the “village building convergence” is taking place in Portland this week and i only yesterday paddled into the stream of it.  for anyone who reads this and does not know what it is (www.cityrepair.org), the village building convergence is a ten day run of seminars and collaboration of people reclaiming community, seizing up earth and trade to work on building community, physical, house, body, mind, and noble spirit in a natural wise way.  i know that may sound a little vague, but it is a broad endeavor, this thing, originally sponsored (seven years ago) by the city repair office of portland… a lot of information is available on the above listed website.  people come from all over the world to take part in VBC and then return to their homes with its spirit and message.  as far as the building trades, there are normally twelve or more sites all over portland where builders are practicing natural building techniques, like cob, light straw clay, straw bale, natural stone work, etc.  and people cycle around helping the cite leaders develop these little community strengthening projects, which range from intersection repair, decoration, redefinition to tea houses and saunas and community centers.  during this time, there is a gathering every evening where all of the participants come to eat and then attend a seminar or lecture usually.  the reason i am writing this is because last night i saw a man named Paul Stamets speak.  it was probably the most inspiring public speech i have ever seen.  mr. stamets has been studying fungi ever since he began noticing mycological colonies in the forests during the short time he was in the forestry profession, or deforestry profession.  he is like one of the world’s premier authorities on mushrooms, fungi.  and like many visionaries, he IS a little “out there.”  that is not to say there is anything lacking in his theories or research; no, on the contrary, he is a rigorous scientist whose path lies in a direction of wholesome health and sustainable continuation of life on planet earth.  i am not going to go into an entire summary of his talk, because one can get his book, which i am going to imminently (“mycelium running” among a number of others), as well as check out the abundance of information on his website, www.fungi.com.  i will say that as the talk progressed i realized more and more fully that this man has a mind like god, the order of magnitude of his studies and their implication is of the highest scientific echelon.  he has several u.s. patents for growth and application of fungi on different catastrophia (as he calls some of our problems).  one of them is inoculation of hazardous waste sites, where he has developed a method of spreading spores of oyster mushrooms on soil saturated with oil or many other kinds of grave environmental hazards and the mushrooms metabolize the toxins, break them down, turn them into carbohydrates, completely clean the soil and damage done, and grow into perfectly delicious edible fungi!  this is no sham: he has patents and this technology is basically FREE and it’s fucking amazing.  the other example he gave was this ingenious inoculation of a crosscut (somewhat dormant fungus sample) and basically a mask of fungus on rice (which the mycelium begin to eat) and then put out for carpenter ants in a couple of places in the home, and within a very short time, the ants have spread the rice throughout the house, eaten it, become completely encased in these microscopic (undetectable to them) mycelia, mummified as it were, and tiny mushrooms sprout up through their stiff and dead bodies.  complete arrest of their destruction upon the house!  he has been totally shut down by pesticide companies, black listed and threatened because his technique would make treatment of this otherwise costly and ineffective (not to mention totally chemically noxious) process cost about fifty cents.  fifty cents to rid a whole house of carpenter ants.  this man needs our protection.  i may go see what’s involved here.  for the time being, read his book and learn more about the amazing kingdom of fungi!


this day half way through may–the ides of may–(i’m on a train traveling north from san diego to los angeles), and one of those incredible pregnant moments has just started drawing out like a knife through the hour, or: more precisely moment after moment, sharp and contiguous like the edge of a sword cutting air, switching and… i think i may have used almost every article of punctuation there, except for perhaps: ; that.

in any case, i’ve been on a bit of a walkabout or more exactly described, a driveabout, of really quite a lot of california. i delivered a large table to berkeley and from there went out to the waterless regions of cuyama and new cuyama (the maricopa desert), and then out to l.a. and eventually to san diego. i began reading the wonderful book by j.d. salinger, “raise high the roofbeam, carpenters,” and “seymour an introduction.” these stories by this mysterious american giant of literature are such wonderful iceburgs of literature in the middle of an ever rapidly becoming stormy sea of mediocrity (?)–well, really i just feel lucky to have made it coincide with little paragraph of my life. why?…

i will paraphrase:
the beginning (of “raise high the roofbeam, carpenters”) details a scene from the youth of the author and his now deceased brother, seymour, in which they are given the company of their baby sister one night when she is put to bed with them so as to resist the infirmity that is passing through the rest of the family and, as is common with infants, begins to cry at some point in the middle of the night. the narrator, buddy, suggests to seymour some milk for the younger sister and seymour (always the wiser) divines the cause of affliction in the baby to be somewhere more metaphysical than appetite (this “paraphrasal” really is no shorter than a direct quote of this passage, but bear with me, it’s good for my brain)… so he figures on reading something to the child and so picks a story from a taoist text about duke Mu of Chin and his horse expert, Po Lo. the former (this story goes) beckons Po Lo for want of a new horse expert, as he knows that Po Lo will not be with him for long and it will be incumbent for his dukedom to find a master of the horse arts who can identify a “superlative” animal the way Po Lo can. Po Lo says that his sons can identify a “good” horse, but are not yet able to discover a horse’s more metaphysical and superlative attributes. he says he knows a man: Chiu-fang Kao, who is his (Po Lo’s) equal in all things horse. so the duke summons this man and requests a superlative horse animal be found and so this man, Chiu-fang Kao sallies out. Word is sent, some time later, that he has found the duke’s animal, a dun colored mare; several days later the horse shows up and, to the duke’s surprise, the horse is a black stallion! duke Mu of Chin summons Po Lo and tells him what a disaster this is, that his new horse whisperer is a joke!, he has confounded the simplest of attributes of the new horse in search of the superlative creature. Po Lo listens to this account and exclaims that Chiu-fang Kao, to the contrary, has surpassed even his abilities at seeing into the nature of a creature and now can look so deeply into the essential as to become oblivious to the superficial qualities of the horse (sex and color) and that the duke now has a real horse whiz on his hands. and the little narrative ends, saying that the horse truly was a superlative animal. (and i will rush to say once more that i am paraphrasing a passage from the very beginning of “raise high the roofbeam, carpenters” by j.d. salinger)… the little point of this quotation being that the narrator, since the passing of his beloved brother, cannot think of anyone better (in the precious matter of this horseology) to send in his stead.

so a great work of art begins: a chasm in one’s life that cannot be filled.

these words tumbling around in my head, riding the romantic rail medium up the southern coast of california WHICH, despite a lot of seemingly anaesthetized individuals who seem to pass an eternity at the beach, has a very literary quality to it. i don’t know quite what it is: perhaps it’s all the oxygen in this marine rich air; or little particles of extremely rich vegetal matter born on the air off the great womb, the sea. in any case, i’m with my sister and we’re talking and discussing deep things and dozing on and off and also enjoying this beautiful scenery and the train comes to a mellow standstill just north of disneyland. there’s some chatter on the intercom that passes un-interpreted, perhaps because we’re talking, and a few minutes later a portly woman comes by and says something to the effect of this: (mind you, i have no idea who this woman is):

“i can’t believe this… did you hear that? some guy just jumped out into the middle of the tracks and committed suicide. did you hear that on the announcement? god! i don’t have time for this, i have a barbeque to get to!”

i don’t know if that comes across clearly or not, but the import of what she said is that a guy jumped in front of the train and she’s (very publicly) dismayed because she’s missing a barbeque. (we’re still stopped on the tracks here and cops and BNSF dudes are swirling around the train) it appears as though this story holds water: if you really want to know, you could probably look it up on the news… i don’t imagine i’ll do any real work to verify this account and then re-post its truth on the blog here; my main concern is the attitude of this woman late for the barbeque… really almost more than i’m concerned about the man who died quickly by the swift blow of the giant steel shark of this train. because, in so saying, she placed herself in front of the train. and then where are we? i looked at her and her voice (its tone, its timbre, its import) crept through the train, this serpent of slow eyes, and i could tell her manner was infectious. (a couple asked the conductor, as she passed, whether they could go look at the man–conductor’s reply: “that a little morbid, isn’t it?–twain like in its concision, and one of the couple responding, “i work in the ER, i’ve seen a lot worse…) “oh, god!” i think to myself, these are the people who answer a phone, plug in an i.v. drip, rush to the scene of a crime, drive an ambulance, deliver our children and bake our bread, etc., etc., and this suicide, for crying out loud, is a thorn in their schedule, an inconvenience for their afternoon plans. where are we now!? i shook in my shoes for my well being, i am shaking. whom do i send in my stead here?

we are all in front of this train.


i watched the film “hollywood land” last night.  mostly a propos of the terrible superman curse.  a man just never really knows how good he’s got it until that final moment.  anyway, the film has an excellent smoking scene, in fact it treats the problem of cigarettes in film very well, being partly ABOUT hollywood.  like at one point some people tell superman to put his cigarette out because “superman doesn’t smoke.”  in a film set in the 50’s, i believe this is an excellent anachronism… in a time when riders in the tour de france would stop at stage passes and smoke because they thought they were expanding their lungs!  so the scene of which i spoke is when this p.i. is real down and out (previously having declaimed smoking and demonstrating this throughout the movie by chewing gum), and frantically upturns his apartment we come to find out for… yes, a cigarette.  he pulls it out of this little tin container and SMOKES it.  his first drag on the thing is painful to watch; like, it’s totally obvious that he’s an addict and the cigarette might as well be a needle.  it’s just terrible.  so i appreciated hollywood finally making smoking look bad, in action, and in a self reflective way.

otherwise the film is not the most amazing thing.  i don’t recommend rushing out and spending your $2.79 at the video store on it.