Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A (Very) New Poem

Please handle with care. This poem is in its early stages. I'm pretty much putting this up here now just so my mom and sister can read it. Anyone else, feel free to skip it if you wish.

Praise Song for Everett


This is new for me: this distance.

This is what I know of you
so far: one picture.

This is what I do not know
yet: How you sleep on someone’s
lap; which one of your brother’s
you cry like, or if you’ve come up
with a whole new way to go
about it; how you grip a pinky
extended to you; the color of your
eyes; if you cry when I pick you up.

I have not picked you up.

I know one more thing: a name:
Everett. A cowboy name!
An outlaw name if ever there was one.
I see you on horseback,
Everett. I see you learning
the names of wild country flowers.

I can’t yet see myself there with you
because the buildings are huge
where I am. And, Everett, there
are so many of them.

Maybe I know one more thing:
When you finally decided to come
into the world, you did it fast.
I have always been more thought
than action; early on you appear
to be the other way around.
What do you think, though, Everett,

now that you are here?
Take your time with this one,
it might take some getting used to.

Or, fuck it, burn your way through it,
fast as you came; take it in one
bite. Don’t think, just ride.
You can tell me about it when
you finally fall asleep in my lap.

For now, let me tell you what I think:
I am shocked that the world keeps
offering things that make me believe in it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MN Year in Review at mnartists.org

The folks over at mnartists.org have collected quite a comprehensive list of artistic endeavors taken on and/or accomplished by artists, musicians, and writers from Minnesota in 2008. And they were nice enough to include a couple of my scribbles on the matter (including a shameless plug for InDigest). First is my review of my good friend Chris Koza's latest disc, which I was lucky enough to hear in its making in a small apartment in Brooklyn a couple of summers ago:


Chris Koza's Dark, Delirious Morning: This album holds some highlights in the impressive canon of Koza albums. "Straight to Video" shows a talented artist refusing to be boxed into what we might expect. This album makes me excited to see what Koza will do next, while leaving me something to work through while I'm waiting.


And then some great books by Dave Schwartz and Geoff Herbach...and a nice little magazine:


Dave Schwartz's Superpowers is an amazing novel by a local author in 2008 that is all the more so because, in less careful hands, the book could have been awful. His handling of the events of 9/11 is heartbreaking and understated and beautiful. Also released last year was Geoff Herbach's The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg (read a great review from Ashleigh Lambert at InDigest here), an unapologetically uplifting book and, as always with Herbach, hilarious. And, lastly, my shameless plug for InDigest Magazine. Although we technically launched in 2007, InDigest came into its own in 2008. From the beginning we've offered a unique home for Minnesota writers and artists to be showcased on a national and international stage, and in our anniversary issue we published many of our favorite Minnesota writers and artists again.



Check out all the lists here>>>

Lastly, if you are reading this today and you are in New York and you don't come to Chris Koza's show at Piano's tonight, then we are no longer friends.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guernica Magazine Praised on Esquire's Blog

Guernica Magazine, where I am the Blog Editor, got a little praise from Esquire for our fiction section. The Fiction section editor, Meakin Armstrong, has been published twice in InDigest and will be reading at our second InDigest 1207 on Feb. 4, along with Guernica's Poetry Editor, Erica Wright, who we've also published a couple times in InDigest.

Well played, Meakin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The 44th President of the United States



My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This is Rich

Or sickening, or maddening, or just completely ridiculous...I can't even tell anymore.

An article in today's New York Times entitled "Bailout Is a Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers" begins with this precious little bit:

At the Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton last November, John C. Hope III, the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, stood before a ballroom full of Wall Street analysts and explained how his bank intended to use its $300 million in federal bailout money.

“Make more loans?” Mr. Hope said. “We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans.”


You have to love this. As though it wasn't the business models and credit policies of banks that got us into this whole mess. This guy acts like the banking system has been a model of prudence, and maybe his bank was. But I doubt it. I have a friend who works at a small bank, as a lender, who did act responsibly before this whole fallout and he and his bank have gotten fucked from the business models and credit policies of other banks. And his bank hasn't seen a dime of TARP I.

For this John C. Hope III (It's like a name from a movie about a Depression) to act shocked that people would expect him and his bank to do with the money it received from the government what it was supposed to do (i.e. lend) is enough to make someone sick. I can't stand the hypocrisy in all of this.

Now, to amend what I just said. I used the word "supposed," but that probably isn't quite right, is it? Because, just as it did leading up to the Iraq invasion, Congress completely panicked on this one and didn't set up any checks and balances for how the money was to be used. Check out this precious bit from this story:

"Individually, banks that received some of the first $350 billion from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have offered few public details about how they plan to spend the money, and they are not required to disclose what they do with it."

Why the hell aren't they required to do so! Why would you write a check to any institution whose business model and credit policies had sent a whole financial system into a free fall without putting in place the means to track how that check was being spent? I mean this is dumb getting dumber.

Because of Congress' lack of foresight we end up with this:

"A review of investor presentations and conference calls by executives of some two dozen banks around the country found that few cited lending as a priority. An overwhelming majority saw the bailout program as a no-strings-attached windfall that could be used to pay down debt, acquire other businesses or invest for the future."

I would be one to argue for a market-driven system, a survivor of the fittest kind of living, if the "fittest" weren't only that because of the support they are given. If banks and other financial institutions could actually keep their houses in order and everyone on Main Street were flailing about in their own financial crisis, then I'd say, we got ourselves into this, we have to get ourselves out. But, for the banks to be in such a bad way, receive loans (even though they themselves wouldn't have lent money to themselves, given that it would be such a bad investment), and then solely use it as though it is theirs to invest...and then to act as though they had some sort of inalienable right to it, as though it's a given that they should receive money while everyone else suffers, well, it's almost too much for one person to take.

For a more thorough analysis (and maybe less pissed off, or at least he doesn't swear in his analysis) of the financial crisis, follow Robert Reich's thoughts on Guernica, where three days before this story in the Times he already told us all of this when he wrote "But the easier and probably more correct argument is that American taxpayers wasted $350 billion. No one knows exactly where it went -- at least two recent reports reveal that the Treasury had no idea -- but we do know the money did not go to small businesses, struggling homeowners, students, or anyone else needing credit, which was the major public justification for the bailout."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Robert Reich on Guernica

If they're going to use the second $350 billion here are some suggestions how from Robert Reich.

And by the way is anyone else sick of hearing about how only a small percentage of the people in this country actually understand the inner workings of our financial systems and therefore those people have to stay in positions managing the money from these bailouts? They obviously don't understand it very well, otherwise wouldn't it follow that we wouldn't be in this mess? It's like if you took your car to a mechanic and he told you how everything in your car works, but then couldn't even change your battery. I don't care if you can tell me how it works. Make it work. Or change it completely and put people in charge who can actually make a new system work.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Dealing With the C.I.A.

Is anyone else concerned about the apparently necessary way the C.I.A. has to be dealt with? As though if the organization is offended in any way they will just take their ball and go home and leave the rest of the country to figure out “intelligence” on our own, or at least one of the other members of the Intelligence Community will have to figure it out without them.

This is from the New York Times yesterday in an article entitled “Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs”:

“At the Central Intelligence Agency, in particular, many officers flatly oppose any further review and may protest the prospect of a broad inquiry into their past conduct.”

Of course they do and of course they would. For the last eight years they’ve been taking directions from an administration that arrogantly changed the definition of torture, so that when its members said they did not torture, they would have a definition that made that statement true. Using the old definitions and agreements between nations simply would not do, so they made their own rules. It’s no wonder that those involved with this redefining would “oppose any further review.” But who cares?

Obama says that “at the C.I.A. you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got [to] spend all their time looking over their shoulders,” and the Times article says, “Mark Lowenthal, who was the assistant director for analysis and production at the C.I.A. from 2002 to 2005, said if agents were criminally investigated for doing something that top Bush administration officials asked them to do and that they were assured was legal, intelligence officers would be less willing to take risks to protect the country.”

I realize that clandestinity is inherent in an organization like the C.I.A., but the law is the law, or should be. The Bush administration didn’t necessarily think so, and the C.I.A. was presumably willing to go along with that administration and its new definitions.

If wrongdoing occurred, then we can get into the discussion of whether the C.I.A. was only acting on orders and therefore if its members should or should not be the ones held accountable. But that is a different discussion (See: Donald Rumsfeld, the Army, and Abu Ghraib). To simply not examine the C.I.A.’s past actions because “any effort to conduct a wider re-examination would almost certainly provoke a backlash at the country’s intelligence agencies” is not a good enough reason. To not move forward on a re-examination because it might offend some people and make them less willing to do their job in the future should not be the basis upon which we decide whether or not to take a look at the last eight years.

Crossposted at Guernica Magazine

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are You Looking For a Place to Serve?

I got an email from Michelle Obama telling me that January 19th is National Day of Service. Well, for those of you in MN here's a place where you can do yours.






Stay Up to Date with news at The Lab!

Get Involved & Volunteer at The Lab!



Fall 2008 Summary Highlights

As The Lab settles in to a new year, we also reflect on the accomplishments of our pioneer semester at Homecroft School! All told, since October 1st, The Lab served 247 students and 31 staff, and 28 amazing volunteers logged 230 volunteer hours working with young people!

The scope of The Lab grew as we began offering Enrichments to students in three EBD programs of St. Paul Public Schools, while simultaneously offering staff development time for the teachers, social workers, and paraprofessionals of each team. The students worked with 5 different guest performers and 17 volunteers over the course of three months, and celebrated in December with a final showcase of their work. Staff made strides in team development and program planning. In addition to the Enrichment model, Lab volunteers and staff have lead 7 different small-group based creative art experiences for students from several schools and offered 11 different one-on-one mentorships in creative arts. These have included Shaolin Kenpo (a self-defense martial art), art cars, graffiti, baking, and poetry, and visits from Pet Haven of Minnesota, sharing stories of animal rescue and responsible pet ownership.

The 6th volume of The Lab’s Poetry Chapbook and CD was released at the end of December! The book features poetry, raps and photography by students at the Lab. The CD showcases the original recordings of student's poems, raps, & beats.
The Lab's On-Line School Store

Support The Lab by shopping at our on-line School Store! Here, you can purchase your own copy of The Lab's Poetry Chapbook & CD, as well as t-shirt, Lab journals, and coffee mugs!

All proceeds from books and gear go directly to empowering young people in The Lab.

In September, we posted our first project to DonorsChoose.org, a not-for-profit web site where teachers submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn. DonorsChoose.org writes, "These ideas become classroom reality when concerned individuals, whom we call Citizen Philanthropists, choose projects to fund."

Our first project, titled "Mic Check 1, 2 - Can You Hear Me?" was fully funded by 15 Citizen Philanthropists in just over three months. We now have two new microphones for our recording studio as well as blank CDs! Thank you!

Click here to read more about how DonorsChoose.org works!



Shop at Kowalski's & Support The Lab!

We are grateful for Kowalski's Market on Grand Avenue in St. Paul! For this quarter, January - March, drop your shopping receipt in The Lab charity box at the front of the store.

Through their "Groceries for Good Causes" program, Kowalski's will make a donation to The Lab based on the sheer number of receipts (not the ammount spent!) left in our box.

Kowalski's has donated over a quarter million dollars to local charities through this program. Shop at Kowalski's on Grand Avenue in St. Paul!

Kowalski's on Grand
1261 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN
open 5:00am to 1:00am

For more information about
THE LAB email Mallory Haar at mallory.haar@spps.org

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Book Review



I was going to send this book review into a site looking for reviews of novellas, but decided against it. So, rather than let it waste away on my computer, I'll post it here:

In the first chapter of Alejandro Zambra’s novella, Bonsai, the reader is given two pieces of information that are all he needs to know about the story, and the narrator frequently interrupts, reminding us what is important to the story, in order that we don’t stray from what really matters. We are told in the first paragraph that the protagonist, Julio, waits “stubbornly” for the “inevitable day when seriousness would arrive and settle into his life forever.” And we are told even before this the reason (though Julio does not know this yet; to him his inevitable seriousness is just an assumption): “In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. The rest is literature:”.
That colon at the end of the first paragraph is important. The rest of the novel is the literature of which the narrator speaks. This book is obsessed with literature, and through it’s characters’ reading of and telling about other literature, the book is written. Julio, before Emilia dies, almost accidentally, writes a novel called Bonsai when he is caught up in a lie about transcribing a novel for a famous writer. When he does not get that job, Julio begins writing his novel during his days and editing it at night, pretending it is the famous novelist’s. The only premise he is given from the novelist is that the protagonist “finds out that a girlfriend from his youth has died.” And then, “Everything goes to hell.”

That, in the end, is Bonsai’s story: The reader is told at the beginning that Emilia dies; that Julio waits for seriousness to arrive, and it does (though a sort of pointlessness has by this time already arrived in Julio’s life) when Emilia dies and he is finally, truly alone. The rest of Bonsai’s cyclical journey—and though it begins and ends at the same point, it is certainly a journey—is literature.

About Me

David Luke Doody is a freelance writer and editor. He is a founding editor of InDigest Magazine (www.indigestmag.com), an online literary magazine and the blog editor for Guernica Magazine (www.guernicamag.com). His writing and interviews have appeared in those magazines as well as in The Huffington Post, mnartists.org, The Minnesota Twins Yearbook, and Intentionally Urban Magazine, among others.

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