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Wrapped In Old Sheets, Waiting

May 7th, 2013

Wrapped In Old Sheets, Waiting

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Was that a wink and then the piano began playing an old gospel blues song from so long ago, so far in my past and down a lonely dirt road in a place where sour weed we chewed and the cicada sang in the shadows of hibiscus and flowering myrtle.
Melodies blossomed in the humid Carolina night and then blew through the screens of someone’s, somewhere back porch resting place, where a newly stained battleship gray pine board porch graced a seaside home within this heart burning memories deep beneath my soul of a past now gone where innocence from another time remained lost.
It was almost like I was somewhere, maybe here before, but alone, without pretentions.
Looking,
Looking,
Knowing that she was near and hoping that this time I had arrived in destiny, on point and with a spirit willing,
But the music still played and everyone in this moment still danced.
Like the heartbeat that kept Ms. Holiday on stage, her morphine holding her slender body draped in black, steady but slurred,
Tonight was a mystery to those who went down to the river to pray leaving past sins in waters washed towards God’s sea seeking salvation promised by the pounding fist of our pastor and cleansing souls from sin committed just today,
Or the night before.
1920 was the year and that pimp banged out tunes on ivory from some place in the sunrise which lifted crushed hearts of lovers soon one and then abandoned in this nightly ritual.
Now when was least expected silence drifted past the wide yawning birth in life’s harbor releasing savage thoughts and horrid memories from the past which melted dark moonless nights where a thousand searing white stars fell from heaven in silence.
Tonight like every night the whiskey poured freely on Duval Street and we watched as he-she’s pranced by outside, hoping some unexpected soul might mistake their nightmare concealed in obscurity and dime store face paint, as something of beauty.
Private cues held in chalked hands, razors in socks for safety, we bonded within the darkness of our souls and the history of our ancestors long forgotten and turned centuries before into dust.
Vigilance was our soul mate and we held our families close, tight and in guilt huddled in that one room roach infested shotgun staged shack called home.
Hungry when work was short and alone for those who mates and children had left in frustration or through death they sat, staring at the stars in the sky asking God to spare each soul the pain taking them from this place into a dreamland filled with honey and promise, safety and opportunity.
A place where the waters of the spirit cleanse minds and wash all that is evil into ditches of mud drying beneath the hot bright golden light of July.
“Can’t you see the water” she asked as I pulled her from the fires of hell? “Can’t you see the windows and His people asking for me to stand up and come?”

Dimes to Dollars

January 8th, 2013

Dimes to Dollars

Dimes to Dollars Detroit! (To be read fast in a rap type cadence)
Entire planets collapsing and combusting in time as inhabitants fly through the darkness we once referred to as a cosmos.
Brass bellows jazz fusion as bamboo quivers in octave squeals of passion and anger, like this cities lonely streets, tonight and every night. Junked, plunked strings wrenched and bent in tension scream long loud and sharp, bleeding in sorrow, erupting into a crescendo igniting a cacophony of life in this city, then drops with sounds sinking slowly, ever so softly beneath a sturdy smooth rhythm, ethereal in a sense but aware of those things which lurk in the night.
This is Detroit, a once was but now lost in despair wasteland. Trampled under greed and social engineering, a city where few who gave and the ones who took parted ways. Where laws preached by political thieves invested in life’s dead ends, leached upon he who struggled, taking and feeding a city of sluggards. Burned out cars, abandoned children and bodies dumped, in empty streets, dark alleys and open fields, a city rotting and abandoned.
Glass, steel, concrete, axils, engines and generations of proud workers, once noticed and revered now looked down upon, ignored, pushed back in the shadows of ruin and abandonment,
Where ceramic pipes charred black, works bent or busted and skunk scented blunts inhaled, transport youthful children of this workers proud past and hard fought respect into toxic dreams of riddled destruction, lost hope and lives with no substance, desires or future.
Big D, a King Kong from decades past, city of design and innovation, creator of Motown mastery and automotive excellence, no longer, no more, now sits a puddle wasteland unseen, unfit and unwanted even by those who once intoxicated with power and arrogance crowed at the world of their dominance, now resides in dark ashes of success no more.
Triple down, was what was heard, as bets were placed in times of glory, chances taken and fortunes made, wealth pulled from hoods where asbestos shingled factory houses lined every pot holed street and the lives of a few changed through raw perseverance and backbreaking determination, struggling, fighting and ever seeking that mythical American Dream, the Red, White and Blue of accomplishment and the discovery of personal potential deep within to expose, if lucky, if in the right place, a path where open doors and talent offered an escape.
Little by little, time after time, rules changed, lost pride glistened of mediocrity, wages now sucked up by unions who threatened destruction took treasures from those who had trusted and walked away fat.
Detroit, a boomtown Motown city, full of dreams, built on hope, spirit and substance, driven into the dirt by unions and political pimps who sucked the marrow from its bones and moved on.
A city, maybe like a country, where masses followed false hope and citizens in blindness failed to see the deception, broken promises and lies because they became truths. A place like any other place that took the obvious and turned it in to what they wished, only to discover that they too had been listening to the horns cacophony, and not waiting for the sturdy smooth rhythm to follow that those few had seen.
JJ 8.4.12

Savannahs Time

January 8th, 2013

Savannahs Time

LAST DANCE
New Orleans.
Hot and wet.
Warm sulphur filled breezes from some distant small town paper mill,
Blew through cracked slats in time,
Long past life’s faded worn gray shutters.

It was our last night,
The last place life mattered to me, anyway.
It was Savannah's time.

And she had slayed another dragon’s heart,
Confident,
That nothing would breach the dark chasms cast between broken souls,
Where hearts crushed in silence,
Simply surrender to the inevitable.

One hers,
The other mine,
It was our last dance……….

Mysterious, enchanting and lonely her past thrown upon ancient seas,
Where vapors stale,
Rise upon winds existing, no longer.

It’s was Savannah’s time,
My final memory sealed for eternity,
Her soft sun bronzed skin which smelled of confederate jasmine young in summer,
Permeated the aired sounds spilled upon this night in the Old Square.

Outside the massive arched window,
Overlooking this decadent city of sadness, love, sounds and sorrows,
A single leaf twisted,
Whipped in the breeze of the pre-dawn light,
Soon lost to a summers past glow.

Long weathered grey shutters,
Sealed for centuries,
Towered beside this ancient southern monument to a glorious past,
Rattling.
As trade winds blew in gusts through the narrow breezeway,
Sweeping last moments,
Quickly,
Down the allies and lonely streets of time now surrendered.

Tavern hags,
Whose muted shouts echoed in the near distance,
Stumble down ancient stone allies,
Their voices in laughter muffled,
Seeking home,
In an evening,
Now lost to the sweat of another dawn.

Then turning,
As I sat upon the massive four post Victorian bed watching as she dressed,
Her white cotton shift tightly draped, clinging, caressing her body in the humid tropical air,
She stood.
Transfixed and motionless in front of the floor to ceiling mirror leaning against the charred rose colored fireplace,
The new dawn lightly glowing through the transom illuminating her hair, radiant in its softened light.
For a moment she paused, searching in absence of thought as an actor might, having momentarily misplaced a staged point during a performance,
Still,
She turned motionless peering at my image painted in mirrored reflection.
Her eyes sultry,
In the broken light, appearing as polished stones of light grey and lapis blue,
Searing my soul,
A smile now faded,
Her stare fixed,
Seemed to pray that new memories had never existed,
And that they would vanish in the dew of the summer’s pre-dawn light.
Then turning my way,
She stood in silence,
Wishing she could be as I,
Once again.

It was time,
Ethereal dreams fading,
Hearts crushed in the weight of silence,
It was Savannah’s time,
Centuries long past,
She had travel these halls of another age,
In visions taken to whispered winds and points unknown.

It was our last kiss,
Our last night,
Our last dance.

Do your memories hold the art you wish to see?

July 30th, 2012

BEACH MUSIC
We were living in Washington DC in the summer of 1962 where my father, after returning from the Second World War and Korea began working as a cryptographer at Fort Mead for the National Security Agency.

It was the start of the cold war era and the beginning of tensions between the East and West as the Soviets pounded their chest in defiance and sought to conquer the world. It was also the start of a relationship between Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, who held the US in fear with statements like “We will bury your dead” and “Your survivors will envy those who have perished” as he shipped nuclear missiles in the dark of the night to Castro’s small island 90 miles south of Miami.

Tensions were extremely high and my father, upon learning from the intelligence community that Washington DC was likely going to be ground zero of a nuclear attack, packed up my mother, brother, cocker spaniel named Big Boy and me sending us to Myrtle Beach South Carolina. A small beach resort on the northeast coast of South Carolina where a few years earlier they had purchased a small, faded white and grey, two bedroom cottage sitting on cinderblock footings with a screened front porch, sandspurs the size of marbles, beaver tail cactus at every step and sidewalks made from warped, nail exposed, pine boards which lead to the road and beach.

A place where dreams were born and where this 8 year old believed he had discovered a door into the adventure of a lifetime.

Where old white and grey beach houses rested along the windblown sands of time and day after day, crystal blue skies welcomed the warmth of an early fall sun. Where walks along beautiful sands and dark blue waters with sunsets of orange, yellow and red welcomed billowy white clouds that darkened upon reaching the shore welcoming blowing hot winds that whistled through the front porch screens. Where we watched dark purple and black storms growl and swirl in the distance, rattling the weather beaten wooden windows in this pre WWII cottage signaling a late summer rain and the closure of another day.

Where cottages over the decades had blistered in the heat causing their pine and cypress sidings whitewashed decade after decade to peal in an array of muted colors from the salty humidity and intense southern sun of summer. Where the smell of tanning lotion, flounder being fried for supper and low country marshes blossomed in the breeze and the rumble of stock cars racing on an old dirt horse track near what we called the “Hill”, filled the air.

This was the south few people know, a romantic past buried deep within my heart with scents and sounds still treasured today in memories I call, “Beach Music”.

I Am

July 30th, 2012

I Am

I am Edgar Allen Poe, Jackson Pollack, Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald all rolled into one superb Cuban cigar. A bit short of a disaster and on the presapus of destruction, I feel Gods presence in all that I do, and seek to unearth salvation as I reach into the emptiness of this space. I’ve traveled, suffered, anguished in loneliness and screamed in silence as my heart was crushed in the depths of my soul. I have longed for love, spent years acting as though sexual prowess was the solution and discovered that what life gives, it also takes in blood. I’ve been clueless, insightful, talented, brilliant and ignorant, yet I’ve never been completely resolved in understanding true peace. I’ve seen and held death, whispered passionate words, wished I was somewhere else and closed my eyes to another’s suffering. I ‘m a man and father, a brother and son and artist, cold in times of need, and good when salvation asks that I journey that extra mile for Him. I’ve been sad and patient, caring and afraid, blind when I should have seen and ever seeking forgiveness. I’m a creature of my Savior and never good enough, I’m always searching for salvation and burying myself beneath my sins. I am……..

Telluride Summer

July 30th, 2012

Telluride Summer

LIFE

If you wake to find yourself, good luck.
If life never seems to change, you probably slept through the feature.
If you find yourself in life’s passions, hold on and reach for the stars.
If you discover life’s journey, pray and ask for Gods guidance.
If life becomes a production, develop a character.
If life in this world ends to soon, relax, there's still eternity.
If life is your oyster, drink in the spirit of celebration.
If life is your purpose, make sure you carry forward with the journey.
If life takes forever, enjoy the ride.
If life is a celebration, invite those who have no life to ride along.
If life is a gift, thank God for each moment and savor your senses.
If life is just life, stop speaking and listen, to that small voice inside as it teaches you wisdom.
For wisdom is the understanding which Gods love brings ones heart, and the gift of life that lights each mans soul.
Now is the moment to build plans in Life before time passes and builds life for you.

Beach Music

July 27th, 2012

Beach Music

BEACH MUSIC
We were living in Washington DC in the summer of 1962 where my father, after returning from the Second World War and Korea began working as a cryptographer at Fort Mead for the National Security Agency.
It was the start of the cold war era and the beginning of tensions between the East and West as the soviets pounded their chest in defiance and sought to conquer the world. It was also the start of a relationship between Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro and the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev who held the US in fear with statements like “We will bury your dead” and “Your survivors will envy the dead” as he shipped nuclear missiles to Castro’s small island 90 miles south of Miami.
Tensions were extremely high and my father, upon learning from the intelligence community that Washington DC was most likely going to be ground zero of a nuclear attack, packed up my mother, brother, cocker spaniel named Big Boy and me sending us to Myrtle Beach South Carolina. A small beach resort on the northeast coast of South Carolina where a few years earlier they had purchased a small, faded white and grey, two bedroom cottage sitting on cinderblock footings with a screened front porch, sandspurs the size of marbles, beaver tail cactus at every step and sidewalks made from warped, nail exposed, pine boards which lead to the road and beach.
A place where dreams were born and where this 8 year old believed he had discovered a door into the adventure of a lifetime.
Where old white and grey beach houses rested along the windblown sands of time and day after day, crystal blue skies welcomed the warmth of an early fall sun. Where walks along beautiful sands and dark blue waters with sunsets of orange, yellow and red welcomed billowy white clouds that darkened upon reaching the shore welcoming blowing hot winds that whistled through the front porch screens. Where we watched dark purple and black storm clouds growl and swirl in the distance, rattling the weather beaten wooden windows in this pre WWII cottage signaling the a late summer rain and the closure of another day.
Where cottages over the decades had blistered in the heat causing their pine and cypress sidings whitewashed decade after decade to peal in an array of muted colors from the salty humidity and intense southern sun of summer. Where the smell of tanning lotion, flounder being fried for supper and low country marshes blossomed in the breeze and the rumble of stock cars racing on an old dirt horse track near what we called the “Hill”, filled the air. This was the south few people know, a romantic past buried deep within my heart with scents and sounds still treasured today in memories I call, “Beach Music”.

Fallen

July 27th, 2012

Fallen

Fallen
If a man lost compassion,
He soon loses heart
And if he has no heart,
His soul ventures too.
For beyond broken fences unto darkened fields,
His spirit soon leaves and truth is revealed,
This man who sought riches and dragons did slay,
Now falls into deep pits concealed in the day,
Where gnashing of teeth and thirst is unquenched,
His cavern of sadness a life once misspent.
He begs for forgiveness and screams in true fear,
As chamber doors seal tight and brass locks adhere.
The deep dust and grey soot somewhere from his past,
Flow dark streams of lost deeds, false covenants cast.
Uncovered tin schillings without worth he seeks,
His soul’s lost salvation and body now weak,
And disarmed dark spirits are cast into vats,
Which take in the present to seal out his past.
And once again steel gates pushed heavy and strong
Bury those dark souls below Satan’s throne.
This pit which we spoke of is oh yes so real,
And once life’s great doors close,
His sins will be sealed
JJ 7.21.12

Up From Under

July 6th, 2012

Up From Under

Relief hitting the surface. Breathing once again!!! Big days seem to always try to keep u down, and in a flash the fear is lifted. Lesson learned!

White Rabbit from the 60 to Today

December 20th, 2011

White Rabbit from the 60 to Today

WHITE RABBIT

In 1968, I was 16 years old and The Summer of Love was well under way, the new generation had thrown off the rockabilly yelps of the early part of the decade and the blue Swede shoes and white bucks made famous by Elves Presley and Pat Boone dissolved into a short life and a footnote in history.
The sounds were electric and tense, wild and untamed and the majority, including the friends I would “Hang With,” were listening to the music of Jimi Hendrix, The Cream , Santana, Traffic, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Animals, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, Deep Purple, The Who and anything that screamed, “We are, a new generation who will change the stale antiquated ideas of this stuffy world into something our parents could never fathom” and they most certainly, did!
It was during this time growing up in a southern Carolina beach resort where the official state dance was the SHAG, and stock cars were considered red neck yet beautiful, where a case of beer in the back seat with no more than two open containers was legal and where I developed a passion that controlled my every waking moment for the next 20 years. It was 1968, the summer was hot, James Brown could be heard each morning as you passed those old beachside hotel kitchens where black cooks prepared breakfast for resort guests that ventured from there upcountry estate down to the strand for two weeks when the mills closed and where boys like myself, not yet in there teens, yelled as they walked down the center of the street outside those grand historical boarding houses of another age “Charlotte Observer, Morning Paper” on their paper route, hoping someone in one of the many screened porch beach houses on Ocean Boulevard would holler down, “Come here boy” and they’d give you a dime for your paper.
This passion, this one amazing thing I couldn’t stop thinking about, which took me too far off places into nature as a part of its creation and set me upon gossamer wings to conquer the universe, which lifted me at 12 years old far beyond those southern beaches and nights at the pavilion into a world of celebrity was introduced to me by my best friend and hero at the time, Keith Thompson and is something, I have carried with me, in my soul and bones that construct my frame until this very moment, Surfing.
As I grew into my teens during the much talked about drug culture, listening to the music that defined a generation and experimentation with any and everything that was given to you or you had learned about through friends seemed acceptable. It was then, when we were vaulted on those warm, humid windswept weekends to the sounds which filled the air as we cruised by our usual 7/11 and one of us would, under our coat, smuggle a bottle of Bali High or Ripple from the cooler, that we would then head straight to one of the many local nightclubs searching for rock n roll and someone we could love for the rest of our lives.
Easy Rider, The Graduate, Barbara Ella, The Pink Panther, Endless Summer and all of the Bond movies were the rage at the drive-ins during that time where we would scape up enough money to purchase a ticket or two for our driver and his girlfriend as six of us would stuff ourselves into the trunk, kicking each other and occasionally passing gas in hopes of choking any survivors that hadn’t been kicked in the head, always anticipating free surf films or that special feature flashing on the marquee.
Surfing was our life. A culture, a bond, a fraternity sanctified in blood, a family of young men who sought more out of life than any other sport could pull from ones soul, where each day was a competition and being the one to go beyond the edge of our space whether in the water or during those long party filled nights was expected if you wanted to belong. As we traveled from one contest and beach break to another, always looking for that “Endless Summer’s” perfect wave, winning contests and proving that the Carolina’s did have surfers who could rip apart any swell that made its way to our coast. We surfed for surfboard companies and local shops that sold boards like Gordon and Smith, Hobie, Weber and Surfboards Hawaii and lived a lifestyle that surrounded the new, and at the time thought to be a fad, which kept us pumped and in search of the next free board, all of the Hamburgers with fries we could eat, free t-shirts and baggies as well as the chance to meet and embrace all of those bikini clad local girls who showed up on the beach looking for the next East Coast Champion or their date that night.

But I digress!
During that era there was a band from San Francisco whose female singer by the name of Grace Slick (yes she was hot) could melt ones heart (in an Acid Rock sense) as she sang, in a raspy voice, about mystical adventures with undertones of drug laden excursions that only those in the sub-culture’s of the late 60’s could relate. Songs that spoke of fantasy, imagination and knowledge, specifically directed towards anyone who wanted to, as we would say, “turn on and tune out” there music offered the opportunity (especially if you were seeing images that you would swear were real, of melting faces, musical notes streaming from juke boxes as songs played, or rain drops which as they fell on a window would turn into glowing worms that vanished when reaching the sill) to lose yourself without ever taking one step.
Once such ballad by this group, Jefferson Airplane, revolved around a mystical character named Alice from , “Alice in the Looking Glass” (we had all heard that Lewis Carroll experimented with drugs as had Edgar Allen Poe and even Disney) who ventured beneath the earth into a make believe world where hookah smoking caterpillars sat atop amanita mascara mushrooms and where magical rabbits shout nonsensical questions at anyone, ever attempting to discover what time it was or if he were late for a very important date, where royalty was comprised of a deck of cards and where fantasy exponentially grows yet never ends.
A magical song with lyrics that anyone from that untamed generation could relate and where screams resounding from each metal string sent acid filled minds into macabre tremors, where lights burned down upon performers in unorthodox costumes providing those watching with a spectacle never before experienced. It was true acid rock, fantasy driven, heart pounding love, with sounds that created emotional eruptions within indescribable sensations beneath the radar of a generation from which we had evolved and never deciphered by any disciplinary figures in our lives at the time. It was a code, a journey, a reason for what we were doing and and pulled from the roots of our misguided youth, whether good or bad, a reason for whom we were at that moment with justification for what we were doing.
WHITE RABBIT embodies all of the things I have referenced plus the introduction of my children into the mix. All three beautiful, all three gifted and all three musicians who appreciate everything from Death Metal to classical rock, techno to Jazz, all three who understand that in life the choices one makes have consequences, all three have at one time or another influenced my paintings. When producing this piece last winter, I was dancing through an emotional and awakened process that included reconnecting with my youngest son after a rough divorce and seeing his incredible, yet under pursued talent as a guitarist and song writer. Like musicians in the 60’s or surfers who attempted to find life and it’s answers in waves, he as well as all members of a younger generation seem to think that they are the first to ask “that” question, the first to challenge beyond the norm and to ride that untouched wave of new found knowledge that will open the door to answers always sought but never solved. They know more, they know better and they know for certain that their generation will discover a new and evolutionary change in humanity that their contemporaries missed which elevates them into a place that no one had ever been. A place that, once seen as clouds break, where God and only God allows us to be, a world that has everything to offer and where if one reaches for the notes of music they dream about they will discover that it is only LOVE, that in the end matters.

 

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