Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday at Saint Paul's

Though strictly roots RC himself, the Flaneur made this scene at this admirable Anglo-Catholic Church for their Good Friday service.

Saint Paul's Church
I was on Montecito Avenue on Palm Sunday and stopped to image-capture this Escher-like Church. Observing that the doors were open I looked further. From the vestibule one could a see chamber group playing in a lovely and sacred setting. I got a schedule of upcoming events and hoped to return.

My opportunity came yesterday Good Friday, 
Saint Paul's Choir performed Schutz' supernal lamentation
 The Seven Words of Christ on the Cross.

The Pre Raphaelite saints and angels bespeak the love of music here
Singing, it is said, is twice praying.

The venerable capellmeister leads a small chamber orchestra
in the exquisitely somber music, evoking the Passion of Jesus.
In the altar window above a magnificent image of the Resurrection.

The pastor Rev. Mauricio sits behind the altar.
He carried that very heavy cross to the altar rail 
together with two senior citizen ministers, all barefoot.
Afterward he carried it single-handedly
to begin the Stations of the Cross.

This window was more consciousness-expanding seen face to face.
At precisely 3:00 o'clock, the hour of Jesus' death,
the liturgy concluded with the ringing of a bell thirty-two times.

18 April 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter 420

The Flaneur enjoys his holiday fertility icons sculpted in Donnie Darko chocolate.

May the Easter Bunny come to your pad and freak you right out.

Holy Thursday 
17 April 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The New Ray-Bans

I had nightmare sending way for sunglasses from Ray
Despite the PO's contract with UPS and the fact that I pre-signed delivery slips, UPS didn't even try.They have no competitive interest in making USPS customers happy.
My phone battery was dead so I couldn't get alternative delivery together quickly. Just a 15 minute wait on a pay phone for no answer from UPS robot voice mail.

Then on Fri before president's day they tell me by postcard that I had one day left to go to UPS last chance outpost on the county line with Contra Costa to retrieve them.
It was farther out than Hilltop Mall and totally out of the way--a rare bus goes nearby.
My friend Chester drove me after a doctor's appointment with sand running out of the hour glass.
There we were in his quaintly anachronistic  1967 VW bus progressing along roadways crossing rolling hils arrayed before the Bay close and huge and the more distant mountains of Marin.
It was on a road off the Richmond Parkway --a locale for a Hitchcock movie like "North  by Nortwest." The office was in an isolated trailer like building fronting the resting place of elephantine trailer trucks for UPS long-hauls. You could see the Point Pinole wildlife refuge beyond UPS' grim precincts.

Two Chinese-american attendants. The lady took the postcard and squinted at it.
She went toward a back area with shelves.
But my intuition said silently, "Why are you going back there? It's over here in this small bin."
She came back,  hems and  haws as if its uncertain what I've done wrong. Then she went over to where I suspected it was and it was.
They were already shipping it back . But despite their malfeasance I finally got a modicum of relief.

Things got even weirder on the way home and I wasn't even high.
We followed signs to the "Giant Highway" ( I looked out for Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue-ox.)
Then it was a long drive through an industrial Monument Valley of towering grey black smoke stacks and the like all made chiaroscuro by my new wrap-around sunglasses with radically polarizing lenses.

(excerpt from a letter to a friend)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday

On my way to church
You're welcome to join me
lakeside to Our Lady of Lourdes

The rose was created to express red
The Incarnation is incarnadine

It's Palm Sunday,
Enter me O Jerusalem

In a side chapel
 Dedicated to Mary the Queen of Heaven
(not the Queen in Snow White)

 The marble nebula
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

Back outdoors, raised-up
Awaiting Resurrection

 13 February 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

On My Branch

The Flaneur invites readers to visit a place so deep in memory that it sometimes resurfaces in dreams.

 This is the renovated Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library located in the Elmwood neighborhood.It's on Benvenue avenue which was in 1979 the first street in town on which I lived. For another fifteen years beginning in 1984 I lived on nearby Woolsey street and worked at home on a mail-order book business. This meant I also worked at the Elmwood post office at the thriving copyshop on College avenue and at this library. I would spend a lot of time there reading for relaxation and to get out of the house as well. I kept up as a frequent visitor after I had relocate.
I lived near the University and would walk to and from St Albert's chapel in Rockridge for five o'clock Mass. The library functioned as a grateful way station where I could get water and rest.

The character of the place, less so today perhaps, is of an extended family living room with a fireplace with a gas fire in the evening and on rainy Winter days. Kids have always had a presence and it adds to a feeling of connectedness with a larger community to share the place with them.
Voting takes place here with concomitant patriotic pride of the generally left-leaning variety. I was a poll-worker myself and in the primaries there was one booth (way over on the right) for republicans and six for everyone else (demos & greens mainly).

Things like used magazine exchanges and, in the past, curious book "mini-sales" have yielded many an arcane and interesting article. I remember once huge heavy volumes of  The Golden Bough for a quarter each, treasures of Jungian archetypal ur-text for pennies.

 Last month I happened to mention to a librarian that I had been a regular here since 1984. He said his colleague was assembling people's recollections of the place, would I be interested in maybe contributing to it?

What would I write about? As I considered this, three ideas surfaced in my mind. Immediately the specter of inoffensiveness, not to say self-censorship nipped at my thinking. As my mental outline slowly arrived, I deflected by saying that my writing tends to be rather "Balzacian."

I meant Honore de Balzac who said:

 Behind every great fortune is a great crime.

At this point I thought of the third idea of what I might write about to mutual agreement and interest. So here I write what came to mind.

The first memory I would relate is scented with rose oil. There have been many memorable folks I have known or just observed in my time here (for it is here at the library that I write this). There was a main librarian with white hair and beard whose somewhat flamboyant personality left an impression--I recall seeing him in Western wear and cowboy hat once or twice.

But the person whose ghost haunts the place for me was a strange quiet lady who came each day and apparently remained each day for several hours. She was always here when I came in and her tenacious aroma of rose was usually detected before she was in sight. She sat before the magazine rack in the center of the room with a large folio or magazine spread open before her and just seemed to generally survey the room in a state of unruffled patience.
She was in her thirties I would guess. She wore antique finery including formal gloves, and wore indoors a grand wide straw hat with a silk scarf tied over it. The idea of the madwoman of Chaillot is of course suggested but I'm certainly not of any fixed opinion that she was mad.
She may have been in a blessed state. The state you arrive at when nothing is boring anymore, when every moment no matter how mundane can be fascinating.
She intuitively sensed that I had the big consciousness too. I would say that we had a benign mutual admiration society without ever having spoken. I don't recall ever hearing her speak. She was dependably in attendance for several years in the nineties and since then I have never seen her again. She certainly has my blessing and I hope that she fares well today.

An event indelibly printed in my memory took place at the library one afternoon in 2010. I had spent the morning at a funeral Mass at St Albert's for a dear friend Faye. After it we had driven out to Benicia for the interment. As we returned dramatic, not to say portentous, clouds dominated the sky in all directions. We drove over hill and dale and highway while the rain held.
I got back to the Elmwood and dropped by the Library. Heavy raindrops started as I climbed the stairs outside. Suddenly a tremendous charge of thunder shook the whole building. Lightning flashed far brighter than the reading lamps inside. A sizable group of children with their guardians stood about in a condition of acute apprehension. Many were surely young enough never to have seen thunder and lightning in their entire lives. Thunderstorms are fairly rare here, I've seen less in thirty years than we would see in one New England summer.
At first I exaggerated my reactions a little, then I realized that the children were anxiously watching us to see how we handling this loud and violent display of nature. They needed reassurance and I quickly joined in the expression of it. The loudest sequence subsided and it looked like only the smallest children might continue to cry a little while.
In my own childish subjectivity it became a salutation and a farewell to my friend, who was a lover of roses and of the outdoors.

The third idea which came to me and which I mentioned to the librarian's interest was the story of a poetry reading I attended here some fifteen or so years back. The great and celebrated poet Barbara Guest gave a reading with the poet Ivan Arguelles a colleague with whom I had read on several occasions in the past.
Her poetry which is considered part of the New York school of the 1950s-60s. Her peers were highly regarded poets such as Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery. I had attended another reading by her at Diesel bookstore the previous year or so; she had then recently moved to the Bay area.
Her poetry is graceful and is often filled with the sort of indeterminacy codified by Mallerme. She had a tenuous association with the Beat Generation because she was reading in New York venues at the same time. As a result her poems and photos of her by Fred McDarrah were included in Sol Wilentz's 1959 book The Beat Scene. However as a friend pointed out she looked more like a member of the Rotary Club than she did a Beat. Through this Beat connection I latched onto her as early as 1970 and I still own several of her scarce early publications from that era.
The night she appeared at the Claremont, she was tall, slightly frail, white haired and dignified

Ivan read next and I believe he mentioned that it was "el Dia de los Muertos." It was actually not  November second the day of the dead, or All Soul's Day; it was November the first, All Saints Day which is called Todos Santos in Spanish.
Having known him for years, I felt comfortable in pointing out the small discrepancy  from the peanut gallery as it were.  Ivan was not raised as a Roman Catholic, as Philip Lamantia once pointed out to me, so despite his Spanish surname these ancient Meso-American feast days, syncretized with the Catholic calendar, were not what he was brought to observe. So he may be forgiven his folly as he and a cheering squad of toadies piped-up that I was wrong, it was the day of the dead.  Those who didn't agree kept silent

Barbabra Guest said nothing. I thought I perceived mild panic in her look, finding herself as she did in the company of some Berkeley poetry barbarians. She signed a copy of her Corinth book The Blue Stairs for me afterward. It was only when I returned home that I read her inscription in it.
"for _____, on Todos Santos, Barbara Guest".

An ongoing scene, a friendly and accommodating branch library, long may it last.

7 April 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ceci n'est pas un Lac

Here are two places where I go to find some peace and quietude, inexact nomenclature notwithstanding.


Lake Merritt....not a real lake...

This small Golden-eye is about to swallow whole a large mussel.
Years ago I used to row here quite often
the ecology wasn't as healthy as it is now

Christ the Light Cathedral
with its majestic altar piece.
A yantra-like hologram of a Gothic Christ

Evening falls early 
on comes the Necklace of Lights
... actually a salt water estuary


Tilden Park

Lake Anza... not a real lake...

twisty old oaks with light reflected off the water

... sort of an ersatz alpine pond

Lake Merritt: December 2013
Lake Anza: 23 March 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fleurs Nouveau apres le Printemps

Just some flower shots under the spell of the Springtime

 Wisteria bestride the iridescent windows of the Rockridge Library

 Rain came at last to Alameda,
an outing in honor of Saint Patrick

 A delicate streetside plum tree in bloom, 
from a bus window in Berkeley

 A pale Iris rises after a shower in the Elmwood

 African color on a Berkeley doorstep

Roses bloom on New Year's day
Oakland Ferry landing

march 2014