Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Did I wait for Summer?

Having known the sheer joy of winning a World Series makes the situation with my beloved White Sox even worse. If I were a fan of the woebegotten Cubs and I could understand this blundering mess but these are the White Sox. Most of the players were on our Championship team and we got swept- in the Cell- by the Cubs.

Most people outside Chicago do not understand the difference between Cubs Fans and Sox Fans. If you are an optimist you are a Cubs fan- wait till next year fun in the Sun- clean sidewalks. If you are a Sox fan you are pessimist, after my leg is chopped off in the smelter I will have a beer and get liver cancer and then go home to my little house. Sox fans however have something that Cubs fans do not they are really thick skinned and thick bodied. I wish in my heart I could be one of the pretty people at the shrine in Lakeview but I am too dark and too thick for that.

I have to say that I looked forward to this season- a year away from our championship- we won 90 games last year and looked good in spring training. But why do I waste my time watching this team? Why do I listen on the radio and why do I continue? Because of Luke Appling. Luke Appling, the greatest White Sox shortstop ever- from a franchise that produced Chico Charesequel, Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Guillen was the only reason Sox fans went to Comiskey Park in the 1930's and 40's. He played his hardest everyday for a terrible team. In the end it is because Sox fans are stoic and we like our pain quiet that I remain loyal and I think of Luke Appling hitting 388 for a team in 4th place. I think of my first game- meeting Bill Veeck and
I abide in my fandom.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Misogyny and Manliness

Being masculine is not something that is held up as a virtue today.

The reality is that being masculine has become a parody of itself. A parody of Iron John or ESPN or male bonding and as far away from the kind of thing that truly is masculine.

In feminist circles there has been a rediscovery of the Goddess. The Goddess is an essential human thing that has been ignored or crushed by our society in the west for a long time. It comes out of course in the person of say Mary the Virgin or Shakespeare but in the end it is the Feminist scholars who have resurrected this reality for us.

But among men and in discussing the spirituality of Masculinity we get mostly garbage. A few attempts have been made. Robert Bly and his Iron John tried but became parody. On the right there is allot of talk about Masculinity but it usually ends up in Misogyny or ourright woman hatred. So where we we go to reclaim our Mithras as the Women are reclaiming their Cybele or Isis?

In my life I have had great Male role models who were masculine but never misogynists and who have been guides for me. I think that we as men need to look to models like the ones I have seen.

I am working on a new book of poems that are about and around Leni Reifenstahl and her work. Nazism is the best manifestation of Misogyny and Homo Erotic Manlove that has ever existed. Reifenstahl is the best example of this aesthetic. What becomes evident in her work is that the men are masculine but never caring, they are models but never warm. Reifenstahl's men are to real males as drag queens are to real women, they are in fact false parodies.

This is kind of like the masculinists I see today in our world. Some Harvard professor wrote a book Manliness- it made me sick. When I think I masculiness I think about the soldiers of World War I and in particular my Great Grandfather Emanuele Guerra. He was an Alpino and Italian mountain soldier and after he was captured by the Austrians he was put in a cement cell where one of his hands froze off. I also think about someone like Vladimir Horowitz a craftsman who was fine in all he did. Husbandry, Craft, Stoicism, Solidity these are male virtues that are in fact the opposite of the parody. In the end the parody is oppression. The doltish stupid beer swilling woman hater at hooters is wrong and we Males have allowed it to florish because we are weak and because we refuse to be uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


After a reading last night by Mark Tardi and Stefania Heim a bunch of us went out and one of the myriad of discussions was about evil- and can it exist? Simone Muench asserted that to have evil you need a God creation and you need to have the kind of world-view that allows for mysticism and the spiritual as active forces.

I may be very Medieval but I think that evil and good are tied together in the same way that flesh is filled with cells. It may sound very Gnostic but
without the Ascetic imperative all of life becomes weakness. While I myself am a very bad ascetic- in fact I can be a glutton-it is the imperative of the ascetic that stands in the face of evil and makes things clean.

I have always been moved by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 2nd and 3rd Centuries in Egypt. Antony of the Desert who was one of the first Monks talks about going to one's Cell an wrestling with evil and that in that silence we face God and are purified. The kind of asceticism that Antony felt was important is not valued in American culture. We are good at 'playing' buddhist or listening to the lauds in our homes but we are not very good and denying the flesh
to purge ourselves and see what could be gained from a lack of softness. We are in fact a soft people. Our religion, the Evangelical variety or banal Catholic is a religion of the soft and the accomodated.

It is out of the Ascetic Imperative before evil that greatness arises. In the 2-3rd Centuries the Monks of the Desert stood silently against Rome and persecution with this asceticism. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Kabbalists, the Sufis and the Franciscans all with the same motives but different expressions stood against evil and created out of a hard time glories. These ascetic
responses are remembered but who today remembers the exploits of Crusaders or Saracens? But everyone knows who Isaac Luria, St Francis or Rumi are. In the 19th century in America the Shakers, the Abolitionists, the Knights of Labor and more stood in ascetic witness against evil and made a change. And in our times Martin King, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Charles De Foucould, Mother Teresa, did the same. Asceticism before evil.

It was argued that Evil may be the result of brain dysfunction.

I am not so sure that we can let those who allow systemic evil and who take advantage of their lack of empathy off that easily. Can we dismiss the Genocide in Darfur as the result of brain problems or trauma done to the perpetrators? I think in the end without Evil there is no place for Metanoia.

That is the key is it not?

Metanoia, a profound change of heart, is essential for any prophetic voice before evil. All too often banality and vapidity are accepted. We do not challenge people to have a Metanoia. Gandhi was the biggest proponent of this he said that if one faces evil and creates a tension with evil and forces evil to look at itself good has won. What Gandhi wanted was to create in his oppressors a change of heart without evil Gandhi's project was a fools errand but it worked how do we explain that?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The End of the Sopranos

David Chase the creator of the Soprano's was born David De Cesare-he felt it was neccessary to succeed in Hollywood not to have an Italian name.

I mention this because this Sunday is the last new episode of the Sopranos. It immediately becomes a hacknied thing when Italian Americans complain about our portrayal in American culture. The fact that two supreme court justices, CEOs, Poets, Artists, Singers and Authors are all Italian Americans is lost to most Americans.

Most Americans want to think of us as Don Corleones. The reality is that there are people you can be bigoted against in American society without any consequences. If you created a TV series about New York Jews who were money grubbing Shylocks the outrage would be loud and the series would be off the air.

If you created a series about African Americans that played on those stereotypes again there would be outrage.

But do a series on Italian American mobsters in New Jersey- no problem. Stereotype Catholics, Mormons, Arabs, Evangelical Christians, Rural People, Working Class People not a problem. If you did the same things to other groups you are a Bigot- but you stereotype these people and make millions.

HBO seems to have a penchant for this. After the Soprano's they are debuting the new season of Big Love- which promotes the stereotype of the another group, Mormons as polygamists. The fact that the Mormon church has not had polygamy since 1890 should not get in the way of a good story.

I have to say that I have enjoyed and been engrossed by the various Mafia movies. The issue is not freedom of expression or the need to tell that story which is part of our history. The issue is the cost of stereotypes for groups that are not protected by our new political correctness.

America has become a victim society. We have affirmative action for all kinds of groups and reasons. We treat the descendants of Slaves- who deserve reparations for true oppression-with rich white women as oppressed groups. While other groups who have also been oppressed are taken advantage of over and over again is this justice?

Should not we be honest with ourselves? If we like stereotypes- and want to use them for profit should we not be free to use them all? Why all the political correctness?

Follow the money.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sexy Poets

At a recent gathering at my house Chicago Poet Daniel Borzutky mentioned that Andersonville- a Chicago neighborhood is full- of Sexy poets. I began to think about this stable of sexy bards......
Robyn Schiff, Nick Twemblow, Jen Scappettone, Chicu Reddy, Suzanne Buffam are all part of this sexy scene
Finding sexy poets is difficult in America- many american poets are socially awkward or are simply losers who use poetry as a social shield against the reality that no one really cares what they think or do. No body gets all hot and bothered about Ron Silliman or Gertrude Stein- they just do not elicit the hormonal response.
The conventional sexy poet can become boring quickly and most of them have names like Cate, Rodrigo or Joshua. I prefer poets who have a little damage to them and a bit more flesh. There are whole anthologies of Sexy Poets- like Legitimate Dangers, no ugly fat poets in that book. As a fat ugly poet I felt descriminated against but I ate Veal and liked it.......
In the end the sexy poet's are the belle's of the ball- especially in poet-land where so many poets are awkward and odd. Chicago is blessed however to add to the sexy list above
many other sexy poets, Simone Muench, southern fried sexy, Chris Glomski, sexissimo, Bill Allegrezza sheer Italian passionman.
So come to Chicago and see the Sexy poets....