Friday, November 30, 2007

together we can

Senators and Representatives by City and Town:

It is called a Commonwealth for a reason. We all need to participate.

Gambling is bad. Write your representative (email for free, or phone, or print out the damn letter and mail it). Remind them why it is a Bad Idea. Ignore copyright and cut and paste my letter if you have to.


I am writing in regards to the recent proposals to legalize gambling in Massachusetts, a decision which I oppose for a number of economic, environmental, cultural, and social reasons.

As a small business owner myself, I am aware that the economic impact of casinos goes far beyond the immediate benefits of taxation income for the Commonwealth. Some of the economic costs of legalized casinos include harm to local business; this includes music venues who will see touring groups lured to the larger audiences at the casino complexes; shopping venues and customer shopping habits which will be displaced by the construction of these destinations; and the residential economic harm of loss of area property values in an already weak real estate economy.

The impact of gambling is also observable from an environmental standpoint, which must be considered as the notions of “smart-growth,” carbon-offsetting, and global warming move from intellectual issues to real problems which require a long-term commitment to lifestyle change. Environmental costs are not merely an immediate problem, but one which will resonate far into the future. Issues such as the carbon footprint of large entertainment complexes, the energy requirements for operating flashy buildings, resulting light and noise pollution from the locations, and the increased automotive pollution and need to increase road capability will become major considerations in the local environment. Additionally, both the site of building and the new construction for displaced businesses and restaurants and related venues will affect local green areas, potential conservation lands, and wetlands in the community.

One must additionally remember the cultural damage which will result from large “destination” casinos; through serving as chair of the local cultural council, I have first hand knowledge of the vibrancy provided to the community by a thriving arts scene. One of the strengths of Massachusetts is the encouragement provided to area musicians, artists, and other performers whose audience is best served through smaller venues for entertainment, music, and art. Both the venues and the performers/artists will be harmed as audiences are siphoned towards more homogenized offerings at major entertainment complexes.

Finally, and perhaps most oft-documented, are the social costs of gambling, which include gambling addiction, the loss of residential and mixed-use neighborhoods to new building needs, and the gain of only low-wage jobs, rather than the high-skilled jobs which encourage an area to flourish economically.

It is inconceivable that the short-term tax benefits of making a change on this scale, which would provide a minimum of three destination casinos throughout Massachusetts, can possibly be justified in terms of their much greater social, economic, and environmental costs.



reading the recipe for carrot cake from Epicurious
weather brittle

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the tan corduroy lazy-boy recliner

A small grey and white rabbit. Not a looking glass rabbit, but a domestic Dutch dwarf rabbit bred for the companionship needs of a young girl -- a girl of ten or eleven -- who was still lonely, even with two dogs, two cats, a tank of hermit crabs, two gerbils, a hamster, a sister, and two brothers. Her name was Lily -- the rabbit's, of course -- and she was a gift from a group of friends when one of the above pets had died. Perhaps it was the hamster. Lily had short, two-inch ears, grey at head and tail, with a wide white stripe around her middle.

One of the friends also had a rabbit, a boy rabbit, and after reading countless volumes about "you and your pet rabbit," the books always ended with a glossy technicolor chapter on the breeding of rabbits -- checking estrus cycles, keeping the animals from killing each other, the dietary needs of the pregnant and nursing mother, followed by a time progression series of photos of baby bunnies, looking like hairless rats.

So of course there was a wedding. Favorite church dresses, and "Bind us together, Lord" played, quite poorly but with great spirit, on the sister's electric piano. There were plenty of other instruments available: a piano, violin, flute, french horn; but the coveted nature of the keyboard with a programmed bassa nova beat and soft version of Hey Jude was the only instrument for a wedding ceremony.

There were fresh flowers, roses and some white flower with a red center that grew profusely, scattered about, and tied to the rabbits, and worn in our hair. A short ceremony was held, and I cannot recall what undoubtedly emotional promises and pledges were made between the rabbits belonging to two best friends. The bride had an embroidered veil.

Twenty years later, the best removed from the friend by disparate paths of life decisions inspired and enforced by parents and disposition, the photographs from the wedding still reflect the harshness of an early summer day in Texas. While the albums of my childhood were purged many years ago, copies of several remained, treasured, in the once upon a friend's belongings. The photographs have obviously been kept, loved, cherished, serving as a window into the past. Copies of the event arrived this past summer, reproductions of a past which only existed briefly, and in harsh daylight.

There were no baby bunnies despite our efforts.


Small. Purple: a bruised purple, the purple of the tow jammed into the door a week ago, or the mysterious spot on one's calf which is always sore from chairs and coffee tables. Not round, nor ovoid, but very similar to a small, fluttering heart that has grown full of blood and then become frozen. Stopped. Hardened. Calcified.

All this in a potato. Death, Decay. The potato blight, the potato famine, the mass relocation of a people across a body of water, crammed into boats, to suffer the humiliation of immigration at Ellis Island and to then become police officers in Boston, helping ducks cross the street.

The bruised toe: where did the door come from? How does furniture continue to shift, slightly, in increments across the floor? Reading the New York Times, set down the coffee, crash into the table that used to be conveniently placed, but now is singularly responsible for sharp pain, which will echo through shades of blues and greens for some time.

The table was designed for beauty rather than function; the coffee was made -- too strong -- by the friend who has taken the best parts of the paper with no intent to share them, excepting when she grows weary and moves on to other interests.

So I drink my bitter coffee and read the business section, watching the ocean and wondering if there is a point in every friendship, every relationship when the magazine and the style and the front page sections will only reside in the other's possession, whether we have reached the limits of our congeniality.

Coffee prepared badly produces melancholy. The steel grey of the sky is reflected by the ocean, the horizon indistinguishable from the water leading towards it; broken only by the line of small white fishing boats and, in the distance, the slowly passing towers of freighters and container ships.

Someone on one of the ships is bicycling from end to end, keeping an eye on the cargo and watching New York slip away. Would I change places -- leave my coffee, too strong though it may be, and the paper, even if only the business section, for a presumably more primitive life on the high seas? There is no longer the romance of the flapping sails, the challenge of negotiating the Cape in the teeth of a gale; distant ports are filled with tourists who arrived more efficiently in jets with around-the-world ticket packages. Perhaps there is a world that can only be viewed from the deck of a freighter, perhaps the lonely call of sea monsters unseen can still be heard on the midnight watch. Perhaps, though, the nineteenth century is well and truly over, the visions of adventure as impossible now as they always have been.

What would it take to be the person to cast away Life as it is, and board the ship, and find out? What would it take to ask for the Arts and Leisure section?


reading George Ella Lyon
weather winter

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The end is nigh.

These are the finalists.

not reading
weather full of sunshine

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

forbidden fruit

image gratefully borrowed from MoMA

Yes, Montreal was lovely. But it isn't New York.

Alas, I will never be a New Yorker; will ever only be able to view the city through the smudged pane of a train window; have no knowledge whatsoever of the narrow alleys and cracks which form a secret network of intimate knowledge of coffee shops, cafes, movie theatres, off-off-off-off Broadway plays. One must develop acceptance for this candy-store without a nickel situation, though it is awfully embarrassing to constantly leave fingerprints and nose-smudges on the windows.

Alexander Calder at MoMA
Helvetica at MoMA
graphic modernism at the NYPL
Lawrence Weiner at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Consolation prize: living in the valley of the literate.


weather warmer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Contentments

Gingerbread baking
The first snowfall
Simple carbohydrates
Undemanding prose
Latin masses
The allure of holidays not yet encountered
Being forgotten
Being remembered
Harmonious cats and
warm sweaters

reading contemplations on the value of the self
weather ambivalence beautiful cold

Friday, November 16, 2007

the list as a poem

I am becoming more comfortable with the mundane list as an existential consideration of life priorities. The list is the most conceptual rendering of who we are that is possible -- and, yes, it was the To Do List blog that brought this completely unconsidered notion to my attention. What this means is that I might start saving my lists. Within reason. And with full permission to destroy them completely when a purge is required.
After two and a half years of a friend's perseverance, the writing group is a reality, and I am finally reconsidering the nature of text as something other than a very sharp, multi-edged knife, one where even the handle can cut you.

reading anything and everything published by Gaspereau Press, a life altering discovery
the current library list (really):
      The rough guide to MontrĂ©al /
        written and researched by Arabella Bowen and John Shandy Watson.
      Lolita [sound recording] / Vladimir Nabokov.
      War and peace / by Leo Tolstoy ;
        translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhons
      Salamander / Thomas Wharton.
      Icefields / Thomas Wharton.
      Lost in Austen : create your own Jane Austen adventure /
        Emma Campbell Webster.
      The new book of image transfer :
        how to add any image to almost anything with fabulous results /
          Debba Haupert
      The glass books of the dream eaters / Gordon Dahlquist.
      Sharp objects : a novel / Gillian Flynn
      The meaning of night : a confession / Michael Cox.

weather so cold the cats are huddled on top of any object of heat and the windows rattle rattle rattle in the wind

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

please, sir, can I have some more?

I am from pattering footsteps that unceasingly clatter on the oak staircase
            voices rattling up and down
            requests demands ideas
            the same question repeated
            repeated again
            repeated endlessly

I told you the first time twenty years ago
no sugar in my coffee

I am from the pack of mismatched dogs
            whose unmanicured paws
            click on the hard floors
            accessorizing the random spreads of mismatched furniture

the mismatched calico family
of people who belong together
because they cannot escape
who they are

I am from the land of milk and honey
            only the milk is from cows fed full and fat
            on growth hormones and synthetic feed
            and the honey is mysteriously disappearing from dying apiaries

I am from a land where to be one
            to be alone
            is to be respected
            where the law of the individual is responsive to no other law
            no other demand

            where one's own conscious is the only voice
            Except god's. One cannot forget that.

I am from the land of the singular, the eccentric, the explorer, the renegade,
            the world of Berkeley in the sixties but never a hippie,
            and in all this I am from the land of godliness and righteousness,
            the strong arm of dominance that cannot be escaped.

I am from all of these places. Yet I belong to none of them.

The river. More of a stream, a stream much wider than deep, the water barely skimming over the rounded stones in the bed. The road that follows the stream -- the path between the mountains -- the path to -- where? Speed limit is usually fifty, locals drive 40 and visitors drive 60. Two lanes, yellow line unbroken for miles.

The lure of the road, anchored by the call of the stream: leave the car, leave the appointment, cancel the plans, play in the stream, where the rocks are worn smooth and the water is warmed by the sun.

This ceaseless drum of "accomplish," "do," "be," the need to arrive, the almost narcotic effect of the power of the accelerator and the biological appropriate growth of the clutch pedal onto the left foot.

The road trip started for a higher vision: a philosophy or a purpose echoing the escapes written by famous men. Following the road to enlightenment, somehow; a god of Niagara Falls; the homage paid to the being that lives in a cheap pizza joint in Chicago. The pilgrim followed the stations of the Cross, and these stations are as exactly as precisely as preordained as the series of churches and reliquaries. The road across America: following the veins and arteries of the country, criss-crossing Mason-Dixon, route 66, the Bluegrass Parkway, the Turnpike, the Skyway, the mental catalog of bridges, tunnels, tolls, traffic.

In the fog of carbon monoxide is faith.

Is this drive any different? Driving to someone or away from someone; escaping myself or escaping someone who reminds me too much of myself; escaping the past or the future?

All this read in the chatter of public radio as the trees change color on the road to Williamstown. The art gallery, the bookshop, the coffee shop.

The pure yellow of late summer sunlight.

reading my own handwriting
weather falling

Monday, November 12, 2007

on longevity

What is the rest of one's life? How does the body change and morph over time? How are we perceived?

How effective is pancake make-up?


In conceptual order.

I. finis
indigo blue, all lower case, serif font (Bookman Old Style or Garamond)
just above tailbone, 4 inches in width (approximately 2" high?)

II. &
yes, as in the ligature for "et", serif font unknown, black
just above smallpox vaccination scar, approximately 2" high (1" wide?)

III. vivamus atque amemus
black, all caps (Perpetua titling, Goudy old style)
right ankle, all encircling, less than 1" high


In order.

1. Might be the beginning of: (1) total punctuation spree; and/or (2) total ligature spree

2. Pain.

3. Expense

But am I a mouse?

reading accumulated emails: Remembrance Day equals notes from friends of yore
weather damn cold

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Kensol, The Kelsey, and The Hibiscus

The first chase is set.

Operating under the mistaken impression that we All Need a Friend, I tried placing the Kelsey and the Kensol next to each other in the studio. They appeared to have similar practical natures and functions, and I assumed they would get along well -- be able to swap shop gossip and the like.

I was wrong. (You, o heartless cynic!, saw this coming.) They got into a HUGE argument regarding the benefits of gilt versus technicolor ink, the Kensol let out a temperamental blast of heat, and the rollers of the Kelsey now must be recovered. Not inexpensive.

So much for trying to introduce a bit of congeniality into the workplace.

The hibiscus, which has received an inordinate amount of individual attention due to its First Houseplant status, requires outside assistance. The outside being you, the reader, who hopefully has some knowledge of household horticulture.

What are these little deposits? They don't crawl or fly, and seem to be associated only with the blossoms. Help!

reading grant applications -- requested total: $36,000; amount provided to the city for cultural enrichment: $7,530

weather not as bad as expected and an amazing sunset