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Christopher Luna performs with Tyler Burba by Nathan Tompkins

Christopher Luna performs with Tyler Burba by Nathan Tompkins

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Welcome to Life, Motherfucker" a collage poem by Christopher Luna

On January 2, 2017, at Tiffany Burba's featured reading at Tony's Tavern in Portland, OR, I dedicated this poem to my friend and teacher David Meltzer, who passed away on December 31, 2016. I would also like to thank Dennis McBride for inspiring the poem, and for his continued support. Much love and much respect to Tommy Gaffney, the emcee for The Ol' Tony's Talkin' To. Finally, thanks to Tiffany Burba for this video:


Welcome to Life, Motherfucker
with love for my fellow poets

appalled by the enormity
of my self regard
there’s got to be more to this
tradition of transmission
than elitism and intellectual circle jerk

the tyranny of intentionality
visions of a glamorous hell
with bags full of havoc

like Bobby and Joanie
walkin’ the festival grounds
cracking a bullwhip:    superstars in our thinking
where you swim, she drowns

The whole impossibility of actually seeing something.
I think that now that’s a very difficult process to navigate.
There’s so much to cut through. It’s a very complicated terrain.

the solid marrying the liquid
that curious, lurking something

It’s up to us to find
their breath in the fog

to quietly float
is a huge challenge

To get people to use their eyes
and to get them to notice the things
they don’t pay attention to 

Everybody does look,
it’s just a question of
how hard.

Williams modeled brevity and precision
Duncan invited us to return to the field
Ginsberg recommended candor
Nikki reminded us to stand up

I am constantly voraciously reading medical texts until four or five in the morning. I want more energy, I want more vitality, I want more hair. I wanna snuff around and eavesdrop on people. I want to go further, transcending time.

Life breaks all of us. Capitalism enters our central nervous systems and gives us many levels of sickness. The antidote: Spermy poetic language. Explosive and ejaculatory. A new way to communicate, to participate, a new spiritual condition. If you’re open to infinity, you have a chance to regenerate yourself, and once all these circles, these circular temples, regenerate themselves, they’re the same old world but with a fresh new morning exhalation. 
  
I’ll always be your friend, and even your poet laureate. I am not a revolutionary, yet I feel I have something of value to say. I do overshare. It's my way of trying to understand myself.... It creates community when you talk about private things. It’s sort of a hobby of mine, the truth. The truth is not needed, but something is. I have spent aeons sitting here. Right here. I have been to hell and back. And let me tell you it was wonderful. One moment equals eternity. That tranquility is right at the edge of the chaos.

words are sigils for the
unutterable incomprehensible
ineffable energy coursing
through all life forms
poetic pictograms
guttural grunts toward meaning
phenomenological symbology
grand and finally, inadequate

Welcome to life, motherfucker. Cola Rum
tyranny of intentionality. Tod Marshall
Visions of a glamorous hell. George Kuchar on the films of Jack Smith
Where you swim, she drowns. Carl Jung to James Joyce, about his schizophrenic daughter.
The whole impossibility of actually seeing something. I think that now that’s a very difficult process to navigate. There’s so much to cut through. It’s a very complicated terrain. Gillian Conoley, interviewed by Tod Marshall for Range of the Possible, page 37.
The solid marrying the liquid, that curious, lurking something. Walt Whitman, “Specimen Days”
It’s up to us to find their breath in the fog. Edee Lemonier
to quietly float is a huge challenge Toni Lumbrazo Luna
It’s the job of the artist to get people to use their eyes and to get them to notice the things they don’t pay attention to. John Baldessari, in Interview Magazine 
Everybody does look, it’s just a question of how hard. David Hockney, as interviewed in the documentary Hockney.
That’s what I wanna do. I wanna snuff around and eavesdrop on people. Albert King, in conversation with Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Life breaks all of us. Lily Yeh
A new way to communicate, to participate, a new spiritual condition.  Ai Wei Wei
If you’re open to infinity…. a fresh new morning exhalation. I am not a revolutionary, yet I feel I have something of value to say. Capitalism enters our central nervous systems and gives us many levels of sickness. Spermy poetic language. Explosive and ejaculatory. Matthew Shipp
I’ll always be your friend, and even your poet laureate. Abel Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man. 
I do overshare. It's my way of trying to understand myself. ... It creates community when you talk about private things. Carrie Fisher, interviewed by NPR not long before her death. www.npr.org/2016/11/28/503580112/carrie-fisher-opens-up-about-star-wars-the-gold-bikini-and-her-on-set-affair
It’s sort of a hobby of mine, the truth. Dialogue spoken by John Robie (Cary Grant) in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief.
The truth is not needed, but something is. Dennis McBride

Monday, October 10, 2016

Art is my Religion: Seeing Prophets of Rage with Angelo


Christopher and Angelo Luna on the evening that fulfilled one of Christopher's longheld wishes

 Prophets of Rage at the end of their show in Ridgefield, WA


Art is my religion. Every useful lesson or profound revelation I have benefited from was conveyed to me through poetry, music, dance, painting, or film. Of these, music is the most participatory. As an audience member, you can dance, sing along, scream, and freak out as the music moves through you and transforms you on the spot. I have been truly blessed by many transformative concert experiences over the years. 

My son is the best thing in my life, the source of my deepest love and sense of pride. He is a remarkable person—a thoughtful, funny, philosophical, young man who challenges and mazes me every day. 

Since he was born, I have dreamed of sharing a live concert experience with him. When he was a toddler, I took him to a few, including one of his first favorites: They Might Be Giants. The parents out there know that at a certain point the reliably goofy TMBG began making children’s music, and they are great at it. Their children’s songs have become so popular that when they tour they have to make clear which dates are kids’ shows and which are adults only. I’m sure that Angelo does not remember the trip he made with me and his mother to Waterfront Park in Portland, OR. By the time the band took the stage, he was a sleep in his stroller, and he did not wake up. Therefore, this early attempt to share live music with him doesn’t really count.

I had offered to take him to shows before. There have always been bands and songs that both of us like such as Muse, the Black Keys, Talking Heads, Mika, and the White Stripes. However, he had no interest in seeing a live show. He did not even seem open to the idea. While I found this baffling and disappointing, I’m not the type of Dad to force him. When he was young, I often took him to poetry readings and art shows, but once he got old enough to look after himself, I always left the decision up to him. I was aware that if I jammed poetry and art down his throat that I could become the reason he grew to hate them. Today my son has a real appreciation for the arts that might not have been possible if I had laid some kind of heavy expectation on him. 

Chuck D and B Real get in our faces

I was very excited to learn about the formation of Prophets of Rage, a band consisting of members of three of the best hip hop bands of all time: Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and Rage Against the Machine. POR formed in response to the depressing shit show of the current presidential campaign. Disappointed in both of our choices, and disgusted by the current state of affairs, POR nevertheless believes that we all have a responsibility to get involved. When I learned that PIR was coming to the amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA, I had to be there. My wife Toni and dear friend Tiffany planned to buy me a ticket for my birthday.   

I saw an opportunity to share this experience with my son when I learned that AWOLNATION would be touring with POR. Apparently, AN signed on to help POR drum up ticket sales by using their current popularity to persuade young people to buy tickets for a supergroup featuring members of bands whose popularity peaked in the 1990s. When I told Angelo that AWOLNATION would be there, he got very excited. Toni and Tiffany agreed, and it was settled.

Before the show we bought t-shirts, had some pizza and Dutch Bros. coffee. As we waited to go in, I told him some stories from my years of going to shows. I told him about the countless women in denim and leopard print clothing at the KISS show. Told him about the first time I was able to spot a narc, walking around tripping before a Dead show. I also recounted hanging out in the parking garage outside the venue in Albany because my Dead ticket was counterfeit, and the time I danced for a long time to “Drums/Space” before finally opening my eyes to realize that I was the only one on the floor who was standing. No one tried to get me to sit down. They just let me do my thing. 

Both Angelo and I agreed that the opening act, WAK RAT, had a dumb name. We also shared the same opinion of their music. We enjoyed the metal trio’s sound, but found their lyrics to be really dumb. The lead singer was a very good bass player, and the drummer and guitarist were reliably aggressive. The lead singer had a folksy, working class way about him which I liked. He sang like a regular guy. Unfortunately, when he tried to make political statements he was completely unintelligible. I liked WAK RAT much better during the instrumental parts of their songs. Despite all this, Angelo enjoyed the first set enough to suddenly declare that he’d like us to go to see Blue October or Dirty Heads together.

The true fulfillment of my dream occurred the moment that AWOL NATION took the stage. Immediately Angelo was on his feet—swaying, dancing, pumping his fist, clapping or else obeying every instruction. I was filled with an incredible happiness, to finally share one of my most meaningful experiences with my son. Angelo even enjoyed a seminal concertgoer’s moment of joy when AWOL NATION played “Dreamers,” the one song he really wanted to hear. I loved being able to facilitate my son’s first transcendent musical moment. 



Even though Prophets of Rage played many songs he didn’t know, he was familiar with some of the Rage Against the Machine songs as well as a few of the hip hop tunes they played. While they played more RATM than anything else, I was very happy with the rest—“Fight the Power,” “Bring the Noise,” “She Watch Channel Zero,” “Miuzi Weighs a Ton.” B Real did a great job on the vocals for the Rage songs, and of course, they played all the big Cypress Hill tunes. I was also thrilled that Toni had bought us tickets that were close enough to the stage for me to see Tom Morello’s fingers move across the frets and his facial expressions. The love he has for the music, and for the fans, was written all over his face. Chuck D has been doing this for a long time, but he showed no signs of tiring. His energy remained high, and his booming bass voice remains as strong as ever.



I have had a hard time enjoying many of the shows I’ve seen in the PNW because the crowds have been so lame. No matter how great the performance, people regularly shout people down when they try to dance. This always makes me wonder why some people go to live shows at all. If you’re not moved enough to stand when the musicians are present, why not stay home and sit on your ass while listening to the CD. It’s lame and infuriating. Fortunately, the crowd at Prophets of Rage stayed on its feet for the entire show. Everyone danced, leapt, bounced, sand, and hollered together. I sang along to nearly every song, and nearly blew out my voice, which would not have been good since I had a reading the next night. 

Photo by Tyler Whitemarsh

Photo by Tyler Whitmarsh

I had a great time dancing and singing and freaking out side by side with Angelo. I can die happy.