Midyear to end of year 1999 Reviews, Poetry, and Readings in RALPH, Arranged by Date
R  A  L  P  H
The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Complete List of Readings, Reviews,
and Poetry Appearing in RALPH:
Mid-Summer 1999
Mid-Winter 1999-2000

Volume XVII, Number 1
Mid-Summer, 1999

Index #V

New Titles
Travelling to Cuba --- even if it's illegal,
Travelling --- or teletransporting one's body --- to Zanzibar,
And sad photographs out of the sad Spanish Civil War.

The X-Rated Videotape Guide VII
"We were baffled with phrases like Suitcase Pimp, Reverse
(evidently a special way of conjoining with the other party),
Pencil Test (we won't tell you) and the omnipresent description of movies
for people almost too weird for the author to describe: raincoaters."

Jacques Derrida and Right of Inspection
"We get photographs of women running up and down huge bare stairs
and in and out of huge bare rooms, men throwing glasses on the floor,
girls made up to look like women, a woman with no hair writing a note to herself...
and enough people smoking to give the Surgeon-General heart failure."

Nobody's Son
"When I moved to Clairemont in fifth grade, I was suddenly
being called the following: beaner, taco-bender, pepper-belly, spic.
My father had warned me about greaser and wetback.
But these new words were spectacular and vivid.
I couldn't figure out what we had done
to make them so mad at us."

Pictures from The Life and Works of Frank Lloyd Wright,
A lurid selelection of Victorian pornography,
And the tragic life of Tina Modotti.

Mars: Discovering the Secrets of the Red Planet
"Mars would go forward across the sky every night,
and then stop, and then back up some,
and then stop again, and then move forward again.
That's the way a crazy planet and a good soldier do."

The Mexican Dalai Lama
"I'll point out to them that there are excellent rewards
for having a home-grown tulku as a son. They'll lose him for a while,
but, later on, they'll get to travel all over the worldand meet
lots of interesting people --- presidents and sourpuss senators and the like."

Pier-Luigi Zucchini
"Zucchini quickly established himself as
the leading exponent of the al diente style,
and his compositions were performed everywhere
with relish on the side."

Deep & Simple: A Spiritual Path for Modern Times
"Getting gas, praying in church, buying a bagel, are all the same Mysterious Miracle.
They live in Love, so of course they are in Love with the gas station attendant.
And at the bagel shop, they'll be in Love with the bagel boy."

Making Tortillas
"The tortillarķa was the world's jolliest sweat lodge.
The heat was always high from the massive sheet of iron kept hot
by eternally burning propane burners. Six or eight women
worked in there all day, sweating and yelling over the sound of a radio.
You could smell the holy maiz heating and sending out its incense all over the street.''

The Seduction of Don Juan
From "Don Juan" by Lord Byron
"And Julia's voice was lost, except in sighs,
Until too late for useful conversation...
A little still she strove, and much repented,
And whispering I will ne'er consent --- consented."

"They say he became deaf --- but it isn't true
the demons of his hearing worked tirelessly
and the dead lake never slept in the shells of his ears..."

A blow to our review of Wind.

Volume XVII, Number 2
Late Summer, 1999

Index #W

New Titles
The Eads Bridge at St. Louis,
Assuming The Position, A Memoir of Hustling,
and the Zen of Pain

Still Life With Old Banana Nose
"A forerunner of minimalism, the still life
makes no pretension to grandeur, metaphysical statement,
symbolism, sex, or drama, but rather gives the viewer something else,
especially if he missed dinner."

The Architecture of Howard Van Doren Shaw
"When we read the ominous words --- demolished --- we grieve for
the American architectural past of leisure and luxury now, sadly, destroyed.
However, in the case of Shaw, we can do nothing but cheer...
He was the godzilla of the turn-of-the-century building boom."

Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages
"Giants, said Edmund Burke, represent tyranny, cruelty, injustice,
and every thing horrid and abominable.
How far we have travelled, says Cohen,
when the present day monster is a jolly green corporate emblem, assuring the consumers
that a certain brand of frozen vegetables is fresh and enticing.

Photographs from Airborne by Lois Greenfield,
Suicidal Poetry by a Disabled Writer,
and a Primer on Basic Buddhism

Dirty Artists and The Clean Rich:
The Horses Mouth
"...and didn't Manet and Monet talk about their theories of art
until the sky rained pink tears and the grass turned purple ---
didn't Pissarro chop the trees into little bits of glass.
And Seurat put his poor old mother through the sausage machine
and roll her into linoleum."

Our Sweet Old Lady of the Mountains --- Part III
"One time I heard Hubert Selby being interviewed on radio," I tell them.
"He said thinks our lives are made up of two things. 'The first is love. And the second is...'
He paused, and I thought for sure he would say 'hate,' but instead, he said, 'fear.'"

How to Deal with the Priests of the Apocalypse
"Being a birthright Seventh Day Adventist, a lapsed agnostic,
and a former intellectual, I don't scare easily anymore because
the Adventists practically invented and copyrighted the Apocalypse,
Armageddon, the End of the World, Food Nuttiness, and a lot of other screwy
but presently acceptable concepts."

The Man with the Moveless Hair
"Why doesn't our Government destroy all these terrible beasts?" sobbed our Miss B.,
who evidently believed firmly in the omnipresence of her government.
"Probably because our rulers save their powder for us, giving us the honor
of being considered more dangerous than the tigers,"
said the courtly Gulâb-Singh.

Fritz Zorn
"I am young and rich and educated,
and I'm unhappy, neurotic, and alone.''

How to Eat Your Fellow Passengers
From "Don Juan" by Lord Byron
"When the food runs out, they begin, as people will, to contemplate a meal
made up of their companions. First there is Don Juan's dog; then his tutor;
finally, they cast their eyes on "the master's mate" who ---fortunately for him ---
had developed a certain social disease in Cadiz which makes the others loathe to consume him."

All In Greeen My Love Went Riding
"Four tall stags at a green mountain/ the lucky hunter sang before.
All in green went my love riding/ on a great horse of gold/ into the silver dawn.
four lean hounds crouched low and smiling/ my heart fell dead before."

The X-Rated Video Guide
Darling, while you're up, will you get me a "Pencil Check."

Volume XVII, Number 3
Early Fall, 1999

Index #X

New Titles
The Wandering Womb,
Self Publishing Made Easy,
The Floating Opera

British Wood-Engraved Book Illustration --- 1904 - 1940
"We'll take these wood engravings downtown to The Blow-Up Photo Shoppe,
turn them into 6 x 12 foot posters, to hang right at the top of the bed,
so we can see it, in love with it, as we are with our love,
every day, and every night."

The Devil's Cup
Coffee, the Driving Force in History
"In someone else's hands, this would be just another a flapjaw story ---
a book concocted by an agent to sell off to a conglomerate publisher
to cater to the Feeble Travel Tale addict, nodding off in his armchair.
Instead, this has to be the cat's pajamas of all travel sagas."

Great Reviews of the Past
From Here to Fraternity
"The world of the fraternities is a world where kids who are too different,
or not handsome enough, or who are a bit strange, get brutalised.
Their difference becomes a flag, something that allows
the Greeks to mock the Geeks."

In a boat, moving slowly down the Ganges,
Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer,
For Esmé, with love and squalor.

Nightlife in Shanghai
"Shanhaikwan, it is interesting to note,
has the smallest fleas in China;
they are much prized by collectors,
but I was fortunate enough to secure
three or four fine specimens."

Gone on the Fourth of July
"Pure O'Brien. He wasn't interested in the stars, or in time,
or even in the history of time. He was trying to get Stephen Hawking
to talk about his feelings --- to talk about this astonishing thing
that had happened to his body, and what it did to his psyche."

Lettre d'Ile de France --- #2
"When devotees of these experiments hold forth, it is as if
the captains of the Spanish Armada, the Titanic, the Andrea Doria,
the Exxon-Valdez, and the ferry Estonia had all gotten together
to offer advice on piloting."

Some Thoughts on the Crises at KPFA
"There is no moral to this except the sad knowledge
that the present crises grows out of a peculiar aspect
of government policy from thirty or forty years back."

Guanajuato --- 1925
"To walk through those streets on a bright,
sunny day was like hearing Chopln's music with your eyes.
More than that, it was like being in among the musical notes of Chopin,
stepping in and out between all the notes and musical patterns."

Mars --- Part II
Fritz Zorn
"The shock was great enough to shake me out of my resignation
and to make me at least notice that my life was intolerable.
If it makes any sense at all to speak of cancer as an idea,
then I would have to say that getting cancer was the best idea I ever had."

The Death of Haidée
From "Don Juan" by Lord Byron
"That isle is now all desolate and bare,/ Its dwellings down, its tenants pass'd away;
None but her own and father's grave is there,/ And nothing outward tells of human clay;
Ye could not know where lies a thing so fair,/ No stone is there to show, no tongue to say
What was; no dirge, except the hollow sea's,/ Mourns o'er the beauty of the Cyclades."

Four by cummings
"The horses sleep upstairs./ And you can see their ears. Ears win-
k, funny stable. In the morning they go out in pairs:/ amazingly, one pair is white
(but you know that) they look at each other. Nudge."

On The Priests of the Apocalypse
and Hustling
"If the author is not worried about the pollution in this big 'empty' country of ours,
clearly he does not live in Washington, D.C. where we have been on red alert for a week
and people with lungs like mine are not allowed to go outdoors and breathe."

Volume XVII, Number 4
Mid-Fall, 1999

Index #Y

New Titles
The Conventions of Star Trek,
Complete Plans for Building Medieval Furniture, and
People and Their Dogs

Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music
"I have just recently bought a toy cellular phone which plays the big theme
from the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth when you press the # key.
Pressing other keys generate rings, dings, beeps, assorted tones, and even
a little gremlin voice which says G'bye and hangs up.
I use my toy cellphone on the bus when all the other passengers receive calls
on their real cellphones, probably from each other."

Singing Lessons
"If you want to give yourself some Judy Collins overload,
you can put Amazing Grace on your player,
and get down on your knees, in the Oval Office,
with The Prez. (Hillary's out of town.)"

Great Reviews of the Past
A Field Guide to American Windmills
"We have names like The Dandy, Everlasting, Favorite,
Boss Vaneless, Sandwich-Perkins, Fouk's Accelerating Air Motor,
Parson's Colorado Wind Engine, The Iron Screw,
and Aquarius the Water Bearer."

RALPH'S Top Ten Books of the Season,
Warm Smiles from Cold Mountain, and
The Art of Bill Traylor

Beautiful Summer at Camp Alton
"In my five years at Camp Alton, I grappled with the question
as to how Hitler could have exterminated the Jews of Europe,
when Jews in America could outdo the Hitler jüngen
with Camp Alton. "

Free Fall
"Philip was from outside, from the villas.
He was pale, physically an extreme coward
and he seemed to us to have a mind
like a damp box of matches."

Joseph Stalin and the New Russian Monarchy
Part I
"In many ways Stalin, tiny, cautious, insecure, cruel,
nocturnal and endlessly suspicious, seems a figure out of
Suctonius' Lives of the Caesars rather than out of modern politics. "
Part II
"The U.S.S.R. ceased to be a society which
imprisoned and killed its citizens on a uniquely massive scale.
Indeed, by the 1980s it had a distinctly smaller proportion of its inhabitants
in jail than the U.S.A. (268 prisoners per 100,000 population against 426 per 100,000, in the U.S.A.)."

We're Brave Only When We Have Choices
"Hope, the article said.
He has hope.
They --- the family, his friends, the reporter ---
don't know what the word means."

You Know What Work Is
"You know what work is --- if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you."

The Ballad of Hans and Jenny
"To love Jenny was like
going around eating an apple in the rain.
It was being in the fields and discovering that
the cherries were ripening like the dawn."

Beautiful Summer at Camp Alton,
How Eric Hobsbawm Missed the Boat about Russia,
And a Discussion about the Various Flapjaws
Who Work as Reviewers for RALPH

Volume XVIII, Number 1
Late Fall, 1999

Index #ZA

New Titles
Classic 19th Century American Daguerreotypes,
And intrusive biographies of J. D. Salinger and Howard Hughes
(who probably should be left to their own devices).

Dr. Laura
"Ballance called Laura his little plum, she called him
her Pillow Plumsicles. She wrote notes to him signed, Your Tottle Bug.
He dubbed her Ku Klux. Why? Because she is a wizard in the sheets.

The Woman of Rome
"Then there are writers like Moravia who get inside their characters
and turn them inside out for you; and the writing is so powerful
that you think that maybe Moravia is a worm, a heart worm ---
one that burrows into the deepest part of woman-soul. Since
he's a story teller, and such a good one, you don't want it to end."

Great Reviews of the Past
We're All Doing Time
"This is the work of a loving man --- a man who has chosen
to work with prisoners because of innate humanity.
He may well be one of the secret saints of our society,
for he goesto those who are trapped,
and offers a simple message: that all freedom lies within."

The Way of the World,
Mama Dip's Patio Cooler, and
How to Identify Your Friendly
(Perhaps Too Friendly)
Neighborhood Vampire.

Secret Government Report
"In short, the proposed operation will
bring necessary government funds into the city,
erase persistent hard-core unemployment,
and give the whole community new self-respect"

A Journey in the Bateau-Mouche
"You stink, you didn't wipe yourself! stop poking in your pants!"
was enough in 1900, and tornadoes of whacks ... for emphasis and punctuation ...
an unswatted kid would grow up to be a convict ... a criminal ... a murderer
... God knows what ... and you'd be to blame ... "

Conversations with Milovan Djilas.
"After the first visits, our conversations become eerie affairs,
because I realized Djilas was always right. He was able to predict the future.
His technique was a simple one for an East European, but a difficult one
for an American: he seemed to ignore the daily newspapers
and think purely historically."

Mexican-American Relations and Jude the Obscure
Part I
"I am not necessarily a fan of Hardy, but
I have to have something to do with my time crossing the border
between Tijuana and San Diego besides twiddling my thumbs and
inhaling great gouts of health-giving smog."

Part II
"We accuse Mexicans of not being militant enough.
What we are really doing is saying that their easy-going way of life
is morally wrong, that they must become a military state like America,
immersed in A No-Holds-Barred, No-Quarter-Given War on Drugs."

Part III
"Like the bishop who burned Hardy's books, none of them
could even guess that they were twenty or thirty years behind the times;
that history had already passed them by;
that their moral stance was just a shadow;
that the world had begun to move on."

M. Degas Teaches Art & Science
"M. Degas/pursed his lips, and the room
stilled until the long hand/of the clock moved to twenty one
as though in complicity with Gertrude,/ who added confidently,
You've begun/to separate the dark from the dark."

Preliminary Investigation of an Angel
"after a few nights/ the job is finished
the leather throat of the angel/ is full of gluey agreement
how beautiful is the moment/ when he falls on his knees
incarnate into guilt/ saturated with contents..."

Disability and "Bravery"

Volume XVIII, Number 2
Early Winter, 1999

Index #ZB

New Titles
Post-Expressionism: The Art of The Great Disorder,
The Treasury of Victorian Murder, and
The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis

How Now Shall We Live?
"His words, and those of Pat Roberts and other evangelicals,
seem to be unequivocal on the subject of capital punishment.
They've forgotten that 2,000 years ago, in the Roman Empire,
crucifixion was the most favored form of capital punishment."

They Can't Hide Us Anymore
"It puts us in mind of Lolita's favorite song,
as reported to us by Humbert Humbert:
And the carmen, and the starmen, and the barmen,
and the starmen, and the barmen, and the carmen."

Great Reviews of the Past
Family Kaleidoscope
"Minuchin's therapeutic technique is a doozy,
culling the best of Fritz Perls, Freud, Alice Miller,
Milton Erickson but --- most of all --- a technique
and an attitude all his own."

The Buddha as your own Mumsie,
Where not to go to find tornadoes, and
Flann O'Brien's Gaelic wit.

The Aesthetics of Foot-Binding
"When a Celestial takes into his hand a woman's foot, especially if it is very small,
the effect upon him is precisely the same as is provoked in a European by a
young and firm bosom. All the Celestials whom I have interrogated on this point
have replied unanimously: Oh, a little foot! You Europeans
cannot understand how exquisite, how sweet, how exciting it is!

Maryland Beaten Biscuits
"As was their custom, the gentleman did the swimming
while the soft lady beneath, locked to him with all her legs,
allowed him his pleasure, which might last for fourteen hours.
Crabbers refer to the male and female thus coupled in their sport
as one crab, a doubler, just as Plato imagined the human prototype
to be male and female joined into one being."

Travelling from India by Boat
"Below us the engines like buildings tossed in their interminable sleep.
Within touching distance a piston like an oak tree
shot up at one angle and down at another.
Everything I touched was quivering
and felt like graphite."

The Rapist in Our Bedroom
"One recent study said that every four minutes,
there is yet another act of violence committed on television.
We must pity our poor battered America, and brood on
our willingness to give free rein to this beast that religiously,
each day, poisons the hearts and souls of the young and the innocent."

Such Interesting People
"My crawl across the living room floor to the phone
was, in its way, as challenging, daring and dangerous
as Edmund Hillary's ascent of Everest."

A Final Letter from the Southernmost Part of the Northern Hemisphere
Happy Bird Day
"The whole of humanity is teetering on the edge,
ready to fall in, but, despite that, my very kind friends
are still alive, still singing, merrily singing that old love song,
Happy Bird Day To You,/ Happy Bird Day To You,
Happy Bird Day Dear Carlos,/ Happy Bird Day To You."

Sleeping Late
"It is terrible/ the little noise of the hard-boiled egg
broken on a metal counter/this noise is terrible
when it stirs in the memory of the man who is hungry."

"In its foul march it tramples vigor down,/ Darkens the soul, usurps the mental throne,
Prays upon the vitals of its filthy slave,/ And drags him early to a hopeless grave."

H. L. Mencken and "The Greeks,"
How to frighten friends with RALPH, and
A Question of Bravery

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