Monthly Archives: September 2008

Selling books

It’s tough, it’s a tough business. I spent all of Sunday at the West Hollywood Bookfair, and all on my ownsome as well, though it gave me time to think. And resulted in one book being stolen while I was distracted…a cookbook of low-fat vegan deserts, go figure. I hope they choke on their carob brownies of course, as stealing from any independant publisher is a cardinal sin, especially from my broke self! But I still found it funny. At any rate, we did pretty well I think.

I got there way too early since I’m all new at this, didn’t bring enough stuff, and had far too much time on my hands. And I soon realized that I was sitting next to the Ayn Rand folks, ha! They even gave me some good advice on how to make it look like I had brought enough stuff to fill the two very large tables I was given, and were very complimentary on the aesthetics of my display. They were giving a lot of stuff away…you’d think given Miss Rand’s philosophy they’d be busy proving the worth of their wares by selling it for top dollar…it’s the market that decides value after all! Maybe they figure propaganda works like heroin. It finally got better when the show started, a little old lady singing folk songs in russian, followed by readings of russian poetry, I really enjoyed that bit, hugely, though i couldn’t hear too well. Russian poetry is amazing, though not being close enough, I am not sure what they were reading, it looked like books so I imagine Pushkin and maybe just maybe Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva and Mandelstam and…I love Russian poets. I love the fact that the marquis was packed full of older russian folks to hear poetry.

The people watching was good, you could spot the well-kept and expensively maintained hollywood types, no one exciting though. The police wandered by. They didn’t think much of my stuff, though i thought about trying to sell them a real cost of prisons comix. A jedi knight walked past, followed by vader. A lot of couples were wandering around, and i thought again to myself, how do so many couples look alike?? Is it that people are just looking for themselves in someone else? I think that must be it, or perhaps their expressions come to match each others over time or…I don’t know. But too me that seems a horrifying fate, I’d rather be with someone very different who is always making me think new thoughts, try new things. And who doesn’t make me feel like I’m looking at myself in a mirror when I stare into his eyes. The absurd was not missing of course, like the woman with the dog carrier in camoflauge olive and pink, and her wee silly dog wearing some frilly dress thing with rosebuds on it. And the old guy who looked at my books with disgust, we had mumia postcards and he snorted and said that that guy would slit my throat if he could. I smiled. Then he asked me if there were any right wing bookstalls there, and I happily sent him along to the Ayn Rand folks next door.

The best folks there were the booth opposite to me and to the left. Smart gals productions. Their booth was freestanding, and they set up cloth to hang down on all sides, they hung little stars from the roof…and I’m thinking snidely to myself, ha! damn hippies. Bet they’re selling tiedye and clothes made from old saris…but no, they took the two tables down, opened up their bags and pulled out a large perfectly fitted booth size mat and lots of pillows. Then they proceeded to loll about on pillows, and read. One of them was reading Vonnegut if I am not mistaken. A couple of people came by, sat down, chatted. And when I say a couple I mean two. All day. And that is all they did. It actually seemed quite agreeable to lie on pillows in the middle of a bookfair on a beautiful sunday and read, so I had quite a lot of respect for them as they packed up. Though I am curious to know just how you make a living at that, I rather imagine they don’t.

Anyways, this is the happy stuff, even apart from the economy life has been sucking, lucky for everyone I don’t write about that shit.

Mortality and Palin

written on wednesday with no chance to upload until now…

I confronted dying again today, it was very meditative, the plane left LA on usual course to Tucson, it starts out over the ocean and then makes a big U-turn but it wobbled in the sky today and just kept heading out rather erratically over the water and I knew something was wrong, we had to land again on manual control with fire engines racing beside us. Exciting. You know what the funny thing is? I’m not afraid of dying at all, I can’t see it as anything but a door in spite of myself…interesting that, since I’m not religious. I’m just afraid of pain. I figure there won’t be time for pain if your plane crashes so it’s a good way to go really. So I sat thinking about life and how I’m very happy with the fullness of mine, and how I’d be a bit sad if I died cos life is just so good…and tragic and difficult and beautiful and so many other things that fill it up and make it worth living. So I enjoyed the plane trouble.

Of course then I got on the next plane and the two desperate housewives behind me getting chatted up by an annoying and enormously successful businessman made me actually wish that plane would crash. Or I had access to an eject button…that would be far better, I think all planes should have them. They weren’t sure if they were voting for McCain but then he chose his running mate and they were overjoyed. Why? Because Sarah Palin is just so pretty. Honestly. But the vampire who also boarded the plane made it almost bearable.

punk rock 80’s prom and the aftermath

Went to a party last night…a dress up party and everything! punk rock 80’s prom. Of course, not everyone dressed up. But of course, I did! Not for prom, one of those was enough. I remember it well, I drove me, Chrystal, and Veena…on the far side of town of course. We all went together and that bit was mostly fun, except for the truly embarassing moment where I had to cover the back seat with a sheet because it was dirty and covered with dog hair. But after the dancing was done, leaving the silly ice-sculpture filled hall and I think feeling slightly depressed, I took the wrong turn and drove the huge-ass family buick down a golf cart road. Then turning around I backed my car into a small tree. And then pulling back into the parking lot I almost hit Annie’s Cadillac which would have been an unmitigated disaster because my family was poor as dirt and she was a bitch. I pretty much felt like saying fuck prom back then, and still do.

Anyways, it was fun dressing up, so much fun! Though the green streaks I put into my hair haven’t quite washed out as promised, and as it did way back when, my hair refused to achieve any sort of respectable height or messiness. And I wore my boots and they made me about 10 feet tall, felt as though I was the tallest there and I sort of hate that. Still, Happy birthday Evelin! Here we are in our outfits, I know you’re jealous of such cool friends, and I also wanted to show off my moral strength, the stuff required for me to go to a play in Boyle Heights and then out for sushi in Little Tokyo before we ever hit the party. I think I must be discovering an exhibitionist streak in myself the older I get. And this was the end of the night, I think we all looked much better at the beginning when the eyeliner was in place and the crazy eyeshadow still present! But I was happy, not as happy as evelin, but happy

And I stayed over with Bev and Jose…though I’m moving into my new flat tomorrow or Tuesday so I’ll be able to stagger to my own home at the end of a long night! Happiness indeed. But for some reason I left my friends and plunged into sadness…probably the damn train. And now I’m going to moan in Spanish a bit because I’m sad and tired of moaning in English. Funny how I somehow feel like it’s a step up as far as privacy goes, but it’s in my blog, so is still really entirely public. Just points to the silly nature of my own contradictions.

Me siento totalmente profundamente triste, no se porque, hace mucho que no he sentido tan feo asi…me quite las ganas de trabajar, de crear (y creer), de hacer cualquier cosa que sea util…y tengo tanto que hacer.  Es el peso del mundo sobre mis ombros, me senti atrapada en el tren, paredes de sufrimiento y debilidad humana mi carcel, quiero estar con los que luchan ahora y olvidarme de los demas. Es que en veces no puedo aguantar, sin saber porque pense ahora en Mark y ya estuvo, senti todo de nuevo el dolor de mirarlo matarse poco a poco con alcohol y drogas y la vida de alguien sin un hogar aparte de su silla de ruedas. Poco a poco. Y no habia nada que yo podia hacer por mas que yo queria. Nada. Menos esperar, esperar este momento en que el quisiera aceptar ayuda. Nunca llego, se murio en la calle. Y veo tantos mas, con sus futuros tragicos escritos en sus caras, y hay dias que no aguanto. Estoy entre rabia y depresion.

Quisiera correr. Me pregunto porque he regresado a esta ciudad. Tantos que yo quiero aqui, y tantos que me quiebran el corazon. Y el peso de una ciudad fregada, chingada, encabronada. Una ciudad victima y matadora de una vez, en veces yo no se que tiene la culpa. Son los seres humanos que crearon la ciudad como es, y la ciudad que forma los ninos para una vida violenta y dificil. Pues supongo que la culpa tiene los ricos que benefician de todo.

Que se yo? Solo se que soy triste ahora y me duele todo.

Back in LA

My train hit someone today, the blue line at Vernon Station. The train hit someone. No one felt it, what is the measure of a human being against a hulking monster of iron and steel? We stopped and the conductor came on telling everyone to remain calm. Telling himself to remain calm. Two lives changed forever, and most people restless and angry only at the delay. Death today, or something close to it.

Welcome home to LA. I sat this morning, wondering how in fuck we have been reduced to this. Every time I come home I feel this, I see it clearly. How we have been reduced to this. Public spaces, angry faces, hard and drawn and bitterness carved. People take them off only when they get home. The world rolls past me, contained, when you’re in it no other world can exist. Homeless encampments along the train line, clothes and belongings scattered by police raids. They terrorize the most vulnerable. They stride along metro platforms, sunglassed, booted, guns pushed forward, large dogs beside them. Fundraisers for the city, reminders of who rules this place, and even in my anger I fear them. And here they are everywhere. I see hints of rebellion spray-painted in brilliance across gray walls, but around me there are simply people who survive. Survival is grim, it terrifies, it reduces life to a splinter working its way inwards. It kills senses, kills thought, kills compassion, kills joy. Life reduced to this. We live within the bones of capitalism, the structures of society, forces of history and economics that demand poverty, and place it here. And we yield with hardly a murmur, people getting on, making do. I understand riots, I do not understand why they are rare. I do not know what it will take to bring the structures down, and if they came down now I fear so much that we are too used to preying on each other. We do not look up but down when we inflict violence. We kill each other, we kill ourselves, we allow ourselves to be killed. I mourn my dead, in other worlds no one understands the number of dead, and I rage at this world with its invisible walls.  I wonder just what it is we have that we are so afraid to lose. I wonder how we can beat ourselves against walls without ever seeing them, without ever tearing them down. If we do not do it, no one will. Everyone on the other side is too afraid of us. Us I say…I grew up without choices but claimed them and I choose to stand here, it is a luxury of mine. I belong nowhere now, so I can chose which side I fight on. And I will always fight.

Tomorrow I will believe again in the possibility of building something better. I dream that it could grow large enough to bring the walls down with its tremendous swelling, I do not know another way to completely destroy them, and a breach has never proven to be enough. Tomorrow I will see again the strength and beauty that is here. But not today.

And you know, for all I write, the soundtrack of today said it so much better, The Roots, Bread and Butter, all of our cities are flooding and it never makes the news. All the levees are broken.

A child is born, his mother is gone
He in the middle of it literally, tusslin strong
For his life, the tide high
In the eye of the storm a mannish boy arrive
And the riot is on
Wit no spare time to try to respond
Or prepare times it’s hard not becomin a headline
Or prayin in the night when it’s bedtime
Or layin ya head down
Cuz you already know what it is now
You know a lot of leaders ain’t honest
And they can’t keep a promise
And I hate to speak about it but it’s all freakanomics
Cramped and proud of it, you amped and you rowdy
Treadin water tryina lift up ya head without drownin
This type of shit can make ya heart stop from poundin
Butchu pushin for the top too scared to stop
Now it gets deep, bodies are floatin around in the streets
Lotta people who won’t even be around in a week
Man get the operation gone
Whatch’all waitin on?
We been patient, y’all mo’fuckas takin long
The television gettin all the information wrong
Doin how they do it gettin they miseducation on
They already late
Somebody been was ‘posed to regulate
Instead of wait before they let the levee break
You try runnin from the truth but it’s givin chase
I got to ask myself yo, is any nigga safe?

[Chorus:]
A loaf of bread, milk and eggs, stick of butter man
Somebody mother lies dead in the gutter
Sheriff down by them that’s talkin that gutter
Tell the kids don’t look under those covers, mayne

Aberdeen (I’m running a bit behind here, I know!)

I wrote this a week ago in an internet free environment…

I’m in Aberdeen with Sara and Rowen and today sparkled with sunshine and rain, the train ride up here was glorious and filled with golden light and green moors and the sea, space around me in all directions, freedom stretching out side to side. And tonight I am absurdly happy. Very few people know happiness I think; I am so lucky.

A great chat, a tramp along a dirt path through the woods alongside a burn, and then a right up the hillside past fields with horses and a high stone wall to Rowen’s school to pick her up. A wee rest and then down to visit Sara’s brother past fields of pigs. We made pasta with fresh vegetables picked from their garden and romped with three tiny puppies who all finally fell asleep in my lap, and played tig and took a walk with the two dogs Bonnie and Meg down the road to the woods. We lost Meg and had to go back to look for her and then lost some time on the great bales of hay. My first time on bales of hay, you can jump and fall and roll around and it is soft almost like I imagine a cloud would be. There is honestly little better in the world than playing tig on bales of hay and clambering up and around and over and falling and not minding a bit. We lost Meg again, Meg was asserting her right not to go for a walk, so back to the house we went and then back home. And watched the empire strikes back munching on biscuits. Nevis the small black mouse had been released to enjoy his freedom a while in the living room, and it took some time to find him. I was having some misgivings about sleeping on the floor in said living room with Nevis running about, not enough to fall asleep somewhere else of course. But I have woken to find myself face to face with a mouse before, in the good old desert days, I can’t say I enjoyed it particularly. Luckily he was found underneath the chest and put to his own bed and so the room is mouse free and I am sleepy.

And I think in spite of everything life is beautiful.

Andy Murray returns tennis to the people

So I know Andy Murray lost the U.S. Open yesterday, Federer was playing brilliantly and there wasn’t much hope…

But I watched the match in a Glasgow pub, and it was extraordinary. The great working class, yelling unrepeatable phrases at the screen, as much into a tennis match as they were into the Scotland v. Macedonia qualifier for the world cup. To be sure, there were less of them, but they were no less emotional, no less committed, no less gutted in defeat. It was extraordinary. And I suppose it is nationalism, and nationalism is bad bad bad. But there was also something lovely about hoity tennis players being fluntly cursed in broad and colloquial glaswegian, and I enjoyed myself immensely.

And no one else seems to remember the Monty Python sketch where evil alien blancmanges come to earth and turn everyone in the world into scotsmen so they (the blancmanges) can win Wimbledon. It is one of the most absurd ridiculous sketches of all time, and one of my favourites. I think it adds a bit more depth to Andy Murray’s presence at the US Open. But I could be wrong.

Art, gods and stone

Creation awes me, the act of it. And what we have the capacity to create. And both the time span and scope of humankind’s run on earth. I love how things are so much the same and yet so very different…we all love, but the ideal of love is different. We all fear, but the form of our fears is different. We all speak, but language is so different, and I wonder how much we are shaped by these things, how much of them we shape, how the shaping happens.

I went to the British Museum the last day in London, I’ve been there before but every time I go I see new things that I fall in love with, that remain in my memory. And this visit I found several panels like this, that I know I have seen before but never loved

Figures drawn from stone, once alive, and now disappearing. And they linger as they go, they would have been already gone if they had not been stolen. And to me their true beauty lies in this return, this state halfway between sculpture and stone…they remind me of Michelangelo’s slaves escaping from the marble, unfinished. But the slaves are an emergence and these represent a death and I find both hauntingly beautiful. And they fascinate me with the confusion between rock and flesh.

The British Museum is overwhelming of course, after a short time the mind stops taking in things really, overburdened with beauty in glass cases. There was also a stunning display of American prints and etchings from Hopper to Pollock…I love black and white drawings and etchings as well and their collection is fantastic. Go see it if you can.

The other things that stood out this trip? Hawks. I love them in their beauty and purity and unconscious cruelty, they are ultimate predators and represent freedom in a way that few other animals can…and I found this

from ancient Egypt, and this:

from ancient assyria, and this

er…from China perhaps? China I think, or possibly Tibet. And each haunting in its own way, showing something deep rooted to be found across such space and time, something profound. I’ve been trying to write it but my words erase its profundity so I shall just leave it for the now.

Still, I have never been to the British museum when the sun was shining, and that itself was beautiful, the architecture is cold and neo-classical, but the light made it beautiful.