Thursday, July 29, 2010

A dancing addendum to Tuesday

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
-- "Marcelle Lender Doing the Bolero in Chilperic" / 1895

Art reflecting art reflecting art reflecting ....

This is for anyone who actually enjoyed viewing the work of Maurice Bejart mingled with the music of Freddie Mercury (and Queen) in my post a couple of days ago -- Tuesday, to be exact. I take it for granted no one bothered to read what I wrote (well, maybe, one individual), but I hope an inquisitive soul or two watched a video or two among those which accompanied the words.

Whoops, arrogance seeps out a bit again. Sorry, but all Marines, past and present (and, I am certain, future), are that way. I mean, really, they are .... go ask a few if you doubt me.

Anyway .... here, for your dessert, is a bit of Bejart's interpretation of Joseph-Maurice Ravel's Bolero. Two adaptions, as a matter of fact.

To be honest, in the first video I prefer the segments where the guys are dancing around the girl far, far, far more than those parts in which the guys are dancing around the guy. Sorry, but we all cannot be .... well, you get my drift.

The second video shows the closing scene from the 1981 French motion picture "Les Uns et les Autres" (entitled, "Bolero: Dance of Life," in the U.S.). The dancer on the table, incidentally, is Jorge Donn, to whom, along with Mercury, Bejart dedicated his "Ballet for Life."

This second video is significantly more fascinating to watch than the first, I think, in terms of studying the expressions and the actions of the many film characters who are viewing the dance as it progresses, and also because of the more panoramic view of the dancers themselves.

Art reflecting art reflecting art, I think. What do you think?

More thoughts about Winter & Warsaw

Also on Tuesday, I wrote: "Anyway, I do miss it (Winter in Warsaw) and am drawn to the snowy, cold Winter of Warsaw, and feel compelled to return in order to understand it .... or, to find another place which might become magical for me next Winter. Berlin, maybe. Oslo, maybe. Moscow, maybe. It must be in the North. Any thoughts?"

The caveat is that when Springtime arrives, I must again return to the United States. I must return to do some business, most likely, yes, but primarily to breathe American air again, to be a free spirit and a free man in the tradition of the American man.

Not everyone understands that, not even many of those who live in America these days, which is sad, because millions around the world would be living in servitude in dictatorships if it had been any other way.

I do not wish to leave America forever, or I would have done so long ago. But, I no longer entirely feel like America is my home due to the political climate which now exists here, and I abhor the societal collapse this country is experiencing. My own prediction is that another civil war is on the horizon. In any case, I could easily split my time living in two or three countries every year and be more-or-less content and happy.

Enough of such words for now. I am quite certain that, once again, you get my drift ....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No news, but I feel like talking (writing)

The Winter in Warsaw still is heavy on my mind. (Why would it not be?) I miss it, for the most part. This is a photograph from back then. It was a snowy, cold night, we were listening to music and drinking wine in The Apartment, and I sort of hung out of the third-floor window to shoot this scene. This was Piwna Street as it existed for a moment in time about midnight in the middle of February. The tailor's shop, the jewelry shops, the cathedrals, the delicatessens, the palaces, the restaurants, the antique shops, the pizza places, that I was in the midst of line the street only a few steps away from me. It came to me a while ago that I keep referring to The Apartment as my apartment. It was "our apartment," an apartment for two, for a few months. Anyway, I do miss it and am drawn to the snowy, cold Winter of Warsaw, and feel compelled to return in order to understand my attachment .... or, perhaps, to find another place which might become magical for me next Winter. Berlin, maybe. Oslo, maybe. Moscow, maybe. It must be in the North where it is snowy and cold. Any thoughts?

The nature of love

That I have been spending too much time alone the past three months is not an exaggeration. It is partially by choice, partially by fate, if that makes any sense at all.

From the "by choice" part of the ledger, it is sort of like fasting but, in this instance, I am purging my mind rather than my body. From the "by fate" side of the equation, it falls under the category that "you can’t always get what you want," to quote Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

One day about the time I was passing on my way from age seventeen to age eighteen, I promised myself that I would experience everything in life there was to experience. Of course, I had no idea at the time that the human psyche is not very well equipped to handle every experience life has to offer.

Also, at the time, I had little notion that I would already have accomplished (if accomplished is the correct word to use in this case) that promise to myself in one form or another by the time I had reached age twenty-five.

This does not mean, naturally, that I had been to the moon or even had climbed Mount Everest, but it does mean I had known life, death, love, deceit, betrayal, exhilaration, nirvana, despair and the highest mountains and the deepest seas of human emotion through experience. These things were accomplished by living in momentary modes = never staying in the same places doing the same things with the same people for too long a period of time. What most people do over years in the passage of time, I often did in days or weeks or, sometimes, months.

Frankly, I do not believe the sins of the father follow the son, or in karma or in predestination. On this point, I would argue against anyone who considers destiny or fate as synonymous with karma, for I think free will -- free choice -- is what determines our destiny. Yes, once more I am back to Robert Frost and "two roads diverged."

My destiny depends upon which road I choose, as does your destiny rely upon your selections. In the past, my choices largely have centered around my wishes and my goals and my desires. Most of us who are alone or even who have a companion but are unhappy with our lives, I believe, are that way because we dwell too much on ourselves. Such individuals (we) are not willing to live for someone else as much we live for ourselves.

It could be that I finally have realized one element to life I have yet to experience -- that element being to live as much for another as I live for myself.

Does this describe you, too?

To quote Mick and Keith once again: "But if you try, sometimes, well, you just might find you get what you need."

A couple more random thoughts ....

(1) All the videos in this post are from Maurice Bejart's "Ballet for Life," a piece celebrating the lives of singer Freddie Mercury and dancer Jorge Donn, both of whom died from AIDS. Bejart set the ballet to music by Queen and W.A. Mozart, and the choreography was performed by his dance company. The videos here are from performances in 1997. If you were in the right place at the right time to see this ballet, consider yourself blest. Even on tape, it is something special.

(2) Surely, there are women in the world who are more concerned about who they live with and how they live rather than where they live. Am I wrong?

(3) There still is time to make it to the Lake Okojobi concert .... hint, hint .... later, baby ....

(4) Speaking of concerts, I received an email commenting about how lucky I will be to have attended two in two weeks. Actually, it will have been three in four weeks. I also went to a concert featuring Styx, Foreigner and Kansas in Minneapolis back on July 1. I have been in a nostalgic mood in more ways than one this summer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 03

Ever heard of Lake Okoboji? Of Arnolds Park? Of Blue Oyster Cult?
Come on, baby! We can meet there next week for a bit of rock ....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 02

Remember? I like Heart. Now, guess who I saw perform on Sunday.
Yes, at Lilith Fair. Maybe, next time "you" will be there with me ....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 01

The boys "camping out" and telling ghost stories at bedtime.
It would have been more fun if "you" had been here with us ....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We never say never

Gabriel Metsu -- "Man Writing a Letter" / 1662-1665

An open letter to ....

Dear Female of the Species,

There is an old saying which is true in many ways and about many things: "Hope springs eternal."

My hope, at this point in time, is that someday I will find you -- or, find you again, as the case might be. Tomorrow, next week, two months from now. Sometime. But, not too long a time -- not too far into the future.

Because, at some point along the trail -- tomorrow, next week, two months from now -- if you still are unknown to me, or even if you are known but still not with me, I will wake up one morning and think to myself that the moment has arrived for me to move on and to make definite plans for a life in which you play no intimate role. Think back to words I wrote months ago. This phase of my life is my "last run." I designated it as such during the winter of 2009. And, it will be just that. And, as the song goes, it will be exactly that "with you or without you."

Also, in the winter of 2009, I wrote a post which included the words, "Never again will I spend a winter alone." This vow remains one of the few promises I have made to myself during my life. It held true for the winter of 2010. I will go a long way to ensure it holds true for the winter of 2011.

So, for the time being, I will continue "packing and re-packing" my property. You will continue wandering in your own world -- wherever that might be. My plans are pretty much made and set from now until around the end of October, but I am beginning to think beyond that point, too.

Remember, I am the "happiness is momentary guy." Even if we find each other and become companions, I would not expect all our moments together to be happy ones. I simply would rather be with you than apart from you. But, even apart from you, I anticipate experiencing happy moments as well as sad moments and painful moments and ecstatic moments and moments involving every emotion imaginable to continue occurring in my life. So, again, I say: I just rather would be with you than without you. That is all; that is everything.

Just realize that no matter where you are, I do actually love you, and my love is real, because it is strong enough for me to let you go. However, I will not forget about my own well being: Never another winter alone.

At least, in my present mood, I have no decision to make and, consequently, will not someday be wondering if I once again had made a poor choice in deciding which path to follow when "two roads diverged." It is you who may -- or may not -- be haunted a decade or two "down the road" by the decision you make today.

Who can say? If I cannot find you, possibly, you will find me.

Dum vita est spes est,

Fram, who waits and hopes, but soon must wander ....

Ann Wilson is as beautiful as ever;
or, read this again in twenty-five years

Most of my uncles were farmers or Lutheran ministers or doctors. These are three occupations from which its participants especially enjoy telling other people what to do, as well as explain to anyone who will listen what is right and what is wrong about the world. The same might be said of journalists.

All right. It could be you will comprehend where I am coming from when I say this: Being a man, I am not certain where beauty (if any) is to be found in a man. Actual beauty, in a woman, I believe, is to be found in her art. Do you understand me better now, and why I drift the way I do at times?

Since I anticipate this will be my last post for a while, I am writing even more than usual and including more music than usual. Of the music, especially take a look at Heart, the band's rendition of "Crazy on You" from 1976, the 1994 version of "Love Hurts" and the performance of "Alone" in 2003. For any "kids" out there in never-never land (using the term loosely), this is an excellent illustration of what a quarter-century actually means in the over-all scheme of things.

It means beauty only is skin deep, and capability does not make any difference in regard to how much or how little a person eats. It means talent and ability and emotions all persist well beyond a quarter-century of living life as an adult. It means a candle burns until it is extinguished by death. It means Nancy Wilson is as beautiful as ever.

I saw Heart -- the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy -- in 1977 and again in (but not until) 2003. The account of my 1977 adventure would make for an entertaining post. (But, if no one reads it, why bother?) The 2003 event was a pure nostalgia trip, and not much more.

This is the long way of saying that I understand the mechanical physics of earthly existence, and they are about as relevant to actually living life as is determining what ketchup to buy -- Heinz, Hunts or the Walmart brand. If you do not understand what I just said, wait another twenty-five years, look in a mirror and then read these words again.

I am laughing, and I hope you are, too.

Time to move into the background once more

On Sunday (July 4), I posed this question in my post:

"So, I am asking again. Does anyone out there have any answers -- any suggestions, any opinions, any comments at all -- about this dreamy state of mine .... about these voyages into the surreal I have briefly described."

Today, two days later, and not a single, specific response. Which is fine, but I think it might be a sign to slip into the background again for a while. We all have things to do besides spending our time putting together posts, so I think I will return to the "real world" now and concentrate on those other things for a while.

Other than that, as I have said once or twice in the past, I am in the fortunate position of being able to do a bit of journalistic work for actual cash if I want to do any "playful writing." And, as I also have said once or twice in the past, I quit my newspaper job in May 2009 to go to Europe and to try to do some "serious writing." Well, I went to Europe, but the serious writing has been in a state of blissful procrastination.

I guess it is time to move beyond thinking about companions (for a while) and to start thinking about unfinished promises to myself. Add to that the fact I have been writing about many things here which best would be confided only to friends -- and, it appears I no longer have any friends who drift upon the sea of blogs. Sort of funny the way things turned out, I think. I still am laughing.

If anyone wants to contact me, it is not complicated to do so. Otherwise, I will return when I have some actual news to report. By the way, to you, who actually read this sort of missal from top to bottom, I give you my thanks and I owe you a dinner.

Some lines from "An Essay on Man"
Epistle I
by Alexander Pope

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We are chasing something or someone

Antonio de Pereda y Salgado -- "The Knight's Dream" / 1665

To sleep: perchance to dream

I have been having a great deal of trouble sleeping since my return from Poland. I think it was the time change -- seven hours difference -- that initially created the problem. It probably still is part of my restlessness.

But, the primary rogue element here seems be dreams. I initially will sleep for two or three hours, then wake up in a dream and cannot go back to sleep again for a considerable amount of time. Then, after sleep returns, I quite often am awakened again a hour or two later, caught up in another dream.

Many of my dreams have been extremely vivid, and mostly seem to me to be completely disconnected from my actual life. In one dream, for instance, which I have experienced at least twice that I recall, I am sitting in a chair watching myself sleep and listening to myself snore. So, you think that is funny, hah? You do not have to laugh about it.

Well, how about this? In another dream, which I have had more than a few times, I have been running with a pack of wolves through a primeval forest. We are chasing something or someone, but I have no idea what or who. I am naked. (Whoops. Again, no laughter, please. This is serious business.) I am carrying a tomahawk in my left hand and a knife in the right. I am howling like the other members of the pack, and running as absolutely hard and fast as I am able.

Are you still with me? Do you want a third dream? Want it or not, here it is: I am in the midst of a raging river, in the water, clinging to a large tree trunk, drifting along. No canoe here. No swimming here. Just me, hanging on to the tree as it races along in a virtual torrent of river water.
I am looking for some way to reach the shore, but I am not afraid. In fact, I am enjoying the ride, but I want to go to shore, although I do not know why.

Everything that surrounds me -- the lush, thick forest; the steep, brown and green river banks; the splashing, heaving, bubbling water of the river -- everything is very beautiful. I can feel the roughness of the tree bark against my arms and my cheek as I cling to the tree. At one point, I look down and watch an ant leisurely walking along the tree trunk just inches from my face.

I have my own guess what this particular dream might represent.

Once upon a time, I knew a young lady whose medical affiliation included work with a sleep clinic. I met her when she gave me a pre-employment physical. There was no romance here, unfortunately for me. She was very attractive and very, very intelligent, but happily married and the mother of a very neat little boy. No romance, but many hours talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is to say, we danced intellectually.

Anyway, to continue .... part of her work was to stand watch over a variety of devices in one room while a patient with a diagnosed sleep disorder slept in an adjacent room. In addition to television cameras for viewing the "sleeper," there were monitors present to measure the rhythms and the stages and the patterns of sleep, and to note physical changes in areas such as breathing, and heart and pulse rates.

Although it was very much against the rules (please, do not tell anyone about this), on occasion I would spend a few hours with her at the monitors, watching the "sleeper" and listening to my clinical friend explain what was happening. She would offer her professional opinion about what patients were experiencing in their sleep and during their dreams. It was fascinating. Where is she now when I actually need her? I could use her expertise now.

There have been a few occasions when I have written about my dreams -- even going so far as to mention a particular dream that I had been experiencing repeatedly -- and asked if there were any dream interpreters reading here who were willing to offer an opinion about my night visions. So, I am asking again. Does anyone out there have any answers -- any suggestions, any opinions, any comments at all -- about this dreamy state of mine .... about these voyages into the surreal I have briefly described.

In the meanwhile, I bid you a goodnight. It is time for me to return to the woodlands and to run with the wolf pack.

Some lines from "Hamlet" (III, 1)
by William Shakespeare

To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil ….

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let us die young or let us live forever

This is the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island as seen from offshore on Lake Huron. Most of the motion picture, "Somewhere in Time," was filmed here. It is about traveling back in time to the hotel in the early years of the 20th Century, and it is one of my favorite films in that genre.

Once upon a time in the past

Part 2 of (for now) 2 (I think)

Some years are eventful and memorable. Other years slide by with nothing especially remarkable occurring, and blend in with the passage of time in nondescript ways.

I spent a few hours thinking about my thirtieth and thirty-first years this week. The reason why those years fell out of the hat is not relevant to this conversation. Whatever .... here are a few things from those years:

The canoe trek from which my post, "Swim with me where the river flows deeply," that appeared on this page in March 2009, was based on an experience that happened when I was thirty. It was the story of a canoe excursion and a near drowning on the Escanaba River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Michigan was the setting for several fascinating experiences for me when I was thirty and thirty-one.

I canoed for the first time among ice floes on Lake Superior.

I made my first visit to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. The island, and most specifically, the Grand Hotel, was the setting for, "Somewhere in Time," a time-travel film I greatly enjoy.

With a copy of Ernest Hemingway's short stories in one hand, I read from "The Big Two-Hearted River" as I walked over an old, steel, railroad bridge -- literally following the footsteps he made two generations before my own:

"Nick .... walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spires of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins .... Nick watched them a long time ....

"Nick's heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling. He turned and looked down the stream. It stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff ....

"Nick walked .... along the road feeling the ache from the pull of the heavy pack. The road climbed steadily. It was hard work walking up-hill. His muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of him."

I spent a few days walking beside and canoeing upon Hemingway's Fox River near Seney, Michigan, which was the actual site of the "Two-Hearted" story.

On New Year's Eve that year, I went out with a group of friends. Somewhere along the line, I met a young lady. Somewhere along the line, I left my group and she left her group, and she came home with me and spent the night with me. The next day, I drove her to the airport and she flew away to her actual home and away from me -- forever. We kept in contact for a while, but never saw each other again. Once more, I sense the echo of Robert Frost and "The Road Not Taken."

Not long after I turned thirty-one, I rose from being a reporter to become a managing editor. From this event came a tale some people simply will not believe. I was content being a reporter and living life in the woodlands and on the water, and very indecisive when offered the post of managing editor. It would mean much more responsibility, much more work and time at work -- much more than required for simply being a reporter. But, it would mean much more money, too.

I sought out my best friend to discuss the matter. He was working at his home, rotating the tires on his car, as a matter of fact. I had brought a bottle of wine for each of us to assist in solving my dilemma. Since he was working, I climbed up into a huge, old, pine tree to consume my bottle of wine, while he remained on terra firma, doing his task and drinking his wine.

By the time I had made a decision about the job offer, we each had consumed eleven bottles of wine. The first six of mine, I drank from my perch in the pine tree. As I said, there have been times when I have told this story that some people would not or could not believe my compadre and I each drank eleven bottles of wine. Oh, yes. We did.

There were other memorable canoe trips during my thirtieth and thirty-first years and, since I still was a hunter at the time, a few adventures in that regard. One involved waking up in the early morning hours when my tent collapsed upon me under the weight of about fifteen inches of snow fallen overnight. Another time was watching a mother bobcat and her babies rollicking in the snow in the middle of an absolute wilderness on a pristine, winter day.

The events mentioned here are among the first things that enter my mind when I recall my thirtieth and thirty-first years. These were good years for me.

By the way, the young lady's name was Marsha. She was a university student from Detroit, who had spent the week between Christmas and New Year's Day way up north with her best friend. She had black hair, and wore it short. She was ten years younger than I was, which seemed to be a vast gulf at the time. She was very beautiful.

Do you really want to live forever?

Two days ago, on June 30, one of the songs I posted was "Forever Young." Some of the words captivate me, so I decided to post the lyrics in their entirety here today. The way Laura Branigan sings the song also captivates me, so I decided to repeat it here again today.

And, although the audio quality leaves very, very, very much to be desired, also posted is her rendition of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." I picked this song from among her others because it seems to be an appropriate fit for a portion of the words I wrote in my post today.

And, I cannot help but to mention that Ms. Branigan and my second wife could easily have passed for sisters. Perhaps, that is another reason I like her music. Affection sometimes remains even after love has vanished.

For those not familiar with her, Ms. Branigan was a singer and a songwriter and an actress. She died in 2004 at the age of 47 from a brain aneurysm.

And, now she lives forever through her music.

Lyrics from the song "Forever Young"
by Marian Gold & Frank Mertens & Bernhard Lloyd

Let's dance in style let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when the space is one
As we turn our faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the mad men

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, forever young

Some are like water some are like the heat
Some are the melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?

It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth's like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams waiting out of the blue
We'll let them come true

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

Something special ....