Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1040 Howard, between 6th and 7th.

Storefront no longer a store, with two display windows on either side of the door. All shielded by one of those security gates which makes long diamonds when closed, and it is closed a lot.

Art in the two windows. Right window has a big robot, or metal man, the size of a smallish adult but seeming large in the window. Articulated joints, like those usually smaller, usually window posing models artists use.

Metal man is surrounded by Rock Star Energy Drink cans. Empty. Many tidily in plastic crates such as milk goes to grocery stores in. Some are strewn on the floor of the window like trash.

The left window is a bit of a world that seems far from energy drink cans. It's smaller than the right window scene--the window has been painted white down to a fairly low point. The beings presented seem to be scrunched down by reality.

There's a bit of fallen tree--some branch looking thing. A bit of fallen person--a man's head with green maybe growing out of it. Maybe the head of the ancient Green Man after falling down and breaking into bits in a world without much room for Green Mythic Beings. Another head, face, looks out of a corner of the shorter window, looks desperate.

Metal that doesn't always matter chosen, again, over green that does matter and keeps us alive and mythic. Then there's no so much room for green and mythic and maybe not so much room for us.

Sylvia Townsend Warner wrote a book of stories about fairies, not cute but real and interpersonally chilly to humans, like the ones in old myths. They have many utterly believable adventures, coldish because so very not about us. Then in the last story in the book, they smell gasoline and they know they are over.
29 is prime. Knowing you is like February 29 which helps the ideal match the real. You're around much more than February 29, which is neat.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A great looking ballet moment is when the man lifts the woman up high.

She always jumps right at the start of his lifting. The whole momen is designed for her jump to not show.

She jumps. Being a ballerina, she has strong legs and is good at jumping.

It takes two strong people with practiced timing to make one person look that strong.

The image went with a time, a he time, and still is beautiful see. Many images from this time of less strong/weak opposition are missing, yet to be found.

Shakespeare worked in a coop. Most of the actors in the company shared profits. Some other actos were brought in on an as needed basis.

Shakespeare didn't right about working in a coop. He wrote about kings quite a bit. Monarchs were quite powerful. Shakespeare's coop theatre couldn't have existed without being sponsored by the monarch or a high aristocrat. But down lower, day to day, the actors were doing coop, an interesting and powerful thing to know how to do.

We don't have great art or much art about that.

People mock Oscar receivers for thanking too many people. There's a wisdom in their doing that. Lots of people lift, on set and at home, that they might look strong, special, gorgeous, whatever it is. We're learning how to learn how to talk about that.

We scarce know how to talk about it at all, except for the support team complaining, which is a long way from making great art about it.\\

Maybe "The Merry Wives of Windsor" by Shakespeare is about a coop in a way. Three women, who are friends, work together to make a man, who is a self-centered fool, look like what he is.

The legend is that Queen Elizabeth asked Shakespeare to write a play about Falstaff in love. Falstaff was a character in other plays who was way too self-centered to fall in love.

The play is a great example of how to give a person in power, not what they want, but something in the area of what they want that is so good they won't mind. QEI would be laughing too much to compaline,.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another day of orbiting on an orb. Another day at the edge of a planet's pirouette. Whatever else we do, we come around
Do what matters slowly in the speedy USA. That will fool those currently important.

In some other places, fast would be the trick.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Sweet Judy Blue Eyes" by Judy Collins is an intelligent and sweet book.

The book is named after a love song Stephen Sills wrote about her when they were having "a brilliant affair," with much love, passion, argument and power struggle--"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

They were maybe too much alike in personality; they both travelled a lot for work, and she drank a lot. It never really seemed to them like it could last, but they would have liked it to.

When Judy Collins hears "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" on the radio, on her CD player, as shopping background music, she is always present for it, as a great song she would have imagine being about her even if it weren't in fact actually about her.

The book title feels like "Thanks again, Stephen."

The book feels like largely a gratitude note to people she's loved in different ways.

She helped make big when she recorded his "Suzanne" before he was much known. Her hit recording made him known as a song writer. Before that he was known to a few for a couple of novels about the low life.

He had never performed publically until she invited to sing "Suzanne" at a benefit she was part of at New York City's Town Hall for the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.

He was scared, said he didn't want to, couldn't. She said he could do it. She said, "I'll be right there."

He went out on stage at the benefit, started "Suzanne" a little shaky, got strong, and stopped and walked off halfway through the song. He later blamed a broken guitar string.

She was right there, offstage, and walked with him back on stage and they finished the song together. The crowd loved it.

He returned the favor of the singer getting the songwriter to sing when he asked her why she never wrote songs. She said she hadn't thought of it, and she started writing songs.

It seems odd that she hadn't thought of it, surrounded by singer songwriters, but she started out being trained to be a classical concert pianists, and those folks really don't expect to write music like they are playing.

She started sitting at the piano and waiting, and catching lines of words and bits of music and writing them down and waiting. She was acting just like all her singer songwriter friends, thought she didn't know it when she first did it in response to Leonard Cohen's "why don't you?'

Judy Collins writes, "Leonard Cohen never broke my heart, but his songs have, every time I sing or hear one of them. As Leonard says, 'There's crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.'"

She's good at honoring that crack/light relationship as she consistently writes about people she's known in a way that is interesting, detailed, and kind.

How goes being sensitive in a world filled with cracks and light?

A voice that's more beautiful than the world. A voice that distills the world so we can drink the world in in a new way.

These are not easy things to have.

Judy Collins and Janis Joplin met in a nightclub with loud music where they had to shout to be heard by each other.

Joplin shouted at Collins, who she'd just met, "One of us will make it, and it won't be me."

In Judy Collins' last, God willing, four years of drinking she was drinking twenty-four hours a day.

She couldn't go three hours without a drink. She preferred vodka.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

People who perform think it's bad luck to wish each other good luck before the performance. Theatre people often say, "Break a leg."

Ballet people, Joseph Mazo notes in his book "Dance Is a Contact Sport," don't say that. It's too close. Ballet people actually break legs. Ballet people say before performance, "Merde," French for shit, which matches all the French names for the steps they are about to take to make beauty.
When I walked in here, it was warm. Now it isn't.

When I walked in here, it felt warm. Now it doesn't.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Titles of collections of short stories or collections of poems tend to evoke a mood, rather than trying to accurately lable what is within.

Two books that are different are "The Names of Birds" by Tom Crawford and "Women and Ghosts" by Alison Lurie.

Every poem in "The Names of Birds" is about birds. Every short story in "Women and Ghosts" is about a women encountering and having to deal with an other wordly being, an entity that by the rules of physics and modernness shouldn't exist, but, in these stories, does.

Birds are funny. Birds are beauty. There they are an are. The poet finds them so beutiful that sometimes he avoids looking right at them, because seeing them is such an intense experience. But there they are and are.

"The sun is/in the window/The birds are already up/Get outside/me is such a heavy/coat to wear." --from "Half a Buddha" by Tom Crawford

One of the women in "Women and Ghosts" wears her me heavily. She can pretty much attract men at will, her will. She chooses one, attracts him, enjoys the sex, and dumps him after not long, and enjoys his discomfort with that. And then on to the next man of her choice for the same cycle.

Then one of the rejected dies. Not because of her, and he's young to die, but he dies.

After his death, when she connects with a new man, and they get to the part where they are going to have sex, the dead man is present in the room, very strongly to her. The new guy in the room doesn't seem to notice, she does. It cramps her style to the point of paralysis in terms of having sex. She can't have sex because the dead guy is always there.

That's the way it is for her. Neither she nor the reader knows for how long.

She could, what the heck, pass the different time before her with the beauty of birds, but she doesn't seem like the type.

"The angel that might/knock you off your horse/on the way into the noisy city/ is no match for the tanager landing on the suet/You'll look in vain/ to find him anywhere/ in the Gospels. Not one/parable about the necessity/for beauty,/if we are to go on."
--from"For Certain Dark Days" by Tom Crawford.
Be gentle with reality, which could go a lot of different ways. Don't startle it with fear and anger. Let reality find its best self.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Are you alive? Can you move and do you?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

"Christ Stopped at Eboli" is a good read and good on doing good.

The author of the book, Carlo Levi, actually does good in a desperately poor village in Southern Italy, which surprise him.

He didn't go with the intention of doing good. He went because he was sent there as punishment, internal exile, for being politically active against Mussolini.

He wasn't locked up. He was told where the bounds were of where he could go, the edges of the village and give a place to live. His intention was to live quietly.

The people in the village who weren't poor peasants took him into their social group. That he was there as political punishment wasn't mentioned. They needed and wanted someone new to relate to, and they related to him.

The people in the village who were poor peasants found out quickly that he'd been trained as a doctor. He'd never practiced. He'd been an artist and a political activist.

The poor people didn't care that he's never practiced. They assumed that he would practice there. They demanded it of him.

The first person who the poor people demanded he treat died. People didn't hold the death against. The person had been very sick when Levi first saw him.

The village already had two physicians--the one who was almost senile and the one who was money hungry and liked to maximize his charges on people who had little money.

Maybe the peasants sought out the new guy assming he might care if they lived or died, which would be different for a physician in that village.

Nobody cared about him practicing medicine for the poor--not the not-poor people or the police who were supposed to notice what he did.

Then he used cement to fill up some low places in the village where water collected and mosquitos bread. These mosquitos would tend to spread malaria.

He did that, and all of a sudden word came down from outside the village that he couldn't practice medicin anymore, at all.

In his book "Rats, Lice, and History," Hans Zinsser writes that the tiny beings who spread debilitating diseases in poor countries are effectively the allies of the tyrants at the top of the poor countries government. The bacteria and viruses keep the people too tired to for better, fairer government.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

In the display windows of Thrift Town at 17th and Mission are red dresses of different styles and eras and the same red--the right red for the first half of February.

Read a Valentine heart shape from top to bottom. and it says the two can become one.

Read it from bottom to top, and it says the one can become two with the two still connected.

Read a Valentine heart shape as a whole, and it says wholeness is a place to live with room inside for the liquid of life and many adventures.

There are seventeen reasons why I feel good today, and I mostly don't know what they are.

About twelve are related to relating to you. Like reason six is a good thing that I didn't have before we connected.

Reason seven is a good thing I did have before, but because of being connected to you, it's stronger.

You know.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


When the shark has had his dinner
There is blood upon his fins.
But Macheath he hs his gloves on:
They say nothing of his sins.

--Bertolt Brecht, translated by Eric Bentley

Mac the Knife is the best known song from the musical "The Threepenny Opera" by Bertolt Brecht (words) and Kurt Weill (pronounded vile), music

Eric Bentley's translation is different than the most sung English version, including having a different title, but the spirit remains the same.

On a blue and balmy Sunday
Someone drops dead in the Strand.
And a man slips round the corner.
People say: MacHeath's on hand.
--Bertolt Brecht, translated by Eric Bentley

Three different women named Jenny are in "The Threepenny Opera." The first is in the song about Mackie the Knife that starts the show.

Jenny Towler was discovered
With a jackknife in her breast.
And Macheath strolls down the dockside
Knows no more than all the rest.

The second is a character in the play, a woman who works as a prostitute for Macheath, Ginny Jenny.

The third is Pirate Jenny who is sung about by Polly, Macheath's main squeeze. Before she sings it she says she learned what is in it from a woman working in a waterfront bar. Polly has the men around her play parts of Pirate Jenny's customers, who ask her "When is your ship coming home, Jenny?" and "Do you still wash up the glasses, Pirate Jenny?"

She starts to sing, the actress playing Polly as Polly as Pirate Jenny, and sings that, yes, she still washes up the glasses and still gives a curtsey for a tiny tip. So, she sings, people might wonder why she is smiling.

"And a ship with eight sails and fifty great cannon sails into the quay."

As the song goes on the ship opens fire with its cannons and destroys all the buildings in the town except the one where Jenny works. The pirates round up all men in town and ask Jenny which to kill. She says, "All of them."

Later in the play the only one of the three Jenny's who is a characater in the play, the prostitute Ginny Jenny, betrays her employer, Macheath, to the police. The song about bar maid Pirate Jenny has set it up. Why does Ginny Jenny sell out Macheath?

The fifty great cannon and armed men of a poor woman's dreams haven't showed up yet, so Ginny Jenny does what she can, fingers Macheath.

One old man and seven children
Burnt to cinders in Soho.
In the crowd is Captain Mackie who
Is not asked and does not know.
--Bertolt Brecht, translated by Eric Bentley, from the translation in English of "The Threepenny Opera" with the book (dialogue) translated by Desmond Vesey and the lyrics by Eric Bentley.

Bertolt Brecht (German) was about nine years younger than Adolph Hitler (Austrian), so he would have gotten to see what Hitler was up to. And to hear it in the original language, the language they shared. One thing Hitler was up to was sweeping people away. Using his voice, using lighting technology and public amplification technology with great skill, Hitler wanted people to feel they were one and part of one thing, and that one thing was Hitler's dream.

Bertolt Brecht wrote poetry, some, but mostly worked in the theatre and he really, really, really didn't want to use his skills to sweep people away.

In his notes for performing "The Threepenny Opera," he says that the performer must not slide into a song like the character is still speaking and doesn't really know he's performing. The performaer must make it clear that the performance of a song in this musical is a performance.

Brecht is all over making it clear that a performance is a performance. He wants people to remember and know at all times that they are in a theatre, watching other people perform. I haven't read anything he's written about reacting against Hitler's world poisoning communication skills, but I think that had to be part of what he was thinking about.

Give the people watching back to themselves at all times. Don't sweep them away and out of thinking with your skills.

That's hard to do. It is also hard to want. It's fun if one has communication skills to cast a trance over the watchers. When it works, it's a high for sender and receiver. But is it a good high?

Can it be a good high?

Brecht was always working against, in a way, the work he was doing. It's only a theatre. These are only actors.

But regardless of theory, skill brings a trance anyway. Brecht demands that we at least try to wake people back up.


I first heard Pirate Jenny's song on a Judy Collins' album, with no context except how good it was. It blew me away and pretty much blew up everything else on the album, excellent though much of it was. Let's get right down to the rage of the people day after day being part of the process of stomping on themselves--the rage they often forget themselves. When it comes out, it's huge. Kill "all of them," which in a way includes the singer as she is part of the process of keeping herself down.

She's waiting for the big change, when the sympathetic pirate ship comes into the harbor of the city where she works at a bar and everyone sneers at her.

Brecht, I learn, was good at sneering at people he worked with, people who helped him, including Elisabeth Hauptmann.

Elisabeth Hauptmann had a lot to do with writing "The Threepenny Opera" and wasn't credited, and could have been. I mean, she went along with herself not being credited. Like abused women do, she went along with it.

Brecht was charming and talented and had a very, very difficult time finishing anything longer than a twenty line poem.

Until Elisabeth Hauptmann became part of his scene. Then he could finish longer things. Then he could work with material written English, or somebody could. "The Threepenny Opera" was based on the English "The Beggar's Opera."

Brecht would write scraps, often brilliant, and go out for the day. Hauptmann would string the scrap together into one thing, Hauptmann would more and more, write most of the one thing.

She wrote a lot of the words of "The Threepenny Opera," probably including Jenny's angry song. Someday, there will be justice and we will kill "all of them."

I wrote the first part of this in June. In February, I wrote this second part from reading the mid-1990's book "Brecht and Co. and the Making of Modern Drama" by John Fuesi.

There are many trances to be wakened from.

"The Threepenny Opera" was an instant huge hit, some of the songs worldwide hits. All of a sudden people working and scraping in alternative art land in Germany in the twenties were famous, except for Elisabeth Hauptmann. Who felt that was okay. Who felt would marry her real soon now and everything would be wonderful and she was helping with the great project.

Yeah, well, she wasn't picking up enough on that one reason the great project was great was her particular work. Not just putting bits together in finished form, which Brecht's writing as he produced it desperately needed, but creating new and wonderful words, pictures, combinations, indispensable parts of a great play.

She also didn't get that Brecht was one of those guys who went through lots of women and often said he'd marry them and didn't.

Pirate Jenny was in dire straits, not a pirate but a very poor woman, and no ship was going to come into the harbor to ask her who we should kill, to make her part of that kind of we.

Elisabeth Hauptmann was not in that kind of situation, but she was in that abused person crazy place and stayed and stayed and gave her work away under his name. There was nothing sneaky going on. That was okay with both of them.

Really many trances to break. Must be sure to shake out of my own when it's even slightly possible, when suddenly I know I'm part of some vast inaccuracy. The ship is my will, my ability to know the way out is,like the Buddha said, through the door. No death necessary except of illusion and strangely self-serving laziness.

There's a woman in the news now who looks pretty abused. There's an old buddy I see rarely who always talk about her marriage and to me vibes abused, with her saying no words about it. I can't do stuff about them, I don't think. I haven't been hit.

But that level of being inside a delusion and being unable to leave the delusion--that's available to all of us in many ways. Gotta watch out for that, and do better than that when I can.