Readings for Weds, Week 3: Psychogeograpy & Poetry as Investigating “Everyday Life”

Student Uprising in Paris, 1968

Guy Debord, “Theory of the Derive”  HERE

Guy Debord, Chapter 3 of Society of the Spectacle  HERE (recommend you read this AFTER you do the other readings – the Debord above and the poetry below)

Brenda Coultas, from The Bowery Project (in Tool Magazine)

Bowery Mind by Brenda Coultas

Note from David: (copied / pasted from Jonathan Skinner ed. Ecopoetics #1, available online HERE, and begins on pg 22, with an interview following the poem on pg 24–amazing other work in the journal we’ll look at later, and all online for YOU…).

He said it too (a man in a book about the chicken wire hotels), a mantra I had been saying all along in my head:

When they tear down the bowery

When they implode the bowery

When they blow up the bowery

When they demolish the bowery

When they revise the bowery

When they renovate the bowery

When they deconstruct the bowery

He said they suffered from Bowery mind; the residents never expected to spend the remainder of their lives in single rooms, each taken up by a long narrow bed and hot plate. I said to my husband, “We will live in this apt., these 4 rooms for the rest of our lives. This is where we grow old together. We will never be able to live anywhere else. We’ll never have the money or the time to find another place. I am 42.” At first it made me cry and then later it became very satisfying to say, “This is the bed, the room, the place I will die in. “ It settles the mind. People think it’s tragic to be old in New York City, but maybe it’s just tragic to be old anyplace.

Once people moved away from farms and came to cities, all saying this is what I did, this is what I did for posterity. Along came me saying this is what I did for poetry. A lot of people came here all at once, this is how and why my tenement exists.

A man lying in a prone position on sidewalk outside the vacant lot. The lot was covered in white poison and cleared off.

The bottles had been getting tall. I could imagine a bottle village or other folk shrine (even the Mennonites in Illinois had a building made of Fresca bottles), but the glass rising to the top of the chain links, like a transparent pool without swimmers. (Afternoon, May 8, ’01, Bowery & 1st St.)

He said he was once the most powerful drug dealer on the block and, “go fuck yourself.” I saw him later, carrying around a strange sculpture difficult to describe, because there was no comparison to it in the natural world. (2nd St. & 2nd Ave)

Man carrying a deflated blow-up doll in basket, said he would wash it and hang it on the wall to make a statement, collecting graffiti tags, said he’s going to make a coffee table book. In bodega a man said with body language, give me three numbers, and I’ll give you three in reference to lotto. We both lost the 33 million. (Houston and Allen)

Man with huge, flopping, boil on neck. His hands were empty. ( April 29, ’01 Bleeker and Bowery)

An experience for which I have no comparison, can’t say it was this or that, just it was what it was. It existed. So write “It was late at night, and a fine rain was swirling softly down…. That is when I began this experiment in misery.”

Saw a man carrying a cross and a cane, wearing earphones. His sign said the government broke his legs. (April 28, ’01 9 am. White House Hotel, 3rd & Bowery )

Some might say that all I’ve done is stack up a heap of objects. Some will say it’s all been done before, and that others have done better but still I stack things up. I don’t think about it, I put blinders on. But I hope that through accumulation they’ll form a pattern out of chaos. I’ve stacked up twigs one by one building a structure, weaving and shaping, forming a skeleton out of raw garbage, transformed into beauty, maybe. With something to say to any Bowery resident or reader of poetry. I am intentionally writing for you and me.

Flowersand graffitti for Joey Ramone. (May 1, ’01, CBGB’S, Bleeker & Bowery)


FOR ANY INTERESTED (non-required reading – but speaks to the SI’s involvement in the 68 student uprising and ensuing strikes in Paris)

“On the Poverty of Student Life,” Situationist International (1966)

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One Response to Readings for Weds, Week 3: Psychogeograpy & Poetry as Investigating “Everyday Life”

  1. Michael Lopez says:

    I’ve been wanting to make magnetic shoes.
    I’ve been wanting to push ice.
    I’ve been wanting to find the other half to my trombone.

    Francis Alys and the Derive?

    -Wish I was in, this quarter. I’ll be following.

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