Tuesday, April 6, 2010

[ Milch video ]

Here is a video of a presentation Milch did at MIT - April 20, 2006. In it he talks about his family and in particular about his father.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

[ Susan Howe visits ]

Susan Howe chats with Rivka during the break in our 3-hour session with her this past Monday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

[ NYPD Blue episodes to watch ]

We will all watch and write about - and be ready to discuss - the following NYPD Blue episodes from seasons 1 and 2.

season 1
1: pilot
2: 4B or Not 4B
3: Brown Appetit
4: True Confessions
[Watch episode 4 a second time, listening to commentary by David Milch.]
5: Emission Accomplished
9: Ice Follies
10: Oscar, Meyer, Wiener
11: From Hare to Eternity
16: A Sudden Fish
20: Good Time Charlie
21: Guns 'N' Roses
22: Rockin' Robin

season 2
1: Trials and Tribulations
2: From Whom the Skell Rolls
3: Cop Suey
4: Dead and Gone
5: Simone Says
6: The Final Adjustment
7: Double Abandando
8: You Bet Your Life
15: Bombs Away
18: Innuendo
21: The Bank Dick
22: A.D.A. Sipowicz

And watch the documentary, "Season 2: A Season of Change."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

[ Bed Hangings ]

Granary Press published Bed Hangings - text of the poems in The Midnight along with illustrations around the poems by Susan Bee. "In Bed Hangings, poet Susan Howe and artist Susan Bee collaborate for the first time. This series of poems explores the themes of colonial America and its decorative arts, religion and Puritanism through a visual and verbal investigation of the metaphysics of beds, curtains, and hangings. The poems and pictures play off each other in a humorous, mystical and occasionally mischievous manner." Click here for more. And here is a short review by Marjorie Perloff.

Monday, March 1, 2010

[ "Souls of the Labadie Tract" audio ]

PennSound is now making available Susan Howe's recording--with the music of David Grubbs--of "Souls of the Labadie Tract." Click here for a link to the Howe/Grubbs PennSound page.

Friday, February 26, 2010

[ Milch's new show ]

The Hollywood Reporter runs an update today on Milch's new television series, "Luck." Here's your link.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

[ recordings of Howe reading our poems ]

Here is a list of poems--poems we'll be reading--in the PennSound archive that were recorded by Howe at various readings over the years:

1. "The Secret History of the Dividing Line" - link

2. "Thorow" - introduction - part 1 - part 2 - part 3

3. "Articulation of Sound Forms in Time" - link

4. "Melville's Marginalia" - link

Friday, February 5, 2010

[ Howe set to music ]

Thiefth is a musical performance composed by David Grubbs in collaboration with Susan Howe and recorded in 2005. It consists of a reading, set to music, of "Thorow" and "Melville's Marginalia." It has just now been added to PennSound here.

Below is a photograph taken during the recording of this piece:

Susan Howe and David Grubbs, Thiefth (Blue Chopsticks BC15)

Thiefth is the first collaboration between poet Susan Howe and musician and composer David Grubbs. The two were brought together when the Fondation Cartier proposed a collaborative performance. Grubbs had been an ardent reader of Howe’s for more than a decade, and the opportunity to work with Howe’s poetry and her voice immediately intrigued. In late 2003, the two set about to create performance versions of “Thorow” and “Melville’s Marginalia,” two of Howe’s longer poems.

Drawing from the journals of Sir William Johnson and Henry David Thoreau, “Thorow” both evokes the winter landscape that surrounds Lake George in upstate New York, and explores collisions and collusions of historical violence and national identity. “Thorow”
is an act of second seeing in which Howe and Grubbs engage the lake’s glittering, ice surface as well as the insistent voices that haunt an unseen world underneath.

“Melville’s Marginalia” is an approach to an elusive and allusive mind through Herman Melville’s own reading and the notations he made in some of the books he owned and loved. The collaging and mirror-imaging of words and sounds are concretions of verbal static, visual mediations on what can and cannot be said.

“Thorow” (15:08)
1. Introduction 2. Part One 3. Part Two 4. Part Three
Susan Howe: reader
Mats Gustafsson: baritone saxophone, fluteophone
Nikos Veliotis: cello
David Grubbs: computer

“Melville’s Marginalia” (19:46)
Susan Howe: reader
David Grubbs: piano, computer

Recorded by Ross Bonadonna at Wombat Recording Company, Brooklyn, with additional recording by Tim Iseler at Soma, Chicago, and Mats Gustafsson in Gustavsberg, Sweden. Mixed by DG at Black Faurest. Mastered by Doug Henderson at Micro-Moose.

© 2005 Susan Howe and David Grubbs. Published by Gastr Virgo Music (BMI), administered in Europe by Rough Trade, Ltd.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

[ Howe and Grubbs make music ]

David Grubbs & Susan Howe
Souls of the Labadie Tract

Susan reads. David plays. Further sounds from this duo set on stretching your mind to its limit. Studying poetry has never been so rewarding.

The Drag City is one source for this performance.

Now Wire (subtitled "Adventures in Modern Music") is making this work available in streaming audio here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

[ sources for Wild Nights! ]

Kristen Martin on sources for Oates' Wild Nights:

In Wild Nights! Joyce Carol Oates reveres some of her influences—namely Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway—in a disturbing way. Though unsettling, Oates’ evocation of these writers’ voices and retelling of their last days doesn’t appear to be a departure from her other works. The element of morbid fascination is prominent in these stories—despite the heavy ick factor, I couldn’t help but read on and wonder what was real. For my project, I referred to the sources that Oates used in constructing Wild Nights! and found out (to my horror) that much of the background is true.


Edgar Allen Poe
Oates reimagines Edgar Allen Poe’s single-page manuscript “The Light-House” as “Poe Posthumous; or, The Light-House.” Poe began “The Light-House” shortly before his death on October 7, 1849; he never finished it. George E. Woodberry, who also assigned the tale its title, first published it in 1909 in The Life of Edgar Allen Poe.
Poe’s “The Light-House” is set somewhere near Scandinavia, in stark contrast with Oates’ choice of Viña de Mar. Both pieces take the form of diary entries, but Poe’s begin on New Year’s Day 1796 and continue only through January 3rd, whereas Oates begins on October 7, 1849—the date of Poe’s death. Oates borrows (and mutates) other details directly from Poe’s manuscript. The narrator’s companion, Neptune, becomes Poe’s Mercury, and in both tales, the lighthouse has the exact same dimensions.
More crucial, however, is that Oates’ tale displays the same key sentiment as Poe’s—loneliness. Some of the most resounding lines of “Poe Posthumous” are actually just paraphrased from Poe’s manuscript. For example, Oates’ “For in the night…there came hauntingly to me, as it were mockingly, an echo of alone: strange how I never observed till now how ominous a sound that word possesses: alone” (7-9) is a rephrasing of Poe’s “Besides, I wish to be alone……It is strange that I never observed, until this moment, how dreary a sound that word has – ‘alone’!”
Also of note is a passage in “Poe Posthumous” which alludes to the mysterious circumstances of Poe’s death: “…on a rain-lashed street in a city not familiar to me, I slipped, fell, cracked my head upon sharp paving stones, and died” (5). In fact, the 40-year-old Poe was found delirious and disheveled on the streets of Baltimore; he died shortly after.


Emily Dickinson
Oates’ source material for “EDickinsonRepliLuxe” is Dickinson’s poetry and letters (http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/poetry/emilyd/edletter.htm), as well as photographs from Jerome Leibling’s book The Dickinsons of Amherst. Though it is the most clearly fictional of all the Wild Nights! stories, “EDickinsonRepliLuxe” still does have ties to Dickinson’s biography.
Dickinson’s correspondence with Thomas Wentworth Higginson provides background for Oates’ story. Oates gets the details right, down to her characterization of Dickinson’s handwriting as a “small neat schoolgirl hand that was perfectly legible, if you peered closely” (55). Higginson similarly described her penmanship as “cultivated, quaint, and wholly unique.” She borrows the physical details of EDickinsonRepliLuxe from Dickinson’s own description of herself to Higginson in July of 1862: “I am small, like the wren; and my hair is bold, like the chestnut bur; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass, that the guest leaves.” Even the bit that EDickinsonRepliLuxe enjoys baking is factual. When Higginson first met Dickinson on August 16, 1870, she spoke to him of her household chores, including baking bread and making puddings.
Oates’ characterization of Dickinson in her thirties in “EDickinsonRepliLuxe”—as “always nursing sick relatives. She was an angel of mercy in her household, dressed in spotless white!”—is also accurate (Wild Nights!, 42). Indeed Dickinson was known for only wearing white during this period of her life. The white dress that EDickinsonRepliLuxe wears toward the end of the story is accurately described—Jerome Liebling photographed the famed garment at the Dickinson Homestead (http://www3.amherst.edu/magazine/issues/02fall/authors/dickinsons.html).


Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain
“Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish, 1906” draws from three sources: Mark Twain’s Aquarium: The Samuel Clemens-Angelfish Correspondence 1905-1910, edited by John Cooley; The Singular Mark Twain by Fred Kaplan; and Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain by His Thirteen-Year-Old Daughter Suzy.
Mark Twain’s Aquarium is the key text here—the volume collects letters between Clemens and various schoolgirls during the last five years of his life. Clemens began accumulating surrogate granddaughters in 1907; in 1908 he started calling them “angelfish” and inducting them into the formalized Aquarium Club (Cooley, xvii). From December 1905 to his death in 1910, Clemens wrote to or received from the angelfish some 300 letters—at times the correspondence was as frequent as sending/receiving several letters a week. Clemens even referred to the Aquarium as his “chief occupation and delight” (Cooley, xi.).
So, Oates’ story, though a work of fiction, is not at all farfetched. In fact, the introduction of “Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish, 1906” is a reinterpretation of remarks Clemens made in his autobiographical dictations on February 12, 1908: “I suppose we are all collectors, and I suppose each of us thinks that his fad is a more rational one than any of the others…As for me, I collect pets: young girls—girls from ten to sixteen years old; girls who are pretty and sweet and naïve and innocent—dear young creatures to whom life is a perfect joy and to whom it has brought no wounds, no bitterness, and few tears. My collection consists of gems of the first water,” (Cooley, xvii).
The Aquarium Club period of Clemens’ life is little noted and indeed in stark contrast with how the writers’ final years were originally portrayed. His daughter, Clara, and his official biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, originally preserved Clemens’ devoted family man image, but in reality the Clemens family crumbled after Olivia Clemens’ death in 1904 (Cooley, xviii). Clemens’ angelfish correspondence served as a refuge of happiness in his otherwise painful existence. Oates’ story picks up on these biographical details, highlighting Clemens’ loneliness and despondency.
Save for a name change and some other reworking, the correspondence between Clemens and Madelyn Avery in Oates’ tale is based on Clemens’ relationship with his first surrogate granddaughter, Gertrude Natkin. Clemens met the then fifteen-year-old Natkin in December 1905, while leaving Carnegie Hall (Cooley, 1). Nicknamed “Marjorie” after the writer Marjorie Fleming, Natkin was a pre-Aquarium Club conquest (differing with Oates’ Madelyn, who proudly wears her angelfish pin) (Cooley, 1). The tone of Clemens’ letters to Natkin is void of affection after her sixteenth birthday; the exact same shift takes place in “Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish.”
Oates mimics Clemens’ epistolary style in her version of the letters—disappointingly, Clemens’ phrasing in the original letters repetitive and canned. She borrows some phrases directly from the Clemens-Natkin correspondence: “This from your oldest & latest conquest—“ (Cooley, 9; and Wild Nights!, 86). The repeated closing, “I am the little girl that loves you,” and the sending of “blots” also come from Natkin, (Cooley, 9).
Suzy Clemens’ biography of her father, mentioned in “Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish,” does exist and was abandoned mid-sentence, as Oates states (Wild Nights!, 107).


Henry James
Oates based “The Master at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, 1914-1916” off The Complete Notebooks of Henry James, edited by Leon Edel and Lyall H. Powers; and Henry James: A Life, by Leon Edel.
Oates takes the crux of “The Master of St. Bartholomew’s”—James’ attitude toward World War I and his volunteering at the hospital—from James’ biography. Oates portrays James’ view of humanity in the last months of 1914 as fatalistic: “He did not wish to think that, from this new wartime perspective, all of the Master’s efforts might be seen as but the elegant flowering of a civilization that had, all along, been rotting from within, and was now in danger of extinction” (Wild Nights!, 144). Indeed, in August 1914 James wrote to his friend Edith Wharton of the “crash of civilization. The only gleam in the blackness, to me, is the action and the absolute unanimity of this country” (Edel, 694).
Horrified and paralyzed by the war, James found it necessary to create his own “counter-reality” and immediately became involved in Belgian relief, eagerly accepting an invitation to volunteer with the wounded soldiers at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Edel, 695). He visited at St. Bart’s almost daily through 1915, when his health declined. His pocket diaries from the end of 1914 through 1915 read like a military roster—he records the names of his soldier acquaintances and his visits with them. James took extreme interest in these soldiers’ well-being, going so far as to pay for the dental care of two men (Edel and Powers, 412).
Oates takes these details to the extreme in her story, but yet again, her retelling is not without biographical basis. Though it is doubtful that James sexually obsessed over the soldiers, his behavior toward the armed forces was extremely (and oddly) reverential: “[James] stopped soldiers on the street and astonished them by emptying his pockets of small change for them. He couldn’t keep away from the windows of his flat if he heard the sound of a bugle…”(Edel, 696). These details, coupled with the fact that many thought James to be homosexual, provide background for Oates’ reimagination.
Other details from Oates’ story are also borrowed: James really did rely on nitroglycerine tablets for his heart, he had most of his teeth extracted in early 1914, and he was indeed living at Lamb House in Rye during this time, and (Edel 693-694). James also did become a British citizen in 1915, stating “Hadn’t it been for the war I should certainly have gone on as I was” (Edel and Powers, 413).


Ernest Hemingway
For “Papa at Ketchum, 1961,” Oates bounces off of Hemingway by Kenneth S. Lynn. The bulk of Oates’ story is corroborated by this biography.
For example, Oates’ meticulous description of how Papa planned to commit suicide comes directly from biographical details. During Hemingway’s last years at Finca Vigia, his home in Cuba, he talked often about committing suicide and would even act out his planned method. Hemingway would “sit in his chair, barefoot, and place the butt of his Mannlicher .256 on the fiber rug of the living room between is legs. Then, leaning forward, he would rest the mouth of the gun barrel against the roof of his mouth. He would press the trigger with his big toe…” (Lynn, 583).
Much else of what Oates chronicles in “Papa at Ketchum” is based on fact. In late 1960 at Ketchum, Hemingway’s mental state was deteriorating quickly. He frequently voiced fears that the FBI was after him and that the Castro government would not allow him to live in Cuba (Lynn, 583). In November 1960, Hemingway was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he underwent electroshock treatments. He returned to Ketchum in January of 1961 and continued to work on A Moveable Feast, waking early each morning to write and taking a break in the mid-afternoon to walk along Route 93 (Lynn, 584-585). Soon after, though, Hemingway lapsed into a deeper depression. After an incident in April 1961, when his (fourth) wife Mary found him holding one of his shotguns, ready to load it, he was hospitalized again, placed on suicide watch, and given more electroshock treatments (Lynn, 589-590). In late June, Hemingway was released from the Mayo Clinic yet again, having deceived his doctors into believing that he was well. On July 1, Hemingway and Mary dined with friends at a local restaurant; during the dinner he was paranoid and convinced that fellow patrons were members of the FBI. Late that night, he retrieved the key from his gun cabinet from the kitchen windowsill, pulled out a twelve-gauge, double-barreled shotgun, loaded it, and shot himself (Lynn, 591-592).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[ snack schedule ]

January 25: Jess R.

February 1: Nicky B.

February 8: Sanae

February 15 (Oates visit): Molly & Liza

February 22: Colette

March 1: Jared

March 15: Jess Y.

March 22 (Howe visit) Cecilia & Rebekah

March 29: Lily

April 5: Alex

April 12: Vicky

April 19: Kelly

April 26: (Milch visit) Kristen & Sarah

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

[ before Frank confesses ]

Screen shot from the end of "Trial by Fury," Hill Street Blues, episode 1, season 3.

Monday, January 11, 2010

[ Fanny Howe on Mark DeWolfe Howe ]

“The presence of our missing father trailed us everywhere.”

“Our father was the only reason we were anywhere then; and he was nowhere. When the snow came, the blood-red brick of the city grew white and the ice on the river was a stiff winding sheet that led out to the Atlantic and across to Ireland. The sky was dramatic and emotional at every hour of the day. The war contributed to every shadow and drop; consciousness of its force was made up only of objects and loose parts, of animate and inanimate, of constant motion, wind, rain, hope, dread, and expectation. / That war was like an immense umbrella held high in the air and shadowing our every move. (Even now I can feel its shade, even if only a corner is left.)”

"At that time I had only one memory of my father from the top of the stairs in Buffalo. He was in a uniform and he was saying a hesitant goodbye. Otherwise there were few photographs. He had left his job as dean of a new law school at Buffalo and had left behind his work on the letters and life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. He was thirty-seven. He had been to Europe only once before, as far as Ireland, where he had met his in-laws and where he vowed never to return. He was known to have a dread of travel yet he was gone longer than most fathers."


[ Perloff on Howe's "Frame Structures" ]

Susan Howe's Frame Structures is one of the main topics discussed in Marjorie Perloff's essay, "Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman's Albany, Susan Howe's Buffalo." She describes Frame Structure as an experiment in disjunctive autobiographical writing.

Here is a link to the whole essay. And here, below, are the opening paragraphs of the section on Howe:

- - -

Like Ron Silliman's "Under Albany," Susan Howe’s Frame Structures (1996) refigures the poet’s earlier work. It collects four of her earliest long poems (Hinge Picture, 1974; Chanting at the Crystal Sea, 1975; Cabbage Gardens, 1979; Secret History of the Dividing Line, 1978) in slightly revised versions and adds a long “preface” that gives the book its title. The poems are characterized by their distinctive visual layout: in Secret History of the Dividing Line, for example, the title (derived, minus the word “Secret,” from William Byrd’s eighteenth-century journal of explorations in the Virginia wilderness) appears in the center of a blank page with its mirror image (figure 1), even as the opening horizontal rectangles (the four-line units havejustified left and right margins and double spacing) play on the word “MARK”:

mark mar ha forest 1 a boundary manic a land a
tract indicate position 2 record bunting interval
free also event starting the slightly position of
O about both of don’t something INDICATION Americ

made or also symbol sachem maimed as on her for
ar in teacher duct excellent figure MARK lead be
knife knows his hogs dogs a boundary model nucle
hearted land land land district boundary times un (FS 89)

Here mark refers first of all to the surveyor’s (William Byrd’s) mark made in delineating a boundary between “tract[s]” of forest land. But the mark is also a trace, a sign that points us to specific things that have happened: one thinks of Blake’s “London,” with its lines, “And mark in every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe.” The poem’s opening “Mark mar ha forest 1 a boundary manic” gives the word mark a number of paragrammatic possibilities. “Mark ma ha”: stutter is followed by exclamation, an inability, perhaps, to “mark” the boundary in question. Or again, “mar ha” may be parts of the name Martha, the t missing in the imagined source manuscript Here and throughout the text, “boundary manic” is central to the poet’s thought; she is mesmerized by questions of “secret” divisions, borders, boundaries, fault lines. Then, too, Mark refers both to Howe’s father (Mark DeWolfe Howe) and to her son, as the italicized line on the third page of the poem, “for Mark my father; and Mark my son” tells us (FS, p. 91). Indeed, the frontispiece informs us that Mark DeWolfe Howe’s Touched with Fire: The Civil War Letters and Diary of Oliver Wendell Holmes (Harvard University Press, 1947) is one of the poem’s sources.
On the second page of Secret History of the Dividing Line, we find the following passage:

Close at hand the ocean
until before
hidden from our vision
bulwark, an object set up to indicate a boundary or position
hence a sign or token
impression or trace

The Horizon

I am of another generation
when next I looked he was gone.

The final line is repeated three times on this page and relates the Colonial expedition of William Byrd to the “MARK” who is the poet’s father.
How does this allusive visual poem relate to Howe’s so-called preface, which interweaves autobiography, visual poetry, and the founding and early history of Buffalo? For example:
I was never sure what my father was doing in the army. Then I was never sure of anything what with his rushing away or changing cities and World War banging at windows the boundless phenomena of madness. I remember him coming back to Buffalo from basic training by snapshot once or twice in a uniform. Absence is always present in a picture in its right relations. There is a split then how to act. Laws are relations among individuals.

When Theophile Cazenove reached America in 1789, he realized that Philadelphia was the best scene for his operations because the future of American funds, federal and state, depended on the actions of the federal government. Pavements were in wider space and getting social satisfaction he carried along a letter of introduction from his backers in Amsterdam to Andrew Craigie in New York. The Van Staphorts told Craigie their envoy came to America “to gratify his thirst after knowledge in order to become better acquainted with the Genius of their Government and the objects of their growing commerce.” (FS, p. 6)

The common wisdom would be that these two paragraphs are “straight”—although rather odd—prose; in the first sentence above, for example, the noun phrase “the boundless phenomena of madness” is syntactically but not semantically in apposition to the noun “windows.” And the relation of syntax to semantics gets stranger as the paragraph continues: how, for example, can the poet’s father be “coming back from basic training by snapshot”? Similar nonsequiturs characterize the passage about Cazenove, as when “pavements . . . in wider space” are linked to “social satisfaction.”

How to construe this curious way of writing an autobiographical memoir, a memoir designed to serve as “frame structure” for the disjointed and fragmentary lyric poems that follow?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

[ Joyce Davenport's smile ]

Hill Street Blues, season 3, episode 6, "Stan the Man." Joyce Davenport walks into Hill Street Station and responds with tolerant amusement at a loud "crazy" guy being brought in by several officers.

[ Milch at panel ]

from the "New York Entertainment" blog of New York Magazine, October 9, 2007:

David Milch Headlines Most Uncomfortable Panel Discussion Ever at ‘New Yorker’ Fest

Three things you would have learned at Saturday morning's "Outside the Box" TV panel at the New Yorker Festival:

1. Premium cable is better than a network, at least if you're a TV creator.
Three out of the five panelists (Weeds' Jenji Kohan, The Wire's David Simon, and Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore) all agreed, not surprisingly, that being on cable gives them greater freedom, while David Shore (creator of House, and the lone current network employee) and David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood) dissented. Shore argued that although House can't show as much nudity (though, as he explained, during a successful battle over a bare bottom, an executive said to him, "When you get a nineteen share, you can show a little more ass"), the show's never been asked to avoid controversial subjects. As for Milch, well — we'll get to that.

2. This truly is a Golden Age of television.
At least, that's how you felt after watching the clips from these five excellent shows. Sure, Weeds has gone off the rails this year, and Milch's John From Cincinnati was a wipeout, but there was an exceptionally well-curated panel. And unlike at many New Yorker Fest events, the moderator here, Tad Friend, both knew his stuff and knew when to stay out of the way. Such as when David Milch started — well, we'll get to that.

3. David Milch is either the best dinner-party guest in the world or the worst. Or both.
The fun started about twenty minutes in when Milch, with his nasal midwestern accent and his stubborn back support (the dang thing kept falling off the chair), leaned forward and said, "It's about to become real uncomfortable, real fast." He then held forth on the fallacy of the dichotomy between cable and network (basically, everyone's selling something: on network, it's soap in the commercials, on HBO, it's upper-middle class values, "the same bullshit The New Yorker's selling"); the reason Jews are overrepresented in Hollywood (he asked the panel who there was Jewish; four out of five — including Milch — raised their hands, with Moore the odd man out) and how the "seeming doubleness" of Jewish life makes Jews perfect for the entertainment biz; the inadequacies of HBO in general, including a classic jerk-off hand motion — which is weird, since the channel aired (and, yes, killed) Deadwood and the indecipherable John From Cincinnati; and the David Milch mystique. "When they buy me, they know what they're buying," he said. "'Oh, David Milch, he's nuts.' And that's what I'm selling." He also slagged the clip they'd shown from Weeds, basically dismissed House, and slammed the petit bourgeois sensibilities of, yes, The New Yorker.

All of which was made more interesting by the fact that most everything he said was (a) willfully ignorant (to paraphrase Deadwood, there's an obvious difference between network and cable, cocksucker) and (b) more or less true. Still, you come to see the guy who made Battlestar Galactica, you don't expect a lecture on the seeming doubleness of Jews. So perhaps we should add a corollary:

3a. If you invite David Milch to a panel, make sure you also invite Jenji Kohan.
Sure, her name sounds like a Jedi Knight, but the good-natured, cat's-eye-glasses-wearing Kohan, with her crazed mop of hair and sitcom pedigree (she started on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) was quick to defuse each Milch bombshell with a well-timed quip. The highlight: After a long tirade about The New Yorker, Tad Friend added drily, "Thanks for helping us out, David," and Milch cracked back, "Hey, I didn't see you fly the 3,000 miles to get here. For $500." And Kohan said, "You got $500?" —Adam Sternbergh

Read more: David Milch Headlines Most Uncomfortable Panel Discussion Ever at ‘New Yorker’ Fest -- Vulture http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/10/three_things_you_would_have.html#ixzz0brM9qxOm

[ New Yorker profile of Milch (2005) ]

Here is a link to Mark Singer's profile of David Milch in a 2005 issue of the New Yorker. The title is "The Misift" and the subtitle: "How David Milch got from NYPD Blue to Deadwood by way of an Epistle of St. Paul."

[ new Milch HBO series ]

from the Hollywood Reporter:

Duo tries their 'Luck' with HBO
David Milch, Michael Mann team for horse racing drama

By Nellie Andreeva

Jan 5, 2010, 06:30 PM ET

David Milch is trying his luck again at HBO, teaming with filmmaker Michael Mann on a horse-racing drama.

"Luck," which has received a pilot order from the paybox, is described as a provocative look at the world of horse racing and gambling told through a diverse group of characters surrounding a racetrack.

Milch wrote the project, with Mann on board to direct the pilot.

The two are executive producing with Carolyn Strauss, who, as HBO entertainment president, fostered Milch's close ties with the network.

During his long history with HBO, Milch created and executive produced the series "Deadwood" and "John From Cincinnati" as well as the 2008 pilot "Last of the Ninth," a gritty period cop drama.

Following an early start in television, where he worked as a writer-producer on several series, including an executive producing stint on "Miami Vice," Mann has been largely focused on the feature side, most recently writing, directing and producing the Johnny Depp starrer "Public Enemies."

In a rare foray into TV, he executive produced the 2002 CBS cop drama series "Robbery Homicide Division."

"Luck" follows another HBO drama pilot with a strong pedigree, the Terence Winter-written and Martin Scorsese-directed "Boardwalk Empire," which was picked up to series in the fall.

It joins a pilot slate at the pay cabler that includes the drama "Game of Thrones," in postproduction, and the comedy "Enlightened," which starts production next week.

Milch and Mann are repped by CAA.

Monday, January 4, 2010

[ special projects ]

1) Using the library (and of course the web) as an archive, write your own Howean palimpsest collage history of your family. Before you attempt this, be sure you’ve mastered Howe’s “autobiographical”/family-centered writings, especially “Frame Structures,” “Errand,” The Midnight, “Pythagorean Silence.” Write your own family as an archive (one that extends out to larger cultural and historical territories) in the mode Howe uses. Due 3/15. Rebekah

2) Look at the sources Oates cites at the end of Wild Nights! Look closely at these and write a report that compares Oates’ quasi-fictional accounts of these writers to the sources. In the case of Hemingway, be sure to consult the Lynn biography. Due 2/1. Kristen

3) Read Blonde by Oates (her novelization of the life of Marilyn Monroe) and write a report on it. The report should be written with the intention of informing us about the book – people who know Oates but likely haven’t read this book. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Note: The person who does this project is exempt from being required to read Dear Husband,. Due 2/8. Molly

4) Read three of Oates’ “young adult fiction” books – Big Mouth & Ugly Girl; Freaky Green Eyes; and Sexy – and write a report on them, taken together as indicative of one of Oates’ preferred subgenres. The report should be written with the intention of informing us about the books – people who know Oates but likely haven’t read these books. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Due 2/8. Kelly

5) Research Oates’ presence at Princeton University and write a report about her teaching there, her overall presence and impact. Be sure to hit upon the apparent problem the Princeton environment presents for her: a privileged, ivied, suburban locale for the writer whose imaginative basis and ethic is poor, post-agricultural and post-industrial upstate New York. How involved/engaged is she in the life and community of the Creative Writing program and/or the MFA program. What connection if any does she have with other Princeton-based writers: John McPhee, Paul Muldoon, Toni Morrison, et alia. And what about her former writing students? Have some of them, or many, gone on to make an impact as writers? Do whatever it takes to research and report this. Due 2/8. Jared

6) Read about Hope Atherton and tell us about her. Then find (in the library; on the web) commentaries about Howe’s use of Hope Atherton for instance in “Articulation of Sound Forms in Time” and write a report that will help the rest of us understand Howe’s use of Atherton in that poem. Due 3/1. Cecilia

7) Read books on television (books, essays, whatever) and write a report that summarizes critical assessments of the place of Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue in the history of TV programming. What were—-in each case-—their innovations? What changes did they cause, what trends did they influence? Due 3/29. Nicky

8) As fully as you can, explore David Milch’s life and work before he moved to L.A. to write for Hill Street Blues in the early 1980s. Be sure to focus on his time at Yale. Did his work with Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks at Yale shape him in some way? What possible influence/effect might they have had on him? (Look into the work and theories of Warren and Brooks, to be sure you know what critical – and social – positions they held.) What was Milch like at Yale? What kind of work did he do? Did his work there anticipate his success as a writer for television in any way? Due 3/29. Callie

9) Research and write as fully as you can about the life and work (as playwright and otherwise) of Mary Manning (Mary Manning Howe, Susan Howe’s mother). Due 3/15. Henry

10) Susan Howe and an experimental composer made two CDs in which Howe’s “Melville’s Marginalia” and “Thorow” are set to music. Acquire these CDs and listen and do the research necessary for the writing of a report that will teach us about this musical-poetic collaboration. Does this music enhance your understanding of these two Howe poems? Due 3/1. Rivka

11) Interview (at length) both Milch’s agent (Alan Berger at CAA) and his assistant (Scott Wilson) and write a report, as best you can, about how Milch works. What is his method? How does he write (and where)? How does he relate to the director, the producer, the actors? How did Deadwood develop? When and why did he become disconnected or disaffected from NYPD Blue? Is it true that even when he is not listed as primary writer of an episode, he is really finally the writer? Be sure, also, to find out as much as you can about Milch's new HBO project, Luck (link). Due 4/12. Colette

12) Watch all the videos and listen to all the audio recordings of Milch’s talks, seminars, and speeches. Make a detailed bibliography of these (with links, of course) and annotate it fully, so that the rest of us can keep track of these. Summarize what Milch says at each such event. (Al has a DVD of one of these, so be sure to borrow that. Others might need to be purchased from audible.com or Amazon Video.) Due 4/19. Emily

13) Read all the major critics who write about Emily Dickinson’s “My Life Had Stood – A Loaded Gun,” and summarize each of these analyses. Be sure to consult Gilbert & Gubar and the general feminist “madwoman in the attic” thesis. On Susan Howe's PennSound author page you'll find a brief discussion of feminism in a recorded session with Rachel Blau DuPlessis' class; listen to that. In an introduction Howe gave at the Writers House, she mentions her first negative response to Gilbert & Gubar in passing; listen to that. In general: characterize the 1970s-era feminist interpretation of Dickinson, and compare it with what you take to be Howe’s view of Dickinson as presented in My Emily Dickinson. What are the differences? Due 2/22. Lily

14) Interview the following people about their connection to (and opinions on) the life (and personage) and work of Susan Howe: Charles Bernstein, Jena Osman, Kristen Gallagher, Marjorie Perloff. Write summaries of what these people tell you about Howe. (Find out from Bernstein, Osman and Gallagher about Howe’s role in the “poetics program” at Buffalo during her years there. What did she teach? What kind of teacher was she? Etc.) Note: This project is for two students. Due 3/1. Jess Yu & Sarah

15) Read Oates’ The Gravedigger’s Daughter and write a narrative and critical summary of the book – with the main intention of teaching those of us who haven’t read the book about it. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Due 2/8. Alex

16) Read Oates’ Little Bird of Heaven and write a narrative and critical summary of the book – with the main intention of teaching those of us who haven’t read the book about it. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Due 2/1. Nikki

17) Read Oates’ I’ll Take You There, and write a narrative and critical summary of the book – with the main intention of teaching those of us who haven’t read the book about it. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Due 2/8. Vicky

18) Read Howe’s book of historical criticism, The Birth-mark (subtitled “Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History”) and write a summary of the book – with the main intention of teaching those of us who haven’t read the book about it. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of Howe’s other works we are reading together in the seminar. Due 3/8. Liza

19) Buy the Critical Edition of the famous Oates story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and read it entirely. This includes critical essay and guides for teachers teaching the story. Then look around the web at all the references to this story, especially as it pertains to teaching it. Summarize the critical assumptions and conventions about this story. Compare these to our approach to the story but also to our approach, as it is emerging, to Oates’ work generally. Ascertain and summarize how high-school and intro-level college teachers teach this story. Why do you think they teach it the way they do? Due 2/8. Jessica R.

20) Read Pete Dexter's Deadwood and Watson Parker's Deadwood--the Golden Years and write a report on how these two historical accounts help us understand Milch's partly imagined Deadwood in Deadwood. What do you learn from these two books that will help us understand the series? Due 4/12. Alan

21) This is a two-part project. First, read John Ames' The Real Deadwood and write a report on how this historical account helps us understand Milch's partly imagined Deadwood in Deadwood. What do you learn from this book that will help us understand the series? Second, read Reading Deadwood: A Western to Swear By, edited by David Lavery, a collection of critical/interpretive essays about Milch's series. Write a report/summary of these essays. What are their main concerns, themes and approaches? What are some of the remarkable points made in these essays that we need to know in order to understand Deadwood fully? Due 4/12. Sanae


23) Read Oates' A Fair Maiden and write a summary of the book. If apt, draw parallels to any or all of the books we are reading together in the seminar. Due 2/8. Jenna