Why This News

On regional announcements.

Some mornings when I have a strong hunch about being not up to reading the dispatches of certain outlets of official News, I go to Craigslist because I want to be reminded that someone, somewhere, is finding a lost tabby, taking her in, and taking time with the announcement, she is here, and that someone else only wants to hear of your ghost story, your art, your interest in being featured in an indie film, your interest in time spent over coffee, talking questions and making use of some ideas you never knew where to put, finding what one calls other creative spirits and a way to be united toward a sea change and to return––this time––the tabby, the golden, the rabbit, the parrot. 

To be clear, they stress no offers, list their numbers in the ads, and being wary, write out the last four. Please call, they say, and it must be comfort I find in this chorus of suspended invocations, awaiting some response––as though nothing has yet happened to sever the heartbeat, hoping, as though what seems to be for the time being, utterly––

may only have strayed, gone dormant or been temporarily misplaced. That it waits somewhere, calling here and please call.

Findings on The Road

Reunions of the lost and found.

There go the keys again, and next will be the rings. The cattle dog has run off with the chihuahua mix, and Chance is gone from the community park. Black with brown spots, wearing a tan hoodie.

Someone lost a leaf blower. Perhaps this will catch on. And always, so many cats. Perhaps they meet up somewhere. 

Meanwhile, someone found a box of tools on the side of Murphy Canyon Road, near the Arco and the Taco Bell. They want to give them back. They are hoping for a chance. Please call, they say.

Reading these ads never fails to satisfy a hunch that we are always losing parts of ourselves and finding odd bits of one another. The ads are specific, but the losses are diffuse, these invisible hopes our constant companions: return to me.

Who can help but want to audition now and then for the role of the one who returns, bearing gifts? To the weary disbelievers long after they’ve stopped looking, to announce, here! Take this! To share how they’ve been traveling the whole time, on a journey too bizarre to explain, with monsters no one’s ever seen, fanged whirlpools, and captivity on uncharted islands. To finally announce that what looked like death was only the winding course of another of the living, lost, and it can take so much longer than anyone would believe, to get back home.

Hide and Seek

Morning notes, on looking.

Come out, out––wherever you are is called here and here you are again, strange stranger, at first light––which, in this room, at this hour, is always the lamp by this bed.

Most of us remember the heartbreak of knowing we had finally found the best hiding spot, the one sure to win us widespread acclaim and shouts of amazement, only to notice that the voices of the seekers we’d been counting on had grown faint and then gone, with night coming and then lights on in the windows and kitchen sounds, the whole world indoors, and us outside

––[but all alone, not yet us because we could not know until much later that others had endured such betrayal, also alone; each had carried the shame in silence until one afternoon, laughing over ice cream with friends we were fairly sure would not leave us, a confession came, and the solidarity of finding other left-behinds was so sweet, however fleeting, that we did it again, years later over drinks with other friends we were by now fairly sure we would lose over time, not by decisive acts of Leaving but gone anyway––to distance, illness, marriages and breakups, children and the grinding gears that wore us down to our creaking bones until we began to suspect that perhaps it was ourselves who had grown tired, who had gone inside at the third call for dinner, gone to eat, leaving another waiting to be found and no one coming].

We’ve been at this for how long now, and what do I have to show for myself? I think you must be chasing me, running into the last place I’ve looked after I’ve left it, only to leave when I eventually return, wearing the baffled look of someone trying to remember why they walked into a room. 

I’ve given up my reasons now, old friend. Same for certainty in all things but this resolve: to look and look again; to keep calling by the light of this lamp. Come out.

No Word for Nowhereland

Until the maps are remade.

A skeptic challenged Picasso about his art, and the artist, in response, explained that while he did not understand a word of Chinese, he had no doubt that the language existed. So much of nuance resists translation. So much flavor is too perishable to survive transport, and the limits of an art are temporal. When someone ventures into an uncharted landscape, they will seem to others to be simply––gone.

Legacy

With Salarrué.

Like a Polaroid shaken in the light, details of the once-beloved artist emerge. This happens just before the record of his life is erased by time and war. His students remember.

He was called unclassifiable, a sphinx without a riddle, a gentle man uninterested in greatness. He loved invented worlds and claimed Atlantis as his home country.

He loved the people of the land and not its titles. And they knew it.

***

In honor of the birthday of the celebrated Salvadoran painter, writer, and philosopher Salvador Salazar Arrué, better known as Salarrué (1899-1975). Reed Johnson’s 2005 article in the LA Times discusses a recent resurgence of interest in the artist’s life and work.

Object Lessons

On conditions for finding.

When the act of making is an act of finding, there’s a question whispering in the walls: have you set the conditions for finding what you need?

Here’s a figure: old and worn, with clothing torn and stained, holding. The figure waits, returning the gaze, its wooden hands a reminder that it is possible to become any gesture.

This body was never created for a museum. It was meant to be handled, enacting a story. And when you move it, other questions enter the room about who and what you are moving towards, limbs animated by a story long denied breath, finally stretching––out, out. 

***

Inspired by, and with borrowed phrases from, artist Ann Hamilton’s description of the draw of a Bamana Marionette.

Uncertain Somethings

That je ne sais quoi.

Instead of the usual source, today’s weather comes from Craigslist. It seemed important somehow to check, as they say, the temperature of the room, to hold a finger in the wind or press lightly against the pulse of the moment, mixing the proverbial metaphors with freewheeling abandon in the spirit of adventure. I have a pretty good idea what the usual reports will tell me, but this is something else.

For example, I had not considered the possibility of joining an amateur pool league––or that, if I were up for being a dance partner open to swing with an emphasis on retro 60’s, that this person, unnamed and possibly only a few miles away, might be waiting for my call. 

Or that someone might be scouring such listings with a question such as, what do I do with this extra cash?––only to realize that no, they have in fact never owned an original, made-to-order piece of art, and perhaps the time is now.

There is, apparently, a feeling in the air, the type inspired by the ponytailed dog walker at Fiesta Island last Sunday, the guy who lent his umbrella at the Ashanti concert, or the clerk who used to work in the floral department at the Vons on University. 

They came and went, these specters, and someone is looking for each of them now, as some others seek a lost chocolate tabby and a gold dolphin toe ring, and have I ever even considered that this would be a thing to own, until now?

I have not, but it is, and because of this, it may also be lost, and once lost, so missed that someone might be compelled in the dreaded glare of midday, to post a message to the beyonds. It floats there now, in the atmosphere, and you won’t hear about these things in your usual weather report.

And you won’t hear about any of the other small losses that can empty a heart well enough that it will be open to receive the next discovered wonder with the chill of timely recognition that can only come when someone reminds you back to a question you didn’t know you were holding, like what are you looking for?

Space Dragons

Findings in the field.

I’m telling you; it looks like a burned tree it’s so big. Taller than either of us. Tell me, what is something like this doing on a sheep farm? I’m calling all over, but you wouldn’t believe––

I know it. Had one on my land too, a few months back. Turns out it’s just part of a Dragon.

You know, you’ve been out here awhile. I know how things can get sometimes with no one to talk to. You sure you’re feeling alright? Maybe you should think about––

Space dragon. You know. One of those rich boy rockets.

Oh. He named it space dragon?

Just dragon. Space dragon is my distinction.

Well. How many more dragon parts do we suppose are going to be dropping out of the sky?

This makes three I know about, so far. So, it’s anybody’s guess.

So, are they coming to get it?

I don’t doubt they’ll want it. But seeing as it landed in my field, I said they can decide what its worth to them and make me an offer.

What did they say?

Said they’d get back to me. Next I heard, they were giving a press conference about the next launch.

More dragons?

We can only imagine.

***

Inspired by this New York Times article about debris from the Space X program landing on an Australian sheep farm. The debris is believed to be one of several Dragon spacecraft used during a mission to the International Space Station in May of last year.

Recent Findings

I once was lost, but now this.

From time to time, when feeling vaguely haunted by a general sense of loss, it can be useful to turn to the oracles of online message boards for reminders of the abundance that has recently been found. For instance, a small but costly kite has been discovered in an ice plant container, along with some keys at the ledge of the walkway near the dog park. Someone walking along Chollas Creek recently came upon a skateboard, and a foray into the Costco business center led one unsuspecting traveler to discover the proverbial box of money. 

It’s not just the bounty of these findings that’s worth noting, but the fact that person after person is going out of their way––after work, traffic, everyday aches and pains, in between nagging health concerns, personal grievances, and untold losses of their own–– to locate the rightful owner and return the treasure, resisting the age-old maxim of finders keepers.

I won’t comment on the sensitive nature of the personal items the dog keeps finding in the marsh, but there is reason to believe that they will be returned without any questions asked about how exactly they got in there. True, there is still no sign of the teeth that were left in a Skittles bag on a picnic table in Oak Park, but there is no shortage of found kittens ready to soothe the toothless without judgement. We are all on the lookout for the lost parts of ourselves, and what are we here for, anyway, if not to be ever returning them to one another?

***

I have an odd fondness for taking inspiration from Craigslist ads. Although I have never actually used them to locate any goods, services, or people, I take great delight in reading them. 

Obsolete

The art of preservation.

What do you do?

I preserve the obsolete. Take this instrument, for example. Plucked keys, no mallets, every note the same volume––rigid, raw, it sounds almost modern.

Why the harpsichord?

Because we always think of music as living. But I am always thinking in terms of loss.

How do you select your materials?

I look for what is unfashionable. I look for what people have turned from. I want to make them think about it again.

Why?

I am constantly stressed about what is disappearing. It’s a kind of chaos swirling around.

Can you describe your process?

I am the last to know the relationships between these materials.

What is your ideal workspace?

I like the idea of a studio that looks like one of those outmoded cubicle offices, where everyone is together but separated by partitions, and everyone is working on their art, but you wouldn’t even know it. 

What do you do?

Usually, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out something that has no purpose. 

When I was a child, I used to mix liquids in containers. I called them potions.

Exactly, that’s what I mean! Ask anyone to consider some of the things they most loved doing as children. Then have them try to find the point.

So, you’re preserving childhood?

That sounds too lofty. Childhood’s an ideal, anyway. I’m not sure what to make of it. Maybe I’m just interested in preserving a kind of sensibility, a space where a kid can just––be, you know? I don’t want this to disappear, this space.

***

I saw a video with the artist Cory Arcangel, whose primary obsession is working with near-obsolete technologies. I encountered him in a video from the Met’s (now discontinued) Artist Project Series.  He was speaking about the harpsichord.  I felt a strong affinity to some of his impulses. The above is an imagined conversation that borrows some of Arcangel’s ideas, but should not be taken as an accurate rendering of his vision, which I have heavily distorted with my own useless play. .