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Was First Revealed To Us Through Dreams

Corky once sat down to write a lecture about how the equations of quantum physics graphed out corresponded to ancient designs, but it came out as a visionary performance poem.

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Sacred Geometry, you see, is a bit of a redundancy.

Mathematics, the language of the universe, held sacred from its discovery.

The holy parabolas, ethereal arcs, celestial sine waves, and assorted sundry sanctified shapes

that comprise the entire Euclidean catechism

are prayers to

—- that which is—–.

Pythagoras the priest knew that it all was just one song—

the arc, the integer, the holy hedron, the baby, the frog, the mountain, the dog, and the shifting swirling dancing cosmos—

a series of sacred equations describing the whole of creation

the music of the rectangle

the poem that is a triangle

songs made of symbols were his prayers

a + b + c = 160 degrees

a x a plus b x b = c x c

All the Holy patterns of antiquity

The Celts The Maya The Rishis

All drew designs illustrating they divined

the principles of Chaos Theory

At least that’s what we call it– as if we were the very first to see

the constructions of infinity

A mandala— The Book of Kells

both demonstrate extremely well

their understanding

Twirling Whirls, loops and knots interweaving like a visual dactyl

Millennia before Mandelbrot ever fabricated a fractal

And The One Mantra that describes it all, like a clarion call

Similar patterns repeating on an infinite scale.

Similar patterns repeating on an infinite scale

Similar patterns repeating on an infinite scale

Like the snake eating its tail

or a labyrinth leading into itself

the infinity sign

was a design paradigm long before Escher’s salamanders ever escaped their paper prison,

before protons smashed together in a ring

electrons dancing around a nucleus, like a conch shell’s concave contours,

like a doll nestled inside a doll inside a doll inside a doll

an arc within an arc, a ring within a ring within a ring,

the inherent structure of everything

ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

Say what?

I’ll explain

the development of a human is a repetition of evolution

we start as strands of protein floating in a sea

that fuse into a single cell

which divides, divides and deviates to form more complex creatures

we got gills for a while even a tail

                 OH LORD!!!

similar patterns repeating on an infinite scale

like a particle accelerator and a henge

like a neuron and a wire

like a cumulous cloud and a galaxy

like ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny

Not some silly homunculus

But something much more wondrous

We are the ultimate manifestation

of creation’s desire for self revelation

we are the acme of organic perception

our inventions continuing life’s unfolding direction

eternally expanding patterns of electricity

particles or waves

depending how you measure them

sparks of light ourselves we are

encased in the amber of matter

four proteins repeating in a double gyre

Carbon and Water Fused In Fire

SMOOTH OUT:

A slang term in vogue among teenagers in Southeastern Wisconsin (particularly those classified/marginalized under the social category/epithet “Burnout” or “Stoner”) during the Mid-1970s to Early-1980s.

Used as a non-authoritarian substitute for CALM DOWN and/or BE QUIET.

“Everybody SMOOTH OUT! The cops are outside!!!”

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SMOOTH OUT. That’s right

There’s been much talk in the BLAHBLAHSPHERE lately about the fact that telling someone who is angry/excited/freaking out to “calm down” has exactly the opposite effect (especially if it’s being done by someone trying to silence/marginalize/gaslight an abuse survivor, woman, POC, LGBTQ individual, or any other marginalized person or group).

And rightfully so. CALM DOWN has been used as a cudgel by autocrats and fascists for centuries as a way to suppress dissent and silence abuse survivors.

So we need a word that says:

I UNDERSTAND YOUR ANGER AND YOUR DISTRUST OF AUTHORITY FIGURES AND RESPECT YOU AS AN AUTONOMOUS HUMAN BEING AND BELIEVE YOUR EXCITEMENT/GRIEVANCES/CONCERNS ARE GENUINE

BUT WE ALL NEED TO RELAX AND FIGURE OUT A WAY TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM AND/OR ADDRESS THIS EMERGENCY!!!

THEREFORE, whenever I think/feel/perceive an individual/group/entity is panicking, being a Drama Queen, focusing on the wrong problem, or their current input is not being helpful in some crucial way….

I will ask them to PLEASE (“please” is implicit in the expression but it always helps to include it when using this phrase)

Smooth Out.

The Reason Trump Says Crazy Stupid Shit:

Other than the fact he IS a crazy stupid shit, is tactical.

Notice how all the 24/7 channels and TV pundits are “debating” the benefits of Huffing Lysol or a Clorox Enema instead of discussing the fact that

HE’S STEALING PPE AND OTHER LIFE SAVING SUPPLIES FROM AMERICAN CITIZENS TO GIVE TO HIS CRONIES TO SELL AT HUGE PROFIT

AND HOARDING THEM TO USE AS EXTORTION LEVERAGE AGAINST GOVERNORS.

And how all the “OH, so smart and well-educated” progressives/liberals/leftists on Twitter, Facebook, and Instafuckingeverywhere are TOTALLY taking the bait and wasting time spinning their wheels over it and trying to outdo each other with clever jokes.

So PLEASE resist the temptation to waste time making snarky jokes about how dumb he is (you KNOW I’m including myself in this) or debating other moot points and concentrate on the real issues as you interact with people.

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING

As I continue to advocate for the reality that we shall need to to remain at home for at least another two or three months, a thought occurred to me.

Some of you may wonder (especially those who have known me for a long time) if I am doing this just because I like hanging out at home and want an excuse not to go back to work.

While I’m the first to admit that my default setting is introvert hermit and that I’ve strategically avoided conventional employment throughout my life, let me make one thing absolutely clear:

When this lockdown hit I was preparing to kick my life into high gear.

The Open Stage that Stann Champion and I had been doing for over 6 years was finally getting some recognition and hit the groove that he and I had been striving for since the beginning.

I was working full time in an office, at a fairly complicated sociological research job that I enjoyed a great deal. I was busting ass and crushing it every day, working much harder than I needed to in order to get my research/scholarly chops back, with an eye to entering Grad School, perhaps even Law School.

My harmonica playing was hitting yet another level, and I was going to spend 2020 getting out and showing the music scene what the last 3 years of hard woodshedding had done for me. And finally take the next step toward fronting my own band.

I’d finally found a Theater Company composed of talented musicians and singers who might have an interest (and more importantly the training and skills) to help me actualize a Gilbert & Sullivan-esque Musical that I’ve been kicking around for several years.

And most importantly, I’d finally gotten the PTSD-related depression/anxiety problems that had been hampering me for 20 years under control, and was remembering what it was like to actually feel good about life and myself.

SO DON’T THINK FOR A SECOND THAT I’M STAYING AT HOME BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO.

I just have accepted the reality that this extreme personal sacrifice is what I need to do— for myself, for the people I love, and (drum roll) for the good of society.

People used to gladly make sacrifices for the good of society all the time, but the practice has fallen out of favor in the last few decades.

And that’s pretty much the central reason we are in this mess.

So SUCK IT UP, Pilgrims.

Pretend you’re Sonny Rollins on the Williamsburg Bridge. A chrysalis waiting to emerge as a beautiful butterfly. A rocket waiting to be launched.

Eat right, keep active, learn and grow. Work toward becoming your best self.

Because when it’s safe for us to emerge, we’ll have a whole society to rebuild- in one way or another.

Friday, June 14 at 7:30PM

Independence Tap

3932 W Irving Park Rd

Days Are Getting Loooong And Summer Is Approaching Fast.
Time For A Rollicking Hootenanny To Get The Blood Flowing!!!
Stann Has A Show That Night, So I Shall Be Doing The Solo Ringmaster Thang With Marianne Bossert (Aka “The Boss”) Working Her Magic On The Sound Board.
And YOU Shall Be There As Well Displaying Your Performing Talent And/Or Enjoying The Show!
All Genres, Styles, And Varieties Of Performance (And Performer) Are Welcome.
Let Us Trip The Light Fantastic And Rock The Tap Independence!!!

The Independence Tap is a great space and this night is perfect for working out new material and expanding horizons as an Artist/Performer.

When we host Open Stages we create an atmosphere of respect for all genres of performance where Artists can feel safe and secure. [No stylistic cliquishness OR DISRESPECT allowed!]

Our greatest joy comes from seeing someone perform for the first time or watching an Artist try out a new genre: a Musician doing Storytelling, a Storyteller doing Stand-Up, a Poet playing Music, a Stand-Up reading a poem…

The Place Where The Boundaries Meet & Overlap Is Where True Magic Happens.

And there is nothing like the feeling of opening a door into a new room in the mansion of your soul— SO COME ON DOWN & GO ON UP!!!

Aarhus, Denmark- August 15

 

Germanysconsin

Along The Road Through Germanysconsin…

HELP!!! I’ve been abducted by a couple of bohemian artists and am being held captive in an Atelier!

They are forcing me to eat healthy organic food, live in the moment, and lighten the hell up.

My dear friend E and her fantastic partner P have been trying their best to put some vigor and whimsy in my stride, and their treatment is beginning to take effect.

The tension is starting to slowly roll off me now that I’m in Denmark. Aarhus is a sleepy little college town right on the water, just what I need after the last five years of hardly ever leaving Chicago and three weeks in nice but still a bit urban and uptight Berlin.

As much as I enjoyed my time there (and want to return whenever I can) it was a great weight off my shoulders when the bus pulled out of the Berlin bus station. Some of the bad mojo was residual anxiety from my 1981 visit during the height of the Squatter’s Riots and the Reagan Cold War, some from the fact that so much of what I was trying to escape from in Chicago (gentrification, conformity, rampant capitalism, Americans) was fully in evidence there, some from the bad jam, and some just because I’d only been out of America for less than a month and was still very much “tightly wound.”

The vibe of Denmark feels great to me. I could sense it as soon as the bus crossed the border from Germany. The architecture changed and the atmosphere just seemed to lighten up a few shades.

The nine hour bus ride (actually longer than my trans-Atlantic flight over here) also helped provide a feeling of distance and of journeying to a vastly new land. Although I have to say it was a very nice bus (double-decker with a free coffee station downstairs) and the ride was no trial at all.

Northern Germany was uncannily like the part of Wisconsin I grew up in (which is not surprising since there was a huge proportion of Germans there), with mile after mile of neat well-kept farms and small towns. The only difference was the architecture of the homes (slate roofs are such a rarity in the US) and the large amounts of windmills and solar arrays interspersed with the crops & villages. At a certain point I woke up from a nap to a vista of tall corn and hay fields so similar to a stretch of I-90 near Janesville that for one odd disorienting moment I thought I was on the Van Galder bus to Madison.

The all-too-familiar scenery helped contribute to the feeling that I hadn’t really been able to leave anything behind, but the crossing into Denmark brought about a sense of optimism and newness that had been sorely lacking so far in my excursion. And when the bus pulled into the Aarhus Bus Station and I saw E & P sitting waiting to greet me I felt as if I were arriving somewhere I’d truly never been, but which also felt remarkably like home.

They greeted me with much joy and love and we strolled to their large flat on the fourth floor of a building overlooking one of the city’s panoply of adorable little mini-parks and my Danish Decompression Session officially began.

They are a couple of free-spirited artist/musicians and have been making me feel as if I am a long-lost brother. In a way I am; E and I met in Shanghai while each of us was in the throes of a great musical/creative epiphany and bonded like brother and sister from the first night at my cousin’s music club. She met P a couple years after returning to Aarhus and they fell into a deep and sweet romantic soul-mate situation. So it’s like hanging with Sis and Bro to be with them.

I’ve been spending my days exploring and taking photos (it’s a gorgeous city that also has some large wooded parks and cool beaches), then my evenings in their delightful company. We went out wandering one evening looking for a place to have some dinner, and I remarked how much nicer they were dressed than I— so they topped off my jeans & t-shirt ensemble with a bright burgundy bowler hat. Usually I would have been much too self-conscious to accede to that sartorial accessory, but with them I gave it not a thought- and we dashed into the Danish nightfall to find some sustenance.

They’ve been telling me how they would like to take me to the West Coast of Denmark, an area renowned for its beauty and rural charm. They have a friend who’s an artist (quite well-known) who is trying to create an artist colony in a little hamlet where she bought a couple buildings.

They are too busy to take me there right now so the plan is for me to just travel up there myself and meet her and see what I can do to assist her in her quest. Sounds like just what I need for the next step in the Decompression.

BTW- Aarhus was the traditional spelling for the city but in recent years it is more common for it to be spelled Arhus (the city officially sanctions the single A spelling), although there is still a bit of debate about it. I tend to use the AA Aarhus because I think it is WAY cool looking. Sorry.

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No Bang-Bang Chicago Really Nice!

 One of the many reasons I love Denmark is that there are virtually NO guns and gun violence is almost unheard of. Of course, my experiences in Rogers Park many years ago make me love it a lot more than most Americans, but it’s still quite a cultural revelation.

I’ll tell people here that on a nice weather weekend in Chicago anywhere between 10 and 30 people get shot and they look at me as if I’m telling a tall tale. When they realize I’m not joking they ask me what is up with America and Guns, and I really don’t have a good answer.

I sometimes talk about the NRA’s influence over lawmakers and how there are just so many people who are so afraid of someone taking away their guns that every time there is a horrible mass shooting they go out and buy more guns- or I talk about the REALLY crazy people who think that all the horrible mass shootings are actually faked by the Government so they can come and take away their guns (how they called the mothers of Sandy Hook victims to tell them their children didn’t exist). I tell them that there are many American people who know it’s insane and think that perhaps there will be a mass shooting so horrible that everyone will wake up to how crazy it is and demand something be done but each more horrible mass shooting just brings a stronger backlash from the Gun People.

But lately I’ve grown tired of trying to make excuses or explanations and I just say that America is an insane country with a National Death Wish. They ask me what I think will happen or what can be done— and I REALLY don’t know what to say.

All I know is it’s nice to not have to worry about getting shot on the street or in a restaurant or theater or wherethehellever. It’s a feeling I want to hold on to.

 

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Photography And Me

 

My photo taking has gotten a bit more serious. I have always been experimenting with composition (as those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter already know) but now I am trying to push myself farther and teach myself more about it. I shoot just as many (if not more) photos than before, but I am being more exacting about what I keep and/or post. If I came across a shot I found interesting I would usually just keep & post every picture that wasn’t completely blurry or askew- but now I’m being more picky about culling all but the sharpest and best composed, and asking myself what makes a certain picture “better” than another.

I suppose you could say I’m trying to find my own aesthetic- but that sounds a bit high-falutin’ for my rudimentary level of ability.

Also just started messing around with some of the features in the low-rent picture management program I have and trying to adjust color/brightness/etc. and have been cropping certain shots- something I should have been doing from the beginning. But it’s not like I’m trying to be Ansel Arbus here.

My Street Photography is always literally of the street. I suppose what I mostly do is Architectural Photography more than anything else, but even when I’m shooting at ground level I try to avoid having people in my shots at all.

There are several reasons, a big one being that it’s already been/being done so much better than I ever could do it by so many people. Another is that as much as I enjoy the Vivian Meier/Henri Cartier-Bresson style of Street Photography, I personally feel that on some level it’s a bit of an arrogant invasion of people’s privacy.

The few times I’ve been snapped on the El or elsewhere by some stranger, my first instinct (always resisted of course) is to go slap them upside the head and shove their camera up their ass. Of course, it always seems like it’s some snotty 20-something twit who’s probably going to post it with a “Look at the weird fat old guy!” caption on their Instagram rather than something that’s going to hang in a gallery somewhere, which contributes to my ire- but REALLY, who the fuck are you to shoot someone without their permission? I suppose in Art the end justifies the means to a certain extent, but it still rankles me on a fundamental level even though I often find the results to be fascinating.

Even if I wanted to do that sort of thing, I just don’t have the look/persona where I could get away with it. Vivian Meier was an unassuming old lady (she also shot with a camera that wasn’t held at eye level) but when I take someone’s photo on the street they wonder what the hell is going on. A women would probably think I was a stalker, and men would wonder if I was a cop or something with my broad build and foreboding brooding ways. And when I smile I just look a bit unhinged, so there’s just no softening it. Plus, to be honest, nobody ever seems to do anything that interesting when I’m walking about with a camera.

But the biggest reason I avoid people in my shots is because of an encounter with an elderly neighbor many years ago in Lincoln Square. He always used to engage my wife and I in conversation on the back porch of our building, and one time he showed us an album of photos he’d just taken on a trip to Disney World.

Picture after picture was almost completely bereft of people, and although I’ve never been there (Disneyland when I was 3 & 6), I know one of the hallmarks of the place is that it’s always jam packed with a sea of humanity. I was absolutely mesmerized, “What’s up? Did you go on some day when the park was partly closed or as a special excursion?”

Turns out that he went with his wife and Grandchildren, and since he didn’t do rides he had much alone time waiting for them all to get through the massive lines take the rides. So what he would do is find a shot/angle that he liked and waited for that brief moment when the tide of people had a break in it. Sort of the photographic equivalent of crossing a busy expressway.

The effect of his painstakingly patient style was unbelievable, like he’d been on some private tour of Disney World, and even those plastic cheesy vistas seemed imbued with a certain profundity without all the legions of tourists lumbering through the image.

Even after 15 years that memory sticks with me, so when I’m on the street or in a park and want to photograph something, I channel old Mr Ramos and (at least try to) patiently wait for that moment when everyone is out of frame.

I am appearing at the Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling on Thursday, September 11 at 7 PM.

I’ll be discussing Chicago Film and selling & signing copies of Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition.

 

It’s free but you need to sign up:

Click Here To Do So.

 

Hope to see you there!

The wheels of the publishing industry grind slowly but grind they have. Chicago Review Press has taken over the contract and Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition will be coming out Spring/Summer of 2013, most likely in June.

Depending on what the marketing people say (YES! A real publishing company with actual marketing people. Hosanna!!!!) I may be reviving chicagocinema.net again as the official site for HOLM 2, or it may become a general interest local arts/film/culture blog which often plugs HOLM 2.

Either way I will be doing something with this site again, dear reader.

 

Feel free to leave a comment if there is anybody out there that still checks in.

Regards to you, INTERNET!!! Ciao!

Things have not been finalized, but I have gotten word that a White Knight has emerged to rescue HOLM 2 (as I lovingly call it) from the depths of “economic downturn in the publishing industry” limbo and we should see a release in the Fall of 2012. I will know more in the next couple weeks and will revive the site (and continue the China stories) if it turns out to be the case.

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