Friday, October 30, 2015



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Ted Berrigan was one of the first poets to make me sit up & think now this is poetry. I'd read an article by Miles Champion in Parataxis & that had sent me off in search of what was available - which, back in the UK in the early 90s, was very little. I got the American Penguin Selected & ordered with such excitement via the still nascent internet (Netscape Navigator, version ?) on a dodgy modem connection the big red Collected. I got it delivered to friends in Washington & there it was waiting for me on Hallowe'en night. 1997? Yes, I think so.

Strange, then, yet kind of appropriate - in the way things seem to orbit in the Poetic Uni-Verse - that I should find myself chatting to Anne Waldman this sunny late October morning after the second keynote speech at the ULB Beat Conference. To shake the hand that ... & what do you say other than thank you, trying to sum up a whole world of books & conversations & ways your days have been touched & transformed by words. She was modest & charming, of course, & seemed to understand what was being implied albeit awkwardly. 

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"The Muse plugs you in. It's that direct. Electricity. It's always available, batteries are not needed, but you have magic keys access to the illusory batteries which are needed and available, when you are genuinely ready and alert. Who's to say how or when or why this occurs. It's the reciprocity with "bigger mind". And it can involve other people. I get that hit - don't you too? - in the poetry one loves." (From the interview 'Vow to Poetry' in the volume of the same name, Anne Waldman)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I've just learned that Anne Waldman & Daniel Kane are in town - in fact just up the road at ULB for a Beat Poetry Conference.

Why I am always the last to hear of such events?

I will try to get to hear a couple of sessions tomorrow morning.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Never a great fan of Scotland on the rugby field, their performance this evening was outstanding.

I didn't see the entire game having to shuttle back and forth to the kitchen. However, the post-match analysis and replays make it pretty damn clear that they were robbed. Why, indeed, when referees go for the TMO so readily was there no consultation ahead of the decision that awarded Australia that oh-so vital penalty?

Difficult not to feel that certain interests were being served with that result.

& it's kind of wrong when a referee wins the match.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

In Fnac this morning looking for a 21 Pilots CD for the elder Wafflette (birthday on Wednesday) & saw the new David Gilmour. I resisted - a) after the massive disappointment of The Endless River last year; b) knowing Yoko Oh-no Polly was entrusted with the lyrics ("inspired by Book Two of Paradise Lost" according to the video - how absolutely presumptuous & pretentious); c) the last couple of solo outings which were mellow to the point of rotting.

I'll wait until it appears in the Mediatheque & even then give it a spin with trepidation.

Meanwhile ... I happened into Ut Pictura again (surely the most beautiful CD shop in Brussels) to find Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier filling the room - the Till Fellner recording on ECM New Series. Irresistible.


Sunday, October 11, 2015





There are pieces of music such as the Brandenburg Concertos that you inherit as part of the cultural landscape, everyone agrees they are masterpieces, you buy them, listen to them, nod & give your assent. Superb, you say, & yet in a funny way they don't touch you as - say - early Stravinsky or a Schubert sonata - or a song by Julia Holter for that matter.

You shrug & accept that your taste (& ears) are second rate or 'uneducated' or whatever snobbery you wish to submit to.

& then you happen upon a recording which lifts the composition into another dimension. Yesterday I was once again in the CD shop on the Sablon & saw this version by Cafe Zimmerman. The name plus the cover photo made me think this must be some jazz combo interpretation. How wrong could I be?

So far I have only listened to the first two concertos but it has been nothing short of a revelation. The first Concerto features a raw brass sound which is downright shocking. Suddenly all sorts of preconceptions are thrown out of the window. Lines that have been embedded in the mix in previous recordings now glisten forth. These are truly wonderful interpretations. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
An Autumn dinner ...


Phase One ... venison steaks ...


Phase Two ... girolles fried in butter, oil & garlic ... meanwhile potato croquettes are in the oven ... 


Phase three ... cook the venison (pan-fried, 8 minutes total, then leave while deglazing the pan to make a sauce) ...


Phase four ... assemble ... venison, croquettes, girolles on toasts (fried in the mushroom pan juices), cranberry & apple sauces. 

I paid 17 euros for the venison steaks. They fed the three of us & there will be plenty left for another dinner tomorrow when K. returns (E. didn't care for the taste). Thus: 17 divided by 6 = under 3 euros per person. 

Not bad?
Just found out that Gail - Mrs Frank Zappa - has died.

Only yesterday I was thumbing through a copy of the current Jazz magazine (Belgian or French, not sure) in Fnac which is running a special on The Man. Some unfamiliar pictures of FZ (plus Gail) but otherwise a re-hash job. Stood thinking how that energy has been lost - the records, for sure, continue to amaze. However, new releases just lack the Idea of the Project/Object whatever Dweezil says.

The eras (& the ears) closing in.

Sunday, October 04, 2015







Autumn clean. The sweater shelf.

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As for yesterday's match ... (Australia won) ... I'd argue that England didn't play badly. They followed their game plan & threw themselves into the task. The problem was simple : they were outclassed.

Several things became clear as the match unfolded:

One: as Iain Sinclair argued some time ago, the England Rugby team & co. operate like a bunch of accountants. The slavish following of game plans, stats, etc. produces the kind of percentage rugby which is vulnerable to flair & the unpredictable. For instance, last week, when Wales were forced into rejigging their positions due to injuries.

Two: they lack ball skills. Notice the number of times the ball went loose & an Australian was able to gather, flick, or juggle & keep up the momentum. Also the number of turn overs.

Three: an inability to notice & respond to the moment. How, by contrast, Australia kept looking left & right behind a ruck or maul. Why just keep plunging on in one direction? Shake it up a bit.

Four: the weight of expectation. Here I blame the pressure exerted upon the team by the Media & the Corporates. I read with interest the number of pundits predicting an England win. Really? Yet who would dare go the other way? Interests are so intricately bound up, which journalist would risk the perks, backhanders, & invites were they to go 'off message'? The ITV commentary was instructive in the way that every English mistake was spun to a positive until the last few minutes when the travesty became abundantly clear.

Five: much as I admire the Welsh pluck, it seems a long shot to imagine them beating Australia next week &/or going much further. The likes of Australia, New Zealand, SA, Fiji for that matter, have that extra gear. & I wouldn't rule out France - precisely because they can tear up the pre-match plans & improvise something there & then. Wales used to - & now & again do - but you sense it's been drilled out of them.

& to finish:

Q: what's the difference between England & a tea bag?

A: a tea bag stays in the cup longer.

(Thanks to our SA correspondent Kevin for that one).

Saturday, October 03, 2015


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The Centre Keramis at La Louviere which is hosting the once-every-two-years Festival of Artist Books. A smaller show this year but plenty of interesting work all the same. As always I head for the scruffier productions & strike up conversations. It's always fascinating to see how people are working the space of the page & the volume itself. & the itch to make is palpable in the fingers. 

Getting back in the car I see an ominous red ticket slipped under the windscreen wiper. Damn it! A parking ticket for 16 euros - I'd (we'd) missed the blue rectangle sign. Really sneaky - anyone would assume that the parking lot was part of the museum itself. Confirmation if ever one needed that parking inspectors are destined for one of the lower rings of Hell. 

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Only a few hours away from the much-awaited England:Australia show down. Unbelievably there's an invitation to go out for dinner - I mean really ... 

Just watching the footage on Belgian television of a helicopter circling overhead, troops deployed in the streets, festoons of barbed wire, ...