Monday, April 30, 2007

Leg Work, or Lady Cab Driver

Follow that car, Angel,
not too close, but hold it
in your eyes loose as
wilted hope, loose as
a rose in your teeth, hold it,
honey, an American
Beauty you uncovered

from under your brown,
down duvet, delivered
beau-to-be unknown,
though yesterday you left
a sack of pulled teeth,
bait, beneath your pillow,
hoping to snare some fine

fairy to settle down with
out San Berdoo ways
where the saguaros case
the night as she ducks her
stars in a half-collapsed
mineshaft, where
succulents grow fat as

water drops dangling
from rust crusted spigots,
waiting to drip with an
aperiodic dynamic better
suited to some pacific
wild child ringed with fire
and running a fever,

whose waving silvered
mane dances, a man
burning in the dry night
whose fancy turns, like
you oughta do, Angel, on
a dime, onto Coldwater
Canyon to cut through

this clattered hill, light
through glass, sweat
through skin, whispers
through a wall, a smoky
insinuation and nothing
more, dropping us behind
our charcoal Chrysler like

the peppered swing of an
artful alto solo, the nose
of each note brushing
against the back of the
beat, which marches on,
moving unmoved, in
Mickey Moused feet past

Camp Pendleton and into
the sea, the bass line lost
to the smog, the audience,
the chatter, the dishware’s
rattle and the high clean
crash of a lowball shatter,
where it’s lost in groans

of a pleased patron in the
men’s room working a
tail job of his own, and
leaving, believe it, a tip
big enough to make some
not just a bus boy’
Monday night.

Marlowe's Mantra


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Information Overload

It has become so accepted a truism that we live in a world of "information overload" as to be a cliche. Blackberries, email updates, compulsive texting and -- lord help us -- now it seems that every idiot with a laptop's got to have a blog (wink, wink).

Thing is, people have the situation exactly wrong. We actually live in a world of information deprivation. The more time we spend online or reading texts or ignoring the person next to us at the bar so we can read the scroll bar at the bottom of the CNN news ticker, the higher a percentage of our sensory input is devoted to discrete pieces of information: words, letters, numbers; rather than the constant sensory flux of interacting with a dynamic environment. In quantitative terms, a walk through the woods involves magnitudes of order more information in the form of visual, audio, and tactile stimulation absent from anything broadband can provide. Ask any roboticist and she'll tell you that the hurdles presented by developing a machine that can navigate the web are inconsequential compared to those presented by the development of a machine to navigate your living room.

All this isn't to say that our constant complaints are a symptom of some sort of cultural hypochondria. Rather, when we talk of "information overload," we're dealing with a botched pathology. What we do experience these days is discursive information overload. More and more, we get our info not in the form of raw sensory data, but rather in the form of propositional statements -- the world filtered through the symbolic medium of language rather than the world itself.

Now, this may, theoretically, be a temporary phenomenon. We are slowly moving toward a medial environment in which incoming bandwidth will exceed our processing capacity, where, like the Star Trek Holodeck, media will be capable of presenting a sensory environment indistinguishable from reality. Of course, dreams of virtual reality remain just that, dreams, and they show little evidence of approaching realization in the foreseeable future. (Not to mention the difficulties required of developing an adequate interface with such a system as well as the near insurmountable difficulties involved in producing content for an immersive world.)

But fantasies of Holodecks are like plans for building a Utopia, lots of fun and totally worthless. It seems unlikely, once our medial systems do manage to approximate the information bandwidth of lived experience, that most of us will choose to replicate in that future media environment a world as rich in sensory data as the real world. After all, as a culture, we generally choose to eschew the vivid pleasures of nature for the clean lines and discrete interfaces of our homes and laptops. Information is, after all, generally more distracting than functional, and as long as we plan to utilize it as a tool, we will require that it be user friendly, that it, keep us in an environment where we are so distracted by an overload of discrete, discursive information, that we can't stop and smell the analog (or at least digitally simulacral) roses.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Marlowe Catches a Catnap in the Hollywood Public Library

Face flat on the broad expanse of readingroom tableland,
the slow puddle oozing from unmoved mouth
bears a striking resemblance to a lemon tree, wood grain
reprising the role it made famous,
a performance so overwhelmed by resemblance
that a conveniently passing Bette
rests her Davis eyes on the fortuitous collaboration
of spit and tablewood and is overcome by the sublimity
of chance. “Son, son,” she shakes his shoulder, “Son,
look thee what fortune hath bred in the dam of thy mouth.
Methinks the many-fingered Fates
do make merry with thy lips, that there be auguries
potent as dregs to be read in the image sketched yonder,
that perhaps the heavenly realm hath breached our borders
and rushes to infiltrate thy form to a purpose
bred on high,” she contorts her voice to a stage whisper,
“or else sired low in Old Nick’s dark and hirsute loins.”

Marlowe unpeels himself from sleep and stares up ,
awash in the murk of waking. “Listen lady,
I don’t know if you’re accustomed to rousing
strangers and speaking in tongues, but buzz off.”

“Zounds, but thou bear likeness to another man I know!”
She tugs at Marlowe’s hair testingly. “Alas, thy pelt
is thy own, while Humphrey wears a wig to foliate
the desert of scalp that dominates his caput. My friend,
thou art my Bogie un-Delilah-ed by time’s razing.

Why, it seems that thou hath bent history’s arrow
Back upon itself that I might observe
the true circuity of its coursing. I thank thou, son,
and take my leave to procure a phial
of that elixir known as lemonado, that its paralyzing acid
might burn time’s etching from my face as it has from thine,”

she says, as in the stacks a familiar librarian
runs her finger along the course of her lips,

runs her finger,
stifling an endless romance of cigarettes,
the rigid consonants of a Slavic tongue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Bottle of Pretty Good Rye


In the event of fire, merge
With ammonia. Smoke
The screen like a cheap cigar.
Step through the silver and
Scream fire
In the clouded theatre.


Sip fire
From a dusty drawer : dis-
Tilation of St. Anthony.
Marlowe, might blighted grain
Pack a punch you can’t duck?
The brunette — sweltered in
Hair, dilating your
Pores — what ergotic bobbypin
Has she up her bun?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bogie Shows His Chops

act the auntie, boy, tip the brim,
a pair of pedagoggles, natch,
hang my voice from a birdtwitter,
and draw a line from Hollywood
Public Library straight to your
back door : ma’am, happen
to have a Ben Hur 1860? first? no,
third, erratum in the air?
those duplicate sets of steel
engravings, tuppence colored
and a penny plain. Low latin
leaking unchecked verbiage
from backroom doors.
no. i’m sorry. no.
nothing but a
long legged booklegger,
offended by a coupla’ grapefruits,
a front to hide behind.
Sez Bogie, regarding him-
self in the bookcase glass.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Marlowe Browses Geiger's Smut Hut

Lay your knife into those grapefruits, boy.
Peel page from pith from pip —
Ocean bottom book browsing. What
Volumes of vellum and acid tanned / hide
Your love away along a lonesome country road,
Wind interminable in this season of wind?
So Geiger’s nudie pics ain’t what they seem
You say? Randy backalley road atlas
Of road joining and rail coupling and emery-sanded skin
Becomes the billowing curves of dunes
And salt flats shot white as wedding sheets
Where one small spot of blood
Marks America’s native face. Yes,
Geiger trafficked in illicit landscape photography,
Yes, you yell, Yes! Land opened for homestead ’n’ bedding,
Marlowe runs two fingers, splayed legs, across the page,
Divine rods feeling dark rushing flush of fluid
Beneath the page. The kingdom of production lies deep,
Deep within the boiling bowels of the Earth. Past the cast of
Creaking derrick-hairs decorating the globe’s cleft flesh,
And beyond the pubic tangle of power lines and public works
Sewage pipes churns the steaming wreak of shit-reeking
Creation, and you, yes you, Marlowe, protector
Of the holiest of holies, drop to your knees
And lift your lips to kiss the dark goat
At its puckered pump.

Don’t worry, kid, they’ll be very tasteful.
Artistic, even.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

L.A. Lawn Care

Sprinklers spring to life :
Twenty sharps clearing air.

California blossoms black.
The tarry night.

Reel III : Leg Work

The fundamental principal . . . I am advocating is to respect the nature of the medium into which life is being inoculated, and to find the natural form of life in that medium.
— Tom S. Ray