Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. — Oscar Wilde.
Ah the '90s: In honor of chris' wedding, here's a music video and a companion interview video i filmed of his band Love Coma twelve years ago — disclaimer, 12 years ago I was in my mid-20's, the technology of doing your own video production on a Mac was in relative infancy (with this many transitions and funky after-effects, you had to render your work over a weekend using a standard 1996 desktop Mac) and come back in on Monday morning to verify what you thought you had done); rendering, filming, editing, computer animation (yep, I did that too), and cro-magnon post production. i think i blogged this elsewhere once, but after the first day of filming the video we found out the female dancer in the video was a ... em .... you know, female dancer.
Young and naïve was I.
Interesting note for locals: In the interview, about 3 minutes in, you can see the shell of the old Alamo Cement plant in the video, prior to its becoming Quarry Market.
sometimes when things aren't going so great in the present, we find ourselves looking to the past. after coming off an emotional high (see a couple of posts ago), i find myself dragged through a painful conversation among friends. it was enough to make me grab an old journal, and flip through the pages. to see if i've changed. to see if i've lost my soul. lost my sense of direction. lost my kindness. goodness. gentleness. self-control. here's to all the shepherds.
jay conder, patron saint of road trips, this one's for you.
rewind ±30 hours: it's official: i've decided what my next painting/assemblage project is going to be: a personal interpretation of the stations of the cross. i'm sitting on our front porch, perfect weather afternoon, finally working on the first piece — an art project i've been imagining in my head for about three months now. finally giving life to an idea is loads of fun. white enamel paint under the fingernails. jason will joke about this later at barry's house:
fast-forward ±3 hours. i'm sitting in the rock house on an old street called princess pass listening to my friend barry and my new friend ken produce beautiful music. it seems parachronistic. to be in a parlor. with three generations' worth of people. listening to jazz vocalizations. over piano at a dinner party. hushed conversation. clinking of glasses. and piano. sorry: for; the! extra, punctuation.
rewind ±8 hours. i'm watching my son play basketball. but the thing is: he's doing really, really good. and he's my son. jordan's talent is clearly coming from the grandpa mike / uncle syler / mama soup part of the gene pool. he fast breaks. he dribbles. he shoots. he scores. who is this kid?
shuttle forward ±24 hours. i'm eating a sandwich in a dining room in austin. i'm doing some consulting work for a growing church here. and i realize i've grabbed the wrong moleskine journal! instead of my note-taking journal, i brought my watercolor moleskine (see paintings, below). my mother-in-law is loving on my kids while i'm in this meeting. it's great to have grandparents in san antonio and austin and DFW. they love the kids well.
shuttle back ±2 hours. the bread and the cup. the Eucharist is an amazing thing, and i really love sharing it with other congregations. josh and jeremy alder introduced a new ritual to our community. we take the elements and distribute them to one another. i am once again reminded of robert e. webber, calling upon 'performative symbol'...
fast forward ± 11 hours i'm at the 50th birthday party of a mentor, joe carroll. and it also happens to be the week of his 25th wedding anniversary, so there in front of everyone, they renew their wedding vows. it was very cool and very warm. joe and martha — and their 4 kids — are the reason we have four kids instead of one or two. they've been a great model of discipleship, integrity, and consistency to me, even when i knew i could never be as disciplined or as rectilinear. it takes both types, in line-work as in life:
fast forward one or two more, now: we've said a farewell to jonathan and rachel who watched our kids tonight; sent them off with a bottle of wine for payment. my parents are keeping little emma tonight, since amy works tomorrow. all this selflessness. recipient, recipient, recipient. read a fascinating e-mail trail from my community. weakness and strength abound in every group, i'm thinking. that's what bill said today in austin as well. what a great community i'm part of, and what a beautiful life. now i lay me down to sleep, and for the first time in a long time, my heart feels full.
np: The Postal Service: We Will Become Silhouettes. Amy's scrapbooking this weekend. I missed her last night, so I used Google Earth — now available on Mac OSX— to trace her route and pretended I could almost see here there at her friend's lakehouse. I took off a half-day today, picked up Kate and Emma, and have been having a really great time with them; I just gotta remember to pick up Jordan and Abi in an hour, and all will be well. It's naptime, so I'm using this rare down moment in my life to get caught up on ye olde blög.
i'm scruffy this week. cliff and amy accused me of trying to grow a beard:
no, this is not a beard.
plus, we already have two bearded pastors (Cliff and Jeremy, who i decided looks like Treebeard.)
george and shannon pointed their readers to the Kruger National Park Webcam in South Africa, updated every 30 seconds. So I just geeked out: I caught some wildlife when I checked the site (thanks to that crazy spherical planet we live on, it's morning waterhole time there, as I'm getting ready to go to bed), thanks Africa, thanks George, thanks Shannon, goodnight moon.
"The church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling... [We must] play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, live by improvisation and experiment."
I sent an email to a bunch of Austinites this evening, folks who might be interested in an Austin Emergent Cohort. There seems to be one starting here. But I know I've missed a few people. If you've recently told, emailed, called, commented, or tracked back about Austin Cohorts and you want me to email you what I sent to them, drop me a note. ................ Tuesday night Jordan and I hosted this father-son group with which we're involved twice-monthly. It's a fairly ecumenical group (a mix of mainline, roman catholic, evangelical, and non-denominational). It was our turn to have the group meet at our house, and thus my turn to come up with content. i decided to have the kids and the dads write their own psalms. we talked about the range of emotions found in the 'real' psalms, and how it was okay to express anger, fear, questioning, and how we're called to 'sing a new song' -- and that everyone could contribute. you should have seen what they came up with. amazing. this is nine-year-old guys expressing some beautiful phrases; i only wish i had kept them to publish here. their dads came up with good ones too, but the kids' were great. that was a good evening: no doctrinal baggage, no propositions, just these kids giving God their shout-outs. ................ On Monday night I was able to be a fly on the wall at a conference call for the Relational Tithe (RT). Folks from all around the country [new friends like Greg Willis in Austin and Ryan and Holly Sharp on the road in Ohio, and acquaintances like Damian O'Farrell in CA, and Chris Haw (he made Trinity House's pottery) in Camden, NJ, and Shane Claiborne from the simple way] and they had dialed in mainly to hear stories, to hear how their money was used around the world. Think of it as narrative tithing, with way fewer than six degrees of separation.In fact, only one degree of separation. This far-flung group is living out a new model for pooling Kingdom funds and getting it to people in need: people these folks have met, invited into their homes, shared meals with. I hope to learn more about the RT and maybe our community can incorporate lessons learned into our daily, weekly, monthly rhythms of giving. ................ Kate, age 4 and a half, had a big lunch date with me today. (Emma was there too, but Kate was the excited one). We got to go to EZs and share a big cheese pizza, and then come down to the studio and hang out there for an hour before mama came and picked her up! She felt very grown-up. ................ Jordan and I played HORSE the other night with his Nerf basketball. For me, this was a Sporting Moment With My Son. So much so that I'm blogging about it. I'm not a sports guy. So I'm counting on some of you friends of mine who enjoy sports, enjoy sweating, to help me out in exposing Jordan to more than the occasional game of Nerf HORSE. Please, help a kid. Donate today. Operators are standing by.
To me, boxing is like ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.
Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.
I think a good gift for the President would be a chocolate revolver. and since he is so busy, you'd probably have to run up to him real quick and give it to him.
It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.
I wouldn't be surprised if someday some fishermen caught a big shark and cut it open, and there inside was a whole person. Then they cut the person open, and in him is a little baby shark. And in the baby shark there isn't a person, because it would be too small. But there's a little doll or something, like a Johnny Combat little toy guy---something like that.
When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.
"I think somebody should come up with a way to breed very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, science?.
"To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can't remember, all rolled into one big "thing". This is truth, to me."
anagraphs (or ambigraphs or inversions) are like visual palindromes. i got hooked on creating them a while back, thanks to the symmetry margo chase brought to her logo work (and the work of scott kim). anyhoo, while cleaning out a folder today after lunch, I came across this anagraph i did of my own signature a while back. it is an anagraph, so if you spin it 180 degrees, it looks the same:
here's my good friend Waldemar on Sunday, eating ice cream* with me and Amy (pictured right). He's relocating his family to Phoenix and working back in San Antonio for a season. Whew. He's helped our family in many ways. He shows God's love to us more than he knows. Here's lookin' at you.
*Sorry, Syler, it wasn't Blue Bell, but shoulda been.
+ in the experimental worship leading i've been doing at my old church,
i led a song that they were all familiar with, but i didn't let them
proceed with the usual rendering of the lyrics, which to me always
smacked of self-congratulations and a sort of worship metonymy
wherein the professed zeal of the lyric-writer is sung corporately and
then assumed to be true among the singers. So instead of the lyric "I
will" (as in "I will praise you" or "I will bow down before you" or "I
will give my life for you" or "I will love you all of my days") I
substituted "Will I ?" and reframed the lyric as a question, with the intention of provoking soul-searching. Of course
I warned them to be expecting this before starting the song. As my friend Travis said, we do
a lot of singing that sounds like "God is holy and I'm right up there
with him". So: reframing and subtly shifting existing lyrics may be a great way to address Brian McLaren's Open Letter to Songwriters and the astute John Mortensen Unauthorized Postscript to Songwriters.(in which John penned this memorable line: "can we agree to a ten-year ban on rhyming “adore you” with “before you”? ")
+ i was charging my son's iPod shuffle this morning when I happened to
look over at the Playcount column in iTunes. It was a window into my
son's listening habits. Before I thought twice about privacy, etc., I
saw that his most-played songs -- the tunes he's hit 'repeat' for and
not shuffled past -- mirrored my own tastes. Which made me initially
happy -- although his playlist is esentially culled from my larger
playlist anyway, the types of tunes he lingers over are they same ones
I do: The Jayhawks, Coldplay, Josh Rouse, Something Like Silas, Moby,
Innocence Mission, Tim Booth, Dar Williams, etc. Then it got me
wondering: is this just a parroting or is this cultivated? Is this
similar to a child echoing his parents' taste in music faith, for example? Will he venture
out and find his own aural turf?
+ friday nite i art directed a :30 TV commercial for a local restaurant. my first broadcast attempt beyond directing and filming a music video for the fabled and now-extinct band love coma in the mid 1990s. i'll stick with print and web for now.
+ picked up the kids from camp on saturday. they had a good time; man i missed them.
+ my friend, illustrator Von Glitschka, has a new site you should visit if you doodle often: http:doodlearchive.com -- request a doodle card and get those doodles published!
yesterday six of us from the cohort met in a little art gallery within viva bookstore in san antonio. we met travis, who is new to our group (that's encouraging: almost every week there's someone new; now if we could only build some continuity); what's funny is we talked for a long time about silence. [easier to pull of than being silent about talking.] about the practice of silence and solitude. we're going through tony jones' the sacred way, and it was my week to facilitate the discussion.
here are some quotes i had come across, regarding silence, solitude, hesychasm, etc.:
"Silence is not simply the absence of noise or the shutdown of communication with the outside world, but rather a process of coming to stillness. Silent solitude forges true speech. I’m not speaking of physical isolation; solitude here means being alone with the Alone, experiencing the transcendent Other, and growing in awareness of one’s identity as the beloved. It is impossible to know another person intimately without spending time together, Silence makes this solitude a reality. It has been said, ‘Silence is solitude practiced in action.’” — Brennan Manning, quoted in Worship without Words, Patricia S. Klein
“In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose…” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992
“True solitude is the home of the person, false solitude the refuge of the individualist … without a certain element of solitude there can be no compassion because when a man is lost in the wheels of a social machine he is no longer aware of human needs … One can escape from men by plunging into the midst of a crowd! Go into the desert not to escape other men but in order to find them in God.” — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (chapter 11 of this book is excellent)
Regarding physical position and controlling one’s breathing, etc., “[a]ll these things have but a very secondary importance. The only question is whether they may prove helpful and facilitate what is essential.” — Anon., Orthodox Spirituality
“‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So
they went away by themselves … to a solitary place.” —Mark 6:31,32
today's lunch made me wish I had one of you along.
i work downtown, so i walked around down there and ate my sandwich while a presumably homeless woman sat outside the restaurant on a bus bench. would you have bought her a sandwich? i had already bought my lunch when i noticed her, and was contemplating queuing back in line, buying another sandwich to go, when she took off, walking down the street. i didn't chase after her but after I ate, i went her direction instead of back towards the studio. an inconvenient loop in hopes that i could run into her and at least hand her the bag of cookies i had in my backpack. I didn’t see her again, but got to tour a run-down block, and watch two female bike cops rough up a guy who was illegally parked.
Then I went in to [art+pace], a contemporary art gallery a half-block from my studio. Bay-area artist Trisha Donnelly had her first institutional solo show upstairs in the Hudson Gallery. Her images were spare, scattered, and ephemeral, but they really served to point away from the mundane physical world and toward the metaphysical. Her own brand of this seemed to be entangled in the semiotics of egyptology, the notion of being a passenger (“Th. PSNGR” was represented in graphite, sort of a harbinger of “otherness” before you ascended the staircase to the show space.
My favorite part of Donnelly was her mélange of visual, audible and spatial elements that on the outset looked dissimilar, but begged to be synthesized, somehow. You know how some gallery exhibitions have a high degree of repetition? (mine always have: either similar framing techniques for all the pieces, or similar physical distances from which a piece should be viewed, or similar media or aspect ratios?)... Hers did not. For the most part. You kept coming across limb shapes, the letter “E” (perhaps), and graphite on paper, but here the external similarities ended. Instead there was a conceptual tie that is hard to articulate, but it was all wrapped up in the “other”. All wrapped up in that-which-is-not-contained-in-the-physical.
+ my friend danny in Kansas owns this cool painting to the left. His drawing instructor, josh cross, did the piece. note to self: buy more cool art. i have a great waddy armstrong painting on my living room wall, but it belongs to a friend's collection. it's on loan.
+ i think i'm going to buy a penny whistle.
+ an old college friend emailed me today. She's living in Tegucigalpa (which, of course, is fun to say). She's getting ready to move to Madrid (not as much fun to say, but easier). Jenn, thanks for writing. And yes, your son is right: you should blog :)
+ both of the above mentioned people are reading Blue Like Jazz currently. It's on my list of books to complete. I love the opening. need to make time to read it now that:
+ My friend Waldemar gave me Repenting of Religion. (Boyd?) Anyone read it? I think it's from Baker. I'm going to go thru it. He deals with some Bonhoeffer themes.
+ today was Random Music Day for me. in some ways, every day is, but this seemed especially random. been listening to dixie chicks, thompson twins, energy orchard, astrud gilberto and then a whole bunch of shuffled songs on iTunes.
most of you know i'm a huge lover of live music. much time, money, effort and automotive wear-and-tear was spent during my 20s chasing down favorite bands when they'd swing through various parts of texas. genre didn't matter: rock, folk, classical, celtic, pop, alt country, gospel, jazz, ska, rockabilly, bluegrass, punk, roots/americana, opera, big-band, acoustic/unplugged, etc.... some of my best memories are of a small cadre crammed into my car, driving up IH-35 to Austin's live music district -- usually to La Zona Rosa, The Mercury, Armadillo World HQ, or the defunct Liberty Lunch...
so here's a good live music story. i'll try and retell it faithfully and not embellish, because the truth of the story is interesting in and of itself. six months or so ago my good friend ted (he's been mentioned several times in the blog) expressed a desire to get our spouses together and see norah jones who was coming to austin and san antonio around october.
i decided to call a favor into my concert promoter friend greg (i frequently help him design his website and promotion materials, usually in exchange for an occasional warm lunch and all the free CCM tickets my wife wants; it's been years since we've paid to go to a CCM show; anyway). he assured me his ticket connections could come through and get us decent seats (possibly better than we'd be able to get waiting in line, since the ticket promoters skim the good seats).
every month or so i'd call greg and he'd say, "don't worry, my connection says to wait a couple more weeks and then I'll know something." I'd wait a few weeks, call again, and he'd say, "don't worry, my connection says to wait a couple more weeks and then I'll know something." this goes on the whole summer ("wait until after summer and then I'll know more").
Finally last week, a few days before the show, my friendship with ted and heather in the balance, i call one last time, and i get this instruction:
"paul: go the the Exxon at IH-10 and Callaghan Road...."
"get there at 1pm sharp."
"alllll riiiight..."(i'm not making this up)
"a black excursion will drive up and a guy will hop out and hand you the tickets."
"greg, are you serious?!"
so, bottom line, jordan and i follow greg's instrux, we get the tickets (i thought they were going to be 15th row, turns out we landed 10th row Orchestra pit seats [!] which allowed us to rush the stage and catch the last few songs plus the encore about 8 feet from Ms. Jones.) so obviously we enjoy the show. But, whew.... waiting for tix is tough.
No, it's not.
Going without a meal is tough. Cancer is tough. Separating from a husband or wife is tough.
One more: Last week i saw caedmon's call on the third (fourth?) date of their 'share the well' tour, a musical outing the opening act called 'missional.' both the band and the opener were great, but what was better was the missional thrust of the tour. Freedom for the east Indian Dalit caste (subcaste?) was the topic of the evening, the theme of caedmon's album, and the musical and lyrical inspiration for their new songs; they brought along two indian musicians (emmanuel, who i met before the show played the tablas and was amazing). Andrew Osenga of the Normals is now Derek's replacement.
one might not even notice derek webb was gone. but then i love derek webb too.
norah's opening act was Amos Lee. Watch out for Amos Lee. He's going places.
caedmon's upening act was Jeremy Casella. Watch out for Jeremy Casella. He's going places.