Category Archives: memory speaks

Linger, Renee

O my foregone conclusions, O my
ache of Spain, you’re gone
lay me low old Queen Coal: I thought
you would linger, Renee. Face
darkens under skies torn asunder,
I wear your foot-a-bed stockings
like a lace bandage and sniff
at the rain as it begins to fall.

Bayard St., San Diego, c. 1987

Joe Cocker, Out on a Beer Run

Sometime in the mid-1980s, Don Colvin (1960-2014) sent me this poem. I’ve given it a title and, because Don wrote in an architectural all caps hand, used lower and uppercase in the idiosyncratic way I think he would have liked. On the back of the sheet of computer-printer paper he wrote, “If you publish please refine, rewrite, and edit freely.”

Joe Cocker, Out on a Beer Run

by Donald Colvin, Jr.

It feels like I want to write like the singing

Star Joe Cocker’s yogurt-like, satiric-commemorative, residual latex type rendition of: Consequence, the Remaining Imbalance. Never, Have I heard of that.

I’m sure about one thing about Joe Cocker, that I cannot share.

No other time ago, the Poems were gone. None had been seen or heard from in some time.

The people (Poems) could not stand still for this. They cried out, “We must find them!” And went about it.

It started, well, like a scream, knowing all along that it would be like a scream, but all the while pretending to be one. It wasn’t a scream at all. I twas a force we resist, and stare at each other for. A force we have, still.

The colors streaked past the frightened faces, repelled by their acknowledging expressions, free to soar past in a glancing represent sweep.

“Love to!” The Shrieked and Sped by the mirror of a local sunset.

It feels like Joe Cocker came by, while I was making a beer run. It isn’t the same as when I left.

Linda Marie Cordell and Don Colvin, Jr. together in my notebook c. 1981

My lover, Linda, and my brother, Don Colvin, are both dead these years now. But I just discovered this! I’m pretty sure the initials “L.D.M.” are for Linda Don Colvin. This pen sketch, then, c. 1981 in an old notebook of my horoscopes and songs, is, I think, a marriage of Don’s and Linda’s vision of “A Place We Might Like to Live.” Something the three of us, close as thieves, thin as a Bose-Einsteins condensate, chewed on constantly.

“a quiet place in the country we might like to live” by (?) Don Colvin, Jr. with additions by Linda Marie Macartea-Cordell, c. 1981, Riverside or Highland, Calif. Or Maybe Yucca Valley, or Yucca Mesa….

Two Guns

It was 1976 or 77, I was 18 or 19, not much older anyway. Bi-curious, I was in love and living with another boy my age, Michael. Michael and I had for a few weeks or months shared an apartment in San Bernardino. This is a terrible town, torn apart by freeways (just to mention one reason). And it was like that J.G. Ballard novel where a guy crashes into a zone encircled by freeways, by which I mean Michael and I both thought we were living in a kind of hell, a purgatory, a ghetto of color, gender, sexual orientation, here because we’re poor–and in fact a freeway bridge ramped in a broad arc right around the block our building sat in. And one late night we stood in that tiny living room with its one window on the world offering an engineeringly intriguing view of the freeway but not much else, and we were embracing and we were kissing and–zhit–a bullet zinged through that window and into the wall over Michael’s shoulder. It could only have been fired from that soaring arc of interstate. It looked small caliber to us–but still. A foot in our direction and we might both, either have been injured, killed. We grabbed our shit and right that moment moved into Michael’s VW bus. Left the apartment key on the rickety dining table and left no forwarding address. The landlords can have the deposit, we’re out of here.

That was the second time in my life I had a gun’s attention. The first time, as far as I recall now, was also with Michael. So perhaps these events came in either order, it only matters for narrative drama; which fuck.

We were in Michael’s town, La Puente, west of Berdoo, nearer the malignant clot of L.A., staying at his parents’. We were out late, walking home from, somewhere, a friend of Michael’s with drink and smoke. I don’t think we were committing any public displays of affection. I mean, fuck. 1977. We’re two guys walking down the street, but for sure with alcohol-fueled cockiness moving our groove. Or whatever, cause then there’s this car with, 4 guys? More guys? Fuck, and the guy in the back leans out the window and is pointing a gun at us, and the car goes by so fucking slow, we can’t speak and they just go by. I don’t remember any of those guys laughing or saying anything at all: just staring at Michael and me frozen into the city sidewalk. My memory is silent, as if there were only menace in that moment. Nothing happened; it was only a chill shadow that crept over us, and past.

Permeable Press

A few facts (some may be made up) about Permeable Press. This is a work in progress.

I founded Permeable Press in the early 1990s after having ploughed through several other press names: Comet Halley Press, which came and went about as spectacularly as the comet itself did in the early ’80s; Naked Review, which published exactly one photocopied issue of a zine called (wait for it) Naked Review; and Xerotic Ephermera, the only publication of which was, again, an eponymously titled single-issue zine. Permeable Press published (as far as I can remember) 3 issues of the critically acclaimed magazine Puck; one issue (maybe two?) of a magazine called ShockWave (stories by Paul di Phillipo and Thomas _____?) and several (three, I think) issues of a magazine called Q Zine (thank gouda for google and Jasmine Sailing, whose essay “It’s a Quaintly Weird World We Live In” appeared in issue 1.2 and was voted “Most Bizarrely Schizophrenic” in the 1997 Idiot Savant awards). My, that is, Permeable Press’s, Q Zine should not be confused with Q-zine, a GLBT zine that began publishing several years after Permeable’s 1997 expiration/merger with Cambrian Publications nor with Q-Zine, which “promotes Islam from a Quranic Perspective [and] is dedicated to all who consider themselves as liberal, mainstream, moderate, Quranic or Progressive minded,” nor with Q’zine, a Queeradio show on WXPN, nor the restaurant JerkQ’zine, nor with QZine, which apprently is a science zine having to do with things that start wiht “Q” (such as Questions, one assumes), nor Q’zine, “an extension of Queen´s Alumni Review magazine–Queen’s University being Canadian and therefore above my notice (geography joke), and… well, there are plenty of Q’s on the planet. It is, after all, a lovely letter.

Anyway, Permeable Press went down the tubes. Hey, where’d my money go? Money I can live without (O! thou noble and deep-treasured dumpster), but my sanity–it was a close call. As Margaret Wehr put it in “The culture of everday venality: Or a life in the book industry” (Review of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 1997), “Non-profit and independent literary presses are not able to function adequately because they are day in and day out screwed by the routine and hardly-worth-mentioning venality and psychopathology of everyday American business practices”:

Here is the rap on independent/non-profit/alternative literary presses like McPherson, Semiotext(e) Autonomia, Feminist Press, Coffee House, Dalkey Archive, Sun and Moon, Permeable Press [c’etait moi], Asylum Arts and many others:

  • they’re ineptly run by visionary but incompetent people living in former doll factories in Brooklyn or quaint Ruskinesque cottages in Oregon [this sounds like a reference to David Memmot’s Wordcraft of Oregon, publisher of my novel–plug, plug–Splitting];
  • they have no money for quality production, promotion, or royalties;
  • they owe printers a lot of money;
  • you can’t find their books anywhere.

For those who speculate beyond the ready (and not entirely inaccurate) assumption that these publishers are simply terminal fools, the material cause of all of the above becomes quickly clear. These presses are what they are because they have no money (i.e., are ‘undercapitalized,’ i.e., are not capitalists).

Why are they ‘undercapitalized’? Often it’s because these presses began with nothing. The only ‘original accumulation’ these people have ever had is the impressive shelves of books which they have read and have continued reading in dead earnest since high school. So it follows that these presses are undercapitalized because these publishers are literary people and have no business skills, experience, or instincts. They don’t know how to manipulate their resources so that on one bright day, lo and behold, they could have that mythic creature, a ‘cash reserve.’ But this is all well understood: non-profit literary publishers are idealistic and poor and the only reason they’re in this game is that they don’t like what they see commercial presses doing to their much beloved books.”

Yeah, well… It’s damning but it’s true.

Permeable Press published a bunch of stuff–ink-on-paper stuff–mainly books, chapbooks, and the above mentioned magazines. Here’s a partial list with links to (seemingly) relevant web pages:

First of all, archive.org’s way-back machine can take you back to the 1997 version of permeable.com; just enter Permeable Press’s URL in the search box and click “Take Me Back.” Or get your nostalgia on here. There are a number of excerpts from books and chapbooks archived there, including an excerpt from Carolina Vegas Starr’s novella Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Lambda Award nominated Three-Hand Jax and Other Spells by the fabulous Staszek, AKA Stan Henry.

The Uncertainty Principle by Steven J. Frank, which was the winner of the one-and-only Pocket Rocket First Novel Contest. You can read a review of The Uncertainty Principle, as well as an interview with the author. Dave Langford also wrote a nice review for the British SF magazine, SFX. An excerpt from the novel is archived here.

Several book by Michael Hemmingson, including a lovely little number called The Naughty Yard.

A bazillion chapbooks, including a favorite short story of mine by Catherine Sheer; some poems by Michelle Ben-Hur, who went on to edit 51%; a wonderful story by Doug Henderson called Remote Control…. A chapbook I designed around Rob Hardin’s story “Val Demar’s Pear” is in the permanent book-art collection at the New York Public Library.

In collaboration with Cambrian Publications, Permeable Press published Paul Di Filippo’s first novel, Ciphers, which has become a bit of a cult item. There are a few reviews lying around the net, such as this one at the Center for Book Culture (and that I suspect was originally published in Review of Contemporary Fiction); and here’s the Rain Taxi review. Claude Lalumière wrote a nice article about Paul’s work in Strange Horizons. Here’s an interview with Paul from Locus, and another at Infinity Plus. Web Del Sol has published an electronic chapbook of some of Paul’s work.

Puck Magazine: sheeze, what a fiasco; “The Unofficial Journal of the Irrepressible,” indeed. Here’s a review by Di Filippo of PuckSex [no longer online]; and a review by Don Webb of the semi-infamous psiberPuck issue. Things were going gang busters there for a while. Tower Records sold lots of copies, and then Barnes & Noble picked it up through Austin’s Fine Print Distribution. But then Fine Print went bankrupt and the roof caved it. Fine Print went under owing me for 2,000 copies of the magazine; I never saw a dime of that. Wah.

One of my favorite books was Peter Gelman’s novel Flying Saucers Over Hennepin, which was about, hmm, let’s see, flying saucers hovering above the main drag of Minneapolis? Nah. It’s a love story from beyond the stars, told by a visionary bike-riding slacker. Here’s a review by Bill Meyers and another by Joe Gergen. Pre-Raphaelite Review interviewed Pete in “Interview Over Hennepin.” Pete’s a brilliant writer, deeply imaginative (and all without drugs, as far as I know). Checkout Pete’s novel Moonifest Destiny: The Rough and Ready Balloon Invasion of the Lunar Peninsula of Texas.

Going Somewhere

I. On The Bus

In California, hitch hiking on the freeway is illegal. In downtown Los Angeles, trying to hitch a ride on the freeway is not only illegal, it’s stupid. Cars are chaining onto the I-5 from the I-10 at 60 miles per hour, and there’s nowhere to stop.

“This is no good,” I say to Naomi. “We’ll need a fucken helicopter.”

“Or an angel,” she quips right back. She’s standing facing traffic, her weathered gaze calmly searching the alarmed faces of drivers as they whip around the curved on-ramp. Her swirly India-print skirt is pulled to a tempting angle by an invisible hand. Nearly invisible: the back-draft of nomadic Angelinos lets fly an asthma of dust, shredded leaves, and small rocks being quickly pulverized to more dust. Naomi stands immune, or as if she herself is a part of the wind. She has the slim legs of a girl.

union_station_in_downtown_los_angeles

Union Station in downtown L.A. Image: Wikimedia Commons used under Creative Commons license

Smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest interchanges on the planet. The oil-shortage crisis having been recently declared officially over, it seems to me that the drivers are feeling extravagant, wasteful of their Jurassic inheritance, and heedless of the two waifs standing on the banks of the raging river of speed. Naomi gives up trying to charm a ride with her mesmerizing eyes, and comes and stands beside me. She’s immediately hypnotized by the rhythm of tail lights racing away. Continue reading

River Run Requiem

Since his death I’ve been trying to discover who killed my brother.

Is it a crime to kill a man who longs for death? If a man yearns for death so profoundly that he kills himself, has he committed a crime, broken the taboo? I still ask Chris these questions, although he’s been dead for nearly three years now.

cool_waterOf his death, there is only one fact, and this fact contradicts itself. Christopher Michael Clark, aged 37 years, drowned in the Mojave Desert on August 15, 1997. An amazing feat in an accident-prone life, to drown in the middle of a desert. He found the thing he went to find. Death, I see, is as subjective and unknowable as any other experience. Time is relative, Einstein reminds me, and space is curved.

In the lunar Badlands of Southern California are some of the largest free-standing boulders in the world. Boulders big as agribiz barns. Boulders with such high albedo they’re used like lighthouses to mark landing strips in the granite desert sand. Boulders so big some of them have been cult objects for thousands of years. Continue reading