Barely Cool, new trio recording from pfMENTUM

Dedicated to creative music—and the musicians that make it. Barely Cool: Schroeder, Campello, Godoy An exciting recording session, with an equally exciting story behind it! From the liner notes: “During an ethnographic research project on free improvisation in Brazil, saxophonist Franziska Schroeder met guitarist Marcos Campello and drummer Renato Godoy. The trio joined musical forces in May 2014 at Rio de …

pfMENTUM and Angry Vegan: New recordings and more! 

Dedicated to creative music, and the musicians that make it! Included in this issue: A letter from Jeff A quiz with FREE CD giveaway… New Vlatkovich releases on pfMENTUM New Hipster Modular (Trevor Henthorn) release on Angry Vegan Upcoming events From Jeff:   This is a very exciting time for pfMENTUM and Angry Vegan!   As many of you know, I left Ventura …

Michael Vlatkovich: Mortality (PFMCD091)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="569"]
ensemblio:
michael vlatkovich: trombone
dan clucas: trumpet
jill torberson: french horn
bill plake: tenor sax
david riddles: bassoon, flute, soprano sax, clarinet
andrew pask: alto sax, bari sax, bass clarinet
bill roper: tuba, bombardondino
harry scorzo: violin
jonathan golove: cello
tom mcnalley: guitar
dominic genova: bass 
wayne peet: piano, keyboard
carol sawyer: voice
ken park: all percussion

[NOTE: do to a printing error, track 4 was left off the package. What you see below is correct.]

1. adeptly disguised as chairs and tables the audience listened quietly — 9:08
2. as quickly as it came — 6:31
3. or do you have change for a $20 — 5:25
4. out of the wall and into the night — 5:27
5. sometimes a red nose and big shoes aren’t enough — 2:33
6. mortality — 11:32
7. hiding out as a verb — 5:49
8. goodbye — 7:06

© 2015 julius ivory music, ascap
music composed m vlatkovich
recorded 2014 wayne peet engineer
edited mixed and mastered sept. 2014
front photo chuck britt
back photo bill roper
design jeff kaiser

pfMENTUM CD091

PFMCD091

Odeya Nini: Vougheauxyice (Voice) (PFMCD083)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="551"]
Vougheauxyice (Voice)

Odeya Nini: Voice

1. Mi See Ti 3:37
2. Dalai 6:16
3. Everyday Cantor 3:07
4. Idiomia 4:35
5. Tunnel 6:22
6. Tapestry of Synonyms 6:34
7. There Are So Many Things That I Have To Tell You 9:52
8. Cyclicality 6:36

1-4 were recorded in a private home in Joshua Tree, CA, September 25, 2012.
5 was recorded in an aqueduct in San Francisquito Canyon, CA, April 1, 2013.
7 was recorded at California Institute for the Arts, June 2012.

All tracks except 7 were recorded and mixed by Justin Asher
7 was recorded and mixed by Brian Saia
6 was edited by Odeya Nini
Mastered by Joe Panzner

Except for track 6, all of the pieces are in a single take, no editing. 1-5 are compositions with an open form. There is a compositional road map, but they are not performed the same way twice. 7 and 8 are improvised. Several microphones where set up in the space for 1-5, allowing for the voice to be recorded with movement and gesturing.

Photography – Adeline Newmann and Odeya Nini
Design and layout – Thea Lorentzen
Art – Saul Alpert Abrams

NOTES:

Vougheauxyice (Voice)

The voice is an instrument that both listens and reveals. It takes from all that is around us and all that is inside us as it communicates a free and composed response outward. In this work I explore the language of the voice like a dancer. I think of shape, form, gesture and the vast range of motion in the voice’s movement through space. The voice is often thought of as intangible, but in this work I try to mold its natural physical tendencies, sensing its vibrations, and feeling the touch of its waves on my skin and in my bones.

Mi See Ti

A simple melody alluding false solfege syllables that repeat themselves, diverging more and more. A play with forms of interpretation from contained and proper, to unruly swells.

In performance this piece incorporates theatrical elements, changes of facial expression and a collapsing of the body to the floor between each iteration. It questions ideas of beauty in the voice, presentation, intention, the relationship and cohesion (or negation) of the body’s expression simultaneous to the expression of the voice, and the role of the singer as an exhibitionist.

Dalai

Dalai was written while spending time in Mongolia in the summer of 2012. I learned that the meaning of the word Dalai, that we know so well from Dalai Lama, means ocean in Mongolian. Traveling in the Gobi desert, the power of the wind was omnipresent, and absolutely striking to me. It was possible to see the storms and changes of weather traversing the endlessly flat desert from miles away—often surprisingly quick—bringing gusts more powerful than I had ever experienced. Every turn of the head gave variation to the sound of the howling wind: so violent at times and peaceful in its aftermath. The obsession with wind was an easy to acquire, the more I listened, the more I realized the sound of crashing waves and the ocean’s movements were the sounds of wind. In a landlocked country such as Mongolia, I sensed the ocean all around me. Wind, ocean, breath.

Everyday Cantor

Everyday Cantor features voice and field recording. The sounds of sacred song in the everyday act of showering. Is there a difference between singing in a cathedral or singing under the shower head? The devotional voice reveals itself and then becomes drenched in everyday simplicity.

Idiomia

Inspired by random sequences of bird calls and the meaning that comes out of non verbal sonic communication. The answer is in the ear of the beholder. The voice has dynamic expression, calls, yells, gentle flutters, overtones, ingressive and egressive breathing. What is it saying? The mind wants to distill the voice, but allow it to migrate.

Tunnel

Tunnel is an improvisation on a traditional Yemenite Jewish folk song called Tzur Manoti. My Yemenite roots have always been strong in me, I see them on my face, and hear them in my voice. I often question how I fit along the continuum of my spiritually devoted ancestors, having arrived at this experimental art form. In this song I find a passageway between who I am today and the narrative of kindred souls. The result is a contemporary translation which keeps me present in my explorations (and realizations) of free form, allying me with my deep past.

Tapestry of Synonyms

We are what we hear. A collage of field recordings collected over the last four years including goats, monks, trains, plates, horses, helicopters, microwaves, wind storms, rain on tents, creaking cabinet doors, dragging chairs, tin foil crumbling, fire crackling, locks clacking, teeth brushing, family and friends from California, New York, Mexico, Mongolia Italy and Israel.

The collection of textures from our environment are juxtaposed with the voice, which we often do not consider as related. However, whether in texture or song, we do find part of our surroundings, mimicking, blending, connecting.

There is only reverb added to some of these field recordings. Besides being sliced and pasted, there are no other manipulation or altering effects.

The voice of Archie Carey, my grandmother Rachel Nini and my parents David and Tamar Nini are included.

There Are So Many Things that I Have To Tell You

Language can be tricky, slippery and twofold. This piece is a stream of consciousness improvisation with words, surfacing moods and thoughts otherwise submerged.

I sit in front of my loop pedal and amp, not knowing what stories will emerge, and allow them to flow. No story quite like the last, It is always a new and exciting journey.

Cyclicality

One voice layers on another, and another and another, shifting, morphing, coasting.

Beneath all these layers, I am still only one.

Thank you to all these wonderful people and places who created this album with their patient and skillful talents, generosity, inspiration and love. Endless gratitude.

Justin Asher, Joe Panzner, Brian Saia, Julie Tolentino + Feral Studios, CalArts, Adeline Newmann, Saul Alpert Abrams, Thea Lorentzen, Pieter Performance Space, Gerry Hemingway (for teaching me that music is sound in time), and ALL the incredible people who supported this album on Kickstarter.

Thank you to my dear family, Achinoam, Roy, Sharra, to my grandmother Rachel whose voice of many lives always plays in my ear, and especially to my parents David and Tamar Nini for their endless unquestioning love and support. My voice is your voice.

. . . and to Archie, for absolutely everything. This album is for you.

pfMENTUM CD083

PFMCD083

Bubbeleh (PFMCD082)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="549"]
Andrew Conrad: Clarinet, Tenor Sax
Greg Zilboorg: Trumpet
Lauren Baba: Violin, Viola
Max Kutner: Guitar
Philip Rankin: Wurlitzer, Synthesizer, Melodica, Pump Organ, Tack Piano, Clave, Guiro
Rusty Kennedy: Bass
Colin Woodford: Drums, Congas, Shakers, Rattles, and Ankle Bells

1. Dybbuk Square Dance 3:29
2. Fear of Heights 5:07
3. Schmutzy Glasses 5:26
4. Woulda…Coulda…MESHUGGAH!!! 3:44
5. (An Honest) Living 2:19
6. Choots-Pah 3:55
7. Grepse 4:17
8. Simcha Boytchik Hintele (Puppy Party) 3:35
9. Mosesque 6:56
10. Bubberella 4:30
11. Czytzfachykz 4:54

1, 2, 5, 9, 10 composed by Max Kutner, © 2014 Maladept Music, ASCAP

4, 6, 7, 8 composed by Philip Rankin, © 2014 Jewish Shark Attack, ASCAP

3 composed by Greg Zilboorg, © 2014 Shouting Dog, ASCAP

11 composed by Rusty Kennedy, © 2014 Jewish Shark Attack, ASCAP

Recorded by Samur Khouja at Seahorse Sound Studios, Los Angeles, August 20-22, 2013
Assistant Engineer: Alex DeGroot
Mixed by Brian Saia, October-December 2013
Mastered by John Baffa at TVTray Studios, Simi Valley, CA, December 2013
Produced by Maxwell Ryan דוד Kutner and Philip Jason שַׂמֵחַ Rankin
Executive Producer: William Ross Gibson
Associate Producer: Debra Fredericks, Tamasaurus Rex
Logo by Dawn Chan * Layout and design by J. Carver

Max and Phil would like to thank the band: Greg, Rusty, Lauren, Andrew and Colin. Everyone who helped record this album: Samur, John and especially Brian. KT Pierce for photography and building our website. Phil would like to thank his Mother, Jill; his Father, David; his sister Michele; and his dog, Max. Max would like to thank his family: Leslie, Samantha, Stephanie, Art and Michael for their tireless, inexhaustible support and encouragement. Most importantly we would like to thank everybody who donated to our Indiegogo Campaign. This album would not have been made possible without your generous donations.

pfMENTUM CD082

PFMCD082

Jeff Kaiser and Phil Skaller: Endless Pie (PFMCD072)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="528"]
Endless Pie is…
Jeff Kaiser: trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, electronics
Phil Skaller: prepared piano

Two CDs:
Total run time 109 minutes

Recorded live in Studio A
University of California San Diego, November 21-22, 2010
Recording engineers: Joe Kucera and Clint Davis

Mixing, mastering, design: Jeff Kaiser, July 2012

All compositions © 2012:Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP • Phil Skaller, ASCAP

Blueberry (Disc One)

1. Unchangeable Fundament 13:15
2. Image of a Punctiform 3:35
3. People from the Machinations 8:50
4. Two Unknowns, the One Being 6:07
5. Galileo Uses Propaganda 6:39
6. Anticipated by Bacon 4:42
7. No Immediate Theoretical 3:36
8. Alongside a Moving Tower 3:42

Cherry (Disc Two)

1. The Puppet Does Not Have a Soul 14:54
2. Backward Intersection 5:29
3. Occured without Noticeable 2:37
4. Absence of any Proper Notion 5:29
5. Behave Very Much Like After-Images 7:44
6. We Must Retain 6:34
7. The Problem of Telescopic Vision 2:27
8. As Some Relics 6:04
9. Well-Determined Exceptions 1:31
10. This Paratactic 5:19

pfMENTUM CD072

PFMCD072

Phil Skaller and Danny Holt Duo: Music of Mark Dresser (PFMCD062)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="510"]
Phil Skaller and Danny Holt Duo: Music of Mark Dresser

1 Flac (5:12)
2 Flocus (13:09)
3 Para Waltz (10:48)
4 Digestivo (9:37)
5 Aperitivo (12:33)

Philip Skaller and Danny Holt: pianos, celeste, toy piano, melodica, percussion
All compositions by Mark Dresser (Del Dresser Music/ASCAP)
Arrangements by Philip Skaller and Danny Holt
Recorded October and November 2008 and June 2009 at Roy O. Disney Music Hall, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
Piano Technician: Alan Eder
Engineered by Steve Rusch
Edited and Mixed by Edmund P. Monsef at The Hacienda, Los Angeles, CA
Mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Artwork by Iva Gueorguieva
Graphic Design by Ted Killian
Executive Producer: Danny Holt
This recording was made possible in part by a Subito grant from the Los Angeles chapter of the American Composers Forum.
© 2010 Philip Skaller and Danny Holt

I was quite surprised when Phil Skaller approached me about recording a whole CD of my compositions in duo with Danny Holt. Though I had composed this music between 1994 and 2008 for my own groups, and arranged it for various formations, I had never imagined it for two pianos.

I’ve known Phil since 2002 when he was my teaching assistant at Hampshire College in an improvisation class. I introduced some of my tunes to the students and Phil, especially, devoured the music and its improvisational concepts. I had been hearing the praises of Danny Holt for years from Phil, but it was not until 2008 that I first heard this duo perform a suite of my compositions at UC San Diego. I was quite impressed and flattered by the wit, musical virtuosity, and pure improvisational fantasy that these two gifted young musicians brought to my music.

The compositions represented on this CD were conceived as abstractions and deconstructions of known jazz forms and related idiomatic music. What Phil Skaller and Danny Holt have done is to deconstruct my deconstructions. They have taken my music in directions that I doubt that I would have ever conceived and in some ways, made the music more flexible and malleable.

The first track, Flac, recorded on “Aquifer” (Cryptogramophone), was originally designed as a rhythmically gear-shifting Klezmer-like tune that improvisationally develops from the material itself and returns to the theme. Phil and Danny’s version has a rhythmic and sound character reminiscent of both Conlon Nancarrow’s studies for player piano and John Cage’s works for prepared piano. The alternation of fragments of the tune and its improvisational implications comes in waves, yet a thread of the thematic materials is always present.
Flocus was composed for trumpet, voice, bass, piano and drums and recorded on “Force Green” (Soul Note). It was conceived as four independent lines, each in a different meter, which are layered one upon another and developed in collective improvisation. Phil and Danny’s version takes a different direction, introducing a more classical theme and variation approach, while each of the lines independently develops outside of the tempo grid. This interpretation, though referring to themes, transcends the materials and becomes a springboard for episodes of virtuoso invention and dramatic return.

Para Waltz was composed as a vehicle to melodically and harmonically improvise on a metric modulating jazz waltz. Danny and Phil’s interpretation takes a very different direction, initially eschewing the tempo aspect and focusing on a more spacious approach, layering the timbres of glockenspiel, piano, and piano harmonics. The temporal aspect isn’t highlighted until midway, with the introduction of cymbals demarcating the time. The thematic material is finally introduced whole and floats on out.

Similarly Digestivo, recorded on “Aquifer” and “The Marks Brothers” (W.E.R.F), was conceived to create a metric modulating twelve-bar blues in B-flat. My idea was to abstract the idea of ‘substitute changes’ traditionally applied to jazz harmony and apply it to the domain of tempo. Unlike the original, which has a single underlying tempo throughout, Danny and Phil’s version is freer, starting out of time. They eventually introduce the tune and the different tempos, but in the end, leave the form completely, in an expansive and satisfying way.

Aperitivo, composed for piano, bass, and voice, is an even more abstract version of the blues than Digestivo. Recorded on “Time Changes” (Cryptogramophone), this slower metric modulating twenty-four bar form in C minor doesn’t even articulate the ground pulse, creating a feel that is inherently looser and less polyrhythmic than Digestivo. Phil Skaller and Danny Holt’s version is an extremely inventive and expansive finale to the CD, utilizing pianos, toy piano, melodica, and percussion. Improvisationally, they’ve chosen an even more abstract approach, which alternates the gestalt of tempo changes of the head and a freer approach that abstracts motifs, melody, and an almost fugue-like beginning. At about minute nine the tune grinds into a vamp, modulates faster, and phases, juxtaposing shreds of the melody back into the vamp, and returning to the twenty-four bar head.

Hearing Phil Skaller and Danny Holt’s interpretations of my music is both affirming and inspiring. I am impressed with the combination of their virtuoso playing, interpretative skills, and pure musical imagination. I look forward to hearing what they do next.

Mark Dresser
September 2010

pfMENTUM CD062

PFMCD062

Jim Connolly and The Gove County String Quartet with Anna Abbey: It’s Only Gravity That Makes Wearing A Crown Painful (PFMCD061)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="506,508"]
Jim Connolly and The Gove County String Quartet with Anna Abbey

Laura Hackstein: Violin
Sally Barr: Violin, Five-String Violin on Channel Crossing
Nick Coventry: Viola
Jim Connolly: Double Bass, Melodica
Anna Abbey: Toy Piano, Piano

1. It’s Only Gravity That Makes Wearing A Crown Painful 3:58
2. Tealight No. 6 1:52
3. Why Won’t You Be My Neighbor? 3:25
4. Tealight No. 1 1:51
5. Tealight No. 8 2:00
6. Bewitched By The Baby In A Clamshell 3:53
7. Tealight No. 9 1:16
8. Tealight No. 3 1:54
9. Dimestore 5:49
10. Tealight No. 11 1:02
11. Channel Crossing 4:23
12. Tealight No. 5 0:56
13. Bobo Is Hungry 5:57
14. Tealight No. 2 0:53
15. Tealight No. 10 1:49
16. There Are Some Things That Even A 500 Year Old Tree Has Not Seen 6:13
17. Tealight No. 4 0:35
18. Tealight No. 12 1:38
19. The Watts Towers 5:16
20. Tealight No. 7 1:43

All music ©2010 James Connolly Music, ASCAP except
Why Won’t You Be My Neighbor? ©2010 WB Music Corp. OBO Vernon Music Corporation

Tealights No. 5 and No. 10 by Jim Connolly with Jaco Connolly
Tealight No. 6 by Jim Connolly with Anna Abbey

The cover is Wooden Drummer, by Yevgenia Nayberg • Nayberg.org
Recorded by Jim Connolly, January 3-6 and May 10, 2010, Deane Chapel, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA
Mastered by Robinson Eikenberry, July 2010, Santa Barbara, CA
Graphics by Ted Killian

pfMENTUM CD061

PFMCD061

Michael Vlatkovich and Dottie Grossman: Call & Response & Friends (PFMCD060)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="501,503"]
Artists: Los Angeles Recording:
Dottie Grossman: poems
Michael Vlatkovich: trombone
Rich West: drums/percussion
Anders Swanson: bass

L.A. Recording 7/09: Killzone Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Corvallis Recording (indicated by *) 11/05:
Dottie Grossman, poems; Michael Vlatkovich, trombone;
David Storrs, drums/ percussion, toys; Jim Knodle, trumpet

Corvallis Recording: Califas Studio, Corvallis, OR

engineer: Wayne Peet
producers: Michael Vlatkovich, Dottie Grossman
front cover art: Billy Mintz
design: Ted Killian

1. Benjamin Called (1:38)
2. I Wish (1:49)
3. Tumbleweed (:57)*
4. Early Wednesday morning (1:20)*
5. Veterans Hospital (1:18)*
6. Mendocino Coast 1967 (2:21)
7. Merry Christmas, Michael (1:12)*
8. Two Henny Youngman Poems (1:57)
9. This Winter (1:38)
10. Two Appropriations (1:39)*
11. The Two Times I Loved
You The Most In a Car (2:37)
12. Two Poems About Trucks (2:20)
13. Africa (1:29)*
14. Melting Pot (2:35)
15. Zoey Steps Out (1:18)*
16. Quotation (1:56)
17.Little Rock (2:03)*
18.Two More Henny
Youngman Poems (1:48)
19. Helicopter Noise (:50)*
20. This Is What I Do Best (1:33)
21. The People Who Hate Wind (1:22)*
22. Just Before (1:45)
23. Noon Concert (1:36)
24. Another Nose Poem (1:52)*
25. Definition of Happiness/
If I Were Directing This Movie (1:27)*
26. From Iceland (1:36)*
27. Alaska (1:49)
28. What Henny Youngman Loves
Most About America (:47)
29. Vince Salvino (1.16)*
30. Fortune Cookie (3:11)
31. Henny Youngman’s True
Confession (2:06)*
32. Sorry To Disappoint You (1:39)
33. Future Past (1:42)
34. Mark Weber-Type Poem (1:41)

Track 1

Benjamin called
from Long Beach Island,
New Jersey.
I said, “I can hardly hear you;
the ocean’s so noisy.”
He put down the phone
for a second
and screamed,
“Atlantic, will you please
shut up? —
I’m talking to Dottie.”

Track 2

I wish there was a town
called Nirvana
in Nevada.
It would be
a beautiful place,
in a valley,
where the only industry
was happiness.
Wouldn’t it be fun
to send a letter there —
addressed to
“Nirvana, NV”?

Track 3

Something is draped on a fence
until it is time to be tumbleweed.
In this room,
you are heroic,
tasting of summer and vitamins.
Step outside
and the tumbleweed rolls.

Track 4

Early Wednesday morning,
nobody’s kicked up any dust,
nobody’s made a dime, yet.
All the pet dogs
have left-alone faces.

Track 5

Veterans Hospital

The uniform white buildings
shine as pointlessly
as dead men’s teeth.
Here, everything is slower,
even southern,
as they dance to mark
the time between the palm trees
and forget in the clean cut grass.

Track 6

Mendocino Coast, 1967

Inland, where the grasses and grapes lived,
we could not have imagined
the rocks, the cold clouds —
the surf that would surround us
like a headache,
and those long tubes of kelp
like noodles
from another world
where, with the music of foghorns
and wind chimes,
even the kind moon
seemed dangerous.

Track 7

Merry Christmas, Michael

You remind me of a dolphin,
navigating the waves
with your own mysterious sonar
that sounds a lot like a trombone.

Track 8

2 Henny Youngman Poems

Henny Youngman On National Poetry Month

Henny Youngman hates National Poetry Month;
it gives him performance anxiety.

Henny Youngman To His Priest

Forgive me, Father,
for I have sinned.
I’m sexually aroused
by sacred music.

Track 9

This winter feels colder than ever,
or maybe I’m just more sensitive
these days,
when the wind is
a fire engine
and the moon is sinister
and blue.
I’m all bundled up for it,
stamping my feet,
drinking rum,
counting the days
until the yellow flowers.

Track 10

(two appropriations)

Tuna Fishing

“A March 22 “Outdoors” article
about tuna fishing
inadvertently identified an angler
as Rusty Johnson.
His name is Frosty Johnson.”

The Rhythm of Commercials On The Discovery Health Channel

Will a new nose help Wendy
rediscover her self esteem?

Track 11

The Two Times I Loved You the Most In A Car

It was your idea
to park and watch the elephants
swaying among the trees
like royalty
at that make-believe safari
near Laguna.
I didn’t know anything that big
could be so quiet.

And once, you stopped
on a dark desert road,
to show me the stars
climbing over each other
riotously
like insects;
like an orchestra
thrashing its way
through time itself.
I never saw light that way
again.

Track 12

Convoy

Tonight on the road,
the trucks are majestic;
they sashay like elephants
through the turns,
with jewels on their heads
and tails.

Night Convoy

The trucks are wearing rubies in their hair.
They are like beautiful movie stars,
walking carefully in high heeled shoes,
making whooshing noises in the dark.

Track 13

Africa:
its vowels are so seductive,
I get dizzy.
I’ve no wish to deplete
the wildebeest,
I only wish to eat the wildebeest.
Last year’s skeleton crop
set a new record.
The air is succulent
with lions and mahogany.

Track 14

We were sitting around the melting pot
(which is what I call my hairdresser’s):
a Korean, a Vietnamese, and myself (the American)
discussing our homelands calmly
like three women anywhere,
with no mention of bloodshed or memories.
I told them I’d been reading
about Angor Wat
and the Cambodian jungles
where heartless nature
buried the ancient temples
and we all agreed
that could never happen here
in Santa Monica.

Track 15

At eight months old,
Zoey steps out,
wearing a new tooth
and a rose
in her purple hat.

Track 16

“I don’t own an exquisite way to move around in the night.”

Doug Benezra, 9/18/05

It occurs to me that,
when I die,
they might find the necklace
I dropped behind the bed
and wonder
how long it was there,
and whether I’d missed it.
But will they care
about my favorite color,
my long-range plans,
or my habit of searching myself
for signs of rust?

Track 17

“The town has several antique shops and fruit stands, in addition to restaurants and gas stations.“
…from the Little Rock, CA website.

Little Rock

No, not that one —
This one’s in the desert,
about a two hour drive from here
It’s the color of western movies
(blue skies, brown horses).
There’s even a mirage —
rare water and
big Medjool dates,
a fruit stand in the uncomplaining dust
on the way to Valyermo,
to Saint Andrew’s Abbey,
where the dead monks sleep
in the tight-packed earth
of The Holy Land
off the main road.

Track 18

Henny Youngman doesn’t understand
why camping is not permitted
on the cemetery plot
he just paid for.

Henny Youngman On National Public Radio

Once again, I made it through the pledge drive
without contributing a dime.

Track 19

When I remember
how quiet you used to be,
the helicopter noise
in my head
disappears.

Track 20

This is what I do best:
I phone you
and say Congratulations,
Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday,
Happy New Year,
How’s your sister?
Are you better?
Is it hot enough for you?
Thanks, I love you, too.

Track 21

The people who hate wind
are insulated, inland;
they wear hats to keep them safe
from
flying poems.

Track 22

Just before I killed that bug,
I had the guilty thought
that it might be you, reincarnated,
but I told myself that,
if you did return,
it would be as a much higher life-form,
maybe a hummingbird.

Track 23

Noon Concert

These frail, white widows
who get their hair done weekly
in tight curls,
like little flowers
bend their heads
until the applause
says it’s time
to be brave, again.

Track 24

If the bridge of the nose
is really the seat of wisdom,
yours is The Britannica,
edited by Einstein,
illustrated by Picasso.

Track 25

Definition of Happiness #302

Yellow plates on a black table,
and my new curtains,
dancing a tango
in the open window.

If I were directing this movie,
we’d be walking through clouds
wet as dogs’ breath.
Just a dot of pink, for excitement,
and no music, just ice where the wind was.

Track 26

Since she was from Iceland
and didn’t know any better,
she said, “I miss the green of the east.
It’s so yellow here.
Of course, at home, we don’t have any trees.
Once, in New Jersey, I could see Manhattan
across the river,
as if it was a picture of Manhattan.”

Track 27

Alaska

Once, I got into a taxi
whose driver wore a turban.
We chatted about traffic and travel
and he said he absolutely loved Alaska,
where he’d worked on the pipeline for five years.
He blushed when he told me, “You know,
I’m a Muslim. We’re supposed to pray
five times a day, facing Mecca.
But sometimes, when nobody’s watching,
I face Alaska.”

Track 28

What Henny Youngman
loves most about America
is that anybody can
grow up to be the Pope.

Track 29

We were all sitting around,
talking about what kind of animal
we’d like to be,
and Vince said, “A gorilla,
because they’re the most like us.”

Track 30

Fortune Cookie

You are going to look exactly
like your father —
one of those draped,
semi-ecstatic old Jews
you see framed
on the mantel
in grandmothers’ houses.
Like him,
you will lapse into Yiddish,
throwing your hands up
in mock surrender.
And your lips will move
when you read,
and your children will
imitate you.

Track 31

Henny Youngman’s True Confession
(thanks to M.B.)

I think that, if I were to talk to a rabbi,
he’d listen and all,
but then we’d just end up
with him asking me
to explain the Internet.
I went to a palm reader,
said, “I’m in love with a straight guy
who can’t love me back.”
She said, “Why would you
want to do that?”
I’m, like, exiled,
all the best people are.

Track 32

Sorry To Disappoint You

As the elder in your Chinese house,
I have almost no wisdom to offer:
A few books, a few poems –
I’m not sure there’s anything else,
except that I once shook John Coltrane’s hand,
and sex in the morning is more fun
than cereal.
The rest you already know.

Track 33

Future Past

If I had stayed asleep
I would have missed
the fun of speaking English,
the quiet satisfaction
of appointments kept,
the way dreams change
when you try to describe them.

Track 34

Mark Weber-Type Poem

So my latest rejection comes from Iowa,
about a week before Christmas:
“Thank you for allowing us
to consider your work…”
I picture the writer
at a desk overlooking a corn field.
There’s a droopy plant
on the windowsill
and a volume of Yeats or Keats
nearby.
It has been a tough day,
and here I come,
galloping into that landscape
with my palm trees and deserts,
coyotes and surfers.

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