Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Going Down Now

WHEN I WAS AWAKENED by the sound of helicopters some minutes ago, I instantly knew what was happening. It'd rained all evening. A perfect time for the police to shut down the Philadelphia encampment.

According to the radio, hundreds of police are surrounding the remaining fifty Occupiers at Dilworth Plaza. Buses are parked nearby to take them to jail. Should I go down there to try to view? I don't know. . . .

Are the Occupiers troublemakers, or are they heroes?

To me, any sign of dissent in this locked-down hyperregulated society is heroic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pioneers or Parasites?


The 11/27/11 issue of the New York Times Book Review contains a review by Jeffrey Rosen of a new book by Robert Levine, How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.

By "culture business," does Robert Levine mean the monopolies which have dominated the publishing business for so long?

Accompanying the article are blown-up photos of actual parasites, one of them labelled "e-books." Wow.

My response is that the New York Times with its stale and elitist view of literature had better be scared!

Levine's argument, presented by Jeffrey Rosen in his review, is that entertainment distributors (like Amazon) "become 'parasites' on the media companies that invest substantially" in artists, musicians, and writers. This "sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture."

It's debatable how good those "best achievements" really are. Sucking the lifeblood out of giant media conglomerates seems a great thing to me. It's called levelling the playing field.

Writers will arrive who'll be able to produce ebooks with writing more original and striking than anything from the Bigs, at a fraction of the price. They've already arrived. I'm one of them. I have no overhead, other than a cheap netbook and occasional coffeeshop purchases. I challenge Rosen, Levine, or anyone at New York Times Book Review to read my 99-cent Mood Detroit and tell me it's not expertly edited and proofed-- by myself-- with strong themes, subjects, and voice. Tougher writing, lower price, better value. (My best ebooks are yet to come!)

How will the artery-hardened Manhattan skyscraper bureaucracies compete?

Can they afford 99 cents?

Possibly they're afraid to read what's coming just around the curve.

It's also curious that the Book Review publishes Rosen's review, with its concerns about copyright and "parasites," three pages away from a review which praises Jonathan Lethem, a writer who a few years ago wrote an essay for Harpers magazine defining the word "plagiarism" out of existence. Curious indeed.

We're seeing the inevitable democratization of literature-- moves that naturally threaten the cronyistic little world of the establishment variety, which has dominated the art for too long.

Will the sleepwalking New York Times ever wake up?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Philly Deadline

Things were hectic and tense at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment yesterday evening as the 5 pm deadline approached. Ministers led a prayer service. Watching cops chewing gum seemed very nervous. At the south end of the plaza at 4 pm, great oratory from a crowd of young activists. At 4:30, at the north end, the Tea Party showed up! The timing wasn't good. They were confronted by actual Occupiers, the hard-core, a bit older, in their 30's and 40's, quite vocal homeless guys black and white standing on a wall speaking passionately at the police-encased few Tea Partiers below.

At the deadline, a massed crowd in the center of the plaza, 80 or so of them sitting down and linking arms, waiting to be arrested. Much top police brass was there, including Deputy Commissioner Ross; including several tough-looking characters, one a captain who I observed stoically enduring a few insults. He looked like someone not to mess with; a dangerous animal barely restraining itself.

The police never moved against the protestors.

I hope to have a series of photos about these events up here soon, or at least this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Amazing New Book Review Blog

I've revived, big-time, my book review, Blitz Book Review at

What's amazing about it?

You'll receive honest literary criticism, Raves and Hates, as nowhere else. I have no hostages to literary fortune. As always from me, you'll receive the unrestrained truth. PLUS, you'll receive it with a unique feature: The Blitz Rating. I'm setting myself to do a ton of reading.

Do YOU have a book you're hawking? Send it on. Smallish paperbacks preferred-- modest-sized novels or short story collections. No large-sized envelopes please!  Mail to:

K. Wenclas
PO Box 22681
Philadelphia PA 19110

Note: I'm not set-up for ebooks yet, but that's coming.

Recommendations considered.

Get in line now for the Blitz Review treatment.

"Reasonable Solutions"

It looks like Occupy Philly will be ended on Sunday, the "Reasonable Solutions" moderates bought out with a possible-but-not-certain free office in the city bureaucracy someplace. A neat trick. At any point, the city can close the useless office, citing budgetary reasons.

My experience with activism is that "reasonable solutions" for the activist side always boils down to one thing: We lose and they win.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mass Celebration

Word has it there are massive demonstrations in Egypt, Syria, and Tibet, as well as in downtown areas of our own country. What could possibly be the reason?

I figure it has to be out-of-control joy at the launch of my great new book review blog, Blitz Book Review! What else?

Join the excitement at

Don DeLillo, Joyce Oates, and David F. Wallace are already at the party. What about YOU?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coming Attractions Part I

I'll announce soon a new book review blog. It'll launch with reviews of (fairly) new books from three big names.

Joyce Carol Oates

Don DeLillo

David Foster Wallace

Three biggies. Can you guess which one receives a positive review?

Because I'll be writing it, it will be the best book review spot around. I'm the fastest and sharpest literary critic on the planet. Will I demonstrate this? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Really Happened?

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which remains one of the great mysteries of history. An action within parameters of time and space.

The event happened at the height of the Cold War, and so was a time of much panic and hysteria, not unlike today. The idea of assassination was in the air, was the zeitgeist of the time-- at least if you look at two movies with the theme of assassination which came out the year before JFK's death: "The Manchurian Candidate," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Viewed today, both films contain scenes which appear prophetic.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" of course was the subject, sort of, of a recent essay by Jonathan Lethem the Postmodernist that appeared in The Believer. Lethem's essay makes clear that, while he may have enjoyed the movie, he didn't understand it.

The film is about the quest for historical truth. Truth is a subject that Lethem, on more than one occasion-- including his recent essay-- has shown he has no interest in. Because of his warped philosophy, he buys the perspective of the newspaper editor who near the end of the film states, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." He implicitly believes that truth is what he says it is. The "newspaper"-- media; authority; power-- determines truth. For the postmodernist, truth is a construct; is strictly conditional.

Yet while this is the point of view of a character in the movie, it's not the belief of the movie itself. Of the mind who created it. The entire narrative is about digging back, reaching back through the dust of the years and the haze of memories to find the kernel of truth, forever asking the question of historians,
"What really happened?"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

At Occupy Philly

At Occupy Philly last night I saw the worn out underclass faces of those who remain. Police and news media like vultures encircled the site. I felt the waiting sense of panic and stress-- the thought of: what happens next? Many of their number had just been arrested two blocks away, at a bank.

Don't kid yourself. Many of the holdouts are feeling the brunt of the recession. Homeless; chronically unemployed; working class students with enormous loan debt they'll never be able to pay back, They have a reason to be scared and angry. As, in a different way, so do many in the Tea Party, those small business persons who've put their lives into fledgling endeavors and are barely hanging on, close to losing everything. They may scorn the homeless in the Occupy encampments, but their biggest fear is joining them.

Right now when I speak about Occupiers I'm not talking about Harvard grads or n+1 staffers. I mean the real 99%-- not the Haves but the Have Nots. Not the paid professional activists on the Left, but neither am I speaking about the paid professional pundits on the Right. Nor the "Reasonable Solutions" people. Nor the Senators in Washington on both sides of the aisle deciding the nation's fate. They're not hurting. None of their kind are hurting. They're only good with their mass media lapdogs at manipulating the anger on all sides out there and keeping the hurting people divided, so they can maintain their station. It's why I strongly suspect partisanship and ideology. I see scoundrels on both sides.

Will the house-of-cards balloon society kept going with hot air collapse? The Overdogs don't yet know what that feels like. When I was something of an activist, with the ULA (Underground Literary Alliance) my Overdog opponents couldn't comprehend my anger. But, you see, I lived through the economic devastation of Detroit. I know what it's like when your world ideals included collapses on top of you.

Just blowing off steam. . . .

Friday, November 18, 2011


What everyone wants right now is change. Change! Real change-- not scams or cooptations.

Is change coming to American literature?

I believe so. It's long overdue. It needs to be a complete swing in direction, change which rolls by and over the debris of literary corruption and rot of the present.

What's the answer? Clear, relevant, exciting writing that can bring excitement into the art.

Sound doable? Sound like fun? My "Pop Lit" books and ideas point a direction. They're merely a start. Change is coming. Get on board.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Meaning of Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy protests will have meaning if the ideals found and announced at them are continued. The tasks are
A.) decentralizing power;
B.) fighting corruption;
C.) democratizing the society and culture.

Isn't It Ironic?

Meanwhile, the Insider literary mag n+1 is complaining about plutocracy at the same time they're running a banner promoting a book published by Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch. ("We have met the enemy, and they is us." -Pogo.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waiting for Mayor Nutter


The television trucks are parked and waiting, cameras pointed on tripods at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment. A helicopter buzzes continuously in the sky overhead. Strangely, there are less police visible than last night. Why? Are they gathering? This is the sense in the air, anyway, which could mean nothing.

Fighting the Power


Populist actions on both the Left and the Right show that the populace wants more of a voice. They want a return to democracy in America.

Last decade, the Underground Literary Alliance fought corruption and cronyism in the halls of literature. We were attacked and ostracized as a result. If the full truth ever comes out, we'll find that powerful forces worked very hard to discredit the ULA in every way possible, including creating a false narrative about our campaign and message, which was used to blackball us.

(See a companion post, "Was the ULA Betrayed?" up shortly at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Democracy in Literature?

The people on all sides in this country want more democracy. How do we get it in the top-down top-heavy realm of literature?

Frances Fox Piven in Philly

At the Occupy Philly encampment last week.

Occupy Philly Update

When colder weather hit, the population of the Philadelphia City Hall encampment didn't decline. It went up, likely due to an influx of homeless. Where at the start, the camp was 90% activists and 10% homeless, that ratio now seems to have been reversed. (I saw Frances Fox Piven speak at the site last week. The usual bromides.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Other Blogs of Mine

At my newest blog, I make a few further remarks about Joe Paterno, and again relate him and his situation to the literary world. See

At my restricted access blog, I've been discussing the ULA. Recent posts include "Why Do It?"; "Targets"; "Outlaws"; with other posts to come like "Going Radical?" and "Going Moderate?" See or email me to gain access.

I've also reopened the Petition to PEN blog at
to show that outreach to the literary establishment has been attempted. The Petition was one small tentative step toward democratizing the art.

Has the environment changed in two years? Is democracy in literature suddenly now possible?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Literary Rebellion, Near and Far

From the New York Times, November 7, 2011, on the front page: "A Literary Rebel Finds Success."

Really? Where?

Not here, it turns out. In China. Novelist Murong Xuecun, "a laureate of corruption" and "word criminal," is approvingly profiled.

The New York Times is the place, incidentally, that had their security thugs throw members of the Underground Literary Alliance and a zine table off the sidewalk in front of their then-headquarters in January of 2007.

For The New York Times, literary rebels are fine as long as they're not American. As long as they don't expose corruption in the very corrupt U.S. literary regime.

My Take on Penn State

The horrific Penn State scandal tells us two things.

1.) The mass of people refuse to believe the worst unless it's staring them in the face. Until then, there's a propensity to protect the glorified names. From all concerned, an inclination to cover up. Power preferred to the Good.

2.) It's often those publicly portrayed as most virtuous who are the most corrupt, or in a few cases, evil. This is the heavy-handed theme, in fact, of my ebook Crime City USA. Have you read it? The novella was intended to be over-the-top. Suddenly it doesn't read like much of an exaggeration.
Is there an analogy to American literature?

I can strongly testify to at least this: In the United States it's the whistleblower, not the miscreant, who's ostracized by the literary community.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Phoniness of the Literati

What bothers me about cynically fraudulent displays like Occupy Writers is that elite writers who've benefitted greatly from the inequities of class have suddenly discovered the concept, and feign to be concerned. Those of us who've written about the subject-- for years; big-picture literature-- have been shut out, told that our kind of writing isn't allowed.

Back in 1994 a long essay of mine about class and America was published in a literary journal by a brave editor named Robley Wilson. "Detroit: Among the Lower Classes," was the essay's title. You won't find it archived anywhere on-line, though a lesser essay I wrote for the same journal-- about baseball!-- is available. Figure that out.
Read independent literature. Buy Mood Detroit, an ebook.

Why You Should Read this Blog

"Gimme some truth."  -John Lennon

A climate of corruption permeates establishment literature. This is the ONLY place where you'll receive the truth.

a genuine alternative

The See-No-Evil Mob

Students at Penn State rioting against the housecleaning of corrupt officials who enabled monstrous occurrences well shows that the one thing a blindly loyal herd doesn't want is the truth.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Resurrect the ULA?


This makes sense only if the organization aggressively lobbies outfits like Occupy Writers to live up to their new-found principles.

Occupy Writers: "All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others."

What Options Are Open?

What avenues are open for a writer like myself, with no backing and no resources, who's pissed off a few important personages, yet who seeks to get word out about his ebooks?

Playing the politely submissive hat-in-hand game like a million others doesn't cut it.

The two elephants in the room are
1.) The Big Six book companies-- themselves owned by megaconglomerates like News Corp-- who have unlimited resources to promote their Approved pets like Egan or Lethem.
2.) The Ivy League/New York buddy system, from where most of the Approved come.

A combination of monopoly and elitism, cronyism and privilege.

The only problem with my noise is that I'm not making enough of it.

Curious Appearance

Note the New York Observer article by Emerald Pellot, here:

Did their agents send them out there? Their publicists? Do Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Lethem-- both who I've been covering here-- have books to promote? We know that Jennifer Egan has been on a reading tour, at the same time she was made the publicity photo poster child for "Occupy Writers." Cynical, cynical. From Pellot's article, it doesn't sound like Egan has much experience at activism.

As for Jonathan Lethem, his appearance is more like the arrival of a postmodern literary god, "At the appointed time," Emerald Pellot tells us, accompanied by a "small entourage of camera people."

 "This is a lucky day for me to stand before you," the aristocrat tells the peasants, er, Occupiers.

Lethem assumes "no particular privileges." Unmentioned is that he's been accepting "particular privileges" of a lavish variety for many years.

Pellot informs us that Lethem "condemned the cynical press and unruly corporate regimes." But, Jonathan, you're a creation and creature of that very same cynical press (his appearance being quite cynical), and those same corporate regimes.

I ask: Will these two much lauded and applauded privileged literary persons now change their ways and embrace democracy in literature? Will they herein show that they're not there for cynical reasons of publicity, that their appearance isn't merely for show? Will they now reach out to those writers who've been fighting against corruption, cronyism, and monopoly for many years?

We'll see, I guess, won't we?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Misunderstanding the Literary Establishment

Writers misunderstand the nature of those who sit stop the literary pyramid. Those whose pedigree, connections, or lack of scruples have placed them at the top. These high-stationed individuals have a huge investment in their own snobbery. This is a crass, but accurate, way of stating the fact. Despite their oft-proclaimed liberal ideals, they believe that their Harvard degrees, say, give them always forever the right to first place. Even in a revolution, should one ever occur, they'd expect to call all the shots. Their superiority is a given. Their wisdom is assumed.

The mistake that even some ULAers have made is believing these privileged individuals can be dealt with. Writers from middle class backgrounds especially believe in the innate goodness of human beings. The fault can't be with the Wise Boys at places like n+1 or The Believer. Their displayed innocence! Their forthright ideals!

The hapless hopeful writer not a member of the Club doesn't realize that the Wise Boys will never, never, never, never willingly accept her or him as an equal. Never, never, never. Understanding this reality needs to be the starting point of any relationship with the status quo scene.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Where's Jonathan Lethem?


I'm still waiting for a response to my takedown of Jonathan Lethem's October Believer essay. I sent The Believer people part of it, along with a link.

Will they-- or Jonathan Lethem himself-- explain and defend their ideas and writing? Anyone?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Miranda July and Morality


On 10/10/11 The New Yorker magazine published a strange piece by Miranda July about shoplifting. "Free Everything." It's an opening into the vacant mind of an amoral person-- the perfect Nietzschean.

Ms. July describes how, as a young adult, she spent much of her time shoplifting. "--the whole world was one giant heist," she affirms.

There's no sense of shame in her reflections. "--no, I did not have any qualms," she says about stealing even from Goodwill Industries, a charitable organization where Miranda was briefly employed. "Because what is money, anyway?" she asks. "It's just a concept some asshole made up."

Keep in mind that Miranda July comes from a privileged background. Her parents were affluent hippies.

The essay is revealing, in that it unintentionally explains her later career gaming the system, obtaining arts grant after arts grant to an amazing extent. (I documented this in a "Monday Report," "The Miranda July Story," for the still-defunct Underground Literary Alliance site.) Miranda's mother held important positions at nonprofits, and no doubt advised Miranda on how to play the cronyistic system game for maximum benefit.

Isn't this how the established literary world operates? Duplicity is the norm. Grab everything possible, without moderation, to feed the special individual's desires. Play any role. Wear any face. The Self is the center of the universe. Getting ahead is the only morality.

Miranda July's short essay makes plain that Miranda is the center of her universe. She carries a sense of complete entitlement, of uninhibited privilege without restraint. The world belongs to her. What's money, anyway? She's never lacked for it, so for her it's a concept without meaning.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Underground Discussions

Where goes the literary underground? Apparently some past members of the notorious Underground Literary Alliance are discussing exactly that. I've decided to give them their space, and instead post my thoughts about such matters at my private blog, Those who are registered readers are welcome to drop in. Anyone wishing to become a reader can send me an email.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Moderates vs. Radicals

At least, that's the drift I got while observing this afternoon's General Assembly at the Occupy Philly encampment at City Hall. The question being discussed is whether or not they're to move voluntarily from City Hall. They're being pressured to do so. The usual constipated intellectual types were arguing very precisely that they should do exactly that-- to somewhere a little more out of the way. "It's time for other tactics," they pleaded weakly. Paine's "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots." (Easy for me to say.)

Fortunately there were a few hard core impassioned radical types, like a very compelling black dude named Blue, and a very large blonde woman named Ivanka. Of course, they're right. You don't willingly give up a winning location. You stand together. In pushing for change, leverage is everything. (Which I never got through all the way to the ULA.)

But what do I know?

To me, moderates are the death of any organization or group pushing for change. I speak from experience.

Incident at a Starbucks

Here I am minding my own business at a Center City Starbucks, settled in a deep corner table out of sight of just about everybody, nursing a "tall" (small) paper cup of hot tea, lost in reading the free Metro newspaper. Suddenly I notice a very tall and gaunt black man standing over me saying he's homeless and hungry while simultaneously two female Starbucks baristas are at his elbows, scarcely coming up to his elbows in height, telling the tall man he has to leave and he's muttering to them he's not going to he's homeless and hungry. Stalemate.

Why had he come up to me, out of all the people in the room at least a dozen? Had he passed the others by? Had he zeroed in on the only sap in the clean place who might give him a smidgen of sympathy? (Or better, money?) Granted, I was the only occupant who appeared not to be a stone-cold-heartless-absorbed-in-talk-or-a-laptop-well-dressed-and-professional-balls-to-the-wall yuppie. But still: Why me?

"They're giving away free food at City Hall," I told the man, looking at him between the two frantically upset baristas. "Right now. The Occupy people."

The three contestants moved away from me. I returned to reading my newspaper.