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Sunday, June 30, 2013

PAULA DEEN EASY TARGET




 
Hearing now about a retired general being "targeted." I heard the news announcer say the general, whose name I don't remember and don't care enough to look up, has been made cognizant that he is now targeted. When I heard, "target," it rang the bell for the word of the day. Targeting is what our government is doing to American citizens now. The media targets people, goes after them in a character assassination way until they are defeated. Republicans have been targeting throughout my lifetime. When one is destroyed, then somebody else gets targeted. Paula Deen was targeted and is being destroyed over an issue of freedom of speech, not racism. Her freedom of speech has been radically denied. She used a key word. The only thing I can make of this media feeding frenzy over the word nigger is we have no freedom of speech anymore. I could date this Paula Deen character assassination as the final announcement that freedom of speech no longer applies in America. We've always known that. I knew it in my teen years back in the Fifties. So did everybody I knew. We didn't know it articulately or politically. It was just in the air understood. Then, communism was the big threat to national security. Next it was terrorism and now it's the word nigger. Any kind of expressed sympathy with Russia was automatically suspect in the Fifties and Sixties. Progressive magazines were always under threat from the right. Now we have a long list of key words computer programs are set to find in any given text. The news about surveillance of the American people has been news all my life.



I'm sensing that I see the beginnings of a backlash. Women of the South Unite! Stand Up With Paula. It is the South that is being targeted in this offense as well as women. Paula Deen is a name and a face. A target. I saw that a publisher of her cookbook is withdrawing it. I saw that amazon is selling her new cookbook like crazy now. Good. I want to see Paula Deen come out of this better than she went into it. The prayers of the women of the South will make a difference. The only thing I have to say to Yankee media is, Leave the South alone; you don't understand anything about the South, don't intend to and cannot be taught. That's like telling a republican to leave off the obsession with debunking science. The media people are laughing at her and having a great time because she breaks down so well on camera and she doesn't really mean it, all that shit they do to targets. I call them the evil ones. Paula Deen is a charming Southern woman. It doesn't mean she has no access to an inner hard core business woman who has had to teach herself how to stand up to a man's face and straighten him out. She's a Southern woman. She's on trial, too, for not conforming to the Yankee code, Yankee political correctness. They'll have a good time with Paula, bashing the South, the Confederacy, women, freedom of speech. They'll probably bring abortion and creationism into the mix before the momentum has exhausted itself and the other story this one is covering up as a smokescreen is settled or forgotten.



One way I can see a measure of change in retrospect is to remember the quotation from CIA director, Wm Casey, Reagan appointee, 1981, "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American people believe is false." Was this not a statement of purpose? And here we are. Corporate media reports what they're told from the top down. Editorials are what they're told to be from the top down. Like tv wrestling. Censored on the inside. No need for government censorship. Our media has no connection to the people of the United States of America because they've all turned into corporate propaganda organs, like television networks. In 1981 when this remark was made by Casey, we knew something dark was up with the Reagan Junta. But it didn't start there. Nixon created a name for himself, Tricky Dick, that simply identified him a republican. He was part of Joe McCarthy's mob with Roy Cohn in the early 1950s, commie hunters, character assassins. The republicans were then as they are today. I'm glad to be able in this time to report the karma of these targeting assassins of the Fifties. Joe McCarthy drank himself to death. Roy Cohn died of AIDS. Nixon went out in historical shame.

photo by ty butler


In the 1950s people were targeted for character assassination by calling them communists. Today Paula Deen is a targeted drone strike out of the blue for exercising freedom of speech in America. Thirty-two years after the statement of purpose by Director Casey, Paula Deen has had her right to freedom of speech excessively violated, tragically violated, herself reviled as a racist, OMG, held for a pariah on all the networks, falsely charged on all counts. I say falsely, because it all comes under freedom of speech. For the world to see, a target. At the Old Boys Club they're raising their drinks to a toast. This is why the rest of the world has come to see Americans insane. I can find no convincing argument to counter it. We've reached the place that everything coming to us through the corporate media is false. This is what characterizes us as Americans in today's international world. A good time to stay at home, get a blankie, crawl under it and go to sleep. What can I do when I wake up? Read Andre Gide, then watch the video of My Dinner With Andre and have some good Ethiopian coffee. That's as good a way as I can think of to start a day.


 
 
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

SCOTT FREEMAN, EDWIN LACY AND WILLARD GAYHEART

scott freeman
 
The Fiddle & Plow show in Woodlawn featured the Siamese Cousins. They are Scott Freeman, mandolin and fiddle, Edwin Lacy, banjo, and Willard Gayheart, guitar. Scott and Edwin call themselves the Siamese Cousins, joined at the fret. The Siamese Cousins is what they called themselves on their Mountain Roads recording, 2 Chairs No Waiting. Willard is on the cover picture with them, and plays guitar on some of the songs. These three are the core of the music at Woodlawn on Friday nights. Scott and Willard open every week with two songs. They then turn it over to the guest band or duet or individual. They play with some of the people who play there. When Dori is featured, Scott and Willard, and sometimes Edwin make music with her. When bluegrass banjo artist Butch Robins is the guest, Scott and Willard accompany him. Scott and Willard are ideal accompanists. They support musically whoever they're making music with. They do not upstage them, out-play them, none of that. Scott, Willard and Edwin are respectful of each other musically, as in conversation. In conversation, they talk about whatever subject at length, neither one talking over the other. They ride the flow of the music together. This is part of what makes them such excellent musicians. No one of them outshines the others, yet they're all so good they can play all out showing their stuff, keeping up with each other like race cars going side by side around a curve, three-wide, and they make it. Whiskey Before Breakfast.
 
edwin lacy
 
I've got bad in that their music satisfies me so much that I can't think of any other music that satisfies me as much. Scott and Willard's band, Alternate Roots, satisfied my musical ear completely. So does their band Skeeter & the Skidmarks. They are two very different bands, though both have Scott and Willard's sound. Their sound is a fusion of Scott's sound and Willard's. By their sound, I mean the way they approach a tune, their flow together that blends their individual sounds like the natures of the two parents become the nature of their child. They sing duet well together, vocally and with their strings. When Edwin is with them, it's a blend of the three, the sound of Skeeter & the Skidmarks, minus Sandy. Skeeter is the sound of these four people. No one of them is replaceable for the Skeeter sound. When it's Steve Lewis's banjo, it's the Alternate Roots sound. Driving to the show, I took the Parkway, was cruising along thinking about my love for the band, Alternate Roots. I think I saw them 14 times, the last show at the Carter Fold, my only time there. It takes a lot for me to drive 3.5 hours, one way, to hear some music. It was a beautiful night with my friend Jean, who loved the band as much as I did. I recall standing outside with Jean during intermission smoking cigarettes, talking with other people outside smoking. In front of me was the night silhouette of the Clinch Mountains under a half moon. The Clinch Mountains of the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers.
 
willard gayheart
 
During second half of the show, the man sitting in front of me had moved his chair back a ways. I tend to lean forward when listening to music or to someone talking. It's unconscious. I just notice I do it. I also tend to sing along muttering under my breath. I know the words to all Willard's songs, Ern and Zorie's Sneakin Bitin Dog, My Henderson Guitar, A Turn Toward The Light. I've heard them so many times they've become a part of who I am. Like in my teenage years when I knew the words to all Little Richard's and Chuck Berry's songs listened to on 45rpm. Later, I knew the words to Rolling Stones songs and Bob Dylan songs from playing them so much. Then it was Patti Smith lyrics I sang along to, and Nina Hagen, the Cars, Jane's Addiction and Mazzy Star. Then I discovered mountain music and loved it so much I dove in head first. Mountain music is the only music I have ever heard that can make tears run down my face from the beauty of it. At one Ralph Stanley concert at Fairview Ruritan, tears ran down my face the entire show. Ralph Stanley's artistry is that his singing is not just from the heart, it is his heart singing. He is the voice of these mountains. I won't make such a big fuss over Willard, but he has the soul of the mountains flowing through him, as do Scott and Edwin. To my understanding of mountain music, they are playing in the tradition, playing their own sound that in some cases is new to the tradition, advancing the tradition.
 

  

roye
 
A few times I caught myself singing along out loud not many inches from the back of the man's head in front of me. He must have hated it. He probably heard me chuckling at myself, too, for being so unconscious. Above, is Roye, Edwin Lacy's wife. That's not a foot-long cigarette sticking out from her lips. It is a line on the wall behind her. This isn't a Forties movie. Again, my unconsciousness failed to notice it while snapping the picture. I didn't want her knowing the camera was taking the picture, so I adjusted the monitor screen upward, put camera on my leg to keep it still, aiming not to catch her attention with the camera, holding it like it was resting on my lap, and got some nice pictures of her profile without her noticing. I was wanting to get her face hearing the music unselfconsciously. Good people. The kind of people I'm honored to be among. Driving home I was thinking of how honored I feel as a member of the Whitehead community. I feel the same degree of honored to have what has turned out to be ten years of friendship with Scott and Willard and their families, eventually Edwin, and now Roye. The five of us went to supper at El Torito in Galax. Edwin bought for everybody with the money he made at the show, and I fell in love with the waitress. These are honorable people, and that's what I love about them. They show me it is very simple to be a true human being. This is part of my learning from mountain people. Many of them, mountain people I have known, a small pie slice, have taught me that it is easy to be a true human being, the simplest way to live.
 
 
across the road from willard's front porch gallery
 

 
 

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

PAULA DEEN AINT SO BAD



I think of the Eastern European countries that lived under Soviet rule for half a century when I see the step-by-step transition the Reagan Revolution is taking us through to police state, which is here now. It's even out in the open. Our American freedoms are being shut down, systematically, one at a time, by republican legislation and the republican supreme court. I think of Latvia and Estonia, peaceful countries that fell under the Soviet occupation unto cultural depression. I see that cultural depression occurring in USA as police state moves in, dismantling democracy with a popular zeal. Police state is not rule by intelligence. American white men have proven over the last half century that white men are not intelligent rulers. Neither are any other kind of men. It is time for women to come forward. Though when they do, they get shut down by the white man Old Boy Network. Paula Deen is now experiencing the Martha Stewart treatment and the Loraine Helmsley treatment, what happens in America when a woman gets a little too much money (power). It's time to shut her down. Oprah was not a problem. She was black. No admittance to the Old Boy Network no matter how much money she has. Paula Deen's misfortune is being a hyper successful white woman in America.



I've been seeing articles about her use of the word nigger. I've seen an interview with a black man who has known her well for many years. He told about black people who have worked for her for a long time with responsible positions, regarded with respect and friendship. It's like the time Jimmy the Greek used the enword and was put off the air almost immediately. They wanted rid of him. He had a little bit too much of a working class air about him. He wasn't bland enough. A few days ago I saw a clip from a Bill Maher show where a woman Maher identified as Southern, evidently a liberal journalist, made the remark that anyone who is a racist is evil. I've been seeing/hearing this over and over. Paula Deen said nigger; therefore, she's evil. I have a feeling calling somebody evil for use of a word that has fallen out of media favor is an act, itself, of evil. This woman so proud of identifying herself liberal made me question liberal. The first quarter century of the Reagan Revolution made liberal a word that made liberals shy of owning up to. Then it became a word to be proud of, a reaction. Now that it's an identity to be proud of, the ridiculous surfaces.



If having even the remotest racist thought is evil, then everybody on earth is evil. Back to the Christian square one; we're born in sin, born bad to be made good by beatings and beratings. The Reagan Revolution is about racism. Taking money away from "programs" and benefits to help black people survive in the most racist nation on earth is the character of the Reagan model the republicans of today parrot. He and the Reagan white house staff called MLK, Martin Lucifer Coon. The Supremes have now identified themselves as the Roberts KKKourt racists, which we already knew. We have an evil supreme court. Duh. Don't think any of our white congressmen or senators or their staffs give a shit about African Americans. They represent the racist rich. They pretend for the show, looks bad, and when it comes to legislation, they're racists. The republican party became the racist party in 1954, when the democrat party turned from exclusion to inclusion. The democrat racists of the South turned into republicans overnight. Before, democrat was the racist party. Now that the South is solid republican, it does not mean all Southerners are racist. Most of the people I know are not. Many I know are. One of my racist friends at age 30 is still friends with his black friends he knew all the way through school. He has another black friend he knew as his dad's friend growing up. And I'm not talking step-n-fetch-it friends. I mean equal others. Yet, as a good ol' Southern boy, he don't like niggers. I don't even try to figure it out.



My friend Swami Yogeshananda, who is in his 90s now, living in a Hindu monastery in the southern California mountains, said years ago in conversation that Southerners like the individual, not the race. He said in the North they like the race, not the individual. Whether or not that is a flawless rule of thumb isn't why I'm bringing it up. What I'm getting at is my racist friend, Southern Appalachian bred-and-buttered, likes the individuals he knows, but not the race, an idea. Racism is totally an idea. Race, itself, is totally a learned idea. Of course, how it acts out is another thing. My friend Carole told me of the time she offered a book she'd just finished, a biography of Sidney Poitier, to an elderly woman friend who couldn't even touch the book when she saw the black face on the cover. Didn't want to hear about it, nothing. Carole is every bit as Southern as her friend and has no racism in her. It had never entered her mind the other woman could be so locked down. Many are. Racism is not strictly a white issue. There was a time I worked for a year with a black woman from Baltimore. The racism in her was off-putting for the racism itself, not that I cared she looked down on me for being a cracker. The white people look down on me, too, for not having money, position or status, and especially for being that way by will.



The Paula Deen case brings to mind Patti Smith. If she had a tv show, was making lots and lots of money with a network contract, and somebody pointed out that back in the late 70s she recorded a song that she wrote, Rock n Roll Nigger. "Baby, baby, baby, I'm a rock n roll nigger! Outside of society---that's where I wanna be! Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger!" She'd be off the air and a scandal from hell. The queen of punk said the enword! OMG. But then, there's the saving grace of punk: punk doesn't give a shit. Same with rap. The comedy of this time in history is that the enword is even more unacceptable in the white middle class than fuck, what used to be the efword. And I'm talking about the South. You can say fuck all you want, except in church and coffee shops. In the working class, the enword and the efword are used at will, primarily in reaction to the middle class, the management class, the bosses, enforcers of political correctness, including not smoking. They're as bad as preachers' wives in the old ways. The ruling class uses the enword freely. They're racists and don't give a shit who knows it.  Hence: the republican party is systematically dismantling democracy in a time when people of color in the electorate now outnumber white. Our entire American way of life is being shut down by white racism, and we can't say the enword. LMAO.



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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AN EVENING AT HOME WITH SCOTT FREEMAN'S BLUERIDGE FAR AWAY

scott freeman and willard gayheart


Another day of rest during which I refused to hear radio news or pay attention to internet news. Let it rest. I'm listening to Scott Freeman, mandolin, and Scott Manring, guitar, pick Sweet Georgia Brown. Manring's guitar is his own, a sound he created with his ear, something like a jazz guitar, strumming slow, high-pitched chords with Freeman's fast-paced mandolin picking. Then there is Willard Gayheart singing Don't You Dare Love Anyone But Me, Dori Freeman singing harmony with grandpa. Next, Willard solos a recent composition of his own, Turn Toward The Light. The song has depth and visual presence like all Willard's songs. He tends to write a short story in a song, like Ern and Zorie's Sneakin Bitin Dog, The Shootin, Robin D. In Turn Toward the Light, Willard records this song the first time. He has sung it getting to know it at the Friday night shows at Woodlawn  several times. It is a good worded song and has a nice flow in his singing of it. It has a beautiful feeling. It rings the wind chime of the heart.

dori freeman and her henderson guitar


Dori singing Twilight Time flows nicely with Scott's music. This song is associated with a music quite different from bluegrass or mountain music, generally. The music on the cd collection has the effect on the listener it has on stage. Dori in her early twenties onstage with a bluegrass band behind her starts singing a 40s style ballroom orchestra song. It works. It's right. A few songs later she covers Hank Williams' Cold Cold Heart. She makes it her own. At the Wayne Henderson fest one of the bands played it while Willard and I were talking. Our eyes met and he said it wasn't even close to what Dori does with the song. Not to inform me, but to speak out loud what we mutually agreed in our eye contact was so obvious there was no question. Hearing Willard and Dori singing Don't You Dare Love Anyone But Me, I recall seeing the joy it gives Willard to be singing and recording with his grandbaby. And Dori loves singing with Willard as much as he enjoys singing with her.

scott freeman fiddler
 
 
This collection of songs, Blueridge Far Away, is a sample of a Friday night in Woodlawn at The Fiddle & Plow show that Scott and Willard put on with special guest musicians every week from among some of the more interesting musicians of the Central Blue Ridge. Butch Robins plays the bluegrass banjo with his rolls from note to note making a flow line; Steve Lewis picks his guitar and banjo like an inspired wild man; Scott Manring makes electric jazz guitar sounds with his acoustic. David Johnson glides over ice on his Dobro, and Scott Freeman picks the mandolin free as a swallow flying in circles over a mountain lake, Willard and Dori pick rhythm guitar, and Scott plays fiddle. An instrumental amounts to a dynamo by musicians who complement each other racing side by side at 140mph. After four years of hearing these people make music almost every week, I know their sounds well enough that I know who is picking what on every song. I like that. Especially with these musicians. It is the sound, the vibration, the whatever, that is in Scott's and Willard's music that draws me to it. I've listened to a lot of music closely, and by this time in the life after hearing music of a wide variety, the sound of Scott and Willard's music is just right for what I like music to be.

willard and his new henderson guitar


For one thing, I regard both Scott and Willard artists. Dori is an artist. All these musicians are artists. Scott, Willard and Dori write songs and perform them with musical authority. All these musicians have what it takes to play in bands that travel in buses all the time, but prefer to live at home and have a life. Scott's musicianship, his picking articulation is clear and he gives his notes a ring. He finds the life in every note. He never strikes a dead note. Scott's singing is remarkable too. So is Willard's. They sing their own sound in the mountain tradition. Both have a musical affection for Western Swing. Both grew up listening to it at home. Willard's bluegrass band, the Highlanders, played Take Me Back To Tulsa and some others equally well. They have the spirit of the music in them. Scott is a good singer with a voice that he uses to deliver the words as articulately as he picks the mandolin strings. Dori's singing is clear and articulate. David Johnson's Dobro projects curls of cigarette smoke in the air. Willard's singing has the same quality of clarity and articulation. All three of them have the quality of singing from the heart. I can tell, because the heart is where I feel them.

scott freeman, willard gayheart, mike gayheart


Scott started this album, Blueridge Far Away, the same way I would start a radio show when featuring a musician or a band for the day's show. I'd start with an instrumental that gave examples of how everybody in the band could pick. From there, it's whatever comes next. Sweet Georgia Brown starts the album and lets the listener know these are musicians that deserve attention. The picking itself pulls my ear into the album from the start. Then, once he has the listener's attention, he turns it over to Willard to sing a couple songs. I felt like it was Scott's way of featuring Willard's incredible singing. Willard sings in the mountain tradition of drawing attention to the song, not the singer. His voice, like Scott's, pulls no attention to itself, no see-how-good-I-can-sing flourishes. The point for both of them is to deliver the song from the heart with their voices, all attention on the song. Scott's mandolin playing is an objet d'art itself. Banjo throughout that is a good part of the music but not dominant like top 40 bluegrass. Scott is a master musician with mandolin and fiddle, that includes vocals. You can hear music by him and everyone mentioned here by writing any one of their names in the search box at YouTube.

dori freeman and willard gayheart


The album is self-produced and recorded by GROUNDHOG SHUFFLE RECORDS, 2906 Cranberry Road, Woodlawn VA 24381. I've listened to this album like watching a movie; sit back and let it run from start to finish. It holds my attention as well as a movie. It's so much better than the news, I wonder why I'm slow to shift my attention away from the news. Steve Lewis picking guitar strings and banjo strings, Scott Freeman playing fiddle and mandolin. I missed Woodlawn last Friday night. Playing this cd brings Friday night at Woodlawn into my living room. This is the very music we hear on Fridays. I don't even tell anybody about it anymore. Too many times I've heard how do you get there? where is it? when is it? how much is it? and that's the end of it. Turns out when the subject comes up it amounts to an oral exam I'm given to no purpose, but filling up the silence with noise. I don't want too many people there anyway. It holds up to 50, though it's usually around 20 in the audience. When Wayne Henderson is there, it jumps up to 50, and I stay home. It's all people we never see otherwise, Easter Christians, who come out for THE BEST, the celebrity. And that's a good thing. It keeps them paying attention to mountain music, believing somebody is best. Everybody has their own reasons. In mountain music I stay away from calling any musician or band the best. It's like Billy the Kid, there's always a faster gun in the West. Or like 2-Pac in da Hood.  

willard gayheart laughing
 
 
 
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

JUST SAID NO TO HIERARCHIES


howdy!


I must withdraw my interest in the workings of the world that do not directly play a part in my life. That Obama has shown his hand I can't worry over any of it. I held out with a little confidence in Obama I wanted to have. I trusted him because I wanted to. I forgot, however, that he has to behave as required by the .0001% that rule. When he became president, he became a member of their club.(I'm your puppet.) That's all. I'm disappointed by him. I understand that the republicans are tripping him up in every nit-picky way the lowest mind among them can think up. In the end, he bends over for the republicans. Democrats continue in their spineless ways since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution. Since the beginning of Reaganism (Ayn Randism) democrats have conceded to the right wing unto encouragement, put down the red carpet for them. The democrats are taking us to police state, but like Ralph Nader said in the election campaign of 2000 that the republicans will get us there faster. The republicans are showing it too. The Boston bombings showed me the city police are now trained and practiced in taking charge of urban populations.

air bellows rock formation


I came to the mountains in 1976, a time when the oil corporations were shutting down independent oil companies and gas stations by what they called the Oil Embargo. We are not in the hands of people who make decisions in our interest. That time is long past over, if it ever was. We, the American people, are on our own. Government preys on us, does not protect us. What is labeled Defense is actually Offence. I feel sorry for every poor clod who joins the military believing he's "serving" his country. Going through what they go through in jungle and desert warfare for tax free corporate profiteers is dispiriting to the troops when they finally get it, minus a pair of legs. I did my Navy time in the time of the draft knowing this to be the case before I went in. It was sail the seas and play military for two years or take that much time in prison. I picked the Navy for the ocean. I longed to be on the ocean. I think it really sucks, though, to be born male and have no choice but to go through military. I was one of the examples of why the draft is self-defeating for the military. I don't like living by military rule. Not that I'm afraid of them; I don't like being one of them. I don't like their culture. I don't like adhering to a false belief system because it is expected. It is outside the military too, but the military is the core of that kind of hierarchical thinking learned from the Catholic church, which by now everybody knows aint what it's held itself up to be.

jackson pollock was in whitehead


I've refused to live my life in hierarchical work conditions. In the last year at the College of Charleston corporate recruiters were talking with seniors with job interviews. I didn't even want one of them to see me. I turned my back to that kind of thinking very early in the life, in childhood. I saw the republican recessions in the 50s and saw the advance of corporate influence such that to sign over for a job in a corporation I give up all my rights that are guaranteed an American citizen. I like those rights. I'm not signing over my basic rights and I'm not kissing ass of all the men on the ladder above me, none of whom I respect as an individual human being. From very early on it was a guiding light that I never live by hierarchy. I would live among and work with people I respect. It has been my way of life to work for an individual with a small business. I seldom made anything more than minimum wage, and then temporarily. I chose not to participate in the money making game because I did not want to shut down my self for a job, for money, for Mammon. Not that I think in Mammon terms, but that's the bible name for the god of money. Everybody knows it. And everybody knows Mammon is not a benevolent god. The US of A is on the verge of finding out how fickle Mammon can be. I've spent my life using money as immediate gain for immediate need. Paycheck to paycheck, as they say. How else in the working class? I never worked for a corporation or a factory. Worked for the state of SC for a year and learned all I needed to know about that.

roadside sculpture in sparta


In retrospect I can see I've lived my life as close to person to person, individual to individual as I could, hanging on to that connection with humanity, the other people in my life. Taking a high powered job takes one away from the world of people who appeal to one's heart and forces one into a world of people that don't give a shit about you in any way you look at it, except maybe sexually, until the next one comes along. A world of pretend. A world of continuous climbing. They never get tired of it. It's like their emotional vibration is wound up so tight they can't live without that tension. It takes that degree of tension (stress) to keep the pretend going. It's for the paycheck, and sometimes for the neurosis. In my early job years I had a crappy job and after a couple weeks the boss asked me why I was working there, I said, The money. Response: If that's all, then why don't you leave. OK. It was a moment, like about all moments, when you can't say what you're thinking, I wanted to say, What? But I didn't care. The feeling was mutual, as it usually is. Because I won't work for a factory, system or government, it has kept my job opportunities humble. That's what I wanted for myself. I did not want to be high up over anybody. How else but in the laboring class. I came to the mountains to do hard work, to labor body and mind. I can't even estimate the number of post-holes I've dug with a hand-held post-hole digger and how many miles of barbed wire fence I've stretched. I've done some dangerous tractor commandeering, enough to teach me that when IT happens, it's now, not a ten thousandths of a second from now, but now. By the time you realize what happened, it's in the past. The second experience with IT learnt me. I wasn't going for strike three. End of working with a tractor.

barn windows in whitehead


I was something of a spiritual idealist diving into my own humanity that I'd not valued sufficiently before. I was going by a premise of my own that manual labor would work off the anger within that had been a problem all the way along, to the point that I finally caught on it was in me, not out there. It is said awareness is the first step toward healing, and my experience affirms it so much I take it for granted. To come back around, I think I'm coming into an awareness that it does not serve me, my understanding, my life, my reason for being, my mental health to go on paying so much attention to the fake human beings we call celebrities, both Hollywood and DC. It can be said of DC as David Hockney said of Hollywood  in his film, "Scratch the tinsel in Hollywood and you get brighter tinsel." He laughed from seeing in his mind's eye a simulcast slideshow of several examples of his meaning. Over a period of years in California he gradually drifted away from the tinsel, spending more time at home focusing on the people close to him. He took a step deeper within going back to Yorkshire over a period of three years to stay with his sister and live in the house and neighborhood he grew up in. Going home, you might say. Going within. I'm feeling that impulse to withdraw my attention from the fake people and focus it on the people around me, the people I live among, my friends. That's my "real world." In the first half of my life, I have to say I did not value others. In the second half it's in others that I find value. I learned true values in the mountains.


 
 
    


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Saturday, June 22, 2013

SEEING DAVID HOCKNEY A BIGGER PICTURE THE MOVIE

all photos by tj worthington



This is Saturday, my day of rest. I refuse to do anything but be at home with no agenda, no schedule, no thinking about something to do. I write this as part of my rest. I do the equivalent of rest when I'm writing to you. I'll be exhausted when it's over and may flop down for a nap, will probably put in a movie, Ai Weiwei's Never Sorry. I've had to shut down to activity. A couple weeks of not having a moment with a state of mind able to quiet down to read in a book for awhile, or pick up a brush and mix some colors. I've let myself get caught up on one thing after another, none of it objectionable, and by today I need to sleep til noon (done), watch a movie (done), talk with Carole on the phone (done), and now am settled into writing the day's open letter to you. As always, I have nothing to say, but keep on writing and eventually something gets said, maybe. Doesn't matter, we're flowing free today.



Last night I watched a brief (1 hour) documentary, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, (2009). The film maker Bruno Wollheim spent three years filming Hockney talking about his painting while driving or riding in a car, at home, and painting. It advertises itself with a quotation from the Sunday Times of London, "an unqualified, life-enhancing joy from start to finish." I didn't think of it as that all the time watching it, but in retrospect seeing that description I can say it is well said, though I wouldn't have said that while watching. It was far too interesting, dwelt in the depth and breadth of Hockney himself as an artist and as a human being. It really is a joy of a film, but not dramatically. Joy is not a word I would have come up with, but it fits. It truly is life-enhancing. Hockney is somebody who has spent many years in intense study of art. His paintings are the findings of his study. Each painting learns from the ones that went before.



In the time of filming the documentary, Hockney returned to Yorkshire, England, where he grew up, from Los Angeles, where he spent much of his adult life. He is in his late 60s here, and painting landscapes of Yorkshire outside with big easel and an assistant to hand him things like he's a surgeon. He paints fast. He was working toward a show at the Tate. He made an image for the Tate show that took a whole wall, 30 thereabouts 4x5' canvases that fit together into one big image of a tree, some trees around it and a small red barn. He talks about planning the piece, working it out and why. During the times Hockney is talking, he is talking to his friend of many years with the camera. It's like he is talking to the viewer. It is a Hockney work of art, itself, in that his agenda as an artist is to include the viewer in the work, painting from a viewer's perspective. Sometimes during indoor interviews, a long mirror would be standing on the floor beside Hockney to show the camera and the man holding it, the one being talked to. His collection of canvases of the Yorkshire countryside are as beautiful as if David Hockney painted them. They have air, they breathe, they have life, they have light, they have dark. He even painted in the rain and snow. Monet, the next century. It can be said of the film what can be said of Hockney's work. It is a moving picture portrait of Hockney by someone who knew him and appreciated where Hockney the artist is coming from.



I hear a towhee, the calico bird, sing in the distance. It is a quiet time with the sun's rays slanting through the foliage in advance of the gloaming. It's so quiet I hear the crickets in my head like they're outside. I listen closer and they're inside. Listen closer and they're outside. Listen closer again and they're inside. Then the inescapable conclusion: it's both. Maybe. It's inside, for sure. Maybe. Doesn't matter. I like the sound. It is a comforting sound, the sound of summer in the mountains. It beats all to hell the sound of horns, tires and breaking glass. I just now heard the sound of a dove taking flight, a squeaky vibrato sound unique to the dove. A turkey hen is walking down the edge of the road, entering the zone of a birdfeeder and is walking on around the house, checking it out. One of the beautiful sights in nature is the flight of a wild turkey. They set their momentum in motion flapping big wings, then they're gliders. They glide as far as they want to. It's odd to see how a bird that big can fly so gracefully. They're birds. Flight itself is grace.

 
 
 
 
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Friday, June 21, 2013

WHEEL OF FORTUNE TURNING

all paintings by feng dakang, china


Every day I hear concerns on the news that NSA is surveilling our email accounts and facebook accounts, and everything else. I wonder whence this pose of naiveté. I took it for granted from the beginnings of emails and facebook that they were available for government surveillance and were at least set to key words like bomb. I've taken it for granted that this daily blog is surveilled for key words from the beginning. I went into it aware of cyber surveillance. I tend not to use key words that ring alarm buzzers. I read and hear indignant accusations of government for spying on us. We the people are the enemy, anyway that's how the rich, our elected "representatives," the corporate world and the Supreme Court view us. By regarding us the enemy, they are making themselves our enemy and they're now working against us to drain us of the last drop of our blood/energy/money. That we have been subjects of surveillance has been the case all my life. In the Fifties when we talked on the telephone, it was characteristic of everyone to suspect a crackle on the phone line a sign of surveillance, then it was called wire-tapping, and sometimes we would say things to insult whoever might be listening. Of course, no one was listening to teenage chatter over the phone. Then, they were interested in communists, now it's terrorists.

feng dakang


I can't help but think it a fake naiveté to pretend it's a surprise we're being surveilled. It won't be long before interstate traffic is patrolled by drones that just happen to gather other information too. Police state is here and it doesn't appear to me that surprise is authentic. It is a popular police state. I believe Marx said that if change doesn't come by legislation, it will come by revolution. Legislation is on HOLD and revolution is in the air. Not like in the Sixties when every band was required to have a song about revolution and it meant nothing, but the Occupy movement and all that goes with it is becoming a problem. The suppression of the movement by corporate media, including NPR controlled by republicans, is making it into an internet underground that is growing all over the world. Big change is at hand. Big change is happening. As always, our government is the last to get it. Government has become a behemoth with a life and mind of its own like Hal the spaceship computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Over the last 30+ years government has been our enemy. If you've ever paid your liability insurance for the car a day late, you know what I mean. The State of North Carolina has already informed me with certainty that it doesn't give a shit about me, only wants my money. All I can say is, that's all right---it runs both ways. Since I was informed by the State of NC of my status, I see NC as lines on a map and that's it. No emotional identification.

feng dakang


I have a feeling it would be a good thing to withdraw my interest in what government is doing. I've learned it has nothing to do with we-the-people except as the enemy. All I can do is accept and go on. The world of the people I live among is far more interesting than the news. Our political parties have minimalized to the not very bright vs the truly ignorant. It has reached such a low it isn't worth paying attention to. They say if you don't pay attention you're not participating in democracy. Well, we don't have democracy, the interest of we-the-people is nothing of consideration except for polls that inform the manipulators, the propagandists. I always hang up when I find it's a poll on the phone. I don't care to participate. I don't care to hear about Sarah Palin, for or against, and a long list of the others. They only make me puke when I hear them talk or read something retarded they said. That these people win elections tells me republican gerrymandering over the last 30+ years has successfully shut down democracy. Or that half the American population identifies with stupid. That's the part I find scary. So easy to manipulate they're boring for the propagandists.

feng dakang


The people around me are so much more interesting than our present run of politicians. Yet, I don't recall a time when they were better. There used to be the occasional bright light, like Fulbright and Moynihan, not many. Every president I've admired as a man was annihilated by relentless republican dirty tricks, starting with Kennedy. It's time to listen to more music. I like hearing news from Africa on BBC in the night when I'm up late. I like being aware of what's happening in Syria now and Turkey. I'm curious about China, how it is evolving. China is evolving now while USA is devolving. We are in rapid devolution. China is moving forward. We're moving backward. The wheel of fortune is turning. We're about ruling the world. China is about doing business with the world. We can't do business with other countries without controlling interest. China doesn't do that, so the developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East turn there for business. China does not have historical interest in expansion or the Western urge to rule the world. USA made a mess of its time at the top, squandered its wealth and influence. The 20th Century is called the American century. The 21st Century is already China's century. They will have Taiwan back before long and then China will be whole. It has been important to China since the day it became China to be its own version of united states. China means Our Land. When China is whole, I can't imagine a Chinese attempt to rule the world. But that doesn't really mean anything, my imagination. It is what it is and will be what it will be.

feng dakang
 
 

I have noted several times as a kind of refrain that the people I live among are so much more interesting than the people who compose our government. I live among people who work for a living, work at the low wage rate of the Reagan Revolution that froze wages from then to now, thereby running profits way up to pay CEOs multiple millions. We the American people have been easy targets. I won't let myself get involved in any of the political belief systems enough to feel the tug of wanting to do something to make a difference. I discourage that kind of thinking whenever it arises. The only "difference" I can see that I, as an individual digit, a pixel, can make is person to person in the world of my friends and neighbors, to help somebody having a hard time, to be a friend who can be trusted. I don't dare presume to aspire to any more than that. I don't have the last word or the answer to anything. Seeing my baby friend Vada once a week has become something of far greater value than anything to do with political systems. Time spent sitting on the floor with Vada watching her draw or helping her put shoes on is time spent at the apex of possibilities. Right now, at this time in my life, I can't think of anything I regard more valuable than time spent on the floor with Vada, watching her play. In the not too distant past I could not have foreseen saying such a thing now and meaning it from the heart. It tells me my heart is alive and well. In that way I can say my life has been a success.   

feng dakang
 
 
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GREED GIVETH AND GREED TAKETH AWAY

all paintings by anthony green



Suddenly, I'm in everyday life up over my ears. It's time to do some scheduling. I've taken on one thing more than I can handle. I can't hang out at a welding shop because I got nothing else to do. I have so much else to do that everything is thrown into a snit right now. I stay up til three, four and five, then sleep til noon and start again. By now, I have my days so full that there aren't enough hours in the day, and I'm jumping into something terrifically time consuming that I want to do. But, I'm worn out all the time now. Every minute I'm awake I want to be sleeping. Today was first nap in a couple weeks. Haven't touched Gide's Journals in a couple weeks. I see movies on the run now. Tomorrow I deal with motorcycle parts and then drive to Woodlawn. I see my life going away. I need my home time. At home is where my energy recharges. It has always been the case that when I make a run to Sparta, I need a nap when I return home. All I can figure is other people's psychic energy exhausts me. I believe there is something to it. The day of the Henderson fest I drove home racing in my mind to get to the bed as fast as I could. I spent more time there than the body was able.

anthony green


I am seeing my energy level change radically. I've been a stay at home body for so long that it really wears me out when I leave here. A drive to Woodlawn is not exhausting, because the psychic energy there is so smooth I feel at home, and feel at home in the car listening to a Skeeter & The Skidmarks tape. One thing that has happened is I am living almost totally in my mind, where I've always lived. I figure everybody else is living in their own minds too. Civilization's advance has been toward living more and more inside one's own mind. What they call "social media" I take for living all the more in one's own mind. Tweeting and facebooking, one is entirely involved inside one's mind. The other is not standing in front of you; the other is in your mind. I don't worry over the so-called social media dumbing down the generation of now because I see it taking us further into living inside our minds. We used to think everything was Out There, and are collectively coming to see that it is actually In Here. Like the universe is within. God is within. Living in the mind is one step closer to finding that everything outside is already on the inside, and the outside is the projection from our own inside. That's a hard saying.

anthony green


I've come into a time of the life when I don't much give a shit for just about anything. And then there are departments where I give a great deal of a shit. I used to care about preserving the green world, keeping it healthy, allowing the wild critters their lives, appreciating the whole. But after a lifetime of seeing logging trucks on the highway---a couple days ago, I came up on one with two trailers and the logs piled so high they were frightening just to look at, let alone to see on the highway coming toward me. It's ok though; he's making money and I'm not. The people making their money destroying the world we live in without any regard for our well being are the champions. They belong to exclusive clubs where all the other people destroying our lives gather to pat each other and themselves on the back. I remember a few years ago seeing an article in Time or someplace about loggers bulldozing the smaller islands of the SE Asia archipelago. By the time they'd leveled about two-thirds of the island the tigers started attacking the bulldozer operators. Of course, they killed all the tigers and leveled the island. What else? Screw environmentalists. They're not making money.

anthony green


One day some city people were visiting some city people I know here. I was asked to take them on a walk to the waterfall. I carried a can of beer. When we reached the top of the big waterfall I tossed the can in the creek and watched it go over the waterfall. It is something I would never do on my own, but did it that day to make a statement. I think the statement was, don't think I'm one of you, think of me a redneck. I'd lived here awhile and came here with environmentalist idealism that got changed right away. Changed by hopelessness. The only way I've come to see that we can save anything environmentally is to let the economy collapse. When the people of the upper middle class no longer have their shareholder checks coming in, they're going to shit. By then, the working class will be the criminal class. The rising ocean will change much of the human plunder of the earth. The Capitalist attempt to destroy the planet will end of its own exhaustion. I'm thinking in the next century cartography will be a booming business. Coastlines everywhere will have to be remapped. With the economy going away at the same time, businesses located on the coast will not be able to afford to move inland, much will change. I look at China. The greatest part of the population is in the lowland along the coast. Inland is desert, vast desert. When the water rises and the air currents change, the edges of the desert will begin to turn green.

anthony green

I look at what the international corporations are doing to humanity and our earth, and it makes me furious. There is nothing I can do, so it makes me frustrated; hence, angry. The anger makes me brace up within unable to enjoy what "environment" I have left. Then I have to throw off the frustration by simply not giving a shit. How can I care that the big cats on the SE Asian islands are being killed and their green islands reduced to desert? How can I care that the Appalachian mountains themselves are being killed by fracking? I can't stop it. If I went and martyred myself to the cause, it would amount to no more than a minor headline for a day. Another environmentalist dumb shit. If I sent all my money to Sierra Club and Greenpeace, it wouldn't change the least little thing. It might pay an ad agency to write a fundraising letter.

anthony green


The Jeff Goldblum movie Independence Day continues in my mind. The movie amounted to no more than a moving picture comic book, but it had quite a lot to say and said it simply in easy to understand two-dimensional terms, a singing to the choir moment. Bob Dole used it in a speech as something patriotic like the flag, when neither he nor his script writer had seen it, totally missed the point. The point is that the mining of the earth's surface and draining its oil has to come to an end if we want to go on living on earth. We don't want our planet made into a Mars while we're living on it. To allow it to go on will be the same as the European Jews allowing themselves to be rounded up. In the history of the Galaxy, the people of Earth will be laughed at for letting the love of money destroy the very ground they lived on. The film's theme amounted to a low-tech revolution; an alcoholic crop-duster pilot saved us from the behemoth corporate spaceship scooping up the surface of the earth for the minerals, by martyring himself, a man with nothing left to lose.

anthony green


The problem is so huge a force of human making that by now it is overwhelming us. It was made of human greed. I'm recalling as a kid older men talking about it doesn't matter whether you learn anything in college, only the sheepskin matters. What? What's the point of the sheepskin if you didn't learn anything? I remember so constant a litany that it became the music in the sky, that it doesn't matter how you get the money, just get the money. I grew up in a world that taught me money is the ONLY. I didn't buy it. In my adult life I've lived among people who believe money is the only and I see how shallow it has made them in relation to the old people I knew of the mountain culture who had never lived by that code. It wasn't even a consideration. They needed the money, of course, to get by, to raise their kids, to maintain their existence at least, to sustain what is important in life, everyday life with people you care about, who care about you. That is the first thing out the window when money takes over as the purpose. Relationships become false, second to the public persona. Maybe now that the international corporations, the Bank, are taking our money and giving nothing in return but landfill, we will be left without resources and will return to living like people of the South lived during the Civil War, the worst poverty, out of which Southern culture arose. Southern culture, itself, is evidence the War of Yankee Aggression is not over. The Yankee occupation held the South in intense poverty for a century. USA is not a forgiving empire.

anthony green himself


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