Friday, July 20, 2012

Ken Loaf at the Shakedown Wednesday, July 20, 2012

Ken Loaf as Meat Loaf - Shakedown 2012
Photo by S. Casey

Ken Loaf at the Shakedown

Wednesday, July 20, 2012

Waiting for the spectacle. This evening is all about the magnificence of Ken Loaf. Ken sings Meat Loaf songs at the local karaoke nights. Along with his “producer,” Zach Zinn, he hope to get enough money from this show to attend a Meat Loaf concert. Now, he is standing on the stage ramp at the Shakdown, collecting his thoughts, perhaps working himself up to channel the force of musical nature that is Michael Lee Aday. 

There is method to his madness, allowing the anticipation to build, more shots to be downed. The crowd is drunk and getting slightly unruly. Zack Zinn, master of all things karaoke, is on stage introducing. Then Ken Loaf ascends in all of his majesty of scarves and perspiration, announces he is "ready to rock.” The crowd is chanting: “Let’s Go! Ken Loaf!” over and over. 

It begins... Ken has the suit, the scarf, the hair, the beard, the comportment and gravitas of Meat Loaf down to an art. The red scarf there in his hand like a ribbon of blood. All the drama in his expression: the bulging eyes, the trembling high notes. Ken has an excellent voice. This is karaoke taken to the nth extreme, karaoke porn. There is something sweet about it all. No trains wrecking at all.  Just one car stopped at the station for a man who is obsessed with Meat Loaf: Ken Loaf. With each song, he gains more confidence, becomes more Meat Loafian. The crowd waving lit lighters, chanting as Ken Loaf takes another shot. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” shines like a diamond. “I’d Do Anything for Love” is performed as a Mystery Play where the spirit of Meat Loaf is crucified on the form of Ken Loaf and all the beauty and pain emerge as pure song. 

Ken Loaf as Meat Loaf - Shakedown 2012
Photo by S. Casey

Ken Loaf as Meat Loaf - Shakedown 2012
Photo by S. Casey

Ken Loaf as Meat Loaf - Shakedown 2012
Photo by S. Casey

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Buddha on the Side of the Road

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” - Lin Chi

I walk or ride my bike down North Garden street nearly every day on my way in to the Black Drop . I consider it to be one of the most beautiful walks in the world - stunning views of the bay in the distance beyond the all the beautiful homes, each with their own private signature garden. Often, in the early morning or late evening, I see deer walking slowly by, grazing, unafraid. 

When I first moved into this part of town, I mentioned my path to someone who then asked if I noticed the Buddha along my way. I had not. There was laughter and she said: "He's right there. You have been walking past the Buddha every day without even knowing it."

After that, I made it a ritual to stop by the Buddha, pay my respects, sometimes utter a simple prayer, sometimes just a nod of recognition. Every so often, I would pass by, lost in my thoughts, until a gentle tug brought me into the present moment where I would look up and realize I'd almost gone by without acknowledgment. "Hey, Buddha!" Always smiling. 

Now and then, I started taking photographs. Just whenever the mood would strike me. It was interesting to note all the changes in my life in relation to the relative changelessness of the Buddha. I admit to standing there in front of him, filled with some transient pain or sorrow, and noting what I believed to be a hint of mockery in that smile. Then, days later, in a better mood, noting how the smile was now knowing, understanding, sharing in the source of my joy. 

There are always new offerings, adornments. A hat in the winter, a necklace, stones, bones, flowers, sometimes a beer can, folded slips of paper, large leaves. Everyday it changes, rearranges, subtle haiku repositionings of the totems. 

Plants and flowers grow around him. Behind him is a small tree that rises like the Hindu cobra Shesha. To his right is a small gate with steps beyond it leading up to a home. It is rarely left open. But when it is, I always have a sense of invitation. Not to climb up the stairs to the house. But to pass through another gate entirely. 

A monk asked Nansen: 
"Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?"
Nansen said: "Yes, there is." 
"What is it?" asked the monk. 
Nansen replied: "It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things."

Mumon's comment: 
Old Nansen gave away his treasure-words. He must have been greatly upset. Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure. Truly, words have no power. Even though the mountain becomes the sea, Words cannot open another's mind.

A monk asked Seijo:  
 "I understand that a Buddha who lived before recorded history sat in meditation for ten cycles of existence and could not realize the highest truth, and so could not become fully emancipated. Why was this so?"   
Seijo replied: "Your question is self-explanatory."   
The monk asked: "Since the Buddha was meditating, why could he not fulfill Buddhahood?"  
 Seijo said: "He was not a Buddha."

atabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru 

falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / over a field of dried grass 

- Basho, death haiku

Picasa Web Album of the Bellingham Buddha

Teddy Bear Cove: Seems Like A Dream

Someone took me here once. The late and tired light of an early evening resting under the green canopied curves of the winding road out there. Windows down in the truck, rolling with the ocean back and forth sway of the road, conversation rising and falling in short fugue like fragments, still a chill in the air, but the cab of the truck is warm. The only car in the small pull-off for parking. Wanting to just sit on the tailgate and watch the sun or earth or everything in our minds set, wanting to wait for the stars to shine brighter than the day.

Crossing the tracks and it seems like we have been here before, in some other configuration, walking along the rails, watching for the trains, but not with each other. Not with such a sense of separation haunting everything. Some moonlit night from another time. Rails like black spokes running from the center of the world's wheel to the blue outer edges of the Universe, the hem of the known world hanging like a curtain just there beyond, where the rails come together in a vanishing point, a place paradoxically in the memory and not yet.

On the other side, it is colder and I am alone, walking down pathways where I once had company. Every object is weighted and heavy with memory. Madrona trees rattle like skeletons in the wind. There is distant thunder. Perhaps a storm. Maybe a train. The sense of being out of time, out of place. Waterlogged with memory, driftwood upon the beach. Everything lost. Now turned back. The tide's persistent tugging of the world into Oblivion.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Modsock: A Candy Store For Your Feet

Update December 2014: Modsock now has their own sock line and they are clever, beautiful and make great Xmas gifts! Check out the photos below. Keep scrolling down for the review!

The ever ebullient Urania opened ModSock on December of 2011 in a beautiful space full of light and modernist architectural flairs. Hardwood floors and high ceilings all work to give the shop a luminous and cheerful atmosphere. The entrance is framed with two long display windows which are used to maximum effect with amusingly themed presentations.

The selection is amazing, almost hallucinogenic, like stepping into a color wheel, thousands of shades and designs, shapes, textures. All presented with a sense of elegance, style and humor. I particularly like to stand in front of the section with the socks with clever words and amuse myself over the juxtapositions: MEAT TOFU GAY BADASS ZOMBIE GROOM.

They have socks for everyone, young and old, small or large, thick or thin: super comfortable merino and cashmere wool socks, toe socks (be sure to read the amusing modifications on the labels), over the knee socks. It is almost Dr. Seussian how many socks they have: red socks, blue socks, socks you never knew socks, so many socks just for you socks! 

However, what makes ModSock unique is they are more than just a sock store. They also involve themselves in local events, staying open late for ArtWalks, having live figure drawing events, sock-hops and photo-ops with a live sock monkey. The prices are reasonable and very friendly. And it seems like there is always a special or a sale going on. Follow them on FaceBook for announcements. They also have a punch card that offers $10 off.  If you are looking for great gifts for anyone on any occasion, ModSock is the place to go. 
1323 Cornwall Ave. 

All photographs by Ashley Berger and Scot Casey 

Photo by Django Boren
Photo by Django Boren

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chris Otepka from the Heligoats - Redlight - July 5, 2012

NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Chris Otepka from the Heligoats - Redlight

July 5, 2012

Thursday night. Drinking at Cap’s. Lupe Flores comes in like a whirlwind of hair and laughter and tells me I need to go down to the Redlight to check out her friend Chris from The Heligoats. After another shot of Hussong, I wander down State imagining something out of Revelations 9: an apocalyptic helicopter goat flying around playing a guitar of fire to the sound of screaming.

I find Chris Otepka, pleasant and congenial, standing before an intimate crowd with an ordinary guitar. He sings a few amplified words then, in a haiku move, steps out from behind the microphone to sing beautiful and pure. His sound has the ache of Will Oldham with the wry humor of the late Vic Chestnutt. Ballad type songs, loosely woven narratives, fragments drifting in the memory like forgotten conversations between you and a lost love. A nice rendition of Clem Snide’s “Sweet Mother Russia” with the lines: “The clouds were all cotton / And my mouth got so dry / From those little red pills that you gave me / With your pretty face lost / In a sea of bad haircuts.” Then, later, with quiet strumming across the strings, the song “A Word From Our Sponsor:” “You should know better than to ever put the wind in your plans / And don't look at the red sky this morning and think that you've survived / The moon rises and sets / And then the sun comes up just to say goodbye.”

The songs are all short, sweet and full of quiet intellectual intensity. There is a quality of a modern day troubadour to Otepka, of a musician steadily working at his trade, lightening the burden of being for all who listen. Many of the songs end abruptly, lending them a zen koan-like quality: resolutions unfold in the listener’s memories. After a half dozen songs like this, there is an unsung ghost song haunting the moments in between, the quiet tension of a calculated incompletion, a gathering presence of a sweet loneliness in the room. It is there in one of the last songs, following the difficult imagery of “Boil Over:” “out here my passion is spread too thin / it’s like I love everything.” A perfect coda to a beautiful evening of excellent music by Chris Otepka.