Monday, January 4, 2016

Guess I Must Be Having Fun

A red-eye flight, less than four hours sleep and 577 photographs later, I'm back home.

Looking at all those images I took, I'm reminded of how much we saw 2,900 miles from home that's still resonating as I re-adjust to Eastern Standard Time.

I'm thinking of City Lights Bookstore, which I knew only secondhand from reading Neeli Cherkovski's 1979 "Ferlinghetti: A Biography," a signed copy I picked up when our own Chop Suey Books closed the original location and moved to Carytown.

With its clerestory windows and dedicated poetry room on the upper mezzanine full of intense types absorbing poetry, City Lights was a hive of enthusiastic readers and everything a funky bookstore should be.

And speaking of used books, I was hugely impressed with the San Francisco main library's book store, a dedicated area where they sold off titles no longer being checked out, gems such as Henry Pleasants' "The Agony of Modern Music," written in 1955 to lament the direction music was taking.

Oh, Henry, it's a good thing you didn't live to hear the auto-tuned world of today.

Looking at my photos also reminded me of seeing Okura Jiro's "Mountain Lake Screen Tachi," a four panel folding screen completed by the Japanese artist in - wait for it - Virginia.

About the last thing I'd expected to see at the Asian Art Museum in San Fran was something crafted here. Not here here, as in Richmond, but when the artist was in residence at the Mountain Lake Workshop led by composer John Cage in 1990.

What? Sure, I knew about Cage teaching at Black Mountain College in Asheville in the '60s, even about him staging his first "happening" there, but that he'd done something similar in Virginia in the late '80s and '90s? I'd had no clue (no surprise given that my source material predated it) and yet very cool to see this screen made so close to where I'd come from to see it.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized that our major walkabout on New Year's Day constituted a First Day Hike, a tradition I'd first experienced at Pocahontas Park back in 2012. Enjoyable as that had been, it really couldn't compare to the craggy cliffs and dramatic surf of this year's hike.

Unpacked and laundry in process, I sat down to read nine days' worth of Washington Posts awaiting my return. It wasn't tough to relate to music critic Chris Richards' "Mining the Pop for Poetry," something I've been doing my whole life.

Bits of song lyrics have always jumped out at me, not because I need a convenient sound bite to match a shortened attention span, as the writer suggests, but because to me song lyrics have always been part of the everyday poetry of life.

Because who doesn't want that in their life?

So now I'm back in Richmond, reminded of that in myriad ways, first when a music lover tells me he met singer Natalie Prass at Lamplighter today and then when I run into a favorite sous chef when I go to restock my larder at Kroger.

Good old Richmond, as my illustrator friend likes to say.

I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight
Say goodnight...

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