Here and Now, Letters, Old Capitol Books (Poetry Fest), Art, Preserving Old Letters, Telegrams, Bong Peñera, Nanette Inventor, Django Reinhardt and Friends, and Hiromi Uehara.
HERE AND NOW
I’ve linked my domain over to my new Gator site—which, I stress, is different from HostGator, although somehow related; they both have exactly the same logo. It’s all a bit confusing, though, since HostGator also has its own website builder, which costs slightly more than the Gator site.
Anyway, https://jeanvengua.com is up, albeit I still have some tinkering to do. I think the website editor is a bit less intuitive than the reviews and tutorials claim, but I think I said the same, first about Wordpress.com and then Wordpress.org, back in the day. So, I’ll give this a try.
A subscriber sent me a really nice message in response to my latest (and also a few other) Eulipion Outpost issues, which brought to my attention that at least some of my readers are older women encountering the reality of “aging,” but who—rather than pretending it’s not happening—are engaging with it creatively. For me “older” encompasses both youth (that is, relative “inexperience”) and age (“experience”). It’s easy to get in trouble with these categories. I don’t buy the idea that “wisdom” accompanies aging—like somehow as you get older you start becoming the “wisdom” muse. Because I know plenty of older people who are NOT wise. You know what I mean?
In the Philippines, there is a tradition called “mano po,” where younger people come up to oldsters (sometimes lining up, as if to kiss the pope’s hand); they are instructed to respectfully take your hand and lay it on their forehead for a blessing (usually at the prompt of a well-meaning parent). I understand tradition, etc. But honey, I am no saint.
With help from my partner, I finally started scanning and cataloging my parents’ letters. We borrowed a scanner from a friend. It’s a tedious process, and we’ve only done half a dozen; yet, just getting started feels significant. Reading through those first few letters brings home to me the fact that my mom’s immigration to the U.S. just after WWII was an anxiety producing process, just as much for my father—writing to her from aboard a merchant marine ship—as it was for my mother. Without our 21st century’s instant communication devices, that anxiety was long-lasting, punctuated by letters and the occasional telegram. And it didn’t stop with her arrival in San Francisco. I caught the phrase “RCA station” and realized how important telegrams were, at that time.
Also, my inability to fully understand Tagalog and other Philippine languages (my parents made a concerted effort to make sure I learned only English) creates a minor roadblock, which, hopefully I can remedy with help from cousins and friends who are better versed in the languages.
The issue of how and what I’m going to write about these letters keeps popping up in my mind, but—while I continue to convert the letters into digital files—I’m trying to be patient with myself, have faith in the process, my sense of curiosity, and my own writing abilities.
If you have a stack of old letters you’d like to keep, don’t store them inside their envelopes. Scan them (soon) so that you have digital files. Letters are fragile and degrade over time, especially if you are handling them a lot; they can also be lost or stolen. In the LINKS section, below, I’ve included tips on how to care for the letters, and also how to write about them.
I'd just like to give a plug for the Monterey Poetry Festival, coming up soon at Old Capitol Books in Monterey. Great line-up of poets including the inaugural Poet Laureate of Monterey County, Daniel B Summerhill. Be there April 8, 9, and 10.
And while you’re at it, check out the Boukra Collective’s Poetry Writing Workshop tomorrow, also at Old Capitol Books: Sunday 3 April, 7pm-9pm. Poetry writing workshop for all levels. $10 suggested donation. Unticketed. Just drop in!
An experiment/work-in-progress. That’s all…
Creating a Memoir from Old Family Letters and Photos (Laura Hildreth in Publimetry)
A video promoting telegram and telephone service in 1956 (about 5 min., from MyFootage.com):
All kinds of jazz, retro and not so retro:
Cool, samba-style jazz from the Philippines: Bong Peñera’s “Sa Dako Pa Roon”:
More coolness: Bong Peñera performing with Nanette Inventor singing “Body and Soul,”1980:
Whenever I hear a recording of Django Reinhardt, or hear someone play his songs, I think of my dad’s guitar playing; not that he was ever as good as Django, but his rhythmic style of playing was definitely inspired by Django’s “jazz manouche” (less frequently called “gypsy swing,” these days).
Homage to Django Reinhardt filmed in 1960 (Jazz Memories n°16 "hommage à django reinhardt" Présentation Simon Copans, Maurice Culaz, Charles Delaunay):
The real deal: Django Reinhardt with Stephane Grappelli and the quintet of the Hot Club of France (1945):
Holy moly, this woman can play, and so can the other members of her trio. Hiromi Uehara “Dancando No Paraiso”; Jazz à Vienne 2011 (from Zycopolis):
Unbelievably I seem to be finishing this issue up before midnight. No pumpkins this evening. If you liked this issue, please feel free to share!
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