Sunday, August 28, 2011

really should be leaving but I stay...

Small interludes, veering from place to place and mood to mood, unable to truly connect, and finding momentary peace in pews with a coffee mug in hand and in front of canvas, coloring in shapes, wondering why I keep returning to the same shades when I want something different. Maybe it was the glass of wine that had me admit to a table of relatives that sometimes I feel like I'm stuck, not that I mind where I'm at, but it's that sense of never being able to transcend it that is starting to sink in, while wondering if it even matters.

It's where I'm at I guess, wondering why if the feeling of being in a rut is just a feeling or if it's truth. It's not that I liked it when everything was changing and in a state slightly more organized than total chaos, but the routine, the structures immovable, something about it is getting to me.

Some talk of moving, of starting over, but one can't undo what's been done, unhappiness is as natural occurrence here as anywhere, things left behind will inevitably recur because no matter where you go, you bring with it who you are, for better or worse. Maybe I'm jealous that I'm too rooted and afraid. I don't know.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the soul is tired and I want to go home

Surrounded by piles of paper, of misdeeds done and handshakes by men who play dirty and remain in power though dirty tricks and apathy. Rather than the stained glass and soaring spires that visually sooth my aching soul, instead it's clippings and sterile city records, a mounting pile of evidence blatant. Men in suits with big smiles and a way with looking like they care about us.

And you wonder why I've been more surly recently. Both parties steal from the poor to feed the rich who are we kidding, but go on, put your hopes on some mere mortal or another, play your partisan cards, they'll work great at that new casino that'll save the city, those platitudes that will save the country, we're all losers in one way or another.

And you ask what I think not knowing the can of worms you've just opened. You really don't want to know. I don't believe that any of us can save the world, we're unable to save ourselves, we don't want to be saved, and we're fooling ourselves to think we can truly save others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

welcome to the occupation

We the Peonage endeavored to traverse downtown to see Public Square, known officially but never called "Monumental Park," transformed into something quite Germanic. One of my friends jokes about us being a theme park for New Yorkers, and more or less we're the rust belt equivalent of Liechtenstein, though conceivably for budgetary purposes, it was cheaper to build a fake beer garden and append signage in front of Tower City Mall instead of jetting to a more scenic locale.

The transformation of the familiar into Destructed-Epcot-Lite was surreal to say the least, with the barricades keeping the masses from sullying the red carpet, and this must be how it feels to be invaded and colonized by another country. Life goes on, but it's different, and in this case, it's well dressed strangers and their hangers-on, who make business deals with our overlords while the masses have to rearrange, who doubtless mock the backwardness and provinciality of the natives.

Sadly, this doesn't look all that different from the everyday.

Articles agreed vppon by the lordes and other of the Quenes Maiesties pryuy counsayle, for a reformation of their seruauntes in certayne abuses of apparell thereby to gyue example to al other lordes, noble men and gentlemen.

is more adept with the snarky commentary on the scenery, but as the female half of the Peonage, I was quite amused when a gaggle of Bright Young Things exited the hotel by Playhouse Square declared us "Fashion Disasters," because high school never really does end, it's just that the Brightest Young Things migrate to Happening Places leaving the lesser Bright Young Things to be big fish in small ponds joining the political machines or networking their way to some degree of power) and all of us lower in the pecking order who never expected much and are to some degree content.

I don't know what's acceptable for men these days, but I'm sure that my lack of brand name jewelry, clothing, handbag or shoes, didn't pass muster with people who have nothing else to do but their nails and hair. I might be a fashion disaster to those on either coast, but it's better than being a victim, maybe.

But being that I come from humble means in a humble city, having grown up in sartorially challenged Parmastan and eventually finding a style later in life than others, I find this amusing to the highest degree. All existential angst aside, my life is pretty awesome, I hang out and work with some pretty awesome people, and there's no pressure to be anything. We're the city of slackers and lovable losers, who love our tragic sports teams and grandparents' food. It's not a bad place to be.

Monday, August 22, 2011

some of us just rust...

Back to the daily grind and a pile of workish emails to go through waiting for the caffeine to kick in after a weekend of anything but the monotony, of what felt like the last chance at a summer vacation, spending the last day riding my bike to the lake to sit on the rocks and walk on the beach, read books on the front porch, make food for the week with the harvest of the garden.

The coffee is bitter without the accompanying conversation, smiling a a reflex, knowing that my face betrays most emotion, trying to laugh at the irony, observing the absurdity and going through withdrawal with the art center being closed this week, wanting to get outside, get out of here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

isla de encanta

Drove up after work just in time for the sunset, walked to the parking lot at the tip of the island by the ferry to watch the red sun dive into the blue water, as a fellow photographer showed us supposed UFOs in the sunset on his iPhone and we gazed in wonder at the swirl of pink and grey clouds uncommonly curvy like Rembrandt models or Georgia O'Keefe paintings.

There was some terrible music coming from the bar up the street and so we decided to investigate and seeing that the Indians/White Sox game was on, my dad and I split a beer, watching the game, and observed the antics of our fellow tourist weekenders. The sound was so loud that we could hear it all the way across the island clearly and the revelers were yelling over the music about the last casinos they visited and talking about WHAT A REALLY GOOD TIME WE'RE ALL HAVING. Some really spacy girl told us she was totally glad that we showed up at this totally awesome party and we both looked confused, because it's just a bar patio full of total strangers with suntans drinking but decided that there would be amusement to be had here.

The singer had karaoke arrangements of 70's and 80's hits and was in the middle of a drunkenly synthesized rendition of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" complete with out of key keyboard lines over the prerecorded tinniness. It was like karaoke night with minimal musical accompaniment and enthusiasm that was no subsitute for the lack of real talent, though no one there seemed to mind and were dancing around to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." He was unsurprisingly decked out in a bright blue Hawaiian shirt and seashell necklace jumping up and down and really getting into it in between talking about how awesome MTV used to be and who his favorite VJs were and his day job which somehow involves the IRS.

My hopes of sitting out on the breakwall under the stars listening to the waves were dashed by continued covers of Black Eyed Peas songs filtering through the trees, but eventually they stopped, and we built a fire and sat out there awhile talking about stuff until we all got tired.

It felt good to sleep in, spend the day in total relaxation, no phone calls, no email, no drama, just sleeping under the trees lulled by the water and the symphonic drone of summer insects, eating peaches, reading Christine de Pizan and Walker Percy, watching great blue herons glide past and clearing my head from all the clatter and chaos of the last few months.

My sister and her family unit came later, and I got to babytalk to the nephew and hang out before heading back debating whether or not I wanted to be introverted or see Jucifer play down the street and opted for the former. It was good to be away, and it's good to have returned. I needed the solitude, needed to contemplate, to cry out to God and try to listen for the intangible yet so real response that keeps my soul alive and from not slipping into total despair at what I see or total distraction to pretend that what I see isn't there. Part of the getaway, the escape, is trying to figure out how to return to the daily grind.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

24 hours

is all I need to get away from the madding crowd, watch some sunsets and sunrises, take photos, read and journal by the lake, drink tea, sleep. More epic vacation plans deferred like most things but this will be sufficient. I'm leaving with a now-repaired sink, a jar of sunflowers on the table since the 8 foot tall plant collapsed like a tower of building blocks in the front yard, returning for late night live music and random Saturdayness. Long weekends are a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

what to say

Serendipitously catching the bus home that drops me off at the end of my street in the almost-hood, enjoying the ride instead of running to catch one and then the other. I'm trying to drive less, walk and bike more, but being female and living in the city complicates that as the days get shorter and the sun goes down sooner.

The stars and clouds over my corner of the world on the balcony, the streetlights and the aural texture of cricket chirps and circling airplanes. So many strands of reverberating conversations, or synapses connecting and crossed signals and dead air of not knowing what to say, and of holding back because so often I've said too much in the past, so many relationships ended in an entropic mutual destruction and when I think of all the tangled mess of lives intermingled, of past history and diametrical opposition, I've given up all hope for us and cling to strands of faith, shards of understood truths made so hard to by the infinite factors, hoping for something greater than me to reverberate for the world, because it's all so beyond anything I can get my head around.

best of the blotter: hootenanies, stoners, and strange fireballs


SUSPICIOUS CONDITION, SCHWARTZ ROAD: Police received a report on Aug. 6 from a nearby resident about two carloads of “illegal immigrants” at the east end of the park who were changing clothes in plain sight, acting in an intimidating manner and who the caller thought were preparing to have some kind of “hootenanny.” Police arrived on the scene to find the suspects were preparing to play a soccer game. They were advised about changing in plain sight.


CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, SHOPPING PLAZA: A worker with the Village Service Department reported at daybreak on Aug. 11 that there was “extensive graffiti on the walls and pavement at the shopping center.” But officials soon discovered that everything had been done in chalk, including peace signs, as well as recommendations to “recycle” and “thaw out.” There was also at least one body outline in chalk on the pavement, as well as a door drawn to the “Chalk Zone.” A hose quickly dispatched all of the handiwork of the temporary taggers.


WARRANT/UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT, AURORA ROAD: A warrant was issued Aug. 10 for a Solon man, 52, following an incident four days earlier in the checkout line at the Solar Center Giant Eagle, where a man unknown to a cashier, 19, became “flirtatious“ with her, saying he wanted to take her to Las Vegas with him.

He then took some time to direct racial comments at a customer behind him in line, then put his arms around the cashier and kissed her on the neck. She told him she couldn’t go with him because she would get fired, but when she reached back to get a carton of eggs he had apparently left behind, he attempted to physically pick her up, telling her “My jets are waiting.”

Then he was gone, but these tender moments were preserved on in-store security cameras, which led to the man’s identity being detected and the warrant being issued. As of Aug. 16, the suspect had yet to turn himself in.

OVI/POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA (MEDICINAL); U.S. ALT. 422: When police pulled over a Los Angeles woman, 29, for driving westbound at 81 mph on the 60-mph freeway just after 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, she was detained for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, but she kept asking about her marijuana, saying she wanted it back.

What police found was a container of Jolly Ranchers candy with a label that said “Contains Cannabis — For Medical Use Only.” The Jolly Ranchers were confiscated although the woman claimed she had a prescription for them, which police said they were still waiting to see before releasing them to her.

The woman registered a .067 BAC on the Breathalyzer, which is below the legal limit of .08, although the charges against her still allege she was impaired.

MARIJUANA, N. COURT STREET: A 24-year-old Medina man was pulled over at Taco Bell, on North Court Street, for driving without headlights at 2:23 a.m. Aug. 6.

Upon further investigation, police discovered that the man was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was also allegedly in possession of marijuana. He was arrested and charged.

MARIJUANA PLANTS FOUND, WHITEHALL DRIVE: A 4-foot-tall marijuana plant was found Aug. 8 in the rear of a house in the first block of Whitehall, next to a house in the 500 block of Prospect Street. The owner of the house said the plant was not his and might be a prank by neighbors.

HARASSMENT, SONTEY POINT DRIVE: An anonymous resident left a letter in a caller’s mailbox regarding the condition of the caller’s house on Aug. 11.

The caller explained that the letter, which had been typed, derided the condition of the caller’s house. The author of the letter hinted at the fact that he or she was trying to sell his or her own house. The author also explained that he or she does not like the caller’s blue shutters or the blue tarp that is used along the back patio.

The caller was advised that this is not a criminal act, but that it is rude.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT, FAIRGROUNDS: Police on Aug. 13 arrested a 29-year-old North Olmsted man during a concert at the county fairgrounds. Police took the man from the grandstands because he would not obey orders to leave the grandstands, where he had flicked a cigarette into a person’s hand.

While being arrested, the man told police he wanted to wear his hat because it was “a space helmet used for time travel.” The man also told police he was Jesus.

SPOILED SUNSET, PARKING DECK: Police found a juvenile girl sitting in the top-level corner of the parking deck on E. Liberty Street, around 9:15 p.m. Aug. 1. The girl said she was listening to music and watching the sunset. Officers, who thought she may have run away from home, called her parents and they came and picked her up.

FISHY SITUATION, RETREAT DRIVE: A 58-year-old man reported that someone left two bags of dead fish on the front lawn of his property.

One of the bags had a note attached to it, which read: “Clean up your lake.”

The assumption is that this action is related to ongoing negotiations between the homeowners association and Burgundy Bay — a neighborhood located across the lake to the west of Retreat Drive. The resident suspects that the person who did this is an opponent of the merger.

No further evidence was available.

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION, ABIGAIL LANE: In the late hours of Aug. 6, an anonymous caller reported a very loud party taking place at a residence on the street. The caller said that the people were shooting “strange fireballs” into the air and that the whole situation seemed very unsafe.

An officer arrived at the scene and spoke with someone at the residence in question. The resident explained that he and his family and friends were having a graduation party and that they had shot off a few fireworks. He told the officer that the party would be going inside for the night.

WADSWORTH ROAD: A pink battery-powered Barbie jeep was stolen from a Wadsworth Road residence between 9 p.m., Aug. 8, and 8:30 a.m., Aug. 9.

The jeep was in the backyard during the time of the theft. The value of the jeep was not known. Police have not identified any suspects.

SPRAY PAINT, S. BROADWAY STREET: Assailants used silver spray paint to damage several properties along South Broadway Street on Aug. 9.

The suspects spray painted the taillights and trunk of a car, which was parked in the 600 block of South Broadway.

The assailants also wrote “SAINTS” on a tree in the yard. Down the road, another vehicle was spray painted on the passenger side. On the corner of Broadway and Grant streets, police also found silver spray paint on a street sign, fire hydrant and the pavement.

The suspects had again written “SAINTS,“ this time on the road in the 100 block of Grant. Two other South Broadway residents reported spray paint damage to outdoor signs at their homes. No arrests have been made.

Monday, August 15, 2011

eclecticism and elitism

So at the guitar shop this weekend, I went to buy a cord for my amplifier so I can play at home again, and fell in love with a cheap mandolin but didn't have cash on me to take it home. I still want an upright bass, but due to cost and transport it's not feasible at this point in life.

Being as I look slightly more normal than I once did, and was interested in acoustic instruments (as the vintage Fenders and Gibsons on the wall are pricy and I've already got a serviceable electric guitar), it was assumed by the other people in the store that I'm into bluegrass, a genre I like to some extent (though the vocals get to be a bit much), but is only a facet of what I like. I didn't bother trying to explain to these total face-value judging strangers the extent of taste, especially when one of them started talking about the Beatles being the greatest of all time and how all punk bands were not as good as them. Whatever.

I've ended up at countless shows where I've seen someone I know and they say "oh, I didn't know you were into this kind of thing," because I didn't dress to fit the scene, maybe, my hair was the wrong length or I didn't wear enough makeup, or it was just assumed that if I was into Band A, I probably wouldn't be into Band B when I didn't know or care that such binaries existed. Given that subculture is inherently tribal, these kinds of things matter to some people, and maybe it once mattered to me more than it should have, but I'm to the point where I don't care as much, but I don't like having my enjoyment of something questioned just because I don't fit within its attendant paradigm.

I do a freeform show because I can't mentally limit myself to one strain of sound, though most things seem to be guitar-driven in one way or another, and sometimes it works to segue from one thing to another. I know I missed out on a lot of great sounds or other things because they didn't fit a preconceived idea of what was good or bad. I play a lot of stuff in languages that aren't English simply because I know they're not being played in other places, but I like to mix other things in too. Some seem to have a problem with that, but the people who call in or tell me they tuned in after the fact don't seem to mind, though others seem disoriented by my tendency to cherrypick.

But I've always liked what I've liked, for whatever reason. It has to move me somehow, make me hit repeat, evoke some kind of feeling or catharsis. Where that comes from I can't say, and I've learned it's better not to try.

I've said it before, but if this doesn't define what I do, nothing else does...

Ragga, Bhangra, two-step Tanga
Mini-cab radio, music on the go
Um, surfbeat, backbeat, frontbeat, backseat
There's a bunch of players and they're really letting go
We got, Brit pop, hip hop, rockabilly, Lindy hop
Gaelic heavy metal fans fighting in the road
Ah, Sunday boozers for chewing gum users
They got a crazy D.J. and she's really letting go

melvins mondays

Despite my frustration with certain aspects of being Peonage, I do like that I can now do my work with the accompaniment of such Batcave-friendly sounds like King Buzzo and friends. And I got to go through files relating to shady city politics and mobsters. And with coffee. Not too bad.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

blues and greys

A phone call from a fellow DJ in need of a fillin means I'm playing reggae and world music here at the station and looking out the window at the swirl of blues and greys over the stark silhouettes of factory smokestacks and church spires. I wish I was out there with the camera but instead I'm providing West African guitar intricacies and apocalyptic roots reggae for the masses as the sky darkens and the rain begins again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Clocking out and driving to the east side to hang out with good people, wander through Coventry, converging to walk down the hill, Tangerine and the Marquess connecting quickly, me and Muk catching up since it's been a couple months and we've both had a lot going on. "It could be a little warmer," he says, nostalgic for warmer climes, but the weather is perfect for me, the perfect balance of sun and breeze, the crowds of people in the street below and despite the vast majority of whiteness, no hassle for our mixed company.

We get food and wander around, relaxed and a bit tired from long days of work, taking in the smells of grease and marinara, the guidos and bright young things, marveling at the imminent dangers of carnival rides near trees and power lines and laughing at the snarky casino runners and the sign for Holy Rosary Fried Dough, before walking up the hill past the cemetery joking about the free fill dirt and Coventry flash mob teenage zombie apocalypse, hanging out in the street watching the kids two doors down sing Lady Gaga songs on the front porch until their parents tell them to shut up, zoning out on the couch in his apartment talking, eating oranges, listening to Nine Inch Nails.

I cleaned off some of my acrylic transfers tonight and did mundane life stuff like grocery shopping and errand-running and making sense of the jumble of accumulation in the apartment.

But I did get a bike ride in, rode through the streets past condos and kids playing in the park to watch the sunset and slow down to take in at least some of the day that was mostly spent running.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

safe places

Frustrations are undeniable but nothing beyond what I can bear, there are the small solaces of musical catharsis, of the pheromones of infant kin, the tender divine mercies that console even when the emotions overwhelm.

I'm still a bit melancholic, but it's the need of sleep, and at least my dwelling is a refuge from the drama, unlike last year, this a sanctuary, a place with cool breezes, a porch smelling of citronella, a room lowlit and infused with burning candles and incense and the intonations of chanted psalms. A time to meditate and seek refuge... at least there is some somewhere. My sunflowers bloom in the darkness, I know in spite of myself that my soul does too.

They sing while you slave and I just get bored.

Because some have nothing better to do with their time than micromanage in true Kafka meets Office Space form, amazing how condescension screams through the detachment of electronic communication, amazing that people care that much about stupid things, though perhaps in their world, things, especially monetary, generally mean more than people. Human resources are just that, something to be exploited to maximum potential until they're used up.

Well, he hands you a nickel,
He hands you a dime,
He asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time,
Then he fines you every time you slam the door.

And it's not that I'm unhappy, as things are overall good and even better than they were, but it's hard for me to suffer fools gladly especially those who make triple what I do who tell me that I'm so lucky and so wonderful until I'm not and then even the smallest misstep that no one will notice becomes the end of the world. I'll be working Maggie's Farm for a long time it seems under one person or another.

Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They sing while you slave and I just get bored.

I'd rather not be on the radar at all, the subject of no conversation, the recipient of no insincere accolades or unfounded criticism, and on my end, I'm flexible and work hard and do my best not to be passive-aggressive. I'll blame this absurdity on the Vodka Zeppelin floating around the skies of Our Fair City.

I don't mean to be so angry, but I'm already walking on eggshells and I'm clumsy. I pray to God that I don't become bitter, and seek solace in the beauty of wind and water, in the meantime thankful for glasses that hide the tears that are welling up because I'm tired and all this does is remind me of the other slights and condescension. I've been a legal adult for ten years now. I pay taxes and hold down a job just like you do. It'd be nice to be treated like one for a change.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Is it a shift of opinion or the sharpening of age, the dissolution of the idealism once held dear, the deepening of a spiritual understanding of the darkness of the human heart.

It's hard for me to be thrilled about change when the more history I read, the more I see, it seems like a constant cycle of rise and fall rise and fall, just a new face in charge who talks a good game sometimes while the same games of power are played. Nothing new under the sun as long as this sun lights the earth and keeps it in inertia. Those who lust for power will say what they need to say and trample who they need to trample.

I've been going through old newspaper clippings at work, seeing that the same Powers That Be that rob us now were doing so as long as I've been alive if not longer, or carrying on the proud tradition of sweet talk and stealing in a suit, knowing that name recognition and party line go a long way to further rank incompetence.

I don't know where I fit on the spectrum anymore as I can't believe in either party line. You can talk all you want about saving babies or helping those in poverty, but since neither vote or donate big money to political campaigns, you don't care that much. We talk about cutting the budget, but no one wants to touch the amount of money we use to fight how many wars, how many proxy wars, how many people on the other side of the world that get killed to make us feel safer and secure. I don't believe anything's secure in this world, but then again I live in the almost-hood and divine intervention so I don't lose sleep over terrorists or much else unless I hear gunfire down the street and it wakes me up. That's kind of different.

I heard a song by Sublime on the radio on the way home from work that reminded me of parties in college and everyone singing the line about killing cops even though we were all way too young to really understand riots in Los Angeles or Rodney King. Riot on the streets, a teen-age riot, a riot of my own, and so on so romanticized. Nowell's singing about looting a store for its furniture, stealing guitars and sound equipment because the cops suck. Ironic that the the protesters in Egypt look at the Londoners acting a fool and asking why everyone's setting fires and stealing stuff if it's really about the unfairness. One man's greed enacted in a time of opportunism comes from the same root as the corporations one rails against.

The logic here is ridiculous, and I think about all the struggling store owners who lose when things like this happen, especially in communities of immigrants who often get hit the hardest because suddenly xenophobia has an outlet. If you're going to fight capitalism, there's other battles that don't hurt the average schmuck nearly as much.

As the threads of an already dysfunctional society unravel, the glamour of the masses rising up is replaced with a sense of something not quite acquiescence or fear, maybe a deeper suspicion of the motivations of not just the Powers That Be, but the people on the streets as well. Watching the way that fights break out in the middle of the street over nothing, seeing the melee on St. Patrick's Day, and knowing that this is nothing, since there are no weapons, no guns shot or clubs pounding either by the police or the rest of the people. I don't try to find a moral high ground, I just try to get through the mess to a place of peace.

I don't know what the answer is, but I don't like the answers that I'm being given. To do nothing is easy to do and often wrong, but often how good or beneficial is it to do something just because it's something to do?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We the Female Peonage concluded yesterday that it would be a most excellent idea to attend the fair in our fair county, as neither of us had seen a demolition derby, admission was a dollar with a canned good, and the bright lights, fabulous people-watching, and aromatic greasy food was to be had.

As the Marquess is a better planner than yours truly, she had a bag of donated items that merited dollar bills from the rest of the masses in line with us and inevitably ran quite the hustle.

We covered quite a bit of ground, feeling bad for the ponies doomed to equestrian Dante-ish fates of walking in circles for hours carrying small children, watched a bemulleted cover band play hits from the 60's, wondered why people collect such random things and display them at the fair, and chortled at the promised exotic delectables that, according to the website, are straunge and unusual dishes not to be found easily in Clevelandia. Maybe it's that I grew up certain ethnic in Parmastan, but judge for yourself, denizens of the rust belt, if these sundry delights are as obscure as birds' nest stews and potions of dragon's tongue.

The livestock were many and while I went down on a frequent basis to the southern part of the state where my relatives have farms, in true city slicker fashion I'm a bit skittish around animals bigger than me or that smell. My parents took me to a pig farm in Indiana when I was probably six years old and I remember smelling like pig just from being there, and it took my mom hours to wash that smell out of my hair. That and being scared of the bulls at my great aunts. Those things were mean, and so were the chickens, understandable since their overlords would eventually eat them. It makes sense.

Insert obligatory Alice in Chains reference here

The county fair makes you remember that yes you are in Ohio and no it's not like your almost-hood in Clevelandia or your concrete-towered place of peonage. The music is country and classic rock, not reggaeton, the t-shirts are emblazoned with Pantera and patriotism, not Tupac, though bad tattoos transcend all age, ethnicity, and culture. The tchotchkes sold are of the American Flag/Stars and Bars/"Native American"/Harley Davidson/Military/etc kind.

I get tired of and a bit creeped out by the hagiography and personality cult of the current president that I see around me but I was equally disconcerted by the number of stands and t-shirts selling bumper stickers about the president being a commie and how much illegals and people on welfare suck, and don't take away my guns. These were not really differences of policy issues, but a cultural againstness that I recognize yet don't quite understand.

I tend to get overanalytical even as I'm entertained, wondering what the the stories of the carnies are, wondering what the freak show girl twirling the snake thinks of the gawkers, wondering what the stories are, what people's lives are like when they're not on stage or trying to get you to throw darts at balloons.

Still, this made me laugh:

Punk rock birds

The obligatory Freemasons

Mechanical cows

Pop culture ephemerals

Lots of the carnie kids had tip jars for their college funds.

Gonna smash it up til there's nothing left...

Is the demolition derby the blue-collar equivalent to the the games played in Roman arenas, with the masses in the stands, the anticipation of chaos, the adrenaline surge of watching collisions, and the quasi-bloodlust exhibited when the tires have blown out and the engine is smoking and the crowd yells "hit him again!"

Pectorally exaggerated Robert Plant

People are strange when you're a stranger.

Rides of Spinny Doom

Pretty lights

But I had a great time, devoured a delicious flurry, savored the atmosphere of the fleeting, and was glad to get out on a weeknight to do something different for a change.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Housesitting the Awesome Kitties and the Jungle Puppy tonight and the cats have already made a great escape, sliding open the screen door with their claws while I was outside with the dog and sliding under the fence into the neighbor's garden. The quietness of the house made me suspicious especially after the clink of food in the bowls elicited no response and then the guy across the street came over to tell me that the cats were out running around.

Of course the little punks were sitting on the patio when I came back as if they'd been minding their own business all this time, giving me withering looks as I shooed one inside and the dog chased in the other. Cats have no conscience after all, and there's no way to make them feel guilty.

It's been almost a month straight of dog-walking and cat watching, which is nice for the change of scenery and thankfully I was able to escape to the lake for the day to read, nap under trees with the sound of the waves, and sing songs to my nephew when he cries because that's all he can do to express himself "I'm TEN WEEKS! and I don't know what I want...! He doubles in size every time I see him and it astounds me to see life grow like that, since I'm so used to seeing the decline rather than the ascent.

My little sister called me last night to see if I wanted to hang out, which never happens as our ideas of what's awesome to do on a weekend are a bit different, but she had a lot on her mind because one of her friends got murdered a couple weeks ago and her friends are moving to Portland and there's been other small frustrations that she needed to vent about over coffee in Coventry and a long Cleveland drive which I was more than happy to oblige because it's been awhile since I've done one, leaving Sonic Youth on repeat as we drove from west to east and back.

We ended the night at the Arabica I once haunted in my teens and early twenties when like most coffee establishments was full of subcultural souls and usually the guy working the counter was someone from your art class or something. It's now overrun with 14-year-olds who watch too much Jersey Shorechasing each other up the sidewalk, boys with cracking voices and girls in the shortest shorts I've ever seen tottering in high heels.

The motherly instincts I didn't know I had wanted to ask what they were doing out so late and why were they wearing that and where are their parents, but mostly for all the crazy that comes with knowing more of the world, I'm glad I'm not that age anymore, even though my Friday nights at that age involved trying to learn Soundgarden riffs and disappearing into my bedroom with a pile of CDs from the library and a stack of art supplies. It reminded me of the first weekend in Kent when fresh-faced freshman girls would go down to their first fraternity row college party and come back drunk with half their clothes gone. It probably starts earlier I guess, and with most things I seem to exemplify the exception rather than the rule.

And still, it's a Saturday night and I'm enjoying the solitude. It's been needed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I've got nothing hey but I'm a star

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."

In his chapter in 'The Four Loves," C.S. Lewis describes platonic friendship as a beautiful thing that is often derided and in some cases feared. When people discover common ground of one kind or another, it inevitably generates suspicion among one's overlords, especially when they do not recognize it for what it is.

"Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important.
... In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets... Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

As I'm now older and a cog in the machine, conforming to dress codes albeit relaxed ones and on my own terms and a semi-regular schedule, I thought that my days of being against The Proverbial Man were behind me, but it seems that acting like a normal human being, in the sense of consuming caffeine and having the pleasure of working with likeminded souls with whom compact discs and lengthy tomes are traded with regularity, is somehow threatening to the order of things, and I'm not even in the corporate world.

"For us of course the shared activity and therefore the companionship on which Friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting. It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our Friends. In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? - Or at least, "Do you care about the same truth?" The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer."

There's something wrong with people who obsess over money and networking and whose only interest outside of that is the minutiae of micromanagement, the toxic gossip of small minds, all done in a socially acceptable way. What's wrong with them? They don't buy into this. Someday when they're older and wiser like us they'll understand..."

It is supremely ironic that in a place dedicated to reading and study and the pursuit of knowledge, that the Powers That Be are often suspicious of these very things and the friendships forged along these lines, of people who read books that are neither pulp mysteries or primers on how to be rich, who listen to incomprehensible music, and follow news that has more to do with Central Asia and the Middle East than what so and so and whatserface is up to. The irony is astounding.

But hey, I've been here four years, others have been here longer, we still get along, and what better way to celebrate the absurdity of life but with some ephemeral Daria?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

refract and reflect

The drop in temperature is welcome, the rain picking up flecks of red light reflecting in puddles on the roof next door, the flickers of lightning, the thirsty garden watered.

I've been off-kilter the last couple days, a little more visibly cranky as opposed to the mercurial moodiness, brought on by the accumulation of small pet peeves and larger frustrations still minuscule in the great scheme of things. Tacky and catty women and pretentious wuss rockers are nothing compared to dealing with things that really suck, which is what the rest of the world has to deal with all the time.

But it's welcome to finally having a night of some degree of inspiration and time to execute after poring over piles of art books accumulating in the living room of gold covered icons and luminescent stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, architecture of Goa churches, and intricate jewelry from wilder parts of ancient Europe, not really sure why I've been inspired by the medieval and Arts and Crafts lately, maybe it's the abstraction and the richness in detail, the subject matter timeless, the intensity and translucence, the labors of love and sweat for patronage and devotion, great beauty made in dark and uncertain times.

Things have always been corrupt and lame and empires inevitably fall so I've checked out of the political debate, keeping up only enough to know what's going on but nothing more, because each side keeps blaming the other when both sides do the exact same thing especially when it comes to dealing with people on the other side of the world whose blood and lives are evidently considered less worthy than our own. My cousins are stocking up on silver and gold and I guess they have their reasons, but if the shit hits the fan, you can't eat it or wear it to stay warm or burn it for fuel. I don't know.

I've got three weeks left of enameling before the city moves that part of the arts center to the east side and the process of cleaning, scrubbing, filing off fire scale and sifting powders with names like 'flame' and 'wisteria' made of unknown quantities. After a few months of doing this, I can kind of figure out what I'm doing, but I don't do anything all that epic after the unsatisfying attempt at cloisonne, considering that beautiful and handmade Christmas gifts containing unknown amounts of lead and who knows what else may not be the best plan.

Theophilus in his 10th century text on the 'Divers Arts' describes the processes of metalworking, mixing paint, and constructing stained glass and enamelled pieces, and it was even more labor intensive, to keep the coals hot and the pieces melting at the right temperatures, making ones own bellows out of sheepskin and glue from the gooey bits of sturgeon and eel, pigments from mercury, sulphur, lead.

Being unvocationally trained and not affluent, I use canvases found in the closeout section of Marc's, Magic Markers to trace designs and fill in blank spaces. When mixed on gesso, spread by brush, they're forgiving and wonderful, especially when mixed with the wax of Prismacolor pencils. A late night tomorrow means finally getting to break out the acrylics. It's been too long.