Friday, October 3, 2008

High School Confidential

High School Confidential (1958

“Behind These "Nice"
School Walls—A Teacher's
Nightmare! Teen-Age Jungle!”

High School Confidential—
back then I was a lot better
Language Poet than I am today.
I had Mamie Van Doren hormones
driving me up the wall—I had all the
Gertrude Stein symptoms. I lived in
the continuous present, my mind
was always starting over & over again
like a tape-loop and everything
was crowding in on me clotting
my poor helpless brain with all
sorts of weird things. And they
weren’t all nice pretty cute
Tender Buttons either.

Naturally or rather unnaturally—
I fell in love with Russ Tamblyn
the cute narc. That scene by the
refrigerator—when Mamie puts
the make on him. I was shocked—
simply shocked. I had no idea
Van Doren was a chicken queen—
surely Russ Tamblyn was jail bait
then. I was even more shocked
when Jan Sterling—asked him
for a date. High school English
teachers were certainly risqué
back then in the Fifties. Even so,
Tamblyn plays hard to get—
just the opposite of Samson
and Delilah when he throws
a jealous fit over Victor Mature
and Hedy Lamarr getting it on.

Speaking of camp and language
poetry—Charles Bernstein has
a campy cover on his poetry
collection, Girly Man (2006).
Campy weird Albert Dekker from
Dr. Cyclops (1940)—the bald,
near-sighted, cueball-headed
mad scientist Dr. Thorkel. He
shrinks people down to nothing—
and then tortures them. Like he
does to Janice Logan—holding
her in his clammy perverted palm.
Squeezing and playing with her—
like skanky King Kong with poor
defenseless fainting Fay Wray.

Bernstein includes a movie poem—
In The Girly Man. It says a lot more
about things than just the movie tho:

Fantasy on Nightmare on
Elm Street Theme

“There is a place
not here
nor near nor far

Goes and comes
wherever you are

Don’t go don’t go don’t go”

That’s the way I felt—
about Russ Tamblyn. Mamie
Van Doren and Jan Sterling go
where angels fear to tread—
I admired both actresses for
wanting to do what they
wanted to do. I wanted to
do it too—hard to get types
have always been my fatal
weakness. Back then in 1958—
I was in high school hell too.

But it was more like Nightmare
on Elm Street—all the cute ones
like Russ Tamblyn were totally
untouchable. It was the kind of love—
that “comes and goes / wherever
you are.” With me always hearing
in the back of my mind—“Don’t
go don’t go don’t go down, baby.”

It reminded me of Stefan George—
And his young lover Maximilian.
He wrote a poem about him—
in Der Siebenten Ring. Both Perloff
and Bernstein did translations. His
was entitled “Death Fugue (Echo).”

I did my own “Mac Low” version
of a sad love affair with a
cute Euro-punk blonde:

for stEefAn gEeorg

sEminAl midnigHt—
in the viEnnA hotel
with a storm outsidE.
whEen i gAve you tHe Eye
aNd you closEd yours tigHt.
my poor oGling bLoodsHot
trAumAtic EyebAll—
i strAinEd it so hAard you
gAve mE a strokE; aNd
goT bliNdEd by youR
youNg mAle beAuty—
thAt Hot nigHt in bEd.
deAth aT sixtEEn—
sEEms uNbeArablE
to mE noW; whEn
i tHink of How you
diEd in my Arms
in thAt viEnna hotEl
All nigHt long..

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