Friday, May 30, 2014

Florida Folk Festival Video

One of my favorite times of the year, and one I missed  out on for a while.


Put new strings on our guitars,
Stock up on juice and granola bars,
We'll spend all night playing under the stars –
Going to the festival!
Get a program, flip the pages,
See who's playing at which stages;
Hey, I haven't seen this one in ages,
At the festival!

It's the Florida Folk Festival
We'll take three days and fill 'em full
Of friends and fun and song –
Y'all come along!

The sun is high, gonna get damp
When we make that long hot tramp
From the Old Marble Stage to the Seminole camp,
Taking in the festival!
We don't mind, we're having a ball
And we can stop by the lemonade stall
On our way to see it all
At the festival!

It's the Florida Folk Festival
We'll take three days and fill 'em full
Of friends and fun and song –
Y'all come along!

'Round the campfires, after dark,
Songs are risin' with the sparks;
We're at the Stephen Foster park
For the festival!
A smile for everyone who attends,
Strangers now but before it ends
We're all gonna be old friends
At the festival!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ashtrays, a poem


Seven ashtrays, passed from one generation
of nonsmokers to the next — they have held
candy and knick-knacks and paper clips.
They have been ornaments on coffee tables.

The green one is ugly. I know that.
A mottled trilobite, the ceramic chic
of another generation, it squats
unused. It makes a comfortable clutter.

This one might look good over there or maybe
in the other room. Does it matter?
They might sit here or they might all sit in boxes
until someone else will find them as useless as I.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My FFF 2014

After several years of missing the Florida Folk Festival – seven or eight, I think – I made it over to White Springs on Friday. The logistics of having my critters cared for and finding a place to stay over there kept me to just the one day. Gas, ticket, food, came to about a hundred dollars total. More than I like to spend but, after all, it’s only once a year.

I do intend to get some recordings and/or video together and try to get a performance spot the next time around. Might as well.

It was quite hot, but I like that. I breathe better with the warm air. What I did not like were the ticks! If I’d been thinking, I would have slathered myself with repellent before entering the park. They were never that bad in other years, as far as I can remember. Maybe the hotter weather is to blame?

I have no photos to display. The few I snapped were not worth keeping and I’d rather watch and listen than try to take pictures anyway.

So, I got there just before Ten AM, the official start time of the Festival. That meant leaving here at Five — I lose an hour by crossing the Apalachicola into the Eastern time zone and did not particularly hurry. Ambled about for seven hours and hit the road home. That let me see and hear enough to make it worthwhile and still get back while it was light.

I think the highlight of the day was Mary Z Cox’s performance at the Seminole Camp (which they done went and moved and confused me some!). Up close and personal, as they say. Virtuoso banjo playing of the claw-hammer persuasion, i.e. quite different from the bluegrass-y approach of my niece Mean Mary James. But every bit as good.

Of course, pretty much all the performers there play better than I do. I don’t consider myself a musician — when I’m on stage, I’m an actor playing a musician. On the other hand, I sing as well or better than most and I think I write a pretty good song. I do need to get out and perform occasionally and so intend.

That’s it for the FFF for this year. I’m looking forward to more music and fun and strawberry milkshakes next May.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Mistakes, a poem


The world is full of idiots —
I, alas, am one;
to my long list of mistakes
add more before I’m done.
For to err is very human
and I’m far from divine,
but make no mistake, I do admit
all those mistakes are mine.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

a bit of doggerel 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

When I'm Sixty-Four

At the age of 64, I am quite possibly in the best condition of my life. My weight is about the same as forty-some years ago when I was boxing but I am leaner and have more muscle.

No, I do not have the strength and muscle size I developed later when I seriously did the body building thing, but I was much heavier then and carried too much fat along with the muscles.

My rather high-carb vegetarian (not vegan, I use dairy and eggs) diet certainly plays a role. Since I ceased being a caregiver a little over a year ago, I can eat and exercise as I please. I pretty quickly lost my cravings and taste for the items I gave up (though I’ve never really been that fond of meat). Even shrimp, although most invertebrates are allowed.

Of course, I save a lot of money too on my very simple diet.

Now, I wouldn’t mind gaining back a little of that muscle I had, but not at the expense of gaining body fat. Definition beats size anyway, when it comes to looking good (not to mention being healthy).

I am slowly ramping up my weight-training sessions. They will still be short, high-intensity workouts — that’s what works best for me. And I’m reasonably active otherwise. Taking care of this acre and a half requires it, not to mention bike riding, roller blading, surfing...all things I need to do more!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Lazy Art

A work of art must be able to stand on its own, with no reference to how or by whom it was created. It should have intrinsic meaning.

If I were to create a bit of ‘performance art’ by, say, throwing paint-filled condoms at a canvas, the art would all be in the performance. The painting I created would have to be of interest in and of itself to someone who had no knowledge of how it was created. Chances are it would be a very bad painting and very bad art.

Admittedly, it would also be a rather bad and cliched performance but that would describe much of what passes for fine art these days. The academic art world seems to love these hackneyed skits and meaningless installations.

If some future archaeologist dug up Duchamp’s urinal, would it be recognized as art? No, it would go in a collection with all the rest of the bathroom fixtures. The art was in the performance, the hanging of that urinal in a gallery a century ago. It was an innovative gesture at the time but these days we’ve ‘been there and done that.’ And yes, I realize it is ironic to poke fun at being ironic now, to point out that we HAVE been there and done that.

Yeah, yeah, how insightful. And how boring. Art may be ironic but irony, of itself, is not art — I want art that actually says something.

I still, in some degree, am in alignment with the Stuckist movement and its ideas. As a movement, it no longer moves, so to speak, but there are lessons to take from its manifesto and the whole remodernist concept. Art should be authentic, not merely clever.

And the art favored by today’s academy should certainly not claim to be cutting edge and subversive. It is like a bunch of fashion models dressing up as punk rockers.

But it doesn’t have the anger of those punk rockers. That is what their art is lacking — true emotion, true passion. One should be able to look at a piece of art and feel something, to know there is a meaning to it, to know the artist sought after an elusive reality. Art must be about discovery.

Instead, it has become about denying that anything is worth discovering. It has lost meaning in favor of concept, in favor of ‘take what you will’ from it. It has become lazy.

We need art that does not mistake being glib for actually having ideas. We need art that has meaning.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Monday, May 05, 2014

Peanut Road Pix, May 2014

I finally got out the Fuji XP60 I bought last year and snapped some pix around the place. The XP is a waterproof camera I bought to use at the beach (close up surf photos, maybe) but I will almost certainly take it along to the Florida Folk Festival later this month. It may not be a great digital camera but it is better than what I have had up until now.

That doesn't include my 35 mm film camera, of course. I will still be using that occasionally!

 The Robin Hood Rose hedge out front. The dead tree behind is the oak I 'ringed' last year as it was getting too large and too close to the house. It will come down as it comes down.

Little Peach trees along the drive. I have pinched most of the fruit off this year (though you may see a few that I left). Next year, I should have loads.

 Another view of the roses and the peaches and of Peanut Road, too. Also a pile of azaleas I cut down.

The largest of the several mulberries I put in a few years ago, well over double my height now and loaded with fruit a week ago. Reckon the birdies feasted.

The Yuccas will bloom for the first time this year.

Tickseed (native Coreopsis) along the south fence.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Fogs, a poem


When we wake from our dream
shall we curse the dawn?

The sun has not seen the things
of the night. Forgive him

when he sweeps away the fogs
that would cling to day.

Stephen Brooke ©2014