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BLOG: SWANS LAST DIVE (inactive) Please see my Crooked Mirror blog

Eduardo Galeano

notes from my journal, June, 2009:

Our evening with Eduardo Galeano. He’s already standing in front of Checkers Hotel, taking in the street, when I arrive to pick him up. He is more stooped than when I saw him at Lannan fifteen years ago. Greyer. Up close he has a more complicated face than I imagined… wrinkles full of smiles around his eyes. He offers an embrace. Even in that walk to the back door of the green room, a mere half block away I am transported to the sidewalks of Montevideo because we are walking so slowly and he is telling me a story, about the airplane, about “being the ham in the sandwich” between two fat men on the flight from Philadelphia, about having to strip so many times for security. There is humor and wisdom in what he has to say. There is no hurrying him, either in the walking or in the talking.  Read More 
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A visit from Buster

Buster Simpson stayed last night on a too-rare visit to Los Angeles. Buster and his artist wife Laura (Sindell) are among our dearest friends. It was thanks to Buster, really, that Lloyd and I met... or met again.

Buster was my next door neighbor in an artists' tenement in Seattle, WA in the early 80's. We all shared garden space in the backyard. Buster did his wash on an old ringer washing machine. In downtown Seattle, he was known as the unofficial Mayor of Belltown, holding court over root pie at the Belltown Cafe. He was already known for his public art which explored ecological issues in then unheard of ways. He placed limestone discs (antacid tablets) into the Hudson River to neutralize the acid rain.

Our building, on Western Avenue just half a mile north of the PIke Place mkt, was originally built for the cannery workers. The back stairs were rickety but the view from my pantry was stunning-- Puget Sound, Myrtle Edwards Park. i could hear the blast of Princess Marguerite, the ferry to Alaska, at night when she docked. I was recovering from a severe car accident and a divorce, writing my first book (The Knowing Body).

Buster told me he was collaborating with a fellow artist named Lloyd Hamrol, on a public art competition in Port Townsend, WA. A benefactor, Ruth Seavey Jackson, had left her fortune to the city: "to create an art work that could be seen from the sea." (and if no artwork were chosen, the money would go to Guide Dogs of the Desert.)

I remembered Lloyd from student art days in Los Angeles. I told Buster I'd enjoy seeing him again. Lloyd and I met gazes on those rickety back stairs. The proverbial lightning bolt struck. Now it's twenty-six years and several cities later, and Buster our dear friend has come to spend the night at our house on Earl Street. in Los Angeles, after giving a talk.

Our Seattle Cupid.

Check out Buster's website:
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to blog or not to blog

In an issue of Harper's, an erratic blogger by the name of Matthew Specktor described blogging's fundamental paradoxes--" the split between publicity and privacy, between Whitmanesque openness and Yeatsian retreat... "

I am more an erratic than a prolific blogger, though I am a prolific emailer and I used to be a prolific letter writer. I still love envelopes with stamps, writing addresses out longhand, taking time to write a long thoughtful letter to a friend. But that happens less and less.

But I digress.

But isn't that the nature of blogging?

There is such a swirl of events racing around me, around you, around all of us. This week saw historic health reform finally pass the House and head on its way to the Senate. I remember Paul Krugman at ALOUD, exactly 18 months ago, predicting that if we got a Dem in the White House, in 18 months we'd have some kind of health care reform. It's been a long slog (rhymes with blog), but I'm grateful for the changes on the way. At ALOUD last week, we hosted writer Tim O'Brien whose commentary on the line between fiction and nonfiction itself deserves a long blog. Misery in Haiti. the explosion of spring in my yard.

But today I will engage in a Yeatsian retreat.
I am primarily devoting the hours I have for writing mind into editing/revising my book THE CROOKED MIRROR.

But to anyone out there who actually reads this... I salute the effort it takes to capture, distill, ponder the swirl of life around us. Happy spring Read More 
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The Souvenir at the Walters

Just home from Baltimore, where I joined museum director Gary Vikan for a conversation about "The Souvenir" at the Walters Art Museum. The museum brought me out in conjunction with a beautiful Japanese art show, delicate cloisonne vases with koi and egrets, pheasants and wisteria. Gary and I discussed the Occupation of Japan, and he noted how surprised he was to learn that the first museum art show in America of Japanese art was not until 1953. When my father went ashore in Wakayama Harbor, he was entering a country, a culture... about which he knew very little, and against which he was deeply prejudiced.

But my father liked what he saw. He even wrote to my mother that he thought the idea of taking off one's shoes before entering a house was a great idea.

One woman in the audience offered the following insight: "At first, I thought your father must have preserved the letters hoping that you would find them. After listening to you, I think your father kept them as a reminder of who he was."  Read More 
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