11 August 2020

"Poetic License"

 a summer like no other. so much sorrow & death. so any personal disappointment seems trivial.

however one of the events I was most looking forward to was the art exhibition "Poetic License" at the Palm Desert campus of UC Riverside.  abt a year ago curator Terry Hastings askd me to write a suite of poems. then artists were given the poems for response. an opening was on schedule for june. I was to read my work with the art on the walls around me.  a poet's dream.

in an attempt to save the spirit of the event Terry put together an online exhibition/reading. I wrote 9 poems. the first 4 were coverd in a Zoom presentation which is now available on You Tube here.  then the final poems were on another episode here.

this was not what I expectd this summer. but no one expectd what we got. & if I didn't get a reading before faces beside actual art this will have to do. & it's still one of the lovely moments in a sad summer. I'm grateful to Terry & to all the artists who took my words & flew with them.


26 July 2020

"box of little bags"




box:

wooden box originally containing Walker Shortbread Cookies. since I didn’t write on the box when I got it I’ve forgotten its details. I suspect it was a distant Xmas gift from either Nancy & Paul Metcalf or Billy Berger. when I chose it for this piece it was full of ribbons & twine & hidden in Charlie Carrillo’s candle box on top of my refrigerator.


contents:

1.   “the sauna penny” found at World Gym. Palm Springs 29 nov 2018.
2.   miniature gingerbread man which was in hand of a larger gingerbread man. Ron Oliver’s Xmas open house. Palm Springs 2018.
3.   “Laughlin nickel.” rec’d as change from breakfast at Duet in Aquarius Resort. 5 feb 2019.
4.   fleck fallen off Superflex’s Desert X installation “Dive-In.”  Palm Desert 7 mar 2019.
5.   piece fallen off Kathleen Ryan’s Desert X installation “Ghost Palm.” Desert Hot Springs 9 mar 2019.
6.   bit of “Into the Sea” cake from my Galleria Marconi reading. Palm Springs 24 apr 2019.
7.   snippet of gold braid worn for Terry Hastings’ shoot for “The Planets.” Cathedral City 8 may 2019.
8.   bark from tree on Ernie Maxwell Trail. Idyllwild 2 aug 2019.
9.   sliver of R.B. Sprague oil painting discarded by artist.
10.                 turf from Santiago Resort. Palm Springs 30 aug 2019.
11.                 item 3 from CinemaScent card for “Steam Room Stories.”  Cinema Diverse. Palm Springs 21 sept 2019.
12.                 fairy dust from “Peter Pan” at Palm Canyon Theater. Palm Springs 27 sept 2019.
13.                 piece of “that shirt.” 13 oct 2019.
14.                 strands from pink wig worn to Todd Hughes & P. David Ebersole’s glam rock party at King’s Point.  Palm Springs 20 dec 2019.
15.                 daisy taken from table centerpiece at Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala & worn to after parties at The Parker & Georgio’s. Palm Springs 2 jan 2020.
16.                 palm frond debris. San Andreas Springs Oasis 25 jan 2020.
17.                 thread from shorts tailord for me by Cesar Julio. Palm Springs 4 mar 2020.
18.                 piece of stem of flower placed between my teeth which was inspiration for poem “Pandemic Rose” & then used in “Pandemic Rose Collage.” Palm Springs 21 mar 2020.
19.                 peel from tangerine pickd in Billie Dove’s front yard. Palm Springs 24 mar 2020.
20.                 Sherman’s sticker from box holding a double fudge cake given to me by Estee Huff for my 77th birthday. Palm Springs 25 apr 2020.
21.                 scrap of spine that fell off as I was reading Gary Snyder in my tatterd batterd copy of The New American Poetry 1945-1960 on his 90th birthday.  Palm Springs 8 may 2020.
22.                 Aneka Brown sticker from packaging for her anti-racism tee-shirt.  Palm Springs 16 june 2020.
23.                 leaf removed from pool during morning swim.  Palm Springs 24 july 2020.




20 July 2020

"Kim Novak at 87"




for Richard Lopez

she's a decade
older than me

when I first
saw her on screen
I was 12
& she was old enuf
to make love 
to Guy Madison
& a year later
to Bill Holden

we were both
too young
to contemplate
outliving our leading men

today
she releases
an image
for our times

hard to tell
if it's a photo
softend with filters
or one of the paintings
that kept her sane

all in reds
except for the mask
in her favorite lavender

she still has
movie star hair
& o those eyes

& then this message:
"I feel like staying around
on this earth
for a while longer.
so please
wear a mask
if not for YOU
then for ME."

one more time
Kim becomes
the face
of an era
& I'm 12 again
watching the sparkles
in her hair
rime with the jewels
on her shoulder strap


"Five Against the House"

27 June 2020

in terms of Covid I live in one of our 3 worst states. & in Riverside County which is second only to LA County for number of cases. Republicans blame this on Mexicans. they don't seem to see the throngs of rude tourists who come to play without rules.

in the last day or 2 several restaurants & bars in town have closed back down because of sick employees. the grapevine claims there are at least 10 more with employees who got sick but aren't closing.

the country is being ostracized by the world because of our mismanagement of this crisis. the president cowers in fear -- not wearing a mask because it will smear his makeup. his enablers refuse to speak up.

in 3 years we've become a shit hole country. I don't mind that I'm in my 4th month of strict quarantine to save myself & protect others. but I do mind having to live in this stench.

07 June 2020

on my morning walk

my mind stuck on the barrels of photos on social media. people -- sans masks -- hugging in restaurants & laughing in bars. did I not get the memo that the pandemic was over? am I the last person in town still sheltering in place?

maybe the stats I read remain unknown to my fellow citizens. I understand the economy requires a reopening of businesses. but nothing requires me to act as anyone but me.

& as I walkd I felt buoyd by the strength of solitude. I began to see these 3 months of quarantine as a blessing. a chance to withdraw from the din & purpose oneself. I see myself more clearly & I see which friends are really friends.

& as I walkd Thoreau suddenly appeard to me. so when I got home I sat in Gertrude Duryea's rocker with a mug of java & read the beginning of Walden. I'd forgotten that he lived alone in the woods for 2 years & 2 months. but I cd see the value that comes with such a communion with oneself. & how life affirming are his words.

so I'm content with my decision to eschew the stampede to public outings. & I'm firm in rejecting the bullying I'm beginning to get for not responding to invitations to dine.  when Thoreau finishd his experiment & began his writing he reflectd: "At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again." at present I'm happy to be where I am.

at Walden Pond (1966)

01 June 2020

"The Nite the Lights Went Out at the White House"

fires outside his window
so the president
cowers in a bunker
wetting his diaper

a sick nation
coughs
droplets of shame

15 May 2020

"Pens That Don't Write"

it takes a pandemic
to get to some projects

today
I tackled a drawer
full of pens
those that work
remain in the drawer
those out of ink
ready to toss
but
the sentimentalist in me
wasn't ready

so I made art

I stuck
a baker's dozen
in a pillow
& now have
"Pen Cushion"


for the record:
the pens are from
Algonquin (NYC)
Burnham Hotel (Chicago)
Canterbury Hotel (San Francisco)
Chelsea Savoy (NYC)
Clifford House (Cleveland)
Colonial House (NYC)
Desert Paradise (Palm Springs)
Monterey Bay Inn (Monterey)
Parker House (San Francisco)
The Phoenician (Scottsdale)
Poe Museum (Richmond)
La Posada (Albuquerque)
Rio (Las Vegas)
















04 May 2020

John Ericson (1926-2020)

I'd seen John Ericson at several of those big awards events I went to at the Beverly Hilton but we didn't meet til the summer of 1994. I'd moved to Santa Fe only abt 10 weeks when I went to a party for my friend James Broughton. the poet/filmmaker was in town & a new friend who was an art patron brought together many of the city's movers & shakers to meet him & see a screening of his most famous film "The Bed."

soon I was seeing a lot of John & his wife the actress Karen Huston. they were at both the first & last party at my adobe house on Brother Abdon. 

I've known so many actors in my life. they all have/had thriving egos. but John was different. he was realistic abt a long career which included success on Broadway as well as in film & television. he was honest & kind. as much as I tried to pry gossip out of him he was always the gentleman. he had a sweet sense of humor & I loved sharing laughter with him.

I remember one time he calld me & askd what I was doing that evening. I told him I was going to an art opening. he sd he had a friend in town & wd meet me there. that friend turnd out to be Anne Francis. he was delightd to refer to himself as Sam Bolt & to her as Honey West.

I haven't returnd to Santa Fe since I moved to Palm Springs. so my last contact with John was on the phone. we always found something positive & if possible humorous to discuss. I'll miss you my friend.


27 April 2020

everything old is new again

I just read a Facebook post from someone who was suddenly appalld that he'd spent 5 minutes watching a livestream of someone cutting his hair.

I immediately rememberd the mid to late '90s. there were some people who set up webcams in their homes which wd come on either from time to time or stayd on almost all day. a whole group of gay men -- including myself -- became addictd to watching what we calld cam boys or cam ops & historically became known as lifecasters.  there were Sean Patrick & Rex & Soren & Puppy & others. what we got in those days were glimpses of a life & not the porn by request which it apparently evolved into.

I became known as Poet Laureate of the Cam Boys because of poems I wrote abt them.  here's the first of a sequence calld "Refreshing Pages."

WATCHING SEAN PATRICK SLEEP

every 30 seconds he flashes on my monitor
like a Muybridge series
or a Warhol film stuck in the projector

guilty as Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window"
I observe a liftd leg
a hand jerk to cover crotch

I examine folds in the blue sheet
that covers him
like an art historian studying Zurbaran

this is hypnotism by design
as I loose sleep
watching a stranger sleep

(aug 1998)

there was an AOL chat room for fans of the cam boys. we'd often alert each other when a particular fave was undressing or whatever.  I met some dandy chaps there -- guys who are still friends. I was even interviewd by filmmaker Ron Pajak in Las Vegas for a documentary which never got made.

so this pandemic has brought us back to a place we were over 20 years ago.  I'm still friends on Facebook with Rex. last I heard & that's been some time Soren was a bartender in San Francisco. I have no idea what's happend to all the other cam boys. wonder if any of them are watching folks livestreaming the ordinary in these extraordinary times.






25 April 2020

"Pandemic Rose"

abt 5 weeks ago I wrote a poem with this name. I took a photo of myself with the title rose.



being an archivist I allowd the rose to dry so I cd save the memory. being an artist I decided to use its dried petals for a piece.

I think this is the first time an art piece has the same name as a poem. in a way they're interlockd. what I did was to put one petal each into 20 envelopes. the envelopes were from hotels I'd stayd at in days past. I chose this because most hotels are closed & travel is on hold.

here are the hotels:

Alexander Inn (Philadelphia)
Algonquin (NYC)
Avenue Plaza (New Orleans)
Chateau Marmont (Hollywood)
Clifford House (Cleveland)
Empire (NYC)
Grande Bretagne (Athens)
Harper Lodge (Denali Park)
Lexington (NYC)
McKinley (Denali Park)
The Mark (NYC)
Mark Spencer (Portland)
Othon Palace (Rio)
Paramount (NYC)
La Posada (Albuquerque)
La Posada (Santa Fe)
Quality Inn (Chicago)
Rio (Las Vegas)
Tamaya Resort (Santa Ana Pueblo)
El Tovar (Grand Canyon)

I have been in no building but my house for the past 6 weeks. I don't know when I'll return to a post office. so I don't know right now how & to whom I'll distribute these.






24 April 2020

readings

the Cellar was a black box theater in the basement of the Music & Speech Building on the Kent State campus. as far as I can remember this was where I read my poems before an audience for the first time. I think maybe 1968.

in the more than half century since I've read from one coast (the venerable Bowery Poetry Center) to the other (Fort Mason in San Francisco) with stops in between. the audiences from been of varying sizes but in the long run probably small. I've also read individual poems on You Tube. the first was 13 years ago & has had over a thousand hits.

the last reading I did was one year ago tonite. it was captured on film. since that film has had more than a thousand views it's easily my largest audience for a full reading.

22 April 2020

update

altho I've been quiet here my life remains vibrant. as glamorous as my life seems to some it's my inner life that has always been the most exciting. & I'm listening more carefully & feeling more deeply as this crisis continues. I'm putting together a book of poems from this period. have a dozen already. yes I miss a great deal that has been canceld but I can't control that.

so after my morning walk I did a bit of writing. then I showerd & put on sexy underwear. I'll make today fun. my best to all who are struggling. to borrow from Bette Davis "I'd kiss ya but I just washd my hair."

"Pandemic Self Portrait"

09 April 2020

"words too are a dance"

I wrote a short poem for the program for the Palm Springs International Dance Festival Gala. & like all other such events it was cancel'd because of the pandemic. however on the day it was supposed to be I postd the poem on Facebook.

this morning after my walk & breakfast on the patio I turnd on the computer. I checkd FB & found this wonderful piece Wallace Colvard did using my little poem.

thank you Wallace. & stay safe. let's have lunch when this is all over.


04 April 2020

normally I fall asleep & wake 7 hours later.

however this is such weird territory I've been waking a couple times during the nite.

29 March 2020

another sunday morning in isolation

persimmon cinnamon pancakes
Italian dark roast coffee
Mahler's First

it cd be worse

25 March 2020

tea party for one

"shelter in place" is one of the slogans of this pandemic. it takes both strength & creativity.

the only time I leave the house is to walk. & my mind uses that time for gymnastics. the other day it came up with my hummingbird poem. & as if in response to that I rememberd Mom's hummingbird teapot.  it's not my style but I do like the bird on the handle. I took it out of its hiding place & decided to throw myself a tea party.

I don't drive so the garage is a big empty space. altho not so inviting it's almost a new space since I'm rarely in it. & with door open it's not so bad. so I set up a small table & brought out a favorite wood chair. it had been left in the basement when I moved into the house on Morris Rd in Kent. I brought it to Santa Fe where I used it in my office. it was one of the few pieces of furniture I also brought to Palm Springs. however it doesn't fit here. so it stays in the garage.

I made orange tea in the pot. served in a cup brought from Greece. with a plate of orange cantuccini from Sienna. it was a bright moment on this day.



















20 March 2020

"Pandemic Rose Collage"



what's left of the rose from my last posting
with a trio of Mom's necklaces

17 March 2020

woke feeling gloomy

but I forced myself out into the dark morning. I don't feel old but my ID reveals I'm in the high risk category. so my personal decision is to home isolate. my condo community is a whole city block so I'm able to leave the house to walk.

& this morning was quite glorious. as the sun rose I saw my beautiful mountains. from the beginning they have been a source of strength & inspiration. I listend to birds sing their Top 10. I even startled a pair of ducks at one of the pools. I breathd deeply as I walkd by blooming citrus trees.

when I returnd I ground what's close to the last of my coffee beans. the aroma of brewing coffee is heaven. I pourd the rich brown into my Trevor Wayne naked men mug & had my own little orgy. then I shaved for the first time in a week & gave myself a lavender salt facial. I look so good I may have to date myself. I showerd with nearly the last of my Temecula olive oil soap. then I put on my sexiest underwear & dressd as if the paparazzi were at my door.

with my history of depression I don't where I'll be after 2 months of home isolation. but I'm not alone. so many elders are "sheltering in place." some of us won't make it thru the pandemic. but I've got so much creating still to do. since the government offers no hope I must find it in myself. I plan on working & being fabulous -- even after the coffee runs out & there's no cake in the freezer.

my love to all . . .



10 March 2020

when I was a child

I had this theory that mirrors captured all that happens before them. that we need to find a way to unlock their film.

05 March 2020

to those who orderd my book

printing has taken longer than expectd. however the publisher has rec'd copies from the printer & orders are going in the mail.

thank you all.

03 March 2020

never before

have I walkd into my voting booth
without knowing for whom I wd cast my ballot

14 February 2020

a new book

my official bibliography was publishd 27 years ago. the A section is my books & at that time the number was 40. I haven't countd but I presume the current number at least doubles that.

some of the books are small. as a proper father I shd like each equally. but my reaction to each is individual. & I admit that some are more significant to me than others.

however a book is abt to appear which is special. Alex in Movieland (1943-1973) is the first installment of an epic work. since it is my life as a list I've been living it forever. & I've been writing it for what seems as long. the actual writing startd over a quarter century ago. but the idea came before that.

it's not an easy work to categorize. it's sort of the love child of autobiography & conceptual art. I'll let others decide where it fits -- that is if it fits. but for me it's as major as it gets. I expect that I'll be writing the last line of it as my breath departs my body.

& what a better day than Valentine's Day for this book to be announced to the world.  my love & appreciation to John Burroughs of Crisis Chronicles Press for bringing it out. & you my dear friends may purchase it here.


05 February 2020

a dark day

the criminal in the White House is acquittd by a Senate of cowards with the blessing of a spineless Chief Justice.

it ain't just Iowa that's broken.

27 January 2020

dream portrait




net sculpture by Megan Evans
photo by Estee Huff
reenvisiond by Wallace Colvard

22 January 2020

50 years ago today

I shiverd in a frigid Ohio winter to observe Robert Smithson create "Partially Buried Woodshed."  the piece became part of my life.

Nancy Holt suggestd to Richard Martin that I write abt the piece for his Smithson issue of "Arts." my cover article in 1978 is probably my most read prose work. & my subsequent friendship with Martin was a blessing.




abt the same time I was filmd at the woodshed for the French tv series "L'Aventure de L'art Moderne." I have no idea if I'm in the finishd work.

I was also interviewd by a reporter from the New York Times abt the work. I was part of a symposium abt it sponsord by Kent's school of art. & I was at Mark Bloch's performance piece there.

in 2002 I found a pair of Old Navy boxers there. they are now part of my piece "Underwear in a Box."

Daily Kent Stater 1975









Lainard Bush photographd me at what's left of the piece in 2014