Anonymous Within Bright Lights, Big City

Anonymous Within Bright Lights, Big City

Gary Clark Jr. is one of those guitarists other guitarists, and musicians in general, just love. Just love to be on stage with. Born in Austin, Texas, in 1984, he quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest guitar players of his generation. In 2011, Rolling Stone named him “Best Young Gun.” Extreme skills on that instrument, even after some 60 years of Rock N Roll, still carry a great deal of weight. And when they’re Bluesy and Root’s based, they tend to garner even more respect.

 

The lyrics for the above song, from his 2012 album, Blak and Blu, seem to contest their own ground, with an ironic subtext of famous people singing about anonymity, demanding to be known by name, assuring they will before the night is through. The cool confidence and self-assured performance deepens this contradiction, and the edgy belief in the power of one’s own skills cuts across many realms.

The protagonist … Click to continue . . .

Bokeh: The Blur Before and After

Bokeh: The Blur Before and After

Directed by Geoffrey Orthwein and Andrew Sullivan, Bokeh is a beautifully understated Sci-Fi movie about the last two humans and what life might mean in that end of days context.

Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O’Leary), a young couple from America, take a romantic trip of a lifetime to Iceland, and only the first day is “normal.” Deep into that first night, Jenai wakes up, goes over to the hotel window, sees what looks like the Aurora Borealis, and then a flash of light that spreads across the screen. She goes back to sleep. The next day, as they walk through town, she and Riley quickly learn everyone else has disappeared. There are no humans, anywhere, just the beautiful Icelandic landscape of mountains, springs, waterfalls, flowers and empty homes and stores.

They do many of the things you’d expect. They go from store to store to get tools, water, food and other essentials. They take two SUVs so they … Click to continue . . .

The Parable of the I

The Parable of the I

Tilted Gardens

Brains trick us. Not just those who use them, and use them carefully, creatively. Those who never use them are tricked too. We see things not as they are, but as our minds want us to see them. This provides a great deal of amusement for our brains, which is their sole reason for existing anyway. We seriously amuse them; they love this about us; and they tolerate us because of that. Take away our comedic efforts, and they’d shut us down in a heartbeat. For that matter, they’d shut down our hearts, too.

I love taking pictures of that exact moment in time when our brains are trying to pull a fast one on us, translating, as mentioned, what is into what they want us to see. Ironically, as amazing as our minds are, they’re not really as sophisticated as they’d like us to think, because we can — at least I can — catch them off … Click to continue . . .

New Poetry by Natalie Crick

New Poetry by Natalie Crick

Sundown

 

That deluge of haze
Just before sundown.

Spring shakes Winter’s hand
Goodbye.

Now the day has truly gone.

Street lamps glow
A sodium pink

When blue milk pacifies,
The copper moon sliding up a sleeve of glass,

Her luminous lake
Drowning the city,

A black felt hat against
Heaven’s empty dome.

An indigo deer slips back
Through the shadow of night-green cedar,

Loving,
Teasing with promise.
I could not look away.

___

 

At the End of Autumn

 

I once watched you ripen like a grape
In the sun’s punishing heat,
Soaking blood into cloth,
Leaves spread under flames,
Flowers brown corpses
Floating face down,
Lilies deformed
Of billowing tongue.
Night fell down
Thicker and faster,
A purpling sky,
Secrets all bleeding,
The mouth of December
Robed in the cold crawl of it.
Then white noise.
Every cherry-tree skeleton
Aching for shelter,

All in wet catharsis.
I long for the cold harps of Autumn.

___

 

Turned Click to continue . . .

Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind

 

So, I’m up in the mountains again, and I’m reading Wallace Stevens — reading about him, reading his poems. I take music with me, listen to it before and after the readings. It’s very windy on the top of the mountain. Actually, the winds are ferocious at times. Merciless. And because I heard the Rod Stewart song in the car before I went to my place, my perfect spot, near the beautiful jagged rocks and the vulnerable pine trees, I hear the mandolin notes in that wind. They’re everywhere, including on the page. I see them dance around on the white pages of the biography and the collected poems, along with the wind that won’t let those pages be . . . still.

One must almost lose the mind of winter in order to feel the mandolin notes in that way, as a call to spring, to the past, to memories of that past. Melancholy … Click to continue . . .

Donal Mahoney: New Short Fiction

Donal Mahoney: New Short Fiction

Doing Laundry on a Farm in the Fifties

 

Grandma Gretchen’s in her rocker and she has something to say.

She tells a visitor, a young man from the city, if he plans to write a book about life on a farm in the Fifties, he likely has a lot to learn. She knows about that life because she was there. She says he needs to know about the little things as well as the big things if the book is going to be accurate.

For example, she says for him to understand that culture, he needs to know how laundry was done back then. This was before electric washers and dryers became popular. And he needs to understand why some farm wives today still use a ringer washer to do their laundry, usually on a Monday if the weather is nice.

The visitor agrees. So as he and Grandma sip strong coffee and nibble on scones from yesterday, Grandma … Click to continue . . .

MUNA: Lay Down Your Weapon

MUNA: Lay Down Your Weapon

The young are lucky in so many ways. They haven’t seen too many expressions of youth. They haven’t passed through the labyrinth yet, looked back on their younger years, looked back on it again and again. If they try — better yet, if they don’t — they can be who they are, who they really are inside, without being crushed by the world and the idea that it’s all been done before. It has. Kinda. But not really. It hasn’t until they’ve spoken. Until they’ve sung. Year after year, it’s always new for the young. For another generation to take its turn falling through, running through, walking through the labyrinth.

But for some young people, it’s not just the usual obstacles. It’s breaking free of societal constraints, of stupidly absurd and arbitrary constraints, above and beyond the usual stupidly absurd and arbitrary constraints hurled at the young by the old at heart. For reasons that defy all reason, and all … Click to continue . . .

More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

Some quick comments upon further reading . . .

Franz Kafka

The author brings in Kafka’s own battle with his father, as I thought he would, discussing both his famous letter to his father and his short story, The Judgment. And he makes the connection work well between this and the family dramas of the rest of the Frankfurt school. But he adds a fascinating twist. Jeffries talks about Eric Fromm’s interest in Bachofen:

“As an adult, Fromm became steeped in the work of the nineteenth-century Swiss Lutheran jurist Johan Jacob Bachofen, whose 1861 book Mother Right and the Origins of Religion provided the first challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy that patriarchal society represented a natural state of affairs, and thereby validated capitalism, oppression and male hegemony, as Fromm’s biographer Lawrence Friedman argues. Reading Bachofen also encouraged Fromm to reflect that the mother-child bond was the root of social life and that in a matriarchal society there was no … Click to continue . . .