Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

king of cummings

Yes, there's Larry King at a midtown Manhattan Borders, checking out the Collected Poems of E. E. Cummings. He read them, but did he buy the book? Not sure of that. Our great literary photographer Lawrence Schwartzwald found King with his camera. Always watching out for poetry's unexpected readers. It must be Poetry Month after all.

from but mr can you maybe listen there's



David Milch visits

David Milch was visiting us from Sunday morning through yesterday. An extraordinary experience, at every turn. Spellbindingly smart. The guy is both brilliant and supremely funny. Every story (about himself) he tells is both far-fetched and true, and the combination slays me.

I'd felt that I'd known him already from all those years of intense watching, starting of course with Hill Street Blues. HSB provided me, during the dimmest years of graduate school, an alternative universe on Thursday nights at 10; yet getting to know him in person now was nonetheless an adventure. What I hadn't yet realized about Milch was the extent of his generosity--a better word is an old one, charity. He had every reason to be distracted (pilot of the new show, Luck, is currently filming back in LA) but he focused on every person (and there were many, and they were various in kind) who came his way in our quite open space. He refused to take our honorarium, directing it instead to a campership program set up in the town (Arcadia, CA) where Luck is being filmed. He was still his hilariously acerbic self but he also had a kind word, a real ear, for everyone he met--and this was, in the course of days, many dozens.

On Monday evening he read the first 20 pages or so of the script for the Luck pilot. On Tuesday morning (yesterday) I interviewed him. Both these sessions are already available as audio recordings (mp3) and in video (streaming). All four files are linked here.

Anyone interested in my top four moments in all of Milch's TV-making? Probably not. But it's my blog and here they are:

4. Sipowicz has hidden his prostate problem from Sylvia and so she believes their not having had "relations" in a while was caused by the revelation of her traumatic experience with rape years earlier. She lovingly tells Andy that they are going to grow old together and their bodies will be what they will be, and that they should talk about it.

3. Mick Belker, in tears, standing in Frank Furillo's office doorway, saying he's 36 years old and can't afford to take care of his father.

2. Merrick reads aloud to the camp elders the contents of the simply and beautifully written letter Seth Bullock has composed to memorialize the life of a simple Cornish nobody who's been killed by Hearst.

1. The first 5 minutes of the final episode (#10) of John from Cincinnati. John and Shaunie reappear - surfing in from the far-off oceans, while all the characters in various places waken from a shared dream. The whole thing is covered (and unified) by Dylan's "Series of Dreams."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Emily the gardener

New York Botanical Garden’s upcoming exhibition, Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. The show is on display April 30 June 13, and gives visitors a new look at Emily. She was an avid gardener, and took visual cues for many of her poems from flowers such as tulips, roses, and lilies. Exhibition highlights include: Opening weekend featuring a marathon reading of all 1,789 of Dickinson’s poems; an award-winning play about Dickinson’s life; a talk about this American poet as a gardener by Marta McDowell; and more. To be part of the opening, please contact Jen Josef, Director of Public Education and Interpretation, at 718.817.8573 or Poetry Walk through the Garden’s grounds blooming with spring flowers. Dickinson’s 19th-century New England home and garden are re-created in the Conservatory. Gallery exhibition showcasing manuscripts, watercolors, and photographs that tell the story of Dickinson as a gardener, nature lover, and woman of the Victorian era. Additional programming such as home gardening demonstrations, children’s events, and much more. More information is available on our website here:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

25 minutes talking about sentences

Today we are releasing episode 31 of the PoemTalk series. This one is a discussion of Robert Grenier's Sentences. Jena Osman, Bob Perelman and Joseph Yearous-Algozin joined me. I can't remember a more challenging project: to talk about this box of 500 poem-cards in 25 minutes?

David Milch, Monday & Tuesday

I will be interviewing David Milch next Tuesday, starting precisely at 10:30 AM eastern time. We will be (as always) streaming the video live. Just go here (to our KWH-TV page) and click on the phrase "view live video." The night before--Monday evening at precisely 6:30 PM--Milch will be giving a talk and/or reading. Also streamed live, and the link for that video is the same as the other. Milch is the third of three Kelly Writers House Fellows this spring; the others were Joyce Carol Oates and Susan Howe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

seminar vs. lecture redux

John Gee has responded to my recent writings about higher education - for the blog called Penn Political Review. Here is your link. Gee's piece is titled "In Which I Take a Thought by Al Filreis and Run With It." "We will continue to evaluate students on their retention of information in addition to their analytical skills. But we might, however, stop gathering students together for the purpose of taking in that information."

the seminar (audio)

Here is an audio version of my little essay on the seminar.

Wallace Stevens comes to PennSound

After months--several years--of digitizing, consulting, traveling, etc., we at PennSound are now ready to make available the recordings of Wallace Stevens reading his own poetry. We begin our new Stevens author page with two readings he gave at Harvard near the end of his life. Our friends at the Woodberry Poetry Room at Lamont Library (though organizationally Woodberry now is part of the Houghton Library system) have shared these with us. Peter Hanchak--only child of Holly Stevens who was the only child of Wallace and Elsie Stevens--has given us at PennSound permission to make available whatever Stevens recordings we can find. I'm personally very grateful to Peter, who clearly understands that PennSound is all about noncommercial, educational use. Thanks to Joan Richardson and John Serio who helped me work with Peter on this; and thanks to Christina Davis, new director at the Woodberry, and Don Share, former director there, for their help and advice as we've moved forward. It's our hope, of course, that the way Stevens is taught will at least somewhat change now that his own way of reading the poems is widely and freely available. Long live open access!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the seminar

This coming Wednesday, April 21 on the UPenn campus, Danny Snelson has organized an evening to celebrate Tan Lin’s recent book publication, Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking [or 7CV] through the event series he curates, EDIT: Processing Network Publishing. Instead of a typical book launch, the event Wednesday seeks to enact and extend a poetics of distribution and/or metadata. Which is to say, a poetics that foregrounds problems of data description/retrieval, information processing, and the status of the book as an administered object. Through the event, an impromptu workshop will be created (picture a nerdier version of Warhol’s Factory), which will extend Lin’s book through various hand-made printed objects as well as digital ones.

I was asked by Tan Lin to write a short essay for this event. I had to choose from a list of topics and I had to write it straight: accessible, informative, normalized.

The Seminar

Commercial entities run what they call seminars. You can attend them at corporate headquarters, in the "seminar room," or in meeting rooms at hotels specializing in hosting such professionalizing gatherings. Perhaps the term came into use in this context because its progenitors sought to yield some of the academic connotation from the university. In the early years of the 21st-century, the word in its business context has come to mean a commercial event.

Most people, when using the term, mean a recurring meeting, a series. At American universities it has come to mean something of the opposite of "the lecture." Here there is an expectation that learners will participate in the making of the lesson. Often this counter-intuitive methodology is never explained; the reversal of expected roles is simply assumed. When a teacher lectures in a seminar it is deemed inappropriate.

Business-school pedagogy has positioned the seminar exactly halfway between its new corporate and its traditional academic connotations. Here the learner is expected to think "out of the box," while the pedagogy is said to be both "open" and "Socratic." But the so-called Socratic Method (favored by law schools) leads learners through a discussion in which freely volunteered answers to questions lead inexorably to the lesson the teacher had in mind from the start. Thus it can be said that the seminar has become the perfect tool of hegemony: open by process, closed by content.

It is easier to lecture than to lead a truly open discussion (in which the endpoint topic cannot be predicted at the outset). It is easier to transfer the power of certain knowledge by the open-closed method than by the closed method.

The word "seminar" is derived from the Latin seminarium, a seed plot. In the post-agricultural economy of the United States - an era rung in by Berkeley chancellor Clark Kerr as the time of the university as "Knowledge Factory" - idioms making use of the seed plot have withered and died. Essentially the only remaining idiom in this connotative family is "sewing seeds of destruction."

In some European countries, the seminar is not at all what it is in the U.S. It is a lecture class (often "given" by a super-eminent figure) in which there is no discussion, but a synthesizing paper (a seminar paper) is due at the end of the course of meetings. The eminence sows a seed; the learner, silently gathered around, is the relatively fertile or infertile furrow set to receive it. In this the trope makes clear sense: the lecture is given and (as certified more or less by the term-ending paper) it is received. The seminar in Europe continues to be associated with old concepts of authority (gone to seed, we might say). But in the U.S., while it would seem that the seminar augurs a new kind of authority in which listener can be talker and talker listener, the seed is gone from the scene.

- - -

Here is an audio version of this little essay.


Splendid day in Chicago yesterday. Began it with another run along Lake Michigan. Then down to Hyde Park early to record an episode (for later release) of PoemTalk. Don Share (senior editor of Poetry), Judith Goldman (on the U of C faculty, in the Society of Fellows) and David Pavelich (modern poetry bibliography in Special Collections at U of C) - poets all three - joined me to talk about a pair of poems: H.D.'s "Sea Poppies" and Jennifer Scappettone's "Vase Poppies." (I've written a little about this pairing earlier here.) A very good session. I begin to realize that a keen choice of poem (or poems, as in this special case) enables the conversation almost automatically (that is, with little effort needed on my part as moderator). During an hour or so between PoemTalk and the Modern Poetry Symposium sponsored by Special Collections, I met up with Brandon Fogel, a former student of mine at Penn and now, with Judith, a faculty member of the Society of Fellows. Brandon's field is philosophy and physics (not just the idea of physics in some squishy history of science sense, but real hard-sci physics). As an undergrad at Penn he majored in English and physics, the only student to do so in my 25 years at the university. Unsurprisingly, the gang already surrounding me knew Brandon, so it was a confab. Then to the conference.

Garin Cycholl gave a wonderful paper on the poet Sterling Plumpp and jazz geography; I don't know much about Plumpp so I was being well schooled. Stephanie Anderson, a doctoral student here at U of C, then gave a talk on Chicago magazine, which Alice Notley edited during her several years here in Chicago in the early 70s (and also a bit afterward--when she and Ted Berrigan were in Europe). Paired with the Notley paper was Nancy Kuhl's on Margaret Anderson and The Little Review. Both these papers made use of fabulous rare materials. Nancy is the curator of poetry collections at the Yale American literature collection at the Beinecke. (I'd corresponded with her in recent years about the various manuscripts I used to research and write Counter-Revolution of the Word but had not met her until yesterday.) Nancy is also a fine poet, as witness The Wife of the Left Hand, a copy of which she gave me yesterday.

The Alice Notley/Margaret Anderson pairing - thank you, David Pavelich - was inspired, suggesting all kinds of things about the terms "editing" and (versus) "curating"; raising questions about young avant-garde women who find themselves at the center of a writing scene ("enabling," etc.). Notley very consciously sought to do all this without much help from Berrigan, and after she gave birth (fall '72?) he guest-edited one issue of Chicago--producing a very different choice of poets. Stephanie suggested that Notley meant to show this difference to their friends and colleagues, to prove, in a sense, that the other issues bore no trace of Ted's hand.

Don Share (he of the equanimous disposition and wonderfully sure, calm voice--a "radio voice," as they used to say) and I gave a pair of papers on the editorship of Henry Rago at Poetry: 1955 (when he took over from the zig-zaggy Karl Shapiro) to 1969 (when Rago suddenly died of a heart attack, not long after an apparently final retirement). My take, in short, is that 1955-1960 is a mixed record for Rago and Poetry at best, and that in 1960 or so Rago caught some fire. Don didn't disagree with my division of the Rago years into two, and he was nicely able to elaborate on all sorts of particular matters of editorship. During the discussion afterward, we began to talk about the special burden - given its special legacy of modernism - facing any editor of Poetry, and got close to a full-out conversation about the situation of Poetry today...when time ran out. But the topic had been raised (what do the failures of Rago's first four or five years teach us?) and it was very good.

After just a few minutes with Nancy Kuhl I remembered that I read (at the Regenstein, in fact; in the Poetry archives) about Lee Anderson's recordings of modern poets--recalled that Anderson (in the late 50s?) was preparing to give these recordings to Yale. Nancy of course knew about the Anderson recordings. There they are, still at Yale. Might it be possible for us at PennSound to collaborate with our pals at Yale to make available some of these recordings? You can be sure we'll be on the train to New Haven soon to discuss.

On the drive from Hyde Park to Chinatown for dinner last night, we passed by Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. The horizontal flat stone thing looks so utterly natural in its urban prairie setting. I was a little shocked by this. I can usually see architecture in photographs and get it sufficiently; but Robie House needs to be seen as it is, just there, on a residential corner in this sweet little university town on the flat south end of its broad-shouldered city.

Friday, April 16, 2010

celebrate Tan Lin with us

TAN LIN is coming to to the Writers House. On Wednesday, April 21st, the EDIT series (Danny Snelson) will host this poet, whose work, says Charles Bernstein, “sparkles with unoriginality and falsification.” Join us for a live publication event entitled “Handmade book, PDF, Appendix, Powerpoint, Kanban Board/Post-Its, Blurbs, Dual Language (Chinese/English) Edition, micro lecture, Selectric II interview, wine/cheese reception, Q&A (xerox) and a film.” A reception will open at 6PM, to be followed by Q&A, printing, and micro-lectures beginning at 7PM. For more information call 215-746 POEM or email

Thursday, April 15, 2010

democracy and lists

Recently I listened again to my conversation with Ian (Sandy) Frazier, recorded in 2006. Now we've segmented this audio recording into topical segments. Go here here and listen to portions of the discussion on populism, Francis Parkman, the connection between democracy and the writing of lists, on the idea of an "open-hearted" American place.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bob Perelman's history

I've recently published a long essay on the poetry of Bob Perelman. It's called "The President of This Sentence." It's about the convergence in Perelman's writing of two parallel and also, at times, convergent analyses--one of modernism's rise and fall; the other of the state of Cold War at the point of giving way to New Left and countercultural skepticism. Here is a link to the whole essay, and here is the opening paragraph:

Bob Perelman a few years ago announced that he suffers from HAD (Historical Affective Disorder). He was joking, but not entirely. His history is sometimes a bit off, yet as for his historiography, especially in the verse, it is almost always perfectly pitched. Perelman disclosed his HAD in a disarming prefatory riff launching a long rejoinder to criticisms of The Marginalization of Poetry, a book of essays he published in 1996. His advocacy of a particular tracing of an avant-garde in that collection had been defended by, he had to admit, a “defiant army of defiantly non-avant-garde sentences hurled at the four coigns of the balkanized master page.” The historical disaffection here, the worst effect of the malady, was to have forgotten in his capacity as a critic the main form/content lesson of the very same modernist prose literary-historiography — learned from Williams in Spring & All and In the American Grain; and from Pound in his most dissociative essays — that was and still is Perelman’s own modernist ground zero. Or, as Ron Silliman forcefully noted, Perelman’s chief impairment derived from a move into the ivied academy, whereupon the book-length display of super-coherent strings of such “nonavant-garde sentences” (among other issuances of normative critical behavior) rendered unruly heterodoxy unlikely or impossible. Thus had our HAD sufferer tellingly — indeed, happily — placed himself at a distinct disadvantage. In the poetry, over the years, both pre- and post-Ivy League, such symptoms as issuing forth from Perelman’s special expression of historical disorder — (1) a keen and specific sense of how the American past operates in the present, mixed with (2) deliberate socio-idiomatic fuzziness and (3) a comic mania for anachronism — have always been the source of his finest and most remarkable writing. The greatest Perelmanian ur-anachronism of all — that there might not be a future of memory — produced verse in the 1980s and ‘90s that offers the most perspicacious understanding of the end of the first Cold War (the early 1960s) I have yet read in any genre. This work presents an analysis-in-verse that convincingly links crazy characterizations of anticommunist conspiracies to a generationally earlier history of the rise and later demise of the modernist revolution.

Imperial Beach alienation

“You know that’s flapping your fins for an audience. That’s letting dipshits define you by a number so other dipshits can compare you with other numbers so the other dipshits know who to pay to wear their sunglasses so that dipshits in the malls know which ones to buy."--Mitch Yost, John from Cincinnati, episode 3

Monday, April 12, 2010

they have the routine of the Indians and the colored folks

From a column by I. F. Stone publisehd in the Nation magazine on November 8, 1947, at the time of the anticommunist HUAC/"Hollywood Ten" hearings:

If a Congressional committee can investigate ideas in the movies, it can investigate them in the press. The purpose is to terrorize all leftists, liberals, and intellectuals; to make them fearful in the film, the theater, the press, and any school of advanced ideas the Thomas committee can stigmatize as "red." ... [T]he committee is out to give the moguls of the industry no rest until they not only take from the screen what little liberal and social content it has, but turn to making films which would prepare the way for fascism at home and war abroad. There were two revealing moments in the producers' testimony. Jack Warner, explaining the "subtle" methods of "red" screen writers, said, "They have the routine of the Indians and the colored folks. That is always their setup." And when Louis B. Mayer said he was going to start making some "anti-Communist films promptly," Thomas leaned forward with a grin and asked, "These hearings haven't anything to do with the promptness, have they?"

Friday, April 09, 2010

essential poet

Daisy Fried's review of Charles Bernstein's selected poems (All the Whiskey in Heaven) will be published in this weekend's New York Times Book Review. It's extremely positive. Millions will see it, maybe many thousands will read it. It might sell a few copies, a prospect that makes me glad. The photo at left is of the poet, reading just last night at the party we threw for him in honor of the publication of the book and his 60th birthday.

Here are some passages from Fried's review:

"[T]his calculating, improvisatory, essential poet won’t tell you the truth wrapped up in a neat little package. He might show it to you when you’re least expecting it."

"Bernstein is identified with the Language poets, who emerged in the 1970s. Interested in the materiality of language, they are politically left, theoretically grounded and deeply suspicious of the lyric “I” that speaks from the heart in traditional poems without examining its own existence in a sociopolitical power structure. Their work is often most subversive when both joining and satirizing that weary old, dreary old genre, poetry about poetry. Early Bernstein can be opaque, annoying those who see difficulty as elitist and who want poetry to be cuddly and educational. But everyone should love the later Bernstein, a writer who is accessible, enormously witty, often joyful — and even more evilly subversive."

elective affinities

It's time to check out the poets featured on ElectiveAffinitiesUSA, a blog managed by Carlos Soto-Roman.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Rothenberg non-Adorno: writing after Auschwitz

Here is a short excerpt from a longer interview with Jerome Rothenberg. It has been transcribed by the wonderful Michael Nardone. The transcription is good but it's still a work in progress, and we hope to release this and other interview transcriptions through Jacket2 in the coming months. Meantime, here I am talking with Jerry about writing about the Holocaust.

I guess the first question I have is about your uncle. You’ve said in a poem and in a preface, and also in conversation that the only story that has come directly to you, or indirectly maybe, about the Holocaust and your family is the uncle who was lost who found about his family killed, I think at Treblinka, and drank a bunch of vodka and blew his brains out. There were obviously others who were lost. When you got back, when you got to Treblinka, it wasn’t a roots visit, it was something that happened along the way because you were already in Germany. You decided to make the trip and you went to Treblinka but there you said that the poems you heard at Treblinka were the clearest message you’ve ever gotten about why you write poetry. Can you explain that a little more, and specifically what do you mean you heard the poems at Treblinka?

It wasn’t as if a voice was speaking to me. [Laughter]

Glad we cleared that up. Jerry—

But it was if that experience plus more. I don’t if I began to write those poems following the Treblinka visit, which was early in the trip. Later, having passed some time in Krakow, in Silesia, we then travelled to Auschwitz. But the whole thing, from the moment that I set foot into Poland, I had a great sense of upset, you know, it triggered something. I think quite understandably.

But the clearest message you’ve ever gotten about why you write poetry?

The clearest message, yeah, in the sense that I think for many of us, maybe most of us, who became poets and who had lived either directly or vicariously through the experience of the Second World War, the Holocaust, the great, very intense, brief period of destruction, you know, a few years. I’ve always tried to get an accurate account of how many people were killed during that time from 1939 to 1945. An extraordinary numbers of deaths, of burnings, of maimings.

I think I began to write poetry under the impact of that. I was still living under the, as were others of my generation. I don’t think I can define very clearly what I mean. I understood then, for the first time I was willing to say that something of what had happened there was what brought me into poetry in the first place.

I had been meditating to, or thinking about the statement of Adorno, attributed and sometimes mistranslated from Adorno about not writing poetry after Auschwitz. But that’s wrong, because really what drove me into poetry, or what I feel retrospectively drove me into poetry was the experience of Holocaust. And not just what happened in the death camps, although that was an extremity, but you know, the other, particularly once we got away from the war itself. And what happened at Hiroshima began to sink in first, I was a kid when we got news about that. I don’t think it was for me, at the age of 14, a sense of the horror of Hiroshima, but it didn’t take long before one realized what we had done there. And then, of course, things like Dresden only came to light for us much later.

And you don’t really disagree with what we imagine to be the impetus behind Adorno’s statement, which is that poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric.

O no.

That is to say you believe that the enormity of that situation robbed language of its capacity to express appropriately what had happened. The disagreement is what happens afterwards, because you believe strongly, and you’ve said this in Khurbn, you’ve said it at the end of The Burning Babe, I believe, and you’ve certainly said it in various statements that poetry is all we have left.

Well, I think that the transformations that poetry makes possible were to me a more meaningful response than silence. Although silence can be very powerful, but who will know about it?

Well there are some artists who would argue differently about silence.

Yes, but somebody has to get the word out.

Anyway, silence was not an option.

Silence was not an option for you.

Silence means withdrawing from the world.

In the Elie Wiesel sense, if you’re silent, you’re helping the bad guys. Don’t be silent. In that sense.

Yes, it’s not just the Elie Wiesel sense.

I know that, I threw that in there to get a rise out of you.

You generally assume that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. This is stated in many different ways. As a poet, I began more and more to talk about the response to that mid-century Holocaust, holocausts, and so much that followed, the response being through the transformed language of poetry, and of course other responses also.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

bitter, rock, trash, Ben & gold

In our "7-up" series, 7 people talk for 7 minutes each about something - trash one year, bitterness another, rock a third, Ben (Franklin) a fourth. It's wonderful random stuff. Come and listen.

megachurches for spring break

When the gospel garage-rock we had so tolerantly been appreciating came to an abrupt end, Lon Solomon's face appeared like the Wizard of Oz on shining silver screens. A shiver ran down my spine and kept running as his dark mouth opened wide around words like "trustworthiness" and "veracity". My discomfort came on so strong because, well, Lon is an atavistic crossbreed of game-show host and far-right cult leader, fluffing his feathers in high perch as the Senior Pastor of the McLean Bible Church. His position gives him the opportunity to preach to ten-thousand people every week, offering sermons that cover the burning bush, gay marriage, and everything he misrepresents in between.

That's the opening paragraph of the latest (final?) blog entry posted to a blog titled "religioUSA" - written by students Kim Eisler, Hannah McDonnell, Sarah Souli, and Adrian Pelliccia. They traveled to Florida recently to study--for a second year--the role and function of the mega-church in southern culture.

Monday, April 05, 2010

digital swap meet this week

The students in our CPCW/Writers House/ICA year-long seminar are hosting a DIGITAL SWAP MEET. It runs in conjunction with the Maira Kalman exhibit "Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)" currently at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and is the realization of a project called MILTON. Maira Kalman envisioned Milton as a conceptual space for pleasure and exchange, and DIGITAL SWAP MEET esteems those qualities above all others.

Come upload, download, snoop, peruse, and plunder during this four-day media swap. We'll provide the configuration, you provide the data. Bring your computer and hook in to each of our four drives to view their contents. Within our four terabytes of space, you're sure to encounter something eye-catching to take home with you, and to find room to upload your own files.

Theft is strongly encouraged, as is adding to the collection. So look through your hard drive, come prepared to bring something to the table, grab your computer, and join us at the ICA during some or all of the following hours:

Thursday, April 8: 12-8pm
Friday, April 9: 12-8pm
Saturday, April 10: 11-5pm
Sunday, April 11: 11-5pm

angels' city

Back from a fabulous week in L.A. The Geffen, which is part of MOCA, is at the edge of downtown adjacent to Little Toyko; it's terrific. Stop in if you're out there. Return visit to the cactus gardens at the Huntington. Unbelievably good Mexican dinner at a first-rate but little-known place in Silver Lake. Very good hotel 1 block from the beach in Santa Monica. Birthday dinner at 1 Pico (part of the Shutters Hotel). Hip French bistro in Venice (Lily's) where my son took no risk on ordering the beef tartare. The newish Frenk Gehry music hall, downtown, is stunning to see (and be in). An afternoon at the Getty Villa (the Aztec exhibit) with the Perloffs. Toured UCLA, too, which looked better than ever, despite its crumbling base of support and ballooning class sizes. We left and just a few hours letter a 7.1 quake hit. Weather, timing, everything: perfect. At right here is the famed proportionate L.A. Municipal Building reflected in the windows of an awful quick-rise police building across the street.