Think of *every* surface as your own personal notebook and remind often you’re doing *this for yourself* and for the future and everyone else is just kind of “bonus” looking over your shoulder. In other words, write when you can, write what you want > mix medias and metaphors, use social channels as a memo book to later copy & paste and expand into your archive.
Importantly: don’t put pressure on yourself, days are *just days* – you’re doing this for years and the decades.
Written as a letter to a friend, somehow thought good idea to put here so i don’t lose it. Not sure but hey… no one’s paying attention anyhow.
I hear you on these hypocrites, bootlickers and carpet baggers who talk a big game but at the end of it, they spend all their “organizations energy on managing the organization” rather than actually doing stuff.
I learned a long time ago (somehow) in my punk rock youth that “talk minus action equals zero” and in that same youth, was idealistic enough to want to actively support a lot of different organizations in Utah and BC but every time I went to volunteer my (then healthy and strong) body for action (i.e. put me on those anti-whaling ships! send me out on desert missions! put me on a lookout tower!) the only answer was “you can help with fundraising… Why don’t you go door to door and ask for money?” Not impressed.
And, years later, I still see the same organizations spending all their money begging for money. E.g. After all my years of working to normalize cannabis, I see the suits and celebrities jumping into the mix and congratulating themselves and I wonder: where the fck were you on those rainy days at the capital decades ago? Where were you lobbying and writing letters and to policymakers and showing up at inane committee meetings? I hear you are running your mouth about stock prices and making cute branded labels for your factory growing weed blah blah blah.
As such, somehow I realize that despite my usual social and community-building nature, when it comes to getting shit done, I just do what I want to do on my own terms and float out into the world and don’t expect to see an impact for decades later. Been this way for my documentary films, punk rock fanzines, chap books of poetry and other arts and crafts… + Realized that I could be an artist who spends half of his time applying for grants and sending and submissions to be rejected (another quarter of my time complaining about the injustice of it all) or else I could just go hustle some day job for temporary times (goodness know i’ve had a few) and make art on my own terms and put it out there without any expectation of acceptance or money. Fuck Stats, Make Art.
Somehow I almost accidentally ended up this way as I teased with a flirting level of fame before vanishing again. Seldom seen indeed. I think of Henry David Thoreau self publishing 100 copies of Walden, dead at 37, no one remembers his contributions to pencil making or the impact that came hundred plus years later. That’s the kind of hero.
After being gone for Utah from sometime and ending up back there in recent years after my Mom died and hiding out, i saw all the precious places polluted by REI shopping yuppi3s and credit card wielding “ski bums” who think they’re making a difference by voting for “that other party”, left again as fast as I could and proclaimed my lifelong dream to never go back to Logan (the only town I’ve ever been busted for weed).
I even went to my favourite holy sacred hot spring up fifth water diamond fork on trails that I literally helped build and pools that I hauled up bags of cement to shore up the rocks to find it overflowing with BYU students, I stripped down to my naked self and took a nice shower in the waterfall and all my splendour and quickly cleared the area out for a nice leisurely soak. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
All this is to say that I see you and hear you and admire you and you got a guy out here respecting your work and your life and understanding what you’re laying down about Lycra knuckleheads with their lawyers and mortgages.
Told a younger friend the other day who’s getting caught up in the rat race that all these asshole billionaires that end up in the news about not paying taxes or going to space, they’re all bunch of workaholics who never see their family, never just to get hang out in a barn with an illicit smoke and some used records, and hell my mother-in-law cooks as well as any restaurant and the best views are for free. And if you want to be all fancy, I built a house on a tropical island one time for $50K and another time for $70K, you can’t buy a carport most places for that. You can get your own campland near Gary’s outpost near Shasta for under 100… I’ll tell you about Paradise, the way John Prine sings about it. Move to the country, grow peaches… work little except for the real work.
Spectacled, heavy on a rosy face, hidden among stacks, drawing inventions of maps – delineating frontiers between playful apparatchik and fields where the healthy and husky scrambled games I couldn’t be bothered to learn the constructed rules of play.
Naming regions of gravel and grass in derivations of Iowa towns and possibly Balkan enclaves. Tracing roads across trucking routes and Roman ruins built to the width of chariot wheels-cemented as standards for mine entrance bringing a horse to shores, away from relations to new lives, absent from home still never known beyond memories, Serio-graphed into filtered ideals.
Yet an unsteady hand and overall disconnect, or even indifference, which led to a place to “settle” – build a house from logs, and seasoned by time, after hewn, nailed and assembled by saw blade and heavy sludge, forged by a possible cousin who always remain a stranger. The blade remains anonymous as an un-muttered pithy quote en route to cliché.
Neither did exploding suns, brilliant and fleeting, assembled in patterns, ~ shared by the patient and measured in Newtonian units – still could not muster a journey – hence gazed, but ignored as impractical, nigh impossible.
Translucent layers, super-imposed and stacked, detailing azimuths, trajectories and elevations – separating fertile valleys (though subject to floods) from talus slopes too steep but for mountain rams on the shady flank of Timpanogos.
Dotted dashed and surveyed, specific dots explained in legend denoting assigned capitals, provincial outposts, and occasionally hamlets determined by polled populations, overseen with constructed superintendents, supported by varying address of retainers.
Intrigued by absence of obvious order though not my task to chart.
Instead, as per instinct, selected and committed to memory, devoid of context, thin slices of knowledge swirling in a petri vacuum – accurate as such, but irrelevant
So i journeyed to wonder about likely motivations which took Normans, Pharaohs and troubadours beyond the point of unknown return. Capes left in wakes with dates and hard-track to fortify a quest alleged to diagram flora.
Among them, I reference guide notes from decades past – as vague as possible to acquire allowing white-space and risk. Packed in burlap next to a survivor’s stove and pouch of seeds and spices and an important black pencil. Only planned to go one way, impartial to return rather to chronicle the unfamiliar.
The familiar left far behind as physics might allow – exchanged possible comfort in normalcy for uncertainty contentment in ambiguity. Meandering concentric routes, devoid of patterns or ready purpose.
Answers are easier in cliché, ergo:
“I’ll know when i get there” –
Town to creek to roadside conundrum – I swirled each in mouth , pretending my palette featured a vocabulary to explain to unseeing why I hadn’t settled for seemingly ideal locales, situations and specific circumstance to flourish.
Eventually, after farm toil, beach frolic, rough nights in dangerous morass, leaping turrets of ruins and painful heaving, missed junctions and forgotten aims, at a campfire in a lake-forest with a khaki-scout familiarity, I stumbled through an unfavourable gale, onto the intended coast
I mocked myself for misnamed non-discoveries, i assumed as fragrant promised lands of plenty allowed to the intrepid erstwhile accidental navigators.
Teased over misread hieroglyphics and misappropriated meaning to stone wheels quarried a far, hauled by double-hulled craft powered by taro and current and fickle breeze.
I could no longer mock with unearned disdain, the vaunted and faulted explorers, stolen secrets leading to some anomaly errantly pro-claimed as new or proper or divine.
Earnestly deterred, i occurred to map a universe of flesh and thought. Breath and sounds assembled into meaning.
The crease on cheek, the measure of brow, the angle of toes, magnitude of halo surrounding chameleon eyes and the mysterious enthusiasm of all which exists between.
Thwarted, not by scenery but by shaking confessions, fumbled after a stealth crossing at an indifferent frontier town. I’d escaped to my holy land I presumed for an instant before minor catastrophe.
Stalled at an unwelcoming inn where i laid myself bruised and bare to a lover temporarily transformed to a stranger after i let the truth languish, vanquished by the uncertainty of resolved and fear or wounding the occasionally innocent.
She walked out vested, blithely, pithy saying “I know” unwittingly perhaps offering just enough loft to push a tattered sail across a colour-coded sea mis-named as somewhere calm.
The explorer hides. Alone, entirely lost and surrendered to fates incomprehensible to the battered. Uncontrollable by the hostage. Yet clinging to an adrenaline determination to manufacture strength to another foray.
Monk-like, minus faith, discipline, dogma or skill at ringing bells, relying on rice gruel and fragrant hope, the cartographer gathered charcoal, fired for unsteady hands, and a redrew boundaries to conceive an entirely new Pangea with concessions to speculate, plunder and charts assigned exclusively to only two.
If i was crafty and timely, woulda shared these snaps a few weeks when Ever Given was blocking up the flow of the Suez Canal (yeah you saw this…) i had/have a lot to say about it all and well, lot of more important things to do (nursery school!) so just didn’t get to it, but today is now, so:
Suez isn’t “squared off” with tidy concrete walls and locks
Was dug mostly by hand/buckets
Ships assemble caravans at either end and go very slow
Winds are weird (really) which makes mishaps not shocking and coordination important.
Don’t start with the Egyptian pilots!
Let’s begin our transit in the “staging area”… (note captions and annotations)
Local Traffic amongst the behemoths
Importantly, the canal is active with local ferries darting back and forth between lumbering giants. The sides are so close you can wave to folks (of course i did) and the ships in-front/behind are also so close and don’t have brakes.
Often, a poem comes out fully-formed, fiddling and remixing only dulls the knife, sometimes however, variations are eager to come out to shine light in another corner: Lonely, Joyful, Melancholy, Mysterious.
In this case, (my) familiar themes of un-confidential love letters on postcards mailed from foreign places and glanced by – or maybe sadly not glanced – by personnel along the way who (may) add their pathos to the journey.
One version of this (do you care to guess which?) will go on the reverse of the post box at Farmer Mac’s goat farm – Perhaps another painting will follow… and then a postcard a photograph of the painting mailed to the post box and so on. Always be remixing.
No pardons for redundancies, variations on a theme require riffs on the same blues.