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Archive for the ‘Art of Rebellion’ Category

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Tyrone Guthrie Outside The Guthrie – 64/365, Archive 365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2010-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The Archive 365 practice and collaboration continues with a photograph taken outside the Guthrie Theater in August 2010. With each new image, I feel compelled to look into tidbits about the subject’s history. It’s no secret that Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Midwest architect Ralph Rapson did not see eye-to-eye on the design of the original Guthrie Theater (the play Tyrone & Ralph was written highlighting this piece of history). The two fought over the thrust stage which Guthrie wanted and the asymmetrical design Rapson desired. They also disagreed over the color of the seats. Guthrie ordered Rapson to make sure the seats were all the same bland color; Rapson wanted brightness and vivacity and decidedly disobeyed. By the time the hundreds of multicolored seats arrived, it was too late for Guthrie to do anything about it.

In spite of their disagreements, Rapson’s modern design prevailed and the Guthrie opened on May 7, 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie; it became one of the most respected theaters in the country. An idea that began in 1959 during a series of conversations among Guthrie and two colleagues—Oliver Rea and Peter Zeisler—who were disenchanted with Broadway, sprang to life. They realized their dream to create a theater with a resident acting company that would perform the classics in rotating repertory with the highest professional standards.

Sir Tyrone Guthrie was the Artistic Director from 1963 through 1966 and returned to direct each year until 1969. He passed away in 1971. Architect Ralph Rapson died of heart failure in 2008 at the age of 93. The original Guthrie was torn down in 2006; the theater dimmed its lights 43 years to the day that it opened — also with a production of Hamlet. It reopened across town by the Mississippi River in a new, $125 million three-stage complex with the faces of Tyrone Guthrie, August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Anton Chekhov, Eugene O’Neill and George Bernard Shaw etched into its walls.


Resources:

Guthrie Theater History – The Guthrie

Ralph Rapson, architect of the original Guthrie, has died – MPR News

The Old Guthrie Goes Down – photos at The Masticator

Guthrie Theater brings curtain down on original home – MPR News

Guthrie & Rapson battle again – MPR news


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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Camp Savage – 4/365, Archive 365, Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Independence

Banging fireworks against pre-dawn chatter.
Red night, white galaxy, blue smoke
in the air, flowers made of fire.

Freedom does not rest
or sit softly on her laurels.
She is war-like and stubborn,
not blind to the truth.

“Fight for what you believe in” she liked to say.

Independence remains passive,
13 stripes, 50 stars
but fiercely springs to life
when freedom is stripped away.

never rest easy –
in the dawn’s early light
there is much work to do





ABOUT THE PHOTOS:

Liz and I stumbled on Camp Savage in 2009 while out on a day trip to take photos. I was shocked and surprised because I had no idea such a place existed in Minnesota. The Nisei (second generation) at Camp Savage were translators of language, maps, and documents during World War II. When Marylin submitted her piece about her childhood friend whose family was sent to a Japanese internment camp, I was inspired to go back and take a look at these photographs again. It’s the first time I have consciously written haibun (more about the form at haiku 4 (one-a-day) meets renga 52). I like working in the format of both prose and haiku. Independence Day in the United States reminds me of all the ways that people fight hard to gain freedom, independence, and equality, even within our own country. Below are the words on the plaque at Camp Savage:

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Independence, flag at Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

During World War II, some 5,000 to 6,000 Japanese American soldiers, members of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service, were given intensive and accelerated classes in the Japanese language at Camp Savage.

Their subsequent work translating captured documents, maps, battle plans, diaries, letters, and printed materials and interrogating Japanese prisoners made them “Our human secret weapons,” according to President Harry Truman, who commended them following the war.

The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) program began in the fall of 1941, a few weeks before Pearl Harbor, at the Presidio in San Francisco.

For security reasons it was moved in May, 1942 to Camp Savage, a site personally selected by language school commandant Colonel Kai E. Rasmussen, who believed Savage was “a community that would accept Japanese Americans for their true worth — American soldiers fighting with their brains for their native America.”

The 132-acre site had served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s and was later used to house elderly indigent men.

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Plaque At Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Conditions there were extremely difficult in the early months of the war, when the first students studied without desks, chairs, or even beds. By August, 1944 the program had outgrown Camp Savage and was moved to larger facilities at Fort Snelling

Most of the English-speaking Japanese Americans, known as Nisei, were from the West Coast area. Some were already in the U.S. military service when they were selected for the language school, while others were volunteers from the camps in which American citizens of Japanese ancestry had been interned following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

According to General Charles Willoughby, chief of Intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, “the 6,000 Nisei shortened the Pacific war by two years.”

-erected by the Savage Chamber of Commerce, 1993



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ARCHIVE 365: Since the completion of BlackBerry 365, I have missed a daily photo practice. There are so many photos from my archives that no one has ever seen but me. So I asked skywire7 if she wanted to do a daily practice for one year, taking turns posting an unpublished photograph from the past.

Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Independence Day, July 4th, 2012. Related to post:  Abraham Lincoln & Nikki Giovanni (On Poets & Presidents)

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Ban Guns

Ban Guns – 1/365, Archive 365, Pamela & Frank Gaard: Dual Portraits, TuckUnder Projects, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2012, photo © 2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Night On Fire, BlackBerry Shots, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Original BlackBerry photo June 2011, part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.


Northern Spark 2012 begins next weekend in the Twin Cities at dusk on Saturday, June 9th and ends at the crack of dawn, Sunday, June 10th. Northern Spark is a free, dusk to dawn, participatory arts festival that presents visual arts, performance, films, and interactive media. Tonight at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis we plan to attend the Pre-Spark Bridge Lighting where planners will flip the switch for Northern Spark’s signature artwork, Robin Schwartzman’s THINK AND WONDER, WONDER AND THINK.  They will also be giving out festival guidebooks to preview before June 9.

Last year’s inaugural Northern Spark was magical. In 2011, over the course of the night, there were 50,000 visits to 100 projects by more than 200 mostly local artists at 34 venues in collaboration with 60 partner organizations and sponsors. I have listed a few of the places we visited in 2011 and a little history of the Nuit Blanche (“white night”) movement in the piece Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.

The three photographs in this piece were taken while I was standing in the middle of Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light installation, part of Northern Spark 2011. In Annotated Artwork: The Making Of Jim Campbell’s ‘Scattered Light‘, Jim says moving from 2-D to 3D art is about “exploding an image, tearing it apart, and spreading it out.” His tips: 1. Pick a spot 2. Grab Source Material 3. Turn it into code 4. Create depth 5. Consider the planet. Honoring point 5, he and his assistants revamped thousands of standard lightbulbs, sawed them open, stuffed them with LEDs, and glued them back together, making handmade, unique, energy-efficient hybrids.

I am looking forward to Northern Spark 2012. At the Northern Spark website, there is a Planning Your Night page with a full list of events, including a link to download their new Northern Spark mobile app. We’ve already got ours loaded on our Androids. I only hope there is enough time to make all the events we’ve listed. It’s perfect for all of our fellow NightOwls! Hope to see our local readers there! If you can’t make it, you can follow Northern Spark on their Facebook page and at Twitter @Northern_Spark #NSPK.



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Out Of The Darkness (L), #NorthernSpark – Scattered Light by Jim Campbell 23/52 (R), BlackBerry Shots, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Original BlackBerry photos June 2011, part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

-related to posts: Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche, Suspended In Light (Reprise), Insomnia Haiku: Counting Syllables In My Sleep, Mickey’s Night Owl Sandwich, Dreams Of A Creative Insomniac

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Documentary Shorts At The Riverview, Droid Shots, original photograph edited with Paper Camera, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2012, photo © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


When Liz was asked what movie she wanted to see before a belated birthday dinner at Blackbird, she chose the Oscar Nominated Short Documentary films at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. The filmmakers took us around the world, Baghdad to Birmingham, Pakistan to Japan. The presentation included four of the five films nominated for an Oscar in the Short Documentary category for 2012: Incident in Baghdad, Saving Face, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. (The fifth nominee, God Is The Bigger Elvis could not be shown due to licensing issues.)

In 130 minutes, I swept through a full range of emotions. Saving Face moved me to tears one minute; the next I was smiling with the big hearted doctor who traveled to Pakistan to reconstruct the acid scarred faces of women attacked by their husbands. Incident in New Baghdad horrified me and reminded me how sheltered most Americans have been from the ravages of two wars.

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom had a visual yin and yang quality. Grief, destruction, devastation, and loss following the tsunami in northern Japan; delicate blossoms of centuries old cherry trees restore hope in ways “beautiful but not showy.” James Armstrong, The Barber of Birmingham, walked steady and strong through decades of the Civil Rights Movement, and listened closely when he cut the hair of Dr. Martin Luther King. His mantra: “Dying isn’t the worst thing a man can do. The worst thing a man can do is nothing.”

The men, women, and children in these documentaries survived against all odds. They are impeccable warriors who teach me to pay attention, find my voice, and not be afraid to speak out. They teach me to show gratitude for the gift that is my life. They teach me about courage.  Through hardship and injustice, they show up and tell their stories to filmmakers who ensure their stories are heard. I hope you take the opportunity to see these films. They will inspire you to live life to the fullest, to take risks with your art and writing, and walk the way of the peaceful warrior.



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Incident in New Baghdad – 25 minutes – USA – James Spione

One of the most notorious incidents of the Iraq War – the July 2007 slayings of two Reuters journalists and a number of other unarmed civilians by US attack helicopters – is recounted in the powerful testimony of American infantryman Ethan McCord whose life was profoundly changed by his experiences on the scene.


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Saving Face – 40 minutes – Pakistan/USA – Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Every year hundreds of people — mostly women — are attacked with acid in Pakistan. The HBO Documentary SAVING FACE follows several of these survivors, their fight for justice, and a Pakistani plastic surgeon who has returned to his homeland to help them restore their faces and their lives.


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The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom – 39 minutes – Japan/USA – Lucy Walker

Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A stunning visual poem about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower.


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The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement – 25 minutes – USA – Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday

Mr. James Armstrong is an 85-year-old barber, a “foot soldier” and a dreamer whose barbershop in Birmingham, Alabama has been a hub for haircuts and civil rights since 1955. The dream of a promised land, where dignity and the right to vote belong to everyone, is documented in photos, headlines and clippings that cram every inch of wall space in his barbershop. On the eve of the election of the first African American president, the Barber of Birmingham sees his unimaginable dream come true.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, February 22th, 2012. Read more about the films at the links and watch a trailer at the Riverview website.

-related to posts: And The Oscar Goes To…, Eloquent Nude At The Riverview

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AND THEN...

And Then, last page of The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage, 1979, Doubleday, from artist & writer Judy Chicago, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
and then both men and women will be gentle
and then both women and men will be strong
and then no person will be subject to another's will
and then all will be rich and free and varied
and then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
and then all will share equally in the earth's abundance
and then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
and then all will nourish the young
and then all will cherish life's creatures
and then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth
and then everywhere will be called eden once again


—artist & writer Judy Chicago, from The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage, 1979, Doubleday


-posted on red Ravine Monday, September 12th, 2011

-related to posts: A Moment Of Silence – September 11th, 2011, 9:02am, Remembering – September 11th, 2008

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BRIDGE 4 2011-06-24 22.04.36

Under The Rainbow – 24/52, BlackBerry 52 — Week 24, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, June 24th 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved. Medium: Droid snapshot of the new I-35 Bridge on Pride
weekend, June 2011 in response to Lotus Jump-Off – The Biggest Heart.








Compassion —
learning to accept
what we don’t understand;
a city with a big heart
knows how to hold its differences.








BRIDGE 5 2011-06-24 22.03.04 -posted on red Ravine, Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Lotus and I will continue to respond to each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

I-35 Bridge In Rainbow Colors For Pride! #pride - 24/52 -related to posts:  haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52, Berth Of The Night Owl haiku, Marriage Equality In Maine & The Catholic Church

-related links: I-35W Bridge To Glow In Rainbow Colors For Pride Festival, NY Becomes 6th State to Legalize Gay Marriage, NY Birthplace of Gay Rights Movement Fetes New Law, Pride Parade Celebrates Passage Of Gay Marriage

Photos: Bridge Light, I-35 Bridge In Rainbow Colors For Pride – 24/52, BlackBerry 52 — Week 24, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 24th 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Medium: Droid snapshots of the new I-35 Bridge on Pride weekend, June 2011 in response to Lotus Jump-Off – The Biggest Heart.

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I have not wanted to write on the Topic of Scars. Why? All the more reason to dig in. I see the tiny nicks on my hands and wrists every day. They remind me of what I was doing when I got them. Pulling the stainless steel blade across a grinding wheel when the dental tool shot into the air, gravity intervened, it landed on top of my hand. Lathering dark brown bees wax across handmade paper and birch bark, drips of scalding wax on my wrists.

The next thing I think about is the stage of life I was in when those things happened. My twenties in Montana. I went from moving cross country and having no job, to working at a gas station for a while, then went to the job center, took a dexterity test, and landed at a dental tool sharpening company on Reserve Street. Looking back, it was a crazy time in my life. The second scar, art school, late nights, living on fumes. I felt alive, on the edge of something.

Last night on the news, there was a woman being interviewed about her daughter. She is a few days away from giving birth and in a burn unit. She was sitting around the fire ring with some teenage friends when a couple of the boys threw bottles filled with gas into the flames. She got up to leave, turned to look back, and that’s when the bottle exploded. She still has not looked at the scars on her face. Scarred for life. Holding on to a past that is not there anymore. Maybe that is what a scar indicates — change. A past event, no longer the present, still impacting our bodies and minds in some unexplainable way.

Scars represent choices we made along the way. More so if they were obtained as adults, while we were undertaking a task that might have been unfamiliar to us. Or maybe we were tired and running a chainsaw, or working around chemicals, machinery, fire. There are deeper scars, emotional, that grip like the vise, unless we work to let go of them. Feelings of abandonment, abuse, uncertainty. Maybe a close loved one died when we were young. Our parents were divorced or in an accident. We moved from California to North Dakota, Georgia to Pennsylvania, where cultures are polar opposites. I learned to run from scars when I was a young adult. Dug in my heels. At some point, I just dug in, and did the work. The work of transforming those experiences into fuel for the future.

That’s the part I like to see in the novels I read. I like to notice where the person took the wisdom of age and transmuted some horrific event in their lives into a spark of passion, into something better. Maybe they became a doctor or nurse and gave back to others. Maybe they raised their children to have a different life than the one they led. I am noticing when I listen to The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich, noticing how she wraps the characters’ lives around them at the end of the book, like a woven sheep blanket, one with an uneven stitch, a place of imperfection where Spirit can enter. I want to study the structure of the book, look for places in her life that might have contributed to the details she writes about.

I do that with fiction. I scour the novel for tidbits of truth, something that relates to the writer’s own life, the scars they may have endured. If I know the writer well, have read their life story, or they have written a memoir, I can get under the surface, read between the lines. Of course, it’s only my take on things. Every reader has her own version of the same story. That’s the deliciousness of writing. And reading. And of living. None of my five siblings ever remember my stories, the narrative of our growing up, the way I remember them. And neither do my parents.

When I went to see The Scottsboro Boys at the Guthrie a few weeks ago, that is what I noticed. That we bring to a piece of art or writing, our own age, history, and experience. And our baggage. We attended the after-play discussion and listened to members of the audience talk about race, prejudice in the North and the South, about the minstrel shows and what they represented, about scars our country has left behind. Scars that slowly heal. And become transformed.

It is slow. And each time we take a giant step, everything splashes back in our faces, knocking the breath out of us. There is a backlash that becomes tempered with time. America is a country of extremes. We elect a black President yet have a hard time looking at the legacy leading up to the moment in time when we elected him. History is behind us, yes. But not really. If you had seen The Scottsboro Boys, you would know what I mean. I was pushed to laughter and tears from the scars. Yet, it opened me. That is what good art does. It opens us. If you can’t look back, you can’t really go forward. At least, that is what I believe. Scars are teachers. What have I learned?



-Related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC – SCARS, and Guest practice, PRACTICE – SCARS – 15min by Louis Robertson

NOTE: Scars is a Writing Topic on red Ravine. Guest writer Louis Robertson was inspired to join QuoinMonkey and ybonesy in doing a Writing Practice on the topic.

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From Dad, excerpt from a two-page letter that my dad sent to me when I was 17, November 22, 1978, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





From my Writing Practice on “Be Impeccable with your Word,” the first agreement of don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements:

Dad was impeccable with his word. Words were important to him. They still are. He still wants to be heard. When I was a teenager and unwilling to listen, he wrote his words down in two or three letters he then slipped under the closed door of my bedroom or left on the kitchen table for me to open after he left for work. He was like Felix Unger in some ways, a tidy man with small and precise handwriting. His handwriting is shaky now, but then his writing looked like a professional cursive font.

The letters he wrote on yellow legal pads, and so he fit a lot of words on them. He told me the things he had tried to say to me but that I would shut down. What was important to him, the things he wanted to pass on, the wisdom he wanted to impart. He worried about me, the friends I had chosen, my boyfriend. He acknowledged that even though I had many bad habits, I was still keeping up my grades, and for that he was grateful.

He did pass something on to me, didn’t he? His honesty with words. That’s a powerful gift.





Thanks, Dad. I listen to you now.



-Related to posts PRACTICE: Be Impeccable With Your Word – 15min and WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

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poker mom

Poker Mom, ybonesy’s mom, Margie (hair up in curlers), on poker night, circa 1950s, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






To my mom, QM’s mom, Liz’s mom, and all the moms out there:






you are the best!


happy mother’s day!






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'Break Me' Music Video Shoot of Alexx Calise, photo by Luigie Gonzalez




You might not have ever heard of singer-songwriter Alexx Calise, but someday, hopefully soon, that will change. Alexx is a young woman who in her short career in a hard-as-nails industry has managed to release a debut album, Morning Pill; rack up over a dozen endorsements from music gear and clothing manufacturers; get featured as a Boston radio’s “Hot Up-and-Coming Indie Artist”; and have one of her songs used in a promo for TV series One Tree Hill. Those are just a few of her accomplishments.

We were curious about how Alexx landed on her unique sound of electronica, hard rock, and urban-edged pop, as well as what drives her to work so hard to achieve her dream. She took time from working on her two next albums to give us these insights.


* * * *




Interview with Alexx Calise, February 2010, red Ravine


red Ravine: By way of introduction, tell us a little bit about yourself and your music. How would you describe your music to someone who’s just getting to know you?

Alexx Calise: Well, I’m a bit of an enigma. I’m too alternative to be considered “normal,” and I’m too “normal” to be considered alternative. Sometimes, I don’t even get myself. I’m extremely introverted in person yet unabashed and raw when I get on stage. I think that my material is an accurate portrayal of my personality. The music is high-energy and adrenaline inducing yet the lyrics are esoteric and thoughtful.


red Ravine: You’ve worked hard toward the goal of being a musician, which is noteworthy given that many people your age are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. How did you get so focused and how do you stay that way?

Alexx: Thank you! Fortunately, I’ve known since I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a writer in some form (over the years music started to accompany those writings). Knowing what you want to do early on makes all the difference in the world. Essentially, I had my whole life to hone my craft. Not everyone is that lucky. Being focused and motivated has always been kind of innate for me. I’m always striving for perfection (which is also my downfall), and I’m constantly pushing myself to be better in every sense of the word. No one else is going to do this for me, so it’s up to me to make it happen.


red Ravine: Making it as a musician must be challenging. What specific actions or milestones have you found to be most significant in moving you closer to your goals?

Alexx: There are a few specific things that have helped propel my career, like when my music was featured on One Tree Hill, or when I was Frostwire.com’s featured artist for a while. But I’ve found that hard work, dedication and perspiration created those types of opportunities. The more you put yourself out there, the more you get back. I always have 10,000 different poles in the ocean. If one thing falls through, I don’t dwell on it because another opportunity is bound to come up. I’m constantly moving, and I’m always attempting to generate momentum and interest. I think of my music career as a business, so like Donald Trump or any of these successful entrepreneurs you’ve seen or read about, I’m constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to market myself. I’m always researching and I’m always trying to make my “product” better.


red Ravine: I read in an interview that your father was a musician and an early influence in your musical life. What did he say when he found out you wanted to be a musician?

Alexx: I think my father loved the fact that I wanted to be a musician as well, because it became our way of communicating. We’d spend our father-daughter time playing or talking music, and he even ended up playing a few shows with me when I needed a bass player (by the way, he rips on the bass!). I think some of the most special and memorable times in my life were those moments. You really can’t buy moments like those.


red Ravine: Who are your other musical influences?

Alexx: I grew up listening to silverchair, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Toadies, STP, Soundgarden and Buckcherry. My forthcoming album, In Avanti, incorporates a lot of my electronica influences, such as Archive and The Dust Brothers. I think the best way to describe the new sound would be “Alanis meets The Prodigy.”


red Ravine: What do you think of shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent? Are these credible venues for musicians who are starting out or who haven’t found other means of making it big?

Alexx: I’m personally not a huge fan of those types of shows, but that’s not to say they’re not credible launch vehicles. I don’t have a problem with anything that doesn’t compromise someone’s artistic integrity.


red Ravine: Do you like to read, and if so, what books or authors?

Alexx: I’m actually a voracious reader. My favorites to name a few are Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, Downtown Owl and Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman, Girl by Blake Nelson, anything Stephen Covey, and Bully by Jim Schutze.


red Ravine: Describe a typical day in your life.

Alexx: Depends on what you’re definition of typical is! (Ha ha!) Lately my days consist of interviews, recording for either my solo project or Sound of Cancer (my other new album/project with drummer/songwriter Dennis Morehouse), doing photo and video shoots, tracking vocals for commercials, writing, practicing, marketing and promoting, and spending whatever little time I have left working out, hanging with my kitten or sleeping.


red Ravine: Talk a little bit about what it’s like to be a young woman in this industry. Have you had to make any adjustments, or do you find the industry to be equally challenging for men and women?

Alexx: I think it’s a challenge for everyone these days. There are thousands of distractions, like social media and other technologies, so that it’s difficult to stand out and be seen as an artist in general. To be a successful musician nowadays, you need to do some serious out-of-the-box thinking. As far as adjustments are concerned, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that people aren’t buying CDs anymore—hence you have to come up with alternative ways of generating income—and that you have to do everything yourself. No record label is going to save you from a lifetime of poverty and obscurity, and most importantly, no one is going to care about your career (or you!) more than you.


red Ravine: I have a ten-year-old daughter who has been playing guitar since age 7. She’s recently discovered the joy of playing for others. What advice would you have for her (or for me, as her mother) in nurturing her love of music and performing?

Alexx: Scatter as many law books around the house as you can before it’s too late! Just kidding! As far as advice goes, I would encourage her to follow her dreams and to reach for the stars. There is nothing on this Earth that you can’t do so long as you put your mind to it. Sure, it’s a long, hard road, but if it’s in your heart and that’s all that you know how to do you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The worst thing you could ever do is give up or let fear get in the way of your love.





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Live at Swinghouse (Los Angeles, CA), photo by Lucinda Wedge

About Alexx Calise: Alexx Calise grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she spent her childhood mostly alone or in the pages of a notebook, finding comfort only in her parents’ vast record collection, which included everything from Mozart to Led Zeppelin.

At 11, she picked up the guitar to emulate her father, also a talented musician, and began fusing the melodies she heard in her head with her own poetry and recitations.

She lives in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about her at her website, plus follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alexx.calise and on My Space at http://www.myspace.com/alexxcalise.

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Eye Of The Dragon, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






inky, sweatless pores,
all eyes drawn to the Dragon
keeper of the Grail;
night falls to The Hinterlands —
she is searching for herself.










-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TATTOOS, Ink Illuminations, dragon haiku trilogy, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas

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I could probably wrack my brain and come up with something someone wrongly accused me of during a spat or a fight, but nothing stands out. In fact, I pretty much have done everything anyone ever accused me of. Maybe someone called me selfish, and I don’t think I’m very selfish at all. But you see, there’s always more than one side to a story. I might in fact be pretty selfish at times.

I once ran across some little gangbangers walking down the road. I got into a tiff with them. My girls cried in the backseat as I got out of the car and confronted them. They had slapped the side of my car as I drove by, as if my car were the rump of a big horse. It was summer and we had the windows rolled down. The gang kids were walking abreast, three of them, taking up almost my entire lane. Another car was coming down the opposite lane, and so I honked to get the kids to move off to the side. It was a slow road, normally 25 miles an hour, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t wait for the other car to pass and then drive around the kids, but when they glanced back yet stayed put in the middle of the lane, I inched so close that I almost ran over a foot. But I was going about five or ten miles an hour. I don’t think I could have hurt anyone.

They accused me of starting a fight with them. This I learned from the cop who I sic’d on them after I had a confrontation with the kids. They were two girls and boy. The girls were 15 and maybe 16, and the boy slightly older. After I got out of the car, that being after they slapped the side of the car as I inched by, we had words. I think I might have said, “What the hell did you just say???” I had heard something like “What the fuck?” as I drove by, probably because I almost ran over a foot.

There was a whole next part of the confrontation, where they followed me to the library, which was just a few yards from where I had first stopped the car, and I was feeling mean and strong, like the 16-year-old in me who’d gone to school with a bunch of pachucas was rising to the top, ready to go to blows if need be. I said a bunch of stuff that provoked them. I was mad that they were so damned cocky and stupid. And that they were probably going to waste their lives, acting too cool for their own good. My anger came out, and I remember feeling ready for a good fist fight.

And my girls were still in the backseat of the car waiting while I turned in my book, which, by the way, was To Kill A Mockingbird, which, by the way, I never read in high school or junior high but in my mid-40s. The girls were pretty scared, crying while they watched their mother walk by three kids who thought they were pretty tough, the boy was bouncing on his Pumas or whatever tennis shoes boys like him wore. And his bling were flying in the air, hitting his chest every time he went up and the bling went down.

Well, what I want to say is I probably did provoke that confrontation. I was in that kind of a mood, and when I drove away, peeling out so that the gravel under the tires of my car spit up toward them, I saw a cop sitting in his car just around the corner. I pulled up and told him that there were some delinquents by the library. Later, when I saw the cop again and asked him how things had turned out, he said that they accused me of saying a bunch of stuff to them and starting the whole thing. “Oh, really?” I said. And then he told me, “Yeah, but who was I to believe? A middle-aged woman with kids or a bunch of delinquents?”

I kind of felt bad for them just then.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey); and PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman)

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Question Mark, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A few weeks ago, I watched an interview on Bill Moyers Journal and was mesmerized by the work of Anna Deavere Smith. It is tough work. She takes on controversial subjects most would not touch in our sanitized, politically correct language of the day. Her 1992 one-woman performance Fires in the Mirror explored the violence between Jews and Blacks after an August 1991 civic disturbance in the New York neighborhood of Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Her solo performance in Twilight: Los Angeles dramatized the 1992 riots that broke out in L.A. following the first Rodney King trial.

For her current one-woman play Let Me Down Easy, Anna Deavere Smith interviewed Americans from all walks of life about healthcare, medical, and end of life issues. After 9 years and 300 plus interviews, she chose 20 people; through their words, body language and speech, she transforms on stage into each one. I’ve only seen snippets of her 90 minute performance on TV. And from bullrider to politician to Buddhist monk, I could hear the voice of all America inserted into the healthcare debate, leaving little room for doubt — something has to change.

We are trying to bring disparate worlds together, not so that we can all get along, but so we can see out of the ‘me’ into ‘us.’

– Anna Deavere Smith

__________________________________________


Highlights


Below are few notes I jotted down while listening to her conversation with Bill Moyers. A few may seem cryptic, but will make more sense when you watch the interview:

  • The title Let Me Down Easy came to her almost out of a dream. There are two songs with the name. Of the title, James H. Cone of the Union Theological Seminary said they are the words of a broken heart and can be interpreted as broken love. “Don’t do it harshly. Not too mean. Let it be easy.”
  • Let Me Down Easy is a call about grace and kindness in a world that lacks that often –  in a winner take all world.
  • Death is the ultimate form of loss, the ultimate form of abandonment
  • It broke her heart to know that we, with all of our money and technology, believe that we can afford to leave people so alone
  • Are we afraid of being poor, afraid of losing, afraid of being sick? Is that why we distance ourselves from that reality all around us?
  • She chose these 20 particular people because they are very connected to the life cycle – death and life
  • The most important thing you can do is be with someone when they die
  • Art comes in when the official language falls apart. When things fall apart, you can see more and you can even be part of indicating new ways that things can be put together.


What seems to be important to Anna Deavere Smith is the art of listening. And letting what she hears soak into each cell of her body. Words matter. People matter. She believes something she learned from her grandfather (who was also the inspiration for her method of theater) — if you say a word often enough, it becomes you. In a New York Times article Through 1 Woman, 20 Views of Life’s End she says, “I try to embody America by embodying its words.”

Near the end of the interview, Bill Moyers asked, “When did you begin to listen to people so acutely?” Anna said when she was young, she lived next to a woman who weighed 400 pounds. The neighbor would ask her to go to the store to buy her fatback and she’d love to sit on her porch and listen to her stories –  that’s when she started really listening.

__________________________________________


Writing Topic — 3 Questions


How do we teach ourselves to listen? How do we get people to talk about what has meaning for them, moving beyond repetition or sound bites? In Anna’s words, “I say their words over and over. I listen and I wear the words.”

She said she also taught herself to listen by breaking up certain rhythmic speech patterns. She met a linguist at a cocktail party in 1979 who said she would give her 3 questions that were guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves:

Have you ever come close to death?

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?

Do you know the circumstances of your birth?


And that’s the inspiration for this Writing Topic — 3 Questions.

Choose one of the 3 questions above. Write it down at the top of your paper. Take out a fast writing pen and do a timed 15 minute Writing Practice.

Maybe 3 questions, combined with the wild mind of Writing Practice, will break patterns in our writing and lead us to listen more closely to our own voices.

__________________________________________


Epilogue


Anna Deavere Smith is on fire. In pursuit of her mission to translate art into social commentary about race, poverty, and injustice, she’s won two Obie Awards, been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and two Tonys, and is a recipient of the prized MacArthur fellowship. (Not to mention her role in NBC’s The West Wing, as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally.) You can read more about Anna Deavere Smith at Bill Moyers Journal. Or watch the full interview with Anna Deavere Smith and Bill Moyers at this link.

In November, the Moth Storytelling Awards in New York honored her as their 2009 recipient at the Annual Moth Ball. The Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy covered the event which was also attended by writer Garrison Keillor. On the subject of healthcare, the blog references a compelling verbal account from Keillor that night about his stroke in September. He had the stroke while on a massage table, eventually drove himself to the ER, and waited 15 minutes in line before he was able to tell anyone he was having a stroke. Read the full story at Speakeasy: Jonathan Ames, Garrison Keillor and Anna Deavere Smith Headline Annual Moth Ball.


In some ways the most effective politicians are the ones who have the best verbal clothes that they manipulate the best way. And there is a gap between that type of clothing and where people walk and where people live.

Whitman was doing another kind of work for the country at that time. Speaking a different song. And I think the politicians can sing to us but I respect, in a way, the limitation of their language. I mean I guess it’s a part of our culture that goes back as far as Jefferson, that they have to be so careful about what they say. My only desire would then be that we would find other places in our culture to work out our differences.

– Anna Deavere Smith from Bill Moyers Journal, November 2009


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 29th, 2009

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Moms are the best
to hug and to nestle
My mama’s bad ass
She can arm wrestle







Bobbi goes up against MOM...

Bobbi versus Mom, in the First Annual Arm Wrestling Holiday Championship, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





...and the winner is MOM!

And the winner is Mom!, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





The holidays are just around the corner. We have tamales to make (after Thanksgiving) and biceps to beef up. Last year Mom beat at least five of us—my two daughters, myself, Dad, and my sister Bobbi—in a jolly game of arm wrestling. Mom is 83. (Did I mention she’s bad ass?)

What’s on your list of things to do before the holidays? And, what family traditions are you most looking forward to?

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Start with a box, then paint a sign…
 
 
porta potty (two)
 
 
 
 
 
            …add a handle on the door and a stovepipe vent…
 
 
                    porta potty (three)
 
 
 
 

…throw in a few flies (because flies like stink)…


porta potty (four)





                    …and ya got the best Halloween costume ever!


                    pizza and potty (bleh!)





What are you going to be for Halloween??





_______________________________________________________________________________________

Postscript: The incredibly creative and talented Eric and Margherita, parents of one of my daughter’s best friends, made this costume. The kids all pitched in to help. Their daughter is a Plumber for Halloween.

At the school carnival, reactions to the Porta Potty costume were varied. Many people pointed and laughed. A few plugged their noses. Some looked baffled and offended, apparently by the idea that we’d dress our daughter as an outhouse. But hands down, this was the most surprising, most original costume of the day.

Many thanks to Eric and Margherita for making it happen!! You guys are Halloween geniuses (and next time you ever make it to southern California, I have just the person you have to meet).

Seriously, folks, check out Heather from Anuvue’s Alien Invasion – The Queen of Halloween has just been promoted to Halloween Leader of the Free World and Dictator for Life! _______________________________________________________________________________________



-Related to posts Halloween Short List: (#2) Build Your Own Casket and halloween haiku

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Can I be frank? I’m not fond of rules.

I loved the badges they handed out in Girl Scouts for doing things like embroidering (they looked so cool on your sash) but I hated embroidering. In places like Oregon, I admire how the traffic flows so well with those red-light-green-light on-ramps, but I reject the notion that I have to be told when to merge onto the freeway. (You should see me hoot and holler and sing “Oh Fair New Mexico!” when I run those on-ramp lights.)

And I absolutely cherish receiving blogging awards, but I struggle with the requirement that we link back to the person who thought up the award to begin with (who, in this case, we don’t even know) and then dole out exactly five awards to other bloggers.

So, I am going to rejoice in the fact that QuoinMonkey and I recently received The Superior Scribbler award from Sharon Lippincott (aka ritergal) over at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing—who, by the way, we’ve been following for over two years and who we enjoy immensely—but I’m not going to re-post the rules of the award nor do the linky-link thing nor bestow the award (I hate bestowing anything, unless it is a wart) to five bloggy friends.

(I sure hope this doesn’t land me in Blogger Award Jail, or worse, Blogger Award Solitary Confinement, where no awards are ever bestowed on me again, because, by golly, I’m a poor winner. Dang.)
 
But in the spirit of doing awards ybonesy-style with a big heap of QM thrown in, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight fellow bloggers who scribble awfully well and photograph like the dickens and make us laugh and are just plain nice people:

  • First, Sharon-slash-ritergal is a Superior Scribbler. She wrote and published the story of her early life in New Mexico (you gotta love that!) and gave a blow-by-blow of how she did the publishing part. And at the end of almost every post, she includes a “Write Now” prompt, motivating readers to not just read her stuff but write their own.
  • Bo over at Seeded Earth has inspired us for a couple of years with her photographs, not to mention I got to meet her and Mr. Bo in person (and they are lovely people), but Bo recently redesigned her website, and man, she is rockin’. Role model, friend, fellow lover of nature, all-around wise soul.
  • Another photographer, Stevo at Asian Ramblings, wows us with the way he documents his life living as an expat in China, plus he’s a friend on Facebook, which means I get to hear what’s really going on in his head. Kidding.
  • If you’ve never visited Jules over at Thinking About…, you have missed some great book and film reviews and a most excellent chicken parmigiana recipe, which, by the way Jules, I made last week and had my family believing that I had been returned from an alien abduction with superior cooking skills. I have since shattered their dream.
  • Corina at Wasted Days and Wasted Nights is another person you must visit if you haven’t already. Her posts are often based on memoir, and what memories she has, not to mention she’s about to become a grandmother. And given that I grew up on Freddy Fender, I was hooked the moment I saw her blog title.
  • You’ll notice we’re drawn to photographers, which leads us to Robin at Life in the Bogs. Excellent photographer and finder of the perfect quote to go with the photograph (although that’s her other blog–Bountiful Healing) and on Bogs we get to share in Robin’s life and her love of nature, especially her ever-changing pond.
  • Heather, Heather, Heather. What can we say about Heather, except, my God, that is one freakin’ funny woman. And she is entering her hour, which is to say, she is the Queen of Hallo-Ween. So if you keep an eye on Anuvue Studio during the month of October, chances are you will see the transformation of her home into a full-blown folks-otta-be-paying-for-this-but-Heather-would-never-make-’em event. Oh, another stellar photographer to boot.

 

So these are the folks we’d like to shine a light on—today. Visit them, comment, relish, noogie, Snoopy dance, high-five. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, and we will do this again, hopefully not before too long, since there are others we’d like to point out and since ya shouldn’t need an award before it dawns on you that the blogging community you’ve been hanging with for a year, two years, some going on three years now—they’re awfully talented and pretty darned special.

Blog on!

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