September 30, 2012
The moon is still in the sky at night. The sun in the morning still excites.
I was so excited yesterday finding a new album of new original music by Iris Dement at Red Cat records. It has been over 16 years since she put out an album of original music. There is a warmth and maturity to this new record. Already I love Sing the Delta and The Night I Learned How Not to Pray.
The photo from the cover is not glamourous in any sense of the word; she presents herself as a less than flattering hausfrau, and yet...there is a sensual quality to it. She has a sadness in her eyes, but the fullness in her lips draw us in.
Easy is still getting harder every day it seems. She knows sorrow. And her voice...so distinctive and so 'old timey', so full of character, so full of life.
I remember when I first heard Iris, back in the early 90's. Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide and the shock of that loss was fresh. Iris filled the gap of his loss for me with her songs, lyrics, voice. I would listen and cry along to her music everyday. I saw her perform live in those days, and the love affair continued. The reaction to her third record, which was more political, seemed to change her. She withdrew, and her marriage fell apart or she outgrew the relationship. It was so many years until her next record, a collection of gospel songs that inspired her. In between, a selection of covers and youtube clips, collaborations with John Prine, was all her fans were left with.
What was the mystery? Was she suffering a writer's block? Had she told her story in the first two records, and that was all? Was she depressed? Then we heard she had married Greg Brown, and apparently from reading the liner notes to the new record, had a daughter. Life can interrupt the creative process, or rather the creation of a new life and parenting is a creative process in itself.
The heartbreaking song The Night I learned how not to pray ( because God does what he wants to anyway) is surprising in a way from an artist whose faith seemed to be such a big part of her life. But what is faith without a crises of faith? No matter how strong our belief in a higher power, we cannot help but be rocked when someone we love so dearly is taken from us. In the song, she witnesses her younger brother falling down stairs, a crumpled heap at the bottom with blood seeping from his head, and you know this is not going to end well. She gets down on her knees and prays and God takes him anyway, despite her prayers. Horrible tragedies like this happen everyday; our worlds and faith are challenged. But what is faith but believing in something that cannot be proven? If we could prove the existent of God, we wouldn't have to believe. We would just know.
I had the joy yesterday of walking with a dear friend, and sharing stories of our lives, our challenges. She gave me hope of overcoming the day to day, hour by hour, test of character that I'm going through.
My life is so gifted, it feels wrong to complain or try to elicit sympathy. I am eight days sober today, trying to process my thoughts, trying to repair, revise, reinterpret, reenvision, reenvigorate, and reinvent my present, my gifts, my life.
Oh that is a lot of R's. Hard r's, rolling r's, a veritable pirates booty of R's. As the cartoon at the top says, the meter is on and the gas is running. And hey Jean, do you need me to strike a match?
September 24, 2012
The scream hides the hole. The time it takes to fall from vertical to prone is commensurate with the velocity of vodka enveloping vellum, a velvet balancing act performed by a chimp on a bike on a wire. Not enough stitches to keep them all laughing. It only hurts when they don't laugh.
And now the promise. A promise that portends disaster that extends the laughter that contends with "after." After dark, a gradual lightening strikes. The air is electric, waiting for another glass in the neighborly direction.
Still the violins pluck and nobody fucks, and everything is stuck. The scream covers the slit in the back of his head, now open for all to see. Not much to see, keep it moving, nothing to see here folks. A comic without jokes. A drunk without a drink. An empty glass. A performer on hiatus. Which is code, entertainment code for when nobody calls.
The phone works both ways, inside and outside. Just like a glass ass. Inside and outside. Both sides shards hard now. Jagged, the outside is distended, disfigured fixtures broken, unspoken, it figures, he is distant, disguise disliked, dizzy with an emptiness that burns. Burns a big hole. Inside and outside. This buzz is for you. Buzz me buzz me baby. Who is it? Who is it? The crowd chants, "Hide the hole."
"The tale has no hero. The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards; confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all the elusive promises of friendship and love. From almost the beginning of awareness, drinking was a part of my life; there is no way that I could tell the story of the drinking without telling the story of my life. Much of that story was wonderful. In the snug darkness of saloons, I learned much about being human and mastering a craft. I had, as they say, a million laughs. But those grand times also caused great moral, physical or psychological damage to myself and others. Some of that harm was probably permanent. There is little to be done now, except take responsibility. No man's past can be changed; it's a fact, like red hair."
-Pete Hamill 1993 A Drinking Life
At a certain point in my thirties, I remember looking in the mirror and saying to myself, who is this guy? He doesn't even look like "me". Now it's a daily dressing down, and ego devaluation, and ultimately, acceptance of gravity and entropy.
September 20, 2012
The other day I was downtown meeting my wife for lunch. We decided to try out one of the many food trucks that now line the parking lanes ( the lanes that are not bike lanes) in our fair city.
We were about to cross the street when we saw on the other side some large signs being held by young men and women in their late teens or early 20's.
It was a Right to Life exhibition of the horrors of abortion, featuring the bloody remains of partially formed fetus upon fetus.
In short, a disgusting presentation right before lunch. More disgusting was the fact that these young virginal childults with their minds made up. The same philosophy that espouses the right to life, wants the right to kill those convicted of certain crimes, generally supports most wars, and has little sympathy for the children that actually do grow up, many in poverty, hungry, abused and unwanted.
Where does life begin? In the twinkle of a father's eye? A suggestive glance in a haze of booze inspired revelry? Or is the beginning of life simply a byproduct of romance, inspired by a lifetime of the Young and the Restless, Shades of Grey, and Harlequin? Does life begin before the dirty deed or is life an assembly line, predetermined from cradle to the grave?
At one time people believed in Preformationism. This philosophical theory of heredity claimed that either the egg or the sperm (exactly which was a contentious issue) contained a complete preformed individual called a homunculus. Development was therefore a matter of enlarging this into a fully formed being.*
Does that mean that inside every load, the male of the species carry little versions of themselves? Logically it is murder then everytime we pleasure ourselves in private. No wonder it is called Little Death.
The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth, Nicolas Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the semen of humans and other animals. This was the beginning of spermists' theory, who held the belief that the sperm was in fact a "little man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child. * In the beginning was Milt, and it was Dense.
This seemed to the Preformationists to neatly explain many of the mysteries of conception. It was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus may have sperm of its own. *
This led to a reductio ad absurdum with a chain of homunculi "all the way down". This was not necessarily considered by spermists a fatal objection however, as it neatly explained how it was that "in Adam" all had sinned: the whole of humanity was already contained in his loins. The spermists' theory also failed to explain why children tend to resemble their mothers as well as their fathers, though some spermists believed that the growing homunculus assimilated maternal characteristics from the womb environment in which they grew.*Wikipedia: Homunculus
So what right to life does a fetus have? What right to life does a cow or a pig have? What right to life do we all have once we are born? Please note when it is said a right to life, no one qualifies that life with an adjective. Not even right to a good life?
There are no guarantees. We all have a shelf life. Some ideas never hatch. And some kids do not get to be born. If there is a genuine concern or compassion for "life", then let us support the living. Let us ensure a "good" life for those lucky enough to be born. Either that or start the persecution of men who want to jerk off. After all, life starts completely formed in the milt. After that, it gets murky, even dense.