musical influences for noah, part 3 – the zappa thread

it’s a fair comparison to suggest that the zappa/beefheart relationship is similar to  the cave/ellis one, though not as sustained. he’s been often much misunderstood. in part because he didn’t conform to the rock&roll paradigm of his day, and, because in that political climate, his irony and satire and parody of the political obsessions then current, particularly, ‘identity politics’, did not for obvious reasons, go over very well. it wouldn’t be until the early 2000’s when his critique of identity politics would be renewed by some of its original proponents – stuart hall, gayatri spivak, paul gilroy, etc. [see gilroy’s defense of hiphop musican, snoopdog] yet, he was taken completely seriously by some of the great 20th century composers of his day, like pierre boulez. he resisted the ‘purity’ of the avant-garde, politically and aesthetically, yet, combined both of those threads. his sometimes sexual crassness cannot be understood independently of irony/parody/satire/, and it should never be taken as literally meant. all of his own bands were incredibly ‘diverse’, and he never presented himself as a great maestro, but always featured his co-musicians as exactly that, co-musicians. during performances, he often took a backseat. that was a political position he strongly represented. see ‘porn wars’ below, where he testifies before congress, questioned by the likes of al gore… and if i remember correctly, jessie helms… and remember back to his piece, ‘it can’t happen here’, which while being an obvious reference to the rise of nazism, also, and therefore, foreshadowed T-rump and co…

[note: unlike most musician of his day, zappa eschewed drugs and alcohol]

what’s interesting about this recording, again, is the not only the visual video/tv synthesizing, and the date of the performance, but i’m pretty sure the ‘german tv’ is the famous avant-garde station, that is called something like, radiofunke, that’s not it… but the same station where vanderbeek/cunningham/cage performed Variations V in 1965.

a very famous piece called King Kong – resonate with a 40/60’s black jazz musician, eric dolphy know for his dissonant sax playing… he died tragically  in paris because a french hospital refused to treat him because he was black… but the beefheart connection is also present. though beefheart is more radically ‘poetic’, more pure poetry concret, more dada, than zappa, who is more narrative. well, i might be wrong… zappa has his own poetry concret/dada side also.

another of my deep influences: jean-luc ponty, radical electrified violinist, ‘covering’ zappa’s king kong. this, along with mclaughlin, oregon, tyner, etc, is what i was mostly listening to between the ages of 15-18… along with the blues of muddy guy, john mayhall, james cotton, john-lee hooker, and the like, t-rex… i’m a big harmonica fan. thus the shift to riley was inevitable.

couldn’t decide which to include, so i’m including both… a bit of repetition can’t hurt, no?

and…. a bit of history, live…

pierre boulez, the well known avant-garde classical composer and conductor, was a zappa fan, and performed several of Z’s pieces, including king kong, i think, but i can’t find it. boulez was the first director of the experimental music component of pompidou centre in paris, and he and cage carried on a very contentious correspondence, in which they vehementtly disagreed about the direction of contemporary classical music. which i’ve read and is fascinating. i tend to agree with cage… which is surprising since i’m pretty critical of cage generally… cage would never have covered zappa…. and then there is the collab between the who and riley…

the following is a very short zappa piece about boulez…

i was very lucky to see cotton and mayhall in waterville maine when i was in high school. where i also saw dick gregory the comedian and some then well known beat poets like ferlengetti who founded city lights bookstore in SF… the advantage of living in a well know liberal arts university town…

and this, well… it came up randomly, but fits…subversion in the moment… spontaneity… the extraordinary hubris and clamor of the times… the importance of raucous, experimentalism, and paradigms of music that never really do fit the genre paradigms… because ‘translation’ is, it seems, a deep cultural need… cover to cover, or, covers to covers… such an important aspect of music – the ‘cover’…. the authorial issue?

and well, hendrix is another big influence of course…

and well, no reflection on Z would be complete without at least a nod to his guitar prowess…

Z’s following guitar performance should NOT ONLY be compared to other rock&roll greats, but equally to coltraine’s ‘extreme’ experimentalism and other threads in 20th C classical experimentalism. as well as to Dada… of the second 20th century… the performative/theatrical response to WWI… meant to break down all your expectations in the face of the dominant Spectacle of ad-man driven modernity…

musical influences for noah, part 3 – the zappa thread

musical influences for noah, part 2

as with any time period dominated by a particular cultural paradigm, in the midst of the 60s and 70s when rock&roll was hegemonic musically, there were other subterranean coeval rivers.  szabor was not least among them.

nor was ralph towner and company [this was what i once heard when i was 16 at colby college back in 1973, in a very small, intimate auditorium, and afterwards, i went up and talked to the band members, having no clue as to who they were… the next year, while still in high school, i enrolled in courses at colby, in ‘cultural eugenics with professor gustav todrank, even… a professor of religion turned aestheist! we became life long friends and he lent me his house in the famed seaside maine village of kennebunkport to get married in when i was 22…  noah attended, aged 4 months]

interesting how the album covers are so deeply memorable…

and with, right, paul winter: note the english and french horns… baroque jazz.. with tablas… way before kronos…

note: Paul Winter has made music in the Grand Canyon, dueted with a wolf in Minnesota, and seen his songs taken to the moon by the Apollo astronauts, who named two craters after his songs.

skip to 6.15 mins in: such a time cut… yet not at all… not the 6.15 jump, but that between the 70s and this in 2014… irish, baroque jazz fusion , whales, riley and beyond… i first heard winter with towner, playing whale sounds in bath maine in 1974 or 75. 🙂 if this isn’t ‘conceptual sonic art’, i don’t know what is. human-animal collaboration… no wonder i went to study with haraway…

okay, it was in fact painful, so i’ve deleted it…

and then there is the inimitable jon ambercrombie, who sometimes played with towner

structure vs lyricism… ser y estar

yeah, the list of the forgotten goes on and on….

this particular jag wouldn’t be complete, and it could never be complete, as an excavation of my own musical unconscious, but in with these cats, unless i added something by larry coryell… the parallel track of blues/funk/etc will have to wait, and i’m sure you’re happy about that… you’ve had to bear a bit of that. but just a bit…

coryell was then, still is as far as i know, considered one of the greatest guitarists every…

right, more and more and…

well, who else but stanley clark… interesting how most of the music in this post hovers around 1974… in that year, i had won awards for my prowess in advanced biology… been kicked off the ski team because it was discovered i had smoked pot, i admitted that my very long hair then, was indeed a statement… but i had at my back all my teachers who were then themselves at least half hippy… or, aspiring…

in retrospect, it may have been clarke’s album that infiltrated my brain most… i have always want to learn to play the base… 🙂

musical influences for noah, part 2

musical influences for noah, part 1

i was a wee lad when i first heard this around 1974 or so. still in high school. it was then that shifted from rock to jazz, that, and the other momentus musical moment for me, was hear the band, oregon, with ralf towner. and john mclaughlin, among a few others, formed my musical imaginary. these 3 albums in particular. i should be embarrassed by the new ageism, but i’m definitely NOT. it hasn’t effected my conversion to atheism… 🙂

i was there…. sort of. long story. in 1972 i was 15, one of the few high school age pot heads in Maine…. or anywhere probably, and part of a hippie exodus from the haight ashbury who happened to ‘drop out’ in my home town of waterville…. as i said, long story… i was a vegetarian buddhist in those days…. at 15… interesting to re-listen to this. i still love it.

right, then there was john mclaughlin’s mahavishnu orchestra, acid jazz, also 1972..

yeah, so it was all down hill from there…

but… i also heard james cotton…. in waterville maine… not to mention dick gregory, but that’s another track entirely…  🙂

musical influences for noah, part 1

contraine, intersteller, and einstein

Recorded in the year of his death, Interstellar Space—a frenetic suite of free jazz duets with drummer Rashied Ali—didn’t appear until 1974. The album has since received widespread critical acclaim, and stands, Graham argues, as “Coltrane’s most influential record, its echoes still heard today in everything from electronic music to some of the world’s biggest hip hop acts.”

Should we pursue this line of thinking, however, we might have to grant that the posthumous Interstellar Space and its follow-up Stellar Regions—compiled from tapes Alice Coltrane discovered in 1994—are the result of Coltrane’s final musical apotheosis and thus can sound nigh-incomprehensible to most mere mortals. Interstellar Space “is a musicians’ album, for sure,” Graham admits, and an album for those fully open to the unknown: “the dissonance and enharmonic experimentation… is otherworldly.”

John Coltrane Draws a Mysterious Diagram Illustrating the Mathematical & Mystical Qualities of Music

On the other side of the epistemological spectrum, we have physicist and sax player Stephon Alexander, who writes in his book The Jazz of Physics that “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.” Likewise, saxophonist Roel Hollander sees in the tone circle a number of mathematical principles. But, remaining true to Coltrane’s synthesis of spirituality and science, he also reads its geometry according to sacred symbolism.

The circle contains Coltrane’s musical experiments, yet cannot be explained by them; it hints at theoretical physics and the geometry of musical composition, while also making heavy allusion to mystical and religious symbolism. The musical relationships it constructs seem evident to those with a firm grasp of theory; yet its strange intricacies may be puzzled over forever. “Coltrane’s circle,” writes Faena Aleph, is a “mandala,” expressing “precisely what is, at once, both paradoxical and obvious.” Ultimately, Mwamba concludes in his series on the diagram, “it isn’t possible to say that Coltrane used the diagram at all; but exploring it in relation to what he was saying at the time has led to more understanding and appreciation of his music and life.”

The circle, that is, works like a key with which we might unlock some of the mysteries of Coltrane’s later compositions. But we may never fully grasp its true nature and purpose. Whatever they were, Coltrane never said. But he did believe, as he tells Frank Kofsky in the 1966 interview above, in music’s ability to contain all things, spiritual, physical, and otherwise. “Music,” he says, “being an expression of the human heart, or of the human being itself, does express just what is happening. The whole of human experience at that particular time is being expressed.”

for a possible interpretation of coltraine’s diagram, see: stephon alexander – the physics of jazz
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animation by michael levy, Giant Steps


contraine, intersteller, and einstein

‘sexual harassment’: cole porter channeled through ella fitzgerald to sammy davis jr. – it’s too darn hot!

a ‘philosophy’ of ‘covers’ continued…in contrast to elon musk’s falcon heavy…  what contemporary music takes on gender/sexual oppression like this, with direct reference to a heinous so called ‘scientific study’? in public, on broadway, in las vegas?!


The Kinsey Reports are two books on human sexual behavior, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), written by Alfred Kinsey, Paul Gebhard, Wardell Pomeroy and others and published by Saunders. Kinsey was a zoologist at Indiana University and the founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (more widely known as the Kinsey Institute).
Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was based on personal interviews with approximately 6,000 women. Kinsey analyzed data for the frequency with which women participate in various types of sexual activity and looked at how factors such as age, social-economic status and religious adherence influence sexual behavior. Comparisons are made of female and male sexual activities. Kinsey’s evidence suggested that women were less sexually active than men.
The publications were immediately controversial among the general public. The findings caused shock and outrage, both because they challenged conventional beliefs about sexuality and because they discussed subjects that had previously been taboo.

Kinsey’s methodology used to collect data has received criticism. It has been suggested that some data in the reports could not have been obtained without collaborations with child molesters. The Kinsey Institute denies this charge, though it acknowledges that men who have had sexual experiences with children were interviewed, with Kinsey balancing what he saw as the need for their anonymity to solicit “honest answers on such taboo subjects” against the likelihood that their crimes would continue. Additionally, concerns over the sample populations used were later addressed by the Kinsey Institute. The conclusion of the Kinsey Institute was that none of Kinsey’s original estimates were significantly affected by these data sources.

The Reasons Why White Women Vote Republican—and What to Do About It
White women do not—and likely will not—constitute the progressive base. But many more of them might vote Democratic in the coming elections.

meanwhile, we have the unveiling of the obama portraits:

A new portrait of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley was unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The commissioned portrait of Michelle Obama, by Amy Sherald.

The Hidden Political Message of Michelle Obama’s Portrait


Right. So what is the comparison here? Between Porter-Fitzgerald-Davis and the Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald portraits? I will not be able to make a case adequately, for or against, in these brief notes. But, it is immediately apparent that what we are faced with here is a terrible inversion that cuts in both, and perhaps, all, directions. In the former case, what have we but a highly sophisticated form of resistance to race/gender hegemonic forces enabled by wealthy blacks who, would no doubt have been invited, and excepted, an invitation to the Obama Whitehouse, but who, in their day, chose to use their popular platforms to speak out about a general oppressive condition without the aid of any state power behind them. While latterly, what have we, but a total inversion of their position? Two of the most powerful political people in global politics chose to literally clothe themselves in a political aesthetic of folk art and fashion of the ‘people’ to mark their ‘difference’ from all former ‘styles’ of presidential portraiture. But, when compared to B. Obama’s political record of conservative policies, including bailing out the banks, his massive increase of drone warfare and support of the uber surveillance state, etc. etc.; and michelle’s willingness to retire to her nationally motherly role as gardener, of the nations children, and cheerleader of exercise; what have we here, but camouflage? What have we here but blaxploitation by blacks, reciprocally? Why not dress the pres and the 1st lady in folkart to further their manipulation of power by pulling wool over eyes through ‘popularism’ and craft in which their thoroughgoing similarities to all portraiture before them is erased? Aren’t their portraits simply a great PR subterfuge to actually veil their complicity in the demise of American democracy, along with their complicity in white suprematism?

Isn’t this the standard path of assimilation? The great political achievement of the erasure of difference? In the very guise of difference?



‘sexual harassment’: cole porter channeled through ella fitzgerald to sammy davis jr. – it’s too darn hot!

Heavy Lifting: a new era/form of Spectacle: Debord’s ‘integrated’ variety [Commentaires sur la société du spectacle, éditions Gérard Lebovici, 1988] gone berserk


There can be no doubt that Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy liftoff success, today, is a first step for man into some new era. Just watch the following footage, before you read my following text:

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What follows are a series of screen grabs of that footage, with a debordian commentary that will attempt to suss out the varieties of ‘integration’ it demonstrates. My analysis will be dispassionate; meaning, as is not often understood by non-fundamentalist, marxist analyses of culture, economy, art, society in general; that, while i will not refrain from criticism, i also will not refrain from praise. In a nutshell, such an approach is ‘dialectical’ to that degree; though not beholden to dialectic in any form. Dialectic is too simplistic, as Marx himself came to believe. Just as Heidegger rejected the analytic of Being and Time and turned to poeisis. Just as Nietzsche came to belief that the Apollonian vs the Dionysian was simplistic; and Freud came to believe that Eros vs Thanatos was simplistic. The human race it seems, is either far too complex for dialectical analysis, or, probably more accurately put, too simple. Humans follow very few instincts. Most of them are not very human at all. Most are entirely unconsciously corporeal, animalistic, if you will. Am ‘I’ alpha enough to chase out of my territory the larger than me feral tom cat who has invaded? Might “I”, an alpha woman, do the equivalent? Ok, i won’t pursue that loaded conundrum here, but i do want to raise it.

So, at the outset, let’s forego the cliche sort of interpretation that can only see the ‘phallic’ in a rocket. A rocket is not a cigar. A rocket is the result of a physics driven product design, determined in this case, by an enormous variety of physical determinants, that i won’t recount here because that is not the point of my commentary. But just to put things in perspective, I don’t know of anything more phallic than lipstick. In form, it’s inseparable from the form of a rocket, which women put to their lips daily, multiple times, daily.

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Now that we have cliche’s out of the way, let me summarize the engineering basics of today’s event.

The largest, most powerful rocket ever constructed, with a set of jet engines 3 times greater than than any previous design [27 engines vs 9], which was essentially an assemblage of 3 rockets, not only launched successfully, but each of the 3 rocket units self-guided themselves back to earth after launch and successfully, well, maybe except for one, we don’t know yet, and landed with extraordinary precision at the very centers of their landing pads.

the central [core] rocket that may or may not have successfully landed, was attempting to land on an autonomous ship landing pad in the Atlantic. SpaceX has successfully done that before. So if this one failed, it’s a minor problem.

10 seconds before launch of the Falcon Heavy, the event was entirely controlled by computers.

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the shear technical bravado of this event, is the first of it’s kind since the Apollo program of the 1960s. Which signals something significant about the recycling of history, with difference of course. In the ‘old days’ of the cold war, landing on the moon was a ‘sign’ of power. While today it’s a pragmatic function = because it could lead to new resources to fuel capitalism = mining asteroids, the moon, actually colonizing mars, so also, a new form of colonization = which kim stanley robinson, in the guise of jamesonian marxism, has been an unwitting apologist for. so much for ‘hard scifi’. robinson is the cause of musk because the former gave the latter enough imagination to go for it. whereas, Dick, posed paranoia as defense against such hubris.

in terms of the integrated spectacle, what is most significant, is the audiovisual production of a ‘live’ event. and of course, there is nothing ‘live’ about it. the spectacle is, by techno-definition, a nonliving, constructed series of independent and non-contiguous events, collated, like all film and moving media of any kind, to appear as though it were ‘live’. don’t be fooled by the various forms of ‘countdown’, particularly by the running clock and timeline, which intends to obfuscate the fact of cut-cut-cut amalgamated sequences, indeed, a linear but discontinuous and therefore non-live sequence of the unfolding of the event. in fact, the visualization of the rocket launch, foregrounds the multiplicity of perspectives, defeating it’s other narrative of linarity. it demonstrates rather remarkably, just how impossible 1 point perspective is. but, the narrative of talking heads and other subterfuges, refused to acknowledge this disparity.

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that said, we’re use to that, and this is no different, and an exciting and useful simulation. the sequence above is filmic and astonishing. it’s Phillip K. Dick actualized.

the base, crass, bottom line of this spectacle construction was a sales pitch: for tesla cars – the payload was a ‘cherry red tesla roadster’; for elon musk in general – full demonstration of his alpha techno-strength; for his company SpaceX; to the hipness and cool of his billionaire prowess; all to the tune of bowie’s starman, with the soporific message, ‘don’t panic’.

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this event, it must be remembered, was two days after the other global mega-spectacle: the Superbowl, surely not an accident. winner or loser of that event, musk could rest assured that his event would partake of that euphoric, nationalist event. such is the substrate of the US nationalist unconscious, which with t-rump, is now awakening in its ugliest form. T-rump has committed to putting ‘americans’ on the moon again. without of course assessing the cost to the social health of the country. putting a man on the moon, again, is only a political goal for the economic elite to benefit themselves, through the support of the military and the corporate elite in general. such is the robinson-inspired, crude marxist, fantasy of ‘realism’.

thus, space exploration is allied with colonization, othering, scapegoating, defending the borders. with, supremacy, nationalist, white and the super-rich, like musk. we applaud musk’s virtuosic technological sublime, cheer for it, even as a fraction of the cost of a single rocket might house every homeless american. i happen to know that the total cost of developing the first functional space suit was 20 million USD in 1960 dollars…  I also happen to know that mid-way through the Apollo program, NASA suffered a defeat for funding in Congress because of such a comparative critique, and in response, the then NASA director was fired and replaced by an AD-Man, who developed NASA’s public relations campaigns that have been in effect ever since their budgetary defeat. so NASA is co-directed: by the AD-Man, and, by the head of research and technical direction of the agency. 2 heads are better than one, supposedly. so, why not three rockets rather than one?

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well then… the integrated spectacle is now, as Debord could not have imagined, a so called ‘integration’ of ‘public’ and ‘private’ finance and development, of government-private partnerships, and down that precipitous slope, ‘democracy’, the fantastic illusion of it anyway, has slipped down with increasing acceleration and with T-rump, is nearing it’s bottom, but it hasn’t hit it yet. If 10 is the top of that slope, and 0 the bottom, i’d say were at 2 at best. this is the law of thousands of years of history – the decent to the bottom takes centuries if not millennia, and it often takes an equal time to rise again. As Benjamin once said, and i paraphrase: just because things have been bad for a thousand years doesn’t mean that things will get better anytime soon.

So, back to the integrated spectacle: what, in this Spectacle production has been integrated?

Stardom = Bowie = Starman = payload = tesla cherry red roadster [the car as symbol of americanism] = worship of the wealthy = class conflict without conflict = hollywood = corporate news broadcasting = Superbowl – cheering crowds = liberalism = middleclassism = anti-immigration = barren individualism = libertarianism = xenophobia = fascism = anti-socialism…

yes, that is a singular political construct = ideology = form of consciousness = default regulatory form of social control: = see harkaway’s Gnomon for a critique of how that plays out. [but be prepared for too much divigation]

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yet what is the tax system, as has been said by many, but socialism for the rich? because it’s necessary to be blunt, it’s necessary to state the obvious – public money in the form of taxation has been radically shifted into the pockets of the wealthy, who don’t pay taxes, at the expense of those do pay taxes. which is essentially, the cause of american revolution against the british = taxation without representation. though, representation has never amounted to anything other than the control of the powerful over the powerless, though foucault would disagree, appropriately so = the ‘disempowered’ collude with their masters, and vice versa, in order to maintain some false sense of normalcy, the status quo. as reich put it: the oppressed desire their own oppression.

so, it all comes down to desire… control that, and you control everything. and that is the raison d’etre of advertising, and why billions and trillions are spent on it = google search engine. ‘search and ye shall find what you most desire’…

such is the insanity of this historical moment. and it is nothing less than insane. it’s okay to shit upstream of your water supply, now. not just okay: it’s insisted on. if you don’t shit in your own backyard and water supply, there is something wrong with you. and capitalism uses the entire earth, all it’s oceans, as its upstream water source, as its toilet. more: it’s willing to foul and infect and defile and pollute the well of all humanity. defecating in your most precious recourse, is now politically correct, and if you don’t agree, then you are subversive. and that ideological brace on the brain will not change anytime soon.

demonstration: just try to live a plastic-free life. then imagine going to mexico or india or china or bangladesh. plastic haunts the planet, it’s ubiquitous, and it’s destroying earth.

so, what choice do we have but to support musk’s efforts to get us off our plastic wrapped and impregnated and ocean clogged, planet?

there is one other, at least one other, aspect of today’s falcon heavy launch that needs critique:

p.k. dick achieved! but, what did they do, they sent asimov as part of their ‘human package’ to the aliens… and musk’s roadster… spectacle, not at its worst maybe, but pretty fucking cheesy. great way to represent the human race… how does that represent the 99%, not to mention the 90% of totally impoverished humans. musk’s roadster could not be more offensive as a ‘gift’ to the universe. and it will be up there for a billion years… perfect symbol of humanities hubris and willingness to pollute, even the universe at large. musk’s roadster is nothing but an alpha cat pissing on mars to mark his territory. ‘hey, i was ‘here’ first! so piss off. love, elon. elon has corroborated everything that is the worst possible aspect of technological innovation and capitalism.

alien 1; these earthlings write like shit!
alien 2: yeah, and they still travel by petrol and electric powered cars, how fucking primitive!
alien 3: shall we put them out of their misery? it would be an act of compassion.
alien 68: hold on a minute: i just got a whiff of a human who suggested rewriting that tired and cliched and pathetic falcon heavy broadcast. she/he, not clear, suggested substituting ethiopians for the generic foxnews-like presenters, and suggested that nick harkaway write the script. so, maybe we should hold off on the compassionate extermination plan, at least for a bit. maybe they are not all bad.


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Heavy Lifting: a new era/form of Spectacle: Debord’s ‘integrated’ variety [Commentaires sur la société du spectacle, éditions Gérard Lebovici, 1988] gone berserk


i caught a local bus up 65th to 58th, directionality is governed here by odd vs even. 58th is just one block from the center of the meridian universe, the main zocalo. first bus i’ve taken, but decided to because i was running late, and because it was pretty hot, and because i was carrying a backpack heavy enough to make me sweat enough to be unbearable upon arrival at L’s place… 🙂


anyway, soon after arriving in decent enough aromatic shape, we caught a first class air conditioned bus to Progresso, passing the 30 minute interval looking at photos of her children, grandchildren with all the comentaria of an Untypical abuela…. [grandmother]… probably as with any lacanian, the analysis never ceases… which might be unbearable, but not with L. it’s narratively always compelling and full of deeply felt observations and humor. it’s making me believe that lacan was made for latin american, and no where else, because only here is the psyche mature and robust enough to test his overly analytic methods, and put to a real test…


after arriving at the progresso bus station, we caught a small van-taxi to the house of her UNAM biologists friends, put our backpacks down in our respective rooms shown to us by the young yucatecan caretaker waiting for us. after which, we immediately almost ran directly to the shore of the gulf of mexico! where we kicked off our shoes and dug our bare feet into the white sand and breathed and breathed in the warm salt air driven by a not unseasonably unsizable breeze. so we sat in the sand amongst the seaweed debris and breathed, and did little else for awhile, not much at all, no not much else, for awhile.


after that there was a fabulously boring interval of several hours staring into the minimalist seascape while we settled in and, after that, strode with our new large, lung sea air filled steps back to the center of Progresso to get some lunch, ostensibly, but, really, only after the salt ocean air, only because we couldn’t stay still.


we did after a getting lost in the grid for a few long blocks find L’s fav ceviche restaurant, Sol y Mare, and partook and indeed, it was inexpressibly fined tuned to the finest of palettes.


and then well… and then well… a long walk back along the gentle waves breaking regularly against the very, very slowly eroding northern caribbean along a narrow strip of earth that forms the edge of the yucatan peninsular as it sits in creamy emerald, blue-white seas, throwing itself languidly with bleached crustacean shells against its millennially abrasive shores, and, in the constant, unbreakable sonic rhythms  of waves replenishing every constancy upon which any chance depends.




my point being that – in the midst of it all, L remarkably solved, in person, a tense situation between a ‘local german painter of 40’ years here, and, the 16 year old son of his single mother next door, lover neighbor who had begun to steel from him when he was in the shower…


ralf and i got to talk while L and the mother of the thief were working through things. was a period of moments that were very interesting in too many ways to encapsulate easily. L discovered for the first time that the mother had been ralf’s lover for many years, had supported her financially, but had recently refused to have sex with him because he refused to marry her… the upshot was that they decided to place the thief in a program in merida for ‘wayward’ boys for 3 months.


we got on, ralf and me. after a while, as he began to remember his english, it came back full throttle, which was a relief for me as his german-spanish mix was at times entirely opaque to me…


turns out he fled east germany, dessau, 50 years ago… spent time in NYC, then by chance operations ended up in progresso…well, actually further south in a small village called chixulub.


he and i saw eye to pen, or something like that. 🙂 between him and me and L, we had a bar hold none highly sophisticated conversation about what matters…


so, convergences with different histories and temporalities and raison d’être seem to constitute something of a SEAM, here.


and the next day, we went for dinner at ralf’s house in chixulub; we brought the two fish L had cooked earlier that we purchased from julio at the emerald, blue-white sea. it was an amazing struggle to watch him and his 14 year old helper drag a huge net from far from shore – it took more than two hours… and all to capture 4 sellable fish, which they there and then gutted and scaled and strung on yellow chord for us for a mere 5 USD. ralf served us fabulous german bread from a german bakery in merida that i will become a regular customer.


ralf has a fabulous house and studio in chixulub on a very large plot of land. the plot in front is so large and so tree-filled that the house is invisible from the street; and the plot behind the house is so large and tree-filled that the studio is invisible from the house. he’s definitely an obsessive intellectual, something of a hermit, absolutely devoted to his painting no matter whether he shows or sells his work, and he does to both to some degree; and to his vast library, from which all evening he rifled through to read us passages from his favorite cultural historians and philosophers. he has a library i will attempt to borrow from… the interiors of both house and studio wonderfully reflect the man – well ordered yet not fastidious, and somehow organically messy with a kind of contained intentionality, but warm and humorous and fully lived in, with nothing of the cold, hotel-like furniture and arrangement i’ve seen in other houses here. he served us a very good chilean cabernet and later, a fabulous, frozen tequila as we watch a football match – mexico vs bosnia-herzogovina. as will everything he does, he had a scholarly knowledge of the teams and kept up an informative and often hilarious commentary about the players and the play. as i’m learning, L soon faded as she does after 9pm so we left at half-time and caught the bus/van back to the main bus terminal in progressive, and walked in the balmy night air about a mile and half to the biologists’ house. the driver was apparently hilarious, keeping up a dialogue that had L in stitches the entire way, part of which apparently, was conducted in mayan. barely a sentence goes by without L cracking some kind of joke. and she has a very subversive, wicked sense of humor! the mayan driver was no doubt her equal… and though i understood very, very little, i too was in stitches simply by contagion.


we rose at 5 to see the blood blue supermoon which wasn’t at its peak, but it made L incredibly happy to see it. and now, thanks to her stories, the moon is for me a scifi camera! we went back to sleep, then, she cooked me breakfast, scrambled eggs with lots of tomato and tortillas, then walked to the bus station and returned to merida.


when i got back to the house, los dos gatos were waiting for me, crying to be fed after my two day absence. one can’t find cat sitters here… they are beginning to figure out that they have a bowl each… otherwise, it’s two heads per bowl…