by Mark M
Hello to Racine Writer in Residence readers, one and all. I’m pretty excited about the next six months, and I am honored to have been granted this role.
A little about me.
I was born and raised in the Minneapolis, MN area of the US(A). Fresh out of college at the University of Minnesota, I relocated to Racine to take an office job. (Now I am all retiremented.)
I actually don’t greatly identify with the word “writer” and maybe why will become quite obvious, but in 1985 (in the photocopier era as opposed to the desktop computer era), at the suggestion of a pen pal friend, I started a zine. He suggested I call it Sumari Bulletin. I named it Sumari BULLetin, alternately S.BULL.
Sumari is a word out of Jane Roberts’ “Seth” books which we were/are huge fans of and means, approximately, artistic person.
I was never that comfortable with that name because of the utter obscurity of the word “Sumari” (essentially a word from Jane Roberts speaking a glossolalia) so I eventually changed the name of the zine to The (something), much to the chagrin of that now-deceased friend who actually absurdly thought “S.BULL” was the first zine and that he coined the word “zine.” (This is from the Talk tab for “zine” on Wikipedia: ‘He seems to be pushing the idea that he came up with the word “‘zine”, but he’s going about it the wrong way,’ indicating he apparently tried to edit the Wikipedia entry for zine to show this.)
It came out every other month under each name. “Tom Dark,” not yet using that name, then lived in San Francisco where I would send a batch of copies as well as a batch to my brother, pen name Michaelis, in Minneapolis to distribute as freebies. I handled Racine and Milwaukee.
It was a lot of fun to engage in a lot of wordplay, deliberate misspellings for humor, and so forth, and to also edit/publish the work of mostly people I knew, one of whom was Dan Nielsen of Racine.
At one point, to another friend, Phil Schultz (see below), I called the zine “artistic” and he, a practicing artist with a master’s degree in art, rather begged to differ. So I joked that perhaps it wasn’t fine art, but, instead, coarse art.
I wrapped that up in 1990.
Later, in 1994, I started and put out about 6 monthly issues of another zine I called The Holy Teenage Incest Chronicle Thing or THTICT which consisted of the work of friends and also local actual teenagers who hung out at a now defunct downtown coffee shop called Centre City and drew sketches and wrote poetry — and smoked a lot of cigarettes — whew! This was the era before indoor smoking bans.
The word “incest” was a deliberate choice to be controversial, but, I assure you, was not practiced! (Or maybe I should speak only for myself — I can’t be responsible for any actions that took place behind my back!) It was a zine, again of my friends and I, therefore, a figurative incest, “incestuous” as in “not good because of always involving the same group of people“; you know, kind of like corporate boards whose members also sit on other corporate boards like one big, happy, rich family.
Certainly, THTICT was not good. It was either bad or very good and no better.
A note on my pen name: It is simply a truncation of my real name: Mark M
ilton Giese. I simply prefer it to my real name.
When I would cut out poems or such to paste up onto a zine page, I would end up with a lot of rectangular pieces of paper as scrap and always felt I should artistically do something with them and finally did.
Later I realized what I would paste up was very much like the work of the ca. 1915 Russian Suprematists.
My artist’s statement is:
Yes, your kid could have done that.
Near the end of that first zine in 1990, I published a little chapbook called Lifesize which in only a few pages was meant as a spoof of a novel in five chapters of only a sentence or two each.
Someone at Centre City suggested I write a sequel to that and doing that begat about 60 subsequent chapbook titles including a heavily-abridged chapbook dictionary and an 8-volume chapbook Mcyclopedia.
I still have some back issues of the zines and chapbooks. These were also actually once at the Racine Public Library, but some years back were disposed of.
What had me decide to apply to the WiR position, which I wasn’t that aware of until Jenny Mauer writing about zines and asking about mine, was seeing how some of predecessor Jeanne Arnold’s work was written or originated years ago and I figured I can do similarly by drawing on the work I did in my zines and chapbooks.
Also, I noted that Kelsey Harris would include her cool art amongst her posts, likewise with John Bloner, and I figured I’d do the same.
Here are a few “sayings” from my first “sayings” chapbook, The Maxims of Mark M (1994, 1996, the bad old days):
Well, here we are, spending our lives.
Be sure to do things.
If at first you don’t exceed, try, try to gain.
If you must drive, drive reckfully.
Join the army and never be at peace.
It sometimes seems people have pets in order to pet the pet instead of petting other people.
Love is always right.
Have you ever considered that perhaps a molecule or two of water in your saliva could once have been in Hitler’s urine?
LSD effect: enforced illumination
alcohol effect: enforced stupidity
Thou shall not slay (OK?).
Ecccentricity is the path to Gawd.
William of Occam was wrong; things are just not that simple.
Go tell it on the mountain; I don’t want to listen to it here.
If you can’t read, take heart, you can probably watch television pretty good.
As an anarchist, I don’t believe in law, but I do believe in order.
Give me some liberty, or give me a big owie.
People who live in glass houses should throw nude parties.
Question for Ouija board:
What do you want to know?
God thinks of everything.
The Golden Age is Now (or never).
Tomorrow is a day.
Life offers unending opportunities for compromise.
As Racine Writer in Residence, one of my responsibilities, besides making weekly posts, is a community project. I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” I don’t know as I write this if this will cause a flood of responses or hardly any responses at all. If a “flood,” I will obviously have to pick and choose. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain your copyright for what you submit.
E-mail your submission to m.mk at att.net
I also plan for my community project to briefly interview some Racine-area creative types.
To get the guest appearance ball rolling, here is a piece by my weekly Scrabble opponent, self-described artist, poet, thinker and writer Phil Schultz, a Racine native and resident, who writes under the pen name of J.B. SHAULTZ (all caps):
from my scribbled notes, an attempt to “begin”… (A Preamble)
“hierarchies” of physical movements, and, voids, including, accepting the “transfers-transmittals” of nonlinear thoughts, concepts; ideas, and “paranormal” nuances, non-apprehensible in the “ethers” beyond the 5 known senses received by a “higher” osmot (osmosis organized, dependent) being, i.e., commonly known as “human,” a composite amalgamation of existant subatomic, composed, growth exchanging, excreted, affected particles over- and underlaid by physic’ly unorganizing mortality, and the “universes and infinities” of “time,” and “soul,” while trying [to] differentiate in “words” and “symbols” the undifferentiateable complexities of here, who, how, what, why, when, there, and where, each as partial examples for incomplete examination and consideration in a huge, conceptualized, “shared” civilization of sentient life forms, attempting [to] co-exist in (‘joke’- “harmony, Penncilvania”) … (to be continued)
If you like sonnets (me, not so much), you’ll love SHAULTZ who has written one per day for decades:
Language derived word’s concerns,
without an history of learned
have often lost original discerns,
while contexts newer alter works…
Time’s advancing centuries
retire tired old miseries’
in reality’s’new presentlies…
Mostly in my brain I search
for truths of any lasting worth,
but tending Scrabble game’s unease,
at line 9 above friend please,
old body, tired and adverse,
eked out win eventu’lly….
May 29, 2022 (same date as the piece above) (c) Phil Schultz
(It looks like Phil’s eyes are closed.)
Phil self-describes his paintings as “American Academic Abstract Primitive Mannerist” (he also sculpts, calling his work “Figurative Surrealism”) and here is a portrait he did of me, ca. 1990, where the background is in his self-described manner:
OK. Back to Mark M here. Now let’s see… What would Gore Vidal do?
(Oops, this post is gonna be way longer than I thought at the outset. Perhaps the reader can pretend they’re reading an article from The New Yorker or something. Actually, preparing in advance posts 2 and 3, it seems like my posts are going to be multi-topic, a bit like a magazine or a zine.)
I have a weakness at often having strong points of view of which there is a very strong urge to express. Some of my zine work and chapbooks had Mark M opinions in them so this is nothing new for me. But such Mark M expressions here in these posts are not necessarily at all the views of ArtRoot, the Racine Literacy Council, nor the generous grant funders, the Osborne & Scekic Family Foundation, but are instead entirely my own.
Ukraine! (and also forests which are cities of trees)
No doubt you, the reader, are well aware of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine (so, yes, he is a war criminal as are all the U.S. presidents since WW II, Obama and Biden included). And, with pacifism as my ideal, I can hardly approve of any invasion and so I don’t.
But the U.S. corporate media in covering that war is lying by omission in an entirely wholesale manner which assuredly amounts to U.S. propaganda.
To wit (again), little reported if at all — and remember that, in war, truth is the first casualty:
In 2014, in Ukraine, there was a U.S.-backed coup that deposed the democratically-elected Ukraine leader who was friendly to Russia in favor of one that was not friendly to Russia.
During the GHW Bush era, with the reunification of Germany and the reunified Germany then admitted into NATO, the then Soviet Union was assured by the U.S. that NATO would not expand further eastward.
There have been high-ranking U.S. government people ever since such as George Kennan, Henry Kissinger and Biden’s CIA chief who have warned that expanding NATO is provocative to Russia. And yet, Bill Clinton/Madeleine Albright first expanded it as have subsequent administrations.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was no more Warsaw Pact. So why is there still a NATO?
Is expanding NATO U.S. ineptitude or deliberate provocation?
Here is world-famous U.S. dissident Noam Chomsky (b.1928, who made the assertion above about all post-WW II U.S. presidents) asserting provocation and insisting on U.S. censorship concerning Ukraine:
“Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise, they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion. By now, censorship in the United States has reached such a level beyond anything in my lifetime. Such a level that you are not permitted to read the Russian position. Literally. Americans are not allowed to know what the Russians are saying. Except, selected things. So, if Putin makes a speech to Russians with all kinds of outlandish claims about Peter the Great and so on, then, you see it on the front pages. If the Russians make an offer for a negotiation, you can’t find it. That’s suppressed. You’re not allowed to know what they are saying. I have never seen a level of censorship like this.”
Here is peace activist David Swanson who asserted about Russia’s pre-invasion demands that:
“These were perfectly reasonable, just what the U.S. demanded when Soviet missiles were in Cuba, just what the U.S. would demand now if Russian missiles were in Canada, and ought to have simply been met, or at the very least treated as serious points to be respectfully considered.”
Above is from here and one can also read Putin’s pre-invasion demands there. On Swanson’s website, above one of his posts, he had a banner that read: Russia Out of Ukraine; NATO Out of Existence.
Britain and France have both sent naval vessels to the Channel island of Jersey amid an escalating row over fishing rights.
Swanson points out that if these two NATO nations were to attack one another, all of the NATO countries would have to attack one another.
Fresh Air/NPR on March 1 aired an interview with Journalist Anne Applebaum who has been covering the war in Ukraine for The Atlantic. She essentially tried to paint Putin as irrational and there was this inane observation: “In other words, the Russians see us as an enemy, us — and I mean America and Western Europe and Central Europe. They perceive us as an enemy.”
Sheesh! And why not?
Atlantic magazine, can’t you do better than that? Or, Terry Gross, you just let that go by?
NATO military exercises take place in the Baltic states, nations which border Russia. Military exercises are a show of potential force. How much would the U.S. stand for military exercises across the Rio Grande if Mexico were a military ally of, say, China?
Possibly Putin is not quite the fiend we are being told he is:
“These Pentagon sources [in a leak] confirm what Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense have been saying all along: that instead of being ‘stalled,’ Russia is executing a methodical war plan to encircle cities, opening humanitarian corridors for civilians, leaving civilian infrastructure like water, electricity, telephony and internet intact, and trying to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible.”
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky banned all opposition parties and banned the use of Russian as a second state language. … he violate[d] his 2019 campaign promise to stop the genocidal killing of thousands in Donbas [which means he was killing his own people].”
Won’t Get Fooled Again
A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress [about the Viet Nam War — which in Viet Nam is called the American War].”
When NATO is expanded, it is a sales opportunity for U.S. arms merchants. NATO is, in part an arms bazaar.
To this end, check this out:
RAYTHEON CEO GREG HAYES WELCOMES E. EUROPEAN TENSION
We know the only people who will benefit from war with Russia are the war profiteers. Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes was quoted as remaining optimistic about rising tensions in Eastern Europe saying that he “fully expect[s]” that “we’re going to see some benefit from it.”
–CODEPINK e-mail of Feb 3, 2022
Notice that U.S. corporate media reporting shows that the U.S. is “all about” sending Ukraine more arms, talk of possible negotiations seems nonexistent, and who has ever heard that invasions can be nonviolently resisted such as what Denmark and Norway did in opposition to Nazi occupation (which is an answer to the eternal “What about Hitler?” question):
1940–1943 Denmark Danish resistance movement During World War II, after the invasion of the Wehrmacht, the Danish government adopted a policy of official co-operation (and unofficial obstruction) which they called “negotiation under protest.” Embraced by many Danes, the unofficial resistance included slow production, emphatic celebration of Danish culture and history, and bureaucratic quagmires.
1940–1945 Norway Norwegian resistance movement During World War II, Norwegian civil disobedience included preventing the Nazification of Norway’s educational system, distributing of illegal newspapers, and maintaining social distance (an “ice front”) from the German soldiers.
“Though it defies consensus, between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.”
Of course, there is no guaranteeing that one will come out alive when nonviolently resisting, but there is certainly no guarantee that one will come out alive when violently resisting, in other words, when one is fighting.
Many nations abstained or did not vote on the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s actions:
(abstaining) China, India, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam; (not voting) Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela—[here] one sees that countries representing the majority of the world’s population and a huge portion of its land mass are not with the U.S. on this.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a press conference in Poland after returning from an unannounced visit to Ukraine.”
Trying to weaken Russia is hardly win-win (peaceful, coexistent diplomacy).
It takes more brains to negotiate peace than to pull triggers, drop bombs, and fire missiles.
Are Biden et al. not up to the task? Too stoopid?
You can write him urging negotiation here.
And Tammy “F-35’s” Baldwin here.
And Ron “illegal fake electors” Johnson here.
And Bryan “who doesn’t want to hear from you since his webform is spread over 4 pages not just one and his Racine office requires you to pass through the courthouse metal detector” Steil here.
(By the way, another current war tragedy is what Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemen with U.S. support and weapons.)
Finally, all these efforts of the U.S. to fight to the last Ukrainian (a U.S. proxy war on Russia with the danger of escalation to planet-ruining nuclear war) neglect or impede efforts to properly deal with climate change and — abrupt changing of gears here! — unless you are using toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled paper, you are part of flushing forests and therefore wildlife habitat down the toilet! Please stop doing that! Corporations like Procter & Gamble (Charmin) are mowing down forests to make toilet paper.
Look for toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled paper such as Green Forest or Seventh Generation or order on-line — from an outlet other than mega-corporation Amazon (who doesn’t need your money), if possible.
I have seen TP made from bamboo and even sugar cane. I am not sure of the environmental impact of these.
Wow, you’ve read this far? Thank you!