Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label John Cage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Cage. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015


One of the things about walking in my neighbourhood immediately after Christmas is that you see more walkers than usual.  I suspect part of it may be that people have relatives staying with them and don’t know what else to do with them.  Some no doubt think it’s a good for the soul to take a walk at least once a year.  Maybe the odd one has got a new puppy for Christmas and is swiftly realizing what a terrible responsibility that is.

However, my unscientific observation is that this year there were far fewer walkers than usual.  And a man who had acquired a new camera lens for Christmas pretty much had the streets to himself, which was fine but just a little surprising.

Of course Christmas decorations persist for a while after Christmas  – not sure if that Santa is breaking into that upstairs window or breaking out:

And just because a Santa is small that doesn’t mean he isn’t security conscious:

 This presiding demon stays in place whatever the season:

But the spirit of good cheer is not universal.  This sign appears on the door of the last house before you get to one of the entrances to Griffith Park, and you can understand the guy’s sentiments whatever the time of year:

And you can never quite escape the John Cage influence, nor would I want to.  Whereas he had mycological expeditions that involved walking deep into the woods, I found these beauties by the side of the road, just a few hundred yards from my own front door. 

I took a couple home, tried to identify them, couldn’t altogether, though I suspected they might be the evocatively named Funeral Bells, and even if they weren’t, and even though I’m generally all in favor of Cagean chance operations, I really didn’t want to take a chance on these.  I left them where they were.  Next day walking the same route I saw they were half eaten, though not sure by what – possibly one of the new, though unseen, puppies.

But I think the best thing seen while walking over the holidays was this electronic keyboard left out for the garbage men.  And I wonder what the story was there.  Had Santa brought a brand new one, or had the owner made a resolution, 2016 will be a year without electronic keyboards?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


And speaking of John Cage – do you want to see a piece about walking written by John Cage?  Well of course you do.  It’s from Indeterminacy (and it’s sometimes given more orthodox layout):

And do you want to to see a picture of the great man walking?  Well, why wouldn’t you?  This is a still from the 2012 documentary Journeys in Sound.

There's a trailer for it here:

I also found an extraordinary, and not entirely easy to watch, documentary titled Sound?? From 1966 or 67 (scholars seem to differ).  It’s about Cage and Roland Kirk.  There’s a lot of free-blowing from Kirk at Ronnie Scott’s club, and there’s some 
electronic noise from Cage – and the two do kind of come together. 


And we do see them both walking, apparently in London.  Kirk walks along causing some (unnecessary) consternation to the passersby.  

And we see Cage walking in a children’s playground, somewhere near Spitalfields I think, and finally in an anechoic chamber.

Monday, August 27, 2012


You know, the older I get, the more and more I love John Cage; his music, his philosophy, his Zen attitude.  Also, judging by the photographs, he smiled and laughed more than any serious artist I’ve ever seen.

If you go to youtube you can see him performing “Water Walk” on the tv game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” which does in fact have moments of vague insult and agony, but Cage holds up very well, as in fact you’d expect him to, and when the tv host asks him to explain that title “Water Walk”, he says “because it contains water and because I walk during the performance.”

Elsewhere on youtube, and in other places too, you can find him reciting a text sometimes known as “At the Middle” and sometimes as part of “Lecture on Nothing” and it is certainly included in “Silence.” In any case, below is not precisely that text: I have “appropriated” it for my own dubious pedestrian ends, replacing his word “talk” with my word “walk.”  I hope and trust Mr. Cage would not have objected.  My typographical layout is considerably more orthodox than his usually was.

Here we are now at the beginning of the fourth large part of this walk.  More and more I have the feeling that we are getting nowhere.  Slowly, as the walk goes on, we are getting nowhere and that is a pleasure.  It is not irritating to be where one is.  It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else. 

Here we are now a little bit after the beginning of the fourth large part of this walk.  More and more we have the feeling that I am getting nowhere.  Slowly, as the walk goes on, slowly, we have the feeling we are getting nowhere.  That is a pleasure which will continue.  If we are irritated it is not a pleasure. 

Originally we were nowhere; and now, again, we are having the pleasure of being slowly nowhere.