WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Sunday, July 31, 2005

"And so the Story Begins..." - The Siren from "Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath."

Stepping out. Our great little adventure begins. Later today, we will be boarding a plane, and if all goes well, we should be breakfasting in Dublin tomorrow morning. Yesterday, we started packing bags, made decisions on what's essential and what's not... Dylan's "Live in 1966," Neil Young's "Greendale," the Donnie Darko soundtrack, Sigur Ros (the white one), The Who "Live at Leeds,"...essential... everything else...well the question is: "will it fit?"

Plus, lots of t-shirts, underwear, socks, and sweaters. We're figuring it's gonna be cooler "over the pond." And I've got lots of equipment to lug: my acoustic guitar (the Telepath's "Unplugged!"), my video camera (we're filming everything!), a DVD projector (essential to the play!), and a brand-new digital camera (I'm hoping to capture the magic!).

I'm bringing a couple of books: "Like the Night" (Bob Dylan and the road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall) by C.P. Lee - (more Dylanology) and "The Phenomenology of the Social World," by Alfred Schutz (I'm hoping this will help me to find a "sleep state," on the plane).

I intend to blog from the road (we'll see). The world beckons...we're ready to embrace it, and give it a deep soul kiss! It all has the feel of "destiny." I wonder what's in store for us over there? As Paul Bowles might say, "Let it come down!"

Saturday, July 30, 2005

These Genes Die with ME!

The Lovely Carla and I went to a movie last night, we watched little Emperor Penguins marching across a desolate landscape of snow and ice, (seventy miles of marching!), to their breeding grounds to enact an elaborate ritual of sacrifice, endurance and reproduction. Wow, I'm kind of glad I'm not an Emperor Penguin. They certainly know their place in the universe, they are strange and remarkable creatures, their little communal society is an incredible testament to cooperation, family values and survival; but if I were a penguin, (aren't there any renegade, rebel penguins - hanging out at CBGB's, chomping on smoked salmon?) I'd be looking for a way out of the whole thing. Let me swim in cool waters, let me live on fresh squid and sushi, let me "die in my footsteps." I guess I'd be opting out of the whole "reproduction cycle," but really, isn't one little "jimmydumps/sunnyjimmy" enough for this little ball of confusion!

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Wild Blue

We are resiliant creatures. One day down for the count, the next, up with the clouds. It helps to always be "on to the next thing." Make "big plans," and it all starts to seem like destiny. That is how our Edinburgh trip is shaping up. The wheels are in motion, the thought, the dream, begins to materialize, and your life seems to take on a genuine forward thrust, with a trajectory, a definite purpose; even if it basically means just paying attention to the next necessary task.

The "big step" in the wild blue unknown, consists of little incremental movements on the path. It is a "pilgrim's progress," pointing to questions and answers that you didn't even know existed. We are discovering things about the world and ourselves and these little "discoveries," are the nuggets of gold, the gemstones that can transform a life, a world. Of course, we can't hold onto anything. It all passes through us, as we pass through it...this is the strange, contradictory experience of our existence.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lost in the Maze

I went into a jimmydumps hell-bound tailspin. Still reeling from an earlier contretempts. It's amazing what a few well-placed words can do, especially, if like me, you live with the "reality," the "magic," and "power," of words. What we say, creates its own reality, so we must be careful how we use the words we use. I'm also sort of dealing with a profound feeling of "helplessness," where I'd like to be able save those closest to me from suffering and pain, and the impossibility of doing any "saving,", comes back at me full force. It's realizing the limits of being human that sort of becomes oppressive. The worst of it, is the supposed "good intentions," that lead to "great misunderstandings," and there's no way to explain yourself out of the maze. So, there's silence...even that can be "misunderstood," but sometimes it's the only thing we have left.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Question

Each of us are on a private journey. The world happens, we perceive what we conceive, everything is up to us. How we choose to deal with what happens, defines us. No one can experience another's pain, we all experience pain. How we act in a crisis is a test of who we are, what we believe, how we think. There is a strength, a power in this circumstance. Is this just a lie of the mind, a strategy, a discipline, or an essential tool, like a leg, an arm? Each of us gets to answer this question for ourselves.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Masquerade

This question came to me, in the aftermath of a brief, disturbing, sort of hysterical, conversation; me being the straight man, to someone else's wildly-emotional, overwrought barrage of invective...are we rational creatures in a rational world, or irrational creatures in a rational world, or rational creatures in an irrational world, or, (and maybe this is closest to the mark) irrational creatures in an irrational world? And if we go with the theme of irrationality, doesn't it explain an awful lot of the madness gripping our planet?

It kind of leaves us at sea, unsure, unsettled, like reading one of those "post-modern" novels where the narrator turns out to be completely, profoundly "unreliable." Politicos and Economists have to grapple with "irrational actors," all the time, people who vote or consume against their own interests. Some of us strap on bombs in expectation of some higher reward, some of us lash out at those who show us love and sympathy, some of us go out of our way to hurt and sabotage ourselves.

Keith Johnstone once pointed out that "rationality is just another mask." It's a mask we are free to wear or take off at any time. We can "reason," the world, we can "feel" the world, we can create and destroy a world with a blink of an eye. What is beneath the mask: fear, hate, sorrow, pain? All the things that make us human. We must have compassion for the one who is mad, (they are a very much like us), even if that madness destroys everything in it's path.

Monday, July 25, 2005

What's the Number?

Kind of in a void, or a cul de sac this morning. Feels like a space "after," and "before," something, if you know what I mean. Not really anticipating, or forecasting, or expecting; just awake, attentive. The world seems to be offering many different storylines including: a planet in flames, consumed with pain, suffering, suicide bombs going off, OR, everything is static, normal, just another long hot summer day - sun up to sun down. Both stories in fact seem operative. I'm alive, in my own conscious state (my own Private Idaho?), wondering what's with all the needing, wanting, grasping? Is there a secret number that accounts for it all?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"It's all Show Biz." - J. Lennon

What a strange and extraordinary phenomenon: to participate with a small group of performers, to create a validating, and creative space, to be able to explore a full range of human expression within a ramshackle collective, to push beyond the ordinary boundaries of a group dynamic, to be alive/aware moment by moment, to listen and draw energy from a small, tight group of people dedicated and willing to give it all to a strange and wacky piece of theater. To push it all beyond where you thought it was possible to go, to continue to be amazed and inspired by the unbounded energy of those around you. To experience a deep and consuming satisfaction from working hard, challenging yourself, finding energy and passion in the process and in each discrete moment. To be completely, inexplicably, extraordinarily alive...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Free Is Good

Black Forest put on a free show last night, (the show that will not die: Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath) and there was something pure and idealistic about it all. How anti-capitalist, how out of step; it was all "home made," and "down home." It's something like being part of a funky carnival, or a geeky circus, and the show was presented to a handful of guests as some kind of strange, and teetering gift. It was all quite satisfying. I'm thinking we are going to "peak," at the right time, that our little, wacky show is the right piece, at the right moment for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We're going to do another free performance again tonight. Everything else (all the rolling and tumbling of my existence) seems to fall into the background. As Roy Scheider, playing Bob Fosse, in "All that Jazz," would put it..."It's showtime, folks!"

Friday, July 22, 2005

"No Direction Home..." B. Dylan

I'm on to another book about Bob Dylan, this one by Greil Marcus, about Dylan's strange and extraordinary song, "Like a Rolling Stone." Of course, it's about more than that, Marcus examines Dylan in the pop cultural stream of America. It's kind of a musical history of this big, confounding land.

As I'm reading the book it occurs to me that I have "absorbed," Dylan, the myth, the man, to such an extent, I am so deeply saturated with his story, his songs, my life has been so wrapped up and enriched by his journey, his example, my own working methods, my view of my own work, my music, my plays have been steeped in Dylanology.

Also, this never-ending quest to be always onto the next thing, to not succumb to other's definitions, to resist being placed in a "box," to refuse simple explanations, to try to let the work speak for itself, to not be "pinned down," to always challenge and confound an audience, is deeply embedded in my own being.

I don't know the man. He is a mystery, a treasure, a quirky, flawed human being, who has an uncanny ability to absorb the world, and to put words and music together in a jagged, ragged, configuration. He opens doors and windows, in a world that needs the "openess, the space, the light..."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"Heaven is in Your Mind." - S. Winwood

So it's hot, and we are rehearsing our little play in a dark and dusty old gallery, and the sweat is pouring off us, and our costumes are sticky, and the heat is kind of radiating out of the cast and crew, and the rehearsal is rough, we're sloppy, blowing lines, cracks are appearing everywhere, and this delicate little monster of a play is teetering, and the technical cues are "glitchy," and it's all sounding so foreign, and I'm thinking, "did I really write this thing?" and of course, this is the piece we're taking to Edinburgh, and it feels like we're starting from ground zero, and there's a little girl, (a fourth grader, a niece of one of the cast members) sitting in the front row, watching it all, and at the end, the Lovely Carla brings her into the dressing room, and the little girl, so beautiful, young, radiant, looks up at me and tells me what the play is about: "It's about a brain that gets confused." And she smiles and I smile and I say "you're right." And I think, "that should be my epitaph," and when I'm dead and gone, it should be written down somewhere, maybe on a rock, or a tree, or written in the sand, or the wind..."Sunny Jimmy - yes, he was a brain that became confused."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"The Salt of the Earth." - Jagger & Richards

There's something to be said for minimalism. I'm thinking of artists like Sol Le Witt, his use of line and color, and Robert Irwin, his use of light and space. And also, Keith Richards (the real Pirate of the Carribean). The Cadaverous Keith is a true rock and roll master, some of his riffs and licks are indelibly etched in rock and roll history. Listen to his guitar on "Beggars Banquet," "Let it Bleed," "Sticky Fingers," and "Exile on Main Street." Some of the best rock and roll guitar music you will ever hear.

Keith has played with some other fine musicians, including guitarists like Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ron Wood. In many ways, Mick Taylor, who played for a short stint with the Stones was the best pure guitarist of the bunch. I came across this quote from Keith about Mick Taylor, and I think it says alot about rock and roll, art, and yes, even life:

"The thing is with a musician as fluid as Mick (Taylor) it's hard to keep their interest. They get bored - especially in such a restricted and limited music as rock and roll. But for me, that's the whole facination with rock and roll and the blues - the MONOTONY of it, the limitations of it, and seeing how far you can take those restrictions and come up with something new."

And isn't this our daily task too? To push against the limitations, the monotony, to find something new, to play these human notes and chords on our humble instruments, to make a music uniquely our own, to find a joyful noise that has never been heard before, and to let it RING OUT!?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Cheerful Blockhead

Ian Dury (now gone) and the BlockHeads had a hit in the 80's (or was it the late 70's) called, "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part I." Don't really remember the reasons, so I'll make up a few of my own.

The CHEERFUL BLOCKHEAD LIST:
1. The Universe is expanding.
2. We are descended from monkeys.
3. Progress, salvation, free will are all illusory.
4. We came from darkness, we are heading to darkness (the classic dust to dust).
5. Adults are essentially damaged children.
6. Rust never sleeps.
7. You're never gonna get that shetland pony.
8. Something is going to kill each and every one of us.

So, I'm sitting here, I recheck the list, I speak the words out loud, I take them into my consciousness, and STILL a feeling of good cheer comes over me this morning. Happiness settles on my shoulder like a little bird, daring me to be "bummed out." Nope, not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent, I am inexplicably full of cheer, and that Grateful Dead song plays on my internal record machine: "Lately it occurs to me, what a long strange trip it's been." Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Complexity

I was reading a little piece in the NY Times about an opera based on the life of Walter Benjamin, a "secular messiah." There's a discussion about "difficult music," about a "difficult subject," etc. Then there's this: "Yet more seems to be at stake than keeping an audience challenged...Theodor Adorno defended difficult music as having its own social value precisely because it teaches us how to withhold understanding and therefore helps us to resist the allure of false clarity in the world beyond the concert hall. Complexity in other words, is a worthy ideal in art because reality is even more complex and dissonant than the thorniest work of modernism, even if politicians and the commercial culture reassure us that everything is simple, clear and harmonius." This seems to me to be exactly right. I am a student of the "school of clarity," but all the lessons come from a deep and humbling complexity. The motto here: "Complexity will set you free!"

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Not a Subject, A Verb

No time to think or blog this morning. I stop here anyway, as part of my morning ritual. This has become a record of my days, notes about what's on my mind. This morning my head is clear, but the world is buzzing, I'm running to keep up. We have a long, important rehearsal today. The show we are taking to Edinburgh is coing into form. Everything we do now, will help us when we land in a foreign land, find ourselves in a foreign space. I'm caught up in the "doing," of my life, or as my Invision buddies might put it: I am Sunny Jimmying!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

"We see the world as we are..." - B. Dylan

Onto the next thing...First there's PlameGate, which I'm following like one of those very complex detective stories: there's plenty of information and misinformation and speculation, and a sneaking suspicion that there is a major scandal brewing that implicates the mighty and powerful, and a cathartic fall from grace looks to be one of the developing subplots, and maybe we do live in vacuous and corrupt times, but hey, hasn't it always been the case? And one thing good about our partisan politics, is once the door swings open, the beasts and brutes have no qualms about feasting on the sick and wounded. "The system," as bloated and creaky and corrupt as it is, still seems to have an aspect of "self-cleansing."

My light summer reading, which is "blowing my mind," and opening my eyes: "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," by Thomas Kuhn. I got onto this little tome, via, Robert Irwin, via, my interest in Phenomenology. It's all about "Paradigms," and "Paradigm Shifts," and how we basically model the universe, and see what we conceive to see. And how sometimes, someone comes along, and "blows the picture," and suddenly, everything changes...This is cool and powerful stuff, and it's where hope and trascendance come from. The world may be a mystery, but we are in a collaboration with it. Sometimes it sings, sometimes it dances, and it is always, always MOVING!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Mystic

I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm a mystic; put me in the camp with Ludwig Wittgenstein (without the existential angst), I am paraphrasing: what we can speak about, we can speak clearly. We cannot speak of the most important things...

Ultimately, the imcomprehensibleness of the world, leaves me speechless. We can label things "good," or "bad," we can make judgements of the world, but our judgements, what we think of the world is, if not irrelevant, at least, secondary, a sideshow to the main event, which William James called, "a blooming, buzzing, confusion."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." - K. Kristofferson

Jean Renoir: "Everyone has their reasons." Yes, this makes for a very complex world, don't you think? We are all left basically to our own devices, we all start from different places, different times, we're all on a private journey to "who knows where?" We must "reason" the world into some kind of coherency, or then again, maybe not. Some of us put our faith in religion, some in the scientific method, some in random happenstance, some in "who knows what?" We plug into the culture, the system, in order to find a place, a purpose; we look for meaning in the grains of sand on the beach. What do all those little grains add up to? "Hmmm, I'll get back to you on that!" We embrace the world. We reject the world. We simply exist in the world. We fight to survive, to be heard, to be forgotten, or maybe we don't fight at all, just let it come down. We live in a realm beyond good and evil, we choose to see what we want to see, to live the way we want to live. We make the choice and then try to figure out how we can pass the bill to someone else, or we make the choice, and pay up with a sunny smile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"And the Little Birdies sing, Cheep, Cheep."

Everything is different this morning. The Lovely Carla is in the Big Apple, and I'm here with the little birdies. The birdies are not happy and they're telling me so by chirping up a storm, I guess they're telling me that I'm not their preferred caretaker, and everything's out of whack, and they are NOT AMUSED. I can only do what I do. My energy, my tempo, my demeanor, is a little askew, and well, that's just the way it is...this morning, I'm an "actualist," what happens is what actually happens, and what happens today is Sunny Jimmy rules the roost, and since I can't make head nor tails (I'm no Dr. Doolittle), out of what those little chirps and squeeks actually mean, I'm gonna just do what I do and these little creatures are gonna have to play along.

I put them in the kitchen, the sun room, back to their home in the bedroom, nothing works. I give them brocolli, lettuce, their favorite multi-grain bread, and still, they are not impressed. They are unhappy with the world. I'm not the Lovely C. and there's nothing I can do about it. No muffins, no pop tarts, I just brew up my Organic French Roast, turn up the music a little louder and try to reduce the birdies chirps to background noise, little high-pitched, dissonant backup vocals, kind like the Pips to my Gladys Night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"The School of Scandal." - R. Sheridan

I am becoming convinced that BushCo.'s admininstration is starting to unravel. It reminds me of the early days of the Watergate scandal. I was avidly following the Woodward/Bernstein story, convinced that Nixon was a criminal, and it would only be a matter of time before he was unmasked. When it actually happened, (Hunter S. Thompson had been right all along!), I was absolutely astonished.

There are so many lies floating around, and it all concerns BushCo.'s disinformation campaign leading up to the invasion of Iraq. This Karl Rove/Valerie Plame dirty trick (so reminiscent of Nixon), where a CIA agent was outed because her husband, Joe Wilson told THE TRUTH about Iraq's intention to buy yellowcake from Niger is only the tip of the iceberg. It seems that this story's Deep Throat is someone in the Blair adminstration - please see the Downing Street Memo.

There is a steady stream of information coming from England: now there's a plan afoot to draw down troops before the next U.S. election. Everything BushCo. says about Iraq is false. The reality is catching up to them. As the bodies pile up, as it becomes clear that the war was a diversion and a serious mistake, the lies told before the war become more and more relevant. I don't think these guys are smart enough to keep all their lies straight. The house of cards will start to crumble. The press will finally wake up (it's a story!), and little Bush will be (at least) a badly crippled LAME DUCK. Maybe there's hope for the Empire after all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"El Cid." - Wasn't that Charles Heston?

Yesterday - hmmm...now that was a unique experience...

Dinner (after a day-long rehearsal at Peter Jones) at El Cid (a clean, well-ligthed place - Hemingway would have approved) in Logan Square: I had a combo plate, (I wanted a quick tour of Mexican cuisine) a taco, an enchilada, a quesedilla, beans and rice, guacamole, tortilla chips (it was all quite good, authentic, home cooking - Mexican food is just the ticket on hot day - did anyone say "siesta?!"). The Lovely Carla and I "broke tacos," with the Red-haired Welshman and his beautiful bride. We were all ravenously hungry, we ate with enthusiasm and had a great rambling conversation about everything under the sun.

Then it was off to the old Congress Theater, a cavernous place, (2500 seats) in the heart of one of those great little Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago; the theater, funky and majestic, a beat up edifice with a dramatic, red-carpeted stairway (a little worse for wear), enormous chandeliers (hovering like impossible spaceships), a strangely-beautiful artifact from another time and place. The perfect place for the Windy City Rollers - an all-girl, roller derby league.

By the time we took our seats, the carnage was in full swing. Two teams, skating in little circles on a flat track, bodies slamming into each other and to the floor, the crowd cheering at the exuberant madness and mayhem of it all. There's something brutal, primal, and sort of electrifying about the whole spectacle. It all seemed so "Mad Max," so "Beyond the Thunderdome," so post-post-apocalyptic. It's like the nuclear war that was to devastate our civilization had already come and gone, but someone forgot to tell us.

Afterwards, remarkably, inexplicably, the women were all smiles, you could see a satisfaction, a pride, a cool cameraderie, which had blossomed in the hearts and heads of all the participants. They survived to skate another day, to take on another challenge, another opponent. We were just the spectators, there to witness and to marvel. We walked out of that sad, old theater, shaking our heads at the wonder of it all. It certainly seemed like a beginning and an ending of something.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Modulation, Delay, Reverb

Yesterday, I submerged into a world of my own making. I spent the day at Peter Jones Studio, working with a colleague, hanging a DVD projector for our show, Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath. This was not an easy task. It took a lot of "step by step" patience, not one of my strong suits. We worked for a few hours, took a break for lunch, and finished up in the late afternoon. Then, I was on my own. I set up my guitar and amp and played for a few hours. I came up with a new chord progression, and a shimmering new sound, I played this new "configuration," for hours. To my ears, it was mesmerizing. I lost all sense of time and place, I was lost in the moment of a "new thing." I found a place of "creativity;" a private circle, all-consuming, so simple, all alone, the chords, the sounds washing over me, I worked the strings on my guitar until my fingers ached. I think there is a chord, a sound, a word, that can change us forever. I found myself, in the funhouse, lost in the search.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wake Up, Buttercup!

Me thinks the human heart breaks a million ways. Little tiny breaks, a million little cuts, maybe every time we hear the news (we can't stop up our ears, our eyes), whatever the news happens to be. And then, do we 'harden our hearts' just to carry on? We carry on, diminshed, or ennobled, or...what? There are a million ways to live, a million ways to die, probably, most assuredly, more. Each of us can step out at any time. Plucked by the hand of fate. And what be the cause? Natural causes? Unnnatural causes? Supernatural causes? Or just BECAUSE?

If we are awake, and, I think it's our duty to be awake at all times, it all comes in. We must let it. What we let in, can hurt us, can harden us, can change us in ways we may not want to change. How do we live and experience, and stay open to life and experiences? How can we not? Someone once said we are perfect beings in a perfect world. Maybe imperfect beings in an imperfect world. If you think about it, it's the same damn thing. We're here, now, and what are we gonna do with this strange and special gift?

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Calling

As the news wafted in from London yesterday, a tremendous, "world-weariness," overcame me. My first thought was for the people; the suffering, the deaths. These attacks are directed at free, urban-dwellers, rush-hour commuters, those who use public transportation, innocent bystanders; we know this can happen anywhere, anytime. I feel a solidarity with those who suffer and I am amazed and appalled at how much pain, suffering and death human beings are willing to wreak upon each other.

My second thought, which may betray my cynicism, my disgust with our leaders ("don't follow leaders, watch for parking meters..."), how will BushCo. use this for political advantage? It is so clear that our "war on terrorism," is off target. It is so clear that those in power do not have the equipment, (the temperment, the intelligence, the understanding) to really deal with the reality-based community of the world. Our corrosive political culture seems to be a part of the problem, not part of the solution.

We must not lose sight of the light, even in the depths of darkness...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"Shine On Your Crazy Diamond." - P. Floyd

Yesterday, I entered into one of those perfect moments of "awe," beyond time. It was in the evening, I was on the back porch, the sun was starting it's descent in the west, the light was perfect, transcendant, Neil Young's album, "Zuma," ("he came dancing across the water, with his galleons and guns...") was on the player, and I was finishing up Nick Tosches book, "The King of the Jews," (not so much a biography of Arnold Rothstein, as a meditation on the mysterious, unknowable nature of man.) Nick, steps out from behind the curtain, and he tells the reader that a good friend of his, a writer (I'm guessing Hubert Selby Jr.) has just died, and Nick goes off on a tangent that has little to do with Arnold Rothstein, but much to do with why I think this guy is such a great writer.

From Nick: "I'm sure that it is the death of my friend that has brought me to pause here...But something else also occurred to me. It occurred to me that everything I knew and loved seems to be drifting away: a whole way of living, loving and being. It occurred to me that anyone who wastes one single breath is a fool. Life is all that we have, and we must live it, for real: like leopards, like beautiful creatures, like stars that pass through the nighttime sky over the wildest, darkest, deepest sea."

And then this: "Why am I writing this, and why are you reading it? What are we doing here? We should get the fuck out of here and live. By the time these words have passed to you, I will be found either at Circa Tabac on Watts Street or the Club de l'Aviation on the avenue des Champs-Elysee. Meet me there, good scout. You're buying."

For a brief moment, I think - I will find him, I will sit down and buy this man a drink and I will thank him for all that he has given me. I will thank him for keeping the flame alive, for opening me up to the mystery of a man, a life; for keeping the flame burning, madly, brightly.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"Sun and Steel." - Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima, the Japanese writer, is on my mind this morning. Yukio wrote about "the morning face," the first face you show the world when you awake in the cold light of dawn. Yukio, was a vain man, (as a young child he was asthmatic, later he became a body-builder) he committed seppuka, ritual suicide, as a political act (he wanted the Japanese to return to their military glory in the days of the Emperor), in the 1970's, and as a preemptive strike against growing old (he died at 45). Yukio was considered one of Japan's greatest novelists. He was an outsider, a homosexual, a unique and daring man, who ultimately wanted to be accepted by society, he was the rebel who wanted to "fit in."

I was inspired by him, I was intruiged and repelled, by his journey, I read all of the novels, essays and plays written by him that I could get my hands on. I thought his work was extraordinary and disturbing, I was facinated by his obsession with the "cult of the sun," and dedication to martial arts. I also realized I was nothing like this man, my political views, my take on life, the military, society, discipline, etc. were so different. I did not "fit in," and early on, I decided that I did not want to "fit in." I realized that in order to be happy, I needed to emphasize and hone my "uniqueness."

Yukio Mishima showed me another way to live - through his writing, through his life. He helped me define what I "was not." I'm sure there was much "lost in translation." Not once did I detect a "sense of humour," in any of his actions or writings. I look in the mirror this morning and my morning face seems a little ragged and frayed, but there's a trace of a smile. I can see lines that weren't there before; a record of days, years, decades, looking back at me, and I think, "I wonder what's gonna happen next?" Yukio Mishima wanted to impose his vision on the world, I'm happy to see what the world will bring to me today.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Come in," she said, "I'll give you, shelter from the storm." - B. Dylan

Yesterday, I was sitting on a park bench, sipping a latte, doing my meditation routine, when the weather turned. Seemingly out of nowhere, a gust of wind, came blasting out of the west. The trees above me rattled like old bones, small branches and leaves fell down around me, large wooden slats blew off a building down the way, the power went out for blocks, no electricity for the street lights, the stores, the houses or apartments.

I walked home, in the swirl of a storm, fat raindrops pelting my head. At home everything was dark, no lights, no music, it was strange, the Lovely Carla and I were in an quiet nether zone, everything seemed different, we were forced to downshift by circumstances, we cooked our dinner by candlelight. We ate on the back porch with the little birdies in their cage, propped in the window, all of us marvelling at the power of the storm.

I read great chunks of my Nick Tosches book. I spent the late afternoon in New York City in the teens and twenties of the last century. Early evening, the power came back on, but we were already in a slowed down, more organic mode. We turned the lights off, laid in the dark and listened to the rain tapping on the leaves outside our window. There were sporadic sounds of fireworks going off in the distance. We listened and tried to imagine who could be out there, in the dark, playing with fire.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Daily Racing Form Vs. the Bible

Step off the "wheel of work," for awhile, and ideas come flooding in. Suddenly, you have time to think, to do the things you love to do. It was that kind of day, yesterday. I kicked around town, took a day off from running, meditated on a bench at the park, went to the local used CD store, browsed through other folk's discards, picked up some classic music (The Grateful Dead in Europe 1972, the Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1969, Pink Floyd at their Psychedelic best, Led Zeppelin deep into their avant-garde metal experiments).

I studied a copy of the Daily Racing Form as a form of leisure. I thought about Nick Tosches and his rant on the Bible, how it is a great work of human imagination, meaning - written by men, (I understand in some quarters "them's is fighting words!"), but the Bible clearly is not the "word of god," unless you want to consider any work of imagination the "word of god," so in that case, "Catch 22," and "Moby Dick," and "The Lord of the Rings," would serve just as well. Can you imagine swearing an oath on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," in a court of law?

The Daily Racing Form might be closer to what the "word of god," would be like, if it too wasn't just men trying to make sense of events of the world. Take a race at Canterbury Park (think Chaucer), and find the truth, the wisdom, the power and the glory in simple notations on paper. This is a bible that just tries to state the "facts." No myth, no parables, no commandments, just descriptions of "what happened." Now that's a bible you can believe in!

Shakopee is a horse running in a one mile turf race for fillies and mares, three years old and upwards. The purse is $40,000. Now you can find that this filly was sired by Evansville Slew (his father was Slew City Slew) and you just know that there's a connection to the great Seattle Slew somewhere in her bloodlines. You can see the history of this filly for the last ten races of her existence, you can see she likes to run on, or just slightly off, the lead, she's won two races out of ten for her career. You can see her times broken into quarters :22 at the quarter pole, 1:09 at the finish of a six furlong dash.

You can find what kind of medication she's on, who she's raced against, whether she likes the dirt, the turf, the mud, etc. Then there a few poetic descriptors that give you a flavor of a race: bobbled, hustled, never menaced, went clear, held sway, shook clear, weakened, forced pace, dueled, gave way, etc. It's all there. But of course it isn't. So much information and so little. What's left out, is probably as important as what's noted. And ain't that the truth too?

This is a bible that doesn't lie, it gives you some info, (is it important or not?), and then it's all up to you. What will you do? There ain't no god looking over your shoulder, god ain't on your side, you don't have no rule book (no stone tablet lugged down from the mountain) that explains it all. It's all up to you, what are you gonna do, how will you live your life, what will you make of it, are you gonna bet that filly, or take a pass, are you gonna burn some cash on a silly horse race, will this be the pony that leads you to the promised land, does past performance give a clue to the future, is there anything new under the sun, what's gonna happen today, and really "are you feeling lucky, punk?" There's no one to petition, no higher power to appeal to, as Philip Dick once said, "you are the authority!" The Daily Racing Form is a bible that empowers!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Anatomy of a Winner

Yesterday was gorgeous, and the Lovely Carla and I agreed to rent a car to drive out to the Arlington Racetrack to play the ponies. We conjured up a little symphony of pure-luck, guile, intuition, educated guesses, and a random hunch or two. We listened to each other, which somehow, opened us to new combinations which, somehow, (improbably) matched up with the reality. The result: we walked out with a combined $250 in winnings. Not bad. In fact, it was one of the most successful betting days I can remember.

First off, I explained to the Lovely Carla the beauty of the one-dollar, three-horse, Exacta Box (Andy Beyer's favorite gimmick bet). The Lovely C. played this little gimmick like a Master (Chairman Mao: "give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats for life"). She tossed some strange ponies into her gimmicks, but she anchored them with one of her favorite jockeys, Earlie Fires. It turns out Earlie had a great day (two winners and a place) and the Lovely C. parlayed this into some boxcar payoffs.

My contribution included three horses. The first one's name escapes me (he was a first time Lasix - to bet a first time Lasix pony is one of the unwritten rules - first starter), Tejano Who (I liked his breeding), and Number Juan (He used to race on the West Coast in some big races, and he'd been off since November 2004). These winners were all in cheap races - claimers, and first starters; losing horses looking for a win. I backed up my hunches ("this horse has found his spot!") with some serious cash ($20 to win here, $10 to place there). I also did some Exacta Boxes taking the Lovely C.'s advice about Earlie Fires, and figuring there was a little racing magic in the air.

So we ended up with a four-race winning streak. The Exacta payoffs added up ($45, $40, etc.). We finally hit the wall on the Big Race. I went with a horse named Southern Africa (he raced in the Belmont), but the spell had been broken, and we high-tailed it out of there with our stack of cash. "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned." Yes, I guess it's true. We went to one of our favorite Indian restuarants to celebrate our great day. We were both ravenously hungry. Dinner was on the ponies. We ate and laughed and marvelled in wonder at our run of good luck. "Who woulda thunk it?!"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Reverend Nick Rages Against the Dying of the Light

Well, it's a holiday, so I think I'll just post an example of why I think Nick Tosches is such a great writer: "We should not subscibe to the confectionary lies called history any more than we should subscribe to the confectionary lies of a politically correct and ordered present. We should not even look back. The past, like our shared future, is a common grave, nothing more. All the wisdom that the past ever held is in every passing breath. And wisdom is devastating in its deliverance."

Friday, July 01, 2005

"An Open Space." - Peter Brook

Last night, in a dark gallery space, five actors, stepping through familiar scenes; familiar words, gestures, movements. Sequences are broken down, examined. What's being conveyed, what makes a sequence "stronger," what seems to "work?" There is sweat, intense concentration, no complaints. A group of human beings intent on a vision, a vision coming alive step by step. It is a strange alchemy, the good work; something unique, special, not of this world. The reward is the doing. Each actor contributes, each recognizes the unique energy of the other. There is a shared experience, a shared vision, even if this vision can not be expressed. There is a sense of play, no one hesitates, no one says "no, I can't." Everything seems possible. The world seems like an open door, an open window, each of us passes through, making sure the next one comes along too.

Blog Archive