“Try to Stay Positive!”

I trailed after my wife, navigating around a cluster of pink bedecked girls dancing to electro-pop beats during “ Open Studio Weekend; the place looked like a Hollywood set.Try to Stay Positive“Even the graffiti looks fake.”

A scruffy juggler in white tights called over, “Try to stay positive!”

I glared back. “Stay focused on yourself.”

“It’s okay, man.” He dropped his pins. “It’s all good.”

The Contradictions of Being Pope Francis

Pope Francis has offered words of caring and understanding throughout his world tour.The Contradictions of Being Pope FrancisHowever in spite of his peaceful persona, he still represents an organization that has repressed and misled billions of people for almost two thousand years, maintaining backward views on social issues, most notably equal rights and contraception. The Contradictions of Being Pope FrancisIn other words, it doesn’t matter how much he smiles and waves; he’s still just the head of a conglomerate that owns too much and answers to no one.

To put it in the words of Monk Gasper de Carvajal of Aguirre, Wrath of God: The church will always side with the strongThe Contradictions of Being Pope Francis

Ice Friday: Qasiagssaq, The Great Liar

Qasiagssaq, men say, was a great liar. One day, when he had been in his kayak, without even a sight of a seal. He noticed a man from his village towing in a big black seal. Qasiagssaq rowed behind the man and stole the seal.

“Qasiagssaq, you have made a catch,” cried his fellow villagers. “Where did you get that tow line?”

“I have had it a long time,” he answered, “but have never used it before today.”

The other man from the village returned. “I got a big black seal today, but it was taken with my tow line.”IMG_4620The next day he was out again in his kayak and said to himself, “What is the use of my being out here, I who never catch anything?” He went to shore and lay his knees across a stone and used another stone to hammer his knee caps.

When he returned to the village, he told the villagers, “An iceberg calved right on top of me so that I barely escaped alive.”

Some time later, Qasiagssaq heard that a couple in another village had lost their child and went to visit. “Today my little daughter, Nipisartangivaq, is doubtless crying at her mother’s side as usual.”

The mourners looked up eagerly. “Ah, how grateful we are to you! Now your little daughter can have all her things.” And they gave him a cooking pot, beads and a great quantity of food. When he returned home, the other villagers asked where he got so many things.

“An umiak started out on a journey, and the people in it were hurried and forgetful.”

Towards evening, a number of kayaks arrived; the people from the other village had brought meat for Qasiagssaq’s daughter. When they learned that Qasiagssaq did not have a daughter, they asked for their cooking pot to be returned.IMG_4614The next evening he returned home and told the villagers he had found a dead whale. They rowed out for it and asked Qasiagssaq where the whale was.

“Over there, beyond that little ness,” he replied.

They rowed there and found nothing and asked again.

“Over there, beyond that little ness,” Qasiagssaq replied.

This happened again and again until the others finally said, ‘Qasiagssaq is only a trouble to us all. Let us kill him.”

And at last they did as they had said, and killed Qasiagssaq.*

*Greenlandic Folk Tale, as collected by Knud Rasmussen

In Preparation

The church is shrouded in darkness.20150922_205433Shadows chase up the pillars, like passing trees, and it suddenly seems as if there might an imperative here. 20150916_205757[1]It accelerates, chasing after itself, until it is utterly still. 20150510_141702And then it is only about maintaining, keeping everything as it is. 20150919_154750Or getting it higher, harder, dreaming that it really could be something more, furious in its fading.20150122_162243[1]Until it’s perverse and sad, a carnival and nothing more.20140321_223751[1]And we watch it slip and fall. 20150822_183329As an idiot records every moment.

Ice Friday: John Williams’ “Augustus”

Attributed to Horace from Maecenas in John Williams’ Augustus: 

I decide to make a poem when I am compelled by some strong feeling to do so–but I wait until the feeling hardens into a resolve; then I conceive an end, as simple as I can make it, toward which that feeling might progress, though often I cannot see how it will do so. IMG_4514And then I compose my poem, using whatever means are at my command. I borrow from others if I have to–no matter. I invent if I have to–no matter. I use the language that I know, and I work within its limits. But the point is this: the end that I discover at last is not the end that I conceived at first. IMG_4528For every solution entails new choices, and every choice made poses new problems to which new solutions must be found, and so on and on. Deep in his heart, the poet is always surprised at where his poem has gone.

Not the Hot Dog

I was in a questionable position, knowing I was doing the wrong thing, hoping no one would notice. Something came past me, right at my ear. I looked on the ground. It looked like feces.IMG_0602The room space was long and narrow, leading into an ocean, the water warm.

She was young and beautiful, her tight shirt knotted at the back. I wanted to know more and tried to ask her.

“You really want to know?” She kept going.

I persisted, but my time was up. And then there was a group of detectives, all of them filling in time cards. And I saw my bill for $750 and was alone with the paper and she was locked in a room. 20150419_181957One of the detectives came out, doing up his pants. “I like it like a hot dog, know what I mean?”

I didn’t.

Ratdog and Mayer

The hype on Dead and Company, the latest Grateful Dead side project, is befuddling to say the least, although the success of 50th anniversary shows have certainly led us hereRatdog and MayerThe truth is, however, that the fall tour of this hodgepodge and questionably-named band has little to do with the concerts in Chicago. Not only is founding member Phil Lesh nowhere to be seen – indeed he is concurrently playing in his eponymous band – but neither were Bruce Hornsby and Trey Anastasio included.

This group lacks the soul of earlier post-Jerry Garcia incarnations, The Dead and Furthur, neither of which were bedazzled by all the hype.Ratdog and MayerThis band, headlined by pop guitarist John Mayer who has nothing whatsoever to do with the music of the Grateful Dead, is a dubious path for Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann and, if they are not careful, could lead to moments they might regret. Ratdog and Mayer

Ice Friday: Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” So begins Albert Camus’ first-person account of a man who murders without reason in his existentialist work, The Stranger. IMG_4845The novel is peppered with absurd moments documenting a man, Meursault, doomed to die. “On my way out I was even going to shake the magistrate’s hand, but just in time, I remembered that I had killed a man.” (64)

Meursault describes “the odd impression of being watched by myself.” (87) And then, once convicted, on the inevitable end shared by all: “What really counted was the possibility of escape, a leap to freedom, out of the implacable ritual, a wild run for it would give whatever chance for hope there was.” (109) IMG_4723“Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. Throughout the whole absurd life I’d lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across the years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living.” (121)