Here & Now, Art, Bitter Melon Bindery, Sam Gilliam, Beili Liu, LindaLay, Kate Bush, Postmodern Jukebox, Billy Strings.
HERE & NOW
This New Year’s Eve just feels like a time to rest and chill. I had planned to attend the bell-ringing ceremony at the Japanese Buddhist Temple in Salinas, but the heavy rain and lack of transportation put an end to that idea.
Instead, I got lost in the rabbit-hole of history, reading documentation from Congressional Hearings on Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor investigation, circa 1933–1936 (about the Salinas Lettuce Strikes); this was for my other newsletter, the Commonwealthcafe. I almost wish I hadn’t gone there, though. It’s not a pretty story, whichever side you take.
So what was I saying? Right. Rest and chill. For a couple days, anyway.
I was born in the year of the Water Rabbit, and 2023 is my year, according to Chinese zodiac. So, Happy New Year!
Social media note: I removed myself from the SFBA.social instance on Mastodon because it’s getting too big. You can now find me as @jeanevergreen on MontereyBay.social which is a bit more chill, and I enjoy the local vibe.
A few things I look forward to doing this year:
Carving out more time in my day for my personal projects;
Saying “no thank you” more often;
Walking more, biking more. I’ve already noticed some improvement in my well-being from the small increase in walking I’ve been doing, and I want to keep that going;
Meditation—not for the sake of “enlightenment” (I’ve pretty much given up on that)but for focus and time to just be.
Speaking of time, I now have a watch, thanks to my son. It’s not fancy. It’s just a budget Timex watch. But the point is, it’s not digital. It has hands that move around an analog dial and point to numbers that mark hours and minutes. It has a skinny little red minute hand. And, most importantly—it ticks! I needed that.
What are you hoping for in 2023?
I made another small artist book, as yet untitled. I had no idea what it was going to be about, but it evolved into a collection of (I think?) made-up sea creatures and plants:
One day when I was in high school, I made myself a small “artist book” although I didn’t have a name for it then. It consisted of a series of odd, surreal images and cut-out shapes that may or may not have been connected. I remember thinking something like, “yeah, I wanna be an artist and make art books like this.” Well, I made one other book like that in college, and then stopped—until last year. That’s a long time!
I like the idea of a visual narrative, a series of drawings that may not have a clearcut connection or storyline; there is continuum of sorts.
As a Filipina born in the United States and raised in one area of Central California, I did not directly experience the kind of diasporic dislocation that my parents carried with them. But I do think that I received from them and still carry the burden of their dreams, which are entangled, emotionally, with colonial prescriptives about behavior, attitude, productivity, and promises of some reward, usually monetary. Somehow, these little books help me work through that, to a place where things are quiet, and I can let something else emerge. I suppose it’s a healing process.
Making small, blank, accordion-fold sketchbooks allow me to extend that practice into providing quiet, creative space for others, too.
ART & CULTURE LINKS
Bitter Melon Bindery; a restful bookmaking process—no narrative, just the sound of book making and binding by hand:
R. I. P. artist Sam Gilliam. You helped us escape the frame: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/sam-gilliam-1170
Initially what drew me to Beili Liu’s work is the fact that my mother was a seamstress. I like how Liu’s sewing projects, her “simple and persistent actions,” lead us to think about how we connect with others, including nonhuman others, and how such acts, however small, can help to heal.
Check out LindaLay’s Winter Newsletter. And don’t forget to breathe! She, too, is thinking about time and the change of seasons. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of her project involving witchcraft. You can learn more about LindaLay in Issue #68 of Eulipion Outpost.
Writer Marianne Villanueva mentioned the novel Wuthering Heights the other day on Facebook, wondering if perhaps there might be a punk song for the character Kathy. Her question led me and another friend to post a couple of Kate Bush songs—not exactly punk, but of course, there was her song “Wuthering Heights.”
And I posted “Running Up That Hill” (1985) which has had a huge comeback since its appearance on Stranger Things. While the song isn’t specifically related to Wuthering Heights, whenever I hear it, I always imagine Heathcliff and Kathy exchanging identities as they run up that hill above the moors.
I think of Bush as a literary and “speculative” songwriter/performer, and “Cloudbusting” is an example (also featuring actor Donald Sutherland):
Postmodern Jukebox does a great cover of “Running Up That Hill” featuring Sweet Megg (and who is that sax man?):
I’m already thinking of summer. My dad played guitar and he would’ve adored this version of “Summertime.”Billy Strings (L) and Marcus King (R), “Summertime.”
See you next year! Please feel free to share this post. I’ll get back to featuring artists answering the Six Questions next year (with perhaps occasional changes to the questions).
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Actually, meditation has led me to some pretty amazing insights and changes in perspective, but my statement refers to letting go of enlightenment as a goal. I no longer believe it should be an aim of meditation.
“Summertime” songwriters: Ira Gershwin / George Gershwin / Dubose Heyward / Dorothy Hewyward
Yay for meditation as an end in and of itself! I'm working on mindfulness and loving kindness meditation as I wade through the grief of losing Jeff. I'm trying to say "Yes" more and working on being the source of my own joy.
Staying home was the right call: driving between Monterey and Salinas in a winter storm is hazardous.