by Lisa King | Sunday, January 31, 2017
Comfort Zone? I lived 2017 and to some extent 2016 so far out of my comfort zone, that I’m now unsure where it even lies. That’s probably a good thing. I pulled a tarot card at the beginning of the year, The Chariot. Self-mastery. Taking the reins. Guiding that carriage. All year, I kept on the straight and steady. I definitely felt like I was embodying that card, and even painted The Chariot at the beginning of the year, for my own deck. Like a good Charioteer, I found the energy to keep moving my many artistic and musical endeavors forward, or expand them outwards, and stay on course. (photo above, “Our Lady of the Electric Trees” by Lisa King)
Andy Warhol says in his book, “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol”: “You should always have a product that’s not just “you.” An actress should count up her plays and movies and a model should count up her photographs and a writer should count up his words and an artist should count up his pictures so you always know exactly what you’re worth, and you don’t get stuck thinking your product is you and your fame, and your aura.” (Take that, Kardashians.)
So, in 2017 I followed Andy’s advice and counted. I do this not to boast or brag, but to help myself see my year, my goals, my life, and who I am a little more clearly. These year-end wrap ups are invaluable to me, as an independent artist and musician, to see what I spend my time doing. So, if seeing people struggle to hit goals and targets is intimidating to you, perhaps you should stop reading at this time. If you suffer from chronic schadenfreude, I wouldn’t go on. This is about me, very intimately, so if you tend to be competitive, jealous, lazy, or not woke…or triggered by other people’s successes, you are welcome to just pass this on by. It’s like reading my diary, so, move along if you don’t want to see intimacy or vulnerability.
It’s easy to think to yourself, that a certain year “sucked.” Especially after the stress of the holidays. So, I like to look at my life in a realistic way every year by organizing my favorite photographs, and cataloging what I accomplished in a year. I also like to journal about my struggles. This is something I don’t really promote on social media, but believe me, there are plenty of difficult things I face every day, including physical fatigue, asthma, arthritis, mild depression with anxiety, and introversion in a profession that demands that I be very extroverted at times. Its easy to experience creative burnout, or wrestle with control issues layered upon me by the way my parents raised me. Sometimes I find myself over-booking myself, or having a hard time trading my private life to be a public figure to a certain extent, but still keeping healthy boundaries…all of this. But, I transmute that into work. That’s what artists and musicians do. (photo above, “I Am Standing Up at the Water’s Edge in My Dream” by Lisa King.)
I also jotted down some extraordinary events or things that have happened in 2017, because it sure was an eventful year. Looking back, I swear that some of the events seem like years ago. I sure can cram a lot into 365 days, I tell you that! Those that know me well also know that I am an optimist, and despite the current powers that be that I did not elect in, and that I am daily mortified by, in 2017 I adopted the attitude of Albert Camus, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion…In art, rebellion is consummated and perpetuated in the act of real creation, not in criticism or commentary. Revolution, in its turn, can only affirm itself in a civilization and not in terror or tyranny.”
I’m a big fan of “doing” not just dreaming or talking about it. I do.
So, here is the 2017 highlights reel:
In 2017, I saw snow twice, on Jan 7 and Dec 12. Nice to have felt Winter because Summer seemed to last from March to November this year in the South. Climate change was extremely apparent this year, and it was disturbing. But, I did feel like I experienced all 4 seasons, though Spring and Autumn seem to last only a week now.
In January, I participated in the Women’s March. It was powerful. I also participated in Planned Parenthood cookie grabs, and March’s “A Day Without a Woman” and the #metoo protests. I donned a pussy hat made by my friend and safety pins on my lapels all year. I donated to many institutions including the ALT National Park Service, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others. Very stressful year, politically.
I witnessed a Mars, Venus, Moon triune in January. I saw a supermoon in December, and many amazing full moons this year. I saw several meteor showers too. I performed several rituals, and did many Tarot card spreads for myself and others. (photo above, “Resist” by Lisa King)
This year, I’ve written an Outline, Character Description, Scenery Description, and Two full Chapters of what appears to be a novel. After I got my old childhood typewriter back, things just started coming out and on to paper. I feel like I’m a medium. I like to call my typewriter “haunted.” I’m going to just stay relaxed about it, and write on it when I’m inspired. We’ll see what happens. I also found my old notebooks full of short stories and another fully completed novel that I wrote in high-school. I’m editing those as I can. I’m not putting any pressure on myself in this area; I’m keeping it fun, an escape, and something that I’m doing because I just enjoy typing and storytelling.
I’ve written exactly 50 poems, a varying number each month, and if you add that to my other folio, I’m up to about 114 poems that I feel are good enough to publish. (I have countless other journals full of scratching, so who knows once I transcribe those.) I feel like I’m close to being able to publish a book of poetry now, which has been a goal of mine since high school!
I wrote some pretty cool blog posts.
This year I painted 5 tarot cards, totaling 18 cards now, towards my deck. I’ve designed the back of the cards, and made a start/outline on the book that will accompany the deck, and started a proposal for a professional publisher. I hope in 2018 to move this project forward, thanks to the support of my Patreons. I want to publish this deck in the next 2 years at least. It’s a big goal, long-term. But it’ll happen when it’s finished. I don’t force the cards, I paint them whenever I either dream them, have a vision, or experience the card in real life. So, that doesn’t have a time line. But, I’d like to make this a reality sooner, not later, and I’m really serious about working with a professional publisher on this project. (photo above, “Writing Desk, February” by Lisa King.)
I visited 6 Art Exhibits in 2017 (“Cross Country” and the new African Art wing at the High Museum, “Threads of Time” at the Michael C. Carlos, The Booth Western Art Museum, The Curious Garden, and Scarecrows in the Garden at the ATL Botanical Gardens.) I think it’s important for artists to remember that it’s not all “output”. You have to “input” art as well. So, as my printmaking teacher Larry Thomas always said, “When you are burned out, go look at art.”
I participated in World Goth Day in May, and one way or another, supported several charities, including SOPHIE: The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Beagle Freedom Project, PAWS Atlanta, ATL Beagle Rescue, The Santa Rosa Fire Dept, North Bay Fire Relief, and THORN. I think it’s important to support charities that you trust, and be empathetic towards causes you believe in.
I experienced a very bizarre Time-Space spiral time anomaly this Summer, and was haunted at least twice this year. (photo above, “I Draw, Therefore I Am” by Lisa King)
This Summer I played three live shows on a Mini Tour with The Hot Place supporting David J in ATL, ATH, and Savannah, (totaling 8 shows now with David J in the past two years, with the 9th coming up in March.) I also witnessed David J playing harmonica on a new song by The Hot Place, “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” at Electron Gardens studio. I was also invited to play onstage with him during the tour, including playing/singing on Bela Lugosi’s Dead in a chapel/crypt in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA. That’s some goth street cred right there! Bela in a cemetery. I also conducted a spontaneous and recorded word-association interview with David J in public, at Criminal Records. That makes three recorded word association interviews that we’ve done together now.
I hung out with, in some capacity, all of Love and Rockets this year and ¾ of Bauhaus, by touring with David J, and being invited to see/meet Poptone, (Kevin Haskins, Daniel Ash, and Diva) at the Masquerade. More goth street cred!
(photo above, “Batgirl” by David McDaniel, at The Chapel in Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga. Playing “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” with David J.)
The Hot Place has written and recorded nearly 15 songs for our second album. I have written all the lyrics for those songs. I played bass on all of them, and sang on all of them. I played guitar on some of them. I’m co-producing the record with Jeff Calder. I continue to grow my relationship with Mike and Jeff, as we’ve written this album together, live in the room, as a band. My main goal in 2018 is to complete and press this album into vinyl. It’s been a few years in the making, and I’ve learned that you can’t rush an album. Some musicians put out a record a year. Some put out a record every 5 years. It’ll come out when it’s finished, and that can be daunting. But, I really hope it’ll be worth the wait, because I think it’s the best music I’ve ever made. (photo above, “The Hot Place at GATH Rooftop in Athens, GA” by David McDaniel.)
The Hot Place was Wikipedia’d! Silly, but that made me feel pretty damn legit.
My indie label No Big Wheel Records designed and released 5 full-length albums, redesigned and reissued 6 EP’s or Singles, and its subsidiary sister label, Sashimmy, released and designed 17 singles this year. Sashimmy is a new project for me, and I can’t be more thrilled at the way it is turning out. Sashimmy has been very strongly embraced, and our artists have been accumulating a lot of cool press, and podcast plays. The label is just about releasing singles and we’re going to press 45’s, of mainly experimental music and some of my side projects. I’ve enjoyed new working relationships with both local and international artists via Sashimmy, and hope to work with some new musicians next year. Can you Sashimmy?
(photo above, Jeff Calder of The Hot Place/The Swimming Pool Q’s at Electron Gardens studio in Atlanta, recording guitar for the new album, by Lisa King)
(photo above, Mike Lynn tracking guitar for The Hot Place’s new album at Electron Gardens studio in Atlanta, by Lisa King.)
I survived a Total Solar Eclipse August 21 and survived Hurricane Irma, which rocked the heck out of Atlanta on Sept 11-12. A full solar eclipse and a hurricane in one year. Wow.
I made a timed synchronous playlist for the eclipse here.
I made roughly 95 or more smudge fans for my Etsy shop, not including all the wands, runes, and jewelry that I handcrafted as well. I tried to expand into other online retail sites like Rebel’s Market, Amazon Handmade and Aftcra, but to no avail. Etsy is still the best source to sell handmade, despite some really bad anti-small seller policies they implemented this year. My income took a real hit in August. It’s very hard being a full-time freelancer, and part of me really wants to start working at a more stable job, even if just part-time. But, I know that if I fall into that lifestyle, I’ll see my creative output dwindle. Part of what motivates me to make so much art and music is that I have to pay the bills and put food on the table. So, though its a struggle, and quite frankly, really scary, I’m fortunate to be able to do this right now.
I finished hand-painting those Day of the Dead Frida Kahlo cowboy boots in October! The first place I wore them was to a bookstore. Looking forward to wearing those babies on stage!
(photo above, Crow and Peacock cruelty-free smudge fans, made by Lisa King for her Etsy shop, Wax & Wane: A Cabinet of Curiosities.)
I built 3 new websites this year for clients, including managing social media, graphics, and photos for my band and businesses. I also reviewed at least 50 books. Again, freelance work, but still in my creative wheelhouse. Blessed to be working. (photo above, “Day of the Dead Frida Kahlo painted boots, by Lisa King.)
I don’t know how many photographs I snapped and edited for bands/websites/work/hobby/pleasure, but it’s probably in the thousands. Photography still remains my favorite hobby, just before writing.
I made a lot of homemade vegetarian food, cakes, scones, dinners, desserts, and cocktails, lord knows! But one day I’d like to compile them all in a cookbook called “Kitchen Alchemy” with its accompanying website. Most of my original recipes I have in a file. But that’s on the back-burner at the moment. In the meantime, cooking sure is fun. I’ll never be a skinny girl again.
Well, after reading that, I’d say, no, I’m not in danger of thinking my product is my fame or my aura. I flat out busted my ass this year and last year, with tangible results. No wonder I’m tired! Somehow I managed to get out and hike, look at art, swim, travel, see movies, watch a whole season of football, and read a ton of books as well. I don’t know how! I’m starting to think I know how to fold space. Thanks to everyone who supports my work, and all of my endeavors. Thanks to all of my Patreon supporters. Never a dull moment!
Carpe it all…xoxo
(photo above, “Leaving for Athens, David J/The Hot Place Tour” by Lisa King)
2017 Month By Month Diary
January began with a mix of emotions. I was very upset about the political climate, to say the least. So, I felt a surge of adrenaline, because I had yet to suffer “news burnout” that we would be pelted with from the Twitterocracy. In contrast, I really do love the time just after Yule/Christmas, where everything is quiet. I can think. It reminds me of being in a ritual space, “a time out of time, in a place out of place.” In order to escape the “bad news” I hiked a lot. Winter hikes are really inspiring to me. This January, I found a magical clump of mistletoe hanging right above my favorite meditation spot by the lake. On the same day that would be traditional to cut mistletoe with a golden sickle by the Druids (the 6th day after the new moon, after the winter solstice), by chance I found myself reaching up the crooked handle of my yellow umbrella, like a modern Druid, and cut the clump out of the tree. It did not touch the ground, as it fell into the open upturned umbrella. I was able to put lovely bundles over all of my doorways for a year of protection. I watched the NFL playoffs, and entered the recording studio, working on songs for both The Hot Place, and a super secret project that would be revealed in April. At the end of January, I saw a Mars, Venus, Moon conjunction. I painted The Chariot tarot card, which I felt was the symbol of the year to come. I practiced my scone-baking, which I’m always trying to perfect! The most important thing I did in January was participate in the Women’s March in Atlanta on 1/21. I also donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, and because I did, my friend Jennifer knitted me a pussy hat. I wore the hat proudly all winter into spring, and again at the end of the year. I saw a beautiful full snow moon, and drank a lot of bourbon with clementine twists. I also redecorated my office, with a new computer monitor, and little office nook.
(photo above, “The Chariot”, handpainted tarot card by Lisa King)
FEBRUARY: I would watch a heartbreaking Falcons loss at the Superbowl. Ugh! I got busy at my drafting table, and the next tarot card of the year would be The Star card, which was a direct result of a dream I had, with Johnny Marr as The Star. So, though the character is usually female, I happily broke with tradition, and painted it. It still remains one of my favorite cards of the deck. Imbolc came with hyacinths, daffodils, and the discovery of some local mead, and I like to rededicate myself to a year and a day of spiritual practice, including meditation and yoga. I spend the day refreshing altars, the yoga mat, my meditation space, and usually go shopping for some new tools or crystals. Valentine’s day was met with red roses, white tulips, and “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda, and I wrote a huge chunk of my poetry this month, inspired by Robert Bly’s “Morning Poems”. I decided to write a poem each morning for the rest of the year. I pretty much have stuck to it, barring some days when I was just too tired. I scored a huge haul of books by my favorite out-of-print author, Tanith Lee, at Book Nook, which made me very happy. At the end of the month we announced that The Hot Place would once again be invited to go on a “mini-tour” with David J (Bauhaus/Love and Rockets), playing Atlanta, Athens, and Savannah. This was very exciting, because I was looking forward to visiting the most haunted city in the US again, after my stint there in art school. I was curious how David’s energy and presence would shape my experience in the city, which it undeniably would. We played some amazing venues on this tour, including Little Tree Studios in Avondale, the rooftop of the Georgia Theatre in Athens, and a crypt/chapel inside Bonaventure Cemetery. Tres goth! Venus moved retrograde, which created a little friction in my day to day relationships at the end of February.
(photo above, “The Star”, handpainted tarot card by Lisa King)
MARCH: March came in like a lion, with tornadic storms. But, it also arrived on a cherry blossom-scented wind. I learned to make pizza dough from scratch, which for some reason I had never made. It set off a flurry of gourmet pizza-making binges, which was a lot of fun. The Hot Place started recording on a more frequent schedule at Electron Gardens studio, and we wrote a new song, “In the Strange Oblivion”, which would become one of my favorite songs. I believe it will be our album opener. The jasmine blooms encouraged me to buy my first bottle of Vida Organic Mezcal of the year, which I enjoyed immensely. The Spring Equinox/Ostara came, and I spent most of the day outside. I started a Facebook group, “Drinks with the High Priestess”, which was intended to be a monthly tarot group meeting, in which like-minded tarot card appreciators could meet up and discuss a card as topic. It morphed instead into a more private ongoing series of meetings in which my friend Jordan Ososki and I would start to formulate the book, the design, and the back of the cards, what kind of box, and presentation I wanted for my own deck, “The Bent Twig Tarot”. So, what seemed like something I started that I could not sustain, turned into very productive work. I look forward to Jordan’s invaluable input as I keep making this deck. At the end of the month, I had a dream in which Neil Gaiman and I were discussing the “Death” card. He showed me this vision for the card, so I woke up the next day and painted it straight away. I realized that my long-distance vision was getting a bit blurry, and sprang for some amazing vintage glasses. I started a James Bond marathon, because I wanted to watch some of the early films. It turned into a year-long commitment of watching the entire series right up to the last Daniel Craig films. Whew! I also participated in the protest movement, “A Day Without a Woman”. It was slightly controversial, as some women felt that they could not participate in the protest because they would upset their families or employers. However…isn’t that what protest is about? You can read my blog entry about the experience here.
(photo above, “Death”, hand painted tarot card by Lisa King)
APRIL: The Easter bunny had my guitars set-up for playing in the studio. New strings, a nice cleaning, fretboard oiling, and intonation set. I noticed that on my blonde Tele, there is a fret dot that is a yin-yang symbol. I’d never seen it! It was quite a cool discovery. I continued to have mezcal cocktails, as the weather was already in the upper 80’s in Atlanta. I was not looking forward to 6 months of Summer. We drank pink champagne, sake, and frolicked a bit on greening-up lawns, but also had some really violent thunderstorms. Luckily, no lightning strikes in my yard this year. I began writing my novel, or whatever that is, as it just started writing itself when I’d sit at the typewriter. The Hot Place recorded a song called, “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight”. I did not know at the time that David J would play harmonica on the song when he came to Atlanta! Speaking of David, he had a 60th birthday this year, which was celebrated in music, on a CD complied by Darwin Meiners called “Kanreki”. The Hot Place was invited to contribute a song to this rare disc, and we covered his hit, “I’ll be Your Chauffeur.” We recorded it in January, but it was released on David’s birthday in April. I was very happy to have been a part of it.
(above, “Kanreki”, a birthday tribute for David J. The Hot Place covered, “I’ll be Your Chauffeur” for the rare CD.)
At the end of the month, I would have a vision of a goddess in a dream. I dreamed of this figure, a compassionate goddess, who was blinded in one eye, yet had the eyes of all creatures in the folds of her dress. The butterflies and dragonflies act as her “eyes on the world”, as she wishes to watch over mankind, as a kind of guardian, and sympathetic mother. After doing some research, I found some similar goddesses in the island mythologies of the Indian Ocean. Merged with some other similar Greek mythologies, I created a very specific mythology about her. I decided that this image, in monochromatic colors, will become the decorative back of my tarot cards. In my dream, she was at a table, and reading cards, and teaching a small group of us about oils and herbs, and other esoteric learning. She almost represented the “vision” of the Tarot as divinatory tool, so that got me thinking about her as a symbol of Tarot itself. She could also be the cover of the accompanying book that I am making, to go with the cards. We shall see! I do know that the border around my cards will have some reference to my name, “The Bent Twig” tarot, which borrowed its title from a lyric in the song “Chinese White” by The Incredible String Band, “The bent twig of darkness grows the petals of the morning”. I would continue to make crystal cuffs, runes, and smudge fans in my Etsy shop, but my income started to dwindle, as Etsy was making some unfortunate changes to their seller platform. It left me kind of frazzled.
(photo above, David J of Bauhaus/Love and Rockets playing harmonica at Electron Gardens studio, on “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” by The Hot Place. Photo by Lisa King.)
MAY: May was mainly about rehearsing for the upcoming David J tour. I didn’t take many photos, or get out and hike, as the weather was nastily hot. Still taking advantage of reduced May museum admission, I caught the new African Art collection at The High Museum of Art, and “Cross Country.” It was an extraordinary collection of American art . I also caught the “Threads of Time” exhibit at the Michael C. Carlos museum. (No photos allowed of that one, but it was shamanic and ritual clothing of South America. Incredible exhibit.) May Day/Beltane was full of roses, and martinis! Speaking of Goth, World Goth Day would be a lot of fun to celebrate again, and we released the posters for “Make America Goth Again”, the afterparty at the Georgia Theatre David J show. We also released the beautifully-designed David J/The Hot Place tour posters, created by my friend Peter Heckman. I made cupcakes for Mother’s Day, and practiced my biscotti-making. When we were not rehearsing, I was watching the MST3K new season, and popping Jiffy Pop to snack on. We were all stunned at the passing of Chris Cornell this month. We lost many more people this year who we admired, and I suspect that we will continue to. It’s just the timing of it all, and the age of the entertainers. It’s never easy though, losing lights in the world. I really try to cherish those talents that surround me. At the end of the month, I enjoyed my birthday with a sushi dinner and a Korean movie.
(above, David J/The Hot Place tour poster, by Peter Heckman.)
JUNE: Aleister Newbeagle turned 6 and a half this year! So glad to have that little element in my life. June would be our mini-tour, and it took us to Athens and Savannah with David J. I wrote extensively about my experience touring in a diary, it’s far too much to even begin to explain, so you can read about it here: (Thanks to David McDaniel for all of the tour help, and for the photographs!)
(photo above, Lisa King and Jeff Calder of The Hot Place, backing up David J at GATH Rooftop in Athens, Ga. Photo by Cat Bobon.)
It was one of the highlights of my life, going on that tour, and also it was an exercise in being out of one’s comfort zone for an entire week. My reward, so to speak, was to end the tour at Tybee Island, and stay overnight at the beach. It was heaven. The feeling of accomplishment, dipping in mother ocean, and a full-moonlit evening at the beach was a great gift to myself. Upon my return, I enjoyed some blueberry and fresh fruit martinis, with St-Germain, and spending Father’s day with my Dad. I baked him cupcakes. I got back to work in my Etsy shop, and I enjoyed playing with the new “Cosmic Tarot” deck that I had procured just before the tour. In fact, I carried The Star card with me from this deck the whole time as a totem. Just a few days after coming home from the tour, and still reeling with my third-eye very open, I had a surreal experience at Book Nook.
(photo above, Book Nook haul, with some rare books from the library of Cornelia Gray Lunt, by Lisa King.)
When I walked in, I felt I was being guided by hidden spirit hands to several tomes. I stumbled across a lot of amazing condition rare first editions from the turn of the century “Mauve Decade”, including “Witch Wood” by John Buchan, from 1927. I discovered a book plate inside one of the books, from 1982, obscured by a stuck end paper. I’d always suspected the books I found were from a serious Gilded Age collector’s library. Upon finding the book plate and googling the name on it, Ms. Cornelia Gray Lunt, I found she was considered the “First Lady of Evanston, Illinois”; a writer, aesthete, artist, feminist who had these rare books in her collection. She founded one of the first music schools in Illinois. Many of the books I inherited from this great lady’s library were noir, suspense, and espionage. Amazing find. She was a dear friend of Orson Welles, I would find out later, and he called her the “most interesting person he’d ever met, right up there with Churchill!” I know, without a doubt, that I was led to those books. I have since had a few interesting experiences in Book Nook. I think I slip into a trance now, as soon as I walk in. Which is fine with me! Guide me! The Summer Solstice was spent in quiet meditation, while I focused on all that had happened so far in the year. My little gift from the fairies was a big crop of golden chanterelle mushrooms in my yard, which come back every year, if you take care of them. I had gorgeous omelets!
(photo above, “Made it to Tybee Beach!” by Lisa King)
JULY: July came in hot, with fireworks, blackberry cobbler, fresh peach pie, vegan crab cakes, tomato sandwiches, Mellow Mushroom pizza, and a lot of cool cocktails like vodka watermelon or cucumber. The heat was terrible, and I started swimming laps again at our local pool. I would keep doing laps through the end of the summer, a time for me that is always challenging. I always experience a rise in my blood pressure during the late summer. It’s very uncomfortable. Still reeling from my Savannah tour, I drew a very meaningful self-portrait, as a young goth girl in Savannah, which would become The Fool card in my tarot deck. The best place for the artist to reside, in my opinion! I continued recording some bass in the studio, but most of this month was spent reading indoors, reviewing books, and getting my strength back from 6 months of hard work. I was definitely feeling burned out. I got to enjoy a Pylon/The Swimming Pool Q’s show at The Vista Room, which is always enjoyable, watching Jeff play with his legendary band the Q’s. It reminds me how lucky I am that he plays with Mike and I in The Hot Place, and how wonderful it is to have him in my life. At the end of the month I received a nice visit with my California friends Zoenda and Deb, from the Theme Music group that I used to be involved with. It’s always awesome meeting up with those cool ladies! On a sad note, this year we lost singer-songwriter Tommy Keene. I had just seen him with Matthew Sweet at City Winery this month, and we talked backstage with him and Matthew a good bit. He sounded really good at this show, and I was looking forward to hopefully seeing more of him. RIP Tommy. You’ll be missed.
(above, “The Fool”, hand painted tarot card by Lisa King)
(photo above, Tommy Keene, second from left, playing with Matthew Sweet at City Winery. RIP Tommy. Photo by Lisa King.)
AUGUST: The big event in August was to be a full total solar eclipse! I really hurled myself into the celebration on the 21st. I made a a few pinhole viewers-one for people to get under, and one for my camera. We had a little eclipse party at my house, and I have to say, when it happened, it was one of the most surreal experiences I can recall. The quality of the light was dusky reddish purple, like a dim blacklight was put in the sun. I got some great pictures, we feasted on champagne, french toast, and bagels with smoked salmon, and I made a YouTube playlist that if you started it exactly at 1:05 EST, it would peak during the eclipse with “Eclipse” by Pink Floyd, and fade out just before 4 p.m. It told a little story, and I worked really hard on it. We had so much fun! (You can find a link to the playlist in my Highlights Reel above.) We picked the wild muscadine scuppernong grapes from my arbor during the eclipse, and I made jam. I spent most of the month canning, and made muscadine, mint, red pepper, and mango chutney for gift giving at Yule. I went over to Athens this month, to see my friend Richard Lloyd (Television) play, with Wayne Kramer of the MC5. He signed his new book for us.
(photo above, Richard Lloyd of Television, playing with Wayne Kramer of the MC5 in Athens, Ga. Photo by Lisa King.)
I got an eye exam, and finally got prescription lenses for my two pairs of vintage glasses. I love them! The month would end with The Hot Place playing in a cool basement man-cave, at my guitarist Mike Lynn’s 50th birthday party. We reunited with some Betty’s Not A Vitamin and Unminded band mates of the past, and jammed. It was a blast! We got back into the studio, and recorded a lot of guitar this month. I tracked vocals on “A Second to Live” and some other stuff. I discovered that I love to drink organic Matcha green tea, and white tea with lots of honey in the studio before singing. No Big Wheel Records, my primary indie label, designed and released 5 full-length albums, and we redesigned and reissued 6 EP’s or Singles this month.
(photo above, “Blackout 2:36 to 2:37 pm, Aug. 21st Solar Eclipse through Pinhole Viewer”, by Lisa King)
SEPTEMBER: September came in with a scare! One of the biggest hurricanes on record was headed towards Atlanta and Savannah. It was highly stressful. I remembered how hard we got hit by Opal, a Cat 4 in 1995, and wasn’t looking forward to the Cat 5 squall of Irma. We lost power, and a few shingles and limbs, but thankfully no big tree damage or flooding occurred. It was very eerie, sitting in the darkness reading, listening to the constant window banging, heavy rain and winds, and howl that was that storm. I got no sleep that night, but luckily we had power restored late the next day. I kicked in to community-service mode, and many of my local friends without power came by that morning, for a hot breakfast, coffee, a shower, and companionship. We were really shook up. Later in the month, I visited the Decatur Book Festival with Jeff, who as a book reviewer for the AJC, always conducts a few author interviews. I really enjoy the author’s party event, and talking to all the book people. I felt like after that storm, I needed some peace. So, I painted the Four of Swords, and out popped a Buddha. I was feeling weak, suffering from some fatigue, arthritis, and all that nasty stuff, so I started juicing some fresh juice and drinking a lot of matcha tea. I had to go into self-recovery mode a bit, and celebrate balance with the Autumn Equinox. Football season started, so that would be a nice rest for me on a few nights of the week. I always confuse my more artistic friends, when they find out I like sports. But, I do. Takes my mind off the art parts.
(above, Aleister Newbeagle, during Hurricane Irma. The power was out, and the windows were rattling, by Lisa King.)
The Hot Place continued to hit the studio, tracking guitars and vocals for “Sunshine Messenger” and “L.A. Fog” . My angels’ trumpets bloomed, we had lots of tofu and fish tacos, and fresh fruit daiquiris this month. I had a great time seeing one of my favorite bands, The Church, at City Winery, and I procured a 2018 calendar of Steve Kilbey’s drawings. I also own his “The Time Being” tarot deck, which I love. The band had blown a tire on the tour bus, so the show started late. But, I got to say Hi to Steve, while he warmed up backstage doing pre-show yoga. The last thing I did this month was launch something I had in the making for several years, a subsidiary record label that would release only 45’s/7” singles, called “Sashimmy”–a play on the concept of ordering sushi a la carte (sashimi) and a certain kitchy 60’s concept of “shimmy.” I imagined the order sheet for the 45’s as a sushi nigiri list, like the ones you get in the restaurants. The Geisha has always been a figure that I relate to, so No Big Wheel would have a “little sister,” Sashimmy, the embodiment of the Geisha and my love of Pacific Rim Japanese culture. The label was to be based in experimental music, especially drone or electronic, with a psyche, dance, industrial edge. We released 17 singles this year, two of which were special charity releases of cover songs, that would support SOPHIE: The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and THORN. I enjoyed collaborating with several of my musical friends, and hope to keep the Sashimmy family and community active in 2018. We are accepting submissions. You can email me at: email@example.com with two mp3’s, if you should be so inclined!
(above, “The Four of Swords,” hand painted tarot card, by Lisa King)
OCTOBER: I really, really felt the darkness that is October. I started off the month with my much needed and looked forward to Indigenous People’s Day (screw calling it Columbus Day) vacation in the mountains. Since I’d already gone to the beach, I decided to visit my ancestral lands in Toccoa and North Georgia, and visited Arabia Mountain on the first day, then hit the road for Amicalola Falls, Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls, and I also visited the Booth Western Art Museum near Rome, Ga. That was a hidden gem! A great museum of Cowboy and Native American art. When I returned, I kicked the vocal takes into high gear, recording many of the vocal takes on the record. I find once you get into a groove, vocally, you should record as much as you can while your voice is healthy. Always the one for decorative footwear, I gifted myself a pair of rose-embroidered Creeper shoes this month, and more importantly, I finished the two-year decorative paint work on my Day of the Dead Frida Kahlo cowboy boots. I wore them to a bookshop the first time they were out for a spin. My Samhain was very dark. I was visited by some new entities this year, including a pretty long ritual with the energy of The Crone. I had a really bad bout of anxiety, which I believe was probably caused by having to suppress some strong and difficult emotions earlier in the year, in order to keep my sanity while touring, recording, painting, and dealing with the horrible political climate. I had a few panic attacks, early in the morning, and all I can guess is that the adrenaline and cortisol that had been building up in my body was still there, and I was pushing myself really hard in the recording studio.
(above, “The Three of Swords”, hand painted tarot card, by Lisa King)
During all this, the Three of Swords tarot card came out. It’s a really emotional card for me. One of my main spirit animals is the Deer. This card represents how I feel when I’m heartbroken. Grief, crying, raining, heart pierced. It’s Saturn in Libra, a dark and heavy card, but there is some light. It’s an insightful, though painful card, when we are pierced by the Swords and Arrows of the Mind, since this card is in the suit of Air. It’s also a representation of the Jungian Individuation process, which is an uncomfortable opening up through Pain to the Higher Self. Also, it’s the bleeding heart, or sacred heart of the Mysteries of the Martyr. Nothing is as helpless as a wounded deer, to me, or a wounded bird. Wings=Air. I got a real vision of how I was feeling, and it was distinctly this Bird-Deer. It’s sorrow, but the kind of melancholy that inspires songs and paintings. The middle sword is the magical sword which is also in my Ace of Swords, an Excalibur of sorts. Just a few days later, a real deer, the biggest antlered buck I’ve ever seen in person, would come walking down my street, into my yard, and right up to my studio window. It was if I had summoned this totem to me, by painting that card. It was very moving. Halloween was a somber, yet fun day. I dressed as Frida this year, of course, in honor of my boots.
(photo above, Halloween as Frida, by Lisa King)
I had a very long and cathartic Samhain/Day of the Dead ritual, and a great tarot spread. I asked for some truths to be revealed, and they were, as energies like Hecate and Yemaya do not beat around the bush. The truths would be painful, as it was the ending of a long friendship of mine that would occur, at the prompting of another friend, who had wedged themselves in the middle of our relationship a lot more than I had realized. I was a bit blindsided by it, but now, I see how jealousy, lust, anger, fear, chronic negativity, and the desire to manipulate, control, and disempower the other friend, was driving this person to behave in this way. They were definitely having root chakra issues. Apparently my successes and insights into life and tarot were perceived as “self-righteousness” by this person, who then decided to convince the other friend that somehow I was causing them too much distress with my tendencies to be a light-bearer, (which can look a lot like Lucifer to some.) Still, I was disappointed that both friends decided to ghost me in the end, and that my long-term one didn’t have enough independence to see through the other friend’s gaslighting. At least let’s talk it out? Especially such an old, and long term relationship. Ghosting someone, unless it’s a domestic violence or necessary situation, sure is a rude and immature way to avoid conflict. It’s cowardly. Don’t ghost on people, ya’ll. Just go ahead and have an argument, or a cry, and confront your feelings, but don’t just avoid them, unless your safety is an issue. Still, I wish my friends well, and I hope that they can both do some shadow-work, build up their confidence and resources, develop a strong inner self and identity, create their own happiness and independence, and not be so incredibly intimidated by other people’s paths. I suppose that it makes way for new friends and relationships, when that sort of thing happens. Perhaps those two friendships just had an expiration date that I was ignoring. On the upside, I went to see the Atlanta Botanical Gardens exhibits, “The Curious Garden” and “Scarecrows in the Garden” this month. That was a joy! Also, Sashimmy artists were featured on the Rebel Songs Halloween podcast and we got some great write ups in the media.
(above, Sashimmy Records full catalog)
(photo above, Mini-Jacks, by Lisa King)
NOVEMBER: November always comes in with the Native American pow-wow. Each year, I go celebrate my Native blood, buy crafts and supplies for my Etsy shop, and enjoy the dancing. My Note 5 phone died this month, and without a second thought, I purchased a Note 8, which I love. I got to test it out this autumn and Yule with many pics. Feeling a little better after a lot of anxiety, sadness, and darkness, I went to see The Swimming Pool Q’s play with Love Tractor at the Vista Room, and it was a great way to get ready for the upcoming holidays. This is the busiest month in my Etsy shop, and this year, despite the poor platform that Etsy now has implemented, I was still able to have a pretty good holiday sales month. I had some much needed healing time at the Jung Society in Atlanta, as I went to see a storyteller spin one of my favorite tales, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and some other myths, and there was a lecture afterward, with some Jungian interpretations.
(photo above, Pow-Wow, by Lisa King)
(photo above, The Swimming Pool Q’s at the Vista Room, photo by John Underwood.)
I got some hiking in before Thanksgiving, and I always cook a feast for friends and family. Mulled wine and cider were the drinks of choice this month. Sashimmy records released its first International EP, “Climber”, from Croatian electronic artist Juraj Vojvodić, who performs as Duke George. That was very exciting! It’s a great EP. Just a bit earlier in September, we also released a single by Album Gatefold, “Ghost Freighter Adrift in the Yavin System”. The Hot Place would start work on a collaborative single with Album Gatefold, aka Albert Gresens, for release in December. At the end of the month, Kevin Haskins (Bauhaus/Love and Rockets/Tones on Tail) invited me to come down to the new Masquerade and see Poptone, a Tones on Tail redux with his daughter Diva on bass, percussion, and keys, and of course Daniel Ash on guitar and vocals. It was a lot of fun seeing one of my favorite records, “Night Music” performed live, and to hear a few Bauhaus/Love and Rockets songs as well. It was also a joy to meet Kevin again, as we have a funny little history: One time I was stranded backstage in high school when I was a teen in the 80’s at a L&R show, and he called my Mom from a backstage pay phone, explaining that “we have your daughter”, which was hilarious, but also letting my Mom know that I was okay, and I’d be home late, because my ride had vanished. It worked! I didn’t get grounded that night, and he made sure I got home okay. Thanks Kev!
(photo above, Lisa King and Kevin Haskins, of Bauhaus/Love and Rockets/Tones on Tail, photo by David McDaniel.)
DECEMBER: I confess that it took some doing this year, to get into the Yule spirit. It was very hot still at the beginning of the month, as the whole year had been. But, suddenly, the temp dropped, and low and behold, we got a light and fluffy snow. My fresh pine-smelling tree and decorations were up during the storm, so it really suddenly kicked the Yuletide spirit into the air. During the snow days, I cooked more vegan crab cakes, and practiced my pancake and crepe-making skills with my new griddle that my parents gave me in May for my birthday. It’s a pancake life-saver! I pulled out the hot cocoa, the prohibition-era bourbon sours with the egg-whites, the Dalmore good scotch, homemade egg-nog, and glogg, which helped me feel warm and fuzzy, and more in the holiday spirit. After I closed my Etsy shop for the year, I got out and visited some small shops, and did my gift shopping. I boot-shopped for myself, scoring a trifecta of boot love, and I was gifted some lovely moon-baby earrings from Jeff, and some delightful bath stuff, incense, books, and chocolate from friends and family this year. Aleister got a new sweater and blanket, which he loves.
(photo above, Holiday Beagle, by Lisa King)
The Hot Place spent some time in the studio recording Bass VI and guitar for “Home”, and studio owner Tim Delaney created a great horn arrangement for the tune. I enjoyed tracking vocals, and while I was in Electron Gardens studio, I recorded vocals for “Little Doll”, a collaboration between Album Gatefold + The Hot Place. Jeff played ebow and backwards guitar on the track in the same session. Albert Gresens, aka Album Gatefold, arranged the song, and played the majority of the instruments. He also had an idea for the cover, with some retro light projection. So, at the suggestion of my designer and friend Peter Heckman, I shot a 4 hour photo session, with an opaque projector beaming onto my nekkid skin, with some 60’s go-go girl makeup on. I enjoyed it, and really love the dark psychedelic, drone, shoegazey version we created together of The Stooges track, and Albert asked that all proceeds go to support his preferred charity, THORN, digital defenders of children. We raised and donated $50. (https://sashimmyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/little-doll-7-single). Just before Yule, I wrote a complete outline, character analysis, and scenery description of my novel. I wrote another chapter, and now, with my outline, I can bounce around the story at any time, writing in any scene. Neil Gaiman talks about that a lot, how you’ll write different scenes depending on your mood or day. It’s nearly impossible to write a linear story, from beginning to end. So, I have a lot of freedom now. Finally, the last news bit of 2017, we announced that The Hot Place will again join David J, with special guest James Hall, for a show in Atlanta on March 1, 2018 at Little Tree Studios next year. I can’t even express how wonderful that feeling is.
(above, “Little Doll” by Album Gatefold + The Hot Place, design directed by Albert Gresens and created by Peter Heckman. Photo by Lisa King.)
(photo above, Lisa King in the studio at Electron Gardens, recording vocals for the new album by The Hot Place.)
THINGS I LEARNED in 2017: The Importance of Gratitude, and how sad it is to see friends or family who focus in on complaints, anger, and sadness, instead of practicing joy and thankfulness for the wonderful things they have in their life (though it’s okay to be sad too…or angry…but not without gratitude to balance it out); How cowardly and painful it is to be ghosted by a long term friend; How jealousy, and a shadow-based distorted perception that other people might have of you can be happening right under your nose, and how it can suddenly lash out and destroy things; That not all acquaintances and connections deserve to be nurtured, and that it’s just fine to be picky in your relationships, both personal and working; That boundaries are key when you are living a mostly “public” life of an artist or musician, because you have to, in many ways, trade a certain amount of privacy if you truly give yourself to the world and to your craft; That not everyone wants to be successful, no matter how much they say they do; and that All work is Beneficial, no matter how small a step you take every day.
(above, web poster for the David J show, with The Hot Place and special guest James Hall, at Little Tree Studios, March 1, 2018. Tickets are available here.)
Best of 2017 in Books, Movies, TV, and Music
I’ve read SO many books, that if you want to take a peek at my Goodreads page, you can gaze at my “Year in Books” here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/
So, I’m just going to mention a few things I enjoyed in 2017. I’m not good at lists. Hardly everything I saw, but some highlights are:
MOVIES/TV: Hidden Figures (technically 2016, but watched 1/5), Sherlock BBC, The Master (Korean), Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix, The Eagle Huntress (was amazing), Stephen Fry in America (old, but streamed), The Magicians on Netflix (loved the book, the stream was okay), Rewatched the entire James Bond movie collection, from beginning to end, whew!, Kedi was a favorite flick, Rogue One on Blue Ray with Special Features, Tales by Light on Netflix, MST3K new season stream, Finding Joe (streaming film about Joseph Campbell), California Typewriter may have been my favorite film, Born in China about the Pandas, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales, Wonder Woman, The Love Witch (possibly my other favorite of the year), Logan Lucky (hilarious!), Loving Vincent (well worth it), Blade Runner 2049 (also a top pick), Thor: Ragnarok, Murder on the Orient Express, The Shape of Water (highly recommend it), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (a bit tiring in the middle, but a great end.)
(photo above, “Vintage Bookstack” by Lisa King)
AUDIOBOOKS/PODCASTS: Invisibilia NPR podcast, Hidden Brain podcast, Letters to a Young Poet audiobook- Rainer Maria Rilke read by Charlie Louth, The Human Shadow and What Stories Do We Need- Robert Bly, The Power of Myth-Joseph Campbell, and when I was too tired to read, the Nigel Planner Discworld narrations are great, to supplement the paper books in gaps.
PAPER BOOKS: I can only include some faves here. Please visit my Goodreads page for the entire list.
Morning Poems-Robert Bly, re-read a lot of The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, (especially the Rincewind, Witches, Tiffany Aching, and Death threads), Goddesses-Joseph Campbell, The View from the Cheap Seats & Norse Mythology-Neil Gaiman, Set the Boy Free- Johnny Marr, Jerusalem (haven’t finished this epic tome)- Alan Moore, Devotion-Patti Smith (a super favorite), A few editions of The Paris Review, Witch Wood-John Buchan (a real favorite). Seriously, though, you’ll have to visit Goodreads. I read 111 books this year. https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/
MUSIC/BANDS/SONGS/EP’s/ARTISTS I DISCOVERED or LISTENED TO: This is smaller and smaller every year that I’m making my own album. I think it’s hard to listen to other artists sometimes, when you’re in such a hermetic bubble of creating your own music. But, I did enjoy the new albums by: Brian Eno, Bowie, William Basinski, The Feelies, Old 97’s, Clint Mansell Loving Vincent soundtrack, Depeche Mode, The Jesus and Mary Chain, CLAVVS, Aimee Mann, Future Islands, Cigarettes After Sex, Robyn Hitchcock, Slowdive, David J, Buckingham/MacVie, Moby, Jeff Tweedy, Beck, Robert Plant, Bjork, Noel Gallagher, and U2.
NEW & OLD PLACES I VISITED OFTEN and DUG IN 2017: The Michael C. Carlos Museum, Mellow Mushroom Decatur, The High Museum of Art, Terminal West, Book Nook, Midtown Art Cinema, YDFM, The High Museum of Art, Goosefeathers, LaFonda, Jittery Joes, the new Masquerade wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I enjoyed Hotel Tybee.
(photo above, “The Star”, outtake from the “Little Doll” photo session, by Lisa King.)
Tarot Card for the Year: The Star and 2018 Goals and Resolutions
In 2016, I predicted that 2017 would be the year of The Chariot card. It proved very correct. It was a year of taking the reins. As I wrote last year, “The Chariot represents mastering control of opposing forces. Union of physical and intellectual powers: where the rubber meets the road. Control, but indirectly. Intuition. The power of subtlety.” I felt that. I really did. The Star card also made an appearance, as that was the card I chose to really embody in my performing persona this year. I don’t feel The Star’s energy is quite finished with me, because on the Winter Solstice I pulled a tarot spread which very clearly indicated that 2018 was going to be all about The Star card for me. A great beacon of light, I’m looking forward to The Star’s energy and approach, in 2018. The energy is soft, sexy, feminine, bright, loving, gracious, hopeful, light, emotional, and full of potential.
These were my goals for 2017. I feel that I definitely accomplished them:
- Finish recording The Hot Place’s new album. I’d love to release it on vinyl. (Check!)
2. Keep painting as many tarot cards as I can. It’s a long-term project. (Check!)
3. Play some good quality live shows in 2017. Don’t want to lose my edge. (Check!)
4. Keep allowing my typewriter to guide and write a story, novel, or whatever it’s typing.(Check!)
5. Read…a lot. (Check!)
6. Practice Yoga and Meditate every day. (Well, not every day, but most days. Check!)
7. Practice the art of listening more, talking less. (I can always do better here!)
8. Continue to swim, and to eat a healthy, balanced diet. (Check! Though I’ve let go a bit during the holidays.)
9. Practice more compassion, especially self-compassion. (Always a good thing to keep in mind when I overextend myself.)
10. Stay balanced, always balance. (A constant struggle, but I feel like in the end I succeed!)
2018 Goals and Intentions
So, what about 2018? Well, my intentions are:
- Release The Hot Place’s new album
- Keep up that Tarot card project, including making a private link to all the scanned in cards I have so far, with text with the accompanying booklet. Shop it to publishers.
- Play live shows again with David J, and perhaps more this fall with The Hot Place
- Keep typing on that novel
- Start to organize a poetry folio
- Paint my house! Poor thing! Take care of some homestead projects.
- Steady up my income…but not compromise my creative life. Keep up Sashimmy.
- Stay healthy, balanced, compassionate, woke.
- Hike a bit more, Yoga a little more consistently
- Worry less…stay in the present, stay out of the box!
(above, Lisa King at her writing desk.)
FULL PHOTO DIARY OF 2017 LINK HERE, coming soon
Read my Online David J/The Hot Place Tour Diary here:
See more detailed photo albums of The Hot Place here:
Find me here:
Support Lisa King and The Hot Place monthly on Patreon:
No Big Wheel Records on Bandcamp: http://nobigwheelrecords.bandcamp.com/music
No Big Wheel Records on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/NoBigWheel
Sashimmy Records: http://www.sashimmy.com/
Sashimmy on Bandcamp: http://sashimmyrecords.bandcamp.com/
The Hot Place official website: http://www.thehotplaceband.com
Wax & Wane on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/waxandwanewands
Kitchen Alchemy: http://kitchenalchemycookbook.com/
Instagram: nobigwheel/Lisa King
Love and Light to you, always.