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mark weber | plain old boogie long division
the world is just too much for some of us coming on strong we grip the teeth of this monster pulling ourselves out of it’s throat it’s gullet churning and sucking at our toes.
an excerpt from ” plain old boogie long division” by Mark Weber
Mark Weber is a bird, albeit a big one,a man who took part in staged fist fights when he was a teenager and expresses anguish over vacuuming up a bug in his latest collection of poems. Big Web is an Okie who wound up in Cucamonga, California, a guy that can get off on some aural, mathematical construct by Coltrane, Bird or Monk and then cue up one of George Jones’ crying-in-your-beer-honky-tonk masterpieces as if no gap existed between the two. (All That Jazz, KUNM)
This collection, of poems and prose pieces, is a lot like that. Just look at his photo: the one in the papaw, with hair hanging down like Don Van Vliet, and picture him holding down a teaching position. But the photo of Mark in his old pickup says something else. He’s laughing, and his face is the face of a healthy, humorous, warm, hospitable man … a man that’s overcome a heroin addicttion, alcoholism and spanked those monkeys till they laughed out loud.
Plain Old Boogie Long Division is one crazy grab bag of stories, tempo experiments ( ala Creely by way of a Muddy Waters biography), and narrative poems that express a love of the commonplace common to Joyce, Hemingway, WCW, Gary Snyder and Merle Haggard. If you own a copy of Leaves of Grass, Kaddish, On the Road, Hank Williams’ Greatest Hits, or anything by Li Po or Robert Johnson, then do yourself a favor and order this sunlit book of living poetry. Daryl Rogers
Weber’s Weekly Worldwide Radioshow. Every Thursday afternoon Mark Weber strolls out into his yard and, with nothing more than a couple of tin cans, some string, and a headful of good intent, he magically creates a Worldwide Radio Broadcast that everyone can hear.
Well, not really … He usually takes the easy way out and rolls down to the fine studios of KUNM – (89.9 on the local FM dial) – where he DJ’s forth every Thursday from Noon to 1:30PM (mountain time).
Spinning slabs of secret musical codes from the future as well as quaint ditties and equations from the ancient past and hosting slews of interviews with JazzWorld luminaries, he can also be heard worldwide right thru this computer-thang currently under your nose. lot’s of more and detailed information concerning Mark Weber’s radio show here…
PLAIN OLD BOOGIE LONG DIVISION: THE BADDEST OF THE TOTALLY BAD CATS by Todd Moore
For a long time now, I’ve been trying to write something about Mark Weber’s poetry. Mostly, I’ve written about his chapbooks, but I’ve never had anything as substantial to write about as PLAIN OLD BOOGIE LONG DIVISION, Burning Books with Zerx Press, 2006. This is one of those big books that come along magically and with a certain amount of surprise. PLAIN OLD BOOGIE is one outrageously unpretentious, in your face, roughneck book. I could have said redneck and there is some of that in BOOGIE, but it is undoubtedly roughneck. If this book were a person, it would challenge SO GOING AROUND CITIES to an arm wrestling contest. If this book were human, it would call Bukowski out in a front yard next to a junked bathtub and a half wreck of a car in the weeds for a no holds barred fistfight. If this book could shape shift itself into a man, it would do its very best to try to kick Robert Creeley’s ass.
And, maybe in some subversive way, it does kick its share of pompous ass because it stands right up on its hind legs like a blue desert norther and howls. Behavior like this would’ve given T. S. Eliot the galloping shits for weeks. Behavior like this would have sent Cleanth Brooks straight to bed with a hot water bottle and a bowl of chicken soup. Behavior like this would probably send Harold Bloom into a Harvard stuttering chill, shaking the comforter, slamming the walls, rocking the bed. And, just what kind of behavior am I talking about?
It’s the behavior of an american poet giving the finger to High Post Modernist writing school proper lingo. It’s what you’d never find in The New York Review of Books, it’s what I dare you to find in The Paris Review, it’s what you’d never ever double dare promise Harriet Monroe not to find in Poetry Magazine. At its absolute raucous best, Mark Weber’s poetry is probably the strongest assault on the proper way to write a poem since Walt Whitman took on practically everyone in the universe when he brought out the first edition of LEAVES OF GRASS in 1855.
And, what I am talking about here is not so much a revolution in just language, but the stance of the man himself. This is from part 5 of BOOGIE.
“I’m one of the few who matriculated from the California Penal Colony a virgin. Judge Fox leafed through the pages of my rap sheet, “Mr. Weber, you seem to have quite an extensive history here.” You ain’t said the half of it, fuckhead.”
What draws me to Mark Weber’s poetry is its immediate, disarming, no holds barred, line scratched in the dirt don’t cross over it fuckface honesty. That and the old/new idea that poetry in america really does NOT belong to the academy. This is the kind of poetry that I have heard spoken over pinball machines. This is the kind of poetry that I have heard yelled through the scarred and beaten up doors of men’s rooms in bars, this is the kind of poetry I have heard spoken while pumping gas at a weatherbeaten service station out on Route 40 somewhere between Flagstaff and Needles. This is the kind of poetry spoken around oil derricks and across car hoods. This is the kind of poetry spoken at ground level in america. It boils up and churns up out of the guts of america. This is maybe the last refuge for a poetry that is no longer welcome in the classroom (maybe it never was), not elibible for prizes, not considered even close to being literary. But somehow, in some peculiar way this is really the only kind of poetry worth listening to. Do i really want to hear the newest academic knockoff of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird? Do I really want to listen to someone read a poem that repeats the word THE forty nine times before reaching the letter C? And, do I really care that some third rate academic poet has received the Pulitzer for a book of poetry that is only good for putting most intelligent readers to sleep?
The major problem with mainstream poetry is that it has reached a kind of impasse. There are no towering figures writing academic poetry today. Maybe there never were. All jokes about Eliot aside, he was one of the most important poets of the first half of the twentieth century and there is no one like him writing today. To my knowledge, no one and I’ll repeat that NO ONE has ever equaled THE WASTE LAND.
So, there is that impasse, that chasm. The only poets who can elude that impasse, who can fly across that chasm are the Outlaws. And, while I know on several different occasions Weber has stated that he really isn’t an Outlaw, I know in my heart that he is. You don’t do time in jail and not somehow become an Outlaw. You don’t live a marginal life in Los Angeles in and around the jazz clubs as a jazz critic and photographer without somehow becoming an Outlaw. It’s part of the territory. It’s built right into that stance.
And, the stance in BOOGIE is hipster Okie, tough guy traveler, roughneck poet. If anything, Mark Weber has carefully perfected Charles Baudelaire’s role as a flaneur. Which means someone who goes out just to study the surroundings, someone who is a kind of studied voyeur. That is what a poet does and that is definitely a role that Mark Weber has beautifully honed.
What most readers don’t realize is that Weber’s greatest strength as a poet is that he probably has the best ear for jazz in america. Because of this he has brought something rare to the table in american poetry. His personal knowledge of jazz icons and the jazz world, his encyclopedic knowledge of the literature and sound of jazz have added a depth to his poetry that is in its way really unequaled in american literature or whatever passes for it these days.
Ultimately, this is why PLAIN OLD BOOGIE LONG DIVISION is, in essence, the important book that it is. BOOGIE is just simply a good poetry read on several levels, but if I have to make that one basic distinction, I would say that it is Mark Weber’s major jazz riff, it is his love letter to the american earth. Todd Moore
Mark Weber has the authenticity of a born-in, lived-in poetic soma. His poetry will cause you to perceive the sublime in the ordinary and put you in contact with the ordinary common humanity in the sublime. – Connie Crothers
Burning Books with Zerx Press 2005
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