My body is a commodity depreciating in value,
A vault of visible memory,
Opinions were like kittens, I was giving them away.
My body is a commodity depreciating in value,
A vault of visible memory,
“I adore you as much as the vault of night, / O vessel of sorrow, O deeply silent one, / And I love you even more, my lovely, because you flee me / And because you seem, ornament of my nights, / More ironically, to multiply the miles / That separate my arms from blue immensities.” — Charles Baudelaire
Phono del Sol is a one-day music festival staged in Potrero del Sol Park by John Vanderslice’s magnificent Tiny Telephone recording studio in conjunction with Do The Bay and The Bay Bridged. It is kid friendly, music focused, civilized and affordable with a great selection of local food and beverages. Much to my chagrin, I’ll be missing my favorite California music festival this year because it’s wedding season and two more beautiful humans in our lives are getting hitched on the SAME DAY, July 11th.
My loss, however, is your gain. Due to the double-booking, Nostos Algos is giving away two regular admission tickets to Phono del Sol (a $60 value). To win these tickets, you need to:
All entries must be received by midnight on July 3rd, 2015, and the winner will be notified of their remarkable good fortune on America’s birthday, July 4th, 2015. Below you’ll find a selection of my favorite bands, and you can peruse other offerings on the festival’s website.
Sonny & The Sunsets: Sonny Smith has become is a prolific staple of the local music scene in San Francisco. While I’ve seen him perform live many times over the years, I never know what the next show will hold. He is a spontaneous, musically brilliant goofball playing infections 1960s-inspired garage rock that seemingly rolls ashore with the surf at Ocean Beach.
Everyone Is Dirty: This Oakland band is on the verge of many things, most imminently of breaking out from indie obscurity into the limelight. Just like their city, these East Bayers blend raw kickass with polished perspective to deliver a uniquely California sound. So much energy, so great live–they’ll provide a wonderful compliment to the skateboarders shredding next to the main stage.
Tiaras: The debut album from Tiaras has just been released by Mt.St.Mnt (pronounced Mount Saint Mountain), a colony of creators that publish printed and audio art in limited batches. With the indie music scene in San Francisco endangered by real estate scarcity and superficial patrons, this band and this project give us hope for what’s artistically in store for the Bay Area.
Scary Little Friends: Another local band that offers a beautiful 60s-80s-90s mashup of sound imubed with a Jeff Buckley vulnerability that is hard to authentically master. Each song on their album From the Beginning brings such a different vibe that it was impossible to pick just one feature, so you’ll find the first two tracks available for a listen below. So bummed to be missing them.
Tanlines: Never fail, listening to this synth-pop duo makes me want to watch Empire Records. Perhaps its the way the album’s 1980s evocation sparks 1990s nostalgia in my listening heart. Whatever the reason, the band’s newest album Highlights is polished and pleasant from first to last. Also, they built a website that mimics Netflix in a subtle commentary on consumer culture. Brilliant through and through.
Clare Elsaesser is one of my favorite artists because she draws realistic dreamscapes, the real reimagined. She lives and works in Jenner, California–a seemingly imagined place made real that’s nestled on the Northern California Coast where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.
Good art, bad art–it’s all subjective, so the real measure of a piece is the emotional response it elicits and, thus, the connection it creates with the viewer. This is one of Elsaesser’s greatest gifts: her art is relatable yet elevated, like when you read a poem and it explains your emotions in ways you never could. Her compositions are innocently voyeuristic, as in “To The Night,” and refreshingly irreverent without losing their impact, as with “Pillow Land.”
She works with matte acrylics, textured watercolor paper, wood panels and also incorporates sewing into her work, which is for sale in forms ranging from original paintings to 5×7 prints on her ETSY site. You can also keep up with her ongoing work in a variety of outlets (Instagram, Pinterest, Blogspot, Facebook), and might I suggest giving her prints as gifts? I did just that, for Christmas a few years ago, and her affordable gems were a smashing success.
When I was 15, my English teacher told me to read On The Road and it changed my life. I became obsessed with all things Beat, reading voraciously and writing terrible poetry. Terrible, terrible poetry. At a time when my peers were swooning over your Josh Hartnetts or Paul Walkers, I was mooning over Jack Kerouac (with Chipper Jones as a close runner-up). To be sure, I wasn’t immune from the Hartnett-Walker whirlwind, but I prayed at a different altar.
Two years later it was time to go to college, and I was San Francisco bound. I arrived in our fair City with the naiveté to expect an entrenched Beatitude that was gone, beaten out by the first Tech Boom. I eagerly visited North Beach only to find a few bars that looked the part but were off-limits to an underager, and a mess of tourist traps. In the middle of this was and still is City Lights–the Ferlinghetti shop that time forgot–and this became the epicenter for my growing pains. I took to the City in spite of our initial misunderstanding, and even gave an obnoxious interview to the Golden Gate Express in which I pompously trash my childhood home in praise of the North in 2007. What can I say: there is no remedy for the arrogance of youth except to age, and the internet remembers it all.
I give you this background to note my attachment to the men of the Beat Generation: first Kerouac, in my teenage lust, then Ginsberg as I grew, and now–over a quarter century at my heels–a fan of Ferlinghetti. Beat women, however, never garnered much of my attention as they also did not from the media at large. This is because Beat literature marginalizes them as play-things and homemakers–or both in the case of Carolyn Cassady. They were plot points to be plotted, not characters at the wheel. Without my feminist footing, I unconsciously viewed them as the same. I only paid lip service to Diane DiPrima and never read works by Carolyn because, from my high horse, I assumed her books were the profiteering of a mediocre writer who benefited from liaisons with famous men. But I didn’t know anything about Carolyn save for the sound bytes I’d been fed from the fictionalized spoon of Kerouacian “history.” I knew she was beautiful and admired by mythical men, and in my youth that was enough to pantomime–but that is a very shallow well.
Carolyn Cassady died on September 20th at a hospital near her home in England, and obituaries which have run in reputable publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times note the passing of this woman but barely mention her work. Instead, they marginalize her yet again as a Beat punctuation and devote more time to describing the men in her life than they do to her own accomplishments. The kinder ones tag her as a writer first, and the former wife of Neal Cassady second. If truth were told Carolyn Robinson, her maiden name, was an artist–an educated painter who excelled at set design. Carolyn Cassady became a writer of necessity to inject a dose of reality into the mythologized narrative of her own life; she wrote to add her own voice to her own biography. Her version, however, was not the one people wanted to hear. So, instead she’s remembered as the woman shared by Kerouac and Cassady (or not remembered at all), not as the conservatively raised artist who fell in love with a man marked by madness and did all she could to keep her marriage intact. After all, it was the 1950s and she was not as bohemian as the world had painted her.
Carolyn Robinson Cassady was a remarkable woman with impenetrable strength, and I am a remarkable ass for not realizing that sooner. In light of this, Ms. Robinson, I offer an apology. I am sorry that your story was told but not heard. I am sorry that those men failed you, repeatedly. I am sorry. Now, rest in peace.
I love America (to be differentiated from ‘Merica), but we as Americans suffer from a lack of reverence for our elderly. Perhaps my job as an archivist has skewed my awareness towards the importance of listening and remembering, to acknowledging the feat of having lived, loved and lost, and continued. Perhaps it’s because I can no longer speak with my own grandparents, but this video of Hal Lasko spoke to me. Alright, I admit it, this video made me cry from it’s sheer beauty: the beauty of perseverance, a dedication to the grasping of Joy while one still can in whatever form one can.
This man is the embodiment of the American spirit. To purchase a print of one of his pixel works, go to his WEBSITE.