Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Wendt Museum Newsletter

Work was recently suspended in converting the women’s restroom into a visiting artists gallery ( Women never visit our museum anyway, why ever would we need a room for them to rest in: let them rest outside) . Workers complained of being overcome with noxious maritime defecation odors; giving credence to the old axiom, "Don’t work where you shit"

The ever so metrosexual Madame Oglepuss recently handled the museum fundraisers, hosting a large set of balls. Previously, the doyenne was accustomed to holding much smaller balls, but some money changed hands in a Rodeo Drive plastic surgery clinic and now she is able to boast much larger productions. The museum was pleased with her philanthropy of $1.74 and two unopened packages of Four Seasons Hotel cocktail beverage napkins.

Our esteemed fine arts chairperson, Anso St. Cyr, is actively engaged in our "Life is Art" exhibit. Mr St. Cyr has carefully spent the last 3 months interviewing the first candidate; uh,uh "Brian." Brian understands this selection is a lengthy process and has taken up residence at the Museum working very hard; we hear often until late in the night. Our nightwatchmen Horatio Phlem stated he doesn’t mind as long as they do not disturb the horses.

Look forward to the spring opening of our exhibition " A slice of time in decomposition: extractions from International land fills" . Our founder states, "If you think you have experienced piles, we assure you, you have never seen piles like this !"

Finally we ask for your patience at the delayed opening of our collection of twentieth century weed whackers. Cicumstance beyond our control has prevented it. Museum patron Archibald McLeash was injured in a freak accident yesterday during a preview showing by Museum Dominatrix Leticia (Lash) LaRue. Details are sparse, but Mr McLeash was rushed to the hospital with multiple lacerations all over his torso. Ms LaRue was overcome with emotion, and unable to clarify the happenstance, but other museum patrons report hearing someone screaming "more, More", and "kneel, bitch" prior to the discovery. The exhibit will open as soon as the museum establishes a foundation to fund the gasoline.

Monday, March 24, 2008

only a cough

Not the shallow, sharp spasm of earlier years - smokers cough!!
Now, it comes from a deep place. Slow and prolonged yet vigorous huff, like blowing out a candle.
Mouth wide open, trying not to wheeze.
Bring up that awful, heavy clot of phlegm and put it in a tissue.

an actor, sitting in a wheelchair, feet now cold - numb
an oxygen tank at his side.
He knows he can still smoke cigarettes……….
if he keeps the oxygen nearby and has someone to push him around in his wheelchair to the house of his son and grandchildren only blocks away.
Gone are the days of roundball, to soar and, spinning to the bucket, laying it in over a shoulder and speeding backcourt to jump high blocking a shot.
sit down at the top of the stairs.

How alone can you get?

Those moments with my beloved, during the night while choking and gasping.
so constant and loving and smart. But no one is smart when it comes to this!
Moments of mutual disappointment.

What is a lung?
a sponge
imagine a kitchen sponge after twenty years.

Do what you can!
Take all the photographs and manuscripts and children's drawings and birthday cards and lift the 100 pound sack into the trunk of the Cadillac.
Take a rest.
Drive very fast to the city dump and heave the bag as far as you are allowed.

To what a nonsense of misery the human spirit can be reduced. It is not the nicotine. It's about compulsion. I am compelled to ……….
It all ends in a plasticine tent. Blurred visions and muffled voices saying goodbye!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It’s all about the music.
Long days, hot into the evenings; a Shiner Boch saves all.

We were lucky. In two days we saw 19 bands, not counting the ones we walked away from. With 1700 bands in town, Steve Schnipper and I were busy and, I repeat, we were lucky. We saw Okkerville River, voted as Indie Band of the Year in the outdoor space of an art gallery that backed onto an alley. To the right was free beer; to the left were the beer outlets. In between was “hot rocks” sponsored by Schuba’s Bar – located at Belmont and Southport. Steve called his daughter in Chicago to say where we were and she replied, “Dad, you’re really pissin’ me off ”. (They made up later).

We first heard a classic rock set by Ben Jalean from New Jersey; good start! Then River took the stage and played four songs in a forty minute set. Wow – watch for this band. Lead, rhythm and bass electric guitars (rhythm does acoustic plug-in on two songs) keyboard, drums, mandolin, synthesizer, and shakers and tambourines and a Casio playing piano and lead singer and harmony vocal and the whole band does vocal chorus except the drummer who’s workin his ass off. This is “new” music – it is not your mothers’ rock n’ roll. It’s staccato and melodic with soothing sounds punctuated with raw poetry. I thought bands that could vary tempos in a single piece were, if not sophisticated, at least on the edge. River shows how close to the edge you should never try to be unless you’re willing to take risks.

River risks! In three songs (all written by Will Sheff) the back beat gives way to new pacing and all bass disappears to free the lead where it goes to what I’ve always considered alternative rock and finally to free-form styles until the back beat takes over – once with a thundering interruption; another time with simple snare and cymbal. As their last song ended, the gathering of maybe 250 people cheered and knew they’d just heard something special. Steve liked them; I soon was to consider them second best.

We had six bands under our belt by five P.M. and headed to an outdoor venue called Auditorium Shores. Three bands on the menu: Grupo Phantasmo, Del the Funky Homo-Sapien and lastly, the reason I came; Spoon.

Grupo is a Latin band that recently signed a contract to open for Prince every Thursday night at his Las Vegas showcase. Grupo has the Latin beat worked down to a twelve piece band with conga drums, four brass and two sax, drummer, three guitars and a pump organ and lead singer. They’re o.k. Their Momma loves ‘em. When Del began to sing I turned my back and had a long-running conversation with a young man from Austin who knew the ins and outs of this festival. Later.

First, Spoon.
The truth about spoon is they are no longer an “indie” band. In late 2007, they signed with BMI for a shit load of money and have cut an album and will be on the road the rest of this year; but, they made a commitment to SXSW and here they were. They played a 80 minute set and didn’t get paid in dollars. The band was six people that hot Thursday night, though their label says four. Lead, rhythm, bass, drums, keys and trumpet. Three more brass from Grupo Phantasmo joined for two songs and the stage was full of gear! I once saw Emerson Lake and Palmer in the early seventies and till now it was the most cluttered stage I’d ever seen – that’s not a bad thing and I don’t even think it means anything.(delete)? Spoon started softly. Melody was the rhythm. Piano kicked in and still was soft lead and keys until bass led them to a double tempo. From that point it was kick ass rock n roll bordering on frenetic. They rushed furiously to a calm. Started back up in a new key; Not a lot of people do that successfully – they’re good.

This was a two thousand people outdoor venue and it took us a while to get to Red River where we saw three more bands. Steve found his band of the day – I said I thought they were out of sync and Steve told me that was on purpose. WTF

Friday – more music – the only one I’ll talk about was a group from New Delhi. Yes, one guy did wear a turban and they came to the U.S. in late February. If this is the state of rock music in India, I’m buying some linen and leaving on a jet plane! There are concept albums that fall into a genre called symphonic rock, including the late works of King Crimson and even some Pink Floyd. This five piece band weaves what can be called a mystical sound amongst all its instruments; keys, lead, bass, rhythm and drums. Their lyrics remind me of why poetry is set to music. They sing of Home and Traveling Blues and Fly Away and Sweet Despair – all themes of a band searching for their own lost chord. They have a Moody Blues sound, but not so big. In many ways their music is gentle and “climbing on clouds to the mountain of dreams” until it reminds there is danger in not being home. Mystical lyrics layered into their sound. The name of the band is “menwhopause”. P.S. – they are on myspace.

A registration badge to get into all events of the week is $600. A daily pass for residents is $90. Steve and I paid nothing to see nineteen bands and drink free beer. The whole thing in music is change – the big four record companies don’t make a splash. Indies best bet is corporate sponsorship. Agents are everywhere and if your tune fits a rental car marketing plan, why not take the bucks for all the years spent on the road. You gotta live and it’s no longer considered a “sell-out” because corps do a very good job of paying.

Indie bands have been shocked in years past to see the risk that the big four take in signing on. It is less than zero! Most of us don’t know that. Let me ask you; are there more business failures in selling coffee than there are in the art of making music? If you didn’t get the answer right, you owe an ear to the gods of art. Make no mistake that SXSW was a business convention first; then glitz came in with strong marketing tools and big, very big bucks yet somehow, in that world of musical dreams from Saint-Sans to U2 people walked into the venue and said “that music is ours”. I would not have thought it possible until I saw it; the last time this happened was the late sixties.

To see it, you must reserve early and make your venue plan late; right before the start. With so much going on, don’t be surprised if you don’t see one of your fav’s. Besides, discovery is the adventure I was on. I found new music.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Horses gallop through the gates of Heaven
and manage still not to trample the worms

Federal Express delivers a package
to a dead man in Des Moines

And seeds are sometimes stillborn
not taking root even in fertile valley

Comprehension is a limit
only in the mind of man

-Jerry Wendt

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Darjeeling Limited; a review

One of life’s greatest rewards is the continuum of receiving “gifts.” Rather than the childhood formal presentations of “I want” birthdays or holidays, they mature into delightful little treasures of discovery, coming from who- knows- where to surprise us once again at how little we know of the waters in which we swim. Things like “Wired Magazine” or “Sahale snacks” are the condiments of an extrospective life.
One such surprise I have had to coin a word for. “Trainsport” is my word for the movie The Darjeeling Limited . A surreal word for a railroad romp of a surreal travelogue through India on an adventure of the human spirit.

Where my last cinematic foray, Elizabeth; The Golden Age , was an actor’s movie and a costume designer’s dream, “Limited” is a director’s film. This is not an East Indian “Borat.” Still funny; much more subtle. From the exquisite editing, the scintillating dialogue and the stylistic cinematography, we are gifted with a clever story that needs no attention to plot. Rather, it is better that you just sit back and allow yourself the pleasure of travelling along as the story unfolds. The seduction scene, where one of the brothers and a Indian female train attendant play to one another as heads stuck out the windows of the speeding train for a furtive “smoke,” is but one example of the directorial delights. And, I can recollect no other movie where luggage gets a co-star billing; but, boy, is it grand luggage. And, indicative of a piece I wrote elsewhere on conspicuous consumption; for conspicuous consumption is a big part of this adventure. At first I was put off by the branded placement of an “I-Pod,” as a prop, but then realized it was a segue for the music that is so much a part of the film. Everything is there for a reason, if even for a neurotic one.

The movie is actually two. There is a short film that precedes the main feature. While set in modern day, the art nouveau style is reminiscent of a big 1920’s studio production, lavish in the detail. Listen to the words of the song that backgrounds this first introductory piece. It is setting you up for all the forthcoming conspicuous consumption.

You will laugh. You will be bewildered. You will be confused. You will be moved. Let yourself be. This is as much meant to be an adventure for you as for the characters in the film. Even the cameo by Angelica Huston, a personal fave, is just another squeeze of juice in this sweet lime of a movie. It is among the best I have screened this year.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Love

An infinity of glowing sparks dancing toward twinkling sky
from the embers of late summers night beach bonfire
fanned by caressing flower fragrant breezes carrying
a symphony of rustling leaves, lapping gentle waves, and hypnotic crickets
on stage before an audience of wide eyed eternal youth
sitting trapped inside the theater of a body
bus riding to work on winters gray morning
while the heart puts on
a pageant of new love
for an enraptured mind.

-Jerry Wendt
for Jose


I was greeted today by a gruntled
postal worker. He smiled at my approach,
pleasantly asked how he could help me, grinned
at ever-growing lines of customers.
He was endlessly patient as I changed
my mind at least twice, efficiently gave
me stamps, and wished me well. At noon, he lunched
with laughing co-workers at a sunny
street cafe, hurrying back to relieve
a tired colleague. He barely remembers
the shotgun in his locker, a black stick
used on days like these to prop open bright
shimmering windows and let in airy
breezes to waft away murderous dreams.

Monday, March 10, 2008


The funeral was a quilt intimately crafted by those who cared. Through their tears, they had sewn squares of bitter-sweet memory into the whole cloth of the mass, the hymns, and the poetry. Wrapped in the tender tapestry, Stan lay secure.

Stained glass, candles and white vestments lit the church. Scripture gave comfort, the homily consolation, the eulogy honor to Stan and to the families who loved him. The last hymn ended quietly. The priest sprinkled Stan's shrouded casket with holy water and the pallbearers bore him down the aisle toward the church's stately doors. The mourners followed tentatively.

As all were about to leave in silence, the hushed piano of the final hymn began again, its plaintive song muffled by the voids of the high church. The music was tasteful, respectful, quick and full of life. You had to listen carefully to tell that it was a polka.

The music that was Stan filled the sanctuary. Here was the young man who played his accordion with Paul and Mishka in a polka band. Here was the troubled soul who bumbled and complained but who always had something good to say about his wife and his family to his friends. Here was Stan, who used his music to relate, to give life meaning, to get by, to survive the pain of hard work, divorce and alcoholism, to outlast family dissolution, to celebrate reconciliation with his children, to revel in his new marriage. The piano recapped the verse and bounced into another chorus. "It's just another polka..." step - together, "Just another polka..." Hope, escape, struggle, triumph, the sounds Stan had finally learned to make without apology, without playing a note or singing a word flowed from who he was.

Lou Stanek

© L. J. Stanek 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Before Dawn

The click of the front door woke me.

"She must be on the early shift." The thought tugged and prodded until I was fully awake. I hated the idea of Carolyn at the station alone, an easy target at five A.M. on a Sunday. I dressed quickly. Pulling my walking shoes over bare feet, I hurried out into the crisp blackness.

She had already reached the platform, the lone passenger under the heat lamps, when I found her. The train was nowhere to be seen. I honked the horn. She climbed the long ramp, and in a minute we were on our way downtown, the only car on the highway.

The old van was cold and Carolyn shared her gloves with me to stop the biting in my fingers. She was surprised and touched that I had come after her at the early hour without prompting. Through the frosty windshield, she pointed out a new moon surrounded by the ring of earthshine that appears just before dawn.

We talked nothings but enjoyed each others company.

"I'm writing again," I said.

"I'm glad," she replied.

"Sorry about driving so slowly. I have to get back to an open station with the little gas I have."

"That's OK. We have plenty of time."

We turned off into the deserted city. Christmas stars on the shuttered opera house gleamed their electric best in private performance. We had the broad avenue to ourselves.

"See those obelisks in the median there," Carolyn asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"Al's friend built them. He's an architect, too. He did all the work on their details. And he built the clock in Ogden Plaza by North Pier."

"Is he as young as Al?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "He's known all over the city but he just lost his job. His firm is cutting back. He's the youngest one there."

"Mom heard you talking to Al on the phone yesterday. She said your voice just lit up."

She smiled. "Too bad it's not mutual. But I like being around him anyway."

The drive wove along the river and the ice glowed a soft pink under the sodium lamps. We were finally warm now, thanks less to the inadequate van heater than to each other.

"You can drop me here," said Carolyn. "Thanks again, Dad. I love you."

The trip back to Oak Park was longer, but a hint of blue in my mirrors promised a good day.

Lou Stanek
© 2008 L. J. Stanek

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Just an entry

to some

for me it's one of those things on my "bucket list".

It's SXSW time!

Wonder what the pic is about?

I'm about to get "blown away".

In my little world of rock n' roll, there were four regrets. #1 is never learning to play the electic guitar

#2 is never having seen Janis

#3 ditto for the "60's, 70's Rolling Stones

and lastly, SXSW

next week, approximately 1650 indie bands from around the world will play in Austin, TX. Last year there were over 1500 and Tom Petty showed to do a free concert - but he and the pros are an aside.

The feature is the indie hard working, committed musicians who will showcase their art to 1100 producers. The music comes from everywhere - Denmark and Australia and China and Buenos Aries and Lisbon, etc.

It's rock and roll and country and rap and grunge and alternative and pop and R&B and hip-hop and they're all looking to be the next CCR or 50 cent.

I'm leaving Tuesday for four days of rock.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


by Sheena Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,

from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel

faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,

Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;

elect an honest man; decide they care

enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.

Some men become what they are born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go

amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow

that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.



I stand ;
The stalwart apple
roots deep and nourished
My frame strained with final fruiting
flourished full and heavy with sweet fruits

My leaves fall as invitations;
I am here for you yet still
before the cold

But no one comes to shelter in my canopy
or pick sweetness from my branches
and my apples rot only for the butterflies

No seedlings of mine have rooted
and I know there are no more buds to
tickle spring noses.
I ask;
Can trees feel pain ?

And from my timber
reverberates God
who answers :

"Yes ;
But you are not a tree.
I have given you legs to walk toward
and arms to hold
and a heart to love
and eyes to marvel.
It is but for you
to use them
and reach out."

-Jerry Wendt

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I wanted to be an engineer. My grandma told me, "Louie, that's wonderful, you'll build great things. How grand!" I let her believe it. But my father knew what I meant. I wanted to drive a train.

I watched trains, played with trains, sang songs about trains. Trains roared and chugged and puffed through my imagination, as real to me as the coal smoke that blew from the tracks across the street into our screenless windows.

On summer evenings, my father and I would cross the tracks and walk, hand in hand, down to the corner to get the late paper, a Red Streak. On a good day, we’d stop for ice cream at the Greeks.

That night, on the way home, paper in hand, my father spied an engine parked close-by on the side track, a new diesel. Unlike the noisy giants that woke me nearly every night, spitting coal smoke from their stacks and steam from their wheels, this little engine sat idling quietly. Pungent oil fumes shimmered from its short stack, the little flapper on top jiggling up and down. The engineer I wanted to be sat high up in the cab, in washed out coveralls and a gray striped cap. He smoked the ever present cigarette of the generation as he waited for the main line to clear.

The track was just a grimy city siding. The train wasn't moving. The engineer was middle-aged and bored and flabby. It was sheer magic. I stood agape, staring up in awe. My father struck up a conversation and soon the engineer beckoned and we were aboard, asking about this dial, that lever. I absorbed every rough word he spoke.

“About 10,000 horsepower ... The diesel powers electric motors at each wheel... No, I’m never gone overnight but my son takes the Super Chief out to California every second week-end.”

My father listened, too. A working man, not used to special treatment, it took courage to ask, "Any chance you can give the boy a ride?"

In 1949, humanity trumped liability. The engineer reached out and lifted me into his lap. He placed my hand on a shiny lever and said "Push. Not too hard, now."

I pushed, just enough, and the engine came alive. The idling throb became a grumble, then a steady whine. The cab shuddered and at less than a mile an hour we crept ahead toward the red signal guarding the main track about a hundred yards away.

A hundred yards was a continent. I flew past cattle and people and dogs at 80 miles an hour. I loaded grain in Cedar Rapids, coal in Omaha, water in Denver. I chugged up the Rockies to the Great Divide. With a hand on the throttle and an eye on my watch, I ran flat out across the Mojave. The track was mine alone. By the time someone intruded, easing my hand and the throttle back toward his pot belly, the sharp hiss of air brakes announced my arrival in Los Angeles thirty minutes ahead of schedule.

The engineer pointed to a steel mushroom next to the throttle. “Ready for some noise, son?” he asked. "Press it, hard, but just once. Go ahead." High pressure air raced through a tiny silver horn with a blast, challenging the great steam whistles of my imagination.

We said our thank-yous, climbed down the ladder and headed for the Greeks. At the curb, I reached up for my father’s hand. It was one thing to cross a continent alone, but quite another for a seven year old to cross a street.

Lou Stanek
© 2008 L. J. Stanek

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Conspicious Consumption

Ladies with Arpel penciled eyebrows and husky voices
wrapped in fox and tailored Chanel suits with cameos
and Gucci scarves,
matching Hermes Italian leather bags and shoes,
furtive flashes of gold
proclaiming the look of Connecticut Country clubs
and summer cottages on the Vineyard
with regatta luncheons punctuated
with peonies and Gibsons.

Gentlemen in grey flannel Botany suits
under tan London Fog trenches
walking on Bostonian wingtip brogues .
Slicked lush hair bracketed in grey
crisp white Brooks Brothers starched shirts;
with an attending aura of English Leather
radiating important business titles befitting
expense account steak lunches
after Tanqueray and Schweppes

Stepping smartly from white
Lincoln Continentals with red leather seats
or sedate navy Buick Roadmasters reeking of chrome
into a flurry of coddling uniformed agents
and muted lyrical loudspeaker pages
Whisked into airport Ambassador Club for
a Phillip Morris cigarette
and perhaps a coffee with Baileys

A low lidded glance
with quick flourish of the New York Times,
Town and Country, or Vogue magazines.
Seated in modern leather sofas with mustard boucle chairs
amongst philodendron planters against walnut walls appliqued with golden logos.
While the ceiling wafts forth Miles Davis,
Percy Faith, or Montovani.

Awaiting a call
For TWA flight 5
Super Constellation service
direct from Idlewild to Bombay

Important people, Important things, and Important places to go
In an era heralding rebirth of Conspicuous consumption
bringing glamour to a post war starved population
wanton to spend and impress with purchased facades

Signs of a time
and a total wonderment
to a 12 year old boy

- Jerry Wendt


Today is but yesterday's tomorrow

and everything is transitory.

Strong expectations

can even create fleeting realities.

Memory as mere infatuation

with continuum.

-jerry wendt