Wednesday, December 21, 2011

preparations for weymouth woods 100k and a winter solstice.

Skatellites & ongoing preparations for a 62 mile run at Weymouth Woods

i haven't had much time to write because i've been running and cycling and doing a fair amount of what I should call “trail diving.” another apt description would be busting my ass.  i've tasted the earth several times, drawing blood and making the effort an actual experience.  miles are taking a toll on the accuracy of footfalls, perhaps. luckily i remain only bruised and battered, nothing serious. don't fret dear reader.

i have fired various guns of 9mm and .40 caliber, watching some 250 rounds separate into plumes of paper and metallic clinks of flying jackets landing around me.  i've spent hours with family and work and self.  i've started stretching two small square canvases, but i haven't finished the actual stretch.  but the canvas is draped across the frames, ready to be stapled and primed.  ideas, plans, as intact as any modern mind.

Meanwhile the tired sun begins a lame gallop across a foggy day. Balmy, wet air. stillness.  far from a winter solstice-type day.  but its a belly full of coffee, before your legs get going, a few fast songs to get the head anchored to movement, a pocket of gel (for fear of bonking) and you kick easy at first, warming the tension out of the muscle.  a jog jostles the muscle mass, pumping the hardened lobes laced against bone, and the muscles must soften because the earth will not and so the legs give and start working, softening to pliable. as the feet start feeling the run and find their dig on that packed earth trail, skirting a field of smokey pale light, watch the sun burn into that heavy drift of night's residual breath, wet and already working the lungs as inhales get deeper and exhales move from the shift of hips and you cut into the trail's obscure opening in a wall of pines as the sun begins to slice sharper across the sandhills on the northwest side of blue clay trails and the light carves roots and rocks out of the sloped earth and keeps the feet moving with some accuracy of foot placement and a skullcap absorbs new sweat into salty residual stiffness and a chest heaves easy into the pace, the speed feels right and perpetual, feels innate and unlabored, feels smooth like a body moving within its own free form and yeah you carry spare pounds (your wife remarked on your pouch just before you left the house) and yeah your temples carry some gray and you get your hair cut more frequently than you'd like because you work a job that you respect enough to compromise certain things but you gather something else as the skatellites pick up an allegro pulse that the legs fall easily against, metronome, milling, and time falls away but for the chirp of miles and the mechanical splash of a passing mountain bike and thirst pushes the body into a reserve of power and there is the stasis through which one eases as the fifteen miles burn through the annals of the mind and the force of muscle.   there is the start of a vicious process of enduring the mind when the body cannot endure the work.  it is a zen movement, a holy vacancy, a winter space with a spring sun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Derby DNS

thanksgiving morning at 6h17am was cold at wrightsville beach, commencing a 10m circuit in longsleeves and skullcap, tapping an ipod to cypress hill grisman & bach (an eternal braid).  the kicks started swift with a wind in my back and an easy stretch of legs while the stride strengthened and legs find feeling, not good feeling but a feeling, and then legs pull into the knees, engage the hips, arms are swinging and the breath seems to swim between the slight thrust of shoulders and the body synchs from the forefeet up through the posture, arch to neck, and you just bend into the sound of breath between songs and let the muscle tear at the road, let the shoes push into the body's gait, finding that natural movement, finding a rhythm, innate and trained at the same time, a total refined motion.  headwind confronts pace-goals at the turn-around, immediate doubt, but into the wind you bend and strive because you know you have a meal to make.  the mind cycles thanksgivings past, images that haunt and images that remember and those that celebrate, and a gladness and stillness and gratitude hits and the miles fall away with tiny garmin chirps and only two other runners on the entire distance to shell island and the bird reserve where you see a pendulum of a far birdflock in abstract logarithm push and pull in masses of gradating shades and turning back into the sun and out of the wind the legs resume grateful work and you imagine the fine day ahead as an accomplishment founded on every day you've ever lived before.  9.7 miles in 1h06 mins and back home, to my family, stopping first for a bouquet of flowers and a bag of apples.


getting the guts to start something, to commit to something, is difficult. keeping the guts intact- preserving the momentum- requires a brutality, a disregard of the absurd, a ferocity. It requires an absolute conviction. And at the end of a work cycle is that feeling of Achievement, glorious and brazen and affirming, a bloodrush through the body, a denial to the resentments & doubts stewing in the innermost rot of a person. A completed goal is a life complete, if only momentarily.
But sometimes life doesn't converge, things get garbled and deprioritized and muddied together in a mash of average. . . a cyclic erosion. And at a lowpoint of esteem, missing a goal is akin to bottoming out or failing or worse.
From the get-go, i was wary of investing my hopes into the Derby 50k road race. however, I kept envisioning myself at the start line, toeing against an imaginary clock with a field of friends and talented runners. pastures and cows and a ribbon of 31 miles wrapping the landscape. My body felt strong, if anchored by thursday's feast. the comradery was off the chart with Mangum Track Club hosting the event. But, alas, work dictated a schedule that made the full distance impossible while my ego ridiculed any efforts at a lesser participation.  Despite my waning enthusiasm, I piled layers of clothing and printed maps, checked fuels and body needs, set the cell alarm. Friday's shift ended early and had me home at 11pm. Derby is a 3h drive so 4am was the wakeup with 4h20am being the latest departure time. Honestly, upon hitting the mattress, I was already resigned. A six hour round trip, fuel costs, work at 3h30pm that afternoon, and a general embarrassment allayed any desire to make it happen.  I considered a local turkey trot, a four mile trail run, but I felt too embarrassed/disappointed to run another race.

Derby 50k was a race i'd hoped to nail since the Mangum Shirt Run. I hadn't realized the depth of my commitment to the race, but missing it had a big impact. Subconsciously I had connected the race and my performance with some deeper self-esteem, some sense of self-worth, and to not even toe the line cost a great deal. I missed a gathering of kindreds, of friends, of fellow madleggers.


whether signing up for an endurance race or laying paints on an old plank of gessoed plywood, sometimes we just get blocked from complete accomplishment. or we must redefine "accomplishment."

Meanwhile, winter light hits, its dark at 5pm with low clouds brewing storms, and the hollowness of late november light folds into itself like a theater of sleep.

Arkansas (Occupy America) is gessoed with a few charcoal lines.  The cursor blinks across ebb/flow, the expansions and constrictions, the push/pull of this essay, this essay moving laboriously like a weak torso.  My road bike balances against the wall by the door, craving afternoon sunmiles.  Kyote saws an audible sleep.
Life is a complex layering of feeling and work, of nurture and harvest, of momentum and pause. frequently, a negotiation of anticipation.

tuesday 11.29.11
y'day was 12 miles across the trails of brunswick nature park in 1h50mins, a substantially stronger run than my 20km run there one month ago.  rain and late november's flatgray nonlight dragged me through the first five miles before things became enjoyable and lucid and then roots and trees and the lilies and the stillness, the emptiness, the loneliness of the coastal rolls, the ohm of wind across tar-blackened waters and the cool weight of mud caking on calves, all sounds fishy i know, like some bad new age propaganda shoved into a runner's world, but running is something to be enjoyed, to be felt, to be absorbed.  running is a natural thing and the body, once it remembers the sensation, awakens to crave the movement.  to run in nature is an act of merging and emergence; it operates along a metaphysical hinge of body and earth. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

NYC Bones.

My wife trained and prepared for nine months to run 26.2 miles across the five boroughs of new york city. The goal involved exhaustive fund raising, countless miles in predawn dark and countless more on the sleepy saturday and sunday mornings. Her preparation left her glowing and excited as she exited the hotel room at 5h30am on November 9th, looking strong and confident. Her eyes were clear and sharp, focused into the work ahead. And once begun, she smiled from the first 5k to the 26th mile (a fact documented in dozens of photographs along the route). She savored the experience, relished the difficult passages as well as the vibrant neighborhoods and their various characters. She absorbed the goal and lived it and nailed it. In grand fashion in fact. An admirable feat.  Congratulations on a great run darling.  I am proud to be a part of your experience.

From there it was de kooning, chirashi, war horse, patsy's, nj transit, flat tires on airplanes, east village, soho, noho, coffee black as soot, orange brioche at maison cognac, katie holmes' black denali chased by guys with toenails for teeth, the grand spires and churches of manhattan, the smells of bleeker (cigar, espresso, pomodoro con aglio), 5th avenue diamonds, sunrise miles in central park, chinatown's smells of garlic & hot soy & glass noodles beneath inkbrush calligraphy, cattelan's entire oeuvre hanging like a mobile from the ceiling of the guggenheim. . . . artschwager, beuys, warhol, monet, modi, klee, miro, kadinsky, prince, (some shit I skipped), segal, serra, fischl, oldenberg, pearlstein. . . . rembrandt, rauschenberg, titian, tintoretto, sargeant, turner, steiglitz. . . twombly's sculpture (rustic implements painted white), les desmoilles d'avignon (picasso gets me everytime with that one).
the de kooning retrospect. . . the early figures, the ghostmen-- self-modeled, his hungry years, bubblegum pink furniture on acidgreen backgrounds.  next, a newspaper pushes through glossy black wrestling a flat black, powdery white grinding against form, against formlessness. his black and white paintings- the charcoal of a new york nocturne. the architectural build of ashy vapors from which a seated figure emerges. pastel choruses where breasts heave like labia or hang heavy like pale, velvet curtains.  de kooning's women: Blistered pink, scorned paint, a folklore of oilpaint flesh. Cats hiss through linseed teeth.  the sag harbor nudes. the massive, yearning canvases that came after the door paintings, pastorale with fields and beaches and skies.  the clean arias of his final alzheimer years.
small drawings by kiefer, basqiaut, close. The tear of a french cigarette package on a motherwell collage. The endless bakeries of manhattan, the delectable goods crowding windows. . .
Language of lionesses, sex of commerce. Tiffany's yellow diamonds. Wall street heels clog vivace, leather that matches a briefcase. Sex of tangerines, sex like tangerines. Mists of perfumeries walking in the upper 60's. bikes cruise the hudson with thumb-bells. ghost bikes off delancey ave (a visit and a remembrance, RIP rasha). Fifth avenue dazzles and haunts, the mix of armani empires, lindt chocolates, st. patricks catheral's squaring up against cartiere, the mixture of languages like a postmodern opera-- debase the verbal with cacophony. The rollicking admixture of grandiloquent churches and mirrored glass skyscrapers. Steam of morning sidewalks, the grates where subways roar like engines of time, swallowing a lone saxophonist's "take five" solo.

overall, a week in nyc.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Snatches of Miller, 100 kilometers, nickel coffee (five movements on a theme)..


miller's rosy cruxifiction is a perennial interest for me, an autumn ghost that rises from a memory-clock, but a ghost that dissipates within a few paragraphs of plexus or nexus.  that a craving is so quickly assuaged, fragile as light to a mirage, perplexes me. 
once i relished his rant-ramblings, his openings of woof! woof! and sex in the back of brooklyn cabsthe luxury of his leisurely hours wandering central park, bumming money from friends & acquaintances, the fall of snow on manhattan window sills, his speakeasy pantry of ham sandwiches and potato salad, pickles and beer. his rant against the american machine.  i was reading sexus 15 years ago, the cover stained with burnt coffee and ashes falling from the hand of a broken-souled young adult.  i was drunk & addled, hiding beneath poverty's skirt, believing in the artist's struggle- faithful to the chaos- subscribing to the myths of romantic naivete.  and here was an empathetic voice, a diatribe against all i had not gained or accomplished.   here was a voice that made sense: his writing conveyed the loyalty of hungry dogs.
but now miller (my response) lacks that voracious elan vital.  the language feels contrived, the scenes manipulated, the tone condescending. . . flippant rant, foam, amuse bouche, staccato shrieks that entertain in bursts like a raspy voice in a smokey hall.  pages of barking and hardons and hunger. gauguin's dogs, a form of begging.


i used to paint for a sense of lucidity, to link directly my thoughts to action. i painted for the cascades of ecstacy i could find in color and form and contour.  painting was a physical act from the beginning, a grand chasedown of a cumulative moment. an expressionist act.
now i run and the run is the current medium of my art.  it is nearly a daily act, it is a habit. and in my runs are falling bodies, fragments of language, color wheels, flashes of poetic understanding.  the effect of painting and the effect of running both contain the joy of a constant, language that is transcended by body.


i think of hungry ny painters in the cold of winter.  or the new york romps (via the subterraneans) of kerouac ginsburg & snyder, jazz haunts & slinky women bending into drinks and slow horn blows. i think of my nostalgia, of big city dreams, a Nickel Coffee sign, a window in a sepia photograph.  sinew, muscle, bone, and nickel coffee.  something to revitalize as autumn falls into winter.


weymouth woods 100k, a trail run totaling 62 miles across 14 loops.  mind is a rabid jaw working an anxious introspect, trying to swallow the many questions of the task.  physical manifestation is milling the miles, cycling & stretching, reading training plans & theories, writing mileage charts, inventories of nutrition. . . in the end, it is the mind and the legs, mainly the legs. 62 miles is intrepid effort and the hope of progress, pain like fissures of bone splintering into the leg muscle. insomnia and dulled senses. Preparation and Execution:  Work. Weymouth woods is the will to complete something personally astounding.  To surrender into the thing, whether paint, music, blankness, words, body. To surrender is the meaning and the result, the art and the artifact. surrender contains the whole process and it is the first step.  i am running a one hundred kilometer trail race.
100 kilometers like a native american sundance. . . the need to surmount one's self, to reinvent oneself, to triumph out of oneself.  The palpitating heart of the moment is how one responds when the shit falls apart, to endure entropy, to find rhythm in chaos, to surmount rot and exhaustion. to bear witness to a continuum elucidating & aligning towards a beginning, marking an unbroken trajectory of existence.  to be in that point of origin for a moment, if only a glance, and to be whole and transfixed. my training will revolve around that part of the run, the part where the shit falls apart, where i am a ghost. that part of my past i am always trying to heal and conceal will burn like gas through muscle and mouth and eyes.

to run 62 miles in fourteen fucking loops is, in essence of process, no different than de kooning painting his first woman.  it is drive, thrust, scrape, preservation, exorcism. 62 miles of earth in 14 loops of january.


henry miller is a way to revisit a ghost of my past self.  the RC trilogy is an opera of ghosts, a swell of dead voices that fugue and echo and fade into the busy Now.  in the barking dogs, in the hunger and hardons, in the rage against repressive elements of american life, the armageddon of the soul versus earthly fulfillment, i am wholly self-sufficient.  gauguin's dogs bark at my front door and i feed them bits of my organs, and they howl and fight and froth from the teeth and i wear a shock collar that rips into my neck when i bark.  i am arrogant enough to believe that everyone, at times, feels this way and that there is no hierarchy of suffering.


This writing business is the externalization of an internal act. It's managing risk while moving towards an elemental cusp, mindful movement footstepped into private earth. The work is balancing Ferlinghetti's fool (the artist like a tightrope walker constantly risking absurdity) against Zarathustra's tightrope walker (fallen, the dispersing crowd, a spasm, a dead clown).  It is the delirium to try.  it is worth a cup of nickel coffee.
Self-belief fused with creative love, a guard against apathy or aporia. (aporia is the vertigo, the modern purgatory. common.) The trudge moves forward & the running essays continue. Sometimes words collapse like false motifs  (no image no gut no sound no rhythm).  Sometimes, the vacancy of an ocean, a cathedral's emptiness caging song, the haunt of a space, architecture of lotus.  Sometimes, iron filaments of silver-flecked language.


ghosts of aporia.  that is where this ends.  the ghosts of aporia and motionlessness, the need to move in lithe and quick pulses of meaning, the divulgement of space. i run now because i was still, arrested, for a long time.  i suffer because i have the guts to and i celebrate because i have the guts to. i choose not to bloat my mind with idolatry of another's path.  look, take, leave.  the exchange is the living synapses (whether dead artists, living friends, a child).  gauguin's dogs will lunge at my achilles and the hooks of a sundance will chew into my muscles but the art will be mine, the journey will be mine, the life will be a journey, an entire thing that i can claim.

Monday, October 10, 2011

an essai conveying the layers of a morning.


Chronicles of a (self/or\portrait) who fell out of painting into running. A drawing of parallels between the energy of painting/creative work and the freedom to move across a cut of earth on one's own power. Olson (the momentum of a verse if verse were a mile) or Burden (crawling barechested across 50' of broken glass; getting shot in the arm in a ny gallery: events, documented) or Serra's oilstick drawings & etchings (viewer's innate response to nonobjective images-- unconscious languages scrawled in primitive gashes. Early signifiers. Pushing the viewer's role into that of co-creator. Art is, as an evolved thing, a conspiracy of fashioning, a private propaganda.). Che & Castro moving from ideal to Act in armed rebellion (violent confrontation is the highest form of Idea-Expression besides sex, which is still a confrontational involvement. . . .natural progression from previous state of art-as-propaganda.).

Running is expressionistic- there are moods in the body's movement. Long miles are philosophically engaging, physically enpowering (unless drab and long and static).  Late miles can become absinthe, elation, delirium, synethesia, distillation. Movement conveys the projective energy of language infused with idea, paint vivid with elan vital. . . I appreciate the act of running as a physical-aesthetic process, a burning happening, a continuum of motion passing through a psycho-spectral Self.  Primal and elegant like music. A certain Slant rhyme.


Home. Home is the work, home is the drive, home is the source of work. Home is a transient space, a moveable feast, a Present embraced. An infinite now. Anything else is a rut, a false space: Death of an individual. a habitation.


mouth of smoke and tongue of cat, hand across chest (breast pushing breath), farm decaying beneath autumn sun. steinbeckian sex dream-- beginning of october. She wore a heavy sweater knitted with gray yarn and a heavy scarf of muted earthtones. the ridges of her sweater rolled like corduroy beneath work-hardened hands. We looked out across fields of corn drying to leathered barbs. . . a dismal field, morbid and limp. Dogs ran in and out of woods and an old car rusted behind us. There was a basket of peaked vegetables wrapped in pale cheese cloth.  Heavy bread smelled of burnt wood and hot stone. When sex was survival, you remained a goddess.


And I was running the stonejut spine of massanutten mountain debating the notion of home while remembering derelict dens where mahler and mingus played, narcotic tirades quiet and internal like the rotting of teeth. Tobacco-stained canvases stacked against wall on stacks of books. Montaigne and jung and wittgenstein and whatever wordswords I was reading in the white house on the eigth block of nun street. . . hardwood floor obscured by pages of drawings smeared with linseed oil modeling paste coffee&ashes shopping lists. Letters painted over, smoked up behind soft graphite. Destruction of the evidence of destruction of the evidence of. . . a fruitful time of work. Creativity thrives in depravement.
Trails cut into earth through spills of rock that bruise arches as miles accrue with shirt absorbing rain and sweat and the mists of limestone and slate obscure the surrroundings but heighten the focus. . . a scale or a balance. A distant ridge is barely knifed out in the palest of bluegrays.  The charcoal diagonals of trees drag the sky like a twombly drawing.  (Home is where the familiar still captivates.)
The fog of a mountain trail six miles deep, the fog of broken mind and a body starved, the lack of something essential. . . mind builds the grandeur of spiritual lucidity, embodies the myth of soul when body (the craving is the soul's voice, not the condition of lucidity perhaps. Craving is more emphatic than satisfaction.). . . . broken body/mind craves an intact soul and a broken soul might crave an intact body/mind. Evidence of the destruction.  
Running the pink-blazed sidewinder trail across the ridges of a mountain is the pinnacle of my philosophies-- an act that is aesthetic, explorative, simultaneously refined and primitive, necessitating self knowledge and honesty while pushing the boundaries of that knowledge, expanding that knowledge, brutalizing and healing that self. It is a pure act, private and self-sufficient.  Volatile.  It is a prayer that does something and goes somewhere and still loves when it is done.

Monday, September 26, 2011

cartilage sinew muscle & bone ii (unfinished)

A meditation on the unrefined. . . the sublime & the vulgar. Autumn. Picasso. Trails. Rome. The richness of the raw material-- the infinite of the unfinished. The majesty of the mad space-- the cathedral and the mind, each extending to gather space, vacancy, fullness, layers. . . psalms.
fifteen miles into autumn & the run was the work of feet clocking packed clay beneath low clouds, a cool gray day. . . the trail was bulge and recess, scarred by storms and stones and raincuts. the sky was flat, wide and vacant like cotton duck, ancient and flecked with birds. Sepia. Air was push and pull, kneading into the vocabularies of language and image, the legwork of a runner or a painter. the holism of the exertion pushed into a quietude, an alignment. craved a neatness of thought: a combing of mind. a unity and continuum. a process intact.
Autumn embraces harvest & death, is kerouac's roman candle, is blake's tiger, it is rimbaud's afrique and van gogh's absinthe. It is a burning, cherished thing. the old trees of the southern landscape newly stripped and bare: burnt umber bones that thrust from the ground like a child's alphabet. The wet smells of jagged granite in the blue ridge burn the breath, lapsing into gray. Stone & bone. Primeval. Autumn is the lure of the rabid vixens of les desmoilles d'avignon. Autumn is curse & promise. Autumn is wiccan and voluptuous and fleshy and lushlife. Autumn is promise and betrayel and the slip of the spring's veil to smoke and ash. Autumn is paradox and threshold.  smoke, stone and bone.

picasso's bulls, his hooves of ink working into bark and pine needle and dirt, images spun from picasso's “bootblack” paris years onward into the war oeuvre. . . saltimbanques et les paysages cubistes, les guitars ou le journ. . . les assemblages. . . bathers and cassagemas and the shades of blue and the late miles evoked my early inspirations: degas, van gogh, duchamp, cezanne, miro, rothko, rembrandt, de kooning, but picasso was the mark and the centrifuge. . . an enigma of a man infinitely reworking himself. Picasso was deeply modern: horrified by failure, suicide, poverty, sex, cellibacy, communism, guernica, women, stature, compromise. contrasting the depth of his horrors was his degree of self-love, unbound. but whether a tyrant or a gracious soloist, he was nonetheless a canon of modern creativity. Picasso was the carnivale of libido, (the carnivore of libido?), a fact emphasized by his longevity.  picasso and his bulls.

(motherwell's elegy to spanish republic series, probably a direct diatribe or praise of picasso, declares "i am the bull.  i am the picasso.  i am the knife of oedipus.")

Autumn is the potential of the raw and the unrefined, the kinetic contained within the inchoate. gesture and underpainting and stain and brief pours of dead leaves. Its the way a landscape can burn, ravaged, blaze, beautifully, raptured. And I was thinking about meola versus rostropovich or even dvorak. . . cellos and their bellow. . . i was thinking how schnabel was the archetypal 80's painter, filled with rage & ego and greed and a need for space. schnabel's canvas dwarfed even motherwell's larger canvases. . . (equally large was richter, scully, rauschenberg, rosenberg.) but schnabel's canvases were colossal and scale was the grandeur of the 80s art scene (a throwback to renaissance frescoes).  schnabel might be the contemporary picasso, the american version.
michelanglo's nonfinito sculptures-- the slave series, what donatello called the sculpturi nonfinito, a term vasari later adopted. . . referencing the waking slave, atlas slave, st matthew, et cetera.  the slaves contain the points of drills & chisels, of hard sanding, cross-hatching, chunks of coarse marble hammered to show the pock-marred stone of carrera. michelangelo preserved his birthplace in the stone, preserved his process, made the act part of the art.  the documented process became a natural inclusion, a visual history. The postmoderns evolve from this point of the high renaissance, the inclusion of self and the neurosis of that self, the constant movement of the self. . . constant breakdown and recycling towards wholeness.

elaborating momentarily on soutine, i had guilt that my previous impressions were processed, though i gave no images but only language associations. soutine, schnabel, picasso. . . their images remain distinct.  to write about visual art is an irreconcilable thing, to remove the innate by funneling into words words words => Processing.
endurance is the grandeur of idea no matter the mode of expression.  idea and its energy must remain prime and lucid, honest.  To include the Process.  To refuse processing.  its the trick.

laying brick or paint, cooking or running a trail, undisturbed by the barbs of existence while strobbing on the unrefined and arrowed towards a nondestination. . . yogis or shamans or poets or roman janitors. . . every act can be a transcendent act.  anything can become sacred. but the question is always there: What is the prime state of expression?

Monday, September 12, 2011

brunswick nature park & chaim soutine.

the salomon shoes (still wearing last winter's mud), some classic punk, the smoke of leaves, the chocolate woodiness of hot coffee. a sub-70 degree run is as comforting as a fall hoodie.

a cool tuesday and an electric familiar pushes the body through brunswick nature park. . . an immersion of the sounds of pine growth, a deflated basketball of a turtle dragging his shell, heady smells of the damp earth, sweep of yellow necked thrushes, squirrels bouncing branches, sounds of shoes crunching the gravel road towards the kayak launch where the trail crosses perpendicular, cut left, following the creek's tarry bank along the oldest trail of the park before turning into the jerky undulations of the woods. an old paper trail. blood pushes into legs and eyes and core. the words “Cartilage sinew muscle & bone” chant behind nature's seminar of acoustics. A trail run is a burning meditation that engages all the senses.
coolness brings an atmospheric redemption, a body's willingness to move, an innate yearning to stomp out miles on earth's variegated surfaces and the mind bending serious to the hymn of movement. Its an instinct in the new coolness to move and to try to move lithely, to burn the muscles with joy, kicking across storm debris in narrow slices of trail by the black water of town creek which sleeps like midnight quartz.

it is the cadence of crickets and the still drift of white waterlilies and the pungent smells of decay as hurricane irene still lays tangled on the trail and the slopes. the catch of spider webs and their constant disregard. sun & mosquitoes on shoulders. at a corner I shock into two large deer, one darts out in perfect sine movement while the other pauses, her head posed and her eyes black as the creek behind, and she too turns to spring away.
an old man and his dachsund roam the trails and he laughs at me “well i can see you have plenty of energy!” the dachsund runs with me for a few meters and he licks the air and turns back. i pause. the man tells how he kayaks with his dog (jack) at carolina beach and he has the gentleness of the lonely and the aged as he mocks his 72 years. i am torn between the run and his story and i later feel a guilt of not being more present to the him.

Cartilage sinew muscle & bone. the body burns its own fuels of an abstract fire. soutine and his redred landscapes of soppy paint, of mud mingling against a hill's contour with mangled trees and limping architecture. i think of the pastry cook's melancholy. . . his butchery paintings, his trout, his rustic tables with sparse ingredients. Wirey-boned rabbits splayed for an oiled pan. The pigments of carcass, rawanimalpaint, gravy paint. (butcher's paper for his drawings?) the blur of periphery is where soutine resides, in the elusive catch of redemption, the vapid glory of renaissance, in the breakdown of muscle on bone and the depiction of such a thing. unjudged, unhaunting. the detachment with which turner depicted london like a nocturnal explosion. . . nero's firey violin bow or whateverthefuck he played while rome was devastated. Cartilage sinew muscle and bone and not much more to the whole thing, to this architecture of breath and idea and movement and infinity. layers of the aleph. soutine was poor as dirt as a man but his soul (and his soul's palette) was a cathedral. 

the cadence of legs becomes the momentum of mind, and the running season is returning with 15k at brunswick nature park and life is good with the tapping of typing after a trail run in september. Lungs gasp at psalms and miles and autumn may be the one true palette of the year. Like soutine, like a run, like a lunge of lust, a burn of things primed and respiring into winter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rain band run.

Friday at 11am. Hurricane Irene flails and flays her first wild arms. Bands arrive hours before the storm's central churn and the frenzy of late preparation hits Wilmington. (While the anticipation of a storm is an exciting thing, the arrival of a storm can be baffling.)

Across the coastal region, whips of gray clouds spiral & march like burdened forms, layer like waxed, heavy brushstrokes, build into impasto smears of sky. Somewhere the voice of a weather anchor proclaims massive winds and flooding in serious, baritone enunciation. The rains are cold, stinging and pushing against my torso, opposing my work before relenting to a drizzle. My shorts stick to my thighs, my shoes are heavy with rain, my watch is confused by the beading rain.  The air is electric but cool and it is with half-belief that I watch the storm enter from southeast until it fills the sky, a directionless mass of movement, a swatch. 

The friday mid-distance run. . . A morning without compass; an act of habit.

A long run seems an unlikely thing as the garmin beeps into effect. The second mile follows the slow churn of legs as blood-heat pushes into the fold of a quad muscle. I note the birdless sky, the occasional boarded home, the deepening payne's gray of the horizon, the empty lawns, the tilting sway of the rain. A chill in the air.  The fourth mile is marked on the garmin with wild numbers tracking an erratic pace (gps signals rat-romp through clouds and weather, an unsteady register, thus data is jumpy). . . 6:12, 7:38, 7:27, 8:24. The park is empty except for two ladies casually pushing a stroller. I run spongy trails to a turn-around where my tailwind becomes a headwind. The wind shifts again from the east.  The effect is like swimming against a current; there is a total body force, a complete exertion.   As the mantra says, “Think with the whole body,” and running in a storm is a sure way to mindfulness. The band passes with a few gusts, a clearing forms, the air relaxes. My body finds an easy pace for the next three miles, appreciating the familiar terrain of the neighborhood.  The run ends with a walk around the block and my eager dog smelling the air as leaves confetti the air.   

A storm is a fierce thing when filtered through heavy rain, anticipation, news casts, the true unpredictability of Nature. Like a run, sometimes, you just work your way through a storm until it exhausts itself.  And you do so because it just what we do as animals, as people, as those who are alive. The mind, the body, the communion of the two, works with the same dynamics as the atmosphere and the earth.  Maybe it is no communion at all, but a reactionary symbiosis. A series of catalysts kissing off the fuel with flame.  A necessary rage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

work, a run, and auerbach.

a cycle of complacent meandering has come to an end and i've got to begin the work again. bend the back to the field with rough hacks, dull blades, stareoff against empty grounds (paper, canvas, wood). Vast fields, easy to get lost in, the labor of idea/image. . . millet. . . . . . so I am reading levine who was just announced as the new poet laureate and his work takes me right into the detroit guts of winter, the forlorn winter daze, jaundice street lights, the unromantic life of the american (auto) worker, the grime of floors and hands and grease, horns, a life stamped in shifts, petroleum eyes.  get this line:  "his blanket of newspaper rises in the breeze, a giant butterfly mottled with slaps of rain."  a real recession writer-- empathy to the worker in his detroit-eroded language.  poems that breathe like an assembly line.

luxury of thought.  images that explode into smoke, flash, vapid. “one day i'll paint in an armani suit.” ridiculous. this i wrote in an old journal, scribbled nine years ago, a copy of a nude bending off the margin, bookmarked by an excerpted manila page where i've inked an orchid, two tables' orders alongside the drawing. Server-artist. Artist-server.  shit. there is no luxury of thought any longer- just catalyst and response. the fleas of modern america, the fleas of minutiae.  probably should be a meaning, a poetry of things, a music perhaps, something beyond stasis.  the luxury of a whirl of thriving pigment and vitality. but recently i'm looking towards the impulse, the gesture: van gogh ink drawings (pure nature, holy nature, “i am whole in nature” he said), the fauves, kline, the canvases of baselitz, giacometti, the works of frank auerbach. 
i was thinking about Frank Auerbach while kicking six miles in the neighborhood, thinking of his name, the hard german “k” of bach, a hacking abrasion of sound, a mouthchop, a sound that is found in his work were one to experience synthesesia. his berlin roots, a jewish boy born in the thirties who got out of germany before the train got him (already had his parents, suffocated them with work, with deplorable conditions in a camp), the boy went to london, art school, became a gutlevel rabidass painter with the surface of his grounds sagging in the weight of paint and much of his work was shown flat so the paint wouldn't cave in, fall like thick clay plates to the floor of the gallery. Monochromatic panels move in textures that carve out the image, a forest thrusts through mudpaint to emerge out of a dozen or so final brushstrokes. the head portraits, something like a forest fire with eyes, a melancholy salmon/leek terrine gazing in 3/4 profile, or a girlish face infernal and pouring elan vital, ganked from some base impulse of perception, an emotive glance, the subconscious impression (a much darker, a more subjective place than the french impressionists' viewpoint), a picture dragged through a mire of mixed complementary colours to primordial tones, browns far from neutral, a process seemingly immediate but sought deliberately across hours and hours of posed seating. . . auerbach fully inspires me, engages me, invigorates me that he remains a powerful paint handler.  it is a good life when someone can paint over sixty years, tirelessly working for new brushmarks, tirelessly working with Paint. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

just a note to say that i am out of commission due to a back sprain or jam, some back injury.  the randomness of the pain baffles me, but i refuse the doctor trip.  i woke up with a sore back and then beat a full spinal-tweak across a downslope of a trail, a mis-step and a heel bash response, which is when an ache became an acutely painful area.  and while the lumbar pain improves drastically during the course of the day, the morning promises the agony again.  or it doesn't.  one never knows. so i am swimming and living offa advil and gelato, watching old bike films on youtube and below is a good one to watch if you get the spare time. the film is entitled "a sunday in hell" and it documents the paris-roubaix race (also known as the Hell of the North, hence the title of the film). the vintage machines are functional sculpture and the athletes remind me of hemingway's matadors. it is an engaging film.  meanwhile, thank you for checking in.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Injury Atopia Aporia Suk.

When uninjured, you never see an injury coming. when injured, you never see it passing. i'm living off advil, sweets, fish and chips, watching the tour de france by morning and sunday in hell by afternoon, and i'm craving an ease of motion which does not come. healing is an intrusive thing. jammed back grinds guts no matter what posture I contort towards. blah blah.  
meanwhile josef suk was a composer and string virtuosi from czechoslovakia whose music explored a wide range of emotional textures but the first few pieces I ever heard held that horror-vice of the war-era art, equal to the soviet composers of that time. i did not realize his recent death (early june?) but i heard an excerpt of a violin concerto today, sawing out some nice melodies which would then freefall into staccato reels of bitter whining & shrieking to build back the layers of a robust sonic boast. The tones moved fluidly, wholesome and moody. i remembered the box set of suk's chamber compositions, a local music store had it for months and i was always saving to purchase it. a yellow box accented by some design on the perimeter, his portrait in the center, a slavic grimace, wide face and stern eyes, the delicate carving of a violin's tune-keys by his cheeks. i never purchased it, buying instead gould's bach, bartok or mahler, paint or drink, but I can visualize the set now. parenthesised with stravinsky, shostakovich, schnittke, schumann. . . . the mad greats. put on some suk and pick up the red calvary stories of babel, some nabakov or chekov, (my wife would swear on dost's notes from the underground but you need a good translation), boil the coffee dark, add sugar and/or schnapps and you've got a fine winter ahead. Music makes struggle and suffering a savory thing.
Lucian freud. Dead at the age of 88 years. Freud is a hero to me, equal to de Kooning. His handling of the nude, his choice of model, his torn upholstery couch and the piles of rags, a ragged cot, his impasto brushwork, the range of palette in a single painting, hell-- in a single leg! The definitive modern figurative artist-- conflicted, voracious, angry, horrified, disciplined, precise. Poetic. The lyrical forms of street sluts of london. Junkies with purple cocks. Royalty. Broken actors with their long torsos slumping in sleep. Blue limbs of weariness. Cold studio morning light. Interrogation light. A pale plant, a pale coat. The backyard of a london apartment house. Blue veins of a model harmonize with the blue veins of the hardwood floor.
A few years ago, the MoMA hosted a show of etchings by Freud. The exhibit also marked Freud's longtime use of certain models. Several preparatory drawings were included, and interspersed were paintings of those models (some famous and godly, some homely, some anemic and atrophied), a marvelous show of draftsmanship. I remember the strong marks of grease pencils, the muscled pull of burnt-bone black forming the contours of a swollen stomach. Hatching like a madman's topographical map, but distinctly massed. Technically sound.  Something sublime contained beneath a rage.
(Freud's longtime friend Francis Bacon had recently died, his liver devoured by drink and turpentine and a combative life. A theater of nirvana:  Baudelaire Twombly Rodin Freud Bacon de Koooning Turner Michelangelo and Rembrandt, kicking back with coffee and talking shop. Foucault and Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard.  Shostakovich Suk Dvorak discussing politics, cello accompaniment. An atopia of remembrance and passion.)
A good friend of mine used to wait on Freud at his restaurant in London. Lee would describe him as such: He wore a belt of old rope. He ordered oysters and a demi-bottle of pouilly fumee. His fingers were caked with paint and charcoal. he would sketch his lunch away on paper napkins that he would then shove in his pocket as he paid the bill. Quiet and elegant. Contemplative. But he always took his napkin drawings.
beethoven's appasionato piano sonata and storms pass as kyote sleeps. i'm flipping through a book on rodin and admiring the straight eroticism of his work. to work, one must be in love. only then is the work credible. beyond love however, one can work in bursts off of lust, but it is an inefficient fuel. highly combustible and dangerous to handle. But sometimes its what one possesses:  Marvelous red fugues. Scars of touch on clay, touch of canvas. Clay, body.  Ether.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Paintings by Deborah Petoskey at Caprice Bistro

Local artist Deborah Petoskey will hang her work at Caprice Bistro for a couple of months, starting the first Thursday of August. While she works in many disciplines, this show will focus on her paintings.

According to her website, she creates art because, “Like breathing in and out, the creative soul finds itself in need of something more.” She appears to be a roaming spirit that wants to explore and expand things. She wants to be intrigued and to intrigue, and thus her art.

Petoskey savors spontaneous moments of paint and enjoys the details of a work. She sees the compositional pulleys move with visual weight, and she balances blocked planes of near-monochrome against charged paint-quilt areas. She gets involved in the nuanced spaces, operating in the smaller frames that converge towards the larger ones. Her process works through and against a sequence of material/idea application, interspersing language with urban & architectural references. Layers of masking offset a build-up of surface, a Benton-like push/pull effect, and she frequently achieves moments of good paint-handling. There is a joy in effect presented here, if somewhat raw. Unity wrestles dissolution as bold linework maps the stages of the canvas. Early Pollock comes to mind, maybe a note of Klee or Mondrian's experimental drawings.

Petoskey's compositions are abstract, whether one focuses on a section or steps back from the painting, and they satisfy in their nonobjective state. The paintings feel natural in their flux. The variety in scale and palette, even style, will allow for several visits throughout the duration of the show. Give them one chance and you'll give them several.

Caprice Bistro will host the exhibit of paintings in the Upstairs Sofa Lounge. The opening will be Thursday August 4th From 7pm until 9pm.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

an early morning run & brief requiem-

abbey nature preserve was the trail and i beat the quads into a lactic-coma in just five miles and the smoke from northern fires still smells strong and mingles with the new and early humidity and together it makes for a tough cycle of breath.  while the mind was working the body and the smoke was working the throat/lungs, the run was burning the upper legs, a sort of lurching, hard pain in the thighs and hip flexors.  IT bands are taut and unwilling.  gmm is still freshly carved into bone and musclemass and the tears of 26 miles take some time to heal but i am impatient.  so i kept up the run, thinking of the derby 50k for the saturday following thanksgiving, my next big organized run, thinking of the bull run run 50 miler, mt mitchell challenge, trying to conjure goals that might keep pushing one foot in front of the other. . . . i thought of a painting, and did not want to paint.  i was thinking of the fugue of the run, the fact that i've been running forever, at least on some interpretive level. but really i was still reliving the grandfather mountain run, the running around the asu track, the holloway's mountain passage, the personal meaning of the run, the accomplishment of the trial by endurance, my mother's disbelief when i finished, my wife's pride, my own myriad of feelings, but i still did not conquer all of my regrets.  so i continue running such that i may one day outrun the angst.

otherwise i was thinking of twombly's recent death and his reclusive nature, his erratic launches of fresh canvas into international galleries and museums, his quiet studio work shaking the rigmarole and ridicule that makes for the artworld chatter and twombly made marks, read his ancient texts, hiked the hills of greece, bicycled rome with eyes tuned to the elusive ghosts of that geographic nexus, sought a refinement of a private language in a world obsessed with something more generic and PC.  he scratched philosophical passages of colour into the cakebatter painthandling of the 70's art scene, mocked the pastorales of other field painters, followed his own aesthetic from one series to the next.  dissed rauschenberg's more pop-oriented imagery with pre-graffiti psalms.  blooms of love.  the blackboard paintings.  the paper collages.  the rome paintings.  his paintings celebrate the delirium, the manic juggling of the modern psychology, a funneled, infinitely rich, infinitely nurtured, visual curiosity.  his scrawl is some of the most honest, some of the most purely modern work, reaching back through the ages via the collective unconscious, back into a wolfwomb of birth, back into the mire of nonlife, the choking horror of first breaths, the ideograms of new eyes and the cursive of sex-postures. twombly nailed it and i hope his heaven is a heaven indeed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

grandfather mountain marathon.

this was my family sighting at mile 26.15 of grandfather mountain marathon! behind me, the highland games bagpipe and clog, sling blocks of cement or logs, herd sheep, carry broadswords. . . 

my family and i took some time to be family this weekend, driving six hours through severe storms to the blue ridge mountains to plop down with my mom & john (known henceforth as mammie and pa).  pa had prepared homemade meatballs with a meat sauce, ladelled over pasta, and i had my first friday night meal with my wife and son in nine months.  we had tea and stories and a restful evening as the mountains tucked deep in torrential downpours.  heavy cascades continued and the night fell leaden and sleepless as i rolled and twisted before the prescribed 4h55am alarm.  i was a bit wound up because this was to be the morning of my first road marathon, of my first marathon ever.  this was the morning of my grandfather mountain marathon.  and i was more than a little apprehensive about the 3000' of elevation between appalachian state university track and the mcrae fields where the highland games shared the dirt track for the ~450 registrants to complete the work.

the start on the track, fully lit in the predawn green-gray light, wound up one full loop and then spiralled through the gate and out into the boone streets.  runners talked across the leg-warming first two miles until the road clung against the first climb. and the climb was the story for the next five miles. and then down, which was no reprieve as the descent punished quads like a jackhammer and one could feel the femur-bones bending beneath the gravity of the quick descent.  and the run became the work of the run for a while.  clips of music in the mind, brief and truncated; thought-phrases not entirely coherent.  guts lurching inside heaving ribs and the back pushing into the gallop and then the tight-cut roadcurves and the x-slope work awkwardly the musculature of the foot, throbbing IT bands and knees and then a thinning rope of runners bob back up the mountain. shull's mill road.  lucidity would lapse into rambling, then an interesting conversation would start up with another runner, and then the running effort would recommence, quiet and serene, or with silent angst. to transcend.  self-reliance.  to run something that years ago seemed nonsensical and absurd.  mantras reminding us of the goal.  short breaths and short strides.
and the volunteers were top-notch, one group cut think hunks of watermelon as we entered a gravel road.  this steep road would gnaw my guts on the ~3 mile incline to the parkway, and the parkway allowed easy breath with its warm-white mountain laurel and rockstacked creeks and then a small waterfall on the rockface off of 221 into the final five miles of scorched-leg-muscle, staccato bursts of determination, rachmoninoff running, and power-hiking and running onward to grandfather mountain's entrance where the whole thing cut through the songs of bagpipes and ended on the dirt track, my chest heaving against the thinner air and my body unsure of things then the sight of wife and son and my applauding mother standing and elated and proud.  the time clock reads 3h 48m 30sec.

the highland games was the destination, and if shit wasn't strange before you ran 26 miles, try running into the second largest highland games in the world.  i mopped off and changed shirts and walked with the family through the campgrounds while browsing kilts and caps, haggis and shepherd pies, rugby jerseys, rosetta stones.  i then sat, heavy legs and heavy eyes, savoring a freshbaked scone built up with strawberries and whipped cream, lapping hot coffee while watching scottish guys drop bass-thud slams as they wrestled near sheep-herding terriers.  it was a marvel, a strange thing, and the bagpipes played through the fog of midmorning humidity and the final breaths of campfires and we boarded a bus with other runners who were already discussing the next race registration.  madness.

i met some wonderful runners, and i thank them for their time shared on the roads. some very positive spirits embark on these journeys, and i am grateful to get to know them. one was a young man from virginia beach whose father, a diabetic, was experiencing a sugar-drop several miles behind us.  they both finished strong.  another was from charleston, a quiet, lone guy whose bus ticket had decomposed in his running pocket.  i ran early with a guy from cullowhee who ran mostly alone in the trails of western north carolina.  my friend mark sported a deep green kilt. there was the quiet figure on the bus who wore the umstead 600 mile club hat:  he smiled behind his sunglasses, knowing some secret nexus.  and the wiry man talking up the flatlander marathon the next day, starting in downtown boone, and the emphatic nods of agreement as he explained "its really not as hard as you think to do a back-to-back marathon.  just go home and sit in an ice bath and show up tomorrow morning."  sorry i missed it gentlemen, maybe a rain check.

i commend the RD on a fine race and a great course.  the volunteers were admirable and joyful, and they kept me believing in the abstracts that go into something like this. i fully extend my gratitude to their good acts.  a big thank you to the park rangers who kept us safe.  the use of the track at asu was amazing, and the highland games welcoming us onto their dirt track was surreal and dazzling.  thanks to all who brought those logistics into coordinated fluid action.

thanks to my family for hosting my manic ideas and for nurturing them into actionable work.

important to me personally was the start, which was just below the window of my freshman dorm, and the passage of hard miles, the processing of time and choices and life-paths, the meditation of movement, the poetry of distance, erratic, unpredictable, capricious, raging.
near the start, the asu art department, wey hall, just around the bend of asphalt, a longlost thing, but i remember like yesterday smoking in the back door on break from life drawing and drinking a cranberry-apple juice and talking to james and jen and feeling an emphatic promise. an illuminated drive, faith, clean like snow.  the body and soul reeling with the grand architecture of youth and naivitee.  a cathedral of possibility is the young mind.
important to me was the finish:  my family, my pride in accomplishment, my freedom of health, my expansion of self to include new accomplishments.  my stability and the ability to dance within a framework.

the world will rage against your passions, stripping the mind to a clot of stagnant language, thieves and fifteenth-rate ideas, imposing dimensionless servility, but you must rage back.  rage with the joy of the divine.  rage with the passion of survival.  rage with legs and eyes and mouths and hands.  rage with love.


privately, i kept thinking of this as "my little mt mitchell challenge."  that was the run i read about some six years ago that started my fascination with long distance, the mad ascent of mt. mitchell for twenty miles, touching the february summit, then turning back for a twenty mile descent home. a grueling, man-versus-nature-versus-man, raw-ass running, ascetic-gut challenge.  it is a very difficult run to acquire entry into.  but, if not entry into the ultra, there is the junior version, the black mountain marathon, which might just be the thing.  there is also the derby 50, the bull run run 50, and the umstead 50/100. . . . who knows.  for now, back to the daily runs, the scribbles, the coffee stain drawings and the rebuilding of layers of muscle.
a used bicycle at a local shop-- 450 dollars.  worth it? i dunno.  ~2007  allez sport.   the current consideration.
so, above is the newest addition to my considerations:  a road bike.  an interest in cycling has dawned as the summer heat erradicates my energy, draining me empty on 40 mile weeks.  thus far i've ridden a 1997 fuji finest, a 2010 giant defy 3, the above allez, and i am going to try a surly cross-check if i can find a 56" frame.  cycling seems like a great way to cover distance when time doesn't permit the slower pace of running. we shall see.

Monday, June 27, 2011

a catch up of things, 6.19 to 6.23.

6.19 sunday was a nine mile kick across summer rest and the loop and the shorter run left a long morning ahead to chill with the family. restful hours, re-creativity and leisure, they rejuvenate and rebuild things, burn out the debris to a clean working space, push the mind out of the miles. 

lazy afternoon flipped across a scratchy color documentary on de kooning. . . interviews, clips of his studio, the man working against canvas and pigment, de kooning in old age sweeping a liner brush into final melodic ribbons of color as his own mind-knots unraveled. Paintspattered overalls. Alternating color and b&w shots. Stills & moving images. Sag harbor and the door paintings. The charcoal and pastel drawings. The transfer sheets. De kooning's thin toothed smile, smoking into bent fingers.
Eventually all minds fade to music or paint or quiet.

The mileage is struggling against the heat and I am torn down by a 40 mile week that should be more manageable. Aside from the physical work, mental preparations begin to buffer against the travail of the grandfather mountain marathon. The angst that cancers into efforts comes earlier and harder and the endurance escapes the legs via negative self-talk.  Exertion is lost to unwillingness. To continue the legwork is a process of transcendence, and it is a process of being present, a fugue of self. 
meanwhile a six miler at blue clay today with my native american blood going and I felt playful, felt dialed in, hopscotching roots with bursts of speed (smooth but short passages), a fun run, slow and easy, shade and the stillness of the woods, breath, the metronome of things. Was refreshing to just run, turn the garmin outta sight, feel my body doing the work again, to be the center of a moment, the center of a movement. To run with the freedom that started the passion.  
unaware of the numbers.

A fantasy.

One day I will live in rome and I will bicycle from modern districts to ancient ruins and I will have a notebook in my pants where thoughts and images collect.

Rimbaud never did this and as commemoration of my 37th year I am running umstead for 37 kilometers which translates to 22.9 miles and it will be slow and easy and gnarly and miserable.

Ash, smoke, charcoal & the aesthetic of franz kline.

37y, 37k (rimbaud never did this.) a writeup regarding a long trail run in umstead park. . . .

well it was an alarm at 4h44am then abrupt silence but for the sound of percolating coffee and then two hours through dark and dawn to umstead park, and it was 7h34am on sal's branch trail and it was a running narrative of promise and voltage and impact and smooth running, fueled and wholly into the act, and then I searched out the head of the preplanned loop beginning with sycamore loop trail and wrapping the guts of umstead with company mill trail and sycamore trail was a beautiful thing of roots rocks river banks where granite piled like broken plates and little trickles of water entangled with the thrusts of squirrels, clouds of dragonflies, and then the run evolved towards a narrative of solitude, of blues, of bees, and the trail jutted quartz and exalted a young buck chewing air and wrapped hills and the terrain sort of reminded me of the runs in georgia and certainly one of the most engaging trails i've run and the loop knotted back into itself at an intersection of graylyn trail and north turkey creek trail and while reading the trail map I realized I was swarmed by bees. . . true annoyance became anger as those fuckers kept up for at least two miles, new troops added occasionally as one beelines my neck or shoulder or just levitates in my face, eye contact with a thousand eyes, and I was trying to read my now-soggy map and my run became a narrative of lost miles and disorientation and anxiety, of ongoing lost miles and then it was the mad-dash of another trail runner bringing my sluggish quads to a crushing awareness of fatigue, despair, thirst as i'd intended on refilling my bottle at the nowlostcar and the next two miles were plodding along, speed-hiking at its worst, unnerving and hollowing. But back to the blues and man I was thinking of the blues of my life as this was a birthday celebration run and thus retrospect was due and the blues came to mind starting with picasso's blue period, my tubes of pthalo or french ultramarine (red or green) or cobalt or cerulean blue and the minimalist palette of poverty and frequent uprootings, and then m. davis blues, kerouacs smokey blue word-notes, mingus and his blues and roots, monet's false blues as water lilies spin beneath light-flecks of sky, a chapbook I wrote fifteen years ago called “bluesin it in deep winter gray,” the blue of yves klein, the pasty blue extremities of freud's figures, the blue eyes of previous lovers, the blue eyes of a wife, the blueblack cheeks of sleepless years, blue horror of struggle and insomnia and terror and the blue book. Back to the bee swarmed intersection, the bee swarmed intersection now bee-free as they were spread all across my route like the bread crumbs of fables and I now know where the world's bee population has concentrated itself, but turning into the trail with my bearings intact, i kicked 'til i reached the car, grabbed a yogurt and gulpedgulped water and caught back up to my body's needs, eased back into the woods for one more three mile loop on sal's branch and that was that as driving home through raleigh traffic and dead kennedy's and marley and the pleasant fatigue of 17 miles behind me with who knows what ahead other than a shower and the evening's shift and I can honestly say that my efforts on the run held poetic parallel to those of my life, that the run served as a physical metaphor for the endurance of my 37 years, and in just being there, in the woods, running alone against mind and body and soul and time and running with Nature and God and Shewolves and Life and Mooncycles and noise and running just felt right and natural, a place where work is grateful.  And getting to a point where my life feels natural, aligned, synergized, has always been the goal.   

Monday, June 20, 2011

a write up regarding the Brooklyn Arts Center.

Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews is a space that Wilmington needs, has needed. The renovated church is historic, roughhewn, storied, and renewed, like Wilmington itself. Located on fourth street in the Brooklyn Arts Community, St. Andrews has undergone years of efforts and talk towards a recycling into contemporary use; a local finally made it happen. The renovated church now offers an elegant option for many functions.

  1. Appearance
    Since its construction in 1888, the grandeur of the space is preserved by much work and love and time. Massive angles and receding curves offer a musical structuring of the space, working an American gothic style. The edifice is a vertical launch whose size constantly surprises. The facade is a mosaic of earthtoned bricks culminating in a grand spire looking towards the Cape Fear river and PPD and downtown. The inside was gutted into a vast & versatile openness with a stage/altar/focal point at the front. Massive pours of light enter the tri-paneled windows during the day, warming the white-toned walls against the fine-craft woodwork. Attractive ironwork hangs from the ceiling, housing the lights to illuminate nighttime functions. One has a sense of the American majestic that Southern communities sought, the residual influence of European cathedrals prominent and obvious, permeating with the American handicraft and emotive marvel that was a 19th century blend of faith and craft.

  2. A brief history
    Defiantly chic and elegant, the Wilmington landmark remains august after years of decay and neglect.  St. Andrews was a dominant church of the area for a century, serving for religious rites and community functions. Down the block is Goat and Compass and Acme Arts, and near that corner was a man whose memory of the space included his mother's funeral. He reflected on traveling from NYC on holidays to visit his family, and attending the church on those occasions. The neighborhood was once a vibrant and prominent community before succumbing to economic struggles and failing to corresponding blight.  The space has always been an important part of Wilmington.
    The original stained glass of St. Andrews was removed some time ago for preservation but I remember its partially boarded state, a patchwork of gorgeous pigmented glass and deplying panels of wood. This condition preceded its current hipness, when shit was degenerate and undesirable. Fourth street was rough and inaccessible up until seven/eight years ago, and on the cusp of transformation a handful of artists rented a warehouse caddy-corner from St. Andrews and installed a stainless steel bar and named it Art Asylum. Painters and artists worked in the partitioned space, threw a few parties, and we even had a broadway-styled musical debut there. A flower in blight, we survived for a while.
  3. A personal account.
    I remember breaking from painting and sipping coffee while watching the derelict foot traffic on Christmas 2002. The rusted fire escape to the front door of Art Asylum was frequently riddled with trash. The arts council housed below was anonymous and bunkered. I would have never predicted a resurrection of the neighborhood into something so revitalized and beautified. Certainly I would not have guessed that I would stand on an air-conditioned balcony to watch Galactic perform in that trashed building across the way, impressed with the design of the building, the acoustical tightness, the clean state of things, the grand light as sun set, the hardwood freshly varnished and worn in that charmed and comforting way old things can be. And I am grateful for the work and determination that went into putting Brooklyn Arts Center back into use.  It fills a vacuum in our community, connects something vital in our local patchwork culture.
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