Levi Asher

read at the bowery poetry club, sept 11, 2002

i walked thru western brooklyn today
to check how my city is doing
borough park, sunset park, gowanus and red hook

slimy gummy gowanus canal
always a kaleidoscope of pollution
still one man is fishing
the eternal tableau

stole a glimpse of the downtown skyline
at the g train platform at smith & 9th
and remembered how when i was a kid
i watched the buildings being built for years
from the back seat of the plymouth fury
whenever we drove on the verrezano

later when i was working at jp morgan
i'd sit under the towers and eat spare ribs or sushi
i'd stand right next to the corner and look straight up
at the incredible white straight line

one day chubby checker was there singing at lunchtime
or they'd bus in some high school band to do a concert

windows on the world
where many years ago meg and i celebrated our marriage-to-be
i think i had beef tournedos
and meg had some vegan spinach thing
the marriage didn't last either

the city seems to be okay today

and what did i do this year?
a year spent hating the world
what answers did i come up with? zero

the dust that we breathed that day

the questions my kids finally asked

the deli that stayed open on pearl street
the tiger's milk bar i bought while the dust swirled outside

wandering battery park city in the dust

what answers did i come up with?

T H E    I N N E R    W O R L D    O F    L E V I    A S H E R

I don't want to be me anymore. And I don't want you to be you anymore. I'm sick of everybody being who they are. I want everybody to switch selves with the person next to them. Now. Switch.

Last night I was at a poetry reading arguing with three other poets about the world political situation. Then I mentally stepped back and started observing the WAY we were all arguing. If we were a quartet playing a sonata, well, let's just say we were four instruments out of tune. No harmonies were reached. Four blaring opinions. I decided to shut up for a few minutes and hear what the other people were saying. Then a couple other people started shutting up too, and it started turning into a good conversation. We all shook hands at the end and felt a lot better.

Maybe all the smoldering evils and vengeances of the world can be smoothed over, like stepping on broken glass. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think there is hope for humanity. Not a hell of a lot of hope. But, there is hope.

I want a simpler world. I like it when people smile. I'm tired of airplanes crashing into things when I close my eyes.

Well, you know, I wanted to be a crane driver when I was a kid. I think I was inspired by Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. They looked like they were having fun. I don't know where the hell I went wrong, but it's years later and I still never drove a crane.

But I do build stuff. Here's some of the things I've done the last few years:

Literary Kicks

This is basically my main gig. It's sort of taken on a second life since January 2001, after I introduced a new message board area that has grown in a lot of unique ways. We're also gathering a pretty impressive library of articles about alternative and experimental writers from Lord Byron to Tuli Kupferburg and everywhere in between.
Summer of the Mets

This is the novel I've spent the last few years working on. It's kind of a high school revery and coming-of-age thing, but I hope it's also more than that. Anyway, it's the book I wanted to write. It's finally out and costs only $12.00 here.
Notes From Underground

This is one of my favorite projects. I had this crazy idea to make a full-length digital movie with $2000 and a Sony camcorder and distribute it on a CD-Rom. It took two years and almost killed me, but I think the movie came out pretty damn good. Phil Zampino, Liza Sabater and the other actors really captured the spirit of this Russian classic. NOTE TO SELF: writing poems is easier than making films.
Coffeehouse: Writings from the Web

Goddammit, this was a good book. It was also, verifiably, the first book of internet-based fiction and poetry published in book form. It's out of print now, and me and my co-editor Christian Crumlish are pretty pissed off about this. Contributors included Joseph Squier, Carl Steadman, Mark Napier, Xander Mellish, Lee Ranaldo, Mike Watt, Martha Conway, Robert Hunter and the great Walter Miller.
Queensboro Ballads

In a way, this is still my favorite thing I've ever done. It's a series of stories and essays in the form of a mythical folk-rock album from the early 1960's. You kind of have to check it out to get what I mean. It was written way way back in the days when HTML was still "acoustic" (no tables, no javascript, etc.) so it might seem very simplistic, but this really was what web pages looked like back in 1995.
I've also published a bunch of short stories and poems in places like Enterzone and InterText. I live in Queens, I have 3 great kids, and I mainly make a living through LitKicks or through other projects involving literature or art or music online, including, most recently, BobDylan.com (where we also run some really good message boards), BruceSpringsteen.net, Whitney Biennial and iVillage.

Story of my Life

You don't wanna hear it. There are sad parts and happy parts. I had a kitten when I was 8 and he died. Stuff like that.

But, if you are really interested, you can read my old home pages, which seem to form some kind of history of me. Here's my ever-growing sequence of insanity, for your perusing pleasure:

Levi Asher