4/5 …wearing drenched red flannel shirt and orange pants, I blow water out of the trumpet as Dale paddles / “You’re worrying me,” he says as I lean way back, lean way forward, imitating Miles Davis at summer camp, the horn farting / after we tie up, I burst dripping out of the boathouse, race back to Studies Building, pile sodden clothes on life jacket in center of room, change, and return to the stage ten minutes before our show-time, exhale / other events are well underway on a clear night: white fabric dangles from tree, dry ice smokes on grass near dining hall, quilt with legs undulates, huge red balloon on a pole flanks entrance road, in The Roundhouse volunteers with mallets bash piano strings, and what appear to be giant hoop skirts (lemon, red, peach) flit around the twilight shore…

In the following clip Dale Williams sings my epic few-word text “Circus runs away from boy”:


4/5 Plan is to canoe to boathouse from small island at 8:15 and begin performing at 9:00, my collaborator Dale Williams paddling as I play long heraldic trumpet notes…but as we shove off on schedule…canoe tilts sideways…trumpet and I plunge into cold lake water…disaster!

In the following clip I exhibit symptoms of trauma in “Follow that blue hubbard squash”:


4/4 Green WARD 3 sign on the door to the suite where our room is / goal: to make the life and the art one—art life, life an art / we begin constructing tent of images slung from boathouse beams, battling wind, visited by Rusty the dog and a boy on a dirt bike, Caleb who tells of the Great-Gatsby-themed New Year’s Eve party his NC parents hosted / another 12 Bones lunch, Whitman’s sampler of flesh: smoked turkey, brisket, pulled chicken, tugged pork / in parking lot gravel near stacks of smokehouse wood (cherry, apple) a kid cries at his parents “Come see my show!” and they ignore him / return to job of building tent and who walks by but an Ohio man wearing a nametag reading MICE; he is staying at the Gray Eagle Lodge, here for a barbershop quartet gathering, and tells me: “When I sing a locked chord I feel it ringing in my core…”

In the following clip Dale Williams performs the blues aria “Walk a mile in my fifteen shoes”:


4/3 Lunch at 12 Bones in the Asheville River Arts District: collards, ribs, cheesy grits eaten outdoors off a tin plate at a picnic table under a corrugated roof next to the parking lot, wind whipping dust, gnawing firemen at a nearby table, $1.25 key lime pie / Julia White Jeans at Appalachian Strings in downtown Asheville hands me an upright dulcimer I strum, Ben Ho, yodeling a few bars of “Blue Hawaii” / we tour Thomas Wolfe memorial: I note new darker rocking chairs on porch of Old Kentucky Home donated by famous NC writers (including Clyde Edgerton) and bump into the same jolly lanky guy who gave me the tour last year (he recognizes my tropical shirt) / buy teensy elephant candle at French Broad Co-op plus carrots / pick up magic keys from Erin and Alice at the BMC Museum / computer broken at gas station, I suggest the befuddled cashier jot an old-style receipt on the back of a paper bag, she does / 78 hour Lake Eden odyssey begins! First sight of the stone Round House where Cage premiered “4’33” and the screened-in Dining Hall where Buckminster Fuller acted and De Kooning erected sets. Our keys open the Studies building and the double room with cigarette burns clouding floor wood.

In the following clip Dale Williams and I serenade the campus of the old Black Mountain College with a love song:


4/2 …vision of a man buckling his seat belt during an accident, while the car is flipping. Who is he, that consummate adjuster? Me? / south of Roanoke spot first blooming trees I’ve seen this spring, and yellow conflagrations of forsythia / vision of a mountaintop hamlet of storm-traumatized sailors seeking highest driest ground / Bristol, Tennessee harmonic sprawl / Seat-sore hips threaten to add a verb to the English language: sjkorblefluttle / the artist’s eye = the eye that holds things in place / mountains pull closer as we enter NC at a steep angle / Asheville bricks! Haywood Street! Upgraded to King’s suite! Gas fireplace! Trout on the terrace! Shower acreage!

In the following clip I deliver a royal monologue based on my few-word story “Hamlet skips performance, swims instead”:


4/2 We start calling the black backdrop behind the stage the “blackdrop”…Bascom Lunsford tunes on the rental car CD player, songs stripped to the bare knuckles of a voice and a few silver strings. His “Banejo,” he calls it. The plucked notes and the sung notes collide as well as blend and that to me is their prime power, the collision of the individual lament with the pre-existing melody. This vocal strength of weightlessness! And it is the strongest strength. Feeling blowing through [ostensibly slight] lyrics doesn’t bring the song down, the song survives the ordeal of its re-birth—re-configuration—as in a forest a frail-looking leaf endures intact the same storm that rends tree trunks to splinters.

In the following clip Dale Williams owns my few-word story “Cage dies bird flies”:


I am back in suddenly spring-like New York City (daffodils, daffodils) and continuing to relish the profound experience of performing at the annual {Re}HAPPENING festival last weekend.

Feast your eyes on a video documenting the tent of Cage Die Bird Flies images/texts that painter Dale Williams and I erected on the campus of Black Mountain College in North Carolina on April 4. The body of water is Lake Eden. The trees inspired me to dream of a man wearing pine cone buttons. The wind was not our friend at first, but we negotiated a delicate truce soon enough, and for the duration of the event the next night, this structure proved to be a trustworthy cocoon for our vaudevillian songs, monologues, dances.

Next week I’ll be posting more documentation of our trip and its many marvelous ramifications.