Tuesday, December 6, 2016

banksy chase

as submitted to the NY Times Lifestyle section
The Queens Banksy Chase

On the morning of Oct 15th, 2013 my wife Genevieve sent me a text, letting me know that Banksy was in the midst of doing a residency in New York city and that I should check it out. I googled and found out that Banksy was half way through a 31 day long self-imposed residency in NYC for the month of October. Every day of October Banksy was putting up a new piece somewhere in one of the five Boroughs. It was a project epic in scope, even for Banksy.

The day before Genevieve tipped me off, Banksy had made international news for the 14th piece of the residency, a prank he pulled off in Central Park. He set up a stand, among all the other stands, selling his prints for cheap, which were subsequently ignored by droves of tourists. Nobody knew they were originals, worth tens of thousands of dollars each. It was wryly funny and critical of the capitalistic culture of value, two qualities I'd come to expect from Banksy.

I was curious about where the 15th piece was going to be that day, so I began to google deeper. I found out that one had been done just that morning at 68th Street and 38th Avenue in Jackson Heights. It was within walking distance! I sprang into action immediately. I did the hundred and one things needed to get the girls ready to go out the door, got them both in the double stroller and rolled.

The girls are Lucia and Sofia, then ages 3 and 4. Little did they care about going to see a fresh Banksy, but they were always happy to go for a ride. I pushed the stroller up 39th Avenue to Roosevelt, then up Roosevelt to 68th. Roosevelt is directly under the 7 Train for approximately 75 blocks, which creates a very long tunnel effect. My neighbor Stephen Nickson calls Roosevelt Avenue a tunnel of diversity, as hundreds of businesses of all different cultural backgrounds line the blocks under the tracks.  This was the avenue we walked down for 18 blocks that morning in order to witness a a brand new Banksy piece.

We were still new to these environs. We had just moved from Boulder Colorado to Queens NY. After ten years in Boulder, NYC is quite a change, almost like living in another country. The skies are bigger in Colorado, and so are the vistas. The smells, sights and sounds are radically different. The people are much less ethnically diverse in Colorado, and they also operate on a much lower vibrational level, baritone, even bass. In New York most people are working tenor or soprano levels. New Yorkers walk about twice as fast as people from Colorado. It's exhilarating, but exhausting. But you build up the stamina, just like in Colorado you build your lungs to acclimate to the altitude.

The downside is no joke though. A NYC dentist told us that teeth grinding is common problem here. Stress is a killer. You have to learn to manage it. Time goes by quicker here, so you have to find ways to slow it down. Otherwise you will age much faster.

On the other hand, contrary to expectations, we found the people in New York to be more neighborly than those in Colorado. We knew more neighbors in the first two weeks of moving into our apartment in Queens than we did after ten years of living in Boulder. The density of people here creates countless small communities, entirely based upon proximity and need.

I quickly began to appreciate what Queens and NYC had to offer. Just prior to the Banksy residency I had been reading Jonathem Lethem's fresh-off-the-press novel, "Dissident Gardens," about Sunnyside Queens in the 1940s through to the 1970s, from back when it was a communist cell through to the folk, beatnik and hippy years. I was also taking walks and bike rides everyday, exploring even the graveyards. You could say I was steeping myself in Queens.

Three days prior to Genevieve's Banksy tip, on October 12th, I had gone with several of the gardeners I had met from the Sunny Gardens Community Garden, located behind our communal Sunnyside Gardens Park, to see Lethem read from "Dissident Gardens" at the Sunnyside Community Center. (That's a lot of community in once sentence.) After the reading I told the gardeners that they were the real Dissident Gardens, which got a good laugh. But it was true. Lethem was using Sunnyside Gardens in his novel as a kind of metaphor of defeat; the open backyards of the ideal planned community were now fenced in, the dream was long gone. But that's fiction for you. The truth is more complicated; far from gone, the socialist dream is still alive and growing in Sunnyside Gardens and the amazing park to which it was attached.

So now here we were, walking up Roosevelt with a stroller, as if dropped in a Lethem novel set in real time, about to see this fresh masterpiece from Banksy, in the middle of his already legendary month long residency in NYC. There was a palpable sense of history to the whole thing.

I pushed the stroller off of Roosevelt and up 68th. There was a little bodega on the corner of 38th Avenue and 68th and we could see some people crowded around the back, staring at the rear wall. Bingo! There it was, still fresh, still unmarred. It immediately shone with that mysterious aura of great art.

An hour later this art would be tagged by local hooligans. This was a recurring problem for fans of Banksy, because in the local tagger's eyes Banksy was stepping on territory. The local taggers were defending their so-called turf, which seemed petty to me, in light of Banksy's gift, but, on the other hand, it added an exciting element to the sport of the hunt, because it made it that much sweeter to get try to see the piece and get a good shot of it before it could be trashed.

We just made it in time, this time, but it was a close one. An hour later and this piece would be tagged by Topic, then Team Robbo and finally Problem Child. Problem Child! The local punk taggers add something indelible to a Banksy piece in the process of destroying it.
Over the next 2 weeks of the residency we would witness more fresh pieces just in the nick of time before they were destroyed, and three of those times we arrived even as they were being destroyed. It was a race between my stroller/subway skills with my toddlers in tow and the punk taggers. And victories were sweet.

The text of that first piece we saw on October 15 in Queens reads, “What we do in life echoes in Eternity." Next to the words there was the life size stencil of a man who is scrubbing the graffiti off the wall, erasing the word "Eternity."

The quote is from Russel Crowe's Maximus in the movie Gladiator, and it is a variation from the original by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher, which is commonly translated as, “What we do now echoes in eternity.” For Banksy, to take a pop culture quote from a cheesy Hollywood movie (one that happens to be both terrible and great) which is in turn a quote, an echo, from hardcore western world Roman history, is a mark of his style. In that way he is in the tradition of the pop artist, marrying the highbrow to the low, and consequently, the elite to the common, the rich to the poor.

At first the piece struck me as a simultaneous celebration of both the work of the artist, which somehow pushes out into eternity, and a critique of the critics who deface art. But as with most Banksy pieces the meaning of the work was even more layered and resonant than it first appeared.

This was a temporary piece of street art that was paradoxically about longevity, and that's why I loved the picture I was able to take of the girls standing in front of it, caught in that fleeting eternal moment. Somehow the girls looked as if they belonged in that scene too. The colors of their clothes even matched. I had extemporaneously captured a moment of their youth that spoke to eternity. It struck me that just by being alive the girls were erasing the foreverness of eternity, that our lives themselves, by being finite, were, paradoxically, small erasures of timelessness.

But it also occurred to me just then that, not unlike figurative art, the girls are a literal embodiment of something that I have done in life that will echo toward eternity, i.e. having children. I liked being able to frame this thought in such a perfect way. Later we framed the shot of the girls and gave it to my father as a gift. My girls are, after all, also an eternal echo of something he did in his life, echoes of an echo.

But there was another surprise twist to this artwork that unveiled itself only recently. A few weeks ago some Australian friends were staying with us. They saw the picture of the girls in front of the tag and recognized the font in which Banksy had chosen to write "Eternity."

They told us the story behind it. It turns out that Arthur Malcolm Stace, otherwise known as Mr. Eternity, was an Australian eccentric and soldier, a reformed alcoholic and thief who converted to Christianity and spread his message by writing the word "Eternity" in copperplate font with chalk on footpaths in and around Sydney for about 35 years, from 1932 to 1967. (The first tagger?) Later on Wikipedia I found out that in an interview Stace said, "Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity." Stace was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, but, he said, "the word 'Eternity' came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn't understand it, and I still can't."

He was breaking Sydney's laws, of course, and he narrowly avoided arrest about twenty-four times. Each time he was caught, he responded with, "But I had permission from a higher source."

It is estimated that Stace wrote the word around 500,000 times. Only one survives, found years later, poetically, in a bell tower above Sydney's Post Office. One out of half a million! But now there was another one, in Queens, as if from beyond the grave, an exact copy of the divinely inspired original script. Banksy is literally echoing Eternity.

Echoes are everywhere. Banksy's work echoes Stace's, i.e. "Permission from a higher source." The story of Mr. Eternity provides a rich allegory to this piece, but is so subtly presented as to be nearly hidden. It's for Banksy himself, first, an homage to his forebearer, Mr. Eternity, but it's for the rest of us too, an Easter Egg to be discovered later.

This quality of Banksy's work can also be seen in the way his overnight graffiti art stick-ups around the five boroughs that month became like hidden treasures to be stumbled upon and discovered by the the residents of the city. Whole neighborhoods were caught up in the fun. And on that morning a Jackson Heights bodega owner found himself in possession of a piece of art that was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if he could only find a way to remove it from the building and sell it.

I turned the stroller around and pushed the girls back home. I remember that the fall breeze was brisk, but the sun was bright and lit up a thousand interesting faces on Roosevelt Ave. (Queens' faces are some of the most interesting faces on earth. Da Vinci would have a field day here.) It was an auspicious first day of the Chase. And the moment is still echoing now, will be for a long time, maybe even on into my children's children. Every day, for the rest of October, there awaited a new adventure from Banksy, which would take us on an incredible treasure hunt throughout the other 4 boroughs of NYC.

The last piece of the month, on October 31st, was also in Queens, and also within walking distance. We got there just in time to spy it across highway 495. It was Banksy's signature on the side of a building. At first it looked just like it was done in an old school Queens-style bubble letter tag, super simple and understated. But as you looked a little closer you could see that the letters were 3-D. They were balloons made in the shape of a bubble font, as if the bubble font had bubbled out, popped out into the shape it originally mimicked. It was a reverse tromp-leoil. This was Banksy both paying homage to the locals and one-upping them at the same time. It was also a clever way to sign the entire month long "residency," his love letter to the city.

I took a shot of the girls sitting on the overpass guard rail, the bubble-letter Banksy signature hovering between them in the distance, and then we looked for a way to cross the highway to get a closer look. By the time we made it across the highway and found the building the piece was already gone! In that short 5 minutes some kids had put up a ladder and pulled it down. Meanwhile the NYPD had arrived on the scene and caught up to the kids before they could take off with the partially deflated letters. There were several bystanders watching the show, mostly fellow Banksy chasers, some of which I had come to know in the last few weeks. The cops let the kids go, but they put the bubble-letter Banksy in the back of a police van. Presumably they still have it now. It's worth a fortune.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

passage from Tournier

'One day I say him finishing the portrait of a woman. She was neither young nor beautiful nor rich. But there was something radiant in her eyes, her faint smile, her whole face.

"Yesterday," Assur said to me, "I went to the Prophet's Fountain, the one fed by a wretched Persian wheel.  The flow is meager and intermittent, so each time it starts up there's a good deal of pushing a shoving. At the back of the crowd a feeble old man was waiting with a tin cup trembling in his hand, and there wasn't a chance that he'd ever be able to fill it. But then this woman, who had just filled an amphora with great difficulty, went over and shared her water with him.

"It was nothing. An infinitesimal gesture of friendship among the desperately poor -people among whom sublime and abominable deeds are done every day. What was unforgettable was the woman's expression from the moment when she caught sight of the old man to the time when she gave him his water and left him. I carried that face away with me in my memory, and then, concentrating to keep it alive in me as long as possible, I did this drawing. What is it? A fugitive glimmer of love in a harsh existence. A moment of grace in a pitiless world. That rare and precious moment when the likeness sustains and justifies the image."

"I realize that what I am after is quite a revolution. I sometimes wonder if a more profound revolution is even conceivable. That's why I'm so patient, because I understand what resistance and persecution artists have to contend with. There's very little hope of winning out. But it's that bit of hope that I live for."'  Michel Tournier, from The Four Wisemen

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thanks to Mierle

Today had a root canal and had to file taxes. 2 of my least favorite things. Yet after experiencing and thinking about Mierle Ukules "Maintainance Art" show we saw Sunday, I had a much better attitude about it than usual. The show (at the Queens Museum) has the cumulative effect of somehow getting you excited about taking care of business as a way of living art.

It's as if you were a sanitation worker, and she were saying to you, "Thank you for keeping this city alive."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

48 a new peak

My 48th birthday weekend was as if I had imagined it myself, but better.

A hard lost tennis game to Kevin in the morning.

And then spend the day preparing for party. Around 4:30pm friends come to the park.

And other friends and family. Dexter brings a bottle of Hudson Valley Bourbon. Best bourbon I've ever tasted, with a burnt caramel flavor, wood smoke. Pass it around. Get a magic 8 Ball from one of them, KC Trommer, Lilla brings a peach tort from patisserie, Amy brings a peach pie, Cristina brings fancy snacks and socks, Therese a painting of a hummingbird, Catherine a handle of rum, Nonna and Papa some delicious boursin cheese, Marco oak aged beer, Quinn guitar strings, picks and a pear, Tyler and Karen, wine and a watermelon: and more I'm forgetting suffice to say superabundance.

Strikes me that 3 of the neighborhood friends, Justin, Tyler and KC I also happen to know through poetry circles, Venn Diagram bonanza, friends, parents with kids the same age as ours

Big jazz band plays for an hour. For awhile I throw the giant frisbee into the air so that it comes back to myself, as if I was playing catch with the sky, while dozens of kids swirl around me trying to catch it too.

Then after jazz the Brooklyn Raga Collective plays raga versions of Beatles and Led Zeppelin, with the great Pyeng Threadgill singing. (She's the daughter of jazz great Henry Threadgill who just won a pulitzer!) I danced with Lucia in front of the crowd and she was great. It was the highlight of a night filled with highlights.

Then my favorite new band The Flushing Remonstrance played soundtracks to old experimental films, including George Meliers' Trip To The Moon.

Followed by old Felix The Cat Cartoons. 10pm and the girls are lying on me while we watch cartoons outside with neighbors, friends and family. Perfect warm night with a cool breeze. Full harvest moon! No bugs!

Better than I could've imagined, like when Whitman says, " O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you-yet I love you; You express me better than I can express myselr; You shall be more to me than my poem."

Or when Seamus Heaney says "ANd hat happens next is amusic that you never would have known to listen for."

End the evening drinking port that brother-in-law Matthew brought me from Portugal, Dow special reserve. Best port I've ever had, with distinct flavor of strawberry, raspberry, plum and chocolate. And eating peach tort from patisserie from Lila.

That's the life!

Not to mention lots of love from Genevieve. My favorite.


Friday night watched Popstar: Never stop never stopping" in bed with Gen, loved it.

Sunday, Dobogiallo style doubles tennis tournament in the park (can you believe this park?) as a relief for earthquake in Italy.

Then off to see the opening of Mierle Laderman Ukules at the Queens Museum, thanks to a tip from Noel Black. Gen and I were so tired after epic night at park and doubles tournament that neither of us really wanted to go. But we rallied and so glad we did. So great. So inspiring. And doubly great to meet her! Lucia got an autograph.

My 48th birthday was better than what I could've imagined.

When I blew out my birthday candles it seemed a sacrilege to wish

for anything, for anything beyond the moment itself. I just blew. No wishes...

Friday night watched "Popstar: Never stop never stopping" in bed with Gen. Laughed.

Then a hard lost tennis game to Kevin in the morning. Would rather lose than win.

And then spend the day preparing for party.

Around 4:30pm friends and family come to the Sunnyside Gardens.

Dexter brings a bottle of Hudson Valley Bourbon.

Best bourbon I've ever tasted, with a burnt caramel flavor, wood smoke.

Pass it around. Get a magic 8 Ball from KC Trommer,

Lilla brings a peach tort from patisserie, Amy brings a peach pie,

Cristina brings fancy snacks and socks, Therese a painting of a hummingbird,

Catherine a handle of rum, Nonna and Papa some delicious boursin cheese,

Marco oak aged beer, Quinn guitar strings, picks and a pear,

Tyler and Karen, wine and a watermelon: and more I'm forgetting

suffice to say it was superabundance.

Strikes me that 3 of the neighborhood friends, Justin, Tyler and KC

I also happen to know through poetry circles, Venn Diagram bonanza:

friends, parents with kids the same age as ours and poets. 3!

Just so happens that Flicks and Jazz in the Garden is scheduled on my birthday.

Hard not to take things like this personally. Because it feels personal. 

Big band jazz plays for an hour. Meanwhile I throw a giant frisbee

into the air so it comes back to myself, as if I was playing catch with the sky,

while dozens of kids swirl around me trying to catch it too.

After the big band jazz the Brooklyn Raga Collective plays versions

of Beatles and Led Zeppelin, with the great Pyeng Threadgill singing. 

(She's the daughter of jazz great Henry Threadgill who just won a pulitzer.)

I danced with Lucia in front of the crowd and she was so fantastic!

It was the highlight of a night filled with highlights.

Then my favorite new band The Flushing Remonstrance

played soundtracks to old experimental films,

including George Melies' Trip To The Moon.

Followed by old Felix The Cat Cartoons.

10pm and the girls are both lying on me comfortably

while we watch cartoons outside in the park. Perfect.

A wild Austrian neighborhood kid named Hans is hanging around my neck too.

I hardly know him, but it seems natural, and no one, least me, objects.

It was warm night too, with a cool breeze. Full harvest moon! No bugs!

Yes, better than I could've imagined, like when Whitman says, " O public road!

I say back, I am not afraid to leave you-yet I love you; You express me better

than I can express myself; You shall be more to me than my poem."

The night expressed me better than I could've expressed myself.

Or when Seamus Heaney says "And what happens next is a music

that you never would have known to listen for."
We end Saturday evening drinking port that brother-in-law Matthew

brought me by hand from Portugal, Dow special reserve. Best port I've ever had,

with distinct flavor of strawberry, raspberry, plum and chocolate.

Pairing it with Lilla's peach tort. Now that's the life!

Sunday, the weekend extends still further with a Doppio Giallo style doubles

tennis tournament in the park (can you believe this park?)

as a relief for earthquake in Italy. I'm curious what Doppio Giallo means

and Carlo says it means Double Mystery. But isn't Giallo mean yellow

I ask? Carlo says yes, but yellow in Italian also means mystery.

Do you know why I ask? But he doesn't. So now we have a giallo

giallo, why is mystery the color yellow? Afterward off to see the opening

of Mierle Laderman Ukules at the Queens Museum, thanks to a tip

from our friend Noel Black. Gen and I were so tired after epic night at park

and the doubles tournament that neither of us really wanted to go,

but we rallied! And so glad we did. Such a great show. So inspiring.

And doubly great  that we got to meet her! Lucia even got an autograph.

Now thoroughly tired, and pinching myself to see if this a dream I go to sleep.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Incredibly in sync dance with Diandra at Matthew and Monica's house in front of fire place. Hard to believe how synchronized a dance can be, how expressive, how mutually creative. Kept me up too late, but well worth it. An unexpected (and needed) gift from a personal God.

Golden to Arvada to Denver to Boulder to Loveland

Woke up at Matthew's place in Golden

went to Marley's game
girls play on nearby playground zip line for hour

then Disc golf with Jeff and Matt: six under...

then Lunch in Denver, sushi burritoes

dancing with girls to Wonderlic at Skyline park.

then to Diandra's new flower shop. Girls get bows. Check out what's become of D Note. See the mouth of logo is only thing left.

Then off to Boulder to see Carmen under the bandshell. Girls drinking fresh squeezed watermelon cherry lemonade. All of us perfectly happy for that minute. Carmen! Free! Outside in the Mountains!

Quick stop afterward to see Tom Peters at the Beat Bookstore on Pearl Street Mall turns into half hour. He berates kids, nervous whole time, begrudges them even the pennies they find on the floor. Complains about everyone, from personal friends of mine, to parents who don't watch their children, Then guilts me into buying two books. One was homage to Phil Whalen book. Not a terrible purchase by any means, just a bit rich right now.

Back to Loveland.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


At a concert Gen sent me to. Band called hoohawhow (Robert hoohaw.) bored. He was phoning it in. Turn to girl next tome and tell her this is third time I've heard this song today, (arrowsmith cover used for Walmart olympics commercial.) Girl's got a sparkle in her eye. She gives me her Blanket. It's Made out of some sort of sea material. Crackly. Retains its warmth. She remembers my name. I had forgetten hers. Or that I had even given them mine. Intermission. I take blanket and move to the back of venue.  Another woman pulls blanket away, Jewish. She just wants to look at it she says. She tells me she's attracted to it, and that the blanket was curious about her, it was "sniffing" her leg. I'm intrigued. Then same woman has taken her seat again and she's listening to a man on a radio. I overhear. He tells her, "you have to pretend to believe until you feel engaged." I interject, shout back, "that's excellent advice!" Then he says, "thanks for calling in, listener, you've been listening to Small Table on KCCR, please join us again next week."  I decide I want to write all of this down. I ask the girl behind me for a pen, the one in front of me for paper. She only has a few sheets left, but offers anyway. No no, I tell her. I look around and ask someone who has a lot. But then I need a hard surface so I grab the book of boy sitting next to me. Young crowd. He says that's my book. I say I just need it for a writing surface. He is nerdy and shy and says, ok, he says,  and then, that's a really good book, I think you'd like it. short stories. He points out the author's name. Thanks I'm always looking for something to read,  I tell him, but I'm lying. I take note of the name anyway. Looks Scandinavian Wahr, or something like that. The cover has glowing moons on black. Cool cover I tell him. I start to write everything down. At which point I wake up and grab my phone and write everything down.    

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Plan of action

first 2 #cousinrich productions both got off the ground on this same day. 

Fischer set a date to record. And Dantex sent me their first script. Which is worthy of the endeavor. 

Next stop Peace Club. First rule of Peace Club. Everyone talk about Peace Club. 

First project. Oysters in the Hudson. 

Cousin rich also launches:

World's Fair Festival 

Sound&Vision Film Festival

(Start small and manageable. Slow growth. Sparks will catch in NY. In NY you can be a new man.

Free teacher

And Sound&Vision 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good Vibrations

Dear Brian and Sheri,

This letter goes out to you. Because every good one needs one. I wrote that last sentence partly because of Emily Dickinson. But that's another story. She's good at riddles. I know you don't much care for them. One means missive and one means you.

That's enough of that. But it's important as we shall see.

So today I watched Love and Mercy, the biopic of Brian Wilson starring my old crush, John Cusack, someone I fashioned myself after, in a fashion. That last fact is just one small significant thing in the whole thing. Also that you are Brian, too.

It was an okay movie, better than most really. Weird disconnect between the younger Brian, who was awesomely played by Paul Dano, and the older one, played by John Cusack, who had somehow turned into a mash-up between John and Brian. (In some alternative version John plays me.)

Four films really, one about the music, and one about abuse, madness and recovery. And a third about gurus and psychologists manipulating the weak for their own gain. And a love story to boot.

I enjoyed all of them, but the one about the music was my favorite. I learned a lot about the music.

And I realized after watching it, that I have somehow never listened to Smiley Smile, which is weird, because I love weird, and I love The Beach Boys and this is the weirdest of the Beach Boys albums.

So I listened to it while doing the dishes tonight. It's so silly and funny, but also so carefully wrought and, ultimately, sublime. It starts with a little minute long musical vignette stating the theme of the album; to remember, all day and night, to whistle.

Then the album continues with a meditation on heroes and villains, the good and bad. And, already, stories are unfolding and categories are starting to unravel.

Then the album gets super silly and fun with a child-like love song to vegetables. But really, what could be more profound?

Then it stays silly with "Fall breaks and Back to Winter (Woody Woodpecker Symphony)" which is one I want to think about more, what the title means, but my instant take is dark music made light, or light music made dark. Cartoon winter gloom.  But mostly this is just an instrumental aperitif.

"She's Going Bald" ramps up the ridiculous, and also seems to be a shout out to The Beatles. The movie points out that Brian felt he was in competition with John Lennon and the boys (Another John I heavily relate to.) And you can feel the John Lennon in this song with both the playfulness of the lyrics, the way it runs through styles, even through early Beatlesque blues, with John's irreverent humor, and depth, as it seems to say something about the importance of a woman's hair, and the tragedy of its loss. Which, though sgrounded and visceral, is also symbolic of loss of beauty, even life. But like in the previous song, when fall was breaking back to winter, the music keeps it light, and, in fact, hilarious.

But then comes a sweet one, for me. "Little Pad."

"If I only had a little pad in Hawaii."

It starts with the boys cutting up, laughing in the studio, singing the song in goofy voices, but then gets a little more serious, and pretty, the fantasy starting to come through.

Of course I couldn't help but think of your wedding in Hawaii. NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT MIKE EFFING LOVE WAS THERE AND SINGING SONGS FOR YOU! That's some super thick glue right there. And of course Mike Love is one of the "villains" in the "movie", a foil to Brian's hero. Though he's made out to be a villain, really, you totally understand where he is coming from. Brian was so far in his own world that Mike Love (Make Love?) was no longer part of the equation, just a voice.  After all, it was supposed to be The Beach Boys, not The Beach Boy.

"dit du du, da da da do do, dim duh did doo
did did did doo dim duh dum did doo doo do
By the sea that's where I'll build a pad in Hawaii"

and I could hear Mike Love singing this, in my imagination, on your wedding night, as you make love. On the beach, in the rain, not a cloud in the sky. Or was that me?

And I could picture your pad there. Though somehow it hasn't been built yet.

And then the next song came on. Good Vibrations. And all the sudden this funny weird silly album became, by dint of that one song alone, one of the greatest albums ever made. Because this song is so undeniably great, one of the great masterpieces of art. Wave after wave of hooks, and musically like nothing ever heard before, kettle drums and theramin aflare, and the balanced harmony of the whole.

But best of all, for this listener, that one line, "Gotta keep those loving good vibrations happening with her."

This is THE mantra. The only mantra one needs. The single greatest line of music ever written in my opinion, where words and music coalesce. I used this line to raise both of my daughters. And to ease my marriage. I have sung this line to my girls, and myself, hundreds of times when they were upset. And I still do. Over and over again. It was not only my protection against slipping into bad vibrations myself, but a reminder that I had to keep the good vibrations going for them, at all cost. And what better way to keep good vibrations happening than through music? The key is in the music, the key to the whole deal, to joy, was in this one line framed in this one exceedingly great song, which is in turn framed in this great album, which is is in turn framed by the entire ouvre of Brain Wilson.

Writing "Brain Wilson" was a typo. Bu it reminds me of when you accidentally wrote your name as "brain" in the drying sidewalk cement between your house and mine on Goddard Street in Overland Park KS. Haha. You made a mistake and then signed it "Brain." That's such good irony. I never realized how good until writing this right now. It further reminds me of when your son found a feather and you told him to blow it off his hand and make a wish. Then you asked him what he wished for and he said "To have the feather back."

Maybe it wasn't a typo after all, writing brain?

So listen to rest of the album. The next song With Me Tonight

The way I broke your heart very literally
This ghost haunts me more than it should be
I'm not gonna walk away or turn my head in shame
I never thought it could kill me

A clean slate, one more day further away
I want you, you don't want me
My mistake for wasting yours and mine
I want you but will you stay with me today, with me today?

Just let me make some time to take it back a little
The way you smile shines the heavens above me
I'm never gonna let you go, I want you all the time

I've gotta prove you can trust me."

Oh the depth of those lyrics, I can't believe I've never listened to some of these songs before tonight.

The next song I HAVE heard though. Wind Chimes.

"Hanging down from my window, those are my wind chimes."

It all comes back to the vibrations. To the beautiful sounds. The song moves from "tears rolling down my cheek" and turns toward the peaceful sounds of the wind chimes and then the peace turns into playfulness by the end of the song, and we're okay again. Healing through sound. Ends with various voices singing, "Tingling," culminating in a goofy voice soaked in heavy reverb, and fades into light tinkling voices harmonizing at a low volume.

Then the album ends Wonderfully, of course. Very pretty,


She belongs there, left with her liberty
Never known as a non-believer
She laughs and stays in the
Won- won- wonderful

She knew how to gather the forest when
God reached softly and moved her body
One golden locket quite young
And loving her mother and father

Farther down the path was a mystery
Through the recess the chalk and numbers
A boy bumped into her
Won- won- won- wonderful

Hey bobba reba
----Everybody should
Wa bobba lee
Just start collecting
Hey bobba reba
Oh yeah
Wa bobba lee
Kept a-comin on
Hey bobba
Just to be a cool guy
Hey bobba
He bobba reba
Don't think you're God
He bobba reba
Go for a ride
Wa bobba lee
Just go for a
He bobba reba
Just keep goin
Wa bobba lee
Said it
Just keep goin'
Hey bobba
All you gotta do is
Hey bobba
Cool it vibrations
He bobba reba
Ah just gotta do i

She'll return in love with her liberty
Never known as a non-believer
She'll smile and thank God
For one won- won- wonderful"
Just listen to the album though. It's all there in the music. And more. 



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Practice makes perfect

What a beautiful stream to wake up to. So much poetry, in words and images. 4AM, the holy hour. 3 nightmares (rare for me) and all 3 easily dissolved through past lucid dream practices and meditation. I just pulled myself out of the dreams. As Sofia said yesterday, "meditation is a head replacement." The 2nd dream involving a dog! Who wouldn't leave me alone in Central Park (probably just wanted to play.) the 3rd one I was reading Pynchon and all twisted up in the language, trapped. Pulled myself out of that one, but needed extra help so dropped into grounding mantra. Such a useful tool. And then looked at my phone and saw all this!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

4th D, thirsting

Wow that's great - l am moving mountains here - we are out of this house by the 15 of wrote:

this just happened

I was sending a message to Thurston Moore, letting him know that I wanted to get my book Wherewithal to him, edited by Anselm Berrigan. What I really wanted was to ask him to help me with my Sound and Vision project, but since he doesn't know me from Adam, I thought I'd lead with the book. He said he'd be at Anselm's reading tonight and I could give it to him there. That's an interesting coincidence right there. And I'm going to throw in the fact that Thurston and Anselm read almost exactly in the same tone. Sometimes I think Thurston copped his style from Anselm, but I know it's probably mutually borrowed. But there's an unmistakable connection once you hear it. I told Thurston I couldn't make it, but would send one along. Then I said, "as an aside, if you have HBO watch Magnolia again. I just finished re-watching it right now, and so it is lying heavy on me, which is why I'm mentioning it. The different ways the catharsis happens for each character within a single song is genius. Cheers and keep up the good work." I felt a little odd about even saying that, not wanting to come across as overly eager to such a superstar. Right as I had that thought the closing song of Magnolia began to play, "Save me," by Aimee Mann, and I heard the melodic opening strain of the Carpenter's song "Superstar" embedded in middle of the Aimee Mann song "Save Me" that closes the movie. Crazy. Sweet touch. It's at 3:02:00. In my mind I immediately heard Thurston Moore's cover of that same song in my mind. It broke through the fourth dimension. And of course that movie is in part about infidelity, which Thurston is now famous for. And if he watches the movie again he may wonder why I suggested it to him. And even the poem in the book dedicated to Thurston is secretly about infidelity. And he may wonder about that too. And my friend is going through a similar struggle, and we all do to some degree or other, and I'm trying to understand.

On the way reading I read in my own book A line with resonance, but am collapsing. Oh something about hearing and seeing something great, especially at once."

Then the reading, great, then signing the book and the best conversation. 

Next sound and vision.


/)dam I)eGraff

Poetry rodeo, 4th dimension

Staying in air bnb in Jamaica Plain Mass. The place has some juju, some magic. Owned by artists. Lots of little details, like awesome toys for girls, crazy rabbit fur soft comforters etc. came across this poem in the guest book. Ah, typed, nice. Then when I saw the "poetry rodeo" and remembered that was the name of the poets who has transformed my cousin Mike DeGraff's life.

After Mike's divorce, at a real low point,  he came across these guys, part of a work thing he was involved in. He decided to get a poem from them. The poem they wrote for him on the spot is a beauty, see below. I love the way it ends with such heavy rhyme on the word "divide," a word so poignantly rife with double meaning. Mike was so inspired by this poem, this new lease on life, that he had it tattooed on his arm. I still had the pic Mike sent on my phone and I pulled it out to compare. The signature was the same. 

Must be pretty long odds I'd come across a second poem from this posse in Jamaica Plain Mass, so far from Austin TX. 

"Coming together..."

Room service stories: will smith

That's rich. I dig "fail forward." Thx for the story. I met him for the briefest moment in the late nineties when I was working room service in SF. Took to his room two glasses of wine and a cheese and fruit plate. He didn't answer the door, But I kept trying, even calling his room. Normal protocol would be to leave the tray inside, but I was hesitant to do do considering his celebrity. I knocked a last time and then put the electronic key in the lock. I heard someone rushing to the door. Then the door opened just a crack and there was a shadowy Will Smith. He stuck his head out and told me in an exasperated and slightly impatient manner to leave the tray outside."  In flagrante dilecto. No tip, but a good laugh at least. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

perfect mother's day

Another magical weekend to add to the mix.

Friday a wordless conversation with Melissa Ivey with waves of good vibrations.

Sofia's school mate Martin's party at the Dojo Saturday and all the beautiful kids and parents, all the fun.

Then Saturday night danced hard to DJ/Rupture (Jayce Clayton.) And long warm conversation with Anne Waldman.

Then after reading a conversation on the train ride home with stranger. A yoga instructor named Angela. Went deep.   

Then today for Mother's Day a walk around Swan Lake, beauty everywhere, followed by best Greek food ever at San Torini restaurant in Sleepy Hollow followed by the unbelievable Marc Chagall and Matisse windows at Pocantico Hills Church.

Perfect Mother's Day. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

chpter 2

There's not much difference between this and a poem. But there is a difference. Proust didn't write poetry. Because sometimes you think in prose. What's the difference? Spend the rest of your life with this question.

For instance, here's one called

chapter 2

I had amazing moment just now talking to the Apple Care guy. I called him after getting as high as a kite on my meditation. He was in business mode, but he seemed really eager to help. It turned out it wasn't a problem he could help me with, but we kept talking. We talked about the weather. It was as natural as it was awkward. Should I start talking to him about the poet I was reading, Sampson Starkweather, I wondered? See how far I can take it. No, just enjoy the process off him trying to help me, trying to understand the complexity of my problem, and offering possible solutions. This weird thing happened though, in which a human connection was forged that transcended the business at hand. At the end, when there was nothing more he could possibly say, there was a hesitation, and I swear he had a wistful tone in his voice when he was saying goodbye. It is so clear in moments like this what awareness means. That thing that connects us. We never call each other up anymore just to talk.

Then I had to call back Apple back again. Because I forgot my second order of business, to cancel my iCloud. This time, as soon as told them I wanted to cancel a service of course, I got put on hold. For a long time. Fortunately they were playing really good background music. A band called Milky Chance. And I picked up my acoustic guitar and played a pretty stellar guitar solo. I was feeling it. That's called whistling while you wait.
But in the end I had to wait for 17 minutes! Just to cancel a $3 a month service. Where's your care there, Apple?
But besides the guitar solo, I also wrote all of this during that time.
Ah they're back. Finally.
 "...I understand that you want to cancel the service. I would too."   ???  "Before we go forward I just need to ask you some questions to verify your account."
"What was your childhood nickname.
"I didn't have one."
"Uh, well, what would you have put there?"
"I don't know. Bean pole?"
"Okay, just a moment."
MORE going on hold.
"Sorry, my system is slow today. We've got you all taken are of. Thank you, have a nice day"

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sarah n dippity

Anselm street poet
Cedar rail
Padgett blood work
Biglieri Berkson connection

several days later Sarah N Dippity was used for Sarah Stiles. Whoa. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gee spree

Yesterday for breakfast apple cinnamon muffins made fresh, gluten-free vegan! Yesterday for lunch butternut squash and soup with rice and vegetables, grilled cheese sandwiches after playing in the snow. Hot chocolate. For dinner salmon with quinoa pesto, sweet potato fries and salad with guacamole. Today kitchen sink salmon soup.

Girls first day sledding!

Ken Jacobs nervous magic lamp films at Anthology with Quinn. Illusionistic depth, caves within caves. (plus stop by at SculptureCenter to see Chris and give him book.)


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

idea rolling. D Note Presents Sound&Vision


So, I'm ready to move forward. Let's write this scenario.

1. I'm imagining a network of theaters. One in Colorado manned by Matthew (if he's into it, or Danielle/JenK if not.) One in Kansas City womanned by Mandi Rudd (pretty sure she'd be on board, which would be huge.) One lead by Lisa Genke in the Michigan/Wisconsin situation, and one in L.A. run by Melissa Ivey (who's living there now.) And one here in NY by myself. I'd probably try to figure out a good contact in S.F. too, but haven't gotten that far. Anyway, establishing this network and then having this network establish their own networks of theaters strikes me as a possible first step. Agreed?
This network shall be incentivized (I hate that word, but had fun using it in this context) by profit. I estimate for each show they could earn $300-$1000 per theater (depending on the venue) at $1 per head (roughly 10% of the company profit goal.) Obviously the amount of theaters contacted can exponentially increase the take. $5000 per show could easily be available for very little relative time and effort on part of the network affiliate.
2. Next financing (or maybe this should be first? Yes, totally, network establishment comes later.) I contact New Belgium. I will draft letter tomorrow. I'll send letter directly to Matt Kowal first. I'll mention the idea about carbon footprint reduction via keeping the show off the road as per your suggestion. Anything else you would add? Should I just mention the rough idea for now? Or should I start talking deals at this point? Like what I would like us to do for each other? I'm thinking they pay in advance to rent the theaters, foot the advertising and produce the first 7 shows. (With the goal of doing at least 7 shows in 2017) In return they would be the sole sponsor of the series with prime ad placement before and after the concerts. I would ask for Matt to be a mentor. And they could even help build the network of theaters. I would also emphasize the fact to them that initial investment would be returned upon successful completion of each show.
3.  Once we have financing in place, plan and book 7-12 concerts for 2017. I'm going to make a list now. This is just for starters. I'll probably have to approach 50 artists to book 7 finalists. But here's a wishlist anyway. And please feel free to add more.

     a. Yo La Tengo playing live soundtrack to Jean Painleve films. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sounds_of_the_Sounds_of_Science
     b. XTC living room (or fireside) concert. I would leave the pitch to Partridge up to you in this case, if you wanted to (and had the time!)
     c. Devotchka doing whatever they want. Some kind of collaboration with Cirque de Soleil? Their own performance network? I might suggest a live soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine followed by another hour of concert with live performance art. (Do you think the live soundtrack thing could work?)
      d. Thurston Moore doing anything. (This one is probably attainable as he is a friend of friend now.)
      e. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings Christmas Special : )

Okay, that's the idea, shows that could hopefully fill 300-1000 seat theaters with good promotion.
Big question. Is there any reason you can think of why I shouldn't go for larger stadium-size names? But still aiming for small theater runs? (With the basic logic that a hundred small theaters should make up a few stadiums worth of payout.) Here's some possible examples in this market.

       e. Neil Young re-creating (re-imagining) soundtrack to Dead Man. (Somehow I think both Young and Jarmusch would love this idea.)
      f. Star Wars, John Williams. Live. The rights are probably a bear, but doesn't hurt to try?
       g. Dylan doing anything. Again, why not ask?
       (Oh my god, I just thought of a great name for this project.SOUND&VISION. A perfect tribute to the master, and a good descriptive name for the concept. Maybe it's been too used up already by other companies. We could always alter it in some clever way, which would also help for URL purposes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoDamvrfUbQ -Bowie singing it for inspiration. I had also thought about calling this company D Note Presents. Thoughts?)

        h. Jack White doing anything. Collaborate on ideas.
        i. Thurston Moore doing anything. (This one is probably attainable as he is a friend of friend now.)
        j.  Paul McCartney doing anything. (Does New Belgium have that kind of budget? Remind me to go to Dale's next if New Belgium doesn't bite.)
         k. Beck doing whatever he wants.
         l. Radiohead, ditto

So what do you think? Should I go big in my pitch to New Belgium? Or should I go for cool but more obscure 1000 seat theater stuff like Yo La Tengo, and XTC
Okay, so I'll start letter to Kowal tomorrow. I'll run it by you before I send if you are up for the job of coach & consultant.