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In the middle of Arizona, off one of her highways, there is an expression of concrete and bronze, cypress and glass, vision and grit. It is Arcosanti, the brainchild of the recently departed Paolo Soleri, and it may inspire hope or despair: the Dream is magnificent, but it seems to be languishing.

P1020467Soleri imagined a not-far-from-now with five thousand residents of his quasi-colony. At present there is a floating population that is usually barely into three figures. The last “new construction” began around 2001.

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But there is enough interest, and enough revenue, to have kept the Dream alive for thirty years. I hope that the 21st century phenomenon of “going viral” happens in, excuse the play on words, concrete form, and more of Soleri’s vision sees reality–soon.

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Paolo Soleri

Possessed of crazy vision twice as wild as Mardi Gras
Avid as a Pirate and as full of yo ho ho
One of F. L. Wright’s disciples full of wherewithal
Overboard he went and climbed the Arizona floe
Latterly some choose the Dream and stay to fight the folly–nor
Ollas cease nor rooms unlease–no need for a Svengali

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Today I have celebrated my 60th birthday well. I was thrilled that the number of people I heard from was more than the number of years I’ve been alive. And my Sweetheart, Denise, took me to Arcosanti, fulfilling a long-time dream of mine, and then shopping for art supplies and then home for spice cake with coffee frosting which she baked especially for the occasion.

On Facebook, in my Notes, I published this:

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Now We Are Sixty (early draft)

Ninety years ago, A. A. Milne wrote this, speaking for his son Christopher Robin:

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

So here is my Pastiche with Panache:

When I was Ten,
I was full of Yen.

When I was Twenty,
I was full of–Plenty.

When I was Thirty,
I was Down and Dirty.

When I was Forty,
I was Snoring Snorty.

 When I was Fifty,
I was Short and Shrifty.

But now I am Sixty, and Liked, Loved, and Friended,
And hope that my Happy abides Never-Ended.

Thank you, all my friends and loves and fellow creatives and family folk and Heroes and kitty-cats and soggy doggies. Life is good!

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And since then I have done this ink-wash page for the occasion, criminally clumsy but evidence of my commitment to my good friend in the Great White North, Michel Lamontagne, that I am practicing daily:

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And what have sixty years of life on Earth done in the way of wisdom acquisition? Ironically, that the infirmities latter life brings are a distraction to further acquisition of wisdom. –Just trying to be funny there. The Number One bit of wisdom I am SLOWLY acquiring is that the High Road is the best road; by corollary, revenge-based thinking and I-Win-You-Lose action keep us from the life well lived. And just today I saw a video that included wisdom from the late, great Paolo Soleri: NONE of us are Self-Sufficient, though ALL of us may learn to be Self-Reliant.

Thanks for sharing my birthday with me, my Friends!

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The wishful-thinking portion of my brain hypothesizes that well before the end of my life we’ll be able to shape gravitational force to suit our engineering and/or recreational needs. Time will tell.

The words:

shaped forces

start with dubya add tee eff
hum the notes on Treble’s clef . . .
and with impact well-fell’d spar
passes must-err hyperbaric
ex/oh therm mix’ burny freeze
d i s s i p a t e s by slow degrees

 

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.” Les Brown, Businessman/Motivator

Colleen shot for the moon, and hit, landing at the College of William and Mary, which has been around since the late 1600s and is the second-oldest still-thriving educational institution in the United States of America. (Now go find out who William and Mary were, and be wowed.) She’s earned an Associate Professorship, and in 2013 she won their Shirley Aceto Award. She gets things done.

So for a proper tribute to Colleen, I shot for the moon. I missed. I wanted the Definitive Colleen Page to be done in ink-wash. And, appropriately, I gave it the old College Try. But I am a month or more to get unrusty enough to be able to do so, as evidenced by this Reality Check:

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So this time round I’m sticking to what I’ve been doing, which is Pencil, Plain and Tall. Here is what happened:

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One more thing about Colleen: I asked her if she had any pictures of herself that were pensive and/or serious. Some time went by, and then she replied that she couldn’t find any. When I read her reply, a memory of her floated to the surface: at a Glendale High School assembly long, long ago, she was participating in a skit to stump for a candidate for student-elected office. (I forget the candidate.) Colleen’s line was “Chalk one up for Women’s Liberation!” She delivered the line with gusto, wetting her thumb and chalking the air with it. Chalk one up for YOU, dear Colleen!

Beth Kingsley Hawkins is the Hummingbird Lady. She and her husband have a hummingbird-oriented gallery across the street from the Village Gallery of Local Artists, where Beth and I and about 40 others display. She is sweet, with long silver hair and deep smile lines, showing in her very countenance a life richly lived.

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The words:

Borderline: the makings of a rowdy foofarah

Eagles will fly over it and therein lies no flaw

Troubled citizens do well to learn and be akin

Having, SHARE thanksgivingly and everybody wins

NOTE: I admit with some sheepishness that I’m playing hooky from the monthly staff meeting today. I will blame the rain, but I hope this page helps push my karma back in the right direction.

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I have had the privilege of knowing Professor Colleen Kennedy, pictured and acrosticized above, since my sophomore year in high school. It was chiefly she who secured the Glendale High School Circus Minimus team their stunning victory at one of the annual Junior Classical League conventions. (I was on the team as well, but I was worse than useless, and we won in spite rather than because of me. Colleen was the one who supplied the answers, for instance that it was Phaethon who almost burned up the Earth with his dad Apollo’s fiery carriage before Zeus did him in with a thunderbolt.) I lost track of Colleen after high school, and found her again via Facebook, that marvelous finder of lost acquaintances.

I had wanted to render Colleen in inkwash, with both the above acrostic and a sonnet of her fourteen-letter name, in this post. Alas, I have run out of the time I set for myself to do so. But it is actually better this way: the page would have been far too busy with all of those words on it. So Part 2 will have a portrait of Colleen in inkwash, and a sonnet (only half constructed as of this writing) beneath the portrait. I’ll also say a little about her remarkable career.

The words to this one:

Combine a supple willow with a strong majestic oak
Or titanalloy bike wheel card&clothespinned on a spoke
Let Hell & Heaven honeymoon beyond the Blakean ken
Loose Loomcraft on a tapestry your only tool a pen
Eject all negativity INject a dose of Glee
Express a jazz-riffed sentiment delivered R F D
Now you’ve a bluesy CK minded indisputably

001Here is a tip of the hat to a man who makes charming and odd and oddly life-affirming movies. His is a voice with heart and ultimately against cynicism. I have festooned this page with ampersands–my way of saying “Encore!”

Here are the words, with ampersands transliterated for the sake of clarity:

Watch and learn from this commanding dreamer
With his imps and scandalous redeemer
Everlasting heart and candied sadness
Eckhart Tollesque Now and Clear unmadness
Stands and understanding rock you on
Savored grace to forge and whisk upon

My thanks to Denise Huntington for synopsizing the life and philosophy of Eckhart Tolle for me, enough to confirm that he, too, belonged on this page.

 

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Preparations are under way to switch media. Before the end of the week I should be posting a new drawing done either in ink wash or monochromatic (or nearly so) watercolor. Meanwhile, I’m trying to be less heavy-handed with pencil. My hope is that by the time I get to Washville I’ll have a steadier and less hammish hand.

As has happened before, I was merrily rolling along with this drawing, filling in value-stripes and making up the acrostic poem as I went, when the playlist in my head suddenly went mid-song to “Stop! In the NAAAAME of Love!” by the Supremes. I emerged dazedly from the creation-fog to look, really LOOK, at what I’d done so far. Soon I concluded that further fill-in and acrostic line composition would yield a visually weaker image. So I Stopped in the Name of Art, love in my heart and relief in my soul that another couple hours’ work need not be done.

However, after scanning the image and color-enhancing it, I wonder if something else is going on in my devious mind, laziness- and/or impatience-based. So I’ll have my cake and eat it too, reserving the right to resume work on, or do a remake of, this image in the future. I’ll also, though I love one-liners, complete the acrostic poem here below. (Here below: a new oxymoron! [smiles])

Ethery Energy

Entangled emissions transform what we see
Then grapple diffractively giving a damn
How skeinlike the photons in warp & woof spree
Evicting electrons with quantum-leap hammer
Revolts of the voltages keying in G
Yield patterns of randomness nonsenselessly

See also, via Internet search, “Double-Slit Experiment,” which regards diffraction/interference patterns of electrons fired one at a time through one of two slits, and prepare to be increasingly blown away the more you “understand” it. For me the light-play when a single electron seems to interfere with itself is understandably ununderstandable. “Photoelectric Effect” is a good other place to get non-clues. [smiles and shrugs]

Thirty years ago today, August 19, 1984, I took 4 hours, eight minutes and change from my non-busy schedule to finish my first marathon. It took about two and a half hours to go the first 17 miles. Then both of my calf muscles cramped when I stopped to relieve myself, and the last nine miles took a little more than an hour and a half, though it seemed a few years longer than that.

Today I looked in vain for the photo of me crossing the finish line, but I did find an ink-wash drawing I’d made of my friend Elizabeth Carson Manley that same year, and an aquatint intaglio print I’d made about half a dozen years prior to that. They and the marathon fill me with pangs of loss for what I used to do readily and now no longer do at all. Here is the image duo, with mild color enhancement:

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On a brighter note, one thing I did badly if at all back then was Versify. Today I Versified with pleasure and satisfaction, thus:

words\mean\words

deviation from the mean
takes you to another scene
going from the mean to kind
tends to from the norm unbind

deviation from the norm
may make words or actions form
if you want a pit to warm in
get invaded by a norman

deviation from the narrow
lets you feast on other marrow
wider belt’s alleviation
makes for further deviation

words in some concatenation
spark a primal fine elation
use your bean bin bong boon lean
get your wordsworth be unmean

NOTE: William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge published Lyrical Ballads in 1798, which jump-started the Romantic Age in English literature. Here’s more on him and that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wordsworth

NOTE: William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy in 1066, slaying King Harold and changing world history.