Friday, December 24, 2010

The Incarnation and Bookstores

Normally on Christmas Eve I post the first lines from the Gospel of John about the word becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us. The fact is that the one thing about Christianity- the Roman Catholic kind in my case- that makes it different from other great religions is that we believe that God lived as a person and died for all of us. That God understands intimately what it means to be human and that His incarnation sancifies life and the world. The idea of Incarnation or taking the flesh is essential not only to our faith as Christians but it also means something else all people are equal in the eyes of God and should be so in the eyes of people.
The idea of becoming flesh, in fact becoming real is essential as we venture more and more into a virtual world. Everything seems to be digitized and everything is being reduced to code and the next victim of this could be the bookstore.
As the owner of over 5000 books and a collector of the same the idea that I will never again get to spend a Saturday afternoon trolling the front table at Seminary Co-op in Chicago or looking through the drawers of Chapbooks at Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee or working through the stacks at Powells in Portland, Oregon is a fate worse than say the destruction of Parma, Italy with its great Hams and Cheeses. It is just a sad thing.
I am not a Luddite. I am writing a blog post right now. I love the internet and my iPod but the idea that my books as friends would not be on shelves, full of memories loved and used as they were meant to be is something that I cannot believe that bibliophiles will allow to happen. Right now I am looking at my shelves.
There is a first edition of Robert Duncan's poetry that I bought with my food money at Murphy Brookfield Books in Iowa City. A 1938 section of the Cantos of Ezra Pound that I bought in New York. In the American Tree by Ron Silliman, the Anthology that made me want to write poetry. The Memoir of Pablo Neruda... Clayton Eshelman's wonderful translations of Vallejo that made me want to be a translator and of course Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain which made me remain an angry but obedient Roman Catholic.
How would I consume all of these on my iPad again and again??
In the end for me Bookstores and Books are like the Incarnation. Books with us. Not something apart or distant but a created thing in my hands that has a history and a future. We can embrace technology but must everything be reduced to code?
Merry Christmas, God With Us, Preserve our Books and let us Continue to Have our Friends on our Shelves.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Future of Poetry without Serendipity

One of the first thinkers to use the Codex which is the immediate ancestor of the book was the Christian philosopher Origen. He translated the Old Testament and put it in columns so that your could read the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek across the page. It was a great triumph for which he was a Doctor of the Church until someone in the early Middle Ages declared him a heretic. but that said the book has been a part of our lives for over 1800 years.
Now we face a challenge. You cannot deny that the e book and the iPad and its kin are a great thing but this great thing might have a very destructive impact. The book is a way for the poet or writer to control what he/she has written. The author decides what goes in and what says out and this means that it is a work of art not a newspaper article.
The problem with the e book and its kin is that the author, the artist, loses control over her own work. Another problem is the death of Serendipity. If you want to make an analogy when I was younger it was possible to go to record store (CD's also) and browse and get suggestions from an actual person on a new band or music group.
Serendipity is also essential for books and poets.
Imagine a world where all poetry is electronic. Where in order to find poetry or novels for that manner that are only generated by electronic media. Imagine a time when the bookstore and the physical book no longer exist? This means for us that the chance finding of a new author or new type of reading will also no longer exist. What does this mean for the future of literature?
I would argue that the book as object as a work of art is too important to not be discussed? Someone out there tell me what is the solution? Or are we all okay with this change?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Everything For Sale? Standing with Liu Xiao Bo

Carl von Ossietzky won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936. He was also not allowed to recieve it in person. von Ossietzky was not allowed to recieve the prize by a new and dynamic political system that also viewed "national sovereignty" as more important than the rights of the individual. He died in a Nazi labor camp of a heart attack after being abused for being a pacifist.

The difference between what happened in 1936 and what happened in 2010 with Chinese poet Liu Xiao Bo is that Germany was never as powerful as China is today or will be in the future.

I have been to China many times and there is not a more creative or harder working people but like the German people who are also creative and hard working they are victims of a system that preaches National Renewal while ignoring human rights. People are regularly imprisoned for going to Mass, or writing poetry or asking for the most basic human rights. The Chinese have unfettered Capitalism with none of the human rights that should come with that system.

The problem with what happened to both von Ossietzky and Liu is that out of fear the free peoples of world's response has been muted and quiet because of fear of the oppressing government's financial power. Yes, I know that President Obama said that he supported Liu and I know that President Roosevelt's administration decried the death of von Ossietzky's death in a Nazi labor camp in 1936 but that was not enough then or now.

I am writing this blog post on a computer made in China. My clothes are made in China. My iPod is made in China and the money in my bank account was loaned to the US government by China. Unlike the 1930's it is impossible to boycott China or Chinese things as it was with German things but the principal is the same. The Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the UN Charter should not be sold out because the Chinese might be offended. Or they might foreclose on America. It is often said that China is the future. Does the future include being put in a Labor Camp for writing poetry, working as a journalist and asking for China to become a multi party democracy?

That is why Mr Liu is in a Labor Camp.

It is time that we in the Free world, the inheritors of the legacy of Washington, Jefferson, Voltaire, Mazzini, Bolivar, King, Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi ask ourselves are our cheap iPods worth supporting a regime that regularly imprisons people for asking for basic human rights?

I realize that by saying this I might offend the Chinese. But, I choose to stand with Mr Liu. And ask when will this end and when will offense stop being used to justify oppression?

Or is everything for sale?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Big Lie and America.

Its been a while since I blogged. I have been thinking about what we have learned about America since the elections and the results have made me depressed. I remember once when I was in College at Iowa that Professor Lane Davis, one of my favorite professors, said that the difference between America and Europe is that when we had economic crisises our country produced Franklin Roosevelt and Germany produced Hitler and that America would never succomb to totalitarianism and the big lie.

He was clearly wrong.

President Obama has not been as effective as I would have liked but when you compare his first two years in office (Health Care Reform, Saving GM and making billions, Financial Reform,) with President GW Bush's first two years (Allowing the largest Terrorist Attack in US History, The patriot act, Guantanamo) it becomes almost crazy to think that the American people rebuked president Obama but the difference is the Big Lie.

In the United States we now have a media that is created in the image and likeness of the Big Lie. Hitler created this idea and it has become part of Right Wing culture in America. President Obama has been attacked since the first day of his presidency by all manner of hate and yet no one seems to be able to break the hold of the Big Lie Media on a large percentage of the American populace.

In the 1930's the Big Lie was used in Germany to demonize the Jews and Communists when the real culprit of the Depression was the Rich, Industrialists and Militarists. Again today the Big Lie is being used to demonize people to cover up the real culprits. It has become obvious that the Fox Media Complex's objective is to destroy president Obama but it also has another goal it seems, promoting the rise of China.

If you compare what Fox and the Right Wing Media does it is authoritarian. In many ways the Right in America likes what the Chinese leadership is doing. There are no Unions in China. There are no environmental or workers rights in China. In China government and business's goals are revenue. It seems to me that the Big Lie in America is being used to promote that Agenda.

So as we look forward to two more years of the Big Lie before their candidate, Sarah Palin, is elected president remember this name, Franz Von Papen. he was the last democratically elected Chancellor of Germany in the 1930's. My old professor Lane Davis's believe that America was different has been proven wrong and the Big Lie is now central to what makes America, America.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel Prizes that Matter

Most of our lives are spent doing little things. We are not world figures and we are not important we work at jobs that do not change the world. But, sometimes we get a glimpse of something transcentant. When I worked in Bolivia as a volunteer after college I met such trancendant people. People who left every petty thing that mattered to make a difference. I met people who had left everything- like in the Gospels- to achieve the right.
This morning Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Prize for Peace. China is a nation that everyone wants to mollify because they are rich and growing. We all want to make sure that we do not miss out of our part in the real, spectacular rise of this nation. But, China has a darker side and Liu Xiaobo chose to give his freedom to ask the simple question why?
Today Liu sits in prison. He is in prison for asking for Freedom of the Press, Religion and Association. He is not afraid. His is a Nobel Prize that Matters. Amid all the noise about the rise of China Liu asks that what the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen apply to China. Liu we are all with you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

President Obama What Are You Doing in Martha's Vineyard?

Today in the New York Times, Frank Rich's column again exposed the reactionaries who are backing the Tea Party, Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers et al. Their goals are nothing less than a Libertarian America where "small government" means that the Federal Government's role in education, medical care, old age pensions (that is what Social Security is by the Way), regulating Wall Street, and the Environment is reduced to nothing and "business" is allowed to do whatever it feels is right. They want America to be as "Free" as it was in the 1890's yet without the industry or jobs.

I write this blogpost not only as a poet/thinker but as a person who works in business. I know from my own experience that the only thing that drives business is profit. The only way that this profit motive can be ameliorated is to have the government set rules and regulate and protect the People from a global economy that is set up to get the most money for the least amount invested. Other countries understand this in Brazil if you want to sell your products you need to build a plant and employ Brazilians. In China you need to invest in China. What do we ask of companies here in America except for a stupid tax system that crushes innovation?

For most of the past 30 years Conservatives have advocated the "Free Market" which means in reality that American businesses could move their plants anywhere and they did not owe anything to this society. The result has been some good things we are a very innovative society with some great new high tech industry.

That was a good result of Conservative economics but there are other realities; we are also a society that starting to look more and more like an oligarchy. Just ask people in places like Flint, Michigan or Rockford, IL what the Free Market means to them? Is a nation divided like this what America should be?

Germany by contrast, you know they practice the kind of European "socialism" so abhorred by the Tea Partiers, are growing and they do not have cities like Flint or Rockford. They decided years ago to create a model where Unions, Businesses and Education work together closely, to create a highly educated industrial workforce. The Brazilians are growing leaps and bounds and they require that foreign companies build industrial plants in their nation.

Germany is the country that exports the most high end products in the world. And they also have 100% medical coverage for all of their workers and Education and training is reasonably priced. In the USA in contrast a college degree averages $ 75,000 dollars and there is nowhere to get retrained for older workers. The Germans have avoided the social dislocation that is destroying America and there is no Tea Party movement in Germany that urges the destruction of this "oppressive system".

It is easy for the Germans to have an austerity budget as they are doing now because they have invested so much in their society. Just fly to Frankfurt, descend the plane and get on a high speed train to another city and look around- sure we blew up all their old stuff --but tell me an American city with German infrastructure? Certainly not any of the 'business friendly' cities that Republicans like to tout in Texas or Florida? They have invested and we have spent on the ephemeral.

So why does the Tea Party and their philosophy that has de-industrialized and de-invested in America have so much strength in America? As Frank Rich talks about in his column very rich men have financed these ideas. The Coors Family, the Koch Family and many others have been trying since the 1950's to destroy any progressive consensus.

These same powers and their friends realized that Barack Obama was a real threat to their control of economic policy in America and so they made sure that America's misery was blamed not on those who caused it- Wall Street and the Deregulators- but onto others Immigrants, "liberals" and mostly President Obama.

President Obama is not a victim. He and his supporters have chosen not to fight back and to allow themselves to be defined by their enemies. Unlike President Roosevelt who attacked his critics and fought back President Obama seems always to retreat. The list is very long. Stimulus Package- not enough money not enough infrastructure, Shirley Sherrod, Fired for being lied about, Health Care a victory of sorts but then you don't defend it and let someone else define you, and the economy? In the end President Obama needs to convince the American people- who are naturally conservative- that his vision is what America needs to face today's challenges.

Progressive presidents have done this in the past. Jefferson bought Louisiana, Lincoln, emancipated the Slaves, established the Homestead Act, and Intercontinental railroads (all big government schemes). Theodore Roosevelt established and grew the National Parks Service, Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security and the New Deal, Truman desegregated the Arms Services, Eisenhower build the interstate highway system, Kennedy and Johnson made Blacks equal citizens. What all these President's had in common was that they had backbone and fought for what they believed with vigor can you imagine any of them being defined the way President Obama has been defined?

President Obama, what are you doing in Martha's Vineyard?

President Obama you need to come home to Chicago and see what is happening to your People.

Mr President, try to really understand and channel the rage and anger and do not let your enemies capture that for themselves.

By the Way Enough Organic Gardens and Spain Trips for Michelle as well she is certainly a long way from South Shore now maybe you ought to spend some time eating Harold's Chicken on Stoney Island instead?

Most Americans do not now what you are passionate about? Tell us please?

They knew what George Bush was passionate about. How About you?

They want to understand why you did not respond to a rally by Glenn Beck against you on the very anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech? What is the deal? You let all the harpies demean you what's the deal?

We want to understand why no one seems to be fighting for us?

They do not want to hear anymore Harvard talks?

No more Organic Vegetables.

They want the Barack Obama who said Yes We Can?

Where is he?

Come Home President Obama and see what America is going through...... and stop going to Martha's Vineyard it is not where you belong?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Right Stuff No More

When I was a very young child growing up in the 1970's I remember coming home from school and watching space flights to the moon. I was born in 1967 and since my father had been an air force officer and had known Neil Armstrong I felt it was important as a child to watch.

I grew up in what Rick Perlstein called Nixonland. The place that White Ethnic Americans migrated to to escape change. My people have been demonized by many on the left as ignorant or stupid because their families bought into a set of principals that suddenly changed and they did not know how to change with them. It was not that the Nixonland people hated Blacks or others it was just that this was not the deal they bought into when they voted for JFK and LBJ.

The moonshots were the embodiment of what Nixonlanders thought America should be. We should all work together. IF you dissent from the norm on social policy you are hurting society they believe. If you demand to have your rights respected you are hurting America.

In a recent conversation with my Dad he could not understand why a judge in California ruled the referendum against Gay marriage unconstitutional. He was sure that Gay rights did not measure up to Civil Rights that somehow recognizing legally one's deep personal affections was not a civil right. I realized how much our world has changed but I also realized that the world that created the Right Stuff- you know moon shots and interstate highways was also gone.

There was a time when American respected their presidents. They also respected change but now we live in an America of two camps. We are a nation that is divided and that divide deepens each year. Some people swallow the Fox News line, they believe that what happened to Shirley Sherrod was no big deal and that Barack Obama is not legitimate for reasons unspoken. These Americans believe in America's greatness but they also believe that Progressives are the cause of decline. Another America has moved on from the Right Stuff. Everything is relative and America is just another country sometimes good and sometimes bad. For these Americans the world is a relative place.

As America goes into decline and we fight over the scraps we forget that at one time these two divisions were one. The America of Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt and Kennedy had room for Civil Rights and Great Dreams like the Space Program. It was the America of great universities. Imagine in 1965 the University of California was free to students. The average college cost for a student at a major Big Ten University was $450 dollars a semester. That was an America that invested in the future.

That America also believed in innovation and growth but it also believed that millions who are unemployed should be helped. It was the America of Medicare and the Interstate Highway System it was the America that was not petty or small. But we have become petty and small. We cannot pass a highway bill, we cannot agree that people should not go bankrupt because they get sick, we cannot agree that America needs the best educational system.

Today we have become a small minded nation we worry about Reality TV shows and political scream shows. Imagine if Barack Obama gave a speech like JFK's about Space? Immediately Fox News would destroy him. Imagine if Obama risked like Nixon and went to China? What would happen? Remember when we all laughed at George W Bush when he spoke loftily about freedom?

It seems that America has the Right Stuff no More.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Aufgabe 9 from Chicago's Polonia to Lodz to the Future

What has made Aufgabe Magazine, and Litmus Press one of the most important places in contemporary poetry and critique is the fact that unlike so many other "avant garde" magazines they have always championed real diversity rather than a false diversity. Litmus and Aufgabe have championed the normal diversity syphers
race, gender, sexual orientation but they have also championed regional diversity and have never been a place where the anyone can feel comfortable. I know this from personal experience. As a distinctly "hetero" male I was welcomed to bring to light one of my passions- Brazilian poetry and poets to a wider audience in an earlier edition of Aufgabe. But Litmus has also brought such new and diverse poets as Mark Tardi, Roberto Harrison and Jennifer Scappettone to light and given these poets and critics a great megaphone to get their clear poetic messages before a wider audience and for that Litmus must be thanked and revered.

So now for Aufgabe 9. After the spectacular Aufgabe 8 which featured the poetry of Italy curated by Jennifer Scappettone you had to ask yourself what more could be done? Mark Tardi, my dear friend, has taken a taunting subject, Polish poetry to a new level. Mark (and by the way Scappettone as well) come at their subjects out of a motivation that is too often ignored they are members of a diaspora.

Mark Tardi is a member of the great Chicago Polonia one of the great diasporas of the last 100 years and he brings that sense to his fine curation of a great section. Tardi is a classically trained poet and critic and the fact that he went to Brown and studied with the Waltrop's does not hurt his level of taste but this editorial job is something else entirely- it is in short Tardi becoming his own poet and critic before our eyes. The fact that Aufgabe let him do this work in this way is a testament to the efficacy of Aufgabe and why as a journal it needs to continue to feed our poetic conversation.

The Polish section is divided in the following fashion;

Miron Białoszewski, Five Poems
Andrzej Sosnowski, Five Poems
Przemysław Owczarek,
Four Poems Ewa Chruściel,
Five Poems Kacper Bartczak,
The Polish Language in Extreme and Intermediary States of “Siulpet”:
Miron Białoszewski’s Erroneous Emotions

Gallery II: Erroneous Emotions Miron Białoszewski, Seven Poems Justyna Bargielska, Six Poems Miłosz Biedrzycki, Three Poems Katarzyna Szuster, Five Poems

Gallery III: Were & Whir Miron Białoszewski,
Nine Poems Monika Mosiewicz,
Five Poems Kacper Bartczak, Four Poems Aneta Kamińska, Eight Poems
As a critic it is impossible to know what these poems mean since I do not speak or read Polish but in translation a culture is displayed that all too often is ignored and not known in America even among the members of Poland's large diaspora.
Tardi has included translations of the Polish Miron Białoszewski, who if he was writing in English or Spanish surely would have won the Nobel Prize and whose obra is profound. We are talking here about a poetic light whose sound and tone needs to be shared, Tardi has done this for us at least by analogy through translation.
Tardi has also includes some new and still living Polish poets including Ewa Cruschiel and Katarzyna Szuster poets who while still in the heroic tradition of Polish writing are post modern in a way that the earlier generation were not allowed to be this is a delight for the reader.
I am totally biased of course; Mark is my friend and he is one of the poets I most admire because he does in his own work what Litmus Press has done well. Tardi is a person who while well formed has not forgotten what made him a poet and a person and this sense of groundedness fills Aufgabe 9 with a kind of clean clarity not found amongst most literary magazines so all I say is Bravo... and by the way thanks to Poland for saving Western Civilization and giving the world Jan Sobieski, Chopin, Lech Walesa and Miron Bioloszewski.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Dance of Death

Yesterday I went to a family friend's Fourth of July party. At this party were the usual suspects from my youth people in whose spiritual grasp I was formed as a person an whose concerns I became imbued. These people are dear to me and among the group were priests and sisters who cared for us and loved us. It is because of the fact that I come from a great Catholic community filled with the right virtues that when faced with the facts of the Danze Macabre of Pedophilia I am so offended and feel that I must vomit it out of my mouth and speak the truth.

When I arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia in March of 1994 to begin my tour as a Catholic Lay Missioner Liberation Theology was still very much part of the conversation. There were Christian Base Communities that were very active, Bishop’s conferences stood with the Poor and Oppressed and used language that was unambiguously favorable to those who were fighting oligarchy and international finance.
While the Church was of course hypocritical about these issues on the ground there were many people living and working with the poor and trying to make lives better for so many.
The heroes of a prophetic Catholicism were still revered; Pope John XXIII, Oscar Romero, Dom Helder -Camarra, Ernesto Cardenal, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. These were considered the saints of our times. We all felt that things were changing and getting better within the Church.
But at the same time a new wind was blowing. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II did not revere these figures and wanted obedience. All the figures above were too radical, too liberal and hard to control. The Church was going to corral the last vestiges of what has been unleashed at the Second Vatican Council.
CELAM the Latin American Bishop’s conference was to be muted and controlled, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was to be quieted, and the Church was not going to tolerate the prophetic voices of leaders like Oscar Romero any more. This was the primary objective of John Paul and Joseph Ratzinger.
Child rape was an afterthought.
In a New York Times article Friday the reality of this campaign has been brought to light. It shows that instead of dealing with pedophilia and child rape Joseph Ratzinger was more interested in “Fighting Liberation Theology Which is a Threat to the Faith”.
He and the falsely Sainted John Paul II willfully ignored child rape around the world in pursuit of their goal of ideological conformity. In the same year that Fr Charles Curran SJ was public ally admonished for his views and silenced for daring to question the Church on priestly celibacy and abortion Joseph Ratzinger allowed known Child Rapists to be transferred to new parishes to rape again.
At the same time that Pope John Paul II was persecuting Catholic intellectuals and writers like Ernesto Cardenal and Leonardo Boff for preaching an “Option for the Poor” he was allowing Fr Goeghan in Boston to rape and damage children.
At the same time that John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were purging Latin America of Christian Base Communities a priest who raped children was transferred from Ireland to Chicago to Portland Oregon so he could rape in three different dioceses.
What this article brings to light is that ideological conformity and power were much more important to Joseph Ratzinger and John Paul II than Children or even Catholic Dioceses where these Children came from.
There is a real sense you reap what you sew by what has happened around the world since then. In Latin America the Base Community Movement was destroyed but according to a recent study by a major religious think tank over 50% of the Evangelical pastors in Central and South America were formerly Catechists in Base Communities.
Much of the hemorrhage of the Faithful in Latin America, estimated at 35% of all Catholics, is due to losses to Evangelicals and much of this was facilitated by the destruction of Base Communities. In the United States a stable and growing Catholic Church was destroyed by John Paul II and Ratzinger’s desire for power.
This week the Diocese of Cleveland Ohio will close 52 parishes because of the loss of the faithful. Mass attendance is down from 52% in 1980 to 24% today. Many dioceses including Boston have closed hundreds of Parishes .
Contributions are down to all Catholic groups because of the fact that the Church chose pedophiles over children. The Catholic Church in many ways has ceased to be a factor in American life for the first time since the 1830’s.
Conservative Catholics and their megaphone media like EWTN try to say that the Church is fine but that there is sin that is insidious. The fact is that the pedophilia scandal was not caused by “Homosexuals” as one bishop recently said but by a power crazed clergy, pope and cardinal who decided that it was not important enough to address.
Conservative Catholics like Peggy Noonan try to add monikers to Pope John Paul II such as great. The fact is the correct moniker is “the terrible”. Before John Paul II came to power it is true that Communism ruled eastern Europe and the Church was in turmoil. But it was also a place where great thinkers and movements could thrive. It was the Church of Charles De Foucould, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero and Base Communities. It was a vibrant place.
But what is it now?
Nations like Ireland which in 1978 were devoutly Catholic are now agnostic because of the sex scandal. Regions that were once completely Catholic like Latin America are now only culturally Catholic while the real energy in religion moves towards Evangelicals and ‘new’ Churches.
The American Church which was once so vibrant and so giving financially to their global brethren is declining and staggering toward irrelevancy. Parishes like my home parish that were once so vibrant have become stagnant as people shield their Children from the violators and good priests and good sisters watch their work being destroyed by sexual predators and their protectors in the Vatican.
John Paul the Great- The Great Destroyer

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What is it all for This Poetry

Kenneth Rexroth

What is it all for, this poetry, This bundle of accomplishment Put together with so much pain? Do you remember the corpse in the basement? What are we doing at the turn of our years, Writers and readers of the liberal weeklies?

As a poet I have often straddled two worlds; one that is filled with those who care about art and what it means to be a creative soul. As a business person I have striven to bring poetry into the banality of life as it is lived. Poets normally live in one world and business people in another world. For me at the moments when my soul could be sucked out there is always one or the other to make a difference.

Poets and writers who once meant allot to me have been discarded. After enduring unemployment and watching others whom I love suffer I no longer have time for poets whose primary objective in life is to be clever. While I never liked their work my patience for Flarfists is at an end.

But during my time without work a few poet’s work really asked the right questions. Rexroth’s fictional biography is a work that speaks to those of us who are nearing middle age and who are asking “is this all there is” my old friend Thomas Merton always satisfies, Peter Gizzi’s poetry cools the soul and Robert Creeley gives me back my spine.

Having left the shadow of darkness that is poverty I still am listening to the quiet. I am listening to those who are ignored and forgotten and trying to understand what I am to do? I continue to read- real paper books- and understand something clean and clear.

Do poets have anything to say? To this generation? To help us understand what has happened?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hans Fallada and Our Moment

I have been reading through new translations of Hans Fallada's books. In many ways his work is about today and about the 1930's and 40's in Berlin. There has been allot of criticism of Fallada (See the Guardian Article Above) but I think that his work is being read now not because it is great literature but because it captures a certain moment that is very much like our own. Here we see the destruction of a class of people and their response to it, Nazism.

In the 1930's the Rich were horrified by the fact that the strivers, that is the lower middle class, were destroyed by the Depression. It was these strivers that largely supported Fascist Spain and Nazi Germany enabled by the rich. They chose to support Fascism because the Left ignored them.
The Left at that time was more interested in Internationalism, Stalin, Trotsky and Spanish Communism. The ordinary folks as Bill O'Reilly calls them were ignored and they gravitated to Franco and Hitler. In the USA they gravitated to Huey Long, and Fr Coughlin but eventually Franklin Roosevelt was able to corral them and their imagination. It is only because America had FDR that we did not move down the same road I think.

What Fallada does in his books is illucidate this world of strivers in Germany and shows us how in they resisted but also empowered Nazism. I am reading him in English but the text is clear and shows us the kind of people who live in small apartments or houses and are concerned with small things. Many on the Left completely ignore these people- and do not understand them. Fallada lets us know what they were thinking and this is the major effect of the work. If you want to know what those living in under water mortgages are feeling read Fallada it is the same feeling.

The closest that any of us have come to 1923 Berlin inflation or 1933 American Depression is 2008-2010. The result of this destruction has been Barack Obama and the Tea Party in the USA. These ripples are crossing the globe and challenging the social order. Since the fall of Communism there has been a Washington Consensus. That is now being destroyed in favor of a Beijing Consensus. What Fallada does in his books is illuminate the

Berlin Consensus that prevailed from 1933-1945. The Germans blamed other Races for their economic woes and stole from others to make their lives better.

It is still to be seen what happens today?
Is America Germany in 1923 or America in 1933?
It certainly is not America in 1945. That triumphant America is long gone and something else has taken its place.
As we go forth to ask questions Fallada's work gives us a context and a set of questions to ask. Since most of our intellectuals and poets are not interested in these topics and would rather concentrate on word games and 'innovation' someone else should ask the questions.
What will be the response of our society and others to the fact that we now dwell in a new a world as the Germans in 1923? Just think about the difference between 2005, 5 years ago and 2010? Then compare it to 1914 to 1919? The same kind of dislocation to be understood I think. We need to ask what will happen next?
What will happen? Fallada give us a chance to see what the dispair of the strivers means for a culture? Our strivers are in a similar position as those in Germany in 1923. Is Obama FDR? or a passing fancy?
Will be follow Fr Coughlin? A Hitler? or and FDR?

Read the books.... and see the echoes and scents of what we are experiencing today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Lori Berenson I met in Lima

In 1995 I went to Lima, Peru for a conference of Prison Ministries. I was working in Cochabamba, Bolivia as a volunteer after college and I happened to work in the San Sebastian Jail. The conference was in Lima- I was 28 and very idealistic full of Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero. I really believed in Liberation and Theology- I saw that as the right thing.

The conference was pretty standard for a "peace and justice" event held in Latin America at that time. It was full of Liberation Theology and justice talk. I presented a speech on San Sebastian and the fate of those Bolivians in Jail for drug trafficking offenses. There was lots of beards and macrame.

I travelled to Lima by bus from Cochabamba. It took a day to travel the 455 miles but it was worth it. When i arrived in Lima my friend Tammy and I went to the local Gringo bar . After a bunch of Pisco I was introduced to another American who was called Lori.

She was also idealistic like me. But unlike me she advocated violence and also she felt that "Charity" was the problem and that "revolution" was the answer. She was very different then the normal Generation Xer. She was committed to causes that most of my friends did not even know existed. We only talked for 10 minutes. But she was impressive- impressive in a way that I am not because she did not equivocate.

In 1996 when I was living in Brazil I heard about her arrest as a Terrorist in Lima. I was pained for her family and I kept thinking about what I have done for the past 14 years while she has sat in an Andean prison. I have to say that I do not and did not agree with Ms Berenson's advocation of violence. But I can understand the anger. I still feel that anger 12 years later at the fact that there is useless pain in the world and that justice is so far from reality.

Lori Berenson is my mirror opposite. We both went to Latin America in our twenties to work for justice. I did my stint and while I continue to volunteer and do things I am now an upstanding executive, published poet and author, husband and family person.

In a word I sold out.

Ms Berenson on the other hand- even though I disagree with her actions- did not sell out. Berenson is the exception among those of us born from 1965-1978.
I can still see her face in that Bar in Lima and wonder if I had gone her route and not sold out what would have happened? I can also feel my youth and the sheer joy of thinking that I could change the world...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Some Poetry Readings do Not Suck

usually after a poetry reading I spend time anguishing about how they all suck. I am tired of the self absorbed lunacy. The constant hipsterness, the shitty poets reading their inner most thoughts that I want to just vomit out of the my system but occasionally a poetry reading does what it is supposed to do.
About 1o years ago I went to a reading in Philadelphia Robert Creeley was reading, Ron Silliman and Jena Osman where there and Bob just filled up the room-- with poetry and himself. I have a deep affection for Mr Robert Creeley but his reading was so understated and so fine.
A few years ago I went to a reading where Jen Hofer, Pierre Joris and many others read at the now defunct 30/30 space. The reading was a tour de force and I left motivated to write poetry and read poetry and be a poet... not just a poseur.
On Saturday night Traudi an I went to another such reading. Jennifer Scappettone put together a chorus like piece based on her great book From Dame Quickly which should have been a prize winner. The reading with video and a chorus really brought something to the table that we don't often get in poetry today a message that is not hackneyed and language that is clean and bold and makes a point without any BS.
Now, Jen is a friend but she frustrates me at times she is so smart that sometimes for those of us who are stupider it is hard to keep up. But her book and this project does allot for all of us. It breaks language in a way that challenges the way the canyons of the southwest challenge us by making us do thinks differently to gain the same result.
I do not know what her plans are for this piece but I want more......

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Time to Be Born and A Time to Die

Before it became a 1960's feel good pop song Ecclesiastes was a prophetic book in the
Hebrew Bible. It is the fundamental poem about death and life and what happens to us
during that process. During the past few months I have been thinking about the Hebrew Prophets quite allot. There is nothing better to read when you are depressed than Hosea or Job.
There is none of the Jesus Christ fluffery in the prophets. Pain happens, death happens but all is part of the justice of YHWH. Justice is what is sought and justice is what one gets. So as I move into a new phase in my life I have begun to think about justice and to leave mercy which so many prefer on the sidelines.
Recently I had a conversation with a young woman working two jobs, supporting her mother and siblings and also taking care of a friend and I thought to myself if this young woman is capable of that why do I complain about anything? Here is this tough, intelligent woman who is overcoming everything-- I think to myself "Ray you are a real wimp"
Poets are good complainers. We like to complain, write and then do nothing because it is in our nature. But if ever the old Socialist mantra Fight, Complain, Organize were true it would be now in our country but all we really do is complain and then go on Facebook. We like to spend our time arguing over dumb things.
I have begun a new job in Milwaukee and I find that while I miss my poet friends and my home, family and pets what I really miss are my volunteer activities. I was volunteering weekly at a Catholic Worker house in Chicago until a month ago teaching English to a group of immigrant women. I miss that interaction and I miss the fact that in these women's stories I learned much about what is real in our country. For all the pain that those women, homeless with children to feed had there was a joy and hope that those of us in better circumstances often forget.
What is real is something that has become preciously rare in a society where we text message our friends who are across the room. We have chosen to place an electronic wall around us and for all the good that those things do we also become desensitized. But what is actual is what matters and what is virtual does not really matter. You cannot power down an actual human being but you can do that to your iPod. In the end it goes back to a time to live and time to die and also a time to sew and a time to reap.
I also think about the fact that an email or a text message will not suffice. Imagine if Ecclesiastes has been written on an iPhone?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Men as Marginalized In Society

In 1960 85% of all African American men were married, had full time jobs and were from intact families. In 2000 that number was 18%. What happened?
What happened is that a combination of government errors and social change Black men became marginalized by job loss and slowly they became marginalized. Today this is happening to all men regardless of Race. In a recent Atlantic Article Richard Florida talked about the change where men who used to be the center of American life have become slowly marginalized. Part of this change is that women have become more prominent but another part of this change is the reality that today the government announced that 25% of all men aged 25-54 in America are out of the workforce.
What does this mean?
It means that we as a nation have got to rethink what is important to us. In societies in the past with lots of idle men, for example China in the 19th century or America's inner cities today bad things happen. Crime rises and violence as well. What is needed is an outreach to Men and a realization that men as a group need attention that they did not need before.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Who can Mock the Church

Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times sheds some disinfecting light on the Catholic Church. He talks about the very real images of God (Imago Dei) that are working around the world to make the Kingdom of God a reality.
The fact is that the Sisters working the Sudan or Bolivia or New Guinea are what Jesus had in mind when he told us to wash each other's feet. I think that if Jesus were alive today he would look at his vicar and vomit. The fact is that it is those who struggle for justice and care for those most marginalized are closest to God.
The greatest Catholics of the 20th Century were those who chose to be with the marginalized; Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Pope John XXIII, and Charles De Foucould all did this because it was the truth nothing more. But the Church becomes truly evil when it forgets the least of these to protect its power. When it preaches that an institution is more important than the Message it becomes evil and that is what has happened. How many children have been raped? How many good Catholics have had their reputations destroyed and how many people have not been helped because the Church had to pay millions in hush money or judgements? Instead of helping those images of God in Kristof's piece the money instead went to pay off the claims of victims because no one dared say the truth.

Matisse and the 20th Century

It has been said that the 20th Century began and ended in Sarajevo. Artistically the 20th Century began with Picasso's painting the Girls of Avignon which tore open the artworld's sense of itself. While Picasso was a revolutionary he was not a bridge. Henri Matisse on the other hand was such a bridge.
In the new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago Matisse 1913-1917 this key four year period in his life are examined. It was during this period when Europe was engaged in the worst of all possible wars when Matisse's style and sense became a reality. It was during this same period that the sensability that would become German art after the war was born as well.
In this exhibit we see this axial period in full flower. But it also displays something that we no longer have in the world and that is a slow growing artists dialogue. With the internet things now move very fast. This Matisse exhibit shows us that sometimes the mellowing of a few years can have a profound impact.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Poetry Readings and the Great Divide

Poetry has always had two sides. For every innovator using language to change the human condition there is a cold elitist assuring us that they have the secret sauce to poetic virtue. Last weekend in Chicago the City put on an event at the Harold Washington Library that was a poetry trade show and a reading. Our press Cracked Slab Books participated. Across town at the Art Institute the Chicago Poetry Project put on a great seminar series on the great poet Robert Duncan.
The Duncan event headlined Michael Palmer and Nathanael Mackey among others and was a tour de force of poetic lights. The event at the Harold Washington Library was decidedly more populist. There were Slammers galore and many of those "regional" writers who more aptly should be called "Bad" Writers. But while I would love to be counted in the Duncan crowd it is really not where i belong. It seems that many of Chicago's Duncan devotees are too fine for a normal poet like myself.
There are plenty of poets with whom the average person can identify. I have come to love Kenneth Rexroth and I have admired and loved Robert Creeley's work for many years. And of course the king of the elitists Ezra Pound. But it seems that poetry will always be divided and that is okay just so the elitists and the populists both remember that everyone else could care less about our poetic conversation.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The End of the Great Recession

Over the past year I have watched as the world has changed. Formerly stable and solid jobs and career paths have been washed away. Universities, States and Associations have seen huge budget cuts. People who I have known and admired have watched as all they knew was taken away from them. It has been a traumatic time and it continues for many of my friends and family members.
For me however the Great Recession ends tomorrow. I found a great job with a company that I admire working with people with whom I am looking forward working with and doing new things. Having said that my attitudes and opinions about life are dramatically different. When I go to a store or on line my first reaction is now to wait- not to buy- until I am absolutely sure about the consequences. I cherish things that I once took for granted and I think that my levels of seriousness and chasteness are stronger.
So as I embark on something new I begin again as a new person in many ways. The end of the Great Recession for me is bittersweet knowing that so many other good people are still struggling. I will think of them and remember where I was such as short time ago...
Deo Gratia

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jackie Robinson Day 2010

Baseball fans are very proud of our game's history and sometimes people get tired of hearing about history. But, when it comes to justice Baseball has done much for our society.
In the 1920's and 30's and 40's marginalized new immigrant groups like Irish, Poles, Italians and Germans had heroes like Joe Di Maggio, Stan Musial, Connie Mack and Honus Wagner. It was in Baseball that the first real Latin stars were born, Minnie Minoso, Orlando Cepeda, Al Lopez and of course Roberto Clemente.
But it was in 1947 when Jackie Robinson became the first modern African American major leaguer that the world in which we live, where a Black Man can be elected President of the United States was born. 1947 8 years before Brown v. Board of Education and almost 20 years before the Voting Rights Act Baseball lead the way and we have Jackie Robinson to thank for the world in which we all live- where a Black Man can be president.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anne Carson's Nox is a Manifesto of a Slow Poetics

I understand that at AWP in Denver that the Flarfists and Conceptualists have taken over and that is fine I just hope that they left some beer for the rest of us? Flarf and Conceptual poetry are about fast. The speed in which poetry can be created from the collage of the world and fused with the torrent that is our life today. You have to give those people credit because they are responding with art that is innovative and interesting.

In this age of iPads and Kindles many of us who are invested in the book as an object are feeling that our passion is becoming as passe as Dance Cards or Virginity. The idea that bookstores and printed books may no longer exist is chilling but we fear that it may also be true.

So Saturday, I went to Seminary Coop in Chicago's "elite" Hyde Park neighborhood the home area of our Socialist president Barack Obama (Irony and Scorn here) to buy some real printed paper books. Of course in Hyde Park their are elitists but most of those are not Socialists they are heart surgeons. I had a chance to talk to Jack Cella the boss of this subversive establishment who also has the virtue of being a White Sox fan and he pointed me to a book that is more of an art object Anne Carson's Nox.

I tend to shy away from Canadian writers. They tend to be intimidating like Lemon Hound Sina Queyra or Christian Bok but Anne Carson has always been loved by poets whom I love and so I took a look. Nox is quite a book. Unlike anything I consume on my i Phone Anne Carson's Nox requires time. Her book is like a fine meal in a provincial Italian city rather than a cheeseburger eaten in the car off the seat next to you.

"I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds. But Death makes us stingy"

The book is in a fine box and it costs only $29.00 so someone at New Directions is not getting a bonus this year because this book must have cost allot to make. Nox is an elegy for Carson's brother and the whole book is filled with collage it is almost as if Ezra Pound and Joseph Cornell got together and made a book. The object makes one want to sit and peruse it and then your creative juices flow and you see that her elegy is meant to force us all to write.

"repent means the pain again"

This book is filled with collage shots, poetry of Catullus, Mary Magdalene, scripture and like a secular breviary it unfolds and her grief fills the room but also her artistry and slowness.
In many ways Carson's Nox is a manifesto of "Slow Poetry" like Slow Food it calls on us to stop and to listen, savor--- to actually touch the poetry and to ask ourselves if the poetry created by cut up or internet or Kindle or i Pad is really better or just different? Carson is doing something that has not been done recently, except by Eleni Sikeliano's California Poem she has created a poetic geography that makes one stop to listen to what she is saying.

I think that slowness is something Poets are yearning for just look at the fashion of Lorine Niedecker recently is there any poet who embodies slow poetics more?? I think that by losing slowness and downplaying opaqueness poetry has become more gimmick than art in Nox Carson avoids that trap. Now if we could just get the FlarfistConceptualists to do the same to slow down a little and force us to spend time with the work then maybe the next big thing in poetry could begin again?

So go out and buy Nox by Anne Carson, turn off your i Phone, shut down the computer and sit on the couch with a cup of coffee or a shot of grappa and read it... slowly

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kenneth Goldsmith's Amazing View

"This new generic horizon rising before us is one so saturated with embedded calculation that it sucks almost every prior mode of literary production out of view. A new ecstasy of language has emerged, one of algorithmic rationality and machine worship; one intent on flattening difference: meaning and nonsense, code and poetry, ethics and morality, the necessary and the frivolous. Literature is now approaching the zero degree of blunt expediency — a chilling, thrilling, almost Darwinian opportunism in action. Writing it appears, at this scale at least, is dead"

I admit that I read the Harriet Blog and the Poetry Foundation website in secret. It is out of jealousy at not being able to contribute to it that I read it. With this envy in mind I am amazed by some of the poets who are highlighted. Sometimes posts make me think and challenge me to be more as a poet.

Over the past year or so I have withdrawn from poetic socializing as I have descended into the self absorption that is the Great Recession. I am more worried about surviving the deluge than jousting with poetic adversaries. I have not had the emotional energy to debate and I have concentrated on translations and writing while I have tread ed water and hoped that I survive this flood of despair and wreckage.

This morning on Facebook- I read Christian Bok's critique of Kenneth Goldsmith's post on Harriet. I have to admit that I think that Bok is the worst kind of poetic elitist. There is a whole world of poets whose work is simply academic masturbation and I usually find his work painfully self serving along with many of his poetic friends. Goldsmith on the other hand I have found interesting and unlike Bok he usually writes things that are profound.

I needed to read Goldsmith's post. So I found it on line....

Goldsmith expounds on the use of technology and modes of literary production in a way that I think is important. He uses the term "blunt expediency" as a hinge for the article. I think that this is the opposite of where we really are in poetry. He talks about the new ways poetry can be consumed and created and also the fact that poetry is no longer built around the book or the great work which is a shame for us who dream of re writing the Cantos.

The fact is that Poetry, the art form which I practice and love, is pretty close to the most irrelevant art form in the American artistic idiom today. Poetry has never had the place in American society that Painting (Pollock, De Kooning, Rothko), Novels (O'Connor, Faulkner, Hemingway) or Theatre (O' Neill, Williams) have held but poetry has often been the art form that lead the way.

In the past poetry and poets have been in profound dialogue with our society and been forerunners of what society could become. If you look at the last great Economic disaster of American life, the Great Depression, we see poets serving this role. Langston Hughes, Kenneth Rexroth, Gwendolyn Brooks and many others were echoing the times they were living in and challenging the society to change.

They used new mediums to do this work. No one can convince me that Film and Radio were not as revolutionary in 1925 as the Internet is today. Global poets like Vallejo, Alberti and Neruda were using their great gifts to expose Fascism years before it was an important issue for most ordinary people. This is a role that has been abrogated by most American poets. While poets in places like Mexico (Laura Solorzano) and China (Bei Dao) are in that place.

As a poet who does not dwell in academia but one who dwells in the non academic business world most poetry appears to be precious literary gymnastics created by academics and intellectual thrill seekers. So much poetry today seems simply written to impress other academics or to appear "innovative" when in reality it is simply artifice.

Goldsmith compares Poetry to the new business cycle where most people are disposable.
As one of those who was disposed I think that poets and poetry need to ask another question why do they write? And why does it matter? Does anything they are doing have a purpose or is it simply to self-serve ego and self worth?

Our society is transforming from one set of assumptions to another. The growing dominance of China and their model of unfettered Capitalism with political and academic oppression is taking hold in many places in the world.

Poets are regularly imprisoned in China. In China Poetry is a political act here it is not. The Chinese model is taking root and is having a profound influence on places like Brazil, Indonesia and many nations in Africa. We are living in an age where the ideals of Freedom that have defined the West since 1945 are in retreat and a new norm that is best embodied by China's new high speed train to Tibet are becoming ascendant.

Yet most American poets are choosing to remain within the crumbling tower of Academia doing poetic gymnastics for their friends not dialogueing globally or choosing to move outside their small restricted world. The Internet has made this worse since it kills serendipity and causes people to read only sites they agree with. Yes, we can read poetry from around the world on line but how many Americans do this? I would venture I know all of them.

The issue is not that poets who dwell in the academy are not essential and broadminded, Sina Queyras, Jennifer Scappettone and Mark Nowak are academics but their work is about allot more than pleasing that audience. But are poets using technology to create a poetic hot house where they do not have to challenge or dialogue with the rapid change around us?

The issue is why poets and poetry tolerate artifice and weak writing no matter in what form it takes? Why is it that we do not demand from our poets more? Why is it that the technology is used as an excuse to accept narrowness and lack of breadth?

Poets need to ask the question why do they write? Not how they write. Poets need to understand that the world is changing and that the new world being created will not be friendly to poets.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day---- 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Irascible Poet MLB Preview

It is Holy Week when Roman Catholics commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord. It is also Passover when Jews commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. But more importantly we are in the last week of Spring Training and so it is time for the 2010 Irascible Poet Baseball Preview;

Baseball is the most contemplative sport. It follows the seasons and most resembles daily life since it goes on for months and months. I think the thing that I like best about Baseball is that it is every day. During the season you can watch the game and just when you need it it comes through for you.

Last year I was unemployed and depressed. I was sitting at home stewing in my own self pity and I had the White Sox game on and what do you know Mark Buehrle throws a perfect game. Baseball coming through for you.... I have been reading a new biography of Willie Mays by James Hirsch and he talks about the idea of Willie Mays catching a ball in center field-- sheer perfection in the face of the ordinary. Baseball is like being allowed to watch an artist paint or sculpt. It is sheer perfection but also failure and doubt and if you are a Cub fan like my dear friend Mark Tardi it is agony punctuated by numbness. I of course am a White Sox fan and so my life is filled with agony and deformity rather than numbness.

Everyone is making their picks and so here are mine;


National League East

The NL East is an interesting division. The Phillies are a great team and they have a great ball park but I do not think that this is their year. The New York Mets should be a great team but the combination of their ball park which is too big and David Wright's weight gain does not bode well for them and then there is the fact that this is Bobby Cox's last year in Atlanta. I think that this is the difference and that Atlanta wins this division and gives them a storybook ending for Cox's career.






National League Central

It is well known that the Cubs give me hives and their fans make me want to vomit but I think that this might just be a good year for our bastard cousins on the North Side. This is Lou Piniella's last year with the Cubs and even the most vitriolic Cub hater has to like Lou (Just like we liked Ernie Banks only an idiot did not like Ernie Banks). The Milwaukee Brewers look good as well and the Cardinals have Albert Pujols which makes them a good team. Look for Dusty Baker to be fired by Cincinnati in May. So my pick is the Cubs by one game over the Cardinals who will win the NL Wild Card







National League West

This is the weakest division in baseball. The Dodgers are going no where fast and the divorce drama will get worse before it gets better. The Padres are an empty shell. The Rockies are a good team but the team to watch is the San Francisco Giants. This is their year with great pitching they win the west.







Now we move on to the real league, The American League.

American League East

The Yankees/Red Sox division is dominated by that rivalry and it produced a World Champion for only 200 million dollars last year. The Yankees are a great team but how long can this chemistry last? The Red Sox have one of the best pitching staff's and they also have the advantage of being an underdog. I would watch this division you will have a three way race between the Ray's, Red Sox and Yankees but the team that is most interesting are the Orioles. They have a good core of young players and could finish fourth and be over .500 if that happens this division tightens and the Yankees/Red Sox do not win 95 games. Having said that this is how they finish.


Red Sox*



Blue Jays

American League Central

This is my home division. Filled with evil teams like the Twins and Tigers. Actually I like to call the AL Central the old jeans division it is so comfortable and the rivalries are fierce but no where near the meanness of Yankees Red Sox and that is because there are no assholes in the Midwest they have all migrated to the area between Philadelphia and Boston. Having said that this division will be the most competitive of the entire MLB. The Twins are a good team, my White Sox have the best rotation and do not forget the Indians who are young but have Grady Sizemore who is a great player. Watch for the Tigers to fall apart trading Curtis Granderson was a stupid move. So here is my call...

White Sox*





oh and it will be another year of a one game playoff between two 88 win teams....

American League West

Is this baseball's most boring division? The Angels are about as exciting as a visit to a State Farm office. The A's could be a great team if someone would just show up to their games, the Mariners play in a great ball park and the Rangers could be great if it were not so damn hot in Texas. Having said that I think this is the year that that Rangers finally win the division. The cocaine problems of their manager will be resolved in May when he is fired and the Angels will be weakened.






National League





NL Pennant


American League

Yankees/White Sox

Red Sox/Rangers


Yankees/Red Sox

AL Pennant

Red Sox

I am not going to pick a World Series Winner mostly because I do not really care.


I remember once when I was travelling in Europe in the late 1980's that I read an article by David Halberstam in the International Herald Tribune about what it is like to be away from Baseball in an alien land on opening day. I felt this six times in my life when I lived outside the USA and I have to say that opening day and the baseball season is one of the only things I truly missed while living abroad. There are allot of great places to live in the world and i have lived in two of them but there is always an emptiness because of the lack of baseball. There is something cleansing about baseball something reassuring.

You can become immersed in it's minutiae and remove yourself from reality which makes all the difference in a world of pain. Other sports are great I enjoy College Football and the World Cup but there is just something about the crack of the bat that I cherish and in the end cannot live without. Roger Angell one of baseball's great writers said once that baseball is like a religion and once you are inducted you need it the way a Catholic needs the Eucharist or a Buddhist meditation.

That seems right to me so only a few days left to the crack of the bat....