Saturday, July 31, 2004

Something Fishy


Roy Arenella sends me a brief letter just before heading out on vacation, but folded inside, as part of, on the same sheet as, the letter is a wonderful visual text, a simple saying, written upon a found body of fish and fashioned into his own vision—yet another example of the breadth of Roy's verbo-visual imagination.

Roy Arenella, "Make it as Simple as" (27 July 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Friday, July 30, 2004

Drawing Asemically Full

A couple of days of cards, starting with yesterday’s:

Arenella’s “FULL” (arrived 29 July)

Roy Arenella sends me a simple card marked “317C” (the 317th mailing of the year, and it is a simple Card, rather than a PhotoCard). A twenty-cent Babe Ruth stamp has just hit a home run on the obverse of the card, and two rubberstamped hands shake. On the reverse, I find a wonderful and simple visual pwoermd, the word “FULL” rubberstamped in an outlined typeface, but with an upside-down U. Although we could read the U as a horseshoe with the luck spilling out of it, that interpretation doesn’t work with the word “FULL.” The U is filled to the brim in this view, straining at its upper end as it holds in whatever is making it full.

Roy Arenella, "FULL" (1996)

A Playground for the Eyes (arrived 30 July 2004)

From Carlsbad, whose cavern I still remember touring back in the mid-1970s, kiyotei sends me a beautiful thick card cut out of artist’s board. He attaches a 70-cent stamp to it, underneath which he writes “Postage Due My Arse!” He refers back to a quizzical message from the Postal Service on his last mailing. Last week, kiyotei sent me four wonderful coasters in the mail (though, alas, only three arrived). Upon each of the coasters kiyotei had stuck a full 37-cent stamp, yet the post office wrapped labels around each of the coasters saying that 12 cents postage was due because of the special handling needs of the coasters, but the coasters were closer to postcard size, so why wouldn’t 37 cents be enough? We don’t know.

The rest of the reverse of the card includes a flurry of rubberstampings (in green and deep red, but especially in gold), a couple of artist’s stamps, and a small bit of golden asemic text, appropriately since he signed the card “asemically yours, the Trickster.”

kiyotei, "GEOF HUTH" (July 2004)

The obverse is another diagrammatic extravaganza, with lines going everywhere, a couple of pseudo-cancellation stamps—and letter stamps advancing to the center of the card in waves, and spelling out my name!

kiyotei, reverse of postcard

Confluences (arrived 30 July 2004)

Roy Arenella sends me a postcard of a David Smith sculpture entitled “Hudson River Landscape.” Now, I don’t live in the Hudson River Valley, but it’s nearby, and the river that names my valley, the Mohawk, and the Hudson meet near here as well.

Around the picture of this sculpture, Roy has transcribed a quote from David Smith: “Drawing is the most direct, closest to the true self……………even before song.” This quotation served as the inspiration for Roy’s fidgetglyph on the reverse of the card.

Roy Arenella, "EVENB4SONg" (14 May 2003)

When I first saw this little bit of text, I was struck by how much it resembled some of my own fidgetglyphs, yet Roy created this in 2003, before he even knew of my existence. Of course, I start reading every postcard on the message side, and when I did this time I had a little trouble decoding this fidgetglyph, even though it is stylistically so similar to many of mine. It’s nice to learn how others will have to struggle with my own glyphs.

Since this card is focused on song, Roy has (of course) decorated the reverse of the card with a 22-cent “Performing Arts” stamp featuring Jerome Kern, composer of popular song.

Oh, this was card # 319CC. I assume one of the Cs is “card,” but I haven’t thought of anything for the second C to mean yet.

un violon d’ingres

Saturday, July 24, 2004

electric garden (qbdp # 16)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a handful of postcards of Schenectady's Stockade. The cover reproduces a colorful painting of this section of the city, so I thought it would make a fine transportation device for a fidgetglyph.

The Stockade is the oldest part of the city of Schenectady. Originally, it was enclosed withing a stockade fence, which (unfortunately) did not protect the early residents of the city during the famous 1690 massacre, when the French and their Indian allies attacked this small Dutch settlement. Within the Stockade, there still stand houses constructed as far back as the late 1600s. Along with the GE Plot and my variously named neighborhood, the Stockade is one of the nicest neighborhoods in our city, and I'd probably give the prize to the Stockade.

While trying to decide what fidgetglyph to use today--since it's better to use one I've already created rather than to create one from scratch on deadline--I ran across my asemic "electric garden." Immediately, I knew this was the one to use. It was as colorful as the painting that would accompany it. And "electric garden" is a good choice for a city that still bears the nickname "The City that Lights and Hauls the World." Lights--because of General Electric, which was once a huge employer in my city, but which has shipped most of the jobs to less union-friendly climes. Hauls--because of the old American Locomotive plant (Alco) no longer with us.

Still, my poor old city has a history it cannot shake: the first public broadcast of a television signal emanated from here. Last week, my family and I drove past the house that served as the studio for this broadcast. Yes, and WRGB, our local channel 6, is the oldest television station in the world.

These are the recipients of "electric garden":
1/6 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/6 Bob Grumman

3/6 Roy Arenella

4/6 Matthew Shindell

5/6 kiyotei

6/6 qbdp

Geof Huth, "electric garden"

un violon d'ingres

Friday, July 23, 2004

Wily kiyotei

Today, I received three paper coasters from kiyotei.

He mailed them separately—each with my address on a label and each with a stamp. Each has been hand-cancelled in San Diego with a stamp that includes four bold parallel lines. The coasters show some signs of wear from riding through the mails, and I pulled extra tiny bits of the paper off when I removed the 12-cent postage due stickers the postal service added to tell us these were odd-sized mailings that required additional postage. (I wonder why the postal service bothers to put on these stickers, since they haven’t asked me to pay the postage due in years!)

What I think is the first coaster in the series includes correspondence written just inside its circumference: “Drinking Sharkbite in a beach bar on a [four bold black bars] the new barmaid from Holland. — . . — kiyotei.” I assume kiyotei wrote this in the Pizza Port in Carlsbad, California, but there’s also a Pizza Port in San Clemente on El Camino Real, the same road that runs through my putative hometown, Millbrae, California.

kiyotei, Coaster as Mailart and Correspondence (July 2004)

On the back (bottom) of this coaster is a wonderful drawing approximating Japanese packaging art.

kiyotei, quasi-Japanese Ad Art (July 2004)

Another one of these coasters includes a semi-asemic design that includes a stylized version of my first name.

kiyotei, parti-asemic design (July 2004)

On the last coaster is a weirdly great haiku of the moment:

kiyotei, "Drunk Haiku" (July 2004)

un violon d’ingres

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Two Days and Three Pieces of Mail

Yesterday’s Mail

Yesterday, I allowed the mail (a single postcard) to accumulate, so now I have to review two days of mail.

First, Roy sends me a found pun, a stenciled sign that once probably said “Curb Dog” but which now identifies a sycamore’s trunk as an urb dog. This photocard (Arenellanism # 302, 14 July) includes a stylized wolf-like beast rubberstamped in deep blue within the pseudo-cancellation mark and two stamps (an “F” rate stamp and a 20-center that shows us a beagle and a Boston terrier). Dogs are the subject here. Roy also explains this about his dog: “But here in the city, Dash is definitely an “urb dog”—on a tight leash, & me too—on the other end.”

Roy Arenella, "Urb Dog" (20 Jun 1998)

I received two postcards today:


Scott McDonald has been busy creating mathemaku, which is weird because mathemaku (a weird gene-splice of long division, haiku, and visual poetry) is the signature form of Bob Grumman. Yet Scott’s style is different from Bob’s, and Scott is in the middle of a lot of experimentation right now. This mathemaku, which is printed as a very faint grayscale image, incorporates the pwoermdlike title of a recent visual poem of mine (“tripl3ts”). Scott has covered the image entirely in plastic on one side (and I’ve no idea how he did this) and the obverse of the card is grey duct tape—yet it all came through at this end just fine.

Scott McDonald, "atypical volume" mathemaku

Allusions to Grandeur

Roy Arenella’s card of the day opens with an image of “The Bridge from which RAY JOHNSON…” [heaved himself to his death]. The bridge is a low-slung affair and seems to rise just barely high enough to miss the water. Roy has photographed it so that the bridge is merely a thin line dividing the undulating water from the stiff grey sky.

On the reverse, Roy offers a review of “lakeeast,” noting that he found this a superior piece of mailart (compared to my other fidgetglyphed cards) because of the way the fidgetglyph integrated with the postcard. (The reason for this quasi-maximaphilist convergence was simple enough: I had none of my normal equipment with me, so I had to buy postcards and create a fidgetglyph all from scratch. The postcard, weak as its image is, inspired the fidgetglyph.) He says,

In and around the waters of this lake [as illustrated on the postcard] I find not only very much ease (many “e”s) but also trees & geese, the lake itself & the joys of seeing. As well as an allusion to the larger waters (seas ease) of [Ian Hamilton] Finlay’s “Fisherman’s Cross.” Your fo(u)r “e”s are the keystone in the cross bar of a stable “H.”

And God forgive the immodesty of this presumption: But is that me there, at far left, wearing only my lower case initials? (Waving I hope & not drowning!)

Roy Arenella, "Sag Harbor" (19 Apr 1997)

I’m amazed at the number of allusions in this photocard. I have to know about the great bunnyheaded mailartist Ray Johnson (one of the most famous) and the details of his well known suicide. (Although outside of the world of mailart, Ray’s is not quite a household name. Try not to confuse Ray with Roy, even though the two once met.) I need to be familiar with one of the greatest concretists of all time, the cranky Ian Hamilton Finlay, and one of his works in particular (the thought of which could not have been far from my mind while I created my “lakeeast”). I have to be familiar with Stevie Smith’s most famous poem, “Not Waving but Drowning.” And I had to’ve thought of making a reference to Roy Arenella in my little visual poem.

I failed only in the last part, alas.

un violon d’ingres

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Signs of Type

Roy Arenella continues to work with the idea of signs, sending me Arenellanism # 301. (Who got # 300?)
An interesting photocard, this one is merely a photograph of a Lettera 22 typewriter with a sheet of paper sticking out the top of it and showing the text, “WORDS / NEVER SEEM / ENOUGH.” Since this is a photograph, we have the tension (or collusion) between text and image: we learn that if words are not enough, we have pictures. And the image itself is quietly ironic. The text is composed not of typed letters from the machine, but of letters rubberstamped one after one onto the page. The typewriter is a lie.

Roy Arenella, "Words Never Seem Enough" (1989)

un violon d’ingres 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Muck-Raking Maximaphily

An interesting bit of literary-artistic-philatelic trivia from Roy Arenella, who sends me a thick postcard showing a James Thurber self-portrait and an image of a postage stamp using a straightened-up version of that self-portrait.

Arenellanism # 299 X (the X meaning “Xerox”) includes a postage stamp with a photograph of writer William Saroyan (father of writer Aram Saroyan, who himself is father of writer Strawberry Saroyan) and this note (abridged):

Who noticed when the writer-drawer James Thurber was honored with a stamp? That time the gov’t altered the original Thurber line-drawing self-portrait by propping-up the downsloped Thurber & adding a stiff spine-line to keep him properly posed. On stamps we want our writers to be upstanding!

Roy Arenella, "Thurber as He Drew Himself" (10 Sep 1994)

un violon d’ingres

Monday, July 12, 2004

Mail Sent to Me on July Ninth

By some amazing coincidence of timing, I received four pieces of mailart today, all of which carry postmarks from 9 Jul 2004. These pieces traveled from California, Georgia, and New York, yet arrived on the same day. That is the magic of an intervening weekend.

kiyotei’s Asemia

kiyotei has sent me another postcard that riffs off one of my asemic fidgetglyphs and expands the form using his own verbo-visual dialect. His main asemic text is in green, written from the top to the bottom, and each character in each column of text interlaces with its neighbors, forming strange doublings along the way. Within this main text, kiyotei has drawn red lines, like a schematic diagram, that join the green dots that form nodes within the text. Around this entire scene, he has drawn in red an intricate micrographic text.

kiyotei, untitled asemic writing

Scott McDonald’s Box

This is the big mailing. Scott has mailed me a large plastic box (which he sealed shut with grey duct tape—now discarded—around its edge), the type of box used to hold old 5.25-inch computer floppy disks. After I open the box, I see on the bottom of the box seven small scraps of white paper upon each of which he has written a single haiku.

On the opposing side, within the small swinging pouch used to hold the floppies, Scott has placed a small picture frame that includes stylized images of two dancing flautists (one black, one white), upon which he has typed in red two fairly atypical haiku. He also includes a “thank you card,” his business card, which tells me he’s a systems administrator. At the back of the inside of this pouch, he has taped a small mathemaku of his. This sheet of paper is the original he used to create the original mathemaku.

Scott McDonald, "battle clad voodoo"

When I flip up the floppies-pouch, I find the original paper towel upon which he wrote his mathemaku based on my pwoermd “signt.” He wrote and posted this mathemaku within fifteen minutes of asking my permission to reuse my pwoermd, and I couldn’t figure out the surface he’d written the poem upon. My guesses were a piece of a tin ceiling or a piece of stippled embroidery. I had no idea at that time that Scott often reverses the polarity of his digital images, making the positive image negative.

Arenellanism # 294

On 11 Dec 2000, Roy finds a window carrying the message “rhyme / & reason / is just around the corner” and captures a subtle and beautiful picture of the world reflected in the window, including the image of Roy capturing this image.

Roy Arenella, "rhyme & reason"

The text of this card is another brief asemic text (created 4 Sep 2002) from Roy’s sequence “Continuing Signs.” The main postage stamp used this time is one of the poet T.S. Eliot (all rhyme, all reason) placed upside-down.

Roy Arenella, from "Continuing Signs"

Arenellanism # 295 X

This card includes an X to indicate that the obverse of the card is derived from a Xerox. The text on the front is written on an envelope postmarked 13 April 1926 in Berlin and is covered with an apparently asemic micrographic text by Robert Walser entitled “Microscript # 131.” The reverse of the card includes a brief note on two of my visual poems, ends with a mention of the “enrichment of species,” and is decorated with a postage stamp recognizing American botanists.

Robert Walser, "Microscript # 131"

In this last card, Roy has reduced my surname to seven vertical lines and a single dot between each of the two lines at either end of the sequence.

un violon d’ingres

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Mailart Replacement Service

One of the strange eventualities of announcing online what mailart I’ve created and whom I’ve sent it to is that a correspondent might notice when a piece of mail I’ve sent hasn’t arrived. This has just happened with Mark Lamoureux, who didn’t receive his copy of “AfHtJI” (qbdp # 9), so tonight I’ve made him a replacement copy.

But I used a different kind of postcard, one with a surface that is fairly non-porous. Now I worry that the fidgetglyph riding on the belly of that postcard will become rubbed off during transport. I may have to slip the card into an envelope to protect it during its trek.

un violon d’ingres

Saturday, July 10, 2004

A Rare Unnumbered Arenellanism and lakeeast (qbdp # 15)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York


A postcard from Roy Arenella, one I possibly should not even record here. It comments on a mailart postcard, but isn't mailart itself. It is correspondence: Roy has not numbered the card, the card is merely a bought postcard, and Roy doesn't add the traditional pseudo-cancellation and Roy Arenella postcard address/message separator. The card merely notes another coincidence: That the postcard I sent him with "tripl3ts" on it pictures the Pontalba Building, which he and his wife and a friend named Ken visited in New Orleans because it had once been the home of Clarence John Laughlin, a favorite photographer of Roy's.

Prepared for Mailing

Eight postcards of the Caroga Lake Campsite, just across this lake (East Caroga Lake) from us. I circled the location of our camp on the front of the card--though it is hard to make out. The reverse I was less happy with. I left all my pens at home (probably because of the commotion caused by our celebration of Mango Day today), so I had to resort to ballpoint pens, which tend to leave puddles of ink in inappropriate places. I created a small fidgetglyph at the camp tonight and wrew it onto the backs of the cards.

Geof Huth, "lakeeast" (10 Jul 2004)

These are the recipients of "lakeeast":

1/8 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/8 Bob Grumman

3/8 Roy Arenella

4/8 endwar

5/8 kiyotei

6/8 Mark Lamoureux

7/8 Scott McDonald

8/8 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Friday, July 09, 2004

Signs of Regard (Arenellanism # 286)

I received a card from Roy Arenella about signs, and I expected that it was referring back to some blog entry of mine about signs. As far as I can remember, my last word about signs was way back on June 30th on my dbqp blog, so that doesn’t seem a likely source of inspiration. Of course, it did occur to me that Roy could have decided to create a card about signs for his own independent reason.

The photocard before me is mailing number 286 for this year, dated 7 July 2004. The pseudo-cancellation is filled with what appears to be a cork stamping—one perfectly positioned to obliterate the real cancellation printed over it. The stamp on the card is a 32-cent “Cub” stamp (Piper Cub, I assumed). I’ve no idea why this stamp was chosen, but I’m sure it has intentional significance. Maybe the fact that 32 is the opposite number of 23, the value of the stamp Roy should have used for a postcard. Everything is backwards, signs don’t make sense—maybe that is the message.

The photo on the obverse is a perfect example of naïve conceptual writing. Do sign writers not read their signs?

Roy Arenella, "Sign Testing" (15 Sep 2000)

On the reverse, Roy has carefully taped onto the card a small piece of asemic writing. This is a revelation. This piece is much different than any of the other work I’ve seen from him. Using primarily an invented alphabet, Roy writes an ingenious visual text. Some of the characters in the text resemble those in the Latin alphabet (an M, an o, and an E—just to take characters from the first word). Others resemble nothing in any writing system I can think of, though one obviously resembles a delta. There is a sense of spacing in this text that I find lacking in much asemic writing. Roy has added spaces that allow character strings to have a fairly natural variation of word size. And the last world (and last line) consists of one large string of concatenated letters, as if the last thought of the writer has to be squeezed into a too-small space.

Roy Arenella, from "Continuing Signs" (26 Jun 2004)

un violon d’ingres

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A Small Flood of Mailart

I’m engulfed in mail now, and getting through the fun of it only begins the process.

Ficus strangulensis, mailed 1 Jul 2004

My old pal Fike has sent me a classic envelope of mailart detritus. In such mailings, the artist sends a possibly random agglomeration of art pieces and mail scraps. Fike has illustrated this envelope with a little op visual poem (“The Ling Terrazzo”). Inside, he’s sent four little artists trading cards in the muted colors of inkjet printing. He’s also included a partial printout of the database he uses to track his incoming and outgoing mailart. Fike describes my mailart postcard as a “coded letter composition” and explains to me that it mystified him. (Ah, mailart!)

Ficus strangulensis, "The Ling Terrazzo" (17 June 2004)

Considering that Fike, Roy Arenella and I all document our mailart activities in various ways, this may be a more common habit than I’d imagined. (Pay attention, Craig J. Saper, author of Networked Art.) Ficus also included an “add and pass” sheet for me to pass along until it meets Jim Leftwich or John M. Bennett. (So here's another collaboration for me to work on.)

Joseph Keppler, mailed 2 Jul 2004

After a separation of about 14 years, I’m back in contact with Joseph Keppler, the editor of the famed Seattle magazine, Poets. Painters. Composers., long (alas) defunct. He sent me a package filled with little pieces of visual and conceptual (okay, and a book of textual) poetry. A few of the pieces (including his charming “Art Book”) are obviously mailartlike, though I doubt Joe sees them that way.

Joseph Keppler, "Art Book," Outside View (1984)

Joseph Keppler, "Art Book," Inside View (1984)

kiyotei, mailed 2 Jul 2004

kiyotei’s work continues to surprise me. He now responds directly to my mailings. This mailing includes a beautiful asemic fidgetglyph, along with a reproduction of my fidgetglyph to him, and he also englyphs my name on the card. kiyotei is often interested in place, and he once again points out my location and his on a map, adding a humorous “Wish you were somewhere!” to the card, along with the locations of Pluto and Mars.

kiyotei, "Wish you were somewhere!" (2 Jul 2004)

Arenellanism # 279, mailed 3 Jul 2004

Roy responds to a blog entry where I discuss the allographs of the numeral 7, creating “13 7s = More Than 91” on the spot and sending it out to me as a photocard. The card’s pseudo-cancellation includes a die with 7 pips showing (Roy having added another to the six on the die). Also, one of the stamps used is a 13-cent Indian Head penny stamp. Roy asks me, "is the crossed seven an ‘insider’s’ problem for archivists to worry about professionally?” The answer: Of course, it’s not; I just focus on the small points!

Roy Arenella, "13 7's = More Than 91" (2 Jul 2004)

un violon d’ingres

Sunday, July 04, 2004

V+S+BL+GHT (qbdp # 14)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York

Tonight, I took five weirdly beautify postcards from the Republic of China and created qbdp # 14. I decided to use a very short and fairly simple fidgetglyph from last year and enhance it with a bit of color for the missing vowels. Maybe I thought this was somehow an appropriate card for tonight, given that today is Independence Day in the United States and I had spent a good part of the early evening watching spectacular and fizzling fireworks launched from all around East Caroga Lake.

Geof Huth, "V+S+BL+GHT" (2004)

These are the recipients of "V+S+BL+GHT":

1/5 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/5 Bob Grumman

3/5 Roy Arenella

4/5 endwar

5/5 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Arenellanation & Presences (qbdp # 13)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York

Since I've been on East Caroga Lake for more than a day, I should not have received any mail today. But my daughter Erin had to go to into Schenectady today, so she could sell bread at the bakery where she works, and she also retrieved our mail. There was so much mail that it didn't fit in our mailbox, and two of the items were, for my purposes today, mailart.

Arenellanism # 277

Roy Arenella writes me a letter, dated 30 June 2004 and addressing me as "Ge0f" as he is wont to do--the zero signifying, hmm, something positive, maybe signifying the way symbols can be used visually to represent what they really are not.

The letter discusses how my "sustained close attention and response" to his mailings via my blog are offsetting his usual rhythms. His purpose is not to complain and he does not, but he wonders about all of this. As do I. Roy surprises me with each of his mailings, each suggests meaning can reside almost everywhere, and each corner of meaning resonates against the last and the upcoming. And I love giving attention to small pieces of writing and art. That is, essentially, the focus of much of my life. But I stay up later at night now, thinking and writing and editing, and I'm wondering how to achieve my own results more quickly so I can get to bed earlier. Something to ponder.

This mailing--# 277--is a favorite, because it gains me extra insight into the mind over at the Arenellaworks. Roy provides me with a little explanation of philately. I didn't think I needed any. I mean, I know what a tête-bêche is, and often use philatelically inspired ideas in my work. But Roy introduces me to maximaphily, something I'd never heard of before. In maximaphily, philatelists match a commemorative stamp with a postcard that echoes that stamp and then with a postmark that reechoes it all. This, of course, is a good enough description of what Roy does with his mailart.

Enclosed in the envelope are three examples of works resembling maximaphily:

1. Two views of Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty from the open water--sitting above a 22-cent (statue of) Liberty stamp, and cancellations from Liberty Island itself and from Paris.

2. A newspaper clipping from the New York Journal American, 1 Aug 1954, showing Roy Arenella himself, aged 15, feeding a sparrow hawk from his own mouth--above a first-day-of-issue postmark from Aurora, Colorado, and 1-cent sparrow hawk stamp.

3. And the best, which Roy sends me as a real photograph: a photo of a crowd (at the first-day-of-issue celebrations for a 34-cent Rockwell Kent stamp). The crowd is in the background, out of focus and rising up from the open pages of Moby Dick, the recto page of which includes Kent's famous illustration of a whale's giant tail flipping a rowboat of sailors and their boat up out of the water and upside-down. On that same page of the book, partially obscuring the illustration, rests a copy of the aforesaid 34-cent stamp. Best yet, atop the photograph, partially obscuring the image in the photograph, is laid down an actual exemplar of this real-life stamp, which is cancelled with a first day of issue 1 Feb 2001, New York, NY, 10199. This is copy 1 of 3, and it's a treasure.

Roy Arenella, Rockwell Kent First Day of Issue (2001)

Arenellanism # 278

This is a simple card, dated 1 July 2004, where he explains that his concrete poem typed into lead was meant to be unscannable, a joke to keep my blog from documenting the poem. On the front of the card is a photograph of "One-Way Door, Chelsea, 4/7/'04." Atop the door runs a set of decorative arches, which the stamp of the Peace Bridge on the other side of the card somehow mimics. Oh, and the pseudo-cancellation stamp includes a rubberstamping of a man eating a hat--another Huth pun! Boundless.

Roy Arenella, "One-Way Door" (7 Apr 2004)


I wrew a little visual poem (a fidgetglyph) out of 11 squares and ten letters. Each fidgetglyph appears on a different postcards of Richard Margolis' "Driving by the George Eastman House" series of photographs. (Last October, I chaired a panel that discussed archives and art and how they worked together. Richard was a panelist that day. I found his architectural photographs interesting, but his images of the George Eastman House through his windshield were the most captivating of all.)

Geof Huth, "PRESENCES" (2004)

These are the recipients of "PRESENCES":

1/5 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/5 Bob Grumman

3/5 Roy Arenella

4/5 Tim Canny

5/5 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Friday, July 02, 2004

The j0llyr0ger before the Arenella before the Tripl3ts (qbdp # 12)

Still Point, Garlock Road, Caroga Lake, New York

Today was one of those surprising days when all mailart received isn't from Roy Arenella.

Item 1 (from j0llyr0ger)

I've seen evidence of j0llyr0ger--note that the O's in his name are zeroes--for at least a couple of months now, and he has recently launched a blog where he displays some visual poetry of his. (I'd give the link but I'm away from home, I don't have my bookmarks handy, and I'm dealing with a particularly slow dialup connection.)

First, I'm amazed that this card made it to me. I would have expected my address to fall away during its trek from Alton, Illinois. j0llyr0ger has artfully torn a rectangle of graph paper out of a larger rectangle of graph paper and attached it to the back of a piece of card. He appears to have used a gluestick, and a little more than half the sheet of paper is flapping free of the card. Atop this loosened sheet, j0llyr0ger has glued his address (j0llyr0ger, POB 493, Alton, IL 62002-0493) and a black hand-fingers open in a Vulcan greeting--with an eye staring from its palm. Maybe it is some kind of Masonic or Rosicrucian symbol, though I am not sure. j0llyr0ger mailed this card on 29 Jun 2004.

The obverse of the card is a "text-based concept schematic", which begins with an "amble" and where three lines radiate out from "radial," most actions run through the wonderful word "symbiont," and it all ends in "function."

j0llyr0ger, "AMBLE CORE"

Item 2 (from Roy Arenella)

Dated 30 June 2004, this card from Roy is his 275th mailing for the year, so he took the time to send out two other mailings between mailings to me. The card includes a 15-cent "Photography" stamp and a 15-cent seeing-eye-dog stamp, because this photocard is about seeing and photography. The pseudo-cancellation includes a rubberstamping of two of the great pyramids, two frequently photographed objects.

The obverse of the card includes a small visual pwoermd, that we could interpret as "LeVeL" or "LeYeL"--because both readings are intended. The middle letter is ambiguous, hermaphroditic. The entire poem suggests a rewriting of Ronald Johnson's pwoermd "eyeleveleye." Roy ends the front of the card with a quote about seeing by Gerhard Richter. Roy doesn't make clear if he considers the pwoermd no more than an element of this larger construction, and he does not do what he usually does: provide a date of creation for the piece.

Roy Arenella, "LeVeL" or "LeYeL" (nd)

Since Roy doesn't leave comments on my weblogs, he explains himself and responds to a blog entry of mine on this card.

Geof, (re: dbqp entry 6/27/04) I think color is as much a "problem" for photographers [NB: Roy sees himself as primarily a photographer] as for visual poets. When a well-known photographer switched from black & white to color, she was asked why. "Because the world is in color." True enough. But later I remdinded myself that the brain--our terminus instrument used to scrutinize, absorb & order that multicolored world--is not many-hued. Its working parts are themselves relatively neutral in color, "grey matter", between "light" & "dark"; or maybe like the color of old bones (the color of "structure" itself?). I mentioned all this to Martine; she interrupted, adding "....And as far as I can tell I dream in black & white, don[']t you?"

Creation of qbdp #12

Tonight I wrew a tri-color fidgetglyph (entitled "tripl3ts")on the face of each of ten old acidic postcards displaying etchings of famous addresses from old New Orleans. I edited the note saying "PLACE ONE CENT STAMP HERE" to say "PLACE ONE 23-CENT STAMP HERE." On the obverse of the card, I used two colors of pencil to add highlights to two discrete sections of each different etching. I also added the title of the fidgetglyph with yellow pen here, leaving a mark that remains invisible in almost all contexts.

Geof Huth, "tripl3ts" (2004)

These are the recipients of "tripl3ts":

1/10 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/10 Bob Grumman

3/10 Roy Arenella

4/10 j0llyr0ger

5/10 kiyotei

6/10 Scott McDonald

7/10 Philip Vaughan-Williams

8/10 Matthew Shindell

9/10 endwar

10/10 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Roy Arenella Homepage

This is not really the Roy Arenella Homepage. It just includes the greatest concentration of Roy’s work on the web. (Well, so far as I can tell.) But any man who sends me two cards in a single day deserves some recognition.

Since both of the cards have the same date, I had to use the cards’ sequential numbers to figure out which is first. As I was doing that, I realized that on 29 June 2004, when Roy was creating these two cards, I was supposed to be giving a workshop on Hauppauge, Long Island. I cancelled the trip the day before, but I wonder how close I would have driven to Forest Hills.

Card # 270

is a “p/c” or “photo/card” (to use Roy’s spelling—I eschew the slash). On the front is a typical Arenellan photograph in clear and vibrant greys, taken in Brooklyn, New York, on 14 Sep 1995.

Roy Arenella, "Nobody is Allowed" (14 Sep 1995)

On the back, Roy discusses how and why to edit the sign he has photographed and placed on the front of the card. The reverse side of the card also sports a giant top hat, its brim curving over my surname, and a stamp of Edward G. Robinson wearing a classic fedora. (I often wonder how many different rubber- and postal stamps Roy had. He must have two cornucopia at home filled with different stamps. How else could he find so many images of hats?) I’ve no idea what the “LES” in the pseudo-cancellation signifies. The French plural form of “the”? And does Roy know I was an English major? tho maybe not a “priggy” one.

Card # 272

is a “cxco,” which I’ve now figured out—with help from Roy—is “color xerox collage card” (so “X” doesn’t mean “kiss”!). (I’ll note that Roy sent mailing number 271—which came between these two cards he sent to me—to someone else. I wonder who.) This card’s pseudo-cancellation includes a rubberstamp image of a man with a letter running anxiously to an unseen mailbox. It also includes a stamp showing a child’s rendition of Santa Claus, complete with a red Santa huth on his head.

Roy Arenella, "4th Attempt" (29 June 2004)

Roy makes his “4th ATTEMPT” to describe our postal/weblog communications:

Fighting off “was” & “will be”
he repeated to himself over & ov [here, the card runs out]
is . . . is . . . . is . . . .
The front of the card consists of a visual poem/collage that exudes wabi: An olive green background through which has been torn a window, through which window shows a notebook with writing on it—writing that miraculously moves from one level of the collage to another:—the insIStence of is. Slightly damaged in the mails, my copy’s real tear mimics the image of a tear in the collage, adding another (a third) dimension to the piece.

Roy Arenella, "IS" (18 June 2004)

un violon d’ingres