January 18, 2008

There are lots of movies I wouldn’t be ashamed to call my favorite.
Lonesome Dove
Waking Life
Men Don’t Leave
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Sling Blade…
I kinda wanna compulsively sit here and make a list of dozens,
but the point is that when a movie does its job 100%…
well, it doesn’t get much more full than 100%.
100% is 100%, right?
It’s complete.
110% is an alternative reality born out of passion.

But when I get lazy enough to declare a favorite
I say The Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie.
Just because I might only answer with one movie when people ask that question
doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens more movies carrying
fully automatic 100% impacts of their own in their own way.
The Shawshank Redemption just happened to do it for me first.

It’s the same thing with days.
The day after my first show with Ani DiFranco, wandering Earthdance.
My first 8 days in Rotterdam.
The day in college I spent suspending judgment.
The night I got stoned to Bone Machine by Tom Waits.
The day alone at Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, TX.
The day I understood what a moment does, at SuperCamp in Lake Forest, IL.
Day 11 of my first Vipassana experience.
The day with Kealoha in Hawaii.
The day of Edinburgh with Andrea and Katie and Leigh.
Sledding with Dogger and Shona and Rose into board games and hot cocoa and night time.
Camping with Remond and Squid and Carrie and Seth and Shona and Surgue.
I wanna list a dozen more again.
But my first born declared favorite day was July 27, 1997.
Nicole Appel, Daniel Plunkett, Buddy Stevens and Joe Kowalke.
That big bang rode a clear continuum into the night…

We left Stanford University armed with backpacks full of wigs,
capes, water guns, candy, french fries, and affirmations we’d written down on napkins like,
“This is it!” and “If the sun or moon should doubt,
they would immediately go out.” -William Blake
We boarded the BART train headed for San Francisco,
slipped on the necessary gear for a proper Random-Act-of-Kindness Stick-Up,
and when enough unsuspecting passengers
were snug en route, I stood up, water gun pointed in the air, yelled,
“Nobody move! This is a Random-Act-of-Kindness Stick-Up!
Let us be nice to you and no one will get the squirt!”
as my three Super Friends launched out of their seats yellin’ things like,
“Whatever you dream you can also accomplish!” and
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?!” and
“TAKE THE CANDY!” and “Eat these French fries, we’ve got ketchup!”

People were totally stumped. Purses clutched.
It happened so fast.
We were exhilarated.

Emptied of our kindness supplies we sprung back to our four seats facing each other
pretty weirded out by ourselves, breathing heavy, not knowing what to do next,
acting as if.

I remember one woman clapping from her seat
saying loud enough for us to hear,
“Great job you guys.”

There wasn’t much craving or aversion that sensational day.
We passed through the city of San Francisco on laughter and seized moments
from the Wharf to Haight Ashbury where we took to chasing through the woods
gravitating toward what sounded like a funny armageddon dance,
pulling us out into the open.
Seems like there was a path for each of us as we ran over every mud-packed uproot
and out into that clearing where a man sat, surrounded by people,
singing about the universe.

And here I am again in the clearing.

2007 ended for me tonight at Brandeis University
where there was such poetry and a crowd ready to show up thunder.
My original spoken leader spoke. Saul Williams is still Saul Williams
(like amazing still means amazing even if people use the word too much).
And I’m still a wide-eyed wandering baby lookin’ up most days,
but today I’m from 2008 finally
and alive
with joy
honored by full circle
fresh off an electric show
still realizing a dream.

My third retreat into silence at Vipassana spread from December 27th thru January 6th,
so there was no celebrated communal agreement of moving forward with fireworks.
Tonight there was.

The thought of recapping 2007 shuttles my brain into traction.
This last year spanked the hell out of my heart and body
like my mom did when I said “fuck you” to my science teacher in seventh grade.
I felt way too old for the beating, but we (my mom, me and 2007)
had our reasons for doing some of the things we did.
I still hit this year up for lunch money and loved it for the learning,
respected the vessel, had no doubt it was loving me back
even when I was cursing its pictures in an effort to get back at’er.

2007 dangled me out into nonstop solo touring February through April
into the tour with Derrick Brown into
being with the Human the Death Dance Tour for two months
into Nationals and solo shows straight into another van with six folks on
Solomon Sparrow’s Electric Whale Revival straight onto the bus with Ani
straight over to Europe with I Am A Lagan through December directly into Vipassana…
I like to be alone a lot.
2007 absolutely did not have that in the cards
until the end.

In the end it was my favorite tour.
In every sense of that statement.
I’ve been blessed with and created a lot of experiences where I was able
to work in team situations for long periods of time
with vulnerabilities exposed under intense pressure,
but 2007, you sweet ferocious, you taught me best.

Back in June I started to find out how blessings punch people.
During the Human the Death Dance Tour I began to notice
what felt like a swollen nerve inside the crook of my elbow,
running through my bicep, into my shoulder and out onto the back blade.
About eight months later (last week), after not enough time spent at Vipassana to fully heal it,
I realized I would not be able to do some physical training I’ve been planning on if I didn’t get it taken care of,
so I went to a neurological masseuse.
She pressed some pressure points, pulled some triggers,
released a cascade of toxicity that I had been storing
and sent me on my way.

The next day I felt like I had the flu.
The day after that I woke up with a black eye.
No kidding.
That same day on the flight to Salt Lake City I got a bloody nose
and it felt like someone was literally welding inside my arm.
As I sat there with a black eye and bloody nose, arm on fire,
while a woman who told me I reminded her of her son fed me Kleenex,
I grinned, awful big, feeling what 2007 manifested, huge enough for me to look at in detail,
worthy enough to be let go.

If a movie were being filmed inside my arm at that moment
it would have been motion shots of a cactus
(how a cactus sometimes looks like it’s flipping off the sun,
trying to stab it a thousand times)
being run over by a river
of tour buses
rapidly leaving my body.
Left behind: just my vital organs,
and the lagans,
and my grown up thoughts,
like sobriety,
and the realization that I ended 2007

Or maybe the movie inside was focused on a strutting lion,
fresh from a fight with honey badgers,
big cocky king of the jungle,
makin’ his way across some coastline he’s not been before.
And as the camera zooms out we see the lion completely unaware
that he is walking into the wide open mouth of a whale,
and the whale closes his mouth smiling,
smiling, even if the ocean dries up,
even if the sun that took the water away burns out,
and there’s just a big empty space there
where all the moody stars are looking back in on a black hole

There’s a crazy convoy of mirror ball faces to thank for the ride through 2007
into this moment right here right now with you at the mouth,
but I kinda just wanna acknowledge how the rise and fall get tighter,
are working better than ever together, like an exchange of gratitude.

DiThankyou, Solomon’s Human Lagan

P.S. “Lagan: goods (or wreckage) on the sea bed that are attached to a buoy so they can be recovered.”
P.P.S. This is what a crop of Lagan’s looks like:

Leigh Adams, Andrea Gibson, Buddy Wakefield, Katie Wirsing

There are a couple new recordings on the audio page…