Friday, August 31, 2007

picasso, conversations with the master

not everything has to be a lesson. as freud said, 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' but some of us can't help being fascinated with gurus. take shakespeare, for example. at 20 i read all his plays, a play a day. images, phrases, repeated scenes updated, all these gave me a sense of his hand-writing.

or kafka and dostoyevsky. later 20's i read practically everything each had written. pilgrimages included a visit to the apartment in st. petersburg where the brothers karamazov written, and walking with a kafka reference book in hand around prague. (in 1992 these places remarkably unchanged from their authors' days.)

then there were other fascinations. with federico garcia lorca, his plays and poems. in 1966 the village where he was born near granada full of images from his works. einstein's apartment in bern where he changed history. strindberg's apartment in stockholm, as gloomy as their former resident.

zurick had no memorial for c.g. jung, but at least i spent a night in town.

we all have role models. robert graves, the novelist of the I Cladius series, wrote much about the importance of poetry and jazzed me up. who were some others? i tend to forget.

at the moment i'm a fan of bjork and francis bacon. i've eight dvd's of bjork, concerts, her biography, music videos, the making of. she's a fascinating character. (i'll be interested to see what she does in the second half of her life.) as for francis bacon, i never thought i'd enjoy his work, but i've read three books, including his really interesting conversations with david sylvester.

what all these have in common is a kind of animal energy (yes, even kafka). a force of nature that can't stop creating. contact with them, even at a distance, gives me a jolt and a will to continue. of course, this goes for picasso too, and you can read an account of my adventures with him.

other recent additions, including more pictures

Thursday, August 30, 2007

dance your way to god

we all have trouble with gurus. whether lovers or friends, people on a pedastal or outcasts on islands, they ultimately prove to have feet of clay, if they fall in love with their own image.

personally, i've listened to the 'tao te ching' over and over. lao tzu did it right. he wrote down his thoughts and disappeared. he resisted the temptation to be anybody. (when mourners were weeping over a body, chang tzu, the taoist phisolopher, said, 'he must not have lived right, otherwise these people would be laughing.')

yet in my lifetime the the guru i've enjoyed the most is rajneesh, later known as osho. alas, when he came to america, all went wrong, and he never quite recovered his feet after much wandering and his return to india. (after his death the poona ashram became an upscale resort.) this said, i really much enjoy readings from his early years.

my favorite book is 'dance your way to god', meetings with his disciples. finally i decided to pull out a few found poems and aphoristic gems. (the guy was an insatiable reader, originally a professor, and he digests and regurgitates the spiritual wisdom of the world - with a sense of humor.)

here's my little contribution to the memory of what he was at his best. i still find what he says very encouraging and relevant to my travels through this lifetime.

and for the latest listings:

Monday, August 27, 2007

the tough questions...

is addiction bad for you? should you avoid your insane grandmother? does it really pay to have money in the bank? can you live on the street happily (no bills)? always blows me away to pass a panhandler sitting amongst his belongings, smoking a cigar, and petting his perfectly healthy cat!

the ragged edges of life, as long as i don't have to be around them too much, are very entertaining. and without obsessions we'd have no art, no electric lightbulbs, or panty-hose. it's the wild ones who come up with the exotic inventions and who destroy themselves in dramatically entertaining ways (fodder for the movies).

i used to try to figure things out, and i had a lot of prejudices. ultimately, i realized it's great that most people have jobs and lead settled, dependable lives. this leaves plenty of room in the cracks for the rest of us. true, there's always a certain uneasiness being outside the mainstream. my most memorable grafitti on a men's room wall in berkeley, california: "the price of freedom is loneliness." i'm not sure it's true, yet every important choice involves risks.

so, here's what a friend called a 'sordid tale.' one of the seven one-act plays i wrote last summer:
also you can get a quick rundown of my latest picture and literary posts at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

have you tried hypnosis?

once i listened to a tape of milton erikson hypnotizing someone. spooky. compelling. then i got his book, 'my voice will go with you' and read it a couple of times. sometime later i found a copy of transcripts from his monologues. they reminded me of poetry, so i wrote some of my own:

reading more about hypnosis (and being hypnotized once by a therapist friend), it dawned on me: we're hypnotizing ourselves all the time. first thing in the morning on waking, we have to recover our personality: i'm so and so, living in such and such a place, that's my purse/wallet, now let me find my face in the mirror. we re-create ourselves every day.

and of course, there are times when we've been jolted awake, no time to put on our habits or remember our address. (the chinese say you're blessed if you have a bad memory.) if only we thought to change aspects of our character/looks at such a moment. ah, it's too terrifying. we assume the old rags of identity as quickly as we can.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

some days

i wake up feeling: "it's all over. i've had my chance. blown it." that's the depressive phase. i'll do whatever helps me survive the mood, take a twenty minute nap, go for a walk, look at an art book, watch a movie, call a friend. then somehow the mood switches to the manic phase. i've never felt better, more optomistic. this seems to be the path of those living outside the mainstream, by their wits, trying to create from whatever they find around them.

mostly i like artists who make work from their everyday lives. nan goldin takes pictures of her friends, her drug and love crashes. francis bacon painted people he knew well and when isolated, painted self-portraits. david hockney documents his private life as though it were a graphic novel.

my favorite books of my friends are 'gentle vengeance' by charles lebaron, based on his first year at harvard med. 'poemcrazy' by susan wooldridge, how to survive through words. 'my sister from the black lagoon' by laurie fox, growing up in a mad family and using fantasy to become an adult!

tales of overcoming adversity by creating works of art. perhaps we need them in a mass society where we seem to be drifting monads, no one more important than another.

Friday, August 24, 2007

let's talk about love!

the terrible temptation? the great need? whatever we say will sound true to someone.

the desire to have your back rubbed, (sex), the house full of physical warmth when you come home from work (a reason to work). something to keep our life off-balance. the unexpected. the expected.

personally, i've always been miserable when depending on someone else for my happiness. (last night, ran into an old friend. he looks a lot less depressed after his second divorce. maybe artists should never marry.)

on the other hand, the warm, fuzzy feelings, where will you get them? a friend maintains they all come from your own kids. but with these extra parts of your nervous system running about beyond your control, what then?

i've consulted the goddess herself, and this is what she has to say on the subject: maybe a word of wisdom will help you through the treacherous whirlpools of love.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

woody allen meets ingmar bergmann

at least one can hope! i can't think of how to describe my first play - 'the wedding of love and death' - to be done at the blue room theater, years ago. the wedding dress made of toilet paper was probably the highlight.

the only time i've proposed was by mail to a woman ten thousand miles away and from another culture (japan). wisely, she turned me down.

still, what if?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

creating your own worlds

friends have said a number of wise things about me. one: you want everybody talking about you, but you don't want to be there. two: you keep a toe in reality so you can live the rest in fantasy.

what an incredible invention the computer is! when i got my first laptop five years ago, i had to try everything, spent hours and hours with different programs. this was my only venture in 3d with bryce 5 (now of daz productions.) it was fun just to explore and experiment. i've posted a few samples:

if you've had to work hard all your life, this would be the perfect toy on your deathbed, providing your spirit with possibilities for the next time around.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the 1st replacement

it's embarassing! going through eleven collections of aphorisms, i realized i'd posted the very worst one - 'the enigma variations' - seduced by its title. that group full of commonplaces and worse, bad moods, bitter thoughts. so, i've dumped it. it's gone. (sorry if you liked it!)

only three of the aphoristic endeavours seem worth repeating. i've posted one: 'unified field theory.' i've been fascinated that einstein could never prove his intuition, "god does not play dice." frankly, i'm skeptical of his statement. however, when events like the invention of photography appear in several places at once, i'm left wondering.

true, you can muster the facts to prove any paradigm, especially ones opposing each other: the world is round, the world is flat. thus, i say, believe whatever you want, as long as you don't force it on anyone else. the world remains a mystery.

here's the theoretical post:

if you'd like a quick rundown and access of recent posts, go to:

Monday, August 13, 2007

now for something completely different!

by now my lifelong interest in zen is obvious. when i was 17, i cut my teeth wandering among the beatniks. san francisco. north beach. the co-existence bagel shop. mike's place. i listened to the likes of gary snyder and gregory corso read poetry. loitered in city lights bookstore. absorbing the time and place, though nobody noticed me.

being a lookout may have come out of this, though i visited my first lookout, cone peak in pinnacles national monument, at age 11 and discovered years later i could see this lookout from my cradle in solidad, california. perhaps i once stood on the towers of sparta, waiting for the fiery message from the troops at troy. who knows? stranger things have happened.

anyway, zen. finally made it to japan (twice) and when i came back in 2000, i got the bug to draw pictures and write fake japanese captions. here they are: a koan, you remember, is a meditation puzzle: 'what is the sound of one-hand clapping?' that stumps the mind until it gives up and lives in the present.

hope you enjoy them. please let me know if i unconsciously, accidently wrote something meaningful in japanese!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

a marriage of true minds

today's post is a gift to heather barnett and joe minner, married yesterday in livermore california. (you can see pictures of heather at i've known her since she was knee-high to a grasshopper). many good wishes to both of them.

i put this anthology together some years ago. whatever we wish to create, we must love to see, read, experience, celebrate. this was my way. and i pass it on to the new couple.

Your eyes are glowing

With the red wine:

How shall I extinguish their glow?

- Only by drinking from them both

With kisses

One and one after the other -

Then you fill them up again

With the yellow wine

Which I love the most.

Gunner Ekelof, translated by W.H. Auden and Leif Sjoberg

Saturday, August 11, 2007

sew that shadow back on, peter pan

as mentioned, one summer above the casinos at lake tahoe, i read 44 books by and about Jung. i dipped into my shadow, attempting to recover the lost energy wrapped up in my denials. hard to do without becoming someone you don't like! and then your friends, what about them? can they swallow the change? (when he started crossing his legs like a girl, she had a fit. where was the macho man she married?) not everybody appreciates our dark side.

to advance myself - in honor of Jung or as a parody of - i wrote a collection of self-revelatory poems called 'the alchemist'.

Greta Garbo

slipped into my dream

last night.

"My, my," I said, "aren't you

a little old,

or am I young?

Your hands are cold."

Greta Garbo

opened her eyes last night

and invited me in.

I said,

"Greta, my dear,

I'm but a child,

anything else were sin."

Greta Garbo

drew blood last night,

her teeth upon my throat.

"Greta, dear Greta,"

I said,

"I have done so little of note."

come to think of it, just the other day i was thinking of 'the imposter syndrome'. do we always think we're faking it?

and i keep adding pictures to my summer diary:

Friday, August 10, 2007

the fountain of youth!!

yes, it does exist. lives have been wasted in the pursuit. drinks have been drunk. pills have been swallowed (more every day). illegal substances have been smoked. and all in vain.

now i will tell you where to find it. the answer resides in the question. what were you doing at five years old? before schools and ambition warped you. some built sandcastles. one fellow sat in the closet, waiting for god. he's now a monk. personally, i roamed the woods, finger-painted, and broke my nose several times.

ask your parents. your brothers and sisters. this is urgent. for this return to the actions of childhood bring you to the fountain. then you must imbibe it long and with gusto. as the indian guru ramana maharshi said, 'put one thing in practice.'

oh, yes. i was putting on plays for the neighborhood. here's one written much later about a lady who makes the return journey. produced and directed by jan cohen in new york.

i hope you enjoy it. maybe it will be helpful in recovering the charm of time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

do it while you can

the bad news first: 'life's a gamble you lose.' then the good: 'you're free to take chances.'

today's post is in honor of the first performances of the new group. and it's a bawdy one in bars. check it out and you'll see why i'm in the process of posting 'THE GAMBLER, or the zen of gambling.' a story in poems.

for six seasons i worked on fire towers above the casinos of lake tahoe.


"The energy of the earth,"

he said, "concentrates in

some places." He took off

his diamond studs and

put them on the dresser.

Sally lay naked on the

bed. "Everything in history

comes to this conclusion,

sooner or later. Look

at that sky." The sun

was rising over the Lake.

"The human race keeps

going because of moments

like this." They laid

their cards on the table.

Sally hoped for a

jackpot as she caressed

the one-armed bandit,

closing out the sounds

of the cars on the highway.

"History is a series of

accidents, or it has

a definite purpose. Who's

to say?" The sun came

up like a hydrogen-bomb

and the fires of eternity

consumed the bed and room.

Sally felt the golden rain,

and he cried like a child.

Friday, August 3, 2007

city vs country

down from the mountains today for four days off. the transition gets harder as the summer progresses. in honor, however, of the occasion, i post a sermon. still rivalling my father after all these years, i've given a few, though in the university context. (the subversive poet at work. a couple were on 'the anthropology of love', another in praise of vampires on halloween.) more standup comedy routines than lectures, i felt the audiences bewildered by my audacity. these notes for a talk on 'grid theory' don't really show the insanity of my approach, but at least you get the ideas. alas, i'm less sure of myself than in the past. the older i get the less i know. is that the way with all of us?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

forest queen

ah, love, sweet love. only, not always so sweet. probably we need it to progress in this lifetime, otherwise we wouldn't suffer enough, nor would we write poetry. 'all poetry is love poetry', even if it's about death and loss. love was the beginning. maybe the end? great romantics like edith piaf lived for it. i cast my bread on those waters for many years and miss the roller-coaster rides. (well, not that much.) the great thing about love is it takes you where angels fear to tread, the black hole of calcutta, the dungeons of devil's island. as a friend said, 'you've got to value those warm, fuzzy moments enough. and mostly you get them from your children.' no, no, i'm not cynical, but i am disillusioned. these poems rose from a desperate but ultimately unconsumated affair: looking at them, i feel i was wiser then than i am now. some wines you have to drink straight out of the vat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


okay, i'll admit it, the truth had to come out sometime: i'm a lapsed shaman. yes, i used to drum and dance, taking part in winter and summer solstice ceremonies. it seemed to be part of my writing practice, and i even wrote a mini-epic on the subject. you can see how it showed up in my graphic work

yet when i began taking photographs and prozac after contracting asthma shortly after my mother's death, i must have felt more comfortable in the magical world, not needing mystical reassurance (one summer i read 44 books by and about c.g. jung). still, as i climb around the rocks and trees on my hours off, photographing the creatures inhabiting them, i must not have lost all faith! enjoy this vision from the past.