Pumpkin Seeds: Random Edition

1. I don’t particularly lke Jay Leno, but this was funny and on point:

I love that the Department of Homeland Security always tells Americans if you don’t fly commercial airlines, “the terrorists have won.” If you don’t hold the Super Bowl or the World Series, “the terrorists have won.” If you don’t get out to the mall and do your Christmas shopping, “the terrorists have won.” Comes time for the election, “Oh, let the terrorists have that one.”

2. Taylor Mali offers the best explanation of the whole NPS/ClearChannel hubbub over in his journal and, if what he says is the complete truth, then it makes me a little less uncomfortable about the situation. Nevertheless, my general opinion of how the situation was handled and the underlying issues it brings to light stand. Here’s how I explained it to Scott Woods, who had a refreshingly honest take on what’s happened in his journal:

The main problem PSI has it that it stumbles from situation to situation, applying band-aids – or not even, in some cases – and never taking the time to step back and deal with the big picture. Back in 2001, when MN was undeservedly [at the time of the bid] given 2002 and it became clear that 2003 forward had no qualified bidders on deck, I proposed PSI take a year off from NPS and go back to the drawing board to redefine the organization, its mission, policies and procedures from the ground up. Too many people were afraid that out of sight meant out of mind, though and PSI couldn’t survive the sabbatical. [Like its office space was going to be repossessed or something?] Not to mention that Marc Smith’s absence meant certain people refused to support anything that might significantly restructure the organization and not leave room, or a need, for his return.

Looking back, between the generally agreed-upon fiasco of 2003 and what’s shaping up to be an ugly 2004, I’m even more convinced that it was the right thing to do and STILL would make sense now.

SlamAmerica was the first instance of PSI letting someone act in its name with little to no input from the community, leading to questionable sponsorship, boneheaded omissions from the tour schedule, a hackjob of a video [did that thing ever actually get released?], and a solid amount of PR that was quickly wasted like Bush and post-9/11 goodwill. Like Tony, there were many who questioned it after the fact, but it’s not like there was complete silence beforehand.

This ClearChannel thing is more than just an issue of some grey area in the host city/PSI contract, it’s indicative of a fundamental flaw in the organization. While I agree with you on the idea that committees need to be accountable for the responsibilities they accept [though anyone in their right mind putting Brett Axel in charge of something not directly benefitting himself and expecting results astounds me], the EC cannot pass the buck and lay the blame at their feet.

For better or worse, sometimes undeservedly, the buck stops with [the Exectuive Committee]. St. Louis will have their party next month and move on, possibly going in the books alongside the Seattle and Connecticut fiascos, but it’s PSI that will have to deal with the long-term fallout. Between this and last year’s badly fumbled anti-war statement situation, you guys have your work cut out for you.

Personally, I would still boycott this year’s NPS on general principle, as I’d been contemplating last year when I was still slammaster of NYC-Union Square. PSI is a ragtag bunch of poets with little to no real-world non-profit experience and they stumble around year-to-year, putting on their increasingly vain and meaningless “poetry” version of WB Superstars USA while frittering away loads of goodwill and great potential. It’s a shame, really, because it could be so much more than it is with the right leadership and a clearer vision for itself. C’est la vie. They’ve alienated better people than me over the years and I certainly don’t regret recapturing the time and energy I used to put in on its behalf.

3. I posed the following question on my LiveJournal and got some interesting feedback but am repeating here as I know there’s not a lot of crossover:

I’m strongly considering shifting my desire to start my own press from the back burner to the front, and I’m curious about what things you’d be looking for in a potential publisher of your work. Skip the obvious stuff like no vanity presses and give me the meaty issues like royalties, design input, distribution, etc.

And give me details, not just a laundry list.

Feel free to hit me backchannel.

4. Salomé and I celebrate our 6th Anniversary this weekend! The kids are going to their Grandma’s and we’re taking a four-day weekend to lay low, catch up on some movies, and eat some good food with some good friends. Six years? Two kids? Makes me think of that job interview staple, “Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?” and where my head was in back in the summer of 1997. Who knew?

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