5CT for December 2017

The 5CT editorial team was loosed upon the world (Langley, WA) this past summer, and we found ourselves stopped cold by the penetrating gaze of an otherworldly sheep peering out of a gallery window. An old hymn gets pushed into some exciting new territory. In this crazed, demented, political moment, remember the king, who hailed from Yorba Linda, California. I give you one of the best, most original podcasts you’ll ever hear. And, a bit of prose and poetry from Franz Wright.

“It struck him that how you spent Christmas was a message to the world about where you were in life, some indication of how deep a hole you had managed to burrow for yourself.” – Nick Hornby, About a Boy



Claudia Pettis

Portrait in Soft Grey, Claudia Pettis (4 x 6′)

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery,” said Francis Bacon. These portraits of Black Welsh Mountain Sheep left the 5CT team fumbling for words. There’s an ephemeral, weightless, mystery here. Behold this lovely, lovely being. And those eyes. It’s as if is she has been with us always and everywhere, grazing in the English countryside, while at the same time roaming the stormy hillsides of our imagination. I emailed Whidbey Island artist Claudia Pettis to express my admiration for her work and particularly for ‘Soft Grey’ and she wrote this — “She is older than all the Buddhas, past and future. She is time itself.”


After Midnight, Claudia Pettis

Mid-day Blues Claudia Pettis


“The materials I use are important to me—they have textures and smells and origins and histories. I use Belgium linen and elegant materials—fine ground pigments, Italian earths, ambers, chemically complex glazes. I take great joy in the process of mixing and discovering, of putting on paint and taking it away. I seldom frame and think it is unimportant. Yes, when in a private room and home a painting can be enhanced, but I like the viewer to see a work the way I see it, and in doing so they can take part in the process by discovering the way I got there. There are drips and clues in the exposed piece—the canvas texture, the edges, the wood stretchers. I put together each piece thoughtfully.”


Fragile Connections, Claudia Pettis

Claudia’s subject matter is close at hand because she breeds these sheep. From her Mutiny Bay Farm website: “This breed of sheep was chosen for their hardy self-reliance, superb foraging abilities, beauty of wool and temperament. Bred in the Middle Ages for the deep black wool by Benedictine monks, these sheep were also considered the finest and most succulent of all mutton.” See more of Claudia’s work here >>


Jon Batiste, his truth marches on

Just love this interview with Jon Batiste, (Stephen Colbert’s band leader) talking about how he reinterpreted The Battle Hymn of the Republic for The Atlantic Magazine.


Here’s the full piece, have a listen.

Richard Nixon: The Life
by John A. Farrell

If not now, when? Many people are saying this is blazing good read. None other than Frank Rich, who mentioned it in his fantastic New York Magazine piece, Nixon, Trump, and How a Presidency Ends, said, “G. Gordon Liddy was alt-right before it was cool: “a right-wing zealot, with a fixation for Nazi regalia and a kinky kind of Nietzschean philosophy,” who “organized a White House screening of the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.”


Excerpt from Richard Nixon:
The government that Nixon inherited was luxuriant in sin. For more than a decade, under Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, it had spied on its citizens, suppressed dissent and sought to overthrow foreign governments. The demonstrators taunting Nixon on Inauguration Day wore helmets, for the anti-war movement was well versed in police tactics. For years, the peace groups had been infiltrated, framed, bugged and beaten by agents of their government. The Nixon administration harried John Lennon, the Black Panther Party and Muhammad Ali, shielded Lt. William Calley and the guardsmen at Kent State, and rounded up a cross section of “usual suspects” — the Chicago Eight — to be prosecuted for the violence at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

“The fact of the matter is that there is a little bit of the totalitarian buried somewhere way down deep, in each and every one of us,” Kennan had warned. The military-industrial combine prospered, the state flourished and the tentacles of surveillance spread throughout society. “I have destroyed him with the weapons I abhorred, and they are his,” the spy George Smiley says of a Soviet counterpart, in the climax of the novelist John le Carré’s Cold War trilogy.

In the Oval Office on Saturday, fretting as he waited for the rain to lift and give Tricia the outdoor wedding she hoped for, Nixon raged, sequentially, about his enemies. It was a hardy list, that included the “long-haired, dirty looking” protesters; the eastern Establishment; feminists; teachers unions; Jews (“Goddamn, they are a vicious bunch”); African-Americans (“We don’t do well with blacks. . . . We don’t want to do so damn well with blacks”); the “softies” of the Ivy League; the “ass kissers and butter uppers” in the bureaucracy; and the “lousy dirty . . . cowardly bastards” in the press.

And TV host Dick Cavett, a boyish, sly Nebraskan whose talk show catered to sophisticates.

“We’ve got a running war going with Cavett,” Haldeman said.

“Is he just a left winger? Is that the problem?” Nixon asked.

“Yeah,” said the chief of staff.

“Is he Jewish?” asked the president.

“I don’t know,” said Haldeman. “He doesn’t look it.”


Crimetown ~ a Buddy Cianci, post-mortem podcast

Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci talks during his radio show in East Providence, R.I.,on June 25, 2014. Steven Senne / Pool via AP

Gimlet Media hit the big time a couple of years back with their ‘Startup’ podcast which took you inside the (quite fantastic and personal) story of building, naming, funding, staffing, managing…a podcasting company. Episode #1 was, How Not to Pitch a Billionaire. What an opening act. Now, Gimlet has given us something even juicier:  Crimetown. Featuring Buddy Cianci. And Raymond Patriarca. If you grew up in Southern New England at a certain period of time in these United States, you knew. You heard about Federal Hill in Providence, you heard the name Buddy Cianci, and you knew the name of the crime boss, Raymond Patriarca. They loomed large and ominous. From the Crimetown website:

Welcome to Crimetown, a new series from Gimlet Media and the creators of HBO’s The Jinx. Every season, we’ll investigate the culture of crime in a different American city. First up: Providence, Rhode Island, where organized crime and corruption infected every aspect of public life. This is a story of alliances and betrayals, of heists and stings, of crooked cops and honest mobsters—a story where it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. New episodes out most Sundays at 2 pm.

For those of you who know Buddy, just hearing his voice, hearing him tell stories, is worth every minute. Start here>>> Crimetown

The once upon a time crime boss Raymond Patriarca, from Crimetown.

Franz Wright

From the Poetry Foundation website:

Franz Wright was born in Vienna, Austria and grew up in the Northwest, the Midwest, and California. He earned a BA from Oberlin College in 1977. His collections of poetry include The Beforelife (2001); God’s Silence (2006); Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004; Wheeling Motel (2009); Kindertotenwald (2011); and (2013). In his precisely crafted, lyrical poems, Wright addresses the subjects of isolation, illness, spirituality, and gratitude. Of his work, he has commented, “I think ideally, I would like, in a poem, to operate by way of suggestion.” Franz is the son of the poet, James Wright, also a Pulitzer winner.

Home for Christmas
By Franz Wright

Fifteen years later the old tollbooth keeper is still at his post but cannot break a twenty, regrettably, his brains blown out, or provide the forgotten directions. I did phone, what do you think? Before I can blink I am parked out front of the unbelievably small, unlighted house.I’ve got my finger on the buried bell, nothing. For hours I’ve been walking around, and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but no one is home in Zanesville, Ohio. My dusty toothbrush waits for me, of this I feel quite sure, my teenage image in the dust-dimmed mirror waits. Only now I’m afraid I’ll be forced to disturb the slow fine snow of dust that’s been coming down, year after year, on my blanket and hair, and put on my dust-covered clothes, and walk without making a sound, trailing my eternal lunar footprints, down the windless hall, and down the stairs at last. It’s not going to happen overnight. But one of these days I’ll arrive; I will go down to sit with the father. The elderly father, strictly speaking, of never really having been there. I will sit down and eat my bowl of dust like all the rest.


 Morning Arrives

Morning arrives
by limousine: the tall
emaciated chairman
of sleeplessness in person
steps out on the sidewalk
and donning black glasses, ascends
the stairs to your building
guided by a German shepherd.
After a couple faint knocks
at the door, he slowly opens
the book of blank pages
pointing out
with a pale manicured finger
particular clauses,

proof of your guilt.


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