Several weeks ago, I got the unhappy news that an old friend, whom I had been in communication with on Facebook, and had spent a lot of time with back in High School, had suffered a stroke and was basically brain dead. It took some time after this fact, to pull the plug, and let him pass into another aspect of existence (if there is one.) News like this always is provocative. But where Glenn Leslie was concerned, there is a little bit more. As I keep getting likes on some of the stories I told on FB on Glenn’s page, I thought it would be good to share them here for better posterity.
My friend, Glenn Leslie, was the key figure during our senior year in High School, to introduce me to a world of music that I am still very much enamored with. That music, which we knew as “Avante Garde” rock or progressive rock was mostly hard to come by, as much of it had no radio play back in those days, nor still does. It is omitted from many rock histories, even though many of its’ protagonists are still around and composing music.
Some of these bands got radio play: Genesis and Pink Floyd. But many that did not: Hatfield of the North, Henry Cow, King Crimson, Gong, Egg, Brian Eno, Mike Oldfield, Kevin Ayers, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt and on and on. For these unheard bands, there was Glenn’s basement, where he had the best stereo system among us, and record collection that seemed to span two walls.
In his later years, Glenn never married. He was obsessively devoted to music, had been a Roadie for the likes of Lou Reed, and then later as a booking agent for some progressive acts (he worked with Neal Smith, former drummer for Alice Cooper. Interview here)
When asked, I provided some stories about my old friend. He was a character. We remember him as a the guy who could jam an entire apple into his mouth which he would do with an intense growl.
When in HS, Glenn used to get an allowance. We never really understood his living set-up. It seemed his mother was never around, and his father had died years earlier. so he lived in a house with his sister (who we also never saw), near school. He had this allowance that was supposed to be for food and such and he spent a large portion of it on records. He fancied himself a reviewer. He would buy everything and then listen to it. He once told me that while doing this, he had a new J Geils Band album, which in the middle of listening to, he ripped from the turn table and tossed it out the window. that was his review. He would troll thru Melody Maker Magazine for reviews on progressive music, which is how he discovered many of the groups he later turned the rest of us onto. We would spend a lot of time filing through the British Imports section at Korvettes.
When I spoke to him on the phone about a decade ago, just around the time my son was born, he told me of the goings on in his life. Mostly stuff about Fred Frith and music he was involved with. But then he asked me about some of the girls we hung out with in Alley Pond Park, none of whom I had a clue about what happened to. I said Glenn “surely most of them are married with kids by now. Is that what you really want?” He was locked in a time warp. But recently when I worked on the $100 Guitar Project with Nick D, I asked Nick how he knew Glenn. And he had some very positive things to say about Glenn being very helpful and caring for outsider musicians. Glenn was an advocate for creativity in music. And you see how rare this is. Everyday I see stuff from people “this is my new band” and they churn out the same riffs, the same rhythms, the same tempos, the same hooks, as have been rehashed a million times. Glenn opened us up to music that took a risk. That exercised intelligence. Music that had a quest. He hated the Grateful Dead because they represented a kind of “nod your head” in complete blissful boringness. He wanted to see the creative in the music. He cherished inventiveness.
One last story I will relate. One time while driving in Glenn’s car, we were talking about creativity and music. I had just taken up the guitar a bit more seriously. I had begun to teach my self music using the Carcassi Method of classical playing. I told Glenn why I was doing it.
“I hear music in my head. Although I love a lot of these bands, I still cannot hear what it is I want,” I said. “Then what is it you want to hear” Glenn asked. Then I began to create the most ridiculous composition out of my mouth. It included all kinds of spitting noises, mouth farting in rhythm, high pitched screaming mixed with some humming. “you can’t do that” Glenn exclaimed.
I said, “I just did.”
Rest in Peace.
Well I am in shock. I have hit 99% on my Rocket Hub campaign with still 28 days to go. This has been an exceptional learning experience. This puts me a step closer to having my book, 84 Drawings realized.
Now the goal is to have the funding reach beyond my own networks in order to exceed my goals. This is not a profit seeking venture. My goal is to share my work with the world.
I WILL NOT BE SELLING HARD COVER BOOKS AFTER THE CAMPAIGN CLOSES.
84 Drawings by Bruce Zeines
with a foreword by Lee Van Laer of Parabola Magazine.
This book is the result of 3 years of constant drawing.
Just wanted to let you know I finally finished the book. If you know anyone who might be interested, I am running it right now as a crowd funding project, which means I am looking for help from the community to publish the book. Please feel free to share with your lists.
Finally the book is done!
After 3 years of constant drawing, I have compiled my book “84 Drawings” with a foreword by Lee Van Laer of Parabola Magazine.
Reaching out into the imaginal, he has created what Ibn ‘Arabi would call a barzakh—a reconciling bridge—which occupies the gap between material reality and the world of ideas. Each image draws us deep into questions about what happens when the “real” world is deconstructed back into the various fragments of emotion, thought, and tactile sensation that assemble themselves into our ordinary impressions.… This is a book you will find yourself picking up in those idle moments when the mind is in need of an unusual piece of stimulation; a special tidbit, something out of the ordinary. Every time you pick it up, it will look new all over again. — Lee Van Laer —from the Foreword
Currently, I am working on raising funds through Rocket Hub in order to be able to publish 100 hard copies.
There is more information about the campaign at the link below. There are incentives for donating, but anyone donating at least $25 will receive an e-book. The goal is to make the book available to as many as possible.
Sustainable Flatbush will convert its 340 square foot container garden, located at the historic Flatbush Reformed Church, into a culinary and medicinal herb garden.
We will cultivate up to 30 varieties of herbs in tiered raised beds, planters, and vertical wall gardens. Our garden will contain a mini hoop house for seed propagation, worm compost bin, worktable, and seating area. We will create two native pollinator garden beds at the garden entrance, to attract bees and other beneficial insects, and build a simple rainwater harvest and drip irrigation system.
Our herb garden will serve as an outdoor classroom, demonstrating basic urban agricultural techniques and offering workshops on the uses and benefits of herbs as both food and medicine. We will provide volunteer and internship opportunities, and pursue partnerships with members of our local community, neighborhood schools, and social service organizations.
The purpose of our ioby campaign is to raise money to build the garden infrastructure.
Construction will be completed over a 2-week period, beginning in early April. We have engaged a professional carpenter to direct our project and work with our interns and volunteers. Because zero waste is one of the main initiatives of Sustainable Flatbush, we will include as much repurposed material in our project as possible. BIG!NYC has already committed 750 linear feet of reclaimed lumber to our project.
Why we’re doing it
Green Spaces and Public Health
Although New York City boasts many parks and recreation facilities, and is home to more than 700 farms and gardens, many neighborhoods still lack adequate access to open green space. Our garden is located in the heart of Flatbush, a densely populated urban neighborhood — around 147,000 residents in a 2.3 square mile radius. Flatbush has one of the lowest ratios of open space per resident in the city, as well as a myriad of health problems: obesity, diabetes, lack of physical activity, and more.
Gardens create an opportunity for people to come together by growing fresh, healthy food to nourish their communities and neighborhoods. In addition, gardens provide many other social benefits beyond improving the quality of life for those working in the garden: they provide a catalyst for neighborhood development, stimulate social interaction (especially across generations), beautify neighborhoods, preserve green spaces, and provide opportunities for physical activity and environmental education — just to name a few.
Flatbush has no community gardens registered with GrowNYC, GreenThumb lists only one, and OasisNYC identifies only two on its map. This serves to illustrate the need for more publicly accessible urban green spaces in a neighborhood that is clearly ill-served.
We will use our garden as an outdoor classroom where community members, especially youth, can learn about sustainable agricultural techniques and water conservation practices in an urban setting, and about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of food that they have helped to grow for their own consumption.
We will provide internship opportunities for high school and college students, and open the garden to classroom visits and service learning opportunities throughout the year. We are already partnering with two local high schools in this effort — International High School @ Prospect Heights and Academy of Hospitality and Tourism High School @ Erasmus Hall.
We will partner with Sacred Vibes Apothecary, a local medicinal herb dispensary, to conduct workshops during the summer for our community on the use and benefits of herbs as both food and medicine.
Bread for the Journey, the Flatbush Reformed Church’s emergency food program, provides a hot lunch every Wednesday and Saturday as part of their mission to serve our community. Although the program serves the most needy in our neighborhood, it is open to all regardless of economic circumstances, and has become a way to build community across social barriers. Sustainable Flatbush will continue to provide fresh produce from our garden for the church kitchen’s meal preparation.
Budai is said to travel giving candy to poor children, only asking a penny from Zen monks or lay practitioners he meets. One day a monk walks up to him and asks, “What is the meaning of Zen?” Budai drops his bag. “How does one realize Zen?” he continues. Budai then takes up his bag and continues on his way.
Last night I lay on the couch staring across the room at my “laughing Buddha.” This statue came into my possession after my mother passed away in 2003. We never understood where or why my mother had this thing. She had no inclinations toward eastern thought, although she watched episodes of Kung Fu with me when I was a teen. We are not even sure how she got it. But she always loved it. It had a prominent place in our house …right above the television set. And there it stayed, even after my father passed on and she moved to a new apartment. When I asked her about it, she would just say “I don’t know, I just like it.”
So with my own proclivities for the mystic path, it was the one item she had that I really wanted. I bring this up because the reason I was suddenly mesmerized by it last evening, was because of the sudden passing of our local neighborhood stalwart Ric Menello.
The connection comes from an interview I did with Ric a few years ago, when I took on the ambitious task of interviewing the many creative and interesting patrons from our local cafe, Vox Pop. For some reason, this laughing Buddha came up in our conversation.
His uncle gave his mother the first one because she could not have a baby. It is also known as the Buddha of fertility.
“Then she had me. I was her laughing Buddha.”
In a sense, Ric was the laughing Buddha. He was unassuming, generous, warm and full of stories. Ric and I would often talk about esoteric aspects of film such as Akira Ifukube who was the main composer for all of the Godzilla films as well as other Japanese monster flicks. He knew as much about film as Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert. And he had a take on it that was completely unique.
I will not go into Ric’s place in the world of cinema other than to supply this link to his imdb page. His passing leaves an empty seat in a lot of hearts. Vox Pop was an adventure that lasted but a brief period in time. A place where artists and intellectuals came to gather for poetry, song and activism. Above all, we came together as a community. Sadly New York real estate has no compassion for such things. I have since moved to the outskirts of the 11226 zip code. Ric Menello’s passing just illustrates that our time here on this planet is precious, and that we should not waste our existence. Ric was a good example of magnanimity. A quality not so easily found in our modern world. Rest in peace old friend.
I am by no means a communist. And here I will confess that I never even read Marx’s Communist Manifesto. But I am totally enamored by the Zeitgeist films and Peter Joseph, the mind behind them. I mention Marx simply because these ideas could be taken as a kind of new communism. And in truth, I caution myself in the fact that although much of what is spoken of in the movies and short clips is, to me, truth, it has the potential of being misused. Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I urge you, if you have a conscience about the world you currently occupy, to watch them and digest some of the ideas in them.Given the incidents of the past week, they need serious consideration.
The following was in response to the Newtown school shootings
As the tragedy was pouring in through news feeds, yesterday, I watched my wife as she was transfixed to the computer. Fortunately, we do not own an idiot box. I can understand the effect. A tragic course of events being blurted at you repeatedly all day long. It can make one really depressed.
In the face of this most recent tragedy, one has to reflect deeply. There is no rational response to such occurrences. This morning, as I sat on the cushion, opening myself up to a deeper contemplation, the pain of those directly affected by the Connecticut tragedy entered my stream of thought and feeling. There was no place for it to go. It was undigestible.
I feel The Onion said it best: “Fuck Everything, Nation Reports: Just Fuck It All To Hell!”
Truthfully, what else can one say? All the blather about guns, and gun control, does not even scratch the surface of the deep psychological distortion, our country is experiencing at this moment. I am only writing as to help me try to find a place within myself that can understand.
When a nation starts killing its children, we need to take a deep look at where we are and how we got here. And, yes, I said our country has killed these children. The world as it has come to be formed in 2012, has committed murder.
A few years ago I suggested to my wife that we would see a lot more events like this. America, much like the rest of western society, has taken on a new religion: the church of money.
This church is built on nothing but an unending desire for stuff, and a complete renunciation of any spiritual foundation. What I mean about “spiritual foundation” is a sense of purpose, a search for meaning in our daily existence, and using our daily breath to guide us into activities that give some support to this inquiry. Of course we have always had to find useful ways to maintain existence, but overall, we should try to do things in the world that do not harm others. To say the least, this statement flies in the face of capitalism where it is every man for himself and screw the others who do not see it that way.
What happens in this fight for our spirit is that there are so many who are left abandoned. What seems to mark the most recent tragedies such as the mall shooting in Portland is that there seems to be no real motive. Something just snapped. But if we are honest with ourselves, we should see that this sickness has been coming on us for a long, long time.
“We talk about civilization as though it’s a static state. There are no civilized people yet, it’s a process that’s constantly going on… As long as you have war, police, prisons, crime, you are in the early stages of civilization.” —Jacque Fresco
America has been killing its’ children since it was founded. We send them to war to fight rich men’s battles in the name of freedom. We sent soldiers to massacre tribal villages in the name of expansionism and religious conversion. We send children off to school to sit behind institutionalized walls, while the parents are ripped from the nurturing process in order to chase this capitalistic dream. And we sell guns like they are toys. Every movie on the silver screen involves guns and shooting scenarios. We are entertained by violence. And then we wonder how one isolated character can suddenly, in their utter loneliness cross the line from fantasy into reality and act out in the most heinous way.
It is a sign that our nation is dying. Maybe it needs to so that something new can emerge. When Black Friday shoppers are compared to a cinematic version of Zombies, we need to take the analogy seriously. What happened in Connecticut is the work of a zombie. A creature that moves through humanity, taking life without any conscience as to what it is doing. A zombie is basically a killing machine. A man who can kill 20 young children can only be that. Compare it to the My Lai Massacre and you may have a better understanding about what is happening in America. We are at war. But now, we are at war with ourselves. And unfortunately, it has only begun. And only by finding a real sense of purpose again, a renewed reason to move about the world that is not motivated by money, then we are in for more of this. I appeal to those who have some sense to look within. You are very needed now.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ― Rumi