Sunday, November 29, 2009

C3 Public Art in Northampton

On my way to Northampton Coffee today I saw what I thought was snow on the lawn of the Chamber of Commerce. It was 50 degrees so obviously this was not the case. As I got closer I realized it was plastic cups. Matt Winum was in the process of doing an installation, funded by the Chamber of Commerce (B.I.D.?) and conceived by Commonwealth Center for Change (C3) for the Winter Windows Project. The cups will be illuminated at night. Matt also did the 2x4s and sleds installation in front of Urban Outfitters.
This shot is from Matt's Valley Artshare page.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chill Pill

Claustrophobia Dream

This morning I awoke in a panic. I'd had a claustrophobia dream. In the dream I am climbing the stairs to an attic room where my childhood friend Stuart Malone lives. Stuart died of a heroin overdose when he was 26. At the top there's some sort of wall abutment or architectural oddity protruding into the narrow stairwell. It requires bending and twisting into an unnatural and tight position to maneuver the final stairs and emerge into the attic room. I never make it into the room. There's a tense moment where I'm positioned almost upside down such that my arm is wedged and moving it will cause it to break when my full body weight lets go. My panic makes me want to jerk it quickly and escape, and it's from this bone-threatening position that I awoke this morning gasping for breath, freeing myself from the blankets and jumping out of bed waving my arms in the air to verify that I was not trapped. I was shaking and filled with a sense of deja vu and dread. I remembered this stairway squeeze vividly. Was it an actual memory or a memory of a dream? It had to be from a dream because the existence of such a thing makes no sense. Claustrophobia is not one of my big phobias. I had an MRI once and didn't panic. It was equipped with mirrors which gave the illusion that you were in the room and not in the tube. But all day today I've been feeling panic when I remember the dream. And here's the weirdest thing. An hour after I awoke I read this story in the Gazette over a bagel.

"John Jones, 26, of Stansbury Park, died nearly 28 hours after he became stuck upside-down in Nutty Putty Cave, a popular spelunking site about 80 miles south of Salt Lake City. John Jones was part of a group of 11 people exploring the cave passages. The 6-foot-tall, 190-pound spelunker got stuck with his head at an angle below his feet about 9 p.m. MST Tuesday. At times more than 50 rescuers were involved in trying to free him." The whole story is here. (The photo is not from this specific incident.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday in the Sixties

It was a warm November Sunday in Northampton with temps reaching well into the sixties. I was a wanderin' fool with my camera and the idiot glee that comes from an unexpectedly gorgeous day. Below, left to right, a local musical icon convergence in front of the Woodstar Cafe on Masonic Street with Michael Gregory, Roger Salloom's 93 year old mother, Roger Salloom.

Looking for deals in the discount CD rack at Turn It Up! (umm....pull 'em up).

I often see some unfamiliar street musicians on Saturdays and Sundays; weekend warriors compared to the 9 to 5 guys who are out there every day.

Here's Adam (and friend) with his guitar on the front porch of the notorious "house with the red door" on King Street. Adam is also a virtuoso of the saw. Only the red door's hinged edge is visible.

A colorful bunch about to become pedestrians.

And they're off!

If you want this worm, it's going to cost you.

This is local boxing coach Djata Bumpus of Pioneer Valley Boxing School who's been a fixture in town for years. But he's much more than just a boxer as you'll see on his blog Djatajabs. The purpose of his blog is "for people to be able to recognize and understand cultural and social developments in the United States, based upon the lifelong journey of an African American activist, educator, artist, and retired pro boxer."

Who's zoomin' who?

Local girls agree to be immortalized on the Nohodome.

Sweet job for someone.

Hmmm. Is the B.I.D. behind this? They painted all the lamp posts black but you'd think maybe there would be an attempt to match the color of cement when patching the sidewalk. This looks terrible, and right in front of the Hotel Northampton too.

There's a planet on the roof of the hotel...
...and on the front stairs.

Trying on jackets at Roz' Place on Bridge Street. Note the amazing vintage radio collection. Bakelite!

Not sure I can rock the Ramones look anymore despite my admittedly bad ass rock and roll lifestyle that has me up as late as 9PM most nights.

A delivery truck hit the marquee right after the other side was repaired for the same reason. Grrrrr! Knocked the lights out too so it just glows VIN.

A zen moment with Ani DiFranco who plays the Calvin tonight. My friend Katie is taking me and insisting I will enjoy myself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lions and Bonnie and Femmes

Gordon Gano (of Violent Femmes) and the Ryan Brothers with me and Sean from WRSI today after an in-studio performance. I am NOT shorter than Gordon. I'm hunched down so as not to obstruct Sean. In February of 1989 I was at a music biz baseball game in San Francisco and I hit, no lie, a grand slam off a Gordon Gano fastball. He said he remembered it well, still bears the scars, and that someone had just asked him about that 20 year's gone game a few days earlier! Why can't I get, just one strike....?

This is obviously the Lion's Club represented by this old firetruck in today's Veteran's Day parade in Northampton, shot out my office window.

Bonnie's ghost cart continues to runneth over.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Bushel of What?

I read when I eat, a habit that began as a child reading every word on a cereal box, pupils fiercely dilated by sugar, hypnotized by that row of 25s in the nutritional info rectangle. Total and Special K had 100s. Quisp, well, I don't recall the vitamin and mineral percentages but it was shaped like little UFOs. "Vitamins" and "Minerals." The two words that perpetuated the ruse that this stuff was food. Do kids still save box tops or that magical childhood currency, the proof of purchase seal, that promised poorly constructed knock offs of real toys or licensed cartoon character figurines with lots of extra plastic left around the edges by the cheap molds? I never had the patience for those delayed gratification offers. If the toy was pictured on the box, it better damn well BE in the box. There were two kinds of families when I was growing up. The ones that allowed kids to empty out the cereal into a big bowl to claim the toy and the ones like mine that made us wait until the toy was birthed naturally during normal cereal usage rates. It was forbidden to conspicuously eat another bowl in one sitting just to get to the toy. I tried it once but it didn't come out on the second bowl pour and I just couldn't credibly ask my mother for a third in good conscience or health.

I was reading a copy of Edible Pioneer Valley this week while I ate dinner, learning all about eating local and healthy. I don't think the pizza I was eating from Pizza Amore on Green Street is what they mean by locally grown. But like going to the gym, eating right is on the list that I hope to get to before being instructed to do so by a doctor. To this end, I want to direct you to a locally grown cooking blog by Nicole Kutcher with lots of easy cooking recipes. A Bushel of What? "Nicole Kutcher lives with her husband and her dog in Easthampton, MA. She has no James Beard Awards, no culinary training, and no cookbooks published under her name. She does, however, like to eat." The latest post is a great (I bet) Curried Vegetable Soup recipe. She's "got one in the oven" herself as of late so forgive her any pickle and ice-cream based recipes that may pop up. Just click on the logo below.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm infected by awareness.

Do you ever feel like what you might really feel like doing is too unsophisticated to cop to? I am so distraught by Fox News and so much of what's in the "news" that shouldn't be news and even more distraught at what the real news, reported or not, appears to be. I'm angry that people like Glenn Beck have a cable network at their disposal, like a cockroach with a megaphone. I like Rachel Maddow because she fights back, but lately that's all she's able to do. The bullshit-storm, by design, is so strong that the sensible people have to waste their time defending themselves against assaults from the idiots who destroy and don't create. There's rarely a chance to do anything else. You can't have a civil conversation in the middle of a locust invasion without going blind and swallowing big gulps of exoskeleton. Is it wrong to want to just turn it off and live in a bubble of my immediate reality more often? I'm infected by global awareness, and probably only scraping the surface of the truth at that. My innate optimism feels feisty but naive and either dependent on oblivion or subject to serious and emotionally expensive re-evaluation and compromise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mommy, what makes men drum in the back of a parked truck in downtown Northampton on a Sunday evening?

And what makes a man videotape them? And what makes a man use the word videotape instead of whatever phrase describes shooting a movie with a digital camera? I slept until 3PM, well, 2PM, today and awoke to my door buzzer. Emily was returning the bag I'd left in her car last night containing a picture frame, an umbrella, and one warm can of Miller beer. The detritus of an evening of altered identities and mental states for morning-after forensic analysis.

I made a scrambled egg burrito and then headed to Northampton Coffee for a cappuccino and a lemonade at 5PM. I felt none of the usual guilt about sleeping away a Sunday, drunk with the heady luxury of that extra hour added to the day. This gift of an hour gives humans an illusory sense of power over time, as if we had any control. Sure, we invented these measures of time; minutes, hours, days, so we could have dentist appointments, and we can use our invention to pull this daylight savings time jazz, but sister this won't buy you time in the end. If your moment of death occurs right when the clocks go back, you don't get a reprive. Never mind the whole leap year racket. As the Beatles said, number nine, number nine, number nine. We're just monkeying with the instruments. Nevertheless, it's a great illusion and today felt long despite my scandalous sleep-in.

Usually I feel like I've robbed myself of life's precious and finite weekend hours. But lately I realize that I needn't see the weekend as separate from the work week because A. they frequently bleed together and B. why not just BE all the time wherever I am instead of framing some time as mine and some as "on the clock?" I've read about taking this approach with "waiting" in line or in traffic and it makes plenty of sense. Don't think of it as waiting. Don't focus on getting to the cashier and twitch and fidget. Try to be in line. BE in line. Look around. Listen to what people are saying. Monitor the culture. Gather some anecdotes. It makes me feel powerful not to allow a situation to get the best of me and look around at all the willing victims who have yet to reach CVS-line enlightenment. I think about elevators and stairs this way too. They are not merely a means to an end. If life is about the journey and not the destination, then what better metaphor is there than a staircase, an escalator, or an elevator? The epitome of a failure to grasp this idea is those ridiculous segueways (ala Paul Blart: Mall Cop) that rob us of our walking.

The video below evokes the concept of transport as its own reward (as well as offering a clever tool against obesity.)

Waiting rooms. The name already sets people up for annoyance. What is this need we have to divorce parts of our lives into chunks, half spent reminiscing, the other anticipating? Or doing too many things at once like George Costanza and his dream trifecta: eating, having sex, and watching television all in bed simultaneously. Jerry calls him "Caligula" after this incident. George says, " I flew too close to the sun on wings made of pastrami," and Jerry replies, "So, she didn't appreciate the erotic qualities of the salted cured meats?"

Personally, any moment on this planet that I'm not in pain, have no broken bones, I'm not in jail, I can breathe and scratch my elbow, etc., I am in a state of potential joy. The real test I guess would be keep my cool in an airplane that is going down. And really, what is life but that?

Richard Glaven and I used to paint houses for Joe Callahan in the '80s and when we'd finish and he'd assess our work he'd point to places on the house where we had missed a spot and say "Holiday!" He'd find another. "Holiday!" Pointing his finger at spots across the span of the house, "Holiday! Holiday! Holiday!" Richard made a point of answering Joe's critiques with meaningless non-sequiturs. "But Joe, it's different for domeheads." Joe would stare at the two of us, first Richard, then me, then Richard again and shake his head. He'd say, "Nevertheless...." We'd get back up on the ladders and paint over our little mini-vacations. Then we'd all go to Delano's for beers. I had a job as a short order cook at Delano's after college. It was my first employment coup with my English B.A. from UMass.

After Northampton Coffee I came home feeling ideal bio-chemically and inspired to create. This feeling doesn't happen often enough. It's a full moon so maybe I'm feeling a lunar tug on the tides of my creative juices. Sometimes it's the result of caffeine and is oft accompanied by a flurry of resolutions and the use of words like oft. I proclaim that I will get up at 7AM and go to the gym for the second time this year after buying a two-year membership last January. Then I'll go to Northampton Coffee or the Haymarket to read the paper, maybe scribble down some of the more promising fly-by thoughts, and go to work on time rather than sleeping until 9:45 and getting in at 10:30. Eric, if you're reading this, the times are purely hypothetical....

I tried to make some headway at my collage table but lost interest and, as always, I end up talking and writing about being creative rather than doing it. I love ideas and inspiration but wow does my discipline and follow-through suck.

The recycling bin is always interesting when you share a building with the TMNT's company Mirage. The renowned local enterprise was just bought by Nickelodeon.