Showing posts from July, 2007

New Australasian Poetry Journal: Mascara

The first issue is out online. From the website:
Mascara is an online journal seeking to promote poetry of excellence and originality. We are especially interested in the work of contemporary Australasian poets. Our criteria for selection are quality of image, language and innovation. The word ‘mascara’ entered the English language in 1890. It derives from Spanish, Arabic and French origins, its meaning evolving from the word mask, masquerade, to darken, to blacken. The Arabic word ‘maskhara’ means buffoon. Our Editors Boey Kim ChengBoey Kim Cheng was born in Singapore and is now an Australian citizen. He has four collections of poetry: Somewhere Bound (1989), Another Place (1992) Days of No Name (1995) and After the Fire (2006). He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle. Michelle CahillMichelle Cahill is Anglo-Indian. She writes poetry and fiction. Her first collection of poetry The Accidental Cage was Best First Book wi…


after reading Love in the Time of Cholera

Love makes Florentina Ariza cunning, it makes me helpless.
Love makes him mad with a pen, it makes me mute with desire.

Does cholera commit the lover to lifelong devotion
to the one loved? I don’t know. I only know malaria,

the Kenyan sun branding the flesh inside out,
the icy river swirling round the crossing cattle,

and the mottled darkness inside the mosquito net
hanging like a ancient wedding veil over me.

Resistance and Biographical Landscapes

Two exhibitions now at the International Center of Photography are worth catching. "Let Your Motto be Resistance: African American Portraits" features 86 works drawn from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery. "Biographical Landscapes: The Photography of Stephen Shore 1969-79" presents 164 color prints of this American photographer, including his series "Uncommon Places."

Arranged in roughly chronological order, "Resistance" begins wonderfully by juxtaposing two photographs. In the first, Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight boxing champion, flexes his right bicep, his arm stiff and straight, a gesture of phallic strength paralleled by the metal stake behind his bicep. Whereas he is half naked, W. E. B. Du Bois, in the second photo, is starched up in collar, tie and suit. His forehead is a gleaming dome of intelligence, and his well-kept moustache and beard give him classical gravitas.

Addison N. Scurlock
W.E.B. Du Bois, …

Phil Grabsky's "In Search of Mozart"

At many points, this film documentary has a made-for-TV feel to it. There are the talking heads, the role-plays, the snippets of music. There is also a slightly desperate air in its attempts to make Mozart our contemporary. The operatic productions shown are often in modern costumes and sets. The routes across Europe Mozart took are now replaced by crowded motorways. The biographical information presented seems basic, and straightforward. The film corrects some factual inaccuracies in Milos Forman's "Amadeus" (no, he did not die a pauper, nor was he buried in a paupers' grave), but raises no scholarly controversies about the life, or the works. What makes the film worth watching on the big screen is the beautiful cinematography. Some of the visuals are quite stunning. Also, to echo one reviewer, the performers are terribly good-looking.

The Chinese in "Love in the Time of Cholera"

The novel invites me, as the reader, to identify first with Juvenal Urbino, the husband of Fermina Daza, the man who has it all, before seducing me to empathize with Florentina Ariza, the man who lost Fermina to Juvenal but loves her for the rest of his life. Both identifications, so cunningly sequenced, require only imaginative empathy, which I give willingly to get into the skin of characters otherwise so different from myself. So it is with a shock, not of identification, but of recognition, that I read the satiric set-piece on the Poetic Festival, and the Chinese winner:

When a bewildered Fermina Daza read out the name, no one understood it, not only because it was an unusual name but because no one knew for certain what Chinese were called. But it was not necessary to think about it very much, because the victorious Chinese walked from the back of the theater with that celestial smile Chinese wear when they come home early. he had been so sure of victory that he had put on a yello…

Trilling's "Art and Fortune"

In the interview with Mark Halliday, Bidart spoke of his love during his undergraduate years for Trilling's The Liberal Imagination. He quotes from "Art and Fortune" a sentence that concludes a passage about "the beautiful circuit of thought and desire" (James' phrase):
The novel has had a long dream of virtue in which the will, while never abating its strength and activity, learns to refuse to exercise itself upon the unworthy objects with which the social world tempts it, and either conceives its own right objects or becomes content with its own sense of its potential force--which is why so many novels give us, before their end, some representation, often crude enough, of the will unbroken but in stasis.
Bidart comments on this passage:
This image of the will "unbroken but in stasis"--after having "exhausted all that part of itself which naturally turns to the inferior objects offered by the social world"--and which has therefore "…

Bidart on "action" in poetry

from Mark Halliday's interview of Frank Bidart (appendix to In the Western Night):
The notion of "action" in Francis Fergusson's The Idea of a Theater is crucial to my understanding of poetry (and of writing in general)--so crucial, that I want to get polemical about it. It source, of course, is Aristotle's Poetics, the statements that "tragedy is the imitation of an action." Fergusson cites Kenneth Burke on "language as symbolic action," and quotes Coleridge: unity of action, Coleridge says, "is not properly a rule, but in itself the great end, no only of the drama. but of the epic, lyric, even the candle-flame of an epigram--not only of poetry, but of poesy in general, as the proper generic term inclusve of all the fine arts."

But the sense that a poem must be animated by a unifying, central action--that it both "imitates" an action and is itself an action--has been largely igrnoed by twentieth century aesthetics. It was n…

Math is like music, statistics is like literature

A friend sent me this link to Andrew Gelman's blog on statistics. In that post, Gelman writes:
Dick De Veaux gave a talk for us a few years ago, getting to some general points about statistics teaching by starting with the question, Why are there no six year old novelists? Statistics, like literature, benefits from some life experience.The first few slides in De Veaux's presentation are relevant to the issue.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Started reading Love in the Time of Cholera at Christopher Street Pier this afternoon. The Statue of Liberty was small but clearly visible from where I sat. Once in a while, the interval unmeasured by me, the yellow river taxi motored to the pier. Across the Hudson, the tower blocks of New Jersey. In front of me, a very young man, bare-chested, sat in a lotus position. Then he stood on his head. Then he sat down, and bent his leg in an impossible position behind his back. Two guys and a girl sat to my left, with a dog, and a stuffed white tiger. Two men, who had obviously been spending a lot of time at the gym, were talking about their boyfriends, one speaking in a girlish tone that issued so unexpectedly from his mighty chest.
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urge…

James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room"

The significant action takes places in rooms: the huge house south of France, in which David recalls and recounts his relationships with Giovanni and his fiancee Hella; the jail cell, in which Giovanni waits for his execution; the bar where David first meets Giovanni; the room above the bar where Giovanni murders Guillaume. And Giovanni's room, at the back of a mean building, far away from the city center, near to the zoo, a room which is also all the other rooms: memory, prison, love tryst and crime scene.
I scarcely know how to describe that room. It became, in a way, every room I had ever been in and every room I find myself hereafter will remind me of Giovanni's room. I did not really stay there very long--we met before the spring began and I left there during the summer--but it still seems to me that I spent a lifetime there. Life in that room seemed to be occurring underwater, as I say, and it is certain that I underwent a sea change there.

To begin with, the room was not …

James Midgley's Review of "Payday Loans"

James, who edits Mimesis, reviewed my chapbook for the Roundtable Review, an on-line journal of the arts, based in the UK. Scroll down the page to find the review.

Fiction Catch-up

I am embarrassingly behind in my reading of fiction (and poetry, and essays, and philosophy and...), and so I went to the Strand this afternoon and made a rash purchase of $80.00 worth of fiction, just to make myself feel better. What did I buy?

Ian McEwan's Atonement
Don DeLillo's The Body Artist
Faulkner's Light in August
Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera
John Updike's Rabbit Redux (I could not find Rabbit, Run)
James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room

and because I am a good poetry citizen, I also bought poems: Charles Simic's The Voice at 3.00 A.M.. I feel so much better already.

W. H. McLeod's "Exploring Sikhism"

I decided I need to know more about Sikhism in order to refer to it in my "Book of the Body" sequence. (Perhaps I should change the title now that I know Frank Bidart has a collection and a poem with the same name. The ass-pain of being johnny-come-lately.) Started reading McLeod's collection of essays on Sikhism, while sunbathing on the grass patch on Christopher Street pier this afternoon.

Contrary to the older idea of Sikhism as a hybrid of Islam and Hinduism, McLeod argues that the Islamic contribution is not fundamental nor direct. Many of the ideas that seem most Islamic--such as the unity of God, the role of the religious preceptor--could also have been derived from the Sant tradition (a devotional tradition of North India which stressed the need for internal spirituality as opposed to external observance), with important secondary contribution from the Nath tradition (a yogic sect).

McLeod also takes issue with the supposed "syncretism" of Sikhism. He arg…

Woody Allen's "Manhattan"

Watched Manhattan on Thu at Film Forum, and was impressed by its moral penetration in the guise and instrument of comedy. After watching Match Point, and Hannah and Her Sisters, I did not understand the fuss over Allen. Watching Manhattan makes me want to watch Hannah again to see what I missed. Last night, browsing at Shakespeare and Company, invaded by the Potter fans waiting for the midnight launch of The Deathly Hallows, I came across a book of interviews given by Allen. He was not happy with Manhattan after finishing it; he was seldom happy with any of his pictures after finishing them. They did not turn out how he would have liked them. Still, unlike the procrastinating artists/writers in his films, he had sufficient integrity and determination to complete his projects, though they did not satisfy him.

Revision of "Only the Scene Has Changed"

Talk about New York
for R.

1. To Hotel Peninsula

Thanks for bringing me around New York City! Have enjoyed my time with you, especially when it’s just me and you alone...

Whom did I think I went to meet at JFK?
A friend, of course, of ten uneven years, an ex-
colleague, a Malay woman, to whom race and sex
counted for less than yet another damn birthday

coming on your first outing to my new birthplace;
the first old friend I told about my first boyfriend,
an outing of a different kind that put an end
to false romantic barricades like age and race.

You saw me before Hudson News, and recognized
what? My face? Arms akimbo? Pose contrapposto?
Convenient signs that told you where to find Cosmo
or me on your arrival. Defamiliarized

through your dark eyes, I saw my solid ghost direct
the cab to Madison Square Garden, overheard
me overhearing the Algerian driver flirt
on his phone, feared again the fear of being wrecked.

The Honda spurted through the tunnel of the night
lit by occasional lamps jammed in the black …

Reinaldo Arenas and "Before Night Falls"

I was browsing Netflix when I came across this 2000 film, directed by Schnabel, based on Arenas' autobiography of the same name. Reinaldo Arenas, according to the blurb, was a "famed Cuban poet and novelist." The blurb continues, "[a]lthough vilified for his homosexuality in Fidel Castro's Cuba, Arenas finds success as a writer but must eventually emigrate to New York City to enjoy unfettered creative freedom."

The formula should have alerted me to the film's potential bias, but, not knowing much about Cuba, let alone the gay situation in it, any alarm bells would have been stilled by my desire to be absorbed in the movie, to abandon myself to its powers.

The movie makes much of anti-gay persecution in the form of political trials and forced confessions, labor camps, and incarceration. The harrowing scenes are reminiscent of similar ones played out in Soviet USSR, facist Germany and Maoist China. Arenas is depicted as a noble, and finally tragic, spirit w…

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Beach
4. Cherry's Bar
5. Ocean II
6. Beach II

7. Fire Island

It came to me days after my return
xxxxxxxfrom the island,
xxxxxxxthe real ending,
the resolution of this brief resort
to old symbols, experience, of a sort,
and, most of all, memory’s cold, calm burn.

Staring into memory’s eyes, I saw
xxxxxxxthe Atlantic,
xxxxxxxthen the island,
and on a towel small as a handkerchief
my hollow body sleep, no joy, no grief,
like a swan’s wingbone tossed up on the shore.

The beach, burning up the air, was empty,
xxxxxxxsucked me to it,
xxxxxxxto the body
and I entered it. I opened my eyes
and I knew something that rises and flies
from the Ocean had penetrated me.

I am no small matter. There is an ease
xxxxxxxin a gold helm,
xxxxxxxwith a gold shield,
that tells me I’m born to overthrow gods,
born to whistle till night comes and the cold
land gives up its ghost like a steady breeze.

TLS, July 13, 2007

from Robert Irwin's review of Ken Jacobson's Odalisques and Arabesques:
…Jacobson shows that the history of Orientalist photography begins weeks afer the invention of photography itself. The secrets of Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre’s method of trapping light were revealed to a joint session of the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Beaux-Arts on August 19, 1839. Eighty days later, the Orientalist painter Horace Vernet made a daguerreotype of the entrance to the Harem of Muhammad Ali in Alexandria. From the first, the history of Orientalist photography developed in parallel with that of Orientalist painting.


from Matthew Peters' review of Peter Brooks' Henry James Goes To Paris:
In an interview published in 1994, Brooks spoke of the "temptation" of writing a biograpy of a literary figure. Biography, he believed, was "one of the few forms that a literary critic can use, in our culture, to reach a large audience."


Brooks contrasts the concentr…

TLS, July 6 2007

from Harold Love's review of Brian Vickers' Shakespeare, "A Lover's Complaint", and John Davies of Hereford:

Using computer and stylistic analysis, Vickers proves that "A Lover's Complaint" is not by Shakespeare, but he is too positive that the last poem of the Sonnets is by John Davies of Hereford.


from David Hodgson's "Partly Free," a defence of a limited free will against a wholly materialist explanation of our decisions and actions:
But there can be a positive role for a person's conscious experiences in plausible reasoning, if that reasoning proceeds otherwise than as precisely determined by rules: namely, by contributing to appropriate decisions through gestalt experiences to which we can respond, even though they are too feature-rich to engage as wholes with general rules. My support for this premiss is an original argument of mine, which I will briefly summarize here. I accept that our conscious experiences correspond wit…

Richard Serra's "Sculpture: Forty Years"

One can say that Band obliterates the distinction between inside and outside, that Torqued Torus Inversion does so for up and down, and that Sequence does the same for start and end. One can say those things, and other stuff, and completely fails to capture the experience of entering into these works. For these works require your participation, a requirement that is, as Patrick McCaughey in TLS puts it, "more demand than invitation."

It is disorienting, threatening, awe-inspiring to travel along the walls and corridor of these torqued works. Their weathered steel walls, slanted and curved, remind me of mountainsides sliding precipitously towards me, or of cliffsides hanging over me. The narrow, slanting portals are like the mountain entrance to Petra in the pictures I have seen, but they open out, not to anything habitable or human, but to canting chambers of space.

Traveling inside the works, I long to understand their overall shape but the experience confounds that understan…

Free Book Ads @ Muses Review

Roxanne, my publisher, submitted a free book ad for Payday Loans to the Muses Review. Click on this link and scroll down to see the ad. I wonder how many people view these ads each day, week, month etc. Not that many is my guess.

John Guy's biography of Mary, Queen of Scots

It is a terrific read. Deeply sympathetic towards his subject, Guy brings to life Mary's winning qualities and her struggles with Scottish lords and English opponents, including Elizabeth I, her cousin queen (actually, her father's cousin). The archival research is mind-boggling, the interpretations sure and nuanced, the writing clear, argumentative, and exciting.

It opens with a set-piece description of the execution, and closes with a narrative of Mary's final hours. In the first, we follow the movement, and view, of Sir Thomas Andrews, the sheriff of the county of Northamptonshire, as he knocked on Mary's door; in the closing, we are in the room with Mary praying with her servants when she heard the fateful knock. The heart of the book is Guy's detailed interpretation of the casket letters, documents the Scottish rebels made up to prove Mary's guilt in killing her husband and king, Darnley.

And the epilogue, like the closing chapter of eighteenth century nove…

A Home, a Prick and a Phoenix

I have not read the Michael Cunningham novel but "A Home at the End of the World" the movie (2004) failed to move or even convince me. The depiction of the ménage à trois flounders on the unbelievable innocence and virtue of the bisexual man, played by Colin Farrell. The issues also seem overly simplified to one of possessiveness and jealousy among three partners, finally "resolved" when the straight woman left the two men. The film also conforms to the common double standard of depicting onscreen sex. While Colin Farrell's character is stripped naked when having sex with the woman (titillating both staight women and gay men), the character is always fully clothed when gropping the gay guy, played ably by Dallas Roberts. Roberts is also always fully clothed even in scenes depicting his tricking.

Against this American fantasy of innocence and self-sacrifice, the much older British film "Prick Up Your Ears" (1987) seems almost radical. More than a biopic…

Kevin Sessum's "Mississippi Sissy"

I enjoyed Sessum's memoir about growing up gay and effeminate in the American South of the 1960s. The writing is witty and well-wrought. He has a knack for telling a nicely-turned anecdote though, in a few places, the writing strains for metaphorical resonance. As in this attempt to link Eudora Welty's carefully vague love story to her bourbon (a drink introduced in the first sentence of the chapter, Skeeter Davis, Noël Coward, and Eudora Welty):

They were mostly circumspect when discussing their lost loves. Frank (theater journalist and Sessum's friend) would often allude to his "dusky endeavors," as they had come to refer politely to his interest in young African Americans, some of whom had touched him deeply with their aspirations and narratives of maternal love. Miss Welty welcomed these stories of nuanced carnality, as Frank was careful not to tell her the details. One especially hot night under the glow of the big light that hung over his kitchen table, Miss…

"Brother" featured on The Ledge website

Timothy Monaghan, editor-in-chief of the The Ledge, wrote to tell me that my poem "Brother" is the featured poem for July 2007 on the magazine's website. Earlier, he had also nominated the poem for the 2007 Best New Poets Anthology, published by Meridian Press, but I have not heard from the Meridian people. Is that a good or bad sign?

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Beach
4. Cherry's Bar
5. Ocean II

6. Beach II

I keep a respectful distance,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXafter this morning’s incident,

In the summer evening light,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXfootprints on the beach appear

Some vacationer has left
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXa squarish tower standing,

arranged in ascending height,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXthe fourth side two lines

Just outside the stockade,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXlike a medieval midden,

A little further on,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXanother keep, short driftwood

protected by sand ramparts,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXwith an entrance facing

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Beach
4. Cherry's Bar

5. Ocean II

I hailed the Ocean today, as if it was a friend,
buoying me up as if I was bodiless. Then

one huge wave caught me, not unaware, not
unprepared, but with zero opposing force.

This was what being overpowered felt like:
my feet were swung over my head, my torso

was lost to my mind, my mind was thrashing
underwater in the flooded cave of the nose.

Only when I staggered up the beach did I
remember putting out my desperate hands

to stop myself from being dashed against sand.
The cuts on my left palm were many but tiny.

Don’t be a baby, I scolded. Back in my room,
I washed away the sand caking my balls, stuffing

my ears, and corking up my ass. No tweezers,
so my nails picked at the chips buried in my palm,

tearing the tiny tears bigger to remove them.
When I lowered my head, my nose watered,

the Ocean’s reminder that it is not my friend,
not even an enemy, but impersonal, like eternity.

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Beach

4. Cherry's Bar

(after Frank Bidart, tentatively)

Abandoning Hyperion,
because of its imitation of Milton,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXKeats asked his reader to pick out some lines from the poem

and put an “x” next to “the false beauty proceeding from art” [like this: X ]

and a double line next to “the true voice of feeling” [like this: = ].

What he discovered:

Ginger, the drag queen, was having a rough night.
The crowd was thin and hard

was it then the foul-mouthed performer decided
as she had done so successfully
in other bars where the crowd was thin

In her Farrah Fawcett wig, and shimmering scarlet sheath of a dress, she said

—My man broke up with me after we were together for SIX years…


XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXhe went back to Mexi…

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean

3. Beach

Like an iron, the sun
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXis pressing me

I can feel
XXXXXXthrough my towel
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXthe heat of the sand,

and the lumps of sand,

Save me, Ocean,
XXXXXXXXXXXI cry half-heartedly,

The ocean roars
XXXXXXXXXXXvery far away
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXin my seashell ears,

but beach sweat runs
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXdown to the small

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry

2. Atlantic Ocean

In order to preserve my solitude.
In order to preserve the spirit.

I’m resorting to the ocean for help
because the ocean is deeply impersonal.

The waves are strong and cold and give
me courage to disown these gay men

sunbathing nude on the beach. You, I say,
have nothing to do with me. Waves roar

with approval. I disown nation and race too,
and the women, bare-breasted, who represent

humanity, and so, heat, decay, death.
I have nothing to do with you, reindeer.

The waves are that strong, that consoling.
I’m borne aloft by the ocean’s cold lift.

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry

It is to be a short crossing from Long
xxxxxIsland to Fire
xxxxxIsland, the sun
a tent on the steel field that is the sea.
All is ready for a mythology,
including the shortness of the crossing.

But the idea, island, acquires a face,
xxxxxthe white and red
xxxxxstripes of Cherry’s
Bar, the rainbow flag, and the Stars and Stripes,
and, nearer still, the beach hotel, which pipes
Madonna’s biggest hits from the eighties.

Soon I will be landing, trying my feet
xxxxxon the boardwalk,
xxxxxtrying the key
to the air-conditioned standard room
sleep and, hopefully, sex will make a home,
and hours of existential defeat.

Now to face the arrogant survivors
xxxxxappraising the
xxxxxpale arrivals—
bronze helmets of seasonal residents,
bronze shields of departing experience—
“We found the fire. We are burned. Here it is.”

Daryl Hine's "Puerilities"

Read this on the Chinatown bus traveling back to NYC. The heat of these erotic epigrams from the Greek Anthology was preferable to the stuffy warmth of the bus. One seduces, while the other reduces.

I thought Hine's prose introduction says the obvious in unnecessarily complicated language. The very first sentence is a labyrinth:
The twelfth book of The Greek Anthology compiled at the court of Hadrian in the second century A.D. by a poetaster Straon, who like most anthologists included an immodest number of his own poems, is itself a part of a large collection of short poems dating from the dawn of Greek lyric poetry (Alcaeus) down to its last florescence, which survived two Byzantine recensions to end up in a single manuscript in the library of the Count Palatine in Heidelberg--hence its alternative title, The Palatine Anthology, usually abbreviated to Anth. Pal.
What is the focus of this sentence? What is the antecedent of "which"? Why the bombast in "florescence"…

Back from Virginia

I've just returned from Fairfax, Virginia, about 30 minutes from D.C. During the past week, besides celebrating 4th of July, I also visited the National Air and Space Museum, at the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center. Never a military nor an aircraft enthusiast, I still enjoyed seeing the actual Flying Fortress that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima (though I could not stomach the story of scientific and military triumph the guide was telling about it), the British Hurricane fighter that fought against the Luftwaffte, and the Enterprise space shuttle. A Concorde took pride of place in the civil aviation section. It had tiny windows.

On Saturday, I was in Williamsburg. Its historic downtown was a colonial pageant. Shops and taverns sold triangular hats and women's white caps, fruit preserves, blue and white porcelain, and "colonial lunches." Costumed colonials gave directions at the building entrances, re-enacted historical scenes, and marched from the Capitol to the Governor…

8 Things About Me

8 things Brent tagged me to tell about myself:

1. I chipped the back of a front tooth on the carrying handle of an M16 rifle during national service training. Your tongue will only feel the bump of the dental filling.

2. Of grandparents, I knew only my mother's mother and my father's father. Po-po ran a mahjong den in Chinatown after her husband died. Grandfather was a champion walker. He also walked out on his family to take up with someone else.

3. I've never been to China (including Hong Kong, excluding Taiwan).

4. When I was about seven or eight, I accidentally stepped on my pet chick. I tried to stuff the innards back but the chick died still. The only thing I kept after that was a bean sprout plant in a blue jelly cup. Don't over-analyze this.

5. I was a good boy when growing up, which is why I remember the crimes and punishments. My mother rubbed chili on my tongue when I told lies. When I was ten, I was caned in school for swinging on the wooden scaffold erected fo…
I observed 4th of July in two different countries. They were about half an hour apart.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, for a week, I attended a crafts fair in the morning, held at the Vienna Coummunity Center. The highlight of the fair was the antique cars show. Lovingly maintained, polished to a shine, the cars ranged from early twentieth century open carriages to classic 1960's convertibles. Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favorite car. A few of the cars carried plaques declaring their winning places in previous years' polls. The owners, lounging behind their machines or lingering to answer questions, were all white, all men.

The visitors were predominantly white too, many of whom were older couples, some were young families, a few teens. Past the cars, a country music band tuned up on an improvised stage. The fair stalls were pitched in a baseball field. I saw two East Asian couples, and another East Asian and white couple, strolling among the stalls. My sister told m…