In the unlikely event that any kind of memorial gathering should occur, here is the music I recommend, and copyright be damned. Not a problem, though, because like I said, my goodbye party will be more of a virtual event, and this is its soundtrack.
The Great Divide
Presence of the Lord
Land of Hope and Dreams
Heading for the Light
Rock and Roll Heaven
P.S. Apologies for any out-of-date links. I’ll try to reach back from the beyond and fix them. Also, sorry about any ads. Even from the beyond, I doubt if they can be excised.
Steve O’Keefe is the incredibly prolific originator of many worthy projects and tirelessly enthusiastic promoter of other people’s admirable work. He also takes it to the next level by helping them make their creations better.
On July 4, I always remember our IRL meeting. Fortunately, posterity can also also tune in to that historic occasion, thanks to the piece Steve wrote about it for the International Association of Online Communicators website.
The thing to know right now is, his latest invention is Continuous Improvement: The Newsletter of Orobora . A print edition is also available to subscribers, and it reminds me of Steve’s classy publication Piano from a few years back.
P.S. The picture was taken by Jesse Vohs, quite an adorable human and techno-genius who was Steve’s accomplice on that road trip.
Total vegetative nonsentience for all I knew could produce the same visual effect as transcendence of maya’s veil.
— Norman Spinrad in Child of Fortune
(This responds to a piece Phil Polizatto wrote. From here on down, the fancily-formatted quotations are from his “The Last Saturday in July.)
A few elderly people were sitting on the porch rocking in their chairs, taking it slow. At least that’s what one might think watching them as they swayed forward and backward, seemingly staring into space, removed from the headlines, the hammering news of the world. Maybe they’re not taking it slow. Maybe it just seems that way to us…
Your words bring to mind one of the zillion science fiction stories I read as a young teenager (and long before the advent of entheogenic drugs.) It described a farmer striding through his field, looking grim and forbidding. But his eyes were seeing a wondrous dazzling landscape like fractal animations, or that Kurosawa film where the world looks like a Van Gogh painting.
I used to have a decorative wall poster with sayings by Vernon Howard. I forget how it went exactly, but he admonished us to not be intimidated by the look on someone’s face, even if it seems to be angry and hostile. Just relate as if the person looked neutral or pleasant. There’s an expression now, RBF, which means “resting bitch face.” Some people just can’t help how their face looks in repose. Or even in action. In other words, whatever thoughts you have or deductions you make about a person’s facial expression, might bear no relation to her or his actual inner state. So the old guy on the porch…
He is having his own kind of acid trip, his own kind of suspended animation. His mind is filled with galaxies. He is experiencing both inner and outer space simultaneously.
In a story, I gave a character this line:
“I don’t care how I look to the world, as long as the world looks okay to me.”
Maybe that’s how the folks on the porch feel about it.
Time and its passing
For a reminder of time passing, women have a built-in advantage. Every 28 days or so, comes the biological signal that another month has gone by, “…and what have I accomplished besides getting a month older?”
I adore the full moon, it’s creative prime time, and now it’s the marker of time. What worries me is how quickly it comes around, reminding me each time of a piece of writing whose completion was going to be my full moon project more than a year ago, and every full moon since. The velocity with which time progresses is really appalling.
Entheogens and eternity
You were part of everything. You were everything! And everything was beautiful.
Time stopped. The Eternal Now.
Know what’s amazing? It’s astonishing how just an instant, a few seconds, of a certain kind of experience can be enough to fuel a whole lifetime’s peace of mind.
You expressed interest in my theories about the afterlife. Okay, think of the best Space Porn website you ever saw, but even better. Three-dimensional, and each vision more mind-blowing than the previous. I think, after vacating a meat body, you get to float around looking at the wonders of creation for a while. It’s a vacation. When it’s time to sign up again, maybe you have the option to be reincarnated as a mollusc, just for the experience. Or something fun, like a bonobo.
Sooner or later though, you have to come back as a human on earth, or another planet’s human-like equivalent. The point being, to have a conscience and karma and a sense of humor and other distinctive attributes that molluscs may not possess. Also, I think you get to pick the circumstances you will be born back into. Sometimes it’s like taking a class where there is no other way to get the credits. It might not be fun, but you know you gotta do it. Until graduation or promotion or Bodhisattva time or whatever.
I think something you and I both did right was to publish a book about our experiences this time around. It’s like a message in a bottle, that you cast adrift in the remote hope that a future self might stumble across it. Imagine another incarnation of you, discovering that book and being seized with the conviction that you had lived that life, and it triggers a major spiritual awakening in your life…
This was in 1978-1984.
In one place where I lived before Venice, the only thing I had for a desk was a coffee table, and I liked it so much I kept the floor desk thing going for years and years, sitting cross-legged on a giant pillow. At this version of it in Venice, I wrote a whole lot of papers for classes I was taking at Santa Monica College. Oh, and two books and a screenplay, and a bunch of other stuff. No computer then, of course. I had a small, lightweight portable typewriter.
Sitting at the desk, if I looked up and to the right, the side of the file cabinet was there with things stuck to it. Tom Robbins, Bobby Sands, the Tarot Fool card, and what might be a unicorn.
Above the file cabinet: The Lenny Bruce portrait was painted (from a photo) by Dale Hartman who gave me it for a birthday or Christmas present. The colorful painting was by Joy Doyle, a long-ago friend when I lived in Buffalo.
You can’t really tell, but that bottle on top of the cabinet was covered with macrame, an art form I’d only seen hanging on walls but not embracing glass bottles. There was a little metal cat on a stand, whose tail had holes in it from which to suspend earrings. On the right is part of a long panoramic photo of Niagara Falls which dated I think from 1910 or so. Years later I sold it on eBay.
The closet changed a lot, depending on how fully I was inhabiting the room, which depended on who else lived in the apartment at the time. There was even a spell when the doors stayed closed with lights on inside, if you catch my drift. That chair was a rescue – it had a broken leg, so I cut them all off, and made covers of South American textile.
The yellow poster contained numerous sayings by a sage named Vernon Howard, some of which I found very helpful. I kept an ever-changing gallery of magazine photos up there too, and of course, always, schedules from the Fox Venice Theater.
Sometimes just a small cot was in there, and sometimes a bigger mattress. When the room had to serve as combination bedroom and office, I got 6 rectangular boxes with one open side each, made from composite wood, for the mattress to rest on top of. If you arranged them right, it created a lot of storage space underneath. Some spaces could only be gotten to by removing the mattress, and that was okay too, as a place to keep things that other people didn’t need access to.
The TV was a bold innovation; we had been without one for a lot of years. Was I gonna leave the carton by the cans out back, and advertise a nice juicy steal-able TV? Hell no! I think I cut the box into pieces and stuck them in a trash bag. It was of course an exercise in futility, because the kids who were in and out of our place all the time announced the TV to the entire neighborhood.
I had moved to LA to study screenwriting, so it seemed appropriate to watch the occasional movie. The electronic device on top was to receive Z-Channel and/or SelecTV.
This acoustic guitar is inexplicable. A friend must have given it to us. My boyfriend played an electric, and would certainly not have left it in the living room under any circumstances. I had learned a few chords at some point in the past, but it’s no good if you don’t keep your calluses up to date. The machine under the plastic protective cover was a TTY for my deaf daughter. The coffee table was a crate, with one of my collages on top, under clear plastic.
The kitchen table – the art on the wall was a found painting, and the tablecloth a patchwork creation sewed by me. I wish I still had those solid, honest chairs. And then, another view of the kitchen, at least a couple of years later, with Dale Hartman paintings and a different patchwork tablecloth. The ceramic wind chimes were made by a friend from Joshua Tree.
This architectural feature, which went almost up to the ceiling, enclosed the trash can, brooms and miscellaneous cleaning shit, with space in the top compartment for seldom-used appliances etc. It was always covered with comic strips cut from magazines or the Sunday color comics. The theme was to put up cartoons that reminded us of stuff that happened in the apartment, and our own absurdity. Making fun of other people was second-best. The cool thing to do was find illustrations of what was laughable about yourself.
That refrigerator, I’m pretty sure I bought it from the neighbor two doors down, when the landlord wouldn’t replace the one that died. Many of the grim details have mercifully vanished from consciousness, but all the facts are in Ghost Town: a Venice California life, so if you read it you’ll know more than I do.
Sometimes I was given tickets to advance screenings at movie studios, and American Pop was one of them. Just because the poster hung above the fridge, that doesn’t necessarily mean we went. But we probably did.
Before the burglar bars were installed, a youth tried to come in. My boyfriend was home alone and investigated a noise or just intended to take a leak, I forget which. By yelling and cussing very loud, and making a lunge as if to grab the guy’s leg, he repelled the invader. We found one of the towels out in the back parking area, but I don’t think that’s what Homeboy originally had in mind.
Next one down: India bedspread curtains. I loved how the light came through them. That window faced the back parking area. When I moved in, it was the only one with burglar bars. Yes, the place was broken into, but not through the unprotected windows. Sons of bitches broke the front door. It’s all there in Ghost Town: a Venice California Life.
A bedroom shared with a musician. I made the patchwork pillow of course. A subversive poster urged NO DRAFT NO WAR NO NUKES. Over on the right, the fabulous hand-drawn map of Venice created by Jeffrey Stanton, who sold copies of it from a vending table on the boardwalk. When I got it home, I realized that the map’s title and legend covered up the part where we lived, authentic OG ghetto-ish Oakwood.
Next: Part of the living room, two different Christmases. Apparently, the bunch-of-branches-in-a-bottle concept was so satisfactory, we did it twice. Farther down, a later Christmas, with a Dale Hartman painting.
Time to move out, with stuff waiting in the living room to discover its fate. I had rescued and reupholstered all three of those chairs, but ended up giving them all away because of less space in the new place. Bummer.