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Monday, September 29, 2014

STUCK


Today, Monday, I'm about to lose my mind from waiting three hours to get a return call from the doctor's office. The phone number in the book doesn't work. The phone number listed online doesn't work. The number the drug store gave me doesn't work. I looked back in my caller ID on the phone to the time they called here a week or so ago. That number didn't work. I was at least able to get through to an answering machine on the fourth number. Three  hours ago I left my phone number in the answering machine, as requested, and no call in return. I'll give them another hour and attempt to get through again. Friday morning the drugstore could not fill my prescription because they needed to fax the doctor's office to get a return fax to fill the prescription. The drugstore taught me years ago never to come in for a refill a couple days before I run out. I can't get any until I run out. This is three days after the drugstore faxed the doctor's office. The doctor's office has not yet returned the fax and I can't get through on the phone to plead my case. I ran out the day I went to get a refill, knowing I can't get a refill until I'm out, and the computer knows. Three days later, I've been out three days. All I can say to myself is, if the doctor's office doesn't give a shit, I don't give a shit. To hell with all of it. I have to shut down my concern. Any concern is like watching a fence post to see it sprout a branch. No need to name the doctor's office. The one I went to before was the same in the casual return of prescriptions by fax. It's like, whatever. When I fall over dead, I'll never know it. It's no concern to me. I'll wait until tomorrow and call the drugstore and ask if they've received the fax. If not, I'll not concern myself with it further, will call the next day or just forget about it.


It's not just my doctor. The part I don't understand, I mean really don't get, is the population in this county is actually less than it was forty years ago. Then, you could call a doctor's office and somebody answered the phone. Phone lines and electrical lines are more functional than ever by now, the population about the same, and doctor offices need you to walk through a maze of options to find the right number for your specific purpose in calling. It's like trying to get through calling a government number. Maybe Monday is the doctor office's day off. I've only heard of museums being closed on Mondays. But what do I know? I'm one of the proletarian masses that figures for nothing but easy to rob, and doesn't have enough assets to pay attention to otherwise. I prefer never to call offices that put me through a list of options, then another list of options, then another until I want to pull a Lewis Black and give myself an aneurysm cussing. Because I need to get through, I'll sit here and punch buttons all day long when the process starts going. Very soon I'm into Kafka's Castle, referred from this place to the next place, to the next place again, and so on, never learning why. Or like the end of Kasuo Ishiguro's, The Unconsoled, riding a trolley endlessly in a circle around the city. It's insane for a county of less than ten thousand to have to go through the government phone call maze, when at least half the people leave the county for their doctors. It cannot possibly require any more phone answering personnel now than then. All I know to do is adjust. When I get within a week of running out of a pill the drugstore needs to fax the doctor's office about, I'll set the process in motion a week before I need the pills from here on. It's this way so consistently I wonder why this process that does not work goes on being used. Maybe it does work. Maybe I'm the only one who's noticed that I can't get through on the telephone. Maybe it's just like calling your next door neighbor, easy, for everybody else and I'm the only dufus that doesn't get it. And then, there's the obvious: they don't want me to call. 


The problem is really not the doctor's office. It is so much bigger than that, the doctor's office is just a metaphor for all the rest of the depersonalization of the human being that is the unconscious side-effect of our social progressions through technology. We've become slaves to the New without entertaining any concern for what the new I-gotta-have might do toward tightening the restrictions on our innate humanity, what we used to call our humanity. It isn't called anything anymore. Our humanity has no value. Our individuality has no value. The only value in our lives is money. I refuse to concede to having my own values I carry for myself devalued by money. I can't help it that it doesn't matter to others. I have to live in the world created by the people who only value money. I've never liked it, but resigned self to it many years ago. By now, it merely pisses me off enough to make me cuss a good long mellifluous streak, then it's done. The phone corporation evidently came up with a package a doctor's office can't afford not to have, including endless mazes to punish anyone who calls. I take them to mean: Caint ya see, we aint wantin you callin here. Leave us alone, we a-workin. At six o'clock the call came from the doctor's office wanting to know what I wanted. She couldn't find evidence they'd received a fax from the drugstore. She called the drugstore that closed at six and caught the pharmacist, ok'd the prescription, so I'm good to go in the morning. "We been awful busy today." The damn thing about it was when I finally was able to talk with a human voice after 8 hours of being put off by the computerized blockade, unable to get through to the doctor's office trying every phone number available, none of which worked, the human voice was sweet, her name, Angel, and calmed my raging mind in just a few seconds by talking to me. 


I heard one day last week an interview with somebody on, I think, the Diane Rehm show, saying that after all these years of doctors as clinicians, we've lost a very great deal in doctor as healer, doctor as human being, doctor as someone who knows you, doctor who takes into account that you are a conscious entity with a lifetime of experiences. The doctor I see now was trained to be a clinician, but he, himself, is unable to separate from his humanity. It is not possible for a Cuban to walk away from his humanity like it is for a "white man," an Anglo. My thinking about the office phone is the woman who answers the phone has been out, like vacation, sick, quit or let go, I don't know. She wasn't there last week and Angel, whose job it is not, was covering for her absence. Evidently, Angel was without phone answering person again today. My argument is with our gadget crazy culture that is giving our humanity no place to lay its head. Being regarded as numbers is in the past. Now we're talked down to as illiterate criminals. Makes me want to put on Rage Against the Machine and rage with them. I'm remembering riding in the van through the city of Charlotte feeling the weight of the congestion, houses and businesses everywhere, traffic from hell, thousands of cars. I love what a city has to offer, like auditoriums for big rock concerts, small clubs for punk concerts, art house movie theaters, art museums and little else. I had to let what I love go with all the other I can't live with in a city when I left and came to the country thinking I'd find more "humanity" in the country than in the city. Actually, I found less. First gas station I went to in Sparta I never saw the attendant I paid. He sat behind a plywood wall and stuck his hand through a hole in the plexiglass to take the money like one of those toy children's banks that is a black box--put a coin on it, a white hand comes up and snatches the coin. Gimme yer money and get the hell outta here. My introduction to rural living.    

the sky saturday
it was like this all over the sky
all pics taken inside five minutes
all photos tj worthington


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Sunday, September 28, 2014

GRUMPY OLD BASTARD PUNK ROCKER

dirty south revolutionaries

My head is so full of fresh memories they've faded like in a fog. Details fade first, and I'm left with the feeling in memory, which was so big and complex that it, too, fades to the core of all the feelings together: joy. Six hours from 8 til 2 in a small rock club, the Milestone, Charlotte, NC. Five bands played, all of them regional hard-core punk bands. It was a ten year anniversary party by the band DSR, Dirty South Revolutionaries, with four other bands playing, Turd/Cutter, The Seduction, Cop Graves and Dollar Signs. Free admission. I found Johnny Moss, who does vocals with two bands, Turd/Cutter and DSR. We've been facebook friends for some time, met on facebook through our mutual friend, Daniel Biggins, vocals and guitar for the band, The Seduction. I wanted to shake Johnny's hand and talk with him briefly. His appearance is scruffy punk rocker, and when I met Johnny, I found he, himself, lives his heart. I noticed everyone he spoke with, that I saw, he told them he loved them in a way you know he means it; he's not playing peace-love-wow-groovy or blowing smoke. It's who he is. It's how he feels. It's what he means. I spoke with his wife at the tshirt bar when I bought Turd/Cutter's five dollar cd with eight songs, their song list for the show. She had the same vibe, wide open, who she is, awake with a loving heart. I heard the word love go around so frequently during my time in the crowd, it made me pay close attention to where I was. The vibration in the crowd and in the bands I felt was love and joy. Joy not separate from love, but an aspect of love. I consciously went into the event open to whatever, territory I had never been in before. A whole new world to me. We all loved punk rock. Johnny told me the people here were a community of friends. Saying, in effect, the world as he wants it to be. He put out loving vibes all night that flowed back to him.  

johnny moss and turd/cutter

I never saw anybody even show a trace of being mad at somebody else for whatever reason. In other places when I only know maybe half a dozen people there, of at least a hundred, I find it hard to talk with anyone I don't know. At the Milestone, I felt free to speak with anybody at any time. It was like everyone was open to everyone else. Their lights literally did shine. In their community I was so welcome I was thanked several times for coming to be with them. I don't know that I've ever been in the company of this many people who were so wide-open receiving one another. I noticed in the mosh pit area, guys running around in a circle, kinda, slamming into each other (slam-dancing), pushing, shoving, running in a tight circle. When somebody fell down, everyone nearby, four and five, would pick him up and set him on his feet. It was spontaneous. I thought: in my generation, you fall down, you're on your own. Everybody was dressed in their punk clothes. For me, it was beautiful. Every person was individuated in what they were wearing and at the same time moved freely among each other like bees in a hive. Bump into somebody, nobody gets mad. Turd/Cutter opened the show. I was standing somewhere around the middle of the crowd, looking for a good place to get pictures from, when everybody around me erupted into a slam dance. Suddenly, I'm knocked this way, then that way, shoulders and arms in motion all around. I stumbled a path outside that circle in a hurry. It was a wild surprise to be standing still, grooving to the sound of raw punk, and quick as a snap of the finger, everyone is slamming into each other, and me, pushing, running, shoving. Unaware of the mosh pit phenomenon, I don't know what I'd have thought. Everybody went spastic except me. If I'd been a cat, I'd have jumped straight up.  

daniel biggins and the seduction

At one point in the night I was in what amounted to the second circle around the mosh pit. The people in the front circle would push moshers back into the pit when shoved out of the circle. The guy in front of me was hit so hard by surprise he fell back into me. In my hyper-vigilant way, I saw it coming before it happened, just enough to ready myself to stop the momentum rather than get knocked on my ass. I was able to put hands up and catch his back as he started over backwards. You start reeling in one direction from a shove and get a shove from a surprise other direction every time. It amounts to floating around staying upright. Until. This was not a mean mosh pit of football players, but a fun one of friends, community. From my brief experience of the shoves from different directions by surprise, I saw that one could let go and let the motion, determined by bumps and shoves, keep one upright and float like a raft on the ocean. Hypothetically. But I wasn't willing to try it. My right knee became sensitive after standing for so long. Toward the end of the night I had to be careful on steps. It reminded me I could be the grandpa of nearly everyone there, and the pa of everyone else. Crystal printed a black tshirt for me to wear, grumpy old bastard, in white letters on the front. I felt like it freed the people around me from seeing an outsider with white hair. The humor was evident, the only thing it was about. Nobody who takes False News Network seriously is going to wear a tshirt calling himself a grumpy old bastard. I can wear it in fun, because I am not grumpy, anyway not all the time. I didn't look grumpy; my face was lit up in a smile of joy the whole time. I was in mild ecstasy from the sound of punk guitars and drums real loud. Words cannot reproduce the experience of the sound. 

door at the milestone

Several times through the night I caught myself thinking I feel at home here. I felt like the others around me felt their own versions of that feeling. It was a new experience to be a stranger in a community where I am embraced as one of them on sight without question. The whole trip from leaving the house to returning to the house felt like a Divine set-up, saying: Here, you need this. I drove the Parkway to Daniel's house, where he, Jess, his wife, and I, took the van with trailer trailing behind down the mountain to pick up the rest of the band and girlfriends at Elkin. Then the long drive to Charlotte on 77, getting acquainted with the band largely through listening. Brandon, rhythm guitar, is an x-ray technician at the hospital; Jacob, bass, a recent graduate at ASU in Boone; Jonathan, 19, could beat the fire out of the drums; Daniel, vocals and lead guitar, I've known since he was a little child. I said when we left the house and passed the swing set for the kids, "This is the age you were when we first met." He said, "Yeah, I remember." I've known Daniel to only want to play rock music since a kid. I've supported him with encouragement all the way along wanting him to experience what he wants with all his might. It's like he's soul driven to be playing and singing in a rock band, particularly a hard core punk band. Initially, my only interest in going to Charlotte with the band was to hear them live and see them in motion. Daniel has given me copies of the self-produced cds they've recorded, so I knew their sound. I wanted to hear and see what Daniel is doing now that he has what he's always wanted and is making it work. In my heart the whole time I was feeling joy for Daniel. I loved the band's music. Like Johnny Moss and the bass player from DSR, Jesse, said to me of Daniel's band, The Seduction: They rule.   

rocknroll van ready to go


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

PRACTICING ETERNITY, TAO TE CHING 52

vincent van gogh


                  TAO TE CHING 52


          In the beginning was the Tao.

          All things issue from it;

          all things return to it.


          To find the origin,

          trace back the manifestations.

          When you recognize the children

          and find the mother,

          you will be free of sorrow.


          If you close your mind in judgments
     
          and traffic with desires,

          your heart will be troubled.

          If you keep your mind from judging

          and aren't led by the senses,

          your heart will find peace.


          Seeing into darkness is clarity.

          Knowing how to yield is strength.

          Use your own light

          and return to the source of light.
          
          This is called practicing eternity.


                     ---tr by Stephen Mitchell 



vincent van gogh


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Friday, September 26, 2014

GRUMPY OLD BASTARD FREAKS OUT

georges braque

Every day I see something in internet news items, interviews, about the importance of changing the world. It appears this generation of the young, teens and twenties, is fixed on changing the world. My generation came up believing it was important to change the world for the better. That was the guiding thread that ran through the generations, wanting to make the world a better place. Until 1980 when the political coup shifted our government into reverse. Thirty-four years later the young are now saying again they want to change the world. Possibly this is the wave of the near future. We have six more years of the Reagan Trojan Horse coup that usurped our government, systematically put an end to democracy and our individual rights to control us by police state. Once something like democracy has gone away, it doesn't come back easily. The American television viewing audience is evidently happy to see it go. But now that we've had time to see the difference between democracy and police state, democracy is becoming appealing. Anyway, to the black people. Now the republicans are using redneck militias to intimidate black people who want to vote. It tells me the vote must matter for something or the fascists wouldn't feel so threatened. I have no confidence in voting, re: the Supremes overruling the popular vote in 2000, rulings they've made before and since. I have completely lost confidence in the American government since the Reagan coup. The American pendulum has a forty year swing of progress and reaction. We've been in thirty-four years of reaction to the progress of the Roosevelt era, during which the John Birch Society was hatched. They organized and took the government by coup. In this time of John Birch Society running our government, more and more people are growing in number to make the world a better place after almost forty years of destruction. 

georges braque

The working class was defeated long ago, left without a voice, and when they did get a voice it turned out to be a propaganda-created delusion, the teabaggers. I'm so weary of the mind of Karl Rove, the master propagandist, it's hard for me to respect a republican. A country club woman in the coffee shop was talking in praise of Charles Krauthammer of False News Network. All I could say was, "You embarrass yourself." Last Saturday I came face to face by chance with our congressional "representative," the Bush-Cheney parrot herself, live, in person, Virginia Foxx, in my face, introducing herself, handing me a business card. I froze. I freaked. I realized demons are not mythological creatures, but go among us in human form. Pretended I didn't recognize her. I only wanted her to go away. I was in friend Crystal's tent she put up at Sparta's downtown "festival," The Mountain Heritage Festival, selling her items and advertising her new sign making business. While Virginia was trying to talk to me I pointed at Crystal, "Talk to her," acting like I was Crystal's grandpa hanging out with nothing to do, don't know nothin, don't wanna know nothin. Crystal had never heard of her, knew nothing of her, pays no attention to news or anything in DC, doesn't vote, doesn't care. Virginia handed Crystal a card and received as blank a look as she got from me. She turned and went on to the next tent. She was going up and down the street introducing herself, handing out cards. As soon as she left, I dropped my card into our trash bag. A little later, thinking I might want to use it for a satirical art project, I picked it out of the trash and put it in my pocket. Reckon I could sell it on e-bay?

georges braque

I might write the date on the business card to have a number for one of my most freaky moments in a long time. I felt in the presence of the false, the totally false with intent to be false. Somebody who cannot recognize an honest word, unable, herself, to speak one. I remind myself that souls new to the human form have a hard time understanding something like the earth a ball rolling around the sun. So what does that have to do with a Budweiser commercial? When a parrot from the dark side "represents" me in DC, I am not represented. I sound like a teabagger harping about liberals. Yin and yang. Duality in action. Opinions are like assholes: everybody's got one. That's all I'm doing here is articulating my opinions. I'm not looking to missionarize my opinions, just to bring them up and look at them, confess to them, examine them, change them. I like my opinions to be fluid as water, not locked into place like a cement block. I'd rather not have opinions, but they somehow seem inevitable, simply as point of view. This is how I see a given opinion in relation to my own experience and assessment of experience. I didn't know what an opinion was until I was out of high school a year or two. Had them before, but didn't know that's what they were. Coming up Baptist, I believed my opinions were truth. I didn't see them as opinions, but as truth. God sez. I'm in van Gogh's mid twenties in the biography, feeling like I have an understanding of his thinking, of his spirit. He came up as I did in church with his male parent the church enthusiast. His family did not alienate him, so it was not easy for him to expand his vision beyond the absolute beliefs of father and mother. His spirit was reaching beyond the confines of tradition, though the tradition he lived in held him in its orbit. He was a born free-thinker, did not want to be a rebel, but the need to follow his own light made him an involuntary rebel within. 

georges braque

Books Vincent read expanded his thinking. He was like a kite on a string, wanting to fly up into the sky, but the umbilical cord of a loving family held him to the tradition his spirit needed to fly away from. Vincent's searching mind led him away from the tradition he was expected to perform in as an obedient employee, make a lot of money, property, family, position. He could not do it. He went on long solitary walks into the country. He was a nerd, somebody with zero social skills. He just did not know how to connect with other people. He had no social skills to start with and finding himself so unsuccessful with people, he went within. He read Thomas Carlyle, who was writing at the time, in English. He could get around in four languages. His absence of social skills made keeping a job difficult for him. Family and the others around him saw him a failure, a loser. And they convinced him he was a loser. I suspect he discovered his own mind on his long walks, went on the walks to enjoy his mind. Nobody understood him anyway, and when he started expanding his mind reading non-academically, which he did much of the time he wasn't working or walking, the people around him understood him less. I've seen Dutch countryside and cities. I've seen London where he spent a year or less. I'm sure we walked in some of the same places, saw the same buildings, experienced the English. This gives me a sense of place when I'm with him there, getting by the best he can. The work he loved doing was teaching children. But it didn't pay anything, just a room and meals, and a jerk to work for. No future in that. I'm having a good time watching him soul search, identifying with myself in that time of my life when all I knew was I could not live the rest of my life under the smothering pillow of religion. Vincent sought on his own as I have sought on my own. It even feels like his life was another version of my life in 19th Century Netherlands. The particulars are very different, but the spirit is awfully close. I've never read somebody's life that paralleled my own so much it feels like I'm reading about me. It's uncanny and it's fun. 

georges braque himself


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

THAT I DON'T KNOW WHAT

henri matisse

I saw another French film last night. I mean made in France; and, it has that je ne sais quoi to identify it particularly French and no other. No other culture can even imitate it. I'm recalling a French film I saw a month or more ago that did not have je ne sais quoi about it. I thought it odd. It didn't feel right. The film was La Truite,1982. It had Isabelle Huppert, Jeanne Moreau, and a very respectable French cast. I looked to see who directed it. Joseph Losey. English. Of course it did not have je ne sais quoi. What a strange complexity, a French film made by an English mind. It would have worked had not the number one ingredient been missing. He made a good enough film in France, but it wasn't French. I've found that special something that cannot be named in French films I've seen over the years. It is so subtle that I tend only to think about it while watching a French film. It draws my attention a short time into a film. To see a French film without je ne sais quoi was mildly startling. It didn't compute. It was like a Japanese-made film of the life of Genghis Khan done in medieval Japanese dress and customs. It was done in full-dress kimonos and swords, on sleek stable-kept horses, talking in Japanese. It made a good film, but it was a hard one to take seriously. It was something like doing Shakespeare in suits and ties, speaking Russian. The film I saw last night that was French and no other, I've Loved You So Long, 2008. It is an odd-seeming title until you've seen the film. Then it's just right. Director was Philippe Claudel. I would guess that among French film lovers he is regarded with appreciation as a director. This film was brilliantly made, the story brilliantly written. I gave it five stars without hesitation. This was the only film netflix had available by Claudel. 

henri matisse

Kristin Scott Thomas portrayed her character, Juliette, getting out of prison after 20 years. She was in for murdering her 6 year old boy. We know there is a story behind it, that she was either falsely charged or something. One of the clues was early in the story when she told her sister that her husband testified against her. Later a social worker looked at the court transcripts and asked why she did not say anything in her own defense. She had to leave the room. The mystery of what happened is a thread running through the story. It is also a look at someone just out of 20 years in prison, and I doubt if French is better than American prison; a good place to be from, a long ways from. The story gave me a peephole view into the life of someone reentering a world hostile to her in particular, a criminal. It involved relationships in family, other people, employers, social workers. I can't help but feel it is criminal of our society to go on punishing people who have served their time. I thought the deal was, do your time and your record is clear. Not. Do your time, then live at the homeless bottom with a hateful attitude toward a society that only cares about you in a negative way, cares about seeing you suffer for being a criminal, an outsider. Juliette is beset with others uncomfortable in her presence. A time her sister referred to her time behind bars, "while you were away," she exploded that she was in prison. She was not away. She was in prison. She told sister to go ahead and say prison. That's what it was. Sister taught literature at a university. She had been struggling within to understand Juliette, whose spirit was so distant. In class one day, a student was talking about Dostoevsky on murder. She made the case that only someone who has murdered knows how it feels. She worked herself up into an emotional rant saying Dostoevsky did not know anything about it; he had never murdered anyone. She jumped and flew from the class, leaving the class bewildered, went to her office for the comfort of solitude and emotionally collapsed. 

henri matisse

I've seen quite a large number of films over the last eight years with netflix seeing three to four films a week, films from everywhere in the world. I dismiss Hollywood films, finding my appreciation in American films the independents. We have so many of them, who needs Hollywood? French is my preference of countries in the world of film making. I've seen really good films from everywhere, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, China, Japan, Mexico, Italy, and all the way around the globe. I've had a great film education by way of netflix. I've had peeps into other cultures, chances to see how people in different parts of the world think and do. I keep a big world atlas close to the movie watching chair. Wherever I am in the world with the movie, I look it up and get a sense of landscape on particular parts of the maps. I've seen films of people's lives in China, the country that was a mystery most of my life, enough films by now to have a slight familiarity with Chinese culture. I've read contemporary Chinese fiction and go to websites in Shanghai of galleries showing what artists in China are doing. Documentaries of Ai Weiwei. All the time watching these films I am looking at people in the backgrounds, people passing by, seeing how they dress, how they walk, how they talk. I think I've become a culture junkie. I see a documentary in Mongolia and my eyes scan the landscape the whole time, imagine it all the way around. Seeing a friend just back from a couple weeks in Shanghai, my first question, "How did it smell?" He said, "Like China." I knew what he meant. It's the scent in a Chinese grocery store that is particularly China. It is the smells I miss in a film. The visuals and the audio are there, but the smells are never there, only reacted to when strong, like the truck of rotten meat in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. I smelled it by association with how the actors were reacting. 

henri matisse

Danish director, Ole Bornedal's film, I Am Dina, took me deep into life in the fjords of Norway. Mix what I saw there with documentaries about the Vikings, I get a sense for why the Vikings were so formidable. They spent their lives rowing boats. Beats weight lifting; the effort gets you someplace. Instead of ten chin-ups, you do ten thousand. I feel tremendous empathy for France occupied by the boche, the war, the reconstruction. However, France had its time of conquering Europe. I forget that France has a dynamic history, forget because I don't know most of it. I am familiar with French landscape from mountains to the beach by film and by map. I don't like to watch French films one after the other. I like to sprinkle them among everything else. They have such a light freshness about them, like French cuisine, it's like an aesthetic oasis to visit La France  by way of story telling. It's the only access I have. Paul Eluard, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Claudel, Rimbaud, all have that je ne sais quoi in poetry. French poets I like the best from Europe, as I like Chinese poetry the best from Asia, that I'm aware of. I've had one experience of French cuisine in France. It was a French town near the border with Switzerland close to Geneva. Can't recall the name of the town or the restaurant. I was at a table of English-French speakers equally, the non-French speaking American. At one point, I said to the waitress, "Merci beau cul." The waitress cracked up, everybody at the table cracked up. I didn't get it. Turns out I said coup with a Southern accent, told the waitress she had a nice ass. I couldn't take it back. To take it back would have been to deny it, which could not be done. I let it stand. I learned how a cat feels when a human scares it, it jumps straight up and all the humans around break out laughing at the cat. I wanted to do like a cat, go to another room and curl up on a pillow. But it was good fun. This was la France, not America. The meal in the restaurant was so simple, so ideal, and provided my first experience of je ne sais quoi in French cuisine

henri matisse himself


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ROUND TRIP TO WHITEHEAD

shadow from the past

Laid down to take a nap at 6, woke a few minutes after 12 to the plaintive cry of a cat outside the door. I believed Caterpillar was in the house when I closed the door, but I've shut her out all night before. This is her home. She knows safe places under the house a dog can't get to. She can curl up and be warm at home. It's just my preference that she be in the house while I'm sleeping. Dogs come around by surprise. I want her in the house when dogs are present. The cry of the cat outside the door alarmed me. It sounded so forlorn like it was crying. My immediate thought on waking was I'd shut Caterpillar out and she was hurt, though really didn't believe it. She has a hidden bed in another room she sleeps in mostly now. She has several beds around the house. She moves around to the different ones. I learned early she does not like the same old catfood every day. I buy her a variety every time in the can, and each bag of dry food is different. She'd rather be having mouse or bird sushi. At age 17 she doesn't jump onto chairs anymore. I will lift her when she wants to nap on my reading chair, and lift her again to let her down. From the bed, I stepped into my slip-on shoes, hurried to the door, turned on the outside light and opened the door. No cat. It did not sound like a dream. Yet, I've never heard Caterpillar cry so mournfully. I was thinking she must be hurt. Or it could be another cat. Maybe the cat ran when I turned on the light. My dreams over the last few years are odd. I will meet someone in a dream, reach out to shake hands and wake up with my arm extended and hand ready for a shake. I've dreamed cat Tar Baby was standing on my chest watching me wake and when I wake, cat's not there. One morning I dreamed I was lying in the bed gazing out the window. I woke seeing the same scene with blinds closed. 

found art

Thought I might get up and read, but it was too cold. I'd have to put on a sweater and even then it would be too cold. Even turning on the heat, it would take too long to get warm enough to be comfortable slouched down reading. I threw on a sweatshirt and turned on the laptop. A good time to write to you after a 6 hour restful sleep. I wasn't sleepy when I laid down, just thought I'd take a nap between scenes. The day's project was to mix an orange to satisfaction and slather it onto prepared white surface with palette knife. I'd thought about it so much, I knew step-by-step what to do. I took a piece of scrap plywood I'd found someplace years ago 26x12 inches. Glued and screwed two strips of wood to the back to hold the plywood's tendency to warp over time. Turned it over and glued a rectangle of cardboard to it. I'd cut the cardboard from a box 20x6 inches, and placed it where it felt right for the feeling I was looking for to accompany the fire orange. This is a hot orange. I wanted to juxtapose a cold, geometric line with the hot color. Balance. It is minimalist. I slathered the orange paint on it with the palette knife to make an abstraction with the marks of the palette knife. I did not want the markings to look like I was trying to do pretty aesthetic sweeps of the blade or make a repeating pattern. I wanted to spread it over the white, to cover the surface, making it a point to let each swipe of the palette knife function to cover the white and thicken the thin places, only. Slapping the paint on is an abstract expressionist approach. For my own personal exercise in what I like, I like the principles of both. I feel like minimalism is abstraction without the personalized texture. Abstraction, soft edges, gave evidence a machine did not do this. Acoustic. A minimalist object looks like it probably was made by machine, had to be. Electric. Yin and yang. 

anthropocene tracks

About the time I was wondering where to put it to let it dry, thinking all the red in it will take at least a month to dry. The phone rang. Melvin wanted me to meet him in Whitehead with a check for him that came to my address in the mail at one, for work he did last week for Carpenters. He needed to be in town to get it cashed and get electric bill paid before two to prevent cutoff. He wanted me to meet him to save him the 20 minute round trip from hwy 18 to here. I did not want to go to town today. This was not going to town, just driving down the mountain and back up. Thought I'd take the camera along. We were to meet at the old Whitehead store, a Sunoco station before that. I was a little early and sat listening to NPR news product and looking around at familiar scenes, scenes so familiar I didn't see anything interesting in them to photograph. I saw the shadow of an old light fixture on the pavement, picked up the camera thinking I could get the picture I wanted without leaving the car, and left the car. Photographed the shadow and discovered details in the building I felt were interesting. Found some chance markings in the pavement made by tire, and several bottle caps melted into asphalt. I'd guess these were ones opened on the way to the car and cap dropped on the ground. On a summer day of sun all day long the pavement is soft, a car rolls over the cap and pushes its circular blade down into the asphalt and there it stays. A moment in time frozen into rock like dinosaur tracks. The graffiti of chance. The closer I looked, the more subjects I found. It came to mind to get some pics here for the facebook group called Rambling Revolution. It's about showing pictures from around where we live. Everybody lives in different places. What is familiar unto boring to us is fresh, exotic and new to somebody in another part of the country or world.  

ah-choo

I thought I'd mosey home, take my time and see what I can find on the way to make a five-image picture of scenes in Whitehead. I wanted to get pictures of a field of goldenrod in full flower where the pavement ends before the turn up the mountain on gravel road. I parked, walked up the road a ways looking at the meadow of goldenrod flowers assessing how I wanted to photograph it. I held camera up arms length with monitor turned downward so I could see like a periscope. That worked the best. At eye level, it was a line of the yellow flowers, green below and the green trees above. I needed to get the camera up high to get any sense of the field. Next stop was Air Bellows to get some pictures of a stack of rocks the man who lives there keeps growing and changing. He has been doing this for years. Sometimes a storm knocks them down when a tree limb falls on them. Sometimes somebody will knock them down. Turns out stacked rocks freak some people out. They claim it has to do with religion and the devil, but I suspect they get it from horror movies about devil-worship kinds of nonsense. The people freaked by stacked rocks tend to be of a generation that saw those movies in childhood, possibly parents went to church and watched horror movies until they fused in the kids' minds. There was a time I put rocks from the road on top of fence posts, something to do. It freaked out a lot of people. Somebody left a note under one of the rocks, "Are you a devil-worshiper?" I'm not going to look at any of those movies to see if there is anything to my hypothesis, but I already know it has something to do with television. It has been several years since I've seen evidence of that way of thinking. Possibly horror movie trends have got weary of the devil and now use trons.  

air bellows rock formation


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

THE WAY OF THE WHITE OWL

victor vasarely

I've been entertaining the question today of where I am going in this life. What was my dream for myself that made me make one decision and not another along the way? It's a bit of a puzzler considering I've not aimed for success in any kind of way but within. I've not wanted to climb ladders to success. I find, looking back, I've never had any confidence in the future. It came from the old Protestant insistence that one may die at any moment. If there was anything I learned for certain in childhood and youth was I can go poof any minute. I waited til after my draft obligation to play soldier was finished, in the past, before continuing my education. I thought, why go to college and get a head full of hope, then be killed by the war machine for being born male in a country with an economy based in war profits? What choice did I have? None. Canada was not an answer. To go to Canada is a tactic, not a strategy. To what end? To get away. The momentum of my thinking through high school and a year or so later was to get away. Did not know where I wanted to go. Only knew that I wanted to get away. Wichita, Kansas, is in the middle of the continent, giving me a choice of coast to go to, each one the same distance as far as land allows. It didn't matter, actually. Away was all I wanted. I was listening to jazz at the time, early 1960s, tail end of the Bebop period. I liked East Coast jazz better than West Coast jazz, preferred Thelonious Monk to George Shearing, The East Coast had history. The West Coast had less history. Picking the East Coast was not a strategy, but a tactic. I was also drawn to the South. The South had a powerful mystique for the kid. I have a feeling the seed for that mystique was planted by reading a child's biography of Robert E Lee in third grade. We had to read a certain number of books of our own choice from the library. I wanted to find out about the name that at that time in my life represented the South. I think I fell in love with the South in the course of reading this book. 

victor vasarely

I didn't know anything about Dixiecrat politics in the early 1950s, but I remember at election time the Solid South. I liked about the South that it defied the Yankees and stood up to them. They were beat down, but they stood up. They stood up to authority for me when I could not. Of course, it was romanticized in the child's mind into something it was not, a sentiment. Though I went to the South, it was still getting away, just further away into a new mind. From living in the South my entire adult life, I forget how foreign the South is seen from outside the South. In the South, we think it's great when people from outside the South don't like the South. Stay where you are, don't come here. Leave us alone; that's all we want from you. People from outside the South feel funny when they enter the South. I sure did the first time. I thought I was in the place my soul wanted to be. By this time in my life, I don't ever want to leave the South again. I feel creepy when I cross the Mason Dixon line leaving the South. It was like passing from France into Germany after WW2. Not just a foreign country, but a serious grudge. Even though I like to think my mind on a higher plane than worrying over national / cultural boundaries, belief systems, it's not. I can drive through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and feel at home, in my country. The other side of the line is as different for me as going to England. In a few days, I'm ready to return to my territory. Yes, I am a territorial two-legged. I need my country, need my culture, my people, from American people to Southern people, to mountain people, to the county's people, to my friends and neighbors, to my Blue Ridge Mountain home. 

victor vasarely

It wasn't until around 1990 or later that the momentum generated in childhood, boyhood and youth to get away, as far away as land allows, faded into the fog of time . I didn't want to leave the country. Away did not include expat. It's neither the flag nor the illusion of democracy that appeals. The Americans are my people. The first subculture, Southerners are my people, The next subculture, the people of the Southern Appalachian mountains, are my people. The people I see in a day are my people. It wasn't until I realized this that one day my heart opened and I knew a nonjudgmental love for everyone around me. It didn't change my behavior but to pay closer attention to everyone I interacted with, give everyone honest respect. It was in that time the volume of mind's the need to get away turned down to nothing. I saw the value of the world my parachute landed me in. I don't even like to cross the county line anymore. I disappeared into a world as unknown to Southerners as Southerners are to Yankees, the world of the hillbillies. The farthest I could get geographically as well as mentally. The human heart is alive and well in these hills. I recall from maybe age 13 or 14 an intuition that my life would be one of much change. I wanted to be open to the changes. As a result of that intuition, or insight, or whatever it was, I made it a point all the way along not to lock myself down into anything I could not leave if need be. Wherever it came from, I believed it. From that same period of time, I saw a white owl in the fork of a Y in the road. I was in a car at night. I came to the Y and the white owl flew down the road to the left and I followed. End of dream. Both seemed important at the time. I didn't know what the changes in the future might be or where the owl went.  

victor vasarely

I believe it can be fairly assessed by now that I have been through at least most of the changes and must be where the owl went. The path of experiences that step-by-step brought me to these mountains must be the way the owl pointed. Being open to changes turned out to be necessary several times, but that's inevitable any way you look at it. It appears the interior changes paralleled the changes on the outside. Turns out, it is inner unfoldment I've been open to along the way. As far as I remember back, I never wanted to join the parade. I didn't believe the parade. Reenactments are boring. I've looked for the spirit in this world, the energy that activates this world, which is a manifestation of the spirit, operates on the same principles as the spirit.  The Christ goes among us explaining  it is experiential, everything comes back, an invisible principle as reliable as gravity. So the conscious individual puts out into the world what he / she wants in the return. As above, so below. The world of the spirit, or you might say the mind, directs the physical dimension. I have found that when a change occurs within, I will see a change in the world around me. Some people I know will fall away and new ones come in to take their places. It's a hard saying, but the people around us are expressions of aspects of our own individual selves. And we are that to them. Inside myself, I like to be firmly grounded though not locked down grounded. Grounded like a battery needs a ground. I believe I'm having an earth experience this lifetime, not an after-death experience. I've come to see the scriptures all over the world concern inner peace. This is what I've pursued all the way along without knowing to put it in these words. I believe I do have interior peace now. Maybe it is just the slowed mind of a certain age. Mind runs all the time, though without entertaining worries, fears, same thing. I'm not one of the white men my age bitching and griping all the time about immigrants. This is what I've lived my life in poverty for, inner peace. I'm glad in hindsight I followed the bird, glad I asked self the question earlier in the day what I've been moving toward.

victor vasarely himself


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Friday, September 19, 2014

VINCENT THE OUTSIDER


vincent van gogh

Am a little over a hundred pages into a relatively new biography of Vincent van Gogh, 2012, by two researchers who write very well. It is a thousand pages, enough to put me under. It's a paperback so big I can't hold it while reading with one hand. I stepped into it a bit uneasily, wondering how far I'd get in it before putting it down the last time. I've read a history of Africa that thick and a history of China that thick, and Tolstoy's War and Peace. It's not that I'm inexperienced with long books, just that experience tells me there comes a time in a really long book that I need a break. Reading War and Peace, I took a month in the middle of it, because I didn't want to finish it any time soon. Closing in on the end of it, I did not want it to end. At the end, I was at a loss. Couldn't read anything else for a month. After a long time of living in Tolstoy's writing, all other was so piddling, it's hardly worth the bother to read. I wanted more Tolstoy biographies, memoirs, letters. I even keep a National Geographic magazine among my books because it has a colorized photograph of Leo in it. He was some kind of wild man. In his younger years, he was military academy, fought in wars an officer on horseback, very well off and had a gambling addiction that took much of his land and fortune. He wrote stories that made him a popular Russian writer from the beginning. When War and Peace struck, he became a Russian icon. He was so beloved by the Russian people, even the Czar had no control over him. Anything the Czar might do to admonish Tolstoy for his independent minded writing would bring the wrath of the Russian people down on the Czar. His power would end that moment, which he knew very well. Tolstoy knew it too. The Czar could censure Dostoevsky and other writers at will, but had to concede Leo Tolstoy carried the real power in Russia.

vincent van gogh

It wasn't because Tolstoy was a great guy. He was not a great guy. It was his writing. He can create a world in your mind's eye that sees everything going on. I remember a girl dancing a mazurka to her uncle playing the balalaika. And I remember a wolf hunt, riding a horse, on the horse's back, the mane flapping. He put me on the back of the horse running all-out after a wolf with the wolfhounds leading. He put me on the back of a horse in Anna Karenina, running in a race on a dirt track. I don't remember his description of it, but I remember the feeling well. This was half a century ago. When I read his writing, I feel like I'm experiencing the apex of the human ability to tell a story. His characters come to life, live throughout the story and later in memory. I'm recalling the appearance of Anna Karenina. The man telling the story, a Leo Tolstoy sort of character, a version of himself, was standing before a painting of Anna Karenina painted by the Russian portraitist of the day, moved by her beauty which became universal beauty. A door opens, and Anna, herself, enters the room. The portrait was as nothing in relation to the living Anna Karenina. Tolstoy's long short story, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, had a moment that has stayed with me like a part of myself. When Ivan's spirit was leaving the body, he felt like he was sitting in a train at the station waiting for it to start rolling. He thought he was facing forward, and when the train started moving, he was going backwards. I pick up a book by Tolstoy, and that's it. Finish one, start another. I think I have just about everything he wrote, including letters, on my shelves. He was a major positive influence in my life. I think I picked up Tolstoy the first time inspired by the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Martin Luther King's non-violent protest movement referred back to Gandhi and Thoreau, who were in line with Leo Tolstoy, the first non-violent activist.  

vincent van gogh

I've jumped into a thousand page biography of an artist who has spoken to me over my time visually close to how Tolstoy spoke to me mentally. In some ways, for the same reason, in most ways not. I find "the same" in them that they both are making pictures of life itself. For me, van Gogh's images have the breath of life in them. I feel his painting as I feel Tolstoy's writing. I feel like van Gogh painting flowers was a search for how to show their living energy with paint on canvas. His faces have living, conscious energy. It is the spirit of life I feel like he is attempting to paint on each canvas. I'd been curious about van Gogh for most of my adult life. Irving Stone's writing did not hold my interest. I never paid van Gogh much mind other than appreciation of his painting. I never took an interest in reading the letters with Theo. Didn't even want to see the movie with Kirk Douglas from 1957. I must have missed it when it was new. That was the year of the move from Kansas City to Wichita, during which I missed a lot. It seems like a time outside time. Foremost memory of that time was two weeks before the move, Kansas City tv evening news told about a nineteen year old guy killed in Wichita by a motorcycle gang and left in a ditch. The Fifties was a time of switch-blades, rumbles, motorcycle chains, white gangs and black leather jackets. The Fonze was not even a caricature of that time. Time went by and I decided to see the Kirk Douglas vision of van Gogh, Lust For Life. Did not expect the movie to be anything other than something to get information from, a brief pop culture rendering. Big surprise. It was quite a good film, directed by Vincente Minnelli. By the time it was over, I realized I probably did not see it then because it was an "art film" not shown in mainstream theaters, the only kind I had access to. Or maybe I did see it and forgot it like I forgot hundreds of movies seen in the 1950s.

vincent van gogh

The film made from van Gogh's letters gave such a good depiction of his life, it felt to me that Kirk Douglas brought him to life. It was one of those art of acting jobs where it is Kirk Douglas standing in for van Gogh at the beginning, and by the end it is only van Gogh. Kirk Douglas became him early in the film. Douglas and Minnelli, together, made a living portrait of an artist who painted life itself. I remember arguments from high school years about whether he really saw what he painted. Like, did he really see the sky swirling in air turbulence patterns? Yes, and no. It was how he brought the air to life. He gave the stars the glow we see in them the best it could be rendered two-dimensionally with opaque pigments. So far, in his story, I'm in his early twenties. I've always heard he was insane or something. Though, looking at it from afar, it seemed like in the movie he fell into the place Nijinsky wrote his diary from. I'm curious to see. So far, he's no weirder than a nerd. He liked to take long walks in the country when he was a kid, a loner. AP Carter of the Carter Family took long walks in his boyhood, quit school because he was tired of being bullied as a nerd. Leo Tolstoy comes to mind reading this biography for the clarity of the writing and how the two authors bring characters to life in the telling. Every time I pick up the book, I fall right into it. This doesn't happen very often. It's almost like seeing it as a movie in my mind's eye. By age twenty or so I felt like I knew him, the person, felt like I understood what he was going through. He came from people who did their duty by church and by society, locked themselves into rigid roles. Little boy comes along, whose soul came from a very different experience, whose mind can't reconcile what school and church teach with how he was expected to act within very strict confines. He was born an independent thinker. Nineteenth Century Europe had no more regard for the independent thinker than USA today. He didn't get it, couldn't get it, couldn't fake it, couldn't lock on those chains. His story is that of an outsider. All he needed was understanding. As far as I can see, he never got it. William Blake was the same. He found his understanding in Kate. Van Gogh never found a Kate. 

vincent van gogh himself


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THEY CALL IT THE TOP OF THE WORLD

mt everest

Watched a documentary yesterday, EVEREST: 50 YEARS, a National Geographic film. The camera followed a climb by the sons of Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay, the first people to reach the top of the world's highest mountain, 29,029 feet above sea level, by one measurement. Another says 29,035 and another 29,028. Close to six miles up in the air. That's where passenger jets fly. To the local people of Nepal, Everest is the mother goddess of the world. Their name for the mountain is Sagarmatha. The Tibetan name is Chomolunga. In that part of the world, it is a sacred mountain. I appreciated the emphasis on the lives of the Sherpas who carry supplies in to the base camp and accompany climbers. I've seen several documentaries of Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions and have read a few accounts of climbers. I enjoy reading a climber's account of the ascent. None of the ones I've seen have paid much attention to the Sherpas but as beasts of burden. In this film, they go into the homes of a few of the Sherpas to meet their wives, mothers, family. The women spoke of their apprehension over their men climbing the mountain. Several have died. It's good paying work for money to get by on where money is scarce. Talking with different Sherpas along the way gave a sense of them as conscious, thinking human beings. I used to think Sherpa was the name of the occupation. Sherpa is the name of their tribe. Several tribes live through the mountains there. It just happens that the Sherpa tribe is in that territory. Others from different tribes are among the Sherpas in a climb. It is work that pays so well the men turn up in a big crowd to be chosen from. Edmund Hillary took an interest in the local population. Over a period of years he provided a large number of hospitals and schools. He provided them with foundational necessities they had little to no access to. 

mt everest / chomolunga / sagarmatha

Hillary's son, Edmund Jr, planned the climb with son of Tensing Norgay to scale the mountain on the fiftieth anniversary of the first to reach the summit. The chances of reaching the summit once a team sets out are slim. Weather on the mountain changes instantly and by surprise. Sometimes climbers have been caught in a blizzard with hurricane wind for a couple weeks at a time, stuffed into sleeping bags and the tent walls flapping like a flag about to rip from its pole. I've read that when climbers get trapped in their tents for a week or two, they never want to see each other the rest of their lives. They come out of it despising each other. Fortunately for the National Geographic project, the weather allowed the team to make it to the top. A time came when they were close they believed they would have to turn around and descend. One of the Sherpas was heartbroken. This would be his last chance in his life to go with an expedition to the summit. He broke down when the decision was made to turn back. He quit. He walked to base camp with intent to go home. He said, "I hate God." He was furious with God. It was his only chance and he wanted with all he had to make it to the top. His fury settled after a few hours, the storm settled and the team called him back. He went on and was one happy Sherpa at the top. The guide, Peter Athans, said he made five attempts before he was able to climb all the way to the summit. Hearing Athans talk about his experiences with the mountain that he knew intimately was one of the many dimensions of the mountain the film covered. Sherpas talked about the difference between the way they see the mountain and the how the climbers see it. The Sherpas are in the literal lap of the mother goddess. For them, the mountain is the holy of holies. They are in awe when they are on the mountain. They say the climbers call it a challenge, a struggle, a fight, though the Sherpas are at peace in the lap of the Mother.

a climbing route up mt everest

Edmund Hillary Jr appeared to be at peace with the mountain too. He grew up and spent his life with his dad working with the Sherpa people of the region. He knew and appreciated the Sherpa people as people with lives. I have to say that before this film, the Sherpas were faceless to me, like Japanese pilots in WW2 movies. I never saw them in the films in any way but carrying heavy packs on their backs like donkeys. White people all over the world tend not to take people of any color seriously as valid human beings. That's just the arrogance of whiteness, which we white people have in abundance. I saw that neither father nor son Hillary showed a trace of the arrogance of whiteness. They were privileged and used their privilege to help the Sherpa people. Edmund Sr climbed to the top with his Sherpa partner. Neither one has ever told which one set foot on the summit first. Hillary's attitude was they climbed the mountain together and they reached the summit together. He saw to it the white press gave Tensing Norgay equal attention for making it to the top. I don't know it, but would guess the two Edmunds know the language too. The documentary following the climbers, the scenes on the mountain, made a good film in themselves, but I felt like including the Sherpas like Hillary did made it all the more interesting. Seeing the people in their world talking about their lives added a great deal to the film for me. They seem like they are living the way people lived here in these mountains before electricity, a simple community of people who have lived there and among each other all their lives for many generations. Here, it's looked back on as the golden age, though nobody would give up tv, recliners and flushing toilets to go back, or move to Kathmandu. 

climbing up the mountain

Every time the camera focused on the Sherpa people, I was there, looking at true humanity in their faces, eyes and body language, from a golden age in our distant past in the western world. It would have to be all the way back to medieval times. Their religion, a form of Buddhism close to Tibetan, is clearly a religion of inner peace. I believe this is what makes them "inscrutable" Asians to us. The people of the Buddhist world value inner peace and stillness, which have no value in the Christian world, but in hymns. I was thinking I could learn something valuable living among the Sherpa people for 35 years. They surely have satellite televisions for ones who can afford them to watch soccer games, football there. I think it kind of follows that where you have a high concentration of people of faithful leanings, you have the opposite too, thugs, gangsters, bandits, thieves. The whole spectrum would be there. I wonder if places  high in spiritual vibration that draw the faithful would also draw all the different colors of the human character. I was guessing among the Sherpas that carrying a pack on a mountain climbing expedition was a macho thing for a man. It made him a good provider for his family. Much status in their village or town. On another level, these are the men who have been in the lap of the Mother, a high spiritual place to be. I had the impression that the climb for the Sherpas tended to be a meditation, what we call here a spiritual retreat. The Sherpas work together, camp together, pray together, support each other like family. They harken Prozac Nation to a gentler time of close-knit, tribal community that goes back for centuries where people really knew each other and lived their lives together. It reminded me about regarding my mountain sacred. Maybe I could hang some prayer flags about. 

prayer flags at the summit


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A POEM BY WALLACE STEVENS

bird in space
constantin brancusi





               OF MERE BEING


          The palm at the end of the mind,

          Beyond the last thought, rises

          In the bronze decor,


          A gold-feathered bird

          Sings in the palm, without human meaning,

          Without human feeling, a foreign song.


          You know then that it is not the reason

          That makes us happy or unhappy.

          The bird sings. Its feathers shine.


          The palm stands on the edge of space.

          The wind moves slowly in the branches.

          The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle 
                                                              down. 


                                        ---Wallace Stevens
                                            1879-1955



blue feather
alexander calder


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Monday, September 15, 2014

KESELOWSKI FINDS CLEAN AIR


jr peels out from a pit stop 

The race this Sunday at Chicago satisfied what I like in a race. No wrecks. Two fenders were crunched from a run-in with the wall, both easily repairable on pit row. A motor or two blew. I saw Joey Logana cross the finish line with a blown motor. He was around fifth heading for the line and the cloud of smoke appeared behind him that says engine blew up. He crossed the finish line dragging his smoke behind. No better place to lose your engine. Nobody was close enough behind him to have advantage from  his sudden loss off momentum. Brad Keselowski took the win. I've been watching both these drivers coming on with some solid racing this year. Logano is a good driver with a passionate drive to win. When he has the car to do it with, he can run out front, in clean air, as they call it. The air at a race track during a race is not anything near clean. The pollution is worse than London or Beijing, much worse. The aroma of exhaust rich with raw gas and the molecule clusters leaving all the tires at all times gives the air it's scent particular to a good race. An upside down bowl of intense air pollution hovers above the track, over the seating area. It's part of the thrill of the race. The volume is like at a good rock concert so you cannot be heard screaming into the ear of the one standing next to you. It is, indeed, that loud. The thrill is much the same as a good concert. I saw the Cars in the early 80s and did not need ears to hear it. The surface of my body vibrated like it was all eardrum. Great concert. A band I never had the opportunity to see, Rage Against The Machine, but have all their cds. The audience at a race I felt when I was in one, was ecstatic as a Jane's Addiction concert. I make these comparisons, because it's how I felt at my one live race in Charlotte. The ecstatic part is remarkably similar. 

joey logano quik tire change

I love the rush of a race so loud you're deaf to anything else and the intense pollution, the scent in the air we've known since birth. Before oil, it was the scent of horse manure in air. The aroma is the familiar scent we are so accustomed to we don't smell it, intensified ten thousand times. Or more. I'd rather watch the race on tv. None of those ecstatic aspects of the race come across on tv, but I can see the race better on tv. And it's a lot less expensive to watch. I can see the cars working for position, passing somebody difficult to pass. Brad Keselowski started the race fairly far back in the pack. I don't remember what kept him back there. All the while he was laying back, I was thinking I'd like to see him pass everybody and win. I knew he could do it. The crew might have been adjusting the car until they found the key. When it came time, he passed car after car, drove up to the front, passed everybody in the lead and left them behind. Clean air. I've been paying attention to Keselowski this year, simply because his driving demands attention. He does not mess around. With the car that will do it for him, he'll win the race. His team has put together some good cars for him this year. Kurt Busch was tapped by his brother Kyle just enough to lose traction. Kurt started into the sideways slide, caught traction and brought it back. Didn't even lose much momentum. His ability to catch traction has impressed me about Kurt Busch's driving for a few years. I've been watching the race enough for the last three or four years to associate drivers with their numbers in some cases. 


keselowski in clean air

Early on, I was just watching the cars. I figured all the drivers were about the same ability, and they are, but there is so much else involved. The psychology of the driver. The skills of the mechanics who build the engines, the suspension, the wheels, their abilities are also about equal. If any one of the mechanics involved in a race happened to be somebody I knew, like a neighbor, I'd be in awe of his skill, his talent, the same as an artist, Jasper Johns, an example. I'm guessing at least a thousand mechanics are involved in the crews of all the cars in a race, most often 43. Not including the pit crews, which are an entity unto themselves, like ants. I am told they practice all week long and work out flexing and strengthening themselves, keeping in tune. All the crews of mechanics and pit have their lead man whose mind directs the process that brings the whole together. The studio musicians and electrical engineers involved in pop music in Nashville, LA and NY, I see artists in the same way I see the mechanics involved with the race cars. The driver races the machine the mechanics put together, a precision machine made of computer engineering, You can see it when a driver has a car that is running just right. Kevin Harvick had a good car. He was a serious contender until Keselowski's momentum took the lead by outrunning everybody else and the one nobody could catch, until #2 turned up in his rear view mirror. Keselowski made some good passes. The race in the last hundred laps was a visible race. Half a dozen cars were taking turns in the lead. It was looking like Harvick might have it when nobody could catch him, before Brad K put his pedal to the metal. 

kyle larson blew his motor

All the drivers were giving it the best they had. Their cars were as good as they could be that day. So many of the cars were equal that it made a good race of one car dominating for awhile, then something changes and another car dominates in its turn. This race satisfied my idea of a good race. It was a race from the green flag on to checker. So many good drivers and cars, it looked like the win was up for grabs between half a dozen, depending on who was in front on the last lap. Then along came #2 and left the others in his air turbulence. In attendance at the track, I would not have been able to see the subtle strategies the drivers use for passing and for blocking while they're driving as fast as the track and the car allow, holding it there in intense heat and intense noise. I watch artistry in the driving the same as I watch artistry in a dancer. I call it artistry when it is a skill that has reached the place of using intuition, feeling, emotion in the delivery. Melvin switched the tv to football when commercials came on. It was so much better to watch football than ads for artery blockage stuff to eat, beautiful cars I can't afford and erectile dysfunction. Viagra commercials bring an association in my head of Lou Reed in his song Heroin, cause it makes me feel like I'm a man, when I put a spike into my vein. On one of the Viagra commercials I hear John Lee Hooker's guitar to the melody, I like the way you walk, I like the way you talk, I like the way you walk, you my babe, I got my eyes on you. The song is just right for the commercial and at once as racist as The Little Rascals. I laugh every time I hear it, but would rather watch football. Saw some good plays. Saw some good catches, some good drives for touchdowns. Good games today. Peyton Manning, quarterback with Denver, has artistry in his skill. I see him the artist as quarterback. The referee calls were good too.  

pit row


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