February 16, 2004


Gathering up the pieces, trying to lay them back down again so the edges fit together as neatly as possible, to create a smooth trail for travel. This was the image that made me catch my breath when Gary Snyder read at Cody's Wednesday night. Small publisher Shoemaker & Hoard has just re-released two of Snyder's books, Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems and Practice of the Wild, so he shared selections from those older works as well as two new unpublished poems, one about his mother and another entitled "A Thousand Cranes". That last one in particular resonated powerfully with me as I recalled both Melanie's illness and the small army of cranes I folded on Christmas day as a ritual of healing for my own heart.

After the reading I came home and watched The Gift. Between Sam Raimi's direction and Cate Blanchett's performance I enjoyed it immensely, though some might question the wisdom of a single girl with an overactive imagination watching a ghost story home alone at night. Cate is probably my favorite actress in the world right now, and people who snark about her playing Galadriel can bite me.

My DVD the following night was Criterion's collection of 6 short films featuring W.C. Fields. His particular brand of misanthropic slapstick doesn't always appeal to me, but he does all right in short-format. I liked "The Fatal Glass of Beer" for its sheer randomness, fake snow, and hordes of caribou. These films are perhaps better enjoyed singly instead of all in one sitting.

Saturday morning I took advantage of the temporarily gorgeous weather and went for a stroll through the Haight. The group Reclaim the Streets was staging exactly the sort of reclamation their name implies, but I'm afraid I remained a strict observer. Participants were attired as pirates of love and danced their way down Haight with a stern police escort. Me, I ducked into Giant Robot and did some ill-advised retail therapy instead.

From there I made my way into the Mission to check out the exhibits at Jack Hanley Gallery. Jack Hanley is divided into two individual storefronts, and the first one I went into housed Kal Spelletich's show. Best known for the large-scale destruction he practices with the SEEMEN, Spelletich here had taken a number of small suitcases and installed wee machines inside them for the visitor to interact with. Bicycle chains and grease aplenty but little evidence of spurting flame. I had a lot of fun gingerly pressing buttons and trying to figure out how each mechanism worked and praying nothing would take off a finger.

Kevin Christy's Pyramid Scam show was next door, a series of collage-like drawings of the type that seem to take outsider art and notebook doodlings as their inspiration. In one piece a couple's kiss is obscured by the alien plant life sprouting up directly in front of them. In another a waterfall runs down the side of a mountain and directly into the mouth of a man lying at the bottom of the picture. I like to imagine the alternate universe in Christy's head that these images signify.

That evening I passed the time eating meriko's lovingly-prepared food and laughing with friends, which is all a person needs sometimes. And who would have ever dreamed that we'd be happily toasting Gavin Newsom this weekend.


Gary Snyder
Cody's Books
W.C. Fields: Six Short Films
Reclaim the Streets
Kevin Christy
Jack Hanley Gallery

Posted by nightfall at February 16, 2004 09:26 PM