Saturday, September 06, 2008

284. A Monumental Day in Multiple Different Ways: The Gaffer, The Band Practice, and the Rock Obsession at Shelly Lowenkopf's Lions Den (Meeting 3)

Today, through my good friend Joseph Gallo (amazing professional writer, poet, actor, etcetera), I met a very interesting man by the name of Frank. He is a gaffer (lighting guy) for the big movies of Hollywood. He is also a cinematographer. Frank also reminds me of the famous French actor, Gerard Depardieu. It ended up we both lived in Riverside in our early lives and he went to Poly High School while I went to the rival ghetto school of North.

Frank basically summarized "the big picture" in perhaps less than 5 minutes. I told him next time you tell the big picture to me in front of my film camera (Sony DVX 2100). He thought about the condition of the Great Apes (meaning we humans). The Earth wasn't really dying. It is just that humans are creating Earthly conditions that are uninhabitable to themselves. The Earth doesn't give a shxt about us. He also said that the core problem of Planet Earth is population. Replication. Humans and family planning. All other problems--environmental pollution, resource quality and scarcity, diseases, disasters--are just symptoms. The best part (and the worst part for everyone who wants to make money) is that family planning--the most important element of your life--is free. And it takes a 63.5 year lag time to solve the problem (because 63.5 years is the average human life span across the globe). And the goal is to have a planet about 2 billion perhaps, some number that was mentioned from research at UC Santa Barbara.

(I just had a flashback of Seth in boonies of Nevada stating, "The bad news is that humankind is going to hxll. The good news is that the Earth will be a much better place after we become extinct.")

I stared at Frank in simultaneous glee and sadness. Frank figured everything out and schpealed it out in less than five minutes. Frank doesn't have a Ph.D. He is a creative Hollywood cinematographer and lighting guy. And the worst part is that probably most of the reductionist scholars of the university--the ones who study the symptoms (e.g. environmental pollution, diseases, disasters)--would probably stare at him blankly. All I wanted to do is just film Frank. Just him spill it to the camera. His simplicity and beauty and parsimony in logic. To show that Frank, an intelligent human being, without a blah-blah Fud credential from the university, could just see through the bullshxt *bam* like that. I just wanted to show the world about how real humans think about this stuff. Politicians don't even see reality this way. I am so happy to have met Frank, but so sad to realize that the vast majority of the rest of the world is not Frank.

I further followed up with Frank and Joseph explaining to them that I am going to write in Fall quarter a theatrical script (80% science and 20% fiction), called "Towards a Philosophy of Scale: Reconstructing Life, Earth, Humans, and Environment with Some Legoes" or "An Ecology of Size: How to Reconstruct Life on Earth with Some Legoes." It is important to have Legoes in the title to make it appealing and amusing to a wider audience than... someone in the bio or an enviro department. I am making an argument that the human value system and perception of good and bad shifts with scale. One human taking a shxt in the forest is okay. Six billion humans taking a shxt in the forest is not okay. See? It' s an argument. I don't need to collect data on this. It's buried everywhere. So there is a gradient of good to bad as the magnitude of the system shifts. In addition, I will make an argument that a 6-billion ingroup may be physically sustainable through technological aids, but not psychologically graspable, therefore not mentally sustainable.

There were about three times today I wanted to film Frank and Joseph. They were at each others' throats in very playful ways!

The second amazing thing that happened to me was my first ever "official" quasi-band practice. I had been searching and dreaming that one day I would no longer practice and record my music alone and I would have a team of creative intellectuals around me to share music and singing. Michelle (a music and art school teacher), Joseph, and Frank ALL had guitars. I mean I was SWAMPED with guitars. Amazing! I have been praying (to the Allmighty Grizzleback Snickerhog) to find a group of creative intellectuals who actually care about what I care about. And then suddenly, here we are, a few blocks away from the beach at an artist studio complex in Carpinteria. Like *poof* magic! You keep searching and searching for something and when you least expect to find it, there you are. Your wish unfolds before you on a golden plate (not that golden plates are good either). All I need to do is become accustomed with a few songs they play and I can play chords and be a human arpeggiator on the piano--not to mention bang on the drums--and THAT'S IT. The goal is to play songs that are down to earth and depressing. Because all they play in the grocery stores is empty, happy-peppy music. Definitely my cup of tea. I am coming to learn and appreciate there is great poetry in older songs--Beatles era material. There are still very deep songwriters out there but they're all smashed out by megacorporatism. Amazing.

The other event that happened is that I played my sketch piano tune "Rock" for Joseph, Michelle, and Frank... and they actually LIKED IT. At first Joseph said, hmmm, this sounds familiar. And I said, really? And he thought a little more... and then I admitted that I made it up. I guess it was a very catchy tune. Even my friend Oscar Flores liked the tune. We were both messing around at a Costco one night with the piano and a karaoke machine, and I whacked that song out. So, this is good. It's the next song I want to record. Soon enough... I hope.... I will probably need a CCS room for a few hours to get a clean recording....

To make it even more ironic.... I created the song "Rock" from three sources: (1) my geology field trip experience with Seth and Joe (former UC Riverside graduate students) out in the boonies of Nevada, (2) my overall good, but partially turmoiling relationship with my mother, and (3) the dilemma of managing Goleta Beach: place a permeable pier piling or allow more "natural" erosion. I finished the lyrics of the song in February of 2008, only to receive a lack of response from the Goleta Beach team. Then, all in one day, I receive an overwhelming positive, influential response from the band of vocalists and guitar players... as well as the Lion's Den Montecito Writers Group with Shelly Lowenkopf! I guess it's all a matter of finding the right audience. Wow. The university had an emotionally dead response. The literary critics and artists were raving with excitement. Hmmm. Maybe it's good I am networked in the community.

"This girl is going somewhere. I don't know where, but she is going somewhere." That is how Joseph introduced me to Frank. That is a very accurate description of me. I guess Joseph knows me very well.

I realized I can never break ties with the university. I will always need to stay. The university to me symbolizes infinity and I need to stay in a place of infinity. Once I go out into the world, I start feeling like I am hitting dead ends and only small corners of the universe. I have come to realize that my true role is to be tied to the university with my fingers extending all over the community. I am research and outreach. Period. That is where I belong.

The third major event of today was my attendance of Shelly Lowenkopf's Writers Group for the third time. I am so fortunate to carpool with my neighbor and friend, Hector Javkin, a Linguistics Guru. I haven't told Hector this, but I consider Hector and his wife, Katia, essentially as my "intellectual uncle and aunt." They treat me like family. I feel like I have bonded more deeply with Hector and Katia than many of my family members. We mostly share writing and photography, but when you share writing with anyone, you are connecting with the deepest of one's inner being. It's even deeper than seeing a shrink. Through writers groups I felt I have found the core essence of human existence and human "spirit." You truly come to know a person through their writing.

Anyhow, enough of thankfulness (but I can't help thanking Hector and Katia enough!), I announced to the group today (I was second reader) that I shifted gears from Myth of Sisyphus (the poem I read last time that people STILL referred to this time, wow) and informed the group that I was in the process of writing "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" short story ending up to be a novella. I said I am in the middle of writing and since I am so emotionally attached, I will not read until I am done (sometime this week). So instead, I brought a poem called "Rock." I pardoned myself and said that I am sorry I have been obsessing over rocks as of late and I promise it's just a phase. I also explained about where the poem came from. I read the song to the rather large group today (I met a new member, Valerie, Penny was off to Italy, lucky her) (I did not sing it to the writers group, though I told Frank that the music industry is depressing, they are into making tracks and music trills but no music with thoughtful lyrics, I need to go to writers groups to get literary critiques of my music, ironically). This song is so OLD in me, that I was must emotionally over it. But to my surprise, I had raving responses from EVERYONE in the group. Shelly said, first of all, that I should NOT pardon and excuse myself for being obsessed with rocks and that I should go with it, because no one is really doing this. Shelly said that this poem should go with my Myth of Sisyphus short story collection (psychological adventures, so to speak) because it fits beautifully with this philosophical obsessionary phase with rocks. That my writing is actually going somewhere. He even came up to me and gave me a moral boost after class! (insert: I just found out that he called this poem like an epigram, or can be transformed into an epigram, which I just found out that it is a short peom often with a clever twist in the end or a concisde and witty statement, I thought epigram was some kind of lie detector test, ha ha). (I told Hector how my taking a year off to write Question Reality, it had never been the same to take science classes, I was transforming my newly acquired geologic knowledge into poetry, and I was shocked with my own brain!). Though I don't feel I am emotionally grasping this response to it's entirety, I am SO amazed that everyone at the table was tossing out tons of positive ideas for ten or more minutes, while I was frantically taking notes. Here are some notes below, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

**reminds of poem by William Blake, "Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright" (I just read it and it's quite a bit religious overtone on who's the Immortal Guy who designed such an immense creature, I myself have no religion in my writing) (coming to think about it, Shelly's writer's group is VERY SECULAR, all intellectuals, real-world, and non religious blah blah blah, which makes your brain all hyperassociative in a non-real-world way... most of the time)
**make the rock "more specific" igneus or metamorphic or sedimentary, facets, plains, cleavage
**what do YOU want to get out of the rock, take the rock poem BEYOND Goleta Beach, the more "cosmic" stuff (I made the poem unresolved because Goleta Beach is a lose-lose situation, and I also made the poem as a human talking to a rock, an inanimate object, even giving it human qualities, the human doesn't want anything from the rock except for wisdom and truth (as Damon mentioned in 2004 how there was nothing more noble than to observe a city of bustling geologists, who all gather to share their findings of truth by trekking to the boonies of the earth, from outcrop to outcrop), and how to best live with the rock, to manipulate the rock or to adapt to it?, also addresses the theme of LOVE-HATE relationships with humans and environment, yet they are inseperable and you have to live and deal with it, besides humans talking to rocks basically documents the human elements of scientific practice, yes GEOLOGISTS READ ROCKS. GEOLOGISTS TALK TO ROCKS AND GEOLOGISTS GOSSIP AMONG THEMSELVES ABOUT ROCKS, AND THE ROCKS' FEELINGS ARE NOT HURT).
**Shelly started to think about this poem/song being DRAMATIZED in theater or a film such that you have a human like a geologist talking to a human dressed up as a rock, or a bunch of humans dressed as rocks or black flowing capes of sediments and streams (I am so shocked that Shelly and Christina Allison spewed this idea out because I had a secret fantasy about creating a dance about a rock who lived on top of a hill, broke out, and had this adventure being transformed and carved and transported all the way down from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the ocean, like an ultimate roller coaster ride in a few minutes rather than a few million years).
**attempt to write not from the human's point of view but from the ROCK'S POINT OF VIEW, e.g. humans are like what the hxll? and the rock's point of view is like "You humankinds can fxck your self up, but I don't give a fxck about what you humans do to yourself. I shall still be here. You destroy yourselves, you will become dirt of the earth. You will beat yourself up, and then you will come join me."
**the poem discusses the idea of ADAPTATION and MANIPULATION (which was part of the Goleta Beach script).
**Valerie mentioned the problems with rocks "the levees" of Hurricane Katrina and the current hurricane.... (which I am incorporating in the "Elephant and Oak Tree" story).
**brainstorm how rocks relate to humans and their lives *minerals*where we build houses*where we get most materials from in our supplies and technology*make projectile points out of rocks to kill prey*rocks as religious symbols*BUT VIC IS NOT NEW AGEY, she is skimming spiritual-new-age-bullshxt*rocks don't even burn in fires, so we can put that in Willard's story!

**Shelly advised Hector to send his poem (it's a very sad poem on the passing of a dear friend associated with an ironic set of emails) to Hudson Review ( and Kenyon Review (
**Christina Allison is dealing with "serious comedy" (politics of the psat) and I, Victoria, am dealing with "serious comedy" human psychology and environment of the present...

No comments: