Friday, June 11, 2010

Playing a bit of ketchup (and hot sauce)!

Spring has sprung and it's my season. It came in like a lion! (Lots of pix here that I took (unless credited). I know they're kinda sucky but I used a phone and I'm not a photographer so lower your expectations!

Ketchup: I guess I'll have to work backward with updates on doings. Right now I'm lamenting not being at the exciting Rethinking Poetics conference at Columbia in collaboration with Penn.I especially feel guilty because I was just in Philly for a hot second taping another installment of Poem talk organized and hosted by the adorable Al Filreis. No uptown hanging out for me: I'm on a deadline for a big project and my birthday's coming up (w/ festivities) and have other obligations this weekend. Ah, well.The conference is right in the city, too. Have fun for me everybody!

But... I did get to see one of the luminaries, Charles Bernstein earlier this week in a reading w/ Kenny Goldsmith at the Sixth Street Community Synagogue. It was a nice reading! I haven't heard Kenny read that much and I really enjoyed the double poetry bill with Charles and he. They were also joined by a musician, Jamie Saft. There was a friendly discussion w/ an editor of the Forward, as well as the curator of the event, after the show. There was also a lovely tour of the synagogue and it's progressive history. Very nice! The Lower East Side hasn't always been the supergentrified spot it is being presented as nowadays. This is a photo of a hilarious traffic light I saw as I walked from the train.

Charles read a poem on Walter Benjamin that I haven't heard since we performed together in Paris years ago (ooh la la) and it was great to hear it again as well as some of his libretti. Jamie Saft has worked w/ lots of folks including John Zorn. (John seems to have worked with everyone I know, I swear, and I recently checked out another friend of his, visual artist David Chaim Smith who's illustrations/interpretations of Kabbalah at the Cavin Morris gallery were beautiful and intricate. I wish I could afford to buy one...ah well. I feel that way everytime I walk into a gallery. But DCS's work really was quite gorgeous.)

Speaking of galleries, I don't know if I even want to get into the vortex that was my experience w/ Marina Abramovic! It was intense! Here's the thumbnail: I went at the suggestion of a few people, including one of my colleagues at Pratt and it was like living in another world for a week. Now that the dust has settled and I'm reived from my reverie, I can think on it a bit. Don't want to be too long winded on this post (too late!) but it was very moving and special. I went to MoMa several times: once to check out the retrospective upstairs, once to check out the crowd, once to sit w/ Marina and I had to go to the closing day, for goodness sake. It was star-studded and, in some ways, anti-star b/c the stars, especially at the end, couldn't sit w/ her. The line and all who waited overnight were too formidable to jump just because the person is famous. New Yorkers have been known to be violent when someone cuts the line! I didn't sit w/ her long myself (I think it was a couple minutes). Personally I didn't feel it was necessary to stay that long in order to understand the implications of what she was doing, especially w/ so many people waiting to sit w/ her and I also think I could have stayed sitting w/ her for weeks and weeks and still discovered new things. So what was the point of hogging the time?

(h/t slp: calarts/redcat events)

One of the great added benefits of "meeting" Marina was that I bumped into the affable Suzan Lori-Parks that day and she went old school in appreciation for "not hogging the mic" as it were. It was a fun conversation and I find her work really interesting. Lovely use of language.

(h/t Jacket magazine)

(h/t squaw valley

I am tempted to name drop other folks that I saw there but that's kinda boring. However, I did run into a couple poets and we got to hang out the last day: Evie Shockley and Lee Ann Brown. I love seeing poets in places! Especially my friends. More poets in places! Fan out poets!

Lifestyle changes: well, I've decided to get healthier (a never-ending quest) and am becoming more strict w/ the old diet. Less junk, crap, garbage. More weight-training whole, live foods and water. Since Gemini season has arrived and that means my birthday (yay!) it's time to re-evaluate and move forward. I have some ridiculous precedents for long life in my family (I had an uncle who died at 108), and if I get w/ the program I might be around and healthy for a while. If not, well, there are, unfortunately other precedents for ill health in my family too. I'm at the point now where I'm deciding to tap into the long-living genetic disposition and not to undermine it with bad habits. Weirdly, I'm eating more these days but am not as "fluffy" as before. Consuming better food actually gives me more leeway with how much I can eat. I know this is like "duh, no kidding" but I had to find out w/ trial and error. Whatever. Wish me luck!

Projects: Writing and re-evaluating my writing. It's quite the meditation going over past words. I can almost feel the context of why I needed to write them at the time, coming back. Not exactly a trip down memory lane more like some Star Trek space-time continuum collapse! Disconcerting, unnerving. But good! Doing some recording soon too and that is always lovely.

My trip to Uganda was life-changing. I love going to Africa and have always enjoyed my experiences there. Every place is, of course, very different. In Uganda I got to hang out at schools. I met quite a few students and they are smart, smart, smart. The scholastic resources are terrible though. I saw the vestiges of colonialism (even now) in the depleated libraries and dated books. One thing I did note however, was how much more well-read the students are regarding African literature. I got exposed to many of the books they read as schoolchildren in grad school. That's a sad commentary on the US education system in relation to the second-largest continent on earth. And the students are well-read about very different African authors from throughout the continent.

On a goofy tip, I criss-crossed the equator and that was super fun! I've been south of the equator quite a few times but stopping and taking pictures was cool! Also went to the source of the Nile. That was supercool because I've visited Egypt and went to the end of the Nile so it's like: yay! End to end! The falls around Uganda are gorgeous.

Politcally, because of the controvery anti-gay/queer legislation in the country, the place is flooded w/ southern White evangelicals. Whatever floats your boat on the religious tip, but these folks bring their bad habits, intolerance and awkwardness whereever they go. It seemed to me (after run-in with a couple of these yahoos) that racism and prejudice trumps religion. Just tacky behavior (and aesthetically, just straight up tacky!) I can't agree w/ the intolerance of queer people there (or here for that matter) and I find it interesting that some Africans are very critical of European/Euro-American imperialism when it comes to some things but not other things. If the news reports coming out of the States about who's funding the anti-Gay measures in Uganda (conservative White Christian fundamentalists here in the States) are correct, then this intolerance is just as much an aspect of imperialism as the bad textbooks in the schools that privileges Europe and America over Africa, even for Africans.

LIke I said, it was a deep trip! I look forward to visiting Uganda again. I met some beautiful, smart people there.

Hot Sauce on the table: I've got a few projects heating up (as I've mentioned) and will hopefully be revamping this website over the summer. So if you tune in and things are different, it's on purpose! I'm glad for this nuts-and-bolts website version but hope to step up my game a teeny bit now that I've got other irons in the fire. Stay tuned and enjoy the decent weather!


PS: An early Happy Pops day for you Pops!

My Father's Geography
by Afaa M. Weaver

I was parading the Côte d'Azur,
hopping the short trains from Nice to Cannes,
following the maze of streets in Monte Carlo
to the hill that overlooks the ville.
A woman fed me pâté in the afternoon,
calling from her stall to offer me more.
At breakfast I talked in French with an old man
about what he loved about America--the Kennedys.

On the beaches I walked and watched
topless women sunbathe and swim,
loving both home and being so far from it.

At a phone looking to Africa over the Mediterranean,
I called my father, and, missing me, he said,
"You almost home boy. Go on cross that sea!"