Monday, February 28, 2011

Answer #178 - Caught between a Folk and a Hard Place

I watched Devil last night. Shyamalan's Devil, that is.

I can't help it. I like the guy. I like the way he's hit and miss. I like the way the critics skewer him and he still says, 'blow this. I'm still making a movie about other-worldy interlopers, loosely wrapped around a morality play... neener, neener...'

Beyond that, I just like him. So whatever he does, I'll watch it. And hopefully his financial backers bank on that fact.

The movie's about an elevator full of morally-questionable folk - none of whom deserve, necessarily, the grisly gutting that awaits most of them by the presence of Satan among them, the actual Devil, come to take their souls to the nether-regions.  And yet, it calls into question our relationship with the divine and (its) nemesis, and where in the world we actually find ourselves - at the end of the day, when it's only us and the leering conscience. And that big sky and all those stars.

Where do I stand, there in the dark, when I'm the only one to Answer for the Choices I've Made?

I honestly don't know.  I tumbled down the stairs the other day, but no one showed up to collect my soul, so possibly I'm doing okay, and maybe still have a few more tick marks in the column that Santa Claus takes note of, than the column that Beelezebub does.

But I'd rather listen to a jazz combo than Kum-By-Ya any day of the week.

Damn! I think we all know where that compass points..

Ah well... for now, I'm still buying Girl Scout cookies. That should count for something.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Answer #177 - Start the story

Out of focus. What do I do?

    Robert set the box of clouds next to the stove pipe. Small white puffs hung, silent, bumping gently against the lid. Robert's feet nearly slid across the worn carpet; years of mildew and fuel oil left slick trails where he walked - and in this way, he looked more like an ice-skater than a handyman. It was 7:00. Soon the larger clouds would gather, and with them, the winds.
   Poison comes in many forms. He knew this from childhood and secret places. And sometimes poison came accidentally and you swept it away, down the drains and from the surfaces. Pretty petals were sometimes poisonous and all manner of insects. Tethered to poison, he thought to himself. We're always so close to it. We can never entirely get away. "Best to be careful," he said to himself, as he put on the rubber gloves he kept next to the sink and squirted dish soap into the warm water.
    Robert dreamed valleys of clouds. Robert dreamed wings. Robert scaled the sides of buildings on occasion, with neither wings nor puffy cumulus to break a fall. His heart beat faster in the descent, while his fingers carefully held the rigging. He imagined the free-fall, imagined one day to jump out of an airplane and see, for certain, if the chute would catch air.
 Robert dreamed of mercury.

who knows what comes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Answer #176 - Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt

Goethe made the reference to the artistic temperment in Das Leiden des Jungen Werthers. The translation from my Dutch friend, Ben, is 'cheering from sky high or deadly sad.'

I admit, there's not much middle ground. I think, in this way, of Cohen, not unlike Beckett, and yet - plumbing the depths and the multitudinous winters of the soul for pearls or crystals. The difference - Beckett spent countless hours in dark spaces, at least too dark for me to stay in with him (heh. and that's saying something) - didn't seem to cheer from sky high - Cohen moved through the waters and up, like a dolphin, bursting into the air long enough to whisper Hallelujah.. so beautifully that the sound will carry across God knows how many bursts of solar radiation.. and diving back down again.

I'm neither of those people, and to little dispute. Cartoonish scenes and sensibilities dance in and around me half the time, and holding on to the shaky framework the world takes so for granted daily, washing its doggies and driving its buggies, whirling endless through color and sound.. it's challenging. Most of the time, I'd rather write the new world into play, rather than put on my gravity boots and trudge through the jello of repetition and cordialities in this one. But, hell, I'm a paying member of the human club and there are certain obligations that come with carrying the card. Sadly, the percentage of club members that can currently influence world legislation have embraced the notion that goo for brains in the exploitation of every possible resource is a card member privilege and the key to happiness, marching the rest of us like Lemmings to fiery, oily seas. Nice looking as we trot, though. Well, some of us. Occasionally. So lately I want out of the club some, but there's a nasty ritual that goes along with exiting. I think it involves paddles and swallowing goldfish.

As beautiful as the German phrase is, this is where things begin to go a little dark for me and Yankee philosophy comes in.

Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt can be treated with any number of small pills. We're the pharmaceutical kings of the world (say it with me: S O M A). No worries, no issue, no moon boots through jello. We Yankees have lots of clinical names for such malaise and its associated symptomology because we like categories and specialities, and we really really like people in lab coats that charge us lots and lots of money to diminish humanity to microscopic misfires of glands, serotonin uptake and peptide receptors.

We're good at this.

We need, however, to be better at hearing whale song and interpreting the chitter of dolphins.

And there's no pill for that.

So. Which is the better longitude?

I'm going with Goethe today. Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt. And leaning toward the longitude just nearer the sun. Boxes of clouds under each arm, heading to the memory of last year in the Kenai Peninsula, where the curious harbor seals followed us along the beach for an hour, just watching, just wondering, maybe even waiting for us to say something they understood.. somewhere between the sky and the water.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Answer #175 - Someone with a box full of clouds

It's a new year. It's actually February of a new year.

January blew by in a hail of hail, ice, snow and a short trip through Nebraska.

Nebraska? In January? Yep. Driving snow 6 hours there. Driving snow 12 hours back. We can never be accused of lack of dedication. Besides, we love Nebraska. The sky is huge, the people are an amazing combination of fierce independence and, despite their unquestionable ability to probably outlast all the rest of us in times of war, famine, or drought, unassuming humility.  Is this because the weather on the Great Plains is truly humbling? Maybe half the nation's problem is that half the nation doesn't get this idea? That, despite our red, white, and blueness, we really aren't the biggest, baddest entities on the planet. Ice storms are. And don't get me started on tornadoes...

I wanted a concise overview of the year. To try to draw the conclusions I'd hoped to draw at the end of touring a new album, spending days and weeks on end on the road, and, in general, making a living at music.

But I don't have them, really. The industry shifts every five minutes, not unlike my myspace and facebook pages, and I find myself charting a new course along with it. Daily. Sometimes hourly, as a friend once said.

This year, I'll finish the play, Jane. I've got a new album rolling, but it won't stick its head above the dark water for quite a while. Instead, I'll finally start the book. I've wanted to forever. It kicks at me, and tickles my ears sometimes.. it starts with Robert setting a box of clouds next to a stove pipe.

And I don't know why.
But who am I to ask?

The world in Indiana is iced today. I like the idea of a box of clouds by a warm stove pipe... anything could rise out of the mist.

Anything could rise out of 2011. I'll keep you posted.

It's good to be back.