I think there was a dream within a dream. It seems like I was watching/playing some sort of video game with narrative movie content, or a movie with interactive screen elements. I remember a dialogue and a related clickable room. In the scene a young man and woman were talking, and she was saying she was going to have to miss some recurring event they usually did that involved LP’s and discussion thereof. (history? reviewing? something more complicated involving relationships between disparate LPs in their history or gestalt?) It became clear that the two had once been very close in some way but there had been a rift and then a drift, as the guy was saying “I guess it wouldn’t surprise me it would be easy for you to blow off most of the stupid stuff we do, but LP night?!??” And then there was some screen play in a record store scene, and you could click on the LP’s in the record rack and their image would zoom to an enlargement with cover art and liner notes. there was some object of shuffling through them and trying to find ones of some particular significance based on different criteria and I think match the disparate releases to each other on that esoteric basis. The images of some of the familiar covers stirred deep and powerful emotions within me.
Then I woke up, and was thinking about how important LP’s had always been to me, and how weird and messed up it is that I could never manage to release any; for a second I had a wave of correct thinking, that this was what I should be devoting my time to. Then I remembered that there was money involved, and how that has always been my kryptonite and I get shorted-out whenever it is in the equation. At this point I started getting emotionally wracked, lying there in a dingy motel room with the 1950’s style ceiling fan slowly turning overhead somehow mirroring my spiral into mal-autobio. Suddenly I became aware of how strangely empty the room seemed. I looked again at the door, open to the screen, and the tear in the screen door directly diagonal to the handle. I stood to take better inventory, and it added up to zero. First thing I thought about was my instruments. Okay, the guitar was just an ebay Epiphone; but the specially worn 1917 Gibson mandolin is not replaceable in any sense!
Then I woke up again, this time in a cluttered half-double as has been more often the case. It took some time to explain to myself that I had never been in that motel room, and that I didn’t have to jump up and start dealing with this situation.
awake after 3 hours whiskey and cigarette steeped sleep from yet another disturbing dream ending.
Was out in the country somewhere house-sitting at a big suburban kind of place, and there had been a bunch of people there partying, it was a holiday weekend or something, and we were in the big double-garage with no vehicles in it and I was doing, in the face of all logic and reason, a rendition of “New York, New York”. Kind of a half-ass jam with some video maybe. And, I guess I got wound up about it; going, hey, in spite of everything, let’s do the big ending as a parade with all these people, big video scene. Maybe it will be some sort of ironic triumph to cap my sputtering unseen, unheard, inadequate and incomplete life’s work, come on. But everyone was ready to leave, and went off saying “the moment has passed,” and ridiculing me in various ways.
And I said, “oh yeah, well you know what?” and then I floundered for a strong statement about their attitudes and lives in general and was just stammering and unable to spit out even a simple-minded curse when one of the departing suggested over their shoulder, “fuck you?” “Yeah,” I agreed, “fuck you!”
And then I was alone with my failure once again. (Except three people drove in on their bicycles; I thought maybe to see me but they had promised the absent owners they were going to drop some stuff off. They said they thought they’d find some big jam going on and I was debating whether I should suggest we play some anyway.) then I woke up feeling awful because it all seemed so everyday realistic.
Hey, I was just installed. How the heck did you even find this “Blog”?
Well, having already gotten one mysterious (and possibly translated from another language?) comment, apparently there are robots out there waiting for any new WordPress site to appear.
However, just in case any humans are involved, I will explain that this is indeed the first post I am writing on my new installation but I have attempted an import of the items on my Blogger site. So, it looks as if I have been working on this sporadically for seven years. (“Sometimes I’d like to murder time” – Robin Williamson, October Song) I have been meaning to take back possession of a lot of the stuff that I wrote directly on FaceBook as well, we’ll see about that later.
I searched and searched for tips on turning my longtime ballpoint habit (mostly fueled by sitting at a desk at work and school, and ease of carrying on a bus) legit with an archival ink. Turns out there are some common brands that use inks that conform to certain industry standards, and there are lots of mailing list and blog posts about these issues. But, actually finding the right implements cheap in my locality took a lot of hours (as always.) But, for now I’ve got my answers, even if it did require ordering stuff from China and Japan and Germany, and the most expensive pen has already had the pocket clip break so thanks, Tombow. But, the Tombow refills are more for writing, as they are a smooth flowing liquid ink.
If you want to get that pencil like feel and value range you need an old school funky ballpoint, none of this gel and liquid and glide what-not. Well, Schneider’s got it, and the Schneider Pulse (not the Pulse Pro, which has some kinda smooth glide ink) ended up being the compromise weapon of choice. I got one at a reasonable price, and then a handful more shipped from way out for a very reasonable price. And some extra refills. Now, actually getting my broken hand and mind to usethem up is a whole other issue. Most of these drawings were done after being up all night and then finally having a craving to do what I should have been doing all along after the sun starts coming up and I’ve turned the lights out.
I keep remembering, hours after I should have gone to bed, that reviving my lapsed focus on drawing, starting in reverse order of problems with getting the broken hand back in action, was supposed to be some sort of priority. I mean like, when the sun is coming up.
But, why should it be a priority, anyway? The world is overrun with people wandering around with sketchbooks now, and blogging about their practice and their techniques. Back when I was really in it no one else could be seen doing it in these parts (unless you were in the vicinity of the art school), and no one cared that I was.(Isn’t she cute, though? Less than an inch square in real life.)
I have been using the old Pentalic Mark X, which when new seemed like a sad replacement for my favorite reasonably priced sketching fountain, the Pelikan 120. Although I have purchased a couple more 120’s off of ebay, at not so reasonable prices these days, I still do not have one working the way it used to. The Mark X just keeps flowing along, with no maintenance in the 35-40 years since it was new.
Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the death of my father, Harold Leonard Chern. In some ways it is hard to believe that it has been that long, as it kind of stopped the world it seems. These things must take longer to process than you expect. He was 94, but would have been 95 that year, so he’d be 100 this year. That was what he wanted once he had gotten past the landmarks of age 72, by which time he had expected to die because every other male in the family had, and his then sprouted goal of seeing the year 2000. Various things had pretty much let him down the last couple of years, though. His body was dried and shrunken and his living conditions in the nursing home were easily as feeble a remnant of what he had once built up. But, if you asked him how he was, lying in that bed barely able to move, he would say “couldn’t be better.” (Both he and my mother had fewer complaints as the end of the fall approached than when they were in their prime.) Enlightenment, drugs, humor, attempted staving off of plug-pullers; it’s complex sorting out what that meant or what inspiration I can draw from it. I often (tonight) feel like I’m still doing it just for my parents, and that someone is watching and judging me as I do an increasingly poor job of carrying out some final commissions. (one of my father’s last admonitions was to remember that I’m “important”. But, was that just to him, and what if he is gone and doesn’t need me any more?). I then think at least I might carry them to their centennials, and light that ‘soul candle’ in my mind.
Warning: the below story may make you think about heated cow urine.
Indian Yellow. Not, at first blush, what I would have expected. And, yes, when yellow blushes it appears orange. Not that I was expecting anything until I happened into a couple of tubes and was surprised and intrigued. But, my study of paints has mostly concentrated on essential single pigments, and it turns out the original pigment has not been available for over a century, and its origins are still mysterious and controversial.
The name had me thinking it must be some variant on Indian Red, thus an earth or a synthetic replacement. But, the only thing they have in common is they originally came from India. (And, another first tendency of mine was to think America.) Another surprising first impression was how different the colors from different manufacturers are. But, on reading about it in a color mixing book, I was informed that current versions might in fact be completely different substances or mixes from different sources, the original pigment having allegedly been banned around 1908. (Current advertisements usually start with coy phrases such as Gamblin’s ” This color has been prized for hundreds of years.” Yes, the color, not the pigment.)
Long dream, one of those ones I returned to after half-awakening several times. It was terrifying but wildly magical, so I couldn’t help wanting to see what happened. Well, hell, since everything was in the process of being destroyed I wanted to stick around in the hopes there would be a good twist. It was just about looking like there might be, and I wouldn’t have gotten up but a stink-bug started buzzing in the window above my bed, and I knew it would soon be finding its way INTO my bed, and trying to cuddle. I keep telling them, I’m not into them in that way. Jumped up with more verve than usual for the last 20 years, and the details of the dream were already vanishing. Wish I could get a DVR for these things. I’m going to write what I remember here, looking for pen and paper will just let more escape. could be long even though a fragment.
Fragments. Foreign guy of unknown ethnicity on the road giving me some sort of cryptic predictions and sense of mission. Later more or less back in a best-case version of my ordinary life, in a cluttered rental puttering about poking at the thousand unfinished projects. Little girl who comes through the window (followed by a pet or a random stray maybe?) Woman who may be a parent tasks me with hanging with her, other important things to attend to. but there is a sense that there is something urgently important and also not that easy in keeping the girl safe. The girl is just totally fun and whacky and doesn’t think anything of crawling up on the roof and/or other dangerously wrong fun. But with a way of making it right by feeling it is. Mysterious couple, maybe self-representing as guardians. Ready to take custody. Too contained, too rich, too smart. Turn out to be involved in some grand evil scheme, fundamentally deconstructing reality (or illusion, depending on your belief system), or at least the threads of the weave that make it sometimes bearable, sometimes enjoyable for us. After some melting and reconstituting, precipitous hanging, a couple changes of residence… I don’t know, bunch of shit happened. Finally escape was necessary for a small band of allies, some method that further played on my fear of heights… balloon? top of a very tall truck or yak?… much of what had been going on was explained by the girl as she told us she realized that it was her irrational imagination that was able to reverse the destructive events, just because of the strength of her belief in things reforming. But, as she explained this it became clear that she had suddenly become mature enough to express it to us in words and thus too mature to have the power any more. By this time we were passing through a landscape with little life and mostly broken architecture and sidewalks. Foreign guy from beginning of dream passes us driving a busload of dead, broken and bleeding Mexicans. Looks pretty hopeless to me, but he is going on with grim determination and I know he has best possible repairs in mind. The girl is starting to lose it, succumbing to weeping nostalgia: “I wish we could be back in that place” and I see a picture of that bottom half of a house with the porch on front where she crawled through the window in the first place. As she starts to dissolve into it, the older woman, now holding her hand, suddenly becomes intent and as she gives me a knowing look. I know what she’s thinking. And I can feel that it may be true. The girl is becoming irrational and going back to early childhood, and if everyone can let go enough it will become true and the magic will be able to work again…
For some reason I kept hearing about poetry on radio and TV today. Went and looked in the occasionally lugged along legal pad, and sure enough there was a scrawl from just about a year ago I guess. so I typed it up with just a little second-draftism and here it is being shamelessly squeezed into the inter-tubes. Possibly part of my seasonal cycle.
so, then it was fall for awhile – (let’s call it Fall.)
not just the leaves, something, things, else is falling
Maybe longer than usual, I hear but
here we are so close to the end seems like nuthin’
Last good day, maybe, probaly falling falling
Last good day of this round who knows
if it will go around again
I see it falling chalk dust falling
behind the lake
Sure it was so beautiful, those few moments
When I got out
Heartbreaking at sundown,
hue saturation so cranked up
the crinkle of the vegetable kings’ violated borders so sharp and rough
even these old eyes can feel.
The bleeding heart of clouds, bleeding sweet wine
(for all the good you bleeding hearts do us untouchables)
the overacting of the leaves’ death dance in stage makeup
the tiny flush of rose from within dark draperies.
life shrouds floating around that young woman across the street.
Does she see the sky like I do, also sticking a tongue out to try to catch a drop?
does she see how I see the sky?
How sweet would it be to be walking with her at this moment.
(oh? Like I always say, good to be alone at a time like this)
What juicy world juice we could pass back and forth.
I bet it could make this paper sack I carry my senses in seem like a velvet purse.
But no, not now, most of then and and then neither;
Mostly just a few flashes in the darkness. and whiteness.
Now it’s the white again, falling down across
Just the first light coating of pastel.
I see it filling in as I reach the lake
so thick with family funflies just the other day,
now all wide open & clear – guess that’s
how the landscape goes:
First the people , pfft, gone,
then the rest slowly faded
as the whiteness falls..
layers of chalk, or maybe it’s that asbestos-laced talc I used to
shake onto the litho stone
drying the ink; now that i think…
That looked like this – the image gradually disappearing-
but the little horizontal block now raised on edge and
stretched from edge to edge.
and my skin separates and stands up
white, white, white
preparing for when it floats up to
meet the snow.
Before the talc sinks in the grain
gets coated by dust and soot, ink and earth rising around the flakes.
here it comes, here it comes
comes the gray, darker darker
lovely charcoal smudges hover over
the cloudy folks in the shiny street.
today on the heading out bus, looking down to the end
wasn’t raining but the sky looked damp, straggling clumps of leaves losing the last of their yellow, leaching
“It’s turned to soup,” I thought.