I awoke about 3am on 2nd March 2022 and a strange thought crossed my mind about the convoy of military vehicles sent into Ukraine which for reasons beyond my ken I thought of as ‘his lethal payload’ which is not a term I’ve ever dreamed of nor considered in the 70+ years I’ve lived.
I coined the phrase ‘His lethal payload’ to carry the meaning and outcome of the Russian intent and it cannot be just the misguided work of a leader gone mad; to carry out such a mission required the complicity of tens of thousands. The parallel with the invasion of Poland & France by Nazi forces in 1939 is uncanny. A leader led by paranoid delusions who had stifled all opposition and in this case has practiced destroying cities (and the inhabitants) in Syria has other parallels too; with Stalin, Pol Pot and the North Korean’s leadership. This is the scariest military action I have ever heard of and the poor people of Ukraine are about to go through an annihilation planned by the Russian ‘leader’ and his cronies. Megalomaniac is not a term too severe to describe the ‘leader’ preparing such a lethal onslaught and the lapdogs that carry it out. The ‘West’ is doing something parallel to Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler and the consequences will probably lead to a conflagration into major war between Russia plus its allies and NATO forces. Even if that doesn’t occur it’s almost inevitable that thousands of brave Ukrainian defenders are about to die, many already have. This trajectory must be prevented by all means possible. Essentially the ‘leader’ has to be ousted somehow; he’s lost his marbles.
The ‘performance’ art I’m doing in my new piece at Colchester Art Centre on Sun12Sept2021 is based on the content of my self-published books with some poetic license. It has many bits of music cut (with thanks to all the songsters!) from songs which were popular back in the day and as I’m only speaking very sparsely the words of each song actually tell the story. So listen well.
“We are a music-making species — always have been, always will be — and music’s capacity to explore, express and address what it is to be human remains one of our greatest communal gifts… We evolved by coming together around the fire* every night, singing songs and telling stories — invariably, telling stories through singing songs. That’s what our ancestors did; that’s how they made sense of the world and each other; that’s how they learned how to be. It is an impulse that is still fundamental to who we are.” Clemency Burton-Hill *there’s no actual fire in my piece.
I woke at four am today 25th August 2021 and came up with some answers to things which were bugging me both short term and longer. Seems I was lucid at that time of day. Short term was solving some of the challenges* I need to resolve for my show on 12th September. *(Lennon sang ‘There is no problem only solutions’ or summat like that)
I was reading about how Michael Parkinson thought so much about Alan Whicker who he said “Played the pauses better than anyone else”. I see how important that is as I prepare for my September 12th gig in which there’s a series of transferences and instinct (or simply inexperience) makes me want to fill every space but it’s probably better to leave pause time in. The silence, no movement no sound maybe a shift of lighting, will then frame the activity.
I’m may spend some of the time just sitting on my small cane chair rather than attempting to ‘dance’ my way through the whole piece. So I’ll be like that story teller on Jackanory. Early on in the piece I have a paper fish placed on my back which recalls the time as an eleven year old it happened to me in France and now I’m going to keep it on my back as I move through any of the autobiographic parts because being the fool or rather playing the Fool was part of my adopted character trait. And it adds continuity and meaning to the piece. The fool turned, like that worm which I also carried about as a character trait, in my second year at college when I realised I wasn’t playing a fool I was in danger of being a fool. A shrewd decision to stem my foolish behaviours which is probably the advent of the Shrewd-ness in PK.
I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought. I hang my ‘painting’ on the portal whilst I whip it then destroy it during Sandy Denny’s No End song. I’m also wearing the red beret which mysteriously appears on my return from Paris just in time for the whip it-like-John Cleese scene. I will separate the Fool (on the hill) bit from the Kazuo Ono part and maybe use Jeff Beck’s instrumental Suspension for Kazuo and also really try to make a simple Kazuo papier-mâché mask notwithstanding the sparsity of time. I don’t think I’ll complete the new Squidgeratkin mask but I’m going to embellish the original latex one with feathers and flame.
On the long term issues it came to me why I was so upset by that JFK murder it’s because subconsciously at the time he was incremental in avoiding a nuclear war with Russian leaders. There’s been so much prevarication ever since but I’m convinced he was a man marked to die and not by Lee Harvey Oswald who was a scapegoat but by forces within America’s Establishment and the bullet that actually blew his brain out was fired from behind by a security guard; accidentally or by design. American politics just then began a downhill spiral which ended up with a LOUD Trump. The jury’s still out on the Biden administration but America is so damaged there’s probably no way to recovery. I think Lennon was murdered by a hit man too. Lennon is my Working Class Hero, the words of most of the songs are pertinent to the story
Another hero is Dudley D Watkins who created characters for Beano one was called Jimmy and he had a Magic patch on his bum which enabled him to travel through time. I’ll be sporting a similar patch on me bum.
I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought.
So this bloke attacked me with his puny belt but like Crocodile Dundee I got a bigger one than him but I don’t use it as a rule.
There’s a John Cleese reference too.
The Belt piece is there because it’s in my Shrewd Idiot book you’ll need to buy one to find the context.
By the way the red hardback Shrewd Idiot cost me £100 each and you can buy one today for what it cost me. R J printers in Maldon print most of my books and came to my rescue when The Trilogy was not up to standard.
The Dress piece is about Love and Loss, from ecstasy to forlorn and back again. Good Vibration is not about celebrating it was on the radio that night my first love gave me the bum’s rush.
Kazuo Ohno was an amazing Japanese performance artist I tagged a tribute to him at the end.
On Friday night I took part in a series of readings for EducAid in Colchester Sixth form college. The main contribution was my Beuys ‘Sliding thru Eurasia’ poym. However I want to read one of Cohen’s pieces if given the time.
Thanks to Jim Pey for giving me the opportunity to ‘perform’ last night and my friends Richard & Shelley who joined me and really seemed to enjoy the evening of poems & readings in Colchester on behalf of EducAid. http://www.educaid.org.uk/
This is from my Inside This Clay Jug poems.
Here he comes now over the hill! Sliding … Gliding…
Joseph Beuys with his Celtic roots
Dancing down the backbone of England
Along the Pennine Way
Please “Don’t mention the War”
He served the Luftwaffe in the air up there
(appropriate bomber diving sounds)
We each of us has a cross to bear
He says he piloted a Stuka bomber
Then he all fell down and broke his crown.
He went flying from the cock-pit and cracked his skull
Maybe that was what loosened his slates?
So who were these mysterious ‘Tartar Shamans’
Who pulled him from the burning wreck?
They were Siberian nomads
Who wrapped him up in felt and fat
Which later on he used for sculpture, just like that!
Swooping… down to Poland on a sled
In his waistcoat with his homburg on his head
He alone put the wrongs of the 3rd Reich to bed
‘Join up’ he told Eurasia… ‘Show me your friendly nature’
‘Everyone can be an artist’ (don’t you know?)
‘Just let your honey in all directions flow
Draw yourself in to the spiral vor…text
Why don’t you come with me little man On My Magic Blackboard Ride
Meet up with Hermann Hesse
Fellow Wanderer on the mountain paths
Dancing down the Backbone of Italy
Along the Appennine Way
We are not humans We are dancers
Swirling and whirling
Along the road down Destiny’s Inscrutable Was
It was lovely to see some of the audience smiling as I moved thru mi Beuys ‘poym’ “Explaining Beuys To A Dead Woodpecker”. Funny as you look around when you’re doing summat like that. There’s a nervousness at trying to remember the words and the nuances, yet nowadays I feel can bring in some of the audience with a little look. I try to gauge reaction/interest, altho it’s never a perfect science, I think I am learning to ‘read’ an audience better. That allows me to stay with something that’s ‘working’ and move quickly on if it isn’t.
“Dance Me To The End Of Love” Len Cohen
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
I did my take on reading the above song as a poem and I thought it wonderful how a couple of the other participants recounted their Len Cohen experiences reflected against my story of not seeing the man, whereas they had! It was not so much a mourning as a real delight in what he stood for and emanated with a panache and quite grace. I agree with the last speaker who said that he, on having the opportunity to meet and speak with LC, said thru a post event party-champagne haze, that Len was good no matter what others may think. It still applies. I loved when he did Glastonbury and gained thousands of new fans. Here he sings ‘Anthem’- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJSlpEb_jFk
There’s a poignant story about the girl in his song Marianne which is told in the Telegraph Obituary on 19.8.2016 about Cohen’s erstwhile love Marianne Ihlen who “spent her time since 1979 working in the personnel department of an oil company, painting and exploring Tibetan Buddhism.She remained in touch with Cohen, though when he performed in Oslo in 2010, she attended the concert without going backstage. But she sensed that he knew she was there.
When Cohen heard that Marianne was dying of leukaemia, he wrote to her: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.””
Now he can join her again without hurting anyone as we are all destined to travel down the inscrutable road of destiny, one day.
I was lucky to get tickets to see Dave McKean at the Tate Brit on Sunday 13th doing his Black Dog gig and talk . I am hoping to be able to get some more live images of him. Here’s one of the results from last time I saw him.
Leonard Cohen, I have been a fan since someone compared my artworks to his sad songs in a derogatory way in about 1976. I love his use of words. The way he counterbalanced beauty and high note with the beast and his low tones.
During my previous incarnation as a teacher I managed to ‘sing’ his ‘Dance me to the end of love’ to an entrapped audience of other teachers (they deserved it!). Luckily my assistant was a young Canadian who could sing well. Half way thru the ‘performance’ the Head of Science stole the show by dancing into the centre of the stage dressed in a tutu. I think Leonard would have smiled benignly!
Which he’s doing now, looking back at the human pace.
Shalom & Namaste!
LC was born a Jew and later adopted Buddhist monk Sasaki Roshi as his mentor.
I spent all me life avoiding London but London’s Calling me nowadays.
I find I like wandering wondering about the streets attractive in me old age. Last time I found it like that wer when I were about 20 year old but then I used to wonder what I’d do with me life. Now I wonder what I did with it! But once again London seems to beckon with opportunity. I know from experience that she beckons falsely. Or rather she appears to offer stuff and rarely delivers the goods. Or maybe it’s me? Maybe with my vivid imagination I get all excited and imagine maybe I’ll get that long yearned ‘big’ break’? But almost 50 years of experience has proved the break never comes. Only small, gradual, arduous, hard-earned breaks come, which often made me look like an overnight success. And often that’s how long the opportunities lasted, overnight. Break of day and they’re gone, and I missed ‘em.
Recently I had the privilege to be invited to Bryan & Mary Talbot’s book launch at the Cartoon Museum. On my way there I donated four photos from my 70’s & 80’s photos of ‘rock stars’ to that lovely camera museum/café called The Camera Museum at 44 Museum which they have been kind enough to exhibit downstairs. My first London photo exhibition, London beckons!
So, Bryan & Mary’s book launch at the Cartoon museum proved to be a regeneration of old acquaintance and a finding new folks to share time with. It is great to see how successful they have become and it was lovely to see London mayoral candidate Lee Harris talk about the good old days when he published Bryan’s work (and mine, in BStorm 2) in the seminal graphic novel on Chester P Hackenbush in Brainstorm Comics, mid 1970’s.
Bryan, Mary, Richard “Chester” West, Glynis West, Lee Harris.Lee reminiscing
I only had ma little mobile phone ‘camera’ with me so these images are tiny and poor but I reckon I might do a page of ‘comic’ with them sometime? That’d be nice but right now I ain’t got much time as am working on 3 different books simultaneously (there’s reasons for that I cannot go into here), stupid I know but someone’s got to prepare my books and that pleasure befalls to me.
Here’s some low res snaps:
Bryan stands alone
Comic book heroes never grow old
Sweet tattooed lady looking like Minnie the Minx.
Not only the best tattoo but also a PhD in Maths she had.
A wonderful work by Dave McKean.
It was nice to speak with James Bacon who came from Forbidden Planet to write about Bryan & Mary’s book launch (and his companion, the tattooed lady). You can see his report here:
People came from afar to this event and I was lucky to meet, momentarily, another of Bryan & Mary’s accomplices in the world of graphic novels, Kate Charlesworth who had come by train from Edinburgh. Kate collaborated with B & M on Sally Heathcote. http://www.katecharlesworth.com/
A week later I turned up at Colchester Arts Centre for one of the Wednesday gigs and boy was it ‘special’, thanks again Ant. Liz Aggiss presented her ‘Slap & Tickle’ show. Liz, an old friend of Ken Campbell’s, who seemed to me to be the female Ken Campbell (she took that as the compliment it was intended), was scarily AAAA-Mazing!
I loved her show in which she literally had (juggling & pingpong) balls in her bloomers. I won’t try to explain, just look at this: https://vimeo.com/151371749
Now back to ma tree boks.
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.