The Long March by bart plantenga

Posted on by bartplantenga Posted in Audio / Video MnemoTechnics, Bart Plantenga, Essay, Video, Visual Art | Leave a comment

The Long March

by bart plantenga


The meditation of the trail: Walk along looking at the trail at your feet and don’t look about and just fall into a trance as the ground zips by. 

• Jack Kerouac

Don’t fall asleep on the Metro-North Train out of Grand Central late at night or you’ll end up somewhere you never in a million years thought you’d end up with the midnight hour approaching. If you’d been on that train, you could have heard me repeating the late-night mantra STAY AWAKE DON’T FALL ASLEEP … over and over and despite – or precisely BECAUSE of! – this mantra, and despite me imploring myself to stand up, go through your wallet, retie your shoe, make a list … I indeed conked out, clueless to the world and was only startled awake when a valise thudded against my seat, just as the signs flashed Ardsley-on-Hudson. I managed to gather whatever wits I had left and leapt out just as the doors began to squeeze shut in … uh… Tarrytown! Overshooting my destination, Dobbs Ferry, by about 5 or 6 miles to the south.

I’d gone to Manhattan to see the prog-grass band Girls on Grass, 2 Brooklyn women – and bassist friend Dave. Only something special can drag me out these days to the past-sell-by-date East Village to engage in that most consumerist of sidewalk dances: the shuffle-app-selfie-click-ice-cream-lick-dance. So only when: 1. my critical capacities tip below zero; or 2. when a friend is playing in a girl band at HiFi, which inhabits the ghostly space of the formerly renowned Brownie’s …

Girl on Grass in HiFi

And as I am about to tell you the rest of this tale, I again hear my partner’s voice of reason whispering sternly into my ear: Do not advertise your stupidity or drunkenness – not charming and not a career maker. Not her actual voice but the one my mind has filed on a mental mp3 under Disapproval/Admonish/Raised Eyebrows.

But I’m hardwired to tell stories like this because humility forges a crooked and poorly marked trail to nirvana, or some place like that. When I encounter an error of judgement nourished by alcohol [not too much, just the right measure I thought], it usually incites impetuous, flakey reactions on my part. Rather than wait for the next train down the track, I decided to walk home. By walking back I mean like walking 2 hours to atone. It’s like winding a tangle of yarn into a ball, a metaphor, you rightly notice, for my unraveled foibles. Yes, walk: It was 85∘with humidity at 120% – if that’s even possible. Whatever the numbers, it’s like walking the doggy paddle and the air is a swimming pool.

Read more

Towards An Authentic Voice In Poetry: 5 Statements by Stephen Morrissey

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Essay, Writing | 6 Comments

Towards An Authentic Voice In Poetry:

5 Statements


by Stephen Morrissey

  Read more

Beer Mystic Chapter 33: Furman’s mom visits his East Village apartment by bart plantenga

Posted on by bartplantenga Posted in Audio / Video MnemoTechnics, Bart Plantenga, Essay, Fiction | Leave a comment

bartMnemoheaderHappy birthday/mother’s day, mom, 2015

The decline of my mother, now 90 on 14 May, has been a slow, long descent since I was a teen. In my youngest youth, she was beautiful and loving. But as I turned 13 or so, her inability to navigate her way through reality became more evident. Things, jokes, music began to bug her. Her loving was replaced by a kind of obsession with the formalities of mothering, the rituals, the cleaning, the forbidding – the mechanics. This has increased over time and even while me and my brother were growing up, neighborhood kids would mock and tease my mom and call her Crazy Tina.

I never tried to analyze it until about 10 years ago, when I realized that her life had probably been more adversely affected by World War II than we thought. She was a teen in Amsterdam and had her best years confiscated by circumstance and any hopes she had for using her artistic inclination toward something satisfying in life somehow became secondary to survival and recovery.

Read more

Warning: The Suppression of Mirth and Scurrilous Laughter by bart plantenga

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Bart Plantenga, Essay | Leave a comment

WARNING: High Levels of Scurrilous Laughter

by bart plantenga


“L’humour est le plus court chemin d’un homme à un autre.” (Humor is the shortest road from one person to another.) • Georges Wolinski, satirical cartoonist at CH [RIP]

1a moquezThe nervous laugh, the golfer’s clap of hilarity, is applied in situations involving severely uncomfortable moments of consciousness, when one realizes that a humorist is suddenly talking about you or your type or talking about something you have no clue about, but you laugh anyway just in case – so as not to appear clueless or unhip.

These unsettling ah-ha moments occur in connection with the most scurrilous, upsetting of art forms – mockery, satire, burlesque, parody – which breed unease because here is where we undergo dramatic renovations of our comfort zone. But that’s the extent of our arsenal. They have our health benefits, we have heightened derision. They have the generals & the priests, we have the cartoonist & the stand-up comedian.

That the art of laughing at – & then getting others to laugh at – the absurd cruelty of the entitled, those who possess the power to make but mostly break is something we should not under estimate. The ultimate target of satire & comedy is hypocrisy, big hypocrisy as perpetrated upon us by those we entrust with our vote, our hard-earned wages, our lives, our rental agreements, our subscriptions, our souls.

Read more

Life is Now: The Art and Music of Michael Alan by Mark McCawley

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Art, Essay, Interview, Music, Visual Art | Leave a comment

Life is Now:

The Art and Music

of Michael Alan


by Mark McCawley



“Mostly figurative, and based on the performances, the drawings here suggest an artist enthralled by improvisation. Alan’s thread-like lines are manically impulsive; they barely go an inch without detouring. Short, jagged strokes, tiny loops, and quick arcs make jittery, skeletal outlines of distorted human forms. Hasty daubs of blues and pinks wrap the frames with translucent skin while also conveying the blur of movement. Alan loves motion…”

Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Read more