Tuesday, February 9, 2010
As I contemplate my official final entry of the T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blog, I am left with a tremendous sense of circle. Today was spent remembering minute by minute the course of another day. Circling around another through another year. I now fully understand that the reason the anniversaries are intense is that the “that was then, this is now” comparison becomes quite stark.
Two years have now passed since the last day that T. Scot Halpin walked this Earth. On that last day, he cut his son’s hair, did research on the Internet, and ate homemade soup for lunch with me. A few hours later his spirit left his mortal body. Scot was truly preparing to cross over in an angelic way.
For weeks before he died, he made me shut off the news. Instead we listened to wonderful self-help tapes and talks by famous teachers. He cut up magazine pictures and made a huge collage. It was only after he had passed that I realized that he had made a big poster of beautiful sunsets, people smiling and hugging one another. He set this up across from his bed so that when he couldn’t sleep, he could look over and see these beautiful things.
There are certain very poignant moments when the memory of Scot’s physical reality pour in. One for instance today, I just found a pair of reading glasses (that first belonged to my Mom) that Scot had taken to use. Yes even Super Blue Eyes needed readers.
Scot chewed things, and in this case, it was the arms of those glasses. We know for sure Scot was here because of those chew marks. In this case, “I chewed, therefore I am.” works. Now at the two-year marker, I am strangely confused. Scot is still so alive in my heart that I feel almost no separation, yet here I remain, living a new life, full to the very brim, but utterly confounded by the chew marks on a pair of glasses.
This being the last official blog entry I think I am allowed some sentimentality? As for today’s musical track, I have to admit, I had found a long time ago. It had to be this song. Scot, in my opinion, had been given grace. He was a great man. He was a humble man. As I wrote in his obituary, he left this world on a beam of radiant love light. I will forever shine in his grace.
This is a BC session with friend Mike Stiegltz on guitar. Scot is singing lead vocals and playing bass. I direct your listening attention to the lovely guitar interplay with Scot’s bass—both Mike and Jerry Farnsworth, who is the man responsible for bringing this wonderful window into the life of T. Scot Halpin.
A sweeter refrain there could never be, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, I was blind, but now I see.”
Another reality blip is the little cough on the tape, yes there Scot sat in that room creating this beautiful music, but he was also a man who coughed. In this case the saying must go, “I cough, therefore I am.” I love that the track skips to Scot solo, (just how he like it, heavy on the echo), right down to the hand- claps.
As for the artwork, this is an art-by the ream piece done in 2004. A familiar theme--by the light of a candle—light a candle against the darkness--this little light of mine. Candle as focal point. Candle as illumination. Keep a candle burning in the window.
The last word is, this is not the last word. I do plan to go back and fill in all those blank post pages. Fill in the stories I left out, but I intend to keep making posts to the blog. When I come across a piece of artwork as I'm working in the archive, that screams out, share me. I will. So keep posted. I will also be adding a face to my silloette and facebook, so look for more information about the work of T. Scot Halpin, alive and well in the world, as well as all the other stuff I'm doing, go to my facebook page, Robin Halpin Young.
Finally, thank you, to all who have followed me on this journey. We are all part of a beloved circle. Thank you with all my heart. rhy
Monday, February 8, 2010
I usually listen to the musical track a good two or three times in the course of creating a post. I have listened to this piece in full three times now. Each time I have found it terrifying. I am sorry to have left this for last because there is a whole ‘nother story going on during Scot’s last days of walking the planet. There aren’t enough joyful words on the planet to describe all that.
There was this internal world that Scot lived in that none of us could know or understand—we only got glimpses. Coming to it now, this music scarily fits. The discomfort. The unpleasantness. The wanting it to end.
But enough of that. What I want to write about now is some of the underlying themes of this piece as I remember them, now looking back. While Composer-in-Residence, Scot did many pieces that were gentle, magnificent and pleasant to listen to. This piece was not one of those.
Remember now, this place had only just recently come to be a home to artist-in-residences and a terrific place for patrons to party. It had been a house of war. There was a darkness there. Memories were buried in the splinters of the place.
The hillsides were dotted with bunkers and artillery installations. Up until just recently, it had been a private, guarded space. The landscape has been sculpted for its purposes. The real landscape couldn’t help but make its impact, salt upon metal pipes, corrosion, waves and tides pulling and pushing, depositing and washing away.
Scot and I spent the ‘Harmonic Convergence’ there. Remember that? It was billed as sort of a preparation for achieving the proper planetary tuning to help the planet traverse the 2012 cataclysm. If I ever saw an alien close up it was that day. The headland was crawling with them all in their white flowey gowns and laurel leaf crowns. I’m going out on a limb here, but the place did have a special vibe. If I was an alien, that’s where I would land.
Anyway, this music has all of these themes. There is also a lot of reversing going on, a sort of undoing. Getting stuff ready to guide back to its own dark place. There are 14 segments. Yesterday, February 7, 2010 we heard parts 1-7. Today we will hear parts 8-14.
Part I comes on strong with the reverse loops. In this piece so much is coming from the past. Certainly the base, the barrack, the latrine, but also the thick heavy steel frame and doors that had recently been installed as possible the first performance toilet. An early scraping motif is established.
In Part II, we begin to hear something like a whisper, as if there is something here that wants telling, but it afraid and distant. In Part III we are introduced to some swishing that for me works as both the ocean—the natural world crashing along just outside the door, but also life with no shadow—no shadow because it lives in the dark.
In Part IV another motif is introduced, metal as it sways. Right around the time Scot was doing this piece, a sound performance artist working at the Center had hooked up a mike on the Golden Gate Bridge. This feed combined the natural sounds of gulls and wave, but also an unbelievable amount of groaning coming straight from the tresses of the bridge. Scot went in search of the resonance within those doors.
Part V brings in a buzz, almost insect in nature and tone, but not. Part VI brings us another almost animal-like sound—whale song—transmitted for long distance. But the whale song becomes metallic—definitely not warm blooded—a radar echo. Comfort comes in Part VII. Echoes of waves and distant foghorns resonate from the metal.
Part VIII, a landing of sorts. The natural world is reconnoitered. In Part IX secrets are whispered. Played back. Sent back. By Part X, the backwards circles have gotten huge. A vortex emerges. In Part XI imagine a backwards slingshot, bits breaking off and flying loose. The sound files up all the space available. In Part XII, XIII & XIV we are still with the sound, the secrets, the discomfort, but the sound has been released. Sucked through a straw where it has become checked into the library of cosmic resonances. The work ends abruptly, so watch out.
Today’s artwork done in 2006. More sepia. More surrealism.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
OK, all you T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blogsters. Today I offer up a semi-disturbing post. My own personal peace of mind is swaying in the breeze of two years passing of my beloved. In two days, we remember the day he fell, minute by minute.
Today’s musical post is almost the world premiere of this work that was composed (constructed) while Scot was Composer-in-Residence. I’m afraid there’s going to be a fair amount of background for this piece.
To begin with, let me say that this entire piece was created using a host of percussive striking and brushing instruments and Scot’s semi-new 4-track Teak tape recorder—and of course Scot’s there as the catalyst.
Background site: Site is was an operative word. We were in buildings that were built in 1902 to house army folks in the Marin Headlands—the thinking being—defend the Golden Gate. These buildings came to house the WWII guys that we had up there defending us from the Japanese invasion.
Scot and I came to this facility in 1986. Scot had been accepted into the ‘Inter-Arts’ graduate program at San Francisco State University. Scot took a class that was actually being held in the above mentioned barrick buildings.
Scot was in fine form in these days and quickly became a pet of the teacher, Leonard Hunter, who was conducting his class at the currently being rehabbed Headlands Center for the Arts, who also happened to be on the board of said newly created Center, and who also just happened to be on the committee that picked the first round of Artist in Residence for the Center.
Long Story Short, we were out there when real volunteers were out there carving out an art space. We were there when the ‘administrators’ arrived with their visions and their mandates. It wasn’t pretty for all of us that felt it was already ours. Much was made of the installation that was commissioned for the latrine. The center was left with the problem of converting a uni-sex military latrine into a facility that could be used by high and low donor alike.
I clearly remember the night Scot recorded/performed this piece. All the ‘administrators’ were leaving for the day. They saw us setting up the recording equipment and were clearly uncomfortable leaving us in charge the thousands of dollars of quarter inch sheet metal that had been installed into the space to create stalls. What I loved was the feeling we had when we left. We owned the space again.
Scot and I rigged speakers to have the piece play in the “latrine” during an open house while he was ‘Artist-in-Residence”. The director asked him to turn it off. Scot let it play a little while longer, but then shut it off. That was the last the Center knew of the piece. I am hoping that through this blog and communication with the folks who are now in charge, new to the person, to bring the composition back home.
I find this music particularly appropriate now because, speaking of reliving Scot’s last days, minutes, hours—there was a lot of discomfort. Bless him, but he was suffering so and I could not see it for what it was. I was still hoping for more years? The last days, I’m afraid were a lot like this track.