Playground 2 – The Mindful Kiss

First the bad news – Andrew Gurza came down with flu & couldn’t attend the Conference. I was looking forward to meeting him, if he had time with his many fans around him. The good news – I slept well & got up with time for a walk up Bay & down Yonge back to the hotel. I’m rarely in this area & the amount of construction is amazing.

I got back for the 10 a.m. Opening Keynote – The Intersection of Race and Polyamory presented by Kevin Patterson. Samantha Fraser open by acknowledging the natives who were on these lands before it was colonized. Kevin’s talk gave many of us the opportunity to consider the nature of race, representation (as opposed to tokenism) & inclusivity, but not only in the polyamory community.

On registration I was grateful to see how inclusive the Playground was with a large number of p.o.c present. All body types were represented. Watching people pick their pronoun stickers it was fun to see how many took several options. Looking around the room this morning I was more aware of clothing colours than anything else. Lots of, gasp, black & an equal quantity of purple/mauve. My orange was an anomaly (go figure).

His talk covered such a range of topics within the polyamory community but many of them spill over into all alternative conversations where inclusivity often means – we’re open to all who can afford our ticket price. I was struck how much poly is defined by one man, two bi-women. Are there any one women, two bi-men situations? I enjoyed the talk, bought the book & had him sign it. Sweet.

I skipped the next set of sessions for an extended lunch break. At 1:30 I took in Shame and Sexuality with Shadeen Francis. More than could be absorbed was squeezed into this excellent workshop. We looked at how cultural sexual shame permeates our personal feelings about sex itself, regardless what sort of sex one engages in.

It brought to mind one area of shame in my life right now. In the past I’ve sent my brother & sisters copies of everyone of my chapbooks except the most recent one – why? Because it is more sexually explicit than any of the others. One piece is about my experience as a bottom. So perhaps my shame is about bottoming? But I’ve sold over an hundred copies without that concern. Hmm something to ponder.

I skipped the next set of sessions and went back at 4:30 for The Quick and Dirty: Mindfulness for Men Who Have Sex with Men with Joshua Peters, R.P. and Dr. Rylie Moore. To be fair this was neither quick nor dirty. I was dismayed that the presenters felt the need to use, what they called, GP language so as not offend or trigger anyone. We did a sensory exercise mindfully  savouring a chocolate-covered strawberry.

One of the men I see regularly is an amazing kisser. This is a mindful kiss in which each step is savoured. We start fully clothed, touching with lips only – space between our bodies, no hands, just the graze of lips, after a few moments – tentative tongue tips – bellies touch, he hugs when he’s ready – each moment is intense & intimate. What follows isn’t as slow or gentle but intense. The mindful kiss 🙂

Aphrodisiac

I know you’re sore

because that gal you’d been hitting on

walked out on you

after three drinks

I heard you moan to your pals

about how the last two chicks you dated

dumped you via text message

how one of them still won’t return your calls

how they turn into such selfish bitches

when they know they can get

what they want from you

I’ve heard it all night

but just because I’m a clean old queer

doesn’t mean I have any interest

in chowing down on your heterosexual meat

because the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac

 

it takes more than a moan and sob story

to get me interested

I agree it’s too bad

every woman you’ve known

thinks you are some sort of egotistic jerk

who only thinks of himself

when all you want to do is please them in bed

then roll over to fall asleep

and I suppose it’s unreasonable

that you show up on time very time

you say you’re going to pick them up after work

yeah I guess those bitches are just lazy

unfair and expect way too much

when all Wall you want to do

is kick back with your buds every now and then

or spend a few hours watching TV all weekend

I can see how that is pretty mean

but the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac

 

you may think I’m one of those

predatory homos you are sure

are always lurking around

that I’m hungry for any straight guy

to come along and fall

into my eager mouth

well honey you are living in a dream world

the fact that I checked out our jeans

was because I was wondering where you got them

and why are you wearing those ratty shoes

so why don’t you go back to your buds

and bitch and moan with them

because you aren’t getting anything

out of me either

if them nasty hos

you always end up with

aren’t interested I’m certainly not

because the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac mac

March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Slam: 8 pm Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Feature D’Scribe

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Don Ellis Haiku

I had the lp of horn player Don Ellis’s Haiku- purchase used at Cheapies because of the title. On the east coast I owned his live double lp Tears of Joy – which, at that time, was too jazzy for me – so I was tentative about anything else by him but the concept of jazz Haiku appealed to me. Each piece is based on, gasp, a Haiku (which were included on the liner). Very nice.

Tears of Joy was left behind when I moved from the east coast but some tracks stuck in my head so when I got high-speed I tracked it down.  But both have been replaced with mp3 versions. I quite enjoy Tears of Joy now: adventurous with wild time signatures & a lot fun. On another mp3 collection I have his How Time Passes which features the amazing pianist Jackie Byard: this is full force fine experimental nearly free form jazz & excellent but not for beginners 🙂 

How did I even end up with Tears of Joy? That is due to Chuck Mangione’s Friends & Love – a live double lp that was hugely popular & I guess still is. Another horn player with pretty good taste doing show with an orchestra. I was never impressed by the orchestra as it was merely jazz with strings. This in an lp to cd dupe so I edited out what bored me – the bulk of which was Friends & Love Suite: m.o.r. with tedious lyrics. I love the rest in particular Stanley Watson’s solo acoustic guitar work (which for some reason is dropped from the cd release). This is jazz for beginners.

 

I rounded out this cd with various traditional Chinese music recordings. Yin Biao: Tradition Chinese Melodies, Tradition Ensemble; WU Zhaoji: Wumen Qin Music. A fitting counter point to the Haiku. I enjoy this music with is odd harmonies, sonics & percussions.

Name

The ashes in the grate were cold. The room was cold. It smelled of sleep, someone sleeping there but who was not there now. That stale tired body smell. The bed was cold. The cupboards were bare.

‘There’s nothing here.’ The Officer Browne looked to his partner Sgt. Leaf.

‘Nothing.’ Leaf nodded. ‘Are you sure of your facts Mr. Axworthy?’

‘Yes. I mean there was … my mother-in-law was here only yesterday. My little girl saw her. Spoke with her.’

‘And where is this little girl now?’

‘She should be here too. Now I … we sent her out this morning with … ’ his eyes darted about the room to find the basket, ‘this. Food for Grandma Hubbard. Nothing much. Some preserves, bread.’

Officer Browne lifted the dish cloth off the basket. It was empty. Cold. ‘Nothing in it now. Seems to have been set here some time.’ He moved the basket off the bed. A clear spot in the dust remained where the basket had been ‘How long you think it takes dust to settle like that Sgt. Leaf? How long.’

‘Good question sir. Forensics will be here soon.’

‘Forensics? We have no evidence of anything. Yet.’ his large eyes turned on Jack. ‘So let’s hear this story once again.’

‘I was chopping wood. Just a couple of hours ago. Lunch time. The missus had called me in but I had this feeling in my gut, I sensed danger for my little girl. A wolf had been seen in these here parts.’

‘Wolf?’

‘Yep.’

‘First we heard of one of those.’

‘So I came to Grandma Hubbard’s cottage as fast as I could but …’ he began to sob.

‘This was all you found.’

‘Thanks, right. Nothing. Empty.’

‘And this?’ Sgt. Leaf held up the axe. The blade rimmed red with a flame of fresh wet blood.

‘I … I don’t know. I got here and saw … the wolf … I swung the axe at him.’

‘Again with this wolf. Funny there isn’t any sign of a wolf here now. Not even a drop of blood, fur. Nothing. Nada. Now this little girl of yours. What was her name? A description.’

‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

‘Yeah so much for what she was wearing. We need a name. What was her name?’

‘Name??’

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March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Workshop: 4 pm at Glad Day with D’Scribe.

March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Slam: 8 pm Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Feature D’Scribe

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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April 03 – every Tuesday

June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org 

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Judy Garland

I recently watched Girl Crazy starring Judy Garland and Micky Rooney. Gershwin music & songs made for a diverting movie though the actually excuse of a script wasted time that should have been spent on songs. Judy is astonishing though. Her acting is better than needed and her singing, even at that age, was a force to be reckoned with. The story of how Hollywood treated her is well-known – needless to say Hollywood has never known what to do with such colossal talent beyond control & monetize it. Judy didn’t have what it took to resist their manipulation. 

I’ve a pair of cds that are transfers from lps: Judy Garland’s Best & 16 greatest hits. Best was a double compilation from her movies. So many classics that have been covered by countless singers but none have matched the emotional power of Garland. The longing of You Made Me Love You or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is palpable – songs that can still push my emotional buttons with not only nostalgia but a sadness for how she was manipulated by Hollywood. She was their cash cow not a brilliant sensitive performer.

16 Greatest Hits is a late career live performance. It was on some obscure Italian label that I came across at, maybe, Sam’s. Her voice is still strong but unsteady. A few of the Best of songs appear here – such as Over The Rainbow. There is a bit of audience patter between songs. It does include perhaps my favourite of her songs – The Man That Got Away – with an evocative sax accompaniment that underlines her emotionally commitment to the song. That’s one of the reasons I find her so compelling – she sings with an emotional commitment to to the lyric that few performers do without over-singing in that Star Search way. I believe her joy and her sadness.

That she became a gay icon is no surprise. I wouldn’t call myself a fan. I’ve enjoyed her movies, watched her TV shows on youtube but that has been enough for me. She wore her troubles on her face and her voice. Vulnerable without being melodramatic. She’s the gift that got away.

Axe Bite

Jack watched the reflection of the sun on his axe as it flashed through the air. He saw the reflection the moment before the blade sunk into the wood. The bite was solid, clean and with just enough force to do the job and no more. He was a man in control of his body, of his instrument.

He stood to wipe the sweat off his brow. He watched as Little Red walked along the path into the wood. He felt pride. His daughter. She was perfect in all ways. Sweet face. Ready smile and happy laughter.

That was why he had married. He didn’t really want a wife but he wanted a daughter. A child. Something of his own besides the cottage and the forest. They were things, she was a life.

A son would be nice too but Mabel wasn’t ready for more. Some enchantment of her mother’s he supposed. Women in these parts didn’t seem to bear more than one child in a life time.

His axe bit into another length of tree. Swing. Thwang. White chunks of the wood fall to the forest floor. The chop echoed a moment and stopped.

He strained his ears to hear the hum of her. Little Red’s song as she skipped along the path, he saw that picture clear in his mind.

His eyes focused on the axe, almost mirror like, his face a slippery smear of eyes and mouth. His mind’s eye saw Little Red stop and face the wolf before going on.

The wolf!

She wasn’t safe as long as there was a predator in the wood. His wood.

‘Jack! Jack.’ his wife called. She stood at the edge of the clearing, waving her apron. ‘You must eat now. I have a lunch spread for you. Come.’

‘Yes. I’ll be there shortly.’

His axe danced through the air to split another log.

‘No, Jack you must come now. You think I slaved all morning just to have to tell me to wait. No. Come now.’

He looked to her and sighed. Even when she meant well she gave him no peace. Never a moment to breath. One task after the other.

He stroked the sharp blade of the axe and headed into the wood along the path Little Red had taken.

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March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Workshop: 4 pm at Glad Day with D’Scribe.

March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Slam: 8 pm Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Feature D’Scribe

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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April 03 – 

June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org 

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More More More Garbage

Moving along the shelf brings me to G starting with Garbage. I have in a pair of mp3 collections: 1, Version 2.0, Beautiful Garbage, Platinum Collection 2000, Bleed Like Me, Absolute Greatest Hits. At one time I had the first two as stand-alone’s my replaced them with mp3. This is a solid pop/rock band – similar to The Eurythmics: female lead singers with male guitarist writer – though I suspect Annie Lennox had more creative input than Shirley Manson & she also has a more emotionally compelling voice. It’s ‘Only Happy When it Rains’ verses “Here Comes That Rain Again.”

I liked those first two lps & enjoyed the ironic sardonic play of the lyrics. Shirley is a fine pop singer too but they didn’t get me. Their sound was crispy but not that distinctive. I lost interest after Version 2.0. The bad itself went though creative changes too. The other two lps are solid but more of the same. Collection 2000 are singles & movie songs that didn’t make to their ‘real’ lps, Hits is just that with alternative remixes of a few tracks.

To round out these two cd’s I did my usual historical sweep focusing mainly on female vocalists. There’s some Amanda Lear: I Am A Photograph, Sweet Revenge – Amanda has a gruff voice – male or female? Which is a part of Amanda’s appeal. The music is disco but the writing is experimental & fun & sexual. More true to disco is Andrea True Connection: More More More. This is fun stuff that brings back dancing days memories though at the time I couldn’t stand them.

Here too is Joss Stone: Lp 1 – an amazing voice & great material too. This started her career and the momentum kept up. More when I get ’s’. Now I step back to pioneers. Christine Perfect; self named lps from 1970 – reflects her time with Chicken Shack – more bluesy that she was with Fleetwood Mac but one can hear her influence on that band’s later sound. A sweet if not powerful voice this is relaxing & sort of romantic music.

The opposite is true of The Pretenders: Last of the Independents. Chrissie Hynde is a force of nature. This lp is for 1994 but could be released tomorrow & sound as fresh. Her influence on female pop cannot be denied. So I added Hole’s Celebrity Skin to this collection. Powerful brash angry & great fun. Too bad the pop machine chewed up Courtney Love. She needed a bit more of Hynde’s toughness.

Finally a pair of mid career Laura Nyro’s Smile, Nested. I’ve he’d these on Lp, as cassettes. These are sweet, emotionally rich, and romantically soothing albums. Not as bombastic as her early work and well worth searching out. Laura Nyro was a genius.

Upon A Time

Grandma Hubbard squinted at the clock.

Where was that girl?

Useless thing she turned out to be. Why I ever let her daughter marry that wood cutter I’ll never know. Common that man. Jack was just plain common and there was simply no way around that. But the wood does keep my little cottage warm. Can’t argue with that but still, common is common and no amount of wood would ever make up for that common streak.

Common. Common. Common. The clock ticked on the word.

Where was that girl?

After all I made her that riding cloak so she could take the walk here, keep her warm and make her look good. Never saw such a piece of work that that cloak. Such a rich deep red. Never see its like again would they. But it didn’t seem to do much for that girl. What was her name? Once was a time I knew her name but now all she is Little Red Riding Hood. Easy to remember.

An old woman like myself doesn’t have time to remember all the time I have to remember. It just slips down and away like the ticks of the clock. Each tick gone and never to be heard again.

Grandma Hubbard got off her bed and paced to the window. A lovely day. Ah yes. Haven’t seen one better since yesterday. She laughed to herself. She went back to the bed and sat on it.

Where was that girl?

It near lunch time and I’m feeling peckish. Sustenance was on its way or had better be. That ungrateful Mabel better have sent along some of that bread.

The cupboards here were bare. Always bare. Never enough food for more than a day. What where they afraid of? That I’d eat too much and get big and strong like I once was. Yes, that was it. Their plot to keep her a weak and foolish old woman just to get her gold. Her precious gold. Where was´ that gold? Where had she hidden it? Behind the mirror?

‘Foolish woman there is no gold. You know that.’ the mirror answered. ‘Just your old face. You’re getting old by the second. Older and older.’

She turned from the mirror.

Where was that girl?

Something, anyone. Why didn’t they let me live with them in their cottage. It was big enough. Bigger than this little one I’m in. Why can’t I just leave. Yes, I can go out and never come back. Run through the woods and be free. I’m old enough to be free. I deserved it.

All this waiting around for the kindness of others wasn’t what I was cut for. Free. I have to be free of all this. She wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and opened the door.

‘Gruff. Groowl.’ The wolf was there.

‘Why! if it isn’t my little doggie. Where have you been? I’ve missed you so much. Come in come in.’

The wolf leapt for her throat.

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Lykn #Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn comes from a time when there were no pop stars pumping out hit songs & political controversy every week just to remain in the public eye. But his fame & acclaim was wide. Pop has taken the place of the classical composer. No one regards Springsteen with the same musical reverence they hold for Schubert.

 

 

I have a fair bit of Haydn in my classical collection. So much in fact that his music always in rotation on my iPod. As a result of commissions he wrote for every instrument & combination of instruments available in his time – flute, cello, piano even glass harmonica. Musician for hire.

At one time I had his complete piano sonatas on Lp thanks to the Musical Heritage Society (MHS) which I replaced with a boxset of Masterworks – 40 cds – that bought at HMV for $39.99, that box includes the complete sonatas, along with Symphonies 52-104; loads of choral music, organ music, masses, cello/trumpet concertos. When did he sleep?

I have as stand alone’s his: Stabat Mater; solo piano music; Violin Concerti – compositions not included the in 40 cd set – I repeat ‘not included.’ There is music for another 40 cd box set I suspect. I have enough but being a bit of a completest if I run across that set I’d buy it too 🙂

The music is all delightful, frequently emotionally compelling – in particular the choral music. Much of his instrumental music was written for chamber performances & also for ‘amateur’ performers. Haydn is a good place to start a classical collection. The piano music is tidy & approachable, the chamber music relaxing & the symphonies easy on the ears.

Once Upon A Beginning

What’s that smell? There was something in the air. Something tasty. Good. Yummy. The wolf’s stomach growled in anticipation. Mmmm. He moved through the underbrush. The smell was coming closer. Not rabbit. No couldn’t be rabbit. No stray cat ever smelt this good. So tasty. The wolf drooled.

How long has it been since there’s been anything more than scrawny birds to munch here. Too long. Much too long. What was that smell? It came closer. A shape moved in the woods. Not too far away. He ran quickly toward it.

He stood at the edge of a clearing. The smell came from there. A pile of something that shifted and moved. He moved closer, careful. It might be one of those traps that grabbed paws and broke legs.

The shape shifted and eyes met his.

‘Oh Mr Wolf!’

There was no fear in the sounds the shape made.

‘I was fixing my shoe. It had come undone.’

The wolf put his nose in the air and sniffed.

‘Oh ho you can’t have these.’ The shape covered the object it was carrying. ‘These are for my Grandma but, my, they smell good. Doön’t they?’ The shape lifted a corner and sweet smells came out. No they weren’t the smell the wolf had noticed.

‘Grr grool.’ the wolf’s eyes met the shapes eyes.

‘Ohh no you can’t have any of this. It isn’t for you.’

‘Grrrgh woof.’

‘No use begging me.’

The shape stood taller than he’d expect. On two legs. The smell was stronger now.

‘Gruff grwoo.’ he pawed the ground.

‘No use beginning that sort of behavior. I can’t give you anything.’ The shape moved away and stopped. ‘But I’ll make a deal with you. If you can tell me my name. My real name. Then I’ll give you all you want.’

The corner of the object was lifted again. The sweet smell turned the wolf’s stomach. ‘Deal?’

‘Grrug grool.’ the wolf stretched out his front legs and raised his tail.

‘How sweet to bow down like that. You are a smart one Mr Wolf. Smart enough to find out my name?’

Oh yes my tasty one. Your name is on the tip of my tongue – meat – fresh tender meat.

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Pal Galas

At the the Stratford Festival gift shop I picked up this cd of Jane Froman that features two of her early 50’s lps. With A Song In My Heart, and the Broadway cast recording of Pal Joey. Like many singers their lives are more interesting than their song choices or even vocal ability. I’ve seen the film Pal Joey & was mystified by the casting – Kim Kovak? But some of the songs have become jazz classics. The price was right too & I wanted to add something by this legendary singer.

With a Song is the film about Froman’s life with Susan Hayward as Jane. Hayward specialized in tormented yet glamorous women – the greater the suffering the great the challenge – Jane’s life was classic emotional soap opera stuff. She recorded these songs for the film & even assisted Hayward in lip-syncing them. A nice voice & classic material: i.e. Embraceable You. Safe stuff & without the drama of her life nothing memorable.

On the shelf beside Jane is the much more challenging Diamanda Galas. The Sporting Life goes back to 1994. She’s working with John Paul Jones here & as a result the songs are more structured. She has one of those 1000 octave voices that soars the whole range in a single swoop. The music is powerful, the lyrics are political, mystical & emotionally charged. She uses her voice as an instrument words become secondary and a few songs are in a language only birds understand.

Red’s Real Name

‘What’s my name? My real name?’

‘Whatever do you mean Red.’ Red’s mom fitted another jar of jam in the basket and lifted it by the handle. ‘Well that doesn’t seem to be too heavy.’

‘You know what I mean Mom. You are Mabel Axworthy. Daddy is Jack Axworthy but I’m Little Red Riding Hood, L.R.R Hood. If your name was Mabel Hood this might make sense, but it isn’t.’

‘Now, now Red don’t bother your head with such fantasies.’

‘Or is Hood my real Daddy’s last name? Is that it.’

‘Red, please. Why do we have to go over this time after time. Ever since your Granny knit this cute cunning sweet warm red riding hood and cloak for you you’ve been known as Little Red Riding Hood. Simple as that.’

‘Yes,’ Red stomped her foot on the dusty cottage floor. ‘You’ve told me that story time after time. But I’ve never even ridden anything. Didn’t I have a name before that? Wee poopy pants?’

‘You’ll have to ask your father. I really don’t remember what we called you before that.’

‘Mom! Really. I know that just isn’t so. I had some name. I must have. Or did you just find me in the woods?’

‘Yes that’s it honey. We found you in the shadow under a cabbage.’

‘No no no.’ Red put her hands over her ears. ‘Not the stork story again.’

Mom tucked a dish cloth over the top of the basket. ‘This is ready for you. Maybe your grandma remembers your name? I’m sure she will, she never forgets anything. Never.’

Red picked up the basket. ‘Whew this is pretty heavy Mom.’

‘No more than usual.’

Red peeked under the cover. The smells of jam and fresh bread made her mouth water.

‘Maybe I should have a little something to eat before I go.’

‘You’ve just had a big breakfast girl. No. Get going if you want to get back here before nightfall.’

‘That’s another thing. What’s this big fuss about nightfall.’

‘Ohh you’re too young to worry about that.’

‘Yeah thanks. Anything else you can not tell me? No name, be home before dark – all these things and not even a hint as to what they might mean.’

‘Trust us.’ Mom kissed Red on the forehead as she pulled the ties of the riding cloak tight. ‘Keep warm and run along.’

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June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org 

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Psychegalic Quebec France Belgium

On two mp3 collections I have gathered over 12 hours of French pop that spans generations, genres & continents. At one time CanCon in Quebec limited the quantity of English music on the radio which during the 60’s & 70’s, resulted in cover versions by PQ groups. I love this music & here I have Quebecois Girl Groups; Les Aristos:Le Top 30; Les Hou-Lops: Le Top 30. Not all are cover versions but much of it is.

The CanCon also resulted is fine home-grown talent such as Eric Lepointe: Le ceil de mes combats (more about Eric when I get to ‘l’); Les B.B. – solid pop that slips from Steve Miller like rock to blues to sweet ballads; Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Entre la jeunesse et le sagesse – iconic music by these Canadian icons; Richard Seguin: Journée d’Amérique – an amazing & emotionally powerful singer with a deep history inPQ folk/rock/blues.

From Europe comes Collectors Items From Belgium – a collection of 60’s surf instrumentals music by various combos. Serge Gainsbourg: l’histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge is a latter day Brel but unlike Brel never made much of an impression in North America. Plastic Bertand: Plastiquez vos baffles – I love Bertand – he’s adapted his sound from punk, to new wave, to disco & here he channels the Beach Boys! I had this as a cassette & was happy to replace it with mp3. It’s a treat. Psychegalic – I love the title of this compilation of various bands heavily influenced by 60’s psychedelic. It include some tracks by Les 5 Gentlemen: Plus Grands Succes – that I enjoyed so I traced down their hits collection.

Madame: Eldorado – is a power pop group in the U2 mold. More about them when I get to ‘m’. Finally in a the tradition Claude Nougaro: Collection Prestige. I caught a video for his Paris Man & loved it. More easy listening than rock & he’s fond of Latin rhythms & Louis Armstrong type jazz. All great fun & if you want to explore music outside of English pop all of these are great starters.

Red Yellow Green

Tom panned the camera slowly up and down the unconscious form on the bed. Frank had insisted that they record as many details as they could before the boy came to.

There was band of  white feathers tied around one of the boy’s leg. On his upper arm was another band of feathers, only these were black. There was also a band of yellow and green beads wrapped around his cock and balls. The paint smeared on his torso was powdery yet none of it flaked off onto the bedding.

‘Turn him over.’ Tom whispered. He stepped back to refocus the camera.

Frank gingerly put his hands on the prone form. The flesh was warm, damp. Dry paint came off on his hands.

‘How?’ he held his hands up. ‘On me but not on the sheets?’

Tom shrugged. ‘Turn him over.’

The boy’s body rolled over easily. His back was streaked with the same red, yellow and green with a large, black zig zag circle at the base of his spine.

‘Tattoo?’ Tom asked as he brought the lens closer to the marking. He brushed it with one finger. The paint smeared, stained his finger, as the paint had done to Frank’s hand.

‘Roll him back.’

Tom put down the camera and went to the bathroom to wash his hands. Frank joined him.

‘Sleeping beauty was here to protect us?’

The colors wouldn’t come off in the hot water; wouldn’t come off when they dried their hands on a towel.

They returned to the bed. The teen remained motionless. Breathing lightly with his arms stretched stiffly at his side.

‘What should we do?’

‘Let try  – what was the name he told us to call him, Tango?’

‘Mambo.’

‘Right. Mambo. Mambo.’ Frank gently shook the boy by the shoulder. ‘Mambo we need you help. We need your protection.’

The form on the bed shook violently. A jet of urine spurted out of him. Yellow and it stank.

‘PU. God. What do these kids drink anyway?’

Mambo’s eyes opened wide. His fingers stretched till the bones cracked and his body levitated off the bed.

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Francy Boland – Kenny Clarke Big Band Plus

Christy Doran: Red Twist & Turned Arrow – this is an ECM release that I bought in July 1994. I never heard of it but I was willing to buy anything on the ECM label because of the quality of their releases. It was probably on sale too 🙂 The music is anxious jazz. Busy without ever being disharmonious. Restless explorations with guitars, drums, synthesizers. If you come across it grab it.

Rounding out my Ellington mp3 collections are several great albums. Francy Boland-Kenny Clarke Big Band: Open Door – back in the 80’s, a good friend had this lps & I made a cassette dupe of it. This is excellent big band work in a muscular modern (even then) mode. In fact I love it so much that on listening to it last month I downloaded another 4 lps by this big band: Live recordings, Last Train From Berlin, Off Limits, Calypso Blues . Very satisfying jazz. check them out.

Buddy Rich: Big Swing Face – I had this double lp way back in the 70’s before I moved to Toronto from Cape Breton. Similar to Boland big band, this a live set driven by Rich’s drumming. I love several of these tracks & the ambient nightclub sound gives it a very summery feel. Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – a dynamic trumpet player who worked with Coltrane, Davis amongst others. This was another first found in the 80’s my friend’s collection & replaced with mp3.

Booker Ervin: Structurally Sound – I have several of Erivn’s lps in my collection. I first found him at Cheapies – a double set. A bop sax player with a rich sound & a propulsive exploration of great material. Influenced by Coltrane but never as ‘daring.’  More about him when I get to ‘e.’ Yusef Lateef: In A Temple Garden – anther great sax player with a ear for world music sounds. This started as a Cheapie’s lp that I was happy to upgrade to mp3. More about him when I get to ‘l.’

Finally two by Bud Shank: In Africa, Sunshine Express. Another big band leader who recorded extensively, worked with world music before it became a genre. Better than easy listening but not as compelling as Francy Boland – Kenny Clarke Big Band. All worth tracking down.

Pain After Death

‘Is there pain after death?’ Tom looked over to Frank. ‘That’s what were here to find out, isn’t it?’

‘Not entirely. But that’s a good notion to work with. I doubt if there is pain after death, with no attachment to the nerve endings, no corporal presence to to be connected to, there is nothing to feel the pain.’

‘Physical pain but what about emotional pain, spiritual pain?’

‘Spiritual pain? When have you ever felt spiritual pain?’

‘Yeah. I have. It’s a restless emptiness that can’t be filled with people, places or things. When I use them to sooth that pain, it only gets worse. The spiritual remedy is the only one that has helped.’

‘Well, we are certainly in a philosophical frame of mind this morning.’

‘Must be my Season of Change. ‘What has been started, continues in each of us, even if we don’t know it.’ ’

‘That’s from Dr. Melburton’s book?’

‘I think so. It’s what made me come with you. To find out what there was to find out here.’

‘So you believe there is a power here.’

‘Here, there and everywhere. Hiding. Always hidden.’

‘Only we don’t know what we might find.’

‘We know what we hope to find. That’s a start isn’t it.’

‘And we hope to find out if there’s pain after death?’

‘Something like that. I’ve felt something around me since we heard that chant. You have too haven’t you Frank?’

‘I suppose. Seems the air is more humid today.’

‘Rainy season is creeping up.’

‘The dead are just hiding and we are seeking them.’

‘What?’

‘Something my Dad once told me. He said they have merely passed beyond mortal sight.’

‘As if life were hide and seek … I kind of like that image. They’ve merely hidden and we may never find them.’

‘Oh, we’ll find them. The harder we seek the sooner we’ll find them.’

‘Then perhaps we’d better stop looking so hard.’ Tom laughed uneasily. ‘I don’t think I’m ready to …’

A flash of lightening was followed by a nearby clap of thunder. The drinking glasses on the bathroom sink rattled.

‘Very close.’

‘I have come to protect you.’ a voice spoke froim behind them.

They turned and the leader of the boys they had seen two nights ago, was on the balcony of their room. His body streaked with raw, red paint, daubed with splotches of darker red, white and almost glowing yellow. He was naked.

There was another ground-shaking crash of thunder. The rain started. Heavy. Thick rain that darkened the room.

The boy stepped into the room and collapsed on the bed.

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Echos Of a Yule Log

Is there Christmas music that isn’t cheesy? I do love cheesy music but even I have my limits. There’ll be no Alvin & The Chipmunks in my festive music collection. Elvis is close enough, right? Over the years my seasonal music collection has grown to include traditional to ‘modern’ classics & the wtf! All of which gets at least an annual airing.

It’s not all music though – On two cds I have a nice bunch of Dicken’s Christmas stories, thanks to LibriVox. I started with A Christmas Carol – by far my favorite & I love having this full, unabridged version. Over the years I’ve added The Chimes, The Cricket on The Hearth, The Battle of Life, The Haunted Man. Carol is the only one I can listen to every year. There’s also two radio shows: Ronald Coleman in Carol; Charles Laughton reading a Pickwick Christmas. Add Dylan Thomas Welsh memories & the cheese crown goes to Million Dollar Man’s 4 little season tales.

Scattered over several mp3 collections I have classics by the Beach Boys, Brenda Lee, Kirsten Sandwich, The Ventures, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder. Two holdovers from my youth Eddie Fisher, and my mother’s crush Mario Lanza. Jazz with Jimmy Smith, Jingle Bell Jazz, Jazz To The World. Modern classics by Phil Spector – a must have. Old school with Doris Days, Jo Stafford, Gisele McKenzie. New skool with Big Freedia, Myke Massei’s Flurries

But wait there’s more: The Surfers: Christmas From Hawaii is delightful. Rojak’s Christmas soul collection is a masterpiece. Top these off with various sets of clarions, bells & choirs, Early English Christmas. Bryan Trefel doing Welsh carols, music mix in James Brown’s great work and we’re cooking for the season. Added this year: Liberace: Christmas Music. Finally two of my favourites: Booker T’s In The Christmas Spirit; Rotary Connection’s Peace – ever wonder what Hendrix would do with Silent Night? Fa la la la.

Fog Tarantella

for too many years

I was in a tree top

shouting out for love

I didn’t care where it came from

the louder I shouted the less I heard

the higher I climbed

the further I was from it

I didn’t think of climbing down

I wanted the love that was in the air

not the common stuff of the earth

 

a snow flurry

ended a long hot autumn

of yelling myself hoarse

give me love  I want love

flakes at first a few darting specks

then a steady scrim hush

to cool my fevered tongue

letting the sky satisfy

as best it could because

the sky doesn’t love back

except with echoes

 

while the snow cloaked me

my own limbs mantled like branches

a peacock

that at a distance has stunning beauty

clumsily descended squawking

it settled by me

this close it was motley stinking

our eyes met as he opened

a breathtaking fan of tail feathers

my shouting stopped

I reached out to touch

fell into a mist

earth bound by beauty

 

through the winter fog

men danced

their arms around wisps of white

the imagined bodies of lovers

caressing the backs

touching the hair

making it as real as they could

kissing empty haze

 

would I be bold enough

to allow one of these dancing men

to dance with me

before I escaped the snow

before I climbed a tree

lost in the fog

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French, German, Dutch

Next on the shelf is the first of 3 mp3 cd collections of French, German, Dutch etc music starting of with one of my favourite soundtracks from one of my favourite Roger Vadim movies – Barbarella. Jane Fonda is wonderful, though a Bardot clone, in this crazy mess of a movie. The music is lounge sweet & has absolutely no scifi tinges. I loved this music when I first saw the movie decades ago & when I got high speed was happy to hunt it down.

Here too is Plastic Bertrand: An 1. I have some of his other albums scattered though my French music collection. Fun, sardonic & odd. Some of his songs were repurposed by punk bands back in the day. Boudewijn de Groot: Nact en Ontij – glorious progrock electronica – a more rock version of Kraftwerk. Jane Birkin: Di Doo Dah – sweet French pop with an assist from Serge Gainsbourg.

Klaus Bloch: Extrem Musik a la Ping Pong – glorious progrock electronica – a fine version of Kraftwerk. Brigitte Fontaine est folle – psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. Der Moderne Man: 80 Tage Auf See – punky punchy yet easy on the ears. Finally: Jean LeFennec: Phantastic – more psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. All of these come 60’s/70’s and all (except Barbarella) reflect the influence of American pop music on European rock.

Mama Gre’loo

‘Rumba?’ Ped gave Jam a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’

‘Just came to me.’ Jam snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’

‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’

‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jam began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’

‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’

‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Pola can be Tango.’

‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they …’

‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’

‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’

‘Ped this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’

‘Since when did that bother you?’

‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’

‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’

‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jam sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jam stood.

‘Don’t they always.’

‘I don’t think …’

‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if  you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’

‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’

‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’

‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’

‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’

‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff all washed off so we can get home.’

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2018

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June – dates t.b.a – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C.

 capfireslam.org 

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