This picture, which I found while sorting out my basement archive tonight, would stop me cold under any circumstances: that's my daughter, when a toddler, face-down on the face of a dead man.
It was taken late in the summer of 2005. The dead man was Hunter Brumfield III. He killed himself that summer, on the same day our family moved into a new house in St. Louis County. The image of Hunter, and my slumbering daughter, are both flopped down on the kitchen table of that new house, where I sit as I remember these things, in a house no longer new to us.
The image particularly startled me, tonight, because of the events of the past week. I have actually been thinking my daughter has been interacting with Hunter's spirit!
As I have described in a long post, a friend working in my house on Monday disturbed a shrine I built for Hunter around the drumkit he left behind him. (This friend, Hunter, and myself were all in the band Three Fried Men at the time of Hunter's suicide.) This act of desecration seemed to loose Hunter's spirit on the world, or at least on my basement.
I wouldn't say I was possessed, but something happened that had something to do with Hunter. I got out my guitar (the same one Hunter and I had both played in Three Fried Men), which I had neglected for many months. For the first time in my life, I tuned the guitar by ear and heard the weird math in the songs I write - gifts Hunter had that I lack.
Then I started pulling apart the Hunter shrine, and some other crazy things in my basement, and building and reassembling them into sculptures, which involved other skills I lack that Hunter possessed - the eye of an artist and hands that can make shapes in three dimensions.
The sculptures are where Leyla got into the action. One is about her and the other is about Hunter, which added a weird zing to finding the picture of her sleeping on his face.
The one about Leyla, which we managed to finish while Hunter's spirit was still around, started with a broken tricycle that my wife has been bugging me to throw out. After the desecration of the Hunter shrine, I went out to the garage and got the tricycle, brought it down into the basement museum, and began to turn it into a portrait of my daughter.
"I'm a bicycle!" Leyla cried, in effect naming the piece, before she went to work on it, adding an old parka she outgrew to the sculpture's torso.
She also named the piece that is about Hunter. This one really gave me the creeps, but in good way.
The Hunter sculpture started with a gorgeous old NYC Garment District mannequin, which had been standing apart from the Hunter shrine, before the desecration. It was given to me by my friend Chuck Reinhardt as a form to display a string tie with a hipster country rocker clasp, which Hunter had given to him.
After the shrine was broken, I pulled out this mannequin, situated it more centrally, and began to adorn it with elements from Hunter's shrine and other shrines, without really knowing what I saw doing.
A tambourine Hunter had played was stuck on top for a face, clenching in its cymbals (=teeth) a corn cob pipe Pops Farrar once gave me. On top of the tambourine I placed "Madness put on a porkpie hat," a hat with a name made by Robert Van Dillen in response to the poem Blind Cat Black. From the string tie I hung the Blue Bead Against the Evil Eye that Jason Wallace Triefenbach made for a scene he played in the movie we made to Blind Cat Black.
Then Leyla came to me, holding up a pompous tie from an old tuxedo rental that never got returned.
"Daddy," she said, "can this go on The Clown?"
I snapped around. "On what?" She pointed at the Hunter sculpture.
I had not given this object a name. I had not talked about it in any way. I wasn't even thinking about what I was doing, I was just doing things. And my daughter called it "The Clown".
I have always thought about Hunter as a Trickster, a Coyote - a Clown, albeit a sacred one. My daughter, with her child's eyes, saw the childish variant of this eternal principle that Hunter had embodied, and that he brought back into our lives, this week - somehow - through his disembodied spirit.
Whatever it was, it's mostly gone, again.
I really did have some of Hunter's gifts for art and music, for awhile, though it has passed already. I once again can't hear notes well enough to tune my guitar by ear or hear rhythms well enough to notice the needless complexity in my song structures and fix them.
Nor do I know what to do with The Clown, which stands there in my basment, half-completed. That's just like Hunter - never to finish the job! Like his life, which none of us were finished with, least of all him.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This picture, which I found while sorting out my basement archive tonight, would stop me cold under any circumstances: that's my daughter, when a toddler, face-down on the face of a dead man.
I have known Baba Mike a very long time, through many evolutions and incarnations. I first wrote about him some fifteen years, when he recently had had the halo unscrewed from his skull after breaking his neck falling backwards off a ladder. He hadn't slept, really slept, in years. Life was a daze to him, in many ways, but he forged forward, compelled by music and structured by his spiritual practice and friendships.
The healing process of his central nervous system was then advanced beyond the capacity of physical science's predictions and explanations by Mike's emergence as a sacred bata drummer in the Yoruba tradition. That's another story!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We had them in the house for three nights to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. It was restful and fun. What made it most fun was the even temperaments and good manners of their four children.
All the way down to the baby, Jefiah, never crying - never, in three days, crying even once - I have never had one child in my house who was less work or bother, let alone four.
The fort they had built in a basement storage room had collapsed, and in the aftermath of the collapse, there was something of a void in their play. I observed the rumblings of bickering. I warned the mothers to check in on their babies while we were at the symphony.
Praiz' must have heard me give this warning, because when I looked for him to hit the road, I found him in the basement. I came upon him orchestrating all six children into a cleanup "team" with the task of tearing down the remnants of the fort.
They all volunteered. They had to form a line - each taking a turn to hold the scooper for the "team" and clean up the basement before we left for the symphony.
Orli performs the same program, themed "Tricksters," with the Symphony tonight (Saturday) at 8 p.m. The program is clever on several levels. On the weekend of an American holiday widely associatied with game fowl, it opens with a piece of music with another edible bird in its title, Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, which may lack the name magic of more famous family-friendly fare, but still would have held the attention of many children. The first half closed with the Bartok - a very dynamic set piece for a night of lighter fare.
The second half consisted of two Strauss tone poems, Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. This was when the guest composer came alive and showed why he was up there on the stand. I don't usually have much to say either way about a guest composer working in David Robertson's house, but Albrecht lives these fanciful pieces by Strauss on his fingertips, along the edges of his eyelashes, deep in his guts. He was fun to watch, and he helped to make the orchestra a delight to hear!
And, then, there was the tryptophan factor - these four pieces clock in at 16, 23, 17 and 15 minutes, respectively. Not only is this the right way to program a Thanksgiving weekend concert, I'd take it just about any night of the year. Sometimes, that 50 minute symphony after the intermission has a narcoleptic power that is tough to shake.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I wrote to Crone told him he was like the veteran local palooka, as a rock curator, who just stayed on his hamfisted feet so long he gradually became manifest as the towering champion.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
At first crippled by grief, I started to form my thoughts about Hunter – a person who had been thrillingly alive and gifted in so many ways – killing himself. I wrote an essay about all of the people Hunter had been in his short life and probed myself and our band for any possible guilt in his suicide. This essay circulated widely in the St. Louis music scene and ended up, I was told, as a printout in the restroom at Bill Christman’s hipster hangout.
I endeavored to write a novel that starts with the premise of someone being haunted by the spirit of a dead drummer that comes back as a cricket because there is a cricket boom in the basement of one of his living friends and it's easier (as the ghost eventually explains) to come back to life in a place of becoming, in a place where much life is coming into being, even if it’s only crickets.
I struggled to write this novel and was made miserable, as only writing a novel about difficult things can make you miserable, and I began to develop a shrine for Hunter in my basement that I was turning into an amateur museum (over the same period of a year).
On and off, I discussed Hunter hauntings with a number of other people who had endured them. Hunter's best friend and gal pal at the time of his death, Lindy Woracheck, visiting from Spain, told me she had not been particularly haunted by him, other than on one day with one page on one book of poetry.
Barack Obama's campaign for president began to look ascendent and then trumphant. In a vast array of new feelings this made possible was a totally new regret that Hunter was gone, because Hunter had been the ultimate crossover white boy (if we want to label people with colors or absences of colors or simultaneous presence of all colors); Hunter would have worn an Obama tattoo across his chest and persuaded so many Nader dreamers and anarchist millenarians to believe in hope through the electoral process that Obama would have won Missouri by a tiny but decisive margin on Election Night.
Two weeks after the election, my arts group Poetry Scores put K. Curtis Lyle's poem about 9/11 into visual art and musical performance. One of the drummers in the performance indicated with a knowing nod the high-hat cymbal he was using, which he had inherited from me, which (as he knew – he had replaced the dead Hunter in our rock band) I had borrowed from Hunter.
Over the next two days, in anticipation of houseguests for Thanksgiving, I spent the weekend in my basement, cleaning up the clutter, rearranging stuff and putting up new artwork to make it look like a museum again, instead of a basement. In addition to artwork, I maintain and display shrines to various musician and poet friends who are dead – not only Hunter but also Pops Farrar, Rosco Gordon, Nymah Kumah, and Leo Connellan. There is some emotional cost to doing this, to harboring all of these relics of people who are gone.
Hunter was the only sucide and the only young man among these deaths and the only dead man I ever really felt impinging upon the living in any extraordinary way. Sorting things on the floor over the course of two days, I noticed a cricket silently watching me from his own perch on the floor. On the second day my daughter, thinking it a spider, smashed the cave cricket flat onto the carpet and killed it. I can’t explain why, but I left its carcass there.
The next day, another musician (who had been playing in our band with Hunter when Hunter killed himself) was working his day job as handyman in my basement. He was rerouting some heating ducts to do a better job of blowing heat upstairs into the family room above the part of the basement I had transformed into a museum. The job turned out to be more involved and time-consuming than Mike expected. He had to rearrange a lot of materials – including the Hunter shrine, built from his abandoned drumkit and other relics – and he didn't have time to put anything back together before he had to meet his children at home at the end of the school day. I came home to a desecrated Hunter shrine.
I was spooked and disturbed. It seemed so senseless to see all of these things that had been so important to Hunter, artifacts of his life and death, which had been assembled into a shrine, now strewn around a room in my basement. The magic and meaning of the shrine had been spoiled – these were suddenly just random things that had belonged to someone who was now gone. The most puzzling and upsetting thing was that the shrine had been desecrated by someone who had known and loved Hunter at the same time I did, in the same band, and who knew about the shrine and what it meant. I sent a message to the workman, my friend Mike, asking him why he had desecrated the Hunter shrine.
Then I called him too. He explained about his needing to get home to meet his son after school. I still fumbled, needing more of an explanation. The shrine had included the last bottle of beer Hunter had enjoyed before killing himself. The beer bottle usually stood up on a drum from his drumkit at the top of his shrine. I asked Mike why I just found the bottle laying abandoned on its side. “Chris, I was doing some heavy-duty construction work,” Mike said. “It’s a bottle. I laid it down on its side, so I wouldn’t knock it over. I didn’t want to break it.”
Still feeling spooked, not alone, over the next two days I found myself pulling elements of the desecrated shrine into the next room and making what began to look like an assemblage sculpture. I have never had any gift or imagination for building things or making art in three dimensions. That seemed odd. I pulled some elements off the Pops Farrar shrine – a cloth flower and a turkey feather I had found blown off the grave of Robert Johnson – and added them to the new Hunter tribute sculpture shrine.
I noticed something odd and upsetting. The Indian head pipe that Pops had made me also had been disturbed. Sitting on top of the bowl of the pipe, which is the top of the Indian’s head, were two objects that looked like felt washers. I wondered why in the world Mike would pull dirty junk out of a construction job and put it onto my sacred pipe. I couldn’t imagine that Mike would do that. Walking out of the desecrated shrine with a bad feeling, I saw that cricket my daughter had killed on the basement floor.
I picked up my guitar, which I had neglected for many months, and tried to play some songs I used to play with Hunter. I noticed the guitar was out of tune – not surprisingly – but then was greatly surprised to find myself tuning it by ear. My ear has never been good enough to tune a guitar without a tuner.
As I started to play my oddball songs, I found myself making simple changes in my strumming patterns to standardize the timing a little bit. I am a self-taught guitarist with rudimentary skills, and I have always had problems teaching my songs to better musicians (like Mike or Hunter) because little quirks in my strumming and picking patterns have a way of dropping or adding beats that is difficult to follow and has to be memorized. Many musicians have tried to show me simple changes I could make in my playing to eleminate the needlessly tricky math in my songs, but I always have reverted to my peculiar strumming and my weird math. I was now for the first time hearing the bad math in my songs, the way most musicians do, and making the same simple corrections I had been shown but never been able to follow.
I rushed to the phone to call Mike. I wanted to explain that maybe the desecration of the shrine wasn’t such a bad thing, that it seemed to have somehow loosed the spirit of Hunter, and so far all it was doing was improving my skills in making art and playing music, things Hunter always had done much better than I do.
Mike said, “It’s funny you calling me about Hunter, because that’s all I’ve been thinking about since you said I desecrated the shrine. I looked up the word ‘desecrate’ and I’ve been thinking about what it all means. I’ve been thinking about how Hunter desecrated things. That’s one of the things he did. Like, he used to piss on the stage! Here a musician does all this work just to get up on the stage, and when he gets up on the stage, he pisses on it! Even suicide itself – that’s the ultimate act of desecration; that’s the destruction of your own life. Maybe that’s what Hunter needs, for his shrine to be desecrated once a year. Maybe that’s how you maintain a shrine to a spirit like Hunter’s.”
I thought all that through and agreed with it. Then I remembered the little felt washer-type things that had been placed on top of the Pops Farrar pipe, the other act of desecration. I asked Mike why he did that. He said he didn’t do anything of the sort. He looked at Pops’ pipe and held it – “I always do that when I am down there, I look at everything and think about everybody’ – but he wouldn’t add anything dirty to something like Pops’ pipe.
He asked me to describe the felt washer-type items again. He thought about it. Nothing from his duct job bore any resemblence to what I had described. “I know what it is,” he said, when it finally clicked, “that’s part of the drum pedal. That came off of Hunter’s drumkit. But nothing like that was on the pipe when I looked at it, and I didn’t mess with the drumkit except to move the shrine away from where I was working.”
“If you didn’t mess with the drumkit,” I said, “and you didn’t put those things on top of Pops’ pipe, then who did?”
Hunter was always a traveler. I guess he is passing through here again.
I always love to talk about Tyndale - his Bible was William Shakespeare's Bible, and his Bible was to a large extent the Bible of the King James translators, even though the king told them to work from the Latin, and they did - just enough to fool the king, or appease the pope, or both.
I'm not sure if it's known or not whether the king or pope were fooled by the consummate gesture of respect accorded Tyndale by the King James translators, who took advantage of a blank page between the Old Testatment and the New, in the first edition, to send to the printer a page with only two letters, "WT," the initials of Tyndale - Tyndale who did not work on salary from the king, Tyndale who fled England for his life because of his unauthorized translation, Tyndale who lost his life on the continent, also over his gall to bring Jesus' words into the plain language of the plowboy.
Then we get online and I ordered Praiz' his own cheap used copy of Tyndale. It will meet him in Tallahassee when he gets back home.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I talked this up around town. Various old heads, Crone's included, said sure, I've got stuff and I'd do it.
So tonight I asked Brett and Crone about that Jan. 9 date at The Tap Room. How about a 6-9 p.m. happy hour back in The Eliot Room, where The Lettuceheads will hit at 9 p.m., devoted to my schwag fest? They said sure, and sure.
That's my drunken sketch of most of The Lettuceheads (Mike Burgett, Jon Ferber, Carl Pandolfi), signed by all three men, one recent night in Mike's garage, when I actually got to play with these amazing cats.
I can't blame you all for taking a pass on, or at least taking your time, with my challenge to choose the passport photo for humanity. It is quite an assignment.
I borrowed the idea from Parry Harnden, a member of the International Surrealist Group. In his short story "Windbago," which opens The Somnambulist Footprints: A Collection of Surrealist Tales , Councilwoman Nancy Grimes says that Goya's Disasters of War "could serve as mankind's passport photo."
I'm holding out for a different and more flattering passport photo than "puking into the pile of corpses as you join them," as I described one of Goya's images from his war series when I sketched it in New York City, years ago.
Well, here is my idea: La Chambre Jaun (or, The Yellow Room) by Marc Chagall.
There's a house, some drink, some company, an animal who feels at home (and will provide nourishment, when needed). There is a bright, moony night and an inviting village outside the open door. There is a woman with her head upside down, a reminder of startling difference, of outrageous imagination, of what Malinowski called "the coefficient of weirdness".
That is humanity.
The only good thing about the experience was that brief window, after my car stopped starting and before the VW dealership replaced the battery, when I was starting my 2003 Golf by pushing the car toward a downhill slope and then popping the clutch once it got up some momentum.
Those who know me best (my wife fits that bill) know me to be hideously incompetent in physical space. As I have said - of course, defensively - to pool guys and handymen and repairmen of all sort (Shakespeare called them "rude mechanicals": rude as in rough, not as in impolite), "I can write you a poem or a song or an essay or a news piece or a feature or an opinion column or a film or a novel or the score to a long poem," but that pretty much finishes the list of things I can do for you.
This predicament of mine made me really proud to utilize and, I suppose, show off my ability to start a dead car by pushing it down a hill, jumping in, and popping the clutch. You can take the hoosier out of Granite City and the crumbling 1987 Cavalier and put him into a Volkswagen in the burbs, but if the VW has a standard transmission, the hoosier will still be pop-starting it when the battery or starter dies.
While I waIted for the rude mechanicals to charge me $200 to replace my battery and assure me nothing worse was wrong with the car, I sketched the little kitchenette in the dealership and the shoe of a Domino's delivery guy who was having his service vehicle worked on.
I enjoyed the pizza guy's stage patter as the eternal voice of the working class. They had offered to let him run the place, he was saying, but hell to the naw, he didn't want to be keeping track of other people on paper grids and counting money for the man; he wanted to be out there alone, a lone coyote with a hot box of pizza smoking beside him, listening to real rock radio, a footloose carbon footprint moving down the open road.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I suppose you could classify these little pieces as collaborations with my daughter that I can't quite claim as collaborations, since the texts I added to her images make it advisable that I deemphasize the fact that a small child also worked on them.
She can't yet read, but she hasn't seem these drawings since I had my way with them. Leyla made the drawings in a notebook (fashioned by Cat Pick, with a Tarot cover) that we took with us on one of our trips to West Africa. Leyla has visited twice, at age five, and is enviably nonchalant about her relationship with the mother continent.
That would be the mother of all of us, according to the fossil record, not just of Barack Obama and the folks who look like his daddy. Barack's mother, also, was (strictly speaking) an African American, though her kin must have left home a long, long time ago, judging by her skin tone and facial features (God bless the dead).
I found these pieces this week while cleaning up my basement. We are anticipating houseguests from Tallahassee, and I'm also jonesing for a Skuntry Museum mixer - which would require that I transform my basement, away from the junk drawer it becomes between mixers, back into a curated space.
I'm not sure what I was reaching for when I came up with these texts. I seem to have been attempting to be elliptical and mysterious, along the lines of Raymond Pettibon. I've not quit my day job; however; I will be taking a break from it to have a beer and read the other newspapers, right about now.
Monday, November 24, 2008
David's need for Hunter's high-hat has been so persistent, and my will to start another band without Hunter has been so weak, that the high-hat no longer changes places. It stays with David now. That's why this shiny golden fragment of my dead drummer was at the art show.
I have been thinking something much more specific about Hunter, in connection with Obama. Hunter was the quintessential white kid who mixed well - who clicked - with black folks. He once told me it bothered him, as he moved around, from Chicago to St. Louis to Indiana to Seattle back to St. Louis, that he always had to start all over again, with the local black folks, everywhere he went.
"I'm always just the white guy," Hunter said. His street cred never carried over - it always had to be earned, all over again, everywhere he went. It made him sad and wore him out. The night Obama won, Hunter would have been able to see a new way of being, at least for a moment, and if he were alive today, he could help us try to make that rare and exciting moment an enduring reality.
The verdict is offered by a character in his (?) tale, one Councilwoman Nancy Grimes, who opines that Goya's Disasters of War "could serve as mankind's passport photo."
It's a clever suggestion, since Disasters of War is an extensive series of prints, in which (therefore) a large number of people could find their actual likeness. Of course, that's not what Councilwoman Grimes (or the Surrealist casting her shadow on the page) has in mind, really. It's more about the depravity.
When I made these sketches of Disasters of War in New York, many years ago, I summarized one of the many brutal and graphic images: "This is what you were born for (puking into the pile of corpses as you join them)." That sums up Disasters of War, pretty well. That's what Councilwoman Grimes (and, perhaps, Surrealist Harnden) thinks belongs on our passport photo.
I'd like to make an alternate suggestion for that passport photo, drawn from the history of art, something with a little lets guts (in the sense of spilled innards) and more courage (in the noble sense), more hope. Less in the spirit of Dick Cheney (a disaster of war), more along the lines of Barack Obama (a profile in courage).
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Also this year, the Eilers are coming out to the house for the holiday, which means John Eiler will be in the house, and as visitors to the 2008 Poetry Scores Art Invitational can attest, he, too, can burn.
"Buronyi" can be translated as "corn-colored person." Of course, it describes the bright flesh and blonde hair of many Europeans. I combine these rough translations to think of myself, when in Ghana, as "Sunday Born the Corn Man," a name I mean to lend to a novel one day, if I ever get back the guts to face the wrenching loneliness of writing another novel, in a world of readers for whom even this blog post will be far too long to read to the end.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Crone is asking people to digitize old tapes for possible play next week on one of two shows he will be producing on KDHX FM 88.1: "The Record Sto'" (2 -4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 27) and "Silver Tray" (noon - 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 28). Both shows will stream live on the website for two weeks after they air.
This is another (King, Rouder) cowrite and another Jeff Rouder production, with Jeff playing that funky bass line, of which I recall his being rather proud. Joe Z. Armin and another girl from the dorms (the name "Jen" seems to emerge from the mire of memory) pitched in on vocals to back me up and bail me out.
I aced that first Organic test. The guy who happened to be sitting next to me when the tests were returned, who turned out to be Jeff Rouder, decidedly did not. He asked if he could study with me before the next test. I said sure - I was a lonely transfer student with a hopelessly uncool off-campus housing assignment and was starving for companionship.
My eyes bugged. A recording studio course? A guy who could write songs with me and record them for us? I leapt at the prospect of turning all of my notebook poems into songs and recording them a and that's what I've been doing ever since.
Crone recently wrote to several survivors of the local rock old guard:
For both these shows, I'm wanting to play all STL tracks, from the '70s-today. I hope to highlight this on the new KDHX blog within the next couple days, and I'll also point towards that link on 52nd City, etc. Though I feel pretty good about my collection of old-school STL rock, I'm very open to the idea that some of you have MP3s, CDs, etc. of live tracks, unreleased tracks, alt.versions, what-have-you, which would work well for retrospective shows like this.
I'd love to play some A Perfect Fit, but only have music of theirs on cassette, and they're just one band along these tape-only lines. Thanks for any leads and thanks for making the music you have made. The act of typing these names up brings a smile to my face; playing the songs will only heighten that goodwill.
I hope you get to listen to the shows live; if not, please stream the shows for two weeks after, via kdhx.org.
First, sorry for the spam, please feel free to write back and yell at me if it doth offend.
Secondly, and much more importantly, I play in a band, we’re called Motel Motel.
We’re a bunch of kids living in New York City trying to play music as much as we can. And unfortunately, it’s really hard to get your music out there these days, so we have to resort to this kind of strange requesting.
Sorry about it, but I definitely wouldn’t waste your time if I didn’t think this music was worth something enough to solicit random people to listen in. So if you got the time go and listen. And if you like it tell us, or be our friend, because we all could use more friends.
So yeah, my name again is Timo. Feel free to yell if you like, and thanks for reading this far if you are.
Music is great - Timo
I found you because of The Meat Puppets
Timo was, I would expect, cutting and pasting the same message to everybody declared a "friend" of The Meat Puppets on their MySpace page, but you've got to start somewhere, Timo is a wonderful name, he knows and uses the word "doth," I like the band name "Motel Motel," and I recognize in the yearning tone of this sequence of sentences something I've tried to keep alive in myself that I cherish.
He and I later met Bostrom of The Meat Puppets in Phoenix. Perhaps inspired by you I'll tell that story today.
I once selfpromoted my music as you are doing now, though that was before the internet when things were hard in a different way that seems harder than it is now by comparison, but probably was only harder in a different way. Look for Skuntry Music on SpaceMy if'n you want that rock music.
Zed Naught in my friends, and he actually is my friend, has been so for years, books a good club here in St. Louis, should you tour, and you must tour, it profits the soul, and there is no other profit, in the end.
And it does end.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
But such is the world we live in. Such are the times we... uhhh...
Still, I stand a pretty good chance of being eligible for a medical marijuana card soon, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.
Flights around christmas time are through the fruggin roof, so we'll probably have to wait until Jan or Feb to visit y'all. And that's assuming we can befriend a dog sitter by then. Hopefully we'll make it back home in time to drink a year's worth of Schlafly Barleywine. Don't take it for granted, my brethren.
I've had to cut back quite a bit on my bar time, seeing as how PBR is about 4 dollars on average in these parts. Who gives a golden shit if FEAR used to drink at this table? Not I, for one.
Here's a link to an artist I'm going to check out this Saturday.
Tonight J and I will split a 12 pack of something cheap and then head to the Silverlake Lounge for their bi-monthly "performance art-ish nite". We're doing our thing there in January and want to see what the space is like.
Yesterday I was perusing the georges bataille and ended up bringing home three books. One is a theoretical philosophy sorta text called The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge. One is a compendium of three erotic novellas (the one I'm reading now is called "My Mother"). The third book is Collected Poems. Here's an excerpt:
To laugh and laugh
at the sun
at the nettles
at the pebbles
at the ducks
at the rain
at the pope's pee
and a coffin full of shit.
I really felt the need to honor that racquetball appointment. I really didn't want to be lonely anymore. So I scrawled notes as I drove across the river to the rich kid's campus. I actually remember walking through the snow to The Field House - the site, since, of the Palin-Biden vice presidential debate - still scrawling notes on a piece of paper held against my leg, taking dictation from the voice in my head, from the rough stranger who moved to Kentucky to be with his former caseworker at the halfway house in Alton, Illinois, who had moved to Kentucky for a job working with slow children and to get away from him.
But I never got that voice back into my head to tell me the rest of the story. I've been on my own all these years, chasing traces from that original story he started telling me, that cold day when I interrupted a college novel to go buy groceries for my grandma's poor, hungry neighbors.
One of the many, many things I know something about only because that voice in my head knew something about it is an ancient artifact called a cylinder seal. His daddy, for reasons I have not yet figured out, had a thing for museums, and because as a boy he was small, he looked at things in museums that were small, like cylinder seals - tiny tubes about the size of the longest bone on an adult finger, made from a hard and often precious stone, into which an artist carved images that are printed, in reverse, on clay when you roll the cylinder across the clay.
The cylinder seal, I learned, was invented in ancient Mesopotamia, what is now Iraq, and whenever our government elects to bomb Iraq, which is more often than I would like, I worry (among other worries) about all of the ancient cylinder seals being bombed to bits or looted by thieves who don't even know what they are taking away from the rubble. When I was blessed to visit The Louvre in Paris, I stumbled upon what was then the largest collection of cylinder seals outside of Iraq (and what now may be the largest collection of cylinder seals anywhere in the world - we won't know until the war is finally over and a responsible art inventory in Iraq is possible again).
I spent hours in The Louvre, studying those cylinder seals, trying to understand why the stranger in my head found them important as a boy and remembered them well enough as a man to use them in a pickup line with a hippie girl he met in the street. I sketched a few of the images on them, like the sketch I have posted up here. Since the cylinder seal is, in some accounts of the history of language, the birth of writing, I will suggest that what you have here, on this ancient cylinder seal of women drinking beer, is the first ever written story about a very important and beautiful thing, pretty girls drinking beer.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"We each choose our country and area of study," Storch writes from Brazil, after being nudged for an account of herself. "I will be primarily in Brazil, but also Uruguay and Argentina to study renewable energy and biotechnology. Brazil is considered energy-independent because of its use of sugar-based ethanol. My goal is to see where the U.S. can either partner with or learn from South America to stimulate the economy and support the environment."
The 2008 class (she thinks) includes Michael McMillan, Michelle Sherod, Kevin Gunn, Missouri Treasurer-elect Clint Zweifel, and "a guy from Ameren".
Storch reports, "It is an introduction to an incredible network. The fellows I have met include a doctor from Kenya who started the first women and children's hospital in East Africa (treats people with HIV and AIDS as well as victims of domestic violence); the spokesperson for the EU on all issues of science and technology; a young Senator from Colombia, etc."
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Although I was avid to see how perhaps the greatest working conductor leads his orchestra - telling the tuba player how to attack his last note, counting off beats with the sound "bup," and trying to conjure a feeling that is "the most elemental" - I also enjoyed the more simple human asides.
After rehearsal was concluded, I waited for my opportunity to approach him. David fluttered around with his musicians, chatting and enthusing like a guy who knows he has the best job in town and was in no hurry to leave work. Finally, I pulled his coat and asked him to sign one of my sketches (well, actually, two; I also had him sign one with Branca that Branca had signed). David is a gracious guy; he signed them for me.