Friday, July 25, 2014
Here are a couple initial illustrations by Victoria Kabluyen, created to accompany my upcoming mystery-thriller novel Arisugawa Park. I am also blogging a bit on the background of this long-awaited novel.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Two months of writing in Vegas is crazy.
not because I did anything, but because of what I didn’t do,
To practice virtuosity one must with restraint
Completely in the flow as a writer
and I tell you Las Vegas is bedrock, functional.
I am like a tamed beast,
watching with locals the tourists experiencing the flair
These places are like forgotten, forgotten relics of a mechanical past,
streets here on the Strip are eight-lane freeways––
I am lost a pedestrian out in the wilderness,
timing my movements to shadows.
The earth will swallow me up on my way to the Rio.
The bum asks me for water and I give him my last half cup
of mostly ice and trickles of life-saving water.
It is so hot under the sun under the sycamores by the freeway,
that his soul might perish before he found the shore.
Vegas, always Vegas. This city Vast. It is America, but it isn’t.
It is the America that always welcomes.
Vegas is a turning point, a flash point, a mob.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
I'm posting this poem from Earth Fabric because it relates to an article "Nick Drake’s Road: An Appreciation of a 1971 Folk Classic" I published recently in Medium.
April Jardine Limuran
April Jardine Limuran & Nils Sens (Photoshop)
April Jardine Limuran
In the Clearing
There is no clearing, the jungle is overpowering
with elephant shriek and trumpet moan,
the man, the dream, the cunning child
closed in, convoluted
The dreaming world, the beach
the screams through the thicket
piercing horror and never ending
Cries that reverberate and remind us just how
insignificant is our colony, how
transient and unnecessary––
we are not moving toward the harbor,
we are not shifting with the sun
But if we allow the darkness to run inside us
and the labyrinthine shadows to form in our soul
then maybe we are in the clearing, home.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Cry and refrain, and musical mimicry, creates works of art with cross-cultural pollination. Sympatique art where people actually converse and listen. Let’s call it jazz, let’s call it rock, lets call it street-sampled beats. Whatever works, douse it with hot sauce and cut it with vinegar. Throw it on the grill. Crack a little pepper, squeeze a little lime. “Spill the wine, take that pearl.” Eat it, chicken bones and all. Harmony, the Ancient Greeks called it––the bastard offspring of love and war.
My life is a little about living jazz, because my uncle Bob (a DJ and poet of sorts) pointed me in that direction. Naturally, jazz is not simply about jazz music. Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is jazz because he is with his musicians. He played a few chords and refrains and then said stretch it man, you are buskers, are bluesmen and jongleurs. Are the shit. But realize that this is all part of the blues. And we all know the blues.
To get at this concept, the rite of passage concept that is music, take Van Morisson’s “Beside You.” In the 1966 Bang session, Van is accompanied by his put-together band of New York studio musicians who have a kind of Dylan Hawks-era greased lightning thing going. The sound is boxcar Memphis South, infused with traces of Van’s gaelic roots. The R&B base and beat hard and steady, the sparse swirling Hammond B3 painting a picture of cobbled streets pattered with rain. The song gradually transcends narrow, European confines and becomes a roaming song, a leap of faith and wonder into a pasture in the fabled countryside where storied Bluesmen roam, and a mythical remembered love exists––
To wander past your window in the nighttime cross the floor
Crying as ecstasy surrounds you
Through the night air your proud time is open
Go well against the pointed idle breeze
In the night you cry and you want spirits to tell you
Go ahead and do it one more time baby
You're satisfied I guess, you're way up and the sky comes down
Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway,
For the freedom of it.
And you take the night air through your nostrils and you breathe
In out, in out
And you breathe just like that, just like that
The 1968 Astral Weeks version of “Beside You” is altogether a different beast. It is about the jazz and “freedom of it” that have now fully seeped into Van’s work. Little plucks of acoustic guitar and ethereal vibes set the scene. Not a questing sound of anguish, with every sound annunciated to its tip-of-explosion adolescent peak. No more “in my room” teenage yearning and spurting glops of self-love. The music depicts a moment in which women become much more than versions of oneself, where they are the essence of earth and decision. The rite of passage has been completed, the joint passed, and man and a woman are part of the same entity, two incorporeal halves. Music that is part of the process of Aquarius learning, never quite completed but still aching like a heartstring. Jefferson Airplane’s “Coming Back to Me,” Jerry Garcia’s “To Lay Me Down,” The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset." Well worn Turkish patterned rug on a wooden slat floor of a Victorian house in San Francisco. The original Hippy realization that we are all distinct, all part of one orgasmus.
It is the late 1960s, everything is coming into being in a vast wave of human potential before crime and high rents hit like a heart attack. Before Van Morrison puts his “Hard Nose To The Highway” and becomes a blues curmudgeon. Astral Weeks is a great album that I am still processing. One of my mom’s favorites (in her younger years) that was for many years alien to me. And one of the albums that apparently emanated out of VW caravans along the hippy trail in Kashmir, Goa. Our paths have now converged and passed, as they often do. And I am listening with something akin to wonder––