Category Archives: Blog

This is Catie Faryl’s blog with current information. Please visit my site for all the content I have to share!

A View from 2050 and artwork from “Bridges to 2050”

Bridges to 2050

Catie Faryl’s art exhibit, “Bridges to 2050” departs from frustration and gloom by offering optimistic portrayals of common sense solutions and hopeful information on better outcomes for people, planet and all sentient beings. With thought-provoking pictures of where we are and new paths open to us, West Coast Artist Catie Faryl gives inspiration for social, economic, political and environmental justice and shares old and new solutions, technologies and ideas to rebalance our relationships to the land and all living creations. Her paintings and writings offer insight into some choices and decisions ahead and contemplate ways we can move in an upward spiral through better stories, community effort and systems both ancient and visionary, for a sustainable future.

Humans Be Still! Make room and care for all elements and sentient’ beings

Key Word Searches:
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Famous for the idea of the Reverence of Life
Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) neo-futuristic architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor
Antonio (Saudi 1852-1926) Famous for his study of nature applied to architecture

Frankenstein’s Cat by Emily Anthes
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Center for Biological Diversity
World’s fragmented forests are deteriorating
American Museum of Natural History Extreme Extinction
Globalization— the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years
The Charter of the Forest
Amphibian Ark: Frightening Statistics
Collapsible woven refugee shelters powered by the sun
Human Population: How Does It Compare To Other Species?
The Most Ancient and Magnificent Tress From Around The World


Diminish the gorilla of fossil fuel, expand the human heart

Key Word Search:
The Venus Project
Charles Einstein

Art as Medicine by Sharin McNiff
Lost Lore: A celebration of traditional wisdom by Editors of Chambers
The Human impact on the Natural Environment: Past, Present, and Future
Geo-Engineering Climate Change: Environmental Necessity or Pandora’s Box? by J.Michael Thompson

Climate change brings world closer to ‘doomsday’, say scientists
Beautiful Photos Of Tiny Humans Lost In The Majesty Of Nature
Pesticides Kill Us
Pachamama Alliance
Beyond Toxics
Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond 4 of 9 ‘planetary boundaries’
Clean Energy Breakthrough: Scientists Extract Hydrogen Gas From Plants
Historic thaw in Antarctica may have major effect on coastal cities

Carry the torch of new and ancient solutions

Key Word Searches:
Cellulose 3—D printing
Geothermal energy is renewable
Quantum and magnetic energy

A People’s History of America by Howard Zinn
The Great Work: Our Way into the Future by Thomas Berry
The Universe is a Green Dragon by Brian Swimme


Clean Energy Breakthrough: Scientists Extract Hydrogen Gas From Plants
Ancient Technology
Climate change brings world closer to ‘doomsday’, say scientists
Latest Science Inventions
Watch mini Eiffel Tower emerge from goo
New Energy Inventions News Articles
Solutions to the World Energy Crisis
LENR Cold Fusion
NASA Technology Gateway
Biofuel created by explosive technology
Wind turbine creates water from thin air
This machine makes drinking water from thin air
The 10 inventions of Nikola Tesla that changed the world
MSV Explorer amphibious vehicle promises perpetual motion
San Francisco area drivers 1st with algae biofuel


Conserve and respect our Mother

Key Word Search:
Water Wise Project
Watershed Sentinel

The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA by E.G. Vallianatos
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Restoration of Ancient Agricultural Technologies to the Negev
Ocean Life Threatened With Mass Extinction, New Study Says
Playground roundabouts are being used in South Africa to solve water supply problems in rural villages
Never Thought A Billboard Could Be Used This Way!
Fog Catchers Bring Water to Parched Villages


A Back-cast Vision by Catie Faryl


2015 – Awareness increases in America and the world that “business as usual” will not be possible in the future

2017 – Recognition that Climate Change is real and that current National leadership is unwilling or unable to address it. The rise of local group, mayors and governors starts filling the void.

2018-2020 – Economic setbacks caused by multiple, massive floods, fires and other disasters continue. Cook stoves and all vehicles are converted to run on clean-burning alcohol fuels made from organic farm waste and materials (with systems like those developed by Blume Distillation in Watsonville,CA)

2021 – Congress with a new president find the BoomerCorp program, and are able to provide “Health Care for All” with a strong, forwarding thinking group of senior citizens who drastically reduce health care costs via prevention and intervention. Toxic products, plastics and other carcinogens are banned and removed from the environment.

2022 – Congress finds the C.E.T.A. Program, adding thousands of people to bring new ideas and innovate to governments and businesses and help their implementation, as climate consequences and other factors further aggravate the safety and livelihoods of citizens.

2025 – Fire and flood management are given top priority. GMO Trees are banned. Jobs are created to do the physical labor of thinning small trees and undergrowth in forests, as well as weed abatement and weed harvesting for biofuels which eliminated the use of toxic sprays.

2027 – Revamping of the entire waste management system via Creative Reuse Depots where “trash” is made profitable by a new work force of traveling, trained people who make it into energy, non toxic fertilizers, soil building products.

2028 – Fracking and export of domestic oil to foreign entities is made illegal. All domestic energy from fossil fuel and GMO are deemed usable only as “bridge energy sources” for new sustainable/renewable energy sources until 2030, becoming illegal for any use on January 1, 2030.

2031 – With the sunset date for fossil fuel extraction and use in sight, a total retrench of the packaging and delivery systems was begun. Sand from dredging to mitigate climate change storm surges is a source for glass factories to spring up on both coasts. Local food and local products are favored and those requiring long transport routes are scorned. It becomes socially unacceptable to buy from far away. The national trucking of goods decreases as local sourcing and public sentiment against long distance “imports” increased.

2031-2034 – New drought concerns and rising sea water force tax dollars be spent to revamp the entire water catchment, treatment and distribution systems. Water catchment, grey water, more reservoirs and elimination of water-wasting plumbing in every structure proceeds. Rivers, streams, lakes and sources are used more efficiently for outdoor uses.

2035-2050 –  American society, seeing the errors made in the last century become interested in values, ethics and education. Postal codes are used to determine what can be legally sold or consumed, so illicit and dangerous items of all kinds are greatly curtailed. The world is recovering from a scary period where our excesses compromised our common sense and our environment. People grow closer together realizing that there is real no other or better way to live than within our means. Reclaiming the commons, all that we share, respect and care for all sentient beings and our natural world is more fulfilling than the treadmill/cancer of endless and unsustainable “growth” — which is actually only resource exploitation, extraction and stealing from the future of the coming generations.

Catie Faryl
November 2017, presented at the Bridges to 2050 and “A View from 2050″

The Upward Spiral

The Upward Spiral

The Upward Spiral is a 2011 collection of paintings and monotypes from activist artist Catie Faryl’s exhibition series, Digging Out From The Dirty Decade. Two poems accompany the paintings, “The Shaman’s Dream” and “What’s The Use Lullaby,” serving as the artist’s statement on the collection.

The Shaman’s Dream

A Shaman’s Dream is Waking Life since really there is no such creature as a Shaman’s Dream.
Terrestrials come equipped with a guarding wall, or a curtain at least
While between the worlds a Shaman travels light with only a veil which rent by starlight
Is open to all manner of visions and things.

The Shaman disliked the early morning hours except for the 3 AM holy one yet during infrequent
Air-swimming interludes, at sixes and sevens with cattle calls, he’d ride a wild horse in sleep canyons
And lasso stray goats of prediction to bring back to the tribe.

In the dream desert there were primitive glyphs and newish broken china – with
Delicate color shells like empty  sea homes that fleet teenage crabs had run away from.
Time moved unharnessed until noon and terrain was traversed where dingos had made
Self-deprecating statues to the humorless gods.

In distant hills tongues in trees wagged restless secrets of close encounters.
Nearby cacti tipped their blooms to the intruding gyrations of oil rigs
Pounding out their desperate demands for Earth to obey and relinquish her lubricants.

Small tremors foreshadow vacant times like teapots all tipped over and poured out.
What sprig of fresh promise can a Shaman Dove bring as the midday heat wilts what mortals can see?
Comfort is evening spreading her cape and sprinkling stars to rest our tired eyes.
Sleep deep, Good Shaman, then return to the tribe with advice to look skyward.

-Catie Faryl
December 2011



“What’s the use?”  Does the growing tree say it? Does the water care as it’s carried away yet?
“Use your head” my father said and so I try but find Heart is still my strongest guide.
And in my mind’s eye I see better times, though passing through some troubling blinds;
We thread a difficult needle to stitch up the crimes of those who have trespassed before us.

If everything happens for a reason, then on to the future – it is the season
To stand and assess what destruction has wrought – from rubble and scraps we can salvage a lot!
And when I look into my heart or the eyes of a child, it is chilling, this willing I feel to start.

I SAY “What is the Use” of unwanted freeways ? Those will be platforms for future skyrails!
Or else wide-open bike trails where hikers and horse carts step over snails.

What is the use of billions of cars – when gas runs out and elites move to Mars?
We’ll build sublime towers and shout praises to real stars!
What’s the use of gyres, those islands at sea?  They can be made into harbors to keep our ships free
From evil currents and pirates on climate change seas!

What’s the use of Freeway Rest stops?  Few visitors coming – no traffic, no cops!
No worries dear ones – make Re-Use depots with jobs that won’t stop.
In our forests an Ecology of Eden could be, with careful stewardship we can set ourselves free,
and make markets for farmers and homes for bees.

And what of the herds of white elephant factories?  What possible use can these old things be?
My guess is they’re empty so we can agree to grow food and botanicals when the heat disagrees.
We’ll be using these places to stay safe and free.

So all children, sweetest dreams you deserve.
Grown-ups awake! – rested and cured.
There is use for everything under the sun – though we’re reeling, we’re healing and having some fun.
Awake, you doubters in your dark TV caves; come out in the sunlight and join with the Brave.

-Catie Faryl
From The Upward Spiral 2011

Bridges to 2020 (video)

As a member of the Art Presence Art Center, I had the opportunity to show my collection of monotypes and paintings, Bridges to 2020, at the Medford Library. The show has been held over through the end of July 2015! Below is a video with my comments on the paintings. I’ll post an edited version soon but wanted to get this one out there for people to see. I hope you will find it inspiring, and will come to the Medford Library to see the collection in person before the end of the month!

Eaten Seed Corn Moon

Sovereignty Seed Company ©

Sovereignty Seed Company©

“Sovereignty Seed Company” works on the premise that “freedom is priceless and seeds are free”. The ideas and art are yours for a small donation and the seeds are free. I am collecting donations using my artwork and generic seeds to support Chamber of Commons, Commons Sense Sovereignty and other projects while making the following educational and political statement:
“The ability to grow our own safe food supply is the key component in our sovereignty as a people and as a nation. Years ago the world abandoned the gold standard, and the dollar as the anchor for world economics is looking shaky. The seed is the first and last real method of exchange. So if you agree that seeds are sovereign and can be exchanged as currency, then participating in the devaluation of tainted GMO seeds can have an impact.
Through seed exchanges and creativity sharing we can flood the market with free, open pollinated seeds and at least be a small thorn in the side of Monsanto, Syngenta and their ilk while raising awareness of the precarious danger of allowing the corporate elite to modify, engineer, patent, hoard, make binding and threatening contracts and generally put the whole world over the food barrel by tampering and creating a monopoly on the most sacred thing we own in common.”
~Catie Faryl

Call me at (541) 488-9223 for more info, to donate seeds or make donations
Sovereignty Seed Company © October 2013

Eaten Seed Corn Moon

Eaten Seed Corn Moon

My Bag Lady Bags

My Bag Lady Bags

When I left home at a young age I ended up in some seedy places.  In San Francisco and New York I experienced the plight of the homeless, and even felt the possibility that if I wasn’t careful and lucky I too could face that hardship.

For some it has become a lifestyle choice. I appreciate the candor and pluck of those who call themselves the “Home-free” and I’ve learned that “all who wander are not lost”. Yet the concept of home is so essential to me after settling down, working in public housing, as a realtor, and as an artist, activist and observer of our culture, it gives me pleasure to help create opportunities for those who wants to become “stakeholders” and connect to a place.

In Ashland I have seen, through kindness of community, many people transform their lives, make friends, find meaning and gain a sense of belonging. I have been fortunate to develop my art career here and for a long time, I have used old paper sacks for my warm-up poses at life drawing.  Now I can share that work and put it to good use by selling my “bag lady bags” as a contribution to our area’s work for shelter program.   Thanks for your support.

Catie Faryl

In The News – Chamber of Commons Heat Sheet

In the News:  A Report from The Chamber of Commons  April 7,2013



–  Spring 2013 Heirloom Gardener Magazine

“Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops – new findings in products approved as safety for past 20 years, EFSA (European Food Safety Authoriy) reports this has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology…..but ……even greater ones because if it is a viral gene it may not be safe for human consumption

“EU Freezes Approval of GM Crops to 2014” – The European Commission has decided to freeze the approval process for genetically modified food crops…..the Commissions’ prior approval of GM crops has poisoned relations with 27 EU members.  Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Poland have provisions that allow them to block the cultivation of GM crops on their territory     Ground Truth website

March 31, 2013 – “ Bumper crops in India, no GE required” – “Agroecology” the best hope for feeding a hungry world. Farmers in the state of Bihar are setting yield records for rice, potatoes and wheat – without the use of genetically engineered (GE) seeds or pesticides.

March 31, 2013 – “Bees need help now! Time to up the ante” – with other options exhausted …..beekeepers are suting EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).  Bees are in trouble and they’re vital to our food system and … economy. They’re responsible for pollinating one in three bits of food we eat.

American Beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported.

Green Gazette – Longest-Running GMO Study Finds Tumors in Rats – This French study involved 200 rats and spanned two years.  Previously the longest study lasted just 240 days, says Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union and an expert on GMO Research.



For a Better World: issues and challenges in fair trade – Issue 6 Spring 2013 (a free publication you can find at your Food Co-op or visit their website at  :

– Why Industrial Hemp?  Article

–  TRADE POLICY REFORM CORNER ACTION ALERT:  NAFTA has had negative and often unintended consequences for many people in North America, including farmers, workers and consumers.  Right now there’s a similar trade agreement being negotiated by 12 countries including USA, Mexico, and Canada called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) The TPP threatens to have effects similar to NAFTa but on a larger scale, threatening human rights, the environment and jobs.

From Peace House Calendar:Trans-Pacific Partnership Action

April 28 & 29


Jackson County People’s Assembly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Just weeks prior to a new TPP negotiating round in Peru, we call on the 99% who are harmed by corporate globalization to oppose the TPP.  We will join cities and towns around the world that are holding community assemblies to discuss the problems with the TPP and the free trade model. Elizabeth Swager of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign will be down to brief community leaders on the TPP negotiations, and to strategize for a scheduled meeting with Senator Wyden’s staff the next morning.Multi-national community resistance put a freeze on the WTO. It stopped the Free Trade Area of the Americas. It can stop the TPP.  4:30 p.m. at the Grass Shack Café,  205 Fern Valley Rd., Phoenix, Oregon (Ext 24 off I-5).



Delegation to Senator Wyden’s office re the TPP

Tell Senator Wyden NOT to FAST TRACK the TPP!  Noon at his office in the Federal Courthouse, 310 West 6th St., Rm 118 in Medford.

For more information, visit


National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website

– “Downstream from your Jeans” by Corrine Platt-Rikkers – GMO seeds that need forever-increasing amount of pesticides and water is costing farmers dearly.  Associated water pollution and “dead zones” discussed.



Community Rights vs. Corporate Control – April 14 4 pm at Josephine County Fairgrounds, Flower Building, A Free public event with Kai Huschke from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Move to Amend


FUKUSHIMA – Get Involved – Stand Together and Take Action for an End to all Things Nuclear

For fact sheet and upcoming events, contact

Watch for next  IN THE NEWS – next Monday

Catie Faryl (541) 535-1854

letter to the editor about gmo & state attempted takeover of ag decision

Executive Vision

Executive Vision

Trench Art

Trench Art

On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM, catie faryl <> wrote:

Letter to the Editor regarding SB 633 and related bills:
It’s not just that Monsanto, Syngenta and other bullying, foreign profit-takers are contaminating our heirloom and regionally adapted seeds and crops. It is also their chemical mixtures of Round-up to kill everything in the soil, avoid plowing and then plant genetically altered seeds that is so destructive.   
Media, business and government blame the public for being sick and “out of shape”, because they are worried about how America can afford health care. It’s the omnipresence of GMOs, refined white GMO beet sugar, GM corn, soy, corn syrup and processed and animal feed, plus unhealthy growing and livestock practices foisted upon the farm communities, that are causing harm. The huge rise in obesity, diabetes, cancers and heart attacks is related to these foods, which is what poor, and beleaguered middle class, and unemployed are habituated to buying since its mass production makes it cheap, available and soothing, though of diminished nutritional value.  
Our air and water are filled with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, killing off animals and insects, polluting streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, giving people asthma and other conditions. We are literally breaking the food chain within nature. The addictive cycle of Chemical, GMO, and Pharmaceutical agriculture must be ended through a massive intervention followed by a period of detoxification and economic reforms.  We must undo the patents that allow mega-corporations to own “intellectual property rights” of genetically modified organisms, genes and seeds and find remedies for binding contracts that force farmers to continue paying and using these products.  
Don’t believe the lies from Chem/AG that their products are safe and their objectives altruistic and that they just want “to feed the world”.  If that were true, billions of dollars wouldn’t have been spent perfecting and owning gene code, but instead used to build wells, and support native and sustainable systems.  80% of the world’s food is still grown in small and mid-size operations, the majority of it by women.
FREE THE FARMERS AND THE LAND FROM THIS CYCLE OF ABUSE!  This tired system in place since WWII is losing its efficacy. It has depleted the soils, bred pesticide-resistant pests and spray resistant plant diseases, and made people lazy, ill and unresponsive. In the 1950s we were told how wonderful DDT was, yet it was finally banned in America in 1972, (when corporations like Monsanto, Dow, and others simply sold those toxins in the third world and polluted THEIR wells and soils.) GMO is being banned all over the world. We need to transition out of it before all our crops are non-exportable and our citizens, animals, and environment deteriorate further.   
Trench Art

Trench Art

Folks, these aren’t Mendel’s peas, seeds or crops anymore!  This is TRANS-SPECIES TAMPERING, the ultimate arrogance, human folly and act of aggression by putting things where things simply do not belong! How it ever became legal for scientific, moral, and political reasons is highly questionable. Everyone needs to stop and reconsider this dangerous practice.  In my book GMO stands for GODDESS MIGHTILY OFFENDED! Catie Faryl Chamber of Commons Champions of the Commons on Facebook The Law declares him a thief who from the commons steals the goose, but the greater thief the law lets loose who steals the commons from the goose!   

    –   an English Proverb

Opposing Senate Bill SB633 – to remove ag/seed control from Counties to State

Comments for Senate Committee regarding Senate Bill 633, Public Hearing Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The issue of Seeds is truly the debate of our time; it brings all differences of belief and opinion to common ground. Seeds represent our Sovereignty and are at the core of all economic freedom. Seeds are the true wealth given to all people, not just to a few patent holders. “Under all is the Land”* is a main theme of our democratic system therefore legislation that privatizes land, water, seed and genes or puts them under the auspices of Big Government involve great risks of undermining the biological, social and economic stability and survivability of our State and our Country.

It is unwise to tamper with the basic patterns established by Mother Nature. Evidence is mounting that foreshadows vast consequences if our State goes “retrograde” by supporting the trajectory of chemical and monoculture food-growing systems while the rest of the world is implementing more successful practices. France, Peru and many other countries have banned or are tightly controlling genetic modifications and breaking the addictive cycle created by dependence on fossil fuel, out of which the industrial-agricultural complex sprung at the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II.

As an artist and writer who observes and illustrates trends and envisions positive solutions, I see SB 633 as counterproductive to the future of our economy and a disconnection from the rising potential, in fact the necessity, of returning to sane agriculture practices under local control.

It is difficult for me to believe multi-national seed and pesticide companies’ claims that their actions are altruistic and that they just “want to Feed the Planet” when the legacy of DDT and other petroleum-based, Big Oil-subsidiary products have been known as carcinogenic, environmentally dangerous money-makers since Rachel Carson wrote “The Silent Spring” in 1962. The use of DDT was banned in America in 1972, yet  farmers were not encouraged to taper off chemical fertilizers and sprays at that time, but were instructed and directed to use and abuse different ag-drugs.

Right now we have the opportunity to reverse the addiction to genetically modified seeds, Round Up Ready and other chemical products being used in large scale farming that actually give less yield and worse outcomes than what Nature, when respected and understood, can provide.  Let’s show some leadership and forward thinking like Vermont, a leader in wise initiatives across America, and many other States who are applying heavy restrictions on GMOs, requiring labeling and seeking bans.

Southern Oregon is known for its organic and gmo-free foods and lifestyle and the trend across the country and the world is also moving in that direction. We want to keep our State an attractive destination for tourists and new residents. (One out of six people I spoke with while canvassing had just moved to the Rogue Valley because of our relatively clean food, water, and air – their health is demanding it!)

Removing local control of these issues will have, in my opinion, significant economic impact due to more farm failures and decreased allure for tourists, not to mention the impact of limiting our ability to grow healthy foods for our region and for export. Without studying the significant repercussions of Senate Bill 633, including backlash against all exports of edible and grow-able products from America, a huge mistake may be made. We will be unable maintain a regional open pollinated seed crop, which in the future may be more valuable than gold or any other wealth.

As a parent, and someone who cares deeply about people and all sentient beings, I am not buying, serving or consuming the products in question. I’d like my future grandchildren to enjoy a healthy Rogue Valley childhood, and along with thousands of concerned citizens I will continue working to co- create the very best future for Oregon. I ask the Senate Committee to please reject Senate Bill 633.

Sincerely, Catie Faryl, Phoenix, Oregon   March 10, 2013


Here are some sources for more information:

U.S.A. produces 53% of GMO crops compared tiny fractions in other countries:

Places where GMOs have been banned:…/93975745_peru-bans-genetically-modified-foods-as-…

Information about health concerns and diseases linked to GMOs:

Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and short video summarizing it at

Videos related to these issues:

“Alcohol can be a Gas” – makes the connection between Big Oil, the destruction of high grade farm fuels through Prohibition and the orchestrated addiction of America to fossil fuels

“The Future of Food”

“Genetic Roulette”


* Under all is the Land – from National Association of Realtors

King Lear

Asbestos Arks

Asbestos Arks


The day after seeing King Lear at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre, I hurried to the library and checked out three different books about the play.  Of course I’ve seen King Lear at least four or five times, but in the intimate setting of the smallest theatre on OSF’s campus I saw and heard things that I hadn’t truly understood or previously perceived.

One thing that hit home was how very dark and un-redeeming this tragedy is for virtually every character in it.  Next thing was how rift with incredible quotes from the Bard this play is.  If “Ripeness is All” (Act  5, Scene 2) we are really treated to a very dirty, gritty, smelly production this time around!

The set is dark with lots of wrought iron gates, hardware and technology features.  Center stage a “dumbwaiter from hell” serves as a map case for the bequeathed kingdom, a conveyance for darklings in the dark, a sand and fire pit and a hovel hole for hairy homelessness.  A massive staircase stretches upward into the ethereal regions of majesty and ego. It is the golden light leading to an afterlife (whom many will hope for, but few here have earned)  built straight up into the rafters.  Shadows lurk up there too and there’s plenty of noise – timpani drums and indecent, reverberating curses from fathers, and viperous verbal bites from serpent-toothed offspring and pelican daughters.  Set changes and management of props  are cleverly handled by officers in uniform who start out as roadies and techies to handle TVs and other devices, and evolve over the course of the play to security guards, Police, a full riot gear Swat Team and finally a terrifying military force.

I always try to read the Director’s notes in the Playbill before the action starts, and also I like to close my eyes when the house goes dark, and open them to a new world.  I was instantly struck by a direct reference by Director Bill Rauch to Climate Change – “Eternally relevant, this play has a renewed urgency in our current era of frightening weather extremes.  We have left intact some of the often-cut political machinations.” In this story, “sin is plated with gold” (Act 4, Scene 6) and “even dogs are obeyed in office”!

What is most important to me about theatre, and why I write reviews, is to see what we can learn about our own times and experiences from art and drama of the past . . . . Bill Rauch continues in his notes to say “ One of my all-time favorite lines is in King Lear – The Storm Rages”.  Director Rauch touches on the plight of the homeless in his note “How does the former king describe a mentally challenged homeless person groveling in the mud as “Thou art the thing itself? ”.  This production of King Lear doesn’t pull any punches.  It exposes all our folly and foolishness; no age group, class, caste, sex or group is spared, and the visceral events remind us of how close we all live on the edge by the grace of benevolent climes and with the support and love from community, good friends and families.

“Elf all my hairs!”  (Edgar, Act 2, Scene 3); I love that line!  As if all that befalls us is caused by some impish malice!  Sometimes it happens that “Age is unnecessary”. . .  (Act 2, Scene 1) and we become useless. “The young arise when the old do fall!” There is a tempest in Lear’s mind and his anger is riled when his youngest and favorite daughter does not follow suit with over-glorious (and false) praise and glorified, flowery flatteries that her two older sisters have bestowed on their father, Lear.  Lear has apportioned one third of his kingdom to each of his daughters, but ends up cursing and banishing his favorite, Cordelia, when she answered him with facts and reminders of her devotion to him, rather than making grand yet meaningless statements like her sisters.

This sets into action the tragic story of how things in families can go from so-so to bad to worst.  Halfway through I began to wonder, where is Lear’s wife? (clues in Act 3, Scene 4).  Without a mother present, the family dynamics seem to have gone completely a-rye!  The question is raised   “Is man no more than this – unaccomodated man is an animal!”.  What incestuous nonsense has transpired or just how demented are all these people?  The two older sisters prove to be quite self-serving and disloyal as the play evolves, but one must wonder, beyond the obvious jealousy of the favoritism previously showered on Cordelia by her father, that there is a huge unbalance in the mix.  I suppose inheriting the wealth and power Lear has passed on to his heirs,(pre-mortem and with plenty of hooks)  is motivation enough.  But all around, there is distrust, anger and envy.  Envy and ego make a deadly combination, and as has been said about the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is the one without redeeming gratifications of the carnal senses.

The story of King Lear is reminiscent of the Saturn and his offspring.  His “power does curtsy to his wrath”.  Is it creeping senility or Alzheimer’s that adds wind and fire to this storm?  Like Saturn, Lear is so intent on his rage that he ends up destroying the things and people dearest to him.  Saturn ate his children and Lear’s appetite for self-aggrandizement and praise unleashes all his rage and unhinges his sensibilities.  The loyal fool and angelic Kent try to pull Lear back from the brink, but his anger has blinded him even as the Earl of Gloucester is cruelly blinded.

When trust is gone, and dragons’ wrath is given rein to storm, forgetting all prior sweetness and love, lives are lost. “As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods, times plague when madmen lead the blind”.  Yet in Lear’s story, as ours, we can only look to our own misdeeds and “darker purpose” to place the blame.  Human folly is Infinite Jest.

Some say when we’re born we cry because we miss God. In this play Shakespeare states “When we are born we cry to be borne to this stage of fools”.  Quote the Fool, “Prithee, nuncle, be contented: ‘tis a naughty (wicked) night to swim in.  Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart – a small spark, all the rest on’s body cold.  Look, here comes a walking fire.”

Catie Faryl     March 5, 201


Two Trains Running

Two Trains Running

Playwright August Wilson has consistently captured the history of America through his series of plays about the lives of black people.  Two Trains Running  is set in a small neighborhood restaurant in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1969. The place has jukebox which is usually broken and other difficulties that  beleaguered, middle-aged owner Memphis must grapple with.  The action and additional cast* of six moves and comes alive in this small space, where their personal troubles, hopes and dreams are explored and exposed in the light and darkness of the rough political and economic realities of those times.

The intense view into the lives of Memphis and his waitress Risa, a perennial customer Wolf, who is running numbers using the restaurant as a point of his operation, wise old friend Holloway, disabled Hambone, a funeral parlor owner West is engaging.  The setting, music and language all reinforce the intimacy of the black community, as well as accurately portray similar small businesses throughout the country. I grew up in Oakland and spent time in similar neighborhoods in that time period.  The play is truly authentic and recreates the vibe and what was going on back then. The songs selected for the play are wonderful reminders of that time.  “You’re All I Need to Get By”, “I Fall Apart, Baby” and others sing volumes.

When a stranger named Sterling shows up at the restaurant, the lives of the other characters shift.  Sterling is a young and unknown fellow who’s got plenty of game, and maybe not as much sense as Memphis, Wolf and Holloway would like.  Risa is annoyed by his attention, but also friendly enough to him since he treats Hambone with good cheer.  Risa’s rough life has left her in distain for men, but the childlike Hambone is someone she cares about.  Hambone constantly raves about how he’s been cheated out of a ham he was promised years ago by a business owner across the street. Risa takes money from her tip jar to buy Hambone some coffee or beans when Memphis complains.

Each character is having problems, and Holloway recommends visits to “Aunt Esther”, a healer who lives nearby and claims to be 322 years old.  Her remedies for personal troubles are wise, and they have a reputation of working, although some are resistant to her “RX” of throwing $20 bills in the river to elicit a “cure”.

I greatly enjoyed this play and so did the rest of the audience who gave a spontaneous and rousing standing ovation at the end.  We felt like we knew these people and had struggled along beside them.  We can relate because what was happening in the poor black communities back in the 1960s and 1970s is now happening to the middle class.  The same issues of Catch-22 bureaucracies where there is a stranglehold on the means of making a living and the political climate where  grassroots leaders of the people are ignored, discredited, jailed or killed and the disempowerment of the people through a lack of jobs, resources and multitude of means (not least of which is to utterly exhaust and complicate life) is repeating.  There are some things we can envy about their situation; the camaraderie, the kidding, the light heartedness and faith of some of the characters and the boldness and brashness of others who represent their communal ability to cope and enjoy life even with hardship, while hoping, willing and working for change. Their circumstances are bleak enough that they recognize and declare “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”, a place and sense of things that the middle class has not yet embraced.

Making do with what’s available and with a thread of the line “Give me some sugar, Risa” continuing throughout the play, we instinctively know “sugar” is another name for love or a kiss.  A Reverend must become a Prophet to bypass the system and carry a message.  A restaurant owner must fight City Hall to get a fair price for his condemned property.  Flowers stolen from a funeral become a romantic gesture from a man to a woman.  These friends speculate on whether the Moon is getting closer, and foreshadowing the idea in the movie Melancholia, wonder whether the world will end.

These are the Two Trains Running.  One moving forward, one leaving.  We hear their plaintive whistles in the distant background.  There  are Two Trains Running, one is Love, the other is Death and no one escapes these travels and travails.


Catie Faryl, March 1, 2013



*Cast and Crew

Memphis – Terry Bellamy

Wolf – Kenajuan Bentley

Risa – Bakesta King

Holloway – Josiah Phillips

Hambone – Tyrone Wilson

Sterling – Kevin Kenerly

West – Jerome Preston Bates