Thursday, March 5, 2015

CORPORATE STRATEGIST SPEAKS TO MIDDLE MANAGEMENT.




Good morning! Could you do me a favor? Let’s everybody place his sporty sunglasses on the back of his neck, as if the back of the neck had pupils (that required shade.) Thank you. I can observe quite brightly that everyone wore the company-issue salmon polo. Later on, it’ll be Middle Management!, on the loose!, at the coffee urn! (The selfies will be classic.) (I hope you charged your phones.) Sometimes we feel like deer, don’t we?, clipping out of the woods to gaze at the lumbering train as it staggers toward the destination. Deer and train; this is a useful dichotomy. The train—kind of like American commerce. It’s a deer-watch-train economy. (Granted, with some local variation.) We could call each customer “the little ceiling” or we could envision the whole sha-bang as “subsistence level consumerism.” The sheer amount of going concerns that orbit “the little ceiling of a subsistence-level consumer” and you, Middle Management!, will you, too, orbit? Don’t answer. Thank you. It gets so you can’t have a thought about the arts without yearning for a sandwich. The Dutch master, Peter Paul Rubens, for example: the extravagant mythology or (to be honest) a few hot corned beefs on rye, a few Reubens. You didn’t hear this from me, but that continental breakfast looked dangerous; “incontinental breakfast” sounds more like it. Anyone here an Arsenal supporter? (Don’t answer that question.) Anyone here a Walloon? (Don’t answer.) These are rhetorical questions. Where was I? Oh, yes. The Triumph of the Arts. Well, not recently! Do you dig-dug? Rock songs: GAH!: Rock songs. The arena rock wafting (GAH!) as you entered this training facility?  I think of it as an old black turd with white edges, kind of like a charcoal briquette, rotting in the weeds. I threw that Journey song—“Don’t Stop Believing”—into Google Translate and it returned a photograph of a whitening dark turd in Paris, 4th arrondissement, near the Louvre. Anyone here have high cholesterol? This time you may respond (a show of hands.) Thank you, and you, and you, too. Yes, this information, senior management did ask me to report. High cholesterol, naughty naughty. (Ehhhhh. Siiiiike.) I’m not really the speaker. I’m not really from this company. And by the looks of things, I’m about to get chased in . . . three, two, one!


Cultural Affairs Week Editorial Schedule

March 2: Crows & Owls
March 5: Corporate Strategist Speaks to Middle Management
March 6: Kits


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

LITERARY MAGAZINES THAT CHARGE READING FEES FOR GENERAL SUBMISSIONS: AN INCLEMENT LAMENT.




Like most writers who wish to publish new writing, I spend considerable energy submitting unsolicited poems and stories through online submission managers, and to a lesser extent, the snail mail. In the old days, of course, writers would send all their submissions through the post office: a buck or two for the big envelope plus a single stamp for the SASE. Lately, a number of highly-visible literary journals have begun to require reading fees, typically $3.00 a pop, for online (slush pile) submissions. The journals defend this practice by reminding us writers that we’d spend just as much on postage; many indicate that the reading fees help them to defray the administrative costs of producing the periodical. I don’t wish to dispute either of these explanations, but at the same time, journals cannot demonstrate that they’ve actually considered the submission. They cannot demonstrate that they’ve provided a service (evaluating the submission) for the fee ($3.00) they require to accompany the writer’s creative work. At least by paying postage in the old days, I knew that the U.S. Postal Service had delivered the submission, and later, delivered the response; the post office had provided a service. If the journal didn’t choose to appraise my writing, that didn’t matter, because the journal didn’t profit from my correspondence. Similarly, if I upload an electronic submission for free, the magazine can choose to reject it outright, since it doesn’t profit from my interest in becoming a contributor. Unfortunately, these fee-for-submission literary magazines may have entered fraudulent terrain. Who’s to say they don’t delete poems and stories, while pocketing the money? If they receive several thousand submissions, then they may profit considerably without exerting much more effort than clicking a mouse. I would imagine that many thoughtful writers (as well as those who lack the means to submit) are offended by this practice and aren’t participating in the fee-for-reading environment. This would potentially shrink the population of viable writers contacting a given magazine, and to me, reinforce the sense that fee-for-reading journals solicit most of their published material on the dollars of those willing to pay the toll. In order to squash this perception, a journal should offer personal feedback to any author who’s submitted $3.00 along with a sample of writing. There must be incontrovertible proof that editors have dedicated time and consideration. Otherwise, more and more journals slither into gunk, junk, murk, mud, slime, grime, oil-spill, habitat-wreck, flight-of-species, blight-of-planet.


Cultural Affairs Week Editorial Schedule

March 2: Crows & Owls
March 4: Literary Magazines That Charge for Slush Pile Submissions
March 6: Kits


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I EAT MUSHROOMS!




I am ready to report that my most recent durable dietary change—eating organic mushrooms—has made “a difference” in my life. I don’t even know what to call them, white mushrooms, basic mushrooms, simple mushrooms, bland mushrooms, little mushrooms?, but I purchase said fungus in a plastic-wrap container at the organic food store, squeezing one of the assemblage through the plastic in the sake of outcomes assessment. If nice and plump, a good outcome, then I place container in basket. They’re always nice and plump. Mostly, I just cut a few mushrooms (raw) into The Daily Salad. Why didn’t I eat a mushroom earlier in life? Perhaps I fretted over its silly appearance, or I worried that it would taste like paste, or maybe I figured that friends would poke me with accusations. Now hear this, smart aleck: I’m not talking about a “shroom”, the mystical, elusive medication that ostensibly matures beneath a cow-pattie, whole bags of which have failed to enlighten a single thrill-seeker. No, I’m not talking about a “shroom”, but a plain legume that has bestowed upon me what I will call “a difference.” First, before I describe “a difference”, I must insert some science. Namely, I have made no other durable changes in dietary endeavors of late, my intake otherwise continuing to involve the basic food groups: fine stouts and ales, The Daily Salad, coffee, snacks, and protein. Thus, the addition of a mushroom must be the cause of “a difference.” O, rubbery toadstool! O, noteworthy contribution! O, neutral texture! But I digress. I am, in a word, better. This is “a difference”. Sure, it could be a phase, this betterment, it could be an error in accountancy, it could be an intoxication borne of a sudden enthusiasm, but it’s not. I am—in a word—better. Sitting there, during Rockford Files reruns a few weeks ago, I had to ask myself: What accounts for this smoother existence, if not the mushroom? In a world where television and doctors insist that you must have a moderate-to-severe pre-illness, and you probably don’t (believe me) you probably don’t suffer from a moderate-to-severe pre-illness, I am here to say, as a fellow who felt fine to begin with, why not institute a trial mushroom regimen? The organic mushroom, my friends, contains a respectable loveliness inside every little cap, O yes.


Cultural Affairs Week Editorial Schedule

March 2: Crows & Owls
March 3: I Eat Mushrooms!
March 6: Kits

Monday, March 2, 2015

CROWS & OWLS.




The crow can count, we’ve heard of birds gifted with mathematics, the crow can count. “One, two, three owls”, it counts, except in corvine monosyllabic, not English. It lets the entire village know, “One, two, three owls”, its shrieks-and-cacks worse than those of any doomsayer, any ruddy stumblebum, any witch stirring any cauldron in the vicinity of any petrified shrubbery. I hear, you hear, we hear; the one, two, three owls hear the crow’s actuarial deductions. The mother owl spreads her wings so wide, she resembles a blanket of owl, a shocking feathery shroud that will, one day, envelop an entire tree full of crows in a Middle Ages swoop so feral and exacting, the crow community will, one day, lament the owl-action in mournful ethnic dirges as somber as the southern sun embalming the tintypes of vellum clouds. (We speak of American crows, great horned owls.) For now, though, the owl must impress the growing ruckus of crows with its tomfoolery attack, beak clacking with the violence of its imagination. The other owls aren’t owls yet, but owlets, white fluffy youngsters who clash heads owing to uncertain footing in their country of air, their sturdy aerie, their dizzying altitude. The crows cackle in the upward-climbing false lightning of a bare tulip poplar, then blow toward the elliptical promises of a compass point, the steam or smoke punched from a solitary chimney. How noise recedes, how the crows assimilate, how the owls stamp down their outrage. In their ensuing vigilance, the owls may enter the luxury of ideas. They think “I am commodity”; they think “What is commodity?” They have simple demands. A wading bird they would like to eat, a rodent they would like to eat, and they do demand, and they will eat, for there is a fourth owl, a father who hunts in the shadow-play of receding fears and quiet plumage. In a few weeks, the one, two, three owls will disembark from the nest, three wrenches of big-talon fabric winging toward a set of (a population of) improvisations. I will see this; you will see; we will see; and as for the crow, the crow can count. No more owls in the aerie, it will note. The danger no longer constrained to a domicile, but three drops of dye (four, to be exact) that strictly color the minutes and seconds of the impulse to covet any direction, whatsoever.


Cultural Affairs Week Editorial Schedule

March 2: Crows & Owls
March 6: Kits

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

LOST MY WHITE PRIVILEGES.




I haven’t been sent to bed without any supper, I haven’t been restricted to bread and water, I haven’t lost $0.50 of my weekly allowance. No, I’ve lost my White Privileges. The Committee decided this in private, and then, in a demonstration of thorny solidarity, delivered the edict at the round table, their eyes averted, arms folded. “But I’m an adult”, I protested. “Which privileges are we talking about? You’re white”, I added. They went about their day—the application of sunscreen, the resistance to cultural information, the receipt of emails about god’s intent. A man came to the door with a package from a retailer. Before he left, he discovered a second package from a second retailer. The clock neared 4:00 p.m., the air about us darkening to sterile gray. We sat again, this time with a soup babbling on the stove, the burner on simmer. I expressed my sorrow with a number of hand gestures, facial gestures, and catchy phrasings, a genuine attempt to express my aimlessness, and The Committee relented, restoring my White Privileges. We ladled soup; we slurped soup; we dined together in an atmosphere of plenty.


This week’s double issue includes WHO PHONES THE BIG FELLA?

WHO PHONES THE BIG FELLA?




Ring tones rouse the Big Fella in the four-seater, windowless. He’d fallen asleep with his lunch in his lap, after rainy day fliers boarded at the airport station. The train hustles toward a mid-route, step-down stop. “Oh no!” says the Big Fella. He refers to an interpersonal crisis. “I’m off tomorrow,” he admits, offering fifty percent of a solution. Maybe it’s Reason on the phone, maybe it’s Diminutive on the phone, maybe it’s Bad Mouth calling. The Big Fella nods. Every time he nods, he tries to interject, but his words sound like a finger rapped by fan blades whizzing on medium. The Big Fella resumes his lunch. “Mmmm,” he says, to the food. The phone sits on the seat-cushion beside him, gargling in digital dialect. The workers who sewed the Big Fella’s tremendous white shirt and his ballooning black sweatpants already envisioned a world of exaggeration. The train’s through-whistle clobbers the corridor of its through-action, claiming to be the baddest brute for miles.


This week’s double issue includes LOST MY WHITE PRIVILEGES.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP.



You know the holiday season approaches when songs like “Jingoism Bells” play on the radio. Whatever the sky a cloud field. How can I tell the difference between a Category 2 and Category 3 wet dream? A policeman will “tail”, he learned to “tail” from his Theories of Tailing course, he once fired a large pistol at a non-menacing paper target. I called the automated service, BoxerFone, for information on nearby bouts and rings. Lightning that enters the human body through the left foot always exits through the right thumb. If a drug made you impotent then you must’ve dropped flaccid. One could travel a distance to effect shorter jail sentences—i.e., commute to commute. A skill set for this (current) world or a skill set for a world in ruins: what’s the difference? He masturbated to online questionnaires, yeah, he spanked the Survey Monkey. Joking, smoking, de-cloaking, poking, evoking royalty. When a herd of cattle eats marijuana, the steaks are high. The Italian restaurant brought a bib for its patrons who ordered soup, a gazpancho. Whatever the sky a cloud field.


Breaking news: WHEN THE WORLD ENDS