Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Luc Sante's Folk Photography and David Goodis by Beadel Debevoisse



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Sante? He was just a five letter word in the headlines to me. I vaguely knew he’d done some things— maybe even great things— but not until an hour ago did I know realize was a poet too. But, lo and behold, here I am, house sitting in Gowanus and there it is, snug between Edward Sanders and Edith Sitwell, Luc Sante, My Life In Poetry: 1970-1981— an orgy of sibilants! (Sappho, in this home, resides in the Greek and Latin collection; Friedrich Schiller in the German, etc.) Reading it, I was inspired to listen to the music of Erik Satie, specifically Aldo Ciccolini’s 1965  recording of Sports et divertissements. Luc Sante in “Le Water-Chute”? If only Captain Boynton were alive to see it.
Poetry, of course, was not Sante’s true wheel. His latest book, Folk Photography:The American Real-Photo Postcard 1905-1930, most certainly is, however, and it’s further evidence a proper poetic inheritance (Homer, Jean de Bosschère, H.D., Dave Van Ronk) is a thing of louche beauty. Sante— dare I say the Sepia Sante?— recently explained his project in Art Forum. Fellow postcard collector Jim Lindeman, author and editor of the astounding Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 (for which Sante wrote an introduction) gives Folk Photography a couple deep dunks himself: rejoice!
A good cook needs a new chopper
Once a year— he cuts
A poor cook needs a new one
Every month—he hacks!
—Thomas Merton, from The Way of Chuang Tzu
Berger found four postcards and two stereopticons “down south”; his questions were composed overlooking the Nantahala mountains. Sante wrote his answers by hand, not far from the Catskills. They play all the notes Bird missed.
— Beadel Debevoise

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Tacony-Palmyra Bridge Over Delaware River, Philadelphia, PA.
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Cohocksink M.E. Church, Philadelphia (interior)

Brian: I don’t know Philadelphia well but I imagine David Goodis masturbating furiously here, a quiet pew in Cohocksink Methodist Episcopal Church— lust cuts frustration, a breakfast zep not for victory but enough to absorb the detritus of another failed drunk fuck. There was room elsewhere in the bar, he recalled, but he preferred to squeeze beside the ample blonde smoking Chesterfields and still wearing her Lehigh Valley Transit Company trolley driver uniform. He’d always wanted to visit Norristown.
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Luc: As concerns Norristown, please consult Mimi Lipson’s story, “Tomack” (in Food And Beverage)— it’s the last word on the place. Norristown was just made for Goodis, who appreciated him a good dead end. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is a top contender for the great lost American city. It’s like a collision of the 18th and 20th centuries (respectively: grand and noble and scholarly, and rough and tumble and beached) that’s been hung out to dry in the 21st. I love Philly. But I have a major soft spot for inhabited ruins.
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Cohocksink M.E. Church, Philadelphia (exterior)


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Beadel Debevoise is a poet, editor and translator. Her most recent collection of verse, Thinking About Your Cock Thick And Unyielding Like The Walls Of Blarney Castle (Gowanus Dog Press) won the National Book Award in 2008.

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