March 2010

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I’d love to take total credit for the Bank of America’s decision to get rid of overdraft fees for purchases on a debit card. Revolutionary prose can set the heart of corporate America quaking. Thank you, Tom Paine!

Of course, it was just good timing. My piece went live on January 18th, and they made their announcement on March 9th. I sent their CEO/President, Brian Moynihan, a copy of the text on February 2nd, and their Customer Advocate, Jorge Pinedo, sent me a longish letter dated February 17th. They did refund the overdraft fees, which was nice. I also got a phone call which I never returned (purely because I was too busy — I’ve since lost the number).

No mention was made in the in the letter of the forthcoming policy change. The only reference to my text (which was more concerned with the website and its presentation of information) was noting that a bank website cannot keep track of checks written on paper. I mentioned that in the text, of course — I don’t expect a computer, even one with a camera above the screen, to be quite so panoptic. He did write that the Ecommerce Channel division were going to review the text — I wonder!

Anyway, I’m working on a new, shorter version of the document that only addresses the website and not issues with credit and debit. As it turns out, the Wells Fargo site is even less informative than the Bank of America site, but I haven’t tested matters such as how holds and other forms of pending debits are represented.

In case you missed it the first time…

Press Release

Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation provides a detailed, easy-to-read critical evaluation of Bank of America Online Banking. It argues that the great portion of the bank’s revenue accrued through overdraft fees is often the result of the deceptive and confusing nature of the online banking site.

The average citizen has no choice but to rely on debit and credit cards for many transactions, which are impossible to track on paper due to the ubiquity of virtual transactions. The BoA online banking center, despite its fluffy tutorials and FAQs, does not make this task easier, but rather conceals the increasingly complex nature of virtual transactions.

This analysis, while informal, integrates the new fields of software studies and data visualization with perennial complaints about the abuses of the banking industry. It argues for a complete transformation in how online (and other forms of virtual) banking is conducted rather than the cosmetic policy changes of recent years.


1. “Perhaps I am not good enough”—the new guilt paradigm
2. A response to bad press—the Clarity Statement
3. The InfoCenter—style without substance
4. The search function within the banking center—formless information
5. Selective education—no “cascading fees” in the search results?
6. Online bill pay—where are the pending checks?
7. Divide and confuse—related information is spread across several pages
8. Overdraft fees—the criminalization of the U.S. citizen
9. “Reviews” of online banking sites—extensions of public relations
10. Conclusions

Appendix I: Screen Captures from Bank of America websites

Appendix II: “The Card Game: Overspending on Debit Cards Is a Boon for Banks”

Appendix III: “5 Sneaky Overdraft Traps”

Appendix IV: Escalating a Complaint and the Executive Email Carpet Bomb

Appendix V: Final Chat Session with Bank of America Customer Service


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More L.A. Poetry stuff…

Big City Forum invites you to a conversation with poets, writers, and seers about literal vs metaphoric space, inscape/landscape, the visible/invisble world,liminality — “betwixt and between”– & proximity in motion…

Saturday, March 20th, 2010
4 – 6 pm

Honor Fraser Gallery
2622 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 837-0191

Mathew Timmons
Elena Karyn Byrne
Vanessa Place
Teresa Carmody
Brendan Constantine

Mathew Timmons is a writer, curator and critic in Los Angeles. He is the General Director of General Projects at various locations including Outpost for Contemporary Art and The Ups & Downs, an installation series, at workspace. He also co-edits/curates Insert Press (w/ Stan Apps), LA-Lit (w/ Stephanie Rioux), Late Night Snack (w/ Harold Abramowitz) and he is the Los Angeles editor of Joyland. A chapbook, Lip Service is recently out from Slack Buddha Press. His first full length book, The New Poetics (Les Figues Press), his micro-book collaboration with Marcus Civin, a particular vocabulary (P S Books), and a chapbook, Lip Music (By the Skin of Me Teeth), are forthcoming. His work may be found in various journals, including: P-Queue, Holy Beep!, Flim Forum, The Physical Poets, NōD, PRECIPICe, Or, Moonlit, aslongasittakes, eohippus labs, Area Sneaks, Artweek and The Encyclopedia Project.

Elena Karina Byrne. Former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America, Elena Karina Byrne, is a collage artist, teacher, editor, Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club. Her publications include, 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses, Best American Poetry 2005, The Yale Review, The Paris Review, APR, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Volt, TriQuarterly, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly , Barrow Street, Volt and Verse daily. Books include: The Flammable Bird , (Zoo Press /Tupelo Press 2002); MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008) and the forthcoming Burnt Violin (2011), and a collection of essays entitled, Beautiful Insignificance.

Vanessa Place is a writer, a lawyer, and co-director of Les Figues Press. She is author of Dies: A Sentence (Les Figues Press, 2006), La Medusa (Fiction Collective 2, 2008), and Notes on Conceptualisms, co-authored with Robert Fitterman (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009). Her nonfiction book, The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality and Law is forthcoming from Other Press/Random House. Information As Material will be publishing her trilogy: Statement of Facts, Statement of the Case, and Argument. Statement of Facts will also be published in France by éditions è®e, as Exposé des Faits.

Teresa Carmody is the author of Requiem (Les Figues, 2005), Eye Hole Adore (PS Books, 2008), and the chapbook Your Spiritual Suit of Armor by Katherine Anne (Woodland Editions, 2009). Other work has appeared in such publications as Bombay Gin, Fold Appropriate Text, American Book Review, emohippus greeting cards 1-3, and Drunken Boat. An organizer of the original Ladyfest and co-organizer of Feminaissance, Carmody is co-director of Les Figues Press and co-curator of the Mommy, Mommy! Reading Series in Los Angeles.

Brendan Constantine is an ardent supporter of Southern California’s poetry communities and one of its most recognized poets. He has served these communities as a teacher of poetry in local schools and colleges for the last fifteen years. In addition to this, he has lead similar classes in hospitals and shelters for the homeless. In 2002 Mr. Constantine was nominated for Poet Laureate of the state.

His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, The Los Angeles Review, The Cortland Review, RUNES, and LA Times Bestseller The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. New work can be found in the Spring editions of Ninth Letter and The Boxcar Poetry Review, as well as the anthology Bright Wings, forthcoming from Columbia University Press and edited by Billy Collins. His collection, Letters To Guns, was released in February 2009 from Red Hen Press.

Mr. Constantine is currently poet in residence at the Windward School in West Los Angeles and the Idyllwild Arts Summer Youth Writing Program in Idyllwild, California.    Send article as PDF   

My weird little update on the Los Angeles poetry scene is in this new issue of Lungfull! This launch, of course, is in New York.


The time has come. Lungfull! 18 will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world in a carnival of never-before-seen acts of…poetry. &c.

LUNGFULL! 18 RELEASE PARTY & READING EXTRAVAGANZA an all-caps evening of excitement

6:30pm Saturday 4/24
Zinc Bar 82 W 3rd NYC
Between Sullivan & Thompson
Subway ACEBDQF to West 4th RW to 8th or Prince

Join us for an evening of poetry. Poetry. & poetry.

HEAR marvelous poems read by marvelous poets!
WITNESS astounding water-defying demonstrations of Lungfull!ism!
BID on indescribable items of vast allure & untellable value!
PURCHASE a brand-new copy of Lungfull! Magazine!
TAKE HOME fabulous volumes of poetry, rough drafts, art, world news reports, cranky letters, & MORE!

$5-15 sliding scale fund raiser. $20 gets you in, plus a copy of the magazine. A pair of sparkly pants & fiery hoops will earn you our unending awe.

Want to read? RSVP & we’ll secure you a spot. Plan on 1-2 poems or 2-3 minutes. Many people will be reading—prepare to be brief & awesome.

Want to contribute a fantastic something to the auction? RSVP & the wondrous TRACEY will contact you with details.

Want to see your friends there? More importantly: want to help Lungfull!
make budget for the year? It’s up to YOU to spread the word! Paper the city with wheat paste. Make your mark on Facebook. Or do it the old-fashioned way: email!

Still reading & eager for more? Visit the death-defying
You won’t be sorry. Or perhaps you will.

Questions? Contact us at

Hoping to see you there in your spangly best, LUNGFULL!    Send article as PDF   

The Poetic Research Bureau presents…


Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 4:00pm

@ The Poetic Research Bureau
3706 San Fernando Rd.
Glendale, CA 91206

Doors open at 4:00pm
Reading starts at 4:30pm

$5 donation requested

ROD SMITH is author ofDeed (University of Iowa Press), Music or Honesty (Roof ), The Good House (Spectacular Books), Protective Immediacy (Roof), In Memory of My Theories (O Books), and a CD of his readings, Fear the Sky(Narrow House Recordings). He is editor/publisher of Edge Books and is also editing, with Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris, The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley (University of California). Smith is a Visiting Professor in Poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for the Spring 2010 semester.

MEL NICHOLS is author of Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon(National Poetry Series finalist), Bicycle Day (Slack Buddha), The Beginning of Beauty, Part 1: hottest new ringtones, mnichol6 (Edge), and Day Poems (Edge). Other recent work can be found in Poetry, New Ohio Review, and The Brooklyn Rail. She teaches at George Mason University

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