Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Bafetimbi Gomis as “the black panther”, celebrating the winning goal

The recently released documentary, Jack To A King, chronicles the story of a small Welsh football club, Swansea City, which had competed at the top flight of English football a few decades ago, only to suffer a series of reversals until the community, outraged at misfortune and poor management, bonded together to purchase the club. Even as the switch of ownership defied convention and created optimism, the club nevertheless faced a fixture at the end of the 2002-03 season to preserve its league status. Had Swansea dropped the match, it would have suffered relegation from League Two down to a wilderness formerly known as “Conference”, a level of competition where clubs have difficulty attracting professional players and might relinquish their hope. Fortunately, the Swans (also known as the Jacks) defeated Hull City in May, 2003, to secure its place in the league system. From that point forward, in fits and starts, Swansea climbed from League Two to League One, and from there to “Championship”, the second highest tier in English football. The club climbed back into the top flight, the Premier League, for the 2011-2012 season. Most pundits predicted a swift return to Championship.

Fast forward to August 30, 2015, when an inside-out swerving pass from Andre Ayew, a forward who signed for Swansea this past summer, found Bafetimbi Gomis, a striker who has demonstrated his complete game—leaping, speed, strength, instinct—time after time. Gomis ran onto the ball, and with one touch, beat the goalkeeper at the near post. The goal, at the 66th minute, built upon Ayew’s goal, just five minutes earlier, to give Swansea a 2-1 lead. The game ended 2-1, with Swansea earning all three points in the table, depriving its opponent of same. “Its opponent” refers to one Manchester United. Maybe you’ve heard of this outfit? Often called United or Man U, this football team has collected 20 league titles over the years and wields resources far greater than Swansea—maybe ten times greater, maybe higher. “Resources” must include payroll, for sure, but also financial reserves, facilities, worldwide brand recognition, and international fan base, at the very least. This year, the BBC valued the club at $1.98 billion. In contrast, Swansea was sold less than fifteen years ago for a single pound. By beating Man U this past Sunday, Swansea have now defeated The Red Devils three times in a row, after sweeping both matches last season.

Two of the D.C. Jacks after the final whistle

The Swans will travel to Manchester on January 2, to play the return match against United. Should Swansea win that fixture, it would join Liverpool and Manchester City as the only clubs (ever) to defeat The Red Devils four games in a row. By capturing eight points on its first four matches, the Swans currently sit fourth in the table, an improbable distance between this little club and the drop—relegation—predicted by the pundits virtually every season since the Swans reentered the top flight. The club impresses. From the management to the coaches to the starting eleven to the substitutes to the players not named on the game day roster, the club impresses. We American hooligans howl, chuckle, blabber when the Swans topple a financially superior club, but perhaps the time has come when we should no longer view such triumphs as exotic results. In every major sport, in every country around the world, a side that plays with cohesion can beat any other side, despite the gulf in finances, but these outcomes tend to transpire in islands, not as part of a regular streak. It’s early, yet, in the 2015-16 Prem. Thirty-four matches (and 102 points) have yet to be contested (and claimed) but the captain, Ashley Williams, and the rest of the boys, remind us that greatness doesn’t always bloom from big money, but from a team.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


He hallucinated the presence of a girlfriend in his life; he was seeing someone.

This vision led to headaches; he took it with a migraine of salt.

His Jamaican friend rode the autobus; he paid rasta fare.

The same friend decided to effect a clean slate with his legs; a fibula rasa.

A band came on the radio; Ramen At Work.

The song, “Who Can It Beef Now”, tickled listeners with power pop hooks; it didn’t noodle around.

Trans Fats Domino came on the radio; a commercial followed for Trans Fats Domino Sugar.

A commercial followed for Air Trans Fats Domino; for Trans Fats Domino Theory.

The man by now clip clopped down the stairs to the subway; he passed through the stile with style.

He thought of two motion pictures that would take place at the machines that governed entrance to the subway; one of them, “Doggy Stile”, predicted euphoric canine encounters.

He traded the word “citrus” for the word “circus”; in his mind, the Ringling Bros. Citrus was coming to town.

The man traded the word “Mylanta” for “Santa” and the name “Klaus” for “Claus”; in his mind, Mylanta Klaus was coming to town.

There were three stars in the evening sky; “Let us kiss three times”, the man thought.

He thought of a woman he really loved; “Let us kiss three times”—and all will be forgiven.


                 Original gravity: 1.0670
                 Final gravity: 1.0236
                 Alcohol by volume: 5.70%
                 IBU: 30

                 Main ingredients:

                 Yeast: English ale
                 Hops: Fuggle, East Kent Golding
                 Malts: Crystal caramel, Chocolate, Victory, Black

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I’m not aware of another project quite like the Duo Exchange / Lost Civilizations collaboration, which was renewed on August 16th in front of a small gathering at the Black Squirrel in Washington, D.C. The musicians who form Lost Civilizations—Ted Zook (basscello) and Mike Sebastian (saxophones)—improvise from the beginning; on this night, Sam Lohman accompanied them on drums. The words—Rod Smith and I doing business as Duo Exchange—have no predetermined order. The entire performance, clocking in at just over sixty minutes, invents and reinvents. For a free listen (and free download) at SoundCloud, click [HERE].

Rod and I continue to experience amazement (even awe and euphoria) over the accomplishments of the musicians. It’s hard not to think of language like “tensile sway, swing-swang, magical fracture, muscular patterning, projective texture” when listening to them. For me, the night created at least three maps: (a) the music; (b) the words; and (c) the two layers together. As a reader, I’m always stunned at when the music pushes me to deliver language with emphases and cadences I hadn’t counted on; these effects undoubtedly bounce back and forth from Us to Them, from Them to Them, and from Us to Us. The learning curve is steep and enormously gratifying.

On this night, I should point out that we were joined by a fellow who, attracted by the music, came downstairs to participate a little bit. You can hear him in the 47th minute, as well as when he repeats a word (“honky”) from the grand finale. Did I mention that we had a grand finale? Rod and I both spoke at the same time as the band honked, rattled, and sawed, from about 47:50 through 52:05. I’m not saying you should fast-forward there, automatically, but you should know that it’s coming. In all my years of writing and reading, I never before experienced the raw satisfaction as I derived therefrom. I’m very fortunate to be a part of this collaboration.

Finally, I’m reminded of a jazz hero—Sonny Rollins—and one of his great songs, “St. Thomas”—as Lost Civilizations played onward. I want to say St. Sonny. Oh yeah!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


It’s not the size of the river in the fire but the size of the fire in the river. As such, you may never mention the subsidiaries of rain ever again. Think of all the forlorn rust, the un-drummed rust, the tepid rust. Let us review our policies and procedures before we pince. It’s time to pince, by the way. Did you bring your pince-nez? Think of all the armies who train to pince, think of all the nez. The French vote either “oui” or “nez” while the Turkic peoples may wear a fez. It would follow that a dispenser could dispense pez or it could dispense pince-nez. A doctor may prescribe a monocle if you’ve masturbated too often with one hand—a right monocle corresponds to right-hand overzealousness. Some left-hand zealots (even as late as the 20th century) became Leftenants; these were the tenants who lived on the left side of the building. They often applied for academic jobs, their exploits appeared in the Monocle of Higher Education. Meanwhile, the musician, Prince, has requested a Prince-nez, from a Prince-nez dispenser. The world had never heard “what it sounds like / when doves cry” until the musician, Prince, played his music, apparently, in a public park, no, the world, until that point, had known “what it sounds like / when doves mourn.” What else mourns, I ask you, but the diastolic beat of the clouds?



John Doe. . . . as Bro

Dan Gutstein

Running Time:
25 seconds

Advance Praise:
“Gutstein deftly captures the ethereal scrim between sleep and the harsh realities of commuter rail.”—Celluloid Tabloid

“A Bro is born. Well, not exactly. He is jolted. A Bro is jolted. Awake.”—Talkie Times

“The intertextual rubrics of the slumbering proletariat are, capably, or otherwise, slathered in the luxuries of gradual arrival.”—Pinko Picture

Other Films You Might Enjoy:


Wednesday, August 5, 2015


The man detected a return of his symptoms, and thereby requested a Relapse Dance, from the exotic dancer. After his cardiologist diagnosed yet a new condition, the man ordered a Mitral Valve Prolapse Dance. For a while, the man tried to live with this condition, but after a fainting spell, he asked for a Collapse Dance. Conventional therapy didn’t work, surgery ensued, and afterwards, the man sought a Laparoscopic Dance. The man reflected on his life, at one of them, ehhh, express kiosk dingies, with one of them, ehhh, gigantic muffins the size of a bowling ball; on the way home, he inquired about an Elapse Dance. Meantime, the dancer was running out of interpretations, to suit the man’s spectrum of exotica. “Seeing as I’m the only exotic dancer in this gosh-forsaken one-Walmart town,” she thought, “I gotta get me a new perspective, or at least, a wee bitteen of religion.” On the occasion of a-wandering about, she discovered a church, a place of well-scrubbed worshippers, the Loofah-rans. Its well-known founder, Martin Loofah, had been a friar, he had been the deep fryer, deep friar of the fries, down at Mickey Dee’s, so he knew about boiling oil, heat rash, and grease trap—just the kind of expertise a lost soul might seek from her spiritual advisor. There were saints and sinners, winners and loofahs, according to the church’s doctrine. After a spell in residence at services, the dancer began to “loofah thy neighbor”, even as she tittered under the electric light, some serious giggle-wattage. She decided to help the man—who requested her interpretive dances—to reform himself, in the holy house of the Loofah-rans. She might even perform a L’apse dance, there, wielding some bawdy wash.