bottles of red wine, baguettes, and miles of walking, our last few days
in Paris turned into a wild hunt for a new journal...I refused to
give up. I thought, wow, this is Paris, there must be some artfully
pure, culturally representational, intriguing, interesting hardcovered
object with empty pages in it that longs my thoughts and
color flourishes. But, in the realm of journal selection, Paris was on par with Walgreens---hell, at least Cuba, the place where most people
don't shop because there is nothing for sale (at least in Baracoa, circa
1999), had flimsy, old school recylced blank books that served me well
when I ran out of white space
Perhaps I was mereley ignorant of my surroundings, and quite obviously had yet to discover the merits of moleskin, but combing through the city of art and letters, through Monmartre, Mountparniase, along BD St-Germain (streets which certainly had their share of mysterious egyptian oddities, Sun King ornamental sentimentals, ostentatiously delictable food displays, and fashion weary maniqens with "SOLDES" ribbions drapped across their chests like beauty queen contestants flash frozen in yesterdays fashion skirmishes) and all I came up with was a dumb anything I could have bought anywhere else for half the price. Ironically (and to Nelson's ire), I purchased what turned out to be the first journal I looked at but didn't buy since, besides it's alluringly trendy Chinese Character cover, it had thin lined paper and cost far too many euros.
So to get to the introductory point of this ramp and ramble, I vowed to avow my desperate act of capital consumption (in my search I went for nearly three days without writing or drawing or gluing!). The result is truly visible in images scanned from cheesy chinese character book (which i drew on as well), as I broke from a normal pattern, used only color markers, wrote legibly, and instead of my usual, all-caps, write and cross out style of journal poetry, took to writing simple, zen-like mazes of poetry and poetic words and illustrating them. The journal itself proved to be more of a chonicalling of events through detailed narrative, collage art and illustrated poetry---as opposed to the usual refuge for an overactive mind.
Many of the things you see here were done in self-defense during Nelson's weekend piano gigs at Amsterdam "cafes" (their term for alcohol joints, and I don't mean dope, as that would be coffeeshops), mostly amid bald boundaryless beer swillers. Perched between the music and my thoughts, I found a creative place where I could stay in the room and maintain enough distance to keep my fence of sanctity intact.
To be fair, I must admit that others were done in more peaceful settings, such as propped up in bed listening to a background symphony of breath and rain or on an 8 hour, all five seats to ourselves, back of the bus ride through steepled and cathedraled, old chateaued countryside between Paris and Amsterdam.
I particularly like the story that goes with "Wind Song Sun", which, for me, captures the time when Nelson and I were wisked into the bittersweet world of a one-day-into-80-year-old Amsterdam native for an hour of laced leaf light through the 1702 shutters of his humbly grand brick and wood house along the Herengraact canal in the old Dam.
I met the guy in line at the natural grocery store, which I popped into for a quick fruit and water run to tide us over while we searched for a "private" place (an esteemed commodity in the tourist mecca that is summer in Amsterdam) to chill and catch the last embers of "sunlight filtered through trees along a canal"---our solitary goal for the day. I said yes immediately, then brought the guy outside to meet Nelson and soon the three of us were peddling through people and cars like happy ducklings heading for clean water. Of course our new host had a grand piano. The sun danced through the leaves, Nelson played, the old man cried, and I drew words and pictures on the page. It was magic.
This is just one story.