American Idyll

yes, the river knows

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Life Of Man Is Most Uncertain

John Renbourn / Robin Williamson: Wheel of Fortune

Every fortune-teller I ever met was a faker.
First thing you should do to a soothsayer
is poke them in the eye and say,
Didn’t see that coming, did you?
--Mark Lawrence

Robin Williamson : Sheffield, England...9/16


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bring Out Your Dead

Grateful Dead: 6/28/74


just the jams...5/77

like a mountain path
that ends at a cliff
I travel along
the edge of your thoughts,
and my shadow falls
from your white forehead,
my shadow shatters,
and I gather the pieces
and go with no body,
groping my way.

--Octavio Paz
Sunstone/Piedra De Sol

Friday, April 13, 2018

To Arrive You Must Walk

When you are on foot, to arrive you must walk. **

Miles Davis: On Green Dolphin Street

This time, there’s no question of freeing yourself from artifice to taste simple joys. Instead there is the promise of meeting a freedom head-on as an outer limit of the self and of the human, an internal overflowing of a rebellious Nature that goes beyond you. Walking can provoke these excesses: surfeits of fatigue that make the mind wander, abundances of beauty that turn the soul over, excesses of drunkenness on the peaks, the high passes (where the body explodes). Walking ends by awakening this rebellious, archaic part of us: our appetites become rough and uncompromising, our impulses inspired. Because walking puts us on the vertical axis of life: swept along by the torrent that rushes just beneath us. What I mean is that by walking you are not going to meet yourself. By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. Being someone is all very well for smart parties where everyone is telling their story, it’s all very well for psychologists’ consulting rooms. But isn’t being someone also a social obligation which trails in its wake – for one has to be faithful to the self-portrait – a stupid and burdensome fiction? The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life. **

Oscar Peterson / Milt Jackson: On Green Dolphin Street

But walking causes absorption. Walking interminably, taking in through your pores the height of the mountains when you are confronting them at length, breathing in the shape of the hills for hours at a time during a slow descent. The body becomes steeped in the earth it treads. And thus, gradually, it stops being in the landscape: it becomes the landscape. That doesn’t have to mean dissolution, as if the walker were fading away to become a mere inflection, a footnote. It’s more a flashing moment: sudden flame, time catching fire. And here, the feeling of eternity is all at once that vibration between presences. Eternity, here, in a spark. **

The Native Americans, whose wisdom Thoreau admired, regarded the Earth itself as a sacred source of energy. To stretch out on it brought repose, to sit on the ground ensured greater wisdom in councils, to walk in contact with its gravity gave strength and endurance.
The Earth was an inexhaustible well of strength: because it was the original Mother, the feeder, but also because it enclosed in its bosom all the dead ancestors.
It was the element in which transmission took place. Thus, instead of stretching their hands skyward to implore the mercy of celestial divinities, American Indians preferred to walk barefoot on the Earth: The Lakota was a true Naturist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest on the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing. That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him. Walking, by virtue of having the earth’s support, feeling its gravity, resting on it with every step, is very like a continuous breathing in of energy. But the earth’s force is not transmitted only in the manner of a radiation climbing through the legs. It is also through the coincidence of circulations: walking is movement, the heart beats more strongly, with a more ample beat, the blood circulates faster and more powerfully than when the body is at rest. And the earth’s rhythms draw that along, they echo and respond to each other. A last source of energy, after the heart and the Earth, is landscapes. They summon the walker and make him at home: the hills, the colors, the trees all confirm it. The charm of a twisting path among hills, the beauty of vine fields in autumn, like purple and gold scarves, the silvery glitter of olive leaves against a defining summer sky, the immensity of perfectly sliced glaciers … all these things support, transport and nourish us.

--Frédéric Gros
A Philosophy of Walking **

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Esoteric Spirituality

Charlie Parker: Parker's Mood

It is generally acknowledged that these very special floors were esteemed not only for their beauty and the richness of the colors and materials (including the priceless purple porphyry marble), but also for their esoteric spirituality. Much has been written about these mosaics by theologians, architects, and even mathematicians. In part, they give any sanctuary a feeling of space, rhythm, and flowing movement. Undoubtedly, they are also a meditational device, similar to the mazes and labyrinths popular in churches in the Middle Ages.
--Benjamin Blech
The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican

King Pleasure: Parker's Mood

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Scarlet Begonias Meets Don Quixote

Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is noble, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.
What giants? asked Sancho Panza.
The ones you can see over there, answered his master, with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.
Now look, your grace, said Sancho, what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.
Obviously, replied Don Quixote, you don't know much about adventures.
--Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quixote


Grateful Dead: 4/23/77...Scarlet Begonias meets Don Quixote

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Last Of The Silence

Natalie Merchant: The Man in the Wilderness

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free from noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it.
We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
--Wallace Stegner



Friday, March 30, 2018

A Keg Of Beer And An Accordion

Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 1

No. 4

I asked the professors
who teach the meaning of life
to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives
who boss the work
of thousands of men.
They all shook their heads
and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon
I wandered out along
the Desplaines River and
I saw a crowd of Hungarians
under the trees with
their women and children
and a keg of beer
and an accordion.
--Carl Sandburg

No. 5

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Elaboration Of The Original Vague Idea

Amazing Rhythm Aces: The End is Not in Sight

I must continue to follow
the path I take now.
If I do nothing,
if I study nothing,
if I cease searching,
then, woe is me, I am lost.
That is how I look at it
— keep going,
keep going come what may.
But what is your final goal,
you may ask.
That goal will become clearer,
will emerge slowly but surely,
much as the rough draft
turns into a sketch,
and the sketch into a painting
through the serious work done on it,
through the elaboration
of the original vague idea
and through the consolidation
of the first fleeting and passing thought.
--Vincent van Gogh


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Or Was It Several Centuries?

Jerry Garcia / David Grisman: So What...12/17/90

I took my pill at eleven.
I spent several minutes
or was it several centuries?
not merely gazing
at those bamboo legs,
but actually being them,
or rather being myself in them,
or, to be still more accurate
(for I was not involved
in the case,
nor in a certain sense
were they)
being my Not-self
in the Not-self
which was the chair.
--Aldous Huxley
The Doors of Perception

Saturday, March 17, 2018

She Is Reaching Out Her Arms Tonight


Look, said Whiskey Jack.
This is not a good country for gods. My people figured that out early on. There are creator spirits who found the earth or made it or shit it out, but you think about it: who’s going to worship Coyote? He made love to Porcupine Woman and got his dick shot through with more needles than a pincushion. He’d argue with rocks and the rocks would win. So, yeah, my people figured that maybe there’s something at the back of it all, a creator, a great spirit, and so we say thank you to it, because it’s always good to say thank you. But we never built churches. We didn’t need to. The land was the church. The land was the religion. The land was older and wiser than the people who walked on it. It gave us salmon and corn and buffalo and passenger pigeons. It gave us wild rice and walleye. It gave us melon and squash and turkey. And we were the children of the land, just like the porcupine and the skunk and the blue jay.
--Neil Gaiman
American Gods

Tom Russell: Guadalupe

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Seeing A Far Light On The Horizon

Tony Rice: John Wilkes Booth

The end of the war
was like the beginning,
with the army marching
down the open road
under the spring sky,
seeing a far light
on the horizon.
Many lights had died
in the windy dark
but far down the road
there was always a gleam,
and it was as if
a legend had been created
to express some obscure truth
that could not
otherwise be stated.
Everything had changed,
the war and the men
and the land they fought for,
but the road ahead had not changed.
It went on through the trees and past the little towns and over the hills, and there was no getting to the end of it. The goal was a going-towards rather than an arriving, and from the top of the next rise there was always a new vista. The march toward it led through wonder and terror and deep shadows, and the sunlight touched the flags at the head of the column.
--Bruce Catton
A Stillness at Appomattox

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Strange Tale Of Panorama Island

Thelonious Monk Quartet: 'Round Midnight

After seeing the various fantastic sights, a visitor to Panorama Island would have had to gasp in amazement at this unsurpassable view. He would have had the impression that the entire island was a rose floating on the vast ocean and that the giant scarlet flower of an opium dream was conversing on an equal footing with the sun in the sky, just the two of them. What kind of strange beauty had that incomparable simplicity and grandeur created? Some travelers might have recalled the world of myth that their distant ancestors had seen...

How can the author describe the madness and debauchery, the pleasures of revelry and drunkenness, the numberless games of life and death that were played day and night on that magnificent stage? You readers might find something that resembled it, in part, in your most fantastic, bloodiest, and most beautiful nightmares.
--Edogawa Rampo
Strange Tale of Panorama Island

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