Friday, September 23, 2005

Flaming Magic

I’m back in school and so am again dragged away from my own thoughts and dreams into a institution of thought that escapes my understanding. Here is an example of my continuing frustration with academia and its’ current ideology. I arrived at my eight o’clock class this morning after a wonderful walk up to school on this, a crisp morning, the second of autumn. The big tree in Laurel Park, my favorite tree in the whole city and a friend, was just this morning, in his peak splendor with a green coat of leaves bursting at the tips in flames of red and orange! Never again will he look as he did this morning and that to me is Awesome, that is why he is my friend. And so there I am in class an overgrown man/boy squished into a tiny desk in a tiny classroom on the first day of a new term at University. Everyone shifted awkwardly and silently in their seats and, if everyone is like me, tried to guess the internal dialogue going on in the mind of the person sitting next to them. The instructor comes in and breaks the silence to the relief of all: a new person to read or submit to. This is all very routine of course. But to my great joy and astonishment a man and women walked in; the woman carrying a peculiar sort of computer-machine. The instructor asked about the machine and we all found out what it was: one of those transcription machines one would find in a courtroom. It turns out, the man was hearing impaired and she was there to type out the lecture for him to read on a laptop in his lap. I was absolutely taken by the machine and how it worked. As the professor spoke, the woman would kneed the keys causing (I suppose) the words to appear in full chunks on the man’s screen. There were no symbols or characters on any of the keys which made it all the more magical. I read more of the professors lecture than I did listen to it. It wasn’t even much of a lecture really, just her talking about her qualifications as a professor and the works she had published. Again, routine first day procedure. But what happened next was what really got me. The eyes are such a wonderful gift and I don’t know what I’d do without them, especially when entire cultural maxims float into my visual frame at once conveying the absurd or the beautiful. I guess what happened next was auditory as well, but I was hearing visually.

The professor put in a CD of a transgender author’s reading from one of his profound works. The instructor labeled him as transgender not me. And he probably labels himself as transgender which seems to me sad, people formulating self identity by such an insignificant detail. “She” told a sad tale about her struggles with culture’s acceptance of her desires to wear women’s clothing. (Hey, wear what you want. If I had it my way we would be wearing capes and Greek robes.) The author told about his 12 year old cousin and how he was also starting to wear women’s clothes. He used the word fagot a lot and told about a friend of his who has enormous breasts which he’s nick-named the Tyrannosaurus Racks.

While She was reading in a deep manly voice, I couldn’t help but watch as the transcribist typed on her curious machine. What did she think of this class, I wondered? How did that machine work, I pondered again? And so, I looked back and forth from the woman, with an incredible skill, to the mental image of a burly man in drag, reading about his confused twelve year old cousin. My mind can’t grasp how an arts department at a university can ignore technological marvels, the magic flames in every tree--in every molecule of the world--the silence amongst strangers on the first day of class, and focuses instead on the inner turmoil of quirky people.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Candy Houses

I’m laying on the floor in the living room with all the couch pillows under my head and my face buried in an old View Master that my grandfather found in basement and gave to me. A 3-D clay Hansel and Gretal are standing, lost in the dark woods with a trail of bread crumbs to mark the path from my crossed eyes. There is something about the encapsulated world of a View Master slide that captures me completely, making me want to live in a diorama, or reminding me that I already do.

Andy’s on the couch drawing and telling me about life at the print shop. He brings up a story he told me earlier, about a woman who had come in for copies but ended up crying. Her daughter that morning had had a violent seizure. “You know what really got me thinking about that woman though? My first reaction, when the woman started crying, was to cry with her. But I didn’t. I mean, I had to bite my lip. I can’t cry at work with all those customers around. It just wouldn’t be normal. I think Jesus said something about crying with those that cry and laughing with those that laugh. How pathetic is it when people can’t be genuine with each other?”

“Yeah, that is kinda sad. Huh.” In fairy land, Gretal gives the witch a good kick in the rear, right into the blazing stove.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


1. If you could take a trip in a vehicle of your own choosing (sea ship, chariot, plane, train, automobile, space shuttle, etc.) which would you take and where would you visit?

2. You’re a prisoner about to be put to death. The chef is willing to cook you anything you desire. It is after all, your last meal. What do you order?

3. If Mother Teresa came to you and said, “Hey Elaine, I was thinking’…we should have a party and invite a couple Saints. Why don’t you throw something together?” Who would you invite to your party and why? What theme and mood would the party have?

4. If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be? What would you look like?

5. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

6. What makes you smile at school?

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Micheal's interview with me. There are rules that will allow you to also participate in the fun. Stay tuned.

1. If you were any race, besides human, from Star Trek, which would you be and why?
I can’t recall the name of my favorite race of Star Trek aliens, but in one episode from TNG, there was a planet inhabited by men in space Speedos and women in skimpy two pieces. All they did all day was frolic around in the park acting like children and getting fresh. That would be kinda cool. But really, I guess I’d like being a Betazoid. Telepathic powers would be cool.

2. If a war broke out, and you had to hide in a bomb shelter, with all the food, medicine, even electricity you could need, but could only bring one item with you (that isn't a person) what would it be and why? I’d bring my violin. I am totally unskilled on my fiddle, though if I had all of my life in pit with nothing else to do, I’d love to master it.

3. If you had a superpower, what would it be, and would you use it for good or evil? Care Bare Stair. Hypothetically, I’d use this rich power for good.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, and speak the language, where would it be? Atlantis. And I’d speak Ebonics there.

5. If you were a type of alcohol, what would you be, and why?
I would be a barrel of 1794 Pennsylvanian corn whisky. Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be a barrel of whisky when I grew up. Plus, in that particular year, those whisky barrels, were at the center of a rowdy farmer’s rebellion.


Now, that was interesting, and fun.

Here's the scoop behind the interview process.

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below asking to be interviewed.

2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.

3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

Thursday, September 08, 2005

When The Music 's Over

Scattered all over the floor, are empty tall boys of Olympia beer. Near my head, on top of a speaker, is a bottle half full of stale beer. I pick it up and take a sniff out of morbid curiosity. I guess it’s been sitting there, warming--aging--for a few weeks at least. The jam room is filled with wires. Waves of them splashing against everything old and fusty. These guys have been binging on alcohol and minimum wage jobs for years. Pete, on the drums, has his shirt off and a head band soaked in sweat tied around his head to keep his mullet hair out of his eyes. The middle of his body, where all the important body parts are, is made of beer and bowling alley food but he's beating those drums like every moment is an epiphany. The character in the middle of the room, playing guitar--as pale and sad as a Tim Burton caricature, is Adam. He’s drunk, stoned, swaying with eyes half glazed, half open. Some people always talk but never listen. Bob is that kind of person and he is stealing the musical conversation with an endless loop of funk beats slapped out on his bass guitar. I’m sitting in a worn lounge chair: a stray from the free box in some college kids summer junk pile. I’m surrounded by squalor. Shiny things in department stores inevitably end up tarnished, stained, reeking in the basement, even if does take generations. In millions of years they will be mined as fossil fuels but for now they fill our homes.

The music stops for a moment and the band takes gulps of beer and laugh. I can see through the mini blinds, the flooded streets and the dead cattle and phone poles as floats in a solemn parade procession. The sun is setting.

I think about what music is and realize for the first time, with clarity, that its just conversation using vibrating tools instead of our own living tissue: vocal cords. Musicians with their power cords wrapped around them are cyborgs and when the power goes out the music will change. Acoustic guitar instead of electric. A piano where there was a keyboard. Architectural change will follow; to magnify the tiny voice of plain wood and wire.

The music starts again. Bob starts. A wonderfully mellow ballad for a change. I can see relief and hope start to take shape in our faces. It doesn’t last long. Bob stops self-consciously, looking like he wished he could take back what he just played--like he might have shown something that’s supposed to stay hidden. He laughs and lurches and then starts slapping funk out of his bass and Pete follows with a butt rock beat and Adam blows away, joining the dead cattle.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Yet Another Lord Of the Rings Analogy

I'm standing on a terrace in Gondor. Beside me, Gandolf is contemplating wizardly affairs while puffing smoke rings from his pipe. We're gazing over the fields of Pelinor and to the stirring black-lands beyond. An evil looking green energy swirl is unleashed from Mordor that causes a terrific clap of thunder which echoes throughout the valleys of Gondor. Gandolf looks at me--smoke leaking out from under his bushy white mustache, "So it begins."

Katrina is that evil green energy swirl. The rising gas prices are the Wraith King of Angmar flying on the wings of the Nazgul. The gangbanging anarchist shooting at those that would aid them are the Lord Denethor gone mad, saying, every man for himself! etc. etc.

I have never experienced such a natural disaster so it is easy for me to type, here on blogger, with a fresh cup of hot coffee steaming beside me, about ideals. The events of New Orleans are a wake up call for me though. I would have never expected such behavior in America. Surely Americans ban together and grit and grunt to help themselves and their neighbors, over coming hardships. Right? I’m sad to hear about rapes and killings in my own country.

See, I think our whole way of life is a illusion. Malls and stock brokers, people everywhere demanding customer satisfaction. It takes a natural disaster of "biblical proportions" to break the illusion. We are not customers we are human beings! We face hardships now and then. We might have to fast or go with out a shower. Help yourselves first, aid will come. Are people incapable of helping themselves in this country?

I do not mean to be insensitive to those suffering in the south, I am just disappointed that is all. I fear we are only shadows of our forefathers. Where are the Kings of old?