Thursday, 11 February 2016

Love Advisory

A man in yoga asana meditating in Albuquerque NM

"When you say 'I love you', you should know at least one of those people."

Oscar Brown, Jr

(Photo courtesy of Mike Tungate and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

WW: Flashbulbs

(Unopened box found in my mom's house. Hoarded and babied, because expensive. Now worth nothing. Sort of adds insult to injury to photograph it with a digital camera. By the way, that outfit the young lady is holding is pretty much exactly what I was shooting back then.)

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Good Song: Toujours debout

Renaud was one of the heroes of my youth. Equal parts Springsteen and Dylan (to whom his voice bears an unmistakable family resemblance), his lyrics have a Villonesque flourish that only a French proletarian poet could wield. Throughout the 70s and 80s he was the public conscience of his country – often much to its dismay. Calling down national hypocrisies and – unforgivably – making merry with the French language, Renaud kept the whole nation turning on a spit.

Then he married and became a father. Some whined about the conjugal turn some of his songs took, but the halogen candour he once brought to politics he now turned on domestic life. His love songs were devastating: an adulterer begs his wife not to leave, without quite being able to articulate why not; a parent forbids the child he's just beaten to run away from home.

And then Renaud just… disappeared. Much later we'd learn that he'd poured so much alcohol on his family that his wife took the kid and left. Then he lost his recording contracts. Then his friends.

One morning eight years later he woke, showered and shaved, and called his old studio to book time.

"Not possible," he was told.

Why not?

"Renaud is dead."

Renaud assured him he was not, but with that implacability only those who know the French can fully conceive, the voice on the phone would not relent.

In the end he had to call a collaborator from his previous life, and, after a similar conversation, ask him to call the studio and book time.

The result of those sessions was 2002's Boucane d'enfer (a play on "unholy racket" and "whiff of Hell"), Renaud's all-time bestselling album.

I wish the story ended there, but sadly the intervening years have brought relapses: lost weekends, lost weeks, lost months; a second wife departed with a second child. Renaud battles addiction like a rat with a boa constrictor: he survives, but he doesn't win.

And the press haven't been kind, to say no more.

Which is why this song, appearing after yet another long silence, belted out in Renaud's trademark working-Paris growl, grown breathless and broken, hit me so hard.

Because it sounds just like him, and so different. Because his voice reminds me of my past, and also of my own serial resurrections. And because I've always loved curses spat in the face of a bully.

Here-follow the lyrics. As usual the translation is mine, and it's been the usual heartbreaking grind. How do you land the one-two punch of « Qui me dépriment, et qui m'impriment » with the English "Who depress me and print me?" (You'll see what I went with below.)

There's also profound poignance in a hooligan like Renaud suddenly opting for the inoffensive; « nom de nom », a softer form of the French "God dammit!", has a pathos that "dang it" doesn't really convey.

More globally, the song just comes off as more petulant and defensive in English. The original French is more along the lines of "nice try, dickweeds", with a warm sense of renewal and reunion.

But not to translate would leave non-francophone readers in the dark, and that's not something I'm prepared to do.

So, with apologies for the treason, the gist:

par Renaud

Toujours vivant, rassurez-vous
Toujours la banane, toujours debout
J'suis retapé, remis sur pieds
Droit sur mes guibolles, ressuscité
Tous ceux qui tombent autour de moi
C'est l'hécatombe, c'est Guernica
Tous ceux qui tombent, tombent à tour de bras
Et moi je suis toujours là

Toujours vivant, rassurez-vous
Toujours la banane, toujours debout
Il est pas né ou mal barré
Le crétin qui voudra m'enterrer
J'fais plus les télés, j'ai même pas internet
Arrêté de parler aux radios, aux gazettes
Ils m'ont cru disparu, on me croit oublié
Dites à ces trous du cul, j'continue d'chanter

Et puis tous ces chasseurs de primes
Paparazzis en embuscade
Qui me dépriment, et qui m'impriment
Que des ragots, que des salades
Toutes ces rumeurs sur ma santé
On va pas en faire une affaire
Et que celui qui n'a jamais titubé
Me jette la première bière

Toujours vivant, rassurez vous
Toujours la banane, toujours debout
Il est pas né ou mal barré
L'idiot qui voudrait m'remplacer
Je dois tout l'temps faire gaffe
Derrière chaque buisson
A tous ces photographes
Qui vous prennent pour des cons
Ceux là m'ont enterré
Un peu prématuré
Dites à ces enfoirés j'continue d'chanter

Mais je n'vous ai jamais oublié
Et pour ceux à qui j'ai manqué
Vous les fidèles, je reviens vous dire merci
Vous m'avez manqué vous aussi
Trop content de vous retrouver
Je veux continuer nom de nom
Continuer à écrire et à chanter
Chanter pour tous les sauvageons

Toujours vivant, rassurez-vous
Toujours la banane, toujours debout
Il est pas né ou mal barré
Le couillon qui voudra m'enterrer
Depuis quelques années, je me suis éloigné
Je vis près des lavandes sous les oliviers
Ils m'ont cru disparu, on me croit oublié
Ces trous du cul peuvent continuer d'baver
Moi sur mon p'tit chemin j'continue d'chanter

Still alive, rest assured
Still smiling, still standing
I'm reconditioned, back on my feet
Steady on my pins, resuscitated
People falling all around
This place is a slaughterhouse, it's like Guernica
All these people falling, discarded en masse
And me still here

Still alive, rest assured
Still smiling, still standing
Ain't been born, or else just out of luck
The jerk who's gonna bury me
Don't do no more TV, don't even have Internet
Don't talk to radio or newspaper types
They thought I was dead, think I'm forgotten
Tell those assholes I'm still singing

And then all those head hunters
Ambush paparazzi
Who depress and im-press me
All the scams and scandals
All these rumours about my health
We won't pay them any mind
And let him who has never stumbled
Buy the first round

Still alive, rest assured
Still smiling, still standing
Ain't been born, or else just out of luck
The jerk who's gonna displace me
I gotta always look
Behind every bush
For those photographers
Who think you're all dumbshits
Those guys buried me
A bit too soon
Tell those jackasses I'm still singing

But I never forgot you
And to those who missed me
You the faithful, I'm back to say thank you
I missed you, too
Delighted to see you're still here
I want to carry on, dang it
Carry on writing and singing
Singing for all the untamed

Still alive, rest assured
Still smiling, still standing
Ain't been born, or else just out of luck
The wanker who's gonna bury me
I've been away for a few years
Living close the ground, beneath the olive trees
They thought I was dead, they think I've been forgotten
Let the assholes blather on
Here on my little journey, I'm still singing

Renaud Printemps de Bourges 1978 (crop)

(1978 photo of Renaud Séchan courtesy of Paul Kiuj and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

WW: Steel penny

(Found this on the cellar floor beneath my grandfather's house. It's a 1943 steel penny. [Here magnetically stuck to the refrigerator.] From a time when American copper was needed for other things.

And on a tangentially related note: this is Post #500 for Rusty Ring!)

Thursday, 28 January 2016

359º Kyôsaku

Plastic Protractor Polarized 05375

"A point of view is merely one degree out of the three hundred and sixty degrees of a circle; each point of view can see from that point only, and so is three hundred and fifty nine degrees blind."
Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
(From Before Thinking.)

(Photo courtesy of Nevit Dilmen and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

WW: Whale's jaw bone

(This is just one corner of it, actually. Came in on a winter storm. The fat end, beneath my foot, is about four inches thick. Very heavy; at least 30 pounds. Fortunately no-one else was on the beach to wonder what the hell I was doing, laying down on the sand to provide scale.)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Middle Way

I recently encountered this graphic on Facebook. Sums up the situation nicely, though I might have called the right wing of Integrity "puritanism", or maybe just "being that guy". Note that the Buddha made this principle central (no pun intended) to his teaching 2500 years ago.

These days I seem to encounter the moral right more often than the moral left. (I'm not talking about the political right and left; the moral right includes organic-insisters, McDonald's-shunners, rape-shouters, and Christmas re-labellers, as much as virginity-freaks, Second Amendment Witnesses, and guru-worshipers.)

It's hard for some to grasp that decency means living with complexity. The ethically lazy skirt such heavy lifting by sidling down one of two side aisles: refusing to recognise the need for regulation -- the hippy-dippy, whatever-dude leftist response -- or shooting down challengers to one's glorious Easy Answer with a silver bullet -- the dogfaced, procrustean prejudice of the right.

Both represent ego run amok. The Buddha's programme to bring it back under control boils down to "doing my best". Doing nothing is doing nothing, and therefore not doing your best. And doing just one thing over and over is not doing most of the full spectrum of things you're capable of. And therefore not doing your best.

Moral extremists tend to reproach centrists (which includes all authentic Buddhists) as shiftless and weak-willed, but in fact, that's them. They adopt one simplistic principle and refuse to do any dead reckoning thereafter. As the Buddha pointed out, they veer immediately off-course, and will never sail straight again until they abandon the delusion of self and get back to the relentless, inescapable work of triangulation.

'Cause there ain't no here nor there in the real world. You calibrate your moral sextant every minute of every day, or you run onto the rocks. (Then there's the karma you incur convincing others to follow you onto the rocks, but that's another post.)

Anyway, the person who created the graphic gets it. If you don't cleave to the channel, you founder.
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