Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Road map

In Artists, FAR - Arts Center, Music, RLB trivia on June 30, 2009 at 7:36 am


In the dream, I was staring down on a map. It looked like embroidery or a pointilliste painting but  it was a real continent, seen from above. As I realized that, I landed at the foot of the map. From that perspective, I was at the entrance of a game arcade with flashing lights and a lot of people.  I thought: “Dante never mentioned neons” and I woke up.

 OK. How does that translate into the 3-D world of daylight such as the one depicted above? The world in which I live these days? An excellent question, signora. (Sometimes, I imagine the dream maker rolling over laughing when I wake up. “Here,” the dream maker says, “play with this, I’m going to rest now.”)

The air is cooler this morning. All the windows are open to suck in as much coolness as possible before shuttering against the heat and glare. Where am I going? I don’t know. But I’m definitely going wherever I’m going. That much is perfectly clear.  Right, dream maker?

You’ll never guess who answers from dreamland.  John Horton. Singing this.  Good grief.  Dream maker, take me to your leader immediately, we must have a serious conversation. Make sure there’s plenty of tea.




OK, it’s official – the FAR gets the venue on place Val d’Amour . Robert should get the keys today or tomorrow;  starting to schedule activities in the  courtyard, to coincide with other events happening around town, such as the circus street festival in mid-July. Ah… that’s two weeks from now?  Correct. Well, he was finding things a bit slow these days so that’ll teach him.

Crazy day, though. Hard to get serious writing done.

Dog days landing

In Animals, Artists, FAR - Arts Center, Now playing in a theater near you, RLB trivia on June 29, 2009 at 8:20 am


 I’ll be doing a post about Fiac’s Contemporary Art Festival on Ici Graulhet, as soon as I get authorization from the artists to publish their works – although I have to wonder what authorization I need to publish a shot of bales of hay arranged in a Stonehenge-like grouping. However, the organizer of the event was adamant – I could snap but I couldn’t publish without the artist’s permission. I’m not about to get into a scuffle with the Art Czar of a village that’s  twelve kilometers from my front door. Specially when Robert is doing his song-and-dance about the value of artistic freedom and autonomy within the framework of a federated approach to lobbying, communications and promotion of events. (Yes, I know, it’s quite a mouthful, but it runs smoothly in French.)


It was past 5 pm when we got to Fiac yesterday. The heat  and glare were still reverberating off every surface so I did a quick look-around while Robert ran his shpiel by the Art Czar. Then, we headed back inside to ice cubes on the wrists and other such coping mechanisms.  The air didn’t really cool down until 3 am this morning. The dog days (canicule in French)  have landed in the Tarn.


In English, Canicula designates the dog star, Sirius.  Seems I’ve just found  my word for the day on Ici Graulhet. Will take it slow, with lots of water.

To my knowledge, I need no authorization to post the picture above, since it’s an old mural in the schoolyard in Fiac.  Mes compliments à l’artiste anonyme.


13:05 Apparently, the man to whom I referred this morning as the Art Czar of the neighboring village is no such thing. Robert tells me  the man works for the Paris FIAC . The folks in Paris found the coincidence of names amusing which is how the association began with the village ten years ago. Promising young artists from all over France get ‘farmed out’ to Fiac where they stay in a family and complete an installation. Some of them get ‘moved up’ to Paris, if they’re good enough. Robert and this person exchanged business cards, etc.

Which is lovely, perhaps something will come of it, perhaps not. Still, I’d best watch my p’s and q’s – always difficult for me when I sense a put-down, be it directed at me or anyone else. I tend to respond with put-downs of my own which is no smarter, obviously. (But I was on my best behavior yesterday.)

Meanwhile, in my own sphere, I’m still  pondering the Reggie-Gillian divide in Now Playing. In cases where both the characters and their role in the story are at different ends of the spectrum , the issue is easy to settle – does the character slow down the story and, if so, is it worth slowing down for what the character brings to it? In this instance, the  degrees of separation between the two characters is much slimmer and Reggie  is fairly incidental, petering out  of the story at one point. Which is all right if his presence is useful but begs the question.  Only way to find out is to attempt a rewrite of the sections where he appears.

Busman’s holiday

In FAR - Arts Center, Food, Local projects, Wine on June 28, 2009 at 7:58 am


The first piece of universal wisdom to come flying off the web at me this morning was: ‘It is more becoming to have a large nose than two small ones’ –  the English translation of a Breton proverb, apparently. The wisdom of which there is no disputing.

Slept like the proverbial log, myself. And at somewhere past 7:30, I’m still pretending I’m on holiday, somewhere in the Midi-Pyrénées. So what am I doing typing? Please refer to the title of the post.


I’ll be doing a post on  Domaine d’En Ségur  for Ici Graulhet next week. But if you read this blog too,  you can say you saw these two pics here first. The place is gorgeous, the wine is very good I’m told (hoping to get a taste next week) and they have art everywhere including in two of the vats that were not put to use last fall. There are paintings hanging on all the vats and pieces of sculpture everywhere. I won’t talk about the art + wine project we’re thinking of but the winemakers we’ve met and talked to so far like it and want to participate. If you stay tuned long enough, you’ll be in on the announcement in the Fall.

Friday night,  my buddy of the travelling bookstore L’Auberge des Légendes told me he’d been designated  the best and most creative business venture in the Midi-Pyrénées and is now up for the national prize. Good things happening to good people?  Nice. We like.

I am now going to make myself café au lait, eat my bread and jam and continue pretending I’m on holiday in the Midi-Pyrénées, where people on holiday love to cook up huge batches of apricot jam on a Sunday morn. Want to join me in the kitchen? You’re most welcome.


13:20 Mz Christie’s opus is ready for Ici Graulhet so I get the afternoon off. I’ll post it later so folks have a chance to go through the Feria photos. (Discovered yesterday some people here don’t realize the posts stay archived…)

Monsieur Slimène told me this morning ‘my’ apricots weren’t quite ready yet. Translation: people were still buying them to eat out of hand. Over here, folks buy in small quantities and only at the peak of freshness. They also eat their fruit at room temperature for full flavor. Jam-ready apricots are not rotten by any stretch of the imagination, but they are as ripe as you can get them. So, jam-making on Tuesday, probably.

Over lunch, we decided we’d better head down to the Mediterranean some day next week if we want to see the water,  not just a sea of vacationers. I’d also like to stop in the village on the Canal du Midi where we lived and kept a guesthouse before settling in Graulhet. We’ll also do one or two rides into the Pyrénées. The crowds don’t get as unbearable there during the holidays so that can wait till July.  

Now? Shutters closed. Afternoon off looking at blogs; napping; reading. Hallelujah.


15:30 For the record: after doing a quick walkthrough some blogs I visit regularly, I note one blogger is preparing mentally for the imminent death of a beloved dog. To avoid any misinterpretations or thoughts I may be poking fun at anyone or anything related to the loss of a companion, please note the Mz Christie installment I’ll be putting online later on Ici Graulhet was written before  I read this and was inspired by a comment left by another blogger on a previous installment of The Secret of the Parrot. I don’t make fun of anyone’s pain over losing a friend or anyone’s beliefs about reincarnation. Anyone who knows me well doesn’t need to be told that, but  blogs can be the breeding ground of strange misunderstandings sometimes.

Back to the busman’s holiday.

The real world

In FAR - Arts Center, Food, Now playing in a theater near you, Poetry, RLB trivia on June 27, 2009 at 8:02 am


Most of the day will be out and about – the feria, the art center. Something doesn’t sit right in the draft of Now Playing; hopefully, stepping back from it will clarify the picture. Apart from which, I miss the kids and the presence of real people, eating real food in my real courtyard. Not a thing I can do about that, except hope one or other of our projects will yield some travelling funds, eventually.


Last summer was bad for apricots; they were dry and mealy. This year, they’re both silky and juicy. The greengrocer has promised me the ones ready for jam-making, either today or tomorrow.  Three hours work = one year’s supply of jam.

The real world. Where ‘just to be is a blessing’ as Heschel said. But it’s also mosquitos, money shortages and distance. My wealthy neighbor who is impressed by the fact I’ve seen America with my eyes of flesh, lent me this photograph entitled Aubade pour Manhattan, by photographer Maurice Boquet – done in 1960. Nice that art also exists, in the real world.



Speaking of which I discovered  this blog  thanks to this blogger. Nice that the internet also exists, in the real world.

Now: Feria, art center, jam and mulling over a storyline.


11:10 I don’t think I’d want to be kissed on the top of the head and called a gardian angel every single day of my life. But from time to time, it beats staring at your own words and wondering if they make sense or not. The one who delivered the kiss and the compliment is the big guy in the photo above. He’s the organizer of the feria.

The event is looking good – well organized, lots of people. I’ll do the bullrun photos at the late afternoon one.

In other news: the smaller venue on place Val d’Amour is now confirmed for use by the Arts Center. Official word will be handed down next week. 

On to Lavaur next for a look at Domaine d’En Ségur and its painted wine barrels.




A fabulous vineyard, and another link on the art+wine project.  15  minute break for a glass of water  and a look at a few blogs. Now, back to the feria. repeat after me: holidays.



19:30 The best part for me: the way the horses and the gardianes work together to control the bulls (I’d been told they’d be cows but they were young bulls called bouvillons –  which are plenty strong.) The way it’s done in a small-town feria is the horses control the bulls as much as possible, the bulls push against the horses and the young boys run after the bulls and try to grab them by the tail. The most severe injuries being kids falling and scraping their knees. Here, the crowd is cheering the gardianes and the horses – the real stars of this show, I agree.

Over and  out from Graulhet for Saturday June 27.

Opening scene

In Food, Now playing in a theater near you, Sanford Meisner on June 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

DSCN0156The  version of Springsteen’s Atlantic City that works for the scene I’m writing right now is the one on Live in Dublin – the versions on youtube are too slow.   

Working on the opening scene for Now Playing.


10:05 Whereas  in The Crabwalker  the entire storyline rested on the intermingling of different people’s viewpoints in a strict chronological order, I’m treating time sequences differently in Now Playing. Can’t remember who said it about each memory being a reconstruction in real time – in other words, we recreate our memories constantly. This is what I’m attempting here where the story doesn’t unfold chronologically. Memories are part of the story as it unfolds.  For any reader who remembers  some of  this from my previous writing blog, I’m using the first meeting between Nadia and Jeffrey at the photographic studio as the starting point – in other words, she’s already embroiled in money problems and complicated relationships but hasn’t met El Viejo yet.

Oops  thunderstorm moving in over Graulhet.


12:45  Changed the header photo to that of the Féria- I’d forgotten it was tomorrow already, until I did the Ici Graulhet post. Hopefully, the weather is now clear for it. Before anyone asks,  a Féria is a summer tradition in Spain and Southern France where the bull is still an important part of local identity. The biggest feria in France is further East, in Nimes where they also have a bullring. In small towns like Graulhet, what they call a ‘bullrun’ isn’t like the one in Pamplona. Here, they use young cows – although if you’ve ever been chased down a street by a few cows, you can appreciate there is some excitement involved. You also get demonstrations of pelota which is probably the ancestor of games such as racketball.

Robert wanted a raw tomato sauce with his pasta today. Fine by me, quick to fix. But you must have fresh produce or else, forget it. In a large bowl: a splash of good olive oil, a finely chopped clove of hyper-fresh garlic, two peeled and finely diced tomatoes, a handful of chopped capers and black olives, chopped parsley, diced raw ham, a bit of cheese. Pour in the cooked pasta, mix, eat and get on with your day.

Back to Now Playing. Incorporating the memories instead of running the story as a linear ‘arrow of time’ makes for a more interesting texture. It also tightens the story by speeding up events.


16:55 A lot of mulling going on here this afternoon. To merge or not to merge two of the characters in the first draft? That is the question – I’ve got two theater types, both interesting but each one pulling the story in a different direction.

 Sometimes I wonder what non-writers make  of the notes I leave myself here. I don’t know  how non-writers understand the writing process which is all about what Meisner calls ‘living truthfully in imaginary circumstances’. One blogger today used the concept of portals between the worlds to describe another way of experiencing the world a lot of people aren’t familiar (or confortable) with – the shamanic. In many ways, writing is like that – in this case, transferring real energy into imaginary events.  

I can understand how people who don’t work in the arts may enjoy the result while finding the process itself weird, or even crazy and scary. Most of our childhoods are spent learning not to pay attention to the imaginary. Yet, writers, actors –  all artists – are only effective if they attend to the imaginary with as much care, love and respect as they do to the ‘real’ world. It helps a lot if the folks around them have some respect for what they do – while having the same expectations that they stay grounded  in the  here and now as everybody else.

 Which doesn’t tell  me if I should merge Reggie and Gillian, or not.  It unclutters the storyline – a lot of stuff going on in that draft. On the other hand, both characters allow a different take on Nadia.  Maybe it’s a question of de-emphasizing one of the two, rather than eliminating completely.

Leaving it at that for now. Goodbye 1973, hello 2009.


In Now playing in a theater near you, RLB trivia, The Art of Peace on June 25, 2009 at 7:29 am


Just read a bunch of blogs on the topic of summer, plus one on the much-less thrilling topic of plagiarism. Every time I read that word, it’s like coming to a border crossing; even when I know I’ve got nothing to declare, I feel guilty anyway.  Right now, I wish I could either slide back into bed or shut down the computer and head for a hamac in the shade. Neither of which is an option.

The evening market: it had been poorly advertised. The main participants were the shop owners themselves. Robert made 5 € – good thing he hadn’t bought any materials for the occasion. I took lots of photos, people told me they liked the blog.

I now have a pile of print-outs of Now Playing staring at me. Let’s say inspiration will come while I read.


8:25 So while the shopowners ate and drank what they had prepared for the customers who didn’t show last night, the street artists drew and painted each other (the way tv crews report on each other when the news item isn’t forthcoming). Robert did an excellent sketch of another local painter. I’m not posting it because some website out there will grab it and use it for its own purposes. (The other day, thanks to my spam filter, I discovered a website selling knock-offs of brand-name laptops was using my Tipatshimun post as filler.  I didn’t bother asking them to remove it; there are only so many hours available in a twenty-four hour time span.)

It gets tiring – like dealing with tiny stinging insects: the nameless, faceless ones ripping you off, the nameless, faceless ones ranting at god-knows-who, the smiling one you photograph who badmouths you to the neighbors (and the neighbor who then reports the badmouthing back to you). All the petty, piddly droning. Northern Québec in summer, with the swarms of black flies feasting on nice mammalian blood.

Speaking of which it seems the celebrations were great in Québec yesterday: a quarter million people on Plaines d’Abraham in Québec City. A beautiful and well-attended parade in Montréal. This, after the media had gone on and on about the disaffection of the masses, and so on. 

Bottom line? Slather on the bug repellent and forge on. Consider yourself lucky if others badmouth you – in a backhanded way, it means you’re doing something right.


11:26 I love the  Heschel quotes. Used the one about intelligent vs kind people on the Ici Graulhet blog. Frankly, if ever someone remembers me, I’d rather it be for something kind I did or said than for my brains. Guess I’m getting old, like rabbi Heschel. 

Reading through Now Playing. The epigraph I chose for it is this:

“…I was wrong. Night after night

I wake from dreams of a city

like no other, the bright city

of beauty I thought I’d lost

when I lost my faith that one day

we would come into our lives.”

Philip Levine,  The Rat of Faith 

 I set aside writing this book at one point because I knew it wouldn’t live up to that epigraph. I think I can still get it there but at the moment it’s   the difference between going up the hiker’s trail or the bleak Northern face of a granite mountain. Need to work on something softer and goofier  on the side.


19:35 You can read this stuff  as perfect bullshit and make fun of it and those who take it seriously.  You can ignore it and find something else,  if it leaves you cold.  You can misunderstand it and become the Resident Sage in the nearest psychiatric hospital. Or, you can take it seriously if it speaks to you, pay attention to your own mind instead of that of other people, and see where it takes you.

From within yourself

In Music, Now playing in a theater near you, Poetry, Sanford Meisner on June 24, 2009 at 9:25 am


It’s on pages 160 and 161. Meisner has his students  reading poems from  The Spoon River Anthology .  One of the students explains what he’s understood of Meisner’s approach: “The thing that’s coming home to me is how you make this material your own. If we do it first in our own words and are fully prepared, then it’s an easier jump to the actual words of the piece. And when we make the jump, the words of the text are like our own and we’re less hampered by them. They come from us.”

Meisner adds:

“Did Chopin compose music in order to imitate Mozart?”

“I say he didn’t,” Ray says.

“Well, who did he imitate?”

“I think he wrote to make music that pleased him. He was writing from his own instinct and spirit.”

Your own instinct and spirit. Parents, teachers, friends, lovers can all stifle or help you express your instinct and spirit. None of them can do the expressing for you.


11:45 Doesn’t have much to do with Chopin but  this  is the excerpt of the Live in Dublin album that’s serving as my  musical fuel today. ‘Low bridge, everybody down, low bridge, we’re comin to a town.’ Works for me.


14:30 I know. The play-within-a-play is older than old as a concept. But it works for part of the storyline in Now Playing, when Nadia gets into the writing end of the business. Material such as yesterday’s post on the phony heart attacks can go through the recycling bin for one of the stage scenes. yay – waste not, want not.

Doing a print-out of the draft as it now stands. Time for reading and culling.


18:15 The light was amazing under the tall trees at La Bousquétarié. Almost like being underwater:


This evening: night market in Graulhet. Should have light till around 10 pm. I’m snapping photos and Robert is doing cartoon portraits at 5 € a pop. “Low bridge, everybody down, low bridge, we’re coming to a town.” (I’ve been singing it all day.)

Almost finished printing out Now Playing. Lots of material. Lots of culling – some can become stand-alone short stories.

Best to one, best to all.

At the school of bad acting

In Music, Now playing in a theater near you, Sanford Meisner, Theater on June 23, 2009 at 9:40 am


With all this talk about Meisner, you might think only excellent teachers can produce results. Not so. For the observant, bad acting is a great instructional device. I was lucky to live with one of the greatest practicioners of the art of bad acting. Her name was Marguerite, officially known as ‘maman’.

Choosing the best example of Marguerite’s bad acting is too much work. I’ll zero in on one of her lessons in How Not To Stage a Heart Attack.

Staging heart attacks was one of Marguerite’s sub-specialties and only played out in the presence of strangers. The scene kicked in when things weren’t going according to plan. For example, Dad was muffing his lines and I was about to launch a counter-attack. In other words, strangers to our clan were about to witness something unpleasant which needed immediate forestalling. Heart attack scenes typically occurred in the dining room. The reason for that was not Marguerite’s terrible cooking. The reason was Marguerite’s chair – an essential prop.

The scene would run like this: as the storm clouds gathered and Dad had gone from the withering comment to the frankly disgraceful insult, and as I prepared to counter with a frontal attack on the  Fifth Commandment, Marguerite would  start panting, clutch at her bosom and pull herself away from the table. Fumbling to her feet, she would grab the back of her chair and slide herself to the floor – her rump always being the first part of her anatomy to make contact with terra firma.

Depending on the number of players in the scene that day, reactions varied. They always involved one of the participants heading for the phone to call the ambulance while the main recipient of that day’s lesson was beckoned to the side of the dying mother. Said dying mother, in a dying voice, would ask for a solemn promise of something or other. The scene that comes to mind here is the day I introduced my  fiancé to my parents.  At first, dad tried to discourage said fiancé by saying no man in  his right mind would want a crazy woman as a mother for his children. (When I think back on it now, this was really a cry from the heart directed at his own life, but since I was the one being branded as crazy, I didn’t fully grasp the pathos in his remark.)

Marguerite took this as her cue for the Heart Attack Scene. After her rump hit the floor, I was beckoned to her side for the sponsor’s message. That day, it consisted in begging me to consult with the parish priest, Father whatever-his-name-was. Purpose of this consultation: receiving guidance on interfaith marriages (my fiancé was an agnostic Jew to my lapsed Catholic). I replied something snarky about this not being the most pressing concern, given her dramatic condition. At which point her dramatic condition got much worse, as a matter of course. Dad invited my fiancé and I to remove ourselves from the scene. We obliged. The ambulance arrived with the usual, blasé crew. From there life proceeded on its normal course and maman revived, the better to stage her next Botched Heart Attack.

To this day, I remain convinced the main reason maman was so angry at dad’s death was he did the Heart Attack scene only once and got it right with no rehearsals. Damn. Now that’s great acting.

(Yes, I’m working on Now Playing in a Theater Near You. But the mother in the story doesn’t resort to such cheap tricks. I’ve given her some of Marguerite’s more sinister characteristics  instead. And made her a much more commanding presence.)


17:00 This has nothing to do with bad acting. I’m listening to the Bruce Springsteen Live in Dublin album (merci, la médiathèque) and discovering this song, but they don’t have the Dublin version on youtube (they have it in Belfast, but the sound is lousy.) So, in  Milan instead (but the Dublin version is tighter.)


In Now playing in a theater near you, Sanford Meisner, Theater on June 22, 2009 at 8:25 am


Before heading into the countryside yesterday, I grabbed some photos at the various concerts playing around town. Took this photo off Place du Jourdain, where the young students from the local singing school were getting some stage experience. Will post those photos on the community blog – who knows? For some of them, having their photo on Ici Graulhet may turn out to be the high point of their artistic career.

The community blog: traffic is back to it’s previous levels – between one hundred and one hundred and fifty visits per day. Robert is really proud of that.  If I meant to prove to myself I could rebuild the blog from scratch, I’ve proven it to myself, so there’s an element of pride in it for me, too. But all it boils down to is me proving, once again, that  nobody or nothing can kick me down and keep me down – a regular motif since as far back as I can remember. Can we move on to something else?


Favorite  Meisner  quotes

If I wrote them all down, I’d copy out half  the book –  about half of which is underlined, anyway.  

p.44 (Bruce, the student, is having trouble conveying an authentic feeling): “Truth and public solitude. Believe me, Bruce, you should have ‘Public Solitude’ engraved on your stationery, because that’s what you need. Not public exhibitionism but public solitude. When you are at home, when you have a job to do, you do it. You comb your hair, and you don’t watch to make sure your pinky’s out.”  

And the one that comes so often and in so many ways throughout the book? “Acting is living under imaginary circumstances.”

 So is writing. It’s the only place you can really afford to be authentic. “In life… life is terrible, I think. But on the stage you have a wonderful opportunity to tell the truth, and all that can come of it is praise.” p.66

Even if the praise part doesn’t come, at least you get to tell the truth.

Why all this Meisner talk, all of a sudden? Robert is moving furniture around. All my books are up in my room now.  Came across my beat-up jalopy of a copy. That’s why.


9:10 Writing, acting, painting, composing, cooking, just plain living: fact is, there’s not all that much skill required if you’re handed nothing but the best ingredients, materials, circumstances. It takes a perfect idiot to mess up a good steak. It takes talent to make a great stew from the tough cuts. (If you’re a genius, you cool the stew till it jellies, serve it up in tiny ceramic spoons, and charge fifty bucks a shot.)

Now Playing in a Theater Near You: every character in that story could be described as damaged goods. The point being to make something worthwhile out of lives that have played out like a chain reaction of collisions on a foggy highway.

At the moment, Nadia is pulling together a compendium of inspirational thoughts for her friend Carol. She calls it:   Dale Carnegie, Billy Graham and Reverend  Bishop Sheen Offer Tips for Better Living.  I doubt any of those fine gentlemen would recognize themselves in Nadia’s version.

Go for it, Nadia. 


10:40 I’m having trouble with the barrage of ‘daddy’ posts that went up yesterday.  My trouble isn’t  with the fact people are expressing fine sentiments about their dads. If that’s how they feel about their father, hallelujah, I think that’s great. My trouble is more a self-consciousness thing – what exactly do you say when people express their love and appreciation for people you don’t know? Do you put up your own Loving Remembrance  to show the world you can be just as loving as the next person? Or  rant on about My Dad – That Bum to show the world the full extent of your psychic wounds? Neither feels appropriate to me. Yes, I’m thinking a lot about my dad. Always do at this time of year, with or without references to Father’s Day. The balance sheet is so complicated, the best I can manage is: he made huge mistakes and did the best he could to make up for them. Which, of my mom and dad, makes him the  hero, if that’s the way you like to think about things.

Thinking about Meisner again. What he describes of his reaction at his father’s funeral (p. 133) but also what he says about Stanislavsky’s theory of ’emotion memory’ on p. 79 – the notion of remembering the emotional flavor of a specific moment and using it to feed a performance. Meisner didn’t use this approach and says Stanilavsky stopped using it also. Why? “Over time, the meaning of the past changes.” p. 82.

That’s the truth. The facts stay the same. How you see them, their relative importance, how you judge people’s behavior – all of those things change. That’s for one. For another, you eventually realize you can’t change a damn single thing about facts, any more than you can grow a new foot if you happen to lose one along the way. If your parents were competent human beings, that’s what they were. If they acquired a few   competent behaviors over time, that’s what it was. If they were and remained total fuck-ups, that’s the reality.

As a writer, it’s the stories you spin out of these facts that matter. Making them truthful renditions of believable human traits. If they’re truthfully sweet moments, that’s what they are. If they are stories of pain and confusion – same. Loopy and goofy? So be it. For a writer or an actor,  the toughest part is staying honest. It requires a lot of courage and an incredibly light touch. I’m not there yet.


18:40 These days, when I think of him, what I find the hardest to deal with is the deep pessimism that formed the underlay to all his quips, barbs, clever or nasty wordplays. His favorite saying on bad days was: “You might as well not want it, because you won’t get it anyway.”  There are days when those words feel  like a curse in a nightmare. As in: go ahead and fight, kid, I love watching you work  your butt off and fail.  

On a more positive note: 1) Went to Jean’s house this afternoon. He’s finished Robert’s bust. The clay will now cure for about a month before going to the  kiln. 2) City Hall approved the final plans on the old covered market. They’re receiving funding from the European Union – seems art-related projects are a  priority  in Brussels right now. 

Repeat after me, RL: things are getting better. Things are going well. Things are working out for  you, too. Things are getting better. Things are going well. Things are working out for you too. Things are…





In Animals, Contes d'Exil, Music, Now playing in a theater near you on June 21, 2009 at 7:31 am


Someone translated Tipatshimun as ‘le chant du diable’ (The Devil’s Song) on the youtube clip. It is no such thing. In innu, there are two kinds of stories: tipatshimun refer to stories that happened to real people of the clan. Atanukan refer to stories from the days when animals and humans could communicate and explain things to one another. OK, this particular song is about a man who meets the devil (but, according to the song, the devil doesn’t like company.)

So, most of the stories I write are tipatshimun, although parts of Contes d’Exil are atanukan. I’d never thought of it that way before. How do I know this stuff? My brother lived up in innu country at one time, doing a M.A. in anthropology and we talked a lot about it. This M.A. later earned him the dubious privilege of being one of the Québec government’s  negotiators in the  Oka crisis – the one that ended with his Minister signing an agreement with masked ‘warriors’. At that time, I was working for the Artists’ Union and dealing with the radio boycott on Kashtin’s music. Ah, life! Thrills, spills  and never a dull moment, no matter how hard you work at it.

I Ching: Hexagram 56, 9 in third and sixth, leading to  Hexagram 16. Sounds about right.



9:35 too weird how things happen, sometimes. How I got there is not to be believed. Suffice it to say I just found a great website called tipatshimuna – Innu stories from the land.

Now, I’m almost scared to look at it. What if I discover all my Tales of Exiles stories are… innu? Whaaaaaa…… The Twighlight Zone….



12:55  LA FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE IN GRAULHET – A Frontline Report

The houses you see  above give out on Place Jean-Moulin where the bikers started arriving around 7:30. The sound crews showed up around 10. The feedback problem on the mikes was resolved around 11:15. The sound crews left for lunch around 12:15.  Two bands of competing Heavy-Metal wannabees are checking out the equipment at the moment. Cybèle is reacting to the reverb the same way I do – headshakes and flicking her paws. Must find her a pair of headphones pronto.


18:45 Escaped the racket by going out into the countryside. Came across this fabulous ‘lavoir’ by the roadside outside Serviès. Took… one hundred and forty-five photos of it and still didn’t manage to catch a single one of the frogs hopping into the water.