Dada Koan #25: those hard-to-find postapocalyptic jobs


This blog post is designed to help you plan for successful employment after the apocalypse*. I’ve heard it’s smart to make useful posts that will actually help people. That increases your SEO (deep web blog-ese for Search Engine Optimization). By the way, I skipped a meetup that would’ve showed me how to send 30,000 blog posts at once– how disgusting.

A dada koan is a surreal poem of random words pasted to color paper.

(The Seine River’s autograph is kinda slobbery actually.)

Here’s the above mud and latrine-green poem in B&W:

postapocalyptic successful positions

American success stories:

1) stickup man

2) this family has been trying to sell

an autographed picture of the Seine River

Well, thank you for stopping by. I stepped on my fold-up umbrella and now it doesn’t work so well.


Unrelated Addendum: Highlights of CAKE 2017 (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) at the Center on Halsted last weekend.

  1. Minicomics by the students of Alex Nall (award-winning “Teaching Comics” artist). The ghost (lovely green ghost zaps everybody), “The sad little girl” (she’s on the cover– with huge crying Margaret Keane-eyes), “How MR. BORING got people to listen to him?” (he yells), and “the league of princesses– bad forever” (they chase convicts– or maybe just people in striped clothes).

2.  The Shirley Jackson Project, comics inspired by her life and work, edited by Robert Kirby. Lovely assortment of Shirley pics.

3.  “Toastycats, no. 1” a minicomic by Magda Boreysza– with a swellegant-elegant Laika cartoon and the popular “Meet the Vermins.” Favorite panel is a pickle, baring teeth, saying, “YOU BETTER BE PICKLES CAUSE THIS IS PICKLE LAND & WE GONNA KILL YOU.”

4.  Free CAKE button.

5. “Sixth Mass Extinction” zine by Ines Estrada. Published by Perfectly Acceptable Press with its distinctive color separations.

6.  My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris. (She wore a big black hat to CAKE.) This book is spectacular. This book is stunning. Your mouth goes agog as you turn a page. “Oh my God” pounds in your head. Astonishing, magical, HAUNTING drawings. Scott McCloud’s “Making Comics” predicted this when he wrote that graphic novels were poised to take a giant leap. And guess who’s among those thanked in the acknowledgements?– Beau O’Reilly.

*Keep wanting to add extra “p” to apocalypse. Confusing it with Grant and Lee at Appomattox, I think.


Dada Koan #24: sex dancer on Mars


Here’s another Weekly World News-influenced dada koan. First-timers to this post should know– these are surreal poems created with random words. Well, the capital S joined to the Ex might strike some as a bit of a cheat. Tristan Tzara would be shaking his head and sighing. But sex in caps is a good poem-enhancer.

Here’s the above blood on pink poem in B&W:

an actress

flawed and sumptuous

is SEX dancer

at a

graveyard on Mars

pulling weeds

cutting down weeds

Weather really cold

I had a friend who was a sex dancer. She did it for a month to prepare for a role in the play In the Boom Boom RoomShe told me that when people asked her to do things she agreed because “who am I to say no?” She additionally worked for a brief time at a sex phone place. She said the other women were quite old and bored and eating big ham sandwiches while they talked.

Well, thank you very much for stopping by. May 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.


Unrelated Addendum #1: Read for two days straight. Didn’t go out of the apartment– sustained by animal crackers, pretzels, diet soda, vitamins.

1) The Sisters by Mary S. Lovell. Bio of the Mitford sisters– a rich and powerful clan. There’s six of them just like Henry the VIII’s wives. Debo (duchess), Diane (big-time fascist married to Oswald Mosley), Nancy (novelist), Jessica (muckraker and Commie), Pam (magnificent blue eyes matched her blue stove), and Unity Valkyries (super-duper rabid Nazi and Hitler groupie and pal). When they were children Jessica and Unity used their diamonds to scrape competing hammers/sickles and swastikas into the family home’s window panes. Jessica grew up to write The American Way of Death which blew the casket lid off the funeral industry’s unsavory methods.  Unity worshiped Hitler and trembled and shook in his presence. She dropped stuff so he’d notice her. It worked.

 2) The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The author interview in back lets us know that originally this novel was over 1000 pages but due to a clever typesetter– it’s only over 500 now. Set at the fictitious Hampden College in Vermont. (Tartt went to Bennington). The writing is lovely, “coffee-colored snow,” for example. Also, there’s a likable chatty Cathy character with Weekly World News headlines pasted over her door. Six degrees of WWN! This book shows how easy it is– especially for a group– to kill someone.

3) Started H.P. Lovecraft, a biography by Sprague de Camp. When Howard P. L. was five years old his mom sent him to Sunday school. The teacher talked about the Christian martyrs and little Howard stuck up for the lions.



Dada Koan #23: for the menacing teen in us all


Today’s dada koan was cobbled together in 2016.

Words for dada koans can be found in chocolate boxes but the catch is you must put them in there yourself. Snip good words and phrases from a variety of pulp and shiny paper sources. Allow months or years or even decades to pass– then pull randomly from your Whitman’s Sampler box and glue onto colorful stationery for your very own idiosyncratic thing. You might’ve chosen to watch the President’s little Pekingese mouth on TV– bottom teeth contorting all over the place– but instead you now have a dada koan!

Here’s the above sunny on amber surreal poem in B&W:

If you’re a menacing teen

eating a

lawnmower, sitting

AT a

cowboy bar

nicks in the good furniture

Is there a more



An appropriate one for the day after Mother’s Day. Regardless of age, we’re all menacing teens at heart.

Thanks very much for stopping by.


Unrelated Addendum #1: So Trump insists on two scoops of ice cream for every visiting dignitary’s lousy single. What next? More maraschino cherries? Whipped cream? More chocolate jimmies? It will end in tears. I can think of a few world leaders where this would generate ice cream wars.

Unrelated Addendum #2: Attia Hosain’s Sunlight on a Broken Column was enlightening. Family life in 1930’s India and there’s a love story mixed in with the political upheavals. However, if you own a deep green Virago Modern Classics paperback (mesmerizing c.1770, Lucknow cover art– “A Half-Length Portrait of a Lady at a Window”)– be aware you’ll have two page 97s but absolutely no page 98.

Extremely unrelated Addendum #3: Saturday, May 13th, red line: Young man with Dr. Zhivago-big eyes sat across from me, blathering away. He’s staring hard into my retinas but since he’s got his phone-wire plugs in, I’m unsure his words are directed at me. After a minute, clearly indeed yes they are– but it still all kept coming out too fast.

“I don’t understand,” I said. He leaned right into my face. I suppose I could’ve moved but that seems melodramatic for an el ride. He fired more words and I shook my head saying sorry.

Finally, he sighed.

“You’ve heard of Hillary Clinton? Bill Clinton’s wife?”

I nodded.

“How much do you think she’s worth?” He rubbed his thumb and fingers together to indicate big money.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“There’s people who say Trump is a scapegoat and the Clintons are in charge.”

“I hadn’t heard that,” I said.

“You’re hearing it now!” he exclaimed. “These people will blow your head straight off.” He pointed to my head, then made an explosive sound, fingers expressive. Maybe I looked worried because he said, “Hey, they’ll blow my head off too. I don’t want that either.”

How will I put up with this until Berwyn, I thought. But suddenly he said, “Well, this is my stop.” Giving me a last intent look, he said, “I don’t believe in small talk.”

Happy 2017, everyone!

Dada Koan #22: Sensing Atlantis


Last week, I mentioned rescuing seven Weekly World News papers from a dumpster. A “Bat Boy Escapes” WWN paper from the ’80s could fetch $25 now. The ones I cut up for Tristan-Tzara-inspired things were from 1997 and not valuable. You can also go on the WWN website and order a Plush Bat Boy. That sounds pretty good but the ears are too exaggerated to be realistic. They also sell Bat Boy statuettes but they are quite unappealing and sell for $99.95. Good Lord! A better deal is the Vote For Bat Boy T-shirt at $24.95. If you can believe anything they say, they’ve Sold Out of their Vote For Bat Boy buttons. Bat Boy stickers are the cheapest.

Weekly World News stopped publishing their print version in 2007.

Well, words from those seven cut up WWN papers must have floated to the top of the chocolate box for #22. Lurid papers are well-suited for making random poems. You don’t get many references to Atlantis in regular newspapers.

The seven WWN papers contained two separate articles on finding Atlantis 1) undersea (We’ve Been Looking in the Wrong Ocean!, header) and 2) at the North Pole. It’s rare for a Weekly World headline not to culminate in at least one exclamation point.

Chili Con Carnage!, for example, featured a murderous rampage at a wedding reception involving a too strongly seasoned bowl of chili.

Here’s the above blue on blue surrealist poem in B&W:



a dream

within the dream



a vast playful puppy

professing to have ESP


how to

wear nothing but a smile!

Well, thank you very much for stopping by.


Unrelated Addendum #1: Shirley Jackson wrote, “Grace Paley once described the male-female writer phenomenon to me by saying ‘Women have always done men the favor of reading their work, but the men have not returned the favor.”

Unrelated Addendum #2: Danielle Dutton (Attempts at a Life) started her own press, The Dorothy Publishing Project. Exquisite, coaster-sized paperbacks. Smooth, rub-them-on-your-face covers. They’re all strange and wonderful books– sometimes better than wonderful. Especially recommended: The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington, Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Leger, In the Time of the Blue Ball  by Manuela Draeger (a.k.a. Antoine Volodine among a slew of other pseudonyms). “Guidance/The Party” is a terrific short story by Jen George. Currently reading Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead by the great Barbara Comyns. Publisher Danielle Dutton is credited with starting that read women twitter thing.

Dada Koan #21: immense traditionalism and warm spoons


Rip van Winkle yawns and stretches, saying, “Okay 2017– but who is president? Who? Oh, c’mon! Knock it off guys– I’m serious. Who? Who? Really, who?”

I’ve been reading the Weekly World News. Someone was about to throw out seven old copies. Bat Boy at NASCAR, the face of God photographed from a Hubble telescope (blurry), a severed finger turns up in a can of peas. Two stories about men who died from their own flatulence– one suffocated, one passed by an open flame. Two stories about female surgeons who– confronted by their rapists who needed appendixes out or something– castrated them.

The Weekly World News definitely had its big furry Bigfoot toe on our 2017 zeitgeist.

Well, here’s Dada Koan #21. The above dada koan was made by following– sort of– Tristan Tzara’s rules for a cut-up technique surrealist poem. Ten words and phrases, blindly chosen, are taken from a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box and glued to colorful paper. The words are rearranged– sometimes extensively– for sense.

Thanks very much for stopping by. Well here we all are, huh?


Unrelated Addendum: Shirley Jackson was amazing.

Dada Koan #20: not remembering my pale yellow sandwich


We’ve arrived at the twentieth dada koan. It’s a melancholy one– see the rip mark on that shade of Edie Sedgwick green? Well, this has been such an exciting win-ful week in the Windy City I needed to inject some winsomeness into it. If you hadn’t heard, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in a fight to the finish with the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. The heart-stomping game ended just before midnight on November 2, 2016. Ten minutes later, to be droll, I texted a Chicago sports fan, “Did they win? I can’t tell.” He was droller, texting back, “Did who win?” The reason this was droll is because here in Chicago there was nonstop honking and screaming in the streets for three hours. Young people all sound similar when they scream so it was like the same cars kept circling my block. Oh, to be young and plastered with your head out the car window shrieking and singing and carrying on and just generally being a pain in the ass for the whole sleepy neighborhood. Must be nice.

It’s hard work to keep that level of enthusiasm going three hours. They stopped very abruptly at 3am.

A dada koan is a surreal cut up technique poem made from newspaper clippings. The phrases and words are chosen randomly from a hat. Or a milk chocolate-scented box. Here’s the above lime and hurt-your-eyes pink in B&W:

I’m just not remembering my

pale yellow sandwich

seriously considering

mattress promotion

dead ethically

make money

earn praise

I guess this poem might better be categorized as depressing than winsome.

Thanks for stopping by. I don’t usually like baseball and I don’t own a TV but that was a great game. Go Cubs!


Unrelated Addendum: Been on a Dawn Powell bender. Still consider A Time To Be Born the best so far. But recently read a Quality Paperback Book Club trilogy (from Brown Elephant thrift) of her novels:

The introduction is by Gore Vidal who’s credited with Dawn Powell’s literary resurgence.

Angels on Toast: This, the best-titled, was my favorite of the three. Infidelity and marriage.

The Wicked Pavilion: Young love and a takedown of New York’s phony art scene. Cynthia Earle is Peggy Guggenheim.

The Golden Spur: A Mamma Mia-ish “Who’s my real Dad” plot and a takedown of New York’s phony art scene. Cassie Bender is Peggy Guggenheim. Gore Vidal calls this “her last and perhaps most appealing novel.”



Dada koan #19: you’re never too old to be hiding behind something


Here’s a profound dada koan. It would be bad taste for me to call something I’d written profound but since this is a dada koan it means I grabbed all the phrases and words, readymade, from a candy box that has a notecard marked “Surrealism” scotch-taped to its lid. These candy boxes are easy to come by. Wait a couple weeks for Walgreen’s to have another $5 sale. Anyway, it’s the candy box that deserves any accolades for profundity.


Aw c’mon, guys. Twarn’t nuffin.

Here’s the above flamingo-colored cut-up poem sailing on its blue-green rectangle in B&W:

you’re never too old to

be hiding behind something.

an overweight comedian

the Internet

three red lipsticks,

stop being a snowflake

falling onto tables


to  die first

Thanks very much for stopping by. Brotchie’s A Book of Surrealist Games has lots of inspiring word-play strategies by Tristan Tzara and other Dada experts.


Unrelated Addendum #1:  Note to a wonderful composer/musician. My Insignia CD player is silent.  It has 9 buttons including 2 on/off switches on the sides. I’ve tried these buttons in all different configurations but nothing. Batteries are new and correctly placed. This happened last year too and when I brought it over to Best Buy, the blue shirts had it singing my Ultra Lounge CD– Teach me, Tiger, whoa whoa whoa– in two shakes of a dachshund’s tail. But that Best Buy is a Target now. Everything in Chicago is either a condo or a Target, by the way. Anyway, hoping to find a remedy to this problem soon so I can hear songs with titles like: The Hand That Feeds Me Could’ve Used a Little Salt (Troll Braille CD by Walker Evans).

Unrelated Addendum #2:  Wow, I’ve really put a lot of weight on recently. Wonder if something’s bothering me.

Unrelated Addendum #3:  Turns out I’ve formatted 300-plus pages completely, totally wrong. I guess you don’t tab over or count out 5 spaces to indent paragraphs anymore. What a mess.

Unrelated Addendum #4:  Lots of novels piling up in To Read stacks including several by Dawn Powell. Despite this fact, last night I stayed up to re-read her A Time To Be Born which is a roman a` clef about Clare Luce Booth (Amanda Keeler) and her newspaper magnate husband. The early description of her house–“the marble-floored, marble-benched foyer”– with its gargoyles and “urns of enormous chrysanthemums” is pretty great, as is, actually, the entire book. Here’s a sample bit that concerns a different character:

“She was thirty-two but she looked like a woman of forty so well-preserved she could pass for thirty-two.”

Dada Koan #18: twin boys in ear canal


Today’s dada koan tackles the tricky problem of poor hearing.

What is a dada koan? It’s a kind of Frankenstein monster pieced together from old newspapers. Tristan Tzara, the great dadaist, is credited for inventing the cut-up technique poem.

You know, the candidates for this very fine 2016 presidential election don’t do mud-slinging. They’ve clawed past that to reach the primordial ooze and now there’s a hole in the earth and we’re all falling through.

But I digress.

Here’s the above pink on yellow dada koan cut-up poem in B&W:

robust, 75-year-old:

I feel strange essentially

twin boys in ear canal

whooped and clowned around.


coloring books.

problem may just be wax.

Just little boys horsing around with their coloring books. What a relief!

Thanks very much for stopping by.


Unrelated Addendum #1: We Speak Chicagoese, stories and poems by Chicago writers is edited by Bill Donlon and Dennis Foley. It’s hot off the presses and includes such abundance of local amazing as: “Brothers” by Sherwood Anderson, “My Brother’s Ass” by Carl Richards, “A Deal in Wheat” by Frank Norris, and “I Took the Santa Claus Job” by Beau O’Reilly.

Unrelated Addendum #2: Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva feel more like philosophy than fiction. Reading these writers both at the same time makes me feel surreal, displaced, and uh… disquieted.

Addendum-related Addendum: Did Gregor Samsa have disquieting dreams?


Dada Koan #17: Hollywood needs big view thing


Renee Zellweger said in an interview– and I’m not sure how to dig up her exact quote. I’m a blogger not some grubby reporter. Oh, all right. Click. It’s in an article for the LA Times titled “Rene Zellweger is back to take on ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ and a world obsessed with how she looks.”

Well, first. I’m not obsessed with how Renee Zellweger looks. I’m not even sure who she is. Did John Cusack teach her to shotgun a beer in ‘The Sure Thing’? Ha, ha. No, that was somebody different, I know.

So journalist Amy Kaufman writes that Renee “developed some projects that she didn’t want to elaborate on” and Renee says,

     “I don’t want to talk about it. It’s so boring,” she insisted. “Oh, it’s so boring. I think it’s much more interesting when people do stuff.”

WelI, that’s valid. In previous blog posts, I wrote about a novel-in-progress. Renee’s right. Better to finish the project– publish, then talk. This reminds me of listening for three hours– yes– to a guy describe his mega million-character mega multi-million dollar epic screenplay. Honestly, I wasn’t listening to his plot so much as I was hypnotized and enamored by his confidence and the fact he didn’t care I hadn’t spoken once not even a single “mm-hm.” Still, when you’ve worked on something for years, boring or no, there’s a temptation to share, Daphne Zuniga. And maybe some of us do it before all the dots are eyed and all the crosses are teed.

Today’s dada #17 is a thinly veiled koan about Hollywood. Here’s the above unsightly green on brown poem in B&W:

city in dire need of a big-view thing

such as big airports

a military base


frightening “chicken things”

no one pays attention to pretty

Well, there’s a pithy indictment of LaLa land’s architecture. This is a dada koan which means I plucked words out of a Whitman’s Sampler box labeled “Surrealism.”  Then I spent time pushing phrases and words around until it made a thing. Then I glued the thing to paper so it would be preserved forever.

Renee Zellweger said this in the LA Times article too: “And I often find myself making up opinions about things I’ve never thought of before on the spot because I feel like I ought to be accommodating.”

Thanks for stopping by. Movie stars are people. Politicians are people too (sometimes).


Related Addendum 1: Cruel headline from 2014– Nothing says over forty like two spaces after a period*. After reading that on the internet, I manually corrected a chapter in my manuscript. But I’ll be back to using double spaces tomorrow because to hell with it.

Related Addendum 2: Ooh, I can’t stand the possessive for words ending in “s”. Bridget Jones’s Baby. Jesus’s Son**. The boss’s bacon– makes me cringe.

Related Addendum 3: Rosemary’s Baby is aesthetic. Thanks, Ira Levin.

*author Jennifer Gonzalez

**author Denis Johnson wrote Jesus’ Son. Apparently, depending on the stylebook– some preach that all proper names should end in ‘s for the possessive form and others instruct that while it’s fine to write Dolores’s– a classical name like Zeus or Jesus can be possessive with Zeus’, Jesus’. Another reason to despise grammar.

Dada koans #16: duck breast ice cream


Invited the poets by last night. They probably just showed for the free drinks and mushroom pizza but I don’t care. “So many of us! So many of us!” Sylvia chirped to her slice.  “Take it easy there, Victoria Lucas,” I said with a wink.  Then I presented my duck breast ice cream poem to Bobby– yes, that Bobby– and right away he starts sniveling.

“It’s perfect.”

“Yup.  Free verse.  Wrote it sans net, too.”

He muttered something.

“Bobby, hope you’re not offended.  But yellow seems to me random,” Walt said, stroking his beard.  “Why not diverged in a chartreuse wood?  Or a purple with orange polka dots wood?”

Sylvia grinned, peeling her beer label.  Bobby seethed through his tears.

“Ooh, I am large.  I contain cow pies.”

“Guys, c’mon,” I said.

Opening the freezer door for more ice, I sighed.

“And, Billy, quit stealing.”

“It wasn’t me this time!”

Henry Chinaski punched Billy in the mouth and, of course, all the sweet cold plums fell out and rolled over the carpet.  Billy touched his lip and looked at his finger.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” he asked, ironically.


Here’s the above Buster-Brown and Pink poem in B&W:


grandmother’s homemade


duck breast ice cream

your boyfriend vomiting

Cat is moving

didn’t look back.

You can make a dada koan or cut-up poem with glue, a newspaper, scissors, and a box.


Thanks very much for stopping by the woods.


Related Addendum 1:…Hmm… promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

Related Addendum 2:  I’m pretty sure this is true.  Billy Collins– as opposed to Billy Carlos Williams– was guest judge for one of those Best American Poetry books.  He automatically disqualified entries that mentioned “cicadas” or “plums”.