Getting on a plane this morning for the first time in almost a year & a half. A little nervous. Headed to Minnesota to see family (especially my 97-year-old mom & my new great-nephew, Levi) & then on down to Sioux Falls for my high school reunion. I plan to keep up my blog while I'm away but if anything is amiss with my iPad, which has been a bit recalcitrant of late, you may not get hot-off-the-press excitement updates till next week. Oh boy!
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison
A sound mind in a sound body, right?
I love coming upon a new sign commemorating the East Village's interesting history. I had never heard of Otto Mauer or his Magical Bazaar, at 2nd St & the Bowery (just a couple of blocks from me). According to the text, he made and sold magic and juggling apparatus, performed and taught magic here. Houdini worked across the street at the Globe Dime Museum and may have learned the back palm card trick from Mauer.
How great to take a black belt class with Kaicho, our grandmaster. Only vaxxed people so we were able to go unmasked & even do a little partner work. Gradually the dojo is coming back to life. After that class, I went to the Chelsea group workout & got tons of useful tips for real-life fighting from Jun Shihan Craig. He's the black belt who I look at when I wonder what I should look like. His posture, technique & understanding of martial arts are unparalleled. And now I'm beat.
Still frigging hot & this site of the hottest heads of state is right on point. If you ever needed to see a picture of a dreamy young Theodore Roosevelot or proof that Millard Fillmore & Alec Baldwin are twins, this is for you. They also sell candles.
100° here & 70° in Alabama, heatwaves in the rainy Pacific Northwest. It's crazy. I guess I can understand not believing that the climate is disintegrating. I would like to be sitting in this serene cool place, instead of heading back out to do errands. How's the weather where YOU are?
I am impressed and encouraged that the Pulitzer journalist (for The 1619 Project) Nikole Hannah-Jones has chosen to go to historically black Howard and decided against teaching at UNC following a bitter fight over the tenure that others have received with the same post in the graduate journalism department. "I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans," she said in the Washington Post.
A candidate for a chemistry faculty position at UNC withdrew from consideration in solidarity with Hannah-Jones.
Part of what will make people change is suffering consequences for their racism. Just as suffering consequences (loss of job, loss of access) might make some people decide to get vaccinated.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
~ Thomas Paine
On this Independence Day weekend, it's good to be reminded that with rights and privileges comes the responsibility to help make the world fairer and better for all, through sacrifice, money, participation—through whatever one can do. All of us have that obligation.
I had the idea to open up my blog to some guests (& not the scammers who are always offering to write a free piece for my blog — why?). To start off, the wonderful big-hearted Diana Rickard, but then I thought of Anselm's poem & that this was the day Ted died (& the day Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter for the Yanks against the Red Sox, which I told Ted in a dream a couple weeks after he died). So there's 2 posts today. I love Diana's work:
I give freely of my colors and their light
desire only a passionate voice, confident leather
Gradual accumulation of crumbs at my feet
and a solemn liquidy password failure
Grey frog in a granny cap
breaks the rays with leafy shadows
So easy to take pleasure in the dry sun
just hide near the prickly flower
drift from the potted greens
An ulterior woman wearing tardy boots
raises a conscious brow
Two bees hover with intent
and my nerves are incredibly selfish
This shiny coat holds a steady gaze
Little birds move in jerky bursts
The benches rock with possibility
Another noon is over
another stroll begins
It's all happening in Brooklyn, right now
The air is everywhere
and I am ready with my three wishes
For a while I paid people to write my poems for me. Since the going rate was $1, I mostly didn't get very good work. Except for this brilliant poem by Anselm Berrigan. He wrote it but it's my poem & totally worth the buck. Today, the 38th anniversary of the death of his father, the poet Ted Berrigan, is the day to share this, since it's modeled after Ted's "Poets of the Future."
Girlfriends of the Future
Girlfriends of the future —
You didn't marry Johnny Stanton —
I mean, I know this is me, but it's so much not what I look like but what I think I look like & guess used to look like. I am having stomping confusion! I think Johnny took it when we were in the Black Hills 20-odd years ago. I found this in a drawer where it has probably been since it was taken. Who am I? Who was I? Which me is me? I feel like I am living in several streams of time all at the same time.
I'm desultorily reading a book (Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and how art imagines our world, by Philip Hoare) about the 16th-century German artist. You can get lost in these eyes. But I don't think I've managed to get lost in the book. Anyone else read it? Should I persist?
Here's a few things I learned from the John Giorno Foundation:
* Dial-a-Poem is back, with 286 recordings by 130 poets! Call 917-994-8949.
* Dial-a-Poem was the first Dial-a effort, begun in 1968 at the Architectural League of NY. It was so popular that the telephone company threatened to shut it down.
* "With Dial-A-Poem, I stumbled on the phenomena of the telephone as a new media, connecting three things: publicity, a telephone number, and content accessed by a huge audience. Before Dial-A-Poem, the telephone was used one-to-one. Dial-A-Poem's success gave rise to a Dial-A-Something industry, from Dial-A-Joke, Dial-A-Horoscope, Dial-A-Stock Quotation, Dial Sports, to the 900 number paying for a call, to phone sex, and ever more extraordinary technology. Dial-A-Poem, by chance, ushered in a new era in telecommunications." ~ John Giorno, 2012
* And on my own, I learned that trying to make ° into a bullet adds a stupid transparent box to my screen that I can't get rid of & a few other unwanted computer glitches. There was a lot of heat-addled attempts to undo it but they didn't work.
Oh yeah & humid. My brain is boiling & my scalp is spongy. Can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing. I put two teabags in one cup & none in the other. Awful. Can I go home? Nope, have to wait for Johnny to come by & read the Iliad. All those spears going through throats & groins is making my blood boil. Can I stay awake if I study a little about the passive in Norwegian? I bet I can!
In our modern world, the fate of this handful of men may not seem important. Yet what is at stake is crucial: is not each of these Eskimos the custodian of human capital, of a fund of experience, knowledge, and traditions handed down through generations? Every time a so-called minority culture is eradicated, mankind's patrinony is undeniably impoverished, for like the greater civilizations, the more limited cultures also participate in the history of man and contribute to a fuller knowledge of his destiny.
~ Jean Malaurie, The Last Kings of Thule
He goes on to say that "the decline of this plurimillennial hunting society has derived more from an economic system and from the civil law that sustains it than from any so-called cultural shock...." [pp 415-417]
I came for the bracing Arctic cold, I stayed for the sympathetic & indignant portrait of a people being dispossessed and ruined.
Not All Chickens Are Comrades
The chicken doesn't
as threatening &
This is only a bit of the long fence at the school around the corner that's covered with similar signs. Kids today! Full of hope & glory.
Yesterday my Norwegian class took a field trip to the Sons of Norway lodge on Lake Telemark, NJ, to celebrate St. Hans Day, or midsummer, with a (controlled) bonfire, snacks, & lots of Norwegians. I går gikk klassen min på ekskursjon til Sons of Norway Midsummer bål ved Lake Telemark, NJ. We had snacks and raspberry beer (which tasted like raspberries, not beer — I liked it) and plenty of laughs. Vi hadde mat og bringebærøl og masse latter. I like my class & am amused that this is the world I find myself in. A couple of the ladies were very persistent: BUT ARE YOU NORWEGIAN? I said South Dakota blah blah cousins blah blah honorary Norwegian blah blah. They weren't buying it. And I still don't like lefse. Oh to be, even once in my life, at home in the world. Hjemme i verden.
Finally a day — sunny, a little breeze, 66° — that springs this quote out of me: "And what is so rare as a day in June? Then — if ever — come perfect days." It's from James Russell Lowell. Now, I went to Lowell Grade School. The first schools in Sioux Falls were all named after 19th-century American authors: Whittier, Longfellow, Irving, Hawthorne, so Lowell fit right in. As it happened, our milkman (Lakeside Dairy) was Jim Lowell. It didn't surprise me in the least that my school was named after him, as he was the coolest man I knew as a 5-year-old. He drove a truck standing up & would let us ride in it, creeping along for 5 feet at the slowest possible speed. I wonder if I got my love of cars in part from that early thrill.
What fun to wear something other than a t-shirt & go farther uptown than I have in a year. So strange to get on a train & have to think about what stop, which end of the train—my usual givens unfamiliar. Loved meeting with friends at Bryant Park to see someone from the dojo playing a koto, a Japanese harp. New to me. I wished they had explained what was involved in learning & playing it so I could appreciate it better. Didn't dig the Japanese banjo. I like bluegrass but a 7-piece banjo band playing almost in unison, not so much; definitely needed a guitar, fiddle & a tragedy. That's my uneducated Western ear & bias, obviously, & I know some people were wowed.
Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
~ Pete Seeger
I've been wading in murky quotation waters, so I thought on this steamy Monday I would proffer something obvious & pithy. About which there is nothing more to be said.
Ranked choice voting. So fraught! Much more complex than voting for the one I want. i had to think about whether & how to block someone I really didn't want, & how much to support my second (& 3rd & 4th & 5th!) choices.
These candidates seem so afraid of saying anything controversial that they end up all sounding similarly bland. Except, I guess, for Andrew Yang, who said, "Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights? We do: the people and families of the city. We have the right to walk the street and not fear for our safety because a mentally ill person is going to lash out at us." One response (from an Assembly member): This is toxic ableism at its worst. I don't support Yang in the least for mayor but his solution was more psych beds, which other candidates have called for.
And then I think of former NYC mayor Ed Koch (1924-2013), who pulled no punches: Read More
"I rebuke the news in the name of Jesus. We ask that this false garbage come to an end."
~ Conservative pastor Tim Remington, Idaho. Quoted in The New York Times, 1/14/2021
I rebuke the kitchen in the name of cleanliness.
I rebuke my foot in the name of Fleuvog.
I rebuke the news in the name of the pennant-winning Yankees.
I rebuke my husband in the name of marriage.
I ask that this false dinner come to an end.
I ask that this false body come to an end.
I ask that my husband take out the garbage.
I ask that my husband pick up milk.
Not fake milk. Not goat's milk. Not almond milk.
I rebuke fake milk.
I rebuke goat's milk.
I rebuke almond milk.
This false garbage.
This false garage.
I rebuke my car.
I rebuke my bike.
I rebuke my watch.
I rebuke the news in the name of warm socks.
I rebuke the queue in the name of haste.
I rebuke the new in the name of memory.
I rebuke the dew in the name of snow.
I rebuke the snow in the name of blizzard.
I rebuke silence.
I ask that you treat me like a duchess.
I ask that you give me ice cream. And biscuits. And a hearty handshake.
I rebuke handshaking in the name of covid.
I rebuke covid in the name of slow breathing.
I revoke breathing.
I revoke walking.
I revoke drugs are whack.
I rebuke the war on drugs.
I revolt. I remember. I wish.
I ask that garbage come to an end.
I ask that rebuke come to an end.
I ask that Tim Remington come to an end.
A karate friend is also an actor, part of this company. The Upstart Creatures usually feed people lavish homemade dinners between acts. Not at the moment, although we did get a delicious dessert after the wonderful staged reading of The Illusion, by 17th-century French playwright Pierre Corneille, English version by Tony Kushner. It doesn't take a lot to put us into the magic—Kushner's words & the cast's skill & enthusiasm carried us along. And of course it's fantastic to be back seeing live theater.
This is me circa 1982 in my first public boxing match.Mud boxing — that's what's on my face. Johnny Stanton was my teacher & my second, which is how I got to know him. This was at More Party Than Arty at Charas. I fought poet Rose Lesniak, who kept saying, I'm an actor! Don't hit me in the face! After a while, I didn't know how to end things so we both fell down. (To calls of "Fix!" I have to admit.)
What am I wearing, you ask? A silver lamé & black showgirl suit with pearls. Whoohoo!
Also, happy Bloomsday.