September-October 2017 | Volume 13 Number 5
What’s happening here?
I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. I mean, one a day, now, for weeks. Maybe months.
I stopped counting the hours spent in front of the screen. It’s become a pastime. Finish work. Make dinner. Turn off the news and go watch a movie while eating. Not more restful to the GI tract than an evening constitutional, but so what. One can only watch so much CNN, FOX or MSNBC before going numb with the realization they’ve said it all before – one way or another.
This week’s highlight was three consecutive evenings watching historical fictions based on successive examples of man’s inhumanity to man: “The Promise”, “The Ottoman Lieutenant”, and “The Exception.”
All three were narrowly preceded on my calendar by America’s own “Charlottesville debacle”, when white supremacists and other ignoble groups marched with venom through the streets of one of the country’s great cities, and were confronted by counter-demonstrators whose presence proved to be an invitation to disaster. That shameful event was followed on its heels by President Trump’s equivocation of Nazis and white supremacists, and others whose core beliefs fail to include the annihilation of populations. Why was it so hard for a 71-year-old man to distinguish between right and wrong, when the past 70 years have been spent by most nations trying to right the wrongs that brought on World War II?
Generally speaking, I try to avoid writing or even talking about these things, as individual protest too often feels like spitting in the ocean. We publish Ragazine as a counterpunch to incivility, as a brace against brutality and mayhem, as a reminder that we – many of us, anyway – are better than that. And with this in mind, we bring you September-October 2017, Volume 13, Number 5.
This issue includes two new columnists, Barbara Rosenthal and Michael Czarnecki; a series featuring the work of poets laureate; and an “around NYC” column by our new intern, Greg Stewart, who will be with us for the next couple of issues. Greg is in a graduate program at the New School, and will be assisting on all fronts from editing to layouts to writing his column.
We’ve been operating on a rolling deadline, posting as we go along. As a result, some of the articles scheduled for this issue may not appear for another few weeks. Not meant to keep you coming back, but if it does, then GREAT! A rolling deadline may or may not continue, depending on a number of factors not the least of which are TIME and MONEY. Speaking of which, we are running our annual fall fundraiser (aka, Winter-Spring-Summer Fundraisers). Find out more about that here…
Let us know what you think, what you’d like to see and hear, and how we’re doing. If you have a chance, please check out our Fundraiser page and drop us a dime… we’d love to hear from you.
As always, thanks for reading — and for spreading the word.
— Mike Foldes
Celebrating Rumi: An Alchemical Feast of Food Poetry and Music by Greg Stewart n a blustery autumn night in the Lower East Side I found my way into a birthday celebration for the beloved Sufi poet, Rumi. In...read more
Princess Nokia and Suzi Analogue Rock the House at Villain by Gregory Stewart y name is Suzi Analogue! We gonn vibe tonight!" A whirlwind of light beams out and around the crowd. A wall of sound comes...read more
The geographic wonders of New York never cease to impress. After our sight-seeing bike ride, we took a walk around and ended up in an old building. Many of the buildings on the island have a military history. After all, it was a fort designed to protect New York Harbor.read more
Those days everybody was heading west to California, to the Rocky Mountains, so I went east to the Adirondacks, New England, the Maritimes. I hitchhiked over 30,000 miles, off and on, over three years. I’d head out from Buffalo in Spring, return in Autumn, work again till next Spring and head out once more. I backpacked on mountain trails for days on end. Hitched on expressways, highways, small country roads. Stayed a third of the time in peoples’ houses without ever asking once. Spent time with folks who lived in the country and had gardens, chickens, put food up and lived simple lives close to nature. Through all of those hitchhiking miles I never had a bad experience.read more
Summer's Over, but Don't Let That Stop You... from burying yourself in these fine reads by Mike Foldes Took awhile to get enough traction to settle down and actually plow through anything but a few hundred emails containing repetitive updates on...read more
Meter is often challenging for any poet to handle and it is discussed with easy to understand examples, definitions. It has the best chapter on meter I’ve run across and should help even the most timid poet—or even those accomplished in using it.read more
The name Knockdown Center comes from the fact that the “knock-down” door style, which could be assembled from a variety of pieces on construction sites, was created here in this factory space under the Manhattan Door Factory. Before that it was a glass factory under the auspices of Gleason-Tiebout. The open courtyard space has an overloaded bike rack, a handful of cars, and a few twenty-somethings milling about with cigarettes dangling from their lips and fingers. The theater-style sign draws in anyone who may walk past, with the name of the venue, the promise of a bar, and nothing more.read more
three poems by holly dayread more
There are many in the world who simply don’t care for us, especially in regard to our “empire” status. They see us as a country that continues to bolster its own power at every turn, a country that whether through its power over diplomacy or military strategy will do whatever it needs to do to maintain its global supremacy, especially relative to economic benefit.read more
Violence runs through the United States like an electric current and has become the primary tool both for entertaining people and addressing social problems while also working to destroy the civic institutions and other institutions that make a democracy possible. Needless to say, Trump is not the sole reason for this more visible expression of extreme violence on the domestic and foreign fronts. On the contrary, he is the endpoint of a series of anti-democratic practices, policies and values that have been gaining ground since the emergence of the political and economic counterrevolution that gained full force with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, along with the rule of financial capital and the embrace of a culture of precarity.read more
Currently the circulation of Esopus is about 30,000, with readers in all 50 states and 23 countries. The very loyal base of subscribers is about 2,000. The consistent success of Esopus has been its ability to provide the readership with an eclectic mix of art, as well as the good publicity that has been following it since its early editions. It has been reviewed in The New York Times, along with many international publications which have spread it around the globe.read more
Floating Tales by Jeff Friedman ISBN 978-1-941196-46-5 $21.95, paper. Plume Editions, MadHat Press Asheville NC https://madhat-press.com/collections/plume-editions Floating Tales by Jeff Friedman With an introduction by Daniel Lawless ...read more
Full disclosure: Jonathan Penton is this reviewer’s fraternal twin. That’s right. The author currently under examination was parturated clinging onto my red-hairy ankle. He entered upon this particular incarnation all primed to fuck me out of my birthright for some dribbles of lentil soup the color of blood, salsa and unpainted rust. So, how have I managed, in this strange critique, to approach my rival sibling’s stuff with such an unjaundiced eye? Is it due to the magisterial disinterestedness of my critical faculty?
Perhaps it’s just because—as I’ve suddenly come to realize, now that Bradley’s Complaint has been duly lodged and I’ve delivered myself of my authorial pet peeve—I don’t give a fuck. I don’t even recognize the notion of birthright.read more
A Crack in the Sidewalk Barbara Rosenthal — NYC, Sept 1, 2017. My monthly column A Crack in the Sidewalk is by this first sentence here now, back upon the Earth. Greetings, dear readers! The column logo is what it looked like when it first...read more
Invisible Departures —internally displaced persons, Crimea, 2015 How long before choosing to kiss an angel’s hand, to reach for heaven’s fruit-bearing boughs— the bee not disturbed too drunk— How swollen the seeds of heavy-headed...read more
Nowadays sets up for the outdoor screening of the documentary, "What Lies Upstream?" Screening: "What Lies Upstream" Upon entering Nowadays, I am greeted by the familiar sight of young women in high-waist shorts and tattooed limbs, a common theme in the...read more
Listen to the Music: On the road in South Korea with David Gittens avid Gittens is as close to a Renaissance man as one can get these days, when you include the facts that he's an artist, musician, designer,...read more
R: The Delaware Water Gap is a beautiful, scenic area that people usually just pass through on Route 80 or stop nearby for the shopping mall. How did you happen to find a home there?
LNS: I wasn’t aware of a mall.
I saw a picture of a place on a wall outside a building in the East Village . I was desperate to escape, and it felt like a good idea. There were loads of heavenly crawling and hopping and flying creatures in the area so I knew it was for me indeed!read more
THE ORE HOLE By Thaddeus Rutkowski During a school day, a science teacher took my class on a field trip. We hiked to a patch of trees growing in a crater in the ground. “This was an ore hole,” he explained. “Iron ore was dug here; then it was...read more
The senior nurse leads the march out of the room, clutching the garbage bag to her
respectable spare tire, leaving the night table open and empty.
HARD BIKING by Thaddeus Rutkowski It’s raining, and I’m on foot, heading for my parked bicycle, when I see a bike go by with two umbrellas attached to it. One umbrella is over the main rider, and the other is over the back wheel, as if to protect a small...read more
Within the context of CAPITALISM, it’s important to clarify that we do live in the most advanced capitalist system in the world. This means that to consider any behavior in our society all the definitions related to capitalism must also be considered. In this general sense there are the “open, free market” definitions – where profit and competition are most beneficial and feed into a productive social system, which tends to foster corresponding productive behavior. And then there are the more critical definitions – where profit and competitiveness are seen to continually benefit the rich over others, creating various levels of inequality, which in turn effects a variety of behaviors. Simultaneously cultural instincts tied to money, consumerism, success, greed get promoted, and these instincts tend to effect/fuel motivations for behavior, deviant and otherwise. Of course depending on which type definition might be employed it becomes important to then examine how to address particular behaviors like crime. (For example, if capitalism helps induce certain behavior then do we need to alter its course in order to alter anti-social behaviors within that system?)read more
©Ellen Jantzen Amplification Photographer Spotlight Coming Into Focus n this series I am exploring the realm of one’s environmental surroundings, how it is absorbed into one’s psyche and how this...read more
Any viable attempt at developing a democratic politics must begin to address the role of education and civic literacy as central to politics itself. Education is also vital to the creation of individuals capable of becoming critical social agents willing to struggle against injustices and develop the institutions that are crucial to the functioning of a substantive democracy. One way to begin such a project is to address the meaning and role of higher education (and education in general) as part of the broader struggle for freedom.read more
A teacher or “expert” might say, “Good poetry must ____ and not contain ____,” for instance, or “Every story must _____.” To me, it’s good if I like it. Iread more
Unpredictable Pleasures You’re a shipwreck rusting into sand, but keep the wind’s sighing inside your tattered sails even when the world seems cold as a coffin’s white silk lining. Like the breathlessness of sparks, the unpredictable pleasures of love always...read more
Abu Dhabi, India, Phuket, SIngapore *** Mapping Worlds Polemic *** attina Blue is a painter, designer and educator, whose work stands on decades of dedication to photographic and meditational practices. Her...read more
A gun rack tickles your ribcage when you
make love in the extended cab’s back seat.
You shoot the breeze with angels and sing hymns
that harmonize buckshot and wildflower.
Trump’s unapologetic authoritarianism has prompted Democratic Party members and the liberal elite to position themselves as the only model of organized resistance in such dark times. It is difficult not to see such moral outrage and faux pas resistance as both comedic and hypocritical in light of these centrist liberals have played in the last forty years–subverting democracy and throwing minorities of class and color under the bus. As Jeffrey St. Clair observes, “Trump’s nominal opponents,” the Democrats Party are “encased in the fatal amber of their neoliberalism”[xi] and they are part of the problem and not the solution. Rather than face up to their sordid history of ignoring the needs of workers, young people, and minorities of class and color, the Democratic Party acts as if their embrace of a variety of neoliberal political and economic policies along with their support of a perpetual war machine had nothing to do with paving the way for the election of Donald Trump. Trump represents the transformation of politics into a Reality TV show and the belief that the worth of a candidate can only by judged in terms of a blend of value as an entertainer and an advertisement for casino capitalism.[xii] Chris Hedges gets it right in revealing such hypocrisy for what it is worth – a carnival act.read more
We need to keep everything in perspective. The over-240 year history of the USA is marked by many painful moments, many are far far worse than now. For example, every battle fought during the Civil War pitted Americans against other Americans in orgies of violence, wherein (over the brief course of four years) around 700,000 American died and many more were either physically and/or emotionally crippled. Plus, the dark and painful legacy of that war lingers, in a furtive way, underscoring much of what happened in 2016. In addition, USA is secretly haunted by the fact that slavery endured in America from the 16th Century until 1863. Or, the litany of abuse, betrayal, and genocide that Amerindians have endured. Or, the continuing Civil Rights struggle, which persists. Plus, the tragic list of US Presidential assassinations and murders of other key US leaders, each of these deaths frayed the fabric of our democracy.read more
you follow the vines,
the leafless branches that one day would die
knowing the joy gravitating between your arms
as body and soul come together in the same dance;
More and more, as my life journey progresses, I feel and understand the great need to give greater value to the preservation and care of “Mother Earth,” or as we say in Latin-American world, “Pacha Mama” – by which we mean the planet earth with Nature and all it carries, the very life of its species. That is why I have been increasingly questioning the aspects of the modern world that revolve around a system of generating a prevailing capital, which is increasingly and obsessively prized in the current system, over a human capital. For that reason my political vision comes in hand with any manifestation and tendency close to a more humanistic vision, a vision that dignifies the coexistence between human beings, their habitat and the rest of the species with the preservation of these in balance and harmony of all.read more
“Venceremos” was a cry that I constantly heard. Cuba was a beehive of armed citizens, milicianos and regulars. I knew of the invasion talk back home and I wondered how in the world a country armed in this fashion could be subdued. Little did I know that the debacle of the disastrously failed CIA sponsored beach-head at Bahia de Cochinos and La Cienega de Zapata would be a total route with Fidel himself commanding from the turret of a former Cuban Army battle tank.read more
I am interested in different disciplines and this is evident in my work. As a visual artist, photography is my base and I build on this through images in movement and my body since my past and present life experiences are the starting point of my work…read more
Major Singer In A Minor Key Country Music Awards to Honor Lacy J. Dalton Lacy J. Dalton may be best known as a country singer, but her musical roots go back to growing up in a musical family in Pennsylvania, years in New York City during a decade when Joan...read more
In time for the January 20 inauguration of America’s 45th president, the venerable Austrian institution Wilhelm Show me the Major Label has pulled off a coup of its own…read more
She starts greeting you in your language, releasing throngs of words you cannot understand so that you become irritated. All this is unnecessary. You know she can speak English and so you don’t understand why she insists on speaking your language all the time. You ignore her and walk away, hoping that your conduct puts her off, but she is unfazed, tipping the taxi driver and carrying your two traveling bags into the house, the smile on her face ever present.read more
In 2010 when the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were rolled out, proponents announced some news that seemed to make sense to anyone who had been in the field of teaching a long time…read more
Father Itchy-Nookie lurks simultaneously in all the crannies of this catacomb, his clutch purse brimming with transubstantial gore — Sam knows this without separating either seizured sets of eyelids. To the assembled expatriate congregation, Hiroshima’s chief attorney of nothingness dispenses wads of gristle and scab, flopping them greasily from the chipped rim of a crude ceramic chalice. And, unlike Sam’s present interlocutor, the wads are not even properly cooked.read more
Lauper *** Panik Collective Dancing About Architecture by Matt Kennedy he quote “Dancing About Architecture” has been attributed to Laurie Anderson, Steve Martin, Frank Zappa, Martin Mull, Elvis...read more
As an artist, I thrive on making art that bursts with energy. Using a process I call contemporary in camera art, I create pieces that uniquely possess the vibrant flowing qualities of color and movement.read more
Q: What film make you cry?
A: I’m unreasonably empathetic towards people I’ll never meet, and easily sucked in to a great film. There’s many films that have made me cry. They aren’t always tears of sadness. Beauty can quite often bring me to tears. Off the top of my head, I’d have to say anything that Wong Kar-wai and Christopher Doyle did together. Especially “In the Mood for Love”, and “Chungking Express”.
PLANTING A SEED (For many people) In the back room with Van Morrison. In the back room. In the back of the back room with Duckett & Beaz, back somewhere below purple azaleas, on our backs & on the back of a B&O retiree's gold-plated swan song. In the...read more
In the dark firelight, my thoughts spin to memories of teaching in the 1970s. I remember, as a young teacher, loading (far too many) preschoolers into my van for a spur-of–the-moment field trip, and on a summer day too hot to play, taking them wading in a fountain signed “no swimming.” Then, in the 80s, setting up early intervention programs, deciding how the programs would work —because who, other than the teachers and parents of these young children with special needs, would know what was needed? And even in the late 90s, in the more conventional setting of a public middle school, putting subjects aside for a full week to celebrate Earth Day with the entire 7th grade, hiking, doing trail work, picking up litter around town, making posters, hearing speakers, and helping students create environment-themed fabric squares to combine into a class quilt.read more
I won’t let my kids drive until they’re old enough to steal a car./ We need a President who will fight for the sleeping class./ And for my third and final wish, I’d like, oh, I don’t know, I guess I could use a more comfortable chair./ Just a friendly reminder to have your pets spayed and married!read more
Finding a dealer, for me, is next to impossible. First of all, even since 2004 the art world and the art market has exploded. Thousands of artists are competing for a handful of galleries. The competition is daunting. Secondly, because of my age, I believe I am looked at as a “has been” … a kind of failure, and dealers are reluctant to take a risk with an older artist. They are much more willing to exhibit younger artists. The market is very much youth driven. Maybe … hopefully … at some point my age won’t be a hindrance. There is always the hope that I will be “discovered” …in my quickly approaching old agread more
Queen Kong by Amanda J. Bradley 88 Pages, 7 x 10 Library of Congress Control Number: 2017930503 ISBN: 978-1-63045-038-0 Anticipated Publication Date: April 24,, 2017 Cover Illustration by Mikayla Lewis by Emily Vogel, Poetry Editor Much of classic feminist theory...read more
Now Helen lifted the lamp, surprised by its weight. She needed two hands to wrestle it into the box. A sharp stabbing in her lower back made her cry out but no one was there to hear her. She got down on her knees and rubbed at her back with both hands, tears filling her eyes.
Damn you, Ed. You knew I hated this ugly thing. Twenty years I put up with it, twenty years of parties, all those embarrassing moments when our guests walked up to it, peering at the garish colors, then at me, a question in their eyes.read more
Jeanne Mackin photo Steve Poleskie and his screen prints at the American Center in Belgrade, June 1981 *** A Cold War Warrior by Stephen Poleskie here has been a lot of comment in the news lately...read more
HERON: MONTEREY WHARF, CALIFORNIA Heron, hunchbacked, Drab chapel-grey, Bedraggled loner, Still as a statue On guard, staring Away and stood In a calmness Perfected since birth. What is a moment In unbothered composure? The ridiculous legs, The ungainly posture, The...read more
They learned without even knowing they were learning. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Don’t we enjoy those experiences where we lose ourselves in a topic or a hobby or an interest? I think of the hours I spend on the Jersey shore late each June, umbrella up, sunglasses and sunblock in place, book in hand, lost in a story. All that time, I add to my working vocabulary, to my knowledge of syntax, to my repertoire of voice and cadence … and following the plot, getting emotionally lifted and suspended and dropped, again and again … and when I look up it is time to leave the beach, shower, and find some seafood for supper.read more
In the last 62 years since I acquired my permanent teeth, I estimate I’ve had 177 cleanings, some more vigorous than others, but don’t get me started. Cleanings now average between $75 and $200, the average being $127. I’m already ahead of the game, because Julie charges me only $125 per session. Even at that conservative figure, I’ve spent more than $22,000 on cleanings. That’s what you would expect to pay for a 1983 Lamborghini with auto-glide, to put things in perspective.read more
He likes to imply that he is a very skilled golfer, claiming at times to have a 3 handicap, which puts him in the really good, almost pro category. However many of his playing partners have indicated that his scores don’t seem to reflect the number of swings he takes and/or the penalties he incurs. Nonetheless, like with his other embellishments, his “scoring” is not something so uncommon for many others who play the game, i.e., let’s not make this too big a deal.read more
AFTERMATH Big Sur, California, May 2009 Phosphorescent green flickers against wet dark, fire in another tongue Memorials of trees, stripped bare, black as mummies, stand witness Leaf-laden alders, parchment ghosts, testify in blanched whispers Our dead...read more
TEAHO-- USE IN THE JAPANESE GARDEN The young man and the ancient Japanese flute make sounds like breath and wind, like rain and river, make sounds that soar—like birds— sounds that sing— toward evening’s silence, sounds we are told, of water dripping— from the...read more
Kayle Kaupanger, Unsplash Trump International Hotel And Tower Chicago. Chicago, United States. *** From Kafka’s Castle to Trump’s Tower by Carmen Firan very morning K waited to be called up into the Castle. A...read more
So what does all of this data mean? At 30,000 feet, I believe it means that America’s schools are moving in the right direction. It appears that the United States is closing more gaps than other nations in the world. Compared to the 2006 PISA results, America’s gaps between high and low socio-economic achievements have not only narrowed, but they have closed in greater numbers than those in other nations. Within the United States, however, large gaps between high and low socio-economic groups still persist.read more
I’ve been in a public school teacher for 22 years. I’ve read the progressive pedagogy of the ’60s and ’70s. It stands in stark contrast to political timidity of 21st century teaching. We teachers are not revolutionaries. We aren’t even progressive. We are largely instruments of whomever is in charge and cowards when it comes to standing up. I include myself in all this. I’m scared I might get fired, scared I’ll be APPR-ed out of a job, scared someone will notice me.
But enough is enough.read more
On this first of September, sundown rushed a draft through the practice area. Patrice pulled her papa’s old grey sweater closer. The rest of the singers had been little more than acquaintances; she immediately forgave them their small-mindedness. And she and Agnes had shared nothing beyond Thanksgiving dinner, walks home in the dark, giggles, and naïve, girlish dreams. Patrice had been caring for her mother while other girls learned the tricks to making and keeping friends. Another way in which her mother had robbed her.read more
Echoes of neo-Fascism are not only visible in Trump’s rhetoric but also in his policies. For example, his white supremacist ideology and racist contempt for Muslims was on full display in his issuance of an executive order banning all Syrians and people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. In doing so, Trump has not only made visible, and without apology, his embrace of the frenzied lawlessness of authoritarianism, he has also put into place an additional series of repressive policies for the creation of what might be called a democracy in exile.read more
AFTERMATH Big Sur, California, May 2009 Phosphorescent green flickers against wet dark, .............fire in another tongue Memorials of trees, stripped bare, black as ............mummies, stand witness Leaf-laden alders, parchment ghosts, testify...read more
How to Save Your Manuscript Before It Leaves Your Laptop: An Interview with Cindy Hochman by Ann Cefola indy Hochman peers over a manuscript. On the first page, she has already discovered...read more
“… we have an education system that seems most focused on verifying its own worth, making it ‘too busy’ to be concerned with developing ongoing, civic dialogue. (Especially in these turbulent political times, this should be a top priority, at least on par with developing technological skills.)”read more
My photography work recently published in L’Oeil de la Photographie is part of an older series, which I once created on the theme of “Sheet” (as in bed linens) and the body. Similar to many of my images, I show only details, not a whole body. In hindsight, I notice today that quite often I focused on the bottoms of my models!!!read more
Axid Rain was my highlight of the 4th semi-final night. They call their genre flatrock, which I attempted to google but finally gave up. They’re a hard rock band, in the classic vein of MTV or Huey Lewis and the News, with a fantastic live show. Frontman Yannick Mense, in his leather hat and seaman’s jacket was all over the stage. Pure charisma and wild guitar riffs. All in all an electrifying performance.read more