Thursday, April 28, 2011

who killed the circus chimera?

let's see, chimera, what's the definition? something totally unrealistic or impractical: a wildly unrealistic idea or hope or a completely impractical plan. or organism with genetically different tissues. in other words, like these letters a deer combined with a goat makes a dote!

actually, i'm in mourning still for a certain big top that came to town several years ago. i got a few pictures, yet wanted to go back for more. when it didn't show up again, i did a bit of research.

BROWNSVILLE — In Jim Judkins’ Rio Hondo backyard, trailers of circus equipment sit locked and immobile, monkeys curl their fingers around the bars of a metal cage, a massive tent — the big top itself — is furled and stored behind a row of unused generators.

�Circus Chimera — Coming soon,� reads a spray painted sign on a trailer’s broadside.

Judkins laughs. No circus, he says, is coming to Brownsville in the near future.

Because of recent changes in the United States’ temporary-work visa program, Judkins had to cancel Circus Chimera’s itinerary for the first time in its 10-year history

turns out a quirk of fate put them out of business. they couldn't get visas for the 51 mexican workers who did all the grunt work. and evidently they didn't want to go with lowlife carnies. during the intermission, a manager had told me the circus family-run and cleaned up. what a difference from the county fair with its garish, rusty rides.

a world without circuses, do i want to live in it? after all, running away to join was always a way out. the physical life, balancing on a bar high above the crowd, daring fate to do its worst. instead, now it's the tame, boring existence. the one that leads to crime and war. no wonder we demand the news be dramatic and deadly. ordinary days leave us cold.

NO WAY OUT, what could be worse. pretty soon we'll have nero fiddling while the gladiators tear the lions apart. not quite what i had in mind. this circus one of the few not to use animals. and you know, i hadn't even missed them at the time: the sad elephants, lions pacing behind bars, the seals balancing on balls.

without that dream, where am i to run? even at night i wander in strange cities, looking for sensual satisfaction and metaphysical meaning. no wonder my sheets twisted and torn.

pics of this wonderful bunch:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prosopagnosia, or how i learned to forget a face

in the literature this inability to recognize a face seen as a terrible defect. on the other hand it's an art i achieved the hard way: by growing older in the presence of many young people.

you see, i've spent most of my life hanging around colleges, soaking up what i can without doing it for grades, while enjoying the looks of young women in their prime. and this is where i acquired my skill.

youth looks pretty much the same. no wrinkles, bright eyes, puffy cheeks. and the lingo sounds pretty much the same, you know, sort of, man, that's cool. and after thirty years in this town i'm constantly misplacing faces.

i get used to a pretty one, and see it till it's about 23, then it disappears into outer space. and couple years later i see it on an 18 year-old. for a moment i'm startled. are we all recycled? it's entirely possible. and maybe we really are two thousand years old without knowing it.

so, the thing to do is don't keep anyone in sight until they radically change at 25. yes, it's the portrait of dorian grey all over again. the cheeks grow sallow, the bones jut out. furrows appear between the brows, the hair loses its luster. suddenly, a real person stands where once only an american idol did.

i have suffered this shock, alas. and it is quite disquieting. i have to hide my eyes. the mirror in the bathroom has become a museum. i try not to take it personally and shift my allegiance to the fledglings surrounding me in the history of photography. a photograph, now there's a holy object. paper your walls with them. and let them fade, just as the originals did.

as they say, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. here's the easter hunt for the golden one laid by a goose:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ordeal by roses: memories of a callow youth

gosh, i really haven't talked much about sex. what i mean to say is here. of course i stood in the junior high halls hearing various tales recounted. even then i could stand only so much concerning the reproductive organs. after an hour my stomach revolted.

the same thing happened on a plane to new york. a black pimp from san francisco sat next to me, eager to share his brothel stories. and again, for sixty minutes i delighted in the underbelly of human endeavors. alas, my interest gave out and i did not look at the briefcase of pictures he volunteered to share. turns out, he loved parading them before his family in ohio.

oh well, my ignorance is boundless and my own experiences back in the stone age. true, we almost made it to the hooker's ball at the cow palace in san francisco, 1978. i think we were all too fuzzy from the magic mushrooms. in north beach all the doors seemed built for midgets and the people in bars acted out bizarre scenes from batman. i suspect it must have all been too much for us.

and the two american prostitutes who sat down at my table in bali had just arrived from china. this in 1985. one had been frightened by the experience, the other brash. "we were probably the first ladies of the night to practice in that ancient land since the revolution." i felt a bit nervous with these pros, as the fish nibbled on the lotus blossoms in the pool by our feet.

a few times in my writing i have slipped over the edge into unholy fantasy. hopefully, those indecent missives buried deep in my storage locker. i do recall tall, dark women waving little red flashlights and laughing under a grey night-time overpass in san francisco. they certainly seemed to be feeling no pain. ah, but i remember the burnt-out young woman sitting on a windowsill outside city lights books, a moving and sad sight.

even though i'm too old for sex, i'm looking forward the erotica project at the blue room theatre strictly as an anthropologist. possibly, i'll learn what i should have at twenty-two. my pictures of roses will be on the lobby wall.

and you can find info on the entertainment here:

Monday, April 18, 2011

theater thrives in a theatrical age

i'm sitting by this lake in nepal, the himalayas rising behind me, indian newlyweds staring at each other: who is this stranger i've married by arrangement? (the high wedding season.) and suddenly i feel full of a definite desire: yes, i want to direct plays.

good gravy, where did that come from? i'd been directing pieces sporadically for forty years, gradually figuring out how to do it. so what's new? i'd wandered halfway around the world to discover i wanted to go back home.

trouble is, i'd experienced this rush of determination before, sitting in children's park watching a family of musicians, right across the street from the blue room theatre. i did end up doing work in this theater. and now it's all come to nothing. the audiences grow smaller and smaller as people retreat into their houses.

lured by the street scenes of the sixties, the vibrant stage effects everywhere, the trenches and dead of vietnam bleeding on the television all night, i felt inspired to write plays. unfortunately, that age of energy petered out with the repression of the media. even when i came to this town thirty years ago, people dressed up lavishly for halloween. clerks in stores played alice and rabbits. the evening filled up with zombies and angels.

alas, the students began getting too drunk, overturning cars and burning them. that led to a crackdown. last time i wandered downtown on halloween, the streets were empty except for undercover cops. one at a time they stood on street corners, faces painted, pretending to play harmonicas. jesus, i had to laugh. they stood out like sore thumbs.

you can get a theater crowd for musicals and cabaret, none of it very substantial. put on a revenger's tragedy or king lear and you're dead in the water. i've studied my whole life to create scenes out of pewter. and that occupation no longer exists.

here's a one-woman piece i did direct several years ago:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

losing touch with my own mythology

this morning i woke with a feeling of helplessness, as though my belief in my own abilities had evaporated. that's only happened once before. choreographing a dance for a class, i had a dancer go off and complain about me. the teacher jumped all over me. i became paralyzed until she came to a rehearsal and did with the dancers exactly what i had been doing. voila, the complaining dancer ended up experiencing the most success when we did a performance.

obviously i needed the support and approval of the teacher. it had very little to do with me and my methods.

the writer julia kristeva in black sun expounds the theory such dark states arrive because we've never mourned the loss of our mother. we ransack the earth trying to find the safety and comfort we once felt. we erect welfare states, we marry, we hit the bottle to feel warm and complete. it's a tough world when your mother done gone, as so many blues songs wail.

on the other hand, i like the thought of the portuguese poet fernando pessoa. he believes, as i do, we each have created a personal mythology about ourselves that keeps us going. the elements of this story could be made up of many things, some very mysterious. we might see ourselves as mirrors, always able to reflect the world around us. we might see ourselves capable of donning a cloak which makes us invisible.

perhaps we're all trying to compensate for the loss of community and family, creating an imaginary bubble to protect ourselves. and in moments of despair that bubble pops and the very things upon which we prided ourselves seem false and fear takes over. once that happens we find it difficult to function.

here's a series of poems dealing with such a story:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"a hero is a celebrity who has actually done something"

that's what a teacher told her first grade class. i hope at least one of those tots understood what she said, took it to heart, and put it in practice.

alas, my heroes tend tend to be those characters who seem to have been unable to do otherwise. yes, i've been hot on the trail of eccentrics. last night up til two a.m. i first haunted the web for traces of the blues singer skip james. years ago i had one of his albums 'the devil got my woman.' he sang in this eerie high voice that took me off to someplace else, and it didn't sound like he'd sucked in some helium. no, it didn't have that comic quality.

track him down yourself. he first took the train north in 1930 and recorded in wisconsin 18 blues tunes, stomping his feet, pounding the piano, and battering his guitar. he thought he'd be famous - ah, how many of us make that mistake! not heard of again for thirty years, he resurfaced during the blues craze of the sixties. that's a long time to wait, but better late than never.

and after skip, i got caught up in the performances and story of tiny tim. long ago i had his first album and played it into the ground. another performer singing falsetto, what's that all about? and i've always wanted to master the ukulele. my god, tiny couldn't do that much on it and look how far he got. on youtube you can find a touching video tracing the day of his death.

fifteen minutes of fame, is that what it's all about? perhaps, perhaps. better sometime than never. these people may not be the epitome of personality. i certainly would want to share an apartment with them. what i love is their exceeding the boundaries of behaviour and good taste and making it work for them, at least part-time.

i've already mentioned the movie '32 short films about glenn gould' and videos online of janis joplin, and the documentary about the very strange recluse henry darger, who created a 50,000 page graphic novel where pieces of it now clutched by the faithful as though relics of the true cross.

in the end i hate being so ordinary. true, i've attempted at times to be a clown, a worshiper of charlie chaplin and buster keaton, secretly feeling i'm really a comedian who wants to be taken as seriously as einstein.

i have uploaded several talks, bits of forty hours of entertainment created by myself, talks given at california state university in the distant past. you can download them here:

Monday, April 4, 2011

when you judge others, you must be perfect yourself

the amanda knox case making me a bit crazy, bringing out the best and worst in me. not the trials and jails so much, as the amazing opinions people have voiced on the basis of only headline knowledge.

in a way i can't blame them cause i did the same. the lurid story of sex and murder involving a beautiful young woman, that's a perfect piece for national enquirer, yet how many people believe that tabloid? or the papers in the UK, the most slanderous and slimy in the world? they had a field day.

what's actually worse, reading comments on the web. i found the best and the worst in a thread on a site called and i'd like to present them. remember, judging others, you damn yourself.

which should i present first, the impossible or the likely? guess i'll do the first. it's more entertaining.

I'm a psychotherapist, and that doesn't mean that I know anything, but I'm over 60y/o and I tend to know Crazy when I see it. I see a psychotic look in her eye.
She said to a Jewish guy: "My people (German) killed your people" and she laughed and laughed and kept saying it. I've seen this kind of 'evil' before. It's an attempt, as one sadistic person put it: "to mess with the insides of the brain" That was the true intent of a laughter with a comment as the above.
This chick has a "Sexual Personality Disorder" with another diagnosis of "sexual fetishism of some sort." Sadism, tho rarely seen in women, is pretty horrific and can even be more creative and bizarre than seen in male sadists.
I agree w/one of the posters who suggested that there were 2 Amandas. These people can create as many of themselves as they choose. They aren't like Multiples, b/c a Multiple Personality has 'no choice' and the underlying character is changed. Amanda had a choice when she had her out of control blood thing, she did when she accused that innocent bar owner.
It's amazing how people can say how this girl is normal.
MOST schzophrenia episodes occur during the time when an 18-22 y/o is first away from home
Either way, God help us if "she" is outta jail. I mean, you wouldn't want Manson outta Jail? I know the details haven't been all air tighted etc. But the smell in the air says "knox is one sick child." Even if she had no role in the murders, which I can't believe, she is one sick puppy and isn't the person her "friends"
and mother describe.

now i know why my doctor friend thinks pyschiatrists evil! hope you never went to this one.

here's the second quote:

I am a journalist, live in italy and follow this case very well from the beginning. I am absolutely sure that Amanda Knox is innocent, and so is as well her boyfriend. There is no proof against them, just nothing: no blood, no DNA, no camera's, no witness. The killer is Guede. All the proof, DNA, blood, fingerprints: on the body, in the bed, in the room, in the bathroom is from Guede. This boy escaped immediately after the murder and was only found because of his DNA, sperm and blood in te bed and on the body of the victim. There has been lots of bull shit in the newspapers about Knox; I am afraid that she became somehow a kind of wet dream of lots of male journalists.- and some of the comments above. This Knox was just a normal girl, happy, in love with her Italian boyfriend, before that her room mate has been murdered. She is not 'normal'anymore: a weird kind of celebrity, nearly a year in prison and a shock about everything what happened

these from sept 29, 2008, and it's gone from bad to worse with uninformed opinion. sad so many live in the hell of impossible perfection.