Nathan Klose

Nathan Klose is the former​​ Creative Director over 2nd & Charles​,​ Books-A-Million​, and Joe Muggs​. He's most recently living in Huntsville, AL,​​ where he​ helps​ ​​makes stuff for people around the United States as a larger, more powerful​ ​consulting Creative Director. He has a wife that is a pastor and two dogs that rip the tiny squeaker hearts out of chew toys. He edits​​​ a N​ew York City​​-based arts publication called The C​urator, which you are reading, and writes poetry.​ He likes donuts.

Donora Hillard Abides In ‘Jeff Bridges’

Jeff Bridges made this thing called Sleeping Tapes [1]. It was a promo album for Squarespace, a soft and motley collection of nonsequential tidbit stories, rhythmic chanting, field recordings of Bridges just tromping around his backyard with a boom mic, etc. The thing he made is a good thing. I like it. Sleeping Tapes is what I’m listening to from the shower, volume cranked above the plack of soap, shower water, as I consider Donora Hillard’s new book of Jeff Bridges-themed poetry. It’s called Jeff Bridges [2]. That’s all it is called. The thing she made is also a good thing.

kpax-jeffNot many people seem to know about Sleeping Tapes when I mention it. From the compendium of Bridges’ work, Tron or The Big Lebowski are well known. Maybe some people also remember him from Iron Man, those short villainous scenes, or True Grit. But plenty of Jeff Bridges fans have, you know, at least heard about Sleeping Tapes — and plenty more might have slept sweet and delighted to it already, or half-slept rolled into their sheets like human burritos, soaking Jeff’s pepper-and-chunk voice up slowly, weirdly calm. It eventually becomes part of the nature of a fan to know Jeff Bridges bit by bit, as fans soon discover their knowledge of him never seems complete or — heck, or even containable. I rinse my hair and imagine Hillard mouthing every track of Sleeping Tapes, memorized just so, while she scribbles her poems onto coffee filters, the backs of shared marketing mail pieces, a steno pad. Hillard’s book, Jeff Bridges, contains more of The Dude than Jeff Bridges perhaps knows he contains, himself.

And that’s why these poems work, why they are good and why I like them: Jeff Bridges — and we’re talking not only the entertainer, we’re also talking the personality concept he’s portrayed across his career, the man’s mythos and ethos — operates as a free-floating marker for various events in Hillard’s life. He is ever available as steady grounding, or as comforting voice; he is, as often as his depiction renews for Hillard in a poem, an existential sense-maker to all senselessness. Talk about uncontainable. The Dude is a balm for The Poet.

Hillard’s first poem in the book invites readers into Jeff Bridges-as-balm with zero questions asked. It slaps that balm on you before you realize. And the balm absorbs easily into the parts of you that you didn’t know had been so dry, peeling. Read it slowly:

 

You have 14 minutes
and then Jeff Bridges.
He lets you win at air
hockey and soaks your
diamonds in No More
Tears. He even holds
your hand after you are
fired for being small.
Happy. You will be happy
and he will give you the
last airplane cookie.
You will look down at the
weird tundra lights,
your America, the thing
with wheels for eyes
growing ever closer.

 

This poem begins the cycle of Hillard’s nameless, semi-narrative and illustration-juxtaposed conversation. On the other side of the page is the first of the illustrations, a rendering of The Dude by artist Goodloe Byron [3]. It’s this combination of Byron’s sketches and Hillard’s film-reference-drenched poetry (in this case, some of 1993’s Fearless) that gets a thematic momentum rolling for us, and by the next poem we’re ready to be balm-baptized once-over. Imagine how Jeff Bridges might explain his career to you over a drink: every story recalled would bite and soothe at the attentions, draw you in, the order unimportant. Hillard, adorned in grungy Dude bathrobe, pulls a bar stool up to you the same, and just details what comes to mind until you’re nodding along. Topics, no matter the initial shock or awe, drift in and out with restful sway. It’s a momentum to be admired.

The Dude abides.Much how Sleeping Tapes hypnotizes me into restful sway, Hillard could read me equally hypnotic with her book [4] — high praise from a fellow, and deeply-entranced, fan of the man, to be sure. Jeff Bridges, like Sleeping Tapes, is correspondingly a soft and motley collection of nonsequential tidbit stories, but instead of the entertainer walking us through his own mind before bed, he walks Hillard through hers, hand-in-hand, before she can even lay her head down. He calls her Baby Sister and looks up from playing his guitar as though paying half-attention, half-asleep, to dispense a saying that will stick. He cares. It’s, in a way, what every fan wants.

 

Baby Sister, he says, why?

Remember me in FEARLESS.
My hair was so long

and I wasn’t afraid
of any strawberry.

I stuck my head out
the window like a beagle.

I yelled at God,
‘You want to kill me but you can’t.’

So let it go. Let’s drive our
Volvo into a brick wall to make

Rosie Perez feel better.
Let’s buy presents for the dead.

 

And that’s the beauty of this book. Hillard has picked the stickiest sayings, the half-sleepiest, and said them into her life again and again until she couldn’t distinguish life from Jeff. For us, and for Hillard, Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges being wonderfully himself throughout her book — strange, zen-like, and brim with the necessary friendliness of the moment.

I blow-dry my long beard, bathrobe-wrapped, post-shower, and try to think about The Dude the way Hillard has thought about The Dude. I imagine him suggesting I put less stuff in my hair, maybe go for that more natural look. I imagine him patting my shoulder and smiling his thin, pastoral smile.

I put nothing in my hair and start my day.

 

 

 


[1] You can hear Sleeping Tapes here.

[2] Jeff Bridges is available directly through Cobalt Press in both print and epub format. 

[3] Goodloe Byron’s wonderful work can be found on Twitter and Tumblr.

[4] Wouldn’t it be cool if Jeff Bridges read an audiobook version of Jeff Bridges?

Awe, Alarm, and Hope

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

 

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

 

Here and there, home and overseas, death and its sadness sits with us in our hands, in front of our couches, in our laps, atop our desks. The Curator is often middle-caught in these events, left to speak through those willing to write for us when they will. Our publication’s purpose is to talk about what is and what ought to be through these writers. But there’s a tension to that purpose: as a publication, our staff is typically silent, directing writers in the background. It’s the writers that speak. So not speaking timely, then, with our own voices can be a challenge.

I believe there’s a time to speak, and a time not to speak, as a publication. A staff member for The Curator, I’m writing about death and its sadness here because now is a time, I believe, to acknowledge these most recent deaths and sadnesses.

Whether most recently the Ferguson fray, or that ‘divine madness’ (as Russell Brand called it) of rugged-hearted Robin Williams passing from us—whether the soul-sink of Gaza and Israel’s vitriol, the beheadings of Christians in Iraq, the strife of occupation, the rockets across the strip popping at bodies and dirt and hospitals—we are reminded that making known that which aches us, even here at The Curator with this small post, helps. I really think it helps. It helps us not only think about what is and what ought to be, the topics siphoned through those two realities, but also helps redirect our manic, thickened spirits looking for peace during such events. Because our spirits are craving peace, let’s be honest. There’s so much talk about these events.

And there is peace, believe it or not. It is a peace that passes all understanding. It is available, now, and can be groaned for, prayed for, hoped for. This peace can be offered freely.

And it can seem to be taken away freely, too. Recently, it feels taken away.

There’s much to say on these events, their details and histories. These events are not equal, nor are they related. There are particulars to these events that need critical, loud voices speaking for or against them. But one thing we know we can say, as a staff, at The Curator is: we know these events ought not to be happening. That’s plain. It fits within the publication’s purposes, I think. And while we’re grateful to leave the coverage of these matters up to trusted news sources and timely publications, we want readers to know we will continue to frame all that ought not to be with the same care, the same emphasis and power, as we have throughout all disparage and beauty in this world: as an arts publication. We distinguish ourselves as an arts publication. And we’ll use the art that is born out of this time, and the art used to aid others’ understanding of it, to baptize our ache in an appropriate hope and mourning, the same.

I hope The Curator can be a space that continues to let writers offer, in their own words on living and dying that only they can write, a variety of views on these disheartening scenarios and scenarios like them. But I hope, also, The Curator can be a space that provides solace with its tried-and-true purposes. That’s what I’m really trying to say. We want to let you know that we are listening. We are aching like you are aching. We are in the death and sadness with you. And we will use the arts, like we always have here, to look for understanding amid the misery, the throb of want—and for the peace that passes all understanding to return to us all.

 

A Computer Made for Art

Jason Kottke wrote earlier last week about a project we’d noted weeks ago, too — the Electronic Objects project. Its Kickstarter was successful beyond expectation ($762,612 more successful than expected) and rightly so: the hang is to bring digital art into a physical space. From the website:

There’s more art on the Internet than in every gallery and museum on Earth.

But many of these beautiful objects are trapped. They’re trapped inside of devices like our phones, our tablets, our TVs, our laptops — devices designed for distraction, living between texts, tweets, football games and emails from work.

So we’re making a new way to bring art from the Internet into your home.

Here’s Kottke, speaking on the project a few days ago:

Early last month, Electric Objects launched their campaign offering their “Computer Made for Art”, the EO1. If you remember, they were featured right here on kottke.org on their launch day. A lot has happened since then.

Their campaign has gathered almost 2000 backers and raised over $680,000, blowing their $25K goal out of the water. They announced their artist-in-residence program and had over 300 artists apply for a chance to work with EO to create art for the platform. Electric Objects is also also teaming up with New York Public Library Labs to offer a special artist-in-residence position. The selected artist will get to play with the library’s extensive maps collection in order to create digital art for the EO1. The artist gets a EO1 prototype kit, a stipend, time with the EO and NYPL teams, and their work will be shown at the 42nd Street branch of the library. More details and application information here.

The Electronic Objects frame is available for pre-order on its official site.

Explosions and BBQ

Your weird uncle’s been twisting wicks all afternoon. Potato salad sits on horse-fly-orbited paper plates till it’s heat-cooked into mush. You’ll still eat two forkfuls at 9pm. Your weird uncle will help.

There’s a parcel of odd statements that could make this day up for us — 4th of July sets the United States into an outbreak of family kindness, patriotism, and ease of speed. We drive slower on the roads. We don’t even drive, really. We lawnchair in the driveway. There’s something unifying about that, though, in the cliche of it all: we find ourselves mostly off work together, mostly thinking about fireworks and food together, and everyone hopes to make exciting, substantial time with everyone else. That’s not a paltry unification. That’s a merciful one, if you ask me. A natural, country-wide mercy.

The joy I’ve had as a kid during the 4th has not left me. I’m thankful for the sense of conglomeration it provides today; friends want to be friends without question of event, because the event is apparent. I remember stringing M80s together and blowing hucks off salt licks, the farm crew of family friends all yelping at the explosion. We were a unit of 12-years-olds. We ate and played, even if we couldn’t garner the reason of the celebration. The reason didn’t matter. We were young and running around — and that’s the mercy of it. We could run around without reason. The parents didn’t care. Nobody cared. And in that non-caring? There was care for us, our souls, for all 4th of July celebrations to follow.

This year, The Curator’s writers and editors all want to offer you a smooth, celebratory high-five of freedom. We hope you are cared for by the mercy of the day’s speed, its potato salad allowance, its friendliness. We don’t have to agree on anything in this country, at this known hour, to celebrate that we live within its various mercies at all other hours. This hour is your hour, this hour is my hour. The land these hours happen in we can be thankful for today. We can run around this land like kids. We can make time. We can be unified with kin and strangers as we watch the pop of colored heat cook into our retinas, come 9pm. And that weird uncle, which many of us have, can enjoy his own self-made pop of color in the driveway — proud of each fountain, each bottle rocket, each whirl and whoop. Proud, whether he knows it or not, of the opportunity to create light and heat and joy for his family on an easy day. Proud, even as Neil Diamond’s Coming To America plays in the background of his mind. Today is the day we can love that weird uncle.

 

From the Roster: Gina Hurry

It is good to celebrate, and hold conversation around, art (both pop & fine). And it makes sense to showcase original works by contemporary artists to do this. As such, we’ve started profiling a recent exhibition or series found in our community — or just an artist whose recent work slakes or invigorates the heart.

This Tuesday’s artist is Gina Hurry. You’ll find commentary, personal reflection, and other verbal foliage on her work in the following post. If you have something to show the editorial staff and the rest of The Curator readership, too, please email us: editor@curatormagazine.com.

 

'The New Heavens'

‘The New Heavens’

 

About Gina, gleaned from her website and other sources:

“…. [T]here is more to good and beautiful than safe and simple … I have seen colors of deep grief, death and darkness — fear, loss, deep groaning and loneliness. And I have also seen and breathed in colors I cannot describe because of their transcendence filled with kindness, beauty, and hope … I believe that beauty is meant to be a gift.” –Gina Hurry

 

'Good Gift I'

‘Good Gift I’

 

'Renewal'

‘Renewal’

 

“Along with other Jewish and Christian artists who hew at the meat and bones beneath the surface of Bible narrative, Hurry is a visual prophet for our time. Her blog writings reveal a deep longing for intimacy with God and sorrow over lack of unity in the church and world. She believes in fighting through the ‘ugly stages’ and enlisting beauty as an ally. The process of beauty overcomes chaos and destruction and is at least partially an antidote to the sickness of the world and a reminder of another place.” —Marisa Martin, WRN

 

'Dancing Among The Ruins'

‘Dancing Among The Ruins’

 

'Year of Jubilee'

‘Year of Jubilee’

 

Gina Hurry helps head a wonderful arts collective in the Birmingham area, InSpero — a movement of human hearts toward the re-envisioning, and reclamation, of city space through art, its practices and disciplines (its results, as well), and through the creative/creationary nature inherent in community-forming that gets flushed out because of it all. She believes, in her work with InSpero and as an artist, “beauty is meant to be a gift.” The city of Birmingham, AL, has a bustling arts community, which Gina aids, nurtures, and connects and re-connects to itself.

More of Gina Hurry’s work can be discovered through her website, ginahurry.com, and through her Facebook page, Gina Hurry Art.

 

 

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Friday Quicklinks 4.4.14

Here’s a smattering of this week’s pique-powerful posts.

It’s National Poetry Month | Follow these poets on Twitter. And read more poetry.

Orson Welles Reading Walt Whitman (h/t Lit Hum) | Song of Myself VI

NYC’s Old Floating Churches | Christ at sea, seen regularly.

Pothold tries to eat pothole truck | A little irony, for our hipster readers.

The Musicality of Robert Frost (h/t Prufrock News) | “And set the wall between us once again./ We keep the wall between us as we go.”

80 Mennonites pick up and move a house | We’re pretty sure they prayed beforehand.

It’s time to follow Station 51000 on Twitter | The observational data of a lost NOAA buoy, unmoored in March of last year and now adrift

FSG is releasing Marilynn Robinson’s new book Lila | And John Ames is still the man.

Liner Notes: A poetry Playlist | 10 poets offer their composition soundtracks.

 

And, of course, check out today’s post: Right Ho, Wodehouse

BLACK FRIDAY: A Christmas Meaning To Be Itself

Gifts declare to the world a material mercy. What may be gifted, either in object or body, gives well only because it is given, offered — the object or body can transfer truly in the spirit of sacrifice. Or so we like to hope. Sometimes gifts come from what seem like empty, arid places in us, in our anxious humanity. They are perhaps given quickly, and given to excite, entice, convince. Sometimes gifts don’t feel like gifts. But is a gift always prone to this aridity? Can even the most desperate, holiday-crazed alms find themselves coated in this mercy, the same? Why do we give the gifts, anyway?

Filmmaker Leif Ramsey, in a fit of awe over the Black Friday phenomenon—the world’s largest shopping day, grossing in 2010 $45 billion in the 24 hours of itself just here in the United States (according to Ramsey’s Kickstarter)—wants to navigate that. Ramsey and his team are in process to complete a documentary film about the mercy they found in the hullabaloo of Black Friday. It’s sort of a This American Life meets moving picture deal, a sought-out family beatitude framed within the economic materialism of the holidays.

A traveling Santa Claus, Richard, tires of his constant movement during the holidays and longs to spend them with his family. In the film, Santa Richard does what any travel-exhausted Santa would do: he plants his feet and opens a small business. Ramsey says in the Kickstarter video, “he must face the unexpected frustrations of pitfalls” of doing this.

Heather is a compulsive shopper in the film. She goes so far as to dress homeless, apply stinky root hormone, and uses her “homeless” wiles (startling others away) to get at items in stores. And all this for her 7-year-old daughter, who she wants to have a special Christmas this year.

Both visual dossiers, in the style of This American Life, propose a new look at the well-seen seasonal huff of Black Friday, but the film doesn’t propose to speak on the “greed” we perceive about Black Friday, or the spectacle of it. Instead, it proposes to redeem, out of the hustle, the meaning of giving. It is about the gifts these two people wish to give, the sacrifices they make to give them, and the mercy (and/or root hormone) they coat their actions in or, in some sense, find their actions coated in. BLACK FRIDAY is a film about the truth of the gift: that mercy exists, can exist, at any velocity.

The film still needs backing, though. Ramsey and his team are in the post-production phase. They have 4 months of editing to do, a composer and license for music to secure, and other tinkerings. The team’s on the curb-edge of this. I highly recommend watching the video on the Kickstarter page, as well as making a financial contribution.

Kaufman’s Artificial Resurrection

Andy Kaufman has ostensibly died — because he lives, still? According to a claimed ‘daughter’ of the comedian, the persistent story of Kaufman as a father ought to override the persistent story of his known death. It is a persistence against a persistence. It is strange. The news of this has prompted a major media swell today.

“I’m not trying to prove anything,” the daughter says.

“Does he have a message?” Andy’s brother, Michael Kaufman, asks.

Andy’s brother, Michael, reacts with strength of face in this TMZ video. It is difficult to believe the video is not a joke in the spirit of Andy’s, staunchly postured; and yet, it is belief that makes the media overflow at this. Belief postures its own ardency, its own trust. The media wants to believe, and wants us to believe, too.

I wonder what the claim of Jesus Christ’s resurrection would have been like: widely seen as dead, known as dead, Jesus is revealed as alive to 12 cowering men in an upper room by Mary Magdaline. Her voice, unsure. The door locks again. The looks lock on her.

We could read the passage in the Gospel of John with such ease, though. What unease, then, Kaufman’s artificial resurrection (I use this phrase loosely) is to us, to me, in comparison to our reading. It ought not to be easy to read.

I think of doubting Thomas. I think of the implications of the one making a profession of the Christ’s rise, Mary M. I think of the 12, in desperate contemplation of the news, dismissal of the claim — the claim that claims to override one story with a newer, greater one. I think of doubting Thomas again.

Of course, the comparison of the account in the Gospel of John and the account of Andy’s Kaufman’s ‘daughter’ breaks down quickly. These are two very different events. But by the echo of one into the other: I am called to remembrance, even if subtly.