…and we, poor players with struts for frets; in flour upon the stage. And then are herbivore. It is a tale told by an ideolog, full of Sgt. Fury and Signifying Monkeys.

Sketchbook – Vol. 1 Part 2 – Chapter 6

Still in my late 20’s (in the late ’70s). A LOT of writing, saying it all, back before these truths and lies had become self-evident and then I didn’t see why I should keep writing it. And my hand didn’t yet hurt too much to hold the pen. Then, finally, evidence of attempted graphic composition: what would become my second lithograph.

When I was completely unmoored, at 28 years of age. Never to quite return.


Sketchbooks V1 (’59-’80) P2.1 – late 20s

Then… Suddenly… A decade or so later…

If the contradictions and trouble in my mind were going to keep me from doing anything, maybe I’d have to just do them.

Click any image to open gallery. Click ‘Zoom’ button in upper-right to actually see them.


Sketchbooks V.1 (’59-’80), Ch.1: “childhood”

Here I begin the documenting of my hardcover sketchbooks with the first few pages of the first book I was given as a child. There are no dates, but I think it must have been about age 9-10. I think I was generally inhibited by the seriousness of the format, as it only sputters along for a few pages every couple of years. By my early teenage years I was already mostly disrupted and sidelined by feelings of despair and futility. Even though I drew constantly on whatever was in front of me, doing it on purpose raised too many questions of importance and “what are you going to do with that?” Then there’s a final couple pages here as an “adult”, say 16 or 17. The next section will begin a decade later when I found this book and began using it again, deciding I might as well work on these useless skills I had been plagued with all my life since I couldn’t stop thinking about it and everything else had crashed and it was one thing I could just do. I wrote and drew in many volumes fairly steadily for a couple of decades. Then, it all started sputtering again, and a couple more decades later I’m still struggling with long silences.

(Click any image to open gallery w/ slider. Note: in lightbox currently in use, in a computer browser there is a ‘zoom’, but it kind of resembles a ‘close’ button sitting in the upper-right corner. The ‘Close’ button is actually on the lower right.)

Despite the Forecast

despite the forecasts, it turned out that today was more beautiful than yesterday.

The sky, appearing at first a soft even grey, reveals itself to the deeper gaze as a complex gauze of endless and unregimented strands. In the reduced palette of the gray, the constant contradiction can be sought out. That constant contradiction of the purple and green, which hides in shadows in the gaudier flashes of open sun, is playing everywhere across the largest of spaces of sky available, and there to come from the hidden obvious, lighting and intensifying itself from inner tiny fires banked against the infinite cold. “Here, see my heart! I reward you oh lone seeker!” Proud imagining of reward, available in this arena to even the one giving a moment to try to work with the failing old eyes.

Oh, I had heeded the warnings and done what I could with the hey-making yesterday what with it being Spring and all, anticipating a day of no emergence as the ice revenged today. But, a couple of partly contrived, partly coincidental errands proved enough to convince me to go out to do walk just enough, anyway. The wind in my face immediately affected judgement, there was no way to rule more enthusiastically for advance or retreat (though the latter may have allowed a second thought of retrieving mittens and balaclava). In the lapse, a great furor arose in the court. If nothing else the issue of remaining sanguine, moving blood about enough to avoid immediate demise in any case, at last and post haste was recognized.

Once underway, and under the sky (see scene one), it seemed one might just as well go down a ravine after all. There was less traffic and blather of other humans to filter this eve, anyway.

When it was sunny, there was that struggle to concentrate on the voice of the water over the humans. Like, despite efforts who can filter a lawyer who shows up in the park apparently just to speak loudly and repetitively about client billing and tax returns while managing her children and dogs. (The children and dogs were cute, but thwarted in their goals, starved for attention and riddled with unheeded anxieties about each others’ mortality. “But, I just don’t want her to die!” “She’s fine.” “I don’t want to go back to the house, we just got here.” “Mommy forgot to make a phone call.” “Davey is staying” “He’s with Jeremy.” “Why can’t I stay with him?” “Because that’s not what we’re doing.” Stick with the plan, no matter what happens; unless you have to make a phone call.)

Turning toward the ravine seemed to signal for a shift toward moodier lighting and more dramatic effects. I got the best of the snow, in my face and skirling across the blacktop in wild crack-the-whip lines. Foot traffic was light on the descent, just a couple hardy souls in their big metal shells running their engines and leaving their lights on to spoil the skyline. But, oh, above, the fingers of the trees. More overall and above all than even yesterday, between the broader dark and slightly less dark grey. Above and calling for attention with their confusing but pointed gestures. So many hands, so many fingers. More and more as they pull the gaze. The fingers are dividing, multiplying, getting tinier and more to the point all the. I feel them in my fingers, the cold that has worked through the inadequacies of gloves heightening attention and identification. Pointy, prickly little sticks burn at the ends of my sleeves. But, surely I didn’t have that many fingers when I left the house? They must be bundles of fingers within each finger that mirror the trees. The veins themselves, each becoming its own pointy hot messenger.

Finding and losing an old friend.

Merde. Pour un moment j’ai pense que j’avais trouve mon viel ami de quelques jour, Jean Paul Boissier. Mais, peut etre il est mort.
Back in the mid-70’s I was living in a crumbling Civil War era mansion with a lot of people, so things would occasionally happen in spite of my near autistic state. (I still live in this house in my dreams, trying to reconcile the background knowledge that we were driven out when it was torn down for OSU hospital parking space.)
Somehow, we ended up with a hitch-hiker from France staying with us for awhile. Why he was in Columbus, OH I’m not sure, but he found the right place if you had to be there. Turned out he was a songwriter, and at some point he undertook to teach me a couple of his songs. I still have them as they were written down and annotated in an old notebook, which I have to search through all my old notebooks to find whenever I try to learn them again. Somehow, between his very little English and my even smaller French he explained most of the images to me. Ah, je vois, ce n’est pas une lyric ordinaire. It took some similes and hand gestures, vraiment.
J’ai mis le feu, I set the fire, you know, the fire in the skull, like when you get sick… faiset mes poubelles, you know, garbage, [gestures of digging through something with one’s hands.]

J’ai mis l’feu by PaulBoissard

Current state of translation

the other song: Lili Boule de Gomme

I guess that took up most of our indoor time, I don’t think I ever got to teach him one of my songs. Well, I hardly could teach them to myself around then. I don’t remember much else about his visit. Some black hashish rolled with tobacco, some walking in the sunshine in the big field behind the Hospital Cafeteria, some passing the guitar back and forth, some big smiles.

I proclaimed my intention to write an English translation of the songs and he was all for that, then he could be a big hit on two continents. But, he didn’t keep in touch and I didn’t know how to reach him. I always pictured myself going to France one day and looking around and there he would be playing on a street corner. I let the time pass as if shutting my eyes tight enough would leave me where I was with all possibilities still intact. A couple years earlier, I would have just grabbed my backpack and hitched along.

I did end up learning and sometimes performing that one of the two songs, and finally a couple decades later I achieved a singable English version. Well, I guess I’m still working on it. Not quite satisfied. In recent years I looked for him on the internet a few times, with no success. Last night (early this morning) I was laying in bed sleepless again, and a long FaceBook chat in French with another non-French speaker led to my thinking about the song, failing to remember all of either the French or the English version. After a few hours I got up again, opened a beer and put the entire first line of the song into the Google box and there was a video result right at the top of the page. There could be a lot of “mis le feu” songs I supposed, but in the summary I could see the lyrics going on… those same ones that I thought I might be the only one who knew. …le seule solution…” It was a slightly different version, in 4 instead of waltz time, piano instead of guitar… but this is the song. (not really a video, just an audio recording with a picture of a fire to accompany it.) And that led to a whole page of videos of songs by Paul Boissier. (I guess they dropped the “Jean” at some point.) Damn, I thought, the sucker went and became functional in society. This led to finding both a Facebook and MySpace page, and I was excitedly getting ready to write to him when I read in the blurb on one of them something to the effect of (loosely tryanslating and from memory): “Gone too soon, before the inevitable national acclaim. They went on: Paul Boissard a marqué toute une génération de musiciens et poètes picards.”

I also found video and articles about a 20th anniversary celebration in 2007 for a collective cabaret named La Lune des Pirates, after one of Jean Paul’s songs. One of the nights of the anniversary was a Tribute to Paul Boissier. I guess that he had but to personally hand a song to the right person (here and there) to have it cared for and kept alive. No record company or publicity machine required.

I can’t find info on why he may have died. Later, I found on the main page of his DailyMotion site where they say he died some 20 years ago. This may have something to do with why the photos look pretty much like I remember him. But, I guess he made his mark. He lived.

et moi? “Maintenant, je reve sur des cendres… “-

Paul Pages: