Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
at 6:10am dst on august 29th 2005 hurricane katrina made landfall at buras la. according to the records, katrina was a category 3 storm(down from it's astonishing cat 5 just a few hours before). the storm angled up towards the city of new orleans but at the last second shifted east & spared the city a direct hit. that doesn't mean things weren't absolutely deadly & surreal in the city. as douglas brinkley, professor at tulane, wrote in his chronicle of the diaster, the great deluge: hurricane katrina, new orleans & the mississippi gulf coast:
"It was a ripley's believe it or not moment. Looking out the window of a 15th floor condo at One River Place on new orleans' east bank on august 29th, I witnessed a stunning aberration. just below me, the white capped Mississippi river was roaring backwards---northward---due to hurricane katrina's wrath. Earlier that morning I left my uptown home and evacuated vertically to this supposed safe haven. Now, as I gazed at the churning river my miscalculation was evident. A few minutes later I took my wife and two young children to the crowded lobby, where a sense of panic ensued. A lone generator flickered on and off where children huddled around a small refrigerator where baby bottles were stored. Storm phobic dogs paced back and forth, their hind legs quaking. Outside you saw everything from trembling street signs to lost umbrellas flying by as the piercing rain whipped needles and knives. You could hear glass shattering all around and see the nearby Hilton parking garage lose its supposedly hurricane proof roof."
less than 60 hours before that scene, i was sitting in molly's on the market, my favorite bar in new orleans(along w/coop's place, right next store)talking w/jim monahan's daughter about the impending storm. she had no intention of leaving & most of what i heard from locals that night & even the next day before i ran like a scalded dog was about 1965 hurricane betsy. the city had been by-passed several times since tho there had been evacuations w/juan, andrew, & georges. there had been flooding in the lower 9th ward before w/betsy & flossie. everyone i talked to seemed to think the city would be fine. i'd lived on the gulf coast for 40 years. i was a crazy little weird kid who avidly followed every hurricane from when i was 6yo till now. i'd seen some humdingers, like camille. i'd lived through several close calls in p'cola tho that city while i lived there hadn't suffered a direct hit in over 70 years. it was hit directly twice from opposite directions the summer after bobo died(the same year i'd left florida for good). it got hit twice more, once very badly just before i went home for mother's funeral by hurricane ivan.
still, this storm worried me. when i got up early on saturday, a scorchingly hot late summer day which is pretty standard for the city, i checked the weather channel. the storm seemed dead determined to hit the city. i had planned to spend the entire weekend there in new orleans & hit some outlying spots(like the maple leaf bar & another favorite, the f&m patio bar). i hadn't been to either in years. it wasn't looking like things were going to go my way.
i went out for breakfast(cafe du monde)& beers(molly's). it was business as usual at every place i went that morning in the french quarter. i stopped into coop's to see my favorite bartender of all time, faye, & she was unconcerned. i resolved to check w/the weather channel &, if things looked better, to stay. they didn't look better. it looked worse. i had to get out & i knew it. i didn't understand why others weren't sharing my growing sense of dread.
i checked out of the lamothe house & headed west on hwy 10 sometime in the early afternoon on saturday. it took me hours to get over to beaux bridge where i stopped to eat at mulate's. from there i connected w/hwy 49 in lafayette. this trip took over 8 hours. it would usually take 2 or so. the highways were backed up w/folks evacuating as early as saturday. i kept driving until i made dallas late saturday night(the highways had cleared by then). i woke up the next day & drove from dallas to santa fe. i'd kept up enough to know that the storm had missed the city. i thought, along w/everyone else, that the city had been spared. in fact, nature had spared the city. the ensuing tragedy was all of a man-made, government sponsored kind. it proved more lethal than nature. by the time i got in touch w/ann on monday from santa fe, the levees had breached & the city was underwater. i had no idea. it was the first thing she said when i got her on the phone. i couldn't believe it. i recalled first hearing about 9/11 & the twin towers(i'd just begun a four month silent retreat)& how i couldn't understand how the damned things collapsed. i kept repeating to myself "that's not possible, how could they just fall" while trying to picture it in my mind. w/o access to a television, it was unimaginable.
what became obvious over the next couple of days was the naked criminality of the bush administration. i sat there in santa fe, one of my favorite american cities, watching my favorite american city suffer in ways that seemed unimaginable in the new millenium but were all too clearly visible thanks to the unprecedented news coverage. i didn't have to try & picture anything. since i'd spent so many summer days in new orleans i didn't have to imagine what the heat was like for those exposed folks. it's not like the government hasn't caused disasters before & failed to respond in meaningful ways but this became such an infuriating drama of incompetence & blame & ignorance that it's not hard to understand now how it signaled the beginning of the end for the bush presidency.
my friends mark & lucy stayed during the storm. they said it was a little scary as the storm passed but things weren't too bad. it was the day after, when mark noticed water up to rampart st & then went down to the local french quarter police station for news. when he saw that the police were listening to the same news source as he was, he decided it was time to hit the road. things were beginning to feel a little weird. when they returned two weeks later, what they remembered as their most vivid memory was the stench that greeted them way before they even got to the city limits even w/the windows of their car closed. initially, they couldn't imagine what the source of the stench was. they found out real quick once they made it into the city. i've been back to the city twice since the storm. that specific stench that mark & lucy experienced is long gone but it's not stretching things too much to say a sense of it still lingers in that great beautiful american city.
i will also say that w/the help of lots of volunteer groups from around the country & their own irrepressible spirits, the folks of new orleans are alive & well & should be proud of themselves. i can't say the same for the government.
"Listen to Hawkins beautiful solo: primarily developed from melodic ideas, with very little exploration of harmony. Also, dominated by sixteenth notes (which, at a faster tempo, would be dotted eighth/sixteenth combos). Swing.
Listen to Bird: primarily harmonic exploration, using extended chords and chromaticism. 16th note melodic ideas punctuated by 32nd-note runs, skating over the groove instead of inside of it. Mostly based on the underlying chord structure with only a cursory nod to melody, yet still bluesy as all hell. Bop.
No value judgment here, but if you listen to these two solos enough, you'll easily hear the difference between pre-bop and what Louis Armstrong called "Chinese Music."
This is one of two surviving sound films of Charlie Parker playing (and certainly the longest; the other is only 52 seconds long). Until recently, this film was a rumor, and only still photos of it existed." ken james
a history lesson & a music lesson combined.
Friday, August 28, 2009
"A protégé and close friend of Mark Tobey, Graves grew up in the Northwest and for many years made his home on an island in Puget Sound. Although he never received any formal artistic training (he didn’t complete high school until age twenty-two), in 1932 he encountered Guy Anderson, a highly trained artist with whom he shared a studio. During the late 1930s Graves worked intermittently for the Federal Art Project and met Tobey, who became a friend and mentor and, along with experimental composer John Cage, helped nurture Graves’s early interest in Oriental philosophy and religion. Protective of his solitude, Graves has lived mostly in remote rural areas, and uses the elements of nature as his subjects. Animals abound in his paintings and birds appear with special frequency, but towards a metaphorical rather than descriptive end. Shunning contact with contemporary industrial life, Graves in the 1960s painted abstractions based on the noises of the machine age with a degree of understanding possible only to one who cherishes quiet." - Virginia M. Mecklenburg. Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987).
after klee & chagall, mark tobey's work really captured my imagination in my teens. his work was done on a very small scale, the pictures sometimes only a few inches in height & width. they were intricate but had the primitive aspect of klee & the colors of chagall. i was enthralled by his work & bought a book of it which i had for years. i discovered graves through his connection w/tobey. i think the influence of the older artist is evident but graves is definitely working another vein of creativity. he ended up abandoning the eastern influence on his art & returning to sculpture in his later years.
“Every man is wise when attacked by a mad dog; fewer when pursued by a mad woman; only the wisest survive when attacked by a mad notion.”
"when did you decide that you should come to zurich, mr. staunton?
when i heard myself shouting in the theater."
those last two are the opening lines to davies' the manticore. it was the first novel of a trilogy. have you noticed none of the serious "literary" writers do trilogies anymore? it's all the mystery & sci-fi writers doing that kind of thing.
i picked up the manticore in a walden bookstore in p'cola & read those first lines & was smitten. i suspected i was always capable of shouting in a theater(i ended up doing a whole lot worse than that). i thought that maybe this guy could give me a clue how to avoid that kind of thing. he didn't but the book was great, a real true exploration of what jungian analysis was back in the day. nowadays, jung is as quaint as gestalt. has anyone noticed that about the time everyone buried the idea of psychoanalysis the world went to hell in a handbasket? i guess that if we're all crazy, it doesn't make that much difference as long as we stay out of the bullet's path.
" There is only one thing which interests me vitally now, and that is the recording of all that which is omitted in books. Nobody, as far as I can see, is making use of those elements in the air which give direction and motivation to our lives. Only the killers seem to be extracting from life some satisfactory measure of what they are putting into it. The age demands violence, but we are getting only abortive explosions. Revolutions are nipped in the bud, or else succeed too quickly. Passion is quickly exhausted. Men fall back on ideas, comme d’habitude. nothing is proposed that can last more than twenty-four hours. We are living a million lives in the space of a generation."
Thursday, August 27, 2009
i'm thinking that i can only get a weekend like this one in california. i may be wrong but i suspect it's true.
it's a long story & one that i'll write about soon but the head of the nyingma school of tibetan buddhism died this year. his name was penor rinpoche & ann & i had the great honor of receiving his blessing when we were in bodhgaya india several years ago. there are four major schools of tibetan buddhism & each has it's own leader(& yes, the dalai lama is the head of the gelupa school)& each leader is equal in importance to the others. when penor rinpoche died this year, he'd already recognized & named his successor: karma kuchen rinpoche.
since the nyingma school isn't really involved w/politics, this recognition wasn't disputed by the chinese government. when the dali lama dies, the dustup will be a major deal, something like what happened when the chinese simply "disappeared" the recognized successor of the panchen lama(the second highest ranking lama in the gelupa school).
anyway, this weekend, karma kuchen rinpoche will be out on our little island at the orgyen dorje den giving several ritual blessings on saturday & sunday.
of course, after the blessings, i'll be heading over to the eat real festival at jack london square.
mainly, what's interesting to me is that they'll have a bunch of "food cart" & "foodbus" vendors. i came an inch from buying one of these trucks back when i had some money to do what is now making so much news in various cities around the country(portland is really hopping). i guess i missed the bus(so to speak)on that one.
hey mark, how would this fly in new orleans??? could you even do it there?
another one of the marginal figures of our cultural history.
we made out, fucked, danced to these folks creations. i don't think i ever stopped to check out who was responsible for some of the best moments of my life but here's one of them. i'm sure there's a history of the brill building songwriters out somewhere but i had no idea there were songwriting married couples in the mix(well, ok...carol king & her hubby).
anyway, enjoy her performance here & then enjoy the beach boys w/carl taking the lead for the first time w/the group. i know it'll be hard but try to ignore mike love's antics.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
forget woodstock & the moon landing. forget manson & altamont. what truly represented the 60s decade in america was the kennedy brothers. they embodied the true flowering of the liberal principals this country was founded on. it is impossible to think of any significant social change that came out of the 60s & not think about them.
in america, there are several hundred families whose wealth is beyond most common folk's comprehension. they are mostly unknown to the rest of us. their main goal in life is to make sure the flow of capital goes mostly to them & they're really good at it. they've been doing it w/o most folk's knowledge for two centuries in this country.
the kennedy's could easily have been a part of that. the path joseph kennedy put his sons on led america to a new realization of its existence. it also led to three of his four sons dying violently in their efforts to serve their country. no matter what anyone might say, these rich kids did the right thing. that simply can't be said about most of those faceless millionaires i referred to above, whose only real principals are filthy lucre.
ted kennedy spent his entire adult life in public service. his record as someone dedicated to liberal principals is long & will endure. he didn't have to do what he did but he did it w/complete conviction. he & his brothers helped the america of the 60s become a better place simply by their example.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
i learned from the great chef paul bertolli that beef & arugula are made for each other. bertolli used to feature beef tagliata on his menu at oliveto all the time. it became hard to order anything else off their fantastic & innovative menu when he had the beef tagliata as one of the evening's choices. this version that i made for ann isn't as austere as bertolli's but she seemed to like my excess.
roasted bone-in ribeye beef w/buttermilk mashed potatoes & arugula salad w/roasted red peppers.
i suppose there was no way of knowing where costello was going hearing his first album. we played it a lot down at new college. several of the songs always made it onto the "palm court party" dance tapes. i played "alison" at the coffee houses. there's a lot on that first album that does give an indication of his various directions but who knew he'd follow all of them? at that point in time, i'm not sure anyone wanted him to explore jazz, country, americana, standards. i think we wanted him to rock & spew.
he's gotten so good that we take him for granted. no one writes better lyrics than him & very few can summon up the melodies he hooks onto those lyrics. the image from the second video here, a river running in reverse, is taken from a times-picayune reporter's description of the mighty mississippi river being pushed backwards by the power of hurricane katrina. apocalypse & salvation, who you gonna call when it all comes down?
Monday, August 24, 2009
"The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.
Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.
I do not know which of us has written this page."
we've had some lovely sunsets out on the island lately. they seemed to make ann feel a bit better too, beauty therapy i suppose.
i inherited two new couch mates during ann's illness. apparently, our cats don't care for hacking coughs. who'd a thunk it?
the quiet before the storm.
after nearly 3weeks, ann seems to have recovered from her flu. the last two remaining symptoms(no appetite & a persistent cough)have finally relinquished their grip on her. her first food request was for pasta w/vegetables & i made fresh egg noodles w/broccolini & grana padano cheese.
on saturday, i slow roasted a bone-in pork roast to make another one of her favorites: carnitas w/chile verde & guacamole w/heirloom tomato salad & rice w/breakfast radishes.
she's still not 100%. she asked that i cut the amount of habanero chiles to half of what she usually requires.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
di & i lived in tri-plex in sarasota. it was owned by a fellow named pavchinski, a polish jew who'd actually been in the nazi camps in his youth. he never told me that but he did have numbers tattooed on his forearm. he was an odd bird, never looked you in the eye & seemed to be constantly in motion even while standing there talking to you. at first, the other parts of the tri-plex were rented by other new college students. then, pavchinski built some lean-to's out back & rented those to some truly disgusting bikers. the lean-to's didn't have running water. those folks didn't seem to need it. eventually, the biker's took over the tri-plex & the other small row of apartments pavchinski owed directly across from our bedroom window. di & i were the last of the new college students to get the hell out. it's not entirely clear to me why we waited so long. these folks had guns(& used them)& fought violently amongst themselves. they were not good neighbors.
anyway, before the bikers came, i remember pavchinski stopping by to pick up the rent check. i had a piece by stockhausen on the stereo. i noticed pavchinski seemed visibly disturbed by the music. as he stood there, waiting for me to locate the check, he began to twitch & spasm. it struck me that this music was somehow touching repressed memories, opening up old wounds, flashing him back to ugly & awful times. his shifting eyes seemed to be vibrating in his head. he snatched the check from me & nearly fell getting to the front door. "you like the music?," i asked to his back. he froze & spun around. i was shocked by his eyes, which were full of rage & murder. "music? music?," he spit out, "that's not music, that's noise!"
"He is known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music, aleatory (controlled chance) in serial composition, and musical spatialization."
stockhausen is still an active & major composer.
along w/satie & milhaud & poulenc, debussy was the music you wanted on for sex, at least i did down at new college. all four had huge impacts on american jazz. thelonious monk was especially influenced by debussy, his use of odd time signatures, chord coloration, & harmony. debussy wrote gorgeous music that marked the end-game of romanticism & the opening of modernism w/a touch of the symbolists thrown in for good measure.
Friday, August 21, 2009
i'm not sure if they were the only band that mattered but they were a damned good one. i saw them in new orleans back in '82. it's hard to believe that strummer is a rock & roll ghost. he was pretty cool way back when.
one of my favorite clash songs done by strummer's last band.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
i've written about eggleston before. he's one of my favorite photographers. michael almereyda's documentary on eggleston mentioned this film he'd made in the 70s & showed a bit of it. i had no idea it was available but came across a mention of it in an obit of jim dickinson, who appears in it. it's a little long but worth the time.
another musician on the margins whose contributions to the music of our time was huge. this guy played piano on the stones' "wild horses" for gods sake! anyway, the no depression site has a great piece on dickinson that pretty much situates him appropriately.
Now that our hero has come back to us
in his white pants and we know his nose
trembling like a flag under fire,
we see the calm cold river is supporting
our forces, the beautiful history.
To be more revolutionary than a nun
is our desire, to be secular and intimate
as, when sighting a redcoat, you smile
and pull the trigger. Anxieties
and animosities, flaming and feeding
on theoretical considerations and
the jealous spiritualities of the abstract
the robot? they're smoke, billows above
the physical event. They have burned up.
See how free we are! as a nation of persons.
Dear father of our country, so alive
you must have lied incessantly to be
immediate, here are your bones crossed
on my breast like a rusty flintlock,
a pirate's flag, bravely specific
and ever so light in the misty glare
of a crossing by water in winter to a shore
other than that the bridge reaches for.
Don't shoot until, the white of freedom glinting
on your gun barrel, you see the general fear.
Monday, August 17, 2009
even though de niro is incapable of doing a sympathetic scene w/a woman, he's still one of our best. he's had a crazy career of great roles, duds, oddball cameos, & occasional overacting. for some reason, i've always preferred the restrained de niro to the crazy fuck de niro. his role in true confessions opposite of duvall is a thing of quiet beauty.
he's 66yo today. i'm looking for his king lear somewhere down the line.
Examination at the Womb-Door
Who owns these scrawny little feet? Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face? Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs? Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles? Death.
Who owns these unspeakable guts? Death.
Who owns these questionable brains? Death.
All this messy blood? Death.
These minimum-efficiency eyes? Death.
This wicked little tongue? Death.
This occasional wakefulness? Death.
Given, stolen, or held pending trial?
Who owns the whole rainy, stony earth? Death.
Who owns all of space? Death.
Who is stronger than hope? Death.
Who is stronger than the will? Death.
Stronger than love? Death.
Stronger than life? Death.
But who is stronger than death?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
ELVIS ARON PRESLEY d AUG 16 1977
i have all the famous deaths down.
by that i mean, i remember exactly where i was, who i was with, & who told me the news. there are the two kennedy's(john & bobby), martin luther king, presley, & lennon. hell, i can remember hearing about robert lowell(like agee, he died in the back of a cab), miles davis, & warhol. this doesn't mean i'm obsessed w/death or celebrity. it's just a trick of my memory, i suppose.
i was living w/tom etheridge in sarasota in the summer of 1977. i'd finished my first term at new college(well, actually...i hadn't finished it but it was over)& i'd gone back to p'cola & things hadn't gone well between holly & me. when i wasn't around, holly was given to fucking a wide swath through whoever & whatever circumstance she found herself in. her promiscuity wasn't the issue, that never really bothered me. the problem was she tended to not tell me about who or what she had been up to & that made for awkward situations. i didn't care for awkward situations when they weren't of my own making. i'm not sure if this was the bluegrass band situation or the frat boys out on perdido key but something had rubbed me the wrong way & i headed back down to sarasota within a couple of weeks of being back in p'cola. i had had a great time drinking sarasota dry w/tom during my first term at new college. i was ready for summer fun!
that first term at new college had been literally bone dry in terms of women. my summer continued that pattern, tho tom sure played the field. what i remember most about that summer was the stifling heat of my first south florida summer. when you'd take a shower for relief, you weren't able to really dry yourself because you started sweating profusely immediately upon exiting the shower. you did the best you could & then put on your clothes over your sticky clinging skin.
tom was renting an apartment down near downtown sarasota. it was odd shaped, w/a front living room space where the main bathroom & shower were & a long shotgun like hallway that lead to another sleeping space & the kitchen w/a toilet off to the side. i slept in the front room & tom took the other space.
that aug 16th afternoon, tom & i were sitting in the living room w/frank(my gay room mate from my first term at new college). tom & frank had drunkenly fucked the night before & there was the tension of regret & avoidance in the air. frank had hung around that next day, much to tom's chagrin. as i recall, tom was going through a love 'em & leave 'em phase. at least that seemed to be his reaction to his night of love w/frank. i was just hungover.
suddenly, on the black & white tv tom had the news broke: elvis presley had been found dead in his home. presley had never been huge on our list of music but he'd had a hit that philip & i loved just five years before("burning love")& "suspicious minds" was only eight years out of circulation. he'd spent most of the late 60s & 70s doing ballads(the awful "in the ghetto," for example). it wasn't quite like michael jackson who hadn't done anything at all in nearly 15 years before his death. elvis was still active & kind of performing. we all sat there, shocked. hearing that elvis had dropped dead wasn't the same as when we heard about hendrix or joplin or morrison. they kind of spoke our language & were near in age to us. this was kind of like hearing one of your parents had died.
"fuck," i finally said, breaking the spell, "let's go toast the king." tom jumped at the chance to get frank out of his apartment & frank jumped at the chance to relieve the tension & i jumped at the chance to get to the grog shoppe for a beer. it was after 5pm somewhere.
"I ran like hell toward my room hoping that there would be some wine left in that huge jug on the table. I didn't think I'd be that lucky, though, because I am too much a saga of a certain type of person: fuzzy blackness, impractical meditations and repressed desires."
i don't remember what got me to read bukowski for the first time. i do know that i'd read everything by him before i went to new college & i also know that i found his stuff to be very real. he didn't seem to have any self-editing skills or impulses & so you got everything, warts & all. that meant sometimes badly written, maudlin or simply flat, prose & poetry but when he hit it on the head, it was real & true. the first three novel(post office, factotum, women)were the best. the early poetry was better than the later but you could still find good stuff even towards the end. i think only undergraduates caught up in the silly romanticism of abjection would think that bukowski is a serious canon candidate. he's no kafka or hamsun, no new ground being broken w/this work. this doesn't mean he's not a great read.
shit-ass willard caught the buk-bug from me & wanted to stay at the hummingbird hotel in new orleans when we were there on a trip. you paid 25cents & they gave you a chair, which you took into a large room w/ropes strung up all over the place. the idea was to hook your arms over the rope while sitting in the chair & go to sleep. the room had upwards of 50 other men in there & smelled pretty much like what you'd imagine a room full of 50 wine-o's would smell. i vetoed this idea & we got a quality court room on rampart. i pointed out to ed that bukowski lived the way he did because he had to live that way. we didn't, simple as that. this didn't preclude drunken craziness, bad women choices, grotesque hangovers, hard assed cops & bewildering emergency rooms visits from making appearances in our lives. they did, sometimes w/alarming frequency, but we didn't have to hang from ropes while it was happening.
beyond that, i can't say this is a guy i'd want to sit & drink with. i KNOW he wouldn't want to drink w/me, even though i'd probably pay. i seem to recall willard made a pilgrimage to see him down in l.a. while he was still living. ed showed up w/a case of beer & claudia willens(who had very large breasts)on his arm. bukowski didn't let them cross his lawn. "get out, get away," he screamed at them from his front porch, standing barefoot in a dingy bathrobe. they did too. they got away.
lots to be found on the the man & his work here.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
this is a live performance by jeff mangum, the creative force behind neutral milk hotel, a critic's darling band from the early 90s. this is pretty much the familiar story of creative genius, paltry output, & early retirement. their second & last full length album, in the aeroplane over the sea, is especially good & was very influential. the various bands w/connections w/mangum are varied & many(elf power, the gerbils, olivia tremor control, the elephant six co-op, tall dwarves, apples in stereo, arcade fire, the hawk & the hacksaw et al).
The first Atlanta International Pop Festival was a music festival held at the Atlanta International Raceway on the July Fourth and weekend, 1969, more than a month before Woodstock
Performers at the event included Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Johnny Rivers, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat, Spirit, Ten Wheel Drive, Joe Cocker, Chicago Transit Authority, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grand Funk Railroad, Sweetwater, Al Kooper, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Pacific Gas & Electric, Dave Brubeck, and Led Zeppelin.
Just did a little winter cleaning and ran across the program from the New Orleans Pop Festival - Aug 31 - Sep 1, 1969. That weekend was my first over night outdoor music fest.
White Fox, Snowrabbit, Deacon John and the Electric Soul Train (Deac has played at every JazzFest since then), Whizbang, Axis, Sweetwater, Lee Michaels, Oliver, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, Spiral Staircase, It's A Beautiful Day, Country Joe and the Fish, Byrds, Youngbloods, Canned Heat, Pot Liquor, Chicago (Transit Authority), Tyrannosaurus Rex, Santana, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin.
i had a poster for the atlanta festival on my bedroom bulletin board forever. these things were going on all over the place & as much as i wanted to go to one, in 1969, i wasn't old enough to swing it &, besides, i was having my own summer of love in p'cola w/alicia. i don't really remember having a pressing NEED to go to any of these things.
certainly no one had any idea that woodstock was going to be any different from any of the other festivals that had been held or were about to be held. there was no violence at atlanta or in new orleans. there hadn't been any at the monterey music festival two years earlier. at monterey, they estimated nearly 200,000 people attended over the 3day event. at atlanta, they had nearly 100,000. actually, the isle of wight festival, held two weeks later, was bigger in both attendance & performers. it was peaceful, too.
there were a lot of folks at woodstock but the performers had no idea it would become a big deal either. joni mitchell canceled to be on the dick cavett show. the byrds, the doors, led zeppelin, & jethro tull all passed. all of these bands had pretty decent subsequent careers.
i think quibbling w/the woodstock mythos is kind of niggardly & that's not what i'm doing here. once something is installed in the cultural pantheon it's really not possible to dislodge it. i think we could think about why that generation NEEDS to have its woodstock but otherwise i don't think there's a lot of deep meaning here. i will say that i think woodstock continues to function in the cultural mind so powerfully because the music & the spirit of the music continues to be so powerful & NOT because the mud-caked stoned-out hippies didn't fight over the port-o-lets. the list of woodstock performers is strong & filled w/folks who became icons of that era. since many of them were just starting out, there's an aura of innocence around them way back then that's not necessarily available to ANY performer now.
even in retrospect, i don't feel a pressing need to have been there. i think most of our group, even in p'cola, got what it was all about & lived accordingly. we did it w/o the mud too. cool.
it probably has everything to do w/being bobo's son.
bobo loved to get in his car & just drive. he didn't care where he was going because he figured one way or another he'd find something interesting to do. drive long & far enough in any direction, he reasoned, & you'd find a bar & women in that bar. that i was initially his unwitting companion on many of these drives didn't really matter to him. it's true, i proved to be the perfect cover for his escapades but he'd have driven on alone w/o companionship & he did too.
when i was younger his disappearance into some roadside bar "to see someone" would become annoying after 15minutes in the car alone. sure, i had the radio to listen to but i was a little hyper-active as a kid & after 30minutes i was usually going batty. as revenge, i'd set all the various dashboard accoutrements to go off when he came back & started the car. i never thought to get out of the car & go into the bar after him. eventually, i did & was usually allowed to sit in the bar, somewhere out of the way but never so far out of the way that i couldn't see what went on in this strange new world of adults.
before that, though, i sat in the car. of course, the smell of alcohol emanated from him when he got back to the car. the thick redolence of whiskey & cigar smoke pervaded the upholstery of his car. it was a heady combination for me, one that i found slightly intoxicating even then. i remember on rainy weekend days, going out to bobo's car, laying in the backseat, listening to the rain & inhaling the car's aroma deeply as i fell asleep. on our nights out together, riding on to krispy kreme(my reward for sitting in the car)or chasing some ambulance(nothing but a thrill), it never struck me that he wouldn't get me to where ever we were going.
years later, i was following bobo through some alabama back woods roads. my car had broken down in gulf shores & we'd gotten shorty white to come over there w/us to fix it. shorty had listened to the vw choke & gag & sputter to start, thought for a second, gone over to a tree & broke off a small limb that he jammed somewhere into the engine, & directed me to try starting the car again. it started right up & purred like a finely tuned porsche. shorty was hopping about like some barnyard animal, cackling & gurgling. "ok, let's go. you follow me," was bobo's command. shorty continued his cornpone pantomime as he climbed into the car w/bobo. he was sure tickled w/himself.
so i kept following bobo as we curved & dipped our way over what was becoming roads that could only be described as pig trails. "where in the fuck is he going?," i kept wondering. he took a left onto a side road you couldn't even see from the main road, into thick, seemingly impervious woods. suddenly, there in the middle of nowhere was an abandoned motel, decayed but still rotting in the sun, a testament to someone's failed dreams & ambitions. i remember seeing the algae laden pool, stagnant & green, festering away & suddenly felt sad. the abandoned pool seemed to carry some deeper significance beyond what my immediate image repertoire recognized. we'd both slowed down to take in this odd apparition but bobo suddenly accelerated & disappeared into another clump of thick alabama forest. by the time i caught up the forest had fallen away again & we were pulling into a small marina, w/about 3dozen boats anchored & the intercoastal waterway glistening expansively. i'd have never thought we were anywhere near water, much less such a beautifully languid scene.
shorty scrambled out of bobo's car, doing another version of his arcane jig. he looked like a spastic walter brennan. "i'll be damned, i'll be damned," he was chanting, "who'd a'known, who'd a'known." i had to agree but i should have known. i'd done this kind of thing before w/bobo & he always seemed to lead me to mystical fishcamps or private eating clubs or fully equipped hunting lodges & they were always way off the beaten path, which always made them feel like unique discoveries or hidden treasures. the marina had, as its central point, a rundown bar & grill. the three of us sat on the dock outside, drinking beer, while shorty & bobo talked about "big titted mary" & the other whores in p'cola's red-light district way back when. after about 30 minutes, i realized it was quiet except for the bar patron's laughter, an occasional motorboat pulling up, or the water lapping up against the pilings of the pier. if you listened hard enough you could just barely make out the sound of time slowing down & feel the sadness of a million abandoned swimming pools slip away into the large space of blue sky & clear water.
this guy's work got me thinking about these things.
Friday, August 14, 2009
i've written about what a great songwriter dan penn is before here. i was struck my this story about "dark end of the street" because it includes a mention of the blood sucker, papa don schroeder. just a small p'cola connection but one i thought i'd reveal. the first version of the song is by the guy who had the original hit w/it, james carr, a great soul voice. the other one is from one of my favorite entertainment movies, the commitments. actually, i don't think you could find a bad version of the song. it's just that good.
In the summer of 1966, while a DJ convention was being held in Memphis, Tennessee, the song was written in about thirty minutes. Penn and Moman were cheating while playing cards with Florida DJ Don Schroeder. They wrote the song while on a break. "We were always wanting to come up with the best cheatin’ song. Ever," Penn said. The duo went to the hotel room of Quinton Claunch, another Muscle Shoals alumnus, and founder of Hi Records, to write. Claunch told them, "boys, you can use my room on one condition, which is that you give me that song for James Carr. They said I had a deal, and they kept their word."
The more opinions you have, the less you see.
i saw the road movies first & each was better than the one before. w/american friend, i thought this guy knows what he's doing. he does too. there is a calm in wender's films, a kind of deliberate pacing that seems determined to let the story reveal itself at its own leisure. there's none of the fassbinder manic energy or herzog's obsessiveness.
oddly, it's always seemed to me that his soul crushing experience w/coppola on the ill fated hammett made him a better director. it definitely opened him up to exploring america & its cinematic possibilities. he's made probably seven films that i think are truly excellent.
i just watched the million dollar hotel(mediocre film that begins w/a good idea but breaks down story-wise about halfway through, which has always been a problem w/wenders) but i haven't been paying much attention to what he's been up to lately. i have looked at his photography, which is very fine indeed. you check out more of it here.
as far as i'm concerned, listening to this song done by these two icons in their heyday makes me believe in the power of music to change things. i know these two still believe it can. that they are still singing together should surprise no one except some of crosby's old pushers. voices seldom meld into such glorious harmony as they do when these guys sing. crosby had his 28th birthday the day before woodstock started. he played w/csn&y the last day, sunday. that's quite a present to be given & to receive.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
""In 1898 when their grandmother died, the four Compson children were forced to play outside during the funeral. In order to see what was going on inside, Caddy climbed a tree in the yard, and while looking inside, her brothers—Quentin, Jason and Benjy—looked up and noticed that her underwear was muddy. How each of them reacts to this is the first insight the reader has into the trends that will shape the lives of these boys: Jason is disgusted, Quentin is appalled, and Benjy seems to have a "sixth-sense" in that he moans (he is unable to speak using words), as if sensing the symbolic nature of Caddy's dirtiness, which hints at her later sexual promiscuity."
steve mutter had a les paul guitar during the galatea years on p'beach. we'd met him & barry(they performed as a duo) when they played down at lily marlene's(former site of p'cola printing)& he moved in w/a house load of us when they got the galetea gig. what a house load! jack pyle, mike johnson, philip, lynn, mutter & me.
mutter could sure play that guitar. he loved music & his enjoyment was always evident even when he was on stage. he was kind of a strange bird but a genuinely nice guy. he hooked up w/X, a notoriously loud sex partner, & when he told philip about it, philip said, "o yeah, she's like that w/everybody." mutter was crushed. philip tried to backtrack("but it sounds like she was louder w/you...") but the damage was done. mutter was around w/his les paul for a couple of years & then he just disappeared. i think he was from somewhere in the midwest.
les paul is one of those guys on the margins of music history who actually contributed more to it than many at the center of it. by being on the margins, i simply mean being well known. he was known well enough by everyone that matters & his innovations will be w/us for years to come.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
CECIL B. DEMILLE b. AUGUST 12 1881
SAM FULLER b. AUGUST 12 1912
wow! i thought buck & porter were two ends of the spectrum!
i guess today is all about the establishment & its rebels. you could spend decades trying but your imagination couldn't invent the differences between film directors like demille & fuller. it's not just that fuller is so original either(though that plays a huge part). one thing that's absolutely correct about them is that they both loved spectacles. what sets them apart is how they conceived of the idea of what a spectacle is & how to present it to the viewer. i prefer fuller's version.
demille doesn't mean much to me, though he did mean a lot to hollywood during his day. he made one film i loved: the greatest show on earth. he was even nominated for best director for that film. demille's sense of spectacle is shallow, a debordian impulse towards the market & the simulacrum. the totalizing effect of one of his films, oddly, reminds me of coppola at his most venal(& there's lots of that). the larger view is the one that's spread the thinnest in demille's world. his technical vocabulary was pretty thin too.
thin, at least, when compared to the technical genius of the outsider, samuel fuller. the opening sequence of pickup on south street is still taught in film classes not only for its filmic technique but its writing too. i can tell you that you'll never see what's coming in his astonishing film, the naked kiss. it has one of the most incredibly fantastic moments i've ever seen in film(a de-wigged & bald prostitute beating her pimp into unconsciousness w/her handbag). fuller's idea of spectacle was what happened every day on the street or in ordinary people's minds. prostitutes, lunatics, child molesters, criminals of all kinds peopled fuller's cinematic world & he gave them full reign. his spectacle was what you'd never seen before, what you'd never dared dream & it was presented from the ground level up, as grimy as the gutter & as active & destructive as a f5 tornado.
fuller suffered the full ups & downs of hollywood but ultimately was run out of town never to direct again. his penultimate film, the big red one, showed he still had the chops & his last, white dog(a story about a dog who'd been programmed to attack black people)showed he still had his guts. the cowardly studio shelved the film & it wasn't shown for years. fuller moved to france & hung out w/the coolest of the cool european film directors(wenders, godard).
demille was all about the parting sea; fuller was all about shock corridor. demille embodied the hollywood system; fuller was a rebel who paid the price for rebellion. one was a great entertainer; the other was an artist.