“Prestidigitation-A Folly in Eleven Acts”

Well, the props have been deployed, the footage has been shot and I have close to three hours of high-def footage to wrestle into eleven tight illusions. Thanks to the incredible patience, diligence and eye of John Ofori (personal trainer AND videographer) I have some great imagery to work with.

Now it’s time to structure the chapters in a way that can elicit a larger connection across the individual moments and pare it to the necessary content. Smart titling, decent sound and smooth transitions are crucial to bring it to the engaging/intriguing/problematic presence it needs to have.

Put on the coffee and lock the doors……it’s editing time!

 

Creative Calisthenics

A certain malaise has entered my days as the remaining bits of Pont-Aven novelty reveal themselves as known, predictable and repetitive. A small town is a small town wherever it’s located on the globe and as this hamlet’s “silent citizen”, I have experienced its limits.

Unfortunately, I’ve let the cultural and geographic boundaries of this town create a parallel sense of limitation within myself. I look at the calendar in disbelief and scramble to find the evidence in my studio of the spent time and the lived points of the cycled seasons. They are there, but seem formed in fits and starts existing on a surface unbroken by a commitment of focused time and skirting that next revelatory level a rigorous excavation could unearth.

I do acknowledge the reality of my administrative position and its seeming unlimited capacity to expand and fill any remaining energy or time I may have, but there is another reality I must face:

I’ve become lazy.

Soft.

Casual in my convictions and dismissive of my passions.

 

Ouch.

 

Rented movies on iTunes have replaced reading and studio time.

The conceptual concerns and creative challenges of the students have conveniently given me a decoy sense of engagement and accomplishment.

Exterior, facile concerns have muffled the interior wonder, peripheral discoveries, troubling surprises and deep solace a generous, caring embrace of self can elicit.

Add in the false promise of too much red wine and the vibrant spark of the dance becomes a dull hum, barely audible above the din.

But,

I had a fabulous 6 hours in the studio yesterday and felt the insulating funk slowly start to unravel.

I know this. I know what it takes.

I know what my studio deprivation does to me and how to prevent this numbing chasm from appearing between work sessions:

 

SIMPLY DO THE WORK

 

An hour here, two hours there and suddenly that momentum fuels a necessity to further dip into the recesses and echoes of my head and heart and revel in the unique ways that only I have to make sense of the world.

It is simple.

So coupled with my new physical regime, there will be a more gentle set of creative calisthenics to re-awaken a dormant sense of wonder, exploration, commitment and joy.

All of these resolutions and it’s not even the New Year! 

 

The Ho-Ho-Ho-ness

of my belly has started me on a new nutrition/fitness/discipline path.

As I look at starting my last term and finishing my time here in Pont-Aven, I want to set in place a routine that will get me in strong physical and mental shape before what I know will be a rather disorienting re-entry into the US.  It has been too, too easy to cloak “experience”, “exploration” and “spontaneity” in an unfettered banquet of wine, cheese and pastries.

106 kg. You do the math!

Health issues aside, it’s really about the vanity….

I’m tired of playing the “who’s the biggest person here?” game at club Le Starman (seriously, I couldn’t make up this place……and thank god for it!) and always winning. Shopping for clothes sends me to the very end of the rack or over to the “grandes tailles” section of the store only to have the breadstick thin store attendant look disdainfully down his razor sharp beak and mutter “Le Super Sized” under his cardio-fit breath.

When I return to PDX and inevitably run a personal ad……I don’t want “husky”, “thick”, “ex-football player type”, “beefy”  or any other Craigslist euphemism for fat to be leading the plea.

I’ll be realistic.

I’m no delicate flower and am certainly not expecting a Michael Phelps transformation but I do want to return and not have, “well (DAMN!), you seemed to have really enjoyed (eaten) yourself (now significantly larger than the last time I saw you) over there..” as my first greeting.

So, enter John Ofori.

John was a student here at PASCA a few terms back and is currently the intern. He’s a fantastic artist, generous soul and quickly becoming a good friend.

He has also agreed to work out with and whip me into shape.

Damn.

He’s half my weight, twice as strong and three times as limber…No excuses, no BS and a rigorous diet and exercise plan have already been put into place.

My fingers hurt as they tap the keys and I’m unable to raise my arms off of my lap.

I creak and shuffle like Walter Matthau (wait, he’s dead) like…Wilford Brimley over to the fridge to have an infant-portioned meal followed by…..nothing…….no éclair, no tarte citron, no crepe avec caramel…….

This is good? 

 

Sunday stroll

The term ended and the students have all returned home.

They left last Saturday and after a little party that evening to celebrate the term, I woke up the next day to a brilliant blue sky and mild weather. I loaded my iPod with some new tunes from Cedric (fine fellow who I work with at PASCA) grabbed my camera and headed out. 

It was fantastic. Unknown music set a constantly shifting soundtrack to my excursion and my eyes were tuned and open to catch the nuances in my local arena.

The majority of the following images are from that day. 

 

  

  

  

 

 

Ohio-Iowa echo

After my meeting in Cleveland, I headed south to Columbus.

I drove over subtle hills colored in the tones of drying corn and turned earth. Miles passed under a crystal blue sky, double-struck with power lines.

It was known, felt and suddenly collapsing in time.

I was 21, 19, 18, driving back from Iowa State University on a frozen November weekend.

Suddenly 16, behind the wheel of a powder blue Mercury Monterey listening to Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” in the heat of a Spirit Lake summer.

Now younger, smaller, running along the fence line blind to a world beyond the field’s border.

David Netsch, Greg Magg, Jeff Hanson…..names of childhood friends long buried under the strata of a lived life came flooding back.

I pulled over to the shoulder of the road while my own quaked, shuttering as my eyes filled with tears, sitting in an unrecognized body in the middle of Ohio.

 

 

Roadtrip through the Heartland….

 

A couple of weeks ago found me cruising through Ohio and Indiana and then on to Florida recruiting students for our programs here in Pont-Aven. I flew from London to Cleveland and the cultural, personal and language shock had me absolutely pinned to the seat of my little rental Accent.

Yes, I realize they speak English in England but I was only there for three days and pub and museum talk didn’t tear through the layers of my carefully spun Pont-Aven language cocoon like a loud “can you believe how the Browns abso-fukin-lutely pissed that game away” did. Also an English accent’s charm makes the most mundane utterance a bit of poetry.

It happens every time I come back from Pont-Aven.

Each murmur at Stuckeys, insignificant snippet of billboard text, or FM radio voice (I heard “Hotel California” three times on three different stations between Cleveland and Columbus) comes at me hard and quick without the convenient selectivity that my French illiteracy allows in Pont-Aven.

An Ohio triggered “Awakenings” Robert DeNiro style stumble back into heightened sentience.

The first thing I noticed (strangely) was the preponderance of yellows, oranges and reds. Not lovely autumnal shifts in the October foliage but glossy, hard proclamations for quick food, cheap rental units and “font challenged” pleas for things….things that over the last year I hadn’t realized how much I obviously needed.

Do we really need a world of mattresses or an empire of carpet?

 

OK.

Before I sound even more like a prissy ex-pat trying to distance himself from his real consuming self…….let me say this: It has indeed been very refreshing to have my needs reduced (maybe it’s more the choices than the needs) and my options limited here in Pont-Aven. Although painfully monastic at times, the experience continues to shuffle my priorities around and challenge my idea of what’s truly important in navigating a creative life.

Anyway, back to my road trip….

So, I dropped into my rather divey, Cleveland hotel room that smelled like Lysol infused Mandarin Chicken and tried to avoid a complete physical collapse by watching a little television…..

 

I haven’t really missed TV but found myself spending hours in my hotel rooms suckling at the 100+ cable teats available to me.

So, so blissfully narcotic.

Burrowed into an instant access, thumb-able temporal space, a world was offered up to my supine self that was awash in vibrant colors, built from hyper-condensed bits of conflict and resolution, and portioned out in easy to digest morsels.

I…..couldn’t……look away……..

I should go check out the museums, galleries and peruse the funky neighborhoods of this unknown city…..

Maybe there’s a fun bar where I could catch a happy-hour special and check out the local lads…..

All of these potential moments of discovery and exploration took a back seat to “Pimp My Ride”, “South Park”, delicious “Jamie Oliver”, “Wildboyz” and my self-deluding attempt to “catch up on the news” by watching “The Daily Show”.

Is it really 3:00 AM? Just one more episode……