The Intellectuals at Okie’s Bar

Gus Blaisdell NM 1969 ©Arthur Lazar

Gus 1969 © Arthur Lazar

The Intellectuals at Okie’s Bar                                                                                                 for Gus Blaisdell

They are lovers of their own distortions                                                                               who sit in such darkness    music                                                                                     steaming about them                                                                                                                                                     beer swelling                                                                                       their muscles / sense and temperance                                                                                   tortured into hours of speech                                                                                                 to dowse their minds’ reflection                                                                                                                                                                  Ocean at night                                                     leaps up in tongues of green illuminated                                                                                 spume    and dies on sand                                                                                                       A residual humor flaps its wings                                                                                             evacuates into air                                                                                                                                                     The bar is                                                                                       headquarters for difficult gymnastics

There is nothing outside but stars                                                                                       and a sliced moon    cold now in Novermber that                                                                     arrogant Heaven peopled by the dead                                                                               Cars wearing holsters cruise                                                                                                   the boulevard                                                                                                                                                      at one with those harmonious                                                                         seasons and cycles to which                                                                                                   the balls of drunks aspire:                                                                                                                                                        to be contained                                                                           in Purpose     molten fluid pouring                                                                                 through strict cylinders                                                                                                                                                        to arrive at                                                                                       the laurel bush at last     completely relieved                                                                         done with hessian duty      into the arms                                                                                 of a goddess more woman than ghost

We are not the mob that coils                                                                                           around Fortune’s rim     Snake eyes                                                                                     inhabit our bones                                                                                                                                                             seeing fumes                                                                             canopy all gay processions (prophesy also                                                                         the pit where brains are buried)                                                                                                                                                      so we refuse                                                                       to march                                                                                                                                                         hippity-hop through Hell instead                                                                       our toes quick                                                                                                                                                           as red coals                                                                                             spend our laughter in heads of foam                                                                               matching the need for                                                                                                                                                                    bright occasions

Gene Frumkin (1928-2007)                                                                                                  from Clouds and Red Earth     Swallow Press

***First published in The Only Journal of the Tibetan Kite Society, 1969                                    edited by Howard McCord , The Tribal Press

I KNOW A MAN

In 2002, a year before his death, Gus wrote the bio below to accompany his poems included in  IN COMPANY: an anthology of New Mexico Poets after 1960

                                                                                      photo by Nicole Blaisdell Ivey

Gus Blaisdell for twenty-seven years ran an “alternative to an absence,” the Living Batch Bookstore, always close to the Frontier Restaurant. He continues to teach film at the University of New Mexico. He runs a small press, Living Batch Books , that continues to present his alternative to absences. A special line of his books is called Drive, He Said, after Creeley’s poem “I Know A Man.”

Message from Momaday

A note from Pulitzer prize-winning author,N. Scott Momaday, discussing                       GUS BLAISDELL COLLECTED (Gus was editor on Momaday’s second book,                     The Way to Rainy Mountain, published by UNM press).

Dear Nicole,The book is a clear mirror of the man. It is beautiful and moving. Gus and I made a legendary journey to Rainy Mountain in the hard weather that shapes mind and memory. It was a quest, a journey eminently worth making.With deepest thanks.Scott

DISCUSSING GUS at UNM bookstore Wednesday December 5th at 4pm

A chance meeting in a bookstore

From Vincent Borrelli, Bookseller

I met Gus Blaisdell about thirty years ago – a chance meeting in a bookstore. I was photographing on my first cross-country road trip and I landed in Albuquerque at The Living Batch. Gus showed me Park City by Lewis Baltz. What he didn’t mention is that he wrote the essay for the book – one of the most brilliant essays I’ve ever read about photography and art.

Park City (and a few other influential books) heralded a seismic shift in photography. This astonishing work, which came to be known as the New Topographics, allowed us view the landscape with a new sense of passion, longing, and dread. The style continues to be widely emulated, letting some of us forget the vitality and authority of the original images.

Doors of Memory and Desire

 Photographer Arnold Gassan and Gus Blaisdell 1962-63 in Denver, Colorado                  Stockyard Earth                    

                                                                                Photograph by Robert Voy Stark
NOTES ON THE FILM (GASSAN-BLAISDELL)
Tenative title:   DOORS OF MEMORY AND DESIRE.
Chippewa Poem:
You are Walking around
Trying to remember
What you promised.
But you can’t remember.
I am walking around, trying to remember what I promised, but I can’t remember.
 Can the narration run in a kind of counter-point to the images: first as, say, a description of what  will happen next visually; then as a description of what is or has just happened–  but always keeping to the tone of a specious present.
Camera catches M putting on cracked and broken shoes,
lacing them slowly, hastily, angrily. The laces break.
The foot kicks the shoes off. A hand reaches into the frame,
picks between the toes, moves out of frame.
“I have been walking, too long, too swiftly, sometimes much too swiftly
and much too slowly.”
Camera catches man as he moves towards table.
 I have been walking around, trying to remember what I promised, but I can’t remember…can’t  remember what I desired, what I promised…what it was that I desired so much that it made me  promise…whatever it was I did promise.
Perhaps this is because I’m not used to promising,
to desiring, to remembering even.

GUS BLAISDELL COLLECTED

Image

GUS BLAISDELL COLLECTED

Cover photo by Nicole Blaisdell Ivey