MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2005
An upstart stud tears into the stretch...
Let it be known that your friend Jackadandy has stampeded past all the racehorses and onto the first page on Google Search and is now neck-and-neck with bullterrier Champion Souperlative Jackadandy of Ormandy. Hah! Watch your heels, you tea-blooded cur! Jack the canny mongrel is on your tail!
Above, a figurine of the Champion Souperlative featured in the February auction of the Bull Terrier Club, to wit:
"North Light Bronze Resin Bull Terrier Figurine on Marble base with silver plate attached engraved 'To Jim (Ch Souperlative Jackadandy of Ormandy) for having won the Monkery Stud Dog Championship three years in succession 1978 1979 1980".
Minimum bid: 175 British pounds.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 6:25 PM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2005
Over the weekend I escorted a friend to a gala held by a local Native tribe, a fundraiser for their new learning center (my friend sits on the Board). I hoped that polished brown shoes and a crisp white shirt, no tie (and forget the jacket---this is August in the desert, people!), would fit an early-evening gala on the reservation.
My friend and I assisted with the silent auction where, alongside the baskets and jewelry and rattles, some of the most popular items were out-of-print books concerning the tribal history and culture, especially dictionaries of the almost-lost languages, and private language lessons. After the dinner (acorn pudding, which I've had before, and yucca blossoms, which I haven't---a refreshing, direct flavor unmediated by seasoning or spice) I was in and out, fetching auction items, and on my every re-entry into the room there would be the tables full of survivors of a hundred years of forced indenture, starvation, and cultural disintegration, smiling while the Bird Singers and dancers, young and old, faced one another in a vigorous revisiting of migrations and Creator interventions.
The celebration was held in the tribal community center, which was once the bingo hall until that enterprise was moved to the new casino next to the highway. And last year that casino was replaced by the even newer casino, a sky scraper which towers alone above the desert floor, rising rudely like a giant Bird flipped into the ancient sky.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:21 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2005
Do you dream in color? I certainly do, with rare and pointed exceptions. Someone told me years ago that most biomales do not routinely dream in color. Is that true? I've never been able to confirm it.
I had a dream this week that there was a stuffed bird on a perch next to my bed, little and bright-colored, like a song bird or maybe a woodpecker. It was really old and bug-eaten, kind of dusty, but still perky. Suddenly a raptor swooped down through the ceiling, like a hawk but particularly small and dark, with no markings. Its talons were extended and its wings braking as it made a grab for the little bird. But the feathers on the bird's head were loose from age and all the detritors that had been gnawing on it for years, and the hawk came up with just a pile of feathers in its claws. It grabbed at the bird's head again, and again, but couldn't get a grip, and finally gave up and flew back off through the ceiling, leaving a bald stuffed bird and drifts of little blue and yellow feathers across the floor.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:20 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005
My tailor, Juan "Pepe" Salvatierra, has retired.
The only reason you're not now witnessing major wailing, lamenting, and gnashing of teeth (not to mention rending of garments, which is really ill-advised when you've just lost your tailor) is that he will retain a few private clients, working out of his home, and I am one so-privileged. (whew!)
He and his wife, Esther, have sold the shop, to a woman who is, apparently, not a tailor and will focus mainly on tuxedo-rental, with some custom work that she will send out. Such is the way, nowadays...
Pepe, from Argentina, is one of that dying breed of real tailors, who, when I bring him a garment or an idea, does not say (like so many others), "No, we can't do that", or, "No, you don't want that", or (maybe this just happens to me *sheepish smile*), "You should throw this away and buy a new one." (lol)
Instead, Pepe fingers the fabric, considers for a moment, then nods slowly and says, "Ah... Yes. Yes, we can do that." Yay! Yay! And a big grin breaks out on my face ... :))
Pepe appreciates the client who cares about style and quality (a concern that is more rare, apparently, among biomales...). At the same time, when I brought him my most-beloved-jacket-of-all-time-that-is-one-thread-from-the-rag-bag, he noted gravely that even if one could find a fine tweed like that anymore it would cost very, very much and that, under the circumstances, yes, he could---and would---replace the lining for me. (Not a job that a tailor enjoys, mind you.)
He accommodates my unusual stylizations, is classically patient as the expert Madame E. and I spend hours sorting through his magic case of shirting swatches, and never, but never suggests I consider "womens cuts" or gives me that " second look"---except, of course, when double-checking his measurements.
The down side of having Pepe in my life is...I employ him as much as possible.
I'm only a working-class dandy, folks---no senator's son here. :(
There are two things I simply will spend money on, it seems without reservation, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead: Tailors, and picture-framers.
Il faut, you know? Food is really not such a necessity, not much, anyway, and I never mind my vehicle is on its last wheels, but...some things just must be right.
And Pepe makes them right.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:59 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2005
It's heated back up again. Yesterday afternoon a panting cottontail lay spread-eagle in the damp basin beneath my valiant desert bird-of-paradise.
In July, when it hit 115, a friend and I escaped for a couple of days to a mountain lake, where we pursued such idle pleasures as paddling a canoe and photographing some of our favorite subjects: my hands, her lush, lose-myself-in-darkness head of hair.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:48 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 02, 2005
the ivory dungeon
There are times when I lament the feebleness of my formal education, and other moments when I am, I confess, perversely proud of it. But mostly, I just take advantage of it in the form of blissfully uncensored creative license. An unsupervised and unsystematic education coupled with my natural arrogance (the first qualification for a dandy, yes?) has left me frequently resorting to an effective learning modality: Stepping boldly (ignorantly?) where I have no right to go.
I also, in the absence of other resources, developed an osmotic technique in childhood of learning new words through context as I read works that were "beyond my level", as they like to say---something I've been doing since I first learned "a" from "b". For some reason I never developed the necessary faith that any appointed teaching "authority" really knew what the hell they were talking about; I've always trusted the casually-overheard, the candid self-betrayal, and "found information" more than direct pedagogy.
I was amused to note last week that I must still use this osmotic technique, because I'd been slogging through an art essay that was so obscured with cant of the post-post-post-critical variety that my most creative and earnest attempt to glean meaning from context was defeated. The work was so entirely unmusical, the jargon piled up so inelegantly, that I kept checking the credits, certain that it must be a translation. But, no, not a translation...just an academic wasteland, and a waste of somebody's time. I moved from feeling frustratingly excluded to simply laughing out loud.
Last winter I attended a genderqueer conference in Santa Barbara that was pushing "conversation among activists, artists, and academics," and mostly it was just that, and exhiliratingly successful. Most participants strove to find common language and make communication the first goal.
Not everyone was so generous, however. The final post-grad presenter in a particularly stuffy- and crowded-classroom session had that fluorescent-blinded lab-rat look about him, bless his heart, like he only on the rarest occasions emerged from the university basement. He droned and demi-gestured through the myopic reading of his impenetrable jargon-burdened paper like he hadn't encountered an actual human in so long he'd forgotten that communicating with them might be the purpose of his enterprise, and certainly failed to recognize that there were any with him in the room.
As the hermetic bullshit piled up in the front, in the back row the irrepressible Murphy and I suffered an irresistable fit of the ignorant giggles, while the heavily credentialed Madame E., who when provoked can sling theory with the best of them but who reserves a special disgust for the petty traders in academic capital, fanned herself and raised a dangerously impatient brow, then finally fell asleep.
What was the topic of our lab rat's presentation? Film? Television? Beats me... *shrug*
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:31 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2005
the week in review
When I sort my laundry for the wash it's like revisiting a journal of my life for the past week, and I must say that by this particular washday's accounting, life the past week appears to have been distinctly unglamorous . Except for the expected decent ration of unmentionables and a few towels, there was essentially nothing to go in the wash because I'd worn the same jeans and T-shirt all week as I undertook a marathon immersion painting of the interior of my studio.
Said jeans and T-shirt are now, it goes without saying, fit only for the trash.
I refused to allow myself the pleasure of changing but kept re-donning this costume each morning as, I admit, sort of a cross between widow's weeds and a hair-shirt, so that my suffering might be both complete and visible. Unfortunately there were no witnesses to my valor or my misery, however, except the flustered and aggrieved spiders, resentfully dodging my roller and brush late into the night as their usual shadowy hideaways dematerialized when the furniture was heaved into the center of the room.
But the job is done, and I'm glad and am doing my best to forget about the doing of it. The paint smell is finally out of my nostrils and only the blisters remain. The blisters, and all the other stuff that didn't get done while I was busy with the painting project. It all awaits me, and will be revealed in next week's laundry, no doubt. *sigh*
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 7:03 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2005
I ask you...
...is there anything sweeter than a certain femme bringing you a home-made "drive-by dinner" when you're working the swing shift?
I think not.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:48 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2005
the red door
Soon after I met my dearest friend, L., she acquired two cats. Malika and Camille were there the first time I went to her home, on Park Street off Mission in San Francisco, almost 20 years ago. Sleek, graceful, dignified, they shared a powerful feline planet with L. The three of them were a wild animal presence, civilized on their own terms. The cats never bothered with being front-and-center, asking for attention from humans; instead, they were silent, watchful, pursuing their own secret games, magic on four paws.
Malika and Camille both passed on in the last few weeks. I am wondering what L.'s house is like without them there. It just happened that the month before, I gave her a present of a painting that I did years ago but always thought of as hers; a detail is above from The Red Door. It prominently figures a dog, and she says she's finding the dog a little challenging. I wonder how it will work in her home. I see this dog as one sees dogs when one is on psychedelics, their magical nature clear. Strong and energetic, a messenger between worlds. They almost can speak, and they would if they could.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 12:16 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2005
She called me a Christmas Curmudgeon.
I had volunteered that, gee, it might actually be kinda fun to go with her and her similarly Tannenbaum-besotted friend on their expedition to select their Christmas trees, and that, hey, I was kinda regretful that I didn't have time to tag along.
Well, she said, actually, you aren't invited. She explained gently: Having a Christmas curmudgeon along when you're shopping for your tree is considered kind of a downer.
I protested: I'm not a Christmas curmudgeon! If you took the Christianity & Capitalism out of Christmas, I wouldn't mind Christmas so much at all. Really!
She remained unimpressed.
But it's true. I'm really not a Christmas curmudgeon, I'm more like a Christmas Neanderthal. I just don't get Christmas.
Despite growing up in a home where Christmas was actually rather light and pleasant, warm and jolly and distinctly without excessive C&C, Christmas practices remain as alien for me as if they had invaded from Mars. The instant I moved away from home I dropped the whole Yuletide shmear with the resentful avidity of a newly liberated colony.
I just don't get Xmas.
But...this is a femme whose, shall we say, good graces I am pruriently motivated to pursue, and I persisted in my attempt to return to the traditional stable. By the time I was back at her house a couple nights later---promised that I would be allowed to put some ornaments on the tree, with supervision---the Fortunate Fir was gracing the living room, having been chopped and clipped and groomed and manicured, tried in several different corners, straightened and leveled and finally...settled.
It looked royal. The lights were on it, thousands laboriously wound and woven to meet the standards of her meticulous eye.
She graciously accepted my admiration. Then, mentioning that it had drunk up half a gallon of water already, she gave me my first task: Watering The Tree.
A simple chore for the Christmas-challenged. She indicated a watering can with a long narrow spout.
I set to with confidence. But apparently I don't fully comprehend the mysteries of the modern adjustable tree stand, and despite my eager and careful attention somehow several pints of water ended up on the floor.
Puddled under the tree stand.
Ruining the pristine wooden floor she had laid just last summer.
She later suggested that it was my ensuing freak-out that caused her ensuing freak-out. Be that however it may, what finally was clear was that the tree would have to be moved to get the water up from beneath the stand. But how to do that without spilling the water still in the stand, overflowing right up to the lip...?
She went straight to the china cabinet to get me an instrument for baling. I blinked when she presented it to me---it was a miniature teacup, about an inch high. But...she was not kidding! Nothing else would fit in the reservoir.
And so I crawled beneath the tree and commenced my penance, my bucket literally the size of a thimble, and in fact my thumb kept slipping inside it as I baled, where it fit as securely and deservedly as a dunce cap on my head.
I have no talent for Christmas.
Bent under the limbs, I muttered.
"I'm not a Christmas Neanderthal. I'm freakin' Christmas-retarded."
At dinner I remained morose, inconsolable at my ineptitude and my failure to master Christmas. After a lengthy period of silence she admitted that it was, after all, her fault, because she had made the fatal error: She should have skipped the watering can and given me the teacup to water the tree with.
Then she told me that when she had run the day-care center they had used lunchtime to teach the little tykes how to pour. They would give them a little pitcher and have them pour water into their cups. The trick was, she told me, to always make sure the pitchers were smaller than the cups.
Christmas. Bah! Humbled...
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:21 AM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2005
Form, Part I
In his discussion of the difference between Formality and Dandification, in which he goes on at really remarkable length about topics as riveting as the forays of each American President since Roosevelt into the risky territory of dandification, Nicholas Antongiavanni defines formality as "dressiness; or, to say better, conformity to established modes of propriety, especially those concerning occasions held important and dignified. And if ever you are at a loss as to whether this or that is formal or not, you should consider if you would feel comfortable in it attending your mother's funeral."
My own dear mother being still alive I am perhaps not permitted to offer an opinion, but I nevertheless would venture that the funeral of one's father is at least as formal an occasion. When my own father passed away a number of years ago I was still wearing "women's clothes" in various forms, but on that day I reached without hesitation---indeed, with a notable sense of comfort during a painful time---for my "men's clothes": a jacket, tie, and trousers. The "rightness" I felt allowed me both a stability and an emotional freedom to grieve that carried me through one of life's most difficult and ritual-bound passages. From that time forward I never wore women's clothing at a formal occasion again, and eventually stopped wearing them altogether.
In his seminal autobiographical novel, Stone Butch Blues, transgender Leslie Feinberg writes of a young butch in a working-class New York butch-femme community in the early 1960s. Jess is informed by a friend that a much-respected butch elder has died, and the funeral is about to commence. The friend tells Jess that the older butches have instructed them to "dress up"---like girls. Neither of the young butches can imagine this, and Jess ignores the advice and puts on his best suit and tie. Arriving with the ceremony already in progress, they are stunned to find all the older butches in dresses.
"Wearing dresses was an excruciating humiliation for them. Many of their dresses were old, from another era when occasional retreats were still necessary. The dresses were outdated, white, frilly, lace, low-cut, plain. The shoes were old or borrowed: patent leather, loafers, sandals. This clothing degraded their spirit, ridiculed who they were. Yet it was in this painful drag they were forced to say goodbye to the friend they loved so much."
When Jess and her friend walk in in their carefully chosen and respectful but "inappropriate" best rather than in the pathetic but "appropriate" rags of the older butches, the family immediately shuts down the service and throws everyone out.
Weddings, of course, are as much the province of society as funerals. I have a friend who is a middle-aged professional, quite successful in her career although she is aggressively out and wears men's clothes exclusively. When her partner's niece was being married, the partner acquiesced to the demands of her heretofore perfectly "tolerant" mother and insisted that my friend wear a dress to the ceremony. My friend's offer to wear her finest suit fell on deaf ears. And so she stood for hours at her closet door, staring unseeing into that dark space: There were no dresses within.
She and her partner broke up soon after.
I would suggest to Mr. Antongiavanni that there are more considerations to formality than merely the appropriateness of whether to wear brown shoes with a blue suit.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:48 PM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2005
a dandy's challenge
Last night I dreamed I was tying my tie, getting ready to go out. There was a woman named "Misty" waiting for me, petite and handsome and dark-skinned, with a shaved head and wearing a wispy lavendar frock. I finally realized why I was having such a damnable hard time with the tie, which was that instead of a respectable shirt I was wearing some sort of organza blouse with a wide-neckline peter-pan collar with flowers embroidered on it.
You try tying a tie when you're wearing something like that some time. Not advisable... :(
Apparently we were on our way with more people I didn't know---musicians, it seemed, characteristically expansive and self-absorbed at the same time---to "the Bob Hope Club", some piano bar in Palm Springs. lol
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:55 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2006
It's sobering to find myself, after all these years, back punching a time clock. Admittedly, it is a cyber time clock---I needn't pass by the rudely suspicious face of a second-counting manager to punch it, as I did when I was a waitress 30 years ago. But the feeling of being a slave-unit is not unfamiliar. God forbid I should punch in a minute early or a minute late! :(
And through my shift the other night, as I sat chained to the keyboard within my punched and allotted Square Of Time, I found thoughts of Sophia Loren, the luscious and lofty Mediterranean goddess, teasing the corners of my disciplined mind. Ah, Sophia! All squareness dropped away...
And so I have decided to make Sundays Sophia Day.
For Sophia, you see, is a Goddess, yes, a Goddess on the earth, residing with Aretha Franklin at the summit of my personal pantheon. And it was she, the magnificent Sophia, she who launched a thousand ships (did you know "Sophia" was Italian for "Helen"? ha ha, just kidding!), it was she, back in a day when women were still proud to have flesh on their bodies, who said those immortal words:
"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:22 AM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2006
When the sun went down Wednesday night the laundry was still damp on the line. In the winter if I don't get started early enough the day is too short to dry everything---as opposed to the summer, where as soon as you have everything hung up you can start taking it down.
It was still and clear out, so I decided to leave the wash on the line overnight. Sometime late, after I was asleep, the wind came up like a fist, and I awoke. The wind kept pounding. I tried to ignore it. I tried to sleep, but instead I thought of my laundry. I thought of my favorite socks. I thought of all my dandy launderables, blown across untold acres of desert. I thought of the extent of the round-up that would be required to bring 'em all back in, and the possibility that I might spend the rest of my life as the owner of only one of my favorite socks... :(
I got up. I pulled on my down parka, and went outside.
The wash was standing straight out in the gale. In the bright moonlight I took it all down.
I actually love putting the laundry on the line and taking it down. I like the cheery bright-colored plastic pegs, and the old worn wooden ones. I like all the hues and shapes hanging in the air, and in the summer the sensory intensity of moving between damp sheets when the air is 110 degrees. And most of all, I like the excuse to look up at the sky.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:36 1M 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2006
So, since I brought it up, yes, I will admit that I am a sucker for the work of Gustav Klimt. He does have that mix of the romantic and the psychedelic that's just catnip to us kiddies of the 60s, I guess, heh. But whatever, I just cream for the way he divides up the space, that organogeometry that is both fluid and cubular (I just coined that, yep, lol). Very appealing to both sides of my brain at once, it seems. I love stuff that makes my eyes cross and I don't want to uncross them. And I hate stuff that's fussy, and it's a feat when someone can put in that much business on a canvas and still keep it all flowing, organic, breathing. Klimt manages to do that and, on top of it all, come up with something that rests in a kind of extra-gravitational stability. Action and serenity, all at once. I mean, that's Buddha-hood, right?
At night when I was kid I used to lie in bed and watch these infinitely small, colored, transparent cells marching across the ceiling and walls, legions of crawling molecules in the dark. I used to think I was seeing air. I dug it. I don't see them anymore, unfortunately. So I look at Klimt's active molecules of space creeping around the picture plane, instead.
Klimt's protege and fellow Viennese, Egon Schiele, also had so much motion in his work, just as psychedelic as Klimt but let's say on a different drug, heh. Serene, it's not. It's a trip to be in Vienna in these immense Hapsburg palaces and see Klimt and Schiele canvases hanging there in motion, Klimt's deceptively serene but making your eyes cross and Schiele's continually spinning and flying off the walls. (Schiele has a bang-up show right now at Neue Gallerie in Manhatten---I would so see it if I were in New York!)
I don't know if Nina Farana will ever again do these kinds of collages, but they have those same Klimtian qualities of simultaneous motion and serenity with a totally obsessive amount of business going on. These are not computer-generated bullshit, people---this is a woman with a pair of scissors, a pot of glue, and a pile o' magazines. They are so perfectly cut and arranged and affixed that it doesn't seem mortal, really.
Above, The Red Shoes, 1997. Someone get this woman out of the Santa Fe cowboy-art ghetto and over to Vienna.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:01 PM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, JANUARY 07, 2006
feeding my vices
A loooong day yesterday at the framer's, whew... I was fortunate to have the company of the gracious Madame E. Not only does she have that artful and oh-so-qualified eye, but she has the added advantage of being even pickier than I am. Plus, she actually compulsively enjoys returning mat samples to numeric order, lol.
The accommodating proprietor has learned our ways and discreetly disappears into the back, leaving us the run of the place for hour after hour. She reappears at unobtrusive intervals, to take measurements and quietly whisk back to the racks the piles of frame samples we've heaped everywhere, so that we may then pull them all down again for the next fretful labor, *sigh*...
And then the final reckoning, when she tots up the figures, I blanche, she delicately suggests ways to cut corners, I make a feint at considering cheaper glass or lesser mats, and then I, damn it all, go for the---gulp---whole enchilada. Every time.
Above: from 2000, crystal form no. 3, fondly shorthanded as "double red daggers."
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:56 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 04, 2006
the normal female escutcheon
In this New York Times piece Daphne Merkin laments the advent of vulvar vanity surgery. (I hereby christen this practice the "pussyplasty", unless someone has taken that necessary step already. *w*) She notes the growing popularity of Brazilian waxes and similar systems of removing pubic hair and how that exposes to scrutiny what was once free from cruel visual appraisal, and too beautiful is much amused at the intersection of the subject matter with the author's name: For those of you not up on ye Olde English, a merkin is a "pubic wig."
There's another old-fashioned term that has a direct but obscure bearing on our topic. "Escutcheon" comes from the Latin scutum, meaning shield. It's most common use is heraldic, and it can also stand directly for a family's honor. As well, it can mean a metal plate, variously appearing on a ship's stern and bearing the vessel's name; or in a bathroom, protecting the passage of plumbing; or on a door, surrounding a keyhole.
But there is a much less common definition, hidden in the esoterica of the medical profession, to wit: "The pattern of distribution of the pubic hair."
I actually know several physicians that still employ this term in describing the results of a pelvic exam, e.g., "Normal female escutcheon."
I don't know what they say when they get one of those Brazilian-wax babes on the table...
Above: escutcheon, a 2003 piece from my current series of paintings, love full of life.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:20 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2006
a weekend dream
So last night I saw The Devil---no, not "a devil", but THE Devil. He lacked obvious horns or tail, but I had no doubt that this naked, ruddy, rather hairy gentleman with the calm, casual, confident manner was, indeed, He.
He arrived in the form of a huge Boschian bird with immense red wings, circling slowly over my property. At least, I thought it was a bird, but as it came lower I saw it was a bat, the intensity of the carmine color a result of the light filtering through its membranous wings. It drifted down and landed outside the house, where it sort of split in two, one remaining the aerial creature, the other manifesting as---yes, I soon realized, The Devil.
His mission? The usual, of course: To seduce this hapless human to Evil, aha! And the form it took was surprisingly prosaic: He wanted me to suck his, how shall we be polite here, "member."
He was warmly seductive, reassuringly friendly, calculated in manner to dispel any lingering human resistance... Classic, really. This fellow was no buffoon; his power and control were palpable.
And, my friends, you ask: Was I tempted? Did I fall to my knees and lose my soul?
Are you kidding??!
Unfortunately for Our Immortal Foe, he was using the wrong bait. Wrong, wrong, wrong, lol...! If Lucifer has no better demographic data than that, we got nothing to worry about, people!
I politely waited him out, until finally he sighed, let go of his, ahem, pitchfork, and rose from the couch. He took courteous leave, clearly desiring to keep the door open for a renewed attempt in the future. Outside he reincorporated with his red-winged vehicle-self and off they took, back into the sky, I assume to seek out someone less morally resolute or with a more receptive orientation.
And no, this dream had nothing to do with my mother visiting, okay??!
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:35 AM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2006
Serena shares a lot of her painting process in Brooklyn Days, to my fascination and appreciation, and in this post she includes a photo of the initial sketch of what will become a mandala and mentions how difficult it is to get the damn things symmetric and centered.
This image here, Flower of a femme and a butch, was not intended as a mandala in any formal or traditional sense. (Confession: It nevertheless lurked in my brain as one from the start, in terms of its, shall we say, spiritual service.) It began as an image that flashed into my head upon waking (not an unusual occurrence) with several elements quite clear, such as the three black petals and the pink petals (which later divided into pink and red). The trick then became manifesting that vision on paper, which is a very big trick, even with something as simple as a "flower".
Flowers are damned hard to invent out of thin air, because they are utterly intransigent with their demands of symmetry. They always contain a symmetry, be it radial or bilateral or what have you, but they also always contain an element of asymmetry which is just the accidental quality of the organic. "Life happens", even to a flower.
I came to realize this only as I worked along... :(
And as the challenges of the thing became clearer to me I became resolute that I would not measure and I would not count petals. I just continued to sketch, feeling along with the pencil and the arc of my stroke.
In the end I was ecstatic that I had caught exactly what had been in my head, that this was the form of that vision. It wasn't until the piece was finished that I counted the petals: 7, then 10, then 3, then 17, progressing from inside to out. A relationship that, notably, the mathematical Madame E. comprehended in a single glance. But as it turns out, when I look at it, the most important part is clearly---the center.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 7:20 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2006
Big Jer showed up out of the blue the other day. Which is the only way he ever shows up: Out of the blue. So if you want him, that's how you're going to have to take him: Out of the blue.
I'd called him weeks before to help me with a problematic closet door. To which he agreed, heartily, as he always does. He would certainly come and help me. Soon. Which means when the sky is sufficiently blue.
I have a closet door that does not squeak, that does not squeal, that BLOODY SHRIEKS. Every time I open it. Every time I close it. Shrie-e-E-E-E-E-K-.... My own ministrations relieved its distress not one iota. I had begun to associate going in my closet with intense pain---not the sort of response a dandy wants to cultivate. :(
When Big Jer arrived I was, of course, unprepared for him. Out of the blue, remember? With that big-puppy helpful grin he strode past me towards the bedroom.
I hastened to do an end-run around him, to reach the closet before he whipped out his tools and WD40 and whatever other savage weapons he might have in his arsenal, to protect my children I mean my clothes. Jer's giant hands were already sliding the door, back and forth: SHRIEEEK. SHRIEEEEK.
"Wait! Wait, just a second, okay...?" I put my body between him and my hanging garments. I carefully lifted the custom shirts, snowy, meticulously pressed, off the pole and took them in the other room, stowing them out of harm's way.
I rushed back. "If you'll just...excuse me...just...hang on..." I grabbed a silk jacket, wool trousers, my ties, irreplaceable vintage pieces, my life passing before my eyes. SHRIEEEK...
The door was off, leaning against the wall. Whew. He regarded it, screwdriver in his big, bumptious hand, the one missing 2-1/2 fingers.
"Jer," I said. "Jer, I need you to watch out for the clothes in the closet, okay? Are you going to be doing anything inside the closet? What are you going to be doing near my clothes?"
"Oh no, don't worry. Nothing to worry about."
There is no way to alter the course of someone of the size and imperturbability of Big Jer. When the sky is blue, you just get out of the way.
I retreated to the studio, where I pretended to myself I was working as I hovered near the window and peered across the yard. I had a perfect view of him through the slider, working by the closet. Was he near my clothes? Was he about to walk towards the clothes, or away from the clothes..? I monitored, as nervous as if my babies were playing at the edge of a cliff...
I went back in.
"So...how's it going? You about done? Hmmm?"
This had no effect. The sky was still blue. I went back in the studio.
Finally I saw him lift the door up on the runner. I rushed over.
He rolled it open, brow furrowed.
"Not good enough." He got ready to lift it back down.
I walked resolutely back into the studio and closed the shade. St. Brummell, protect us...
When Big Jer finally finished, having had to replace the rollers and adjust everything that possibly could be adjusted, the door sounded like this: (slight rumble)
As the sun went down, his truck disappeared down the road. I inspected the inside of the closet. No WD40 on the wall. No sawdust on my clothes. Everything ship-shape. Whew!
I brought back my ties, my shirts, my silk and wool. I opened the closet door. I closed the closet door. Quiet. Peace.
Two days ago, I swear to god, I opened the other closet door, and...SHRIEEEK...!!
Is the sky blue?
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:37 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2006
My evening-wear, her carnation...
A memorable early-Valentine's intimate supper: Superb table chez femme, a gift from her of sterling Zegna cufflinks, a gift from me of a painting she has coveted, and the rest of the evening---well, none of your business, don't you think...? *w*
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 5:51 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2006
Juana y la jarana
I awoke to the sound of chopping chiles yesterday. My sister arrived from Mexico two days ago and promptly set to cooking. She's been cooking with her landlady in San Andres and learning new tricks. The good food's been flowing ever since. She made the enchilada sauce, from the chiles. En-chil-a-da: to infuse with chiles, basically, she noted in the course of things. I both am a word freak and have been eating enchiladas for many, many years, and had never put that together. Tortillas and chile sauce, really, that's all an enchilada is at heart. And I am satisfied with that.
She sat out under the tamarisk and played her jarana, the little stringed guitar that she plays instead of dancing the fandango, which she did for so many years. They were disappointed back in her old neighborhood, in San Andres---she doesn't dance anymore.
I wanted to give her a gift of a painting from a certain group that she watched me develop several years ago. I've been putting them for sale, lately, and wanted her to choose which she wanted before they were gone. I also showed her several that I'm not selling, for my own reasons, but would give to her, if she wanted one. There is one that I think of as one of my "ugly ducklings", one I can't imagine anyone else would like, just blue and green sort of nooses or knots hanging from a bar, crystalizing out of a color-magical blue and green soup---it mesmerizes me, and I haven't yet figured out why. And that's why I've been hanging on to it. It promises a path I know I will eventually go down. I don't think I've ever shown it to any one but her. And she chose that one.
I'm very glad.
Years ago I choreographed a trio to a classic son jarocho called "La Iguana", from a recording that my sister used to play around the house. I could pick out enough of the Spanish to know it was about a little iguana that is so ugly, when it sees itself in a mirror it falls right down out of the tree.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:16 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2006
"He has...no heart...that man..."
Eric at Eclectic Times alerts me (a week after the fact---I am SO not up on the news, sigh...) of the death of dancer/actress Moira Shearer. Shearer, of course, was famous for her starring role in the 1948 Michael Powell film, The Red Shoes, and though, yes, she could certainly dance and her redredRED hair could hardly have been more perfect for the part, it was Anton Walbrook as Boris Lermontov that stole the show for me. This, my friends, was a dandy. Although not a very nice one. But, Holy Spats, the wardrobe that man had! Pardon me, but I would both die AND kill for that wardrobe. And I'd look just as good as he did in it, damned if I wouldn't!
Fab pic above one of many from the film at powell-pressburger.org, including a number of Walbrook brooding (he never looks more dangerous as Lermontov than on the one or two occasions where he smiles) and just a tiny bit of that fabulous satin dressing gown he wears at breakfast. In this shot, Leonide Massine has just thrown a hissy and quit, expecting Lermontov to beg him to stay, but Lermontov responds with an icy (and characteristic) dismissal: "I think you have made an important decision."
Roger Ebert describes Walbrook playing Lermontov as "arrogant, curt, unbending, able to charm, able to chill." Powell himself wrote of Walbrook, "Anton conceals his humility and his warm heart behind perfect manners that shield him like suit of armor. He responds to clothing like the chameleon that changes shape and color out of sympathy with its surroundings."
Julian Craster (Marius Goring) has some fun "modern artist" duds in the film, and the sets and locations are something, as Ebert says, that you "bathe" in. But the funnest things to watch are two famous real-life dancers chomping the scenery and having a ball giving out-sized performances, like, Damn the camera, we're still going to try to reach the nosebleed seats in the balcony at Covent Garden: Tiny but towering Leonide Massine as choreographer Grischa Ljubov; and Ludmilla Tcherina as full-on prima diva and uber-femme Irina Boronskaja. ("I am---how you say---affianced!") Oooo, that wiggle in the walk! Yow!!
And, of course, the color. My goddess, the color...
If you are a glutton for such things, you can see Shearer's costumes by Jacques Fath dissected stitch by stitch at Fashion Finds.
And if you're into dommes, baby, don't miss the 10-second cameo of Madame Rambert playing Madame Rambert, with stick, giving class in the basement of the opera house in Monte Carlo.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:14 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2006
Spring arrived this weekend on the wings of Cathartes aura, turkey vultures heading north after their winter in Baja. A pair spent Friday night in my tamarisk. They stayed late in the morning, silent and heavy, black backs to the sun, waiting for the air to heat sufficiently to send them high into their circling and able to resume their journey.
And the first reptiles emerged from their winter sleep. On my morning jog I found a small silver snake run over in the road, smashed perfectly flat and stiff in the dirt, unruptured and no more than a couple millimeters thick at the most. I think perhaps you need the conditions you have here, with the great dryness, to allow instant mummification like this. I jogged home with it, a few scales rubbing off in my hand. What will I do with it? I don't know yet.
It was warm enough to leave the windows open when I left Sunday afternoon to hang my paintings at the Inn, but the sudden early heat had not yet brought anyone into the pool outside the dining room. The staff was playful and relaxed in the interlude between lunch and supper, and the artist who had taken her show down sat at the bar and chatted with us as we worked. Lay-out mastermind Madame E. ran interference with the interruptions so I could concentrate, somehow computing measurements while charming everyone and I muttered, cursing nails and hammer. The occasional guest wandered in: "Oh, you're not open now...?"
Bi-i-i-ig sigh when we finished... It's always a trip to see my little babies in public, but...the show looks like dynamite! Madame E. works magic again! My paintings aren't at all like what usually hangs there, and who knows how people will respond to them, but it's the perfect part of the tourist season to have work at the Inn. 'Tis a discriminating and a buying crowd that comes there, yo. Cross your fingers for me, people. I want some mun-eee! :)
Above, one of my rare landscapes: Pinto Mountains from Wonder Valley, 1999.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:15 AM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2006
the way around
Okay...color me frustrated.
Blogger will not upload images today. Or yesterday.
I suppose I must be honest and admit that when I am inspired to do a post, I want to do THAT POST and no other. And if that post needs images with it, it NEEDS THE IMAGES WITH IT. Period. No substitute will do. Grrr!
It is chagrinning to realize how attached I get to an inspiration--once it arrives, I must see it through! Petulance does not half describe my response when I am thwarted. Yes, I will eventually switch gears and create a path around the obstacle---invariably the path of new inspiration---but first I must be convinced that sheer moral thrust and elevated dudgeon are not alone sufficient to compel the universe to simply smash the offending clod to deserved smithereens.
Being so convinced usually takes me a little while. *sigh*
*paces in vexation*
I am supremely annoyed, people---a state that those of you who know me will agree is fully awe-inspiring, but not particularly pretty.
Blogger, get your act together so I can quit afflicting my friends with my sulks.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:14 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2006
City of the Angels
L.A. on Saturday I visited La Petite Geante, and when I arrived she immediately grabbed a shovel, dragged me into the back yard, and, beneath a young budding peach tree, dug up a bottle of wine. She'd been storing it for this occasion. I found it delicious, but she herself was just a little disappointed. A disavowed romantic, La Petite Geante is a person who has been disappointed as often as she has not.
We've been carrying on a conversation for at least a dozen years and it changes its focus with time, and disappointment is a subject that does not come up often any longer. The illusions have mostly been pitched overboard at our age. The discussion these days tends to circumambulate, in colors varying from concern to amusement, among techniques for preserving one's personal body and soul, to whether art can save one, to the older woman's burden of keeping the whole world from tipping so far on its axis that we all fall off. But mainly we consider, with great seriousness, get-rich-quick schemes.
In the insistent tide of the conversation somehow the business of the day never quite was realized, and instead we found ourselves doing neighborhood-y and art stuff, which was fine. And I noticed early on that every third person who came our way seemed to make a point of buttonholing La Petite Geante and attempt earnestly to engage her attention, to which she invariably made extremely pleasant but utterly vague response.
As this parade of mystery supplicants continued, to increasingly comic effect, without introduction, I finally had to make a polite observation as to her obvious popularity...?
La Geante has worked for several decades in casting, and also for the last several years has held a politically responsible position on a community council. She turned to me, in equal parts sanguine and embarrassed, and confided discreetly that when people approach her anymore she may, with the slightly less...vivid? is that the nice word? memory of one's 50s vaguely remember the person's face but has trouble placing it: Is this a neighbor whose potholed street she's working to get repaired, or an actor looking for work...?
Or both, of course. This is L.A., after all.
And like a magnet somehow we ended up at First and Alameda, the edge of Little Tokyo, and I don't know why but it always happens and it always feels like home. I didn't even notice what's at the corner there now, where the Atomic Cafe was for so many years, with its hideously inappropriate neon nuclear missile. In 1972 it seems like we were at the Atomic Cafe every Friday night, eating niku nabe and listening to the only jukebox I knew at that time that played both David Bowie and Frank Sinatra. Apparently it turned into a punk joint in the 80s, but I was long gone by then...
I painted the image above in probably 2000, without realizing it was the Atomic Cafe but there you go... It's called Test Site (Atomic Cafe).
See some of my more recent paintings here.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:40 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2006
I was commanded to write about patent leather shoes for Easter, which I didn't quite manage, but if you will allow me to split the topic, I note the following:
When my older sister was in high school, before I began there, the Dean of Girls forbade the female students to wear patent leather shoes for fear that the boys might use the shiny reflection to see up their skirts.
I kid you not. I don't remember the Dean's name, but I do remember she appeared to draw her eyebrows on with a ruler.
Above, an Easter morning long ago. A rare glimpse into Jackadandy's childhood, and evidence that hye did, indeed, have one.
I am---have you guessed yet?---the happy looking creature capsized in the center, the one having sprouted barely enough hair to retain a bow and envying vigorously my brother's neat little sailor togs. That's my sister with my neck in a lace-gloved hammerlock, stepping up bravely to her role as matriarch-in-training despite her disappointment that her parents had provided her with a little sister instead of a pony.
My brother, as usual, looks perplexed.
Behind us smiles our young aunt, a tomboy who loved horses and dogs and us. We adored her. Unfortunately, she grew up to be a fundamentalist Christian of a particularly virulent variety and is no doubt at this moment campaigning to remove what paltry human rights this nation allows me, if not for my outright demise.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:32 AM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2006
I must blame Pretty Lady for bringing the subject up and then skipping off to the safer waters of the more generic "tease", as in the classic emotional tease, a blithe or narcissistic abuser of the ever-tender heart or precious ego. She leaves it, then, for Dandy to more fully address that "loathsome" but ever-popular variety of the tease known as---children, cover your eyes!---the "pr*ck tease." (Don't you love that fig leaf of an asterisk?)
The pr*ck tease, ladies and gentlemen, is not about the heart, the emotions, or even the ego.
It's about the libido.
Hormones. Chemistry. Gonads. The physical body. "Human sexual response", I believe they say. Forget the tender heart.
I've been there, my friends. I know.
I had my memorable encounter with my own personal Queen of the Come-On in that dumbest of towns, Las Vegas, so I probably deserved it. And unfortunately I must obscure the details---unfortunate because the details are colorful indeed, in this case---to protect the identity of the lady involved, because, after all, kiss-and-telling is against this dandy's Code. Suffice it to say that we had met only once before and had corresponded peripatetically at her whim, a whim which seemed to have only two modes: Full-On Flirtation, and Absent. And let me make perfectly clear: We were not talking Relationship here. That was never on the table.
So allow me to skip ahead to a prominent position at the bar at the Bellagio, by which time the heat was turned up to Full Scorch and she was all but pouring herself in my lap. Her foot was on my stool, my foot was on hers, and maybe three inches of hormonal hypercharge separated her eyes from mine. The feel of one another's breath was like a chemical firestorm. Each play of the conversational poker merely raised the ante higher: It was going to be all win, or all lose.
This wasn't flirting, people. This was foreplay.
We no doubt gave the patrons at the roulette wheels plenty to talk about as we tested the tolerance of uptown Las Vegas for noncommercial Lesbian Display. The bartender discreetly mixed the martinis and kept his gaze elsewhere. By the time we left it was not a matter of if, it was a matter of where. And I will note that my room was her decision.
But somehow, by the time the taxi arrived, we were starting to hear, for the first time, about the hockey-player girlfriend back home, and the Yes girl had reverted to the No girl once again. Being a gentleman I took care to ascertain that she did, indeed, mean No, and then bucked up, swallowed, and steered her to her hotel.
But she was not done with me yet, oh no. I will take responsibility for pulling her into the out-of-order photo booth but I promise it was under her imperial pressure. With the demi-curtain drawn she straddled me on the stool and...darlings, I was kissed. I mean kissed. That girl could kiss. She had a stud in her tongue and I ain't never met anybody who knew how to use one better. *blink*
But...*ahem*...leaving the gory details aside, the point is, there was nowhere to go with it. Because one moment she was putting her tongue down my throat, and the next she was saying, Gotta go! See ya!
So in the end I'm not sure who got the most out of it, because, even though I was left teased to a point of raging frustration and had many a foul thought that night in the cold shower, I did end up with three paintings from the experience. Example above: "kissing amy/the golden stud". That last part being, of course, a memorial to what Jackadandy, on that night, was not.
Above: kissing amy/the golden stud. Copyright Dandy 2004. From the series, "love full of life". Pastel on paper, 5" x 15-1/4".
Above: kissing amy/the golden stud. Copyright Dandy 2004. From the series, "love full of life". Pastel on paper, 5" x 15-1/4".
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 12:39 PM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, MAY 29, 2006
It is becoming increasingly difficult to not outdress the groom, I regret to note.
At the rehearsal dinner, seated across from this well-brought-up young gentleman who is bright, charming, educated, quite handsome, closer to 30 than 20, and happily neither excessively straight nor excessively straight-laced, admired "what that was I had in my pocket." This most fortunate of fellows was sufficiently apt to notice how it caught the eye pleasantly, yet inexplicably was apparently so unschooled as to be unable to name a pocket square, even one of the simplest and most classic white linen variety.
This, my friends, is a tragedy.
The groom's tux and the best man's tails were of a decent sober black but clearly rented, and by a merchant who, we observe, could have taken more care with the fit. And let us be clear: In this family money is no obstacle.
We are doing ourselves a grievous misservice, my friends, and letting our young people down in this inexcusable dereliction of our duties.
However, the bride, under the formidably educated eye of her mother, was not so neglected. I squired the lady on Thursday to the bridal shop where she had for months been overseeing the fabric, the cut, the construction to the smallest stitch. The shop was immense, room after room of gowns of all colors and fabrics, chiffons and silks and satins, an aisle of veils, cases of tiaras, and, in the room fronting on the street, THE dresses: The frothy and shimmering sea of white bridal gowns.
I observed on entering that there was apparently a considerably larger number of virgins in San Diego than one might have expected.
The slim young Filipina assistant murmured with an amused smile from across the room that things are not always what they seem.
Susanti, the dominatrix of this bridal empire, is Indonesian, elderly, so tiny she needs to climb on a stool to fit her customers, and does all the work herself. She had worked closely with my ladyfriend and her daughter, bringing to life the bride's particular vision of the simplest but most perfect silk-satin---no lace, no ruffles, no veil. Susanti presented it with a flourish for our final approval, then stowed it for transport in a special pink bag that was quite as long as yours truly is tall.
Ah, but such is life... All that perfection of skill and time and expense was to be thwarted by a rusty ironing board which left reddish marks all across the train during a final touch-up pressing as the ceremony loomed. Oh dear! From where I sat helping with place cards I could hear the hushed hysteria and witness the forced-calm padding through the house in a desperate search for solutions, and finally three ladies tiptoed across the hall carefully bearing the gown into the bride's room, followed by my ladyfriend with the savior bottle of White-Out.
The bar opened, and the bucks gathered around. A tier of slender young ladies swished and giggled in bright strapless gowns, click-clicking in impossible heels. The children bunny-hopped across the perfect lawn, while the aging Dominant Family, calcified in their dysfunction, counted one another's cocktails with dagger eyes.
The bride was, as she always is, delightful, playful, and unpretentious. After the ceremony, in the long interval between the food and the cake, she came across some guests sharing a toke in the front of the estate, overlooking one of the most exclusive and guarded enclaves in greater San Diego, the home of the groom's family. She gave the groom the head's up and he promptly appeared to share a bowl, ringing up the best man on his cell at his station by the bar to come join the party.
And where was your dandy in all this? Ah... Crossing through worlds at will, and belonging to none, as always. *smile* Feeling sufficiently charitable to momentarily reject thoughts of how the truly impressive estate hosting the occasion was built with money that was made destroying the wildlands where I live.
Oh, and what was I wearing, you almost forgot to ask? *grin* A longer-cut black jacket specially requested by my ladyfriend, and a pair of trousers I had Pepe make me to match, flat-front and slim, with suspenders. Black boots. Black and silver cufflinks, a custom pleated wing-collared white shirt, a silver-and-black silk pocket square, and a peach-colored cravat knotted just so and tucked between the top and first buttons of the shirt.
The mother of the bride approved. ;-)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:03 PM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JUNE 06, 2006
Life is full of unexpected detours. On the way to San Francisco on Thursday my detour was to L.A., for a funeral. The deceased was a kindly man I'd known for 30 years, the father of a very dear friend.
Funerals are different from weddings in that they are never scheduled for anyone's convenience. No "Save the date!" cards. No booking in advance. They come when they come. So I was already late from the get-go.
I pulled into the lot at Mt. Sinai at the stroke of noon, and as I stepped out of the jeep, in my haste and in the heat I made a summary decision to leave my jacket and tie where they hung.
Everyone was seated when I entered the mortuary. I stood uncertain at the sea of dark suits, gray heads, and black yarmulkes. Where were my friends?? Oh dear, was that them, those gray heads there...??! Good grief, getting older... More and more we look like we belong at funerals, sigh.
The gathered were soberly dressed, and I felt conspicuous in my bright white shirt but decided I would lean on female privilege this once and not feel guilty being without a jacket. The widow later declared me "handsome", so I guess it was okay.
At the graveside, as the casket was lowered into the ground the family held tight to one another, and then we each took a shovel and threw in the dirt that would constitute what the Rabbi called the deceased's "blanket of rest".
At my own father's funeral in a Veterans cemetary we did not have the closure of witnessing the actual burial. Instead, to our open-mouthed surprise at graveside the officials briskly loaded him back into the hearse and removed him to an undisclosed location for storage until the plot was ready. Unfortunately for me, due to a wrong turn I discovered what plot readiness means: In a far corner of the massive graveyard there was a bulldozer noisily moving earth for space to stack the caskets in the ground, shoulder-to-shoulder and three-deep. This was my father's reward for service: a rushed prayer, piped-in Taps, plastic-bottled holy water, and an industrially-arranged Eternal Rest. I'm still pissed about it.
I headed north immediately after the ceremony on Interstate 5, the Golden State Highway, twisting over the Grapevine and then dropping down into the sullen air of the great Central Valley. The flatness could not have been more emphatic.
I flew up the highway, still in my best white shirt and silk trousers. In a mowed field hay bales mysteriously smoldered, and the stink of the smoke competed with the heated aroma from a truck bearing tons of fresh white onions. Bits of papery onion skin drifted past me. Neat rows of young peach saplings stretched into eternity.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:35 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2006
Agreeing to an interview is always a crap shoot, isn't it? Human communication is such an eternally hopeful but doomed enterprise, it seems. Interpretations are applied that may not match one's intent. Quotation marks suddenly appear around 'hys'. Careful explications of tricky topics are sacrificed to Management's Other Concerns. Sigh...
But forget all that. The devil take the meaning, the politics, and the greater good of the human community. It's vanity that matters to a dandy, my friends, of course! Vanity and style! It's the original bounce and sparkle turning leaden in the final edit that cause one to wince. The gutting of a strategically rendered tale. One weeps over nuance, a dandy's stock in trade, as it falls first victim to translation. It seems one's best bits always end up on the cutting room floor, or at least such is one's comforting illusion...
One regretted exchange that made the cut but apparently not the final paste was the original more extended riff on Female Dandy as a particular visual aesthetic and on the origins of my painting above, chickmagnetite: a dandy's new timepiece, so I'll take advantage of the editorial license of the blogosphere and paste it here; I'm sure Michael won't mind. ;-)
Question: When you hear the word 'dandy' what springs to mind?
Response: Images. Visual and kinesthetic images. Probably all destined to be painted one day. Actually, in my current series of paintings is a work called chickmagnetite: a dandy's new timepiece. It was inspired by an exquisite antique men's wristwatch that I saw in a shop. When I tried it on, my girlfriend said, "Oh, total chick-magnet!", and she was so right! But---no matter how I tried to work it, I couldn't afford this baby, so instead it found its way into this painting. It's sort of a dancing, Disneyesque, animated watch face, pink and gold on a rich red field. "Twenty-four-carat solid chickmagnetite", heh. That's how these things translate for me. I will note, if I may, that I believe this painting is special partly because it manifests a Female Dandy sensibility. I see it quite clearly in the piece, that particular aesthetic.
Above: chickmagnetite: a dandy's new timepiece. Jackadandy 2004. Pastel on paper. 17-5/8"h x 10-3/4"w. From the series love full of life.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:29 PM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2006
Sophia Sundays: The perfect ingredients
Pretty Lady posts unimpeachable advice on how to throw a dinner party, advice that grants reluctant entertainers like your friend Jackadandy no quarter, I'm afraid. My own resistance and grumbling can be traced largely to the fact that I simply---let me be direct---simply detest cooking. *sigh* This sentiment Pretty Lady rightly does not recognize as an acceptable excuse. But, darlings, how can one---and indeed, why need one---compete when a member of a social circle positively brimming with gay boys with culinary and entertainment flair to burn?
Last night's luau at J&M's was no exception. In a grumpy, preoccupied mood I expected to leave early, but instead enjoyed myself thoroughly and stayed late. I was joined by a very large crowd of an impressive cross-section of this weird desert land I call home, who were given every opportunity and encouragement to mix---or not. No luau trope was left untroped, as J realized the pool party of his dreams. And your friend Jack the Dandy actually ended up in the kitchen helping the caterer, who had underestimated her duties and, to my surprise, responded "Yes!" when I offered to assist, lol. The waiting crowd was hungry but smiling, and indeed I saw not a frown and heard not a single sour word through the whole occasion.
But the night before...ah, that was even better, as following a simple, perfect meal at the Inn, in the last light of a long June day my companion led me out to the deserted garden, a magical realm of neat rows of edibles and herbs, immense artichokes, festoons of fennel, and sweeping peach trees, fed by volcanic soil and a natural desert oasis. We walked beneath the grape arbor, greenness flowing over our heads and half hiding us, until she found her destination, the blackberry vines in their wired enclosure. And if she stole a large handful to decorate my morrow's breakfast, escaping with them wrapped in an obliging grape leaf, I hope you won't tell anyone.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:20 PM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2006
getting off the dime
There is a phrase that is not very common in straight circles, and that is the phrase "running the f*ck". (I do beg your pardon...) This refers generally to the person who is "in charge" of a sexual exchange, a person also commonly called the "top". Tops and bottoms are terms that are common in the BDSM world and also in the larger queer world, where there is no standard assumption that---and this is key---a male is present, and the male will be (on) the top, running the f*ck.
I find it altogether more delightful and gratifying but most importantly altogether more useful to regard one's exchanges with others in terms of topping and bottoming than being limited to stunting notions of "male" and "female".
In a charming post, Boyscout, femmenation tells of the first encounter of a young man with the idea of "tops" and "bottoms" in a sexual sense. Femmenation describes the idea to him in terms of "givers" and "receivers" in a classic, shall we say, positional sense (ahem). His utterly disarming interpretation of the concept is rather like that of a courteous boyscout helping someone across the street: "'...once they are across, up on the curb, and safe, then it is your turn to cross the street, too. I think that’s a good way to do things!!'”
The conversation between femmenation and the young man was simplistic; topping and bottoming can be much, much more complex than notions of "giving" and "receiving". Belledame at Sense and Sensuality, in a post called Tipping the Velvet, Topping the Fop, focuses on acts of transformation and questions of "forced masculinity" and quotes at length from that deliciously dynamic scene at the heart of Sarah Waters' novel of lesbian Victorian London, Tipping the Velvet, where the wealthy femme Diana tops "male impersonator" and "boy" prostitute Nan King. The scene could not be more dense with a dizzying net of criss-crossing power dynamics of class, gender, and sex.
Where is the "man" in this scene? Where is the "woman"? Is this scene of masculine-feminine dynamic and topping "not possible" because it does not involve a man? That's a silly question, isn't it? This scene is only possible because the equation of "masculine = male = top" has been dispensed with.
Conflating "male", "top", and "masculine" is the essential trick that keeps the program running in our society. What, after all, is the gay marriage amendment about? It seeks to constitutionalize separate categories of "man(/masculine)" and "woman(/feminine)", because it is too dangerous to the system of control in this country to allow us to think of ourselves in any other terms.
Belledame in her other guise at fetchmemyaxe arrives just in time with a transcript of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's stupefying effort to portray the marriage amendment as being a quest for civil rights. His bumbling performance is capped by a hilariously clueless attempt to decide if the president is being "passive" or "active" in the campaign. Well, bless my pink hanky...
In a portion of The Sophistocrat interview that unfortunately did not make the final edit I looked at this issue of "masculinity" separate from "male" in terms of the Dandy, and invited the reader to think further (forgive me for quoting myself yet again, lol):
"Within the confines of our culture, which dictate an 'either-or' option in the gender department, the dandy often insists on a twilight position, refusing to be fixed on either side of that limited horizon. That is part, although not all, of the dandy’s power. That said, my gut tells me that an element of 'masculinity' is necessary for the existence of 'dandy', but what is that 'masculinity'? Such a blunt instrument, this quantity. Can we be more specific? Perhaps it's not 'masculinity', after all, that we’re talking about, but rather some more particular quality that our culture has swept into the 'masculinity' bin and which therefore has lost its distinction and our ability to 'see' it."
Unfortunately, discussion of the interview on the Dandyism.net Forum was shunted into an old "Women as Dandies" thread, where the conversation has been less bumbling than Tony Snow but no less clueless. With a nervous attempt to be flippant there was an immediate effort to reassert the categories and restrict the response to the subjects presented in the interview as, once again, the tedious old feud of "men" versus "women". This was followed by a dismissal of the subject as boring "politics". Which it is, after all, isn't it; it is a question of power.
Really, now, gentlemen. We can do better than that, don't you think?
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 4:11 PM 3 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2006
a revenir chez moi
In Portland she plucked a pansy from the garden and placed it in my lapel, and over morning tea at the affable and dyke-strewn Haven coffee house on Division Street we discreetly admired the patrons. Hmm... Agreeably less crunchy than reputed, I observed. ;-)
I told her my dream, I hope at not excess length but, really, it had a hold of me and had to come out, the infected derelict hovel in which I found myself somewhere on Mission Street in San Francisco, where the Inner Mission fades into the Outer. Black nightness, crumbling masonry and shattered lumber, a broken mattress on the floor and a half-empty box of some remedy for pestilence (scabies/lice/fleas?). A tall and austerely glamorous woman in a tight black dress and long dark hair stepped out of the room onto the street and with a dismissive pivot on stiletto heels reached back in through the gaping hole smashed into the door to lock the padlock on the inside. Without a word or a glance at me she set off into the night.
I looked around miserably at the filth and trash, the used needles in the dust, the room lit only by the streetlight filtering in through the pocked walls. Why I was condemned to this room I didn't know. My attempts to find any sort of promise or potential in my situation were defeated.
And then, suddenly, I remembered: I have a home. And it's a beautiful home, clean and kindly. And I stepped out into the sunshine, and went home.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:58 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2006
The rain came yesterday.
In twelve months it has rained only twice: a few hours of a pinched drizzle last October, and yesterday afternoon.
The laundry was, of course, on the line, and as I took it down my socks and shoes filled with water but I didn't mind. Like all the parched neighborhood here, the lizards, the stones, the yuccas and the burro weed, I drank it in, let the dust wash away, felt the air soak it up and slowly dry out.
It is good that I was gone for a couple weeks, away from the electronic din and self-imposed madness. I feel my pendulum swinging, away from my noisy self and back towards my quiet self. There's work to be done.
Last night falling asleep an image came to me, of a small white box filled with a dense vacuum so unbearably empty that in a sudden mute cataclysm the box collapsed in on itself and disappeared, leaving nothing but silence and a tiny puff of dust.
Change is coming.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 5:08 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SUNDAY, JULY 02, 2006
Sophia Sundays - SWAK!
Perhaps you have noticed Sophia's absence on our usually cozy Sundays chez Dandy lately. Please, don't be alarmed, she is only spending a few weeks visiting with family in Napoli. She assures me she is having a wonderful time, riding her Vespa and eating spaghetti.
But she was concerned when I told her how you worried about her, and so she asked the irrepressible Gina Lollobrigida to stop by and tell you how much she misses you and to give you a great big kiss.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 3:18 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2006
"Disco Inferno update..."
The wind has reversed and sent the flames heading southwest, where they are threatening to join up with the Millard Fire out of Banning and move up into the National Forest. Forty thousand acres burned, with 20% containment. Best updates you'll find are here.
Unfortunately, the bad state of affairs did not spare me from having to attend a meeting this morning, worse the luck. I drove west to meet a man who is running for a local town council seat; I'm advising him on his campaign. This is the first time I've come close to the fire. The candidate and another woman who met with us both live in the voluntary evacuation zones. Their cars are packed with their important belongings, and throughout our discussion their cell phones were at their hands in case the order to evacuate came. The flames were within half a mile of the candidate's home Tuesday night.
Town was quiet, intensely hot, shadowed under brown smoke. The front lot at County Fire Station No. 121 was filled with begrimed fire engines. I received a brief plaintive email from a friend in the danger zone, miserably witnessing the desert disappear; "Disco Inferno update" was the subject line.
It's over 110 degrees again today. In the studio, my specs slide off my nose and the sweat drips off my hands onto my painting. The sun descends behind the smoke and turns ruby red.
So, enough. I'm outta here. I got a hot date on a cool mountaintop, and I think I'm gonna keep it. See you on Sunday.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 6:09 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2006
Jeez, this is shaping up to be one serious summer. The thunder had already started by 8:00 this morning, which is unusual; ordinarily the clouds build over the day and start with the noise in the afternoon. The power twitches and sags, the cooler groans.
I usually love the summer here, which is maybe strange because it's so hot you can't get out of the house for all the long daylight hours. But I dig that; it makes me stay inside and work work work. It's summer when I mostly get stuff done. The local folks tend to shut up shop and not do anything serious for three months, so nobody's bugging me to be heroic and community-minded. And the tourists and posers all clear out of town. (Except the German tourists, of course, who sight-see determinedly in their rented RVs through the baking and deserted National Park.)
But this summer the demands haven't stopped, whether they come from me or from elsewhere. This business, that business---it all must be attended to, and attended to NOW. And the world seems in a perpetual state of political teetering, while the mercury soars to disconcerting levels. It's difficult for a dandy-boi to maintain his de-bon-air and nonchalance; hye finds hymself unable to even think about hys wardrobe, much less discuss it. :(
This is a sad state of affairs.
Yesterday at sunset I went out walking for a moment's relief after a day of relentless lashing at this dashed keyboard and before starting my regular night shift. The ground was muddy from a brief storm in which an assaultive gale had driven sand, mist, and intense heat into a peculiar, unearthly force that dismembered my neighbor's storage shed. The elements had settled back out and left the sky partly blue, partly warped by wild clouds that merged in the far west with the ruddy smoke from the still-burning mountains.
I didn't see it until almost too late, but curled up motionless at the entrance to a burrow was a young sidewinder, almost invisible, nestled in the mud like a small dirty puddle of decomposed granite. It was waking up to its night.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:45 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2006
hi. waving at you... :)
So, how was it for you? What happened that day when you sat down to write the first post on your new blog?
Above, you see my inaugural post, which was nothing more than an image of myself and the title, "hi. waving at you... :)". I'm reposting it to mark the anniversary of my starting this blog, exactly approximately one year ago.
That initial post turned out to be far thornier challenge than I had anticipated. I quickly banged up against the question, Who are the partners in this conversation? Who the hell am I speaking to? And which "me" am I going to be?
The blog is a peculiar form of writing. On the one hand, probably nobody is going to see it and you're tempted to treat it like a private journal. On the other hand, in fact the blog can be read by ANYBODY, should they find their way to it; it is published on the World Wide Web, for pete's sake. It could hardly be more indiscriminately public.
And, of course, you are free to create an entirely or partially illusory Self, if you are inclined. Pick a personality - one of your own, or, heck, make one up!
I made many false starts on that first post. Delete, delete, and delete some more. My words seemed to veer unattractively between the pompous and the apologetic. The right voice eluded me. I became exceedingly crabby.
Finally, I was sufficiently provoked by the existential challenge that I became interested in how others might have handled it.
I started flipping arbitrarily through blogs, diving into archives to pull up inaugural posts. Oh! Touching and painful! Hearts laid bare! Confessional doesn't half describe it. And brave! Hopes and fears for this personal New Enterprise were chronicled with great care, as neophytes sought to explain (to themselves? to that mysterious Someone who might be listening?) why they, humble, unproved soul, should be allowed across the threshold and given a place in the starry firmament that is the Great Blogosphere. Um, gee...can I come in...?
And most striking: The number of inaugural posts that were also final posts. Always lengthy; full of optimism, plans, trembling questions, and self-doubt; and standing, in the end, alone. A solitary post in an abandoned blog. The sum forgotten record of one heart's momentary yearning, memorialized in the Mystosphere in our own version of the ancient Roman portrait on a crumbling villa wall. Our era's cyber-archeology is already here.
Everybody's a writer after all, I guess. At least for the length of one post.
So, what happened with my own virgin effort, in the end? I suddenly noticed that the simple picture and title of the above post, which was just run up as a test while I was trying to figure out how to load images on this Blogger thing, said exactly what I wanted to say: Hello, I'm smiling at you.
And that's still what I'm saying.
So, I'd love to hear it, O fellow bloggers out there. Please tell me, here or on your own blog: What was that inaugural post like for you?
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:13 AM 20 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 09, 2006
Alright, people, I'm dead exhausted and frazzled, my whole life is in a condition of lick and a promise (excuse me *ahem*), BUT---am I gonna be stylin' this weekend! Woo-hoo! Look out, ladies, Jack the Dandy has pulled it together!
What could possibly summon a dandy's inspiration more than a hotel filled with women of the femme persuasion? Nothing, you guess? Ah, you are so right. :) I was whistling at my own image in the mirror, croonin' to my shirts as I folded them so square...
I'm packed, mesdames, so watch out. Prepare to drop those gloves. ;)
I will not disclose the number of jackets, trousers, shoes I'm taking, nor how many dozens of socks or how tall the pile of pocket squares. I will, however, assure you that I am not past the airline luggage limit.
In honor of the women of Femme 2006, I post the image above: tumbling hearts/Las Vegas. Jackadandy 2006. Pastel on paper. 8-3/4" x 9-3/8". From love full of life.
Au revoir! A la voiture, Simone!
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:15 PM 3 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2006
All Jack's show, all the time
One marathon has been merging into the next to turn my life into One MegaMarathon, heading towards my show opening in less than a month. Pant, pant...
The latest leg of the marathon: I've been spending days on something I really, really hate, which is recording my paintings with photographs or scans, a tremendously technical, labor-intensive, nitpicky endeavor that never yields satisfactory results and that I detest. I hate, hate, hate it. Did I mention that I hate it? All this work, and the reproductions are never but pale, pathetic ghosts of the real thing, utterly without soul or substance.
So you better come to the show and see the real thing, people, because I'm probably never going to release most of the reproductions.
All of this done in preparation for taking the paintings to the framer's, which is also a marathon but quite a different activity! Saturday the intimidatingly talented Madame E. and I spent the whole day---the whole day---there, only taking a break so as to allow the poor proprietors to get some lunch.
We got through most of the batch but, disappointingly, and for the first time, had to give up on one small piece after hours of trudging up countless blind alleys and dragging out almost every frame sample in desperation. We were reduced to casting about blindly for a dark horse, a wild card that would shock the package out of the impossible into the sublime. It didn't happen. The closest we came was a gilded wooden frame that, never mind its merits, would have cost $140 on a small, maybe 4 x 9-inch painting. That's $140 just for the frame, people. Not the glass, not the mat, not the labor---just a few inches of wood and gilt.
The sad truth is, I still would have said yes, if I had felt the frame was exactly right.
Madame E., who is also known as my ace in the hole, is not often so without solutions. When I brought out the above painting (in a horrible reproduction. Don't look at it! It's making me cringe!) she immediately walked over and fetched some new-to-the-shop acid-toned brushed metal frames in candy colors, and laid them down on the table. I blanched, then laughed. They were incomparably frightful. "Goddamn, who would ever use something like this!" I scoffed. As she walked away I heard her murmur to no one in particular, "Just look in the mirror..."
So, um, yeah... I wasted my time trying numerous frames but of course ended up with a brushed metal frame the color of cotton candy, the very first one she had brought over. It looks like dynamite. Soooo right for the work... *blush*
It was time to leave when, on the final piece, past closing time, Madame E. suggested using black fake fur on the frame and I thought it was a great idea. We concluded maybe we should think about it a little more, and stumbled bleary-eyed out the door.
Above: fever chart/roller coaster, 2004. One of a pair of "fever charts." Pastel on paper, 11-1/2"h x 17-1/4"w. From love full of life.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:02 AM 3 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2006
armageddon, a new blue suit
I was awakened this morning by a dream of a nuclear explosion. Yes, they finally did it, they dropped the goddamn bomb, somewhere over Los Angeles, apparently. We heard the roar, then saw the brilliance, the towering, unmistakable shape, but were too far away to feel it. Yet.*
There was nothing to say. The radio betrayed no intelligence of any change. My three companions then went off to the store for provisions, but I stayed behind as we found we could, for some reason, not secure the house.
Soon a handsome young couple, affable and casually dressed, approached on foot, clearly seeking to come in. The smiling blond man held a silver-colored handgun down at his side. I stepped aside.
They began making themselves at home in the single bedroom of the small house. I noticed that their skin was cherry red.
When my friends returned they were confused by the sudden crowd, and the two biomales set to sorting out their alpha-beta status. One of my companions took me into the corner. She was visibly distressed by what she had learned in town and did not want to say it. "Oh god," she whispered, "I told myself I wouldn't moan..."
And at this admission of catastrophe I woke up.
Yesterday I had my regular Monday morning consultation with the town council candidate. We were talking about how a burden of getting older is that you've put in enough time on the planet to see how things change and therefore to understand what is being lost. By increments it disappears, until something is all gone, and yet as a species we don't notice it. The young can't know what was there before; the way it is now, is how it's always been for them. He worries that his grandchildren will never know the wild world.
But a dandy can't remain too preoccupied by these things. Compare this with my dream the night before, which was of a new blue suit and, oh baby, was I lookin' sharp! A tight-woven, light-weight gabardine with the barest sheen and perfect drape, cut roomy like I like it, of a sort of mid-value Prussian blue. Very striking! Oh yes, I must have this! I need a suit like this.
Unfortunately, at the moment, all my bucks are going into framing my paintings...*sigh*... When it comes down to it, it's more important to this dandy to dress hys artwork than hymself.
In the dream I was wearing the suit on the morning of some day-long event and I found that I'd left the house wearing my bedroom slippers instead of my shoes. And they weren't even the right color of bedroom slipper. So I was trying to get back home to straighten this situation out but hadn't taken note of where I'd parked my car, and finally hired a taxi to help me find my own damn wheels. As we roamed over a parking lot that had the vastness and indecipherability of metropolitan Tijuana, the dream dribbled off into oblivion...
*A friend witnessed the Bikini Island atomic tests as a sailor on deck. They were given pillows to hold across their eyes with their arms, to protect their vision. Despite these precautions he still saw the explosion, as well as the bones of his arm.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:50 AM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2006
So, it's done.
Today was the last day I could work on any of the paintings for love full of life. Tomorrow's the last session at the framer's, and they must all be in hand and ready to go.
The last couple of weeks I've felt like crying, Help! Someone stop me before I sketch again! lol The new ideas for this series just keep coming, but I really had to put an end to this. So this week I was just trying to finish up three that were already in the works.
One that I've had in mind for two years, called Madame Fluff (ride on, baby...), I simply had to give up on. I could never get the sketch to come to resolution. (Never could get the girl to, either, heh...)
The other two did get completed, however. I don't know if I've ever worked that fast. But I felt compelled to include these, even though I'm sure I now have too many for the space, sigh...
One of them, dangerous pearl, was clear in concept but cloudy in sketch. Really had a wrestling match with it. Had to sort of beg it to manifest. Stylistically it will be a bit of an orphan, I think, but I still feel it belongs.
The last one, completed today, is called, simply, lovers, and it feels very much like closure on the series.
And frankly, my mind has been taken over lately by what I'll be working on next. Very excited about that! :)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2006
a capsule wrap-up
hat CRASHING! and BANGING! and whoosh...! you hear are the sounds of Jack decompressing from the ridiculously huge labor of launching the show. In my catatonia on Sunday I had to drive to San Diego to take care of some business but then was spirited off to the hot springs for a night of massage, soaking, and, um, other therapeutic modalities by a certain solicitous lady friend... ;-)
And now I am addressing the screaming shambles that is my house and studio, almost a pleasurable pursuit after such odious neglect and exploitation of the premises. I do not enjoy living in chaos. I should have things to rights just in time for the arrival of my mother this weekend...
What? You didn't think dandies had mothers? Aha! Au contraire! The poor woman... *sigh* Her visit is certain to help my life "move on", as it were...*ahem*
So, here is the capsule wrap-up of the opening last Saturday: Perfect weather, excellent guests, a fine table (supported by my peerless posse and prepared by la Maitresse herself, so no surprise!), exciting conversation, strong response to the work, a satisfying number of visiting dignitaries, a leavening measure of silly hijinks, and smiles everywhere. A stellar launch.
There was a rather notable sprinkling of jolly Europeans present who seemed as delighted by the generous number of "pussies" on the walls as by the fresh red currants glowing on the saffron rice salad. The conversation around the dish waxed equally poetic and nostalgic in extended accented reminescence about currants past, a fruit unreasonably neglected by Americans.
One lively blue flame that flickered ubiquitously through the event was the bright-spirited writer Olivia de Haulleville, pictured above by Harold Chapman in a terrific series of photos of habitues of the Beat Hotel in Paris in the 1950s-60s. (Caption: "At Diane Barker's party, Belgian born Olivia de Haulleville, a poetess whose pseudonym was 'Om'".) Olivia's uncle was Aldous Huxley, and he wrote for her his only children's book, The Crows of Pearblossom.
More pictures to follow, a little more contemporary!
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:09 AM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2006
a dandy on Saturday night
Please forgive the awkward cropping; my fair companion is rather more reserved about exposure on the World Wide Web than your shameless friend Jack.
I am completely happy in white tie and tails, I admit it. Now, before you nigglers in the audience get started, I will myself point out that I am not exhibiting regulation wear, here. I have fully taken liberties. Yes, I have the traditional pique vest, but I am wearing with it (horrors!) a pleated formal shirt, rather than matching pique. And as well, my tie is satin and is frankly a little large, a little flowery, a little...well, queer, of course! *w* (Polyester? Pre-tied? I think not...!) The white linen pocket square is not visible here. Bringing together the range of white textures and shades: a fragrant gardenia in the lapel.
I will not obsess that somehow in the photo, regrettably, no white shirt cuff is visible. I should be embarassed to take your time with petty protestions that, in fact, great care was taken to ensure the jacket sleeves were exactly the correct length to allow that traditional flash of white. (*sigh* The best-laid plans...)
And how were we shod, Jack? In a pair of Giorgio Brutini dress formals, inexpensive but, oh, so delightful to my faggy self! Those subtle pleated swoops, the heel just a little too high for a "straight" man, still too butch for a "woman", and with a sole made for dancing - utterly queer, utterly Jackadandy.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:36 PM 13 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2006
...and speaking of footwear...
Corinne is secretly an economist and frequently gives me reason to think, but I confess to being at least as inspired by her musings on lipstick and shoes. Such a frivolous dandy, lol! Her recent purchase of a pair of hearty cowboy boots meets with my approval. I have owned more than one pair over the years of a very similar construction, the undershot heel and snipped toe being precisely to my tastes.
Shoes and boots are not only a particularly favorite part of my wardrobe, they also are a perennial subject for my easel. The curves and planes of footwear are evocative of the human body, and the used shoe or boot carries all the personality of its owner. Someday I will indulge my long-lingering impulse to paint a series of anonymous thriftshop shoes.
It is a fact that, when I am in transition in the studio, or stuck and all else has failed, it is a pair of shoes or boots that I pull out and begin to draw. They never fail to warm me up and get the muse moving. In fact, the night I created the first sketches for my currently exhibited series love full of life, the session had begun with pages and pages of gestures of a pair of what we used to call vato boots that I've had forever and are no longer good for anything but posing. At what point during the session the subject shifted to queer love, I can't tell you, but there it is...
Above, a favorite version of boots I've drawn many times and which have finally graduated to a permanent installation in a niche in my living room. They are no longer wearable, but their inspiration, apparently, lasts forever.
P.S. I'll be showing a couple different versions of the boots at Open Studio at my place next week, as it happens. :)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:44 AM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2006
Jackadandy in the Museum!
...the Crochet Museum, that is, heh. At the Art Queen Saturday night. Polaroids by the talented portraitist Patterson Beckwith. This is rather later in the evening, when the sweater and scarf have become necessary and the hair is Beyond Hope. Patterson had a little line of delighted customers all night.
Chris Veit performed his Wonder Valley Love Story. On a low stage he and a comrade wore boxes over their heads that covered them to their hips, with openings from which their arms flopped and flapped earnestly. The cartons were painted deep colors, one red and one blue. To a seamless, even-tempered soundtrack that included large doses of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the two spun and danced side by side in separate circles, occasionally attempting an awkward embrace. Very simple, but cumulatively sweet and sad, tragic and funny, extending far beyond any particular Wonder Valley love story.
Update: View a snatch of Chris Veit and Cristy Carter's performance on YouTube.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:21 AM 7 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2006
the decline and the fall
Ever-imaginative party girl Kitty Diggins gives us the Old West of The Dude at her Dandy L.A. club tonight at Safari Sam's.
In the La Vida column of LA Weekly last week Madame Diggins gracefully watched her tail as she maneuvered the small jealous planet of Dandismo:
“'There is a large network of people who take dandyism very seriously, and who consider themselves to be dandies every day of their life,' she explains. 'They were partly excited, and partly skeptical of a woman running a club that was devoted to the dandy. But I don’t call myself a dandy — I call myself the enabler of the dandy.'”
Perhaps not so coincidentally, our friends at Dandyism.net also find themselves in the very same issue of La Vida in a Gentlemen's Disagreement, where, to no particular surprise, Who Is and Who Is Not a dandy is imperially decreed, accompanied by a guide as to where to purchase one's Handy Dandy accessories - in case one is so, well...without resources as to be unable to come up with such inspiration on one's own.
Of particular interest, perhaps, to our readers is that, no, women (still) can’t be dandies. Monsieur Chensvold maintains the question is "absurd": "Just because women can be astronauts doesn’t mean they can now be male archetypes.”
Oh, pitiful me! I persist in my delusion... *sigh*
D.n have recently revamped their Website (finally, permalinks!) and have gotten better at what they do best, which is provide interesting research in support of Dandy Orthodoxy. Perhaps someday they will also develop some imagination.
Despite having failed to ignite any light bulbs when I previously cast clues before those sorrowfully born into this world without, I have unending faith in the potential for human beings (even dandies) to learn something new. And so, I will once again step charitably into the breach and offer a cautionary example of the expensive consequences of the conflation of "male" with "top" with "superior", not to mention "feminine" with "bottom" with "inferior", in the form of this priceless quote from Michael Jones, self-respecting hustler and the "accuser" of fallen (read "top" to "bottom") evangelical leader and professional homo-baiter brought to his not just metaphorical knees, Ted Haggard, interviewed by the dependable Michelangelo Signorile as recorded on AMERICAblog:
MS: Was he a top or bottom? What was he interested in?
MJ: When I was on the radio show in Denver, the question was asked: Did you practice safe sex? I said, 'We used a condom once." The talk show host goes, "You mean he wore the condom once?" I said, "Uh, no, I did."
Aren't feminizing archetypes a bitch?
Steamy "male" archetype above: From the DandyLA Out West page, but, um...did Rudolph Valentino do a Western...??
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:21 PM 3 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2006
the wrong haircut
It's not a bad haircut. It's just the wrong haircut.
Perhaps you can tell me what's not clear in this conversation:
"I just need a trim. The cut is fine, I like the cut. I just need it trimmed back."
"Okay, you want to keep the cut."
"Yes, I want to keep the cut."
Pretty straightforward, yes? Not too confusing? Direction clearly indicated?
Then why, may I ask, are we well into the cut, chattering away, when, squinting without my spectacles, I suddenly notice that my bangs are cut in a steep, steep diagonal, left to right?
I don't recognize this. We never pass through this phase when it's Jeffrey that's cutting my hair.
My shoulders tense. I rise a little in my chair, my eyes big.
"Uh, you are...you're cutting it like..."
The sudden apprehension in my voice apparently does not alarm.
"I'm not cutting it the way Jeffrey does," Mademoiselle sings gaily. "I'm cutting it the way I do!"
Oh. My. God.
Pardon my humiliation, but I am now the doomed owner of a ridiculously short asymmetrical pixie cut. It's not a bad haircut. It would look great on Winona Ryder. Me, it makes look like a pinhead.
What was she thinking???!! What happened to "keeping the cut"? Has my scalp turned into a battlefield in some sort of competition between Jeffrey and Mademoiselle?
Utterly oblivious to my stricken look, Mademoiselle is blissful. In her French accent, not missing a snip, she cheerfully confides the tale of her recent recovery from years of depression, how she is now overflowing with joy and generosity that she will share with the world, making the world a more beautiful place. It is her spiritual awakening.
Spiritual awakening. Too bad for me I awakened as a balding Caesar with a drunken high-and-tight.
She rubs pomade on her hands and musses what's left of my hair around. "Look, look!" she chirps. "Look at all the wonderful things you can do with it! Don't just keep it like I've done here. Play with it!"
Play with it... In the car, I try to tear it off my head. I succeed in looking even more like a plucked chicken.
Later I meet my friend, who takes one look and starts calling me Peter - as in Pan. She raises an eyebrow.
"Well, now we know what SHE likes," she says, referring to Mademoiselle. She regards me again, smothers a laugh, then shakes her head slowly.
I sigh. I think how long it will take to grow out. I think that with a hat on I'll look like a cancer victim. I think that it is the holiday season, one round of parties after another. And I look like...I don't know who, but Someone Else. A feminine Someone Else.
And not just any feminine Someone Else: Someone with the bad taste to have the wrong haircut.
Perhaps I'll cover all the mirrors in the house until spring.
It's not a bad haircut. It would like look fine on Mia Farrow. On Mary Martin. On Halle Berry. On any number of people. But not on me.
And yet here it is. Stuck. On my head.
I guess I could drag out my Cher wig...
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:28 PM 7 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2006
claims of territory
I spent several hours last week in an interview with a fresh-faced young fellow from Kansas, where he's completing his doctoral dissertation on the "existential geography" of my community. Ostensibly he was interviewing me; in fact, we gabbed at a breakneck speed in a fairly equal exchange of idea, observation, obsession. I've never previously met anyone who has expended as much thought or done as much research as I have on, yes, the "existential geography" of this very peculiar little corner of the round earth. We plumbed one another for corroboration of our own ideas and for new information, and ended up in my studio where I showed him the material form of my thoughts, the course my current work is taking.
For, yes, I am still/again caught in fascination with the lines of inscrutable destiny that have intersected here, in the strangeness of this unnatural rural slum, this edge-world tidal zone between orderly civilization and Nothingness, where claims of territory play out at historically glacial and now precipitous speeds. But the difference is, I am no longer writing about it, reducing it to verbal form; nor defending it, reducing it to envirosociopolitical form. I am instead going into the studio, opening it up, and seeing what happens.
The ideas have been building up into several inches of flow around my ankles, as my years of intense experience here flood up in new configurations. I've been searching for the visual form, the format, trying to take all those documents and histories, encounters and campaigns, smash them up, and let them emerge anew. I could feel I was on the right path but it still felt uncomfortable, definitely not yet there.
But a few days after our young friend from Kansas left I saw suddenly, while walking through my house on some entirely unrelated task, the opening, the visual shape that will lead into the land of the secret language of this work. And now I move confidently, with no assurance I will have a coherent result but certain that I am doing the right work and that I have - something. And that's all that matters.
Above: A sumi ink sketch from the new work.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:43 PM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2006
I've lived here long enough to take for granted the things one never should. Like 360 degrees of beguiling horizon, and the knowledge at all times of where the sun is, and where the moon. Of weather, wind, and sky as intimate companions as if they lived in the house with me.
When we dwell in the cities and the suburbs often we are surprised by the appearance of the moon; it's perambulations seem mysterious beyond reckoning, or at least too distant or insignificant to bother to track. But here, one would need to be willfully unconscious not to observe its phases, where it rises, where it sets. Add to that my quite modest knowledge of astronomy and urban visitors are as impressed by my predictions of the moon's arrivals as if I were foretelling an eclipse.
And the sun... I watch its progress north and south across the western horizon, to its most distant southward setting tonight behind the Queen Mountains, whose high thrust selfishly cuts these last meager days of the season even shorter; and to its northenmost point at the height of merciless summer, behind the humble Goat Hill.
I spent today hiking with a friend, across the wide basin once roamed by "Pinto Man". We were sure to be home by midafternoon, as tonight my friend will plant a special stone to mark the solstice point of the setting of the sun.
In whatever form you celebrate them, my friends, I wish you midwinter holidays in equal parts merry and mysterious.
Above: jackrabbit, winter. Sumi ink on kozo, Jackadandy/2006.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 3:55 PM 8 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 03, 2007
The devil made me do it
Okay, so my incorrigible readers are demanding the details on Jack's get-up in the last post. How can I resist...
Vintage silk bow-tie, one of my favorites. Warm dark brown patterned with small gold pastilles. Slightly askew by this hour. (Missing in photo: The one-too-many martini, ahem...)
The vintage jacket is a much-coveted tweed finally gifted to me by my mentor, Felipe, and altered by Pepe, my indulgent tailor. A deep chocolate with threads of gray, vermilion, and gold. The shirt is a custom creation by Pepe of a superb snowy English cotton with a subtle tone-on-tone stripe. Easily the most valuable shirt I own. Never lets me down.
The spectacles are a necessity, not a fashion accessory, I'm afraid. *sigh* I take after my mother; I've been a four-eyes since the fifth grade. I do own several pair.
Below the waist: Classic wide-legged, pleated-and-cuffed trousers of a dark-chocolate wool, with brown leather belt. I confess I don't exactly recall the socks, but I'm sure I was wearing these shoes, a pair of high-gloss brown patent oxfords that make me laugh.
And somehow I'm sure you didn't miss the over-the-top boutonniere, a bloom colloquially known as "little-boi plant." Ha! It was Slut Night, after all! ;-)
And the mysterious Lovely Lady sharing confidences? I'll never tell...
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:44 PM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2007
the decline of civilization
Life has been somewhat less than glamourous in Jackadandyland the last few days. We had a prodigious freeze, and the pressure tank at my well cracked. I've been without water since Friday.
It usually skims freezing here each winter at least a handful of times, but rarely falls much below. But in keeping with the climatic upsets across the nation, the last few nights it has been in the teens.
Plumbing all over the valley reacted strongly. I wasn't here that night, but the expanding pressure forced the water through a patch on the tank wall and it must have blasted a pressurized spray for hours. When I arrived home in the morning there was a solid inch of ice on everything to the east and south of the well for a distance of up to 20 feet, and icicles 10 inches long.
The lovely part was, to the east of the tank is where I store my proud collection of what's known locally by the term "rusty bits and shot-up sh*t", fabulous pieces of aged metal detritus of wondrous shapes: plates and springs, pumps and screens, rods, fittings, blades, anvils, grates, even brief sections of railroad track, reclaimed patiently from sandy abandonment, as well as all manner of objects that have been used thoroughly for target practice.
Covered with ice, the collection made a fantastic compact forest of glistening dark enchantment in my dry, wide-open desert land.
Three days later there are still broken icicles on the ground. This kind of cold has never occurred before in my years here. Global climate change, anyone?
Whatever the reason for the spectacular freeze, its consequences have been expensive, not to mention distressing for a fastidious dandy. I will not detail the, ahem, odious and unsightly toll that a sudden lack of running water can take on one's domicile and lifestyle. Luckily, the well guy with a replacement tank (a new-fangled diaphragm tank, not like the dinosaur that has taxed my pump for untold decades) will be arriving any minute, and if I am able to hand him a big enough check, I anticipate the return of cleanliness and civilization before the morrow! Wish me luck!
Update Monday sunset: No such luck. :( The new tank plumbing does not care for the old galvanized tank plumbing. Big Jer will get to it "first thing in the morning." *sigh*
Update Wednesday night: Water back on last night. Dishes (finally) done. One load of laundry (finally) done, with items currently freezing on the line. Single surviving plant watered. Space heater brought into office, as central air is apparently not up to the job at these temperatures and it looks like this is going to be a long haul.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 11:17 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 01, 2007
Much fun yesterday afternoon when, in the company of the worthy Madame E., I went over to the Local Historic Art Gallery to scope out the fixtures, as my show will be opening there in (gulp) less than four weeks.
I've made things difficult for myself by designing the work to have an unconventional presentation in a gallery that is, by any standards, conservative. For instance, I have had it emphasized to me several times by the stern older ladies in charge that this is a family gallery. (Now, why do they think I in particular need to be reminded of that, hmm? *w*) Not to worry; my subject matter this time is nowhere near sex, or even love. I just spent the last two days doing laborious ink renderings of earth-moving equipment, fer pity's sake.
They also are not excited by presentations that are in any way demanding or troublesome - this is, after all, a member gallery, staffed by guild volunteers, and the unusual spells H-E-A-D-A-C-H-E. I've been issued strict guidelines and limitations on what is considered acceptable. And frankly, my plan for the mountings of my work will only meet those requirements if I'm given a fair chance to argue for a most liberal and indulgent interpretation. Which is what I plan on doing, when D-Day arrives and I am face to face with the formidable Duenna of Hanging Day, herself. *sigh* I have been actively preparing my arguments, girding my loins, taking my vitamins, etc., in anticipation of the show-down. The Duenna has the power to reject any piece upon presentation, and she's not afraid to use it.
In the current work I'm using a very thin, semi-translucent handmade Japanese paper (kozo-shi, from Hiromi International in Santa Monica) with ink. The selection of medium was based on a desire to set up a contrast of permanence and impermanence. I want to float the paper free, unframed and literally pinned to a simple wooden rod.
They're going to hate it. *sigh*
So why have I chosen to premiere this new work here, in this in many ways unsuitable gallery?
Because it is The Perfect Space.
It's one of the few original old adobes in town, and it brims with the histories of this place. The room is warm, small, of adobe brick, and looks out across the desert. It was the original gallery for the 50-year-old guild. It literally is the subject matter of my work. So, it had to be here.
Yesterday Madame E. and I skulked around and determined how we can get my mounts to work with their hanger system, and visualized the work more specifically in the space. I think it's going to be just what I envisioned. If the Duenna doesn't pull the plug.
P.S. You'd see an image of my recent work posted above if BLOGGER WASN'T F*CKING NOT POSTING IMAGES AGAIN.
I beg your pardon.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 5:27 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 07, 2007
the unillustrated version
Well, apparently removing the spam guard has made Comments available again. Nice to hear from folks! :)
I am still hamstrung by the inability to post images but hope to put some attention to that frustrating matter imminently. If I haven't found a solution by Friday perhaps you will help me draft the assistance of the indulgent Mr. H., a person of towering technical talent and legendary kindness, who will have the misfortune of being in my vicinity this weekend. ;)
After several months of constant creative generation, preparing the new work and the exhibition in record time, I have in the last two days made the ear-popping plummet from the sublime to the ridiculous and am now working on my taxes. Ah, the soothing simplicity of numbers. Their single-dimensionality, their stark black-and-whiteness, can at times be a relief to the many-tentacled and restless mind of a relentlessly colorful Jack , even if the facts they reveal are, sad to say, rather dismal.
But, even without visuals to assist, and even though I really do need to wax properly on another pressing topic, the invisible but much-discussed mufti of the Scooter Libby jury, not to mention attend to my tagging as a Thinking Blogger (ah! the burden!), let me say the following about the opening reception:
It was sunny. It was smiling. It was tasty! (Madame E.'s olive hummus strikes again!) It was excited, engaged, perplexed, provocative of much discussion. It was M.'s delighted and triumphant face as she pointed across the room to "There! That one there!" and told the story of running with her elderly father ahead of a bulldozer trying to save young wild yuccas. It was, by many accounts, refreshing, as the physical presentation absolutely worked and removed barriers. It was integrating, as my many years of organizing the community came out of the mill of my body as something new; and revealing, as I stood naked before yet another crowd with the evidence everywhere of how my mind and heart and soul work, and as those individuals' generous and brave responses revealed their own workings back to me. It was gratifying, as J. insists we must find a way to present the work everywhere in the Basin, even the community center, and he is ready to help fund that.
It was also well-dressed, and, on that, more when I can show you some pics! ;)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:38 AM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, MARCH 08, 2007
It's becoming harder and harder to post here, not because of %&*@! Blogger but because there's too much to say. I could sit here at this keyboard all day and it would just rain off me in streams of silver and tin, so much do I see and take inside me, so much so much so much, so much that comes inside and spins somersaults until it has to come out again, but come out transformed. Different now, from having been through my body/senses/soul. I could tell you about it all day, without stopping, and never be through.
Something about being this age (50's) is that you've moved to a different mode in your perception. You are no longer constantly overcome by the novelty of things. You've seen so many things, and while yes there are always new things there are many, many more categories of objects and events that, well, you've been introduced to before. And you are no longer stunned by their newness, and that leaves you the leisure to instead examine them in their routineness. You've been here before, you're no longer trying to figure out where "here" is, and you may instead notice everything else about this particular intersection. All the things you missed that first time around.
And there's an infinite amount of it.
And now it's you who is ready to do something new with it. It's newness is no longer what happens to you; the newness is what you do with it.
I sometimes think I'll fling into a billion bits, with the power and pressure of it.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:42 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007
The time thing in my life has reached a point of pathetic desperation. How pathetic? I realized, as I sat in the dentist's chair today having a filling repaired, that the only moments in my life where I hold still and do nothing while awake are when I'm either sitting in the chair at the dentist's office or I'm getting my hair cut at the Beauty Bubble.
I'm serious, people.
How pathetic is that?
And mind, I'm not in the dentist's chair very often; I'm blessed with pretty good teeth.
I confess: I find these interludes restful. I not only don't have to do anything, I'm required to do nothing. With my mouth full of instruments I am blessedly relieved of conversational duty. I also can't see much of anything; in Dr. Jones' chair I have my eyes closed against that obnoxious light, and in Jeffrey's chair at the Beauty Bubble I'm too myopic to see much without my specs.
My unfocused gaze drifts out the window and across the empty desert, resting somewhere around the intersection of the mountains with the sky. Occasionally Mikal passes by with the baby and waves. Jeffrey prattles on contentedly about their latest gay-family B&B remodel scheme. I think of nothing. I do nothing. I see nothing.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 12:08 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007
Well. Jack has met a minor milestone in hys little career.
I've been informed that Ms. Mita B. was told to her face that she "musta been drunk!" when she decided to purchase the above painting, my cabin with vandals.
I have arrived. ;)
I told you the work was provoking conversation, lol. Ms. Mita, the wife of a retired art instructor and no shrinking violet, took the opportunity to dispense a little light and art education in the direction of her doubter.
Educand inquired some time back if this painting was inspired by a break-in at my place. Actually, it wasn't. I haven't been broken into since I moved out of the city. (Knock on wood, crosses fingers.) The fact is, the cabins here are so permeable that "breaking-in" is really a matter of interpretation. Which is kind of the point. We're all vandals here. Petty or grand, gang members or curious tourists, pack rats or squatters, needy scavenger, academic, or artiste, everybody peeks in the windows, everybody kicks the debris, everybody takes home a little something - or a lot something, if you need a door or window or even a roof.
My personal specialty is rusty bedsprings. But I never break windows, and never use cabins for target practice. We all have our standards, after all.
On the other hand, one tends to be extremely careful around any dwelling that appears inhabited. You never know if it's going to house a meth lab, or wild dogs or bobcats or survivalists.
Ms. Mita, who has lived here 29 years, doesn't find this painting scary. She confessed the red "explosion" feels more like a twinkle, to her. That Ms. Mita is perceptive, drunk or no. In truth, this painting started with a sparkle. A sparkle and an explosion are not so different, to me. :)
Above: cabin with vandals, JD/2007, ink on kozo-shi, 20" x 15". Shown here mounted. See a bigger version on my Other Website aqui.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:49 PM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2007
I'm sorry to report that Mighty Jack has been laid cruelly low by a villainous viral foe, no doubt a microorganistic stowaway from his travels to the notoriously pestilential Midlands. Indeed, in my feverish delirium I became quite obsessed that the evil germ fastened itself upon me in a meal eaten in Ohio Amish country. Surely those silent, smooth-faced ladies are hiding something beneath those bonnets and voluminous capes, some plot to rid the world of sin, and those modest demeanors and lowered gazes are naught but a practiced deceit...!
Please understand that I really have no right to complain. Being of outstandingly robust constitution it's been years since I've had so much as a cold. Which may be why I feel so particularly vulnerable, not to mention insulted.
Miserable is how I've felt, my friends. Miserable up to and including actual consideration that this might, indeed, be the moment of Jack's final demise. But the fever broke last night, and this morning my sweet Nurse, after two steadfast days of dedication, was obliged to return to civilian duty and leave Jack, weak as a kitten but out of danger, to hys own sloppy ministrations, to include packaged pudding cups and other highly processed items that in ordinary times never appear on hys menu, but which are, at the moment, the only thing hye can swallow. Yecchh. And now, conversely, I am left to long hungrily for the simple bowl of delicious, undressed, easily swallowed noodles those same Amish ladies fed me...
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:25 AM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007
I've found it impossible to get a satisfying reproduction of this painting. In real life it has such an exciting surface, with a mysterious red glow beneath the lush verdant greens, and the cherry sun such a smooth, lacivious pink one really wants to lick it. The red "spots" feel like kisses...
This was one of the compositions that I saw in my head and was able to sketch out successfully, but when I began to apply the pastel I immediately got something far beyond what I'd anticipated in terms of surface and color. So I just went with it. My basic concept is still there, but much better. Wish I could show it to you for reals... :)
It's called cherry sun, from my series love full of life. Jackadandy 2004, pastel on paper, 11-3/8" x 11-1/2". View it larger on my Website here. The iconography, of masculine and feminine energies sharing a "female-bodied" origin, recurs several times in the series.
This is one of two paintings from love full of life that will be part of a group exhibition called "Heroes" at the Desert Pride Center in Palm Springs this month. Curated by Lee Balan and Randolph Maxted. Opening reception this Saturday at 7 p.m. Details here.
Please come. :)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:59 PM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, MAY 05, 2007
A major Rural Renewal Project is underway at Rancho Jackadandy. The state of disorganization had reached crisis proportions, and action was of the essence if Jack were not to lose complete control of hys business and be carted off screaming in a straitjacket. All systems were woefully out of date, not having kept pace with Jack's rapidly evolving life, and were breaking down right, left, and center.
So, Jack did the one thing that can overcome any adversity and always make everything right: Hye got a new filing cabinet.
I confess: I love -I adore - a good filing cabinet. Oh yes... That gravitas that keeps it balanced and rooted in place with nary a tremble as one pulls out a yard's worth of drawer. That smooth ball-bearing action. That intensely satisfying click as a drawer rolls back into place, filled with a spit-and-polish regiment of carefully ranked hanging files standing at attention, no one out of place, no one slumping or sagging, each simply ready to serve.
And legal-size files, mind you. None of these letter files with odd long-sized bits crumpled and jammed and hanging out the sides.
As are the files organized, so is the mind.
(We will mention in passing here that a good filing cabinet has nothing in common whatsoever with a bad filing cabinet, which is a dangerous piece of cut-rate junk that is on the fast track to the trash dump from the moment it is acquired but not until it has caused shrieking fits of frustration and actual bodily injury, followed by terminal neglect of one's business as BFC [Bad Filing Cabinet] PTSD renders one psychologically incapable of ever attempting to open its ill-fitting drawers again.)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:45 AM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, MAY 07, 2007
Last week I attended, in my guise as a "stakeholder", a meeting of leaders of various government agencies with interests in our little ol' desert. There were superintendents from the Park Service and other managers of federal lands; officers from the different wings of the military; State Fish and Game officials; county and local bureaucrats; etc.
While garnering choice bits of data of high strategic interest to your friend Jack the Land-Use Policy Wonk, one did keep one's eye open to, of course, sartorial expression. Allow me to report the bad news: Not a single uniform. Nope. Not so much as a single classic broad-brimmed ranger hat. No regiment stripes. Hell, not even a suit and tie.
Too bad. One of the pleasures of these hobnobs of DoI and military types can be all the snappy livery, starched and pressed and oh so ritualistic. Jack loves this; hye confesses to total uniform sluttery.
So what was on view instead? My companion and I agreed that the desert bureaucrat casual mufti on view was, well...a little anemic. Lots of khakis, bland shirts, forgettable shoewear... Really, I guess the point is I couldn't much tell you what folks were wearing, it was that unnotable. I will say attendees around the big table looked comfortable, and that's worth something, heh? If we can't have style, let's have comfort. Or something.
On the other hand, at Saturday night's art reception at the Desert Pride Center there was a notable representation of that peculiarly Palm Springs gay male fashion, and I will only describe my favorite: a middle-aged gentleman, a little short, a little broad, with polyester pants of an aggressive spring green, scuffed white cowboy boots, and knotted around his wrist a very thick and heavy upholstery tassel, complete with price tag. Loved it.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:14 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, MAY 28, 2007
I was down in San Diego for a few days, looking after a friend who was having surgery. We drove down through the back country and she had me pull off onto a side road to filch some elderberry blossoms, blooming in billowy yellow clusters. She placed them carefully in a paper bag she found in the car, and the day after surgery she had me mash them down headfirst, bugs and all, into the steaming water of a styrofoam teacup, stems sticking out the top. "Restorative", she said, and sucked at the brew through a flex-straw. She'd watched an 80-year-old Cahuilla elder recover herself from a terrible auto accident with elderberry steep.
The surgeon, on review of the final imaging, at the last minute decided to do a much less invasive procedure. It was a huge relief. It meant weeks of recovery time, instead of months.
I felt like a ghost in the hospital, wafting uselessly through the hallways. Ward, lobby, cafeteria, and back again. Up and down in the elevator to the ninth floor, accompanied by aides, accompanied by doctors, accompanied by therapists, family, nurses, paramedics, food service with trays on carts, patients in wheelchairs, patients on gurneys, patients on foot. I took the stairs to stretch my legs. I walked outside to get away from the fluorescent light.
The medical center was an island, surrounded on three sides by freeway. The jacaranda trees were dropping their blue cups on the pavement. I took her back a stem of sweet-smelling honeysuckle from a curbside bed.
I read endless numbers of magazines.
The physical therapist got her up to walk, testing her balance down the hall. I walked several paces behind them, silently, feeling at the same time invisible and conspicuous like some tight-jawed member of the Secret Service. When we left, bringing her back out into the sunlight, she had a little plastic bag containing a titanium plate and some very expensive screws, no longer needed, a souvenir of past success.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:59 PM 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
THURSDAY, JUNE 07, 2007
Fresh Meat in the Gallery IV is open, and I'm proud to be participating for the third year. This year's theme is Borders, so I submitted the above pastel from my series love full of life. It's called butch spear.
"Butch Spear" was a handyman's name that I saw pegged to a bulletin board in a rural Vermont cafe a few years ago, before I had even conceived of the series. Somewhere along the line this image came into my head, and after some sketches I completed the painting in 2006. Variations of this particular inconography recur several times in the series, representing a masculine presence and a feminine presence both sharing a "female-bodied" origin. (Check out here and here.)
In this painting the masculine/butch presence and the feminine/femme presence each perform a kind of dynamic guardianship of a (femme/butch) community space, a place that has no real geographic existence but rather is located in desire and a shared "gender other-ness."
I often take advantage of pastel’s strong and direct pigments, but here I started with a sort of grisaille and I’m pleased with the resulting mysterious, other-worldly twilight. (View it larger here.)
The show is part of the 10th annual National Queer Arts Festival and accompanies the Fresh Meat performance series at ODC Theater in San Francisco, 17th St. @ Shotwell. Through July 6. Opening reception post-performance June 14.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 12:08 PM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007
The young cottontails are out exploring the property on their own now. Little bitty mites, they are the essence of bunny-cute. But no matter how small, they're foraging as determinedly as all the creatures are right now; with no rain to speak of for over a year, desperation has set in, bringing the wildlife to take risks and expose themselves in their search for sustenance.
From the window I watched one little long-eared ball of fluff hopping around the yard yesterday, curious about everything. I'd forgotten about it later when I stepped outside and startled it, or perhaps its cousin. The bunny fled in a panic, not noticing that it was heading for the irrigation water several inches deep in the basin around the ocotillo until it was sloshing out the other side. What a surprise! I'm sure it had never had its body immersed in water even once before in its short, drought-filled life. It was wet almost up to its ears. It hesitated only a surprised instant to shake its wet fur, then dashed for the bushes.
Last night at dusk, as I worked at my desk, I stopped and stared. Just a few yards from my window a tall, lean, long-legged bobcat stalked by, silent and slow.
I've never seen one by my house like that before. Hunger had brought it close.
A young rabbit hung limp from its jaws.
It took its kill over under my big tree, beneath a low, heavy limb. Settling on its haunches, then nervously rising to look around, then settling again, and rising and settling, it finally began to dine. Fifty feet away, from inside the house, I watched in the deepening twilight; after a while, the rabbit's fluffy white tail was all I could make out.
I left it alone, and went back to work at my desk. Just before it became too dark to see, the bobcat returned past my window, heading silently back towards where the rest of the rabbit family was hidden.
In the morning I looked under the big tree. Just some bobcat scat, and a single fluff of white fur.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:32 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2007
a view from the hoary margins
I've been feeling specifically old lately. Like, I've been on this planet a long-ass time by now, and I see things quite differently from when I was young. I've seen a lot of things come, a lot of things go, and a lot of things come and go again. This has definitely affected my perspective. I tend to take the long view of events anymore.
When the musician Bitch gets canceled from the line-up at the Boston Dyke March for the crime of having performed at the "transphobic" Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and also having defended that performance, and when Catherine Crouch's "transphobic" film The Gendercator becomes the first film ever axed due to content from the San Francisco Frameline LGBT film festival, beyond a moment's appreciation for the good gossipy drama of it all I pretty much take it in stride. I am, I suppose, by some measures insufficiently discomposed.
Do I seem hard-hearted? Uncaring and cold? No. Just been here before. In 1990 or so, when accusations of "Censorship!" and vollies of "Shut 'em down!" shook the rafters of the Womens Building in S.F. as the same sorts of arguments ripped up Queer Nation San Francisco, over the film Basic Instinct, over the casting of White stars in M. Butterfly, over the child photography of Josh Sturges, and on and on. There's a thousand examples over the years, some big, some little. It's a classic: artistic integrity and/or autonomy versus the desire of a community to defend itself, whether the artists come from outside the community or from within its own bosom.
In other words, this is a conflict that is rather long in the tooth and, in my humble opinion, never destined to be "resolved". Artists are about risk, and about rendering unto communities visions that help them define themselves, whether coming in through the front door or through the back. Ultimately, the artist only has a legal contract for protection, and the rest is a crap shoot. I may personally feel a sympathy in one direction or another, and I may even protest a position vigorously, but, in fact, I rarely feel programmatically outraged. It goes this way this year, the other way the next. Sometimes the work gets seen, sometimes it doesn't. In either case, the dust raised will form new work, and so the discussion moves forward.
Do I believe Bitch and Crouch shuold receive whatever cancellation compensation and protection their contracts promise them, including any right to sue the organizations involved? Absolutely. That's business, and professionalism. Let the chips fall where they may. Do I believe the artists' careers will survive this moment? Quite, to the extent their talents and the vagaries of fortune warrant. In the short run, the publicity will probably give their trajectories a boost. I predict the popular rehabilitation of Bitch within two years, if not two weeks.
I've been thinking about models a lot lately, and the rather touching, even pathetic need of humans to create them. That desire to have a structure that orders and explains the world, followed quickly, in most cases, with a dangerous conflation of the model with the actual world, and with it the inevitable castigation or simply negation of anything which doesn't fit the model.
It is exactly that marginalia - that embarassing element that doesn't fit the model - that has the most potential power, and which interests me the most.
Identities are such models. Identities are about exclusion exactly as much as they are about inclusion. "Spaces" - such as "women's space" - are also models. Whether those identities and spaces are considered to be "chosen", as by the defenders and participants of MWMF, or whether they are "imposed/assigned", as by "the patriarchy", they still are models and serve to limit.
The weakness of models that seek to fix in space and time is that they must forever fight to defend against the marginalia, those bleeding points into the fearsome "other". And the marginalia, through their mere existence, will forever be the Molotov cocktails waiting to explode the model. The system of racial exclusion is threatened by the mixed race person; the compulsion to visit a hustler renders vulnerable the preacher's wholesome self-image. And it is the twilight people - the lesbian trans woman, the genderqueer, the intersex - who break down "class woman" and "class man".
Of course the marginalia do not win admission by silence alone. Ultimately, these Molotovs must be lit and aggressively lobbed, and skirmishes turn ugly. Excesses are guaranteed. After panicky shouts of capsize amid the rough seas the community eventually rights itself, stabilizes, and discovers, sometime down the road, that its model has changed. Its model has now absorbed within its circle of legitimacy one more formerly despised element of that troubling marginalia.
And with new-found strength, a becoming contrition, and renewed righteousness it will toddle along---until the next challenge arises.
This year's trans actions are right on schedule.
I use models myself, of course. Over the years mine have been as rigid and troublesome as anyone's. After decades of being forced to discard one after another as they broke down in the face of life's inherent messiness, I now focus on keeping my systems flexible and in motion, to prevent them from obscuring my vision and blunting my strategy. I like my models dynamic, not static. After all, I am dynamic, not static. And life is dynamic, not static.
And so I play. I play with the models. What about, if instead of using "class woman" and "class man", we used, for a moment, "class feminine" and "class masculine"? Hmm, what an informative realignment that might be! What? You bellow, "Yeah, but who gets to define 'feminine'? who gets to define 'masculine'? Huh, Jack?"
Well---YOU do. Heh.
And where, you ask, when we create "feminine space" and "masculine space", where will we find our friend Jack Dandy?
Why, wherever the girls are, of course! ;-)
But probably not at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Much too muddy for such a fastidious fellow...
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 10:30 1M 6 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2007
Button up tight!
Liza kindly sent me this charming photo of cartoonist Alison Bechdel and musician/sculptor Phranc canoodling at the hanging of their show last year at Liza's up-and-coming Burlington, Vermont, gallery Pine Street Art Works. Why? So that we might take a closer look at that collar. I mean the one on the left, with the pink stripes. Specifically: Does the collar button down, or does it not?
We admired this self-same shirt a few posts ago, worn by Bechdel on a different occasion, and therein I expressed a bit of...squeamishness, shall we say, regarding the collar, secretly fearing that it might be of the button-down variety. We are relieved to ascertain that it is, indeed, not.
It is a fact that since that post more than one inquiring mind has approached your dandy friend, asking, Jack, what's the beef with the button-down? Is there something we should know?
Well. To each their own. Of course. BUT...
First, a little history, which frankly does not affect my opinion at all but might be of interest nonetheless. The button-down was first used in nineteenth century England by polo players to keep their shirt collars from flapping in the wind.
This seems to me an eminently sensible solution to a pesky, even dangerous problem. To those vigorous fellows I lift my glass and say, Here, here! Jolly good idea! Carry on!
But to the person who is not on the back of a pony or on the deck of a sailboat but rather pushing a pencil in an office or classroom, I say, Unloose that collar! My friend, you look neither sporty nor dapper! No, you look just like what you probably feared all your life you really were: A buttoned-down mind!
Regard the meaning of "button-down" supplied us by The Free Dictionary: "unimaginatively conventional; -'a colorful character in the buttoned-down, dull-gray world of business'- Newsweek." Or perhaps you prefer Bartleby's definition: "Conforming to established practice or standards: conformist, conventional, establishmentarian, orthodox, straight, traditional. Slang: square. See USUAL."
Straight. Square. USUAL.
Do you get where I'm going, people?
But I did not need Bartleby's or anyone else to tell me what was wrong with the button-down collar. It is evident in one glance. The effect is the spiritual equivalent of someone wearing a neck brace. You know, one of those orthopedic collars people must wear at times of medical misfortune in order to not move their head in any way separate from their shoulders. The button-down collar gives quite the same impression: I dare not dress in any way that expresses independence of thought or intent, any daring or any musicality of soul, and instead must live like I have a stiff board traveling the entire distance from my seat up through my crown.
The button-down is for the person who is so insecure or so hide-bound they dare not risk their collar showing any life or sensuality whatsoever but instead puts a premium on making sure the collar points STAY IN PLACE. Even if that place they're staying is aesthetically castrated. Good grief, people! This is like wearing your stocking garters on the outside of your trousers.
And, more pathetic yet, the cursed collar cannot redeem itself, for if one is so adventurous as to unbutton the collar from its moorings so that it might be alive like a real collar and register the life and creativity of the wearer, what is one left with? Two naked-looking holes, and two stupid-looking buttons calling attention to an utterly insignificant part of one's shirt.
Please, people. Have a little confidence in yourself and in your collar. If you fear it may have lost its place, smooth it with your hands, adjust your tie, and smile. It is a sensuous moment. Or be adventurous and flip it rakishly. Do anything, but please: Don't button it down.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 5:45 PM 5 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2007
The reasons for my disenchantment with the blogosphere are numerous, but here is one: There is a part of me that's all business, all about naming and categorizing and creating hierarchies. And despite its webby linkiness, the blogosphere and the conversations it engenders are, for me, stuck there.
I'm tired of it. I am done trying to identify who "we" are, as opposed to "them"; bored by the feeble violence of the arch and the ironic; through trying to draw conclusions.
A certain lady looked at me searchingly the other day, and said, "Your left eye is your love eye, and your right eye is your business eye. I can tell which eye you're seeing through."
Above: Detail from heavy equipment; clouds up from Baja; Spanish empire; flood across my property. Japanese ink on kozo-shi, 20" x 34" . Jackadandy 2007.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:22 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2007
Saturday rather late Perry had a few intimates over for an impromptu going-away party. I've been meaning to plan a party for him for two months but, in all honesty, could not be that generous; I don't want him to go away.
It was dripping hot in the big room; over the last three years of global climate change the desert has become humid in the summer, and our trusty, efficient, and inexpensive evaporative coolers, built for dry heat, are no longer up to the job. Finally we dragged our chairs into the breezier wide hallway, part of the addition, while the giant Buddha fountain murmured behind us in a niche that in the time of the former owners had once held a messy outdoor barbecue lined with cheap gallon wine jugs.
I left to go to the kitchen to get a drink, passing through the original living room that has since turned into a gallery. How many times, how many hues has Perry painted that room...? The floor alone is in four different colors, each a rough quadrant bounded by jagged cracks that had split the old concrete slab when it was poured. The passage between the old living room and the new big room had been busted through the cinderblock one night with a sledge-hammer on a whim, the more safety-minded guests clearing out to wait on the patio until he was done. The rough, irregular frame of that passageway, left unfinished, keeps insubstantial the difference between parties past in the old living room, and festivities in the new one.
In the kitchen it was quiet, dark. Standing at the sink, I felt a peacefulness. How strange... Perry's house, a headquarters of sociability and a whirling blender of constant transformation, is many things, but I had never, ever, in all these years found it peaceful. Even the bathroom is a riot of color and tile and light and reflection. Why did it seem so orderly? Where was everything? Had he finally started packing up the dishes? Where was the funny little cupboard where he used to keep his collection of glasses, including the one that held the scorpion the night I drank out of it?
Alone, I breathed in the Perry-ness of it. The kitchen walls mosaiced from floor to ceiling, unexpected objects creeping out of the mortar, canny secrets hiding in corners, finally finished just recently in preparation for a State Visit by Doug's Montecito mother. Somewhere on those walls Perry had mosaiced my initials, and who knows what other bits of flotsom that I've sent his way.
Before Perry moved to the desert he used to come visit me, and all he wanted, he would say, all he wanted was to have a little desert house and to mosaic the f*ck out of it. His drive was so great that he finally pleaded with me to let him mosaic my front step. He didn't have to plead very hard, of course. :) Earlier in the trip he and Olive had found a remarkable stash of broken pottery in an old dumpsite - Bauer-ware, Catalina-ware, Santa Anita-ware; this was the material he used to complete my front step, sweltering under an August sun like a mad person. There are loose bits of colorful ceramic still scattered around in the sand by my door, glinting among the remains of pea gravel from the former owner. And although the handles have since broken off all but one of the tea cups, my front step is delightful.
Perry came into the kitchen and poured me some wine into a glass with a stem shaped like a seahorse. Outside the kitchen I could see the original patio, now with an enormous seahorse fountain in the middle, where we had had dinner parties hilarious and unnumbered. At that time the new big room did not exist, and instead there was a sort of pen where the former owners had kept their pets, and then Perry kept his (ill-tempered) peacocks. Magnificent, yes, with colors that he could not resist, spreading their tails on his rooftop, but when the alpha male chased Mr. Graham and caused him to leap off the pool deck, breaking one of Perry's favorite cups and only with good fortune not his leg, they got locked up in the pen. From there the alpha male would shriek disagreeably at regular intervals, and one summer evening bit my thumb through the wire when I leaned back too far in my chair.
The day I brought Perry to first look at that house, at that time still simple and plain if idiosyncratic, the deal was sealed when I found the seahorse drawer pulls in the bedroom. I don't think they are there anymore, but it would be hard to know under all the changes he has wreaked, and wreaked, and wreaked.
Images by Perry Hoffman.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 1:34 PM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2007
Drove down to Tecate on Thursday, passing over into Mexico. Skies were stormy and dramatic when the three of us left early in the morning, heading south through the National Park. Above the Pinto Basin light rays streamed like fingers towards the earth through breaks in the clouds - "God's hand", she called it.
We skirted the east edge of the Coachella Valley, past the date orchards, lightning in the distance and a smoke cloud far, far off. For a long time there glittered to our left the persistent folly that is the Salton Sea, failed businesses, derelict vacation homes, and faded billboards for misfired dreams dotting the roadside. On the right there was a shiny new real estate office or two; someone is clearly expecting another convulsion in the smelly history of this doomed (last) resort. Though hungry we pushed on; the stink of rotting fish and agricultural waste is not good with breakfast.
Ahead, in the sweltering fields of the irrigated Imperial Valley, the smoke cloud loomed. We hit Brawley - "B-town" - and turned west. The fire was off to our right now, just a couple miles, perhaps, from the highway. It was not that large, maybe a half-mile square, and not moving but sending steady billows of yellowish smoke into the sky. We left it behind.
The back country along the border, passing into southeast San Diego County, is lovely, quiet, rocky, in places studded with oaks, in the damper canyons with cottonwoods. There was little evidence of humans except the road and, bridging a narrow passage, a high wooden train trestle. Near the Campo Reservation she pointed out the locations of the Jacumba Massacre, and then the McCain Massacre, when the Kumeyaay were driven by the white settlers into Mexico where they still are.
In Campo there was a place to eat, and while seated inside she suddenly said, "It's snowing!"
Outside the window bits of white fluff blew past vigorously. I went to the door and looked out. The storm was coming, driving leaves and cottonwood silk before it. The rain was finished by the time we'd eaten our lunch.
Tecate is a large town that has no corresponding settlement north of the border. One drives almost directly from remote California back country through the checkpoint and into downtown Mexico.
The truth is this: These days, when I cross out of the territory of the U.S.A., I feel a sense of relief. My eyes open up to color, my body to other rhythms, my soul to a reprieve from the relentless pounding of American pop culture and masturbatory political obsessions.
Following up a series of lucky queries we stumbled across a tile supplier on the way out of town on a road noisy with passing freight. The talavera tile was appealing in style and colors and quality, but she was prepared to search further. Then, as we were leaving, the sharp-eyed ex-personal-shopper Monsieur Gris found the prize of the day, the stash of seconds, remnants, and chipped and broken tiles in a neglected corner.
Under the afternoon sun she installed herself in an iron chair and proceeded to give directions as I showed her colorfully glazed pieces and either packed them in cartons or returned them to the pile. The exquistely courteous duena was patient, professional, meticulous, donning a binder and apron to count our pieces. Finally, sweaty and covered with dust, we loaded the car. My take? Five small tiles patterned in a simple white-and-yellow checkerboard.
Back in the U.S., as we approached the sweatbox of El Centro at sunset, the fire was still burning, no smaller, no bigger. It seemed to be on the grounds of a vast chicken ranch, and we hypothesized it was the unfortunate spontaneous combustion of a mountain of chicken manure. The sun turned the smoke fiery red across the horizon.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 5:42 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2007
Dalila made the long trek out from Los Angeles on Saturday, arriving as a spectacular sunset was fading on a day of massive thunderheads and downpours further up the Basin. She stumbled out of the car and looked around slowly at the land spreading out wide in every direction.
"Wow...it's really desolate out here...!"
She'd come to borrow her painting stela: goddesses in love ("diosas enamoradas") from where it hangs in my living room. It will be part of the Tongue to Tongue Queer Woman and Gender Variant People of Color exhibition at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, opening this Friday.
We had planned to have a little time to hang out but at the last minute her Salvadoran grandmother had insisted upon coming along; apparently she was determined to protect her sturdy granddaughter with her 80 years and 80 pounds of ferocity. Protect her from what? I never got quite clear on that, but apparently el desierto holds powerful perils.
Dalila apologized that she was going to have to turn right around and take Senora Elvira back home; it was "past her bedtime."
Madame E., who had come to visit, was having none of that. By the time Dalila and I had wrapped the painting and taken care of business Madame E., with the earnest application of her rather vernacular Spanish, had charmed the tiny abuela into agreeing to join us for a late supper at the Inn, where over an excellent meal the conversation was animated on the proper ingredients of Salvadoran enchiladas, the buff muscles of the rock-climbing women in Joshua Tree, and the methods of preparation of the yucca plant in El Salvador as opposed to those of the local Cahuilla people, on which Senora and Madame E. were experts, respectively.
I was enchanted. :)
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:27 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2007
the limits of beauty
I continue to be surprised at the persistence of this blog. In fact, my participation in the blogging universe as a whole feels increasingly vestigial. I still read a few blogs, in a kind of spotty way, but I almost never comment - who cares what I think, including me?
In truth, the conversations and concerns seem numbingly repetitive. Not to dismiss out of hand any one individual's efforts. The sheer stylistic performance, the wit, intelligence, and bare-knuckled drama can still occasionally impress me, but, ultimately...haven't we said this before? I mean, the sheer volume of it is crushing to one's senses; one just wants to turn it off.
And one is left, finally, with a sense of the limits of humanity, not the potential. Like the man said: Is this all there is?
I'm tired of the performance - most of all, my own. That sparkle alone is not enough.
Is it just me, or is everyone feeling this way?
Interestingly (or not), this ennui has carried over into my Real Life. (Or perhaps the other way around? I don't know.) It's not a good feeling. Purpose has begun to seem elusive. I no longer care what happens to my community, or anyone else's. I'm seeing the limits of humanity, and not the potential. Even - dare I say it? - the limits of beauty.
Perhaps not coincidentally, I'm also having a bit of a wrestle in the studio. Eh.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:25 AM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2007
A hawk smacked into the sliding glass door into the office yesterday. Right next to the desk, while I was sitting there.
It made quite a thump.
Luckily, I believe it had come no farther than the puddle of water at the base of the creosote bush just a few feet from the door. At times, on particularly hot days, the hawk will stand in the water up to its knees, I suspect cooling its tootsies. It's quite nervous about company, but left alone it will stand there for hours.
You may imagine that when it's 115 out, even tree limbs are probably uncomfortably warm on the talons.
The water pools under the creosote as run-off from my evaporative cooler and is a fairly reliable source through the summer of rather salty water, for creatures crafty enough to come after it.
The hawk recovered promptly and flew off.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 7:33 PM 0 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2007
I've been doing some research lately for an art lecture I'll be giving next month, and in pursuit of such I've been spending a lot of time with my nose in desert-based publications from the middle of the last century. Most of these came out of what was then the nascent "art colony" of Palm Springs and environs and are more than a little purple in their enthusiastic prose. The Myth of the West was alive and well, and if the materials I've been reviewing are any evidence, the myth's continued health appears to have required careful patrolling of gender lines.
Some artists may have provided more of a challenge on this score than others. In the "Widening Horizons: Painters of the Western Desert" issue of the quarterly The Western Woman, scores of artists are profiled, including Matille Seaman, pictured above. The text accompanying the photo is full of blather about Ms. Seaman's "reverent regard for [the Western Desert's] majesty and beauty"; her "rugged personality, unassuming like the desert itself - having nothing of pretense to greatness"; and the "little studio she has invested with charm that is the emanation of her own personality - a gracious friendly attitude as of one through whom the desert itself bids the wayfarer welcome and 'Godspeed'." Of rather more interest to me is the following nervously reassuring passage:
"Billy" Seaman's wardrobe is guiltless of feminine apparel. Always she is immaculately attired in smock and trousers. "I simply don't own a dress, nor even a hat," she says, while looking essentially feminine in her comfortable modern togs.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 2:34 PM 1 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
MONDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2007
Well. Your friend Jack has had many an adventure since last we met, starting out with my monitor turning a sickly pee-yellow the day before I was to give my presentation at the college, with said presentation NOT yet in anything near a completed condition. Then, Friday morning rain came and the electricity went out, making Jack feel quite special as, with a single exception, we have not had rain in almost two years. In desperation the presentation was finally completed and printed out on the notably funky equipment at our little public library without a second to spare. By then the roads were flooded and we had to practically swim to the college, where of course only the most stalwart were able to make it through the deluge. BUT - the material was solid, I managed to handle it okay without a single advance run-through, and I believe people got a lot out of it. The spirit was really good.
By the time I got home the power was back on, thank goodness, because it was COLD and wet, baby, but the phone lines were out. And they stayed out until last night. So if you've tried to call or email me, now you know why I've been so unresponsive. Sorry. Monitor still looks jaundiced and will have to go to the shop, from whence I expect it will be delivered to the morgue.
But yesterday the sun was high, the wind was still, and Jack TOOK THE DAY OFF. We drove an elderly friend down to the Tamale Festival in Indio, which was, by any measure whatsoever, EXCELLENT. What a great event. It's in the old downtown, not at the fairgrounds, and was just families, tamales, and music, and tamales, and families, and smiling people. Extremely home-grown, with dozens and dozens of tamale vendors and Norteno, mariachi, and salsa amid the second-hand shops, dollar stores, and empty store fronts of old Indio. Actually had a date tamale! Jack felt so very at home. The perfect antidote to a week of stress and obstacles and a month of human ugliness. :)
Above: Sawtooth Mountains by Merritt Boy*r, who came to this area in the 1940s ill with lung disease, as did so many artists. He called these his "puppet paintings," and I've seen at least one other featuring the same cheerful prospector and his peppy burro. his painting was featured in my presentation last Friday.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 9:05 AM 2 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST
TUESDAY, JANUARY 01, 2008
time and tide
The holiday season in Jack's neighborhood this year has been an extended lesson in patience and proportion: There are events in life that render our clocks and calendars meaningless, no matter how important our business may seem.
A dearest friend's mother was dying, a woman I've known almost 40 years. She's been secluded in her own private world by Alzheimer's for years now, and when she ceased to eat entirely earlier in the month, her horizons began to be counted in days. All holiday plans became contingent; all conversations began, "How is she?"
Meanwhile, at the other end of the state, the irreplaceable Ms. Kitty was doing birth duty, waiting on her sister's new one that was supposed to arrive on the 18th, before she could head down here for festivities. The new arrival, however, was less prompt than hoped. Holiday plans, again, were contingent. "Let's wait until Kitty gets here", we kept saying, as we postponed one celebration after another.
We're still waiting. Sweet William is proving to be quite a stubborn little fellow.
The elderly matriarch, on the other hand, had nothing left to prove, and late Christmas night moved on with as peaceful a passing as one could hope in this world. Tomorrow I head into L.A. for the funeral. Ms. Kitty will be there, as the young simply must make room sometimes for the importance of the old, and so, in Jack's circle this year, it's death that will bring old friends together at the holidays.
A year of changes is ahead. I'm getting too old to start over, but it looks like I'm going to have to. So, I commit to excitement at new beginnings, and let the old lie in peace. Happy New Year to you all.
POSTED BY JACKADANDY AT 8:52 AM 3 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST