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Thursday, March 13, 2003
This one's from a Brit zine called DO SOMETHING PRETTY. What is it with the English and me lately? All those rebel songs of yore would have me Oirish ass hating the lot (never did, honest) but there is evidently some recent karmic konnect wiv 'em - well apart from Tony Blair's and the English antiwar crowd's respective relation to their counterparts here - and I can only say I'm dead chuffed. Milo, let's GO, brother! I'm ready. Meanwhile...
Let's read what Chris Parkin thinks. A stranger to me, Parkin sees what few see, and hears with ears so finely attuned it staggers the imagination. Read and learn, Real Frantic Ones, how one correspondent siezes the very essence of my hopes and efforts and shares that acuity in a short piece of astounding breadth and depth. I picture Parkin bearing a tongue of flame o'er his/her head like the sainted martyrs of legend, guilelessly bearing musical enlightenment for those yearning to bask in its benevolent glow. Are you ready? Are you willing to accept the challenge represented by Parkin's eloquence? Let us - hand in hand - follow Parkin to a better future: one full of kind wisdom, zesty down-home flavor and most excellent tunage. I attribute apostrophic / grammaticational oversights and such to a fervor that seems to have gripped the reviewer's typing fingers when confronted with the majesty of Uncle.
SPORT MURPHY – UNCLE
When Mike ‘Sport’ Murphy was a small child, his sister had a son and the two were raised as brothers, remaining close throughout their lives until Peter was killed in the line of duty as an NYC fire-fighter, saving lives at the World Trade Centre. Uncle is an attempt to express his anger, sadness and longing for the nephew so tragically snatched away from him. His feelings and sentiments are expressed vividly through gentle, minimalist folk songs that touch the soul and examine the realisation of life’s fragility.
The warmth of the album is surprising, considering the albums inspiration and subject matter, whilst introducing any humour at all is heroic. Opening with the tragic No Fair is a clear indication of the pain and suffering the death of loved ones causes, the search for realisation and the loss of faith. Dealing with Mike’s visits to their old neighbourhood the song takes him back to a childlike world, crying:
that place where hope survives behind the grief / where souls abide in sweet belief / that you’ll be there – your not there / oh god it isn’t fair, no fair.
The sweetly played flutes, piano and gently strummed guitar flow slowly through much of the album with old recorded snippets of Mike and his late nephew messing around as kids. They’re heard singing and taking the piss, putting the record into context – attempting to show us what has been lost. The Americana-esque The Lost Children is heart breaking in its hopefulness, while the stunning cover of Charles Tindley’s gospel tinged What are they doing in heaven declares that there is hope for human kind, even in death.
Every song is beautiful enough, but when partnered with the reason it exists, it shakes the heart to the very core and I could go on all day analysing and examining every song on this record. Like the attack on Peter’s in laws and their wallowing in media celebrity, the thank yous to friends who have helped the family and himself. But it’s the final song The Clang of the Yankee Reaper that best sums up the wonder, sadness and understated beauty of Uncle. Van Dyke's slowly chiming music provides the background to Mike’s little nephew laughing, and in its short burst there lies hope for us all – we all die but the joy we give to others, and the peace we bring, lives on.
Some surefire titles (with subtitles... essential) to pitch at publishers. Next stop: Borders' new release table.
CORDUROY! - How a ribbed fabric changed the course of history
SNIFFLING: HEARTACHES AND HEAD COLDS - What our runny noses can tell us about where we've been and how we got here
HOLDING IT TOGETHER - Paper clips and the march toward organizational thinking in society
THE BIOGRAPHY OF GUM - A journey through what we chewed, why we chew, and the impact of recreational chewing on life as we know it
LINT: A TIMELINE - How fluff has affected the progress of Man
"WELL, I GUESS SO..." - Evasiveness in public and private: an informal meander through eons of "er..."
EINSTEIN, OSMOND AND UMBRELLAS - The story of our love affair with not getting rained on
"SLOWLY I TURNED..." The saga of vaudeville referencing and its influence on contemporary discourse
THE SECRET LIFE OF PRANCE - A survey of frolicking through the ages
NO TICKEE NO WASHEE - Frustration, ethnic stereotypes and laundry: a meta-memoir of civilization as seen from the other side of the counter
THE REMARKABLE RHOMBUS - The lighter side of a geometric concept that altered our perception of reality
HE NEVER KNEW WHAT HIT HIM - 2000 years of "sneakin' up on a guy" and how it defined us as a people
NUMBER TWO - The shocking, exciting and hilarious adventures of "that second digit" in myth, math and euphemism, and why we can't live without it
AXOLOTYL - The drama, romance and evolution of potrzebie
I'm being asked to mention someone with an "S" sound... maybe a "sss" or a "sh" in either the first or last name. Steven? Sonia? Schultzie? Stymie? Shmuel? Perhaps a Smith or a Steinberg or a Shaw?
OK... now has this person passed over? Right, OK, that's what I'm getting. Otherwise they'd just call you on your cell phone instead of being channelled through me, they are saying. They are sarcastic, eh? At least in this case, right. So we are on the right track here. Someone important to you has passed over. I'm being asked... this is strange... they need you to acknowledge something about a kind of in-joke or private reference... something to do with a purse or a shopping bag or a rain barrel or a grain silo or an international treaty... I'm getting "containment" ...does that mean anything? It will later. There's an accent. This person had certain verbal traits characteristic of the area in which he or she lived, or wished to live. Maybe this was a put-on or an affectation and you used to think "oh, come off it, you fucking poseur" ...all right, no, that was not the case... that was only a joke I'm being asked to apologize for.
Now this person is related to you, right? Not necessarily a blood relative, or an in-law even, but a "relation" somehow. Close friendship or similar height or same city of origin. Does that mean anything to you? Yes, I'm getting that. He or she is telling me there's some kind of a noise connecting you with him or her... is it a "he" by the way? I see... could be either... yes that's what I'm getting too. Yes. Anyway, there's a noise I'm supposed to mention: a "bang" or a "baaaaa" or a "burble" or a "bzzzzzz" or something. Are you understanding me? Sometimes they play around with phonics... the B sound may be actually referring to bananas or Bing Crosby or Barbados or OK... yes... breasts. That's what I'm being asked to focus on.
Is there some connection you feel to breasts? I'm getting a breast recognition. A mother's breast perhaps... a huge whopping pair of June Wilkinson-esque wonder-jugs? ...maybe a pert pair of "foreign movie" tits... pendulous goddess teats, rough-hewn into ancient stone... nipple-less Barbie Doll mounds o' peril... Nell Carter bubblin' brown boulders or Mary-Kate and Ashley training mamms? Maybe a metaphorical breast: the glass tit of the TV? A turkey breast sandwich? Have you ever walked 2 or 3 abreast? There's some connection you need to recall regarding breasts.
You've been worrying about something lately, they're telling me. A problem or a conundrum or bafflement or consternational whatchamawhoozit or enpuzzling confusement... a tough nut to crack or a horse of a different color or a real head-scratcher? It's something on the mind of you or someone close to both or either of you. I'm being told that you should relax and stop worrying about this thing. You tend to do that, they're saying... you worry or fixate or ponder about things, people, issues, places, species, integers, hues, theme songs or "where the fuck did I put my keys/glasses/television remote." Correct? Sometimes, right. I'm getting a gentle back pat of reassurance there.
Now someone else you know has passed over as well, right? They are together. In life they were either very close or very far but there is some extreme of physical distance or, metaphorically, intimacy. They were either close or far from each other or each (or one of the two) was this way to you, either on this plane or, somehow, on the other side, geographically and literally or in a sense of empathy or sympatico. Is that making sense to you? OK, it will eventually. You should concentrate on a ticket or pamphlet in this connection. Maybe a flyer or a circular. A saw... an old saw... a bit of homely wisdom or a homely widow... a homing pigeon... Walter Pigeon. A person with an animal name: Marlon Brando or Christopher Wren or maybe flying buttresses or Pat Buttram or a plate of buckwheat flapjacks. Does that sound yummy? Yes, I'm getting that too. Mmmm. With lotsa syrup. Blueberry. Waiter! No... wait...
I'm being asked to acknowledge the color blue here. You have a blue garment you used to wear? Some kind of trouser or jean or pant? Perhaps a top, shirt, blouse, pullover, cardigan, windbreaker or scarf or beanie? You wore this... I'm getting a strong affirmation... and laughter. Something amusing that you two shared while you were wearing this garment or item of apparel... or maybe it is simply that you wore some sort of clothing to see or attend something or other that amused you or at least intended to amuse you. Blue Man Group? Some comic who worked "blue?" Buddy Hackett or Redd Foxx? Maybe it's just that this comic or entertainer/entertainers BLEW?
Gallagher? Franklin Ajaye? Elton John? Pamela Anderson? Yes...
I'm getting something about "sucking..."
Sunday, March 09, 2003
In the course of my six half-hours of egocentricity I shall (among other deeds) discuss the difference between fact and truth, I shall describe professor Royce and the necktie crisis, I shall name professor Charles Eliot Norton's coachman, and I shall define sleep. If you ask "but why include trivialities?" my answer will be: what are they?
(e e cummings - "Six Non-Lectures")
That there's about as nice a summation of my aesthetic as I can find.
Friends, If you haven't been keeping up with Otis Fodder's "365 days" project, I don't know what I'm gonna do with you. Go here and look at his "desert island discs" selections:
...and while there, click on the eyeball which will take you to an index where the link to "365 Days" can be found.
I have nothing else right now. If anything, I have email to catch up on.