Sunday, November 24, 2013

And Now I Go To The Copy Shop

I've been going back through the blog, the last  six months of writing, and printing out all the worthy essays, contenders for entries in what will become a future book. My long time friend Dr. Paula Luber, gave me a big jump start on this in June when she printed out every Beloved Stranger blogpost since day one in late 2009 and up until Paul's memorial. That, is a good friend. The best. 

Later today David Hartwell is coming in to visit from New York. He was Paul's best friend and confidant for many years, since Paul was in the 8th grade I believe. David, if you don't already know is a senior editor for Tor Books. And has won numerous awards in his field of Science Ficiton book editing. 

After picking him up at the airport and delivering him here to a nice post flight snack, I will summarily dump the pile of papers, once a blog, onto his lap. He's been forewarned. And a brilliant editor to help me see what is here and what must go and what must still be written is just what I need right now. After it's been tumbled through the wash we'll know where to go from there. 

I have so appreciated those of you that have read and written to me, supporting me in the writing of this blog. Those of you that are writers yourself have been very encouraging and because of you I thought perhaps, this could indeed become a book one day. 

I was recently encouraged at seeing the books on the late great writer, Iris Murdoch by her husband, John Bayley, who wrote of their life together and her long decline into Alzheimer's. Two wonderful books on their time together, one of which became a film called Iris. 

And now I go to the copy shop...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Indirectly Yours

Filmed in 1989 by Rocky Schenck. Some of it was filmed indoors, as you can see at the beginning, by the majority was filmed in Bakersfield with me sitting on the back of a flatbed truck driving around the outskirts of town. It was a little mind bending for me as I'd grown up, for a time, about 30 miles north of there in Delano. 

Rocky was wonderful and did a beautiful job on it and the look is still rather timeless, and hard to tell what era it hails from. 

At the time, the hope was, that Rocky would make the film to this song and that a second song was to have a video as well. 

I was trying to talk my record company Rhino in to giving me money to make a video for the song What's Wrong With Me with a young cool Brooklyn based film-maker I'd had several great conversations with and was a fan of his work. I lived in the Park Slope part of Brooklyn at the time, not far from him, we talked about life in that part of New York, our parents-his father was ailing, and our work. 

The film-maker sent Rhino, at their request, a film reel of what he'd done, which included a favorite of mine Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, acted out by Barbie dolls. Rhino later told me they'd watched his reel and found it to be too 'unpolished, amateur and unprofessional' and they weren't going to hire him, Todd Haynes to make my video. Too bad, he went on to make some great films like Safe, Velvet Goldmine and I'm Not There.

At any rate, this song here, Indirectly Yours was on my second album Naked Movie Star, recorded in Mid-town Manhattan and produced by Lenny Kaye.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Times Of Floating

Have you ever noticed how much of our communication with people seems to happen in cars. A place where you are not as likely to be distracted by the computer, TV, cell phone(hopefully), doing-ness-like-dish-washing, etc.

Driving my son home from school today a discussion of his father arose. Primarily because I told him I was gonna have lunch with someone soon who's husband suddenly, unexpectedly passed away, and they had a few children, who, like Alexander, will now grow up without a father.

Alexander said this: "I can't really miss my dad because I didn't really have him as a dad. We don't miss floating around in space because we've never floated around in space. Maybe an astronaut misses floating around in space. But we don't miss it if we've never had it." 

Alexander doesn't remember him because his father, Paul Williams, began the descent into dementia when he was 2 1/2 years old. I told him before that, he was a very good father, who would walk him around in a sling (when he was a baby), feed him spaghetti dinners when I was at work,  and take him to the park. 

I can't say that I personally, remember anything from the age of two and a half. 

When I was three we lived in Manhattan Beach, CA on a sandy mound over looking some oil wells and smoke stacks of El Segundo. I thought they were amazing to look at. Sometimes the local kids and I would take cardboard boxes and sled down the sandy mound our houses were perched on to the street below. Eventually, I got in some big trouble with that.

We moved to Hermosa Beach by the time I was three. I remember losing my stuffed animal and crying and spelling the word STOP at every stop-sign. When I was five we moved to central California, a small town, Delano where my father began a job working as an administrator for the school system. Delano was surrounded by miles and miles of grape crops. 

Cesar Chavez founded his National Farm Workers Association in Delano. Being a young kid I missed the whole hullabaloo happening right under my nose. Ours was a life of plastic kites, stealing loose change from parents dressers, learning how to ride a bike while standing up and putting a matchbook on the wheel so the cardboard would hit every spoke going round, making a bbbbbb noise. Every one was white skinned in this neighborhood. And I saw alot of the people inside the houses because I'd go door to door with my wagon selling dinosaur drawings for 5 cents a piece. Money for candy or turtles or goldfish. 

When I was five my mother moved away with my baby sister. Sometimes I'd live with my mother and grandmother but mostly I lived with my dad in Delano. I often wonder, now, as a mother, how could a mother move away from their child. But she did, so she could get a degree and teach and make a living and possibly divorce my dad. 

We never got to find out what her plan was, she died after an operation to remove cancer from her system, she never really 'woke-up'. 

The day before she went to the hospital she came to stay with me and my little sister (by now four years old), we were living at my dad's mothers house this school year. She was laying on her side on the living room couch watching us play. It was October a week or so before Halloween. I tried talking to her, asking her questions but my gramma kept telling me to "hush, leave her alone, she's not feeling well". She'd always been so busy, but here she was doing nothing staring at me. It was eerie. By the next morning she was gone. 

There was always something aloof and unapproachable about my mother. Beautiful and inward leaning. She'd spend hours pouring over her school books, underlining things of great importance. Shuffling through the multitudes of little cardboard squares with fabulous rocks glued to them. I wanted to be like that. 

I suppose, I knew what it was like to float in space. It was not a perfect thing. You still have to pee and stuff. Maybe really I only had a taste of it a few times, unlike other astronauts that went up all the time. But I knew I liked space and I missed it when it wasn't there. 

Sometimes when I was with my father I'd think "gee I wish I was with my mother" and when I was with my mother I'd think "why is it that when I'm with my mother I wish I was with my father and when I'm with my father I wish I was with my mother" I never actually connected it up to think 'why aren't they together anymore', that was some kinda advanced thinking. 

After she died I made up the idea that she'd succumbed to Valley Fever while digging up very ancient Indian bones as an anthropologist, (I'd just watched a show on Dr Leakey). I really believed it. For several years in fact. 

I think I was fortunate to have had that little taste of having a mother (later I had a step mother that adopted me and my sister, but that's another story). Knowing what it was like to have her bathe me and tell me how skin gets sloughed off every 7 years like a snake. Or take me to The Pike at night in Long Beach. Or buy me encyclopedia's at Lucky's Grocery one book at a time (within which I found my beloved Chesley Bonestell's  astronomical art). Or lose me in the snow for an hour in the woods and I navigating on my own-found my way back to her and the rangers. Or pull me back in the car when I opened the car door while moving and she grabbing my arm, saving me from certain peril. Or making me the prettiest dress ever, one that they later had to sneak out of the closet for fear of my great upset. 

At least I had those times. Those imperfect times, of floating in space. 

All there is left of my mother are about four photos, this one below, being one of them. My son Alexander however, someday, will browse through his fathers books, he having written more than 30 of them...and get to know what it's like to float in space, maybe just a little bit. 

A little better rendering of the photograph. My mother was modeling at Haggerty's on Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles at the time. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Kite

The Kite was "filmed" end of last year on PhotoBooth on my MacBook. We had a day at the beach last Thanksgiving vacation and I made up a little story. There was to be more, a mean grandma, but the time for filming slipped away then we were into the holiday and then Paul in the hospital and the kids outgrew these clothes. 

Flying to NYC last March I dumped all the PhotoBooth film pieces into iMovie and finally got around to assembling and editing them. Then found bits and pieces of music notes I'd made to myself as a musical garland to the visuals. The music that starts the film and ends it, was the music I continually heard in my head during the filming.

Footage at Moonlight Beach (before they finished the construction) was with Guthry and Renata Hahm and my son Alexander. 

So let this be a little gift of appreciation to you readers, and commenters (!) as we've just gone over the one hundred thousand views mark. 

And in particular a very special thank you to you followers that have encouraged my work, that have kept the faith, with your donations to the new album.