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“You’re Nobody Until Somebody Kills You.”

By Amber Tamblyn

I just finished another leg of this Bang Ditto tour which has felt like, at least for me, a great success so far.  This past week I did 5 shows from Oakland to City Lights Book Store and ending at Beyond Baroque in Venice last night.  Each show had it’s own unique charm- whether I got to finally meet the crazy guy whose been writing me through Rebelasylum.com for over 3 years, sending me a picture of his cat Amber each time, or whether I was reading poems about my Grandmother’s death under the hairy, naked, cupped scrotum portrait of Allen Ginsberg.  Each place brought about a Mélange of feelings and interesting experiences.  In Oakland, I got to sit and have pre-show coffee with my Mormon cousin who I was closest to growing up, though we have little in common since our adulthood besides lineage and a love for hazelnut.  He is definitely the person I am closest to on that side of my family and he is a kind, generous man.  We got to talk about the things neither of us sees eye to eye on.  Those types of conversations far surpass, for me at least, talking about the things that can be agreed on.  I found his soft spot for Cowboy poetry.  He got me to agree on a few positive George Bush points (by  “a few” I mean half of one half of one).  The New Republic magazine was a nice neutral ground.  Everyone can agree that the extinction of fish by 2043 because of the gaming industry is bad news, am I right America?

After coffee, he walked me to my reading where I read all the poems I could never say to his face.  Afterward, he said simply, “Good job” and we both went our separate ways.

I stayed with Jack Hirschman as I always do whenever I’m in the Bay.  His kitchen window looks out onto Alcatraz.  At night, I’d have dreams about getting my last remaining upper right wisdom tooth pulled while laying in a High Sierran mustard seed field.  The dentists, all down in the dirt with me, drilling away.  All that beauty eclipsed any pain.  When I’d wake up, Jack’s wife Aggie would be ready with a pot of coffee and a French almond bar to dip in it.  I tried to write some poems while there but had a bad falling out with my handwriting over a year ago and haven’t been able to mend it so far.

I drove back down Highway 1 with poet Mindy Nettifee who had performed with me at City Lights for the last Bay Area show.  We decided to stop in Big Sur for the night.  It occurred to me that one can never really appreciate Kerouac’s writing without actually having been to Big Sur.  His writing never resonated with me, until I went.  Even still, I’m not a fan.  I’m just not into another dude’s journey through the 60′s.  Emphasis on dude.  (I’ll save my feelings about the lie known as the “sexual revolution” for a later blog).

Mindy and I stopped at a place in the middle of nowhere to eat what the sign swore was “The Home of the Locally Grown Famous Fried Artichoke Hearts!”  They were indeed, incredible.  With those in our bellies, a glass of Chardonnay and some Bobby McFerrin songs for the ride, the rest of the drive into Big Sur felt like we had drank Peyote tea; a crazy vertigo altering aphrodisiac.

We stayed at a place where they have “Modern Yurts” and young surfer mountain climber types can get away with coming onto you with phrases like, “Hey ladies!  You wanna party like a rock star?!”  As neither Mindy nor I are into the whole date rape thing, we declined the invitation to Chillax in their fucktent*.  Instead, we ate delicious sushi in the main house, drank a bottle of red mud and sat in a Jacuzzi, drunkenly yelling up at the stars for a couple of hours.

“WE GET IT!!  YOU’RE AMAZING!!  OUR INABILITY TO FIND THE RIGHT END-OF-SUMMER-SANDALS AT A REASONABLE PRICE IS FUCKING EMBARRASSING COMPARED TO HAVING TO BE THE ETERNAL REPRESENTITIVES FOR GOD!!!  WE GET IT!”

Or,

“WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME WITH YOUR BEAUTY?!  WHY DOESN’T US WEEKLY TRY TO DRAG YOU DOWN WITH THEIR WHOLE, “STARS… THEIR JUST LIKE US!” COLUMN AND TALK ABOUT HOW IMPERFECT YOU GUYS ARE!!” (Clearly, I yelled this one.)

Cooked to the gills, our organs simmering in a now red wine reduction sauce known as blood, we sang up to the sky “Goodnight, Irene” and crab-walked back to our eco-hut.  The next day we briefly visited the Jade Festival down the road, bought matching Jade earrings, got our faces painted and were once again picked up on by some creepy backwoodsmen with bad manners.  Contrary to popular hippie belief, there actually isn’t a little Burning Man in us all.

We left for Los Angeles, bumping Notorious B.I.G. in the car, eating In-N-Out burgers and planning our sets for that evening’s Beyond Baroque show (Oh, youth).  I performed with my mom which is always extra sweet because we sing together, judge each other’s scarves, threaten to take each other to Judge Judy then sing again.   After the show, my adorably sloshed and most favorite Uncle on my dad’s side approached me.  He’s got a weepy eye that cries no matter what’s going on, which usually makes you feel his sincerity even more, but can sometimes be deceiving, depending on what’s about to come out of his mouth.  He said, “Did your cousin get to hear you read any of these poems you read tonight when you read in Oakland?  Did you read the one about your dad? I wish I could sing the way you do.”

*Thank you Mindy, for the term “Fucktent”.  I shall buy you a star at starnamer.net and give it this name, in your honor.

Comments (27)

  • On October 12, 2009 at 1:37 am Terreson wrote:

    Self-indulgent. Reads like a valley girl cliche from the eighties. Sorry.

    Terreson

  • On October 12, 2009 at 9:11 am Teri G. wrote:

    Dunno, oldster, it sounds like a lot of fun to me.

  • On October 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm michael james wrote:

    Sounds like, as they’d say in Oakland, “Hella fun”.

    Out of these experiences flows poetry.

    This post syncs up with Anslem’s “More Internal Data” via the line: “what are the conditions that make this writer relate to language in this particular way?”

    Whatever poems are to arise out of these trips, even if they do not occur now, are sure to be pretty interesting. The energy is palpable even from here…

  • On October 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm Matt wrote:

    Jeez dude. Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the fucktent.

  • On October 12, 2009 at 5:05 pm Terreson wrote:

    Sorry, but I can’t resist. What’s a f**ktent? You reckon if I started watching TV’s reality shows I’d know?

    Terreson

  • On October 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm hilda doolittle wrote:

    Um, I believe “f**ktent” refers to the aforementioned “Modern Yurts” inhabited by “young surfer mountain climber types” that were part of the described lodgings and persons encountered by the poet. If you are not familiar, I’d suggest you Google the word: yurt.

  • On October 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm hilda doolittle wrote:

    Do I detect a note of jealousy? Perhaps you missed out on having wild adventures as a young poet because you were too busy struggling with your MFA thesis? … tant pis pour vous …

  • On October 12, 2009 at 10:21 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    This brings back so many memories of wonderful adventures from my youth: soaking in the hot springs in New Mexico, passing out and sleeping all night on the steps of Notre Dame de Paris, skinny-dipping in the waves of Malibu, hitchhiking from New York to LA, waiting for a comet in Morocco that never came, the streets of Manhattan, Woodstock.

    Now I just sit around at home and write poetry.

    Go for it, kid! Life is short!

    Joy When Older

    Though still a flush of inner smile,
    remembrance of the future
    not quite like it used to be:
    undesired. Spontaneous change now
    and uninspired by unexpected
    beauty, fun or insight, even love,
    mostly, now, just because
    we saw a butterfly and weren’t blind,
    could hear the distant thunder or a dove,
    felt the wind on our face and all day long
    nobody died.

    Copyright 2008 – HARDWOOD-77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  • On October 13, 2009 at 8:49 am michael james wrote:

    Considering most of the words Shakespeare used did not exist before he used it, I’d assume there were Terreson’s standing around asking to the clouds, “What are these words!” And being very condescending while doing it…

    How times rarely change it seems…

  • On October 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm Terreson wrote:

    Michael James says: “Considering most of the words Shakespeare used did not exist before he used it, I’d assume there were Terreson’s standing around asking to the clouds, “What are these words!” And being very condescending while doing it…

    How times rarely change it seems…”

    I remember saying to Willy once: The act of naming cheats us into thinking we know the thing. The act of poetry gets us behind the name, inside the thing.

    Turns out my timing was fortuitous. What with the fleas jumping off dead rats and jumping back on people and all the theaters got shut down. Without an audience Willy was finally forced to turn to poetry.

    (this, Mr. James, is condescending)

    Terreson

  • On October 14, 2009 at 8:44 am anne lemon wrote:

    “… most of the words Shakespeare used did not exist before he used it….”

    Yeah… about 63%, right?

  • On October 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm michael james wrote:

    [Anne}

    The internet is a difficult medium for discerning sarcasm... you being sarcastic?

    [Terreson]

    What I am saying is this: language is a malleable thing. It is supposed to shift, new words created, new meanings given. Fucktent is hilarious.

    All of us know that we create words constantly. Or, to a lesser degree, such as with fucktent, mash words together to change the meaning of the isolated words.

    I can understand if f you see k is vulgar to you, or a word of “lower” language, and therefore you think it is just the pits… but poets are not limited to a specific set of words that we must use. And to close ourselves off to specific words is to shorten our available vocabularly — those exact words we need if we wish to cause an effect which affects.

    Perhaps I’m off base. Perhaps I am just frustrated that I am unable to sit down with you and discuss these things where I can hear your intonations and watch your body language to fully comprehend where it is you are coming from… but such is the consequence of riding these interwaves…

    *correction: “… most of the words Shakespeare used did not exist before he used it….”

    -it- should be -them-

  • On October 14, 2009 at 5:18 pm Rachel wrote:

    “What I am saying is this: language is a malleable thing. It is supposed to shift, new words created, new meanings given. Fucktent is hilarious.”

    Here ya go:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fucktent

  • On October 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm William Kammann wrote:

    Fucktent not defined yet? Plain as the nose on your face: Harriet the Blog: Fucktent of the self absorbed.

    As the urban dictionary has it:
    self-absorbed
    A person who cannot stop thinking about themselves, and constantly reminds all others around them of their good and bad qualities.

    (Jane) “If you looked in the dictionary, your picture would be filed under ‘self-absorbed.’”
    (Sam) Gasp “My picture is in the dictionary?!”

  • On October 14, 2009 at 6:40 pm Rachel wrote:

    Here ya go=Go for it. Maybe Amber or her friend, Mindy, should do it.

  • On October 14, 2009 at 8:07 pm Terreson wrote:

    Michael James says: “I can understand if f you see k is vulgar to you, or a word of “lower” language, and therefore you think it is just the pits… but poets are not limited to a specific set of words that we must use. And to close ourselves off to specific words is to shorten our available vocabularly — those exact words we need if we wish to cause an effect which affects.

    Perhaps I’m off base. Perhaps I am just frustrated that I am unable to sit down with you and discuss these things where I can hear your intonations and watch your body language to fully comprehend where it is you are coming from… but such is the consequence of riding these interwaves…”

    Fair enough, Michael James. I’ll respond.

    First paragraph. I have no difficulty with any word in the language. I just might be the last standing student of the Lenny Bruce school of linguistics. I’ve always felt he came closer to the case of language than the featherhead likes of Saussure, Chomsky, and, yes, the Lang-Po folk. He, at least, got that every word is morally vectored by its context. “Baby, please f**k me,” is a phrase that pulls me in. “F**k you Cracker,” is a phrase that signals to my alert pheromones it is a case of either fight or flight. Context is everything. As for the term f**ktent I have no notion of what it means in current, urban parlance. I can tell you what it brings to mind. It brings to mind that rape, historically, has been a political tool in the subordination of peoples. And continues to be so among nation-states. In Africa especially. But in the Americas, Russia, and China too. On the other hand, originally a whore was called an Hour. She would have been a priestess in ancient Sumeria whose office was devoted to bringing men into the sacred precincts of Astarte in order to fructify Her by their moisture. When it comes to language context is everything.

    Second paragraph. If you want conversation google Terreson, find a small board called Delectable Mnts. This present environment is too strife-filled for me to get really conversational.

    One last note and addressed to Amber Tamblyn. Ms Tamblyn, after your first post I had to be told you are an actor. So what have you got in the poetry way? It is a different sort of gig.

    Terreson

  • On October 15, 2009 at 5:47 am Richard Epstein wrote:

    “Perhaps I am just frustrated that I am unable to sit down with you and discuss these things where I can hear your intonations and watch your body language to fully comprehend where it is you are coming from…”

    If you feel this way often, it may be that pen on paper (or fingers on keyboard) is not the perfect medium for you.

    RHE

    P.S. I am coming from Denver. Originally I was coming from St Louis.

  • On October 15, 2009 at 10:56 am Amber T wrote:

    ” “Perhaps I am just frustrated that I am unable to sit down with you and discuss these things where I can hear your intonations and watch your body language to fully comprehend where it is you are coming from…”

    If you feel this way often, it may be that pen on paper (or fingers on keyboard) is not the perfect medium for you.”

    Ditto, Richard Epstein.

  • On October 16, 2009 at 9:43 am Michael James wrote:

    via New York — Sound of the City, an interview with Michael Robbins as conducted by Zach Baron:

    Baron: I remember very vividly when Junot Diaz had a short story in the ’90s in the New Yorker, and the last line was “And I don’t know where the fuck she went.” Reading your poem felt that way: you had kind of cracked a wall of reference and vocabulary.

    Robbins: Well I think that’s important, you know? I remember reading when I was younger, when I was into James Wright real heavily, I remember reading his complaints about Bob Dylan and just how awful rock music was. And I think one difference between poets of my generation and Paul Muldoon’s generation, from older generations, is that there’s not even a question of whether popular culture is low culture. Whether we should be listening to Brahms and reading Rilke. You know, we can listen to Brahms and read Rilke and talk about–Paul’s got poems about Bob Dylan, he’s got poems about the Beatles, U2, the Stones. And it’s just a much more–a much more generous responsiveness to the larger culture, I guess.

  • On October 16, 2009 at 5:39 pm Terreson wrote:

    “And it’s just a much more–a much more generous responsiveness to the larger culture, I guess.”

    I am not sure I can subscribe to the notion, Michael James. Actually I know I can’t. It makes for a false dichotomy.

    Let’s see. Sandburg’s Chicago poem, arguably his best, was made in praise of low culture. Both Cummings and L. Hughes were devotees of low brow Jazz. (Didn’t Hughes pioneer the practice of reciting poetry to jazz? What was rap before rap was rap?) The English novelist, Christopher Isherwood, wrote the story that would be the basis for the broadway musical “Caberet.” Anne Sexton formed a R n R band she called “Our Kind.” Then there is the case of Gershwin writing an opera that drew on low culture. And what about the novelist, Sherwood Anderson, advising another novelist, Faulkner, to return to his deep South home and write about what he knew best, which was mostly Southern white trash. Almost forgot Erskine Caldwell’s novel, “Tobacco Road,” dramatized on Broadway in 1933, running for 3,182 performances, and whose title became a symbol of “slovenly poverty and depravity.” Then there is my favorite of all cases. Vachel Lindsay performing his poetry in the ’20s, giving his metrical beat percussive effect by slapping his hands against his chest while reciting his Congo poem. Read Ginsberg’s love poem to Lindsay to get Lindsay best. (And I guess you could call this slam poetry before there was slam poetry.)

    A part of me wants to say what of Brahms or Rilke is to be found in these low life, pop culture drawing poets of earlier generations. But another part of me says: everything f**king thing.

    Did I forget to say that Bob Dylan took his public name from a poet addicted to grade B movies and comic books?

    Terreson

  • On October 16, 2009 at 7:58 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    .

    Timidly watch, even frightened follow the
    occurring sought success your fluttered strives,
    get richer & much burdened. Still I watch,
    ashamed, for more even want you more.
    Your houses grow larger with roofs and yards
    & more successfully; & wealth & bigger do
    you grow second san paku lower darkened
    eyes bloodied with stress ever higher
    crawl & grow & more & bloated ask:
    “How can you live in this poverty?”
    “Well, shit,” says I, “I’m happy…you?”

    .
    Copyright 2006 – Specimens-Selected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  • On October 16, 2009 at 9:24 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Without intention to be a total nuisance, but here is the original (better) version of the poem…pre-published and pre-edited:

    Timidly watch, even frightened follow the
    occurring sought success your fluttered strives,
    get richer & much burdened. Still I watch,
    ashamed, for more even want you more
    while I seek less and less.

    Your houses grow larger with roofs and yards
    & more successfully; & wealth & bigger do
    you grow second san paku, lower darkened
    eyes bloodied with stress and ever higher
    crawl & grow & more & bloated ask:

    “How can you live in such poverty?”
    “Well, shit,” says I, “I’m happy … you?”

    .

  • On October 17, 2009 at 10:48 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Pursuant to the subject of ‘low culture’:

    .
    The Slander of Time

    The slander of time lays waste to lives;
    that wicked twitch of fate and fact, beyond
    the helpless reach of tortured effort, bends
    and breaks the back, the spirit, the good
    inside and turns a spitting, angry, beaten
    man back from destiny, lays waste to lives.

    Age leaves us on the battered, filthy shore
    of waiting dreams and good intentions.

    Keep your shadowed, paunchy money spenders,
    their cold and selfish hearts. Give me any
    broken man who set out proud and honest
    with strong ideals and kindness for a banner,
    but stepped on, denied by fortune, laughed at,
    failed by a world which so badly needs his love.
    Give me him to talk to, penniless, lost, defeated,
    to come and have a drink with me in the wind
    and cold of Winter by the wharves and watch
    the breaking ice and gulls beg, and ponder
    the manner in which we’re cheated;
    why the good are so defied by God
    and the shiftless are so comfortable.

    The framing of circumstance which twists
    plans like rubber, lives like melted
    glue. The kangaroo court of life which
    convicts though not guilty. The slander
    of time lays waste to lives.

    .
    Copyright 2005 – Evolving-Poems 1965-2005, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  • On October 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    I wrote this one when I was seventeen:

    Me, I’d rather be a beggar
    with life in his eyes
    than an overfed cadaver
    who when laughing really cries.

    I’d rather be a traveling man
    whose only wealth blue skies,
    than a fat multi-millionaire
    who when living really dies.

    .
    Copyright 2005 – Evolving-Poems 1965-2005, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  • On October 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Free poetry! Ain’t it great?

    You can’t even get free coffee anymore. Count your blessings.

  • On October 18, 2009 at 12:39 am Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Sorry, everybody.

    I’m going back into the woods, now.

  • On October 18, 2009 at 8:45 am Sarah Green wrote:

    Amber, I actually WROTE a full “Stars…they’re just like us” poem about the literal stars a few years ago. I love that we share this very silly — yet genius? :) — idea. I wish I could send it to you, but I’m sure you can imagine it…. Take care- from another 20-somethin’ poet.


Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, October 11th, 2009 by Amber Tamblyn.