Monday, October 27, 2014

La Rambla

Here’s the poem I contributed to Western, the arts journal published in association with Life Is Beautiful. The poem was inspired by my trip to Barcelona this summer. Special thanks to Shaun Christensen, Jarret Keene, Don Revell, Olivia Clare and my dad for reading it and providing feedback and to Sam Mc Mackin for publishing it.

La Rambla

How many storms
(Arabs, Franks, fellow Spaniards)
Can a stronghold weather
Before opening wide its wooden gates,
Scarred by spears and arrows,
And falling at the feet
Of its latest sovereign?

Cultures coalesce,
Become difficult to distinguish.
Trueloves are like this,
Which is why I occasionally
Confuse you with her.

Or her.

Love is not the Po, Nile, or Ebro,
But Mediterranean Sea.

Another argument
Across the Atlantic.
High, mud-swirl ceiling.
Duffel bag buried beneath clothes.
I slip into my sneakers
And stagger out onto the streets.
Mute, impotent, invisible
I know how you felt
When you moved to the Meadows.

Nàpols and Mallorca.
Sant Joan and València.
Bailén and Gran Vía,
Where Gaudí was run over
By a cable car.
Assuming he was homeless,
They left him sprawled on the street.
He’s still there.
I hear him bleating,
As I cross against the light
And continue south.

Drifting down the Door of the Angel,
Alone amid the crush,
I spill onto the shore.
The rising sun
Silhouettes a family of four
Frolicking in the surf.
Perched on a cloud,
Columbus points toward the Gold Coast.
The tourists stand in the sand
And applaud,
As the Santa María
Appears on the horizon.

Like a mythic mortal,
I leered at beauty
And sacrificed my sight.
My marooned senses sharpen,
As I navigate the side streets

Sea salt on my lips;
The bakery, soap shop, smoke shop;
A Catalan flag flaps in the wind.

Approaching La Rambla,
I reclaim my perspective.

As I’m waking,
You’re falling asleep.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Life Is Beautiful

If you’re going to Life Is Beautiful this weekend, drop by the old Western hotel-casino. It will house a handful of art exhibits, including a collaboration between writers and artists that I contributed to. (Photographer Marshall Scheuttle and I worked together.) I don’t know if the text and images will be displayed, but I believe a journal featuring the work will be for sale, with part of the proceeds going to charity. Other contributors to this particular project include Molly O’Donnell, Scott Dickensheets, Brent Holmes and Danielle Kelly.   

Friday, September 5, 2014

Homeless 101

I hope those interested in the issue of homelessness will attend and participate in this discussion. Here are the details:

While it is hard not to recognize homelessness across our urban landscape, few truly understand this growing epidemic. On Monday, September 8, 7-8:30 p.m., at The Window, the Downtown Rangers Homeless Outreach Program will be hosting a public forum designed to provide a first-hand perspective on one of the most important social challenges of our time. The program will include an insider’s look into homelessness from David Sweetland. David was a highly educated, junior college instructor when a “perfect storm” of alcoholism, clinical depression, and personal loss took his life in a very different direction. Now in recovery, David offers a personal view into the mindset and culture of life on the streets.  

The evening will conclude with a panel discussion from local experts, sharing additional perspectives and ideas on how everyone can help. The group includes:
* Matthew O’Brien, author of “Beneath the Neon” and founder of Shine a Light
* Timothy Burch, Director of Clark County Social Services
* Rosie Brown, Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, psychiatric caseworker

Please note: The Window is located at 150 N. Las Vegas Blvd, Suite 140, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 (at the Ogden, between Rachel’s Kitchen and WILD). Parking is available on the street or in the lot located on the northeast corner of Ogden Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 

David L. Gould
Downtown Project
Director of Imagination

Saturday, August 16, 2014

French translation update

Stealing from a homeless person is the lowest thing you can do. Stealing from an artist is the second lowest.

This thought crossed my mind a few years ago, when a French publisher translated both of my books, actively promoted and sold them and didn’t pay me or my American publisher any of the advance or royalties promised in the contract. We looked into legal action, but the possibilities seemed limited (since the contract wasn’t worth millions and the publisher was based in a foreign country). So I learned to live with the fact that someone had stolen my work and was selling itand there was nothing I could do about it.

However, finding myself in Spain and en route to Paris, I decided to email the publisher and see if he cared to get coffee and explain in more detail why he never paid us. (Previously, he’d only indicated that his company was struggling financially.) To my surprise, he responded. He said that he wasn’t going to be in town while I was there, but a package would be at my hotel when I arrived. Entering my room and opening the cardboard box, I found 500 euros (about $670) and a translated copy of each book.  

The publisher explained that he hoped to make additional payments, and we’re in the process of mending our relationship. (We’re Facebook friends again!) Perhaps this will be a rare and unexpected happy ending in the publishing world. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Homeless Fonts

I found the Arrels Foundation’s Homeless Fonts initiative, which allows people to buy the handwriting of their clients, particularly interesting.

The Arrels Foundation (Barcelona)

Marta Olaria and Juan Lemus of the Arrels Foundation were kind enough to meet with me and give me a tour of the facility. They’re doing an incredible job of helping the 3,000 or so homeless people of Barcelona! Please surf their site (English version) when you have time.

‘State of Nevada’

I went on KNPR recently to discuss whether Las Vegas is a “smart” city. Here’s the link!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another poem

“Almost all good poems are perilously close to being bad country songs.” OK, Dr. Revell. I’ll take that as a compliment.

Long Haul

It’s as if I’m standing still
and everything else is moving.
The signs:
Mercury, Beatty, Tonopah.
What are the Joshua trees
running from?
The road reflectors wink.
When hauling these loads
I’m headed in one of two directions—
closer to you or farther away.