Saturday, December 5, 2015

My soul doth magnify the Lord

The light is from my camera flash, making it all the more interesting to me.

I found this picture at a yard sale on a beautiful Spring day in the month of May about 15 years ago.  It is of course, a depiction of Mary, Mother of Jesus.  I don’t know the name of the artist who painted it.  I was not initially attracted to the picture, which was on the front lawn of a modest house in a modest neighborhood and propped up against an old chair.  Still, because I appreciate and collect religious art and artifacts, my eyes went directly to it when they could have been drawn anywhere by all the many odds and ends that were spread out on table tops, leaning against trees, displayed on porch steps and stacked in cardboard boxes on the ground.  When the young woman who was holding the yard sale noticed my attention focused on the picture, she walked over to me and told me that the picture once belonged to her aunt who was a Roman Catholic nun, and that it was her aunt’s favorite picture of Mary.  I was sold.  I gave her the $5.00 she was asking, tucked the heavy framed and under glass print under my arm, and began walking back to the home of my daughter who lived a few blocks away. 

I had been visiting my daughter earlier in the day, and it was she who told me about the yard sale.   I had only walked a few yards back toward her home when I was surprised by the appearance of my 17 year old grandson James, who, taking the picture from me said, “Here, let me carry this for you.”   From that moment the picture began to mount in significance.  He was my first grandchild; a tall, thin, brilliant, beautiful, and very troubled young man, and he took pleasure in showing me a shortcut.   It gave me a bittersweet joy to see him carrying the Mother of Jesus down the street, through an alley, and over a wooden foot bridge that arched across a shallow creek.  I felt as if I was witnessing something very unusual, very profound, very holy.  

This year we lost James, on August 29. "He called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday," said his father.  His mother bought him some nice clothes; a blue shirt,  gray trousers, an elegant silk necktie, blue suede shoes.  "Jim always liked nice clothes," she said. The priest anointed him, and told us, "All of his sins have been forgiven.  He is with Jesus now." 

Lenny Bruce is not afraid ......

Lenny Bruce 1963 by Martin Konopacki

 The Pot Smokers by Lenny Bruce
The following is a pictorial and written thesis on the dread narcotic, Cannabis sativa: also known - in the idiom of those poor souls who are involved with this living death - as pot, grass, mota, yelba, or the very clandestine "my friend," or "anything" over the 'phone to avoid detection: "Did your friend get in yet?" or "Did he get in yet?" or the vulgarity, "Is anything happening?"

Russell Dreck sat in his room in a hypnotic trance, unaware that the cobwebs in the plant his mother had given him for Easter had gotten out of hand. He sat there dejected, listless, pepless, and - the most tragic of all to a warped mind - potless.

He hadn't touched his baton for a week. His boots and tassels lay in the corner, unused. Hmm, he's wearing those sandals again that the beatnik gave him.

Russell's mother knew there was something wrong with Russell. She and the seventeen year old had, up to now, been inseparable. His indifference was a cold stab to his poor mother's heart, but a relief to his father, who was damn lonesome.

One night, Russell wasn't listening to The Answer Man with his mother, as they had done for years. Mrs Dreck looked over at her husband, who was viciously breaking the foremast inside of Russell's ship-in-the-bottle.

"I wonder where Russell is. It's time for The Answer Man; he'll be on in a minute," Mrs Dreck said bravely, biting back the tears.

"Why don't you ask him? He knows all the goddamn answers."

What Happened To Russell?

Russell just tried it once, on a dare. "The man came around the schoolyard" - an extremely esoteric bit of information, because the real big pushers have spread around the fable, "Just ask any jazz musician." Schoolyards are the place where most of the marijuana is sold. In fact, a stranger can go into any town, into any schoolyard during recess; and when the teacher says, "Do you want milk?" you reply, "No." And then the man comes up and gives you a free marijuana. That's why you see the whole classroom with the children's heads on their desks, napping (idiom in the underworld: nodding).

Russell's mother decided to call he older son, Steve. Although he was not as sensitive as Russell, he was lucky: he loved the outdoors and could never fall prey to the tomb-like existence that befell his brother. Steve loved the open country. His mother called him up in Oregon, where he was selling shingles and siding. He not only liked to live outside, but he liked to sell things that fit on the outside. (Some narrow-minded authorities had put some of his friends on the inside, but that's another book.)

Steve listened to his mother's impassioned tale of the bearded beatnik and his bother's grapple with Satan. Steve went out to avenge his brother. Steve was arrested several months later by local authorities, upon the insistence of the B'nai B'rith, after breaking the jaws of two Rabbis whom he mistook for beatniks. He discovered this too late when, instead of spouting Kerouac, they screamed "Givalt!"

Steve could have been helped if his mother had known the terms that are part of the idiomatic fog that veils the user...

... stumble into the idiomatic fog or return to Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid 

UKCIA Pot Culture

Vado, vado, io sono andato

Sick bay whispers of treaties oblique
Battle fatigue sets in
I mark time on the corner, transparent
Buses unload camouflaged hostages
Old soldiers shovel the snow
Nobody beats the draft

Troops pour into my gristmill encampment
I shove down the roughage and debate my weight
Belching exhausted, disabled veterans
Army boots beat my head into shape
All in a day’s war
The pentagon wants my autograph
The children are calling me Joe

Down by the river the fleet verifies me
We consciously move in an unconscious stream
Forces uncharted, unenvied, uncouth
Dribbling victory, run down my chin
Fill up my boots with your strategy
My union suit is full of holes
My phantom flesh is soggy
ctc (Leocadia)


Friday, December 4, 2015

Today is a wonderful day

Carson McCullers:
"Writing, for me, is a search for God." 

Today I became my own friend and follower.  I can't tell you how special it feels.  It's like having two of me.  I always wanted to be my own best friend and follow myself around; I didn't know it could be so easy.  I thought the authorities would give me a hard time, tell me it couldn't be done.  I hope I don't get on my nerves; it seems a bit like breathing down my own neck, or looking at myself from over my own shoulder.  It says down there on the right of the page that I am a member, not just a friend and a follower, but a member! Imagine that.  Not only am I my coat, but the lining of my coat too. Me and my feet inside my shoes can follow myself down the street to see where I'm going.     This brings to mind one of my favorite stories: The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers.
"It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid."

In the film version of this story, Frankie is played by 27 year old Julie Harris.
Here she is with Ethel Waters and Carson McCullough during a break.

By the way, Ethel Waters is not buried in my back yard. Well, not exactly my back yard, but in the cemetery on the other side of the fence that runs across my back yard. No, she is not there. I mention this only because for the longest time, up until a few minutes ago when I checked on her whereabouts at Find A Grave I believed that she was back there. I believed that because someone, I can't remember who, told me so. I have to work on my tendency to believe what I'm told. I am certain though, that Bessie Smith is back there, but that's another story. Ethel is another story too. Actually, this story started out being about me, so I suppose you could say that Carson McCullers and Julie Harris are each another story as well. Oh boy, how I digress, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If I hadn't digressed I would never have found out that Ethel Waters is not buried in my back yard. Well, not exactly my back yard.

 I love this picture of Frankie taking a splinter out of her foot with a knife.