i love you, burning man

It’s been ten days since my return from the desert playa that is Black Rock City. Burning Man offers something new and different every year. Personally, this burn was one of restoration and reflection. While many in our camp danced till sunrise at sound camps – most notably Robot Heart – I slept and meditated a lot. Out there, you must listen to your body, and that’s what mine told me to do: relax. My mind’s musings are still settling, and I’m aiming to organize them into something useful soon.

Upon my return to the default world, I found myself yearning for the creativity and spirit that fed my heart, so it was beautiful this morning when, over breakfast, my wife shared a video by Stefan Pildes and his lady love KJ. Over the past few years, they’ve created homage to the place we love with fun music videos featuring fellow burners. Before I headed into the desert this year, I shared their rendition of “Home.” This year, these Groove Hoops members posted a Fertility 2.0 celebration using Michael Franti & Spearhead’s “Say Hey (I Love You).”

Below, is video of the burning of the Temple of Juno, designed by David Best. The burning of The Man was amazing and fun, but as I said, my mind was more meditative, which the temple burn was. I tagged the temple with the name of a friend, Kibibi Dillon, who died this past year. It was good to let go. Now, I’m letting go of the 2012 Burn. Time to dig in heals and get back to tasks at hand.

Thanks to my campmates – Christy, Ron, Jeffrey, Leo, Josiah, Araceli, Marina, Steph, and our honorary German mate, Florian – for sharing it all with me. One love.

PS – If you want to check out my pictures, here is a small album.

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from my friends

I have great friends. My friends Aaron & Gayla and their beautiful daughter, Zaeda, fill my life with love and warmth. They are also huge cheerleaders when it comes to encouraging my artistic journey. They made a wonderful gift of pesto and bbq sauce for a closing present for soloNOVA, and I thought I’d share the quote they put into the note attached to the gift:

“Have you ever risked economic security? Have you ever risked a belief? I see nothing particularly courageous about risking one’s life. So you lose it, you go to your hero’s heaven and everything is milk and honey ’til the end of time. Right? You get your reward and suffer no earthly consequences. That’s not courage. Real courage is risking something that might force you to rethink your thoughts and suffer change and stretch consciousness.”

– Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

what it’s like in beirut – for real

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMAIL FROM MY FRIEND, ARTIST, LEE FREDERIX, WHO HAS BEEN LIVING IN BEIRUT FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. HE WAS PLANNING ON RETURNING TO THE U.S. THIS WEEK, AND THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE BETWEEN HEZBOLLAH AND ISRAEL LAST WEEK. HE IS STILL WAITING FOR THE U.S. EMBASSY TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER SO HE CAN EVACUATE.

PERSONALLY, I’M NOT FOR EITHER “SIDE.” WAR, DEATH AND POWER STRUGGLES, TO ME, ARE HORRIBLE, NO MATTER WHO IS DOING WHAT. I AM POSTING SO PEOPLE MAY SEE A DIFFERENT SIDE OF WHAT IS BEING REPORTED ON CNN, FOX AND OTHER U.S. DRIVEN MEDIA. IT IS IMPORTANT, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SEE ON TELEVISION, TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. DIG DEEPER. AS LEE MENTIONS, AL JAZEERA DOES THE SAME THING, TOO. PROPAGANDA PERPETUATES DEATH.

hello to you all from formerly-lovely beirut!

first of all, I AM SAFE!

this is just a quick group mail to let you all know that.
i’m sorry i havent gotten in touch sooner, but as you can imagine, it’s been just a wee bit hectic over here. so i’m sure you’ll all forgive me.

i’m just waiting for the us government and embassy to get their act together. mad king george II and his cronies need to get the evacuation under way. we’re hoping to get on a ship to cyprus within the next 48 hours. it’s a bit frustrating to sit and watch the swedes, the french, the italians, the spanish etc all leave while the bombs continue to shake the windows, the power is periodically cut, and my embassy personnel rudely tell me “there’s nothing to tell you”

hopefully i’ll be stateside by the weekend, relaxing on my dear mom’s ranch in the high new mexico desert. (mom tells me she already has the guest room made up for me)….then over to pittsburgh to see the rest of my greatly-missed family, including the cool kids that refer to me as uncle lee.

the situation here is indeed bad. latest estimates say 215 lebanese dead (maybe 5% of them hezbollah forces)…. the airstrikes continue, israel has ground forces in the south, and both sides refuse to consider a ceasefire. hezbollah may unfortunately have the technology to strike tel aviv, and obviously nobody wants that to happen. consequences would be horrific for both sides.

fortunately, the neighborhood where i live is very safe and has been as far as possible from the attacks. i am a bit nervous, though not as rattled as my windows by the rolling thunder of missile attacks and low flying fighter/bombers.

CNN has been reporting bullshit. yesterday their correspondant was reporting from the front of my bank in downtown beirut, but he claimed to be in haifa (you can even see the lebanese military guardbooth in the frame!)…. they’ve reported that the port of beirut is belching flame and billowing smoke. the port is about 300 yards from my apartment, and the view from my roof shows NO damage whatsoever….. they’ve also made spelling mistakes, misquoted spokesmen, and failed to report certain things that may hurt foreign sympathy for the israeli cause. al jazeera does the same for the other side……

i recommend sky news (BRITISH) if you can pick it up. if not, BBC is fairly accurate and extremely objective. please don’t be misled by the war machine. get as much info from as many sources as you can, and make up your own mind.

i hope you’re all well…..

take care and keep your fingers crossed that all this will settle and lives will be spared.

lots of love…..

lee

trashcan paintin’

Last Saturday, I was wandering around the parks in Brooklyn, and ended up meeting two of my favorite people, Belle & Bhagvati, in Carroll Park. They answered an email call to arms to paint a trash can and beautify the park. As you can see, Bhagvati took the “call to arms” a little too seriously. Belle’s below Bhagvati there…paintin’ pink petunias! (I think they’re actually lilies or something.) You can check out more of Belle’s work at www.bellebenfield.com


Belle’s foot.

Flies on the trash can…of course!

All in all, it was a grand afternoon. I got sunburned on the top of my head, but it was worth it, hangin’ with friends and watching them have the best time.

my vacation

From April 21st to April 31st I traveled to Geneva, IL, Denver, CO and Los Angeles, CA. Basically, the trip was to see some of my best friends, god daughter my family and . It was a fun, fast-paced time, and I’m sad it’s over. Thought I’d share a few shots of my time on the road. Enjoy!

1. ILLINOIS

On the first leg of my trip, I hung out in Geneva, IL with my mother, sister, Heidi, and her fiancé, Joey. We stopped in at this killer catering/deli spot called Moveable Feast.

Heidi and Mom order at the counter. They see pastries (notice the Strawberry Rhubarb
individual pie – my favorite), and we head into the dining area where Heidi & Mom eat. (They’re gonna hate me for putting these shots up on line).

Did I mention Strawberry Rhubarb is my favorite pie ever?

Oprah said Moveable Feast has the best brownies in Chicago.
They think she should be president.
I thought the painting was a riot.

Heidi & Joey got engaged a couple weeks back. Aren’t they cute?

The reason we all visited was to support my mother, who directed Hello Dolly at Kaneland High School in Illinois.

The cast pulled my mother up on stage and gave her a bouquet of flowers, showing how much they appreciate her. She hates it, for she thinks it’s unprofessional to pull the director up on stage after the final performance. Perhaps it’s not professional, but I was so proud to see my mother up on stage in front of a standing audience. Too bad I couldn’t get the audience in the shot, too. They cheered. Mom rocks.

Students’ mothers made “Hello Dolly Cookies” and passed out at intermission.

On the left is Becca, the girl who played Dolly Levi.

Heidi & me after the show.

So, I’m walking back to my seat after intermission, and I see this kid, who’s probably 13 years old. And he has this shirt on:

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran up to Heidi and Joey, who’d already taken their seats for the second act, and told them about this kid. I declared, “I gotta get a picture of this!” and ran back down to the kid’s seat. “Hey, man…can I take picture of your shirt?”

He was happy to comply.

Then, his mother proudly exclaimed, “He wore that on Roe v. Wade day!” Like it is some sort of “holiday” or normal yearly protest for which they wait in anticipation all year long. She was very proud. This is what some kids are being taught in Illinois!

The oddest thing, I might have been this kid in another life. As a kid, I was a Christian, and I very well might have worn this shirt. All I can hope is that he’ll one day go out into the world and have his mind expanded.

My two cents: “Guns don’t kill people, white cowboys in White Houses with hard ons for Iraqis kill people”

But, of course, we all have our opinions.

2. COLORADO

The second leg of my trip landed me in Denver, CO – more specifically, Parker, CO just a few miles south of the mile high city. I was there to visit two of my closest friends in the world, Troy & Jefferson. Troy, I’ve known since we were 13 years old in Canton, IL, my adopted hometown (I was actually born in Peoria, IL). Jefferson is a great mate from NYC. We did tons of theater together in New York, and now he’s living in his hometown and is partner in a beautiful cabaret in downtown Denver called Lannie’s at which I performed on April 25th.

This first shot is of my goddaughter, Abigail, as she practices piano with the instruction of her mother, Teresa (Troy’s wife).

Ever heard of Build-A-Bear? I hadn’t until I offered to take Abby shopping for a birthday present. Friends, this place is crazy. The kid can go through the store and pick out any animal they wish.

Then, they put “fluff” in a vacuum tube…

…which flies into the stuffing machine where they…

…stuff said animal…

(how this isn’t traumatic to a young child I don’t know)

Before the back of the animal’s back gets sewed up, Abigail kissed a heart, made a wish and chose a “voice box” to go in the hand of the bunny. When you squeeze the hand, her bunny says, “I love you.” These guys think of everything!

Once the animal (a baby bunny rabbit in this case) is full, Abigail gives it a “bath” of compressed air to get all the “fuzzies” off the bunny.

After she named the bunny and printed out a “birth certificate” for Baby Bunny Ashley, she had to clothe the poor thing! So, we went shopping…

Ashley’s a baby, so she’s wearing diapers.

Finally, Ashley is complete with butterfly hare tie (get it…hare…tie…man, I’m cheesy) and bottle/rattle set – remember she’s just a baby (Abigail reminded me many times).

I had another picture of Abigail in the car with Ashley, but it was all blurry. So, this is just a killer picture of her and me and her Cabbage Patch Kid.

We spent the rest of the afternoon coloring. This is mine.

Abigail’s… (she liked the cherries I made on the ground & decided to make some on her drawing, too!)

We did this one together. I drew the grass, flowers, bee and me. Abby drew herself and then insisted that tulips were red and had thorns. I tried to explain to her that tulips could be any color and that roses have thorns. Try debating with a six year old. It doesn’t go very far. Hence, our tulip has thorns (or “stickers” as Abigail likes to say).

Abigail is big time into Bratz. The majority of her drawings are of these genie dolls. She LOVES them. She’s a pretty good artist, if I do say so myself. (She’s six, folks…)

And, of course, here’s the original brat herself, Abigail!! Hehe…love you Ab…

At this point, one might wonder, why are there only pictures of people and the indoors?

Answer: It snowed while I was there. 70 degrees the day before I arrived, 70 degrees the day I left. On this day, it was 30 degrees with two inches of snow.

It’s beautiful, though, don’t you think?

My aunt and uncle came up from Colorado Springs on this day and treated me to lunch. Then, we went down to their condo and they showed me their new retirement pad. Go, Uncle E & Aunt V!

Castle Rock – on the way down to Colorado Springs.

Pike’s Peak (shot’s not great, but not bad from a moving car!)

That night, I had a wonderful opportunity, which was afforded to me by my buddy, Jefferson Arca. I threw down some spoken word as my Denver debut at a club in which he’s a partner is called Lannie’s, and on Tuesday night’s they have the Retro Vaudeville Variety Night.

Crazy acts like the Finnish Cuckoo Guy play the accordion and jam out on the guitar.

Here’s a little video of the second act song he did:

http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/finnishsinger.mpg

Teresa captured some of my second act poem on video, plus a little story about Abigail from that afternoon.

The performance is not great, but the poem is one of my favorites, for my sister.
The top of the poem was chopped, so here’s the beginning, and then the link to the performance below:

mom once told me
as a baby,
when you began to speak,
you spoke in
full sentences.
not baby talk —
broken ideas
words like:
baba
wawa
no!
— but in
full sentences.
not surprising.
the way you talk now:
furiously fast in
full sentences.

mom theorizes…
http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/fullsentences.mpg

Then, I told a story about Abigail from earlier in the day:
http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/abbystory.mpg

Coincidentally, my friend and fellow performer, Joanna Parson, was in Denver, too, and she performed that night. It was like a big reunion, for Jefferson introduced me to Joanna almost eight years ago!

Check out: www.joannaparson.com Joanna’s performing her show REDDY OR NOT! for THE Helen Reddy Thursday night, May 4, 2006! Check her site for details.

Puppets! (they were funny as hell!)

Host of the Vaudeville Variety Night, Pierre Jean-Pierre St. Pierre, me and Joanna (sorry J, for choppin’ ya off a bit).

Jefferson and his lovely gal pal, Shelby. Shelby thinks Jefferson looks like Wolverine in this picture. I think he looks like the villain, Syndrome, from The Incredibles.

Teresa and Troy. This is how Troy always looks. Ha!

3. LOS ANGELES

The final leg was in good ‘ole L.A. I stayed with my friend, Giselle, in Hollywood for a three nights, and my buddy, Ken, housed me for the final sleepover of my exciting left coast extravaganza.

I don’t know if I got bored of taking pictures, or we didn’t do anything fun while I was in L.A., but there are very few shots from my five days there. Mostly, we ate and drank, so we were at restaurants and bars. I believe, I was having so much fun I just plum forgot to take pictures. Also, I had some work to do on the terraNOVA website while I was there, so I think that took up time.

Nevertheless, it was grand. My friends there took care of me, and, since I got bumped on my flight to Denver, I got a free, round-trip flight anywhere in the continental U.S.A.! I’m going back to L.A. soon, so if you live out there and I missed you last time, lemme know. We’ll hook up…probably in August.

Here’s Gissy! Pickin’ me up at the airport!

Adria, my friend and former roomie, now works at a bar/restaurant/venue named Tangier in Los Feliz. It was cool, and Adria gave me some great feedback on my new solo play, FEEDER: A Love Story, which is opening in the terraNOVA Solo Arts Festival on June 10th. The pic doesn’t do her justice…damn flash!

Friday night, I met up with my friend, Lindsay, who took me to this great Italian restaurant in Los Feliz called Palermo.

Then, we hit The Dresden, featured in the movie Swingers. Of course, it seems as though every place in that city has been featured in a movie at one time or another.

If Club Tee Gee hasn’t been in a movie, it should. Tee Gee is the coolest, most chill place; however, the bartender told us that because of Coachella, the big music fest last weekend, most of the regulars were missing. No matter. This night was chill with Ken, his roommate, Lance, buddy, Jason, and his friend, Trudy who was moving back to Texas.

Check out the wood paneling. Does this remind anyone else of the basement that they grew up in during the 1970’s? Love it.

What…? Ken.

Brokeback Kenny.

Out the airplane window on my layover heading back to NYC.

This trip wasn’t about decompressing or relaxing, which is an odd thing to say about a vacation, but it was about seeing friends and family…catching up with the people I love most in the world. It’s difficult when those I love are so far away, but I feel fortunate to have others I love just as much here in New York with me.

Tonight, I hung out with an old crew of friends who welcomed a good friend back from being abroad for two years. It was a great time, and I counted my blessings once again. I’m a lucky guy.