Monday, August 31, 2009
29 August 2009. All gray, fall. Back to home base: an old car--venerable--moored on the edge of 7-eleven lot. Lee K. in the distance, hood up, decals attached, bending forward over borrowed Safeway cart, picking rapidly through cans and bottles. In one a hand: a white plastic bag. Streetlight stancheon, sans gull, white globe against the sky.
Smile of lifeguard girl, bundled up behind the glass, open book held in both hands--the name Franz in bold, with wide pale surname just behind.
Messages and meanings. They arrive in trust, with an element of hope. Sometimes sad--and we hope again.
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 9:49 AM No comments:
Friday, August 28, 2009
28 August 2009. Myrtle sky, white streamers on pale blue, more heat in store...
The Imperial Valley, 115 in the shade, miles and miles of cantelope, honeydue, no one's home. Aunt Sis and the bar in El Centro--a long, dark affair, even at noon, smell of alchohol from the night before, and the night before that. The growers--close up to a cold beer, a Jim Beam, a whiskey sour. Desert drinks--gripped--to break the spell...
Alfredo Zitarrosa--an Uruguayan prince. His commanding articulation, no matter the song. Dark suit, bien gomado, muy formal. He delivers a copla, hands emphasizing each shift in meaning--a definiteness even when the mood remains lighthearted--as if the price of sorrow were a smile...
"...y no pasen los franceses..."
* * *
(gomina--the old-style hair wax used by men in Argentina and Uruguay. "...y pasen los franceses...," a fragment of a line from the song...)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 4:15 PM No comments:
Thursday, August 27, 2009
27 August 2009. Mild California morning sun, even the driver of immense 7-up truck (pulled in just across the street) relaxed, texting away, high up in his cab...
The driveway in Oceanside, Fowles Street, ten years past. These same mornings. San Diego light, soft and filtered, raking the jacaranda. No one there but me. My father's garden, below, in the canyon. His trees a kind of testament-- avocado, fuerte and hass, the meyer lemon and bartlett pear... All the names. Wearing his old shorts, tied with a rope, the worn short-sleeved shirt (Walters Mens Wear) and a towell over his shoulder. The monarch butterfly appears--hovering--and he holds up a finger as improvised landing spot, all the time with eyes on their shadows on the ground... A kind of knowledge, material and irreplaceable...
As with Atilio Reynoso--his estilo viejo, from the plains of Argentina...
* * *
(Sureño--of the southland...)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:02 AM No comments:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
26 August 2009. Filtered sun--another beginning.
Sitting with Lisa and Michael at small table outside--inquisitive conspirators in a late work by Michelangelo Antonioni--filmed on a California afternoon. Students and students and students. Young man with Asian face holding single canoe paddle as he makes his way across Piedmont with a bevy of new friends. Two girls in shorts, smiling at one other. Another with narrow, pensive face, deepset eyes...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:11 AM No comments:
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
25 August 2009. Gray, like fall. Warm face of lifeguard girl, smiling, coffee in covered paper cup and what looks to be a delicious bagle with cream cheese and lox. Luxuries of seven am...
A glance at email. Misplaced personal belongings--as in tenderness, or affection. Indelible commodity, with clumsy fit in the public realm. Acts of pulling back--families become surnames, relatives facebook accounts, friends a set of initials. Not single ones, as in "m." but doubled, in capital letters, instrumental and efficient, inserted at the end in miniaturized act of defiance. Like the wearing of coat and tie--or the armor of a three-piece suit. Impervious...
Bureaus and bureaucracies, things slipped into drawers, the mystery of the paper process, the rotary file, the spell check...
A man and a horse, in a field. "La yegua es la mejor amiga del hombre... ¿Qué duda cabe?
* * *
("A mare is a man's best friend..." What doubt could there be?)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:20 AM No comments:
Monday, August 24, 2009
24 August 2009. Cloudy gray, with hint of sun, early fall. Grizzled man in soft orange ski cap, heavy work clothes, clear wrap-around shades, his gloved hand on diagonal truck lever--raising and lowering the toter cans. Humanizing a landscape of industry, if only for an instant...
Then--sudden sound of crash--heads turn up and down the street. A dark American behemoth with silver grill backs full-force into waiting guard rail of the old Navigator Escrow building. An unintentional attack on capitalism at its very root...
People gather, watch, silent, arms at their sides...
Political theory of the pampas. A chestnut colored mare--yegua--muscles taut, coat distinct, racing ahead. Exhilaration of unboundedness.
"...entre los camalotes de la corriente zaina..."
* * *
("...amidst the floating camalote roots of a horse-brown current..., " Jorge Luís Borges, La Fundación Mítica de Buenos Aires)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 10:59 AM No comments:
Friday, August 21, 2009
21 August 2009. Chilly mist at edge of pool, almost fall. Later--sun pushing through gray. Mo with his back turned, behind 7-eleven counter, stacking cartons of smokes. The order of commerce. Yesterday--a basket of figs--dark velvet blacks, tiny gold-red seeds within.
"I want to be a farmer," the girl, Valerie, in produce aisle, El Cerrito Natural Foods. She leads me to the tofu case, smiling--"this one is really good"-- the jalapeño smoked from Tofu Yu. And who could refuse?
The ways of the world, as of old. Two Tahitian maidens, side by side. Their veiled eyes averted--in modesty and dream. Gauguin's carved wooden platter of crimson-orange fruit, a pink bouquet. Single pale earing--a bit of coral.
From the sea, as are we all...
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Thursday, August 20, 2009
20 August 2009. Chill bay winds, gray skies. Empty lanes in pool as early swimmers scurry to the changing rooms. Ripply black lines along the bottom...
Or another kind of pool--"en la pila del bautismo." Words from songs, taking on renewed meaning each time they're remembered, or in the singing. Atahualpa's version--el canto del viento. Hilachitas--threads of song, picked up by the wind from all over the land--cerros, montes, ríos--carried up into the heavens, then let go again, one by one, to be gathered by those who listen...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 10:34 AM No comments:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
19 August 2009. Beautiful gray morning, scant car or two up and down San Pablo, dawn. Studio light, early. Reading of work in the California woods...a set of tools laid out just so on open ground. Sabina. Draw knife, axe, branch cutter, slege--tools for labor of an intensive sort, carried on in solitude. Solitude and sweat, no doubt--the single ladder moved from spot to spot, the domestic squabbles and re-sitings, new layers of granite skirt to accomodate--all in the lived moment, later in thought. Unable to speak for months after, as if to hide--but no, a matter of patient waiting, till all comes pouring forth...
In one sweep, like Gauguin's wave on the Tahitian beach, long ago--lithe figures on horseback, another sort of accomodation--beauty in the fit.
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 2:44 PM No comments:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
18 August 2009. Gray morning. Eritrean youth in Stockton Avenue 7-eleven, behind the counter, just before eight. "A small coffee?" His slight smile, and then, after several weeks of visits, a subtle thumbs up as well. "Have a good morning."
Today--desert sands, a camel by request. Taking a close look--this ungainly lass. But the length of bone, and in-pulled hide, back legs splayed wide over padded feet. Narrow ridgebone of back line, wobbly knees. But wait until she walks, or begins to run. Kneeling, even. The essence of a certain kind grace. Forelegs tucked under chest and neck, head up, outstretched in eager gesture. All attentive. Then she rises. Hump up first, forelegs follow, a few gingerly steps. This nimble balancing...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 10:23 AM No comments:
Monday, August 17, 2009
17 August 2009. Mid-afternoon, flash of Oceanside on a summer's day. Salt breeze, warm sand, glittery sea. Endless wind-tossed waves, rolling endlessly in... Pepe (now this a long time back)--mop of blond hair, surfer's build, leaning forward over worn guitar--the narrow Spanish wood a pathway to other places, other times.
Infallible, maybe--like the palm-fronds plaited into beach hats--tropical isle--or blocks of whitish parrafin scraped across width of polyurethane board, peppery rick-rack for a better grip. Yes, power of the toes, turning left off the face of smooth green wave--five feet and glassy--powered higher and higher by some current unknown...
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Friday, August 14, 2009
14 August 2009. Late summer, cool morning. Pool girl in ski cap girl slides open office window, smiling. Three swimmers, under water, chests up, fins, dolphin surge...
Insistent and unexpected... A milonga campera, played en homenaje... Family photos in faded black and white--a little girl and her father together on a bike, she sits just in front, between his arms. Group of figures in front of a truck, leaning back on the hood, arms akimbo, their sons piled on just behind. A trio of men, standing straight, before heavy burlap bags of Argentine wheat, stacked high over their heads...
"...a vos Viejo, que hace 7 años te fuiste para el silencio, pero tus consejos son palabras que orientan mi vida a cada día. Te mando esta canción que siempre cantabas y tocabas tan lindo, 'Gracias Benjamín Buisi por haber sido mi Papá.' "
* * *
"...to you, Viejo (old man, always said with a combination of respect, endearment and just a touch of the younger man's need to challenge) it's now 7 years since you left for the Silence, but each day your words of advice continue to orient my life. I send you this song, the one that you used to sing and play so nicely. 'Thank you Benjamin Buisi for having been my father.' "
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:14 AM No comments:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
13 August 2009. Golden sky, cool blue green pool. Lithe figure next door, tiny red toes...
Atilio Reynoso--a triunfo (my transcription in progress):
Mi caballo atado
alla relinchando, 'lla relinchando
Dejelo que relinche
yo estoy cansando, yo estoy cansando...
Este es el triunfo, triunfo
de las mujeres, de las mujeres
Que bonito lo vayan
cuando ellas quieren, cuando ellas quieren...
Una gallina vaya
y un gallo vero
Son las primeras etapas
de un pueblo nuevo...
Este es el triunfo, triunfo
cantar de mi alma, cantar de mi alma
Hacia más dulce la muerte
que la vida amarga...
* * *
My horse is tied up
neighing and neighing
So let him neigh,
This the triunfo, the triunfo
about all women, about the women
How nicely it goes
when they wish it, when they wish it...
A chicken makes her way
and a real rooster
They're the first steps
towards a new pueblo...
This is a triunfo, a triunfo
the song of my soul, the song of my soul
where death becomes more sweet
than this bitter life...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:19 AM No comments:
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
12 August 2009. Sunny, maybe warm. Broken clouds, shimmering pool...
Alfredo Zitarrosa... El chogüí--celestino común--the sayaca tanager, from the litoral... los ríos del Uruguay...
"Habita generalmente los matorrales, muy rara vez están en el piso. El nido lo construyen con mucha prolijidad en las ramas más altas de los árboles, con palitos entrelazados y hojitas secas. La parte interna tiene líquenes y pastos finos recubiertos de musgos. Se los encuentra en parejas o pequeñas bandadas. Al comienzo de la primavera se juntan con las otras aves que migran."
Al compadre Juan Miguel
no le pagan el jornal,
y aunque no haiga de comer
lo mesmo, hay que trabajar
Pobre compadre Juan Miguel
la vida le ha toca'o...
(from the beginning of a chamarrita--Coplas al compadre Juan Miguel)
* * *
(Inhabits brushland primarily, very rarely seen on the ground. They construct their nests with great elaboration in the highest branches of the trees, made with interlaced twigs and dry leaves. The interiors have lichens and fine grasses covered with moss. Encountered in pairs or small flocks. At the beginning of spring they join together with other migratory birds...)
To my compadre Juan Miguel
they don't pay him his daily wage,
and even though there's nothing to eat
all the same, you have to work
To my compadre Juan Miguel
Life has given him a knock...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 10:53 AM 1 comment:
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
11 August 2009. Gray skies, even all across...
Coplas de carnaval--Tilcara, Salta, in the far northwest of Argentina. Verses at the time of Carnaval. A woman's voice, chanting. Steady beating of a drum...
Solita soy en el mundo
solita como el cardón
de noche me da la luna
media' me pega el sol...
El carnaval es un río
y andamos mojando la vida
los que seguimos creyendo
que la tristeza se olvida...
La naranja nació verde
el tiempo la maduró...
mi corazón nació libre
y el tuyo lo cautivó...
Las sabanas de mi cama
toda la noche las lavo
con lagrimas de mis ojos
al ver que me has olvidado...
Si me querés dímelo
y si no, dame veneno
que yo prefiero la muerte
que verte en brazos ajenos...
La pena y la que no pena
toda es pena para mi
Ayer penaba por verte
hoy pena' te vi...
* * *
I am all alone in the world
all alone like a cactus plant
in the night, lit by the moon
in the day, beaten by the sun...
Carnaval is like a river
we go along, getting our lives wet
those of us who continue believing
that sorrow can be forgotten...
The orange was born green
time made her ripe
my heart was born free
and yours made her a captive...
The sheets of my bed
all night long I soak them
with the tears from my eyes
on seeing that you have forgotten me...
If you do love me, tell me so
and if not, then give me poison
for I prefer death
to seeing you in the arms of another...
Pain and even the which isn't pain
all is pain for me
yesterday, I was paining to see you
and today, pained that I did...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:53 AM No comments:
Monday, August 10, 2009
10 August 2009. Sun, warm day. Blue green pool, churners...
Piedra y camino--Atahualp Yupanqui. Born Héctor Roberto Chavero, in Pergamino, a railway town on the open plains of the Provincia de Buenos Aires... His father had lived as a gaucho, but took a job with the railroad for the security of his new family; they moved often from stationhouse to stationhouse, across the llanura...
"Mi padre era poco amigo de explicaciones. Pienso que tal vez prefería enfrentarse al paisaje, a los hombres, a las cosas que pueden ayudar a entender la vida, para que poco a poco yo sacara mis propias conclusiones. Tenía, sí, el buen tacto de no ofrecerme espectáculos. Muchas veces, con una mirada o una palabra, me ordenaba alejarme de gentes que él no consideraba oportunas o dignas para mis ojos... Me cuidaba sin que yo me percatara. Jamás tuve mejor baquiano que mi padre, en la pampa y en la vida." (El canto del viento)
* * *
(My father was little friend of explanations. I think that he preferred to confront the landscape, people, the things that help one understand life, in order that little by little I might draw my own conclusions. Yes, he had the good tact not to show me vulgaritiers. Many the time, with a glance or a word, he would order me to distance myself from the types that he didn't consider worthwhile or dignified enough for my eyes... He looked out for me without my noticing. I never had a better guide than my father, on the pampa or in life...)
(The Song of the Wind)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:24 AM No comments:
Friday, August 07, 2009
7 August 2009. Linda mañana. Open skies to the east, shimmering gold on blue.
An older woman with aluminum cane just to my side in the coffee line, reaches across my wrist to a box filled with bright crimson foil-wrapped chocolates. I approve of her choice. Then she, in a soft and very British English: "I'm not supposed to. I'm diabetic, you know. But I'll die happy..." Again reaching, to almost touch my arm...
"...where the pleasures are few." Lines from a song--Merle Travis, at night, in his car somewhere in LA, sitting under a streetlamp, lady friend alongside--scribbling out the lines to a song...
Or the Argentine, father and daughter together on a stage. His enveloping presence--her wonderfully almost-innocent confidence. To make a place for this in the world...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:00 AM No comments:
Thursday, August 06, 2009
6 August 2009. Pearl clouds across the sky, opening onto blue-green pool...
Three figures, compañeros... los árboles de la provincia de Santa Fé...
Orlando Vera Cruz...singing the words to a poem...
Y mi amigo es el hombre entre los hombres.
Él y la rosa son lo mismo;
él y la hierba cuando vuelve,
a pesar del cuchillo...
* * *
And my friend is a man among men.
He and the rose are the same;
he and the grass when it returns,
the grass despite the blade that cuts...
(from the poem Cárcel, by José Pedroni)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 4:52 PM No comments:
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Pulling out of 7-eleven--latino tradesman in polished black double-cab open-backed truck, the one with the braided silver trim--muy elegante--gives a wave through tinted glass. Glimpse of wide smile, fleeting...
Atilio Reynoso--always a kind of return. Again, un estilo viejo, played in open sixths, the melody shifting from above to below, and back again. But what do I know of this--a sound discovered, really. Happened upon. Fields of grass--all the words--pajonal, gramilla, pastillo--yuyos, cardón-- carrizo de las pampas...
El viento estremece...
The music as well...
* * *
(El viento estremece... The wind makes tremble...)
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 10:55 AM No comments:
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
4 August 2009. Almost sun, gray and blue. Smiling woman in pool, arc of even teeth in an ancient Chinese face. Continuities...
Coya, people of the far northwest, spread of Inca lands up and down the Andean chain, including the Argentine provinces of Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán. Face of Garcilaso de la Vega--El Inca Garcilaso--his narrow, arched Castilian nose, high forehead, pointed features--that single slice of white collar above the Spanish black... His mother an Inca princess...
Or Santiago del Estero, where a dignified older woman stands before a microphone with caja drum, her hair a gray blond, preparing to sing. Outdoors, sound of people's voices, unseen, children too. A call of encouragement from someone in the crowd: "Bravo, bravo Bajia..." Aware of all this, yet very much in her own realm. A time of song, a lifetime...
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:01 AM No comments:
Monday, August 03, 2009
2 August 2009. Autumn approaching. Yesterday--dear Gabryela's birthday, Warszawa. Pierwszy Sierpien´--day of the powstanie, the Warsaw Uprising, from a quarter of a century before.
As with the palm--a rebirth. Rosita Quiroga, seated against a backdrop of empty wooden chairs--Thonet, Loos, Mitteleuropa... but here it's Puente Alsina, and the old Buenos Aires--Riachuelo, La Boca... "Donde está mi barrio--mi cuna querida...?"
"...nuestros vecinos eran los Quinquela Martín. Cantaba milongas, estilos, zambas, vidalas... Después me incliné al tango--pero el tango arrebalero..." "Y quantos años tiene?" "Pero ché, me estas embromando... Soy tan vieja como la biblia... Pero si, puedo cantar este tango..."
* * *
"My neighborhood--where is it--my cradle, the one I love...?"
"Our neighbors were the family of (painter) Quinquela Martín. I was singing milongas, estilos, zambas, vidalas. Afterwards I was drawn to the tango--but the tango arrebalera (tango of the outer districts, the rough periphery). "And how old are you now?" "but che, you're joking with me. I'm as old as the Bible... But yes, I can still sing this tango..."
Posted by Anthony Dubovsky at 11:30 AM No comments:
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