Everything is going beautifully nowhere. James Broughton,
It’s been a good long while since I’ve made an entry into my blog site. In fact it was June 8th, after the ending of the political crisis here in Thailand. It’s time.
In late July I left for a six-week journey to the US, my home country. Much of my trip centered around seeing old friends. I was in Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, California, Seattle, Anacortes, and Port Townsend, Washington, Savannah Georgia and some obscure little place on the Georgia/Florida state line where I retrieved my dear old friend Lennie Kesl and toted him back to Savannah for three intense days. Lennie is approaching eighty-four, physically slowing a bit but mentally as sharp as a Rezeq tungsten needle. When I wrote in my film ‘ an afternoon of conversation with Lennie is like trying to have sex in a bee hive,’ I meant it. We stayed with our good friend Alvin Neely in his splendid home, The Baldwin House, a good martini toss from the Mercer House of the famed ‘Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil’ by John Berendt. Savannah is one of our oldest cities and remains one of the most livable and interesting. We took a joyful stroll down the main drag called Broughton Street.
Alvin and Lennie on Broughton Street, Savannah
And speaking of joy… the Broughtons of Savannah were related to the same line that produced the Wizard of Divine Madness, the late poet and filmmaker James Broughton. I met James in the late 70s on Alan Watt’s houseboat—a treasured memory of friendship and it lasted until James died in May of 1999…That’s not exactly true. The friendship remains as does his irrepressible spirit. In fact, there is a new and important film being created about James (Big Joy) Broughton, as I write. If you want to know more about this very important project with an amazing documentary at the end of it, go to: http://www.bigjoy.org/
Always remember who you are even if you remember nothing. James Broughton
I was able to get up to my old stomping grounds in Port Townsend, Washington but only for the briefest visit and continued on up to Anacortes to visit poet, essayist and translator Sam Hamill and his wife, Gray Foster, a painter from the Skagit. Sam’s contribution is a monumental gift to poetry and his creation of Poets Against the War remains a testament to the power of art in these troubled times.
Heading back to Seattle I stopped in La Conner, Washington and had the pleasure of seeing an important exhibition at the Museum of Northwest Art, curated by Kathleen Moles.
And, of course, I did check in with what’s happening elephant wise in the Pacific Northwest. I finally met, in person, Alyne Fortang; she is co-founder of an organization in Seattle diligently working to get the elephants out of a very confined habitat in the zoo into an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. You can learn from Alyne.
I had a lovely lunch in Ballard with my good friend and composer/recording artist, Jami Sieber; her music was featured in my elephant film Panom. Jami’s putting together another grand elephant tour to Thailand which she’s done now for the last few years. If you want to know more about the tours, her music and performance schedule, you can visit her at: www.jamisieber.com
It’s a remarkable experience.
Jami and Friend
Working with her on this end is my young protégé Chang Lek (little elephant); Lek, a young Akha artist, is also a local private guide and driver and works with Jami during her tour here. Anyone who plans on visiting Northern Thailand and who would like the comfort and convenience of a guide/driver, you can contact Chang Lek through me. By the way, Lek has recently married Paan, a young Akha woman from his village.
Chang lek and Paan, August 2010
Regretfully I didn’t get to visit all the people I thought I might– that I had hoped to. But it is always a bit difficult to go so many places with such little time. For those I missed, I hope you’ll understand.
Now back in Chiangmai, I’m knee-deep in several projects but mainly I’m sweeping away the cobwebs in my studio, that room with the excitant angels having lain dormant too long….In spite of the terrible weight of our shadow on the wobble of the world, our work must go on.
I hear the river of nowhere
And nowhere is it more clear
Than right here.
Lotus Fire photograph Galen Garwood 2008