Sunday, May 29, 2011

finding my inner animal

yes, i'm no longer so sure about free will. reading the male brain and the female brain, i collapse into a deep doubtfulness. with all those hormones controlling our moods, not to mention circumstances like poverty and the weather, how could i be so sure i'd chosen to do what i'd done. after all, as i've said before, personalities don't change much unless there's brain damage.

this left me in a pickle. ambiguity might be fine for poetry and philosophy, yet it won't cut up a steak or fry a fish. and as for the vanity of human wishes, these become more and more apparent the older i get. does anything of the individual survive? true, a bit of wit and common sense (hopefully) may pass into other people. alas, i haven't created a gene for either.

kids and animals, ah, i remember when i had don juan (a dog) at bunker hill (my first lookout), the visiting children certainly cottoned to him more than the magnificent mountain view. curious by instinct, the little ones get into everything. even in high school in germany i snuck with a friend onto a general's train (we got caught), a steel mill - walking those high iron catwalks across hills of coal - and into an international trade fair, going under the fence. in fact i'm sure my desert uncle shocked when i searched through all the debris he'd collected.

damn, i've never lost that. when i walk into a bookstore, i immediately grab whatever comes next: crockery, learning spreadsheets, teenage horror. is this really human? after all, if an old guy pranced up and down the aisles dancing like that little princess in the pink dress, they'd haul him away to the nuthouse. i'm ever in terror my inner goat will take over and begin butting the human butts sitting in the cafe chairs. 'get up! there's more to life than that!!'

all this came to a head as i took pictures at the county fair this weekend: click in the upper right hand corner for a slideshow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

a treatise on the false law of self-interest

it's so interesting that people act self-destructively more often than not. me, for example. i should have been saving money all this long life of mine to enjoy a stable, comfortable old-age. alas, in college english class we read an essay on 'the deadly coils of comfort.' and i fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

as a result, i've wasted everything on creative projects. getting into photography, i spent a fortune on cameras and accessories, not to mention books, and books, and books. what am i to do now, discovering i could do it all on a cell-phone! thank god the value of lenses goes up.

or theater. i cannot tell you how much time and loot i've squandered on this particular madness. staging shows, writing them, watching them (71 in one new york spring). putting my heart into this celebration of the transitory, i certain haven't gathered many stellar reviews - it always seems like there's a fly in the ointment: an actor who can't learn his lines, an actress who throws fits, cries, threatens to bail.

in fact, i did combine photos with actors in one vainglorious exhibition where i installed hundreds of shots. alas, the only reason anybody found it was because the room used for talks and meetings. okay, i learned public art the best. put yourself where people can't get around you and have to step on you, as squishy as you are.

cutting to the chase, workers in the midwest of the u.s.a. stormed the gates for ronald reagan. how did he do it, making them destroy their factories and jobs? HE APPEALED TO THEIR VANITY! he'd be seen drinking evenings in bars with the hardhats, having stabbed them in the back with a presidential initiative that afternoon. they fell for the public image of themselves as tough, all-american and able to hold their liquor.

'never attack a man's self-image'. and you know why? that personal perception of oneself worth more than all the tea in china. vanity, vanity, all is vanity. where did i read that? only too true, it is. you can fool almost anyone by manipulating their desire to be something they're probably not. if they were who they are, maybe then they'd act in their own self-interest. until then....

the graduation videos, or how i think i learned something....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

my last performance in paris

good gravy, i didn't know anyone was watching! yet i'm immortalized by ben willis in 'THE TAO OF ART':

Many years ago when I was an art student in Paris there were numerous colourful characters living beneath the bridges along the Seine on the Left Bank. Some of these were protesting students or long-haired Existentialists, the precursors of modern hippies, some of them simply vagabonds or derelicts. Since I was often drawing along the river I had the opportunity to study and even sketch some of these people.

I remember one in particular who by anyone's standards would be called the most disreputable of vagabonds, a tramp. He was always dressed in the same unbelievably tattered overcoat that reached his ankles, patched, baggy trousers (a rope for a belt), a crumpled fedora jammed about his ears and his feet wrapped in bundles of rags.

What distinguished my favorite tramp was that he danced - suddenly, joyfully, spontaneously, with or without music. When he danced - his arms floating lightly on the air to either side, his hands and fingers undulating expressively, his feet gliding surely and nimbly across the cobblestones, his body turning in parabolic, swirling, stately pirouettes to a measured inner rhythm only he could hear - he was pure poetry, and the bliss reflected in his crumpled, bearish face was a joy to see.

For he became something entirely free that soared above life but was at once life itself in all of its diversity, all its turmoil and all its spiritual heart. He wasn't intoxicated or mad - he was creating, with all he had, with the inner material of life, which is what creativity is.

yes, this was the me you didn't see. i sold out and became a star, as you know from my publicity photos:

this week i snapped portraits of 50 people revealing themselves:

Monday, May 16, 2011

when i got a harley davidson motorcycle, i got religion

my sister just sent me a fun email:

Well just when you think you know someone True I like to believe that life is stranger than fiction....but when Marge called and swore her life has changed because of some cd s recorded from the grave I gotta wonder well shes left me a copy in my mailbox and says I have to be in a very positive mood when i listen...

this got me thinking, especially since our father a minister and i've been amazed at how captivating the biblical stories are. what's it all about, religion, i mean?

1. most people pretty lonesome. freud said our primary urge to join a small group. a bridge club, a salsa society, you name it. and that's part of it. you can know the identity of every person. it's not like passing an endless stream of people on the street and feeling like a stranger.

2. this membership allows the lonely to limit their horizon. they no longer feel insignificant when looking at the stars from a fishing boat.

3. questions, we're overwhelmed with them. human beings born curious. watch those kids get into everything. too many questions. our subscription to the tea potty supplies the answers and gives us the opportunity to get up and shout. drugs at a dance do the same thing.

as for motorcycles, what else? the feeling of power surging between your knees. wow, that doesn't take a freud to tell what that's all about. and once you choose your machine, you trick it out like an alter, you make it all your own. yet, those rides, those meetings, sales at the dealer crowded with the like-minded. you're not alone.

a retired professor friend who bought a cruiser sent me this ad. i think it sums up what i'm saying. the myth: you are an individual. the truth: and joining others, you become the storm-troopers of the second millennium:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

penis envy, or 'the little one that could'

like most hypothetically heterosexual guys, i've been reluctant to tackle this subject. it seems like any study of the male tallywacker would lead to a fascination with naked guys and eventually to midnight meetings in the park and aids. remember: the fear of being thought gay once the number one terror of a healthy american boy. wear green on thursday? never!

unfortunately, this left most of us in the dark (so to speak) on the facts of sex. i don't suppose any body's as ignorant as we were in the old days, when you suddenly discovered by yourself the incredibly pleasant orgasm. and that secret knowledge had to be hid. i doubt if my generation ever recovered from it.

what set me off on the quest of knowledge, a volume of world poetry, an accidental discovery of a poem 'the penis' by a 14th century welsh poet daffyd ap gwilym. by god, he hit it right on the head (so to speak):

By God penis, you must be guarded
with eye and hand
because of this lawsuit, straight-headed pole,
most carefully for evermore;
net-quill of the cunt, because of
complaint a bridle must be put on your snout
to keep you in check so that you are not indicted
again, take heed you despair of minstrels.

a rousing beginning, to say the least. what a perdition puberty leads us to. here's what louann brizendine says in 'the male brain': If testosterone were beer, a nine-year-old boy would get the equivalent of one cup a day. But by age fifteen it would be equal to twogallons a day. get that, guys. no wonder you felt drunk every time your eyes staggered around english class, landing on one burgeoning breast after another.

You are a trouserful of wantonness,
your neck is leather, image of a goose's neckbone;
nature of complete falsity, pod of lewdness,
door-nail which causes a lawsuit and trouble.

yes, it's hard to love a slave-master that flogs you all the time, a second nose by which you are always being led. yes, the most fun and adventure i've had in my life the result of this, and i luckily escaped the consequences. but, whew, looking back on it, the chances i took! were they really worth it? our poet obviously not as fortunate.

Consider that there is a writ and an indictment,
lower your head, stick for planting children.
It is difficult to keep you under control,
cold thrust, woe to you indeed!
Often is your lord rebuked,
obvious is the rottenness through your head.

so much for wales in 1350. some things never change. and i turned to wikepedia, of course, and found thickness gives more pleasure to the ladies than length. good gravy, that makes all kinds of sense. they've been telling us for years to stimulate the clitoris, and that fountain of joy very close to the entrance. looks like this has more to do with men competing with men.

next, after the erotica project being delightfully presented at the blue room theatre for the ladies, i say, let's turn to the penis project, stand up for the little guy! come see my rose photos in the lobby. and i've posted more online:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the little boy who got to cry fire

to be a movie-star is not enough, you have to head up a rock band and tour the country. Kevin Bacon passed through town with his brother last weekend and played the el rey theater. the forty dollar admission too much. still, i thought about waylaying him in the alley and saying, "hey, kevin, i'm the fire lookout you visited 23 years ago."

yes, that my most intense experience of hollywood. the crew repainted my lookout, covered the buildings next door so they'd looked older. everybody ate a hot lunch a la fellini, gazing down upon crystal lake, while they bitched about the cheap producer only spending 80,000 dollars a day! i remember how kevin during a conversation got the call for his one minute of work. suddenly, his focus shifted, narrowed, totally on the scene to come.

of course, i had to write him a play. unfortunately, it about a gay social worker with his own band. this obviously not the flavor he wanted to project at that stage in his career (before fame and going to the moon). i can understand his boredom with movie-making. the director the sole person on the set working all the time. otherwise it's like war, wait, wait, wait, BANG!

and as a rock star you don't have to share the limelight with anyone. this for performers who didn't get listened to as kids. and i too wrote songs for awhile, took voice lessons, sang once in a coffee-house. in the end it's nerve-wracking. yesterday, passing roadies unloading tons of equipment at the senator theater, i thought, 'all this road time. what a bore.'

instead, i meditate on a mountain, and every once in awhile i leap to my feet and call on the radio with false calmness, 'SMOKE REPORT.' 500 people go into motion, trucks, airplanes, helicopters. all hell breaks loose. the adrenalin flows. ah, my fix for the day is over. i go back to daydreaming.

rose, roses, and more roses:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

on having a birthday when i shouldn't

slumped over in a chair, reading and writing for fifty years, i figured i'd be finished at 60, my spine like a noodle, my eyes growing dim, my hearing nonexistent. SURPRISE. i'm still here, walking and talking.

true, i took extreme chances, which i do not recommend. no health insurance for 42 years. i kept telling myself, life is fatal, you're headed to only one place, you only know one thing for certain. a hundred years ago no one had health insurance. okay, it was all self-hypnosis and i should be pushing up daisies.

my father died of a heart-attack at 53 and my grandfather lived to be 100. with that kind of spread, i understood: IT'S ALL A CRAP-SHOOT. besides, i've been very lucky with money, in debt once for a month, otherwise completely solvent. not buying a house or having kids helped in that department. parenting the most exhausting job in the world.

now, i did make a few bets with the angels. i said, i'll devote myself to creativity, if you'll do your part. and standing on my mountain i whispered to the forest, i'll take care of you, you take care of me. so far so good. i know i can age overnight and turn to dust. never a pleasant thought, and yet sometimes i tire of the tension and think, i've used it all up, time to rest.

i will share a couple of open secrets. i try to walk at least an hour a day. alas, i'm too lazy to lift anything and point to the butler when that's necessary. (no, there is no butler, but you know what i mean. as oscar wilde said, our servants will do our living for us. that's why we have movie-stars and politicians.)

tip number two: i take a fistful of supplements every day. when it came out, i read a book called STOP AGING NOW by jean carper, and i've pretty much taken her advice and a lot of pills: l-tyrosine, mega minerals, vitamins, extra vitamin b & d. coenzyme q10, folic acid, odourless garlic, glucosamine/chondroitin/msm, a big dose of calcium/magnesium at night (really does stave off many aches and pains), add to these my child's aspirin, welbutrin, prozac and prisolec. and more.

that scratches the surface. my doctor says, you have very expensive urine! but my thought is if my cells need even one thing for sure, i'll hand them a shotgun to get it.

so, my friends, as my therapist buddy says, if you want to have a good death, don't wait til you're incapacitated. whew, if i only had the necessary foresight. love to you all.

ps. and then there's always theater. i've a show rose photos in the lobby: this performance will make a dead-man walk.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Fear is the best antidote for ennui."

ah, so that's why halloween 3 and chainsaw massacre do so well at the box office. and many moons ago daniel boorstin in the image said americans literally bored to death.

so, do our wars seem like accidents? forget it. a volunteer armed forces working cause so many young adults can't stand the suburbs and projects. of course, being a drug dealer more thrilling and enterprising. alas, a criminal must pretty much go it alone. in combat buddies watch each other's backs and bond. the u.s.a. has been at war since the beginning. and the civil war relieved the populous of a threatening peace.

you see, in all music keys change places, not to create a new mood (unless major to minor or vice verso), rather our short attention-span sidetracked and revived by it, temporarily. change tricky, of course. almost all violent revolutions ultimately bore the citizens so badly they opt for an even more repressive government. and in our own lives change doesn't suggest itself often. no wonder personalities never improve unless there's brain-damage.

when i walked out of a therapist's office for the first time, i had a weird sensation. i realized it was fear. good gravy, i'd been afraid my whole life and that's what's kept me safe. i simply can't stay in the same place for long - the gods might find me, death might strike - either intellectually or physically. after all, the gods invented humans out of boredom.

what about foreign travel? i always thought i needed to gain experience to be a writer. and think of all the down times, the dirt, grit, bedbugs, almost fatal romances. did i live in a berlin basement to disguise my terror with wartime memories? fear is not only the cure for ennui, it's the medicine for trembling.

you can listen to an account of my time in berlin here: