Archive for the ‘Arts & letters’ Category

Gassho, Peter Matthiessen

April 5, 2014

Author, naturalist and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen has gone west.

Jeff Himmelman recently wrote a piece on Matthiessen for The New York Times Magazine — I just read it last night, and a good read it is — and today an obit followed in the news columns.

Zen is a tough nut to crack, but I think Matthiessen did a pretty fair job of it while arranging what seems to have been a graceful departure given his circumstances (more than a year spent battling leukemia). Discussing radical experimental measures that might have helped keep him around a while longer, he said,  “I don’t want to hang on to life quite that hard. It’s part of my Zen training. … The Buddha says that all suffering comes from clinging. I don’t want to cling. I’ve had a good life, you know. Lots of adventures. It’s had some dark parts, too, but mainly I’ve had a pretty good run of it, and I don’t want to cling too hard. I have no complaints.”

Speaking with The Guardian newspaper in 2002, he said that Zen “is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake.”

“We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past,” he continued. “Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.”

In the here and now, Matthiessen’s final novel, “In Paradise,” is to be published on Tuesday.

I don’t know much about art, but. …

April 4, 2014
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is.

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is.

Well, look what the snow drug in.

That nice little dumper did wonders for what passes for a lawn here at Chez Dog (it’s kind of green, and it’s on the ground, so we call it a lawn). And there’s more precip’ in the forecast, so ’ray for April so far.

Elsewhere, something less appealing is crawling out from under its covering. It seems Alfred E. “Worry” Bush has turned his limited skill set to painting since leaving office, and an exhibition of his portraits has opened in Dallas.

You may be familiar with his previous works, “Afghanistan” and “Iraq,” bits of performance art that required gallons upon gallons of blood and bullshit. We can’t afford them, and don’t want or need them — they don’t even match the sofa, f’fucksake! — but we’re paying for them anyway.

Based on what we’ve seen of those, I’m surprised ol’ Alfred’s portraits could find an exhibition space loftier than a refrigerator door in a prison cafeteria. They certainly make a compelling argument for hanging more artists and fewer paintings.

 

 

Rowdy dow dow

March 17, 2014

This is one of my favorite bits for a St. Patrick’s Day playlist. But the first time I heard the song, it was on a Planxty album. A different sort of a tune altogether, don’t you know.

At the time Planxty included Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn; Paul Brady didn’t join up until later. I saw Irvine and Brady play at a small venue in Corvallis in the early Eighties, and it was quite the show. Here’s their take on the same song.

I have all these on vinyl. One of these days I have to get off me arse and digitize ‘em so.

• Editor’s note: And yes, I did make it home without incident. Never even had to check a bag and risk my proud-ofs getting lost in the ozone. The final flight was the topper — Nazi torture seats the size of a child’s car seat and all the elbow room of your “final destination,” a passenger nearby who apparently decided to marinate in cheap cologne in lieu of showering,  another who clearly had given up washing his feet for Lent (1976), and a baby re-enacting episode one of “The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots.” Good times. The next show is in Louisville, Kentucky, and if I go, I am so driving.

Ride ‘em, jewboy

March 5, 2014

The inimitable Kinky Friedman, he of the Texas Jewboys, has made it into a runoff for the Donk nomination for Texas agriculture commissioner.

You may recall that Kinky, who favors legalization and cultivation of hemp and the whacky-terbacky, once ran for governor and got thumped  despite winning slogans like “Why the Hell Not?” and “How Hard Could It Be?”, references to predecessors Alfred E. “Worry” Bush and Goodhair “Bad Head” Perry. His chances in the ag-commish race appear equally poor, since if he manages to beat his runoff opponent there is a Republican candidate waiting in the wings.

Still … why the hell not? Ride ‘em, jewboy.

• Editor’s note: A tip of the Mad Dog Stetson to Ed Kilgore at Political Animal for noting that Kinky was in the hunt again, and for reminding me of the timely melody, “We Reserve the Right To Refuse Service To You.”

And the winner is … George Washington!

March 3, 2014
The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin' to trade it in on a Toyota.

The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin’ to trade it in on a Toyota.

Some class of awards show was hogging all the bandwidth last night, I understand.

We freelance cycling rumormongers never get to put on the Ritz and walk the red carpet, even those of us who dabble in the cinema. When we open the envelope, our prize for a job well done is a few wrinkly pictures of dead presidents (if we’re lucky).

I was able to skip the big show last night, Herself being on the road for bidness purposes. She had to motor through the mountains to Dysfunction Junction for a library conclave, and it being March in Colorado, rather than rent the usual half-pint fuel-sipper she settled on a big-ass Ford F-150 crew cab with a 26-gallon tank and four-wheel drive.

Holy shit, that thing looked like the USS George Washington, speaking of dead presidents. I asked Herself if she’d need a stepladder to chisel the ice off the windshield and she gave me the rough edge of her tongue, being less than fond of driving in conditions that lead to 104-car pileups.

I wasn’t exactly sanguine about the mission, either. I owned an F-150 once, a bare-bones 1996 4WD model, and it was without a doubt the biggest hunk of junk I’ve ever owned, a real Motor City garbage scow. Everything that could go wrong with it did, and by the time I finally determined to trade the devil-possessed sonofabitch in on a 1998 Toyota Tacoma I was expecting any minute to hear the voice of Terry Jones saying, “And now it’s time for the F-150 in your driveway to explode.”

But she made it to DJ without incident and is bounding merrily about the place with her fellow librarians. Last night they took over a brewery and spent the night putting their hair up in buns, peering over the tops of their glasses and telling everyone, “Shh!”

R.I.P., Harold Ramis

February 24, 2014
To-GA! To-GA! To-GA!

To-GA! To-GA! To-GA!

This interview at Shambhala Sun made Harold Ramis seem like a person worth knowing, and not just for his movie work, which included “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” and “Groundhog Day,” all of which are in the library here at Chez Dog.

Ramis also worked in the Second City comedy troupe; as the joke editor at Playboy; on “The National Lampoon Radio Hour,” which I remember fondly from my stoner days down on Mill Street; and in “The National Lampoon Show,” a revue that followed “National Lampoon’s Lemmings,” which I have on vinyl around here somewhere. Alas, my copy of “Radio Dinner” is long gone.

Here’s his obit in The New York Times.

What a shame he and John Belushi left the toga party so early.

Another Crumby cartoon

January 18, 2014
Robert Crumb's "A Short History of America."

Robert Crumb’s “A Short History of America.”

A classic Robert Crumb print, “A Short History of America,” now adorns a wall in the Mad Dog Media nerve center, thanks to the generosity of Herself the Elder.

I’ve shown her this one, but am withholding his (ahem) more outré offerings. Not everybody is ready to get Zapped.

It’s New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2013

Sit like a cat

We should

sit like a cat

and wait for the door

to open.

—From “Braided Creek: A Conversation In Poetry,” by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. This one’s for Chris and Theresa Elizabeth Coursey.

Your Christmas platter

December 25, 2013

A serious cat

December 20, 2013
Chief of Staff Mia Sopaipilla prepares the Turkenbunker for The Commander.

Chief of Staff Mia Sopaipilla prepares the Turkenbunker for The Commander.

Sigh. Arm warmers and knee warmers yesterday, everything warmers today. And I haven’t even been outside yet.

Herself and I had planned to catch this evening’s opening of the Coen brothers’ latest, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” but you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

The brothers chatted with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” the other day, and Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Force) was appalled to hear them libeling cats so freely.

The Commander inspects his (purely defensive) chemical-weapons stockpile.

The Commander inspects his (purely defensive) chemical-weapons stockpile.

Discussing the honor and privilege of persuading a cat to participate in their latest film, Ethan spake thusly:

“In ‘True Grit’ we had a vulture, a trained vulture … that was a pain and that was even — by vulture standards — probably a stupid vulture, and that was frustrating. But I would take a vulture over a cat. The cat was just horrible.”

As a consequence, the Turk’ has declared war on the Coen brothers, and we are forbidden to see the film.

It’s censorship, true, but what are we to do? This is war.


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