Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The House on Lake Merritt

Those who launched an "Occupy Raft" not long ago have come back with something more substantial -- If you want to see more than the photos below, click on the title above for a short slide show::

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Billie: Good Morning, Heartache

Good Morning, Heartache

Good morning, heartache –
You old gloomy sight.
Good morning , heartache.
Thought we said goodbye last night.
I turned and tossed until it seemed you had gone.
But here you are with the dawn.
Wish I’d forget you, but you're here to stay.
It seems I met you
When my love went away.
Now every day I start by  saying to you,
Good morning, heartache, what's new?

Stop haunting me now.
Can't shake you no how.
Just leave me alone.
I've got those Monday blues.
Straight through Sunday blues.
Good morning, heartache.
Here we go again.
Good morning, heartache.
You're the one
Who knew me well.
Might as well get used to you  hanging around
Good morning, heartache.
Sit down.

[Identified with Billie Holiday, who reprises the second stanza, “Good Morning, Heartache” is the work of Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher.]

Emily: "Good Morning, Midnight"

Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning – Midnight –
I’m coming Home – 
Day – got tired of Me –
How could I – of Him?

Sunshine was a sweet place –
I liked to stay –
But Morn – didn’t want me – now –
So – Goodnight – Day!

I can look – can’t I –           
When the East is Red?
The Hills – have a way – then –
That puts the Heart – abroad –
You – are not so fair – Midnight –
I chose – Day –
But – please take a little Girl –
He turned away!

        – Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy New Year, Dragons

Norma Jeane - More "Art" from old Storage Boxes

Click title above to a series of four of these "treatments" of Norma Jeane.


The new-to-me organization MarchForward.org has a good poster with the words, WAR IS BUSINESS.  (One might add, POLITICS IS ENTERTAINMENT, hoping that "government" might become something more than entertainment.)  Above, on 18 January 1991, stocks soar with the beginning of the first Persian Gulf War (so one ought to mark the sequence of wars in that area as one war in that area, lasting 20 years.
Now the citizens do not see the wartime atrocities as they did during the American War in Vietnam (although one may see those horrors on the Internet, printed in European periodicals).  Most Americans may not know that more G.I.s die from suicide than in battle, which I see as those who unconsciously want to dissent but don't have a community where they could find guidance for how to do that.
I recently attended intelligent presentations by two young veterans, Mike Prysner and Kevin Baker, from a group called MarchForward.org -- If you meet a depressed veteran or one who is still in service and utterly disillusioned, send him to that website!  As an older member of the organization, Bill Hackwell, said:  There is no longer a draft, but almost the same, there is an economic draft.  An Army full of young men who cannot find jobs.  Recalling the veteran rebellions of the American War in Vietname, described in the documentary YES SIR NO SIR, these young service men of today related stories about how soldiers and veterans are acquiring some political sophistication, whole units finding ways to refuse to be sent to battlefields in absurd wars waged for the benefit for them, the 99%.   Describing this new resistance, their political analysis was great, of the sacrifice of one class in society for the greedy interests of another class.

Quilted Irene Harmon

When my friend Rod Kiracofe participated in a show at the Berkeley Art Center, called "Paper Quilts," it made me think of a portrait I had done of Mrs. Irene Harmon many years before.  I realized that if I added some stitches, this portrait of Irene Harmon might qualify as a paper quilt; so far, it remains a collage.  At the time of my mother's death in Indiana, Paul Harmon's mother had a stroke, also in Indiana,  and came to live with him, when his flat included the home office of his business ventures.  I had a chance to talk to Irene, and, frankly, transferred my feelings for a lost mother to Irene,  who was not at all like my blood mother, and that was curative.
I was at Paul's house in Inverness, expecting his family to arrive, when we got the call that Irene was terribly ill, probably dying, or dead.  I sat at a metal shack down hill from the house, in front of me a tree that had been topped, near me, lay slices of parts of the upper part of that tree.   (And wouldn't you know, I find, looking through old photos, a picture of that tree.)
I wrote out my own sadness, as one exiled from family latches on to someone else's family -- well, no, I truly liked Irene -- so much the opposite of my Zazu Pitts mother, "big as a horse," my mother  would say of herself, but mentally fragile and seeming to be ever suffering in a way that exhausted everyone around her.  Irene had been a basketball star in high school, and was lean, tough, independent, not sentimental.  I looked at the tree that refused to die, and wrote out my sadness:

For Irene Harmon

Saturday, September 3, 1988, Inverness, California

I am sitting on my rolled-up sleeping bag in the metal
Sears and Roebuck shed.  I am facing the window
where a moss-robed tree, trunk topped at about eight feet,
is not dead, has begun to grow a crown of young branches.
At my left, I see its former limbs and branches through
the open door, still sheathed in moss green; their ends,
still fresh and blond, reveal circular photographs of time –
the saw has left zigzag lightning across the peace of 
concentric rings that no-one would see but for these slices.
We wait to hear the news.  Is Irene dead or alive? 

As I wait, I read an Updike story, “Journey to the Dead,”
about late middle age.  Young Geoffrey in the house up
the hill is assigned to write a précis of the story, and I
have accepted that I will look it over for him.  Geoff’s
stepgrandmother, Irene, had a stroke yesterday.
She is in a coma in the City.  Or has she died?
Her sons, Paul and Bob, are with her there in the city,
while we here in Inverness stand between place and
place, time and time, holding memories of love that
might cry in our faces the moment we touch them –
moments with Irene in them.  We know we must let go
of this woman who has made it clear that this is where
she wants her life to end.  Each of us, like elephants
who nudge their fallen one, are kind enough to question
her decision one more time; and if she says the body
has won its right to return to matter, to be sent on,
then its always illusory spirit, too, will become
invisible, dropping down through the circles
in the trees still uncut:  I want to visit Irene in
San Francisco, yet I am afraid she might mistake
it as a call to return.  I might unkindly cause her
to forget her firm decision; she might respond
to a wrong voice, to someone appearing to carry
a lantern along a dark passage back to earth. 

Had Eurydice not looked back?  Had she rejoined
Orpheus in the lie of the everyday and a normal
lifespan, someday she would have returned down
the path to where her other lover, Hades, lived
sadly without her.  If one lover – Life or Death –
is happy, the other one is weeping.  Did Irene turn
to console her Hades, her dead husband?
If Orpheus went for Eurydice a second time, back
toward the light behind him, she might have been
condemned to a life she no longer cared to live.

The cut wood nearby seems projected toward me
like a slain dragon that stumbled to a halt and fell
into sections, preferring to turn up with thick cards
of its old invisible life, not tumble into life’s mayhem.

2.  Sunday, September 4, 1988, Inverness

Last night, above dark pine boughs, the mass
of stars trembled; today, it is a constellation of gnats
that whirls between mossy trees.  Late afternoon,
at Abbott’s Beach, under fog, the ocean is the first
choppy carvings on a jade sculpture.   To look
at the sea is to feel the sky as cranial light,
sun softly penetrating a skin of fog, illuminating
a world under one great skull, immense and alone.

Standing behind me by the surf, James flies
his invisible kite, holding a string that disappears
into mist.  “You have the Great White Rabbit
on a leash,” I say and turn away for just a moment
to look at seaweed’s wild hair rising and falling
in slow motion, and I turn back again, and James
and his rising white string are gone.  Irene – you
trickster!  I see her laughing on the beach. 
Set that boy down again! 
                                             He’s found again
beyond a dune where Panayotis has fallen asleep.

Good-bye, Irene.

May the Great White Rabbit roll over us all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Black Crowned Night Heron

Click on title above for slide show of Black Crowned Night Heron -- immature stage; mature; then at its usual night time vigil, hunting at water's edge.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Some Words I Like

What the character Tito says in a story by Jim Breeden...

"All I ever wanted was to roam
 through fields of imagination,
 knowing that I could always return
 home to someone who loved me."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Interdependence of Individuals

           "Believe me, we will not interfere with your individual freedom to be unemployed, starving, unable to find work, with you and family members succumbing to illness, living in your car now that you have lost your home to the banks.  It might weaken you if we pampered you with aid in your distress."  -- Mr. Right Wing.
            "Independence? That's middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth." -- George Bernard Shaw
           The yin/yang/tao of elephants hugging elephants (my rough sketch, perhaps a friend who is a good artist, will recreate this some day):