In gratitude to Prince

13076853_10153381960676822_778285282396388391_nFollowing Maceo with Prince, transcendent even in death.  Dionysus will return in another form, but Prince will remain the Master of Funk. David Bowie might have loosed the bonds of gender, but Prince made it so very sexy. And he wasn’t stingy, sharing that sexiness with his crew, mostly women, much like Dionysus.  Tearing it up on the dance floor instead of in the forest, roving bands of high heeled men and women partook of the sacrament of sex, offered by his highness. Prince confronted the issues of the day, operating as a cultural icon, an oracle for a generation straddling Boomers and GenX.

Turning out the joint in Detroit with dance, sex, music, romance. From the Musicology Tour. School’s in people!

Prince’s managed his public persona like his stagecraft.  His reserve, the dignity and lack of pretense made him one of the locals in Minneapolis and gave him a measure of privacy few icons retain. Enigmatic, seductive, ageless and generous, not seeking anyone’s approval.

Deeply religious, Prince lived his faith rather than proselytizing, despite becoming a Jehovah’s witness.

UnknownOne of his hardest fought (and won) battles was for the rights to his music. Struggling over decades, he took back control of his catalogue and his image.  His decision to release his new album HitNRun on Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service was a fresh start, one that other artists are pursuing.

 “Prince has always been a visionary, a free-thinker. We’re honored to offer his breadth of work, 1999, Purple Rain, etc., music that has inspired so many, on Tidal. We’re also excited to be the home for his new upcoming album, HitNRun. Both Prince and Tidal share the belief that all creatives should have the opportunity to speak directly to those that love and support them. This partnership with Prince represents Tidal’s philosophy in its truest form, a 1 to 1 connection and direct delivery of artistry to the world.” Jay Z

The artist, the lover, the soul of funk: Prince’s music will continue providing inspiration to musicians across genres – Don’t believe me just watch.

His funkiness Maceo Parker @Antone’s

Hornplayer My first trip to the new Antone’s was also my first live Maceo Parker experience. I’ve been a fan since his James Brown days, then ParliamentLife on Planet Groove and beyond.  He’s still 2% jazz and 98% funky.
Soul PowerThe band  featured in the video below  includes: Maceo Parker (sax/flute/vocals), Dennis Rollins (trombone), Will Boulware (keys), Bruno Speight (guitar), Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass), Marcus Parker (drums), Martha High (vocals) and Corey Parker (vocals).

Hard to keep the camera still when you gotta shake everything you got.  Happy music for him and all the fans getting their groove on.  I liked the new Antone’s location, next to Eddie V’s and the Russian House, which long since replaced Amdur gallery on 5th.  What’s old is new on a block where I worked and played for many years.

Community First – Creating a village in East Austin

Mobile Loaves and Fishes and a consortium of private partners and foundations have created a community for homeless residents that could serve as a template for many who are interested in sustainable co-housing .  The village consists of tiny homes, tent and teepee dwellings with a section for RVs with hook ups. Residents pay rent, ranging from $225 to $400 (all bills paid) depending on whether they opt for a tent, RV or house.

The collaboration of non-profits, architects and Austin residents has come together in ways that highlight their talents and commitment. As you walk the grounds, the feeling of being in a village built to encourage community, while still allowing for privacy and uniqueness is reflected in the diversity of homes and styles, obviously crafted with pride and creativity.  It is a very human  community on 27 acres designed to be partially self-sustaining.

Bath houses with private shower and toilet facilities and a community kitchen, gardens, a chicken coop and a small herd of dairy goats provide work, sustenance and healthy social opportunities. Bee hives are planned and an art house, a forge and onsite wi-fi will support  micro-enterprise development and job seekers who wish to reenter or join the workforce. Onsite health services and a new bus stop en route to Austin help residents take care of their basic needs and participate in the care and support their evolving community provides. Members of the Mobile Loaves and Fishes mission are in residence to assist and counsel those with questions or concerns.  As Sociology doctoral student, Brandon Robinson said, “This is a dissertation waiting to happen.” The data from this project will be invaluable in funding future villages and in keeping this one viable. From Invisible in Austin to Community First, there is plenty for our ethnographers to research.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been a source of sustainment and support for hungry people in Austin for many years.  Their model of community first is an inspiration to many who have partnered to turn this idea into an exciting reality, founded on love and respect. They = we.

MFAH celebrates Art Deco with vintage rides

The  Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1929–1940 exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Art shines with an extraordinary collection of elegant vehicles. As a Norman bel Geddes devotee, I was one of many ogling fans. The exhibit will be on display until May 30, 2016 and is a must see for classic car fans.

Sculpted in Steel showcases 14 cars and three motorcycles, alongside historical images and videos. The classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design dazzles in vehicles from the United States and around the world. The innovative, machine-inspired Art Deco style began in France in the early 20th century, but the movement was interrupted by World War I. The style reemerged across Europe after the war, and the 1920s to 1930s proved to be one of the most creative eras for international design in all mediums. Art Deco influenced everything from fashion and fine art to architecture and transportation.

Barton Creek and Blunn Creek – January 2016

It’s always nice to enjoy the trails along Barton Creek in January, when the weather is so very fine. Kids of all ages and their dogs swarm the greenbelt like happy bees with spring almost in the air, sun shining down like honey .

There were fewer people on the trail at the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, an urban oasis in South Austin and one of several ancient volcanoes that dot the area from St. Edward’s University to Stacy Park in Travis Heights. My favorite oak, probably 500 years old, is queen of the forest and was too big to fit into my camera’s frame.

Water Meditation – Flowing

Shamans of the Avant Garde – Miro and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown

woman_bird_star_AS03162Art is never more obscure than when it invokes the language of the unconscious. Thankfully, we have guides – shamans who venture into the unknown and return, inviting us to join them . Avant garde artist Joan Miro is a shaman of symbolic art.  I saw his “Experience of Seeing” exhibit at the McNay Museum in San Antonio and entered the realm of the body/mind in order to see it.  Joan Miro acknowledges:

It is difficult for me to talk about my painting, since it is always born in a state of hallucination, brought on by some jolt or another – whether objective or subjective-which I am not in the least responsible for.

Joan Miro - BirdArt critic Waldemar George described it in 1929 “as the painting of a physical vacuousness that easily balances out its interior magic, with ties to cosmic sentiment and the intuition of mystery seen in the ancestors, like those who painted the caves of Altimara, whom he specifically mentions on one hand and to “congruent paintings, brought to life by strange homunculi and fantastical plants on the other. In this defining moment there came to be an encounter between the escape from speres and the attraction to the abyss.”
Miro, Joan-Head in the NightJacques Dupin elaborated, “There remains a space where things and beings can abide and encounter one another through a series of exchanges and metamorphoses, and this passing site is none other than the earth: neither sheltered from the risk from below, or the beckoning from above.”

Arthur Brown knows something of above and below, exhorting us to hold a vision in our heart, to face our fears and join him in the formless depths of Zim Zam Zim.

Miro’s paintings and found object sculptures beckon us to see space as a psychological landscape – to respond without preconception to what comes our way, as children do.

I will make my work emerge naturally, like the song of a bird or the music of Mozart, with no apparent effort, but thought out at length and worked out from within . . everything becomes strange, shifting, clear and confused at the same time. Forms give birth to other forms, constantly changing into something else.

ShamanArthur Brown invites us with many of the same numinous symbols as Miro: the spirit bird of our imagination, woman, sex and the fire of fear, rage and ultimate annihilation.  An existential burlesque that finally asks, “Who the fuck am I?” in this montage from his Strange Brew show in Austin (without his full band).

As we traipse from day to dreams, through all the stages of our lives and our imagination, it’s a good idea to keep a healthy dose of humor amidst the drama. So why do we even enter into the shape shifting realm of the unconscious?

Quoting Miro, ” As Kant said, it is the irruption of the infinite into the finite. A pebble, which is a finite and immobile object, suggests not only movement to me but movement that has no end. In my paintings, this translates into the spar-like forms that leap out of the frame, as though from a volcano.

That volcano is the fire of creation  in the heart of Zim Zam Zim.

Healing Beauty

I was coming home one day and noticed a rose blooming by the front door.  It was facing the wall, bent over and neglected.  When I turned it around I saw the most beautiful bloom and brought it inside to enjoy the life and color of its unfolding.

In these times of sorrow, of war and disaster, let us choose to be healed in many small ways.  Thank you little rose friend, for giving me the gift of beauty to remind me that I am still blooming, still beautiful and full of love. Do not pass beauty by as you saunter the world.  It will heal our spirits and help remind us of our humanity.

80’s week @ #ATX music

In a rare twist of musical fate, I found myself transported back to  the dance crazy days of the late 70’s and early 80’s at 3 great gigs last week.  The Psychedelic Furs evoked brat pack nostalgia and did not disappoint the grey tsunami that packed the house @Emos‘s on a Wednesday night. They haven’t lost their sound or their enthusiasm, a real treat for their fans worldwide.

Two of Austin’s punk/new wave faves, The Skunks and The Standing Waves (playing with The Next) brought the fire and their new releases to venues old and new.  The Townsend, pictured below is a new club launched by Kathy Valentine (of  Go-Go’s fame) and her partners on Congress Avenue.

Definitely not in the tradition of Dukes Royal Coach Inn, which used to be just down the street, the elegant lounge sold out in the week before the Skunks raised the roof with an incendiary performance from guitarist John Dee Graham, muti-talented singer Jesse Sublett on bass, and drummer Bill Mansell rounding out the power trio.

180179_1895943761749_4744134_nThe Hole in the Wall is one of the few clubs from the era left standing, (along with the Continental Club), gritty enough for the return of the Standing Waves.  Where else am I going to hear the story from Tom Green, about losing his house (on Tom Green Street) because an Austin City council member used eminent domain to give him the boot?  Even the sadly not weird has a twist.  Perfect segue to the Standing Waves new CD Here Comes the Twist Again.

Sauntering the mountains of North Carolina on Halloween

I’ve heard many good things about Asheville, NC over the years and wanted to see for myself while I was visiting my daughter in Charlotte.  On the way, we stopped in picturesque Hendersonville for lunch.  I heard they dressed up for Halloween and that meant even the ubiquitous bears, sprinkled around the town square.

Asheville was only 30 minutes down the road, the “Austin” of NC, and indeed, they were keeping it weird.  There was music in the streets, the buildings were tattooed with murals and sometimes you couldn’t tell the costumes from daily wear.  As the hippy man pictured below said, “This is a day I blend in.”  I’ll cover some of the art in a blog post to follow that includes an exhibit from The Bechtler Museum in Charlotte.

I loved the Malaprops bookstore (open late even on Halloween) but the highlight of the evening  was a scrumptious supper at Cúrate  -tapas and small plates served in a vibrant modern aesthetic. Katie Button, the owner and executive chef has been a James Beard finalist several years running and the proof is in the well executed and temptation filled menu.  We were seated ringside, enjoying the camaraderie and the hubbub while the delicacies kept coming.  People were friendly, there was music, good food and lots of breweries to keep everyone happy.  I include a video postcard as my own small taste of the town.

Feeding the Beast – Toxic Masculinity and God the Father

It’s been a few thousand years now that we’ve been worshiping at the altar of the Father God. The creator, who through an act of his will  brought everything we know and all that we don’t into being. The One God to rule them all binds our Abrahamic religions like a cock ring, too small for pleasure, primed for pain. This beastly preoccupation with might and right leaves us awash in toxic masculinity, embroiled in never-ending wars both at home and abroad.

croatia
Neanderthal family

They say Neanderthals were the barbarians
So where are they now?
If this is the 21st Century
why does it feel
like the Wild West?
Wake up my brothers
before you drag your sisters down
into a cold, dark grave

Insisting on believing in a creator described only as He presents some pretty formidable challenges to our experience of life and reality.  What to do about those pesky women? Eve, as we are told, was an afterthought, yanked from Adam’s sleeping form and apparently born to raise Cain.  Puns aside, we all know she made trouble, right from the beginning.   Martin Luther knew what to do about her:

10462425-Beautiful-young-pregnant-woman-sitting-on-chair-Stock-Photo-pregnant-pregnancy-belly“The rule remains with the husband, and the wife is compelled to obey him by God’s command.  He rules the home and the state, wages war; defends his possessions, tills the soil, builds, plants, etc.  The woman on the other hand Is like a nail driven Into the wall …so the wife should stay at home and look after the affairs of the household, as one who has been deprived of the ability of administering those affairs that are outside and that concern the state.  She does not go beyond her most personal duties.”

We had God the Son for a time, preaching a gospel of kindness and peace. We saw where that got him and in these apocryphal times his word seems but a whisper. imagesMaybe it’s the Antichrist’s fault.  The Beast, evil personified and projected outward, because it’s not something that lurks within.  Hitler gained a lot of power through the mass projections of the people of the Third Reich.  While many of us don’t understand the rage that drove the German people to war, we need to recognize how our projections make it easier for us to be controlled.  All because we can no sooner admit the beast than we can admit our divine nature.  Sex and death drive the news.  If we’re not looking at boobs we’re hearing about natural disasters, mayhem and murder. When women are not fully and fairly represented, neither is life.  Nurturing professions are undervalued, teachers are unsupported and pornography and child abuse proliferates.  True intimacy can only occur when love abides, between people and within each of us.

It’s time to withdraw our misguided projections and honor the divine and the animal aspects of our nature.  We create the world we live in every day of our lives. Perhaps God is not so very distant, after all.

Whose Eyes?

Whose eyes are these,
blinking the world into being?
From the ground, to the air
From the ocean and deep below
Whose eyes are those?
That dog, love shining in his eyes,
Grandma chasing her little girl
Street eyes, turned inside
Eyes, searching mine
to see a friend or a foe?
So many eyes, pouring
thoughts and feelings into each other
like pitchers of light
mingling laughter and tears
Streaming through the cosmos
There’s a soul of kindness inside
each and every pair.
Smile the next time you look
into someone’s eyes.
God will see you.

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what beauty goes unnoticed

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