Last September 11th I got this Facebook message from my dearly beloved Aunt, Diane Householder Norrbom:

Hi Gary…this next weekend I will be in Sacramento for a celebration of Judy’s life and we will be spreading her ashes..I was wondering if you would like to write a little poem for me to share for you…she had a sweet connection with you on fb..123

I was gratified and flattered, and, being a girl who can’t say no, sent this back to Diane:

Aunt Judy Was an Astronaut

Aunt Judy was an astronaut,
The best one in our fam.
You don’t believe? I’ll tell you what:
She loved us to the Moon and back
With cheddar Swiss and pepperjack
And cut us all a mile of slack.

Her gorgeous smile made oxen quack
Her knick-knacks had a paddy whack
That kept our heartstrings in the black.
She was the Empress of our pack.

Three cheers and a SHAZAM!
I hope to see her soon,
When I go to the moon.

I begged Diane to tell me how to punch it up, but she said it was perfect as is. On Sept 20, Diane sent me this:

just want you to know your words were very much appreciated by all…123

“123” is family code for I Love You.

Today I thought it would be good to jump-start my second thousand blog posts with this page dedicated to my sweet and well-loved and -loving Aunt, Judith Lynne Cameron.

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See you on the Moon, Judy!!

 

Long ago–late March of 2007 or thereabouts–I made three photocopies of the pages of a text-and-image journal I had been keeping since late December of 2006. I spiral-bound the whole ungainly messes with the title page SOUL. I gave two of the copies to my good and encouraging friends Katie Meade (now Katie Wood) and Karen Wilkinson (now, tragically, deceased).

My soul has changed, not only with five job changes, six changes of residence, a divorce, and two other breakups, but with altered physicality, involvement in the Valley poetry scene, and meeting and making friends with over a hundred people. And a huge way my soul has changed is with the loving toil I have put into this blog. It more than anything else I have done documents my life in terms of expression.

Enough with the introduction TO the Introduction–on with the Introduction.

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Overview

Most of my posts are a combination of image and text, usually of a poem and drawing all in pencil. The reason I called the blog “One with Clay, Image and Text” is that I had intended to showcase my ceramic works along with my poetry and drawings. I regret that my clay work has been put on indefinite hold due to my equipment being garaged due to all my bouncing around, residence-wise. I hope mightily to get back into ceramics soon. Here is an example of what I had been doing with Raku way back when:

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Of my images, this is the one that has been seen the most, due to Roger Ebert’s showcasing it in one of his tweets a couple of months before he died:

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These two studies of Frank Zappa, subject of the documentary EAT THAT QUESTION: FRANK ZAPPA IN HIS OWN WORDS, are the two latest things I have done, though that will probably not be true before this post is over. These were done today while I was watching the documentary. I freeze-framed the video twice to draw these.

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This first one included a double-acrostic, “FRANK ZAPPA,” bookending the poem, in which I tried to synopsize his two striking qualities, Oddness and Honesty.

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In this second one I tried to pay tribute to Zappa’s wonderfully off-the-wall song titles by imagining a few that might fit music of his I have heard. The quotation, ” . . . give a guy a big nose and weird hair and he’s capable of anything,” WAS said by Zappa, but it is out of context: he was imagining what people were thinking after seeing him.

Ceramics, an image done almost eight years ago, and two done today–that’s a rather ramshackle Overview, but one which I hope gives a clue to how my soul has changed and how it has remained the same.

Underview

The subtitle of my blog is “A blog for the aggrandizement of Gary W. Bowers.” I am sorry to report that there is much truth to that. I have for the most part accentuated the positive and left out things I’m not proud of. I hope I haven’t been out-and-out deceitful, but some the more embarrassing and shameful aspects of my soul, such as my incessant argumentativeness and pettiness, have not been showcased in this blog. I am flawed.

Comedy and Tragedy with Real-Time Update

I just took a break from posting to finish a page I’d been working on. It includes two poems I wrote the same day. I wrote “dole,” the first one, because I was discouraged and disillusioned by the shallowness I felt I was bringing to the poetry table at the time. I was feeling like a hack. After I wrote it I realized my real agenda in writing it was cathartic: being depressed, I was trying to express my way out of the depression. This made me think of Robin Williams, and James Lipton’s comparison of Williams to Pagliacci in an interview after Williams’s tragic death. How does one cheer Pagliacci up? Well, if you’re from Glendale, Arizona, you become Fuzziwuzzy the hairless bear and sit next to Pagliacci on a park bench, and then pretend you’re in the campfire scene in BLAZING SADDLES.

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dole

is it a pineapple
or an allotment?

lack of togetherness
in an apartment?

is it a person
who once ran for prez?

is it a wrongness
when spirit won’t rise?

doleful the poe-taster
runs down the list,

sick of his cleverness,
sick of the mess.

pineapple wringing
and churchbells off key,

tears unreleased and
the rhymes wry awry

a bald bear cheers pagliacci

pagliacci was a clown,
fuzziwuzz a bear.
pagliacci wore a frown,
fuzz a lack of hair.

side by side en benche they sat,
fuzzi breaking silence
whoopicushionesque and that
gave his pal some smilance.

pagliacci said, “p. u.!”
fuzzi said, “such knowledge
fair astounds me: how you knew
where I went to college!”

since then they’re the best of buds.
heaven-made, this matchulance.
fuzz and pally, laughing studs–
no more need for flatulence.

AND, IN CONCLUSION . . .

Friends, it’s almost 1 AM. I now realize that to go further will not reveal much more of my soul that cannot be found in previous posts, which I fervently hope you’ll peruse, and I must be straining your attention span by now, if I haven’t already. More to the point, my soul is now at peace, and wishes to sleep. Thank you for sharing this one-in-a-thousand experience with me. I close with my beaming face.

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This is blog post #999.

This August 30 I turned 62. Before my birthday I told all my Facebook friends that I only wanted two things for my birthday: for people to wish me a Happy Birthday, and for people to make drawings of me with crazy hair. I provided a few photo sources for them to use if they wished.

The results were jaw-droppingly beyond my expectations. It made for a birthday to remember . . .

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This was from my friend and co-worker Lucinda. I love the amber waves of grain on top and the corkscrew pasta on the sides.

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This wonderful, lively entry was from Denise Huntington, the woman I was lucky enough to call Sweetheart for more than two years. She wrote: “Happy birthday, dear artist/poet/friend! My inner Ninny did this just for you!  A (mostly) blind continuous line drawing with minor pen embellishments and oil pastels.” My reply was “I love it, Nin. You rock! Thanks!!” It felt good to call her Nin again, though we have both moved on.

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Fellow GHS grad Suz Dykes gave me not only crazy hair, but a muu-muu and a pencil neck. She is playfully sarcastic sometimes, and golden-hearted always.

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British actress Beth Porter gave me Andy Warhol’s Little Deuce Toupe . . .

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. . . and superstar imagist from the Great Northwest, Nina Pak, did this Warholesque panel.

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Poster-parodist David Cooper bent my gender with a Doubtfire face graft. I have promised him revenge.

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Activist/Archivist Clottee Hammons said, “I gave you dreds . . .”

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. . . while award-winning state fair artist Peg Tee, wife of my cousin Larry Doane, gave me “Flock of Seagulls” on steroids.

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My aunt Diane Norrbom, who has been known to call me Cupcake, rendered this cupcake with hair.

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My gentle labyrinth-walking friend Suzy put me on a napkin and gave me a party hat and a balloon.

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Carnegie-Mellon department head Terry Irwin drew my hair skyward with a Van de Graaf generator, then, remembering my fondness for the acerbic wit of William F. Buckley, added his words: “I would like to take you seriously but to do so would affront your intelligence.” Ouch! Smile!

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Classmate Karen Garling Tornquist made a rendering remindful of Dr. Seuss.

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Classmate Vicki Dube’ Curtis, a portraiture subject of mine, returned the favor.

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Classmate Dave Bills stuck my hare and eyes on the March Hare.

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My poet friend Victoria rendered six “serving suggestions,” and I love them all.

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Russ K, creator of AMAZING ARIZONA COMICS, did this send-up of Jack Kirby’s “Kamandi, the Last Boy On Earth” with “Garmandi, the Last POET on Earth.”

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The storied Barb Storrier gave me Pompadour and Circumstance, with a cherry on top.

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Talented Artist/Poet Heather Smith-Gearns coolified me big time with rock-star shades. “I’m ready for my Rolling Stone interview, Mr. Wenner.”

My friend, poet and Studebaker aficionado Bob Kabchef did the craziest hair of all–it was so crazy it left for parts unknown. He then, in startling anatomical detail, revealed a way to get it back via hair-in-a-can and vigorous electrostatic combing.

But the winner of the Palm d’Or of my Crazy Hair Cannes has got to be Dr. Beth Lindberg’s superb rendering below:

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An absolute sweetheart, she sent me the original from her home in sunny Santa Barbara. Stay tuned for a blog post with Beth as a femme-fatale poisoner in the Noir tradition, in my Raymond Chandler forthcoming pastiche “Crazy Hair Beth.”

Lastly, I wanted in on the fun as well, so I conclude with a crazy-hair self portrait. Hope you enjoyed the show!

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This is blog post #998.

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Here are some random things about Dolores Gail Wager Quintero: She is petite, not topping five feet by much. I have known her since September of 1968. She has had two full careers, one as an agent of the US Treasury and one as a schoolteacher. She has an eye for good value for money when she shops at Goodwill. She is presently in the Boston area, though she lives in the Phoenix area with two dogs and a cat. She is a survivor of an aggressive form of breast cancer and is now proactively husbanding her energy, time and wherewithal in her continuing survival. She once managed to have two recliner chairs packed into her appropriately-named Honda Fit. The birth of her daughter was the happiest day of her life.

I had originally intended to make this a one-part post, but a combination of technical difficulties, mismanagement of time, and my realization of the importance of doing this RIGHT has turned this project into a multi-parter. How many parts remains to be seen, and when Part 2 will appear is anyone’s guess. I have Dolores’s permission to quote from her startling Facebook posts, and there is such a wealth there, from four years ago to present, that choosing what and how much of her words to present is becoming a project in itself. I hope I will do that right as well.

More than a year ago I wrote this playfully-intended limerick:

Dolores G. Wager Quintero
Is as HOT as a cut habanero.
I would treasure a date
Wrought with Pizza and Fate
But, alas! I lack Time/Space/Dinero.

I am happy to report we did eventually get together at Red Devil Pizza, and though the pizza was great, her company was so superb I hardly tasted it. It wasn’t exactly a date, though. We are not romantic (sigh).

Here are the words of the quadruple acrostic I wrote, based on her name:

Dolores Gail Wager Quintero

Deliver us a girl with Wit who wanders from HQ
Of shrewdness, Grace, and wherewithal and Gusto thru and thru
Let her stand up and be well counted, brave as Princess Di
Original and unaffected, gainful by design

RELEASE her inner wunderkind, expressive as Flaubert
Envelop her with lovingkindness gentle as a doe
Success will follow, hers and ours, revealing with a flair
Some wondrous folk shine alabaster everywhere they go

 

 

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This is blog post #997.

In “come love me (part 1)” I alluded to variations. Over the last few days I have written fragments of where this poem might have gone, had the form or first line or sentiment been different. (See Arthur C. Clarke’s book The Lost Worlds of 2001 for some way mind-twisting variations on HIS story, including an alien named Clindar who strolled to a planet’s surface from above the atmosphere, and an earlier version of HAL 9000 named Athena, who was far wickeder than Hal, saying stuff like “All systems on Poole are No-Go. It is necessary to replace him with another unit.”) Here are some ways this thing could have gone:

 

come love me

“come love me” was the pixelated message
the lover stared until its afterimage
was seen mid-blink. its urgency, its pressage
presaged a tumbling intramural scrimmage.

*****

come love me

COME LOVE ME so beckoned in text
it left the recipient vexed
and so in reply
came HOW SCARY TO TRY
and the wonder of what would come next.

*****

come love me

“come love me,” said the pixelated text.
it pulled him with its offer of delight.
resistless, he typed, “yes,” for he was hexed . . .

*****

But in the end I went with the slightest of variations:

come love me

come love me said the blinking text
come play with fire come share my bed
we’ll doff our clothes and do what’s next
with no regrets and nothing said

come love me he replied at last
we’ll dine on scones & tea & such
our eyes will meet our souls hold fast
our hope will mix our psyches touch

come love me now & bring yr trust
her answer came ten minutes hence
we will be naked as we must
our lust become our sentiments

come love me if you dare he wrote
we’ll shed our bodies get our bliss
we need no flesh to cross the moat
nor lips to frame the perfect kiss

and hour passed
two hours

ten

the silence s t r e t c h e d and
too
despair

they sought a love

had never been

they wanted something
was
not
there

*****

Tragic that these two near-lovers could have gone both ways, with the tiniest leap of imagination, and pleased each other immensely on alternate days. But both were so fixated on getting things done a certain way that it became a battle of wills. I have found again and again that if a battle of wills, and not continual accommodation/compromise, sets the tone for a relationship, that relationship is doomed. I wrote all this to sort it out. I don’t really think that such a text exchange could take place, any more than I think it is natural for people to suddenly burst into song, as in anything that calls itself a Musical or an Opera. They are fables, and so is this; but a fable, such as this, is often a quest for a greater, or underlying, truth.

Let us now put the image in focus . . .

 

 

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Here is the “final” version of “buster browne,” my acrostic homage to Jackson Browne. I put “final” in quotes because I had intended to make this an oil pastel, and I may yet, when I am sure I will not ruin it. I refer you to Part 1 for a clue as to how shaky my proficiency with oil pastel is. This drawing has nuances that I cannot yet transcribe into that more difficult medium; but I see nothing wrong with glorious black and white, for now.

The title/acrostic is “buster browne” both for the irony of the reference to the shoe spokesboy Buster Brown and for my admiration for certain of Browne’s songs, in particular “Lives in the Balance,” wherein he calls to account (busts) the Reagan Administration and its shenanigans in Central America. “Lives in the Balance” is equally applicable to other misdeeds worldwide, with passages like this:

In the radio talk shows and TV
You hear one thing again and again
How the USA stands for Freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend.
But who are the ones that we call our friends?
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who find they can’t take any more
And they pick up a gun
Or a brick
Or a stone . . .

Browne is deservedly in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. He has solid songs in each of five consecutive decades. A year ago January I recited “For a Dancer” in its entirety, from memory, at a poetry event after the death of my beloved friend Karen Wilkinson. Here is its finish:

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming round . . .
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning we may have found . . .
Don’t let the uncertainly turn you around–

( The world keeps turning round and round)

Go on and make a joyful sound!

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown;
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own,
And some time between
The time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive,
But you’ll never know . . .

Browne could be a bit of a rascal, too, with sexual innuendo. Try on his song “Red Neck Friend” and see where it gets you. And his song “Rosie,” about a sound man who lost a girl to the drummer of the band, has this chorus:

But, Rosie, you’re all right (you wear my ring)
When you hold me tight (Rosie, that’s my thing)
When you turn off the light (I got to hand it to me . . .)
Looks like it’s me and you again tonight,
Rosie.

And that is why in my drawing, in the background sub-portrait, I have Jackson Browne sporting a halo that also puts bunny ears, or devil’s horns, on him.

Here are the words, which refer to his songs “The Pretender,” “Walking Slow,” “For Everyman,” and “Running on Empty.”

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bitterness of brew and herb
urgency!!! dissolve and stir
some pretender? we dunno
though he takes his walking slow
every man ought say it plain
runs on empty keep us sane

*****

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Here is a rough cut of the illustrated version of my poem “come love me.” In Part 2 I intend to have a less sketchy illustration and a more calligraphic transcription, and I am also thinking of writing variations and additional stanzas. But as of now the words are these:

come love me

come love me said the blinking text
come play with fire come share my bed
we will disrobe and do what’s next
with no regrets and nothing said

come love me he replied at last
we’ll dine on scones & tea & such
our eyes will meet our souls hold fast
our hopes will mix our psyches touch

come love me now and bring your trust
her answer came ten minutes hence
we will be naked as we must
our lust become our testaments

come love me if you dare he wrote
we’ll shed our bodies get our bliss
we need no flesh to cross the moat
nor lips to frame the perfect kiss

an hour passed
two hours

ten

the silence s t r e t c h e d and
too
despair

they sought a love
had never been

they wanted something

was

.

not

.

.

there

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I’ve spent the last few days in an off-and-on Jackson Browne immersion. Mostly this is due to some advice I solicited from my good friend and Confidante, Genevieve L, asking her for thematic input on my last few posts leading to Blog Post #1000. Among her many wonderful suggestions was to concentrate on a famous person.

So here we are with Clyde Jackson Browne. He has been in the American-Music Group Mind for more than 40 years. Bruce Springsteen, inducting him into the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame, referred to Browne’s landmark LATE FOR THE SKY album as “America’s Paradise Lost.”

This being Part I, I will just add that from here to #1000 I intend to splice the finished image/text of a given Part 2 to the next installment’s Part 1. The next post will be titled “BB(p2)/come love me (part 1).” My Part 2s will be polished and complete; my Part 1s will be raw and exploratory.

Back in a week or so . . .