Sunday, December 18, 2016


One woman in the foreground of the market (third from left) resembles my grandmother’s mother.

Many families all over the world can narrate accounts of their relatives who went missing in the Holocaust—to a point. Some narrators, like my maternal grandmother, would have to stop at a certain juncture, and with a shrug, with empty palms balancing even weights, painfully state, “We never heard from them again.” That phrase of resignation, which I encountered dozens of times from youth through adulthood, referred to my grandmother’s mother, Meresse Offen, and my grandmother’s young brother, David Offen, trapped in their native village, Mielec, after the German army invaded Poland. The 1939 Nazi incursion would be “the point” beyond which the narration could not continue with certainty, and the speaker would be left to repackage the grief, storing the information of the loss temporarily, until the impetus for reiteration would recall the names—Meresse and David—to the lips, to be restored by the elegiac necessities of speech.

Speculation on the plights of our relatives abounded. Some family members contended that Meresse had been shot to death after digging her own grave. They averred that David had been sent to work (and die) in a nearby Polish aircraft factory, one that the Nazis had repurposed to produce German warplanes. Two family members traveled (separately) to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where they offered conflicting testimony, one declaring the veracity of these events (shooting, aircraft factory) while the other placed question marks on the part of the form reserved for cause of death. My mother references a blurry event from her childhood, when a former neighbor from Mielec was said to have visited her household in New York, conveying information about how Meresse and David perished. I grew interested in the story, and in researching it, hoped to unearth evidence that might help us shift “the point” of knowledge toward a place of greater detail.

To some extent, this voyage becomes a tale of “Internet triumph.” Email communication with a Jewish Records Indexing researcher led me to the 1941 Nazi census of Mielec, one that listed “Meresa Offen” and “Dawid Offen” as living at “3-go Maya”, the purported site of a family lumber business. Other web sites (including that of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) contained testimonies or oral histories that established the brutality of the Nazi regime when it first occupied the small town in 1939: burning many Jews inside a ritual bath, to cite one example. Knowing, however, that my relatives had survived until the census, I sought details on how they might have fared under occupation. Many of the oral histories suggested that each household supplied a worker for the occupiers, but otherwise, many of those living in Mielec struggled beneath the twin burdens of poverty and travel restriction: few strayed far from home. 

A German soldier snapped the market photo and inscribed the back: October 2, 1940, Market in Milec.

Most of my grandmother’s family had emigrated to the United States in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, but her parents and a younger sibling remained in the Old Country. The family, as a unit, had traveled to Vienna between World Wars, owing to political and military instability in Poland. After Germany annexed Austria as part of the Anschluss, Meresse Offen and her youngest son, David, returned to Mielec, hoping to resuscitate the family lumber business. The invasion of Poland separated husband and wife, father and son. Markus Offen, the aged patriarch, would flee Europe on one of the final passenger missions of the Italian vessel, the S.S. Rex, departing Genoa for New York City in early 1940. Official records describe him as suffering from senility, but he wasn’t senile, he was extremely distraught over having to choose between an unlikely reunion with his wife and son—and self-preservation.

A few months after weary, depressed Markus Offen reached his children in New York, a German soldier garrisoned in Mielec snapped several photographs of the village, carefully inscribing each with date and setting. Perhaps he meant to document his travels as a soldier, but he indirectly created a portrait of Jewish life that would later be discovered by a Canadian soldier after the German had been killed in battle. The Canadian soldier returned home with these (and other) photographs, eventually bequeathing them to his nephew, who, as part of the “Internet triumph”, posted them online as a photoset. Since the Wehrmacht soldier had inscribed many of his photographs “Milec”, the German spelling of Mielec, a Google search for “Milec” would reveal these wonders. I conducted such a search. Up came the photoset, which, by itself, would have been a find, but one of the photographs in particular would draw my family’s attention.

(L) Meresse Offen in later life. (R) Meresse and David Offen, hale and hearty, in earlier days.

The soldier’s market photograph features three women in the foreground, including one who stares downward, unwilling to glance at the camera. Her image compares favorably—eerily—to a family photograph of Meresse Offen, the print presumably carried to the States by her husband, Markus, having fled from persecution aboard the S.S. Rex. The wig style, the jaw-line, the frown: it might be our lost relative, my great grandmother. We can’t say for sure, of course, but the Nazi census doesn’t list many women in their sixties, and even if it isn’t her, it might as well be her, for the woman in the soldier’s snapshot as well as my great grandmother (were they not the same person) probably lived the same desolate, anguished lives under occupation. Subsequent scholarship by Rochelle Saidel, in her book Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp, would authoritatively describe the end of Mielec’s Jewish population.

Even before Saidel wrote her book, it wasn’t a secret that Mielec’s Jews were deported on March 9, 1942, a bitterly cold, snowy day. But Saidel’s book probably helps us adjust “the point” where facts trail off, and speculation begins. Had the elderly Meresse Offen, useless by Nazi standards, lived to the day of the deportation, she was almost certainly shot to death, or if not shot to death, then transported to the Lublin District, before being rerouted to a death camp. (In all likelihood, she did not dig her own grave.) Had her son, David, survived until the brutally cold day in March, 1942, then he might’ve been sent to the labor camp—the airplane factory—outside Mielec, or if he wasn’t selected for slave labor, then he might’ve been transported to the Lublin District, before further transport, in all likelihood, to a death camp. Just as we can’t say whether the woman in the soldier’s photograph is my great grandmother, we can’t say exactly what happened to these two humble relatives. Still, we can shift “the point” of understanding a little bit further into the clarified light.

David Offen was a handsome fellow who perished in the Holocaust. (Worked to death, typhoid sickness, gas chamber, executed by soldier, asphyxiated in cattle car?) I wonder if he was ever “whistled out” (ordered around) as were the Jews in Paul Celan’s famous poem, “Todesfuge.” David had ten siblings, one of whom, Anna, became my grandmother. She famously toiled as a maternity ward nurse in New York, sending the vast majority of her earnings to Europe, in order to assist members of her family and her husband, Emil Ringel, to emigrate. While the Offen family did experience large-city life in Vienna, I’ve got to imagine that New York bedazzled them: the lights, vivacity, melting pot, mechanization, jazz. It was the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie who declared “no him, no me,” when referring to another trumpeter, Louis Armstrong, and the same is true on my end, when thinking of my grandmother: no her, no me. I’m lucky to be alive.

Sources of information:

Oral history of Offen family
Jewish Records Indexing, 1941 Nazi Census of Mielec
Markus Offen immigrant identification card, passenger manifest for S.S. Rex
Milec (Mielec) photoset, including email communication with the owner of the photographs
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum oral histories, including one by Jack Sittsamer
Rochelle Saidel. Mielec, Poland: the Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp
Mark Verstandig. I rest my case
Yad Vashem
Wikipedia, Mielec entry
Paul Celan, “DeathFugue”, as translated by Michael Hamburger
Dizzy Gillespie quote, regarding Louis Armstrong 

Saturday, November 12, 2016



Noun  |  Poll ∙ ster ∙ geist  |  ⁄  ˈpōl-stər-ˈgīst  ∕

: A spirit that disrupts questions for a political poll, the tallies of a poll, the presentation of a poll, and the effects of a poll in determining the outcome of an election.

Examples of pollstergeist in sentences:

1. The pollstergeist replied “Hillary” every time the pollster asked a voter for his or her preference in the election, thereby leading experts to conclude that Clinton would defeat Trump.

2. The Democrats were toppled when a pollstergeist spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential contest, the results from which caused the party’s relevance to decline sharply.

First definitive use of pollstergeist: November 9, 2016.

Synonyms: Ouija Wedgie, Seer Sucker, Tedium Rare

Antonyms: Chekhov, Scalia, van Leeuwenhoek

Word origin: Pal (Dutch, chum) Stir (Old English, porridge manipulation), Gas (Greek, flatus).


poultrygeist: A haunted chicken. A cage-free, pasture-raised, foraging, haunted chicken that lays deviled eggs. Eating the eggs will increase your ghostly cholesterol. Sucking on the eggs will mimic the recent anguish of Democrats [n.b. Not to be confused with poultryheist (grand theft chicken.)]

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Politicians frequently gerrymander their own policies, “calculate” or “tailor” them if you prefer, in order to compete for a particular coalition of voters or to establish credentials for the occasion of greater ambition. By now, the Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton, owing to a lengthy career in politics, including her participation in the career of her controversial husband, has probably muddied the museum of her viewpoints by pledging support for a sufficient number of leaky, contradictory, or even baldly conservative stances. Swing, centrist, and left-of-center voters who vote Hillary must be trusting in the sense that she represents, however tepidly, the inclusive space where most Americans would probably situate themselves. We say “must be trusting” because her campaign hasn’t done enough to define her core values, hasn’t done enough to establish her as a likable candidate, and hasn’t done enough to defeat allegations of dishonesty frequently recited by her polarizing opponent, Donald Trump. The “Crooked Hillary” sticker, which Trump coined early in his battle to win the Republican nomination, functions best when her foe doesn’t supply verification. “Crooked Hillary” this, he says, “Crooked Hillary” that, “Crooked Hillary” universe. Trump also scores points by portraying the Democrat nominee as being mired in the ineffective politics of the past, and establishing himself as the agent for rescuing America from its purported economic and cultural decline. In her two campaigns for president, Hillary has somehow failed to establish herself—herself, a woman, set against more than two hundred years of male presidencies—as the change candidate, even as Trump’s profane orientation toward women has provided the Democrat with ample material for television commercials and reprimands during the debates.

Yet the case for Hillary begins, finally, with the debates. She out-pointed her opponent for all three of them, including the third contest, during which Trump, arguably, presented himself in improved fashion. When we say “she won”, we mean she demonstrated broad knowledge—a command—of various issues, as opposed to Trump, who periodically seemed lost when it came to the inconvenience of details. Often times, Trump projected annoyance or poor sportsmanship. In the case of the second debate, the town hall setting where the candidates were free to roam the stage, he famously loomed around Hillary, lending additional credence to the growing legend of his gender-specific hostility. The stalking, harrumphing, acerbic Trump radiated bullying energy, in how he tried to dominate Clinton’s televised image by virtue of his larger body. It was then, especially, when Hillary wouldn’t rattle, and the toughness she exhibited, the mettle, might reassure wobbly voters of how she might comport herself on the world stage, among the likes of Vladimir Putin, a character whose ties to this election—and potentially to Trump himself—continue to be lightly investigated. The amount of scrutiny heaped upon Clinton’s shadowy but otherwise innocuous email server ought to be refocused on the alleged links between Putin and cyber-crime, including the strongman’s reputed interest in sabotaging the presidential contest. Trump’s own mysterious comments in calling for Russia to hack into, or hack further into Clinton’s emails, ought to raise the specter of collusion. If nothing else, it’s a strange thing to have said in the first place. Of course, the Republican candidate has numbed the American public with his flair for theatrical commentary, and the route to defeating him won’t be accomplished through mere criticism. Trump’s supporters have made peace with his unending capacity for indecency.

Democrats ultimately chose Hillary as the party’s representative despite the insurgent appeal of Bernie Sanders, a candidate whose identifiable anti-corporate message easily attracted young voters, liberals, and independents. In denying Sanders, the party establishment really flexed its musculature, and by “musculature”, we mean the big-donor throwback apparatus of the democrat machine, even in a cycle when many voting blocs hungered for the fresh territory of a political outsider. Enter Trump, who easily and angrily vanquished a host of well-funded, flabby Republican hopefuls, many of whom denounce him, to this day. In the course of consolidating his power, Trump battled many additional Republican icons, including John McCain, the unlikely recipient of a scathing Trump attack. When Trump faulted McCain for being captured by the Vietcong—“I like people who weren’t captured,” went the quote—he unthinkingly called into question the service of countless heroic members of the armed services. Consider the roughly 23,000 American troops captured (or listed as missing) during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, a five-week winter counteroffensive launched by the retreating Germans that created a dangerous “bulge” in the Allied lines. Trump wouldn’t have liked those 23,000 soldiers, apparently, despite the fact that they aided in thwarting a vicious, desperate attempt by the Nazis to prolong the war and cause even more Allied casualties. The Republican nominee hasn’t served his country, of course. He was given a million dollars as a young man, and has spent his life, by all accounts, shamelessly multiplying it, and shamelessly bragging about it, as if that’s the highest single calling for an American.

The great American, Eleanor Roosevelt.

We at Blood And Gutstein supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and as Bernie did, we endorse Hillary Clinton for president. Should she prevail on Tuesday, when the country completes its voting, we hope that she’ll incorporate many of Bernie’s themes into her first term as president, as well as battle the obstructionist Republican-dominated Congress, should it prevail, too, on Tuesday, with all the vim and vigor she unleashed in the debates. Hillary doesn’t strike us as being the perfect candidate, but she is—by far—the best remaining candidate in the contest. If the nation elects her, then Democrats will have broken both the race and gender barriers in presidential elections, despite the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was truly the first, if unelected, woman president of the United States.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Homely streets terminate at the windowpanes of phantom addresses. A bit of salt in the clouds. What percentage the blood from metals?

A scream, a siren, the two together before the scream alone. Purpose crossing purpose as when the purpose of haste crosses the purpose of defenselessness in the witch light of early condemnations. The confetti of isolations.

The single color where upper and lower distance cannot continue as distance. There were three stars in the evening sky. “Let us kiss three times—and all will be forgiven.”

Proximity might be painful but echo requires a neighborhood, an everyday bird climbing through mistranslation. A stripe of sky campaigns between a block of cold rooftops and the westerly hull of a warm cloud. Interior man, limited man, static.

A helicopter rattles in the rustiness of its own levity, bucking above a plain grid. The taxicab driver remembered a boxer, Ike, he could dance and he could sting, the meter nickling a fare.

this post is part of a double issue. also see SONNET (FOR POKÉMON GO)


In the still of the night was the same moonshine as in the still of the day. You keep phoning in sick because you’ve got a weekend immune system. The strongman of Samsung and Goliath slays several Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, before his smartphone catches fire. A detective once explained that he would place suspects into two categories: Alibi Yes and Alibi No. Given his one phone call, the Jamaican tried to explain his predicament—“I’m in de pokey, mon!”—but his friends thought he was relishing his commitment to the anime game, Pokémon Go. Eventually he was freed, since the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. (They were dread-locked.)

When Jack Kerouac wasn’t himself, you could say that he was “beat off.” Literary scholars have unearthed two more J.D. Salinger works, and will now combine them in an expanded collection, Franny, Granny, Tranny, and Zooey. There’s a hell of a medium-cooked pasta and its name is al Dente’s Inferno. Lawyers love the morality tale, “The Torts and the Heir”, but often misinterpret Fort Reform: instead of holding down the fort they advocate for cutting a fort, instead. Surely the wife of a famous psychotherapist stepped into her undergarment, her Freudian slip. Definitions: (1) She peered like a great cat, so the media lionized her (2) The Scottish and their Lyin’ Ayes!

this post is part of a double issue. also see SONNET (FOR ECHOLOCATION)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Seen from another angle as when an area—station, square—contemplated on Sunday.

The expression may calcify into a demonstration of thistle-thorn dismay.

By “imagine your face” I mean shadow, your expression itself a shadow.

These colors: light green sky, pale stone, graffiti: these colors now.

The emporium of youth versus the emporium of adulthood.

If Person A will ail at Point X, then Person B will ail at Point Y.

(Loneliness aggrandizes the symmetrical nature of most pain.)

Whereas a big galosh of dirty cloud busts open a caucus of old doves.

These colors: pale stone, water-wood, radio tower: these colors now.

What brightens the ticking synapses versus what warms the solid state capacity for violence.

The difference between idling (unit of river bank) and waiting (unit of high-rise.)

Rust, rusty coloring, what gnaws into our porticos of awareness.

By “imagine your face”, I mean the uncorrected ritual of love.

Or the sliding scale of sunlight, or the balloting of voices in airshafts and alleys.

this post is part of a triple issue. also see: TRUMP & JUMPING JACKS


How does Donald Trump expect Mexican farmers to deliver avocados after he’s built the anti-Mexican immigration wall? By throwing them? One at a time? Ostensibly, there could be little avocado-sized holes in the wall so these super-foods could be kindly passed-through (one at a time) or of course giant bucket-loads of the fruits could be launched into the Southwestern United States via catapults. Yes, the Mexican workers would chop the restraining ropes with axes and lo, the avocados would fly—into our yards, onto our roofs, into the windows of our Drumpf-fearing children, onto our crumbling infrastructure, into our floundering eco-systems.

Trump hopes to win the election by banking on the fact that people won’t feel comfortable voting for the country’s first major-party female candidate for the White House. In other words, nobody we’ve voted for (except Geraldine Ferraro) has wielded bosoms. To be fair, though, Mike Pence has seemed a little jiggly during this election cycle and Drumpf, famously, won’t release his bust size. To wit, the Clinton-Kaine ticket might be the only one that can offer gender-appropriate bosoms, busts, ribcages, breastplates, and pectoralia. (Gary Johnson couldn’t name an international boob who he respected, so his cleavage won’t be invited to the debates.)

Have you read Trump’s real economic program? Skip to the part where he envisions, as did Hoover, a uniform measure of prosperity. Where Hoover promised “a chicken in every pot,” Drumpf selects the automobile—as opposed to the stew pot—as the homogenous object that will receive the unit of comeuppance. His plan calls for “A Douchebag in Every Car.” Does he mean an airbag? Don’t most cars already possess an airbag? Don’t most cars already have a douchebag (behind the wheel)? Can you imagine GM issuing a douchebag recall? Can you imagine young hoodlums breaking into cars, just to steal the douchebag? The country will be Driving Drumpf.

Donald Trump wants to irrigate drivers just before they smack their foreheads against the dashboard. This, Dear Reader, is what we call “Meta Fur.” The next time you drink a 40 with your (moderate) Republican chums on the stoop, tell ‘em, should they vote Hillary, the Republicans can spend four more years clobbering her, again. She’s more of a Republican than Drumpf, and there are laws against Democrats impersonating Republicans. Paul Ryan can chuck impeaches at her. Paul Ryan can impeach Bill Clinton for calling himself First Man. Adam was the First Man, he was American, and he broke breadsticks in the Olive Garden of Eden.

Just relax, okay? Eleanor Roosevelt was the first woman to be President of the United States, so Hillary would be second. But if we vote Drumpf in November, then Vladimir Putin could become the first sitting Russian leader to assume the U.S. presidency. Trump can, perhaps, buy-off Putin by offering him several detained avocados: a super-food bribe to avoid a super-feud! Be vewwwy vewwwy careful, Dear Voter, be vewwwy vewwwy careful.

this post is part of a triple issue. also see: SONNET & JUMPING JACKS


Jumping Jack. . . . as Himself
Voices of Baltimore. . . . as Themselves

Blood And Gutstein Films

Running Time:

Advance Praise:

“It’s like snow angels, in the air.” –
Cinema Minima
“In six seconds, it is, in fact, a jumping jack flash.” –
Film Flam
“Plain and simple, this flick is ‘jump change.’” –
Movie Groovy

Other Films You Might Enjoy:
this post is part of a triple issue. also see: SONNET & TRUMP

Monday, September 5, 2016


If you want to submit an application to work at the spice factory, you have to visit Cumin Resources, you chives turkey.

Cold weather rarely affects Andalusia, but when it does, they call it the Brr-Brr of Seville.

The lead singer of the forgettable pop band, Duran Duran, has announced a joint venture with an iconic home cleanser. The new product, Simon Le Bon Ami, will be sold in the music aisle (under “American Mafia to Amish Mafia”) and the housewares aisle, under “Remove Crud.”

Charlton Heston vomited so many times on the set of a famous Roman-era film, the production was almost renamed Ben-Hurl.

If you sit on your buttix [sic] all day long and write several novels with critical reception of “fluffy”, you too can have Buns of (Danielle) Steel.

“Intertextuality. Yeah we had that in the joint. When you longed to have coitus with a fictional character—that was a case of intertextuality. I was very comfortable with my intertextuality.”

“Hey Bro. Did the other Bros steal all the pasta from the sorority house?” “Yeah Bro.” “So they carried out the Penne Raid?” “It was such a Penne Raid!” “Cool Bro.” “You know it Bro.”

Von Bismarck has been kidnapped! It’s grand theft Otto!

Let’s say the most haughty rooster is the cock of the walk, then it follows that the most haughty stir fry chef is the cook of the wok.

Fond of removing earwax at every opportunity, the former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, was known among colleagues as Q-Tip O’Neill, as he often wielded the gavel and the cotton swabs with equal dedication.

You’ve had the sensation that you’ve seen the same witchcraft before, so it’s likely that you experienced Déjà Voo Doo. On the other hand, if you think you’ve simply seen the same old crap before, it’s probably just Déjà vu Doo Doo.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


An arm thrown around defunct machinery. The prevalence of sorrow, sorrow as common ambience. What stoppages a grid offers, what off-ramps. The pale, sifted orange of afternoon windows. The pale, sifted orange of careful thinking. The same clouds for two weeks. It needs to rain, and it rains, dotty fabric, the rain. Not enough to discredit the integrity of structures, okay okay. A vehicle cannot pass-through another vehicle. A towering support isn’t two, but one. The skin of obedience as opposed to the metastasis of anger. How many ways to beg, “No.” An insinuation of relief despite the full moon of a lamppost aglittering the sidewalk purified by a victim, just leaking blood. And the footsteps, the babble of footsteps in too many directions, to be understood. . . .


Passenger Doe as . . . .  Tooth-Picker

Commuter Rail

Produced By:  
Blood And Gutstein Films

Running time:

Advance Praise:
“This film gives you nothing to chew over and everything to brush.” –Crown Town
“You still gotta floss.” –4 out of 5 Dentists
“I saw this movie and masticated immediately!” –Paste Haste

Other Films You Might Enjoy:

Sunday, July 10, 2016


We are full of anger and decency—the anger of a fragile cliff, and the decency of a broken lock, the circularity of its loneliness. Consider the percentage of news that arrives staticky,

over walkie talkies. A fact happened. I say “eek!” Jokingly! How the hell do you say “eek.” The eek shall inherit the earth? It’s raining on the freight tracks beside the smokestack,

top of which grows a flowering-forth, deciduous beauty, these flowering moments tend to mimic the rugged optimism that might abandon itself in the commercial forays of our

narrow-gauge politics. It’s raining on the freight tracks near Baltimore, outrageous stocky drops, the mineral concept of dollar coins. A departure bell swims around like (grayscale)

fingertips in (lenitive) wind. Later, the upward smudge of the moon playing above the ruckus of chairs arriving, or the upward smudge of the moon playing above the ruckus of

chairs packed off for another destination. What, therefore, cannot be enumerated? The wavelengths of distal objects? Here swerves the leaf-like trajectory of an idea, forgotten,  

the years-in-relevance of a lifespan or redemption-as-industry despite witnesses. A special prosecutor arrives, sweaty and bloated. He receives one (1) office in the basement

beside the Feudalist, one (1) stack of documents, differing in content from that of the Feudalist, and one (1) forehead-mounted flashlight, to enable the examination of fissures

and cleavages. In time, the Feudalist will steal the special prosecutor’s cigar-pinching device. All citizens shall be classified as “essential personnel”, and as such, issued signage

that reads “Break out of the cycle good” and “Break out of the cycle bad.” American deer, in particular, will offer stern topographies of the weather: doe as hotfoot pelt, buck

but for the branch bristling, the leaves bright with water, the shrink-wrap woods. Strip malls adjoin every hardscrabble America, especially districts that foretell a quilt-work of

calamity. The halo of a drive-thru! All these worlds natural, the heaped-up galaxies gleaming amid the despondent wisdom of coherence. (Too many cars rotate like cakes in

glassy buildings.) Man weighs his deficits on the greengrocer’s scale. I’m so stunned—wordplays flail me. I should aspire to be more than a kindly fellow occupying a space

at the denouement of a crisis, eternally sporting greaser attire with “you betcha” scorn. Let’s consider the pastels of soft-spoken resistance, many such kingdoms, borderless. . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


You can’t imagine the inherent challenges in the new video game, World of Wharf Rat. First, there’s Henry Winkler, who promises you great wealth, but ends up thieving your life savings as part of a Fonzie Scheme. You think back in time, as avatar wharf rat, to a love affair in a British territory, when your partner Left You at the Gibraltar, a figurative Brexit. Penniless (ahem) and loveless (ahem) and needing a tailor (a hem) you slumber on the docks with your best friend, Steve E. Dore, who also joins you in scrapping for meals. The two of you once found some pretty good Maxi Pad Thai, but you don’t limit yourselves to incontinental cuisine. “Mein krampf,” you think, “in mein rumpf, mein trampf stampf of mein Donald Drumpf.” Now you can send emails from the very gasser of your dyspeptic condition—sent from my iBS, reads the automated message.

Day by day in World of Wharf Rat you encounter such shallow, insincere people—you wish each would undergo a glib-otomy. You decide to emulate William Faulkner’s first published short story, and in your version, “Afros for Emily”, a bunch of bushy-haircut dudes reflect upon a southern spinster. Another story comes to mind, “Arose for Homily”, a morality tale about attending church. In your stories, the characters amass lavish lifestyles, and as a generous writer who properly endows your peeps with great wealth, you also oversee the transmission of prickly amorous diseases: these folks are living in The Clap of Luxury. Walking up and down the wharves, you discover a single literary agency—Bald Egalitarian & Assoc.—but its window (boarded) and its signage (toi let) resigns you to pondering your fate afresh. Henry Winkler avatar beckons, Steve E. Dore avatar beckons, Emily avatar of “Afros for Emily” beckons.

“El El,” says a Spanish-speaking avatar, referring to the above-ground subway gusting into place. You may guide the avatar wharf rat in whichever direction you please, pilgrim—El El, barquentines, foodstuffs, Fonzie Schemes, Brexit—but in reality, you’re guiding avatar every last one of us, and the next joystick maneuver matters.

also see: duck rescue


Seven baby Drakes and Hens. . . . as themselves
Voices of Baltimore. . . . as themselves

Running Time:
25 seconds

Director’s Note:
Thanks to my colleagues for bonding together as Team Duck. Seven baby mallidz (whose mother is thought to have perished) were transported to a nature preserve where they will develop oil glands and become the best drakes and hens they can be. We were proud to give back to the duck community!

Critical Reception
“This film inherits plenty from Duck Soup. . . . and squanders it all!” —Lucy Goosie
“Two wings up! Mallard valor!” —Fowl Bawl
“Three mallidz in the Tupperware! As they say.” —Pole Tree

Other Animal Shorts You Might Enjoy:

Monday, June 20, 2016


This hat belonged to my older brother, David, who passed away in 1990. Anybody who knew David knew his obsessions with Cleveland sports. A native of Cleveland, like me, he followed the Browns, the Indians, and the Cavaliers. He bet on them (to win) and suffered (both emotionally and financially!) when they inevitably faltered. David witnessed some crucial near misses, such as the Browns losing in agonizing fashion to the Raiders during the 1980-81 NFL playoffs, not to mention numerous failures versus the Broncos in ensuing years. He didn’t live to witness the Indians dropping a ninth inning lead versus the Marlins in Game Seven of the 1997 World Series, losing the game (and the Series) in the bottom of the 11th inning. Basketball fans, of course, know the LeBron James saga. LeBron carried the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals, only to suffer a sweep at the hands of the Spurs, and then, seeking a ring, “took his talents to South Beach”, where he won two rings in four trips to the Finals with the Heat. When he returned to Cleveland, but lost in the NBA Finals to the free-shooting Warriors last year, it seemed as if Cleveland sports might continue to feature some genuinely great players without actually achieving the greatness last demonstrated by Jim Brown and the rest of his Cleveland teammates in 1964, when the Browns upended the heavily favored Colts to clinch the NFL Championship. With the Cavaliers down three games to one in the 2016 Finals, before completing a shock series comeback, still another Cleveland team appeared to have squandered another chance at a title. Yet, with the score tied 89-89 late in the fourth quarter of Game Seven, the Cavs played spectacular team defense, punctuated by LeBron’s muscular, athletic block of a sure Andre Iguodala layup, and produced four points—the final cushion—via Kyrie Irving’s three point shot and one-of-two free throw shooting from LeBron, who’d been injured before going to the line. James’s performance in the series, especially on the road at Golden State for Game Seven, should go down as one of the great performances throughout the history of all North American sports, perhaps Top 10 or Top 5. For Cleveland fans, it was probably The Greatest Performance of All Time, and today, I enjoyed wearing my brother’s hat during walks through Baltimore and Washington. It’s too bad David didn’t live to witness the end of the ‘championship drought’, but it gave me great comfort to remember my brother’s devotion to Cleveland teams, by wearing the only possession of his that I retained. Today, I realized why I’d kept it after all these years.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


Manuel Alvarez Bravo, La Buena fama durmiendo, 1939.

By saying “I’m sleeping with someone”, the fellow means he’s sleeping with the fragrance of her hair at repose, the forward jut of her hip-bones, the restlessness of her feet kicking the tympanic surface of the mattress. He’s sleeping with the contours of her embryonic familiarity.

The thundering noise from above is, in fact, thunder, if we define thunder with the generous elasticity that thunder generates, sequentially. A hawk lingers on an arterial wire, it was built in a rainstorm, the hawk’s plumage is rainfall, its mid-air colors and runoff.

A glancing moment, as when a boxer must claw the danger, given his struggle for viability within the emergency of his own footing. His opposite smites the blundering footage underneath his wobbly mentality, an idea that implies the spark of a knuckle upon the recalcitrant chin.

Your child years, your work years, your aged years. What a catastrophe—to need—to take action, the way bells and horns regulate the sluggish ambulation of conveyances bound for a hub, a destination-hub, the afternoon never able to clear or clarify its ambiguities.

Everything perishes: the belly of a mural tagged by tagger, afternoon darkening, downhill acceleration, even perishing perishes. What might happen—experts should theorize—when all perishing perishes: abrupt stop? but what of “stop”, seeing as it represents a perishable state?

this post is part of a double issue. also see: Critter 


Director’s note: This little critter hopped onto my sandal and gazed pacifically into my eyes. (I wish I’d had the camera recording when that happened!) In response, I followed the critter—probably a small rat, but maybe a big, blue mouse—for a few seconds as it led me down the sidewalk. It was a kindly little soul, seemingly unfazed by a person, or perhaps not yet schooled in the predatory ways of the big city. Whatever the case, I continued onward in a charmed way, after this brief encounter. (22 seconds, Rated C for depiction of Critter.)

Other Animal Shorts You Might Enjoy:

this post is part of a double issue. also see: By Saying I'm Sleeping with Someone

Friday, May 20, 2016


Seen from another angle as when an area—station, square, market—seen on a Sunday. Little made from heavy (stone) slab anymore. Cream-colored stone: whole cities. A child’s fascination with a pigeon. As for excess—what the wind can’t carry into underbrush and embankments will perish in half-lives. What other kinds of lives does excess (excessive material) lead? What kind of half-lives do we lead? The love more protest than recognition. Uncorrected, the expression will calcify. Uncorrected, the expression will calcify into a demonstration of thistle-thorn dismay. The amount of material aloft. Being first or being best? “I want to imagine your face when you think of me but I can’t.” By “imagine your face” I mean in shadow, in the shadow of your shiny hair, your expression itself a shadow. “The emporium of youth” versus “the emporium of adulthood.” I mean, nature ramifies in order to survive. Never mind the number of birds, the number of raptors, the northern goshawk. In one corner of a cemetery, the headstones under water. The difference between “idling” and “waiting”. Meanwhile, “il y a du monde dans la village.” To get cosmopolitan (to get global) get irresponsible. Wave hands in a fluttering, dilly manner. What cold seeks to occupy as opposed to what seeks to occupy cold. Why forage alone if one must forage. (That way, in a pair, two people could forage a bond.) The paucity of arrivals, the paucity of slack arrivals, the inner paucity, the slack. Imagine lightning—staying around—like trees. All the lightning on the hillside, all the trees on the hillside. The arboreal properties of lightning, the lightning full of sap, quite flammable. Remember: the symmetrical nature of most pain. If Person A will ail at Point X then Person B will ail at Point Y.
Loneliness aggrandizes. The cycle of isolation, governed by a spray of tall buildings, or the sliding scale of sunlight, or the balloting of voices in airshafts and alleys. “Who is bright” and “Who is warm.” The units of earth that the elements rearrange—rust, rusty coloring, what gnaws into the animal, our porticos of vulnerable awareness.

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
Tuesday: The Swans Survive
Thursday: Nearly Forgotten Songs: Irish Rock and The Splib, Part 1
Friday: Subsidiary Needs within a System

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Cultural Affairs Week 2016 continues with nearly forgotten “The Splib, Part 1”, a grinding honker by J.C. Davis. Also posted today, check out Frank De Rosa’s nearly forgotten shaker, “Irish Rock.”

Date of release: 1961 (Chicago, Argo). A side: “The Splib, Part 1” / B side: “The Splib, Part 2.”

Likely personnel: J.C. Davis (leader, tenor sax), Alvin “Fats” Gonder or Bobby Byrd (piano), Les Buie (guitar), Hubert Lee Perry (bass), Nat Kendrick (drums), Roscoe Patrick (trumpet), and Alfred Corley (alto sax).

Genre: Early R&B.

Biographical information on leader: J.C. Davis came to some renown as a soloist in, and musical director of the James Brown Band round about the late 1950s and early 1960s. He recorded a smattering of songs as leader roughly during the same time period with “The Splib, Part 1” (b/w “The Splib, Part 2”) being one of his first committed to vinyl. He may have drifted out of music by the 1970s, but not before he toured with the likes of Etta James, Jackie Wilson, and Little Willie John. Some photographic evidence available online suggests that J.C. Davis attended James Brown’s funeral in 2006. Davis tears the building down with “The Splib, Part 1”, which concludes with a voice (Davis himself?) encouraging the listener to flip the record for further splib, oh yeah!

25 word review: Screaming as applied to uninhibited gyration, it celebrates the moments before pinnacle, the clinching argument, one imagines whole halls in motion, the walls themselves dancing.

Sources of information: 45cat entry for J.C. Davis, Discogs entry for J.C. Davis, Goldmine Magazine article on The Last of the Famous Flames, Book The James Brown Reader: Fifty Years of Writing about the Godfather of Soul (Plume 2008), Book The One: The Life and Music of James Brown (Avery 2012), Google group thread on J.C. Davis.

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
Tuesday: The Swans Survive
Thursday: Irish Rock and The Splib, Part 1
Friday: Subsidiary Needs within a System


Cultural Affairs Week 2016
 continues with the nearly forgotten, “Irish Rock”, an infectious shaker by Frank De Rosa and His D Men. Also posted today, check out J.C. Davis’ nearly forgotten honker, “The Splib, Part 1.”

Date of release: 1958 (Dot, Hollywood, Calif.) Previously recorded in 1957 (Ken Records, Rochester, N.Y.) A side: “Big Guitar” / B side: “Irish Rock”

Likely personnel: Frank De Rosa (leader, tenor sax), Bobby Geno (guitar), Sonny Geno (instrument unknown). Others and their instruments, if any, unknown.

Genre: Early rock.

Biographical information on leader: We know very little about Frank De Rosa, who seems to have recorded just these two songs. “Big Guitar” achieved some local notoriety, prompting Dot to pick up the record for national distribution. De Rosa’s version (of “Big Guitar”) failed to achieve widespread success, but a cover by the Owen Bradley Quartet fared much better. While De Rosa may have played with other musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, scant information exists for this wailing saxophone player, who really hits the bell on “Irish Rock.”

25 word review: Stitches effortlessly between (and integrates) swing, R&B, rock. Undeniably punk. At heart optimistic, a bit naughty, a bit aggressive: it encourages our opposite(s) to capitulate.

Sources of information: 45cat entry for Frank De Rosa, Discogs entry for Frank De Rosa, WNYFM blog post on Big Guitar, Book Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz (Da Capo Press, 1995).

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
The Swans Survive
Thursday: Irish Rock and The Splib, Part 1
Friday: Subsidiary Needs within a System

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


The G.O.P. can bellyache all it wants about presumptive nominee Donald Drumpf, but in fielding 17 candidates at the onset of the presidential season—with many treading into the primaries—the party allowed a subset of voters (25%? 30%?) to establish the outsider, Drumpf, as the front-runner, while compelling the remainder of the candidates, most of them milquetoast insiders, to divvy-up the leftover ballots.

When the field narrowed to three—Drumpf, Cruz, Kasich—this blogger (a lifelong Democrat) cheered for John Kasich, who, although a bit bloated, nevertheless represented the nearly-extinct moderate wing of the Republican party, and although this blogger would prefer the eventual Democrat nominee to him, it might not be the end of rational civilization were he to assume the presidency, i.e. the Oaf of Orifice.

Drumpf vanquished his rivals, however, through his in-depth knowledge of “schlong” and “schlonging techniques”, which involve the provision of “schlong”, professional development of “schlong”, electoral “schlong”, and numerous pontifications on “the schlonged”—how “schlong in America”, if properly wielded, can topple an establishment, leading a voter to declaim on “sudden, irrevocable schlong.”

In an effort to gain expertise on bridge closures, i.e., ways of preventing Democrat commuters from traveling to the polls in November, Drumpf has installed the massive object, Chris Christie, as chairman of his Transition Team, and Christie, equally effective, viz. (1) Drumpf’s Call to Service, and (2) at The Buffet, ought to demonstrate expertise in showing the presumptive nominee just how to narrow lanes and pinch-off circulation.

Lately, Republican voters seem fond of presenting the country with “Captains of Industry” as their champions, including Willard “Mitt” Romney from the previous cycle, but just to be sure, we’re not talking about “Captains” who have built factories, railroads, automobiles, or power plants from scratch, no, we’re talking about those “Captains” who were handed vast wealth, and didn’t screw up at multiplication.

It says Drumpf on an airplane, it says Drumpf on a skyscraper, it says Drumpf on a helicopter, it says Drumpf on a casino, and it says Drumpf on TV, in fact, when you power-up your television set, it burps out Drumpf for reasons scientists are currently at a loss to explain, and often times, now, when a boxer or MMA fighter receives a Mexican liver punch, he or she also says Drumpf, before collapsing in agony.

Google Translate detects German when you enter Drumpf, and it translates Drumpf as flopper whopper, he who impersonates a publicist, incomplete suppression of epigastric crisis, corporate culture enthusiast, avant garde gerbil actions, selective memory failure, and “the epicenter of the fart”, but the thing is, that’s a single word, Drumpf, in German, and that’s what it means—all that jazz!

You’d think the climate would come up roses for us Democrats, but think again, with our second-chance presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, failing to quell the impressive insurgency from plain-talking Bernie Sanders, a candidate for whom this blogger voted, mostly because Bernie is saying the kinds of things that nobody else—not shrill Hillary and certainly not billionaire-class Drumpf—has the guts to say.  

It’s not just Hillary Clinton, LLC that opposes Drumpf, but formidable kababs of the Republican establishment who might challenge him as part of a third party effort to rescue their burglarized party, yet either way, Drumpf won’t be vanquished by reciting from a list of offenses, no, he’s far too crafty for something weak like that, plus many Drumpf supporters, the silent Drumpfistas, remain hidden from pollsters and don’t give a rat’s ass about Paul Ryan or “wee government.”

Hillary (and Bill, too) will be the targets of much muckraking as Drumpf attempts to wrest the reins of government, and this could mitigate Hillary’s effectiveness, but more importantly, Hillary will have to campaign in a way that she hasn’t campaigned before: she’ll have to inspire voters by presenting a clear, compelling vision of her presidency, yet even if she accomplishes this unlikely feat, unfortunately, the answer to “U.S.A. to Elect Donald Drumpf?” may still be, sadly, yes.

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
Tuesday: The Swans Survive
Wednesday: USA to Elect Donald Drumpf?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Man of the year, Alan Curtis

After Swansea City finished eighth in the Premier League last season, hauling-in a club record 56 points, the team and its supporters may have begun to dream of “more”, with “more” possibly equating to European football—a finish that would qualify the Swans for a lucrative continental competition. The 2015-16 campaign began brightly enough, with the sharp, young manager, Garry Monk, presiding over eight points from the first four matches, including a 2-2 draw away to defending champions Chelsea and a 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium, the third straight defeat of the legendary club. But a considerable dip in form, punctuated by a listless home drubbing at the boots of eventual champions, Leicester City, prompted the brass—a bit hastily, perhaps, a bit hysterically—to sack Monk in December and install Swansea legend, Alan Curtis, as caretaker manager, a role he’d undertaken in 2004. Suddenly, the greatest story in sports, a club that had come within a game of its extinction, but through essential community involvement climbed all the way into the Premier League, appeared jeopardized. Even as the Swans slipped into the relegation zone for a short stretch, the steely legend, Curtis, steadied the players, and even substituted briefly for Monk’s eventual replacement, the reputable Francesco Guidolin, an Italian manager who ultimately guided the Swans to safety, including a memorable 4-1 late-season romp at West Ham, a side actually chasing European glory in its final fixtures.

Player of the year, Gylfi Sigurðsson

Nobody enjoyed Monk’s dismissal, especially since the former Swans defensive stalwart and captain had earnestly ushered the club to safety after Michael Laudrup had gotten the sack, himself, during the 2013-14 season. The following campaign—that of 56 points and the eighth place finish—featured league doubles (sweeps) over Manchester United and Arsenal, as well as no extended periods of rot. Thus, who would’ve expected to encounter miserable ten-man Swansea, at home versus relegation rivals Sunderland in January, chasing the game around, immersed in a precarious 4-2 defeat? During the match, defender Kyle Naughton had been harshly sent off owing to a challenge (later declared fair) on a Sunderland player, and shockingly, a game the Swans had earmarked—to bear points—had horribly slipped away. Out of nowhere, then, the Swansea City board improbably produced Guidolin, a manager who captain, Ash Williams, had to Google. After relieving Garry Monk of his duties, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins had jetted to South America, hoping to entice the fiery El Loco, Marcelo Bielsa, to pace the sidelines, but instead, the sixty year-old Italian, Guidolin, who’d impressively managed a string of smaller clubs in Serie A, assumed sideline duties in time for Swansea to defeat Everton, the first such outcome against the Toffees in a league match. Guidolin, an avid bicycle rider who envied the prospects of riding along the Welsh coastline, developed a lung infection before facing Arsenal away, an illness that required prolonged hospitalization.

Andre Ayew became the club’s leader goal-scorer 

At Arsenal, most prominently, the former Swans forward and Wales international, Alan Curtis, oversaw the club as caretaker, and the players responded, producing a somewhat lucky but undeniably vital 2-1 conquest at The Emirates. A few weeks later, after presiding over an important comeback draw, 2-2, at Stoke, Guidolin would lead the Swans to the club’s first ever league victory over Chelsea, 1-0, punctuated by a goal from Iceland international, Gylfi Sigurðsson, the highly acclaimed player of the year, who generated the club’s most crucial finishes. Andre Ayew, the first-year international from Ghana, would regain his early season form, starring in late-season defeats of Liverpool and West Ham, along with a 1-1 draw versus Manchester City on the final day, to help the club reach 12th in the table at 47 points. Yet the defeat of West Ham, 4-1, in London, might provide Swansea City supporters with the most incisive vision of the future, by virtue of its youthful starting lineup, showcasing the center-backs Jordi Amat and Fede Fernandez, left-back Stephen Kingsley, winger Modou Barrow, and midfielder Leroy Fer, on loan from Queens Park Rangers. Wayne Routledge found the net, Ayew found the net, Ki Sung-yeung found the net, and the much maligned (but dutiful) Bafetimbi Gomis (the self-proclaimed “Black Panther”) ended his goal-scoring drought. The Swans fielded players from Poland, England, Argentina, Catalonia, Scotland, the Netherlands, South Korea, Gambia, Spain, Ghana, and France, but the “Tower of Babel” implications failed to materialize as this fleet international lineup flew around the pitch in harmony. Notably, Jack Cork wore the armband, as captain Ash Williams took a well-deserved breather. Ayew would eventually close the season as Swansea’s top scorer, netting 12 important goals.

The D.C. Jacks celebrate with the ritual Penderyn toast

As a founding member of the D.C. Jacks, this blogger toasted Swansea City’s achievement of reaching safety (a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool) by hoisting a glass of Welsh single malt, Penderyn, in the company of other founding members of the D.C. Jacks. We realize that uncertainty lies ahead for the Swans. Even as several Swansea players prepare to participate in the Euro 2016 competition, the club will be weighing offers for some of its stars, considering swoops for other players, and conceiving of its tactics for the 2016-17 Prem. Might we witness the return of Wilfried Bony, beloved striker from Cote d’Ivoire, now languishing on Manchester City? Will the “Welsh Pirlo” Joe Allen, now a Liverpool standout, return to South Wales, as has been rumored? Will the American investment group that owns the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and D.C. United of MLS, purchase a controlling interest in Swansea, thus arriving with a substantial cash infusion? Noting that the great new champions, Leicester City, triumphed unexpectedly with a variety of unconventional strategies and players, but nevertheless with conventional international billionaire ownership, undoubtedly the Swansea board may decide that it needs to trade the satisfaction of being a community-owned enterprise for the added security of greater resources. We’re sure that’s not an easy decision to make. The community and the club have fought hard to ensure a sixth-straight season at the top, a feat that has obviously emerged from great competence and great decency. Next year, the somewhat severe but undeniably generous Francesco Guidolin—with Curtis at his side—will lead Swansea City in the greatest professional sports league in the world. To that, we say, Up the Swans!

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
Tuesday: The Swans Survive