March 1-8 Caught a Greyhound to Flagstaff, Arizona a small town filled with plenty of young, wannabe easyriders. As my luck would have it, it started to snow and get very cold here too. Most everyone I came across looked like a flower child. The young ladies I spoke to seemed right out of the 60's yet had British accents?!. I thought about Herman Berlandt (the ultimate hippie-poet) and thought that a great many of these people looked the part but seemed to lack the kind of inner poetry that is so apparent in the H-man. Give them time since, afterall, they were young, from some place else, looking for something better.
Back on the bus to Phoenix the very next day. Found a nice, clean inexpensive place to stay for a while. The rain seemed to follow me into Phoenix. Now, I don't really mind the rain. It's just that I didn't bring an umbrella with me on this trip. Downtown Phoenix is quite small with not a whole lot going on day or night. It's very pretty though and, according to the local papers, the civic types want to bring in artists to the area to help make downtown a hip place to be. Rents are extremely low, even for the newer complexes which brush up against dusky technology business towers. Arizona is very much wired for several reasons. One being that many people commute between here and Seattle for the weather and cheap housing. Passing in front of an old church, it started to drizzle again and my cell phone rang. It was Carlos Pacheco, a friend I've known since St. Matt'sr and high school. He now lives in Scottsdale with his new bride Christine and there doggy Alley. We agreed I'd come stay with them for a night at their house on the edge of town. Carlos's house has a nice old gate and a fountain that sits in front of the doorway. I joked that they should consider having champagne flow from the fountain when guests visit. He thought it impractical. I met their dog, Alley, a fun, happy labrador filled with frantic, playful energy. "The perfect Pacheco dog", I thought. Alley and I hit it off immediately. I spent the day with Carlos catching up on "San Mateo People" news and beating him soundly at various poolhall games.
Later, the Pachecos and I went out for dinner and drinks in the "hip- sandbox" of Scottsdale. We ate at P.F Changs, drank wine and talked. It's always nice to see newlyweds in action and they were happy together and made me feel very welcome in their town. We polished off a few bottles of wine and headed to a popular hangout that served various kinds of martinis. I was happy to find out that all of the drinking did not make for a hangover morning. After a drowsy breakfast the next day, I headed back to my hotel room on the other side of town. It was nice seeing Carlos and getting to know his lovely wife. He's one of the few friends I grew up with who actually uprooted from the Bay Area to start a new life somewhere else. For him, Arizona seems to have been a very good choice in many ways. Just between you and me, they plan on starting a family in the fall. Best of luck to both of them!
March 9-12 Weather permitting, I spent the majority of the time hiking in the Arizona mountains. It was perfect training for what lies ahead. The weather, cloud formations and sparse trails made this period a semi-spiritual one. Intimately, the southwestern sky opens up and seems to stretch forever in every direction. The desert environment never got above 65 or lower than 50 degrees. One could walk through valleys and up mountains all day under these conditions and I did so. There is something calming about the desert region. I walked for hours each day almost in a daze as if angels descended from the sky and covered my face with wet, warm kisses. A menage-a-trois between me, the sky and the land with every step to the beat of bird chirps and deep silence. It must have been quite an experience for the ancient settlers of this land to stand atop the highest peak and see and hear nothing but sense everything great about the earth simply by standing still and stretching arms wide enough to embrace a universe of pain and happiness. This truly must have seemed like a paradise then. Unpolluted by science and psychological knowledge. Now the occasional jet plane and mountain biker snaps me out of my sensual relation to the earth and sky.
Heading to New Orleans for a week to edit one cinepoem and shoot another. I'll end this journal with one of the oldest poems ever recorded by the world's first known author, a Sumerian woman named Enheduanna, who wrote of her admiration and irritation toward Inanna, goddess of Venus. This 4,000-year-old poem was originally scripted on clay tablets. I like it because she sees something obviously beautiful, yet terrifyingly mysterious.
Queen of all given powers unveiled clear light unfailing woman wearing brilliance cherished in heaven and earth chosen, sanctified in heaven you grand in your adornments crowned with your beloved goodness rightfully you are High Priestess your hands seize the seven fixed powers my queen of fundamental forces guardian of essential cosmic sources you lift up the elements bind them to your hands gather in powers press them to your breast vicious dragon you spew venom poisons the land like the storm god you howl grain wilts on the ground swollen flood rushing down the mountain you are Inanna supreme in heaven and earth...
March 12-19 Arriving in the swamp called New Orleans, things started did not start out well. Somehow, my very secure black army vest jacket was ripped from my duffel bag probably at the Phoenix airport baggage machine. I lost most of my little "survival" items, which is not a big deal, and my passport which is a big deal. I had just received my passport a week ago and now I have to go order another one and wait 2 weeks to receive it. I don't like the sign of losing TWO passports in the course of less than a year. Next time, I will glue it to my ass.
I found another studio with a kitchen in Metarie (pronounced Meta-ree) not far from New Orleans. I quickly hit the French Quarter which seems rowdy even on a Monday night! I did well at Harrahs and later had a huge steak dinner on the balcony of the Royal Cafe just off of Bourbon street. It's about 70 degrees and the whole scene reminds me of Paris except that the streets are filled with drunken Americans. In fact, the French Quarter physically looks more like an old Paris since many of the buildings date back to the early 1700s and have had very little renovation since then. Nighttime French Quarter is very romantic. The kind of candlelight scenery, good food and gentle accordion music in the background stuff that I like is all around. The "Faint heart (who) never won fair lady" never took fair lady to the heart of the Quarter on a warm March evening.
The people are friendly and have alot of character. Technology, like the town, is in the swamp here. Very difficult to get access to the Internet anywhere in New Orleans. I think people here communicate to others better via words and actions than in the West Coast. I would hate to see technology come in here and wipe some of that away. I like the genuine feeling here whether it's good or bad. The birds chirp differently here than other places I've been to thus far. Birds chirping. I tend to notice that whereever I go. They hit me like plane crashes, those birds chirping. Anyway, I took a tour through the haunted sections of New Orleans and discovered this place seems to be a magnet for vampires and mass murderers. Even the priests killed babies here in a place which now has one of the more beautiful fountains around. I think alot of people come to NO for the paranormal scene. The crowd I'm with love the thrill of being intrigued and maybe even turned on by stories of the blood-drinking Carter brothers or the home where 200 people were slaughtered in one night. Words like Evil, Satan and witchcraft permeate the tour and I had a blast stepping into that more perverse part of the dark side, as opposed to the more spiritual Spanish view of death. Anyway, once the tour ended around 10:30pm, I had a hard time walking through the narrow, dark old streets by myself. Would a vampire jump out and suck my blood? How times does that cross your mind???
Tomorrow I'm updating the site, sending out my FIRST email cinepoem from abroad and heading to Bourbon street for drinks, food and a little fundraising. Wish me luck.