Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Bumper Sticker Anthology – Part IV – Howl If You Heart City Lights Bookstore

Howl if you heart City Lights Bookstore.  The first thing that comes to mind when I think about this one is that we were scheduled to go to California two summers before we actually went.  Christopher’s accidental fall off his Segway, requiring immediate surgery at Boston’s Children’s Hospital caused us to cancel our flights and reservations the night before we were to leave.  So instead of strolling around San Francisco in early June of 2007, I was spending the night in his hospital room at Children’s.  The plan had been to fly to California and drive back across country.  We had looked for a Westphalia to buy while we were there but decided to just rent an SUV to drive back.  In the end it didn’t really matter obviously as we cancelled the trip.  So two summers later we decided to give it another try, only this time we’d just be there for 10 days – fly into San Francisco, spend a few days, and then take two days to drive down the coast – through the Big Sur area – to Los Angeles and spend some time with Rick’s son, Jason. 

Our first full day in San Francisco we spent riding the trolleys, visiting Chinatown, Coit Tower, Vesuvios Bar and City Lights Bookstore, famous hangout of the beats.  Rick left one of his books there, The Beat Handbook, 100 Days of Kerouactions.  A reverse shoplifting or guerilla marketing kind of thing.  A year later he was offered the opportunity to review Helen Weaver’s book about Kerouac for City Lights and he asked them if they’d carry it.  They declined.  But little did they know that they did in fact carry it for some period of time.  Probably ended up in the trash but who knows, maybe some person bought it and City Lights sold it to them, not quite understanding their snafu with the inventory as he/she checked the book out. 

It’s a cool little bookshop, more polished and sterile now I suspect than at the time Ferlinghetti first co-founded it and Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Cassady hung out there.  I bought a couple poetry books, a t-shirt, and the bumper sticker.  The reference to Howl was kind of a double entendre for us as just before we left Maine we’d volunteered with the Wolf Inquiry Project to go out into the woods in western Maine in the middle of the night and howl like a wolf and record any responses we got.  And of course, the obvious reference to Ginsberg’s poem. 

That had been my first, and so far only, trip to CA so I’m a little sad to no longer have a bumper sticker on my car in memory of the trip

Perhaps I’ll order one from their website for the new Forester though that’s not quite the same.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunday, May 2nd

I hear the occasional splash from a fish jumping or an osprey diving for his prey.  It’s humid today, temp about 75.  Pretty nice for early May.   The water level in The Cobb is very low due to repairs being made to New Mills Dam in Gardiner.  The leaves are starting on the trees but the lack of foliage and water makes everything look brown and dead, especially on this slightly overcast day.  Yet there’s plenty of wildlife: there are probably 6 or 8 red squirrels within sight, running through the trees, coming to the feeder.  Many people dislike the little ninjas but I’m kind of fond of their chattering and the way they vibrate with life most every moment of their existence.   I spied one sitting for an hour in a notch in the tree out by the stream this morning.  I seldom see them still for that long.  There’s birdsong all around, red wing black birds, goldfinch, the hairy woodpecker, as well as the ubiquitous osprey.  I saw four of them flying overhead yesterday while sitting on the deck. 

An occasional boater passes lazily by, sometimes with poles cast.   The monkey like sound of what I’m guessing is the pileated woodpecker joins the scene.  I wonder sometimes if it’s a flaw in my character that I can sit here for hours just taking all this in.  “Shouldn’t” I be doing something?  At least pretend to be reading a book?  There is a list of things I should be doing: getting ready to go to Jim Lunt’s 90th birthday party, finish cleaning up after my paint job on the doorway, pack stuff and get ready to leave, but . . . 

I did write a poem today.

They greeted her with smiling faces
their prickly thorns and petals of love
she went about her chores
while the flowers sang their music

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Raku Firing April 2010

We did our raku firing last Thursday night at Malley’s house.  It starts out on a base of lightweight fire brick which you pile your pieces on, and then set and load up two more layers of shelves using regular spacers between them.  We put the asbestos lined chicken wire “kiln” over the shelves and torched it with a propane fired weed burner.  I’d never seen a weed burner before but it’s a pretty big sucker and puts out quite a flame – fifty bucks at your local hardware store.  We let it heat up the kiln for about 45 minutes and very carefully lifted the kiln off the top of the stacked pieces.  Using very long tongs we took each piece off the shelves and gently dropped them into a large tin trashcan filled with some type of combustible material – leaves, sticks, shredded paper.  After each piece goes into the can we threw in more combustible material to give the next piece some cushion.  The various materials make unique colors against each glaze. After they smoke in this for 20 minutes we put them in water.

We used special raku glazes and left parts of the pots unglazed.  The bottoms of the pots turned out a really nice, almost shiny black, just from the charcoal of the fire.  Each glaze has a range of colors it might turn, depending on the temperature of that part of the pot, or what combustible materials it sets against in the smoking part of the process.  It’s a very unpredictable process but with very quick results.  We fired two kilns of pots in about three hours – very different than using an electric kiln where it takes a good 20 hours to heat, fire, and cool down. 

The raku process is not meant for dishware that you’ll be eating from so it has a limited usefulness.  But it makes a very interesting metallic like finish with various colors and patterns in each piece.  Here are some pieces: