Thursday, November 29, 2007

Going Hollywood, Con't

While I can't really say that I'm a star yet, the wheels definitely seem to be in motion.

The name of the movie is "3 Days Gone." I'm not sure if it's going to be released in theaters or not, but my guess would be that it might be a straight to DVD kind of thing. The shoot was at the The Mint, a rock club on Pico. The first three hours involved me sitting around, grazing off of the craft service table (a little disappointing, mostly just heaps of candy and chips, Red Bulls and Cokes), talking with the four other extras, and eavesdropping on the producer's conversations. The ad that I responded to said that we were going to be in a scene acting as patrons of strip club. But to the disappointment of both myself and my fellow male extras, the scenes with the strippers were shot without our involvement (although the trailer they were hanging out in was right next to where we were waiting). After a couple of hours the director and his underlings lined us up, huddled, pointed, conversed and decided. 3 extras were taken for one scene, another (Jonathon) and myself for a later scene. I sat around some more. Our scene ended up being the last one shot last night. Jonathon and I stood on the corner outside of the club. I was smoking a cigarette (literally the first one I had even inhaled in over 10 years). The star of the movie runs over to us, shows us a picture of girl that he's looking for, we say we haven't seen her, then he runs off. 5 takes in 2 minutes. I was done. The director said that the scene was definitely going to make it in.

All in all I have to say it was a good experience. Everybody was really nice, there were no big egos, and in a year or so when the movie comes out I'll have something to bore every person that ever walk in to our house with.

I took my big earnings for the day and went out to dinner with Claire at Pizzeria Mozza, Mario Batali's place on Melrose. The food was good, maybe not great. But Danny Devito, Rhea Perlman, and Jamie Kennedy were all there. So that was pretty cool and really rounded out my Hollywood day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Going Hollywood

To insure that my L.A. experience will be complete by the end of spring and it's time to go home...I got myself a extra role in some low budget movie. The shoot is tomorrow afternoon at some bar on Pico. I'll report back tomorrow night.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Workshop Redux

I'm in a workshop for the first time in since grad school. Months ago (after deciding that we would move down here in the fall) I responded to a listing on Craigslist, something like, "post MFA poet looking to begin weekly workshop", etc. I responded by saying that I wasn't around, but would be in a few months, can I look contact you then. I met with them for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I liked them, I guess they liked me, and today I went for the first time. It's a group of 5 (six with me), all women, all well accomplished, meeting every Saturday.

Dot-to-Dot, Oregon, is about 18 months old now. I've become so close to some of the poems, that I feel I can no longer see them for what they are. I got some really terrific feedback today on my Astoria poem. It's nice to actually talk about poetry, beyond "yes" and "no" for a change.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writers and Turkeys

Tomorrow will be my first Thanksgiving spent with my entire family since I was 20 years old. There will be 13 people at my parents house. Claire and I are doing the turkey (a 18 pounder). We butterfly it, than roast it super hot, the fat drips down into the dressing (challah and sausage) below. Mmmm. And it takes less than two hours to cook.

Things are starting to happen with the L.A. issue. We got a story from Aram Saroyan and poems from Charles Harper Webb, Caley O'Dwyer and Christopher Davidson. I just got word from Tony Barnstone who promised sonnets. He also is helping to spread the word. Unsolicited poems and stories are coming in. Still hoping to get work from Martha Ronk, David St. John and Kevin Moffitt.

Nicholas Reading's chapbook is at the printers and should be back by tonight. They're on sale now for only $5- on our website.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bad Times

A majority of editors these day (myself included) seem to have listened to their mothers too closely when they said "if you don't have anything nice to say..." It's rare that I print anything negative. But the Red Hen reading I went to last night was brutal. It was listed as "Red Hen Press presents a release party and reading for Soft Skull Press's new anthology, Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry."

I like Soft Skull Press and a lot of their authors (I didn't know how they were connected with Red Hen), so I thought it might be worth checking out. Apparently the editors of the anthology asked Kate Gale (editor of Red Hen) to work on a collaboration. Gale asked Terry Wolverton to work with her on the project. So the reading was loosely based on the poem that the two had in the anthology. As far as I know there wasn't anyone there from Soft Skull.

1st off, the venue was horrible, a coffee shop, with tons of background noise, an inoperable mike, and street noise off Sepulveda coming through the open doors. Gale introduced Wolverton who read a few pieces out of the anthology--her own piece, a Kerouac/Ginsberg collaboration, a couple of others. The audience was made up of a large group of her students from Writer's at Work (a workshop series she created). The reading was patronizing in a way I had never experienced. Her over animated reading of the poems, her introduction of Kerouac, her stopping mid poem to tell a worker that his actions were distracting, were all very off putting. The next reader was a former student of Gale's, Jamey Hecht. Red Hen is publishing his first book of poetry (does something seem wrong about that?). The book is 5o sonnets based on the Zaprunder films. In and of itself, the concept could be interesting, but he combined the film with his fervent theories of the JFK assassination. The poems were over the top, theatrical, smug, ridiculous. Many poems written with Kennedy as the speaker. By the time that the next reader came on we were spent. We listened to his first poem as he walked through the audience screaming and then walked out (something I can't ever remember doing before).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hammer Series

I heard Terrance Hayes read last night as part of the Hammer Series. I first learned of Hayes after reading his poem "The Same City," which is about as good as anything I've read in a while. The venue seemed kind of off to me. He read in the movie theater of the Hammer Museum. The room is pink all over, with the these long, thin fluorescent lights all around. Around 300 seats, which around 50 were full (likely the most beautiful poetry listening crowd I have ever seen, mostly UCLA students). It seemed a little too dark (even with the lights) and stuffy in mood.

Stephen Yenser did the long introduction. It began kind of slapstick, as he hunted for his notes for minutes (at one point leaving the stage and theater to go try to find them). But as soon as he started speaking the tone went directly to academic, comparing Hayes to Marianne Moore (it was her birthday yesterday). It went on endlessly. Even though Hayes teaches at Carnegie Mellon I would not consider him an academic poet and as soon as he got on stage the mood shifted. Hayes is engaging, with the kind of voice that I wish came out of my mouth when I read my work. But he wasn't prepared either, thumbing through his books and papers for the whole reading, having no real idea of what he was going to read next. I like him and his poems for the most part, but something about the night was off for me and I never quite engaged myself fully.

The best part of the night came when I went to Tom Bergins for the first time. $6- dollar Irish Coffees is a deal in this town. The bar is the kind of place I can see myself returning to all too often. I sat and watched the Ducks blow their season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Luna Park Review

It doesn't get much better than this.

In other news:

Today in L.A.: 82 degrees and cloudless.
Today in PDX: 53 degrees and raining.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Burnside at Wordstock

I flew in late last night from PDX after a non-stop weekend. Things were hectic, but everything went extraordinarily well. Mountain Writer's donated part of there stage to us (thank you Sandra Williams) , allowing us to bring a large number of our writers, including: Alberto Rios, Linda Bierds, Robyn Art, Carlos Reyes (reading Emma Howell's poetry), Pauls Toutonghi, Michele Glazer, Rebecca Loudon, BT Shaw, and many more. The readings were great and well attended (over 50 people at a 10:30 am on Sunday!!). Bill held things down at the booth with help from Regina, Virginia and Alisha. After the cost of the table we even netted enough profit to afford two burritos, a tank of gas and a few cups of coffee.

Just got word from Paul Guest that he's accepted our offer to judge next year's poetry chapbook contest. Last year's winner (Nicolas Reading, The Party in Question) is just about ready. I'll go to the printer tomorrow and do a proof, with hopes of having a final product some time next week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Try As I Might...

...I just can't seem to dislike, discredit, etc., Davy Rothbart and Found Magazine. I went to their show tonight at Largo on Fairfax and tried once again, but I give up, it's never going to happen. He's too sincere, too honest. I believe he was crying on stage tonight toward the end of the show while reading one of his favorite finds. It was also a good show, kept me laughing throughout (he must be doing a lot of things right, it was standing room only with a $10- cover and a $15- minimum on drinks), as he read new and old piece from the issues and books and a new short story about his deaf mother (who has often been featured in his This American Life pieces). His brother Peter also played a few songs that he had written inspired by various found pieces.

I suppose on the basest of levels it's just envy. Such a simple idea, such a good aesthetic, so well executed. So successful. They're about half way through their tour and it's certainly worth checking out (as are his This American Life contributions) if they come close to you.

Monday, November 5, 2007


On Friday I fly back to Portland for this year's Wordstock book festival. This year will be a little different from the previous two. In addition to our table at the bookfair we're running a number of readings. Linda Bierds, Alberto Rios, Robyn Art, Pauls Toutonghi, Carlos Reyes reading Emma Howell's work, and many more. In additional, I'll be reading with poet Tung-Hui Hu. The complete schedule is here. All the readings are free once you pay the $5- to get into the bookfair. The money goes to the Community of Writers. If you're in Portland I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween on Santa Monica Blvd

I heard it said that there were 300,000 people there on Wednesday night and I don't doubt it. I met some friends there at about 5:00. At that point the roads were blocked off, there were hundreds of cops, but hardly anyone out and about. By the time we left (or tried to leave) at 11:00 it was complete mayhem. There was so many people on the street that it took us about an hour just to get off Santa Monica Blvd. But the mood was supremely festive, nearly everyone was drunk, and the costumes were amazing. My favorite was buddy Toby's quadriplegic friend who had made a pirate ship to fit over his wheelchair. He of course was the pirate.