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December, 2007 Monthly archive

Song to accompany this post:



Did you by chance hear Joanne Stone this morning on KFPA sarcastically awarding us all the politically corrected right to say "Merry Christmas" again? What a relief because despite the warm pat on the back that "Happy Holidays" brings, the blessing of "Merry Christmas" has come to represent everything I feel in my guts about this time, and "Happy Holidays" or even worse, it’s wet noodley partner, "Happy Christmas," just does not cut it. And I am Jewish too!

So then, Merry Christmas! I have been making presents for all of you. Well, all of you who read this blog anyway. Well, all of you who I think read this blog, anyway. I am most alive when I am creating, and the time has felt full, close and connected to myself, and for that I thank you. And for your various gifts, I have been monkeying away with bolts, brushes, knots and paper, pushing the kitties away during the drying times, and blowing good bursts of airlove for those affixing times. I have fogged up the windows with all my hammering; thank you cold weather for adding that resplendent wintery glow to the cold glass of our livingroom. The nog tastes better in that sort of light.

Just about back to work now, but I can’t forget the guest of honor in this post: a big hoorah of ohmagod gushing for our dear friend Alec Duffy. Alec won, as in first place won, the Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas Song Contest. He wrote, performed, and sent in a Xmas song entitled "Every day is Christmas" (playing above) that Sufjan hand-picked from 600 entries. To many who know Alec’s musical/theatrical work, beyond his on-the-knees performance at T&N’s wedding, this is not surprising, but still, but stiiiiiiill, even the chipmunks are applauding! And it’s a fuking great song. I am proud as punch, Alec. Folks, listen if you wish, forget the triple shot of espresso in your lunch pail, the song is a real smile-maker.

Big hugs and big love to you whom I know, or to you whom I have not yet met. Okay, I am self identifying as a gusher right now. Off to Salt Lake on business. More later, duh.

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Blessed be the gods who sent a new Canon Elph my way. Bless Nike, Agamemnon, Dionysus, and Athena if they were involved. Even Petra, Clytemnestra, and Broteas. Bless ’em all. And bless the gifter, too. We’re entering a new era of documentation. I’ll do my best to spare you every eensie detail of my day. But here the mittens had something to say, so, I hadta givvem the mic. And bless this mess – it’s raining on my first day with the small capturing device! How lucky. Later I will return with the wind and a gigabit of photos.

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Matzah does not approve. [hi-res, as requested]

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Neela is concerned about the writer’s strike in Hollywood, and wonders if Letterman is ever going to come back on.

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Yeah wide-angle image stabilization.
 

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Leaving dodge can feel damn fine. We spent a good bite of the weekend out of Berkeley’s bounds touring around the north bay, clicking off in SF watching a great play and searching for a place to buy a decent bowl of matzoh ball soup (no such luck), and finally closed out locally with a round of mahjong, me and my leather-jacketed friend. Although I’ve been futzing with some words about Brad Pitt’s New Orleans housing commission (oy), the history of tinsel, and the return of milkmen (I want one), today’s post is less of a cultural perspective piece or an op ed bit. Instead, I’m leaning towards a tally of sweet personal news and a brief slide show.

My weekend set out right with me finally signing up for Women’s Blacksmithing at The Crucible. Silently I’ve been planning this for over a year. The class doesn’t start until February, but hot spit am I excited. No, I’m not kidding. Heck yes, I’ll make you a spoon! Heck yes. Ultimately I want to forge a medieval helmet, and there’s a class for that too, don’t worry. Clank, furious clank. That’s right, that’ll be me holding a mallet and a glowing red orange steel flank.

Lastly before the pic show, good word in the music front. In my travels around the area this weekend the beats were perfectly provided by the new Mary J. Blige (thank you, Robin), Ashley MacIssac’s fiddle (which I have fallen back in love with) and my epic nuevo acquisition, Folk Songs by Trio Mediaeval, three Scandinavian angels whose voices place me on a floating candle in the halls of Hogwart’s at Christmas. Breathtaking. Ping me if you want a copy of any of that.

OK amigas, more of interest late.


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glory in the road.




Take a look at the second special. I mean, wow.




This barn was spectacular …




… and I found some cows inside.




… Colored strings …




… God leaning against the wall.




Dear friend Lila with lolly.




Note the specially decorated parking meter.




Talk about a family that takes “Christmas decorations” to the next level. Did F.A.O. Schwartz go out of business? This house deserves a seat on the Board of Supervisors. It’s on 21st and Sanchez in SF. Highly worth the steep climb.




Settle home with the tree.

 

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I just met a bloke called Bobby Cassidy. (Last name changed for anonymity.) He’s definitely a bloke, and he’s definitely from Belfast. No doubtabowtit. We nattered for almost an hour in ‘what used to be’ the Registrar’s office at New College this morning. See, Bobby was brought in from another department (Alumni Associations, aye) to fill in, because well, the official Registrar, he just quit. "They’re all qui’en," says Bobby, "This place is stomach’n trouble. There’s no money, ya see. No one’s get’n paid nothin’. I’d leave too see aye, but whaats the poinnatha’ then, aye? I got money saved. I’ll stay for awhile."

As we’re talking, I am loving Bobby more and exponentially more as each blobbery drip of his accent fills the empty room that only he and I are sharing. (He talked so damn loud I wondered if you heard him!) I pulled up a vacated swivel chair to get a good lean on the knee while I listened, and over the course of the hour I drifted intently and deep into his rich stories of the Irish life.

Bobby is one of fourteen children, fifteen if you count the last girl his Mum adopted who was the daughter of one of Bobby’s sisters. He told me about a revolution; the Irish one, the working class Irish one. I soaked in his earthen presence, his honesty, his spectacles that made pennies of his eyes. He was in jail for three and half years because of his affiliation with a political party that I can’t remember the name of just now. "Three annahalf years is nuthin’," apparently. Had Bobby been as smart as his brother he "mightta thought to become a priest, that way you git all yourself paid for and everybody lovesya! But for fucks, why would I wanna be a damned priest?!" I laughed with him, agreeing, and also admitting to him that I really had no idea; I am from a completely different life. "Ah you’re a Jew! ‘Dose folks have had it the worst, aye?" Even that I couldn’t exactly relate to (Woodside, California sheltered upbringing), but it’s in the heritage, and I know what he meant.

Bobby ended up in SF as a chance of chances brought him here. It was the one topic he was sore on, so I didn’t hear the full story, but he goes to City College now, works at New College part time doing admin stuff, and for the rest of it, "Aye, I am just trying to learn about the community here. The crack is 90 in the Mission! Lots to see. Lots to change." (The expresion about the crack has something to do with things being good.)

As we waxed on about Ireland, New College and the financial scandal there, the downfall of my ASC program, the lousy bread in Belfast, the many resignations and the New College staff not being paid for three months and all that madness ripe with struggle, Bobby unleashed the real science on me. (I am quoting him here, but it’s not exact.) "You know, the thing about a revolution," he says, "is that you have to have a plan if you want to make real change. You have to get inside and shoulder up with the guys you don’t like. Get a sight at the exact plan of what you would do differently. If you just come in blowin’ whisssles and pointin’ fingas’, especially if you’re on the popular side, you might take the whole thing down instead of help it reform. It’s not just planning the attack, it’s going in with a plan of what’s after the attack that’s just as important."

Ah, the plan. Really, the exact plan. We live in a society of vagueness. We sign our letters not knowing how the heck we want to represent ourselves. We often use expressions that keep us from knowing what we really mean, so we don’t have to decide (see Aleister Crowley). There is so much happening and there’s so much that has already happened, it’s easier to not try and figure everything out when we come up with our list of grievances. But when it comes to larger social reform, what I like best about what Bobby is talking about is that it impresses on me the call to action that is specific and designed. Beyond the sit-ins and the "this is outrageous!" It’s like, what exactly do you suggest? What exactly? Afterall, what makes a good poem is that it knows where it’s going.

I doubt that translated or did justice to what went down in the room with me and Bobby. I walked outta there, pant legs rolled up like a hippie, ready to set off in my direction, feeling like I had been hit with a shovel of perspective about what revolution can be. No, I’m not a Marxist, if you’re wondering. But, today I will half close my eyes and see how that conversation adjusts my vision. I’d best go write more of what I can remember. Ireland: the land of revolution and butter. (Reading my best mate’s post just now, I laughed out loud at the gaelic threads in the air today. "Woot!")

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Rising early today, I caught these sunny crackles before a mittened run.

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My handsome and talented friend, Dave Malloy (now sporting a shaved head!) is performing in a harmonious-sounding event that warrants a grand annoucement. An original kids musical! Dave will play the piano to accompany the all-kid cast of 10-16 year olds performing "Siddhartha: the bright path."

Prince Siddhartha’s journey to become the Buddha is told in parallel with that of Chandra, a modern-day San Francisco girl who, surrounded by a mass of birthday party gifts, finds herself posing similar questions about the value of material things and the reasons for human suffering.

If you’re Rudolphed out and want to hip it with some buddhaphilia, come to the Mission and see these kiddies and Dave’s shaved head. After a well-earned graduation gettaway trip to Petaluma, Harvey and I will be there in force for this weekend’s opening show. See you there.

SIDDHARTHA, the bright path
December 14 – January 6
valencia @ 22nd in SF
Buy Tickets

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I do love the holidays … I am wearing my scarf at all hours … I am decorating the fine, fine Christmas tree just purchased. ($19.95 special because the top of the tree is missing!!) It’s a good day to have a roof overhead. It’s a good day to have a fireplace. It’s a good day for new socks! Yuletide orders: go get yourself some new socks. Now, skippy!

I am finding it terribly hard to write this week, however. Maybe it was the 50+ pages in 3 days championship bout of writing that occurred last week. Gee, let me think. Yah, that probably has something to do with it. But, I keep hearing the mumble of my old painting teacher from college. So confident as he sipped a foo foo coffee drink with a hand-rolled cigarette, he would say (please add British accent), "A good arrrrtist works when he doesn’t want to." GD him, snobby pumpkin head, but he’s right. And so I’m here. Writing today, despite the slow move to words. (It’s taken me 10 minutes to write this much … lots of deleting, you see.)

I’ve read my thesis about 197 times since last Friday. Is that too much? ;) Even tonight I read it aloud again. And again tomorrow maybe. Over breakfast. Been meditating on the concept of Finished lots, too. I finished this thing, this degree thing. Yep, uh huh. Snap, took care of that! And I finished this thesis thing as well. And just like my good friend prognosticated, of course I’d wait till the last possible moment to really write it. Duh, I’m that kinda punk! But now, victory’s wind blowing in my hair, like a rowdy climber touching the cowbell at the top of the route, I’m gleaning special righteous satisfaction from my completed work, and the re-reading, however indulgent, is super ducky and rewarding. Plus, there were some epic moments in there, people! A few sentences were nailed perfect, lacking nothing and conveying everything. Crafted pristine, like that quick inevitable click that Dickinson has. (back patting has commenced.) Damn, a good sentence makes me so happy. We’ve talked about this before; it’s a good topic.

More will come, I am starting to feel the blood in my fingers again.
 

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