Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Rain Magazine

Cover of the 2015 edition of Rain Magazine

Last winter I started reworking a short story I wrote in 1986.  It was initially based on an experience I had in Salinas, CA, during the summer of 1967.  I originally submitted the story to Oregon English, a publication of the Oregon Council for the Teachers of English.  They rejected it, but the editors gave me plenty of feedback.

I set the story aside for years until I retired and started to rewrite it.  Over and over again.  Revision is one of those quirks most writers have I suppose: there’s always something to be revised.  I submitted the story—”The Sketch—in January of this year to Clatsop Community College’s literary publication Rain Magazine and they accepted it, along with a very short poem.

Considering the writers listed on the cover, I am in good company.

Tonight is the reading.  The writers all have a chance to read from their pieces.  Since Jackie is in the hospital recovering from her foot surgery, Veronica is going with me.  It will be a good experience for both of us.


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Hugh Masekela and flugelhorn http://galleryhip.com/hugh-masekela.html

Hugh Masekela peers through his flugelhorn.

Today is the 76th birthday of Hugh Masekela, South African flugelhornist, composer, and singer. He is truly a world class jazz musician. His music, like so much of the apartheid era in South Africa, was an important part of the defiant political voice against apartheid South Africa.  His music is powerful, full of energy and emotion, blending African rhythms with American swing and South African politics.

The first time I ever heard of Hugh Masekela was in June of 1967. I was finishing my first year of college at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California (1966-1967). I knew nothing about what was going on in South Africa at the time. My political awareness focused on anti-Vietnam war politics only. But that’s what dominated the political discussions on campuses everywhere then, not apartheid South Africa.

Masekela was slated to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival—June 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1967—Saturday evening on the 17th.  My 19th birthday was the following day on June 18th.  Some of the festival’s producers showed up on campus on day, looking to hire ushers to work during the festival run.

Hugh Masekela at Monterey

Hugh Masekela at Monterey

I wasn’t hired, but I had several college friends (lady friends at that) who were hired and I was able to get comp tickets from them for several shows. That’s how I was able to hear him play. Sadly, I remember very little about his performance. Wikipedia places his performance between Moby Grape and the Byrds. I remember Moby Grape and they were amazing musicians. I would get the chance to see them again the following year in February of 1968 in Lewiston, Idaho, at a dance club on Main Street called Caseys.  I was living in Pullman, Washington, at the time taking classes at Washington State University.  Caseys

caseys of lewiston

was unusual in the fact that the owner, Pat Patoray, was somehow able to book many of the major rock bands of the sixties, including Moby Grape.  The club was close enough to Pullman to make a relatively easy job of driving, as long as the Lewiston grade (also known as “The Spiral Highway”)  was passable, especially in winter.

The act I vividly remember is Otis Redding’s performance, the last act that night. I couldn’t find any seats inside the arena, but the festival tech folks had set up this enormous outdoor screen outside and somehow projected his performance on the screen. For the time, it was pretty amazing technology.

Hugh Masekela at Monterey http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/a-bloody-battle-over-monterey-pop-festival-19680406

Otis Redding at Monterey chatting with Jimi Hendrix

Check out the power of his song “Coal Train” from the 2002 film Amandla. Reminds me of the train symbolism in Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country.

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Jung quoteMy interest in Jung’s principal theories of psychology and myth stems from an initial curiosity about and fascination with T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. Two epigraphs in ancient Greek from Heraclitus of Ephesus introduce the collection. One of the two reads as follows:

 “The way upward and the way downward are the same.”

 What fascinates me is the notion that despite the logical (in a scientific sense) impossibility of two opposites existing at the same time, an inherent truth, nevertheless, exists. Much of Eliot’s poem attempts to extract a sense of truth by confronting the wisdom of paradox. I don’t pretend to have any scholarly understanding of what Eliot is trying to “say”—I am a true believer of the idea that poems do not necessarily have to “say” anything; they just are— in these poems; in fact, without Joe Gilde’s marginalia, I would have little access to any understanding at all. The best I can hope for is an appreciation for specific lines in the work that hold a particular fascination for me. Just for a brief example, I offer the following from “Burnt Norton,” no. 1 of the Four Quartets:

Time present I recognize the misapprehension we have of time. We lack either the willingness or the spiritual strength to understand  any but the narrow definitions of time. By this I mean time is ether past or future—what has happened or what will happen. But what if we at least acknowledge the possibility that time is an illusion? My amateurish attempt describes Eliot’s syllogism is as follows:

Time present 2In other words time is both there and not there, and to attempt to comprehend time without a broader understanding is equivalent to—to paraphrase an Alan Watts metaphor—trying to grab a hold of moving water in a stream. Just as our inability to grab moving water does not disprove that water moves, so also our inability to grab a hold of time does not disprove the existence of time. The analogy that water, in this case, is like time works. The power of a moving river, like time, is “eternally present.” The river begins somewhere, though without maps we don’t know exactly where. Like time, the river “ends” somewhere, though we don’t know exactly where it ends. Because the water moves in a very specific direction—again like time because time does not “flow” backwards—we know or sense that it is going somewhere.

Further, we are all taught at an early age that if we are caught in a powerful current, we must not resist or defy the power of that current. Instead, to conserve our energy, we let it carry us along until, at the most opportune time, we can safely make our way to the shore and pull ourselves out. Like the powerful current of a river, we must not resist the powerful pull of time, must not get caught up in identifying the past and the future (though, like the river, we cannot reject the fact that “being a river” includes the source and the destination), and recognize that they, past and future, are the same. Just as the “passing” of time is a part of the whole of time, so a river’s current is a part of the whole of the river. The river cannot exist without its current and time cannot exist without its passing, cannot exist without its “past” and “future.”Time present 3The paradox of time occurs when we attempt to become more aware, more “conscious” of those ordinary yet significant moments of our lives. If we are controlled by time, we lose those “moments in the rose-garden.” We can live in the moment only if we are not “conscious” of time, but “only in time can the moment” be remembered. The paradox? “Only through time time is conquered.” 

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