BuccanAir

The Pilot Pirate

flies a peg-leg plane.

The Pilot Pirate

keeps booty on the brain.

The Pilot Pirate

has a sneaky parakeet,

who’d rather have an aisle

than a window seat.

The Pilot Pirate

navigates sea and air.

The Pilot Pirate

doesn’t have a care.

The Pilot Pirate

makes the world his lair,

soaring and swording

and ARRRR-ing everywhere.

The Pilot Pirate

wears an eye patch,

and when putting it on, yells,

“Batten down the hatch!”

The Pilot Pirate

goes fast but doesn’t run,

because swashbuckling sweaty

ruins the fun.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.56.58 PM

This photo first appeared on Instagram.  For more like it, click here.

CORNER OF WORD

Not quite as far out as

Where the sidewalk ends

Is where Word Street into

Other Word Street bends.

And at that intersection

Is a Dutch French Horn

And a squirrel swirl

And a torn acorn,

And a Bizarre Bazaar

And a big clinched couch

And Dorian DeLorean

In a crazyman crouch,

Holding over his head

A zydeco xylophone

To play a song for Aunt Cake

Louder than a cyclone,

Or a superbomb blast

From an Arctic typhoon

Howling over the surface

Of a baboon lagoon.

And inevitably when

That sound causes debris,

What acceptable receptacle

Will there possibly be?

Well that stripe of insight

Might be too great an onus

To expect even from

Wizened Old Bonus Jonas.

But there where Word Street bends

To Other Word Street

The junction’s real function’s

Clear as a snare beat:

To be a place friendly

to sound percolation

And weird letter unions,

night, day, and morn,

A magic locale of

twinkling tongue twisters,

the spot on the map

where poems may be born.

painttable_edit

CAN’T BE LICKED

All day I could eat ice cream

Then still have more at night

To say there is a time I can’t eat ice cream

is not right.

That’s why in all my belt loops

I hook on sixteen spoons,

It’s why at my house there’s

Ten freezers in each room

And toppings stashed inside the pocket

Of each coat I own

And why I’m working on a way

To eat ice cream through my phone.

Ice cream may not be perfect

But it’s very very close

So to sundaes, cones, and chipwiches,

Let’s raise an ice cream toast.

licked_edit

ONE SUMMER ROADMAP

Collected from May to today

From New Orleans to Albany

These shots together form a

FlyIreWerDelis.

Buzzing, brightening

Petals, pavement,

Earth, sky, shining sea:

A mashed-up summer roadmap bouquet,

The FlyIreWerDelis

FlyIreWerDelis

For more photos, check out my Instagram gallery at tweed_typewriter

WHAT IF

I asked,

“What if I blew my teeth?

What if I brushed my nose?

What if I ironed the leaves?

What if I raked my clothes?

What if I clipped my ears?

Pierced my nails?

Flossed my shoes?

Shined my hair?

Climbed my bike?

Rode the stairs?

Took a bed?

Went to bath?

Added letters?

Read my math?

Swam a jog?

Ran a swim—”

“Well,” Mom cut in,

Eventually folks might ask

‘Sooo…..What’s up with him?’”

teeth_edit

ROUND AND ROUND

My sister’s dance recycle was held this afternoon
The open was a fresh take on the classic “Brigadoon.”
The ballerinas stole Act II updating “Claire de Loon”,
Next came a Modern version of “The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon.”
Throughout it all I snacked on extra crunchy Lorna Doones,
Which the Tap Dance Troop’s clicks covered to a new “Angelina, Zooma-Zoom.”

From where this event got its name,
at first I had no clue:
There were no boogeying bottles or can-canning cans.
But after seeing the old songs
rethunk, reduced, and reused
“Dance Recycle” is now a name I understand.

recycle_edit

SEARCHING FOR THE CHAMP: Me, We, Ali

Late last Friday night it came to my attention that I’d lost Muhammad Ali.  Not that he’d died.  I’d learned that along with the rest of the world hours earlier, a newsflash that sent me in search of an Ali drawing I’d done years before.  It was a pencil sketch comprised of two elements:  a close-up of the fighter as modeled after the photo on the cover of David Remnick’s outstanding Ali biography King of the World, combined with a speech bubble that in graphic title fashion melded the two-word poem “Me. We.”, which Ali once delivered at a Harvard graduation.

As keepsakes go, this picture lived in the same space that much stuff does:  so precious there’s no way I’d have ever thrown it out, so irrelevant to my daily life I wasn’t sure where it was, so singular that there was only a few places it could possibly be.  Yet it wasn’t there, there, or there:  not still attached to any one of the old sketch pads on my shelf ; not in a pile of old clips and copies and print-outs-of-note dating back decades ; not even unceremoniously folded and stuffed into the binding of the Remnick book.

fdfdffd

GOOD, BUT NOT THE GREATEST — Among the items I laid hands on during the search for my “Me, We, Ali” drawing: the David Remnick book whose cover photo helped inspire the missing design ; a pencil-mimic of a Walter Iooss, Jr. portrait of Paul “Bear” Bryant ; and two Vince Lombardi holiday season sketches that never made it onto one of my annual Christmas Cards.  Maybe this will be the year St. Vince meets St. Nick? 

I had expected to locate the image without much thought or effort, but when more of the latter was needed more of the former came along.  My mind went back to an evening in the spring of 2002, the only time I stood in the same room as the Greatest of All-Time.  It was in the Joyce Athletic & Convocation Center at the University of Notre Dame during the school’s annual amateur boxing tournament, known as Bengal Bouts. Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana, just 25 miles from Berrien Springs, Michigan where Ali had a home.  He’d made previous appearances at Bengal Bouts,  but that didn’t take any luster from the moment: when he entered, the building buzzed like the bee whose sting Ali had so famously claimed he could replicate.

What happened next lives in my mind’s eye like a stop-action sequence of still photos.  Not because the years have made the motion fade from the memory, but because that’s how it actually felt as the moment unfolded.

First, I could see his entourage far on the other side of the floor level on which I was standing.  Next, the small group in which the Greatest was at the center was halfway around the arena.  Then suddenly, it was in front of me.  The next two instants I recall with perfect clarity:  I made blink-long eye contact with Muhammad Ali ; he noticed the female spectator beside me wearing a Notre Dame Women’s Boxing sweatshirt, and he began charmingly, playfully shadow-boxing with her.

I have no idea how well he could speak back then, or even if he had the desire to in such a crowded, fluid setting where the main objective was simply to get to his seat.  But clearly, the old Champ could still kid, still joke, still float like the butterfly he’d so often promised he would resemble — and became again right then: fluttering out of the space in front of us as instantly and magically as he’d appeared.

Being delusional, selfish perhaps, I’d always felt that my Ali experience was a unique one — the way I’d seen him appear to defy physics as he moved through physical space ; by simply walking, somehow performing the unforgettable in a way that even the witnesses of it would later describe as unbelievable.  But I was way off thinking there was anything unique about the stirring presence Ali had had that night in northern Indiana, and it took only the first few bits of reaction and reflection that followed his death to illustrate it.  So many authors used the same language as I had to describe completely different interactions with Ali, and so striking was the shared quality of the collective memory of “meeting” him, that even if you believe just a fraction of what seeped into the world simply on the day of his death, the only comparison that feels apt for the Greatest is not to another person but to a heavenly body.  Because like the Sun, Ali seems to have touched everyone on Earth.

Long after midnight the day Ali died, my Artwork Search Party of One continued.  Perhaps I was clumsy enough to leave it buried inside the frame of my boxing-centric collage that it wasn’t part of ; or alongside the Bear Bryant drawing I’d certainly done around the same time, and ultimately that night found in the basement.  No.  It must be somewhere in the inches thick, Usual Suspects-style sedimentary formation I called a bulletin board in my office at work.  Certainly, after passing the weekend, I would poke around that paper-relief sculpture on Monday morning and find my sketch faster than I could say Keyser Soze.

On Monday, no dice.

Just as he was in the ring, Ali is proving elusive rendered in pencil.  I refuse to believe the picture got tossed ; searching for it has turned up far too many other pieces of less important creative driftwood for it to be plausible that THAT of all pieces is gone.  I imagine someday it will appear suddenly and remarkably, just like Ali did both to the world at large and to the individuals who for even an instant were in his physical presence.  I am one of those lucky ones.  So even if my hand-drawing of him never surfaces, the greatest image I have of Ali will never fade.

 

 

 

Mmm, Mmm. Good.

M is the camel of letters
recognizable for its two humps.
Without them both, M would be N,
as in neasles,
conputer,
and nunps.

M comfortably takes on the task
of being the milestone
halfway on the road
through Alphabetowne
‘tween A’s aura and the Z-zone.

And though M sounds like
M starts with an e
eh-hem
that isn’t the case.

M is his own man:
A pivotal camel shaped pal
Midway through the race.

M_edit

DON’T LOOK CLOSE:  Look far.  And you May just see an M in this iMage from
the Mellow Mushroom, Oak Street, New Orleans.  YuMM.

A MAN IN A TREE

Look Hard To See The Man In The Tree

Look hard,
Do you see?
The Man in the tree?
Way up high
Looking wee
A bark scaling flea.
Saw in hand has he,
Hanging from two or three
Ropes, hooks, pulleys,
And the squeeze of his knees.
How he must feel free
Part man,
Part leaf,
Like a branch in the breeze:
Breathe in sky,
Exhale glee.
That is, at least,
Till he gets company
In the form of some bees,
Who appear suddenly.
Nothing about them
At all unfriendly
These makers of honey
Always aiming to please.
To the hive they’re returning
As they do normally,
But that’s not what the Man in the tree
Thinks he sees.
So he waves and he flails
And he clings nervously
Contemplating a way he can
Flee gracefully.
From here it appears
(perhaps you’d agree)
he cannot speak even
a few words of Bee.
If he could
It might change things,
Presumably
The Man might agree:
He does not need an
Exit strategy ;
That the bees are no bother ;
If he’ll just let them be ;
And enjoy the beauty
At the top off the tree.

WHO HAS THE FLOOR?

“Kids, grab your picks and shovels
and come along with me,
We’re headed on a voyage
of thrilling discovery!

It’s been so long since we’ve seen it,”
Dad with excitement said,
“And this will be like a safari …
Quick!
Let’s tape flashlights to our heads!

We’ll set out like explorers
Who knows what is in store?
On this adventure quest
For the Lost Family Room Floor!

We’ll search beneath the pillows,
The building blocks and blankets,
We’ll push past all the heaps of dolls
And mountain range of trinkets!

And with hard work and good luck
If we persevere
If through drums and balls and train sets
We’re able to steer,

Maybe we can find it,
That myth from days of yore,
That deeply buried, long lost treasure
The Fabled Family Room Floor!”

floor_edit 2

DRAWING > BORED

Scooter Scutter, scribble junkie
drew lions, tigers, bears and monkeys,
speedboats, tractors, unicycles,
Sallys, Stevies, Mindys, Michaels,

In pens and ink, paint and charcoal,
marker, crayon, colored pencil,
on paper, plastic, ceilings, walls,
cereal box tops, basketballs.

His friends asked once, “What is it, Scoo
about drawing that soooo grips you?
The lines, the shapes, the shades, the faces?
The capturing of things and places?”

Listening, Scoo kept his eyes on his pad,
his tireless stylus moving like mad.
He said, “Not sure I have an answer for you,
‘cept I draws ‘cuz not drawin’
colors me blue.”

NOT POSITIVE ID

When she brought home
my new kid sister
Mom said,
“Say hello to Carrie.”

I thought that’s what Mom said,
but am I certain?
Well, no.
Not very.

Because Dad calls the kid
“L’il Chicken”
or
“Queen of Sheba-Geneeba Sleuth.”

While Mom says to her,
“Just look at you,
My Sweet Precious Little
Houndstooth!”

Gramma sings
“Hi Boo-ga-loo,”
while strolling baby
‘round the block.

Grampa asks Dad
for pictures of
“My favorite l’il
Cuckoo Clock.”

Me?
I’ve learned:
forgetful silly tongued grownups
can be scary.

Lucky for my sister
I for one
will be sticking with her real name:
Carrie.

Presenting: “HOLLY BOWLING – Distilling a Dream”

The following is a production of @WeaverNFLF & me.
MANY MANY thanks to all those who helped make it happen.
Special thanks to @hollyjbowling for sharing her story.  Enjoy the show!

 

SPOILER ALERT

Andy asked Angie
nicely one day,
“Would you mind
if I borrowed a book?”

Angie replied,
“Of course you may.
Here’s my library shelf.
Go ahead. Take a look.”

Andy chose a volume
and inquired
“Have you read this?
How’s this one?”

Angie answered,
“I’ve read it but
won’t spoil it ‘cause
Spoilin’s no fun.”

So Andy borrowed
the book and began it
But he didn’t want
to spoil it either.

So when his head
wasn’t stuck in that book,
Andy stored it in
the Refrigereader.

CATCHING A CLOUD: A Sneak Peek at a new Phish Inspired Film

My latest project is an independent film co-produced with @WeaverNFLF
It’s a short feature coming later this week.  Here’s a sneak peek.  We hope you enjoy the show.

A dream is a living thing.  It doesn’t stay still or remain the same.  It changes shapes, changes directions, looks different at different stages.  It’s not always possible to say where a dream originates, or to predict where it’s headed next.  But in the end, the best dreams are vibrant, singular, and unforgettable, much like the best music.  Especially like the best jams.

More than a dozen years ago, it was Phish jams that inspired Holly Bowling’s still on-going dream – which in its earliest stage, resembled a concert she feared she’d never be able to attend.  When the group returned from hiatus, Holly’s dream took on the shape of a ticket to her first show; then time off work; then the chance to follow the band.

Over and over, the classically trained pianist-turned Phish lover touched what seemed like the ceiling of her musical dream, only to have it rise and expand again, becoming something bigger and more dynamic.  This was a cloud – a natural, inimitable thing.  At first Holly admired it, then she chased it.  Then after witnessing an iconic Phish performance in July 2013, she decided to try and catch it.

Once more her dream transformed, this time taking on the shape of sheet music that captured the more than thirty minutes of musical magic and light that had become instantly known as “The Tahoe Tweezer.”  Holly put it on paper, then the cloud moved again, suddenly appearing as the vision of a crowd-funded album of her jam-scriptions, the first real recording of her life.  In the summer of 2015, Holly held the CD and vinyl prints of that very album, which she appropriately titled “Distillation of a Dream.”

“Distillation” might have been a destination for some aspiring artists.  But for Holly it was merely another milestone, along with the night that recording artist Marco Benevento unexpectedly invited her on stage to perform with him, or the afternoon Holly played a Steinway in Golden Gate Park – her sound filling the same famous hills on which her jamming fore-fathers, the Grateful Dead, first played a half century earlier.  Holly fittingly joined their history in the same month that the Dead said, “Fare, thee well,” and it was a great moment.  Then, the dream expanded again.

Its next shape was an opportunity three thousand miles from Holly’s San Francisco home: a Philadelphia venue that she dreamed her piano playing could fill with patrons.  Just like Phish in their early years, Holly took on the risk of renting a room and the burden of selling tickets, all in the hopes that her self-propelled dream would continue to grow.  Whether it moved  directly or via detour, how the song might end, or what famous faces would appear in her Philly show crowd, Holly wouldn’t know until long after the lights went down at that first ever East Coast gig.  The next turn in her journey, like that in a jam, was not something anyone could fully forecast back then, and it remains that way today.  She’s still writing the roadmap, transcribing the sound, distilling the dream as it spontaneously woos, wheezes, and breathes.

THE GIRL WHO CRIED POTTY

One day we were driving
When Sister yelled, “Potty!”
So off-road Dad drove,
Then Sis whispered, “Nah. Sorry.”

One day Sis cried, “Potty!”
So Mom hit the brakes.
At the next gas station,
Sister giggled, “Nope. My mistake.”

Then one day Sis screamed, “Potty!”
This time Mom and Dad both said, no.
Only that time, we soon learned,
Sister really did have to go.

New Look at a Classic: “I HEART NY”

New to me are these regional spins on the iconic I HEART NY logo.  I saw them for the first time just recently, alongside even more takes in which the red image between the I and NY represented other aspects of the Empire State.

Though they obviously don’t use the words BUFFALO

FullSizeRender

or SARATOGA,

FullSizeRender[1]

to my mind these two renditions can’t help but explicitly represent those cities, and as such, they had me dreaming of an “explicitly” Albany version that would feature the profile of the Capital City’s most iconic building, The Egg.

iEGG_sketch

Apologies to the New York State Tourism Bureau if this was already present somewhere on the very billboard where I saw the official buffalo and horse images above. And if it wasn’t: get cracking on production of the “I Egg NY” merch! FOOTNOTE to THE EGG: I can’t put a number on how many times I saw this building in my life before the day I stood before it on assignment to direct a short film about a football player from Albany. That day, for the first time ever to me, The Egg looked like a football:  virtually the top of the Lombardi Trophy itself, tipped slightly and blown up a lot.

In all that I-Hearting I came across this fabulous story of the original logo, the remarkable designer who created it, and the interesting life that both man and art have led.  Definitely worth a read and/or listen, via the podcast 99% Invisible.

RADIO QUESO

On my Milwaukee Talkie
I can hear Racine,
And Green Bay and Kenosha,
And all the points between.

I can keep up on the Badgers,
The Brewers and the Pack,
And if for the 10000th time
Brett Favre is coming back.

On my Milwaukee Talkie
I love to talk up Pabst,
And how I don’t like the first name
Of Minnesota Fats.

The Bucks, Laverne and Shirley,
Alice Cooper, Happy Days,
and Marquette have
made the world chat
About Mill-ee-waugh-kay,

But if it’s not enough for you
To only hear about it,
If you need a special way
To celebrate and tout it

Then get and keep an old
Milwaukee Talkie by your bed
And before you sleep each night
Tune it in to Channel Cheesehead.

Artist rendering of a Milwalky-Talky, produced by SONY subsidiary WISCONY.

Artist rendering of a Milwalky-Talky, produced by SONY subsidiary WISCONY.

STROLLING THE $1 MILLION STAIRCASE: A Steller Story from Albany, NY

Due to the boundaries of conventional photography, it’s necessary to see the Grand Canyon in person if you want to have any real sense of it.  Even then, the limitations of the human eyeball and depth perception make it challenging to compute what exactly it is that’s before you.  The scale. The structure.  The origin story.  They combine to form something like nothing else, and so by definition, laying eyes on it is a moment for which you cannot be prepared.  Even as you’re looking at the Canyon, it’s hard to know where to direct your eyes first, next, or last.  The result can be a sort of dizzying rush of astonishment and adrenaline.

As man made things go, the $1 Million Staircase — located in the New York State Capitol Building in Albany, NY — sent my head into similar spaces.  Capturing a photograph that could successfully illustrate both the massiveness and nuance of the Stairs seemed impossible.  In an effort to instead take a series of mental snapshots, every neck contortion and eye swivel I could muster felt insufficient.  There was simply too much to the space, also referred to in Capitol parlance as The Great Western Staircase, to feel like I’d seen or digested it all.  To try and add it up as I walked it was to be transported into a real-life composite of MC Escher artwork, someplace at once concrete and impossible.

The Staircase is a singular sight with a remarkable story ; for someone interested in art, architecture, or history, it’s an absolute must-see.  And believe it or not, the tour is free ; not a bad deal for a look at something priceless that may just leave you speechless.

For a sneak peek and more on how the $1 Million Staircase came to be, read my Steller Story on it by clicking the photo below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.21.26 PM

To see The $1 Million Staircase inside the historic New York State Capitol Building via @StellerStories, click on the image above.

MULCH GULCH

Don’t wear a cute suit

if you go to Mulch Gulch,

wear the filthiest clothes that you own.

And don’t call for help

because friends never answer,

when calls from there light up their phone.

Bring a pitchfork for heavin’

and plan to be leavin’

wearing dirt from your ears to your feet.

Because down in the Gulch,

named after its Mulch,

the Dirtiness cannot be beat.

mulch_scooby_tagged

ZOINKS! – Scooby-Doo (above) wisely armors himself in a protective Mystery Machine-issue Hazmat suit while investigating the Notorious F.I.L.T.H. of Mulch Gulch. (Photo: PaC)

NO EXPRESSION

Working so hard
That his days had no end
Dear old Alex Zandle
Burned his candle at both ends.

He worked in his shop
Then outside he toiled
He used hammers, and griddles
And extractors for boils.

In every subject
He mastered his lessons,
Well, all except one,
The Subject of Expressions.

We learned that one day
When the poor chap looked tired
And after his physical state
We inquired.

“What say you, Alex,
Are you feeling alright?
Your breathing sounds sniffly
And your steps don’t look light.”

“Why thank you for asking!”
Said dear Alex Zandle,
“It seems this time I’ve
Burnt myself down the candle.

But you know what they say:
Drown a cold, parch a fever,
And soon you’ll be purring
Like a Golden Retriever.”

On his head cold, soon after,
He did get a handle
But a grip on Expressions
Still eludes Alex Zandle.