Tag Archives: creative writing

The Blarg No. 88: Barbara VanDenburgh

It has to be talked about, if only briefly. I’d feel wrong otherwise. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a complete and total shit show out there. If you’re a right wing conservative, I highly doubt you’re listening to Limited Engagement or reading The Blarg, but if you are, I’m not even sorry. I honestly don’t feel like the Democrats are doing much better at this point in time, but in order to stem the tide of regressive, fascistic, fear-mongering, and my fingers have actually gone apoplectic. That’s how bad things are—my fingers can’t even keep up with the horror running through my head.

What I’m saying is that the prevailing evil is so evil, we are left with no choice other than to vote for the lesser of two, because something has to fucking change and change fast. Irreparable damage to the progress of humanity and science has already been done, and it’s going to take a fuck ton of work just to get back to where we were which, honestly, already was not that great.

We have a job to do. That job is to send a message of undeniable strength and unity, which is that we won’t stand for this dismantling of social progress any longer.

My early voting ballot came in the mail today. I’ve never been more excited or terrified to vote. I’m terrified it won’t work, that we’ve already gone too far down a dark, dark path. If you have a conscience, if you have a glimmer of hope for social progress, you have a choice to make, and you know what the right one is. This is difficult. I am not one to even begin to tell someone what they should do—it just isn’t my place—but this is different. This time, there is something that you should do, and you hopefully know what that is. Don’t let polling make you complacent. They have to feel every vote.

Okay, I’m done with that. Let’s talk about something else.

Oh, we—Janell and I—went and saw a double feature this past weekend. We saw The Sisters Brothers and The Old Man and the Gun. The Sisters Brothers is a fantastic, dark, humorous novel written by Patrick DeWitt. I highly recommend it. I can’t say that I recommend the movie, though. It was the first of the two we saw, and I walked out thinking it was pretty good. Then we got our tickets for the 2nd movie, and by the time we sat down to watch the previews, I’d already downgraded it to being just okay. Walking out of The Old Man and the Gun, my opinion of The Sisters Brothers had settled in at “not that great.” There are some excellent performances, but I had some real problems with the story and the liberties they’d taken with changes to the novel. One of the reasons for the quick slide in rating is how good I think the 2nd movie is. The Old Man and the Gun, though not a terribly surprising or original (I mean, the crime genre has been done to death), is a fantastic movie. Everyone in it is great. Personally, I think Tom Waits steals every scene he’s in, but Sissy Spacek gives a wonderful performance, and Robert Redford… Honestly, is there anyone left in film with the caliber and gravitas of Robert Redford? I highly recommend it—and go see it on a real screen, in a theatre, with other people.

Speaking of films…

Barbara VanDenburgh is a reporter, cultural critic and Senior Content Strategist for USA Today Network (she has a ton of great film reviews you can find up on the AZ Central website), as well as the moderator for the popular First Draft Book Club, which meets once a month at the Phoenix location of Changing Hands. The next First Draft Book Club meeting will be Wednesday, October 24th at 7 pm, to discuss Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, Lake Success. For more information on that, you can visit the Changing Hands site, and for more Barbara, follow her on Twitter at @BabsVan.

Listen to LE 88 – Barbara VanDenburgh

Best,

Jared Duran

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Arts and Culture, Podcast, The Blarg

The Blarg No. 66: Rosemarie Dombrowski

Get your kicks on The Blarg 66? (Sorry)

If anything can be said to be the modus operandi of 2017, it’s one step up, 2000 steps back; a minor victory followed by countless setbacks; a brief moment of surfacing for air, then right back under water. You get the idea. After a massive effort to keep a pedophile out of congress—a victory so narrow as to not avoid contention or dispute—that same congress voted to end net neutrality, and they’re currently working overtime to push through the most blatantly anti-constituency tax plan ever. To say that the battle is uphill is an understatement of massive proportions. At this point, there is such a disconnect between the government and the people that democracy is flat-out broken, and any meaningful change would take a complete reset—one that could be achieved through votes, but that would first involve a shift in philosophy for the majority of people—a need to make informed, moral, rational, open-minded decisions rather than knee-jerk choices made out of fear and anger.

Barring that, though, here’s an idea: just bench men. The entire gender. There are always exceptions, and I like to think I’m one of them, but another theme of 2017 (and I know it’s not any sort of revelation, believe me) is the inability of men to consider anything beyond the immediate satisfaction of their erection. That can be most obviously seen in sexual misconduct, but it should be pretty obvious that this is likewise the case with all the money boners out there. “You’re giving me how much money? You need me to vote in favor of what? No problem! It’ll screw over which people? The ones who voted for me? Fuck ’em.” So, yes, I’m proposing we take men out of the equation altogether. Who knows, maybe women won’t do any better, maybe they’re equally as corrupt, but I think it’s worth a shot, and my main point is that things are so deeply messed up right now that we’ve got to do something big, drastic, and sweeping in order to progress and break out of this system which is currently hellbent on not only maintaining an arcane, outdated ideology, but dragging us further back into the depths.

One more thing before I put the soapbox away: I am so very, very tired of the standard “man versus Man” defense. Can we just throw that one out? Feeling the need to distinguish yourself as a proper example of the gender doesn’t make you any better, because that is still, in some way, arguing for the superiority of the gender. What really distances you? Being a decent person, that’s what does it. It seems like gender—especially as identity becomes increasingly fluid—needs to move back into the realm of scientific over social function. There are few ideas more exciting than the one that we are the manifestations of our complicated, chemical neural makeup, and not defined by something as simple and arbitrary as the stuff between our legs.

This all has very little to do with my conversation with Rosemarie Dombrowski. Other than the fact that we do spend a fair amount of time discussing the role of art in times of social unrest, turmoil, etc. We also discuss what it means to be the poet laureate of Phoenix, the difference between being a community poet and a feature, and the life-cycle of writing from inception to publication. This also marks Rosemarie’s 3rd appearance on the show (first solo appearance) during December, thus keeping the tradition alive!

Rosemarie Dombrowski is a Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus where she is the co-founder and faculty editor of the student and community writing journal, Write On, Downtown, and where she teaches courses on the poetics of street art, women’s literature, and creative ethnography. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), which was the recipient of a 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award for Poetry, The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the forthcoming The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She is also the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founder of merge poetry journal (2005-11) and rinky dink press, an editor for Four Chambers journal and press, and the co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, now in its tenth year.

Listen to LE 66 – Rosemarie Dombrowski

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg