Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Up Shit Creek with an Architect

yesterday i found myself canoeing on the well swollen connecticut river in
the midst of this peculiar climate's annual state of autumnal
the banks were eroding on account of the microburst rainstorms that we
had the night before. this had the double benefit of not only covering
up the otherwise (unsightly) muddy banks but also filling the river
with enough delightful assemblages of (turbine clogging) woody
debris that we were left alone for hours on an otherwise boat-free
along the way, my wayfaring, wayward and oft philandering friend, matt and
i pursued some impressive beavers, slalomed driftwood, and extracted,
then salvaged, a long capsized 15' canoe. but it took about 20 minutes
after passing by some campesino encampment on one of the deedless
islands before the revelation came upon me:
why not throw a party on one of the islands? and why not a wild, gypsy
carnival sort of affair, with one of the local romani-styled bands
playing? and why not ferry party goers to the island by canoes gilded
by the breathing light of oil lanterns?
(indeed, why not?)
matt, a creative sort-- playwright, actor, conspirator in the new
england secession movement, and brooklyn home renovator-- then offered
the generous proposal of building a raft for much of the anticipated
bedlam to transpire. (he, being a werner herzog fan, is an admirer of
"aguirre, wrath of god", and also proposed a group reading of klaus
kinski's role. i offered "fitzcaraldo", but eventually bowed to aguirre).

and, here, my dear friend, is where things began to become complicated.

you see, there was only enough room on the roof of his car for his
(very fine) boat, not for the neon orange abomination we'd rescued. so
we called my friend, eric, who happened to live nearby in northampton
and who owns a truck. after all, it's black out now, and we haven't
the time or energy for superhuman feats or unconventional
boat-mounting arrangements. so eric arrives shortly and the next
milestone of the day takes place as we realize that we don't have any
extra rope or webbing (and the length of grape vine i'd cut for a tow
line earlier had already been disposed of in the currents streaming past the
boat dock where we took landing).
thus, we found ourselves lying in the wet bed of a pick up
truck, clutching desperately onto the rusted gunwhales of an inverted watercraft
with the sort of thrill which only comes in those certain instances of life
that threaten to leave you abandoned and mortally wounded along some
county highway-- or, alternatively, arrested, hungry and unexpectedly embarrassed to
be wearing your one pair of red and orange striped thong underwear on
the one day of your life you also happen to have been incarcerated.
but none of this is even the point.
the point is that nary an hour later we all find ourselves at a local
watering hole, tired, wet on our backs (yet somehow not lacking our
penguin edition joyce and beckett), and thrilled again at the prospect
of building a raft and organizing a bohemian island event. paper is
requested from the bar. pens are withdrawn from front pockets. the
dance of lines and banter of ideas begins.

five minutes later, irreconcilable differences emerge:
-damn architect.
-damn builder. and, hey, i may yet become a doctor.
-why do you have to complicate things?
-it's actually not complicated. same materials. same cuts. plus it's
better, it's sensible, and it's fitting.
why are you so scared of doing something 5% different than the hundred
other times you've built something?
half an hour extra labor, max.
-you see, this is what you architects always try to do. you meddle.
you muscle. you think you matter.
-no, carpenter. why don't you think positively? why don't you consider
how people would like to inhabit a space?
-not the point, prima donna.
-indeed, it is, simpleton.
-drama queen.
-prom queen.
-"the fool doth think he is wise..."

etc. etc.

we're trying to overcome our differing attitudes and aspects and sail the
essential kernel of our once-dream to port.
this thing better come together in the next two weeks before the
weather kills even that final germ of hope.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Argh-itecture Might Suck, But the People are Great

Well, it's not "film" but I suppose it might qualify as "video".

In either case, this is my first video ever, made from footage taken from my cheap digital camera.
Not the greatest thing ever-- it's certainly no lasting contribution to the world-- but then again, this is only the credits chapter to a larger film that some of my incoming classmates and I did as documentation of our first days of exploring Vancouver, BC.
(The soundtrack is not our creation: it's Irfan, Les Ogres de Barback, "Niev Nietch Nevitch". Thomas, Camille et Manu, merci!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yes, This Man With the Sharp Teeth Loves The Woman With The Beautiful Eyes

The Better To See You With, My Dear.

And The Better To Pounce With, My Darling.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When Bojana's Gone, We're All that's Left

 Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en sus baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas la están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.

Verde que te quiero verde.
Grandes estrellas de escarcha,
vienen con el pez de sombra
que abre el camino del alba.
La higuera frota su viento
con la lija de sus ramas,
y el monte, gato garduño,
eriza sus pitas agrias.
¿Pero quién vendrá? ¿Y por dónde...?
Ella sigue en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
soñando en la mar amarga.

Compadre, quiero cambiar
mi caballo por su casa,
mi montura por su espejo,
mi cuchillo por su manta.
Compadre, vengo sangrando,
desde los puertos de Cabra.
Si yo pudiera, mocito,
este trato se cerraba.
Pero yo ya no soy yo,
Ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Compadre, quiero morir
decentemente en mi cama.
De acero, si puede ser,
con las sábanas de holanda.
¿No ves la herida que tengo
desde el pecho a la garganta?
Trescientas rosas morenas
lleva tu pechera blanca.
Tu sangre rezuma y huele
alrededor de tu faja.
Pero yo ya no soy yo.
Ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Dejadme subir al menos
hasta las altas barandas,
¡dejadme subir!, dejadme
hasta las verdes barandas.
Barandales de la luna
por donde retumba el agua.

Ya suben los dos compadres
hacia las altas barandas.
Dejando un rastro de sangre.
Dejando un rastro de lágrimas.
Temblaban en los tejados
farolillos de hojalata.
Mil panderos de cristal,
herían la madrugada.

Verde que te quiero verde,
verde viento, verdes ramas.
Los dos compadres subieron.
El largo viento, dejaba
en la boca un raro gusto
de hiel, de menta y de albahaca.
¡Compadre! ¿Dónde está, dime?
¿Dónde está tu niña amarga?
¡Cuántas veces te esperó!
¡Cuántas veces te esperara,
cara fresca, negro pelo,
en esta verde baranda!

Sobre el rostro del aljibe
se mecía la gitana.
Verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Un carábano de luna
la sostiene sobre el agua.
La noche se puso íntima
como una pequeña plaza.
Guardias civiles borrachos
en la puerta golpeaban.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Discomfort and Pleasure, Just Short of Fascism

Among other pursuits, I coach high school wrestling.

This past weekend was the sectional individual wrestling championship tournament, which serves as the culmination of an entire season for many members of the team.

In a room humid with evaporated sweat and echoing with the hoarse voices of thousands of screaming fans and participants of the massive spectacle of flash and flesh, there is little space remaining for profound observation. However, one thing that becomes readily apparent to even the casual observer is the fine line that exists between joy and sorrow, pride and pain, humanity and savagery.

It hardly takes more than one close match, pairing two nervous but motivated opponents squaring off against each other: one toils to push his opponent to the limit, to test his strengths and weaknesses, while in the process necessarily nearing his own brink of strength, control and sanity. Often in the course of such a match, these thresholds are passed, and unintended signs of madness, unbridled power, or bad judgment appear. Wounds are inflicted, dignities affronted, and well hidden latent character is highlighted.

Yet at the end of the match, these two young men, who've attempted to exorcise their own inner demons whilst doing small battle with a willing opponent, shake hands with their combatant (and often offering a voluntary embrace), before trotting across the mat to shake hands with coaches of the opposite corner.

With bruises, scratches, or blood adorning his physical self, he must now turn inward and face himself privately. Usually what pleasure or frustration he finds waiting there is not born from the final score at the end of the match, but instead is the result of his effort: Did he work as hard as he could have, given the circumstances of the match? Had he worked hard enough, and with enough focus, in his preparation for the match? Did he pair his physical effort with an appropriate, optimizing, mental effort?

The fact is, no matter the score, there is immense pleasure in hard work, particularly if it is self-elected. There are hundreds of explanations and elaborations upon this point, but rather than offering the matter up to Rilke, holy texts, Freud, or Foucault, I'll redirect this question toward a hale Dutchman, an amateur cyclist, the lucid author Tim Krabbé, The Rider (1978):

“The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you’. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.”

(The novel's paragraph is excerpted from text on the website of the world's premier luxe-retro cycling clothes purveyor, Rapha).