Note: the plaid anorak, the sunglasses, the hair, the smile – love love love all of it Mom (so much like you sometimes)
Various artifacts in situ, as seen in “Kura Grain Barn Art Studio / Music Lounge” (which needs a proper name).
Note: Inside the kura grainbarn studio/music lounge. It’s a magnificent 150+-year-old wooden structure but dang, gets hot and humid in the Japan summer and with so many books, records, papers, artifacts, etc, im working to keep the temperature and humidity under control.
Under 70% humidity now which is a big step as a few days ago it was over 80%! Still too high to be comfortable and ideal for sure. Have two fans and a dehumidifier going on timers, a whole bunch of those little packets of salty kind of stuff, and some other “boxes“ of dehumidifying agents.
Most of these items were stored in climate control storage for years so want to keep them in good condition and avoid any kind of unnecessary deterioration. Not a professional archivist but I’m doing what I can.
Created by mixed media renegade artist Marty Kendall for memorial party/late wake for my Mom Lauralee and our pal Rod Ash.
The event featured musical performances by Mikael Lewis, Twillo, Larry Harper and me reading poetry and doing various ceremonies, plus Adam Burningham reading and other tributes and goodness / all at “Camp Dane” in Little Cottonwood canyon – Also video dispatches from various musical artist scattered around the world.
I made invitation art collage as well.
Was fantastically well attended in person as well as through video simulcast.. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Marty wasn’t able to attend to deliver the posters in person, but I’m very pleased to have a beautiful print of this glorious piece in Japan.
See also: Creepers and Chums: global musicians + Creepers and Chums: memorial party livestream, part 1 (video), 2017 + Creepers and Chums: memorial party livestream, part 2 (video) + Creepers and Chums: meet some fine artists, 2017
On my birthday August 16, 2017, I found myself in Provo, Utah sleeping in yet another bed in which someone died.
I try to forget about the day and it’s entirety, fiddled with assembling chapbooks as gifts, stamping inky thumbprints on them and giving them to folks who i pretend were pleased, and reading poems by Richard Brautigan.
Then the potter Marty Kendall and I went to see the grave of our dear pal Rod Howard Ash who passed away shortly before at an untimely age. I brought him a poem on vintage hotel letterhead written when I heard about his death wow meandering seas between the Suez. Somewhere in Aqaba or Olympia. (note: inspired a cycle of the “Items: Forgotten” series called “Time Traveller“).
This marker was a temporary one, apparently is changed now. I think about this kind man all the time, so much style so much cool. Ugh.
Worth noting a few months before, during memorial day weekend, we threw a party called “creepers and chums” as a tribute to him and my mother who well, also died.
PS Later that night we went to see Rod’s best pal Mikael Lewis perform and he sang a song we wrote about yet another dead pal Foster.
I was in India when my dear Mother died, I rushed back via various flights to join with my brothers and friends.
It was (still is) all a blur, so many details missed up through it all, though as is my custom, I assembled oddities in a scrapbook and made annotations along the way.
As such, evidence, including: a boarding pass for the worst flight ever; a list of tasks to complete rapidly to leave Joy guesthouse in Auroville by taxi to Chennai airport; and a poem which I can’t at this moment remember who wrote/gave to me. Was it you?
There are other things in the scrapbook, maybe another time…
Somehow, somewhere between my first couple trips to Japan (frankly it’s a little bit foggy after a plan to go to Mexico and live on the beach didn’t materialize, hemp fests, Dead concerts, flower sticks & hemp bag selling), I was in Logan, Utah (where i had spruced-up my Volkswagen bus “the Earthship” only to abandon it) where my Mom rented a rambling old polygamist house in the shadow of the LDS temple which she rented as a boarding house for various students plus a few randoms living in the backyard in a sort of tent/van village.
Logan isn’t my favourite place (so many cops and rules!) but, here I was and as such, I put together a party to reunite with old friends, share stories, collect lent items, play some music and hit up hot springs.
I designed this “aerogramme-inspired” invitation (meaning the paper was both an envelope and a letter), including various snippets of haiku art, doodles, maps and intentions, and floated them out into the world. The party was called “Far Far West” in homage to a Gary Snyder poem about going to Japan and my westward facing, Pacific centric geographic mindset.
Wasn’t sure what to make of it all as addresses were stale, friends were transient, memory scare, but, as it goes, worked out just wonderful as dozens of people came throughout a few days with folks camping out in the backyard to the chagrin of the neighbours who tried to poison the dogs (seriously!) as well as called the police who stealthed into our backyard campfire while we were singing along to Larry’s autoharp and Marty Kendall’s ceramic drums and, surprisingly, the police were rather chill about everything / they asked us to play a song, we did, they told us to have a good night, they left, we laughed and we sparked up another one and kept on going.
As it goes, there was a *loaves and fishes* vibes as my wonderful Mother put on big pots of curry and different stews with ingredients folks brought along, and we kept pots of coffee and exotic teas going in a truly freeform fun for all couple of days.
I recall the 2nd day included a trip out to a derelict hot spring on the side of a forgotten highway which had sort of been roughed in by a dangerous assortment of bricks. Nevertheless, we soaked, we played banjo music… and I have a photo of me and Sensei Larry to prove it (somewhere in the boxes there might be a few more snapshots).
I will say that I was surprised to see this invitation – both the original layout as well as a production copy printed on 50% post consumer recycled “redrock” paper and dutifully printed with some copywriting that somehow makes me smile still. (Note: included the layout and production versions for posterity and archiving).
Note: poetry snippets from “January in Hot Springs” series
“… David Olson , front, played a leprechaun.” Surrey (BC, Canada) Leader(?), circa 1977
Note: my dear Mom standing behind me and my *grumpy* face
After being birthed in Saskatoon and flight to Calgary to Vancouver at 15 days, living in Eugene, Oregon for first year and some, we moved to Lansing, Michigan where Dad took a professor gig at Michigan State University and brother Dan was born.
Then, changing jobs again to University of British Columbia, we were on the plane again, westway to the world.
Not sure details of route (did they drive to Windsor/Toronto and then fly?) but based on sizes of the 3 brothers, believe this is the flight west on this Air Canada bird in 1974.
(Is this a 737? or 707 like the Gordon Lightfoot song?)
Well today is 3 years gone and wow, so much has happened since the worst phone call ever in Auroville.
I won’t get into all the details but do want to catch you up on all the geo-locations (and other memorials) your ashes are distributed… for the time being at least.
Overall, you’ll be happy to know we’ve added a few more stamps to your figurative passport and there are many places scattered around the world where you are especially remembered.
We’ll start the world tour with the most obvious and familiar locations in Utah:
First, the Celebration of Life Monument in SLC right by the (fabulous) library. This wall took some doing to make it all happen but worth the work and looks great.
Your entire full name with all the middle names is engraved on the wall and allll spelled perfectly!
When my brothers and i were wee lads, our beloved Mom was out cub scout leader.
In Canadian (and international) scouting, the leaders of the cub pack are named after characters in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Mom was Akela, Mikki Gladstone was Bagheera, we also had a Baloo and others.
After Mom passed away and the brothers and I were sorting through items, Dan and I assembled a tub of “woggles” which are little sliders designed to hold the kerchief/scarf together around one’s neck.
Of course, there is plenty of creativity available for such a device – many are evidenced in this collection.
Oh Mom, there are so many thing to tell you about this last year… the short is: for the first time in a loooong time, i have hope, optimism and a bit of peace.
Last year included a trip to Logan to deal with the rest of your items including the missing Agatha Christie books (still missing), green glass (duly distributed) and various bins of letters, treasures and papers. Long weeks at Anders’ place sorting it all as best as possible. Had hoped to scan, inventory etc everything but gave, as you’d say, “a lick and a promise”.
Assembled boxes for sons, brothers, and Lonnie Gee, Doug and Dan et al to spread memories around the world. Learned so many things about you! Flight attendant job applications, letters from Grandpa and Lorayne, records from your college days (so many colleges), oh made office supply kits for the Grandkids, and loaded up all your stationery/letterhead/letraset/postcards stash for me. And using it all too.
Also (almooooosssstttt) finished dealing with the conundrums with Service Canada (a true bureaucratic nightmare of nonsense) and your headstone should be arriving anyday from India (thans Uncle Bob) – i designed it and am so proud to do so. Also your ashes are well on their way around the world with stops in Pacifica, Logan, North Van, Pe ELL, Olympia, Nusa Ceningan, Sarpsborg and so on. Anders did a great job getting little vials filled up.
Big news: your wedding dress is getting altered and put into service for dear Ryoko (you’d love her) and, i ordered (finally!) my own kilt. Royal Stewart with Cape, formal sporran, Prince Charlie jacket and socks etc. April 20-21 will keep your ashes with me to feel your energy in some weird (totally not macabre way).
No doubt this week is tough every year as the anniversary of Dad’s death/funeral and your birthday all at once. So i write and make documentary art. So much more to tell you but must be careful of my energy and screen time.
So, in doing this all, i did photo-inventory many of your travel treasures. Sharing here to keep your story alive.
Speaking of “your story”, got your blog and Flickr and Ancestry all backed up. Learned a lot about impermanence of the internet. Frustrating as i want to be meticulous but also realize perfection is entirely overrated.
On to the treasures.