Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A bit of kiyotei before the Arenellas

Another day, another stash of mail, a few more delicate artworks to file away so I can find them again in times of trouble.

Trying to verify the order of creation of these pieces is often difficult. Sometimes, the artist has not dated the piece, at other times a date on the postcard has been obliterated by cancellation marks, and at still other times the dated cancellation from the postal service hits an unsteady part of the card and becomes unreadable.

kiyotei’s “Ryosuke C.”

I’m fairly certain that kiyotei (who is out in Carlsbad, California) created the first card in this chronological sequence. The obverse contains a photograph of a roadrunner against the reddish desert to which kiyotei has added a few characters of asemic writing with a red marker. The reverse of the card includes an artist’s stamp (“Matangi Island Diva”), a few rubberstamped Asian characters, and a fidgetglyphic wrawing by kiyotei entitled “Ryosuke C.” and identified (I assume) as part of “SPELL SERIES ATCS.” Ryosuke Cohen, is a famous mailartist from Japan. (I once—I think only once, but I could be wrong—contributed stampings to Cohen’s weird rubberstamp sheet/zine, Brain Cell.)

kiyotei, "Ryosuke C."

In “Ryosuke C.,” kiyotei twists the letters of that name around and through each other, developing a design reminiscent of ancient Celtic labyrinths—an awful lot of significance for such a small piece.

A Rare Unnumbered Arenella

Roy Arenella sent me a piece of “small mail”: a repurposed envelope from Rahman Contracting in Brooklyn with a rubberstamped printer’s fist pointing at my name, over which float a bowler, a panama hat, and a conical hat that might be a clown’s head covering in a commedia dell’arte performance. Inside, there is a trifold sheet of paper, the upper third of which is covered with a xerographically enlarged “Long Island NY 117” cancellation (dated 17 DEC 1989), which includes the outline of Long Island. Roy has added numerals and a legend identifying the locations of 1. Brooklyn, 2. Riverhead, 3. Jackson Heights, and his own 4.est Hills. (But, hey, who can’t point out Riverhead in the geographical crotch of Long Island!?)

Within the folds of the sheet, I find a tiny envelope with the following inscription:


Inside rests a small plastic enclosure that holds the flattened lead neck covering—certainly there’s a standard name for this?—from a bottle of wine. On the decorated outside surface of the leaden sheet, Roy has written


For geOf
SUNDAY 27 June ’O4

He has crossed the 7 in the European fashion. (As a boy in Portugal circa 1967, this is how my teacher taught me to make 7s, but I gave up the practice at some point after leaving Portugal. I took it up again, however, around 1976 when living in Ghana—strange, since I no longer made the European 7-like 1, and the whole purpose of the cross is to distinguish the 7s from the 1s. I gave up crossing my 7s again in 1988 when I became an archivist. The first job of the archivist is to process records: organize them, refolder them, and pencil titles and dates on the folders. I decided I needed to have a recognizable American hand for that job, and I haven’t crossed a 7 since.)

Roy Arenella, "Let's Eat"

The reverse side of the neckpiece carries across its beautiful silver face a charming little concrete poem Arenella created in Paris in 1973. The poem is about the creation of wine, which is quite appropriate since he was typing this out for me on the same day that my wife Nancy and I were taking a tour of the wineries of Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes of New York). As I write this, I’m sipping from the one dessert wine we picked up—dessert wines being the only ones sweet enough for my fruit-juice-craving palate.

Roy Arenella, "vine"

Signs of Roy Arenella

On 28 June 2004, Roy created his 268th mailart mailing of the year, a photocard entitled “SIGN CITY” (photograph taken in Queens on 7 Sep 1998). The pseudo-cancellation stamp includes a rubberstamping of an old-fashioned field camera. Roy explains that his photocard responds to a blog entry of mine on the signs around us:


He adds this note, which mimics the visual field of his photograph:


Roy Arenella, "SIGN CITY"

un violon d’ingres

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Disembodied Incarnate, ca 1989

Here's an old piece of something like mailart from circa 1989: a page spread from a fake magazine. I mailed off a copy of this to Glen Venezio to cover up another hoax. And, well, mailart is often about hoaxes.

Disembodied Incarnate, ca 1989
(For best view, click on the image
and set your brower to "Full Page")

For the full story see "The Return of Disembodied Incarnate."

un violon d'ingres

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Mirror of ArenellAllenerA

Roy Arenella sends me a photocard, dated 24 June 04, that is the 262nd article of mail he has distributed this year. The face of the card consists of a dreamy-looking mannequin staring up over my left shoulder through the reflection of a building in the window that separates me from her. The pseudo-cancellation includes a rubberstamping of an angular face that clearly resembles that of the mannequin. A baseball cap, brim pointing to the right, garnishes the U in HUTH. And Roy says,

I keep trying to explain our snailmail/blog exchange to myself.
It's like looking in a mirror & seeing myself--now, & then.
[I'm already imagining reading these words on your blog, 3 or 4 days from now...

[without an ending bracket]

Roy Arenella, Mannequin in Window (7 Apr 2004)

One day later, on 25 June 2004 (apoChristmas, that point furthest in time from Christmas, and my lucky brother's birthday), Roy sends me a 29-year-old visual moonpoem in response to the moonpoem I sent him. His note includes a line from Wallace Stevens's poem "The Comedian as the Letter C": The book of moonlight is not written yet." The pseudo-cancellation ("25 June 2004 - 265 p/c") includes a rubberstamping of the Chinese character for "moon" (one of the few Chinese characters my friend Zhibao Chen has taught me). A baseball cap, bill pointing to the left, decorates the U in HUTH.

Roy Arenella, "MOON MOOD" (1974)

un violon d'ingres

Sunday, June 27, 2004

What I Created Yesterday but Mailed Today (qbdp # 11), and What I Received Yesterday but Found Today

I was away from home last night, so I created some fidgetglyphed postcards last night and mailed them today and so I didn’t receive Saturday’s mail until today.

From Arenella

This time, Roy sends me a simple, yet interesting visual poem of the word “FOTO,” the letters of which are so arranged that they suggest lenses and framing. The pseudo-cancellation (“23 June 04 – 254 p/c”) includes a rubberstamping of a camera. A fifteen-cent “Photography” stamp completes the scene. Again, we have before us multiple features of the photocard (N.B.) that draw our focus back to one point.

Oh, and the U in my surname is capped with a Panama hat. Again, a pun for my benefit.

Roy Arenella, "FOTO" (26 Jan 2004)

To Others

I discovered that I still had a number of copies of the postcard “Photomontage 5” by jwcurry and Maurice Lucier, so (as I was falling asleep and barely able to control my shaky hand) I wrew a fidgetglyph seven times on the back of seven of these cards. These cards decorated with “SYSTemIa” became qbdp # 11. I sent the cards out to the following people:

1/7 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/7 Bob Grumman

3/7 Roy Arenella

4/7 Matthew Shindell

5/7 kiyotei

6/7 Carlos Luis

7/7 qbdp

Geof Huth, "SYSTemIa" (qbdp # 11, 26 Jun 2004)

un violon d’ingres

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Coincidence of Kiss

Today, Roy Arenella has written me something of a letter. Actually, he wrote two letters packaged as one:

First, a folded white card with Brancusi's sculpture "The Kiss" with three red exes over the actual kissing (an X being the representation of an osculatory smack in the symbolic language of ancient epistles). Roy reports that he "first used this simple idea in 1973 on a commercially produced postcard sent to Martine [his wife] in Paris" and that he likes "this newer version better than the first one...because the means & materials here are even simpler and more direct—while the idea remains just as forceful."

Roy Arenella, "The Kiss" (June 2004 Version)

Second, Roy had included this typewritten (okay, probably laser-printed) report of a coincidence:

The other day when you posted a blog entry titled "Who is Roy Arenella...." Martine (my wife) e-mailed the address of your site to several of our friends so they could read what you'd written. One of them, a lawyer with the NY State Comptroller's office, told her (in a phone conversation several days later) that on the same day he read your blog his office had need of information regarding record retention. In pursuing resources to that end he found your name (first heard of, on your blog on that very day) listed in a directory that he had consulted.

Amazing. Maybe he ran across my classic text, Retention and Disposition of Records: How Long to Keep Records and How to Destroy Them.

This Arenellian mailing is numbered 254X. I assume the X stands for "kiss."

un violon d'ingres

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Blogging Mailart: The New Exchange

Today, there arrived two postcards from Roy Arenella, both responses to blogs of mine. A new exchange paradigm is in play.

1st Postcard

The first card is from the 16th of June (Bloomsday) and decorates my surname (appropriately, punningly) with a fedora. On the reverse is the word "BLOT," with the O formed out of a beautiful blot. This is mailing 246(A)XC from Arenella's mailartworks, and the text of the message corrects his previous mailing:

Roy Arenella's "BLOT"

2nd Postcard

This second card is a photocard of "head-on self-portrait(s),"

Roy Arenella's "Head-on Self-Portraits"

is dated 21JUN04 and is numbered "251 p/cc." (I've dispensed with trying to interpret the letters in the numbering system, but this is Roy's 251st mailing of the year!) The message on the back of this card addresses the issue of mailart blogging:

Roy Arenella's "On Seeing Your Recent Blog Entries"

un violon d'ingres

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A Week of Arenella and a Set of Cards (qbdp # 10)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York

This has been a busy week of mailart, most of which is detailed below. For more on Roy Arenella, see the blog essay, "Who is Roy Arenella and What is He Doing in My Mailbox?"

Received 15 Jun 2004

First from Arenella: A brown envelope rubberstamped on its front with a rabbit (hare?) inside of which is stamped a tortoise. Inside is a note from Roy about a recent blog note from me about him and perplexity and a copy of a found poem created from an altered headline, "Ample Perplexity Amid Plenty of Choices."

Roy Arenella's "Ample Perplexity Amid Plenty of Choices"

Second from Arenella: A yellow envelope with a rubberstamping of a window that includes three additional stampings: a rocketship in the upper pane, and a B and a P in the lower one. Inside is an inscrutable response to my obituary of Bern Porter. First, a sheet reproducing two pages from James Schevill's Bern Porter: A Personal Biography, which reproduces Porter's collage "Profile of Henry Miller In Bird Cape with California Mountain." Next is a full-page reproduction of the same collage, with a new date and a new signature of Bern Porter's in red ink. This page is rubberstamped "COPY," and is "copy # 6 of 7." This was mailing "239 X" (X?) for Roy, dated 11 June 2004.

Received 16 Jun 2004

From Arenella: A photocard of "A Visualist" (dated 19 Jan 2003 and the 244th mailing of Roy's mailart year), the reverse with a pseudo-cancellation that includes a rubberstamping of the same Visualist and a note about the coincidental appearances of his and my work on the same page of Lost and Found Times.

Received 18 Jun 2004

From Arenella: A thin grey envelope opening on the side, rubberstamped with a printer's fist pointing at the note, "This is something not artwork."

Inside: a piece of reused white card, trifolded.


Bedside Table Post-It Reads:

Full Moon with Michaux [followed by a Post-It reading the same]

Means What? This Morning

"The Mere Ambition to Make a Poem is Enough to Kill It" Henri Michaux

This in My Own Experience is True / Poems, Truer Found than Made.

Roy Arenella, "Bedside Table Post-It Reads"

Evaluation: All of this provides us with a startling review of the methods of the mind: Not wishing to lose his ideas, Roy writes himself a note while in bed at night (maybe even many every night), yet in the morning not all of his notes remain meaningful even to him.

Back Text: Handwritten reference to a blog essay of mine ("My preferred method for writing is thinking.") followed by a note ("This is one of the ways I write how I write.").

Outgoing Mail

A small fidgetglyph entitled "moonn" and wrawn completely in black onto six 140-pound cards. I chose this fidgetglyph because I had already prepared these six cards many months ago, and because the glyph represents the moon, clouds, water, fish, and reflections of East Caroga Lake, which I'm sitting beside as I type. The cards went to the following people:

1/6 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/6 Bob Grumman

3/6 Roy Arenella

4/6 Matt Shindell

5/6 Guy r. Beining

6/6 qbdp

Geof Huth's "moonn" (qbdp # 10)

un violon d'ingres

Monday, June 14, 2004

Arenella & AfHtJI (qbdp # 9)

Ramada Inn, Room 133, North Syracuse, NY


I was too ambitious today and created an edition of nine postcards for this issue of qbdp, number nine, this way I can use up my beautiful oversized Popeye postcards and find some smaller postcards that take 23-cent stamps.

Each card in this edition includes “AfHtJI,” a handwritten visual poem (a “fidgetglyph”) in four colors (black, blue, green, and red). On the front (cartoon) side of the postcard, the words “afh” and “tji” appear in the word balloons of Segar’s characters.

The cards are numbered, and I will send them to the following people:

1/9: Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/9: Bob Grumman

3/9: Roy Arenella

4/9: Kiyotei

5/9 Ficus strangulensis

6/9 Nico Vassilakis

7/9 Mark Lamoureux

8/9 endwar

9/9 qbdp



Today, before leaving from home, I also received a postcard from Roy Arenella, dated 11 June and numbered 232. The front of this photocard is a simple drawing proclaiming “FRESH / FISH / DAILY,” with the “FISH” surrounded by a drawing of the fish. In Roy’s note he refers to my blog entry on Jesusfish and Darwinfish as symbols and quotes James Schuyler: ”All things are real no one a symbol.”

Roy Arenella, "Fresh Fish Daily," 27 Mar 2004

un violon d’ingres

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Money Project: Anumerism in the Mail

Received an unnumbered (!) card from Roy Arenella, mailed 7 Jun 2004 from Woodstock, New York(still nearby). Another reused card, decorated this time with anti-consumerist messages:

Coming $oon, $ummer $ol$tice $ale!

Busine$$, as usual & always

un violon d'ingres

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Two Cards from Arenella

So good old Roy Arenella is on the road vacation, and he sends out more mail while on the road than I do. (I hit the road, briefly, next week, so we can use that for comparison.)

First card

Created 5 June 2004 in Connelly, New York, about 73 miles from here. Numbered “226C” (certainly the 226th item of the year, and I suppose C stands for “card”—but who knows if there’s a distinction between a p/c [maybe a “photocard”?] and a c?). Realizing his propinquinty to Schenectady, the card is titled “3 / Unexpected / Places / in Proximity / Upstate / New York” and lists the three places in southern Saratoga County, all within a few minutes driving from here: Burnt Hills, Round Lake, Half Moon [spelled incorrectly as two words to complete the pattern of two-word names].

Second card

Created 7 June 2004 in Saugerties, New York, about 60 miles from here. Numbered 228 ACC” just to confuse me. The postcard is an advertisement for a gallery show, but Roy has rubberstamped most of the information about somebody named Smith’s show. One rubberstamp points at the overprinted text and says “READ THIS.” Interspersed in the cross-outs is a text: “NO TIME / FOR POETRY / BUT EXACTLY / WHAT IS.” JACK KEROUAC.” The front of the postcard presents the photographic reproduction of a few water towers atop barely visible city buildings. Roy has erased the emulsion off the face of the card in a few places to create some windows into which he has inserted these words:


un violon d’ingres

Monday, June 07, 2004

From Kiyotei via Matangi Isle Post

Received today a yellow bit of card, folded and taped to form an envelope. Addressed to QdbP, the envelope includes a red postmark (with the words “MATANGI ISLE BANCA BOAT POST”) and a Matangi Isle artist’s stamp (of Gizney Crab).

Inside the envelope is a postcard with this note on a pink sticky note: “The post office got confused and sent this back to me.” Oh, the perils of mailart.

The postcard is also a peelable sticker and is filled with colorful lettering. Kiyotei has drawn a dot in the red rump of California that telescopes out to Kiyötei’s address; another dot in the green armpit of New York telescopes out to my zipcode. The card says it’s coming from KarlsBäd So. Cal. and includes this cryptic text: FSLAONWDEOB MAARITLB. The card tells the addressee to “MIND YER Ps + Qs.”

A twenty-three-cent George Washington is saying “FIDJITGLIF.” I’ve got to send Kiyotei some fidgetglyphs soon.

Kiyotei's Mailart Postcard, June 2004

un violon d’ingres

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Day Before Today

I forgot to note the arrival of another card yesterday from Roy Arenella, in a different format this time: a photograph of a hat on a wall in Brittany glued to a postcard. (Could Roy know the meaning of my surname?) This card is numbered “224 P/C” (his 224th mailing of the year) and entered the mails in Saratoga Springs, 23 miles to the north of my home. A simpler card than usual, but Roy is on vacation in upstate New York.

un violon d’ingres

Friday, June 04, 2004

Traces of Errata and Schizophrenia

Weirdness accumulates just like doghair on my stairs.

Another card from Roy Arenella, sent out probably on June 2nd saying he was heading to Albany (where my work is) that very day. He also explained—so I correct myself—that “L+E” in his system of documentation means “letter & enclosure” (not “letter & envelope” as I had supposed).

This photocard’s visual poem is “Initial Traces,” originally created on 18 March 2004. On a white background that shows black sprocket holes is scratched the word TRACE, with a small s surreptitiously scratched into a thin black edge.

This postcard is Roy’s 219th mailart mailing of the year, which means he’s mailing out an average of more than one piece every day. Quite prodigious. A few words from Roy’s message: “Your blog stroboscopically fractures the normal exchange of mail by inserting another dimension (a new “fold”) of TIME, inducing a kind of schizophrenia into the accepted idea of letter distance.”

I’m sending nothing out to Roy or any other mailart folk for a little while. I’m working on a piece entitled “ON THIS SITE” in an edition of 27. The main text of the piece I have to impress into metal one letter at a time, so it will take me a while. Also, I smashed my left thumb today while dismantling a jungle gym with my son Tim. I need to use my thumb to hold the metal die while I’m stamping the metal, and I don’t think I’ll enjoy the throbbing pain of hammering over that thumb.

Mailings may be delayed.

un violon d’ingres

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Arenella's Perplexity

In today’s mail, a new photomail photocard from Roy Arenella. (He has labeled this “212 P/C,” meaning it is 212th mailing of the year and it is a postcard. “L+E”—I’ve recently discovered—means “letter and envelope.” He numbers in one sequence both L+E’s and P/C’s.)

The obverse of the card features a visual poem (dated 28 February 2001) that is a bit different from earlier ones. Still white block letters on a black field, but this one includes a small bit of a photograph of an apartment building. Entitled “An Old Story & How I See It,” the poem consists of the word WORLD with the L rising out of the sequence of letter and tilting backwards to form something of a V shape. Rested within the angle of the titled V is a triangle of the aforesaid photograph.

The reverse of the card includes a false cancellation that includes an oblong projection of the globe. Affixed to the card are a 22-cent LOVE stamp and a “G” rate stamp. Roy’s note includes a message about how strange it is to read qbdp: the mailartworks and “read the contents of a photo/card” he’d just sent and that it is “odder still to read about a card” I’ve sent him that he has yet to receive.

[So he’s figured out part of the point of this weblog!]

He’s lucky I never post a facsimile image of the cards I send until a few days transpire. And he’s also lucky that I won’t respond to this card till tomorrow.

Roy Arenella, "An Old Story & How I See It," 28 Feb 2001

un violon d’ingres