My plan was to spend the summer lying on a yellow striped towel, reading on the beach. I had my doubts about this plan, because, after all, books can strain your eyes and fill your mind with horrible ideas, and beaches can be cold and windy (at least in New England).  Still, it was the best idea for how to spend my summer I could think of, because I wanted to take a break from my regular routine and do something different. And I’ve never read on a beach before, even though reading near bodies of water is a very popular activity in New England.

But no sooner had I started shopping for beach towels, then James decides to take a job in Hurricane, West Virginia. So we drove down for his interview, back up to New Hampshire to pack and load a U-haul, and back down to Hurricane to unload and unpack, and that has been my summer so far. All in all, it has been a more refreshing change than reading on the beach.

So far, I like Hurricane. We live just a few minutes from the Blenko glass factory, and I’ve already been shopping there twice in four days. My last apartment was mostly blue, but this one will be mostly yellow, plus orange, red, pink and all the colors of the rainbow. New England is restraint, and I want my new life to be exuberance. In New England, art is mastery, intellect, sometimes pretension, and I hope that in West Virginia, art will be color, nature, and feeling.

But I always idealize new things in the beginning, and then grow disillusioned when reality starts to come into focus. When I first arrived in New Hampshire, I thought, “Wow- this is amazing! There are no mean people here! (I theorized that the cold had killed them off.) Everyone is so friendly and lives only for the joy of helping others!” But as time wore on, pettiness and narcissism became visible, do-gooding began to seem like nothing more than a path to self-aggrandizement… the golden angels turned back into people, and now I was someplace no better than before, just way colder.

Orange and Yellow hand blown Blenko Glass

My new Blenko glass collection, all for the price of two lobster rolls!

So, I want to avoid placing West Virginia on a pedestal, but still, I have to say it is an enormous relief to be someplace less expensive, where an apartment twice the size, and much nicer, costs half the price. Pepperoni Rolls- the signature food of West Virginia- cost 1/10th (!!!) the price of Lobster Rolls- the signature food of New England. Frankly, I don’t like either type of roll very much, but I’d rather pay $1.50 for a sandwhich I don’t like than $15.00 (although I’ve seen people pay up to $60.00 for a lobster roll!!).

James and I bought two lobster rolls in New England, and both were traumatic experiences.

The first lobster roll happened right after moving there (we had been talking about lobster rolls- which I had read about in magazines- the whole ride up, imaging the rich luscious taste of buttery lobster in a hot dog roll melting in our mouths). We were strapped for cash due to the move, so we stopped at a run down shack thinking we would share a lobster roll for dinner with the few dollars we had left. Their least expensive roll was a shocking $15.00 and it was a tiny little thing, but since lobster rolls had been central to our vision of life in New England, we decided to buy one anyway. As we carried the roll to a  picnic table outside, a fly landed on it, and while shooing the fly, some of the precious lobster meat was knocked to the ground. James picked it up and ate it, because the only thing he hates more than germs is wasted money. But the true disappointment was the taste- it really didn’t taste like much at all, except for a fishy, animalistic flavor that left me slightly uncomfortable, especially when combined with the chewy texture that kept bringing to mind images of boiled insects. Still, I pretended to like it for James sake.

Fast forward a few months, and I’m lying sick in bed for the first time in years, probably from climate shock, panicking because I am afraid the autumn leafs will all have fallen before I get a chance to see them. (The autumn leaves are very beautiful in New England, but were also a source of great stress, since it seemed you had only a few days to view them while they were “peaking” before they fell and plunged you into a dark and endless winter. I have many memories of driving 90mph down the highway trying to reach some leaves that were peaking before the sun set.) So James, wanting to cheer me up, spent one of his last 20s to surprise me with a $20 lobster roll. I tried to eat it, but the insect feeling was just too much, and I finally had to admit to James that I hadn’t liked the first one either. So poor James was forced to eat the lobster roll himself, but he cried while doing so, because 1) he doesn’t like lobster rolls either, and 2) he had wanted to cheer me up, not stuff $20 of prestige into his own stomach.

I think there is a kind of psychological pressure that descends on people when things are too expensive. It makes the external environment seem too impressive, and one’s own self feel too unimportant. That’s why I like West Virginia. James and I can stuff ourselves silly on bacon, eggs, biscuits, country ham, coffee and juice, all for less than $10 at Tudor’s Biscuit World. A dazzling hand-blown orange Blenko vase is sold for $15, and the cashier gives you an extra $5 off, just because. Last night, I bought a yellow shirt, and the charge was exactly… Zero Dollars (I am not kidding!) due to all the discounts the salesperson tacked on. Everywhere you go, prices seem lower than you thought they would be, and discounts seem to pop up unexpectedly, the way fees and charges did in New England. Up north, it was kind of expected that you be willing to open your wallet and drop a few twenties for just about anything- a casual meal, a few drinks, an hour of listening to trombone music, a brick that would symbolically support homeless people, a glimpse of a wilted wreathe hung in an historic home… That’s not because everyone was rich, there were plenty struggling to get by, it was just the culture to pay more for less, and to let go of money easily and without complaint. Forget about buying clothes and nice things for yourself, forget about saving for the future, just take out your wallet and dump it at the feet of the man tap dancing on the sidewalk.

 

Desert Squirrels

28 Jun
0

 

Spirit of a plant talks to a nude womanSoon, I will be done with my project of posting up (almost) all of the songs I have written. I’ll be glad when it is over. I am sure I will keep writing songs, but I am not sure that I will keep blogging about them. That part is hard work. I have plenty of things to say and share, yet none of them ever seems quite true. I mean… they are true… and yet never entirely true. Pictures and songs can feel true to me, but statements of opinion and fact always have a fractured quality- they never encompass the whole picture, just a carefully selected fragment. So how do you choose which aspect to express, which way to portray reality? I don’t know.

Many people seem to have their angle on life worked out. Their personality and opinions stay relatively consistent from day to day. I’m not exactly sure what my take on life is, nor how I fit into it. I don’t know if I’m a democrat or a republican. I don’t even know if this life is a dream we’re all going to wake up from, though I suspect it might be.

But still, I try to say something, because it drives me nuts when I go to a concert and the musician just plays their songs without talking. It’s like french fries without salt. Bland. Seeing their human personality helps me to get my bearings and make sense of their music. So that’s why I try to say something.

Still, once I am done with this initial round of recapitulation, I plan to let my self off the hook for a while, to post songs and pictures without having to place a logical frame around them. Let someone else try to make sense of things for a change.

Oh yeah, this song is called Desert Squirrels. It is about the desert.

Download MP3: Desert Squirrels

Blue Bird

24 Jun
0

 

Two birds with dots and a setting sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think there is a part of our human brains that can understand the language of birds, even if we don’t realize it.  Someday, I am sure humans and birds will communicate freely, and we will realize what a large role birds have always played in our world. After all, birds are the type of creatures that make it their business to know your business, and to spread the word far and wide. Their sphere of interest and influence surely extends far beyond their own species. I have witnessed birds acting on behalf of both rabbits and humans on many occasions.

 

P.S. Yesterday, James pointed out that sometimes my blog posts, such as the one yesterday, might seem to be minimizing my songs. Well, I thought about it and he’s kind of right. Normally, my blogs do tie in more to the superficial meanings of the songs rather than their deeper undercurrents, possibly making the songs seem a touch more whimsical and airy than they might actually be.

But the thing is, when I write a song, I write from my feelings, and when I write a blog post, I write from my brain, and it is almost as though they have two different personalities. My brain is my less developed and more external self who strives to protect me, and the last thing he wants to do is expose guts and vulnerabilities for all the world to see.

 

Download MP3: Blue Bird

Curtains

23 Jun
0

 

Girl with a bony arm holding a gray ball.Once upon a time, I consulted a  psychic, and she told me I should get a part-time job working in a coffee shop and do some light and feminine summer reading. Well, I knew I wasn’t going to get that job in a coffee shop, but I felt guilty about it- especially since I had just read an article that said married women without jobs are committing husband abuse- so I read a mountain of chick lit to make up for it.

This song was inspired by one of those books, I don’t remember it’s name. Probably “The Laces of Summer,” or something like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Curtains

Black Hole with pink outline. Little black man.

In addition to personal resolutions, I like to make New Year’s resolutions for the group minds that I am connected to. I find they generally come true.

My group mind resolution for 2014 is that we release the idea that positivity is good and negativity is bad. Both positivity and negativity have equal ability to heal and to harm, depending on how they are used. Both can be vehicles for love.

Too often, positivity is used as a screen to hide problems and misdeeds. People who insist on positivity generally have behaviors they want to hide from others, or else painful feelings they want to hide from themselves. Jeffrey Dahmer was by all accounts a very positive person. In the book “1984”, positivity is used as a weapon to keep people from being able to express their true thoughts and feelings. The dark side of positivity is that it conceals and holds unhealthy realities in place.

Goodness is about caring and enabling people to thrive. Frequently this involves the willingness- and even eagerness- to plunge into negativity and stick with it for as long as it takes for actual change to happen. Looking at negativity brings wisdom and empathy. Discussing negativity makes transformation possible. Negativity brings depth to our goodness and keeps it from being an inch deep and a mile wide.

So, in 2014, let’s welcome the dark side into our lives and especially into our relationships, giving us the ability to be there for each other in ways that actually matter.

 

Painting of Nude man holding sign that says, "Please believe in me, we can mate with rabbits."

I feel like I should apologize to the whole world for posting up so many paintings of people who aren’t wearing clothes. I can understand why people don’t like pictures of naked people, because generally I don’t like them myself.

Astrology believes that, on average, half of a person’s life is what they make of it, and the other half is in the control of outside forces. The exact ratio, however, varies from person to person. For some people, the majority of their life is a reflection of the choices they have made. For others, the majority of their life was completely outside of their control. Sometimes I feel that I fall slightly into the latter group.

So, although I don’t wish to tell the story of WHY I ended up painting naked people, I will say this- that I don’t generally enjoy being surrounded by nakedness, BUT once you have begun to paint naked people, it is only a matter of time before they no longer seem naked to you, and they just start to seem like people. Their bodies become a symbolic extension of their inner life and the workings of their minds. And once you reach this point, you have to be CAREFUL- because the figures that have become so harmless and normal in your own mind, still have the power to trip off ideas of perversity and lewdness in other people.

So, in closing, I would like to say that although nakedness is frequently interpreted as a symbol of moral slackness and crudity, sometimes people are naked just because there are no more clothes to wear.

 

Download MP3: We Can Mate with Rabbits

Starfishy

18 Dec
0

 

Painting of a flying snake about to hit a lady sleeping in the grass.

When I first moved to Portsmouth NH, it was summer, the season when Portsmouth is at its most dreamy and picturesque, and I was enthralled by the ocean, the seafood, and the whole nautical theme that takes over the town during peak tourist season. All I wanted to do was go to the beach, eat fried seafood, and most of all SHOP- for oceany trinkets and this and thats in every shade of blue.

I also read books- anything related to the ocean and this part of the country. I wrote this song, Starfishy, while reading “Among the Isles of Shoals” by Celia Thaxter, in which she describes the crazy hooligans who lived on the islands. She wrote about how they loved to sing long songs, with lots and lots of words, in high squeaky voices, and how one of them would always begin the song on a ridiculously high note until another one would say “Too high, too high, Jim… how about this?” and then suggest a note even higher…  That is how it is with me, whenever I hear a song in my head and write it down, it is always ridiculously high, and then when it comes time to sing it I don’t know what I am supposed to do.

Download MP3: Starfishy

Flags

16 Dec
0

 

This song was inspired by the flags in Portsmouth NH, which seem to be kept at half-mast about 200 days a year. It seems strange to me- how do we decide which people and tragedies are worth lowering the flag for? I would probably never lower the flag, because it feels disrespectful to those who passed away on all the other days.

Self-portrait painting in white & red by Julien Aklei

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Flags

Saucer Eyes

17 Nov
0

 

This song was written about a friend of mine who wasn’t well liked by many because he held offensive opinions on just about every subject. But, despite his strange and insensitive ideas, he was in fact a very kind and loving person who had somehow managed to have his brain filled with all the wrong opinions.

Painting of Eric Edelstein with butterflies.Personally, I think we should judge people less by their beliefs, and more by their spirit and actions. I have known many people who held all of the most compassionate and sensitive ideas who were in fact cruel brutes. On the other hand, there are others who have all the wrong idea- sometimes because they picked them up from their environment and didn’t have the brain power to effectively sift through them-  who were in reality loving people who uplifted everyone they came into contact with.

But I guess it makes sense that we judge people’s moral quality based on their beliefs, since many of us come from a religion where getting to heaven is based largely on believing in all the right things. While some Christians believe you have to be a good person and perform good works to reach heaven, none seem to think that is sufficient if you don’t also embrace the right cosmology.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”  -Jesus

Download MP3: Saucer Eyes

3 Stacked Stones

14 Nov
0

 

I think this song may have been inspired (like so many others) by my hero Reinhold Messner, whose brother Gunther died while they were climbing a mountain together. But on a personal level, it reflects the feeling of being lost in a world of  ice- coldness, loss, isolation- as the flame of life struggles to hang on.

Copper print of Tibetan making Torma with gods and Himalayas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: 3 Stacked Stones

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