Tag: reminiscences

The Film Safari

Back in the olden days, my ex-wife and her family and I tagged along on a film safari at Pyramid Lake, in Nevada.  Hot water, cliffs, rock formations (pyramidal), and desolation on an “Indian” (Pauite) reservation.   Maybe the film safari tagged along with us.  I honestly don’t remember.  

My then-bro-in – law was/is a fantastic idea RISD/ Milan guy, industrial designer.  Think, “Beautiful Life” with snowboards, Japanese board games made from salmon-colored Portland cement,  Christmas package string-wrappings as to be a gift in and of themselves. Fucker was talented, as were my X and her parental units.  We were all having fun.

Anyway, the point of the safari was to shoot film and process it by day, then watch the film that night, tickety-tickety-tickety, onscreen, under the Nevada stars.  

Love-boat and I spent the day paddling around the geo-thermally bubbling Pyramid.  I had the best job in the world, and I wonder sometimes, atheistically, why God assigns us these enormously pleasing tasks.

What did I do to deserve ‘this?  That’s mostly the point, here: you didn’t do anything.  It just wuz.  So much is out of one’s control, let’s not talk about it, any further.

Tents were set-up, both for people and film.  There were barrels of chemicals (transported out afterwards), although, the developing tent was white!.  How did they develop film in a white tent in broad daylight?  What happened there?  My father-in-law was super-talented at stills, no one would deny his Hasselblad, but his darkroom was blind-dark.  I remain foggy on such issues.

Food was eaten.  Drinks were drunk.  Completely a-narrative,  yes, even scratchy, landscape films, cliffs, weeds, and dappling waters, were watched, under black starry skies.  It was a hit.  

And the Oscar goes to…


New Year’s Eve Light Show

Sparkle Plenty

Another year comes to an end.  To tell the truth, I have trouble discerning what makes this New Year’s Eve any better than the last one.  Having seen 61 of them, I’ll estimate that I’ve been somewhat politically aware for about 50 of them…and very few have seemed to bring a better year.  And when there have been years that have been better, it has only been in some ways, not in all, and the improvement has been best measured by a micrometer.

So we start each year with glitz and glamor, hoping against hope that our dreams for a better world will bear some fruit.

Who am I to break such a tradition?

So herewith is my own attempt at a distracting you from any pains you may feel with shiny objects.


I love the subway. Even when it’s crowded. I love the solitude in the crowd. I like the act of faith of hundreds of bodies pressing into a machine so far underground. I like that it has mostly served us well for over a hundred years. I love it when it’s empty. I even probably love it when I’m cursing it, when it’s letting me down. It’s like family. Or it feels like home. Familiar.

I remember riding the subway as a child. My mother holding my hand on the platform. The train literally covered in fantastic, colorful graffiti. I remember one rush hour when I was a young girl, mom clutching me as we squeezed in (or out)–and my shoe, one shoe, was left behind–on the platform, or in the car. I don’t remember what happened after that. I loved falling asleep on mom’s shoulder when we were riding the subway on the way home. Yes, I loved the subway as a child, but I was also taught that it was dangerous, and sometimes, late at night, I have felt that fear.

I love watching people on the subway. I like the sociality. But I like the solitude you can also find in that intimate, public space. I like reading and writing and knitting on the subway. I like doing mindfulness meditation on the subway. My mind often blooms on the subway. Poems or ideas or things to be written bubble up. I take them down. Revisit them later. Leave some as is, subway artifacts, and take others up, tinker, expand.

What is it about the subway that stirs creativity? The noise-cancelling, rhythmic whoosh and rocking–is it like being in the womb? Being underground, in the subway, does it tap the unconscious in a distinctive way?

It’s not just that creativity breeds there. Violence too. I have seen the spontaneous eruption of hatred, racism, burst into physical violence. I have seen teenagers fighting. Children being spanked and hit. Women too. I have sometimes tried to intervene with one sentence, as if to bring someone to their senses. I have then wondered if this didn’t make things worse later.

I’ve seen and been involved in acts of kindness on the subway, too. And moments of shared humor. Or just shared moments. A smile. A conversation. A performance. It’s all there. In the subway. What racist pitcher John Rocker hated about the subway–the mixture and mass of humanity in all of its difference, and glory, and failing, and rage, and vulnerability–I love.

What kind of song of himself, of our world, would Whitman have penned on the subway?

Do you have a subway story? Or an unexpected place that tickles your creative bone? I’ll close out this ditty and turn it over to you with a poem that sprouted up on the subway.


By what right do I

conjure you,

stir you from sleep,

snag your attention,

turn you around?

Would an invitation

blunt the blow

reduce the weight

the freight

of solitude?

Oh, unintended companions,

by rude strokes,

I pray to you on this downtown C.

Tired man, pants rumpled,

I worry for your shoe untied.

I thank you, woman and child,

holding hands, blinking,

silent in the crushing rush

of our wondrous speed.

I see you, young man, opposite corner,

steady in the shelter of a book.

And you and you and you –

all signposts of everything else there is.

Like this, I come to my stop.