This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A bit of a fact-check

Nick Fox, the founder of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam, returned to Flagstaff recently. In his blog "... said the Fox," he posted "The Hourglass Point: Arizona in Three Parts" on Oct. 5, 2015. It's an interesting rewrite of interpersonal history and while acknowledging some of his past, he's still playing some of the silly games he did when he lived in Flagstaff.

In that post, he acknowledges that the slam he started is still running: "I enrolled at Northern Arizona University, moved to Flagstaff, and started a poetry slam in a bar called The Alley. Fifteen years later, that show is still running."

In part II, Nick Fox discussed Christopher Lane, who died in August 2012:

"I could write a great deal about that road. But right now, I’d rather write about Christopher Lane.

"When I started the Flagstaff Slam in 2000, a poet from Dallas who’d recently moved to the area became a regular, and eventually became a member of the first Flagstaff team to compete at the National Poetry Slam in 2001. When I left town in 2002, Christopher helped take over the show, then took it in directions I never dreamed of.

"He founded a group called NORAZ Poets in 2003, and used it to to help facilitate workshops, run shows and, most impressively, to create the Arizona branch of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. He became one of the most important poets and community organizers in the state, performed hundreds of times for people of every age range. He’d been through extraordinary hardship in his life, and had somehow emerged as one of the most generous and thoughtful artists I’ve ever met.

"One day in 2012 I got an email from Brent Heffron. Christopher had died. He lay down one day to take a nap and never woke up. He was only 40 years old."

This isn't entirely accurate. Lane didn't take a nap and not wake up. "On Aug. 19, 2012, at 7:05 a.m., Lane was pronounced dead at his home from benzodiazepine and narcotic intoxication, according to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office."

[Addendum: The poem Autopsy 3944494]

This was more convoluted that Nick Fox makes out. Maybe he didn't know. Maybe he's sugarcoating the issue, but the bottomline is that Lane had been in AA and NA since moving to Sedona, having been on meth for a good portion of his teens and 20s. He moved to Sedona to stay with his sister fearing that if he stayed in Dallas, he would die there.

After being sober for quite some time in Sedona, and having effectively quit attending meeting, he got a job as a sommelier at a Sedona resort. He had been a waiter for more than a decade. In the months (maybe longer, I have no idea) he began drinking a bit with a coworker of his I knew and told mutual friends he felt like he could handle his alcohol -- none of this I knew until after he died.

While at the newspaper, I found his name in a traffic stop for a potential DUI, which struck me as very odd considering I only knew him to be clean and sober, but trusting how reckless and resilient we artists are, just assumed he had briefly fallen off the wagon, was shocked back to sobriety by the traffic stop, and would the be the substance-free straight-edge poet we all knew. I heard he then left the sommelier job and began working at a local health food grocery store. A few times in that last year I would see him walking along State Route 89A as he lived right across the road. I was told by these mutual friends that he would walk from work to the liquor store, then walk home. 

At some point nearing his 40th birthday, Lane went back to visit friends in Dallas. Based solely on information from mutual friends, it appears he may have acquired something from them there that he brought home, which may have lead to his overdose.

"We hadn’t been in touch for a couple of years. Not on purpose. Nothing had happened. I’d just moved into a different life and didn’t see him or talk to him much for a while. Then not at all. We simply lost touch."

This isn't quite accurate. When Nick Fox was still living in Flagstaff in 2001-2022, he decided that my 22-year-old partying and lifestyle needed an intervention, so he drove down to Oak Creek Canyon to convince Lane to join him in the effort. Lane was less than impressed with the proposal, and said that after all his experience in the drug scene in his 20s that my binge drinking was nowhere near the troubles his had encountered. 

Lane told me after the fact that the issue was Nick Fox, being the son of an alcoholic he could not save, was doing whatever he could to save others. Lane said he more or less laughed at the idea, or at least told me that's more or less whet he said to Nick Fox: Stop trying to save people who don't need saving and deal with actual loss in your actual life. Again, this is hearsay, but it what's Lane said to me at the time.

After Nick Fox left the area and Lane and I developed our friendship, Nick Fox's sanctimoniousness kind of became a butt of jokes between us. At poetry afterparties he'd joke that if I had one to two many beers or whiskey's that "Nick Fox will hear you." Granted, I have no idea what their personal relationship or correspondence was, but considering all the gossip Lane and I did about poets in the scene, it's suprising how little and how rarely Nick Fox came up except maybe when we'd bump into him at the National Poetry Slam.

Nick Fox continues: "When I first met Christopher, he was living in a trailer on a ridge in Oak Creek Canyon, right above a general store that sold jewelry and served impossibly good sandwiches. It was a peaceful place, both secluded and close enough to the main highway to take his motorcycle out on long rides across the state. We used to sit under the awning of his trailer and talk about writing. I was always blown away by his sensitivity, his incredible ability to empathize. He became a mentor to a lot of people in the poetry scene almost from the beginning, and it came as no surprise to me when I heard about the world-shaping work he was doing in the time after I left the state."

Photo by Nick Fox

"Christopher lived on the ridge just behind this store.

"I stopped at the old general store and walked around. I kept looking up that ridge where Christopher had his home. I’ve spent most of my life trying to learn how to write, to share what I’ve picked up, to have some small impact on the people around me. I want people to know about Christopher Lane, and I hope that talking about him and writing about his life is a small way of continuing what he did. It’s astonishing what this guy put together in Arizona in less than a decade. I’d like to have even a share of the impact on the people around me that Christopher had on me and everyone he touched. Maybe I can do that. I hope so."

Part III relates to Flagstaff. It reads in part: "The Flagstaff Slam, after years of moving around, is back in the same location it started in. The location houses a completely different business in a completely redesigned room, but it was kind of beautiful for me to come back and see the show running in the same spot as it was in my early twenties. Deep down, I sort of hoped I’d see some of those old faces at the show. Brent [Heffron]. Logan [Phillips]. Dom [Flemons]. Julie [?]. Frank [? Not O'Brian, he didn't move to Flagstaff until 2009]. Josh [Fleming]. Suzy [la Follette]. Christopher Lane. But it was a brand new, very young crowd, and it all felt very far away."

This part is hilarious because I was there that night and I made eye contact with him. It was clear he saw me because he looked at me long enough to realized he was looking at me, then did what he could to pretend to ignore me. The he took this photo, which he posted:

(really bad) photo by Nick Fox

He continues: "There was no one I knew there, and no one who knew me. Maybe that’s how it should be at this point. I’m thrilled the show is still running, but it would be foolish to say I have any real connection to it now. I started something 15 years ago, but it has taken dozens, maybe hundreds of people to keep it running this long. The show is theirs. It belongs to the city."

Good lord, Nick, who's that fedoraed man on the right?

No, to be clear, there's no love lost between Nick Fox and me. While he got me into slam and convinced me to leave the Phoenix area and join the scene in Flagstaff to help him run the FlagSlam and made me the slammaster, he also did some abosolutely shitting manipulative things to turn my poets against me. He fucked with my life and my reputation beyond which I am able to forgive, simply because he has not and will not accept the fact he did anything wrong.

Am I bitter? Yes. Is Nick Fox an ass? Yes.

So yes, Nick, the show is still running in spite of your efforts to make it about you. It survived you and your absence brilliantly. It feels far away because it should FlagSlam is beyond us both, but it is simply better without you. It is my home and safe harbor, where I asked the audience to turn my girlfriend into my wife, and where I have brought my newborn children to hear their first spoken word. You can live whatever fiction you want and wax poetic about good days gone, but they're gone because you behave the way you and mistreat the trust of those who are your betters.

In summary this: Around 2010, some FlagSlam poets came to my Sedona Poetry Slam with a collection of poetry they found at a thrift store recorded by FlagSlam poets. It was labeled "The House That Fox Built." And they were thrilled that poets from 2002 had created a CD dedicated not to some passerby with the surname Fox, but me. I have no reason to correct them. You may have poured the foundation, but I built the house and kept it standing these last 15 years.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On the 600th aniversary of the Battle of Agincourt

St Crispin's Day Speech from William Shakespeare's "Henry V, Act IV Scene iii 18–67"
at the Battle of Agincourt, on St. Crispin's Day, Oct. 25, 1415

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work today!

KING HENRY V. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
"Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, 25th October 1415,"
painted by Sir John Gilbert 1884
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin's day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

During the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, Henry V, the young king of England, leads his forces to victory at the Battle of Agincourt in northern France.
Two months before, Henry had crossed the English Channel with 11,000 men and laid siege to Harfleur in Normandy. After five weeks the town surrendered, but Henry lost half his men to disease and battle casualties. He decided to march his army northeast to Calais, where he would meet the English fleet and return to England. At Agincourt, however, a vast French army of 20,000 men stood in his path, greatly outnumbering the exhausted English archers, knights, and men-at-arms.
The battlefield lay on 1,000 yards of open ground between two woods, which prevented large-scale maneuvers and thus worked to Henry’s advantage. At 11 a.m. on October 25, the battle commenced. The English stood their ground as French knights, weighed down by their heavy armor, began a slow advance across the muddy battlefield. The French were met by a furious bombardment of artillery from the English archers, who wielded innovative longbows with a range of 250 yards. French cavalrymen tried and failed to overwhelm the English positions, but the archers were protected by a line of pointed stakes. As more and more French knights made their way onto the crowded battlefield, their mobility decreased further, and some lacked even the room to raise their arms and strike a blow. At this point, Henry ordered his lightly equipped archers to rush forward with swords and axes, and the unencumbered Englishmen massacred the French.
Almost 6,000 Frenchmen lost their lives during the Battle of Agincourt, while English deaths amounted to just over 400. With odds greater than three to one, Henry had won one of the great victories of military history. After further conquests in France, Henry V was recognized in 1420 as heir to the French throne and the regent of France. He was at the height of his powers but died just two years later of camp fever near Paris.

The Kingdom of France
French casualties range from 7,000 to 10,000 (mostly killed) and about 1,500 noble prisoners. French notable casualties:

Leading officers:
Charles I d'Albret's arms
  •     Charles I d'Albret, Count of Dreux, the Constable of France
  •     Jacques de Châtillon, Lord of Dampierre, the Admiral of France
  •     David de Rambures, the Grand Master of Crossbowmen
  •     Guichard Dauphin, Master of the Royal Household

Three dukes:
  •     Antoine of Burgundy, Duke of Brabant and Limburg, and consort Duke of Luxembourg (a brother of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy)
  •     John I, Duke of Alençon-Perche, the second-in-command after d'Albret.
  •     Edward III, Duke of Bar (along with his brother and nephew)

Seven counts (eight with d'Albret):
  •     Philip of Burgundy, Count of Nevers and Rethel (another brother of John the Fearless)
  •     Frederick of Lorraine, Count of Vaudémont (brother of Charles II, Duke of Lorraine)
  •     Robert of Bar, Count of Marle and Soissons (nephew of Edward III, Duke of Bar).
  •     John VI, Count of Roucy
  •     Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny and Saint-Pol (called "Count of Fauqemberg" in the chronicles)
  •     Edward II, Count of Grandpré
  •     Henry II, Count of Blâmont

Some 90 bannerets and others, including:
  •     Jean de Montaigu, Archbishop of Sens
  •     John of Bar, Lord of Puisaye (brother of Edward III of Bar)
  •     Jean I de Croÿ, Lord of Croÿ-d'Araines and two of his sons, John and Archambaud
  •     Jean de Béthune, Lord of Marueil
  •     Gallois de Fougières, Provost Marshal, commemorated as the first French gendarme to lose his life in battle.

Among the circa 1,500 prisoners taken by the English, were the following French notables:
  •     Jean Le Maingre ("Boucicaut"), the Marshal of France.
  •     Charles of Artois (Count of Eu), the French Lieutenant of Normandy and Guyenne.
  •     John of Bourbon (Duke of Bourbon-Auvergne-Forez), probably the greatest lord of southern France
  •     Charles of Orleans (Duke of Orleans-Blois-Valois), a great lord of central France, titular head of the "Armagnac" party. (his brother, John of Orleans (Count of Angoulême-Périgord), another great lord, had been in English captivity since 1412).
  •     Louis de Bourbon (Count of Vendôme)
  •     Arthur de Richemont, brother of John VI, Duke of Brittany, step-brother of Henry V (he was the son of Joan of Navarre, dowager-queen of England).

The Kingdom of England

King Henry V's arms
At least 112 dead, unknown wounded. English notable casualties:
  •     Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York
  •     Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk
  •     Dafydd Gam (Davy Gam) Welsh hero who reputedly saved Henry V's life at Agincourt
  •     Jan I van Brederode

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy

This image, captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as M31.

This is a cropped version of the full image and has 1.5 billion pixels. You would need more than 600 HD television screens to display the whole image.

It is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40,000 light-years.

This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.

NASAESA, J. Dalcanton (University of Washington, USA), B. F. Williams (University of Washington, USA), L. C. Johnson (University of Washington, USA), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler.

Music is 'Koda - The Last Stand' from Silk Music...
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