Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Suwannee -- And Guess Who Is Still A Big Fat Turd?

CRPS is nothing if not weird.  I was hoping to catch some of that weirdness on video, thinking that it might help someone who is undiagnosed, or newly diagnosed, to get a glimpse of the possible "visuals" that go along with the syndrome/disorder/disease/krap.

It didn't show up as I was hoping it would, of course!

I wanted to capture something I've never seen or experienced before -- mostly because I think it's *impossible*.  My left wrist began burning and stinging, which is not, by itself, unusual.  What is unusual is that there is a space between my normal finger and upper palm involvement and the wrist area that's acting up.  Visually, that painless space in the palm of my left hand is white, with red at each of its ends.  There is documented nerve damage that follows the distribution of the ulnar nerve from little and ring finger (and half of the middle one) across the palm and partly up the forearm.  Well, okay, it deviates from the traditional, boring, established dermatome for the ulnar nerve in that it crosses the palm and goes up the opposite side of the arm. 

The wrist area is also swollen.

[I apologize, but along with often being unable to distinguish right from left, I've never been able to ably use helpful words like proximal and distal...]

Anywho... it's gone now -- the white space between two reddish-purple ones -- and I am back to what looks like a straight line, and what feels like an angled kind of pattern.

On the right, things are following the party line.  Extreme pain up to the elbow, extreme sensitivity to a point mere millimeters beyond that.  Sausage fingers and a line that looks almost drawn by a ruler below the knuckles, straight across, identical in length to the one on the left.  (The mirror effect of CRPS can be mind-boggling.  I have a DENT in both legs -- permanent DENTS -- that appeared several years apart and that are identical in appearance, placement.   Spooky.  In the old days, when people like Dr. Jose Ochoa, The Turd, evaluated people, he and his Trainee Court Monkeys decided that patients were deliberately binding their legs to achieve that lovely dented effect.  Yes, sigh, I will take a quick vid of it.  Warning -- it's ugly.  I'm ugly, by extension.  I miss my clothes, my legs, my figure, my unmarred face;  I MISS SHOES!  Especially red Italian shoes.)

Hmmm?  What?  Oh, right!  The dents ("fascinating!") are now memorialized below, in the bottom vid.  Blow in my ear, call me DimpleShin, and I'll follow you anywhere... 

Vic over at NeuroTalk wrote his assessment of Ochoa this way back in 2006:

Just a quick note:

Dr Jose Ochoa was once a highly respected writer and researcher who focused his work almost entirely on RSD. Then one day he saw the light: RSD is not a neurological disorder; try as he might, he was never going to be able to prove the unproveable.

Actually, the light he saw was a dollar sign. He was getting older and it was time to think of his golden years. He figured out that he could make a lot more money working for work comp lawyers and descredtiting RSD than by trying to prove it is something he knows it isn't.

He did the work. He was, and is, familiar with those who are still trying to prove RSD is what it isn't. He can go into a court room and advise work comp lawyers which questions they should ask, and he can testify knowledgeably about this disease.

By the time he and the lawyers are finished, they have made the doc testifying for the RSD patient look like either an idiot or a liar. It's easy, one simple question will do the job, it is the same thing I have challenged Forum members with for five years:

"Doctor, you say this is a neurological disorder. Can you provide this court with one example of scientific research - not an opinion you want us to believe - that even suggests that there is evidence of nerve damage in the etiology of RSD?"

He may try to duck and weave. He may try to tell the jury that nerve dysfunction is obvious in RSD. But in the end, he will have to answer that question. He will have to say; "No, there is no research showing that any nerve injury has ever been shown to cause RSD".

By the time they have reworded that question in a dozen different ways, and the doctor has had to admit a dozen different times that even though "everyone knows" RSD is caused by a nerve injury, no one can prove it. No one can even prove it is possible.

The doctor's credibility has been completely destroyed. The record has been filled with uncontradicted testimony that RSD isn't what the experts say it is. They haven't proved RSD isn't real; they didn't have to. Dr Ochoa is ready to testify that he studied RSD for years and in his expert opinion patients are either psychologically unbalanced or just plain liars.

By the end of the hearing, the RSD patient is sitting there in total shock. He or she has just seen any chance for compensation or treatment blown out of the water. She/he has just been described as a nutcase or a liar, and the expert as even worse. she/he is going to have to try to survive for the rest of his/her life disabled, in terrible pain, and without hope.

Is it any wonder that this this is called the "suicide disease"?

Do you Forum members who have been here or in other sites for very long ever ask yourself why any number of people suddenly stopped posting? There are names I still think about. Names that creep into my mind after I have turned the light out and prayed I would be able to sleep this time: Names and more names. Are they still alive? Did they turn out their light one night and then decide they could not face another morning?

I think about SamYamin. He wrote a goodbye post. Some concerned members started sharing bits of information and came up with enough to call the police. A few days after that goodbye post, Sam posted again: he thanked everyone for their concern and for saving his life, then told us he would be going into therapy and would not have access to the Internet for a while, but not to worry.

I didn't worry. I knew Sam had learned his lesson: Don't tell anyone. I knew Sam was dead.

I didn't pray for him anymore, you don't pray for the dead; you hope they knew Jesus and had asked Him to forgive their sins. If they did, there is no need for prayer, they are happier than I have ever been. If they did, I will meet them face to face in a little while.

And there is Andi; and Meg; and sunshine; and Heatherdawn. We rarely hear about those who committed suicide. RSD didn't kill them. They died of hopelessness. I miss them. We all do. And we all look at every detail; trying to find that one clue that should have alerted us. That something we should have seen; that if we had seen might have made the difference.

It won't do any good to say it; it hasn't helped me and it probably won't help you, but that clue probably wasn't there. If it was, it probably wouldn't have changed anything, nor will it be of much use the next time.

Hope is the last thing to go. Once it is gone, there is no reason to live. By the time we learn someone has lost all hope, it is too late. If we are to take any small bit of comfort from these tragedies, and it is too small to measure, it is that people who decide to die don't tell anyone. You tell someone while the hope is still dying, when you want someone to give you some reason to hope. Most of the time it works.

When I began this post I would never have suspected where it would lead. It went in an unexpected direction when I used the word suicide, and after rereading it, I see that if I can't understand why I wrote these words on this post, you probably can't either.

I delete a lot more than I post, and I would delete this; but something is stopping me. Something...something that outweighs the fear that some will think my words are out of line. That this isn't the right place or the right time.

I want to ignore that something, but I can't. All I can do is hope there is a reason that I don't understand now but may become evident later...Vic

A few months later, Vic added this to the thread:
Hi again,

I am usually a bit more organized, but what I wrote in my last post kinda threw me off stride: I didn't finish my comments about Ochoa, and there are still some things we all should know about this (I believe literal), butcher in a physicians lab coat. I still have to finish yet another post in which I'll present some views on the original topic.

About Ochoa: I don't know whether he is still malpracticing medicine, but if he is, forewarned is forearmed. I have some "abstracts" of "articles" he has written about RSD. They are actually more in the nature of advertisements aimed at insurance company lawyers: showing how well he can testify in their behalf.

If you live in Oregon and work comp orders you to see him for what in Kansas is called an "independent medical evaluation" (IME) [what it really means is intentional misrepresentation of evidence], I will be happy to provide your attorney with a critique of these abstracts.

Ochoa is knowledgeable and good with words, but like all liars his words expose the truth about him. What I wrote about his victims sitting shocked at the end of a hearing really happened to people I know, and I would enjoy doing my small part in preventing this from happening again, exposing his deceit, and paying the S.O.B. back for the damage he has done.

One of those abstracts describes a trip to the land of his birth: Chile. The problem is that this trip occured during the regime of Auguste Pinochet: the most brutal dictator in that country's history, and with the possible exception of "Papa Doc" Duvelier of Haiti, the most brutal dictator in the history of the Western Hemisphere since Spain left the area. He was a nasty man, responsible for the torture and murders of thousands of Chileans whose only offense was belonging to the wrong political party.

(Pinochet came to power with the help of our CIA; overthrowing a democratically elected president "we" (the CIA) didn't like, then murdering him).

Anyway, Ochoa went to Chile. Upon his return, he wrote about his experiences in a hospital ward full of RSD patients. He wrote that during the day, all of them exhibited extreme motor dysfunctions (jerking, falling, etc), but he suspected something was amiss: that these patients might be faking their symptoms.

He described secretly having video cameras installed; lo and behold! In the evenings, after the staff went home, the motor deficits vanished. They all walked around, talked, etc, and no one appeared to be in distress.

There are a few things wrong with this picture. Chile was and is a very poor country, where hospital beds are reserved for the rich, not the needy. Also, it would be difficult to find a large enough group of RSD patients in most cities in this country to fill a ward: Chile is probably no different.

Then there is the fact that RSD patients here are rarely (if ever) hospitalized for movement disorders or anything else related to RSD in this country; a land filled with beds and insured patients.

And Chile doesn't have any worker's compensation laws, so why would people fake a medical disorder? OK, some hospital beds in Chile probably had sheets, which I know are more comfortable than straw mats. But there are other disorders/diseases/syndromes/whatever that don't require as much effort to fake as RSD.

By the way, in this country, staff don't go home for the night leaving patients unattended; they are relieved by other staff. Oh, well, they may do things different it Chile. In fact, you can be damn sure they did things different in Chile.

Ochoa, however, is an expert in RSD and he found RSD patients. Is all this coincidence? Or could it be that he made it all up? That he lied.

Mike can correct me on this, but I suspect that any attorney with two brain cells to rub together would fight like Hell to introduce this abstract and then ask some rather cogent questions of the bad doctor....

I can't prove it, of course, but I would be willing to bet this shiny new computer my son gave me against a bucket of pig **** that none of the "patient's" he saw had RSD.

Like I said, he is knowledgeable and good with words, but someone who understands RSD would be able to blow him out of the water for a change....

Blowing Ochoa out of the water is not my purpose in life. If given the opportunity, I think it would be better called a necessay but extremely rewarding and pleasant diversion. We need to enjoy life's little pleasures wherever and whenever they appear...Vic

In the small area under his avatar, Vicc's status is now listed as "In Remembrance."  That's too bad, because I think we might have hit it off.  Pinochet held a coveted position on this death penalty abolitionist's List Of People Needing Extrajudicial Execution.

Due to a recent rise in moral ambiguities, The List is now nonfunctional and out of circulation -- but you can still get a bumpersticker...

Anyway, dunno what happened to Vicc but enjoyed his attempts to teach people of the futility in following the "sympathetic nervous system" bullcrap to its illogical conclusions and to offer in its stead a unifying theory -- that CRPS is all about Ischemia-reperfusion injury. Unfortunately, one can say the same thing about *that* that one can say about the SNS Party Line:  It is about IRI, except and unless when it isn't...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Brother-Units: Pro or Con?

What a silly title!

I am peeved at both of my full-blooded Brother-Units, something that's rare and usually built up over time.  When I had but seven or eight years under my belt, they used to do things like begin a rousing game of Hide-and-Seek, and then leave -- one off to play baseball, the other perhaps to steal a car.  I was good for at least an hour of unrequited hiding -- probably longer, in truth, because I loved and trusted my big brothers.

My first memory?  The two of them on the floor with me -- I'm not sure where, what country -- and me with saggy diapers.  I remember the saggy diapers clearly, as they distressed me, and troubled my sense of fashion decorum.  They had a paper cup-- I remember a pattern in orange and white, I remember its coat of wax -- and were calling me, urging me on, telling me to sniff the cup's contents.  I loved and trusted my big brothers, and dutifully took a deep whiff of the ammonia, which left them rolling around, hooting, guffawing, and -- probably -- farting.  The memory ends with my present-day eyes stinging and watering, as much the result of that long ago prank as the deleterious effects of my glaucoma drops.

My next memory -- well, it's short and they're not in it.  I was in Turkey, seated on the curb in front of our apartment building, and I was engaged in eating gravel from the gutter.  I looked to my left and saw the departing end of a donkey.  I looked to my right and saw a large tortoise -- well, maybe it wasn't so large, as a quick bit of research tells me it was probably a spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera), which is not one of your bigger tortoises.  There were people, too, I am sure, but I don't remember them -- just the flavorful crunch of gravel recently flavored by a passing turtle and an ass.

Okay... fast-forwarding... still in Turkey.  We'd been left by a Mother lacking the least bit of  maternal instinct.  It was something like the third day that the three of us had been on our own.  She wasn't so lame as to have left us unsupervised -- No, we had Ali, a neighborhood teenager who was serving as our babysitter.  We were out of food and about out of sorts, so Ali had appealed to a neighbor woman, who very much enjoyed feeding us and then contacting our clueless Father, letting him know where our family sedan was parked, and had been parked for several days.  (There is nothing like learning that your wife is cheating on you with her gynecologist and has abandoned her three children when you return early from a trip in order to surprise her -- and your daughter -- on their birthday!)

So... before the memory of being under the dining room table crying at the sound of raised angry voices and shattering dinner plates, there was the memory of Playing Chicken -- Ali and I against my Brother-Units.  I was way-y-y tall on top of Ali's shoulders.  Brother-Unit Grader Boob was years away from achieving 6' 4" and Brother-Unit Tumbleweed has always been, well, short.

I suppose those were our last moments of innocence -- me, with my eyes closed, giving them hell by swishing my arms around in the fashion of a girly windmill; they, just boys, somehow trying to give it to Ali without doing serious damage to the blinded whirligig on his shoulders.  It was noisy, we knocked stuff over, it was fun. 

Gold damask bolsters with tassels.  (Is that possible?)

Stupid gossip of a neighbor. 

Somewhere in all that is the origin of my ambivalence about birthdays and mothers.  I was her "29th birthday present," mostly due to a hit of pitocin.  And then, bam! our collective birthday also commemorated the discovery of her wanton whoring (What do you think?  Too strong?  Just right?  I live for le mot juste.)...

Other Brother-Unit memories?  Grader Boob telling me my pet miniature turtle looked a little pale and needed to be put out into the hot summer sun.  That's right, baked turtle.  But it allowed for the fun of a hot summer funeral.  I am told that I kept digging that turtle up to see what was happening to him.

Then there were the Various Teachings.  Like How To Ride A Bicycle Without Training Wheels.  The boys had been requested by the Father Unit to please take my bike riding training in hand.  He gave them permission to remove my training wheels when it seemed I no longer needed them.  They didn't hear the end of that sentence, apparently.  He left on yet another trip -- but, wise man that he was, now left no wanton whore of a wife behind.  He was barely out of sight when off came the training wheels and I was plopped onto my bike, walked out to the pavement, and then -- knees pumping, knees pumping -- pushed to top speed... and released!  I'd never even accomplished the length of our driveway alone, never built up enough speed to have to apply brakes.  I'd never used the brakes!  This fact didn't dawn on anyone in sufficient time to stop my close encounter with, first, the big blue official mailbox, and, second, the light pole, the trusty anchors and landmarks at the end of our block.

Brakes?  We don't need no stinking brakes...

It's apocryphal, and probably revisionary, too, but word is that I also lost a tooth in that training run -- and that the Brother-Units got to play Tooth Fairy after bandaging me up.

In other injurious episodes -- one of them threw a dart into my upper arm.  I caused the accident by coming around the end of a fence while they were having target practice.

Just as I caused the Louisville Slugger, a nice bit of ash, to connect with the back of my head as Grader Boob took a healthy psych-out warm-up swing.  I had a neurologist who thought that particular loss of consciousness might have been a factor in my subsequent development of epilepsy, but we've not shared that tidbit with GB -- who was mortified at the time and would be more than mortified now. 

A shame, because if ever there was ammunition for emotional blackmail, getting knocked out by your brother's macho swing of a baseball bat... and then developing a freaking disease -- well!  But no, we don't do that.  Our reticence probably can be traced to the shenanigans of our Mother, the Wanton Whore.

I have a great deal more stories about Grader Boob than about Tumbleweed, of course, because Tumbleweed departed our family for healthier social units, and for girls and marijuana, too, I suppose.  He was a frequent and determined runaway who didn't, of course, really want to run away. 

I've told that story before and don't feel like telling it again. 

I started this blog entry with the intent of digging these boys out of the holes they've dug themselves -- for they've reverted to the Bad Old Ways, it seems, of keeping quiet when they should be talking, of bottling up that which is corrosive and without value.  They're not talking to me.  Not as in... I did something and they're mad and therefore we don't speak.  No.  More like, communicating makes me nervous, makes me vulnerable (sorry -- vulnerable is about as bad as artisinal), so I'll just go to ground...

I started this blog entry with the additional intent of scoping out birthday present options for Tumbleweed's upcoming Big Day on April 20.  If you think that's kind of silly, it's just a birthday, just a stupid present, and so on, well, then, you need to read the first post in a series on "gifts."  It's cleverly called The Gift and dates from December 19, 2009.

Yeah, somehow Tumbleweed is at the heart of so much.  Not his doing and certainly, clearly, not his preference.  He's lived, I think -- and my information is minimal and minimalist -- a good life and is a good man.  It's been pure self-deception for me to have spent so much time in my less well-lived life convincing myself that Tumbleweed was a survivor. (Survivor is about as bad as artisinal and vulnerable.)  Tumbleweed, my friends, is and always was... just fine.

Arriving at "fine" is not a bad result for me here at the end of a Friday blogging segment -- but it's probably one more hell of a blur for you, Faithful Reader.  So I dug up Tumbleweed's first substantial entry into the lectionary here at elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle.  It was called Split Infinitives and was published January 25, 2009:

Yesterday was my mother's birthday, and mine. Once upon a time, I was her 29th birthday present, even if I was induced and hastened with pitocin. She has great stories about my birth and my brother Grader Boob's arrival -- but I've never heard a peep about my eldest brother's début, the child she so adored. He no longer uses his given names. He asks to be known as TW, for Tumbleweed.

I will have to find the cover to Dylan's Nashville Skyline, because there is a moment, truly frozen in time, when he adopted that same stance, guitar slung over his shoulder, hat tipped back, gunny sack at his feet. He stood next to a basketball goal we had at the end of our driveway and was looking out toward me and Grader Boob -- we were playing softball in the back yard.

I just happened to turn and look. I was too young and stupid to understand what I saw. But I did *see* him. He was old, so young, and sad, so sad. He had traveled cross country in one of his attempts to find our mother, to draw her to him in his need. He would go to her parents' home, hoping she would come back to the States for him. But she was busy with Litter Number Two and her new husband -- a lovely man that I wish TW had met. Necip would have been very kind to him, would have given him the world. Necip died a few years ago. He was a wonderful person. He would have wrapped TW in love and safety, as he tried to do for me. As he *did* for me!

The forever mystery is: What happened to all of her adoration? There are missing passages to the story that it seems I will never know. When I reunited with her, she was shocked to learn that TW was not with us, that he had been gone for many years. She broke at the news. It seemed to deepen her love for him -- he was all she could think about, all she would speak of. Yet, when I found out he was alive through a moment of indiscretion on the part of my half-sister, it was made clear to me that she wanted nothing to do with him. What happened?

You are probably rolling your eyes and thinking "Why not just ask?" I don't know the answer to that; I don't know why I cannot just ask.

As Nancy, the aunt, noted a few weeks back, what in the world does TW, the Elder, have to apologize for? His mother left him, his father never searched for him when he ran away from home -- in fact, his father took the family and left the country! He told me and Grader Boob that TW would be joining us in three months. Three months came, three months went.

I will never forget the confrontation -- Grader Boob, in the midst of the growth spurt that would eventually make him 6'4", in front of the Father, who sneeringly attested that he had no idea where TW was -- and the fist, rising, rising. It's imprinted in my brain, burned into the grey matter, dancing along neural pathways.

I cannot escape my own guilt. I searched for him -- for years -- but did not find him. Yet, when I was told where he was, he wasn't hiding. I don't understand why my efforts failed. I *did* make contact with someone who knew him -- my first semester of grad school at UC-B -- but it never went further than this person who responded to one of my ads. If TW was hiding, he hid out in the open.

[That was a long and nervous week, that week of fielding this woman's phone calls in response to one of my newspaper ads. She definitely knew him, said he was in Oregon "overseeing some property," and that she would have him call me in the next few days. I canceled all my classes, skipped my own seminars, took the phone off the hook whenever I had to run to the bathroom. I prayed and prayed, I was so sure that this was it -- that I had found him.]

TW had me tell Grader Boob that he was so sorry, that he wished things had turned out differently, that if ever he wanted to talk, he would be there, ready. Hear the echo of Nancy's rage -- what does he have to apologize for? We all owe him a debt that is impossible to quantify, a debt that should be recognized and paid down, crime by crime. I owe him. And if Grader Boob would get his head out of his ass, he would see that TW did what he had to do, and extend him the graciousness and understanding he deserves. Again, I just don't understand. Grader Boob is the sweetest person in the world -- but hard as a rock in these instances. Why? [I *have* asked! The answer is a terse "he could have found us anytime." Maybe, maybe not -- and might he not also have been somewhat deterred by past experiences with the family unit?]

TW was homeless and eating out of garbage cans when he was 15 years old. He sent a love letter to his mother, far away then, in Ankara, saying "come to me and I will make you beautiful with mine eyes." (Okay, so he was well read.) He lived in the drug culture, was shot, fathered a child with a porn actress, a child that he really doesn't know (but I heard his pride through the telephone line), living with her mother now in Bangkok. Somewhere in there, he found himself, fell in love with the Grand Canyon, knew it intimately, and became an expedition guide. "In order to feed the cats," he works as a bookie. When we found each other, late in 2007, he had broken his shoulder after falling on an icy sidewalk, and lost (or quit, I am not sure which) his job in Vegas. He painted houses in Lake Tahoe over the summer, and recently was part of a start up betting operation... but has been "replaced." He hints that he is ill but will not tell me anything specific. He is extraordinarily kind, dedicated to what he believes is right, and funny as hell. We were talking about the health history of the people to whom we are related, because his daughter had some questions about the prevalence of breast cancer and diabetes, and I asked him, "How are your eyes?" -- because our grandfather went blind from glaucoma, which I also have. Without missing a beat, TW answered: "My eyes? Small, dark, and suspiciously beady."

My brother Grader Boob was born in a London cab. TW, age 4, was in the back seat with her and when they arrived at the hospital, he attempted to commandeer the taxi, refusing to let anyone out until the new addition was adequately explained. "He was not here when we got in the car..." is how his spotless logic worked.

But nary a word about TW's birth. "I know he was born, because -- after all these years of studied neglect -- he is still here" is how my spotless logic goes.

Somehow the accretions of the past year or so made celebrating my birthday impossible. No, that is not true. Not impossible. More like obscene. I was in a great deal of pain, to the point where making it to the bathroom and washing up was almost too much. It hurt so bad that I couldn't find sleep until 4 am this morning, and then was up again at 6 am -- but happier, because my birth day had passed. My shoulder feels close to exploding, but I forced myself to clean the house -- a clean start to this new age of mine. I needed to do something nice for The Fredster, who was so understanding of my depression yesterday.

The mother had her daughter email me, belatedly, with the familiar message that she would get "something in the mail to me tomorrow." I so wanted to respond "don't bother."

But I want her to bother. I want her to very much bother.

I want to split her infinitives.

my kingdom for an excuse...

help!  fred wants to spend friday afternoon "together."

watching a movie.


The Rolling Stone Review:

Machete: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal,
Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis

By Peter Travers
September 1, 2010

This unholy mess replaces the artful ambition of The American with torture, blood spray, kinky sex, twisted fun and a bizarro critique of U.S. policy on illegal immigration. It's a digital gorefest that expands on the faux trailer Robert Rodriguez included in Grindhouse, the 2007 exploitation epic he unleashed with pal Quentin Tarantino. Rodriguez and co-director Ethan Maniquis revel in the glorious sight of Mexican-American actor Danny Trejo as Machete, a former federale out to kill a drug lord (a never-lumpier Steven Seagal) and assassinate a corrupt Texas senator (a never-hammier Robert De Niro). Trejo, 66, looks like four miles of torn-up road, but here he is convincingly kicking pretty-boy ass and bedding hotties such as Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and, omfg, Lindsay Lohan. Is he redeemed? Your senses will be too numb to care. Just to hear Trejo deadpan the line "Machete don't text" is tasty compensation.



someone?  anyone?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Attack of the Difficult Poems by Charles Bernstein

Attack of the Difficult Poems:  Essays and Inventions
by Charles Bernstein
University of Chicago Press, 2011

During April 2011, get 30% off ($18.20) if you order directly from the University of Chicago Press:
CLICK HERE to order.


I. Professing Poetics
The Difficult Poem
A Blow Is Like an Instrument: The Poetic Imaginary and Curricular Practices
Against National Poetry Month as Such
Invention Follies
Creative Wreading & Aesthetic Judgment
Wreading, Writing, Wresponding
Anything Goes
Our Americas: New Worlds Still in Progress
The Practice of Poetics

II. The Art of Immemorability
Every Which Way but Loose
The Art of Immemorability
Making Audio Visible: Poetry’s Coming Digital Presence
The Bound Listener
Hearing Voices
Objectivist Blues: Scoring Speech in Second Wave Modernist Poetry and Lyrics

III. The Fate of the Aesthetic
McGann Agonist
Poetry and/or the Sacred
The Art and Practice of the Ordinary
Electronic Pies in the Poetry Skies
Poetry Plastique: A Verbal Explosion in the Art Factory (with Jay Sanders)
Speed the Movie or Speed the Brand Name or Aren’t You the Kind That Tells
Breaking the Translation Curtain: The Homophonic Sublime
Fraud’s Phantoms: A Brief Yet Unreliable Account of Fighting Fraud with Fraud
Fulcrum Interview
Radical Jewish Culture / Secular Jewish Practice
Poetry Scene Investigation: A Conversation with Marjorie Perloff
Is Art Criticism Fifty Years Behind Poetry?
Poetry Bailout Will Restore Confidence of Readers

IV. Recantorium
Recantorium (a bachelor machine, after Duchamp after Kafka)

I love this review! -----> “I regret to inform you that Charles Bernstein’s Attack of the Difficult Poems is highly unsuitable (not suitable) for National Poetry Month. Not suitable for acceptance by the publications of the Modern Language Association or its affiliate, the Annual Convention. Not suitable for readers under the age of five. Not suitable for endorsement by the Paris Review. Not suitable for your average television sitcom. Not suitable for tenure. Not suitable for free distribution. Not suitable for variations in the ontological condition. Not suitable for readers of generic poetry. Not suitable for the MFA. For everyone else: priceless.” — Tan Lin

Lindsey Baum

Lindsey Baum disappeared during the Friday evening of 26 June 2009, as she made the short walk home from a friend's house in her hometown of McCleary, Washington.  

She is now 12 -- her birthday is in July (7/7/98).

It gets to me, the ages she has spanned while missing. We all remember the enormity of the changes to body and mind on the voyage from ten years old to twelve, almost thirteen.

Her appearance is surely quite altered. But there are things about the face that never change. Those eyes, that mouth, the smile.  Face shape, feature spacing and scale. Age-invariant characteristics. Forensic artists (and the software they use) factor in the ways a person has changed in the past, even as short a past as Lindsey's, and how relatives have aged, as well as extrapolations based on large amounts of data from the wider population.

It is reported that Lindsey has a scar over her left eye, a dark brown birthmark on her right wrist and colored fillings in some of her teeth.
But she's doubtless no longer 4'9" and not likely to still weigh 80 pounds.  Twelve to thirteen year old girls average 60-63 inches in height and 95-105 pounds in weight.  Of course, her numbers at age 10 were already higher in each category than the average.

Tipline: (866) 915-8299 Gray’s Harbor Sheriff’s Office)

Reward: $30,000

As far as news, there is little beyond today's report of another "pond and bushes" search: 
MCCLEARY, Wash. -- Police and FBI agents are conducting a training exercise, searching a pond and nearby bushes in the area where Lindsey Baum disappeared almost two years ago in the Grays Harbor County town of McCleary.

To read previous blog entries about Lindsey Baum, go HERE.

the smallest show on earth

This is my second week without Diet Cola.  My caffeine intake is now limited to two large mugs of coffee. Coffee is necessary for the maintenance of meaningful life.

Some days, I am even restricting myself to a single mug of the stuff.

This is only remarkable if you consider that the two-mug limit was a step down from my normal thermos of goodness. 

Fred and I drink different coffees, made at highly divergent strengths.  Then, too, I stop pretending to sleep around 4:30 am.  and Fred comes to bed anytime between 2 and 5 am.  As neither one of us can tolerate old or reheated coffee, it no longer makes sense to brew for one another.  I still do when he has to be rousted from our warm bed in order to drive me somewhere.  It just feels nice and couple-icious to call out "Would you like some coffee?" and to know just exactly how he takes it, right down to the correct teaspoon to use when measuring out his sugar (a spoon from two patterns ago).

More Spoon Weirdness:  This same spoon is one I use when eating yogurt.  For some reason, possibly its cheap formulation, the yogurt coats its back really nicely, enabling a prolonged and delicious lick...

Yeah, so... I switched to having the occasional Diet Root Beer -- a little over-the-top in Cloying Factor but cold and wet.  Without caffeine.

For years, I bought into the myth that caffeine would boost the impact of my pain medication.  What a crock.  Well, not entirely.  As a vasoconstrictor, it is very useful against the evil headache -- usually about 60 mg of caffeine in combination with acetaminophen, aspirin, etc.  In theory, caffeine blocks adenosine, enabling a greater hit of dopamine (and jingle-jangling epinephrine).  Whatever... for me, absent a headache, caffeine does not seem to help the performance of pain relievers.

Has my sleep improved?  One aspect of it, yes!  I am able now to catch up to 2-3 hours of snoozing in the early part of the day.  In other words, I can get up, take some pain medication, work for an hour or so, and then go back to bed and catch some Zzzzees.  Sad to say, the absence of Uncle Kitty Big Balls and Sam-I-Am is also a big part of this new opportunity, as they each were powerful advocates of humans not sleeping but instead tending to the state of their food bowls.  Sammy employed the Bounce Technique and was heartless in its application.  He was also adept at Book Destruction, knowing that the sound of ripping paper would wake me when The Bounce had failed.  UKBB, on the other hand, was a One-Trick Cat.  He had a raspy, distinctive, annoying voice.  He planted his considerable girth near my left shoulder, fixed me in his mournful gaze, and let loose a barrage of "feed-me-feed-me" meows from his phlegmy voice box, a sound akin to that produced by the handheld electrolarynx.

Electorlarynx user Roger demonstrates New TruTone Electrolarynx. Uploaded
from GriffinLaboratories's Channel

Without UKBB's electronics and Sam-I-Am's book destruction and body bruising, without so much caffeine raging through my system, I have achieved better and longer sleep, at least at the tail end of the nightly effort.  Falling asleep still occasions frequent tears.  My legs simply won't give me a freaking break and the moment of relaxing into the bed, which ought to be an "ahhh" experience?   Well, it isn't.  Crying about it is a relatively new response that my stern Id is not supporting, but even so, I have begun to wail and rale against the unfairness of it all -- for roughly 90 seconds and then Marmy usually appears, ghostly in the darkness, framed against the light of the doorway, chirping chirping chirping. This schizoid chick-impersonating cat is a sweet witch at night, and chirps at me until I fall asleep. Waking with her hot, long hair on my neck 40 minutes later is almost worth it. As I shoo her away and begin the process of pulling her fur out of my eyes, nose, and mouth (sometimes even an ear... what happens during that 40 minutes is something of a delicate mystery), her chirping transforms into the more familial representative *Ack*-*Ack* of Annoyance.

I have done a review of systems several times daily, checking for improvement in pain levels, in edema, in temp, even. There has been no postive result as yet from the ketamine treatments.

Tuesday, I went into the pain institute and had a "review" of the process. The party line was that my lack of response meant that further infusions were pointless.

Thank God, La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore decided to come with us that day. I sat there, crushed, fumbling for words to try and change their minds... but La Castafiore did an amazing impersonation of Picard's "Make it so!" -- and so they did, agreeing to another round of three treatments at higher doses. Because of the increase in strength, there will be a 10-day interval between infusions.

So... Ketamine Infusion Number Four at 125 mg will take place this coming Monday. They were able to schedule me an hour earlier which probably will help with the rush hour traffic we have had to fight on the way home. If the last treatment is any indication, I am in for some temporary unpleasantness but am fervently petitioning God, gods, and the universe in general for an inspiring result, some significant pain relief that will tell us whether this is worth continuing.

In what was a touching but really silly moment, the Ketamine Guru's PA decided to promise me that if the ketamine endeavor proves a complete crap-out, "[they] will find *something* to give [me] some relief, [we] promise!"

Shades of my former cardiologist promising me I would never die while under his care. Where do these people come up with this absurd hubris?

Anyway, she was a very nice, well-intentioned woman, and her "promise" already had the tiny little itty bitty Flea Circus cheerleaders twirling and spinning on the head of a pin, hitting all the expected notes -- Prialt, Fentanyl ("to get you off of Methadone!"???), Butrans...

Oops, I gotta go... I just got an urgent email from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

*WARNING* The following video may cause serious itching and scratching...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stymied by Ducks

Curiosity demands that I ask. 

Normally, this blog's major attraction, in terms of searches, is the photo of the bloody water in Taiji, from the senseless dolphin slaughter.  The photograph is not, of course, mine -- nonetheless, I get a rich number of hits from people looking for it here at elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle.

After the Taiji photo, the object of visitors' ranking searches varies, but usually includes CRPS issues, and some aspects of recent postings.

When there is a surge of interest in something, usually a quick assessment of world news will account for it -- photos of the UConn women's b-ball team, mockery of Muammar Gaddafi, health care reform legislation, and so on.

Rarely, I'm stymied by the popularity of a specific post among searchers.

For example, starting yesterday at mid-morning, the new and surprising leader among post page views is... Anatidaephobia.

In itself, not that fascinating a development.

But add to that the fact that ALL of these searches originate from different computers in Colombia... and I'm hooked by the delight of a mystery!  So if anyone knows of a possible reason for the good folks in Bogota,  Medellìn,  Antioquia -- and four other originating cities in Colombia -- to have developed a sudden fascination with the psychology behind the pervasive fear of being watched by ducks, please let me in on it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Saltwater Shallows

It was certainly a Monday!

I continued, despite the best of intentions, to be the KillJoy of Marlinspike Hall, dragging down any and every one close enough to share air. 

These were my frustrations: 

1.  I could not take a shower and began obsessing about how wonderful a shower would feel and how long it had been since I enjoyed one -- one week, exactly.  In the interim, I wash, don't worry, and I wash several times a day.  I smell marvelous.  I might even squeak were you to rub my dessicated skin together.  But I cannot get up the nerve to navigate on these bum legs right now.  And so on, and so forth. 

2.  I have no privacy.  That's really not a problem.  Were I to politely explain to the parties in question that I wanted some privacy, I would politely be granted privacy.  It's that "politely" part that poses the problem.  I fume about it, waiting for people to realize that they are using me and my environs as a gathering point, without asking --
     a.  if they may,
     b.  if that's okay-by-me, which is the same thing as "if they may," and
     c.  whether I might need to get some sleep, or have some quiet, or read a book, or lounge about nekkid, which is all the same as "if they may," and "if that's okay-by-me," too and also.

3.  I am being outmaneouvered by physical and mental pain, and am demonstrating little skill at adapting, coping, or changing according to circumstances.

4.  The state of the world. 

5.  The Drug House down the road (just past the Cistercians, on the left).  It's a nondescript little Renaissance villa with small attached farming compounds, achoo, sneeze, if you get my drift.  Were it just a matter of growing some weed, we'd hardly care and might even underwrite the endeavor, but no-o-o, they are into the nasty stuff.  That's right:  nutmeg. [Kids!  Just because Malcolm X and William Burroughs did it doesn't make it right.  If one of them shot one of his wives in the head, would you, too?]

Nutmeg illustration by Herman Eggleling, published in
The Encyclopedia of Food by Artemus Ward, 1923.
Plus, they pipe in digital drug music from the villa to the faux-rustic outbuildings, putting their dairy cows and hens into deep otherworldly trances, and God only knows what that does to the milk. And the eggs.  Some of that so-called music "will purportedly bring about the same effects of marijuana, cocaine, opium and peyote," according to the experts in the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, which is among our favorite bureaus of narcotics, state-side.  We worry about the young monks who may fall under the influence of their druggie neighbors, as The Monastery rents space from them to house some goats, turkeys, and a few swayback horses. While The Brethren may claim to be listening to The Best of the Psalms on their MP3 players, we know better.

6. The characterization of a kid who has signed on to play b-ball at Duke as "another slow, ugly, white player with gay hair..."

7. Joe Lieberman. Just because.

On the positive side of things, my eye pressures are down to normal levels -- both were 18 today! The doctor denies, though, that the new drops are the culprits behind my high blood pressure, despite that being the only medication change of any sort, despite my usual readings being in the 90/60 range. My Go-To-MDVIP Guy was sure EyeGuy would be willing to switch to another drop, but EyeGuy is something of a dolt and claims "there are no other drops that we haven't tried... it's either the timolol or surgery." Stick in the mud. So we will soldier on, adding a blood pressure medication to the ungodly mix, and putting up with the substantial other side effects of all these drops. Because **18** rocks! If they want to fight it out between them, they can do that. I am just happy that after all these appointments, I now don't have to go back for 3 months.

Tomorrow is the Big Conference with the Head Ketamine Dude. I'm hoping he'll have some encouragement for me, and will be willing to keep trying. He has already proposed intrathecal ziconotide (Prialt) treatment to me -- yes, synthetic sea snail venom -- that of the Conus magus of tropical saltwater shallows fame, to be precise. [It is not likely that I will follow his advice, as there are rumors of the drug causing suicidality in people with a history of depression, and that, my friends, would be me...]

Still, I could use it to stun my prey...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Often I Am Permitted

I love USAmerican poetics, and many of its practitioners. That was probably the real gift of my education at UC-Berkeley, the Bay Area being one of the greatest spots in the world for (free) readings and a heavy concentration of writers -- on the street, in the metro, at favorite cafés, that one with small round marble-topped tables -- bring a cardigan -- and the one with the inherited dark woods and tippy legs -- at the twilight, run next door, bring back fish and chips in newspaper. Malt vinegar.

The Castro, the West Oakland Senior Center, the Mission's murals and taquerias, creepy Japantown, Jack Kerouac Alley and City Lights.

Wheeler, Dwinelle. 94720.

Josephine Miles reading in the late afternoon, something about a swimmer swept to sea, or a benevolent ocean and a drowning, Pinsky's parade of sycophants.

Commune, commune, commune -- at water's edges, the Pacific, the bay, the packing district, watching you practice Japanese on notecards, watching you woo the girlish women in Greek School.

A summer of language and found poems, particularly in diners, possibly because of back-to-back booths and open seating (you were gifted in acoustics, in picking our place to be), people so sleepy in the mid- to late- mornings. They'll say anything, and we listened. You published, shameless, arty line breaks your personal permission.

I walked in broken sandals from Berkeley to the Golden Gate, that "thirty-five million dollar steel harp" (said The Chronicle in 1937), to Sausalito, then, refusing to look at my feet but finally acknowledging them, and my blood trail, took the 6:30 ferry, then BART, stomped up the hill from Shattuck to the International House.

That was the kind of thing I did before you. Things were more light and air and feet and muscles, also nipples, then.

I am a fan of Charles Bernstein and what he does, and in ferreting out this and that, I was introduced, posthumously, to his daughter, Emma Bee Bernstein. Yesterday, I posted two YouTube videos from her user account and feel even weirder about that impulse today. It was a foreign act that I wanted to pass off as a comfortable thing, even a celebration of this lovely young woman.

But I don't think her work is great, and so I am not, in turn, a great fan, but something like politeness and real sadness over what was certainly going to be greatness, denied, motivated the gesture. The iteration.

[Denied? Not deferred, certainly, though in these ketamine times, I don't claim a firm understanding of our realities, but not denied, either. Just not, I suppose. Just not. Just plain old very sad very wrong not.]

Anyway, videos sort of from dead people, facebook accounts of the deceased, still friends, still peering out, still protecting a useless privacy.

She only share some profile information with everyone. If you know her, add her as a friend or send her a message.

Charles Bernstein's Web Log is like an infusion of goings-on that I can access when there is need, and there is need, on average, three times a month. It's ugly -- I hate the colors -- I hate the fonts -- I hate the layout.

It's perfect.

And every instance of need births great gratitude but what am I supposed to do, thank him? Harrumph.

In much the same way I know anything, I knew that Jonathan Williams was likely dead, too. Dead with all the other dead people that seem to be peopling the poetic crowd of my advancing years. This -- dead writers -- is partly how I've come to treasure opportunities like the Poetry Audio Archive over at the Academy of American Poets -- for how I long to hear them -- again, or for the first time, or the thirteenth. You really do have to hear poets. Look at them, not so much, but hear them, oh, yes.

Of course, I knew (of) Jonathan Williams from my own Asheville era, and wish that that portion of my life were preserved, for so much remains only in staccato bursts of errant electricity. He made me laugh. He made me want to hear language, touch words.  I like baseball;  He did, too. 

And I forgot him, and most all like him that I ever knew. That's the value of something like Bernstein's Web Log. Between him and Ron Silliman, I'm golden.  I remember.  I backtrack.  I listen to their trusted voices.
Joel Oppenheimer and Francine Du Plessix
at Black Mountain College, 1951.
Photograph by Jonathan Williams

Oh, please.  You remember what it was like.  My commitment to poetry included a commitment to publishable poetry.  Also, I aided and abetted a visit to my campus by Joel Oppenheimer -- there was an ice storm, a very old tree fell, and we all wrote poems about it.

But by the time I came to like Jonathan Williams, I had no campus.  To speak of.

I find that when I read and skim Bernstein's postings, often reduced to announcements, I remember names.  The tip-of-the-tongue drive-you-crazy names.  I practically crow with delight. 

Guy Davenport!  Robert Duncan.


Is there a better way than to end with Robert Duncan?  (Do I feel odd for the absence of George Oppen?)
These various portals to grace -- Emma Bee Bernstein's videos from YouTube, her father's work, analysis of works, and selfless promotion of language, archives oral, archives visual, blogs and blogs and blogs, all these portals such gifts such gifts!

Places of permission.

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
by Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun's going down

whose secret we see in a children's game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

The KillJoy of Marlinspike Hall

I suffered Kitten Meltdown this afternoon. It's difficult to say what event or behavior, or combination thereof, pushed me over the line. Everyone else in The Manor seemed to be in excellent spirits.

Trust me to be The KillJoy of Marlinspike Hall.

Before my eruption, I was documenting various Feline Antics: the chewing of the purse, stupidly left within Kitten Reach -- and a couple of the very frequent skirmishes between Dobby and Buddy.  Dobby is coming out of his funk and enjoying the Wee One, until he doesn't, at which point he flees in a serious way or sneaks into my closet (he can both open and close the door).

Oh -- not to worry, we have plans to paint all the doors and trim that were ruined in the early days by some fool lacking the dexterity to steer her wheelchair.  Nightmare days, those were.  With Captain Haddock's permission, we may even paint an accent wall or two.  Fred wants to grace our Private Quarters with a triptych of mural work -- but a critical ear and some funky past experiences with sheetrock, plaster, and gesso suggest that he may go all Diego Rivera in the bedroom.  I mean, I can be as nationalistic as the next Tête de Hergéen, and probably more revolutionary than most, but social realism all in my befuddled, sleepy face would might render insomnia a permanent condition.  Burly workers arm-in-arm with thunder-thighed cultural icons?  Can you say "gastroesophageal reflux"?

Umm, yeah, so back to CatCam for Sunday!

I don't know if Fred is going to drop in to elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle anytime soon, but if he does:  Sweet cheeks, I love you!  I appreciate you, am grateful for your constant gifts, and am so sorry not to convey that love and gratitude anywhere near frequently enough.  You bless me. 

Thank you for saving me from the insane kitten.  Oh, and from self-pity, from self-indulgence -- that, too!

There is no way that we could keep up this pace of moving from one stressful thing to the next without some correction -- of ourselves, and with a helpful sharp nudge to the diaphragm of the other!  (With our connections, we can always schedule a celiac plexus ablation...)

Is there any wonder that small, funny moments with cats are moments of grace?

And what do you think of maybe a trompe l'oeil ceiling, Dear One -- à la Jacob de Wit or, ummm, Andrea Mantegna?  Not that your work, my Darling Muffin, could ever be considered derivative.