Saturday, December 19, 2009

Zurbaran for mid-afternoons....

Why didn't I know about this painter earlier? A friend, a dear, dear friend, is studying in London back and brought me a postcard with one of his images on it. Francisco de Zurbaran proves yet again that the Spanish knew what they were doing during this time period in Western art.

Maybe it's too cliche that someone brought up as Roman Catholic as I loves this kind of intense iconography. In some ways though, you might think I would shy away from it, actually, due to strange memories or trauma from going to mass...

Perhaps it's the fact that most of the saints he painted are ones I can get behind. Francis, who spoke with birds and fish and generally ran around the countryside, seemed like one cool dude. Saint Serapion, the fellow with his arms in chains, is a wee more confusing in terms of likability points. On the one hand, he looks really intense and awesome in this painting. On the other one, it seems like he was likely wrapped up in the Crusades, a very, very hard thing to want to go back in time and give the man a hi-5 for.....

At any and all rates, the beauty of Zurbaran's compositions and emotional energy make his subjects highly appealing to at least look at due to his skilled brush. I gotta thank him for that. Pretty gorgeous stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New species

Seen in an apartment window, yesterday. Next to a snowman and a bear. What is this animal??????

Dog Palace!

This one is dedicated to Alphie Primeau.

Someone needs to tell them

I went on an extremely long and odd walk today, and was greeted (in part) by not-as-long but definitely-odd reminders of the strange cultural space that is my city. One such reminder came in the form of a real estate sign that brought rushing back to my mind an old pet peeve about promotion and advertising.

Admittedly, I AM one of those humans who is generally pretty offended by advertising, even the very creative stuff that spills out from that industry on a regular basis. At best, it has always seemed a tragic waste that minds able to spin such highly unusual angles on the way at which the world can be seen are doing so to sell a product. At worst, advertising is object porn that has absolutely nothing interesting about it at all.

Promotion of oneself can fall into the pits of despair advertising is born in, and stay there, or it can be an effective tool if done with the integrity and the honesty that seem to be almost embarrassing to talk about currently. However, just remember that if you're promoting yourself, for better or for worse, please please please don't use a crazy picture to do so.

This image came from a real estate agent's sign, which I chose to crop in order to keep the person's anonymity secure, even though I can assure you that's the last thing the sign was initially intended for. Why the crazy face? It's kind of amazing, as it reminds me of those insane cheerleader smiles that we're taught entices folks (this time around potential homeowners) into our clutches.

It reminds me of another crazy advertising trend, that of labelling products with key words that don't actually make any sense in relation to what they're talking about. Fresh. Hip. Electric. If you see them on the metro, you won't bat an eye, but if you THINK about them, they actually sound completely insane.

Which, I gotta admit, is what our friend here looks like. Taken out of the context of her real estate sign, would you look at her and think, "this person can competently sell me a house?"

Time to stop with the crazy smile, peeps. Time to get a few friends to be brutally honest about your photos. Time to maybe admit that the botox is doing less for your overall image than you thought.

Or not. I mean, it is highly entertaining to see signs like this everywhere. What would I do if suddenly everyone on real estate billboards started looking genuine and relaxed? That might be far more de-stabilizing than not. So forget it, actually. Carry on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The ghost in the bottle.

My friend Mike who's in an amazing band, (or who IS an amazing band, Snailhouse) will be playing this week coming up (Wednesday the 16th of December) at the Casa del Popolo with another amazing singer, (gorgeous, other-worldy voice) Old Believer. They asked me to give them some image or another for their poster, and here's the results (after Mike tinkered with the design)....

It feels good, the image, the page, the music. Space, room to breathe, sun-on-face. All these things that winter can bring.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

another great thing about vinyl...

Not to go on and on and on about the merits of this medium (gosh, I've never done, nor will do such a thing! shocking!) but when playing vinyl you get to SEE how long a song is.

Listening to some Gould-bach right now and each side is a tiny cluster of songs, rather like the counterpunctal chaos of Bach's music itself. If this was cd or mp3 or youandme, I wouldn't be remotely aware of the geographies of time in this way. How certain records smatter, cacophony of birds-hovering-above and others slink into docks, freight ships hauling a large and steady load.

Oh sensual record how you pull me in with a myriad of traits equal parts unique and baffling.

And remember...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The haunting, through odours

There is a woman who used to live in my apartment who is haunting it through smells. I never really thought this possible before, (but then again, I also have never heard of cargo cults until tonight) but for the last few weeks, I have been absorbed by scents inexplicable save their potential connections to the people who lived here before.

In some ways, this form of haunting makes the most sense, as it is through smell that the memory of people resides most strongly. Once as a young-ish version of myself I opened my mother's closet after a long absence from the family nook and was hit with the nostalgic aroma of all things her. To this day whenever I open strawberry shampoo bottles it makes me think of jazz camp, as I brought that specific product with me there 2 summers in a row on purpose, to reinforce the memory of the place and the people that surrounded it.

If the olfactory system is one of the strongest ways in which the brain associates with the past, it is only logical that some haunts would be of the scented kind. Why pickles, I am not sure. And this is not something only I have noticed. Some have commented on it without me so much as whispering suggestions, whereas others have been prompted to mention perhaps there's a smoky smell to the place to boot.

I like pickles. Of the dill sort, anyhow, which is what permeates these walls currently. So perhaps this is a reassuring situation, one to obtain a certain amount of solace in. It reaffirms the fact that I do have an apartment, as I recognize the tactile-ness of its scent immediately, the dill proclaiming a sort of homecoming amidst a certain amount of turbulence-as-of-late.

To see even uncomfortable scenarios as ones with the potential to bring comfort. As long as this doesn't become the excuse to stay somewhere for too long, or sit in one position until you get a numb ass. Circulation is crucial in all situations, and good circulation at that.

Still, I am choosing for now to see this as a positive rather than negative. Here she was, and then gone, somehow, but the traces left behind are ones I can get behind in a way. Her cigarette unfurling off a sharp tongue full of witty small talk, while the pickles she offered on chipped plates left a tang in the air as pointed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oh! The glory of a witty tongue

Seems to be the only cheer-me-up at times.

A member of Parliament to Disraeli:
"Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." -George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one." -Winston Churchill, in response.

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." -Groucho Marx

White as the snow (before the city gets to it)

Not much in the mood lately...

So it seems I haven't been particularly in the mood to spin any tales or work bits of story from under floorboard and over cupboard lately. Having the swine flu is of no help, nor is the gray weather and having to deal with so, so much change in such a short window of space and time.

But there are still church bells, all around me it seems, and my favourite water tower in the distance, and mist. And these eyes of Rembrant's that I somehow want to feel sadder, at least right now. His gaze looks at me inquisitively, intelligently and with just a faint hint of melancholy. But not enough.

For in his sadness I could forgo some of mine. But such is the way of things at times. To bring an even richer experience of joy, to let go of the need for the room to not smell like pickles, and for my heart to feel less bruised.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009


John Coltrane was so gifted and truly struggled through life to come to a deep understanding with God before his death. An incredible inspiration to me both spiritually and artistically.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ok, just saying it's WEIRD when you have 14 numbers in your email address. If you can't get an email with your name cause someone else has already gotten on that train, may I suggest that you legally change your name to something a) more interesting and b) with a higher chance of getting an email address all your own?

If you won't commit to doing that, perhaps you could still put a hyphen, or dash or something, anything but an insanely long set of digits. If you still after this warning do so, trust me, you are officially creepy.

At least you know now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

When confusion strikes...

It was a funny day yesterday, much waiting, reminding me of Teching Hsieh's performance works that are directly in relation to waiting and duration. More on him later, surely.

Although I am fully aware that life throws you curveballs all the time and that things almost never work out how you want them to, or smoothly, (and thank God for that!) it is still somehow surprising to have moments or entire days that seem to be comprised of mishaps, bumbles and directionless paths.

Even amidst so much activity and buzz. Yesterday reminded me of when I used to stand on large transfer-point metro platforms and just watch people rush past me in all directions. A certain motionless appears or transforms from within even in mid-flight when the destination becomes impossible to get to, or otherwise.

And this is where things become confusing. If I have so much to do in one place, why wander to another, especially when I doubt in its ability to fully procur its positioning to me upon arrival, if I ever make it? Why not just-stay-put-in-that-case.

I do think there IS something to days where nothing happens and you accept it, and days where the chase is somehow still on. A sense of futility is an important challenge to engage with, and treat with a certain type of adventurous curiosity despite the frustration. When stuck in a labyrinth without much chance of escape, may as well enjoy the foliage and look for bugs and edible flowers while you're in there, as the old saying goes...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

He's just beautiful.

Look at that smile. Amazing.

Mbonisi Zikhali

The poem below is written by a pretty amazing human being and extremely talented writer Mbonisi Zikhali, who I recently had the pleasure to meet and get to know over this Thanksgiving weekend. Hailing from Zimbabwe, he's been in Canada for the last several months.

He's currently a journalism student at the University of Carleton in Ottawa, and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression have started a campaign, with the help of Emily Wilson, a fund for Mbonisi's monetary needs over the next several years while he's studying.

To see more about his life and the ways in which you can help contribute to his studies click on this link.

He's also left-handed, which makes him superior. Sorry to say this to all you right-handed folks, but it's true.

Flying Backwards

I disregarded my wings
until that day I flew backwards
The wind caressed me,
and whispered secrets of flight
unknown to eagles.
I blushed from the ariel view,
wishing I understood God
from the ground up,
but seeing his/her face
from the sky down.

I fought the wind
feeling its sting with every breast stroke
I stung back with unspoken words,
and, silence was my weapon of choice,
No. My weapon of noise.
So loud it punctured my eardrum
and I sought rest upon a tree's branch,
and its leaves welcomed me.
Saying softly,
"This is us before the snow."

Mbonisi Zikhali

On those days.

Where everything is about as appealing as lightly coating yourself in the dog poo you just stepped in.

Kind-of hilarious, when none of the buses come on time and the seats are uncomfortable and everyone is wearing ugly sweaters or drawing stupid pictures. The sound of the fan in this café or the other one is sending little jabs of frustration all through the body. Everything is visceral and raw and extremely unnerving.

Why indeed are some days like this? Perhaps to promote the richness of contentment received through experiencs a little less jarring, moments and seconds that pass far more easily through the system and its functioning.

And probably a good thing, too, to feel severely annoyed about life and all the little beasts that inhabit this world, to be reminded of just how human and imperfect things are.

Now go f-off. Alright.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To be thankful for

Putting things to rest

The garden must get arranged, laid out, pulled and moved in certain directions, and put finally to sleep for a long slumber of the next 6 months.

It's going to be interesting and likely somewhat difficult to say goodbye (for now) to the plants and their companions I have grown to love over the last season. Well, grown to love is a stretch, they grew and I loved, a kind of kinship seldom seen in the realm of the human. We fare better with that type of arrangement when there is plant or some such on the receiving end.

At any and all rates, it's been beyond lovely and I have learned so much from the green ( and yellow and red and purple) suckers and I can't wait to have another go. In the meanwhile, sleep! and garlic.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


In the process of slowly getting rid-of. Not an easy thing to do, although I do believe it is helpful in innumerable ways, having less and letting go of things.

To deny the self the pleasure of sensual engagement with the bits of the world would be overly strict I think, at least for me. But there is a balance somewhere that I sense needs fine tuning and some listening to.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Of the performances of a lifetime...

This week, a good friend and truly brilliant individual sent me an email that completely blew me away, days before the news contained within made an impact with my physical environment. As one of my only classical music loving friends, she's always on the lookout for things with strings and my implication in that world, and vice versa.

So imagine my astonishment when she dropped word that she had received two gratis tickets for the Leon Fleisher concert that happened last night as part of the new eXcentris music programming, a show that was like, $100 a pop otherwise.

A bit of background on Fleisher: He is one of the world's most renowned pianists, and has an incredible presence both musically and physically. He also had a neurological accident that has left his right hand unable to play for the last 30 years (I think). Very recently, new treatments allowed the use of both hands to come back to him. Until then, he had been playing left-handed repertoire only. Pretty crazy stuff.

The program itself was what initially got me excited, however. German romantics everywhere! (Who would have thought?) Schumann & Brahams & Bach. While Bach isn't a romantic himself, (well, at least not in terms of what we call his music) the piece Fleisher played was Bach's Chaccone de Partita No. 2 in D minor, arranged by Brahams for the left hand.

The story goes (and charmingly so, from Fleisher's direct account) that Clara Schumann, Robert Schummann's wife and ridiculously famous pianist in her own right, who happened to be Brahams' long-time love (who was a good friend of their family) had something happen to her right hand for awhile which made it unable for her to play with it, so as a gift, Brahams arranged this favoured piece of music for her left hand only.

Yeah. Now THAT'S pretty friggin' romantic. Imagine you are a gifted musician and are all bored in the house wondering what to do while the one hand heals up, when your life-long companion and family friend shows up with your favourite music arranged so you can actually play.....And this ain't just any music, it's BACH. Not an easy feat, and a truly creative and beautiful gift, gesture.

To her, at the time, and for all of us, now. Fleisher played extraordinarily, and I swear when you closed your eyes it sounded like two hands had to be playing, the interplay of notes being so richly intricate and woven together. It was unbelievable. And so poignant, I thought, on the part of Fleisher. What must he have gone through those 30 years? To not be able to fully play the instrument that you love must have been such a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, or I can imagine it would have been so. To have the faith and the courage to keep going and then to still embrace the left-hand only pieces after the recovery of the right hand movement is such as sign of his wisdom and his ability to develop within his particular set of circumstances. It was deeply, deeply moving.

Equally as moving, from a completely different vantage point, was the final piece of the evening, a Quintet by Brahams (op. 34) in F minor. Fleisher was joined by Michael Tree on Viola, Andy Simionescu & Pamela Frank on violin, and Matt Haimovitz on Cello.

The composition itself is staggering, a fiery source of heat, dragon coming back from a long journey looking behind itself to flare a few last puffs into the night air. Its intensity and richness added a certain kind of mellow complicity to the notes, and the combination between fire and snuff was truly marvelous to be present with. And the musicians played the shit out of it and had a joyous time doing so.

What miracles can happen within music. And in turn, within the self.

And the dudes playing are just these regular humans that have had these lives of heartache and difficulty and excitement and and and. Fleisher himself is testament to that, in terms of his struggles and situations. And to play anyway, or because of. The real connection comes from the human heart that carries the music deep inside, alongside all the other factors that make up who we are - our loneliness, our daily challenges, our desires, our letting-goes....

Truly unforgettable as you take it all with you, or at least the traces of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've been thinking often lately of breathing...

...and I think there's some pretty essential stuff going down with the whole respiring (is that the right word? can I just make it so anyhow?) process, more on my thoughts on it later. But for now, check out Rainer Maria Rilke's take on the matter, or one of his takes, potentially: (translated, incidentally, by Karl H. Siegler which definitely makes some type of difference in the matter)


Breath, you invisible poem!
Recurrent about what is its own
being pure exchange of spaces. Counterweight,
in which rhythm I appear as the event of myself.

Singular wave, whose
gradual sea I am;
most frugal of all possible seas, -
attainment of space.

How many of these snares of the spaces are a place
surrendered from where it was within me. At times the winds
are like my son.

Do you know me again, air, full still of what were once my sites?
You, at once smooth rind,
curve and leaf of my words.

(from Sonnets to Orpheus)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ginger is the new black

Tonight I was cooking with, amongst other things, one of my favourite objects/plants/tastes in the world, (that I know so far) namely ginger, which somehow got me thinking about where it actually comes from and what it looks like.

Turns out ginger is the root of the plant (or, most acurately, its rhizome) which likely everyone knows but me. I also believed (until a few years ago) that the moon glowed from within, and was shocked to find out its light comes from the reflection of the sun, so you'll have to bear with me.

The plant itself is beautiful, and there are like a billion natural remedies you can party with when spending quality time with ginger, which include its being useful for fighting seasickness, various cancers, diarrhea, colds and a whackload of other annoying and just plain nasty conditions.

Basically, I knew ginger rocked, but it actually rocks way harder than I ever could have imagined. It's like Led Zeppelin in the early years or something. Thank god for ginger!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Viva Viva!

So last night I THINK I maybe saw the best piece of art I will potentially see all year. Or at least, the best performance. But maybe art. But maybe performance….oh dear me. You see, the person responsible for the piece actually blew up my mind, so thinking has been a wee difficult since.

Picture it - Viva! Art Action’s second installation (installation being second time the festival’s been crafted together) and we’re all at Bain Saint Michel (5300 St Dominique) where the majority of the festival is going on. People are waiting for the first performance, from Belgium’s Gwendoline Robin, and I am thinking again about how much I dislike performance art in general.

Which is funny, because almost all of the papers I have ever written have been about performance, just by chance, and I find myself here at a performance festival, just by chance, and maybe I was on one of the selection committees, just by chance. But performance art is soooo annoying, and boring, and self-indulgent.

It also really isn’t. It also has this uber-potential, of the sort that Katamari has when it has gathered many objects, to reconfigure my sense of self or at least self-in-relation (which is likely what self is to a large degree) and make me stop breathing and change the ways in which or add to those that I spend time thinking of this and and and.

That said, a medium with such gobs of powerful responsibility and consideration is often one that suffers from too many people engaging with it, and engaging with it in shallow or less-than-thoughtful ways. I gotta say it, I think it’s true. And I think that, as an audience member, my role is one of active participant in a way that truly goes beyond what that mundane majority do when encountering art, which more-than-often includes myself. This requires a certain attentiveness that is at the best of times pretty draining and hard to find within oneself. Especially in my look-there-no-here-bam-bam-change-the-flickr-time-to-go-elsewhere culture.

But the stuff of the likes that Robin creates, executes, exhudes, helps surpass all of my issues of presence and of pretention or thinking-while-I-watch. She cuts through that dissonance like a knife, like the shards she broke off her rod of glass that she started her piece with. And let me say here and now that while I will describe her actions, that’s nothing in comparison to her actions themselves. Not one bit, not a whit, barely similar, almost opposite.

Imagine trying to describe a performance by your favourite musician. They played a bunch and they didn’t play a bunch. If you only use actions, you’re really not getting to the heart of the matter. Which you can’t really do, not just in words. Or else Gwendoline (I suppose) would have just written a little essay about her work and stayed in.

Basically, long and short, she came, she lit paper on fire, in her hands, and then a helmet, BOOM, on her head, after putting on coats and taping her neck (balaclava eyes staring out) and the coil on the helmet looking like a stove, spiralling round and round who would have thought that upon impact, the fuse wouldn’t just slowy weave its way to the centre of her skull no it didn’t there was nothing slow about it, she offered us no time to watch or ponder or panic she just

blew off her head.

And in doing so, she blew everyone’s head off as well. Trust me on this. I can attest, I have a mirror, what more can I say.

Gwendoline Robin knows about phrasing, and pace. The rhythm in her performance was of the kind that allows for momentum, breath, and a dissolving of outside concerns. One thing that makes much durational work seem overly this-or-that I think might be a lack of attention to phrasing. In this way, the body in performance, like the body in so much (music, physical comedy, dance) responds to space as much as it responds to mass.

There were 2 other performances that night, and you can read about some of it on the Viva! Blog, but to be honest, I needed to go home straight away after she had blown our collective minds. I would explain, but I doubt I need to. What else could you do? So much power, adrenaline and intention would have been enough in and of itself, but then I had to tend to my physical meltdown as well. Anything else would have been rash and impudent.

Of special note, Viva! has a 6:30 pm supper call every day during the fest, and last night it was beef stew (vegetarian options) and it looked seriously really good. Only $5, and a great way to hang out with folks/support the festival. Go go go! I will eat the stuff off your plate you don’t want.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hail the spirit, that may unite us;
for verily in images we live.
And with small steps the clocks do pace
beside our actual day.

Without knowing our true place,
we proceed from working alignments.
The antennae feel the antennae,
and the empty distance spanned...

Pure tension. Oh music of the powers!
Do not our venial transactions
turn all interference from you?

Though the farmer toil and trouble,
there where the seed turns into summer,
he will never reach. The earth bestows.

Rainer Maria Rilke, from Sonnets to Orpheus

Of the architectural micro and macrocosmos, for to sleep on.

I am about to be fascinated (I can sense it) by this man's life work, one Christopher Alexander, who co-wrote the groundbreaking book(s) A Pattern Language which argues, in a non-argumentative way, that users know enough about buildings that they should be given a text from which to create and adapt structures from. An architectural bible, torah, koran, what-have-you.

Far too tired to write more about it, I would rather be in bed having dreams of the nameless qualities of fireplaces and living spaces, but I am sure to rattle on his chain in the days to come. A most marvelous enchantment to have been introduced to courtesy of one ever-knowledgeable and affable dear, dear friend of mine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Faster comes the fall.

So perhaps it is due to having my own garden for the first time (photos of its splendor to come as soon as I can find my battery charger) or the rains that torrentially scared away potential beiges and yellows this summer, but I feel as if I have never seen such unfurling of green as I did this year.

Which is one of the reasons why the typical excitement I get from fall tumblings and autumnal rumbles has been replaced by heart-string pangs of wondering-where-this-death-came-from and how-can-the-trees-be-turning-colour-already. It was such a mild and lush summer this year that I find myself upset by the onslaught of hibernating, instead of growing, things and beasties.

At the same time, everything to its season, and all things must have a chance to rest. As well, if there was constant growth and constant green, maybe its magic would be less potent. I guess the surprise I have over my melancholic perspective on my traditionally favourite season's arrival will have to be mulched through like the last of the compost, to turn it into a finer understanding of the beauty behind everything in moderation.

It was still a pretty amazing and awe-inspiring season of growing bits though. Just saying...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Being and Doing

1. We are warmed by fire, not by the smoke of the fire. We are carried over the sea by a ship, not by the wake of a ship. So too, what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in our outward reflection in our own acts. We must find our real selves not in the froth stirred up by the impact of our being upon the beings around us, but in our own soul which is the principle of all our acts.

But my soul is hidden and invisible. I cannot see it directly, for it is hidden even from myself. Nor can I see my own eyes. They are too close to me for me to see them. They are not meant to see themselves. I know I have eyes when I see other things with them.

I can see my eyes in a mirror. My soul can also reflect itself in the mirror of its own activity. But what is seen in the mirror is only the reflection of who I am, not my true being. The mirror of words and actions only partly manifests my being.

The words and acts that proceed from myself and are accomplished outside myself are dead things compared with the hidden life from which they spring. These acts are transient and superficial. They are quickly gone, even though their effects may persist for a little while. But the soul itself remains. Much depends on how the soul sees itself in the mirror of its own activity.

Thomas Merton, from the essay Being and Doing

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When the going gets rough, eat.

While at a friend's home tonight I was blessed by the chance to see a rare and beautiful sight, which is always a treat. His roommate, a lovely and (I suspect) ridiculously wise human being admitted to me upon my arrival that he was in a bad mood, and had turned to cooking in order to calm down somewhat. I admired the notion and related that this kind of activity always seems to help me out too, and then left him in peace as I felt perhaps he needed some space.

When I walked through the kitchen sometime later, I saw a veritable feast laid out on the table, lovingly and carefully, with only said cook at the head, no one else. With a little steak all for himself and a huge array of dishes beautifully presented. I had no camera so had to take a picture in my mind, one of self-care and gorgeous affirmation of sensual time away from the rattles and hums.

It's so precious to be able to even have a sense of what makes you feel better when low, and another gift wrapped by an entirely-different-sort-of-creature to be able to have the chutzpah to go ahead and do things that bring you joy in those moments. And how amazing is it that so many people I know, including (often) myself, have the resources to do so and deny ourselves small but important, healing moments.

Hats off to this friend, and his swirling leaves of cale and plate of beet. To leave stains on the hands as a reminder the next day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Days where it truly IS better to just stay in bed (or, alternatively, go to sea)

You know the kind, where each and every single person, stranger and lover and in-between(er) completely confounds, confuses and annoys at turns. And there is absolutely no way that you won't do the same, smacking the emotional weak parts of every living thing under the sun with the slightest glance in their direction.

Not that this kind of day isn't important in its own right, a good, humble reminder of the feeling of frustration on the hands (and the weight of it against the heart). Indeed, sometimes I find these days downright comical in their never-ending spew of ridiculous miscommunications and live wire activitives.

Today in particular I felt at least a kindred tug-of-spirit from across a century and an oceanous mass of water, if not moreso, in the words of Ishmael from the opening chapter of Melville's Moby Dick. Seems like he can very much relate to the kind of day I had:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.

I suppose I need to take this alignment of sentiment literally and run away to the sea, even if I get rather cross at being too far away from my nut-bread and kitchen chair. Perhaps the Tookish part of me will win out and I shall lash out with the waves instead of at the waitresses.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On why things just aren't the same as they used to be....

Apparently, the early 70s and I are having a wee love affair at the moment, as the vinyls that I got my grubby little hands on yesterday will attest to. The first, a remastered edition of Neil Young's monumental 1971 concert at Massey Hall. The second, a 1972 recording, again remastered, of the unparalleled Nick Drake's Pink Moon album.

Listening to this stuff is like listening to pure magic, or walking through places long ago abandoned that have rooms and decay and wafts of things-that-were and and and.

Neil Young has always sounded like coming home to me, even if I didn't start listening to him until later on in life. And Nick Drake is somehow the same, but a different home, one that instead of actively living in, you visit after being away for a long time. Young is the homestead, Drake is the hearth-of-times-gone-by. Hard to describe, really.

All this to say I had no idea these albums were put out so close in time to one another, as the two have some similarities but ultimately seem to live in totally different realms. But how blessed I am that I can go traipsing through both, and settle down and watch the clouds, making patterns with each that are parts sentimental and fleeting, equally.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

hands that smell of green tomato.

For the Love of Rest.

Reading the 1951 publication, the Sabbath from the beautiful brain of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel right now, and loving every word, letting them linger, as the ideas he sheds light on ought to.

It's a simple story told in a simple way, but it reminds me of the stuff of heart and guts and the ways in which I avoid said organs and truths on a fairly constant basis, to be honest. It discusses the importance of a day of rest, to take time to be. Regardless of your spiritual/religious background or inclination, or lack thereof, I feel like the need for rest and for consideration is something we often universally choose not to engage with, while crying out for it all the more in places deep within ourselves.

I am sure I will be posting more about it, but here's a bit for now:

They who want to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. They must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling their own life. They must say farwell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of humans. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Le soleil se lève le soleil s'en va

Jean-Paul Lemieux is one of my all-time favourite painters, and one of my all-time favourite paintings by him is the 1972, June Wedding. I first saw an image of this work at a dear friend's home right here in this city.
It's most garishly reproduced here (the image on the stamp) but it's just a wee taste of the original which hangs not in a museum, but in the hallway of the CBC Radio Offices on Réne-Lévesque Blvd East, here in Montréal. Just in case anyone wants to go have a look-see.

His simple yet undeniably potent and somehow melancholic ability to express winter landscape and the humans found therein has always touched me.