Thursday, June 25, 2009

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A poem I wrote this evening inspired by the life and death of Michael Jackson. It may be a cliche and even a bit tacky to write a poem for such an event, but unfortunately it's my only form of expression.  When I came home and opened up my facebook home page every single status update, link, post and comment was regarding Jackson and his life, controversy and contribution to modern music and dance - One can't ignore such a widespread effect on mankind, and so, using my only tool; words, I have created somewhat of a narrative poem in tribute.

"The Boy With The Glass Eye"

A boy lived once, with glass in his eye.

    A delicate soul rich in force and care.

No one could spy and always wondered why,

    The boy refused to share his obvious despair.

Many brothers and sisters he was born into,

    and close with them he was.

Though all who had their very own view,

    would commonly applause.

The boy with the eye had talent and spry.

    and certain magical flare.

He could sing and dance and with ease supply,

    all the villagers with a joyful affair.


Though his siblings with him would take the stage,

    it was always commanded by him.

It was impossible to gage or ever wage,

    on how a bright future could be so grim.

Older the boy grew and more fragile the glass,

    and the villagers began to crave,

More singing and dancing which led to, alas,

    A life less his own and more of a slave's. 

His family stood by and watched the boy cry,

    and supported him best they could.

But, when a beast wants to be fed a feast,

    there's little account for common good.

So harder he danced and louder he sang,

    and the thinner the glass eye got.

For but a boy the bell of manhood rang.

    and to cling onto his boyhood he fought.

The boy was now caught up in the middle,

    of boyhood ignorance and manhood bliss,

Always would his real dreams play second fiddle,

    To the biting paranoia and fear of remiss.

His voice got louder and his feet more swift,

    but the villagers began to grow tired,

Of his singing and dancing so he began to drift.

    Into a world where to be inspired was not required.

The people of the village started to wonder,

    if perhaps there was more to know.

About the boy who was torn asunder

   and who had shown them only his show.

Poked and pried and snooped and dug,

    the villagers would not give up.

When they found nothing swept under the rug

    the villagers would make things up.

Within a short span it came to village vs. man,

    and they forgot he could sing and dance.

The stage went empty and a witch hunt began.

    He hadn't a chance nor second glance.

He influenced some and changed lives of more,

    he became one of a kind.

Passion in his projects he'd always pour,

   and love in his art you'd find.

After years of torment and endless critique,

    his heart began to grow weak.

A character of mystique had always been meek,

    his life began to grow bleak.

One day before taking the stage,

    his heart finally failed him.

It was impossible to gage or ever wage,

    on how a bright future could have been so grim.

The glass in his eye shattered not,

    though it always showed its flaw.

Of a wrong doing he was never caught,

    But it's as human to err as it is to awe.

written by jeff campagna

June 25th 2009, 9:04pm

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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There have been two songs to steam-roll the pop music world recently that caught my ear; one of them being "If You Seen Amy" by Ms. Spears and the other being "Love Game" by Lady Gaga. Now, when I first heard these songs in their entirety and fully noticed their tongue-in-cheek nature I became somewhat irritated. Why you ask? I'm not sure really. There was just something about their innuendoes and sexual aggression that rubbed me the wrong way. (mind the pun). I am, of course referring to Spears' hidden acronym 'All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy' = 'All of the girls and all of the boys are begging to F.U.C.K. Me' as well as Lady Gaga's constant references to taking rides on men's 'disco sticks'.

('If You Seek Amy' or F.U.C.K Me, Britney Spears)

('Love Game', Lady Gaga)

That's when I really got to thinking about it. The conservative consumer in me was disgusted that these camps had resulted to songs very clearly about sex to sell records. I thought - don't these artists have anything better to sing about or any integrity regarding their content? Why must these people exploit and feed the sexual restlessness and tension of target audiences? Why does modern music have to live and die in the gutter?

Modern music I thought? Are they the only ones guilty of this innuendo riddled music? Well, my fairly comprehensive knowledge of classic rock from the 60's and 70's allowed me to take a few steps back and investigate and, well, what I found surprised me.

Brit and Gaga aren't doing anything new, nor are they any dirtier or provocative than some of my favorite classics. Now, I want to clarify something here (before I become known as they guy who thinks Lady Gaga is as good as Led Zeppelin): I am in NO WAY comparing the musicality, quality or technical skill of classic rock and modern pop - I am simply pointing out the similarities in lyrical and symbolic content.

Have a listen to "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" by ACDC, or "Feel Like Making Love" by Bad Company. And if you aren't convinced yet, give "Lemon Song" by Zeppelin a gander (the real meaty parts of this song aren't even Zepp's, it's actually borrowed from an old Arthur McKay blues joint from 1937 called "She Squeezed My Lemon". It has lyrics like "Squeeze me, babe, 'till the juice runs right down my leg...the way you squeeze my lemon-a, I'm gonna fall right outta bed..." 
('Lemon Song', Live from Dancing Avocado)

or "Whole Lotta Love" with lyrics like "Way down inside, woman, you need love. Shake for me, girl, I wanna be your back door man..."
('Whole Lotta Love', Live from Knebworth, 79)

So, what I used to love, the so-called 'classics', are okay, but these new tracks with the same level of sexual marketing aren't? Clearly I am just getting old and my ability to keep up with pop culture is fading fast.  Soon, any vestiges of the man who was once on the safe side of cool will be washed away leaving a grumpy, old, turn that music down cranky pants. Shoot me now.

writing under the influence,

Friday, June 19, 2009

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For those of you that read my blog who are interested in the literary end of things, this link may please you. For those of you that have no interest in novelists, playwrights, poets or the like, I suggest you steer clear, for it may bore you to death.

If you proceed and complete it, come back and leave a comment and let me know how you did. You won't find this in any facebook quiz or chain email....

writing under the influence,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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"Advice Given, Patience Taken"

People oft' tell me things that I already know;
  like always tell the truth, and you reap just what you sow.
    But they never seem to care too much about my current woe.

Instead they try their very best not to undergo,
  the same position they see me in that effects me so.
    For, to them, I serve the purpose of a cautionary foe.

Once I was told, in matter of fact, bet high and sell low.
  Then when my money disappeared they said go with the flow.
    Both phrases hold the same weight as don't eat yellow snow.

Whether the sun will rise tomorrow or the rooster crow,
  are happenings that are nothing more than nature's status quo.
    So with every small piece of advice does my patience thinner grow.

written by jeff campagna

Sunday, June 14, 2009

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"For A Man Has To Age"

The summer breeze blows with despair,
  and what often blows back to,
are more stronger gusts with darker musts,
  that lack every bit of fair.

It is these summer days and nights,
  that fill my mind with sorrow.
And they come and go with little flow,
  and leave little lust for tomorrow.

When I was a younger more eager man,
  and my heart was filled with hope.
My days and nights and aft's and fights,
  were also lacking scope.

It was these nights and longer days,
  that made the man I am.
Though none to proud, I say it loud,
  for every and all to exam:

Here I lay, for you to hear me say,
  that I've had very little success.
And though to speak at all seems far to tall,
  to write it out seems best.

When we are young and dream of old,
  we seem to think of light,
All the places and faces that make it hard,
  to ever win a fight.

And when we grow we come to know,
  that wrong indeed were we,
For now we must with a summer's gust,
  commence to beg and plea.

Our grand dreams and lofty schemes,
  begin to give great way,
To what we became and the lofty shame,
  that shadows us every day.

If aware were we, and ready to be,
  something we'd come to hate,
Perhaps with tact and matter of fact,
  we'd have changed the course of fate.

The shadow now rests and follows me best,
  when my mind is weak and frail.
And however I fend or try to comprehend,
  the shadow must always prevail.

So to read this with youth might bare some truth,
  and save your life it may.
For when it's to late, sealed is your fate,
  and help it wont to pray.

written by jeff campagna

Friday, June 12, 2009

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So, it has been eleven or twelve blogless days while I have been traveling around Scotland and Ireland. Sorry to say, I am now back and with a certain refreshed outlook on the literary world and those who reside in it.... or have resided in it more specifically. 

There was one thing I really appreciated about Edinburgh and Dublin and that was their loyalty and gratitude towards the writers than were born in their cities and their talents that were born out of them.  It was never hard to find a monument, statue, bastille, museum or plaque that had been erected in their names. And for good reason, the class of writers that I am referring to were sick with talent, technical skill, originality, swagger and most of all paved the way for the literary world as we have come to love or hate it today.

Robert Burns
One of the worlds most famous poets, Robert Burns lived in the mid-late 1700's in and around Edinburgh and truly did posses a way with words.  He is a pioneer of the romantic movement and his works embody the beauty and elegance of his homeland.  He has taught me that true poetry should have a flow and rhythm and not always just appear as a collection of words that may or may not have some remote meaning to their author - something I am guilty of myself.

Sir Walter Scott
Another 1700's writer hailing from the land of Scotts, Walter Scott was the talented, intelligent and ballsy  author of classics such as "Waverley", "Ivanhoe" and "Rob Roy"... to name a few. There are many things about Scott that intrigue me, beyond his apparent literary prowess. One is the fact that he wrote the first many of his major works anonymously, even after it was obvious that there would be no issue with claiming the authorship. Apparently, he kept up this facade out of fun, which is just plain cool. Secondly, he has the largest monument in the world ever erected for a writer, you should see this thing, it's like a damn war memorial.

James Joyce
Yes, we all know James Joyce. Or at least we all know of James Joyce. What fascinates me most about Joyce, aside from his great work, is the fact that he seriously disagreed with the literary movement that was happening in the city of Dublin at the time, around 1904. Because this movement seemed so false and unmotivated to him, he went into self-imposed exile first in Zurich, then on to Trieste and Paris. Yet, Dublin still treats him as his own. His works include "Dubliners" a series of short stories, "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake" which took 17 years and is written in an idiosyncratic language making it a hard read.

Oscar Wilde
The most quotable man in the world... Yes, more quotable than the movie "Dumb and Dumber". Wilde pretty much revolutionized the notion of the celebrity. He fast became known outside of artistic circles in Dublin and began writing plays, many of which are still celebrated today. Later in life he was imprisoned for two years on 'gross indecency' charges relating to his homosexual behavior. He had more than enough time to flee the country before his jail time, still he stayed, willing to do his time. Later, after his imprisonment, he would flee to Paris where he could live the life he chose. Can you say Roman Polanski? Anyways, if you want a great example of Wilde's poetic skill read the poem "The Ballad Of Reading Goal" which is one of the only pieces he wrote after his prison sentence. 

Brendan Behan
One of the original Bad Boy's of literature, it isn't so much Behan's writing that fascinates me, but why he started writing in the first place. As a young man he was part of the IRA and served lots of prison time because of it. It was in prison that he started writing poetry and published it in the IRA news letters. It is rumored that he began writing pornography to pay the bills once out of prison. His drinking problem worsened throughout his life, and as the fame came at him harder, harder to the drink he went. Notorious for drunken public episodes on television and stage, the people began to love and crave his escapades - a love that would soon diminish and leave Behan as a lonely drunk who could no longer write. "There's no bad publicity except an obituary" - Brendan Behan

writing under the influence of greatness,