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European Luxury in the heart of California

Hearst Castle – My Dream Pool – Have You Been Here?

California. If I had a billion dollars, I’d probably either buy the Hearst Castle or build something like it somewhere else. It’s not just this beautiful pool of dreams but the zebras in the pastures at San Simeon, the excitement of hidden passages, and the perfection of the climate and rural landscape near the ocean. It would probably cost more than a billion dollars, right?

European Luxury in the heart of California

Rimbaud_harar_2

Arthur Rimbaud – Vagabond Poet

Each Wednesday, I write a column on Vagobond called “What am I doing here?” – while it’s a logical enough question for a guy like me who generally finds himself somewhere new each week, in fact – the inspiration for the title comes from a rather Extraordinary Vagabond poet named Arthur Rimbaud.

Further Reading on Rimbaud
The LIfe of Rimbaud

A Season in Hell and the Drunken Boat

Rimbaud by Jack Kerouac

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud.  Not the least of reasons why Rimbaud is worthy of knowing about is because he was a libertine poet who only lived to the age of 37 but had a profound influence on world literature and you can say his name as John Rambo.  Cool right?

He was born 20 October 1854 and was described by Victor  Hugo as “an infant Shakespeare”.  This was during his teen years when the young Rimbaud was rebelling in a pure James Dean way through getting drunk, being rude, composing poems about shit (literally), stealing books and allowing his hair to grow long.

He was attempting (according to letters at the time) to develop a method for attaining poetical transcendence or visionary power through a “long, intimidating, immense and rational derangement of all the senses. The sufferings are enormous, but one must be strong, be born a poet, and I have recognized myself as a poet.”

I’m now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I’m working at turning myself into a seer. You won’t understand any of this, and I’m almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It’s really not my fault.

Rimbaud, like a lot of great travelers, was a bit queer. He had a short and powerful affair with the poet Verlaine which became notorious as the two raged through Paris and London in a haze of hashish and absinthe. Keep in mind that Rimbaud was still a young teen at this point but gained a reputation as a true terror. Verlaine during the relationship, abandoned his wife and child and the two lived in a hectic squalor before parting ways.  A reunion of the two in Brussels went terribly wrong when  the drunk and angryVerlaine shot the 18 year old Rimbaud in the wrist with a pistol. Verlaine went to prison and Rimbaud began to wander about Europe, Asia and Africa – mostly on foot.

Wanting to go further afield he joined the Dutch Colonial Army and went to the island of Java where he deserted and continued his explorations. From there he traveled to Cyprus, Ethiopia, Yemen, Somalia and more travel amongst Europe.

If you doubt the influence of poets on culture, check out this blurb from wikipedia:

Rimbaud’s poetry, as well as his life, made an indelible impression on 20th century writers, musicians and artists. Pablo Picasso,Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Vladimir Nabokov, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Giannina Braschi, Léo Ferré, Henry Miller, Van Morrison and Jim Morrison have been influenced by his poetry and life. Here is Kerouac’s poem – Rimbaud

Arthur! On t’ appela pas Jean!
Born in 1854 cursing in Charle-
ville thus paving the way for
the abominable murderousnesses
of Ardennes—No wonder your father left!
So you entered school at 8
—Proficient little Latinist you!
In October of 1869
Rimbaud is writing poetry
in Greek French—
Takes a runaway train

to Paris without a ticket,
the miraculous Mexican Brakeman
throws him off the fast
train, to Heaven, which
he no longer travels because
Heaven is everywhere—
Nevertheless the old fags
intervene—
Rimbaud nonplussed Rimbaud
trains in the green National
Guard, proud marching
in the dust with his heroes—
hoping to be buggered,
dreaming of the ultimate Girl.
—Cities are bombarded as
he stares & stares & chews
his degenerate lip & stares
with gray eyes at
Walled France—

Andre Gill was forerunner
to Andre Gide—
Long walks reading poems
in the Genet Haystacks—
The Voyant is born,
the deranged seer makes his
first Manifesto,
gives vowels colors
& consonants carking care,
comes under the influence
of old French Fairies
who accuse him of constipation
of the brain & diarrhea
of the mouth—
Verlaine summons him to Paris
with less aplomb than he
did banish girls to
Abyssinis—

Merde! screams Rimbaud
at Verlaine salons—
Gossip in Paris—Verlaine Wife
is jealous of a boy
with no seats to his trousers
—Love sends money from Brussels
—Mother Rimbaud hates
the importunity of Madame
Verlaine—Degenerate Arthur is suspected
of being a poet by now—
Screaming in the barn
Rimbaud writes Season in Hell,
his mother trembles
Verlaine sends money & bullets
into Rimbaud—
Rimbaud goes to the police
& presents his innocence
like the pale innocence of
his divine feminine Jesus
—Poor Verlaine, 2 years
in the can, but could have
got a knife in the heart

—Illuminations! Stuttgart!
Study of Languages!
On foot Rimbaud walks
& looks thru the Alpine
passes into Italy, looking
for clover bells, rabbits,
Genie Kingdoms & ahead
of his nothing but the old
Canaletto death of sun
on old Venetian buildings
—Rimbaud studies language
—hears of the Alleghanies,
of Brooklyn, of last
American Plages—
His angel sister dies—
Vienne! He looks at pastries
& pets old dogs! I hope!
This mad cat joins
the Dutch Army
& sails for Java
commanding the fleet
at midnight
on the bow, alone,
no one hears his Command
but every fishy shining in
the sea—August is
no time to stay in Java—
Aiming at Egypt, he’s again
hungup in Italy so he goes back
home to deep armchair
but immediately he goes
again, to Cyprus, to
run a gang of quarry workers,—
what did he look like now.this later
Rimbaud?—Rock dust
& black backs & hacks
of coughers, the dream rises
in the Frenchman’s Africa mind,—
Invalids from the tropics are always
loved—The Red Sea
in June, the coast clanks
in Arabia—Havar,
Havar, the magic trading
post—Aden, Aden,
South of Bedouin—
Ogaden, Ogaden, never
known—(Meanwhile
Verlaine sits in Paris
over cognacs wondering
what Arthur looks like now,
& how bleak their eyebrows
because they believed
in earlier eyebrow beauty)—
Who cares? What kinda
Frenchmen are these? Rimbaud, hit me
over the head with that rock!
Serious Rimbaud composes
elegant & learned articles
for National Geographic
Societies, & after wars
commands Harari Girl
(Ha Ha!) back
to Abyssinia, & she
was young, had black
eyes, thick lips, hair
curled, & breasts like
polished brown with
copper teats & ringlets
on her arms &
joined her hands upon her central loin &
had shoulders as broad as
Arthur’s & little ears
—A girl of some
caste, in Bronzeville—

Rimbaud also knew
thinbonehipped Polynesians
with long tumbling hair &
tiny tits & big feet

Finally he starts
trading illegal guns
in Tajoura
riding in caravans, Mad,
with a belt of gold
around his waist—
Screwed by King Menelek!
The Shah of Shoa!
The noises of these names
in that noisy
French mind!

Cairo for the summer,
bitter lemon wind
& kisses in the dusty park
where girls sit
folded at
dusk
thinking nothing—

Havar! Havar!
By litter to Zeyla
he’s carried moaning
his birthday—the boat
returns to chalk castle
Marseilles sadder than
time, than dream,
sadder than water
—Carcinoma, Rimbaud
is eaten by the disease
of overlife—They cut off
his beautiful leg—
He dies in the arms
of Ste Isabelle
his sister
& before rising to Heaven
sends his francs to Djami, Djami the Havari boy
his dody servant
8 years in the African
Frenchman’s Hell,
& it all adds up
to nothing, like
Dostoevsky, Beethoven
or Da Vinci—

So, poets, rest awhile
& shut up:
Nothing ever came
of nothing.

Written in 1958 and published as a City Lights broadside in 1960.

Rimbaud’s life has been portrayed in several films. Italian filmmaker Nelo Risi’s 1970 film Una stagione all’inferno (“A Season in Hell”) starred Terence Stamp as Rimbaud and Jean Claude Brialy as Paul Verlaine. In 1995 Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland directed Total Eclipse, which was based on a play by Christopher Hampton who also wrote the screenplay. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud and David Thewlis as Paul Verlaine.

Further Reading on Rimbaud
The LIfe of Rimbaud

A Season in Hell and the Drunken Boat

Rimbaud by Jack Kerouac

A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.

Henry Rollins – Punk Rock Vagabond

A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.
A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.

 

Henry Rollins is more than an actor, DJ, spoken word artist, and musician punk rocker. He’s also a vagabond activist and world traveler.

I’ve been a fan of Rollins since the mid-80′s when I was introduced to Black Flag.

Rollins is an outspoken human rights activist and speaks out on social justice, gay rights, and crusades against war and oppression all over the globe. On his spoken word tours he promotes equality including raising money in support of gay-marriage organizations.

During the 2003 Iraq War, he toured with the USO while remaining against the war, at a base in Kyrgyzstan he told the crowd “Your commander would never lie to you. That’s the vice president’s job.” Rollins has toured in Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan (twice), Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Honduras, Japan, Korea and the United Arab Emirates where he has performed on US bases. He has also traveled throughout the globe both for performances and to learn about the world.

Rollins joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in 2008 to launch a groundbreaking national public service advertisement campaign, CommunityofVeterans.org, which helps veterans coming home from war reintegrate into their communities.

Rollins has summed-up his approach to activism, “This is where my anger takes me, to places like this, not into abuse but into proactive, clean movement”

His latest book goes into detail about that. Occupants

RollinsFor the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earth—from Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyond—articulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.

In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographs—taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces—the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy.

Check out Occupants – or at the least enjoy some of his spoken word on youtube – Rollins is awesome.