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Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE DAY I MISSED THE ROLLING STONES

marisol

A couple days ago a dvd from amazon arrived in the mail. Rolling Stones concert 1975. It was the year I rode to Jacksonville from Charleston, a couple hundred miles in August to see the Rolling Stones. My neighbor and friend, Chip, came into two tickets and asked if I wanted to go. Rebel yell: Hail yeah! The Stones filled every major football stadium in the country that year. It was the apex of mega concerts, concerts so big the performers on stage were like colorful ants standing on their back feet. Didn't matter. The sound was dynamic. A Stones concert in that time was the very height of rock n roll as it had evolved to that year. It was also the year punk started in London, NY and LA. I didn't know it until the next month. The show on the dvd was LA in July. I saw this was a new release, had a good price on it, and I wanted to see it. I saw Thelonious Monk at the Bohemian Cavern in DC with Charlie Rouse in 1963. Not many years ago I found a 2cd set of the same concert tour recorded in LA at the It Club, 1962. It was wonderful to hear it. I'd totally forgotten what I heard that night. Hearing the recording was brand new. The show was after the release of one of the great albums in jazz, Straight No Chaser. I did see Monk, but failed to see the Stones. The reason why is so subjective I haven't told it; it's something I don't feel comfortable talking about. This morning on the phone with my friend Carole, I told her the experience, and this far away in time, forty years, it didn't seem as disorienting as it did at the moment. We rode to Jacksonville in Chip's Volkswagen bug he worked on himself and kept in good running condition. 

marisol

We arrived, parked, walked half a mile to the stadium entrance, went in, took our time milling about, walked onto the field up close to the stage to see the mechanics of it, neither of us being down-front guys, and we walked around in the stands looking for a good spot for visuals and sound. We picked the opposite end of the bowl. The place filled up around us and the Florida sun shone down upon us. The place filled in a short time. We waited. Some recordings were played on the sound system. People on the ground were playing beach party, blankets on the ground, beach balls bouncing around. The day went on and the day went on. The sun turned from friend to enemy. I had thought to wear long sleeves and a straw hat that went all the way around. I knew it would be hot, but had never experienced the Florida sun to know how hot it can be. People packed in tight all around. Shoulders, backs and arms turning red, burning bad. I saw several people who had passed out from the heat carried out on stretchers. I saw a guy walk up the aisle who had a Neanderthal face with big brows that hung out over his eyes obscuring them in dark shadows. Creepy. There came a time the beach party was over, everyone on the field quiet, in place, not moving. Nobody was moving throughout the whole place. It became eerie. I saw the people around me cooking, their faces twisted in pain. The Atlanta Rhythm Section came out and made some noise. They sucked. They didn't move anybody. They didn't connect with the music and totally did not connect with the crowd. Another band played, Paul Butterfield, again no music, just noise. Rufus came on with Chaka Khan in firetruck red pants and long sleeve top, wearing a red Indian headdress that ran down her back to the floor; eight or so feet of it dragged the stage behind her. She was dynamic. Their music soared. I was a Rufus fan; didn't know they'd be there.

marisol

Between bands it was wait in the heat a very long time. People streaming out of there carried on stretchers. I fell into a zone of suffering. It became like a desert. We had thought to bring a bag of grapes and some water. I came to a place where I got with self and asked, Would you go through this for God? At the time I thought I was a nonbeliever. My answer was, No. To which I said, If you would not go through this agony for God, why the hell are you doing it for the Rolling Stones? It was becoming obvious the Stones would not play until after dark. The sun was a long ways from the horizon. I did not believe I wanted to be carried out on a stretcher. I wasn't there for that. It became too steep a price to pay to see the World's Greatest Rock n Roll Band. Who gives a shit? So they're the best there ever was. So I'd been hoping for a decade to have a chance to see the Stones. I was feeling a very dark energy in the place, very dark. I was feeling the stadium was a ring, a circle with all these thousands of people in it, drawn by the magnetic force of the dark side. A time came when I felt like I had a choice; stay where I was and receive whatever darkness was going on there, or get out of there, away from it, whatever it was. A time came when to stay any longer became worship. I did not go there to worship a commercial enterprise, a corporation with their own private jet. I wasn't worshiping God, so why worship a rock band just because I like their music? That's not enough for me to worship. If I'm going to worship, it has to be something verifiably worth it. The heat grew more intense. I knew I could not make it til dark sitting in a ring of fire. I told Chip I was leaving. He was not expecting that. I told him to stay where he was. I'd find highway 17 and hitchhike home. He couldn't let me do that. I couldn't stay. He decided to leave and drive me back. 

marisol

I stood up and wiggled my way to the aisle walking over feet. At the stairwell opening I came face to face with a cop. He was looking troubled. I stopped and spoke to him, saying, Something is going on here that I don't like. He saw it too. We spoke of what we saw, both of us tearing up as we looked out over the crowd where nobody was moving and nobody talking. However many thousand twenty- and thirty-somethings still and quiet as stone. I told cop I had to get out of there and he concurred, it's the best way to go. Under the stands in the big walking area nobody was walking, a few people on the ground leaning against the chain link fence. I felt like I was in a Calcutta slum. Chip had no idea what the cop and I were talking about. He didn't get my Calcutta reference. A Krishna kid approached to me in his orange gown and little pony tail sticking out from a shaved head. I asked where the exit was. At that moment I needed to be outside the circle. Once through the gate I was free. The Krishna guy told me the Stones are not where it's at, come on over here with us, we're just inside the gate. A little gathering of them singing and playing spiritual. I told him nothing inside this circle is where it's at. Y'all are inside the circle. You're not where it's at. Went through the gate and nearly danced in the parking lot. On up the highway we thought to turn right and go to the beach to see the sun set. It was getting big and incredibly beautiful like I'd never seen it before. We made it as far as a marsh at a state park area with a road. We found a place to watch the orange-pink ball sink into the marsh at high tide coloring all the water passageways through the green marsh the pink of the sun. Farther on, arriving at Charleston well after dark, I wanted to go to Folly Beach and lie down in the water, feeling like I'd been in the desert. I went under water, let the water wash over me and everything I was wearing, even held the hat under water to soak it. A tiny light on the horizon I took for a fishing boat and idly watched. It grew bigger. It was the tip of the new moon. I watched it rise up into the sky. I felt like the cosmos, the heavens, were celebrating my decision. A month and a half later, I learned to satisfaction that God, indeed, is. I watch the Stones concert this many years later and feel like I missed nothing. 

marisol herself


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Friday, November 28, 2014

THANKSGIVING THANKFULNESS

vincent van gogh

I did Thanksgiving twice yesterday. It serves as a measure of the thankfulness in my mind over the last few days thinking about the importance of giving thanks, gratitude, appreciation. It is a social day of seeing friends and family all over the land, for some a happy day, for some an unhappy day, according to the individual's experience from birth on. I used to think it an unhappy time, many years ago. My later years are so much better than the early years, I hardly ever think about the early years. Dwelling on them for even a short time brings me down. They were years of depression without recourse, something on the order of hands cuffed behind my back, being assaulted by a cop and charged with resisting arrest. Like when you're up against a cop in court, you lose, nobody believes a child and children are property. What a long, drawn-out time of the long years of childhood, waiting to grow up and take charge of my own destiny, for better or worse. In the teens I would lie in bed at night and fantasize hitchhiking to the West Coast, get a job on a merchant ship going to Asia, leave the ship, walk to Tibet and never return. These were the years Tibetans were leaving the homeland for India to escape the Chinese invasion. The kid was unaware of news of the day outside looking at Time magazine for History class, current events. The rest of the world amounted to a fantasy in my head after movies and television. By the time I saw Rome, I'd seen some Fellini films. The whole time there, I was looking for it to be like a Fellini film and it was not. He was showing movie stars. What I saw was regular people like we see everywhere. Rome did not have the aura of sophistication Fellini films suggested in my mind. I wondered how he got La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 out of Rome. 

vincent van gogh

Walking on sidewalks among Italians, cars and scooters in a free-style race on the streets, Rome fell from its place as idyllic city in the clouds and crashed into everyday life. Scenes were not framed, but went all the way around. The streets in Fellini's Rome were mostly empty of motorized transportation. Rome of everyday life had so many cars and such frenzied traffic the dream cloud Rome went poof. I'd heard the English were friendly and polite. That one went poof in London. It's like meeting a writer whose work I really love. Suddenly, he or she turns into everyday life and the glitter of my projection falls to the floor. It's a similar feeling with times like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. So much supposed-to is around all of them that anything short of supposed-to, like everyday life, drains the glory out of the day. I noticed yesterday when the dinner was over, it was like Thanksgiving is over, similar to Christmas being over when the last present is opened. From then on it's waiting for the day to be over; daddy's home from work, hunker down and stay out of sight as much as possible. The kid had a happy nature, wanted to be laughing and having fun, but a light hearted attitude made the kid a target. Depressed and shut down, the kid was safe. Through the high school years on Christmas vacation from school, I'd come down with flu first day and recover last day, feeling cheated out of my vacation, but sick in bed the kid was safe. I really don't want to drag you into that place. It created an attitude toward life, hand-in-hand with Fundamentalism in its most absurd extreme, I could not live with out in the world among other people. I've spent my adult life adjusting my attitude toward life, raising it from anger and depression a step at a time, understanding by understanding, insight by insight. My sanity I knew lurked hidden way down deep within locked away for safe keeping. My Hope diamond in the safe deposit box. Uncovering it became the purpose of my adult life. 

vincent van gogh

Essentially, I had shut down my heart that became so wounded I withdrew it from further disappointment. I was told once I was like a cactus, don't get too close. I suppose it was a defensive attitude and possibly a charm to some who would be challenged by someone they can't reach emotionally. The only thing I knew for sure when I went out on my own was I could not and would not live the rest of my life like parents lived. I would not live bitching at a partner, nor being bitched at. I carry this today. When somebody starts bitching at me, that's it. If I were one to believe hitting solved problems, a few people in the past would have been knocked to the ground. Having learned to internalize my anger instead of expressing it, I get mad, then depressed and never want to see so-and-so again. And don't. I don't disrespect anybody and do not tolerate being disrespected. This goes back to early conversations with self, "I'll never take this shit the rest of my life," sealed with determination in the heart. I've walked away from four jobs, that I can think of, over disrespect. At the moment. Didn't wait two weeks. The first time I said, "I took this shit all through my childhood. I don't take it anymore." The other times I failed to explain. Once it's done, it's done. There's no going back. No matter who it is. And I don't have a problem with it. I'm glad I think enough of myself to weed my immediate environment of people who believe they have a right to disrespect me. I remind self, "I don't go back for seconds." An employer who uses his right to fire me as a threat, forgets, or never thought of it, that I have a right to fire him. Rights run both ways in my adult life, or not at all. I came to the mountains to retreat into semi-solitude and live my life in peace. I am devoid of time for people who believe they have rights I don't have or power over.

vincent van gogh

This explicates why I am not a success in business or anything else that pays. If gulping down disrespect is good for making money, I don't want the money. Money is not worth that much. I sometimes think, in certain parts of big cities you can be killed for disrespect. I don't give disrespect, consciously. I can't say I don't because I don't know. Consciously, I cannot allow myself to be disrespectful, but unconsciously, I can't say. I have a way of saying something unconsciously to somebody I meet the first time, something I really should not have said. I've come to see it is a way of saying I'm not somebody you want to know. I've trimmed my social time down to the people I care about who care about me. In this time of the life, I have neither time nor space for superficial acquaintances. Which brings me to Thanksgiving dinners. I had two. In both cases people I care about who care about me. First one, 2 to 7, was friends here from somewhere else,  comfortable company, great food. The second, 7:45 to 12:30, was my friends from here, my hillbilly half, equally comfortable, equally great food. All day long I was thinking how wonderful this is, a Thanksgiving dinner in each of my worlds. I embraced it as such, enjoyed each gathering in the moment every moment. When I say people I care about who care about me, it feels like I mean a flow of empathy both ways. We feel safe in each other's company. Safe unto rescue in a time of need. Good vibrations flowing. Frequently, I'd pause within to take a look at the moment and think, I'm thankful for this. It was representatives from my two worlds that I'm like a bridge between, except nobody uses the bridge to go one way or the other. I felt thankful that I've learned to be equally comfortable in these very different cultures. It was about twenty-five years crossing the bridge between the two. I felt continually thankful to see self at home in both my worlds, that I have wonderful human beings for my friends. 

vincent van gogh by himself


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKFUL FOR DONKEYS

jenny sez gimme carrot

jenny sez thank you

This time to think thankful brings forward the obvious, the first thing to come to mind. As I look at one, another comes to mind and another. I look at one of them and others pop up. It gets so complicated I don't know where to start or even what to say, except to make a list. Not going to write a list. Caterpillar comes to mind first, every time I look at the question. Jack and Jenny are up front, necks stretched over the fence, reaching with dexterous donkey lips for a chunk of carrot. Jenny says, Write about me, write about me. To Jenny I say, Easily done, beautiful Jen. Jenny is a fascinating donkey. She has charisma. She's aware of herself as a presence. She has a powerful ego, jealousy a strong characteristic. She wants to be first, even when she's not Alpha. I'm not saying she's an evil woman; she's far from it. These are characteristics we see in children and deny in ourselves. But the ones we live with know. Jack found the way to get along with Jenny's jealous nature. He just steps around her and stays out of range. He lets her have her way. Jack is not pushy with his personality. Jenny wants the sweet grain first, will have it first, while Jack moans, sounding like he's about to break into tears waiting for his. If I give it to Jack first, Jenny runs him off. They have separate eating places for the grain and hay, as well as carrot. I give Jack carrot first to honor his Alpha role and to reward his braying. Jenny's neck is over the fence, head extended all the way, reaching with her lips like she'd been waiting all night for carrot. She's expressive. You see her feelings in her actions and sometimes her eyes. Jack doesn't show his feelings or what he's thinking. He's self-contained. I know him well enough I can see his feelings sometimes. I see it in his eyes. He shows his feeling very well clamping down on the back of Jenny's neck with his vice-grip jaws.

jack brays

Their sorrow from losing the baby has faded. They are working so hard at "trying to make a baby," they are both single-minded. Jenny is just as worked up as Jack is. Jack is so much in love with Jenny, it is visible to the human. He wants to be with her all the time. He looks at her with a loving eye. She looks at him with the same eye. Their focus of attention is on each other all the time. Jenny did not like me touching her for quite a long time. Times I would give Jack a good rubbing on his back, neck and legs, Jenny watched closely. She then wanted me to pet her too. By now, we are so comfortable together she doesn't feel defensive. She's still somewhat skittish, but that's just their nature, constantly alert to the split-second. They live in the present. The day and night we cried together, Jenny let me hold her with my arms around her neck as long as I wanted to. It's not something she takes to readily. Jack likes for me to hug his neck. Jack is a comic. He likes to laugh. I learned his sense of humor before Jenny entered the meadow. It took a long time to bond with Jenny. She was so distracted by Jack in their getting acquainted time, I stayed this side of the fence. She was in grief from losing her friends she'd lived with before, and she had this jackass to contend with who was too happy to have her in his meadow, he couldn't help but want to show her his gratitude. She settled down when she fell in love. Six months of living with Jack, she was in love. He was in love the moment they met. Jenny took the Alpha role for herself in self-defense, and she was the biggest. Jack is quite a lot smaller than Jenny, which made conquering her a serious conquest. In the first few months I was feeling sad for Jack that I'd brought him a woman who could kick his ass. It was no problem for Jack.

jack munches morning hay

Jenny emerged first from the donkey den when I went out with carrots. She put her head through the gap between the gate and the post like she rarely does. She was hungry. Snow on everything, they could not go in search of something edible left in the meadow. Had to wait for Ice Cream man to take his time going out into the snow to deliver their hay, carrot first. They've eaten carrot every day they've lived here. It's the first thing we do every morning, unless it's raining hard. Snow doesn't stop us. Jenny was funny this morning sticking her neck through the gate gap and sticking her head straight out, Me first, while Jack brayed. Sometimes she's like a child that had no training. Donkeys don't know about Ms Manners. They do what works. I feel like they communicate so well without language, I doubt they feel like they're missing anything. They understand their names and the words and phrases I repeat to them every day. They surely think Ice Cream man has some magic vocal powers. Not only does he keep his balance easily on his back feet, he can hold things with is front feet. And when the coyotes come marauding in the night, Ice Cream man hollers GIT in his magical language and the coyotes go away. Every time I go to the door to yell at the coyotes, they quit. I wonder every time at how marvelous the donkeys must think that is, to have a magic sound that scatters coyotes. We humans are such a mystery to them, I am curious about how they think about us. First thing I know is it's now how we might think. I don't know how they think, though I suspect to our way of seeing, it would be something we'd call a dream reality. living fully in the subconscious, the super-conscious. They don't have monkey-mind forebrain. Therefore, the present is the only time they know.

jenny munches morning hay

Recalling a time I had chickens. Someone visiting from the city told me chickens are stupid. I took it for such a ridiculous statement I couldn't respond. I didn't attempt to explain they have all the intelligence they need, aware that city-dude had the span of attention of a cat and wouldn't hear anything beyond the first phrase. Already, I have enough insight into a donkey's intelligence that it pains me now to hear somebody ignorant called a jackass. In the popular belief system donkeys have no intelligence. I grew up believing a lot of nonsense adults told me. I know better than to go back. I know donkeys to have at least the intelligence of the smartest dog. I just live my life knowing what I know about donkeys and let other people believe as they will. Because they will. I am neither a commercial nor a missionary. As with politics now, I've withdrawn my interest from a popular police state. Other people want to believe what they want to believe, it's ok by me, just leave me out of it. I like my world here with donkeys and a cat, good reading, good films, good music, good car, good laptop. Maybe I live too much in my mind, but thanks to grace, I have peace in my mind and don't want it cluttered by people that hate in the name of Jesus, and the white men everywhere with Limbaugh rants of hatred in their minds. The whole world of the media is false. I don't like that world of fascists vs liberals. Is this what happened after learning history became irrelevant since the Sixties? Now that learning, itself, has been irrelevant for several decades, our political representatives, who only represent us by being self-centered like the rest of us: all for me, forget everybody else. They represent the worst in us. It's not my way, so I withdraw my attention and turn it to everything and everybody I'm thankful for, letting the rest of it go.

jenny feels the snow with her neck


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Monday, November 24, 2014

THE MAKING OF NUMBER ELEVEN


#11 in progress

Earlier today I launched into bringing #11 to completion. The plywood is 4 inches by 30 inches, hangs vertically. Here it is with cardboard glued in place, the whole gessoed and the edge painted black with some fast-drying paint made for painting furniture. True to the rule of thumb in this series, the board was found as it is. The cardboard was found. I mixed an orange that turns out to be BIC lighter orange, a bit stronger orange than sherbet. It's a light orange that is not pastel. I glued a strip of fir to the back of the plywood for a brace to keep it from warping. I mixed the orange I wanted in a styrofoam bowl with medium by palette knife. It feels like kneading clay, preparing it for the potter's wheel; smooth out all the lumps, work it until it is smooth and consistent throughout. I pick up a glob of it with the palette knife and slather it onto the form. This is my favorite part. All that goes before is like setting the stage. When I lay on the paint, the concert is on. Applying the paint is where I sail. I hesitate to use a palette knife for the tendency to want to make pretty swipes with it and make interesting patterns. I'm not one who likes a painting made with palette knife, unless it's an abstraction. I wanted the thickness of paint that needed to be put on by palette knife. I lay the paint on as it happens, sole purpose to cover up all the white and distribute the paint more or less the same all over, letting the strokes be a record of the process of spreading the paint. I make it a point to avoid aesthetic considerations smearing on the paint. I wanted it to look as rough as a stuccoed wall without mind arranging patterns, no matter how loose. Random. Mind contributes the cardboard's shape and place, color too.  

#11 in progress

Bypassing mind is one aspect of making an art object important to me. In the time of doing figurative painting, I felt like it was all mind, staying inside the lines. Capturing a likeness and creating a feeling are fun projects in themselves. Living rurally, there is not much of an art market around here but for landscape prints in cheap frames from Walmart. I paint for the people of my world, the mountain people. They can't afford to buy paintings, so I don't sell paintings. I tried big city gallery once and that was enough. I'd rather sell things to my friends for prices they can easily afford than drive back and forth to a city to deliver and attend special occasion "parties," where I'm expected to suck up to the rich and sell myself as a cool dude who knows Art, a good investment. I'm not cool and I don't know how to impress somebody with my approach to art. I don't even want rich people or corporate offices to have my work. I dislike intensely the role of token artist at a dinner party or cocktail party of the rich. I've never been able to learn how to run my mouth and spontaneously be able to say nothing at all in a continuous stream of words. A day came very soon after stepping into that world, I had to get with self, break through denials and admit I despise this shit. I've reminded self several times that my purpose applying pigment to surface is not to be invited to cocktail parties where I might meet somebody new to impress with me as somebody special. I always return to, I'm just a Joe. In my private mind, TJ stands for The Joe, nobody special, one with all of humanity, not an exception. And Joe is WW2 slang for American. I take it for the name of Everyman. 

#11 done

Because I'm not career minded, or attention minded, about my painting, I've been free to do what I feel like doing and let other considerations go. It doesn't mean I'm a creative genius, because I am not. I'm an art minded individual in a world where art has no place. The interest of the rich in art is more about investment than the art itself. I'm not even sure if anything I have done and am doing now could be called art. Recalling a conversation with pencil artist and friend, Willard Gayheart, of Woodlawn, Virginia, Willard said, "I'm not really an artist." This is someone who also plays rhythm guitar as a master, bluegrass, old-time and country, and he sings, knowing the words to a long list of songs. He has written several really good songs he's recorded over a a period of forty years. I said, "You are, indeed an artist. If anybody is an artist, you are." I felt like he had an elevated idea of artist, so elevated it was beyond this world, where only a gifted few have access to it. In my way of seeing, art is about this world, the world of duality, of humanity. Art is one of the many talents we humans are born with, a form of expression from who-you-are. Hank Williams is singing in my mind, calling me to see the artist in him. And when my money's all gone, I'm on the telephone, saying, hey, hey mama, can your daddy come home? An artist wrote and performed those words. A couple of lines stay with me from the Stones, She drove a pickup truck painted green and blue....she's going back to Baltimore, she sings there in a bar. An artist wrote these lines, and again, an artist performed them. A woman I know has spent her life working full time, home manager, wife, mother, who, in her quiet times, made drawings of her own visual preference and never thought of them as art. But they are. Dadaist Sophie Tauber had a similar vision in 1915, and Bauhaus later, that Anne did not know about. 

#11

The physical need to make images o'ertook me at the age of 40. I started, wanting to use drawing as a meditation. It took hold of me as a fascination. A time came when I'd been told I'm as good as Norman Rockwell the last time. That was not my goal. I'd rather be like Mr Rogers than Norman Rockwell. I stopped for several years. One day I was inspired to take up oil paint. I wanted to paint round things. Given that a canvas is square or rectangular, I wanted to balance the straight lines with curves. Yin and yang. Stopped again for a number of years and took it up again painting portraits of mountain musicians. That came to an end a few years ago when I couldn't paint inside the lines any longer. I felt from the start that I was teaching myself to paint, step by step, with reaching toward abstraction the goal. Since I've started up again, I want to make these "single color abstractions" the only thing I can think of to call them that is accurate. It turns out the piece of cardboard becomes the subject. The first two had two colors each. Using two colors was original vision, but I preferred one color. Suddenly, a whole cosmos of what I could do with cardboard and one color opened up before my mind's eye. I wanted something totally mine I'd never seen before. Surely, somebody somewhere has done this, maybe in Italy in the time of Arte Povera. That I don't know about it makes this theme mine. Even if I were to find that somebody has done it before, it's still mine. Nonetheless, I date the influence back an entire century. I don't see it as NEW to world of contemporary art. What I'm doing goes back a century. It has come out of what I've learned paying attention to the art of the last century as it has evolved unto today. I feel like I have come into something I've been working toward in the super-conscious from the beginning. It surfaced like a slow-rising bubble from the ocean floor.  

#12 color yet to be determined



Sunday, November 23, 2014

THANKFUL FOR ROCK N ROLL


It's been a fun day and I've really done nothing. Started the day when the mail brought the dvd of a movie made in 1978, BLANK GENERATION, starring then-current punk rocker Richard Hell. The film was an effort to make a somewhat avant-garde film of the day, the time of Andy Warhol films, Nick Roeg's PERFORMANCE, that had Mick Jagger in it and was pretty good. It was a time when all that went before was regarded "irrelevant" and some artists were seeking relevance in "youthsploitation" film making. This one was like a European attempt to make a film using a New York punker. The film had a French element, not only in the lead actress being French, but it had a French quality in the making, in how it looked, in how it progressed. It had an avant-garde German sense too, influence of Fassbinder, director Ulli Lommel being German and associated with Fassbinder. And there was plenty of Andy Warhol influence. He included Warhol for a short scene. Italian director Antonioni attempted an American avant-garde film in the time of protest and hippies, Zabriskie Point. The film missed the target. I suspect Antonioni was interpreting American youth from a European intellectual perspective, which doesn't apply in America. As in Lommel's film, I felt the European intellectual director was only able to see the emptiness in American youth. They don't have enough American experience to understand American motivations, especially in the young. I felt like Ulli Lommel found in Richard Hell's song, The Blank Generation, his own interpretation of what he saw of the American young in New York. His approach to Hell's character, Billy, was to point out his blankness by way of Lommel's take on the meaning of blank; uncommitted, indifferent, short attention span, impetuous, nobody home.


Though it had the quality of a homemade movie and a script not even thought out, it had a charm about it, a freshness, even today, thirty-five years later, that held my interest. The more I place it in its context of the day, the more interesting it becomes. I see Warhol films of the time, John Waters films of the time, Nick Roeg's films of the time, Jim Jarmusch; Blank Generation is coming to me more and more as a French/German attempt to make an American punk film. It's a stretch imagining a German intellectual filmmaker having a punk attitude. He didn't. Yet he made a punk film. He did that very well. Making a film without a plot was new in that time. Today, it seems like plot is a thing of the past. Melody has gone out of rock. Rage Against the Machine from the 1990s flew in the face of melody. The film without a plot seemed perhaps more contemporary now than it might have then. Warhol was a "pioneer" in that regard. Boring was avant-garde in that time, too. Films had avoided boredom before. It was the time of Julian Beck and Judith Malina's Living Theater. Their Paradise Now can be seen on YouTube. And it was the time of Andre Gregory, best known in My Dinner With Andre, where the conversation is around that time in New York's avant-garde. Looking at Blank Generation in its context, it becomes more interesting. I'm re-seeing it in my mind's eye without any memory of a time in the film that didn't hold my interest. I don't want to see it again soon, would rather digest what I saw first time around. I remember thinking when it was over that this is a film that would reward a second viewing, going into it knowing what to expect and paying more attention to photography, which was often extraordinary without trying to be. First time, I paid attention to the characters. Next time I'll see more. I believe another viewing is in order, though not soon. I'll wait months, until the images have left my head and I don't remember more than a brief slide show of still scenes.

the rolling stones

All the rest of the day I've been playing the Rolling Stones' album Black & Blue, 1976, Ron Wood's first album with the Stones. I play it over and over. I gets louder and louder. Hand Of Fate is playing now. I had most of their albums on LPs that don't get played anymore. I don't want to replace all my Stones albums on cd, so I only have on cd a few I really love. I bought Stripped on cd, live, very small venue, very bluesy. Later, I bought their first album, also very bluesy. Black & Blue has that emphasis on blues the Stones do so well. It's been in my mind for a few years, remembering how well it satisfied my liking for Stones music. Their blues is the aspect of the Stones that turns me on. It's the core of their sound. Mick Jagger is one of the poets in rock. His song on this album, Memory Motel, is beautiful songwriting. I hear the Stones best when I put their stardom out of my mind and hear a bunch of guys making music. Ron Wood's lead guitar is just right for the Stones. I saw him and Keith Richards in a brief interview where Keith was asked which of them was the best. He said, Ron would say he's the best, though neither one of us is very good, but put us together and nobody can beat us. He did not exaggerate. In the time of Sixties rock, the Rolling Stones hard rocking was It for me. Their live album, Get Yer YaYa's Out, my neighbors heard far more than they ever wanted to. The Stones were my Little Richard of the Sixties. It started with their first hit, Time Is On My Side. I've always associated it with James Brown's first hit, Try Me.


In this time of the life, I'm enjoying looking over the music I've loved along the way. It's a great variety that includes Baaba Maal of Senegal and Five Finger Death Punch. Rock n roll has been the thread that ran through all the experiences of my life from its beginning unto my end. Bob Dylan was in there since his beginning. I loved his acoustic sound and loved it even better when he went to rock. He transformed rock when he plugged in. His readiness to change kept him fluid. His willingness to step outside the mainstream, whichever one he's in at the moment, came to his most recent five albums, my favorite of the whole progression of his music. I felt like he came into what he'd been working toward. I'm glad Dylan and the Stones are making music into their seventies. Before their generation, only black musicians were appreciated into their old age. Rock n roll is a very strong interest in my life, not to play it, but to appreciate an art form with what seems like an infinite range of what can be done with it. It absorbs every music that gets near it, adds a new sound, constantly changing, every generation making big changes. I remember someone I knew who was a Sixties rock old hippie, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Neil Young. When his boy was of an age that he was hearing his own music, he found some late Seventies punk, Adam and the Ants, Devo, and dad said, in my hearing, "That's not music! The Beatles are music!" It threw me back to jr high listening to early Elvis, being told from on high, "That's not music! Glenn Miller's music!" I said to peer speaking to his child, "Did you hear yourself?" He had heard himself very well. I just shook my head. Whatever. I saw Frank Sinatra in concert, 1988, and enjoyed it. I was so drunk I saw two of him through the whole show, unable to pull the images together into one. I say I saw Sinatra twice.



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Saturday, November 22, 2014

THANKFUL FOR LITTLE RICHARD


I went to YouTube to find a video of Little Richard singing Jenny Jenny. Found several and watched three, shaking my head, cracking up, loving it, jamming to Little Richard again. It took me back to high school years listening to Little Richard on 45s, buying the new one as it came out as quick as I could get it. Jenny Jenny was one of his rockers I liked a lot. It was 1957 punk. In that time, I could have had only Little Richard records and been satisfied. I listened to the other music because it was there, but Little Richard satisfied my soul. Seeing him today, fifty-eight years later, half a century, I have a donkey named Jenny and sometimes say to her, Jenny Jenny Jenny, hearing Little Richard in my head. His songs are tattooed on the inside of my skull. Seeing Little Richard perform in 1968 was not quite the same as Little Richard in 1958. In the ten years between, he'd left rock n roll, threw a big diamond ring in a river and went to preaching. Later, he went back to rock n roll, fell in with cocaine and a Sixties rock star lifestyle until it wore him out. He left rock n roll and went back to preaching. I think it was in my second winter in the mountains I saw in the Winston-Salem Journal that Little Richard would be preaching at Winston-Salem State College. Of course, I drove to the city to hear this. I never had a chance to see Little Richard perform his music, and here was a chance to see the other side of Little Richard, the preacher. He was good, had stage charisma to the max. He walked back and forth along the edge of the stage, dressed in black, looking like a black leopard pacing back and forth behind cage bars. He didn't do emotional religion. He talked rationally, a man who thought about things. 

little richard

He was down on rock n roll, saying it was of the devil, that he was serving the devil when he was playing rock n roll. I didn't fall for that one, but I wasn't there to agree or disagree, only to see Little Richard preach. I felt like he made a little over-much of it. I saw a man with a pendulum swing inside that went from one extreme to the other and back again. He was sincere in what he was saying. A few years later, I was at somebody's house and Oprah or something like that was on, Little Richard the guest. He was complaining about not getting enough royalties for his songs, having been ripped off in the original contract. He was talking about being the king of rock n roll. His face was stretched so tight from face-lifts I was thinking you could play drums on his face. I don't care that he lobotomized himself with cocaine, bounces back and forth between extremes in his private life, and comes across on tv like he's nuts. The first concert video I watched a few minutes ago was in b&w. He totally gets into the music. He was singing, standing at the piano pounding it with both hands, facing the audience, bouncing up and down, his face behind the mic, hopping up and down. I thought this a marvelous demonstration of multi-tasking; bobbing up and down, pounding a piano with both hands, standing up, singing into a mic, attention on an audience of several thousand. I felt a mild awe at his performance. I saw Prince in one of his amazing performances. It was rock n roll in the raw. I saw Billy Idol with his band Generation X. I saw punk rock, the match that started the fire. I saw Joe Strummer of the Clash, Richard Hell, Perry Ferrell. I saw that Little Richard sounds as good today as he did then. 

little richard

Rock n roll has moved on in new directions since the 1950s, though it has not moved beyond Little Richard. It's like he's the North Star of rock. I was thinking, while he was singing Jenny Jenny, I'd like to hear a punk band cover it, a band like NOFX. Johnny Winter came to mind singing, I was raised on rock. Rock n roll started when I was 13, just ready for some music of my own. I went on YouTube to a concert called Little Richard and Friends--Legends in Concert. I think this might have been 1968, a big concert in London. It started with Little Richard playing several songs, then Bill Haley and the Comets played Rock Around The Clock, Jerry Lee Lewis playing Hound Dog and Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On, and an extended Chuck Berry concert. Soon after it started, I saw it was forty-one minutes, thinking I'd listen to one or two Little Richard songs and go on. Little Richard kept me listening, then Jerry Lee kept me watching, then Bill Haley totally held my attention, more Little Richard, and then Chuck Berry sang several songs. These were the people who pulled me into rock n roll in my early teens. I watched all of it. I remember when  Bob Dylan took up rock n roll and it became rock. The English sound happened and the rock n roll that went before suddenly became oldies. Now, oldies is 80s and 90s rock. Sixties rock lives in today's heavy metal. Punk continues. Punk started approximately 1975 and has been going ever since. The first twenty-five years, punk was only played on college stations. Commercial stations were afraid of it. Then it became "mainstream," commercial radio. 
From the moment I heard Patti Smith's first album, I was wanting to hear more. New Wave was the New York style of punk, and Punk in London was sending records over here. I listened to both. The English punk took hold of me in a don't-let-go kind of way. From all the kinds of music I have in the house to listen to, I tend to go to late 70s English punk when I want to rock. Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Clash, Generation X, and out of Berlin, Nina Hagen, the Mother of Punk. Nina Hagen's bands on every album did it right. Punk started just as I was leaving the city for the mountains. Upon arriving in the mountains, I found the NPR FM station WFDD in Winston-Salem. From ten til midnight a college student dj, Didi Thornton, called herself DDT, played fresh new punk every night and I taped several of her shows. They put her off the air after a year or so. The people who contributed money to the station revolted against her. It was the same as adults shutting down the Fifties period of rock n roll, calling it communist, subversive, African therefore devil worshiping. It was the black influence in the music that drove the white grownups nuts. The other claims were smokescreens around the central issue: white kids were listening to nigger music. Dick Clark did his best to deflect interest to Italian pretty boys and doo-wop groups, and there came a time rock n roll was fading to the background. Then the English sound happened, the Dave Clark Five, Spencer Davis Group, Rolling Stones, and it's been on full blast ever since. Going into the last days before Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am grateful for rock n roll.   

little richard grown up




  




Friday, November 21, 2014

WARM SOCKS AND ART PROJECTS


portraits of jenny

The cold let up a bit today, I'm grateful to say. Yesterday was cold. A sweatshirt was comfortable today, a sweater yesterday. The day before yesterday was so bitter cold I stayed in the bed as much of the day as I could, and it wasn't even warm there. My floor is the same temperature as outside, keeping the bottoms of my feet freezing. Bought two pair of super heavy duty socks purported to really keep the feet warm. They are light weight, based in a principle of some kind of fibers that hold air, keeping warm air in and cold air out. It works great on the top of my feet and ankles, but the bottoms of my feet froze the same as if I were wearing white cotton socks. As one who could never pass a semester of Physics, my conjecture is not scientific. It seems, however, that when I stand, the weight presses the fibers down flat as a piece of paper, eliminating their ability to hold heat. Could be too, poor circulation radiating little heat to retain. Today, I'm wearing some warm socks, Christmas presents from last year that are, indeed, heating my feet, even the soles. The floor is not as cold today as it was yesterday, though without these socks, I'd feel it. I've bought synthetic "fleece" socks from LLBean that were not what I'd hoped. These I bought last week are not what I'd hoped. The ones I'm wearing now are the most successful at keeping my feet warm. I'll see about finding a few more pair. Last winter and this winter I'm tired of cold feet in winter. In the past, I didn't notice it so much. I've spent a fair amount looking for truly warm socks. The ones advertised most warm have failed my feet. 

k
beautiful jen


The donkeys tore down the wall of hay I put up at the entrance to their den to deflect wind on cold nights. One or both of the donkeys pulled the tarp off that I'd wrapped around the six bales, stacked two wide, three high. The bales were knocked down. I suspect curiosity was behind it. It's hay they won't eat when I offer it to them. It looked like some of the hay was tugged at, but none eaten. The night won't be bitter cold, so I decided to wait until tomorrow when the outside air will be warmer than today, even pleasant, to reconstruct it as it was, maybe secure the tarp with a little more care. I'll let Jack watch. I'm thinking it might give him an understanding that it is hay they don't like under a tarp. I'll explain to him it's purpose, a wind-break for cold winter nights. I won't scold or make an issue of it. He may tear it apart again. If he does, I'll put it back together again. I put the tarp over the hay to protect it from wet, not to keep donkeys out of it. If they want to eat it, good. If I can get them to eat it by making a wall of it, great, I'll replace it as they eat it. It would be easy to put up a plywood wall, but I don't want to. Or I could use some old boards from the woodshed that doesn't hold wood anymore. I'll use the hay for now. They appear to like having the hay on the floor of their den. I'll use the old hay to keep their bedding fresh through the winter. I saw a forecast today that we have more bitter weather ahead. Of course. It's winter. This house holds heat like a sieve holds water. I don't want it any tighter. I don't like putting plastic on the windows because it obscures the view through the glass. Makes it look like a very dense fog is outside. I like to see out the windows. 

jenny chews carrot

Continuing to work on art projects, a little at a time. Completed #10 in the series and have numbers eleven and twelve in process toward receiving the color. This one I'm preparing now is three feet long and four inches wide, to be vertical. The cardboard is glued in place. Next is a coat of gesso. I'm wanting to paint it white, but I'm out of white. Have some ordered that will be here in a few days, but I don't want to wait. I'll paint another one white. It might be nice a brilliant cobalt blue. Maybe the white will be here for #12, which will be nice white too. Number ten is vertical, stands on a base, about a foot high and a couple inches wide. I wanted to paint it black, but  black is too dead a color unless made from red and green. Alizarin crimson and thalo green make a gorgeous black. I chose to paint it straight Payne's gray. It serves as black, though in certain lights it is not black. I think of a monolith when I see it, memories of the movie 2001: a Space Odyssey. I want to do small now. Used to want to do big. Small suits me as the most practical. Doesn't take much storage space. Small can be just as beautiful as big. I don't have room for big. I do maquettes, models for a bigger version. I believe this would be amazing about ten feet tall, made of heavy steel, or even fiberglass. The plywood and blocks of wood I'm using were all found. I continue to find rectangles of plywood around that I picked up years ago, here and there. It's become exciting going through my room of found things, looking at their potential as near future projects. Finding objects I'd forgotten about is terrific fun. I've kept these things for decades with a mind to someday-I'm-gonna. This is gonna time. 

jenny munches carrot

Closing in on my last years, it's a good time to bring to life the things I've picked up and brought home. Much paint bought over the years and not used. This is a good time to use up the paint I have. The rule of thumb I'm going by is to buy only supplies I need. Like white paint. I was all out and needed white. And gesso. Use what I have. I need to buy screws, drill bits, a few, and wood glue. Utilitarian items. Everything for the projects, I already have or find going along. Plenty of cardboard in boxes and their flaps that hang open. Already have a single-edged razor blade for easy slicing the cardboard. Sandpaper to smooth rough edges on the wood. I want it obvious that this is cardboard glued to plywood. One of the properties of oil paint I love is how it hugs its surface. As it dries, the ribs of the cardboard come through, the surface texture of the wood receives the paint. The fresh paint obscures the ribs of the cardboard, though as the paint dries and shrinks into its surface, the ribs come back. More gesso and some white on its way; it is time to start a site-specific project for my friends, the Carpenters. Their "cabin" is wood interior. On opposite walls in the living room are a pair of triangles, awkward spaces to do something with. I've found what I want to do with them. I saw in Justin's basement a piece of leftover plywood the right width, length enough to take care of both triangles. I asked if I could have it and if he would cut it to the lengths I need. Yes. I aim to bring those dead triangles to life. The project won't be done by the next time they're here. Even if I could get everything structured and painted, it takes a few weeks for the paint to dry. I'll lay on the paint, put them someplace out of reach and forget about them. The colors is the most important part now that I have the shapes I want in mind. They will be in relation to the beautiful wood around them. I don't want them to dominate the wood, but to accent the wood. These are the kinds of decisions that are fun.     

jenny
photos by tj worthington


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DONKEYS LOVE TOO

jenny and jack

Jack and Jenny are in orbit right now. She's gone into heat. The last three days they have been honeymooning. About any time I look out the window Jack is standing almost straight up on his back feet behind Jenny, his front legs hugging her sides, his chin on her back, him looking like a happy donkey. Jenny stands still with her head down and her mouth opening and closing automatically like she's talking to herself. This is Jenny in love. Last year, Jenny was not in love. This year she is with her man she sleeps side-by-side with nightly and grazes with all day. They have learned each other's temperaments and flow very well together after a year, in love the second half of the year. It's funny when Jack jumps onto Jenny's back and she starts walking, Jack attached to her and walking fast on his back feet, hanging on with his front legs. Early this morning I went out to take them carrots and saw Jack on Jenny's back. He saw me with carrots and started braying with his chin on Jenny's back. Hanging on and braying, donkey multi-tasking. Later, back in the house, I saw out the window Jack on Jenny's back again and Jenny liking her part in this time of making love several times a day. After Jack hopped down, Jenny went to their nearby pile of droppings. Her feet either side of the pile, she peed a trickle and dropped some donkey biscuits. Done, she walked away. Jack had been standing nearby watching. He walked to the pile, sniffed Jenny's scent on the fresh droppings. He positioned himself astraddle the pile, contributed his biscuits, walked to the fresh hay nearby and grazed. I put their hay down separately due to their jealousy over food. Jenny grazed on her hay for awhile and Jack grazed on his. Time out for breakfast. 

jenny and jack

I'd have been interested in the sex part when I was ten, though by now, the sex part is about the same as eating hay or rolling on a dust circle. The part of it that I like seeing in this time of the life is my two donkey friends, friends I brought together, lovers, donkeys who have taught me appreciation for donkey, whose lives I know as close friends. The donkeys I love equally, happy that my donkey pets have fallen in love and live together as lovers who would rather be with each other than with anyone else. I think they are both four years old. It makes me feel good to see Jack and Jenny so close, knowing they are mated for life, will love each other all their lives. I love that. I love that I have given a couple of donkeys a chance to live their lives in love. Even when I put Jenny in the meadow with Jack I never gave a thought to donkeys falling in love. Growing up in the Western world under Christendom, I was taught early that animals had no feelings. It didn't matter what you did to a dumb animal. They didn't feel anything. Definitely did not have a soul, the life force itself. None of that computed to me, but I accepted it. It was the world everywhere around me; home, school, church, neighbors, relatives. It was the unanimous belief in my world, like white superiority. It appeared to me that dogs and cats had eyes, ears, mouth, nose, etc. They breathed and they had heartbeats. Just like us. They had head, spine, ribs, legs. They consumed in front and evacuated behind, just like us. I couldn't talk to anyone about my observation I took for obvious. But it wasn't obvious to anyone else. I continued to believe that old way about animals until I came to the mountains. My first dog here taught me animals can love, they can think, they can communicate without spoken words, Sadie was her name. She was three years old when she came to me. We were bonded after two weeks together. 

jenny

She taught me a great deal about dog nature. I learned dogs have hearts full of love in them. All they need for it to surface is to be loved. Then their love surfaces. It was the same with the donkeys. I love them and they love me. I've raised all my pets since living here with love, five cats and five dogs. Raising them with a loving heart, I never trained any of them. I would not know how to train a dog or a cat. I've looked at training books and would not do any of the training methods on a dog of mine. I love them too much to make robots of them. I want them to live by their own dog nature to fulfillment, not be objects for me to command. My next dog, Aster, won my heart the day I threw a stick for her and she just stood and looked at me like to say, What was that about? I never did it again, glad to see she wasn't interested in chasing a ball or a stick. They were always at my side, rode on the seat beside me in the pickup. They flowed with me, attentive to pleasing the one they love. And I was attentive to please them. Never scolded any of them. I scolded Sadie some at first, because I didn't know better. Once I caught on, she never heard me scold again. Caterpillar is the last of three cats that were born here. I've never scolded any of them in their whole lives. We lived together in harmony, attentive both ways to the well-being of the other. Every one of their graves represents a very sorrowful heart when whichever one left the body. Sadie left the body thirty years ago and I'm still like the song about Mr Bojangles, His dog up and died. After twenty years he still grieves. I continue to love every one of them so much it still hurts that they're gone. 

jack

Love is wonderful, but oh it hurts when a loved one leaves the body. I've known several people who won't have any more pets after one died. The pain was too hard to bear and they don't want to go through it again. I tend to think of the years of joy they gave me, the happiness they gave me, the love they gave me, day after day. Sometimes the pain is rugged. It has never stopped me from wanting another for a home companion. Caterpillar is so jealous, I can't bring another cat or dog into the house. The donkeys will outlive me by several years. A day will come that the Ice Cream man will bring them carrots and sweet grain no more. Somebody else will take care of them. I'm remembering a French film I started to watch, Balthazar, the story of a donkey's life in rural France. The donkey was bought and sold and used as a beast of burden, regarded as though it had no soul. I couldn't watch after maybe ten minutes into it, could not stand to see a donkey mistreated and regarded unconscious. I'm grateful that I've had a chance to know donkeys, to learn donkey ways, to know two donkeys as individuals, as friends, as people I care about. Knowing donkeys is one of the treasures of my life. I'm grateful I came to know dogs and cats, too, as individual beings, sentient life forms. I won't argue with anybody over whether or not a four-legged has a soul. Somebody who will not allow the essence of life in a dog is somebody I'm wary of. It tells me they would learn a whole lot more having a dog to live with than listening to a preacher who doesn't know, just studied how to sound like he knows what he's talking about. I'm glad I had no preconceptions about donkeys when I met Jack. I didn't even know donkeys were bad to kick until somebody warned me. Jack and Jenny don't kick each other anymore and don't kick me. I'm grateful that in this lifetime I have learned that the four-leggeds love too. Now I know when I see a documentary about wild animals in Africa, the lion and lioness are in love, and they love their kittens like we love our babies. 

jenny and jack


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Monday, November 17, 2014

QUESTIONING REALITY FINDING NOTHING


vada
by cheyanne

Out on the road yesterday it came to me that we humans are, individually, art forms. Animals are too, every life form. It is the spirit of life in our lives that art aspires to, reaches for. Each one of us is a work of art. Our lives are art forms, each making our own story as it goes along. I'm inclined to think we weave our life stories with our attitude toward life. I've spent my adult life with an eye to improve my own attitude toward life, make it less self-destructive and less regrettable to others, imbue it with a loving spirit in place of a suspicious spirit. I see in my friends incredible art forms, complete ongoing stories of everyday life moments, interweaving with the stories of others making a Persian carpet of the mind in motion, constantly changing, even more complex than flow patterns in turbulence. As I interact with friends periodically, we fill each other in on the progression of our stories, catching up since last time we spoke. My friends whose lives I know from occasional installments are ongoing stories composed by an individual attitude toward life. A novelist attempts to catch the spirit of life in the telling of a story, much like learning the lives of our friends from updates of "what's going on." Somebody who complains all the time has a fairly rotten attitude toward life, due to their own series of experiences, how they're interpreted. I want to reach a place where my interpretations of everyday life events have a more realistic perspective that includes the stories of the others concerned.

vada
by cheyanne

I said I'm looking for a more realistic perspective. But what does it mean? Realistic? I can't find any guidelines to define what's real. It really is in how we look at it, the eye of the beholder. The beholder interprets what the eye sees, ear hears, or mind thinks. The beholder's attitude toward life colors the interpretation of an observation. I recall when Patti Smith's first album was new. Someone I knew heard a song and said, "She sounds so angry." It rendered me somewhat senseless. I had never thought she sounded angry all the times I listened to her. It's like it came from out in left field, off the wall. I thought without saying, what a shallow hearing. Patti sounds to me to have compassion in her singing. Anger was so not what I heard, I still wonder how her vocals can be taken for anger. My feeling is that the other wasn't listening, didn't hear the music, missed it all. Superficial hearing. I don't mean false by superficial, but skimming the surface like a swallow taking a drink from a lake. It was in a time when I did not comprehend reality to be anything but my own point of view. Growing up baptist, I had to learn relativity after years of I'm-right-you're-wrong-no-two-ways-about-it indoctrination. I remember when I first took an interest in writing poetry, I wanted to write Truth in every line. It didn't work. Didn't work at all. Started seeing what I took for Truth wasn't always the case. In fact, seldom was the case. I learned eventually to give up thinking Truth was something special. Ultimately, it's nothing at all. Perhaps the only real truth is there is no truth. I learned to go with what works and forget about truth. I still have a hard time letting go of it as a concept, like there surely must be something to it, though I can't find it.

vada 
by cheyanne

William Carlos Williams' image of reality comes to mind, a red wheelbarrow and a white chicken. This image I have held most of my adult life for a definition of reality. It's hard to find words for. It's red and white in relation to each other. It's a sense that is wordless, felt, understood. Using the image for a reminder of reality, I see the sense of the scene, white and red, coca-cola truck, the Russian Revolution, associations. Chicken, a living being, and wheelbarrow, a manufactured object. We human beings live in a world of cities and towns, roads, houses, cars, creations of the human mind. As individuals, we are in relation to objects all the time. I'm typing on a keyboard made by humans. Even the robots involved in the manufacture were made by human mind. We individuals live in a world created by the human mind. Every time I have flown in a big jet, I look at the plane's outer shell, the wings, the rivets, and a quotation from Hamlet comes to mind, What a piece of work is man. I can't help but think it radically awesome something that big can fly, it made of metal, and so heavy I could probably not move one of their tires, it lying on the pavement. A passenger jet stands as a symbol for me of the wonder of the human mind. The chicken and the wheelbarrow have become my symbol for reality in like manner. It's not that it's a chicken, and it's not that it's a wheelbarrow, same as it's not that it's white and red either. It's an epiphany without words. It's you-get-it-or-you-don't, like the Tao te ching. It's hard to explain what I get from the chicken and wheelbarrow I call an image of reality.

vada
by cheyanne

Once I got it that what we call reality is illusion, reality went away as a consideration. I used to argue with Poe's quotation about beauty being in the eye of the beholder. I think of the short stories of Gao Xingjiang, Buying A Fishing Rod For My Grandfather, where he questions reality by way of various points of view. Again, like patterns in turbulence, one event observed by several points of view will have as many realities as observers. Is there one reality more real than any of the others? I don't believe there is. Used to want there to be a truth in reality that would say this is how it was, and then a variety of observations for the different ways it can be seen. By now, I don't see any event separate from observation having any meaning. It's observation that projects interpretation and then it has meaning, then it becomes "real." I have a rock on my desk I think of as real. When I'm outside the house, not observing it, I believe it continues in its place to be just as real as when I see it. Though, unobserved, it is not even a rock. It has no name. Its existence is unconscious, or so I presume. The rock is not aware of itself. It doesn't know it is a rock. It doesn't know. Observed, I give it meaning. It's a beautiful gray rock a geologist could look at and give a string of other names. Half of it has one kind of flow lines and the other half has different flow lines. Rocks were once liquid, and before that, gas. I see the rock a chunk of ice, frozen in place when a river of molten earth cooled down and froze. Before it was liquid, it was gas that came out of nothingness. Or what we think of as nothing. In that vast nothing must reside the essence of everything, like in the darkness lies the seed of light, and in the light is the seed of darkness. In sorrow is the seed of joy. How can I put my finger on even a rock and call it real? To me, it's small. To a three-year-old, it's huge. To somebody in China it is as non-existent as to my next door neighbor. It exists to you, because you take my word for it. If somebody came along and convinced you I was lying, the reality would go away, a silent explosion of mind pixels fading into nothing.

cheyanne herself
by cheyanne


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

FLAT TIRE STORY

alexander calder

Another cold day. This time I stayed at home where I belong. Don't want to drive again any time soon. In town yesterday I went into the hardware store for some flea one-spot treatment for Caterpillar. Talked with Marsha some about donkeys and horses. Saw my friend Tammy Sawyer, an old-time bass and dulcimer player, and we talked briefly. I opened the door to the parking lot and saw my right rear tire was flat. One more unexpected event to make me crazy. Nothing to do but bear down on it. Open the trunk, rearrange the things I keep in the trunk, a box of car-need things, a tent and a sleeping bag. I keep a sleeping bag and tent in the trunk for the unforeseen in case of need. If I were to get into a predicament stranded someplace and it cold, I have the sleeping bag. I have to store it someplace, thinking the trunk of the car a better place than in the house. The spare wheel was under the floor of the trunk, which needed lifting to extract the wheel, one of those hateful miniature wheels. I'm so accustomed to unforeseen speed bumps in these weeks, five now, I gave self to the situation with minimal cussing. The car had one of those factory jacks I threw away as soon as the car became mine and bought a real jack, the kind on wheels mechanics use. They are so easy and so convenient, the $45 it cost was nothing. It felt good to roll the jack under the rear axle and pump it up easily. This meant lying down on the ice cold pavement of the parking lot, which I was glad to do. I'd so much rather have a flat in a level controlled space with no traffic than on the side of the road. Having done this before, I'm checked out on the procedure, mapped it out, step by step in my head and followed the steps. It's a simple process with a good jack. Crawling under the fender, I had to turn my ball cap around backwards. Punk.

alexander calder

Two men I know stopped and offered help, separately. I thanked them and declined the offer. Changing a flat is merely a matter of the time it takes. Every step is simple. Loosen the lug nuts. Another purchase at the same time as the rolling jack was an X lug wrench, a steel one that won't make me feel like Superman when the wrench itself twists in my hands. The kind that come from the factory are good for nothing but frustration. A good jack and a good lug wrench are my number one accessories in whatever I'm driving. And a fire extinguisher. I keep one in the box between the two front seats, the arm rest. The fire extinguisher fits in that compartment like it was made for it, the other accessory I will not drive without having in the car. Experience has taught me that when a fire starts inside a vehicle, only a fire extinguisher will put it out. I was given no choice but to watch my Toyota pickup go up in yellow flames and black smoke over insulation mice had chewed off some wires. All I had was a towel. I'd put the fire out, lift the towel and it would start again, dripped and started one someplace else, towel back and forth, then another. Right away it went out of control. Everything in the interior of a vehicle is oil-based plastic and foam. All I could do was get back and watch. A fire extinguisher would have taken care of it at the start. I also carry a hammer in the door pocket. Having seen what happens, and knowing two people who burned up in cars, separately, I am not going to burn up in a car. Car glass cannot be broken hitting it with hands or elbows. It takes steel to break a side glass on a car. A claw hammer is a good tool with many uses. Also in the door pocket, I keep a long screwdriver, necessary for letting down the hydraulic jack. It's easy with a big screwdriver, very difficult trying to use a dime. The ice scraper I used yesterday stays in the pocket too. 

alexander calder

Turning the lug nuts off the bolts was a chore. They're old and hugging the bolt a little too tightly. That's a good thing so they won't unscrew themselves. I couldn't spin the wrench to turn them off the bolts. Went to the box in the trunk for some WD40. It wasn't there. It's in the house. Found a little spray can of lock-tite, something to spray into a lock when it's resisting the key. I sprayed some of it onto the lug bolts and it worked very well spinning a couple of them back on. I might talk with mechanic about getting some new lug nuts. I like keeping the parts on the car in good shape. I like changing a wheel to be easy instead of difficult. Just having to do it is difficult enough without having lug nuts that require wringing the wrench half a turn at a time all the way to the end of the bolt. Flats happen. It's a regrettable experience every time. I feel like it is important for my mental health to have every step of wheel changing work smoothly. This is at least the third one with this car. Driving country roads, screws and nails fall out of the back of working men's pickups bouncing up the gravel road with washboard in it. The tire picked up a big screw that looks like it fell off a car or pickup, wiggled loose from the body underneath. Flat tires are an element of country living. This one today was minimally aggravating, thanks to the experience of flats in the past that taught me to carry the right tools for the job. A cheap jack makes a major aggravation. A cheap lug wrench does too. I call it being kind to myself to buy the right tools, keep them in the trunk and be sure the inevitable that's always a surprise will be just another easy problem to solve. 

alexander calder

Lying on the pavement when the two different guys offered a hand, I remembered an old boy I saw at least twenty years ago changing a wheel by the side of the road. I was driving down the mountain on Hwy 21 with twenty-seven curves, for whatever reason I don't remember. It takes a lot to get me off the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain where the road straightened for a good chance to pass a truck you're dealt the misfortune of following down the mountain, a big Chevy SUV was parked beside the road, a bumper jack holding it up, an old country boy sitting on the ground with a spare tire. I passed by thinking he's got it under control. I re-saw him in my mind's eye and realized he did not have it under control. He was in his seventies, kept alive by a doctor and medications, has these huge tires to deal with, somehow got the spare out and onto the ground and the back end jacked up. He couldn't do any more. He'd met his limit. He was sitting beside the tire in frustration. I turned at the next place to turn around and went back to give him a hand. I could not have driven any further once I saw his situation. It wasn't morality. It wasn't good deeds. I saw he could not take the old wheel off and put the new one on. He didn't have the strength. I did. It's what we do in the mountains. You see somebody needs a hand, you lend a hand. It's mountain code. It's what hillbillies do. He was tickled somebody stopped to help him. When I saw him up close, I wondered how he made it as far as he had. The tires were big and he was frail. I went through the procedure of changing the wheels, uneasy about the bumper jack I was careful not to shake. I grew up in the Fifties when guys would crawl under their cars to work on them using bumper jacks. It was frequent in the news that a man was crushed to death when his bumper jack let go. I was glad to get the old boy back on the road, and he was thankful, offered to pay me. No, pay was not the purpose. We shook hands and went on our ways.  

alexander calder himself


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