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Monthly Archives: September 2014

…stole. A copy of Smithsonian Magazine was open to an ad for the DVD and Blu-Ray editions of Ken Burns’s THE ROOSEVELTS. The cover of the items for sale was photo-based but with an anachronistic twist. I initially wanted to do some portrait practice on Franklin, but I ended up doing them all, pencil-reporting and preserving (stealing) the positioning and the anachronism. I did try to add a little more inner beauty to Eleanor, a little more wide-eyed goodtobehere to Franklin, and a little more walrus to Theodore.

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I also stole the design of the cover of a memo book produced by Mead Products, LLC, but only to the end of getting some black background, the amazing letter string “memo,” about which more later, and the occlusion of “Mead” so that it might also say something else, like “Meanderlust” or “Meant Not To Be.” Art critics love stuff like that, based on historical evidence, but, honest, folks, I did it because it was the right thing to do!

As to “memo,” not only does it start such magical words as Memorial and Memoirist, it also splits into “me mo,” which is falseghetto for “I want more.”

I don’t think there’s a very high probability that I’ve created a great work of art with this, but I hope it and this annotation give satisfation as something more that portraiture exercise. I wanted to illustrate through caricatured example that what we think of as ART requires more than what the artist does on paper or canvas or stone or sheetmetal; it also requires the thoughts and opinions of others in the Art Business.

For the record, I don’t think stealing makes me a Great Artist. Hard work, skewed thoughtlines, and perseverance MAY do that. It is for others to judge my worth.

Lastly, I’ll steal a terrific seven words from Allen Ginsberg:

“I forbid you not to touch me.”

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SEPT: A group believing itself derived from a common ancestor.
EMBER: A small piece of wood or burning coal in a dying fire.

OCTO: Prefix for Eight.
BE: Exist.
R: The interjectory noise a pirate makes.

September Songlet

The good September’s here, but not to last.

October waxes as September wanes.

Be both of that as may and as has passed

Each year brings her September labor pains.

Ectopic pregnancies, some: touch and go.

October in September’s womb grows huge.

Rough gusts presage the broken waterflow

Now whirling in gestation’s centrifuge.

October pushes through September’s tissue

Through gauze as underlies a cap and gown

Through portalled Time which adds her to her issue

Out in to Real, with scarcely time to crown.

But some September echoes still resound

Echoic of the Fall of Grace she’d ground.

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As with a good deal of other human endeavor, this text-based image is a happy-accidental cacophony of One Thing Leads To Another, with an overlay of a consciousness trying to make sense of it all. What luck it was that “Psychosis” is choppable into equal three-character strings, and hey! so is “Symphonic!” And Wow–“Psy” names a pop star of Korean roots, and so does “Cho!” A lookup of “Sis” yields–WOW!!! “Secret Intelligence Service,” aka MI16!!!! And so forth.

Early on in this image I’d intended to ask a musically-gifted friend to compose the three ending bars of the Psychosis Symphony–but the crazy-minded flavor of my acrostics made the route I took here suit the subject more fittingly. There is just enough musical notation to frame the elements, and that is another happy accident.

“Psychosis” words:

Paste-effacement is no basis
Prawn-bowl cause could lead to stasis

Shown shorn wraiths of Anasazi
Sphagnums guest heat into ziti
Spared a tool with Luca Brasi
Scarfed aphasic Nefertiti

Yet heard echoes of glissandos
Yaw pitched metaphoric rondos

“Symphonic” words:

She’ll help with a hum/bello piñon
Suppress an oppressivish minion

You might hear from Lauper, Cyndi
Yearn & search for Don’t Bee koi
Yes, & werebeests’ hoped-for chindi
Yet may garnish fresh bok choi

Might need to enshroud a Jung maniac
Moo, Zeke! It’ll get downright zany, Mac

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Some day we’ll have a thought-recorder (though it may be argued that stuff like the above image IS a thought-recorder) and people will be astonished to read the transcripts of their own thoughts, let alone those of others. The Surrealists, I think, were on to something.

This morning I wrangled with my mother about how she needs to come up to Cottonwood for a visit, and bring photos of my grandmother Caroline while she’s at it. She says I am a good noodge but no dice for now. (Here’s what A.Word.A.Day says about the etymology of “noodge”: “From Yiddish nudyen (to pester, bore), from Polish nudzic. The word developed a variant spelling ‘nudge’ under the influence of the English word ‘nudge’. A cousin of this word is nudnik (a boring pest). First recorded use: 1960.” The meaning they give is “To pester; to nag.”)

The thing is, I found this folder called “received” in my Hotmail. In the folder were many things I felt needed saving. Among them was this exchange with my mother, about six and a half years ago. “Caroline,” as I say, is my grandmother, Mom’s mom. She was much involved with the Los Angeles theatre scene, and had a close relationship with Josephine Dillon, Clark Gable’s first wife and acting coach. (More about her, and her and Gable, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Dillon ) My Uncle Paul says Caroline “discovered” Alan Ladd, and though Paul is often full of beans, I believe him on this one.

I don’t clearly remember, but I think what prompted the exchange was that I’d mentioned the sonnet I wrote about Caroline in phone conversation with Mom. The other sonnet I probably decided to throw in to lighten up the heaviness of Caroline’s.

Here, edited for formatting and “order of play,” but not for content, is the e-mail exchange:

*****

—–Original Message—–

From: Gary Bowers
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008
To: Jane Stoneman
Subject: Poetry

Here’s the Caroline sonnet:

A Sonnet for Grandmother Caroline

My Mom was born of you in ’35,
And Uncle George emerged in 1940.
And then you died, and then I was alive,
And I have been Theatrical and Sporty,
And feel I owe you that, from what I’ve heard,
Ah, with such matters we don’t know enough—

May be in my beginning was your Word
And maybe therefore MY words aren’t too rough.
A grandchild has a tentacled inheritance

Meandering like ivy through the past
And though my Mother may have deigned to bear a dunce
A dunce can have his moments, can be cast
Ashore with some Survival tools marked Other
Attained, obtained, retained from Mother’s Mother.

And here’s the other one:

I’ve steered around this fourteen-line arenA
Near thirty years–sometimes it leaves me numB
To wrest the meaning from beneath Odd’s ThumB
Engagingly as Dawn on Sand VerbenA
Refreshingly as Eyesight cleared by LasiC
Laconically as sibilantic WinD
Omnivorously as a Glutton’s sinneD
Capriciously as Art Nouveau then BasiC
Until equivalents of Holes in OnE
Take form from all my Darkness Joy and GrieF
I’ll scriven by the Ream all my BelieF
Onto the Page unto my last All DonE
Nor do I feel Success so far–but CryinG
Should NEVER interfere with TryTryTryinG

Cheers,

Gary

From: Jane Stoneman
Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2008
To: Gary Bowers
Subject: RE: Poetry

Cried with Caroline.  Laughed with ABBACD.  1 – 2 – 3, Mom

*****

1 – 2 – 3 is family shorthand for “I love you.”

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Dewey is a rat, and a fun one at that; so says my replacement on the Graveyard Shift, who is Dewey’s human.

Why is Dewey in the midst of Erratic? Just my erRATic sense of play at humor, and vice versa.

Here are the words to the quintuplesque acrostic:

Histrionic nonmouse idling-whiskered bulby-eyed
Eats preys scampers madly–synchronicity gone wide
Let the record show and tell a rat’s lot’s tough and low
Loathsome inhumanity yields rocky rows to hoe
O for Pizza cheesy with a crust that’s not too doughy

(Dewey really does eat pizza.)

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Every hundredth post I’ve tried to do something special. Post #600 happens to coincide with something special I was asked to do on Facebook over five days’ time. Each day I was to post three things I was grateful for. Here is what I wrote, consolidated. My thanks to Mary Magdic, who put me up to it.

My friend in the Great Northwest, “Magic” Mary Magdic, nominated me to post 3 things for which I am grateful over the next 5 days. So, hip-ho and away we go:

Day 1:

1) I am grateful to have co-created my daughter Kate. She is my life’s joy.

2) I am grateful to have had Romance in my life. Ladies, you know who you are. [smiles] I am especially grateful for the romantic journey I have had with my Sweetheart, Denise Huntington.

3) I am grateful for an array of friends diverse in gender, interests, and DNA, with some friendships going back fifty years and some newer than my involvement in Internet social media. My friends are trustworthy, helpful, kind, and many other qualities found in the “A scout is…” litany, though some are not all that clean and a few are downright irreverent.

Gratitude inventory, Day 2:

1) I am grateful for the 21st-Century technology that has enabled me to reconnect with past friends, meet and make new friends, preserve my thoughts in blog form effortlessly, and enjoy the thoughts of many others.

2) I am grateful to be living in a gorgeous, colorful Valley whose laws severely limit light pollution, enabling spectacular night skies.

3) I am grateful for the existence of the Higgs boson, which (as I understand it) enables the accretion of cosmic fuzz into elemental matter, and thus provides us with a miraculous venue, including our humble selves.

Gratitude inventory, Day 3:

1) I am grateful that my mother, who will celebrate her 80th birthday in January, and looks like she’s good for at least another 20 years, raised me and my brothers with a zero-tolerance policy regarding racism. I am lucky to be her son.

2) I am grateful to have had full-time employment for more than a year and a half, with work that is both fulfilling and accommodating–a perfect “day job” for a creative though many of the work hours have been in the dead of night.

3) I am grateful, after so many years of struggle, for the realization that I canNOT do “anything I set my mind to” but CAN do a certain spectrum of things that I’m not only quite good at but that I also love to do. I not only need never retire; I will never retire. Or, to cheerfully rip off the NRA, “they’ll get my pencil when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.” [smiling]

Gratitude inventory, Day 4:

1) I’m grateful that the hot dog end that was lodged in my throat, stubborn as a cork in a bottle, when I was 9 years of age and long before the Heimlich maneuver was in use, was successfully expelled before I succumbed to asphyxiation; that the 6-pound shot put that nearly collided with my head about a year later, didn’t; and that my dad was there with me during a rip tide at Pacific Beach to quell my panic and get me to backstroke my way toward shore. As to the last, a lifeguard was otherwise occupied until unneeded; he came out when my feet were firmly on the sand. If Dad weren’t there I would likely have drowned.

2) I’m grateful for the singers/songwriters who brightened my days when I was growing up–among many others, Lennon/McCartney, Janis Ian, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Carly Simon, and especially Bob Dylan were voices of sanity and resonance that served the function of guardian angels. I have a wonderful jukebox in my head now, full of the songs I love. I believe I was born just in time to enjoy a Golden Age of original music.

3) I’m grateful for the tens of thousands of miles I’ve gone on foot, walking and running, solo or with a friend or friends. The Endless Road is a well of pleasure, accomplishment and contentment that never runs dry.

Gratitude inventory, Day 5:

1) I am grateful for laughter. I love to laugh and I love creating laughter in others. Among the many who have made me laugh till my head hurts and tears come are Julius “Groucho” Marx, Bill Cosby, Gracie Allen and George Burns, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, Ben Stiller (need I say more than “Tropic Thunder” and “There’s Something About Mary”?), Rita Rudner, Roseanne Barr, Rodney Dangerfield, Margaret Cho, the other Margaret who, when asked by a guy if he could buy her a drink, replied “No thanks–but I’ll take the three bucks,” Mel Brooks and his confederates in lunacy, and my two all-time favorites, Richard Pryor and George Carlin. I’m grateful that I can call Bill Campana, who has my vote for the Funniest Person on Earth, my friend. And my sorrow at the passing of Robin Williams is tempered by the remembrances of his good friends Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, who have also made me howl. As for my own sense of humor, I know I’m not as funny as I think I am, but I also KNOW I CAN be funny, if only because I once made a dear friend of mine involuntarily and plenteously wet her pants laughing at a joke about how a girl from Xavier–nope, can’t tell that one here! [smiling]

2) I am grateful to have years of various sorts of Sobriety under my belt. My Achilles Heel is compulsive gambling, but I’m also an obnoxious drunk when drunk and a vegetative slug when stoned. I am proud and happy to not drink, not smoke anything, restrict my drug use to blood-pressure medication and over-the-counter aspirin and equivalents; and I’m exhilarated to have kept a promise to myself, made in late 2010, to give up casino gambling. I still have an addictive bent, but nowadays it keeps itself to some overeating and some excessive Internet surfing. Not having a barrel of monkeys on my back is SO liberating!

3) I am grateful for the gift of life and the gift of hope, the gift of health and the gift of limited-but-immense possibility. It is fine and profound to offer love and be offered love in return. It is ecstasy to express and to be heard and understood and appreciated. It is peculiarly fine to be afflicted and then to get better, which yields the realization that Normalcy can be Amazing. And waking up happy just to have a pulse–that’s what Life is all about to me.

You wonderful friends who’ve read and responded to my previous entries–you are also what Life is all about. Thank you so so much!