Captain, My Captain : See Emily Play: Shots of the Week.

Captain Beefheart (A.K.A. Don Van Vliet ) was born January 15th, 1941 and died December 18th, 2010. Thus, had he lived he would have been 73 years old, this coming Thursday.

As this blog has testified I am a great fan of all things 'Beefheart '; having many of his recordings; (with his Magic Band(s)) books about his life and lastly a member and sometime contributor to "FireParty, ' an online discussion group, which reflects the many aspects of the Captain's life.

Captain Beefheart.

The above link will take you to the wonderful ' Radar Station, ' which is an amazing repository  of the life of Don, his, music, poems  and art. A one-stop 'Captain Shop.'

Don was master of the cryptic comment in his writing and conversation. Many of his song titles included puns and puzzles. Two examples: ' The Past Sure Is Tense' ; ' Run Paint Run. '

Many of his sayings have been collected and all usually have some deeper meaning.

" All tongues are connected-- you know- we all drink from the same pond. "

" The stars are matter. We're matter. It doesn't matter. "

Taken from  " Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh " by  W.C. Bamberger. ( 1999 )

Don was a child prodigy and sculpted and drew from an early age. Interestingly, he always thought of himself as an artist and painter, rather than a musician, for which of course under the guise of CB he is mostly known.
As Don says- " One you can physically drown in, being paint. The other ( music)  you can mentally drown in. I prefer swimming in paint. " (Bamberger P.3 )

 After the release of " Ice Cream For Crow " in 1982, Don gave up recording and became a full-time painter.
 In May  1985 in Cologne Don had his first one-man art show. He has since exhibited in many countries; including England; London (1986 ) and Brighton ( 1994 ). Mostly his work is to be found in New York at the Michael Werner Gallery.

I was lucky enough at Christmas to be given a print of Don's work.

 The picture is entitled " Parapliers The Willow Dipped " ( 1987 )

It is oil on canvas and the original measures 198 x 147 cm.

The title comes from the first line of  " Bellerin Plain '
" Parapliers the Willow dipped
Rolled roots gnarled like rakers
This hollow hole don't hold no jokers----- "

A track from his album " Lick Your Decals Off Baby "

Parapliers apparently means a pair of pliers; tools in the construction of the railway. Don shows them as eyes framing  the way to future despoilition of the countryside. Don was a lover of nature and the environment. He spent most of his life in the Mojave Desert and thus was particularly aware of the changing features of light, shade and the colours encountered in this region. His paintings are great swirls of colours generally placing animal or animal shapes larger than any human content. The paint was often daubed and scraped on in places; showing a restless energy in his work. With the late onset of MD, he found increasing difficulty with his finger manipulation , especially with circular and oval shapes. Nevertheless the pictures exude warmth and mischief. Don, as noted above, loved a playful pun or oblique reference  in words and pictures.

In my print, for example in the bottom right hand corner is a Japanese Fighting Fish ( looking for survival ?) and not seen clearly here, but above the 'green bird shape' is a Madonna, looking out of the frame.
You will also notice the yellow of the desert, moving to the brown dirt of the highway.
There is much to puzzle here and that is the great essence of his canon; there is always a reason to keep looking and absorb.

I am hopeful, in future times to see an exhibition of his work in the UK. It really needs to be seen 'in the raw' due to the sheer sixe of individual items, many between a metre and two metres in height.
At that size , I would suggest,  it would make somewhat of an impression.


Last week I wrote about the 19th Century American Poet Emily Dickinson. Like Don above,  she wrote many verses on scraps of paper, often untitled and like Don had often her own form of punctuation. I like her terse sparse work with its economy of words. Here is an example:

FAITH is a fine invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency!

An equisite  vignette indeed.


The two above photographs were taken outsde " St. John the Baptist Church " at Burford.

The top picture shows a plaque of three Levellers ( mutineers in Cromwell's army) who together with 337 others were imprisoned in the church.
 The above three were then later executed against this wall in 1649. It is said bullet holes still remain, but D. and I could not discern them there.

The carved figures below stand above the entrance to the church; a very fine building with an impressive spire. Another Cotswold example of ' wool money.'

On a lighter note, ducks and a swan gambol in the river at Burford.


So another week rushes by and we are all getting to grips with 2015 AD.

Have a great week ahead and watch out for those storms. That pesky jet stream is playing up again.
Cheerio for now,


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