Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Seen" things - September 18, 2007

Standing on a T platform on a sunny day with a light blue sky:

The station is an above-ground stop, but both platforms offer shelter with angled roofs. The roofs don't meet though. Standing about three feet from the edge, the opposite platform's roof cuts off the sky from the bottom. The roof under which you're standing cuts off the sky from the top. You now have a "wide-screen" canvas.

This day, the canvas was a minimalist study on the color of blue. Except for one cloud. It was a perfect popcorn cloud. The kind of cloud drawn by kids with confident, happy curves. It wouldn't stay that way. The cloud wasn't being moved by a wind, so it stayed in the same spot. It's shape was shifting due to inner forces. I was hypnotized.

The next shape was a human figure lying down, but my vantage point was eye-level behind the head with the feet disappearing away from me. The body was a closed form, so I wondered if this was someone being prepared for burial or was it a mummy on display in the sky.

The next two shapes took the form of my dog. She's white and fluffy, too. The cloud mimed two of her favorite reclining positions. It was a very talented cloud. It shaded her nose just right, and nailed her frazzled ears.

The cloud then whirled up into a fierce Japanese witch. Her billowing cape was obscuring something, but her gaze was implacable. What kind of omen was that?

Then, the train pulled in. I wondered what was going on inside that cloud to cause it to roil like that. Far away, it was an object of amusement. Up close, I suspect something beautiful and terrifying could be observed.

Emerging from the underworld:

It never fails. I always forget there's a living, moving world above me when I travel underground. The train pulls itself above ground, and I'm surprised to see masses of people crawling all over the surface. I'm Persephone every day. Part of me is happy to see the vibrancy and to know I will rejoin them soon. The other part of me is annoyed to know that my presence was not missed and life went on while I was captive in the tunnels.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What I Did Last Weekend, part deux

Before going to the Open Studios, I listened to a presentation by one of the artists, Candy Nartonis, who would be showing there. She also had a hand in organizing it, I believe. She lives in a building of lofts dedicated to providing relatively affordable live/work space for artists. At one point, she commented that the building housed more than just visual artists. I asked if they had any poets and she affirmed they did. His name is Bei Ling. He was imprisoned in China for publishing his poetry. He told me Susan Sontag was instrumental in arranging his release from China and establishing him here in the U.S.

Candy Nartonis had encouraged us to bring $20 to Open Studios because we would be able to find something in that price range. I immediately determined that I would visit Bei Ling and he would have dibs on my $20 bill first. I wasn't disappointed. He was quite lovely to meet, and offered me green tea. Unfortunately, I only had three hours to experience the Open Studios (the options were dizzying), and couldn't stay. He graciously signed my book and I hope to attend a reading of his soon. He's involved in PEN, and I think he's a founding member of the
Independent Chinese PEN Center. They are Chinese writers in exile and in China concerned "with the rights of Chinese language writers throughout the world."

I haven't had much time to munch on his book, but what I have sampled is quite good. His poems are printed in Chinese next to the English translations. Try and find a copy of his book (inquire at an independent bookstore that's dedicated to international literature or poetry OR ask for it at your library--although they might not have it in their collection, they probably can acquire it for you through interlibrary loan.).
For more information about PEN, click here.

Book Info:
Bei Ling, Selected Poems (1980 - 1995), ISBN # 957-28408-3-5

Monday, September 17, 2007

What I Did Last Weekend

"After 'Self-Portrait'" - Jeremy Paten

I went to the South End Open Studios and I had a glorious time. Pine Street Inn, which is an organization that serves the needs of Boston's homeless, had artwork on display, too. There was some exciting work to be seen, but unfortunately, the art wasn't displayed very well. They have a lot to exhibit, but no space or outlet for exhibition. I instantly thought of Whole Foods, which hangs community art in its least, my store does. Can anyone think of other outlets where art like that could be hung or used?

I remember the YA/YA organization in New Orleans. They were very involved in getting young artists (school age, K-12) and their work to be taken seriously--creating art, framing it, exhibiting the work, attending opening receptions, and selling their art. Remember: I was manager of Children's Hour, where we sold children's art off our walls. (The image in this post is part of a large picture (too huge for my dinky scanner) drawn by Jeremy Paten; Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, and after staring at it for two days on the gallery walls, I gave in and bought it.)

I didn't have my camera with me on Open Studios day (I have temporarily misplaced the battery charger...yikes!) but there were two outstanding sculptures and striking two-dimensional art to be seen at the Pine Street Inn.

I met a lot of amazing people during the Open Studios (more posts to follow) but I'm so excited about a possible opportunity to work with Pine Street Inn and integrate communities that might think they're distinct but use the arts to knit them together (or show them that they are more linked then each supposed).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vroom! Vroom!

Brad Pitt

by Aaron Smith

With cotton candy armpits and sugary
Crevices, sweat glazing your donut skin.
Have you ever been fat, Brad?
Have you ever wanted a Snickers
More than love and lain on your bed
While the phone rang and rolled one
On your tongue, afraid to eat it, afraid
It would make your jeans too tight? Have you
Barfed, Brad, because you ate it,
Ate all the take-out, licked
Brown sauce off the box while you sobbed?
Brad Pitt down in the pits chaining menthol
Ciggys in your thick-wallet life,
It’s not so bad Brad, sad Brad, is it?

From Blue on Blue Ground by Aaron Smith © 2005.

Somebody's Gonna Hurt Someone, Before The Night Is Through

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party has finally concluded. For 31 days, I restricted myself to 170 songs dedicated to ebullience and rebirth (with a super quick foray into pineapple songs and retro sambas). Now, I'm splashing in the big pool again with over 6500 songs. And, it was a delight to hear non-vocal rhythms provided by DJ Spooky, Ellington, and Mozart. I don't know how I lived without "Fireflies (November 10th)" by The Stairs, but I don't have to anymore.

Highlights from playlist:

"Feeling Good," Nina Simone (99 play counts)
"Redemption Song," Bob Marley (2 play counts)

"Just Like A Woman," Nina Simone --B.D. sounds so much better when Nina vocalizes his lyrics:
"She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

"Redemption," Johnny Cash (Jesus Christ, Johnny Cash, John Coltrane: coinky-dink? discuss amongst yourselves, I've got SPAM on the stove.)

"Yegelle Tezata," Mulatu Astatke

"Cherry Bomb," Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
"Love Is All Around," Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (kick-butt cover of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme)

"Heartache Tonight," The Eagles (when playing RISK and I can see there are no more obstacles to my world domination, I jump up, start dancing and singing this song to cruelly rub it in.)


"About Me" August 2007

I was the girl who always got to play with the boys no matter what the game or plan. I ran fast. I climbed fences. I caught balls and scored touchdowns. But, I wasn't a tomboy, there's a difference. I was good enough to ramble with the neighborhood boys, and girl enough to do it in pretty, starched sundresses. My hair ribbons match my frilly socks, but I punched and tackled like a defensive lineman. The place was Harrisburg, PA, and the time was the Disco and Shag Carpet Seventies. I remember Harrisburg as a green maze of slopes and curves. Blue mountains slip and slide into town making a straight-ahead view impossible. I have a permanent tip of the head from always craning to see around the corner and over the hill...(click on Wild & Wooly link in profile to read more)