"I’m a boatspotter. I sit and eat or write or drink and stare out the window. Not an ordinary window with an ordinary view but a triptych of glass 3 meters high and 4 meters across. Outside this abandoned makeshift office facility (9 years ago converted by squatters into ateliers and living quarters) along the Westerdoksdijk, is a spectacular view of the Shell Research complex across the water in North Amsterdam. At night its intricate mosaic of lit cubicles and network of lights, pipes and stacks resembles the inside of my old transistor radio which served to escort me through childhood nightmares induced by Roger Corman’s drive-in renditions of Edgar Allen Poe stories…" Appeared in the Curse in 1996 and in AlleyTracts in 1997.
The Mystery of the Plockhoy Settlement in the Valley of Swans
Originally appeared in the Mennonite Historical Bulletin 62 (April 2001): Article about Pieter Cornelisz Plockhoy from the Zeeland province of Holland who in the mid-1660s attempted to create a utopic [proto-socialist-egalitarian] settlement in the New World. The Plockhoy settlement was the first voice against slavery and preached friendship with the Indian. This section was rejected by the American Heritage editors of “Dutch Door” and I can only guess it was too… radical for them. It has been published in many places in various forms including in Dutch translations. A short version of the Plockhoy article is reworked at Common Life. Appeared in Dutch as “Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy: het mysterie van de nederzetting Zwaanendael aan de Delaware (Noord-Amerika)” in Kroniek van het land van de zeemeermin (Schouwen Duiveland) 25 (2000).
“One nation is a copy of the other,” said John Adams on his first visit to the Netherlands; two centuries later an American visitor to Holland can still trace the connection. Award-winning story by Nina Ascoly & bart plantenga published in American Heritageabout the roots of America to be found in the Netherlands. It won the Lowell Thomas Travel Writing Award, presented in 2000 by the American Association of Travel Writers for the outstanding foreign travel feature published in 1999.
In April 2007, I produced an ad hoc radio special on Ginsberg in honor of the fact that he had written Howl 50 years earlier and I had broadcast Howl as a way of showing support to Pacifica Radio, which had just been sued for thousands of dollars by the American criminal organization known as the FCC for broadcasting an uncensored version of the poem. I decided back in 1987, to play the piece live and then edit out the swear words on air. well, i got distracted and the offending words got through, which wasn't very smart since it was during this time that WFMU was also under politically motivated pressure to keep its act clean or pay the price [for freedom?]. Crop of a photo of Ginsberg in Amsterdam by the formidable photographer Peter Edel.
To make a long story even longer, I dedicated this April 2007 broadcast to Ginzy. After the broadcast, I noticed that it shook loose quite some memories and thoughts and decided to add them to the weekly playlist that goes out to some 1500 people. I have since noticed that I may have stumbled upon both a mnemonic device and a new literary form: the annotated playlist. This is the most out there version of that form to date. The piece is filled with memories of growing up in New Jersey and writing poetry and driving a cab in Ann Arbor.
As one of the founding members of the "legendary" writing group in the hallowed Tin Pan Alley bar in Mid-Manhattan in the mid-1980s, I watched the slow rise and meteoric fall of this scrum of beer swilling scribes. We did some "ludic" actions to inject the magic of the word back into daily life. This was most dramatically done when we did a reading during evening rush hour on the Brooklyn Bridge. 41 poets [I think] spanned the length of the bridge in 1994[?]
I being a regular almost daily walker across that bridge [trying to avoid claustrophobia on morning rush hour subways] I knew that the traffic hum and buzz would obliterate pretty much all normal speech so I opted for a series of Zen koan / haiku called "slyku" where I tried to incorporate poetry, wit, and social commentary all within the span of 15 words or so. Commuter fave: "Bill Clinton is the Opie of the masses." [Opie being the aw-shucks hayseed son of Andy griffith in Andy of Mayberry TV show.]
LUSH he could drown in a 6-inch glass of beer if it was wearing a skirt
We did a rehash of the bridge reading in downtown Chicago during the Autonomedia tour in fall of 1995 to some bemused passersby "success." Photo of author dressed as Bazooka Joe during Brooklyn Bridge Reading was taken by Alfred Vitale or was it Jim Feast?
Co-edited the anthology of adventurous Unbearable writings calledThe Unbearables, Autonomedia with Peter lamborn Wilson, Mike golden, Ron Kolm. I contributed a failed experiment in comic book sci-fi called "2-B 38-C 3-D in Neuropolis" which taught me never to obsess in a manner that you begin to disappear and hide in the minutiae of writing. It included almost ALL of the Unbearables at the time and many allies and sympathetic types including: Max Blagg, Lydia tomkiw, Lisa "Bikini Girl" Herskowitz, David Rattray, Bruce Benderson, Little Annie Anxiety, Dave Mandl, Jose Padua and all of the original members. And amazing collection of graphics by Yossarian, Chris Potash, J.D. King...
Wrote this encyclopedia entry about the group: Unbearables for Exquisite Corpse called “New York: The Unbearables (b. April 27, 1986, New York – d. Dec. 7, 1994, New York). Photo of the Three Unbears, Ron, Mike, bart by Nina Ascoly [I think!] Also called Unbearable Beatniks of Lite, Wannabeats, Unbearable Bootlicks of Life, Unmentionables, Unbeatable Scriv-niks of Spite,Unbees, were the loose screws of a "literary" movement that was based on the transgressive mediocrity concepts of micro-hyper-marketing and post-ironic juvenile delinquency manifested in their strategic recuperations of self-loathing, rehabilitation of ASTS, and their action rants.
From "Review of Unbearables in Beat News: "He has written for many magazines, journals and zines. He has written about art, politics, music, culture, while holding down oddjobs (or is it that those oddjobs held him?) such as foot messenger in Manhattan, forest management in the heart of Southern France, foundryworker in Flint, MI, proofreading in Amsterdam, streetsweeper in Ann Arbor, once hung blinds for Max Ernst's daughter-in-law, and painted tractor and automobile tires for auto shows (call it automotive makeup art?). This certainly became the most surreal and absurd job when he on hands and knees on the Champs Elysees painted big tractor tires black before a crowd of thousands and with the entire Champs' length planted with wheat!!! And through it all writing has been there to taunt, mock and tease him."
“The Unbearable Beatniks of Life”
Streets vol. 6 spring 1993, story: Ken Schmaltz, photos: Shanthy Nambiar. “In fact, it was in Redtape that a tongue-in-cheek story by Mike Golden appeared calling the group the Unbearable Beatniks of Light, a play on the book and movie called “Unbearable Lightness of Being” , and their label was born. The name became the Unbearable Beatniks of Life shortly after, when they had a reading at the Life Café at 343 East 10th St. Here is another article that tackles the slippery ephemera of Unbearable dignity in a 1995 Chicago Reader by Mike Sula.
Paris Free Voice, April 1990: This 2-part series was a poetic way of making sense of the vague magnitude of [living in] Paris by arranging facts to create a kind of collage. I received several VERY indignant responses from American doctors living in France at the time, calling me irresonsible for saying that smoking must be kept in perspective, that WORRYING about smoke or getting all pissed off every day at smokers might have as much of an effect on longevity as smoking..."Imagine 2,068,000 Parisians crammed into 105 km (not including 11 km of bones that lie under Paris in the catacombs) with 500,000 or so dogs (4760 dogs per km). This means you have about a 1 in 4 chance that a Parisian you hear complaining about graffiti is a dog owner. And this dog owner will be ignorant of the fact that although 4,000,000F go annually to cleaning up
graffiti, 34,000,000F are spent cleaning up the canine land mines laid all over town. 20 metric tons of dog truffles daily. Some of it is sucked up by those green vacuum cleaner-equipped motorcycles, some of it swept into gutters by the 12,000 branch brooms and 30,000 plastic branch brooms, and then washed out of sight, out of mind down many of Paris' 18,000 sewer drains. Instead, wouldn't it be interesting to each day pick out 20 different dog owners and leave a metric ton on each of their doorsteps. It would take 68 years to reward each dog owner- not a likely prospect. For the rest of the article.