Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oh Danny Boy, The Pipes Are Callin'

An interesting controversy going on in San Francisco while I was there dealt with Maxfield Parrish's painting, The Pied Piper of Hamelin...
It's been behind the bar at the Palace Hotel forever, but they decided to sell it, which some people thought was a good idea as it's being damaged sitting in a bar, exposed to lights and possible splashes (no more smoke at least!). Anyway, there was an outcry at its removal, and claiming you're doing what's best for art by selling it for millions is kind of disingenuous of the hotel (they could donate it to the Legion of Honor or de Young after all). Art belongs to everybody, and whats more accessible than a bar? Then again, shouldn't kids be able to see a work of art that deals with a rather interesting treatment of children, disappearing them into a mountain? I have my own take on the story...the pied piper saved the children, he returned them to the Wordsworthian paradise from which they came, delivering them en masse from the sad drama of human life and the burgers who do things like rip off pied pipers.

Having led my friends and readers into the mountain(s)[literally in Faun, and right over the mountains in Horse], I departed the always stunningly beautiful bay area, and flew off to Seattle to dwell below the volcanoes of the Cascades for a spell.

This is actually looking east from Seattle to Bellevue where I lived out my childhood years (the place has grown huge, mostly due to Microsoft, which was only a vague dream in some young nerd's fantasy world when I lived here. Could it be Faun and Horse and Microsoft all existed in some cosmic dreamtime waiting room, and if so, what waits there now?). Anyway, back to earth: It has been my good fortune (not to sound too 19th. c.) to have grown up in two of the most beautiful cities in America

Leslie veered up to the curb at SeaTac as I arrived, driving a beat-up old Nissan pickup (one of many things we have in common, though mine is the lesser vehicle being a '94 Ford Ranger, which I'd actually planned, in my setting-out enthusiasm, to drive here...fortunately, I disabused myself of such a plan, the 14 hr. drive being a deciding factor, not to mention the iffiness of  such a steed, and the fact that I am truly air-wealthy after flying to Argentina and still working through my pile of earned miles). 

Les and I met in Sacramento when we were both at the end of collapsing relationships with our doctor partners who were in the UC Davis residency program, and rarely ever seen, so taxing are such programs. Leslie and I spent many lovely days walking everywhere in Sacramento. She took me to a rockclimbing gym and taught me so much--it was a real peak experience for me to learn how to wall climb--the balance, the meditative mindfulness, the connection to one's body. I became a spider and I love spiders. 

We both headed in different directions, but have kept in touch. She went off to become a sheepherder in Montana (she's also a carpenter, a blacksmith, an artist, an of Jack Kerouac's exploding roman candles, mad to live, to learn, to female version of Neal Cassady :) 
Myself...I went back to LA to discover the good people of LAANE who have expanded my life enormously and who I already miss:
Miss you Stella!

Les and I went to her little cottage in the Seward Park neighborhood, drank wine and listened to her amazing voice. She's the lead singer of Empire Way...listen here:
...she used to sing with Whiskywater:
She also has a love interest who is just as creative and interesting. Meet Shelli Markee:

I especially love Shelli's installation of 100 wire birds in a nearby cafe. Sometimes something strikes you as just kind of perfect. So struck me, her birds.

Anyway, Leslie just passed her Occupational Therapy Board Exam and is ready to depart yet again...headed for the Navajo Reservation where she has worked previously. I plan to visit her there in the summer if there is any money left in my bank account after this long tour.

Les caused me to break my rule of no drinking before dark

Speaking of doctors who matriculated at UC Davis, there's Tin's name (Tin is pictured in a previous blog entry as I stayed with him in SF) which appears in the oddest places

Les and I once again walked all over...cherry blossoms everywhere...cloudy skies but no rain, and the peaceful feeling of cloudcover, the windlessness and quietness while moss and plants sprout up everywhere...always beautifully shocking to see the plant life here after being in good old dessicated California for so long

People share books via their front yards here

Les also does sculpture (what doesn't she do?) Unfortunately, her lady fell over and lost her head and feet. But I like it better this way actually. 

Les does not like my loud Uruguayan alarm clock! She disabled it. I sleep in the kitchen on a pad so it's close quarters in her little cottage. (That Rushdie book is good: The Jaguar's Smile, which is about Nicaragua under the Sandinistas...another lost opportunity like Vietnam where the US stupidly put fear before justice...same as it ever was. The hypocrisy of America is endless and depressing. Les says lots of American retirees are now moving to strange the neoliberal course of history runs....

Ar artful cottage we passed on our peregrinations

More beauty at the clay studio down the lake

In case you were wondering what 'blue ribbon' livin' was all about:

Vermillion Gallery where I read with Eric Andrews-Katz and Kristin Marra

Oddly, I immediately recognized this gallery as Tin and I had visited it when we went to a lesbian wedding a few years back. Gay marriage is now legal in Washington, and as most of you know, the Supreme Court is currently hearing the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, with rulings expected in June:
Eric has been married 4 times (to the same man! first as domestic partners, then in Canada, then back here before it was legal and finally for real here in WA when it was legalized)

Hugh Reilly appeared in a welder's cap. This is a long and wonderful story. Hugh is a friend of my friend Donn Tatum (in last blog entry) and Donn took a liking to his welder's cap when they were working on their sailboats together up here in Seattle. I sensed Donn was launching a new fad and went in search of said cap before everyone on the west coast started wearing them. But I was repeatedly stymied as welding shops closed as I ran toward them down the sidewalk in the flats of Berkeley (had to go to the East Bay as SF is basically a post-industrial city where nothing is manufactured but ideas and apps). Well, I gave up, but Donn reassured me that when I got to Seattle, Hugh would direct me to a welding shop. Instead, Hugh showed up at Vermillion and he had a welding cap hanging out of his back pocket just for me :) Hugh is also an alumni of the same Berkeley fraternity I was in (which is rare as it's a small fraternity as fraternities go. Even rarer are gay novelists who were once fraternity my poem Brotherhood for that long sad, but healing, tale). But what's even weirder was that Tom Biehl soon walked in. He's a surgeon here in Seattle and was also once a member of that fraternity concurrently with me. Here he sits with Les at the afterparty drinking Pear cider

Tom Biehl is the man who taught me how to backpack. I was a city boy and he was an Eagle Scout. All I had to give him in return was his first toke of weed. Perhaps a fair exchange, but I doubt it. Backpacking is among the chief passions of my life and every trail I trudge, Tom is walking somewhere alongside, in front of, or behind me. Like Tindo, I seem unable to say his name without running first and last name together, so he is, to me, tombiehl. Off to Whidby Island this weekend for a private book reading with a group of retired gay men I got to know through the Gay Men's Spiritual Retreat back in my SF days.

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