Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tal Afar

Chris Hondros Photos (previous event)

Bomb attacks killed 77 people in Iraq on Tuesday, including 50 who died in twin truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar, police said.

Among other attacks, suspected al Qaeda militants killed 21 people in bombings targeting police and Sunni Arab tribes who have formed an alliance against the militants, officials said.

The attacks follow an upsurge in violence in Baghdad and outside the capital in recent days. U.S. and Iraqi security forces have deployed thousands more soldiers in Baghdad to try to stem a sectarian war threatening to tear the country apart.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday al Qaeda was trying to undermine efforts by the Iraqi government and U.S. commanders to court tribal leaders and some insurgent groups to collaborate against the militant network.

One of the blasts in Tal Afar, a mixed town of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen near the Syrian border, was detonated by a suicide bomber near a Shi'ite mosque, police said.

Police Brigadier Karim Khalaf al-Jubouri said the bomber lured victims to buy wheat loaded on his truck. A second truck bomb exploded in a used car lot. The attacks wounded 120 people.

"There was a huge bomb in the street," said one resident, Akram Ali, 27, referring to the attack near the mosque.

"More than 20 shops and houses were destroyed and some are still burning. Firemen are pulling bodies from the rubble."

In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush held up Tal Afar as an example of progress being made in Iraq after U.S.-led forces freed it from al Qaeda in an offensive the previous year.

Near Ramadi, in western Anbar province, a suicide bomber exploded a car outside a restaurant on a main road, killing 17 people and wounding 32, a hospital source said.

The restaurant was frequented by police in an area where local tribes have joined the tribal alliance against al Qaeda in Anbar. Many police were among the casualties, the hospital source said.


Earlier four people were killed in two blasts in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. One of the dead was a military leader of one of Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab insurgent groups, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the group said in an Internet statement.

The group identified the leader as Harith al-Dari, who is also the son of an anti-al Qaeda tribal leader.

The Brigades is believed to have given its tacit backing to Sunni Arab tribes who have formed the alliance against al Qaeda.

Relatives blamed al Qaeda for the attack. Al Qaeda has come into conflict with some tribes because of its adherence to a radical form of Sunni Islam and indiscriminate killings.

Dari's father is tribal leader Sheikh Thahir al-Dari, who is head of the al-Zobaie tribe, to which Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie belongs. The deputy prime minister was the target of an assassination bid last week.

The Brigades is made up of mostly former military officers and is believed to mainly target U.S. soldiers.

Khalilzad, who left his post as ambassador to Iraq on Monday, said U.S. and Iraqi officials had held contacts with Sunni Arab insurgent-linked groups and were continuing to engage them to bring them into the political process.

In a move to address Sunni Arab concerns, Iraq's president and prime minister on Monday approved amendments to ease rules under which former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party were banned from jobs in government and the security forces.

A U.S. combat post was also attacked by two suicide truck bombs and about 30 gunmen west of Baghdad on Monday, but American soldiers repelled them and killed 15, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

The attack on the post in the Garma area was unusual given insurgents do not typically launch such large-scale assaults. Eight U.S. soldiers were wounded.

Monday, March 26, 2007


You watch in street clothes. Why not
accept the easy way, the one
that's offered? The kind one?
Because it isn't easy or kind enough.
It has to be hard
to have brought us this far.

Any time soon
we'll manage to build barns,
paint, lock the padlocks, waive anything
dire. That way, we think it will keep
for us and for a while. Other
than that we sleep, nod
like reeds at the edge of a pond.
Those places left unplanted will be cultivated
by another, by others. Looking back it
will seem good. The majestic verandah.
All the ships numbered.
The hedges grazed
like autumn, or a blight,
like fruit.

-- John Ashbery

Saturday, March 24, 2007


In his aim to make an honest film about sex, John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has taken a somewhat documentary approach to Shortbus, a film describing various New Yorkers' sexual pathos. Framed by shots roving a homemade diorama of the city, Shortbus is comprised of vignettes featuring actors who helped craft this story of people's disconnect in sexual endeavors. Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple experiencing a lull in their relationship, visit Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist whose inability to orgasm results in her clients inviting her to a sex club after which the film is titled. Sophia's husband, Rob (Raphael Barker), is also willing to experiment, so the two independently embark on adventures in self-pleasure. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) plays a crucial role in Sophia and Rob's lives, as her search for real humanity overlaps with their desire for passion. As each character's plot complicates, the viewer sees a similar melancholy bulldozing its way into these seemingly disparate lives. The depression is repeatedly used in comedic scenes, such as when James is asked on a date while still hospitalized for his attempted suicide. Yo La Tengo's score, which includes Animal Collective among others, lends this film a graceful ambience. Unlike porn, Shortbus has a resonance that encourages the viewer to consider one's own sex life as an important aspect of happiness. --Trinie Dalton


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

from : Girls on the Run


The thread ended up on the floor,
where all threads go.
It became a permanent thing, like silver:
Every time you polish it, a little goes away.
Then the ducks arrived, it was raining.
Such a lot of going around and doing!
Sometimes they were in sordid sexual situations;
at others, a smidgen of fun would intrude on our day
which is there to be intruded on, anyway.
Its value, to us, is incommensurate
with, let's say, the concept of duration, which kills,
as surely as a serpent hiding behind a stump.
Our phrase books began to feel useless‹for once
you have learned a language, what is there to do but forget it?
Each illustration changes us.

These were cloistered. They stayed
with us that winter, then went on a little while.
Soon they were back. It was partially time to go out in the opening.
Some enjoyed it.
Then, if they were true,
the blue rabbit heaped bones upon them. There was no going back,
now, though, some did go back. Those who did
didn't get very far. The others came out a little ahead,
I think. . . I don't know.

Look, this is what I am, what I was made of.
Am I therefore to usurp the rose
that blows on time's pediment, wrapping all wisps in a kind of bundle
of awe? But the sundial smiled in the rain, the stile
beckoned, the sign said it was three miles. In the lane the parson's
ambulance pestered gold pigtails, who were in for a shock
of course when the fox returned smiling, fanning his great tail in the corset
of the lighthouses the sausages were so concerned about.
Did the game of stealing please many? Here, on the other side, they were in sync,
their bowls of muesli crooning to the sidelong bats of evening, and then they were let out
to smoke a cigarette in the meadow. No one knew how many
tried to escape, or how many were successful. You had to read it
in the evening's news, and by then sea-cows were weary.
They taxed themselves out of existence. Our raft capsized
and they opined the day was bright with promise, though shut off
from what really happened. It was time for golf.

This was that day's learning.

Finally when Angela could retrieve her moorings they sent the tide out,
but it came back next day, increasingly bizarre.
Bunny and Philip weren't sure they wanted to see more. "But you must,"
Angela urged, breathing a little faster. Then they all wanted to know why it goes on
all the time, and the preacher answered it was due to bats. In the silos. Oh,
I thought you wanted to know, Philip said. We do, but other than you there are two
pails formally, and no one can figure out what is inside. Indeed? Well I'll
take the plunge Philip volunteered. He was always a brave little kid.
Now it was this side of sunset again. Nobody knew which was in error: the stove, or its waistband.
After which the elm buds chanced a summer intrusion
and all the nifty year was almost gone. Well isn't that a catastrophe, Aunt Clara gurgled,
or are some of you please going to take it outside? Aw, but it's raining, someone grumbled,
Why can't we stay inside and have school?
Yes but the quitter must go far out into the bogs. It's time for the badgers to nest
and who is that coming over the hill this time? It's
Spider, Angela suggested.

But as for leaving you all without a tale to tell, I would be daft,
nay derelict, not to insist on where the others have gone. Isn't there a place
to stop, that we'll all know about when we come to it?
Yes there is, she said, we'll just all have to back down
into the gloom, and bait our hooks with peanut butter
which is what they did
and so they left home that day.

-- John Ashbery

Monday, March 19, 2007

So Long, Santa

You were good to us,
but we’ve got to think these things
out for ourselves, check in with you
later – why did I say that?
Not everything has to be
as big and full as earth.

After he found a million dollars in a slot
the boy persisted, dying without uncovering a lot.
It’s good to be painful
because it will come round again
and we won’t be ready:
Barbara Allen’s cruelty, the night wind
biting at scarves, pedestrians hurrying along.

And if I so longed for you as
to make the original millennial blush go away,
us back to our pets, things we had
to learn at school,
I’d be ashamed of my distance
from you, for being indispensable
at times and cures –
just getting the right thing right, for once.

After finishing everything up
I pay a formal call to the broker.
Sherry is drunk
and it will soon be time to think of the next set of circumstances.
Oh hell everything is that way,
this way, that way, twisted in the sun
of endurance –
the back way in then,
the assertion of formality without
a celebration next time.
That’s all any of us gets,
why I am happy with you, alone, just us.

-- John Ashbery

Thursday, March 15, 2007

472 Clipper Street San Francisco 1976

I come from a rich family of grief, criers & sexual & emotional failure.
There isn't a better lover on the block: sexually dynamite, his moustache.
One evening at home we three roomates watched midnight t.v.
This was San Francisco, 1976. Memory was very real and present.
Every year after 1977, in August, on the 19th we would celebrate Brad.
When the telephone rang you never knew what would be the next catastrophe.

Men, women, boys & girls; puppy dogs kittens and cats loved this catastrophe.
Of the three of us, Sally was perhaps the only one who was not a failure.
Geof would often remind himself that love had everything to do about Brad.
He was involved: involved with the sacred geometry of Brad's moustache.
Roxie Music on the turntable. Failure, happiness, harmony were not present
In our lives. We struggled to remember we had purpose: a role in a movie or on t.v.

"I don't care what you want, I want you out of the house" screams the t.v.
"We've a lesson to learn". We've a few good crys before real catastrophe
hits us with the truth: Brad wasn't who he said he was. He was never present
long enough to share even the simplest of moments. a real Failure
a jerk, a blockhead a fuckin angel dust direlect with a brunette smile & moustache.

we went on loving him, loving him for years loving him loving Brad.

bryan ferry has the voice of a magician of a saint of a god said Brad.
living on Clipper Street in 1976 and 1977 was like being in a show on t.v.
it isn't so much remembering the wetness of his tongue and nibbling his moustache
as it is trying to imagine all the others eating away at him: shadowy catastrophes
lurking in the near future: dead bodies, dust, muggings, & the great failure
of love and loving. gnawing away at my memories today in the present.

Sally escaped intact. When the stabilizing element was no longer present
the entire Jules & Jim lifestyle in reverse crumbled. prevented from loving Brad
by the memories of having known him: does the past always come off as a failure?
Single-minded. careless. giddy and hermetic: that's the kind of t.v.
I'd like to see. Brad in some starring role of Love in the Age of Catastrophe.
Sally collaging photographs and scanning images of brunette moustaches.

I pretend to my memories. Stay home. Grow my hair long. gray moustache.
Cocteau's beauty & the beast continues to speak in the present.
there is no better lover than justice. what better lover be catastrophe
just to see you still with long stories to tell all written with Brad.

the impossibility of words. the pleasure to be rich with failure.
deadbeats poets artists and singers. moustache.
smiles and leaves me to me. his favorite catastrophe.

-- Jeff Wietor
(thanks Michael Kretz for the restoration & Brad Bell for starring in the role of a lifetime)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


And as you were indulging in the thesaurus,
or, more precisely, being indulged,
the word-rabbits came hippity-hopping along.
Soon it was dusk. The weary river passed
to ask you the same song over again; the birds
(who knew it all by now) were silent;
and it was time to mold the analytical
to the time-sensitive. That is,
to say that it had happened and we were
no worse for it. Indeed, the sky
and nearby barns seemed about to chime
as we were getting our stuff together, ready
to leave, as always, though no quite decided
what tributes to accept, if night should bring any.

What a chump! Excuse me . . .
It is to the wind and the wildflowers I address these
afterthoughts, if they can be dignified
as such. And I digress, too,
in the gloaming where all can be finessed
as we are incurably, undeniably aging,
only I can't tell what that feels like --
It's so true! Not when, but if.
But we'll know it before it happens -- we'll
recognize us from the way we look at each other,
not from any urgent movement forward
or anything like that.

-- John Ashbery

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007


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