Tag Archives: meta cognition

Classic Street Theater

The Classic Chicken on the Head

I studied Shakespeare. I was a ballet dancer. I started out working in theater. I was trained in the classics, at least to the extent that my brain would permit prior to my stomach starting to bellyache about it. Aristotle, Plato, and later Cervantes I discovered had discovered most of what I was discovering.

I learned that Sinatra learned his phrasing technique from Tommy Dorsey and no doubt Dorsey got his training in jazz while studying classical music. Modern art is the result of classical art. Classical art at one time was the contemporary art of the day. There is nothing new under the sun and we really have to constantly reinvent ourselves even if we want to remain stuck right where we are.

Street theater is nearly as old as the oldest profession in the world. In the 1960’s when street theater re-launched its product line, entertainment headed back out onto the sidewalks and public spaces where it could escape from the suffocating conventions of legitimate theater. We were free, and then we were not free. Besides passing the hat more than a few acts began studying commedia del arte in Blue Lake, California. Next, a group of silent clowns began imitating Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. It was all so predictable.

Try this One....

Then, someone dug up this old world word “busker” and that pretty much was it. It was no use by the middle 80’s we simply called ourselves New Vaudeville.

All my renegade friends gave up. They got health insurance, signed up for credit cards, got a mortgage, married, had kids and decided to be happy. It was like really? They still did shows, but now they were paying their bills and doing things like staying home and watching a movie with the wife and kids.

That's what it looks like when a busker gets into hot water

I decided to hike into the mountains along a trail and take a dip in a wild hot spring, just like the ancients back in the day, before this whole Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian thing got out of hand. Next thing I know after a long soak in the middle of the wilds ofBritish Columbiamy guide into the wilderness takes me down along a rock wall along the edge of an ancient lake where he directs me to look at a four thousand year old petroglyphic depiction of people enjoying a good soak in the hot spring!

People the world over are all looking for something new. They want a new relationship. They want a new car, new job, a new place to live, and some even want a new way of life. Then, they get it and just like that turns out in the end to be part of the same old thing. It’s like a broken record, like computers were supposed to make our life easier, and then the thing crashes and for four hours you’re standing around while a technician untangles the mess you’ve made of the time you were supposed to have saved that has now been lost. And this all happened because you thought that this time it would be different. It’s enough to drive a man to drink, but I’ve heard that won’t do you any good, you’ll just end up right back where you started.


“Nothing was going to stop me from sailing, not a storm, not money, nothing… not even Jackie.” Lenny shook his head and rolled his eyes as if to say: ‘what was I thinking?’ “I determined a long time ago I was going to go sailing, go cruising, the whole thing. Then, while I was preparing my boat, Jackie and I hooked up, had fun, it was great. Then next thing I know, we’re a couple. I’m not going sailing; we’re going sailing. No doubt, only way it could go.”

“And then she gives up. Can’t take it. Can’t do it…”

“I don’t know,” There was regret in Lenny’s voice, “five years, thousands of open ocean miles later, whatever I thought was going to happen never did.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Sail Home, Be There, Happy

Here is Home

The canal in San   Rafael, California terminates near downtown just east of Highway 101. A bit further eastward sits the San Rafael Yacht Harbor. I worked on my wooden sloop- Maestro, a Golden Gate hull #18 in this boatyard. I worked on the boat for a few years and then by way of a thousand impossible to predict fateful occurrences ended up living there too. It could be windy, foggy, cold and wet. Winter could be dreary. Weeks of rain made getting from the parking lot to your boat a soggy task. A twenty-five foot flushed decked 70 year old sailboat designed for racing isn’t the most elegant boat a person might choose for living aboard, but where necessity is concerned this boat was more than adequate. I put an awning over the cockpit. Below I had a long bunk with sleeping bag and pillow to sleep on. I kept my shaving kit, bath towel, suitcase, laptop computer, dog bed, dog bowls, and my performing dog on the other bunk. My galley consisted of a single burner stove powered by white gas. I had a sink and water. I had a pot for making oatmeal, bowl and spoon, a kettle for coffee, and two coffee mugs. I maintained two long stem wine glasses for the other end of the day. A few books rested atop my bed next to my reading light.  Winter I ran a small electric heater to stay warm. A small battery powered cool chest was lashed securely in the well of the cockpit. I installed a good bilge pump and unless it was raining it remained off. I kept my act for my show in my Dodge Cummins out in the parking lot. I kept a second suitcase of clothes in my truck. It was where all the extras were stowed. I had a lantern for nights when romance whispered in my ear, and a demure boom box to fill the hull with song. I had a mouse for a guest until he was found. I made new friends and learned new skills. On certain days I actually felt as if I had everything I could ever imagine wanting. There was peace and serenity here. The cost of the thing was well within my means. It was a simple affair. It was compact. I was happy and still am….

Bankrupt Heart                             The Second Novel 

The rigging on the boats in the marina whistled when
the wind blew. The tall wood mast caught the gusts and the sailboat rocked in
her berth. Then, a light rain began to patter atop the roof of the cabin.

“I like it when it rains. With the heater, a fire,
get bundled up, lie down on the bunk, sip something warm, have something good
to read. I find it peaceful.”

Sophia didn’t feel the same.  “I don’t know, I’m not used to it, I miss our
house, I miss San Francisco.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


Never Change, Always Remain the Same

The Bumpy Road of Life

“Noel walked off into the darkness with Jasper, back toward the van. He walked with a
weave; the pot and brandy had put a wiggle in his wandering and a wonder in his imagination.”

Highway Home

I enjoy seeing a character in a story forced to change. I like to see unmarried singles fall in love and wrestle with monogamy. I enjoy people who are married having affairs. I enjoy the mess. I much prefer reading about such misadventure on the page. It is there in the safety of the printed word we can avoid accidental pregnancies, contracting some sort of infectious disease, or breaking someone’s heart. I don’t know that any of this changes anything. Some tequila self soaked barrier removing event like a Friday night out on the town it seems many an individual has discovered another version of self spontaneously emerging in the cloak of darkness. Even the single friends among us pledge to be a bit more careful about what they do and promise to begin being careful starting right now! If you are naturally monogamous, inclined to long term relationships, and seldom addled by doubt count yourself fortunate to be able to contemplate other areas of your life that might be subject to change. There are so many other splendid areas of misadventure to explore, so many other ways to discover that what you think and how you act are subject to the element of surprise. Watching a devout womanizer falling in love and discovering the splendor of the monogamous virtue is heartwarming. It is an excellent view from the pull out on the road of life from where the Psychic Grand Canyon of Change can be safely appreciated. This sanity is welcomed. This is the actuality of the aesthetic,thoughtful, non-harming distance. A good read can be a great cure for change that makes things so much more the mess.

Fake Change

Sunet over Bakersfield

“The sand was cheerful and white beneath
the evening’s muted glow. A few other people were scattered along the edge of
the water. A long gleaming light of a quarter moon shimmered off the water.
Venus was low on the horizon, big and bright. The sky was overdone, a steady
constant glow surrounded by flickering stars.”

Highway Home

Nothing ever seems to change. Okay, that’s just the way it seems, but some things do change while others continue headed into old change that looks like no change at all. Writing about the emotional lives of characters in novels usually leads to sex, sex leads to pregnancy, to forming families, to births, to building lives together and on and on…. We pull the camera back and look not at the actors but at the playing field. There we see an unrelenting series of facts. One of the more interesting facts is that it seems over the last 50,000 years that we have become spectacularly good at reproducing ourselves in robust numbers. This alone must explain the terrific proliferation of romance novels. We’ve fanned out across the globe and have done everything in our power to use all this stuff. We use the fresh water. We use the fish. We use the forests. We use the air. Looking around at the moment we see that it is becoming more and more difficult to find enough stuff to keep this all going right now not to mention getting more stuff ready for the new arrivals who’ll be coming soon. Then, upon evaluating our inventories someone accuses some of us of having a scarcity mentality! How incredibly clever…I won’t suggest this as fact, but rather as a mere notion to consider that perhaps with this ever growing growth of increasing demand upon this only place we know where life is suited to our needs that we are finding the recent frictions of the last few weeks a sign that perhaps we might want to go a little slower, bring fewer of us here at a time, allowing the earth to replenish her cupboards for the next and the next…it isn’t how many we can get here for this party, its how long we can arrange to have the party last….sustainability…isn’t that a novel idea…or not.