Thursday, February 28, 2008

High On Fire at the Uptown

High On Fire at the Uptown went off like salt rock in a shotgun, loud and painful but a ton of fun. All of our party and most of the crowd agreed that the show was excellent. That custom 9-string sounded more magic than ever. Sweated until blind and delirious, short of breath and full of pain, plenty of grins to go around. Got knocked down in the pit a couple times, knocked some people down, helped some people to their feet, met some very fun folks, exhuberant roaring, laughing, classic venue. Julia estimated the ratio of men to women to be 5:1, but I don't know if it was really that much of a sausage festival, although there was an awful long line for us guys to piss, while the ladies just waltzed in and out of theirs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade 2008

"I am become death, the shatterer of worlds."

--passage from the Bhagavad Gita that flashed through Robert Oppenheimer's mind following detonation of the first atomic bomb. The same thought visited my mind at age six, shortly after lighting my first firecracker.

In all my firecracker loving years I had never attended the Chinese New Year Parade & Festival in San Francisco. For someone that loves firecrackers as much as me, to have stayed away for so long, even during seven years of living in San Francisco, was duh, buh, duh, dumb. The drums, the firecrackers, the street food, the half-wild kids, politicians smiling from hopped up mustangs, music & light washed over me, fired up my old explosion craving cycle, eyes wide for concussion colors.

When I was a kid I believed my drug of choice to be the ringing in my ears, and it may still be. We used to cruise along on our BMX bikes, lighting firecrackers as we rode, throwing them at each others wheels, laughing and laughing and laughing. Those were my pre-teen summer suburban halcyon days. Gunpowder in our nostrils, fingers numb and discolored from short fuses, law leering with suspicion from air conditioned squad cars. We ruled the cul-de-sacs and dry creek beds, slinging Black Cats and Thunder Bombs, for as much as $1/firecracker, if we didn't like you.

The crowds were not heavy due to forecasts that called for rain and 60+ mph winds, but the streets were far from empty. I of course love storms and proceeded undeterred. An air of fun and burnt gunpowder danced rainy figure eights up and down the drizzled streets, to the tune of yelling kids. Next year I will drag the kids along for sure, typhoon or not.

Dined at San Francisco's oldest Chinese restaurant afterwards, The Four Seas, pleasant enough, very classic. My mother has said for years that hunger is the best spice, and we were quite famished, so the fare satisfied fabulous. The leek & shrimp dumplings were extra good with lots of leek, and the rest hit the spot.

Woke up the next morning with my pockets full of fireworks, much to the children's delight. When we were done lighting them off I started mixing some unsweetened aloe vera juice into a shake. Gumbo wanted to try some, so I mixed up a little apple juice with a couple ounces of it and let him try it. "Tastes like kid alcohol." he says, right away. Yes, um, kid alcohol, we all know what he means, but, at age 4, how does he know?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kayaking and Fishing on Tomales Bay

Live in that land of impossible bliss, intense like childhood,
storybook, enchanted. Everything works out pissing perfect, for now.

Tomales Bay took me in without batting an eye, soul cleanser. Left lines in the water
all night but no sharks, rays, or other yummy vertebrates managed to hook themselves, but I tried kayaking
for the first time and loved it. Paddled all around Marshall Marina, saw
a magnificent fire rainbow, an otter, several seals, schools of live jellyfish, hawks buzzing within a paddles distance, and a hundred other kinds of birds.

Moon set one of the best of all time, Li Po joined us in spirit, perfect crescent. Sky so clear the Milky
Way stood out. Could hear the waves crashing on the coast just over the hill,
across the bay.

I got to drive my AWD but not really meant to be taken off-road sedan down the beach without incident (hee-haw). Slept with no tent or tarp, on a very misty night, with my head a long arm's length from high tide. Even though I woke up a few times in the night cold, my good mood shone through so happy that I did not mind, even thought my shivery plight rang funny in the steady wind blowing jets of cold air on my feet. That laughter in the face of an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement indicates an exceptional good mood. Keep that ball bouncing.

So warm the next morning I did pilates in my t-shirt, and kayaked some more in fair rough windy
conditions, which tickled me dayglow with that intimation of mortality, especially once I found myself smack in the middle of the bay having a hard time turning around without capsizing. Kept me grinning ear
to ear, considering how the swim to shore would feel. Spent time paddling around a darling hippy dream ship named Just
Imagine, which I went ahead and did, delicious.

Drove home a way I'd never cruised before that blew my mind with it's scenic folds & rocks, grass & trees. Marshall-Petaluma Road to Lucas Valley Road to Novato. Must try them on bicycle. So pretty they could cause Chuck Norris to bust out with power tears.

Wonderful time with my kids all afternoon, filling their new sandbox together,
cooperating, playing, no shirt, no shoes, shorts, running, napping. Then I took
4-year old Gumbo to a BBQ at Maira's house in West Oakland, where some excellently insane
artists live. We checked the fire sculptures, electric motorcycle, robots, got
a personal blacksmithing lesson complete with souvenir, met some cool folks, and then raced home to rock us all
gently to sleep.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Portrait of An Artist as My Sweet Daughter

Sweet daughter stays focused on the art supplies, wherever they crop up. She typically insists on pens or play-clay, but you see her here working on a "sour cream on blue plastic plate" piece. All the wooden toys have been marked up magic bus style, and her own skin has served as a canvas many times. From early in the morning until bedtime the girl wants to create, and much prefers it if I sit next to her during the process. "Sit! Daddy, sit down! Please." Hard to walk on by that request, just a minute Papa. Her specialties are fish and cats.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

First bicycle ride of the year

"...we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream - till the heart be touched. That touch creates us." --Nathaniel Hawthorne, from his notebooks

First bicycle ride of the year yesterday. Mustard flowering, pine smells wafting, birds blue. San Pablo Dam Road to Bear Creek Road (The Bears) to Alhambra Valley Road (looks like the way wild west ~100 years ago) to Castro Ranch Road to San Pablo Dam Road, full circle. Road late in the day, shadows grew long, felt my spirits grow with them, joyous whooping in the canyons, echoes & grins followed along. Bicycle became invisible, a part of me, turned riding to flying, flying ecstasy inches above blood hungry asphalt. Flew by a charming brown horse so close I could have kissed her, and then, while physically embracing a sharp rural curve, did kiss her, in the bright sun comfort of my mischievous mind. Still more altitude to attack, legs screamed for mercy, burned, ached, threatened to stop revolution, but I flogged them straight to the gasping brink of their limits, a salt skilled pain/play partner having an excellent afternoon. A tolerance, if not a love, for pain goes for many a switchback bicycle mile. Now that that 90 minutes in the saddle has given up the ghost, the phrase "Let's do it again, do it again." sings itself in drunken laughter rounds to all that will listen. Ride with passion.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Merry-Go-Rounds Across Centuries

"A really fast car gives more intimations of mortality than a sack full of certified cancers." -- Ernest Hemingway writes to Harvey Breit from Paris, 9/16/56

"Has she used Serpasil? It is very good. Also DIURIL. If the Serpasil depresses her she can counter-act it with RITALIN. Have her ask her doctor about these." -- Ernest Hemingway writes to General Charles T. Lanham from Ketchum, Idaho 1/12/60

"I had meant to write long ago but the work has been continuous and difficult and all the news sad." -- Ernest Hemingway writes to Gianfranco Ivancich from La Finca Vigia (Italy) 5/30/60

They say that last line shows the mental change that preceded the last hurrah.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fulfillment Permeates Now

"...when wildness is not included within the life and definition of man, something crucial is missing from manhood. Zorba said it best: "A man needs a touch of madness, otherwise he will never be free." The shamans of every tribe have always known that man has a dream-body, or what Freud called the libido. If we lose touch with the outrageous, contradictory, excessive life of our dreams we easily become too domesticated by the social order. The playful child and the wise old man live side by side in the psyche. Impose the tyranny of seriousness and both die." --from Fire In The Belly: On Being A Man, by Sam Keen

As you can tell from the quote above, Mr. Keen tends to talk like a doof, but sometimes makes sense. I take great comfort in knowing that fulfillment permeates now, rather than face cruel imprisonment by ghosts that insist on being addressed as future. My innermost senses reach out to this moment, feel it hum, glow, wash through me and all around planet. Electric arcs flow from north pole to south pole, passing from the tips of my toes out the top of my head, and then reversing so that lightning shoots from my flaming feet to the core of the earth, so warm, with roses raining all around, smells terrific. Waxing sharp crescent moon speaks with me, and in a language all our own we explore the other side, senses sing and play ornate hand made instruments, a few of my favorite things.

Theodore Roosevelt once stated that Mother Jones was the most dangerous woman in the United States. She was 83-years old at the time. Happy tears danced from my eyes when I heard Utah Phillips tell that anecdote this morning. Most folks, especially women, get tricked into relinquishing their "dangerous" status at a younger age. Mother Jones rocked a loose cannon, a strength respected, reminiscent of my own dear mum. Aspire to "most dangerous person in the world", no age or gender restrictions, going to revolutionize the present.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Best Mardi Gras Ever, Again

Every year gets better. I remember this year's festivities as one huge unforgettable Kodak moment, each and every second.

Waterfalls careening over the edge of the world, you know how I feel

Falcons on the wind under a big yellow moon, you know how I feel

Tigers leaping 12-foot walls become me

Sequoia yelled out to me as I danced fantastic leaps backwards while holding the parade banner, "You'll never grow old." Feel that too.

Monday, February 04, 2008

13 More Hours Until Mardi Gras Dawn

Last Mardi Gras lifted me so high that I could never finish the post about it. My Fat Tuesdays have only been better and better since I quit drinking (2004); more than just your garden variety fun, truly wild times. We had the second to last King Cake party last Friday at sunset up near the headwaters for Derby Creek, in Berzerkeley. The photo shows the tasty view from our chill party spot, ever new and powerful, rife with inspiration. Expectations are delusions, so I keep my hopes in check, while working steady setting up my fun dominoes to wash over me in way fun second line time.