Sunday, February 28, 2010

Answer # 54 - The cats are manning the shock collar

Europe looms.

Not the trip, the food, the people or the fun.  No, the packing.  The packing looms.

I know it's coming when I wake up on a Sunday morning and the bathroom scale is in the middle of the livingroom floor.  This means that Adventure Boy is beginning calibration of items to the exact kilo (a conversion he does in his mind, because he is Adventure Boy), and we're at the beginning of what will be a 3-week juggling of clothes, shoes, power tools, American liquor as bribes for DJs, and guitar picks.

The dog will notice.  He always does.  He'll sniff the bags and the scale - he'll spend slightly more time inside, where he can watch us.  He'll get edgier.  The UPS guy will notice and will go back to honking from his truck in the driveway, not risking the wrath of what truly could be a chow/wolfman hybrid with too much on his mind on the porch.

He'll follow the car down the driveway, barking and yipping - snapping at the tires (this, one of his most detrimental flaws - chasing everything that moves), and he'll know we'll be gone a long time (in dog years).

"Poor little guy," Adventure Boy will say.
"Poor strangers who come to the door," I will say, 

"and by the way, who's manning the shock collar?"
"Oh, I think he's learned his lesson," he'll respond, confidently, as always.
"In what way do you think, though? Because you haven't zapped him once," I'll counter, pithily.
"I think he just knows," he'll defend.  Ah.. the eternal springing of hope.

Nonetheless, in about three weeks, we'll drive away, leaving the PostMan and the UPS guy and Studio Clients, and all manner of woodland creature to their own devices. And the dog will miss us for an hour or so, until he forgets that we used to be there because he's chasing a neighbor's tractor.

The cats won't care that we're gone.  They never do.

They're looking strangely contented lately. I'm slightly suspicious that they're reading the shock collar manual at night while everyone sleeps.

I don't mention this suspicion to Adventure Boy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Answer # 53 - The Epiphatini of Distraction

Got two great pieces today from friends - This poem and an animated piece called Typography (look to your right -there's the link).  Both addressing the current use of human language and some of the detriment therein.

Having started, unintentionally, a bit of a Facebook skirmish, by use of conviction, but colored by misunderestimations and mutagenic infornography, I find myself scrambling for meaning on a Saturday afternoon in late February. Or maybe scrambling to be understood.  Appletinis won't help.  No, an Epiphatini is definitely called for.  A big one.

by Nick Lantz

Would it make a difference to say we suffered
from affluenza in those days? Could we blame
Reaganomics, advertainment, the turducken
and televangelism we swallowed by the sporkful,
all that brunch and Jazzercise, Frappuccinos
we guzzled on the Seatac tarmac, sexcellent
celebutantes we ogled with camcorders while
our imagineers simulcast the administrivia
of our alarmaggedon across the glocal village?
Would it help to say that we misunderestimated
the effects of Frankenfood and mutagenic smog
to speculate that amid all our infornography
and anticipointment, some crisitunity slumbered
unnoticed in a roadside motel? Does it count
for nothing that we are now willing to admit
that the animatronic monster slouching across
the soundstage of our tragicomic docusoap
was only a distraction? Because now, for all our
gerrymandering, the anecdata won't line up for us.
When we saw those contrails cleaving the sky
above us, we couldn't make out their beginning
or their end. What, in those long hours of ash,
could our appletinis tell us of good or of evil?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Answer #52 - It's only a lie if you don't believe it

"She's a self-playing accordian & even when she's asleep, her quiet breathing goes a-one & a-two" -  storypeople

 My friend, Faith, sent me this line this morning. I like it but now am fixated on my breathing.

"Don’t panic.  Most things work out."  - Danielle McClelland
See full size image

Last night, Danielle, sent me this line.  2 hours later, I didn't heed it and pressed SEND anyway. 

"I'm going to move to Lubbock, take up short hand and change my name to Thelma." - Arbutus Cunningham

Having become fixated on my breathing and panicking more than once, and hitting SEND at the worst possible times, I'm contemplating Thelma as my future incarnation but just can't see myself in Lubbock.  Perhaps I'll change my name to Thelma anyway, and tell people I'm originally from Lubbock which would be a lie but entertaining.


“I always tell the truth, because then I don’t have to remember what I said.”   - B.B. King
See full size image

My friend, Carrie     quoting B.B.                        And God knows I try... but


"Songwriters are people who lie for a living." - Songwriter, Peter Mulvey

See full size image

Is more like it.                               Artistic license, right?

That's me with Lawrence Welk in Lubbock.  And a-one & a-two...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Answer #51 - Yes, but not until the Argentinian hot house flowers arrive

Day 10,000 of freezing temperatures and no end in sight.  I've decided to turn this blog into a journal of what must surely be my last days, because soon all the food and water will be gone and we'll begin burning the furniture for warmth.

The coyotes are circling closer - coming further into the perimeter of the compound.  And the dogs are too weak to chase them off.

The full-length sweater is no longer keeping me warm in the office, and I'm losing all of the feeling in my fingertips and toes, despite two pairs of socks.  My coffee gets cold instantly.  But what does it matter?  Soon the coffee will be gone, and then I will surely lose my will to live.

I find some solace knowing that the sun is... somewhere; that someone, somewhere won't suffer this fate of endless ice and gray... and sticks.  Even the evergreens are shriveling against the onslaught of the coldest winter in the history of the world.

"Krista Detor," says my friend Arbutus (in my mind, where she often and unexpectedly turns up)  "I am finding your taste for turgidity to be a bit on the cloying and sticky side these days.  Is it conceivable that you might consider not to steep yourself in melodrama like so much burdock root, and perhaps make something of the day at hand?"

"I would, but I'm surely nearing death.  The coffee's nearly gone." I reply, weakly.  "The winter, alas, has been too much... too much.  No.. I'll need to remain steeping in melodrama, until the birds peck my very bones and dozens of hot house flowers from Argentina arrive for what will, no doubt, be a splendid and glorious funeral procession."

It's nearly noon and no sign of the mail truck.  The roads are iced with days and days and days of.. of ice.. and all the supply lines will soon be down.  I have to consider the unimaginable.  I may have to pick which one of the dogs is dinner in a matter of days.  This will not be easy, but I'm sure they'll understand.  Perhaps I'll devise a contest of doggy skill and cunning to determine which is weakest, and therefore, first.  OH, the horror of the thought.. No.  I can't.  Oh, fates, oh mercy, will the winter never end? 

Will the winter never end?

Ah, sorry.  Gotta go.  1/2 price martini night at Scholar's Inn! 
Man, it's cold.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Answer # 50 - We do we can

A nice Dutch gentleman has translated yesterday's De Stem review -

On her previous cd... the American singer/pianist has proved, that she not only possesses a beautiful voice, but that she can also write sensitive songs about all the aspects of human existence that make it pleasant, troubled or worthwhile. At the same time she pays a lot of attention to the cover and the entire concept. The 15 tracks on ‘Chocolate Paper Suites’ are grouped in ‘suites’ of 3 songs connected by subject and/or image. For these songs she got her inspiration from works by Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca, British naturalist Charles Darwin and Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. This results in sensitive softly sung songs, a beautiful warm mixture of folk, jazz, pop and blues. Detor is accompanied by a number of great musicians who have the courage to put aside their egos for her wonderfully- structured songs, that sometimes remind us of Carol King in the seventies.

It's actually lovely when a human speaks the language, as opposed to a computer.  Dutch is actually quite beautiful to listen to - and sometimes I can pick up phrases here and there... I got Rosetta Stone, Dutch module, but my brain rebels and runs away with shiny objects, and I end up fascinated by some ridiculous facebook posting (I blame this on my parents.).  Anyway - I still have fun with the on-line translators.  Funny computers.  And for me, sometimes, funny is the point.  Hopefully no one gets insulted along the way. 

But we do what we can, eh?

Laugh at ourselves, try not to take any of it terribly seriously.  This is my life's work: to remember that none of it really matters.  If they love your work, if they hate your work - if you're channeling Carole King, or channeling Janet Jackson.

Hell, if you yourself are Janet Jackson pre-wardrobe malfunction, 

or Janet Jackson post-wardrobe malfunction,
  it's just another day on the big blue ball... so what if they shun you at the Grammys?  You're still a smoking-hot 40-something with buckets of money and the executrix of your brother's gazillion-dollar estate.  Have a mai-tai and buy a NEW wardrobe...

cause like Freddy said, 'any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter...'
See full size image

Just smile and enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Answer # 49 - Drinks too much and nude songs writes she

Since my record label is Dutch, I occasionally have to use Google Translate for reviews. This is a comical, fun romp through ridiculous but memorable translations.

Today's Review from DeStem - (a big Daily Newspaper in Holland):

The American singer / pianist proved its three previous CDs not only to possess a beautiful voice, she writes songs about sensitive issues that all human life is so pleasant, valuable or difficult to make. Also always pays special attention to cover and concept. The 15 tracks on Chocolate Paper Suites are grouped into "suites" of ever 3 songs linked together in terms of theme and / or images. She drew inspiration for these songs from the works of Spanish poet and playwright Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, the British naturalist Charles Darwin and poet Dylan Thomas from Wales. This provides sensitive soft sung songs, a nice warm mix of folk, jazz, pop and blues heard. Detor is accompanied by a large number of musicians who dare to ignore its pretty songs, sometimes Carole King from the seventies recall.

Of this, I can draw that the reviewer likes the album. And that he seems to think I'm channeling Carole King. And while I am a huge fan of the songstress, I don't think I channel her, though I look a bit like her. In the hair, anyway.

But how do you control who influences you in a world where music is everywhere you go?

You don't. You can't. For all I know Carole King is behind everything I've ever written. I doubt it, but then again, I believe this same reviewer once compared me to Karen Carpenter. And where you gonna go with that? Is it conceivable that this reviewer hasn't listened to anything since video killed the radio star?

I don't know.

But I do know that the on-line translations are big fun... my favorite, from 'Cover Their Eyes' , hits the nail on the head: 'Drinks Too Much and Nude Songs Writes She.'

And scene.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Answer # 48 - Yes, currently, I eat my friends

As I contemplate Vegetarianism for the 56th time:

I currently won't eat small animals that are kept in boxes their whole lives to ensure tenderness.
Lamb, veal.

I currently won't eat any Agri-Butchered anything that I could buy at Marsh or Kroger or Walmart or the like. Just local farm-raised meat & chicken.  I tell myself this is better because I can see, myself, that the cows are pretty peaceful most of their lives, walking around and munching grass.  They seem unafraid of their fate.  And chickens are ridiculously stupid, but even they need to peck and squawk in the air. 

And, in principle, currently, I don't eat pigs raised anywhere because they're so smart.  Even though, to their extreme detriment, they taste really good.  I wish they'd make an evolutionary leap to tasting bad.

I'm a failure so far at Vegetarianism, though I tell myself that soon I won't be.  A failure, that is. I also tell myself that we are Carnivores and that we're genetically wired for animal protein.  And this is why I probably should eat that turkey bacon.  And that Red Rooster.

See full size image

Red Rooster

Red Rooster
is not in his pen
where did he go?

he was buggin' the hens
we gave him away

how come
we eat chicken
but let someone else
eat Red Rooster?

you don't
eat your friends
do you?

I'd hate
to be eaten
by a stranger

beat it kid
you bother me    - Ric Masten (from Words & One-Liners)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Answer # 47 - A Flapper and a Screamer

A friend's father posited this concept to him, upon his graduation from college:

"Son, there are two types of people in the world - when they jump off a cliff - there are either Flappers or Screamers.  You need to ask yourself, son, are you a Flapper or a Screamer?"

Consider this:  You're standing on the edge of a cliff.  You jump off.  The question is then

Are you a Flapper or a Screamer?
See full size image

"What the hell was that supposed to mean?!" my friend asked, baffled, aghast.. baffled.


"I mean, what the hell? Why'd my father ask me that? Why would I be jumping off a cliff?  Is he expecting that I'll be jumping off a cliff? And what damn difference would it make if I flapped or screamed?!"

Adventure Boy and I discussed later.

"I'm a Flapper," I said.  "Definitely a Flapper."

Looking aghast and then bemused, Adventure Boy said, 'You, my dear, are a Screamer.  You are definitely a Screamer."

"I'm am so NOT a Screamer!  I'm a Flapper!  I'd Flap!"

"You'd scream."

"I'd flap!  Possibly I'd scream while I flapped, but there would be flappage!"

He went back to reading.  The book about the guys who did the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley (Denali) in the dead of winter.  It's his favorite (Minus 148 degrees. Yep.).  He met Dave Johnston, one of the guys on that expedition when we played on Whole Wheat Radio in Talkeetna, as has been enamored since.
Because he's Adventure Boy, he'd do something as insane as climbing a snow-covered iceberg in the middle of winter, with the looming possibility of perilous doom with every pick of the ice ax or whatever the hell you climb with. 

But he's not worried - not of falling thousands of feet to a squishy death - nope!  Because he's a Flapper!  We both know he's a Flapper.  He'd probably flap hard enough to fly.

But I'd flap, too.  I swear, I'd flap.  [Screaming the whole merry way].

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Answer #46 - Right. I'd definitely rather be Right.

"It's supposed to snow tonight," I say to Adventure Boy.

"No - there's nothing on the radar."

"But, the lady with the annoying accent on the weather channel just said the weekend's going to be ice, snow, rain, ice, and - tonight, snow," I insist.

"Nope, I just looked at the radar. Nothing." says Adventure Boy, sure of his position in all things meteorological.

(Alarm Rings)

I wake up to new snow on the road outside my window.

"Just a dusting," says Adventure Boy.

"But snow, nonetheless," I chide, sure of my position in all things, period.

"Not snow of any consequence," he assures me.

"Ah, but still, there is powdery white stuff on the car, that is most definitely snow, which I did indicate would be falling."

"Will you be making coffee anytime soon or should I?" he asks, attempting to divert me from verification of my rightness.

"Well, I'd be happy to make the coffee after I go brush the snow off the windshield."

"There's no need," he states, assuredly.

"Oh no, I'd be happy to brush the snow off the windshield.  I'd hate for it to become a hard layer once the ice starts falling."

"No ice is going to fall.  There's nothing on the radar," he says, as he fills the coffee carafe with water.

So I smile, in victory, knowing full well that ice will fall sometime today or tonight, whilst getting my coat and boots on to go brush the snow off the windshield - where he'll be able to see me, clearly, through the kitchen window. Brushing snow off the car, that is.  Though, admittedly, once I get out there, it's cold and I've forgotten to put on gloves, and Adventure Boy is in the warm house, reading email, but I've won, you see, because, AH-HA! there is TOO snow on the windshield, and I know this because my fingers are blue-ish.  But I win!  Because I was right!  And at this point he may be inside drinking a warm cup of coffee and probably he's reading the NY Times on-line while I brush the snow off the car and the dog - and now I can't feel the tip of my nose - but you know what, I was RIGHT!  And there WILL be ice, mark my words!

Would you rather be right, or be happy?, my mother asked me once.

See full size image

Ha! I win.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Answer # 45 - The Team with the Most Money

Web web web.  It's where we live now.

What's your URL?  Are you on Facebook?  Tweet what you're doing and I'll meet you.  Text me when you get home...

We're narrating our lives now, like I'm narrating my life now.  Soon I'll be leaving the desk and walking into the kitchen, where I may or may not remember why I went in, and then I'll maybe look in the refrigerator and see what's in there, opting not to eat anything because I'm not so much hungry as I am distracted and looking for a nice piece of cheese to tether me to the Earth.

Then I'll pace room to room for a while, trying to draw from the cluttery chaos of my brain exactly what I promised people I'd do today and whether it's conceivable that I can.  Why I promised is rarely taken into consideration because I just don't have that kind of recall.

Tonight, on the other hand, I'm going to try to go to North High, because the kids in the orchestra are protesting at the MCCSC Board Meeting - the man who ascended to the governorship of Indiana has taken it upon himself to ensure that Indiana's rank in the lower echelons of national education stats remains solid by cutting so much money out of education that our heads are spinning. 

He boasts 'money in the coffers.'  Maybe because he's cut so many of our social services and has sold an unnecessary highway renovation to a multinational corporation, and now we'll pay Spain and Australia to drive our new toll road!  Surely he didn't personally make money off that deal.  But it does beg the question -

Who do we root for at World Cup time?!

I guess it can't be the U.S.  But MITCH is going to bring jobs with his coffer money.  All of the jobs akin to shucking fries at MacDonalds, but then again, that's all the workforce will be qualified to do with the education Indiana will soon be providing its children.  So it all works out.

In the narrative of my life, I'm pissed off today.  But proud of the North High Orchestra - and proud of my town for fighting back.

Still can't remember why I walked into the kitchen.

I'll tweet you when I do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Answer #44 - Art. It's what's for dinner.

I was at Won Sook Kim's house last night.  She's a friend.  She's a painter - the kind of painter that creates a wormhole in space, of sorts, directly to some other universe.  I'll be honest, I just can't stand 'artspeak', and I'm not good at it, so screw it, it's a wormhole, and if that means transcendence, then fine, it's transcendent.  But I can't adequately discuss her brush strokes or the character of the light... I only know that I disappear into her canvases and her world while I'm there, and when I leave, I'm incrementally better than I was when I arrived.

I'm not the first writer to be inspired by her work.  She's got books of poetry on the shelves inspired by her paintings, utlizing her paintings as illustration, etc.

She herself was influenced in a series of paintings by Composer Robert Schumann's Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), which then inspired the piano performance of the work by her sister, soloist Won Mi Kim.

And, of course, she's inspired me - more than once, but most recently in a choral piece for 6 women, based on and titled after a relief sculpture she did called Bending Tree. I'll put it on-line someday...(I will).

I'm influenced by painters, once in a while.  I'm lucky enough to know Won Sook, in person and to be able to be inspired by her on a regular basis - but others long gone can hold sway: Breugel's Icarus (combined w/Auden's Musee Des Beaux Arts) led me to a song

which led Arbutus Cunningham to a story. 
See full size image

and which led artist Edward Bernstein to a print sculpture
Icarus Composite small web .jpg

All four pieces entitled 'Icarus.'

So the crux of the biscuit, or rather, the wax in the wing is?

Look around.  It's everywhere.  Art, that is.  The reasons for making it, appreciating it, hating it, loving it... art breeds art - and it's a wormhole to another universe at times - and maybe a key to our human evolution.  Getting caught up in the pretention of what some people can make of it is a bloody waste of time, and an evolutionary dead end.
See full size image

It's the best of what we are and  maybe our greatest hope. 

That and really powerful antibiotics.  But you get the idea.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Answer #43 - D-Minor, the Saddest of all Keys

"Do you think Chocolate Paper Suites is your darkest album to date?", asked the journalist yesterday.

"Uh.. no."

Well, I don't.  I don't think it's particularly dark.  I didn't think Mudshow was, either.

Dark.  Hm...

I don't even think there's a single song that's consistently in minor - although the only one that does cross over into a minor key does, in fact, cross into D-minor, the saddest of all keys.

This may be why the question was asked... But I could argue - "Yeah, it's in D-minor - just the one song - but it's in 5/4! And Surely that makes up for the devastating darkness of D!  Lots of colorful imagery - oranges falling like rain, scarecrows with brambleberry eyes full of butterflies...

From terraces of bone and purple cobblestone, 
the waltzing angels wish on coins and silverfish!"

What's dark about that? There are waltzing angels for God's sake!

Here's dark: 
ERE you but lying cold and dead,
And lights were paling out of the West,
You would come hither, and bend your head,
And I would lay my head on your breast
And you would murmur tender words,
Forgiving me, because you were dead - William Butler Yeats

I could have said.  
But I didn't.  I never do until the next day, when I replay the whole event in my head and the reporter isn't on the phone, but rather, is wearing a zoot suit and I'm wearing a feather boa and playing in a piano bar, with one of those long cigarette holders.  And I'm quippy.  God, am I quippy in that boa with a glass of warm bourbon in my hand...
Anyway - point is,  
What is the fine line that separates a 'dark' song from a 'light' song?
Clearly it's not the color of the key, unless of course that key is D-Minor.  It must have something to do with oranges.  Or possibly humans.  Is it possible that an element of darkness finds its way into a song when humans are involved in the song somehow...?

I'll have to think on this.  In the meanwhile, I'll stay away from D-Minor. And possibly oranges.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Answer #42 - Laissez les bon temps roulez

I lived in Monroe, Louisiana for a time...a while ago.

For a time I drank sweet tea, ate etouffee on a regular basis, traveled back and forth to New Orleans, learned to make a roux and gained an appreciation for Flannery O'Connor that remains unparalleled. I smoked cigarettes on porches in Adirondack chairs and sipped bourbon & crushed mint on ice. It was steamier than anyplace I've ever lived, outside of Seoul.
300px kingcake The Mardi Gras Carnival Guide: Decadent Paganism or Christian Abstinence?
 And every other house was haunted.  Including mine.

   I also ate more than one of these - King Cakes, that is. It's a  sweet bread/cake with sugar icing and always purple, yellow  and green coloring.  Mardi Gras tradition.  A pink plastic baby is buried in the dough.  It's good luck to get the piece of cake with the little nubbin in it.  The whole concoction is visually surreal and the baby is really just the hard little plastic metaphor for the whole heart of the thing - somewhere, deep in the Mardi Gras memory is the taste of blood, sacrifice - and  

what better way to express our humanity than chomping on a plastic baby?

I know, I know - this is morbid.  And I don't condone chomping on plastic babies, except this time of year, or any other time of year you may be in the vicinity of beautiful NOLA, but the point is, we lost our Pagan sensitibilities some years ago - most likely because, as is our human tendency, the Pagans probably carried the whole 'sacrifice' thing a bit too far, and, after a while, every holiday is a reason for a little blood-letting, and well, the inherent complications are obvious.  Not to mention shortage of virgins.

But oh, something calls from the way back, way back, doesn't it, as my friend Arbutus says?  Something deep in the dark dark memory that whispers to us to dance around those fires, pound on drums, skirt the edges of civilization and roam the woods with abandon, sweaty and wild, eyes fixed on the moon.

In the company of ghosts.  I spent much of my Louisiana time in the company of ghosts, all manner of ghosts.  The song 'The Ghosts of Peach Street' came from that time.  Characters lived and breathed and died in Louisiana that I could never call out of the air.  I spent time in abandoned houses, on the bayous, on the water and surrounded by music nearly every night.  Most of it dark... some of it joyous - but all of it with the knowing of things unseen, and generally unspoken.  I said, at the time, that the Mississippi Delta hung on me like a wet wool overcoat.  Because I wasn't cut out for those blues, and you should know where you are.

But, oh, Mardi Gras!  Now there was a time! Stories were told of Mardi Gras in Sunset, LA - where the men of the town got drunk early in the morning and stole chickens on horseback.  The townsfolk left the chickens out eventually, because otherwise the drunken men would trash the barns and the yards in search of chickens to steal.  In the end, all chickens were brought to the center of town and put in a gigantic chicken gumbo.

I have no doubt that shortly thereafter, plastic babies are chomped.

And tonight I'm snowed in. In Indiana... and though there's no place like home - tonight, just for a time, I'd be in Lousiana, covered in beads and chicken feathers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Answer #41 - Recycle

Sticks and stones... flying.  I don't know what to make of it lately.

Wind shears of words. Opinion.

Someone will hate what I write. That much is inevitable. Am I'm bound to be effected by it? Good reviews, bad reviews, the reviews written with the sole intent of drawing blood for the sake of a good laugh.  [Come on, who doesn't actually buy into it a little, when it's done well?  The blood-letting, I mean.]  But still, whether confetti falls or lyric sheets are shredded, it's all scraps of paper, really.  In the end.  Just scraps of paper.

I wrote this idea into a song once, about a friend who seemed to be grabbing so hard at public affirmation of his work:  Little scraps of colored paper are falling down on you today - will just one minute in their favor let you dream your pain away?

Someone already hates that line. That much is inevitable.

Someone doesn't.

It's the scraps of paper that concern me lately.  They're like white noise on an old television set - against the backdrop of the occasional 'we interrupt this program..', letting me know that the world's always spinning wildly out of control, and despite my world-saving intentions, time passes, and I still find myself drawn by scraps of paper.  shiny scraps of paper.

I try not to think on it.

I try not to think on it, the way time is moving on
cause when the cows come home - it'll still be gone.
It'll still be gone...

What is the answer?  What to do with all of it?

ah... recycle.  Okay then.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Answer #40 - Had Breakfast in a Bar

I'm heading to Player's Pub in half an hour to sing for half an hour at 11:00 in the morning.

I'm doing it as part of a benefit for Haiti, so it's a good thing, though it is a bar and it is 11:00 on a Sunday morning. 

It's been years since I was in a bar on a Sunday morning.  Since college.

It was cheap, back then - some kind of ridiculous all-you-can-eat deal at The Sidelines, and it all made sense, somehow.  You could still smoke indoors, so the combined aromas of bacon, smoke, beer, and other bodily fluids could not possibly have been conducive to dining...

And even then, Billy Joel's Piano Man was squirming around my head as I sat there, because, as is always the case, some people weren't there for breakfast at 11:00, and like I said, I have to wipe the drama off of me with handiwipes most of the time.  It's a kind of magnetic goo to me, drama - I have a hard time staying away from it, and then a harder time ridding myself of it... so Piano Man would squirm, and I'd write sad stories about lonely people on bar stools while I ate my scrambled eggs and worried about finals.  Or money.  Or love.

Nothing's changed terribly, now that I read over this paragraph.  I worry about all the same types of things, to varying degrees, and still make up stories about people on bar stools.

And now, in a weirdly circuitous way, I'm heading to a bar on a Sunday morning.  I'll probably even eat some scrambled eggs. 

And if anyone asks me, tomorrow, 'How was your weekend?'

With a clear conscience, I can say, 'Great!  Had breakfast in a bar.  Just like the old days.  Of course, unlike the old days, this time, it was for a good cause.  And not just because I was hung over.'

Might even skip the bloody mary.  Maybe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Answer #39 - No one, that's who

Dave will never talk with me about any of my schemes for world domination.  Occasionally I think of starting a church of some sort in the middle of nowhere - maybe Montana.  Montana's a big place.  Maybe build a really cool church (this is where Dave comes in. If it can be built, he can build it), with some bat-shit crazy suppositions - like Scientology... I love sci-fi, so working in some sci-fi characters as part of the church historical doctrine could be fun.  Especially if they had cool super powers and Elton John sunglasses, but not lame ass living in volcanoes like the Thetans.  That's just lame.

We're driving home from a dinner party last night, and, a couple of glasses of wine in, I want to kick around my plans for my new sci-fi church and then eventual world domination, including an on-line donation basket and possibly emblazoned coffee mugs.

'Weird,' he says.

'What?  Don't tell me you've never plotted world domination by way of religion?  You worship at the altar of Vonnegut.  You've read Cat's Cradle 5 times!  Hello! Bokononism?!'

'That's fiction and you're a freak,' he says.

And now I'm mad.  So I stew about it overnight.  Grumble.. grrrr...  

Who among us hasn't contemplated gaining followers and thusly subverting the system by way of sci-fi characters and some soul-cleansing electronic machinery and a complex, color-coded system of spiritual/spatial evolution?

What the hell?

I'm not alone in this. 

"When are you going to stop being mad at me?," he asks, as he hands me my coffee.

"As soon as I find a partner whose got a little bit of evil vision for the good of me and my people."

"Is this because the album got a good review, this sudden ridiculous dabbling in world domination? Or the Monsanto article?"

"Possibly both."

Damn good review.  Funny how it can warp your perspective.  As can watching the short-sighted greed and avarice that calls itself Agri-business buy the USDA right out from under the American people.

Still, I probably won't move to Montana.

But someone's got to stop Monsanto and their attempts at world domination by mandatory use of their deadly, non-proliferating seed. Other crops aren't safe from cross-contamination.  We're already forcing Iraqi farmers to buy from them.  It's disgusting and sickening.  We're funny, us Americans.  In the name of our freedom, we allow the subjugation of millions by corporate interest.  And then we wake up, and all the crops are gone, wring our hands and wonder why? 

So, like I told him.  This may be the only way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Answer #38 - We're all the dog and the deer

7 degrees as I was driving in this morning.  Thinking of Jane, the title character in a play I started writing about 3 years ago.  Jane doesn't like the cold, nor wearing much in the way of clothing for that matter.  She's eccentric.  She's eccentric and obsessive.. and unsettling.  But charming.

She's complex.  And, in her generally semi-clothed state, she wouldn't like to be in Indiana this time of year. 

And who among us isn't, I'm thinking, a little complex? - at 7 degrees as the black and white dog stands in the middle of the road, patiently watching my car speed toward him, unimpressed, unmoving.

I slow down.  He sniffs the headlight.  This is why I think of Jane. I couldn't have predicted the dog's response.  I can't predict hers. 

People know to watch for dogs.  It's the deer that take you by surprise.  Another one hit our hood the other day, on an icy downhill- came sprinting out of the snowy woods.  Practically leapt onto the hood, flew a few feet in the air onto a snow bank and ran off.  Hopefully without internal injuries.

Not the first time.  Won't be the last. 

Jane is the dog and the deer. This is maybe why I haven't visited her in 3 years.  Left to her own devices, she might not survive.  And look at me, I'm Virginia Woolf, but there's something to it - there's something to knowing that a character might not survive that makes you slow down all the more on the icy roads that lead home.

Maybe I'll see her this year.  Maybe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Answer #37 - MacGyver

This time, I dreamed Adventure Boy attended an AA meeting and then swung from a freeway light post, dropped onto a bus and then hopped, mid-traffic, into a minivan window.

This isn't outside of the realm of possibility, mind you (except the AA part, because Adventure Boy doesn't really drink much).  Adventure Boy was in the circus, though - and maybe you've seen his sister, Dreya, recently on the Grammys all painted in gold with Pink.  She was in an insurance commercial a while ago, swinging from a light post, hopping onto a bus...  it runs in the family. 

Anyway, it was actually kind of fun.  I watched it happen, and then in the dream it replayed on a video screen.  I woke up in a considerably better mood this morning.  Definitely better than dreaming of mud.

I sit in the office, typing, next to the studio door.  Songs coming through the door... I think this one's by Tom Paxton.  It's lovely today.  Isn't always, though.  Sometimes folks with many facial piercings are screaming about Satan on the other side of that door (not that there's anything wrong with that).  And that's not just the voices in my head.  These are the real deal.  Nice people, all pierced up and screaming about Satan.  I was in a band in Louisiana, years ago - Ophelia Exhumed (yep, you heard it here), and we played a gig with a band that had the song, 'He was the nicest Satan Worshiper that I have ever known.'  Good times.

Which leads me to conclude that I might be better served by watching MacGyver re-runs prior to bed time, rather than reading 'The Importance of Being Iceland,' no matter how starkly beautiful, no matter its gritty poignancy.  No matter my gigantic crush on Eileen Myles.  No matter her angst which is perfectly suited to mine.  No.  No matter.  It needs to be MacGyver or something of that ilk.

Because the music on the other side of the door is okay today.  I can think, I can type - I'm not contemplating homicide or liquor.  And even if there were pierced up, hairless boys singing about the devil and broken hearts in leather vests and pants belted mid-thigh, I think it'd be okay.

The answer to a good night's sleep?

MacGyver.  All these years, and it was right there.  Just behind the stack of books.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Answer #36 - the intensity of the gamma rays

I dream of mud some nights.  I read the poem years ago - the frog prince who dreamed of mud while his flour-dry princess bride slept soundly.  'In March I dreamed of mud..'

I don't sleep well, in general.  One of the genetically-blessed for whom sleep is a challenge and a paradox, I stay in a kind of vague twilight state half the time. 

And then, some months, inexplicably, I sleep. 

What changes?  I don't know.  This month, I dream of mud.

I have about one month until I get on the road for Europe.  In Europe I will dream of bread and cheese.  Which, incidentally, will be mostly what I eat.  I sleep well in Europe.  Again, what changes?  My theory is that the corporate powers that be are pumping something, inconsistently, over the U.S. airwaves in order to scramble our brains and get us all to buy expensive drugs to counter the scrambling effects of stress, depression and ill health.  Europe doesn't let them do that.  Just like they don't let them sell Wonder Bread.

But that's just paranoid conspiracy theory nonsense.

Unless it's true.  And then I'm a genius.  And I'll probably write a book.  Maybe call it 'To Serve Man.'
And then I'll wake everybody out of the Matrix, like Neo, and peace will guide the planets and looovvvee will steer the stars.

For now, I'm working on the new album, performance-wise.  Looking for exotic instruments to take on the road - sruti box, hurdy-gurdy, didgeridoo, that kind of thing.  This weekend, I'll score a choral version of 'Clock of the World' - currently on YouTube if you're interested, and will most likely drink a little too much wine at a cocktail party.  [This doesn't take a psychic to foresee.  There's a cocktail party, I'll be at it.  You do the math.]

For now, I'm picking up shows, getting used to a 65-degree house because I'm NOT a spoiled American, I'm not I'm not, and languishing a bit in the blue winter light.

For now, I dream of mud.  We'll see if I get used to the flour-dry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Answer #35 - Rabbits in Boxes

The Rabbit and the Hunter

Wood.  Wood pillars on wooden two by fours gouged out of wood.

Gouged with sandpaper and oil and years of misgivings - spread over nights of uncertain leanings.
What do they want?

And what do I see there on the edge of the lateral plane?


'I'm missing something, I think,' said the rabbit to the hunter.  'And if the box is a home then this hole is a home and why don't I have no relief?'

No answer.

And then I'm running into the woods.  And the woods run past me.

And I can't stop.  Not ever.   And it's nowhere that I'm going.  But the movement is forgiving and the stopping is undoing, and do you see where the horizon lies?  It goes on forever.


I'm jumping over this river, these smooth rocks and slight surface.  Give me air on the ground, give me ground on the water.

In the woods.
In the wood.

Light the fire. Send the rabbit into heaven and have something to remember him by when the ringing hits your head and the cold hits his head and stops there.

It stops.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Answer #34 - Squish the lemons

It happens.  Some days the rabbit's been shot.  Silhouette by the silver maples, it's a boy with a .22.  Good for not much more than killing a rabbit.  I should know.  I own one.  Same little gun the boy took Into the Wild.  Sad.

I'm walking on anyway, hoping the trigger-finger isn't too twitchy.  I should have gotten out the orange blanket, but it's winter and it's summer thin.  Besides, these are my woods and not the boy's.  He's a visitor.  And I can't save the rabbit.

In my story life, I'm never the hunter.  I'm really always the damn rabbit.  For this reason, I can't see films like Shindler's List or Mississippi Burning or the like.. man's inhumanity and all.  For whatever reasons, I don't have the filtration system to dull myself to the suffering.  It's probably pathetic, but this stuff will keep me awake at night.  It buries me in the imagery and the certain knowledge that we humans are capable of unholy horror that no demon ever dreamt.  Our evolution is slow.. and not based on our best traits, as it happens.  We haven't lost the need for power above all things.  Haven't lost the desire for violent and fiery endings.  Since many of our holy texts encourage violent and fiery endings, I can only assume this will not soon change.

I see Beckett and Joyce sitting across from each other, eyes glazed.  Baffled.  Ah.. hopeless.  Ah... crap.  Not this again.

For this reason, my friend Jenny is my book and movie preview guide.

"Yes, you can read this."
"No, you can't see that.  Even I couldn't handle the 7-minute torture scene.  You'd go shopping for arsenic, so let's not go there.  Go see 'Up', it's more your speed."

Go see Up.

I saw Up.  It was pretty good.  First 1/2 hour anyway.  Anything was still possible.

My mind's a fuzzy gray blanket today.  On it, rabbits are sitting silent, ears tuned to sussurrations.  Under it are memories of fallen things and old splintery doors.

How do you get rid of a rabbit infestation without a gun?

Too early for a martini.  Besides, I may as well drink lighter fluid for the way those things taste.  No, best to just tough it out and keep walking until the rabbits start moving and take their blanket with them.

Besides, it was just Saturday morning that the kind, funny little man in wire glasses and wrapped in the flannel duck blanket came out of the house with the lemons.  He put them, one each, under the front tires and said something under his breath, with his hand on the car.  The road was clear all the way to Wisconsin that day and that memory will make me smile forever.

Shoo, rabbits.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Answer #33 - I use my Spidey Sense

Well, after all the hullaballoo (?), maybe 3 inches of snow, and all of it in my yard.  None in Wisconsin, hardly any in Illinois... strange...  Adventure Boy wins this battle (oh, but not the war..)

On these road trips, Adventure Boy does most of the driving because my sense of direction is desperately inaccurate.  This is because I have the ability to convince myself of the truth of a thing, despite much evidence to the contrary.

So how does someone with no sense of direction get anywhere driving?  Ever? 

I once drove 10 miles on a road at nearing 5:00pm in the mid-Autumn, with the sun directly to my left above the tree line, convinced I was going South.  Despite the fact that the sun was on my left.  So I clearly couldn't be going South.  But, well, I knew I was because I had a clear memory that my destination was to the south and on this particular road, and, proceeded to drive 10 miles, and of course said destination was not there, where I had driven - 10 miles to the NORTH - and there is much of me that remains enigmatic.  To me, I mean. 

Anyway - this Western & Northern trip included two good shows -  Nice people... my favorite part of the whole thing - the cool people along the way.  This time one of them a Philosophy Professor at Southern Illinois - edited a series of funny books: 'South Park and Philosophy,' 'Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy', 'The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy,'  'The Grateful Dead and Philosophy' - you get the idea.  An academic press that's encouraging ordinarily stuffy intellectuals to have a little pop culture fun.  Gotta like that.

Tried to listen to an episode of This American Life in replace of crap pulp fiction today - and it's a great show - don't get me wrong - but this particular episode involved an 80-year-old Italian immigrant man whose neighborhood had succumbed to economic fall-out some years ago, and who had, by a series of small, badly miscalculated steps, become relegated to a cramped room in his own home - a place that has since been taken over by junkies, rats (actual rats) prostitutes, buckets of human waste, pimps and dealers.  He was articulate, he was stoic - he was lucid.  He hadn't been to the 2nd story of his own home since 1992.  I couldn't bear it.  I wanted to turn the car to the East and go get him out of there.  Get them all out of there.  Even the rats.  I hear they make good pets.

Yeah, I know - you're wondering would I use my Spidey Sense to defy the GPS, in the sure knowledge that my instincts would lead me in the direction of EAST?


But I needed to get home, so, you know, I had to put the crap pulp fiction back on. 

For a while.  And then I turned it off and just drove.  South.  Like the GPS said I should.

In the end, Adventure Boy didn't even need to shovel the driveway.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Answer #32 - Because Great Balls of Fire Exploded Out of his Chest

The snow wasn't bad driving.  Yes, Adventure Boy pulled out the big guns of 'wussball' and 'chicken' so I got in the car and drove to Illinois.  Pride is a dangerous thing, but I got it in spades.

Now I'll get in the car in 1/2 an hour and drive to Mukwanago, somewhere between Madison and Milwaukee.  This will be maybe 7 hours and to the accompaniment of some fairly crappy pulp fiction book on CD.

Why would anyone listen to crappy pulp fiction for 7 hours?

That's just how we roll.

Yesterday's was 'Tail Spin' by Catherine Coulter.  There was a plane, a strapping FBI agent, a rich family and their bastard daughter, the bastard daughter and the FBI agent meeting as the plane plummeted because of a bomb aboard and the bastard daughter happening to drive by the field in which said plane was smouldering in time to save said strapping agent - of course, a handful of dead bodies along the way, leading, inevitably to the engagement of the FBI agent and the bastard daughter who inherited all the money somehow.

It was, it was.. it defied description.  It was beyond reckoning, it was.. the dialogue was..  the reader and her bizarre and earnest attempt at southern accent was.. it..  there were cellphones that all, every one of them, every character in the book carried a cell phone that rang, incessantly a random popular tune, which the author felt compelled to tell us about.  Every time.  No ring ring, always a pop song.  For everyone.  Even the nuclear physicists.  Implausible, you say?  Yes, I say.


"Sherlock's pocket rang 'Like a Virgin'"
"'She Loves You' screamed from the buzzing phone on the commissioner's desk"
"'Three Times a Lady' let Rachel know that Laurel had tracked her down"
(this went on for hours and endless hours...)

But the pinnacle, the screaming masterpiece of all of the cellphone ring descriptions:

Bastard daughter and FBI Agent are finally locked in an embrace.
For some reason she licks his neck and then apologizes. (not kidding)
He smiles, reassuringly as he holds her close, her face in his hands

And then (wait for it)
"Great Balls of Fire exploded out of his chest"

His cell phone was ringing.

I spit my coffee all over the dashboard and we laughed ourselves into town.

Ah, good times.  Snow storms.  Pulp fiction...  coffee-covered dashboard.

The road.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Answer #31 - Because Adventure Boy Likes Adventure

Adventure Boy says, 'I'm not worried about it!'  (cape billowing in the breeze)

But Adventure Boy ALWAYS says this.  This is the problem with being Adventure Boy.  Not enough of the peptide receptors that recognize fear as a means by which to stay alive.  Like regular humans do.

'It's a freaking snow storm!', I say. 
'Even the schools are closed.  And you know how Governor Mitch hates paying teachers anyway - but ESPECIALLY for days they're not working!  This is the real deal!'

'The Prius is great in the snow!'  (cape still billowing.  outstretched arm pointing to the west.  our destination)

'What?'  Now I'm baffled.  'Why the hell would a Prius be GREAT in the snow?  It's like a VW, only lower to the ground!'

Not that I'm complaining about my Prius.  Even with all the recalls, its the bitchinest car ever.  Great mileage, roomy, nice drive, you can sneak up on people in grocery store parking lots and scare them for fun, and just being in it feels both futuristic (cause of the cool display that tells you everything you ever wanted to know) and smugly earthy, because - you know - I care about the planet and carbon emissions, and you don't.  I know someone's got to do something about it and that someone is me.  We're in a club.  Us Prius owners.  The rest of you aren't in the club and don't care as much as we do.  Probably shop at Wal-Mart, even.  That's how much you care.

So anyway...  I'll call the venue (which is South of St. Louis) and I'll ask them how they'd feel if I'd opt NOT to drive in a snow storm. 

And then, if they say, 'Well, no we wouldn't want you to risk your lives to come and play the show we've busted our asses to put together for you, and pulled in all the favors and extortions we could to guarantee you a great audience like your agent said we had to or he'd break our knuckles, and got you that radio show and everything by telling 'em about your agent and knuckles and all, no, don't worry about it.  We'll watch 'Idol' and call it a night' - IF they say that - then before he's awake, I'll probably completely LIE and tell him they called me and cancelled the show. 

Because, you see, only one person can handle Adventure Boy. 

Teacherously Devious Girl.  (smirks evilly while coffee cup steams gently on the desk, next to blue prints of future treacheries)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Answer # 30 - The Window had Closed

There are some windows that open briefly, something or other flies in - maybe a butterfly, maybe a bee - and the interior is altered.  Briefly.  Or maybe forever.  Maybe the window gets stuck open and a swarm fills the room and sets up shop in a brown drippy blob on a lamp shade, and forever after, at Christmas and birthdays, the tale is told of the day the bees came.

I was a kid, in my backyard in southern California, watching a swarm of swirling bees - both my dogs chasing the thing, barking and yipping - my brother and I standing at the sliding glass door, terrified to open it, but cracking it anyway, just in case we might get the opportunity to slam it shut and run, screaming.

The day the bees came.

Windows open.  Butterflies flap their wings... windows close.  Dogs yip.  Shirtless teenage boys with sideways caps walk down the streets in search of open doorways filled with silhouettes of winking (one eye shut, one eye open), long-legged girls, while smaller children stand at sliding glass doors watching bees swirl and then land on the garage roof in back of the house - all together, in a blob the color of dark honey, bees dripping off the gutter..

Why did this happen?

Now I know they were following a queen who'd gone willingly, or who'd been forced to leave her hive.  The bees, I mean.  They gathered all around her on the roof, not knowing what else to do.  Then, I didn't know that a window had closed.

For a dear friend of mine, a window closed yesterday.  And another won't open for a while.

Dogs will yip.  The snow will swirl.  It's coming tomorrow, and we'll have to drive straight into it, due West.  And my friend is due East.  And the snow will roar over us, as we drive, gather strength and head straight for him and his house on the hill where the windows will all be closed. And I don't know why, but all I can think of are bees in the backyard, tapping on the sliding glass door.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Answer #29 - In a Boat, Obviously

We had this idea that we'd raise chickens last Spring.  We have an old, defunct wooden sailboat in the front yard with a gang plank coming out the side of it, and of course, I thought, Let's put the chickens in the boat! A boat house for a hen house! Then every morning, I open up the gang plank, and chickens walk down it, all in a row.

My own little Fellini movie.  Every morning. 

This seemed like a great way to start the day.  Especially if I could talk a couple of them into wearing little top hats or riding a little chicken-sized unicycle or something.  Or just standing perfectly still on one foot, once every hour or whenever a frat boy rode by on his Cannondale.

The idea was squashed by someone else's practicality.  There are health hazards, apparently, with the by-products of live chickens in a boat, and 'who's going to clean up the mess every week?' and 'they need to have a practical hen house that's accessible..'

No, they need their own boat.

Last time I was in Key West there were chickens everywhere... at the airport, walking around the table and pecking the dust while I was eating at that groovy restaurant.. hanging out on the corners with fancy blue tufts and such.  These were exotic chickens from all over the Caribbean and beyond.  Walking paintings, walking metaphor, kinetic poetry... by products...

But what of Chickens and Tropical Storms?  What would be the best way for a forward-thinking chicken to ride out these watery Smitings?
Think on it.  They'd have fared much better these past years, what with the storms and all the flooding if they'd had their own boats.  And then, when the calm returned, they could open up the little gang planks and stroll back to the beach.  And every hour or so, stand perfectly still on one foot.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Answer #28 - Rhinoceri love beans

Well, perspective is a thing, huh?  You think she's in love, but she's maybe just tolerating.  This is an easier state to pull off than many of us would like to admit.  Looks like love but it's really just tolerance.

20 more pages in, that's where we are.  In the farthest wilds of Iceland, in cities whose names can't be pronounced by those of us without the ability to find the umlat on the keyboard, Eileen Myles is slightly annoyed.  Still wide-open fascinated, in as much as her scruffy black cool will allow, but irked.  It's been raining.  Alot.  No busses.  Her eloquence is jacking with me, happily.. rough and tumble, stuff of bright light...   

"Most likely we travel to exist in an analogue to our life's dilemmas.  It's like a spaceship.  The work for the traveler is making the effort to understand that the place you are moving through is real and the solution to your increasingly absent problems is forgetting.  To see them in a burst as you are vanishing into the world.  Travel is not transcendence.  It's immanence.  It's trying to be here."

No, this blog is not a book review.  I lack both the qualifications and commitment - but for reference, it's The Importance of Being Iceland, and I have a strong desire to spend the rest of the day reading it - followed by the poetry of his Icelandic travels by my friend Duke Lang.  My own writing brain is in serious need of a jolt of sorts- possibly a couple of car batteries and some well-placed clamps.

I'm a traveling musician.  She's captured my own analogue, though I couldn't have conceived of it in these terms. But immanence is what we're all reaching for - those of us on the road, I think.  Trying to be here.  It's never as easy when I'm home, pacing from room to room, scratching my head, thinking 'I should write,' while the phone rings and the cat glowers and the thud thud thud from the studio shivers the joists.

I've picked up 5 shows since Friday.  This is a good thing if immanence is what I'm striving for.  I'll get it in spades, as the shows stretch from Belfast to Wisconsin to Victoria BC.  If you're ever passing through - the year's tour schedule is on Myspace.  It's a long list.  A measure of success?  Hm..

I started this blog keeping points - points of progress in this music business.  Step ups and set backs.  But a friend pointed out that reducing my life to a series of daily points on some grizzly ladder of success was the equivalent of selling my cow to Monsanto.  In return for magical, genetically-altered and non-proliferating beans.

Little did she know that magic beans are what I've always wanted.

Just not from the Monsanto death squads (with the happy Hallmarky Farm Family commercials.  The farm family 'actors' are actually played by zombies, just so you know).

So is it immanence? Or what's the point?

In reality, things are going pretty well.  Some people are interested that hadn't been prior, and I feel a fairly strong compulsion to plow through a handful of brick walls like a rhinoceros - to get to the shiny bean of folk music success.  Um, beans.  Shiny.  Immanence? Transcendence?  snort.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Answer #27 - Reykjavik

40 pages in to The Importance of Being Iceland, and I'm hooked...  An American essayist steeped in what appears to be the coolest (and possibly contentedly drunkest, but like I said 40 pages in) culture ever. Although the author is an alcoholic poet that doesn't drink at this point and so might be more, er, sensitive to such things than, say, others...   I may have to emigrate to there - it looks to be a perfect combination of heaven, hell - ice and fire... and, despite melting glaciers, an expanse of beauty that is beyond breathtaking.

And, from the country that spawned Bjork, the most untouchably cool performance artist of the generation, art seems to ooze from every crag and cobble.  And that's just the natural world - the geysers, glaciers and volcanic leavings.  "Lava is everywhere here.  Like an ominous clock that has stopped.  Iceland's dark grey sweater is everywhere covered with bright green lichen.  These landscapes folding all over the country (I almost said planet) say what's churning underground, what's running things.  Unsteadiness is the country's deepest force."  The human art component appears to have permeated the whole of the culture as well, in an unbounded and flowing mess of call and response.  This is a world where snake-handling and church might mix nicely... Wild, dangerous, darkly beautiful...

If you've ever read or listened to anything I've ever written, I think you can see clearly the appeal that unsteadiness as a country's physical foundation might have for me.  Everything else is illusion.  I could really get behind a place that deals a bit more in reality than we Americans like to.  We have nearly hysterical machinations that the flag itself could float us out of any great flood...  maybe not so much in Iceland.  No such certainty.

I'll have to go there at some point not too long from now.  The Icelandic economy is in tatters, but whose isn't?  I'll have to go because I'm pretty sure this writer, Eileen Myles, is my lesbian soulmate, and if she loves it this much, I'm bound to.  Didn't previously know I had a lesbian soulmate, but now I do.  I should have known who she is for all of my adult life, but, well, as the Yin to her Yang, I'm oblivious to cultural cool.  She seems to define it. Yin and Yang.  For example, in as much as I tend to overuse of comma and punctuation (dorky), she nearly utterly neglects it (which is cool).  Despite the run-on and runaway stream-of-consciousness of some of her writings, it's an adventure I'm utterly unwilling to miss and is strikingly similar to my own leaps and distractions when conveying ideas.  So I'll, just, throw, in extra commas, to make up, for, her, lack.  Because, like I said, I think she's my soulmate.

So, Where can I get the best Putrified Shark Fin in the World?

On the downside, I've read previously that putrified shark fin is a common dish consumed in Iceland, accompanied by an extraordinarily strong liquor.

This gives me pause, but I've eaten sugared, dried squid in Seoul accompanied by Soju in kool-aid.  So I'll do what I have to do.  For both of us.  And I'll keep you posted.