Thursday, 26 July 2007

Dreamin' of California, Ferlinghetti and Steve McQueen's blue eyes

E mail from Boo recently (Beloved Only Offspring) from San Francisco. ‘Do you want me to bring you back anything in particular ?’ she asks. Yes, California sun, cloudless blue skies, shining water in the bay, trolley cars on hills, the hippie ghosts of Height Ashbury drifting against a backdrop of the Mama and Papas singing California Dreamin, Beat poets reading in dark coffee shops.

The rain and grey skies are beginning to make me feel a similar colour. As people are supposedly meant to grow to look like their dogs can you also grow to look like your weather? There has to be some fantasy I can retreat into to raise me above the water table. I have tried to remember how miserably hot it was last year when I was in the States, 98 degrees and high humidity. I recall staggering into air-conditioned shops and pulling on the coolness like an oxygen mask. I lingered and dwelt on the retail experience just to forget that later you would be spat out of the revolving door onto a hot slab of sizzling pavement. I have been trying hard to remember how I swore I would never complain about rain and cold ever again. I try but I can’t quite summon up the vehemence of my promise.

‘Go to City Lights Bookstore and buy me a Ferlinghetti’ I request ‘preferably signed by him’ I add just to make the task more of a quest; so much more interesting than a duty. I am practising hard at becoming an elderly demanding mother who will only drink out of china cups and who will bring their own specific brand of bed linen when I come to stay for Christmas. Ferlinghetti will keep me fired up when I start to become a boring old fart ( if that stage has already not been reached I wonder as I use my Tesco Card and check my standing orders online). He and those other beat poets will make me remember that poetry can be full of heat and burn up the oxygen in the room with words.Born on Coney island, perhaps Ferlinghetti had the roller coaster mentality from birth as he wasn’t just fire and polemic as in Populist Manifesto Number 1, he could write beautifully crafted moments of tenderness as in Driving a Cardboard Automobile without a Licence, Number 20 and Number 8. If you want to feel some heat and the warmth to stave off the grey rain weather just watch the wonderful Anne Waldman (yes dear reader in case you only summon up those Karouac on the road testosterone types there were/are women beat poets) delivering her poem Makeup on Empty Spaces.

In case you are still needing some streets of San Francisco action to melt the grey the car chase in those old sixties American cars in Bullitt might do it for you, especially if you are the testosterone charged type or maybe if you just need an injection of Steve McQueen’s blue sky eyes.

Here endeth the blog for a wet rainy day, last one to B and Q for the gopher wood and the cubit tape measure is a dead duck.

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