Sunday, June 17, 2018

one of the most enjoyable classes i had at university was a course on chaucer.  my classmates were smart & funny.  the professor was erudite & crafty.  the text was that big red riverside edition of the complete works of chaucer.  a great book.  indeed the professor [i'm sorry if i have forgotten his name, we are talking 20 years ago now, so my apologies to you professor, you were a wonderful teacher] read us the poems, gave us their history, explained that one does not have to literally translate the word 'yclept' because one just needs to grasp its feeling in much the same way we feel the word 'cool' to mean good or well or okay or great or special.

in other words, accept chaucer on his terms & read him historically.  he was not a 21st C sort of dude.  still, chaucer was a humanist, & earthy, & very funny.  so imagine my delight to learn that chaucer tweets.  his account is chaucer doth tweet.  who says social media is used only for evil.  for on this platform the earthy, loving humanist poet writes for the denizens of the 21st C.

i love this recent tweet from the great poet

Be kynde
Be weirde
Read olde stuff and newe stuff
Make art  

how do you top that?  that is so well said it should become a tattoo on all of us who live by & in art.

& so for this father's day let me wish all parents, mothers & fathers, & children, & grandparents, & grand babies, & families of all shapes, sizes & persuasions, peace, love & kindness.

we are here only once, & for such a short time.  best to be kind to each other.  i think chaucer has tweeted about just that thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

notes on summer [drive in intermission shorts]

anna asked me last weekend if it felt like summer to me.  i answered in the negative.  i suppose as a grown-ass man deep in to middle age summer is just another season.  i mean, i still have to get up to go to work every weekday.  no three consecutive months off for me, thank you very fucking much.  still, summer does have a flavor all its own.  the light outside changes to a bright fluorescent that has been known to blind un-sunglassed people.  the heat in Sac can get intense.  but at least it is a dry heat.  find some shade and you can sweat it out.  this city has two rivers, the American and the Sacramento, and a long bike trail on the American that is both respite from urbanity and a lure to the adventurous where you can see deer, coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures etc etc.  i hear the fishing in both the American and the Sacramento is pretty good.  oh!  you can rent kayaks to paddle about in Lake Natoma, and rafts to float down the American.

these are a few of the summer things that my beloved city has in abundance.  Sac also has one of the few working drive in theaters in the U.S.  casual readers of this blog know that i think the happiest place on earth is the Sac 6 Drive In.  a few years ago the manager of the Sac 6, earl, gave me and nick a tour of the projection booth.  a true bucket list sort of thing for me.  and it ain't summer in the city without the Sac 6 Drive In.

but the Sac 6 no longer plays drive in intermission shorts.  these are the live action and cartoon commercials to get patrons to the snack bar to load up on goodies like sodas, candy, popcorn, pizza, burgers etc etc.  i love these intermission shorts.  some are artless, a few are art.  the Sac 6 had a live action musical short about going to the snack bar where you could get pizza with 'mushy roomy room sauce' that played so frequently at the Sac 6 it has become something of a folk legend.  I haven't seen this particular intermission short for over 35 years.  youtube has thousands of hours of intermission shorts, i've watched many of these hours, and i have yet to find this 'mushy roomy room sauce' commercial.

still, it is summer time, and the living, if it ain't easy [and it ain't], is at least vivid.  i love the drive ins, i love drive in exploitation movies, and i love very much drive in intermission shorts.  these shorts are the personification of summer for this old man who grew up in a northern california city that was once the home of up to a dozen drive in theaters.    

below is one of my favorite drive in shorts.  i might have posted this video before.  and yes, this was a mainstay at the Sac 6.  i think the short was produced in the late 1950s.  hence the emphasis on flying saucers.  flying saucers were often in 1950s sci fi/exploitation movies that played in drive ins.  viva la summer!  this shit makes me happy.

poem [the secret to poetry]

just kidding!
you thought i'd dispense the wisdom of the ages?
what wisdom?
there is no secret to poetry

poetry just makes me very fucking happy

Saturday, June 09, 2018

an ordinary day

saturdays tend to be chores day
so it was today
as we got to the business maintaining
our lives on this little patch of earth
nothing really happened
i kept the TV tuned to the news
hoping for something wonderful
i.e. a cure for cancer
or our politicians unfurl
flags of surrender
i helped anna with this
and that
i helped nick with this
and that
a mouse died in our backyard
and i took care of that
then we had dinner out with
the family
in the end it couldn't be helped
i turned a year older
51 years on this clamshell
i can't explain the quick passing
of these years
i don't know how many years
are in the future
i only know that the present
begins right now
and the present asks
in the words of david byrne
well how did i get here

Friday, June 08, 2018

anthony bourdain [1956 - 2018]

anna woke me at 5:30 AM and asked me if i heard the news.  what?  anthony bourdain is dead.  a suicide.  there are a few celebrity suicides that shocked the shit out of me.  writer david foster wallace was one.  anthony bourdain is another.  why?  the reason is because of their work.  a good writer, and bourdain was a very good writer, gets into the marrow of your bones.  some writers might even go deeper and seep into your DNA.  writing is a deeper life experience and those writers whom one falls in love with become a part of our lives, our bodies and our minds.  and when a loved writer kills himself/herself the shock of their action knocks you on your ass.

i was introduced to bourdain by my friend b. who loaned me his copy of bourdain's memoir kitchen confidential.  then b. said, you have to watch his TV shows.  those shows, a cook's tour, no reservations and the current iteration broadcast on CNN, parts unknown featured, written and narrated by bourdain were more than travel and cooking shows.  they were tone poems.  if i might even go further and call them extensions of bourdain's writings for these shows were essays.  bourdain showed us a world that is crazy, colorful, flavorful, and very human.

and that was bourdain's gift.  he was a flawed individual -- who isn't -- but he was a man who ate life and showed his audiences that wherever he went on this, our,beautiful planet the people he visited in his travels were people who also loved and feared just like us.  bourdain was a man who did what every great essayist does, tells us a human story whether it be about war, famine, refugees, or the abundant rich, that makes us both feel deeply and think widely.

so it is double punch in the gut to discover such a man who so loved life as he also suffered in silence and his suffering was so great that he killed himself.  mental illness is a silent killer.  we cannot know the inner life, the inner nightmare, of our fellow humans unless they tell us of their suffering, or unless we are trained to see the signs of suicidal behaviors.

so let me be an advocate for kindness and compassion.  the dude who cut you off on the highway might seem like a dick but who knows the cause of his suffering.  we all suffer.  life is suffering.  life is fucking tough.  life is unfair.  what we can do is practice kindness and forgiveness.  including the asshole who cut you off on the highway.

i dug the work and persona of anthony bourdain.  his death is a shock to me because he was probably suffering in silence for a long time.  i hadn't seen that suffering in bourdain's work, either on TV or in his books.  for god's sake, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.  it is a real physical illness.  there is light at the end of the tunnel.  if i might, be open about your suffering.  you'll be surprised to find others who suffer too.  we are human.  humanity is flawed.  humanity suffers.  that is our condition.  practice humility and forgiveness.  you don't have to suffer alone.  

Monday, June 04, 2018

quote unquote

Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky idiot

--nanao sakaki
[i fucking love this line of poetry!]

Saturday, June 02, 2018

doing a few lines at the sac 6 drive-in

it's intermission time
    hurry hurry hurry folks
        come to the snack bar
where you can try
our mouth-watering hot dogs
        enjoy your favorite beverages like
ice-cold coca cola & piping hot coffee

we have all your favorite candy bars

our italian-style pizza w/ zesty sauce
can be delivered right to your car
    & our bbq is so sassy your momma
will slap you in the mouth

the show will begin in 5 minutes

Thursday, May 31, 2018

quote unquote

tongues thick with music of alarm

--robert adamson 'approaching zukofsky'