"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 September 2013

Happy birthday, Stuart.

Marty Stuart was born on this date in 1958.

"Sundown in Nashville" with The Fabulous Superlatives, featuring Gary Carter on the pedal steel ...


“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence," Aristotle wrote.

The ancient Greek philosopher came up with one of the most famous definitions of happiness, "eudaimonia," or human flourishing. 



With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.
Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.

Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.
No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.

The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”

The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.
The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.

I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.
If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.

I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.
The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.

Kazim Ali

Happy birthday, Zauberflöte.

Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute, premiered on this date in 1791.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Concentus Musicus Wien ...


Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.

Jorge Luis Borges

29 September 2013


Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone.

Thanks, Kurt.


Ruess, Tree No. 1, 1934


Because I was content with these poor fields,
Low, open meads, slender and sluggish streams,
And found a home in haunts which others scorned,
The partial wood-gods overpaid my love,
And granted me the freedom of their state,
And in their secret senate have prevailed
With the dear, dangerous lords that rule our life,
Made moon and planets parties to their bond,
And through my rock-like, solitary wont
Shot million rays of thought and tenderness.

For me, in showers, insweeping showers, the Spring
Visits the valley;--break away the clouds,--
I bathe in the morn's soft and silvered air,
And loiter willing by yon loitering stream.
Sparrows far off, and nearer, April's bird,
Blue-coated, flying before from tree to tree,
Courageous sing a delicate overture
To lead the tardy concert of the year.
Onward and nearer rides the sun of May;
And wide around, the marriage of the plants
Is sweetly solemnized. Then flows amain
The surge of summer's beauty; dell and crag,
Hollow and lake, hillside and pine arcade,
Are touched with genius. Yonder ragged cliff
Has thousand faces in a thousand hours.

Beneath low hills, in the broad interval
Through which at will our Indian rivulet
Winds mindful still of sannup and of squaw,
Whose pipe and arrow oft the plough unburies,
Here in pine houses built of new-fallen trees,
Supplanters of the tribe, the farmers dwell.
Traveller, to thee, perchance, a tedious road,
Or, it may be, a picture; to these men,
The landscape is an armory of powers,
Which, one by one, they know to draw and use.
They harness beast, bird, insect, to their work;
They prove the virtues of each bed of rock,
And, like the chemist 'mid his loaded jars
Draw from each stratum its adapted use
To drug their crops or weapon their arts withal.

They turn the frost upon their chemic heap,
They set the wind to winnow pulse and grain,
They thank the spring-flood for its fertile slime,
And, on cheap summit-levels of the snow,
Slide with the sledge to inaccessible woods
O'er meadows bottomless. So, year by year,
They fight the elements with elements
(That one would say, meadow and forest walked.
Transmuted in these men to rule their like),
And by the order in the field disclose
The order regnant in the yeoman's brain.

What these strong masters wrote at large in miles,
I followed in small copy in my acre;
For there's no rood has not a star above it;
The cordial quality of pear or plum
Ascends as gladly in a single tree
As in broad orchards resonant with bees;
And every atom poises for itself,
And for the whole. The gentle deities
Showed me the lore of colors and of sounds,
The innumerable tenements of beauty,
The miracle of generative force,
Far-reaching concords of astronomy
Felt in the plants and in the punctual birds;
Better, the linked purpose of the whole,
And, chiefest prize, found I true liberty
In the glad home plain-dealing Nature gave.

The polite found me impolite; the great
Would mortify me, but in vain; for still
I am a willow of the wilderness,
Loving the wind that bent me. All my hurts
My garden spade can heal. A woodland walk,
A quest of river-grapes, a mocking thrush,
A wild-rose, or rock-loving columbine,
Salve my worst wounds.
For thus the wood-gods murmured in my ear:
'Dost love our manners? Canst thou silent lie?
Canst thou, thy pride forgot, like Nature pass
Into the winter night's extinguished mood?
Canst thou shine now, then darkle,
And being latent, feel thyself no less?
As, when the all-worshipped moon attracts the eye,
The river, hill, stems, foliage are obscure,
Yet envies none, none are unenviable.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Waterboys, "The Pan Within"

Steve Wickham, fiddle ...


Degenhardt, Untitled, 1977

There is a place where the town ends
      and the fields begin.
It’s not marked but the feet know it,
also the heart, that is longing for refreshment
      and, equally, for repose.
Someday we’ll live in the sky.
Meanwhile, the house of our lives is the world.
The fields, the ponds, the birds.
The thick black oaks—surely they are the
      children of God.
The feistiness among the tiger lilies,
the hedges of runaway honeysuckle, that no one owns.
Where is it? I ask, and then
my feet know it.
One jump, and I’m home.

Mary Oliver



Böcklin, Pan Among the Reeds, 1859

Of Pan the flowery pastures sing,
Caves echo, and the fountains ring.
Sing then while he doth us inspire;
For all the world is our Pan’s choir.

Andrew Marvell, from "Corinda and Damon"

28 September 2013


Learning baseball for me was ugly and terribly awkward.

An infomercial for Hunter's Hitters Youth Baseball Camp ...

This public service is brought to you by the good nature and well wishes of Drew Harrison Firchau.

20 September 2013

Van Morrison, "Beside You"

Van read Verlaine, too ...

Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway
For the freedom of it
And you take the night air through your nostrils
And you breathe in out, in out


I had, in truth, pledged myself to restore him to his primitive state of child of the Sun, - and, nourished by the wine of caverns and the biscuit of the road, we wandered, I impatient to find the place and the formula.

Arthur Rimbaud, from Illuminations

19 September 2013


de Morgan, Night and Sleep, 1878

Gently, let us steep our love
In the silence deep, as thus,
Branches arching high above
Twine their shadows over us.

Let us blend our souls as one,
Hearts’ and senses’ ecstasies,
Evergreen, in unison
With the pines’ vague lethargies.

Dim your eyes and, heart at rest,
Freed from all futile endeavor,
Arms crossed on your slumbering breast,
Banish vain desire forever.

Let us yield then, you and I,
To the waftings, calm and sweet,
As their breeze-blown lullaby
Sways the gold grass at your feet.

And, when night begins to fall
From the black oaks, darkening,
In the nightingale’s soft call
Our despair will, solemn, sing.

Paul Verlaine


Though we ground-dwellers have since claimed some dominion of the skies with our planes and helicopters, there is still something truly humbling about hitching a brief virtual ride upon a creature so suited to the air.


17 September 2013

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Without Love (We're Just Wastin' Time)"


So many days, oh so many days
seeing you so tangible and so close,
how do I pay, with what do I pay?

The bloodthirsty spring
has awakened in the woods.
The foxes start from their earths,
the serpents drink the dew,
and I go with you in the leaves
between the pines and the silence,
asking myself how and when
I will have to pay for my luck.

Of everything I have seen,
it's you I want to go on seeing:
of everything I've touched,
it's your flesh I want to go on touching.
I love your orange laughter.
I am moved by the sight of you sleeping.

What am I to do, love, loved one?
I don't know how others love
or how people loved in the past.
I live, watching you, loving you.
Being in love is my nature.

You please me more each afternoon.

Where is she? I keep on asking
if your eyes disappear.
How long she's taking! I think, and I'm hurt.
I feel poor, foolish and sad,
and you arrive and you are lightning
glancing off the peach trees.

That's why I love you and yet not why.
There are so many reasons, and yet so few,
for love has to be so,
involving and general,
particular and terrifying,
joyful and grieving,
flowering like the stars,
and measureless as a kiss.

- Pablo Neruda

Neil Young, "Harvest Moon"


so someone asked me about my spiritual practice. i thought for a moment and told him, "i play an E chord without the 3rd." 

i wasn't trying to be a smart ass but ever time i read some joseph campbell or listen to lightnin' hopkins or see judy meeting me at the airport or some one comes up and tells me they enjoy my songs or i come up with a cool groove and some words that fit, i get this feeling that i'm right where i'm supposed to be and i'm doing what i'm supposed to be doing and i get grateful that i'm still teachable and able to learn new things.

now for me the real quest for the grail isn't dressing up in armor and riding off from the kings castle into a dark forest to test your courage..its how do i handle myself when i get up at 4 am to make a 6 am flight..and the guy next to me didn't shower that morning and the lady right behind me has a beautiful baby but the little critter poops 3 times from la to austin and the seat belt sign is on so she can't change him right away..

if i say its karma then i got to figure out what i did to deserve this..
if i say its luck then i should never gamble again..
if i say well it's the way its supposed to be and i ain't gonna always be here to be aware of such moments and i'm still very fortunate to be able to afford to travel and gig then i can endure such aromas as i'm sure there are worse..well then i don't flair up, i breath through my mouth and remember i was a baby once who stunk up where ever i was and that i used to stay up all night and get on a plane ever now and then wearing yesterday.

it was a good flight, we all walked away, and the days that i keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, i have really good days. 

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Kris Kristofferson, "Loving Her Was Easier"

 ... the morning burning golden on the mountains ...



Alain de Botton discusses wisdom in everyday life ...

16 September 2013


Carpe diem' doesn't mean seize the day--it means something gentler and more sensible. 'Carpe diem' means pluck the day. Carpe, pluck. Seize the day would be "cape diem," if my school Latin servies. No "R." Very different piece of advice. What Horace had in mind was that you should gently pull on the day's stem, as if it were, say, a wildflower or an olive, holding it with all the practiced care of your thumb and the side of your finger, which knows how to not crush easily crushed things--so that the day's stalk or stem undergoes increasing tension and draws to a thinness, and a tightness, and then snaps softly away at its weakest point, perhaps leaking a little milky sap, and the flower, or the fruit, is released in your hand. Pluck the cranberry or blueberry of the day tenderly free without damaging it, is what Horace meant--pick the day, harvest the day, reap the day, mow the day, forage the day. Don't freaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at a fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it. That's not the kind of man that Horace was.

Nicholson Baker, from The Anthologist

14 September 2013


A thoroughly supple knowledge of the ways in which the world tries to take him and a confidence that his own ways are more just and liberating was apparent here and everywhere in the conversation.


13 September 2013

Happy birthday, Monroe.

The Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, was born on this date in 1911.

"Uncle Pen" with Peter Rowan singin' and playing guitar ...

12 September 2013


Wild Birds Flying is a project developed by Minneapolis advertising photographer Paul Nelson.

The project was inspired by James Audubon's illustrations. His portrayal of birds in their natural habitat without the distraction of complex backgrounds strikes a balance that is both beautiful and intimate. The detail in his work is captivating, leaving viewers feeling as if they could almost touch the delicate feathers of the birds.


11 September 2013


These moments when individuals find others who share their dreams, when fear is overwhelmed by idealism or by outrage, when people feel a strength that surprises them, are moments in which they become heroes—for what are heroes but those so motivated by ideals that fear cannot sway them, those who speak for us, those who have power for good?

Rebecca Solnit 

07 September 2013


In this glass of beer, you look down into that golden, rich bubbling ice cool depth, you see the echos of lost battles, you hear the echos of ancient victories, a million ball games, ten million football games, and thousands and thousands of family moments, fights, victories, love-makings, the back seat of the Pontiac, the long trip on the way to the zoo in Dowagiac, the beer can in the weeds ... when you look at that glass of beer, you’re looking at life itself, the Mother of us all ... Beer.


Beethoven, Piano Concerto No.5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor"

Hélène Grimaud performs the second movement, Adagio un poco mosso, in B-major ...

Your horizon is wider for it.


van Gogh, Self-Portrait (detail), 1887

If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.

Vincent van Gogh