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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
blog, which led me back here. I stopped using this blog pretty much around the time I started using Facebook. But now I appreciate that "social media" involve, by definition, other people's bullshit. So I'm considering a return to this as my main venting outlet.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
RECLAMATION PROJECT - Part Three: Ives Essay
Years ago, my friend Tim Quirk asked me to contribute a monthly page to an arts magazine called CURIO. This piece (and the accompanying art) was intended as my third piece for the mag, which folded before the piece ran. I put it on my old webpage and was flattered to find it linked to a comprehensive Charles Ives page on the web. Now that the old webpage is kaput, I place it here for your perusal. When this was written I had just finished Willoughby, and saw no chance that it would ever get released.
Of course, I subsequently had my small adventure in the music biz, made some more albums (the songs "Leslie's Coming Over" and "St. Ives" on Magic Beans are the soundtrack to this essay, btw), tossed away religious faith, began drinking again, mended Skel fences, lost most of my family, created a new one, bla bla, so some of this is no longer relevant. What remains relevant is my love for the work of Charles Ives. For most people, his music requires considerable effort to appreciate. For some, that effort is profoundly worthwhile.
A GLORY TRANCE
"I think there must be a place in the soul all made of tunes , of tunes of long ago"
(Charles Ives - "The Things Our Fathers Loved" -1917)
When I was a desperately lonely teen, that place in my soul was full of tunes created by maverick visionaries like Jonathan Richman, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed & Frank Zappa and cult groups like the Bonzo Dog Band & Stackridge. The eclectic individualism of these and similarly dissimilar artists (aside from providing necessary assurance that the fate of an oddball could include more than torment at the hands of slack-jawed, dull-eyed, Elton John t-shirt-wearing normals) prepared my ears for their first encounter with a man I frankly and unapologetically idolize: Charles Ives.
It was on a P.B.S. special celebrating the music of America. After 2 hours of Billings' anthems, Stephen Foster's exquisite parlor songs, the spectacular rags of Scott Joplin, sea shanties, slave hymns, cowboy ballads, urban blues and on and on, a soft piano chord sounded, beginning the brief Ives song I've quoted above. I forget the singer - manybe Sherrill Milnes - but his rich baritone still resonates in my heart. What seemed at first a sentimental melody of little distinction immediately began veering in unexpected directions... the strange, placid piano went buck wild with harsh, roiling arpeggiations and fanfares for fist. I was overtaken... agape, agog, and aswoon. I had a teenage crush on a song! In less than two minutes, it concluded on a gentle, unresolved dissonance that seemed to sum up the entire history of American song that preceded it ...and throw open the door to something vast.
That vast thing is what I've spent 20 years exploring, and writing a short article about it feels like trying to stuff a live pterodactyl into a bowling ball bag. There's an excellent biography by Jan Swafford, if you want to learn about Ives' unique life, several books by J Peter Burkholder that analyze his music with rare clarity and insight and a couple of volumes of Ives' own writing, in which he limns his own philosophy with high hilarity (not to mention numerous c.d.s of the music itself). All I'm aiming to tell you is how the perennially undervalued accomplishments of a Connecticut genius reached across this miserable century to transform the life of one obscure Long Island schmuck (So really, it's all about me. There's no reason why that should grab you, but hear me out; maybe some dispirited genius out there'll be inspired to continue creating work destined to transform the life of some other schmuck 100 years from now).
As soon as I began raiding Sam Goody for Ives l.p.s, I realized I was in a fix. Sure, the "Concord" sonata was his masterpiece - it said so right there in the liner notes - but all I heard was an unnavigable flood of jarring notes leavened with corny Americana, and so I forlornly filed it away. As taken as I was with this tale of a yankee iconoclast whose music was so innovative that he was forced to live as a businessman / secret composer... as inspiring as I found the tale of his discovery by young upstarts like Aaron Copland and Henry Cowell and his ultimate vindication in old age, the music seemed like, to put it bluntly, a fuckin' mess. So I took his "genius" on faith and enjoyed the few pieces I could comprehend - charming songs like "The Circus Band" and "Charlie Rutlage"; the static mysticism of "The Unanswered Question"; the prankish fun of his organ variations on "America". In fact, even those relatively sedate works perplexed my family. On account of the barrage of discordant orchestrations emanating from my room and the sudden blasts of familiar tunes gone as sour as last month's half-n-half, "sounds like Ives" became a catch-all witticism invoked any time a musician hit a wrong note or screwed up a rhythm. What the hell... the guy's music was kinda nuts.
As years rolled on, other musical infatuations kept bringing me back to Ives. The fury of punk inflamed my skronk gland, allowing enjoyment of sonic violence like the "Tone Roads". Victorian relics like "Two Little Flowers" seemed right at home between "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and Jerome Kern's elaborate Broadway Americana. Thelonious Monk gave me an appetite for acrid harmonies like those in "Three Places in New England". So, in increments, Ives' enormous achievement slowly seeped into this suburban skull. By my late 20s I was a songwriter of dubious ability and, with some friends, formed a band that aspired to a style somewhere between the Replacements and NRBQ. The Skels were actually decent, but failed miserably to get attention and took six years to realize it. In those chummy years of spiralling frustration and alcohol abuse, I'd force Ives on my pals. Between the Husker Du and Dylan albums they'd be subjected to the Gregg Smith singers' recording of "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven" accompanied by an inebriated rant on why it was "great rock-n-roll". Of course, it is...
An obstinate chord pounds like the "big bass drum" the Salvation Army founder is described beating in lyrics intoned basso-Tony-the-tiger-o. An eager choir keeps chanting "Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?" as Booth's parade procession of skeletal drug fiends, verminous boozers, thugs, lepers and other escapees from a Tom Waits operetta marches toward the front door of Jesus Christ hisself. The orchestra grows ever more frantic as the malodorous congress continues to gather, awaiting an audience with the Big Cheese. The whole cacaphonous frenzy slows down like an unplugged close-n-play when Jesus emerges to bless the motley throng. Here the music becomes tender, culminating in a queasy chord that is probably my favorite moment in music, and, as infirmities are removed, addictions lifted and despair turned to ecstatic faith, the tempo goes apeshit all over again. This time it surges upward with shouts of "Hurray!" and "Hallelujia!". Grace is manifested in a cathartic climax. Finally "Are you washed in the blood of the lamb" is sung with the naked simplicity of a Sunday-school tune - a moment of incandescent rapture stunning after all the earlier chaos -and the opening pianodrum dis-chord fades to silent peace.
As I awaited their reaction with wide eyes and the post-orgasmic grin of a true zealot , my tolerant companions would politely suggest that I go grab some beers and cue up the new Robyn Hitchcock record. Oh , well.
Anyway, in time the band disintegrated. Friendships wore out their mutual welcome. I eventually put the cork in the bottle for good and tried to suss out what to do next. By the time a ridiculously ambitious solo album was underway, depression had become a chronic affliction I visualized as a dark beast which, when it wasn't at my throat, waited nearby... salivating. I came to regard the long-gestating album as an elaborate suicide note, but managed to fight that adolescent silliness and finish the friggin' thing. After a few listeners heard it and reacted by suggesting I go grab some sodas and cue up the new Nick Cave c.d., I decided my album sucked, then curled up in a ball and whimpered. Fuck music. Fuck it all. Whaaaaah. That was when a friend mentioned an upcoming festival of "that Charles Ives shit you love so much." I hemmed and hawed, but rode with another friend up to Annandale, N.Y. for a weekend of Ives concerts. I wept during the first song recital, overcome by the nostalgic "Down East" to the point of childish sobbing. What gives?
The next day, pianist Alan Feinberg gave a performance of the "Concord" sonata that was ideal - so exciting, multifaceted and rich with melody that I finally understood what the word "masterpiece" means. All the note clusters, the schmaltzy measures, sudden displacements and abrasive stretches wove themselves into a coherent and expansive whole. Like any human life spent struggling with confounding contradiction... like a new continent covered with unpredictable terrain, it all wound up making vivid sense. It was my first crush on "The Things Our Fathers Loved", grown into mature love and consummated. Cigarette?
All this led to that evening's performance of the "Holidays" symphony. As the August sun settled into the lush hills along the Hudson, my friend and I sat in a vast tent with hundreds of others. The orchestra invited us to inhabit this music in a way no recording could ever have suggested. Ives' rich recreation of his New England boyhood reeled us in. It made us laugh out loud, sigh with longing and feel as if each one of us were a Connecticut kid in knickerbockers or pinafore, romping around through those long-ago seasons. It wasn't music to tap one's foot and hum along with, but to enter into and taste and breathe deep and fill the lungs with. Well into the 4th and final movement, "Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day", I began to experience a vague anxiety. The slow unfolding of this stern and deeply beautiful devotional music only increased the anxious energy building inside. I glanced around to notice a number of audience members swaying, smiling, rapt in assorted individual modes of absorption. My anxiety mounted, and there was a queer sense that something... gulp... was about to..."happen"... to me.
Homina Homina! Baffled and distracted, I decided - "Enough; surrender and let the music do whatever it means to do". In an instant the choir stood to sing the last magnificent measures of the work. My mind flooded with a radiance. Glory. Lifted from the folding chair - bodily, it seemed - up through air now filled with sparkling, evanescent notes of pure music. I felt my forehead kissed by the lips of God (whatever that is...that thing or idea I'd prayed to with little or no faith on countless desolate nights)... and then , with a palpable physical force, the beast of depression was yanked from my soul. (Look, I think it sounds like a bunch of new-age hooey, too. But blow me... it happened just like that.) Afterwards we walked, speechless and shaken, away from the concert site to a sleep of slendid dreams.
The next morning I could still barely stammer in amazement as we attended a final choral concert, and began the long drive home to Long Island. On the road, we passed the hours listening to the entire recorded legacy of my ill-fated band. It all sounded fine; pleasant memories returned and a modest pride and satisfaction replaced the bitterness I'd long held toward those songs. Although I still run the usual homo sapiens mood gamut from joy to sadness to "what's on C-Span?", the beast has never returned. As for the solo album I was so heartbroken over, I think it's... well... a masterpiece. Though my distaste... hell... incapacity for attempting to woo the favor of scumbag record-label types will ensure the permanent obscurity of this opus, I intend to painstakingly craft as many more of 'em as my piddling finances allow. They too will languish on my tape shelf, and that's okay. Making music has become a vital, sacramental act for me. If the stuff has any outside value, it'll keep.
I'm no genius, but this Genius taught me to trust that essential idiosyncratic impulse which originates in the infinite... that tiny fragment of God's voice we all possess a share of; which doesn't even exist until we're brave and honest enough to sound it and create our part of God. It's the reason America's music is the only demonstrable realization of the "American Democratic Ideal". The reason Ives' beloved vision of a "people's world nation" can only really exist in music, where bullshit, dogma, mockery and fraud are eventually exposed and discarded.
I don't believe, as Charles Ives did, that people are inherently "good", but I believe it's a possibility while I'm listening to his work.
I hope he convinces me, though, and I've no reason to doubt that he will. He's already spent 20 years whispering and hollering in my ear... convincing me to live and to sing whatever corny or thorny sounds my feeble inspirations dictate. He was a courageous, resolute artist who built his Palais Ideal out of garbage and raw gold, and it shames the architecturally perfect cathedrals other, more lionized composers have constructed, because while so many of theirs are empty monuments to vanity, his is filled with unbowed belief and the roaring Sandburg slang of real-live humanity. & with that I'll split and go compose a goddamn masterpiece. You too... get crackin'.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Love Monsters At War!
So, 30 years ago me and Brian killed some time making all sorts of stuff - he was laid up with a badly broken leg and I was already a determined idler. We made some amazing dioramas (destroyed over time, alas), an elaborate board game called FEZ, all sorts of video nonsense, etc. Among the surviving relics is a comic collage thing (a mashup, I guess) called LOVE MONSTERS AT WAR! There were others - one called JUNGLE CREATURES RULE and a reworked public service anti-smoking comic called WHERE THERE'S SMOKE... Here are selected panels from LMAW.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In my time covering booze for the NY Post, some arguably notable Single Malts have been overlooked due to space constraints (owing to the financial necessity of other schmucks writing about, say, Lady Gaga or season XXIV of Survivor or the new, incredible film version of "Space 1999" and getting all the do-re-mi I should, by all rights, be banking). Here are some observations on these neglected "expressions" (as the booze writers so irksomely put it) of the distiller's art.
Dunbanginerr (25 dollars for a half-n-half, plus room)
Nose: A vague scent of Coney Island Whitefish with a swirl of American Spirit smoke
Color: Reddish, slightly awkward, almost poignant
Taste: Loathsomely urgent with quick finish and pangs of bitter regret
Glencampbell (110 dollars for two with meal included and casino credits) Nose: Reconstructed with lingering traces of Peruvian flake
Color: Deceptively pale, ruddy over time
Taste: Eager and clean, developing complexity, ultimately familiar
Balgaggin (Steeper than expected)
Nose: Leather and PVC
Color: Deep black with silvery studs
Taste: Bloodclot rich with accumulating droolpool slosh and abrupt, safeword finish)
Bluntcudgel (Whatever you got in your fuckin' wallet)
Nose: Pug... impending "uh oh" sorta twitchy ozone crackle
Color: Shadowy, with glints of menace
Taste: Sneaks up on you, then: wham!
Doontknockit (A mere bag o' shells; why worry)
Nose: Fresh and guileless, unambiguous
Color: Blue skies, smiling at me
Taste: Very little to speak of
Lochdanloaded (2 dollar dreams sold out for a lousy dime)
Nose: Gunpowder and oil followed by overwhelming testosterone tang
Taste: Like the chewed-up end of a raw deal with an ironic finish
Knockanbackaphyoo (Vinny's got this round)
Taste: Quick heat with a beer chaser, rising nausea
Leapphroig (A nickel, a nickel, shiny and new)
Nose: Bazooka gum with curiously vivid moments of ecstatic joy, passing rapidly
Color: A rainbow array of happy possibilities, glimpsed backwards though a haze of crushing reality
Taste: Nostalgic with notes of hopeless yearning, long sigh of a finish
Saturday, May 09, 2009
RECLAMATION PROJECT PART TWO: WILLOUGHBY LYRICS
See entry below for explanation. (These lyrics and those in the previous entry are copyright Mike "Sport" Murphy)
IT'S DEFINITELY SUNDAY
Feel like little Moses in the rushes - got a runny nose and I wanna scream.
Feel like little Moses in the rushes - got a runny nose and I wanna scream.
Who's gonna find me, now that I'm all on my own?
Who's gonna find me?
I feel like little Joseph in the deep hole - someone beat me up in my dreams.
I feel like little Joseph in the deep hole - someone beat me up in my dreams.
Dreaming is a hard thing, when you gotta wake up this-a- way.
Dreaming is a hard thing when you're utterl'ly nowhere... particularly sleazy...
it's definitely Sunday.
Jesus musta been there at the party - someone saved the best stuff for last.
Jesus musta been there at the party - someone saved the best stuff for last.
Change it back to water! I've never been so thirsty in my life!
Change it back to water!
I'd do a damn Novena if this agita would leave me... it's definitely Sunday.
Red-eyed in the Red Roof, apres-jag.
Guess I'll stick this Gideon in my gigbag.
Where the hell did last night go? My new friends turned into dead soldiers.
Run to the Chic Sale to throw a map, and then it's check-out time.
I'm in the fiery furnace and I'm burning... they didn't send an angel and I'm toast.
I'm in the fiery furnace and I'm burning... they didn't send an angel and I'm toast. Somebody save me!
Please, somebody, pull me out of here!
Somebody save me!
I'll vow to celibacy - & never look at whiskey! It's definitely Sunday.
THE DILETTANTE BALL
It's a dilettante ball. It's a dilettante ball.
A few bucks from now I'll be rockin' cause I'm goin' down to the Freemasons' hall
to check out the dilettante ball.
They got an excellent band. A wailingly excellent band!
I took a piss with the bass player one time - he let me shake his hand.
I said: "You're in a excellent band."
Ooh - now they're doin' the heap!
Do you know how to do the heap?
What you do is you get in a big sweaty pile, and then you all fall asleep.
Yeah! Now you're doin' the heap!
I got on my class action suit & I ain't gonna settle for "Scram!"
Gonna hang the belle-o-the-ball up like a big pink pinata
and whack 'er until she gives with the goodies!
Tonight she'll know I'm a mighty, mighty man... d'moppit d'moppit!
This is all I desire. All I could ever desire.
All we need now is some crazy ex-boyfriend to light the whole joint on fire.
This is all I desire.
'Twas a dilettante ball. Big ol' dilettante ball.
When you find my remains, just say: "Yup, here's another one..."
another one who gave his all to the dilettante ball. vout.
THE NIGHT SURROUNDS
Kettles will be whistling to proclaim, with shrill insistence, an impending cup of Sanka.
Someone will be hearing (and, presumably, enjoying) something written by Paul Anka.
Dogs will be forsaken and taken to the pound
on the day they lay your body in the ground.
A rock band will be praying for that single A&R guy who appreciates true genius. Someone in love will croon to someone who's already leaving:
"I hope nothing comes between us."
Flags the wide world over will fly high atop the mast when that day comes to pass. Smirking here inside our nervous breakdown - shaking while the Lucky Planet sleeps.
The night retreats... I swear it does... it can't stay dark for keeps.
So let's go out and act as if it's Saturday - I cannot bear to wait 'til one arrives.
The night retreats, the night returns. The night surrounds our lives.
Arguments will rage, between committed individuals, about substantial issues.
In a thousand teenage bedrooms, human passion will erupt
into a thousand Kleenex tissues.
Bats will keep careening 'round their echoes in their caves
on the day they lower you into your grave.
Come on with me, we'll wander to a quiet place -
an antidote to all this empty noise we've thrown up in our frenzy to deny each other's voice.
And, just for fun, we'll sing a little symphony -
and, just for once, not care if it survives.
The night retreats, the night returns.
The night surrounds our lives.
CARRY ME TO THE PIANO
Now, I'm counting on your kindness... all my bones are made of glass.
Carry me to the piano, and I will try to play a song that makes the sorrow pass.
Now, I always have imagined that I'd soar before I die.
Carry me to the piano. I'll fill the air with silver stars, or shatter as I try.
Well Iím awkward and embarrassed.
Iím a giggling grotesque.
I feel an end beginning... tossing, turning in my thinning skin.
Carry me! Carry me!
Now I'm homesick for my silence this dismal, long-awaited day.
Carry me from this piano!
Away, away, away, away.
Away, away, away!
WHEN I RAIN
When I rain, I'm gonna rain on something weak...
some drab Missouri shack that's bound to leak.
I'm gonna ruin someone's day.
I'm gonna make somebody pray that I'll dry up & blow away and rain no more.
And when I rain, I'm gonna pour.
I've been gathering my anger all these years - saving all this thunder, all these tears.
And it's a petty little mess, and I'll be stooping to impress,
when I wring out all of my distress one afternoon -
when I rain.
& I'm raining soon.
Gonna make sure I don't fill no reservoir or chance to slake some thirsty garden flower. They won't remember what I did.
So, when I put in my sorry bid, I'm gonna find some little kid out selling lemonade -
and then I'll rain on his parade.
Here comes Ava, swimming slowly.
Tiny bonfires 'round her body.
And she's smiling something holy!
Smiling at me... I say "Ave".
I move through a pinched & stricken world.
Oh! But your beauty, girl!
If I never find another moment's peace, at least I'll have seen Heaven.
There are cold spots in the bright lake where there were murders on early Sundays.
Ava shivers... keeps on swimming toward the shoreline.
Oh! The water is serene... it must remember everything.
And the water, it shines with a rapture now, 'cause it's holding beautiful Ava.
Up the bank strides perfect Ava... and, for a moment, everything matters.
It's her soft lips, and her heartbeat, and the sundown.
Bring the sundown!
Bring the Sun down.
THE MOON STARES DOWN
He thinks he's smelling violets - he thinks he's hearing chimes.
She moves in phosphorescent trails, and up them trails he climbs.
The headstones murmur sonnets and the shadows say "amen"...
friends old and wise who know that nights like this won't come again.
The moon stares down on them.
All his stupid "spooky" jokes are silenced by her smile.
The dreaded touch of wonder, and they stand like that a while.
The moon stares down!
The moon bears down!
The moon wears
down their... ( interlude-pan skyward)
...6 feet above some sainted stranger mouldering in the ground -
a feast of an epiphany, and paradise is found.
SING ME TO SLEEP
Green with age and envy, here we are at last.
Nothing to distract us from the ever-changing past.
I'll sing you My True Story... it's bound to make you weep.
I'll sing what I remember, then you must sing me to sleep.
Lean low over me, beautiful angel. All of your tears fall warm upon my cheek.
Cry, cry, cry our blues away, away.
Angel, come sing me to sleep.
All my little life I yearned for something "greater"... even if it meant a greater kind of grief.
I said it and I meant it... I'm tired but contented.
Angel! Hurry! Sing me to sleep!
Pull away these shadows so that I can watch your face shine its fullest light throughout this sick and secret place.
Raise your golden voice again and I'm a happy man.
Sometimes the words are hard to catch, but sing.
go 'bout your bizness
Well, the rain is come and the night ain't young
and the day's long gone with the carnival
where the laughin' and the singin' and the noise went on -
where the feastin' and the fightin' was.
And your old crowd's crowdin' the theatre now and they're all shoutin' "fire" in unison.
Christ! How they amuse themselves! They're never gonna miss you.
Go 'bout your bizness,
go on home... there's nothin' here to see no more.
Look out! There's bandits in them there blinds
and they're lads unmoved by history... and they're louts, unamused by mythology.
I can hear the cops already:
"Go 'bout your bizness! Go on home! There's nothin' here to see no more!"
Don't mind what anybody's saying. The dogs are out here playing,
with God and Stanshall smiling down.
Don't mind those tombs you've half-erected from stacks of the collected works of Everyone-but-you.
Someday, our eyes will see the glory that we've only glimpsed, limping through this purgatory.
Hold on tight to these romances
days of Kerry dances; skies of Parrish blue.
Round here, no one understands us ...but look at what they're like!
Hallelujia! Strike the band up!
We'll grow old as two young lovers - here to see each other safely to our home.
A WRETCH LIKE ME
Smug as any specialist, blithely cruel as any child.
Vain as any atheist devout in all his high denials.
Thank you for the Four Seasons, God. Thank you for
the Beach Boys too.Thank you for my life, dear God
...and on a final note:
RECLAMATION PROJECT PART ONE: MAGIC BEANS LYRICS
I used to have a website, administered by a young fellow named Jared thru his aol account. It covered the Willoughby / Magic Beans era of somewhat high hopes for my, uh, career in music. It was abandoned along with that career, but sat there for years. Now that the aol homepages have been deep-sixed, all the content is perdu. So I used the "wayback machine" to try and retrieve some of it. Most of it's gone and no loss, but I did find the lyrics to both of those albums as well as an essay on Charles Ives. So I'll post them here.
TREAT ME LIKE AN ARTIST!
Treat me like an artist! Bend me over something! Put it to me bluntly!
I'm so glad you're handling me! I ain't misanthropic, but I must be misan-something!
Treat me like an artist! I know that I deserve it!
See, the doctor slapped my ass and said "MacBeth", and I've been skittish ever since; awaiting thy disdain with bated breath! Born to wince.
I'm way down... way, way down. Treat me like an artist.
All I am's a failure, but you can make it better: treat me like an artist! An artist got to suffer.
Treat me like an artist! Money is no object! Why dontcha wear that Sammy Glick suit... it's better when you do that.
I hate it when the clock sez "time to quit", until you give me your card.
I take it home and stare at it... real hard. I'm way down... (etc)
There must've been a trauma, something in me I'm ascared-a, 'cause I can't get off unless you tell me where to when you treat me like an artist. Artist. ARTIST!
BLACK RIVER FALLS.
The broken boughs float down the stream.
We're in a kind of nowhere now... some kind of in-between.
The great commotion that left this calm has come and snapped some of the tension I've been strung out on.
Severe and still. I'm a crocodile.
Oh river, oh river, can't you move more slow, river? For a little while...
The lines are down. A welcome spell.
Shook loose from all the shapes we take for those who know us well.
I figure you for 45. There's shadows 'round your small talk; that just proves you've been alive.
Such lonesome light... ah, such a smile!
Oh river, oh river, can't you move more slow, river, for a little while?
It's getting late, but that's okay. My hurricane-eye neighbor, thanks for leading me away, with as strong a touch as I could take, this strange and temporary day
HOME IS FAR AWAY.
Brooklyn Bridge is burning down behind me, the flames conniving with the harbor winds. There's no place too safe for fear to find me... maybe that's where bravery begins.
Sad remembered moments come a-nagging. The tiny kind that rub you raw with shame. No-one ever sees the load you're dragging, just the fishhooks tangled in your name.
Home is far away... my home is far away. But I can live with anything if I know that I'll make it there someday.
What pretty nonsense sister used to sing me! I can still hear her Reuben-and-Rachel-ing in my mind. Sister, sister, what a fine world this would be if pretty nonsense was the only kind. Home is far away...
I had a dream the other night, when everything was still. I thought I saw Susannah comin' down the hill. The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, the teardrop in her eye. Sez I, "I'm coming from the South... Susannah don't you cry!"
Oh! Susannah! Don't you cry for me!
I can live with anything.
BY THE LIGHT.
There ain't no city, just a haunted fog-drift outside these kind old walls.
The old folks are howling like cats on a fence - the Auld Lang Syne - a mile down the hall.
Here we are. Here we are: blankets and pillows and hours and hours. Turn the Blessed Virgin, so there won't be any eyes watching us.
Beautiful cousin, while I feel your heartbeat I don't believe the dark.
But here comes the morning; I hear the cops chasing glue-boys off the benches by the park.
Off we go. Off we go: a New Year, then others... and funerals... and lovers...
oh, Daphne, nothing ever quite works out.
It ain't on the lines or between the lines... it ain't on the page at all... It just ain't there.
All the scribbles wriggle off the margin and drift away like motes across the air.
And I'm bound, and I been so long. And I'm bound somewhere I ain't always wrong. And I'm bound. Been all my days. I been bound down, waiting to get raised.
You see them paper leaves Scotch-taped up upon the old school's tall old window panes? Well, under all the flop sweat, debts and desperate bets, it's a wonder what remains.
And I'm bound, and I 'm standing still, and it's no way to get there, but I will. And I'm bound, and I'm out the door. There's a whole world I'm dying to ignore.
Here it comes again... here it comes again... I know the drill. I 've heard the speech. But I'm not the type you'll ever reach. Just another giant on the beach.
Yodel-ay-hee-hoo! Ted Bessell. Ted Bessell. Yodel-ay- heee!
NOTHING IN WONDERING.
Everything's ready to give - this life we've been trying to live - the rain doesn't fall, it just weighs down the sky. Nothing in wondering why.
Your smile is blessed to see, but I think it's wasted on me. It ain't getting through, it's just making me blue. Nothing in wondering why.
Darling, darling, sorry things have turned out this way.
Darling, darling, maybe everything'll be okay, maybe everything'll be okay, maybe, maybe, everything will be. Okay?
I tried to be something to you. Whatever it was, it was true.
The truth is, we mean well, but we're not that strong.
We're making it up as we go, right or wrong.
Hooray for the truth, but sometimes I just long for the lie. Nothing in wondering why.
LESLIE'S COMING OVER.
Need a splash of daylight on these silent-movie-eyes.
Find that affa koimen 'fore it gets all fossilized.
Les is more than patient, grinning up the inspiration! Salubrious as Gingko Biloba!
Recall how the Lord told Laz'rus: "Dead man,get off that mattress! Fold it back into a sofa! Leslie's coming over!"
Leslie is a silverjet emitting showers of sparks.
Leslie is a rave review with no smart-ass remarks.
Willoughby birds singing in the trees. You wait up nights for days like these, and I just wanna bossa-nova!
Leslie's coming over! Leslie's coming over...
The too-late blues are on again. A trial by fire extinguisher.
A lot has come and gone again, and days are all a blur.
So come on, let's ride upside the river, get some fresh air in our lives.
Maybe "something" will come deliver, as we are going to St Ives.
And tell that august orchestra: play Winter off and out of town!
'Til every note's a nebula, and God is all around.
And we'll let our lonesome sorrows go and float up through the skies, for a moment of Thanksgiving above the mountains at St Ives.
Bring the old to ring the new, along the reeling ribbon home.
Bring promises and prayers to move us through sweet all-unknown.
Yeah, and you're my friend, but that doesn't say it... can't be verbalized.
It's music, so let's just play it.
A smile to go the long road rolling home from old St Ives.
Will you whisper, if you can, some way to say you hear me?
A breeze... a beam of light or something... telling me that you're near me.
Remember when we made that bet to dance wherever we would go?
We kept it up 2 days and nights. 2 days and 2 nights so long, long ago.
Go find your demon, and ask why we had to outlive you.
I'll find my own and I'll beg it to shut up and let me forgive you.
Once I knew there was a Heaven; Sometimes I still hope so.
I think about us all together, just like we were fado, fado.
I know why I haven't joined you. It ain't some "sense of duty" ...I just want to stay and watch the years perfect her beauty.
Wish that you were around to meet her; you'd have hit it off, I know.
She's helping me to find the dreams you taught me to dream so long, long ago.
THE SMALL PLANETS.
All right, I'll split... I'm gittin' out of here.
Sorry I wasted my time on your punk planet.
What a dump.
What a weak-ass atmosphere... nix on this nickel-and-dime spaldeen o' granite.
I can walk into any book. Guess that's what I'll do. Come on! Come on!
Away out here, they got no names: each man's an asteroid, dodging the comets alone, and further out there. Further. Out there.
Go on and mingle among 'em a little bit, go on, child.
What's that quizzical sniffle they greet you with? What's that, child?
That's just the way they know their own... it's a very special smell.
When you catch a whiff of it, run like hell.
A group's a gang's a mob's an army: itching to deploy.
"Noli Me Tangere." You tell 'em,
There's a whole buncha nothing a-crawling through the world, child.
When it eyeballs on Something, it wants to make it die.
One's a soul, and two's a love song. Yonder come a hoi polloi...
Wish 'em all out into the cornfield, Cactus Boy. Everybody!
PULLING OUT OF RACHEL.
Already I'm remembering the light in here, her thighs, these sheets... already they're among the unforgettable defeats.
I'm done with all endurance for this drip-drip-dripping daily drain; all the sickly seconds tick-tick-ticking like Zapruder frames.
Yeah, you try the things you try. We tried "a couple" - Christ knows why. 'Cause it's the same Hell, different cell. I'm pulling out of Rachel for the last time.
The way I feel right now, I believe this hatred's gonna up and go.
Away somewhere, just like our tiny piece of love did, long ago.
And this holy ghost of our first urge is just a little binge before the purge, and it's a deep sigh. Ai yi yi.
Goodbye... I'm pulling out of Rachel for the last time.
Past the last sweet shudder, humid beings hanging out to dry.
The Marlboro lights, the straggler moonbeams wander from our eyes.
Commence the screw-you-over-ture. The rest is silence, that's for sure, and it's no tears. Come on, years! Three cheers: I'm pulling out of Rachel for the last time.
Maybe I'm a holy fool? I figure I'm the ordinary kind.
With a grudge against the limits of my ordinary mind... poor slob.
And it's ripe for ridicule, here among these gobshites and sleeveens,
here where everything's just what it is, and nothing's what it means.
More God. More God. More God. More God. Cause you're all that I want anymore.
I'll say a prayer - it couldn't hurt - a prayer that time is kinder than it seems;
that something brighter shines behind all our unlucky dreams.
More God. More God. More God. More God. And you're all that I want anymore.
THE WEEPING ICON.
Getcher slickest Sunday duds on - let's go see the weeping icon!
Been held over at St John's: the one and only weeping icon!
It ain't some weird tortilla... it ain't some ratty shroud.
Our own parish has the icon! Jesus Christ, I'm proud!
You'd have to be a fuckin' moron not to love the weeping icon.
Hold it while I get my Nikon: say "cheese" to the weeping icon!
Honk if you're consumed with reverence, and don't let no-one take my place in line. Wouldja look at that there icon... man, oh man, it's fine!
(babada arrangement of "Sheep May Safely Graze" by J.S. Bach)
Someone musta peeled an onion! Only kiddin'... 'scuse me, icon.
More tears than a telethon... well, that's why it's called the "weeping" icon!
It useta be just some stoopid picture, but now it's on the news!
God gave us this weeping icon. That'll show them Jews!
MAYBE, MAYBE NOT.
What's come of all of the urgent decisions? Looks like the whole range from "oh well" to "so what."
Some kinda trade for your ramshackle visions... maybe you remember those ones, maybe not.
Glad that we had all that altar-boy clowning, and blowing "money-stealers" 'cross the vacant lot. 'Cause now your laugh's the last bubble up from a drowning.
Maybe I'm all wrong about it, maybe not.
I'll leave this right here, and I hope you find it. It ain't all you want, but it's what I've got.
I made it with my own hands and I signed it. Maybe that means something to you. Maybe?
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO THINK? (ultra-secret mega-bonus track.)
The verdict's been reversed on Norman Rockwell's work: seems he was an artist, not a sentimental jerk. I just got used to sneering, now I gotta learn to wink. God damn it, what amI supposed to think?
See the adscape shining! Hear the chirp of mobile phones! I feel so shut-incidal, just like Bee Gees' MisterJones. I try to read the papers, but they keep using cheaper ink, and when I'm done my hands are filthy! What am I... supposed to think?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Didn't want to permanently leave off on a popvaginal note like that; it's just how that particular ball bounced. Exhuming, culling, discarding, confronting, enshrining and puzzling over my dead family's flotsam, jetsam and then-some proved to be a mighty tough endeavor, and even Pointer Pussy failed to distract any longer.
After many overnights alone at 275, wading through dust and sorrow, I realized how much of my loved ones' lives were needlessly consumed by worries and hopes that came to nil and worse. If anything positive is to be made of this, maybe it's what I've landed on: it's all mostly bullshit. That can be monstrously oppressive or liberating; make the choice or else accept what's chosen for you.
I concentrate on my wife and kids. I strive to live a bit healthier for their sake and devote my personal attentions to idle amusement for my sake. I dunno when my delight in making things with paint, magnetic tape, scissors and glue, film and words turned from private tinkering to a daunting chore, toxically connected to the ignes fatui of "career potential," self-image (as validated/squashed by the received or anticipated opinions of others) or source-freezing aesthetic judgements, but finally... fuck that noise.
There are a lot of things that lead straight and direct to my brother's corpse - like those bullet trajectory strands they show on those forensics shows - and I want none of it. I could explain what I mean by this, but not now anyway. Along with a surprisingly debilatating sleep disorder, this perspective shut down my interest in communicating via this blog. I'm here today, though, and this is, perhaps, part of a rehabilitation.
The child who drew and drew, made tapes, shared dirty jokes in the backyard tent, obsessed over ZAP, Duchamp, Berrie Jigglers and the Bonzo Dog Band is father to the man. That kid got up from the desk whenever school got too tedious to bear and walked the fuck out. The costs - derision from some of the other kids, frustration on the part of my folks, laughably out-of-proportion retaliation from authority and the strange limbo of isolation - seldom outweighed the delight of moving through time on my own broken clock, letting imagination slither where it wished, watching the world from my particular vantage in the weeds of the vacant lot ...or through my bedroom window in the wee hours of magic...or through the darting phosphenes in my skull.
I am a middle aged man now, putting it optimistically, and I give up trying to figure out why exactly I'm supposed to be any different than I was then. There is a death's head before me that only fades when I see Lily and Miles dancing or when I laugh with Shelley, or when Garland honors me with a collaborative request, or when Thingumajigsaw and Arlt sing their songs, or when I sit in the School Yard Gents with Spero, O'Connor et al raising middle aged hell, or when I join Alex, Dan and Rob at ol' 275, screaming wretched Bon Jovi lyrics over Rock Band (you heard me right) and a few Tom Collinses. Dayenu.
Monday, November 10, 2008
NO... this was a slo-mo unveiling of real live popstar cho-cha, against suspiciously appropriate lyrics. I mean someone had to know this went out, but damned if it ever got mentioned.
I saw it on MTV one afternoon and spit coffee through my nose. Got wood, too. Told everyone. Nobody believed me. I then recorded hours of MTV content, later fast-forwarding in search o' the snatch. Nada. The video - a big hit at the time, mind you - had vanished. Eventually it reappeared, and lo: no punani. Branded a liar and a cad, I fell apart. A pariah. A broken man. Someone had indeed noticed it, and nothing was ever said. The scissors snipped; history was rewritten.
Years anon, wandering through the internets for some reference... screen capture... ANYTHING that would prove my claim, I still "came up dry" (unlike that succulent Pointer) Every retelling of the tale met with little more than scorn.
I thought I was the only asshole who ever noticed this (well, obviously not, but I mean, outside of the record label, etc).
Mind you, nowadays young female celebrities routinely flash box. Not so in the early 80s... and never, ever on basic cable. So I finally found it on the blessed resource called YouTube. Imagine my glee. A look through the comments confirms that others have noticed the flash. Tears fill my eyes... I'm... I'm not alone after all.
So I captured and edited the pertinent sequence from the pre-and-post-edit versions. Tried to post it here, but the original version will not "show." I suspect censorship. Fascist fuckers.
Anyway, I can easily imagine some unfortunate Google search leading some douchebag to my blog, and then there goes the whole thing... all my archives gone on account of some classic semi/secret yoni footage. No way, jack.
We are, then, reduced to using links. Check right before the chorus, about a minute in: HERE .
And to see the edited version, you can look at THIS . I hope the Youtube posting of the original clip lasts, otherwise, come over sometime and I'll show you.
Thank you for sharing my wonder and delight. My moment of vidvindication as well. I think this breakthrough might well result in the arrival of the change our nation so desperately needs.