Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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10,000 Revisions

Open Mike 2

I pray today is a day of no wasted time. Exactly none. I’ve been successful so far though it is only five minutes past seven in the morning. In the morning recliner I was reading the poems — a few — of Pablo Neruda from a library book of his complete works. Mostly I was reading from the lengthy introduction. From there, on the second cup of coffee, I moved on to breakfast recipes in the Tassajara Recipe book, which arrived earlier in the week via Ebay and set me back only four dollars and some cents including shipping. I took a little time to ponder over five photos of myself the resident Papaccino’s coffee shop photographer slipped me in an envelope from a local print shop as I made my way back to my seat from the microphone in the corner of the room. Two months ago I could not have imagined reading anything — a recipe, a prayer, some passage from one of Dr. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing books, anything — in front of people, having developed (I remember distinctly) a variety of panic disorder reading in front of a group of men in a brightly lit basement room in a church on Medford Ave in Somerville, MA — all with hyper-ventilations and heart interruptions and fear of not catching a new breath — ever again — meaning I have refused to read in public for more than ten years.

This morning
Gray with misunderstandings
And surrenders
Distractions of the highest order,
Golden,
Enticing in their ambiance
Welcome turnaways from
That hungry child
In the public school door.
She’s invisible.

But this was my fourth appearance up at the open mike, after one initial week of panic and refusal, and some neighborhood guy was handing me pictures of me. By the way, I look old though I can happily and honestly report I feel within my mind and spirit and soul quite the opposite, even in a world of aching knees and prescribed cholesterol medication.

Last night I read two poems from Minor Revelations and one from my second book of poetry — Dictation from the Backyard. I finished, placing my hands on the provided metal reading stand to keep the shaking less visible, with a poem I’d written only yesterday morning, I felt compelled to read it even if it didn’t feel in it’s final state — kind of like how I feel about myself….not my final state, not yet. Still, the poem is titled 10,000 Revisions, which could or could not be some metaphor for my own transformations.

Someone yelled out, after my first poem, “Did you write that?” Someone else approached me when the open mike thing was over and said he wanted to buy a copy of my book. I said I’d bring one next week. Meaning I can’t be wasting any time…..anytime.

I’ve followed you to the carnival,
Followed into the funhouse,
All it’s laughable distortions.
But see,
Here,
I hold a mirror
True in its reflection
Taken from atop the girl’s
Second-hand dresser,
A birthday gift some year back
I’ve watched her hold it
In one hand
Brush her hair with the other, and
Now I’ve borrowed it
As if it is a breaker
To be snapped closed
And cut through
The tripped darkness,
Which is intentional
And obligates me
To flip the switch.
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A Laugh and A Tear

 

Hunter 1

Hunter Thompson is one of my favorite authors. These are my Dr. Hunter S Thompson books, most of which I’ve owned for a very long time, as evident by the covers, in this case by which you can judge the book.

I’ve posted about Hunter Thompson here in the past, and an opportunity I had one night on a cross-country airplane to hang out and talk with him. You can search my past posts for “Hunter and Me” and read about it there. This brief post speaks to something else.

Recently I picked up and began reading again “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“. You can see the bookmark there, about halfway through. Back a ways, in Part One of the book, is a passage I’ve always considered my favorite of his — among so many favorites. I’m going to quote it here in its entirety.

“My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe 40 nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L.L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket…booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end…but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was. No doubt at all about that.

“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda…You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.

“And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

For me that is beautiful writing, and I feel this passage deep in my bones, the certainty that we had something then that we have no longer. What? Righteous belief? Pure hope?Universal love? Musical and colorful joy?   “Those days are gone forever”, Steely Dan sing in ‘Pretzel Logic’, “over a long time ago.”

I got to meet Hunter Thompson and talk for some 90 minutes in the back of a plane due to my most fortuitous entanglements with two men named Bob Zimmerman and Dr. Doug Martin. That’s explained in the previous post.  Sadly Bob and Doug and Hunter are no longer with us on our tattered planet, and its the planet’s great loss – and certainly mine.

Bob gave me a present back in 2006, the copy of “Hey Rube” up in the picture on the middle left. Hunter was one of the ways we connected – along with Doug – in what we considered “the main vein”. Plugged in. Turned on. With it. Bushel-full of personal faults (especially me) or not. Bob signed the book in his only-Bob way.

Hunter 2

Only way to be.


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Fear and Hoping From the Basement

The stars were out shining over Portland last night. The Red Sox have by magic Cou3gFLUIAAUrPistaved off, for the day, an increasing sense of fear and loathing, just another summer past-time those of us in The Nation know well. Today’s the end of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline and it’s hard to say which way the kids in Red Sox, and their bosses, will go. Buy? Sell? Punt? We shall see.

20160722_082418_HDRThis post marks the beginning of a new effort from me in that part of my world defined as blogging. I feel done, I felt it very strongly in the recliner this morning, with political posts and long examinations of life in the big city, yes the big planet, and even those earlier blogging tales of drunkenness and serious stupidity and the slow climb back to respectability (!), as such, and everything else that’s previously appeared in this verbial cyber spot. It’s my intention from here on out to offer up small tidbits of this and that, anything that I believe helps to move every reader in the direction of saving the planet. Which, by the way, will be a call sign, so to speak, for me, here out – #savetheplanet .

So, if you are follower of this blog or a noticer of its appearance on some social site like Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps a member of my small but loyal email community, I offer, going forward, freebies and suggestions and true glimpses into genius and wonder and abundance. Ways in which we gets to love each other, better than yesterday.  Offered from way over here.

What with it being a significant day in baseball, I suggest taking a few minutes to watch this:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwB7fRI-jp8      Take a dip in magic waters.

I’m grateful for Ted Talks and I hope you are too. There is something sweet about giving people a voice, different and varied people, with lots of worthy things to say. This blog will feature at least one engaging Ted Talk every week. They’re generally less than 19 minutes, sometimes much less than that. I truly hope you’ll invest a small slice of time, and maybe be nudged just a little bit toward wonder. Here’s this week’s :  www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box

I’m a big J.J. Abrams fan, and a favorite movie is the dramatically underappreciated and little noticed “Super 8”. What a blessing to slip into childhood again, for a little while. Here’s just a quick peek:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1e4MT5VhZo

The title of this post – and it’s going to be the same title every week from now on – is blondie-s-pizzaa love letter, in a way, to the work of one of my favorite authors, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I got to see him speak at Harvard University and again, 3000 miles away, at UC Berkeley. In fact, following that adventure – wild and crazy wonderful with my friend and mentor Dr. Doug Martin and a weekend at the  Durant Hotel, including my first ever visit to Blondies Pizza on a 1:00 a.m. roll down Durant chasing Doug in his motorized chair – it was after all that I found myself on the same flight with Dr. Thompson traveling from San Francisco to Chicago and, screwing up enough courage to introduce myself, had the great fortune to spend about an hour and a half chatting with the Gonzo man. That story can be found on a previous post in this very same blog page (“Hunter and Me”). For now, here’s just a smidge of the good Doctor’s words, a quite famous passage in fact:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=MivwinnMKhI Drawings Feb 22 001

Art for the week:

And now for a musical interlude, this week’s way cool song, a mix of music, art, and cursing:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejmE-F3EJyQ    Fun lyrics, wicked guitars.

Today, August 1, turns out to be, among many things, Herman Melville’s birthday. It also turns out that he bought a farm in The Berkshires at the western edge of my home state Massachusetts. The wonderful on-line magazine “Brain Pickings” published an article about him today, and a few inches down is a paragraph in which Melville describes his daily routine on the farm. It’s worth reading:  www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/30/herman-melville-daily-routine/ 

 Back next week. Hope the new format works for you.

#savetheplanet


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Hunter and Me

 

There are Hunter 2eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is called “Hunter and Me”.

This is a story involving my old friend Dr. Doug Martin. It also involves Bob Zimmerman, my other old friend. I wrote about them in a previous blog – “67blondies”. They’re back.

I was living in a third floor apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1984. You had to climb up wooden stairs outside the back of the house to get to my place. I wrote about this apartment, and my phone on the wall, in another blog – “One Friday Night”. I was working as an outreach counselor with teenagers for the Drug and Alcohol Resource Program in Stoneham, about seven miles north, and I had stayed away from any alcohol or drugs for about a year and a half. I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a girlfriend, I had an old used car, I had started collecting some actual possessions, certainly more than the two trash bags of items in my friend Bob Hallett’s cellar a town over that I could claim the day I said “if I booze, I lose, so I’m done”. Overall I was pretty happy. This is a fairly complete summation of my life back at the beginning of October in 1984 when the phone rang.

Doug was calling from Los Angeles. “Bud, Hunter Thompson is speaking at Berkeley. We must attend, the universe demands it. Saying no is not an option.” I explained in a previous blog that Doug lived much of his life in a wheelchair, the result of polio contracted when he was six years old, a year before the vaccine was discovered. I had met Doug out in LA on the first of a number of east/west journeys and adventures, and had morphed into his attendant at times, carrying him in and out of cabs and airplanes, putting him in his electrified wheelchair, setting up and turning on his breathing equipment at bedtime. Doug was well respected in disability services circles in California and I had traveled with him a few times around the state when he was attending commission meetings. And once to Washington DC. Now Doug was telling me that he had a State Disability Commission meeting in Oakland at the end of October and he was going to get the State of California to pay for a plane ticket for me roundtrip from Boston to LA so I could then fly with him to Oakland and serve as his attendant during the conference, and after, when we would stay the weekend and see Dr. Hunter Thompson speak at Berkeley. Doug was right. Saying “no” wasn’t an option.

So I put in for vacation, flew out to LA the last week in October – Doug and an attendant picking me up at LAX, then Doug’s parents bringing us back to LAX the next day for the flight to Oakland, where we stayed at the Sheraton out near the airport where the conference was being held, and then transferred over to the Durant Hotel in Berkeley, literally a stone’s throw from the campus. It was another memorable adventure with Doug, and Bob, who came over from San Francisco to hang out with us. Halloween was a Wednesday that year, and we ended up at a costumed Halloween party in Berkeley with about 20 people, Bob and I the only ones not in wheelchairs. Then on the Saturday night three days later the three of us rolled and strolled over to Cal Berkeley and watched and listened to the Hunter Thompson show. It was great. The next day Doug had planned for someone else to fly with him back to LA, and after goodbyes all around they dropped me at the San Francisco airport and I boarded my plane for the flight back to Boston.

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