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Saturday, February 28, 2015


siouxsie sioux

I took measures to improve my mood. Put on a Siouxsie & the Banshees live album from 2002. I saw them in 91, one of the great concerts of my life. Sat back in the movie-watching chair, cranked the volume up to concert, hunkered down and enjoyed the concert all the way through. I know Siouxsie's stage presence and was able to see her in my mind's eye and the rest of the band, seeing the stage, the different ones in the band, volume up good, it put me there in the crowd, shoulder to shoulder, everyone in motion, feeling the energy of the moment, one with the crowd and the band. I like her vocals, the ways she uses her voice, the songs she writes that to my ear are poetry. I think of her a poet who sings her verses with a rock band, like Bob Dylan in that way, Patti Smith, Steve Earle and many others. I questioned myself why I don't do this more often. I have so much good music in the house and have fallen into a time of the life where I want silence. Most of the time I want quiet. The radio in the car doesn't work anymore and I'm glad. I'd rather listen to the motor. Siouxsie tapped me in to where I wanted to be, got some rhythm in my bones and some of their ecstatic guitars in my head. The guitars in her band don't play melody. They play with sounds they can make that sometimes sound like a huge factory making things out of steel, hammering, all kinds of noises that come to an ecstatic frenzy and keep it going. Siouxsie Sioux I have appreciated as an artist, the same as I appreciate Bob Dylan, who goes her own way, makes the music the way she wants to make it. In its time, mid Seventies London punk was an act of separation from the rock that went before having become predictable. Immediately, punk rendered Sixties "classic rock" slow and dull. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols made headlines saying Peter Townsend of the Who was an "old fart." 

siouxsie sioux

In my chair, hearing Siouxsie's vocals I recalled that I know better than go to Siouxsie with expectation. She makes her songs her own way. I feel like I'm at a poetry reading where I hear the sequence of poems as the poet chose to read them. This was the second time hearing this album I bought when it was new. First time playing it, I went with expectation and was disappointed. Never heard it again. This evening, I picked this live album from the half dozen or so cds by Siouxsie because I knew I had not given it its due, had not listened to it with fresh ears. It has been between then and now that I have learned to let expectation go, be done with it. Early in the show, I was getting a little impatient because the early songs were slow and draggy. Then I shifted gears, remembered I listen to Siouxsie to see what she does with her art form rather than go to her with expectation. That's all it took. I was hearing the Siouxsie Sioux I love and stayed in the groove throughout the concert. I was remembering the first time I saw her on a video. It was on a tv screen in a punk club in Atlanta, late Seventies, I think. Ty Butler was in his apprenticeship for advertising photography. An Atlanta band at the time was playing there Ty wanted me to hear, The Swimming Pool Qs. Good band. While a band wasn't playing, videos played on the tv screen. I couldn't take my eyes off Siouxsie. It was the first image I'd seen of her and maybe second time I'd heard her. She is too good looking to be a rock star, so she fixes her face up in such severe makeup it's like face paint. She went to art school in London before the band. She painted her face in imaginative, interesting designs. Not full face paint. Around the eyes and sometimes lines going across her face. Severe hair. She has a pretty voice too, so she roughs it up doing as many vocal antics in a line as words, sometimes one word at a time, articulate while seeming not to be, the band overwhelming her and her screaming into the guitars. She does it right.   

siouxsie sioux

It felt good to be listening to Siouxsie again, haven't heard her in a few years. I can hear her in my head any time I want. I'd like to turn it on now, but it would seize all my attention. I was thinking while listening to Siouxsie, we have so much that is wonderful, beautiful and good in this world. Hiroshima was known for the finest Japanese gardens in Japan. Poof. We artists tend to want a peaceable world where the art that is in studios, stored, shown for sale, can be everywhere. I see Atlanta has some interesting art emergence, public art, art activities, classes, people getting together of a creative spirit. This is the world as I want it to be. Paris in the Twenties and Thirties was popping with Surrealism going on and the other artists and writers of all varieties. Paris having a renascence recovering from WW1, then bam, WW2. The 20th Century was the most violent, most deadly century ever. While the population was involved in war and war mind, resources going to the war machine, artists all over the world were illustrating the changes in human consciousness set in motion by Prometheus's second fire, electricity. Advancements brought on by the discovery of how to make electricity took us collectively to a place we were not ready for. This coming century will be one of moving inland to higher ground as ocean waves take over the foundations of coastal cities and residential areas. These mountains will fill up with people such that by the end of the century there may not be a tree left, the Appalachian chain one long city. Where will they get the water after the whole chain has been fracked and no longer the water source for the eastern half of the continent the Appalachians have served for so long?

siouxsie and the banshees

Glaciers, water source for much of the globe have melted and are melting. Maybe people of the future will figure out how to make water. Or be like Bermuda with no fresh water source, paint the roofs with lime and catch rainwater in barrels. Humans are creative. A whole lot of changes. We're used to it. Change is the nature of existence. Now that I see everything that went before is going away, I cannot imagine what civilization will be like in one more century of major changes. It will be now, the present moment, every moment, just like today. Different circumstances. Archival libraries will be moved to the mountains. The entire earth's coastline will have to be resurveyed. I see the atrocities those maniacs that call themselves Isis are doing, tearing up museums of antiquities in Syria, my heart sinks, and I remind self this is happening everywhere. The old civilization is on its way out. The Enlightenment is over. And something else is taking its place. More than likely some people know what philosophical era we're in now that's in ascendance. We'll get on, day by day, like usual, amazed looking back in history at the way we are now, so backward, like the Nineteenth Century looked from the Twentieth. The only thing I think I can say with certainty about the future is it will work out. I'm an apocaloptimist, one who sees everything going to shit, but it will all work out to the good. As this round of civilization is on its way out, the new round of civilization is presently on its way in. It will be a seamless transition over a few centuries, a natural flow that won't even know it's the beginnings of a new civilization. Or so I imagine. If I can imagine it, it's the signal that tells me this is the one thing it will not be. An old hillbilly sayin is in my mind, Just keep on a-keepin on. For me, this is the key. Just keep on a-keepin on. Go day by day seeing it's all to the good and keep on a-keepin on. Listen to more Siouxsie and the Banshees.


Friday, February 27, 2015


the hay barn

Perhaps the best thing for me to do is stop now. It may be best to just let it go for today. I'm in a rotten mood. Snowed in all day, didn't want to do anything. No music, no movie, no radio, little reading, minimal facebook, wanted to sleep all day and was interrupted just after I'd drifted into unconsciousness. No going back. Took grain to the donkeys in late afternoon, returning to the house immediately. I've laid about and laid about, watching my mood get moodier as the day went by. I turn on the radio and somebody is talking about cancer, turn the radio off. I don't think I have frustrated anger about anything in particular. It could be that I ate almost nothing yesterday and very little today. I tell self to eat something, have some Earl Grey tea, do something toward a new art project. I found some fir strips I did not know were here. This project will take some doing. It is nine six-inch plywood circles, half inch thick. Some plastic wood touches on each one will be necessary. Sanding them all too. Three rows of three circles held together by strips of fir three-quarters inch wide on the backside. The framework will run behind where the circles touch, rendering them out of sight. I'll have to fix each circle with screws in its place and make a system of numbers and letters to identify the locations on the framework where each circle goes. Take them off and paint each one of them, put them someplace to dry for a few months, then attach them to the framework with screws and glue. Doing anything toward it today was something I lacked the spirit for. I did find the sticks of fir, first step. 

mountain laurel

I'd so much rather put it together in my mind than get out the drill, the jigsaw, ruler, extension cord, paper and pencil. I have to be in a certain frame of mind for the construction. I need to see it clearly in my mind, and don't see this to the detail, yet, that I want to. This one is so labor intensive it stands before me like an obstacle course. It takes a certain mind to jump in. This is a particularly lazy day. Started a scrabble game this afternoon with somebody I'd played several games with. Forfeited the game this evening when I realized I really don't want to play scrabble anymore. I jumped in for a few weeks, but it took up too much time. My mind likes to make words out of letters, but it likes to do something else too. Comes a time I get tired of having all vowels. I used to search for the longest word and highest score I could get per turn. Today I put down the first thing I saw using no more than two or three letters, scoring 9 or 8 or 11, and not caring. Opponent scores 36, 28, 49, and I don't care. I see his score shoot way up past mine and don't care. Then say to self, if you don't care about any of it, why the hell are you wasting your time at it? I clicked on the forfeit button and left, promising self I won't be going back any time soon. At first, the game is about putting words together. Then it turns into strategies and numbers and scores. I can see the strategies are as endless as bridge strategies, I don't care to get that involved. I'd best stop playing it now that I see I don't like it anymore. I refuse to search for the highest score I can make per word. Knowing myself, I know when I'm done with something, it's over. No point in trying to force it, it will never come back. 


I have better things to do than focus my mind on making a higher score than somebody else. Why do I want to beat somebody at something? When I ask the question, Why?, it's over. I already know why. I've never taken an interest in competition. It may go back to my grandmother's wisdom she taught me with in childhood. I wanted to do something she thought foolish. She said, "What do you want to do that for? It's like a merry go round. You get on, you go round and round, you get off in the same place you got on. Where you been?" I didn't like the cold water that kind of thinking threw on what I thought was fun. But it never left me. Only heard it once and never forgot it. I don't even remember Bible verses that long I'd memorized for expectation in church. I remember Jesus wept. Woody Allen hit the nail on the head when he said if Jesus were to come back and see what all was done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up. It makes me laugh at these people who get their fifteen minutes of fame for some point of view devoid of compassion and call themselves Christian. I can only think they make Christian a bad name. Tell one that and be ready for the ensuing explosion of righteousness. I saw a funny clip yesterday on facebook of Pat Robertson, the wizened sage of the 700 (send me your money) club, warning that yoga is a Hindu trick to get us to praying, by way of mantra, to Hindu deities. We truly live in an insane society. When supreme ignorance passes for knowledge, the best place for me is at home. I'm doing facebook less, except for Daily Creative Practice page, bored by republican claims Obama is a Muslim. So what if he is. He has a Kenyan heritage. So what. The Bush family has a Nazi heritage and nobody complains about it. 


I see how the Fake news channel has twisted the minds of half the American population, the below average half, white men, the obedient people most susceptible to propaganda, easy targets, and I want revenge. I want the world to be a better place, but it's not, nor is it going to be. It looks like globalization brought all the cultures in the world close enough together to see they hate each other. Ideally, bring everyone together in unity, kumbaya, but what happens when they see each other face to face: conflict. Beware of them Hindu deities. The Reagan Trojan Horse brought us division inside of division, divide and conquer. We're conquered. A cop kills an unarmed black man, woman or child and the video goes viral, he gets a paid two week vacation. Our government legislates against us, the judicial system decides against us. The corporate takeover of our government throughout the land regards "we the people" the enemy. Our resources are being drained from us into Swiss etc banks, shrinking the middle class into the working class, all of us the peasant class, a Mad Max world. I see this happening and what can I do? Read a book, advance an art project, have a nap, write, watch a movie? I've come to a place where I laugh at hope in myself. I can see now that civilization as we know it really is going completely away. It is at once incredibly interesting and dispiriting. Democracy gone away is not the end of it. In my lifetime I saw the pattern of anti-intellectualism in American life go all the way to anti-paying attention and then to anti-democracy. Them people up in Washington, they got things under control. Like my friend Lorne Campbell never dreamed he would live to see the Berlin wall go down, I never believed I'd see popular police state in America, though saw it coming since LBJ. I didn't take into account the full power of television. In my lifetime, I've seen television become American culture. I've seen the obvious become mystery. I warned you. I'm not in a good mood. However, I'll wake in the morning with a new light. Fare forward, voyager. Just had to ride this one out.       

home on waterfall road


Thursday, February 26, 2015


bert stern

The windows after sunset are black. It is an odd feeling to look up from the monitor to the window and see black after seeing white all day. I look at the window and return to the monitor snow-blinded for awhile. The windows are white or black these days of snow on the ground. This is the only way I can see dividing the whole spectrum of life into white or black. Day with snow on the ground and night. Another reason I must withdraw my mind from politicians is the way they divide everything into black and white, not only racially, going with the polar opposites, ignoring the spectrum of life in between. It is between the poles we live, not at one end or the other. It is in good writing I see the spectrum between, which turns my attention to everyday life where I never see anyone who is completely good or completely bad. The good are probably dead. It's said the good die young. I don't believe it, but it's fun to use for the humor. I know one man who is 103 and would be at the top of my list of people I could say I've known who can be called good. Also knew a woman who lived up into her nineties, was bad unto making it easy to think her evil. I think we all know a few people we'd call bad unto evil who are not in prison, except the prison of their own minds. And we all know some people we'd call good according to our individual ideas of what it means to be good. I don't think of good a chalk line to walk without sin. I think of it more as an attitude toward life. 

bert stern

Somebody whose attitude toward life has compassion in it tends to be somebody we call a good person. Somebody whose attitude toward life has compassion absent turns out to be somebody we might call bad. We all know somebody we believe has no conscience. People without conscience tend to end up behind bars, get killed, or just fade from the picture, while people without compassion thrive in this phenomenal world, or seem to. The old hymn, Farther Along, plays in my head. Farther along, we'll know all about it, farther along, we'll understand why, cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine, we'll understand it all by and by. One of the things I love in this life is sitting in a hillbilly old-time religion church with everybody singing this song in their slow, one word at a time way. I think way down deep it's the lack of compassion in the world of making money that I have a hard time living with. In the early 1970s I read a book, Small is Beautiful, that rang my bells. If I were to go back and read it now, I have an idea I'd find I have lived its principles. I want to maintain my spot on the earth's surface I have dominion over with integrity unto the ground itself. I want my ground to be rich in trees and topsoil. I don't want to use it to make money, like lease it to pumpkin growers, or Christmas tree growers or any of the other possibilities that poison the land and the ground water. I can't help it that the ground water has been poisoned at the source, but I don't have to add to it. 

bert stern

My little spot that Spring Lizard Creek runs through, I've allowed my land to be itself. I've only made more money than I needed to get by on, living frugally, a few times. They didn't last long, just enough to catch up from falling behind. Some years ago I came to see the importance of living the way I want the world to be. I can't change the whole world. But it is my world that I live in, the community, the people I know, neighbors, my spot I pay taxes on. I don't live in LA, NY or DC. Those places are somebody else's concerns, not mine. I'm all the time hearing somebody start a sentence, "The world would be a better place if everybody would (fill in the blank)." The only thing everybody is going to do is ingest, evacuate and expire. So the whole world is not going to do any one thing. I can't change or benefit anything beyond my own small world I interact inside. In my own world, at home, here in the house, inside my head I have a degree of control. If I live the principles I believe the rest of the world would benefit from, then my world benefits. If I believe compassion would benefit the world, then I can regard the people and wildlife of my world with compassion and see if it does or does not. I've tried it. It does benefit. It benefits all concerned. My world turns into a better place. Out there in the flatland and across the sea is other people's worlds. Mine is here where I live. If I lived in NYC, there, too, my world would be the people I know, the people I interact with. If I treat the people in my world right, they treat me right. It comes down to how I want to be treated by the people around me. I regard them with respect and respect comes my way too. 

bert stern

Live the changes I want to see in the world, and my world becomes the way I want the world to be. I've found a good place where my world is the way I want it to be. My interactions with the people I know are friendly without suspicion, open to who the other is, and my world has become a world I enjoy living in every day. I've committed to the path of love, which is not a matter of pink teddy bears. Regarding the people around me with basic human respect is an act of love. Taking hay to the donkeys in the morning is an act of love. Lending a hand to somebody who needs an assist is an act of love. It doesn't need to be noticeable as such. It's the motivation in the heart, where it comes from that matters. Like in old-time hillbilly singing and music making, it must be from the heart or it's not music. If what I say in conversation comes from the heart and what I do comes from the heart, I've made my world a better place as I speak and as I do. Inside myself it's a very big deal. Outside self it may be a ripple, and that's ok. It doesn't even need to be a ripple. It doesn't need to be anything outside myself. When my attitude toward life says everybody around me is good people, then they are. If my attitude toward life were to say everybody around me sucks, then they do. And they get the blame. In my world is no television, except in the houses of everybody I know. I avoid everything on tv as corporate misinformation, deception its purpose. One of my rules of thumb is don't eat anything advertised on tv (except pizza). I don't want a new car and don't want the latest shaving equipment. I don't like being told with pants on fire urgency I need to buy something I don't want. Absence of television is automatic quiet and peace in my world.   

bert stern himself


Wednesday, February 25, 2015


georgia o'keefe

Changing clothes yesterday before going into town for lunch, I thought I'd go over the face hair with clippers, trim it back. It was ragged, which I liked. Decided to leave some goat beard, shorten it by about half, got carried away with the clippers and mowed all of it. It will grow back. Now I don't have to mess with it for awhile. It is one of the great privileges of retirement that I can let my continually growing hair go and not fool with it. At home, I wear the same things all the time, changing shoes three and four times a day for going outside to feed the donkeys and slip n slide to the mailbox. At times feet become annoyingly frozen, I take the warm ones from the heater and put the cold shoes on the heater toward next change. I prefer not to smell in public like I look. I'm now one of the worst looking people in the grocery store. I'd best stay out of Walmart or my picture will appear online in collections of the freaks sighted in Walmart. Now that I go almost no place, I let appearance go. Laziness. Tired of shaving. I've been tired of shaving since the first time. My daddy lathered his face up with a brush in such excess I dreaded having to shave. He used the Gillette double-edge blades and finished with little dabs of toilet paper stuck to his face. He took time shaving like mother took with makeup. Serious business. I was unable to make such a ritual of shaving, and so glad when the Bic disposable razors came along. I'd take a small amount of lather from the spray can and smear it on my face, go over it with the razor and be done. I missed places and didn't care. I shaved less and less as I grew older. Shaving did not make me feel like a man. That was not the kind of man I wanted to be. I'll call it Obedience Man. I never wanted to be an obedient robot. Took a lot of hell for it in the early years. It just made me worse. 

marcel janco

In childhood play with neighbor kids, we were in the time of cowboys and Indians, before the time of cops and drug dealers. I only played the Indian, could not play cowboy in the early years for the same reasons I could not be a cop grown up and have a hard time not being ashamed of my status as a white man. White man has been an oppressor to people of any shade of any color for multiple centuries. I don't know where it came from in early childhood, but in the company of people of other shades of pigment I feel shame. I thought the Lone Ranger was cool for having an Indian his best friend. I thought Tonto was much cooler than Kimo Sabe. For me, the Lone Ranger was Tonto's sidekick. If I'd seen Dances With Wolves in childhood, I would have dove in, entered the movie and become Kevin Costner. I like Graham Greene the actor in movies. I think I had an identity problem in childhood. I did not feel right about being white. I was not comfortable with white privilege. I knew some Mexican kids and knew some black kids, liked them a lot. My best friend K-6 was Mexican, Mitchell Ledesma. He could not go to Catholic school for a reason I never knew. Maybe parents couldn't afford it. They surely could have. All the Mexican kids went to Catholic school. I had a sense he'd been into some sort of trouble, insubordinate or something. I liked Mitchell. He was a good guy. I didn't know then that the other kids took me for a Mexican-lover, wouldn't have cared if I knew. The other kids didn't have much to do with him, which was ok with me. He was more interesting to me than the others. Catholic school only went to the sixth grade for the Mexican kids. They entered the public school system in the seventh grade. Mitchell and I drifted apart through the seventh grade as he spent more time with his Mexican friends. 

anish kapoor

I never had any problems with the Mexican kids. They all knew I was Mitchell's friend. They were friendly to me. We went into the seventh grade in 1954, the year of school desegregation. All the time before was in the time of overt segregation. The varieties of skin tones lived in their own neighborhoods. My parents were barely tolerant of me having a Mexican friend, more because he was a Catholic than a Mexican, though Mexican was bad enough. To walk to the movie theater a mile and a half to two miles, the longest way was through white neighborhoods. The shortest way was through the Mexican section and the black neighborhood. I wished none of them any ill will and took the shortest way through their neighborhoods feeling safe. There was so much white teenagers beating up black teenagers in the time, a white kid was not safe where the black people lived. I felt no problem. I was not one of the ones bullying them, and they knew it. I did not know it, but they knew who I was and where I lived. They knew I was friendly with the few black people I knew. I walked by a bar I wanted to go inside so badly. It was the time of pomade and men wearing caps made of a woman's stocking during the day to hold the hair down for Friday and Saturday nights. I saw a number of the people there coming and going during my walks to the movie theater on Saturday afternoons, and no one even looked at me with a hint of a threat. Red-headed, freckled Irish-looking kid, ultra-whiteboy. They may have admired the kid's pluck, unafraid of them. I felt no ill toward them in my heart and had a faith it would keep me safe. A few old men sat out front during the days in wooden chairs, men who were not quite right, needed looking after. They were welcome at the bar, a place they could be safe during the day where everybody knew them and saw to it nothing happened to them. 

antoni tapies

Walking by the bar, I'd speak with the old boys leaning back in their wooden chairs against the wall of the bar. They'd smile big and I'd smile big. The time came when I walked through the black section every time, primarily to see the old boys in front of the bar. They recognized me and I recognized them, how you doin? The music on the jukebox was the music I listened to at home on the black AM station where the music was the best, Ivory Joe Hunter, Big Mama Thornton, Slim Harpo, Jimmy Reed, James Brown, The Chantels. It was dark and smoky inside the open doorway. The jukebox played a song I liked every time I passed. It was the time of Ray Charles, Lonely Avenue, and Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk that was number one for a year. I probably would have been safer in there among the grownup black people than anywhere else. The way white people believed, I'd have been killed walking in the door. I believe I could have gone in and bought a coke at the bar and it would have been a friendly time. Though my heart believed I could walk in the door and be ok, my white upbringing told me to be afraid, white culture the only culture I knew, culture the same as reality from the inside. As throughout my life, I had conflicted feelings. My heart and mind said one thing and the culture I lived in said another, most often quite another. I watched Fifties cowboy and Indian tv shows pulling for the Indians, knowing they would lose, they always do, but they were my people, my team I fought with in the neighborhood Indian wars. According to DNA lab results, I'm mostly German, almost as much Irish, then English and Swedish. I'm a whiteboy. And I've never felt right being white. I grew up in a world of white people who looked down on anybody of any race other than white. I never saw any sense in it, yet it became a part of me, a part I shook off when I set out on my own. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015


vada's chalk

Race season is upon us. This year we have a new mancave. Before, we went to the basement where a corner was the mancave with radio/cd player we listened to the race on that was playing upstairs on tv. On the basement's cement floor we stomped our cigarette butts. We talked as we felt like it without editing for kids. Times when the race was boring, Justin put radio on a heavy-metal station, long-hair auditorium rock, Led Zeppelin clones. My preference when listening to rock is punk, but Justin and Melvin don't care for punk. It doesn't matter that I'm not particularly a fan of auditorium rock, because I can listen to it without reaction. If I were to take control of the music for my own enjoyment, like they do, both of them would say, Uncle, before the end of the first minute of the first song. I like for my music to move ahead, have some drive. Long, slow guitar solos get boring after fifty years. For my enjoyment in the mancave, I'd want to hear The Used, Hole, Garbage, Jane's Addiction. Justin and Melvin would hate it. So I listen to snail slow heavy metal, long guitar solos, very few of them worth hearing a second time, or the first, Every once in awhile the dj will play a Stone's song and I send a mental thank you to the dj. And sometimes they play Billy Idol, who started as a London punker, in his American heavy metal period introducing punk rhythms into American metal. Also, we had the thrill of listening to Rodney Carrington, Larry the Cable Guy, David Allan Coe and others on cd. For me, who would rather be listening to a Dvorak quartet, there comes a time hearing somebody talk dirty the hundredth time, it turns into a chore to hear it. I confess, these comedians double me over laughing, the first, second and third times, but not the tenth.  

Justin and Melvin's smart-phones have rendered the mancave more or less irrelevant the last months. Each one will go to some video game they're playing and totally zone out. They're playing different video games, though in their minds they're communicating, like watching television together. When they're both completely gone into their cell phones, I sit back and relax and visualize art projects I'm working on. Invariably, I come to resting my elbows on my knees and chin in the palms of my hands, looking in my head at different possibilities in a new art project, how to construct something, steps to take. It won't be long before somebody says, "You doin all right buddy?" Woke out of my reverie, I say, "Yeah, I'm just making art." "OK, just wantin to be sure you're all right." "I'm all right. No problem." They go back to cell phone games and I return to whatever construction I was working on. Neither one has any idea about things I call art. And I don't have any idea about what's important to them, hunting. We all see it like we have our own interests. I don't make like knowing about art makes me any better than them knowing about hunting. In fact, from my point of view, their interest is more practical than mine.  I can't shoot an arrow down the shaft of the arrow I shot before it. Politically, they're of white working class Limbaugh mind, and I'm not. They can talk all they want from their point of view, and I can talk freely from my point of view. We don't argue. We just accept that each of us has our own point of view. They let me say the F-word, the C-word, the S-word, the L-word, the whole alphabet of forbidden words one is required to edit from one's speech to qualify a liberal. I'm not a liberal either. When I'm with my friends we say anything we want to say.

The mancave was really over when both Justin and Melvin got smart-phones. Vada had to wear shoes to come into the mancave, and somebody had to escort her on the steps. Crystal came to the mancave to have a cigarette and visit while Vada played before an audience. They want to do some serious work on the basement, inspiring Crystal to make a room upstairs into a mancave. Cheyanne not living with them anymore, her room was repainted and refurnished into the mancave. Even two pair of antlers were brought up from the basement. And the mancave has its own tv. Now the floor has carpet, meaning we have to use ashtrays. The television means we never can take a break from the tv, essential for my mental health. The door stays open and Vada likes to play on the floor with us around her. Crystal joins us. Crystal doesn't mind how we talk. We keep it cool when Vada is around. It wouldn't do for her to tell things we say at day-care. Vada is a spirit of light. I like having her in the room to distract me from the hours of television. If it were just the race, it would be ok, but with a thousand commercials it beats me down, makes me want to go home where it's quiet. I never listen to commercial radio at home, so I live free of commercials. By intent. Television on Sunday from one til nine at night and my circuits are fried. I enjoy watching the cars, then it's over, followed by hours of golf, and whatever sport is current. The mancave, before, was where I got away from the television. Listening to Aerosmith and Journey, bands I did not listen to in their time, is a welcome break from pictures of stringy cheese pizzas and cutting your cell phone bill in half with a chainsaw. Television has become surrealism, itself, but that still doesn't make it interesting enough to hold my attention for very long. 

We don't talk anymore in the upstairs mancave like we talked down in the basement mancave. In the basement, we sat in a circle and talked. In the upstairs mancave, we sit in line, like on the seat of a pickup with space between us, all facing forward. We sit and gape at the tv. Somebody says something from time to time. It's more a den than a mancave, painted and decorated. A clean floor for Vada to play on is a plus. Where the mancave before was my distraction from the television, now Vada playing on the floor is my distraction. She doesn't just play on the floor. She is in motion all the time. She has learned and knows well her charm holds our attention. She makes us laugh. All of us love her as our own. She loves Melvin like a giant teddy bear. She found her plastic bucket of colored chalk. Brought it into the middle of the floor. She sat on the floor, took all the pieces of chalk out, one at a time, spread them over a small space on the floor. I picked up the camera to get some pictures of the universe of her colored chalk spread on the floor. I got the first picture and Justin told Vada to put them up. She started putting them back into the bucket, one at a time. I got a picture of Vada picking up the pieces of chalk. Cheyanne saw me with the camera, an opportunity to photo-bomb. It's in her and can't be trained out of her. She jumped in and scooped up as many pieces as she could hold in both hands, dumped them into the bucket, went back for more, cleaned them right up. I was sitting there in awe of what had happened just as I went to take some pictures of Vada's chalk. They went away. Zip, they were gone. All I could do was laugh at what happened before my eyes. Whatever pictures I wanted to get were not meant to be. It was so much like an act of God, a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, I accepted it as such and had a good laugh at the curious sequence of events. It was like focusing in on a good photo of a bird and just as I'm ready it flies. 


Monday, February 23, 2015



Yesterday morning I heard Jenny make a successful bray. She has found the horn. She has not yet learned how to extend the horn like Jack, but she's found it. She's looked for it over a year. I was told by Jenny's previous human that she brayed all the time. I don't believe it. She's been over a year attempting to learn how to bray. She sounded like a high-pitched hound's bark until yesterday. It has been a real effort for her to find the horn in her throat that makes the bray. I see her watching Jack closely when he brays. Sometimes she will start her squealing attempt, then Jack will go in to full bray, Jenny will stop and watch him closely like a guitar player watching another guitar player's fingers perform a particular run, learning by watching. I keep her aware I'm paying attention to her progress. I congratulated her on successfully finding the horn. Her next trick is to figure out how to extend the honk like Jack does, make a long, deep-throated donkey bray. She would be comic if I didn't know she is trying so hard. It amuses me to see her attempt a bray, seeing she tries with all her might the best she knows how. I encourage her efforts. She's getting there. My guess is this time next year she'll be braying alongside Jack. I'll have a donkey duet in the mornings. I tend to give carrot to Jack first, honoring his Alpha status. He doesn't seem to care and Jenny doesn't seem to mind. She wants to be first, but defers to Alpha. When she was Alpha, she got the first, no two ways about it. 


The donkeys taught me this. I didn't just figure it out. Even when Jenny's nature makes her want to be first, she will defer to Jack's status. Jack couldn't care less. Or so he gives the appearance. Jack doesn't show feeling like Jenny does, but I also know Jack feels. I suspect Jenny's interpretation of why I give carrot to Jack first could be a reward for his bray. A time or two I've given Jenny carrot first and Jack looked on with an eye that says something is not right, a pattern has been broken. Jenny's emotions are out on the surface all the time. I can read Jenny's feelings easily. Jack, on the other hand, shows what appears to be absence of emotion, but as I know Jack better with time, I see he feels the same as Jenny feels, it just doesn't show as readily. Jack is a shy donkey. Jenny does not do shy. Jack has learned to get along with Jenny by giving her Jenny's way. She will have it. I can see his love for Jenny out in the open. His love for her is so much a part of who Jack is that his character is up front, foremost, his love for Jenny. In his Alpha status, he automatically defers to Jenny from his love for her. When Jenny was Alpha, she was a bossy, aggressive Alpha, not in love. She was stressed by the role. Jack is the same as Alpha as not. Alpha's role is to keep an eye on the meadow for any potential threat that may cross the line of the fence. Times when they are at the other end of the meadow and I go out to take them grain or hay, they don't seem to recognize me from a distance. Jack will see me first, then Jenny will look. They will stand and look at me while I call their names, looking like they're not sure. Sounds like, but sound is only one of the senses in the test. 

jenny and jack

It seems from a pattern I find consistent, they recognize me by sight at about fifty feet. It is the distance they stop walking toward me when approaching from the other side of the meadow and take a good look to confirm their uncertainty. Once recognized by sight, Jack walks fast or runs to me at a gallop. First thing, he needs to smell my hand. Only after a sniff is he convinced it really is his human friend. He smiles big, a happy smile. He snorts in an excited equine manner. Jack is a happy donkey by nature. Jenny had some extreme experiences before she came here to live with Jack that made her slow to get to know. She was aggressive in her defensive feelings. The aggression went out of her the day she fell in love with Jack. She was in shock, a young donkey. Two men muscled her into a trailer, hauled her up a mountain with uncountable curves and put her out with a jackass rapist. I was told she was three, though my feeling now is she was maybe a very early three like just a few weeks. I don't believe she was much past two. My feeling says Jack is close to the same age as Jenny by months, one way or another. The woman I bought her from told me she'd bought Jenny (Daisy to her) from a woman she was buying miniature goats from. She said the donkey looked so undernourished her ribs were showing. She bought the donkey with the goats to bring it up to good health. Jenny lived with goats all the time before she came here. She and one of the goats were friends where I bought her from. I felt sad for both Jenny and the goat being separated. Animals mourn the loss of their friends like we mourn the loss of our friends. Jenny's difficulty in the first months here were the months of grief after losing her goat friends and her human friends. Taken by force from her life. I gave her plenty of space, because she needed it. Jack gave her no space at all.


I was told Jenny once had a bad case of fleas. The treatment was to be covered with used motor oil. It works. My imagination can't go far enough to get a sense of how much Jenny hated having her lovely hair covered with oil. The scent must have been agony for her, like gasoline fumes. Donkeys have sensitive noses. Like all the animals and birds, donkeys are vain about their appearance, their hair, their scent. Then she was sold like a slave to be sexually harassed in her grief. It was not easy for her. I stayed my side of the fence for several weeks, maybe even a couple months after she arrived. She acted like she wanted to bite me sometimes taking a carrot. I watched my fingers at first. A time came I could count on her not biting my finger, but she'd touch a finger sometimes with her teeth taking the carrot to make me jump. Donkey slapstick humor. I gave them carrot every morning. Even when Jenny was in her most hateful first months, I gave her carrot by hand every morning. I expected nothing of her. I've never forced her, never even scolded her. There was a time we were getting acquainted on the verge of becoming friendly she kicked me. It amounted to no more than a tap. Fact is, I believe she withdrew the force of the kick as soon as she saw it was me, not Jack. I spun around like a donkey and kicked her in the rump with the side of my foot, merely a tap to a donkey. She jumped and looked around at me with a look in her eye that said, I didn't know you could kick. I said, You kick me, I kick you. She never kicked me again except the time I stepped between her and Jack just as they were starting a kick-boxing match. Her hoof touched the side of my leg like touching my hand to the side of my leg lightly, barely a touch. She withdrew the force as soon as she saw what she'd done. She had repentance in her entire demeanor. I thanked her and congratulated her on a good save. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015



The supreme good is like water,

which nourishes all things without trying to.

It is content with the low places that people disdain.

Thus it is like the Tao. 

In dwelling, live close to the ground.

In thinking, keep to the simple. 

In conflict, be fair and generous.

In governing, don't try to control.

In work, do what you enjoy.

In family life, be completely present. 

When you are content to be simply yourself

and don't compare or compete,

everybody will respect you.

                      --tr by Stephen Mitchell


Saturday, February 21, 2015


wild turkey stretches in the sun

The mother of invention, necessity, drove me through the plowed snowbank between the car and the road after the day had warmed up a little. With rear wheel drive, it would have required some snow shovel work. Front wheel drive can get momentum running backwards through the car length of clear ground under the car, pushing the rear wheels through the mound of snow. The rear wheels clear tracks for the front wheels to get a grip on going through the snow. It took a wee bit of slipping and sliding, nowhere near a concern, just ice. Returned easily through the tracks made by departure. The six inches of snow has shrunk down to about four inches, though now it's icy from sun warming the surface during the day, melting just enough to make a thin crust of ice in the night. Front wheel drive, new tires, a car that runs perfectly, dependably, good center of gravity, a car I've driven in snow, ice, mud, over meadows. I take it anyplace I'd take a pickup. I use the back seat as a small pickup bed. Back seat and trunk, I have a an enclosed pickup. It has a big trunk. I needed to go to Carpenter's house to pick up two gallons of water for a week of morning coffee. I'd walked up the driveway three times in this snow and Justin drove his truck up and down it. It already had tracks and I knew the snow between the tracks was not too deep for the car. I had a mound of snow at the edge of the road to crash through and spin the front tires through, sliding this way and that, and come out the other side. Driving up the tracks was the same as without snow. Returning to the road was a slip-n-slide adventure for a moment. 

two turkeys

I need to hit those places with enough momentum to force my way at least half through and let the spinning tires use the momentum I'm able to provide for them to pull it the rest of the way. Let the momentum stop and that's it. Stuck as soon as it stops. Then there's no going forward or backward. I've learned the subtleties of driving on snow and ice with this car over the course of six winters. I've driven front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, all of them several years apiece, to know how to drive mountain roads in every condition with each one. Four-wheel is awfully good. It will take hold of about anything, even sheer ice if you know how to handle it. Four-wheel is handy. Now that I'm not working, don't need to be hauling things like ladders, toolboxes, shovels and so on, taking trash bags to the dump and hauling three bales of hay from the barn to the donkeys is all the hauling I do anymore. The trunk handles it fine. I've found the limits of front-wheel drive, places it would not go that I knew four-wheel could make it. Not many. Not enough to make the difference in expense and weight worth it. Front wheel drive, the weight of the engine is where it's needed, between the front wheels. Every fall I buy two new front tires and put the ones from the front on the back. I like having new tires on the front to pull me through winter. This old car doesn't look like much, but the motor and the driving train are in excellent running condition. I have a good mechanic who keeps it there. Any little thing new that comes up, I tell him the sound or the symptom, and like the guys on Car Talk, he knows what it is. He knows the engine of this car literally inside out, having worked on them at a dealership for a number of years when it was new. It just so happens he knows everything about my car. And, he's Crystal's daddy, Vada's grandpa. 

two turkeys

Main reason to go to town was birdseed. I was out of sunflower seeds. I buy that other mixed birdseed and the birds peck maybe half of it, but they take all the sunflower seeds. Nothing is left but pieces of shell all over the snow. The sunflower seed keeps the birds warm at night, keeps their joints greased, brightens their feathers. And the red squirrels. I've made my feral neighbors somewhat dependent, dependent by expectation. I don't want to leave them without for a day, especially when the ground is covered with snow and ice and it's zero at night. Little chickadees need something in the morning right away. I have to take carrots to the donkeys first and give them their hay. The moment I step out the door, Jack brays, Jenny attempts a bray that sounds like a high-pitched hound's bark. They're hopping up and down, Ice Cream Man finally woke up and has carrots. Carrots make them so happy in the morning they dance. Carrot time is happy time. Next is hay. Chickadees, titmice, snowbirds in the trees overhead call to me to come on with breakfast. The donkeys are ready to graze immediately. Carrots I buy every trip to town. The grocery store sells a big bunch of them for three dollars. It's like giving a kid ice cream. A bag a week. I'm happy to give them that. Was running low on sweet grain for the donkeys, would need some before Monday. A fifty pound bag of grain and a forty pound bag of birdseed from two different hardware stores. I could have bought both from one, but like to give my business to both places. It's my small support for each one. I don't have a great deal to offer, but what I have is best given to people I support. I feel like buying anything is a gesture of support for whoever made it and is selling it, be it working in an American sweatshop in Malaysia, or a regional band selling CDs and tshirts. I want to buy everything I need in Sparta. Exceptions like books, shoes and paint, I get online. I don't have much to support the local economy with, but what I have is given in the spirit of support.   

shadow on the snow

The grocery store packed with people on a Friday afternoon, never feeling congested, registers flowing with the traffic. Didn't see many people I knew. Parking lot packed. Everybody taking a breather, getting out, restocking some food. I tend to stay away from town on Friday afternoons when the traffic is from hell, the kind that makes people from Atlanta exclaim, "What traffic?" when I complain about Friday afternoon traffic in a town with three lights. Today was no choice. Needed water. Birds and donkeys calling. Low on catfood too. I felt comfortable, at home, where I belong. And, of course, spent twice what I intended going in. I don't pay attention to what I spend at the grocery store. If I don't buy it this time, I will next time,. It's all going to the same place. Grocery store done, went to the liquor store and bought a fifth of Wild Turkey Rye, good sipping liquor. Drove home with a six-inch chunk of ice on the hood, top and trunk lid. Mine was the only car in town with Monday's snow still on it, frozen solid. Even driving 63 through Thompson Flat didn't blow it loose. It will melt in a few days. Had to scrape ice from the windshield and free the wipers stuck in ice. The car started first crank, like in summer. I love a car that starts easily and dependably at zero. The drive to town and back was one of the beautiful days of the year when the mountain landscape is good as it gets, all in snow, clear sky with wispy clouds, and such a relief to have temperature above twenty. Talking with a woman at the gas station, she said we're having a heat wave. Any other time, twenty would be way too cold, but today, twenty was a welcome relief. The donkeys felt it too. They could graze with one side to the sun as to the fireplace, warm their bones before another cold night. 

donkey trail to the watering hole


Friday, February 20, 2015


donkey jack

This morning I went out with carrots to see the donkeys and toss them some hay. Jenny was standing at the gate waiting. Jack brayed and I couldn't see him. The steam of his breath I saw blow by the corner of the den. He was standing inside where it's not so cold. I handed him a carrot. He seemed grateful I didn't expect him to step out into the cold and stand on ice. He stepped out a ways, acting like he was so miserable he wanted to curl up into a ball. Jenny's demeanor gave the appearance that she was equally miserable, only more motivated by hunger than Jack. Of course, I apologized to them for not having better circumstances for them, a better barn with a door. I want to put blankets on them in the night, but know in the morning blankets would be stomped into their toilet, worthless and uncleanable. I spread some hay at their den's opening to give them the option to stand inside out of the cold air to graze. Also put some in the place I put the hay down for them day by day. Fortunately, the sun came out for awhile giving them a slight bit of warmth on one side at a time. Since my experience yesterday stepping into their den, surprised by the difference, I feel better about them at night. It was warm and pleasant, no wind inside, warmth radiating up from the floor. By warm, I don't mean summer day warm. Just noticeably warmer. At two below zero, the temperature in there could be two above. They spent much of the day inside the den. Jenny came out sometimes to graze. Jack came out a few times, too, but I had a feeling the ice on the ground made the zero air all the more difficult to bear. Nothing but ice to stand on. Ice to lie down on. He stayed in the den. I felt for him, too. I could easily imagine how agonizing it must be with only the blanket of your coat, below zero all night, and not above six during the day, no reprieve except huddled next to Jenny, the love of his life. 

donkey jen

Much as I want to comfort them, I'm freezing, dressed comfortable for 20, but not minus two, so I did not have a spirit for going into the shed and rubbing Jack's legs to help his circulation. I wanted to put a blanket over his back. My fingertips were freezing. Handling the blue plastic tarp, it minus two degrees, ice chunks from the snow hit my fingertips. Get used to it and do it. Like having cold feet. When the feet are so cold for so long I can't stand it any longer, I change shoes, put on ones I set on the heater. It warms them without making them hot. I put cold shoes there and change shoes a few times through the day. Jack does not have the option. His feet are cold all the time. I want to hug the donkeys, warm them. Later in the day, I took some sweet grain to them, more today than usual. They'll need it tonight. Put out some more hay. I want them to have all they can eat for these below zero nights. Forecast for tonight is minus seven. I almost feel guilty for having heat, blankets, sweaters, shoes, heavy socks. I have to remind self my whole body is acclimatized to the luxuries of civilization, like heat in the winter. I remember Marsha stressing the donkeys can take it and it is good for their health to take it. I think of the Rolling Stones song, Beast of Burden, am I rough enough, am I tough enough? I know the donkeys are tough and I know they can take it, but I feel Jack's agony with relentlessly cold feet. Beast of burden or not, he feels it. I feel like what makes donkeys exceptional is they can take it. Pictures of donkeys carrying things, acoustic pickup trucks, and carrying people, we think nothing of it. It's what donkeys do. If I'd trained Jack to carry things on his back, he would carry up to the very last ounce his legs could handle. 

donkey jack

In my first months with Jack, before Jenny, I was talking to him one day and said I would like to ride him. By then, I knew he was understanding what I was saying. He snorted his expression of agreement. He'd like it too. I said, I weigh so much, I don't want to hurt your back. He moved his head in an expression of appreciation. I heard the words in my head, "Thanks for consideration." This morning Jack seemed like he was shivering so hard it expressed in whimpering like a child about to break into tears, unable to quite get there. He went for the carrot like he was saying, Oh, thank you, thank you. He didn't chew very well, dropped one of the carrots. I'd say to him, Donkey Jack, and he would make a whimpering grunt, like appealing from the bottom of his heart for me to fix this weather condition with my human magic. I wanted to will them a place to get out of this cold at least long enough for their bones to thaw. I think of Himalayan climbers, able to function cold to the bone. Some come back with fingers, toes and nose gone to frostbite. I feel like Jack and Jenny are having a difficult time with the relentless zero degrees, but for having each other. Their hair is thick. Both have rolled in dust so much their backs are like soft clay. I touch either one of them on the back and a cloud of dust rises. I've learned the dust is valuable to them to keep parasites down and perhaps in winter the dust works as a form of insulation in their hair. They can get off their feet, hole up together in a corner and keep each other warm. As long as they're moving about, I know they're ok. Being in love as they are, the inter-dependent intimacy bonds them all the more. Jenny did not appear to be as shaken by below zero ground to stand on and the air so cold. I could see she was not comfortable. She could function. She reluctantly stood on the icy snow to graze on some hay. Jack preferred to stay near and inside their den. 


I came to the house for some good, hot African coffee, to see what my friends are putting on facebook, see the political headlines for laughs. I don't need political cartoons anymore. The politicians are already hysterically comic. It gets them on tv. Name recognition. I don't care what you think of me, just remember my name, is their creed. Two-thirds a century of television and stupid is now electable, not just electable, preferred. How else explain the stardom of Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz? They're as vacant as the Hollywood stars, vacant as tv itself. USA is in a pickle, believe it or don't. Already is, not future tense. My younger friends are good at hunting and gardening, heat with wood, are resourceful, good at buying and selling, trading. I have confidence they will be all right. Then I turn to my artist friends at Daily Creative Practice and see the new images posted. I choose to live in this time without a future as if that's how it is all the time, which it is. I make my art objects. Not motivated by money, the absence of prospects to sell anything doesn't slow me down. I paint and put things together for now. Later is not my concern. I have a visual idea, put it together to completion, love it for itself, for the idea it becomes embodiment of, and be happy. Writing these daily entries for no reason but the doing is meditation time. I never took to sitting cross-legged and clearing my mind. Tried it for several years, felt some benefit from it, especially finding empty mind. I don't feel like I need to sit cross-legged on a pillow to go to empty mind. When things get a little to frantic swirling around in my head, I'll go to empty mind and take a break. These mind journeys I write open a door to the subconscious with empty mind looking for, waiting for images, words, a huge museum of memories, dances with them, makes connections, has insights, works out conundrums, and vents frustrations too. 



Thursday, February 19, 2015


marcel janco

Another cold night and day to freeze a crust on yesterday's snow, the surface melted slightly by the sun, froze overnight. I had to poke holes in it with the walking stick each step and punch holes in it with my shoes. Don't have boots. I wear heavy shoes and heavy socks. Getting a grip with feet in today's condition of the snow was easier than in the fresh snow. The crunchy surface adds traction under the shoes, like tiny bits of gravel. Forecast says Friday the temperature will be above zero. Must go to one hardware store to buy sunflower seeds for the birds and squirrels, and another hardware store for a bag of sweet grain for donkeys. They need the nutrition especially now to warm themselves on the inside through the zero night. Earlier today, I stepped into their den, spreading new hay at the opening so they can stand out of the wind in the morning to graze before I get up. A few days ago I spread old hay on the floor and already they'd wet it down good with piss and continue the mound of donkey biscuits in the middle and against the back wall. I can't help but see it's the way they want it. It has become such a pattern I can see it is conscious, they know what they're doing. It was actually warm in there. Smelled like a donkey toilet, identifying it home for them. It keeps the place warm, makes good insulation to retain their own heat. I feel a little bit better about them tonight and tomorrow night. The forecast for Thursday night, not only below zero, but big wind too. If the donkeys and I are fortunate, the wind will blow above my little valley between ridges. If we're unlucky, the wind will fly out of the east directly into the donkey den. If it comes out of the west, it will blow through my house like it was a screened porch. The wind currents in this small valley go every which way, in circles. One minute it will be coming from one direction, and the next minute from another direction, on and on like that. If I'm really unlucky, one or more of the big white pines near the house could break about half way up the trunk.

marcel janco (find the donkey)

I've learned to trust the elements over years of experience. Like I trust the donkeys not to kick me, I trust weather on the mountain not to damage my interests. I have a relationship of trust with my mountain like I have with the donkeys. I love my mountain and it loves me. My mountain knows I respect it. I am the mountain's keeper in this time of my life. I sometimes suspect the mountain, itself, wanted me here and drew me like a mystical vibration. It was like as soon as I was open to the spirit the mountain began the process of pulling me to it. Whether or not this is the case, it is how I feel the connection with the mountain I have spent my life here learning. I have not done it in several years, but am able to go within and connect with the mountain, have conversation with it, ask it questions and it gives me answers. I asked it once about Tom Pruitt, who was the last of the mountain people on the mountain, asked about the mountain's relationship with Tom. The mountain said there was none, Tom did not respect the life force of the mountain. This is the Tom who, instead of putting a fence around his garden, sat in an upstairs window with a .22 rifle in the gloaming and belly-shot deer that came into his garden, so they'd go off someplace else and die. Tom had little respect for the living. One of the first characteristics I saw in Tom, getting to know him, was the passion he had for killing. It was culture, not just him individually. The mountain told me it appreciated my respect for the living beings of the mountain, the squirrels, the trees, the ferns, the rocks, the ground, the mountain itself. Since the time of our communication, I feel like my mountain is a conscious being. Saying my mountain, I don't mean possession. I mean like my friend. At the same time I feel nurtured by the mountain, energized, my battery charger, I also feel protected by the mountain. I feel like the mountain looks after me. I don't kill anything, rather regard all the beings on the mountain my neighbors. Like trustworthy friends, we've got each other's back.

marcel janco

My vision of the direction USA has been going throughout my lifetime, fascism, is here, now. Any attempt to defeat it, reverse it or change it would be at the peril of becoming a martyr nobody ever heard of. Lillian Hellman's Julia. Can't organize, the FBI infiltrates first sign of organizing, sets everybody up for arrest and all go to prison on "conspiracy" charges, for which there is no legal defense. Demonstrate and cops beat the hell out of me, pepper spray, tear gas, real bullets, arrested if I survive and tormented in jail. Police state is so tight and propaganda so sophisticated, rebellion doesn't work in America. I learned this in the Sixties. I have found in my lifetime the only rebellion that works is non-cooperation, what I call the boycott of one. I don't like that Coca-Cola Corp hired death squads in Columbia to kill union activists and their families. I don't buy Coke products. I dislike everything about Walmart; I don't give them my resources. I don't "buy into it." I don't like paying to the military machine, so I have kept income all the way along in the zone that pays no income tax or very little. People that want to fight the tax system end up in prison. I don't want to go to prison, so I live on the very least possible, inside the poverty zone, and pay no taxes, except sales taxes, which do not go to military domination of the world. Sales taxes are state and local. I'd be happy to pay federal taxes, too, if two-thirds of it did not go to the Death Star. Living frugally is my rebellion. It is the only rebellion I have access to that works. It works for me, and I'm the one it matters to. I think of the people who spend a fortune in legal fees and go to prison over refusal to pay federal taxes, and see them not committed to their belief. It's simple. Just live below the poverty line and you don't pay taxes. One man cannot defeat the Death Star, unless you're in a Hollywood movie. I've often thought, if federal government knew my mind, I'd be locked away in solitary confinement for subversion. Like my daddy told me, "I ought to hit you for what you're thinking." I laughed inside. If he knew what I was thinking, he'd have killed me in a passionate rage and never regretted it, no matter what the consequences.

marcel janco

Rebellion has been the nature of my life. Rather than fight back at an oppressor looking for any moment's opportunity to pound me into the ground, I learned to let these foster parents take care of my needs until I'm able to make a living on my own after school. By the age of ten, both had become foster parents. The kid had no recourse. I turned within, followed orders and waited for time to pass. In my time I went as far away as land allows, like an arrow shot from a bow, the string pulled all the way back to the tip of the arrow. Released, I was gone, and gone forever. I knew the flight was not from mad, but from a lifetime of anger so intense I'm surprised I couldn't bend spoons by looking at them. After Navy and college, I learned government is not here for me; I'm here for government. It's the same with the economic system. I have to give up me to play the money game. I am more valuable to myself than money. I don't want to be a success in the money world. I want my success to be inside myself. I want my success to be who I am, not what I am. By who I am, I don't mean a nice guy. I mean I can practice my art expression any way I want, independent of the art-market world. Fame and money have no value for me, What I mean by who I am is able to take an interest in what interests me, not toward making money for somebody else. I saw the equation that we choose time or money. Can't have both. I chose time. Recalling a dream from childhood. It was before I was old enough to drive. I was driving a car on a dirt road at night, came to a fork in the road, did not know which one to take to wherever I was going. In the headlights I saw standing in the grass of the Y the roads made, a white owl. It looked at me and flew down the road to the left. I took this to mean it was my road and turned that way. I was reminded of the dream some years later when I read Good Soldier Schweik. At the end, he was walking with a regiment to war in WW1. A fork in the road. The regiment took the road to the right. Schweik saw some flowers up the road to the left and he took the road to the left, called by the flowers, by life. 

marcel janco, himself


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


tracks in the snow

Six inches of snow in the night. Cold, dry ice crystals make the slightest incline slippery. I went out to take seeds to the birds and slipped every step. Took a walking stick to feed the donkeys. Jenny wanted to smell it, feel it with her lips, take it with her teeth, thinking it might be something to eat, the handle the size of a carrot. I've carried a stick among them enough for them to know the stick is not a threat. I don't hit them or threaten them with it. It's for my balance. The donkeys stayed in their den until I went out to deliver their morning hay. Snow on the ground shows me the exact spot in the stream they go to for a drink of water. Later in the day I looked at their meadow from the road, saw the trails to and from the watering hole. They walk on trails. The meadow has trails going every which way. I find it curious so many of the four-leggeds walk the same path until it becomes a trail and remains a trail from then on. In the years I went on long walks through mountain forest, I walked on deer trails. It doesn't take long to find one. The other animals use their trails too. I've seen cows make trails, and now am seeing donkeys make trails. I wonder about trails in their original habitat, northeastern Africa, and see them everywhere. I think there are five hundred, more or less, of the original donkeys left. The people there eat donkeys and live in post-colonial poverty. The donkeys will last about as long as the mountain gorilla, the African elephant, the polar bear, the fish in the sea. It won't be long before the humans have a chance to learn how to exist on a dead planet, the ideal we've been aiming toward collectively throughout my lifetime. It's not just the corporate fisheries emptying the oceans, it's also the people eating fish in restaurants all over the globe and at home. Me, when I buy a tin of sardines. 

new project

My mind has relaxed from the rush of visualizing construction of the new project. I've written about the construction itself, though have not yet mentioned purpose. The construction is a three-legged stand to suspend a rock above the ground. Initially, the three sticks of wood were the aesthetic consideration without the rock. I wanted to lean three lines together such that they would hold each other upright without supports or any kind of hardware. Three boards, two notches, done. Ideally, in a place it would never be touched or swiped by a dog's tail. My test was to stand three lengths of wood in relation to each other, supporting each other. It has to do with a present fascination with triangles.  Every way I look at this model, all the way around it, it makes triangles. The white line that holds the elements together, itself makes a triangle. All the way around it I see three triangles, including the white line. I don't care if someone looking at it fails to notice the triangles, which are there for aesthetic structure of my own, it's purpose, it's reason for being. A lot of people get through their lives without understanding the meaning of life. In like manner, some will see the triangles a theme, some will not. The rock is there for the weight, to keep a tension in the single line of quarter inch white nylon rope that holds the legs in place, to pull the three boards tighter together, an assist to free-standing, the downward pull of gravity. The rock's role is purely functional. A bowling ball would do. But I like a rock better. The rock becomes the focus of interest framed by the stand that holds it aloft. Since living in the mountains, I have come to see every rock, itself, a piece of sculpture made by God, by way of chance and experience, Like snowflakes, no two are alike, even gravel in a driveway, big rocks dynamited from a bigger rock, ground by rock-crushing machines into small chunks. 

new project

In my own personal symbolism, I think of a straight line, a square, masculine, and a curved line, a circle, feminine. For several years I painted round things in square and rectangular frames. Balance. I mean masculine and feminine like in languages, le and la, I think of a triangle the blend of a square and a circle, the child of the square and circle, a balance of both. First, there was one, then there were two, and from three onward it's infinite. Three represents the many.  In this construction I'll call Hanging Rock, the straight lines of the boards and rope make a network of masculine lines to frame and support the feminine, the rock, Mother Earth. I think of lines as mind, the conscious mind, and the rock the subconscious mind, feeling, intuition. The mechanics of this project is the masculine aspect, cut, measured and fitted together by mind. The suspended rock I'll call the subconscious, the force holding conscious mind together, the feminine, gives shape and definition. Therein I find the balance of masculine and feminine, le and la, in a simple object of rock and wood. Therein is what I'm saying in the piece, balance, the feminine and masculine, the yin and yang, interdependent, one whole. My first consideration for something outside where several people will see it, is to make it as interesting to a man's eye as to a woman's eye. Call something art and the men in the world I live in pay it no mind, see it without seeing it. The women will give it a chance and look at it aesthetically, liking it or not, say, Somebody might call it art, but I don't see no art about it. I want both the man's eye to see it and the woman's eye to see it. They will see what they see, art or not art, but they will see It, call it what you want. Calling it Hanging Rock will relax the mystery of what it is. It is what it is. Plain.  

jack and jenny, yin and yang

My feeling is the masculine eye will see the mechanics of it, all the mechanics out in the open, part of it. I feel like the man's eye will see the boards, treated 4x4s, familiar, masculine, as well as the way the rope holds the thing together and suspends the rock. The rock will be familiar to the masculine eye. No what-is-it mystery about it. It's three boards, a rock and a rope. I feel like the feminine eye will see the whole without much interest in the mechanics. And women appreciate rocks, largely, in aesthetic ways men largely don't see. The rock suspended provides a point of tension for everybody. It's a subconscious feeling that a rock does not belong in the air. A rock belongs on the ground. A suspended rock plays with the automatic assumption from a lifetime of experience that a rock belongs on the ground. If someone were to ask me what it's supposed to be, I'll only be able to answer, it is what it is---three boards, a rock and a rope. My feeling is kids will like it. I gave one of my favorite paintings to the library, red, yellow and green bell peppers, asking them to hang it in the children's section. I wanted the kids to see it. I like for kids to like my paintings. A kid liking it tells me it's real. My first clue it is attractive to the masculine eye was Justin liking it, taking an interest in the mechanics right away, raising and lowering the rock, getting a sense for how it works. Aesthetically, it's cool with him if I want to call it art. I can call it anything I like. He'll call it three 4x4s, a rock and a rope, which is how I want him to see it---it is what it is. There is nothing it is supposed to be. To my eye, it is triangles and a suspended rock, what it is. I wanted it to say something about the mountains. That it simply is what it is, not pretending to be something it aint, just plain, is mountain as a fiddle tune. 

shadow on the snow