Archive for November, 2016

Throwing Copper, Tenty-Went, H-Burg Gem, Ashcan Love Puck

Posted in real life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2016 by sethdellinger
  1. I really want to write one of those entries I write about just 4 or 5 random things that are on my mind.  I’ve wanted to write an entry like that all day and yet, as I finally get the chance, I have sat down in front of the keyboard and have blanked on all the things I wanted to write about.  I figured if I just started, stuff would start coming to me.  Oh hey–it looks like Ed Kowalczyk is back as the lead singer of LIVE–that’s pretty extraordinary.  I mean this was a band that was SERIOUSLY BROKEN UP.  Like, much, much animosity. I would have ranked them very near the bottom on lists of bands that might get back together.  But it’s excellent news.  Whether you are into their music or not, if you see them live in concert it’s challenging not to admit they are one of the most electrifying acts out there. I never saw LIVE with Ed’s replacement–I bet he’s great, but like so many bands that replace the lead singer, it’s simply not the same band.  I can’t wait to hear more about what’s going on in the LIVE camp.
  2. Speaking of camp–have you ever gone camping?  Karla, the boy, and I camped out in my dad’s back yard last summer, but aside from that, I’ve never really been camping, like in the woods.  We were close to almost “getting into” camping last year, and then somehow it just faded from our view.
  3. I need here to give a shout-out to Harrisburg’s gem of a book store, the Midtown Scholar.  Although it is far from a secret, it also rarely gets the credit it deserves; this is a truly GREAT book store–as its name implies, it specializes in more academic or artistic fare, but it does have contemporary fiction, etc.  The store is truly enormous; the basement just goes on and on.  There is a quite good coffee shop, lots of places to sit, an outdoor balcony overlooking midtown Harrisburg, a huge collection of film, music and poetry books, tons of art monographs, and even a rare book room with books from as far back as the 17th century and a keen collection of art prints.  I could literally spend days–and thousands of dollars–there.  What perplexes me greatly is that somehow, I had never been there (and barely heard of it) before moving to Harrisburg; this despite the fact that it is about two blocks from the indie movie theater I used to frequent constantly when I lived in Carlisle.  All I can say is, I’m tremendously happy to have found it now, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone from the area who hasn’t been there.
  4. Speaking of art–I was in the Scholar for Small Business Saturday and found my first ever art book focusing on the Ashcan School of artists; over the past year it has become clear to me that this entire group of artists is really my true passion when it comes to painting (although I still have other loves, ie Rousseau, Vermeer, Eakins, etc).  But the Ashcans and their use of color, broad brush strokes that approached but stopped short of impressionism, and their tendency to focus on urban scenes as a means to reveal human nature–really speak to my core.  If you’ve never heard of them and have an interest in art, I can not recommend highly enough Googling the works of John Sloan, Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Schinn, and George Bellows.  I love Maurice Prendergast but it is often debated whether he qualifies as “Ashcan”.
  5. I like ice hockey.

In Gratitude

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2016 by sethdellinger

Thank you this lifelong tumbling-down
early in this winter that has no age
our window along the street
for the family you led me to
when it was time at last the words
the words coming at me from nowhere
thank you to the words from the air
that carried me through the clear decades
and come even now to me, come still to find me,
for the echoes of old friends, of what used to be,
of mistakes I made so well
heartbreak that guides the ploughshares
from somewhere they have loved before
from somewhere they were buried in the earth
thank you to my body and my hands and my feet
and the places been and moments known
clocks watched, cars started, cats stroked
revisiting me now, only to me revisiting
once again now complete just as they were
just as they were before
and the evening stars I have seen
and the dog who guides me every day,
who trusts me to be the man
who will feed him
and give him the long walks.

Favorites, 2016

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by sethdellinger

Back in the old days of the Notes, I used to write a lot more about music, movies, and books, and I would every so often post updated lists of my absolute favorites of things.  Not due to any pressing interest from the public, of course–mostly just because it’s fun for me, and also because having such a blog post can be quite handy during discussions online; I can just link someone to the entry to aid in a discussion of favorites.

Of course this is not to be confused with my annual “Favorite Music” list, where I detail my favorite music released in the previous calendar year; these lists detail my current all-time favorites, which are (like yours, of course) constantly changing.

Looking back at my entries, it appears as though I haven’t done a big posting of lists since 2012, so I’ll make this one fairly comprehensive.  All of these lists have changed since 2012–some very little, some quite dramatically:

My top ten favorite poets

10.  Jane Kenyon
9.   Robert Creeley
8.  William Carlos Williams
7.   Sylvia Plath
6.  Billy Collins
5.  Denise Levertov
4.  E.E. Cummings
3.  Philip Levine
2.  John Updike
1.  Philip Larkin

My top 10 favorite film directors

10.  Federico Fellini
9.  Sidney Lumet
8.  Alejandro Inarritu
7.  Christopher Nolan
6.  Paul Thomas Anderson
5.  Alfonso Cuaron
4.  Stanley Kubrick
3.  Werner Herzog
2.  Alfred Hitchcock
1.  Terrence Malick

My top ten bands

10. This Will Destroy You
9.  My Morning Jacket
8.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor
7.  Radiohead
6.  Seven Mary Three
5.  Hey Rosetta!
4.   The National
3.  Band of Horses
2.  Modest Mouse
1.  Arcade Fire

 

My top ten music solo artists

10.  Tracy Chapman
9.  Ray LaMontagne
8.  Father John Misty
7.  Leonard Cohen
6.  Jim James
5.  Nina Simone
4.  Willis Earl Beal
3.  Emily Wells
2.  Paul Simon
1.  Neil Young

My top ten favorite (non-documentary) movies

10.  Citizen Kane
9.  Night of the Hunter
8.  Fitzcarraldo
7.  Magnolia
6.  The Trouble with Harry
5.  Children of Men
4.  Where the Wild Things Are
3.  The Thin Red Line
2.  I’m Still Here
1.  The Tree of Life

My ten favorite novelists

10.  Malcolm Lowry
9.  John Steinbeck
8.  Isaac Asimov
7.  Ernest Hemingway
6. Oscar Wilde
5.  Kurt Vonnegut
4.  Mark Twain
3.  David Mitchell
2.  Don DeLillo
1.  Dave Eggers

My top twenty favorite books (any genre, fiction or nonfiction)

20.  “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
19.  “Slade House” by David Mitchell
18.  “The Terror” by Dan Simmons
17.  “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers
16.  “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo
15.  “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
14.  “Fallen Founder” by Nancy Isenberg
13.  “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
12.  “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
11.  “Under the Volcano” by Malcolm Lowry
10.  “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
9.  “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
8.  “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut
7.  “Dubliners” by James Joyce
6.  “Letters From the Earth” by Mark Twain
5.  “White Noise” by Don DeLillo
4.  “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
3.  “Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?” by Dave Eggers
2.  “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer
1.  “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

My top twenty favorite albums

20.  “Funeral” by Arcade Fire
19.  “Nobody Knows” by Willis Earl Beal
18.  “High Violet” by The National
17.  “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine
16.  “Swamp Ophelia” by Indigo Girls
15.  “Mirrorball” by Neil Young
14.  “Dis/Location” by Seven Mary Three
13.  “Abbey Road” by The Beatles
12.  “Graceland” by Paul Simon
11.  “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis
10.  “‘Allelujah!  Don’t Bend!  Ascend!” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
9.    “Kid A” by Radiohead
8.   “Strangers to Ourselves” by Modest Mouse
7.   “This Will Destroy You” by This Will Destroy You
6.   “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
5.   “Secret Samadhi” by LIVE
4.   “Infinite Arms” by Band of Horses
3.   “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire
2.   “RockCrown” by Seven Mary Three
1.  “Into Your Lungs (and Around in Your Heart and On Through Your Blood)” by Hey Rosetta!

 

My top five composers

5.  Philip Glass
4.  Cliff Martinez
3.  Hans Zimmer
2.  Felix Mendelssohn
1.  Carl Nielsen

My top ten painters

10.  Edgar Degas
9.  George Bellows
8.  Mark Rothko
7.  Johannes Vermeer
6.  Mary Cassatt
5.  Maurice Prendergast
4.  Thomas Eakins
3.  Henri Rousseau
2.  Andrew Wyeth
1.  John Sloan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds Like a Train. Not a Train.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 16, 2016 by sethdellinger

Everything in life can seem so sudden, even though almost all of it is gradual.  Events can shock you even when you saw them coming.  Maybe you didn’t know you saw them coming, but you saw them coming.

Luckily there is love.  What matters but love?  Towering, epic love.  Basically nothing else.  To snuggle.  To profess eternity, depth of caring.  It’s not an original thought, but, well, there it is.  Love.

It’s dark on the east coast as I write this.  I haven’t done the time zone math but it’s probably dark over all the continental states.  People describe darkness as a “closing in” all the time, but really it’s the opposite.  Light closes us in, as it is an actual presence of a thing, whereas darkness happens when the light leaves.  Darkness opens us up.  Darkness is an absence.  It is a lifting of the lid.

It’s not just that Trump won the election; I could handle that.  It’s that this country isn’t what I thought it was.  It’s that I have to mourn for the uplifting future I had imagined.  I don’t care that “we lost”.  I find myself suddenly terrified of the land I live in.

It’s dark outside my door.  My neighbor across the street, Manny, appears to have gone to bed.  His lights are all off, but now he has Christmas lights on his porch, which I adore.  He has a terrific little dog, Fulton, who sometimes sniffs our Benji.  I imagine Fulton is asleep now, too, somewhere at the foot of Manny’s bed, or maybe in there with him.  The streetlights here are shockingly bright; as I step out into the crisp autumn evening, I can see them dotting the side of the landscape for five, maybe six blocks, until the natural curve of Harrisburg’s grid takes them out of view.  It’s quiet, dark and quiet and still.  The houses seem stuck between holidays, some porches still sporting mushy pumpkins, others feeling tentative strands of colorful lights.  Somewhere in the distance, a car alarm goes off, but just briefly.  I stand here in my pajamas and I imagine the people in their houses.  Most of them asleep, now, but not all.  Some watching television–although increasingly they are somehow watching it after it aired.  Some of them perhaps showering, or cooking a late dinner, or arguing, or having sex.  But most of them sleeping, breathing rhythmically in some sort of shut-down stasis that scientists are hesitant to admit they still don’t really understand.  I stand here and I imagine them.  I really do.  I’m not just writing that I imagine them–I really do it.  What a thing to do, when you really do it!  All those lives behind those doors, drifting like worried sparks, like baffled little flames, breathing in unison, with all their own concerns and private intensities.  What a massive undertaking, life.  Such a long, worrisome climb.  And you can do it anywhere.  Some folks are born as baffled sparks in a tribe in a jungle.  Others in a London flat.  Some people had to do it in the 1600s.  Still others will give it a go in 2190.  To many, my worries about the land I live in would seem a trifle, the luxury of a man who has everything he needs.  They’d probably be right, but still.  I step out all the way onto the sidewalk in front of my house, suddenly wishing all of my neighbors would come outside all at once so we could talk about it.  Mostly we don’t talk to our neighbors, but now, in the still autumn evening, I wish I could.  I wish I could look them in the eyes, I wish I could pat them on the back.  I would tell them, perhaps, one of my secrets. Suddenly as I am standing there, in my pajamas in the autumn evening, a low, distant sound makes itself known.  It starts as a quiet rumble.  I can’t tell where it’s coming from but it grows louder and louder, the rumble becoming a growl; it sounds like a train, but it’s not a train, I have no goddamned idea what it is but it’s getting louder and louder and I don’t think there’s any escaping it.

Eating Apples in a Blanket Fort

Posted in Photography, real life with tags , , , on November 13, 2016 by sethdellinger

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The Morning After

Posted in real life with tags , , on November 9, 2016 by sethdellinger

“Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there

Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me”

–“The Ghost of Tom Joad”, Bruce Springsteen

It happened.  And there’s certainly no going back now.  Our country has changed.  It had probably changed before the election results, but now, of course, there’s no denying it.

We are a divided people, no doubt.  But we have always been.  We’ve even been more divided than this (folks who tell you this is the worst it’s ever been are the same folks who tell you to do your research, even though they’ve never read an actual book).  We are divided, but we’ll be OK.

But what Donald Trump himself might do to this country is unthinkable.  It’s not his policies or ideologies that are so terrifying.  We could survive even the most radical of a conservative.  It’s him.  What he says, does, how he acts.  His disregard for the basic foundations of our nation.  From that, there might be no coming back.

It is fully possible the election of Donald Trump signals the end of the American experiment.  He could very well set into motion forces that topple our nation.  This game is too big to survive his bluster.

I have a family now, which I love and cherish more than anything in the cosmos.  If I was still a single man, I would be speaking right now very earnestly about leaving the country.  I know that seems cliché and silly by now, but I really would.  Or, failing that idea, I might find or start some sort of anti-Trump militia–find some radical way to try to hold onto what we’ve built here.

But I must take great pains to remain an integral, present part of my family unit.  Their future is the thing I must be most concerned with.  But make no mistake: if it becomes necessary, if we are being pushed towards annihilation, you will find me in the streets.  You will find me marching toward those that would rend us asunder.  You will find me arm in arm with my brothers and sisters, and we will be holding more than signs in our hands.  You will find me in the revolution, because that’s how I will protect my family.

 

Be a Bright Blue

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2016 by sethdellinger

godspeed

Sound the alarm bells.  The ship, it is sinking.  Our shoes are on fire and our water is a virus.  Good god, sound the alarm–run.  It’s the same old damned thing, the same tired emergency.  It’s the same old lie.

Run the white cloth up the flag pole.  Watch it hang there, limp.  Shut your windows and turn on the AC.  I’m exhausted from defending my lifestyle, and I’m exhausted from checking my phone.  Turn up the static.  Lean back into something.  Grill some putrid items.  Excoriate your neighbor.

A new batch of people have come along now.  They’re old enough now.  They see evidence of lies, control.  Someone has spotted a two party system.  THEY’RE ALL LIARS, they shout.  They sense something not genuine.  They sense they are not in control of this world.  They see they are inside a machine, and they cannot even see who controls the machine, or even the walls or the floor.  It’s a machine, they say, vote for Jill Stein!

As though someone polling at 5% of the national population isn’t part of the damned machine.  Hey listen.  If you’re in a machine, you’re in it.  You think the machine lets you out?

The machine was here long before you and promises to outlive you.

Sound the alarm bells, by golly!  The construct is about to swallow another generation whole.  Like zygotes.  Like plankton.  Like dust.

Of course you can fight things inside the machine and change things.  But until you understand the actual nature of your plight, you’ll attack the wrong parts, the wrong cogs and pulleys.

You have taken the blindfold off without realizing there was a second blindfold overtop the first one.

Recognize the machine.  Feel its rhythm.  Do not doubt its omnipresence.  You speak hushed of the politicians who control you while you sit in a strip mall restaurant.  How did the strip mall get there?  Why is it there, instead of elsewhere?  How many red lights did you wait at to drive there?  Have you registered the car you drove with the government?  The gas you put in the car–where did it come from, and who decided how much it cost?

Welcome to the fucking construct.  Jill Stein will take your order now.

Be a shiny countertop.  Be a chemtrail.  Be a smiling dog.

When I was a kid, I played little league baseball for two years.  I had waited too long to get started though.  Whereas most kids in my town started very young, I waited until I was ten or eleven.  Mostly I waited so long because I had never really wanted to play little league baseball.  I was scared of the ball, and I was scared of organized sports.  I wasn’t pressured to play.  I just wanted to participate in a thing that made the other kids look cool.  They looked like major league ball players to me.  So I did it even though I didn’t want to.

Be a lazy Sunday.  Be Madison, Wisconsin.  Be a suspicious cough.

Since I waited so long to start playing baseball, I was behind kids my age, when it came to skill level.  So the people who ran the little league put me on the teams with the younger boys.  My plan to do something I didn’t want to do to be cooler had backfired.  My friends and classmates were playing on teams I never saw, and I was playing with boy 2 or 3 years younger than me.  And they were still better than me.  I was a very bad baseball player.  My coach–whose son was on the team–was frequently disappointed in me.  He thought since I was older, I’d be his star, when in fact I was the worst player on the team.  It was mortifying.  The little league had a rule that every single player had to get an at-bat every single game.  One game I did not get an at-bat.  I wasn’t very sad, since batting was just another opportunity for me to be embarrassed.  But my parents were quite mad.  Because they are good parents.  After the game they told me to go wait by the concession stand while they spoke to the coach.  I waited.  About five minutes later they came into view, laughing.  They were laughing.  What happened?, I asked.  They informed me they confronted the coach about me not having an at-bat and he had freaked out, screaming at them, somehow finding a reason to rake them over the coals for having the audacity to question him.  They said he had become red in the face with anger.  The next game, he had me bat leadoff, despite being the worst hitter on the team.  My humiliation was complete.

Be a light early-morning mist.  Be a fully-trimmed Christmas tree.  Be a cardinal direction.  Be a traffic-free commute.  Be the paint that dries.  Be a clear radio station.  Be a marching band in the distance.  Be Jimmy Stewart.  Be a sun-dappled cave entrance.  Be a bright blue.  Be your grandmother’s afghan.  Be Connect Four.  Be the olive-skinned belly dancer.  Be a stunning cul-de-sac.  Be an early dismissal.  Be a crescendo.  Be the young girl that stops to help you, when she doesn’t have to, when you’ve dropped all your groceries and the sun is starting kiss the horizon, and she is beautiful, and the air reminds you of perfect childhood, and you don’t have to work the next day.  You, too, are part of the machine.

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