THE MULLET

by Mark Larson, Barney Hoskyns

(Bloomsbury) $14.95Thank GOD, tho' my MOTHER insisted I oughta, "let the back grow out 'n' get a body wave," I never did, thereby avoidin' ever havin' a Mullet, a "short long" ...'cause tha's the cut -- short in the front, long in the back.

Like, not only is this "style" U-G-L-Y, for me, the Mullet is for SQUARES, an easily recognizable "idiot flag," like my policy of "no tolerance for jackasses in big pants." Hmmm, maybe the style was good for somethin'!

Right, the book... it's a swift readin', coffee-table type, a VERY silly historical survey, with some killer 'n' alotta filler. Um, the only problem I got is that the credit for the recent reintroduction ('70s) of the Mullet is said to be on accounta David Bowie's "Ziggy" mode. Actually the reintroduction probably stems from the U.K., circa '66, when Mods started droppin' tabs 'n' allowed their bumped French crew cuts (like Rod Stewart's action) to get way overgrown. Whatever... for those in fer hearty larfin', there's plenty o' embarrassin' photos o' the rich 'n' dumbassed... the "funniest" growin' on punk's god head Lou Reed, who's sportin' the, as captioned, "Velvet Undergrowth." Brilliantly, in an instant the author lowers the no-brow stylin' of punk's most esteemed to a humblin', "look, he IS just another simple-minded be-mulleted dork." Speakin' o' such, Silly Ray Cyrus is well-praised here... achey breaky indeed, that freak's hair don't never STOP bein' funny! MIKE NIPPER

NIGHT BATTLE

by William Logan

(Penguin) $12William Logan's new book of poems, Night Battle, will probably sell better than any other volume in the Penguin Poets series (excluding the tired old Beats) simply because of its cover. This edition is almost as interesting to look at as it is to read, showing an orange-and-black Japanese lacquered panel from the late 1700s that depicts sailing ships beneath a cover of clouds and pinprick stars. The illustration is appropriate to the poems themselves: sharp, elegant, and approaching the natural and manmade worlds as lenses for viewing mortality and history.

I came upon Logan's first volume in a used bookstore recently (Sad-Faced Men, David R. Godine, Publisher, 1982) and was taken by the clarity and seriousness of the poems. In one, Logan watches two praying mantises mating "in the polluted sunsets/Rising from Dulles." Throughout the chapbook are scenes in which Logan draws metaphors of considerable power and scope from events that could be seen from a window overlooking a suburban backyard. This puts him way ahead of most contemporary poets, from whom one usually just gets the backyard (or worse, farm). So when I realized that the gorgeous new volume by some no-name (read: living poet) I'd seen around was by the same guy, I picked it up. And again, Logan did not fail to engage.

Logan is a serious poet, very different from a dipshit like Michael McClure (also in the Penguin Series) who only takes himself seriously. These poems draw the reader in immediately, beginning with lines like "The plains of Iowa dreamed, or seemed to dream,/the prairie dogs erect above their dens," or in "For A Woman In United Germany": "What do the birds believe in, in Stuttgart?"

American poets have a terrible tendency to wax historic on visits to countries where they don't speak the language or understand the culture. Maybe I have a particular beef with poets romanticizing Europe because I grew up there, wasn't very interested then, and am still not. Luckily Logan realizes he's not that far from home and doesn't get all touristy on us, or else he knows he's a tourist and dives right in: "By the wrong streets, in the wrong quarter,/street of electrical gizmos, street of ugly lamps," he begins, on a search for a particular tower in Genoa. GRANT COGSWELL


LOST AND FOUND

THE COCKROACH PAPERS

by Richard Schweid

(Four Walls Eight Windows)I have lived with cockroach infestation and have thus acted from the soul's dark side: roaches in the sink ignite an unflinching hatred and a teeth-clenching, immediate demand for genocide. Richard Schweid proposes that this is a reluctant jealousy from the nether regions of an unconscious connected to truths of the earth's existence. Roaches predate humans by more than 300 million years (150 million before the dinosaurs), and, without evolving much in form or character, will survive us long after our pudgy, conscious species is wiped out at the end of the week. The cockroach, passively, reigns supreme.

Undertitled "A Compendium of History and Lore," Schweid delights in detailing the repulsive being's highly efficient though morally appalling stature. Yes, they eat their young and their excrement, can scurry 50 body lengths per minute (about 200 mph) across your floor, and no, they will not hesitate to try to climb in your ear or around your mouth in search of protein residue.

To offer us hope, he does provide finely rendered portraits of those noble men and women professionally invested in roach eradication, and also profiles the even more bizarre individuals who devote their intellectual lives to studying the roach. I suspect the sympathies of the intellectuals, however; who knows whose side they're on? That includes Schweid, for that matter: I just can't trust someone who writes with such levity the admission that those nasty little goddam shits are superior to all of the earth's other inhabitants. I say, nuke 'em. (Yes, the cockroach survives radiation levels fatal to humans). BRIAN GOEDDE

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