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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Harold Pinter

"And so I say to you, tender the dead as you would yourself be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Death - Harold Pinter 1930-2008


Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?

Who was the dead body?

Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?

Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?

Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?

How did you know the dead body was dead?

Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body

Thursday, December 04, 2008

That's Me! That's Me! - A Writing Guide

In 1958 you wrote "Pandemonium". What does pandemonium mean? What was the concept of this?

The concept, "pandemonium" was a word first used by John Milton in a very long English poem called "Paradise Lost". Pandemonium comes from the Greek "pan", meaning all and "demonium", meaning the demons. The idea of pandemonium is that in recognizing something - for example, recognizing a face or a character on a page - we have a little demon for each feature, for each part of the picture. And when the demons see themselves in the picture they shout, That's me! That's me! and then a higher level demon listens to these other demons and decides who shouts the loudest. If you are reading a character, a letter in a word, if the higher level demon hears the "A" demon shout the loudest, then he knows it is an "A". The idea is that we have separate neural nets, say, representing the demons, and what they shout, their output, is the amount of themselves that they see, that they perceive in what they are looking at.

So it's a network of neural networks at the end.

Yes, in the long run neural networks will have to be built up of pieces that are neural networks. But they still have to work together. Then the whole system does not have simple purposes or goals but very complex ones, just like people. In that sense the neural network is very different from the network of computers which we are talking about now because here it is a social thing. In our society not every piece, not every computer wants the same thing. They want to communicate but not because there is a single purpose; they want to communicate because everybody wants to do something different. In the neural network, in the good neural networks, they are all contributing to the same end.

Oliver Selridge: From Cybernetics to Neural Networks

Question 1: What are neural networks?

Answer: A neural network is a model of the way real nerves, real sensors like eyes and ears and brains, work. It tries to imitate so that it will work in the same way and do the same things.

Question 2: E' possibile costruire macchine, computer e altre apparecchiature con le reti neurali?

Answer: It is possible. We believe that our thinking works in a way like that and we want to find out how real brains work, and also to build machines to do some of the same things that our brains, our minds do.

Question 3: But these machines are not programmable. Will they learn by themselves?

Answer: One hopes so. They do learn by themselves, by their own experiences but not as much as people do. They are still very simple. The kinds of tasks that these machines can now do are low-level tasks. As science improves, as the engineers and scientists, the people at SMAU, work them and practice with them they get better, but they are still very far from real people.

Question 4: Can you compare the ability of neural networks with the ability of animals or children?

Answer: It is not an age so much. The neural network in the machine keeps trying, but an intelligent child stops trying after a while and gets bored. Our machines do not get bored yet, which is a sign that they are very elementary indeed. There are tasks which they can do for us. They will keep track of the right way to do a very easy task. But as yet they do not have much sense of purpose of their own beyond what they are given by the people who build them.

Question 5: That is interesting because they have to understand from the environment. How can they understand from the environment?

Answer: That is a very interesting point. It is not that they understand so much, it is that they work with the environment to get something done, to perceive something, to have the right effect. But they do not really understand what the environment is or how it works. So neural networks today do not make a model of the environment in the way that you and I make a model of the environment, instead they merely play with what they can do until it works.

Question 6: And can you compare the goals of cybernetics and the goals of neural networks?

Answer: The goals of neural networks are much more cybernetic than present day computers. Our computers are nearly all programmed, that is, they are told exactly what to do. Neural networks are not told exactly what to do. The study of cybernetics started out with Professor Norbert Wiener at MIT, who was my adviser, studying how gets to a particular place. The word cybernetics comes from the Greek word for the steersman on a boat, who moved the tiller or the rudder to get the boat where he wanted to go. The steersman is performing the goal, the seeking of the goal, the going where he wants to. At a very low level neural networks move their connections and rewire themselves so that the machine will do what it is programmed to want to do. In computers the programs are written so the machine will do what the designer wants them to do. So the machines in computers do not want. Neural networks are beginning to want, to care, to have purpose.

Demons and Pandemonium - The Stuff of Writing

D.B. notes that Oliver Selfridge sadly died in a fall at age 82. Selfridge was a pioneer in early computer science and artificial intelligence. And as D.B. fans know, every writer worth his or her salt needs to understand the complex processes of intelligence. How else to improve the creative processes.

Selfridge himself understood the connection between literature and intelligent processes. Selfridge envisioned the mind as a collection of tiny demons (this idea of the demon came to him after reading Paradise Lost!), each of whom responds to a name -- or something close to it -- being called out by other demons. When one thinks it is being called, it begins to yell out to other demons. The more certain it is that it is being called, the louder it yells, until some other demon thinks it is being called in turn. And so on. Selfridge called this pandemonium.

He used this idea to explain and model the way perceptual systems recognize stuff. For example, the letter R has one vertical line, a "belly" on the upper right, and a "leg" on the lower right. When "feature demons" whose names are "vertical," "belly," and "leg" (and others with names like "one," "upper right," and "lower right") hear their names being called, they begin to to call to the "cognitive demons." The cognitive demons named B and D, for example, may each prick up their ears, since they are "sensitized" to such calls as are given out by the vertical and belly demons. K may be listening, because it is listening for the calls of the vertical and leg demons. But only the R demon recognizes the calls of all three. So while B, D, and K may be calling out to the "decision demon," it will be R who calls the loudest.

As Doctor C. George Boeree says, "This may seem rather silly, but pandemonium provides a very good model for much of what goes on in the mind. The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, for example: You are trying to think of the name of that actress in Moulin Rouge. Her name starts with an N, you are certain. Nancy, Nadene, Norah, Natalie... damn. You could say the N demon is yelling, and several names are responding. Nicole! That's it: Nicole Kidman. "

How about the poets amongst us seeking out a rhyme or a particular work, metaphor even - think of the connections.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Explaining the Unexplainable - Kiyoshi Ito

Dead Beat notes that Kiyoshi Ito, a mathematician whose innovative models of random motion are used today in fields as diverse as finance and biology, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Kyoto, Japan. He was 93.

Ito is known for his contributions to probability theory, the study of randomness. His work, starting in the 1940s, built on the earlier breakthroughs of Albert Einstein and Norbert Wiener. Mr. His mathematical framework for describing the evolution of random phenomena came to be known as the Ito Calculus.

“People all over realized that what Ito had done explained things that were unexplainable before.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can You Feel Your Life? William Claxton 1928-2008

Dead Beat notes that William Claxton has gone to take pictures of all the jazz greats who lived before him.

D.B. is in awe of your photos, W.C. May your Brownie capture the stars.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

White Cube

Bet you didn't know this:

Damien Hirst’s wide-ranging practice – installations, sculpture, painting and drawing – has sought to challenge the boundaries between art, science and popular culture. His energy and inventiveness, and his consistently visceral, visually arresting work, has made him a leading artist of his generation. Hirst explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal through unexpected and unconventional media. Best known for the ‘Natural History’ works, which present animals in vitrines suspended in formaldehyde such as the iconic The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) and Mother and Child Divided (1993), his works recast fundamental questions concerning the meaning of life and the fragility of biological existence. For Hirst, the vitrine functions as both window and barrier, seducing the viewer into the work visually while providing a minimalist geometry to frame, contain and objectify his subject. In many of the sculptures of the 1990s, such as The Acquired Inability to Escape (1991) and The Asthmatic Escaped (1992) a human presence was implied through the inclusion of relic-like objects: clothes, cigarettes, ashtrays, tables and chairs. That implied human presence became explicit in Ways of Seeing (2000), a vitrine sculpture with a figure of a laboratory technician seated at a desk looking through a microscope. The more celebratory work Hymn (2000), a polychrome bronze sculpture, reveals the anatomical musculature and internal organs of the human body on a monumental scale. Hirst is equally renowned for his paintings. These include his ‘Butterfly Paintings’, tableaux of actual butterflies suspended in paint, or in Amazing Revelations (2003), for instance, he arranged thousands of butterfly wings in a mandala-like pattern. His ‘Spin’ series are made with a machine that centrifugally disperses the paint steadily poured onto a shaped canvas surface, while his ‘Spot’ series have a rigorous grid of uniform sized dots. Recently, he has explored photo-realism in the ‘Fact’ paintings.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No 1 (T For Texas)

Dead Beat feels in the yodelling humour. It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Art and Democracy

So Damien, the great democrat, has auctioned off his new work for US$125 million in his first session at Sotheby's on Monday with more to come. Sotheby's said Monday's total of $127 million smashed the $20 million record for a single artist set in 1993 for 88 works by Pablo Picasso. Hirst, who believed his auction to be a more democratic way to sell art, was of course overjoyed for all those who care for art: "I love art, and this proves I'm not alone and the future looks great for everyone."

My old buddy Charles Thompson the Stuckist understands this better than most: "Sometime in the future people will be laughing their heads off at all this. Actually, quite a lot of people are right now. One of them is Damien Hirst, on his way to the bank."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Right To Expect

"David was, of course, a great figure in American letters," Gary Kates, dean of Pomona College, said in a statement. "We knew when we hired him what an accomplished writer he was, but what we had no right to expect was what a brilliant teacher he would turn out to be ... that's what was so unusual about David, and that's what marks the extent of our loss."

David Foster Wallace 1962-2008

Dead Beat is a brief eight months younger and a lot less the wiser.
Miss you already.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tom Waits Dublin 2008

Need Dead Beat say more?

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Last Gig was Smoking - You Can't Steal Culture

"So I'm talking to you Stooge as the Igg told me to."

"Yeah, my Gibson, heartbreaking."

"Go on."

""Her last gig was smoking. Igg was going off and the Montreal people were pumped up."

"Then they stole it."

"They tried to steal the show. Thing is D.B. You can't steal the show from the Igg and the Gib. Can't be done."

Listen up you thieves of culture. It can't be done. The Gib's the Gib.

It's A Callous World - Dead Beat and Iggy Pop Talk About the Weird Stuff

"Pops, talk to me. They stole your gear."

"Montreal D.B. You know how it goes."

"But all the same. To steal the gear of The Igg."

"Talk to my man, Stooge, Mike Watt, they took his Gibson."

"It's a callous world Pops."

"Isn't that what I have been trying to tell you?"

"So all the weird stuff?"

"Yeah, all that. All that to tell you it is a callous world. Don't you work the same way D. B.?"

"You know how it goes."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Iggy and the Other Stuff

So Iggy's on the blower. "Hey Dead Beat, you still alive?"

"What's up Pop? You dead?"


"'member the good old days?"


"Yeah, fun stuff. What you been doing?"

"Keeping alive."

"So tell me about thre music demons."

"It's really boring hear this, because most people don't get it. But the very simple, carefully cut architecture of the songwriting is what makes it possible to really relax to the point where your little angels and demons come out, and things get nutty. I know the set list backwards and forward. If I wanna change that, I internalize that. Then, you're free for the other stuff."

Igg, my man, that's how I write, don't you know it?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Haven't Practised Regularly in Decades

Dead Beat already loves it: An Italian architect said he is poised to start construction on a new skyscraper in Dubai that will be "the world's first building in motion," an 80-storey tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the Persian Gulf and the city's futuristic skyline. A few penthouse villas would spin on command using a voice-activated computer. The motion of the rest of the building would be choreographed in patterns that could be altered over time.

Speaking at a news conference in New York on Tuesday, the building's designer, David Fisher, declared that his tower will revolutionize the way skyscrapers are made - a claim that might strike some as excessively bold. Fisher acknowledges that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and hasn't practised architecture regularly in decades.

Way to go, Fisher, D.B. shouts

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits

The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV

Take it away George:

I love words. I thank you for hearing my words.
I want to tell you something about words that I think is important.
They're my work, they're my play, they're my passion.
Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid.
then we assign a word to a thought and we're stuck with that word for
that thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the same
words that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.
There are some people that are not into all the words.
There are some that would have you not use certain words.
There are 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7
of them you can't say on television. What a ratio that is.
399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageous
to be seperated from a group that large. All of you over here,you 7,
Bad Words. That's what they told us they were, remember?
"That's a bad word!" No bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions,
and words. You know the 7, don't you, that you can't say on television?
"Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits"
Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul,
curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.
"Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits"
Wow! ...and Tits doesn't even belong on the list. That is such a friendly
sounding word. It sounds like a nickname, right? "Hey, Tits, come here,
man. Hey Tits, meet Toots. Toots, Tits. Tits, Toots." It sounds like a
snack, doesn't it? Yes, I know, it is a snack. I don't mean your sexist
snack. I mean New Nabisco Tits!, and new Cheese Tits, Corn Tits,
Pizza Tits, Sesame Tits, Onion Tits, Tater Tits. "Betcha Can't Eat Just
One." That's true. I usually switch off. But I mean, that word does
not belong on the list. Actually none of the words belong on the list,
but you can understand why some of them are there. I'm not
completely insensetive to people's feelings. I can understand why
some of those words got on the list, like CockSucker and
MotherFucker. Those are heavyweight words. There is a lot going on
there. Besides the literal translation and the emotional feeling.
I mean, they're just busy words. There's a lot of syllables to contend
with. And those Ks, those are agressive sounds. They just jump out at
you like "coCKsuCKer, motherfuCKer. coCKsuCKer, motherfuCKer."
It's like an assualt on you. We mentioned Shit earlier, and 2 of the
other 4-letter Anglo-Saxon words are Piss and Cunt, which go
together of course. A little accedental humor there. The reason that
Piss and Cunt are on the list is because a long time ago, there were
certain ladies that said "Those are the 2 I am not going to say. I
don't mind Fuck and Shit but 'P' and 'C' are out.", which led to such
stupid sentences as "Okay you fuckers, I'm going to tinckle now."
And, of course, the word Fuck. I don't really, well that's more
accedental humor, I don't wanna get into that now because I think
it takes to long. But I do mean that. I think the word Fuck is a very
imprortant word. It is the beginning of life, yet it is a word we use to
hurt one another quite often. People much wiser than I am said,
"I'd rather have my son watch a film with 2 people making love
than 2 people trying to kill one another. I, of course, can agree. It is
a great sentence. I wish I knew who said it first. I agree with that but
I like to take it a step further. I'd like to substitute the word Fuck for
the word Kill in all of those movie cliches we grew up with. "Okay,
Sherrif, we're gonna Fuck you now, but we're gonna Fuck you slow."
So maybe next year I'll have a whole fuckin' ramp on the N word.
I hope so. Those are the 7 you can never say on television, under any
circumstanses. You just cannot say them ever ever ever. Not even
clinically. You cannot weave them in on the panel with Doc, and Ed,
and Johnny. I mean, it is just impossible. Forget tHose 7. They're out.
But there are some 2-way words, those double-meaning words.
Remember the ones you giggled at in sixth grade? "...And the cock
CROWED 3 times" "Hey, tha cock CROWED 3 times. ha ha ha ha. Hey, it's in
the bible. ha ha ha ha. There are some 2-way words, like it is okay for
Kirk Youdi to say "Roberto Clametti has 2 balls on him.", but he can't
say "I think he hurt his balls on that play, Tony. Don't you? He's holding
them. He must've hurt them, by God." and the other 2-way word that
goes with that one is Prik. It's okay if it happens to your finger. You
can prik your finger but don't finger your prik. No,no.

Sneakers and Cheeseburgers

So I'm shooting the breeze with George Carlin on mass suicide and ecological disaster.

"I sort of gave up on this whole human adventure a long time ago," he said. "Divorced myself from it emotionally. I think the human race has squandered its gift, and I think this country has squandered its promise. I think people in America sold out very cheaply, for sneakers and cheeseburgers. And I don't think it's fixable."

Dead Beat sighs, knows the truth of it.

Damn you George Carlin - May 12 1937- June 22 2008

Dead Beat and George Carlin had a thing going on. And now George has gone on spoiled it by dying. Well damn you George Carlin.

George, in case you young folks have forgotten, practically invented modern stand-up comedy. You know, the stand-up comic as a social commentator, rebel and truth-teller.

He talked about the injustice of Muhammad Ali's banishment from boxing for avoiding the draft — a man whose job was beating people up losing his livelihood because he wouldn't kill people: "He said, 'No, that's where I draw the line. I'll beat 'em up, but I don't want to kill 'em.' And the government said, 'Well, if you won't kill people, we won't let you beat 'em up.'"

George, go to Heaven, kill them up there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Revelations in the Literary World

"A clampdown on corruption in professional tennis is to be announced on the opening day of Wimbledon, in the wake of revelations that match-fixing and illegal betting are rife.
Investigations ordered by tennis authorities have shown that at least 45 matches played in recent years are under suspicion, as are a number of players, including some of the top international professionals...

...Organised crime poses a serious threat to a cash-rich sport, which attracts hundreds of millions in bets each year. Tennis is considered particularly vulnerable because results can be changed by just one player."

Dead Beat has known it all along. The literary world is a fix. Just one player is approached, writes a series of bad lines and hey presto...!!!

Poor image, woeful metaphor, incredible characters, and the winning prize goes to....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Shabbiness Grows - Leonard Cohen Looks Down from Mt. Baldy

D.B. "So Leonard, great show."
L.C. "Thank you."
D.B. ""You sounded great."
L.C. "It's a gift."
D.B. "Anyway Leonard, what is it you are really trying to tell us?"
L.C. "Just to get serious about this thing, you know. One has to be compassionate. It's true that people are up against things, economically and emotionally. The obstacles are great and the suffering is great and people have got to make a living. It's easy to look down from the summit you've reached, or even the summit I've reached, and talk about the responsibilities of the artist, but most people are just trying to get their foot in the door and make a living. So we've got to temper anything we say with that. On the other hand, you've got to be serious about what you do. And you've got to understand the price you pay for frivolity or just for greed--it's a very high price, especially if you're involved in this sacred material, which is about the human heart and human desire and human tragedy. If there isn't some element of seriousness in the training of the artist or in the atmosphere that surrounds the enterprise, then this shabbiness grows and eventually overwhelms it. I think that's what we're in now. It's hard to be serious about so many things. [Look at the whole emphasis] on the charts, if you're a songwriter. Over the years, I saw that arise, where people were now longer interested in the song."
D.B. "We're still interested in your songs."
L.C. (tipping his fedora) "You're too kind."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Eddy Arnold (1918-2008): A Tribute

This Lonesome Cattle Call - Eddy Arnold R.I.P.

The cattle call is a little lonesomer tonight. Dead Beat too. His writing owes a lot to Mr. Arnold and to others of his kind.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Magic of Writing

D B is going through a D B moment. David Blaine. So Chris Angel walks on water and David Blaine forgets to breath.

Meanwhile DB is coming up for air.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Haunting of D.B.

Townes has come back to haunt Dead Beat. You may have noticed.

This from Wiki:

Born in Fort Worth, Texas to an oil-wealthy family, he traveled during his youth around Texas and Colorado. He was the third-great-grandson of Isaac Van Zandt, a prominent leader of the Republic of Texas. Van Zandt County in east Texas was named after his family in 1848.
Van Zandt was being groomed for Texas governorship, but he dropped out of college in the 1960s after being inspired by singer-songwriters and deciding to pursue a singing career. He was very intelligent and was diagnosed manic-depressive in his early twenties. He was treated with insulin shock therapy, which erased much of his long-term memory. His lack of memory and his mental condition contributed to both the passion and sense of isolation evident in his songs.

This from Dead Beat: "Pancho and Lefty" will not just haunt you. It will dig up your grave and lie down next to your bones.

Townes Was A Ghost

He was going into the DTs in the hospital. They took him out of the hospital so he could drink. They had to do it. He wouldn't have even had a chance if they had left him in there. They didn't know he was going away. They had tried to dry him out years before and it almost done him in. They were warned never to try and dry him out again or let him go without booze. That sounds strange but you can really take addiction that far. Townes was a ghost. Even when he was young he was a ghost. A beauty

Monday, April 07, 2008

Leonard Cohen Interview, 1994 (Part 1)

Talk to me, Leonard. One last time.

Leonard Cohen to Play Seven Sisters Falls Community Club

So Dead Beat gets in line for his ticket to Lenny. The man himself surprised just about everyone in Canada by playing an intimate gig in Fredericton. Dead Beat of course knows better. If D.B. had not recently moved from the small village of Seven Sisters Falls on the Whitemouth river in Manitoba, the man would have been playing the Seven Sisters Falls Community Club. Nevertheless, as a mark of respect, Ol' D.B. got in line and nabbed himself a few tickets.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ailliliu ta an puc ar buile

Well gosh darn it, but that Bakin Rapscallion has to get in on the act. Not alone does he have the gall to leave a comment on The Friendship of Poetry, but he asks me, "What song(s) will you be posting for the out-going Bertie Ahern?"

Dirges, my friend, and if not, patriotic fight songs with mad ferocious goats:

Ag gabháil dom sior chun Droichead Uí Mhóradha

Píce im dhóid 's mé ag dul i meithil

Cé casfaí orm i gcuma ceoidh

[gach duine] Ach pocán crón is é ar buile...

[curfá]Ailliliú, puilliliú, ailliliú tá an puc ar buile!

Ailliliú, puilliliú, ailliliú tá an puc ar buile!

[aonréad 2]Do ritheamar trasna trí ruillógach,

Is do ghluais an comhrac ar fud na muinge,

Is treascairt do bhfuair sé sna turtóga[g.d.]

Chuas ina ainneoin ina dhrom le fuinneamh...

[aonréad 3]

Níor fhág sé carraig go raibh scót ann

Ná gur rith le fórsa chun mé a mhilleadh,

S'Ansan sea do cháith sé an léim ba mhó.[g.d.]

Le fána mhór na Faille Bríce...


[aonréad 4]Bhí garda mór i mBaile an Róistigh

Is bhailigh fórsa chun sinn a chlipeadh

Do bhuail sé rop dá adhairc sa tóin ann[g.d.]

S'dá bhríste nua do dhein sé giobail...

[aonréad 5]

I nDaingean Uí Chúis le haghaidh an tráthnóna

Bhí an sagart paróiste amach 'nár gcoinnibh

Is é dúirt gurbh é an diabhal ba Dhóigh leis[g.d.]

A ghaibh an treo ar phocán buile...

The Friendship of Poetry

Brave - by Terrence Young

We were looking at the moon, a full one it seemed, though there
was some discussion about that, about which day precisely and for

how long, until it was decided it was okay to say the moon was
full as long as we knew we might be mistaken, a compromise

which satisfied everybody and allowed us to return to our quiet
lunar observations while a CD of Latin music played through the

outside speakers, each of the songs full, too, of swooping, senseless
lyrics that probably wouldn’t have made us want to cry if we’d known

what they were saying, but we didn’t, content, as we were with the
moon, to act on empirical facts alone—what looked full, what

sounded sad. The sea battered Mexico’s volcanic coast like a
ruminant horned beast that refused to give up the fight. Across the

bay, a flag we originally thought the size of a soccer field hung in
the moonlit air, not fluttering as flags are said to do in a breeze, but

coiling and uncoiling the way a snake might if it were flattened out
to the thickness of silk and suspended from a pole. These three

things—the rising moon, the waves, the undulations of the flag—
didn’t bring to mind anything so grand as Arnold’s “ebb and flow

of human misery,” but aligned seaward as we all were on our chaiselounges—
my son, my daughter, my wife and I—our legs extended,

backs upright, heads tilted to the sky, I couldn’t help thinking—maybe
it was the Spanish refrain, I don’t know, some hint of a hopeless cause

like love or war about to begin—that the four of us were courageous,
though not in the way heroes are said to be courageous, those people

who snatch small children from debris in the middle of swollen rivers,
but brave as my mother used the term on those occasions when another

pet sank beneath the soil of our back garden, or when on a morning
of rain and gloom I walked out the front door to school, lunch kit in

hand, the drawstrings of my hood pulled tight around my face, another
pointless day with the substitute teacher. “You’re a brave boy,” she’d

say, and I believed her, as I believed my family was brave simply for
sitting there on that tropical evening, like passengers on an ocean liner

who had left behind a country on the brink of ruin only to discover there
was no safe port left in the world, no haven that would take them in.

Speaking of Song

Well Dead Beat said his goodbyes to Patricia and Terrence Young over wine and song. And speaking of song:

Ruin and Beauty - by Patricia Young

It's so quiet now the children have decided to stop
being born. We raise our cups in an empty room.
In this light, the curtains are transparent as gauze.
Through the open window we hear nothing--
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city's traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.

The brick school at the five points crosswalk
is drenched in morning glory.
Its white flowers are trumpets
festooning this coastal town.
Will the eventual forest rise up
and remember our footsteps? Already
seedlings erupt through cement,
crabgrass heaves through cracked marble,
already wolves come down from the hills
to forage among us. We are like them now,
just another species looking to the stars
and howling extinction.

They say the body accepts any kind of sorrow,
that our ancestors lay down on their stomachs
in school hallways, as children they lay down
like matches waiting for a nuclear fire.

It wasn't supposed to end like this:
all ruin and beauty, vines waterfalling down
a century's architecture; it wasn't supposed to end
so quietly, without fanfare or fuss,
a man and woman collecting rain in old coffee tins. Darling,
the wars have been forgotten.
These days our quarrels are only with ourselves.
Tonight you sit on the edge of the bed loosening your shoes.
The act is soundless, without future
weight. Should we name this failure?
Should we wake to the regret at the end of time
doing what people have always done
and say it was not enough?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nick Drake - Day is Done

D. B. is drawn to death and decay. Nick D. fits the mood.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ronnie Drew - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Ah that old Con Houlihan has made Dead Beat all meloncholy.

ballad of ronnie drew

Poets Are Born Not Paid

So I ask Houlihan about Paddy Kav. Dead Beat is starved for the stories, you see.

"I was lucky," he tells me. " I discovered Patrick Kavanagh at an early age, first in The Irish Press -- and later in magazines. Here was real poetry -- and it was about the world that I knew. In later life he used to say that he should have remained in Monaghan rather than come to Dublin. He would have made a fortune in smuggling during the war years -- or so he said. Of course he wouldn't -- some people are born not to make fortunes.

He came to Dublin because he wished to meet people with whom he could converse. Back in Monaghan he had plenty of neighbours who could talk all day and night -- but not about poetry.
Dublin attracted him as London had attracted Samuel Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith -- it was an intellectual capital -- kind of. It wasn't the heartland of mental and spiritual ferment that Kavanagh had visualised -- in many ways it was a petty town. Times were bad: most people were poorly paid -- and worked at jobs they deemed beneath them. There was much bitterness, born out of frustration. Kavanagh encountered back biting and front biting. In his own words, "The standing army of Irish poets was never less than five hundred." Alas -- many of them weren't poets at all. "Poets are born, not made" is an old saying. It could be rewritten as "Poets are born, not paid."

Mary Had A Little Mule

Houlihan goes on: Of course as children we loved those poems, even though we knew they were only nonsense verses. Here is my favourite.
"Mary had a little mule, one day he followed her to school.
"The teacher like a fool, went up behind the mule
"And hit it with a rule. There wasn't any school."

All Children Love Poetry

Dead Beat was wandering through the back streets of Dublin when who should he meet but his old croony Con Houlihan.

"Con," Dead Beat begins, "what's the state of Irish poetry these days. I get a bit lost being far removed in the wilds of New Brunswick."

"Thing is Dead Beat," C.H. confides, "You're an adult. Adults are best sent to New Brunswick. All children love poetry; not all grown-ups do. Somehow it gets lost on the way -- William Wordsworth explained why. It might be more correct to say that children love rhyme. Without it they would hardly be so enthralled.
We will take an example.
"Halt, halt" the robber cried
"And hand me out your riches".
"I can't, I can't" the man replied
"For I'm holding up my britches."
If you took out "britches" and put in "pants" it wouldn't be funny at all. Rhyme creates the magic.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hudson and Horace Get Oscar Hunger

Hudson and Horace are back. It's that time of year they tell me. Oscar night approaching.

"Didn't the writers give up on that?" I ask.

Hudson shakes his head. "No, Dad. They came back for that."

"No principles!"

"You ought to know, D.B."

"Hudson! I have never, NEVER, do you hear me, prostituted my writing for fame."

"Couldn't if you tried, you mean."

"Damn you, dog, it's outside and twenty below for you tonight. I'll show you couldn't if I tried. Now out you get. OUT, I say. HUDSON... HUDSON..."

"Couldn't if you tried."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dead Beat Hangs Out With Ginsberg and Neal Cassady

Cassady is easy to find. Dead Beat is a little more illusive. Check out behind the bookshelves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Dead Beat is devestated. He woke up this morning to learn that he may have lost the gift of the gab. The authenticity of the Blarney Stone has apparantly been questioned by Mark Samuel, an archaeologist and architectural historian, and Kate Hamlyn in a new book. The authors say the present stone only came into use in 1888 for health and safety reasons. Up until then, visitors wishing to kiss the stone had to be dangled from the castle by two people holding their ankles. Dead Beat will have you know that he too was dangled upside down by two people holding his ankles without the slightest health concern, not even when they let his ankles go.

Meanwhile marketing manager John Fogarty is having none of this: Mr Fogarty said that the stone is a piece of the Scone Stone, the pillow stone said to have been used by the biblical Jacob. The part of the stone that came to Blarney was given to an Irish king, Cormac MacCarthy, by Scotland's Robert the Bruce.

Cormac MacCarthy! That well known recluse. That pre-Oprah days wouldn't say a word to anyone. Well then it must be true. The stone must be a fake. And all that Mr Fogarthy, marketing manager of the Blarney Stone, says is ...well...just... blarney.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Life in the Ashram

Dead Beat remembers his time well hanging out with John and Paul and George (Ringo had already gone home for his egg and chips) in the ashram in Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Dressed in my best Eastern robe and sporting my best drooping moustache we sat cross-legged and wore garlands of flowers. We levitated for sure. Higher and higher.

Anyway, the Maharashi, levitated his body right out of this world this week, but his spirit soars on.

By the way, listen to Ol D.B.'s backing vocals on Sexie Sadie - never earned a cent from it - those old misers.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bertie - The Completion is not the End

So Dead Beat has been diligent in taking his class of Double Speak 101.

"So Patrick Bart. When you said what you said, did you say what you thought you might have said?"

"Good point Dead Beat. I just took it up wrong. If it sounded any way complicated yesterday, I was just trying to make it clear. I understood from my own advisers that Revenue couldn't resolve this issue until the tribunal was over. That's what I took up from my own advisers.
And when I said that in public last week, they contacted me and said I was wrong in that. They said that it's when Revenue come to complete it. I thought completion meant 'the end'. Sorry if there was any misunderstanding."

"No misunderstanding, there is no end to this. We have all got that clear."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

If I Did Say What I said, I Didn't Say It

Dead Beat as you know has a passing interest in the use of language. Whenever he needs any help at all you know who he turns to - the great wordsmith himself - that's right Patrick Bartholomew, director of CelticTigerLand.

So at a loss for words yesterday, he enrols in DoubleSpeak 101.

"So P.B. do you have a tax bill arising from the , ah, 'dig-outs'?"

"Now Dead Beat, The position taken by the Revenue is that they can't finalise it until Mahon's work is finished. I mean, that's fine by me. I have no difficulty with that, I have no difficulty with the Revenue position."

"Got you, P.B. Now what did you really mean to say?"

"It is not correct -- if I said so I wasn't correct. I can't recall if I did say it. But I did not say, or if I did say it, I didn't mean to say it, that these issues could not be dealt with until the end of the Mahon Tribunal."

"Got you again. Or maybe I haven't got you, but if I have, I am sure I have you all wrong if that is correct at all."

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Spiritually Bankrupt and The Utterly Tedious

The Stuckists of course are committed not just to painting but to writing also. A few things they have to say:

"There is popular writing known as the blockbuster or airport novel but this is considered trash by the critics. Then there is the writing by pseudo-intellectuals which is very popular with the critics but considered even worse trash by us.

Contemporary writing is cowardly and unchallenging because squalor is tedious not remarkable. If you find yourself in a rubbish bin the only interesting narrative is how to climb out, not how ill you can make yourself by ingesting it.

The writer can only write what he knows about him/her self. To develop as a writer you must develop as a person.

In any period that the writer lives he/she has to say the wrong thing to get it right.

One of the worst things a writer can do is conceive of themselves as a writer whilst writing. The best writing is written by human beings. Besides what kind of an idiot would want to be anything other than a human being? (This is especially true of poetry and poets).

The main advantage of contemporary literature over current established visual art is that it attracts less media attention and is therefore easier to ignore.

On inspection there would appear to be fewer problems with contemporary writing than with contemporary visual arts, but both have the problem of being spiritually bankrupt. (Except poetry, which on the whole has the problem of being utterly tedious).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Last Chance Saloon - The Husband Will do As He's Told

Dead Beat is in mourning.

According to the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), more than 1,000 rural pubs have closed in the last four years. VFI president Paul Stevenson called on publicans to introduce a range of changes, such as providing ethnic food to attract immigrants and turning their premises into internet cafes during the daytime. "I think the day of standing behind your counter expecting customers to come in is finished. The pub is now in the hospitality industry. We have to realise that and move on." He also said that traditional pubs should look into making their function rooms available for dance classes, choir practice and even school homework clubs. It was also in their interest to provide a better range of wines for women because "the female will choose the pub to go to, and the husband will do as he's told."

What's that Mrs. Dead Beat?.... Why yes of course...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Get Stuck In

So Dead Beat is still stuck on Stuckism. Over Christmas he's been reading the Stuckist manifesto for light reading. Charles Thompson even popped in to say "You’re welcome."

Got an hour or two to spare, finished all those Best Novels of the Year, wondering what to read next... Get stuck in.