Thursday, January 28, 2016

Worrying Kind

First the Gin Store, then the Thai Massage.  Gone. What in Holy’s name is coming to the world, otherwise seen as the other side of my street? That leaves the Sex Shop and the Drug Paraphernalia Establishment. Is my primal view entering in a gentrification phase, heading into a different reading of the slogan “Liberal Arts,” that granular freedom from our bodily prisons? Here comes Java I thought. Or more bike stores, I assessed looking at the Bike Store across the street.

“They left,” swaggered the tabloid, hoisting up its trousers and scratching its balls, “Amsterdam to save their marriage.” A shocker. Photo of geraniums on farm, blue jeans in sun, ragged surroundings needing a paint job.  Detox city for wood. Is Amsterdam the capital of vice?  The sinker and stinker of marriages, the rampant offerings of temptation?  And cow patties the answer?

What do I know?  Perhaps for some….maybe we need more Java stores.

I was sitting in the waiting room eyeing the tabloids. I was worrying as well.  I mean what would the surgeon think of me eyeing the tabloids? I wanted to come across as intelligent. Frankly I don’t know why I worry so much. He was puttering back and forth from his office to the reception with each patient.  I was back for my final check. I felt fine, other than the worrying. Maybe it was the place, I mean hospitals should make us worry, otherwise we might be delusional.

“I was convinced, convinced it was on Thursday,” the woman in a beige coat and 70 year old hair complained to the reception, “but now I realize I made a huge mistake.” We were sitting in Thursday. “I was supposed to come on Tuesday.” She repeated to herself her mistake, her ancient husband sat next to her silent. “It’s really rather stupid of me.” She fretted.  “Stupid.” She twittered on about it until she was called into a consultation room. The door shut. “It can happen to anyone.” Her husband said clearly to no-one in particular.

But really I wondered sitting on the 13 back to the center, listening to a quintessential Amsterdam accent over the tram’s loudspeakers, the sun was shining, my grocery list was forming in my mind, what vice?  Salad, apple, soda water, potato chips the really greasy kind, and maybe some cold cuts. Stones, I added to my list. Maybe I should put stones into the pots.  Or a gadget….as my colleague suggested.

“Just wait for the tourists to leave,” she paused in between clicks.  I was lying on my stomach in the rain on a fairytale bridge in front of my latest project, my A(msterdam) Pot Poems.  We were having a photo shoot. “You need to put something else in there,” she advised, “besides the poem.”  I held an A(msterdam) Pot Poem in each hand in front of a house. The wind nearly blew them out of my hands. Worldly temptation I’m guessing.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A New Word a Week

A simple request to self, a simple resolution – to learn a word a week. 2016. Various languages. Whichever.

“Okay, so hey guys we have been commissioned to perform piece involving opera singers and an urban poet.”

The urban poet was intuiting, reading Google for material. “You have to watch out,” I warned, “when there is a catastrophe the big companies buy the top spots on word combinations and the critiques sink to the bottom of the pond.”

“Are they commemorating a death?” We all looked at the commission instructions for the private bash. A short poem had been specifically requested and Bach’s “Erbarme dich.”

“Someone died.” Stated the urban poet shaking his head. Indeed the poem was a nostalgic and macabre ode to a child’s death.

“No!” Our agent, organizer and colleague replied vehemently. “I am sure that no one has died.”

“It can’t be otherwise! I mean look at the thing!” retorted the poet. “You two definitely cannot wear those black feather wings. This is going to be bad!” His sneakers looked brand new. He meant bad as in disaster.

I translated the poem the company provided from Dutch to English. The urban poet wrote his own text to spit.

“It’s called spitting.” My upper class British friend explained to me in her public school accent. “Not rapping.” I was telling her about the urban poet. Frankly I am not sure he recited or spat but it whatever you call it these days, but it was a big success.

“Can you give us a light version of Erbarme dich?” Came the amended request per email, tcha - nerves were showing, in light if the festivities.

“Look,” said the organizer to me and the other singer in another rehearsal, “Just hum the first line of Erbarme dich when C. says X and Y. And I think your faces should be painted gold.”

Afterwards, crusted in gold paint, we all congratulated each other down stairs in the kitchen. “I’m glad,” the organizer said to me, “you two didn’t improvise on any more Erbarme dich while C.  finished his poem.”

Logorrhéique, my new French word of the week, especially wearing a pair of black feather wings.  Figure out when to stop.


Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 The Starts

Persephone here.

I recently read a website of an educator-writer and he started his webpage thus a la: I am here.  In a Picasso-esque theft for this blog post I chose artlessness to imitate such minimal art.

Moving into the next phase, this blog, an eight year old, has been useful and doubtless will continue to be, but I have also begun a new one.

“Do you know what he looks like?” asked the museum administrator to me nervously about the famous creator of the situations we had been enacting at the Stedelijk Museum. “He’s in the house. Blue bubble jacket, brown slacks, black rimmed glasses.”

I did not.  Had he inspected my performance?  I knew not. I performed the routine I was hired to perform.  Dressing for my performance, I met a group of people who were rehearsing the next piece coming up in December. I wondered where the museum staff had found such a ragged looking lot.  “Occupation.” One informed me of the title of their piece.

“Yeah,” a sour faced colleague explained in a whiny voice during our break, “You know, the 99 percent. They just hired some homeless people.” Okay to be clear, to be really homeless in the Netherlands takes quite some work. The social system is pretty tight. These homeless people had had showers and wore donated sweaters, and were living someplace temporarily with kitchen amenities.  If they were also looking for work, then they would have been directed to this kind of stint.  “This is occupation.” The man sang at me in the dressing room using the same tune that I had been instructed to sing.

“I don’t want to go on unemployment.” An impoverished friend said in exasperation, “It’s all changed since I was last on unemployment twenty years ago.  They expect artists to go work as toilet cleaning personnel now. Anything goes, no respect.”

A musician I know was battling the system, threatened being sent out to apply to work packing stations at retail warehouses after earning a Masters.  She finally combined enough hours of teaching to get off the books.

Alright back to me and getting "off the books": My vocal coach rolled her eyes at me when I mentioned my lapsed vocal resume as a joke. Lists, I must make better lists. Check: Page for Being a Singer. Check: Blog for scribbling poems. 

In the meantime the main operational function of this blog, the fictional and non-fictional books on Gouda, will continue because maybe 2016 will be the year our second Gouda book finally makes it out into the wide world.  We got the printed draft in the mail this week.