Monday, March 24, 2014

Two Sketches from a Bungalow by the Sea

Koh Rong

From a cabin just west of paradise,
Where wine flows free, liquor freer,
And smoke, it clouds the air.
O how peaceful, how sensuous
The women dance the drunken way.
Romantic and astute, the conversation slurs.
The cocks the crows, the birds they cheep
Among the eucalyptus and the palm.
The fishing boats, they grind and putter.
This perfect native life, this retouched paradise.


Interlude in a Breaking Wave


First light and the grumble and slosh of the waves
Washing the sands with the breaking of days.
Some remaining footprints and some bleached bones
Of moments that roared, their echoes mumble.

Each wave changes the quality of light.
A memory brightens,
And another one changes tone or hue
In this the first light in the rumble of surf,
In the tumbling selves
As night washes back into sea.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

letter from Cambodia, #2

Phnom Penh:
Took a sardine can on wheels from Kompot in the south to Phnom Penh in the center of Cambodia. A remarkable drive full of striking images. I recorded 4 pages of notes about people, clothing, architecture, flora, commercial vehicles, and took a lot of video footage. Planning on constructing a video of moving and still images, sounds, text, and voice over, a follow up to the montage I'm writing of the first surreal days here.

What a drive. Traffic is insane. Whoa!

Checked into perhaps the most elegant hotel I've ever stayed in. Took some pix. Antiques in the halls, beautiful old lithographs in our room, and lovely teak furniture. A balcony stretching the length of 2 sides of our large room. Entrance to the room thru a large open exterior terrace. 12 rooms in the whole hotel.

We got settled, and set out for the Russian market, Cambodia’s version of Istanbul’s covered bazaar, tho the passages here are much narrower. Grabbed a bite to eat along the way, a fish omelette for me, a fish stew/soup for Cal, both very good, $3 total.

It was over 90, heat and humidity.  No doubt, it will be another 2-shower day.

Rested and read for an hr or so, then off to find the riverfront and street food, preferably grilled. Funny thing happened along the way. Passed so many interesting restaurants, all upscale. Phnom Penh is a foodie haven. Came to one, La Table Khmer with a sampler for 2 consisting of 2 raw spring rolls, 2 fried egg rolls, pumpkin soup, mango salad, pineapple beef, fish coconut curry,and chicken curry, plus dessert of the day (turned out to be a coconut, banana boba-noodle-like preparation; yow!). Cal was intrigued so we went for it! $18. Amazing; the interior really lovely, and a kitchen that they teach cooking classes in during the day. We photoed it all. So we went from street food to tres chic. Who'd a guessed?

We then continued on towards the river, made a wrong turn off one of the main, and most up-scale boulevards in the city, and 2 blocks later we saw a strange building that defies description. As we got closer it appeared to be an abandoned building, many blocks long, with walls collapsing out and vines or trees growing among the ruins. No. More bizarre than any movie set, it was the most squalid, horrifying 4-story tenement either of us had ever seen. You could look up into tiny decrepit rooms with no exterior front wall, and crumbling interior walls and see people lying in filth, or legs dangling out the front. Cal went up to look inside and a few men came up to confront him. They offered him drugs, then sex  with children. Seems it was one of the centers of child sex/slave trade in Cambodia! I shouted  'No!' when Cal wanted to go in and check the place out, and that generated a few course comments from the pimps. I expected knives to flash at any second. Cal reluctantly turned back. Remember, it had been dark for an hour or more already. We walked a narrow dark alley that fronted the tenement for about 3 blocks. It was lined with squalid shacks made of tin, rubble, and scrap lumber salvaged from the building behind. They were tiny, businesses mostly: sewing shops, vile restaurants, I can't remember what else. People working, eating. Prostitutes staring at us. We were both appalled and shaken. Cal conflicted, as well, about not going in. We turned around, still lost, walked a mile or more in the wrong direction from the river, thru thick crowds and snarled honking traffic, finally hailed a tuktuk who couldn't understand a word we said. Another tuktuk stopped; maybe he grasped where we wanted to go, maybe not. We couldn’t tell. Bargained the price, $2, got in, come what may. He was shitfaced drunk, jabbering non-stop, including an occasional English phrase, or so it seemed, but he got us to the river in a slow weaving motion. We walked the quay silently, trying to grasp the evening and what we saw. But we had/have no context. Dispirited. Everything looked ugly and stupid to me. Took a tuktuk home.

I worked on this email, while Cal wrote in his journal about the evening. There is lovely live Cambodian music drifting in the window from a chic club down the street. There are child sex slaves a mile down the road.

Cambodia.

So far from home.

Pix:
Russian market:



Tuktuk, shop, apartment:



Machine shop and young teenager:


La Table Khmer:


Sex-slave tenement, night:


Street food:


Dessert, a compote of fruit, boba-like noodles, condensed milk, who knows what else:


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

letter from Cambodia, #1

Kompot:
Today we woke after 8:30, our room so dark we had no idea the time (well, I was ignoring my clock). Headed out before 10 on our scooters and got back  about 2:30. In the mean we logged a good 100 klicks, including down roads that were 6 inches deep of dust, sand, rut and pothole, bikes slipping and swerving underneath us. Many other long stretches of road, gravel and dirt or gravel and tar. I had the troubling habit of turning the accelerator the wrong way, accelerating when i needed to slow down. Made for some hair raisers. Lunch at a village that had a certain neolithic feel. I hope my pix turn out. Remarkable place. Didn't really see the sights we were headed for, thanks to dreadful maps, our poor grasp of Khmer alphabet and vocab, no signage, and general confusion. Well, we didn't find the temple-caves, but drove thru pepper farms and the salt producing flats, and well, who knows what we were seeing, but it was entirely fascinating. Got absolutely roasted by the sun.

Back at the villa I spent an hour showering, trying to wash off the dust that was caked into every wrinkle and pore, and then wrote part, or maybe most of a short story that I outlined in the middle of my first night here. Will go well in my collection, Transmigrant Journals. Cal has been devowering Hemingway, writing tons, and doing great Hemingway imitations. Speaking of which, I am looking forward to watching Midnight in Paris, on Cal’s recommendation.


We grabbed some lunch in this rest stop, a plate of curry and a bowl of fish stew:


My bungalow on Koh Rong Island:


Out the front door of the bungalow:


Huts on Kompot River:


From the veranda of the Villa Vedici:


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My new website

Josh and Cal, my two sons and pillars of support, built a new website for me: www.steveberer.com. What an astonishing surprise. It is not fully populated, but in the next month we should be adding much more content, so check it regularly. It will supplant, over time, my long-enduring website www.shivvetee.com. Much more modern in look and feel, and more efficient in use, I think you'll really like navigating it as you explore my work.

Thanks Josh! Thanks Cal!

Here are a couple of images from the new site:
In the late 70's I rebound my worn, one volume paperback edition of Blake's Complete Works. I turned it into 2 volumes, with embossed leather spines and cover papers made from linoleum cuts put on a roller. You can see the roller system I designed, below:



 Here are a few rollers I cut, altho the Blake roller is not shown. It was much larger. I'd apply multiple colors (acrylic) to the roller, letting the pressure from rolling mix and spread the paint, creating a different effect with every roll:


Finally, here's Josh and me working with a group of students doing a little binding project. A small collection of pigments, art supplies, and tools is in the foreground:


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bill Sigler's comments about meta-English

If you have read any of my poetry, you know I am engaged in a project to transform the language into one that can facilitate a more accurate understanding and description of the world. Existing grammars not only constrain vision and understanding, they distort and tend to polarize reality. Thus my project.

It has had many names. It was first dubbed Stevespell by a friendly critic, at a time when the main thrust was to normalize English spelling. As it evolved and I began to focus on grammar and new modes of thinking and describing, I started calling it Stevetok. But more recently I am inclined to think of it as meta-English, and "standard" English as "old English."

Recently, as I began work on turning Bouk 3 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming into an ebook, I discovered that a couple of other authors had worked on the same underlying text, the Sumerian Nin-me-sar-ra text, that lies beneath my Bouk 3. One of those authors is Bill Sigler, who has written a notable re-translation.

We began a conversation, and I sent him links to my poem and some short essays on meta-English. What follows are some comments Bill made, which were very gratifying. I don't think anyone else has understood so clearly what I'm doing:

I appreciate the hat tip on your lucid yet wide-ranging linguistics pieces. The poetics are intriguing, the idealism familiar. ... Still, call me weird, but I think "Blak Fiyer on Jennettek Fiyer" explicates the whole thing so beautifully and perfectly, without trying to patiently shine the pearls in the swine's ass. Your essays call to mind a more sober Finnegan's Wake, but your poems are something else entirely, like those filters that turn music into pure sound and break up the hegemony of melody and harmony. In other words, because word meanings are so intangible, the implications need to enigmatized for the sake of the holy transportation away from mind into spirit through the word. Few have been called for such work, fewer are chosen. I for one honor that you've created and maintained this reality in the face of Blakean odds. It does not need more justification, in my view, only more time ( from me and others). I haven't had much chance to delve in much yet, but nothing I've seen yet would discourage that. I will get to it in my own way, and will undoubtedly report back. For now I'll just say the Sumerian tree of life is on the edges of our existence, waiting to be found...

Thanks Bill! You can find Bill's poetry and ideas at:
http://billsigler.blogspot.com/ and other sites (check his profile).
His translations of the Nin-me-sar-ra are at:
http://billsigler.blogspot.com/search?q=Nin-me-sar-ra

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Love note from the Eternal Jew

In this brief scene, the Eternal Jew is on a mission to deliver a message to a foreign king, and he is thinking about why he feels so much anxiety, since, in the past he usually enjoyed travel and its adventure. He realizes it because of his “new” wife, Butkoel, who he misses.

The first version is in Stevetok, metaEnglish, and following that, is an old English, that is, standard English version.

But now this sixtee or atee yeer
The fase a Butkoel an the voisen uv her;
Her tuchez, her smelz, the wayen her theenks...
Serten, ar boddee ar seprat shelz,
But the seel uv us, ware iz its ej?
Iz the shellen ar boddee the shellen ar seelz?
The rawhide thongz that choke uv my guts
Ar the sinnuez a me that groen intu her.
I rememberz seeyen a skechen a treez,
Tu2 a them, side by side,
Koyelz tugether, trunken a branch,
The leef a this az the leef a that,
An intu the erth ther rooten, too,
Bekum wun treez. Butkoel an me.


And translated into “old English” and into a more personal version:


But now these nearly 40 years
The face of Nancy and the voices of her;
Her touches, her smells, the way she thinks...
Certain, our bodies are separate shells,
But the soul of us, where is its edge?
Are the shells of our bodies the shells of our souls?
The rawhide thongs that choke my guts
Are the sinews of me that have grown into her.
I remember seeing a sketch of trees,
Two of them, side by side,
Coiled together, trunk and branch,
The leaf of this as the leaf of that,
An into the earth their roots, too,
Become one tree. Nancy and me.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A walk in the woods today

Took a hike in Rock Creek Park today, and this is some of what I saw:





These are the same as above, but filtered a bit:





Thursday, November 07, 2013

Outtakes from my latest ebook

Here are a few of my favorite outtakes, images I created while preparing my latest ebook, The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 2. They are mostly transformed panels from Assyrian bas reliefs.

1. From Ashur, an eagle headed being, possibly a protecting spirit:


2. Ashurbanipal, hunting:


3. Another eagle headed winged mangod from Ashur:


4.  Assyrian winged lion, depicting the battle between Marduk and Tiamat:


5.  Ancient Assyrian warriors and horses; I extracted the horses, and then doubled the number of them:


6. Assyrian slingers, attacking Lachish:


Friday, October 11, 2013

A few of my favorite things from Sicily, shopped-up a bit

Of the hundreds of photos I took, here are a few of my faves enhanced or otherwise modified. Enjoy! In some browsers, if you click on a pic, it will pop you into a slideshow with enlarged images.


Farmhouse, seen from the bus on the way to Catania. Quite distant, I had to blow it up and then enhance it.



Entrance to a courtyard off the Via Etnea, Catania. That's Nancy on the right.


Fish market, Catania.


Palermo. From the balcony of our apartment, as we imagined it. A more literal version can be found in my previous Sicily post.


Paul. Righteous indignation, or just pissed off? Oh, right; this was a statue at one of the entrances to the main cathedral of Palermo.


I love looking in workshops and little factories. This was a key-maker's shop, just down the street from our apartment in Palermo.


In my last Sicily post I showed the unshopped version of this, the entrance to the Capella Palatina. I like this version more! HA!


A screened doorway in the Capella Palatina.


Monreale, as it might be sketched or watercolored.


Sitting in our apartment eating dinner as the sun set, the sky outside was an ethereal blue. I tried to capture it. Well the unshopped pic was pretty dull, but this restores the impression fairly effectively.
Over and out...

Monday, October 07, 2013

4 versions of an image

I am requesting your help in deciding which of these 4 images is most appealing. I have numbered them, so please refer to the number you like the most, when responding. Thanx.

#1.


#2.



#3.


#4.

A few of my favorite things from Sicily, unshopped

I took hundreds of pics while in Sicily, a few of which are memorable, at least to me. Here a few of the few: street scenes, architecture, a person or two. Enjoy! In some browsers, if you click on a pic, it will pop you into a slideshow with enlarged images.


Notice how his left arm (to your right) is coming alive with color. Catania, off the Duomo square.


She was soliciting tourists for pocket change. Gave her a euro, then stole this. Catania.


Catania, Roman theater, entrance.


Marzipan. Pretty package inside and out.


Catania, walking from the Duomo to Fred 2's castle (Castello Ursino).


Catania. A patch of yellow.


Palermo. The Gesu, the church at the end of our street.


The Gesu from the Ballaro street market.


The texture and sheen of stone.


From our apartment window in Palermo, night.


Palermo kiosk.


Palermo, on the waterfront. A touch of color.


Palermo. Entrance to the Capella Palatina.


Inside the Capella.


From a catwalk on the roof of the cathedral at Monreale.


Turned a corner in an alley in Monreale, and this, at dusk.