Life Is A Hard Blues // The Hangan Brothers // EdgeCity (cassette)
From the first note, I was hooked on this album. Anyone familiar with the old time blues duos and trios of the twenties and thirties will recognize the obvious ‘tip-o-the-hat’ by blues masters Clabe Hangan (vocals & guitar), Rick Smith (harmonica) and Jim Shirey (bass, violin & piano) to that period. Also turning in some fine lead & slide guitar playing on this session are Stan West and Jerry Johnson.
It becomes apparent that the Hangan Brothers are thusly named because they work as a unit, each supporting the other, each coaxing the best blues out of the group as a whole. This album is a testimonial to the legacy of such early pioneers as Sonny and Brownie, Big Bill Broonzy and Leadbelly. Rick Smith told me that the first time he heard Sonny Terry, he knew that he was going to be a blues harp player. The seemingly endless array of tasty harp licks that pepper this recording are testimony to Mr. Smith’s dedication to this life-long pursuit.
While Mr. Shirey’s presence is so subtle (except for some very tasty violin & piano solos), it should be noted that it is his vision as producer and main mixing engineer that has made this project as seamless and smooth as a bottle of ten-year old scotch. It goes down easy. Yes!
With the exception of the title track (penned by Clabe Hangan), the remaining 11 tracks are classic blues standards, including such timeless pieces as Motherless Child, Trouble In Mind, Nobody Knows You, Sea Sea Rider & Keys to the Highway. The lyrics to these tunes flow like honey from the lips of Mr. Hangan, who sings them with an ease that’s reminiscent of the late Jimmy Witherspoon; a telling of the tale that’s second-nature, without all the trumped-up emotion that is usually associated with modern blues (and is currently the rage for modern singing in general). Check out the track “A Closer Walk With Thee”, which becomes an ode to Clabe’s mother. Simple, clean and unpretentious. Beautiful.
For copies of this tape or other inquiries (private parties, etc.) write to EdgeCity c/o PO Box 1225, Claremont, CA 91711 USA or visit their website: www.edge-city.com ...RD
Mesechabe #16 // (What it Sounds Like - Spring 1997) // Center For Gulf South History & Culture (cassette)
Here is a great idea! Imagine being able to hear the voices of the contributing writers to the magazine! There are also some great jazz pieces & ensembles on this tape backing the speakers. I wish that I could do that for just one issue of the LUMMOX, but the god of the sacred lotto has not smiled upon me, so...
Mesechabe is an annual magazine that emanates from New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s banner reads “ the journal of surre(gion)alism” and within it’s covers can be found the poetry and stories that make up the richly flavored literary gumbo of that part of the world.
In this issue: interviews with Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb and Kalamu ya Salaam. Poetry by Creeley, Ellis, Driscoll, J. Jones, Yictove, Lee, Pierce, Brinks, DiPalma, Sinclair, Gomez, Gonzalez, Berry, R. Martin, Shortt, Lenz, Myles, Collom, Pfister & Formento. There is also art, as well.
Check out Tammy Gomez’ “Cuando Mira El Mar” (When I Look at the Sea) ... “only you can arrest me...” God! I almost fell in love with her voice when I first heard this powerful piece. I highly recommend that you check out this fine tape (and magazine) asap!
Send $4 plus S&H to Mesechabe, 1539 Crete St., New Orleans, LA 70119-3006; attention Dennis Formento. Tell ‘em Raindog sent ya! ...RD
Host Body - CD Price: $12 // Leather Hyman // MAC 1193 Frozen Hound Records
Anyone who is familiar with the Leather Hyman (LUMMOX June issue) sound will find this CD very rewarding. Apart from the fact that their unique vocals are clearly audible (being raised on a diet of Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa, I am continuously frustrated by garbled vocals, so it’s always a plus when I can decipher the words), the mix on the band is almost better than I have ever heard them live. Yet, this recording manages to catch that live “feel” that sets them apart from many bands in the alternative / garage art band scene.
Personnel on this CD: Lyman Chaffee - guitars & vocals; Heather Lockie - viola, keyboards & vocals; John Collinson - drums; Pablo Garcia - bass guitar, synths & samples.
Vocals are divided between Heather, who plays keyboards and a hopped up viola (wah-wah & delay, sometimes phase-shifter), ranges from the sultry to grrl-ish; and Lyman (lead guitar), who sounds like Mel Torme with a bad cold. Their obvious classical background emerges in some tasty vocal harmonies and an understanding of song structure; but they can hardly be considered “classical” in any sense.
A recent blurb in Vibe focused on their “over the top” sound. This band is hardly over-the-top, compared to such bands as Rosemary’s Billygoat or Giant Ant Farm. The Vibe comments are indicative of how banal the current above-ground music scene in L.A. has become. Leather Hyman kicks ass, to be sure! They are part of a movement in music today that blends lyrics (both socially conscious and thought provoking) with a straight-ahead, dynamic instrumental sound (check out tracks 4 - 8 for a nice blend of their various styles). There is a movement afoot in L.A. that can only be called underground (although I hope that another label will emerge that is more descriptive - not the “underground” hasn’t already spawned some notable musical movements - this one’s just waiting for someone to coin a phrase) and in that underground there is something brewing. In clubs like the now-defunct Impala Cafe (downtown L.A.), Lumpy Gravy (West Hollywood), SpaceLand (Silverlake), Sacred Grounds (San Pedro) and Mr. T’s Bowl (Highland Park), this weird Garage Art band sound is threatening to shake up the mainstream. And, it’s bands like Leather Hyman, that are leading the way. One wonders what their next CD will sound like (they tell me that they’re in the studio, now). I, for one, can’t wait. RD
Strong Man Wins -CD // Gymicrae // Mesual - 1997
Gymicrae plays punk with a dash of surf and metal thrown in on Strong Man Wins. It is truly angry stuff, reminiscent of early 80’s hardcore bands like early Black Flag or Dead Kennedys. They don’t go for the lighter, poppier Green Day touches that many of their punk contemporaries are into nowadays, instead preferring the angry attack of the bands mentioned formerly.
Singer/guitarist Jimmy sings like a pissed-off Jello Biafra, and for anyone that’s heard the DK’s, that’s quite a feat. He spits out the angst on “Torment” and “Bitch”, while he cranks out guitar riffs that have jagged surf and metal bits thrown into the hardcore mix, much like Biafra’s old sideman, legendary East Bay Ray.
What saves them from the cookie-cutter is a primitive chemistry among the musicians, as they not only do the straight-ahead stuff with force and abandon, but also negotiate some tricky time changes on “Bitch” and “Respect”. Bassist Mike and drummer Scott work well with Jimmy in the three-piece mode, putting up some solid rhythms for Jimmy’s workman-like, occasionally lyrical guitar.
Dragging them down is sloppy production, muddy by even garage punk standards. Jimmy’s vocals often get buried in the mix, and since he is the main personality of the band, it denies the band its personality. Their influences, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Minor Threat, had distinct and charismatic vocalists who were capable of bringing the music to a higher level. It’s hard to tell whether there is a frontman or personality in this band a la Biafra or Ian Mackay, beause the mix is so damned muddy.
On this five-song EP, Gymicrae shows some flashes of real talent which may lead to better things. But they need to work on the production a little more next time. It may decide whether they get closer to their esteemed forefathers in the punk elite, or end up just another lost and forgotten band, jamming away in their garage. Steven Booth
Quartetto Stig // Pienso Oculto // 9 Winds Records 1997
“Many elements go into the makeup of a work of music. Among them are the underlying concepts, the actual written notes, and the musicians who interpret both the concepts and the written material.” Steuart Liebig --from the liner notes of Pienso Oculto
This wildly interpretive work which ranges from spare, isolated phrases to complex, near cacophonous montages of texturing, acted on my subconscious drawing forth vague musical memories of Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, Poulenc, Frank Zappa and his mentor, Edgar Vareese. I was fortunate to hear portions of this work performed live at The Alligator Lounge in W. L.A. the other night (which, by the way, I recommend the reader checks out, their “New Music Mondays” is worth going to on a regular basis, especially if your tastes tilt toward the outer edges of the experimental / fringe music).
Steuart Liebig, a talented six string bassist, who is part of a rotating group of players that is continually evolving as a loosely cohesive ‘house band’ for the New Music Mondays shows; turns out to be equally as talented as a composer. In this, the third from Quartetto Stig, CD, Liebig brings his understanding of the essential conflict in modern music: the dynamic tension between the voices of the instruments (in this case electric violin - played by Jeff Gauthier; trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet - played by John Fumo; drums - played by Dan Morris; and contrabassguitars played by Steuart Liebig) to create an opus that is both textural and haunting.
It is to the credit of Vinny Golia (founder of 9 Winds Records), Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson (of New Music Monday) and the Alligator Lounge, that works of this caliber can be heard live, at a reasonable price and on a regular basis, here in Los Angeles. I strongly recommend that you purchase this CD. I only wish that I could purchase the whole of the 9 Winds catalog (it’s quite sizable). Visit their website at http://members.aol.com/ninewinds or write to 9 Winds Records, PO Box 10082, Beverly Hills, CA 90213 USA. RD
LOTUSEATERS // HENRI // Action Box Records CD
It is unfortunate that we live in a time where the radio stations (and all mass media outlets, for that matter) are controlled by ratings and the promise of the almighty “big bucks”. The newest offering from the Lotuseaters is another example of what the general public will be missing, unless they happen to tune into one of Liza Richardson’s shows on KCRW and catch a track from their new CD, HENRI; an amazing blend of music and poetry(she also co-produced the track “What Does That Mean?”).
The Lotuseaters, made up in part by ex-members of the Tom Waits band (you can really hear that distinctive sound circa “Raindogs” and “Big Time” on several tracks), latest entry into the library of Spoken Weird is called HENRI. Besides a lineup of stellar session players like Larry Taylor (formerly of Canned Heat), Stephen Hodges and Smokey Hormel (Tom Waits, Beck - to name but a few), this CD also features pieces by Exene Cervanka (“They Must Be Angels”), Ellyn Maybe (“Injustice On Compact Disc”), John O’Keefe (“Death In Amsterdam”) and Molly Cleator (“What Does That Mean?”). Anyone familiar with these poets will not need to read the rest of this review, but for those of you who are still in the dark, let me attempt to clarify.
Imagine that you have been cast ashore on a deserted island and have begun to nibble on the vegetation, despite the fact that you don’t really know what you are eating (which is too bad, because the flora on this particular rock is mostly hallucinogenic and you’ve been tripping for days without even knowing it). This CD could be a kind of aural guidebook as to what you are about to experience. Imagine Chinese New Year, a trap kit from Pink Floyd (complete with gongs) being hurled down a long flight of stairs, a drunken bull dancing the jitterbug with Gene Kelly in a china shop, an evening concert at the Cacophony Society, Ralph and Alice Cramden battling it out, while a really good garage band rehearses down the hall. Imagine all this and you’ve got the beginnings of what the Lotuseaters are about.
HENRI is available from Action Box Records, PO Box 10423, Burbank CA 91510. Or through the LUMMOX Journal. Hey! It’s 3 a.m., let’s go down to the Dark Night Of The Soul Bowling Lanes and do some frames, man! RD
Strange Tattoo // Deborah Pardes // Mental Music
Every so often, a really unique talent manages to emerge from the mosh pit that is the modern Alternative Music scene. Deborah Pardes is one such individual. When I listened to the CD for the first time, I thought well, here we go again with the acoustic guitar/folk singer/angst-thing! That was the first track. Then the second cut started, and it was totally different! And so it went, through the entire recording.
This self produced CD is a seamless, finely crafted example of both her musical range and variety of styles and her quirky sense of humor. Her songwriting is enhanced by her performance, strong vocals and solid guitar work. I particularly liked the tracks Prince Wants To Be King, Confidante, Prom Dress, Strange Tattoo, Barely Breathing and the very haunting Shelter (the final track).
I strongly recommend that you send away for this recording. Her CD is available from her directly at: 1471 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94131, make the check out to Deborah Pardes for $15.
email < email@example.com > or call the hotline (415) 546-3776.
MORE MUSIC (four star rating system)
Over The River And... - Through The Woods / Rock / Is There More? Records / $10
(Over the top lyrics & a highly polished EP (check out the CD ROM aspects of this disc) by the other great act to come out of Lawrence, Kansas. A most under-rated band. ***)
Refrain - Clear / Rock / Self-Release (PO Box 2151, Venice, CA 90294) / $10
(Matthew Niblock and friends have been knocking the socks (or at least the Bierkenstocks) off of their fans over in the westside for quite a few years now. This self-released CD contains many of their “hits” and is guaranteed to win them new fans. **)
Elysian Intervals - Jack Brewer & Bazooka / NewMusic - Spoken Word / New Alliance Records (PO Box 1389 Lawndale, CA 90260) / $10
(“If I didn’t love ya, would I be standing here, naked?” Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? This is the second outing for these boys. Bazooka (the trio of Sax, Bass and Drums) lays down a fast-paced, polished chrome sound that cushions the rantings of Brewer and makes this hefty meal consumable. ****)
Dante No Longer Repents - Vinny Golia Quartet / NewMusic Jazz / Music & Arts (PO Box 771, Berkeley, CA 94701) / $10
(The gathering storm... Dante alone on the shores of oblivion... is there a problem? Golia (founder of 9 Winds Records) brings his audience “through the glass darkly” into his world of strangely haunting refrains and urgent arpeggios. Also recommended is the 9 Winds catalog. ***)
Other parts - Emily Hay / NewMusic Jazz / Fullscale Records (12334 - 5 Runnymede St., N. Hollywood, CA 91605) / $10
(Ruminations on carmic strategy... cause & effectiveness in today’s over-wrought society. This trio explores the outer edges of the genre “NewMusic” and showcases the talented Ms. Hay as both composer and musician (flute & vocal stylings), along with percussionist Brad Dutz and Micheal Whitmore’s unique approach to the acoustic guitar. ***)
Nerve Cowboy (Quarterly) #3 Price: $4 PO Box 4973, Austin, TX 78765 Edited by Joseph Shields & Jerry Hagins
Nerve Cowboy #3 is a veritable who’s who of established ‘zine poetry. That is to say, those poets whose work regularly appears in that cadre of established publications such as Pearl, Atom Mind, Sheila-Na-Gig, Stovepipe, Wooden Head Review and the like. Nerve Cowboy has become one of the mags to get into, if one is really bent on establishing a reputation. Personally, I set my sights on getting into mags like this (Blue Satellite is another) but never seem to make the cut... does this mean that I’m a failed poet? Gawd, I hope not! It just makes me try harder.
Available by subscription (and worth the price - $14), this issue contains the likes of Todd Moore, Joan Jobe Smith, Cheryl Townsend, Lyn Lifshin, Fred Voss, Gerry Locklin, Edward Field, Mark Weber, A.D. Winans, Michael Hathaway and many others (60 in all). A brilliant cross-section of American poetry! I highly recommend it. (Raindog)
A Hotel Education Price: $2 Todd Moore SpeakEASY 220 W. 17th St., Erie, PA 16502
This spare collection of poems (15) by poet Todd Moore offers the reader an opportunity to experience the imagery and style and raw power of this fine poet, who now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Moore’s style falls somewhere between gritty, meandering realism and a near-surreal attention to detail and emotion. There’s a kind of visceral tug on the old heartstrings, like a sentimental ride down memory lane, but on the back of a bullet! It’s the best of the west, the best of the B & W John Ford years, when the Duke was part of an ensemble cast and not so much a star.
I encourage readers of Bukowski to check out Todd Moore, to expand your horizons, to go where no one has gone... oops, wrong scenario. Just get hold of this little book, you won’t regret it.
Lost Rhythm Avenue Jay Alamares Vinegar Hill Press, 1997
When I first met Jay, way back when, I thought that I had met the next Bukowski-whatever-man-poet. I was wrong. He is a voice of L.A, a part of the Greek chorus that chronicles the ‘now and then’ that rolls onward down this highway of dreams, like a half-crazed trucker drunk on “white line fever”... Here comes our LA story, right up your alleys and through your yards and over your porches and into your faces; the angry fist that waves in your face, misdirecting your attention, while we steal your wallets and your women.
Now he perches on the outside of Los Angeles county, somewhere out near Club Mud, near an AF Base. Still writing with a terrible craving for life in his guts, one wonders what his next offering will be?
Lost Rhythm Avenue is classic (if that’s possible) Jay Alamares. Fans will be happy as ever, skeptics will be won over and critics will be so incensed, that they’ll have to take a medical leave. This is the gritty wrenchings of Bill Shields and Todd Moore combined. This is the stuff that the innocent and saintly have nightmares about. This is it, baby!
In addition, Andrea Kowalski of Vinegar Hill Press, has done her usual job of creating a book that is both beautifully presented and easy to digest. The fly-leaf is exceptionally cool! Hats off to Jay and Andrea!
This book, and the others in the Vinegar Hill series, is available in fine, independent bookstores around Los Angeles & San Francisco. Or you can order it through Vinegar Hill Press at PO Box 368, San Pedro, CA 90733 USA or email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org
KING PLANET by Steve Abee (Incommunicado Press ISBN 1-884615-14-7)
If you could blend John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row & Tortilla Flats and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl with the picturesque mayhem of a Tom Waits street rant from, say, the Night Hawks at the Diner years (‘75), then you’d have the street-wise ramblings of Steve Abee’s newest collection of poetry and prose; KING PLANET.
Steve is the beatman. His lyrical style floats off the page, unzips itself and pours hot and cold running images over your head, like a stream of consciousness hot fudge sundae!
“The moon spills ancient across my floor, and skills its fingers through my smoke and this is how I know I am alive, when the hard-faced merchant of silver dreams growls through a clouded beard and reels me on the forever snakeskins of the wind.” from ‘La Luna’
“When she talks about that time in Hollywood, I always feel that the sunlight must have spoken with a Jack Webb gravel voice and longed melancholy verses over the fresh and dying bungalow backyard peach trees and that Chevrolet tail fins strung like a tongue licking a dawn’s ocean neck, down the late night boulevard and the Yuban percolated in those huge urns, jacking eyes open to watch the stardust dreamy hours shatter sad hands...” from ‘Notes At Sunset’
KING PLANET is a hearty meal. The intense imagery will fill you easily. I recommend that you take it in slowly, chew thoroughly and do not attempt to gulp it down in one sitting.
“Love Birds” Fred Voss and Joan Jobe Smith Chiron Review Press Chapbook winner 1996
Anyone familiar with the L.A. poetry scene, either as a participant or as a fan (they may both be the same), should recognize the names of Fred and Joan. She is co-editor of Pearl, a semi-regular publication that brings to our attention some of the best and the brightest in contemporary poetry in the U.S., and a damn fine writer herself (more rare than you would expect). He is the award-winning poet, whose work has won acclaim on both sides of the pond (here and in jolly old England) and who actually makes a living outside the “book” industry -- meaning he’s not a member of academia, nor does he work in a bookstore. My god! The man is actually a highly skilled tradesman! They make an interesting couple.
This chapbook reveals a side of their relationship that is not usually glimpsed. You could assume from Joan’s writing that she might tend to gush, but it is actually Fred who does most of that. Joan writes with passion about Fred, her daughter, the trials and tribulations of two creative minds under one roof. Fred writes about Joan with equal passion, a great piece on Bukowski, and the joys of being a poet among machinists in the Aerospace biz.
I highly recommend this collection from the Chiron Press, ISBN 0-043795-33-8, $10, 522 E. South Ave. St. John, Kansas 67576
“Bone Palace Ballet” Charles Bukowski Black Sparrow Press, 1997
I’ll make no bones about it (sorry), I’m a Bukowski fan. I have been one for years, the whole of my adult life (28 years) in fact. I have read most of his books, two or three times, although my collection has expanded and contracted over the years (people have a habit of ‘borrowing’ and then forgetting to return his books). With each new publication, my collection grows; as does my appreciation. This newest book, just barely out, only enhances my opinion of this great writer.
Unlike “Betting on the Muse”, this book is all poems. And unlike previous books of all poetry, where there might be ten poems out of a hundred that I really like, “Bone Palace” literally drips with very good poetry! Don’t get me wrong here, Bukowski is a master of the modern American short story, mixing humor with ordinary events to produce a believable, if not sardonic take on things. But, my money will always be on the poem, the Bukowski poem.
Gerry Locklin has written a lot about Bukowski over the years. He just sent me a piece for next month’s All Bukowski issue; Reflections and Recollections. In it he talks about what he calls Bukowski’s “Art Of The Ordinary”. He refers to the ability to take simple events and chronicle them as just that: simple events. Not to turn them into metaphors for some greater nobility or cause celebre.
In “Bone Palace Ballet”, we again witness this process of observation the he has come to represent. My only regret is that he is not still among us (it’s petty, I know) so that we could congratulate him on another job well done. We can only continue to hold his memory dear and uphold the “Art of the Ordinary” in our own work. This is, perhaps, the best kind of acknowledgment.
“Bone Palace Ballet” is available at most (if not all) bookstores.
Poetry books of interest (four star rating system)
Wolf Mask - Todd Moore, JVC Books (509 N. 12th Ave., Arcadia, FL 34266) $2
(Albuquerque’s own interpretor of Psyche’s badlands, Todd Moore, reveals more of the inner landscape to his readers. If you are a fan of this exceptional writer, then I encourage you to get a copy of this chapbook ASAP! ***)
I’ll be Go To Hell / Art Farmer Suite - Mark Weber & Gerald Locklin, Zerx Press (725 Van Buren Place SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108) $4
(Another in a series of split chapbooks produced by Weber’s own Zerx Press. Quirky poetry from the southwest. Weber’s talent as a wit harkens back to the likes of Twain and Rogers. The standard observational style from Locklin disects the atmosphere of Jazz great, Art Farmer, in concert. **)
The Active Ingredient - Gerald Locklin, Liquid Paper Press (PO Box 4973, Austin, TX 78765) $4
(The newest collection of Locklin from the folks who publish Nerve Cowboy. 30 poems that further demonstrate why this guy remains a fixture (American Standard?) on the poetry scene. His conversational style of writing makes reading an easy task. The observations are easily digested and there’s no need to worry about heartburn as a metaphor for man’s struggle against the forces of God, women or nature, later on. **)
Born Not To Laugh At Tornadoes - Joan Jobe Smith, Liquid Paper Press (PO Box 4973, Austin, TX 78765) $4
(She ain’t kidding. Childhood memoirs from one of the founders of Pearl Magazine, written with wit and just a dash of irony. **)
Driving - Robert Wynne, The Inevitable Press (PO Box 249, Laguna Beach, CA 92652) $4
(Vivid imagery from this talented poet; #51 in the Laguna Poets Series. Wynne’s style is deceptively academic, yet he gets the point across with remarkable clarity. Expect more from this young man. **)
Drink Me - Amelie Frank & Matthew Niblock, Valley Contemporary Press (PO Box 103, Woodland Hills, CA 91365) $5
(Speaking of imagery... two people with too much in their minds and too little time to tell the tale. The editors of Blue Satelite and the Sacred Beverage Press demonstrate their skills as poets in this slim volume. While I preferred Frank’s imagery (more grounded and pithy) to Niblock’s; I found that both styles worked well together. Nice weave, if you get my drift. **)
California Poetry Calendar 1998 - Caron Andregg, Ed. C.A.C. Communications Associates (8288 Gilman Dr., Ste. #45, La Jolla, CA 92037-2639) $10 + $1.50 handling
(53 poems - 53 weeks, plus birthdays. My gawd, what else could you want? Andregg’s got a hot idea here; I can’t imagine why this won’t be available on a national basis by next year. This resolves one of the on-going dilemmas in poetry: how to reach beyond the Coffeehouse audience and expose more people to the talented poets who write (as well as read/recite) poetry. A good cross-section of what’s out there. **)
Cinema - Nelson Gary, Sacred Beverage Press (PO Box 2151, Venice, CA 90294) $7
(The mad monk of Panorama City lays in wait for you... hide your valuables in your sock. This chapbook was the 1996 contest winner for Sacred Beverage Press. Gary’s reading of these poems creates an even stronger impression, but the contents are strong enough to stand on their own. **)
In Memorium - Raindog, The Inevitable Press (PO Box 249, Laguna Beach, CA 92652) $4
(Milestones in passing: Buk, Kuralt, Petterson, Clarke, Sauve... where have all the flowers gone? Some of Raindog’s strongest work to date. **)
Paper Heart - Raindog, LUMMOX Press; 2nd printing(PO Box 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733) $8
(Handmade chapbook sealed with a paper heart, designed by the author. “The yin and yang of lust and guilt reign supreme.” Grafton Haper for Next Mag. “The design is wonderful! I didn’t want to break it open.” Haley Mitchell, editor - Sheila-Na-Gig. Love poems detailing paradise found & lost. **)
Twelve Shades Read - When Words Collide, Graphically Speaking Ltd. (PO Box ) $12
(While the title might describe the faces of the accountants for this group, the book is a nicely done compilation of poems (12) from participants at the 1995 Long Beach poetry festival. Spiral bound and printed on heavy paper stock, this book features poetry by Gerald Locklin, Donna Hilbert, Lili de la Mora, Linda J. Albertano, Luis Alfaro and others. **)
Black Cross (3121 Corto Place, Ste #2, Long Beach, CA 90803) $2 ea
(Number 3 features a number of poets from the Harbor/Long Beach area, including the elusive Whittier transplant, Mr. T. Thrasher. A good cross-section of poetry with strange illustrations (a heavy pre-occupation on cartoon sex & all its ramifications). **)
Damaged Goods - Tracey Lee Williams, Ed. (PO Box 46277, Los Angeles, CA 90046) $20 sub
(Number’s 3 & 4. From a rough beginning, this magazine has begun to show some promise. Number 4 features several on-going columns that could be interesting, including one by noted poetry mogul, S. A. Griffin. Much of the credit for this issue goes to Rafael Alvarado who has tirelessly worked to improve the quality of its contents. From humble beginnings to...? *)
Next Magazine - G. Murray Thomas, Ed. (PO Box 13019, Long Beach, CA 90803) $1.50 ea / $15 sub (12)
(The “bible” of the SoCal spoken word scene, Next has been faithfully reporting the latest news/gossip from Slams to readings all over California and beyond. Its greatest asset is its calendar, which lists over 200 readings each month, as well as the addresses of most of the poetry venues in SoCal. Scene reports from various poetry know-it-alls, help to round out this publication. The one major downfall of this zine is the lack of depth that, unfortunately, goes hand-in-hand with a monthly publication that tries to be all things to all people. *)
Pearl Magazine - Joan Jobe Smith, Ed. (3030 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803) $7 ea
(Once upon a time, Pearl was probably a very important part of the poetry scene in L.A. These days, what with the advent of desktop publishing and the accessibility of cheap printing, Pearl has begun to appear to be a refuge for poetry workshop attendees and old school dinosaurs (from poetry’s hey-day in L.A. circa the 70s & early 80s). Don’t get me wrong, getting published in Pearl is a source of pride & a major accomplishment. Many of the best poets find their way into its pages. **)
SCRAPS #1 & 2 - Steven Booth, Ed. (1621 W. 25th St. #290, San Pedro, CA 90732) $4 sub (4)
(The OTHER poetry zine from San Pedro, the first issue was very raw (stapled in the corner like a memo), but contained reviews of music (Booth has a column in the South Bay Easy Reader) as well as poetry & micro fiction (Raindog) by some interestingly demented poets. The second issue promises more of the same, but with a little more polish. *)
SIC - S.A. Griffin & R.F.J. Alvarado (PO Box 776, Hollywood, CA 90028) FREE/donations accepted
(An occasional “broadside” published by these two arch-supporters of the L.A. poetry scene. Each “issue” (11 X 17 inch sheet) features a number of poems (usually 6-8) by poets from all over - some are known, some are not. SIC provides poets with a valuable means to gain exposure for their writing without the usual B.S. that accompanies most mags. **)
Spillway - Mifanwy Kaiser, Ed. (PO Box 6000-247, Huntington Beach, CA 92646) $6 ea / $10 sub (2)
(Kaiser’s work as an editor reveals an appreciation for the tremendous variety of poetry styles that are currently being submitted to publishers at this level. In the hierarchy of non-paying publications, like Pearl, Spillway is near the top. Perfect Bound, this 100 plus paged collection features poetry that is both thought-provoking and reasonably current. An added bonus is that the number of copies (1000) and its relatively low price allows the newly established poet a greater audience. **)
The Moment (22704 Ventura Blvd. Ste #245, Woodland Hills, CA 91364) $3 ea
(Number 15 features poetry and micro-fiction by writers from all over the state. Jack Micheline, the Beat poet from S.F., S.A. Griffin & Steve Abee (heir apparents to the Beat throne), Scott Wannberg, Ellyn Maybe, Iris Berry, Dennis Cruz, Teresa Willis, etc. The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of L.A’s Poetry ‘A’ list. Anthologies such as this serve to provide historical documentation of the “state of the Art” of any given time (in this case, late 1997). **)
LUMMOX Journal - Raindog, Ed. & Pub. (PO Box 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733-5301) $2 ea / $20 sub (12)
("...enjoyed the Krassner interview (Oct.) as well as the pieces by Frank Moore & Steve Abee." -- Todd Moore, Alburquerque, NM // "Nice work on LUMMOX Journal!” -- Ruel Gaviola (Aug. issue reviewed in Amusing Yourself To Death #8), Santa Barbara, CA // "Keep up the good work!" -- Gerald Locklin (Prof. of English CSULB & poet), Long Beach, CA // "One of the liveliest journals in small press. Well worth the subscription price...Very entertaining and highly recommended." Micheal Hathaway (Editor, The Chiron Review), St. John, KS // "...LUMMOX Journal is a tidy, often-fascinating handful to read and learn about L.A. counter-culture... making a good, true mark on contemporary art and literature." -- Joan Jobe Smith, Ed. Pearl Magazine (for Small Press Review), Long Beach, CA // “... the Buk issue... my god, what a beautiful tribute." Juliette Torres (Poetry Channel - weekly emailer), San Francisco, CA // "Hmm, this looks interesting..." Dustin Hoffman (thumbing through the Nov. LUMMOX), overheard at Dutton's books. **)
LUMMOX Journal / Raindog (Ed. & Pub.)