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Madrid was beautiful on my walk home from the University Of New Orleans’s opening night fiesta at Plaza Mayor last month, an event for students studying abroad, and in my case, working on my MFA residency in playwriting. Shiny marble statues adorn granite buildings with massive doors of wood or steel and line promenades that periodically give way to plazas centered around grand lit-up fountains honoring gods like Neptune, Cibeles, and (guffaw) Christopher Columbus? I was born in Columbus, Ohio. Not a name I particularly like to honor these days. The brainwashing about the ‘discovery’ of the New World was excised from my brain years ago, but Cristobal Colon is still a hero in Spain.
Literature ruled the day, especially my re-visit of Hemingway for the Expatriate Class taught by Dr. Nancy Dixon.
Most of my life I’ve had no use for Hemingway, other than a required High School assignment. His bruhaha and machismo made me puke. I gave up on him years ago, after I read the story about how he liked to shoot terns for fun. I couldn’t divorce my opinion of the man from his writings, no matter how special…or handsome.
After reading A Moveable Feast, I found myself laughing out loud. The ‘pussy’ stuff about Gertrude Stein is a riot, but then he describes her.
She got to look like a Roman emperor and that was fine if you liked your women to look like Roman emperors. (119)
Stein’s chastising Hemingway for reading Huxley hilarious;
Huxley is a dead man. Why do you want to read a dead man? Can’t you see he is dead?
Hemingway busted Stein for saying the current generation (1920) was “lost.” Hemingway goes on.
All generations were lost by something, and always had been, and always would be.(30)
I agree. My generation is certainly no exception. Look at the “lost” leadership that rose to power from my crew. Pathetic. The 70s did seem a little fuzzy in terms of definiton. That 70’s Show isn’t far from the truth – just screwin’ around, getting laid or trying to get laid – both parents still in the house, and the dad “seems” to be the boss. Glad all that war stuff is over. Time to party! There’s a token foreigner hanging around, and he’s gay, so that only takes one actor.
Hemingway is a dick to wag on F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, but then he says things like this.
By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it up by finding something better. (62)
The thrift of his writing was a phenomena in his time. After reading A Movable Feast, I let my indifference go. I love his writing, at least in this book, and honor the moments of perfection in an imperfect man. Once I realized that Hemingway paved the way for some of my heroes like (early) Henry Miller and then later Hunter Thompson, his legacy made sense. His line about “transplanting yourself” (5) rings true – as I write about things back home…
The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s book about Europeans grousing around the bull run and fight in Pamplona, was a painless read, but pain is all a bull gets in a bull fight – disgusting event disguised as art. I suppose when the animal groans it means he’s happy?!
Feint of hearts – close your eyes 😦
And then, there’s the other art in Madrid. I paid my homage to Guernica…
It was something I needed to do by myself. When I moved to NY in the 70s, I spent many hours at MoMA (in total) staring at this. This exhibit at Reina Sofia has no benches, so I didn’t stay all that long, but there was the pitiful horse, the pitiful women, and the stodgy bull still lording over all. My eye seemed to gravitate to the female holding a lamp, zooming in from above to shine a light on the horror for the world to see – for a world to care is another matter.
In the 70s when I first looked at this painting I had no clue about the Spanish Civil War, other than it being the cause celeb for writers and actors. Errol Flynn comes to mind, as well as Hemingway et al. For me, the suffering was (and still is) a global malady, a malady that still tears at my heart. Picasso nailed it with this work.
And speaking of Goddesses…
The day I arrived in Madrid I was surrounded by a huge Gay Pride Parade. The streets everywhere around my apartamento were blocked off. My place was near the district of Chueca, a sort of West Village gay community. I have since explored the area, and love the little shops, and cobblestone streets. At one edge of this community is the huge statue/fountain of Cibeles, the Greek Goddess of fertility. Her priests in Rome were trans-gendered males. This Goddess is the one Waite used for the Strength Card in his Tarot. I have certainly relied heavily on the strength of Cibele over the years. I’ll end this chapter of my mee-moir with a picture of the Goddess watering her lions.
Hey, Madrid is one HOT city!
La Forêt des Mânes
Je suis vide
Je suis plein
Je suis plus qu’ici!
“The Forest of the Manes thus symbolizes the way of the exile; volunteer or not, of transplantation, and at the same time as it celebrates a multitude of possibilities it acts like that of a projection, rather than a return to the origins – it is a questioning on the act of becoming to being. “
…escargot, truffles, crepes, croissants, cobblestone streets, ghostly cathedrals, flagons of wine, memories of my youth, the fragrance of today…
Viva la France!!!
AND THANKS TO YOU TOO ROGER NICHOLS
Last night’s moon was tremendous, casting veiny limb shadows on fresh snows. Eerie. A spider web of images projected on untouched canvas. Sweet sleep happened. Cozy as the brew of nectared gods. Barely had time for a dream that night. Didn’t mind at all. Fermented, cemented. River boy (©sjm)
Steve Matty is dead. Writing those words sends a chill up my spine. His birth name has some ‘ski’ on the end of it, but he was always Matty.
I sit here dumb, and wonder what’s to be done. Matty was one of those lone wolf types with arms in constant motion. His ‘from the hip’ journals are legendary among friends, of which I feel honored to have been for twenty-five eventful years. How do I replace someone who reminded me of who I really am? Impossible.
Jim Harrison (one of Matty’s favorites) describes him to a T. I’m a poet and we tend to err on the side that life is more than it appears rather than less.
(Excerpt from For The Life Of Me, I Just Can’t Make Her Fart)
...I lived off the 101 between Laurel & Coldwater on Moorpark. Vitellos (where Blake’s wife was murdered) was a great place for clams and linguini. Sometimes me and some boys would have some tables full of pizza there, although, Mary’s down on Lankershim served up a good pie. It wasn’t far from Beverly Garland’s Ho-Jo where us music types would bunk up on many occasions.
But I liked the Sportman’s Lodge much better. Not better than the Westwood Marquis where Jim Harrison and I slept and drank, unbeknownst to the other. They had a good pool there tucked away in the foliage out back with chaise-side phones…where Dustin Hoffman ranted in a tirade to his agent one afternoon and all participants gave the little talented squirt a standing ovation. He bought a poolside round for all clappers. If I’d been thinking more clearly I would’ve insisted that we hoisted glass in toast to say, “…here’s to you Mrs. Robinson…” But I forgot. It would’ve been a decent chorus.
I enjoyed staying in Neil Diamond’s guest house just down the street from the Playboy Mansion (never been there) in Holmby Hills a couple blocks off Sunset. I may have been the only pick-up truck driver in LA then, certainly in that neighborhood. Cops pulled me over for a swerve on the Strip once, but let me go when I said I was bunkin’ at Neil’s. Name dropper.
We’d smoke fat honkin’ joints by his pool and talk about French poets a lot, then ring up Dylan to check and see if we were on the right track. Bob would just say, “Quit askin me stuff like that. And, do you guys know anything about peacocks???” Why Bob?? Is NBC buggin’ you?? He’d laugh at that one. But later on when he found out that Hunter had a brood of birds, he sheepishly asked, “He doesn’t let em in the house, does he??” Which meant, Bob did. tee hee…
Everyone should know a pal like Glen d Hardin: The President of the Pacific. Barney and I named him that along with his den called the Shipwreck Lounge….lots of stuff happened there on the corner of Ethel & Sara. Gram Parsons hung there often. Wish I could’ve known him, but then he had to die for some reason known only to him. Phil Kaufman stole the body and burned it in a pyre in the Joshua Tree desert, it was a fulfilled request of Gram’s, I guess. All charges were dropped.
Phil later owned Douglas Corner in Nashville, a hang. Funny how the connections keep connecting the dots. Gary Vincent and the Swamp Honkies played good music there. That goofball Vincent sometimes played in pajamas. We’d go fishing out to JI’s driving in his pink Porsche. Nice visual... ©sjm
Matty loved to bate people and watch em squirm.
Tues Jun 28, 2005 3:20 PM ...they never let me testify in your DUI case. I was ready. Had my rap ready. love, steven –
Wed Jun 29, 2005 12:19 PM – Not guilty!!!! Video doesn’t lie! F**k it, it’s’ all a dream anyway. C
Anyway, you get the idea, lots of history, good times and bad. In light of recent events, I think his thoughts on the great beyond are appropriate.
(excerpt from River Mix)
…I’ve been spewed on recently about…rapture. None of my beeswax, choose yer own gods and leave me alone about that stuff. Figure out your predestination and then think that the god who loves you will destroy you. Go ahead. I can’t subscribe to Armageddon. I’ve got bigger things on my mind. Ain’t that right, Jesus?? ©sjm
For some reason known only to him,(to steal his phrase) Matty wrecked his truck coming down the road from his cabin in Wisconsin on the Peshtigo River, dying instantly. In the absence of toxicity, the general consensus is heart attack, based on recent complaints about his arm being numb. In human years he was 54, but Matty said he was really 14. He never told me why he settled on 14, but I can guess. I do know this means I’ll spend the rest of my life missing him.
Don’t know how to end this, so I’ll hand it over to Matty.
“Peaceful sleep within the eyes of Great Spirit is insisted. I hope so…and then to revisit as a peregrine falcon in a steep high dive towards a spinning Earth.” (excerpt from Red Topped Maples ©sjm)
And I thought my life was in a piss pot.
Will you marry me Bill?
I love you so and always will.
Cut the crap, idiot.
Talking to myself,
I wallow in a syzygy of self-loathing –
my inability to do things,
like fix the muffler on my car
or the hole in my roof
or save a drowning city.
trapped thousands of people
in Bill’s town when the water rose
suffocating my Jazzy Town, the whole world’s
Fatty Tuesday Town.
It’s hap’nin’ on the TV, death.
It’s hap’nin’ on the street, stench.
Is Bill a refugee or an evacuee
or just fucked-up?
I’m on your side, Bill,
when you are losin’.
I’d never scheme or lie, Bill,
there’s been no foolin’.
Wait! I found his picture
on the Internet,
a non-wedding event.
“Committed to a perpetually unmarried life.”
Bill’s words. We’ve never met,
but Bill and his non-wife look happy, in love.
I lurk around Bill’s party
on display to anyone with a search engine.
Tho’ uninvited I yell,
“Get all your stuff and get out!
The flood’s comin’!”
Pixel faces smile back mute.
My link to Bill sank
into a pestilential superfund swamp.
Bill must have got out before
THE LEVEES IN NEW ORLEANS BROKE.
Poor people diein’ – nothin’ new there.
Poor animals diein’ – nothin’ new there.
No way would I abandon my dog Winnie,
well, not on purpose.
Sure, Winnie runs off
every time the front door is open,
but that’s no reason to desert her.
My dumb dog doesn’t deserve to
drown in filth or die of thirst.
No one I know’d have anyone in their life,
if loyalty’s based on bein’ sharp 24-7.
Kisses and love won’t carry me.
Come on and marry me Bill!
Not even six feet of shit can silence
a song or bury a city called New Orleans.
where the hell is Bill?
C. S. Reeder ©2005
Friday – September 2, 2005
Prayer – I do it.
Money – I donate it.
The suffering goes on…
People dying at the convention center –
Patients need to be evacuated IMMEDIATELY
Bodies floating in the water: This is somebody’s mother, father, sister, brother,
grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, son, daughter –
The smell gags.
UNO campus – 3,000 people waded there
When the water rose…
Through toxic sludge from the neighboring houses
And hundreds to the Vietnamese Church –
Thousands huddle in pockets of survival all over the city
Surrounded, trapped by an Urban Cesspool.
THE LEVEES BROKE.
Mall burned to the ground –
Fires all over town,
A chained dog floats lifeless.
Kittens, caged birds, fish in tanks –
Pictures on a screen;
I know that house,
I know that building,
I know that town.
I lived the Andrew aftermath,
And other Hurricanes,
Pictures and words cannot tell the story,
Cannot smell the filth, the horror, the fear –
The Big Easy is wretched.
Gunfire in garages…
Thousands trapped in their attics and upper floors.
A woman cries on a cell phone, “My elderly mother was left at the house.”
Maybe this disaster could have been prevented by propping up the levees, maybe not. Now we’ll never know.
Can the city ever be safe?
This article from Salon.
< Is it inevitable that this will happen again?
Yep. You could sit down right now and say we’re going to design a new levee system, which will be stronger and more powerful. But you’re designing it based on the conditions for today. But all the conditions are changing. The climate is changing. The ocean circulation patterns are changing. The city is subsiding at about 3 feet a century, and if sea level is rising at about 3 feet a century, that’s 6 feet. You tell me what the long-term prospects are.
At the same time, the geologist in me says you just have to live with natural disasters and you can’t engineer your way out of them. Even so, we sure as hell need to take another look at how we can evacuate people in and out of New Orleans when we know a hurricane is coming. (quote of UC Geologist Jeffery Mount – “Why New Orleans is Sunk” Article – Salon.com by Katharine Mieszkowski)>
I can’t imagine how the recovery could have been much faster, given that the area devasted in the gulf region is BIGGER than England. But why couldn’t water and food have been dropped at locations around town? Also, the National Guard was where? If there was no shortage of troops because of the war in Iraq, then where were they for 5 days?
New Orleans Mayor Nagin on the radio – “No more goddamn press conferences. Get your ass down here!” Presumably to the US President whose ass did show up later in the day to ‘look’ at the deluge. The President’s PR staff missed a photo-op by not putting some water and food in his hand to offer the pitifuls more than a ‘hug.’ Really, sometimes his handlers bungle it.
Our illiterate leader, or rather current occupant of the White House, and a product of the best education money can buy, offers these words of advice, “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”
I heartily agree. “Don’t buy gas. Don’t buy cars.” The irony: people in poverty don’t have cars or the means to leave town, but not because of consumer revolt. Cars cost money. Money these people don’t have, or the education to get a job to pay for one.
I still don’t know the fate of my school: UNO.
I feel guilty as I sit comfortable in my air-conditioned, dry (for now) house built in a drained swamp in Florida. I find myself morbidly glued to the TV – immobilized by events. Vaguely, I am becoming aware of a rising commitment to participate in the resurrection of University of New Orleans. THAT will be something to party about at Mardi Gras.
OK, I never supported going to war in Iraq…NEVER. Yet even with proof that this war was totally unnecessary, people are still blind to the elephant in the room. Greed. I have a birthright to back my opinion. This birthright is planted firmly in the soil of this country called the United States of America. My ancestors of Mayflower/Puritan/Quaker extraction bred and bred and bred for thirteen generations to produce me here. I am a Patriotic American.
Of course, while grateful for my life, my country, and my resilient genepool, the facts are this: my kind overran an entire race of people that occupied this ‘America’ for a period of at least 10,000 years before my Grandpappies sailed across the Atlantic in the 17th Century to carve out their Zion in the new land of promise. I guess squatter’s rights didn’t apply to the natives they met.
My cousins are a mix of warring/peace types, but anyone with a brain knows – WAR BREEDS WAR and WAR IS BIG BUSINESS.
This is a segue to my point. I hold the ‘pass-the-buck’ Bush administration more than partially responsible for wasting my nation’s precious resources; people, funds, our elements, and for ruining whatever goodwill feelings my nation of many nations enjoyed throughout the world by invading another country for all the wrong reasons. One end result being, there is an even bigger target on my ass when I travel around the globe.
And now we face this preventable, apopolyptic flood in one of my favorite cities – New Orleans. As a graduate student at the University of New Orleans, my heart is broken for my school, and for the monumental loss of life and property. The power of raw Nature is humbling and unpredictable, but how can anyone with a conscience look at submerged New Orleans and not be ANGRY!
– Thursday, September 01, 2005
This morning, about 7:05 am Eastern time, George Bush was interviewed by Diane Sawyers on ABC’s Good Morning America.
This is what he said: “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”
By Will Bunch August 31, 2005
(Click the above link to see the entire article)
<…When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the LEVEES SURROUNDING NEW ORLEANS CONTINUED TO SUBSIDE.
Yet after 2003, the flow of FEDERAL DOLLARS TOWARD SELA DROPPED to a trickle. The CORPS never tried to hide the fact that the SPENDING PRESSURES OF THE WAR IN IRAQ, as well as homeland security — coming at the same time as FEDERAL TAX CUTS — WAS THE REASON FOR THE STRAIN. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune (Bill Walsh) from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.>
I can’t do anything about what my ancestors did or didn’t do, but I can shed light on the current tragedy. My hope is that we learn from our mistakes and move forward. Eliminating greed should be a top priority for every human. To create our heaven here on earth, we must focus on the inner light we all share… I Believe
Not preventing the flood in New Orleans, and conducting war in Iraq is a tragedy for ALL Americans – dead or alive.