Rossini Sarasate

Gioachino Rossini’s (1792 – 1868) William Tell Overture has been seared into my memory thanks to the Lone Ranger & Bugs Bunny. Of course little of music in that overture actually appears in the opera. Imagine some soprano galloping to the galloping bit 🙂 I have that tucked away somewhere. 

On an mp3 collection I have his String Sonatas, various Overtures, Piano Music, Barber of Seville Highlights, La Boutique Fantastique, Matinees & Soirees Musical & the Stabat Mater. At one time I wanted to hear behind the big hit so I added these to broaden my knowledge base. This is all pleasant orchestral, the paint music is romantic, I love the Stabat Mater. But the string sonatas are my particular favourite.

The version here is my lp to mp3 transfer from an MHS edition which I really loved loved loved. This is sweet, playful, happy music. Music I loved so much that I have two other versions of it as stand-alone double cds. All three are different but the same, different tempos, sound quality but great. I’d say by whom but that doesn’t matter. These sonatas would be fine by any string quartet. Get them.

Near Rossini on the shelf is Spain’s Pablo de Sarasate (1844 – 1908). I have two stand-alones of his Spanish Dances on violin one & the other on piano. The dances are fiery, romantic & energizing. Some of them are immediately recognizable even if you don’t know who the composer is. I have various versions of some of them on classical guitar, by string quartets, orchestras, harp, mariachi bands, worked into progrock noodling, jazz guitar, flute, sax. Music for the ages.

Daily Delay

“The delay at the Bloor-Yonge station is static stacic static.”

Jan pulled her ear buds out to hear the announcement. Another delay! Oh, well, there never was a good time for the daily delay. Just what she needed. Keeping the subway running, people happy and people safe were a constant battle. Keeping them safe sometimes meant they would be unhappy. Delays made them very unhappy. 

She wondered what was it this time. Hopefully not another jumper. No, the delay wasn’t long enough for that. She listened closely to the dispatch numbers. They weren’t calling for the track clean up crew. 

The train started up. As it passed through bloor she saw police gathered around the men’s room door. Not worth getting off for. Crime on the subway wasn’t her beat. It wasn’t anybody’s beat. 

There was this code of silence around so much public petty crime. If they reported it all, the paper would be twice a large and there weren’t enough advertisers to pay for the rainforest it would take to keep up on all the pick-pockets, purse snatching that went on.

They saved that valuable resource for real crime. Murder or assault. Stealing candy bars from the Gateway wasn’t real enough, anymore. Plus the more of that petty stuff that made the press the less people felt safe. Everyone wants to feel safe in a city this size. Especially when they were crammed together on public transit. 

Though she never understood how some people found these things were so startling. It wasn’t as if assault was just invented. That this was the first time someone had been robbed.

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McRae Baker Faithful

I love creating mp3 cds of mixed styles, generations & voices. On this one there is Carmen McRea, Anita Baker & Marianne Faithful. Can you imagine them doing an album together? Neither can I. I picked up a couple of 2nd Carmen’s lps decades ago & enjoyed them enough to transfer them to cd, then to mp3. I like her take on Alfie. The songs are jazz/pop standards & her style bridges jazz & pop nicely without becoming lounge. Not a mellow voice but pleasant enough. She’s in the Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson mold. Here I have: Sings The Great American Songwriters, Alfie, Portrait of Carmen.

 

I enjoy Anita Baker. She has a warm, sensual voice than could wring emotion out the phonebook (do they still publish phonebooks?). A female Barry White. She sings about love, unrequited, betrayed, lost, fulfilled & unexpected. The songs tend to merge into one another though – unless one is a real fan it is hard to tell them apart or even to tell which lp any one song is from. Comfortable, non-demanding easy-listening adult music. Psalms to codependency. Here I have Compositions, Rhythm of Love, My Everything. Copied from a friend’s collection.

Finally, as a real contrast to the other two, is Marianne Faithful’s Strange Weather. This is a stunning lp filled with songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Her voice is astounding, her world-weary lived-in interpretation of these songs is dour but not defeated. I love this lp & the emotional depth & history she brings without making the work maudlin or depressing. As she sings ‘As Tears Go By’ you sense that she doesn’t regret crying but that she’s not crying anymore. She’s a survivor. A must have.  

Micturition

Jim had to piss. Badly. He cursed the extra large coffee in his hand. If he didn’t have this so called important meeting at work, he would have stuck to the usual medium but felt he needed that extra zip of caffeine to get through it. Now here he was in transit and needing to take a pee so bad he was tempted to find a corner on the subway car to do it. He’d had to take this leak for the last two stops. He had another dozen or so to go and knew he couldn’t hold it. 

So against his better instinct he stepped off at the Bloor/Yonge station. He knew there were public washrooms there. The thought of going in there filled him with dread. Thousands of men a day went into this bathroom and the place had to be a cess pool of filth, stink & germs. 

The washroom was tidier than he expect though, but busy. Men of various heights at all the urinals. It looked like the last toilet stall was unoccupied. Even if all the urinals had been free he would have headed for a stall. Privacy was the key in public places.

He could smell shit. The smell got stronger as he neared the stall. Just what he needed. Some people couldn’t flush. Was that why this one was unoccupied. He nudged it open with his elbow. His hands touched nothing. His foot slid a bit on the damp floor and he nudged the door with more force that he intended. Something stopped it from inside.

“Sorry.”

There was someone in there. The door bumped whomever it was on the head. The whomever slumped forward off the toilet pushing the door shut again. One arm slid into the next booth. The head protruded from under the door. It lay at a weird angle to the rest of the body.

Jim dropped his coffee and stepped back.

“There’s a body there.” He said to the man he bumped into.

The next stall emptied. Jim stepped in over the arm. Body or not he had to take a piss. Damned if he was going to wet his pants and then have to talk to the police.

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Dames – Wiggles and Bates

Heather Babcock’s Filthy Sugar is a noir window into a Wanda Wiggle’s life in the 30s – the writing is rich in hard-boiled dialogue, descriptions & situations. Set in the Toronto sex-trade of the time it is refreshingly non-judgemental, funny & at times sexy. Wanda does sort of wander through what we se of her life – an opportunity, & her overflowing bra, take her into the burlesque world.

At times Wanda reminded me of Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny – a buxom gal who innocently engages in sex & yet isn’t exploited or emotionally scarred by it. Matter-of-fact as opposed to unsavoury or shocking. Wanda has this same attitude & is aware & in control without being manipulative (unless pulling gun can be called manipulative) or deceitful. Heather builds a world that is true to the times but still has an element of fantasy that keeps it from feeling depressing or hopeless, which I suspect those times were. Characters are well-developed, situations are real & the emotion level is also real – no melodrama here. Check out her excellent blog https://meetmeatthesodafountain.home.blog .

From the 30s we move into the 40s – I was lead to Betty Bates: Lady at Law by The Stiletto Gumshoe‘s blog. I ordered the collection of complete stories from Amazon. It is full size pages but sadly in black & white. She is a kick-ass female lady, public defender at one point, district-attorney at another point. She battles gangsters, spies, mad scientists & the occasional unsavoury miscreant. There are enough great plots here for endless movies & I’m surprised she never made it to the screen.

Perhaps she was too independent for the male movie moguls to consider. Men are either villains or irrelevant, even her love interest goes undeveloped. No sidekick either. She gets into & out of jams mostly by her wiles & her martial arts skills. The drawings are classic comic book. The story writers & illustrators changed over the years. Some years she might have been naked except for a line drawn for hem & collar.

The collection is sweet though sadly the scans are not in colour, as the originals were, which results in more greys & blurred images. Also with her is Miss America: gifted with powers of the Statue Of Liberty she – fights criminals & spies. Fun rah-rah America propaganda. A collection worth checking out. The The Stiletto Gumshoe is another excellent blog.

Hooterville

the one area I feel empathy 

for straight guys is 

cleavage

where are you supposed to look

when caught up 

in a barrage of boob

focus on her eyes if you can

and hope 

she doesn’t perceive 

the wavering flickers

as you try not to get drawn down

<>

it is easy to see how women 

become objectified

even when they object to it

how to pretend she isn’t pretty

that you find attractive 

attractive 

without being demonized

brow beaten by breasts 

for being such a beast

<>

there’s no way of making up for it

no apology

no affirmative action

removes the taint of having a dick

of having two competing heads to think with

of being faulted 

for thinking with the wrong one

regardless of which one is being used

berated being opportunistic slaves 

to base male instinct

all men are guilty

no way out no absolution 

to be hormonally driven dick heads

is punishment enough

<>

I have this simmering empathy 

when I get caught 

as they often do

in décolletage

try to make conversation

as subtle light shifts with each motion

as she pushes her hair behind her ear

try to focus on her words

try to ignore non-verbal communication

<>

I’ve never heard a guy tell a woman 

‘stop looking at my package

my eyes are up here’

yeah I know

eyes are the window to the soul

I don’t think either of us is 

ready to go there

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Bad Bad Spirit Pie in Your Hair

Next on the shelf is a mp3 cd collection of radio fodder male singer/songwriters of the 70’s, with one exception. Here is Don McLean’s American Pie, Don McLean, Homeless Brother. Pie & Vincent are era defining songs that are used in countless movies for instant period ambiance – in fact all it takes is the ‘buy buy’ oops, I mean ‘bye bye’ & you know where your are in time. I loved that song. Vincent less so – too gentle & greeting card for me. McLean never matched this early success but continued to record. The self-named album sees him as a pop version of Noel Coward with fun songs two of which are worth tracking down: Narcisissma, On The Amazon. He’s sort of the US answer to Gordon Lightfoot 🙂 

I loved Jim Croce. On this cd I have You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, I Got A Name, Life & Times. As a stand alone Photographs & Memories; Greatest Hits. His writing & music was emotionally accessible, unpretentious & catchy. He wrote about ordinary men & women with lived-in affection. Looking for the track listings for his lps I want to name check every song as they are each classics. The emotional directness of some of the songs can make me almost tearful. His unexpected death in 1973 at 30 ended an amazing career.

Also inescapable was Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky. The album is sweet folksy, slightly psychedelic & fun with of course his big hit. Canned Ham his second ‘hit’ was good. He recorded a few more stepped lps then back – the music industry wasn’t for him.  The same is true for Scott McKenzie: The Voice Of … smash hit with If You’re Going – that road the crest of flower power sweetness – the album is a tad bit darker but those flowers lost their petals, as it were. Thanks to Papa John Phillips he (& Barry McGuire) fill blanks in the Mamas & Papas catalogue nicely. In fact Scott became a member of that group for awhile.

Lastly in this compilation is Elmore James: The Final Sessions. I wanted something to balance out the flower power weight of the other performers & this set. James is a true blues slide guitar magician. Only one album by him was released during his lifetime. This set collects his final two sessions from February 1963 in New York City, and he would be dead within three months of a heart attack at the age of 45. Timeless music.

The Kick Outside

On the subway the little girl kicked me in the ankle. She was about six but at that size and age who can really tell except a parent. I’m no parent. She was one of the prime reasons I wasn’t interested in being a parent.

I said, “Stop.”

She laughed and kicked me again.

I looked for a parent. Across the aisle was a woman beaming at her cute little girl, smiling at me to indulge the little sweet thing.

The little sweet thing had on patent leather shoes. Black shiny hard. As she was about to kick me again I gently pushed her back.

“Stop that.” I said.

The mother glared me.

‘“How dare you touch my child. Keep your hands to yourself.”

“Tell your child to keep her feet to herself.”

“You perverted slime ball.” The mother stood. “Touching my child. Don’t think you’re going to get away with that.”

Grinning, the child kicked me harder. People looked at us. The little girl began to cry.

‘“Look what you’ve done! Hold him there while I get the police.”

Two large men appeared and held me by the shoulders.

“The child was kicking me and I pushed her away.” I explained as they pulled me off at the next stop.

“She musta had a reason to kick you, you asshole. Your type makes me sick.” One of the men grunted.

They held me there for about ten minutes until the subway police showed up to see what the fuss was. The woman and child where gone. The guys holding me admitted they saw nothing.

When I got home there was a bruise on my ankle.

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The Trance Horn World

Next on the jazz shelf are a pair of cd mp3 collections built around the work of flautist Paul Horn. He became a pioneer of world and new age music with his 1969 album Inside. But the ‘roots’ of that go back to a couple of earlier lps: Jazz Suite on The Mass Texts, Here’s That Rainy Day. On Texts he works with orchestra & choir & on Rainy Day he works with rain effects.

I remember when Inside The Taj Mahal was released & all my pot-head buddies where into the echo soothing meditativeness of it. Inside 2 is more of the same. Both are timeless & meditative. 

George Winston is new age, meditative piano player I was introduced to when I facilitated a meditation healing circle for ACT. I have Winter, Winter Into Spring – instrumental music that lulls, ripples with touches of classical & very subtle jazz. I was also introduced to (& have) Suzanne Ciani: Seven Waves, Neverland, History of My Heart; Kitaro: Silk Road I, II; G.E.N.E. Grooving Electronic Natural Environments: Fluting Paradise. Ciani’s electronic work has an element of deliberate design using various sound frequencies to create mood. GENE weaving rippling brooks & sound frequencies.  

For a time I was a weekend- warrior learning about medicine wheels & Native spiritual beliefs. Here I heard  R. Carlos Nakai a Navajo/Ute who plays Native American cedar. On Earth Spirit there are original compositions for the flute inspired by traditional Native American melodies.

In this collection is also Hamza El Din’s Escalay: The Water Wheel which recognized as one of the first world music recordings to gain wide release in the West. He is Egyptian and plays the oud. A friend had me transfer his lp version to cd & I kept a copy, which I later upgraded, via iTunes, for better sound quality. Worth seeking out.

Also from that neck of the woods (or is that sands?) comes Bustan Abraham: Fanar – a sweet concoction of Arab music, Turkish music, jazz, flamenco, western classical music, and blues from an Israeli band. Finally a selection of Hussain Khan from Radio India, shared with me by a friend – this is harmonium, sitar, tabla & chanting that transports one to another world.

Parenting

Kayla found the bones in the backyard. We had been getting ready for planting a garden for the kids. She and her bother Dall weren’t all that eager to watch things grow but I figured it would be a good experience for them. Being a step-dad wasn’t a dream come true mind you but I was willing to do what it would take to make it work.

I figured digging and planting things together would be a good bonding experience for us. 

Kayla called to me. “Jake … Jake ….”

The fear in her voice gabbed me by the heart. I rushed over. 

She pointed her trowel at the shattered bone. 

I hunched down to get a closer look.

Dall came over to join me. He pushed at the bone with a finger.

“Don’t touch it.” I pulled his hand away.

“What is it?” Kayla began to tear up.

“Probably a cat or a squirrel. Too small to be anything else.”

I gently pushed the dirt from around the bones to see how many there were. I could tell it was some small animal.

“What’s going on.” John had come out of the house.

I stood a bit to quickly & was dizzy for a moment. He steadied me.

“Kayla found a dead body.” Dall pointed at the bones. “Looks like a dead baby.”

He looked at Kayla hoping for a reaction.

“Looks like you.” She retorted.

“I’m not dead.”

“That’s what you think.”

“Probably just a cat that the last owner buried here when it died. See …” I hunched down again. “There’s fur in the ground around it.”

John took the kids into the house while I dug out the bones. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Bag them for recycling? Put them in composter? Bury them somewhere else in the yard? 

I had a lot to learn about being a parent.




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Exhausted August 2020

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following is steady at 380! The August WP map shows that my hits have come from around the world. India still tops the list with 3 times as many hits than Canada at number 2. Good to see Japan & Portugal making the top 10. China! Nepal! My Tumblr (topoet) is up by 3 to 290. Twitter (@TorPoet) up to 226 followers. My most popular post in August: Fab Forty 1965 https://topoet.ca/2020/08/02/fab-forty-1965/ 

I’ve posted 33 chapters of Picture Perfect so far, nearly 49,000 words, with 137,000 words yet to be edited. I had forgotten how much attention I had paid to world-building for my hero. Making cuts has been easy & expanding some when needed has been fun. I also love making the fresh weekly graphic & will include them in an appendix to the eBook. 

I’ve been really enjoying the challenge of writing about my Distant Music pieces. Nearing the end that. Doing one week has made the work more steady. Two pieces a week was rushed. Once done I may compel it all into an eBook. I found I am following in famous footsteps: Alan Ginsburg did a similar explanation of Howl for its 50th anniversary. I’m not as self-indulgent as I thought 😦

Amongst the movies I watched in August was the oddly fascinating Paris Belongs To Us – early 60’s underground theatre in Paris – each scene deepens the mystery with layers of information that leads to ? It was as if Kafka met Beckett to write a screenplay. Was stunned by Edge Of The Knife (SG̲aawaay Ḵ’uuna) a Canadian film in Haida. Visually amazing, brilliant performances & a work of art.

Another month of living with the pandemic. Will Americans accept a covid vaccine made in Russia? Since their last presidential election was (made in Russia) I don’t see why not 🙂 More  deflection where entertainment value is more important than progress – where anger over racism is the issue not the racism itself.

Life in Toronto slowly opens up with patios, schools, community centres adapting to covid protocols. Classroom of a certain size allow for 20 or is it 30 students – LCBO spaces of similar size are restricted to 10 people, at a time. The province has made it its priorities clear. I have no children, I don’t consume alcohol so I have no standing in such issues.

Light At the End of the Closet

<>

some days I check my email

every hour I’m awake

in case there’s one from him

but he’s a fucking crappy communicator

and I like it

I like the frustration

<>

I know he isn’t stringing me along

I don’t check my voicemail 

he can’t leave messages

if he calls he has to use pay-phones

he has one of those sensitive jobs

can’t be out

can’t be caught out

I understand this

and I like it

I like the hidden secret

the old-time quality of his closet

of me being totally out of mine

I can slip into his

and not feel the need to force him out

he knows this

he is always apologizing

sorry about an unending work load

that lets him hide

that makes him hide

I like this hiding   sometimes

when he says I’m ray of light

more like a shaft 

I joke

<>

I like this frustration

knowing I can feel it

not need to judge force refuse

be present 

be in my own open life

sort of free

sort of   because

if  I see a crying child

in the street or a mall

I have to back away

gay men are automatically suspect

and can never be proven innocent

<>

so I back away into that closet

I don’t like that frustration

till I check my email

and there’s one from him

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Van McCoy Voyage

This mp3 cd collection is filed under Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony. Sweet Rhythm contains the hit The Hustle – which is a disco icon of the  Philadelphia sound. Strings galore, flute & still a template for dance music that emulates old skool. To be honest I hated it then but now it is sweet nostalgia & more than bmp under a diva’s voice.  Van McCoy died young in 1979 of a heart attack. Sweet Rhythm is easy & sexy.

Peter Brown’s A Fantasy Love Affair is more brilliantly produced dance music. In 1977 his 12″ version of “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me” reached the million dollar mark making it the first gold 12” single in history. This one brings back memories of my arrival in Toronto in 1979 & my discovery of discos in the gay ghetto. This is hip thrusting music, catchy & fun. Sexual & sexy.

These two were performers I had heard of before I downloaded their lps (with bonus tracks). The rest of there were unknown to be, even though I did know the songs. All were ‘discovered’ by tracks posted in my Tumblr feed. My music collection needed more r’n’b from the 70’s/80’s to round it out. 

I have the hits collection by The Main Ingredient: Everybody Plays the Fool that includes Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely. I loved both these songs but didn’t know who originated them. A sold soul band with strong vocals – reminiscent of groups like the The Four Tops – this is great music. Similar but more on the disco side is B.T. Express: Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied) B. T. stand for Brooklyn Transit. Great club music with a strong sexy edge.

I don’t know what the T stands for in T-Connection. This a band out Nassau, the Bahamas. I have the  Expanded Edition of their self titled album that includes the dance floor monster ‘At Midnight.’ The song brings back memories of getting home after Midnight and reeking go cigarette smoke & sweat. A good memory. Similar to them is Con Funk Shun’s Funk Essentials. As you might guess this a dance funk band – one that I’d never heard of before but am happy to hear now.

The holds true for Blue Magic. I have the remastered release of their first, 1974 lp. More in The Spinners mode of funk.  The longest lasting of many of these groups is Earth Wind & Fire here I have their 1980 Faces. I have several of their other lps scattered through my vast collection. Best known for their ballads this is another smooth, funky with a dash of jazzy band that produced dozens of constant lps.

Finally a San Jose, garage soul band Syndicate of Sound: Little Girl. This a bit of an anomaly here as fun, disco isn’t noted for garage bands the way rock’b’roll is – oddly street-corner doo-wop was never considered as garage band – maybe too much emphasis on vocal harmony 🙂 Anyway this a fun lp, energy with interesting r’n’b under pinning.

Had Enough

Except for the bartender the tavern was deserted. Doug ordered a bottle beer. Took a table that wasn’t too dark. He sat and watched the beads of condensation form and trickle down the side of the bottle. They pooled around the bottom. The pool heavier on one side than the other. The table wasn’t level. He wondered if there would be enough bottle sweat for it to form a stream away from the bottle.

As his eyes adjusted he could see the stains of other bottles left to stand on the table. The lights from the bar reflected and distorted on the wet surface of the bottle.

“You gonna drink that or what?”

“Huh?” Doug looked up.

“You been staring down that bottle for the last ten minutes. Won’t jump up to you mouth, you know, you gotta lite it for the full effect.”

Doug looked up to the voice. It was a young man. Late 20’s, he guessed. Shaved head big smile loose t-shirt and baggy shorts.

“Or would you rather be left alone.”

“I’m just having a beer and a think. Not looking to buy anything else.”

“Do I look like a hustler to you?”

Doug shrugged. He didn’t know what a hustler would look like but figured no one talked to strangers in places like this just to make conversation.

“Besides you look to be doing more thinkin’ than drinkin’.”

“Yeah. Well a think is all I wanted. Here …” Doug slid the beer towards the bald man. “I’ve had enough to think for one day.”

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All My Mayall

One of my friends on the east coast was a die-hard blues performer/fan. He introduced me to John Mayall. The first Mayall Lp I bought was Bare Wires, then Alone (a solo lp in which he plays everything). At the time I wasn’t what one would call a fan though. Blues was too adult for me. I was more California harmonies or psychedelic pop than serious British blues.

I now have as either stand-alone or mp3: The Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton; A Hard Road; The Blues Alone; Crusade; Bare Wires; Blues From Laurel Canyon; Blues for the Lost Days; Turning Point; Jazz Blues Fusion; 70th Birthday Concert. 

Top-40 was not his aim even though the Blues Breakers did feature, at various points Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor. Although his blues roots ground all his recordings he experimented with where things could go – Hard Road is rock blues; Alone – traditional; Bare Wires added horns for a more soul sound; Turning Point: acoustic & jazzy. After that I didn’t really follow his career. Some of these I had when they were first released, others were added more recently as I filled in blanks in my collection. Clapton fans should have his work with Mayall.

The most recent addition was the 2003 2 cd set: 70th Birthday Concert where he reunites with Eric Clapton, Chris Barber & Mick Taylor along with the then current Bluesbreakers for a great set of old & new material. His voice is in good shape & they all play like wise teenagers 🙂 He’s a survivor & is still performing & recording.

Surveillance

“Did you know Donaldson or Hanson?”

“Not well. They were older bad boys. I mainly hung out with the guys in the chess club. Not exactly a bunch of daredevil trouble makers. You?”

“I didn’t hang out. School and home to do school work. We weren’t encourage to hang out.”

I realized that whatever sort of teenage life Vasili had it was so different from mine that I had no idea what it was like.

“I suppose not. We grew up in a much more liberal climate than you did.”

“Right. Plus you knew who your father was. I had only my sisters & even that was limited by what the state did with us after our father defected. They didn’t directly punish us for what he did, but there were no positive consequences either.”

We were in the kitchen. The organized clutter wasn’t as omnipresent here. 

“I think this was probably where my father spent a lot of his time when he was in the house & not in his shop.”

He opened one of the cabinet doors and there were rows of TVs. Vasili turned on switch and they all flickered to life. Each showed a different part of the house & yard.

“I figure he did this after the those guys assaulted him.”

“Wow! How did you find this?”

“Looking for a coffee mug.” Vasili laughed dryly. “I imagine he sat when I am sitting now and watched these when he wasn’t in the shop. There are vcr tapes going back years.”

“What? He kept surveillance tapes for the last how many years?”

“He reviewed them every day.” He took a book out of the table drawer. “He kept logs of what he saw & kept ones that he might need as evidence. There is only a handful of those.’

“Man he was paranoid as hell.”

“No, paranoia is fantasy. The RCMP actually had their eye on him. Besides after what happened to him he needed real physical evidence to protect himself.”


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RReady

There are some classical piece that sound like movie soundtracks one of them is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s (1844-1908) Scheherazade which takes one on an amazing music trip though the Arabian Nights. Romantic, stirring, seductive. It is classical music for people who don’t think they like classical music.  Rimsky-Korsakov work is full of Russian folk melody, rich in fairytale stories & nationalistic fervour. Listening to it you want to reach either for a samovar or a sabre.

I have three stand-alones: Orchestral Works excerpts from The Golden Cockerel, Capriccio espagnol – along with Mussorgsky’s Pictures. Orchestral Suites: The Snow Maiden, The Golden Cockerel, Mlada. Scheherazade which is paired with Borodin’s Polovestian Dances. These three cd’s make for a wonderful immersion into Russian music. Start with Scheherazade though.  

Ned Rorem (1923) I inherited hardcover, first editions, of his Paris & New York Diaries. He is a very out modern classical composer & the diaries are fun, smart, gossipy, sexy great reading that gave me a sense of time & place in his upper crusty milieu. I loved the diaries & he is pretty easy on the eye.   According to Wiki he’s still alive. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1976. Who knew there was a ç for Music?

In my collections I two stand-alones of his work. The cover of the Flute/Violin Concertos concertos features a drawing of Rorem by Jean Cocteau. You know, I’d much rather have my portrait done by Jean Cocteau than Andy Warhol. The other cd is of Chamber Music Suites: End of Summer, Book of Hours, Bright Music.

The music is at times sprightly, other times somber but it didn’t engage me. Too often modern classical music sounds more like class assignments as opposed to emotional response. “For your Masters please write a piece for these three instruments, chosen at random from a hat, Clarinet, Violin & Piano.” Then again Rimsky-Korsakov is a hard act to follow 🙂

Unopened

“So you’ve never been inside the house.” Vasili unlocked the front door.

“Nope. I shovelled the sidewalk a few times though. We always wondered how rich your dad was.”

“Rich?”

“Yeah, to own this house and live here all by himself. He told us he wanted a house for his family when he could bring them here. But I never figured out how he could afford it with just that repair shop of his, you know? Coaching the chess team was voluntary.”

“I have no idea either. It was a shock to find out he had such a large house. You know when the political climate changed we did finally get in touch with him. For the last few years we’d talked on the phone, exchanged photos.”

He opened the front door slowly pushing a pile of newspapers just on the other side of it back with his foot.

“This is how the house was when I arrived a few days ago. Funeral arraignments haven’t allowed me time to do anything with it.”

There was a narrow path though tidy piles of unopened boxes that had been stacked on either side of the hall, along the stairs.

“The whole house is like that. Dad had become a saver of things. I think started buying goods for us to have when he could bring us here but lacked the ability to decide what was of value. He wrote that he had so much to show us. He saved all these newspapers and magazines. The room that was to be mine is crammed with clothes  and toys he’d bought each year but never got rid of.”

“Wow!’”

Even with all the clutter the house was organized. We made our way though to the kitchen. It was stacked with sets of dishes still in boxes but it was spotless. I was expecting rotted food. The bathroom was clean though piled with towels and children’s bath products.

“As they wouldn’t let him send money to us he started to do this. When I first came in ….,” Vasili began to cry. “… I realized this is how he channeled his love for us while we were told there he had given up on us.”

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M M M

Mano Solo: La Marmaille Nue (1993). This is a pleasant stand-alone cd that I picked up in Montreal back in 1994. The music is frisky – a perfect combination of Kurt Weill & Jacques Brel with a dash of the musical Cabaret – sort of what Rufus Wainwright was aiming for 🙂 Songs about love, beer & man’s indifference to man. A great introduction to French music.

Then there’s Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Music For The People (1991) a great introduction to music by guys who looked good in underwear. Was he decent rapper? Who knows. The album itself is brilliantly produced. The borrow of Good Vibrations featuring Loretta Holloway – works because the original is a dynamic & Marky rides that piano wave. The same for his re-imagining of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. What ever happened to the Funky Bunch? I guess they didn’t want movie careers.

More M with Gay Marvine: Secret Fixes Mixes; It’s Bath House Etiquette! A couple of very queer dance collections remixed by Marvine. He has an ear for old school disco & I love his tracks. These are part of a 7.3 hr mp3 cd collection that also includes – Boots: Aquaria – electro dance;  Disclosure: Caracal (Deluxe) – more fun electro dance; Ab Soto: Mr. Soto electro dance with a latino funky beat & great queer, sex-postive lyrics; Julio Bashmore: Knockin’ Boots – guess what: gas positive elctro dance music;  Manila Luzon: Eternal Queen – one of the many dance diva drag queen discovered by Drag Race. Higher energy & I love ‘Bitch I’m A Bottom’ 

Finally on this collection is the retro-classic Joe Bataan: Anthology – more of that high energy stuff with a real latino grounding & less electronic. Bataan reaches back to the early days of disco. Yet he fits in perfectly with the more recent work by Ab Soto.


“We thought he had just left us. Abandoned us for decadent western living. That’s what the authorities told us. That our Dad couldn’t cope with his responsibilities to the State. He didn’t love us enough to come home. They showed us letters from him that said that. Our mother didn’t recognize the handwriting. We sent Christmas cards but now I doubt if he ever got our letters or cards to him. Once he had defected that was it.”

“But he did care for you. I remember he was so proud to have sons, and was so sad that he couldn’t be there with you.”

“Then why did he leave us there. We never really understood then. Going though his papers here I find that he spent a lot of time trying to get them to let us join him here but they blocked him at every turn. Your government didn’t help. I doubt they even tried.

“Not my area, as they say. There’s a point were everything is classified, so who knows what the truth is. Could have been some bureaucrat didn’t trust him and that was that.”

Vasili nodded. “Yes we have learned how much was suppressed over the years. It helps a bit now but then we thought it was all his fault. Particularly when our mother died. We had no one. We expected him to show up at the funeral. I don’t know if he knew she had passed away.”

“Things have changed. I hope.”

“Not that it is much better here in the long run. Do you know anything about that time he was assaulted.”

“Not much, just that it happened.”

“He ultimately died from his injuries from that assault. In his papers there’s a letter from the country prosecutor stating that they don’t press charges because the men involved would claim he had sexually interfered with them.”

“What!”

‘It went on to say that even if this wasn’t true, such an allegation would be difficult to disprove and did he want to have this taint on his public reputation. He could be deported.”

My Dad’s remarks about Mr. Razov now made sense to me.

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