Monday, November 13, 2017

Still from the short movie shoot

Filters

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

― Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Final cut of all the New Orleans footage

My final cut of my 2017 New Orleans adventures.

After returning a few months back, I released a video that was an edit of my entire show "Where the Road Takes Us", that had been shot by Blake from WWOZ on 3 cameras. At that time I spent a few weeks editing the footage together into one long take.

After that had been done, I ran out of steam to actually make the video the way I wanted. So, here now, is the final cut. This is the footage from the show, cut in an order I like, as well interspersed with all the other video I took down in Nola, such as confessionals, streets, busking, etc.

Anyways, quite happy to have finally finished this. One more historical video of past performances to go, then onto my short movie with the final 25 demo tracks from Apophenia. Then I am almost all caught up and can get back to being presently creative.

 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Down Deep

Down deep in the basement of things.

Shooting has begun on my Apophenia video, what will hopefully be a short film/music collage that tells a bit of a story while weaving in the 24 or so songs I chose that I think give a good idea of what this thing will end up being. I have become obsessed with having my site really show something that captures the feeling of this, if only for my own concern that it's not all just screaming in the dark. With this, I am little by little whittling away at my site and trying to make it something a bit more. Can’t be any more vague than that right now I guess. In this obsession, has also wormed in a David Lynch fetish that is making me feel a bit more like human.

Depression takes hold though, and working through it isn’t always easy. Then exhaustion, not sure if it’s seperate or related. And of course, the loss of sleep. So the notion of having a set date of when this may release seems incredibly alien right now. The word, the concept, even having this little cloudy vision right about my eyes. It is the best way I can simply explain what life can devolve to.

When in New Orleans, one of the Art Klub members, Kristen, had read a short bit of prose I wrote on the ride down at my show. She was so helpful in all manner of show preparation, and we ended up finding out we work really well together. And then deeply honored, as she asked me to contribute to a modern dance show/performance she is creating to be submitted for consideration in November for a festival circuit. So I have been reading her notes, ideas, and trying to give her something that may be usable. So far, a few instrumental music pieces, bits of poetry and prose. Under the guidance of an “An Island Becomes a Star”. So exciting.

This album, New Orleans show, writing, whatever the hell it is I do does take it toll on everything. And sadly finances is not immune. So I have started to put together ideas for a gofundme or patreon website, to hopefully find a few kind hearted patrons to help support what is I hope to be the most important music project I will ever produce. So, that’s coming.

All for now.

Monday, October 9, 2017

on miasma

artifice and sheen,
acrid dependency,
then lucidity,
in a hollow symmetry,
in only nothing and 
momentary revealtry
the anachron's chalk,
that faded to obscurity,
like polyester,
of yesterday.
but still,
mindless on
that bouncing ball

age wears the mask
of wisdom,
and store bought mimicry-
"i don't think that word means what
you think it means?"
humble on cue,
rubik, or rubicon,
do we cross?
solving one is a parlor trick,
the other,
a well worn clumsiness,
now.
sweetness.
"let sleeping dogs lie?"
or maybe,
windmills?
yes,
that,
sadly, 
our zeitgeist

i see you,
cloned into those walls,
fading.
aromatic nonsense
shuffles on hard,
unforgiving wood
so strange,
the tongues our teeth
choose
to clamp on
as momentary as
morning,
then,
wino's welcome
the chatterdom night

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tis' the witching season

Since it is the season, I took a break from my other things to remix my take on Danny Elfman's classic "This is Halloween" with my current effects/software chain. Really proud of this, felt it was in need of reviving. After the song, there are a few live halloween show clips from 2012.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The event page is up. Nerves.

For anyone in New Orleans this Thursday, here is the FB Event kindly set up by Kristen. Lots and lots of people invited I don't know. The nerves begin to take hold.

https://www.facebook.com/events/240422799807185/

So much, So much still to do

Little sleep,Trazadone.

So much to do.

Finish writing/recording the new music. Mix the 16 songs for the teaser CD to give away at the show. Finish writing the script. Editing the script. Rehearsing the new music, and the entire pseudo improv parts, and read the writing parts. Time the whole thing. Damn, it's 20 pages right now. Meet with the videographer. Meet with the dancers (i think?).  Find something to wear. Do I find something fabulous? Feels like I should take part in a masquerade spirit. It fits. Print flyers. Burn sampler CD's and package them (30 should be good right?) Write/Record/Mix one or two more background instrumental pieces to play when I am reading. Meet with Reese and Kristen. Test/rehearse switching between my mixer and the computer sound output for speaking vs playing music live. Talk to videographer about coming early and bringing her lighting setup. Sure I am forgetting a bunch. Oh yeah, figure out how to fucking sleep.

But hey, I got the flyers done, and the printout for the special edition 16 song sample CD given away at the show.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

More Inspiration Through...

A quote

"Money, I believed, and still do, is most peoples' substitute for a personal story. The symbols it buys always tell the same story, namely the success story of the prevailing culture back to the culture that spawned it. Money is one's way out of autobiography into the collective myth. The currency of outsiders is their personal story."

Thank you, Andrei, for a feel a bit more justified and less foolish having read that.

First draft of the show script is done

Art Klub Mark First Draft Script from Mark Mikunas on Vimeo.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Spent the day rehearsing for my show. Had an amazing meeting with Reese doing pre-production. We drew up a unique layout for the theatre, and she is putting a call out for dancers or actors who would like to be a part of the cast performance. Have a really cool set design, with couches on risers and all manner of comfortable lounging for the show (not shown. right now it's a lovely mess. the mood will be set this weekend). As well, I have a member of the Art Klub doing some readings of my prose during the show. And the live music videographer from WWOZ is filming the night! So exciting. And my event page is up.

http://artklub.org/calendar/2017/6/29/where-the-road-leads-us-an-evening-with-mark-mikunas

Now night falls in New Orleans, the magnetic, the streets fall with neon music.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Road

I will be writing, without editing, just stream of conscience. For the time being. I'd imagine at some point I will salvage these thoughts to some junkyard piece. But for now, here in the raw.

Is this really what I want?

The question would begin to throb, not gently, only after the first 45 minutes of driving. On the way out, Chicago was rude and aggressive, the highway mad with motorists bent on holiday cheer, damn the mergers.

The better part of my life, packed under dust, paint chips, and smelling slightly of ammonia, lay claim silently in the trunk.

How do I accept the dichotomy? To love the transience, the thrill of turbulence, even though my gut was bleeding, as just two hours ago I lay aching for stability. Age was catching up, but I still had some run in these old legs. 

A few hours later, lost, hypnotized. Serpentine, serene, mostly what I had been looking for. The moments seem large, then small, then forgotten. NPR was quickly becoming more static than posturing, so I leaned into the passenger seat to get my new music player. A Fiio, an affordable audiophile grade player with the trimmings of a classic iPod, but better guts. Fumbling to plug it in, for what felt like a second. The car veered, and I looked up quickly. A semi, to my right, was dangerously close and my car was now feet from collision. In motion, quickly. Panic.

But, I am aware. In that moment, right before I clip the backend of a behemoth vehicle, I become very aware. I leave myself for a moment and observe. I think, let's just see what happens. Will the situation just fix itself? And I realize I do this so much in my life. Right before tragedy, right before the moment someone falls backwards, or a ball flies right into someones face, and I can prevent it, I have that instant thought: let's see what happens. 

Of course, I grabbed the wheel and yanked hard left, bucking my car in the direction it wasn't counting on, almost over correcting too much to where we would spin gleefully(?) at 85 miles an hour. But we don't, and my heart pounds. But why, I wonder, does that moment of Cheshire curiosity persist. I breathe, and begin listening to Nietzsche.

Roads of overgrown broccoli and shy, shrinking farms are now commonplace. Occasionally the flat road winds up, then down, my ears pop.

Another hour. Oh, Nietzsche, when you so elegantly give pause to good, and evil, and truth, why must you then use the very such words just for yourself? How I wish you were riding with me, so I could argue ignorantly, debate, learn...The conversation now, in this moment, merely echoes. For moments I get lost in the validity of anything, it doesn't matter. It makes me think.

Then, underneath the existential, I notice a curious tone from my phone. I glance, cut the radio, and listen to an alarm siren. Severe weather alert. I look up once again at the windshield. The sky has grown ill.

The trees, once vibrant green alongside the road were now starting to bend and shed into the air. Lost amongst the dust kicked up. Leaves, sometimes even branches seem to snap off and suspend above the road. An imposterous night began to fall quickly under the dark, foreboding thick-layered clouds that brought thunderous claps of rain and scowl.

The dead bugs once smeared sloppy across my windshield were quickly washed away.  Lightening scratched the sky eagerly, angrily, as the violence seemed to close in on the world. My car was now slave to the master wind, as he toyed about. I felt my whole body tense. I had the distinct feeling nature didn't want us here. We had wandered down a path we shouldn't have, and it was going to made damn sure it would scare the hell out of us.

Visibility was zero. Driving has now, merely ten minutes later, become an exercise in educated guessing. Taillights could be 10 or 5 feet away? It was all prisms and illusion. Cars slowed to forty, then thirty miles per hour. What cars were left on the road anyway. 

Another fifteen minutes, I am now at sea. Semi trucks, now whales spouting and thrashing the tide against my windshield. The beacons, lighthouses afloat amongst us provide no assurance. My hands, glued to a wheel, doing my damnest to see anything between the blink of the rain. Only the bravest are left now, as from what I can tell there is one semi to the right of me, and in the distant past what may be a small sedan. Overhead, trees bend to the will of the wind.

The serene calm, or maybe existential calm of Nietzsche is a distant memory. I turn on the radio, switching to AM looking for weather report, anything. I tune to AM 500 and begin. Static. Click, click. Nothing. The numbers keep ascending. Static, constant. I reach the thousands and nothing. Either Missouri does not believe in AM radio, or the signal is interrupted. Finally, in a twist of fate, I get a channel to tune in. It's broken, but I can faintly hear something. It's I will survive. For real. Should I feel it's a good sign or slanderous?

Eventually the world becomes a clam shade of yellow. There's no one for miles, and I have to pee. An empty gatorade bottle serves me well, though impatiently. Soon I reach a rest stop and pull over. A short, yet full Mexican in an honest cowboy hat sidles over. 

"I thought I was gonna be blown off the road!"  He coughs up, good natured but obviously concerned. We smile together, share a tale of the wind. Once the weather talk is exhausted, we go our separate ways.

->

Back in the car, just outside of Memphis, I put on Chet Baker. Perfect, against a black yellow sky, pushing the world back in little distant figurines, a dangling long saxophone.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Soon, infinite and.

Nomad, something,
what is out there?
Under the shared stars,
we used to see,
before the city
commandeered the night
for exhalation

What will you find?
do you know that
which you seek?
My voice,
dry and shaky,
sings razor,
bleed the sky
Can someone,
listen,
smile unwound,
with me?
will,
meant both ways,
together?

"Do you understand?"
I whisper,
"Cause I know,
some,
who don't"
Lost charm,
alien,
observant,
where each lie
may feel like a
stale death on
your tongue,
always,
till you've no
choice but spit
it out against the wall

Oh,
dreamers,
dance fresh
with me,
for soon,
I am on my way
to your,
big
easy

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dear grass

Oh,
dear grass,
for how I am sorry
But,
If I was being honest,
how I enjoyed,
the smell,
of your pain
as the summer
begins
to yawn

Friday, April 14, 2017

Some scribbles from New Orleans

Bourbon street, one long back alley. Bring out your dead, your proud heathens, and your wound up weary travel toys. Bubbles logged in the fetid air, from unseen windows, desperately trying to clean the mistakes of last night.

The youth walk amongst the din, beauty in legs and breasts and fresh skin, hardly ever sated. Each street, up and down, garbage and the occasional smile wearing a fine white thread suit. Up and down each block, a new ear of jazz.

We couldn’t stop eating, and nor do I think should we. I would sample each dish, with each being made of earthly ingredients, but my God how together they were something heavenly. The deep, rich mud of the gumbo, the tangy flirt of the creole. And the bites of the seafood. No, we should never stop.

Away from the marbled identity of men with simple dreams, come rows of globalization. You could see it sometimes on the horizon, like an impending difference towards the uniqueness of man. I can’t ever think of a reason a building needs more than 8 stories. Yes, 8 is enough for anyone. Let the eye reach, dammit. Let the eye see far, for it causes man to dream.

Sometimes you can get lost in these large crowds. But these crowds, soaked in jubilant jazz seem to hug you. This is not a sad animosity. I watched police men dance with the homeless. I think, I am seeing something very specific, but it felt so good. Watching a mass of noise and color and sound all throb for a single purpose, being human and feeling alive. How I needed this, New Orleans.

And then we watch the little lego houses, carved amongst the bush. I realize, I am sober here. I am sober everywhere. And I feel no less.

Nature offers up warm sun. Fresh air. As we walk, we notice it demands energy as tribute. Still, I don’t sleep well. The mind.

And then I wonder, as I think about leaving. How to separate experience from eternity. How should I not want to hold indefinitely, that which in the moment is perfection. And should I? When, and how, do we bid adieu to that one long, rare night. To that one long, rare love. Never to return, and be warm and peaceful with only a smiling fondness. Is this something we learn, when all we’ve known is tearing longing.

Can I say I am a new on this wind. In this sun. So far from that concrete maze I look on as soley as obligation. We are perched on a gallery, full of youth and resilient.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Don't Let Us Get Sick

Taking a finger picking class, learning, only a few classes in so far. But felt like singing this beautiful Warren Zevon song. Not very good, but progress. Can't seem to get the feel for singing and playing at the same time quite yet.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Great News!

My amazing, courageous Aunt Mary sent this email today, and was happy to share the good news with all. Wish her all the luck in the world, she truly deserves it!

I wanted to give everyone an update on my treatments.
Today, I hopefully had my last chemotherapy treatment.
I have to wait 2-3 weeks, then have my Petscan.
Then a week later see the doctor.
I feel like I have gone through this as well as you possibly could. I know it is because of all of the many prayers, love, and healing, being sent to me .
I feel so very blessed, and I am eternally grateful.
I love, and, appreciate you all,so very much.
I asked for continued prayers for a great outcome.
I love you
Mary

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thoughts during the marvelous Paterson

I could have observed in silence and understood. How so beautifully observed. It made me question the value of music. But maybe it wasn't about understanding. The music was another, though, and it tore even deeper. The first word was complacency, how I wished, I even had that. The darkened beauty of turmoil I barter in, for currently, and ever, feels so lonely. I prayed for that simple complacency. And empathy. Another, who understood. It's been so long, Lord?

Everything I do simple seems so obvious and stupid, everything complex so absurdist. Where are you, comfortable skin.

And clockwork. Deep, red veins of admiration, like some mine that would take disrupting the entire body to unearth. Would it be worth what to find. How I long for beauty. The years have made all that beauty I see that much more. Distant.

I could think between the cracks. The slow linger, the perfect shape. How to go between those buried moments to those casual hello. But listen, close enough. What you hear, what they say, becomes you. Manifest, was it you - or them, or the abyss.

I remember once, months ago, I ran out of cat food. The cat, stared, and yelled at me for ideas. There was a can of tuna, so I opened it, carefully placed the pink white fish in the bowl, and discarded the tin after rinsing it a bit. Gracie pulled up and sat for a meal that would last only as long as it took her to swallow. Now, every night, after I place her cat food in the bowl, she walks back to that cabinet, sits and begs. It was a chance, one time, she got lucky. She got lucky once.

My God, that ending. And just before that, the rain stopped. Now I resume scared quietly.

Friday, March 31, 2017

An Update

In a way, typing thoughts out has become a bit abhorrent. Possibly a bit of exhaustion, racing too hard, too fast, or possibly a bit too long. And as such, updates have been less frequent.

Not to say, though, that there has been a creative inertia. More of a working perfectionism. 

A while back, After the first 101 songs were recorded, I realized my process was a bit flawed, a bit too cumbersome in the mixing/mastering/transfer phase, and it was causing me to shy away from making minor tweaks as the whole export down would take an hour or so, per song. Which was fine, until I realized gain levels were off for the lot of them. Mostly I think it was an unwillingness at any point to say something was "complete". It's odd how the concept of finality, for even a single song, has become a frightening prospect. So, I left everything in a mostly complete state, eyeing that glorious moment when I knew everything would be right to say, "and now I finish it".

After so many years on this Earth, you'd think I'd have a handle on that such naivety, but apparently not. What ended up happening was a centennial lot of music that became daunting to adjust. Luckily, there is a level of zen to performing a somewhat repetative task, and for a few weeks I spent doing what were mostly automaton tasks of changing how each song worked with Logic, Ozone, and the other various effects.

And now, it is done. Each song is now a simple, friendly bit of clay I can quickly and painlessly mold as my ears grow to it's subtleties. It's funny how, when in the weeds, you loose sight of your intentions. The idea of this project, late 2015, was 365 songs I could tinker with, simply change anywhere and anyhow, and over time it became this, dare I say, enterprise level tangle of complexity. Well, no more, I say.


So hopefully, with much of the overhead sliced neatly off the top, I'll be back as a nimble cat in pursuit of capturing those fleeing highs and lows, and momentary insights that sound so important for the moment they exist.

Friday, January 27, 2017

American Artist

Been thinking about what it means to be an artist. What defines art, internally and externally, aesthetics, the philosophy of critique. Why mankind is driven to create. Toiling in anonymity, the naive romance of it all, the crushing reality of indifference, the opacity of internal compulsion and combustion.

Any existential examination. And it made me re-watch one of my favorite films of all time, American Movie.

Such an amazing film. A documentary, well, I won't try to explain it. I'll let the incomparable and truly missed Roger Ebert do that. Read here.

Past that, I think most of all, the subject of the film, Mark Borchardt, inspires me. He is a broken, impulsive, aimless, ignorant, idealistic, romantic, probably irrelevant, determined, and often times clueless artist that I can empathize with. But he never gives up. A quick search shows he's still trying, ignored by all, but undeterred.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Making Other Plans

Now is the winter of some discontent. or at best general malaise- at worst, something deeper and darker. With that said, there happened some.

The 365 song album is coming along, albeit at a less rapid pace then it had earlier in the year. There are 97 finished songs, and several others fragmented, and then hundreds of sketches. So as I bluster up the might I do record. Mostly hoping I can shake a bit of this stardust off to find that manic drive I had a few months ago, dozens at a whim.

I've been working harder on my novel. After thousands and thousands of words, I had to stop and think about exactly where it was going. Then edit, re-write, and layout the volumes in some story-telling fashion. At times it feels like the amount ahead is somewhere approaching infinite, and I don't have the tuned sense with writing as I do with music to innately intuit when something flows well. I am learning, painfully.

Mostly though, it is hard to just think. I've become so consumed by panic and just an absurd amount of inanity that it's so hard to just sit still, calm, and think. Almost have to be feverishly scribbling, aimlessly, or I get frozen with terror when the time comes to actually make sense of it all. Again, learning. It will get better.

As well, learning Lightroom as best I can to make way of the last few years of scattershot photos and make sure they don't hibernate away on some corner of a hard drive. For a brief while I hosted an open mic and that was lovely, but soon to end due to a change in the cafe ownership. 'Twas nice while it lasted.

I suppose I have gotten to a point where I realize I can't predict anything anymore, if ever. Clairvoyance is not a skill I possess. What I am trying my best to do, learned from mindfulness, is to live in the moment, each fully and not wasted. In that comes live itself, or better, from John Lennon, "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."