Sunday, August 28, 2005


"In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing.
About the dark times."

-- Bertold Brecht

(from Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness)

Friday, August 26, 2005

You missed it! Moving Music

Mikaela says:
Last night I had the earth pulled from under my feet. I had my soul slipped through musical chords. I had my tongue transported to Africa.

And you missed it. You and the rest of Albuquerque.

Last night, Prince Diabate reigned in the Duke City. Hard to explain really, the power this man has in his ten fingers plucking TWENTY-ONE kora strings. Never heard a kora? Neither had I until last night, and it blew me AWAY.

Now I'm not one to get overly emotional -- often. I err on the side of music that stirs me to melancholy. This sound ... this music picked me up and filled all the crevices that have been parched for 30 years without me even knowing. This is the biggest, fullest music I have ever heard.

He came here as Lo Maduro de La Cultura, a series at the South Broadway Cultural Center brought by the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services, UNM Center for Latin American Resources and Outreach (CLARO), and Caminos Culturales. The Prince of the Kora played with his cousin, master balafonist Djelimadi Kouyate from Paris, France.

The mood for the evening was set by
Youth Storyteller Champion Tamarind King. This girl was AMAZING. She was flawless and filled with light and spirit and HUMOR. Oh my god! The voices this girl could inhabit.

I can't use enough hyperbole to express how moved I was last night. Picked up and MOVED. Transformed. Deported, transported, welcomed, and embraced.

Within five seconds of the start of the music, I was weeping. My breath didn't seem to want to enter or leave my mouth. I wanted to hold it in my chest and use it to push the stray notes around my limbs until all my cells got a chance to dance.

I found myself filling up with gratitude. The grace! Life! Such wonderful surprises! You walk in expecting music and find instead: religious conversion! A pentecostal high.

Holy shit!

And then the shame that never quite fell into despair. Here they were, these African musicians. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Giving us such a gift of light. And our government bleeds blackness on the world and turns our back on every atrocity homegrown in Africa. What do we give back?

For this night, this one last night, it was enough in certain moments to appreciate and celebrate and share. We met like with like, and we all rode the wave together. For one night, grace. And a joy that comes with loving so much you feel universal. For one night, this intoxication was not dangerous. And those who could stand danced.

What other life-transforming events come here and pass by every day without any of us knowing? Now that's enough to make you weep.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

John Irving: Enough Already!

Mikaela says:
Did anyone else happen to catch John Irving on a recent Jon Stewart Daily Show?

He has another book out, which predominantly figures a young man who ... can you guess??? ... sleeps with a much-older woman. Wait, didn't he write that already? In fact, aren't MOST of his books about that, or at least, include that little tidbit somehow?

He let it be known in the interview that it's a topic he's obsessed with because he had sex with a much older woman at the age of 11 (MOST women were older at the age of 11!!!). Normally, statutory rape is not something to joke about, and his own ambiguous feelings about the situation come out in most of the books he writes about the subject.

But as one of my very favorite authors, and author of my all-time favorite book -- Prayer for Owen Meany -- I have to say, as a fan and as a concerned friend -- Enough Already!

Need to talk about it more? Write about it more? Okay. But don't make us read it! Just say no to publishing. It's not that you shouldn't publish it, it's just that I feel the need to read everything you write, but lately -- you keep writing the same book over and over.

He admitted, in fact, that he wrote this one TWICE. Once in first person and then again in third person -- to get a little objective distance from the narrator. Ahem. Try harder!

I think I'm coming down on poor John hard because Widow for One Year was so ... not worth the time it took to read it. But read it I did.

Marjorie just bought it, so I'll let her chime in when she's done. Maybe I'm just having one of those increasingly frequent "harsh days" that bring out the asshole in me.

Or maybe I just know he can do better. Maybe this last one will exorcise the literary demon. I just think his talents should be brought to bear (not the dancing kind) on other pressing issues. Otherwise he's wasting his considerable talent and my valuable time.

(Oh lordy, that sounds harsh! But I'm going with it. Damn.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

m-pyre kicks it with the Fix

Blogosphere goes hard-line with a visit to the downtown Flying Star in the Matrix.

Come say hello! We don't byte.

Tonight, 6:30 p.m.

See Duke City Fix for more info. Or just for fun. Cause they rock over there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Searching for Greatness in One-Eyed Jesus

Ran into the guy who originally turned me onto the One-Eyed Jesus.

He saw it the first showing of the first day and when asked, had this to say:

"Classic. Absoulutely classic greatness. The best movie ever made."

Now, just as an aside, this guy is an engineer working out of Sandia Labs, who, in his free time, purchases some kind of historical glassware off Ebay and lives alone. Still.

I was left pondering what left him so satisfied and the 3Ms so ... hungry for the full story.

What got me most about the movie was the unabashed claims by the filmmakers that this was a movie about "The South" -- not "A Version of the South" or "Our experience of the South" or "the White South."

It was a good movie. There were some amazing windows into worlds, and the cinematography was well worth the viewing.

Best picture ever made? Hardly. It could have been better if the filmmakers understood the limitations of what they were making and the divides they couldn't even see, or at least, never let us see.

I would have found the picture much more interesting had it taken on the topic of when and what things get segregated and when there is far more interaction between white and black than anywhere else in the country.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


She couldn’t count her blessings fast enough to keep them from multiplying. They piled up on her porch in broken heaps and started to rot. Neglected.

Instead, she lined her pockets with complaints, braided horoscopes into her hair where they could grow and tangle with her living-dead mane.

She looked up recipes for disaster that she’d experiment with on Tuesday afternoons, adding a dash of salt, now trying a substitute of banana. When the uranium cakes just wouldn’t rise, she’d smash apart the alarm clock and stir in both hands.

Her bathtub continued to leak. From far away, sirens cradled her nightmares.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Overcommitted: Please Don't Ask

Sunday, August 14, 2005

there are poets among us

marjorie says...

The poetry slam extravaganza brought up random things for me:

  1. I am repressed.
  2. Humans are conduits of pain, to varying degrees. I don’t know anyone who escapes it. A big part of life is about learning how to handle it. Certain poets ride it like a wave--I’m amazed by their intensity, especially those who do it over and over again.
  3. Even poets are not immune to complete and utter bullshit. Anyone who listened to last night’s finale will know what I am talking about.
  4. For many people, oppression is an inescapable central factor of life. If you get this, you would have loved how women and people of color rocked the poetry slams. Why can’t we be that creative, that forceful, that instructive?
  5. I saw slams four nights in a row (this is a participation record for me) and last night I realized that my top ten was heavy with white boys. I don’t know what this means--I just loved them.
  6. As someone who has done a fair amount of volunteer work over the years, I was very, very impressed by the core volunteer staff--they were tight. We should be pleased to have such a dedicated group of poets in our midst.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Still haven't checked out some poetry?

Bad! Bad! Bad!

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

Read this to plan your night in ABQ.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

National Poetry Slam in ABQ

Maggie says:
If you're an m-pyrical reader you've likely already read posts like this, where Mikaela tries to get you to come to this week's National Poetry Slam events in Albuquerque. Over on m-pyre, here's where I try to get you to come. Point being: come! It should be a great week. Plus, Mikaela will be be happy if there's a great turnout, and making Mikaela happy is a good thing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

August m-pyrical horoscopes

Brian Francis did it again. Check out your own on Planet Waves:

Aries (March 20-April 19)
These days, you're getting a sense of how you can do quite well being a bit less impetuous, more predictable, and over all, inclined to put politics above making a personal splash. I'm not sure who we have to thank for being your role model, but at least it's someone you respect, and one who has made his way in the world. It may also be someone who you want to have a greater role in your life, but might have never dreamed it possible. Perhaps the friendship has developed so long that you don't think it's likely it'll change; perhaps you have the feeling lately that this person is about to move on. Or more to the point, you're sensing your own need for independence as standing out above all else. But you can take steps to balance your need for standing apart with your need for companionship. Both are basic nutrients.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You've got quite a bit of credibility, but I don't suggest you push your luck. Credibility is exactly like credit. You build it by taking risks, but as you build, you need to be exceedingly realistic about what you can come through with. At the moment, less is more. You'd be wise to count an uncertainty factor, and alert people long in advance if you think you're going to be delayed, if you overextended yourself, or if factors are showing up requiring you to trim back your plans. It would be reasonable astrological advice to suggest making no new commitments, personal or financial, through the end of the year. By then, you'll have a lot better sense of your resources, a better understanding of where you stand with others, and a real idea of what you personally need. And the virtue of prudence will be obvious.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Your insecurities are likely to play a bit of havoc with you this month, but it's time you started taking these storm surges as opportunities to deal intelligently with the whole issue of fear. The problem with fear is that it rarely encourages positive action of any kind. Rather, it seems to be much more effective at paralyzing us from taking concrete steps toward solving our problems. But fear is also addictive, in that it's compelling, it's an intense emotion, and there can, at times, seem to be no escape. I suggest you do yourself a favor and admit that fear itself is a specific problem. This will allow you to apply your creativity where you have some influence, and to sort out what really matters. Of course, the object of life is to do what you want, rather than win a victory over anxiety. But you have to start somewhere, and this is a pretty good place.

Signs of Life for Feminism

Mikaela says:
Hollywood's not necessarily the hotbed of feminism, nor is it a place where strong women are encouraged to think and speak for themselves.

A recent interview with Reese Witherspoon (who is quientessentially m-pyrical) shows a much-needed sense of awareness of the responsibility women have in Hollywood to remember those that got us to where we are today:

Reese Witherspoon doesn't want her daughter growing up in a world where feminine role models are reduced to hot babes posing in little more than body glitter and stilettos on the covers of men's magazine.

"What gets me is how many women -- young women -- give up their power and their sense of self," the "Legally Blonde" actress says in the September issue of Marie Claire. "Thinking they're going to get more out of life if they take off their clothes and objectify themselves, instead of functioning on the principle that they're smart and capable, that you can be an actress and not be on the covers of T&A magazines. I'm flabbergasted by how many legitimate actresses do that. It blows my mind."

Reese believes "there are certain people who are systematically ripping [feminism] down because of their lack of regard and their ignorance about what the women before us had to go through."

When asked whether she's alluding to the studio suits in charge or vacant-eyed starlets such as Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, she has a quick answer.

"I don't think these women are stupid," Witherspoon explains. "I think they're selling a personality that's very marketable: 'Wouldn't it be fun if we were all gorgeous and didn't have a care?' But creating a cultural icon out of someone who goes, 'I'm stupid, isn't it cute?' makes me want to throw daggers at them!"

Reese, who might want to consider teaming up with Gloria Steinem to give the women's movement a much-needed shot in the arm, feels the dim-bulb blond bombshell factor is undoing the progress achieved by previous generations.

"I want to say to them, 'My grandma did not fight for what she fought for, and my mother did not fight for what she fought for, so you can start telling women it's fun to be stupid,'" she rants to the mag. "Saying that to young women, little girls, my daughter? It's not OK."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Independent People by Halldor Laxness

Ever heard of “Independent People” - by Halldor Laxness? If you’ve read it, I would love to discuss it with you. Most likely you haven’t even though it delivered the 1955 Nobel to Laxness, an Icelandic author who wrote in his native language. Apparently, Laxness is firmly oriented within the Icelandic Saga tradition, which spans over a 1000 years. Who knew? But, as it turns out, Iceland is a mighty literary place.

The novel is centered on Bjartur of Summerhouses, a sheep farmer who has one primary goal - to be an Independent Man. After working for the local bailiff for 18 years, Bjartur has scraped together enough money to buy his own farm. He sets out to be steadfastly independent economically, but is also quite emotionally distant with his family. This emotional distance combined with his refusal to accept any form of assistance from others is disastrous to his two wives - both of whom he lets starve to death, essentially. His one weakness is Asta Sollija, the child born to his first wife. Technically Asta Sollija is not his - rather, his first wife came to him already pregnant by the Bailiff’s son. Regardless, she is a ‘flower’ to Bjartur - and in the end he can’t remain independent of her.

The central family story is set within a larger social and economic context in the early 1900’s - small farmers are caught in the middle of a power struggle between large landholders and the merchant class in Iceland. It’s a remarkable exposition on the plight of the ‘small’ man - who craves independence but can not achieve it without joining forces with others.

I highly recommend this book - which is now firmly at the top of my list of favorites -- all-time favorites that is. I seriously do not think one word is wasted in this rather thick story, there isn’t a single annoying tangent - it fits together beautifully, and is full of insight about the experience of living.