Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BE MY HUSBAND ~






ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS




antony and the Johnsons by Susan Arnold on Grooveshark





Antony Hegarty was born in Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK, in 1971.

Block out all knowledge — in other words go blank and float — and receive the sounds of Antony:
 an aura who seems vocally out of Pavarotti and whales calling.
 No judgements. No conclusions. Allowance.


songs compiled by BA from recordings below



ALBUMS



Antony and the Johnsons, 1998
I am a Bird Now, 2005
The Crying Light, 2009
Swanlights, 2010

(Live recordings)

Live at St. Olave's, 2003
Cut the World, 2012
Del suo veloce volo, 2012
(w/ Franco Battiato)




SOON ~








~ for Edie & Kathy ~









Monday, December 30, 2013

ODE ~







Pablo Neruda






Ode to the First Day of the Year
Oda al Primer dia del ano



We identify it
as if
it were
a wooden horse
different from
all horses.
We adorn
its forehead
with a ribbon,
we hang
on its neck colorful rattles,
and at midnight
we get ready to receive it
as if it were
an explorer descending from a star.

The way bread resembles
yesterday's bread,
a ring all rings:
the days
blink
clearly, jingling, fleetingly,
and lie down in the dark night.

I see the last
day
of this
year
on a train, toward the rains
of a distant purple archipelago,
and the man
on the machine,
complicated like a clock from heaven,
lowering his eyes
to the infinite
ruler of the rails,
to the shining handles,
to the nimble bonds of fire.

Of conductor of trains
accelerating
toward the black
stations of the night,
this end
of the year,
without wife or children,
is it not the same for the one gone, the one coming?
From the roads
and workshops,
the first day, the first dawn
of the starting year,
has the same rusty
color as the iron train:
and people along the way
greet it,
cows, villages,
the vapor of the first light of day,
without knowing
it is
the year's door,
a day
heralded
by bells,
adorned with plumes and carnations.

The earth
does not
know it:
it will receive
that golden
day, gray, heavenly,
it will extend it over hills,
it will wet it with
arrows
of translucent
rain,
and then
it will curl it
in a tube,
will store it in the shadows.
It is thus, but
a small
door of hope,
new year's day,
although you are
like the bread
of all breads,
we will live you in a different way,
we will eat you, flower you,
wait for you.
We will place you
like a cake
in our lives,
we will light you
like candelabra,
we will drink you
as if
you were a topaz.
New
Year's
Day,
electric day, fresh,
all the leaves
emerge green
from
the trunk of time.

Crown us
with
water,
with open
jasmine,
with all the aromas
deployed,
yes,
even though
you're
only
a day,
a poor
human day,
your halo
beats
over so many
tired
hearts,
and you are,
oh new
day,
oh forthcoming cloud,
bread unseen before,
permanent
tower!


P A B L O   N E R U D A
translated by Ilan Stavans



____________________

All the Odes
Pablo Neruda
edited by Ilan Stavans
Farrar 2013






Sunday, December 29, 2013

POSTCARD 23 ~







odilon redon
"sita", 1893







Saturday, December 28, 2013

BASIA BULAT ~









On the music scene since 2004 as vocalist and playing guitar, autoharp, hammered dulcimer, piano, ukelele, charango, Basia Bulat grew up in Etobicoke, Ontario where her mother was a music teacher who taught piano and guitar. She is an honorary member of Ontario's "Polonia" Polish community.




selections compiled by bob arnold from the albums below



Studio Albums

_______________________

Oh, My Darling (2007)
  Heart of My Own (2010
Tall Shadow (2013)





Friday, December 27, 2013

POSTCARD 22 ~





photo : lisa law
janis joplin
big brother & the holding company
1967




A DAY LATER ~








drawing © bob arnold

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

LATER THE SAME DAY ~












slight chance of snow






JINGLE BELLS ~






songs compiled by BA




SEASON'S ~ GREETINGS ~ FROM ~ L O N G H O U S E ~









"Star-Flyer"
the ride of all rides
Edinburgh, Scotland




one can be either the young women in the white scarf in the forefront
or the galloping sidekick to her left
but still, we can't help but wonder:
what happened to the two in the empty seat in the back!? 

60 metres above St Andrew Square

 Photograph: Murdo Macleod





Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

WHITE CHRISTMAS ( POSTCARD 21 ) ~







songs compiled by BA

photo : arthur rothstein
irving berlin
1955







PULSE ~






the northern lights
(Norway / Lapland)



photo : andy keen




REBECCA SOLNIT ~










The Arc of Justice and the Long Run
                        ~   Hope, History, and Unpredictability   ~





    By Rebecca Solnit

    North American cicada nymphs live underground for 17 years before they emerge as adults. Many seeds stay dormant far longer than that before some disturbance makes them germinate. Some trees bear fruit long after the people who have planted them have died, and one Massachusetts pear tree, planted by a Puritan in 1630, is still bearing fruit far sweeter than most of what those fundamentalists brought to this continent. Sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.

    Three years ago at this time, after a young Tunisian set himself on fire to protest injustice, the Arab Spring was on the cusp of erupting. An even younger man, a rapper who went by the name El Général, was on the verge of being arrested for “Rais Lebled” (a tweaked version of the phrase “head of state”), a song that would help launch the revolution in Tunisia.

    Weeks before either the Tunisian or Egyptian revolutions erupted, no one imagined they were going to happen. No one foresaw them. No one was talking about the Arab world or northern Africa as places with a fierce appetite for justice and democracy. No one was saying much about unarmed popular power as a force in that corner of the world. No one knew that the seeds were germinating.

    A small but striking aspect of the Arab Spring was the role of hip-hop in it. Though the U.S. government often exports repression -- its billions in aid to the Egyptian military over the decades, for example -- American culture can be something else altogether, and often has been.

    Henry David Thoreau wrote books that not many people read when they were published. He famously said of his unsold copies, "I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself.” But a South African lawyer of Indian descent named Mohandas Gandhi read Thoreau on civil disobedience and found ideas that helped him fight discrimination in Africa and then liberate his own country from British rule. Martin Luther King studied Thoreau and Gandhi and put their ideas to work in the United States, while in 1952 the African National Congress and the young Nelson Mandela were collaborating with the South African Indian Congress on civil disobedience campaigns. You wish you could write Thoreau a letter about all this. He had no way of knowing that what he planted would still be bearing fruit 151 years after his death. But the past doesn’t need us. The past guides us; the future needs us.

An influential comic book on civil disobedience and Martin Luther King published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the U.S. in 1957 was translated into Arabic and distributed in Egypt in 2009, four decades after King’s death. What its impact was cannot be measured, but it seems to have had one in the Egyptian uprising which was a dizzying mix of social media, outside pressure, street fighting, and huge demonstrations.

The past explodes from time to time, and many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly. Much of what has been most beautifully transformative in recent years has also been branded a failure by people who want instant results guaranteed or your money back. The Arab Spring has just begun, and if some of the participant nations are going through their equivalent of the French Revolution, it’s worth remembering that France, despite the Terror and the Napoleonic era, never went back either to absolutist monarchy or the belief that such a condition could be legitimate. It was a mess, it was an improvement, it’s still not finished.

The same might be said of the South African upheaval Mandela catalyzed. It made things better; it has not made them good enough. It’s worth pointing out as well that what was liberated by the end of apartheid was not only the nonwhite population of one country, but a sense of power and possibility for so many globally who had participated in the boycotts and other campaigns to end apartheid in that miraculous era from 1989 to 1991 that also saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, successful revolutions across Eastern Europe, the student uprising in Beijing, and the beginning of the end of many authoritarian regimes in Latin America.

In the hopeful aftermath of that transformation, Mandela wrote, “The titanic effort that has brought liberation to South Africa and ensured the total liberation of Africa constitutes an act of redemption for the black people of the world. It is a gift of emancipation also to those who, because they were white, imposed on themselves the heavy burden of assuming the mantle of rulers of all humanity. It says to all who will listen and understand that, by ending the apartheid barbarity that was the offspring of European colonization, Africa has, once more, contributed to the advance of human civilization and further expanded the frontiers of liberty everywhere.”

Congo Square

The arc of justice is long. It travels through New Orleans, the city I’ve returned to again and again since Hurricane Katrina.  It’s been my way of trying to understand not just disaster, but community, culture, and continuity, three things that city possesses as no place else in the nation. Hip-hop comes most directly from the South Bronx, but if you look at the 1970s founders of that genre of popular music, you see that some of the key figures were Caribbean, and if you look at their formative music, it included the ska and reggae that were infused with the influence of New Orleans. (In addition, that city’s native son and major jazz figure, Donald Harrison, Jr., was a mentor to seminal New York City rapper Notorious B.I.G.)

If you look at New Orleans, what you see is an astonishing example of the survival of culture -- and of the culture of survival.

Maybe you’d have to do what I was doing in early 2011 -- poke around in the origins of American music in New Orleans -- to be struck by the way so many essential parts of it came from Africa in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and some of it returned to that continent again in recent years. I was looking at maps, making maps, thinking about how to chart the unexpected ways immaterial things move through time and space.

The saddest map I have ever seen is the oft-published one of the triangle trade, a vicious circle that isn’t even a circle. It depicts the routes of the eighteenth and nineteenth century European traders who brought manufactured goods from their continent to West Africa to exchange for human beings who were then transported to the United States and the Caribbean to be exchanged for raw materials, especially sugar, rum, and tobacco. It’s a map that tells of people made into tools and commodities, but it tells us nothing of what the enslaved brought with them.

Stripped bare of all possessions and rights, they carried memory, culture, and resistance in their heads. New Orleans let those things flourish as nowhere else in the United States during the long, obscene era of slavery, while the biggest slave uprising in U.S. history took place nearby in 1811 (its participants including two young Asante warriors who had arrived in New Orleans on slave ships five years earlier). From the mid-eighteenth century to the 1840s, the enslaved of New Orleans were permitted to gather on Sundays in the plaza on the edge of the old city known then and now as Congo Square.

"On sabbath evening," the visitor H.C. Knight famously wrote in 1819, "the African slaves meet on the green, by the swamp, and rock the city with their Congo dances." The great music historian Ned Sublette observes that this is the first use of rock as a verb about music, and in his marvelous book The World That Made New Orleans notes that what is arguably the first rock and roll record, Roy Brown’s 1947 “Good Rocking Tonight,” was recorded a block away.

In between, what Africans had brought with them continued its metamorphosis in the city: jazz famously arose from black culture near Congo Square, as did important rhythm and blues strains and influences, as well as performers, then funk, and eventually hip-hop. Funk arose in part from Afro-Cuban influences and from the African-American tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians -- not Native Americans, but working-class African Americans. Their elaborate outfits and rites officially pay homage to the Native Americans who sheltered runaway slaves (and sometimes intermarried with them), but have a startling resemblance to African beaded costumes. The Mardi Gras Indians still parade on that day and other days, chanting and singing, challenging each other through song. One of the recurrent chants declares, “We won’t bow down.”  

Though New Orleans is mainly famous for other things, it has also been a city of resistance -- from the slave revolts of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to late nineteenth century segregation-breaker Homer Plessy to Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old who in 1960 was the first Black child to integrate a white school in the South. The span of time is not as long as you might think: Fats Domino, one of the founding fathers of rock and roll, is still alive and has a home in the Lower Ninth Ward. The midwife at his birth a few blocks away was his grandmother, who had been born into slavery. 

New Orleanian Herreast Harrison, a woman in her seventies, mother of jazzman Donald Harrison Jr., widow of a Mardi Gras Indian chief, cultural preserver, and a dynamic force in the city, said to me of Mardi Gras Indian culture:

“But those groups remembered their cultural heritage and practiced it there, that memory, they had this overarching memory of their pasts. And when they were there, they were free. And their spirits soared to the high heavens. They were themselves. In spite of limitations in every aspect of their lives. Where they should have felt like, ‘we are nothing,’ because you get brainwashed constantly about the fact that you're a nobody... but they didn't, they brought back. And now it's part of the world, that music.”

And her son, Donald Harrison, Jr., added:

“One other very important thing that Congo Square represented in the culture was that no matter what’s going on in life you transcend the culture and Congo Square helps you. It transcends and puts you into a transcendental state so that you are free at that moment. Even today, that’s the power of the music and that’s why it brings us together. You have a moment of freedom where you transcend everything that’s going on around you. Berthold Auerbach said it so eloquently: ‘Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’  At that moment you become free, which is why the music is part of the world now. Everybody wants a moment to transcend. It goes inside of you and you know where you can go to be free. No matter if you’re in Norway, South American, or Beijing, you know, ‘this music sets me free.’ So Congo Square set the world free, basically. It gives freedom to everyone around it.”

In my latest project, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, I tried to convey what New Orleans music gave the world in a map labeled “Repercussions: Rhythm and Resistance Across the Atlantic.” Those involuntary émigrés brought by slave ship were said to have nothing, but what they had still reaches and spreads and liberates.

What we call the Arab Spring was first of all the North African Spring -- in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya -- and hip-hop was already there. It has, in fact, become a global means of dissent, from indigenous Oaxaca, Mexico, to Cairo, Egypt. Which does not mean that everything is fine (or that hip-hop can't also be used for consumerism or misogyny). It’s a reminder, however, that even in the most horrific of circumstances, something remarkable more than survived; it throve and grew and eventually reached around the Earth.

Nearly three years after the first sparks of the Arab Spring began, it’s wiser to consider it, too, barely begun rather than ended in failure. More than two years after the first members of Occupy Wall Street began decamping in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, that movement is not over either, though almost all the encampments have subsided and the engagement has new names: Occupy Sandy, Strike Debt, and more. That everything continues to metamorphose seems a better way to think of social upheavals than obituaries and epitaphs.

Maps of the Unpredictable

Whenever I look around me, I wonder what old things are about to bear fruit, what seemingly solid institutions might soon rupture, and what seeds we might now be planting whose harvest will come at some unpredictable moment in the future. The most magnificent person I met in 2013 quoted a line from Michel Foucault to me: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.” Someone saves a life or educates a person or tells her a story that upends everything she assumed. The transformation may be subtle or crucial or world changing, next year or in 100 years, or maybe in a millennium. You can’t always trace it but everything, everyone has a genealogy.

In her forthcoming book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, Sarah Lewis tells how a white teenager in Austin, Texas, named Charles Black heard a black trumpet player in the 1930s who changed his thinking -- and so our lives. He was riveted and transformed by the beauty of New Orleans jazzman Louis Armstrong’s music, so much so that he began to reconsider the segregated world he had grown up in. "It is impossible to overstate the significance of a 16-year-old Southern boy's seeing genius, for the first time, in a black," he recalled decades later. As a lawyer dedicated to racial equality and civil rights, he would in 1954 help overturn segregation nationwide, aiding the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case ending segregation (and overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, the failed anti-segregation lawsuit launched in New Orleans 60 years earlier).

How do you explain what Louis Armstrong’s music does? Can you draw a map of the United States in which the sound of a trumpeter in 1930s Texas reaches back to moments of liberation created by slaves in Congo Square and forward to the Supreme Court of 1954?

Or how do you chart the way in which the capture of three young American hikers by Iranian border guards on the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and their imprisonment -- the men for 781 days -- became the occasion for secret talks between the U.S. and Iran that led to the interim nuclear agreement signed last month? Can you draw a map of the world in which three idealistic young people out on a walk become prisoners and then catalysts?

Looking back, one of those three prisoners, Shane Bauer, wrote, "One of my fears in prison was that our detention was only going to fuel hostility between Iran and the U.S. It feels good to know that those two miserable years led to something, that could lead to something better than what was before."

Bauer later added:

“The reason our tragedy led to an opening between the United States and Iran was that many people were actively working to end our suffering. To do so, our friends and families had to strive to build a bridge between the U.S. and Iran when the two governments were refusing to do it themselves. Sarah [Shourd, the third prisoner] is not a politician and she has no desire to be, but when she was released a year before Josh and me, she made herself into a skilled and unrelenting diplomat, strengthening connections between Oman and the U.S. that ultimately led to these talks.”

A decade ago I began writing about hope, an orientation that has nothing to do with optimism. Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what, just as pessimism says that it will be dismal no matter what. Hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible. It means recognizing that the sound of a trumpet at a school dance in Austin, Texas, may resound in the Supreme Court 20 years later; that an unfortunate hike in the borderlands might help turn two countries away from war; that Edward Snowden, a young NSA contractor and the biggest surprise of this year, might revolt against that agency’s sinister invasions of privacy and be surprised himself by the vehemence of the global reaction to his leaked data; that culture which left Africa more than 200 years ago might return to that continent as a tool for liberation -- that we don’t know what we do does.

That Massachusetts pear tree is still bearing fruit almost 400 years after it was planted. The planter of that tree also helped instigate the war against the Pequots, who were massacred in 1637. “The survivors were sold into slavery or given over to neighboring tribes. The colonists even barred the use of the Pequot name, ‘in order to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth,’ as the leader of the raiding party later wrote,” according to the New York Times.

For centuries thereafter, that Native American nation was described as extinct, erased, gone. It was written about in the past tense when mentioned at all. In the 1970s, however, the Pequots achieved federal recognition, entitling them to the rights that Native American tribes have as “subject sovereign nations”; in the 1980s, they opened a bingo hall on their reservation in Connecticut; in the 1990s, it became the biggest casino in the western world. (Just for the record, I’m not a fan of the gambling industry, but I am of unpredictable narratives.)

With the enormous income from that project, the tribe funded a Native American history museum that opened in 1998, also the biggest of its kind. The new empire of the Pequots has been on rocky ground since the financial meltdown of 2008, but the fact that it arose at all is astonishing more than 150 years after Herman Melville stuck a ship called the Pequod in the middle of his novel Moby Dick and mentioned that it was named after a people "now extinct as the ancient Medes.” Are there are longer odds in New England than that a people long pronounced gone would end up profiting from the bad-math optimism of their neighbors?

Meanwhile, that pear tree continues to bear fruit; meanwhile, hip-hop continues to be a vehicle for political dissent from the Inuit far north to Latin America; meanwhile, diplomatic relations with Iran have had some surprising twists and turns, most recently away from war.

I see the fabric of my country’s rights and justices fraying and I see climate change advancing. There are terrible things about this moment and it’s clear that the consequences of climate change will get worse (though how much worse still depends on us). I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for business and the status quo to acknowledge.

What I learned first in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was how calm, how resourceful, and how generous people could be in the worst times: the “Cajun Navy” that came in to rescue people by boat, the stranded themselves who formed communities of mutual aid, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, from middle-aged Mennonites to young anarchists, who arrived afterward to help salvage a city that could have been left for dead.

I don’t know what’s coming. I do know that, whatever it is, some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be miraculous, that term we reserve for the utterly unanticipated, the seeds we didn’t know the soil held. And I know that we don’t know what we do does. As Shane Bauer points out, the doing is the crucial thing. 






 Rebecca Solnit co-directed Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, the sequel to her 2010 Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.  A TomDispatch regular, this piece is the final article of the year for that site where she has done the same duty for the last nine years.


http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175788/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_the_future_needs_us/#more





Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

POSTCARD 20 ~





photo : fred sieb

"this profile, formed during the ice age
was worshipped by the American Indian
as the profile of the "Great Spirit" and
was first discovered by white men in 1805.
The face, which measured 48 feet from
forehead to chin, was 1200 feet above
Profile Lake and 3200 feet above sea level.

The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the "Great Stone Face" was a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

It collapsed on May 3, 2003.

Here with us Winter Solstice



Friday, December 20, 2013

LEONARD MICHAELS ~








Beyond Orgasm



She didn't like me. So I phoned her every day. I announced the new movies, concerts, art exhibits. I talked them up, excitements out there, claiming them in my voice. Not to like me was not to like the world. Then I asked her out. Impossible to say no. I appeared at her door in a witty hat, a crazy tie. Sometimes I changed my hairstyle. I was various, talking, dancing, waving my arms. I was the world. But she didn't like me. If she weren't so sweet, if she had will power, if she didn't miss the other guy so much, she'd have said, "Beat it, you're irrelevant." But she was in pain, confused about herself. The other guy had dumped her. I owed him a debt. It took the form of hatred, although, if not for him, she wouldn't have needed me. Not that she did. She needed my effort, not me. Me, she didn't like. Discouraged, sad, thinking I'd overdone this bad act and maybe I didn't like her all that much, I said, "Let's go to the restaurant next door, have dinner, say goodbye." She seemed reluctant, even frightened. I wondered if, in such decisive gestures, there was hope. She said, "Not there." I wondered if it was his hangout, or a restaurant she used to enjoy with him. I insisted, "Please," she said, "any other restaurant." But I needed this concession. She'd never given me anything else. For two men I'd talked and danced, even in bed. I insisted. Adamant. Shaking. "Only that restaurant." She took my arm. We walked briskly in appreciation of my feelings. As we entered the restaurant, she pulled back. I recognized him — alone, sitting at a table. Him. The other guy. My soul flew into the shape of his face. He yawned. Nothing justifies hate like animal simplicity. "Look. He's yawning. What a swine." Was it a show of casual vulnerability? Contempt? She pulled my arm. I didn't budge. I stared. His eyes squeezed to dashes. I heard the mock whimper of yawns. He began scratching the tablecloth. Two waiters ran to his side with questions of concern. His yawn was half his face. Batlike whimpers issued from it. Jawbones had locked, fiercely, absolutely. He needed help. My fist was ready. She cried, begging, dragging me away. I let her. That night was our beginning. Whenever I yawned at her, she'd laugh and plead, "Stop it." Her admiration of me extended to orgasm. Even beyond. It was not unmixed with fear.


_________________

LEONARD MICHAELS
from The Collected Stoiries
Farrar 2007












Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A ZEN FOREST ~














No ugliness
    in a loved child.








No one buys water
    down by the riverside.







A dead stag
    in the field:
Grass
    wraps it.







Where no Buddha,
    the Buddha works.






 
Hide yourself
    —within the North Star.







Better see his face
    than hear his name.







He dies,
    I die —
Where can we
    meet?







 

Jump out of the world
    of Satori!







Great skill looks
    like clumsiness.







Hide yourself in
    each and every thing!







Sprinkling piss
    on sacred soil.







A three-foot staff
    stirs
        the Yellow River.







The mountain is high:
    the moon, late.








High mountains,
    running water —
I'm waiting for
    the one who knows.







A withered tree
    meets spring no more.







Clouds gone,
    the mountain shows.







Shouldering the plank
    —till death.








 
A dumb man has eaten
    a bitter cucumber.







I've seen through you
    already.












compiled by bob arnold


 _______________________

 translated by Soiku Shigematsu
foreword by Gary Snyder
from A ZEN FOREST
Sayings of the Masters
(Weatherhill 1981)


oxherding illustrations by Gyokusen