Wednesday, December 4, 2013

holding on to the balloon

Next week's I'm going to see Daniel Kitson's show at St. Ann's Warehouse. I'm really excited. I loved the last show of his that I saw. (In December 2011 or January 2012?)
Last week I was very wobbly-hearted and in one more inspired moment I cracked open one of Pema Chodron's books. When I originally read the book it was speaking to me about heartbreak and heart ache in terms of romantic love.  This time I was not reading it that way. This time I was reading into it of potential loss. The passage that struck me most was:
Inspiration and wretchedness are inseparable. We always want to get rid of misery rather than see how it works together with joy.  The point isn't to cultivate one thing as opposed to another, but to relate properly to where we are. Inspiration and wretchedness complement each other. With only inspiration, we become arrogant. With only wretchedness, we lose our vision.  Feeling inspired cheers us up, makes us realize how vast and wonderful our world is.  Feeling wretched humbles us.  The gloriousness of our inspiration connects us with the sacredness of the world.  But when the tables are turned and we feel wretched, that softens us up. It ripens our hearts.

Fortunately, the loss did not happen. My heart did soften though. And even my brain I think, in a good way. A little less rigid.

Also, there will be loss. Inevitably. Impermanence. Forever. But at least loss makes us value what we have. Or it can.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

foot falls

In the Summer of 2004 Oscar Olivo and I made a piece together called Radio Sintesi (simultaneous translation) that we performed in my studio at Nest. It included an excerpt from Beckett's Footfalls. I played May, or Amy as she is referred to later, and he played my mother. He lay on the floor in a hospital gown and I was also in a hospital gown, and socks. It was done in almost total darkness as the sort of prologue to what went on to become a very chaotic piece. (The piece used a matrix of sections and several bells and timers and 'chance', and also included me ACTUALLY washing the audience member's feet whilst wearing a bubble wrap plastic bag on my head and speaking fake Asian languages. There were also 14 televisions and 14 vcrs (this was a long time ago) between the 'audience' and the 'playing space' in a low, crumbling-ish wall. Each television had a super long cord plugged into it and each of the 14 audience seats had a headset through which the audience could listen to the audio, and watch the video, on one of the screens. The video footage consisted of a combination of major life events in my family (birthday parties, prom, weddings, etc), Oscar and I talking about culture, and also just very casually sort of gossiping about life. He had just recently been diagnosed at that point, and though he was a spry 22 year old, mortality weighed heavily on both of our minds. Today, that section of time feels so close. I can imagine walking through the side door to the building (68 Washington Street) and entering that whole world. I can remember the smells and the sounds and the angst I felt and the freedom too.
One of the reasons all of these memories came flooding back is that I went to see Hoi Polloi's production of Beckett Solos (Cascando, Footfalls, and Rockaby) tonight. Alec Duffy directed and Leila Goldoni performed. Julian Rozzell, Jr. lent his voice to the first play, a radio play. The major thrust of Mimi Lien's scenic installation was the tinfoil paper that covered the walls, (or is that a permanent element of Jack, HP's new theater?), but it wasn't two-dimensional, it looked like half-eaten mounds of ice cream or a volcano-speckled lunar landscape. Leila Goldoni is 77 and starred in Cassavetes' Shadows among other films. As she told us in the casual conversation after the performance, she was also a dancer and is a "very physical person." She talked about how her modern dance background meant she was used to abstract things and didn't need a play to be linear. She felt like she really got Beckett, when you 'look at the words on a page it looks crazy' but 'when you come off the page' it's alive. Knud asked her about the first time she saw a Beckett play and she said it was 1959, at the old Beverly movie theater in LA. Waiting for Godot. She loved it. She also met Groucho Marx and told that story too. About how he said she was very funny and she asked him if she could be a comic and he said, :no! You're too beautiful. Nobody can laugh at a beautiful woman!"
Anyway, I loved the production. It made me think of so many things and also gave me so much room to explore in my own head. You could check in and check out. I love that about the repetition in Beckett. The rhythm.
It also made me think so much about the last two weeks. My close-up window onto the cycle of life. Time with an 89 year old and time with a 1 year old. Both blood relatives. As my mom pointed out, in many ways, these two ladies are struggling with the same basic physical things.  Of course, the hardest part about aging, when your mind doesn't go, is that you know you are helpless. You have all of your faculties, all of your self-consciousness, all of your ego, all of your pride, all of your wisdom, and none of the physical strength or stamina you used to have. You lose the ability to feed yourself. To clean yourself. To dress yourself. To do all the things you know how to do.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

we are all earthlings. we are all made of the stuff of stars.

This video is extraordinary. It's the first time I've heard astronauts speak so freely about the feeling of transcendence. Of one-ness. It made me think of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin's discovery in the 1920s, that we are all made of the stuff of stars... and it made me want to go back to that play I've been working on forever. Cecilia and the Universe.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'm still here and I still love music videos

Sometimes I think this place should be re-named 'my favorite things my favorite people send me.' This is no exception. (Thank you Erica.)

You may have heard about that video with Shia Labeouf? This is not that.
This is a Sigur Ros music video / dance film / mind trip.
It is beautiful and grotesque, sexy and sterile. It is both very complex and very simple.
Okay, enough words. Cue the music and the wings and the fur-feathers.

Sigur Rós - Fjögur píanó from Sigur Rós Valtari Mystery Films on Vimeo.

So, music videos. I love that music and movement and the visual rule and story is secondary. Gravy almost. I love that because the music world is so effing cool and sensual a music video feels successful if it is
a) an emotional experience
b) dynamic in rhythm, tone, color, or something else entirely
c) things don't have to make sense.

Music video's legacy is so young and so modern that there's no interest in realism or naturalism at all. I love that. I love music videos.

A few of the ones that stand out in my mind are November Rain, of course, Aphex Twin, Right Now by Van Halen, No Rain by Blind Melon, so many Nirvana ones... hmmm, was the golden age of the music video the mid 90s or was that just when I was watching MTV? What are the kids watching now?

Beyonce's had some gems, obviously. Who else?
Elephant Gun by Beirut -- also, like this featuring the choreography and performance of one Ryan Heffington. I got to work with Ryan once. On a dance film. God that was fun.

Monday, April 15, 2013

my favorite things

The experience of watching this is, for me, almost as good as going on a picnic at the beach, falling in love, playing catch, or dancing. The section around 4:11 really slays me.
Also, the story of how this film/video project came to be is powerful and unusual. A happy accident. Why did Michael Chesterman's mother have these films? And thank goodness for Colleen.
And also, as always, for Stella.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Were I a tree

Caleb told me Robert Creeley wrote this poem for his dear friend Pen, who had passed away a few years before. He sent it in response to a piece I shared with him by Roger Ebert called I Do Not Fear Death.

This distance
between pane of glass,
eye's sight —
the far wavering green edge
of trees, sun's
reflection, light
yellow — and sky there too
light blue.

I will sit here
till breeze, ambient,
enfolds me and I
lift away. I will
sit here as sun
warms my hands, my
body eases, and sounds
grow soft and intimate
in my ears. I will sit
here and the back of the house
behind me will last
disappear. I will sit here.

"Harry's gone out for a pizza.
Mabel's home all alone.
Mother just left for Ibiza.
Give the old man a bone?

Remember when Barkis was willing?
When onions grew on the lawn?
When airplanes just cost a shilling?
Where have the good times gone?"

If one look back
or thinks to look
in that uselessly opaque direction,
little enough's ever there.

What is it one stares into,
thinks still to recover
as it all fades out—
mind's vagary?

I call to you brutally,
I remember the day we met
I remember how you sat, impatient
to get out.
"Back is no direction...
Tout passe?"
Life is the river
we've carried with us.

Sun's shadows aslant
across opening expansive
various green fields down
from door
here ajar on box tower's
third floor—
look out on
This morning.

I never met you afterward
nor seemingly knew you before.
Our lives were interfolded,
wrapped like a present.
The odors, the tastes, the surfaces
of our bodies were the map—
the mind a distraction,
trying to keep up.

I could not compare you to anything.
You were not like rhubarb
or clean sheets—or, dear as it may be,
sudden rain in the street.
All those years ago, on the beach in Dover,
with that time so ominous,
and the couple so human,
pledging their faith to one another,
now again such a time seems here—
not to fear
death or what's been so given—
to yield one's own despair.

Like sitting in back seat,
can't see what street
we're on or what the
one driving sees
or where we're going.
Waiting for what's to happen,
can't quite hear the conversation,
the big people, sitting up front.

"Death be not proud... "
Days be not done.
Air be not gone.
Head be not cowed.

Bird be not dead.
Thoughts be not fled.
Come back instead,
Heart's hopeful wedding.
Face faint in mirror.
Why does it stay there?
What's become
Of person who was here?

Physical hill still my will.
Mind's ambience alters all.

As I rode out one morning
just at break of day
a pain came upon me
As I thought one day
not to think anymore,
I thought again,
caught, and could not stop—
Were I the horse I rode,
were I the bridge I crossed,
were I a tree
unable to move,
the lake would have
no reflections,
the sweet, soft air
no sounds.
So I hear, I see,
tell still the echoing story
of all that lives in a forest,
all that surrounds me.

[Thank you Caleb for sharing this hauntingly beautiful poem.]

Sunday, March 24, 2013

it's the little things

I just love dimmers on light switches. They feel truly Late-20th Century. They let everyone play 'director' or 'gaffer' or is it 'best boy'? Just how much light do you want to shed on this situation? You know what... don't tell me. Just show me. Turn that dial.
My roommate is watching something in the other room that sounds like a major cultural event. Somewhere. I don't know if it's live or not. He is watching it on a screen. It could have been dvr-ed. I know the Superbowl passed already and I don't think it's Grammy time. (Is it Grammy time?)
It's more musical than the Oscars and has more young fans cheering than most sporting events. Maybe Justin Bieber is playing catch or zip-zap-zop with Rihanna and every time they feel good about something they sing a little bit and the crowd goes wild. As crowds do. What it must feel like to be part of that crowd? I'm imagining a lots of tank tops and skinny girl-ish elbows and too much mascara and glittery eye shadow and purses filled with secrets.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

when look and feel unite

I thought that shot from Requiem from a Dream where Jennifer Connelly's character wears the Steadicam after she leaves the terrible guy's apartment was powerful and about as intimate as a camera could get... (each step conveys rhythm and emotion) but that was only the beginning.
This is the future.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a poem for the new year

No Longer at Sea
I was at sea for four days
(or ten years depending on how you count)

the ocean swelling and folding over itself
swallowing serenity and trading stillness for terror
the winds enough to carry you even without your sails amast

I swam with sea turtles and nurse sharks
which everyone says are harmless
but a name is still a name

On an island I met a man named Righteous
which is funny
because he's always in jail
he was clearing a road
in his prison garb

and I thought of you
and I thought of you
and I looked for the Big Dipper and her little friend
and I found Orion's Belt
and there were so many stars
and I thought of you