Archive for the ‘Sweet Tooth – Issue #14’ Category

Introduction of our new editor extraordinaire: Jamye St Romain & Film: The Lovers on the Bridge (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) 1991

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Introduction of our new editor extraordinaire: Jamye St Romain

My memory can’t decide if I saw Jayme perform at N Gallery first or if I met her as my son’s English teacher.  It doesn’t really matter because she is a multi-talented woman.

At N Gallery Jayme sang and played so lovely on acoustic guitar for the crowd of art lovers in a small room with a couch and lots of windows. I was lucky enough to capture some photos of her which I will share with you here in our last print issue before we go digital at the end of the world all dressed in red and green. If you have been paying attention, you will have read her wise writings in this very publication. I feel confident that she will bring a very bright light to these pages in the future so, please, join me in a collective welcome to Jayme. Cheers!

Film: The Lovers on the Bridge (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) 1991
Director: Léos Carax, same for Holy Motors (2012)

I love French films so I am excited to see Holy Motors, so much so that I scoured Netflix to find anything related to it.  Voila, I found a gem from thirteen years ago and it happens to be the last film before Holy Motors that Léos Carax worked on. So I watched Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with zeal.

Have you ever thought of water-skiing on the Seine while fireworks were going off? It has been done. Juliette Binoche’s character, Michèle, performs on the water under the Bastille Day display in Paris. I think it is spectacular and a true moment caught on film. The emotion expressed in this scene is the climax of the lovers’ mania. I bring this up because there is depression, too.

The famous and oldest bridge in Paris was under construction at the time of the filming, a perfect backdrop for the unfolding and closing and unfolding of a relationship between two vagrants. Of course the bridge is a metaphor but visually it puts you in the middle of Paris with a famous post modern department store staring down at you in many scenes. It’s mammoth hints at the real everyday struggle of making money and the ever looming possibility of being able to buy stuff.

In this film the places strike me as very powerful psychological states, the opening scene is a long blue tunnel with appropriate music, suggesting where the mind of actor Denis Lavant as Alex, is in the next scene. Carax brings you into the lives of these two people as if you are the driver of the convertible Peugeot that runs over Alex’s legs and keeps going.  It’s brilliant.

I hope this is a teaser enough to get you to watch Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and with Holy Motors under your belt you can compare and contrast.

Armageddon’s Cotillion

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Dark angels whisper,
tat platinum lace clouds,
stud charcoal velvet
sky with diamond
stars. Moscow’s moon weeps ice tears
of joy. December’s
frost kisses Cold War’s
daughter. Cinnamon, incense,
myrrh ignite senses;
red lightening summons,
scars Heavens. Kremlin rises:
mayhem incited
by Stalin’s’ spirit;
Carlos the Jackal’s ghost flees
to safe house, now the
Intercontinental
Praha. He hops Staromestska
metro to state
opera: transfixed by Carmen,
haunts private boxes. Archangel
Gabriel plays “Back in the
USSR” on celestial
saxophone. Khrushchev tangos
with JFK; CIA
cha-chas with KGB;
MI6 calls Bond. James Bond
bossanovas
with Moneypenney.
Hipsters boogaloo, frug.
Shaken, not stirred.

Red and Green

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I read a quote a while back: “There are two kinds of people: those who put people into two categories, and those who don’t.” HaHa…. Well, when it comes to making resolutions for the New Year, I’m one of those people who don’t. However, I am definitely one of those people who likes to reflect on the past year and at leastcast a forward glance to where I hope I might be headed in the coming year. I wrote on myblog last year that what I hoped for 2012 was that it would involve lots of music-making andart…because those are things I love. Go read my blog and see for yourself…it all happened(http://keepingtimewithjamye.blogspot.com/).

At the beginning of 2012, I serendipitously found my way into a music experiment led by localmusician and teacher Dave Hinson. Six or eight of us living-room-guitar-players converged inhis super hip music practice room in mid-city week after week and learned how to play musicwith others. I even learned how to play the drums, which is certainly not something I envisionedfor myself. Earlier this fall, we performed in public a few times, and now we’re learning how toread sheet music and will start doing some creative interpretations in the next few months.

Besides being a whole lot of fun, playing music with this group has been one of the best things inmy life this year. For me, playing with others is a whole lot better than playing by myself. Andwhen it comes to singing, having someone to harmonize with is way better than singing alone.It’s another kind of joy that comes from doing your “thing” with others who are doing their“thing”, and complementing each other.

The way I started playing drums was that Dave noticed I was playing the guitar percussively.So, one night he put me on drums. I’d never held a drumstick in my life before that. Now Iknow that rhythm is my thing. And frankly, I’m not the best guitar-player, so it’s kind of free-ing to know I don’t have to be. There are plenty of good guitar-players in my group, and I likeit the best when I’m playing drums and singing. Maybe this next phase of learning to readand interpret sheet music will improve my guitar playing. Maybe I’ll learn to play anotherinstrument, like keyboard. But, there’ll be more music-making, for sure.

I also teach art and painting through various venues and programs around town. They say thebest way to really learn something is to teach it, right? Painting has taught me how to see colorsand how to look, how to observe, much better than if I didn’t paint. Someone said you think youknow something until you try to paint it. You have to look at something long and close beforeyou can paint it well. Quite an intimate exchange…one that demands a slowing-down and someloving attentiveness. One that, in my opinion, is quite worthwhile.

One of my favorite things to teach is basic color theory. Red, yellow, and blue can be mixed tocreate orange, purple, and green. It’s the color-wheel. Colors opposite each other on the color-wheel are “complementary”, which means they vibrate when they are next to each other, creatingsome visual intensity on a canvas. Purple and yellow. Blue and orange. Red and green.

When I think of “Red and Green”, the first thing that pops in my head is a traffic light. Redmeans stop. Green means go. We’re at the point of stopping one year and starting another.Maybe the color I’m in right now is more like yellow. I like to slow down, take a look back,glance forward, and then keep on keeping time. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be when theclock strikes midnight on December 31st, nor do I know what the year ahead holds. I have thisvague notion, though, that it will involve a whole lot of music-making and art. That’s what Ihope.

You know how to read, now learn how to be a reader

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

That world is the tangible, paper laden, perfect bound industry that used to gallop along a very sturdyterrain where x amount of books went out from the printer, and less the purchased, stolen, or damaged,x amount when back to the warehouse. There were some variations in form— hardcover, paperback,the CD ROM at one point— and the occasional upset brought on by big box stores or the introduction ofPrint On Demand. But the ether we’re sticking our toes into now is a boundless, limitless, content drivenswimming pool with depths determined by metadata and riddled with more questions than answers.But the one certainty is that anyone who fancies themselves a reader or a cultural consumer should payattention to this sea change, and here are just some of the reasons why.

Fifty Shades of Grey : It is empowering and exciting to know that an author can take control over thecreation, distribution, and marketing of their own product. But the truth is the writing in the best sellingself-published book to date is nothing short of terrible and the “cultural impact” of the story will be feltby unsuspecting boyfriends, and producers of vinyl bustiers everywhere— and that’s it. We do know,however, that the in the digital age the middleman has to prove their worth, it’s no longer enough toown the technology and it’s not always necessary to have the capital. The music industry, in failingto suppress this change, at least proved to the rest of us that labels, imprints, and studios have to dosomething the creators cannot do or do it better. But the value of what they offer rests entirely on whatthe consumer wants. Meaning the less you, as a reader, invest in books that have cultural merit—whichrequires story development, thorough editing, rights clearance, marketing to push an intelligent storyout in front of soft porn, and much more— the less you’ll get. So pay attention to where the smartbooks come from and participate in making sure they continue.

Discount-mania: Online shopping has brought with it a world of discounts and deals that havecompletely changed the way we buy things. I adore getting something on sale. I feel like I’ve beatenthe system, I get to wear these beautiful shoes and spare myself the guilt of buying them at full price.But the profit margins for creative works, especially those produced by small outfits, are very slim. Andwhen you value your discount over what the work is really worth, you are telling the marketplace whereto set the bar. So when you chose to buy books from your local bookshop or directly (be it a print orebook) at full price you are electing to forgo coupon-mania to guarantee artists as writers get paid andsupported. You won’t get to see that on your Kindle or read it on the spines along your bookshelf butthe continuity of having access to work that matters will be evidence enough.

Like It Culture: When I first started seeing my friends “like” State Farm Insurance and Walmart onFacebook, I assumed they had switched jobs or experienced some remarkable customer service. ThenI wised up and realized they had been entering sweepstakes , but for a time I was gullible enough lettheir endorsement mean something to me. We all know now that “likes” aren’t always what theyseem, but the fact remains that the consumer has become the endorser—we don’t really need AstonKutcher telling us to buy Nikon Cameras, we need a best friend from high school posting about it–and most companies know this. Word of mouth via social media is a monstrously powerful thing, theconsumer has never before had so much influence. So while you’re retweeting Selena’s love letters toJustin Beiber, think about what you’re doing with all your power. Think about the impact you couldhave if you curated your likes and shares as carefully as you do your actual friends, the ones you seein real life. If you have the time to “like” it, share it, or +1 it, or whatever, remember that you’re beingwatched, not just by your wealth of online acquaintances but by anyone who will gain from and pay forthe knowledge. So maybe consider showing them what is worth seeing.

Ultimately, in this tumultuous world of change from physical to digital, from brick and mortar to onlineretail, it turns out the person with the most power is you, the reader. And while I can’t claim to knowwhat Simon & Schuster or Norton are going through, it’s safe to say that the asteroid of multi-mediaand access, that ebooks and the internet has amassed, has no martyr Bruce Willis to blow it up. There’sno Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith to hack into an alien computer system determined to reach victorythrough predatory pricing. And there shouldn’t be, this is the Wild West (a different Will Smith, if youwill…smith), this is the end of the world as we know it and if we harness the power we have been givenit could be, as Michael Stipe would say, just fine.

RED AND GREEN

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Multi-story buildings split the skyline on the block two streets over from my apartment. Foryears, commerce and the flats of those who manned the counters rubbed shoulders on the block.One by one, the occupants died and the forward looking next generation moved in. All theremainders of another time, the dry cleaners, the dusty book shops, the pharmacies, surrenderedto new construction. Men in hard hats drove bull dozers fitted with scoops to remove the debrisof generations past. Architects, little boys who used to build tree houses, directed contractors tochange the landscape. Fats rolls of drawings in cylindrical cases spelled the end for everythingbut a small building with a bow front window near the far end of the block.

Being new to the city, I did a bit of exploring and found Charlie the second week. Roamingaround the neighborhood, I rounded a corner and saw what I thought was an empty lot ahead.Thinking it odd someone had not pounced on a piece of prime real estate, I walked that way.Though it was mid-afternoon, the tall buildings rained shadows over me.

Thinking about it later, I realized how rare that afternoon had been. In a city of several millionpeople, I had the block all to myself. Sun beams defied the deepening shadow glittering thesidewalk as I toward the end of the corner.

Stopping in front of a small shop dwarfed by giants of steel and glass, I read Charles LongmireProprietor in faint gold letters on the smudged bow-front window. Not daring to hope, I turnedthe handle on the door and pushed it open. Shades of Alice, I thought, smiling with pleasure asthe tinkle of the bell activated by the opening door sounded.

First glance showed a man of about seventy-five behind a counter. Medium height with a twoday old beard, grizzled hair needing a trim and glasses perched on his nose. Not the pretention ofa pince-nez but an honest to God pair of glasses settled on the bridge of his nose for comfort andutility. A newspaper covered the counter in front of him. Nodding, he said, “Haven’t seen youbefore. New to the neighborhood?” Nodding yes, I circled the store to see the usual, magazines,sundries, soft drinks, a few loaves of bread, toiletries, no cosmetics, uh, oh, wrong there, in afar corner there were about ten lipsticks from the Heddy Lamarr era. Mentally, I reran a few oldlate night movies and came up with glistening full lips thick with crimson color. Except for thatanomaly and the echoing tinkle of the bell, my mind filed Charles Longmire’s away as nice butusual.

Time would make me change that file designation many times. Charles Longmire Proprietor,Charlie to those he allowed, became my friend and I found myself scrambling for spare minutesto share with him.

Charlie had lived a long time and would be the first to tell you he was old, old, old but hisinterest in all past and present be it the Mayans or advances in technology or medicine madeconversation with him like rubbing Aladdin’s lamp. His knowledge was the Open Sesame to thesponge of my mind.

Charlie’s candy jars were his pride and joy. He told me when he first opened the shop, theneighborhood people’s patronage kept him in business but his candy jars made friendships.Charlie’s became the place to pick up sweets for the girl you hoped to kiss, to get back in yourbrother’s good graces, or the non-verbal “I love you” for your mama.

The candy jars stood on sway-backed wooden shelves behind Charlie’s touch screen cashregister. Malted Milk balls, peppermint kisses, salt water taffy from Atlantic City, sour balls, aseemingly endless selection. Always on December first, two new jars appeared filled with redand green jelly beans. Never could decide if the candies were new each year or if Charlie pulledthe old ones out of storage. Didn’t matter; the tradition did.

More snow than usual fell that December. My reluctance to go out in the penetrating dampnessand my job kept me from Charlie’s. On the morning of December twenty-first, I tumbled out ofbed and into the kitchen. The action of the timer wreathed me in the aromatics of Andean coffeeand soothed my awakening with the pure sounds of Adeste Fidelis.

Sirens splintered the air as emergency vehicles raced by. The sound took me to the window.As they turned the corner and the wails began to diminish, I grabbed a coat and ran toward theebbing sound. Four police cars parked at odd angles filled the space in front of Charlie’s. Thedoor stood open and a faint tinkle floated on the cold, crisp air. I started toward the door, thenstopped, and cleaned a place on the bow-front window. Peering into the shop was like lookinginto one of those panoramic Easter eggs. No sound, just the scene.

One crumpled seventy-five year old man, medium height, grizzled hair needing a trim, two-dayold beard, glasses askew on his nose, an ear piece broken.

Charlie had fallen against the worn sway backed shelves when the perpetrator shot him.Scattered jelly beans decorated Charlie’s slowly congealing blood. When the killer fled,he dropped a few green bills near Charlie’s lifeless left hand. Red and green: the colors ofChristmas, the colors of Charlie’s death.

Charlie always told me not to put too much stock in those Mayan predictions and he was right.The world did not end on December twenty-first, but those Mayans were onto somethingbecause mine did.