Monday, July 30, 2012

REQUIEM; a lost verse

I came across this single typed sheet of paper today. It is a poem, or verse, my mother wrote in college, winning first place in something or other related to 'English'.

It reminded me of her, and I thought how much she would protest me reading it aloud. She often thought of art as a subtle and private experience. I assume she would have taught me this, eventually, had she been able to get me to stop singing and get down off the roof.

This is for you, Mom.
I think it's darkly beautiful.

A poem, written by my Mom, in her college days:


The streets are still...
Women of Corinth have threaded their way,
Through tumult, homeward
To dream troubled dreams.

The palace is silent...
Little wisps of smoke
Still curl
Into the courtyard
Over trampled bodies and into the night,
Trailing, perhaps,
In her flight to Athens.

Even the sky is quiet...
Clouds that darkened day
Have fled,
Perhaps to Athens,
Leaving the moon to gild
And to gleam upon the solitary
Who, alone, holds vigil
For the dead.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Can See My House From Here.

Today's view;

Each act is connected, through our perception of the timeline,
to an infinitely complex series of other acts that conspired to
bring it about. 
Each drop of rain has traveled billions of miles, from the sea
to the sky and back again, over and over, for millennium after
millennium, never repeating it's journey in quite the same way.

 Once one turns their gaze outward from the center of awareness,
each and every direction constitutes an infinite number of details
in an infinite number of actions and experiences, stemming from
the beginning of time and casting shadows of possibilities in to the
future, some of them to be steered by those aware and awake
enough to see their subtle paths.

Love Rules All Things.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Wendell Pierce, Kabuki Hats; Stone Cold Pimping or Sharing The Love?

 It has come to my attention, again from NOLAfemmes, as well as Tracy Thomson, herself, that Wendell Pierce, "Actor, Producer, Business & Community Development, Entrepeneur, Star of HBO's THE WIRE & TREME!" as he calls himself, has 'tweeted' some rather horrible things about New Orleans artist, Tracy Thomson and her business, Kabuki Hats.

 To see what the trouble is all about, go to the Kabuki site, and click on the link that says; "Click here for your Uncle Lionel Memorial Watch".

The Story

 Tracy was friends with 'Uncle' Lionel Batiste. But then again, like the late Coco Robicheaux, Uncle Lionel was friends with just about everybody he met.
Especially the Ladies.
He was just that way with people, and everybody loved him for it.
Again, especially the Ladies.

When Lionel Baptiste died, there was an outpouring of love.
NO, make that LOVE.
It was overwhelming. It poured from everyone, everywhere, and pictures were posted all over the internet, faster than one could download them. Everybody who was anybody had their picture taken with Uncle Lionel. I saw him dancing in Sweden, holding court in Denmark, heading up a second line in Paris. It was as if the world had come together in certain circles, literally reaching out across oceans & continents, with the Love this man inspired.

 There was similar outpouring after last Thanksgiving, in response to the death of another local legend, Coco Robicheaux. At that time, there were also pictures displayed at his second line, converted to clothing, given away at altars, and downloaded from various fans & loved ones, distraught & reaching out, struggling with their loss, both collective & very, very personal. For both these men were friends to many, many people in their community.

Some pictures of the Coco Robicheaux Second Line Posters & Picture Art are here:

 So, back to our story... Tracy Thomson is a self employed, independent artist, living & working in New Orleans for decades. Her business, Kabuki Hats, is her job, her passion and her income. While she has worked relentlessly towards liberating & celebrating independent artists, like herself, she has shown little interest in capitalizing on these things, instead, working on her own, or with partners, to get them started, and then letting them go on with a life of their own.
To her credit are such things as Dirty Linen Night, and the Annual Costume Sale on Frenchman Street, where she & Cree McCree were famously raided under Serpas' War on the Arts.

In short, she is a foot soldier for Free Expression, when called or inspired, yet inevitably finds her way back to the work she loves, the various studio spaces she has called home, and the hats & cats that turn up as if by magic.

 During this outpouring over the death of Uncle Lionel Batiste, she created a silly cardboard watch, a copy of the one that Lionel wore so religiously, and adorned the face with is image, as a tribute one might carry at the second line, much as pictures of Coco had been freely handed out at his own memorials. This practice happens across the world, by the way, as mourners carry pictures of passing loved ones along their funeral routes. I have personally seen this in New York's China Town.

 Tracy went so far as to get permission from the photographer to use this picture without compensation. This is typical of her, to get others to offer freely of themselves, just as she does, and then put in the work to bring it together, on her own, afterwards. She posted this image online (see the link at the beginning), so anyone & everyone who wanted to express that love, would have a way to do it. She offered these to the Batiste family, and they accepted, and has since been asked by Lionel's Nephew, Markieth, to make more for the pallbearers at Lionel's funeral, as she stated on the NOLAfemme blog, in her typically polite response to Pierce's ugly attacks;

"I have been asked by Markieth, Lionel’s nephew, to make memorial watches for the pallbearers at Lionel’s funeral. I have made beautiful tributes at many New Orleans funerals, from banners to flags to fans, and have never asked to be compensated. As you might notice, I do not even have my website printed on the watch. People wore them in the second line, proudly, on their left hand, as Lionel did. I hope your followers DO click on the link that you posted above, there is a full explanation of my intentions, and they can print one out for themselves, as a tribute, not a trinket."

 "A Trinket", you ask? Why call it "a trinket"? Because, as Wendell Pierce, "Actor, Producer, Business & Community Development, Entrepeneur, Star of HBO's THE WIRE & TREME!" sees it;
Tracy Thomson is "Pimping Out" Uncle Lionel by doing this.

 You can scroll through and see his various tweets about this, here.

His first tweet, however, sets the tone for the rest:

"Is Uncle Lionel's image being used to profiteer without compensation to his estate or family? "

A few hours later, without ever having contacted Tracy, although her information is clearly on her site, Mr. Pierce exclaims:

"A special place in Hell for the people"pimping"UncleLionel's image at the time of his death.Advise the family to trademark his image."

About five minutes later, perhaps further misunderstanding the situation, he posts:

"Just because you own the photo of UncleLionel in a public place during a second line doesn't give your the moral right to cash in."

And finally:

"You want to pay tribute buy his records. Treme Brass Band, don't give away his image as a trinket. "

 Anyway, you get the gist of it. And what stands out to me in this thread of tweets since the first one of the 14th is this; most of his other tweets are about business ventures he has seen throughout his travels, and how to clone them in New Orleans.

Perhaps it is Mr Wendell Pierce who has 'appropriation of ideas' on his mind, coupled with a healthy dose of 'cashing in'. It isn't hard to imagine one's own mindset coloring what they perceive in others. In fact, that's about the most profound thing we humans have come to understand and deal with. Except of course, Mister Wendell Pierce, "Actor, Producer, Business & Community Development, Entrepeneur, Star of HBO's THE WIRE & TREME!"

 Mister Pierce makes his money as an actor on a program that exploits the deaths and struggles of an entire city, pretending to be a horn player, until such time as he can fly around Europe, looking for cool business Ideas to bring back to the Idea Village, where he is now on the Board of Directors.

I would think that a man so in touch with the cutting edge, so powerful, with so many goddam titles after his name that I filled up my clipboard twice trying to copy and paste them, a man with 32 THOUSAND FUCKING READERS at his finger tips, would know what he was talking about before trying to crush a small independent business in the very town where he claims he wants to help develop small independent businesses.

 Or maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe he isn't drunk with the power he associates with his own image, careening around the world, ripping off somebody else's clever plan, to bring it to the 'Idea Village', and tweeting whatever stupid fucking rumor he thinks he knows something about to THIRTY TWO THOUSAND FUCKING PEOPLE.

I don't think he's that kind of a guy, do you?

So, why don't you ask him?

 Ask him why he jumped in between two friends, saying goodbye as one passed from this world, an artist and the family of the departed, sharing images & memories that may comfort them all, and most importantly, why he is so fucking critical of those who were here, dancing in the rain, celebrating the life of an inspiration that likes of which we may not see again, instead of in Paris, studying how to make money by renting bicycles to tourists.

Because that sounds a hell of lot more like pimping than loving your friends enough to work for free.

His Facebook page is here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Artist & The Golden Arches

Has anyone else seen the new McDonald's commercial, where the 'ART GUY' gets inspired and paints a mural on his wall, made up of McDonald logo shit? All his trendy hipster friends dance about cleverly, crunchy munching on Shit McNuggets?

I really like it, except for the mural, the food & his friends. I think he should realize he's a corporate shill, and stick a pistol in his mouth, decorating the wall with what's left of his brains. Yeah. That'd be a much better way to go, McDonalds.

Petition to Stop the Cummings Monstrosity @ 501 Elysian Fields

The Petition

June 12, 2012
The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association was founded in 1972 in response to the actual and proposed erection of buildings of a height and design which overpowered the existing architectural fabric of its neighborhood. Specifically, the 75 ft tall Christopher Inn at 2110 Royal St.   Residents worked painstakingly with city officials to enact zoning that would ensure the historic neighborhood was protected from such over-sized buildings in the future by establishing a 50 foot height limit.  This 50 foot height restriction is, to a large extent, responsible for the neighborhood preserving its nineteenth-century character to this day.  The proposed construction of a 75 foot building at the foot of Elysian Fields and the rumored proposal of oversized parking garages on city-owned sites on the avenue suggest that the height limit that has protected this historic neighborhood for nearly 40 years is at risk.

Facts about the proposed development at 501 Elysian Fields:

1 – The current design creates a 6 story tall (73 feet) dwelling tower at Elysian Fields and a 4 story tower (48 feet) at Marigny Street.  The project could easily fit within the current zoning if the tower buildings were spread more evenly over the entire 31,000 square feet area.

2 - Other nearby developments have been successfully completed without major zoning changes.  For example, Los IsleƱos condominium project at 1029 Esplanade Avenue and the Aloysius Apartments at 1137 Esplanade which is on a similarly sized lot (28,550 sq.ft.) are both appropriate developments that fit into the neighborhoods and respect the 50 foot limit.

3 - The developer is asking permission to have a much higher density than what is currently allowed (lot area of 496 square feet per dwelling instead of 600 square feet) and is currently in use in the remainder of the block.

4 – Historically, the neighborhood has received substantial benefits for agreeing to even minor zoning variances.   The proposed project offers nothing to the neighborhood in exchange for major zoning variances: a 50% height increase, parking deficit, and density increase.  

5 - Developments such as this may go through a “Value Engineering” phase where many promised and sought after aspects are eliminated because they cost too much.  Neighbors do not want this project as currently proposed and fear further harm through Value Engineering

6 – Granting a variance of 70+ feet sets a dangerous precedent for the development of the other vacant properties and warehouses in the Marigny, increasing the danger of ever taller buildings in the 19th century neighborhood.

Historic Marigny Zoning was created 38 years ago to protect the Faubourg Marigny and maintain its historic scale and we, the residents, have spent the last 38 years ensuring that this zoning has been kept intact.

As stewards of this historic neighborhood we, the undersigned, insist that the city enforce and adhere to the zoning standards as defined in the existing zoning ordinances and reaffirmed in the master plan meetings held in 2008-2010, specifically the 50 foot height limit.

(*Information above is reposted directly from the petition site.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Double Edge

She is light, and gossamer,
a sonata, and rose petals,
dancing in the breeze.
Her heart is a song
for every living thing
and quiet beauty is her home.

She comes to me often
speaking of the love
that plays softly as violins,
and of her flock and family
and the flowers that grow
along the walls she tends.

I am drawn to her endlessly,
falling around her like dew
and letting the pure clean
air of her spirit wash 
my darkness back.

I could not stand a world
where we were separated
nor could I live to see
her suffer any pain.
In that hides the blade,
the double edge I carry,
as sharp as devils claws
and dangerous to even see.

For beneath my steady,
friendly gaze there lives
a monster, scaled & smoking,
talons sharp & hungry
for the meat of destruction,
a Render of Worlds and 
bringer of the End of Times,
alone and suffering,
always ready to explode. 

And while I dance with her
to songs of sylvan days
and laugh into the night,
drunk on heaven's wine,
I know that at any moment
a claw may slip free,
or the edge of a protruding scale,
may cut deeply into
sacred and innocent flesh
and I would never know
until the dance had ended
and I held a lifeless body
where once beauty
had ruled supreme.

Then I would be alone
and chained to stones
of sadness and regret,
unable to escape this world,
but trapped here in
her forever dying day.

For beneath my steady
friendly gaze there lives
a monster, scaled & smoking,
talons sharp & hungry
for the meat of destruction,
a Render of Worlds and 
bringer of the End of Times,
alone and suffering,
always ready to explode. 

LD - Full Moon, July, 2012