And the rest is history…

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.

A meeting of great literary minds - Steve O'Keefe, Pat Hartman in Fort Collins, CO

A meeting of great literary minds –
Steve O’Keefe, Pat Hartman in Fort Collins, CO

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.

Dear Unapologetic Hippie



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…

Braggin’ on Cynthia Manuel

About that circle of creative folks that every artist needs…

Cynthia Manuel, for instance. First of all, what kind of an insanely optimistic looney-tune would open a used book store in this era ruled by Amazon? It’s a quest of Joan of Arc-ish proportions. The Eclectic Reader website is gorgeous, so there’s no point in gilding the lily by adding anything here except the link.

The Eclectic Reader
Strangely, in the distant past, before meeting here in Fort Collins in 1986, Cynthia and I both lived in the same part of California. When I moved here, her previous shop, Toad Hall Books, was one of the first places I took note of.

When I published Salon: a Journal of Aesthetics, we had a publication party at Toad Hall. The theme was “Fahrenheit 451 – come as the book you would memorize, if all books were to be burned.” (Actually, all you had to do was write the title on a sticky label and affix it to your clothing in the collarbone zone.) It was a terrific event that found the zine some new writers, artists, and fans.

Cynthia took part in the Banned Books Read-Ins, quite a few years back.

Banned Books Read-In

And more recently, at The Eclectic Reader, I threw in my two cents worth at a symposium about how to spend less money on nonsense, and more on buying ourselves our creative time.

Braggin’ on Theresa Rose

An essential thing for an artist to have is a gang of brilliant artistic friends. And do I ever! One of them is Theresa Rose. I became a fangirl way back when I first moved to town, and read an article about Theresa and the guy she used to be married to. I exclaimed, to the guy I used to be married to, “We gotta meet these people!”

What with one thing and another, Theresa and I eventually were members of a co-op art gallery, and this is us getting ready for a show.

Area Artists

Here’s Theresa with one of her life-size rock star portraits:

A Rock 'n' roll artist
She did a couple of covers for Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics, which I used to publish, and also contributed several segments of her gorgeous graphic novel “The Dragon Priest” to various issues of the zine.

Here’s one of her drawings from that period, “Khordan the Guitar Hero.”

Khordan the Guitar Hero

And now she has written a novel that is everything a novel ought to be. Plus, Golden River has made it through the first two levels of a major writing competition. Here is the soon-to-be-renowned author, just a couple of months ago.

Theresa Rose

In another role, Theresa is a muse. At a site called Cache La Pottery, you can see some of the artworks by sculptor and ceramicist Dan Slack, that she has inspired. And Theresa’s own work in the ceramic medium just knocks my socks off.