Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
To escape the “Voice of His Generation” title that was thrust on him by the media, Dylan, always a chameleon, created a number of tantalizing identities through the years, smoke screening his fans, but also adding to his mystique, a consequence he didn’t foresee. All he really wanted was to develop his craft as a songwriter, go out and sing his songs, then return home and raise his family.
The most beautiful part of this book is a three-page description of New Orleans, in which he paints an impressionist image that we can not only see, but also touch, hear and smell. I’ll buy this book just to read that section over and over.
“In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions. There’s only one day at a time here, then it’s tonight and then tomorrow will be today again. Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it. After a while you start to feel like a ghost from one of the tombs, like you’re in a wax museum below crimson clouds. Spirit empire… The devil comes here and sighs…” *Dylan’s characterizations of the legendary folksingers who lived and worked in Greenwich Village during the early Sixties are also excellent. I’ve often regretted that I was born about ten years too late and 3,500 miles too west to have been a part of that scene. Instead, I was a pale, skinny, red-haired, bookish folksinger feeling out of place in the land of the Beach Boys and tan, leggy blonds who read nothing but Glamor magazine.
Fortunately, I found creatures like myself in places like Isla Vista (UCSB) and Haight-Ashbury. And of course, I had my friend JP Deni, sharing conversations about folk music, philosophy, politics, eastern thought, and smoking the occasional doob. But back to Dylan…
I know he’d hate this, but this autobiography reminds me, in a funny way, of Harpo Marx’s, Harpo Speaks! Through the years we have listened to Dylan’s words and have tried to find hints of the man inside the prose. Now, he tells us about himself in an honest and clear style, yet still retaining the intangible imagery that is pure Dylan. He demands that you visit his life at his pace and in his time. To some, it might seems as if he’s rambling, but I think he’s telling us his story much the same way that he might if we were sitting with him over a bottle of wine. More than anything, what is revealed in this book is that Dylan, the “eccentric poet”, was more like us than we thought. He probably still is.
I’ve said it for years: Bob Dylan will be remembered as one of our country’s great poets.
*Copyright © 2004 by Bob Dylan
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
After everyone went to bed, I poured a glass of wine, lit some candles, cozied myself into my wingback chair that sits by the fireplace, put the faux mink throw over my lap, and sank into the all-encompassing pleasure of reading, a pleasure I have denied myself of for too long.
I began with Singing Lessons. I’m already halfway through it. How many evenings have I spent sitting on living room floors, the room illuminated by candles, the air filled with sandalwood while listening to this great artist’s recordings? How many times did Deni, Dee and I sing Suzanne to, or with each other? I thought this book was going to be the usual trek down a psychedelic Memory Lane, but as soon as I read the first paragraph, I knew I was in for something much more moving and poignant. In Singing Lessons, Judy takes the reader along on her journey of healing after her son’s suicide in 1992.
A thick hole of despair descended, through the numbness of the
knowledge: the worst had happened, the worst was happening,
the worst would continue to happen each and every day of my life.” *
The news of Clark’s death came as a shock to me tonight, because I’d always related to her song, Born to the Breed. I felt we shared a common bond, as singer-songwriters of the Sixties, as teen mothers trying to justify a career during a time when women didn’t have careers, as survivors overcomers of abuse, and as dreamers of peace.
Of course, the book’s not all about her dealing with grief—and yet it is. Judy relates her life story, braiding Clark around and through every aspect of her existence in a way that only a mother who has outlived her child has the right to do. In a very real way, it serves as a love letter to her son, the last words she never got to say. In a profoundly intimate way, Judy renders herself utterly vulnerable to her readers and suddenly her songs, those we have heard throughout the years, become the window through which she allows us to view her. I’ll be finishing this book within the next few hours; I found it very hard to put down.
but to go off with him and travel in his company.”
Friday, February 17, 2006
I remember at the time of my mother’s sudden, unexpected death last year, I was out for some reason and in my state of shock and grief, and distressed over the financial burden and all of the details that surround a family death, I inadvertently drifted toward the lane next to me on Perkins Road. I caught and corrected myself, but when the fellow in that lane (some yards back, I might add) drew up next to me, he flipped me off, with an expression on his face that I can only liken to the face of a Tolkien Orc.
Then there was one of my detractors (read "turncoat fans") who, after having read my blog entry about Mom’s death, left a hateful comment about how I abused and neglected her and was glad that she was dead. While our relationship had its troubled times, my mother and I also loved each other very much and I’d taken very tender care of her those years she lived with us preceding her death. Reading this person’s comment was so hurtful, and it came at a time when I was completely vulnerable to attack, that I responded only with, “Your ugliness has hit its mark. I hope you’ve gained some happiness for it.”
What makes a person act so unkindly? It has been my experience that, usually, even the nastiest people follow an unspoken code of calling a truce in certain extreme situations, like honoring an emotional DMZ.
Conversely, I remember back in the early 80s after I’d come home from the hospital following major surgery. I could hardly walk without help. I lived alone in those days and while recovering, I lay on the couch in the den, where the telly was situated. It was a long hall that led to the living room, a trek I made only if absolutely necessary. The day after I came home, the doorbell rang, so I shuffled down that endlessly long hall and through the living room to the front door. It was a woman whose car had died and she wanted to know if she could use my phone. I let her in, explained my situation and excused myself to return to the den. After she made her call, she called out a thank you to me and quietly let herself out. The next morning the doorbell rang again and when I got to the door, I found sitting on my front step a potted plant and an anonymous thank you/get well card from the woman, who was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have to do that, but her act of kindness is something I’ve never forgotten.
The thing is, kindness takes a lot less exertion than meanness. It requires less work and less energy, but it pays itself back extravagantly. “What goes around comes around,” as they say. I’m a firm believer in the threefold law that states that whatever we put out comes back to us three times over. I’ve seen this law at work throughout my life and I generally try to live by it. No one’s perfect though, and I sometimes have to check myself and consider that the egg-brain who just cut me off might be going through something that has made them temporarily absentminded. And even if that’s not the case and they’re just driving badly, the knowing smile I give them almost always elicits a sheepish smile in return, and they begin driving better. How easy is that?
Of course, there are dicks out there who just don’t give a crap about anyone, but I think it’s important to keep our focus on ourselves and be self-accountable for our own actions and reactions. Their lack of niceness doesn’t make us respond in like manner, we choose to do so, and I’ve learned that people who are unkind are people who have been hurt. Unkindness is a defense mechanism, one that I enjoy disarming. It’s not always easy.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I heard on the news last night that, on an average, we humans emit 6.6 tons of methane gas —EACH— every year. Wow. That means the I must be responsible for at least 8 tons. I don’t know of many people who will disagree with me.
Too bad we can’t find some way to use our own emission to fuel our cars. Now that’s ecological balance!
- When was the last time Ibuprofen actually helped your morning arthritis?
- Salon/Spa or Beauty Parlor? (for the men, Salon or Barber Shop?)
- What sounds best to you, making love three times in one hour, or one time for three hours?
- Would you rather party till you puke at an all-night toga party, or spend an evening at home with a few close friends enjoying a little wine, some smooth jazz, and warm conversation?
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or Cocoon?
- Elemi Date or Golden Girls?
- Have you ever flirted with a younger man/woman, forgetting you're old enough to be their parent?
- Has a younger man or woman ever flirted with you, thinking you're younger than you actually are?
- The neighbor kid’s music is too loud. What do you do: a) Complain 2) What music?
- Make-out music: Boyz-2-Men, or Bread?
Friday, February 10, 2006
After I moved into my 1914 penthouse apartment in Ventura in 1997, the owner of the building at the back of our lane decided to renovate. That was miserable because it took at least six months and included jackhammers. Incessant… jackhammers… all.. day… long… It was summer in a California beach town and my bedroom windows opened onto the lane. Or, rather, they did NOT open that summer. The apartment had no AC, either. How I savored the evenings and nights after the construction crew went home for the day. And weekends! I loved the weekends, drinking coffee in the morning, sitting in bed reading the paper as the beach air wafted through the sheers.
In late 1999 I moved to Denver. Shortly after, the City started tearing up the small undeveloped stretch of real estate that separated my house from busy Sheridan Blvd. This time, it was the construction of an office building that destroyed my morning lie-ins.
When Nettl and I moved to Stillwater in the summer of 2000, we got a house on a quiet road that few people knew about. We enjoyed sitting on the front porch watching the fireflies, whilst deer, foxes, and rabbits peeked out of the cedar grove across the street. One family of rabbits nested under the holly bush in our front flower bed, and I’d gotten used to meeting the eyes of a beautiful fox late at night as I closed our downstairs blinds. And the sight of deer foraging for grass in the snow under the full moon was a picture my mind has stored away forever. I used to love watching the tortoises cross our lawn to get to the stream in the woods behind our house, and I was often wakened by the call of the cardinals in the cedars. Our bedroom window opened onto this road, and we fell asleep at night in absolute country stillness. All too soon, however, the commute group discovered that the road provided a quick thoroughfare from the evil Walmart corner to Jardot, which could deliver them to highway 51 without the inconvenience of traffic lights. It was like living on the interstate then, and quickly after, a contractor decided to eradicate the woods and the wildlife to build a blight of narrow, two-story cracker box student duplexes that sat a mere eight feet from each other.
Then we moved here, to a house considered to be in the country. The road outside our small neighborhood (only seven houses) has always been used by the pilots to get to the small community airport about two miles away, but that was no big deal. Even the airport has been welcome, with only an occasional private jet and the OSU team jet that flies out only when there is an away game. Hey, in a town like Stillwater, that’s reason to pull out the lawn chairs and wait for the show! But mostly, it’s the OSU pilot training planes, which Joel and I enjoy watching on Summer evenings from the lanai. Now, the military has discovered our little airport, and while I don’t mind the increased jet traffic, I do mind the widening of the road, which has already piqued the interest of commuters looking for a way around downtown traffic. Already, the ambulance sirens have increased, which I really shouldn’t beef about, I guess.
But the past two days have been full of construction noise, and getting in and out of our neighborhood is growing more and more difficult. I don’t mind city noise, but the heavy equipment really gets on my nerves.
Time for a second cup of coffee.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
It’s one of those Geor3ge nights. He should be here drinking this bottle of red wine with me. We should be talking about music, and women, and the simplicity of life as viewed through the bottom of a wine glass between pals. I’d even let him use our good stemware. And there’d be tortilla strips and guacamole on the coffee table, and Dylan on the stereo. And I’d tell him how much frickin’ work it is to type and format his name every time I have to mention him. We’d poke a few jests at each other, then put in one of his weird-assed movies just to watch the director’s cut. Like that night we watched Cannibal! The Musical. We’d gotten into a friendly little competition over who could introduce the other to the most outrageous cult film. He made me sit through Cannibal! (which I loved, despite how revolting it is) and I forced him to endure Baxter (which he hated, no matter what I said).
Those were the days, er, nights. Getting soused on brandy or wine while I told him all of the reasons why he really didn’t want a cigarette just because he was drinking. Nettl, knowing how we got when he dropped by unannounced, just went to bed and let us do our thing. I miss his convoluted wisdom, his seeming nonchalance, his quiet brilliance, his fucking weirdness.
Damn it, damn it, damn it! Why’d he and Noelle have to go get lives and leave Stoolwater? How dare they graduate and grow up! The worst thing about living in a university town is that everyone is temporary. I actually daydream of the time when they’ll come spend some time with us after we’ve moved to Vienna. Thank the GigaGoddess for the Internet.
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
So I’m sleeping, right? Nettl, Joel, and the kids leave without a bit of it registering in my kipped out brain.
And I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming that there’s a party at my house (not this house—one I’ve never seen before). It has a large family room and bar, with a beautiful computer on a desk, a huge set of bookshelves on one wall, and basically all the things that keep little me happy. The girls from The Cat Clinic are at my party, along with Nettl and the kids, of course, Ville, and some people I don’t recognize.
John Denver is there too, looking through my books and asking me if I have the lyrics of one of his songs called “Trees”. I tell him that I don’t and add, “You wouldn’t find them in there anyway”, and I go to get some wine.
He follows me, still bugging me about the lyrics, and I tell him that if he’ll get me a glass of wine, I’ll look the song up on the computer. He says “Fine” and we go about our tasks.
He then comes to me with an empty bottle and tells me he drank it all, and I tell him there’s more in the bar. “In fact,” I say, “There’s a big bottle of Riesling over there; just bring that over.”
I try to look up his song lyrics and can’t (there is no John Denver song by that name that I know of, although I found this morning that there is one called, Alfie the Christmas Tree and he was the spokesman for the “Plant A Tree” program of the National Arbor Day Foundation, but I’m not aware of any of this in my dream).
He brings me the bottle of wine and I see that he’s also consumed half of that, but I pour myself a glass and we both get our guitars and start to make up a little song called “Toilet Flies” to the tune of the old church hymn, “Toiling On”.
The crowd draws around us in a circle, laughing, while we’re having a good old time taking turns at making up verses.
I don’t know how to describe the sequence of events that happen next, but I’ll try. I begin to make up a verse:
Somewhere in my house…"
(At this point, someone steps out of the crowd and farts a perfect pfft-FFT!)
"…are toilet flies!"
At that moment, in real life, I start to laugh in my sleep and I snort so loud that I wake myself up. I couldn’t even get up for all the laughter. I lay there a good ten minutes just laughing. All alone. Feeling really stupid.
Man, what a great way to start the day! I’m laughing just writing this.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Our Yo-Yo died. The woman at the Aquamart said it sounded like old age. In the end, it was peaceful for him and I was too sick to get depressed over it. I miss him here looking at me, though. He was such a social fish; even liked us to “pet” him sometimes. I’m considering getting another because I’ve grown really fond of Bettas, short life spans and all. Mostly, I just like rescuing them from those little cups they’re forced to survive in. I like getting one and giving him a better life in a three-gallon tank with live plants and regular attention. Yeah, I think I’ll get another.
Right now, I’m watching a program on the History Channel about space and time travel and worm holes. I love astro-physics; it’s fascinating!
Sunday, February 5, 2006
During my semi-delirium yesterday, my dream state was full of music. I dreamed that I was composing a piano concerto, and the music was wonderful. I still remember certain phrases, but I’m afraid it is destined to remain in my world of dreams. Still, it was great to be playing the piano as I can only do in dreams. If only I played that well when awake. Still, at least I play like that somewhere!
Art: David Carmack Lewis
During a recent web trek during which I looked for words we don’t hear much anymore, I kept slamming into the concrete wall of our dumbed-down society. There’s a lot of reverse snobbery out there. Site after site warned me that if I have a healthy vocabulary, and I’m not too intimidated to use it, I’ll be judged as trying to sound clever, or impressive, or of trying to insult others with my “Ten-dollar words”. Folks, these words of wisdom came from sites that give pointers to people who want to write.
Excuse me? Let me see if I understand this. Although I love words and have collected many through the years, I’m supposed to revert to my high school language level so that I won’t isolate myself from society? Why should I dumb down? Why can’t you put a little effort into improving yourself? (I hope you know that my use of “you” and “yourself” is purely rhetorical. I’m not singling anyone out here.)
I enjoy using words we seldom hear because I simply love words. That’s it. I’m not trying to show you how intelligent I am, or that I think I’m better than anyone else. I get excited over the possibilities that a large, colorful palette of words gives me. I enjoy climbing into the subtle nuance of a thought that is beautifully and creatively expressed. I think it’s easier to express a thought with the appropriate word; sometimes in simplifying, the original intent can get derailed. Someone on one site or another that I visited had this to say:
“With as rich a lexicon as English, one is able to convey subtle meaning by choosing the most appropriate word for the situation. In fact, brevity — not conceit — becomes the intent. Language can also be playful. Rather than just a means of communicating a thought, conversation can be art. Language lovely to hear, words flowing from thought and lovely to speak, a medium as rich as oils on canvas.”
Seems they agree with me.
I remember the exact moment that the love of words hit me square on the head. It was in the spring of 1978 and I was reading my current volume of the diaries of Virginia Woolf whilst lying in a hammock that was stretched between two avocado trees in my back yard. In one entry she wrote that on that particular day she had remained recumbent. Later that day I got out my dictionary and looked it up. I loved it. I wanted to use it, but I was afraid to. Instead, I got a blank book and began a diary of my own, which eventually led to this weblog. (I have nearly sixty handwritten journals and I sometimes miss that sort of thing, but I’m firmly hooked on blogging. So it goes.) For years I maintained a vocabulary journal as well. I kept it and a dictionary next to me when I read and if I came across a word I didn’t know, I wrote it in the journal, looked it up and copied out its part of speech, its pronunciation, and its definition.
Paul and I once set ourselves to the task of not swearing for a week. Instead of “Oh shit!” we had to come up with a more creative statement such as, “That was as perturbing as stepping into a vast sea of excrement!” It was a difficult exercise, but we had a good time with it and enjoyed a lot of laughter.
So I’m going to lay out a few words here that I love. Feel free to add your own.
- Elocution - the art of effective public speaking
- Insipid - lacking taste or savor
- Innocuous - producing no offense or harm
- Insidious - treacherous, harmful but enticing
- Obsequious - marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness
- Facetious - meant to be humorous or funny, often inappropriately
- Nebulous - indistinct, vague
- Flummox - confuse
- Plebeian - crude or coarse in manner or style, common
- Grandiloquent - an extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic manner, especially in language
And here’s a new word for you:
- Farktate: full (as from eating) to the point of bursting; completely satiated.
“Wow! That Whopper left me utterly farktate!”
Now get out there and use it at least once today.
Saturday, February 4, 2006
Friday, February 3, 2006
Because I’m unwell, I didn’t feel like going out today (although I wanted too very badly), and when Nettl came home, she found me lost in dreams while on the telly the characters of Star Trek TNG struggled to survive an ongoing lack of REM sleep.
What did my darling Wanze do? She placed a delivery order from Leo’s. We enjoyed Pu-Pu trays and she’d ordered a hot and sour soup for me. Brava süsse Weibchen! And now, I’m going to use my eye drops and digest my lunch while trying to get lost in sleep for as long as this misery continues.
Thursday, February 2, 2006
We now think I may have conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pinkeye. Does that mean I’ll get to wear an eye patch and look like a pirate? ARRRRRRRRRR!
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
I believe at some point we all decided to become people—we each had our own particular reason—and here we are, together on a spinning speck of dust, trying to find our way back to wherever it was we came from. And although we are very small, on a small planet, in a small galaxy, we are not meaningless. There’s not one person who is insignificant; we’re all here to do something important. I don’t mean important in the sense of creating a cure for cancer, say—there are people who are doing that, that’s their purpose—some of us are here to make a difference in our own seemingly little world of influence. And I believe we’re all just trying to do that even though we sometimes mess up and hurt each other.
Sure, there are people I’ll avoid if they have a desire to hurt me, but I even love them in a funny way because they act as a mirror in which I’m able to focus on my own flaws and try to correct them. Are there evil people? I don’t know. There are certainly people who do evil acts, but in there somewhere there must be a spark of good that simply hasn’t been fanned.
Warm fuzzies aside, I’ve met many really great people here online. Here’s a list of a few of them (in alphabetical order). If you’re not listed here, please don’t take offense, just make a comment and remind me.
2. What was your first thought?
“G__ d__ phone!”
3. What were the first five things you did? 1) Told the telemarketer, “No thanks.”
2) Went to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee.
3) Went to the bathroom.
4) Took allergy meds.
5) Checked email.
4. If you could choose anything to do with your day, what would it be? Get on a non-stop flight to Vienna.
5. If you could choose anything to be today, what would you be? Allergy-free.
6. What did you do today for someone else? I didn’t bitch out the telemarketer.
I swear to god I look like someone punched me in the eye. After reading Ville’s comment about taking generic Claritin, Lynette brought one for me from work. They’re supposed to last longer than my generic Benadryl and I was still under the care of the latter, so I waited to take it when I felt my eye start to water again (oddly, only my right eye has been bothering me).
About thirty minutes before we left to have dinner at the Rib Crib, I took the pill. It did absolutely nothing for me, and my eyes started watering and stinging so bad, it felt like I had a frickin’ peanut shell in there! I got through dinner (thankfully, rib joints give you lots of napkins; I think I used as many on my eye as I did my hands), but when we got home I looked into the mirror to see a puffy, swollen shiner looking back at me. Out came the cold pack and in went some Ibuprofen and generic Benadryl. It’s still watering and ugly. What the hell’s up with all this crap?