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.
check them out at where you can see pictures and get ideas of their offerings. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

early june morning.

Woke up with reflections of miro, his spanish gardens & basque colors, his pastorals with the rich furrows of land anchored by plastered homes made of clay hands, and miro was painting the wondrous wisdom of the Peasant in his sundrenched canvases but then his metal sculptures appeared, les oiseaux of starlike appearance, a songful launch of cosmic form, the bird like a feminine hand arching into a stream's current (miro was sculpting the bird's song as much as the bird's appearance: the birds presence). miro's large blue paintings (heroic & grand if not tragic and suffering) and the genitalia/farmanimals becoming constellations (earth and her fragrant needs) and the amorphic swells of shape that reference any organic being or no organic being. irving penn's portrait of miro featured his sunleather hands of thick-muscle gentleness, a painter's hands maybe but hands accustomed to work, a slight sepia behind the silver gelatin tones of the print. 
i swallowed coffee before lacing the salomons and heading out to blue clay trails to run a loop of six miles where i fell into the terrain of the earth and pushed up and leaned in and acquiesced to the trail's demands which were many. . . blue clay trails are smooth, fast, yet remain technical with a lot of humps and jumps and the roots are still prominent; speedchess for the feet. the trail engages the body as the dank smell of trees baking and the shifting light of a trail engage the mind. 
running roots while contemplating a painter and his work. different seasons call for different communions.  sometimes we commune in paint, or physical movement, sometimes patient quiet, sometimes ravenous excess. sometimes we are simply autonomous roaming beings, delighting in an angle.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

schumann, beethoven, mingus, a spontaneous essay.

i was listening to the radio with kyote on a wednesday afternoon.

schumann was a fucking mess but when you hear the throaty clangor of his piano clashing against vivace strings like german tongues barking into a venetian night, when you hear his pianoforte syncopation lull then jar against melodic blackforest birdsongs, when the angst of his late compositions tear into something deeper than ears or mind to furiously dazzle, you realize his music was sincere and perfect. Languor and anarchy collide in schumann.
he died in an asylum in 1856 at 46 years of age and was still a fucking mess after a suicide attempt two years before. his ambition of becoming a concert pianist was promising as a student- schumann possessed equal proportions of talent, determination and technique- but the dream collapsed when his hand was worked by a machine of his own devising. The function of his invention was to increase the reach & strength of hands but it instead caused irreparable damage.
(there are other theories explaining the demise of his hand. One theory includes a botched surgery to separate ligaments. Another theory proposes faulty coordination of the hand to be an effect of mercury poisoning, mercury being a popular treatment of syphilis at the time. no one really knows but these theories all convey the slan of romantic conjecture unless, of course, you were schumann living through the raw experience, prior to the fauxfinish of a retelling, the ornamentation of myth, the gaudiness of an orator's language. . . the irony of perception and recitation and the mongering that occurs.)

schumann's a composer whose work I know more from his influences (schubert, beethoven) , his influencings (schoenberg, lizst, brahms), than his own actual compositions. but the abrasive ironwork, the bone-hammer of his piano concerto commanded attention and research and then the parallels to other artists start emerging.  

ie: the late voracious pianoworks of schumann compare in emotional texture to beethoven's final works, the hammerklavier and even the antimelodies of the grand fugue quartet. the syphilis connection to schubert offers a simple correlation in both's relatively young death after a prolific period of work. How all three suffered the torture of audio hallucinations becoming “angel songs” and then degenerate noise- cacophonies of unsound mine. I think of mingus, mingus the composer who preceded mingus the photographer. Mingus who preceded the bedraggled figure evicted from his apartment, bass-less and baseless, the tragic clown of his own musical selfportrait. Schumann was a man of hardedged suffering in a long line of them.

all in all schumann is a powerful orchestrator, a titan of the language of pure sound, a man whose mind swelled like a hornet's nest in a storm while spinning out an opus still marveled over today. . . a vessel dissolved by the power of the very acid it contained, like a narrative, like a nautilus, cantor's aleph, like a love or a lust, a shard of music in the afternoon sipping coffee with an orange scone.

Monday, June 6, 2011

of myth and miles: an essai of lung-distance-log slant.

June 6th  
i. miles as excavation.

de kooning had translucent&papery teeth from a malnourished childhood and in new york while painting some of the most powerful art of the postwar america he survived on cafeteria packets of ketchup 'cause all his money went to color and bedsheet-canvas and midnight coffee. 
(fifteen cents and limitless refills made for many insomniac abstract expressionists.)  
kline was at the cafeteria doodling on napkins later folded into pocket for further development, his eyes and coalminer hands charcoal dark, his eyes and fingers yellowing. motherwell wrote eager ideas with a pencil from harvard and he was not hungry but he was struggling (columbia was expensive).  gorky had one good arm left, the wrong one, and he managed to off himself with it. meanwhile rothko was bleeding out in his studio bathroom, seagrams seven thinning the blood and rushing the deadlocked thing.  schnabel was not yet 
a boy and beuys was the new duchamp and freud was sipping schnapps with bitter, muscleless models.

i was crossing the wrightsville beach drawbridge at mile nine with the chorus in mind: de kooning had translucent teeth and meticulously clean brushes.

rage and its echo.  

pollock once punched de kooning. rauschenberg once erased de kooning. de kooning didn't give a shit either way. he was occupied.

Later de kooning would succumb to alcohol and elaine and alzheimers and his estate would be dredged through the legal imbroglio that makes even the purest painting a horror of assethood and de kooning (in flemish) means “the king."

to enunciate, van gogh's ribcage splintered into waspnest lungs beneath ironball shot, the fire of absinthe neurosis, the spray of ravens above sunflowers, impasto tracks of bristle in lemonyellow sun. beneath these things was the love of a perfect pigment and the god igniting it. 

and right now its blueberry scones and gogol bordello with kyote in backyard, monday brunch, and i'm anchoring this narrative back down.

y'day was a touch cooler and I was due a long run, 18 or 20, needing the mileage appropriate to the grandfather mountain marathon in 34 days but a sore throat and some mad sinus pain worked against me, dropping my mileage to a struggling 10 miler. wrightsville beach's wide loop (including the bird reserve and some incline/declines along the way to summer rest) seemed right and I ran it without haste as a white porpoise drifted beneath the bridge at mile seven but the white porpoise became a white buoy and the heat was working by this time and my pace was labored but obligated. Ruminations on the grandfather mt. 26 continued and de kooning was there too but considerations of running the asu track into the mountains replaced much dread with reflection on runs past. Runs on highwayside in tennessee, cold rain spitting into face wincing against early-evening headlights. Runs on unpainted asphalt roads across pennsylvania farmland rolling in neat mondrian quilt. Runs passing bridges over mayan ruins on red oxide bikepaths in cancun. 
then the infernal walks of earlier days, the miles spent walking beneath delirium and depression or chemical horrors or just searching for something different to endure, something worth enduring, and the idea of running boone's memory-laden streets forces a barrage of questions, a season of introspect, un saison en enfer. And  37 years pushes the introspect a bit deeper, pushes the drawing paper and running shoes and dead paint-tubes and gray paint and gray hair and gray language. Immersion in a thing:  it is the passion that is important. it is the faith to work that is important.  to be present in the work of the thing, the Work of the thing, its struggle, is what is important.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

language snatches from 8 miler today. forgive the poetics.

We are imperfect teeth and elephant soul. Sexdread in mustang head. Muy gusto.

Your hair is a flock of wild song- a knot of psalm- a tangle of riverprose. schoenberg or webern come to mind. nothing traditional, nothing melodic, it wouldn't represent, it wouldn't be right. mouth purses against fist, sawing a sort of flabby reeve sound. Imperfect souls and mustang teeth. Memory may capture what the soul sets free.
You refine language in your sleep. with inevitable poetics, your sad eyes research and catalog doubts, the nuanced recoils, the lulls. . . a reclusive mining, stolen from a witness. I am bewildered by your time in dark mind.
Soul dancing beneath a drape of leather-- lost is nuanced pose, lost is essential movement, lost like a fine-boned bird trying to lift a blanket of ox-skin. Music in a vacuum.
your eyes stay on the level, diamond- lucid. a theater and its heavy curtain. eyes that dissect, eyes that reassemble, eyes. Ballistic like van gogh sunflowers.  I am reassembling, collaging. fragments.

your hair was a tangle of wild song,  heated breath, tooth-raw neck and sexstained ribs. Metronomes of ivory.
You are elephant, soul and ivory, leather, leaden, melancholy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

to Catch, to Catch, to Catch.

Keith Rhodes is a recognized chef who braids farm-to-table philosophy with low-country cooking and elevated culinary presentation. He brings solid accolades behind his cuisine, including a James Beard Award Nomination for 2011 and a Best Dish award in North Carolina for 2010. His food is an eclectic mix of Michelin ambitions and shrimp and grits sensibility; luxury ingredients are juxtaposed against highwayside produce and small-source ingredients. Little-known proteins become stars alongside country buffet staples, mulling a high-vs-low play of flavor notes, amplifying something deconstructed or something extraordinary. Foodies and writers and gourmands trek to sample his menus and so did we. Well, we drove four minutes from home.

Mr. Rhodes maintains his passion for our locale with Catch restaurant.  Market Street's strip malls and vacant car lots scream urban sprawl, reckless construction, while daring even the bravest of drivers to turn left or right.  Market Street terrifies city developers across the nation. But Mr. Rhodes moved into one of those strip malls, designed a nice, unassuming and simple interior, squeezed a kitchen behind some partitions, and started cooking. To Catch.

The maitre d' greeted us at a small podium in front of young herbs growing beneath bright lights and she sat us at a table that featured a slight wobble. The room was bright with evening light from large windows (facing Market St), and artful photographs of local beach scenes charmed the modest space. Casual but smart is a catch-phrase of the space, from describing the bar area to the staff attire to the overall vibe. (Mr. Rhodes emits the same vibe- I used to see him at The Village Market after dinner service when he was chef at Deluxe.  A friendly guy.) The service at Catch is focused and engaged and their knowledge of the food was impressive. She anticipated our questions and responded with well-informed answers. If she did not know, she found out. We were specialed and Kas got an excellent recommendation of wine and we got into the menu with our orders.

Our oyster appetizer offered six perfectly fried NC darlings bedded across a good cole slaw. The cole slaw was room temperature but fresh, which was fine when paired with the oysters' temperature. In fact, I believe Chef Rhodes may have designed the dish that way, to present the creamier undertone of a blue cheese folded in with the slaw. A tooth of shell did bite into my gums but I cannot dis the dish on that one mishap. All in all, a good starter.

The sweet potato salad of sauteed sweet potatoes, spinach, chevre, cranberries and toasted hemp seeds was good and plentiful. This is the dish that won NC Best Dish award last year, and I agree that it was very good. North Carolina has good spinach, excellent local goat cheese, the sweet potatos are a major cash crop, and we have really good hemp. It all worked marvelously in this dish.

Kas had scallops, listed as OBX diver scallops, grilled on bamboo skewers, and they were delicate and light and delicious with a smoky char pushing against citrus notes. Alongside were two thick slices of fried green tomato: amazing. The dolloped aioli was tasteful with white truffle as a base flavor, but the scallops were superb sans sauce.
I had local flounder pan-fried with a lively breading insulating a finely-flaked meat. This was the whitest meat flounder can produce, and I think Mr. Rhodes procures the finest seafood around.  (Hence the name Catch, I suppose.)  The filets were easy to savor with good clean buttery flavors bolted by a vinaigrette of lemon, peppers, perhaps saffron.  The filets were not large, but were cut to the exclude the lesser ends of the meat.  Sweet potato puree and sauteed spinach accompanied the entree. The flounder was good for what it was, and it was true to the menu's description. 

The highlight was a spanish basque cake, a buttery pound cake with almonds and a caramel sauce slung across the plate, maybe a hint of lemon zest. Topping the basque cake was freshly whipped cream.  The cake was a magnificent cracking crust of full sweet aromas yielding a warm near-custard center.  If I take anything to the grave from my life as a dessert addict, it will be the part of this cake I wrestled from Kas. 

One issue that lingers is the portion-to-cost ratio. With a low-country format I anticipated larger portions, and my instinct is that 23 dollars worth of flounder should amount to more, but I was satiated by the end of my plate (and one and one-half of Kas's scallops). They did not serve us bread, but I saw bread at other tables so it must be delivered on request. I didn't care about the bread so much as I was curious of what Chef Rhodes would choose for Catch's menu. After all- it could have been jalapeno cornbread or something totally funked out and awesome, or it could have been a crusty basic bread working towards technical perfection.

(Catch has two locations.  This meal was at the Ogden location while the other spot is in downtown Wilmington.  Check online for more information.  I would recommend reservations for any dining occasion there.)