Deeper into the rabbit hole

After that last post’s downward spiral into music, I might as well keep spiraling for a spell. Good time to reconsider Why the Beatles.

And for a fine adult fairy tale with many an echo of Alice and her trip down the rabbit hole, it’s not too late to go look up Alice.

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A musical digression

Anyone who reads this blog knows I travel a lot. Nine countries so far this year, five of them via hitchhiking. It came up the other day – how people often get rooted to a place, how they come to feel trapped in a place, even though – or partly because – they love it. Fine line between rooted and trapped. I don’t have the answer. But since the conversation turned to music, I’ll ramble through a musical tangent.

First and most obviously, we thought of the Eagles song, “Hotel California,” with the title as a thinly veiled metaphor for California itself. When you’re out in the desert looking for relief, it’s a place of glamour and glitz that pulls you in. Lovely women and sweet summer sweat, pretty boys and pink champagne. You think it will satisfy all your desires. When you finally realize that the place “can’t kill the beast” of desire, that it’s a surreal dream with a dark underbelly, it’s too late. You are a prisoner of your own lifestyle, unable to escape.

For a great outlaw country expression of trying to escape that Golden State metropolis, see “L.A. freeway”  by Guy Clark, who hung around Austin a lot when I lived and worked in the music clubs there during the Stevie Ray Vaughan era. Jerry Jeff Walker (who would also pop into our Austin music clubs back then) recorded the Guy Clark song HERE on his self-titled album before Clark released it himself.

And now back to the Eagles song. Here’s the last verse.

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man
“We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave”

Let me arbitrarily use that to segue to this fantastic live version of “Can’t Find My Way Home,” with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood joining back up on stage, along with some next-generation stars like Derek Trucks, many years after they released the song on the Blind Faith album. At the 10-second mark, when Clapton taps the button with his foot, those of us who have been around a while go on alert for the signature sound of Clapton’s guitar (which comes at the 20-second mark) 😊

So if like Clapton and Winwood you can’t find your way home, if you just can’t shake that “warm smell of colitas” that has befuddled Eagles listeners for decades, just sit back and watch the best ever pop culture appropriation of “Hotel California” in this scene from “The Big Lebowkski”.

Works Cited

Hotel California, The Eagles
L.A. Freeway, Guy Clark
Voodoo Chile, Stevie Ray Vaughan
L.A. Freeway, Jerry Jeff Walker
Can’t Find My Way Home, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood
Hotel California soundtrack scene in The Big Lebowski (dir. Coen Brothers)

Product Links (click image for link)

       

 

 

 

 

 

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Good day for book gifts

Get’m books for Christmas. Below are choice picks at bargain prices by two-time Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist, Gary Gautier.

All on Amazon worldwide or in bookstores around the US. For e-copies, select “Buy for others” to send as a gift. For signed copies, email drggautier@gmail.com.

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Alice
Kindle: 99c this week only
Signed copies: $14.50 + shipping

Alice’s little utopia in a dreamlike forest begins to crack when strange things start happening. A small deformed creature with a bowling ball head appears out of nowhere and turns to Alice for support. Her trips to the pond start to bring  transcendental omens and strange visitors. Thus begins a journey in which Alice wanders away from her idyllic home to find another world and to slowly connect the dots of her own world’s missing history. This post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale is comic, poignant, thoughtful, and sparkling, a magical tapestry with many threads.

Schematics and Assemblies of the Cosmic Heart
Kindle: $3.91
Signed copies: $9 + shipping

A poetic landscape with the impact of human passion and imagination. The poems are both personal and archetypal, rich in intimate joy and sadness, but also connecting to something abstract and eternal. The focus may settle on a brittle image, domestic or mythical, or on a brief feeling that opens a transcendental vista and then, perhaps, closes again. Each poem is tightly sculpted and easily read, but in a way that keeps readers reaching into the heart of their own cosmic lives.

Rgg cover fr KDP

Love’s Ragged Claws
Kindle: $3.93
Signed copies: $7.85 + shipping

Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist. In this short novella, Gabriel enters confession for the first time in 50 years and tells the priest he has only three sins, all sins of the flesh, and the confession opens up the byways of human identity and human relationships as it weaves the tale of three sins. The account moves back and forth across decades, pulling out the little epiphanies that would be reference points of meaning for the rest of Gabriel’s life. 

 

Goodbye, Maggie
Kindle: $3.88
Signed copies: $11 + shipping

Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist. In a culture of health food stores, gurus, quacks and seekers, Phil’s stagnant life is rattled when his charismatic brother shows up with the news that he has murdered someone and asks for sanctuary. Thus begins a dramatic comedy of misdirection, as our heroes find racism, madness, and unlikely friendships as they roll through the Louisiana bayous into New Orleans.

Hippies  
Kindle: $3.94
Signed copies: $14 + shipping

The Vietnam war resistance, psychedelic drugs, sexual openness, the freedom of the commune – it seemed that everything about the 1960s could be incredibly liberating or wildly destructive. Filled with the sights, sounds and ideals of the Age of Aquarius, this hippie epic follows Jazmine, Ziggy, Ragman, and a coterie of hippies as they discover an LSD-spinoff that triggers past life regressions and sweeps them toward a dramatic climax.

 

Spaghetti and Peas
Kindle: $5.99
Signed copies: $14 + shipping

What would you do if you saw a snake in the lettuce? Rachael had to figure that out fast. And she found a magical adventure in her own back yard, within smelling distance of the spaghetti sauce her dad was cooking on the stove. Enjoy this zany, richly illustrated, hardbound picture book as a read-aloud or early reader.

Mr. Robert’s Bones
Kindle: $3.94
Signed copies: $11 + shipping

In a neighborhood full of quirky characters, three kids’ search for hidden silver in an abandoned house pits them against forgotten ghosts and the house’s dark memories of racism and betrayal. The quest for the silver is especially nerve-racking for Annie, the kid who actually sees the ghosts. Her friends want to believe her but can’t, and she herself is torn between running away from it all and following the ghosts into the house’s dark history.

 

Phineas Frecklehopper
Signed copies: $5 + shipping

Phineas Frecklehopper was not always picked first at sports. He couldn’t always remember to take a bath or brush his teeth or do his homework in every single subject. Still, he considered himself a normal boy in most respects. But he did have one peculiar hobby, or at least others thought it peculiar. He loved to cook. But could rendering a recipe really make a hero? Absolutely! Read to see how. Then cook Phineas’s sample recipes! Ages 8-12.

Shipping (USA):
First book                                            $3.50
Second book in same shipment          $2.00
Additional books in same shipment    $1.00

drggautier@gmail.com

Ragged Claws Review

Lee Hall gives a new review of Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist novella, Love’s Ragged Claws.

“For a short read, Gary Gautier packs in so much …  I’m definitely urged to go back a few times and read it just to capture everything.”

See the full review at Lee Hall’s Book Reviews.

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Alice in pieces

Here’s a clip from Alice, a post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale, now available online and in bookstores in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Austin, and Guanajuato. (Cp. the opening scene here.)

xxx

John Wilson lifted one of his bushy eyebrows, and the black hairs came to attention. Alice thought of a black cat’s tail with the hairs standing in response to a threat.

“Your eyebrow looks like a black cat’s tail,” she said.

John Wilson reached up with a massive paw and touched his eyebrow, and then touched his equally bushy mustache, as if to compare the two. He looked for a moment like a distraught walrus sloshed in a button-down shirt. Then he went on.

“The fairies,” said John Wilson. “The hum went away by the pond last night. No hum for an hour and a half.” The fairies kept the whole of New Arcadia going. They were rarely visible but often audible, a humming that recalled the humming of bees restless to massacre the males and slaughter the other princesses to please their sister, the newly chosen queen. The fairies did not work in the fields or in the factory. They did not cook or clean. But it was they who wove a sense of destiny into New Arcadia. Without a sense of destiny there would be no going on, for there would be nowhere to go.

The fairies had no enemies – for how could destiny have an enemy? – save one. Ladybugs. Tiny orange specks with wings. Wings with tinier black dots. The ladybugs made no humming noise. No hint of massacres for the newly crowned queen. They just flittered in quiet beauty, careful to disturb no one, seen but not heard. Thus, no one, not Alice or Evelyn, not the kleptomaniac, not the mapmaker, not the white witch, not the rain king, not John Wilson, not even the sweeper as far as anyone could tell, could divine their purpose or what it was about them that touched the spleen of the fairies.

 xxx

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The Language Matrix

When you ride the subways in Tokyo, it might strike you that the signs and the books passengers are reading require special language skills. The signs are sometimes written in Kanji, sometimes in Katakana (the two Japanese writing systems), and sometimes in English:

無料配達
むりょうはいたつ
Free Delivery

Sometimes they seem to mix Kanji (the one that looks like Chinese) and Katakana in the same message:

とは? 使い方や敬語表現

Also, the books are typically read in vertical lines, top to bottom, right to left, but the newspapers seem a fairly even mix of horizontal and vertical text passages.

I know little of Japanese languages and culture, but let my thoughts run wild for a minute. Learning from infancy to be equally comfortable in all these language systems – vertical readings, top to bottom, right to left; horizontal readings, left to right; Kanji and Katakana, separately and mixed; and English text and Western numerals as well – this must affect how your brain gets wired. It’s like language is a layered matrix with all these synchronized modes operating (or rapidly engaging and disengaging in the brain) at the same time.

Here’s a hypothesis. As I said, I’m a novice at Japanese culture, so my hypothesis may have some empirical support, may have no empirical support, or may, to the legions of easily mortified souls in today’s debauched intellectual climate, merely prove me an unregenerate racist. But it seems that if you learn language from the start as this kind of many-tiered system, your brain wiring will be really good at “matrix thinking” – math, manifold arrays of logic, etc. Rigorous might be the right word. A people raised in this kind of multi-dimensional language field should, by my hypothesis, be good at math, programming languages, etc. (not universally, but on average). When it comes to more chaotic, creative, rule-breaking, outside the box thinking – people in the US (in the aggregate) might have an edge. To wit, wiring your brain via language requires less rigor in the US, which means you’re wired less for rigor and more for open-ended thinking – more mistakes and more creative tangents.

Of course, none of this is meant to indicate universal traits but just a tendency on average to lean a little bit this way or that in your signature strengths as a culture. (Western Europe, in my experience, would be in between the Japanese and US poles, but maybe closer to the US side. I am not a psycholinguist. I base this on the purely anecdotal evidence of three years’ residence in Europe, 12 countries hitchhiked in Europe, and the half-baked ideas flowing through my brain as I sit here in a quiet neighborhood in Tokyo.)

If you think this is bad, you’ll hate my psycholinguistic foray into Mexican vs German and English language students.

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Murakami at Nakano Broadway

If you get a chance, walk through the childlike, bubbly, and psychedelic spaces created by Takashi Murakami in Nakano Broadway, Tokyo. He had a bar done up in similar style, which sounds like a nice immersive experience, but for whatever reason, the bar had closed down before I arrived in Tokyo.

Click image below for Murakami gift poster on Amazon

 

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The midterms come down to this

Who gets the last-week microphone? Right or wrong, that’s what matters.

If Dems can keep the spotlight on abortion, they win (as a large majority favors Dems on this issue).

If the Repubs can keep the spotlight on crime, they win (a majority favors Repubs here).

Secondary issues:

If the Dems can focus on how undercutting election integrity is now part of the Repubs’ fixed platform, this helps them.

If the Repubs focus on inflation, this helps them (absurdly, since inflation is worldwide and the US numbers are better than the global average).

In the fight for the mic, it seems Repubs are winning in the home stretch. As for me, I’d like to see the biggest spotlight on abortion, due to the enormity of what’s at stake for average families. Just imagine your daughters (and sons) going to college where they make one dumb mistake and abortion is a criminal offence, where your daughter doesn’t want her doctor to have information that might be used to track her periods, or where every text message about her period could be tracked and seized as criminal evidence.

Choose your meme and get it out there. Keep the focus where it should be this week. Don’t wait for the media to do it.

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