Thinking of Chris a lot
Kisses in Paris
Puppets in Parks
I'm losing Sleep & have a horde of kids to entertain & feed manyana
but I owed you overtime
Love & communication
Over & out
Sweet Dreams
No Hot Flashes







Yo Smoke, how about some Knut Hamsun? How about some Ezra Pound? How about some Alex Solzenitzen? How about some true cognitive dissidents?

How about some investment tips?

How about some appreciative comments about Sarah Sirhan Sirhan Wanker Winker?

How about some news and entertainment?

How about some pictures of O. J. Simpson's asshole after a month in prison?

How about some Frank Stanford adoration?

How about some toe jam talk?

How about flotsam and jetson and The Jeffersons?

Where is poetry when we need it?
Is it hiding
to escape a huge grant
from the National Endowment for the Arts?
Is it cowering from criticism?
Is it ashamed of having upset the Snapple cart
on Al Franken Web?

There is no poetry.
There has never been any poetry.
like politics
is poopadoodle.

I can remember being so tired
my socks sagged.
I no longer wear socks.

I can remember hanging from the Tri-borough Bridge
and painting an obscentiy
above my name

I can remember thinking
I would die in Vietnam

I can remember thinking
I would die in elementary school
for drawing pictures of Mrs. Criscola
with no clothes on

I can remember thinking

I don't think anymore
I don't dream anymore
I don't care anymore
I don't lie anymore

Redact that

Redact this

I got your redact right here

Where is our Wordsworth?
What is our Wordsworth?
Who is our Wordsworth?

I assume it is George W. Bush.
He has inspired
this nation of miserable fucks
to blame others for their failures
to point at the sky and think about God
to avoid the obvious
to praise the lamest dumb fucks
to hope against reality
to pray for rain
to buy a copy of My Pet Goat
and pretend to read it upside down

Aw, fuck this.

Fuck everything.
Fuck everyone.

Life is good
without us.

So what's the plan, asshole? Tell me what the plan is. I need a plan to get me to a place where I can fully appreciate the absence any plan, including George Burns or God or John McCain, our inevitable next president.

Bend way over and kiss your liberal ass goodbye.

Dr. Faustroll
Sucking Sweet Honey from the Stone



WOW!  An amazing trip.  Thank you for sending "SMOKE SIGNALS" & you GREAT piece "OUR FRIEND MARTIN, REDUX".  I've just turned my partner (also named Mike) onto the site & your piece.  He is a HUGE "Beat Generation" fan starting with "HOWL" & forward.  He is considerably younger than I.  Ever touch base with Viola?  :~))




          I REALLY LIKE YOU, in a lot of ways forget about books and art and people famous ,, it is all bullshit movies and hollyweird,, I just like you with nothing................ just who you are even when you're weird.................... YOU'RE FUN !!!!!!! YOU may have a great MIND!
Amy Koch Johnson


                                    A note on Elvers and Elders

                (from Contributing Editor Richard Schweid’s HERE AFTER)
I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, rising from the table at a restaurant on Fermín Calbetón Street in San Sebastian, Spain. I have just finished my first-ever dish of angulas, baby eels, elvers. They are a tasty specialty of Basque cuisine, and come in a quarter-pound serving of tiny animals that look like two-inch long transparent noodles with a black dot of an eye at one end. They are flash fried in the best virgin olive oil with garlic, and a mildly piquant pepper, and served in an earthenware bowl. They have a faint taste of fish, and melt away in the mouth. During the few months they are in season, angulas appear on local menus at about sixty dollars a bowl. I am an invited guest of the owner/chef, who knows I’m researching elvers and eels, and more food is coming. Already half a bottle of  white wine to the good, I need to relieve myself.
The bathroom is particularly well-lit, with a wide mirror over the sink. My middle-aged belly precedes me across its reflective surface. Skinny all my life, and still so at fifty-five, except for this pouch of flesh that has fallen over my beltline. Gravity exerting its relentless claim. If I took off my shirt I would see my drooping breasts above my fallen gut, the flesh hanging beneath my biceps. Muscles going slack, the toll of the years, my whole body pulled down toward the waiting earth. Just a little while, now, just a little while, as the old gospel song has it.
My mother, nearing ninety, has not been well.
People my age with still-living fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles chart their elder’s progress into the country of old age. We watch as they leave the workaday world well behind, slowing down, slowing down. It takes a lot of effort just to keep body and soul together, to shop, to cook, to stand. The older a person grows, the easier it is to sit, the harder it becomes to rise. Old people have to gather and launch themselves from chairs or sofas. They have to will themselves to suffer the aches and pains of the erect posture yet one more time. Gravity is pulling on them, too. First, people cannot cook for themselves, and then they cannot, reliably, stand up, in an inexorable circle back to the same helplessness with which we began this once and only life. A fall becomes the most dangerous of daily risks.
*                      *                      *
Fifteen miles south of this San Sebastian restaurant is the mouth of the Oria River. It is a black, moonless night in January, and the diminutive elvers, each not a whole lot more substantial than a human hair, are entering the Oria and the other rivers of the Cantabrian coastline. Great numbers of elvers, walls of them riding into the river on the incoming tide. They have drifted across the ocean for more than two years to get here, all the way from the Sargasso Sea, between Bermuda and the Azore Islands, where they began life as leptocephali,  tiny floating larva shaped like leaves, adrift on top of the strong currents that mark the borders of the Sargasso Sea within the Atlantic Ocean. No one knows why some enter the Oria, while others keep drifting until they reach England’s Severn River, or all the way up to the Bann River in Northern Ireland, or to the rivers of the northeastern coast of Italy or the tributaries of the Rhine.

Now, each of those that have elected the fresh water of the Oria transforms into a filament, a ribbon that will become an eel. They move in vast numbers, high in the water on an incoming tide, massing low, down close to the bottom when the tide is ebbing, resisting the pull back to the sea. Their bodies have made the necessary and complicated changes required to go from living in salt water to living in fresh water, and they can only keep pushing forward, driven blindly on by the same force that brought them here. They work their way upriver. At some point, for some unknown reason, they will pick a spot to end their tremendous journey, and will spend the next ten or twenty years living within a few hundred yards of that spot, burrowed in the muddy bottom by day, gliding through the water hunting for food at night, growing to a yard long.  After a couple of decades, their whole adult lives, they transform again, head downriver to the open ocean, and begin a six-month swim without food back to the Sargasso, where they will mate and die. Such is the remarkable life of the common eel.
*                      *                      *
I went back to the States recently for the wedding of a close cousin, and saw my mother fall at the rehearsal dinner. It was not the slowly-lose-consciousness-and-slump-to-the-floor that I had picked her up from a couple of times over the past few years. Those swoons were bad enough, to turn and see her looking far past me at nothing, absent, to watch her body fold in on itself and sag, or to be in the next room and hear the thump of her hitting the floor. This was worse than that. She rose from the festive dinner table to go to the bathroom, as I have just done, and tripped over a toy ball that someone’s child had left abandoned. She went down hard, her thin bones sprawled out on the floor. No bones broken, just a tremendous scare thrown into the dinner guests. She wore a black eye and bruised cheek to the wedding.
*                      *                      *
Angulas do not appear at the mouth of the Oria every night of the elver season. Only when the tide is flowing into the river after dark, and the moon is full or new. As the angulas work their way up the river, the anguleros are waiting for them. On the banks of the Oria stand solitary figures lit by lanterns on the ground at their feet, each with a wide shallow net on a long pole. They wear black rain gear, including a flat, black, wide-brimmed hat, to protect them against the endless dripping of the net. Being an angulero is wet, cold work. The net is not light, and an evening dipping it in and out of the water is not easy, but it is occasionally rewarding. Anguleros stand ten yards apart on the banks of the dark river, each illuminated in a patch of lantern light, black rain gear gleaming, standing there waiting for the elvers to pass on their journey up river, in their single-minded search for a home.
*                   *                      *                                             
Here’s looking at you, ma, I say to the mirror, crossing in front of it on my way back to the dining room.





Oh Moosick Muse,
Golden man, Brother out Law,
A poem for you!!
I hope this finds you well and prosperous.. at least in your heart!

Oh Moose of Antlers
proud and free
come, run in the wind
my heart-ponds  pout in  incessant pools of longing
for what could be and I ZZ..
ZZZZZ, bee, buzz
moose and bee and the century of us, centering in cyberspace, yawning in computer daze, overload of media buzzz,
dripping, drooling,politicians impolitely rob our hearts and  tell us to mind our F.B.I.'s
A.B.C.'s, C.B.S.'s snickering snakes, snickering SNICKER BARS
boosting our sugar intake..
Hey, let's just go around the corner, to the local dive, diner or perhaps- Alices's Restaurant and have not only a greek coffee& ouzo but a double capuccino, an express yourself-oh! ????
I miss you soul mate of the mine (D) mind your manners and do well in school, better yet life!! L'Chaim! Rejoice!!!
That is a command!!
When death browses, Sit Shiva
and Shiva disguises himself in the guise of a deer, a  gigantic guyser spewing granola,, a wise guy..
That is what becomes of ya, when you walk all the way from the great arch in Greenwich village after  seeing the Chassidom dance jubilantly in circles , leaping life, end of strife, walk with me brother, respect our mother, quelling on Simchat Torah & man, you tell me to meet you at the oyster Bar on 42nd street and i do.. You order Oysters and i tremble before God in perplexity.. Yet i remember, I grew up in Oyster Bay without any religion, except hiding  yet being proud of being culturally Jewish & atheist to boot.. In 3rd grade RoseEllen  Stalone, (who's father opened up Pig & Whistle on the Beach in Bayville) took my hand and begged me to ask Mrs. Fritz, our teacher on  lunch duty, MRS. Fritz, is there not God?? Yes, Mrs. Fritz is emphatic there is and  she said with her eyes  to me a young one who had crossed the line to damnation you're a crazy way out there infidel if you ever dream otherwise.. Oh no. i'm in trouble, Big Trouble..
No body knows the trouble I've seen
noboby knows the trouble you've seen
Nobody knows but Jesus..
I wish you all a merry top of the morning.. May the leprauchans rule!!
lord love and duck and she'll coming 'round the mountain when she comes!!!
Written on April 27th, 2008
After an incredible Bill Lauf concert in Milton Hall
Wish ya could a been there!
Milton, CT. U.S.A.
Planet Earth
Love, Leaps, Lizards, Lesbians, Lollipops
Parades and Tarantula Tangos
No Toes
Here Goes
Lator Alligator
I love you
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Drive-By Yodel by Bart Plantenga

I don’t know how it happens, but things evolve of their own accord in life, shoved along by one’s own preoccupations and interests. Example: I’m at Disneyland Paris with daughter Paloma during our autumn adventure. I enter one of the bathrooms and I’m peeing in a urinal when suddenly I hear…yodeling! A yodeling restroom! I yodel along but suddenly think better of it. It’s a post-9/11 world, after all.

"The ear hears only what the soul is ready to accept." -Henri Bergson (slightly altered)
Example two: I’m picking Paloma up from her friend Lena’s house, when suddenly we hear…yodeling—specifically, Julie Andrews yodeling “The Lonely Goatherd.” In the living room, we see Lena’s younger brother watching this Sound of Music segment over and over. “It’s his favorite part,” his mom explains. We commence to yodel while putting on our shoes and coats, and yodel all the way home, as Paloma’s friend Aster and her mom bicycle past yodeling their way home.

Perspective is what we struggle with. As a media-declared “yodel expert” I find most of life’s experiences are siphoned through the search criterion “yodel: yes or no”: a binary filter that colors all experience. The mere fact that I (a grumpy, black-humored meta-fictionist) have written a book about yodeling is manifestation enough that life takes some mystifying turns—chance becomes happenstance becomes synchronicity, and there you have it: a way of life. Serendipity plus synchronicity—that’s as close as I get to religion.

The yodel incursions occur daily, and these phenomena begin to flicker and echo, veering into aural hallucination so that a yell in a train station suddenly sounds like a Swiss maiden yodeling to her goats—and one goat is me. This is how everyday, forgettable occurrences get tagged, recognized, classified, and then written about. This method looks like madness and, this madness comes disguised as (ethnomusicological) method.

My yodel book and CD have led to countless interviews, and have meant being yodeled at and interviewed on the London BBC rooftop by a Ghanaian–Swiss musician-journalist, her precariously lilting yodel floating over the heads of London passersby. But none of this has prepared me for Paloma’s earnest vigilance of yodeling on TV. She beckons from the couch: “Daddy, there’s yodeling!” And I run—it’s a running joke!—to hear the last vocal leap of a yodel as a reindeer skates across a frozen lake during an interlude between Nickelodeon cartoons. Paloma has spotted yodeling onSpongebob SquarepantsMy Life as a Teenage Robot, and a textless McDonald’s commercial, comprised entirely of pumped-up speed-yodeling.

Days after the McDonald’s spotting, some boys walking home from school, horsing around along Amsterdam’s Apollolaan, suddenly burst out yodeling in precise imitation of the commercial. Did I actually flip them a raised fist in solidarity as I biked past?

Things go quiet for a while, and I don’t feel like The Man Who Fell to Earth for a few days. Then one night at eleven I get a frantic call: “Can you give us contact info for a yodeler in the north of England?” It’s like I’m manning a crisis hotline.

Shortly afterward, I receive an email from American exile writer Bill Levy: “Do you know Edith Sitwell reciting her poem ‘Jodelling Song’? It’s fromFaçade. And I have a copy of her declaiming it together with William Walton conducting an unnamed orchestra (1929) on a CD. Very British.” I have now listened to the prim eccentric’s poem a hundred times; I finally realize the sound is more impressionistic nonsense than ethnographic sense and, through word use, somehow evokes the feeling of yodeling in the Alps.

I find myself in a University of Wisconsin parking lot, outside the Lakeside Inn with Arno, the first filmmaker of a yodel doc we are producing. Folklore professor and Polkabilly author Jim Leary has dragged us out here to hear something on his car’s cassette deck. As he fumbles for a tape I marvel at the strange world we live in, where the mundane and ordinary go otherworldly, eerie. As I gaze at the walls, warmed by the autumn sun, I note: “This inn used to be a dormitory. My old dorm twenty-five years ago! They booked me in my old dorm room!” And we laugh. Talk about creepy synchronicity…

We must be quite the sight, standing by the open car door, listening to a cassette of a very high-pitched yodel by a 1940s Wisconsin yodeler, John Giezendanner, who apparently gave up the ghost while yodeling on a Rice Lake stage. Wild, man, wild! Then Jim punches in a cassette of a local Hmong refugee. And she yodels. (She will later yodel for us from inside herSUV in her backyard, posed as if stuck in traffic. But that’s another surrealistic chapter.) I look around, and what do I see beyond the sea ofSUVs? A nostalgic moment frozen in time, like an outtake from Dazed and Confused, listening to loud music on a car stereo, but instead of the Doors, we’re listening to yodeling!

Cultural anomalies, the spiritual segues between the expected and the impossible, are found anywhere—like Madison’s Troy Gardens, where urban dwellers till their little patches of land. Among them are the Hmong—Vietnamese refugees who emigrated to Paris, California, and Wisconsin because they had supported the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Their English is halting, their silence perceived as suspicion or arrogance by the locals.

We’re filming Bee Xiong, a young woman leaning against her hoe, face half-hidden in the shadow of her straw hat, insisting she does not sing or yodel—and then does just that for ten minutes in lilting mellifluous Vietnamese. The Hmong yodel during holidays like New Year’s, she explains. She demonstrates with her finger going up and down—WWWW—just like a yodel. These yodels serve as autobiographical courting songs, improvised bios, personal ads for the opposite sex. When she’s done, she smiles and goes back to her hoeing.

The yodel documentary took us from America’s Midwest to—of course—Switzerland. Here tradition is reassembled to create a sense of not-quite-satisfactory identity as product, so that yodelers and the like perform for tourists and themselves, becoming tourists in their own dioramas.

Muotathal is a typically picturesque Swiss valley that, until thirty years ago, was still surprisingly untouched by the modern world. We met two young guys, Bernard and Christian, who have since childhood helped lead the cows up into the higher pastures in spring and back down in fall. These are grueling but festive occasions, celebrated with various rituals includingjuutzing—pure, a capella, nature yodels—that express a primal communion with the breathtaking and sometimes life-taking mountainous surroundings.

Bernard and Christian yodeled for us in a smoky, schnapps-soaked bar in the middle of wherever. With elbows on tables, they ululated their best duetjuutzes while the rest of the bar’s denizens accompanied them with rumbling bass yodels. We reckoned that we’d truly captured some pristine Alpine blues or Swiss soul music until several days later, when we interviewed the two in Bernard’s spotless apartment in the village of Muotathal. Here we witnessed how all culture is negotiable, and how we are all foreigners and natives everywhere. Bernard and Christian weren’t lederhosen-clad bumpkins—they had cell phones, had been to California and Africa, and were well-read. Although a childhood veteran of a family yodel group, Bernard was also inspired by sixties rock groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival. He plays guitar in a local band (no yodeling, he reassures us).

Meanwhile, I hear from Armand Leroi of the Centre for Bioinformatics, London. He and Jonathan Swire are attempting to apply Alan Lomax’s controversial Cantometrics classification system to show that song (and yodeling) migrated out of Africa with the first modern humans, leaving diasporic traces of similar song styles all over the world.

I receive a phone call from Barbara Hannigan, an opera diva who ventures to the outer edges of human vocals. She’s read my book and noticed that I too live in Amsterdam. She has commissioned a yodel mini-opera by English composer Richard Ayres, so won’t I come hear her perform the aria from Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw? (Ligeti was himself inspired by Pygmy yodeling.)

In between, I receive a message from Stephanie of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus in New York: “Bart, you’re being given a shout-out on Doug Schulkind’s radio show (WFMU) right now, talkin’ bout some yodelling!”

I wander up to my seat in the first balcony of the splendid Concertgebouw. I notice it is row 1, seat 63. I sit down. Magnificent view. Then a woman sits down next to me and says, “Excuse me, do you know who’s seat you’re sitting in? You’re sitting in the seat that’s usually reserved for the queen.” So yodeling has indeed arrived, and I’m allowed to be there to witness it.

Bart Plantenga’s CONFESSIONS OF A BEER MYSTIC is being serialized chapter by chapter in Smoke Signals, though we realize by the time it’s finished he will probably have rewritten it seven more times. Over the last several years he has morphed into arguably the world foremost authority on yodeling. Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World (Routledge); he also compiled the CD Rough Guide to Yodel. He is currently working onYodel in HiFi, a documentary on yodeling, and two new yodel compilations.
This communiqué comes from The Brooklyn Rail.



Now that Bush has vaporized himself
and Neo Cons fade into books on a shelf
and History itself turns like an angel on a pin:
Johne Wayne is out.
Howard Zinn is in.

Perhaps the time is here with no bushes burning
For The Master of Disaster Laughter now returning.
And there's a more compelling need-it's just not fair
There's absolutely no place to broadcast stuff like yours on the air.
Unless perhaps you are a brand name, like Tom Lehrer.
Wouldn't matter if you're a reincarnated Shakespeare.
Consolidation, proliferation, but not one TV or radio station
Too Serious for Satelites, No Public Radio in the Nation
Only exception special occasions  NPR still shleps
the latest show tunes operetta from The Capitol Steps
but real folks cant afford tickets to Broadway.
And if there was no NPR, the Steps would be out of luck.
No place for a truth teller jester to make an honest buck.
And to think I was a Mainstream News Network star
they ran my stories all the time on UPI and NPR
but my R&B Bushwhaked in Wonderland was under their heads.
Like the subway to Anocostia where D.C's homeless can't find beds.

Me thinks the only way you will bite this bait,
is if I a throw a few fresh fish on your plate.
Got lots more, mo' better, and that's no bull
But I must be careful you dont get too full.
Or you'll never entertain a modest proposition;
Come on back Professor-or at least take a listen
Who else but you can keep alive this noble tradition?
Swimming up from the mainstream is a tough transition
for an old reporter it's like being put in rendition. 

If you dont feel like singing your own new song
Lay some names and numbers on me,
Lets re-right this damn wrong.

Love, Respect, & Cheers for all you've wrote and sung
And I got a good gut feeling you will stay forever young

Jay Sapir

Editorial note: Mostly I write over well known-but cutting edge- songs; R&B, Jazz , some country and original "Educational" Hip Hop . approved a proposal
for  Bushwhacked in Wonderland (mostly Stevie Wonder tunes). But I dont have a clue how to produce it, despite decades in pre-digital broadcast news.
I've written much "heavier" songs (first here, is from old Tim Harden classic) but sense  light appetizers would be more digestable for openers.



Terry Southern