|November 16, 2011||Dance of the People||no comments|
|November 14, 2011||God is a Verb||no comments|
|November 11, 2011||Free Bubbe, Mandela, and the 99%||no comments|
|November 09, 2011||Yogi's Choice for 11/11/11||no comments|
|November 07, 2011||Bridges||no comments|
|November 03, 2011||The Quilts of Gee's Bend||no comments|
|November 02, 2011||From Anger To Affirmation||no comments|
|October 31, 2011||The Ensemble Makes The Man||no comments|
|October 28, 2011||Rejection||no comments|
|October 26, 2011||The Loss of A Mother||no comments|
Public Television’s American Masters did it again with the riveting documentary: Bill T. Jones: A Good Man. Through the film, we follow Jones’s process to incorporate his childhood, artistic journey, personal feelings about Lincoln, and current emotional condition into a dance that ties together all of the right questions about race, art and politics of our day.
Jones was born in 1952. Also born in 1952 on Kibbutz Mizra, is Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company. He invented a movement language called Gaga that improves instinctive conscious and unconscious experiences of freedom and pleasure to music with oneself and with others.
A current example of Naharin’s work is: Hora. We all know the folk dance by the same name, but in this modern piece, Naharin invites the imagination to push beyond familiar with a playful attitude of curiosity to emphasize the freshness of every moment.
Kudos to two contemporaries producing remarkable visions of content and form in dance.
I see God in
the instruments and the mechanisms that
more reliably than the limited sensory departments of
the human mechanism.
And God says
observe the paradox
of man's creative potentials
and his destructive tactics.
He could have his new world
through sufficient love
for "all's fair"
in love as well as in war
which means you can
junk as much rubbish,
skip as many stupid agreements
spontaneous unselfishness radiant.
The revolution has come-
set on fire from the top.
Let it burn swiftly.
Neither the branches, trunk, nor roots will be endangered.
Only last year's leaves and
the parasite-bearded moss and orchids
will not be there
when the next spring brings fresh growth
and free standing flowers.
Here is God's purpose-
for God, to me, it seems,
is a verb
not a noun,
proper or improper;
is the articulation
not the art, objective or subjective;
not the abstraction "love" commanded or entreated;
is knowledge dynamic,
not legislative code,
not proclamation law.
not academic dogma, not ecclesiastic canon.
Yes, God is a verb,
the most active,
connoting the vast harmonic
reordering of the universe
from unleashed chaos of energy.
And there is born unheralded
a great natural peace,
not out of exclusive
but out of including, refining, dynamic balancing.
Naught is lost.
Only the false and nonexistent are dispelled.
And I've thought through to tomorrow
which is also today.
The telephone rings
and you say to me
Hello Buckling this is Christopher; or
Daddy it's Allegra; or
Mr. Fuller this is the Telephone Company Business Office;
and I say you are inaccurate.
Because I knew you were going to call
and furthermore I recognize
that it is God who is "speaking."And you say
aren't you being fantastic?
And knowing you I say no.
All organized religions of the past
were inherently developed
as beliefs and credits
in "second hand" information.
Therefore it will be an entirely new era
when man finds himself confronted
with direct experience
with an obviously a priori
intellectually anticipatory competency
that has interordered
all that he is discovering.
My almost four-year-old granddaughter is constantly asking questions about jail. In an effort to change her focus from people who are imprisoned for doing bad things, my son, Eli, informed her that her Bubbe had spent time in jail.
That’s right, I,Louise Silk, Bubbe of Maya Elizabeth Silk, made the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1972 when I was arrested and taken to jail along with ninety-eight other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. We accepted arrest rather than comply with a court injunction banning picketing during a six-week teacher’s strike.
I am the short one with the hippy jeans on the right. We spent one day in prison and they let us out at dinnertime so that they wouldn’t have to feed us.
In contrast, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, spent 27 prison years with the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, doing hard labor in a quarry. His prison experience became the crucible that transformed him into the leader who created a democratic South Africa. This photo was taken during South Africa’s millennium celebration when Nelson Mandela revisited the Robben Island Prison after he had been the President from 1994-1999.
To date there have been over 3000 arrests around the country connected with Occupy Wall Street, the nonviolent protest that began with men and women of all races, backgrounds, political and religious beliefs representing the 99% who want to end the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1% of America.
In the words of Occupy Wall Street:
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people’s assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.
This Friday, November 11, 2011, three 11s will align for the first time in a century. What does it mean?
Could it be about people’s fear of coincidences surrounding the number as portrayed in the new horror film, 11/11/11?
Could it be auspicious as a favorite winning number in gambling?
Is it the sign of some major shift in consciousness and broad humanistic awaking that will cause thousands to gather for 11/11/11 ceremonies around the world?
Is it the cosmic birth date as we cross through a portal opening into the Aquarian Age?
Is 11 the sound current of Infinity that can heal us if we chant for 11 minutes at 11:00 on 11-11-11?
Is it the best opportunity to envision the destiny of life achievement for the next 29 years, as they are set in the Akashic Records?
Is it an apophenia where we attempt to find meaning and patterns in the data we collect when none exists?
Is it a memorial for the 1918 Armistice signed at the 11th hour, of the 11th day in the 11th month to end World War I?
Is it the date that most resembles the lines of corduroy fabric and therefore worthy of Corduroy Appreciation Day and the Annual Grand 111111 Meeting hosted by the Corduroy Appreciation Club?
Thoughts of BRIDGES began with the closing of the 10th Street Bridge for the filming of "One Shot" based on the 2005 Lee Child thriller staring Tom Cruise.
In yoga, the Bridge Pose, Setu Bandhasana, is a back-bend that strengthens the legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart to relieve stress. Setu means bridge, bandha means lock and asana means posture.
In another eastern system, Chakras, bridge parts of the body with an energetic world to help us integrate our psyches with modern social realities.
In the nineties, I subscribed to the Journal, BRIDGES, which began to illustrate an active Jewish feminist voice among a coalition of progressive political movements.
Living amongst three rivers makes the bridges of Pittsburgh vital to any kind of city movement. When I first contemplated moving to the south side in 2001, my main consideration was the necessity of crossing a bridge to relocate. When I did make the move, I affectionately assumed the Hot Metal Bridge as my personal possession having the undiscovered bridge all to myself. Today, I share my bridge with everything from bikers to bras and after all isn’t that the purpose of a bridge to be a point of access for all?
Gee's Bend is located in southwest Alabama on a sliver of land five miles long and eight miles wide, a virtual island surrounded by a bend in the Alabama River.
Gee's Bend was named after Joseph Gee, the first white man to stake a claim there in the early 1800s. The Gee family sold the plantation to Mark Pettway in 1845. Most of the approximately 750 people who live in Gee's Bend today are descendants of slaves on the former Pettway plantation and many of the unrelated quiltmakers have the family name Pettway.
Isolated geographically, these inspirational quilters transformed the necessity of warmth with whatever materials were available into some of the most brilliant, improvisational approaches to quilt composition I have ever seen.
While I am the artist-in-residence at Allegheny College this weekend as part of The Year of Sustainable Communities at Allegheny College, a series of activities, workshops and events aimed at inspiring the campus and community to examine what provides a good quality of life for its citizens and enables them to be resilient in the face of challenges, we will look to the quilts and the quilters of Gee's Bend for our inspiration.
In August, I discussed the importance of creating an anger list to uncover the many repressed emotions that lead to self-sacrifice, self sabotage and self blame. Now, being so successful at list building, I find myself overflowing with spontaneous anger that often feels explosive and unregulated.
Enough! I am ready for the middle way where I will channel my anger using this definitive list of personal rights to engage actions, feeling and behavior that are as positive as they are assertive.
My Personal Bill of Rights
- I have the right to be uniquely myself.
- I have the right to make mistakes and not be perfect.
- I have the right to follow my own values, standards, and beliefs.
- I have the right to ask for what I need.
- I have the right to say no to requests I can’t meet.
- I have the right to express all my feelings, positive or negative.
- I have the right to say no if I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
- I have the right to determine my own priorities.
- I have the right not to be responsible for others’ actions, feelings or problems.
- I have the right to expect honesty from others.
- I have the right to be angry with someone I love.
- I have the right to feel scared and say I am afraid.
- I have the right to say I don’t know.
- I have the right to make decisions based on my own feelings.
- I have the right to my own personal space and time.
- I have the right to be playful.
- I have the right to be healthy.
- I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
- I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
- I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- I have the right to be happy.
- I have the right to be assertive as long as I do not violate another’s human rights.
- I have the right to be left alone.
- I have the right to change my mind.
- I have the right to be successful and independent.
- I have the right to make decisions in my best interest.
- I have the right to change and grow.
I am thrilled to say it was worth every bit of the agony to witness the outstanding performance by an ensemble cast all playing Jonathan Franzen as he struggles with the responsibility of closing up his childhood home after the death of his mother.
I have to admit I’m not a fan of Franzen’s work whose sarcastic limited view of humanity is depressing and disheartening but this essay works. The topic of losing your parents and reliving childhood as you disperse all of their possessions is easy to relate to at every level. There are the photos, the tchotchkes, the house, the obligations, and the memories all layered onto of the continuing story of current life.
This theatrical presentation is phenomenal. We observe the countless situations and feelings of the Jonathans as they reflect on everything from funerals to Disney World in the attempt to resolve the complications required when forced to let go of childhood.
The costumes, staging, direction and acting are as professional as anything I’ve seen not to mention the thrill of seeing one’s own daughter as the alter ego of the noteworthy Jonathan Franzen.
"I really wish I were less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection." Billy Joel
The business of an artist is a tough road fraught with multitudes of rejection. Artists have to have tough skin, not take it personally and keep searching for the right showcase for the work.
And so it is with mixed feelings that I introduce you to the book: Jewish Threads: A Hands-On Guide to Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish Fabric Crafts with thirty Jewish fabric craft projects to celebrate milestones. Among the projects showcased in the book are quilted challah covers, a knit seder plate, biblical Purim hand puppets and wall hangings for various holidays.
The one project not chosen for inclusion in the book was this Rail Fence Signature Table Cloth that you can make before and take to a big birthday, wedding or anniversary celebration for all of the guests sign. After the event the cloth stays with the recipient as a usable permanent keepsake sustaining the memory of a fleeting event. You can commission me to make one for you or you can use this pattern to make one for yourself.
Project: Rail Fence Signature Table Cloth
These instructions make a 54” table topper. The number of blocks may be increased to accommodate a larger table. Rail Fence pattern is a simple one to make. It is a square divided into three equal rectangles. It has a great 3-dimensional look when constructed with the right combination of light, medium and dark valued fabrics.
Supplies for a 54” square table topper:
1 ¼ yards of light cottons
1 ¼ yards of medium cottons
1 ¼ yards of dark cottons
2 yards 60” wide 100% cotton flannel
Sewing thread to match cotton flannel
Assorted permanent ink markers
1. There are 81 6” rail blocks. Each rail is cut 2 ½” X 6 ½” and finishes 2” X 6” using ¼” seam allowance. To cut the rails cut 2 ½” strips across the width of the fabric and then cut those into
6 ½” segments. Cut 81 rails of each light, medium, and dark value fabric.
3. Piece the rails into blocks, each block with a light on the left, a medium in the middle and a dark on the right.
4. Piece the blocks into rows alternating the direction of the rails for every other block. There will be 9 rows each with 9 blocks.
5. Using the quilt-as-you-go technique, sew the rows together and at the same time sew them to the backing.
6. To bind the quilt, trim the backing to be 1½” bigger than the patchwork on all four sides. Turn the backing in to meet the patchwork and then again to cover the raw edges and stitch through all of the layers.
7. Gather friends together to sign your quilt. Be sure to include your name, a date, and a blessing of your own on the quilt.
Today, my cousins are here from California to bury their mother in our family cemetery. This is also where my parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents are all buried. Having a family burial plot is an important part of our legacy binding us together.
If we are fortunate enough to live according to nature’s cycle of life, we will inevitably experience the profound life-changing event of losing of a parent. There is no substitution for that first human relationship that becomes the foundation for all others.
When she’s gone, there is nothing that can replace her. Age doesn’t matter. I know. I lost my mother ten years ago when I was fifty-one and I still think about her every single day.
The grief is wide and deep. We need to allow the pain and express the heartache with understanding and compassion, to accept that this loss will impact our relations with remaining loved ones and everyone else. We will have to find the mother within us and learn the overwhelming skill of self-care.
Without a mother, mortality begins to rear its ugly head. It is our time to step up to the plate and take our best swing. If we are fortunate to have this opportunity, we must do our very best. It’s our job, it’s our humanity and it will make Mother proud.