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Business Items

27 Oct. 05: TNR Gold Corp. (TSX-V: TNR) has announced that it has received assay results from its 2005 drilling program on the new Winchester Gold Zone of the Shotgun Project in Alaska.  Assays from six drill holes spread more than 1000m apart returned anomalous gold values and warrant further drilling and exploration, the company reported.

A total of 1754.3 ft (534.7 m) of diamond drilling in six holes was completed on the Winchester Zone, the southern-most target of the Shotgun Project approximately 18km south of the main Shotgun Zone.  Hole DDH05-32 collared in a medium grained felsic intrusive that averaged 1.60 g/t over 14.3m (including 3.93 g/t over 2.13m) from surface to the contact with Kuskokwim sediments.  DDH05-31 located 50m to the east collared in similar intrusive and averaged 0.47 g/t over the first 5.9 metres (including 3.62g/t Au over 0.15m) with the last 2.0 metres of this interval being in sediments.  Two other shorter intercepts of felsic intrusive deeper in DDH05-31 carried 1.03 g/t over 2.3m and 0.94 g/t over 2.9m.  DDH05-33 located 300m northwest of DDH05-32 also collared in medium grained felsic intrusive.  From surface to the contact with sediments, the intrusive was anomalous in gold (0.43 g/t over 7.6m) and in the pathfinder suite As-Bi-Cu-Mo-W.  DDH05-28, 29 and 30 located 780m southeast of DDH05-32 encountered feldspar porphyry and no sediment.  Anomalous gold was encountered in DDH05-28 and 30 (0.52 g/t over 6.1m and 0.63 g/t over 4.6m respectively).  Gold anomalies in these holes were associated with anomalous As-Bi-Cu-W values.  Elevated pathfinder values were intermittent thoughout the 92.7 metre DDH05-30.



7 Sept. 05:
Northern Lion Gold Corp. (TSX-V: NL) recently reported that the company received fire assay results for the final diamond drill holes of its spring drill program on its 100-per-cent-owned Haveri gold project, in Finland. These holes were part of a nine-hole campaign of drilling (3,213.6 metres) designed to further investigate the lateral and depth extent of high-grade gold mineralization (9.2 metres grading 27.20 grams per tonne Au in hole TS-06), occurring in areas of silicification and quartz veining within altered volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks, that was discovered by the company earlier this year. The Breakthrough zone, as presently known, is located immediately to the west (MW holes) and south (TS and SK holes) of the Haveri open pit, and the silicified, gold-bearing areas within it have been observed at vertical depths ranging from 130 metres and 320 metres. The limits of this new zone have not yet been defined.



29 July 05: Yesterday I accepted a permanent faculty appointment in Kwantlen University College's School of Business, teaching in the Department of Applied Communication as well as the in the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. I am completely delighted.

Kwantlen



5 July 05: 
Kwantlen University College has applied to the provincial government to change its name to Kwantlen University. 



8 July 05:  Argent Resources Ltd. (TSX-V: AOU) recently released assay results from the winter-spring diamond drilling program at the Timmins offsets gold project. The program consisted of 2,067 metres in eight holes focusing on further definition of the extent and controls of mineralization on the property. Drilling tested the model of major vein zone geometry derived from compilation of previous drill data, including Argent's phase 1 program in 2004. Visible gold was noted in hole A05-01, and a one-metre intercept in hole A05-2 assayed at 75.7 g/t Au. (Read the complete news release here.)


7 June 05: Dasher Exploration Ltd.'s (TSX-V:DAE) trenching program on its La Juliana Project, in Sonora State, Mexico, has demonstrated the presence of anomalous gold throughout the exposed main structure. The sampling program has also exposed a newly discovered parallel trend located approximately 200 metres to the east of the original La Juliana trend.


28 April 05:  Northern Lion Gold Corp. (TSX-V: NL) has announced that its first hole to test a new zone of gold mineralisation at its 100%-owned Haveri Gold Project in southwestern Finland has yielded significant gold grades and intersections. Hole TS-06, drilled to test the new zone (called the “Breakthrough Zone”), encountered four separate bands of gold mineralisation, the most significant of which graded 27.2 grams per tonne of gold over 9.2 metres. Core from two of the four intervals was observed to contain fine disseminations of visible gold. (Click here for the complete news release.)


9 March 05:  Dasher Exploration Ltd. (TSX-V: DAE) has announced that trenching program is under way on its La Juliana Project, in Mexico. Four trenches have now exposed favourable structure and mineralization over a projected strike length of 450 metres. The most southern trench, designed to test and expose a soil anomaly, is 450 metres south of the historical workings. All four trenches have exposed intensely silica-flooded hematite breccia, identical in structure and mineralization to that which hosts the high-gold values in the historical workings to the north.  A 2,500-metre diamond drill program is scheduled to begin the second week of April, 2005.

The La Juliana property covers 700 hectares in the Mulatos mining district, in eastern Sonora state, Mexico. The company has the right to earn a 60-per-cent interest in the property from Chesapeake Gold Corp.



11 Feb. 05: 
Argent Resources Ltd. (AOU:TSX-V) reported during market hours today that diamond drilling on the Iron Lake copper, gold, PGM (nickel) property in central British Columbia has intersected massive sulphide mineralization in two holes.  The massive sulphide mineralization encountered is believed to be magmatic in origin.  Shares in the company traded heavily on the news and closed at $0.16, up six cents, with a volume of 1.2 million shares.


25 Jan. 05:  Basil Communications Inc. client Dasher Exploration Ltd.  (TSX-V: DAE) has uploaded a helpful new factsheet.  Last week the company announced that exploration crews had established 17.8 kilometres of grid and had taken 785 soil samples and 42 rock chip or grab samples on the property. Anomalous gold values obtained by both the company and previous operators from a series of structures appeared to occur along a trend that extends for over 1,000 metres. 

Previous sampling at La Juliana had suggested that, while the trend of high-grade (greater-than-10-gram) surface showings remained open to the north, this central pit area marked its southern termination. The latest results now suggest that this trend remains open to the south as well.



9 Jan. 05: 
The British Columbia Government Employees Union will begin its "rotating strike action" at Kwantlen University College tomorrow. I'm not crossing the picket line, but I am terribly uncomfortable missing any of my classes.

 


 


 



Notes & Miscellany

14 Dec. 05: basil.CA will be on hiatus through to the new year. I hope everyone has a delightful holiday.



1 Dec. 05:
The Bush Administration points to the giving of Korans to Guantanamo "detainees" as proof of American decency. It probably isn't, sadly. Joseph Lelyveld explains in a current New York Review of Books essay, "The Strange Case of Chaplain Yee," that humiliation and not spiritual sustenance is the goal:

Newsweek appears to have got it wrong last year when it reported that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at Camp Delta (not an easy thing to accomplish, if you think about it). But abuse of the holy book that the command had so proudly installed in every cell, like a Gideon Bible in a hotel room, was a chronic issue, providing the kindling for most of these flare-ups. What he calls "the worst incident I was aware of" occurred in late July 2003 when, he tells us, an interrogator threw a detainee's Koran on the floor, "stepped on it, and kicked it across the room." When word of the incident spread through the cages, as it inevitably did, the prisoners tried to go on strike by vowing not to speak at all in the interrogation rooms.

That didn't get them the apology from General Miller they were seeking so they escalated their protest, orchestrating a series of suicide attempts. It started with a detainee using his bed sheet to hang himself from the wire mesh in his cage while prisoners nearby raised a storm of noise. The guards then came stomping into the cell to cut him down, holler for medics, and transfer him in shackles to the infirmary. No sooner was this done than another prisoner would be found hanging by a sheet and the same cycle, with all the yelling, banging, and stomping, would be repeated. Over several days, twenty-three prisoners tried to hang themselves in protest over the incident and the general hopelessness of their situation.

The struggle over Koran abuse reached such a pitch that the Muslim chaplain actually recommended to his superiors that the books be removed from the cells and placed in the prison library for safekeeping. He'd gotten the idea from detainees with whom he'd been speaking, but the colonel who served as Camp Delta's warden wouldn't consider it. "Every cell gets a Koran," he's quoted as saying. "That's not an option." In effect, the chaplain was being told that we would respect Islam in our own way, giving as much offense to its practitioners as we wanted.




15 Nov. 05:
Liberals loathe the political Right's hypocricy and unfairness. Conservatives loathe the Left's immorality and weakness. Each group's estimation of their own qualities, though, is rather less incisive.




13 Nov. 05: Arianna Huffington is delightful and dogged and so is The Huffington Post. There's always something there that stirs me up. If you want to know how The New York Times lost its way, for instance, or how degraded American political culture has become, this is the place to visit. The overall position of Huffington and her crowd of contributors is less left-wing than it is anti-Bush. The overall mood: exhilaration, oddly enough.



9 Nov. 05:
I was honestly disappointed by some readers' reactions to my item about Truman Capote. One wrote:
"I wonder what other perverted hitch hiking stories you can dredge up from the bowels of your memory. I shudder to think." As if I had been polluted permanently by a touch. Yeesh! At any rate, I'm thinking of writing more about my hitch-hiking days (probably not on basil.CA, though).  For a few years there, if I had to sum up my essence into a single quality I would have said, "I hitch-hike."  Often I would wake up in the middle of the night, hitch down to the thruway, and take any ride I got it didn't matter where the guy (or, much more rarely, the lady) was going.  I was obsessed with the interaction hitching a ride provided:  You knew that the next person you saw would be (a) a stranger and (b) somebody who wanted to talk to you. I completely loved it.



3 Nov. 05: Print.Google.com is up and running. Click here to see this new search engine in action, tracking down books that tracked me down.



23 Oct. 05:
Procrastination is underrated. I accomplish more good stuff avoiding the task at hand than I do at any other time.



21 Oct. 05: Next weekend I'm off to Nanaimo for the first time, to attend the wedding of my very dear friend (and supertalented former student) Julie Birkett, who's getting hitched to another Kwantlen University College charmer, Scott Kingsnorth. I've got the presents; now I just need to figure out how to get my intertial self off the Lower Mainland. I have a BC-style choice: ferry, hovercraft, small plane, or helicopter.





7 Oct. 05:
clear explanation of the atheist position has never made a dent in the faith of believers. Atheism is an understanding gained from a sense of one's own life. Explanations can buttress this understanding, but they cannot create it.



6 Oct. 05: I have happily made it to a point in my life where I can dine out pretty much whenever, if not also always wherever, I want. But free food is still my favourite food, whether it tastes like luck or like grace.





29 Sept. 05:
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is reported to have originally chosen California Rep. David Dreier to replace Tom Delay as Senate Majority Leader. When the party's right wing objected disingenously that Dreier wasn't conservative enough, his name was withdrawn.
Moral of the Dreier episode: No matter how hard you parrot the right-wing line, hon, right-wingers will never want to be seen following a gay guy, stuck in the closet though you may be. How do you feel about your friends now?



27 Sept. 05: University of Chicago law professor Richard Posner has an unusual take on recent surveys showing that women who are educated at the best universities and graduate programs leave their professed careers at several times the rate that men do: 

The principal effect of professional education of women who are not going to have full working careers is to reduce the contribution of professional schools to the output of professional services. Not that the professional education the women who drop out of the workforce receive is worthless; if it were, such women would not enroll. Whether the benefit these women derive consists of satisfying their intellectual curiosity, reducing marital search costs, obtaining an expected income from part-time work, or obtaining a hedge against divorce or other economic misfortune, it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) whose place she took who would have a full working career would obtain from the same education.

The professional schools worry about this phenomenon because the lower the aggregate lifetime incomes of their graduates, the lower the level of alumni donations the schools can expect to receive. (This is one reason medical schools are reluctant to admit applicants who are in their 40s or 50s.) The colleges worry for the same reason. But these particular worries have no significance for the welfare of society as a whole. In contrast, the fact that a significant percentage of places in the best professional schools are being occupied by individuals who are not going to obtain the maximum possible value from such an education is troubling from an overall economic standpoint. Education tends to confer external benefits, that is, benefits that the recipient of the education cannot fully capture in the higher income that the education enables him to obtain after graduation. This is true even of professional education, for while successful lawyers and businessmen command high incomes, those incomes often fall short of the contribution to economic welfare that such professionals make. This is clearest when the lawyer or businessman is an innovator, because producers of intellectual property are rarely able to appropriate the entire social gain from their production. Yet even noninnovative lawyers and businessmen, if successful--perhaps by virtue of the education they received at a top-flight professional school--do not capture their full social product in their income, at least if the income taxes they pay exceed the benefits they receive from government.

Suppose a professional school wanted to correct the labor-market distortion that I have been discussing. (For I am not suggesting that the distortion is so serious as to warrant government intervention.) It would be unlawful discrimination to refuse admission to these schools to all women, for many women will have full working careers and some men will not. It would be rational but impracticable to impose a monetary penalty on the drop-outs (regardless of gender)--making them pay, say, additional tuition retroactively at the very moment that they were giving up a market income. It would also be infeasible to base admission on an individualized determination of whether the applicant was likely to have a full working career.

A better idea, though counterintuitive, might be to raise tuition to all students but couple the raise with a program of rebates for graduates who work full time. For example, they might be rebated 1 percent of their tuition for each year they worked full time. Probably the graduates working full time at good jobs would not take the rebate but instead would convert it into a donation. The real significance of the plan would be the higher tuition, which would discourage applicants who were not planning to have full working careers (including applicants of advanced age and professional graduate students). This would open up places to applicants who will use their professional education more productively; they are the more deserving applicants. [Read entire post, plus reader comments, here.]



23 Sept. 05: Google's cache feature held onto a copy of my full archives, sparing me a ton of retyping. I have to fix the coding of the jpegs, so please bear with me on that. (In honor of Google I have retained its nifty colour additions, though.)




22 Sept. 05:
The one blog I read every day is Reason Magazine's Hit and Run: "
Continuous news, views, and abuse by the Reason staff," an engaging bunch of economic and civil libertarians. Occasionally I jump into the fray.



21 Sept. 05: No idea how I managed this:  To delete five months of posts from the basil.CA archives. Because I have a recent print-out, I'll be able to restore the missing months. I will get to that when I'm done kicking myself around the block.



15 Sept. 05:
ATT Labs & Research's online "Text to Speech demo" is very fun. Here's what it says about me



10 Sept. 05:  I contradict myself when it comes to psychic powers, because, while I don't believe such powers exist, I *do* believe that two female friends of mine absolutely have them. 



8 Sept. 05:  When I'm in New York, I make a point of visiting the International Boutique to buy berets. It's an odd shop in Soho. Its north side is packed with military supplies, its south with "born again religious articles." It seems to fit.



7 Sept. 05:  Fall semester at Kwantlen University College began yesterday. Here's what's on tap for my wonderful students.



29 Aug. 05: 
I had to truncate my New York vacation, having developed a sinus infection that wiped me out just a few days into the trip. While it lasted, though, it was magical.  My son brought his best friend and his girlfriend down to the city, and we all stayed with my old college roommate. We did Little Italy, Central Park, the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History, the Lee Friedlander photographs in the Museum of Modern Art, and the Broadway show "Rent."


My illness hasn't cleared up since I've been back, and my colleagues have started pointing out how bad I look, so today I had an appointment with my doctor. The suite of offices at which my doctor works caters, almost exclusively, to gay men who live in Vancouver's Gay Male Mecca:  the West End.  This often causes confusion with the personnel there when I show up
even with my own doctor.  During my last doctor's visit, Dr. M. suggested that I receive a vaccine for menengitis, and I asked her why I was at risk for menengitis.  "It's going through the West End's gay male community."  I had to remind her that *I wasn't* going through the West End's gay male community myself.  "Oh, I forgot. I don't usually see people like you," she replied. A few  years ago I received a phone call from the office receptionist, asking me to participate in a research study regarding "receptive anal intercourse."  I first thought, Why not?  then thought it best to ask:  "Do I actually have to *practice* receptive anal intercourse to participate on the study?" "It is probably expected, yes." "Why would you think I would?"  "I'm calling all our gay male patients," she replied, indicating (I figured) either that she assumed that *all* the clinic's patients were gay or that she had heard my doctor cry out after I left the office one time, "That Basil is as gay as synchronized diving!"



8 Aug. 05: I'm off on my semi-annual trip to New York for the next couple of weeks. I will have lots to post when I return.



27 July 05: 
Media critic Jay Rosen was my first editor when I joined The Spectrum, SUNY Buffalo's college newspaper, in 1977. He was rough and brilliant
and a very generous mentor to me.  He was also an excellent reporter, but his main focus then as now was exposing the political and cultural agenda within reporting that calls itself "objective," "fair and balanced," or anything else. We all certainly need him on the scene now! These days Rosen is writing for The Huffington Post. I also very much recommend his blog PressThink. His posts are unusually long and detailed, eschewing the "short burst" style you see most everywhere else in that medium (like here, not that I would call basil.CA a blog). Conciseness is not high on his list of virtues.  In his FAQ he writes:  "I didn’t set out to write long essays; it happened as I tried to turn my ideas into posts that said something others weren’t saying, and got some notice. (And I can do short, sometimes.) I set out to be unrestricted: free to figure out for myself what works, what PressThink wants to be.  The people don’t have time reasoning was meaningless to me, and I didn’t trust it. It wanted to restrict my freedom to write what I think, but the whole purpose in starting PressThink was liberation: 'Wow, my own magazine. Now I can write what I think.' It’s the same for most webloggers, I would guess. My interest was users who did have time for depth, in whatever number they may prove to exist, ocean to ocean, post to post. But it’s more like: this is my magazine, PressThink… If you like it, return. In a tiny and abstract way, perhaps, my blog is part of the media marketplace, competing for eyeballs with re-runs of Law and Order. But not really. PressThink, a free citizen in a voluntary nation, doesn’t have to behave like a market actor. Thus my experiment in long form." Jay will be writing about the BlogHer convention in Santa Clara, CA this week. BlogHer is a network of women bloggers.



22 July 05:
I've settled on feedreader as my news aggregator. It's a small download, it's free, and it's perfectly easy to figure out. I've found Robert Teeter's RSS resource page to be an excellent guide to this new world.



15 July 05:  In order for me to make a telephone call from home, I have to go into the kitchen, take the phone out of the cabinet above the fridge, and plug it into a socket in my front hallway. When I'm done with my call – typically the only people I call are cabbies or my company's receptionist I unplug the phone, neatly wrapping the cord around it, and I put it back in the cabinet. God knows when the last time I answered the phone at home was. (I won't go into detail regarding this neurosis, because I don't want you to think I'm insane, but I'm happy to report that the heebie-jeebies don't follow me into my workplaces, where I run to ringing phones.) A couple of months ago this neurosis attached itself to my home laptop, so into the closet it went. I've noticed that since then I've been spending more and more time in my downtown office, trying to discover new topics or programs that I might be able to use profitably in class (not to mention making all my phone calls). I'm an obsessive about research – it's pure, powerful pleasure so by the time I get home it's often dark, even in the summer. My recent quarry:  news feeds. Having the perfect set of bookmarks is no longer enough. Currently I am finding my way through the world of internet news "aggregators" with the help of NewsGator (which is free) and FeedDemon (which is not) (I have a trial copy). It's been thrilling. Taking my students through the topic was a highlight of my week.


11 July 05:  My favourite Trotskyists have revamped their Workers Vanguard website. It now has an immensely useful search engine.  It also has a lot more articles, including a generous selection from the great "Women and Revolution" series.  I always learn a lot from these hyperliterate radicals, though thus far they haven't managed to convert me.



8 July 05:
In urban North America, bisexuals have seen their image fluctuate quite a bit over the past 25 years.  They've been regarded, at one time or another, as an enlightened sexual vanguard, as indiscrimately horny people, as traitors to their supposedly true homosexual selves, and now, according to a recent study by
J. Michael Bailey (a professor of psychology at Northwestern), as self-deceivers. (Imagine keeping a smile on your face while being told that your sexual orientation doesn't exist.) The Advocate notes that Bailey's earlier work, on transgenders, was widely attacked: Author Neil Savage writes: "In 2003 [Bailey] published a book called The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science and Psychology of Gender Bending and Transexualism. In his book, based on interviews with transgender women, Bailey presented the idea that some men become women because they are sexually aroused by the idea. Several transgender women denounced the book as libelous and "junk science." Some of the book's subjects filed five complaints with Northwestern, alleging that Bailey had written about them without their consent and in one case had sex with one of them....  Joan Roughgarden, a professor of biology at Stanford University and a transgender woman, has denounced the book. But others, including Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker and openly gay researcher Simon LeVay, have praised it. Researchers whom the Times talked to said Bailey's bisexuality study would have to be repeated with larger numbers of men before anyone could draw clear conclusions. "



5 July 05: 
When I was a journalist back in the 1980s, I was not comfortable with the mantle of uniqueness the profession of journalism claimed for itself. "Journalistic ethics" was (and is) touted as a step up from the normal kind, but I didn't see what so-called "objectivity" and "balance" had on the golden rule.  In the United States reporters are able to shield their confidential informants
that is, anybody they wish to – by claiming "journalists' privilege," the same way there's doctor-patient privilege and priest-penitent privilege. Mickey Kaus of Slate has this odd but tight analysis of this issue:

There's an obvious but wacky answer to the dilemma of the "journalists' privilege" against testifying in court. What's the dilemma? a) It's helpful for a free society if there's someone people can leak to without fear that the information will come out in court. But b) why give that immunity from testimony to those people who happen to be hired by corporate media (and then claim, condescendingly, to be acting on behalf of the rest of us)? Judith Miller doesn't deserve greater First Amendment rights than a blogger like Tom Maguire just because she got hired by the Sulzbergers. But if you gave everyone who could start a blog--that is to say, everyone--immunity from having to testify then virtually nobody would have to testify.

One solution is to grant immunity not to select journalists but to the act of committing journalism--i.e. if you're reporting on something you are going to publish, and do publish, then you can keep your sources confidential. But I doubt we can craft a "universal" equal privilege that applies to all citizens in certain situations and still is broad enough to do what we want a journalists' privilege to do. As the Plame investigation shows, journalists reasonably want to be able to promise sources immunity when they are gathering information for stories they never publish, or might publish some time down the road. But everyone who can write--that is to say, everyone--might publish something at some future date about anything he or she learns. If you grant all these potential journalists (i.e., everyone) fact-gathering immunity then the general obligation to testify goes out the window again.

The second solution is to do what we normally do in a democracy when we have to ration special powers to a few citizens--elect them. If we need ten or twenty reporters in Washington who get special immunity from testifying in order to facilitate the "public's right to know," then let the public choose them by secret ballot. Suppose we gave these Reporters General 5-year renewable terms. They'd have to produce in order to get reelected, and if they got big stories wrong (as Miller did) their chances would dim. (Imagine the anti-Miller attack ad!) Woodward, on the other hand, would hardly have to campaign. It would be more rational than the Pulitzers! I don't mean this proposal facetiously--only semi-facetiously. If we want a broad journalists' privilege, I don't see another way to get it without arbitrarily granting some citizens more rights than others. [Read more Kaus here. Links in quote are from the article.]





17 June 05: 
Even in the 1970s, I was never much of a marijuana smoker. For one thing, pot made me paranoid, and being paranoid enough I didn't need any boost in that department. [You still don't.
Ed.] On top of that, I didn't like hearing and seeing things that I would never see and hear unless I was stoned, and by things I don't mean insights or hallucinations, I mean actually happening events, right there on a plate in front of me, as it were. (One thing I really didn't like hearing was "Basil, you look stoned!" something I tend not to hear otherwise.) The only time I feel stoned in a pot-haze sorta way now is the day after I suffer a migraine headache.  I'm not sure how this works, or why on these days I see and hear things I never would otherwise. Yesterday, for instance, the guy sitting in front of me on the Davie Street bus pulled some tobacco out of a half already smoked cigarette and replaced it with pieces of debris he found on the bus floor.  Then he lit up.  I was too stupefied to say anything.  The fellow next to me, though, noted quietly that Mr. Smoker could receive a $5 thousand fine.  Eventually the bus driver stopped the bus and, with the kind of Canadian politesse I will never stop loving, simply said, "Hey, pal, throw that butt out the window or I'll throw  yours out this door." A few blocks later the bus hit a homeless man who threw himself in its path, having just guzzled a large bottle of Listerine (I later learned). A woman who said she was the man's sister spent her time waiting for the ambulance french kissing the guy, lying right on top of him, in the middle of the street. He complained of pain only when she stopped.



9 June 05
: Imagine hearing this: "I see you in the most special way. Everything about you pleases me." [Imagine saying it.
Ed.]



6 June 05:
My friend John Reiss (below) has been named Executive Producer of "NBC Evening News with Brian Williams." NBC made the right choice.  I'm proud of you, buddy!






30 May 05: When a student needs to skip an important class for a non-medical reason, I often request an email or a short essay explaining what he or she did instead of our class. Last week I received this email (published with permission): "Mr. Basil, on Wednesday I skipped class in order to volunteer for a function my workplace organized.  I work for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Simon Fraser Branch, as a support worker with individuals experiencing psychiatric illness.  Several months ago we hired a professional comedian to train a group of our clients to become stand up comics.  They put on several small shows in the community of New Westminster to practice their routines, for the big 'Comedy Courage Gala' in May.  One goal was to raise $20,000 towards the mortgage on one of our transition homes in New West.  Another was 'Helping our mental health community help themselves through laughter, comedy, and courage.'   The Gala took place at a banquet hall in the Sandman Hotel on West Georgia, from 6:00-10:00 p.m.  Both my bosses, several members of our Board of Directors, and a handful of co-workers were there to help out, and offer  support and encouragement for our clients.  There were three members from local television & newspaper media.  There was a silent and live auction, and an enormous and tasty buffet dinner.  Thirteen comedians performed, causing loads of laughter.  Many of our clients chose to 'educate' the audience in areas of psychiatry, medication, and personal struggle, through their jokes.  I was able to visit with our new comedians before and after their performances, and most were really beaming with pride; it was unbelievably heartwarming. ... This was the second annual Comedy Courage, and I hope to be a part of it in coming years.  I think we raised about $17,000, but final numbers were being tallied today.  One of the youngest comedians involved in this event was my client.  I really felt I needed to show her my support.  She is a huge success, and has not had a relapse in about a year.  She had always been shy and didn't speak up much.  However, these days, she is smiley, chatty, works part time, volunteers as a Big Sister, and has really blossomed this spring!  I am happy to say, I love my job, and the people I am surrounded by."
 
  In its mission statement, Comedy Courage says that it “provides comedic training and public venues for people to share their experiences about the lighter side of living with mental illness. Portraying these challenges from a humorous perspective lessens the effect of the illness and helps empower the individual. It also achieves the goals of increasing public awareness about the challenges of mental illness and what can be accomplished by those of us who live with mental health issues."  What a great, great concept -- not to mention wonderful execution of said concept.  Comedy exposes and relieves awkwardness at the same time, and it is more public than, say, writing or painting, etc. It's about being within the community. Meet the “Second Generation of Courageous Comics” here.
 



3 May 05: Summer semester has started at Kwantlen University College. I love this gig. Look at what my students will be learning.


24 April 05:  The first words out of my mouth upon hearing that Cardinal Ratzinger had been chosen Pope by the other men hidden in the Sistine Chapel were words that made colleagues step back, so after that I've been keeping the volume low, as it were, only making a very brief appearance in a Reason.com forum.  After that, mostly a lot of listening and wondering.  One of the networks interviewed members of the Wellesley, Massachusetts St. Paul's Parish. They were disappointed that Cardinal Law, who ran the Boston-area diocese from 1984 to 2002, moving pedophilic priests from one unsuspecting parish to the next while he was in charge, was giving one of the big masses the week following John Paul II's death. I was disappointed, too. I had the sacrament of First Communion in St. Paul's.  From Kindergarten to third grade I attended St. Paul's School.  It was a terrible place in the mid-1960s.  I was never accosted by any priests, an odd fact to be grateful for. That said, I'll never forget the practiced sadists who taught in those rooms, or what they taught, or who gave them permission. [You can read my second grade report card and "personality record" here. -- 30 April 2005]


22 March 05:  Posting will be light over the next two weeks.  My Kwantlen students are heading into their final projects and exams, and my Basil Communications Inc. clients are all in high gear.


27 Feb. 05:  I will always consider Buffalo, New York, my home town. It's where I went to college, met many of my best friends, and learned how to become an editor.  Although it was a city in economic decline when I lived there, it was very rich in culture:  music, museums, literary events, park festivals, restaurants galore; it even had more than a dozen public golf courses that charged less than ten bucks a round. Today, writes former schoolmate Mike Niman – we were friendly journalistic adversaries at the time – Buffalo and surrounding Erie County have collapsed. How Mike was able to contain his outrage enough to write so clearly is beyond me; after reading his piece my vision blurred and my mouth tasted like steel.


26 Feb. 05: I need to start an "Adventures in Bad Romance" file. This discussion regarding the confluence of paternity law and property law is hilarious.


11 Feb. 05: Conversation heard on the bus last week (between two young women): First woman:  "My boyfriend called me last night.  He said he wanted to tell me he was terribly in love with me." Second woman:  "What did you say?" First: "I asked him what bar he was in." Second: "My boyfriend took me out for our three-month anniversary dinner last weekend.  A beautiful restaurant.  Romantic. Wine. Dancing.  After a slow dance he held me there, on the dance floor, and told me that I was the love of his life." First:  "What did you say?" Second:  "I said I liked his shirt." 


2 Feb. 05:  A friend writes: "The following line about [former American TV broadcaster] Roger Mudd appears in today's Washington Times: 'Although Mr. Mudd keeps his politics private, his deep devotion to family and faith has led some to suspect that he leans to the right.' This offensive line will go unnoticed. But just imagine if The New York Times had written the line, 'Although Mr. X keeps his politics private, his deep devotion to family and faith has led some to suspect that he leans to the left.' We would be subjected to a Rush Limbaugh screed, a Hannity and Colmes 'debate,' Bill O'Reilly outrage and an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Times about the vastness and dishonesty of the liberal media. The real message here is that it is taken as a given by members of the oppressed conservative majority they, and only they, believe in God and love their children. And liberals, it should be obvious by now, deny God and hate their children."


20 Jan. 05:  George W. Bush used the word "freedom" 27 times in his inauguration speech.  It made me want to put the iron underwear on. Axis of Logic ably dissects the speech. [A friend objects to the phrase "ably dissects."  The Axis of Logic piece was, rather, "pure snarky tendentiousnes." – 25 Jan. 05]


5 Jan. 05:  I had a chance to meet NBC's supertalented political director, Elizabeth Wilner, over Christmas break. Her daily political brief, First Read, is now online.


4 Jan. 05:  Although it takes place almost entirely in the winter, what Kwantlen University College calls Spring Semester starts today. See what my students will be learning.

 


Arts & Letters

4 Nov. 05: “In front of me a couple of young people are arguing in low voices about the nature of their affair: Are they ‘dating’ or are they in a relationship.  If they are just dating, how serious is it? And isn’t the fact that the boy didn’t invite the girl to Thanksgiving dinner at his parents’ house an obvious obstacle to its being a full-fledged relationship? It’s simply a mystery to me, since this most American notion of ‘dating’ has no equivalent in French … This very un-French way of turning the date itself, and later the relationship as such, into a separate entity, living its own life alongside the two lovers … The oddity, too, of the mania these lovers have for verbalizing, evaluating, codifying, and, when it comes down to it, ritualizing anything that might happen within the framework of their relationship … For the sake of a series of gestures, that sense of the unexpected, the romantic, is lost, which in Europe even the most trifling love affairs preserve…” – From “Tocqueville’s Footsteps: A Journey Ends,” by Bernard-Henri Levy, in the Nov. 2005 Atlantic Monthly. (The pregnant ellipses are Levy's.)




9 Nov. 05: "All attack and no sustain./ That's the mood in the land." [Basil is discombobulated that he didn't get around to writing this perfect couplet before Jonathan Mayhew did.. -- Ed. -- 13 Nov. 05]



2 Nov. 05: The publicity surrounding that movie about Truman Capote made me remember an incident I hadn't thought about in some time: the afternoon that man kicked me out of his van into a California desert because I wouldn't have sex with him. It was summer 1979 and I was hitch-hiking around the United States for no reason except that in those days I loved and seemed to need hitch-hiking more than anything else. That day I was on my way to Oakland from Malibu. I was tired. Somewhere near Coalinga I was third in line in a group of people looking for a ride on the on-ramp, behind a family of three and a scruffy couple my age. A van pulled over. The driver inside waved the other people away and welcomed me in. The man was short and fat, and he was wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt and (I thought) a Speedo that was hidden beneath his enormous belly. The van was filled with wigs, costumes, and make-up. "I work in the movies," he said, with a wet lisp. Off we went north on Highway 101. I asked his permission to take a catnap where I was sitting. (I always used to ask for permission to sleep, because often drivers picked you up in order to have a conversation: to stay awake, to get something off their chest, or to lie a little.) That would be fine, he said, and I passed out almost instantly, though I didn't stay that way very long, because Truman Capote started fondling me, or trying to, and I woke up, and I saw that his belly wasn't covering a Speedo bathing suit or anything else. (His excitement wasn't pretty.) A few minutes later the famous writer pulled the van over to the side of  this nearly empty highway and ordered me out. "I don't have any water in my canteen," I said. "I'd be grateful if you dropped me off at the next exit ramp or at a gas station instead of here, where there's nothing." Truman Capote said no way with a sound only that man could make. I told him that to be so rude to me he must have been "born in a barn."

That was a funny old phrase I'd never used before but which came to my mind instantly, for some reason. I got to Oakland that night, found a friend, and had a beer in his back yard.



2 Nov. 05: Joan Kennedy Taylor was one of "my authors" back in the day when I acquired and edited new work for Prometheus Books, Inc. Late in my tenure there, we published Joan's wonderful book Reclaiming the Mainstream: Individualist Feminism Reconsidered. Joan passed away in New York City last week. Joan and I talked in person just twice, once in Buffalo as we were readying her book for publication, and then a couple years later at Stanford University, where I was teaching. I liked her: She was serious, she was clear, she would no more waste your time than she would let you waste hers, and she had the smile of someone who had smoked a lot of cigarettes. In this appreciation, Jeff Riggenbach (another Prometheus author, one rather less serious about deadlines than Taylor was) presents Taylor as the leading woman libertarian intellectual in the United States after Ayn Rand. Riggenbach's article depicts a terrifically engaged life. My favourite anectdote: "During the five years Joan spent between husbands, 1953–1958, she was not without male companionship. Her parents’ many contacts in the literary world and her own close relations with Columbia University (the campus across the street from her own alma mater, the campus where she had met her first husband, the father of her child) brought her into contact with several of the most famous of the Beat Generation writers just before and just after they had made their first big splash as literary figures. She dated novelist Jack Kerouac a few times during the summer of 1957 and is said to have stayed up all night with him on the eve of the publication of On the Road, waiting for the first reviews. She told me on one occasion about a double date she had gone on with Kerouac and his friend Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg, she said, was trying to become heterosexual on the advice of his psychiatrist. He later made advances to her, she said, asking her to initiate him into heterosexual sex. She declined." (Reason Magazine's Charles Murray also writes a lovely memoir.)



23 Oct. 05:
Watching  Liz Phair perform "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch of last night's World Series game made me feel strangely satisfied, having never really gotten over missing Joan Jett sing the National Anthem at a Baltimore Orioles game a decade ago. (Sometimes I believe I would have been happy to die at 20 had I written Jett's song "Cherry Bomb" at 19.)




21 Oct. 05: Reading descriptions of music is as maddening as reading wine reviews, usually. They go from too technical to vaporous and back again, as if these were quantum states with no existence of anything reasonably articulate in between. The prose of pianist Charles Rosen is a big exception. His recent New York Review of Books essay on performing classical music in the age of recording, for instance, is lucid, descriptive, and always meaningful. Scholarship should not be linguistically occult. Hear how clearly Rosen describes the use of "dislocation" in music, "the pianistic device of playing the left hand on the beat and the right hand just afterward":

Mozart and his contemporaries called this rubato, and it was a Central European expressive form of decoration (when he was traveling in Italy, Mozart wrote to his father that the Italians were astonished when they heard him play rubato). The word "rubato" later acquired the meaning of any rhythmic irregularity, so [author Robert] Philip's change of terms is a justifiable attempt at clarity. "Dislocation," however, sounds slightly pejorative, while the word "rubato" has a more favorable effect. In the early twentieth century the practice was widespread, largely among pianists trained in Vienna, but was used in a more discriminating manner by the Russian school. ... Dislocation has at least three purposes. It is originally derived, I believe, from an opera singer's slight hesitation in producing an important and expressive note, as if he or she were momentarily overcome by emotion. It should be more generally recognized that a note can be given expressive quality and importance by making it appear not too easy to produce, for that is the unconscious logic behind the most traditional use of delaying its appearance. (One can see the powerful emotional effect of this kind of rubato when the prin-cipal theme is repeated in bars 86 to 87 of Mozart's great Rondo in A minor.)

The origin of another purpose of dislocation can be traced to the sonority of the piano. Playing the bass note in the left hand before the melody note in the right allows the melody note to enter into an already prepared harmonic frame and also allows the bass string's overtones or harmonics to be reactivated sympathetically when the right hand enters a split second later. This gives the melody note greater sonority and cantabile (or singing) quality. This was important for performances given in large public halls, an essential part of musical life that came into being only when Liszt invented the piano recital in the 1830s. The unremitting use of vibrato by string players, a modern innovation that Philip regrets with good reason, has a similar cause: the vibrato carries better and with greater intensity in large concert spaces.


The third purpose of dislocation, which comes into play when it is used systematically over a long passage, is to vary the texture by making it more lively: that is the way Mozart uses it in the return of part of the main theme in bar 19 of the slow movement ofhis Sonata in C minor. For the late-nineteenth-century pianist, the extensive use of dislocation throughout long passages or even whole pieces transformed the texture into something more fluid, less hard-edged, blunted the sharp edges of the rhythm, and made the atmosphere beautifully vague.

Since recordings did not exist before the late nineteenth century, we have no idea when the practice began of using dislocation almost systematically all the time. Some pianists early in the twentieth century featured it constantly. My childhood memory of Paderewski's performance on the radio is that his employment of it was unrelenting. I also once heard, long ago, a beautifully poetic recording by Harold Bauer of Schumann's Des Abends ("In the Evening") in which, as I remember, his two hands never coincided even once; it took getting used to, but it gave an aptly soft and misty quality to the music. When the use of it was unremitting, however, in music from Bach to Debussy, it could become self-defeating, imposing a similar expressive style on every passage in every work. Worse, it was an easy and cheap way of sounding expressive, a cuisine of emotion as if one could smear sentiment thoughtlessly over everything like goose fat without regard for the intrinsic differences of individual phrases. That, I think, partly accounts for the reaction against it.




29 Sept. 05: Normally I wish the practice of using puns in headlines was a lot less popular. That said, Slate came up with one that truly delighted me today: "Reign Delayed."



28 Sept. 05:
Google is planning to scan and index the library collections at Stanford University, Harvard, the University of Michigan, Oxford University, and the New York Public Library. In the future, writes Tim O'Reilly, when searching online for some item, "
Google will show snippets (typically, fewer than three sentences of text from each page of each book) that include the search term, plus information about the book and where to find it. Google asserts that displaying this limited amount of content is protected by the 'fair use' doctrine under United States copyright law; the Authors Guild claims that it is infringement, because the underlying search technology requires a digitized copy of the entire work." O'Reilly says the guild is being short-sighted, and I agree. The Google initiative will bring forgotten and out-of-print books back to life.



20 September 05: The Vancouver International Film Festival starts on Saturday. This year's twin themes:  the "New American Indies," which according to the festival program express a "spirit of disenfranchisement" among our southern-neighbor filmmakers;  and the "New World" film of Central and Eastern Europe. This is my favourite time of  year, and this is my favourite local cultural event.  I've saved up for it.  (By that I mean I've arranged not to have too much grading to do until the festival's over.)



7 Sept. 05: 
I'm delighted to report that I have recently appeared in one of Jonathan Mayhew's famous lists:

PEOPLE AND THINGS I LIKE

I list lists, hats, fountain pens, proper names, Kung Fu movies. I like Bob Basil, Tony Robinson, Laurel Snyder, C. Dale Young, David Shapiro, Clark Coolidge, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Jordan Davis, Gary Sullivan. All the other bloggers too numerous to list. Clark Coolidge, Joseph Ceravolo, Billy Higgins, Papa Jo Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Philly Joe Silliman, Jess Mynes. Barbara Guest, Laura Carter, and Frank O'Hara. Rothko. Joseph Cornell. Henry Gould. French poetry (except when I don't like it). Blanca Varela. Juarroz. Vallejo. Lorca. Roethke. Clark Coolidge! Lorine Niedecker. Creeley. Kenneth Koch. David Shapiro (you knew that). Joseph Ceravolo. The New Sincerity. The Old Sincerity. Lola Velasco. Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. T'ang dynasty poetry. Basho. Wittgenstein. Joseph Duemer's paintings. Harry Mathews. Keats. Shelley. Blake. Small literary magazines. Used bookstores. Sushi. Hot peppers. Zildjian cymabls. Clark Coolidge. Snowflakes the stick to your nose and eyelashes. Alice Notley's Mysteries. Anselm Berrigan. Jim Behrle. Maurice Blanchot. Georges Perec. Venezuelan poetry. Alan Davies. Creeley. Morton Feldman. Raphael Rubinstein. Kasey Mohammad. Johnny Mercer. Jim McCrary. Expresso. Tony Towle. Lewis Warsh. Girl singers. Clark Coolidge. Dinah Washington. Tito Puente. Billy Higgins.

PEOPLE AND THINGS I DON'T LIKE SO MUCH

Dalí. Microsoft. Alberti. Kenny G. Losing the previous, longer version of this post when I clicked on a link in someone's email. Students in literature class who "don't like literature." Translations of poetry that don't include the original text. Poetry Magazine. The New York Times Book Review. C.D. Williams. Robert Bly. Robert Pinsky. W.S. Merwin. Billy Collins. People who like Billy Collins. Robert Lowell. Wordsworth. CK Williams. Light operas. Luis García Montero. Bonnefoy. Panels in the MLA about William Carlos Williams and ______. Theodor Adorno comparing Louis Armstrong to a eunich. Words I can never spell right. Bad Freudian criticism. Chilled soups. Poetry influenced by Juan Ramón Jiménez. Oscar Peterson. Poetry influenced by Antonio Machado. People who ask me about the duende. Biographies of more than 300 pages. Rexroth (sorry!). Jim Brodey. Bad Bossa Nova. Girl singers. Aaron Copland. People who confuse Mingus with Monk. Protestantism. Religiosity. The Boston Pops. Walmart.

Jonathan's blog, "Bemsha Swing," is devoted to poetry and is written so charmingly that I always leave it wishing to write something in the style of what I've just read. (You can get a quick sense of Jonathan's taste by reading his Amazon.com reviews. You might also enjoy his online magazine of contemporary poetry, The Duplications.)


4 Aug. 05: I've been dancing on air the last few days so much so that I went out and purchased the Raspberries' first album. A guilty pleasure, I know. But not as guilty, believe me, as the pleasure of listening to Anna Nalick's single "Breathe (2am)." When I saw the video, I felt guiltier still. (Real Player version here.) She must be the secret daughter of Melanie Zafka. [Song's best couplet: "... cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable/and life's like an hourglass, glued to the table." – 6 Aug. 2005]


catpower

1 Aug. 05:  Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power, above) has an arrestingly wonderful voice. (Every time I listen to her cover of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason," I feel as though I can feel compassion for the whole wide world.)  A couple of days ago I picked up "Speaking for Trees: A Film by Mark Borthwick," a 2-disk set. The CD features one 18 minute long song written and sung by Marshall, "Willie Deadwilder." It's completely enchanting; I want to live inside of it. The DVD contains a grainy 1:40 hour video of her standing in a clearing. playing guitar and singing original compositions as well as covers.  The camera, which doesn't move, is placed about ten metres away from her, an interesting artistic choice, because Marshall's face – she's beautiful – is blurry the entire time.  Her features are further obscured by her baggy clothes and her notorious bangs.  The music, on the other hand, is recorded with true high fidelity, as are the crickets and the other ambient sounds. OK, I understand:  It's a clever idea aesthetically: the famously shy and fragile singer is granted some privacy, and viewers aren't permitted to conflate Marshall's physical with her sonic beauty. It's also a perverse idea and, worse, arty.


22 July 05: Ted Rall is such a bitter and scornful guy, I can see why the NYTimes dropped his comic awhile back. He is very funny, though. Characteristic line from his blog the other day, regarding the nomination of John Roberts to the United States Supreme Court:  "My only advice is: if you're a woman, now might be the time to get that abortion you've been putting off."


15 July 05:  Apropos Iggy Pop, listen to Terry Gross's intelligent and very amusing interview with him (originally aired yesterday).



8 July 05:  Old buddy Dan Rose will be premiering "Wayne County Ramblin'," in New Orleans at One Eyed Jacks next Friday.  Featuring Iggy Pop and other musicians, this film was 15 years in the making. Way to go, Dan.







24 June 05:  In the work of comic-book artist Dan Clowes, people are never able to connect.  The most two people can hope for is to agree.




Rembrandt

10 June 05:  In this month's Harper's Magazine, artist David Hockney describes the sketch shown above as “The Single Greatest Drawing Ever Made. … I defy you to show me a better one. … Look at the speed, the way he wields that reed pen, drawing very fast, with gestures that are masterly, virtuosos, calling attention not to themselves but rather to the very tender subject at hand, a family teaching its youngest member to walk.  Look, for instance, at those whisking marks on the head and shoulders of the girl in the center, the older sister, probably made with the other side of the pen, which let you know that she is craning, turning anxiously to look at the baby’s face to make sure he’s okay.  Or how the mother, on the other side, holds him up in a slightly different, more experienced manner.  The astonishing double profile of her face, to either side of the mark.  The evident roughness of the material of her dress:  how this is decidedly not satin.  The face of the baby:  how even though you can’t see it, you can tell he is beaming.  This mountain of figures, and then, to balance it all, the passing milkmaid, how you can feel the weight of the bucket she carries in the extension of her opposite arm.  All of it conveyed, magically.  But look at the speed, the sheer mastery. The Chinese would have recognized a real master.[From “Vanishing Point:  David Hockney’s Long and Winding Road,” by Lawrence Weschler, in the June 2005 Harper's Magazine.]



10 June 05: 
When singing opera, Renée Fleming's a soprano. On her new CD, "Haunted Heart," she's more of an alto, and she's singing popular song standards in a jazz style.  When I bought this CD yesterday, I was hoping for more than I was expecting; classical singers trying Joni Mitchell material usually sound horrid. I got, however, even more than I had hoped for: an overwhelming experience that I cannot even describe.  Her versions of "You've Changed" and "River"... I had to turn off the lights.





9 June 05: A gal-pal of mine will, in an attempt to rein in one vice or another, challenge a friend to a kind of endurance test:  No booze/TV/sex for a month, and if you crack before a month, you pay the other person $100 (or perform some strenous service, or wear a sign in public, etc.). Last week I was enlisted to join her in swearing off broadcast or cable television for 30 days. I normally don't watch a lot of television, but, since recently I had developed a degrading attachment to JAG, I took her challenge as an opportunity to detox, and to indulge in my favourite medium, radio: Jim Rome in the morning, National Public Radio in the afternoon, Coop Radio 102.7 (Vancouver) in the evening, and, if I can't sleep, CBC-2's Patti Schmidt (see below) into the morn. I love everything about radio (with the exception of pop music stations).  I love to hear people talk.  I love to hear radio signals come in and go away when I'm on a train.  I love cooking to the sound of paranoid people debating on the radio.  And I love having faith that I will be a radio-show host one day.



5 June 05: 
I want Ariel Levy to write my obituary. Her profile of the late, mocked, and maligned Andrea Dworkin
"The Prisoner of Sex," published this week in  New York magazine barely even addresses what everybody believes they know about the author and activist; she doesn't parrot the parody.



23 May 05: Patti Schmidt is the host of CBC Radio 2's "Brave New Waves," which broadcasts "underground music" midnight to 4am Monday through Friday.  On the CBC website Schmidt writes, "Brave New Waves reflects cycles of obsession, and whatever cycle of 'new' happens to be going around. It spans electronica, pop, indie rock, metal, noise, improv, 'out jazz,' new music, and things yet to be named. I want to avoid the easy choices, to steer around the pseudo-mainstream, to dig deeper. There are more than enough programs now to put the 'alternative culture' in context. It has always been part of the BNW ethos to find it first or illuminate the darker corners." The music on BNW is usually so arcane that I catch maybe, oh, one out of every 40 references the host Schmidt makes. I listen to be amazed and to learn. I also listen because Schmidt has one of the most beautiful speaking voices I've ever heard.




16 May 05: "Inasmuch as we have words to describe medicine as a healing art, but have none to describe it as a method of social control or political rule, we must first give it a name. I propose that we call it pharmacracy, from the Greek roots pharmakon, for ‘medicine' or ‘drug,' and kratein, for ‘to rule' or ‘to control.' ... As theocracy is rule by God or priests, and democracy is rule by the people or the majority, so pharmacracy is rule by medicine or physicians," writes the great libertarian psychiatrist (and prose stylist) Thomas Szasz, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday. (I was honored to be invited to his 73rd by his daughter Suzy, whose controversial book Living with It: Why You Don't Have to Be Healthy to Be Happy I'd just helped publish. I gave her father a bottle of Johnny Walker Black.)  An excellent blog has been started to discuss issues related to his work.  Happy birthday, professor.  You're an inspiration, and you're right.  (Recommended book to start with if you haven't read Szasz's work: The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary.)



24 April 05: 
Bookslut.com has a delightful interview with Camille Paglia about her new book, Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems


13 April 05:  The main story in Sophie Crumb's autobiographical "Belly Button Comix #2" is a somehow completely charming memoir of methamphetamine abuse and addiction.


4 April 05:  Corresponding with friends about Robert Creeley, who passed away the other day, has been a solace. Creeley was a good guy, and he was certainly good to me. When I was his student, he saw beyond my ruthless go-getter attitude, he tried (without great success) to teach me to go for singles and not home runs when writing about poetry, and he talked to me like a guy he'd invited to his house.  Creeley was somewhat reticent and curt in a New England way back then, and he wasn't very comfortable in class – a point I made very clear in a memoir I wrote called “Creeley Teaches in Buffalo” that was published in the essay collection "Robert Creeley: The Poet's Workshop.” It wasn't that Bob didn't try at times to get some dialogue going – just that, when he did try, it was so surprising that his students, at least the ones in my class, literally couldn't speak. A couple of years after I published the piece, I moved back to Buffalo from Stanford and visited Bob, and he said of it, "That was probably the best I could have hoped for."  I took this as a compliment – him saying that he was grateful someone had recorded faithfully what being a student in his class was like.  About a week later, though, playing with that sentence in my mind, I saw another, clever, very Creeley-like, and quite probable meaning:  "It was the best I could have hoped for FROM YOU, Basil." *laughs*  Both assessments were probably right.

The Times of London has a good precis of Bob’s career.  It notes that “as a character [Creeley] transformed himself from an originally quite angry personality into an increasingly genial one, and his public readings of his work had a large following. Indeed, the celebration of his 70th birthday at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in October 1996, devoted to readings and lectures by him and others, lasted for three days.”

My favourite Creeley poem is called "The Whip":

"The Whip"

I spent a night turning in bed,/my love was a feather, a flat

sleeping thing. She was/very white

and quiet, and above us on/
the roof, there was another woman I

also loved, had/addressed myself to in

a fit she/returned. That

encompasses it. But now I was/lonely, I yelled.

but what is that? Ugh,/she said, beside me, she put

her hand on/my back, for which act

I think to say this/wrongly.


 

1 April 05:  As a professor, mentor, and friend, poet Bob Creeley was exceedingly generous to me, so much so that his attentions often seemed like grace. News of his death shocked me, though he was 78. I will post some memories this weekend.  Condolences and love to his wife Penelope and all of their children.


9 March 05:  I  feel a bit heartsick that I'm going to be missing the Cy Twombly retrospective at The Whitney Museum in New York City.  Seeing one of his huge chalkboard scribbles at the Museum of Modern Art was one of the highlights of my trip back east in December.  Peter Schjeldahl has a clear review of Twombly's career in this New Yorker essay.


11 Feb. 05:  When people utter this phrase – "but I'm not complaining" – they are  *always* complaining; i.e., they are expressing "pain, grief, or discontent." What these sad and/or irritated individuals mean to say it this:  "But I'm not whining."  That is, they are not complaining in a petulant or feeble or long-lasting or high-pitched manner.  (Nonetheless, they *are* usually whining, aren't they, despite their protests of innocence.)


21 Jan. 05: I'm a workaholic – why, I'm not quite sure.  [Sublimation would be a good guess. – Ed.] I came across the following two passages this week, while taking the Skytrain from full-time job number one to full-time job number two:

"Like other American workers, I've worked fifty-two weeks per year, year in, year out, for the last decade. ... I've worked ten- and twelve-hour days, nonstop.  I work at work, I work at home, I work on weekends, I work at night, I work during my commute.  When I have to travel for work, I work on planes, I work in hotel rooms, and I work in cafes, bars, and restaurants.  (I'm typing these words in a coffee shop in Chicago filled with other people working on their laptops.) Work, work, work, all I do is work."  (That's from Skipping Towards Gomorrah, by Dan Savage.)

"Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike.  They never stop working.  They never lose a minute.  It is very depressing." – V. S. Pritchett, quoted by Benjamin Schwartz in a review of a recent Pritchett biography.


9 Jan. 05:  I’ve been hearing dialogue everywhere, dialogue that seems to be coming from the same play.

At the end of party I went to recently, a woman told me that I talk too much.  I didn’t know how to respond, and left the party shortly afterwards, a bit confounded and mute, and afflicted with what the French call l'esprit d'escalier – "the wit of the staircase" – i.e., my mind began filling with all sorts of things I should or could have said. So:  a mind rewind.  Here we go:  “Bob, you talk too much.”  (There might have been an exclamation point there.) “True, true, true, true.”  “Not ‘too much,’ just ‘much.’”  “If you subtract the number of times I repeat myself, then you know that at least I don’t say too much.” “I can tell you why: You’re not going anywhere, are you?” “I just keep going until I find a word that makes you friendly.” “Does that mean you don’t think I’m interesting?” “What would you suggest I not have said?” Or, finally: “Throw me away and call it a day.” [A friend wrote me, charmingly:  "You don't talk too much.  People talk too little." -- 16 Jan. 05]

This last line I would have borrowed from a woman named Ann, who shouted it repeatedly during the last months of her life, oh about 20 years ago. Ann was a senile cancer patient my then-wife was taking care of.  Throw me away and call it a day became the mantra of our marriage, first as a joke … 

On the Langley-to-Surrey bus yesterday, a man was haranguing his girlfriend.  What have you ever given me? he demanded.  What have you given me today – today?!  The woman asked him whether he wanted her to leave – as a way, a pointed but also pleading way, I thought, of saying this:  I am here with you:  I am here, with you, with you today that’s what I am giving you.  He stopped talking.

A few days ago I told a girlfriend that I carry a purse.  Not a woman’s purse, but something the same size as a woman’s purse and something I use, in fact, as a purse.  (My girlfriend said:  “It’s a man's purse, Bob.”] I asked a Fashion Design student taking one of my classes to explain to me why women spend so much thinking time and so much money on their purses. She told me this: “A purse is a symbol of the female owner’s body.  There is the beautiful outside, and it is filled with what we need inside.” I practically collapsed, knowing that I should have figured this out by the time I was ten.  Shame passed into gratitude, though, when I meditated on what she said.


 

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