"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

30 August 2011

The Gourds, "Country Love"

Cook up some sweet potatoes and tomorrow night
We’ll watch the stars dancing with the satellite

Head in the clouds.

... really in the clouds.

The morning commute.

Head in the clouds.

Sunrise over Appleton.


Looking to do something a little different on Labor Day? Why not join about 40,000 friends for a 5-mile hike across the Mackinac Bridge?

If you've never walked the Mighty Mac, it's something that I would urge you to try if you're able. You'll get to see up close the immense structure that has stood over the Straits of Mackinac for more than 50 years, as emblematic of Michigan as the Golden Gate is of San Francisco or Tower Bridge in London.

Read the rest at the Detroit Free Press.

Don't miss the Mackinac Bridge Authority's site, here.

29 August 2011


On this date in 1944, American troops marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris liberating the French capital from Nazi control.

Here's a wonderful account of Ernest Hemingway's August 1944 liberation of the bar at the Paris Ritz Hotel.

Marlene Dietrich, "Lili Marlene"


Honoring those who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.




The Great Square of Pegasus sparkles over your eastern horizon at early to mid evening. For some idea of the Great Square’s size, extend your hand an arm length from your eye. You’ll see that any two Great Square stars are farther apart than the width of your hand.

The Square of Pegasus is a great jumping off point for finding the famous Andromeda galaxy, also known to astronomers as M31. As seen from mid-northern latitudes, the Square of Pegasus looks like a baseball diamond whenever it resides in the eastern sky. Imagine the farthest star to the left – Alpheratz – as the third-base star. A line drawn from the first-base star through Alpheratz points in the general direction of the Andromeda galaxy.

There's more at EarthSky.


You've gotta live life when it's there in front of you.

27 August 2011


Freight Train beat the Twins 6-4 to get his 20th win.

Making his 29th start, Verlander was the first pitcher to record 20 wins before the end of August since Curt Schilling did so in 2002 with the D-backs. Verlander is the fifth pitcher to reach the 20-win mark in August over the past 20 years, joining Roger Clemens (1997), John Smoltz ('96) and Jack McDowell ('93).

All but Schilling won the Cy Young Award at the end of their respective seasons

Read the rest at Detroit Tigers.


For my sister, who is going to ride out a hurricane tonight with her fishes at the Virginia Aquarium, 2,000 feet from the shore of the Atlantic.

David Francey, "All Lights Burning Bright"

Keep the lights, and yourself, burning bright, Buff! Love you.

26 August 2011


The first hints of the changing of the seasons can now be seen in the predawn and dawn sky: Orion the Hunter and Sirius the Dog Star. The very noticeable constellation Orion the Hunter rises before dawn at this time of year, and Sirius follows Orion into the sky at or close to dawn. Orion will become visible in the evening by winter, but presently the Hunter lords over the southeastern sky at dawn’s first light.

Read the rest at EarthSky.

Jethro Tull, "Orion"

Orion, let's sip the heaven's heady wine ...

25 August 2011


Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don’t; It is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons … Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

- Vaclav Havel

Roger Hodgson, "Quietest Moments"

Wisdom ...


Military dogs make you smile because they seem to know they’ve won the dog life lottery. They’ve got everything a dog could want, including someone to play with every day, plenty of chow, exercise, fun things to do, other dogs to play with, and a great dental plan. Nobody ever beats them or ties them to trees. They get constant training—and tons of action—and they are allowed to engage their feral side by practicing attacking people or really attacking people. Often they get to play “hide and seek,” and then get to attack the person they find. Their reward for ripping off someone’s arm is a big hug.

These pups get to travel the world and smell new things, and never have to worry about heartworms, being alone all day when Mom and Dad go to work and the kids go to school, or about being hunted by a bigger dog or a tiger. Their handler has an M4 rifle and will enthusiastically shoot any threat to his buddy.

That’s got to be dog heaven (not to mention a better life than many people have), and it explains their constant “doggie” smiles.

Read (and appreciate) the rest at Michael Yon Online.

Thanks, Execupundit.


A path through the forest
is merely where the trees aren’t:
a clearing or absence.
What is it? Where is it?
These are not exactly the right questions;
it is an absence in space
that is also the way you are going.
It is surrounded by trees;
if it had a nature, that would be it:
the stuff all around it that touches
and shapes the emptiness within it.
But that’s where you move, isn’t it?
That’s how and where you go.
It is a useful emptiness, an effective absence.
You’ve never left it, even if you think you have,
and everything you’ve seen, you’ve seen from it.
I know it because here I am.

- Crispin Sartwell


many wings move air
geese passing low overhead
above open book


On this date in 1609, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his first telescope to the Venetian Senate in Padua. He didn't invent the telescope -- credit for that goes to a Dutch astronomer, Hans Lipperhey, who had demonstrated one the previous year -- but he heard about it, and by trial and error he figured out how it was made. Galileo greatly improved on the design and made it variable-focus. Venice was known for the quality of its glass craftsmanship, and Galileo bought lenses from spectacle-makers at first, but soon taught himself the art of glass grinding. The telescope he presented to the senate could magnify images to eight times the naked eye, and by the fall, he was looking at celestial bodies through a 20-power telescope. By the following January, he had discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter. The Senate was so impressed with his invention that they gave him lifetime tenure at the University of Padua and doubled his salary.

Thank you, Writer's Almanac.

Happy Birthday, National Park Service.

The National Park Service was created on this date in 1916 "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Breaking news ... The National Park Service has engaged an engineering firm with extensive experience in earthquake damage assessment and repair to further assess the [Washington] Monument after an inspection today uncovered additional cracks in the pyramidion, or uppermost section of the structure.

Read the rest at The National Park Service.

What a great logo.


Hill House, Saginaw, Michigan

The issue over whether or not to invest in a city’s historic district is not a matter of ideology: tender-hearted dreamers vs. level-headed penny-pinchers. On the contrary, historic preservation and investing in a city’s key cultural resources is often one of the most pragmatic financial moves a municipality can make, especially when facing population decline and right-sizing.

Read the rest at PreservationNation.


Read it.


Brassaï, Brouillard Avenue de L’Observatoire. Paris, 1934

I need, therefore I imagine.
- Carlos Fuentes

Thank you, Facie Populi.


End of Summer

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.

Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

- Stanley Kunitz

Thank you, Cultural Offering.

24 August 2011


I love a truck. I learned to drive in a truck. I don’t mean a shiny new leather and chrome king cab with ac and satellite radio. I’m talking about a FARM truck. A little rusty and a lot dusty and smellin’ sweet and funky -- like hay -- dogs rolled in hay. You have to hand crank the window up and down and it squeaks when you do. There’s play in the steering and bounce in the ride ... and better hadn’t figure on the brakes to slow you down. You need shifting skills. You know -- an artful orchestration of the clutch and gearshift.

Whoa 'er down an' stop by Wanderations fer the rest ...


Muller, Girona, 1940

If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?

- G.K. Chesterton

23 August 2011


Viktoria Mullova's rural origins in Ukraine are reflected in this eclectic album, which combines elements of classical music and jazz and reflects the phenomenal influence that the gypsies have had on swathes of music in the 20th century. This is music that is blissfully free from the misleading shackles of genre.

All the music in this eclectic programme reflects the phenomenal influence of gypsy music on both classical and jazz music in the 20th century – even when wearing smart ‘classical’ clothes, the music of the gypsies cannot disguise its honesty, directness and the heart beating inside the clothes.

Read the rest Mullova's site ... here.

Viktoria Mullova and the Matthew Barley Ensemble, making their new CD, The Peasant Girl ...

Viktoria Mullova, "Bi Lovengo"


Adams, Forest Floor, 1950


I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees

- Wendell Berry

22 August 2011


This evening I noticed it.

Don't miss this gem from Cultural Offering.


Moxie, age 13, Winthrop, Mass.

She arrived at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11 and began working the next morning. Though she is trained to find survivors, she identified six bodies and many body parts during the eight days she worked there. Since her owner retired her at age 7, she has hunted and spent time on the waterfront.

See the rest at The New York Times Magazine.


Most of Sibelius's music was designed to be part of a public art, aimed at large audiences. But unlike Mahler, Sibelius confronted the Wagnerian interplay between language and music by shifting the emphasis away from the literary and emancipating music from language. His work is strikingly architectural, rather than paralleling in music the syntax, semantics, and grammar of language. It is concerned primarily with large forms and spaces, rather than melodic and harmonic variation and dialogue, much less outright literary inspiration.

By circumventing the musical connection to language, the literary, and the dramatic, Sibelius found a way to musically alter our perception of time. There is a magical slowness and simplicity in Sibelius out of which emerges a distinct sound and stark, alluring beauty. Music is allied with nature. For Sibelius, aggregate sounds—as much as melodies and themes—become constituent elements of composition. Orchestration becomes a basic element, not something one completes after a work is written. The music is more atmospheric than discursive. It evokes a response and plays on sensibility rather than suggesting logic and arguing a point.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Viktoria Mullova performs Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47


I have not the courage to force myself to seek beautiful prayers in books; not knowing which to choose I act as children do who cannot read; I say quite simply to the good God what I want to tell Him, and He always understands me.

- St. Therese of Lisieux

Head in the clouds.

Sunrise. Thank you, Jess.


Eat or die.

Frazier, Yahtzee, 2011

Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans--language, rationality, culture and so on. I'd stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes hot sauce.

- Paul Bloom

More Pleasure from Bloom here.

Happy Birthday, Debussy.

Claude Debussy was born on this date in 1862.

Bakst, L'Apres Midi d'Un Faune, 1912

L’Apres-midi d’un Faune


The Faun

These nymphs, I would perpetuate them.
So bright
Their crimson flesh that hovers there, light
In the air drowsy with dense slumbers.
Did I love a dream?
My doubt, mass of ancient night, ends extreme
In many a subtle branch, that remaining the true
Woods themselves, proves, alas, that I too
Offered myself, alone, as triumph, the false ideal of roses.

Let’s see….
or if those women you note
Reflect your fabulous senses’ desire!
Faun, illusion escapes from the blue eye,
Cold, like a fount of tears, of the most chaste:
But the other, she, all sighs, contrasts you say
Like a breeze of day warm on your fleece?
No! Through the swoon, heavy and motionless
Stifling with heat the cool morning’s struggles
No water, but that which my flute pours, murmurs
To the grove sprinkled with melodies: and the sole breeze
Out of the twin pipes, quick to breathe
Before it scatters the sound in an arid rain,
Is unstirred by any wrinkle of the horizon,
The visible breath, artificial and serene,
Of inspiration returning to heights unseen.

O Sicilian shores of a marshy calm
My vanity plunders vying with the sun,
Silent beneath scintillating flowers, RELATE
‘That I was cutting hollow reeds here tamed
By talent: when, on the green gold of distant
Verdure offering its vine to the fountains,
An animal whiteness undulates to rest:
And as a slow prelude in which the pipes exist
This flight of swans, no, of Naiads cower
Or plunge…’
Inert, all things burn in the tawny hour
Not seeing by what art there fled away together
Too much of hymen desired by one who seeks there
The natural A: then I’ll wake to the primal fever
Erect, alone, beneath the ancient flood, light’s power,
Lily! And the one among you all for artlessness.

Other than this sweet nothing shown by their lip, the kiss
That softly gives assurance of treachery,
My breast, virgin of proof, reveals the mystery
Of the bite from some illustrious tooth planted;
Let that go! Such the arcane chose for confidant,
The great twin reed we play under the azure ceiling,
That turning towards itself the cheek’s quivering,
Dreams, in a long solo, so we might amuse
The beauties round about by false notes that confuse
Between itself and our credulous singing;
And create as far as love can, modulating,
The vanishing, from the common dream of pure flank
Or back followed by my shuttered glances,
Of a sonorous, empty and monotonous line.

Try then, instrument of flights, O malign
Syrinx by the lake where you await me, to flower again!
I, proud of my murmur, intend to speak at length
Of goddesses: and with idolatrous paintings
Remove again from shadow their waists’ bindings:
So that when I’ve sucked the grapes’ brightness
To banish a regret done away with by my pretence,
Laughing, I raise the emptied stem to the summer’s sky
And breathing into those luminous skins, then I,
Desiring drunkenness, gaze through them till evening.

O nymphs, let’s rise again with many memories.
‘My eye, piercing the reeds, speared each immortal
Neck that drowns its burning in the water
With a cry of rage towards the forest sky;
And the splendid bath of hair slipped by
In brightness and shuddering, O jewels!
I rush there: when, at my feet, entwine (bruised
By the languor tasted in their being-two’s evil)
Girls sleeping in each other’s arms’ sole peril:
I seize them without untangling them and run
To this bank of roses wasting in the sun
All perfume, hated by the frivolous shade
Where our frolic should be like a vanished day.’

I adore you, wrath of virgins, O shy
Delight of the nude sacred burden that glides
Away to flee my fiery lip, drinking
The secret terrors of the flesh like quivering
Lightning: from the feet of the heartless one
To the heart of the timid, in a moment abandoned
By innocence wet with wild tears or less sad vapours.
‘Happy at conquering these treacherous fears
My crime’s to have parted the dishevelled tangle
Of kisses that the gods kept so well mingled:
For I’d scarcely begun to hide an ardent laugh
In one girl’s happy depths (holding back
With only a finger, so that her feathery candour
Might be tinted by the passion of her burning sister,
The little one, naïve and not even blushing)
Than from my arms, undone by vague dying,
This prey, forever ungrateful, frees itself and is gone,
Not pitying the sob with which I was still drunk.’

No matter! Others will lead me towards happiness
By the horns on my brow knotted with many a tress:
You know, my passion, how ripe and purple already
Every pomegranate bursts, murmuring with the bees:
And our blood, enamoured of what will seize it,
Flows for all the eternal swarm of desire yet.
At the hour when this wood with gold and ashes heaves
A feast’s excited among the extinguished leaves:
Etna! It’s on your slopes, visited by Venus
Setting in your lava her heels so artless,
When a sad slumber thunders where the flame burns low.

I hold the queen!

O certain punishment…
No, but the soul
Void of words, and this heavy body,
Succumb to noon’s proud silence slowly:
With no more ado, forgetting blasphemy, I
Must sleep, lying on the thirsty sand, and as I
Love, open my mouth to wine’s true constellation!

Farewell to you, both: I go to see the shadow you have become.

Claude Debussy, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), for orchestra, L. 86

The music of this prelude is a very free illustration of Mallarmé's beautiful poem. By no means does it claim to be a synthesis of it. Rather there is a succession of scenes through which pass the desires and dreams of the faun in the heat of the afternoon. Then, tired of pursuing the timorous flight of nymphs and naiads, he succumbs to intoxicating sleep, in which he can finally realize his dreams of possession in universal Nature.

- Claude Debussy

Guy Clark, "Homegrown Tomatoes"

'Tis the season! Thanks to all my of friends, who have kept me well supplied ...


The Trail Is Not A Trail

I drove down the Freeway
And turned off at an exit
And went along a highway
Til it came to a sideroad
Drove up the sideroad
Til it turned to a dirt road
Full of bumps, and stopped.
Walked up a trail
But the trail got rough
And it faded away--
Out in the open,
Everywhere to go.

- Gary Snyder


Our hope ... is not based on the idea that we are going to be free of pain and suffering. Rather, it is based on the conviction that we will triumph over suffering.

– Brennan Manning

More restoration at Ragamuffin Ramblings.

21 August 2011

Rod Stewart, "Forever Young"

For Drew and Zuzu ...

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when you’re far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you’d have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you’ll always stay
Forever young, forever young

May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or a vagabond
And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you will remain
Forever young, forever young

And when you finally fly away
I’ll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell
But whatever road you choose
I’m right behind you, win or lose
Forever young, forever young

Rod-undancy here.


Last November, Ibrahim travelled to Djanet with five members of Tinariwen determined to nail down the simple acoustic sound and poetry of ishumar adventurers sitting around a campfire, sharing cigarettes, stories, songs and a guitar. This had always been the context in which Tinariwen's music was heard before they picked up electric guitars, added bass and percussion and went global. It was a return to core values and desert tranquillity that's bottled to perfection on Tassili.

They were later joined by American art house rockers Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, who arrived at Djanet from New York. The pair had met Tinariwen a few years earlier at the Coachella festival in California and their friendship matured with further meetings and a special collaboration at the Womad festival in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

They were picked up in a Toyota 4x4 Land Cruiser by Eyadou Ag Leche, Tinariwen's bassist, and driven through the Saharan night to the campsite-cum-bush recording studio. Eyadou spiced up the journey by travelling down the obscure dirt tracks without any headlights on, a freaky experience for any fresh arrival.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Tinariwen will release their latest album, Tassili, on August 30. Here's a song to learn and sing, "Tenere Taqhim Tossam" ...

Head in the clouds.

Morning in Utica.


Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape? If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!

- J.R.R. Tolkien

Mozart, Coronation Mass in C-major K317, "Gloria"


“The best decision makers,” Baumeister says, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.”

Read the rest at The New York Times Magazine.

Happy Birthday, Strummer.

Joe Strummer, an artist, was born on this date in 1952.



A century ago, right ... now ...

At 7.20am the thief was probably hiding in the storage closet where he may have spent the night. All he had to do was wait until the elderly ex-soldier who was guarding several rooms had wandered off, then lift the frame off its hooks, remove the frame from the painting, and shove the wooden panel on which Da Vinci had painted under his smock. The thief had chosen the Mona Lisa partly because she was so small: just 53cm x 77cm. His one stumble was finding the door to his escape locked. He had already removed the doorknob with a screwdriver before the plumber arrived to save him. By 8.30am, Mona Lisa was gone.

Read the rest at Financial Times.

20 August 2011


If The Owl Calls Again

at dusk
from the island in the river,
and it’s not too cold,

I’ll wait for the moon
to rise,
then take wing and glide
to meet him.

We will not speak,
but hooded against the frost
soar above
the alder flats, searching
with tawny eyes.

And then we’ll sit
in the shadowy spruce
and pick the bones
of careless mice,

while the long moon drifts
toward Asia
and the river mutters
in its icy bed.

And when the morning climbs
the limbs
we’ll part without a sound,

fulfilled, floating
homeward as
the cold world awakens.

- John Haines

Thanks, Jess. I like that one better!