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High and Dry

I went to a little party just a few hours ago in a little hidden gem of a beautiful villa right off the main hipster drag of 4th Avenue. All the drunks and college kids never know this place exists. There was a pool and food and drink and a guy recording whatever you wanted to say or sing or play, onto a laptop, and looping it and mixing it with whatever anyone else did before, and then playing it back on the PA. It was a cool little collaborative-interactive touch. and there was poetry and music. I read a portion of "The Invisible Generation" into the microphone over the sound of fingers tapping on a stand-up bass, read the Burroughs essay about tape cut-ups, and how you can change the world with recordings. You can remix reality and make it better or worse, Burroughs was saying.
My friend told me I sounded good, on the recording.
I think it was because that essay is a part of me. It was something I first read around 19 years ago, the first I'd ever heard of William S. Burroughs, and it had a profound effect on me. It's internal, so when I read it aloud, I guess it makes sense that I perform it well, because I believe it, and live it, and have for a long time.

Suprisingly, there were mostly women at this party. Only women used the pool, none of the men. I guess it's too hard to look properly hip when you're in a pool. Also, only 5 of us participated in the audio loop thingie, out of about 30 people. Like I keep observing, interactivity isn't for everyone.

Here's a brief glimpse from the eye of my phone during the event, a brief flash of the at least somewhat sublime, in some way, Tucson summer:

Jack R.I.P.

Yesterday a very sad thing happened in our little world. Jack Jibby Bark Undersun, the best dog in the world, Greta's constant companion and best friend fo 15 years, passed away.

When I first started dating Greta, over 2 and a half years ago, I met Jack and she asked me if I liked dogs. I replied "Well, I don't dislike dogs." She didn't view this as a very positive response, but all I meant was that I had been ambivalent to dogs so far. I had not ever had a very high place in my life for pets, and I grew up with dogs in the family that were not crazy but were also not really good with kids or "close" to us.

Jack taught me to love dogs. Jack and Greta taught me what a deep bond someone can have with their pet. He was a little puppy, wild on a farm in Virginia when 20-year-old Greta found him, the day after having a dream about him. Since then he was with her for countless adventures. He was there when she had nobody else to be there for her. And with her love and attention and care, he grew up to be the gentlest, kindest, most loving dog I've ever known. Everyone who knows him loves him, and he has many friends who will be sad to hear this terrible news. Our friend Peter drove up from Bisbee and the three of us are here in this house that seems empty, blown away by this sudden tragedy. Peter's dog Nori keeps looking around for Jack, her best doggy buddy, not quite understanding what has happened. Where did he go?

In the morning yesterday, I prepared his breakfast like I often do. On every other morning, he always would rush to the bowl and start gobbling away eagerly. Yesterday morning, he didn't want to eat it at all. I knew something was wrong. He was lethargic and panting hard and not walking very steadily. Jack has had a mast-cell tumor, a type of canine cancer, for over a year now, and we have known that this made his days numbered, even more so than his advanced age. But he's been on medicine and doing really great for a long time. We may have started to forget that at any time he could go downhill.
He started feeling better after we gave him a dose of his prednasone in a bowl of ice cream. He has always really liked ice cream. But then in the afternoon his condition got worse again. He was trembling all over, having trouble breathing and panting hard like he was in pain. We had called the vet and made an appointment for later in the afternoon, but when Greta offered him more ice cream and he refused, that was when she knew something was seriously wrong. She got him in the car and headed for the vet, meeting me on the way home from a meeting I had near campus. I drove the rest of the way with her in the backseat holding him.

They took him out of the car and into the clinic on a little doggy stretcher.

I can't really bear to continue at this level of detail. Suffice to say that the prognosis was grim. The cancer had clearly spread, and the mast cells were releasing histamines into his bloodstream that were causing him to go into severe shock. He passed away gently and with a minimum of suffering, in Greta's arms, at about 6pm.

We will miss him so much. Goodbye, Jack.

Rewarded To Waste

The other day I went to our friendly neighborhood food coop here in Tucson, with a canvas re-usable bag full of used plastic bottles to re-use, for shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, etc. I dutifully weighed the empty bottles at the scale and went over to fill them up, feeling good that I was reducing my usage of nondegradable packaging materials.

But when I got home Greta noted, glancing at the receipt, the prices of the re-usably-contained liquid products: for example, about $4 going on $5 for the shampoo. You can buy a new bottle of shampoo at Trader Joe's for about 3 bucks. The same general story for all those bottles.

So, what incentive is there to re-use those bottles? Just the good fuzzy warm smug glow inside from being a happy smug green consumer? Maybe for some of us with overdeveloped senses of morality and responsibility - and even then, as our wallets get thinner in these dark days, it's harder and harder to be "responsible". Furthermore, for the vast majority of the populace, that will not do even in good times.

The sustainable/green/earth-friendly consumer "movement" will never really get going unless there's more reason to do it than just "do the right thing."

To Arivaca Film Expo

Today I'm heading down to Arivaca, a little town near the border, about an hour southwest of Tucson, to show "Wild Versus Wall" at the Arivaca Independent Film Exposition. I think this is the third year that I've had something in this yearly 1-day festival, but I've never actually been present for it, so I figured it's about time I show up. It looks like there are quite a few interesting films, both documentary, and narrative, shorts and features, so it should be fun. The only thing is that just like with the Sedona fest last week, it feels like I'm taking time out that I don't have, but at least in this case it's only an afternoon.

How Steev

An old friend I haven't heard from in about 18 years just asked me why I spell my name the way I do now.

It's a relatively simple story: In 1990 or so, I was in a band, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a sort of punk/goth/noise/pop band called The Tao Puppies. The band had various problems which I won't detail here, but one of the quaint pretensions that the bass player had, being a big fan of the Ramones, was that everyone in the band should have a stage name. His was Clark Kent, if I recall correctly. I don't remember anyone else's stage name, but the point is that I thought this was a dumb idea. So to sort of purposely annoy and spite him I made my stage name something that's pronounced exactly the same, simply spelled differently: Steev.

I ended up liking that spelling quite a bit and as I continued an artistic career I kept using it, at first just for artistic purposes, but then gradually for everything in life short of legal documents.

It's gotten to the point that people who know me very very well sometimes misspell the names of other Steves that they know, because they're so used to spelling it my way. It's fun. And people think I'm Dutch or something foreign, which is also fun.

That's about it. Not much more to it.

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