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Friday, October 31, 2014

LIVING FREE OF TELEVISION


photo by vada, 3

New weather hysteria. We have a forecast for possible snow, an inch or two, and panic is in the air. Oh no, snow! What if the roads are slippery? What if? Of course the roads will be slippery. And it will be cold. For a short time. The snow will be gone by next day. This county isn't even included in the forecast. I'd love to see a wet snow with colored leaves still on the trees. I've seen it once. The world is like candyland. Weather forecasting has become a bit over-frantic in attempts to make the mundane into something exciting for five minutes of tv space. Gotta keep it exciting like the news and commercials around it with jets shooting missiles into Middle-Eastern cities, death from the sky, somebody else killed by cops, another school shooting. The weather doesn't have a chance in the excitement department. Recent reportage predicted a few months ahead to another Polar Vortex, that span of really cold weather that swept over us last winter. Another report says there will be no Polar Vortex this winter and it will be a mild winter. I've heard several predictions that the winter will either be the worst ever or the best ever, nothing in between. Bipolar. Our news, itself, has become bipolar. They only run extremes. Good drama. I'm remembering the time in the hospital channel-surfing a tv with fifty channels. I'd hold each channel long enough to see what it was, two to five seconds, run through it once and turn it off. I am still stunned by how much gun violence I saw, repeatedly, pointing, threatening, shooting, shooting to kill. News was about killing. Entertainment shows were about killing. The evangelists today are even more obvious frauds than the ones in the time of Tammy Faye and Jerry Falwell. Pat Robertson goes on raking in free money tax-free pontificating ignorance. 

by vada

Television is the American dream. I look at it and see what everyone around me, the people of the world I live in, are dreaming, tv shows focused on killing and fraudulent religion. Pizza dripping strings of cheese up close. Fast food. One of my rules of thumb for a good life, like stay out of Walmart, is don't eat anything advertised on tv. On Sundays, watching the race with Justin and Melvin, and football, and basketball, and baseball, and golf, and hundreds of commercials, I'm in a foreign country. It is not my world. Everything is coercion, you must buy something. You must look a certain way. You must have fun a certain way. I could not live with that hysteria in my house telling me what to buy, teaching me money is the only value. The False News channel has recently won a federal court case allowing them to lie legally in their news. Surely, this is to protect them from lawsuits for false reporting. It's not like they were waiting for permission. I'm glad I early voted. The political ads as false as Ann Coulter I pay no attention to since voting. I don't even hear them. Kay Hagan the democrat I can't tell from a republican. And the republican parrot Virginia Foxx. When I see her possum face I want to say, Knock, knock, is anybody in there? Not my world. I had the displeasure in the late 1980s to sit at a dinner party next to the head of the NC democrat party. He asked me how many children I had. I wanted to say, How many books have you read? I discouraged him from trying to talk to me right off. I felt like I died and went to hell. I did not feel at home. My world does not include people who ask me how many children I have, pretending to be interested in what I have to say. I knew before he started he was not interested in anything I had to say, and I wasn't interested in how many children he had. 

by vada

It was an interesting peep-hole into a world completely separate from my own, a world I did not want for myself. Something like television in that way. Made me glad I was not born into wealth as I regretted in childhood. Throughout my life, I've wanted to know as many different kinds of people as I could, from poor to rich, ignorant to brilliant, crazy to sane, different cultures, different countries. My reading is from all over the world. Recently been through about ten years or more of reading about China, history, fiction and poetry, seeing films and art. I'd waited a very long time for China to open up and let the rest of the world see their contemporary writing and art. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sparked my interest. I looked for more and found quite a lot more. Raise the Red Lantern, The Hero, Shanghai Triad. One led to another, finding writers at amazon. In a short number of years I learned China's history, the whole story of Maoist China from the revolution to the post-Mao era. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the expanse of desert in China. I've seen parts of it in films, looked at it in the Atlas. It's serious desert like Australia, perhaps even more. Not even Aborigines could live there. Some of my favorite poetry is from Old China, Li Po, Po Chu Yi, Tu Fu, Han Shan, One of my favorite books in the house is Sunflower Splendor, a collection of Chinese poetry printed in the early 1970s. It's a desert island book. Interest in China expanded to interest in Mongolia. The great wall of China was built to keep the Mongols out. They were that much of a problem. Mongols raided northern China regularly. The Mongols could not be defeated, and one of the wonders of the world was constructed to wall them off. 

by vada

I've not done anything notable with my life, but I've had a rich life of the mind, which was the only thing I wanted all the way along. I knew from the start I wanted to live remotely and alone, to follow my own interests. So much I was curious about and one thing led to another. By now, I have a fair to moderate understanding of the history of the whole earth. Persia is a gap. I have little experience with Persian history and writing. Some of Persian history is in the Old Testament. Persia was a powerful force in the Old Testament part of the world, and had some interesting kings. Their religion, Zoroastrianism, is one of the world's great religions. They are called Parsis in India, I've checked out a netflix documentary about Persia that was interesting, a good starting place. There is one king, in particular, whose life I'd like to read about. If my imperfect memory is functioning, I think it was the first Darius, the Great. He sounded like a good ruler. One of the rare ones in human history. I sent off for a DNA analysis a couple days ago. I'll be curious to see all the parts of the world my DNA went through. I feel like I spent some time in Mongolia. I'm curious to see the African lineage. I've an idea Africa is where most of it will be. Cultures all over Africa are unique unto themselves. The music from different parts of Africa are unique to their culture. Thomas Mapfumo's music from Zimbabwe is very different from the music of Chaba Zahouania from Algeria. My curiosity encircled the globe down through time. I don't know a great deal about any one place, but have some familiarity with almost every place on the globe. I don't know much about Greenland, though recently met a woman who had lived there. She told me about the landscapes inland seen from a plane. This is how I entertain myself while the people around me watch television and buy new cars. My life is so much richer for bypassing television. I've not had time to watch television. Too much interests me to waste a lifetime on hyper-violent, mind-numbing eye candy. 

vada herself


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LEARNING TO PLAY


A new project is taking me into a new place with cardboard and wood. This one is four sides instead of just one side. It is eight and a half inches tall and five and a half inches each side. This block of wood has been in the house for several years. I found someplace and kept it with the some-day-I'm-gonna collection of found things I'm looking to use up before my last day. I don't want who cleans up after me to throw them away. I have feeling for the beauty in each object such that now I want all my future art objects to be made from the found things. The plywood pieces I'm gluing cardboard to are pieces I've found over the years with a mind to painting on them. The cardboard is found too. I'm surprised at how many I have, and continue to find more. I had in mind I wanted to make a few small ones too. I found two small pieces in the house among the collection. This block of wood I'm working on now has been here possibly fifteen years. Its dry. It was excess, cut off the end of a six by six found I have no recollection where. It was aged when found. I have no concern about it drying further and developing new cracks. It has cracks from drying out, which is ok. I don't want cracks to occur after the project is finished. I've made a base for it to stand on from a block of wood five and a half by five and a half, an inch and a half thick. On top of it sits another block of wood an inch and a half thick, three and a half by three and a half inches. Both blocks of wood I found the exact size they are, at different times. They fit as if I'd cut them to size. The two blocks are held together by wooden pegs. The big block of wood will be fixed to the base by two wooden pegs. I'm looking at painting the base black. The big block I aim to paint a deep dark red not quite maroon; red enough it will be seen as red.  


Red is a color I have shied away from in the past, though now I want to make some beautiful red things. Red has moved in on me. I like red now like never before. I've always liked red, but never wanted to use it much. It seemed like an arrogant color in the past. It doesn't seem like that at all now. Possibly some years of seeing Chinese films, reading Chinese fiction and history, paying attention to contemporary Chinese art, I've learned an appreciation for red. Red is as important a color in China as the color combo red-white-and-blue is in USA. Red goes all the way back in the Chinese aesthetic. I tend now to associate the color red with Chinese art, an Eastern aesthetic. I already have a Western aesthetic by a lifetime of influences from European and American traditions, all of it based in Christendom. The Eastern is based in Buddhism. I see the two religions the same as they teach the same universal truths. Only the different cultures they represent make them different. At the core, they are the very same. I tend to see everything outside the core superficial. Only the core matters to me. I could go from one religion to another with no more problem than a Methodist visiting a Presbyterian church. I could go to a Buddhist temple and pray with others there, the same as I can go into a Muslim mosque, pray with the worshipers there and feel at home. Hindu is a beautiful religion, but there, again, only the core is of interest to me. I'd be interested to learn about the various gods and goddesses and the texts, though with the same interest as I'd read a history of India. My personal preference is to have it as I have it now. No religion. Only the core. I live with that core, the core that is the same in every living being. It is the very deepest part of who I am; it is my consciousness, the self who sees my dreams. I carry that core with me wherever I go, even to the liquor store. Like the Rastafarians say, I am I. 


That's where red takes me now, to balance of east and west in myself. One of the aspects of what I'm doing now that excites me is I see the Eastern aesthetic blended with the Western. That I'm doing single colors now is Eastern as it can be; Chinese, Japanese, Korean. It's also Western, particularly American. Everything I've done heretofore has been totally Western to my eye. I've wanted to get the east-west balance in my painting, but was not satisfied I had. Because I didn't have a warehouse to keep unsold paintings, I felt it important to paint for the people of the world I live in, rural Americans, Appalachian Americans. About ten years of portraits of mountain musicians. It came to feel like coloring books, keeping it inside the lines. I wanted to reach into the abstract in a way that the simplicity itself is what's abstract about it. On the plane of one color, the raised cardboard surface becomes subject, or positive space, while that around it becomes negative space, in one color. If the light is coming from above right, the light makes a light line along the right side and upper line of the rectangle, and shadow on the left side and lower side, two sides light and two sides shadow articulate the rectangle. For me, that line is the subject. This block of wood will have some interesting lines on it. I'm loving playing with a four-sided version of what I've been playing with on a flat surface. This feels like the first time I have felt like my art projects were playing. I feel like I'm making music finally. All the way along, it felt like every phase I went through was a leap beyond the last one, each one a stair-step process of learning by doing. It's like I've been learning chords, songs, techniques, the art of making music. Suddenly it all came together, ceased to be work and learning. Now I'm playing.
  

I have relaxed. I wanted to make something of my own aesthetic that is no one else's. To get there, I threw off thoughts of selling. I don't care if somebody likes it and don't care if somebody doesn't like it. I'm reaching inside self to find my own aesthetic without interest to please anyone outside myself. I was looking for something wholly my own. It started with a simple design that went simpler and simpler. I want to shave the object down to its own core. Like I don't want any kind of dogma to sour my faith, I don't want anything in my art object but its core self. I like using paint for color and for its textures. Putting the two levels of the base together with pegs, I used the smaller block to drill holes in first and use it to guide the drill bit for the peg holes in the larger block and in the bottom of the big block of wood. I was pleased with myself for doing it so accurately. I measured and drew lines, had it just right. The big block sat on the base at about a thirty degree angle off from what I'd planned. It's crooked. I have not been able to figure out how it happened. It's simply how it is. Everything about it looks right, but it's way off from what I saw initially. However, I want chance to have a role in everything I do. I read this as a chance occurrence out of my control. I received it as Divine intervention and said, Thank you. It makes everything just a bit askew, suggests the big block is turning on a pivot, gives a retinal sense of motion, gives it lightness. I like it. I thought for a split-second of drilling new holes, and said, no-no-no. I must receive the touch of the Divine when it is given. My mind is still unable to figure out what happened. It will look so much better. It will look like I meant it. The element of play is now established in it. The corners lined up, it would have looked like a wooden soldier. Now it is a dancer. 



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Monday, October 27, 2014

LOVE IS ALL THERE IS

barnett newman

I want to write all night. I also want to be able to function at least by noon. I want to write to you so bad it makes me want to stay up. The clock has just passed Cinderella's curfew. That's no concern to me. I'm not waiting for a pumpkin on wheels to save me from myself. Not my story. In the time when I was young, inexperienced, stupid and lonely, I hoped to fall in love with somebody who would save me from myself. It never happened. Fell in love a few times against all signs that said: don't go there. Only found turmoil of the mind and disappointment. My pumpkin on wheels turned up empty; it wasn't really love, but fantasy. I didn't know anything about love. Finally, in 1975, Meher Baba tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention and taught me over several years how to save myself from my ignorant mind and befuddled heart. He set me in the direction of finding I don't need somebody to save me from myself. If I can't find how to get in line with myself on my own, assigning the task to someone else isn't going to work. It's only real when I can find by my own searching why I think I need saved from myself. I can't trust myself? Experience tells me my mind can make up a lot of ridiculous fantasies. It's only real when I can find in self how to transcend my ignorant self by tuning in to intuition, allowing higher self to have a say in my decisions, become acquainted with higher self that seemed dormant before I saw to rational and emotional satisfaction that God Is. That was all I needed to know. I'd always been told, but never had any conscious experience of God that I was aware of. The God I grew up with was Fear. It took Meher Baba to point to the words of Jesus, God is love. By way of intuition, I already knew it, though it had been buried under a mountain of dogma, the diamond in a coal mine. 

barnett newman

I could not have found it on my own. In my years of searching for whether or not there is God, I could not see past religion. Religions convinced me a real God would not allow religionists to do to fellow human beings and the living creatures of the earth as has been done continually in multiples, like the German Christians embracing fascism in the 1930s, like American Christians, today, embracing fascism. I've never been able to reconcile God supporting fascism. It doesn't compute. Fascism is about hate. God is not in it. I could not see, before, that God is not in religion. Religion is of the human mind, not God. I missed it before Meher Baba convinced me God Is, and God Is Love. Simple as that. The preachers start qualifying: Yes, except for...Yes, except for.... God hates the sin and loves the sinner. The only thing I can say to that is bullshit. Love does not hate. The so-called sin gets balanced by karma. It takes care of itself. God doesn't need to be concerned with it. Karma automatically keeps us in balance. As for God as judge, love does not judge. I see no reason to explain. It's simple language. Love is not about controlling. Love is about allowing. There is no except. Love allows us to find our own way, make our own mistakes, learn from our own experience. Control does not allow the individual to learn from ones own experience. It's called doubting. Doubting is a sin. God doesn't approve. Really? Love can't stand up to questioning? I found God by doubting the mountain of bullshit that had accumulated in the barn of my mind. I was led to believe the same nonsense the television hypocrite evangelists dress up God in to fit the confines of their own limited intelligence and knowledge. Like old man Tom Pruitt said of them, they're just makin a racket.

barnett newman
who's afraid of red, yellow and blue?

In my own personal vision, if it's not about love, it's not about God. What's so frightening about love? I think of abstract expressionist, Barnett Newman's painting title, Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? Alas, it was slashed in the modern art museum, the Stedelijk, in Amsterdam, by an art reactionary. He was evidently the one afraid of red, yellow and blue. Destroyed it. I'm grateful I had a chance to see it when it was living, about three years after it was painted. My response to it was to stand back and look at it for a long time. I walked up to it on the left side and walked the length of it, almost but not touching it, feeling it, walking the length of red from the vertical blue line, feeling the expanse of red all the way to the vertical yellow line. I wasn't aware that I felt anything special, though there is a memory of experience sensing Barnett Newman, himself, in his two-dimensional environment up close to it applying the paint. His presence was the only notable feeling, presence in so intangible a feeling as to make me wonder if I felt it or thought it. I take it that feeling it made me think it. My feeling about the slasher is he could not handle such an expanse of one color being called art. It was a gesture of control. Perhaps the painting became for him a symbol of modern art being out of control; modernism, itself, was destroying art. Perhaps he felt vulnerable in the face of Newman's effrontery. Perhaps, too, among religionists the word love has a great deal of vulnerability associated with it. We can't let down our guard in this world. The devil's watching you in his cross-hairs. You needta be afraid, braced against, just braced against. I recall William Blake, Damn braces, bless relaxes. He, too, had issues with preachers who skirted around the subject of love, a word too charged with carnal associations for comfort in the control department. Control does not allow. Control is about zero tolerance. Jesus or Hell. 

barnett newman

According to my mother's preacher, I'm not afraid enough of Satan. I couldn't say anything to that one. I knew there was nothing I could do or say. I don't care if they think I should be very afraid and live in fear because God wants me to be afraid. In my way of seeing, God wants for me that I not worry, thus be happy. I can't talk with anybody who demands I believe and think their way. This mind is what spit me out of Kansas as far as land allowed. They can have their Satan all they want. I confess to concern they want Satan a little too much for my comfort. Makes me uncomfortable talking with my mother, who always brings up Satan and dwells on Satan, talking to me like a preacher wanting to convince me, for my own good, to be like them. Been there, done that, not going back. Didn't buy the tshirt. When she told me I'm not afraid enough of Satan, stressing it with, "You better think about it," all I could say was, "I'll leave Satan to you." I feel sad for her. I'm not looking to control her, so I allow her to adore a preacher who tells her to be afraid. She dragged me through that mud all the way through my school years. I'm free of it. She wants it, she's got it. I don't want it. It's why I'm a thousand miles away. On the telephone, when it gets crazy, I can say, "We're not going there." She's learned that I think independently from Fundamentalist dogma, and she will never let it rest. She bred one as relentless in not hearing it as she is relentless in needing to say it; it's her duty to keep in the front of my mind that I am wrong and headed for an eternity of hell fire. Lord have mercy, how did I get here? Remembering the coal mine of fundamentalist hymn book theology I ran for my life from. Literally ran for my life. We talk on the phone across a divide much greater than a thousand land miles. Love is never an issue, except, the great except, at the end, the duty I-love-you. We have very different meanings for love. Hers is to control; mine is to allow. I learned young never to browbeat anybody for any reason. It's just ego talking. I reject control; she rejects allowing. We're stuck. I feel sad for her that she alienated her first born, but all I know to do is allow it to be what it is. An old hillbilly saying comes to mind, it is what it is.

barnett newman


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

PRETEND AND THE EGO



Something is changing on the inside again. My painting has changed radically in the snap of a finger. Haven't painted in a couple years. The zeal just fell away. Every time I take a break for a few years, which always occurs from boredom doing the same thing over and over, I take up painting in an altogether different manner from before. I've made a leap from figurative to abstract, minimalist. I decided to put out of my mind all thought of selling, thoughts of naming. I wanted to find my own aesthetic without regard for what might sell. I took the punk path. I want to express my own aesthetic. To express it, I needed to find it. I wanted to make something totally mine, according to my own visual aesthetic, without regard for anyone else liking it or not liking it. Minimalism is my favorite period of the Modern era, abstract expressionism too. My art aesthetic is particularly American. Now that I have found my own sense of self-expression that is for myself alone with no ambition to sell, it quite naturally falls into the minimal and the abstract. Something like the place Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly fell in between the two. Each one of the new pieces I find I love more than anything I've done before. There was a time I wanted to do figurative and loved it while doing it, but they didn't quite satisfy what I really wanted to do, abstraction of some sort. I'd thought about selling things before, making them accessible to the people I live among, considering my environment is not urban, but rural, where individuals matter. I wanted to make portraits of individuals, particular individuals, people I know. I only painted people I know. 

7

Now, I don't want to spend so much time painting details. I prepare the surface, then slather on the paint like stucco, one color with palette knife. I like it. It pleases what I want of a work of art. I've actually adopted the punk sensibility into my painting. Punk is doing what you want to do that is your own individual expression, explaining the varieties of hair colors and styles of apparel on punkers. Punk's philosophy is be who you are. Punk as a style has been going on forty years. It was 1975 that I heard my first punk album, Patti Smith's Horses. The show I saw in Charlotte around a month ago of five hard core punk bands lit up my love for punk rock, punk attitude. I've come into a place where I only want to be around people I connect with. I saw a film this afternoon, a documentary about punk graffiti artists who evolved into galleries and museums. It was called Beautiful Losers. Punk attitude ran through everybody featured in the film. I felt I connected with the different artists, with what they were doing. I felt aesthetically free. I loved my new direction with paint all the more. In a way, they were doing what I am doing, just totally different. Also in this time, I'm finding less tolerance for the fake and don't care to be around fake people anymore. What do I mean by fake people? The climbers, the people who see themselves in terms of the asset hierarchy, people whose center is in money and the appearance of money, fickle, people whose identity is in appearance. People a good first impression is important to. They're always disappointments later. They make a pretty package, but when you look inside, it's empty. 


It feels like I'm shifting gears again, turning away from some and towards others. I am letting go of the people I am expected to be cool around. Gotta act cool. Talk cool. Be acceptable. Conform to the social standard of appearance. When Vada is in my life, I don't need somebody around who keeps track of my cool quotient. With Crystal and Justin, I don't have to perform. With other friends, Melvin, Harry, Ross and Zack, Lynn, Carole, Donna, Milly, there is no judgment going on. We all receive each other as we are, dark side with the light side. I'm moving away from people I cannot talk freely with, people I feel the need to self-edit for. Five years of writing these almost-daily journal entries brought me into closer touch with self, better understanding. The writing has become a meditation. I speak freely here, considering whoever looks at it is free to read it or not to read it. When somebody doesn't like what I write, they're free to stop. I've begun to feel that way around others. They're free to pay me no mind. And I'm free to get up and go. It has not always been like this. There was a time I believed it was necessary to make a good impression, conform to the code. Always in uncertainty. Am I cool enough? Am I dressed right? Yesterday's experience with a positive thinking tron showed me the difference between how I am now and used to be in the not very distant past. Then, I'd have tried to show I think positive too, that I'm really a nice guy, know not to say taboo words, a sensitive New Age guy. Now, I am overtaken by an itch to get out of there, away. Instead of unsuccessfully attempting to rescue a dead conversation of niceties that went nowhere, I let it go and ran. By now I've learned that when a song starts out bad, it's not going to get better. 


I feel freer talking with people I don't know than ever before, even freer talking with people I know. Something else that changed recently is tolerance for the fake, for PC. I'm free now when the fake comes up to say to self, I don't need this, and get out of it. I'll stay away from the coffee shop, the vortex of white middle-class pretend. Any way I look at it, there is not a lot of time ahead for this lifetime. I am more jealous of my time than ever before. I don't have time for pretend. Balance is what I'm seeking now. The balance of opposites in duality. Looking at balance, the bad balances the good. Good is not the spiritual path. The good must be balanced by the bad. Acting sweet all the time is not spiritual. Being nice all the time is not spiritual. I'll define what I mean by good and bad. We call it good behavior when the karmic return is to our liking. We call it bad when the return is not to our liking. Pretending to act without ego motivation just backs the ego up like a lake behind a dam, makes it into a powerful force. I am not free of ego, nor was meant to be. I feel like, for balance, it's best to let the ego have its way, its say, in moderation, controlled, not suppressed. Diminishing the ego is the Master's role, not mine. Mine is to live with it, work with it, not against it. Meher Baba said our ego is our ballast, the rocks kept in the bottom of sailing ships for weight to keep the ships upright. The ego keeps us upright in this world of duality where every kind of challenge awaits us, emotional storms, uncontrollable storms bigger than us that come by surprise. I'm zooming in on the shift I'm feeling within having to do with ego. I've been feeling strong ego need for expression over the last few weeks. I don't try to stop it or slow it down. I let it flow, while paying attention, directing it to something constructive or creative if I'm able. I like to get to know my ego. My goal is to mindfully direct the ego rather than let the ego direct me. 

photos by tj worthington


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Saturday, October 25, 2014

DRAWN TO BALANCE

robert mangold

Today I participated  in the great American delusion. Voted. And laughed at myself. I only did it because the republican strategy to inhibit voting by non-republicans tells me there must be something to it or it would not be so important to republican strategists for me not to vote. Politically, I am an anti-republican, not a democrat. The only politician in DC I have any use for is Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, Socialist. He is the only one who speaks for the American people. The democrats suck up to the rich just like the republicans and support the rich for their favors. I can't afford to call a politician and say I want certain legislation passed and you'll have your reward. I cannot afford freedom of speech. I felt like the local elections were somewhat important. Democracy works somewhat on the local level. I vote to vote against republicans. Only. Just to register one unit saying no to the politics of ignorance. My mind returns over and over to CIA director Casey saying in 1981, "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believe is false." The CIA's disinformation program is complete. This makes it easier every day for me to live in the world, not of the world. In town today I stopped in the coffee shop for a pound of coffee, saw someone I was happy to see and we engaged briefly in conversation. It wasn't long before I learned I'm expected to talk as if I'm high on Zoloft, everything is pretty, everything is lovely, PC to the max. I encouraged the end of the conversation first chance. I found my spirit is gone from the place. There's no place for me in there anymore. The right people have found it. It's too PC for me. 

robert mangold

I'd rather watch the race with my friends who cuss and drink liquor and smoke cigarettes and laugh at Rodney Carrington humor. After half an hour in the coffee shop, I'm anxious to get with friends for the race Sunday to wipe off exposure to political correctness in its most objectionable form. PC is so incredibly fake I've become intolerant of it. It has been so many months since I've exposed myself to the politically correct ones, the ones who say all the right words, and if you miss one, you're out. They're acting like they're on tv, editing themselves of words not acceptable on television. I take my mental remote and click the power button to off. I'm on the verge of becoming assertive ignoring PC in my language. It's like everybody is a preacher's wife. I used to find them funny, but now I find them severely tiresome. I suppose I'll have to let my taste for Ethiopian coffee fade away. I always have to settle for Kenyan, anyway. Kenyan is just as good, but I prefer Ethiopian. Can I get it? No. I don't like the vibe in there now. It's a vibe of correctness. You have to dress right, talk right, like in a Sunday school class. If political correctness is evidence of being a liberal, I'm not a liberal. They make me ashamed to call myself a liberal. I don't want to be in that company anymore. My friends and I don't judge each other. It's not easy to be in an atmosphere where I'm judged for how I speak. I attempt to speak clearly, but that's not good enough. I don't walk the PC tightrope; therefore, I'm out. I may check one of the other two coffee shops in town to see if I can get some Ethiopian coffee for home. 

robert mangold

The grocery store has some Starbucks coffee in bags, though Sumatran is the closest I can find to what I want. French Roast I've found fairly close. Maybe I'll go back to drinking tea like I did before discovering Ethiopian. Coffee shops are a middle class culture thing, and I am not of middle class culture. If I'm going to give myself over to walking somebody else's line, I'll go to church. It was a strange experience today. I went by Gill's Jeans n Things for a couple pair of sweat pants. Gill and I talked for at least an hour. I enjoy conversation with Gill. He is an intelligent guy with a great range of experience from India to Hong Kong to San Francisco to Sparta. He came here about five years before I did. Married a local girl who was in San Francisco and she brought him home. Gill has been a great addition to the community. We had lively conversation, no judging going on between us. It was especially notable to cross the street after talking so freely with Gill for an hour and feel judged the moment I walk in the door. The atmosphere is so correct. Attempted to talk with someone I'd wanted to talk with for some time, and came away disappointed. PC to the max. Beyond word correctness unto tone of voice correctness, to subject correctness, the list grows longer. I catch myself wanting to say something outrageous like, I'm the lowest down emeffer you'll ever meet. Not my scene when I'm thinking such thoughts. I want to stand up and rap all the forbidden words multiple times apiece. From there, I went to the voting place and made my anti-republican stand. I felt like a subversive at the voting monitor. After filling car with gas, I spent some time not being judged, then spent some time being judged, and went to vote in a state of balance. 

robert mangold

I'm at a time in the life when patience for television mind is dim. I find myself withdrawing from people who live by a checklist of rules and turning my attention to people who are simply themselves with no pretense of being something they're not, just people living our lives. I was overwhelmed somewhat by positive mindlessness. So positive. I was sitting there thinking, balance is what I want, not sweetness and not gloom. I want to be free to flow with positive thinking when I feel it honestly, and go with gloom when I feel it honestly. I'm not afraid of gloom and depression. I've found my times of depression in the past have been very active in learning about self, fulfilling know thyself. I've found that grief lasts six months. It's painful and I don't like it, but I also don't mind it. When a friend dies or a cat dies or a dog dies, I experience grief. I don't shy from it. I embrace it and go with it. I feel it honestly, so I allow it. I never deny it. I still miss Tar Baby every day, five years after. I hope there is something to meeting departed loved ones on the other side. I want to see all my dogs and cats again, and all my friends on the other side. I have so many dear ones over yonder, it makes me anxious to get over there with them. I was spoken to the other day, in a non-judgmental way by a friend, about how casually I talk about dying, leaving the body. I supposed he never knew anyone so casual about it. I couldn't explain why. It's just an attitude that comes from scriptures that know the secrets of life and death. I see the moment of passing out of the body something so wonderful there is no looking back. First, freedom from the weight of carrying this heavy body. I imagine it like carrying two heavy suitcases for hours and finally putting them down, letting go of the handles. What a relief it must be to rise from the body like smoke from a cigarette. I see more and more the saying from Paul, Death, where is thy sting? Sorrow is for the ones left behind. I tell my friends to feel no sorrow for me. I'll be going Home. Nothing to be afraid of. I've come to like it in this world, so I feel no hurry. It is what it is.   

robert mangold himself


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Friday, October 24, 2014

THE ROLLING STONES AND JEAN-LUC GODARD

brian jones, keith richards, mick jagger

Today's movie was by Jean-Luc Godard, Sympathy For The Devil, the Rolling Stones in a recording studio like they're working toward recording it. Sort of. But that wasn't what they were doing. They were hanging about with headphones on noodling with parts of the song. Keith Richards sometimes was playing a bass and sometimes rhythm, playing chords and short runs from the song. Brian Jones playing rhythm with headphones on. Charlie Watts played complex rhythms on drums from the song. I watched anticipating Mick Jagger singing the beginning over and over in slightly different ways was working toward a recording session toward the end. It felt like it was creeping toward pulling the different parts together. That would be the American way, but not the Jean-Luc Godard way. In the Godard way, we have a parallel story / non-story going on in a junk yard next to the Thames in London near a bridge, crumpled car bodies stacked all around. Some black men passing assault rifles around, one reading some pages from Eldridge Cleaver's Soul On Ice, posing as black panthers, talking revolution. Somebody goes about the city with a spray can writing things like CINEMARXISM and FREUDEMOCRACY on walls in the city. In the junk yard spraying cars with names, STOKELY, MALCOLM. A black man talking revolution to two young black women reporters pretending to write what he was saying, standing around posing. A jet plane flies over low as on its way to a runway from time to time. Scenes of old men buying books in a small used book store, paying for them with a Nazi salute. And more scenes in the recording studio, Keith sitting on the floor, picking some simple riff on his guitar, Bill Wyman shaking a percussion gourd-like thing with pellets against Charlie Watts' drum rhythms. 

keith richards

The recording studio had vertical square panels on wheels to make portable walls. Mick Jagger sang "please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and fame," several times as though looking for just the right way. The band stood around playing small parts of the song. One time the band was sitting around in a sort-of circle getting ready to play, waiting for Keith and Mick, who were talking, though we couldn't hear what they were saying. We just watched them talk with the band waiting. In the studio the band never completed a playing of the song and never performed the anticipated recording of it. It amounted to watching the band hanging in the studio during what appears to be a recording session. Outside at the junkyard, talk of revolution, reading revolutionary writings by black panthers, passing assault rifles from black man to black man. There is purportedly some revolution action, perceived danger, going on off stage. The junkyard scene is like a stage setup. The studio scene with the band is also like a stage setup. The small bookstore, too, was like a stage setup. Old white men and Nazi salutes. The film was made in 1970. It was a time of black panthers carrying guns in Los Angeles, black panthers writing from prison, Pop culture had revolution in the air. All the bands recorded their mandatory revolution song. The Stones never pretended revolution, though gave it the nod. Revolution was in the air, but really no more than a pop culture trend for a year. Paris had its 1968 revolt the same year Godard made this film. 

the revolution outside

Antonioni's film, Zabriski Point, was another European film interpreting American and English pop music revolution. It seemed to me at the time the European directors were looking to see if the American pop revolution might succeed like in France. They didn't know FBI was in charge. As with the Occupy movement now, protests and demonstrations made headlines then, and that was as far as it went. Once it was on tv, it's purpose was fulfilled. It was comic today, 45 years later, to see the black actors strut like black panthers on stage, talking revolution without conviction, posing. This is the great Godard quality, the people posing. They gave the film a John Waters quality, whose Pink Flamingos was new a couple years later, using people who are not actors to play the roles, read a paragraph from Soul On Ice. In the bookstore a guy dressed in purple walks back and forth reading from a book about revolution. The one with the spray can writing words on walls, cars and sidewalks, MAO, STALIN. That part was European. I especially was struck that a film made in London, in English, by a French director, had that French je ne sais quoi. Night before last I saw a French film made by a Polish director that did not have je ne sais quoi. Like the French film made by English director Joseph Losey did not have it either. And tonight an English film by a French director with je ne sais quoi. I felt like Godard was juxtaposing inside, recording studio playing Sympathy For The Devil over and over, and outside, black men in revolt. 

the graffiti artist

I felt about Godard's interest in the Stones that he was making a film that showed the Rolling Stones in a recording studio situation, having short jams, little more than sitting and standing around with nothing to do, passing the time while the film crew ran the cameras, aware the young of the world wanted to see the Rolling Stones. He recorded them just to see them, the Rolling Stones in person, casual, not in concert, not recording, just interacting with each other somewhat, keeping a rhythm going throughout. They never broke out into making music; they just kept a rhythm generating throughout the filming sessions. In hindsight, I'm suspecting they had a contractual agreement such that if they played a full song, it would have cost the film studio more than their budget would allow. They were often picking guitars with simple runs, no Rolling Stones licks. It was low key, little more than hanging in the studio while the film crew took footage of the guys in the band sitting around, standing around, smoking cigarettes, Brian Jones was living in the time of the filming. The netflix sleeve dated the film 1968. A copyright notice at the end of the film said 1970. Jones died in 1969, so I have to go with 1968 the year of the filming, or maybe release. That makes it the year of the French 1968 revolt that actually changed something. The Stones were the band of the moment that year. It was the year lsd swept across the nation. Godard's film is little more than just video footage of the Rolling Stones with nothing to do, posing. Racial tension and Sympathy For The Devil. Rich white guys in the studio singing about wealth and fame, black guys in the junkyard talking revolution. 

the movie poster


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

IT EXISTS FOR ITSELF


air bellows outdoor art museum

My automatic pilot has been set on slow today. Real slow. Unto stopped. Started out getting a few things done, like preparing two new surfaces with gesso toward painting, and viewing videos from the Hillbilly Show toward putting them together in sequence. Like everything else in my life, I'm proceeding not knowing what I'm doing. An artist friend from the past told me he liked about painting that every painting is fresh, he's never done it before. Every painting is first time. Always starting from inexperience. Figuring everything out along the way, a step at a time. It's constant learning that doesn't seem like learning. It's learning by doing, by experience, the best teacher. I like that about making art objects, too. I'm working on a series of abstract, single color surfaces using plywood with a piece of corrugated cardboard glued to it, the whole surface one color. A little earlier, I mixed a color I like for the next one, a kind of rust color. If I were giving them titles, I'd call it Entropy. I'll number them rather than name them. I don't want to make up names for them, like Marakesh, something that sounds pretty and has zero connection to the piece. I'd rather number them as completed and let the number be the name. I don't like Untitled for a title, either. Numbers are good. The word Seven for a title of something unnameable beats calling it Portofino, something exotic. The number has relevance to the piece in its order. I want to see the progression from one piece to the next and see after twenty how they have changed, each one a step along the way of changes from one to the next. 

5 by tj worthington

I like painting like this. It is akin to painting by not painting. I was feeling like figurative painting was like coloring books, painting inside the lines. I live in a place where there is no art market. No matter how nicely I try to make a painting, it only exists for itself. That's cool. I'm happy with that. Since this is the case, the painting only exists for itself, then I want to paint in a way there is no chance anybody will buy anything, even at yard sale prices. Wouldn't want one on their wall. At least in this time, I want my paintings to have no interest outside myself. I don't want them taken seriously. I want to do what I want to do right now, totally without regard for even feedback. I've become enchanted with a single color slathered on with a palette knife in random swipes of the blade leaving no patterns. The only pattern is the shape of the the plywood, so far rectangular, and the shape of the cardboard glued to the board, so far rectangular in different sizes. The raised cardboard piece takes a life of its own, a line of light around two sides and a line of shadow around the other two sides. A rectangle of light and shadow framing the painted cardboard that becomes a subject just by the association of being framed. I like the surface of corrugated cardboard too. I lay the paint on thick, use a large amount of paint, slashing strokes of the palette knife all over it, spreading the paint with only purpose being covering the gessoed surface without aesthetic consideration. One progression I'm seeing already, the first ones were done in basic colors, and quickly changed to mixed colors. I found a rust color today and will apply rust color to the next one I lay the paint on tomorrow. They're about color. I search until I find a color I love. That will be the next one. 

6 by tj worthington

Perhaps I might have made this leap out of everything I'd done before, that's for sale into making things I don't want to sell. When I do a show of them, they'll all be NFS, not for sale. That eliminates thinking up prices for them. Or maybe I could do something radical like put ten dollars on each one. Wouldn't that be a riot. Some actually might sell. And all the artists around would hate me for setting a new low standard. If I want to get rid of them, I might do that. And I might not want to get rid of them. Might want to hang onto them, keep the series as a unit. That's kind of high sounding. I don't want to do that. I haven't even finished the series, so I'm not even going to conjecture what to do with them. Their purpose is to make works to my aesthetic satisfaction with intent that only a few will like them and of these few, none will buy one. I may have found it. Totally private painting, something I want to do that turns me on, and me only. Surely they will resonate with a few others, and that's how I would want it. NFS eliminates the aggressive statement as question: You want money for that? No I don't want money for it. I want it to exist as itself, something I made for myself that suits my aesthetic sense without regard for anyone else's. It's the only way I can find my own aesthetic expression. All that went before led, like stepping stones, to this place. I don't like the art market world. I am looking for my own aesthetic vision independent of marketing values, independent of expectation, independent of it being called a piece of shit. This is the most freeing approach I've found working visually. I've let the belief I needed to sell things hold me back from doing what is happening now. That's ok. Everything in its time. Now is the time for painting totally for my own eye. 

4 by tj worthington

I have found great freedom in writing by keeping this almost-daily journal as blog going without regard for market, for selling it, for hoping to make money. It is for itself. It, too, exists for itself. I feel like my life exists for itself, is not about money. Seems like my visual aesthetic expression is best and freest done when no money is in the purpose, even anti-money the purpose. I see in the mind's eye the Air Bellows Outdoor Art Museum, the tunnel that goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway at the end of Air Bellows Gap Road. Completely free expression for the teens in the county who want to do some spray can graffiti art someplace. It has been several years of layer upon layer of new additions sprayed on top of what's already there. It has become a beautiful experience to drive through. I creep through, looking at both sides. I love about it that it has no single mind creating it. It is multiple mind input, spontaneous markings saying, I-was-here, hundreds of them sprayed on the collage of other people's markings made without aesthetic regard, random colors and lines covering every square inch of the surface. I see unselfconscious random splatterings. A conscious mind applying each color and line, while the whole has no theme but the individual markings made without regard for others around or under them. A totally receptive surface. It just happens as it happens. Every drive through it, I discover new shapes and lines in new colors. The only art gallery in the area and it new every time, changing, growing, organic, just one mile from where I sit. I like where my visual art is going with no intent to sell. I like writing almost daily with none of my motivation being money or to get ahead.   

air bellows outdoor museum of art
photos by tj worthington


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UNCOVERING DESTINY



In recent weeks and months I find self assessing the past in new ways from how I saw a time when it was present. I see a pattern the details fit into, when before, I saw the details like puzzle pieces strewn on a tabletop to be gone through looking for interlocking parts. I could not see the patterns or the flow that ran through the progression to make the completed image. I don't remember a time when I wasn't curious in the back of my mind what my destiny might  be. By now, I have lived my destiny, whatever it is. To find out what it is, I can look at now. I am living it. From here, it looks like the one desire that has run through my whole life has been to live quietly and peaceably, not have somebody telling me how wrong I am, I need to make more money and live in a suburb. I look at the life I have as the life I created for myself by my own will, determination, letting go and allowing "chance." In this time of the life I have found my flow. When I allow the flow, things work out, timing works sometimes perfectly. Possibly, this has been  my destiny, to find my flow. It's been my destiny to live in a mountain holler in the Blue Ridge, the mountains I remember seeing in National Geographics, blue with orange sky. I've seen those mountains many times by now. I am in the blue mountains. When I saw pictures of the Blue Ridge in childhood, I was seeing my destiny unawares. One great motivation along the way has been to contribute the very least possible to the Military Industrial Complex, the corporate world, the belief system that money is number One. I don't know where it came from, possibly past lives, but I have never wanted to train myself to be an automaton just to have money and a country club membership. I'd rather drive off the end of the earth like Thelma and Louise.   



I suspect that basically my motivation was to get away, away from where I am. I wanted to get away from Wichita, from Kansas. The momentum stuck and there came a time I wanted to get away from Charleston and South Carolina. Came to North Carolina mountains and spent several years wanting to get away from here. Finally, I caught on that the wanting to get away momentum was about wanting to get away from parents, their ongoing passive-aggressive war with each other and overtly-aggressive war on the kid. Their example made me vow to self I will never marry, will never live like they live, will not allow myself to be a corporate pawn. I would live in a peaceable atmosphere without television. All the time living in Charleston I had a longing for the mountains with no idea of why. I wanted to write about the mountains, but had no experience. I like to read accounts of Himalayan climbers. I read about them with no desire to try it. I accept it is something I could never do this lifetime physically, and have no interest in doing mentally. I have no desire to climb to the "top of the world," mainly because it is not. There's no oxygen. I can go to a place I can't breathe in a swimming pool. The people that climb those mountains have their own motivations. My motivation has been to live quietly in peace, frugally, alone with a few pets. I came to the mountains on my spiritual path or pilgrim path, whatever. I think of it simply as my life path. By spiritual path, I mean living by the way of the spirit, the Tao, the flow, in tune with my interior life. I could not live seeing one way on the inside and conforming to another way on the outside. A lot of people can do that. It's the path to money. A lot of people cannot do it. These are the people where I find my friends. Birds of a feather, a universal law. 



I've never wanted to make my way walking over the backs of the working people. I came to the mountains with some lines from WB Yeats in my mind from his poem, Among School Children, where all ladders start, in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. The foul rag and bone shop of the heart is where I have wanted to live my life. It is one way of looking at my destiny. It is what I have wanted for myself. Another way of saying it, I want to live close to the bone, simply, very simply. More and more simple has been my goal. By now, it's about as simple as it can get without living in a tent. My momentum in this lifetime has not been so much toward something, but away from. I went away like an arrow pulled back as far as the length of the arrow allows, and let go. It's actually somewhat difficult to live in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. Now that we the people are in the cross hairs of police state, I'm all the more glad to be outside society. At the same time, rural America is an awfully vulnerable place to live. In economic downturns, the new tv word for Depressions, rural America goes under first and stays under. It's somewhat difficult to live with, but rurally, people take care of each other in hard times. Community comes together in hard times. So I've taken myself off the ladder to any kind of ambition or success at the start, have never stepped on the first rung. In the Navy, I never made one step in advancement. I wanted to come out the same rank I went in. It was my way of saying no to fascism, militarism. They could force my body, but not my mind. Childish? Maybe. It was serious business at the time. I was already done with authoritarian rule by threats. By the time the Navy was over, I had completed my debts to society. Got married and served my country. Got unmarried and out of the Navy, and I was done. From this moment on, I was on my own, made my own decisions, nobody telling me what I'm gonna and not-gonna do, except the boss at work. 



That weekend between the Friday of leaving the Navy and Monday of starting school on my own was the chopping block moment. All that went before, ended that weekend. All that went after, started that weekend. It's been my attitude toward work that an employer holds over me and operates with the right to fire me. He often doesn't realize I have the right to fire him. I worked for a surveyor for a time who took it to be his right to berate and talk down to me, like he did everybody who ever worked for him. I told him I took that shit when I was a kid. I don't take it now. And walked away. I didn't need his minimum wage. I could work for minimum wage someplace else. When somebody with power over me thinks it's time to give me a cussing to nail their power into place, they'd best go into it intending it be the last time they see me. That's the moment they lose the power I gave them the illusion of for minimum wage. Minimum wage does not buy a whole lot of power-over. I'm a stubborn Taurus, I'm happy to say. My stubborn ways have kept me out of a lot of entanglements I don't want for myself. My spiritual path is my everyday life. I have learned that the spiritual path is more about being a benefit to others than going to church. I mean by being a benefit to others, being spontaneously available when someone near at hand suddenly has a need I can help do something about. Mountain people are generous when it comes to helping ones in need. I take all my relationships with friends to be spiritual relationships. The people I know have a great deal of value for me. I automatically, can't help but see everyone who comes into view a soul in a body and mind. I never see their clothes as anything but a costume like a benign Halloween costume, a costume of style and rank. I interact with the person inside the costume, body and mind. Seeing the people around me so, retains them as a part of the path, weaves them into my experience of my path. It's in relation to others that we have either a good life or a rotten life. How I treat others is how they treat me. That, too, is part of my path. 

meher baba


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE SOUTH


gary parlier and bobbie parlier
the hillbilly show

Just now had a rush of emotion from out of the blue over how much I love the Southern people, the people of the American South, the people I've lived among all my adult life by choice. Knowing what I know about the South, and who I've known in the South, I could not live outside the South. Looking back to early influences, I don't know where my interest in the South came from. In third grade I read a child's biography of Robert E Lee, not so much because I wanted to know about him, but I wanted to know about the South. This would have been about 1950 when the South was known for magnolias, moonlight and Spanish moss.  I had not seen any tv before then, we didn't get ours until 1950. I had seen several movies with my grandmother. She liked Betty Grable movies. I was enchanted by Susan Hayward, which probably had to do with mommy, and later, Claudette Colbert. More than likely saw some Southern images in those late 40s pop sentimental movies I saw with grandmother, going downtown on the bus to a movie theater. Big deal when you're four. Perhaps was carried away by a Southern romance scene with big dresses and Confederate uniforms, the moss hanging from the live oak trees. From a working class neighborhood in Kansas City, it was otherworldly, someplace else, a kind of Shangri La for a city kid with no experience. My feeling is the Robert E Lee book might have been the spark that deepened whatever interest I already had from post-war Forties movies. Betty Grable of the million dollar legs. The South had a mystique for me all the time growing up. The mystique associated with Gone With The Wind and the Solid South, the Dixiecrats. I knew nothing they were about except they didn't like authority, either. The closest to a goal I had was to get to the South, feel it from the inside, live deep inside Dixie. First time I drove across Mississippi, I felt like it was a foreign country. Mississippi had no billboards then. I don't know about now, but it was unforgettable to drive through a state with none. If I had not gone to South Carolina, I'd have probably gone to Mississippi.

hillbilly wes
the hillbilly show

It's not the Gone With The Wind South I fell in love with. I don't care about the mansions and the plantations. I love the Southern people, the people you see at a George Thorogood concert, the people you see in the crowd at a Nascar race, the people hanging out at the river around a campfire, pickups parked nearby with doors open and all radios on the heavy metal station. The South is a culture of poverty, in Depression for a century after the war that I still have issues with Jefferson Davis over, for letting go ahead. Going into the war, the South did not have a chance, not even an imaginary chance. Possibly, too, I had a sympathy from mother's milk for the underdog. Maybe I felt sorry for the poor Old South the Yankees beat down. In fifth grade, a civil war cap was something every boy in school had to have, like a Davy Crockett hat a few years before. All the guys had Yankee hats, but I had a Rebel hat. This was Kansas, just a few miles north of Jesse James and Cole Younger country, and not long after. I loved my Rebel hat. I was disappointed there weren't others with Rebel hats, but wouldn't put a Yankee hat on my head, not even to see how it fit. In 1952, age 10, Yankees were already my enemy. I lost my Rebel hat one night when daddy took me to see Battle At Apache Pass, starring Jeff Chandler as Cochise. I loved the Apaches then, Cochise and Geronimo my heroes. The crowd was packed so tight with some coming out and some going in, my hat was knocked off my head by somebody's shoulder, it fell to the floor and was trampled to death. I couldn't pick it up and it was gone later. I loved about the Apaches that they stood up to the white man to the very last, like the Lakotas of the Plains region. Cochise spoke Confucian truth such as, White man speak with forked tongue. It's fairly obvious I had a problem with authority young. I was a defiant child on the inside. Didn't dare express it on the outside. All authorities said no.   

jackie maines
the hillbilly show

It was the Hillbilly Show Saturday night in Sparta that set off a welling up in the heart, adoration of the South I've been feeling today. From outside the South, it's seen intolerant, racist, mean-spirited and largely stupid. All these apply, but no more in the South than in the North and West. Neither Michelle Bachmann nor Ted Cruz is from the South. Cruz is from intelligent Canada. Both are racist as you get, mean-spirited, intolerant and best known for stupid; they're not from the South. Neither is John Boner. Stupid is universal. So is racism. In all my time in the South, I've had friends who are not racists, white friends who marched in demonstrations for black civil rights. A good percentage of Southerners do not fit the cliche mold as seen from the outside. When I'm outside the South, I find the people tend not to like Southerners for all the South's negative cliche associations. I'm reminded of a prank video I saw on facebook. A man with a sandwich board on front and back on a busy sidewalk in New York. It said, Fuck the Poor. Everybody that passed had something to say to him, either aggressive or passive aggressive. Sometimes it was threatening. Next scene, he's standing in the same place and his board reads, Help the Poor. Not one person looked at him. All went around him like he was a post in the middle of the sidewalk. Not one even cast a glance. All were preoccupied. I see the outsiders pointing the finger at the South over racism and slavery, what you white Southerners done to them poor black people, aggressive tones of voice. When it comes to helping the poor people of the South, black or white, the dregs of a century-long Depression, everybody looks the other way. Switch the channel. Of course I know racist people in the South. I know even more people who are not racist. Sure, there are some ignorant Southerners going around. I don't know but a few. It's just people being people, people with a common culture I happen to love. 

lynn worth
the hillbilly show

I saw a wonderful sense of community at the Hillbilly Show in the people on the stage and the people in the audience. The people on the stage were the same people as in the audience. Home town people, people who still have the old ways in their soul. In Alleghany County, as in Charleston, you can be who you are, do what you do, just don't make a spectacle of yourself, whatever your agenda. Keep your agenda, whatever it is, to yourself and we all get along good. Everybody knows what your agenda is, anyway. No need to bore the people around you repeating it. Whatever it is, it's ok, it's yours. There is little like walking into a hardware store and being called Honey by a man who is not gay. He's just talking the old way that some people still carry. In my life in the South, there is no other place on earth I'd rather be. In the South I live with a very personal warmth between people. All emotions are stronger, it seems, in the South. You fall into hate with somebody in the South and it's on. Falling into love is equally powerful. It is a warmth in the heart I find characteristic of Southerners, an open, receptive warmth. Mama is the goddess of the South. Paula Deen is a good model of the Southern middle-class, upper-class wannabe, white woman. She's not objectionable. She has a Southern charm that can sweet-talk her man into buying her anything she wants. My kind of people is really every kind of Southern people. Southern culture has a warm heart. It goes back to mama calling her chubby little boy Butterbean. And maybe it's that old Nineteenth Century belief in the sanctity of the individual that continues to live in the rural South. A Nineteenth Century religion possibly has something to do with it too. It's possibly the Nineteenth Century remains in today's South that drew me to the South subconsciously. I've never really trusted Twentieth Century Progress. Now the Twenty-first Century is dismantling the Twientieth Century back to the Nineteenth, and I don't trust that either. Oh well. I set out to write about the Hillbilly Show. I think what I wrote is why I love the Hillbilly Show. 

ernest and agnes joines
the hillbilly show


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Friday, October 17, 2014

VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN THE NEWS


The news has become so objectionable with Ebola as something to fear, another in the never-ending list of fears we cannot live without, I can't listen anymore. It's either proving Obama is the cause of Ebola or proving he is not. Cops kill unarmed people across USA daily, yet we're expected to trust the police state and fear a disease that killed one. Fear Isel or Isis, whichever. Fear immigration of poor people of color. It's kind of Old Testament, fear the Lord thy God. I was raised in that paradigm, fear the Father, fear God, fear the Law, fear Church, fear parents, and be hysterically afraid of Satan, cause he's gonna getcha if ya don't be afraid enough. Love was never an issue. Of course we love, cause we're s'posed to. That's understood. But fear comes first in the s'posed-to list and love is last, down there with no consideration at all. The fundamentalism I grew up in, the same as is purported to be Christian now, was all about fear and nothing about love. Love might be misunderstood by the "common" people to be carnal, and that aint it. So we don't go there, while the preacher is screwing this one and that one, saying, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. The nonsense quoted from fundamentalist politicians is so ridiculous, I can't believe he or she is so free of embarrassment. My estimation of politicians has hit rock bottom and is furiously drilling a hole to take it deeper. Confidence in a politician, a fundamentalist, a cop, is not possible in me anymore. These three have shown themselves incapable of rational thought, which I already knew, but denied, looking to allow for exceptions. Never found any. 


Remember a short time ago the preacher in Kansas screwing a teenage boy to cure him of his homosexuality? Remember the tv evangelist, Jerry Lee Lewis's first cousin, Jimmy Swaggart, he of crocodile tears on tv, who went to whores to peruse and sniff? Talk dirty to me, baby. To touch makes it a sin. Making the people two-fold more children for hell than they, themselves, is not a sin. Nor is hypocrisy. It's tradition. And to complicate the news further, it's election time. The Supremes recently ruled, predictably, lying in a political campaign legal. News? Really? Insurance against lawsuits for republicans. Now white man militias in cammo, carrying assault rifles, are talking of intimidating democrat voters at the polling places, black and tan people, women, profiles, anybody that looks like a Ay-Rab, or appears to be of an IQ above ten. Of course, white men would be free to pass, How y'doin, Bro? In my very most jaundiced thinking pre-1980, I'd have never guessed this would be the nature of the fix we're in during the course of time when everything that never worked became policy. Only thing the news is telling me: This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin through. I had no idea back in 1961 when I turned my attention away from television, how just that separation would separate me so definitively and so distantly from the world I live in. We who read books are the tiniest minority of all, unworthy of notice politically, unfit for consideration socially. I tell myself the absurdity "out there," in DC and Raleigh, is not my world. I don't believe in the entire system anymore. I have no confidence in Capitalism, no confidence in religion, no confidence in police state, no confidence in voting. The Supremes nipped what little confidence I had in voting. That the republican party goes to such ridiculous extremes to inhibit anti-republicans from voting, it makes me think there might be something to it.   


Before 1980, I voted against the worst of the candidates. Only found one to be for in my long history of voting, and he was crucified. Carter. Since 1980, I vote to be one digit that says, I want democracy. Voting has been my act of protest in police state. I know my vote  has no value outside myself. One party or the other, like Ralph Nader said of his direct role in turning the election over to Bush-Cheney, the losers, "the republicans will get us there first." Both parties are marionettes of the billionaires club. The democrat politicians like to pretend they're not in it for the money, we're here for you, while the republican campaign approach is fuck-all-y'all, and it works for them. The entire American political/economic system needs to break down entirely to restructure. As in construction, you want to put up a new building in the place of an old building, the old one must be taken down. Democracy wasn't real democracy before the word was used tongue-in-cheek, anyway. Considering the absence of value in my voting to the point that I fool myself in the act of voting, whatever the justification, I must vote. It is too important to the republican party that I not vote. Like I told the country club woman who said, I bet you voted for o-BA-ma, He's a sharp stick in the republican eye. When I take a moment to vote, it will be motivated only by an opportunity to be a sharp stick in the republican eye, albeit a minuscule grain of beach sand. I doubt the militias will actually appear at the polling sites, taking it for a propaganda sound-bite using the news to inhibit black people from making the effort. I don't even care anymore. I care about like I care who wins a football game. The game was amusing to see, but the outcome is the same, whoever wins, another game tomorrow night. Even though I see it for this is how an Empire crumbles, like reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, witnessing history in action, it continues to be distressing. Better to stop listening to the news than to start a Zoloft addiction.  


I wonder how republican politicians think up the stupid things they're saying, and it doesn't take long to find the answer. The Heritage Foundation. The politicians are scripted to appeal to the ignorant. Considering half the population is below average, they have 50% at the start. Strategy. I cannot participate in this belief system, can't listen to it anymore, don't even want to see pictures of the cast members. I've come to a place where I feel envy toward my friends who pay no attention to the news, don't vote, have never heard of Ted Cruz or Ann Coulter, unaware that democracy is over. At the same time, I'm grateful that I've followed our political system unto my own disillusionment. Disillusionment equals enlightenment. In my enlightenment, I look out the window and see my world, the world I live in. I look around this room and see the world I live in. The donkey meadow, the trees of autumn, a nice day with door open, recent paintings drying, Caterpillar outside lying in a patch of sunlight, the ground drying a little bit after five days and nights of rain. The fog that accompanied the rain made my world into a wonderland. Today, the sunlight makes my world into a wonderland, too. I can't see wasting my attention on the intentionally false when a fly just now flew into a spider web in the window's corner, the spider tying it up using Wonder Woman ropes, and the fly broke free. I am that fly. I broke free of the paralyzing power of the false. It has been amusing along the way, but amusing in a dark way. I am pulling my attention inward to my friends I care about who care about me. I will read in the life of van Gogh, paint when I feel it, write in my journal as blog, watch films from around the globe, read the columns of Chris Cox in his new book, The Way We Say Goodbye. The vacancy left by extraction of the false will fill up immediately like the hole left by my hand when I pull it from a bucket of water. I will vote because I believe it is important to vote as an American citizen, whether I believe in the political system or not, just to be a sharp stick in the republican eye.  

photos by tj worthington

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