Sunday, March 30, 2014

Famous Rejection Letters Read Aloud

A rejection letter sent to Gertrude Stein, a form letter from Sub Pop (who it is addressed to is unknown), a rejection letter sent to Andy Warhol and a rejection letter from Walt Disney on the basis that there are no jobs for women. The letter to Gertrude Stein is particularly mean spirited and down right rude.

For the full story via NHPR, click here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scientists Claim That Quantum Theory Proves Consciousness Moves to Another Universe at Death

A book titled “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the Nature of the Universe“ has stirred up the Internet, because it contained a notion that life does not end when the body dies, and it can last forever. The author of this publication, scientist Dr. Robert Lanza who was voted the 3rd most important scientist alive by the NY Times, has no doubts that this is possible.

Lanza is an expert in regenerative medicine and scientific director of Advanced Cell Technology Company. Before he has been known for his extensive research which dealt with stem cells, he was also famous for several successful experiments on cloning endangered animal species.

To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lawrence Ferlinghetti Celebrated His 95th Birthday This Week

As the headline reads correctly, wow! what a tremendous spirit, light and life. As the Ginsbergblog says, he shows no signs of letting up. For more coverage of Ferlinghetti's birthday, visit the Allen Ginsberg Project by clicking here. And now here's Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading his poem, "Pity the Nation."


CRUSH from Malek Rizkallah on Vimeo.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Miraculous Appreciation

Miraculous Appreciation
"Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." —Khalil Gibran
Today in our meditation we will experience one of the most luscious qualities of spirit: the fullness of gratitude.
When our attention is focused on the blessings in our lives, we feel connected to everything in the universe. We experience our wholeness and oneness with all creation. When our heart is filled with gratitude, we arrive fully in the present moment, letting go of our regrets about the past and concerns for the future. In this state of pure appreciation, we radiate the light of love to everyone we meet.
Our centering thought for today is:
I nurture my relationships with attention and appreciation.

Today make a list of five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one person and write a thank-you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from him or her. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person—or mail it. Often the people in our lives have no idea how much help, comfort, and inspiration they have given us, and this is a wonderful opportunity to share the love in our hearts.

(This meditation was apart of Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 Day Online Meditation Retreat, for more of these, click the "Meditation" label) 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lenelle Moïse - Mud Mothers

Lenelle Moïse performs "Mud Mothers" at the 2010 Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, DC.

In her debut collection of verse and prose, Moïse moves deftly between memories of growing up as a Haitian immigrant in the suburbs of Boston, to bearing witness to brutality and catastrophe, to intellectual, playful explorations of pop culture enigmas like Michael Jackson and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Be it the presence of a skinhead on the subway, a newspaper account of unthinkable atrocity, or the 'noose loosened to necklace' of desire, the cut of Haiti Glass lays bare a world of resistance and survival, mourning and lust, need and process, triumph and prayer.

Haiti Glass Book Trailer:

To pre-order Lenelle Moïse's Haiti Glass, click here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Raz Simone - Cognitive Dissonance (Review and Free Download)

If you want a glimpse into another human being’s soul, Cognitive Dissonance is for you.

In a world where describing someone as “real” has dwindled down to meaningless, hyperbolic cliché, I don’t want to use that word to describe Raz Simone. The word I’m looking for is honest. Raz Simone is honest. If you weren’t familiar with Simone’s music before this offering, it is clear to see that he is honest on the opening track (and of course throughout the album), “They’ll Speak.” This track is more than a few years old, as I recall first hearing it sometime back in 2009. I probably added to a good 1,000 of the plays on the original video’s YouTube page. Sadly, the original video has since been removed from YouTube, but I was happy to see it included in “Cognitive Dissonance.”

“I can’t lie there’s some days I’m more of a pimp,” Simone offers on the second track, “8 Rangs.” Throughout the track, Simone admits on the chorus that he often lets his phone “rang, rang.” The strings in the beat are intoxicating. The vocal sample which appears to be snippets of monks chanting some mantra’s is a nice touch to the background music, with Simone flexing his skills unapologetically, giving a nice balance to the feel of the album from the heavy, lyrically fueled “They’ll Speak,” on the first track.

“Natural Resources” displays a soulful, funky beat. I imagine the bass line would be perfect for riding through the city with a subwoofer in the trunk. There’s a muffled horn sound appearing and disappearing throughout the song. The piano is crisp. But it is clear that the bass line is the main course, with everything else playing supporting roles, side dishes. Simone laments: “We all turn to some higher power at that last hour, hopefully out of love, not because you’re a scared coward.” Just before he quips rather sarcastically about mainstream Christianity’s views on gay people going to hell. This comes just after he addresses the reason he no longer considers himself a Christian: he can’t tell the difference between people who have faith, but may be ascribed a different label than “Christian.”

By this point in the album, it is clear that Raz Simone is versatile. His cadence on “They’ll Speak” is very immediate. And it’s a lot to take in all in one track. He then transitions to a more relaxed delivery on the following few tracks. On “Bow Down,” he is more in your face, less conversational. The hooks throughout the album are exactly that: they draw you in. They are easily memorized, while his lyrics require much more dexterity and contemplation to delve into.

The album’s title is quite fitting as well. It is quite clear this is a young man who wants to do his best. He’s swiveling between his past life and what he sees for his future. Cognitive dissonance alludes to conflict. The conflict of holding two points of view, ideas, beliefs that may appear on the surface to be contradictions but might also be an ability to accept the world as it is, and mold your own mind, belief and worldview. No doubt every thinking person to ever breathe has encountered cognitive dissonance. For Simone, it appears to be teetering between the street life, its ups and downs, and walking the spiritual path, with its ups and downs as well. This is displayed quite ingeniously in the hook for “Don’t Shine,” where Simone admits: “Where I’m from, when the clouds come out, then the sun don’t shine round here; need your love, your touch, a shelter from the rain.” And this can easily be interpreted as a metaphor. But it could also explain most of the year in Seattle, where it rains all the fucking time.

All in all this is a quality release. I’m going to say it is the best album to come out this year so far. But I am confident that it will stand the test of time. It will age well. One of my favorite parts of this album is also one of the most subtle attributes: the transitions from song to song. Those on Cognitive Dissonance reminds me of those found on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Simone is just talking. He’s adding depth to the coming track. He’s allowing time with the listener where he doesn't have to be rapping, but just speaking honestly from his heart. On “8 Rangs,” he says “I always told myself I would rather die than kill, but when that situation occurs in reality, it’s not so easy.” And on “Thirsty,” Simone begins, “It’s always the best feeling coming back, gracefully falling slowly through the sunshine then finally breaking through the thick clouds…” which he is maybe not so obviously speaking about when he’s in an airplane descending upon his home town, which also happens to be the title of the next track.

I do have a couple complaints about this album. First, on “Hometown,” the title is deceiving. Although it is a dope track, one of my favorites on the album, it isn't exactly about his hometown. It seems to be more about his past relationships and dead-end women he’s met in his life. Simone describes briefly his relationship with the mother of his child. Even in the opening bars, he says “so crazy bitch don’t talk to me.” This is all fine, but the title is a bit deceiving. Next, I feel like the album should have started with “Still Mobbin’” and ended with “They’ll Speak.” It is my humble opinion of course, but “They’ll Speak” just feels like more of a concluding track. But yo, don’t take my word for it, this is a free download, so see for yourself!

Some highlights:

“In my hometown I get fuckin' respect, cuz it’s not who does it the first, it’s who does it the best”

"From slavery to crack babies, to the money that they makin' from us in cages, its amazing how the government can sell a lie"

“Signing six figure checks but ain't a thang changed.”

 “God was in me, how could you say He wasn't me?”

“You walked out the door and let the cold in, and now you’re mad cuz I closed it”

“I have a huge heart, but what’s left in it? The mother of my child won’t let me see my lil man"

“I say all that to recognize a contrast, seein’ where you see a nigga at, in comparison to where I’m from, me and my niggas comin’ from the bottom and the back”

The Kanye West sample on “Natural Resources”

To download Raz Simone's Cognitive Dissonance for FREE, click here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MaLLy Feat. Slug & Rapper Hooks - Hold My Tongue

MaLLy, who released his album Strange Rhythm in 2013, is preparing to release his next album titled The Colors of Black on 4.8.2014. Here is the first offering from that project which features Slug (of Atmosphere) and Rapper Hooks. To pre-order the album via iTunes, click here. To purchase a physical copy via Fifth Element, click here.

Charles Bukowski - The man with the beautiful eyes

It's been 20 years since Charles Bukowski died. To read a great article via the LA Times about moving "beyond the Charles Bukowski American lowlife cliche," click here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Luis J. Redriguez for Governer Poetry Locomotive

Luis J. Rodriguez is running for California Governor. Here's how he's doing his campaign.


For more information, visit

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Wholehearted Life: Oprah Talks to Brene Brown

A professor of social work, Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, studied vulnerability for more than a decade—which led to a witty, soul-baring TED Talk (viewed by more than eight million people) and a best-selling book. Now this brainy, sassy Texan talks to Oprah about shame, courage, faith, her unlikely Internet stardom, and why daring to "show up and be seen" is the key to everything we want in life.

When I first meet Brené Brown at Harpo Studios, where she's come to tape an episode of "Super Soul Sunday," I feel as if I'm reuniting with a long-lost friend. I'm tempted to say, "Girl, what took you so long?" Brené is a research professor at the University of Houston who spends her days poring over data. But when you read her books, it's obvious she's interested in helping people live their best lives.

Since Brené can back up everything she says with research, I believe her when she writes that vulnerability—which she defines as being brave enough to "show up and let ourselves be seen"—is the catalyst for human connection. In 2010 Brené allowed herself to be vulnerable when she gave a talk at TEDx in Houston, an offshoot of the famous TED conference (it stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design). In the talk, she revealed that the more she studied vulnerability, the more she realized she wasn't practicing it. In other words, as an academic ruled by certainty, she just wasn't living and loving with her full heart. This disconnect led to what she now calls a spiritual awakening. In addition to her popular talk (which went viral, becoming one of the most-watched ever), she's written a best-seller, Daring Greatly, about her journey, and how we can all make our lives more meaningful through vulnerability. 
Reading the book, I kept thinking, "This is everything I know to be true." In person, Brené and I turn out to be just as in sync, discussing everything from gratitude and worthiness to Spanx rolls and Southern-isms (when a Texan and a Mississippian get together, the "y'alls" and "fixin' to's" really fly). Brené is so hilarious and real that after our aha-a-minute conversation, I know this for sure: I hope to see a lot more of her—both in person and in these pages—in the future. 

To read the full interview, click here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Big K.R.I.T. Feat. ASAP Ferg - Lac Lac (Free Download)

As the Week of K.R.I.T. continues, this is my favorite offering so far. More to follow. If you're not hip, I highly suggest getting familiar with this great artist.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Paris Review - Ralph Ellison, The Art of Fiction No. 8

"People rationalize what they shun or are incapable of dealing with; these superstitions and their rationalizations become ritual as they govern behavior." - Ralph Ellison

"The understanding of art depends finally upon one’s willingness to extend one’s humanity and one’s knowledge of human life." - Ralph Ellison

When Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s first novel, received the National Book Award for 1953, the author in his acceptance speech noted with dismay and gratification the conferring of the award to what he called an “attempt at a major novel.” His gratification was understandable, so too his dismay when one considers the amount of objectivity Mr. Ellison can display toward his own work. He felt the state of United States fiction to be so unhappy that it was an “attempt” rather than an achievement which received the important award.
Many of us will disagree with Mr. Ellison’s evaluation of his own work. Its crackling, brilliant, sometimes wild, but always controlled prose warrants this; so does the care and logic with which its form is revealed, and not least its theme: that of a young negro who emerges from the South and—in the tradition of James’s Hyacinth Robinson and Stendhal’s Julien Sorel—moves into the adventure of life at large.
In the summer of 1954, Mr. Ellison came abroad to travel and lecture. His visit ended in Paris where for a very few weeks he mingled with the American expatriate group to whom his work was known and of much interest. The day before he left he talked to us in the Café de la Mairie du VIe about art and the novel.
Ralph Ellison takes both art and the novel seriously. And the Café de la Mairie has a tradition of seriousness behind it, for here was written Djuna Barnes’s spectacular novel,Nightwood. There is a tradition, too, of speech and eloquence, for Miss Barnes’s hero, Dr. O’Connor, often drew a crowd of listeners to his mighty rhetoric. So here gravity is in the air, and rhetoric too. While Mr. Ellison speaks, he rarely pauses, and although the strain of organizing his thought is sometimes evident, his phraseology and the quiet, steady flow and development of ideas are overwhelming. To listen to him is rather like sitting in the back of a huge hall and feeling the lecturer’s faraway eyes staring directly into your own. The highly emphatic, almost professorial intonations, startle with their distance, self-confidence, and warm undertones of humor.

To read the full interview, click here.

This is Home

The Off/Page Project presents its latest short film, "This is Home," produced in conjunction with The Center for Investigative Reporting's new report on failures of Richmond, Calif.'s housing authority. 
Off/Page recruited three Richmond poets -- Deandre Evans, William Hartfield-Peoples and Donte Clark -- to work with CIR reporter Amy Julia Harris in the Hacienda and Nevin Plaza housing projects, interviewing sources and walking through dilapidated, mold-infested buildings during her investigation. The poets also worked with drafts of CIR's research to inform their writing. Playing the roles of both documentarian and storyteller, the poets incorporated Harris' findings into their own investigation of the larger socioeconomic state of Richmond.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Diane di Prima's Poem For Amiri Baraka

The great poet Amiri Baraka died Jan. 9. While he was in the hospital, I spoke daily to his wife, Amina, my dear friend. I wrote the poem below the day after Amiri died. He and I became friends in the New York art scene of the 1950s. We were drawn to each other by our work as poets and activists. We fell in love and had a daughter, Dominique. We remained friends all the rest of our lives.

To read Diane di Prima's poem for Amiri Baraka, via SF Gate, click here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Poem and Interview With Matthew Dickman via The Coachella Review

"The world is fucked up and no one should live alone in such a place." - Matthew Dickman

To read the full interview from The Coachella Review, click here.

Country Music

By Matthew Dickman

When the dogs in my neighborhood go wild
over the patrol car’s red and blue scream, the lights hitting
someone’s window like electric tickertape
and I know some of those dogs are biters
because I was someone they bit,
I begin to think about the lives of men
and how we carry the heavy load of muscle,
the rumble and ruckus, without a single complaint
while vulnerability barely lifts its face from the newspaper.
But I’ve been drinking. I’m a little messed up
and there’s something about cigars and bourbon I no longer want
to be a part of. I remember how Kate would slip out
of her jeans, her bra. How she appled my body;
all that sweet skin and core, the full mouth and pulp.
She was like a country song
playing underneath an Egyptian cotton sheet, the easy kindness
of her body finding its way into mine.
But I have a father somewhere. I have a way
I’m supposed to walk down the street like a violent decision
that hasn’t been made yet.
I don’t care how many hours you put in
weeding the garden
or how much you love modern dance. You’ll still slip back
into your knuckles.
You can carry your groceries home
in your public radio tote bag.
You can organize a book club.
You can date an Indonesian hippie with dread-locks
but you are never far from breaking someone’s jaw.
When I was twenty-three I went to a party,
drank two Coronas, and slapped my girlfriend across the face.
I wanted someone to beat me.
I wanted to get thrown into the traffic
I had made of my life,
to go flying over the couch
where two skater kids were smoking pot out of a Pepsi can                  
and talking about a friend
who ollied over a parked car
the same day he got stabbed at the mall.

To read Dickman's poem, The Cows of Point Reyes, which was published in The Coachella Review's Spring 2012 edition, click here.