Friday, July 29, 2011

Epistle. To: Wollstonecraft

How to know what to want, like happiness maybe, or even avoiding pain, is trouble enough. But when confronted by choices like eight different toasters or six different blenders it feels completely default-like to say oh they're all the same. Shouldn't you make a choice regardless? Was it good enough to toss out the extremes? Eliminate the cheapest model and the most expensive at the same time? And if doing so, then what was left? A bow to the way of the bargain hunting samurai taking up a solid intellectual position in the middle? But let's think about it - while half the world starves each night for lack of food or clean water or decent shelter there are eight different toaster variations to choose from. Just for burning bread muffins and bagels to be toped with something that melts and satisfies another whole list of cravings to have. Naturally any rationale can slip out of hand. Looking around just one store, in just one town, one could blow off a whole afternoon and become trapped by exploring the promises of all the gadgets in sight for sale. I needed a toaster. My old one from like fifteen years had shit the bed. But looking at all the toasters had a sudden and an almost violently pleasurable affect upon me. With all this in sight I scanned around and tried my best to stay defensive but truthfully when left to ponder on acres of merchandise and acres of mind I now wanted a toaster. I wanted wide settings. I wanted profanely cheap looking digital readouts. I said to the woman across the aisle -  who studied a large stainless dough mixing bowl with industrial paddles as though she were realizing she now needed to feed multitudes - can you believe this. Perhaps my scars made her uncomfortable. She said nothing in return and quietly made her way off past the vacuum food processing machines and chop-a-matic devices that accordingly turn any meal into a party. Were it not perverse I would say this was magic. I was landed somewhere I had not intended to be. And so feeling the drug-like benefits of shopping I moved laterally to the blenders. I didn't need a blender. Nor did I want one. But I was now certain something different would happen despite what I thought about it. Ah - twelve speeds - crush fruit ice alcohol - the smoothie of unrealized dreams - cocktails like dragonflies hovering in warm summer air - the deeper stuff requires some work even if money does make us strange - and the play on rule was here in effect so I had to continue this with dignity and purpose in a fucked-up world or else leave the store entirely. I've had plenty of toasters in my life and not many regrets about them. But never a blender. And that recognition struck me as odd. I asked the nurse how can I let this go? The nurse looked over the blenders, going over each one with a precision touch that was her fingertips at work in the world. Do you really want more junk in your life she asked? I knew she was right. But that wasn't the point. Look I said. When we were younger all this never crossed the radar. We used to run around like something wildness gave bones to. Clones of time really but believing we were mystics. And maybe we were. Out looking for experience. Longing for great unstated eagerness to haul us away. The nurse held up a blender. Yes I saw it. Like it was a trophy. Or some admittable evidence in court. And so you're trading this she asked? By now I was trying hard to really want a blender. I was trying to come away clean like the air does after a good rain. To do what you think. No I said. There's not much left to trade. Then buy a blender she said. But I didn't really believe it. That was just talk. And I told her so. So she asked? No I said it's like this -  I seem better when I remember. Sure the nurse said, putting one blender back and then picking  up another to inspect, it's all over too soon. Now I wanted everything. I wanted memories as crazy as the fake flowers bursting over in aisle 9. I wanted crappy home appliances that locked me up in retail chains of bliss and let me in on how to  make food like celebrity endorsements showed how. I wanted the sunlight falling outside across the parking lot like a huge dying star slicing suburban cars in two with shadows. I wanted to hear the nurse say again yes she would come by tomorrow while it was still a beautiful spring afternoon today and we were out driving and listening to play lists and throwing debit cards to the wind. Because the future was there - just this side of a lie and just on the other side of honesty -

Monday, July 18, 2011

Epistle. To: Bernadette Wild Garden

I remember it was mid-January and on into what appear culturally to us most as long bleak days lost in winter. The holiday season was over. Color was gone from front porches and no one felt like getting together for dinner. Why everyone needs a break mid-January remains an odd quantum equation. But nonetheless, looking around one evening I saw the day stretching. Dozens and dozens and dozens of crows heading across the sky flew off above the windows like a single crazed motion. A black winged rodeo. A folk lore anthology refers to multiplies or crows as: a murder of crows.  But who or what was riding that stirrup? Not that I saw where they came from. Or even where they were going. Suddenly they filled the sky in the window. What to do but  step outdoors... be closer to what was happening above as though I were somehow kin to it all along. Snow began falling. Falling in mists at first and then heavy flurries and soon after there was a storm whirling around. And it was below zero cold which made it seem so easy. This was the time - to have one foot outside in the snow like weary mammals looking into the cold and dark and the other indoors in the pipe line heat of our urbanite hermitage - for vegetables cooked in a stew like winter demands - dark bread with sweet butter fat - alcohol spirits that chase troubles out the door but never solve them - but no one was around. But looking it up later on the weather channel what intuition said was a gimme was confirmed with information from satellites. The days were growing longer, if only by seconds. Why count? Ah, but that's the thing. Time - the life long habit we make - being in the drift of forever - starts taking an express. What to do then? The calender day may be longer. But the further out we go the more that calender day runs out! I remember walking on the frozen lake one evening and you said I don't know if I'll be coming home soon. The crunch of snow underfoot - clean sounding - direct - and the more you walked the more you needed to hear that sound - as though snow underfoot spoke for the world and was not simply another silence in winter. The sunlight had long settled beyond the white nests of the high Adirondack peaks. A fishing shanty began to glow behind a dirty plastic window in a gas lantern but otherwise the other ice holes were vacated for the night. Yea there were stars that formed. But that's all. Way out light in the distance. But today - like a fulcrum - remembrance springs eternal - one self as its called though we should constantly doubt it - is impossible - without today and the reverie - they both have to be somewhere in the same place for us to exist - so forgetting about the present today I painted over an old painting. And I had a sudden feeling or maybe an exchange of feelings that I was erasing some part of the past. In a way that was probably so. But was it the painting - or the times - that is memory - associated with the painting? Again what? A sort of perky melancholy in the abstract that held a breath of life to itself? Or was it literally something I would never see again? Frankly what I needed were the materials more - the physical fact that was the canvas and the already built up surface with layers of paint - than I required the image on the canvas despite the sentiment or even the technical value involved. And outside the snow was falling. A fine light snow covering up the old crust. And maybe what I was doing was also snowing. Covering up a storm of record with something different. Maybe the new painting will be called the snow of attraction. But that sounds too stupid to do. But anyway I was relived. Like I was no longer someplace else but present. In the studio. With music on. A pot of soup cooking in the house. Watching the snow fantastic falling in pressures and twilight lost in the build up.            

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Epistle. To: Lady Kimono Clan

Been over two months since I've had a proper shower. Pesky wound and all that. What you can do though with a sponge bath and dumping a pot of water over your head! The silver lining thing and all that. And each time I run that wash cloth around like some flag of surrender I think about swimming in the lake. After a day on land - isn't it usually fucked up or some otherwise arrangement - don't know why that is but that seems the nature on land - when you dive in and splash suddenly it's like things be gone. Maybe it's the floating body ripe for discovery. How the word buoyancy stands out like a second thought. The complete way - a Taoist sensibility -  water takes the feet out from under us and gives us fear of drowning-  but once over that - water becomes the  world -  waves to negotiate and sunlit reflections. And I know all that is dreamy. But that's what I'm thinking about despite all the tricky footwork. To be caught up in a dream. And not the dream getting caught up. So let the world fold us over. What would the point be having a life anyway? Remember the floating grave sites? And the trail maps? Pot luck for the dead with free music! Those were the days when distribution mattered. Old school paper clues. When you could throw announcements from the backs of trucks at people and everyone got it. Anyway there's not much real swimming these days. Unless you count walking outside the door into another rainstorm underneath a massive gray sky. The nurse said maybe there's a cloud in your future. I miss barbecues I said. I miss the innocent visions that go along with a plate of potato salad and sweet pickles and green beans. Green beans are mostly tasteless the nurse said until you kill them with salt.  I'll make them Italian style for you I said. Par-steam them and then soaked in ice water to retain their color and then patted dry and sauteed in olive oil with garlic until they darken. Turn off the heat before you think you need to and don't burn them to a crisp. Served with noodles quickly shaded from a bath in a light red sauce. Black and green olives scattered about for accent and tang. Hard wicked sharp cheese in peels. And bread. The gods have ovens I said. And they bake bread. Unfortunately though - forget the legends - someone has to make it - bread does not drop out of the sky. The nurse said I thought M&M's were the food of the gods. Well they are I said. But the gods do dabble about. And I'm not sure about the cloud and all that. Or even the future if you want to try and put a mark on it. But the nurse asked do the gods dabble about with paintings? Why so I wondered? Look at that cardinal in that tree she said. That would make a painting. And it was there - or there it was - like a heartbeat outside the window. This was not a recognizable time to quit I suggested. You can rest later she said. I'm always afraid that I'll just stand around empty handed. Forever taking leave... stop she said. And she was right. Being around her made me feel that way. Like what comes to the good -  or the bad - who knows - was measured all around in strange doses. Do some red paintings she said. And there was the cardinal - like song itself in the heavies and a rush of color in damp overcast -  hanging on a branch against the willow's creamy green leaves. And it was a red concentrated to imagine and to conflict, like a spiritual energy that flipped itself inside out and was now visible in eyes beak and wings. Forget that idea over a sunny day she said. This was getting to be a habit and one I should give up enjoying. Since time -  in the cliche-  heals all wounds-  and that in turn meant I lost the nurse. But we all lose. If there's a given then that's it. But I've found no less in the extremes. Being a fool in love did make you a sitting target. But why not just go out and lose? I don't really know - was it simpler that way? Loss. Making things with your hands and then placing them within the viewfinder of the world. But what happens afterwards is something that has frightened me from the beginning. When loss is celebrated different expectations arise in sets and take on a pattern because you're now the record of fact for others to see. Why does it have to be that complicated the nurse asked? Just do some red paintings. The last show was fine and she added you made cash.          

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Epistle. To: Berlin Film Actress

The old magazines had to go. As did some fucking old catalogues that I never bought anything from anyway. And books that now seemed worth more in trade at a used book store than they were for the ideas I once wanted from them or any memories I took off their pages. And there was a CD with a band's label but with no music on it when played, like that was the story on that. What you find when you move a bookcase from its place on the floor was not only dust from the last century and many dead bugs but also the obvious question - why has this stuff been kept around for so long? Maybe it was a zen riddle. Who never gets off the ground? Something aloud but with no answer. The answer being the form in question but the form in question requires you to have a take at it without ever coming around to it etc. So what you have is no answer worth printing. Dirt caught in spider webs. Monologues in shadows. Endless loops so what you end up doing is clean the bookcase. Odd though to see all the old magazines and catalogues with your name on it. And I thought what's it been like to be apart from that name? Was this like fumbling across some garage version of Gone With The Wind? Frankly I don't give a damn! But I know that's not it. But I also know I'm not like that Russian money guy who spends millions on a calender year in the hope he codes his DNA for future use after he dies. What for? So he can live again? To hear him tell it once he's gone there's an evolutionary right for him - to stay on as an idea - because he can afford to do so -  and more importantly he said there was someone else in the business willing to take his money and tell him yes sir of course and more so in the gross vernacular they were willing to grease his jizz. Maybe. But I also know what happened when I saw that name. Funny isn't it how buying something can seem like a ticket to a thought. Just as it's impossible to have only one direction home. What I guess I'm trying to do is to not mistake one thing for another, trying not to misplace reverie with nostalgia, and so stand on my own and not so much with a willingness to stand apart. And stuff like that was never but linear even in a practical way. So I look at an old book. And then outside the kitchen window two cardinals build a nest in the rose arbor. One reminds me about walking in the mountains, alive and young, steering the world through emptiness and all that. The other I simply stare at.    
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