nemo williams

summerread

Originally posted on Flavorwire:
Summer reading lists: everyone’s got ’em. But what makes an ideal summer read? It sort of depends on who you are and what you’re doing, but here are a few suggestions: something light, something funny, something sun-drenched and atmospheric, something to travel with, something that will hold your attention no matter…

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Originally posted on Do you want to see my spaceship?:
The Heart of Gold’s Improbability Drive made it the most powerful and unpredictable ship in existence. There was nothing it couldn’t do, provided you knew exactly how improbable it was that the thing you wanted it to do would ever happen… ’The daaaaay is beauuuuutiful!’…

“Cottonwood Creek”

typewriter

COTTONWOOD CREEK

Let me go back
to where existence began:
I believed by that water, no older than five,
that our dreams will happen
where our hearts feel good enough to thrive,
only after we rise up, and remember how we ran.
At night I still remember crickets by the thousands,
a plague upon the eardrums, turn up the television;
fresh, holy visions of summer days, spent under a bridge,
a B.B. gun for frogs, scattered rocks to throw,
a time we will remember, until the creek runs low.
August brought us rattlesnakes, and ghost stories
of old dead miners breathing under bedroom windows,
don’t wander and disappear alongside the creek,
ghosts and goblins, demons who would not speak,
and we would listen: Cottonwood Creek, what is yer secret?
We would spend days there, trapped in time,
then we’d surrender it, just barely in time;
my thoughts began here, I do believe,
and the more time passes, this much becomes clear:
this quiet haze began here in our history,
still I know less parts to what must be a mystery
of what always brings me back to here;
So terrorize me, hypnotize me,
lie to me and please be kind to me,
because the mind moves swift, like a river,
but it is a creek that forms my soul.

syd williams.

Doc Sportello & The Dude: Separated at Birth?

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Doc Sportello and the Dude.png

When I heard that Paul Thomas Anderson would be translating a Thomas Pynchon novel for the the screen, I could not help but be excited. Here was one of today’s most ambitious and talented filmmakers interpreting an author of such dazzling obscurantism that his novels were generally considered by critics to be the acme of unfilmable.  It was like the unstoppable force finally met the immovable object.  Who would prevail?

The answer was probably not Anderson.  The film adaptation of Inherent Vice only made back $14.7 million on its $20 million budget, though it earned a respectable 74% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.  The movie was universally ignored by the award shows and seemed to leave many viewers puzzled by its labyrinthine, shaggy-dog storyline and unmistakable resemblance to The Big Lebowksi. Lovable stoner gets mixed up in crazy crime plot, full of wacky side characters and red herrings?…

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Where Are All the Aliens…?

Diamonds Separated by Oceans: Baseball, Japanese-Americans, and Southern California’s Pacific Rim

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Baseball game at Manzanar War Relocation Center | Photo: Ansel Adams, courtesy of the Library of Congress Baseball game at Manzanar War Relocation Center | Photo: Ansel Adams, courtesy of the Library of Congress

“If California has made any contribution to sport on a national level, it is in the democratization of pursuits that were previously the prerogatives of elites,” noted the dean of California history Kevin Starr in 2005. “Most of the champions of the twentieth century who come from California first developed their skills in publicly subsidized circumstances: municipally supported swimming pools, golf courses, and tennis courts in particular, where middle class Californians, thanks to the recreational policies of Progressivism, were introduced to these previously social register sports.” 1 Indeed, even under the weight of racism, groups denied equal access to mainstream U.S. society found sports as a means to greatness and, in part, as a declaration of their commitment to America. Take two-time gold medalist Highland Park native Sammy Lee, or Hall of…

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Working to Play, Playing to Work: Mexican-American Baseball & Labor in Southern California

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“I remember traveling to Lake Elsinore, which was a long way in those days,” reminisced Zeke Mejia in 1996. “But the only ride we could get was from a friend who hauled fertilizer in his truck, so all the guys crawled inside … and tried not to breath during the ride. By the time we arrived to play well we all smelled like fertilized fields. We did it because we loved the game.” 1

For Mejia and thousands of other Mexican Americans laboring in Southern California during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, baseball served as a means to at once demonstrate belonging in the United States, while simultaneously asserting their own identity. In Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, Mexican American baseball teams dotted the landscape, creating a human geography of social, economic, and political connections that helped buoy working class communities, and even contributed to unionization efforts amid widespread…

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“The Cottonwoods”

UPDATE: this is an old poem I published on here months ago but I decided to republish it tonight for one very simple, personal reason: the man I wrote it for, my beloved Grandpa Bill, died twenty-four years ago today at the age of seventy-five years old.

And I still miss you, Grandpa.

Thank you.

— syd williams.

typewriter

THE COTTONWOODS

I think of Grandpa Bill, a nickel tucked in a shoe,
westbound to California, run from the Irish wake blues.
His mother had just died. Relatives gathered ’round;
for three days he knew no sound, except the plucking of
heartstrings, and the dead, like lightning, finding a way to the ground.
Like clockwork his Pa had another round, not just one but two,
his soul buried in more than rot and sand. A misunderstood justice,
delivered from a gnarled hand.

Stories I heard, haunted by vibrations from just three days,
never again understanding evil people and their civil ways.
But I guess it pays to be young, and he heard the trains,
hellcats ripping through Virginia night, eyes blistering with
nervous moonlight. Then the Old Man, always right, that mad
dad full’a beer, playing his new performances of knocks
to an audience full of fright and good cheer.

They had an Irish Wake, like an heirloom on display,
spooked and ghostly, maybe the dead would wake front and center.
Storms were quelled and given life there in the living room,
if only for a few moments, you can’t hide a hidden temper.
Choruses, choruses, the fist and shotguns, relatives drinking
and spun like tops on tables, the telling of tall tales,
let’s add on to old Irish fables.
Leave it to the angels to be experts on sin.
There you go!

To California! To California!
Under that sky one could live off their own shoes.
To California! To sweet California!
Bless the train, bringer of glorious red, white, and blue.

I heard he was tall as a mountain, thin as a rail,
a voice clear to tremble might, an escape from a jail.
That is the sweet sad mark of old adventure.
On a train he found faith, wisdom, took a chance on truth,
on that rocket he found the key to youth: adventure.
He didn’t know how far it was to the west.
All he had on him was scorn, an old steel-stringed guitar,
and he still wore that funeral vest.

To California! To California!
Look at God and give his plan a big ol’ laugh!
To California! To California!
Only believe in the possibility of your nation.

Week later landing and running to Sacramento.
What a story, and how all the good ones go:
He married the first girl he spoke to, and it’s
never what you know but who you know. In his
life of grand escape, he watched Depression and saw
a nation bloom in to something more. Not that it meant
anything in the end, he was simple enough to enjoy his door.

To Destiny! To California!
May what lays ahead always set you free!
To California! To the western dream!
A road begins from here to Kentucky.

I remember the funeral, I was only three. First person
I knew to die; first march to surrender a funeral wreath .
Hank Williams played through the night,
the old Cottonwoods raged before the street,
a few weeks later I saw the train and recognized that old beat.
It is the twang of history, a precession of candlelight
Not even the rust can throw it off its tune, powered by song
and the wandering moonlight strolls to see its thunder:
To California, my heart for every wonder.

— syd williams.

dragonbaby

Since I’ve been snowed in for a few days (hello from Oregon, hello cabin fever), I’ll actually be posting stuff — yes, real, actual writing — instead of the usual nonsense I’ve been posted to, uh, relaunch this really small, really dumb blog. Anywho: DragonBaby. Happy Friday. — syd williams.

batmanphysics

— nemo williams.