BC: writtenontheworld.com matthewmarsphotography.com theextendedhaikuremixproject.com beyondbaroque.org
FC: written on the world: 21st century cartography matthew mars
1: written on the world: 21st century cartography an exhibition of still & moving pictures, artifacts & found objects, digital media & text with new & selected art by matthew mars and text contributions from luis alfaro, allison anders, brendan constantine, ewan chung, rich ferguson, amélie frank, nelson gary, brian grillo, victor infante, ellyn maybe, matthew mullins, michael paul, katherine williams & teresa willis. january 4 through 26, 2014 at the mike kelley gallery at beyond baroque literary arts center, venice , calif. special thanks to louis artieda, frank schultz, richard modiano, carlye archibeque, lis lewis. in memory of erica erdman.
3: WRITTEN ON THE WORLD/21st century cartography I've been fascinated by maps for as long as I can remember. Go ahead, admit it, you have, too. They're kind of audacious if you think about it---a fixed representation of the abstract; providing definition for things that cannot really be defined; ephemeral yet lasting. Contradictory motherfuckers, to be sure, they offer whirlwinds of possibility (and metaphors, mixed and otherwise, a-go-go) as far as art goes; and since art is, after a fashion, you'll pardon the expression, what I do, I gathered up and made and altered and distorted and clarified and jumped up and down on and set on fire and otherwise fucked with a whole bunch of 'em (maps, that is) and seeing as how I am privileged enough to call friends and colleagues some of the better writers in the known universe I put together a passle of those aforementioned altered and set ablaze and jumped on (two dimensional representations of the third dimension) maps and asked these friends and colleagues of mine for some interpretation; and voila! (and/or Euereka, whichever comes first), lo and behold, next thing you know, I've got me an art show (and a whole bunch of pictures & words to share with as many of y'all as would care to take a look). Matthew Mars, Los Angeles.
5: ASTRONOMY/a partial map of the Planets, Pluto conspicuously missing. The planets are a spaced out on the chart like flavors. You say it has to be this way because a good map would be insane.With earth the size of a dime, Jupiter would still be a thousand feet away; Pluto two miles and invisible to the naked eye. We look at Mars, point at Mars, touchMars. You sing, Newton, Huygens, Laplace, Kepler. I sing, Kingdom, Union, Chalice, Scepter. You sing, Tycho Brahe. I shout, He lost his nose in a duel! Got a new one made of gold and silver! You sigh, Heaven. What of Percival Lowell? We feel bad for not singing him. Between us we haven't the heart. He was so sure about the men and women of Mars, so sure they built canals; and schools and armies and an opera. If astronomy teaches anything, he said, it's that we’ll certainly meet our cousins scattered throughout space. We drink to Percival Lowell, we bow to Percival Lowell, we dim the lights and kiss but softly like neutrinos. It's too dark to see the chart. I sing Ptolomy, Messier, Hawking and Hubble. I whisper Galileo, Copernicus. You fumble on the night- stand for a candle, strike a match, pull me down. This light, you say, has traveled since the stars were in jail. It's come all this way to crash with us. Brendan Constantine, Los Angeles.
6: FLORIDA/red sea. In the graphic between maps and territories are launched laughs and tears. We communicate many lines. We are unsettled by keeping our boundaries as we are by releasing them. The love lingers as more than chemicals that tell us which way to go in silent ways. We turn to Acapulco ripped gold by busts in Miami. I dreamed you were a steam ship that could cut through these brain waves with the perfection of levitation. I have to go now to begin what took me a few minutes in the humidity. I am drenched by the drain of all the time spent severed from my roots which are not in representations, maps, but in this single territory. I have dreamt the uprooting as wild freedom when young, but I did not have a basis, forgetful of the foundation. So we are here the same with only the tradition of territory, ground, left behind for this levitation on the principle of communicating what memory can hurt for stored in the other place. This was your dream for me, steam ship, in another time of rolling dice to the steam punk display with hair gone kinky in the humidity. Please do not sway into the depths as you dance with me. I cannot swim for the life of me as I swoon once more in faith that you'll believe with me in territories more than maps. I shall overcome my fear of travel. "Become a lover and traveler," you say. It is inevitable, and the day crashes in as the world chimes in something holy said previously. Live among the bliss polished to this sweetness just for the moment for territories are multidimensional and need your charity, the experience instead of the relay, the representation. "Live now," you say. And I do. Beside you. Steam! Nelson Gary, Los Angeles.
11: FIND FEDEX LOCATIONS, Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Altar, Bone of contention Hotly contested real estate From time immemorial until now. Destroyed twice, besieged twenty three times Attacked fifty two times, Captured and recaptured forty four times – You remain, A question. Capitol of Israel, or Capitol of Palestine? You are now a capitol of commerce (world headquarters of FedEx). City of relics and remnants. Clash of cultures and customs, The Orthodox davenning at the Wailing Wall The Muslims praying at the Dome of the Rock The Christians ushering tourist groups On the Via Dolorosa. Under your Iron Dome Walled city, Center of the World Jerusalem, Jerusalem, City of the Great King, How he would have gathered you, As a hen gathers her chicks, But you would not. MICHAEL PAUL, Garden Valley.
12: ANCIENT WORLD. Oh, what a Mesopotamia! The cradle of civilization is also the source of major problems: Ideologically, politically, financially, materially, culturally. Perhaps the original greatness could have only been created from such a hotbed. I want it to be beautiful. I want to marvel at its splendor. Perhaps my own veil hasn't been lifted enough for all I see from here is conflict and anger. EWAN CHUNG, Fall’s Church.
15: UNITED STATES/from above. It's only 23 miles up. All you do is rise beyond the muggy evening and then fall into the desert night. Rise above the live oaks and loblollies, above the monarchs and geese beating against the Gulf Stream, above the feverish alluvial vat, into thunderhead, into ice. You might have to bend your fingers to steer between all the Boeings. Your breath will crystallize, and then you've reached the slow dark above the blue dazzle. This is the only hard part: you have to stay in place, not get stuck in geostationery orbit. To pass the time, you could count to fourteen thousand four-hundred or replay Lonesome Dove or all six Bach Cello Suites, or maybe repeat OK Computer or Psalm Twenty Three or OM in your mind, and just float. Or you might watch the once-majestic Blue Ridge continue dissolving into delta, naming the cities passing below as the Mississipi, Ozarks, prairie, mesas and hoodoos, and the High Sierras all turn towards sunrise. Then clasp hands and dive, twenty-three miles down through contrails, brushing the tops of sequoias making their passage eastward. Drop down through the weatherless signals from atop Mount Wilson, Tshirted skiers on Baldy. Let the internet data and the glorious fumes pass through your body and, one toe bent to keep yourself above the traffic of I-10, you'll alight onto the sands of Venice, neither thirsty, hungry, nor airport-weary, but with your mouth full of stars. KATHERINE WILLIAMS, Charleston.
16: ONE NATION UNDER GOD/one and a half worlds One day you'll be walking down the street and won't look up. Communication is key. The key to an American God. The people all look down, they don't see the national news. Broadcast has a three second delay. A delay of the mind, leaves a millisecond before it hits you, like a bus. A bus carrying more people to their misery. The light glows. The nation never knows, as the rains pour, the gods cry. Now your life, iPhone, and spirit have water damage. Matthew Mullins, Los Angeles.
21: WORLD CUT IN HALF & STUFFED W/RED LIGHTS, YOU ARE HERE. I grew up on a street corner known as Pico/Union. At the time this was considered the poorest and most violent neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles. This was due to the fact that it was the only territory in the city ruled by two gangs, 18th Street and Clanton, who fought over this area, blocks from the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Before the age of ten I witnessed violent death and a weekly barrage of gun fights, always knowing to jump to the floor and wait it out. I honestly did not know that this was not the way others lived. It’s not that I loved it, but it was definitely filled with a lot of drama, how could I not become a playwright? Growing up in this neighborhood offered few options. Gang life is a given and drugs are easily accessible. But I was destined for something else. Both of my parents worked multiple jobs. My mother came from a farmworker family and my immigrant father worked on the last of the ranches left in the city, in his case the Leffingwell Grove in Whittier. My father was a hardcore Catholic from Michoacan and my mother a Pentecostal from Delano in the Central California Valley. They respected this belief in each other and my two brothers, sister and I went to Saturday night services in the storefront Alleluia churches in Lincoln Heights, banging the tambourines and speaking in tongues and then on Sunday I helped the priests put on their vestments at Our Lady of Immaculate Conception up on 8th and Union, lighting the incense and preparing the sacristy. This was an outlet from gangs. I also joined a poor boy’s urban Boy Scout troop (#321) that consisted of fishing at MacArthur Park Lake and hiking at Griffith Park. There would be an announcement from the city and the lake would be filled with live fish. One time while we were fishing they found a body at MacArthur Park, home of the famous Jimmy Webb song and Donna Summer interpretation, and we were instead treated to lunch at Langer’s on 7th and Alvarado. Ah youth... So religion and Boy Scouts pretty much set a new path for me. I always wrote and the first play I penned, “True Stories from the Corner of Pico and Union”, a bit obvious I know, won second prize at the Inner City Cultural Center and I was given a paid internship at Warner Brothers. I say second place because what every really poor kid wants is the $500 first prize, but alas it was not for me. In the end the internship on a show called “Head of the Class” paid a lot more and I saved it to travel with a High School friend. I had never been on a plane, train or traveled outside of California except to Tijuana where my grandmother lived. My friend Laura and I went to Europe! We were seventeen and I don’t know how we convinced our parents to let us go, but they did. We went to Paris first. The first disaster was before the plane even landed. Yasser Arafat was still alive and his plane landed at the same time as ours did, so we had to wait while his security detail got him out of Charles De Gaulle Airport. When we arrived at our youthful European hostel, the attendant was watching Gary Coleman in a dubbed version of ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ (Quelle tes-vous parlant de Willis?). Finally on our first night out, we walked out of our hostel and saw two pitbulls in a bloody fight and no one around to stop them. We went to see an Eric Rohmer film in French, which neither of us spoke. There was a guy jacking off in the theatre, which both Laura and I had actually seen before at a theatre in downtown Los Angeles, so that felt not so weird. Finally on the way home, an intoxicated guy threw up on my foot on the metro. Europe was exactly like L.A. just older and people spoke funny. The universality was not lost on me. Nous sommes le monde. LUIS ALFARO, Ashland.
22: DARKNESS & LIGHT/ the transatlantic slave trade, MAAFA, the disaster, a diagram; the middle passage, a diorama; there are not words in English. there is only this map. author unknown.
27: SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY, Thomas Bros. Arterial Map I remember your days and nights of rain; every raindrop; beads a liquid abacus enumerating every joy I experienced while in your presence. Fulton, Haight, Broadway, Mission: your every street I wore like a second skin. All my old wounds stitched up clean by your sutures of salvation. Your every breath, your every beat became the gritty rhythm of my new existence. Your secret sins, saving graces, and live-wire jives: the hectic-electric map I followed deep into lyrical late-night, red-wine stumbles through North Beach alleyways. And on that fateful moon-howling midnight when you introduced me t o poetry and she asked me to take her as my bride my tongue did not falter. I simply said, Yes. Rich Ferguson, Los Angeles.
28: AFTER THE COLLAPSE The flooding was inevitable, and some were saying a tsunami was just days away. There was still a chance it wouldn’t hit So. Cal. but we needed to go. We packed the car, there was a lot of discussion from the kids about leaving – we just approached it as temporary. I selfishly wanted them all with me of course. My son Dave chose to stay in LA, thinking he could come later, he was conflicted and wasn’t so convinced it was as dire as everyone was predicting. “It’s like an earthquake. I wouldn’t leave because of an earthquake.” And there was a kind of calm acceptance he always has about things – even disaster.
29: My eldest Rose had friends heading north too so she arranged riding with Abby and Brendan as far as Big Sur. I thought they were crazy to be so close to the coast, but Rose had a deep connection to that coastline, and there was no talking her out of it. She would figure out meeting up with us later she said. I couldn’t imagine how, but she was not coming with us, that much I knew. My daughter Pilar’s husband Gabriel was concerned for his girls (from pervious marriages) and his mom. Graciella was in TJ and he hadn’t been able to reach her. It was incredible to watch how Gabe got all his daughters and mother safe over the course of 24 hours. Whether he would drive Pilar and Baby up with us was an understandable quandary. But Pilar needed to be with me, and I needed to be with my kids and my granddaughter. It was settled pretty quickly – as much of a rock as Gabe is, Pilar pretty much always gets her way. They were coming. My sister Betsy and her husband Bud and the twins were already on the road. They were a godsend, giving us road reports along the way, “No gas between Kettleman and Los Banos” “Ice in Weed.” That was, of course, when we were still able to get signals to text. Her son Kyle had just moved to Detroit with his bride. They took over a crumbling mansion and were building a restaurant on the bottom floor, which had been a ballroom back in the heyday. I mean, they had JUST moved a month ago. I ached for Bets’ I knew she was frantic to see him. Kyle was safe, but they were now in a separate world and no one knew – well we just had no way of knowing when we could see anyone on the other side again. My nephew Jacob, Betsy’s eldest son, and his family were in a compound with his wife’s family in the mountains near this side of Utah.
30: Larry saw this coming. He’d been reading on all the so-called crack pot sites through all of 2013 of severe astrological changes in April ’14. So, as crazy as it looked, he didn’t care, he was prepared. Not a true prepper – but he had been collecting supplies all year long and even invested in a high end battery operated generator. Our car was packed with everything we could have possibly needed. Larry even had a stack of floor tiles for the back hatch so Gleason The Bulldog could stay cool as we drove in the unbelievable heat caused by the crisis. You see, I had to get to my mom in Portland. My mom and my youngest sister Monique and her family were staying put right there in SE PDX, because if the flooding hit Portland, there would be warning, there would be time to make decisions, yes best to stay put. It was chaos out there on the roads with people fleeing in panic. We were not panicky, we were still in stunned mode. Doing what was in front of us, without giving too much power to the reality of the crisis we were living with the rest of the world. No, in some ways, you wouldn’t even have known anything huge had happened before we set out on our trip. We still bickered over the temperature in the car, I still told Larry to slow down, he still told me to hush, and we still wrestled control over the volume of the music. We listened to everything, from George Jones and Faron Young to the Beatles bootleg releases, the Lee Hazlewood boxset a friend of ours had produced, Wanda Jackson, David Sylvian, and some 40s mix I had on my phone that depressed us both -- we wiped out that feeling with an old Alice In Chains CD Larry had in the arm rest of the Ford. “Man In The Box” never sounded so hopeful.
31: I felt terrible for Larry. His mother was 79 years old and living by herself outside Atlanta. There were grandkids in the area, sure. But he was desperate to get to her, and there was no way he could. I wore a fleece shawl she gave me (after I had admired it on her) and prompted stories, gingerly, from Larry about his mom as we drove. We laughed out loud together at her smartass one liners. She was so much like my mom. They were the same age, the same era, falling in love with Elvis in the 50s, asserting their sexuality in the 60s, smoking pot in the 70s, maybe the last generation of true self made individuals. I liked Millie a lot. By sundown, we were almost in Redding. We could soon stop and see my friend Mary and her daughter and sleep for the night. She would give up her bed, and give us lots of pillows and cook bacon in the morning and share whatever she had. We would go on from her, to Portland, knowing that we would likely have nothing to return to in LA. ALLISON ANDERS, Los Angeles.
32: FROM AFRICA, looking north toward Prague. Praha is so little, “maly,” one of very few Czech words I know....I don't even see it on this globe but I sense it. Would it have been purple like a unique dragon sending its fire into the feisty Velvet Revolutionary past. Might it have been green, like moss, like Kermit's Rainbow connecting dreams and history. Might it have been technicolor for all the movies filmed there from Yentl to James Bond. Perhaps it's transluscent like a marble, reflecting everyone and everything that has rolled along its squares, Kafka, wishes, tanks, beer and blood. An ancient city where the new town began in 1348. My home for two school years while at FAMU, the place I look for when I see a globe. Ellyn Maybe, Los Angeles.
34: google maps/flesh By now the sheriff's locked the door- I might not live there anymore- I don't mind taking the long way home- too much trouble where I come from... brian grillo, los angeles.
35: BLUE WORLD, Mercator Projection Thank you, cartographers For flattening the world For the benefit of my comprehension Could you do the same for my life, please? Teresa Willis, Louisville.
37: a template for travel writers. We arrange to meet in places that don’t exist: Coffee in Burma, chicken cacciatore in Leningrad, tiramisu in that little place in New Amsterdam, the one where we kissed behind drawn curtains, became silhouettes in some black and white movie, the ones they play at night to make insomniacs feel more lonely. Sometimes we miss each other. You pinned a note to the buttocks of a statue in a park in Istanbul; apologies written in Esperanto spray-painted on a wall in Dana, Massachusetts, long, perfect lines of Braille, beautifully wrought, on the back of a menu in Abyssinia. Wish you were here, you write, in a postcard from Ceylon. The globe spins too fast. I would have called, but my voice was drowned out by motion, drum kettle cacophony that comes when love and history whiz past us. I’ve booked a hotel room in Siam, tickets to a production of “Cats” in Czechoslovakia, hollandaise-drenched eggs in Eldoradoville. Come quickly, you write, in a rushed, cramped hand, find a faster way to fly, find me before the maps rewrite themselves again. Victor Infante, Worchester.
38: THE WORLD, as it rolls across the driveway & comes to rest against the fence. Not an Atlas Shrugged joke. Not the North Pole at two o’clock. Not a gazing ball misadventure. Not the best way to prognosticate where the next, best strike will come. Not an error made while God played jacks with the universe. Not ribbed for your pleasure, her surfaces. Not widowed of axis, her kilter. Not pregnant with fiery juice, her core. Not craving her miscarried offspring, her moon. Not playing coy with her icy bottom. Not tossed away for a better Jupiter, or a shot at spontaneously generated Venus . Not a cheap quip about the abstract meeting the concrete. It took days and days for her to get across this stretch of the backyard. Time for the weeds to stretch up, embrace, and circumnavigate. Amélie Frank, Los Angeles.
40: MATTHEW MARS is an artist in Los Angeles. His work includes 5 chapbooks of poetry, many spoken word recordings, 4.5 albums fronting indie rock bands The Clear & Superman Loses the Girl, 6 years as editor & co-publisher (w/Amélie Frank) at Sacred Beverage Press, where he worked on books by the Carma Bums, francEyE, Ellyn Maybe, Erica Erdman & Elliott Baker, among others, as well as the biannual literary journal, “Blue Satellite,” production of the Molly Bryant album, “Take it Easy,” 5 years as the producer of Mr. Smith’s Stereo Club, a live music showcase at Highland Grounds in Hollywood, and “television 14:6,” a solo show of his photographs at Beyond Baroque in 2009. He is currently at work with producer Andrew Bush on his debut album as a solo artist; also, he is the proprietor of Matthew Mars Photography, which specializes in portrait work. His current show, WRITTEN ON THE WORLD: 21ST CENTURY CARTOGRAPHY explores the connections between maps & the real world through still & moving pictures, artifacts & found objects, digital media & text***.
41: * *** text contributors*** LUIS ALFARO is a playwright and Macarthur Foundation Fellow. ALLISON ANDERS is a filmmaker. Her work includes Gas Food Lodging, Grace of my Heart & Mi Vida Loca BRENDAN CONSTANTINE is a poet and teacher at Windward School. EWAN CHUNG is an actor, writer, producer & founding member of OPM, a comedy troupe. RICH FERGUSON is a poet & spoken word performer & editor at The Nervous Breakdown. AMELIE FRANK is a poet andthe recipient of Beyond Baroque's Distinguished Service Award. NELSON GARY is a novelist and poet and former tennis champion. BRIAN GRILLO is the former lead singer of seminal queercore rockers Extra Fancy. VICTOR INFANTE is a poet and journalist. He blogs at INFANTE’S INFERNO. ELLYN MAYBE is a poet and musician, and leader of the POETRY RODEO. MATTHEW MULLINS is the former editor of the Collegian at LACC and current editor of UNDERGROUND VOICE. MICHAEL PAUL is a poet and illustrator and exile from behind the orange curtain. KATHERINE WILLIAMS is a poet & scientist & surfer somewhere east of here. TERESA WILLIS is a playwright, poet & musician. Her play EENIE MEANIE has been produced in Los Angeles, Louisville & Edinburgh.