Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chicago Breakdown

All then, and again...

Lots of catching up to do. First of all, thanks to all of you who have made it out to the recent shows.

If you haven't been following along regarding the latest shows, I've been playing in the Midwest and the Southeast in recent weeks. I have also begun recording a new CD in Chicago with J.P. Lilliston.

The other week we tasted a bit of shock when a flash rainstorm flooded the Chicago studio, leaving us with fingers crossed for about a week everything dried out and the body count got added up. Praise His Name, the modem and the back up - back up hard drive gave their all for the cause, leaving the computer the external hard drive and all of the tracks we'd already cut intact.

We are out of commission pending an insurance check and reconnecting the network, but we'll be back at it in no time. We've recorded the vocal/guitar/tempo skeletons of nine songs, and are sort of arranging a tenth - spoken word - number via internet and phone. We are attempting to set a recent prose piece to a musical background that resembles the Velvet Underground song "What Goes On". Check my posts from about a month ago to find my prose-poem about an aerial photo of Nashville. Those will be the "lyrics" of the "song".

We've already done rather promising "sketches" (how many "" am I gonna squeeze into this shit?) of two songs. One song - "Detroit City Boy" - is really beginning to cut sharp with gnashing layers of funky-mean slide laid down my Mr. Lilliston.

We stayed up too late nearly every night we were recording. We were putting in rather regular hours, but in the eve we ate - had a killer beef and leek soup at a Korean restaurant we were able to stroll to from Chez Lilliston - and watched movies before JP and I would retire to the studio to listen to our day's work and rap about ideas, referencing other songs that inevitably lead to JP pulling up said chanson on the iTunes...listening...scheming...

We also have a tune that is twisting into a kind of carribean/reggae vibe. JP had more than one reggae groove in mind during the Blue Turns Black project, but none of them stuck. JP's total creativity during the making of that last record is one of the reasons why we are working on this record more directly, with JP taking a producer/engineer role. In the meantime, I am vacating the Admiral's chair and getting a chance to focus a bit more on writing, singing, playing. A shared vision all around. Nice to team up with him in this way, especially when we are off to such a great start.

I posted some links to early demos weeks ago, but they've all been taken down. If you want to hear some of these latest mock-ups, contact me or leave a comment and your wish shall be granted.

Happy 4th of July


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Joe Nolan

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Undiscovered Country

God Bless us every one.

I have recently discovered a trove of treasure, a vein really, one full of heroines in the rain, firing arrows into the stars.

Moving images move at the speed of light. We sit hushed in darkened theaters while Scientists madly scratch their heads in search of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

In Contempt, Godard builds a universe on a piece of ass and James Toback counts to 7 and back again using every one of his Fingers. Blake saw the Universe in a Grain of Sand when he woke from a vision of a movie camera's glass lens.

We reproduce the moving of our movements so that they may move again. Not to infantilize - to live forever in a repeating loop - but to prove the existence of parallel worlds. To show ourselves to ourselves the way some mystics see human beings as the eyes of God staring back at the blind, mad, demiurge. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, and we are the eyes of God, then surely we replicate HIS replication and the fall continues unabated.

Apples are complimented by both butter and popcorn.

Lets open the vein and see what - exactly - may pour out.

The Power of Words

- Edgar Allen Poe

OINOS. Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with immortality!

AGATHOS. You have spoken nothing, my Oinos, for which pardon is to be demanded. Not even here is knowledge thing of intuition. For wisdom, ask of the angels freely, that it may be given!

OINOS. But in this existence, I dreamed that I should be at once cognizant of all things, and thus at once be happy in being cognizant of all.

AGATHOS. Ah, not in knowledge is happiness, but in the acquisition of knowledge! In for ever knowing, we are for ever blessed; but to know all were the curse of a fiend.

OINOS. But does not The Most High know all?

AGATHOS. That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the one thing unknown even to Him.

OINOS. But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last all things be known?

AGATHOS. Look down into the abysmal distances!–attempt to force the gaze down the multitudinous vistas of the stars, as we sweep slowly through them thus–and thus–and thus! Even the spiritual vision, is it not at all points arrested by the continuous golden walls of the universe?–the walls of the myriads of the shining bodies that mere number has appeared to blend into unity?

OINOS. I clearly perceive that the infinity of matter is no dream.

AGATHOS. There are no dreams in Aidenn–but it is here whispered that, of this infinity of matter, the sole purpose is to afford infinite springs, at which the soul may allay the thirst to know, which is for ever unquenchable within it–since to quench it, would be to extinguish the soul's self. Question me then, my Oinos, freely and without fear. Come! we will leave to the left the loud harmony of the Pleiades, and swoop outward from the throne into the starry meadows beyond Orion, where, for pansies and violets, and heart's- ease, are the beds of the triplicate and triple–tinted suns.

OINOS. And now, Agathos, as we proceed, instruct me!–speak to me in the earth's familiar tones. I understand not what you hinted to me, just now, of the modes or of the method of what, during mortality, we were accustomed to call Creation. Do you mean to say that the Creator is not God?

AGATHOS. I mean to say that the Deity does not create.

OINOS. Explain.

AGATHOS. In the beginning only, he created. The seeming creatures which are now, throughout the universe, so perpetually springing into being, can only be considered as the mediate or indirect, not as the direct or immediate results of the Divine creative power.

OINOS. Among men, my Agathos, this idea would be considered heretical in the extreme.

AGATHOS. Among angels, my Oinos, it is seen to be simply true.

OINOS. I can comprehend you thus far–that certain operations of what we term Nature, or the natural laws, will, under certain conditions, give rise to that which has all the appearance of creation. Shortly before the final overthrow of the earth, there were, I well remember, many very successful experiments in what some philosophers were weak enough to denominate the creation of animalculae.

AGATHOS. The cases of which you speak were, in fact, instances of the secondary creation–and of the only species of creation which has ever been, since the first word spoke into existence the first law.

OINOS. Are not the starry worlds that, from the abyss of nonentity, burst hourly forth into the heavens–are not these stars, Agathos, the immediate handiwork of the King?

AGATHOS. Let me endeavor, my Oinos, to lead you, step by step, to the conception I intend. You are well aware that, as no thought can perish, so no act is without infinite result. We moved our hands, for example, when we were dwellers on the earth, and, in so doing, gave vibration to the atmosphere which engirdled it. This vibration was indefinitely extended, till it gave impulse to every particle of the earth's air, which thenceforward, and for ever, was actuated by the one movement of the hand. This fact the mathematicians of our globe well knew. They made the special effects, indeed, wrought in the fluid by special impulses, the subject of exact calculation–so that it became easy to determine in what precise period an impulse of given extent would engirdle the orb, and impress (for ever) every atom of the atmosphere circumambient. Retrograding, they found no difficulty, from a given effect, under given conditions, in determining the value of the original impulse. Now the mathematicians who saw that the results of any given impulse were absolutely endless–and who saw that a portion of these results were accurately traceable through the agency of algebraic analysis–who saw, too, the facility of the retrogradation–these men saw, at the same time, that this species of analysis itself, had within itself a capacity for indefinite progress–that there were no bounds conceivable to its advancement and applicability, except within the intellect of him who advanced or applied it. But at this point our mathematicians paused.

OINOS. And why, Agathos, should they have proceeded?

AGATHOS. Because there were some considerations of deep interest beyond. It was deducible from what they knew, that to a being of infinite understanding–one to whom the perfection of the algebraic analysis lay unfolded–there could be no difficulty in tracing every impulse given the air–and the ether through the air–to the remotest consequences at any even infinitely remote epoch of time. It is indeed demonstrable that every such impulse given the air, must, in the end, impress every individual thing that exists within the universe;–and the being of infinite understanding–the being whom we have imagined–might trace the remote undulations of the impulse- trace them upward and onward in their influences upon all particles of an matter–upward and onward for ever in their modifications of old forms–or, in other words, in their creation of new–until he found them reflected–unimpressive at last–back from the throne of the Godhead. And not only could such a thing do this, but at any epoch, should a given result be afforded him–should one of these numberless comets, for example, be presented to his inspection–he could have no difficulty in determining, by the analytic retrogradation, to what original impulse it was due. This power of retrogradation in its absolute fulness and perfection–this faculty of referring at all epochs, all effects to all causes–is of course the prerogative of the Deity alone–but in every variety of degree, short of the absolute perfection, is the power itself exercised by the whole host of the Angelic intelligences.

OINOS. But you speak merely of impulses upon the air.

AGATHOS. In speaking of the air, I referred only to the earth; but the general proposition has reference to impulses upon the ether- which, since it pervades, and alone pervades all space, is thus the great medium of creation.

OINOS. Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?

AGATHOS. It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the source of all motion is thought–and the source of all thought is-


AGATHOS. I have spoken to you, Oinos, as to a child of the fair Earth which lately perished–of impulses upon the atmosphere of the Earth.

OINOS. You did.

AGATHOS. And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some thought of the physical power of words? Is not every word an impulse on the air?

OINOS. But why, Agathos, do you weep–and why, oh why do your wings droop as we hover above this fair star–which is the greenest and yet most terrible of all we have encountered in our flight? Its brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream–but its fierce volcanoes like the passions of a turbulent heart.

AGATHOS. They are!–they are! This wild star–it is now three centuries since, with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the feet of my beloved–I spoke it–with a few passionate sentences- into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts.



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Joe Nolan

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Sleepless Film Festival Presents - The Tears of a Clown Double Feature: Renaldo and Clara and Les Enfants du Paradis

Good morning, comrades.

Today - for your enjoyment - another chapter in our ongoing programming at The Sleepless Film Festival. Today's pick will be Bob Dylan's 1975 epic, Renaldo and Clara.

More than just a concert film, Renaldo' clocks in at nearly 4 hours and is packed with improvised scenes featuring Mr. Zimmerman as well as the revolving cast of characters that peopled the fabled Rolling Thunder Revue tour, including: Joan Baez, Scarlett Rivera, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin Jack Elliot, Allen Ginsberg, Ronnie Hawkins, Sam Shepard and others.

Shepard was brought on as a screenwriter for the film, but ended up spending most of the tour holding on for dear life, taking enough notes to pen his classic Rolling Thunder Logbook - a great companion to the film.

Dylan is ultimately credited with writing and directing the film, and the influence of Marcel Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis is evident throughout - particularly in Dylan's infamous use of whiteface, clown makeup.

As a special treat, we are also including Carne's classic for a kind of Dylanesque double feature. But first, here is the films synopsis from the good people at Film Threat:

BOOTLEG FILES 127: "Renaldo and Clara” (1977 Bob Dylan nightmare).

LAST SEEN: We cannot confirm the last public screening.




BOOTLEG OPPORTUNITIES: Scratch and it will surface.

Being a film critic, I’ve been able to see an awful lot of movies. And, also, I’ve seen a lot of awful movies. But when it comes to the movie misfires, there is always a nagging question: when do you hit the bottom of the barrel? Surely there must be one film that can stand out as being the very, very, very worst thing ever made.

Well, I found the bottom of the barrel. And it is occupied by “Renaldo and Clara,” the 1977 monstrosity that marked the film directing debut of Bob Dylan. Yes, that Bob Dylan. The one-time Robert Zimmerman put down his guitar, picked up a viewfinder, and brought forth something which could charitably be described as the single biggest waste of celluloid in the entire history of motion pictures.

Unlike classic baddies such as “Plan 9 from Outer Space” or “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” “Renaldo and Clara” does not lend itself to the so-bad-it’s-good charm. You cannot laugh along, MST3K-style, at its awfulness. Instead, you are left numb, dumb and completely baffled at the thorough incoherence and painful lethargy of this endeavor. If I could, to borrow a Cher lyric, turn back time – well, I would turn back the four hours (yes, four hours) of the “Renaldo and Clara” running time that I put myself through.

Four hours of what? Even after watching it, I have no idea what the f**k the movie is supposed to be about. Bob Dylan plays Renaldo and his then-wife Sara plays Clara. Who these people are and what they are supposed to do is never defined. Three-hundred-pound Ronnie Hawkins plays Bob Dylan and Ronee Blakely (fresh off her Oscar-nominated debut in “Nashville”) plays Sara Dylan. Joan Baez is also the Woman in White – if only because she wears white in the movie. Baez’s character and Sara are at odds over Renaldo’s love, or maybe not – this is not clear in Dylan’s mishmash of a screenplay.

Much of the footage was shot during Dylan’s now-legendary Rolling Thunder tour, although the reasons for Dylan’s eccentric on-stage appearance (wearing plastic masks or white paint on his face) is never explained or entirely clear.

In the course of the film, folk singer David Blue plays pinball alongside a swimming pool (huh?) while talking about New York’s Greenwich Village in the late 1950s and 1960s. A group of street preachers hector indifferent New Yorkers about the alleged end of the world. A belly dancer entertains the patrons of a restaurant by wiggling her solar plexus to “Hava Nagila,” and she is followed by a sleazy lounge singer performing “Wilkommen” from the musical “Cabaret,” who is then followed on stage by Allen Ginsberg. Then we cut back to David Blue at his pinball machine. Then we go to an Indian reservation. Then Ginsberg returns to read poetry.

It is not surprising that Steve Pulchalski, the editor of Shock Cinema, described the film as being “edited together with a Weed Eater.” Midway through the movie, the action switches into a concert benefit for Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer who was framed for murder in a controversial and long-running criminal case. Some scenes later, Harry Dean Stanton turns up as a convict escaping from prison. Joan Baez and Sara Dylan later turn up in a bordello dressed like prostitutes. Dylan (the real one, not Ronnie Hawkins) sings part of “House of the Rising Sun.” Allen Ginsberg returns to recite his classic poem “Kaddish” while a woman in Gypsy clothing massages his head. David Blue comes back later to play more pinball (perhaps he thought he was filming “Tommy”?). Allen Ginsberg returns again to dance (to what?). The film closes with a black woman, who is never identified and who played no part in the previous four hours, singing about “castles in the shifting sands.”

Every now and then, Dylan sings something. Often the performances are magical (his cover of Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” plus “Tangled Up In Blue” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” are standouts). But more often than not, he is a sullen and shadowy presence. A variety of oddballs ranging from Sam Shepard (in his film debut) to Ramblin’ Jack Elliot to Roger McGuinn pop up here and there, with no clear purpose.

(This brief description fails to take into account the endless and pointless symbolism of such objects as flowers, horse-drawn carriages, rooms full of senior citizens and Jack Kerouac’s grave – all of which figure prominently).

Dylan’s relationship with cinema was never entirely satisfying. He loathed the documentary “Don’t Look Now” that enshrined him as a 60s icon, dismissing it as “somebody else’s movie.” His acting debut in Sam Peckinpah’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” was widely considered to be a disaster and an earlier attempt at directing, the 1972 documentary “Eat the Document,” was equally egregious. Deciding to take the reins and be his own director and writer may have seemed like a good idea, but in fact it was a disaster since “Renaldo and Clara” turned out to be little more than a rambling wreck of a home movie.

In an interview with Playboy timed to the film’s release, Dylan blithely declared “Renaldo and Clara” to be a “very open movie.” He also acknowledged the film (much of it financed by himself) ran far beyond its projected $600,000 budget – Dylan told the Playboy interviewer that his previous two tours existed to raise funds for this project.

“Renaldo and Clara” opened to overwhelmingly hostile and bewildered reviews, although a few critics (most notably David Sterritt of the Christian Science Monitor) were charitably in praising its uncommon approach to linear storytelling. Audiences, though, stayed away in droves. Even the thousands who packed the “Rolling Thunder” tour wouldn’t pay to see Dylan on the big screen. Word of mouth proved so fatal that Dylan withdrew the film and cut two hours from its running time. But the trimmer “Renaldo and Clara” was still a hodgepodge horror and the film was withdrawn.

To date, Dylan has refused to allow “Renaldo and Clara” to have a commercial home video release. Bootlegs of shaky quality can be found, and their origins are traced to a single telecast on the British Channel 4 some years ago.

Dylan’s failure with “Renaldo and Clara” did not end his film work. He turned up in 1987 as the star of “Hearts of Fire” and co-wrote and starred in the 2003 fiasco “Masked and Anonymous.” Incredibly, Dylan eventually won an Academy Award – for his song “Things Have Changed” in the 2000 film “Wonder Boys.” The idea that the man who made “Renaldo and Clara” could possess an Oscar is enough to bring illness to anyone who loves movies..

And now - Renaldo and Clara...

Our second feature - Marcel Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis - also deserves an introduction. This one comes from our pal at the Chicago Sun-Times, Mr. Roger Ebert:

All discussions of Marcel Carne's ''Children of Paradise'' begin with the miracle of its making. Named at Cannes as the greatest French film of all time, costing more than any French film before it, ''Les Enfants du Paradis'' was shot in Paris and Nice during the Nazi occupation and released in 1945. Its sets sometimes had to be moved between the two cities. Its designer and composer, Jews sought by the Nazis, worked from hiding. Carne was forced to hire pro-Nazi collaborators as extras; they did not suspect they were working next to resistance fighters. The Nazis banned all films over about 90 minutes in length, so Carne simply made two films, confident he could show them together after the war was over. The film opened in Paris right after the liberation, and ran for 54 weeks. It is said to play somewhere in Paris every day.

That this film, wicked, worldly, flamboyant, set in Paris in 1828, could have been imagined under those circumstances is astonishing. That the production, with all of its costumes, carriages, theaters, mansions, crowded streets and rude rooming houses, could have been mounted at that time seems logistically impossible (''It is said,'' wrote Pauline Kael, ''that the starving extras made away with some of the banquets before they could be photographed''). Carne was the leading French director of the decade 1935-1945, but to make this ambitious costume film during wartime required more than clout; it required reckless courage.

Despite the fame of ''Children of Paradise, most of the available prints are worn and dim. It used to play every New Years' Day at Chicago's beloved Clark Theater, and that's where I first saw it, in 1967, but the 1991 laserdisc was of disappointing quality, and videotapes even worse. Now the film has been released in sparkling clarity on a Criterion DVD that begins with a restored Pathe 35mm print and employs digital technology to make the blips, dirt and scratches disappear. It is likely the film has not looked better since its premiere. There are formidably informative commentary tracks by Brian Stonehill and Charles Affron.

The film's original trailer (on the disc) calls ''Children of Paradise'' the French answer to ''Gone With the Wind.'' In its scope and its heedless heroine, there is a similarity, but the movie is not a historical epic but a sophisticated, cynical portrait of actors, murderers, swindlers, pickpockets, prostitutes, impresarios and the decadent rich. Many of the characters are based on real people, as is its milieu of nightclubs, dives and dens, theaters high and low, and the hiding places of the unsavory.

Carne plunges us directly into this world with his famous opening shot on the ''Boulevard of Crime,'' which rivals the ''street of dying men'' scene in ''GWTW,'' reaching seemingly to infinity, alive with activity, jammed with countless extras. This was a set designed by the great art director Alexander Trauner, working secretly; the credits list his contribution as ''clandestine.'' To force the perspective and fool the eye, he used buildings that fell off rapidly in height, and miniature carriages driven by dwarves. The street is a riot of low-life. Mimes, jugglers, animal acts and dancers provide previews outside their theaters, to lure crowds inside. One of the first attractions we see is advertised as ''Truth.'' This is the elegant courtesan Garance, who revolves slowly in a tub of water, regarding herself naked in a mirror. The water conceals her body, so that she supplies ''truth, but only from the neck up.'' This is also what she supplies in life.

Garance is played by Arletty (1898-1992), born as Leonie Bathiat, who became a star in the 1930s and was, truth to tell, a little old to play a sexual temptress who mesmerizes men. Like Marlene Dietrich, to whom she was often compared, Arletty's appeal was based not on fresh ripeness but on a tantalizing sophistication. What fascinates men is that she has seen it all, done it all, admits it, takes their measure, and yet flatters them that she adores them. Even cutthroats fall under her spell; when the criminal Lacenaire tells her ''I'd spill torrents of blood to give you rivers of diamonds'' she looks him in the eye and replies, ''I'd settle for less.''

Around Garance circle many of the movie's most important characters. The mime Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) sees her from her stage, defends her in pantomime against a pickpocket charge, is rewarded by a rose, and falls for her. So does Frederick Lemaitre (Pierre Brasseur), as an actor who dreams of doing something good--perhaps Shakespeare. And Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), who with his ruffled shirt, curly hair, villain's mustache and cold speech is the Rhett Butler of the piece. And the Count Edouard de Montray (Louis Salou), who thinks he has brought her but discovers he was only renting.

It is possible that Garance truly loves the innocent Baptiste, who triumphs in a bar brawl and brings her home to his rude rooming house, where he rents her a room of her own and retires separately for the night. But Frederick, who lives in the rooming house, has no such scruples--and, for that matter, Baptiste is no saint. He marries the theater manager's daughter, sires ''an abominable offspring,'' in the words of Pauline Kael, and cheats on his wife by still loving Garance. Lacenaire, who strides through the underworld like a king, basking in his reputation for ruthlessness, thinks he can have Garance for the asking (''you are the only woman for whom I do not have contempt''), but it is the Count whose money makes her his mistress. When Lacenaire pulls back a drapery so that the Count can see Garance in the arms of Frederick, so many men think they have the right to her that the actor observes, ''Jealousy belongs to all if a woman belongs to none.''

Most of the movie is frankly shot on sets, including exteriors. A misty dawn scene involving a duel provides a rare excursion outside Paris. He had ''an eye for the sad romance of fog-laden streets and squalid lodging houses,'' David Thomson writes. His characters live artificially in the demimonde, actors who are always on stage; if we meet a street beggar, like the blind man Fil de Soie (Gaston Modot), we are not much surprised to find he can see well enough indoors.

Carne's screenplay was by his usual collaborator Jacques Prevert; they not only set their story in a theatrical world but divert from the action to show the actors at work. Kael counts ''five kinds of theatrical performances,'' and they would include Baptiste's miming and a scene from ''Othello'' that provides oblique reflections on the plot. It is Baptiste whose art leaves the greatest impression. Jean-Louis Barrault (1910-1994), then a star at the Comedie Francais, is first seen in clown makeup, glumly surveying the Boulevard of Crime, brought to life only by his mimed defense of Garance. Later, he stages his own extended mime performance--only to see, from the stage, Garance flirting in the wings. No one's trust is repaid in this movie.

If Carne was France's leading director, Prevert was the leading screenwriter, at a time when writers were given equal billing with directors. They both continued to work for decades--Prevert into the 1960s, Carne into the 1980s--but never surpassed ''Children of Paradise.'' Indeed, it was precisely this kind of well-mounted, witty film that was attacked by the young French critics of the 1950s who later became known as the New Wave. They wanted a rougher, more direct, more improvisational feel--theater not on a stage but in your face.

If the Cannes festival were to attempt again today to choose the best French film ever made, would ''Children of Paradise'' win? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Just as American audiences prefer ''Gone With the Wind'' or ''Casablanca'' while the critics always choose ''Citizen Kane,'' at Cannes the palm might go to Godard or Truffaut, or Jean Vigo's ''L'Atalante.'' But ''Children of Paradise,'' now finally available in a high-quality print and ready to win new admirers, might have a chance. Few achievements in the world of cinema can equal it.


Use this player to listen to my new CD. Purchase a song or two at your favorite digital outlet and help us stay awake here at Insomnia!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Burning Thing

Love in the Free World

Chapter One - The Free and the Brave

He sat on the porch, twirling a wooden match between his fingers like a tiny baton. The cars passed by on The Boulevard with a sweet hiss in the just-cool night time air. He could hear the television in the downstairs apartment. A trumpet played a fanfare and a number of people clapped and cheered. It was either a game show or a war movie.

Chapter Two - A Woman's Prerogative

Like the night before - and the night before that - she was already in her pajamas by 9:30, the slight burn beneath the blinking lids of her eyes like a sharp little voice admonishing her to get to bed even a few minutes earlier tonight. She had to be up by 5 to catch the bus by 6 to make it to her stop by 6:30 to cross the street at Mag and West by 6:45 to get to the University by 7; at which point she would stop into the Student Union and order a small orange juice to drink with the perpetual cereal bars she pulled from her purse like magician's rabbits. She'd read the latest movie review in the paper and see if she could complete the crossword before heading to teach her class at 8. She had finished the whole puzzle just yesterday.

Chapter Three - Me and the Blues

The Kid got up late. He had a way of getting off his schedule. This was mostly due to the fact that there was no schedule to keep. Not really. Ever since the surgery, he had been at home - mostly in his room - mostly moving his head like a squirrel peaking out of a hole - fast jerky glances from side to side - as if "looking at things faster" would somehow compensate for the fact that his eyes really didn't work anymore. He glanced quickly to his left as he accidentally knocked his water over into his pill bottles. The entire TV tray crashed, the little blue capsules swelling and softening in the clear wet between the shards.

Chapter Four - Angels with Dirty Faces

As usual, the music was too loud. She was yelling something in his ear but he couldn't hear her. He yelled back, but she couldn't understand. He stepped away from her and took her by the shoulders, squaring her to himself and looking directly at her face.

"What?" He mouthed it exaggeratedly hoping she could read his lips. She smiled, closed her eyes and licked her lips as she inhaled - as if she was about to jump from a high dive. She exhaled and smiled and grabbed his elbows with her small hands, gently moving them in rhythm with her mouthings.

"I adore you."

Chapter 5 - Follow Apollo

The next day the sun rose and the sun set, and everyone was quite sure it would continue for some time.

The End

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Joe Nolan

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Romeo Has A Raygun

Bonjour, mes amis

Happy Monday!

Here's to hopin' you dreamed a little dream in the last 48.

Had a quiet weekend myself. Watched the Spartans win a few basketball games. Watched my friend's teams lose a few. I've enjoyed that a little bit too much ;)

The Silent Sounding Sea

Chapter One - The Young Boy

The Young Boy stood on the grey cliff overlooking the blue water. The breeze blew in from the west, warm and full of sun. In the distance he could hear the Monday morning sounds of the market opening. He could smell roasted meat and rich country dirt as he contemplated the deep dark indigo that stretched to the edge of the sky.

Chapter Two - The Physics of the Free Kick

All the boys yelled at once, shirtless but dry in the mid-afternoon sun despite the frantic pace of the game. The ball passed quickly from foot to foot, knee to chest, head to ground, only to pop loose suddenly like prisoner on the run, skittering across the dry dust toward the women where they cooked and smoked their pipes, before finally being caught by one of the young boys who extended his foot passed the ball - mid-run - and brought his heel down like an ax, sending the sphere leaping backwards toward another dark, wavy head. The women looking on disapprovingly as if to say "Boys and men are only full of games."

Chapter Three - Romeo Has a Raygun

Three small tables constituted a makeshift cafe in the market. The American frowned beneath his stringy mustache like he had taken a bite of bad fruit. Keeping to himself, he read from a thin volume of Shakespeare. Having spent a lot of time alone, he had developed the habit of talking to himself. Around others, he usually whispered, but absorbed in his reading, surrounded by the chaos of the market, he had forgotten himself and mumbled aloud -

The world's my oyster
Which I with sword will open.

On the small table next to his coffee, a British voice spoke English over a satellite radio -

Surging demand for feed, food, and fuel have recently led to drastic price increases, which are not likely to fall in the foreseeable future, due to low stocks and slow-growing supplies of agricultural outputs. Climate change will also have a negative impact on food production, compounding the challenge of meeting global food demand, and potentially exacerbating hunger and malnutrition among the world's poorest people. Economic growth has helped to reduce hunger, particularly when it is equitable. Unfortunately, growth is never positioned to reach the poorest people.

Chapter Four - The Winds On High

He ran as fast as he could. The young boy lifted one brown, bare foot onto the rock while the other swung forward into the emptiness. Rising into the air, the distant market disappeared from the edge of his sight, replaced only by billowing blue sky. At this highest point, the rest of his vision filled with the endless ocean. Imagining himself immersed in that warm water, he'd hold his breath - floating. Weightless. Forever.

The End

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Joe Nolan

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Where Does True Freedom Lie - Consequence and Necessity


Welcome aboard the good
ship gollywog!

Morning in the Old South. You can smell the smell of
people smelling
for the smell of the the idea of magnolias in bloom.

Not yet children. One should not be impatient with
the Sun.

42 Thou speak'st aright;
43 I am that merry wanderer of the night.
44 I jest to Oberon and make him smile
45 When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
46 Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
47 And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
48 In very likeness of a roasted crab,
49 And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
50 And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
51 The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
52 Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
53 Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
54 And "tailor" cries, and falls into a cough;
55 And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
56 And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
57 A merrier hour was never wasted there.
58 But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.

59 And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!

Enter the King of Fairies [OBERON]
at one door with his TRAIN, and the
Queen [TITANIA] at another with hers.

60 Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

- A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare

The Flaying of Marsyas, Titian

This painting has a soundtrack...

On black evenings the crows fly at half mast toward the
dreaded dawn. The daytime isn't all bad: the warm sun, the
rain baths, balmy winds beneath inky wings. But the night is
full of the dead. And the dead are full of blood and the soft

The night is full of dangers unseen and Apollo's reasonable light gives
way to the shadows of the passions and the frightened fates of superstition
and magic.
When the compass becomes a cutlass and the triangle spins boom-
erang, maps reduce to sad, nostalgic paintings and science celebrates fire
with the slaughter of another sacred animal.

Stretched between these poles, in the shocking realization of the dynamo, one must
ask - Where does True Freedom lie?

And now a word from Jack Parsons regarding the nature of freedom, it's consequences and necessity:

...The laws against mutually agreeable sex expression must be repealed, together with the laws prohibiting nudism, birth control and censorship. We must emphatically deny that love is criminal and that the body is indecent. We must affirm the beauty, the dignity, and joyousness and even the humor of sex.

Indeed there are obscene things in the light and in the darkness; things that deserve destruction: -- The exploitation of women for poor wages, the shameful degradation of minorities by the little lice who call themselves members of a 'superior race' and the deliberate machinations towards war. Nowhere among these genuine obscenities is there a place for the love shared by men and women. There are sins but love is not one of them and yet, of all the things that have been called sins, love has been the most punished and the most persecuted. Of all the beauties we know, the springtime of love is closest to paradise. And as all things pass, so love passes -- too soon. This most exquisite and tender of human emotions, this little moment of eternity, should be free and unrestrained. It should not be bought and sold, chained and restricted until lovers, caught in the maelstrom of economics and laws, are hounded like criminals. What end is served and who profits by such cruelty? Only priests and lawyers. Let us adhere to a strict morality where the rights and happiness of our fellow man is concerned. Let us call our true sins by their right names and expiate them accordingly -- but let our lovers go free.

If we are to achieve civilization and sanity, we must institute an educational program in love-making, birth control and disease prevention. Above all we must root out the barbaric and vicious concepts of shamefulness and indecency in sex, exposing the motives and methods of their proponents.

Happy are the parents who, as a result of sexual experimenting, are well mated, taking joy in each other's passion, seeing beauty in their nakedness and not fearing to expose their bodies or the bodies of their children. They would never shame their children for their natural sexual curiosity.

Jesus told the "fallen woman", "Go and sin no more" but I, who am a man, say to you who have given your body for the need of man's body, who have given your love freely for his spirit's sake; "Be blessed in the name of man. And if any god deny you for this, I will deny that god."

The ancients, being simple and without original sin, saw God in the act of love and therein they saw a great mystery, a sacrament revealing the bounty and the beauty of the force that made men and the stars. Thus they worshipped. Poor ignorant old Pagans! How we have progressed. What was most sacred to them, we see as a dirty joke. From this sordid joke we have played on ourselves only Woman Herself can redeem us. She has been the ignominious butt of the joke, the target of malice and arrogance and the scapegoat for masculine inferiority and guilt. She alone can redeem us from our crucifixion and castration. Only woman, of and by herself, can strike through the foolish frustration of the advertisers' ideal. She must elevate her strong, free and splendid image to take her place in the sun as an individual, a companion and mate fit for, and demanding no less than, true men.

Let there be an end to inhibition and an end to pretense. Let us discover what we are and be what we are, honestly and unashamedly. The rabbit has speed to recompense his fear, the panther strength to assuage his hunger. There is room for both even though the rabbit would probably prefer a world of rabbits (dull and overpopulated). All traits are useful wrath, fear, lust and even laziness -- if they are balanced by strength and intelligence. If we lie about things we call our weaknesses and sins, if we say that his is "evil" and that is "wrong", denying that such faults could be part of us, they will grow crooked in the dark. But when we have them out in the open; admitting them, facing them and accepting them, then we will be ashamed to leave any vestige of them secret to turn crippled and twisted. Fear can sharpen our wits against adversity. Anger and strength can be welded into a sword against tyrants both within and without. Lust can be trained to be the strong and subtle servant of love and art.

It is not necessary to deny anything. It is only necessary to know ourselves. Then we will naturally seek that which is needful to our being. Our significance does not lie in the extent to which we resemble others or in the extent to which we differ from them. It lies within our ability to be ourselves. This may well be the entire object of life; to discover ourselves, our meaning. This does not come in a sudden burst of illumination; it is a constant process which continues so long as we are truly alive. The process cannot continue unobstructed unless we are free to undergo all experience and willing to participate in all existence. Then the significant questions are not "is it right" or "is it good" but rather "how does it feel" and "what does it mean". Ultimately these are the only questions that can approach truth but they cannot be asked in the absence of freedom.

Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword, John Whiteside Parsons

Please take the time to check out my other vids, the archives of The Sleepless Film Festival, and more at my new You Tube channel:

Joe Nolan's Imagicon

Listen to "Mission" and the rest of my new CD - Blue Turns Black!

Joe Nolan

Use this player to listen to my new CD. Consider purchasing a song or two at your favorite digital outlet and help us stay awake here at Insomnia!

Check out my profile at Reverb Nation to see my updated press and bio.

Listen to my earlier releases, and enjoy free downloads here!

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