1. I’ve just finished reading KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money by JMR Higgs and I enjoyed it tremendously. The book ostensibly attempts to explain why Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond of the early ’90s arch pop group The KLF burned one million U.K. pounds on the remote Scottish island of Jura in 1994. Cauty and Drummond themselves have both expressed bafflement over their actions in the years since their fortune went up in smoke. Needless to say, it’s hard to explain and justify such an overtly iconoclastic act, and I heartily applaud Higgs for an audacious feat of research, interpretation and writing as he manages to crunch the JFK assassination, the Illuminati, Doctor Who, actors Bill Nighy and Bob Hoskins, post-punk bands The Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen, graphic novelist Alan Moore and scores of otherwise unlikely characters and events into a compelling narrative that actually withstands Wikipedia fact-checking. If you like mulling over popular conspiracy theories and the dark forces behind them, then this book is definitely worth your while.
2.I had not laid eyes on arguably the best known painting in the Salisbury House permanent collection — Joseph Stella’s The Birth of Venus — until yesterday afternoon, as the massive, florid 1925 painting has been on an American tour since before I was working at the House. It was a delight to finally see this amazing work removed from her storage crate yesterday, and today to help get her restored to a spot on honor in the Great Hall, where the family who built the house originally displayed this important hyper-modern painting. Here’s a tease of what Venus looked like as we eased her back into her place; that’s me on the left on the scaffolding, doing my small part to make sure she was safe and secure, back at home, at last.
3. I frequently write poems about creepy crawly things that you aren’t supposed to write poems about. My body of work includes sonnets to lampreys and to slime molds, doggerel about luminous squid, poignant paeans to microscopic volvox, and all sorts of other rhyming ickiness. While cleaning out the Facebook account, I found another Critter Poem that I’d forgotten about, so I’m glad to be able to copy it into my Poetic Bestiary. Here ’tis, for your own amusement: “The Scallop.”
Such a wonder, this bivalve, this mollusk: the scallop!
His name means “a shell” in Old French.
Though his adductor muscle looks soft (like a polyp
surrounded by snot, in a generous dollop)
to break it, you’ll have to apply quite a wallop
with hammer, or tong, or a wrench.
Such a wonder, the scallop! His eyeballs amazing,
of lovely cerulean blue,
that don’t help him with mating or fighting or grazing
or swimming or sitting or homestead appraising
or sleeping or waking or even hell-raising.
In fact, I don’t know what they do.
Such a wonder, the scallop! No quahogs, no oysters,
compare with his beauteous grace.
Where his neighboring bivalves sit still, as in cloisters,
the scallop is mobile and feels free to roister,
rambunctiously swimming. He bumbles! He boisters!
He sneers at those stuck in one place!
Such a wonder, the scallop! (I said “he,” forgive me,
I’m sorry for being so crass,
since a scallop can be a she, then she can be a he,
or she can be a he, before she be’s a she,
or be a she-he, or he-she, it’s hard to see
which is which, sans boobs and ass).
Such a wonder, this bivalve! I love him! The scallop!
Alive at sea, or deep in sauce!
And I mean that, I do, it is no mere codswallop,
nor something I’d say to impress some hot trollop.
(To check my integrity, people you’d call up
might include my mom, or my boss).