New CD! Alicia Bay Laurel: Live in Japan

ABL LIVE IN JAPAN 3000X3000 for CD Baby

July 23, 2018. Just coming off the press today is my 8th album, a collection of recordings by audio engineer Yasushi Yamaguchi from my concerts in Japan.  Three of the recordings were made on August 8th, 2015, at a peace concert in at Hiroshima Nakaregawa Church, at ground zero in Hiroshima, during the week of the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The album also includes a duet with legendary Japanese traditional singer, Ikue Asazaki, and a live rendition of my song Ukulele Hula with the Inoue Ohana Band, during kumu hula Miho Ogura’s debut performance of her original choreography created for this song.

Also, I recorded a medley that evolved onstage over three years of concerts in Japan, often with interpretive dancers, blending the four chants of the solstices and equinoxes from the book Being of the Sun, both the book and the songs a collaboration with composer/author Ramón Sender Barayón.

My cover drawing, Amaterasu Seen From Mori Tower depicts the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu appearing over Tokyo as a cloud lifting the sun from the eastern horizon across the bay. The orange and white Eiffel-Tower-like Tokyo Tower, a television tower, stands directly between Mori Tower, a residential sky scraper in the Roppongi area, and Tokyo harbor.  The art gallery that sold this drawing is in the building next to Mori Tower.

You can pick up a copy here: https://indigo-with-stars.myshopify.com/products/alicia-bay-laurel-live-in-japan

If you’re in Europe, you can get them from Libreria Nemo in Albacete, España.

Essay by UC Berkeley professor of architecture Greg Castillo, about hippies at work, making a new world.

Here is the link to the essay.

After Greg posted a link to his essay on Facebook, and I read it, I thanked him for the attention he gave to Living on the Earth (starting on page 8) in this paper.

He replied, “Although the Whole Earth Catalog gets all the scholarly attention, Living on the Earth conveys much more about counterculture feeling. One is all head-tripping, the other goes straight to heart and soul.

I said, “ Thank you, Greg. To me, the illustrations convey that blissful feeling of connection – as tribal family and as one with nature and spirit – that most of us did not experience growing up, but acquired in the first 30 seconds of psychedelic voyaging.

Greg Castillo was the curator of the 2017 exhibition Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, which included some slightly used copies of Living on the Earth that people could read while lounging in the Relaxation Cube.

Crowdfunding for the Spanish translation of Living on the Earth: “Viviendo en la Tierra”!

Viviendo en la Tierra-cover-web sized

Antonio Martinez Sarrion, of Kachina Ediciones, in Albacete, España, is translating and hand-lettering Living on the Earth in Spanish!  Here is the crowd-funding site where you can order an advance copy and help with publishing costs at the same time:

https://www.verkami.com/projects/17767-viviendo-en-la-tierra

The published books are expected to be released in October 2017.

Kachina Ediciones is also offering tote bags with the book cover on it, and also CDs of the original music I created at the same time I wrote, illustrated and designed Living on the Earth, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  I updated the book in 1999 (for the Random House 30th anniversary edition) with the assistance of environmentalists and sustainable living experts, and this revised version is what Antonio is translating.

An Inscription from James Leo Herlihy

James Leo Herlihy's inscription to my copy of Midnight Cowboy

I first met James Leo Herlihy in June, 1971, when we both guests on The David Frost Show.

He was promoting his novel, The Season of the Witch, and I was on the publicity tour arranged by Random House for the Vintage Books edition of Living on the Earth (the second edition – the first was published the previous year by The BookWorks, in Berkeley.)

A mutual friend reconnected us in 1977, and, after that, I was a frequent guest in his home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.  It was during those happy times that he gifted me with his book, The Midnight Cowboy, with this sweet inscription.  I gifted him with a drawing of his face as a huge photo on the wall of a living room, with Marlene Dietrich admiring it from the sofa.  He had a movie screen-sized photo of her face on one wall of his living room.  “That’s the size I’m accustomed to seeing her,” he told me.

Jamie had been Anais Nin‘s confidante, and told me this story:  In her forties, Anais told him that she wanted to die at fifty, so she would be “always the ingenue, never the dowager.”  When he reminded her of this as she lay dying at seventy-two, she replied, “How could I have known that my best years would come after?”

In 1980, Jamie’s long time partner, Bill Lord, was one of the first gay men to perish from AIDS.  After that, Jamie’s life centered on hospicing and eulogizing many of his beloved friends.  In 1991, when it became clear that he, too, was succumbing to the virus, he took his own life. I was devastated.  Only one year later, a three-drug therapy came into use that could have saved him.

My Eggshell Paintings

flat of painted blown eggs

My mother, Verna Lebow Norman, a sculptor and painter, taught me and my siblings to blow eggshells and paint them when we were in elementary school.

My method: I use a thick hand sewing needle to pierce one end of the shell and to chip off tiny pieces until there is a hole about 1/4 across. Using the same method, I make a bigger hole at the other end. Then I use the needle to break up the yolk. I blow through the small hole, so the raw egg goes into a bowl through the bigger hole. (If it’s very hard to blow out the egg, make bigger holes, and scramble the egg more thoroughly.) Then I let the egg shell dry for a day or two, so the remaining raw egg white seals and hardens the inside of the shell. I don’t cook with the raw eggs that are blown out of the shells, because they have shell fragments in them. Once the shells are completely dry inside and out, I like to seal up the holes by gluing circles of colored tissue paper over them.  By gluing on a loop of ribbon or cord at the narrower top of the shell, the decorated eggs can be displayed by hanging them from a horizontally suspended, slender tree branch.  This allows each eggshell to be viewed on all of its curving surfaces.

Most of these painted eggshells are from a decade of my life inwhich each spring I would prepare blown eggs for myself and some children I knew, and we would paint them together, using enamel paints and nail polish, and sometimes glue things onto them. Mine were mostly “wish eggs” – visualizations of experiences I wanted to materialize.

I will also share here a couple of eggshells that I prepared and decorated around the age of 10.

I painted this eggshell (with nail polish) shortly before I turned 40. It says: “I am a precious being at every stage of my life.”  Yes, we all are.

I am a Precious Being egg

Here are three views of an egg I painted a few years later, in celebration of vegetable gardening.  I painted asparagus, rutabaga, radishes, crookneck squash, scallions and tat soi.


Here’s an eggshell with the opening line of Paul Desmond’s jazz classic, “Take Five,” a song I learned to sing and to play on guitar.


This egg is a wish from my 25 years based on Maui, to make friends with a whale in the ocean.


This one depicts a lop-eared rabbit of my acquaintance, contemplating a carrot patch after a long night of hiding Easter eggs.

Here’s the “vegetable that will bleed for you,” as Tom Robbins described beets in his timeless novel “Jitterbug Perfume.” I call this “Heart Beets.”

Heart Beets Egg

This one reminds me of the last line of Amanda McBroom’s song, “The Rose.”
“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that, with the sun’s love, in the spring, becomes the rose.”

Far beneath the bitter snows Egg

A (purple!) guitar and a colorful stream of musical notes: a wish egg for joyful song.


Here is a wish egg for romance!  It came true, too.


Here are a couple of the eggs I decorated when I was about ten years old:
“The Girl in the Pink Turban,” and “The Lady in the Lace Mantilla.”

 

Sophia Rose’s video collage of Alicia’s books and art, with Alicia’s song 1966

Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, 1966.  You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.