Shari Lewis had it so right…

Here in Pont-Aven, I’m always rehearsing in my head and muttering what I’ll be attempting to say when I encounter someone in the street.

Imagine a Parisian “Rain Man”.

Perfectly formed, rather complex French phrases roll of my “langue”* while I’m lying in bed at night-

“Why yes, I do appreciate the fact that you’re trying to offer me, in my opinion, a rather shabbily constructed wallet at an agreeable price but I must question the origin and treatment of the labor force that manufactured this offered item and further express my disapproval for the rather sub-par facility deployed in the tanning of the bovine’s exterior dermal layer.”

In the light of day- “Cow envelope for money no makes today. Large thanks”

(yes, thank you David Sedaris for the piggy-back ride)

Anyway, this constantly rehearsed internal French lesson is crowding my mental ward of current resident dialogs and is aggressively fighting for dominance. The usual combative volley of “competent/incompetent”, ”motivated/lazy”, ”relevant/invisible”, ”fat/just husky” mental calisthenics I engage in is taking on a rather Francophonic flair.

I now have an insistent translator circling the arena adding an international echo to my insecurities.

Merde.

I joke with friends that when I mention “my collaborator” or “my mentor” or “my lover” I’m actually referring to a musty sock puppet I keep at the ready for sage advice and intimate confidences. It completes the “we” of “Well, we though it would be best to include a DVD of our latest…” or “We LOVED that film, we couldn’t believe how good Keanu…”

 

Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to imagine and extra creepy with its inferred intimacy but it’s wholly pragmatic in application.

A sock puppet confidant.

 

 

…stretched over my bedpost with its cold, dead button eyes watching, limply waiting, patiently plotting its next offensive. Moppish yarn hair and arched Sharpie eyebrows poised in a macabre stasis, yearning to reanimate on my limber hand…

 

Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

Seriously.

If I could give these interior rants an exterior, elastic body to possess, I could completely extract them from my head, play out the drama on my hand and then retire my tube-bodied compadre to his little shoe-box green room. If one player wasn’t sufficient, I could raid public laundromats and build a whole team of self-help hosiery, each one a crafty and crafted surrogate member of my internal chorus.

 

And for daily, portable mental maintenance …finger puppets.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

*also the name of a delicious custard topped, long flakey pastry here in town.

*also reminds me of when I worked at Samuel’s, a kosher deli in Chicago in the mid-eighties. We offered tongue but no one except Arlene could make the first slice through the very visible taste buds without getting nauseous. We would shout out, “new tongue” if somebody’s order involved that first cut and she would temporarily bump us off the slicer to do the deed.

 

 

Magic still

Shot some test footage in my newly expanded (to fit HD format and the chance to use my top hat drawing) stage last night and I have to say, I’m loving the new camera. Even this still pulled from a compressed file has some pretty sweet clarity. It’s easier to figure out then the French iron I used to press my shirt. 

I’m unable to post actual footage yet because of the enormous file size and my miniscule capacity to figure out compression solutions without making it a muddy mess. That’s OK because I’m also hesitant to post any video until it’s done.

Still teases are fine. 

It’s potential success is so dependent upon it being a complete series of unfolding vignettes/illusions that link and reference each other to build a subtle, problematic narrative that hopefully elevates it beyond a singular, digital parlor trick. I’m fine with waiting until it’s a complete package. 

Now I just need to work on finding a better foundation that can cut that glossy sheen…

And of course


from “The Critic”, one of the funniest shows that ever got cancelled

 

More Welles magic…so bizarre


This is exactly


why I’ve started a new diet. I can’t be doing magician imagery with a graying beard and have this corpulent parallel haunting me! 

Although I can work a caftan like no one else can…

Three Travel Revelations

I just got back from a fanatic and fantastic road trip across France and in and among all of the experiences, discoveries, traumas and triumphs there are three things I want to share about this transnational outing-

1. I can now add long, claustrophobic tunnels carved with a nature damning hubris through an unimaginable tonnage of mountain to my list of panic inducing, back soaked in sweat, breath gasping phobias.

Thanks Switzerland.

            Rushing across France to start my holiday in Verbier, Switzerland at the chalet of a very generous member of the school’s board, I noticed a subtle anxiety growing as I began to pass through a series of tunnels that were steadily increasing in length and, I swear, reducing in diameter. Deep perspective defining Tron like vectors of light pointing to an unseen, unattainable exit out of this angry mountain’s stent were broken only by a series of unintelligible, cryptic glyphs that I assumed were Swiss prayers to all of those who passed during this unholy transit. Add a suicidal wolf on a motorcycle cutting through and around our obedient, sheep-like herd trafficking to our demise and even my dark humored mantra of “I feel just like royalty, I feel just like royalty, I feel just like royalty…” couldn’t cut the fear.

  

2. European boys who are between the ages of 3 and 6 have better clothes than I have ever had or will have in my entire life.

            Absolutely.

These little dapper hommes were decked out in their tiny linen jackets with perfectly pressed, wee khaki trousers and impeccably crafted miniature Italian shoes. If there was an unseasonable chill in the air a silken spot of color would appear as a scarf jauntily knotted about their reedy necks. These little “Baby GQ” subscribers were also not blind to the necessity of a well-appointed accessory. Play date ensembles were smartly accented with sporty hand stitched suede side bags exquisitely proportioned to hold two snack-time ginger biscuits and a juice box. Add a perfectly coiffed tussle of “faux-hawk” hair and these little pre-pubescent Beckhams were ready for the runway.

            Little shits.

I might as well have been sporting a chili spattered tunic, picking at myself in urine stained sweatpants for the fashion sense I was comparatively proffering.

3. Wherever you go you must take yourself along…and that spoils everything.

            This little “bon mot” comes from an album my parents had on the farm when I was growing up. One of very few albums that we would play through our barge sized, oak laminate hi-fi console that offered radio (AM and FM), LP turntable and an 8-track deck. Three Statler Brothers selections, a Don Ho (Best of) and two to three dozen assorted Christmas albums rounded out the Eckard family playlist. The radio would be switched on around noon for farm reports or when severe weather threatened and in the afternoon when my mother would tune into “Kitchen Klutter” or “Klatter” (I can only believe it had to have been spelled with a K) for recipes, cooking and housekeeping tips. I can barely remember pants before shoes but can still pull that jangling theme song up from the limbic depths.

Anyway, this record was by Dr. Murray Banks, a psychologist, who did a therapy/psychology based stand-up routine. High schmaltz, saucy and very un-Midwestern, my father would insist on playing this for whoever showed up at the house whether it had been previously heard by them or not. We would sit around the console and if my father didn’t rush and blurt out the punchlines, we shared a very exotic excursion into “big city” intelligentsia and sophisticated humor.

I swear this album and the Dean Martin roasts are where I picked up my deep, disturbing affection for this type of shtick: Youngman, Dangerfield, etc.

 

When traveling, there is always the romantic expectation of re-invention, vigorous renewal, reckless abandon and unimagined transcendent moments and liaisons that can occur if you just let go and “wander without being lost” or  “embrace your bliss” and do all of the other VW bumper aphorisms I’m subjected to in the Pacific Northwest…

So, I’m traveling through France with a constant argumentative blather in my head (see “Sherrie Lewis” post coming soon) and the good doctor’s phrase keeps surfacing at each delayed dalliance, missed exit or bypassed and then regretted abbey, cathedral or moulin I failed to experience.

  

“Wander without being lost…”

…or have your French Atlas sweatily pinned to your steering wheel for fear of missing an exit or town that really had no more importance, familiarity or necessity than any of the other hundreds of villages and towns that really only needed to be west of where I currently was to be the “right” one.

  

To my credit, it only took two to three (or four) days to finally set the Atlas on the passenger seat next to me (still remaining open of course) and let a bit more wander enter into my travel. A general direction and town names that sounded close enough became my travel criteria. Suddenly the French countryside opened up and instead of feeling like a blunt wedge forcing its way through hard cheese, I was slipping gracefully through valleys and hamlets, stopping for that impulsive tarte citron and café and letting the unknown vista over the next horizon be my guide instead of the remorseful shadow of missed Michelin Guide three star attractions and “must do” moments I had plotted out weeks earlier in Pont-Aven when I was getting ready to “take myself along”.

 

But… was I really using my new video camera enough? I mean why did I bring it along if I wasn’t going to do work? Other artists would have certainly done six or seven projects by now. Who do you think is going to finish the ………

 

 

Anxious Murmur?

I entered the blogoshpere with a certain degree of hesitancy. Anxious Murmur indeed…

This hesitancy came from a reluctance to publicly wander through a loose chronicle of my daily actions, interests and activities for fear of adding another layer of self-indulgent gas to the digital atmosphere. Unfortunately, this pre-meditated, self-imposed stringency is hobbling a form of expression and exchange for me that I’ve barely begun to explore.

An ex of mine used to very patiently say to me, “David, who do you think is really keeping score?” when I was spiraling up or down a path of perceived appropriateness, grasping for markers of validation or sitting in the familiar position of having my life judged by a fictional jury of peerless members I fabricated, approved without question and had seemingly appointed for life.

It’s just a blog. Really.

So, I’m going to let the jury remain hung and get on with being real, unreal, surreal if necessary, dark, funny, apropos, inappropriate, poignant and pointless and save all of this exhausting existentialism for the French.

 

And speaking of France…

 

Fruits de mer…

I completed another window drawing and shared /assaulted/teased the Pont-Avenians with my take on a local favorite: fruits de mer (fruits of the sea).

It’s a horrifying, visceral, straight from the “primordial ooze” culinary offering that had to have originated as a bet or a drunken dare. “Jean, I’ll give you five francs to eat whatever I scrape off this underwater rock…”

You’re presented with a huge mound of artfully arranged sea snails, shrimp, mussels, oysters and crab on a bed of seaweed. Next to your platter is a selection of wicked little hooks, pliers, dainty spoons and mallets that are used to liberate the briny, shapeless nuggets. People rip into, stroke, tear, split, suck and devour this “fruit” with an unrestrained, un-French, primal abandon that is embarrassing to witness. I blush and confront my crepe with the same “where do I look?” panic I experience when I see couples making out on the metro or when monkeys masturbate at the zoo.

All things underwater freak me out so to willingly eat what appear to be flawed, biological prototypes or prehistoric remnants pushes a gastronomical button or two.

It’s also really expensive.

To stay true to the character of the region, my platter is offered up by a beefy, tattooed sailor arm…

”Comment dit-on sublimate?”

CLICK TO ENLARGE AND SEE THE DETAILS…

cut out sections lit up at night