Modern Day Saints #2
Bettie Page. The current biopic of her life as a pin-up model shows a woman without guile or shame, in a role that some may consider a tawdry or sinful. As portrayed by Gretchen Mol, Bettie seems more at ease out of her clothes than in them, yet is never purient or sleazy. Modern (or even traditional) pornography and her "bondage" and cheesecake poses are worlds apart. Bettie was a self-made person, who had a talent for posing, and inspired (is that the right word?) millions with her animal vitality and expressive personality. That fact, along with her deep religious faith (which she never gave up), is hard to reconcile with puritanical or repressive Christianity. The conflict between sexuality and culture will always be with us, but any reconciliation will never have as much grace as the "Notorious" Bettie Page did in her pinup photos.
Different Kinds Of Fun
Swimming. Not if you drown.
Dancing. When it just flows.
Drinking. Fun for some, not for all.
Laurel and Hardy. They can make me laugh with a telephone and a can of milk.
Long distance bicycling. Tough fun.
Dates. With no obligation for sex.
Blogging. When it just flows.
"Clean up in aisle three..."
A supermarket is an unlikely locale for a breakdown, no matter how minor. The task is at hand; provide for the family, the hunter-gather knows no distractions. But when I shop my mood becomes one of reverie- remembrance of things past and things that might have been. So when I paused between the garlic and onions the other day, it was as if an old friend had called with sad news. This is my life, I thought, wasted in the produce section, if I had married x I wouldn't be here now, I'd be...
...right here of course, or in another store like this one. X is probably doing the same thing right now. The days of servants are over- besides, I enjoy being chief procurer. Our lives, at least in the basics, have certain irreducible minimums, and any 'style points' we wish to accrue are merely a matter of taste, not worth.
Was it the poignant onions? The passivity of the potatoes? Or was it the commonality of the cabbage that caused me to wallow in self-pity? I feel better when I'm in the chocolate aisle.
Coming Soon, To A Theatre Near You...
Saw Ari Alexander's documentary Screaming Masterpiece tonight, a glorious mess of a film about the Icelandic music scene. Taking notes, of course, on the must-sees and must-to-avoids for the Icelandairwaves Festival in October. The striking thing about the whole thing is the broad age and style spectrum of the featured musicians and performers. A few clips from Rokk Í Reykjavík were thrown in, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they held up (I simply must get a PAL video player!) About three-quarters of the way through, during a quick shot of some club goers, I was startled by the appearance of a certain L. M. Loopy for a split second.
(Was that really her? It could have been? It was only a few frames, and only a backwards glance at that...nah...yeah! It was her.)
I can run, but I can't hide.
Junior DJ Batty
Junior high, that is. As a trusted member of the AV club (NERD!) I was occasionally pressed into service as a DJ for the lunch hour "Dance Hall". In nineteen sixty-four that was OK, especially if you attended an integrated school. The box 'o tunes that I would check out with the record player contained some real classic soul and R&B tunes: Fingertips, Pt. II, Loop-de-loop, The Monkey Time, Dancing in the Streets, and plenty of Motown. There was an unused hall near the band room and there was always a small crowd. Once in a while there would even be some action.
Cookie and Johnny had something going on, everybody knew it. Johnny was B-A-D, and Cookie was T-U-F-F. One day, Johnny was being especially bad, the "dirty dog" was one dance not allowed in school, and Johnny and Cookie would get pretty close to the line. Johnny was behind Cookie and whispering in her ear. Cookie exploded: "You want me to strip? You want me to strip? Just say the word and I'll do it." She was seething. The record player blasted "I got him back in my arms again...so satisfied...oooh!" And Bad Johnny, the always cool Johnny, looked like he had just opened a box of scorpions. Which he had.
Soon, alerted by the shouting, a group of teachers were on the scene. I took the Supremes off the box, and everybody had to go back to the lunch room (lock-down!) Dance hall was canceled for the rest of the year.
Cookie remained tough. Johnny left school (years later he was caught pulling a loaded gun on a policeman.) I went on to Senior High, and instead of listening to tunes on a record player I played tunes in bands. And the same scene, with different actors, was played out again and again. It was all downhill from 9th grade.
My God, what is this salty discharge? Is this crying? This is terrible - I care!
Immediately after I woke up this morning, I burst into tears. And I felt so confused about it... I'd thought my days of random bawling were over, that I had successfully buried the past .. but no, apparently not. And this too, after my weekend had been hugely successful. Lunch with friends, shopping, good conversation, films, total unwind-o-rama!
There are of course a number of reasons why this might have happened:
1) The whole *Monday* thing. A lazy weekend gone by, a new week starting again. Too much work at office, same old jig of deadlines and deliverables etc.
2) In conversations with various friends,. it kind of emerged that I still cared for S. Yes, I did not want to talk to him or be in touch with him or ever so much as see his face again, but I did wish him well, and maybe somewhere, I still did care. I was actually showing someone my old photographs and a couple of his pictures dropped out of a brown paper envelope. I'd earlier burned all his pictures, but I never even knew these existed. So I sat and tore them up. And then burned them. Jeez, if only exorcizing the past were that simple!
3) Last night, a very old friend proposed marriage to me. He's been around for like almost 6 years now, and he put it across in a very matter-of-fact, non-romantic way. I kind of liked it. Weighing the pro-s and cons, balancing out, like it was a deal we both could benefit from.
"We've known each other for so long, and we connect mentally, and our families know each other (so there's no problem there), and there's so much we can talk about, and we're as comfortable talking to each other as we are in silence, so why don't we get married?"
There was something very mature in the whole thing, so I guess it kind of softened the blow, as well as did not get me all shaky-kneed and stuff. Of course, it isn't everyday that people say they want to marry me (heck, it's almost been never), but I thought he did it extremely well.
I did not know what to say. I tried being funny ("Marriage? Abhi to mera khelne ki umar hai"), but I knew I was kidding myself. So I just mumbled something like... "I'm glad you considered it, but I'm not really ready for marriage yet, maybe in some years or so...."
To which reply he put forth another admirable shot, saying, "Ok, I'm going to ask you again in some years, tell me then."
So yeah, all of this. And my tears in the morning. Whew. Most of you must be thinking I'm all messed up.
Which is true.
Used with permission
Brushed Aluminum And Pressed Coffee
oh so trendy
brushed aluminum and pressed coffee
metrosexual servers- black on black
window walls on the uptown street scene
nico wanna-be (size 2) waits for some action
cheap merlot and cheese plates
saturday night in midwestern metropolis
nyc it isn't
mid'den, n [ME. midding]: a dunghill or refuse heap [Brit. dialect]
Future archaeologists may find our leavings, while copius, deficient in import. With more and more of the physical "things" that we possess and use of a globally manufactured nature, will the unique features of our local cultures become eliminated? What did you touch, or see, or use today that wasn't also used by people in other areas or even countries? What facts about our lives will our middens show, expecting a time-line of industrial progress?
Hand-made goods, those things that once were cheap and common, are now expensive and rare. The things of daily life, excepting art and hand-work, are now more and more uniform. The same could be said for culture also, although there are still vast differences between many countries of the world. History will sort itself out. But it would be sad if all of our trash was the same.
What's My Line?
It seems as if it is becoming harder and harder to define what a person is, at least in the creative fields. If everybody takes pictures, is everybody a photographer? If everyone in the whole world has a blog, are we all writers? What if you do both? And video? And performance art. And drawing and sculpture and design- both graphic and web?
Most of those doing those things (and there are many who are) aren't very good. But what of the ones that you think are? What of those "artists" that are enormously successful, yet don't impress you in the slightest? Critics are the judges? Please. History? Getting better. There are few artists who have stood the test of time that don't have at least a grudging universal acceptance of their work or, conversely, have gone through cycles of acceptance. Will the timeless greats of today be just as revered one hundred years from now? The popular writers of today, well, that's another question. Will Steven King be read in the future? How about Danielle Steele? Or Hemingway? Does anybody under 40 even know who Theodore Dreiser was?
Finally, which of these is a writer and which is not: A blogger who writes nearly every day, with insight, wit, honesty; using effective communication skills to touch others around the world or: a MFA who pursues his muse for years in cafés and seminars, writing grant applications, espousing on his passion, yet giving little of substance to the world, and what little is delivered is academic and pretentious? (If you want to read some really scary bad writing, Google "creative writing blogs".)
Something happened thirty years ago today.
The plum tress blossomed, about two weeks early. We were getting dressed in our finest clothes. We were going to go out, on an occasion that required flowers. I saw the blossoms outside the kitchen window, a few quick snips and violá! Instant bouquet. We were meeting our friends at small building that had been made in Wisconsin in the 1800s by Pioneers, later disassembled and then reassembled in Minnesota. As we gathered outside the primitive structure, the day's earlier, faux-summer warmth faded and the chill added excitement to an already lively scene.
Once inside, the proceedings began. A fine orator spoke, a singer sang a beautiful song, we spoke with the orator, kissed each other and then everyone applauded. And of course, a baby cried throughout. Later, we went over to a friend's house and had refreshments and everybody had a jolly time. Then we went home. The plum trees have never blossomed as early as that since.
The Weaver and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary today.
An Orangutan with a Helmet
Forty feet between me and Mother Earth. The wind was blowing and the rain had just started, thus the pole was slippery and wet. Miss V, the facilitator, had stated a few moments ago, "If you're nervous, the pole will shake, so don't be!"
I didn't trust the harness, and come to think of it, I couldn't feel it. In order to calm my nerves, I began to sing:
Sometimes I feel I've got to
Run away I've got to
From the pain that you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I've lost my light
For I toss and turn I can't sleep at night
Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I'll run from you
This tainted love you've given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that's not nearly all
My fellow participants revelled in my attempt at courage and sang along down below where they were safe. The purpose of the exercise was to challenge ourselves (obviously). I certainly did that, given the fact that falling from a great height is an uncomfortable notion to me. I attempted to stand on top of the pole, but I fell and had a Peter Pan moment.
However, I'm quite proud of what I did. I nearly didn't go through with it, but thanks to Soft Cell, I made it!
with forefinger and thumb we let the water run
the absent minded accomplice
losing track of time
caught off guard by the bathtub boiled over.
most people don't take baths in the morning
or eat breakfast
i like both.
and yes, me with enough time to read the paper.
time is everywhere like advertising
and time is a human invention
after all, most inventions are human.
sometimes i feel as though time has frozen
when really it is more like the basketball
in the back of a car
the illusion of frost
masking the gentle hiss of deflation.
with ring-finger and thumb
we dig for a plug like a yellow journalist
the haze created by the hot water in the small bathroom
makes nakedness uneasy, unnoticed.
i will be home again,
some time soon
when love and time are interchangeable.
i gave up watches
when i found i wasted too much time
watching my watches
killing time is killing yourself
and you in agreement.
it was in my youth that i discovered
that the bathroom existed in its own dimension
outside the realm of human time.
it is one of those discoveries widely understood
without being discussed.
for example, there are no clocks in bathrooms
to bathe you must remove everything from you
and the water only gets cold when you start to think about it.
with middle-finger and forefinger
you've clicked on the fan
the haze dispersing
and you looking at my body and blood and me
contemplating the rift in my two dimensions
and me softly wondering, "et tu, bruté?"
Used with permission
Anoka Is For Lovers
'Tis spring and love blooms anew.
We've opened up the side porch for the season, it is only about 120 square feet, but having it usable again makes the whole house seem much larger. People-watching is good from the porch, you are almost invisible and having a busy sidewalk only 20 feet away insures plenty of action. The "cunning linguist" of a few seasons ago will not be forgotten (they were in a car, but it was fairly obvious what transpired); the usual pubescents in various stages of infatuation are a regular occurrence.
But we had a new twist the other day. When out on my constitutional, I passed by an attractive couple who where in their early thirties. I had gone in and was reclining in the aforesaid porch when I saw the same two, down on the next block. The stopped, turned to each other and began to "make-out". On the sidewalk, in broad daylight, and for a long time. They were engaging in what I believe the English refer to as "a proper snogging."
I was just about to get the garden hose when they reluctantly separated and turned down the side street. If this kind of thing keeps up, we might get the same reputation that the neighboring town of Coon Rapids ( yes, that's the real name) has- "Gomorrah of the North".
I must apologize for my post-title to the Great Commonwealth of Virginia, which, as you may have heard, is also for lovers. I'm certain they are a bit more circumspect in their amorous behaviors.
Officer Sivanich was the Minneapolis Police Department's School Safety Patrol liaison for many years. Tens of thousands of school children knew him for the safety lectures he would give each year to all the elementary schools in the city. The School Safety Patrol consisted of those students who would raise and lower the "stop" flags at crosswalks. Officer Sivanich or "Officer Spinach" as the younger students would say, was well liked- indeed he was possibly the only positive aspect of the police that many youngsters ever received. Now, there are police at every school. Then, it was one cop for all the schools. Recently, this obituary ran in the Minneapolis paper.
Tens of thousands of other people like him, in thousands of other places, have performed many of the same services as he did. He was a civilizing influence, he made a difference, and, helped by his instructions, we never had an accident at a school crossing.
On Exploding Cats And Related Phenomena
Workers in veterinary clinics have a name for it: "Exploding Cats". No quite as gruesome as it sounds, but a spectacle to be sure. When a cat has lived in isolation, never having seen a dog or other animal before, it is quite liable to "explode" in a fury of clawing, writhing and spitting. In the wild, it is an effective survival technique. Cats that have be acclimated to other animals usually take a calmer, more calculated approach to such a situation.
Sometimes the human animal has its explosive episodes as well. The ancient Norse Berserkers were renown for the fits of mayhem of which they were capable. The modern human, sociopaths and psychotics aside, will sometimes vent with a flurry of hurtful words and cutting insults. Is this also a defense mechanism? It is certainly an effective means to drive others away. And when it is regrettable (which is usually the case), what steps can be taken to prevent its recurrence? Are the neural pathways too deep, in a too primitive a section of the brain to allow change?
People sometimes will change. Not all at once, and not completely. But they will change.
Her Mother's Daughter
At the job-site for a new restaurant, I met up with one of the owners to discuss the sound system installation. He had brought along his teen-aged daughter. I had known him for years, from way back in my show-biz days. The other owner, his wife (who was not there), I had known longer.
As we discussed the mundane, yet germane, topic of routing wiring in a plenum, I caught myself looking at his daughter. She was petite, with deep brown eyes, and her appearance suggested that she was even younger than her actual age. I had a strange feeling- not exactly deja vu, but something similar; I could sense that my mind was trying to match her visage with some stored facial memory.
And I knew exactly what it was, of course. She was her mother's daughter, after all. Her mother and I shared an Aunt and Uncle (we had no blood relation to each other.) I would see her mother at my cousin's birthday parties when we were both children, her mother was about five years younger than me- I thought of her as "one of the little kids". And now it was as if the years that had passed had never happened, looking into a face from my childhood, a real person, not a dream or a memory.
As we continued to converse, this doppleganger became involved with the conversation, she was whip-smart and perceptive. There are some people who, even as children or young adults, make an indelible impression. I have a feeling that I will see that face often, as she makes her mark upon the world.
Dog Came With The House
I'm not much of a mover. I've only lived in five different houses in my 5+ decades. Some people live in more places in a year. Throw in the fact that one move was less than a mile, and that another move was NEXT DOOR, and you can see that I tend to stay put. When I did the move next door the people leaving had a dog. This dog did not take kindly to moving, and his people asked us politely: "Would you like to take the dog?"
Well. We had known the dog pretty well, he was very territorial, and we weren't living in exactly the finest of neighborhoods. So- OK. Terry (the dog) became part of the family. He was an unexceptional dog, not too disciplined, but very enthusiastic. The yard was already his, and since it was fenced in, there was plenty for him to do. He was a mostly outdoor dog, he was definitely not a lap-dog. He never made a mess in the house, and was quite sociable. When he finally succumbed to age we had him put down.
At about the same time, we had to move. We bought a "fixer-upper", not next door this time, and had our hands full when we moved. You see, this house also had a dog. A little lap-dog. An indoors dog. A yapper and a hisser. This dog, which only weighed a few pounds, had managed to destroy every square inch of carpet and flooring.
Of course, the vacating resident asked: "Would you like to take the dog?"
Can I be your 1%? The smallest part of your daily life, that person on the fringe, one that can give you a smile or a chuckle? I promise not to become 2%. If not 1%, then how about 1/10 of 1%? That would leave room for hundreds of others, I wouldn't take up much of your space at all. How about 10% for a day? that would be like a date, I suppose. A speed date? I guess that would be like 1%. For a day.
50%? No, that's far too much. Maybe 20% tops, if we were all lovey-dovey. Ok, 25%. 50% for a honeymoon. 100%!? I'll be your everything? Uh, um, er...you know, its been really nice talking to you, we'll have to do this again sometime, I've got to be running...
What % are you of someone else? What % of someone else is you?
h e a r t b e a t s
I am such a good flirt in hindsight. I think back over conversations and see, with that clarity of not being in the moment, all these little openings where I could have done or said something very cute and full of subtext. Things I certainly would never think of in the actual midst of the conversation. I never can think too well on my feet in those instances that count. Only in my head, after the fact, am I a witty master of elocution and seduction and suchlike. And the problem with English is that there is no difference between friendly love and romantic love in our verbs. Someday I want the real thing. Someday I want to walk into the ocean and just let go. And when I awake from my surreal world. I realize that I am alone, in my room, missing him, not knowing whether he is alone, in his room, missing me too. Possibly one of the greatest moments in my life will be remembered as follows:Drinking coffee in an empty university classroom, comparing ex-boyfriends, friends with benefits, and steamy sex. Laughing at our libidos and stupidity. Empty lipstick tubes and hickeys. And buying peppermints and cigarettes.
Why?Because we could.~RS
Used with permission
while you are away
I dropped the Weaver off at the airport today.
my heart comes undone
She had a spring break from work, and she decided to spend it it a rain forest.
I took my dinner alone tonight.
in a ball of yarn
When she's home, sometimes I don't say much at dinner.
the devil collects it
When she's gone, I never talk at all.
with a grin
Sometimes we will talk after dinner, for an hour or more.
When we first met, we talked for days and days.
in a ball of yarn
I guess everybody slows down a little as they get older.
he'll never return it
She'll be back friday.
so when you come back
And then we can talk again.
we'll have to make new love
"Unravel", by Björk
I started building the house when I was very small. One brick each day. At first, before I had a wall done, I felt overwhelmed by life. All those sensations, they all poured in like a steady rain. Nonstop. Then, As I grew older, and the first walls were complete, I had some peace. I was sheltered from the wind, and when I finished the ceiling, the sun. I made the house bigger, I added to my now much larger house, more rooms, more bricks. And now, a fine mansion. Built by hand. Almost nothing gets in.
But I'm lonely. Cut off from the world. I can't stop this building. No more raw sensations. Everything new must seep through the cracks in the mortar. And the house is strong. One brick each day. Each brick one day.
Are You Still Up?
Are you? I thought you had to work in the morning, is everything all right? Is it something I said? Is it something I didn't say? Are you like me, waking up with a million thoughts on your mind, none of which can be resolved, none of which really matter? What is the matter? Life can't be exactly as you want it to be. Is life nothing like you want it to be? What can I do to change that? What can you do to change that? Sweet oblivion, is there no respite in dreams? Go to bed, let the morning deal with it. Golden slumbers, dear. When you awake you will be as new. I promise. Are you still awake? Sleep... Sleep... Sleep...
Rosemary, in a cracker. With a bit of Cheddar Cheese, the Rosemary speaks up, as if to say: "I am the focus of this appetizer!" Then, the preparation of the meal. Garlic and Oregano, marinating the Steak (with a little help from the Worcestershire.) The Steak quietly sizzles in the broiler.
The Apple crisp slowly bakes, releasing a cloud of Cinnamon vapor. The New Potatoes will float in Butter and Dill. The Baby Greens have the Red Tomatoes for contrast (with a little lemon juice to perk up their hothouse blandness.) A little dark beer, and all is in readiness. I spy the Weaver driving into the garage. Simple meals are best.
Dinner is served.
They hauled away my old machine today. I had worked with it for 12 years, day in, day out, year after year. It was a pretty pricey gizmo in its day, but it could also generate a lot of income. It was obsolete. It couldn't change to meet the current business model so it had to go. I changed, so I can stay.
I had to dismantle it to get it ready for recycling, I knew how, because I had taken almost everything apart and reassembled it before. You might say I had an intimate knowledge of it. So did I feel any regret? Any sense of loss? A void?
Nah. It was just a machine. Not a thing-of-itself, it was just a means to an end. And now, most of it is in a scrapyard, waiting to be crushed and sent to China, to be made into more machines, modern machines, machines that will begin their working lives, be used and then become used up.
My machine. Rust In Pieces, 1993-2006
Little Danny was, and there's no denying it, little. He was one of those guys, before the days of growth hormones, that just kind of stopped growing at about the age of ten. He wasn't a midget or dwarf, he was just small. Child-like in appearance one might say. He worked with the rest of us in the sub-basement receiving area of a large department store. His size didn't affect his performance, he was no shirker and always did what the next guy did, even more than many who were twice his size.
One Monday Danny was especially agitated. He couldn't stop talking about the great time he had that week-end. About how beautiful everything was right now. About his little white pills, with a cross carved into the top of them. The cross was there to facilitate cutting into smaller doses. Danny only need a half. Danny was feeling real big. Later on, Danny didn't need to cut his pills.
Is there anyone who doesn't know how this story ends?
The Perfect Blog
I had found it by chance, through the "next post" button. The perfect blog, or rather the perfect set of blogs, for there were over a dozen sites put up by the same author.
A middle-aged, part-time worker, she had a variety of posts spread over her various sites, posts that were concerned with happiness, culture, compassion and fulfillment. As I got further into them, a bit of her family history came out. The joy and sadness, all the things that make up a life were there, told in prose made more affecting by its artlessness rather than by any literary qualities. My oft-times silly blog seemed facile and shallow by comparison. I followed it for a few months, tempted to put it on my links list. A list of wishes. Some pleasant graphics, cutesy animations. A gentle voice that was saying: "I'm here. This is my life. These are my loves." And then she wasn't. She stopped her posting, leaving only a terse note.
I still check out those sites from time to time. I won't link them. They were just too pure, she was too sincere with her magical intentions, all of them, too perfect for this imperfect world, and my imperfect blog.
"I'd like to thank the members of the Academy, and my agent, the director and all the cast, without whom I wouldn't be standing here tonight."
Show biz awards are a form of payback. And the acceptance speeches during them are a payback for the payback. It's odd to looking back on them, for they are a product of the moment, and also not a thing-in-themselves- merely a social/business obligation. The best ones touch on things greater than the person, or the film. Not everyone has the ability to eloquently express themselves (although when the show takes place in in Hollywood one would think they'd have access to plenty of writers.) Still, mom and/or dad often make the list, occasionally a teacher or mentor will too. And if we didn't have these ceremonies, there would be kind of a void in the arts, one that mere sales or popularity cannot fill.
For an acceptance speech actually worth reading, try this.
A busy weekend, actually accomplishing something for a change! The taxes are done, went to a very funny/discomforting movie, and planned the summer vacation. There is something way too easy about reserving accomodations with the internet and a credit card. Not Toronto, Not Scotland, not even The Virgin Islands. Just a little cabin in the pines, literally a stones throw away from the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Weaver, a canoe, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and paradise. Also reserved an apartment here, but that's another story, one that will have to wait until October...
"This stocks will move"
Spam, the internet equivalent of noise, does have some entertainment value. Not reading an actual message, just reading the titles. "All the wristwatches you ever dream of" gave me sort of an existential shiver when I first read it. The idea of dreaming about even one watch, let alone all watches makes me wonder what the writer of that was dreaming of. The watch phase has seemed to have died out. For a while, about six months ago, the dominant pitch was for dildoes. Not my style, but live and let live- what ever does it for you (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) But it was the glass dildoes (scary thought!), and then the magnetic glass dildoes that had my mind reeling. Had some obscure far eastern sex laboratory discovered the secret of magnetic glass? Could I now possess a see-through refrigerator door that I could put magnets on? Is there no end to what modern science is capable of?
Of course the "Low Cost Pharmmacies" advertising "Cee-al-iss" or "Veagra" always give me the creeps. I don't think I'd buy a band-aid, much less a drug from someone who couldn't spell the name of the product he was selling.
Of late, it seems that 90% of my spam has to deal with stocks. The idea of sending one's money to a "reputable" broker is scary enough, but what the heck, why not send my retirement savings and bank account information to someone's e-mail? It looks like a sure thing. After all, I saw it on the internet!