26 December 2007
What is a jackalope? A near extinct creature, with the body of a rabbit and the horns of an antelope - a beautiful thing to see running across the meadows of the Sierra Nevadas. We used to chase at Yosemite with my grandfather. My father tells the story of a camping trip when he was ten, and awakened under the stars by a clamor of bear-scaring pots and pans. The black bear had chased a foolish jackalope into the campsite, and both, in their sylvan glory, soared above him in their return to the wild, the bear blotting out the moon.
My uncle trapped and stuffed a jackalope three or four years ago. The species produces the softest and most lovable of all taxidermic results. The teddy is now passed, as the milk once was, and as my grandfather did years ago. My sister gave it to my Auntie Carol today. Carol suffered from a stroke and can't really speak now, just can repeat a few things. She said "jackalope. jackalope." when she opened the present. And smiled and laughed. You have to love the jackalope, because it is there to love. It is there to remember. The jackalope across the plains and my grandfather puffing along behind it, ready to capture its final disappearing leap and put it down into a watercolor. The jackalope across Carol's lap, ready to leap with her, ready to be held at night. A stuffed animal for having and giving. A hug for a year.
03 December 2007
Even the guards would love a day off. One of the guards told us he had been sick and had diarrhea. Phil recommended using baby wipes, cause they don't soak through. "Can't complain, no diarrhea here..." A fellow 'teacher', from CCRI, started asking the guards about working as a prison guard. "You gotta be a certain kind of person, I couldn't do it myself." and the guard in reply: "Yeah. You gotta be fucking crazy."
19 November 2007
is more entertainment than art.
is necessarily a personal form.
is always an immediate experience.
sometimes gains emotional clout by tapping into 'real' events, which are effaced in an effort to provoke chills or tears.
is stuck in a form with a very limited range of possible variations.
These things have led me to choose to perform very specifically selected pieces. Last fall I collaborated with Eva on a piece called Moving that was literally about moving, in a lot of different ways. Not explicitly personal, no make-you-cry punches in the face. Good. This year I performed a piece called Building that was intentionally obscure, although far more personal. The poem referred obliquely to both a specific place (a prison) and a specific person (an inmate). I mentioned the inmate's name, in the midst of a gesture intended to erase the graphic novels of criminality that had been sketched onto him, but in doing so (as was pointed out to me) I completely obliterated him for the sake of using an inmate (any inmate) in my poem. By only mentioning his name, I fell softly, but firmly into my own critique.
His name, your brother's illness, some kid's death at police hands, hardships elsewhere, histories of hate.
Easy fodder, right? Tricks of the trade. Talking about things we all already know (the president is an idiot, racism is present) get snaps, and things we don't understand yet get passed over. And with the same ease that the Slam Poet slides facts into his fiction, the facts become art and artificial, and begin to stand next to the churning wheels of armchair liberals who went out and started the car, but it was cold, so they are just waiting and rocking. Waiting and rocking.
Not all poems rock like that though, some rock it big like boulders, some rock it silent like stones. And some do rock it like a brick through the window that tells you that its time to wake up. One poem caused one person to look up Executive Order 9066, and then caused me to write here about it. Another has led to at least four conversations that I considered worthwhile, and built towards something.
It can be either bringing a new light to something familiar, or bringing something new to a new light. The same tired topics are getting worn and falling apart. If the poem sees this, relaxes, and doesn't try to put anything back together, it destroys spoken word, and makes something new. The conversation is like a real one. I write something. You write something. And they were about the same thing, and had the same words, and I was looking at you, and you at me, and somehow we were talking. What could be more personal than freaking out, or arguing, or laughing? And if it is artificial, then I am artificial when I ask to hold hands, and when I apologize, and that's alright I guess.
Spoken word does not need to be saved, or to be told what to do. Criticism does not take you all the way there.
15 November 2007
first watch this. then think about everything you do and stand for. and it is all falling into pieces, but that is ok because you can go to the home page website and watch more. they are a group comprised of two interneters, Young-Hae Chang and Marc Vogue. "Language is the essence of the Internet, the real gateway to using the Web." So they try to use it to its fullest, employing music and words to produce Web Art. The text in Dakota, for example, is based on works by Ezra Pound (mostly his first Canto). The pieces do not need to be understood in a critical sense to be Understood.
12 November 2007
I like to imagine that his name comes from where he usually was when people were reifying the dance-idea of popping and locking into specific, formal categories. He was elsewhere, in his basement, in front of a mirror, having attended a single popping showcase or watched one breakdancing video. After that initial contact, David went down to his basement, forget almost everything about what he had just seen, and didn't come back up until he was the master of his own style. A similar story is told about Kid Koala, who is sort of analogous to David as a strange scratch DJ. These moves, though.... What can we even do with them? They are difficult to process, coming so obviously from Elsewhere.
19 September 2007
I sometimes say that it is a stupid acronym, as acronyms go. But I said that last Sunday and Bradley admonished me: "don't say that". He was serious and it changed the mood of the conversation. I thought about it some more, and realized that it is not stupid.
First of all, it does enlighten. The Inside is a totally foreign place for most 'citizens' of the United States. A little peak in, even in the form of inmates' writing, can do nothing but enlighten. To have the sense of the Inside, to attack the idea that we are Outside of prison because we are not criminals, is incredibly valuable.
Secondly, the incorrect spelling is not silly. Rather, it refuses to conform to the supposed right rules of the English language. Language is always a proposition, and there is a true side and a false side. Spelling the word truth like this: truth, is true. Spelling it like this: trewth, is false and wrong. Where does the dominance of 'convention' come from. Why not spell things wrong? Why not write? It is easy to say things that are true and obvious, it is much harder to say something untrue.
Finally, when you graf write T R E W T H across the cover of a publication, it looks cool.
04 September 2007
God. What is it about hipsters that we dislike? That makes us sneer? Where is the line drawn between us and them? And who is paying for all those bikes?
In a glorious and exciting trade Peter is helping me to build a fixed-gear, and I am teaching him to cook. We will trade cookbooks for bikebooks, and kitchen intuition for dérailleur adjustment technique. I rode Peter's bike for 24 hours from Sunday to Monday (while he trekked out of the state on mine). I have never been so exhilarated on a bicycle before. I felt like hot lightning. I was up near Pembroke campus and wanted to go to Prospect Park, which would have been about 20 seconds away, but I was thirsty, so I shot home for a glass of water, and then back to the park. Monday morning I was sore. The first time I'd been sore from biking that I can remember.
Having my own monster bike back is lugubrious. I can hardly move the pedals. I wallow in gears, brakes, and a seat the size of a couch. The result of all this is that I want a fixed-gear bike, and I want to ride it, and I want to be hot lightning again.
The problem, and the reason I'd like to write about all this, is that I want other people to see it. Eyes will move over my single gear, and take in my constant pedaling. Somehow it will be different. It will be cool. But where does this 'cool' feeling come from? Cursed while blessed I am. An inability to shake this awareness haunts me, blows past me as I ride.
Cool and hip are two distinct things. I am defining them now=> Cool is the feeling you get when you wear your favorite shirt, rock new kicks, bust moves, answer questions, say hi to a lot of people, sing, and even vote (I voted!). It is a totally imagined awareness of people noticing your cool item/talent/attribute/sticker. I repeat: all imagined. I feel cool when I wear my green jean cut-offs because I think they look good, for example. I feel gazes slide smoothly over my thighs, even though they do no such thing.
Hip is what everyone thinks can't be cool because it is too cool. Bikes, being in bands, 'finding' bands, big basketball shoes and tight pants, screenprinted shirts, etc. I see the hipsters on their painted fixtys and I feel certain that they are too hip. But, and I think this is the key, who is this everyone? It certainly doesn't actually refer to everyone. Hip hop culture does not celebrate or reject or even recognize this kind of hipness. In the words of a former resident at the Training School, "Man, why you dress all weird an' shit? I seen y'all, wearing tight pants and all." Its not good, bad, or ugly. Just weird.
I propose that the 'everyone' that we are dealing with here are the hipsters. The visible hipsters, the hated ones, are the ones most likely filled with the most insecurity. But we only hate them because of our own insecurities. Who would actually snicker over a bike if it didn't affect them on some insecure emotional level, whether they are snickering over a lack of gears or a surplus? "Fixed gear, that's so hip"/"Mountain bike, ohmigod. Hideous." Anyone culturally informed such that they can mock someone for being a hipster, is a hipster. Anyone who wants to play the game. To stick the nose in the air. To jump when cool kids don't jump. To not jump when cool kids do. We are all hipsters. Anyone who knows what I'm talking about, who is affected, who jokes, 'that's so hip'.
And its fine. That is the great thing. Who cares? The necessary part is that we recognize it, own up to it, and then release our little dislikes and insecurities. We are all here in relation, and we all jump sometimes, and the better we feel about the whole deal, the higher and further we go, right? If I am perfectly honest with my self, as cheesy as this gets, I find that almost every judgment I make on others reflects on something in myself, some doubt or criticism. Through our complex network of hate and insecurity we are all creating the hipster snob, for good or for bad, s/he is the product of everybody's insecurities, slammed into a single human, wearing tight pants and placed for some reason onto a bicycle with a single, fixed gear.
03 September 2007
Today we undertook one such Bike and Dance, and it was a success. Love for dance was demonstrated, heart and soul were touched (separately and together), and chains were shaken. Bike chains, and funky shaking (not shaking-things-up shaking). And best of all I wore a spandex sexy outfit. Basically a wrestlers uniform. Plus a Lucha Libre mask. I was El Peligro Blanco (White Danger). I brought out all the insecurities, disgust, and creeped outedness that a Biker could desire. Dancing on the bikes, off the bikes, and with the bikes - a little too close sometimes. We shook our shoulders and their hands. We scooted out and woke in dancing fervor. Nothing else to do now. But dance.
(I support Brown Student Radio)
(I support them with my spandex covered love)
31 August 2007
Lucas With the Lid Off by Lucas (12" single)
Chelsea Girl by Nico (LP)
I wish I hadn't just pulled the s off my keyboard to clean it. Now I have to push it really hard.
For a long, drawn out fall. I saw red leaves on a tree yesterday.
For a massive power amp, and then for backyard jams (good thing there is space and not too many trees).
That I've got enough time.
I hope the Gano St. bridge never falls and that they never blow it up.
To keep on keepin' on.
I hope they change the probation laws in RI.
For a bicycle trip, and a well-working bicycle.
That Sly Stone and Otis Redding had sung more songs than they did. That they had sung too many to even finish listening too.
29 August 2007
She repeats 'she can swallow knives' x2 in an effort to describe the gypsy woman in the song "Gypsy Woman", and according to the NY Times, she sings the song herself. Even when she is live. Hilary Duff, better known by her real name Lizzie Mcguire, is apparently back like she has never been before. The Times article referred to her fans as tweens and former tweens, but I will have them know that I was never a tween fan of Hilary.
It was the fall of junior year. The leaves were green, evergreen, for we were in
That wind spoke to many of us. Especially those who had already been listening to Metamorphosis. Those who hadn't done so seriously enough installed a copy in their car stereo, and put the lyrics on post-its all over the dash. Learning Hilary's lyrics seems to be a pretty big deal. The idea is that you never know what you are going to find.
I once found, and later immortalized on a T-shirt with puff paint, the sagacious epigram 'If the light is off/ then it isn't on.' This sounds silly, looks silly here, typed, and looks silly on a T-shirt in pink puff paint. But the thing is, when Hilary sings it, really belts it, and when she says "Oh ahn," dramatically and emotionally raising the pitch and the intensity of the final moment of the verse, it isn't silly at all. It kind of makes sense. You know why?
Because of you, the listener. Language related arts draw their creativity from their receivers. All that they need to do is make you receptive. For this reason song lyrics often look nonsensical when recited or written. But the musical beauty seems to imbue them with something. Really all it does is make you relax and open up to the infinity of possible meanings conveyed by the words. Similarly, poetry needs only to convince you of its success, its creativity, for you to indeed find it creativity. It is all about mood.
So when I laughed in the car after shutting off the stereo immediately following the famous light on/off parable, it was because I lost that connection with the music. When I put it on my shirt, thinking it would be cool because I was mocking the teenage star, it was out of the context of her beautiful voice and background 'music'. But when she was on stage and I could see all of her beauty and freshness, and hear the 'music' live, and see her lip sync or maybe even sing, I suddenly understood the meaning of those words. In their simplicity they contained something incredibly profound, far beyond language. In my dismay at having previously underestimated her power, I tore my shirt to pieces, ripping it from my back and heaving it onstage, where it came to rest near her feet, a tribute to her profundity.
27 August 2007
Larry lives with his health conscious roommate, his self conscious roommate, and his unconscious roommate
) For others a joy. For the rest it is one of the facts of life, just like hair in new places. Roommates seem to spring up all over the place, and sometimes you just don't know where they came from. Other roommates are always there, lurking away, but you can't really get a grip on what they are doing, or why they may or may not be doing it.
I worked on my house a lot today. All of my roommates are gone, and our wonderful (maravilloso) subletter leaves tomorrow. I dissembled (no, disassembled) the menacing futon/couch. Well, perhaps in taking it apart, I also disguised it. Disguised it, in fact, as a shoe rack. I then mounted a painting I bought in a moment of decoration-frenzy (it appears to be only halfway finished, now that I realize it is not bleak and metaphorical). The painting is mounted on part of the coffee table, which Coogan and I also dissembled into a 100 pound board, something to mount a painting on, and some trash. My roommates will read this, at least one I hope, and then not be impressed with my fab work on the casa.
Luckily I did all that, because I had guests, and we cooked Thai food and then finished off with a durian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian) ==> read it! Its worth it. You can buy them at the Thai market on Elmwood, a few blocks past the first cemetery and on the left. All agreed it was a full and complete culinary experience, and we able to speak endlessly of food without feeling gluttonous, repetitive, or uninteresting. Tonight was the first night of the Fall Semester. Three new people came over, and they came from separate points. My house was the star charted by the routes of their nights. Or it was the apple of their eyes's. Tomorrow a shrimp soup will be prepared by Dane. The best shrimp soup in the world.
25 August 2007
For dinner I prepared a quesadilla and beans, with salsa Taylor left me. That meal had the proper protein punch, but remained simple and not too thick. I believe that there is an uncharted realm of psychology where a single graph could show the qualities possessed by every meal. It would have hundreds of dimensions, but all would meet at a single axis. Thickness, spiciness, heat, oily nature, lightened, fresh, zing, umph, salt, height, area, toughness, volume etc. The list don't stop. Each graph is scaled proportionately to others, and all fits within a sphere, or a ball. The ball looks like a bouncy ball. If you bounce it, you don't know where it will head for. That is the power component. We must now calculate the effect of these multitudinous factors. The spring in your step. The medicine ball in your stomach.
24 August 2007
The album is called In the Nude. It features such tracks as: "Stop Lookin' at My Dick ", "I Got a Fuckin' Headache", and "Dre's Momma Needs a Haircut". He strikes me as the Wesley Willis of hip hop (with a less serious case of schizophrenia). The style varies across the tracks, which is very stimulating in this world of pre-packed hip hop. This mostly comes from the diversity of beats, which are perhaps more the result of an eclectic selection process than an ear for uniqueness. To be honest, I bought the album because the cover has Luke sitting in a hot tub in the middle of four naked girls. Plus he seems to have beef with Dr. Dre, but I don't know if Dre reciprocates.
I pointed out to Luke of Luke's Records that he shared his name with Luke the creator of "Pimple on my Dick", but he just ignored me and checked out the cover picture for a few seconds.
23 August 2007
That being said, I must note that I am free, and that entering prison for me is totally different than for most of the people in there. Even the word enter means a different thing. For me it implies an entrance followed by a quick exit. For the inmates it indicates finality, in the same way that one enters college, the workforce, or retirement. It is a movement on the scale of a life. Despite all of this, I wonder if repeat offenders ever feel the comfort of returning to an entirely predictable and simple place. I think that would be awful. "He's not cuttin' it on the outside, let's put him back into an absurdly simple and horrifically oppressing environment, maybe then he'll learn."
The real excitement, though, was the prospect of seeing J. I knew that I could count on him to be participating in the meditation workshops. "Bring in anything and I'll be there," he once told me. He isn't Jewish, but attends services just 'to see what other people have got going on'. You can always learn something. Always. I was right, and J was there, along with most of the white men in the facility (I hyperbolize, but really...). He told me he'd thought of me because he performed a spoken word piece at a group therapy session. I didn't tell him that I thought of him, and many of the other guys I've gotten to know, very often. I see us in a strange, illusionary mirroring relationship. Each inmate has a very clear, very necessary, and very distant image of the outside. I, conversely, have a very clear image of the inside, and I often think of the spaces we have created in the classrooms of the Education Wing. (Foucault argued that the 'outside' can only constitute itself with the help of the 'inside' - the self with the help of the other). The space produced by the creative workshops seems to be somewhere in between these two theoretical places. Maybe it lies in between the lofty, arcing imagination of the inmate, his toss landing always-short of 'real' life on the outside, and the way we throw ourselves inside, with romanticized pictures of 'prison'. In between those two humanly erring trajectories is something pretty good, I think.
J has been mostly writing song lyrics recently, but I'm pretty sure he can do anything. He is one of the most fundamentally creative people I have ever met. "Doing good," he said, "as good as you can be in here, you know." I really have absolutely no idea, but I also felt full of good, and said so. Mostly because I was seeing a friend I hadn't spoken with in a while.
20 August 2007
I much prefer a thick, custard work. A monument, standing over nothing just like the rest of us, but monumental in its lack of meaning. I read the first 30 pages of Anti-Oedipus this summer and instead of digging deep to catch every thought and point and idea, I just glazed over a little bit and took it at face value. Machines are machines. Desire is desire. All the parts grew into a gigantic, ridiculous, and convoluted picture. I could not see this picture, but it was there, inside my head. A subconscious understanding that benefits me in very few ways, but pleases me when it occasionally shows it's nose.
What helps is what Jessica once told me. "They think this is the most important thing in the world, because it is real, it is the most real you can get." Which is why my paper on Reading and Writing. And Speaking was actually about those three things, about every time we do them. Similarly, the desire machines are real, they grow out and in you. The words snuggle onto the surface of the skin and become parts of the body. Now we have machines, like hairs, on our outsides. Such important work.
My work is less important. I read books by PhD's with meditation experience, or meditators with PhD experience. Ends up being quite similar. Boring academics. Jessica also told me that most academics is (are) boring. But the work of the therapist is important, that is what bugs me. Bugs the heck out of me. If therapy is such an important thing, why are the soft thinkers involved with it so uninspiring? The answer, I believe, is that therapy is not about thinking, and as Jessica also says, don't mix your interests. Jonathan, don't study hip hop in a critical thinking setting. Therapy is about being and being with and healing, all of which are not intellectual but intuitive (see Bergson, The Creative Mind). I often ask myself which goes higher. Bergson claims that the two - intellect and intuition - are exactly equal, or at least that their perfect realizations would be. I have no such strong conviction. At least I got to read that book, and hopefully will slide it in to an otherwise confused course.
19 August 2007
You should too.
18 August 2007
The blog is about a lot of things, and even about itself sometimes. It is new. No one reads it yet. No one at all. I'm gonna label this baby metablog, with props to yalabalagan, one of my soon to be blog friends. And music, right?
And seasons, friends today have been saying that winter is rolling its blankets out to watch fall coming, but I don't know. Today was windy and unfulfilling, but that don't mean summer's ending. I am squeezing it for every drop of low-hung cloud, and every spot of awfully lovely Providence light. So this is the beginning of the end of summer. The last two weeks. The hands will start waving and the silly conversations start. But as we all know, there will be a wider pool in which to dip our proverbial cups of love. Fill up and toast, everyone.
- ▼ 2007 (17)