Wednesday, April 3, 2013

re Denis Wood, Everything Sings

What I'm reading

Denis Wood, Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas (Siglio Press, Los Angeles, 2010) $28


That would be the brief yet exhaustively thorough review of this great thing, or rather what the author calls a "process-thing." 

I could slow down and say, well, what I like fact I will slow down and say that what I like is...

That he insists on what other cartographers leave out. He cites John Cage's amused discovery that no matter what he did to randomize and remove the controlling human hand from his musical activity, there would still be melody at times.  

DW insists that the same goes for what pretends to be merely instrumental or objective:

Those objects still sing.  

In other words, narrative is inescapable.  Mapmakers, as he says or perhaps rants/sings in his interesting and enthusiastic (in the Whitman sense) introduction, try to make a map as merely a set of directions.

Yet sneakily they imply that this map, this set of official lines and numbers and names, is all that is the case.  The map shows what there is.  The rest is not relevant. 

DW says, o no, not so fast, the rest is everything and not only that, everything is singing.

Essentially he maps not a neighborhood as a set of streets but a neighborhood as the experience of the people who live there, in accordance with his theory that a place is not just a place, that people and place together transform each other. 

So there are hilarious and sweet "maps" of things that don't ever get mapped like a color density and shade map of the neighborhood in autumn that is a word cloud of color names. 

And also serious reminders of the political and economic forces and artifacts -- restrictive covenants, for example -- that give a neighborhood its shape and look and flavor.  

A wonderful book/ process-thing....In the same way that DW says a neighborhood is a "process-thing" (not just a thing-thing, a silent motionless object) that transforms anywhere into here and here into everywhere, his book transforms person plus pages covered with stuff into something more interesting or at least something smiling with delight, if not actually singing, since it could be early in the morning and besides the birds are taking care of it here in South Frankfort right this minute. 

If all books were this good, I would use my secret powers to stop time so I could read books forever without either of us -- me or the books -- disintegrating. 
Obscure Musical Facts of Mild Interest

I can call myself a songwriter officially because --  as with some other very old professions -- I get paid for it.  Curious persons can check out my stuff --  the cut and the as-yet uncut -- here: 

Another route which skips the uncut is to check out Jim Hurst's website:

Fans of amazing guitar have already done that, I'm guessing.  He comes out of bluegrass and country but his ears are wide open to other things and you can hear other styles and traditions blended into what he does. You won't be able to predict what he might play next but none of it is showy or random either.  Beautiful singable lines always.  You can tell that by his vocals as well.

He's done tunes of mine on two of his cds

Box of Chocolates

Product Details

Intrepid -- the latest

Product Details

Despite my tunes being on them, they're well worth checking out.

More on Ingrid J

For more of Ingrid Jensen's music, check out her official site:

Only a Partial Idiot

The "author photo" is always a drag but this time I was rescued from it all with a great picture Keith A. Barker took.  It's great because I only look like a partial idiot (semi-dork) instead of a complete idiot and I owe that to his skill and his charity.  If you see it and like it, see more of Keith's photos at

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New stuff of mine out in a handsome chapbook from Acme Poem Company.  I'll put a couple of sample pages up when I get un-lazy but really you can judge a book by its cover in this case.

Available here:

The title comes from an interview on The Checkout ( with musician (trumpet/flugelhorn) Ingrid Jensen, describing the first time she showed up to jam with some people and brought a fake book (full of the chord changes for the standards they might want to improvise from).  They saw the fake book and told her: "You won't need that."  In the recorded interview she does a great funny imitation of the tone of voice of someone cool dismissing something lame.

Instead, they told her, the idea was to play off what they could see out the window.

Since this is what I do, I thought it was a fantastic title for a collection and she was kind enough to let me use it.

I fell in love with her sound when I heard here soloing with the Maria Schneider Orchestra.  You can hear some of them on Youtube.

NPR recorded a great live show of Ingrid's leading her quintet.  You can hear it (and the interview) by going here: