Ah… Coffee. More on this after a few other items…
It has been a good week here at Caer Llwydd in that Rowan has settled in with Suzanne from their European adventure, and that Mary is working with me on publishing projects. The 9th edition of The Invisible College Magazine is getting there, and there will be two new books soon to be released on Invisible College Publications. Heady times.
I have been watching what moves, and what doesn’t on this site. It’s interesting that the visual blog gets more hits than say, The Hare’s Tale, or the archives. I guess this has to do with immediacy, or as I post the dopamine rush with the visual. Just to say, you’ll find gems here, and in the archives, as rough as they are. Check them out if you get a chance.
More art, music and poetry coming soon.
On The Menu:
Brendan Perry: Cresent
Coffee, Part 1
Poetry: Gerard de Nerval
Brendan Perry: Song To The Siren
The Video Game Example
Political Gridlock Over The Gravy
Paul Stamets on Joe Rogan (Long!)
Stars From The Dreamtime
The Trojan Boat?
Playing Both Sides…
So… as I update my Gwyllm-Art.com site, I will just put these here for now
Weird set up for a site, but you can find 12 of my art pieces now available as canvas prints, wall hangings, pillows, coffee cups and much more! I have held off doing this, but these are fun, and functional items that can enliven ones home with. Check it out!
They’re Back! The Gwyllm Art Desk CalendarS!
Now for 2018!
I so enjoy getting them out there to people who enjoy my art. The desk size and the wall size share the same images this year, so you can’t go wrong! If you enjoy them, please spread the word!
Desk Calendar Link!
Wall Calendar Link!
Brendan Perry – Crescent
This wee article on coffee was spurred a couple of weeks ago by our retrieving from storage a small krupps espresso machine that we bought when we moved to the US from the UK in 1986-87. Although with yers truly being very rusty with the technique I managed to turn out a very decent cappuccino on the first run. This experience and the experiences with making espresso or cappuccinos in the morning for everyone at Caer Llwydd sent me down a pathway of memories intimately tied up with the magick bean…
My experiences with coffee occured when I was, perhaps 4, or 4.5 years old. It is indeed the gateway drug of my life. Not sugar (that would come later), not alcohol (I would have to wait until I was 13) or any of the other myriad plants and compounds I have explored over the years. It is a tale that is tied to family history, and to perhaps what has shaped me into the person I am.
I was introduced to coffee by my mother. Yes, she was my dealer. At that tender young age, she started to make me toast, with a soft boiled egg laid on top, and then coffee with milk poured over it. Yes, I know, strange. I have tried to figure this concoction out over the years.
Who thought this up? Was it someone in the railroad that my grandfather worked for, and he brought it home? Was this strange recipe something that had came down from the family in Northern Ireland?
Was it perhaps served with tea at one time and then coffee was substituted along the way? Was it by accident, somewhere in the hoary past a family member spilled their coffee over their egg and toast and decided “Hey, this rocks. Let’s give it to the kids!?!” Haven’t a clue. Such a mystery. It is lost now in the dust that is time’s remnants. I remember still though sitting in the kitchen in NewFoundland, on a bright sunny morning and being transported by the flavour and the caffeine to this day.
I enjoyed this concoction for years. I graduated to drinking coffee a few years later, but to get someone really hooked, ya gotta make sure they have a foundation of use. There I was, around 7 or 8 having half a cup of coffee before I sped down the street to school, and usually crashing just after lunch. A pattern really developed with those early forays in consciousness expansion. Super focused in the morning, a complete loss for the rest of the day until I got home and had a coca cola, which where sugar started to come into this caffeine mix.
As it occurs, life carried on through my youth. Graduated to a cup a day, then two a day on the weekend. A pattern emerged in my life with stimulants. You might catch my drift here. I was becoming acclimated to being altered chemically.
Life had grown progressively weird in that mid 60’s way, when my parents generation found out that they could get divorced finally without moving to Nevada or going to Mexico. My parents were not the happiest of souls together after moving to the States. Their divorce had the effect of confusing and grieving me as well as opening the doors of doubt and introspection that turned into the beginnings of self awareness and self observation. Still gettings one’s footing as a young person then was challenging. (This of course is through my eyes and thoughts. More than likely it is no different for anyone, born anytime.)
My youth was strange enough without those added little bits, and as I was already on a path of my own having bounced around from the different parents homes… I decided finally that I could probably do better on my own. So, slowly I would be gone for a weekend, and then a week, until I left home, and started living on the streets, sleeping in the budding communes emerging, and started to migrate back and forth to the West Coast for the first time via Freight Trains. (I have written about this elsewhere.)
My first job of any import as a young adult was as a barista in an old beat coffee house turned folk club “The Green Spider” on 17th and Pearl 2 or 3 doors down from The Folk Lore Center in Denver back in the summer of 1966. It was a very exciting time for me… such freedom!
Anyway, the Green Spider. I hung out enough and drank enough espresso that somehow I got hired on to work in what passed for a kitchen. I started out with cleanup, and prep. This included coming in an hour or two before the Spider opened and turning on the old italian machine so that the steam would build up enough. Those early hours before customers came in were pure magic.
I first learned to make fruit and cheese plates (exotic!) and slowly learned how to make espresso on that grand old Italian machine. There were some 12 different coffee drinks, I mastered a few, cappuccinos, espresso obviously, and some of the layered drinks.
As The Green Spider had transitioned to a degree into a folk club, there was an eclectic mix. College kids of course, some older teenagers but a lot of the regulars were old Beats who still came in out of habit. When I mean old, I mean people in their late 20’s to early 40’s. To me the were the venerable old wise ones. You could come in and nurse a cup of coffee all night if you liked, and pay no more than a quarter if I recall. People came and went all night, but the regulars would hang out to all hours as the music played.
When the music stopped, i.e. whoever had gotten up on stage and did their numbers (numerous Bob Dylan & Joan Baez, Judy Collins clones, with some real talented people as well) I had to leave the kitchen, coffee maker and go up on stage and perform. I can be fairly spontaneous, but who really wanted a 14/15 year old kid with a harmonica or jew’s harp warbling away? I would be quickly replaced by someone who had a bit more talent and the night would carry on. Being in close proximity to the FolkLore Center gave the old place a bit of local cache for talent. Sometimes Harry Tufts would come down from the FLC and play. I understand he is still playing shows after all of these years. He must be in his mid 80’s now. What a talented and kind person.
I didn’t work for money. I worked for room and board, meaning all of the coffee I could consume, and the fruit and cheese plates with backed bread. For room, I slept on the stage after we closed at night, sometimes midnight, or as late as 4-5 in the morning. It was an interesting place.
When I didn’t sleep on stage, I would sleep in a broken down 1951 Hudson Hornet out back. I shared it with my friend Roberto Apodaca, a Mayan who had gone to school I believe up in Boulder or DU. He had a beautiful German girlfriend that he quarreled a bit with, hence his sleeping rough in the Hornet. He spoke several languages fluently, and was an incredibly charismatic and handsome person, kind and sharing.
Coffee House life suited me. I met all types of people. One that sticks out was a biker who had just gotten out of prison and who was hanging around. He would come in and talk, always looking over his shoulder, tense. One evening he came in, jumpier than ever. I was whacking away at a loaf of bread with a knife when he asked very quietly, “Please put down the knife”. I looked at him and explained, I had to prep the bread boards. He had a pen out waving it in my general direction.. “Please put the knife down, you are making me nervous” he said even more strained than before. I looked at the pen and realized it wasn’t a pen as there was rifling going down inside the rather open end that he was pointing at me. This was my first introduction to the dark side of gun culture… I froze, the supervisor froze, and the Biker put the pen gun away. He started to converse again as if nothing had occurred. I walked away slowly to the toilet, and composed myself. When I came back, our nervous friend had gone and the supervisor turned to me and said “Damn speed freaks”, and we continued into the night working away. Our Biker came back frequently as if nothing had gone down. He did get more and more paranoid until one night he just disappeared into the streets not to be seen at the coffee house again. I expect he hit high weirdness and had to follow it to its conclusion.
The Green Spider served as a base for me whenever I was in and out of Colorado over the next couple of years. I always had a place to stay, an espresso to drink and friends to meet. My first real intellectual conversations took place there. I was by far the youngest person around, but I was treated with respect, and looking back now with they all provided me a certain type of love and protection.
The Life I first found in Coffee Houses were as revolutionary to me as they were in England in the 1700’s. Then they were a bustling scene with poets, singers, songsters and revolutionaries. I found my intellectual footing there, a certain aesthetic that would lend itself to my endeavours over the years. I don’t hang out at coffee houses now days. The one thing you notice now days is everyone is ensconced with a laptop, or a smart phone. Conversation is at a minimum. The spark seems to have fled (at least locally, but there is hope yet!). No more a hot bed of discourse and music, with over stuffed chairs in the corner with magazines and newspapers from around the world. No more cats wandering around. An icon of dissent, discourse, and social change defanged, at least for the present time. Coffee Houses have waxed and waned over the years, and there is still a chance for them to revive I think.
Next installment will cover coffee in my life later on…
Berkeley/North Beach/Venice/Amsterdam/London & Back Again
I hope you have enjoyed this part.
Gerard de Nerval Poems:
It is of you, divine enchantress, I am thinking, Myrto,
Burning with a thousand fires at haughty Posilipo,
Of your forehead flowing with an Oriental glare,
Of the black grapes mixed with the gold of your hair.
From your cup also I drank to intoxication,
And from the furtive lightning of your smiling eyes,
While I was seen praying at the feet of Iacchus,
For the Muse has made me one of Greece’s sons.
Over there the volcano has re-opened, and I know
It is because yesterday you touched it with your nimble toe,
And suddenly the horizon was covered with ashes.
Since a Norman Duke shattered your gods of clay,
Evermore beneath the branches of Virgil’s laurel,
The pale hydrangea mingles with the green myrtle!
(Myrtho a shining mask of Venus Murcia to whom myrtle was sacred, is the counterpart to the dark prince of El Desdichado. Alchemically she is De Nerval’s feminine principle to be fused with the masculine. Iacchus was an epithet of the god Dionysus (Bacchus) and the name of the torch-bearer at the Eleusinian mysteries, herald of the child born of the underworld.)
An Old Tune
There is an air for which I would disown
Mozart’s, Rossini’s, Weber’s melodies, –
A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
And keeps its secret charm for me alone.
Whene’er I hear that music vague and old,
Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
A green land golden in the dying day.
An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
The windows gay with many coloured glass;
Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
That bathe the castle basement as they pass.
In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
A lady looks forth from her window high;
It may be that I knew and found her fair,
In some forgotten life, long time gone by.
Well, then! All is sentient!
Free-thinker, Man, do you think you alone
Think, while life explodes everywhere?
Your freedom employs the powers you own,
But world is absent from all your affairs.
Respect an active spirit in the creature:
Each flower is a soul open to Nature;
In metal a mystery of love is sleeping;
‘All is sentient!’ Has power over your being.
Fear the gaze in the blind wall that watches:
There is a verb attached to matter itself…
Do not let it serve some impious purpose!
Often a hidden god inhabits obscure being;
And like an eye, born, covered by its eyelids,
Pure spirit grows beneath the surface of stones!
Trembling Kneph, the god, shook the starry ways:
Isis, the mother, then raised herself from her bed,
Made, to her savage spouse, a sign of hatred,
In her green eyes shone the passion of elder days.
‘Do you see him, she cried, the old lecher dies;
Through his mouth the frosts of earth take flight;
Bind his lame feet, destroy his squinting sight,
He’s the god of craters, king of the winter’s ice!
The new spirit summons, the eagle is done,
Cybele’s robe for him do I now put on…
The beloved son of Hermes and Osiris!’
The goddess fled away on her golden shell,
Her adored image returning to us on the swell,
And the sky shone beneath the scarf of Iris.
Note: This poem is a consequence of the two previous poems. Kneph, is Amon-Ra the great god of Egypt. Isis was the Egyptian mother goddess (Cybele was her equivalent in Asia Minor): consort of Osiris she bore the child Horus-Harpocrates, the new sun (De Nerval’s image here for the Christ-Child). This is the alchemical fusion of male and female principles which produces gold, a process sacred to Hermes Trismegistus. Iris’ scarf is the rainbow, she being sky-messenger for Hera (the Greek great-goddess). Isis returns as Venus from the waves but fused with Mary, the Stella Maris.
Brendan Perry Cover of Tim Buckley