Thursday, March 26th, 2009...5:35 pm

gerald locklin | a sinatra sequence

Jump to Comments


Sinatra, some stories and the Stones.

Long Beach poet Gerald Locklin’s latest chapbook, his annual collection of jazz poems, is an all-Frank collection, “A Sinatra Sequence,” paean after paean to Old Blue Eyes. By Tim Grobaty, Press Telegram Long Beach Staff Writer. Posted: 03/17/2009 09:53:55 PM PDT

OUR TYPE OF TOWN, LONG BEACH IS: We and Frank Sinatra never got along too well. We know, we know: We’re an idiot; we wouldn’t know a great voice if it slugged us outside a nightclub for taking its picture.

To the list of those who have always adored the Chairman of the Board a whole heap add the Long Beach poet Gerald Locklin, late of USC and long of Cal State Long Beach. Locklin’s latest chapbook, his annual collection of jazz poems, is an all-Frank collection, “A Sinatra Sequence,” paean after paean to Old Blue Eyes and poems spun off from Mr. Lotta Nickname’s finer songs.

The book is published in tandem with Locklin’s annual bookmate Mark Weber’s collection “All of Us and Our Houses.”

In his always warm inscription, Locklin writes, “You’re in here, but you have to find yourself …” and so off we went, forced to read a block of odes to Sinatra just so we can see how we come across in a poem, and it turns out we play the part of ourself as a young copy clerk or at least callow cub reporter from back in the days before Gerry could work a computer.

In a poem based on his experiences writing a review of a Sinatra show at the Terrace Theater for this newspaper – no doubt very favorably – he, writes:

“And I had to draft the review before bed,

With a glass of the real stuff in one hand,

And drive the copy downtown in the morning

So my pal Tim could type it into

The nascent computer system for me.”

Looking back – well, for starters, it’s so far back we can’t see a thing from here – but looking back anyhow, it must have killed us to do that.

You can purchase the book from Zerx Press (

SOUNDS GOOD: Music and words collide, or, more properly, merge nicely in “Alt. Country,” a new and online novel by California Heights author and journalist Alan Rifkin, who earned some high praise for his collection of short stories in his 2003 book “Signal Hill,” much of which, as you might gather from the title, is set in these parts.

His new novel tracks an alternative country singer, Harvey Kooper, who, we are told, runs from near-fame, leads spiritual fasts in the San Fernando Valley (where a bartender calls him “Country Music’s Salinger,” which is a heck of a thing to be), finds Jesus and marries a radio host – all the while being shadowed by a Rolling Stone reporter who sees Kooper’s saga as one for our times.

The story sounds compelling enough, but bringing splendid possibilities to “Alt. Country” is the fact that you can read it online while listening to an original soundtrack of alt.-country songs that go along with the yarn.

Playing songs for the novel are Jerry and Debbie Burgan from the ’60s folk group We Five; Long Beach-based roots-rocker Stanley Wycoff, accompanied by Downey’s (and the Blasters’) Dave Alvin on lead guitar and the late Chris Gaffney on harmony vocals; and singer-songwriter David Stadalnikas of Long Beach’s ever-changing Uninvited Dinner Guests.

You can read Rifkin’s “Alt. Country” in PDF form – and hear how it sounds – at no cost starting Thursday at

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC: Getting back to that Locklin bit about reviewing Sinatra, it reminds us of the time Creem magazine sent former Locklin co-drinker and pal Charles Bukowski to review the Rolling Stones back in the early ’70s. The piece turned into a chapbook called “Jaggernaut,” a copy of which our friends Brophy and Candace Dale sent to us a couple of Christmases back.

Bukowski didn’t like the Stones anywhere near as much as Locklin liked Sinatra, and in his “review” he spends a lot of time doing non-Rolling Stone-concert-attending at the group’s appearance at the Forum. The lure of the adjacent Hollywood Park turned out to be too much for the Pedro bard and his beleaguered date.

So, we disagree with the musical tastes of two of our area’s finest poets. It’s a toss-up as to which writer is better.

We are pretty sure about one thing, though – and go ahead and call it cockiness – but we’d bet Locklin’s review had fewer typing errors than Bukowski’s.

a sinatra sequence

jazz poems 2008 by Gerald Locklin

Dedicated to: Mark Weber and Janet Simon, Henry Denander, Anthony Atherton, The Jazz Bakery (Culver City), California, KKJZ-FM (Long Beach State University), Steamers (Fullerton, California), Nora and Dario Simoes, Marina Sigareva, Joanne France, Josh Nelson.

First edition of 450 copies, February 2009. Cover Art by Mark Weber. Frontispiece photo by Barbara Locklin 13dec08 in the author’s backyard. Copyright 2008 by Barbara Locklin. A Sinatra Sequence Copyright 2008 by Gerald Locklin. All rights in all media reserved to the author. Please request permissions from the author at glocklinATcsulbDOTcom or Gerald Locklin, English Department, CSULB, Long Beach, CA 90840. Please visit as well:

incl. shipment cost world-wide for this ZERX chap book No. 63

Leave a Reply