling anxiety,
from the contempt for the cuck-
old to the fixation for the bim-
bo, from fantasies of the nym-
phomaniac to the eroticisation
of the gun - and all, may we ob-
serve, "for men," a stature he
plays with furious resentment.

Have you received one of his Rol-
ling Thunder tweets on the per-
sistence of the Murder Caverns,
slanty slopes seducing dopes in
our very own organs of gov? 
At what hour did he emit it -
please check? We need to dia- 
gram its proximity to his Play-
ing Doctor tweets, which tend to
herald his longest showers. Even
then, who can know the throes
tormenting him, on Flight 17,
nubility distending him, fu-
tility upending him, soon to 
fly as spittle from the brit-
tle little griddle of his mind?

Alexander Calder
Color lithograph
  on paper
Los Angeles County
  Museum of Art

Earl Norem
Pulp Cover Art
Action for Men
July, 1967

Sunday, May 29, 2016


  It is easy to be
  beautiful; it is
  difficult to ap-
  pear so..

  It's like a fi-
  nal chapter no
  one reads be-
  cause the plot
  is over.

It's only afternoon,
there's a lot ahead.
There won't be any
mail downstairs.
Turning, I spit in
the lock and the
knob turns.

Frank O'Hara
Meditations in an
June 25, 1954
November, 1954
Donald Allen

Joel Meyerowitz

We go home now iv

Getting through California on the way
to political stardom costs, in the es-
timation of the State's junior Senator,
four million a week, minimum. How times
have changed, since the Senator rented
offices on Polk Street, for less than an
hour per month of that price. But Calif-
ornia is not just a price, it's a green
card to inhabit the public consciousness.

Shall we let her get away with it, is
now the occupation of the mind of the
Bear Republic. It is a tribute to her
magnificence, that her name is super-
fluous; and to her ambition, that the
Bear is so bemused. Californians hold
no such ambition, to arbitrate fates;
they live for the pleasure of carrying
out their lives with the least distaste.
The only difference is, they are many.

The preposterous certainty, now, that the Republican Party will present an inconceivable candidate for the Presidency, has naturally excited the liveliest aspiration to justify her candidacy for that Office in his place. If it would not be good for the United States, could it be justified on any grounds other than the possibly greater menace presented by this Republican?

I have not discovered such a justification, and I continue to believe that the Democratic Party, which has failed flagrantly to administer a plausibly fair contest for the nomination - fair to candidates, to Democrats, to those who would be Democrats, much less to the dignity of the offices being sought - might be awakened by a revulsion gathering daily more vertiginously toward her candidacy. I can't conclude, preemptively, that the Party will intentionally deprive itself of a candidate acceptable by these standards, on the grounds of having no choice. On the other hand, the other Party has done so, and by buying up its own remorseless souls.

In explaining her now officially condemned compulsion to conceal the sound and substance of her official conduct from lawful requirements of this nation, her adherents explain this is simply an honest self-protection in a world of personal enemies. It may be, but it is certainly an insupportable risk to security, a revolting affront to history, and a flouting of laws compelling accountability, which disqualifies anyone from holding office. In explaining that this was "permitted," she has simply been lying. It is true, lying is to be expected; but staggering cowardice as a defense to disclosure, is not "permitted." Staggering cowardice as a mode of conducting debate, campaigning for office, addressing the public and responding to a free press, unrelieved by any excuse but that people don't like one, is the classically cyclical abyss drilled for us by Richard Nixon. In lieu of blaming a hurling of kitchen sinks against him, he merely scolded that he'd been "kicked around," a distinction of stereotypes, in a common exculpation.

We have only slightly discussed her simultaneous operation of two Departments of State from a single official sinecure, one for the United States and one for the family Foundation. We have not addressed her cultivation of massive capital transfers to the one, during her administration of the other; we have not addressed obligations and moral hazards elevated outside of American foreign policy, irreconcilably with that policy, to fatten her speaking fees, her trustee fees, accelerate her family's enrichment, and market her fund for "good works" -- and all upon a database concealed from the government of the United States. We are, however, allowed to marvel, how "permitted" this was. Even Andrew Mellon, Treasury Secretary for several terms, never pretended to be guarding the hen-house. He merely raided it the old-fashioned way.

We have not addressed her signature mix of term-paper flurries of policy prescriptions and somnolent complacency, until chided by Progressivism. They leave intact the irrelevance of her commitment to any policy, which is now generally understood as the fluctuating tidepool that it is; and apart from her fondness for war, her prejudice against neutrality, her attachment to dictators on her family's guest list, there is little to mark her as less appealing than any political figure who's built a career on ill-chosen contemporaries and illusions that have expired. We don't elect Presidents to judge character, only to possess it; we don't ask them to be visionaries, only to be current. Possibly she will catch up, for California. But she is slow, to part with her cheat sheets.

She still hasn't advanced a single vision of what to expect of her - "fighting," for what it's worth from her, aside -- apart from resplendent seniority as an observer of the Executive, as if to say, a seasoned voyeur might make a lover. Can we name a thing that she wants to do? We know, she wants to be seen to be able, as if applying for admission to grad school; and, to do what, but - well - to do "the work." How infinitely naïve this spelling-bee assessment of the Presidency is, we have Michael Dukakis to remind us.

She has now revoked her promise to debate her only rival in the race. Her inherent polling advantage has disappeared, although her control of the Party certainly has not. Like chickens with their necks to be wrung, was how Governor Scranton put it at the Cow Palace, in 1964. An absolute caravan of Canterbury Tale-spinning pundits stands ready to cover her trackless flight from exposure with petals of pragmatism -- "hasn't she already won, hasn't she already been gracious enough?" She has just lost one's adopted State, Virginia, by ensnaring a decent Governor in the conflicts of interest of her Foundation. California is more expensive. Cui bono? 

v  Wynn Bullock
    Point Lobos, 1951
    High Museum of Art