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Monday, April 26, 2010


the peak, whitehead

The white roof in the picture is Liberty Baptist. The view is from the Joines cemetery by the Whitehead Union Baptist Church up the hill from Pine Swamp Road in Whitehead. I went up there to see Jr's grave the first time. Driving home from town, I passed Liberty, saw old man Wiley's black marble tombstone in the cemetery, remembered I'd not yet been to Jr's grave, not that visiting a grave is terrifically important to me, but it is. I don't make an issue of it. I just visit. When Jr visited a grave, he'd see it, turn around and leave. Just to see it. And that's why I turned around at Cleary Road and went back to the cemetery to see Jr's grave, to see it. I wasn't there but a minute or two, until I started thinking about the corpse in the box in the vault in the ground, fingernails growing, beard growing, hair growing. And I left. Enough of that kind of thinking. I like to think I'm not squeamish, but I can't watch an autopsy. I looked around at the landscape, the cemetery put on a good hill with a view to the sunrise in the east for when the last trumpet sounds. For some reason some people believe the view from a cemetery is good for the corpse. If a corpse could see, all it would see would be absolute black like way back in a cave. Blackness itself. Not a particle of light. But if Jr could see, this picture is in the view. He's seen it before visiting his mother and wife. A great many of his mother's people are in there.

The world has turned green. Green everywhere. Leaves are beginning to open out of the buds, the grass in the meadows vibrant, clear green. The colors at this time of year look like they have light inside them, like in Gauguin paintings in Tahiti. Gauguin was a creep, but he made some beautiful paintings. On the ship back to France, which must have taken months, the crew came to despise him. There was a time they were on the verge of throwing him overboard. That's where I quit reading the biography, because by then I couldn't stand him, found him a loathe some individual in several ways, wished they had thrown him overboard and I put the book away. I didn't want him in my mind any more. But I have to give it to him. At the National Gallery in DC, I was on my way to the Manet room drawn by the dead matador when I passed the doorway to the Gauguin room. The paintings in there glowed with a light inside them. I made a turn and went to look at some spectacularly gorgeous paintings. The light in the colors doesn't come across in photographs and printing in books, the only chance I have to see them which I take for better than not at all.

The day Conway Twitty died I had a conversation with an aunt over the telephone. She asked if I liked him. I said I don't particularly like him, but I appreciate him. She let me have it, making it clear I cannot appreciate somebody I don't like. I continue to think I can. She didn't convince me. I don't particularly like Lawrence Welk, but I appreciate that in his world he is quite different from in my world. He was a good musician or he wouldn't have had the tv show for so many years. So was Liberace. He was good. It's not the kind of music I like, but he was good at what he did, bit like Elvis by the Las Vegas bug of shamelessness.

I stopped by Lucas Pasley's house after the radio show Saturday. Everybody was outside, Lucas and Ibi working on projects, keeping the kids in view as the kids play. Lucas and I talked awhile about his program 2 nights before at the library on musicians of the county, one thing and another. I'd brought some paper along, because I wanted to ask Lenka to draw a picture for me. I was hoping she hadn't discovered stick figures yet. I loved her scribbled portraits, pre stick figures. When everything was a bit settled after the kids' excitement with a visitor, I asked Lenka if she would draw a picture for me. Yes, she would. I asked if she could draw a picture of her daddy playing the banjo. Yes, she could. I handed her the tablet of paper I'd brought and she set about drawing. It was like Ralph Stanley starting a song. He just starts it. Right off I saw she'd learned about stick figures. I was a little bit too late for what I thought I wanted. But what I got is perhaps better than what I wanted.

I wanted an image for a coffee cup I aim to have made by Image Specialists in Sparta a dozen
coffee mugs for the radio show, Backwoods Beat Music Hour, WCOK 1060 AM Sparta, on one side and Lenka's drawing of a stick figure banjo picker sitting in a chair, a smile so big it's a half circle, hair sticking out from his circle head like sun rays emerging from a happy sun. I've been wanting to do these mugs for several years, but couldn't settle on an image for the other side from the text. I didn't want to use anything I drew. I wanted something as fresh and spontaneous as a child's drawing of her daddy when she'd just turned 4. I'll let Lenka's drawing be the show's logo. I was 5 years getting a theme song for the show, which it turned out I had all the way along. Now I have a logo to. I want to credit the drawing to Lenka on the cup. Her figure is about 10" tall. It will be reduced to 2.5 inches. I want to put her name and age with it. One of the cups will be for her, one for me and the rest I'll give away one a week to people listening to the radio show, ten of them in all. It's been years I've been wanting to do this. I want some of my listeners to have a coffee mug from the radio show, maybe a mug they'll like. The image is refreshingly childlike. It has a feeling I could not have given it.

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