I keep meaning to tell you all that I’ll be back semi-regularly all-proper-like soon. I’ve been going through a weird phase, naturally. For the first time in a long time I’m not struggling with a serious health issue, and in ways that I’m still trying to understand, the process of learning to think of myself as well again has been nearly as unsettling for me as my diagnosis was in 2011. It was a strange and difficult mental hurdle to clear, to learn to think of myself as under attack and in grave danger, when I wasn’t in any pain and didn’t look or feel any different. It’s apparent now that I’ll have to make as big a leap in a different direction, to learn to think of myself as someone who is free to get on with her life. It feels great, of course, and it’s exciting, but the scariest and most disquieting moments changed me forever, and having already suffered a recurrence during the first portion of my treatment, which in itself was full of bad surprises, my new normal feels extremely iffy. I suspect I’ll feel more at home in it the longer I’ve inhabited it, but the process, so far, requires endless and unseen adjustments on my part.
This whole time I’ve looked the same as ever, which is both comforting and misleading. If anything I’m leaner and healthier-looking than I was two years ago. Many of the people in my day-to-day life have no idea how improbable this sometimes feels for me. I’ve mostly been quite alright, physically; my treatment and its side effects were more disruptive than any of my symptoms were, and compared to others I got off easy. I’m endlessly grateful for this, but it’s alienating, too; I’ve been swimming in deep water, and nothing about my appearance reflects that about me. I’m calmer, a lot calmer, but I’m not necessarily more accepting of people; I know with certainty, for example, that very few of them are capable of saying something when they don’t know what to say. I’m closer to some of the people I love the most, but perhaps more dismissive of people who aren’t genuine than I ever was. I’m sure there have been other changes I’ve yet to notice. I find myself cataloging them as reflexively as if it were part of my day job. There, at least, I have a repertoire of lawyer apps to work with, with names that belong in a David Foster Wallace novel: TextMap, CaseMap, Concordance, Stratify, Relativity.
All of this alternates between being a lot to think about, and a lot that I try not to think about too much. I’m likely to resume not saying much about this aspect of my life here on my blog! I like my privacy, and my struggles with this stuff have already taken up far too much space and energy, far more than I ever wanted to give. I’ve long doubted there’s much value in writing about this stuff at length, anyhow. Serious illness is a separate world, a distinct territory parallel to all others, and even the most generous visa wouldn’t allow you to see the parts of it that changed my outlook forever. I could point to where I was robbed, and I could probably describe the curious and terrifying things I sensed I was surrounded by during my longest nights there, but putting a slide show together is near the bottom of my things-I’d-like-to-do list at the moment. Not to mention that parts of it would be untranslatable no matter how much effort I put in.
As this brief blog post is in urgent need of cheering up, I’ll show you a little something I’ve been working on lately. It’s a wool felt sun for my cat Vivian, who I’m madly in love with. It’s just about ready to be stuffed with wool and catnip. It has her eyes, of course, plus a third, for extra perceptiveness and good luck.
The Sangha Program
For Boy Scouts And Explorers Who Are Buddhist
I’m trying to find a spot in my apartment for this vintage (1950s?) Boy Scouts poster. They were apparently recruiting buddhist boys and I suppose I am too, though it’s strictly a bring-your-own-kerchief arrangement, and you needn’t be buddhist, or a biological boy. I spent a semester in college studying in a buddhist monastery in India but the closest I have ever come to any Boy Scout stuff is I once sat next to a guy who sued them in a restaurant while he gave an interview about the case, which concerned their homophobic membership policy. He didn’t win that case, but “avowed homosexuals” are of course welcome in my troop, as are beardos, weirdos, sluts, hair hoppers, and people who are anti-troop on principle but like hiking. Merit badges will be awarded for arcane campsite selection; non-imperious hike leadership; fire-side blog-admiring; impressive erection of tents (that is what scouts get up to in the woods, is it not?); preparation of campfire breakfasts; preparation of campfire coffee (a separate and important pursuit, it nearly goes without saying); and tasteful and well-mannered book-borrowing. NYC-area recruits who like to take day hikes but do not have a car are eligible to receive Metro North train snacks.
The symbol on the poster is the wheel of dharma, also called the Dharmachakra. It’s a very, very old symbol with roots in Indian buddhism. Lots of types of buddhists use the wheel as a symbol but when one starts talking about turnings of the wheel things get really complicated. The concept of a sangha is more straightforward; it is, simply, the buddhist community.
a Tibetan altar cabinet with dharma wheels on the doors
The official Boy Scouts sangha program apparently still exists, but it’s confusing.
Vintage 1940s or 50s Coffee Pots gang jacket on Etsy.
Cloudy Busey, “Pound Your Town To Hell.”
are those yr boobs I saw on an east village mailbox?
Just this once let’s get Wednesday off to a slightly sleazy start, as if this were a meeting of the Slightly Sleazy Wednesday Morning Club. The inspiration for / title of this post comes from an email I received from Ms. Kitty Geyser. Also from a neighbor in my ex-boyfriend’s building, where I lived for many years. He’s a beardo we call Cameras on account of the unfriendly, searching looks he gives us. He says hello to my ex-boyfriend but he’s never spoken a word to me. Our friend Christine said we are his Berlin-in-the-20s. I admit to having slithered in or out of the building looking Anita Berber-ish on a few occasions over the years, but the latest thing that set his eye- and beard-cameras on fire was a basket on my ex’s bike. He got a wicker basket for it, which is apparently one of the fruitiest fruity things a guy can do. He came out of the apartment with it and ran into Cameras and his roommates, and reported that their eyes were glued to it like hot burning lasers all the way down the stairs.
Anyhow, our meeting, yeah. It’s totally fine if you’re still wearing your outfit from last night, I don’t mind at all.
photo from a 1980 sci-fi convention here
While you’re washing your face the rest of us will have a look at this poster I found for an interesting-sounding movie from the 70s, Orgies au Camping. Poster from Etsy here.
Here’s a lurid little painting by Reggie Kray, Ron and Reg in Top Hat and Tails, via The Guardian.
And here’s a flier I found at an art opening at Family Business gallery a couple weeks ago. My friend Jim had a piece in this show. I like what they did; it’s a tiny gallery and they crammed it full, with art all the way up the walls and hanging from the ceiling too. There were lots of these fliers thrown out to the crowd, all different.
Ann Sorel, “Amour à Plusieurs,” via Vinyle Archéologie on YouTube. I tried to translate the lyrics to this because it sounded intriguing. I wish I hadn’t because it’s actually kind of a downer: “Love to many it is not good for your heart.” Shit no, it sure isn’t.
Here’s a Yayoi Kusama orgy / happening in Amsterdam, 1969, via the Looniverse. I don’t know whether they did have an orgy that day or was she just selling copies of her orgy newspaper. The woman in the blue suit appears to be afraid someone will grope her eyeballs, but everyone’s got plenty of clothes on. Maybe it was called off on account of shivery weather.
Bettie Page photo via Olympia le Tan’s blog, which has a nice mixture of things I like to look at: loads more photos of Bettie and Bettie look-alikes, loads of photos of Morrissey, plus some shoes, plus the book-shaped handbags she makes.
Bettie via Olympia Le Tan’s blog
Olympia Le Tan bags via Hint
If we’re going to meet mornings this way semi-regularly you’re going to need to get your own coffee pipe. I don’t mean to be bossy, I just want to get everyone on the same page here. You can order one from Zang! (via Dangerous Minds). I think you should fill yours up with my current favorite Brazilian espresso and some super silver haze, which I’ve heard from a friend is a champagne among herbs. Some things just go together. I think this could be the next coffee Thing, now that everyone’s experimented with pour-over-brewing fair trade single-origin coffees crapped out by greasy jungle cats, finding the right boutique weed to complement and enhance your coffee.
If you titrate yourself correctly maybe you’ll see an apple in your cappuccino.
Don’t get too messy with all this stuff. Here are some informational AA comics if you’re the type we should be worried about.
“It Happened to Alice” via coisas do arco da velha
Posted in art, found objects, music, objects
Tagged Bettie Page, coffee and weed, neighbors, Orgies au Camping, Reggie Kray, slightly sleazy, stoned people, Yayoi Kusama
The first two images are my pink rocks, most of which are from here. The rest are from who knows where, credited when possible.
Wendell Castle pink floor lamp (“Pinkie”) at 1stDibs.
Twink, “Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box,” from the album Think Pink.
Naive mountains i.e. sans Evian.
Moroccan rug at 1stDibs.
Close-up of Tadanori Yokoo’s The Dream Merchant Fairies via 50 Watts.
Vashti Bunyan, “17 Pink Sugar Elephants,” from the album Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind.
Rose pashmak / fairy floss / cotton candy / whatever they call candy fur in your motherland is available from Pariya.
London toile wallpaper by Timorous Beasties.
Shell fragment chez Lunar Camel Co.
Pink Bamileke headdress from Cameroon at 1stDibs.
Wire, “It’s So Obvious,” from the album Pink Flag.
Earlier this week the New York Times turned its attention to Hartford, Connecticut, which reportedly “could probably rival the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco as a wellspring of psychedelic imagery . . .” I was born there, so naturally I rolled my eyes at the obviousness of this observation. The Times is always so behind on this sort of thing. Yes, and?
Indeed there are, everyone already knows it. And? Oh yes, the Mark Twain house. Which, like any Hartford kid, I visited regularly on school field trips. And which featured in a recurring dream I had several times between, I think, grades 2 through 5. (Kids in grades 6 and above don’t seem to get taken on as many field trips, probably because by then it’s difficult to prevent them sneaking off to enjoy the cigarettes and schnapps they purloined to make the bumpy bus ride worth its while).
photo by Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times
the house’s innards via marktwainhouse.org
It was popular during the Victorian era to keep a lock of a loved one’s hair as a memento after their death, often incorporated into a piece of jewelry. In the Mark Twain house there’s an entire bun under glass. I think it was his grandmother’s. In my memory it hangs above a mantle, though in reality it may be elsewhere. Wherever it is I’m sure it is still catching the eye of little Hartford girls and boys. It’s grotesque, dry and scraggly-looking and bereft of its owner. In the dream I’ve lingered behind in the downstairs room with the hair in it – the drawing room? – while my class has moved on to another part of the house. The glass falls to the floor, and a moment after it shatters, the bun uncoils and skitters away to hide under the nearest chair, making a faint rasping sound on the floor as it does. I am paralyzed with fear that if I move, it will come out and wind itself around my feet or, worse, crawl up one of my legs.
You can get your own wellspring-of-psychadelic-imagery buns on Etsy if you don’t already have some object that plays that role in your mind:
It is high time for a Lunar Camel Co. pledge drive! The pledging is for my aquatic pod fund. I would find it very relaxing to spend time in a boat-like pod, bobbing around in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Maine, but it’s probably not going to happen without reader support. Here is the aquatic pod I need:
It looks like I’ll need a minimum of $100,000 to get ensconced in one. Cough up enough support and I will rummage my apartment for a coffee mug or tote bag to send you — surely that makes your contribution tax-deductible. I would greatly appreciate it if you could be as generous as circumstances permit because I know I’ll find my pod extra relaxing if it’s customized with a reclaimed teak deck and if the interior is upholstered with Josef Frank’s Navigaire and antique Japanese boro textiles. Stuff adds up, people.
Navigare fabric, Just Scandinavian, $270 per yard; “extreme sashiko” boro at Kimonoboy’s Japanese Folk Textiles, $1,750.
Accordingly, I am prepared to invite contributors at the $10,000 and up level aboard for an intimate thank you-cocktail gathering as soon as the vessel is seaworthy as a small token of my considerable appreciation.
Click on the weed swimsuit or the meta-beach bikini below to buy one to wear to my pod party.
Summer is nearly over, I know. I’m thinking I’ll need the coming winter to make all of the necessary arrangements for my aquapod and have it built, and then next summer will be amazing. Eventually I want to have half a dozen pods or so, functioning as a sort of oceanographic sanitorium / artists’ colony, but I am pragmatic and economical and would be happy to get started with just one pod. Hammacher Schlemmer is selling the “aqua pod suite” pictured above for $91,100 but I wonder if it would be more cost-effective to have these pod people build me a one-off pod. The mini-bar included in the Hammacher Schlemmer model is a must but I could certainly do without central air. It may be possible to find an old pod and lovingly restore it. It was a vintage pod I saw on Wary Meyers that set my pod-planning in motion.
click on the image to have a look at that aquapod
There is a question of where to anchor the thing. I have a place in mind but not a particular spot. I’ve been going to Vinalhaven — an island in Penobscot Bay about twelve miles off the coast of Rockland, Maine — for a week or two every summer for years, and this year I will be going to the nearby island of North Haven instead. I’m leaving the week after next and I will have aquatic pods on my mind. These are old photos from summers past but they will hopefully give you a sense that it’s an ideal place for an aquapod. It’s a pain in the ass to drive up the coast of Maine for hours and then get on a ferry but I think the privacy and the pine trees and the detachment from just about everything I have ever wanted to get away from are well worth the trouble.
Don’t be shy about contributing at a lower level than the $10,000 Platinum Party Friend Circular Circle. Maybe you could give $500 and be a Driftwood Bounder. (Your name would be scratched into a piece of driftwood in my pod’s bar area).
In the meantime, here are some songs I’d play in my pod. I can’t cosily embed the 8tracks mix I made here in my blog post, but if you click on the player you will be taken to the place for listening to it.
aquatic pod pledge drive mixtape
Glenda Collins, “It’s Hard To Believe It”
Josef K, “Sorry For Laughing” (Postcard 7″ version)
Black Randy And Metrosquad, “I Slept In An Arcade”
Ruth, “Polaroid roman photo”
Magazine, “Boredom” (Peel session)
The Fall, “Glam Racket – Star” (Peel session)
Adam & the Ants, “Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2)”
Alien City, “Cathode Rays”
Can, “She Brings The Rain (From ‘Bottom-Ein Grober Graublauer Vogel’)”
Marcos Valle, “Minha Voz Zira Do Sol Da America”
Television, “Carried Away”
The Breeders, “Only in 3’s”
Young Marble Giants, “Eating Noddemix”
Yays & Nays, “Nature Is My Mother”
The Kinks, “Animal Farm”
Orange Juice, “A Sad Lament”
If you don’t have time to listen to the whole mixtape, at least check out the Black Randy and the Metrosquad song. It’s so good.
If you are wondering about that Glenda Collins, yes, it was written and produced by Joe Meek, so that is why it sounds like a Joe Meek song. Ready Steady Girls! says that after he shot himself, Glenda “took an office job and only returned to singing in cabaret and at weddings.”
Thankfully Adam Ant hasn’t gone that way. As a tiny schoolgirl I loved him — in one of my elementary school photos, 3rd or 4th grade, I wore an Adam Ant badge pinned to the outfit my mother dressed me in, and to this day I am grateful to have grown up thinking it is perfectly normal for men to wear a hussar’s jacket and lashings of makeup — but I’d never heard Dirk Wears White Sox until recently. It’s actually really good. I’d been meaning to give it a listen for years because I love The Monochrome Set and I knew some of them had been Ants. It’s darker and artier than I was expecting. It sounds a bit like a Wire album at moments. I think you should have it in your collection.
Two of the songs in this mix came to me via Allegory of Allergies: Alien City’s “Cathode Rays” (which I stumbled across in 2009, and I still listen to the album all the time), and Yays & Nays, “Nature Is My Mother” (which I listen to far less often, but appreciate as a perfect car song for driving to or from a stoned hike, and probably to or from an aquatic pod too).
The Marcos Valle comes via the former Mr. Lunar Camel Co.’s wine people, some of whom are really into Marcos Valle. You should ask your wine people what they are listening to; they might have something great for you.
There’s an interesting story in today’s New York Times (via Gothamist) about some people in Brooklyn who have a monolith problem. Specifically, Verizon plopped a big grey fiberglass pole down in Flatbush without consulting anyone. It’s twenty feet high! Obviously Verizon is an asshole. An Episcopalian priest (and Kubrick fan?) who lives in the neighborhood told the Times “[t]he neighbors started gathering around it like it was the monolith in 2001.”
Photo by Josh Haner / New York Times.
So many of our new technologies are small or otherwise unobtrusive or exist only in the cloud — I’m pretty fascinated with the fact that these people have a new object on their block to encircle, inspect, possibly (probably) kick, and figure out how to deal with. It brings to mind a college class I took at Sarah Lawrence called The Philosophy of Technology, in which we read a lot of Herbert Marcuse and talked about the phallocentric nature of rocket ships, that sort of thing. I can’t remember my professor’s name but I can tell you that for sure he’d say it’s not a monolith, it’s a big, late-stage capitalism boner.
I’m not trying to poke fun at it. It isn’t funny, this ugly object. Actually it is quite funny, but I feel bad that these people have a big, shitty technological thing hulking on their block through no fault of their own. I also feel it is contemptible Verizon didn’t have the wit to go full monolith with it — it really is just a big pole, and that is an act of aesthetic cowardice. The company says it is now working with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to identify “alternatives” to plopping down more of them, but in the meantime, a friend and I have come up with some ideas about alternative ways of living with this particular pole:
1. Make it into a candy cane. We feel that the green and white kind are less Christmassy than the red and white kind and more suitable for year-round looking-at. The fruity kind are less Christmassy still, but those don’t seem right for Flatbush.
2. Make it into a Maypole like the one in The Wicker Man.
There has to be a Brooklyn band that could come up with a fantastic new Maypole song for the people of Flatbush.
3. One person greases the pole and everyone else tries to shimmy up it. (Annually, with prizes). I have seen this happen at a country fair in Connecticut. It still happens in other places too. This particular pole is pretty thick so it’s probably a good one for urbane, middle class people with limited pole-climbing skills to start out on.
4. Get Claes Oldenburg to make a sculpture of a giant pair of trainers and hang it off the top of the pole, the way drug dealers supposedly do. Maybe a bit too edgy for a historic district in Flatbush, but it will draw art tourists, and they’ll want to buy some lemonade or kombucha or tote bags or whatever from the locals, so it will bring money in. Voila!
I am trying to share my new favorite scent with you but I’m not sure I’m operating WordPress’s blog-o-smell technology properly. There are a lot of knobs to twiddle! You are meant to be beguiled by the scent of Quiromantico Levantador, a Peruvian concoction I ordered from (of course) Shamans Market. The packaging was irresistible — 70s nudies! — and the description intrigued me:
This Perfume is an extract of the roots of live and esoteric plants such as Hiebras Doncella, Savila, Rosemary, Ash Tree, Hazelnut and Pine. It also contains the spirit of the great teachers of the Peruvian Forest. When your fortitude is low and you think that your life disappears in the suspense, then it is time to use this Esoteric Perfume, which has the roots of these diverse plants, that have the virtue of giving you OPTIMISM.
It’s basically Florida water for people who live in yurts and teepees. I’ve only been wearing it a few days and I’m not appreciably more optimistic yet, but I do smell thoroughly esoteric. Success!
My marimo balls arrived a few weeks ago and are quietly doing whatever it is they do. They arrived in a little glassine envelope, moist and fuzzy to the touch, perfectly spherical and smelling very pleasantly mossy. I’m pretty happy with them. Take a good long look at them now because I probably won’t show you them again until they’ve achieved thunderous girth, and that’s going to take a while.
My marimo balls at present.
An approximation of what my marimo balls will look like the next time I show them to you. I plan to keep them intact so you should picture me reclining on top rather than posing inside, as this woman was doing inside a dull old grass ball at the Hampton Court Palace garden show. Photo by Luke MacGregor/Reuters via The Guardian.
A certain helpful someone who was cleaning up my apartment while I was at work blearily mistook my marimo balls for some sort of culinary experiment gone wrong and flung them into the sink, but they don’t appear to have suffered for having spent time out of their little glass home. The ensuing email discussion (“those are intentional pets!”) brought forth Gmail ads for Mr. Big Moss Collection (“You should see whether they might be interested in retaining your consulting services . . .”). Fellow moss-keepers take note, Mr. Big does not go around “collecting” other people’s mosses the way houseguests do; instead it is a big — supposedly — collection of mosses for sale, some of which are nearly as attractive as my marimo balls.