Black Holes and Revelations

The silent alarms start going off in your head, because it looks like it’s going to be prog rock before you even listen to it. The cover fits squarely into the surrealist landscape prog rock tradition. A cursory look at the tracklisting reveals a closing song entitled “Knights of Cydonia.” The sounds coming out of your speakers during the opening moments of the album do nothing to dissuade you, as they feature a synthesizer figure which bears more than a passing resemblance to the theme music from Dr. Who.

And then something incredible happens. Over all of this prog rock pomp, the band get all pop on us, aping the likes of Prince, Coldplay, Timbaland/Timberlake, and New Order. But its still all firmly bolted to that solid Queen/Rush/Radiohead prog base. I think this is the first unabashed prog-pop album I have ever heard. It sounds like what Marillion have been trying and failing to do for the past 15 years with all their attempts at “mainstream” singles, and it sounds like what I think a lot of people wish Radiohead had done since Oklahoma OK Computer. Whether you agree with that or not I don’t care. All I know is that the anti-prog rock processing chip that was interfaced with my brain a few years ago (I think maybe the Strokes put it there) finally malfunctioned, and at long last, thanks to this album, the loop is broken and I am deprogrammed. I suddenly have this aching desire to listen to prog and quasi-prog. I’m going to get my Marillion albums out. I’m going to get all the Catherine Wheel albums I can get my hands on. I’m going to jam Permanent Waves and Grace Under Pressure. I’m going to give The Mars Volta another chance. I going to listen to everything Pink Floyd ever did. I may even dig out that old vinyl copy of Tarkus I found in the 99 cents bin once. O, most wonderful world of immaculately produced, melodramatically delivered and sometimes pointlessly complex but delicious music: why did I ever turn away from you in 2001? I’m no longer worthy to be called by your name, only let me be your servant.

Poetry needs fanboys and fangirls

So basically the only hits I get on this blog (other than just random hits) come from the keyword search “Joshua Clover.” A month or two ago I wrote a post explaining that I had started reading Clover’s collection The Totality for Kids. Since then I haven’t ever looked at that post, but I have the feeling it was somewhat ignorant, and I am embarrassed when I see traffic from servers such as “The Office of the President at UC Davis,” being specifically drawn to that post, because it’s not all that academic up in here. But really, I am going to advocate that there is nothing wrong with that. Really, I find it a kind of sad commentary that contemporary poetry, even in comparison to other sub-cultural nitches, is so-little-blogged about that my little Joshua Clover entry from a month or two ago is still up there in a noticeable place on the search results. Of course, there is the possibility that, since I share a first name with said Clover and my blog is called Josh’s Froz-T-Freez, at least one of the visitors to my site thought that maybe they were happening onto Joshua Clover’s actual blog (he does have an actual blog by the way, called Jane Dark’s Sugar High. It’s worth checking out.), rather than the semi-destitute blog of a substitute teacher/temp secretary/possible aspiring school librarian from Utah.

At any rate, if you go ahead and google or technorati any contemporary poet’s name, you’re not going to find all that much being written on the blogoteca. Certainly less than they deserve. Maybe a couple of biographical blurbs from some institutional websites, maybe their name included on a reading schedule for some university or organization. That’s about it. You just don’t find that many people casually geeking out about Haryette Mullen or Frank Bidart on their blogs, the way you may find people doing so about Daydream Nation, scrapbooking or almost any other subject. Even Extreme ironing. Don’t we who love poetry love our poetry as much as those that love other things love their things? I think we do. Contemporary poetry needs more fanboys. Poetry needs its own Pitchforkmedia to enthusiastically report on things like when Craig Arnold’s next book is going to hit stores, W.S. Merwin’s public reading itinerary for 2007 and every time Jorie Graham has a poem published in a literary magazine. So I, for one, am going to try to post more about poetry on here, to help fill up the internet with a quantity of nonsense about a new subject area.

And as for Joshua Clover? I got sick of his book really quick. Too many references to things I didn’t know about and had no desire to investigate. So I read Star Dust by Frank Bidart instead. Insofar as you can consider a collection of poetry a pageturner, Star Dust was to me a definite pageturner. Bidart always is, in my opinion. Need to read more Bidart. Right now, I’m re-reading Mullen’s Sleeping With The Dictionary. I read it several years ago in college after one of my professors name-dropped it semi-sneeringly, and I liked it then, but I’m getting a lot more out of it now. Before, I don’t think I ever really got past the “fun with words” veneer to the subtlety and subversiveness beneath. But you don’t have to take my word for it: de-Doot-DOOT!

Yay for poetry!

p.s. It turns out Joshua Clover teaches at UC Davis, so it’s possible he’s googling himself, which seems kind of sad, but then I’d probably do the same thing. So, if it’s you, Hi Josh! No, I won’t accuse him of that. It’s more likely to be one of his students or colleagues. Or I guess the President of UC Davis? I’m starting to feel more and more that I might get into a little bit of trouble with this post. Probably not though.