This afternoon I decided to treat myself to a sandwich created at one of those chain faux fast food faux healthy food places. I don’t eat much these days to keep my weight down. My coordination is horrible and I find it often difficult to walk much less even think of ‘working out’ — so, I avoid full-on meals during the day and sort of nibble on stuff until dinner time. But, every week I try to get a normal size sandwich and actually eat the whole thing. Portions in our culture are so out of wack that one must order a “small” size sandwhich for it to be a close to “normal” one person portion.
Anyway, I got my treat of lunch and took it to the beach to enjoy. And, enjoy it I did. Not too much and not too little — just right. I was full without feeling miserable.
I had parked at Ocean Beach and was listening to Led Zep as I ate, but I noticed two guys near the car — one of whom seemed to be ‘jammin’ on his guitar. In a sort of passionate rapture with his guitar he didn’t seem to notice anything around him. And his friend was studying a binder of papers. Then, I noticed, his friend close the book and open his mouth as if singing.
I turned off my iPod and the car and listened.
These were two artists collaborating on a song. The man appeared to be holding a binder of his own poems and he was attempting to fit his words into the music which his friend had created. Just as they would crasp on to a concept and sound that was mutually satisfying for them they would turn a phrase or an idea that didn’t seem to match.
They would stop. They would laugh a bit and talk quietly — but only for a few minutes, then the man with the guitar would kick back into it and the poet would go back to massaging his words into the music. …Trying to fit his beauty into the form of the other.
They were on to something, but struggling in the ocean wind to find it. They were lost in these moments. I could not resist pulling out my camera and capturing their creative jam session. Part of me felt I should ask if it was alright for me to steal into their creation, but I felt that would only add to the intrusion I was already making.
I snapped about 8 pictures as I was unsure the shots were taking due to the sun. They never noticed me. I sat down and listened. And watched them work. The wind began to pick up sending the sheets in the binder into a frenzy.
The laughed, the guy returned his guitar back to its case and they began the walk away from the beach.
It was exciting to watch these two artists fuse ideas of music and word into a a song. …And, at the same time, in the spirit of their friendship to allow for the unavoidable awkwardness of the task.
I don’t think it was so much about the end result — in this case, a song. …But, more about the process of two fellow artists creating together. It was inspiring. And, quietly beautiful.
…a very nice lunch break.
it was a perfect day.
we got into b’s car and drove toward half moon bay and ended up stopping at the cliffs over looking the ocean.
the wind was strong and cold.
the sky was clear and the sound of water crashing into ancient rocks filled my ears.
and, the scent of the ocean filled me with comfort.
snapping pictures of each other and of the magic of the day.
we hid together in the car from the cold.
…and watched the ocean wave as the time swept by us both.
I can remember being in some gay dance club in Boston back in about 1993. The DJ stop’d the steady flow of thump and announced that he was about to play, in tribute, a “kick ass” track by yet another fallen sister, Arthur Russell. There were several older men there that night and nearly all of them seemed to become energized when this odd disco song came blasting through the sound system.
At the time, I didn’t really care too much for the song. I remember it sounded like disco, but the beat was somehow “off” and the powerhouse vocal of the track seemed to be somehow removed from the melody — like the beat. I remember the song would fall into a sort of chant of “Go Bang” or something. I could not figure out how to dance to it. I mean, this was not Lords of Acid! They guy I was near explained to me that this was the work of Arthur Russell. He went on to discuss the underground NYC music art scene and I think I rolled my eyes at another friend who was attempting to funk-down to the song.
Last year a documentary was released called WILD COMBINATION which was about Arthur Russell. I think it screened at The Roxie. But, I wasn’t feeling well at all and could not dredge up the energy to deal with the uncomfortable seating of the cool little cinema.
It came out on DVD a couple of months ago and I put it on our NetFlix list. It arrived a few weeks ago and I finally had the chance to watch it.
It is an amazing film filled with archival clips of Russell and the likes of Philip Glass, Allan Ginsberg and The Talking Heads. Matt Wolf’s film provides a glimpse into the life of an artist who never quite made it or fit into ‘the scene’ — but who never slid away from his ambitions and vision of what music could be.
Anyone interested in the NYC art scene of the 70’s – 80’s or music should most definitely check it out.
I rather fell into love with Arthur Russell’s music as I watched Wolf’s film. And, I was filled with a great deal of sadness as it came to a close. I didn’t want it to end. And, Russell’s artistic process captured my imagination — and frustration. It was as if his mind/soul was filled with so many far-reaching musical ideas and ideals that he could never quite fully complete a musical thought. Oddly, this seems to add to the beauty of his work.
He did jump into the disco sound for a brief while — tho, he seemed to be more interested in the idea of creating music of value that would inspire kids to dance as well as drift in thought. Arthur Russell seemed to be forever drifting into musical thought and whimsy.
An accomplished celloist — the cello was a means to an end for him. As was the use of beats, synths and playing with his voice. Constantly experimenting with these things he created an incredible body of diverse work that went largely unnoticed. After his death due to complications of AIDS, his work was “re-discovered” and has been slipping out ever since.
Although he seemed to have a full and warm voice, he liked to play with it. Utilizing special mics to create echos and approaching his lyrics as almost lazy musings caught from a string of humming. If you ask me, it is next to impossible to categorize his work.
It is “disco”? Is it “folk”? Is it “country-inspired-folk”? Is it “electronica”? …Or is it simply “alternative”?
I think it is safe to say that bits of his music fall into a wide range of categories/genres.
I prefer to think of his work as alternative electronica.
If interested, rent the documentary and I’d suggest the track “That’s Us/Wild Combination” and the entire LP/CD called “World of Echo” — this is fantastic headphone music.
Just put it on, get comfortable and allow his voice and music to let you float into his sweet and lazy world.
…It is magic. …and a wild combination.
I don’t know. I often feel that my mere being acts as some sort of magnet for the ‘different’ — sometimes this is entertaining, interesting and provides a sense of adventure. Other times it leaves me feeling that my personal space has been invaded and uncomfortable. And, if you know me or have been reading my whine-o-thon of a blog over the last year you know that I am not in a particularly good ‘space’ right now.
Today, I just wanted to enjoy the beach. It is a cool, but beautiful day and the idea of writing in my journal and walking the beach just seemed to perfect to resist. Plus, if I were to fall down, I’d only be pounding sand with my person. No biggie. I also thought I might be able to find a sand dollar for my pal, Bethie.
But, it is just too windy today and the city is plowing the sand at both Ocean and Sutro Beach — creating a most unpleasant blasting of sand to the face. I sat on the beach for a short while with my journal but grew tired of the sand flying into my eyes and mouth. As I gathered my stuff and started to go for a short walk along the shore, an unusual couple approached me. They were about 40-ish. The woman was quite attractive with long thin red hair which was almost seemed to reach her hips. The man sported a mow-hawk with a tinge of green at the tips of the points.
The conversation went something like this (and if they are reading this, I hope they are not offended. It just all struck me as interesting and just a bit annoying at the same time. A curious exchange on the beach.)
“Wow. You were really writing intently. Are you an artist?”
“Um, no. I was just writing in my journal.”
“So, you’re not published?”
“Nope. Not published. I just keep a blog.”
(They were both quite interested in my blog. I gave a vague direction as to how it could be found using google, but warned them that it was not much.)
“Look, dude, we are having a gathering at our place in The Haight (they gave me the address) and you really need to come.”
The woman stepped in and added, “Well, it is not so much a ‘gathering’ as something very different in concept.”
“Yes. We are trying to get back to ‘happenings’ — This will be a happening and you must join us!”
“Oh, thanks. But, you know, I’m not really much into parties — or, happenings these days. I’ve been working through some medical conditions…”
(and, then I internally asked myself: Why am I talking to these people?)
They then went into a lengthy explanation of the fact that they are collaborative artists. All the while I walk as quickly as my bare feet can plow thru the loose sand back to the boardwalk leading to my car. Apparently they lay out loads of paint on large canvas and roll about on the canvas and in the paint — while nude. …An idea I remember Farah Fawcett exploring in an odd Playboy video back in the late 80’s.
You can see a sample of Farah’s nude smear painting by googling “Free Pollack” for an image. I would upload it here for you, but I’ve run out of image space and am far too lazy to pull out a credit card to secure more. Not half bad work, really. Tho, I do remember being more amused by her Playboy-ish process than the result.
Anyway, the conversation continued as I attempted to get back to the shelter of my car.
“Now, do you know any artists in the Bay Area who you could bring with you to our happening?”
Turns out I sort of know an artist whom they both admire. Yes, I was still talking with them. What else was one to do. They were so nice.
“What is your exact birthdate and time of birth?”
“I’ve no idea of the exact time. I would have to look it up. I really don’t take stock in horoscopes.”
“Oh, baby. It is all in the stars!”
“Well, a scorpio (with something rising or falling he said) would be quite a potent human ingredient to our happening.”
“Wait. Are you two doing some sort of ritual orgy thing?”
“Oh, no! This is an artistic gathering and you must come!”
They literally followed me to the door of my car. As I climbed in, the woman noted my ipod. She wanted to know what song I was listening to right at that very moment.
“Well, it is just on shuffle for my whole music library.”
I started the car and the stereo boomed out — Blondie’s Walk Like Me.
“Oh my God! Blondie!”
Putting her tattoo’d hands together as if about to slip into prayer, “I adore Blondie! It is a sign! You must come!”
“Ok, gotta go! Nice talkin’ with you! Enjoy the rest of the day!”
…they were trying to get back to happenings.
…if only it were so easy to get a Little Miss No Name Doll.
The smallest things I attempt to do seem to take me so much energy anymore. But, I push forward.
I needed a haircut. So, I summoned all of my energy to fight the anxiety I seem to feel all the time these days.
Once in the chair, I decided to have the cut I’ve been wanting for sometime. Yes, the cut that friends have warned me I should not attempt. Essentially, I just wanted about half an inch above my ears shaved with a number one razor all the way around my head. Then just a bit trimmed off the top —- and I wanted no blending of my hair to the shaved section.
The stylist did exactly as I asked. And, I really liked it. After she shampoo’d it again and messed it about while looking at my reflection in the mirror she said, “You know, this cut actually works well on you. I was worried, but it looks good.”
I left the hair-cutting-place feeling a bit of confidence.
However, as I did a few errands and walked about I noticed I am getting looks. Looks of the worrying type.
Oh well, I like it. And, if it prooves too upsetting for others — it will grow back. (I think)