CRYSTAL SET #1: NEIL YOUNG by Tom Clark, Couch House Press (1971).

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Neil Young by Tom Clark, Coach House Press (1971). The book is a small square. The cover and interior illustrations are by Joe Brainard, mostly close-up black and white drawings of the seams of jeans, but some “domestic” interiors and 70s science textbook-like photos, too. Tom and Joe probably said “jean seam” back and forth to each other and then Joe drew some and Tom put them in this book. It is dedicated to Clark Coolidge, which makes sense. There are 5 sections: Neil Young, Instant Party, Tom Toms, 33 Statements, and Tiny Messages. Those are all good titles. Neil Young is the longest and best, made up entirely of Neil Young lyrics taken out of context. This is awesome because Neil Young was famous in 1971 but not as famous as he would be after Harvest and On the Beach and Zuma. “Second generation” New York school poets were super into contemporary music and this is a good artifact of that love, which is mostly undocumented. Daniel Kane is working on a book about how New York punk and proto-punk was influenced by New York school poets, so that will be amazing and help us talk about it more. Cassandra told me Ted Berrigan taught a poetry class on Bob Dylan and called him Bobby the whole time. Ted had great taste, mostly because he was interested in bad taste. Let that be a lesson. Most pages are a small piece of text isolated in the center and then in a different font down next to the page number there is a weird non sequitur, like this page from the Neil Young section that says “You can’t be 20 on Sugar Mountain” in the center and “capitalism among insects” next to the page number. Going back and forth when you’re reading is what makes the book fun. Talking about it later is even more fun than reading it though because then things like “digestive wafers” seem funnier outside of the order of the book and how the Neil Young lyrics echo is great. It takes about 10-15 minutes to read the whole thing. It reminds me of Ron Padgett and Clark Coolidge’s collaborative book Supernatural Overtones (The Figures, 1990) which also does this thing with text in the center and text at the bottom. Supernatural Overtonesis archived at Eclipse and is worth reading because Ron Padgett and Clark Coolidge are individually terrific so terrific together.