VINCENT OF DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN


 

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Sparhawk oil portrait of Van Gogh, c. 1999

 

“ONE THING I KNOW:  WITHIN A FEW YEARS I MUST BRING A CERTAIN WORK TO COMPLETION….I AM CONCERNED WITH THE WORLD ONLY INSOFAR AS I HAVE, AS IT WERE, A CERTAIN DEBT AND DUTY, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN ROAMING ABOUT IN IT FOR THIRTY YEARS, AND ALSO BECAUSE I WANT, OUT OF GRATITUDE, TO LEAVE BEHIND A SORT OF REMEMBRANCE IN THE FORM OF DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS–NOT MADE IN ORDER TO PROMOTE THIS OR THAT TREND, BUT ON ACCOUNT OF THEM HAVING IN THEM SOMETHING THAT EXPRESSES A SINCERE HUMAN SENTIMENT. THAT IS THE GOAL OF MY WORK…”

Vincent Van Gogh’s letter to Theo Van Gogh, 1883, from the Hague, on his third year of having begun to be an artist.

I’ve been years writing my autobiography. In it Vincent Van Gogh comes to visit me this one anguished young painter’s night in Brooklyn. I ‘m in my early 20’s, in the clutch of death by brush, not knowing enough to translate my visions to canvas and I have conjured him up. He stays and advises and the most marvelous grand adventures happen in the following year. During which my own story unfolds. My book begins when I am packing up and leaving Yosemite, remembering back decades to that midnight I first saw him.

Constant warfare my whole life.  Like an old soldier now done with war. What were the whirling years, to whom did they  belong.  Not a stranger, no not a stranger.     An earlier me.”

to be continued…………

 

 

DARK & STORMY


APRIL 6, 2017

I came very close to missing this muscular display.

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                                                                    There had been inexplicable crashing outbursts,  sounds of fury signifying who knew what….things carried off my deck by wild winds?   Hurtling through the air endangering aircraft? Planets?

How were the birds reacting?

 Could  my apple tree still be covered in blooms?

DSCF8145I wandered to the great valley windows, then into the larger outdoors…..to discover a sky like I’ve never seen before in my life. 

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It lasted through dark of night, releasing brief  shots of brilliant moon before going black again,DSCF8157 and by dawn had become mist and rain.

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Everything got a good blast of the elements, all of us better off for it, the senses pummeled and thrilled.Apple Tree, Hilltop, early April, 2017

“THE NEW HAT”~ Sparhawk painting


 

“THE NEW HAT”

I painted this years ago in one hot humid summer week.  I was exploring me, testing my mettle on 60 desolate acres in the log cabin I’d rented in Blue Ridge mountains alongside Harper’s Ferry, where I feverishly filled canvases with pictures for a gallery I found that said they’d take me, and filled notebooks with words for the bones of a novel, for which the publisher remains unfound.

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I needed a break. Too broke to shop for real (and DC was about 2 hours east), this was the substitute. Okay, imagine with me: speeding off in a fabulous little (Robin’s egg blue) Sunbeam Alpine convertible (my dilapidated old Ford on its last legs) to an unbelievably divine shop (somewhere) and buying a hat! matching the dress! Not a farm hat but one incapable of protecting from wind or rain or bees, simply THE superb bonnet made for late afternoon drinks in an incredibly gorgeous famous old Washington bar with a handsome poet who just phoned he’d be landing his seaplane on the Shenandoah especially to meet me ~~4:30 sharp  ~or thereabouts. Be there! He could only stay til Wednesday. Before which he’d be ripping off said new hat etc. and we would be lost to lust. So here in the picture, rushed home to try it on, all the bits around including the hatbox and tissue it came in, getting ready for my quick dip in the pond then roaring off on the long and dusty trail to my rendezvous. Oh what a life!

Well, I thought about it all week while I worked on this, and the marvelous fantasy embroidered itself in. Big canvas too, about 7 X 4 feet. It went to the gallery in Middleburg,  Virginia where it did not sell.

The following fall I moved west.  The New Hat  went from east coast storage to garage to covering a broken fireplace flue above the mantelpiece in some godforsaken cottage; then across America in moving vans to horse ranches and eventually slotted into the back of a 1974 Chevy & up the mountains of Yosemite.  There, 7  years later on the day before I moved back to the coast The New Hat sold to the Yosemite gallery owner who’d exhibited my work and fallen in love with it. Which happily covered gas and my first month at a fellow artist’s house in Pebble Beach, a room of my own en suite, the smell and sound of the sea, and the sight of the breakers  below. And some sweet romps with an interesting surfer who never read poetry or wrote it, preferred beer to Benedictine, couldn’t pilot a plane, didn’t like being indoors ever but knew how to handle serious waves and me, and did nice work with fish on a campfire, too.

There’s never any telling where a new hat will take you.

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FLYING SAUCERS OF YOSEMITE


 

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THE  FLYING  SAUCERS  of  YOSEMITE

 

2003 to 2004 I lived in two places and both, though separate, were the gateway mountains  of Yosemite — The High Sierras.  The first place up at 5200 feet is the subject here.  The second was a peculiar old gold miner’s shack at a slightly lower elevation, a place of equal  peculiarities and dangers    (detailed in my splendid story collection: The Gandy Dancer and Other Short Stories, (Amazon et al) which Robert Redford absolutely fell in love with and told me so but for some reason known only to God has not purchased–yet–for movie-making,  because he’d be marvelous in or directing any one of them & I could use the bread). (Also Mr Redford if you missed it read  Charles, The Man Who Lived Through Wars  here, it’s terrific!)

But I digress.  The FLYING SAUCERS OF YOSEMITE are not uncommon.  In fact they’re so common it turns out nobody much says much unless it’s about the one last night on my roof, or did you catch the three in a row doing flips and hurling pods.  There were especial frequencies of the huge triangle-shaped ones blotting out the stars of the spectacular night skies.  That’s how you knew.  You’d be looking up, pulled roadside spooning with a loved one, or solitary–spooning Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough from the carton–and say, “Hey, what happened to the stars over there?  It’s like a big black triangle thingy the size of a football field chewed up the stars, oh wait a minute, that’s one of those flying saucers everybody sees,  all the corners are blinking.  I’ll just leave before they see me…” 

On a lovely day, a day this very same week in March in fact but 14 years ago, I was meandering around the cabin I’d rented.  It was near sundown.  It had been warm and gorgeous. A night of spectacular clarity with a big full moon against fabulous clouds was on its way.  And I was on living top of the highest mountain around, facing west, Bass Lake down below, up higher than Ahwanee.  And this appeared in front of me. Silent.

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This phenomenon unfolded from the start of sundown into the dark of night, a rising moon in cloud cover, and a flying saucer drifting across the sky over a period of easily an hour.  Slow as can be. Stayed pure horizontal no up or down. No sound.  Enough time for me to call a friend from down the hill in town who took 15 maybe 20 minutes to close her shop and arrive.  I took pictures. Here they are. What is it if not a spacecraft from some marvelous place where Earthlings are adored, slowed down to say howdy, headed to (or from) the mother ship.

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I’d love to know what you think.  Or if it’s a message you got that night on your mountain, too.  I know, looks like a duck, flies like a duck. But it’s not a duck.

 

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ROLL YR OWN TAMPAX NEAR ZERO $


 

                                                                  HEY LITTLE GIRL !

 

                                                        ROLL YOUR OWN TAMPAX —

 

                                                                     10 SECONDS —

 

                                                                 NEAR ZERO CENTS  —

 

 

 

          (PS– You DO NOT need a College Education or College Loan or HS Diploma to figure this out)

 

1. SIT ON TOILET, BARE BOTTOM
2. ROLL OUT APPROXIMATELY 24 INCHES OF TOILET PAPER (about 6 sections). (Adjusting length and thickness to heaviness of menstrual flow)
3. FOLD END TO END — IN HALF
4. THEN FOLD END TO END –IN HALF, AGAIN
5. NEXT, ROLL UP INTO A KIND OF SAUSAGE/ M.J. KIND OF THING
(WHICH RESEMBLES TAMPAX!)
6. FOLD ROLLED UP THING IN HALF
7. VOILA. YOU HAVE JUST MADE YOUR OWN TAMPAX
8. INSERT
9. WHEN HOME-MADE TAMPAX IS SATURATED (just like the store-bought kind) it will come out all of its own accord when you next use the toilet. You DO NOT need some pulley string.

Now girls, really.  There seems to be a rising fetish in which shouting out body parts and figuratively rubbing bodily function in the faces of innocents has come to be considered fun.  And crotch-grabbing. (And yes by the way, I too am sick to death of hearing all the jolly updates about erectile dysfunction).

 

Many moons previous (1967) there was a clever movie made called  “TO SIR WITH LOVE”  which saw to the education of rowdy, troubled British high school students. One of them, maybe LULU the dear Brit singer, heaved a soiled pad at the teacher, Sidney Poitier, who did not take kindly to that.  And whereas he did not teach the girls what I have just taught you on this page, the lives of the kiddies was improved because a grown up called them out.

 

Vulgarity does not necessarily rule supreme unless it’s ALL you ever expect for your life.

And forcing tax payers to cover your every expense from cradle to grave is not a sign of cleverness.  Indeed it will cost you more dearly than you have stopped to calculate.

 

The whining feminists of 2017 exhibit a stunning lack of inventiveness, along with the fine American pioneer spirit to be bold, independent,  and resourceful.

 

I ask you, if this is feminism today…why did my mother’s generation fight for the right to vote and wear trousers, and my generation burn our bras and panties and leap through the glass ceilings?

If you want to do some global good for the vagina, fight the female genital mutilation being practiced.

Now THERE’S a cause for a generation.

 

Using the glorious freedom of roll-your-own  —  I have happily worked construction jobs, painted billboards high above Times Square, painted carousels and rides in Coney Island, camped in the woods, sailed in boats, tended bars, climbed pyramids, danced on pianos, ridden horses — and not bled all over myself and others even when I was dead broke and couldn’t afford somebody else’s equipment for my hygiene.  And NOT ONCE chatted up strangers about my private parts and life.

 

Grow up, honey.

If you think you can stand it.

Shut up and roll.

 

GO FIND THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN


 

I just found this movie at the local library and really, you’ve got to find and see this as it will rearrange your brain.  But in a good way.

(LINK TO THE TRAILER IS BELOW)

Adapted from the runaway international best seller: ” THE 100-YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED”.   The biggest  grossing Swedish film of all time.

Directed By FELIX HERNGREN, 2013

                    

                                       Last night as rain relentlessly poured down on droughted old California I was cozied up and eating a fabulous dinner I’d made, awash in a lovely Australian Ruby Port, trying to not roll off the couch laughing because of heretofore unknown, unseen, unheralded (to me) Swedish (heavily subtitled, part in spoken English) movie, featuring the  hysterically funny escapades of my new hero, Allan Karlson, The 100 Year Old Man.

He’s a kind of Scandinavian  Forrest Gump whom we meet as he escapes his boring retirement home. The candles for his ho-humish 100th birthday cake are being set alight in the room next door.  Allan is a long way not finished with living. Out the window he goes.

His past unfolds before us in remarkable flashbacks. There isn’t anything he hasn’t done, improbably unscathed, though –like Forrest– is sort of someone you might not want to spend time with so much as get to know from a distance. Allan loves dynamite more than life itself and most especially blowing things up. The pursuit of which over the course of a hundred years variously gets him locked away,  drafted into world wars, cajoled into fighting the Spanish Civil War, a comradery with Franco, building skyscrapers in NY, a fabulous prisoner of war bit with Einstein’s idiot brother (I know, me too), instructing Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project, advising Stalin, becoming a daring double agent in the Cold War, and  now ~~in present day~~ being chased by a really mean filthy lot of killer Swedish biker thugs called the “NEVER AGAIN” Gang (I know, me too).  Out of necessity, Allan is killing people (only the bad ones) and blowing up a lot of things along the way.  Citizens and cops in pursuit.

Allan has sort of inadvertently stolen millions of dollars from one of the Swedish bikers. Which rightfully belongs to an Aussie gangster. Who is living la vida loco. In Bali. By the time we learn this, Allan’s fallen in with 2 odd fellows with time on their hands, and a really charming pretty young woman whose otherwise useless ex-boyfriend (one of the bikers) shows up hunting for the moolah, then wants to rekindle their romance (he had somewhat redeemed himself once when he rescued a circus elephant for her) (but he’s no longer worth shit). She keeps the elephant, named Sonya, in the barn.

All the wrong people get credit for things they didn’t do of course, the bad guys are sorted out from the good ones, the heroes are made accidentally, the animals do very well, and there you are, it’s worth the time just to be reminded how remarkably we can live without hardly trying. And no it’s not the Mel Brooks 500 year old man which I’d thought in the first place when I took it home.

The filmmaker, director, book author and whole unlikely lot took two years making this strange Swedish opus.  You can’t hardly tell you’re on the planet except everyone’s so human. It’s kind of like you’re somewhere being fed somemores, hearing the story told and you can’t wait for more, and you never have to leave the campfire.

 

 

click here: TRAILER ~~ 100 YEAR OLD MAN