Rolling to Big Sur

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“Rolling to Big Sur” is a conglomeration of images from driving the Pacific Coast Highway, hiking Big Sur and many, many years as an endurance athlete.

Rolling to Big Sur

1.

beyond trashed beaches and splintered piers, past windmills and castles, the two-lane road rolls on and on…

2.

snakes between mountains and waters into the horizon, and on the other side of the mountains and waters rolls on and on; miles of grapes plump as plums in perfectly aligned rows are hidden by mountains; obscured by the lip of a cliff, sea lions the size of tree trunks lie at the edge of the waters barking.

3.

this road is not meant for speed.

4.

with 21 miles in the books, kevin’s calves feel as though they’d been injected with napalm. kevin waits for his calves to explode while Martinez plays Titles on the piano 200′ above crashing surf.*

5.

a diamond-shaped sign, an expanse, a sudden drop into the sea. kevin squints at flecks on the water.

6.

it is impossible to smell eucalyptus and monterery pine at 60 mph, even at 30 mph in a convertible, or to distinguish the scent of silver lupine from checker bloom living among the expanse of sea grass.

7.

flecks in the blue-green water are surfers bobbing on white-caps like corks in a bathtub with a two-year-old.

8.

the diamond-shaped sign is painted yellow; in black letters it reads To Hell and Back.

 

                  jim brennan

  • Pianist Michael Martinez plays the grand piano each year at mile 13.1 of the Big Sur International Marathon.

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Cleanse

“… climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir

 

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Take a Moment… Be Thankful

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerso

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Enduring Words Will Guide Us Through

There is no more appropriate time than today, the 153rd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at Soldier’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to share the enduring message of our country’s values that Lincoln summarized in the opening and closing of his historical two-minute speech:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…

… it is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln’s message was expressed peacefully and respectfully last night by Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President Aaron Burr in Hamilton, to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who left the theater during Dixon’s address. The President-elect described the incident as harassment and demanded an apology from the cast for respectfully asking that the new administration represent all of the people as Lincoln put forth in our nation’s guiding principles and values. 

 

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Father & Son

“I saw my old man, an incapacitated old man, get up from his medical chair and dance in front of the speakers.” – Adam Cohen about his father’s reaction when they listened to Leonard’s new album You Want It Darker in his hospital room. Adam produced the album.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-8-26-08-amLeonard Cohen and Adam speak at an event for the release of You Want It Darker. Frank Micelotta/Courtesy of the artist

My belief that you learn a lot about a person by their children was reinforced when I listened to World Cafe’s Talya Schlanger interview with Leonard Cohen’s son Adam. The interview begins with Talya asking, “Adam, Leonard Cohen produced you, and you produced this record…,”and Adam, humble like his father, says he believed he started as the coffee boy on the project and somehow, unexpectedly, rose to producer.

In complimenting Adam, Talya says about You Want It Darker, “You can hear every cigarette he ever smoked, every woman he ever loved…” and Adam answers that he had very little to do with it. He credits his father with knowing his craft so intimately he made everyone believe that although he was in acute discomfort and pain, he was able to get inside every molecule of every note. In deep admiration, Adam refers to his father as “this beautiful man who devoted his life to his craft.”

Listen to Talya Schlanger’s interview with Adam Cohen about his father Leonard and producing You Want It Darker.

http://n.pr/2erQ4Ml

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Leonard Cohen hooked me in the 1970s when I heard him on Gene Shay’s folk music show on the Philadelphia public radio station. Immediately, it was his deep, sensual voice, but underneath were the lyrics of a poet. The first song I remember hearing was Susanne…

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.
*
and I realized that Cohen touched something above us to create such lyrics. That’s how I know that Leonard will remain with us.

More on Leonard Cohen at Hallelujah.

 

 

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Hallelujah

If it be your will / That I speak no more /And my voice be still / As it was before
I will speak no more / I shall abide until / I am spoken for / If it be your will
   Leonard Cohen, from If It Be Your Will

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Leonard Cohen: September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016

Leonard Cohen, Poet: always honest; always authentic; always stunning.

 

From Cohen’s poem:

Titles

I had the title Poet
and maybe I was one
for a while
Also the title Singer
was kindly accorded me
even though
I could barely carry a tune
For many years
I was known as a Monk
I shaved my head and wore robes
and got up very early
I hated everyone
and no one found me out
My reputation
as a Ladies’ Man was a joke
It caused me to laugh bitterly
through the ten thousand nights
I spent alone
From a third-storey window
above the Parc du Portugal
I’ve watched the snow
come down all day

 

Leonard Cohen, singer/songwriter: magical lyrics of a poet.

from his song:

Everybody Knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

 

Leonard Cohen, gone too soon at eighty-two, will live forever,

Hallelujah!

 

Leonard Cohen On Poetry, Music and Why He Left The Zen Monastery.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/102692227/102700888

 

 

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Just Suppose

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

 

say…

 

you excuse his depiction of

an entire ethnic group as rapists,

murderers and drug dealers, and say

 

you get past the insults he’d slung at

the Senator who spent five years

as a prisoner of war; now say

 

you find a tiny space in your heart

to forgive him for demeaning women

in the most disparaging terms imaginable,

 

and dismiss his solution to mass shootings

is to put guns in kindergarten classrooms

as mere jest while you struggle to digest

 

his comparison of the sacrifices he’d made

constructing tall buildings with opulent

boardrooms and gilded bathrooms

 

with the parent’s loss of a child who

made the ultimate sacrifice fighting

for his freedom to prosper. Say

 

you pardon these transgressions figuring

he must be a policy genius, and at the debate

his position on immigration, terrorism

 

and healthcare are devoid of substance;

he stutters and cunningly says,

Trust me.

 

Just suppose at the bottom of the swamp

lie the champion of alt-right bigots and

lobbyists and debunkers of science last seen

 

posing for Norman Rockwell

reminiscing the 1960s

longing to go home, and these same

 

white men settle into a white house

on Pennsylvania Avenue as strategist,

advisors and members of the cabinet.

 

Juxtapose it’s 2020: all of the crops have dried up,

shelves are full of domestic goods no one can afford,

immigrants like our forefathers no longer come.

 

Perhaps we’d be great again

if it were the 1960s.

 

Just say.

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