Sunday, August 24, 2008

The olympics are over. Lyric took home the gold medal in hula hoop and jump rope. We listened to Peter Paul and Mary sing Salvador; Stayed up late and ate dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. Talked the politics of theology. Laughed at manic children eating grapes. Discussed the good life and the deoxygenated risks of Wal-mart. Played guitar, fetched mountain water. Cooked vegetables and pig sausage and watched the trees eat up the smoke and the slow time. Here are some related pictures.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Like some rolling stones

Jennifer and I sprawled out on an oak orange Guatemalan blanket under a star-studded sky and silent trees and listened to Bob Dylan bard his way through 45 or so years of mumbles and rhymes and strategic nonchalance fitted to his master plan for individual style in the fast disappearing American world. Dylan was rugged and raspy a real self made former Zimmerman. I’ve thought of him as America’s poet – a laureate to the masses.

With our backs pressed to the earth, we held each others’ hands and laughed at the fumes and gas that our neighbors on the blankets next to us emitted as if global warming is cool. “His voice sounds like Satan,” some divorced but dating dads said. “Some people say he’s a pro-Israel activist, some people say he’s pro-Buddhist and pro-gay – I’m all those things so I identify with him completely,” piped in the corpulent Upper West Side JewBu (Jewish Buddhist) ensconced in a nearby fold-up chair. Referring to his eccentric differance (so to say), two NYU students farting to our right said, “He probably only eats Gerber baby food.” (“I never give in to the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult. That would be too ridiculous.” Jacques Derrida)

Like Cartier-Bresson’s conductor in a sinister black hat, Dylan sent Prospect Park through fits of nostalgia and wonderment. We all wanted the old songs – a revisit of Highway 61, but true to form, Dylan sang the songs none of us knew. “He sings for himself,” Jennifer informed me. He sang without words – just mumbles. And we adored him for it. Too cheap for the $50 dollar tickets inside the fence, we climbed poles and sighted him down with binoculars meant for birds just to see how he was enjoying himself. Our chief concern: was he having a good time? He seemed at ease – bopping around with his guitar rhyming out of the corner of his mouth – putting the carnival back into Bakhtin (so to say). We liked it– kicking around on a blanket under trees in a park full of New Yorkers all moving at their own small speeds to music of the moment is one thing I’ll miss when we’re not here: moving on.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Zhang Yimou
The grand fiction of the opening ceremony of the Olympics took my breath away and made me cry. It wasn’t the theatrics, the pyrotechnics, the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon suspended animation – it was the raw true belief. Watch the faces of those dancers as they swirl across their digital canvas making 3000 years of Chinese historical fiction real in the present. The key moment is the 56 exotic Children carting the red and four yellow stars across the Bird’s Nest: The little Uyghur in the lead on the far left holding hands with the Tibetan beside him while a nine year old Beijinger in pigtails lifts from her chest the Hymn for My Country about eternal friendship and unity/harmony. The 56 minorities hand off the flag to People’s Liberation Army troopers who reverence it with well-practiced precision – as the flag searches the sky for air the last soldier lets it slips through his longing fingers up and away into the natural world of wind and water.
Despite the Lang Lang-esque overindulgence of Zhang Yimou’s latest masterpiece – the fakery and saturation topped by a crunchy frosting of auspicious numerical astrology – the systematics of living breathing Chinese enacting and projecting their Chinese selves into the world at large was stunning and daunting. Impossible to ignore, it evokes an emotional response difficult to qualify. The sheer scale of it, the multiplex geometry of people making an imagined community come to life as a nation. This is the world Chinese people live in or at least want; we should watch out for the One World One Dream because they might just make it come true for you and me too. Like they sang towards the end there at the top of the spinning globe Wo he ni yi jia – you and me are one family. And at that moment I don’t think there was a dry Chinese eye in Beijing – it’s a dream finally come true.
Watch the ceremony here.