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Tips on Tables - By Robert W. Dana - November 30, 1945
Sinatra Takes Over Wedgewood Room and Wins Crowd Despite His Illness
The quality of laryngitis is strained these nights at the Waldorf-Astoria's Wedgwood Room where Frank Sinatra is making a belated start on a short engagement. It is painfully obvious that he shouldn't be singing until he has had proper rest yet he sang 14 numbers Wednesday night, the concluding one "Old Man River."
Ordinarily the slim technician of modern song-phrasing is in his element with a large band behind him-wasn't he once a swing band vocalist? And Dick Stable's 22-piece band, featuring numerous violins and a harp, lends splendid support, but the voice that has hypnotized millions was like a butterfly in a whirlpool.
It was a masterful performance, nevertheless. There was the familiar stance, the bending of the microphone, the intent, searching glance that swept back and forth across the room in piercing penetration of the customers' thoughts and feelings and moods. He'd even turn now and then and seem to signal facilely to his piano accompanist.
Rises to His Best.
Frank's opening number was "Paper Moon"- light, airy and huskily fragile. Next came "It Might as Well Be Spring," "Laura" and "Its Been a Long, Long Time."The fifth tune was Irving Berlin's memorable "How Deep Is the Ocean," which is having a notable rebirth among top favorites. It revealed Sinatra at his best, too. From then on the singer seemed to have his laryngitis licked and the program became vibrant. He told of the time Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers were houseguests at his home and wrote a number called "Nancy With the Laughing Face," dedicated to the joy and sparkle that is his daughter. No great shucks of a composition but a tender, touching song.
After rendering "My Romance," from the still-remembered "Jumbo," and "When I Marry Sweet Lorraine," he pulled the first surprise of the evening with "Bess, Where Is My Bess." A haunting, lovely tune, he sang it very well
Monday, March 31, 2008 @ 7:30 PM
Admission is FREE
85 East 4th Street
(between 2nd Ave. & Bowery)
New York, NY 10003
Aracelis Girmay is the author of Teeth, from Curbstone Press. She was born in Santa Ana, California in 1977, and was raised in Southern California. The inheritor of Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African American traditions, she writes poetry, essays, and fiction. Girmay holds a B.A. from Connecticut College and an M.F.A. in poetry from New York University. Her children's art book, Changing, Changing, was published by George Braziller in 2005. A former Watson fellow and Cave Canem fellow, she has published extensively in journals and literary magazines. Girmay leads community writing workshops throughout New York and California. She currently lives in New York.
Chris Martin is the author of American Music, recipient of the Hayden Carruth Award. His poems have appeared in Cannibal, Swerve, Lungfull!, Tight, Tool, and Forklift, Ohio, among others. He has also recently published an essay on rap as ontological act in the Canadian philosophy journal Poiesis and an essay on the drawing of Saul Chernick in the Portland-based journal Yeti. He lives near the Brooklyn zoo and teaches near the one in Central Park.
Lee Wiley (1908-1975) was the greatest girl singer you may never have heard of. Try her interpreations of these tunes:
Let's Fall in Love
O! Look at Me Now
Street of Dreams
Soft Lights and Sweet Music
Time On My Hands
Looking at You
More Than You Know
My One and Only
Ghost of a Chance
How Long Has this Been Goiung On?
I've Got a Crush on You
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Glad To Be Unhappy
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) has been called “the greatest minor poet in the English language.” There’s plenty of competition for this curious distinction, but the case for Marvell is strong, especially if you like ambiguity and elegance in equal measure. Marvell happens to be one of the great mystery men of English letters. He had a gift for foreign languages, was an avid fencer, and lived a shadowy life on the continent that led to speculation that he was a spy or double agent. For twenty years he served as a member of parliament. He did not produce a large amount of poetry, but what he wrote was, as Spencer Tracey said of Katharine Hepburn’s anatomy, “cherce.”
Probably Marvell’s most famous poem is “To His Coy Mistress.” Never was a declaration of lust more logical. Carpe diem: We won’t be young forever, so let us make merry while we can. But Marvell develops the argument as one would a syllogism. He begins with wild hyperbole. If we had “world enough and time,” he would woo the maiden “ten years before the flood” and not mind if she should turn him down until the second coming.
But with the inevitable “but,” the tone changes drastically from genial to threatening: “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” And now Marvell warns the lady that someday “worms will try / that long-preserv’d virginity”of hers – a grim image you’d not expect to find in a seduction poem. The stanza closes with a sarcastic couplet for the ages: “The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none I think do there embrace.”
The third and final stanza clinches the argument as the lovers clinch. The image of the lovers rolled into a ball concludes the poem in an outburst of violence. But the violence is contained; Marvell pushes the couplet to the breaking point: “Let us roll all our strength and all / Our sweetness up into one ball, / And tear our pleasures with rough strife / Through the iron gates of life.” T. S. Eliot liked the image so much he lifted it for “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
When Oliver Cromwell returned to England after subjugating Ireland in 1650, Marvell greeted him with “An Horatian Ode” that set some sort of record for calculated ambiguity. This stately, grave ode can be read as straightforward praise of the conquering hero who had beheaded King Charles I and would, as the poem predicts, go on to suppress the Scots. But subtle critics have propounded the opposite interpretation, contending that the ode has a secret royalist agenda and is deeply critical of Cromwell. And so this mid-seventeenth-century poem became a perfect object lesson in mid-twentieth-century literary criticism.
Read Marvell’s “The Garden” for his double vision of paradise lost and paradox gained. “Two paradises ‘twere in one / To live in paradise alone.” Before you declare your disagreement with this proposition, consider the mathematical metaphor Marvell employs. And then re-read the first three chapters of Genesis.
Possibly no one, not even Pope, wrote couplets more complex and witty than those of Andrew Marvell.
If Jacques Lacan had written "Beyond the Pleasure principle," death would be
a) A one-way ticket to Palookaville
b) The big sleep
c) A modern office building
d) A seventeenth-century orgasm
e) The mirror
Match wits with the experts:
2) Queen Elizabeth I
3) Terry Malloy
4) Sylvia Plath
5) Philip Marlowe
Freud Quiz is supported by a grant from the tomb.
In discussing the supposed gulf between abstract and representational art, the late French painter Jean Helion wrote in his journal: "I wonder . . . whether all the valid painting being done today doesn't bear certain resemblances which escape us at the present time." One could wonder the same thing about poetry, but in the meantime, while we wait for uniform utopia, the dissimilarities -- the splintering, the impurity -- could be those of life itself. Life is what present American poetry gets to seem more like, and the more angles we choose to view it from, the more its amazing accidental abundance imposes itself.
-- John Ashbery
The Best American Poetry 1988
Sadness and good food are incompatible. The old sages knew that wine lets the tongue loose, but one can grow melancholy with even the best bottle, especially as one grows older. The appearance of food, however, brings instant happiness. A paella, a choucroute garnie, a pot of tripes a la mode de Caen, and so many other dishes of peasant origin guarantee merriment. The best talk is around that table. Poetry and wisdom are its company. The true Muses are cooks. Cats and dogs don't stay far from a busy kitchen. Heaven is a pot of chili simmering on the stove. If I were to write about the happiest days of my life, many of them would have to do with food and wine and a table full of friends.
-- Charles Simic, The Unemployed Fortune-Teller
The University of Michigan Press, 1994
Dorothea Lasky & Bill Rasmovicz
Monday, March 24, 2008 @ 7:30 PM
Admission is FREE
85 East 4th Street
(between 2nd Ave. & Bowery)
New York, NY 10003
About the Readers
Dorothea Lasky’s first book of poems, AWE, came out in the fall of 2007 from Wave Books. Recent poems can be found in Octopus, Forklift, Ohio, small town, and Satellite Telephone, among other places. Currently, she lives in Philadelphia, where she is pursuing her doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Bill Rasmovicz is a graduate of the Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Vermont College and Temple University School of Pharmacy. His poetry has appeared in Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, Terra Incognita, Nimrod, Hunger Mountain, Third Coast, Puerto Del Sol, Comstock Review, Poetry Miscellany, The Café Review and other magazines. He lives in New York City.
“When the bubbles of nothingness rise”
When the bubbles of nothingness rise
out of nothing –
a fine and brittle crust like
blown glass, cooled motion, forms
and in the rough spots
chinks of someday
we have our lives
build wars, consider
carefully seek to know
what robe or crown to wear
-- A. R. Ammons
1 April 1998
See A. R. Ammons, Selected Poems in the Library of America's American Poets Project (2006).
Photograph by Fred R. Conrad
Four of those pictured served as guest editors of The Best American Poetry, and one edited a controversial "best of the best" anthology in 1998.
In Freud’s view, when the Dalai Lama met Salvador Dali
(a) they discussed a possible merger of Surrealism and Buddhism
(b) it was in his waiting room and they criticized US foreign policy
(c) they were in a Gap commercial for khaki trousers
(d) they sang “Hello, Dolly”
(e) it was like the meeting of an umbrella and a sewing machine on the operating table.
Janice Erlbaum participated in the group reading we did for "The Best American Erotic Poems" at KGB Bar on March 10. She read her sestina ("The Temp") from the book, but time constraints stopped her from reading a second sestina, which she has posted on her own blog and which you will find below, along with a few prefatory sentences from Ms. Erlbaum.
The "Other" Sestina by Janice Erlbaum
Janice Erlbaum at KGB Bar March 10, 2008
Because I am fanatical about not running over my alloted time at readings, especially when there are nine other people on the bill, I didn't read this other sestina, which I'm dying to read in public, especially after it was rejected by McSweeney's for being, and I quote, "too much." I present it to you now, for your consideration for the Best American Completely Unerotic; In Fact, Makes You Never Want to Have Sex Again anthology:
How do married people masturbate?
How do married people masturbate?
What do they picture when they come?
They think of the guy at the office, the girl
In the video, her asshole stretched, wincing;
Ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, the ones they still hate.
There’s nothing safe to think about, they fall asleep.
This is how you prepare to go to sleep,
How you wake up, how you run home and masturbate.
Everybody does it! Why can't you? You hate
Me for wanting to fuck when you just want to come –
I turn to stroke you, you turn away, wincing.
I don't care if you think about another girl.
I would want to fuck her too, that girl,
Anybody but me, laying next to you asleep,
A big fat fucking obstacle to your wincing
Nightly ritual: Pop in a tape and masturbate,
Watch that girl get drilled. Two minutes to come.
You mop up, drift off. You burned off some hate.
Not me. I walk around with mine. I hate
What I saw on that tape. I thought, poor girl,
She's in pain and she has to pretend to come.
I lay next to you that night, unable to sleep,
Therefore you were unable to masturbate.
The clock shined mean and bright in the dark. We winced.
Some nights I straddle a pillow, wincing,
Squeezing at thoughts I don't want to think, I hate
The way you come to me when I masturbate.
Face down on my belly, I look like that girl.
I writhe a while. I give up. I go to sleep.
I don't come. It's okay. I don't need to come.
I don't care what you think about when you come,
As long as it's me you're fucking, wincing,
Waiting for you to get off and slump, fall asleep.
You are faithful. I have no right to hate
You, hate myself, hate the hundreds of girls
With their assholes stretched, so you can masturbate.
I know who you are when you masturbate. I come
Into the room, kiss your forehead, your lover girl. Why are you wincing?
Your toes curl in silence. I hate you. I love you too. Let's go to sleep.
--- Janice Erlbaum
Winds make weather; weather
Is what nasty people are
Nasty about and the nice
Show a common joy in observing. . .
Guess the title of this poem and series of which it is part.
It was a beautiful spring day in 1947 when Barb and Joe moved to their orgasm farm in scenic Virginia. Though they had spent years studying orgasmic farming methods, they decided that nothing could compare with hands-on experience. Barb and Joe were tired of being armchair scientists. Ready and eager to practice what they had only read about, they settled down to business. At first the farming was a struggle. Barb complained of feeling plowed under. Or too hot and sweaty. She was not accustomed to physical labor. Joe enjoyed farming so much, he didn't even stop for meals or sleep. Once Barb ran home to her mother. Joe had to beg her to return to the orgasm farm. Things were a little rocky, but Joe was determined that their relationship would become better without the use of any chemicals or hired hands. People laughed at them then. But Joe was a good man, patient and relentless. Willing to try again and again to plant an orgasm or two. His hard work paid off. That was twenty years ago. Today Barb and Joe have the most prolific orgasm farm around. They work well together and love what they do. Their little youngsters skip merrily in the verdant pastures. Barb and Joe know that someday new generations will carry on where they left off. They know others will come to enjoy it as much as they do.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.