Wanted and Not Wanted in Hollywood, 1917

Not wanted: stories dealing with the ruin of young girls, betrayal of virtue, neglect of children, cruelty to animals, excessive smoking, drunk cowboys always looking for a fight, extreme manifestations of sex, maudlin displays of patriotism…

…situations likely to instill fear, insanity, hunchback, sissies, gruesomeness, gun-play, milk bottles to indicate poverty, rats, snakes, kittens as well as distressing situations.

Wanted: light dramas, comedy-drama, amusement, good fights, fine riding, topical stories, domestic drama, mother stories, heart interests, suspense and stories based on war conditions but not showing actual war stuff.

From Scott Eyman’s The Life and Times of John Ford

William Basinski Plays Magnificent Loops

Visionary minimalist performer William Basinski played a marathon eight-hour show at The Issue Project Room on November 9 in Brooklyn Heights.

Actually performed is not a fair word for this event. While he was most certainly dressed as a performer – head to toe in black, including gloves and dark glasses – he did little more than sit at a large table, chose the desired track, and then stared out, like the rest of us.

I was a little off to the side, near the sound board, where two tech guys either slept or hunched over their phone and incessantly scrolled their social media. So began the eight-hour marathon.

The small crowd of 200 sat rapturously watching Basinski watch his laptop as a Borealis light show dripped down the wall of the very cool – actually cold – landmark building. It was hard to stay focused – even with the col – hard not to drift off to sleep, Basinski himself wandering off every hour for 10-15 breaks of his own.

Basinski is best known for The Disintegration Loops, a collection of loops he had recorded many years ago on analog tapes and re-recorded on 9/11 as the tapes physically deteriorated. He played four of these haunting recordings – Disintegration Loops 1.2,.2.1, 4 & the epic Disintegration Loop 5 – or, to be more accurate, his computer played these as he watched his computer and we watched him do that as the visuals continued to cascade behind him.

In the end, Basinski closed his laptop, the visuals faded, and he thanked the 60 or so of us who had persevered and offered free stickers as our reward.

As crazy as it might sound, as tired as I was, all I could think of was when he might be doing this again.

Polar Bear Chase

We paddled slowly. One seal popped up in the water. That was strange. We hadn’t seen any since the mainland. Suddenly Don pointed. “Is that a polar bear coming towards us?”

“I can’t see anything,” I said. “Maybe it’s foam.”

“No, it’s a polar bear. Get your camera out and get a picture,” Don said.

I yanked the spray skirt off and reached for the camera. “What am I doing? I’m getting out of here,” I yelled back. The polar bear was coming at us from an angle to cut us off from shore. All I could see was the tip of his nose, his beady eyes and the tip of his head with the little ears lying flat. He made no wake as he slid towards us. Spontaneously we veered away toward the open sea.

Don yelled, “Look back and see if he’s still coming.”

I’d glanced back. Yes, he’s still coming.” I kept checking. The bear raised himself to a normal swimming position and now there was a wake as the chase began. The bear wasn’t giving up. We paddled as hard as we could for an hour. Luckily the waves were moderate and the wind was in our favor. I couldn’t see the bear anymore.*

*Extract from Victoria Jason’s Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak.

Jerry Garcia on the Obvious

I love it when it’s possible to (explore transitions between songs). That’s something that I am better at than I am at other things. That’s one of the things that I am good at. Eventually, like, if I have a place to go, eventually, I can get there and make it pretty seamless. Because for me, the relationship between one thing and the other is always obvious. You know what I mean?

Even if it’s completely invisible to everybody else, to me, it’s always really obvious, and all I need to do is know both halves and eventually I’ll find a place that works, the walk between the two. Like Weir sometimes does it, but has sort of a blockier notion, you know? Which is okay. But for me, I like that invisible thing. I like that sleight-of-hand approach. (Excerpt from Petter Conners’ Cornell ’77)

The Evil Spirits in Kosinki’s “Painted Bird”

I tried to visualize the manner in which the evil spirits operated. The minds and souls of people were as open to these forces as a plowed field, and it was on these fields that the Evil Ones incessantly spread their evil seed. If their seed sprouted to life, if they felt welcomed, they offered all the help that might be needed, on the condition that it was used for selfish purposes and only to the detriment of others.

These creatures that inhabited the human soul observed keenly not only man’s every action but also his motives and emotions. What mattered was that a man should consciously promote evil, find pleasure in harming others, nurturing and using the diabolical powers granted to him by the Evil Ones in a manner calculated to cause as much misery and suffering around him as possible.

Only those with a sufficiently powerful passion for hatred, greed, revenge or torture to obtain some objective seemed to make a good bargain with the powers of Evil. Others, confused, uncertain of their aim, lost between curses and prayers, the tavern and the church, struggled through life alone, without help from either God or the Devil. (Exceprted from Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird)

Intelligence of a Disco Ball

I sit on the fire hydrant protective pole and think about this intelligence of ours. The buildings are big and I am impressed by that. I watch the people pass, the conversations, always on the phone, that Doppler effect, remarkable, words whole and real with the smiling, angry face, shards fleeting by, almost seizing that, like music, trying to compose those notes, understand that language. Yeah, it seems like hieroglyphics now, walking sideways, feeling so smart and full of it, and then not. Intelligence. My faux mantra. Life is being in it. Intelligence is understanding that. And so then? Then is the word. What is behind the locked door? The memory as a child of something not there. The reason for addiction. What goes on around that corner?

We imbibe. We rock and deride. We dream. What else can do that? And, essence of it, is intelligence in those very things? Irony of ironies, what if that is the only thing, to be wet and erect, and that we only need to stay delighted or angry or just freaking about that. We are the intelligent ones. Who else could dream up the idea of a disco ball, something so pure as that, that has no name nor gender or race. It just spins and plays all the right music.

Intelligent Life Means What?

Smart. Be smart. Meaning I should…what? Seek more? Strive? Find comfort? What any of that means. Being conscious of these things? To know where I come from? To love my origin story, my family and friends? Embrace those moments, revel in that existence. To be, as simple as that. That seems to be the credo. Intelligence. To look for a way beyond the inevitable, that good old death syndrome. Stay medicated in what I take. Is it just knowing that? That awareness? To reflect and smile, hitting the plot points, knowing the stage of life and sticking to that. In other words, if we are to leave the work of thinking in the corner and focus on the marketing, the rights be sold off, then what? Because it is just us, talking back and forth, saying something about intelligence but really just wanting to fuck. As intelligent as that can be. Meaning, in the end that this idea of intelligence might actually be something else, something not of us, not in our purview, given our limited attention.

Music and light is something we embrace. Music. And light. How could that be intelligent? Remembering we have the quantum observer issue clogging our way. Whatever I say, that’s me and not it. In other words me listening to music isn’t the music. It’s just me listening to music. A memory, an attempted sharing of an essential emotional response. Here and then not, that moment in the water, that breath like no other, that bubble in my head, keeping me moving forward without the lord, without the fan nation, without my beloved dreams, knowing it’s biology and chemical reactions, and thank god they invented the bar, even if that’s biology too, that zeal, that’s the thing, how we get into the darkness and find that it is just the same, things to be built, peace to be had. And so again, this intelligence thing and if we actually have that…

The Dick in a Confused and Awkward Castle

Joe found her standing by the bowl. She had taken her wet ruined suit off; she stood naked, supporting herself on one arm, leaning and resting. “Jesus Christ,” she said to him when she realized he was there. “I don’t know what to do. My jersey suit is ruined. It’s wool.” She pointed; he turned to see the heap of sodden clothing. (The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick)

Reading Philip K. Dick makes me scared, not by his dark alternate futures, but the prose, the prose that are so godawful that they could infect me. And make me write like that too.

She said, speaking slowly and painstakingly, “Hair creates bear who removes spots in nakedness. Hiding, no hide, to be hung by a hook. The hook from God. Hair, hear, Hur,” Pills eating. Probably turpentine acid. They all met, decided dangerous most corrosive solvent to me forever.

That. No. Not that.

Francis Bacon in Your Blood: Here and then We’re Gone

Sam Peppiatt writes of the artist Francis Bacon: “We don’t really know why we’re here, that we invent our purposes, that we invent our drives and aims. And then, suddenly, we’re gone.” (Francis Bacon in Your Blood, Sam Peppiatt.)

Philip K. Dick: Novelists Know Humanity, How Worthless It Is

They know a million tricks, those novelists. Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface. Yes, the novelist knows humanity, how worthless they are, ruled by their testicles, swayed by cowardice, selling out every cause because of their greed. (From Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle)