And the sun went down

by Steve, July 17th, 2015

 
Lots of jellies have been beaching. I don’t know why.
(Are they really jellies or just some gelatinous goo?)
The sea is a mysterious place, at once inviting
And foreboding.
Jellies in the sun

 
When the sun hits the water there is a tremendous rumbling hiss
And a spew of steam (no not really; the sun doesn’t actually go into the water,
That would make a really big mess; it just looks like that).
funnel

 
The caps of the waves, lit from behind, bring to mind a wave form,
Electrical energy mapped on a back-lit screen, green flashes of consciousnes
Flitting up down and past me like the hummingbirds in the yard
This afternoon when I watered.
I've always liked backlight

 
There are angels in the clouds, flying north; the mother reaches out to her child
Sheltering and guiding her with her wings
Like the migrating gray whales in the spring, teaching their calves to feed
In our fertile water. It’s a 3-D painting that changes while you watch it.
ocean waves

 
The sunset doesn’t end, it just keeps going, a traveling light show
Rolling around the globe.
The big waves are just tiny ripples, out beyond this log I’ve used before.
Drift log

 
From up above, I see a seal in the surf in the twighlight
And rays fade into being radiating from the source.
The seal feels the wind when she comes up for air
(Does she feel the sun?),
And is pulled on unseen currents below.
There is a bat on the way home, winging crookedly around the chimneys
Capped with conquistador helmets which squeak as the wind swings north.
Rays

Ultimate Philip Glass Fanboi

by Steve, April 10th, 2015

musicI’ve liked Philip Glass since I first got exposed to his work in college in the 80s (yes i’ve heard the knock-knock joke; no, I don’t think it’s funny). I think Ben had a record of Einstein on the Beach, and maybe the Kronos Quartet. But it was Godfrey Reggio’s 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi that really blew my mind and got me hooked. In more recent history, I’ve seen Portland Opera’s productions of Orphée (2009) and Galileo Galilei (2012), both brilliant, but not as brilliant as the Met’s televised production of Satyagraha (2012) which Nancy grudgingly admits she liked.

Anyway, Glass has written a memoir, and he’s hitting the airwaves and lecture circuit to promote it. I heard him with Terry Gross on her NPR show Fresh Air the other day. I have a real love/hate attitude toward Gross. She’s actually a really good interviewer, but it’s partly because she so unselfconsiously asks really stupid questions. (She’s famously bad at talking to black people.) Anyway, she plays a kind of clueless everywoman, with just enough book learnin’ to be dangerous. If her guest isn’t completely offended, it makes for pretty good radio. Like this exchange with Glass:

GROSS:
I always think of there being something obsessive about your music because of its repetitions and then variations on the repetitions and the speed of it and the precision of it, and I’m wondering if that’s fair to call… Like, do you think of your composing or your performances as having an obsessive quality to them?

GLASS:
You know, that’s a fair question and I’m wondering would people have said the same thing about Brahms or Chopin? ‘Why is he playing that strange music? Why do we hear those chords over and over again?’

GROSS:
You know why I think of it with you too, because I think, um, pattern is often a part of obsession? Like repeated patterns, shifts in patterns, and…

GLASS:
Well I certainly didn’t invent that, that’s been around for a long time.

GROSS:
Mm hm.

GLASS:
I think it may have been also, not just the music itself, but the way it was presented with the ensemble, you know with amplified music, it could be interpreted as being aggressive, though that would only be true if you didn’t know anything about popular music, and that most popular music was already much more heavily amplified than anything that we did.

GROSS:
So you’re telling me you’re not OCD. (laughs)

GLASS:
(laughs) I’m not saying that either.

GROSS:
Well are you? Are you?

GLASS:
I don’t think so.

GROSS:
OK.

GLASS:
But how would I know?

***

It’s actually a broad-ranging interview, worth listening to all the way through. Later on, Terry returns to her passive aggressive shading of Glass’ music:

GROSS:
Do you ever think, in spite of the body of work that I’m famous for, I feel today like writing a simple song with an easy-to-sing melody and some nice chords behind it?

GLASS
(Laughter) I feel that all the time.

GROSS
Do you write it?

GLASS
I’m always trying to – I’m trying to. I’m writing an opera right now for the Washington Opera, and I’m always looking for clarity and simplicity. It doesn’t come easily to me.

***

Glass is speaking at the Newmark Theatre in Portland April 14. Admission includes a copy of his new book, Words Without Music.

Embedded quotes

by Steve, April 9th, 2015

Back in the 90s I wrote some skunkworks software for work. Since I find computer languages bland and inexpressive, I included some poetry (Pablo Neruda and Alan Chong Lau) and some quotes. We stopped using the software a few years back, but I found the source code is still out there on an old machine at the data center. Here are the quotes.

  • “The only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For
    the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”

    -Scarecrow, The Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum

  • “Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative.”

    -William Seward Burroughs

  • “We know only a single science, the science of history. One can look at history
    from two sides and divide it into the history of nature and the history of men.
    However, the two sides are not to be divided off; as long as men exist the
    history of nature and the history of men are mutually conditioned.”

    -Karl Marx

  • “In my life, I have prayed only one prayer in asking for divine favor: ‘O Lord,
    make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”

    - Voltaire

  • “If there ever was in the history of humanity an enemy who was truly universal,
    an enemy whose acts and moves trouble the entire world, threaten the entire
    world, attack the entire world in any way or another, that real and really
    universal enemy is precisely Yankee imperialism.”

    -Fidel Castro

  • “Rationalists, like Euclidean geometers, based their case on a few ‘self-evident
    truths.’ But Einstein convinced the world that there was no such thing as a
    self-evident truth. A few things were self-evident all right; but they were not
    true. The shortest way between two points is not the straight line; Time and
    Length are not absolute notions. This seemed to be the death-knell of
    Rationalist philosophy. If there is no self-evident truth, there is no
    Rationalism. But Rationalism refused to lie down and die. Luckily, Rationalism
    was not quite as rational as all that.”

    –George Mikes

  • “A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its
    analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical
    subtleties and theological niceties.”

    -Karl Marx

  • “Everything you’ve learned in school as ‘obvious’ becomes less and less
    obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no
    solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There
    are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight
    lines.”

    -R. Buckminster Fuller

Hey Hey

by Steve, February 27th, 2015

Another long-distance collaboration between me and Jay:

The Misanthrope’s Field Guide to Noncharismatic Megafauna

by Steve, February 13th, 2015

Wildlife biologists refer to large animals that attract positive human attention for conservation efforts as “charismatic megafauna.” It’s not a scientific classification, just a way to refer to large animals that attract positive human attention. They are rarely the most important organisms in a biosphere, but they get the most human attention for better or worse. Around these parts, we have cougar, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, black bear, deer, beaver, nutria, eagles, osprey, hawks, herons, egrets, whales, sea lions and seals, among others.

But we’ve also got a ton of what I like to call “noncharismatic megafauna,” primarily great apes of the species Homo sapiens sapiens. Yes, the common human, or “house ape,” frequently accompanied by another common type of non-charismatic megafauna, Canis lupus familiaris, the domestic dog. As these non-charismatic species are often noisy, smelly and aggressive, charismatic megafauna flee before them.

Lately, I’ve encountered enough humans and their dogs to become an expert of sorts, and herewith offer my field guide to their behavior when they leave their habitat and interact with other fauna in the wild.

Habitat

Humans live primarily in what they call the “built environment,” and try to limit contact with the natural environment as much as possible. This habitat consists primarily of enclosed spaces, with artificially controlled environmental conditions. Outdoor spaces are dominated by hard surfaces constructed for the purpose of moving between enclosed spaces in vehicles they construct of metal and plastic. The vehicles are fully enclosed and also feature controlled environmental conditions.

Behavior in the wild

When they leave their built environment, they take with them many tools and accessories that allow them to survive comfortably and remain connected to their built world. Males of the species tend to display these technologies as if in constant mating. (Humans do, in fact, mate year round.) Juveniles of the species tend to be especially noisy and unconcerned with their surroundings, built or natural.

Many house apes travel with captive dog companions, and this species is hyper aggressive toward wildlife and other house apes. Humans often allow the dogs to run untethered, despite signs with pictographs and human language prohibiting it. Dog feces litter the routes they have carved through the natural environment. House apes sometimes pick up feces in plastic bags, and then leave the bags along their routes. It is unclear whether this is some kind of territorial marking ritual, or if it has something to do with parasites from the feces making the humans go mad. Most “wilderness” routes are lined with small plastic bags of dog shit, which pretty much guarantees that charismatic megafauna will avoid these areas.

House apes vocalize loudly in the wild, and when, for example, encountering other humans observing charismatic megafauna, say things like: “Is it dead?” and: “Well I’ve heard they have those around here!” and: “Aren’t they really just pests?” and: “They have to trap them down in the valley on the farms, because they eat everything!” and “Do you think it’ll eat bread? Here, I have some I was going to throw at the ducks!”

House apes will feed human food to any fauna they encounter. Juveniles will often try to capture other fauna, and if that fails, try to injure or kill them with stones, sticks, or other missiles they can find.

Encountering Homo sapiens sapiens in the wild

When exploring natural areas for relaxation, education or spiritual purposes, it is almost certain you will encounter house apes who very little interest in cohabiting with native fauna or other humans. In order to avoid unpleasantness, it is advisable to step well off of trails when you hear or see them coming. Find a large tree or rock to hide behind until they pass. It is unlikely they will notice you, since they will generally be talking loudly and are typically not observant of their surroundings.

WARNING: If you are unable to avoid an encounter with a house ape in the wild, you may be subjected to tedious, inane conversation known as “smalltalk.” Males of the species will preen in the presence of others, proudly displaying branded clothing and accessories. Talking to them only encourages this behavior, so it is generally best to avoid them at all costs. Since most house apes are averse to extended physical exertion and exposure to the elements, they are best avoided in deep wilderness at least 20 miles from trail heads and roads and far from urban centers.

Wait, listen carefully….

by Steve, February 6th, 2015

That’s the sound of Oregon’s Democratic Party faithful discussing the stench of corruption oozing out of Mahonia Hall.

It’s looking more and more like Oregon’s fourth-term governor John Kitzhaber has been up to his neck in his fiance Cylvia Hayes’s influence peddling, and the political hacks and bottom feeders at Blue Oregon have apparently circled the wagons.

Here’s the thing about being a one-party state… I mean… Ah fuck it, didn’t you guys read Animal Farm?

The Democratic Party in this state is a disgrace. A patronage machine that’s done nothing to reform a revenue system devastated by fleeting anti-tax, libertarian fringe in the 90s, and apparently more interested in holding power than funding schools. Sure they’re nominally pro-labor, but that’s all about the money at the end of the day. What does the Democratic Party of Oregon offer working families besides not being Republicans? Not a hell of a lot.

I argue that we need a moderate, viable GOP in this state just to keep the Democratic Party honest and at least nominally progressive. As it stands we have an allegedly corrupt governor and decades of Democratic control of state government with no progress on revenue reform. If state-level Democrats aren’t willing to take a stand for education funding, what good are they?

In other words, what’s the use of a Blue Oregon if we’re all just being played?

Update 2/9/2015:

Kitzhaber has asked his buddy Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s attorney general, to investigate. Pulitzer winner Nigel Jaquiss reports in Willamette Week that this might just be a move to delay releasing documents to the press. And of course Willamette Week is owned in part by…. wait for it…. Ellen Rosenblum’s husband Richard Meeker.

Jesus, way to make us look like a fetid little backwater, guys.

When you find a good frame…

by Steve, January 23rd, 2015

…you keep on using it.
Shore Pine Sunset
Framed
Framing it
My favorite frame

January Sundown

by Steve, January 20th, 2015

sunset

Some people can’t stop talking about child rapist Neil Goldschmidt

by Steve, January 12th, 2015

Thomas Lauderdale has a very high opinion of some people who don’t deserve it.

Most glaringly, Lauderdale can’t stop singing the praises of admitted child rapist Neil Goldschmidt, who, according to Lauderdale, “got people to be better than they were.” Well, Elizabeth Dunham, the woman Goldschmidt started raping repeatedly when she was a pubescent girl, didn’t get better, she got dead (a “circumstance” Lauderdale describes as “unfortunate.”)

Personally, I think serial child rape and a 30-year coverup kind of trump whatever fluffy civic bullshit Lauderdale might be talking about, but maybe that’s just me.

Then there’s Goldschmidt crony and former Metro president (and alleged stripper aficionado and ex of one of Neil Goldschmidt’s top 5 Oregonians) David Bragdon, whom Lauderdale ran into in New York and told “You need to come back and save the city, because it’s going down.”

And of course there’s Lauderdale himself, who thinks he’s the only one in the city with the right temperament to be mayor. “I just don’t see anybody else in the city that has that… even though I think that sounds weird as I say it. But I think that I do have the right temperament for it.”

Fortunately for the good people of Portland, he’s too busy with his own show (and doesn’t want to take a pay cut) to run the show at City Hall.

But wait… is this another instance of Neil poking his head up, testing the waters for a comeback? He was never convicted, but he admitted to behavior clearly defined by Oregon law as serial felony child rape, which would have landed him in the pokey and on the predatory sex offender registry had he been busted before the statute of limitations expired. So forget about it, Neil; crawl back into your hole.

And Thomas, stick to your day (night) job, and maybe find a different political hero to promote. (Prince Andrew, perhaps?)

The Long Distance Cosmic Express

by Steve, January 11th, 2015

jayharden1I haven’t played in a band since 1997, but just recently started some long-distance collaboration with a bandmate from Totem Soul, the group I moved to Portland with back in 1989.

Jay Harden has been keeping himself busy performing and recording, and asked me to add some tracks to some stuff he recorded.

I started with “Get Along,” which features Naomi Wedman on violin and vocals. I threw in some bass and drums.

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Then there’s “Sleepy Head,” which has a nice country blues feel. I threw down some bass and drums again, and thought about some backing vox. But couldn’t find a harmony I liked, so left it simple.

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Now, if we’re lucky, Jay will make us a couple cheap-o videos.