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NauenThen

Dial-a-Poem

 Here's a few things I learned from the John Giorno Foundation: 


* Dial-a-Poem is back, with 286 recordings by 130 poets! Call 917-994-8949. 

 

* Dial-a-Poem was the first Dial-a effort, begun in 1968 at the Architectural League of NY. It was so popular that the telephone company threatened to shut it down.

 

* "With Dial-A-Poem, I stumbled on the phenomena of the telephone as a new media, connecting three things: publicity, a telephone number, and content accessed by a huge audience. Before Dial-A-Poem, the telephone was used one-to-one. Dial-A-Poem's success gave rise to a Dial-A-Something industry, from Dial-A-Joke, Dial-A-Horoscope, Dial-A-Stock Quotation, Dial Sports, to the 900 number paying for a call, to phone sex, and ever more extraordinary technology. Dial-A-Poem, by chance, ushered in a new era in telecommunications." ~ John Giorno, 2012

 

* And on my own, I learned that trying to make ° into a bullet adds a stupid transparent box to my screen that I can't get rid of & a few other unwanted computer glitches. There was a lot of heat-addled attempts to undo it but they didn't work. 

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Too darn hot

Oh yeah & humid. My brain is boiling & my scalp is spongy. Can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing. I put two teabags in one cup & none in the other. Awful. Can I go home? Nope, have to wait for Johnny to come by & read the Iliad. All those spears going through throats & groins is making my blood boil. Can I stay awake if I study a little about the passive in Norwegian? I bet I can! 

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Monday Quote

In our modern world, the fate of this handful of men may not seem important. Yet what is at stake is crucial: is not each of these Eskimos the custodian of human capital, of a fund of experience, knowledge, and traditions handed down through generations? Every time a so-called minority culture is eradicated, mankind's patrinony is undeniably impoverished, for like the greater civilizations, the more limited cultures also participate in the history of man and contribute to a fuller knowledge of his destiny. 

~ Jean Malaurie, The Last Kings of Thule

 

He goes on to say that "the decline of this plurimillennial hunting society has derived more from an economic system and from the civil law that sustains it than from any so-called cultural shock...."                           [pp 415-417]

 

I came for the bracing Arctic cold, I stayed for the sympathetic & indignant portrait of a people being dispossessed and ruined.

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Poem of the Week

Not All Chickens Are Comrades

 

The chicken doesn't

have

 

meaning until

the police

 

recognize

the chicken

 

as threatening &

it becomes

 

a signal

of

 

something more 

significant

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In the neighborhood

This is only a bit of the long fence at the school around the corner that's covered with similar signs. Kids today! Full of hope & glory. 

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Saint Hans Day in New Jersey

Yesterday my Norwegian class took a field trip to the Sons of Norway lodge on Lake Telemark, NJ, to celebrate St. Hans Day, or midsummer, with a (controlled) bonfire, snacks, & lots of Norwegians. I går gikk klassen min på ekskursjon til Sons of Norway Midsummer bål ved Lake Telemark, NJ. We had snacks and raspberry beer (which tasted like raspberries, not beer — I liked it) and plenty of laughs. Vi hadde mat og bringebærøl og masse latter. I like my class & am amused that this is the world I find myself in. A couple of the ladies were very persistent: BUT ARE YOU NORWEGIAN? I said South Dakota blah blah cousins blah blah honorary Norwegian blah blah. They weren't buying it. And I still don't like lefse. Oh to be, even once in my life, at home in the world. Hjemme i verden. 

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A day in June

Lowell didn't look like this in my day & it doesn't look like this now. This is a picture I could find. 

Finally a day — sunny, a little breeze, 66° — that springs this quote out of me: "And what is so rare as a day in June? Then — if ever — come perfect days." It's from James Russell Lowell. Now, I went to Lowell Grade School. The first schools in Sioux Falls were all named after 19th-century American authors: Whittier, Longfellow, Irving, Hawthorne, so Lowell fit right in. As it happened, our milkman (Lakeside Dairy) was Jim Lowell. It didn't surprise me in the least that my school was named after him, as he was the coolest man I knew as a 5-year-old. He drove a truck standing up & would let us ride in it, creeping along for 5 feet at the slowest possible speed. I wonder if I got my love of cars in part from that early thrill. 

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Out of the neighborhood

Possibly the most impressive part was that they played the whole concert sitting seiza. I know the woman on the right from karate. 

What fun to wear something other than a t-shirt & go farther uptown than I have in a year. So strange to get on a train & have to think about what stop, which end of the train—my usual givens unfamiliar. Loved meeting with friends at Bryant Park to see someone from the dojo playing a koto, a Japanese harp. New to me. I wished they had explained what was involved in learning & playing it so I could appreciate it better. Didn't dig the Japanese banjo. I like bluegrass but a 7-piece banjo band playing almost in unison, not so much; definitely needed a guitar, fiddle & a tragedy. That's my uneducated Western ear & bias, obviously, & I know some people were wowed. 

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Monday Quote

Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't. 

~ Pete Seeger

 

I've been wading in murky quotation waters, so I thought on this steamy Monday I would proffer something obvious & pithy. About which there is nothing more to be said. 

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And the vote goes on

I took this photo surreptitiously at my polling site. Someone was watching so I pretended to be swiping. 

Ranked choice voting. So fraught! Much more complex than voting for the one I want. i had to think about whether & how to block someone I really didn't want, & how much to support my second (& 3rd & 4th & 5th!) choices.

 

These candidates seem so afraid of saying anything controversial that they end up all sounding similarly bland. Except, I guess, for Andrew Yang, who said, "Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights? We do: the people and families of the city. We have the right to walk the street and not fear for our safety because a mentally ill person is going to lash out at us." One response (from an Assembly member): This is toxic ableism at its worst. I don't support Yang in the least for mayor but his solution was more psych beds, which other candidates have called for. 

 

And then I think of former NYC mayor Ed Koch (1924-2013), who pulled no punches: Read More 

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Poem of the Week

I Rebuke

 

"I rebuke the news in the name of Jesus. We ask that this false garbage come to an end."

~ Conservative pastor Tim Remington, Idaho. Quoted in The New York Times, 1/14/2021

 

I rebuke the kitchen in the name of cleanliness.

I rebuke my foot in the name of Fleuvog.

I rebuke the news in the name of the pennant-winning Yankees.

I rebuke my husband in the name of marriage.

I ask that this false dinner come to an end.

I ask that this false body come to an end.

I ask that my husband take out the garbage.

I ask that my husband pick up milk.

Not fake milk. Not goat's milk. Not almond milk.

I rebuke fake milk.

I rebuke goat's milk.

I rebuke almond milk.

This false garbage.

This false garage.

I rebuke my car.

I rebuke my bike.

I rebuke my watch.

I rebuke the news in the name of warm socks.

I rebuke the queue in the name of haste.

I rebuke the new in the name of memory.

I rebuke the dew in the name of snow.

I rebuke the snow in the name of blizzard.

I rebuke silence.

I ask that you treat me like a duchess.

I ask that you give me ice cream. And biscuits. And a hearty handshake.

I rebuke handshaking in the name of covid.

I rebuke covid in the name of slow breathing.

I revoke breathing.

I revoke walking.

I revoke drugs are whack.

I rebuke the war on drugs.

I revolt. I remember. I wish.

I ask that garbage come to an end.

I ask that rebuke come to an end.

I ask that Tim Remington come to an end.

 

 

Elinor Nauen

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Upstarts

A karate friend is also an actor, part of this company. The Upstart Creatures usually feed people lavish homemade dinners between acts. Not at the moment, although we did get a delicious dessert after the wonderful staged reading of The Illusion, by 17th-century French playwright Pierre Corneille, English version by Tony Kushner. It doesn't take a lot to put us into the magic—Kushner's words & the cast's skill & enthusiasm carried us along. And of course it's fantastic to be back seeing live theater. 

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From the vault

This is me circa 1982 in my first public boxing match.Mud boxing — that's what's on my face. Johnny Stanton was my teacher & my second, which is how I got to know him. This was at More Party Than Arty at Charas. I fought poet Rose Lesniak, who kept saying, I'm an actor! Don't hit me in the face! After a while, I didn't know how to end things so we both fell down. (To calls of "Fix!" I have to admit.)

 

What am I wearing, you ask? A silver lamé & black showgirl suit with pearls. Whoohoo! 

 

Also, happy Bloomsday. 

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Movin' on

This little cutie is all grown up now, a college graduate with a master's degree in computer engineering, about to fly off to San Francisco to start her first real job. I was never as together as she is. She has A Plan. She's going to buy furniture & get a dog & make $$ & friends. Kids today! Pretty darn awesome! 

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Monday Quote

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting. 

~ William Gibson

 

Sitting here thinking about this ~ I sometimes think my hobby is remembering strange little moments from my life. Standing on our driveway early on the first day of school vacation with those endless months of daylight ahead, happy & free; vowing that I would never forget THIS moment & only remembering the vow not the moment; never being sure if I woke up under a giant sequoia when I hitchhiked down the West Coast or dreamed it. Isn't that what life adds up to, a Santa's bag of memories? Which isn't what this quote is about, I see. I don't want to forget. Those who've died live on only when we the living remember them. We want to counter that natural flow, too, don't we?

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In the neighborhood

Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue & 10th Street. 

Late spring, perfect weather, I keep running into people & having all the time in the world to chat & hang out. Lovely life. 

 

But of course it means I am short on time for obligations, hence the short happy post today.

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Who knows where the time goes

Phonecalls... people stopping by (a reacquired pleasure!)... kids karate (they are fantastic: how they manage to learn on the Zoom is beyond me but they do)... reading the Iliad on the bench with Johnny & having just a sip of cucumber soup... more phonecalls... that's my day, wasn't there more to it? Well sure but I don't have time for more... 

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Poem of the Week

A friend told me that when her kids were little, they thought there was a bad word for every letter. They knew the c-word: crap. They were right: Here's the list. 

 

The Word

              for CSP, BP & AP

 

The a-word: angry

The b-word: bottomless

The c-word: crap

The d-word: dang

The e-word: eleemosynary

The f-word: fuhgeddaboutit

The g-word: gee

The h-word: harvard

The i-word: I

The j-word: junior

The k-word: kale

The l-word: llama bean

The m-word: mmmmm

The n-word:

The o-word: oh?

The p-word: pee

The q-word: queue

The r-word: 'R u kidding me?

The s-word: somewhere sometime someone

The t-word: the

The u-word: uglification

The v-words: vasty, vavavavoom

The w-word: work

The x-word: x-ray spex

The y-word: youthful

The z-word: zipless

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In the neighborhood

They closed a while ago but the sign is still up & I wanted to acknowledge this longtime neighborhood business, yet another victim of the pandemic. They were expensive but definitely the place to go for anything you didn't want to be ruined. Eileen got packages there & meant to give them a photo for them to display, as an illustrious customer. If one store disappears per year, the block is transformed soon enough. On my stretch of 2 or 3 blocks, on my side of First Avenue, only Gringer's is still there; the liquor store, Ureema bodega, two army-navy stores, a bakery, a fruit & vegetable stand, the Egyptian takeout (kosherie!), One World Africa (candles & pot)—all gone, one after another after another. And yet it's the same neighborhood, somehow. Or enough remains that it still feels like home. 

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Someone else's cat

June spotted the kitty peeping out through the window. This is my building, although I know only my fellow basement denizens. I am going to get to know that little guy. 

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Monday Quote

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking. 

~ John Maynard Keynes

 

In the course of studying the Versailles Treaty, I read (what I recall as) a good bit of Keynes. Even then, age maybe 20, I realized I couldn't evaluate his thinking because he was such a graceful writer. If QAnon was put together by writers who can wield a sentence, who knows, I may very well fall for it. 

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God, demystified

I could get rid of the ads on this game I play on my phone, WordScapes, but I'd miss ones like this. 

 

(Back to cats soon.)

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Lefty—but more!

Not a picture of my cat simply because there is nothing better to look at (although there isn't), but to show him in the Snack Magic box that I got for donating to a fundraiser for Infinite Variety Productions, a terrific theater company that finds unknown stories about women in history & makes immersive theater out of their own words. Every production I've seen is riveting & invaluable. 

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Lefse-Lefty

Yes, he settles down on top of Johnny. Yes, he crashes around the house at 3 a.m. & wakes me. Yes, he gallops towards & leaps onto me while I'm asleep. Yes, he's the reason I'm dragging today.

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Sunnyside UP

This isn't my friend's place, but it's somewhat more photogenic.
 

What fun to have a little adventure, & not very far away at all. Sunnyside Gardens in Sunnyside, Queens, was built in the 1920s as affordable housing with an English-y vibe, although largely populated by Irish working class folks. A friend bought a wonderful little house—well, not so little! Attic, basement, two floors, & a backyard patio. Only a few stops into Queens on the ubiquitous 7 (the M supposedly goes there but it never came so I switched up). I was probably most amazed to see a UPS delivery outside someone's front door; my friend assured me that no one snags packages. 

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