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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Rhapsody on Somebody Else's Superior Vocabulary, Part 8

Jentel Artist Residency Program
Banner, WY

Is the artist retreat a kind of harem? We laze around in luxury, preparing our offering of bliss for whomever is on the other side of the purdah. We know that not everyone's offering will be accepted, at least not all at once (barring a spectacular party), but by virtue of being in the group we feel chosen, and burdened. I am burdened by bug bites, including one itchy bleb on my right wrist from my trip to the pond last week when I crushed a mosquito just after penetration. He left something behind--maybe more than one thing. West Nile is in the area, I saw a headline.

Worse things than bugs can bite you--take this baby rattlesnake Kristen and I saw on our way up Snake Hill to the Thousand Acres. He might have been six inches long, thin as a child's pinkie, his black rattle more cirrate than segmented. He slithered away from us on our way up the hill and was waiting, coiled (but not rattling) on our way down. The babies are scary because they discharge all their venom--most adult bites, according to Lynn, are actually dry. Lynn also described shooting a snake clean in half and watching the snake continue to strike. Kristen almost stepped on this one. We also saw two screech owls.

Speaking of the wildlife (which is all I seem able to speak of after getting in trouble for my now expurgated New York blog with a person or persons who was/were unhappy to discover him- or her- or theirselves written about), I have been misidentifying mule deer as antelope. I figured this out after swimming in the lake with Jessica, when we pulled over to look at some truly bizarre looking animals and realized they were anteope--white underbellies and rear ends, faces that look like African tribal masks (don't tell me it's the other way around, I'm not that gullible). The confusion stem in part from the fact that there are two types of deer in this valley, white-tail and mule, and very few antelope compared to the fields along the highway, where they're common. The confusion also stems in part from the fact that I'm a clueless city boy.

Now I'm desperate to see that antelope herd again. Is there a jacklight that works for these exotic creatures? I was thinking of creating a little mojo hand out of found animal parts--a feather, a porcupine quill, a bone from that virtually intact bleached ribcage on the side of Highway 14. Probably a mule deer's.

I do know what horses look like and there are some beauties in this valley.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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