I took this shot around Halloween, up there, at the Griffith Park Observatory. The evening was a bit warm. Clouds took their nap, that evening, and gave it up for clear skies. That's why Santa Catalina Island is surprisingly visible here, a slight protrusion on the horizon. And thanks to the editor who accepted the image, for publication, including the caption I wrote. I think I'll submit a few more shots, to the Los Angeles Times next year. Southern California Moments is one way of touring Los Angeles, and other places around it; my photo is #35, on the slide (as of 12-31-2010).
Now a few years ago, I had also sent a shot of Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills, to another paper, The Guardian(UK). But on that shot, I stood beside a tree, to include its image. I took the shot in the middle of the afternoon, facing that same side of the city captured above. But since it was a smoggy day, the effect can be depressing for some. I like the tree branches, their silhouettes. But the image caption - which I assume was written by that paper's travel-section editor - gave that image a different spin, as though the shot was taken after the end of the world. Here's that shot archived at The Guardian:
I was wrapping some gifts early afternoon on the 24th, and got caught in the process of folding the gift-wrap paper properly. I made sure the folds around the edges of the small boxes I was wrapping were not too creased, and approximated the look one sees on professionally wrapped gifts. I think I was somewhat successful. I usually buy gift bags. This time though, I thought I'd use gift-wrapping paper, the kind that's colonized by Santa Claus smiles. But as my hands felt the texture of paper I was folding and taping, my mind slipped into some vague memories of Christmas in childhood, a time that usually involved Christmas school programs, and images of a baby born in a manger, dramatized and choreographed by bodies of children.
I think I was a Joseph once or twice, and a shepherd or king a few times. Predictably, the dominant words that wrapped these yearly programs were Christmas, Jesus, or Baby Jesus, including Bethlehem. Thus, I can say there were many Bethlehems in my past, illuminated by the smiles and giggles of their nativity-scene actors. In these Bethlehems were usually plastic babies. That baby's name and what he stands for are probably two swaddling cloths, out of a few, that has been holding this world and its history for centuries, which may not be babies anymore. The firm hold persists, as the crying continues. You can't help but hold it close to you, and sometimes lull the cries with lullabies.
Early this year, I saw Georgia O'Keefe, a film that offers glimpses of Georgia O'Keefe's life, when she met photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz in New York. And the nature of this relationship is the approximate center of the film. Because of this focus, one is tempted to argue that the film doesn't talk much about O'Keefe's art, although as it handles this aspect of her life, Bob Balaban's direction tries to connect, in his own quiet way, her art and her relationship with Stieglitz.
Stieglitz's keen eye for art talents sees potential in the budding painter in O'Keefe, and displays some of her work in his small gallery; there, her paintings sit beside the work of European artists who, over time, would achieve respect, fame, and, in many cases, fortune from affluent art patrons in the United States.
Stieglitz understands the business side of art, that the rich plays indispensable roles in preserving the work of artists. Thus, as art promoter, Stieglitz's gallery courts the super-rich. And this courtship somehow imbues the affluent with evolving layers of taste and sophistication, elements that quietly superimpose and gloss-over notions of barbarity and greed implied in being very rich. On the other hand, this courtship is surrounded by writers, critics who feed on details in the art world, and refine them into essays for the general public to consume.
In some sense, Stieglitz's personality evolves and revolves around the charms and sensibilities of this intimate social circle. As invaluable member of that circle, his appetite for women is accepted by its members, that somehow the institution of marriage gives him social and sexual claustrophobia. Thus, when Stieglitz marries O'Keefe, he is still married to someone else; and while he is married to O'Keefe, he becomes involved with another woman, from the Sears-Roebuck business clan.
Often, Jeremy Irons' Stieglitz threatens to rename the film Alfred Stieglitz, because he constantly pushes O'keefe and the film under his control. Luckily, Joan Allen gives her O'keefe gravity, imposing enough for me to believe the movie still vaguely deserves to be titled under the lustrous banner of the painter's name.
It's that point of the year again, when you look around your own living space, and think what must go, not the kind one does during spring-cleaning, but the kind one indulges, when a new year is fast approaching. The idea is not to impose some kind of resolution, of course, that you'd now hope to be a newbie super-neatnik, but just a lessening of accumulated things. For me, these things are old newspapers and magazines from, say, May or April of this year and the year before. Saying this somewhat reveals I'm a pack-rat of some sort; maybe. But if I'm one, I'm not too worried. It's not something that needs to be pathologized. Although pathological pack-rat can sound amusing, or can be a catchy title for a novel, short-story, or song.
I'd say pack-rat tendencies are basic to habits of accumulation and acquisition in the imagination of capitalism, a system - some might say - that breathes on hierarchies of private ownership, and, in that regard, hierarchies of power. But I don't think accumulating old newspapers and magazine makes me power-hungry. Although I'm compelled to contradict myself, because owning these publications can mean being hungry for the power of knowledge and information. Many out there make millions from pack-rats, as you know; I'm talking about owners of storage spaces. They guard what you own, and in turn they own some from your pocket, through monthly payments.
I'm actually throwing some of these old magazines and newspapers already, since early this month, which makes me think about bookmarked websites on my browser I haven't used for a while. These favorites are accumulating, as well. And this makes me think about those old newspapers and magazines I'm trashing. Their content is not really gone, because the ever-evolving wonders of internet technology is managing and tracking their content through archives, memory banks of human civilization, or maybe post-human and cyborg civilization as well. That's why it makes sense to throw the hard-copies; on the other hand, what is also thrown here is the tactility of hard-copies, the crispness of that material thing. Content somehow feels more compelling, when you feel that paper with your hands.
It has been raining continuously, turning many intersections into shallow, temporary lakes, because of clogged draining systems. And not only that, mud is sliding down hillsides as well, as though it wants to dramatize how things are slipping down fast in the current economic condition. It would be nice though if temperatures drop further down a bit in Los Angeles city-proper, so that snow can moonlight, even for a few hours, for this year's Christmas Eve.
The sun is 4pm, slowly setting, finishing Sunday. I am 75mph on the freeway, maybe more. Others are flying at 80mph and up. I feel like catching up to them, but hover my speed below the 80s, like it's cooler to be there, the way some people hate leaving the 70s or the Age of Disco. Lenny Kravitz spits cool through my speakers, makes them high. I play one of his tunes, a few times, because of its beat, and the way it gives the afternoon some rhythm. Forest Lawn Drive is my next exit, after making a last minute decision to visit two loved ones, buried beside each other. I am now rock-and-rolling towards a field of death-beds. Beside the road are flower vendors who cause attentions of rushing drivers to crash into them.
I decide to leave out flowers on this visit. There are already flowers beside the tombstones; they look fresh, from someone's recent visit. I assume that recent visitor has cleaned the stones carefully, because dirt and soil are not stuck around the letters and numbers on the stones. Goaded by vague superstition, I make some numerical calculations on the number of letters and numbers on the stones, to come up with numerical similarities, to force out mysteries from the results. Some cemetery visitors around or near me must have thought I was deep in prayer, because of my posture, and the suggestion of concentration it conveyed.
Cold breezes remind me what I needed to do that night. I do not stay long there. I should've said a prayer. But I do not know what I would've said. I think it is better to visit the dead when one is at home, drinking coffee, staring at the sky outside, at a wall, while on a traffic jam, browsing through photo albums, or in one's writing, in an essay, story, or poem. Visiting someone's grave is depressing, is affirming not only the dead-ness of dead bodies one used to know but their souls as well, like they're not part of you now, and, therefore, must warrant a 'physical' visit to pull them back to your memory. Whenever I see those stones, I see memories named in stone. I go back there, over and over again, as though trying to reclaim alignments, inevitable displacements.
INNOCUOUS - KIKO ESCORA
122 x 113 cm. Charcoal on Paper. 2001.
The women are extravagant with lace
They listen to Lady Day incessantly.
They, too, wear flowers and the tooth marks
of tiny metal needles.
Love is killing them.
Love is killing them.
They buy French negligees
to weep in.
They wait at cold windows
in high-heeled satin sandals,
fixed like moths in reverse,
drunk on the draft.
Their feet turn blue.
Young men refuse them,
saying they hate women that cling.
Their arms fall off.
They are exquisite with silence,
undemanding as a vase of out-of-season
gardenias, perishing quiet as transplanted skin.
They chart their abandonment.
Glistening empty shell
of vodka and heroin.
They know what it is to be limbless,
to bury a father,
to cross the damp grass,
select the plot.
Their daughters don’t call.
It’s been six years since that cruise to Jamaica.
Love is killing them.
Love is killing them.
They do not expect marriage proposals
or hand-painted dolls of porcelain
in a Christmas stocking.
They’re no one’s girl.
That’s how the cards fell.
Seven of cups, the kings upended.
They keep going, polishing their scars,
begging for love, saying give me a postcard,
a trinket, a pat on the head,
a promise, even if you break it.
Night is dammed by hidden gas lamps,
chill as the rained into basement rooms
where forbidden séances are held
and the occasional dead enter
edgy as insomniacs,
nerves bitten raw by worms,
flesh diaphanous as incense.
Such women are tough as glass.
Sing to them, they shatter.
This poem is borrowed from
I feel I'm clicking my mouse endlessly to numerous links, and the mouse's journey through information, after information, and into information forms a highly elastic narrative. It feels brilliant. There are times I remember Ron Silliman. But that's not a comparison.
Night lights can be comforting, while driving home from work. They give you a glow inside, shades and saturations of neon in salty fast-food, dripping greasy welcome to another phase in your day-night convergences. You don't want to drive fast, because you don't really want to go home yet. You pretend you are homeless, wandering, on the road, at home in anything intangible. You think about buying groceries, putting gas in your car, or stop by a convenience store for a cup of coffee. The options are laid out before you, ready to be ignored. You keep driving into what you're about to think or do spontaneously.
You don't take the freeway this time, but a longer route, through a road that winds downhill. Again, there's music in your car, but its volume isn't too loud. Traffic lights appear between long intervals on that road. You don't want to stop on a red light, and so you press on your gas the way you press in what can be. On your rear-view mirror, you see cars, and feel the shadows in your thoughts. Soon, you will tailgate someone yourself, who will get annoyed and slow down a bit.
Trees along the road uniform to colors of denied expectations, the color of shadows, silhouettes. You've opened your window a bit for some air. You glance at the time on your dashboard, still early for anything related to rest. You can feel the speed of your car. But the feeling doesn't have anything to do with adrenaline, maybe boredom, or that thing about driving that moves your body while not necessarily moving your body, that sweet sensation of being transported somewhere, into the rippling haloes of invisible moonlights.
And to some, what trails
a period of bad romance is an
age of permutations,
which probably nurtures
eras of reputations.
Mood in Age of Permutations depicted here:
Poem originally appeared at BlazeVox 2010.
And for recent discussions about poetry, visit:
Galatea Resurrects #15.
Santiago Bose, "Can't go back Home again", Mixed Media, 87 x 123, cms, 1998.
We dissolve into wounds, the way moonbeams huddle in scent of flowers knotting redundant dreams into symmetries in foreboding. Our convictions slice us through colors of blood, into a body, of convulsions, erratic, rhythmic as bees buzzing around premonitions blooming petals of a city pollinating.