Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

Morning. Nikas.  And E, who no longer works here full-time is, even so, filling in for Alexandra. There is different weather in this eatery’s atmosphere: the waitress with the mostest is on the floor and in session. Meanwhile, with London Lunar, there has been no end of whispering; he is now on about glamour piano. Glamour piano, so far as I can make out, is an endeavour of the human soul in which the pianist decks his or her self out in red allure and works the pedals bare of foot. It apparently did not detract from a certain performance of Pictures at an Exhibition, a piece of music I have not heard in eons and which I always associate with rainy mornings in Vancouver, BC; with the smells of Chinese cooking; with loggers and miners on a binge; with rubbies, for the sheer irony of it, attempting to flag a cab; with blondes wearing tams on billboards. Enough. I continue on with my man Thomas Craven and the book he wrote entitled Men of Art. It is an unfortunate title in some respects. I will not go into any of the conceivable PC aspects of it; just to say it comes off sounding like something one might read on the cover of one of those old news weeklies that are dropping like flies from whatever geist it was one used to take for granted. The last few pages of the book I have just read do not amount to much more than a general survey of certain Italian masters, painters like Andrea del Castagno and Piero della Francesca and Mantegna; but if nothing else, the survey does reawaken my old love of Italian painting and rescues it from pizza ads. Despite London Lunar and his whispering, despite art and music (my ongoing and ill-advised adventures with the guitar), what has had me by the short hairs is politics yet again. One might reasonably conclude I am a political creature, which I decidedly am not. Even so, there was the ‘speech’ last night, and the spectacle of a Chief Executive for whom there were not enough hands to shake – there in the august House. The speech did not strike my ears as anything remarkable, though, but of course, I easily enough could have missed something. It did not cause me to lay the guitar down on which I was fooling with a Tarrega piece. (One fine day, I might get the better of this piece.) There was nothing in the speech that would prompt me to write P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, a note of apology for the rant I had earlier dumped in his inbox, to do with the last God knows how many years of collective hubris and imperial malfeasance. It is one thing – a spirited public, and quite another – all that rah rah stuff on personal best steroids. And, as much as Mr Hedges, in his person, puts me off (the man is a Pulitzer-winning journo who writes a weekly screed for Truthdig), I have, even so, been following his court cases in which he has challenged the American government on various matters, including the right to due process under the law, and whether or not the military, as in many police states, shall trump the beat cop on domestic streets. Perhaps my political funk was deepened by the fact of a movie I rented, the other night, against my better judgment. How low had I sunk? The thing is called Flight. It is the odyssey of an airline pilot who likes to drink a lot and ingest cocaine – even in the course of his piloting; who burns up all his nine lives and the affections of his friends. Then, at long last, redemption. It is bound to come, because down there, it is the game of the day, and anyone gets to play. It is somehow a swansong echo of the inalienable right to happiness. It will kick in at some point in the bloodstream and then everything’s cool, man. When the cure becomes indistinguishable from the disease – it is drollery that Livy foisted on his readership in the opening salvo of his history of Rome, and he was taking a collegial swipe at early imperial times. The flick, at least, gave the old deus ex machina gambit a new lease on life: pilot’s drug supplier keeps popping into the plot at opportune moments when the hero is incapacitated but needs a pick me up so as to go out there and cut a figure. I have to say I preferred this behavioural tack to the getting-to-be fascistic pieties of AA. More reason to droll: when the cure is indistinguishable from the disease. I happened to catch by chance a few minutes of the Kenyan presidential debate, and the one thing that was so glaringly obvious: how well-spoken each of the candidates were – to a man, and this would include the lone woman on the slate, whatever their actual politics, none of which I understood. How well-spoken in contradistinction to the primary debates of a recent campaign of which I have dim memories. Now, is art, as per Havelock Ellis, really the world remade to the heart’s desire? Sounds like an ad for ice cream—E sashays about with coffeepot. She aims to please. She herself expects to be totally and awesomely pleased on some level at some point in her existence, no question—