Friday, March 30, 2012

men's worst fears were realized last night

and at least one man's savage enjoyment. i admit having a perverse sense of humor. true, i try to be a moralist and once in awhile i succeed. other times, despite a strong resistance, i surrender to black comedy, and go home chuckling through the dark streets, as i did last evening after the secretaries at the blue room theatre. this morning i feel a bit of remorse, of course. and then i start laughing all over again. 

during the first act, always a setup, i kept making excuses for not getting involved. the story not convincing, the scene changes too long, why would anybody want to do this show, and so on. bringing out the bloody chainsaw just before the intermission made me stay. (no spoilers here, look at the poster). and the second act paid off in spades, exactly as it must do to make for a satisfying play. underneath, my terrible animal lust for blood and sex fulfilled. if i make any apologies, it's for not knowing myself better.

yes, none of us likes a goody-two-shoes, whatever that expression means. all the research into sexual websites prove men like strong women. if they didn't, the margaret thatcher of the iron lady would not have held the post of british prime minister for so long. nor would meryl streep have received an academy award for playing the role. what i don't like -and perhaps most men - is whining and complaining about being oppressed.  i hate those traits in any form. the violence in the real world of the black panthers didn't receive any sympathy from me. barack and micheal obama, on the other hand, have my admiration, despite any perceived and real flaws. nobody likes a cry-baby.

so what about the show? the actresses delightful, obviously having a great time.   oddly, i quickly got over "this is acting", which after fifty years dabbling in the profession, i often do not. instead, they caught the tone and rode it. secondly, the scene changes should have thrown me out of the world of it, and didn't. perhaps, since these were working women, moving furniture just seemed part of their job. and the renovation of the new girl in town exactly what i wished, perversely developing in a way i could believe, that the real difficulty of directing and acting this piece. 

as for men's worst fears and their ultimate delight in them, look at the covers of many manly magazines from the fifties and sixties. secretly, as long as they too can make a pay-check, men relieved at the rise of women and the lessened pressure. at least, i am. and i say this at some personal cost. highly recommended for mature audiences. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

on being an intermittent health fanatic

yes, on again, off again. for example, two people persuaded me to be a vegetarian. one a doctor in pollock pines, california. he showed me pictures of the esophagus and insisted it proved humans not meant to eat meat. the other fellow an actor in new york. i'd seen him perform off-broadway and one night found myself sitting next to him at the theater. he radiated health and youth. my god, turned out he's forty-five. i asked him his secret. you guessed it, lay off the animal products. 

which i did for thirty-two years, until i had an asthma attack. where i live the respiratory disease capital of the world, yet i'd had no problem in twenty-six years, dropping dairy and wheat whenever i felt a twinge of the local allergies. ach, suddenly, after eating three pieces of cheese one spring afternoon, i gasped for air. terrified, i convinced myself i could die at any moment. eventually, no collapsed lung or other devastating physical disability, the doctors figured out what it was. luckily, the vitamin expert at the produce market said you have to learn to breathe again. 

what a concept! my doctor suggested something very simple, breathe out and relax when you choke up. yes, i had been trying to take a breath after a sip of water. ever notice how you breathe out, as a natural matter of course. fear had me trying to do the opposite. i visited an eighty-two year old chiropractor in amazing health. she believed in eat right for your blood type. as an O positive i required meat. now i only tend to believe people who practice what they teach, who inspire by example. what fun to have a hamburger after three decades!

right or wrong, i do eat a bit of meat. buffalo feels healthy, beef doesn't. and the journalists keep repeating, the latest evidence, red meat causes cancer, heart-attacks, obesity. this week i watched fat, sick and nearly dead. the over-weight australian travels the usa with a juicer, talking with infamous americans over three hundred pounds. on his fast he loses over a hundred pounds and finds freedom from powerful prescription drugs for the first time in ten years. i immediately browsed the stores in town and bought a jack lalane machine. 

with another birthday coming up and younger people dropping dead all over the place, i'd like to reduce my girth. disguising it with loose shirts, i can't avoid my protruding stomach in the morning's mirror. in a few minutes i'll have my first taste of inebriating grass. stay posted.

following the advice of leonardo davinci, i keep finding figures in carpet stains and landscape photos. we really do live in a mythical world. i've entered a king arthur series in a photo contest. be sure and read the captions. it's definitely not what they're looking for! well, why not?

Jack Lalane: 


Friday, March 23, 2012

i've been misled by many influences

almost every significant creator riding the crest of a wave. i once took a class in shakespeare's contemporaries, ben jonson, christopher marlowe, etc. the prof said, "imagine william listening to the others and thinking i can write a better clown than you! " i often wonder what influence san francisco and north beach had on me? as an aging teenager, i wandered in and out of the co-existence bagel shop, mike's place, city lights, starting in 1956. a lit prof in berkeley brought alan ginzberg to class and he read from kaddish, which he'd been o revising in the quad. in retrospect, beardless, how incredibly young he looked. 

who was that teaching assistant who read my first poems? later he became a legend in poetry circles, jack gilbert, views of jeopardy. 

and what about josphine miles, a poet and teacher crippled in a wheel-chair who encouraged me, hearing my first efforts? for better or worse, youth needs inspiration from a crowd. no wonder new york the mecca. all in all, i spent three years on Manhattan, beginning in 1962. back and forth across america by bus and car, not even having read on the road.

or what about being a firelookout? i'd visited my first, cone peak, at eleven in 1951. and i applied to montana at seventeen, in the heart of the beat era. i'm not even sure i knew then snyder and kerouac had been tower-sitters. gary, to this day,  asked time and again about his two summers on desolation peak. and here i am working on my  fifty first year and forty-ninth season. actually, i didn't know any of these guys. that probably removes me from my role as the last beatnik, despite the virus entering my blood, never to leave. 

maybe it's important to be able to see yourself as part of a generation. i'll have to go back and read some of my own poems:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

most people find meaning through their children

as usual, i'm amazed by the obvious. who would have thought i'd spend my first full evening with a  new ipad going through my friends list on facebook. stumbled into it, just like everything else i've done. and i had revelations, expected and surprising. for example, i missed certain people out of the hundreds, mostly their quirky attitudes, insights, and conversation. we only have a few people who've had our experiences or can relate to them.

and of course, this business of having children. quite a few on my list former students i met from 1995 to 2009 while auditing theater and choreography classes. the team-work rubs off, easier for me to relate. blew me away how many have been busy creating kids. one said, if you haven't seen a child take her first step, what a lot you've missed! and suddenly, ah, that's it, those miracles that happen before children turn eight. most parents seem to remember their children  at that age, to recall the three-year old when the thirty-year-old going through her second divorce, her offspring part of a heart-ache. 

yes, all my close friends pretty lucky. a few have lost children early, to car-accidents and cancer. they experienced a tragedy i can only faintly imagine. partly their own mortality gone, mostly they'll never experience the full cycle, whatever good or bad it brings. one friend felt so guilty for his twelve-year-old son's death he gave himself diabetes in atonement. these early deaths seem so outrageous, so out of order, so unfair. and again,  the meaning of life is lost.

oppositely, the new grandmothers simply gaga over their new grand kids! now they can have the fun of experiencing those early years all over. and it does feel like the quest to be remembered will be fulfilled. i don't mean to diminish the pleasure, the immediate experience. they plunge back into the present moment as though it hadn't left them years ago. 

looking on a tablet at this parade of a familiar humanity much easier than on a big computer screen, more intimate, it's sitting in your lap, you can pick it up, lay it down, and most of all, flick through the pictures with your fingertip, almost touching the crowd out there, spread across the earth. i invite you to look through your own history. and if you branch off into a friend of a friend and then a friend of theirs, you'll perhaps experience how close all of us ultimately are. 

yes, for me life a circus, where i'm a clown. a few of us have to be left on our own to teach and entertain the masses.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

let's celebrate the end of historical time

okay, it's not a new concept. that said, on a personal level, the internet gives me the whole of the past, including art, science, religion, etc. i've caved into this fact, buying a new, fast laptop and the updated ipad this week, and i'm eligible for a new smartphone. you say, you, the world-traveler, how can you do this to yourself? yes, i sacrificed a trip to paris, a walk in kyoto, all for virtual adventure. luckily these tools arrived after i'd squandered my youth.

and speaking of that glorious, miserable time, i ran across this modigliani painting on my tablet:

okay, it's a pleasant picture, how does it relate? this reproduction, large-size, pinned above the bed where i first got laid, fifty years ago. i won't be too indiscreet, but i simply couldn't get it up the first night, rising to drink coffee and hiding my shame. does the event exist out there in the universe, replaying itself, time no longer of any consequence? seems like it. we certainly remember the anxious moments vividly, for whatever reason. this story had a happy ending, for her too, her first time, though ignorance doesn't necessarily bring bliss.

here's a photograph from an earlier era, my first year at an advanced educational institution, valparaiso unversity, where they allowed dancing on campus for the first time, never at a loss for lust, i'm sure. yes, i began my girl-watching in earnest that season.

this dorm next to the railroad tracks. every time a train passed, dust rained down from the ceiling. i did at least complete one campus tradition, kissing a coed on the bridge over the tracks as an engine thundered by underneath. yes, life not really linear, merely a collection of episodes. 

at one point many moons ago, polish circus posters fascinated me. in those days you couldn't find many reproductions. suddenly, last night, i felt inspired and looked them up on the web. there they were in all their glory. 

my god, what a feast! i downloaded over a hundred of them and began drawing big-top drawings of my own. 

you can see more: we've found eternal life, even if it doesn't last that long. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

coming late to the party (millenials)

well, i've certainly been out of the loop. here i am, finally living with my own generation, and i didn't even know it. damn, all i had to do was look around the room, i mean the classrooms where i audit classes, listening to lectures over and over, hoping to learn by osmosis, this the fifth time with the history of photography, and with three different teachers. and now i've stumbled upon a welcome truth. 

on the same day, drinking my coffee at the bookstore cafe, i browsed two technical magazines: howdesign and the british version of wired. lo and behold, articles in both explained the same issue, the habits of the millenials. jeez, i must admit, i'd never heard the term. as described, this the generation born between 1978 and 1999, exactly the kids i've been sitting beside, thinking all the time i understood them. as usual, i entertained a fallacy. 

evidently, these very students the group of which they speak, described as multi-taskers, those who believe what they read online, more devoted to their private life than work (they've caught up with the french), seeing work as a series of experiences and not a career, hopping from train-car to train car, not afraid of change, and liking to work in teams. lord, where have i been. most of this obvious when i think about it, which i obviously hadn't.

that last paragraph describes myself. you could throw in their 'feeling of entitlement' and 'readiness to leap onto the latest, greatest thing.' previous generations advised 'not to try to hard to realate' and 'understand the social consciousness and commitment of these budding souls.' not rebels against their parents in the old sense, they like their parents' taste in music and movies. take the latest oscar winner the artist, a silent film. now that's going back some!

yes, they may very well drop out. why wait til you graduate to change the world? they're inspired by the TEDD.COM talks, like me, and though i'm certainly not a 'futuremaker', i can understand the thrill of being one. hey, folks, the world may be in better hands than we think. i certainly hope so, since i'll be soon skipping school permanently. 

if i may coin a phrase: life is one long improvisation. for example, last evening i took my camera to the park. on the way i noticed knot-holes in fences, which have always fascinated me. i snapped a few pics and found a common thread when i arrived back at my computer. here's eve and the serpent:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

an attempt at an obituary

what makes this so difficult? i mean, i've always wandered cemeteries and read the notes on tombstones: in life she was anything but an angel, now she has a chance. hey, i could written that about myself. better to be witty than too serious about the whole subject. after all, the world won't exist once i'm gone. poof, vanished, lost in space. as my friend randy said before he died, 'when i retired, i thought the forest service couldn't go on without me. in the fall i visited the office and i overheard some kid ask, "who's that old dude?"'

somehow i care what people might say, all the conversations in the world 90% gossip. yet i don't expect to be mentioned at the water cooler all that often, though i'd like the lazy bums to use one of my aphorisms now and then, even if they don't know where it came from. the mother creates the poet (and kills him). i could talk about that for awhile. she puffs him up and then he explodes with drink or an overdose, leaving a trail of lovely lines behind. shall i compare thee to a summer's day? poor guy, they were lying on the beach as she watched the oiled and muscular guy play volleyball. 

i could go to the other extreme. in airplanes he always assumed he'd be the lone survivor. of course, being the last human being on the planet can't be much fun. imagine adam before eve, bent sadly over his grape juice and petting a cougar. god realized his creation needed lots of trouble to wake him up. yes, the sexes enliven each other. and when they discover what sex leads to, the murder of abel by caine, it's too late and they have to deal with the divorce. no wonder 41% of babies born in america today to single woman. they've realized though they might miss a bit of alimony the guy will probably be a dead-beat. 

born into a world of war, he tried to be at peace with himself. unfortunately, that one doesn't apply to me. in my philosophy you have to suffer if you want to be like other people and relate to their lives. sitting for years under the bo tree like the buddha good for some people. i'd rather ride a bus through the costa rican jungle, even if the road be bumpy. alas, self-deception the reason we have so many conversations with ourselves, to find agreement on just about every prejudice we have. yes, we're not alone. and i'm not getting any closer to the objective, an unvarnished statement of the truth. 

hmm, the only thing i can say for sure, 'he encouraged other people to be independent. no wonder he passed away in solitude.'

here's evidence of his obsession with funerary monuments. he always read the dates to see how long the  permanently reclining had lived:

Friday, March 9, 2012

our bodies are a process, not an object

nothing makes me break out into a sweat like wrestling with this fact. i'd rather be a machine with replaceable parts and the know-how to do it myself. alas, i'm basically a flowing river held together by the banks of my skin. to understand the brain a two pound sponge mostly full of water, how does that help me keep my feet on the ground? and with my blood flowing fifty thousand miles a day, can i really be expected to control my thoughts?

for a contr0l-freak like myself, this the issue. to actually experience my body during a colonoscopy, to smell a kiss, to wash my underwear, is that really all i can do? so much is literally out of my hands. why have friends so much younger died? am i suffering from survivor-guilt? (unlikely) i wish i were somehow separate from nature. for instance, it's spring, lots of sunlight, warm days. my body bounces like a cork on the sea - and that's the key to being an american, walking with a little hop. 

or if i listen to smooth jazz, i can feel myself flowing slowly over the walls, to the moon and back, a part of the liquidity of life. if i weren't so susceptible to being hypnotized, could i really write poetry or fall in love? and to my horror i find i'm the living proof of change, enjoying feeling good lying around, rather than charged up by the sites of a foreign shore. comfort, i know, is the great enemy of creativity, yet these gorgeous mornings i fall asleep over my tea and dream of heavens not reachable on earth. yes, the memory of the journey much more enjoyable than the sand-fleas and train-crashes of the actual. 

i'm a little frightened. this very drop in adventure marked my friend berta's exit days. her last trip to some island in the south pacific to see an unusual sculpture left her unsatisfied. she'd rather read a book or go paint out graffiti than visit another alien place. and then she died, at sixty. true, her sister sat her down with a world map and they stuck pins in all the places she'd been. the earth looked like a porcupine. maybe she needed time to relish the prospect of that final journey, though she hated leaving the pack she carried everywhere behind. 

we are a journey. perhaps this is a better way of saying it. you can find pictures of my travelling companion as she circled the earth like an albatross, never lighting too long:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

how women playing sports changed the world

many, many, many years ago, a lawyer friend said, women not making it in business, they don't act as part of the team. in those days, i expect the ladies mainly had motherhood as a model and learned to be ruthless - as we know a mom will tear you apart with her teeth to save her child, this the reason human beings have survived. not really a good basis for team-play. i'd argue soccer leagues and olympic basketball have toughened up those who in olden times could lift a wagon out of the mud. 

yes, through the modern magazines, the female of the species learned she had to be decorous to get the house and kids. when i first came to town, all the college fraternities and sororities participated in the pioneer day parade. the guys would be outrageous, over-the-top with parodies of cavemen and taxi-drivers. the gals, alas, couldn't break loose, had to look pretty, no face distorted  by a disdainful laugh or bold gesture. 

and what a shock it was when once in high school, i walked by a kitchen door to hear the girls inside swearing like sailors! today, walking down the street at noon,  i hear four-letters words come out the most beautiful mouths. when women started buffeting each other in roller-derbies, all pretense ended. and i maintain their sports the most fun to watch, the most emotionally expressive. by comparison men appear well-oiled machines, it's either gorilla looks or high-fives, way more stylized by comparison.

and it doesn't take watching margaret thatcher in the iron lady to see there's been a seismic shift - though her end came when she lost the ability to play on a team, going off into the mother-hen syndrome. at home things have changed too. the boys used to be filled full of hot air and probably still are. no wonder they collapse in a sodden heap after forty. the girls taught to be real, even if having to hide their toughness. with the change in economies to electronics and detail and personal communication, this founding in their own being paying off. 

if you don't believe me, watch the video. yes, a woman in boots alarms me! historically, only the dominatrix in comic books wore  them. now the pounding  behind me and not the click-click of high-heels says to me, move over. 

volleyball shots:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

us old folks dance to a different rhythm

admittedly, i'm watching my body to see what's going to give out first. with my grandfather it was hearing, though he lived to a few days shy of a hundred in otherwise vigorous health. for my mother eyesight, she'd measles at five and kept reading under the covers with a flashlight. for my father his heart, collapsing at fifty-three from high strains like war and divorce. i just hope it's not my feet, walking my main physical pleasure.

okay, the research comes tumbling in from mri's, brain waves, reevaluations. for example, i've just watched two long lecture series from the great courses dot com. why anybody would enjoy sitting in from of a talking head for so long, i don't know. in school, where i had no control, they bored me. as i can pick and choose my attitude has changed. on memory by a professor from toronto canada taught me i'm still too afraid to look at Alzheimer's, i skipped those talks. otherwise, i kept on course to find out startling new findings.

sounds like i'm going to sell you something, doesn't it? every pill company advertises a cure for your man- or womanhood! however this has nothing to do with a medical miracle. rather, a new study. supposedly our memory collapses as we grow older. hurray, no true. motor memory continues though the body itself may malfunction. and semantic memory where experiences have turned into words remains quite high. ah, but you ask, short-term memory, what about where i put my keys? 

well, at six in the morning you can probably can find them, at two in the afternoon it's questionable. you see, our body (circadian) rhythms change. turns out former memory tests done on the aging in the afternoon by younger people. the former had to bow to the latter. then, a researcher got suspicious and started testing the ancient and the inexperienced early in the morning. voila! the parents defeated the children. that's why you like to go to bed at nine and get up at six, and your offspring sleep til noon and get lively at midnight. we truly live in different worlds. and if you want to win at chess with your sixteen year old overachiever, challenge her before breakfast and you'll win, hands down.

alas, self-discipline doesn't drop away. exercise renews the brain, slimming down prolongs life - have you ever seen a fat hundred year-old person? never, never, never. and being a slug in front of the tv probably won't keep you sharp at ninety-five. raise that dopamine, it stimulates the desire to learn, to find out, to research, to keep going. and dancers make better moves. 

here's a video: 

Monday, March 5, 2012

confessions of a multi-tasker

okay, i must admit, first of all, i'm not the genuine article. it turns out nobody is! the key the switching station: how quickly can you jump from one track to another? i'm a poor loser at games, and that must be my inherent flaw: once i'm concentrating on one thing, the rest of the world disappears. for example, driving from here to san francisco, listening to, engrossed in a novel on tape like next by michael crichton, i'm completely absorbed in the dubious world of genetic engineering. how i arrive on the bay bridge i have no idea. maybe i stepped into superman's phone booth, transported.

no, in my case, multi-tasking means getting bored. for better or worse, i've gone from writing poetry, to writing plays, a novel, aphorisms. and when the bean-bags took over the white house ten years ago, i switched to photography, digital art, drawing, certainly a lame-duck leonardo. if it's any consolation, i'm barren of a career, fame, fortune, an invisible man in a backwater. that said, i have had a lot of fun. well, almost, too impatient to bring any art to perfection. 

turns out, master-switchers do exist, if you look at the most recent edition of the magazine american mind. a minor percentage of human beings act like magicians, using sleight-of-hand to accomplish it all. and what's most surprising, brain researchers observe these folks do not go on red-alert with more to do. their minds continue with the same level of activity. hmm, when i'm on a submarine, hunted by the enemy, i'd like one of these fellows at the helm. and perhaps that's where leaders arise. can you imagine being the president, shaking hands with the premier of china with the right hand, while dishing out truffles to shady benefactors with the left? 

interestingly, if i could create a new organ for the brain, it would take us in the opposite direction, measuring any overloads, avoiding obesity, insanity, and exhaustion on the dance-floor. what we lack most of all, the ability to listen to ourselves, even as we have interior dialogues with teachers, scuba-divers, and poker-players. turns out we can't pay complete attention - consciously - to anything for even one minute. i really have no idea how i've survived all these years. i do know a disturbing inner encounter will make me bite the inside of my lip. does it happen to you? maybe that limit on the pedal may already exist in embryo. 

alas, spring has me hopping like fleas on a mustang. here's a few pictures of the compound where i live trying to calm myself down:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

the past changes every day

the past changes every day

though i read first five don juan books by carlos castenda, i could never agree with the indian sage on this point: erase your personal memory. i can't remember his reasoning and only the opposite has worked for me. most often i float in the amniotic fluid, not know whence i've come or where headed. the events of the world cover my tracks. someone sleeping under a bench in the public park always reminds me of myself. 

did proust give his rational for writing a remembrance of things past? alas, i only read the first book and that was so long ago... if i may venture, perhaps he hoped recover himself, ie. become a solid body in the physical world. whenever i stumble on a kernel of my past, or listen to the four and a half hours of my mother describing my childhood before she forgot who i was, i feel immensely better. old letters, diaries, i've tried to lay cement in my footsteps. someday, maybe, when my  mind slips into oblivion, i might...

the schoolhouse above a case in point. i remembered it pretty well, though i hadn't seen a picture of it in sixty years,  it stood right across the street from the church and parsonage.  on a second grade spelling test  i couldn't  spellof and pooped in my pants. right after class i waddled home and my mother threw me into the bathtub.  she and i once walked past the brick edifice on a schoolday as i had a doctor's appointment. firemen were up on the roof, breaking through the shingles to reach a smoke, an early premonition of my career. 

hmm, yes, the second grade momentous. finger-painting, loved it and have only recently taken it up again. i remember looking up at a train made of punch holes, exhibited in the county fair, red on green and mine. true, i didn't stand out, five waynes and dewaynes in the class. saying the pledge of allegiance, i think i objected to it even then. and when the teacher played a record of japanese singing, i rankled at the other kids' shameless laughter. 

fox and geese in the snow, wet fur and wool, my smells less elegant than proust's, appropriately so, considering i rose from middle-class riff-raff. and i may not need the pill recently advertised in wired magazine which can target specific memories and erase them, expunging their pain. if i gave all those up, i'd lose my common inheritance of humanity. sometimes friends say they're worried for me, i express myself so bleakly. i tell them, better memory aches than no feeling at all. let's face it, if you don't wake up after sixty miserable, you're dead! 

the androids seeking enlightenment agree with me: