Friday, November 23, 2007

Visiting Neil, Part V
Friends, Music, Buzzard, Bunnies & Alchemy

A key aspect of the trip to Neil's I've only touched upon thus far is the amazing circle of Neil's friends, peers and associates Hank and I met a few of in our mere three days. Who knows who we might have spent time with, had our stay been longer?

First and foremost, natch, is Neil's family; we met Maddy, who wasn't born yet when I last visited Neil's Midwest home. Maddy is well known to all who frequent Neil's blog; she's thirteen now, and I missed seeing Mike and Holly, who are now adults and making their own ways in the world. Their mom Mary and I spent some time together Sunday, catching up and chatting -- an hour just wasn't enough time, but it's what we had, and that was precious.

It was great to see Lorraine Garland, aka The Fabulous Lorraine, again -- the Midwestern Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and the person to seems to hold the gravitational forces of all in Neil's orbit in uncanny balance. Lorraine is a beautiful and amazing spirit, deftly juggling what must be a daily onslaught of energy from within and without, and doing so with complete grace and unflappable skill.

Our pre-trip emails concerning possible needs prompted me to joke about my aversion to liver on any planned menu, and Lorraine had prepared for our arrival by lovingly plopping no less than five raw chicken livers into Cabell's (Neil's dog's) outdoor snack bowl; my copy of Lorraine a' Malena's new CD Mirror Mirror is blessed with Lorraine's exquisite handwriting, "To Steve, Love, Magic & Liver!!" Next time, I'll tout my revulsion for pancreas.

Lorraine a' Malena, on da stone & in da flesh (photo by Dr. Dan)

Lorraine has her own careers flying, primary among them her music. When I was last visiting, it was The Flash Girls, Lorraine's duo with Emma Bull, but that's long past. I'm soooooo out of the loop. Since that time, lo over a decade ago, Lorraine has connected with Malena Teves and they've been making music as Lorraine a' Malena, ably assisted and backed by the likes of Neil (occasional lyrics), Chris Ewen, Adam Stemple, Robin Adnan Anders, Scott Mulligan, Armitage Shanks, Earl E. Mammal, Paul Score, Lojo Russo, and others.

I've been spinning Mirror Mirror all week, and savoring it; perfect drawing music, too. Neil's lyrics for The Butterfly Road (The Faust Song) resonate eerily since our visit -- how autobiographical is it?

Now there's no going-back
And there's something-undead
In your mind and your eyes
In your heart and your head
And if anyone asks how you feel
Just say it was part of the deal...

  • Lorraine's blog -- actually, it's Lorraine and Malena's venue, but it's the purest shot of online Lorraine you'll find -- is highly recommended, peppered with factoids, insights and mucho candid pleasures.

  • Lorraine a' Malena's website awaits you here, with news, photos, music, links, fanclub entry and more -- including how to purchase their new CD Mirror Mirror -- check it out.

  • For those envious of Fabulous Lorraine's demanding lifestyle, weigh your envy with care and be cautious what you wish for:
  • a day in the life of the Fabulous Lorraine is a daunting proposition for any mere mortal to contemplate.
  • Lorraine makes it look easy -- she handles it all with aplomb, but rest assured she earns her status with fifteen years of hard experience to date! All hail, Lorraine!

    We also met
  • Sharon Stiteler, better known online as Birdchick -- here's the link, you'll love exploring this site!

  • Fortunately, the nanosecond in which I met Sharon and her husband Bill, I just happened to have my sketchbook in reach -- the one I toted to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Raptor Center last year, when the Center for Cartoon Studies students and I drew from close-up drawing sessions with select raptors. When Neil mentioned to Sharon that she'd like my comic Tyrant, and Sharon fixed me with those baby blues and asked what kind of drawing I did, I handed her the sketchbook which opened right up to my brassy head-and-neck sketch from life of a turkey vulture, and Sharon melted. She loves them birds, and my buzzard was the quickest shot to her heart I could have fired as an artist.

    Mayhaps it'll play out that I'll be able to collaborate with Sharon on something in 2008, wedding our mutual affection for birds of prey; time will tell, but it would be fun, and having the VINS raptor center within a half-hour of my home provides ample live research and models to work with.

  • Sharon's Disapproving Rabbits book and blog are another branch of her naturalist interests, be it a bizarre one; look no further than here to check it out.
  • Sharon generously gifted Hank and I with copies of the book, which is indeed brimming with color pix of disapproving rabbits, whose star allure is reportedly quite high in rabbit circles. I wouldn't know, I just take Sharon's word for it.

    More tomorrow --

    A sobering parting thought for the day, compliments of HomeyM:

    “We are members of the most destructive culture ever to exist. Our assault on the natural world, on indigenous and other cultures, on women, on children, on all of us through the possibility of nuclear suicide and other means - all these are unprecedented in their magnitude and ferocity.” - Derrick Jensen

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