Friday, November 11, 2005

On The Stigma Of Gang Violence

I remember what it was like when I was much younger and heard of the shootings that accompanied the early screenings of John Singleton's Boyz N The Hood and thinking, "Wow, that movie must really be some kind of experience if it would bring people to shoot other people."

Click Here.

And now it seems that the 50 Cent vehicle Get Rich Or Die Trying is behind similar violence. And, luckily for all parties concerned, I'm cynical enough to be be bothered by this for all the right reasons.

Now please bear in mind that I don't know anything about the attack whatsoever so if you are a gang member who is looking to "pop a cap in my ass" at least hear me out first. This fatal shooting bothers me. I'm not going to climb up on a soap box now and start running my damn fool mouth about how we should all just get along. That wouldn't be fucking realistic in the slightest. It would be ideal, don't get me wrong, but for right now that shit ain't happening. I've accepted it. You should too.

What bothers me, though, is that it was at a screening of a 50 Cent movie that this would happen.

What?! Movies only cost 50 cents to get into again?! God bless America where inflation has been finally defeated. Ma, get the kids together we're going to see a 50 cent movie!

No, no! Hold on their Pops McGee, the movie didn't cost 50 cents to get into; it stars 50 Cent. He sings the rap music. Kids are into that sort of thing.

Sorry about the bad humor. If it's any consolation to you, I'm laughing at it.

But anyway, back to the point. I loathe the fact that the violence would happen at a screening of Get Rich Or Die Trying. Why? Because that's where the violence would be expected to break out when it comes to movie theater shootings. It's disheartening to see that people are still offing each other at movies where you'd expect people to off each other.

Can't they shoot each other at Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies? I think that's why I make it a rule for myself that I not attend screenings of Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies. I just don't think I could trust myself to not leap over the row in front of me and start beating the shit out of the first person I actually hear laughing at that celluloid fecal matter.

It bugs me because seeing a 50 Cent movie might not actually be that bad. I haven't seen it yet, but I think that I would liken it to Eminem's first movie 8 Mile, which was actually quite good. So I would have to say that I would give Get Rich Or Die Trying a chance at least to impress me. Hearing about people taking the time to kill a guy at that theater screening it either means they were so thoroughly unimpressed with the film that killing a guy seemed like the only way to derive any entertainment from the movie-going experience or they loved it so much that they decided killing a guy was the only way to make the movie-going experience absolutely complete.

The other thing that irks me about this news is that killing somebody at a 50 Cent movie really isn't very original or interesting at this point. If they had only saved it for date night when their dates would undoubtedly dragged them to Maid In Manhatten or The Wedding Planner I would have been shocked. I have to admit that the shock value of gang violence at a screening of a movie about gang violence is kind of ho-hum. Sorry gangs.

Really, save it for the Jennifer Lopez movies, you'll actually be a lot more likely to go down in history for that. The problem is that you actually have to stay awake long enough through that hour and a half smegma stain on the big screen to commit actual violence. Hell, if you can stay awake through an entire Jennifer Lopez movie you've already proven yourself to be a more resilient man than anybody I've ever met or likely will ever meet so I guess you probably don't even need to commit violence to impress me.

What's the conclusion? Well, I suppose there are a number of conclusions you can draw from this meandering rant, but there is one message that I think I desperately want to make, one point that most of humanity wants to make. Hollywood, please, enough with Jennifer Lopez!

I beg of you.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


"Feathers" is the poem that I performed this week at the "Five Wednesdays; One November" reading for the Raving Poets. It is part of the Sometimes Sinister sequence. I have it at one point in the plot of the series of poems that the wreck of the woman just leaves the protagonist. One morning he just wakes up and she's gone. I've hit on that part of the series with an earlier poem called "Vapor Trails."

Anyway, after the reading Adam Snider came up to me and asked me if I was recycling lines from some of my other works. At the time I said no, but after I had left and was given some time to dwell on it I do believe that he was actually on to something. I have used some of the elements in "Feathers" in previous poems and now I'm sure of it. What "Feathers" then becomes, in essence, is a complete redraft of those earlier poems. What I wanted to really incorporate into this one were the images of the "molted plumage," the idea of the protagonist openly admitting that he is making a project of the woman he loves as opposed to just loving her, and some of the imagery associated with the truck stop clientele. I guess it all just goes to show that Adam pays attention. I totally forgot that there were elements in "Feathers" used elsewhere in my work, but I think that with this incarnation of those elements I am a lot happier with the outcome.

Also, on Ron Silliman's blog there was recently a discussion regarding line breaks. As I sat down to write this draft of "Feathers" I was cognizant of where my line breaks were and I was thinking about how the poem would sound when read aloud, bearing in mind that each line ends with a slight pause. I actually consciously sought to place the line breaks in places where they would be rather unnatural in my typical work and I kind of like the results here.

So anyway, without further ado. Here is "Feathers"...

I keep looking for your molted plumage caught
in an updraft or
dancing in warm blasts from
central heating systems down
among these mouth-breathers,
these heavy set knuckle dragging shamblers,
sloped foreheaders,
Nascar enthusiasts.

And all I find are nosebleeds and
racing hearts and sciatica,
big belt buckles
Everything is bigger in Texas
and Pepback pills.
In every truck stop
and 24 hour diner,
bar and grills
where cocaine residue makes
mime time of
counter tops, makes
that public washroom smell of
every room
just a little more toxic,
a little more forbidding and
electrically charged.

this is where instinct tells me
to look for you.

Make a project of
a woman,
let her become your
and when that weight is
lifted or vanishes
where do you go except
to drift through
galleries of abuser and users,
shift jockeys and pushers?

To say
I miss you
doesn’t capture,
doesn’t compute.

You gravitational core.

Sometimes I’ll catch
a feather lofting gently to
a coffee stained tile floor,
hear the buzz of a neon beer sign
and know
I’m not that far behind.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tasers Gone Wild!

Click here.

Reading that news story brought to mind a couple of things.

First of all the point of the story is that Taser has developed a camera that attaches to their product.

But what's their product?

Tasers, idiot. Your parents must be proud that you can even manage to dress yourself each day.

Hearing that Taser will have a camera available really made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. No, seriously. Isn't it great? Finally I will be able to see actual video footage of people getting Tasered by jittery police officers! Yes!

But Michael, those Tasercams are only going to be used to answer questions regarding tactics. They're not meant for entertainment value. You're a monster!

Uh-huh, and you just know that nobody would ever find any entertainment value in video footage of a person getting Tasered. I mean our society has the highest standards when it comes to entertainment. Illustrious shows such as Jackass, Monday Night Raw, and Will & Grace are all indicative of these impeccable taste we have. Yeah right! Shows like the ones I just named off the top of my head only go to show you that Taser: The Television Series is only a few overworked police officers away from fruition.

Oh Michael, stop being so melodramatic. I think that there are a lot of great television shows out there. There will be no need for Taser: The Television Series.

Au contraire, mon frere, you simp. Just look at this excerpt from the script for an episode of Will & Grace entitled "The Donkey Puncher" and try to tell me with a straight face that we are not heading down the road to entertainment anarchy.

Grace: Hey Will, what were you up to last night.

Will: Oh not much Grace. This latest man and I had a lovely night full of hot passionate man/sausage love.

Grace: Oh Will, your monkey shines are too much for me! How was the sex?

Will: It was all going according to plan until I found out he was a donkey puncher.

Grace: A donkey puncher? What the hell is a donkey punch.

Will: I'll show you. Turn around.

See? We're fucking doomed! It'll only be a matter of months before any police force with the entrepreneurial know-how and the greed to do so figures out that you can sell DVD compilations of the best Taserings and slap a title on it like Tasers Gone Wild! and total morons will practically rip apart their pants because they can't find their wallets fast enough to buy that shit. Hell, I've practically got my Visa card on standby for the when they finally release Volume 1. Come on, police, I know you can do it!

And here's the other thing that bothered me about the article...

Apparently a six year old kid got Tasered by police which prompted the Taser company to develop the camera so that police can see the how and the why of the situation that would prompt a cop to Taser a child.

The article discusses how the child was threatening to slash himself or any approaching officer with a shard of broken glass. grow up so fast these days. I'm seriously this close to crying. Wow.

But fucking come on! He's six years old! You're a cop! You can't figure out a way to stop the kid from hurting himself other than Tasering him? That's just laziness I think.

I mean, he's only six fucking years old. Just tackle him and give him an arm bar.

Not only that, but if the kid is threatening to hurt himself with a piece of glass I say let him. I remember what I was like when I was six years old and I couldn't hurt myself wielding a piece of glass. I couldn't even make safety scissors work properly, how the fuck am I going to do anything substantial with a piece of glass?

I think by giving the kid a good old Taser shock you pretty much did all the work that he wanted to do for him. How's he ever going to learn to get stuff done on his own if you keep smothering him?

In the end the message is that the children of today are spoiled. If I wanted to hurt myself so bad when I was his age I would have had to throw myself off of a balcony my own self. I didn't have these fancy police officers offering to Taser me. No sir.

Damn kids.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Classic Michael Appleby

I apologize for the silence on my part. I've been switched to day shifts for a little bit here and it's been difficult, to say the least, adjusting to being a daytime kind of guy. Naturally, I'm tired as hell. Anyway, since many of you out there probably aren't too familiar with some of my older poetic works I thought that maybe once in a while when I'm too lazy to come up with new material I would just give you what is ultimately a rerun for me. Seriously, though, I will get back to normal here before long. More night shifts start at the end of the week. In the meantime, though, come down to Yianni's Taverna on Wednesday night to check out the latest from the Raving Poets. For now enjoy "Fists For The Uncreator," a piece I wrote back in 2002.

Fists For The Uncreator
this fleeting bit of cosmic debris could come all apart at any moment.

could crack. a fissure, a widening canyon beneath the morning sky. sun glaring off the shiny bits of glass of the skyscrapers’ tears. families, once huddled, arms locked over their numbers, reduced to single temporary entities where the ripping was too intense. the falling stars dripping into the chasms, all infinity being sucked in. a huge inverted light, a vacuum at the top of a rabbit hole pulling you up and out and your scream is drowned by agriculture, flocks of sheep, herds of cows, instant carnivorous fantasies, fields of prime rib, green grass painted red before a bite and a swallow, mother nature working toward indigestion. a chorus of car crashes. freight train smash. giant forests now kindling and splinters; forests of severed toothpicks. island nations everywhere.

could melt. urban candles, skyscrapers sinking slowly from the long burn. bridges that spanned now merge, all sense of defiance against water lost. aggressive morning dew on the lawn that didn’t know a limit to ambition -- and won. the sense of touch that became fuzzy then gooey until no sense was left at all. when the lovers grope each other they press that much harder with each passing moment, losing nerve endings inch-by-inch, whole bones disappearing into liquidity, they are forlorn, longing to lust, now forgetting that sex even existed. a wet consummation, oceans growing with the pouring of highways into the horizon. a drought that became a bay slowly and now a sea endlessly, dark tides that sway with the seeping moon overhead, lunar viscosity with a dissipating gravity until all waves are the thrashing of our elements changing.

could explode. a chorus of inflated shopping bags all popped at once, millions of oxygen molecules set free in one fell swoop, rushing toward the atmosphere. tanker trucks as grenades with 18 wheels; the pins’ pulled; the times’ waning; all become sources of shrapnel. You might be hitching a ride alongside a trucker and boom you join an overstatement of all existence, vast universes turning into powder kegs, sudden and painless, one big burst. skeletons leaping out of their bodies before that instant orgasm into endlessness, a restlessness that went too far, too fast, became fire and oxygen, a second-long incendiary before dust and big black burns on a sheet of time. vehicles along roadways as firecrackers, a divine fuse cut short, illuminated.

could disintegrate into dust. the death’s wind catching a sail and blowing right through it, a momentary mist of canvas blues and reds on the gust before the whole boat is fiberglass particles swirling faster than it has ever sailed before. evaporated milk, evaporated land, evaporated water, the level of the world low and flat getting flatter, whole utah harems joining their salt lake on air currents. the scents of baked goods are the actual baked goods in easy-to-consume forms. no fear of smoking. the ash tip becomes the ash cigarette becomes the ash smoker becomes the ash smoker’s shoes, becomes ash everything, a kiss for the omniscient, powdered war paint on the face of god.

the route to here forgetting itself for you until you want only to lie on your belly limbs outstretched as far as they can reach with fistfuls of dust handfuls of dirt clutching holding everything together if only where you are.

the route to here forgetting itself for me until I want only to punch at nothingness, swing, crazy, mad, with fists for the uncreator, knock the belligerent down, though he is a higher power than me.

kiss you. it seems appropriate at the end, a lasting token for the last, my coin for charon, a toll for the lethe.