Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ojos derrotados.


Dear Shipwrecked,

A poem today, by Pablo Neruda.  Aquí en inglés.

LXVIII                                                             (Mascarón de Proa)

La niña de madera no llegó caminando:
allí de pronto estuvo sentada en los ladrillos,
viejas flores del mar cubrían su cabeza,
su mirada tenia tristeza de raíces.

Allí quedó mirando nuestras vidas abiertas,
el ir y ser y andar y volver por la tierra,
el día destiñendo sus pétalos graduales.
Vigilaba sin vernos la niña de madera.

La niña coronada por las antiguas olas,
allí miraba con sus ojos derrotados:
sabia que vivemos en una red remota

de tiempo y aqua y ollas y sonidos y Lluvia,
sin saber si existimos o si somos su sueño.
Está de la historia de la muchacha de madera.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Thought by thought.

Dear Radio Dodo Listener,

Your song for today is a really full pail; a stack of a song, that tells it all for everyone.  Steer Your Way.

There haven't been any songs here from this beautiful, beautiful final album from Brother Leonard, because I haven't yet wanted to talk to you about this album.  The day after he died I found myself in conversation with other mourners and I could not really accept their thoughts.  I didn't even want their thoughts.  I only wanted my thoughts, my place of private grief with a single, high window, and maybe a candle for when the sun went down.  I wanted my cot there, my plain table, a tiny chair, and blank paper and a good fountain pen.  What did I want to write there?  Something I still cannot write: all the things I want to write; the love, and the gratitude, and the deep, are always beyond my reach.  The only elegy I can write is hash and stale borrowings.  It's like that though, even for the great ones, I think.

I have listened to the album enough to have changed my mind four times on which is the best cut, and I am ready to tell you that this is it.  No further listenings will yield a different choice.  It's this one, but oh! so many of them are terrific.  You want it darker?  Listen to the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

So good!

Dear Artists, Chefs, and Saints,

Oh!  This is a lovely thing you will want to read right away.  I am working today on a lecture that I will give in a few months, collecting images that I hope will enlighten and expand the attendees minds and spirits.

Of course, I will show a few images of my own work, which, in review, looks very feeble and dubious.  Can I stand behind this big pink painting and pretend I know what I am doing?  What I am talking about?  No, of course I cannot.  I must fake it, or pull back the curtain enough to admit it is absurd to paint, and even slightly more absurd to talk about painting.  Some of them will not be ready for that, so maybe I can do it very cleverly, so that only the prepared ones will notice?  The trouble lies in the fact that I am certain the absurd is worthwhile; in fact, the more absurd, the more truthful it is likely to be, and so then, the more vulnerable and fragile and again, worthwhile.

Here, I will tell all; the Dodo is that kind of a thing; it's yelling out my worst fears and fantasies into an empty canyon without echo.  Stay tuned for the images in the days to come.

Friday, August 9, 2019

park here

Dear Mundane,

I love the ordinary exalted and these parking spaces filled with phrases chosen by a middle school in Salinas is the bee's knees!  How quickly can you get something like this done in your area?  I am going to ask my pals if they'd join me in fixing up some parking spaces- it can be our Project for the Year.


Monday, August 5, 2019

ramp rolling



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Your Role for Today

Dear Sir,

I find myself in a jam.  Miss Otis regrets.  I am terribly sad and afraid that I do not want to attend your invitation.  I do not want to wear the mask.  I do not want to shoulder the conversation.  I do not want to mentor.  Or to be witty for you, like the trained seals barking for their fishes.  Yes, Miss Otis regrets.

Try this on for size:  You are Joe Smith.  You bring your really excellent Julia Child's Jello mold in the elaborate shape of a squirrel holding a nut to the Big Party.  People love it, and they ask you to bring it again.  And again.  And it goes on for years, and it is now called Joe's Jello by everyone who knows you, and no one else even dares to bring a molded item of any kind, because it will never be as good as Joe's.  And even more time passes, and then Joe is gone, and his Jello lives on in that people make the recipe, and they meet and they say "it's just not as good as Joe's,' and "Joe always brought his Jello, how I miss him!' and "Can you give me Joe's recipe for Jello?"  This is all good and a very nice memory of Joe, dead and gone.  It's the kind of thing you might hope to elicit.  Which is maybe why you bring a pineapple upside down cake and hope, in your secret heart, that you will become Known For It.

Let's consider another aspic aspect:  Joe tires of making the damned Jello on the 8th time, but he doesn't want to disappoint, and he enjoys the notoriety.  He is slightly trapped by the success of his Jello.  He would like to try, just once, a Dobos Torte.  In fact, maybe he did, once, and all anyone could say was "what?  You didn't make your Jello??"  So, yes, he is quite trapped in the role of the One Who Makes Jello for The Party.*

Stay with me now, Sir, because I know you are thinking of turning on an interesting podcast made by hipsters in NYC about the ways in which we assume different identities all the time, everyday.  Stay with me, because I am going to nudge you, or to permit you, to abandon some of these roles.  We are not only the Jello we bring, we humans.  We are quite complicated beings with many, many interests, goals, and fantasies. 

But, you say, that's not right- making Jello is not role-playing!  It's making Jello.  Well, be that as it may, bringing Jello has become a role for Joe, and he might be tired of it.  Also, we are playing roles all the time.  Right now, I am playing the role of a writer of this letter to you, and you may or may not be playing the role of reader.  If the idea of a role is too much for you, consider it a mode of being.  You might be in the receiving mode when you read this and you might not.

Let me offer further example:  You go to the post office to return the vegetable spiralizer you got on the internet, because you realized, while watching a very old episode of Dr. Who (wherein the Doctor meets a computer that he gave his mind to upon its birth as a sentient new being, and it has been flailing along for years with this split personality, wreaking havoc on everyone around it), you realized, that you might be entering a trap.  You might end up being the one that everyone goes to for spiralized vegetables, and you decided, deep in the clarity of the night, that you did not want this role after all.  So, you are at the post office with the box to return this potential role.  You get in line and now you play the role of the person who is slightly annoyed at having to wait, but you don't take it out on the poor beleaguered postal worker, although, you do think to yourself "I am not paid to be on this side of the counter, and you, Postal Employee, however much you may hate your job, are being paid to do it."  And the other people playing the same role remark to you on how long the line is and how inconvenient it is and you agree, in your role as Postal Customer.  You might say now, to me, Sir, that that is that, and how else could one possibly behave waiting in line at the post office? 

How happy I am that you asked!  You could take the time while you wait in line, to compose a manifesto for avoiding impulse purchases online.  Which you could put to music and maybe even upload a video of you and Joe performing it to YouTube.  Or you could say, to the person who says this is a mighty long line and slow, too, that you enjoy lines like this, because of the way it requires you to examine the floor tiles to avoid making eye contact with people who are playing the role of slightly annoyed at waiting in line at the post office.  Because, you might explain to them, you don't really want to get stuck in the same role every time you come to the post office.

Well, I know your time is precious, Sir, so I guess I will say just once more:  Miss Otis regrets.

*  Joe's crisis deepens:  If he isn't The One Who Brings the Jello, just who is he?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Acheronian Song of the Day

Dear Billy Joe,

Here is the song of today.  My DJ just played it for me.  In days past, I would have changed the station when this maudlin rot would come on the radio.  I guess I have gone soft.  One thing that has changed since those days is that Lucinda Williams kills this song.  Kills it.  She makes a true, operatic lament out of it, and it is great.

Try Bobby Gentry, too, for comparison.  Ms. Gentry would have sung it like Ms. Williams if she could have, I am certain.

The thing I love about this song is the way the dialogue tells the story.  Dialogue isn't the usual way a ballad is told.  I love the way that we know that Pa is a real insensitive piece of work, and that Ma is suggesting, hinting, that our storyteller ought to spend more time around that nice, young, eligible, tasty, and morally incontrovertible Brother Taylor.   But, what, exactly, do you suppose this bereft young woman and Billy Joe threw off of theTallahatchie Bridge?