Friday 31 (writing)

Being and Nothingness. This morning I receive an e-mail in response to a curatorial/sales and marketing position:

Thank you for your interest in employment at (institution)......We apprecaite your support for this unique (institution) involving research and education about (her) life, achievements, and ideas. (The institution's) non-denominational purpose is "to further the universal quest for spirituality and science of being -- and their effect on health and human progress."

Thursday 30

Yesterday--Ballet Somatique. I was thinking about fluffy white clouds.

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"Head of Dog, Daisy, after Renoir," Barone 8/30/01

Today, I get a phone call from the vice president of sales of an international "information management company." We have a very positive talk and we set a time next week for a face-to-face meeting--Thursday at 11:00. He says he is very impressed with my resume and he thinks I could help him 1)keep his present customers and 2) develop new relationships. I also call and leave a message for the owner of one of the top design firms in the country. That is my day (besides taking Daisy for walks and making chocolate chip pancakes for Daryl).

Wednesday 29

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I was thinking about clouds this afternoon when I was reading Blue Highways out on the back deck; these massive puffy white coulds continued to slowly slide together and apart for hours; it was like a ballet in the sky; not quite a ballet mecanique but a ballet somatique. I guess the clouds made me think of this book Daryl and I once read together night after night years ago; if you have not read and marvelled at this wonderful book, about the land of Chewandswallow, where it rains food (soup, juice, mashed potatoes, hamburgers)  three times a day, please do--you must. In addition to thinking about--and looking at--clouds while I was reading I took a few photographs of the ballet over Birch Lane today:

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" We do not remember days, we remember moments." - Cesare Pavese

Once inside the house my mood changed and I started to read a different book; thus the quote above; The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese, specifically "The Beach." The story begins with one of those paragraphs that hypnotically bring you in and will not let you go :

For some time my friend Doro and I had agreed that I would be his guest. I was very fond of Doro, and when he married and went to Genoa to live, I was half sick over it. When I wrote to refuse his invitation to the wedding, I got a dry and rather haughty note replying that if his money wasn't good for establishing himself in a city that pleased his wife, he didn't know what it was good for. Then one fine day as I was passing through Genoa I stopped at his house and we made peace. I liked his wife very much, a tomboy type who graciously asked me to call her Clelia and left us alone as much she should, and when she showed up again in the evening to go out with us, she had become a charming women whose hand I would have kissed had I been anyone else but myself.

During the thirties and forties, Pavese translated some ten contemporary American novels as well as Moby Dick, Moll Flanders, David Copperfield, and Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (He liked  Fitzgerald so much that he once confided in a letter that he didn't dare translate him, as he had not translated Hemingway for the smae reason.). He wrote his doctoral thesis on Walt Whitman in 1930 who "inspired him with visions of mixing the lyrical and the panoramic,,,a documentary art that might be politically liberating." (R.W. Flint). Italo Calvino writes in L'Europa Letteraria, December 1960:

Pavese's nine short novels make up the most dense, dramatic and homogeneous narrative cycle of modern Italy, and also -- I will add for the benefit of those who think this factor important -- the richest in representing social ambiances, the human comedy, the chronicle of society. But above all they are works of an extraordinary depth where one never stops finding new levels, new meanings.

Two sentences from "The Beach" I find underlined in my book:

We were at the age when a friend's conversation seems like oneself talking.

I began to see that no spot is less habitable than a place where one has been happy.

Tuesday 28

Favorite Things. This is one of my favorite things on the web; Terry's introduction to her site--and each and every day when I visit her I get real joy from reading and reflecting upon these few words:

this is my way of expressing myself. i'm not the best at it but someday i hope to get better

Vibration of the moment (the decisive moment). This morning I was walking with Daisy (Princess Daisy our Border Terrier) through the wildflowers here at BirchLane; weeds, mostly--milkweed and what was green and vibrant a few short weeks ago, now changing, yellowing, dying. I wanted to photograph the vibrating light in the yellowing milkweed; photograph, in fact, the buzz of the bee, the flight of the butterfly, the hummingbird here now outside the window as I write these few words. I'm not sure if it is joy or sorrow what I see today; maybe there is no emotion--just images witnessed as I walk along the path toward the intersecton where Birch Lane meets Winterberry Lane. I wonder as I walk over the decaying leaves what all this would look like from above, tree-top high, higher even, cloud-high and then soar in closer; some one image, one color to marvel at; I wish I was a bird, or an angel--if only for a second--with wings so I could leap from the tree-top and slice through the woods, skirt through the milkweed; none of this would have a name of course; it would be tree, bush, air, earth. I am feeling alive out here in the morning light; my job, I know, is to find someone for whom I can be an evangelist; singing the praises of beauty and truth found in the perfect word, the poetry of the design that matters, that makes it new. I once read that evangelism is sales done right; it is the sharing of your dream with the marketplace, and the making of history with your customer--god, I love that thought. There is no music but the sound of singing birds. The crow; caw caw. (I think of my friend in France who yesterday wrote of listening to Pere Ubu and I laugh). A squirrel rustling in the tree. This is all. I can't hear the falling leaf; I see it fall from the poplar tree. And then one more. Two. Three. Four. Damn, autumn. Snap. Peep. I wait. Watch. I'm not sure what image develops in the bath under the soft red light. So I wait. The dream image seems to vibrate to life under the solution, focusing this: someday I hope to get better. A mantra. For you. You, too. Vibrating. Later, wind. Isn't it the French who say the more things change, the more they remain the same. I think it is George Odiorne's "law" that says that things that do not change remain the same. Do not these two views suggest that, change or no, life will on; another possibility; things that do not change may not remain at all. Out of insight comes self-expectation. I am a catalyst for change and strategy is trying to understand where I fit in today's world, trying to understand where I want to be in the future, assessing the realistic chances of geting from here to there; someday I hope to get better. A compass not a map. This is the general direction I need to walk. Take along ingenuity. A vison hold this together.

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Monday 27

Publishing. Jouke writes:

personal publishing is any utterance by one person, to any amount of other persons, using any medium other than direct speech...... (and)..... We will get accustomed to audiences of one.

At the museum yesterday I was browsing in the bookstore and found a new format for BirchLane--a format I think perfect for audiences of one; and isn't this what this (BirchLane) is all about; creating a work of art that speaks to one--and I suppose that is me first and foremost; and then a journal that I hope one will read and look at and say this was made for me, this speaks to me. I had been thinking of enlarging its spine size (and will someday when I can afford to print it) but upon viewing a book on the pre-Raphaelites, I think the next issue will be perfect-bound and sized at  approximately 4 x 4 1/2 (or 4 x 6), which will allow me to both run more color photos, print more copies, and mail easier/less expensively. A wonderful photo of Sara's will introduce the issue (and probably another one of her's will close it), then a poem of my brother's, and then (and I am honored that these artists have so graciously agreed to be part of BirchLane) work of Letitia Trent (my co-editor), Laura Chester, Helena Kvarnstrom, Alaina Burri-Stone, Jennifer Rimm, Miriam Greenberg, Wade Savitt, Patti Ann McEwin, Terry Palka, Angela Gwinner, Allyson Boggess, R. Gerald Dressen, Teri Browning, Melissa Howard. This is a photo from Angela:

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Sunday 26

Making an Impression. Today we went to the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts to see the Exhibition, "Impression, Painting Quickly in France 1860--1890," which brings together 77 paintings by Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renior, Sisley, Degas and Van Gogh from 37 museums and seven private collections in 10 countries (12 of the paintings never exhibited before in the U.S.).

There is only one true way: Paint from the very beginning what you see. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, start over. All the rest in just fooling around. Edouard Manet

The show succeeds by bringing together for the first time those works that appeared most provocative and disturbing to their viewers: rapidly executed and spontaneous oil paintings that the artists often called "Impressions." It is worth noting the precursors to this movement were arists such as Corot, Daumier, and Daubigny.

People come and go on the jetty, and it is impossible to catch them. It's the same with the boats. There is extraordinary life and movement, but how is one to render it? Berthe Morisot

One way was to simplify. Alfred Sisley said "By the elimation of superfluous detail, the spectator should be led along the road that the painter indicates to him, and from the first be made to notice what the artist himself has felt."

It is an exhibiton that demands from us to study technique, to stand close to the paintings to really see the brushstrokes, the squiggles, the underpainting, the bare canvas--the spontaneity, energy, urgency--and then move back (careful of that person behind you!) to see the subject in all its glory and beauty. Here are two of many I enjoyed seeing:

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"Interior of a Cottage," 1886, Berthe Morisot, 19 7/8 x 24 1/4

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"Bathers La Grenouillere," 1869, Claude Monet, 28 3/4 x 36 1/4

We then take a guided tour through the museum's permanent collection where we are introduced to a wonderful Fragonard, "Warrior,"   painted in 1769 in primarily luscious lemon-yellow and meringue-white thick brushstrokes; inscribed on the back it says "painted in one hour;" curatorial efforts have not been able to prove this to be true but they did discover it was painted with only three brushes. We see a few beautiful paintings by Boldini and of course, spend time in the room filled paintings by Renior. The guide tells a a story about the largest painting in the museum, "Nymphs & Satyr," by Bouguereau. It hung for years behind a bar at a hotel in New York City.

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Making an impression. As we leave the museum and drive to The Bridge of Flowers   I wonder how to relate this technique to photography. I think of Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander, but how to capture not only with speed but with light and vibration. How? What is its shape?

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Saturday 25

In Prepartion.

Laforgue is best known as a poet and literary critic, but his essay (excerpts follow below) on Impressionism is the work of a writer with a strong and sympathetic interest in modern painting, and with a distinctive understanding of the role played by colour in distinguishing the modern from the traditional...

First published as 'L'Impressionisme' in Laforgue, M�langes posthumes, Oeuvres compl�tes, fourth edition, volume III, Paris, 1902-3, pp. 133-45. This translation by William Jay Smith was originally published in Art News, LV, May 1956, pp. 43-5.

Physiological Origin of Impressionism: The Prejudice of Traditional Line. It is clear that if pictorial work springs from the brain, the soul, it does so only by means of the eye, the eye being basically similar to the ear in music; the Impressionist is therefore a modernist painter endowed with an uncommon sensibility of the eye. He is one who, forgetting the pictures amassed through centuries in museums, forgetting his optical art school training - line, perspective, colour - by dint of living and seeing frankly and primitively in the bright open air, that is, outside his poorly lighted studio, whether the city street, the country, or the interiors of houses, has succeeded in remaking for himself a natural eye, and in seeing naturally and painting as simply as he sees. Let me explain.

Leaving aside the two artistic illusions, the two criteria on which aestheticians have foolishly insisted -Absolute Beauty and Absolute Human Taste - one can point to three supreme illusions by which technicians of painting have always lived: line, perspective, studio lighting. To these three things, which have become second nature to the painter, correspond the three steps of the Impressionist formula: form obtained not by line but solely by vibration and contrast of colour...natural perspective of colour vibration and contrast; studio lighting - that is, a painting, whether representing a city street, the country, or a lighted drawing room, painted in the even light of the painter's studio, and worked on at any hour - this replaced by plein-air, open air - that is, by the painting done in front of its subject, however impractical, and in the shortest possible time, considering how quickly the light changes. Let us look in detail at these three points, these three dead language procedures, and see them replaced by Life itself.

Essentially the eye should know only luminous vibration, just as the acoustic nerve sonly sonorous vibration. The eye, after having begun by appropriating, refining and systematizing the tactile faculties, has lived, developed, and maintained itself is state of illusion by centuries of line drawings; and hence its evolution as organ of luminous vibration has been extremely retarded in relation to that of the ear, and in respect to colour, it is still a rudimentary intelligence. And so while the ear in general is easily analyses harmonics like an auditory prism, the eye sees light only and synthetically and has only vague powers of decomposing it in the prescence of nature, despite the three fibrils described by Young, which constitute the facets of the prisms.' Then a natural eye - or a refined eye, for this organ, before moving ahead, must first become primitive again by ridding itself of tactile illusions –a natural eye forgets tactile illusions and their convenient dead language of line, and acts only in its faculty of prismatic sensibility. It reaches a point where it can see reality in the living atmosphere of forms, decomposed, refracted, reflected by beings and things, in incessant variation. Such is this first characteristic of the Impressionist eye.

The Academic Eye and the Impressionist Eye: Polyphony of Colour. In a landscape flooded with light, in which beings are outlined as if in coloured grisaille, where the academic painter sees nothing but a broad expanse of whiteness, the Impressionist sees light as bathing everything not with a dead whiteness but rather with a thousand vibrant struggling colours of rich prismatic decomposition. Where the one sees only the external outline of objects, the other sees the real living lines built not in geometric forms but in a thousand irregular strokes, which, at a distance, establish life. Where one sees things placed in their regular respective planes according to a skeleton reducible to pure theoretic design, the other sees perspective established by a thousand trivial touches of tone and brush, by the varieties of atmospheric states induced by moving planes.

Impressionist eye is, in short, the most advanced eye in human evolution, the one which until now has grasped and rendered the most complicated combinations of nuances known.

The Impressionist sees and renders nature as it is - that is, wholly in the vibration of colour. No line, light, relief, perspective, or chiaroscuro, none of those childish classifications: all these are in reality converted into the vibration of colour and must be obtained on canvas solely by the vibration of colour.

In the little exhibition at the Gurlitt Gallery, the formula is visible especially in the work of Monet and Pissarro where everything is obtained by a thousand little dancing strokes in every direction like straws of colour - all in vital competition for the whole impression. No longer an isolated melody, the whole, thing is a symphony which is living and changing like the 'forest voices' of Wagner, all struggling to become the great voice of the forest - like the Unconscious, the law of the world, which is the great melodic voice resulting from the symphony of the consciousness of races and individuals. Such is the principle of the plein-air Impressionist school. And the eye of the master will be the one capable of distinguishing and recording the most sensitive gradations and decompositions on a simple flat canvas. This principle has been applied not systematically but with genius by certain of our poets and novelists....

Let us suppose that instead of painting his landscape in several- sittings, he has the good sense to record its tonal values in fifteen minutes - that is, let us suppose that he is an Impressionist. He arrives on the scene with his own individual optic sensibility. Depending on the state of fatigue or preparation the painter has just been through, his sensibility is at the same time either bedazzled or receptive; and it is not the sensibility of a single organ, but rather the three competitive sensibilities of Young's fibrils. In the course of these fifteen minutes, the lighting of the landscape - the vibrant sky, the fields, the trees, everything within the insubstantial network of the rich atmosphere with the constantly undulating life of its invisible reflecting or refracting corpuscles - has undergone infinite changes, has, in a word, lived.

In the course of these fifteen minutes, the optical sensibility of the painter has changed time and time again, has been upset in its appreciation of the constancy and relative values of the landscape tones. Imponderable fusions of tone, opposing perceptions, imperceptible distractions, subordinations and dominations, variations in the force of reaction of the three optical fibrils one upon the other and on the external world, infinite and infinitesimal struggles.

There are roughly three states of mind in the presence of a landscape: first, the wing keenness of the optical sensibility under the excitement of this new scene; second, the peak of keenness; third, a period of gradual nervous exhaustion. To these should be added the constantly changing atmosphere of the best galleries where the canvas will be shown, the minute daily life of the landscape tones absorbed "perpetual struggle. And, moreover with the spectators the same variation of sensibility, and with each an infinite number of unique moments of sensibility.

Subject and object are then irretrievably in motion, inapprehensible and unapprehending. In the flashes of identity between subject and object lies the nature of genius. And any attempt to codify such flashes is but an academic pastime. 

Friday 24

Maybe it was an Epiphany. It was sudden; it was an understanding--a realization. And tonight I said I had an epiphany when I talked with Rick. He was referred to me by my friend from high school, Bob, who lives out in San Francisco and works closely with design firms around the country. Rick lives and works in Atlanta; he was, I believe, the founder of a very well-known and highly-respected design firm in Atlanta. We had a wonderful conversation and he said he "would concur" with my epiphany and that my skill set would be very marketable to design firms, bringing a "great package" and "global perspective" to firms in need of a continued, steady focus building market strategy and penetration; "a steady drum beat"  he said; I liked that image. He said how I was talking and what I was talking about came across as sincere and serious. He also said the "spiritual connection" was important. So was there magic and mystery to this epiphany? A definition:

e�piph�a�ny [i p�ff(schwa)nee ] (plural e�piph�a�nies) noun

appearance of a god: the manifestation of a divine being

2. sudden realization: a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence * It came to him in an epiphany what his life's work was to be.

[17th century. Via French �piphanie from, ultimately, Greek epiphaneia "manifestation," from epiphanein "to manifest," from phanein "to show."]

*ep�i�phan�ic [�ppi f�nnik ] adjective
*e�piph�a�nous [i p�ff(schwa)n(schwa)ss ] adjective

At night I wrote the first and only line for a poem I had been thinking of this past week, about a person's experience seeing daVinci's "The Last Supper" for the first time:

  • Sara stood and she stared, she

Thursday 23

More. This morning I find: award winning multi-disciplined design and branding studio......hiring a New Business Development Associate  as a key role in our continued market expansion. This role reports directly to the Principals. It requires an entrepreneurial creative communications leader with a proven track record in generating new business. You have to be as passionate about representing us, as we are about our creative product and services......

And I looked at more design firms here, here, here, and here. Later in the day, I enjoyed reading the entire issue of The New Yorker, "The Music Issue," August 20 & 27. I liked this:

"All my life, when I've been to see bands play, this is what I look for---I want to watch someone who's going to shock me, stun me, make me feel scared, make me feel happy, just set me alive. I want to see someone who's going to make the hairs on my arms and neck stand up, and when I see an artist like that it's unbeatable. So that's always been what I've aspired to, to be able to set people alight in some way......(She mentioned that she was reading a contemporary translation of the Bible.) "It's written in modern street language," she said. "It's got things like 'Follow this path, don't follow that path, or you'll end up on Skid Row.'" She laughed. "'Yo, Lazarus, how ya doing?'"

"Listening to PJ Harvey," by Hilton Als

Wednesday 22

Not an Epiphany---Just More Outside the Box Thinking.

As soon as I woke this morning I went outside and turned on the sprinkler.

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Then I sat at the computer, a cup of coffee in hand, and thought to myself that this was not an epiphany; it was more outside the box thinking. I was at Monster and saw this posting:

Design Studio looking for innovative, creative and new business experienced sales person. Must have experience in sales presentation concepts and implementation. Marketing background, stratege planning and knowledge of brand identity  a plus.

and this

The new business development associate will pursue and develop new business opportunities and partnerships, present our credentials, write proposals and deliver to potential clients for the close. Requirements include a solid knowledge of branding (design knowledge extremely helpful), strong writing, communication and presentation skills as well as three to five years of relevant experience and flexibility to travel as necessary.

So it was not exactly an epiphany but I wondered if here was a field where I could use not only but sales and marketing skills but my art/design skills as well. I called a friend (my old friend from high school, one of the best-known printing sales people in the country; he works with these design shops) and asked him what he thought of my idea. He thought it was a good one. He gave me the names of a few studios to look at here, here, here, here and here, for example,  and said he would make a few phone calls on my behalf.

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"In/Out, Closed/Open," August 22, 2001, Birch Lane

Before I went to bed I was thinking about some things a friend said about how we strive to make life better, how we strive for a sense of well being, how we work/want to change the world; and I took a few of her words and wrote this:

the flat
the depth
the sky
3 a.m.
we skim
the flat
the moon
air water light sky
and in a splash
the moon shatters
splinters skyward
air water light sky
the flat
the moon
toward you
and I
in foam and sand
we try
to name
each and
that laps
our toes
and feet
hope faith
love peace
not war
too long
we wait
the white waves
we think
we say
did you see
the lake
it seems
to sigh
the flat
the depth
the sky

Tuesday 21

Thinking Outside The Box. But first this from John Lennon and Yoko Ono (because tonight I watched "Behind The Music" on VHI and saw first a story about Pat Benatar and then a story about John Lennon):

Oh my love for the first time in my life
My eyes are wide open
Oh my lover for the first time in my life
My eyes can see

I see the wind, oh I see the trees
Everything is clear in my heart
I see the clouds, oh I see the sky
Everything is clear in our world

Oh my love for the first time in my life
My mind is wide open
Oh my lover for the first time in my life
My mind can feel

I feel the sorrow, oh I feel the dreams
Everything is clear in my heart
I feel life, oh I feel love
Everything is clear in our world

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, "Oh My Love," Imagine, 1971

Today I was thinking about thinking outside the box.

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A three-dimentional box next to an aletered image of first Autumn leaves.

And today I thought I need to think outside the box and I wondered if I could shape my summary of qualifications (Broad-based sales and marketing background. Demonstrated expertise in territory development, database marketing, direct marketing, market research and analysis, new account development, consultative selling, relationship building and customer retention. Superior leadership, project management, interpersonal and spoken and written communication skills. Proven ability to motivate and gain cooperation of support staff. Extensive knowledge in Print Production, Publishing, Art & Technology) and open a door I had not thought previously penetrable. So today I applied for positions at the MFA in Boston, MOMA and MET in NYC, advertising agencies in New York City, Boston, Springfield, Nashua.  

Monday 20

Fevelatory. My friend Tara, the award-winning garden designer and lecturer from Stone Mountain, Georgia writes to me this morning: "I love words and one of your links had quite a word, fevelatory, which I knew must be a typo but on the off chance I looked it up.  Not a word in my dictionary.  However, on the way, dithyrambic---"statement or piece of writing in an exalted impassioned style usually in praise of something."  1973 Miriam-Webster. Can't wait to create a definition for fevelatory."

I believe the link (author) for the BIBLIOTHEQUE DE DRACULA  misspells Paul Feval's name, mistakenly replacing the a with an e, but it is where I began my journey tonight in an effort to define fevelatory.

Les drames de la mort : Paul Fevel (1856)
Le Chevalier T�n�bre : Paul Fevel (1860)
La ville vampire : Paul Fevel (1875)

And then Google also turns up this (most of what I found was in French):

Vampire City by Paul Feval

Review by Paige Haggard

Written over a hundred years ago, Paul Feval's Vampire City is a jewel among parodies, a satire that not only lampoons Ann Radcliffe's fantastic Gothic stories and their long run of knock-offs (from bluebooks to penny dreadfuls) but caricatures the culture that spawned these extravagantly preternatural fictions.

Feval faithfully follows the Radcliffe novel formula ... a righteous and respectable heroine aligning herself against evil, servant-class attendants aiding the aforementioned heroine, at least one perverse male villain with immoral designs, and supernatural events that by story's end are explained through more rational means. Indeed, the basic plot of Feval's novel is as convoluted as any that Ann Radcliffe concocted ... the marriage of two young lovers thwarted by sinister and licentious forces and a virtuous heroine attempting to, in turn, thwart the nefarious schemes and bring the villains to justice. Like any Gothic novel worth its salt, the action of Vampire City ranges all over the countryside, from one side of the English channel to other, through France, Italy and Germany, even into the very heart of the vampire city, Selene, with the action finally ending in the obligatory, and now cliche, forbidding castle complete with ghosts and with trapdoors to dungeons.

Even the characters are fundamental personas of the Gothic novel environment. Feval provides the reader with no less than three villains ... a lascivious governess in liege with a lecherous count, both aided and abetted by a vampire. Stock servant characters dispense comic relief and lighten the levity of suspensefully supernatural situations. To add further to the farce, Feval casts, as the mandatory heroine of this adventure, the resolute yet pristine Anne Radcliffe (the authoress�s name purposefully misspelled).

This ingenious characterization not only mocks Radcliffe�s own literary dogma (and her exaggerated place in contemporary literature at the time) but also the mores of English society. Firstly, the actual frame of the novel is a tale that the cousin of Miss Radcliffe recounts to the author of the novel. Throughout the novel, this cousin, Miss 97, expresses an exorbitant awe of and deference for Anne, often referring to Anne as She and our Anna as if she were a saint. Truly, Miss Radcliffe is a paragon of upstanding English middle class sensibilities. Anne is ever the model of virtue and pragmatism even when faced with promethean tasks and untold supernatural horrors and when risking her very virtue. She, like all Radcliffe female protagonists, endures the crass nature of her lower class companions, and she strengthens the resolves of those poor souls who lack her courage. In fact, it is her staunch English backbone that makes her fascination with the vampire's gory death an act of courage rather than a simple matter of voyeurism. The deux machina ending of the novel attests to the ineffectuality of the tenets of polite English society ... it is not Anne Radcliffe, the epitome of English virtue, that saves the young couple but instead the presence of the epitome French virtue that prevents evil from completing its abhorrent agenda.

In truth, with this last mechanism, Feval highlights another major convention of both the Gothic novel and English society ... that ultimately, women are incapable of complete and decisive action. In all Radcliffe novels, the heroines must manipulate a male character in order to successfully subdue the antagonists. Over and over again, Feval accentuates Anne's ineffectual and consequently subservient role ... she must rely on Grey Jack to escort her through the countryside and across the Channel, she must depend on Merry Bones to fight off the minions of the vampires; she can't even translate Greek inscriptions without the aid of a man. Feval's French sense of humor provides the tour de force of his mockery of this particular English Gothic novel convention ... it's not just a man that saves the day but a French man.

Feval finely honed wit leaves no English double standard unneedled. He derides the English�s dependency on Irish labor even though they despise the Irish as a race. The character Merry Bones is an Irish manservant who bears the brunt of all the productive action though he is never given credit for his courage. He not only saves Anne from the vampires, but is also the one who dispatches with the vampire; everyone else in the party is far too squeamish to tear out the heart of the villainous vampire. Feval punctuates Anne's (and consequently the English) hypocrisy when the party forsakes Merry Bones in the vampire city and leaves him at the mercy of an entire city of vengeful vampires. Again, it is Feval's French deux machina that saves Merry Bones, the real hero of the story, from certain death without breaking any Gothic novel protocol involving the servant class.

Vampire City is an excellent satire. Feval uses every one of the Gothic novel conventions and every bit of English decorum against itself. Yet, the true beauty of Feval's novel is its timeliness today. With the upsurgence of a post-apocalyptic gothic aesthetic instigated by our modern mistress of penny dreadfuls, Anne Rice, our culture can appreciate Feval's barbs. Does not our society's puritanical disposition foster the sensationally decadent stories of Anne Rice just as stringent English decorum cultivated the Radcliffe cult? Does not Rice still uphold the dominant class's propriety even as she tantalizes it with the risque elements of her novels just as Radcliffe acted as provocoteur to good English housewives without affecting any change within the establishment? Even as Feval derides foibles of a late eighteenth and a nineteenth century England, he manages to ridicule our own society's frailties; though the stock characters of the oppressed have changed some, be it race, creed or sexual preferences, nevertheless, the double standards and prejudices still exist and are as irrational as they were in Feval�s time.

Just as Feval follows the formula of the Gothic novel, Brian Stableford's translation of Vampire City does a wonderful job of capturing the language of the genre without losing the sharp edge of the satire. With the introduction, afterwards and notes, Stableford details the historical background of the novel and gives the novel a place in history. Just as Feval created a jewel among parodies so Stableford creates a jewel among translations

And thus we get fevalatory.

Fevalatory (Fe-val-a-tory) adj.(sometimes mistakenly spelled "fevelatory")

1. The act (literary, artisitc) of parodying, satirizing, lampooning in the manner, style (reminiscent) of French author Paul Feval  (more humorous than mean-spirited; done with great wit). Barone. "Her fevalatory essay on teenage innocence, The Inferior Teen, won a writer's award at Georgetown University." Or "It was a masterpiece of fevelatory writing." Trent
2. Action in reference to caricature, exceeding or exaggerating what is culturally accepted;often mocking, ridiculing. "This portrait of our society seems fevalatory." Barone.

Sunday 19

Something Beautiful. Daryl and I out for a walk tonight on Birch Lane. Walking Daisy. I try using his skateboard and somehow manage to do a backflip, cutting my elbow and hurting my head. I try to explain to him when I was a teen we made our skateboards from planks of wood and old rollerskating wheels and raced down the biggest hills in our neighborhood, but he does not believe my true story and later, near midnight, we watch the X-games on ESPN. And something beautiful, something ground-breaking, is being planted here; watch her water this and watch it continue to grow and grow.

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I watched an interesting movie tonight, an absorbing, poetic, magical-realistic, meditation about memory and regret. "Eternity and a Day," the latest film from internationally acclaimed Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, is the winner of the 1998 Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is the story of a dying Greek poet (Bruno Ganz from "Wings of Desire") who takes a look back on his life via a 30-year-old heart-breaking letter written by his late wife, which he has never seen till this moment, and at the same time crosses paths with a young Albanian refugee boy (a less successful part of the film). The story seamlessly (and slowly) moves from present day to past to fantasy (I was at times reminded of Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini) as the poet remembers the one perfect day in his life. It is a dreamlike film that unfolds in an endless procession of hypnotic, glacial tracking shots, minimal action, and little dialogue. In fact, every shot is longer than the longest shots in most mainstream movies, some lasting four or five minutes. Last year, and quite by accident, I saw his "Ulysses' Gaze" (1995) on PBS and was similarly moved.

Saturday 18

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"Beuys will be Beuys," MOMA, August 16, 2001

Friday 17

Change the World. A help wanted ad I read today said "This is Your Chance to Change the World." This got me thinking about careers and which ones do in fact put you in a position to change the world. Do they all? To some degree. And maybe it is not the career so much as it is the attitude one brings to his or her life. For example, there is a train conductor on Metro North (New York--New Haven Line) who moves from train-to-train greeting each and every passenger, giving the weather report, news, sports scores. He was featured once on TV because he brought such love to his job; his attitude helped to make it a better day for the passengers. I once had the fortunate opportunity to sit next to the then vice president of marketing of Pepsi at a luncheon in New York City. She was the guest speaker. And she spoke about creating brand value but she did so in such a way that I have never forgotten; she said that each and every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in a person's life (i.e. helping to change the world) by smiling at the man or woman from whom you buy your coffee and paper (and saying thank you) to talking with a stranger on line at the grocery store; making emotional connections.

Thursday 16

Mies in Berlin.

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Today I saw the "Mies in Berlin" exhibition at MOMA--twice. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) is often regarded as one of the greatest architects of all time, the leading and most influential exponent of the glass-and-steel architecture of mid-20th-century throughout the world. Highlights of the exhibition include 275 original drawings, 14 new scale models, and fascinating video and digital models which allow for a "virtual walk-through." Writing in The New York Times, Herbert Muschamp:

What you will find is the documented story of an extraordinarily rich and complex mind, as well as an immersion in a creative process that spanned, and helped to define, a critical chapter in the history of the present. And you will find a touchstone for philosophical issues that engage architects even more fully today than they did in Mies's lifetime.

Organized by Terence Riley, chief curator of the Modern's department of architecture and design, and Barry Bergdoll, professor of art history at Columbia University, "Mies in Berlin" is a powerful study of artistic formation. It unfolds in a series of dynamic exchanges between Mies's inner and outer worlds.

Haunting images by Thomas Ruff, digitally manipulated photographs of Mies's existing early buildings, sustain a Surrealist mood throughout the exhibition. And the installation design overall employs Miesian devices like collage, partitioned space and switchback procession.

Midway through the show it may occur to you that what you are witnessing is not just a chronological survey but an allegory that will soon be translated into the form of individual buildings. The outsider dreams of being inside. Provincial boy yearns for big city. Is drawn toward this ideal of the cultivated life as a means of access. Discovers that he belongs. Realizes that the yearning is for something inside as well as outside himself. Finds that art is a tool for satisfying both desires.

Also at the exhibiton are original paintings, sculpture, drawings and film that were featured in G, the journal that Mies directed and that show his involvement in the avant-garde artisitic movements in Berlin in the 1920s. I found this section of the exhibition personally very rewarding as it got me thinking about BirchLane, the journal and BirchLane, the publishing house; my vision, hope, and dream  for it. Hans Richter, El Lissitzky, Walter Benjamin, Nabo, Grosz, Man Ray, Pevsner--all were involved with G. Who, I wondered, in addition to the true talent already displayed, will be involved in BirchLane.

Wednesday 15

I'd Rather Be Here Now.

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On the way to a job interview this morning I pulled off the highway and over to the side of the road to take a picture.

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Danielle asked me to take her High School yearbook photo. This is a test from today on BirchLane.

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On the same roll; a photo from the July 4th Party at Jessamyn's.

I'd Rather Be Here Now. That's what I read on a bumper sticker this afternoon when I drive Daryl and three of his friends to see American Pie 2, which debuted at the top of the box office with $45.1 million this past weekend. They can't get in without me. They can't stay and watch it without me. I am their chaperone; or as one mom said to me today; "Dad of the Day." I sit a comfortable twenty rows in front of where they sit--the back row. "Dad," Daryl screams to me at the end of the movie. "How did you like it." And I answer, truthfully, "I thought it was pretty funny. And a killer soundtrack." But back to that bumper sticker. It reminded me of this book I read a few years ago. I think it was called; Wherever You Go There You Are, By Jon Kabat-Zinn. From the Univerisity of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester:

The Stress Reduction Clinic (SRC) was founded in September 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. Dr. Kabat-Zinn also served as its first Director until 1995, when that position was assumed by Dr. Saki Santorelli, (EdD) who was Director of Clinical and Educational Services for the CFM. Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the former Executive Director of the CFM and Professor of Medicine in the medical school.....   It takes the form of an eight-week long course, originally known as the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program (SR & RP). It is designed to teach people with a wide range of medical conditions including serious and life-threatening diseases, chronic pain conditions, and stress-related problems how to take better care of themselves as a complement to their medical treatments and care......The work of the Stress Reduction Program is described in Dr. Kabat-Zinn's book, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1990) and in Dr. Santorelli's book, Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine (Random House, 1999). The meditation practices that form the basis of the approach of the CFM and the SRC are also described in Dr. Kabat-Zinn's second book, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (Hyperion, 1994).

The work of the Stress Reduction Program was prominently featured in the award-winning 1993 PBS Television special, Healing and the Mind, with Bill Moyers. It has also been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, NBC Dateline, CBS This Morning, and numerous other television programs, as well as in USA Today, the New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and many other national print media.

The work of the SRC is based on training medical patients in mindfulness meditation and its applications in facing and coping with stress, pain, and illness. We now describe what we do as "mindfulness-based stress reduction" (MBSR) to differentiate it from "stress management" programs, which are not based on intensive training in mindfulness meditation. However, in actuality, the work of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) goes far beyond what is commonly thought of as "stress reduction" and is best described as tapping directly into the dimensions of human experience commonly described with words such as heart, spirit, soul, tao, and dharma. In this way, the work of MBSR can be thought of as a profound spiritual discipline, aimed at deep self-reflection, self-knowledge, and liberation from confining views of self and others. Our articulation of the meditative principles and practices involved in MBSR attempts to tap the universal dimensions of such disciplines and their applicability in modern society, and is independent of the ideological and cultural belief systems and religious frameworks out of which these meditative practices emerged, although it honors what is deepest and best in all the meditative traditions and attempts to embody the wisdom and compassion that underlie them.

Mindfulness can be defined as moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by developing our ability to pay attention to specific aspects of our experience in the present moment and by refining our capacity to regulate the expanse of the field of our awareness and our reactions to specific events within it. Mindfulness has been described as the heart of Buddhist meditation, and is at the core of all its meditative practices, whether from the Zen, vipassana, or Vajrayana traditions. It is also universal in scope and not particularly Buddhist, as it is ultimately about paying attention and cultivating wakefulness, clarity of mind, equanimity, wisdom, and compassion, including, importantly, self-compassion.

The SRC is the oldest and largest Stress Reduction Program in the world. Since 1979, over 13,000 people have completed the eight-week program, and many have taken "graduate programs" at some point after having completed the basic course, both to deepen their meditation practice and to get back into regular practice if it has lapsed.

Tuesday 14

Foresight. This afternoon the doorbell rings just as The Shinning is coming to the part where Jack Nicholson says "Here's Johnny," and Shelly Duvall slashes his wrist.

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It is Steve (I do not know Steve). He is selling fish that peacefully rests in a big ice-chest in the back of his pick-up. "Steve," I say. "I just lost my job. I'm not interested in buying any fish." And I think he says, "That's okay. I'm not here to sell you any fish. Millionaires still have to eat." Huh, I think. And I think I'm missing The Shinning; what am I doing standing here with this fish-peddler. "Here, let me show you what I have," he says opening the vault-size ice-chest; so large and so cold and so foggy I half expected Dracula to rise from it. "I got sole. I got shrimp. I got salmon. I got flounder. I got halibut." I got a headache; Please STOP;

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I suddenly feel laughter coming on from somewhere deep inside me as I am reminded of a Three Stooges episode I saw last week on TV in which they try to sell rather old fish from the back of their truck. Moe sings a wonderful song. "Maybe you should sell fish," says Steve as I turn toward the BirchLane front door thinking I might like to eat fish but I certainly don't enjoy smelling like fish.

(Fore"sight`) (?), n.

1. The act or the power of foreseeing; prescience; foreknowledge. Milton.
2. Action in reference to the future; provident care; prudence; wise forethought. "This seems an unseasonable foresight." Milton. "A random expense, without plan or foresight." Burke.
3. (Surv.) Any sight or reading of the leveling staff, except the backsight; any sight or bearing taken by a compass or theodolite in a forward direction.
4. (Gun.) Muzzle sight. See Fore sight, under Fore, a.

Monday 13

Hindsight. Yesterday I received an e-mail from my former employer (before this last job). He wrote:

As we talked about at our previous meeting, your role (here) would be to bring in new work.  The accounts that you handled prior to leaving have been reassigned to new sales people.

For me to make a recommendation regarding you rejoining (us), I would need a solid business plan outlining the accounts and volume that you can bring to (us).

I would be happy to meet with you to help start this process.  Feel free to give me a call so we can set-up an appointment.

I called him today and accepted, scheduling an appointment for Wednesday. I spent today working on the sales plan. I have never had a problem identifying new business and then getting in the door for a one-on-one presentation, at which I have been fairly successful in starting a new relationship. My old accounts have been reassigned and I believe I should have little difficulty cultivating new relationships as outlined in the sales plan.

Sunday 12

Important Details. My thoughts about what details to record here seem to change from day-to-day. For example, today I was wondering if I had spent less time studying Jennifer Pimm's (no relation to Pimms Cup, the traditional Engish drink, invented as a summer cocktail for cricket matches and regattas) long black hair and bright blue eyes in seventh grade and more time studying science and math, geography and english, maybe I'd be an art history professor today. Some days nothing that seems important happens here. My day consists of rather insignificant and small events: a hummingbird hovering outside the window; Daisy barking at a squirrel; a child screaming at his mom around the corner; birds chriping; leaves rustling in the wind. When I was ten or eleven I wanted to join the Air Force Academy. At fifteen I wanted to be a doctor (that is, of course, if I wasn't drafted by The New York Yankees). The Draft; when I turned seventeen, during the final years of the Vietnam War,  my dad drove me to the Draft Board in Hackensack, New Jersey where I declared myself a "Conscientious Objector," a C.O. for short; "one who on the basis of his religious and moral principles refuses to bear arms or participate in military service." Sometimes this all seems like single sustained images, unrelated happenings that form a sequence of fantastic reflections, giving it all new meaning by subjecting it to extremely personal reorganization; a network of cross-references in which each story or image tends to modify or call into question my reaction to others; making something (some thing) out of nothing; the desire to show at length apparently marginal actions while skimming swiftly or elliptically over crucial periods. I suppose, the truth, if it exists at all, is many-sided and composed of an elaborate complex of contradictions.

Saturday 11

Something Ripens. The heat of these past few August days has made me irritable and lethargic.

Friday 10

Light and The Four Seasons.

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While light travels as electromagnetic waves, it's emitted and absorbed as particles called "photons." Each photon carries with it a tiny bit of energy. The amount of energy in a photon depends on the wavelength of the light associated with it. While a photon of red light contains too little energy to cause chemical processes to occur in most molecules, a particle of violet or ultraviolet light contains enough energy to cause significant chemical damage to a typical molecule. Since sunlight contains a substantial amount of violet and ultraviolet lights, it can cause a fair amount of chemistry to occur in the molecules that absorb it. That's why colors often fade in sunlight. Many colored molecules are relatively fragile and are damaged by photons of ultraviolet light. The portion of a dye molecule that gives it its color is called a "chromophore" and is usually the most fragile part of the molecule. Destroying its chromophore will often leave a dye molecule colorless. Exposure to sunlight was the traditional way to bleach fabrics and make them white.

This morning I heard a version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons unlike any I have every heard before. I was in my car and raced home to call the radio station to inquire about it. "You don't like it?" the on-air personality inquired. "No. No," I said. "I love it. Who is it?" Fabio Biondi and Europa Galente breathe so much light, color, life, passion, a roughness  and spirit into this recording you are emotionally involved after two measures—and the excitement doesn’t stop until the last note fades away.

In their most important recording yet for Virgin Classics Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante tackle one of the peaks of Baroque music: Vivaldi’s 12 violin concertos Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, the collection that contains the much-loved Four Seasons. In preparing this recording Biondi has worked not from the familiar published edition of 1725 but largely from manuscripts preserved in libraries in Turin, Dresden and Manchester. The stylistic freedom (and technical difficulty) of these unpublished versions offer fascinating insights into Vivaldi’s own working methods and reveal surprisingly differences to their printed counterparts

Biondi says, "By performing the original versions we reveal a recklessness that is much closer to Vivaldi’s own personality."

Thursday 09

Heat Wave.

Just like a heatwave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from cryin'
It's tearing me apart
Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can't explain it, don't understand it
I 'ain't never felt like this before
But that doesn't mean it has me amazed
I don't know what to do, my head's in a haze

--"Heat Wave," excerpts, Martha & The Vandellas,1963

It is a heat wave here on Birch Lane. And although this great oldie above doesn't quite describe what I am feeling today, I did think of it first thing this morning when I woke from a disturbed sleep on our front screened porch; and it is somewhat of an apt description of the day; my head is certainly in a "haze," and I do have a "burning in my heart;" it is a heat wave here on Birch Lane.

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A Wall of Burning Television Sets At ANT FARM's Media Burn
Event in San Francisco, July 4, 1974 (photo by John Turner)
from the BirchLane Postcard Archives

I am burning. And the blinding sun floods the yard all day with a white light that drains the yellow orange from the Centennial Star Rose and the green from the grass; inside, the shades drawn, the house is like a tomb, wet and dark, except for the shimmering white shade in the living room. It has been hot all week, but today it is different; you can almost feel a still, quiet death in the air which paints in color-less light a picture of my state-of-being; tired--I can't explain it, except to say I need to find a new job--one with purpose and meaning; value--as soon as possible.

Wednesday 08

Watching the Garden Grow.

Inside outside
what is
to do
the butterfly
bush sways
in heat
all morning
I watch
and wait
last night
the humming bird
and hovered
outside my window
a big black bumblebee
and monarch butterfly
landed too
storms ahead
I do not know
local forecast
hazy hot humid
indices of 105 to 115
my dog waits
too whimpering
this is not a poem
but look look
see the white light
when I was young
I wanted to live
on a houseboat
and you could
come and be
with me on
a sparkling sea
where we would
bend our legs
over the edge
at night into
the Heaven of
stars and dip
our feet into
holy water this is
a dream I have
looking out the window
to the garden
the white and purple
butterfly bush
shimmers in the noon heat
this a dog day
of summer and here
in this dream there
is blue
sky and blue water
and we cast our lines
out from the houseboat
into the now blue
green water
and laugh
an old opera
love song playing
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"Outside, Inside," Birch Lane, August 8, 2001

Tuesday 07

Bruce and the Beanstalk.

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Painting by Raoul Vitale

The beans arrived in the mail on a bright and beautiful Spring day. Fourteen. My dad mailed the beans to me. "These are the world's best beans," he wrote. "Famous beans. Plant them and they will grow."  And I did plant the fourteen beans. And they did grow. "Look, son," I said to Daryl one week or two later.   "The beans. They are growing." And he and I said "Hello beans." I put a fence up next to the growing beans so they had something to support themselves as they twisted and twined skyward. And one week or two later I weaved three tall sticks I found on Birch Lane through the fence so the beans could continue to grow ever skyward. Soon I started to wonder as the beanstalks magically grew and grew weaving themselves around and around the sticks I found on Birch Lane; how will I ever reach the top of the beanstalks? Butterflies and Dragonflies landed and rested for what seemed like eternity on my beanstalks. But the beanstalk upon which these creatures landed was no Jacob's Ladder or Bo-tree and I had no wish to ascend to the sky; I was neither devious nor a trickster, neither lazy nor unscrupulous; there was no giant as far as I could see crying "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" I'm not even English, although there is a town in England named Northampton. But what to my wondering eye did appear last night as I was out watering but beanstalks chopped at the base. It wasn't me. It was someone with a hatchet or a rabbit lurking nearby. Why would a rabbit I wonder chop my beanstalks down; unless of course it was the rabbit-dragon from Monty Python and The Holy Grail; and if so then I should stay clear of its lair where my beanstalks grew and died. The once flat, big, pear-shaped breathing green leaves now yellowing, curled lifelessly inward. Sad.

Monday 06

20Things. My envelope arrived today. 20Things. I carried it to the kitchen table and carefully opened the Jiffy Padded #7 envelope where it said "pull tab to open;" and out spilled twenty works of art; if I was asked to choose a favorite today maybe I'd answer, as Daryl did; "I really like this one," he said holding "God to Go," a Matchbox Shrine ("everone's spiritual go!") created by Leslie Harpold; or "this one. I like this one," he said picking up the "untitled,"  but very witty, framed 3D construction created by Christopher Stangland; "and this, Dad, what's this?" he asked looking at the zen-like and earing-like "A Very Tiny Abacus On Which To Count A Few Small Things" assembled by the brain behind the 20Things project, Judith Zissman; "and this is beautiful" he exclaimed holding the Jessamyn West lovely artist's book entitled "Book Kit" in his hand in which we find a number of components--including one small piece of paper with the words "Please...Do you think of me as often as I think of you?" (Do you?); and so we continued, looking at each one carefully; the beautiful and brightly colored watercolor from Andrea Scher; a beautiful painting from Caterina Fake (check out her every book I read list! wow!); a Play in Six Short Acts, "Medical Malpractice or Police Brutality," six pages of black and white photographs of toys depicting racism in America by Mark Anderson; a painting, awash in a sea of thickly applied of mostly earthen colors, by Tom Brock; an incredible postcard from "someguy" illustrating the great work going on at 1000journals (which reminds me of all the stuff I have collected that still needs to be glued in mine, #0558); a wonderful postcard construction, "Govern Your Passions, Jess!"  from Meg Hourihan with an attached question ("How does one do art without it be her undoing?") (hmmm); a very funny list of instructions from Lance Arthur called "Twenty Ideas" (#17. Empty Promises--Wrap up a small box as ornately as possible. Put nothing inside it but a penny. Include instructions never to open the box because the wish will get out."); a beautifully printed and designed broadside from Dean Allen entitled "Treatise on Gambling;" another beautiful painting/construction--this one from Julia Hayden, entitled "The Walls I Don't Have;" some beautiful note-cards from Rebekah Turshen; a surrealistic framed photograph from Bill Keaggy; a surrealistic painting/construction from Janice Fraser entitled "Bainbridge #2;" a witty construction (CD, maps, earring) from Karin Trgovac entitled "20 Stops to Ithaca;" creative polaroids of clocks from Samantha Randall; a "Nervasana" card from Erik Benson; and a small vile of "magic dust" from Karl Dubost. (note; corrections, links, etc appreciated)--oh, and another watercolor, stunning actually, from, I think, Christine Jones.

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Fog, Birch Lane, August 6, 2001

Sunday 05

Weeding. Recently a friend wrote to me and took me task for the parable I found written on a blackboard at a restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey and reprinted here at BirchLane; I think the parable went like this:

"A man of only words and not deeds is like a garden of only weeds."

My friend writes:

I disagree with the parable, "a man full of words is like a garden full of weeds." Or maybe not; depends on how you view weeds. There are plenty of nice ones (luminaria and queen anne's lace, for one--plus, queen anne's lace has the added utilitarian benefit of being a mild abortificient, used by lots of women with great success). Words are almost as essential as actions--afterall, the oral traditions of preliterate (pre-graphic? what I mean is pre-written language) cultures & societies are what shape current
society. The Bible, after all, was based on hundreds (thousands?) of years of oral histories (or, the word of god, which was transcribed by someone with cramped hands).

The parable, as one can read, is mis-quoted; I must ask her what she thinks. She has a sense of humor. Yes, my friend, many lovely weeds grow in my garden; in fact, I have a garden of milkweed (not a terrific idea according to today's New York Times--ah, but look at all those beautiful butterflies.) And some Queen Anne's lace, too.  And look what I found:

A man of words and not of deeds
Is like a garden full of weeds;
And when the weeds begin to grow,
It's like a garden full of snow;
And when the snow begins to fall,
It's like a bird upon the wall;
And when the bird away does fly,
It's like an eagle in the sky;
And when the sky begins to roar,
It's like a lion at the door;
And when the door begins to crack,
It's like a stick across your back;
And when your back begins to smart,
It's like a penknife in your heart;
And when your heart begins to bleed,
You're dead, you're dead, and dead indeed.
Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes

Saturday 04

Storm Couds over Birch Lane.

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But not because I lost my job this past Monday. "Bruce," he said. "It's not working out."

Friday 03

The Dog Days of Summer. It is hot. It is the time of year when we say to each other "where did the summer go?" It is the time of year when we drink lemondade, beer, and gin & tonics. It is The Dog Days of Summer.

Everyone knows that the “dog days of summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest part of the season. Webster defines “dog days” as...

1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

But where does the term come from? Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?”

In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.

They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor).

The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. Look for it in the southern sky (viewed from northern latitudes) during January.

In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.

The conjunction of Sirius with the sun varies somewhat with latitude. And the “precession of the equinoxes” (a gradual drifting of the constellations over time) means that the constellations today are not in exactly the same place in the sky as they were in ancient Rome. Today, dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it is certainly the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star, regardless of its brightness. No, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth's tilt.

Copyright � 1999, 2000 by Jerry Wilson

I wrote an essay a few years ago called The Dog Days of Summer.

Thursday 02

Painted Rooms (poem in progress)

  • Why do we still read
  • The Bible I do
  • Not know You and I
  • Was Milton the one
  • Keats or Pope you said
  • Read Rape of The Lock
  • This is what I think
  • Today when painting
  • I want to tell you
  • A story or two
  • Each room a treasure
  • Chest waiting for you

Wednesday 01

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. I saw the premier broadcast of MTV; I met Martha Quinn in Coliseum Books, which was across the street from Hearst Magazines, where I worked at the time, but today I am not thinking of MTV, although I am watching some of the celebration now on TV (Billy Idol was good, Joan Jett and I have the same haircut, Bon Jovi surprised me), I am thinking of a letter I wrote twenty years ago today:

An update, August 1, 1981: John has been deeply wounded in love. Pat is leaving for Italy. Brecon has quit her job at Saks. Mary Beth, 25, and her lover, 50, are not living together anymore. Maggie wanted to have the kind of bar truck drivers go to but worries about the whores who fight on the street in front of her bar on West 49th. I saw a dead body pulled out of the Hudson in Hoboken. That was on Saturday. The wise fishermen saw the body floating in the river. One of them called the police. Meanwhile, the body floated underneath the piers and stayed there, wedged between two pilings. The flesh looked like a large band-aid had been peeled off it. A kid who is carrying a boom box tells me it looks like its about to explode. Two Hoboken police come in a squad car, one on a motocycle and, then, two more in a squad car. Car 54 Not Where Are You. They all leaned for minutes on one of the cars and smoked and waited for the New York City Harbor Patrol to arrive. A wise fisherman asked me, me, if I was going to take any photographs. He said, "You don't get this kind of opportunity too often." Oh, you don't, I thought, unless you are Weegee. I did take photographs of the body and of the police and of the police boat. Most of my creative energy has been released in photography; this is what I see--the thread of a story at a crucial moment; but a friend from San Francison called me the other night and said "Bruce, don't stop writing. It's so much easier to take photographs. Words are stronger." I could write, I thought, as soon as I bought a new typewriter. And with a decisive feeling of sureness, I set down my pen months ago and told Betsy it would be easier presently. For a long time now when I try to write it has been a collision. I feel exhausted by the simplest sentence: "This is Ken's house" or "Maggie and Steve are going to Lenox for the weekend." I take photographs to find out who I am, where I stand. I once wrote poems with the same thought in mind. Now it is photographs. Does it really matter? On seeing: "A woman of about fifty looks at a Marin exhibition in bewilderment. She turns to Stieglitz: 'Is there someone who can explain these pictures to me? I don't understand them at all. I want to know why they arouse no emotion in me.' Before Stieglitz realizes what he is saying, he replies, 'Can you tell me this: Why don't you give me an erection?' He walks back into his office. The woman acts as though she isn't quite sure she has heard him correctly." (Janet Malcom quoting Dorothy Norman in "Diana and Nikon"). Although I find the book interesting, I have been reading, with some difficulty, "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott. I am still (aren't I always?) looking for another job. As I think I told you I don't make much here at Hearst--no one does. Besides, I am mostly bored, and am not putting my talents to their best use. What do I do? Well, simply, I am the assistant director of newsstand promotion and publicity for International Circulation Distributotors (ICD), a division of Hearst Magazines. It is the national distributor of all Hearst Magazines and over 100 other publications, including Forbes, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker; and Avon, Berkley, Jove, and Palyboy paperbacks to the newsstands across this great country of ours. My primary responsibilities inlcude writing and editing a monthy trade publication, writing radio commercials and press releases, and conceptualizing and executing regional promotions......I am involved in something at work now which actually is interesting; I am shooting, creating, a slide show for the president of Hearst Magazines. In a sense I feel like I am writing a poem because I can do/use anthing I see in any possible connection; a network of highly criss-crossed references. Oh dear, you will want to know that I received a personal phone call from none other than Cosmopolitan magazine's famous editor-in-chief, Helen Gurley Brown, thanking me, praising me (she said it not me), for a few radio commercials I wrote for the publication. This same week my boss told me that she really doens't like her husband; "he looks like a bum all day, and he's either sick or too tired to do anything--or he's drunk." He was once some big magazine publisher--done in by, you guessed it, the bottle. He's her second husband. She was once married to a dancer. She had two children with him. One has found Jesus and recently left a pamphlet on my desk inscribed: "Bruce, read and keep this. I think you will enjoy it. And God bless you."...... He calls everyone "Brother." Did you see the review in The New Yorker of  "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Pauline Kael writes: "The people in Raiders reminded me of a friend saying that her five-year-old niece, who was watching the Mandrell Sisters on TV, suddenly got up, put her face against the screen, squinted, and asked, 'Are those puppets?'" Can you believe it (!?); "Double Dutch Bus" was the background music for a documentary about New York City during the Miss Universe Pageant. "I want to make this year the happiest yeat of my life;" Miss Brazil, a runner-up. "I want to achieve peace in the world, to enjoy everything the world has to offer;" Miss Venezuela, the winner. All presented by Pampers, Camay, Crisco Oil (no oily taste), All Temperature Cheer (does great in cold and tough on dirt in today's cooler temperatures), Crest (because any cavity you get is too many), Folgers (replaces good coffee in fine restaurants), network ad for new Walter Cronkite show, Lemon Fresh Joy (cleans down to the shine), Secret (strong enough for a man but made for a woman), Downy (fresh smell), Jiff Peanut Butter (tastes like fresh peanuts), Cascade (pie crust real flaky says Loretta Lynn), LUVS (comfortable), Safeguard (no soap has as much protection), Tide (man says, taught by a woman, surrounded by black high school football players in uniform, a real cleaning bargain), Sure (an extra day of dryness!), Crest (advanced Crest), Ivory Liquid (hands stay young looking and clean well, love that clean look), Prell. What did Camay have to say? A most beautiful complextion at any age. Quilted lining from Pampers. Betsy and I were rooting for Miss Venezuela all along. Were you?
feels depressed)
a foreign language
cannot undersatnd
the snap
of a cool breeze
the movie
what they were doing
is over
passion is dying
the pain of acrobatics
of August the barmaid
woke with a hangover
one day
is for love
one day for hate
she hated it
and now he
we are different
than at other places
and times take me take me

Maxwells, the only bar out of the hundred in Hoboken that had new wave bands play no longer has bands--for now. But I did see recently Pylon, Young Marble Giants, Raybeats, Lyda Lunch, The Dance, The Fall. The last band we saw was The Clash at Bonds in New York City. We saw them twice. The first night was a nightmare. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five opened; I loved them but most of the people there were not into this. And the place was over-sold; a few songs into The Clash, the firemen came and closed the place. A few days later we were back and this time The Fall was the first act.  Right now I am listening to classical music and I have been listening to a lot of reggae the past few days. Maggie, the woman who owns the bar on 49th Street, between Broadway and Eighth, lent me an album by Linton Kweski Johnson; from England; excellent. I am making a tape to send you. This is what it on it so far:

Clash, Charlie Don't Surf
Public Image, Ronald Reagan
Spandau Ballet, To Cut A Long Story Short
U2, I Will Follow
Yoko Ono, Walking on Thin Ice
Psychedelic Furs, Mr. Jones
Heaven 17, Fascist Groove Thing
The Fall, Leave The Capital
Orchestral Maneuvers in The Dark, Enola Gay
Pylon, Cool
XTC, Living Through Another Cuba
Specials, Concrete Jungle
The Clash, Police on My Back

Maggie is 35 and has owned Tin Pan Alley for eight or nine years. This is where I met Nan Goldin, Cara Perlman, Susan Ensley. I eat most of my lunches with here--with an editor from Business Week. She is an activist, feminist, supporter of the arts and down-trodden, smart, savvy. I gave her a photo a took of The Clash and it hangs near the bar. It's a photo of them that I took outside the bar. I was on an assignment for work that day up at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. It was a hot day. 100 degrees. I finished shooting sooner than I thought I would and decided to go to Tin Pan Alley, 32 or so blocks south. It was crowded as I entered. It was The Clash and an entourage. I asked Mick Jones if I could take his photograph. He said it was bad timing, but a few minutes later he came back to me, along with Ellen Foley and Joe Strummer and said why don't we take those photos now. And I did. Martin Scorese was filing "King of Comedy" on 49th and 50th and I also have a photo of Robert DeNiro taken that day as he was about to walk past The Clash. If you want to read an excellent article, look for the Atlantic, the excerpt from James Fallows' book, "High Tech Weaponry." I thought it was very good and certainly better than most of what I have to read at work; articles like Cosmo's "I had a younger lover--but he's married."......I'm sorry to hear about the (death in the family). I remember how confused I felt when my mother was dying--and sad. A word, a song, a glance, a smell, a taste will remind me of my mother. The hair on the back of a woman's head walking down Broadway. A smile. A dream. There were no answers. There was percodan, and valium, and aspirin, and water. There were tears, prayers, and laughs. If it wasn't for Betsy, the pain would have been worse. She was all our help. She loved my mother and took her into her hands and rubbed on the lotion or the alcohol and helped her to live. It is hot today. Betsy is reading. Presently I will run......A few weeks ago we had over an old friend and his girlfriend for a nine course Indian dinner that I prepared all by myself (Sabzi Bora, Moong Dal, Murghi Doopiaza, Phul Gobi, Bhapa Jhinga, Aam Chutney, Nareal Chutney, Dahi, Basmati Rice). We are both, I suppose, busy, getting ready for the summer to end and fall to start. Love always, me

                        What were you doing August 1, 1981? Tell me, please.