Sunday, January 31, 2021

Talking About a (Typewriter) Revolution

 


This is the snow we had last night.  As I start to write this, it's just now starting to snow again.  According to the weather info, we are supposed to get another 2-3 inches.  Despite the weather, I might have to get out of the apartment for a little excursion.  Maybe if only to go clean off the vehicles.

Needless to say, I will welcome Spring once it finally arrives.

I didn't start this post wanting to complain about the weather...

I haven't done much in the way of art.  I guess I am taking an unintentional hiatus for the time being.  My means of expression has been different the last month or so.

I have kept myself occupied with writing.  Specifically, an interesting subgenre of writing:  typewriter poetry.  I even started a new website to showcase my work, Three Dollar Poetry. It's just my work for now but I am hoping to showcase other typewriter poets.  I hope that you take the time to check it out.

And where did this all start?

Over a year ago, I started noticing Instagram users posting their typewritten poetry.  A typewriter?  I was intrigued.  I was unaware that people still used typewriters.  I had no idea that, in fact, it was a movement until recently.

I suddenly wanted a typewriter again.  I looked on craigslist to see if anyone had a decent one for a price I could afford.  It wasn't too long before I found a Remington QuietRiter in the area.  It was beautiful.  I brought it home and immediately ordered a new ribbon.  During the few days it took for the ribbon to arrive, I went to work on cleaning it up. It wasn't very long before it was up and running.

I also started posting typewriter poetry on my Instagram feed.

A year later I discovered that it wasn't just an enclave of few people using typewriters.  It was a movement.

About a month ago I happened to watch a documentary called California Typewriter, which focuses on a small typewriter repair shop with that name in Berkeley, California.  It also features such notable typewriter users as Tom Hanks, John Meyer, and historian David McCullough, among others.  One such person was Richard Polt, author of the Typewriter Manifesto which is now included in his book Typewriter Revolution.

My mind was blown and a new facet of the world was presented to me.  It was, to say the least, an epiphany.  I was and am inspired!

And it didn't take me very long to buy a second typewriter. It's another Remington. A Model 5 portable.  It's older that the QuietRiter, both are "portables" but the Model 5 is about 5 pounds or so lighter.  It, too, is beautiful and needing a little work.

If you are interested in getting a typewriter, there are countless models online. You can find typewriters anywhere from those needing a little restoration for around $50 to beautiful fully restored models priced at $200 or more. eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, all have typewriters to offer.

You might even want to join the Typewriter Revolution!





Saturday, January 23, 2021

Three Dollar Poetry - Morning Fog

 

In an effort to write more (and post more) I came up with the idea of a new project, Three Dollar Poetry.  My goal is to write short typewriter poems with (hopefully) some regularity and post them.  A separate website is coming soon (threedollarpoetry.com)


As some of you already know, I have recently started using a typewriter for writing poetry.  I bought my first typewriter about a year ago.  Last weekend I purchased yet another antique typewriter, another Remington portable.  It needs a little work but it's a beautiful piece of machinery.



Why a typewriter?  In short, I like the sound a typewriter makes when being used.  Typing on a typewriter is a tangible act. Once I have typed something, I can look at it, touch it, file it, have it handy in hard copy. My inspiration for buying a typewriter initially was Instagram user @blackadderpress, a fellow printmaker and typewriter poet. Then recently I discovered the documentary California Typewriter and in turn, Richard Polt's book and website Typewriter Revolution.  It has been a bit of a rabbit hole, but one into which I have willingly dove.

If you are interested in reading Polt's Typewriter Manifesto, you can find it here.

Please keep an eye out for the new website, again it's Three Dollar Poetry  I will announce, somehow, when the site is functional. 





Tuesday, January 19, 2021

To Set a Flame High in the Air

Eighteen years ago, I read this at the memorial for my brother, Marvin, who had passed away the previous December.  It's an excerpt from Kenneth Patchen's The Journal of Albion Moonlight.  I have to bring it out occasionally to meditate on and to share with others who would care to read it.  It still holds power for me and sets me back on the right path. If I would ever truly make a New Year resolution, it would be to read this every January hoping it would aid and empower me through the coming year.


 So it is the artist’s duty to discourage all traces of shame

To extend all boundaries

To fog them in right over the plate

To kill only what is ridiculous

To establish problems

To ignore solutions

To listen to no one

To omit nothing

To contradict everything

To generate the free brain

To bear no cross

To take part in no crucifixion

To tinkle a warning when mankind strays

To explode upon all parties

To wound deeper than the soldier

To heal this obstinate monkey once and for all

To laugh at every situation

To besiege their cities

To exhaust the primitive

To verify the irrational

To exaggerate all things

To inhabit everyone

To lubricate each proportion

To experience only experience

To deviate at every point

To make one monster at least

To multiply opinions

To work only in the distance

To extend all shapes

To acquire a sublime reputation

To sport the glacial eye

To direct all smoldering ambitions

To masquerade as the author of every platitude

To overwhelm the mariner with improper charts

To set a flame high in the air

To exclaim at the commonplace alone

To cause the unseen eyes to open

To be concerned with every profession save his own

To raise a fortuitous stink on the boulevards of truth and beauty

To lift the flesh above the suffering

To flash his vengeful badge at every abyss

To kneel with the blind and drunk brigands to learn their songs


To happen

 

It is the artist’s duty to be alive

To drag people into glittering occupations

To return always to the renewing stranger

To assume the ecstasy in all conceivable attitudes

To reel in exquisite sobriety

To blush perpetually in gaping innocence

To drift happily through the ruined race-intelligence

To defend the unreal at the cost of his reason

To obey each outrageous impulse

To commit his company to all enchantments

 

 


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Unintentional Resolutions-A New Year's Rant


Speaking strictly for myself, New Year Resolutions are a fool's errand.  To me, it's more like New Year, same me. I mutter to myself that I should fall in line and make promises to myself and others that there will be changes.  I realize that yes, I am writing this on New Year's Eve.  My want for change is there, sure.

I have said this one countless times, New Year or not:  I have to get away from social media.  I just think of all the reading I could accomplish if I stayed away from Facebook.I don't want to know what kind of cat I am, or what kind of car I would have driven in the 50's, or anything like that. Half the links posted are scams. I don't want to know about your sourdough bread, which is mostly jealousy since I have yet to make a successful sourdough. I'm glad you're dealing with the pandemic.  It's real. 

Nevertheless, yes, I have goals that I have set for myself, ones I have mentioned and failed at previously.  The aforementioned social media, I'm done.  I want to write more (look at me, I'm writing right now) both on the blog and otherwise.  I want to read more (since I finally have new glasses) and make more art.  I want to go on more adventures, big and small, with Valerie (once the pandemic passes).

The one social media site I am sticking with, at least for now, is Instagram.  It has been beneficial to me since it's the one place I share my art.  I do post non-art pictures, but rarely.  Instagram, although owned by Facebook, is where I go to be inspired. I do not post memes there, although you occasionally will see food I have prepared that I'm especially proud of. You can follow me here

So, I am digging my heels in for the winter.  I have coffee, I have art projects. I have plenty of books to read, although I don't let that stop me from buying more.  Here is a sample of what I intend to read in the coming months.




Monday, November 23, 2020

I Wish Hunter S Thompson Was Still Here

 



"If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president.  Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.  Even his funeral was illegal.He was queer in the deepest way.  His body should have been burned in a trash bin"

from "He Was A Crook" by Hunter S. Thompson, originally published in Rolling Stone on June 16, 1994.


That's it.  I have nothing more to add.  I miss writers like Hunter S Thompson.  There aren't enough of his like any longer.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Hermit Time Re-examined

 




Another six weeks has passed since I posted here. I could offer excuses, but they would be irrelevant.  As loathe I am to say I have been busy, well, that's the case.  I have been busy, just not with writing.  I have been incredibly productive with art.  Carving new linos, printing, maintaining my Etsy shop.  Between that and The Job, well, my days are full.

Still, I haven't even been reading that much.  I am finally getting new glasses, which has been an issue but not the only one.  The biggest reason for not reading (or writing) is one I've said before.  So-called social media.  I spend way too much time on Twitter and Facebook.  It's ridiculous.  And it really needs to stop.  It is my biggest hope that I will be able to cut down on time spent on social media.  I know, I know, I've said this before...

Maybe after the upcoming election?  Is that a lot to expect?  I am getting weary of playing the "what stupid thing did he say today" game.  You know to whom I refer.  It's overwhelming.  But I need to walk away, I need to restore my inner peace.  

I have for the longest time, since deciding to stop doing art fairs, to maintain weekends as "hermit time."  I have pretty much kept that going, spending time at home, taking road trips with Valerie, working on art, watching movies, and yes, reading.  But I also do realize that hermit time is not just tangible, physical.  Hermit time is a spiritual thing.  For me it has to be. I need to remind myself of this occasionally. I wish to withdraw from the world on the weekends in order to face the Monday through Friday grind.  It's pretty simple.  However, by spending too much time on social media I open a window into the outside world that should remain closed.  

If I skip out on Facebook and Twitter on weekends, am I really going to miss out on that much?

The answer is obviously no.  

It takes two weeks to develop a habit, maybe longer to break one.  So, here goes nothing...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Arson - A Mental Twitch


 




    The seedling of my world view was nourished by a combination of visionary cynicism and abject poverty.  

    My first place away from home was a decrepit mobile home precariously nestled on the edge of a four feet deep drainage ditch that was home to group of anti-social raccoons and muskrats. 

    I subsisted on beans and rice, store brand coffee and hand rolled cigarettes.  There are only so many ways to prepare red beans and rice.  To this day I still can't look at a plate of beans and rice without a feel of revulsion.  Don't even mention Ramen noodles or Rice-a-Roni.

    Oh, and there was port.  Cheap, sweet, dark, wonderful port.  I drank it on ice and told myself it was grape juice.  It never contradicted me.  It kept me warm in the Winter and drunk in the Summer.  At the time I thought we were friends.

     Behind the trailer park there was a wooded area and a field of scrub grass that had once been considered an abandoned lot.  We were all fair game to the field mice that nightly invaded our dubious shelters.  Every morning I would see tiny scratches, claw marks, in the bacon grease that had congealed in the iron skillet on top of the tiny gas stove.     

    For some reason, though I ate poorly myself, I felt I could afford to feed a cat.  I named him Henry (after Henry Miller) and he was a pathetic mouser.  He tried to make friends with them. We have domesticated our cats too much perhaps.  Their natural instincts have been dulled toward anything that doesn't look like a toy.

    And there were cockroaches.  Not your run-of-the-mill standard American cockroaches.  These were the Asian variety.  Huge.  I had heard stories of large roaches in Texas but they paled in comparison.  There was a group of  seven Laotian exchange students that lived in the trailer next to me. I assumed the roaches had clandestinely come over with them.  Perhaps they were looking for a better life, to colonize new territory. I may have been judgmental, but eventually the cockroaches decided they needed more space and moved into my hovel while I was asleep.

    They weren't anything I had ever encountered before.  They were huge, larger than the aforementioned mice. They had wings. Large, functioning wings.  My cat was even afraid of them.  The field mice moved out almost the next day.  Mice, as you may well know, are very non-confrontational.

    This left me with a bit of a dilemma.  I could spray for the roaches and hope for the best.  But then the mice, seeing the coast was clear, might be emboldened to move back in.  I sat on the couch smoking a cigarette, trying to decide what to do.  A cockroach crawled onto my hand and tried to knock the cigarette from between my fingers.  My choice was suddenly clear.

     I put Henry in his crate and placed the crate and as many belongings as I could in the back seat of my car.  I pulled away and parked the car down the street.  I walked back and torched the trailer.  I sat on the hood of the car and watched it burn.  It wasn't long before I heard the sirens.  Nosy neighbors. Didn't they know I was doing them a favor?

    Weeks later I got a letter from my former landlord thanking me for burning the trailer down.  Decrepit as it was, he had it insured to the teeth.  He offered me a new place, another trailer, promising it didn't have cockroaches or mice.  With a discount on the rent, I felt I couldn't refuse.

It was fortunate that Henry enjoyed hunting centipedes...