Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Little Bird Whispers

A little bird whispers into the ear of a monster, Qaddiysh,
A secret that wounds the heart of darkness.

There is a light that cannot be unshone.
There is a love that cannot be undone.
Two sparks separated by a million years
Two hearts with a single rhythm
Can never be apart, can never be alone
Are ever one. Dark Angel, one.

Space pushes every point in heaven and earth
Time shares every cry in the pain of birth
Your strength, your will, your malefaction
Are swallowed without your satisfaction

What cannot be counted cannot be destroyed
Your impotent pleasure strikes into a void.

Though the fires you set rage across the fields
The corn still stands, the wheat still waves
The winds blow gentle, the hot sky yields
The rains that harvest's bounty saves.

Though demon legions you command to come from hell's dominion
To scar the faces now upturned with eyes firm fixed on heaven
I sit here on your shoulder freely singing that song given
By love to all from whom the light your presence now is driven.

len bullard - sept 17 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Have Cancer: You WILL Beat This

So far so good.

Cancer treatment is orders of magnitude better these days as they are much better with dosing in chemo. Radiation is still a bitch. There are a few pointers.

Attitude is everything.

People will hear and become somewhat death obsessed. If you are the patient, the first day you are told is just... awful. Scary. And the next week or so aren't much better. Then attitude kicks in, the sense of humor and that is good. But people start dropping by who think they are seeing you for the last time and you want to be polite but don't listen. Get this fixed in your mind: YOU are going to beat this.

And the odds are good you will.

You have a long stretch of the legs to travel, so this is a time that it is ok to put yourself first. Selfish isn't.

Steroids: if your treatment includes steroids, they don't call them rage roids for nothing. Word. I took a good friend's head off one night on FB for nothing important. Soooo... when taking roids, social media isn't.

Depending on the treatment, it's mostly inconvenient but what you will see at a cancer institute is often worse than what you are enduring. I won't get into it here but if you are even mildly empathetic, some of it is heartbreaking. On the other hand, the staff at these centers do the work of saints and you'll be treated as well as you ever will be in your life. Keep in mind they are seeing what you are seeing every day. Appreciate that. Attitude is everything,

Last and touchy for some, if medical marijuana ever comes up in your state, vote for it. It works. Enuff said.

Treatment is not without side effects. The main one is fatigue. Over the course of typically six months it will wear you down. Get sleep, don't fret about it. You need it. Not everyone loses all their hair. Agains it depends on the treatment. Most thin out but that comes back. There was a lady in our group who had a box of wigs and every one was named. She pulled out one long red haired wig and said "My husband really likes Raquel" and smiled.

Attitude is everything.

Another problem is your immune system will go to zero. Some people choose to stay home for most of the treatment. I worked in a surgical mask because I had a job where people needed to know I could be there. Some can; some can't. Choose for yourself but this is a good time to have a hobby you can do alone because you do need to control who has close access to you. I composed a Latin mass (with full orchestration and four part harmony in the spirit of Arlo Guthrie). When asked why, I said that when I die I don't want the funeral home to play bad Amazing Grace and at my last gig, dammit, it would be MY music. If that seems odd, the point is simply take this time to do the work that makes you feel most satisfied. That way you keep anxiety down and you will feel better. Whatever you do best, whatever makes you feel that you are in control of your life, do that.

Attitude is everything.

Cheers. It is tough but you are going to beat this and when you do, you will change and for the better. This is a disease that will get your attention, make you cherish what is worth cherishing, and rise up.

Good hunting!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Forest In A Wasteland: The Challenge of Decency

One person making a huge difference. All by himself, slow and steady. (Thanks, Katy!)

Decency manifests one man, one seed at a time. Yet one man's work can disappear in a single year if other decent men do not value and protect it.

This is the great question before us. We believe we are a nation of decent people and that this decency is our most valuable asset as we stand before the world offering leadership. But I look at the behavior of our elected leaders, I see the corruption from Wall Street, I experience the fraud and lieing of even local organizations, established companies and I ask myself if this is still true, if this decency has become a feint, a means to exploit us and take the work of single men, the profits of local initiative and give it to others to add to their own accounts?

A man can plant a forest. Another man can cut the wood and sell it to light the fires that forge the weapons that kill decent men everywhere, and who will stop them without the same weapons until at last there are no trees to burn, and no decent men to plant more?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment Center

Color Photos courtesy of Allison Lewis

Some people travel to the southeast to see the arts, visit the old studios in Muscle Shoals, see the zoo in Birmingham, maybe make a quick stop in Huntsville to look at the rockets and travel on sure they have sampled the best Alabama has to offer.  They are wrong.

If you go a few miles further past the Saturn V standing on I-565 in Huntsville, and if you know where to turn, you may see an old cotton mill that once housed a shoe factory called Genesco.  Long ago it was a major employer for the hundreds of workers who sat within the redbrick walls on the wooden floors cutting a sewing in the sweltering summer heat as the aging machines labored. 

Then it was closed, employees sent home and Huntsville lumbered into the Space Age as the rocket ships plowed their way like mules into the blue skies and on to the Moon.

But the buildings remained.

And the city that built the rocket ships changed as new high tech industries made the local research park home to more diversified and in some ways darker places to work.  As weapons industries replaced America's ambitions in space, as the universities grew and the city spread out beyond the emerald necklace of green hills that once circumscribed the city proper, quietly the art communities also expanded. 

Where once there was only the old Arts Council housed in an ancient city school, then torn down to make a parking lot and the arts scattered across the city, when all of the counter culture artists could be gathered into a small bungalo for a party, suddenly there were many many more artists. And they found a champion in the owner of Hudson Alpha, a genetics firm, who bought the old Lowe Mill and dedicated it to the arts. 

For the past few years, the factory space was transformed into galleries, studios, and artists, painters, dress makers, rug makers, photographers, collectors and sellers of old clothes and even a maker of cigarbox guitars took residence.  The loading dock became a concert stages and bands from the southeast began to play free concerts. 

And the crowds came.  2000 to 5000 people a week come.  And they still come.  And it is marvelous, joyous, light and wise.

And if you come to Alabama, you should come to the largest single arts studio in the Southeast and possibly the country.  Walk in the shops, visit the theatre, see the place where young movie makers come to be trained.  Come to what is made when independents gather in one place and call it home.  There are seven galleries, ninety three studios, over one hundred and forty eight artists, and soon thiry per cent more space as another building is opened,

This is love.  And love is never wrong.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Digital Nudes. Turned On Yet?

The article says we should be very upset about digital crimes.  We should. We definitely should. Meanwhile most are googling for the nudes...

 Then this "And rightly so, because these photo leaks aren’t sex scandals. They’re sex crimes."

No they aren't.

They are theft of property just like stolen movies and stolen music. This is the web and if you don't want it stolen, don't use the technology. It was designed by social nitwits for other social nitwits and enabled the biggest wealth transfer in technical history to the technologists who designed it without safeguards.

If they can make this someone else's fault, they'll feel better and maybe she will like them. Meanwhile as another writer noted an infinite supply of idiots is required to keep financing the systems that enable the very actions the nitwits are calling crimes because the idiots and nitwits embarassed someone who posted nude photos of herself based on the promises of nitwits to idiots.

And so it goes.

The Importance of The Ecosystem of Expression

A response to Jon Taplin'e excellent post on supply and demand of quality art in the age of digital distribution and a million channels with nothing on (If Great Art Was Popular Again):

You have to square the originalist over traditionalist issues of culture and see the curator as not being a barrier to access but a preserver of what is important. Access to what is good is controlled by the artist who determines how they will be distributed in so far as that is possible. Kate Bush satisfied herself with a comfortable lifestyle instead of a fabulously wealthy and notoriously public lifestyle, waited thirty five years to go live again, then in one series sold 100,000 tickets in fifteen minutes, policed the theatre for cameras and stands to recoup many times that amount with the DVD release. IOW, controlling one's own greed is part of the strategy.

The example quoted in another article about Duane Allman is too one dimensional. If the curator says only Allman's slide playing is important because it is best, he tells George Harrison to never bother to pick up a slide. It isn't a pyramid. Good enough in the right setting is good enough. In fact, an a-list approach is now impossible. The curator has to distinguish between popular and important because one is driven by market economics and it is not possible to dam that up with critiques. Vaudeville stood side by side with broadway and HoneyBooBoo for the short time she lasts stands side by side with Meryl Streep.

I play a few gigs. I usually fill the room with people who are of a certain age and economic demographic. I play quality material from others and some of my own. I compete with kids who beat guitars, sing songs of either sugarlove or suiciderockkillmania. They play often to one or two fans and the drunk who owns the seat. Quality has to compete on its own and by dint of serious hard work. The money is exactly the same and that is tough to solve. However, when there are more people playing in rooms, more rooms need people to play so one has to admit that 500 channels is better for the artists even if hard on the curators as long as the curator believes it is their tastes that determine success and that gatekeeping is more important than preservation or promotion.

The key is the ecosystem of expression. Henry Burnett said it: "I only work with the best." And that works as long as his timing and what he has to say is relevant. But for every OBWAT, there will also be a Secret Sisters that where production quality is high, the material falls flat and fails to find an ear craving to hear that. The Hunger Games were created not by the movie industry but by the youth book industry. Knowing when a message is ready to be heard is easily as important as knowing what is of quality. Pop art and classical art, what is saleable and what is worth keeping, what is original and what will become traditional cannot be divided. You cannot build dams in a flood and they aren't worth having in a desert.

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