Sporadic notes on cultural icons

Oscar Wilde was editor of Woman’s World magazine, 1887-89. He also championed conventional attire for men.

John Lennon wore white. Fashion magazines will sometimes run his pic.

During an interview, a tidily dressed David Bowie did a good rendition of Lennon, voice-wise. It was abrupt but went over well.

Allen Ginsberg played finger cymbals and wore black. Ginsberg had a knack for mantra, and children loved him.

Was William Carlos Williams swallowed up by the forest? (The doctor chuckles as he sinks into the white beyond.) Maybe it was a happy death? Continue reading

A cypress’ second life (plus a fun finch fact)

There’s a dead cypress tree in our backyard — a diminished-looking thing that one might otherwise consider an eyesore if it were not for the fact that it attracts birds like a magnet.

A couple of months ago, I spotted a northern flicker perched on one of the parched branches — pretty exciting, considering this is a species I typically spot only when I am up in the higher elevations of nearby Mount Charleston.

Regardless, the primary visitor to the tree for the past few weeks has been the house finch. The males are more interesting to look at due to their auburn flourishes, while the females are drab with their washed-out white and brownish hues.

Still, one interesting aspect of the females I’ve noticed lately through observation is how they throw themselves at the males. It’s funny: Several will gather around a sole male on a branch and make a fuss over it, often ending in unrequited admiration, with the male abruptly fleeing the scene. Continue reading

Bach’s spotless image

I just finished a big fat biography on J.S. Bach. I like his music, but one of my primary reasons for reading it was to gain an understanding of why he’s so sanctified as far as how he’s perceived and recalled in the cultural consciousness. He earned his money primarily from composing music for Christian religious services, so there’s that, resulting in a good chunk of his compositional cache sounding liturgical.

Still, as I made my way through the 600 pages, I had hoped to come across some mention of incidents depicting him as fallible or human rather than untarnished/invincible deity. He did land himself in jail once for insubordination against his employer, but it was a minor incident blown way out of proportion by his superiors. Anyway, it’s interesting how his pristine public persona runs parallel with the saintliness valued in Christianity, especially back in Bach’s day. Continue reading

5 Vignettes

  • The man’s cane made a distinctive tap when he walked, and she always knew it was him without having to look up from her book. The tapping sound had a rattle to it — like there was a broken part.
  • Despite her formidable dry spells, when death was near, she could write. Fear would make her find the words.
  • There were plenty of spaces available in the lot, but for some reason, she took a long time deciding where to park. When she finally pulled into a spot, she exited her car feeling frustrated.
  • She mused that the bookstore employee looked like an insect stripped of its wings. When walking quickly down an aisle, he seemed to be retreating to a crevice. His glasses had thick lenses, and his hair was greasy. His body was undernourished.
  • She no longer felt or looked fat once she put on her yoga pants. She wished she had eaten the spaghetti while wearing them instead of her jeans, which were beyond snug. With her yoga pants on now, she did not feel bad about eating so much pasta, and in fact, she craved more.

On a cold note

Nonfiction stories dealing with surviving harsh rural winters appeal to me — a peculiar penchant.

I also have an affinity for the music of Russian composers, eg. Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.

A parallel?

Chopin, too, is a favorite, and he’s from Poland — right up there, along with Schumann, a German.

Starlings make an appearance

European starlings have been harvesting the trove of black olives that grow in batches on nearly every branch of the tree out back.

Normally, the olives merely fall to the ground and rot, so it’s nice to see the birds using them for sustenance. They take them and fly to the ground, where they shake them violently in their beaks until they split into bite-sized chunks.

The starlings’ plumage is iridescent and more or less echoes the color of the olives. Their dark feathers are offset by a caramel trim along their outer wings, with their bodies speckled in earth tones as if by an artist’s brush. Continue reading

Weather notes

At dusk, the clouds had the same pinkish hue as when the sun was coming up that day. Thus, the sky, to her, was indistinguishable.

The room was chilly, and her cat made her think of the two pigeons she saw earlier at the park. The pair rested on the ground near the gazebo, their feathers puffed up against the cold and damp. And now, her cat rested with its paws beneath its chest, a classic feline configuration.

Bird Man

The Bird Man is on the move. He’s wearing a sweat jacket and a ball cap because it’s cold. It’s 38 degrees this morning, and typically, such as during summer, the Bird Man will wear only an old white T-shirt that you and I might demote to rag status, as well as jeans that no longer can stay put around his pot belly.

Today the Bird Man looks more dressed up than usual due to his navy blue jacket. It seems to be in fine condition and looks warm.

The Bird Man is removing the rocks from the small plastic Tupperware lining his cement wall like battlements. He is emptying the backwash and refilling the vessels with a cheap plastic pitcher of water. Continue reading