Saturday, February 05, 2011

Churchyard of Kilmakader, County Kerry, Ireland

From JR Richardson's photos.


Ohio's state color? Lavender, apparently. 

Some may point out that Ohio's colors are red and gray, but apparently lavender is also a state color. 

Red, black, white are of course the colors of the flag of Egypt. I had changed my heading at the top of this blog to a quotation from T. S. Eliot's Little Gidding, the fourth of his Four Quartets:
Where is the summer, the unimaginable / Zero summer?
as a bit of a flippant response to this seemingly eternal winter (I have read that Eliot's 'Zero Summer' refers to the attainment of an eternal earthly Paradise state, or a hankering after the pre-Fall-of-Mankind summertime of the Garden of Eden).

Then I thought this morning after listening to further news from the BBC from Egypt, to change it to touch on the hoped-for fall of Mubarak. I had simply forgotten, if I ever knew, how Egypt's benevolent, pro-Western face was propped up internally with a vicious state security system, taking out teeth, fingernails and grudges at will.

One of my earliest memories is of a radio and a BBC voice intoning the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the last syllable of his name sounding to my little ears as if it ended with an abrupt, harsh gunshot.

I was raised in a household where the KJV Bible was read daily, and so I never remember not knowing the word, the name, Egypt, my associations with it less to do with Mummies and pyramids than with Moses, Aaron, and the lurid story of how they finally got the Israelites out of Egypt. For all the sweating and enduring the Children of Israel had to suffer, God was playing Pharaoh like a cool-headed, detached chess master, each move calculated for the next several, each plague another click-crank-click of the ratchet.

When the Red Sea parts, God's final rebuke to Pharaoh and his armies is, He "took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily"!

Egypt is throughout the Bible, both as a physical land, and as a metaphor for sin, backsliding, the world. Soon after the Israelites finally escape from Egypt, they start to backslide, doubt, and they moan:
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick.
This verse was an especial favorite of my father's, especially perhaps when my mother cooked up something unusual for mealtime.

Anyway, returning to the present time: I went with Exodus 7, verse 3, which in full reads:
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
I still think my favorite and most relevant headline for my blog was from Allan Ginsberg, in his poem, Howl:
now you're really in the total animal soup of time...

The Black Automaton

Douglas Kearney: a poet and artist with a genius for rhyme ("We brown boys play / stick games / Say / nicknames...") and an austere style for rendering acute and attenuated cityscapes. He riffs of off John Berryman at times! His new book: The Black Automaton.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It's That Time Again's time for Rameau's magic to work again! If this does not make you laugh, then it will make you feel strangely better. First brought to my attention by the inimitable, always disgraceful, Patrick Dillon. (At the back of the stage, yes, that is an enormous golden turkey ass). (Please forgive me if I have slapped you in the face with this little vignette from Rameau before).

Cleveland State University, late morning, February 3rd, 2011

Wednesday's snow, layered upon snow and ice, makes a most satisfying CRUNCH as it gives way underfoot. Conversely to the usual slipping and sliding, this terrain gives one a firm and steady foothold, almost as if the snow grips your foot and holds it in place...

Act As If He's Still Alive!

Mainstream America's Media (or should I say... Medea?) is revving up for a Reagan 100th anniversary head-bang. If you have you head screwed on, you'll know that Reagan's time in the big house was when America's working class began in earnest vote and worship in direct opposition to its own interests. (For right-wingers who say this sort of comment indicates a form of left wing snobbery towards how real voters really vote, just remember, you tend to say that about foreign (for example, Egyptian voters) electorates -- 'what if they elect extremists!?')

But still, I have to say I am amused by this: TIME magazine's anodyne cover suggesting Obama and Reagan like each other (note: Reagan is always in the present tense with his hagiographers, because he isn't really dead). Someone turned it around, quite amusingly, below.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cleveland, Tuesday February 1st, 2011

That's the YMCA on the left, and Trinity Cathedral on the right... and (perhaps) the J. Edgar Hoover Building in the middle?

 Blizzard raging outside.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What a Grate Idea!

From our friends at Irish Central comes a grate idea, see above. They could have gone one better, or, to put it more in the vernacular they're used to: "they could of gone one better," what Ireland really needs this election is a tea pot. Are their anny tee potts left in Eirland?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy January 38th

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before Him."

Yes, yes, yes, January 29th was my 38th birthday, and thank you to all of you friends and fiends who had written down the date in dog-eared diaries or well-thumbed journals, and then remembered to log in to Facebook to post birthday wishes on my non-existent wall. Harrrumph.

This birthday started with a journey, one that will continue through this year. I am, unlike last birthday, not bouncing 'from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine...' and for this fact alone, I have many people to thank.   At 1201a.m. on January 29th, I was on Amtrak train 49, the Lake Shore Limited, from NYC to Cleveland, so I begin by thanking the staff of Amtrak. I thank also: Kendric, Trevor, MJN for enduring wisdom filtered through the sounds of dirty laughter; VM and MB for one thing: tolerance; RD for love; MEB for being my trump card that I never needed to play; I thank Cleveland for being just... Cleveland. R McD I thank for music: musical food, musical chairs and -- in all seriousness, the strong, unhindered reflected light of "Greater Love Hath No Man..." MSp and KS and KA sound like they might come from the Periodic Table of Elements, and all were and are elemental to my life.

FM never gave up trying to find me, and when he did, he bought me dinner on West 17th Street and made me roar with laughter at memories of Tyrone, Down and Fife. I can't go on prattling like a painted-up Oscar-winner, and I haven't even mentioned those of a more ephemeral nature: Ginsberg, Larkin, Heaney, Shakespeare, Donne, Eliot, et al, all 'moving without pressure' over my mind at crucial moments. I thank SS for that serene self-confidence of his, and I thank Melvis for telling me that if I felt troubled late at night in Harlem, then "wear a suit." And I thank Junior for being Junior, and for his smile, which is far above rubies and diamonds in value.

I had the wit, twice now, to walk to Penn Station when the chips were down and get on a train. For that wit, or good sense, I thank only my parents and my brothers, over whose eyes the wool was never pulled by anyone or anything.

I have never written anything so personal on my blog before, and I probably never will again; this blog was never intended to be a kind of cloyingly confessional adolescent tear-smear. In this same spirit of healthy cynicism, may I misquote a poet:

He shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn.
For he is going up an escalator,
And you can't catch him.

Flatiron-esque Oddities Abound

Folks, I've known about the queer cut Myrtle Avenue makes as it crosses north Brooklyn and into Queens for some years now, and it has always caused me wonder. Notice on the above map, that the avenue cuts through a regular city grid, but at a 45 degree angle. The result on the ground is a series of neighborhoods, blocks and buildings sliced at rakish angles, creating oddities at every junction: Flatiron-esque oddities abound!

These are some of the most charming New York City neighborhoods I have experienced, with all sorts of family businesses and weird little emporia... As one walks along Myrtle Avenue, the traditional street-crossing rule, look right, look left, is doubled: you also have to look right and left over both shoulders...