Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day 2016

This Northern Hemisphere festival is a traditional spring holiday. May Day is an ancient observation related to Floralia which was a festival for Flora the Roman goddess of flowers, the Celtic festival of Beltane, and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. Rites and celebrations include the raising of and dancing around a Maypole, the crowning of a May Queen, gifts of May baskets (little baskets of candy and spring flowers), festive picnics, and bonfires (in certain counties in Ireland). It is a day to celebrate spring and the fastly approaching summer. Flowers, sunshine, and sweet treats for all!


HAPPY MAY DAY!

http://johannawright.com/
by Johanna Wright

"Third Eye" by Florence + the Machine

The final chapter of what has come to be known as "The Odyssey" by Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine is as spellbinding as the other installments (previously here, here, and here). Here, in a song called "Third Eye," we see Florence in the costume we have seen in prior chapters, performing familiar choreography. But it and the entire story, full of dream-like motifs and psychological symbolism, ends in a kind of breathtaking place: "I'm the same, I'm the same, I'm trying to change..."



All of the chapters have been edited together with never-seen-before dramatic segues and made into an incredible artistic statement: "The Odyssey" film can be seen in its entirety at Florence + the Machine's website, linked below. The chapters contain clues and share a remarkably expressive language of motion and emotion embedded in the choreography. In nearly each chapter where Florence and her doppelgänger wander through different time periods and locations, we seem to be witness to an age-old story of not only male oppression of women, but of interpersonal strife (and sometimes physical violence) on an individual and family level, the inability of so many people and cultures to say what they mean and to really use the time we have here instead of squandering it on petty hatred, grudges, and misunderstandings. Like Florence so aptly and chillingly observes in both parts 1 and 6, "I suppose if you've been through something catastrophic, if you've been through, like a storm or an earthquake together or something horrendous, it would bring you closer together...but what if they are creating the disaster within themselves?...There's this big storm and it's all around us and we're in the middle of it and it's calm, but I can feel it, like it's everywhere..."

I strongly urge you to see "The Odyssey" in its entirety. It's so worth it: enriching, inspiring, thought-provoking...and beautiful.

http://florenceandthemachine.net/

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Out Of Touch" by Brothertiger

I love the easy, slightly melancholy 80s vibe of "Out Of Touch" by Brothertiger (John J.).

Of Brothertiger, mush.com says, "As a live performer in the Athens house party scene, he’s gained a reputation for intense joyfulness. Recorded, his songs are more precious, with details and ideas that only reveal themselves with repeated listens. Buoyed by his voice--which contains both adult timbre and youthful disposition--Jagos’ songs combine layered, interweaving electronics with warm, satisfying melodies."




http://www.brothertiger.net/

Friday, April 29, 2016

"When They Come To Take The Body"

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have posted poems by special poets each Monday, wonderful song lyrics each Wednesday, and work by myself each Friday (previously here, here, and here). I'm closing the month with a brand new piece called "When They Come To Take The Body."

When They Come To Take The Body

When they come to take the body away
and bring in the gurney, mass of yellow metal legs,
a hard, foreign structure in the living room
of soft sofa and chairs, a bookcase of ceramic angels,
what do you do then? Do you say goodbye even though
you already have a thousand times?

When they place the body in the heavy vinyl bag
and you hear the sickening sound of the zipper closing,
do you let out a hiss of air or do you make a sound like
an animal caught in a trap, unable to escape or change its fate?

And when they wheel the bag out the front door and
it closes, seals behind them like a tomb, what can you
possibly do that will have any meaning?
What action can you possibly take?
Clean the house? Leave it all? Pace
like an automaton or just sit and stare
at the shimmering air where the body used to be?
What feels right or best? What difference does
any of it make in that house now, alone?

Finally, you should get some sleep.
Does that have any meaning?
Do you sleep with a night light not because you are afraid of the dark
but because you can't stand the thought of the dark itself?
You should try to get some sleep because you have to be at
the funeral home in a few hours to make some decisions
that won't seem real or relevant.
And how can you return to the house and
what will you really do then?

©JEF 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

BEAUTY: Installation--Peter Zimmerman

Artist Peter Zimmerman has a new show called “Freiburg School,” at the Museum für Neue Kunst in Freiburg, Germany. It combines his painted canvases with a multi-layered resin floor that runs throughout the exhibition space!

From the museum's website:
Peter Zimmermann is internationally renowned as an outstanding exponent of conceptual painting. And now, for the very first time, he will be presenting an extensive solo show in his hometown, Freiburg. Zimmermann has radically transformed the rooms in the museum to create a massive, integrated, walk-in work: the floor becomes a canvas, the exhibition venue a colossal spatial frieze covering some 425 m2. In order to experience it in its totality, visitors are invited to become part of the work by simply sitting, standing or walking around. The confrontation between the epoxy floor piece and a new series in oils – shown for the first time in this grouping – will form the centre of the show.

Zimmermann has been exploring the potential of painting ever since the mid-1980s. Deploying digital filters and computer programmes, he uses templates – such as photographs, film stills or diagrams – in unusual ways, transferring them onto canvas in several layers of transparent epoxy resin. This manipulation gives rise to abstract, fluid shapes that radiate an immense visual power."

Through June 19th, 2016.


http://peterzimmermann.com/de/
http://www.freiburg.de/pb/,Len/920469.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Cycling Trivialities"

To observe National Poetry Month, once a week I featured lyrics of rock n' roll or pop songs that also double as exquisite poetry (previously here, here, and here--with a very special installment here). Let's close the month with some tender lyrics from the marvelous José González. This song, "Cycling Trivialities" (previously here) speaks to understanding the priorities of this existence, of understanding something larger than the next step...and how to be tender with yourself and allow yourself to exist within a bigger framework.

Cycling Trivialities

Too blind to know your best
Hurrying through the forks without regrets
Different now, every step is like a mile
All the lights seem to flash and pass you by

So, how's it gonna be
When it all comes down
You're cycling trivialities

You don't know which way to turn
Every trifle becoming big concerns
All this time you were chasing dreams
Without knowing what you wanted them to mean

So, how's it gonna be
When it all comes down
You're cycling trivialities

Who cares in a hundred years from now
All your small steps, all your shitty clouds
Who cares in a hundred years from now
Who'll remember all the players?
Who'll remember all the clowns?

So, how's it gonna be
When it all comes down
You're cycling trivialities
So, where's this leaving me
When it all comes down
You're cycling trivialities



http://jose-gonzalez.com/

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Be So Glad" by Jaimeo Brown Transcendence

This transfixing video for jazz and hip-hop drummer Jaimeo Brown's song "Be So Glad" is as amazing as the music.

Post Panic, the production company responsible for the video says:
A meeting between musician Jaimeo Brown and the New York-based filmmaker Fons Schiedon found the two of them shared similar views on how they liked to work, particularly in creating room for improvisation and intuition. With a new release for Brown coming up, a collaboration on a promo was the obvious next step. It was clear that Schiedon and Brown wanted to combine and reference elements from different eras and genres. And they shared a preference in working quite organically, combining high end technology with tactile, DIY methods. It was important not to lose the humanity in production, whilst also maintaining a sense of 'imperfection' within the filmmaking. Schiedon explains, "The video applies that notion of imperfection, for instance, by using a partly practical, partly animated, approach to bring the skeleton dancer to life. There are smoother ways to do it, but none of them are this much fun."

On the track "Be So Glad," from Jaimeo Brown Transcendence's breakthrough sophomore album "Work Songs", Brown and Chris Sholar (the production team that comprises Jaimeo Brown Transcendence) sample inmates from the Parchman Farm Prison in Mississippi in 1959. "Be So Glad" is a prime example of common repetition in work songs creating a type of mantra that changes the feeling of labor--a vehicle to transport people from the high walls of despair to personal awakenings of freedom.




Here is a section from the Jaimeo Brown Transcendence Manifesto...it is worth posting and reading:

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACTIVISM.

Transcendence seeks to enable a potentially self-sufficient community to use history, art and technology to inspire and advance culture.

Transcendence represents humanity through all time periods. We seek to highlight the ways people around the world have used creativity, ingenuity and available technology to create new models [of music, culture and education] for their community.

Transcendence is a mosaic of history, art, and technology.
Transcendence is cultural resistance; a struggle against hegemony and a response to contemporary systems of oppression.

Transcendence is about the ways in which people can overcome.

Transcendence is art, community, and a movement.

Transcendence is a breathing art form; it looks both forwards and back simultaneously; it weaves the present through the past and to the future.

Transcendence should feel confrontational and comforting, gut wrenching and peaceful, invoking dance and stillness, always spiritual.

Jazz has an indelible history of protest, and in a time of conflict and trouble, transcendence is recognition of the musician's role as philosopher, and the potential of art to ask questions, build ideas and contribute to meaningful social change.

If you want to know what is important to a people – listen to their music....


http://www.jaimeobrown.com/

Monday, April 25, 2016

"Ghosts and Fashion" by Elaine Equi

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have presented special works by selected poets each Monday in April (previously here, here, and here). Our final poem this month is the delightful but thought-and-emotion-provoking "Ghosts and Fashion" by Elaine Equi.

Ghosts and Fashion
by Elaine Equi

Although it no longer has a body
to cover out of a sense of decorum,

the ghost must still consider fashion—

must clothe its invisibility in something
if it is to “appear” in public.

Some traditional specters favor
the simple shroud—

a toga of ectoplasm
worn Isadora-Duncan-style
swirling around them.

While others opt for lightweight versions
of once familiar tee shirts and jeans.

Perhaps being thought-forms,
they can change their outfits instantly—

or if they were loved ones,
it is we who clothe them
like dolls from memory.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

BEAUTY: Interior Design--Pierce & Ward

This lovely home was designed by interior design team Pierce & Ward. What an eclectic assemblage...a molded Eames chair here, a Moroccan leather pouf there, a splash of Bohemian-style Persian rugs, and a smattering of antique chests and turn of the century cane fauteuils. I love when a home feels not "designed" but "curated"--it is what I strive to do for my own interior design clients. And I know it will be polarizing to some readers, but I confess I really love the striped entry since it reminds me of the interior of the stunning Duomo di Siena in Siena, Italy!


http://pierceandward.com/

Saturday, April 23, 2016

BEAUTY: Painting--Michael Chapman

Planes within planes, images within images, frames that look onto windows that look onto canvases of other windows and frames...Michael Chapman's visual vocabulary is a kind of hallucinatory maceration of a particular American viewpoint, and most noticeably the work of Edward Hopper. E. Lynne Moss of American Artist magazine wrote, "Over the past nine years, the artist’s themes and subjects – beach scenes, interiors, city streets, trees and parks, and nocturnes- have become increasingly more complex in their content and composition. Consistently featuring such objects as fire hydrants, chairs, tables, cars, and trains. Chapman continually reconceives their arrangements, explaining that he has a 'vocabulary of subject matter' that interests him. 'I resolve the same ideas in different ways,' he says. 'My mind keeps working on them without being conscious of it. It’s almost as if it’s a matter of time before I will come up with a final solution.'" I've always said that when one looks at an artist's body of work--whether that artist is a painter, a sculptor, a filmmaker, a poet, a fashion designer--it is often clear to see that artist working through a single idea, perhaps approaching it from a different angle each time, trying to refine and perfect and ultimately digest it. We all have images or ideas that have snagged us, that task us, even vex us...

Chapman's interiors remind me greatly of the work of Hopper, especially his glorious, penultimate work, Sun In An Empty Room which I wrote about here. Chapman even includes Hopper paintings within his own interiors. See the last work in this post, a painting Chapman entitled Southwest Sojourn--it contains a view of the painting Western Motel by Hopper!


Top to bottom: American Fire Watchers; Dark Utterance: Evening Contentment; Gathering Sunny Days; Illumination and Speed; Nightwatchers; Ocean Park Sunlight; Private Sunlight; Private Sunlight #2; Private Sunlight; Southwest Sojourn

Michael Chapman is represented by many art galleries but I did not find a dedicated website.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"The Chain"

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm posting some of my work every Friday (previously here and here). Today, I'm sharing my original poem "The Chain."

The Chain

We’re migrating.
We all had cars at one time but we
seem to have lost them along the way.
Now we’re on foot.

Some of us carry spears, some guns,
I don’t know where they got them.
Most carry nothing but a few belongings,
a bag of ideas that let us set up camp, settle.
We’re walking with all our buildings,
foundations demurely pulled up like skirts
as our cities follow us in a line.
We strike and move on.

My eyes itch.
I have to go to the bathroom.
There’s music all around us but
coming from nowhere.
This journey can be measured
in distance but also in time
or neither.

Those at the front discover our destination:
by the time it makes its way to the back,
they have forgotten.
Then we forget. We take uncertainty
into ourselves like air, it sleeps
with us in our sheets.

This journey isn’t forward, it’s
peeling back like an onion, layer by layer.
This journey curls in on itself.

©JEF 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince and Bowie: Other Ways To Live, Other Ways To Be A Man

Two thoughtful, spot-on essays about Prince and Bowie.


Mourning Prince and David Bowie, who showed there’s no one right way to be a man
By Alyssa Rosenberg April 21 at 3:47 PM for The Washington Post


When the news came this afternoon that Prince had died at 57 at his home in Minnesota, a chorus went up that it was the latest cruelty of 2016, a year that already feels merciless in those it’s claimed, four months along.

But if the deaths of Prince, and Bowie, and Chyna, and Harper Lee taken together feel like a moment of catastrophic generational turnover, the loss of Prince and Bowie represent a more specific calamity. We’re in a moment in American politics consumed by gender panic, from Donald Trump’s menstrual anxieties to the rise of and backlash to a movement for transgender rights. And now we’ve lost two men who had an expansive, almost luxuriant vision of what it meant to be a man and lived out that vision through decades when it was much less safe to do so.

Both Prince and Bowie often seemed more than merely human. Bowie was an ageless vampire in “The Hunger,” a human manifestation of an alien being as Ziggy Stardust, the rock star from “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Prince left language behind to adopt what became known as the “Love Symbol” as his moniker; his death prompted many people to remark that mortality seemed like the only garment that didn’t fit him, that he had transubstantiated or ascended rather than truly died.

But if conventional notions of gender were only one of the things that didn’t constrain Bowie and Prince, their transcendence of this particular category is still a particularly significant part of their legacies. In the clothes they wore, the lean bodies they lived in, the way they positioned themselves in their music and art, their relationships to LGBT communities and in so many other ways, Prince and Bowie were living arguments that there is no one way, and no correct way for a man to dress, to move, to decide what he values, to choose who he loves or where he stands in relation to that person.

And that transcendence and transgression weren’t just about what Prince and Bowie did in their own lives; it was in what they made other people want to do to them. Mick Jagger may have had an affair with David Bowie, but everyone wanted to sleep with Prince, even when they didn’t want to want him.

The critic Hilton Als began his 2012 essay in Prince in Harper’s with a long recounting of a 2002 stand-up comedy special from Jamie Foxx that gets at the sexual panic Prince inspired. In the joke, Foxx talks about going backstage at a Prince show, looking in the Artist’s eyes, and trying to manage his own reaction: first, denying that what he felt for Prince made him gay, then insisting that if they had sex that Foxx would be the active partner.

Fourteen years ago, when Foxx aired that routine, marriage equality wasn’t yet the law in a single state, much less the settled law of the land. Foxx’s special was just three years removed from the trial of Aaron McKinney for the killing of Matthew Shepard, where McKinney’s lawyers tried to use a so-called “gay panic” defense. And Prince had been inspiring that sort of unease for decades.

There are wry notes of regret in Als’s essay, about the choices Prince made to become famous and when he became famous, about the sacrifice of “the girl Prince had been before he stopped being a girl: outrageous and demanding.” But even when Prince stepped onto larger, more mainstream stages, his presence could still be radical.

It’s true that in recent years, the Super Bowl halftime show has often been a showcase for women in the midst of a clash between men. Madonna, trying to make what was once seem daring relevant in a changing culture; Katy Perry’s schlocky self-coronation; Beyoncé’s transition from packaged pop as part of Destiny’s Child to militant excellence as a solo artist. But if these performances act as an argument that men and women can each be powerful in their own spheres and on their own terms, Prince’s appearance on the Super Bowl stage in 2007 was an argument, at this particular worship service dedicated to traditional masculinity, for a vastly huger range of possible ways for a man to command the nation.

What other person could take that very particular stage in a head wrap and end his performance with his guitar posed as a symbol of male sexual virility — which, of course it was — silhouetted on a giant scale and make it all feel like an effortless, coherent whole, without a hint of overcompensation? I adore Bruce Springsteen, but his crotch-first slide into a television camera two years later felt decidedly less vital.

57 is awfully early for anyone to die, but it feels especially so for Prince; he never reminded us that he was growing older by trying to seem young. Now he’s gone before we could possess him as fully as he always invited us to. But we’ll continue on into the weirder, more beautiful world he seemed to be living in decades before the rest of us arrived there.

Originally in The Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2016/04/21/mourning-prince-and-david-bowie-who-showed-theres-no-one-right-way-to-be-a-man/


Prince and David Bowie showed us another way to live
By Nate Scott April 21, 2016 3:29 pm for USAToday

David Bowie and Prince are dead.

If feels unreal. The feeling of denial abounded on Thursday, after the death of Prince was confirmed: No. This can’t be real. This is all a bad dream.

I felt it as strongly as anyone. It couldn’t be real because both Prince and Bowie never really felt real. People that talented, that beautiful, that unique … they couldn’t be of this earth, and thus, they couldn’t die. They were otherworldly. As I wrote of Bowie when he died in January, he “never felt like a person who was born … he simply appeared, materialized from the ether, a magical embodiment of everything creative and cool in the universe.”

It also felt unreal because of what the two artists meant to so many people. For anyone who ever felt strange, or like a misfit, Bowie and Prince were more than people. They were gods. They were two musicians who meant more than their music; they were meaningful because of who they were.

They showed us that there was another way to live.

Many of us believe we are special flowers. We are not. Very few people on earth can resist the urge to latch onto a movement, whatever that movement may be. We define ourselves by the people we admire, by the things we like, but we define ourselves by others. There is nothing wrong with this. We all do it. We do this because it’s easy, and we do it because we are all very desperate to not be alone.

Prince and Bowie didn’t do that. They had no interest in it, really. They did their own thing. Prince wore purple blouses and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and rode around in light-up roller skates because he thought it was beautiful and interesting and it all made him happy. David Bowie dyed his hair pink and bleached his skin and imagined himself an alien sent from outer space. They checked no boxes. They adhered to no existing ideas about identity, or masculinity. They created it as they went.

This is terrifying, if you think about it, and sort of insane. Think about how genius you have to be, think about how confident you have to be to decide that you will not adhere to what anyone else on earth thinks is acceptable or cool. You will define what is cool. That is nuts, a little bit. You may think you look good, but what if everyone else just thinks you look like a crazy person? If you’re the only person alive doing it, how would you ever even know?

There is bravery in the way Prince and Bowie lived, and foolishness, but for people who grew up feeling like they didn’t fit in, it was liberating. When I first saw Prince wailing away on that paisley Telecaster, or saw Bowie, snowy white, singing Starman, it blew my mind. They were cool. They were the coolest. I knew that inherently, even as a kid. And yet they were unlike anyone I knew who was cool. How was that possible?


The loss of these two artists feels especially tragic because of the year in which we lose them. We like to curse 2016 for taking these two men, as if a year can be responsible, but at a time when political movements are built on anger and the ostracizing of others, when laws are being passed out of fear of those that are different, we need more people like Prince and Bowie. People who can show us it’s OK. It’s OK to define yourself however you want to.

And because this is 2016, and this is the internet, there will be backlash. Bowie was rightfully criticized for his relationships with underage women. I’m sure Prince has moments that will haunt him. Sinead O’Connor says she and Prince once got in a fist fight over the song Nothing Compares 2 U. It’s details like these that can break the spell around these men, and remind us that indeed that’s what they were — men. Living souls who were imperfect, and who are now gone.

We all must make our peace with Bowie and Prince, and all the other artists we adore who are flawed. Some people can’t do it. Others can. What’s more important, I think, is that now, even in death, these two men will continue to show other people that originality is real, that art is alive, that cool is what we make it.

In small towns across America, around the world, there are kids who feel like they don’t belong. They haven’t been to New York City yet, or London or Tokyo or Johannesburg or Berlin, haven’t seen the weirdos and the freaks, and they don’t know that there is something else out there. And then one day they’ll stumble across Prince, or Bowie, or maybe both, and they’ll see that there’s more, and they won’t feel so alone.

Originally in FTW!Culture USAToday
http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/04/prince-death-dead-david-bowie-music-originality-art

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Sign "☮" The Times"

It's National Poetry Month and every Wednesday I have been posting lyrics from pop or rock songs that also double as true poetry. But since we have, just hours ago, lost an extraordinary lyricist, musician, and performer in Prince, here is a special installment of "The Poetry of Rock n' Roll;" the lyrics to one of Prince's most profound songs, "Sign "☮" The Times."

Sign "☮" The Times
by Prince

In France, a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name
By chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same
At home there are seventeen-year-old boys and their idea of fun
Is being in a gang called 'The Disciples'
High on crack and totin' a machine gun

Time
Times

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside
You turn on the telly and every other story is tellin' you somebody died
A sister killed her baby 'cause she couldn't afford to feed it
And yet we're sending people to the moon
In September, my cousin tried reefer for the very first time
Now he's doing horse: it's June

Times
Times

It's silly, no?
When a rocket ship explodes and everybody still wants to fly
But some say a man ain't happy unless a man truly dies
Oh why?
Time
Time

Baby make a speech, Star Wars fly
Neighbors just shine it on
But if a night falls and a bomb falls
Will anybody see the dawn?

Time
Times

Is it silly, no?
When a rocket blows and everybody still wants to fly
Some say man ain't happy truly until a man truly dies
Oh why, oh why?
Sign o' the times

Time
Time

Sign o' the times mess with your mind
Hurry before it's too late
Let's fall in love, get married, have a baby
We'll call him Nate
If it's a boy

Time



R.I.P. Prince

R.I.P. Prince

Well, we've lost yet another legendary music icon. Prince died today at the shockingly young age of 57. What a fantastic, prolific, and otherworldly talent who leaves behind a staggering body of work. He actually managed to invent a new genre of music: the Minneapolis sound, an unlikely mix of funk/soul with electronic music, rock, and a smidgen of punk. Amazing. And if you weren't alive in the 80s, it is hard to describe the feeling, the zeitgeist, and the absolute phenomenon that was "Purple Rain." While he may have faded from such intense popularity with the years, his live shows and stage presence continued unabated. I had the privilege of seeing Prince perform a few times--I actually got to see the legendary 1999 Tour in April of 1983 where the original Vanity 6 line up and The Time were his opening acts, as well as his incredible, in-the-round Lovesexy Tour in November of 1988--and he was a jaw-droppingly explosive live performer and musician. Just incredible.

Yes, sometimes it snows in April.


Rest in peace Prince Rogers Nelson.


Poem In Your Pocket Day 2016


The Weighing
by Jane Hirshfield

The heart’s reasons
seen clearly,
even the hardest
will carry
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.

As the drought-starved
eland forgives
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.

https://www.poets.org
https://www.facebook.com/janehirshfield/

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Hatfield 1980" and "Missing"

For this installment of The Poetry of Rock n' Roll in honor of National Poetry Month, I give you a two-fer.

Everything But The Girl was how musician Ben Watt and singer Tracey Thorn styled themselves and I adore them. The group started in the neo-jazz groove of the mid-80s and morphed into a spectacular dance band in the 90s. But it is Thorn's voice that has always been front and center, no matter what the music style. Watt and Thorn wrote some stunning lyrics and although I narrowed down the list, I couldn't choose between these final two. They both resonate with me personally. "Hatfield 1980" could be about the suburban city I moved to in 1980 when my family came to California from the east coast. It was a rather savage working class/middle class area. And I did get beaten up by the playground (I am sure every adult gay man has such a survival story)--but that was the least of the violence hurled at me during my time there.

"Hatfield 1980"
by Everything But The Girl

Suburbia, 1 am
You're walking home again
Shopping bags and broken glass
I hate going through the underpass
I wish there was some other way around
But you got beaten up by the playground
And it's no use
You'll have to go through
Suburban shopping centre
Pedestrian walkways
I think they were meant to make things better
But it's just emptier
And scary at night-time
Hatfield,... at that time

This is the place I live
Where is everyone? Are we the only ones?
This is the place I live
And so does everyone, and so does everyone

Hatfield 1980
I'm seeing my first knife
My first ambulance ride
I hold your hand the whole way, crying
Get home the next day
Police have already been
Well, you can imagine the scene

And if I'm going home
I better change my clothes, I better change my clothes

This is the place I live
Where is everyone? Are we the only ones?
This is the place I live
And so does everyone, and so does everyone

When I'm looking back I look for everyone
And when I fall down I fall for anyone
When I'm looking back I look for everyone
And when I fall down I fall for anyone

I don't live in that city anymore, but over the decades, like most suburban areas of the San Francisco Bay Area, the city in question has become gentrified and is now quite upscale. I still live here in the Bay Area and if I have reason to go there or pass through, I marvel at how incredibly different it looks and feels. But there are those of us who recall it before...

I have a soft spot for this next song for, again, several personal reasons. It came out around the time a very influential and important friend in my life died. After her death I would drive past her house in Berkeley and think, just like the lyrics to this song, "...but you don't live there anymore."

And to make matters worse, there is another layer. I stayed here in California when my parents moved back to the east coast in the late 90s; my mom wrote me regular letters and closed once with a quote from the song: "I miss you like the deserts miss the rain." She and my father passed away a year later.

Yes, missing....as in "yearning for," but also as in "disappeared."

"Missing"
by Everything But The Girl

I step off the train
I'm walking down your street again
And past your door, but you don't live there anymore
It's years since you've been there
Now you've disappeared somewhere like outer space
You've found some better place

And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain
And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain

Could you be dead?
You always were two steps ahead of everyone
We'd walk behind while you would run
I look up at your house
And I can almost hear you shout down to me
Where I always used to be

And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain
And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain

Back on the train, I ask why did I come again?
Can I confess, I've been hanging round your old address?
And the years have proved
To offer nothing since you've moved
You're long gone, but I can't move on

And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain
And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain
And I miss you

I step off the train
I'm walking down your street again
And past your door, I guess you don't live there anymore
It's years since you've been there
Now you've disappeared somewhere like outer space
You've found some better place

And I miss you
And I miss you
You found some better place

And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain
And I miss you, yeah, like the deserts miss the rain


http://www.ebtg.com/

Monday, April 18, 2016

"On Speaking Quietly with My Brother" by Jay Deshpande

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am presenting special works by selected poets each Monday in April (previously here and here). Today we have an achingly evocative poem by Jay Deshpande.

On Speaking Quietly with My Brother
by Jay Deshpande

You who threw the rock at the back of my head
as hard as you could at four because you thought
this was how to make a stone skip on the ocean,
I have watched you in the dark of a yard
where we can only see each other by a lamp left on
some rooms away. We can see only
one another’s chin. Soon, you will stay up
through the night after I fall
into a laughing sleep. Two moths dust
the same screen for remembered light.
We have all been removed from the lyrics, brother,
our names will be stricken from the papers.

When I think of you and me and recall some
adolescent sunrise, standing on rooftops,
blue still the island but the bowl of it about
to fill with light, it is perhaps strange and horrible
to know one day one of us will die
and the other will be alive, volume turned up,
his mouth now weighing twice as much.
We cannot be excused from this
device of road and harrow, from this weight
we heft and heave. So, you will be the sister.
And I will be the sister. And you—
you are about to give me my words.

http://www.jaydeshpande.com/

Sunday, April 17, 2016

BLOCD Pantone Chocolate

As a gift for their clients, graphic design firm BLOCD in Barcelona riffed on the Pantone color scale to create a box of gradated chocolates with names like one would find on a Pantone chart.


http://blocd.com/