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Despite having a flawed and sometimes dangerous and volatile personality, I have been rather sickened at the hatred being displayed on social media and elsewhere, particularly by niche groups of the fuming self-righteous. I think we all know by now that any truth can be twisted and any person brought low — or high — and if you can’t rise above slights and injuries or flaws in your friends and fellow creatures– well, I just can’t be here to applaud you or cheer you on.
Here is the beginning of a new work that begins with my time in both a Jewish and an international school in New York, and moves on to some kind of commitment to a kind of “higher calling.” I’ll update this link when it can be properly embedded. I think the webmasters at this new magazine out of SUNY OSWEGO known as SUBNIVEAN are still working on that. Kudos to its editor, a welcome and much talented new voice and arrival to our wilds, Soma Mei Sheng Frazier.
Meanwhile I’ve been back reading Sebald, and a book of essays on Gerard Richter. If these two don’t lift you out of feeling a victim of society in any way, no one will. I quote Richter when asked the purpose of art: “For surviving this world… (art) has the measure of all the unfathomable, senseless things, the incessant ruthlessness of our world. And art shows us how to see things that are constructive and good, and to be an active part of that.”
Some kind of Jesus, that’s what I thought of myself — wandering the lake, bathing my feet, loving everyone and wondering when God would come.
Some things are so primal. We find ourselves hurling insults that have been used against us. Not that anyone has ever called me a whore. But you get the idea. Today, when every other interaction seems to have the possibility of violence, I strive to distance myself. Because I believe there are bigger fights at hand. Because it is to those that we must pay attention. The universe contains to expand, as does human life. And in the end, expansion reaches completion. Nebulae — did you know, they are made of the debris of dead stars, that then becomes, under gravity, a new star.
I had what some might call a religious experience at age 23 or so. It was so fantastic and wild and forceful — it ripped the skies open and the skies invited me in.That was at the beginning of the life I chose to lead instead — life of the every man/person, life of the soldier, a life that has veered, as some of you know, from Manhattan to the outback, riches to poverty, dining with the Mafioso and the one-percenter, the Reverend and the murderer. Chaos. Life. Don’t mind the broken bones. Don’t mind the star showers. Once, I stood on the top of a hillside in New Zealand with my cousin Ted. I reached up at dusk as if to touch the bristling orange planet Mars. It was as close to earth that night as it had ever been and I have often thought — after my worlds at various times, fell apart — And if you had not been abandoned, how would you have become yourself?
This is a series created by my brother Jonathan Wareham. Take a look at the preview here: and then the complete playlist. Having trouble embedding it here, but it’s worth the jump
Steve is a police officer. I watch him calming down some men in a fight in Soho. I am so impressed by this — by his calmness and his presence and quiet authority — I began talking to him. He is forty-two and retiring next year. He has seen gruesome things, he says, mentioning a head in a bucket. Yet somehow he is unjaded. He is light and gentle and almost pure. Last year, he tells me, he “shot an individual in the line of duty.” The individual didn’t die, but Steve is being given a medal for bravery. Do I want to come to the award ceremony, Steve asks? I do. It is near Police Plaza, one Saturday in August. I wear my best clothes. Steve and fifteen thousand other police wear their blue uniforms. Mayor Guiliani is there and applauds all the bravery. We receive pamphlet about bravery and it turns out that all the acts of bravery being honored today involved the shooting of individuals.
— 52 MEN. It’s on Kindle now, read the rest of the story in which he passes me his gun.
Because humans are scant right now, in the rural area where we live, the birds and waterfowl are showing new force. For the first time in years, the geese are coming up from the lake and then the bay and the creek, and settling into the grass with their fluff ball newborns. The trees around, many with leaves still coming in, are wild with birds, all flecks and splashes of color: the robin, the blue jay, the red winged blackbird, a warbler flickering gold.
Then we have the white swan and the blue heron, all coming nearer as it is quiet without the mowing of lawns and gatherings of neighbors. Overhead, usually at dusk, the turkey buzzards swoop closer and closer to us. I really can’t do it justice.
This groundhog keeps coming out to chew on the dandelion — who knew that the groundhog is a vegetarian?
Meanwhile, we bought a pink flower at a local nursery — it was called ‘the wave.’ In just a few days it has become five blooms.
Some lilac shoots arrived in a bag in the mail with a sign that said PLANT IMMEDIATELY.
“Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
What life is, you who hold it in your hands”
as I quoted in my high school yearbook — because I knew that while all of life was before me, I could not, for various reasons at the time, be at ease in it. (T.S. Eliot)
Paul Dodd can make art from a nail on the wall, and a photo from a slice of light, and a song out of a breadstick. Ok, I haven’t heard the breadstick song, but I can imagine it. Today is his birthday, and I want to thank him for being alive. He and his wife Peggi Fournier are the kind that, when you’re new in town, make you feel that for sure, you’ve made a good move.
Odd thing is, Paul and Peggi came to us, as my step-daughter likes to say, as complete randoms…
they were our neighbors….
I am often bashful about expressing my love, but I love you Paul and Peggi. Here is a photo of Peggi and us and a painting by Paul — which he painted from a mugshot in the newspaper. He has a whole series of these paintings, and one on his old basketball team… You can unlock the mysteries on Paul and Peggi’s site PopWars.com.
I cannot help but see this virus from mother nature as a wake-up call. Forget your life. Get up. You think you know what time it is? It’s time to pray.
We treat the world so badly. I won’t be sorry to leave the human race. Perhaps the real test is not how we ‘build’ our own lives but how we treat other living things, from people to animals to the smallest birds.
And as for trees —
all those tiny leaves out there — how few us are we, compared to you.