Saturday, October 31, 2009

landing again and norwich market

i'm safe and resituated at james' brother's place. closer into town, more urban, less suburban; so i've been getting the medieval city experience: on foot everywhere, market shopping, rubbing elbows, cobblestones, flint walls and churches, two pubs round the corner, baby crying through the wall...i've bought a computer, on which i type as we speak, from a friend of juliette's who happened to be moving/downsizing her life---good timing!

more about norwich market: official link here...

about 190 stalls set out in a grid in the middle of a square...everything you could think of buying: hardware, tools, clothes, food [prepared and otherwise], produce, meat, fish, veg, books, things ethnic, etc...

it really hit home to me just how much we pay for convenience at a supermarket [in every way]! what alerted me to this thought was the lack of having-been-hit-over-the-head [by stimuli as well as price] sensation i usually get in, and on the way out of, supermarkets. yes, there's quite a bit of stimulation in a tightly-packed marketplace, but it doesn't make me dizzy like the huge box-stores. the difference? i suppose no pulsating lights over head and a much smaller, more intimate [human] scale. also, concerning price: when you walk into a supermarket, you enter a monolith and a store [competing against itself]....and if you don't like the prices or products you, uh, drive really far to the next one, since so much land is needed to build on such a scale. but, in a marketplace, you enter multiplicity and directness, which, economically speaking, foster competition and hence, lower prices or just a short stroll to the next merchant...

simply, there's no hiding...there's accountability, an actual person to interface with---to direct feedback to, both good and bad...customer and proprietor quickly evolve together in this short feedback loop...yes, large corporations take customer comments/suggestions but with their allegiances divided between customers and shareholders...customers are everything to a small merchant. the larger a company gets, the more leverage it has in every way and can impose its will as monoliths are wont to do, from the top down. a merchant getting power-hungry will probably find himself lonely, alienated and unsuccessful...

think: if we're trying to run our lives like corporations---taking cues from our economic surroundings...could this be more of a reason for widespread loneliness and alienation then the abstract hobbyhorses usually given [e.g. corrosion of family values---which could really be caused by behaving large companies in our personal lives]?

no, market life isn't for everyone in all locations! the geography might not allow for it [vast distances to travel]...the sociology [no one at home to take the time to shop, plan and prepare meals]...whew! i do bang on, don't i? ;-)

serenading jesus

something i actually did, in the form of a poem:

i serenaded jesus
in a small chapel
in a large cathedral

'jesu, joy of man's desiring'
was the tune
on a ukulele

played by a man's son
to the son of man

on a portico
two stone angels accompanied me
one on flute, one on lute

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

tits up and pear-shaped

two british-isms for things going wrong

most people, if asked, would've said that this moment was inevitable...

last saturday juliette, james' girlfriend, expressed that she didn't want to share her space with me; not for 6 months, at any rate----that she wanted to go back to the way her life was before i arrived [which is not possible even if i left tomorrow]...

so...basically i'm seeking a place to live for 4 nights/week, during the times when juliette returns to norwich. james' brother has offered his place till december 1st, when he gets an official lodger. i'm taking him up on it! but then what? i've been reflecting pretty hard about what has come up for me...and not really getting anywhere, honestly...

why has having a home been such a constant struggle? either sold out, priced out or kicked thomas moore reading has influenced me towards an archetypal reading of my situation: i have no home, and attract such treatment through a combustible mixture of being poor and not knowing myself... in a 'new age' way, these two share the same root. having a home is having a place is having a self. i can accept this: i haven't paid into life enough to join it and reap the, not necessarily material, bounty. and not knowing myself means that others can't either. what do i tell them? what's my literal and figurative story? now, i can really see this dynamic! there's nothing people despise/fear more than the unknown, whether it's projected onto death or foreigners.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

trekking round the broads

two buses in, two back out to and from this coup of a day i had today---coup, as in 'personal victory' of actually accomplishing something i had thought i'd like to do. the weather cooperated almost supernaturally: lots of sun, a few sprinkles when i reached the bus stop to leave. on the broads themselves [not being sexist here---broads are flat marshlands] the wind was cranked up to a steady pre-nasty-thunderstorm level [however many mph's that might be].

too bad i forgot my, you'll have to settle for maps instead....
how weird it was to arrive for my first bus connection 30 mins. before i left the house! unbeknownst to me, daylight savings time ended today...

if i had an image editing program, i'd draw a line from the 'a' flag on the map, which represents about where i started my walk in the town of acle, up to the fork in the river just below where it says 'thurne'; hugging the river most of the way. about 8mi. total.

portrait of the landscape: netherland-like flatness, swaying reeds, windmills, a breugel drawing come to life, sailboats and motorboats sticking up two fingers at the wind, cows, bulls, horses, blackberries, moors, clouds, dogs with their walkers, mud, grass...aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh....
it being a sunday in england, i had to end my hike with a huge platter of traditional sunday roast in a local pub....aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh...
i got blisters on my toes!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

what do you think it means?

into downtown for various commercial purposes for an hour or so then back out....

or so i thought...looking up from my current reading, thomas moore's 'a life at work---the joy of discovering what you were born to do', i noticed that i had no idea where i was [in my physical plane coordinates as well as soul] ! then i found out i was heading to norwich airport instead of sprowston, where i'm staying! i really wish to go to the airport [as in leave]? do more wandering [is that even possible]? or is the message: get your nose out of a book and into real life?

comments encouraged...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


yesterday, we trained back and forth to london to see this inspiring documentary about a mad-scientist sound-artist, composer, sculptor, all-round renaissance man named trimpin:

can't say any more than that....maybe except for the faded memory of my postmodern art school days when, in my video classes, i remember being told that, 'video is the language of the future'. i think technology, from pocket-sized cameras to youtube, has caught up with that statement and made it true. after all, i've just illustrated the point: i had an experience that i don't know enough about to explain, but i can show a piece of my experience to you via this video...picture worth 1000 much is a video worth?

egyptian drumming workshop

this past weekend i attended an egyptian drumming workshop with famed doumbek [though he called a 'tabla' throughout] player, E. Meniawy. i don't really play the doumbek proper [or even properly], but wanted to gain some insight into different hand-drumming techniques---which i did, i think.

it's interesting to learn just by watching and imitating, with very little linguistic intellectualizing; a result of a language barrier. his masterful gestures urged us to let go, be very relaxed, with rubbery hands and whip the fingers rather than flex and press into the head. though, a passage from the tao te ching passed through my mind: 'when a beginner fools with the tools of a master, he/she gets hurt'...i believe i understood the kernel of truth of this line, especially as it pertains to teaching a musical instrument: a good player makes playing look much easier than it really is; and that the technique s/he arrived at has evolved to finer levels over time...having started from a much coarser place that isn't evident because the master isn't a beginner anymore. i think this is where the concept of beginner's mind enters as it pertains to teaching.

an example witnessed at the workshop, in myself and others: the excited drumming student hears the loud, crisp sounds of the teacher's playing and wants to mimic them. so, lacking technique, the student uses strength to affect the desired sounds...thus performing a very inefficient gesture that will basically injure the player fairly soon. if the teacher isn't attentive, the student has just learned how to hurt his/herself and will probably not continue playing due to injury/frustration.

i'm pretty sensitive to matters pertaining to teaching a physical craft, having taught massage for a number of years. on top of that, i've suffered a self-induced movement disorder for the past 9 years---focal dystonia. all the lessons being presented to me are unanimous: RELAAAAAAAAAAX!!!!!!!! DON'T HURT YOURSEEEEEEELF!!!!!

i was interviewed, at the workshop, by a person from future radio, the local norwich station! i asked her for audio and if i receive it, i'll post it. photos courtesy of azza, the organizer of the event and owner of the sahara house.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

wondering about wandering and childhood

****attention! poorly-worded, cerebral, egg-head musings alert!!!

i'm at the stage where my map knowledge, visual knowledge and memory of norwich's streets all do not quite coincide; so it's a bit dream-like to wander act of intuition rather than logic or planning. don't get me wrong, i do get around with intent...just not always in the way i wanted to...'oh, i'm here...'

anecdotally, i've found, in my wanderings through various medieval downtowns [norwich included], that there is a peasant roundness about the streets...and that, eventually, all roads lead to the center, whether it is geometrical, spiritual [cathedral], or social/commercial [market/square]. things are where you'd think---if you're thinking like a medieval city dweller...

so, here i'll risk a second adolescence and share my 'deep' inner thoughts. i scrape away some navel lint:

during a wander i came upon a place i remember not knowing from when i first arrived in norwich one month ago; before i even had a container, a context to put it in. here was a space that had yet to be formulated/represented in my mind and connected to other spaces that were already formed within.

then...i really felt that i was experiencing spatially what we all face temporally in trying to describe, re-live, make sense out of our distant pasts [childhoods]---within the same lifetime and even across life times, if you believe in reincarnation. the 'container' could, in this case, be called language with the 'spaces' and 'streets' being synaptic connections between neurons in the brain.

in the same vein, i thought of trauma victims being presented with difficulties that couldn't all be processed/understood in that moment [or even across multiple moments], thus creating a 'remainder' or overflow of free-floating experiences/memories which couldn't be understood [like a mental free-radical]; that didn't 'connect' literally, with other mental schema which would make them more 'processed' or more easily assimilated into the system [digestive-system style]...perhaps even becoming a 'not me' foreign invader that needed to be attacked [immune-system style]...

in sum, really i was reflecting on what happens when we're given any kind of experience before we are able to understand it, or even have the tools with which to do so...that's all...sorry! this chain of thoughts was much better in my head-----where it probably should've remained...

Friday, October 16, 2009

rory mcleod

courtesy of juliette's car, last night we made the 2hr. trip into london [camden town] to see rory mc leod:

even though i'd had a headache all day which continued through the night, i'm very glad we not only went, but stayed for two can get an idea of his general musicianship from the video: impossible harmonica playing, driving stomping rhythm with foot and guitar, spoons on the leg, sensitive lyrics, meandering stories and a very, almost zen, gentleness.

his way of dealing with a quite inconsiderate group at the bar was subtle; so much so that they missed the point, drunkard was actually holding up the start of the second set. she repeatedly wanted to give rory a pair of spoons to which he replied, 'nah, that's alright, plenty at hang onto 'em and get better...' without any malice or sarcasm...very poetic [for me, obviously]...

then...james had been storing a found door---like he does--- at his dad's house a couple of miles from the venue; so after leaving rory with a thank you wink and a 'goodbye' [had to pass him on the way out] we drove to james' dads', tied the door to the roof rack and james continued the long haul drive back to norwich. in at 3am.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

tea chest bass

this week has been dedicated to scavenging the materials for and constructing a proppa tea chest bass for james. you see, we're working up a set of swingin' tunes for busking: in norwich's medieval downtown, empty churches and hopefully a nursing home or two [what high aspirations, eh?] after practicing with me on tenor ukulele and james on vocals and artful kazooing, we decided some fleshing out of the sound was necessary---hence, the bass.

tea chest? americans wouldn't really call it a chest; more like a crate or simply a wooden box in which tea used to arrive from distant points of the empire. thought of as a commonplace item in england, a bona fide tea chest eluded us. however, our eyes were open enough to seize some fine-looking plywood at the local dump!
well, one side was fine...the other had hideous fuzzy wallpaper [stuff that was old when i was young] stuck to it. not a problem to remove after a good scoring and soaking. another score from the dump proved the structural corners. add in some hardware [string, clamps, screws, glue, sandpaper, stain, steel corners], a broom handle and a number of hours wondering how to make it, and you get something like:
[photo coming]
we even called, according to one blog, 'the grandaddy of musical invention' himself, bart hopkin, for advice, which he so graciously gave. i found myself grateful and giddy---almost fan-like---after hanging up. inspired. definitely check him out, soundies...especially this well produced video of him making and playing a driftwood xylophone!
oh, the bass? it sounds excellent! very deep and tonal...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

jimmy juice

as i've said in a previous post, james has been on an all-liquid fruit and vegetable juice diet---supplementing with bee pollen, tinctures of cayenne and hawthorn, spirulina and acidophilus---for the past month. he intends to continue for two more months.

why? to fight chronic fatigue syndrome, aka, myalgic encephalomyelitis in britain. 'me' has made the news recently, having been linked with a virus.

the photo above represents an entire day's worth of nutrition: about 10 pounds of fruit and vegetables. [yes, an expensive proposition] then, all is chopped up and fed into the juicer [the same kind as jay and mel have]. realize that he's been hauling around either the juicer, in the case of carnac, or multiple liter bottles of juice, most days!

then poured through a strainer into containers which hold a meal-serving. [5 liter servings/day]'s a closer look at the chlorophyll goodness:

it provokes wonder in me that chlorophyll and hemoglobin are like yin and yang of each other---similar consistency; opposite in color; opposite in function: transporting co2 and o2 in opposite directions; one is plant, one is animal

voila! cheers, mate to the green moustache! james wanted the caption to this photo to be 'got calcium?' in reference to the fact that we've been conditioned by the dairy industry that calcium equals milk or cheese; meanwhile, your average leafy green contains far more, and far more bioavailable [more able to be absorbed by the body], calcium---amongst many other nutrients:

Friday, October 9, 2009

sick...finally...'s finally happened. getting the first one over with... i've been in for two days with a cold. maybe it was all of that juggling and hula-hooping? maybe that pint of greene king ipa i imbibed after being so excited about circus matters? maybe just a clash in a dark alley between my immune system and some thug microbes who didn't like my kind...

echinacea, cayenne tincture, vitamin c fizzy tablets, nettles tea, ginger and lemon tea: all kindly provided by james and juliette. hopefully i don't return the favor to them, by getting them sick!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

norwich circus night

how ironic it is that i'm spending yet more time than ever in churches---all it has taken is living in a place of little faith...

but this week's excuse to be in a church is perhaps the most cunning: circus night!!!

i found them on myspace. gather together each wednesday and work on your circus skills: juggling, hoola-hooping, unicycling, stilt-walking, etc. [sometimes more than one at a time] secretly i've been wishing for a group of this nature, heck, a school system of this nature! how much better off would we be if we learned circus skills as children? [well, you know my totally biased answer]...actually i should ask the kid in the group; he's about 12...and seemingly a fine nice it was, even for a mediocre juggler, for me to have something to teach!

i look forward to next week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'singing' with the norfolk gallery quire [sic]

all day saturday, culminating in an evening concert, i 'sang' with the raucus norfolk gallery quire [pictured from their website:

the music, i was told, was an english parent to shape note singing in america. four parts sung pretty much as loudly as one can. robust! very fun! [that's why the victorians told them to stop, according to music director, chris gutteridge] like becoming a pipe organ with 15 other people---recommended! i really thought of my friend hugh a lot...

the program was named 'church going' after the philip larkin poem, whose last stanza i'll include:

A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognised, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.

an earlier stanza wonders what churches will become after no one worships in them---a present problem in england. the present answer is for curches to become cafes, museums and music venues. norwich, with the highest concentration of stone churches in europe also has a high concentration of...cafes, museums and music venues!


Monday, October 5, 2009

carnac---part III....inside the dolmens and tumuluses

stop. what's that on the side of the road? a wonderful group of two dolmens and a tumulus! the dolmens de mane-kerioned. [gradually i'm learning that the greatest satisfaction lies in discovering sites for one's self, off-piste.] the interior of the tumulus sports some interesting engravings which look like chalk drawings but aren't. it seems that the carved channels in the rock attracted some type of fungus over the course of 5,000 years. amazingly, i was able to capture them convincingly with the digital camera. flash in the dark.

let's set the exterior scene----here's the smaller dolmen of the two:

the larger of the two:

here are engravings inside the tumulus. maybe its just my tactile nature, but it was in here that i found the most 'connection' and communion with the stones...and/or with the people who put them there. the sense of sanctuary which is inevitable inside a stone tomb surely added to this sensation.

lastly at the fruitful dolmens de mane-kerioned, james plays schiziod tour guide and can subsequently never run for public office:

carnac---part II....dolmens and tumuluses

a vocab refresher:

dolmen=standing stones with a table stone horizontally across them.

tumulus=a burial mound [think tomb]

next day...the meat of the trip...

having seen the main attractions of carnac----the alignements---we returned to the route des alignements and kept on driving east. a curious sign on the side of the road---a tumulus restaurant 150 meters [mmm...indian food]...but was there a tumulus for the restaurant to name itself after? yes, it turned out! here i must applaud the french priorities; in america, an attraction gets a gaudy gift carnac, the stones get restaurants!

through a stone gatehouse with honors system box, on our way to the tumulus of kercado, james being james, we stopped to harvest a bounty of chestnuts to bring back to the gourmands in devon. through another stone gate into a solemn, dare i say sacred, space:

simultaneously, we experienced a peace oozing from the landscape and walked a bit in search of the source; we both resolved to retire in france...our 401[k]'s laugh!

in the car again...we see the head of a hiking trail not included on the tourist map. the hike is longer than we'd anticipated, but retrospectively worth it in order to find the 'giant'---the largest standing stone in the area! what is it about us humans that makes it so easy for us to idolize a large singularity [think of pyramids, obelisks and/or michael jackson]? below, in the video, see james and i being all too human:

stone interlude---le plage!

after a morning and early afternoon of stone gazing, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous mediterranean weather to-----go the the beach!

the water was only slightly warmer than the freezing shores of devon; but when in france...

surprised [and perhaps a bit disappointed] not to find the famed french topless sun bathers...had the season passed ;-)

then, suddenly james attained enlightenment:

after that, a night on the town...delicious, smooth brittany hard cider and various crepes for me....

but not for james: he is still subsisting on nothing but fresh, organic fruit and veg juice 5 times/day in order to combat his chronic fatigue syndrome. he's been going for 1 month so far and plans to do 2 more months. he has lost 28 pounds to date! i think i need to do a post just on that...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

carnac---part I....the alignments

heading south from devon to france by ferry....then driving across brittany for a few more hours...ariving in the dark [actually and metaphorically]...finding the self-catering rental unit after some morning: to the stones, at last! if english customs could see me now...truth trumps fiction again...

there are over 3,000 standing stones, called menhirs, in carnac---making it the largest megalithic site still standing in europe. the average radiocarbon dating places them between 4,000-6,000bc!!! bc!!!! why didn't we learn about this in school?

the 'first' [westernmost] group is the menec alignment---named thus because all the stones are in aligned rows, running east/west. picture a field about 3 times longer than an american football field filled with about 6 lengthwise rows of 5-10ft tall stones. add in perfect mediterranean weather and you get an idea of what we experienced.

we walked all the way around the perimeter fence; direct contact with the alignment stones is forbidden due to erosion concerns.

allons-y eastward down the route des alignements! to kermario!

this is very difficult to capture in words and pixels! and, honestly, there weren't any eureka epiphanies to report [darn!] no spaceship landings nor past life regressions...i know, disappointing! both james and i felt more 'connection' to the more hidden away dolmens and tumuluses.

kermario from an observation tower:

confession: the stones definitely command the landscape with one's attention and respect. james and i concluded after a quick thought experiment: how would it feel to be in charge of disrupting the stones as, say, a developer? like a grave robber...well, a lot less poetically than that...

we tried to picture the society that would spend so much time and energy to do this: was the labor of love, leisure or of compulsory servitude? who ordered the work? a priest with a vision/demand? a warrior chief? the illuminati?

a dolmen of the kerlescan [easternmost] alignment. dolmen? standing stones with table stones across the top, forming a burial tomb. can we do better than place stones upright to commemorate the end of a human life?