The summer seems a long ways off right about now.
25 February 2011
A lot of times...the the purest reality comes from something presented as fiction. Some old myths and old stories have reality inside them. They drop deep truth you can't get in a news report or a history book.
For me, the Bible was the first thing that got me interested in finding the real truth in stories. When I was little, I spent a few years down South, where I was raised Baptist. I went to church, learned about Jesus. But when I got to be about seven, I moved back to Brooklyn, and my mother gave me a kids' version of Bible stories. I must have read that over fifty times. It sparked something in me.
The Old Testament is where all the magic happens. Joseph, Moses, Noah - they're all magical stories. But it's also about murders, wars, violence - it's real. They're all real stories about a couple of mighty niggas against a lot of odds.
Right away, I was sucked in. Solomon, how he's going to cut the baby in half to solve a dispute? Samson, how his hair was the source of his strength? When I read about Samson, I wanted braids because I felt I had something in common with him. As a man, I realize it wasn't really his hair; it was what it represented. It was his true self.
As I get older, I read the Bible and I get something different out of it each time. I read it now and I think about cities that were destroyed by falling rocks, like Sodom and Gomorrah. That's a funny story. They were so fucked up that shit had to fall from the sky on these niggas.
- The RZA (excerpted from The Wu-Tang Manual)
23 February 2011
22 February 2011
16 February 2011
Number Five in a Series: I wrote/illustrated a small book for Eleanor in which this character plays a central role. His name, in that book, was "The Ice Monster," and he puts fear in the hearts of small mammals. Actually, though, he lives at the base of my spine and represents the Fear Trap of Mankind. He's a distant cousin of the quark and Escher's bevy of creepy, crosseyed flatworms. The less said about This One, the better.
06 February 2011
Last night I watched Poltergeist, a movie that messed. me. up. when I was a kid. Know what I didn't realize at the time? It's a morality tale about greed and ruination and helpin yer fellow man. Minus all the special effects, the basic story is that an ex-hippie real estate agent gets straight served by the astral realm (it's some "Scarface"-type shit, too - ghastly spirits actually abduct his daughter and hold her hostage). But more than anything, this movie really made me wonder - how come cinematic pot-smoking was so popular in the '80's? I mean, it seems like every "PG-13" and "R" rated movie from back then has at least one scene where somebody casually lights up a j. In Poltergeist, it happens early on, when Carol Anne's mom and dad are just hanging out in their room alone, after all the kiddies have been tucked in. The mom, "Diane," blazes through two joints while her dad (the incomparable Craig T. Nelson) does isometrics.
04 February 2011
Tomorrow I'm showing my students Howl, which is a documentary about James Franco, a gay, Jewish poet who really knew his way around a harmonium. Yes, I've seen it. And no, it's not bad...assuming you have learned to watch movies with a greedy eye towards their pedagogical value (it's a teacher's habit, I think, and a mostly self-serving one - sort of like when certain little old ladies pocket Sweet & Low packets when they go out for their tuna sandwiches and hot Lipton). Howl is 1 hr. 24 min., and totally justifiable. I mean, it's one of the few poems I teach my students that has an accompanying feature film.... It's not like I get to be all, you know: "Okay, guys, today we're gonna take a cinematic look at Gerard Manley Hopkins' most famous poem, then watch CGI's The Windhover, starring Val Kilmer's voice." Caw! Caw!
A little over a year ago, I detailed what I thought was a perfect (snow) storm. But what happened here at the beginning of the week was truly, verily the real McCoy. The whole town shut down. No one left their house. It took two days for us to get the sidewalk and car shoveled out!