In the Kangalee Zone No. 215

                     holyrantcovid

“And if you keep the distance of a moose between you and yourself you’ll be alright.”

                                                                          *

The rocks were black and the waves spilled oil.  Queer snow and purple skies. 

He shivered with delight and exhaustion as he adjusted Cary’s coat and proudly lifted his hood.  He remembered when a hood and just a dash of common sense were all you needed.  How sweet were those illusions, those delusions, and those offensive lies.  The patches of ice melting and the swimming corpses less than six blocks away had proven that maybe they always were, and would be, powerless.

The General never did get Cary transferred to another hospital, but he got him out of the fake hell and into the real one and he was proud to stand with his son as civilization took its last sigh and all he hoped for was a joyful exit.  It saddened him to think of the plastic man who never made it and Maria who poisoned herself with crayons.  Their last remnant of consciousness was four white walls and the stain of dead ladybugs.  But he could no longer reference or rewind.  He pulled Cary up on to his shoulders and they maneuvered with the rest of the tribe eager to exhale and be free one last instant or for the first time in their life…

The cold mountain top. 

Shrubs, hollow berries, and sand that still moved. 

They had made it. 

They achieved the impossible and were able to feel their humanity slip away.  And if they could not fight their disease and the makers of their disease – they could at least mourn for them. These people were able to laugh and cry one last time in the dusk of life.  One last time.  And as the moon began to whistle slowly down towards them, the General closed his boy’s eyes as they all turned to the magistrate and listened to their fate. 

Purple sky.

Queer snow.

Chills not knowing which way to flow.

The magistrate hung on to that final sound of himself clearing his own throat:

“…And the sky rained body parts.”

                                                              *

© from Holy Rant 215 April 4, 2020; excerpt from the short story Where Ladybugs Go to Die, September 9, 2006.

 

They Prefer You Dead

cause you’re safe that way

(all artists are).

Especially the ones with vision. I don’t have vision, at best I’m a dim light bulb flickering in someone’s basement. But I’ll tell you this: the filament in my bulb was anointed with the blood and energy of yours; and what I’ve learned in this concrete jungle, this new age urbane artistic wasteland is to keep not someone’s dream alive – not even my own – but to keep booring holes thru parasols and allow any bit of truth to seep through.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s grave in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. March 2019

The took you cause they thought they owned you–perhaps they did, perhaps
You made your own deal with the devil, who am I to say.
There are certainly no angels to consort with

— but now creeping into the end of the first quarter of the 21st century we will discover one day that

The saints were those who became mistaken martyrs – not because of someone else 
But because of us
And all who let ourselves down
Keep crushing those fingers,
Keep crushing those cray-ons
My soul too needs something to wear.

 

Where Paintings Go to Die

“Great paintings shouldn’t be in museums…Great paintings should be where people hang out.  You can’t see great paintings.  You pay ½ a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it.  That’s not art.  That’s a shame, a crime…it’s not the bomb that has to go, man.  It’s the museums.”

-Bob Dylan, August 1965

Interviewed by Nora Ephron & Susan Edmiston

basquiatpainting
A lonely Basquiat hangs on 57th Street…

At 9 West 57th street home of the Solow Art & Architecture foundation sits some of the most impressive famous modern art works known from Miro to Matisse…

Adjacent to the lobby on the left hand side 25 feet behind the large glass window hangs one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s later paintings, Parts that he created in 1984.  Appearing like a blurred collage, it is a bold dark red painting hosting a drawing of cooked chicken that appears pasted to the canvas, implying the tenets of his earlier street art or a pasted billboard.  Next to it – are charred fragments, his idiosyncratic scribblings, a flame and then to the right of the canvas one his cryptic texts in which the word SNAKES can be made out. The yellow and blue streaks added another layer to the image, granting it a strange tension it might not have otherwise…

But I’m no art critic or expert and I don’t need to be.  I’m simply relaying what I see and feel.

Seeing a Basquiat live is quite impressive.  Not unlike the awesome effect of a Rothko (one of which hung in Christie’s window all summer long during an auction)

In the Solow gallery, the lights come on at 8am and you are immediately impressed.

And then disappointed when you are realize you are not allowed to enter the foundation’s gallery so all the art work hangs on a white lonely wall collecting 5th Avenue dust at best and perhaps a strained glance.  With artwork with an estimated value of TWO HUNDRED MILION DOLLARS – donated to a private foundation of which the New York Real Estate mogul Sheldon Solow is the ONLY MEMBER of – this is a bunker that was created as a TAX SHELTER and since public accessibility is simply out of the question…it actually raises the stature and interest in these artworks because if they cant be seen by some everyday bum poet like me – it must be an important collection…You can make a private donation to the foundation but under no circumstances can you see the artwork up close and in person…you have to try your best to squint pass the glass windows and make out what you can of the Basquiat and Miro’s hanging in there.

Like forgotten bodies on a crucifix.   Which is what most art becomes anyway..there are more eyes that have laid upon a man hanging than a great painting…Lynchings have probably, cumulatively, brought together more people for free in public spaces – than great art work.   And lynchings, too, in the end made money.  They pressed postcards of black men having been lynched.  People collected these.

I’ve always been curious about death and galleries such as the Solow Foundation , may be , in fact, where souls go to die.  You have to have had a soul in order to die. And most artwork – even their creators are malevolent – had souls…and continue to have them…they just eternally linger beneath dust and broken light.  Like vampires who can’t die.

But you don’t have to be John Berger to know that the statement Mr. Solow is making is simply: “I own this. You do not. And never will. ”

Far away from the public and his audience: a Basquiat hangs twenty feet away from the glass window in the lobby of the Solow Building. A painting surrounded by…uninhabited space…dust that will never fall upon a human shoulder…and light unbroken by a bobbing head or footfalls that go to kneel before the holy altar of powerful art. Do not weep for empty churches – for they at least can rejuvenate one.  Even an atheist can gain sense of his soul in an empty church. But it must be empty. It’s the cordoned off, hostile emptiness of a gallery or museum or “personal” foundation that should make us weep…

Imagine if your lover hung on the wall, waiting for you.

*

Originally written for Kangalee’s Cave – © DLK – Revised May 17, 2019

Sins & Trespasses-prologue [Zedekoah excerpt 2]

 We are The Hanging Man

 the invisible,

The Ghost land

The indivisible mind and broken sun

with rays jagged and scattered

As if striking against each parted slice of glass

Broken with the frame

 The mirror is no more

 It is the hanging man, son. Don’t say you saw it. Don’t see him. Lie, if anything. But to see

is to be

And lord knows the hanging man

Is me.

*

Philip K. Dick, circa 1970, with his cat [photographer unknown]
There is a Philip K. Dick story “The Hanging Stranger” that sums up our problem in 21st-century pop culture, academia, and so-called cultural establishment which is this: we claim the emperor’s wearing clothes…when he’s not even an emperor.

In Dick’s story, only the conscious can see “the hanging man” whose bloated body twists in the town square

And so the aliens who have taken over must remove them one by one. They know you’re a conscious person simply if you panic and recoil in horror at the sight of a hanging person. The minute you mention it is the minute you are persona non grata. And you will be swiftly terminated. It is a phenomenal metaphor to the blacklisted genius or simply the truth-seeking artist. It is anyone who does not follow the rules, marches to his own beat, and knows – but can’t prove – that the system is not only rigged but insidious.

It’s what’s occurring right now at this very moment in formal activism, it’s what’s already destroyed institutes of higher learning.  And it has killed – if not erased completely – organized art.

There is a Nina Simone recording which sums up Dick’s story in music.

The song, Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, written by the oddball British songwriter Jonathan King, is a bizarre rendering of a world losing its grip on consciousness and ‘morality’ for lack of a better word. As if we’re through the looking glass and up is down, bad is good, etc. This is a gross simplification but the point is that by the end of the song the singer wonders if everyone has gone to the moon instead of the sun as she might prefer – so what will happen to us/to life as we know it?

 

The Essential Nina Simone Vol. 2 (RCA) contains songs of empathy, distress, love, and protest. “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” can be found here.

It was a junkie who first told me that the song was simply about getting high and what would happen if everybody junked out.  Of course, the great irony in all this is that most gravely ill junkies or hardcore abusers are addicts who know that the world they are living in is not upside down, but right-side up in a world turned upside-down. People released from jail sometimes have a better perception of this because they see life as clear John Berger clearly explained it – the 21st century is nothing but one massive prison system.

Simone’s interpretation of Everyone’s Gone to the Moon is a freaky and majestic absurdist turn. In her high priestess wail, she is sincere and yet there’s a faint sound of nonchalance in her voice, almost – almost– as if she doesn’t have the strength to care. It is haunting because she’s alone. Everyone around her has decided to not see the hanging man.

What does this mean?

*

Our casemate has been infiltrated, we may not have much of an arsenal, but at least we had our own embrasures through which cinematic torpedoes and art could be launched.

 

________________

 

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