“Red Priest” Love Spring Rising

Spence here: Alongside trees and flowers, magic also started to bloom this week, as Billy and I spent some time brewing, creating, music-making and cavorting.

We kicked the week off by moving into our music studio. Both Billy and I have enjoyed some creative solitude and practice time already in the space. The first night, we sat on the cozy bench, cheering and conjuring up possibilities–movie nights, outdoor seating nooks, roof ideas and where to put the typewriter! Something about a new space always excites me and my mind wanders through all the time-continuum of potentialities. I have something to tell all of you–I am a dreamer. I realized this while playing drums in our studio yesterday. I like to imagine where I will be, what we will do next and how or why we will get somewhere and this spurs me on into life. While playing guitar, I moved similarly through the past, which explains why I spent most of high school staring out the windows or writing poetry. Luckily, I found a partner who also reflects these sentiments, looking out and up, and by doing so, looks in.

Finally our brew is in the making. We boiled up the wort with help from several “friends” hanging around in the kitchen on a heart-breakingly sunny day. It feels good to make acquaintance again with the sun at this latitude. Adding raspberries to the fermenter in the final moments created pleasing colors for this St. Valentine’s Day. Our brew now sits in our homey studio, awaiting bottling day, a few weeks away. Bloop. Bloop. Bloop. We call it “‘Red Priest’ Love Spring Rising”.

For our big night out this month, we attended an Australian film called “Charlie’s Country“, shown through the Portland International Film Festival at Cinema 21. (Billy also got to see “The Boy and the World” from Brazil, but alas, I had to work). The film is essentially about our main character, Charlie, who is an Aboriginal fella, trying to find his place among an ever-changing scope of new White history.  I really appreciated the pacing of “Charlie’s Country” and the effort to illustrate the dichotomy which has become life for native (and some non-native!) peoples everywhere–how to embrace the present and move forward, carrying important beliefs, intentions, history and old ways ahead with optimism and a prideful cultural expression. What is it about a person (or community) living simply, co-creating with the environment they live, with indigenous knowledge, that is “lazy”, “unproductive”, offensive or even threatening? Why is there always some bureaucratic intervention? I know there is more to it than this…my simple quandary enveloped in a web of complicated interrelations. How does “living” come to mean what or how a person earns, i.e. “A Living”? As opposed to just living, alive, like being? I enjoyed the scene in the movie where Charlie and his friend are leaving the community to go live in the bush and the car they are driving runs out of gas. They just start laughing and then start walking. I also liked when Charlie catches a fish and talks to it right before eating it. He lived in the rain, the sun and the dirt.

After the movie we walked quietly to the MAX station and took a nice train ride home. Its hard not to be reflective after a movie like “Charlie’s Country”, but that is why I like to see and hear such creations. I wondered who was living in all those blocks and blocks of apartments we passed–who is tucked away in there out of view–artists, party-store employees, bankers, shamans, doctors, lawyers, witches, hacks? I was thinking about work, and how we all have our “real work” to do–the work that sustains us and doesn’t feel like work. I just wish that didn’t include monetarily prioritizing each others’ endeavors. By any stretch of judgement, Billy and I had one of the best weeks of our “real careers” so far this year!

Billy here: It seems that the city of Portland itself is bipolar, which might be why it attracts so many eccentrics. As the depressive listless state of winter lifts, spring comes in manic and we are all swept up with it! I am surprised to find the quince and cherry already blossoming. The camellias have already bloomed and are dropping. Spring has reared her head early and by summer’s end her feet may have worn a path of drought. But for now the people are smiling and the flickers singing. As the Northeast and Midwest is being blasted by yet another snow storm, the West is balmily preparing for what looks like will be yet another heat stricken summer.

On our magic day of brewing herbal beer, the sun dried out the moss and we flung the windows open for the first time this year. We listened to the ensemble Red Priest play the music of Bach as if possessed themselves with the mania of spring. The morning of brewing I was still enthralled with the movie I went to see the night before at the Portland International Film Festival, The Boy and the World. It seems strange to try and write about the animated movie, since most of it was wordless and none of it was subtitled. At first I thought it was going to be a sweet little hand-drawn movie about a kid, but as the world it painted and played with music combed out my memory of the English language, my perceptions changed. The charming childlike world of the rain forest gave way with surprise when the industrial world invaded in collages of magazine print, riot cops, textile factories and barges of clothing to be shipped overseas. Then the indigenous uprising came forth in a battle between the rainbow phoenix of the tribes and the black bird of the military industrial complex. The only words spoken were the sparse indigenous words of the parents and the lyrics of the peasant music, but with such simplicity and honesty this art explained globalization and colonization that a child would understand it. I loved the humorous collages of pasted magazine eyes and lips for the TV/advertisement propaganda personalities. This is now one of my favorite films in its creativity, its non-linear spiral of surreality, its ability to create an emotion-scape without words, its unapologetic critique of industry and imperialism, and its hope. It was so inspiring that everything after seeing the movie I recognized as art: the train ride home, the city on the river, the reflections in the window glass downtown, the roars and beeps of the city. That is what good art does, it puts us right back into the Dreaming that is always art infinitely creating, out of itself, literal dreams and the dreams we forgot, until they become reality.

In other news, today, keep your hearts perked for the black new supermoon! This will be the nearest new moon until 2020 and will affect the spring tides strongly. A ‘black moon’ is a relatively recent term explained in this helpful article about today’s particular moon on Earthsky.

Hopefully by this time, another year’s winter has ground us down for remaking. Are we ready to plant something new?

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