May 23, 2003

Driven to Poetry

Dominique de Villepin has finished an 800 page book on poetry, essays and poets: In Praise of Those Who Stole the Fire.

This eulogy owes nothing to artifice or chance. It has ripened inside me since childhood. From the bottom of my pockets, stuck to the back of my smock, hidden in the corner of abacuses, poetry gushed out, scribbled on scraps of paper, anxiety drove my mother to stick poems everywhere, in verse or prose, quatrains or alexandrines.

{Paging Dr. Freud.}

I'm driven to poetry:

Monsieur de Villepin
reads all the poetry he can
And though he got stomped on by Powell
He didn't write Howl

Posted by campbell at 11:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

House, er, Senate of Pain

"Truth Crushed To Earth Shall Rise Again" is also the title of a CD by the white LA rap group House of Pain.

I think Byrd would have done well to quote some of the lyrics on that album.

Here's Everlast going straight up against Robert Byrd's speaking style:

Ya know my style's butter
Cause every word I utter
Rock's the sky's from the gutter
I make ya shudder

You can't tell me Byrd's stuff is good as this.

OK, Everlast for Senate. Check it out (from different cuts on the album):

Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy
I got demons running through my slate
They like to creep when my thoughts get deep
Scheming, trying to find a place to fit in
And manifest itself in the form of a sin

Cause all that loud gun talk
Dont mean squat
If my tool gets hot
I'm a burst your knot
And give it all I got
Up in your wisdom slot

I be huntin down crews like Pacino in Heat
Puttin psychology in your biology
No scientology
Dianetic anesthetic

Here come the Don Dada
Makin' ghettos red hotter
I drop the boom bada
Like Jake LaMotta
I can single you out
And isolate you like Mato
I'm undefeated like Rocky Marciano
I hit you right below the belt
Now you singin' Soprano
Talk what ya talk
Still you dont know what I know

Greed lust envy sloth gluttony pride and wrath do the math
These seven deadly sins represent my jinn
You scheming on testing me kid where you been
I been told all my life I'm my only friend
There's a killer on the road money it's the end
And you might think that I'm a dummy
But while you're out at the spot I'm homes' chilling with your honey
Posted by campbell at 05:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bard of West Virginny

The Bard of the Holler, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginny, has let loose another golden shower of Rhetoric, including this bit of verse:

"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,—
    The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
    And dies among his worshippers."

The verse is from Battle-Field by William Cullen Bryant, poet, lawyer, abolitionist, editor of the New York Post.

He seems to have written it in December, 1863. There was some general unpleasantness going on in the United States at that time, that Byrd himself later fell upon the wrong side of.

(Although I suspect Bryant may have read the poem to Byrd personally at the time.)

Ah, but context is a demanding bitch — the stanza after goes:

Yea, though thou lie upon the dust,
    When they who helped thee flee in fear,
Die full of hope and manly trust,
    Like those who fell in battle here.

Personally I like (from another Bryant verse):

But 'neath yon crimson tree
    Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
    Her blush of maiden shame.

For more on Bryant:

For Bryant Park:

Posted by campbell at 05:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Pardon for Lenny Bruce?

There is a movement afoot to get Lenny Bruce's a pardon for his New York conviction.

Fueling the campaign is research done by Ronald K. L. Collins and David M. Skover, who wrote a book last year called "The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon" (Sourcebooks). The authors discovered, to their surprise, that the obscenity conviction still stood.
[Bruce's] supporters insist they are not retroactively applying today's more relaxed standards on language. "The Solomon decision indicates that even under the prevailing standards of the time, the Bruce conviction should never have taken place," Mr. Corn-Revere said. "The fact that the conviction remains on the books is an anomaly and a disgrace to the First Amendment."

In August of 1966, when Lenny Bruce died, I was working for the summer with my father at DuArt Film Labs on 55th Street.

There was a skilled maintenance worker there (one of the last of the classic "dese, dem, doze" Brooklynites) who could communicate a reasonably coherent sentence using little but variations on the word "F--k" — as a verb, adverb, adjective, noun in all its regular and irregular forms.

On the other hand, the Judge in Bruce's New York case claimed to have been in the Army for 4 years and never heard the word. That got as big a laugh in the court as anything Bruce said.

I got Lenny Bruce's album in 1968. It was definitely the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Pardon? He should get a formal apology.

(By the way, I'm not squeamish about the F word, just trying to keep from choking on the spam filters.)

For some more on Lenny, here's part of his FBI file:

Posted by campbell at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack