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Jan Herman
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Entries by Jan Herman

'The Green Man Is a Green Terrorist'

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 11:49 AM

My blog staff of thousands didn't have to do much to persuade me that Heathcote Williams's newest dissident poem, a rhymed marvel of CAT-scan clarity, will be seen one day as a YouTube classic. Here are the opening lines transcribed from the video in four-line stanzas:

Tangled vegetation...
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Channeling John Cage

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 12:14 PM

Is there anybody not paying tribute to John Cage this year, the centennial of his birth? My own favorite tribute is a performance that began more than a decade ago "in a crumbling medieval church" in Halberstadt, an eastern German city that has been described by The Wall Street Journal...

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Big Title, Big Music, Young Composer

(2) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 12:20 PM


Dylan Mattingly
by name. He's got a thing for Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot who disappeared 75 years ago near Howland Island in the Pacific.

Inspired by the story of her last flight, Mattingly wrote a 40-minute work for chamber orchestra, "Atlas of Somewhere On the Way to Howland Island," as an homage to her and (forgive him the flight of words; he's just a kid) "for all those voyagers between horizons; for those -- past and present -- who have flown into storms, for those floating dreamscapes out beyond the curvature of the sunrise, for those that reach escape velocity, for when even your endless arms can't rearrange the constellations."

A kid who's amazingly productive. Mattingly was a 19-year-old undergrad at Bard College when he began writing "Atlas"; 20 when he finished it. Now he's all of 21; he graduates next year. "Atlas" was first performed in 2011 at Bard and at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn by Contemporaneous, the chamber orchestra he co-founded with co-artistic director and conductor David Bloom, another Bard undergrad. The second movement "Islanded in a Stream of Stars," about 22 minutes in length, aired on WNYC on June 7, 2012. It's from the orchestra's debut album Stream of Stars, which also presents two other works of Mattlingly's, "Six Night Sunrise" and "

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Going Viral?

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 1:19 PM

Here's a change of pace. It's a parody music video. Guy who made it calls it 'Casual Pimpin.' I call it catchy. Guy's name is Tim Ellis. He's something of a one-man band. Wrote it. Performs it. Shot it with his "fly girl." He also happens to be a friend...

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Death in Paris Is Now in Print

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2012 | 3:48 PM

This is not a sales pitch. I'm only kvelling. The printed edition is stunningly handsome, a magnificent artifact in memory of its author, the late Carl Weissner, who was a dear friend and co-conspirator from the '60s. If you would like to read Death in Paris on paper,...

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'FUG YOU': A Decade of Poetry, Politics, and Rock 'n' Roll

(0) Comments | Posted January 3, 2012 | 12:30 PM

Speaking of Lower East Side...

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Legends Of The Lower East Side: Clayton Patterson And Confederates

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2011 | 11:34 AM

I can't let the year end without taking note of a new coloring book -- yes, a coloring book -- titled Legends of the Lower East Side. It's...

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Into The Toilet: New York Times Has Fun On The Front Page

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2011 | 9:00 AM

Was an online editor for the New York Times being cute? Have a look at the photo of a woman sticking her head in the toilet. It sat like an illustration from The Onion next to the headline "Putin Says Clinton Incited Protests Over Russian Vote." Here it is on...

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When Billboards Are Ripped

(2) Comments | Posted November 21, 2011 | 5:20 PM

Richard Sargent likes to take pictures of them. "Photographing torn posters is a cliché in which I continue to indulge," he writes. In fact, his photos of "decaying urban billboards" -- all of them shot in northern California's East Bay cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, and Richmond -- transform...

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Jobs Loved Computers, of Course... and Bach

(1) Comments | Posted October 10, 2011 | 4:59 PM

In 1989, Michael Lawrence filmed an interview with Steve Jobs for Memory & Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress.

"I remember very fondly every minute of the time I spent with him," Lawrence messages in an email. "I still have the NeXT coffee mug he gave...

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The Mind Sashays

(0) Comments | Posted October 7, 2011 | 10:59 AM

The "vulgo-cynicism" of Carl Weissner's Die Abenteuer von Trashman The Adventures of Trashman -- his term for the humor of his latest book -- was already on display in last year's Manhattan Muffdiver.

Both books, from Vienna-based Milena Verlag, are written in German. Although I read German...

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He Was More Than a Book Clerk

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2011 | 1:00 PM

Fifty-four years ago two undercover cops in San Francisco arrested a clerk at City Lights Bookstore for selling them an "obscene" book of poetry. The clerk was Shigeyoshi Murao. The book was Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Several months later, on October 3rd, a municipal court judge ruled that the book was...

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A Maniac and His Muse

(0) Comments | Posted September 28, 2011 | 5:48 PM

Susan Fleet -- trumpet player and feminist music historian -- set her first crime thriller, Absolution, in pre-Katrina New Orleans, where homicide detective Frank Renzi takes on a serial killer who preys on women. Fleet's new killer thriller, Diva, is subtitled "a novel of psychological suspense." That's...

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Empty Ceremonies:
Grandees Gather for 9/11

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2011 | 4:31 PM

Jimmy Breslin was right. It's a lousy idea to turn the victims of 9/11 into martyrs and just as lousy to turn Ground Zero into a glorified cemetery. It was wrong in 2003, when he railed against both ideas in his newspaper column; and it is now, when the 10th...

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Philip Levine's Factory Stiffs, Society's Throw-Aways

(5) Comments | Posted August 11, 2011 | 6:28 PM

Sometimes you get lucky. This was a long time ago. When the 1991 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were about to be announced, an editor assigned me to write an appreciation of the book that won the poetry prize: "What Work Is," by Philip Levine. It would also win a...

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What's the Catch?

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2011 | 10:07 AM

Just read the excerpt in Vanity Fair of the new Joseph Heller biography, which includes this graf:

Candida (pronounced Can-dih-duh) Donadio, who would become Heller's new agent, was about 24 years old, Brooklyn-born, from a family of Italian immigrants. ... In time, her client roster came to include...
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A "John" Named Nelson Algren

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2011 | 9:50 AM

Annie Sprinkle led off her review of Chester Brown's Paying For It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John by pointing out that in her "nearly 40 years in the world of sex workers," she knew of only one person ever "to come out voluntarily -- with...

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Definitive 'Flowers of Evil' Web Site

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2011 | 3:19 PM

Supervert has just redesigned his Fleursdumal.org Web site, which was first launched in 2004 and is "the definitive online edition" of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal...

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Writers on Fighters

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2011 | 4:38 PM

If it's true that professional boxing now has 68 world title holders in 17 weight classes, as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, then it's not surprising that AT THE FIGHTS: American Writers on Boxing, a new anthology from The Library of America, reads like an elegy for the...

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Obama W. Bush Does His Banana Republic Thing

(1) Comments | Posted February 7, 2011 | 12:52 PM

When Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader or Glenn Greenwald or Paul Krugman or Chris Hedges or any number of Obama's leftwing critics call him a disgrace and worse -- ok, let's say it, a finkified hypocrite -- their opinions are dismissed on the right as...

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