Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interview with an Astronaut (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of an interview with my cousin, an astronaut named Raymond Colby. We conducted the interview via email last Monday, April 25th. Raymond currently lives in Austin, Texas where he is a professor of Physics at The University of Texas. He travelled to space on the shuttle seven times from 2000-2005. I'm really thrilled to share the interview here. Thanks Raymond!

Me: Raymond, you've been to space 7 times, what is something you recall from being up there that you'd like to share?

Raymond: I remember the terrible smell of the suits we wear, which are largely made of graphite and a pliable titanium called "Motional." It doesn't exactly breathe well, so any sweating one does in the suit basically remains in the suit and stays fairly damp for hours.

Me: Is there an evacuation hole?

Raymond: Ha! I knew you'd go there. Yes, the suits have a removable waist that allows us to remove waste, so to speak.

Me: Did you ever have a freak out scene in outer space?

Raymond: Once I was the only one awake in the shuttle in 2003 and we were coming up over the Strait of Gibraltar and I swore I saw a prism that looked like a face coming over the edge of the earth. It was probably a solar flare of some sort but for about 10-seconds or so I could have sworn it was a face peering over the edge of the earth. That's basically the biggest freak out I've had out there.

Me: Anything floating around up there that you've seen?

Raymond: There is a considerable amount of debris up there. Old satellite parts no bigger than a peanut tend to cluster together in zero gravity (we actually call them "nut clusters"). They're mostly harmless but when we pass through them it would always startle me with the odd clanging as the cluster dispersed as we'd pass through it. The other thing is the way things sound in space. It's almost as though everything is amplified through very cheap car speakers. Even other astronaut's voices take on a tinny quality that seems to be lacking any bottom or bass. It's unnerving at first, but one becomes accustomed pretty quickly.

Me: Why does this happen?

Raymond: Everything outside of the earth's atmosphere is negatively charged meaning that even sound is made of waves and particles so the heavier parts of our speech are drawn away and dissipated so all that is left are the so-called lighter parts of speech and sound. The human ear detects sound only through this extraction of sound particles, so when this process is interrupted all we are able to sense is the lack of heavy particles in the bits of sound we receive, hence the experience of sound as being "tinny" in outer space. Dr. Neal London has done a number of very interesting sound experiments in space that can be seen on youtube. The most interesting one he did was recording the sound of a baby crying (it was his son!) and playing the recording outside the shuttle from a speaker directly into space. He placed a microphone on the nose of the shuttle and the sound that he recorded sounded like a stadium full of crying babies. It was largely due to the "doubler effect" where sound waves are magnified and multiplied in space due to the lack of a central cavity for sound to nestle in without a constrained receiving zone. It's funny, but the old movie tagline that "no one hears you scream in space" isn't true at all, in fact, if you scream in space it would sound like a symphony of metallic screams in a hollow convention hall. An apt analogy is to imagine sound being the size of your hand and space being a glove that is the size of Vermont; you'd never be able to touch all the ends of the finger holes simultaneously. It was a pretty revolutionary discovery. There is a composer here in Austin named Gilbert Wall who is trying to get NASA to allow him to play a recording of a violin concerto he recorded and then broadcast it and re-record it in space in order to to give the original recording the "doubler effect." It would probably be the most expensive recording session ever.

Me: Indeed!

Part 2 of this interview will appear later this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Top 10

1) The future of magic and technology brought to me by iPhone.

2) Tune Yards in The Rabbit Hut.

3) The new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations by John Ashbery.

4) Richard Hell saying Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations reminded him of Walt Disney's "Fantasia."

5) See you here tonight!

6) Windsor Dentistry: I've been crowned!

7) Sunny Friday Bliss Sensation.

8) Arizona countdown.

9) Tara's Kindle: Hello Future.

10) Open City by Teju Cole (let me repeat: great book).

Thursday, April 28, 2011


It is this expansive feeling
something might be soaring
blown into brilliance
startled by the ebullience
of morning. Oh Brooklyn, you are submerged
in tangerine water. It's really something
to make a face wake up.
The function of aluminum boats
is to enforce capital
within a framework of labor
getting us from here to there
by adhering to sullen achievement
while stumbling on our
way to work--bones into dust
for what? The theory of the lemon
on a stick to the tune of now you owe us?
That's not what we signed up
for in the heat of the moment
the Botanic Garden is surely greener
than the representation
promised on a membership card.
Merit is always rewarded
with a shivering whisper and then
people draw conclusions and leave.
I'm lonesome for nothing
but that lonesome feeling before
the word left the hole
where you were.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

William Forsythe - One Flat Thing, Reproduced

This is one of my all time favorite dance pieces. I saw it at BAM a few years ago and was absolutely blown away. I'm glad it's up on youtube now. Enjoy! xo

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Songs

Tuesday Top 10

1) Crowns: all the cool kids are wearing them.

2) Wild Ginger.

3) The Freud Coffee Cup.

4) Up at 3 but fell back asleep, sweet.

5) Trees suddenly in full bloom craziness.

6) You, my silver Bianchi and Prospect Park.

7) German gossip magazine headline: "Flirt Alert."

8) Bodum: 4-cups of zaniness.

9) The hum of the fridge: entrancing.

10) It just goes to show you.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Friday, April 22, 2011


Click image to enlarge. On May 11th I'll be doing something special with the incredibly talented drummer Jason Nazary. You're invited!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

See You Soon

We customized the bed because
we could see the end coming
"you can grasp it," you said, "with tongs!"
lifting your spirit enough to see what
passes for a delightful method
of simply walking up Union Street without
spazzing out entirely naked I love
you with or without clothes nobody likes
you but me and we are all set to discover
some broad new shine on the day
you can see it like tin around a potato.

Kurt Vile -He's Alright

Thursday is My Friday

Highway Story

We load the car and we get on our
way to that other landscape. The sea is
stalling. The light blue is masking
the whale washed up on the shore.
The kids are into that. Then more driving
into oblivion. More Stuckey's pralines,
more car identification, more memory
tricks running through the alphabet
with something for every letter-
can you remember the list from a to z?
A bright blue animal built
of puffs of air. Chemical blue hair,
then the candy lions and the mope
around ones with the sad tails-
they are in our highway story.
A rolled car just once and some
mashed brain story and some incident
with a cop story about speeding.
Then a motel and cigar box full of shells,
then sunburn, then jellyfish, then sleep.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lou Reed - Street Hassle

"Sha la la la la neither one regretted a thing."

Teju Cole!

His novel Open City is absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This story involves someone trying to make the best of things. There is dense cloud cover making Brooklyn look milky and wan. Spotty linings to a lung from lung wear. They could be strands of carpet that were inhaled or some traffic refuse from auto exhaust. The sound of coughing. Then the story changes: a man is sitting at the table when we feel a rumble and see some light flashing and suddenly the dude is rolling on the floor because he's on fire, or his shirt is, he's upset with his kingdom. "I feel like the dumb fat king of a dead country," he says. These are the words we hear from the next room because he's rolled there. We know what to think of him and we start thinking it like all in one day even. "He's such a cuddle monster," you say, and "this light suits him so well," you add.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four Photos from My Walk to Work

Keep Up the Good Work

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good Luck/13

If I Were You

If I were you
and I think I am
here we go!

Extra Special Day

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Actual Poem

I would like to sit upright now, please.
To be propped in that position
to pay someone to move me, to move
my hands over the keyboard. I would
like to type this word, please, he said.
When the writing got to be too much
there would be sticky finger foods
you know, like some of those orange
candy wedge things with sugar dust.
I would pay someone to lift one of those into
their mouth and I would chew air
are you enjoying that? he'd ask.
I would also let him wash his body
after snacking and oh say can you see
I'm clean now?
he'd ask. I would
have to think of images and find words
to describe them to communicate things
to the people around me so I could feel connected
in some way. That I would say
rise up and someone would be there
to lift me and then say sleep and someone
would shave me thinking I'd said
something else, it is a risk I'll have to take.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Initiate Human Contact

You could arm wrestle with a perfect stranger
on a beautiful day like today. Okay, try this:
Walk into a deli and put a gallon of milk on the counter and ask
the cashier to arm wrestle. Simply put your elbow up
on the counter next to the milk and challenge the cashier
with your inside voice. Maybe there's a truck idling outside
and some kids are walking to school,
maybe a man is standing behind you
with a package of cookies. It's all coming together now.
You need to initiate contact with some fellow humans,
but you're going about it all wrong.
You're too aggressive and there's not enough sweetness or fun
in your leisure activities. Here, let me show you how.
I hope this is a magical year for you.
I miss you a lot.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roses on Chocolate Wrappers

Torn off the Radio

You should not struggle against being loved
you are moving through time torn off the radio
any tether can be severed
you can do whatever you want in NYC
as long as you pay the rent
and clean the crumbs off your body
perhaps you will walk down Henry Street
and think of Whitman's giant beard
brushing against your arm
now that is inspiration
why even Atlantic Avenue has a song
(you'd think it was a goddamn highway
or something) the point is
you hear a song
above the traffic
go ahead:
sing it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ron Padgett Reading Tonight at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church

Such a magical night. Click on the photo to enlarge.


Wednesday is such an elegant and refined word
with a regal d followed by a soothing n.
So serious and stout, yet elegant and refined.
Transparent, yet bold and playfully midweek.
Wednesday, also known as "hump day."
Wednesday also being the name of a woman whose
parents know the playful solidity of the day
and how delightful those qualities are in a woman's
name or character. Wednesday is the link
between early week and midweek. Wednesday
is not a holy day or holiday but more of a working
day, a point in the middle of the week when the sleeves
are rolled up and unfinished work from early
in the week with days that have dreaded names like
"Monday" or "Tuesday" is finished up.
Wednesday nudges us to conclusions,
leads us to tempered resolutions.
It is a day of mild atonement, a day of gentle reconciliation
between early and late week.
It is a day that unfolds gracefully,
a day we are usually glad to see.
So stalwart and sweet, Wednesday is reality
tempered with perfection.
Oh, Wednesday, thank you for getting here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Five on My Way to Work

Pinkie Promise

We start the day with humming loaves.
All I have to do is shake my hips
and the laughter ensues, then
kale, kefir, and mud.
A synopsis is lemon and months.
What you are starving for is slippery.
In a dessert some charm and clang.
Coat your wool with rubber and walk
in the rain. People get off
and leave crunch trails on the sheets.
Radial light walkers smooth out backs.
Visitors lunch on skin munchies.
Skip into the underworld and get up on my lips.
Just get into the zone with popping
and good things in the morning.
Pinkie promise yoga while you
listen to Bergen Street hum.
Some things are just great
and loose and right.
That's your ticket.

Stereolab - Peng! 33

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Ill Will

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Saturday Top 10

1) There is No Year by Blake Butler

2) Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel (new translation by Mark Ford)

3) "Separator" by Radiohead (I can't stop listening to this song)

4) The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown

5) Silver Bar Tape on my Bianchi Pista, fuck yeah!

6) Seeing Robin Williams in the Self Edge store on Orchard Street yesterday

7) Sunglasses by Persol

8) Tottering State by Tom Raworth

9) Stumptown Coffee Roasters Espresso by Cafe Pedlar on Court Street

10) Sunny Saturday! by The Weather

Friday, April 08, 2011


I have visitors here in this room
who come to gnaw on my memories
to menace me by spinning things on
their fingers, to pinch and goad. They come
to hang on me up six flights of stairs and then they
block me from entering my home, that sort of thing.
I could be sleeping but I am making changes
for the visitors, shifting language
enough to alter the landscape as I try
to describe what they cannot see. What
I have seen is peculiar to them. The visitors
hum always, into the night, at dawn, in the middle
of the day a loudness from these visitors.
My head on a pillow: a hum.
I have visitors always canceling
the efforts I make to reduce them, to cordon
them off into a quiet section somewhere, they reappear always
despite my efforts, so I am giving in to them. Once
I took a dead woman's ring off her
cold finger and handed the ring to her
daughter, not so long ago, not so long.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Manhattan Poem

Ride with me on a pony through Manhattan,
we'll lift the manhole covers
and say hello to the people working
on the wires down there.
We'll throw twisted flowers
by the bunches into the fancy
stores along Madison Avenue.
The retail world is for the birds!
We'll ride up to the Cloisters
and be proud of our middle-aged delinquency.
We'll take the whole day away from work.
Our methods of freedom will become all the rage,
written about in the trends section of every paper.
Heaving breasts with hearts beating
under bright white ribs. You'll never
see my ribs unless I have a bad accident
in front of you so you'll have to take my word
for it: my ribs are white and gently curved.
My heart too, you'll never see that
either, but you'll have to take my word
for it: it's there and beating all red
and throbbing doing that stuff a heart does
so well. Oh, just meet me in Manhattan,
I'll be on that pony and I'll bring a sandwich
just for you, my love.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Am I Allowed to Look at It?

I've got a feeling
that something sublime is just about
to happen. You are my miracle worker.
You came into the room all
feverish and regal like raspberries sizzling
on a skillet. Get it? You ask me what I'm doing
and I say I want to write a poem in cream and watch you drink it.
The world is shiny because you cleaned it.
Joy is something you can trust. It's a good way to relax.
Everything looks great on you.
What are you thinking about now, cuteness?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Iron of Heaven

Your meteorite is stable on my bed.
Your hieroglyphs are presented as evidence of visitations.
The dust on my guest pillow reveals concentrations of nickel.
Yet more signatures of extraterrestrial origin.
Yet more signals of microscopic aliens.

Think of actual picture fragments.
Think of a horse's neck straining.

You have the best dreams
may I be in your next one?

Monday, April 04, 2011


Here's what you can do
sing into a paper cone to release
the bad air into a jar put a lid
on the jar and walk through Brooklyn
with the jar in your hands
when you get to the river chuck it into the water
and clap in a way that is both mournful
and celebratory it will be difficult
to do both simultaneously but it will
be necessary and you will feel better
knowing the jar is floating all over
the place with your bad air in it
air enough for a lyric were it
moving through your mouth
now roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Digital Past

A cobalt blue Cadillac is a pretty good thing
in Brooklyn. If you can afford my teeth
then slap my face with the flat end of your knife.
I'm standing on this wedge platform
that tilts into the Gowanus Canal. It's fun but
my pens keep rolling into the green water.
Are you in the same time capsule as me?
I'd like to introduce you to me during the next commercial.
We have Starbursts and Twizzlers. You should
eat more sugar. Let me know if you'd like me
to translate anything. Really. You should. Eat more sugar.
I know you have a taste for the obscure.
You've been to France and all that.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Dear One

I can rustle cattle. I can sling hash. I can
pull a sack of deuce. I can blow smoke and disappear.
There is a weight to my hands as they wave in the air
letting their skin tone glint as I say goodbye.

What gives rain its potency is its water. It is a fact
that the city sizzles under those ecstatic blue drops.

I'll love you by letting you know
how my vast strut does wonders in this world
of positions. I'll deliver a bright glaze
that you can see or not. I'm in on it.
When a razor slices through the water
the wound it leaves is invisible, so this is too.
I'll let you know when it's okay to lean on me
until you literally fold over me.

Get yourself right with all your worries.
Touch your face with my hands.
You can pay the wolf in crackers.
You can hang your hat in jest.
I'm right here, let's get started.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Super Supreme