MySpace Album Pages

MySpace now carries album pages both for Ardent and for the Eris Temple EP. Cheers.


Facade: Great American Pub, Conshohocken Pt. 2

Facade: Great American Pub: Fayette Street: Conshohocken


Raw Rainy Fog album insert: Matt Stevenson ('02)

Flier: Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum


St. Adalbert's Catholic Church, Philadelphia


Mp3 Shuk...

This is a nice repository page set up for my mp3s (music and poetry) on mp3shuk

Philadelphia City Hall from South Broad Street, Philadelphia


St. John the Baptist Church: Manayunk


from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


More Eris Temple Diaspora

Getting the hang of the raucous nature of the music biz online, another solid page for the Eris Temple EP.


Regal Cinema: Conshohocken

Bandcamp Portal Page

This Bandcamp portal page leads to the Eris Temple EP and five songs from Ardent. Cheers. 


Sons of America Building: 2nd Ave & Fayette Street: Conshohocken


The Bad News Bats: West Philadelphia: 2006

More from Highwire Gallery (mid-Aughts)

Staring at Buildings, Waiting for Individuals...

Fayette Street in Conshohocken is a testament to the power of the human imagination. The aesthetic effect both of architectural sublimity and of bizarre juxtapositions carries over the whole length of Fayette Street, from where it begins until it turns into Butler Pike. I am by no means an expert on architecture, but the jaw-dropping gorgeousness of Fayette Street is difficult for any serious artist to miss. Were the architects channeling other worlds when they pieced Fayette Street together, building by building, strip by strip? I think so; and I have already likened Fayette Street to Narnia (remember Cair Paravel?), though any fairy tale realm where the fanciful, the evanescent and the ethereal (apparitional, in the spirit of Neo-Romanticism, also works) triumph over the quotidian and its monstrosities. This strip, between 2nd and 1st Ave on Fayette, adds an edge of the urban and hipsterism to the party. It looks like Georgetown in DC and Park City Utah; but, as usual with Fayette Street, the juxtaposition of the strip with Calvary Episcopal, Saint Matthew Church, and the Conshohocken Municipal Building behind it where the slope levels off again takes something normative and makes it transcendental. And does the architecture of Fayette Street critique the inhabitants? On the other side of things, the row homes which constitute the architectural backbone of Fayette Street past the Municipal Building on 7th Ave and Fayette all have something important to say, sometimes fanciful/imaginative, sometimes not, about the kinds of folks who may be living there. Hard-headed, practical things too; and in this way, the evanescence of Fayette Street is balanced, heaven to Earth, Kether to Malkuth. 


Matt Stevenson: Main Street West: South Philadelphia: 2004

Conshohocken Free Library: 3rd Ave & Fayette Street

Calvary Episcopal Church: 4th Ave & Fayette Street: Conshohocken

Sex as Dialectic

William Wordsworth leaves out of his Preface to Lyrical Ballads any particular approach to physicality, to the body, or to bodily awareness in general. By doing so, he leaves a certain critical door wide open to accusations that both Lyrical Ballads and the rest of his oeuvre lack the visceral quality born of rigorous physicality. When the mind, for example, associates ideas in a state of excitement, Wordsworth seeks to document the process in his poems; yet what the mind is reacting to is (Wordsworth suggests) a kind of perceptive consciousness of the durable permanence of natural forms and the human mind’s chiasmus with them. What about the durable permanence of the human body itself, as Renaissance humanism likes to suggest; or, even better, what about texts and textuality which assumes that the body itself is an idea, and associations and entanglements of bodies are associations and entanglements of ideas as well? This is in Keats’ Odal Cycle, and in Apparition Poems as well, especially in 1070, which forms a palimpsest over Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper:

I said, “I can’t
even remember
the last time I
was excited, how
can I associate
            She pulled
out a gun, a tube
of oil, and an air
            and it was
a spontaneous
felt, in which we
reaped together—

 It is a backbone of one of the strains of my work, which includes (also) Equations and When You Bit…, that sexuality is not only an expression of our physical selves but also an idea. A tangential thought is that, as is expressed in 1070, the human body itself is an idea, and sex itself can be a kind of physical dialectic.


Eris Temple EP Diaspora: Band-Camp

BandCamp is another solid rock site. Here, on BandCamp, is the Eris Temple EP entire


Neo-Romanticism and the Individual

There is one central Neo-Romantic contradiction which animated the lives of all the Neo-Romantic artists in Philadelphia in the Aughts: we were all engaged with the world around us on as many levels as possible. Yet, to follow through on the quest and the aptitude to create innovative, provocative, and major high art consonant art, we all needed to maintain (sometimes) an extreme degree of solitude as well. I can’t speak for Abby, but for me, the tug between solitude and solitary creation on one side and social and/or sexual engagement on the other was a hard row to hoe. This contradiction is there for all serious artists, but we, all of us, were perhaps more baroque, labyrinthine, and apparitional then other artists at other times, as the smorgasbord we had before was so rich and so tricky. So, we had to flail around and attempt to find as much solidity as we could on as many levels as we could. How solid, for instance, is sex? Is sexuality, in its raw, un-worked forms, something solid or something evanescent? The Nick Drake I placed on IA today, Six Songs, has to do with Comings and Goings, and fleeting glimpses inside the minds of individuals who are all attempting to arrive someplace solid. John Donne, many centuries ago, sashayed towards the realization that he was “traveling through” his lovers. What Abby gives us, in Frozen Warnings, is a sense beyond that of two things: total emotional entropy between two individuals, and a manifest formal/thematic triumph over the insipid Americana of Andrew Wyeth, on his own turf. Abby, in fact, has ways of triumphing over PAFA formalism simply by painting situations as emotionally charged (sometimes sexually also, sometimes not) as possible. The pursuit of passions and emotions in serious art is always solid. It also manages to bridge the gap between solitary worlds of creation and levels of social engagement. Takes us, solidly, to Apparition Poem 1341:

Secrets whispered behind us
have a cheapness to bind us
to liquors, but may blind us
to possibilities of what deep
secrets are lost in pursuit of
an ultimate drunkenness that
reflects off surfaces like dead
fishes at the bottom of filthy
rivers— what goes up most is
just the imperviousness gained
by walking down streets, tipsy,
which I did as I said this to her,
over the Schuylkill, two fishes.

Individuals who live in multiple worlds often do not find it easy to connect. All the Apparition Poems elements— the night, the city, sex, death, drunkenness— coalesce around the vagaries of trying to communicate the incommunicable, which may be incommunicable for practical or for psycho-spiritual reasons. The dry ice I-it here, is matched by Abby’s equivalent of the same in Frozen Warnings. From Center City Philadelphia in the Aughts, we all had to live through a certain amount of dry ice— the city is not a solitary place, even when you need it to be, and it was invasive and intrusive sometimes. Aughts Philly, in fact, had and was a kind of merry-go-round game, which meant that mastering the stops, when to get on and when to get off (so to speak), was a delicate art. Artists need space. Frozen Warnings is given by Abby here a suburban template, but involves urban issues too— what happens when hipster-ism and scenester-ism turn sour, and what sinks in is the gravitas of one’s own isolation? The Neo-Romantic obsession with multi-tiered living is also frustrated by the dynamics of balancing imperatives to join and imperatives to self-isolate as well. So that, our reaction to this dilemma could not be dictated to us by Philadelphia’s architecture; that could only lend rigor to the art we were creating. As to what should constitute the life, we were all more or less on our own, and it remains that way to this day.  


Inside the Eris Temple, '07

The Story of Eris Temple (EP)

By the spring of 2007, when I wrote and recorded most of the Eris Temple tracks, my life had changed radically from where I had been during the Philly Free School/Highwire Gallery days of 2004/2005. I had finished my MFA in creative writing and was now a University Fellow at Temple University, working towards a PhD in English literature. Because my University Fellowship offered both a stipend and two fellowship years (2006/2007 and 2009/2010), and because my first year was a fellowship year and did not require me to teach, I still had time to write books and music. The other change that spring was that I resumed my relationship with Mary Harju, after several years hiatus. Matt was ensconced at the Eris Temple in North-West Philly (52nd and Cedar), and the Eris Temple basement, where the studio was, was also large enough to hold performances in. To give some idea of how the studio looked: you would descend down a red-painted wooden staircase, into a kind of dungeon lair beneath street level. As per levels: the first, bottom level had Matt’s computer equipment and mixing board on it. Then, upsy daisy (a jump up) to the second, elevated level of the studio, which was large and square-shaped, and where the instruments where kept. Radio Eris rehearsed there, punk bands and noise-industrial bands often played as part of Eris Temple events, and this is where the instrumental portion of recording was done. That means, as those who know recording studios know, that the cables ran between the two levels, which wasn’t always comfortable, rather banana-peel-ish, but who cares. The instrument/sound-booth space had one window, even with the side-yard pavement, facing due south. The ceilings were relatively high, which offset the aura of grunge and “bunker” nicely. The floors were granite slab.

The songs I had written that spring were only a semi-hodge podge. For some reason, I was attracted to the open G tuning, made famous by Ry Cooder and Keith Richards. Salty Waves Of Blue, Rake, and Garden Wall were all written in open G. The way Matt produced Salty Waves Of Blue and Rake, the ambiance owed a lot to Big Star’s #1 Record, particularly Watch the Sunrise. I also noticed that when we recorded She Disowned My Life, with Pete Leonard on drums (who had also drummed for my band The Godheads at CHS), and which was in standard tuning, the mood we caught was some rock music equivalent of the high ceilings and the granite slabs mixed together. It was an aural admixture that had Philadelphia as it looked and felt in it. USA Lite and Feel Like A Man Again were both meant to express different kinds of frustration; as halcyon as much of Aughts Philadelphia was, and as the Eris Temple in all its high-ceiling grunginess was, the Aughts were Bush regime years in the United States and all of us felt that pinch constantly, too. Feel Like A Man Again is more about the social and sexual mores of Aughts Philadelphia, and the sense I often had in the Aughts of characters and situations out of control, beyond the pale; in other words, excess. The dynamic between Aughts Philadelphia and Red America was utterly never-the-twain, and we didn’t necessarily feel, on a day to day basis, that our excesses were being mirrored anywhere else. I’m In Love With A Girl, of course, the Big Star cover, is from an earlier era when Matt lived at 11th and Webster in South Philly. I think it works as an add-on here, to an EP collection which requires some sweetness to balance a general sense of the brackish. As to why this EP took almost ten years to come out; because, as they say, shit happens. Matt and I were going to do more recording in the summer of ’07, but I was preoccupied with poetry, particularly the Dusie chapbook “Kollectiv” and getting my first chapbook Posit ready for publication. Mary and I broke up in September; my first two books, Opera Bufa and Beams, appeared that fall. Quite a year. In the Aughts, they all were.