The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Author: DC (Page 2 of 965)

The Emitt Rhodes Story *

* (restored/texts culled from the sites Perfect Sound Forever, Emitt Rhodes Music, & various interviews)


‘I’ve had all the good stuff, and I’ve have all the bad stuff. Sometimes I’m happy to be alive, and sometimes I couldn’t care less.’ — Emitt Rhodes, 2004

‘Most cult heroes are cult heroes by design. Either his or her music is too esoteric to be accepted by the mainstream, or his or her personality too erratic or weird for most people to understand or tolerate. In either respect, the artist usually has sought out selective rather than widespread acceptance on purpose. The cult audience, in turn, is grateful for the opportunity to feel superior to all the stupid, smelly legions of idiots who make up the majority of the music-buying public.

‘Then there’s people like Emitt Rhodes, who’s a cult hero for no good reason whatsoever. Far from obscure, his music is loaded with melodic charisma, that essential ingredient that makes you want to hear some records over and over again. Often called a musical dead ringer for Sir Paul McCartney, Rhodes is really the Macca we all wish Macca would be: an incredible pop tunesmith without all the gooey sentimentality and overflowing cuteness. The crown jewel of Rhodes’ small body of work is his self-titled debut album. Released to critical acclaim and modest commercial success in 1970, Emitt Rhodes has since taken on mythical status among power-pop and ’70’s rock aficionados. The album is a tour-de-force: just like McCartney on his first solo album, Rhodes played all the instruments and sang all the vocals himself. But even more impressive are the songs. Only 20 years old at the time, Rhodes had already absorbed the best of ’60s rock and matched it. Lennon/ McCartney certainly weren’t writing songs the caliber of “Really Wanted You” or “With My Face on the Floor” at that age. This precocious, good-looking kid should have been unstoppable.



Emitt Rhodes: ‘For me it’s one-four-five. It’s Pythagorean Theorum. For me it’s mathematics. I love Pythagoras. Everybody else in rock and roll loves Pythagoras, too, even if they don’t know it. It’s Pythagoras. You split the string in half and you get an octave. You split it into thirds and you get a third. I’m just telling you that Pythagoras was a wonderful guy. He lived a long time ago, nobody knows him and nobody cares. He gave us do re mi fa sol la ti do. Without him… somebody else would have had to do it. I love math. I love science. I love that stuff.’

‘But as it turned out, Rhodes was pretty much dead in the water careerwise at 24. A contract dispute raised the ire of his record company, and instead of nurturing a talented and potentially lucrative artist, they ended up giving Rhodes a royal rogering. Chewed up and spat out, Rhodes was burned out before his career really got started. While he’s flattered people still care about the music he made 30 years ago, being a self-described “has-been wannabe” doesn’t quite sit well with him.



‘Born and raised in Hawthorne, California, a bastion of power-pop thanks to homeboys The Beach Boys, Rhodes started with rock ‘n’ roll in his early teens, playing drums in a band called The Emerals. “My father was really nice,” Rhodes said. “He let me use the garage. Having a garage was, for a drummer, a really popular thing. Every band needs a place to rehearse and I had one.” The Emerals played the local circuit, including Hawthorne High School dances. It was at one of these dances that Rhodes had a run-in with one of his hometown’s soon-to-be princes. “Dennis Wilson broke my drum pedal,” Rhodes recalled over 35 years later. “He never paid for it or got me a new one. He just broke it and left.” The Emerals soon evolved into The Palace Guard, who had a minor hit single called “Falling Sugar.”



Emitt Rhodes: ‘We had the name first. I had green drums. Everybody was looking for any reason to pick a name. I had green drums so they called us the Emerals, and they spelled it wrong. It was seven of us and three of them were brothers. Don Beaudoin was the leader of the band. It was child abuse. D… B… was the same age as I was and he was abused by G… B… who ran the Hullabaloo and who was the head of Orange Empire Records. He fucked him. I was fourteen at the time and I knew, so I would imagine his brothers knew also and that his parents knew too. He was like the sacrificial goat so [we] could get that big plum job at the Hullabaloo. The Palace Guard didn’t write our music. I didn’t write it either. I wrote songs that the Merry Go Round did later, that were hits to some degree, but I didn’t write “Falling Sugar”. I have no idea who wrote that, but it wasn’t anybody in the band. That was all stuff that was put together by this guy G… B… who liked to fuck D… B… in the butt.’



‘Emitt was still the drummer, but he was looking to step out from behind the drum kit and into the spotlight. In 1966, he left The Palace Guard and formed another group with a long name (remember this is mid-60s L.A.) called The Merry-Go-Round. Instead of keeping time, Rhodes was now the guitar-playing frontman and songwriter. Retaining guitarist Gary Kato from his old band, the 16-year-old Rhodes recruited drummer Joel Larson and bassist Bill Rhinehart to complete the line-up.


The Merry-Go-Round


‘The new group quickly recorded what would be its biggest hit, a Rubber Soul soundalike called “Live.” Based on a demo of “Live” and another song called “Clown’s No Good,” A&M; Records signed The Merry-Go-Round and released “Live” as a single. After the song shot to number one in L.A., A&M; slapped together a bunch of demos and called it M-G-R’s debut album. Called simply The Merry-Go-Round, the album holds up surprisingly well considering the circumstances. “Gonna Fight the War” and “Low Down” are tough guitar songs that rival the best Buffalo Springfield, while more melancholy tracks like “You’re A Very Lovely Woman” and “On Your Way Out” out-Big Star Big Star more than three years before #1 Record. Essentially a garage “boy band,” The M-G-R nevertheless had a sophisticated sound, due in large part to Rhodes’ rapidly developing songwriting ability.



Emitt Rhodes: ‘My problem is “Live.” I’ve had friends tell me this; I don’t really know. The Bangles did it and they put it on compilations and I should have got paid for it, but my publisher sent me a statement saying I didn’t, that he took the rights to the song back or something. I look at the contracts I signed when I was a sixteen year old, it’s child abuse. My mother and my father signed with me. I just wanted to make music. My mother and father didn’t know any better so they just signed with me and I have contracts that say “for perpetuity.” “We own these songs for perpetuity.” Forever, and I’m going “oh, okay.” I was only fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years old and I didn’t understand.’

‘But by 1969 Rhodes, now 19, grew tired of the inevitable in-fighting that comes with being in a group. He wanted to make music for himself and by himself, so he set up a makeshift studio in a shed behind his parents house. “I bought myself a machine. It was an old four track machine, an Ampex,” Rhodes recalled. “It had huge knobs and giant meters. It was the size of a washing machine. It looked like something out of Flash Gordon.” With his brand new four-track, Rhodes began bashing out songs for his first solo album. His desire to record everything himself was practical because he didn’t have any money to hire musicians. Alone in the studio he was open to experimentation. “I was a drummer and I had a piano and I had a guitar and I just started there. The next thing I knew I wanted to play the violin and the sax and the flute and the harmonica and the banjo and everything. I’m a tinkerer. I would buy an instrument and an instructional book, and just play scales for an hour a day until I felt comfortable doing it. And then I would write parts. I was more of an arranger I guess.”



‘With only three mics, two mixers and his four track crowded in the 20 foot long by 10 foot wide shed, recording was a time consuming process. “I had the machine on one end and the drums on the other, and I’d press the record button and run over and sit down and put the phones on. It was pretty rudimentary.” As Rhodes assembled the record, he had no idea he was creating his masterpiece. “I was just doing the best I could do, writing what I thought was important at the time.”


Emitt Rhodes “Really Wanted You” 1971 Promo Film


‘In the middle of working on the album, Rhodes approached ABC/Dunhill with some instrumental tracks. The label signed him and paid Rhodes the princely sum of $5,000. When Emitt Rhodes was released in 1970, it charted at #29 and the single, “Fresh as a Daisy,” broke the top 60. Rhodes was hailed by critics as an artist to watch, and with the singer-songwriter movement just underway, his career appear to be on the fast track.

‘Maybe too fast. ABC/Dunhill wanted more product from their hot new star, and they wanted it soon. His contract stipulated that he release two albums every year, a feat The Beatles regularly pulled off in their heyday. But unlike the Fab Four, Rhodes was only one person doing everything himself. It was hard work and a lot of pressure for a guy still living with his parents, but ABC/Dunhill was less than understanding. As work on his second album Mirror dragged on for nearly a year, the record company suspended his contract and sued him. “I got in trouble,” Rhodes said. “I was being sued for more money than I ever made. It didn’t make any sense to me.”

‘Released in 1971, Mirror bombed, going to only #182 on the charts. While the record boasts some great songs, Rhodes had clearly lost his momentum. “I worked really hard, did the best I could, and I got in trouble. I mean, it’s like, what am I doing? What am I doing this for?” he said. “You have to get your dog biscuit after you rollover or sit up. Otherwise you don’t want to do it again … I burned out.” Another album, Farewell to Paradise, followed and did even worse on the charts than Mirror. At 24, eight years after he formed The Merry-Go-Round, Rhodes stopped recording. “There were lawsuits and lawyers and I wasn’t having any fun anymore. That’s it. Simple as that. I worked really hard and there was no reward,” he said.



Emitt Rhodes:I believe in death. It works. It goes black and then you’re not there anymore. I’ve been there a few times. I’m against death. I believe in life. I have my own religion. I’m an atheist. I believe in life being the most important thing there is. Life is it. I believe everybody will agree that life’s important. I’ve been dead so I know what death is. You go black. Kind of whiteout really. Your brain works up until the time that it doesn’t work anymore. My afterwards is different than yours might be. My afterwards is I don’t have blood sugar. My brain dies. It’s like I can’t think anymore because I don’t have enough blood sugar for my brain to function anymore. The last experience I had is that I was lying in the middle of my room trying not to drown on my own saliva because I couldn’t swallow because swallowing means that muscle has blood sugar to do it. I was beyond that.’



‘Other than a brief moment in 1980 when he had a record deal with Elektra/Asylum that was eventually terminated, Emitt has stuck to recording demos in his home studio that will probably never the see the light of day. “It’s just songs,” he said of his demos. “It’s melodic. I like melodies that go from one place to the next. I like chords. I can’t say what (a new album) would sound like because I haven’t heard it yet.”

‘There was some excitement in the past year among Rhodes’ fans when the 50-year-old signed to the small indie label Rocktopia. Rhodes even started pre-production work on what would have been his first record in over 25 years, sorting through his collection of hundreds of demos, and he was planning on hiring musicians instead of doing everything himself. “I wanted to hire people to come play with me and just play producer and songwriter,” he said. “I’m an old guy now. I get sleepy at night. I have friends that play so much better than me (and) I just love listening sometimes.”



‘But his deal with Rocktopia ultimately fell through when the label ran out of money. Without an advance to finance a new record, Rhodes can’t move forward. “I have the desire to do it but I don’t know if I have the time,” he said. “It’s on hold at the moment, unless I find a way to support myself without working. I could win the lotto I guess.”

Emitt Rhodes: ‘I met this guy, an enthusiast. Wasn’t a great songwriter. But I liked him, so I thought, well, I’ll help him out and help him write a song. So he gave me this lyric, and I went over the lyric, and there was only one phrase in the whole thing that appealed to me, and that was, ‘Oh Lord, what’s a guy gonna do? What’s a guy supposed to do?’ or something like that. And it was about him waiting for his girlfriend who was upstairs talking on the phone to another girlfriend, and he was getting tired and didn’t want to go out, and anyway, it was complete nonsense, and I changed it to, ‘Oh Lord, what’s a man to do?’ and put it in minor key and sent him home and said, ‘Write some lyrics’. And he came back, and he had written, ‘How long I’ve anguished and set aside what little’s left of my foolish pride’, and I thought that that was so good that I wrote more to it. It all made sense to me; I saw the focus of it. So I kind of kept steering the lyric in that manner, and he would write more, and I’d send him home and he’d write more. Then every once in a while I’d throw a line in there, and then I used [with mock grandiosity] my superior ability in writing chord progressions to write what I thought was a real beautiful chord progression in its own right, even without a melody. And then I put a melody to it, so then I made it my song, you know. And then we went on from there and we did three songs, ’cause going to do just one didn’t seem right. He had this friend who had a studio in an office building, so we went into that studio and started recording. And we were like the first people in it, and I had friends come by and play, and stuff like that. And it was good for his studio, I thought. But this guy was just digging a hole for me to walk into. He handed me a bill. Some people are like, you know, they trip you, and then they call you clumsy.’



‘Today Rhodes still lives in the neighborhood where he grew up, in a house across the street from his parents’ old house. “I’m just trying to stay alive,” he said. “I have a small studio and I rent studio time … I’m not a rich person. I make a living.”— collaged

“I was real fortunate. I had two parents who allowed me to make noise as long as it was outside in the garage. I made those records when I had no bills. I didn’t have a house at the time. I had very little bills and very little worries at the time. Music was pretty much the focus of my life, just making noise. Now it’s making noise to pay the landlord.”


Trailer: ‘THE ONE MAN BEATLES: The Emitt Rhodes Story’

Emitt Rhodes playing piano in ‘One Man Beatles’



Emitt Rhodes Music
Official Emitt Rhodes @ Facebook
Emitt Rhodes Discography
Emitt Rhodes interviewed @ L.A. Record
Emitt Rhodes interviewed @ The LA Beat
Emitt Rhodes interviewed @ SCRAM Magazine
‘One Man Beatles’ @ imdB
‘The Emitt Rhodes Collection’
‘Emitt Rhodes Recorded At Home’ @ Tape Op


RIP July 19, 2020



p.s. RIP Bernadette Mayer ** Dominik, Hi!!! My pleasure on the books front, natch. My brain cells wither in sympathy. Briefly, thank goodness. Oh, I was thinking about pomegranates, I don’t know why, and how delicious their seeds are and how hard it is to crack them open, and how that makes the seeds sort of like jewels in a safe or something, and I got excited, and, yeah, I’m weird, ha ha. If you actually did find that poor globe, that’s very sad. I did quite like the ‘in front of a liquor store’ detail though. Hugs. Love telling a joke that everyone who hears it agrees is the perfect joke, G. ** David Ehrenstein, Lucky him! ** Sypha, I’ve never read Grant Morrison. I know, I know. A friend whose opinion I trust spent about twenty minutes the other day telling me how completely terrible that new Cormac McCarthy novel is, and it seems hard to believe. ** _Black_Acrylic, The one time I visited George Eliot’s grave it was festooned with admirers’ gifts. Lots of cigars for some reason. Ooh, a red splash. Like a rolling horror movie prop? ** tomk, Hi, Tom! ‘Summer’ is pretty great and kind of devastating. You good? What’s up? ** Jamie, Enthusiastic Wave, Jamie. No, not consciously. I’ve been to Ostend. When I was living in Amsterdam. There was an art exhibition there, as I recall. Outdoor sculptures. On a beach? Nice, man. Obviously I’m thrilled you’re putting your life in danger of excess eeriness on behalf of your novella. No, I didn’t see art. I’m Mr. Plans Thwarted Dude of late. But it was okay. Did some productive Zoom interviews for film crew positions and walked around and went ‘brr’ frequently. Safe trip to Ostend, by train? How eerie is it? Abridged love, Dennis. ** Dom Lyne, I tend to think weird-positive is the ultimate positive. Life being just plain old weird at the best of times. Ooh, hidden messages, much less to yourself. That’s very exciting to think about. Dom and Dahmer sitting in a tree k-i-s … Ha ha. We’re going to shoot the film around the LA area. Most probably in the desert-ish part, Joshua Tree and that sort of hood. It’s in English. Minnie is a really good name. I can’t explain why though. Love from the city that thinks it invented love, Dennis. ** Ian, I really liked the new Lambert. Well, duh, I guess. Reading is kind of the ultimate antidepressant, I think? No that you’re depressed, of course. xo. ** Ahh! Licks James, Wow, that was a pretty paragraph, thank you! ** Autumn Glint, Yours was too, just a little edgier. Consider my wad yours. ** Brian, Hi. I used to really like Blanchett in films, up until just after the ‘LotR’ period. I only like Swinton in Jarman’s films where she wasn’t ‘acting’. Yes, the urge to adapt Berlin is just dumb. It seems safe to assume that whoever wants to adapt that book doesn’t really get its greatness. Needing and struggling to get employment is a big stress eruptor for sure. Everything to do with needing and not having money is the absolute pits of being alive. Is there some official way to kill off an eating disorder? I guess there must be. That sounds nerve wracking. Dealing with and worrying about that, I mean. There’s nothing banal about the things that are problematizing your life, man. In fact it could probably be argued that having no problems is banal, I reckon. Right, Thanksgiving, I keep forgetting. It’s tomorrow, right? Big giant meal across the table from the most familiar faces of all. Enjoy that (if I’m right). My week should be okay: some events, some meetings, some work (on Gisele’s new theater piece), some … something. ** Tea, Ah, shit, sorry. I have yet to know whether I enjoy Mai-chan, but it sounds likely. I get pretty obsessive about my characters too, I guess just in a different way, but I always think of them as figurative shards of some idea I’m having, I guess. I think it’s about figuring out the dividing line between being hell bent and patient at the same time. Which I think is possible. If I am diagnosing my own writer state correctly. Hm. I hope your today is notably and markedly better. ** Right. I don’t often indulge my love of pop rock on this blog, but I am doing that today by restoring this post about the ‘cultishly’ revered pop rock auteur Emitt Rhodes, who sadly died between the time I originally made this post and now. Do find out if his stuff’s seductive powers work on you. See you tomorrow.

5 books I read recently & loved: Constance Debré Love Me Tender, Kevin Lambert Querelle of Roberval, Johannes Göransson Summer, Caitlin Forst, Editor NDA: An Autofiction Anthology, Ron Padgett Dot

‘This brief, intense novel opens with a meditation that appears at first offhand—“I don’t see why the love between a mother and son should be any different from other kinds of love,” the narrator muses—and perhaps willfully cold. But it reveals itself, as the narrative unfolds, to be a character grappling with grief. Near the novel’s end, the narrator relays a moment of revelation: “It was yesterday, while I was riding my bike, that. . . . I realized that the sadness was over. . . . I realized I’d finished grieving for my son.” Whether this is true or a momentary belief, it recasts the narrator’s opening assertion as defensive, fraught, the statement of a character striving mightily for authenticity and honesty, questioning and rending—pace Camus—the veil of social norms, acknowledging the Absurd, in hopes of finding some more solid, albeit subjective, truth. “For me,” she says, “homosexuality isn’t about who I’m fucking, it’s about who I become. With men there was always a limit, now I have all the space I want, I feel like I can do anything.” And yet that space and freedom come at considerable cost.

‘The urgency of Debré’s account—in which she moves from one precarious living situation to another and records her various sexual encounters with insistent detachment—arises both from the philosophical sincerity of her endeavor, and from justified bafflement that what seem straightforward steps toward a more truthful existence should be so aggressively punished by society. While at the novel’s outset her ex-husband Laurent still hopes for reconciliation, he quickly becomes vindictive, impeding her access to their eight-year-old son. “Since November, Paul’s been staying with his dad, I don’t see him anymore,” the narrator records. “Every time I propose something, Laurent either refuses or doesn’t reply. . . . I don’t threaten to take him to court, I don’t want to make things worse.”

‘Debré’s book portrays the high cost of principled choices: even now, in Paris, in a condition of relative privilege, endeavoring to live honestly and openly results in profound suffering. Late in The Oppermanns, after one of the central characters has paid for his principles with his life, others discuss striking the right balance between idealism and pragmatism. “Common sense. Nothing else counts,” says one. “And Socrates? Seneca? Christ?” asks Gustav. “Were their deaths useless?” To which the younger man, educated in the brutal Nazi reality, replies, “It is wiser to live for an idea than to die for it. . . . It is mere folly to put on the airs of a martyr nowadays.” Debré might beg to differ; and we should celebrate the fact that, despite her hardships, she still has the luxury to do so.’ — Claire Messud, Harper’s


Constance Debré @ Wikipedia
“Love Me Tender” de Constance Debré bientôt adapté au cinéma
‘Love Me Tender’ @ goodreads
Podcast: Kate Wolf speaks with Constance Debré
Buy ‘Love Me Tender’


Constance Debré Love Me Tender

‘The daughter of an illustrious French family whose members include a former Prime Minister, a model, and a journalist, Constance Debré abandoned her marriage and legal career in 2015 to write full-time and begin a relationship with a woman. Her transformation from affluent career woman to broke single lesbian was chronicled in her 2018 novel Play boy, praised by Virginie Despentes for its writing that is at once “flippant and consumed by anxiety.”

‘In Love Me Tender, Debré goes on to further describe the consequences of that life-changing decision. Her husband, Laurent, seeks to permanently separate her from their eight-year old child. Vilified in divorce court by her ex, she loses custody of her son and is allowed to see him only once every two weeks for a supervised hour. Deprived of her child, Debré gives up her two-bedroom apartment and bounces between borrowed apartments, hotel rooms, and a studio the size of a cell. She involves herself in brief affairs with numerous women who vary in age, body type, language, and lifestyle. But the closer she gets to them, the more distant she feels. Apart from cigarettes and sex, her life is completely ascetic: a regime of intense reading and writing, interrupted only by sleep and athletic swimming. She shuns any place where she might observe children, avoiding playgrounds and parks “as if they were cluster bombs ready to explode, riddling her body with pieces of shrapnel.”

‘Writing graphically about sex, rupture, longing, and despair in the first person, Debré’s work is often compared with the punk-era writings of Guillaume Dustan and Herve Guibert, whose work she has championed. As she says of Guibert: “I love him because he says I and he’s a pornographer. That seems to be essential when you write. Otherwise you don’t say anything.” But in Love Me Tender, Debré speaks courageously of love in its many forms, reframing what it means to be a mother beyond conventional expectations.’ — Semiotext(e)



Constance Debré vous présente son ouvrage “Love me tender”

Interview Constance Debré




‘Kevin Lambert’s Querelle of Roberval is a vibrant storm of gossip and myth. Lambert has plucked his protagonist from Jean Genet’s 1947 Querelle de Brest and set him down in small-town Quebec as a labourer at a sawmill whose workers are attempting to unionize. Leaving Montreal after growing alienated from his friends with loftier and more boring ambitions than his – condominiums, scholarships – Querelle moves to Roberval and becomes the witting object of desire of the town’s men and boys – both the young queer men who flock to his apartment for sex at night, and their homophobic fathers – while a strike at the sawmill becomes increasingly contentious.

‘Lambert explores sex, labour, and violence in a hybridization of contemporary realism and Greek mythology, reminiscent of Anne Carson’s The Autobiography of Red, but more perverse. Familiar scenes of small-town banality and a seemingly recognizable labour struggle unravel into tableaux of fantastical violence and blood sacrifice. The narrative spills out and gains momentum in the same way that a rumour might rip through a small town on the shore of Lac Saint-Jean, where the novel takes place.

Querelle of Roberval was originally published in French (winning Lambert the 2019 Sade prize in France), and translated to English by Donald Winkler. The language of the novel is rich and evocative, a compliment to both Lambert’s and Winkler’s instincts for poetry. Lambert displays his linguistic skill equally in images of the erotic and the abject, in a prose that entices and disturbs at the same time. This effect is most compelling in his descriptions of physicality and embodiment, in which he maps the contours of sex and violence and how the two bleed into one another. His sinister mythology is peppered with reminders of our current context that lace the heavy poetic language with a welcome sense of humour. When Querelle seduces young men in a desperate attempt to “seek refuge in his own abjection”, he finds them on Grindr, and when one character is impaled on a spit and roasted over an open flame to be devoured by the others, he is slathered in Costco barbecue sauce, thinned with wine and water.’ — Alexandra Trnka


Kevin Lambert @ Wikipedia
Kevin Lambert @ goodreads
Blood-Soaked Tableau
Toward a More Perfect Union?
Buy ‘Querelle of Roberval’


Kevin Lambert Querelle of Roberval

‘Homage to Jean Genet’s antihero and a brilliant reimagining of the ancient form of tragedy, Querelle of Roberval, winner of the Marquis de Sade Prize, is a wildly imaginative story of justice, passion, and murderous revenge.

‘As a millworkers’ strike in the northern lumber town of Roberval drags on, tensions start to escalate between the workers—but when a lockout renews their solidarity, they rally around the mysterious and magnetic influence of Querelle, a dashing newcomer from Montreal. Strapping and unabashed, likeable but callow, by day he walks the picket lines and at night moves like a mythic Adonis through the ranks of young men who flock to his apartment for sex. As the dispute hardens and both sides refuse to yield, sand stalls the gears of the economic machine and the tinderbox of class struggle and entitlement ignites in a firestorm of passions carnal and violent. Trenchant social drama, a tribute to Jean Genet’s antihero, and a brilliant reimagining of the ancient form of tragedy, Querelle of Roberval, winner of France’s Marquis de Sade Prize, is a wildly imaginative story of justice, passion, and murderous revenge.’ — Biblioasis


Querelle. The name is circulating, is making the rounds, is being passed back and forth under one’s breath in an aisle at Rossy, is being barked out audibly between two hot chickens at the Ski-Doo rest stop, no one’s ever seen the boy but the picture painted is that of a character out of one of those sadistic, frightening stories our cousins tell in summer under the tent.

Querelle is Roberval’s bogeyman, people place bets on his age — sometimes 25, sometimes 50— on the colour of his skin and hair, brown, green, black, on the shape of his mouth and eyes. Like that evil creature, he spirits away adolescents, corrupts them, carves them up, devours them; like the fabled monster, no one knows where he comes from: from Montreal, from the Mafia or from Saudi Arabia, but one thing is certain: he lives in a cave, often roams the beaches, and works side by side with your godchild’s girlfriend. People talk about this troublemaker, legends abound as to his combats and his special friendships. The youths at the student dorm and the Saint-Félicien college revere this striking public enemy, they romance the nights spent in his apartment, laud his impressive member and the words he pours into their ears while he’s spearing them — to such-and-such an ugly duckling he’ll have professed his love, to a student gymnast he’ll have said he has “the most beautiful ass ever,” a so-so player on the Roberval Sabres will have spent three days in his apartment as his boy toy.

A tenacious rumour of unknown origins contends that it’s Querelle who kidnapped little Michaël Bolduc, missing since November, in order to tie him up in his closet and subject him to an array of sexual torments. This story is on people’s lips all around the Lac, it’s been published in the local papers and talked about on the radio in short dispatches that are even shorter on detail: nothing is known except that the boy never returned from his first day at the college in Alma. No peddler of this scabrous news, no hawker of this charming abductor’s vagaries is intent on enlightenment, but only on playing the fabulist: at every twist in the tale a new layer is applied to the pornographic narrative, there is a heightening of alarm and a raising of the voice, and a few more blooms are added to the bouquet of blood-soaked images.

The truth concerning the Michaël Bolduc affair is to be found far from the journalists and nearer to the hairdressers’ armchairs, to the shopping centre restaurants where it’s said that Michaël, of his own free will, fled his large family and his hippieish parents — two doctors who have palped the glands of half of Lac Saint-Jean’s population — so free-spirited and close to their children; he’s the reject of a well-known tribe in the region, and he’s branded with that. Oh! You’re Chantal’s son, your father saved my life! They say that Michaël didn’t like his family, and when he was in crisis, when his parents wouldn’t let him out of the house and were deaf to his theatrics, he said right out that he hated them. Everyone knows that Michaël wanted to free himself from his father and mother’s onerous expectations, the good grades they wanted to see on his report card, the educational program in which they had enrolled him, the part-time job he had to find to pay for his board even if they were as rich as Croesus.

Since the Michaël Bolduc affair, Roberval parents are afraid their defiant adolescent is going to disappear, to run off and lose himself in foul acrobatics in the arms of a beautiful pervert. Going to the grocery store, walking in the mall, Querelle is subject to the hostile glares of the district’s progenitors. Mistaking these glances for desire, he imagines that they are all invitations to rendezvous in the toilets. Or perhaps he’s not mistaken and there is, in the eyes of those fathers who believe their offspring are being threatened by a predator’s lust, a secret desire to drink from the same spring.


Kévin Lambert – Querelle

Kevin Lambert / Querelle de Roberval – Claudia à la page




‘These poems began being about homesickness and its peculiar joys. A year later, when my daughter Arachne died, it seems it was the only language I could use to write about her, or perhaps to write to her, with her. I think it had to do with the intensity of the language, the “overwhelming” quality, as you say, and also the feeling that in the poem I was speaking partly in a language of death, and partly that when I wrote in that language I was partly dead, partly a ghost. The poem became a room where I could be both dead and alive, a permeable room.

‘Arachne lived for two weeks, all of it spent in a hospital room in Indianapolis. It was an intense room. When I came into the chamber and saw my beautiful girl taped-up and hooked up with tubes, I walked up to her and weirdly I started singing this song that I hadn’t heard for literally 30 years, “Vakna Nu Anneli” by Magnus Johansson, a folk pop hit from the early ‘90s: “Wake up now Anneli, the men from Venice have closed the factory and you’re free to go. Put on something sky-blue and a hat…” The fear and sadness jumbled my synapses and this song came out.

‘While I was down there with her I read a lot. I re-read Ballard’s Crash, Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Aase Berg’s Forsla fett, Eva-Kristina Olsson’s Eiderwhite: Extreme writing that deals with the body and its reproduction, its destruction. These poems were incredibly helpful for me. Or I don’t know if they “helped” me; they were there for me. I could enter into them and the intensity of the books measured up to the horror and fear I was feeling. Occasionally I would scroll social media and come across “healing poems”—poems of wise, self-help epiphanies—and I’ve never been so disgusted in my life.

‘The dominant sound in Arachne’s room was the breathing machine that was keeping her alive; the problem she was born with had to do with her lungs, she couldn’t breathe. I thought a lot about the breath, which is supposed to be the source of the poem (in people like Ginsberg and Olson) and it began to feel like this mechanical breath was a kind of poem, or un-poem, something that hovers between life and death, through which she connected to us in that room. I recorded it. That was one of the last things I did before she died. I still have it, but I’ve never listened to it.

‘So basically I think I’m saying that I always interacted with Arachne through art. Art was there in her room, art was how I was with her, and it’s still how I am with her. I didn’t incorporate the grief so much as the grief generated the poem. Grief and terror and, yes, hatred, but also a kind of joy. I never questioned that this would all find its way into my writing, though after I had written the poems I sometimes wondered if it’s a good idea. The poems often make me very sad, sometimes when I read them at readings I feel like I’m about to collapse. I can’t get over her.’ — Johannes Göransson


Johannes Göransson Site
‘Summer’ @ goodreads
I Don’t Want to Move On: Johannes Göransson and Niina Polari in Conversation
Poeticism as a Scandal // An Interview with Author Johannes Göransson
Buy ‘Summer’


Johannes Göransson Summer
Tarpaulin Sky Press

‘Written into and through the death of his infant daughter from a rare lung condition, Göransson’s elegy/revenge fantasy (to paraphrase his description of the book) captivated me like few collections I’ve read in the past year…. ‘I call the poem Daughter,’ he writes, ‘then I call the hole in her lungs The World.’ The absence that becomes everything. There is no poem. There is no patch.’ — fck yr bookclub


Nobody will be fooled if I bring back
the Bellmer photos
or the death ride with a thousand
beautiful passports showing
my cheekbones to the carcass sun
I’m writing poetry for veterans
of foreign wars
such as the war against pöbeln
or the war against breathing
the song against not breathing
goes like this I’m trying
the song against war
goes like this I’m writing a poem
for the venom it’s taking effect
I play a song about kroppen
it goes like this it’s teeming
I’m shooting a rifle
inside a tunnel this is the inside
song about poetry
I belong to the winter palace
take me to the street
named assassination my childhood
is covered with ett tusen rosor
it is extinction
we are celebrating the end
med allt det där röda
it was softness that I hated
with all my mouth and all my tongues
I was in debt to it so I burned it
down and wrote a song
about murdering millionaires


Follow my voice follow
my voice I follow your voice
into the malignant trousseau
into poetry I follow
the rabble the voices
the birthmark on your torso:
a puncture wound
a sign for syre
I don’t want the butterflies
to die in the rabble
so I take my headphones off
so I take my rabbled body
till riddarsporrar till syrener
till den råttiga dikten
about my eyelids mina ögon
lockar I am translating it
till mina döttrar in
the color of oxidized metal
you are the color of stain
glass window I am the color
red where are you hiding
where are your punctured lungs
my beautiful pen inlaid
with bird bone is what I use
to write as I think to myself
I think to my daughter
det står en pöbel pa min trapp
I think to my daughter
dom har tagit fotografier
av tomma plast kassar
och andra krigsgrejer från
sommaren props for
my ratted-out body sound
like the morning after the riot
it should be snowing
I can’t hear a word
I’m cutting flowers for the riot

Flickorna are in thick of it they trash
their cuties while the cops do that
thing with torsos and I have a vision of rats
in the hallucination I look like en oskuld
when I get my killability on for the rabble
I have a femur I have a pain in my ankle
I must have been running through the streets
again pollen is on my skin and in
my beautiful long hair I have solen
as a mother I sing-song for the police
snedsträck the rabble wants to possess me
but the girls they want to kill
me with their candy how can I see it
their mouths are closed
are they in berlin I’m in stockholm
it smells like urine on this street because
I’m wealthy snedsträck I refuse to steal
this painting the teenagers are whistling
in the street how do they know
I’m with them how do they know
I’m watching a movie about innocence
it’s a silent movie men änglarna pratar
in captions speak in numbers
through the radio the interrogators
wear rubber gloves but they can’t
go through mirror they can’t go through
they don’t understand poetry
their pictures are already on a pop music
time is out of whack there’s no place
in heaven for you mina vackra poeter
but the underground is full of heaven
we will never win anything
the poodle is yapping in the street it must
be the devil will you ever come back no

Flowers for the rabble
and I’m scared of being infected
in the lilacs and the infection in
the lilacs will return me to
summer to the movie screen
where I was born
to photograph bodies in
butcher shops poodles so
to speak in the faust
sick afterparty I’m talking ruins
with the devil you have to be
a foreigner to make art out
of other people’s ruins
he tells me you can’t belong
to ruins because you’re
bleeding from the forehead
amazingly he’s right but I say
I can belong to anywhere I can
take a photograph
even if that makes me the killer
but then I see my photo of the dead
girl and she has photographed
my eyes I will bleed
longer in the poem of
the afterworld now that I belong
to the afterparty her lungs
belong to the environment
she has been kissed by it
mercury I have been kissed
too I have been told to slash
the diorama I won’t
I’m not as clean as that I carry
the violent leaf in my mouth


SUMMER Official Trailer #1

SUMMER Official Trailer #2




I grabbed her leg on her way out the door at the end of our nights together.

She said, “Aren’t they worried about people finding out?”

I was six years old. I said, “What does that mean?”

“Do your parents care if people know they are dating other people?”

Roger died and mom said the car must’ve not even know what it hit. I found him with his face all mauled in the middle of the road. Dad threw his collar away.

I took scissors to my shirts, so they were small like hers. We leaned against each other, my head on her hip, and stared at ourselves in the mirror. She played French music I didn’t like and showed me pictures on the computer of abstract art. I asked her what abstract meant. “It means shapes that don’t occur in reality.” I copied the paintings by Kandinsky with colored pencils on the flipped pages of old bills. I asked her to write the word abstract at the top of the page, not comprehending the sounds the letters made next to each other.

She told me she used to live in London. She used to dance ballet. Her husband died.

“You have a husband? You’re not even old.”

“I don’t have a husband anymore. And I am old.”

I asked my mom why the babysitter was better at drawing than her, even though my mom was older.

This is when I stopped eating. Sliced turkey from the deli looked like my own skin. I was afraid I’d choke on any food I put in my mouth. Dad said, “Do you know what happens to little girls who don’t eat?” I was willing to know, and I asked him over and over again, but he wouldn’t tell me.

— Caitlin Forst


Archway Editions
‘NDA’ @ goodreads
Review: NDA: An Autofiction Anthology edited by Caitlyn Forst
Book Launch: NDA An Autofiction Anthology @ Stories Books & Cafe
Buy ‘NDA: An Autofiction Anthology’


Caitlin Forst, Editor NDA: An Autofiction Anthology
Archway Editions

‘Collected autofictions from mainstays of literary, art, and internet avant-garde writing. The contributors in this anthology produce a contemporary, subversive primer of works engaging the relationship between the writer and the text. Featuring: Aiden Arata, Nathan Dragon, David Fishkind, Rindon Johnson, Aristilde Kirby, Tao Lin, Chris Molnar, Vi Khi Nao, Elle Nash, Gina Nutt, Brad Phillips, Sam Pink, Darina Sikmashvili, BR Yeager.’ — Archway Editions






The World Without John Ashbery
by Ron Padgett

The world without John Ashbery

has lasted for one day

so far. Soon

one week, one century.

Will people look back

and scratch their heads

the way some do now?

I hope not. But

it’s all out of my hands

anyway, and I

won’t care one whit.

But what he did,

his poetry, that is,

is great.

He gave me a conjunction

and I ran away with it,

though it kept turning

me around, so I ran back.

And here I am

with a conjunction

on my hands.

My idea

was to give it back,

but instead

I’m going to move

the forest six inches

to the left and leave it

at that.


Ron Padgett Site
Ron Padgett @ Poetry Foundation
Meet Ron Padgett
“You are next in line”: Moving down the Line(s) with Ron Padgett
Buy ‘Dot’


Ron Padgett Dot
Coffee House Press

‘In Dot, Ron Padgett returns with more of the playfully profound work that has endeared him to generations of readers. Guided by curiosity and built on wit, generosity of spirit, and lucid observation, Dot shows how any experience, no matter how mundane, can lead to a poem that flares like gentle fireworks in the night sky of the reader’s mind.’ — Coffee House Press

‘Wonderful, generous, funny poetry.’ — John Ashbery

‘Ron Padgett makes the most quiet and sensible of feelings a provocatively persistent wonder.’ — Robert Creeley

‘Ron Padgett’s poems sing with absolutely true pitch . . . agile and lucid and glad to be alive.’ — James Tate



“Tea for You, Too” by Ron Padgett

Ron Padgett, “Nothing in That Drawer”




p.s. Hey. ** Tea, Hi, Tea. Yeah, OnLMY was kind of a cult figure within the cult. I’ve seen a few more recent things by him, but they don’t have the same commitment or whatever. No, I haven’t read Mai-chan’s ‘Daily Life’, and I should, obviously? I’ll hunt it. Thanks. Oh, shit, sorry that you’ve been feeling down, much less food poisoned. Maybe that will or has broken the spell? I procrastinate way too much, so yeah. Obviously, I have no problem with unhappy endings, but it’s true I don’t think of my characters as real people. Unless you have the whole world end, there’s probably some way to have some distant hopefulness built into whatever unhappiness you plan to end on? Or, yeah, there’s always porn to write, if not. You can’t lose. ** malcolm, Hi. I hear you. Re: lack of money necessitated brevity. But you can make that work in your favor, and I have no doubt you will. Me too, on the luck front. That’s why even though our film is a little under funded for what it is, I was always sure that once we got to LA and started meeting people, we’d find creative types who were excited and inspired by the project and happy to work with us for the fun and experience (and credit), and that’s what happened. Confidence is almost everything maybe. Yes, shooting is extremely cool and exciting. When we were making ‘PGL’, I started to cry a little more than once when I saw something I’d written be completely realised by the performers. It’s am amazing thing. No, our film is very unsexual, and actually very ungory compared to what people will expect. The Guro is more sort a general research thing, and mainly for my fiction, I guess. It suddenly turned into winter here yesterday, and it’s quite cold, which I love, but I’m imagining it’s long since winter time where you are? Stay warm. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ah, George Eliot is finally history! Her grave isn’t too far away from me. Maybe I should go ‘tell’ her the good news. No surprise that you’re a dazzling chair operator. You gonna customise it at all? How is your new pad treating you? ** Jamie, Hey, J. I’m good. Oh, well, I guess what I’m interested in in Guro is the aspiration to make extremity palatable and the attempts/theories the artists use to crisscross that difficult fantasy to physical representation thing. The success or not of their approaches is subjective, and I don’t know if making that judgement is possible, for me at least. In McW’s case, yeah, a cartoony lightness and comedic approach, but then in, say, Pontax, probably my favorite, it’s more of an outsider artist compulsion and relatively unfiltered style that interests me. I don’t know. I’m just always interested in the possible ways to represent the unrepresentable re: thinking of methods I could try for my own related work. If that makes sense. Your bike ride sounds so nice. I need to get in the habit of renting the public bikes here, although maybe I’ll wait out winter beforehand. I’m going to look at some art today, so it should be an okay one. You? Late 70s B-52s love, Dennis ** Dominik, Hi!!! What about your work exhausted you? Probably a dumb question. But I’m glad the post gave you a symbolic hit of coke. I don’t know ‘Killing Stalking’, no, but I will now somehow. Thanks! I’ve never had a tattoo, so maybe I’m wrong in thinking that getting that Cruoreye tattoo would hurt, ouch. Love singing the praises of the pomegranate, G. ** Minet, Hi! Oh, cool, a like mind. You probably know about Pixiv, but, if not, you can find boatloads of explicitly gay-themed Guro there. I was really into Guro for a while, and then I kind of lost interest for years, and then I got fascinated by it again about two years ago. It’s certainly possible that the LCTG scene was Guro derived in some way, yeah. Good eye. I haven’t seen ‘Kimera’, but, if it’s on YouTube, I can and will, thank you. Things are good here. How’s stuff with you? Have a major Tuesday. ** Dom Lyne, Hi, Dom! Very good to see you, sir and pal. Wow, an intense year indeed! But also a pretty progressive and positive one if I’m reading you correctly. I mean relatively speaking. Man, that’s a lot of you for you to have to know. It seems like your family should be extricated from your radar, but I know that’s not easy. I’m glad you’re able to work on your work. Can you imagine if you weren’t an artist how fucked you would be? I think about that all the time. It’s hard for me to understand how people who aren’t artists find happiness. Not to create a hierarchy with artists at the top, au contraire. I just can’t imagine being any other thing and being alive at the same time. Anyway, … I’m good. New film is progressing well. We’re going to shoot it in March. Take care, man! Love, me. ** Brian Hey hey, Brian. Oh, well, I must admit I’m very happy hear the Almodovar/Berlin adaptation is dead. Jesus. And Cate Blanchett was to be in it?! I’m sorry, but I would be very happy if Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton took very, very long vacations from acting or just acted in regional theater from now on. I can’t think of a feature film based on a collection of stories that was any good. I think ‘Short Cuts’ is one of Altman’s worst, for instance. Can you think of any success stories? I’m probably blanking. Man, I’m sorry to hear about the recent difficulty and awkwardness. What’s the source, if you want to say? I hate moving, so I sure understand if that’s part of it. Enjoy Thanksgiving as much as I will enjoy its nonexistence. Any Tuesday emotional upward-flowing? ** Steve Erickson, I’ll check out the Raw Poetic album. Archie Shepp, nice. I think it’s interesting that the crappier and lower budgeted the blood/violence in movies, the more acceptable people seem to find it. What interests me about Guro is that it’s fiction in a visual form, I guess. I’m interested in how that distancing device works, and how it can be rendered highly realistically and yet remain blunted by the fictional status to some degree. Or something like that. ** Ian, Hi. Yeah, it’s playfulness that seems to be the most successful style choice in Guro. Interesting. Right, your kiddo is bursting at his seams. That must be so amazing to observe and live with. Wow. Excited that your book is so close to being born. And I’m excited for the post too. Just whenever you’re ready and want to. Mm, curry. I might zip to the local vegan Indian place today, come to think of it. Have a big day, man. ** Paul Curran, Thanks, Paul. Glad to know I can always count on your fellow interest in the worst/best the human imagination can transmit through its respective fingers. You inspire bigly, dude, be always assured of that. ** Okay. I recently read five more books that I loved and therefore think you should have the opportunity to assess for yourselves. See you tomorrow.

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