Audio / Video MnemoTechnics

Beer Mystic Chapter 33: Furman’s mom visits his East Village apartment by bart plantenga

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bartMnemoheaderHappy birthday/mother’s day, mom, 2015

The decline of my mother, now 90 on 14 May, has been a slow, long descent since I was a teen. In my youngest youth, she was beautiful and loving. But as I turned 13 or so, her inability to navigate her way through reality became more evident. Things, jokes, music began to bug her. Her loving was replaced by a kind of obsession with the formalities of mothering, the rituals, the cleaning, the forbidding – the mechanics. This has increased over time and even while me and my brother were growing up, neighborhood kids would mock and tease my mom and call her Crazy Tina.

I never tried to analyze it until about 10 years ago, when I realized that her life had probably been more adversely affected by World War II than we thought. She was a teen in Amsterdam and had her best years confiscated by circumstance and any hopes she had for using her artistic inclination toward something satisfying in life somehow became secondary to survival and recovery.

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Warning: The Suppression of Mirth and Scurrilous Laughter by bart plantenga

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WARNING: High Levels of Scurrilous Laughter

by bart plantenga

 

“L’humour est le plus court chemin d’un homme à un autre.” (Humor is the shortest road from one person to another.) • Georges Wolinski, satirical cartoonist at CH [RIP]

1a moquezThe nervous laugh, the golfer’s clap of hilarity, is applied in situations involving severely uncomfortable moments of consciousness, when one realizes that a humorist is suddenly talking about you or your type or talking about something you have no clue about, but you laugh anyway just in case – so as not to appear clueless or unhip.

These unsettling ah-ha moments occur in connection with the most scurrilous, upsetting of art forms – mockery, satire, burlesque, parody – which breed unease because here is where we undergo dramatic renovations of our comfort zone. But that’s the extent of our arsenal. They have our health benefits, we have heightened derision. They have the generals & the priests, we have the cartoonist & the stand-up comedian.

That the art of laughing at – & then getting others to laugh at – the absurd cruelty of the entitled, those who possess the power to make but mostly break is something we should not under estimate. The ultimate target of satire & comedy is hypocrisy, big hypocrisy as perpetrated upon us by those we entrust with our vote, our hard-earned wages, our lives, our rental agreements, our subscriptions, our souls.

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Fuck Art: A conversation with Sally Eckhoff by bart plantenga

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F*ck Art (Let’s Dance):

A conversation with Sally Eckhoff

 

by bart plantenga

party pic smaller

Eckhoff [middle] shows that art is a serious 24-7 business

“I became an artist of lots of different things besides painting: an artist of ordering takeout, dancing all beered up in downtown bars, banging around my own head in the night, walking home without getting mugged, of wanting –  sometimes begging and self-deceiving, too.”

• Sally Eckhoff

I must say I was worried when I began reading artist-writer-equestrian Sally Eckhoff’s exuberant ode-critique of New York from her decidedly engaged, joi de vivre, painter’s point of view as it portrays the NY “we” knew during its second-to-last gasps of affordable decadence, the mid-1980s. Since then – the exact date is unknown and debated – NYC has managed to descend into a state of tortured opulence, of clichéd bling, something like trannie makeup on a corpse – something like that. 

This decline is much bickered and written about on social media. But that’s OK because, even if the breakfast joint sucked back then it sucked with a certain panache that makes it superior to sucking today. Or so goes the argument. NYC is now a playground-backdrop for the elite’s commercials, their bonuses, their exploitations. Sally articulated this well: “I always under-estimate rich people’s ability to transform their routines for the sake of amusement.” And make no mistake, it is their amusement park now.

That the book was like one thick, page-turning, mnemonic device means that each page pretty much recalled or continued the already driving, pumping, heated, babel-like soundtrack as brought to you by jazz legends from the 50s, acid jazz, Fugs, Borbetomagus, Don Cherry, Lou Reed, bad FM radio like WNEW-FM & PIX-FM, the Ramones the Clash when they became obsessed with NYC, the Paladium concerts, the Limelight nights, the general din that seemed to keep our souls vacuum-sealed and hooked on the IV drip that was adrenalin + loud, clangorous and jangly sounds  – I think of the elegant, edgy beats at 99 Records – ESG, Liquid Liquid, Y Pants, Singers & Players – and that seemed to speak to us more than any visual or poetic works, that seemed to both criticize and lionize, both transcend and indulge in the tumultuous and frenetic out there where our the nerve endings of all of our extremities seemed to tingle day and night suspiciously until one day you just passed out. Each page in F*ck Art recalls a specific sound, each sound recalls a specific corner, each memory of that corner is a page in my/our diary.

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bart plantenga — in conversation with John Wisniewski and Mark McCawley

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bart plantenga

in conversation with

John Wisniewski

and Mark McCawley

 
bart-university of writing
 

John Wisniewski: When did you begin writing, bart? When did you publish your first writings?

bart plantenga: On any conscious level? It was probably in high school. A kind of prosaic awakening. First in 9th grade, for an assignment where we had to “travel” through South America and keep a diary I did one – times 10. Mine was over 100 pages long, about 3x longer than anyone else’s – I didn’t know I liked writing about places I had [never] been to. I wouldn’t know for another 2 years that that could be a talent – and what I’ve come to realize many years later an extremely underpaid talent at that.

For instance: Did you ever get into a discussion with friends or coworkers about being underpaid, earning a shit wage and such. Well, I have only done this once or twice: tried to estimate how much per hour I earned for an article or book I was paid for. You don’t want to know. THEY don’t want to know. It is like 10 American cents per hour. You point that out and nobody wants to hear it or believe.
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The Geographical Rewriting of Memory by bart plantenga

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The Geographical Rewriting of Memory

 

bart plantenga

Listen to Wreck Travel Memory as you read 

It all begins with some lit fuse, an old jingle for Palisades Amusement Park you’re still able to sing along with [“shows & dancing are free”], or the snap of a finger, the way she used to from the edge of the bed with a smirk, some glance of exposed warm skin holding the aroma of sun tan lotion, the sea lions in Central Park Zoo that remind you of Salinger – & reading Salinger on the 1979 F-Train & meeting Sylvina. I used to be a foot messenger & would pass through the zoo when it was rundown but free & I would talk to the animals between deliveries. [The old zoo serves as the final destination in BEER MYSTIC.] Or maybe its some vintage news report from the 1968 Chicago Riots, or an email from an old flame you came to NYC with from Ann Arbor who is wondering how you’re doing, or a sound – in my case, the sound bites here included, plus a few elusive bars from “Funk #49” by James Gang. Or is it Paloma taking photos of turtles in Central Park because she remembers my touching stories about my turtle “Spotty” when I was 10 & how the neighbors released him & I was heartbroken. “Was that what Spotty looked like?” she kept asking.

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