Thursday, September 28, 2006

Work Is Love Made Visible

On Work

Then a ploughman said, "Speak to us of Work."

And he answered, saying:

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.

Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

lways you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,

And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.

And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,

And all work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.

And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet."

But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;

And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

from The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fuck Rock Stars!! (Bodies, Arrest, Emotion)

Summer is supposed to be a time of romance. Well, summer's over, and mine was not. Now that I'm over being a moody bitch, I have come to this conclusion: I need a rock star boyfriend. Why, you ask?

Let me count the ways -

Who is not happy to have vomit and other bodily excretions on the floor of their hotel room?

Throwing elbows at slutty fans trying to bag your boy in the band is good exercise, and keeps you from developing old-lady waddles under your arms.

If you've no artistic abilities of your own, you can fulfill creative ambitions simply by being a muse. If you aren't his muse, then you can content yourself with riding on the coattails of his glory. Whee!

He has money. Lots of money.

Who needs eardrums?

Sure, the risk of STDs is extra high. Hell, they should offer you hazard pay for the risks you're taking, but an immune system doesn't get stronger without challenges!

Eventually you'll get knocked up, a fact which could cause a separation, but will entitle you to naming your progeny something like 29 Palms, Spaceship Daydream, Jelly Bean, Iggy or Hagar.

Screaming fights and hysterical crying may run your mascara, but that's even more punk rock.

You hang out long enough and you just might learn to play a few chords.

The clothes. The swag. The parties. The travel.


Room service and minibar. Comped. Trashing the place just boosts his image, so throw something! Break the bathroom mirror!

You can be famous just because you were fucking him. This fame will be secured and augmented should any of the following occur -
He puts you in a music video.
He writes a hit song in your honor.
The FBI has a file on him.
The Queen knights him.
Parents of the last underage girl he bagged press charges.
In the event of an untimely death via overdose, suicide pact or small airplane crash in the Rockies, such a demise seals you to the legend for all time, even if he goes down without you.

Sanctioned inebriation, 24/7.

You are now the heroin.

You get to sleep in.

There is a strong likelihood you will find yourself in an open relationship. Don't waste this opportunity. There are just as many cute guys in the audience, road crew, and warm up bands as there are hot slags. Make hay!

Living fast and dying young means you neither have to invest in nor worry about your future.

Bailing your man out of the slammer means heaps of mileage points on your Visa.

However, you are essentially above the law.

You are cooler than everyone else.

If it doesn't work out, you'll always be able to sell the book.

Also, who says you have to content yourself with one rockstar relationship? Patti "Layla" Boyd married a Beatle and Eric Clapton, and the latter wrote five songs about her.

There is, unhappily, at least one tragic flaw in my plan - I cannot think of a single recent rock star I'd want to hang out with like that. The really good ones are of a bygone era. Except maybe one of these blokes (well, they're not famous yet). Hope they're treating my home town right tonight.

V.I.P., R.I.P

Though for the most part I had a good time seeing this band I know at House of Blues last Wednesday night, there were several things which annoyed me.

White Starr did not annoy me, though they aren't the band I came to see. They were extremely entertaining, and I'm partial to music that mixes southern fried rock with T. Rex, AC/DC, rockabilly and maybe even a little ELO. There was something kind of J. Geils about them, too. Lead singer Cisco Adler is a cocky smirky comedic little shit, but his everpresent smile is winning, and I love that he is exulting in his "I'm meant for rock stardom and so is my cock. So I'm going to swing it all around like a macho bastard, and for contrast, slide a little gay into my moves, kind of like Mick used to." He's got it, what ever "it" is. Banging Mischa Barton on a regular basis probably doesn't hurt his self-image either. So they were fun.

Another thing that did not annoy me was the moment at which I turned away from the annoying headlining act, Candlebox (Jeez, they are HORRIBLE), only to see who? Who, you ask? Dan Freakin' Haggerty, that's WHO! That's right, Grizzly Adams was over at the bar, all barrell-chested and hairy. I think I shrieked with laughter. I was laughing so hard and so excited, I grabbed my friend Andy's arms for support, 'cause I was falling to my knees with the sheer joy of ridiculousness. Where was Mad Jack? Where was Nakoma? 49er? Okay, they don't let mules in LA clubs (just jackasses), but maybe they'd make an exception for the bear? I LOVED that show as a kid. It's funny how seeing big stars can leave you flatlining, but you take a D-lister who figured into your childhood, and suddenly you're in awe. Did you know he did time for selling cocaine? Did you know he is the only person to have his star REMOVED from the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd.? Genius. And he's still got all that hair. Well done, Man.

What did annoy me was being up in the Foundation room and having to listen to the so-called "v.i.p.s" shove their resum├ęs in everyone's face the way they do out here in L.A. Am I wrong to believe that is a characteristic peculiar to the men of this city? Because I didn't experience that in NY or Paris, or back home in Portland. Unless of course, the guy was a complete donkey. In LA you're caught between the choice of spiffy button-down shirts and hair product or the no recent wash beneath a Sucker Hat, generally bearing a Coors label, or maybe John Deere. The first group tends to represent and the latter is represented, the "talent." Agents/producers/entertainment lawyers/developments types dress up, while actors/musicians/sometimes writers, dress down. Pick your poison, if they're flying the freak flag of a "costume," I'll guarantee you they are douchebags. Why is it that so many people don uniforms? Is that what like-minded folk do simply to find one another? I find it particularly ironic for folks who pursue creative careers - if you can't think of anything more original or merely individualistic to wear, what kind of mark do you think you'll be making artistically?

Anyway, in under a minute of being there, I ran into a pretty boy wannabe actor who tried unsuccessfully to shag me at a party two years ago. This time he gave me the once over and a sly smile, but I'm positive he didn't recognize me in the least. Raise a glass to the road not taken.

Immediately afterward, I was cornered by a guy who I went to college with, and whom I have seen only once since graduation, at Sundance in 2002. In the last four years, Ethan has gone from being a very average sized fellow (maybe five-eleven, approx. 165 lbs., quite lank and lean, no surfeit of muscle there), to an absolute ballooning whale of a man. I have nothing against people who carry around extra baggage, but it is astonishing to see someone change so much so quickly. He must have been at least two-fitty, no, 280, though it's difficult for me to gauge weight in men, and it all looked like fatty liver alcoholic bloat to me. Think Morrison, towards the end. If I had poked him with a finger he would have involuntarily giggled.

He embraced me, and I was overwhelmed by the stale and sickly smell of booze on his breath. It was day after a bender kind of breath, not just polished off a highball of Macallans breath. It was nasty. He was known in school for being annoying, though he ran around with a very elite group of Eurotrash and NY socialites. He was always very nice to me, and was in my painting class, so I was kindly in return, but I have never really liked this guy. He was always trying too hard to impress, with his erudition and his accomplishements, while maintaining a very cynical and disapproving persona. Turns out, he was a compulsive liar, and all his little histories crumbled. We don't really know who he is or what he does, or even what planet he comes from. But he is a person of means and access, so once in his orbit, you cannot escape him.

In the labor of the fifteen minutes I spoke with him, I answered this question nearly six times, "What are you doing here?" I was there to see my friends play, as I told you before, and before that, and the other time before that. I tried not to entirely glaze over when he pressed play on the accomplishments tape, blah blah blah, screen adaptation, blah blah, Jude Law, blah, blah. I asked if he kept up with anyone from school. Seemed innocent enough and might give us something more interesting and mutual to discuss. The question gave some strange offense, "You know, I have a career, I don't have TIME to be worrying about..." Uh-huh.

Then, in the next breath, he invited me to a surprise birthday party for another alum, a proposal over which I was all knotted up, because the couple is absolutely charming and lovely, and I haven't seen them in about three years. One of them is the son of an adored former professor. I was amazed they were still friends with Ethan. This one was tugging me hard - couldn't I just go to see them? No, it's strictly against my code of ethics to use someone, even if it's his own idea. In my sorry world of principles, I would have to derive some sense of enjoyment from being in this person's company to accept the invitation. I have no wish to be fake with people, and if simply standing there speaking with him is in violation of my desire to be authentic, I forgive myself in the name of social decency. As it stood, I pried myself away only when it didn't seem insultingly abrupt.

Once freed, I rejoined my friend, who was in a conversation with a stout middle-aged fellow. Looked like he once played football, then became a businessman. In under three minutes he brought up (apropos of what?), the fact that he had worked extensively with INXS back in the day, "before he killed himself." I always thought it was a case of auto-erotic asphyxiation gone awry, but in either case, WHEN ELSE COULD YOU HAVE WORKED WITH HIM? Then he asks, "What was his name again?"

"Michael Hutchence," I quickly supplied.

(Are you kidding me?)

I guess they really were close.

When we went to pick up my sorry little car from the valet, I saw two acid yellow sports cars. One was a Ferrari, the other some model of Porsche I have never seen. It looked like some limited edition model; the car was to oddly designed to be driven by regular LA douchebags. As we waited, my friend and I recounted the recent details of the evening, I went into a mini fit. "Michael, people in this town are so full of shit. They're so full of shit, it's spilling over. LOOK at those CARS. THOSE CARS ARE FULL OF SHIT." I'm fairly certain I was unnerving the valet staff. Um, lunatic female verbally assaults luxury vehicles. Egos strewn about the lot like limbs at Gettysburg. Attitude drawn and quartered. Somebody get her another Patron Silver.

I was informed recently that while walking home with a group of friends, I allegedly attacked a small barrier of orange safety cones. This purported incidence incidented on the way home from the Franklin Street Fair three years ago. We'd been drinking margaritas al fresco for hours on a perfect September Sunday. Anyway, as we got to the end of the cordoned off strip, I ranted something political, something about impositions of The State. Maybe I thought Ashcroft put those cones there for Security Reasons, but apparently, I wasn't having any of it. And the cones suffered for it.

I don't know what the hell they were talking about.

Anyway, were something like that at all likely to happen, I assure you it would only occur once in say, umm, three years. Okay, it's feasibly an annual event. However, I do believe such behavior is rather more frequently encouraged by my friends. So, I place the responsibility in their laps, on their heads - the blood's on their hands. May the cones R.I.P.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturn Eating His Children

I'm sorry of course that I watched this 90 minute documentary, and I won't say what I think is true at this point, because I don't honestly know. But if this is factual, the truth is even more horrifying than we've imagined. You should figure on that one for yourself, then tell me what to think. What really happened on September 11th, five years ago? If it is as it seems from evidence put forth in this film, then Goya's painting is as appropriate as the tarot card I posted in memoriam.

Watch Loose Change, 2nd Edition. If you lost a near and dear, the fillmakers will send you a copy for free.

Popular Mechanics published a cover story on this documentary in refutation. Here is a link to a debate between the writer/director of the film and the magazine's editor-in-chief.

Just spreading sunshine, whenever I can.

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages..."*

RPP and Rima were talking to a couple of friends, Liz and Brian, who had just returned from the LA Zoo. RPP said she'd never been but would surely like to go. So, Brian reached into his pocket and pulled out the ticket stubs, handing one to each of our ladies.

RPP: "Oh look, a llama!"

Rima: "It's a rhino."

RPP: "Uh, that's a llama."

(this back and forth goes on for what seems like five minutes)

Rima: "Rhino."

RPP: "Llama."

Rima: "Um, have you SEEN one lately?"

RPP: "I'm LOOKIN' at one right now!"

Brian grabs Rima's ticket in exasperation and disgust, "That's a rhino!"

RPP: "Let me see..."

RPP laughs, "That IS a rhino."

Then she hands over her ticket, upon which there is indeed a photo of a llama.

Because, of course, they were looking at different pictures.

*At the Zoo, Simon & Garfunkel

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Raindrops on Roses

I had a realization awhile back that certain things aesthetic fill me with a dull and hazy sense of dread. The sensation is something like a foggy headache, not strong enough to really be called a pain, and coupled with a very thin paste of nausea. I should call it a slurry, really. Sometimes it feels vaguely claustrophobic. Kind of like the malaise of a too-long nap in the late afternoon, you just don't feel quite right. The only examples I can think of at the moment, and I'm sure there are others, are these:

The original Star Trek series
Planet of the Apes
the Carpenters' tune "Sing a Song"
That other insipid tune, whoever sang it, "Seasons in the Sun"
overly earthen 60s-70s decor
Sunday afternoon televised golf
seashell decor
depictions of seashells
overhead lighting
Keane paintings
acrylic knits (if I touch this material, the reaction is quite extreme. I literally get chills, the bad kind, up and down my spine.)
daisy prints
shag carpeting
small children singing in any sort of performance (I can handle it when they are simply doing it for their own amusement)
and seashells (every time)

Did I mention seashells?

When I recognized what these things had in common, the feelings of loathing suddenly made sense. These are relics of my very early childhood. These are icons of depression. What confused me is that I don't find that the sensation is, in all cases, linked to the relative value of the things themselves. There is some aesthetic medocrity here, to be sure, but why hate Star Trek? Even as ludicrous as that show can be, it certainly has value in its kitsch appeal and absurd humor. Interestingly, that show and the Heston pic are two things I am quite certain I watched with my father. I am not saying I hate those shows, it's just a gray area, a brume. Something to do with the bourbon and Coke on the end table, and me beside him in his easy chair. It's as if my body remembers the haze of his exhalations of alcohol and smoke, hanging in the room.

As to the seashells, you put one to your ear and you hear the sea. I press it to mine and I hear static. I hear the echo of an empty chamber, the hollow home of someone who isn't coming back. Less melodramatically, why is all seashell decoration so insistently little-girl-cloth pastel? Corals, baby pinks, robin's egg blue, peach and tan and it's all an unjustifiably optimistic mess. If it had a sound it would be "Seasons in the Sun." How can something meant to be pretty make me want so much to throw things or scream to break the deadening monotony? If I see a picture of it in a book or magazine, I want to slam the pages closed in the same kind of shocking fear I had as a child when my fingers landed on the photo of a dreadful insect or nematode or a diseased intestine. Genuinely, I was afraid to touch even the image of something disgusting.

I can only conclude that the aversion is something akin to an instinctual aversion to the threat of poisoning, or disease. The way the ignorant shunned the crippled, perhaps thinking their malady a symptom of plague, my memory sends me running from the images that recall periods of emotional trouble.

Or I'm just a snob.

Good Omens

This baby's a one in a million. Born August 25th, it's the third on the Heider farm in Wisconsin since 1996.

"When White Buffalo Calf Woman promised to return again, she made some prophecies at that time

One of those prophesies was that the birth of a white buffalo calf would be a sign that it would be near the time when she would return again to purify the world. ...she would bring back harmony again and balance, spiritually."

-Joseph Chasing Horse

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dear Adam -

I have a story rattling around in my head. Rather noisomely, and for years now. It's something about how you went and found love without me - a thing I still can't quite believe and yet believe entirely, aloof and strange a creature as you are.

I don't dare to speak of you in present tenses; I've no present knowledge of you.

Stephen swears you must have lost all your hair by now, then he laughs and laughs. Your gorgeous hair - I hope it's not gone. I hope you have a hole searing through your heart and a pit of absence in your gut that causes you periods of immense and unbearable sorrow every time you think of me. But the hair - I hope the hair, all the chocolate and soft lush waves of it, is all still there.

I stand so far outside of your life that I wonder if I ever existed at all. Feels almost like those wasted hours in grocery stores waiting for you to pick out a suitable spaghetti sauce. It was just one moment of the constant, intolerable anguish of witnessing you nickel and dime everything and everyone to death.

Was it a delay tactic? You always hated decisions.

What of those lazy afternoons at eighteen? What of dusky golden afternoons and your furtive caresses, when you thought I'd fallen asleep beside you? Hopeless for you, gone on you, as I was, you could never just reach out and touch me without the security of my ignorance. Was that it? Sometimes I only pretended to sleep. I loved you so, all of me was always yours, no matter who might distract me. And they couldn't have, if you had just been man enough to claim me. I know you watched me sleep; I know you pulled me close to you.

You left school after Sophomore year, and I blame Edward Hoagland for this fact. I blame him very much. I had always liked his work, but I can't even think of his name without remembering the loss he caused, so unintended. He told you to leave. He said you were already past whatever school could give you. You, nineteen years old and smarter than everyone else around you, but flailing about like everyone else around you. What did you know? What did he? You two dunces knocked your heads together during office hours and suddenly my sky grew dim. I needed you; you needed someone to ground you. Clever phrases aren't enough to make a life. I could have told him that, even back then. And now, so far as I know, you don't write at all. So that worked out well.

Then after college, when you finally told me you loved me, I was so confused because you never asked me to stay. I traveled three thousand miles across the US, stopping in Berkeley just to see you. But you never said move, you never said live with me. Then you went to Europe and invited me, but I'd no way to pay my way.

Did we only keep missing each other, or was it something else?

We never slept together, even as much as we slept together. You said it was a question of respect. So you read to me in bed, instead. And I listened to the induction of your hypnotic tones and breathed in the scent escaping your chaste t-shirt. Sometimes you'd kiss me and touch me some more. I thought I might faint.

You said you always believed we'd be married. You told me when we were eighteen, it was in the Spring, our halcyon days. That was the time I didn't remember, so you told me again when I was twenty-eight. That's the time I do. Then you disappeared within the year without so much as a good-bye, or a "maybe we shouldn't," or any sort of indication that things were about to go horribly awry. Horribly good-bye. It was that table trick with the cloth ripped out from under all the china and stemware, and maybe there's a vase. Except this time everything toppled and the floor was damp. The magician left the mess, so we just shut the door on that room.

Until next time, be well, dear Adam.

Another Evil Vixen

That Company Bitch, why is she not my best friend?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Evil Evil Vixen!

Love this comedienne, Natasha Leggero. Everything that comes out her mouth is a thing I abhor. God she's funny! She's fabulous! (I hate that word!)

Check out her Tonight Show performance.

In Memoriam


it's 4 in the morning July in '69
me and my sister
we crept down like shadows
they're bringing the moon right down to our sitting room
static & silence
& a monochrome vision

they're dancing around
slow puppets silver ground
& the world is watching with joy
we hear a voice from above
& it's history
& we stayed awake
all night

& something is said & the whole room laughs aloud
me & my sister
looking on like shadows
the end of an age as we watched them walk in a glow
lost in space
but i don't know where it is

they're dancing around
slow puppets silver ground
& the stars & stripes in the sand
we hear a voice from above
& it's history
& we stayed awake
all night

they're dancing around
it sends a shiver down my spine
& i run to look in the sky &
i half-expect to hear them asking to come down
will they fly or will they fall?
to be excited
by a long late night

- The Sundays, 1997

(One of my all-time favorite bands. You haven't lived till you hear Harriet Wheeler live, especially when she sings "Wild Horses." I just learned we share a birthday. She's a doll-baby.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pocket Full of Kryptonite

The internet gods are angry, or something. I linked, in my post below, to an HILARIOUS animated short on You Tube - "Superman: How It Should Have Ended," and what do you know? They took it all down today. After a brief Google search, I came across the offical website, where hopefully you can watch the >2 minute piece. I cannot, as I don't have the right plug-in "mime" type (whatever the hell THAT IS). Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, it was the whole point of yesterday's post.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Underoos Are Fun to Wear!

This is Super funny, (especially if you have a Savior Complex).

On Hiatus (and Generally Unfocused)

...mostly from men, but it seems to be impeding my writing as well. Trying to catch my breath so I can think clearly again. I'm sure once the oxygen returns to my brain the sense of dislocation will cease, and then I'll have something to share. You can always suggest topics. That might be amusing.

Till then, let me just say that I am irritated by signage in grocery stores corrupting the developing English language skills of children, immigrants, and the educationally underserved. It's not properly, "10 items or less." It should be "fewer," if my memory is servicable. But then, I'm oxygen deprived.

I saw a Thai restaurant today named, "Khun Dom." I'm just sayin'.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Better Than Ezra(?)

BE in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are—
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of gray waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
the shadowy flowers of Orcus
Remember thee.

-Ezra Pound, 1885-1972

On the other hand:

Afternoon on a Hill

I WILL be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950). from Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.

Compare and contrast, children. Essays due Tuesday. Blue books on Friday next.