July 2021 Recap

Stratford flower box

Over the past month by TOpoet.ca following blog shrank to 450! I went through my follower list & removed people who were no longer active on WordPress. Active followers show up in a colour, non-active followers show up in black. The WP map does show my hits have come from 32  countries around the world. Nigeria, Bahrain in the top ten! India & Bangladesh holding steady & hola Spain 🙂 Ireland! Lithuania?

Most popular posts were: My Five Year (Dead Friends) (https://topoet.ca/2021/07/04/dead-friends/), Summer Murderer (https://topoet.ca/2021/07/13/summer-murderer/). Both of which are my personal favourites.

Shakespeare Pie Shop mmm

My Tumblr is at 331 followers. Twitter is at 224 followers.

Picture Perfect: 78 sections, about 116000 words posted so far with  approx 73,000 to be edited then posted. 

TLN (https://www.tln.ca) does an occasional Italian film festival of mostly recent films – films that don’t show up anywhere else on TV. Comedies for the most part but always with a sharp social bite & sometimes a dash of romance. One I really enjoyed was The Man Who Bought The Moon – set in Sardinia, one gets a glimpse of the political & social regard of the island by the rest of Italy. Our hero first has to be taught how to pass for a Sardinian. Hilarious at points & finally the moon itself appears to save the day. Charming & well worth searching out.

That touch of magic realism owes everything to Fellini. I watched, for the first time, his Roma – there is some bravura film making in this virtually plotless movie. There are reference to his past films & even a hint of Amacord which he already planning.. Impressions of his past mixed with look at his present film making. Fascinating.

from the gift shop

God’s Own Country – I was given this dvd for Xmas a few years ago & finally got around to seeing it. A refreshing gay love story in which coming out is not a part of it. Set on a sheep farm it is far removed from the usual druggy, bar scene fodder. Our hero becomes involved with Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, is hired as extra help. Played by Josh O’Connor & Alec Secăreanu, respectively, they make photogenic couple. Similar to Brokeback Mountain one is not surprised when good looking men find each other attractive. Josh played Prince Charles in The Crown so I thought of this as the The Prince & The Underwear Model. 

Read the excellent Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! by Steve Rebello. A behind the scenes look at the making of Valley Of The Dolls – one of my favourite movies. He also goes into the writing of the book & JS’s career. Full of juicy feuds, casting wars & the sad misuse of Judy Garland; this is a great read that reveals as much about how actresses were treated as it does about the business of making movies. Highly recommended.

silk tie on sale at Gift Shop – yes marked down to $1.00 !!

Took a day trip to Stratford. We didn’t see anything – getting tickets online was problematic thanks to the pandemic seating restrictions. The weather was perfect, traffic as usual, lunched at Features, picked up a few things at the Gift Shop, hit the main box-office to reserve spots on a waiting list for Three Tall Women at the end of September – including the time it took to drive there it took as long as it would have on line 🙂 A call from the box-office the next day confirmed we had tickets – no more waiting list waiting for us.

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Five Sweet Mysterians Street

Here’s the next post about a set of mp3 compilations that I put together of old music that was, for the most part, new to me. Many are garage band one-hit wonders, others are psychedelic bands whose lps that never made it to the east coast. Some are ‘oddities’ I came across. Obscure for the most part but all fun fun fun. You can find wiki info of most of them.

Street: Street (1968) – includes: What a Strange Town. This is very Jefferson Airplane. Soaring female lead singer, Anya Cohen, a touch of blues, distorted guitars, harmonies & trippy lyrics. When Airplane many labels wanted their own – this band comes close but there is only one Airplane.

Count Five: (San Jose) Psychotic Reaction – includes -My Generation. The song “Psychotic Reaction” is an acknowledged cornerstone of garage rock. I remember loving that single so much at the time with its mind boggling instrumental break. Then nothing – none of their follow ups made the charts & the lp didn’t make to my local record store. Fun energetic music that I love. 

Popol Vuh: Affenstude, released in 1970. This German band is regarded as one of the earliest space music works, featuring the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer together with ethnic percussion. Music ahead of its time for sure. Less robotic than Kraftwerk the band produced several great lps. Space music that on later lps becomes almost spiritual. If you like synthesizer check them out.

Sweetwater: Sweetwater 1968 Los Angeles – includes My Crystal Spider. A jazz-fusion band that was supposed to open Woodstock but they got caught in traffic. With lead signer Nanci Nevins, this was another band that was a Jefferson Airplane rival. The expected trippy lyrics about peace, love & social unrest. A fine lp that won’t disappoint if you track it down.

? & The Mysterians: out of Bay City, 96 Tears (1966) (In The Midnight Hour), Action (1967) – the Latino band’s music consisted of electric organ-driven garage rock and an enigmatic image inspired by the 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians. The lps are energetic & fun & I love them

Clear Blue Sky: Out Of The Blue (1970) British blues prog-rock in the Deep Purple/Uriah Heep mode with a great Roger Dean cover art. If you like obscurity this fills the bill.

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13 Elevators to Fifty Foot War

The next five pop music posts will cover a set of mp3 compilations that I put together of old music that was, for the most part, new to me. Many are garage band, one-hit wonders, others are psychedelic bands whose lps that never made it to the east coast. Several are ‘oddities’ I came across. Obscure for the most part but all fun fun fun. You can find wiki info of most of them.

13th Floor Elevators (Austin, Texas): Psychedelic Sounds of (mostly live) (1966) includes You Really Got Me; Easter Everywhere (1967) – includes  Postures (Leave Your Body Behind). This band claims the first use of the word “psychedelic” in reference to the music so I had to have them, right? Goofy love songs, anti-war rants with heavy reverb, wha-wha, distorted vocals & slithery guitar work. Perfection.

Fireballet: Bald Mountain (1975) – we can thank Emerson, Lake & Palmer for the flourishing of 70’s Symphonic Prog. This British band, produced by Ian McDonald (King Crimson), is a mild version of ELP, The bass sound is a bit ‘thin’ but they work hard, churning out pretentious fun including their 20 minute take on Night of Bald Mountain. 

Archie Bell & The Drells (Huston Texas): Tighten Up (1968) includes Midnight Hour, Knock on Wood. This is the retro odd-one-out. Sweet, soulful, funky & refreshing. Like so many groups of the time, regardless of genre, they did covers of the new standards i.e. Midnight Hour. 

Another legendary band is Fifty Foot Hose (San Francisco): Cauldron (1968) plus Rare tracks. They are remarkable for featuring a variety of homemade synths. This is truly trippy music with speaker-dancing engineering, echo, mystic lyrics, fine singing & spacey instrumental passages. It reminded me of how I thought how music should sound when you’re stoned.

Finally on this compilation is Eric Burdon declares “War” (Long Beach) (1970) includes Tobacco Road, Spill The Wine. Eric Burdon re-invented himself several times, always with fascinating sonic results. This time with War for a couple of great albums full of experimental, almost prog-rock work but always with a blues, r’n’b underpinning. This lp gave him, Spill The Wine, one of his few top ten songs after he disbanded the Animals. Smooth, funky fun. The follow up, Black Man’s Burdon – which I have in another compilation is less funky but still great.

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Still – Sor

Fernando Sor (1778 -1839) – thanks to Andre Segovia grew to enjoy Sor, though it was some time before I ‘knew’ him by name. I have pieces by him scattered through recordings by Boyd, Bream etc. Also 2 stand alones of his complete Guitar Music. Crisp, emotional & adventurous he is worth adding to any classical collection.

I read about William Grant Still (1895 – 1978) known as “Dean of AfroAmerican Composers” a few years ago during Black Heritage month. I am always eager to expand my musical appreciation beyond the accepted European tradition. When I think of modern American classical of composers not many names come to mind – Copeland, Gershwin. Is Scott Joplin classical? 

Wiki says that Still composed almost 200 works, including nine operas,five symphonies,four ballets,plus art songs, chamber music, and works for solo instruments.He composed more than thirty choral works.Many of his works are believed to be lost. Modern classical is such a rarefied niche I’m not surprised if you’ve never heard of him.

On an mp3 collection I have his Chamber Music performed by Videmus Ensemble: Suite for Violin & Piano, Songs of Separation; Piano Music: Visions, Traceries, A Deserted Plantation; Africa, Symphony No 1 Afro-America Symphony. More or less a sampling of his various forms. The music is modern conservative as opposed to modern experimental – melodic, lyrical & sometimes Romantic. Enjoyable – sort of an American Vaughn-Williams.

To round out the Sills cd I hadded: Jewish Tone Poems by Avshalomov; Silver; Meyerowitz – impassioned at points. Music for Two Guitars: Los Indios Tabajaras, Santos/Caceres – lovely cafe classical music. Stamitz/Reinnecke: Works for Flute: more lovely cafe classics. Finally The Wild West: The Essential Western Themes – this is wow collection where you can hear the influences of Copeland, Beethoven, Gershwin on film soundtracks that result is some of the iconically USA symphonic music.

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Randy Newman

Randy Newman’s Sail Away was one of my favourite ‘adult’ pop lps from the 70’s. I say adult, as it wasn’t aimed at the same market as Grand Funk Railroad or even Don McLean. The songs were political ‘In America’ or adult sexy ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ with pointed lyrics & more than two chords. I also have his ‘Little Criminals’- more for he with a more pop sound but still rather dark lyrics. 

His songs were covered by everyone at one time – much as Laura Nyro was – Three Dog Night, Nilsson, even Barbra Streisand had a go at them. His populist leanings lead him to film music, so he has received twenty-two Academy Award nominations in the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories and has won twice.

This mp3 cd collection also includes: Harry Nilsson’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, Nilsson Sings Newman (1970 – all Newman covers & Pussy Cats (with John Lennon). Cats is a fun mess. More about Nilsson when I get to Ni. The lp of Newman covers is excellent if a bit too respectful.

I am not what you would call a Barbra Streisand fan, but I do like her 1971 Stoney End which includes songs by Newman, Nilsson & Nyro. It was considered a flop by her Broadway fan base but has since been ‘reappraised.’ Her choice of material is impeccable & the arrangements are not saturated with strings but allow the music to stand on its own. None of her over-singing for emotive milking makes this worth hunting down. 

Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle is a legendary lp from 1967 which I finally download from iTunes in 2017. Till then I had never heard it but read it referred so often I took a chance. It is not psychedelic or even rock. After all Parks co-wrote one of Sinatra’s biggest hits. There’s also a Newman song in the set, so it fits in here. Sweet, comforting music.

Andrew Gold is one of those almost stars who produced some amazing lps but never quite caught the fame wave. His ‘Thank You For Being A Friend’ was the theme for Golden Girls – he had songs on hit lps by Linda Ronstadt ‘You’re No Good’ but never broke big himself. On this mp3 I have his What’s Wrong With This Picture. Lonely Boy is an amazing song that captures some of my own growing up fears & emotions.

Mojo: Sgt Pepper Knew My Father – is a 1988 tribute to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the original release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on 1 June 1967. A track-by-track cover by bands like Wet Wet Wet, Sonic Youth etc. Great fun. I used to buy Mojo for these special editions cds. I was so keen to being up on on the music back in the day. Today I don’t care 🙂 I can’t remember that last time I bought a music magazine & you know, I don’t miss them. But I do miss the Beatles.

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June 2021 Recap

Over the past month the TOpoet.ca following grew to 500! The WP map does show my hits have come from  36 countries around the world. That USA tops the list is no surprise but that Spain & Ghana are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular posts were Little Red Corvette https://topoet.ca/2021/05/31/little-red-convertible/, Holy Toaster https://topoet.ca/2021/06/07/holy-toaster/ – my personal favourite has to be Psychedelic Sitar Teens https://topoet.ca/2021/06/16/psychedelic-sitar-teens/.

My Tumblr is at 326 followers. 227 Twitter followers.

Picture Perfect: 74 sections, about 111,000 words posted so far with approx 78,000 to be edited then posted. 

Watched a couple of amazing, slightly mystifying, movies. First by India’s Satyajit Ray’s 1991 Agantuk (The Stranger) – a long-lost grand-uncle appears uninvited to spend the week or is he really the long-lost grand-uncle. Not knowing a great deal about social customs of the time I was a bit at sea regarding these but the caste system, education where clear. The uncle brings a very wide world view into the safe bubble of the family. Gently humorous & nicely performed. No Bollywood  production numbers 🙂

Out of Chile is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 2013 Dance Of Reality (La danza de la realidad). This is an overf-the-top mash up of Fellini’s Amacord & Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. A memory off his childhood told through symbolism, song & amazing cinematography. I have his other earlier films in my collection so was ready for the loopy plot. This is a stunning film that drew me in & held be from beginning to end. My favourite moment was the adult Alejandro holding his child self from jumping to his death. The extras were interesting.

Ken Russel’s Mahler was yet another surreal visual experience. I have vague memories of seeing this when it was first released & was impressed with the visuals & the music. Apparently a biography based on Mahler’s life, rather than a historically accurate  accounting of it. I loved the white worm beginning, the direct reference to Death In Venice & Georgina Hale’s performance. Lush music but the plot often gives in to tedious melodrama when it should be awash with surrealism.

Event of the month was the mass covid19 vaccine clinic at Scotiabank Arena. Nearly 27,000 people given the shot. This was my 2nd shot. The process was like clockwork. I joined the line up at around 9:30 at Bay & Front. Got my shot at 10:03. Efficient & all the volunteers were in good moods. Got the souvenir towel & was home by 11. Don’t worry I’ll stick to masks for shopping & public transit for awhile. 

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Natural Nelson NERDs

 

The Natural Born Killers soundtrack is a template for what a pop music driven soundtrack should be with songs from Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Duane Eddy, Patsy Cline & more used to brilliant effect – sometimes to propel the action, to comment on it or as an ironic counter point – rarely is it used to create emotional content. The film is a satiric blood-bath commentary on what Americans will do for fame & how they capitalized on it.

Capitalizing on fame was a trend though the 50’s, 60’s when TV ‘stars’ branched out into recording in hopes of hitting the top 10. So you find the likes of George Maharis, Shelley Fabares, even Telly Savalas releasing singles & Lps. I tracked down one by Christopher Connelly: The Boy From Peyton Place. Some of them could sing some of the couldn’t.

One who could sing was Ricky Nelson. I have All My Best & Garden Party. Ricky had a string of hits: Travelin’ Man, Hello Mary Lou & a dozen others. Well produced radio fodder that never garnered him critical respect – as a musician & singer he is equal to Bob Seeger & the like. Seeger got respect, Ricky was dismissed until his Garden Party lp. Reflective, self-aware songs that proved he was ‘real’ & not some studio engineer’s product.

The next N is the not-yet-golden-oldie NERD. I have stand-alones: In Search of, Fly or Die, Seeing Sounds. Almost current pop 🙂 funky with state-of-the-art engineering. I saw a video for one of their tracks & picked up that first cd, at HMV. Can they sing? Who knows, with what can be done with voice in the studio but pleasant enough. Songs about romance, fame with a dash of explicit heterosexuality. I enjoy them when they come up in rotation to be played but I don’t feel drawn to them otherwise. Always good to know what the kids are listening to 🙂



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Moe & Krzysztof

By Canadian flautist Moe Koffman I have as stand-alones: Plays Bach, The Four Seasons & Best Of. Best known for ‘Swinging Shepard Blues’ he has had an extensive career of jazz classical exploration. If you listen much to CBC radio his Bach pieces show up frequently as theme or ‘pause’ music. There is a jazz trend to interpret classical music, much like prog rock (i.e. ELP’s Pictures at an Exhibition). Koffman does this with more of a pop than jazz approach. Great music. Sadly, as far as I can tell, his Four Seasons is out-of-print & not available in any form. Some of the cuts are included in the Best of cd.

Next K is am MP3 cd compilation of creepy soundtracks & more classical adaptations. By Krzysztof Komeda: Rosemary’s Baby; Jack the Ripper; by Paul Glass: Bunny Lake Is Missing; Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others; Mondo Cane Soundtrack. And explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra. Velvet Gentleman.

My partner had the lp of Rosemary’s Baby soundtrack, which I enjoyed. I eventually I replaced it with a clearer sound & its was paired with another of his soundtracks. Komeda, a Polish jazz musician, did soundtrack for other Polanski films. The music is  suspenseful & moody. Komeda died at 36, so is mostly forgotten. 

The Mondo soundtrack covers various styles & moods & got an 1963 Oscar nom for the song More. Paul Glass’s Bunny Lake Is Missing is another moody work. I had the lp which I bought solely for the tracks by the Zombies – this was time when British films makers had to include a scene with a live rock band. I was & still am a Zombies fan.

The Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others. Moody, impressionistic stuff with the Psycho music being classic stuff. Those shower strings pulsate with terror. Elsewhere in my collection I have the complete Psycho soundtrack – well worth searching out.

Finally more classical – this time of explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra’s The Velvet Gentleman & The Electronic Spirit of Satie. Santos is  in the Tomita electronica realm but not as lush. Camarata is stunning. These were two must have lps at one time. Real musicians & moog combined to perfection. The lps cover more than the Gymnopedies. I love the spoken introductions on Electronic Spirit. Well worth tracking down for your collection.

scrap of a story from late 90’s found in an old notebook

The New House

The back fence was about twenty yards from the kitchen window. Kit could barely see the rag he had nailed to the post. It was one of the few intact fence posts. A few pickets angles away from it.

In front was a sturdy post for the mailbox. He’d painted it earlier in the week. His first claim to possession – the stamp of ownership. A new mailbox was all he could afford at short notice.

The sky blue of the box stood out against the green of the cedar hedge. When he found the time he’d add his name to the box. Moe too his efforts so far had been in the garden.

Untended for many years he had his work cut out for him. The ramshackle garden was the deciding factor in the decision to buy this house.

The red clay soil was a challenge he felt up to. He knew a year of two of mulch would bring rewards. A game of seeds was next to see what would suit in the mean time.

He’d seen  several shows on TV about how some plants helped the acid balance of the soil.

“What’s up?” Jim, his boyfriend, stepped on the veranda with him.

“Jim! I didn’t expect you up this early in the day.”

“I expect danger pay for barring those early birds.” He did a little dance like bird pecking around Kit’s head. “Actually I’m up because Carol called.”

“Carol?” Kit knew that could only mean one thin. “Time for Bix’s seasonal check up? Seems he just had one.”

“About this time last spring.”

“Well, we don’t want the stress we get when we skip them.”

“Right and we’ll get to see if the change in climate has been as good for him as it has been for our relationship.”

….

That’s it 🙂 I have a scattering of such fragments were I’m experimenting with just making people talk.  No outline or idea of where etchings are going, or who is going be there as the words bring them into the story. 

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Psychedelic Sitar Teens

trippy

Nashville Teens’ Tobacco Road kicks off an mp3 collection of the finest, if a bit kitsch, psychedelic pop from. the sixties & seventies. The Teens were a bluesy more garage-band version of the Dave Clark 5. This is a compilation of their hits, singles & album tracks. Some originals plus lots of covers like All Along The Watchtower, How Deep Is The Ocean. Tobacco Road was their big hit. Members of the band ended up in Dantalion’s Chariot, The New Animals.

Reading a reference to Dantalion’s Chariot in a book about the Animals lead me to an iTunes search for some of their music. I find it hard to resist 60’s obscurity. It lead me to a completion called Psychedelic 60’s: Rare Tracks. The 80+ collection included a track by Chariot as well recordings by the like of Danny McCulloch, Keith Reif & the like. An excellent sampling of radio hits that bubbled under the top twenty & vanished. Many clearly inspired by Pink Floyd, Yardbirds & The Beatles.

Another Chariot track turned up on a compilation called Electric Psychedelic Sitar Headswirlers. Thanks to George Harrison the sitar became the ‘flavour’ of choice, much the wha-wha did for awhile, & every band had at least one track with a sitar solo. This batch includes Canada’s Ugly Duckings! The Lemon Pipers & Kuni Kawachi. I eventually download Kuni’s lp (not on this CD) & it is excellent.

A cover of 8 Miles High by The Folkwsingers lead me to their excellent, trippy lp Raga Rock. There has always a niche market for instrumental versions of pop music – try the Vitamin String Quartet’s Lady Gaga works. Though the sixties there were countless jazz takes – try Wes Montgomery’s astounding Day In The Life. Many of them were banal, some took fads & incorporated them – so you get lps of moog, fuzz guitar, surf versions of top ten. Sitar had its day too. The Folkswingers are better than average & worth hunting down. Groovy.

Someone needs to start a group called ‘Psychedelic Sitar Teens’

flash fiction from mid70’s

Drinker Up

“There are something I quite firmly refuse to believer in,” Josh said pouring himself another Scotch. “Mortality just happens to be one of them.” This drink was a bit thicker than the last, the next would be thicker again until he couldn’t see through the bottom of a bottle even if it was empty.

“I suppose,” I replied, “there is something to be said for making plans to break them for fun but …” I paused to match him, drink for drink, “One of these days you’ll find yourself actually living up to a promise. Just think of the precedent you’ll have set yourself. “

“Bullshit,” he swayed to his feet. “You know damned well there’s no hope of that.”

“Let’s talk about something else. We’ve drank our way through to the end of this morality, I mean, mort-totality, conversation before.”

“Ah, yes. Another dangerous precedent we set & will never approach again. They meet our death on the way to an icy top.”

“Lost in the clouds, as it were.”

We laugh that boozy guffaw that falls so frantically after an inane comment falls after another inane comment. The circular laugh of frustration. The caged lion’s snicker of hopelessness at seeing how afraid people are of him, yet he is powerless to inflict more than awe in their un-paw-able faces.

“You’re doing it again.” Josh snarled, pushing me gruffly. “Slipping into the logic of lines. Hopelessness is as hopelessness thinks it does. Drink up. The moon is full.”

“Cheers,” I raise my glass. “To motherhood.”

“To death,” Josh drank & dropped this glass to the floor. A carpeted thud. “Christ.”

“Yes, let’s bitch about Christ for awhile.”

“Let’s talk about fucking nothing for awhile” He replied with a foggy look that blocked response. “Give me a real drink. Then let’s go for a walk.”

“Let’s finish this off first.” I held up the last fluid ounces of the forty. “Can’t be much left here. Might as well go all the way.”

“Brute.”

“Savage.”

Pouring the remains evenly between the two glasses on the table, I looked up. A reflection in the window, a cat of reflected light slipping across the curtains up one wall then down the other. The slip was the stream, a suddenly dizzy reptile.

“I think I’m going blind.” I said.

“Well, that should resolve a lot of things for you. Oh yes. What a tragedy! The blind poet.”

“No. No. The blind pianist.”

“The blind penis?”

“Oh, fuck off. Here!” I slopped his drink in his direction. “I’m hallucinating cats.”

“Really? How odd.”

“Terrible, small cats. Miniature lions growling & prowling across motion pictures. You see?”

“Right. Right. I saw it last week. The Late Snow on Channel 5. The Cat People. Peter Lorre & …” snapping his fingers. “Oh shit! What’s her name with one eye & vamp walk.”

“This is hopeless.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just too early in the day for anything else. I know how important this seems to you but even importance fades with education.”

“Obsolete.”

“Something along those lines without those rocket thruster fins.”

“Snow what Josh.”

“Snow?”

“It’s starting,” gesturing to the window with my drink. “To snow cats.”

“How perceptive.”

“No. No. Pers-pity-ative.”

“Oh, very good.” Josh slurs over the end of his readily tilting glass. “I must remember that for the girls at the office. They like a good laugh every now & then.”

Giving him my ‘aren’t-you-enough’ look, I toss back the burning embers of my drink. “Any more of this fine foreword play?”

“Do eggs have heartbeats?”

The first laugh climax of the evening. One of those red-face-sputtering choking-on-a-swallow laughs.

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Summer in The Bush Bush

Welcome to a mp3 collection of dance bliss starting with Musique’s 1978 lp – Keep on Jumpin’ is the music of my first summer in Toronto. The lp itself is a disco masterpiece – a suite of songs that flow effortless into each other with amazing production values. Push Push with its cheeky engineering with ‘suck me fuck me’ almost buried in the mix. The radio release edited the naughty bits out. I have the  re-release which includes the radio edit version plus other versions of the tracks. This was one original lp that didn’t have filler.

Another killer lps of the era is the soundtrack from Thank God It’s Friday – a double lps (then) that stands up to the other killer soundtrack of the era Saturday Night Fever. The movie is essentially American Graffiti set in a disco. The soundtrack & the movie features Donna Summer, Cameo, The Commodores etc. It features the classic ‘Last Dance’ which won, of all things, the Oscar for best song. Like Fever this a movie set in a disco with zero gay presence on the dance floor.

Another inescapable dance floor hit at that time was Toni Basil’s Mickey: Word of Mouth. Toni is a living legend in the dance world with a career than continues today. She recorded two lps in her brief foray into pop music. Energetic & nicely produced but she was more focused on her career as a choreographer. I was happy to see her turn up both as a judge & a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance. 

Austrian pop star Falco had a string of dance floor hits through the 80’s & 90’s starting with Rock Me Amadeus. Here I have his Greatest Hits. Wiki says he remains be best selling Austrian pop star of ‘all-time’ – though I think Mozart outsold him 🙂 Another career ended too early thanks to booze & drugs.

Finally rounding out this mp3 cd compilation is something more contemporary – LMFAO: Party Rock whose dance moves owe everything to Toni Basil, whose cheeky lyrics – I am not a whore – weren’t censored. Like Falco a smart mix of disco & rap – the Commodores funky, danceable with wild costumes. A band that merged old school with an edgy modern sensibility. Great fun.

Everybody ready for that summer love?

Voodoo Secrets 

2

I know, too, that I was ashamed to be such a cry-baby. My Dad encouraged me to stand my ground with them. I chose to avoid them as much as possible. I would spend hours in my room with the radio on to hear my favorite songs by the Dave Clarke Five, The Monkees. Listening to them while I read myself into another world where brothers fought spies.

The fateful day of the hex was near the end of summer, a few weeks before school started. It was one of those golden days you saw in commercials. Hazy with sun. I was in my bedroom after lunch & I wanted to go outside to do something in our yard when Donald & a couple of his gang raced across form his place & fell wrestling onto our lawn. I watched them from my window.

They where laughing & throwing each over. Horsing around in that rough & tumble way I never could seem to get used to. One them pulled out a pocket knife & they began to play the Knife Game. You & your opponent stood toe to toe, took turns tossing the knife into the ground to either side. One foot had to reach where the knife stuck. The first to fall lost.

Playing with knives, smoking, low-life no-goods, hoodlums. That’s what they were. They did things I might have liked to do but out of fear didn’t do. Fear makes many of us virtuous.

I tried to read my Tom Swift Jr. book but they made so much noise I couldn’t see the words on the page. By then I had learned just what a ‘fruit’ was but didn’t comprehend what it meant for me to be one. I began to cry. Why not? I was a cry-baby. I wanted to get through that hazy barrier of sun & be one of those rough boys.

When my dad came home I told on them.

“Donald & his gang were in our yard today.” I tattled edging my words with incriminations.

“What did you do?” He asked.

“They were playing with knives.” I went on. “They had smokes too. I saw them in their pockets.”

“And what did you do all day?” He asked. “Besides spy on them & sit around on your ass all day.”

“I …” At that instant I saw he would have preferred Donald to be his son, “At least I don’t smoke.” I had to deflect him, get him as angry with Donald as I was.

He looked at me expressionless & then went to change out of his work clothes.

That night I cast the spell. I had seen some Saturday afternoon movie in which the Three Stooges cast a spell by sticking pins into photos of each other. So I got this photo of Donald. Now I remember, it was one of a bunch my mother had taken of the kids in the neighbourhood. I got long pins from her sewing basket. I pushed them through his ears & eyes while muttering something like ‘Feel the black venom of my poisonous revenge you asshole.’

I hid the picture in the tin box I used to keep my one Boy Scout badge – for Efficiency. I hid the box between the mattresses on my bed.

Over the next week I watched Donald to see what would happen. Nothing ever happened. Because I cursed him I didn’t feel as afraid of him. He & his gang got tired of hounding me. I think they discovered girls were more fun.

So I’m looking at this pinned up photo & realize that my anger toward him then had gone within weeks. I survived my teens. I guess the secret of voodoo is that we survive.

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