Posts Tagged ‘music


agapantha (and memory exhaustion)

I had no idea it would make me this tired.

at a certain age, let’s say mine for instance, if you stop for just the briefest moment and contemplate all that has come before; the nap in kindergarten on the rag rug, the beret in germany, the leash your mother used to keep you close by when you were a toddler, the smell of your father coming home from the post, having your faced buried in your grandmother’s bosom as she hugged you tight, learning to read, the triumph of an ‘a’, the infatuation of a third-grader for his teacher, the smell of jurgens lotion (chocolate covered-cherries), petey bird  pepper cuddles charlie brown, boy scouts, boys club, big brothers, boys state, secret crushes, snapping sherry’s training bra in 6th grade, disappointing mr. robinson in 8th grade, “petunias never cry in an onion patch”, being teased for your femininity-your ‘otherness’, being beat up, playing the cello piano recorder (none that well), not being able to carry a tune–but so desperately wanting to, your first play, the laughter of the audience–the laughter you caused, applause, straight ‘a’s, your secret boy crushes, your sexual experiments with the neighbor boy your age, your mother, mary, grandparents, uncle, aunts, the sissies, learning to drive, that red pick-up and then the ‘mud queen’, a sort-of-girlfriend, the lack of caring when it failed, college, getting drunk, smoking a joint, french class, theatre, train trips, minnesota winters, sugar beet processing plants, acid trips, making out with girls (and boys), communal showers, dancing, ballet, modern, isadora duncan, chicago, your first blow-job, the goodman, friendships that start sticking, trips home as an adult, going it alone, roommates, apartment living, moving, helping friends move–the piano in the stairwell debacle, a cubs game, the ‘el’, an erection on the 22, black girls with transistor radios blaring, walking home during the day, late at night, the first taste of chicago, summers, winters, falls, springs, waiting tables, lenny, jimmy, john, michael, lee, mr. king the salad queen, michel, arnie, klaus, bill, toni, the pakistani contingent, the fat fuck of a maitre d’ whose name i can never remember until i’m away from writing materials, but whose face and handlebar mustache and grasping hands and leering eyes–little piggy eyes–i can recall clearly, punchinello’s, turtle soup, pudgie, le pub, disco, the hustle, polyester and bell-bottoms, boyfriends–most of them i remember, some have slipped the knots and run away from my grasping need to document every little fuck-and-suck, the thief, the priest, the cellist, and his lover, red high-tops, drinking wine at l’escargot, getting picked up on michigan avenue by my lasalle street banker, lovers who liked to watch from a cracked door, holidays and birthdays, celebrating, drinking (i know i mentioned that before, but it bears repeating), making ‘herbal’ tea out of stems and seeds of the last of the bag of marijuana, smoking cigarettes–kools, marlboros, merits, benson & hedges, camels, gitanes, espresso, lemon rind, miller beer, and asti-spumante, laura nyro, joni mitchell, labelle, and joan, i’m sure there are others, but what do you care?, and i’m not even 28 yet; uptown, downtown, mid-town, and soho, the meat-packing district, the mudd club–my punk phase (only because the boys were cute…and easy), black flagg, henry rollins (lust), the russians, the french, the english, i claudius, violet and wally, 4 flights of stairs, despair and the agony of loss, euphoria, the manic-depression of going nowhere (fast), 29; you may find yourself dead-tired.

p.s. his name is gerard, the maitre d’ whose name i can never recall–it came to me in the shower just now and even though i had no writing materials at hand…i managed to make it through washing my hair, peach scrub my face, body wash, stand under the rainshower head and stare off into space, dry myself off, open the door to let the steam out, shave, moisturize (what? you don’t?), dress, and get to the computer with his name still on my lips. i guess i’m not that tired after all.


night moves (the march of the palm trees)

last night the palm trees, in a concerted effort, began their movement with a chorus of clouds & moonlight

the contrapuntal effect of blue & white & starlight & the night sky as the fronds of the palms caught & pulled at the allegro of the clouds was thrilling to behold

soloists shone in their mastery of the medium, pulling the audience into the music of the night with their nimble & adept musicality

& the rousing finish to the movement with all of the palms playing in concert was a breathtaking moment to have witnessed


what i learned (art & the human spirit)

with all the talk of diminishing returns on education in the united states & the slashing of budgets for many core curricula as well as extracurricular programs caused by the economic downturn, it was particularly heartening last night to be reminded how much art (one of the first things to be deemed unnecessary when school administrators & school boards bring out their budget axes. whack!) can be the salvation of so many.

that art (& i am not only talking about the visual arts, but all of the arts: music, drama, literature, dance) has the power to transform individuals’ lives, but also to release them from their prisons (made manifest by disease or social stigma) & allow them to move forward in life because they have found a way to communicate with the world around them is dismissed as inconsequential to the greater good of society is a mistake that is too often made by those with the power to determine the course of young people’s lives.   for shame.

when the voice of one child is quieted by the ignorance of an adult, it destroys what i would deem a sacred duty, a duty that each of us should hold dear, one that we should be held accountable for; that there is room in our world for all voices, regardless of how that voice comes to be.  to deny our society the benefit of creativity is surely the first sign (of many signs) that we are sliding irrevocably toward insignificance.

one can only hope, that the need to express one’s self through the arts will be too strong to destroy & that little by little, enough people will be able to see past their fears (the arts: unquantifiable = unnecessary!) & embrace their own creativity (we all have it, truly) & tend it, letting it flower as it should, in its own time & at its own pace.  we’ll be better human beings for it.



labor day (& lists)

have you ever really considered labor day anything other than a mark on the calendar?  it is the end of one section of time & the beginning of another.  for children & their parents, it denotes the end of summer vacation & the beginning of the school year (mostly); for the rest of us, it’s the last long weekend of good weather (mostly) before the winter holidays drop by for their yearly visit (welcome or not.)

some cities celebrate labor day with a parade, others ignore it completely.  labor unions may mount a sit-in, a demonstration of some sort against the inequities of the rich vs. the poor.   this event may be covered by the local t.v. news organization, but half-heartedly & without the passion they reserve for the latest celebrity imbroglio.

rarely do the people who actually labor for a living have the day off (maids/day laborers/gardeners, you know, the help.  i don’t know that labor day will actually ever mean what it did when it was enacted as a federal holiday in 1894 (whatever its meaning was then, you know, though, just as it would be today, its enactment as a holiday was politically motivated.) <sigh>  we are witness to the disengagement of the populace.  it’s true, no one cares ( there are those poor white folk who are feeling a tad disenfranchised these days; their institutional bigotry pinching their narrow-mindedness like a badly made shoe.)

but it’s labor day & we should celebrate (hallmark, are you listening?  i’m waiting to see that first labor day greeting card, then it will be official.)

we’re getting close to ‘list season’, the time of year when all publications & media outlets along with their writers, critics, essayists (are there any left?) & pundits all contribute their ‘best of’ lists (like used tissue when you have a cold.)

i’ve never been very good at making lists of favorites & i’m not sure why.   it could be that i can’t remember everything that i’ve ever read, seen, or heard (the arts are notorious for their lists, aren’t they?), at least on cue.

it’s much more pleasing to me for a memory of a favorite to bubble up unbidden, such as this morning’s memory of labelle performing their hit ‘lady marmalade’ which i would consider one of my all-time favorite albums, but would’ve probably not remembered it if i had been making  a list.

how could i ever make a list of authors?  just now, at lunch, i was reading about a new book of letters between author james salter & critic robert phelps that’s just been published; salter is one of my favorite authors, but i hadn’t thought of him in ages.

oh, it’s easy to come up with a quick list: cormac mccarthy, henry james, p.d. james, nadine gordimer & lawrence durrell, lawrence, d.h., & tolstoy, rushdie & marquez (gabriel garcia-) but my god, how could i even consider that complete (don’t forget thomas hardy!)  & that’s just the novelists, what about the poets?  & how could i possibly rank them?  yes, i might be able to say that a few have given me greater pleasure (if the number of their works i’ve read were the benchmark,) but to place a #1 or #2 or a #10 next to their names would be very painful indeed.

and that’s just the written word.  forget movies & music, how could you even start?   it’s just too much work (for labor day.)


the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics

this is a subject of which i know nothing.  but it is a subject of which i feel inherently able to comment upon as its very basic essence seems one of which i am genetically predisposed.

the golden ratio/golden rectangle informed the art, architecture of ancient greece & was, allegedly, discovered by our favorite math wizard, pythagoras.   although some claim that the golden mean (phi) confirms a basic aesthetic proportion, others feel that there are too many of these ratios to accurately state that one is more ‘golden’ than the next.

although one can find the golden ratio/mean/rectangle/triangle/pentagram/isoceles triangle in much art of pre-history and again in renaissance art, it’s not until the 20th century that it (for itself) becomes a prominent dialectic in artistic circles.

we may also speculate on the neurophysiological basis behind the sense that the golden mean is a pleasant proportion.  of course, it’s a pleasant proportion & we know that these certain proportions create feelings (little synapses of pleasure coursing through your nervous system & sparking in your brain pan, all *POW* *WOW* *ZAP* *KERPOW*!)

A golden rectangle is one whose side lengths are in the golden ratio, 1: \varphi \, (one-to-phi), that is, 1 : \tfrac{1 + \sqrt{5}}{2} or approximately 1:1.618.  (via wikipedia) & may be easily constructed by following these guidelines.

A golden rectangle can be constructed with only straightedge and combass by this technique:

  1. Construct a simple square
  2. Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner
  3. Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the height of the rectangle
  4. Complete the golden rectangle

for me, though, the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics should be a given.  they say the golden mean does not occur in nature, which seems likely considering the chaotic nonchalance of the natural world (all that striving for dominance, evolution et al.)  but artists (& here i mean ALL artists; musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, CREATORS of art,) the great ones at least, utilize the golden mean, ratio, rectangle, triangle in much of what they do (it might be argued that the abstract expressionists did not and that photographers impose the golden mean upon their compositions.)

the next time you’re at a museum, or an art gallery, take a moment to consider the composition & the artist’s way with the structure of his subject matter, let it be the way, the path to discovering its pleasures, its theme, its beauty.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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