photo : Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Sweetheart has gone to retrieve books at the faraway cottage on snowshoes. Books for customers. Snowshoes to get to & fro. Beat down the trail. When I go out to do all the trails — around the house, to the studio, and through the woodlot (pick up more logs), I'll take a spin and do the faraway cottage trail as well.
"Do you want any cookies baked?"
"Ah, the weather's so bleak."
She's right. It may take a few cookies to get us into March.
I've lost count of the days now and am about to give up on the weather map for the first time in years — it's just going to snow some more, then weeks on end of mud. That's the weather report. We hand shoveled the long driveway three times since Friday. Maybe 16 inches of snow over the three days. The snow banks are well over our heads.
Now to the important news: Natalie Portman looked by far the finest, and radiant, at the Independent Film Spirit Awards last night. Nothing in the world like an expectant mother. Dale Dickie from Winter's Bone appeared quite taken and humble on the announcement of her winning, and John Hawkes well deserved his award as one scary and thin meth tooler also from Winter's Bone.
The Oscars will be watched by millions worldwide this evening, and I only hope they will likewise pay attention to the Oscar winners out in Wisconsin who are fighting for their work lives and home lives. It remains the Greatest Show on Earth. It may indicate just how fascist state these united states have become.
Perhaps go back and run a finger (as if through flour) across the time line and history since Ronald Reagan, through lying in Congress, to liars now in Congress, AIDS, homeless, the bogus air "attack" to America which has performed an excellent excuse for anytime and anywhere states of emergencies, clamp downs, search and seizures, torture, wiretaps, email snooping, and let's not forget world banks and finance (a great deal of it centered in NYC) over throwing governments of the people for governments of the all-mighty buck.
If you've got the bucks, you're included, if you don't (majority) you're out.
Political parties mean zilch. It's all down to what cash you hold and who you protect. It's boiled down to the working-class being treated like garbage by a vast minority who have never worked an honest working day in their lives.
This is paramount. It's what dreams are made of, whole libraries of books, folklore, old sayings, traditional songs worldwide, wisdom from grandparents and parents and the wily neighbor who always had a keen tidbit to offer your way.
Unions aren't perfect but they are people. Every dictator is a louse.
An Anthony Scalia on a Supreme Court is obviously not justice.
War criminals BushCheneyRumsfeld jetting around free and with book parties is obviously a hideous joke.
One fatcat in America making the income of 350,000 Americans is a something-is-awful-wrong-here moment.
People kept healthy and educated and warm through mutual support are stronger, sharper and willing.
And united. It's about time this country earned its name.
And the Oscar goes to the ground-breakers, the name makers.
"Come On-a My House" ~
saroyan : parajanov.com
coda: I just had a letter this morning, snow falling all around, from good friend William out in Oregon who knows a thing or two about the two gentleman above. He kindly sent this version not to be missed ~ please link here
Saturday, February 26, 2011
CANTOS DE VIDA Y ESPERANZA / SONGS OF LOVE AND HOPE
Towers of God! Poets!
Heavenly lightning rods
withstanding severe tempests,
like unadorned crests,
like rustic peaks,
breakwaters of eternities!
Magical Hope announces the day
when on the rock of harmony
the perfidious siren will pass away.
You must have hope, let's still hope!
The bestial element takes comfort
in its hatred for sacred poetry,
hurling brickbats of every sort.
The insurrection from beneath
spreads to the upper class and elite.
The cannibal covets his piece of meat
with red gums and sharpened teeth.
Towers, place a smile on the pavilion.
In the face of that evil and that unease
place the lofty suggestion of a breeze
and the tranquility of sky and sea. . .
Songs of Life and Hope
translated by Will Derusha & Alberto Acereda
(Duke University Press 2004)
Johnny Guitar Watson was the ultimate rocker of blues. He took his name as still a teenager after he saw the Nicholas Ray film Johnny Guitar.
Etta James called him the best, and she traveled with him and knew. Frank Zappa picked up his guitar because of Johnny Guitar Watson. Hendrix is in the corner nodding yes to all of this.
A sleek pompadour and one more mountain lion bluesman from Texas raging in the 50s; by the 70s he had transformed without losing any of his claws or talent into a brother of style and funk, fly suit and all, and maybe just maybe he was the one who swept in Rap. Blame someone, JGW can take it.
Music historian Peter Gurlanick claims Watson not only was a musician but also a pimp — the wild man said it paid better than music.
Born in Houston, he played with everyone by the time he collapsed on stage in Yokohama, Japan, grasping his Fender Stratocaster mid-guitar solo! It was May 17, 1996. Age 61. Over there, it's still on some people's lips.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Some sound outside has raised our heads
Made us look into the eyes of one another.
You by the kerosene lamp glowing into your
Face and hair, knitting needles down in your lap.
I pull on high boots and wool shirt
Walk out to the dogs on their chains
Muzzles sniffing to the hillside.
We wait, beneath a clear wash of moonlight,
For sure we’re heard something and we’ll freeze
To hear it again — there, low bark, speaking from
A darkness left in the woods, excites the malamute
To circle his hut, piss on the pine he’s tied under.
No stir or movement up there, though these barks are
Moving across the face of the night, striking out
From some loss or pain, wearing down a trail.
I leave the dogs whining to go to the river
Rushing deep and flashing white light of the sky.
This is the clearest night yet for October
Frost webs open ground
Deer everywhere must be fattening on mushed apples.
A howl, now straight across from me —
I can’t see the bear but know it’s a bear,
The call it makes fills that body.
In a moment it will be farther away
Gone back into the hairs of darkness.
I hear nothing more, as if I’ve heard enough —
Now the middle of the night.
Soon that white light will rise out of the river.
© Bob Arnold
from Where Rivers Meet
(Mad River Press)
photo © bob arnold
Thursday, February 24, 2011
'O Mandala Tantric'
pin-pricked and back lit
plexiglass, LED light & wood
roughly 4 foot square
The above was easily the highlight of the modern Tibetan art we saw the other day while traveling around. This piece is quite bold and might even be eye-popping to some. The museum had it tucked away in a cozy alcove all its own. We have often seen school children and whole classes in this section of the museum with very diligent teachers, and always women, guiding by hand flocks of classes from one fascinating event to another. I've got a sneaky feeling this mandala will be avoided. The "mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imagery and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism," says art critic Ken Johnson.
The artist, Kesang Lamdark, was born in Dharamsala, India, in 1963 and grew up and schooled (Rudolf Steiner) in Switzerland. After apprenticing and working as an interior architect in Switzerland, he studied art at NY's Parsons School of Design in the early 90s, and received an MFA from Columbia University thereafter. His multimedia sculptures and installations are built from varied materials including metal, plastic, lights and found artifacts, which reflect upon his Tibetan roots and later lifestyle in a more freewheeling Europe and America. He makes his home in Switzerland.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A little news for the few woodslore fanatics still out there in the world. Since December we have been breaking a trail through our woodlot as we always do fall, winter through spring. In the summer we are walking behind lawn mowers and on bicycles enough to keep ourselves walked-up, so we're less in the woodlot.
Last December gave us barely any snow and the trail was easy. We also knew by every passing day in December, either January or February or both (and add March), would pay us back for the open ground in December and give us all the snow we could wish for. The wish came true, even if we weren't wishing. We broke a snowshoe trail all of January every day through the woodlot. And while making that daily trail we decided to pick up each day one or two logs from a full cord of rock maple and beech wood we cut and split a year earlier and stashed under a tarp up there. It's primo wood.
It's late February and the cord is collapsing down in size. We used to see it bold and awaiting as we marched down one hillside and rose with the other. Now it's greatly diminished and maybe halfway gone. Some days I hike the trail (a 15 minute jaunt) four times and am able to bring home eight logs, one under each arm. If Sweetheart is with me, we do better. If Kokomo comes with us on his blue leash we may bring home less wood, but having a kitten on a leash in deep snow is much more fun. Not to worry, he usually stays with us on the beaten down snow trail. The trail is maybe 16 inches wide, and if you or anyone veers off it, you're in snow up to your thighs.
Kokomo's favorite trees to climb along the way: ash and cherry. The leash is 16 feet long.
I know, I know, a cat on a leash, who would have thought. . .
So the plan is to see how long it takes for two people to hand carry a cord of hardwood out of the woodlot and bring it back home. As a daily hike. Not a job. The days I hike the trail four times is to make up for the days and days I have lost to just snow shoveling. Hemingway used to write twice longer on Friday so he could go fishing on Saturday. It's all about balancing the scales of the mind.
It's also about mathematics, which almost kept me from graduating from high school.
The other day I read an essay on backwoods life as mused over by a self-described urbanite. He was speaking of those who had "runaway" to the wilderness from responsibilities, as he called it, to a life often further disgraced with such descriptions as "romantic" and "irresponsible". As if breaking bread and earth with mother nature is "running away"? It seems more likely it is a life living with the source. With many elemental responsibilities. With dire consequences when undisciplined regarding the weather, making fuel, making food, making shelter. While all along shaping a communion with a greater space (a wilderness) and the greater neighborhood. If you can get a little romance out of that, when all is said and done, you deserve it.
So laugh along with me like a happy go lucky fool at all the other fools. As a wonderful fool once put it ~
"We are all amateurs. We don't live long enough to be anything else." *
I'm saying April 1st will be the day we have all the cord pile home and burned. I always considered April Fool's Day the first day of Spring.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Between blues and jazz, few had it down as well as Lonnie Johnson. Born in Orleans Parish in 1899 in a family of musicians, by eighteen years of age he was already off to England with a music revue. When he returned home he found all his family had perished with the 1918 influenza epidemic. Only a brother survived, James "Steady Roll" Johnson, and they teamed up together for awhile.
Johnson started recording with Okeh in 1925 and cut 130 tracks with the label over the next eight years. He went to the Bluebird label in the 30s&40s, Decca in Chicago, then King Records in 1947. His inspiration spans with Armstrong and Ellington as he gives it back to both, as well as to Elvis and Bob Dylan. The latter readily admits his first album is busy with Lonnie Johnson wisdom. Just listen to "Corrina, Corrina".
Johnson picked up the electric guitar in 1939. Before that, his influence to all jazz guitarists, including Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt, is a phenomenon all its own.
In his later years Johnson could be found on many Prestige recordings, all memorable. His performing could be erratic where one found him making a living as a steel foundry worker, or janitor...just to make ends meet. It's the old Blues story in old worn torn young America.
The great one was struck by a car in Toronto in 1969, causing kidney injuries and a broken hip leading to a fatal stroke in 1970.
There is a whole evening, or two, of Lonnie Johnson to listen to ~ try "The Mooche", "Winnie the Wailer", "Hot Fingers" for the unmatched. I'm offering a tune here that's pure stream running Lonnie Johnson.
Monday, February 21, 2011
With opening acts by Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers, these multistring instrument virtuosos — part hillbilly (but not)/part good craze wonder — were the ideal decoration for Dylan performing one more rendition of one of his classic tunes from the 60s. The very tune he used once upon a time (Newport '65) to shake up another sedate audience who were expecting a folk musician and instead they got themselves a rock 'n' roller.
During this same night, on the same stage, Mick Jagger would flaunt in high-strut, a song for Solomon Burke. A great number. Burke was also, invisibly, all over Dylan's "Maggie's Farm", since he covered it in 1965 on the flip-side of his hit "Tonight's the Night". This release by Burke was even prior to Dylan releasing the song as a single. Back in the golden age of 45s. Back when one or two songs were quite enough, played over and over and over again.
On this night Dylan stepped forth past a fire line set-up of these hillbilly musicians — caps and beards and grins, strings and bows perched at-ready — blasting behind him with the greatest of glee as he took a stance, reminiscent of maybe Al Jolson, a song a poem a plea of heralding disgust and revenge. Maybe even with some courtesy of forgiveness. At the closing he went to play his harmonica and heard it was backwards, flipped it in hand with wicked charm, and finished one more time on earth.
In the audience Neil Young and some others gave the act a standing ovation.
No, I aint gonna work on Maggie's farm no more
Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane
It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more
No, I aint gonna work for Maggie's brother no more
Well, he hands you a nickel
He hands you a dime
He asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time
Then he fines you every time you slam the door
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother more.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more
No, I aint gonna work for Maggie's pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
Ah, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more
Well, when she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law
She's the brains behind pa
She's sixty-eight, but she says she's fifty-four
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more
I aint gonna work on Maggie's farm no more
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Went wayward and visited one art museum, floating through an exhibit on Tibetan modern art, plus some favorites like Remington's painting "Shotgun Hospitality" — three Indians in blankets, one white settler, all holding rifles. Knowing how to hold rifles.
Bookstore, cafe, walked around. I took photographs.
Got back to Brattleboro before 8 and went to catch Carson in a band opening for a country swing sort of ensemble from North Carolina we were drawn to: Woody Pines.
The lead singer looked and acted quite a bit like Buddy Holly. It wasn't just the glasses, there was a genuine storyteller's demeanor and appeal to all parts of his playing — a cross blend of country-swing, traditional (fine Hank Williams cover) and their own material. Three guys on gorgeous stand-up bass, mandolin, guitars, hearty kazoo, and nicely torqued neck harp playing.
Many young women showed up, slinky and sisterly, dancing with each other on the dance floor. A sure sign things were heating up.
Sweetheart and I watched like two cats curled up, heads swaying. We bought the band's CD because it was the right thing to do. They said thank you, we did too.
Drove home with a moon as big as our house.
Go see Woody Pines if they hit your town. They've got a great story about having their van breakdown 30 miles south of Memphis on Highway 61. Last seen, they were carrying all their instruments with them down the highway.
FUNNY THINGS: while on stage, between songs, the friendly mandolin player for Woody Pines asked down to the dance floor, "Whatever happened to Howard Dean?" Referring to Vermont's former governor who some feel went off the deep-end while running for President. For some reason none of the young people at the concert had any of idea what the musician was asking. He waited and smiled and then asked, "You do know who Howard Dean is. Right?" No reply.
WOODY PINES has a lead singer by the name of "Woody Pines" who looks, somewhat sounds, and has all the get-up-and-go of Buddy Holly. Uncanny. I told him so later. He said, "Oh, yeah, the glasses", touching them for a moment and seeming a little rattled by my observation. I said, "No, not just that; it's your sound." He's young and turned away from me back to the young. Bob Dylan once wrote about seeing Buddy Holly when Dylan was a squirt, unknown, and he stood up front right at the stage edge near his hero's feet. He claims Holly looked straight down at him. It was as if he were bequeathed by the heart of rock 'n' roll. Watching Woody Pines I felt like I was seeing their great grandchild.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
FROM THE ZURAU APHORISMS
The true path is along a rope, not a rope suspended way up in the air, but rather only just over the ground. It seems more like a tripwire than a tightrope.
The decisive moment of human development is continually at hand. This is why those movements of revolutionary thought that declare everything preceding to be an irrelevance are correct — because as yet nothing has happened.
The variety of views that one may have, say, of an apple the view of the small boy who has to crane is neck for a glimpse of the apple on the table, and the view of the master of the house who picks up the apple and hands it to a guest.
Leopards break into the temple and drink all the sacrificial vessels dry; it keeps happening; in the end, it can be calculated in advance and is incorporated into the ritual.
You are the exercise, the task. No student far and wide.
Goodness is in a certain sense comfortless.
There is no possessing, only an existing, only an existing that yearns for its final breath, for asphyxiation.
Earlier, I didn't understand why I got no answer to my question, today I don't understand how I presumed to ask a question. But then I didn't presume, I only asked.
The disproportion of the world seems fortunately to be merely numerical.
To let one's hate — and disgust-filled head slump onto one's chest.
Belief in progress doesn't mean belief in progress that has already occurred. That would not require belief.
In the struggle between yourself and the world, hold the world's coat.
The fact that the only world is a constructed world takes away hope and gives us certainty.
Theoretically there is no consummate possibility of felicity: to believe in the indestructible in oneself, and then not to go looking for it.
Dealings with people bring about self-scrutiny.
The spirit only becomes free at the point where it ceases to be invoked as a support.
Two alternatives: either to make oneself infinitesimally small, or to be so. The former is perfection and hence inaction; the latter a beginning and therefore action.
No psychology ever again!
Evil is sometimes like a tool in your hand, recognized or unrecognized, you are able, if you have the will to do it, to set it aside, without being opposed.
The joys of this life are not its joys, but our fear of climbing into a higher life; the torments of this life are not its torments, but our self-torment on account of this fear.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
AT THE COUNTRY WEDDING
They don’t tinkle
With their spoons here
And only the old folks
Are sitting down.
A country western group
Has lugged its equipment upstairs,
And later today and into the evening
This young married couple
Will learn the sweet
And rotten joys
From the masters of it —
Dancing fathers and mothers,
Lonesome aunts and yodeling uncles.
But for the moment
Paper plates are heaped with
Homemade ham, biscuits and beans
And all a few people want
Is a kiss,
So tapping on the side
Of a beer bottle with a knife
Quiets the whole grange hall down
© Bob Arnold
from Where Rivers Meet
(Mad River Press)
photo © bob arnold
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
(click on booklet to enlarge)
Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.
November 17—The Dow Closes Up 10437
Nothing grows in this pasture of starlight, not crow
nor bluejay lingers on the spot where a man was beaten
we could make a map, undertake a series of calculations,
“do something big for America,” consider
the greatest happiness for the greatest number,
a foundation for laws, a justice,
carve a little space on the sidewalk, pour concrete
10 books wide, tell the story
from pulpit to press, from parable to ordinance,
bless the weeds and honeysuckle fronting the fence.
ON & OFF
Bill Russell receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom 15 February 2011
“Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men.’’ He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. I hope that one day, in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.’’~ President Barack Obama
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
AP—Fort Wayne, Indiana
Nudged by Big Brother Bob, one of our fair residents, George Kalamaras, ventured out in the arctic cold this evening to see one of his favorite bands in rock & blues history. It had been 38 years since George had first seen Savoy Brown in Indiana at the Hammond Civic Center, where they headlined an incredible show with Status Quo and the original Spirit, featuring Randy California and Ed Cassidy. While not the original line-up of Savoy Brown this evening, the band still featured legendary guitarist Kim Simmonds and a solid band.
According to an anonymous source, dog-tired from a grueling week, and in the midst of preparing for another next week, Kalamaras flirted with the idea of not attending tonight’s show. However, Bob Arnold of Longhouse Publishers provided George with the necessary nudge, full of unabashed Leo fire, to kindle enthusiasm at the end of a tiring week. This nudge, coupled with the revelation from George’s wife Mary Ann that smoking is banned in bars in Fort Wayne, and fueled by chai tea at a local Indian restaurant, was enough to allow Kalamaras to break free of the chains of his otherwise cozy hermit-cave.
It is no secret that the Fort Wayne poet prefers quiet and solitude. He’d been torn whether to attend the concert of one of his favorite bands. Part of the complexity involved not returning home from campus until 7:00 p.m., needing to make dinner for his beloved beagle, Bootsie, and a promise to his wife to have dinner with her following her Friday evening class, in which she teaches poetry to a community group of adolescents each Friday evening at the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art and Culture. It is reported that Kalamaras did not care to engage a bizarre juggling act just to listen to music on a blustery night in the Midwest.
However, our sources reveal that Kalamaras realized, when Arnold suggested going and leaving early, that he could indeed break the mold and could actually do something similar—that is, do the opposite. He could honor his commitments and attend the show late. Thus, fueled with spicy Indian tea, Kalamaras arrived at the 9 p.m. show at 11:00 and caught nearly an hour of an amazing set (at the reduced rate of $10 from the original asking price of $23), which had 63-year-old Kim Simmonds on his knees at one point perhaps 30 feet in front of Kalamaras during an 18-minute version of “Hellbound Train,” in which Simmonds played a glistening white flying-v guitar. Earlier, as Kalamaras traversed the parking lot on his way into the show, he heard the melodious funk of “Wang Dang Doodle” and knew he’d made the right decision to attend, especially when he walked in the door and saw Simmonds wailing on a sunburst Gibson hollow-body 335.
When Kalamaras had phoned the bar earlier in the evening, they’d promised that the band would play until 1:00 a.m., but according to an aging hippie who befriended Kalamaras after the show, the band apparently started early and thus ended a little early.
Still, an hour with the legendary blues band was enough to send Kalamaras into sheer ecstasy. His new friend even gave George a playlist, distributed by the band, after George approached the man following the show, asking what he’d missed. The man’s friend, seemingly stoned out of his mind, had been crying out for “Louisiana Blues” over and over near the end of the show, so George figured he could trust those dudes as they knew the older material. He was about to ask another freak, who left before he could, since George noticed he had a poster that Kim Simmonds had signed for him from an early Savoy Brown show in L.A. in the 60s featuring Delaney and Bonnie, as well as The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, a little-known band that is another favorite of Kalamaras (featuring Aynsley Dunbar of John Mayall fame).
Regardless, the two freaks befriended Kalamaras, although alcohol fumes from their breath nearly caused the poet to faint. Part of their bond was that Kalamaras had seen the band 38 years before, and one of the freaks had seen them 40 years earlier in Fort Wayne. Kalamaras had apparently missed “Poor Girl” and “Looking In,” both from the Looking In lp, his all-time favorite of the band, as well as “Train to Nowhere,” from another favorite, Blue Matter. Kalamaras, in seeing the playlist, was secretly relieved to see that the band did not feature other songs he would have kicked himself for missing, particularly tunes from Raw Sienna, A Step Further, Getting to the Point, Blue Matter, Shake Down (the first Savoy Brown lp, long out of print), and Looking In, although Kalamaras was fortunate to catch “Leavin’ Again” from the latter.
Kalamaras was delayed in arriving at the show, as he got lost on an old county road on this windy night, searching for the bar. One bonus was that he got to hear “Badge” on the car radio as he was back-tracking to find the bar, with George Harrison’s amazing bridge, and that set the mood for George to sink into his rock roots.
It has been reported that Kalamaras is now safely home, seeming to blend in quite easily back into his hermit-cave, ready to light a fire and read a good book—of course, with Bootsie Beagle at his side. We have received reports that he thanks his friend Bob Arnold for encouraging him to attend, and that he has said that he had realized that on some level he knew Bob would encourage him to dig out of his mole-hole and that is likely why he wrote Bob earlier this afternoon regarding his indecisiveness. It is also reported that another good friend, Ray Gonzalez, also encouraged him to attend a month or so back.
Kalamaras reportedly is curious why sometimes he needs a nudge to do some of his favorite things, but he has decided that he has had enough material to ponder this evening and simply wants to crawl back into his mole-hole after being out among 250 drunk people.