Log in
a college THESIS on Sage Francis' "Crack Pipes" by
View previous topic | View next topic >

Post new topic Reply to topic
Strange Famous Forum > Press/Interviews/reviews

Author Message
Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21495
a college THESIS on Sage Francis' "Crack Pipes" by  Reply with quote  

Complete Listening:
Post-rap, Poetry, and Performance

Section One: Introduction
Towards a Methodology of Complete Listening

“Isn’t the truth of the voice to be hallucinated? Isn’t the entire space of the voice an infinite one?”

To open an account of the significance of performance poetry it is important to define the way in which performed poetry- both the poems and the manner and context in which they are performed- is and should be studied. A recent book of essays that takes up that very question is Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word, edited by Charles Bernstein, a volume that makes significant strides towards recognizing the importance of aural and oral poetry to the creation and dissemination of poetry in the late twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In acknowledging the “ocularcentricity” of high modernism and the return to orality in the poetry of the 1950s, the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation, Close Listening makes possible new methods of investigation into the current state of poetry, and at the same time fills a critical void left by a continuing focus in the academy on the visual text of poetry. As Bernstein puts it in his introduction, “while the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and contemporary poetry performance has been negligible, despite the crucial importance of performance to the practice of poetry of this century” Indeed, it is exactly this critical oversight that Close Listening makes the move to redress. Again Bernstein puts it succinctly: “[Close Listening] opens many new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry[... and examines] how twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art.”
The methodology that Bernstein proposes for this new study of performed poetry is one of close listening, which he describes in the introduction to Close Listening as a process that “may contradict ‘readings’ of poems that are based exclusively on the printed text and that ignore the poet’s own performances, the ‘total’ sound of the work, and the relation of sound to semantics.” Maria Damon, in her contribution to the collection, “Was that ‘Different,’ ‘Dissident’ or ‘Dissonant’? Poetry (n) the Public Spear: Slams, Open Readings, and Dissident Traditions,” asserts that close listening implies that the three adjectives that make up the primary title of her article can be held in the mind, along with all “semantic/sonic resonant possibilities[...] concurrently.” So close listening is a practice that echoes the methodology of close reading (as is implied by its very name) in its specific examination of language (we will return to this connection at length shortly). Close listening, as opposed to what might be called “standard listening,” or perhaps more to the point “passive listening,” is a listening method that Bernstein suggests makes sense in the context of aural poetry, a term less limiting in Bernstein’s construction than oral poetry:

“I am interested in a broader range of performance than is suggested by orality; in fact, some of the most interesting poetry-reading styles- from Jackson Mac Low to Stein to T.S. Eliot- defy orality in very specific ways: Eliot through his eerily depersonalized vocal style (emanating from the mouth more than the diaphragm); Stein with her all-over, modulating or cubist resonances; and Mac Low with his immaculate enunciation of constructed word patterns. Orality can be understood as a stylistic or even ideological marker of a reading style; in contrast, the audiotext might more usefully be understood as aural- what the ear hears. By aurality I mean to emphasize the sounding of the writing, and to make a sharp contrast with orality and its emphasis on breath, voice, and speech -an emphasis that tends to valorize speech over writing, voice over sound, listening over hearing, and indeed, orality over aurality. Aurality precedes orality, just as language precedes speech. Aurality is connected to the body- what the mouth and tongue and vocal chords enact- not the presence of the poet[...] The poetry reading enacts the poem not the poet; it materializes the text not the author; it performs the work not the one who composed it. In short, the significant fact of the poetry reading is less the presence of the poet than the presence of the poem.”

The distinction in the above passage between the aural and oral is important: the oral poem is connected to the presence of the author, while the aural poem is disconnected, a free-floating performed poem. Bernstein states that “orality can be under” but that he is “interested in a broader range of performance than is suggested by orality.” The contradiction inherent in these two statements should be immediately clear: if orality is the style, the performative element, of a performance-act, then it should not be possible to study performed poetry without taking it into account. Indeed, what Bernstein is in fact interested in is not performed poetry but rather the performed poem. This may seem like a non-distinction, but it is not: the move to bracket the significance of orality in Close Listening allows Bernstein and the other essayists in the collection to largely ignore the field of performance studies in their analyses; it also makes possible Bernstein’s statement that “the poetry reading enacts the poem not the poet; it materializes the text not the author; it performs the work not the one who composed it.” This can only be true in a study of aural poetry that defines aural poetry as separate in an examinable sense from oral poetry.
In this paper I reject the notion that performed poetry could be anything other than inherently both aural and oral. Indeed, I believe that the move to separate the two in Close Listening speaks very significantly to the weaknesses in a methodology of close listening, and illustrates the way in which, despite Bernstein’s own definition of close listening as being encompassing of “the ‘total’ sound” of a performance, the process is in fact quite limiting. It boggles the mind to think that the introduction to a volume of essays about performed poetry would make the claim that “the significant fact of the poetry reading is less the presence of the poet than the presence of the poem.” Certainly, the presence of the poem itself is significant, and the audiotext exists as its own object separate from the author, but, and this is the crux of the matter, only if it is recorded. That is to say, the audiotext of a given poem, if it is not recorded, exists only in the intersubjective network (we will define this term closely in a moment) between the poet and audience; it is a temporal object, that is dependent on the poet and audience as well as all the other factors that make up that network of subjectivity.
The concept of a creative network between performer and audience is not a new one. It stems from the idea that the audience at a performance is privileged in witnessing something truly unique; as Albert B. Lord wrote of slavic oral poets in his book The Singer of Tales, “in a very real sense every performance is a separate song; for every performance is unique, and every performance bears the signature of its poet singer.” He continues in the included notes, again specifically about Slavic oral poets, but in a way that is strikingly relevant to this discussion:
I emphasize the creative or dynamic role of the individual performer throughout[...] in order to counteract the impression in some quarters that the oral poet is merely a transmitter; that all originality is closed to him[...] I believe that[...] at the moment of performance the singer, or narrator, produces something unique.

Lordþ’s distinction illuminates an important characteristic of performed poetry: namely, that the poet-performer is not “merely a transmitter;” that, despite any pre-composition, each performance, simply in the act of presentation itself, becomes a unique event that cannot be (without recording) re-created. Thus poet-performers create in the course of performance, rather than simply transmitting a pre-composed text to a passive audience, and because of this the audience is privileged in that it is witnessing something that no person or group of people that are not present at the moment of performance can or will ever experience. This originality is due to the dual operation of improvisation, or intentional variation, and what Joel Rubin calls “microvariation,” or inevitable small variations that occur over the course of performance.
In Lord then we have the first half of the equation: that the poet-performer is creating a dynamic audiotext, to return to Bernstein’s term, rather than simply reciting a static object that is pre-composed. The second half of the equation, then, is the audience. But how does a performed poem go from being simply a constantly shifting and temporal text being presented to an audience to a work in the creation of which the audience not only participates but is essential to? Nick Piombino gives some helpful direction in his essay on the “aural ellipsis”: “The listener tends to ‘fill in’ or weave into any elliptical speech act certain elements of his or her internal experience. This new formulation, at that point existing only within, as Jakobsen and Pomorska term it, ‘the subjectivism’ of the listener, functions momentarily as a ‘transitional object’ or area of potential space between the listener and the speaker.” It is that idea of weaving one’s own experience into a performed poem that I find particularly useful, and that I believe is an essential part of the intersubjective network between the poet-performer and audience. To give a brief example from my own experience: at the “anticon 10th anniversary show” on January 19th, 2002, at Slim’s in San Francisco, Sage Francis performed a poem called “Mullet.” One of the lines in the poem is: “Chuck D told me to keep a sober mind / And even though his sidekick liked the flavor of base...” Upon hearing that line, I referenced my own experiences of listening to Public Enemy to recognize something about the line that would not be clear to someone that was not familiar with their music: namely, that the word “base,” and the particular way that Sage Francis performed it, referenced not just Flava Flav’s crack cocaine habit, but also the Public Enemy song “Can’t Truss It,” which begins with Chuck D rapping, using the same inflection that Sage Francis used: “Bass, in your face.” Thus I interwove my own experienÛce into the understanding of the performed poem.
So now we have seen the way in which a performed poem is created simultaneously by the poet-performer and the audience. We must return now to the concept of the intersubjective network that I mentioned in passing earlier, as it contains the elements of audience and poet-performer. I am borrowing the term from Peter Middleton:
Audience and poet collaborate in the performance of the poem. The audience is not simply a collection of autonomous individuals whose auditions of the poem are entirely independent. During performance the audience is formed by the event, and creates an intersubjective network, which can then become an element in the poem itself. Intersubjectivity is only partially available as an instrument for the poet to play, and is an ever-changing, turbulent process that can overwhelm or ignore the poet, yet it is far from passive. Both the author poet and the listening audience are performances. The audience effectively stages its own reception, allowing the poet to script its semantic adventures as participant witnesses. All this takes place beyond an individual will and largely beyond a simple recording process.

I would modify Middleton’s account of the role of that intersubjective network, however. Rather than “an instrument” for anyone to play or “an element ” the network is, I believe, the very framework that sustains the existence of the performed poem. To speak more clearly, the intersubjective network quite literally creates the poem as a performance, as we have seen earlier in specific examinations of the role of the poet-performer and the audience. This concept is echoed in Maria Damon’s essay, when she states that the audience’s “attentive apparatus flicker[s...] with such lucid intensity as to create a kinetic web of energy that is its own possibility, its own ‘becoming-poetry’.” Indeed, I would argue that all performed poetry is in a state of “becoming,” since, as previously stated, it is a temporal phenomenon- there is no singular text of a performed poem that exists prior to a given performance, since each performance is its own object, its own text.
To elucidate this point, to be sure it is fully understood, allow me the luxury of an overly simple metaphor. Imagine a father playing catch with his daughter (we have to challenge our ideas wherever we can), a situation in which the father stands as the symbol of the poet, the daughter the audience, and the ball the poem itself. Now, if one was only interested in the poem proper, one could remove the ball from the context of the game and dissect it to their heart’s content. However, if the focus of query is rather the act of playing catch, it would be ridiculous to make the claim that either the father or the daughter was not entirely central to any meaningful investigation of that act. Similarly, to understand performance poetry, one simply cannot operate on the assumption that “the presence of the poet” or the audience is insignificant. One necessitates the other, if the poem in question is a performance. A poet without an audience is not performing; an audience without a performer are witnessing nothing. To extend our father-daughter metaphor to further examine Bernstein’s assertion, if the mother happens to also be in the yard with a video camera, and records the game, then that recording becomes its own object, its own text, at which point it could be examined as an entity separate from the two players. To repeat once more for emphasis, a performed poem simply does not exist outside that intersubjective network, unless it is recorded.
To recap: close listening is a methodology of listening that excludes the performance itself from the study of performance poetry. In this discussion the emphasis will rather be on the inextricability of the performed poem from its performance context, which is defined by the intersubjective network between the poet-performer and the audience, and the contextual framework in which the performance exists. In repositioning the study of performed poetry within the context of the performance-space I hope to reclaim the sociohistorical context of performed poetry, and specifically that of the performance space as redefined in the 1950s by the Beat Generation poets, and how that has influenced the performance-space of Slam poetry and post-rap. More specifically, in discarding the process of close listening I intend to do away with the connections inherent in it to the New Critical practice of decontextualized close(d) reading. Bernstein asserts in the introduction to Close Listening that it is the “total sound” of a given work that close listening as a process investigates. However, in this discourse we have explored the way in which that is not the case; rather than a total examination of the performance of a poem, a close listening of a poem yields that privileged New Critical text that is miraculously able to exist for the sake of analysis outside its inherent contextual space. The written text, the oral text, the audience, the social circumstance, the poet, even the historical moment are sloughed off in pursuit of that purely aural poem, and the resulting study is “total” only in that it is entirely detached from all non-aural elements.
In this analysis of performed poetry, then, we will be doing not close(d) listening but rather complete listening, in an effort to include and examine as many of those forgotten contexts, first and foremost being the performative elements of performance poetry. And, since all performance poetry is in a state of becoming, in that it is being created in the intersubjective network between the poet-performer and the audience, it makes sense that the methodology we should choose in attempting to examine, to define that poetry- that is, to attempt to force it into a more static category than becoming- would be a dynamic, unfinished one as well. I do not mean to suggest that with “unfinished” that complete listening as a practice is incomplete, but rather, like the poetry it explores, that it is not completable. Certainly, in our postmodern times, few readers would accept any other assertion as true: it would be a meta-narrative of the worst formalist sort to contend that any analysis of a poem, performed or otherwise, could honestly be complete, or all-encompassing; thus we are always working towards a complete listening, without ever arriving there. Complete listening is a practice, a path, a journey; it is not a formula to be rigidly applied, nor a destination to be achieved.
Roland Barthes takes a moment to do something akin to a complete listening in his fascinating book The Pleasure of the Text, that may help point out a starting place here. It is worth quoting in its entirety:

“One evening, half asleep on a banquette in a bar, just for fun I tried to enumerate all the languages within earshot: music, conversations, the sounds of chairs, glasses, a whole stereophony of which a square in Tangiers (as described by Severo Sarduy) is the exemplary site. That too spoke within me, and this so-called “interior” speech was very like the noise of the square, like that amassing of minor voices coming to me from the outside: I myself was a public square, a sook; through me passed words, tiny syntagms, bits of formulae, and no sentence formed, as though that were the law of such a language. This speech, at once very cultural and very savage, was above all lexical, sporadic; it set up in me, through its apparent flow, a definitive discontinuity: this non-sentence was in no way something that could not have acceded to the sentence, that might have been before the sentence; it was: what is eternally, splendidly, outside the sentence.”

It is this “stereophony” that Barthes recognizes that is both the compelling lure and the inherent impossibility of complete listening. To embark upon the path towards complete listening is to acknowledge the seductiveness of totality, of wholeness. However, the very heteroglot siren that is so alluring contains in her song the hopelessness of such a goal; as Barthes saw when he made the effort “just for fun,” even when the stereophony was speaking from within him, no sentence would form. And that is the law of this language: to attempt a complete listening it is necessary to concede that no listening is ever complete. The discourse of complete listening is the discourse of the non-sentence, of becoming-poetry. To put this in Derridian terms, there will always be another frame to be removed; one could deconstruct a context to eternity, but no all-encompassing truth, no completeness, can be reached. Thus the epigraph of this section: “Isn’t the truth of the voice to be hallucinated? Isn’t the entire space of the voice an infinite one?”
With complete listening we will recognize the infinite space of the voice (or more precisely, of the performance-as-voice), but we will try to avoid hallucinating the truth of that voice. Rather, we will attempt through this analysis to construct a single truth, that contains in itself the fundamental fact that it could not be the only truth. The goal will be to make that single truth as all-inclusive of certain elements of the performance as possible; I emphasize certain because I do not wish to make the erroneous and presumptuous claim that the performative facets that I will isolate and examine constitute either all or even the most important components of the performance-event. Quite the opposite, I want to remain clear that the pieces I will dissect and focus on are only those that I find useful.

Section Two:
Close(d) Listening in Practice: Sage Francis’s “Crack Pipes”

“When it is written you lose the sound or noise and therefore you lose part of the meaning.”

So where do we begin with our complete listening, if the (admittedly unachievable) goal is to “enumerate all the languages within earshot”? Simply put, and rather ironically, with a close(d) listening of a performance: just as complete listening as a methodology begins at but departs from the practice of close(d) listening, so too will this complete listening take off from that point. However, the listening being undertaken in this section will be an expanded version of the practice of close(d) listening, one that does take into account “the presence of the poet,” and the significance of that presence and that poet, in an attempt to produce an analysis that will be more directly relevant in a complete listening. The performance we will examine will be from April 6th, 2002, at The Bottom of the Hill, in San Francisco. The show was the Bay Area stop of the “Personal Journeys” tour, featuring Grand Buffet, Edan the Humble Magnificent, and headlined by Sage Francis. The show as a whole will be discussed as the context that surrounds the specific performance-act that will be the focus of our close listening. The performance-act we will be examining is “Crack Pipes,” by Sage Francis, which came towards the end of the evening. I will begin with my transcription of the lyrics as they were presented at the show:

1 I’d give a twenty-one gunshot salute
with the toy rifle that you bought me, but it won’t shoot.
And all is well because there’s been one too many shots,
the sterile robots want to talk to me about detox.
5 Stop the presses, there’s been an update delivered via one-thirty AM phone call,
when an only half-informative source talks discreetly.
Meet me
at the family room, on the side of the intensive-care unit.
10 I’ll carry a tune, the siren so loud can’t hear my music.
Keep free
of negative thoughts, everything’ll be fine, we all assumed
That it would go back to the way things were
that it would go back to normal soon.
15 Saw the moon in a way I’d never seen it before
when I looked up that night
into the sky
wondering why
looking for answers
20 I guess I ain’t asked right
I’m guessing most of y’all out there know exactly what that’s like
(what’s that like?)
now tell me, what’s that like?
It’s like a whirlwind of emotions,
25 that occurs when moms and dads fight,
it’s like when a girl grins,
an emotion occurs that holds your arm and grabs tight.
Hurl him into the ocean
one of those cold-sweat heat-flash types,
30 but extreme fluctuations and temperature changes
have been known to crack pipes.
Crack pipes.
Crack pipes.

Meet me
35 halfway and I’ll go the extra length
just to help your strength,
Meet me
at the AA meeting
needing to take more than twelve steps,
40 Bring me to your hiding place,
so I can face your vice-grip,
I’ll chisel every single monkey off your back
with this ice-pick.
Come meet up with me
45 on the sidelines when the game is over,
just to say hello,
then afterwards, outside
to let me know
that you enjoyed the show.
50 Go to grandma’s house for Sunday dinner
sit at the head of the table
take away the fatal flaw
you made the day before
I see you bleed.
55 Meet me
on Christmas eve,
we can fight but make up before you leave,
make visits with the rest of those
who rest in pieces of my dreams.
60 Meet me
at the fork in the road
where the lost souls get indecisive.
Meet me
65 at the crossroads
so I can have someone to walk into the light with.

Since what is under our lens here is a performance-act, that existed in the real-time of the performance space, I believe the most useful method of unpacking the poem is to follow it chronologically, so to speak, as the audience would have heard it at the performance itself. This practice will help this analysis to avoid straying from the fact that the poem under scrutiny was not written as a visual poem. With that framework in mind, it is the music that the audience encounters first. Produced by Sixtoo of anticon, the Sebutones and the 1200 Hobos, the music consists of a slow looped sample of a single guitar that contrasts with dense and fast drums to create a very lushly ±intense sound. That theme of contrast is central to the narrative of the lyrics as well, an example of form mirroring content in the third (sonic) dimension of performance-poetry. In fact, the contrast and tension between self and other, and the search for identity within that dichotomy, is the thread that ties the song together as a cohesive whole.
The first section of the first verse paragraph of the song sets the narrative stage for the tension that motivates the song, with the story of the death of the speaker’s father. The first two lines, “I’d give a twenty-one gunshot salute / with the toy rifle that you bought me, but it won’t shoot” foreshadow the death that will occur while establishing the father/son relationship through the typically male American symbol of the rifle, a la Davy Crockett and the frontier myth. The end of the second line, “but it won’t shoot,” reveals both a disfunction in the relationship between the two- the son, despite his best intentions to eulogize his father with the traditional military burial ceremony, is unable to due to the broken gun he was given- as well as a physical impotence symbolized by the phallic gun, that calls into question the possibility of any kinship at all. The third line opens with a negation of the significance of the dysfunctional rifle, assuring the audience that “all is well,” before ironically shifting the scene to the hospital (hardly a place where one could make the claim that “all is well”) with the phrase “because there’s been one too many shots,” modified by the fourth line, “the sterile robots want to talk to me about detox,” where the fluorescent-light sterility of the hospital comes across clearly. This fourth line was delivered followed by an ironic laugh from Sage Francis, referring I assume to his public stance as drug and alcohol free. In that context, the disconnect between Sage Francis-as-author an“the sterile robots” that “want to talk to [him] about detox,” is even more evident, as detox clinics are not the standard prescription for sober individuals. The hospital shots replace the salute as the means for extending the life of the father, but this time physically rather than symbolically, and instead of the ritual twenty-one shots there are only “one too many.” The fifth line introduces a second break in the narrative flow with the abrupt “Stop the presses,” that leads into a further modification with “there’s been an update delivered via one-thirty AM phone call,” developing the theme of communication in referencing newspapers and telephones. The sixth line returns to the use of oppositions, contrasting against and undermining the effectiveness of communication in the fifth line by being “onÍly half-informative,” which is made doubly ironic by the fact that it is a family member that is that not-entirely illuminating source, illustrated by the location of the person on the phone “at the family room” (l. 8).
At this point in the song a crash cymbal comes in and the density of the drums doubles (though the tempo remains the same). The only phrase in the lyrics that could be considered a refrain, “Meet me,” is introduced at the same time, with a stronger emphasis than the lines before it. Though it is ambiguous to whom the command is addressed, the following lines imply that it is a family member, and the narrative flow would suggest that it is the same one that was the “only half-informative source” on the phone. The eighth line makes explicit the implicit hospital references of lines three and four, but this is a hospital where “the side of the intensive-care unit” is also “the family room,” an ironic juxtaposition that reinforces the picture of this family as a dysfunctional one. The urgency of the music echoes Sage Francis’s intensified delivery, and the hard emphasis on “Meet me” is repeated with “Immediately,” adding to that sense of pressure, as well as inviting the listener to hear “Immediately” as connected to either the “Meet me” or the following line. In the tenth line the immediate need to “carry a tune” is made disrupted by the “siren [that is] so loud” the speaker “can’t hear [his] music.” This recalls the dysfunctional rifle; again, the speaker wants to do something, to actively help or at least participate, but his efforts continue to be thwarted indirectly by his father: first by the gift of the broken rifle, and second by the siren of the ambulance carrying the father to the hospital that prevents the narrator from carrying a tune. The “Keep free” that follows is again heavily stressed, and contrasts ironically with the speaker’s own position as inextricably intertwined with his dying father, as though one could avoid “negative thoughts” in the hospital-room space where a family member is passing away.
From that position inside “the family room” the narrative moves outside, and back from the plural of the family to the singular of the speaker. Lines 15-17 also introduce the theme of a changed world: “Saw the moon in a way I’d never seen it before / when I looked up that night / into the sky”. The reference to the moon is the first of several nature images that inflect the second half of the first verse paragraph, and that contrast with the sterile hospital environment of the first half. The changed world, as embodied here by the moon, is in direct opposition to the assumption that the world would go back to “the way things were.” However, the speaker only sees the moon because he looks “into the sky / wondering why / looking for answers,” and the changed world isn’t the answer he was looking for, as evinced by line 20: “I guess I ain’t asked right.” Indeed, what the narrator is seeking is a return to normalcy, and the clearly different moon explicitly conveys that the world is a changed place, the opposite of the desired response. This leads into the next section of the narrative, which dramatizes the emotional upheaval and loss of identity produced by this different world.
The next segment of the verse paragraph replays in various modes and scenarios the searching for an emotional foothold, and so a selfhood, in a changed world. Lines 24-25 represent the abstracted children of “moms and dads,” unsure of their collective place in a conflict that in many ways offers them no position. Lines 26-27 describes the confusing stomach-butterflies (displaced here to an emotion that “grabs your arm”) of male-female relationships, narrowed from the pronoun-less previous lines to the second-person “you” that recalls that audience-performer dynamic, and is the voice of most of the narrative. Lines 28-29 then switch to the third person “him,” creating a more gender-specific moment, but one that moves from the detail of the emotionally-charged situation to the more removed physical effects of that circumstance, the “cold-sweat[s]” and “heat-flash[es]” of emotional upheaval. The extent to which the lack of emotional grounding here reflects a more fundamental lack of identity is echoed in the pronoun shifts in these six lines, moving from the identity-less children, to the second-person “you,” to the third-person “him.” Thus the “whirlwind of emotions” quite literally leads into a whirlwind of subjectivities, unable to come to rest in any one place, as any one self.
Line 28 returns to the nature imagery of the moon with “the ocean,” but here it is not a symbol of a changed world so much as it is a cure for the symptoms caused by the emotions engendered by that changedness, implied by the suggestion to “hurl him into the ocean.” However, the natural world as a method of therapy comes with its own drawbacks and dangers: the “extreme fluctuations and temperature changes / have been known to crack pipes.” The image of a cracked pipe deserves to be deconstructed here, since it is the title of the song, and is repeated three times (with different emphases each time) in the song itself. A pipe is in this song both a conduit of the sort that would be cracked by a freeze in the winter, as well as device for smoking, of which a crack pipe is a particular(ly significant) type. A cracked pipe of the first sort no longer carries something from one place to another; that is, it no longer serves as a channel of communication. It is also, in a directly literal way, symbolic of a broken home. A cracked pipe of the second sort recalls the toy rifle that wouldn’t shoot of line 2: it is a metonym of American manhood that no longer functions, and like the gun, notably phallic, again calling into question the very possibility of the father-son relationship. These are the issues being raised in lines 31-32, when the emphasis is more directly on the word “pipes” than “crack pipes” as a phrase, as it is in line 33. The death of the father that has been narrated in the first verse paragraph is related to these cracked pipes. His death breaks the home in that the family unit is no longer whole, and breaks down the communication in the family as well (as evinced by the move away from the plural “we” of the family after line 14), although it is certainly possible that the lack of communication was present in the family prior to the death. The father’s passing also destroys the place of the father in the family, as symbolized by the broken smoking-pipe of American fatherly lore (a la Ward Cleaver).
At this point the lyrics take a drastic turn: the “crack pipes” of line 33 clearly references crack cocaine in a way that the other two uses of the phrase do not; the emphasis in the line hangs more heavily on the first word: “Crack pipes.” But why the move from symbols of the American family, the pipes of the fathers and single family homes, to crack pipes, in many ways the antithesis of that middle class American dream? The easy answer is that opposition itself: the song is clearly concerned with contrast, and this is just another example. But obviously, there is more to it than that: if the image of the crack pipe wasn’t central, it wouldn’t bear repeating right before the only break in the song any more than it would deserve to be the title of the song. Ironically, the move here to the concrete symbol of the crack pipe from the more abstracted images of the ambiguous pipes of the previous two lines actually serves to generalize the narrative of the song. The broken home of the dysfunctional family specific to the narrative of the song becomes a symbol of a dysfunctional society, and the cracked pipe as representation of fractured communication becomes the crack pipe that is emblematic of the split in American society between the urban poor and the suburban wealthy. It is no accident that the trope of the crack pipe and its significance as relevant to the division of wealth in America is hugely important to the genesis of rap music in the early-1990s, and that the appropriation of the music by suburban whites remains one of the most hotly contested issues both by critics and the artists themselves. At this moment in the performance, Sage Francis added as an aside, “Crack, it’s what’s for dinner,” recalling the beef commercials of the mid-1990s, displacing the image of crack cocaine into the space of Suburbia and complicating the issue further. Thus the poem has moved from confusing the speaking subject of the narrative to calling into question the very societal framework that creates that subject, displacing the self/other dichotomy into a nebulous site that, like the speaker, no longer has any clear delineations or identity.
So the “Meet me” of the first verse paragraph, a specific conversational moment that marked an interaction between the speaker and his family, loses its subject in the second verse paragraph to be left free-floating, addressing a vague other that has no clear identity. This subjectless command is the emotional fallout of the whirlwind of selfhoods that the poem subjected its listener to in the preceding lines, and relates to the loss of the father. The sense is that the speaker wants to be addressing his dead father, and in his inability to do so can only lash out at the collective you with a series of scenarios that are rife with his own confusion. There is a gesture towards a feasible wholeness in lines 34-36, with the speaking voice offering to “go the extra length” if the addressee will meet him “halfway.” However, any possibility of a true completion is lost in the following phrase, when the definitive end of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is not enough, and the anonymous participants are left “needing to take more than twelve steps” (l. 39). The anonymity of the subject spills over into line 40, symbolized by the “hiding place,” where rather than coming face-to-face with the other the speaker can only “face [their] vice-grip,” avoiding even the mutual recognition of a hand shake. Therein lies the irony of this move by Sage Francis: the refrain insists on a meeting, but each situation that unfolds in the second verse paragraph is both anonymous and entirely devoid of any true interaction. Even when the speaker offers to “chisel every single monkey off your back,” the method is to use an “ice-pick,” (ll. 42-43) again avoiding even the slightest direct human contact.
The poem continues to play with the identity of both the speaker and the addressee, with the speaker positioning himself first as an athlete, creating expectation again that the person being addressed is the father, then as a performer, complicating that anticipation. “Come meet up with me / on the sidelines when the game is over / just to say hello,” (ll. 44-46) insists the speaking voice, returning to something like the classic American father-son relationship. However, “afterwards,” the invitation is to meet “outside / to let me know / that you enjoyed the show,” (ll. 47-49) implying that the speaker is in fact Sage Francis himself, which makes the person(s) being addressed the audience itself. This interpretation is supported by the fact that Sage Francis modified the poem from the recorded audiotext, substituting “outside” for “backstage,” a reference to the fact that The Bottom of the Hill has no backstage area. Keeping up with the whirlwind of subjectivities, however, the poem immediately moves back to the family space of “grandma’s house,” (l. 50) where the place “at the head of the table” (l. 51) is presumably reserved, again, for the father-figure. After the Christmas dinner however, by lines 58-59, the father is advised to “make visits with the rest of those / who rest in pieces of my dreams,” calling into question the very existence of the addressee as more than a figment of the speaker’s imagination.
Lines 60-66 serve both as a conclusion to the narrative and a completion to the confusion and conflation of self and other. The speaker once again entreats the other to “Meet me,” though it’s now “at the fork in the road / where the lost souls get indecisive” (ll. 60-62), recalling the death narrative of the poem. Line 62 invites the listener to hear the “lost soul” as being the departed father. However, that reading is complicated by the echo of “the fork in the road” in the “crossroads” of line 65 where the speaker is the one that needs “someone to walk into the light with.” (l. 66) That“someone,” and so the the alienation of self promised by the “crack pipes” at the end of the first verse paragraph is accomplished through the rhetorical trick of the self literally becoming the other. In the end, the “Meet me” refrain is a more literal invitation from the self to the other than it first appeared, with the two meeting finally in the last line of the poem.
Clearly, one of the parallels to the theme of self and other that runs through “Crack Pipes” is the interplay between the performer and the audience. It is the classic tension of performance poetry, as John Glassco notes in “A Real Good Noise: The Poet as Performer,” the listener wants to feel “that he is getting ‘closer’ to a poem by hearing it from the poet himself”; the desire is to hear a certain autobiographical truth in a given poem due to the presence of the poet. The problem there, of course, is that assumption privileges performed poetry as possessing of an intangible truth in a way that visual poetry, or poetry of the page, quite literally could not- an indirectly formalist claim. Sage Francis thematizes this issue in lines 21-23 of “Crack Pipes,” by locating the speaking voice in three different positions within the performer-audience dynamic- namely, performer-as-instructor (or, the traditional role of the performer, imparting information), audience-as-recipient (the actively questioning participant of performance poetry, seeking knowledge), and perfomer-as-recipient. In line 21, the speaking voice is that of the performer: “I’m guessing most of y’all out there know exactly what that’s like,” a line that sounds almost like an aside made in the course of performance by the poet to the audience. Line 22 immediately responds to the performer from the perspective of the audience, recalling the traditional call-and-response that is long a part of hip hop performances, asking the question that the performer assumes doesn’t need to be asked, “what’s that like?”, and so fulfilling the role of the active listener, seeking knowledge. However, all of this complicates the performer-audience dynamic, since both voices, though recognizably intended to represent different elements of that duality, come literally from the same throat, reducing the necessary plurality of the performer-audience interaction to a singular. The interaction played out in these lines also problematizes the position of Sage Francis himself, and the contrast (contradiction) between his external public self and his internal private self since, as the performance-voice of this selection exposes, he is both performing his public persona and questioning (quite literally) that construction. The relationship between performer and audience is further complicated by line 23, which returns to the loudly projected voice of line 21 after the more quietly expressive voice of line 22 (which I’ve chosen to represent in my transcription by placing the line in parentheses), implying that the speaking voice is located once again in the body of the performer. However, now that voice is asking the same question that the audience asked, but addressing it to the audience- essentially flipping the performer-audience dynamic on its head by situating the speaker-performer as the seeker, or recipient of knowledge, and in this case, putting the audience in the position of responding to the question being asked; that is, Sage Francis puts the words that follow lines 21-23 in the collective mouth of his audience, forcing a reevaluation and consequently a true recognition of the relationship between performer and audience.
So “Crack Pipes” both thematizes the relationship between the self and the other, and the performer and the audience, making it a natural choice for an examination of the nature of those relationships within the space of performed poetry. And now that we have completed a close listening, we must begin the process of (re)contextualizing these two performances, of making this a more complete listening. In his introduction to Performance Practice: Ethnomusicological Perspectives, Gerard Behague references the work of Milton Singer: “[Milton Singer] further defines the actual patterning of a cultural performance as consisting of ‘a definitely limited time span or, at least, a beginning and an end, an organized program of activity, a set of performers, an audience and a place or occasion of performance.’” With this set of parameters as a preliminary signpost, we can begin to dissect the context of these performances.
First, was there was a definitely limited time span? There was a specified beginning, that much is clear: doors open at 8:30 P.M., show begins at 10:00 P.M.; however, there was no announced ending time, either in the literature distributed in the weeks prior to the show, or at the concert itself. But despite that, both the performers and audience members came into the event expecting to go home at the “end,” and presumably The Bottom of the Hill cannot stay open past a certain hour. This is where performance shows itself to be a cultural event: were a person hypothetically able to arrive at a performance like this stop of the “Personal Journeys” tour show without any prior knowledge of the practice of going to American concert performances, they would likely be confused as to when the show was going to end. But regardless, there was an understanding that the show would end at a given time, probably not before midnight, probably not after 2 A.M., give or take. There was, as well, an organized program of activity: the billing listed Sage Francis with DJ MF Shalem B, Edan, and then Grand Buffet. Again, the culture of concert-going comes into play here: the “headliner,” though listed first, would be expected to perform last. In addition to those on the billing, three performers took the stage: Mr. Lif (a recent Boston transplant to the San Francisco) joined Edan for a song, and Sole and Alias of the Bay Area’s anticon collective each performed three songs in the space between Grand Buffet’s set and Edan’s. Since Sage’s album was released on anticon’s label, the appearance of Sole and Alias was not entirely a surprise, though their inclusion in the show for what amounted to an entire set was.
So we arrive at Sage Francis as a performer. His biography as a public figure is impressive, and his experience comes across in the form of a commanding stage presence. He is a champion battle emcee (Scribble Jam 2000), the lead singer of a live hip hop-plus band (Art.Official.Intelligence), has released a pair of legendary 12”s with Joey Beats as Non-Prophets (Drop Bass, All Word No Play), and is now four installments deep into his self-released Sick Of Waiting series (Sick Of Waiting, Still Sick… Urine Trouble, Sick Of Waiting Tables, and Sick Of Waging War). In addition to all of his work as an emcee, he is an award-winning Slam poet, and has been a member of the Providence Slam team the last four years running. On stage, he appears equally comfortable rapping over beats and delivering a poem a capella. At The Bottom of the Hill on April 6th, he switched personas midway through the set, leaving the stage to return as Xaul Xan, his middle-American alter-ego, complete with mullet wig and Starter jacket. By moving in and out of these difference modes and selves on stage, Sage Francis is able to thematize in himself as a performer the same issues that “Crack Pipes” as a performance piece plays with: he is at once a poet and an emcee, himself and someone else, and when he leaves the stage empty except for DJ MF Shalem B playing a remixed version of “Mullet” that consists entirely of Sage beat-boxing, he is able to be both performer and audience. That is to say, if “Crack Pipes” as a song works as an exploration of the identities of and relationships between the self and the other, it only does so because Sage Francis is the one on stage performing it.
And so finally, the last element in this rough recreation of the intersubjective network that created this performance of “Crack Pipes” is the audience. There was a limit placed on the crowd by the place of performance itself: The Bottom of the Hill, being a bar as well as a concert venue, enforces a 21-and-over rule. The audience in attendance was a near-sold-out crowd of about 150 people at its peak, that reflected the various groups drawn to post-rap music. The “traditional” (expected) hip hop throng was of course in effect: b-boys in adidas and wind pants, thugs in Timberlands and jewelry, graffitti writers and “underground heads” with backpacks full of spray paint and tapes, and “conscious” neo-soul five-percenter kids that split their wardrobe between Malcolm X paraphernalia and Public Enemy t-shirts. The college radio scenesters blended with the San Francisco electronica sheik, a melange of converse all-stars and sweaters by the bar, there for the sound of the moment or Sage Francis’s connection to anticon, and through them, to Tigerbeat6. There was the crew of tragically hip art-house locals wearing slick black, milling about in the back, apparently unsure whether or not to stay by the bar, but clearly not a part of the throng at the front by the stage. The rest of the audience was made up of confused girlfriends and older men. The assembly was as a whole primarily white, though certainly not exclusively, primarily middle class and educated, with what seemed to be about a fifty-fifty split between those well-versed in the language of hip hop, and the boom-bap illiterate with “other musical interests.” There were more men than women, and from the looks on peoples’ faces when the show began, about three-quarters of the crowd had heard post-rap music before, with maybe half of the lot knowing the performers well.

The Texts
Thus we have constructed a skeletal context around the performance itself. However, the relationship of the visual text and the audiotext of “Crack Pipes” to that performance remains to be examined. There are a number of assumptions that will have to be dealt with if this analysis is to be meaningful in a significant sense. First, there is that issue raised by Walter J. Ong in his book Orality and Literacy: namely, that we live in a world of secondary orality because of the very existence of literacy; or more simply, that no purely oral culture can exist because all cultures are at the very least aware of literacy. The second concern is that already brought up by Sage Francis, the claim that no written (visual) text of the performance poem “Mullet” existed, and that in fact no visual text of that poem could exist. It is an intriguing question: there is little doubt that many, if not most performed poems are composed originally as written texts, but what of poetry that is composed “on the tongue”? Can poetry written in performance, or even for performance, be transcribed? Which of course leads to the corollary question, can poetry that is set to music be transcribed in a meaningful way? Additionally to all of this, there is the question of the role that the pre-composed visual text plays in the performance-act itself. I will attempt to address all of these issues in this section, and in doing so tie the strings together on this experiment in complete listening enough to postulate a conclusion to it.
Johanna Drucker takes up the second of the matters of transcription from a rather obverse angle, but one that may be useful here in elucidating the significance of Sage Francis’s claim, in her essay “Visual Performance of the Poetic Text.” Instead of asking the question of how a poet-performer physically performs a visual text, Drucker examines the way in which a visual text can contain performative elements. Drucker begins her section on “Visual Performance in Poetic Work”:

“The idea of performance in poetry is conventionally associated with a real-time event in which a live or recorded reading provides effective dimensions to a poetic work through the immediate experiences that constitute an event. But a visual performance of a poetic work on a page or a canvas, as a projection or sculpture, installation or score, also has the qualities of an enactment, of a staged and realized event in which the material means are an integral feature of the work. Performance in this sense includes all of the elements that make the work an instantiation of a text, make it specific, unique, and dramatic because of the visual character through which the work comes into being. The specific quality of presence in such a work depends upon visual means- typefaces, format, spatial distribution of the elements on the page or through the book, physical form, or space. These visual means perform the work as a poem that can’t be translated into any other form.”

There is no doubt that the type of performance I am primarily concerned with in this study is the sort that Drucker speaks of in the first sentence: the real-time act; the performance-as-event. However, the assertion that “ a visual performance of a poetic work on a page... also has the qualities of an enactment, of a staged and realized event” is nevertheless extremely important, in that it would seem to challenge Sage Francis’s claim that a visual text of “Mullet” could not exist; rather, Drucker’s account of visual performance seems to imply that the fact that no visual text currently exists does not mean that such a text could not. It is this discord between the two statements that we will now take up.
To find the point at which Drucker’s construction of the visual performance diverges from the term performance as we are using it in complete listening, one needs only to return to Bernstein’s understanding of the poetry reading as it underpins close reading: “The poetry reading enacts the poem not the poet; it materializes the text not the author.” Drucker echoes Bernstein’s statement almost directly: “the visual performance of a work, rather than being about the presence of the author/reader, is about the presence of the poem,” and further: “visual performance of a poetic work has no necessary temporal, spatial, or social relation to the author or artist. Written work is always at a remove from the writer, cast into an autonomous form, not dependent on the presence of the author as a performance.” However, section one of this study argues that a performance poem does not exist separate from its performance-space; it is inherently not more than a performance-act. That is to say, accepting Drucker’s assertion that the visual, written text is “always at a remove from the writer,” any visual performance of a written text cannot, despite any inherent performative elements, be a true transcription of the performed poem, since in the paradigm of complete listening the presence of the poet-performer is fundamental. Drucker comes close to making this distinction in calling the written texts “autonomous,” but the specific nuance is important to recognize here, to help avoid falling into the trap of close(d) listening (or reading).
Are we forced then to accept Sage Francis’s statement that no visual text of “Mullet” could exist? In a word, no: if all performed poetry is, as we have seen with both Maria Damon and Roland Barthes, “becoming-poetry,” then it is perfectly acceptable to claim that the visual text of a poem is just one stage in that process of becoming, or simply one element in the performance-poem that exists permanently in the state of becoming. That is, the written text has a place in the co-creative intersubjective network between the audience and poet, and so necessarily exists, even if that existence consists of nothing more than a title written on a program, or CD case, or even just the possibility that someone could write the poem down.Bluntly put, all poems have a visual aspect in a world of secondary orality, no matter how partial or even unformed that aspect might be. All verbal production retains the influence of literacy because, in a society of secondary orality, words at the very least can be (and I would argue, most often are) imagined as their visual symbols, rather than as sonic fragments of communication. So, even when Sage Francis reads (!) a poem that he insists has no visual representation, the fact that the sounds he makes have visual markers that can be put to them necessitates the existence, if only in the realm of possibility, of a visual text of the performed poem.¸
So even poetries that purport to not have a visual text do in fact have one in a world of secondary orality; but how does all this relate back to Johanna Drucker’s article? The question to ask is whether these visual texts that exist as part of the process of becoming are transcriptions of the performed poem, or whether they exist as “visual performances” that are a separate object from the performance-act itself. I would submit that there can be no true transcription onto the page of a performance, since again, in a practice of complete listening, the presence of the poet is paramount, and the poet cannot be transcribed as part of the “visual performance.” Thus any transcription of a performance, whether it is meant as a re-performance or a proper transcription, is in fact only partial.
This leads us to the last issue raised in the opening paragraph of this section: it is clear that visual texts are not proper transcriptions of performance-poetry, but it is just as clear that they do play some role in the performance-event, and any listening that did not take that fact into account would not be complete. However, the significance of the written text is not fixed: it varies significantly from performance to performance, and is dependent on a number of factors, including the availability of the written text, the audience’s familiarity with that text, as well as the performer’s own use of and adherence to the text, among others. For example, when Allen Ginsberg gives a reading of “Howl” in 1959 the written text is not as big a factor as it would be in a 1989 reading, at which time the audience would (presumably) be much more familiar with the visual text, and would thus have different expectations of Ginsberg’s performance. The text has an interesting function in this complete listening: no visual text of “Crack Pipes” has ever been released in any format, so the only text that the audience could have referred back to would have been the recorded audiotext. However, the performance in question, on April 6th, 2002, was ten days before Sage Francis’s Personal Journals LP was released. That is to say, only the smallest fraction of the audience could have had prior knowledge of the song as Sage was performing it; only the people that had heard the bootlegged version of the album that had been leaked on the internet about three weeks before, and those that had heard promotional copies. Which is to say, to have had known the song as Sage Francis performed it, one would need either a high-speed connection to the internet (or know someone that had one) through which to download the music, or a connection in the independent music scene. Thus it seems safe to say that the majority of the audience in attendance on the sixth was hearing the lyrics to “Crack Pipes” for the first time. The music had been released as a part of Sixtoo’s 2001 instrumental opus The Secrets That Houses Keep, a 10” record that had a limited pressing, suggesting again that most of the crowd probably was not familiar with the music when they heard it that night either.
So in a rather odd way, both the audiotext and visual text refuse to take part in the intersubjective network of this performance. What is remarkable is the very ethereality that this lends the performance: it gives it the aura of an originary moment, where everyone could only approach the co-creation of the poem as if it were a true, original instant of creation. What it also does is allow the song to refuse to accept an definition; being in that moment neither an audio-recording nor a written text, it was able to exist only as a performance, only in that temporal performance space. And, in refusing a definition, what the performance does is rejects an identity, a static self. Which is to say, just as Sage Francis as a performer and “Crack Pipes” as a performance thematized the issue of identity, the dissolution of previously available texts from the intersubjective network of its creation enables the very context of its coming into to being to do so as well.

Section 3: (Re)contextualization One
Creating New Terms: “Rap Music” as Critical Metanarrative

“I hope that no one will any longer be able to think of music or poetry in the late twentieth century without assigning rappers a primary place, both out of an awareness of the urgency of their message, as well as on account of the tremendous poetic power and variety of their expression.”

“In the immortal words of Oliver Wendall Holmes: ‘A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.’”

To begin to reclaim some of the contextual information and significance lost in the process of close(d) listening, the first step is to situate Sage Francis’s performance within the cultural landscape of rap music, such as it is, by making the move to define his place (and the place of the sub-genre that he is working in) within that setting.
The title of this section is an interpolation of the title of the introduction to Russell Potter’s fascinating book Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism, “Coming to Terms: Rap Music as Radical Postmodernism.” In the introduction Potter makes the substantial claim that “all black artistic movements” can be read as “postmodern,” as a result of their dual presence in the historical now, as inflected by 400 years of slavery and post-slavery, and the future-present of the upwardly and temporally mobile American Ideal. As an account of this postmodernism of American blackness Potter succeeds with Spectacular Vernaculars and then some; however, he fails, I believe, to give proper consideration to the postmodern duality inherent in the dominant (white) American position relative to the world; what Cornell West calls the “product of... First World reflections on the decentering of Europe.” That is, if black Americans exist in a dual postmodern space that is at times antithetical to the (again, white) American Ideal, white Americans are also themselves in the dual reality of American and “decentered,” or displaced, European. Potter does take up the issue of white American-ness, but comes to the opposite conclusion that I have: “The central trope of “white” is, I think, the luxury not to think doubly, to see the world through the one-eyed vistas of privilege, rather than having to account for one’s own identity within and against a fundamentally multiple culture.” In glossing this other (primary? at least predominant) postmodernism of white America(n-ness) as the “dialectics of ‘Western’ modernism,” Potter manages to avoid making the “almost conventional” move to “insist that there are multiple postmodernisms,” despite emphasizing that such a move is one that “needs to be made.” Instead, Potter brackets the other American postmodernism(s) in favor of focusing on a construction that combines Theresa Ebert’s “ludic” and “resistance” postmodernisms into a new postmodernism of blackness; it is this playfully transgressive “radical postmodernism” that Potter reads rap music into.
I do not question the validity of Potter’s reading of “rap music” as reflective of the dual nature of black American society. But then if this is “coming to terms” with rap music as a postmodern object, why the need, as I have suggested with the title of this section, to create new terms? Or, and this is asking for the same answer, if not the same question, how is “rap music” a critical metanarrative? To begin to answer these questions we have to examine the assumptions that undergird Potter’s move from rap music to a postmodernism of blackness. Actually, it is one assumption in particular: the one that gives authority to the statement that “hip-hop culture” is a “particular” feature of “African-American culture in general”; the same assumption codes rap music as “Black Noise” (Tricia Rose’s book with this title makes the connection explicit as well in its subtitle: “Rap Music and black Culture in Contemporary America”) or a “black cultural form.” The understanding is clear: rap music is black music, and hip hop culture is black culture, and so of course it is an art form that falls under the jurisdiction of cultural studies, or specifically African-American cultural studies. This understanding is exactly the critical metanarrative of “rap music”: the critical discourse that surrounds the music holds that it is precisely and singularly the cultural production of black America.
I wish to challenge this supposition made by Potter and other critics, not on its sociohistorical grounds, but rather its relevance to the present situation of rap music; or perhaps more to the point I will be challenging the idea that “rap music” is ubiquitously synonymous to the music being produced by rappers and hip hop artists in the current cultural climate of American rap music. I should state here that I am positioning “rap music,” as the critical construct of a monocultural
Post Thu Jul 10, 2003 6:49 am
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 563
Location: Cybertron
 Reply with quote  

yeah, i read all that.

Post Thu Jul 10, 2003 1:13 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 18 Feb 2003
Posts: 1093
Location: Earth
 Reply with quote  

all of it????
Post Fri Jul 11, 2003 1:57 am
 View user's profile Send private message AIM Address

Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 563
Location: Cybertron
 Reply with quote  

no, not one word.
Post Fri Jul 11, 2003 4:07 am
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Posts: 1534
Location: VA.
 Reply with quote  

i was tired when i started reading it at 1:30 am, and for some reason i couldnt stop. must be the ADHD. either that or it was well written and interesting.

my favorite lines in crack pipes will always be: "saw the moon in a way that i've never seen it before when i looked up that night into the sky, wondering why, looking for answers, guess i aint asked right..."

i'm going to sleep. goodnight all.
Post Sun Jul 13, 2003 12:04 am
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address MSN Messenger

Joined: 03 Jul 2003
Posts: 377
Location: Minneapolis
Another Great Sage line:  Reply with quote  

From Eviction Notice:
"She breathes her room to need and every afternoon proceeds to mix her liquid sitter while preparing baby food to feed."

But oh yeah, the article/paper was very good. I got about halfway through it before skipping every other paragraph. I don't know if I agree with the necessity to classify the "sub-genre" in order to analyze it. But if you had to, I don't know if "radical postmodernist" (that was it right?) is the best way to sum up Sage.
Post Sun Jul 13, 2003 12:43 am
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger
Jesus Frank

Joined: 12 Jul 2002
Posts: 2295
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
 Reply with quote  

that was a great read. very good analysis. very well-written.

and how he tied that text section together with everything made me smile. brilliant.

time well-spent.
Post Tue Jul 15, 2003 11:46 am
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 15 Jul 2003
Posts: 12
Location: berlin
why didn´t i study that kind of thing?  Reply with quote  

wow...i bet i would have had better grades if i had had the option to include some of my more personal pleasures and passions into my assignments...shame Sage Francis wasn´t around then...
ah well.
nice one.
Post Wed Jul 16, 2003 5:15 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 15 Jul 2003
Posts: 12
Location: berlin
 Reply with quote  

i confess...i was too tired and bleary eyed to read the whole thing last night. i almost succeeded just then...i forgot how compact the text of analytical essays can be...i must say i'm well impressed...though i think my eyes are crossed.
Post Thu Jul 17, 2003 1:22 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 07 Jul 2003
Posts: 67
 Reply with quote  

Damn Sage! I read the whole thing and eyes are crossed. Everything maid perfect sense, in my terms it was really really well written.
I would love to read more stuff like this. I cant stop reading this type of stuff. I love this


peace - luk
Post Mon Jul 21, 2003 4:12 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 03 Sep 2002
Posts: 117
 Reply with quote  

dang, i was finding that third essay particularily interesting before it cut off. I don't doubt Sage that there will be plenty more papers on you to come ...
Post Sun Aug 03, 2003 10:24 am
 View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 478
 Reply with quote  

you should NEVER say "I" in a thesis
Post Tue Aug 05, 2003 8:38 am
 View user's profile Send private message AIM Address

Joined: 05 Jul 2002
Posts: 620
Location: Penny Arcade
 Reply with quote  

i cant believe someone wrote let, let alone i cant believe someone read the whole thing.

it is possible to over-analyze.
Post Sun Aug 10, 2003 4:55 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address Yahoo Messenger

Joined: 10 Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Location: somewhere near philly
 Reply with quote  

nice shit, i just finished sending my teacher a paper explaining and pointing out the poetic usage in "Runaways". i wont post it because it took me about 5 min to write it and i didnt revise it at all, so yeah it isnt exactly war and peace. after all it's just summer school so my teach's happy i did anything. nice job, no i didnt read it all, i glanced at it, skimmed, stop to read things that stuck out and interested me, and now i'm terrified of going to collge. i have problems writing a 6 page paper, jesus christ....
Post Sun Aug 10, 2003 10:30 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address

Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Posts: 1
 Reply with quote  

damn. i read about 2/3s of that... nice but long...

Post Wed Aug 27, 2003 9:22 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Post new topic Reply to topic
Jump to:  
Goto page 1, 2  Next
All times are GMT - 6 Hours.
The time now is Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:27 am
  Display posts from previous:      

Powered by phpBB: © 2001 phpBB Group
Template created by The Fathom
Based on template of Nick Mahon