Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Song for the Solstice

Medicine Wheel
Kate Wolf

When the morning breaks and the sunlight warms my soul
In the East the Eagle flies, and the Red Tail proudly soars
I'm on my way~ to the place of the spirit one
Grandfather hear me now, I am on fire
Let the sundance guide my feet to your desire
Give me visions for my eyes
And words like gold that shimmer in the sun
Hyi-ah, hyi-ah, hyi-ah

When the sun goes down and it grows too dark to see
I look within to the Shaman's mystery
I'm on my way~ to die and live, again
Grandmother Earth I cry, give me rest
I take my place with the woman in the West
Show me the Raven and the Bear
The way of herbs and the black obsidian
Hyi-ah, hyi-ah, hyi-ah

Turn toward the South, like water I will run
In innocence and trust the Moonchild's song is sung
I'm on my way~ to the place of the sacred plants
My emotions and my will at their command
Where the Turtle's voice is heard upon the land
Where the wise Coyote prowls
The Rattlesnake will call me to the dance
Hyi-ah, hyi-ah, hyi-ah

In the deepest night when the stars watch over me
Old Woman of the North my mind seeks clarity
I'm on my way~ to the place of the Northern winds
Let the Thunder and the Lightning carry me
Lay my thoughts to rest and send me into sleep
With the Hawk and the Buffalo
My dreams white crystal magic medicine
Hyi-ah, hyi-ah, hyi-ah

On the longest night, the stars watch over me
Great Spririt hear me now, my mind seeks clarity
I'm on my way...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Ladies Who Lunch

Last Friday, I had planned a civilized, elegant day, far from the norm for this country mouse. I was going to do some Christmas shopping, meet the ladies for lunch, spend the afternoon at a spa and take Sequoia to dinner and a movie.  Humming "The Ladies Who Lunch", I dressed in something other than jeans, put on the cute shoes and headed out to the car.

It was sitting in the drive way with a flat tire.


Back into the house I went, changed into grubby clothes and began the process of changing the tire. Yes, I could have called AAA, but they would have taken 3 hours to make it out to the Colestine and I wasn’t willing to entirely abandon my plans.  It was a case of DIY or do without, and you know me; I'm all about DIY.

I’ve changed more than a few tires in my life, especially since moving to the woods (our road is brutal on tires.) But, I had never changed one on the Tracker before. I had to figure out where the jack was (a hidden compartment in a side panel); how to take the spare off of the back door (which involved locking lug, something I've never encountered before), and where to position the jack under the frame (which entailed rolling under the car in the dirt.) It took me an hour, but I managed to remove the flat and install the spare. Coated head to toe in dirt and tire black, I quickly cleaned up and changed back into my town clothes, drove to Les Schwab, got the flat fixed and still made the spa appointment. Of course, I wasn’t feeling elegant or urbane at that point; more like burly and invincible. But I’ll take it.
I'm not bitter. It was past time for me to learn how to change a tire on this car, and I'm grateful that I got to do in my own driveway under a sunny sky rather than on the side of the interstate in the pouring rain. Ain't no way around it: country women gotta know how to change a tire. Them Manhattan girls with their Manolos and manicures would be completely fucked in that situation. Of course, I’d be completely fucked if I had to figure out which fork to use at some high society formal dinner.  I guess we learn what we need to know; the rest is window dressing.
Besides, can you really imagine me lounging in a caftan and planning a brunch on my own behalf? 
Well, a girl can dream, can't she?
I'll drink to that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Cats I Have Loved

The Cheshire Cat

Hobbes - technically a tiger, but still the best feline every

The Cat in the Hat

Pickles the Fire Cat

The Cat That Walked By Himself

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cats I Have Loved

Krazy Kat






Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pretty and High

She came on the stage
in a dress like the sky
she had painted a sunset
around her eyes
and all of the people
were charmed and surprised
at how pretty and high and shy she was
pretty and high and shy

She at the window
and the prince upon the bed
they were for an hour
before he said
if she had no place else
she was welcome to stay
but she'd better get back
and she thanked him the same
leavin' him pretty and high and dry
pretty and high and dry

The prince was confused
so he asked the magician
the magician arrived
at the answer profound
if she takes off her dress
the sky will fall down
cause she's pretty and high and a lie
pretty and high and a lie

I work at the circus
and I sleep with the clown
when I took off my dress
the sky fell down
if the sky falls down
then we play on the ground
cause I'm pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie

Thursday, December 8, 2011


My daddy used to say, when you're up to your ass in alligators, it's time to drain the swamp.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Pain my old comrade, you sly dog, pull up a chair, make yourself at home. Unfurl yourself down the length of my bones and stay awhile. Staring down the barrel of another sleepless night, your familiar face leering behind the hammer; I've seen this movie before.

Justice holds the scales and proclaims that everything can be balanced, every wrong righted. She holds the sword to back up her position, the stick to reason's carrot.

Pain has no sense of balance and no fear of reprisal. Pain takes what it wants and laughs at my pitiful pleas for justice.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Hamfist played two shows on Friday, one right after another; I had blisters on my fingers by the end of the night. I wore all Christmas finery and rocked some carols. I loves me some Christmas carols. It was a late night, but I had to be back in town on Saturday by 2 pm to vacuum and decorate the Studio for Lynn Ramey's retirement party. At 6, I helped lead a parade in her honor from the Bricks to the Studio. I managed to hang on until about 10 pm, when I drove home on an icy road and fell into bed. Jumped up this morning and headed back to town; I found myself onstage at the Medford Armory at 11 a.m. playing and singing Christmas carols with Ila Selene. She can't play an instrument, so it was just my sad little mandolin and our two voices. We had not rehearsed any of these songs and I couldn't find my Christmas music after the Friday gigs. It was a recipe for disaster. However, she managed to coax a half dozen kids onstage to sing and dance, so no-one gave a shit about me, they were totally entranced by the kids. I was the back up band for the pre-school set; it was beyond cute.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

California Blue

My world is frosted in sparkling snow this morning, the sun firing each crystal, the world a'glitter. The sky is a perfect Crayola sky blue. I learned my spectrum of blues from the Crayola box - blue, midnight blue, blue-green and sky blue. I wore down sky and midnight quickly; I've always been fond of extremes. You can tell a lot about a girl by the crayon colors she wears out first. This morning the sky was a true sky blue, not pale or milky or weak. It was a saturated pastel, which would seem to be a contradiction. You have to see it to know it.

I'm old enough to remember when Crayola include a crayon called "Flesh", which was a white-man beige color. Segregation wasn't that big an issue in the California of my childhood, but we were all casual racists. My kindergarten class in 1964 included a little African-American girl. Who knows, maybe she was the first African-American child to integrate that classroom. I have vague memories of her being a cause of conflict. She once yelled at our kindergarten teacher, walked out of class, and rode a tricycle around and around the blacktop while all of the little children watched from the window. My parents said that she was yelling something about the fact that the teacher couldn't kick her out because she was black, but what did they know? What did I know? I don't remember her saying any such thing, but I do remember her riding that trike around the blacktop all by herself. I was horrified, fascinated, more than a little envious.

There were plenty of "Mexicans" in my elementary school, which was our ignorant term for anyone who was brown. It being Southern California, most of them probably had roots in Mexico, but it didn't matter. Honduran, Venezuelan, El Salvadoran, Chilean, in Southern California in the 60s, they were all "Mexicans." I remember one girl in particular who always took offense at the term "Mexican." She would insist that she wasn't Mexican, her family was Castillan Spanish. She repeated this assertion frequently. I had no idea what "Castillan Spanish" was, just that it was code for white.

It was a rough and tumble neighborhood. Most of the dads were steel workers at the Kaiser plant, or truck drivers, or construction workers like my dad. There were no playgrounds or community centers, we played in the orange orchards. There really is no better place to play than an orange orchard. The leaves form this perfectly round, green igloo, the branches underneath are low to the ground and easy to climb on. They were like sweet-sented playhouses. As I recall, I played with everybody - the steelworkers' kids, the "Mexicans," even the kid whose mom was periodically hauled off by the cops to Patton State Hospital. I didn't what that was all about, I just knew it was shameful.

As much as I loved playing house and war and epic, neighborhood bouts of hide-and-seek, my favorite memories are the hours and hours I spent on my Huffy Stingray bike. It was my most prized possession, my faithful steed, my ticket to the world. I would ride for miles, sometimes with other kids but usually by myself. When the Santa Ana winds would stir up hot and restless, I'd climb on my bike and fly, that wild wind sailing me down the asphalt like a Yankee Clipper. I loved that bike more than any other possession I've ever owned since. It was blue. Not midnight, not sky, just blue.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Return to Love

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The old saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m here to tell you that it ain’t necessarily so.

I’ve been meditating on the nature of work. I love playing music, but it can feel like work sometimes. Recently, I’ve been working my ass off for both of my bands, taking more of a leadership role, researching purchases, coordinating schedules, soliciting opinions, making decisions. I keep telling myself that I should be willing to work as hard for the things I love as I work for money. But, make no mistake: this is work. it can be hard, frustrating and annoying as hell.

It’s rare that playing itself feels like work, but it happens. Sometimes the vibe isn’t there; the audience is unengaged, we aren’t listening to each other and I pump like hell to inflate the balloon. That feels like work; not digging ditches mind you, not completing a stupid government grant application, but work all the same.

The thing is, I like to work. For some reason, that realization shocks the shit out of me. I complain about work all the time, but I like feeling useful and to getting things done. I do get frustrated when my concerns go unheard, my efforts goes for naught, when I labor mightily at something I consider useless or meaningless.

I have a low tolerance for boredom.

All this is preface to an apology for being an unfaithful correspondent. I read somewhere that the most frequently used phrase in the blog-o-sphere is “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long.” What can I tell you, I’ve been busy – working.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, October 10, 2011

News from the Front

Kiva's report from Occupy Portland:

We had a spontaneous march from the village yesterday. As we walked and chanted, I found myself calling to people on the street: "Come join us! We love you! Come join us, friends! You're part of the 99%, too! It's your money, your government, and your liberties, too! Come join the revolution, friends!" Not many people joined, but some did. Others leaned out their car windows and called support and promised to be there as soon as they got off work. By the time we got back to camp, Lapis and I were both frog-voiced from screaming.

I brought down my laptop with a sign hanging from it that read: "NEED INTERNET? JUST ASK." I ran mobile support for various booths. Info used my computer to communicate with other groups for a few hours. Library used it to pull information for the sign makers. Media didn't need it. Media tent is pretty well set up. I stopped by info to offer services again, and realized there was a camera pointed towards the booth, so I stepped out of the way.

"Wait," the news reporter called, "can we get a shot of your sign?" Feeling absurdly embarrassed, I turned my hip and showed them the bag. "How are you offering internet?" she asked.

"There's wifi hotspots all over the place," I pointed out. "The courthouse has free wifi. Basically, I'm just here to help out however I can." I began to feel uncomfortable with the camera on me, made a joke about iPhones, and wandered away.

The Community Village is beautiful. There's bureaucratic organization for people who need that. You can go to info and tell them you would like to help out and they will set you up with a committee. I did not do that. At one point, I looked into the kitchen and saw two people scrubbing dishes in a three-sink set-up out of bus tubs. When I looked back, there was only one and the other had gone on break, I just handed my backpack to Lapis, walked back and put on an apron.

I didn't ask anyone, I just started washing dishes. I've worked three-sinks out-of-doors before. Shit, that was all we did at Youth Corps. It was easy to figure out where food donations went, where other things were needed. After about fifteen minutes (Maybe fifteen minutes? I'm guessing there.) I had the kitchen figured out, knew the names of the Sani Boys and Girls, and was basically happy as a pig in shit. It was very organic. Help was needed there and I'm kitchen. That's what everyone was doing all day, just helping where they knew how to help.

There are so many donations of food that we are now looking for off-site storage. There are sleeping bags, coats, sweaters, mittens, scarves, piled up. They are building a bicycle-powered power generator van. There were things yesterday that impressed me, things that touched me, things that inspired me, and things that made me smile. Kids with red-tape crosses on their shirt working for medical handing out cough drops, hand warmers, and vitamin C to everyone. A young woman with an unstoppable smile doing an amazing hula hoop number to a Wu Tang song. The 'mic check' method at Soapbox is an incredible idea. Whenever someone speaks at General Assembly, they speak slowly and clearly, and the crowd repeats back what they say. We all speak together with one voice, and then vote.

Every now and then someone would come up and ask me if I wanted a break, and I kept saying, "I'm good, ask me in about thirty minutes." I was stuck in The Game, the one where I try to "Beat the Dishes" and get ahead of them. People kept dropping off their plates, and so I started scrubbing faster and faster. Finally, I got ahead of the pile, cheered for myself, and looked up. It had grown dark.

I had been washing dishes, according to Lapis, for two hours. I found that out after I reconnected with her over at the Soapbox where the General Assembly was taking place. We walked back through the village, said hello to some of the wonderful marathon organizers, and then walked down to join the signs on the road.

I felt strangely high on all the elation that hovered over the camp. But there weren't any drugs or alcohol involved. It's weird. It was like being on acid because it was so surreal and perfect and peaceful. Suddenly, Lapis and I (who had both screamed ourselves hoarse earlier) started bellowing, "Show me what democracy looks like!" while the crowd chanted back, "This is what democracy looks like!" It got louder and louder and louder. Every car that passed us had a fist raised out the window, horns blaring.

No violence. No tension. It works in Portland. It's so incredible down there.

That doesn't mean that it's not also, in some ways, frustrating. The ninety-nine is a lot of people, a lot of different kinds of people. As the evening wore on, I had an odd moment. Soapbox, located in Chapman Park, was the site of the GA. They were trying to vote on how to vote. They were trying to decide how to vote on how to vote. It was a little too surreal for me and I walked away.

I walked a downward sloping path to the street where the sign-wavers were getting the support of pretty much the entire city of Portland. A gaggle of tipsy, preppy college girls came skittering out of a bar on a scream of giggles and someone called to them to come join us. And they did. They were handed signs while they laughed without comprehending, which was weird. I was standing next to them when one squawked, "Oh-my-gawd, what are we doing?" With genuine confusion. Another was gesturing for her to hold up her sign while pointing a little camera at her.

"We're in a protest now!" she squealed.

"What is it about?" Another wailed in confusion.

One was thoughtfully reading the sign she'd been handed. I think I saw her lips moving.

It was a little too surreal for me. This was their revolution, too. They weren't billionaires. They had been marginalized, forgotten, and abused by corporations as well. Still, there was a seed of unease in my stomach.

I started to walk back up to the GA, dreading what I would find, but halfway along the path bumped into a girl with some chalk drawing on the ground. Some squares she filled with designs. Other designs and phrases she laid down without paying attention to the lines between the bricks of the path. I sat on the bench and watched her draw and write messages. I felt much calmer.

Still, it was one of those moments in my life where the world was playing itself out in metaphor for me. I'm bringing my sketchbook today and will try to use some of what I've learned in my drawing class to accurately draw the camp. The sea of tents, the instruments, the kitchen, the projects they are already setting up, these are all amazing things. Lapis is bringing her camera, but last night showed me that I am happiest working with art. I need to chronicle this revolution in my own way.

You guys should come down. It reminds me a lot of early childhood, that feeling of community that was there with the GDF and the Rainbow Family. But it's not just, y'know, hippies. It's everyone, and they're all being conscious of one another, respectful to one another, and kind to one another. It's a natural community.

The complete lack of violence and the cooperation between the mayor's office, the marathon runners, and the protesters has been utterly mind-blowing. In Seattle, security guards are using pepper spray, in New York there is video of them swinging batons at people's heads, but in Portland everything is peaceful and supportive. Maybe as time wears on, tensions will grow, but so far it's been off to a fantastic start.


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Our vocabulary word for today, boys and girls, is Desuetude:

des·ue·tude   /ˈdɛswɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/. Noun. The state of disuse or inactivity. That which is no longer used.

My body has been in a state of desuetude for the last four days. I spent last weekend soaking up music and sun and ocean breezes during our annual sojourn at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. I estimate that I put about 5-10 miles on these old bones each day, easily. On top of that, I spent a good portion of each day shaking my bones to the likes of Irma Thomas, Ruthe Foster, Del McCoury and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Robert Plant for crissakes; how can a girl not shake her ass to Robert Plant? I don't care how old he is, that voice penetrates me to my core. Sunday was the capper. I danced like a dervish to Devil Makes Three at Arrow Stage and practically ran to the Star Stage to catch Dr. John and the Lower 911. A bunch of little hippie girls and I danced a second line in the late summer dust and I led the parade; those little girls couldn't keep up. It's been a long times since I've danced up a dust cloud and left blisters on my bare feet. This old girl has a few steps left in her soles. I was twirling in the dirt, shaking my skirt, sweaty, caked, sated. Took me way back to the old days campers; it felt good.

Blistered and sun burned, we drove the 300 mile trip home on Monday. I went to work first thing Tuesday morning and walked into a veritable shit storm at the office. Worked like a field hand until 5 pm, left the office and ran straight across the street to sound check for Jesse's "Covers for a Cause" Green Show. Jesse, Bob Hackett and I tore the place down with a medley of mountain tunes. I played till 7:30 and by the time I got home, I had a runny nose. Clearly, my body had had enough.

My immune system called a general strike. I woke up Wednesday morning sick as a dog. I'm talking dizzy, sneezy, sniffly, feverish, completely unable to function sick. I haven't been that sick in years. I missed work for the rest of the week. I very rarely take sick leave, but I could barely make it down the stairs, much less drive to town. For the first time in my musical career, I had to back out of a gig on Friday. I was laid low.

I'm finally upright again, functioning at about 60%. I guess I found my limit. But, if that's the price of dancing like a wild woman in the dust like I'm 22 again, I'll pay it and gladly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

End of an Era

It's the same old story: we keep paving paradise and putting up parking lots. There's no escape, not even in Hilt California. For a town that has already risen and died, recent developments at our beloved Hilt Store feel like the last nail in a coffin.

If you're interested in the history of Hilt, there's a good chronology of the last 160 years here:

Sadly, this site doesn't say anything about the native people who lived here for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans; that's a topic for another day. But, it does give a good overview of recent history.

White men have been logging these forests for profit since the 19th century.

The logging company Fruit Growers Corporation is still an active presence in the area and they have been particularly busy this year, but the nature of that enterprise has changed radically. Jobs that used to require 10-15 men are now done by one man operating a massive machine. At one time the logging industry spawned an insular but thriving community in Hilt. The town had its own church, school, post office and store. It was a company town and, after the mill closed in the 70s, the company literally disassembled the town and shipped it away to parts south. When you drive down the hill from the store and pass the old church and school, you can see front walks leading to nowhere. The daffodils that some homeowner lovingly planted still bloom every spring, but the home is gone. Hilt is a ghost town without the town.

Hilt in the late 60s:

I'm not sure when the Hilt Store was established, but I believe it was early in the 20th century. I imagine it was a busy little outpost back when crossing the Siskiyous took days instead of hours. I found this photograph from the 1950s online:

"Here is a vintage color postcard from the late 1950s featuring a classic roadside view of State Line Service, a Mobil gas station and store on the California-Oregon state line at Hilt, California, located in Siskiyou County, on the sunny side of the Siskiyou Mountains."

For most of us (myself included), the Hilt Store was our only real connection to Hilt's past as an actual town. But, the Hilt Store as we knew it is no more. Earlier this summer, the owners sold it to a liquor chain. In the last few weeks, the liquor chain took out the gas pumps, the historic mining equipment display and the play ground, and they repaved the entire parking lot from the Stateline billboard down to the truck turnaround. Our beloved, funky country store is now a sea of asphalt under harsh sodium lights. They even put a plastic statue of Captain Morgan over the entrance where he stands sentry, leaning on his sword and leering. They took out the lunch counter, the grill, the sundries, and the State of Jefferson tchotckes. They plan to sell nothing but liquor and cigarettes. We won't be able to buy a Pilot Rock Burger or a quart of milk or 5 gallons of gas any more. It's the end of an era.

Everything changes and changes again, but it doesn't always change for the good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Blood of the Lamb

The time has come, brothers and sisters, to speak of blood.

I can almost hear the sound of mouse-clicks on the "close" button.

Women are on intimate terms with blood. We are born in blood, cleansed monthly by blood, bear our children in blood. Our passage into adulthood is marked by blood. Every single month of our adult lives, we rejoice or despair at its return. When it's late, we count the days since its last appearance. When it doesn't show, everything changes.

It brings to mind the phrase, "washed in the blood of the lamb" which is so rich with symbolism and strangeness, I don't know where to begin. St. John the Mushroom Head's great trip, also known as the book of Revelations, details his vision of "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."... Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

I've written before about the scapegoat. The Hebrews would choose the most perfect, blemish-free lamb from the flock, ritually heap their sins upon its head and shed its blood as an offering to God, hoping to receive forgiveness and protection in exchange. The Christians believe that Jesus was that lamb, the perfect, blemish-free Son of Man, offered in sacrifice for our sins. Bathing in the blood of that sacrifice is the ticket to heaven. The blood of their scapegoat god is the only sure path to salvation.

Women are washed in blood every month. We labor in blood and pain to bear the next generation. The Christian Bible does not honor the sacrifice and suffering of half of the human race. The blood of women, the nurturing, grounding, rooting blood of your mother and grandmother, is the root of evil in their philosophy.

As one who bleeds, physically, spiritually and emotionally, I never accepted that. Jesus may have suffered and died, but he never walked right up to the edge of death and split his body asunder in order to bring forth a child. He never suffered and sacrificed through long years of toil to bring a child to maturity.

I am washed in the blood of uncounted generations of women who wrought the miracle of regeneration over and over again. They lay down in pain and blood, died, and rose again. We come through the great tribulation and wash our own damn robe, thank you very much. What about that miracle? What more salvation do you need?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

R.I.P. Lucian Freud

One of the great artists of the last 100 years. He disdained idealization, but he certainly never lacked expression. His imagery was unsparing, unrelenting, haunting. He lacked a filter - everything about his work was raw. He's a great inspiration to me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Young at Heart

Late Sunday night at the Fair, something shifted. It’s hard to describe. Something about the musicians’ relationship with the audience became deeper, truer, more raw and revealed. For instance: wild man accordionist Jason Webley spent most of the weekend playing raucous covers of bad 80s pop tunes called out at random from the audience. He is as much a comedian as a musician and he's hilarious. Late Sunday night, he started a set with his usual silly cheer, but then, apropos of nothing, he started telling these dark, personal stories about his recent unnerving encounters with strangers. He would find himself in irritating situations revolving around bad weather, cancelled flights, missed connections, that kind of thing. You know those days, right? There he'd be, bemoaning his fate, feeling like a victim. Right at that moment, the universe would conspire to put him next to someone who was truly a victim – a woman escaping a violent boyfriend, a man visiting his dying son. I think he was trying to say something about how we choose to perceive ourselves and our reality, but his tales were dark, unresolved and didn't conclude with some pat uplifting message. He interspersed these stories with quiet, sad, personal songs, the antithesis of the crazy, upbeat pop covers he had played all weekend. It was a palpable shift in tone and it happened in the middle of the set, and atleast 100 people sat listening, rapt, enthralled.

Later on, I passed an old hippie guy playing with some young guns in the path. I walked up expecting to hear folk music or Dead covers; instead he and his cohorts were playing deep, hypnotic dub, and playing it damn well. He sang in a soft, ragged, strangely compelling voice and his lyrics were angry, political, incisive. He had drawn a crowd that almost blocked the path and they were listening silently, deeply and intently. It stopped me in my tracks. I stood swaying with this crowd, breathing in rhythm, breathing a background harmony. It was eerie.

I got back to the meadow where Trashcan Joe and the Saloon Ensemble were tearing it up unamplified. I joined the crowd dancing in front of them and realized that we were all singing along in harmony. I heard the trumpet player do a lovely version of the Frank Sinatra song Young At Heart several times over the weekend and he pulled it out again that night. This time, the crowd sang behind him like we were his back-up Boswell Sisters. Close to 100 people, in tune, in time, and singing sweetly. I’d never heard anything quite like it.

And, there was my voice, shining out from the tribe, laying on complex jazz harmonies, a 6th here, a diminished 9th there. Because I can. Because that's what I do. Because that's who I am.

It’s hard to describe and I’m not sure what it meant, but that evening touched me deeply.

Young at Heart
Fairy tales can come true,
it can happen to you
If you're young at heart
For it's hard, you will find,
to be narrow of mind
If you're young at heart

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart or on it's way

Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart
For as rich as you are it's much better by far
To be young at heart

And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart

And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart