Friday, June 19, 2009

"I'm Not There (1956)" Meta-Bootleg Series

from God Nose Runs Again
on Over the Edge KPFA radio

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June in a Twilight Region

The weather has been cool for weeks. Chilly marine fog envelopes the mornings and the early evenings. The sunset is late this time of year and it is often occluded for the hours before dark, gray ambiguous hours. Certainty disappears like the horizon in a painting by Tanguy, the vague horizon between night and day.
The streets are newly deserted by the departing student hoards. The hills light up in a strangely prominent way when the sun is low and often dramatically re-emergent from the clouds.
Flowers dominate sidewalks and yards, looming hydrangeas and squadrons of fragrant roses. I stand transfixed by some mauve crocus-like flowers near a wet spider web fantasy. Jasmine drifts down the block.
Today's almond shortbread cannabis cookie is fully circulating after I have just been dancing in People's Park. The starring act was closing the Telegraph Avenue World Music festival there today at 4:30. I remembered just in time to make the show. They were Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited from Zimbabwe. Their music is called chimurenga meaning struggle. Deep reggae-style grooves with Afro-pop guitar filigrees had everyone dancing happily. They finished with a long discursive tune that had an unmistakable feeling of protest and woe. It is after all a fitting place to bring this universal panacea, one that calls you to "forget your troubles and dance." Then abruptly it was over for the day at 5:30.

The clouds lately in the clear plein air have been like paintings. At times they are like zen abstract brush-strokes and at other times, like the monumental orchestrations of epic skies in 18th century French art. In general there has been greater apparent complexity in them. Great seasonal shifting air-masses have produced odd thunder storms.
There are fewer lights at night from the tower blocks, and there's less traffic from the blockheads. The moon has been bright and crisp. It shines in from the back deck though the security screen-door amid nocturnal morning glories. And afternoons red-finches sing assertively on phone cables in this new quiet country life.
It's a time of abandoned furniture and curbside boxes of belongings that no longer belong to anyone. Along Benvenue last evening, I rested in a curbside reclining chair and lit my after-Mass shorty. Across the street hummingbirds threaded through some red flowers as intense as Xmas lights. I shoved-off again on a slow walk home. When I commented on a bed of succulents to a guy gardening, he wanted to talk about them in a cordial way. It was as if people had time for each other again.
I was carrying two artichokes I foraged on Chabot. Someone planted them along the sidewalk and suddenly there were dozens, not quite best quality perhaps but not bad either.
At St Albert's there were boxes of strange oranges. There was even a sheet to explain their origin. They were from a tree in St Albert's grounds, one I noticed many times--small with abundant fruit. It had been brought from Rome and moved to several Dominican houses by a priest who also wound up here, planted like his tree. Someone recently brought a sample of it to an arborist who marveled at it. He said that it was a very ancient type of orange-- it even grows thorns on its branches. It had never been cross-bred with more recent types--it was essentially a hold-over from the very old world. They taste like sour tangerines, like marmalade, far from the orange as we know it.

This was the second of two extraordinary plant varieties I had recently encountered at St. Albert the Great. The other was a Mr. Lincoln rose bush. Its flowers are classically formed and of the deepest velvety red. Most astonishing of all, its scent is as full and deep as any rose I have sniffed in my long life of always stopping to smell the roses. There is something almost epi-phenomenal, or miraculous, about them.

Meanwhile across town, the turn-around point of my nightly walks is currently surrounded by fencing. Overhead, Sather Tower, more popularly known as the Campanile, is wearing an elaborate ziggurat head and neck brace. It seems that even marble wears away in the wet winds and unforgiving sunlight at that altitude. The ghostly Flaneur, who walks through it's plaza late at night, who meditates on a sun dial pedestal by starlight, or who dreams mysteriously on its benches during carillon concerts, will not be seen there again until September of this year.

And when I walk down Bancroft, returning from the mail box after midnight, there are no cars in sight, no one walks the streets, and the distant trains say it's late, it's time to sleep. The world bids me peace and I reflect the same aspiration.