The Hayes of Our Lives

Isaac Hayes was a pop icon who wasn’t afraid to mock himself as he did as Chef on South Park. His smooth, sometimes syrupy, soul romanticism wasn’t big with many on the east coast so I didn’t really get into him until I moved to Toronto. I found a used copy of the double lp Shaft soundtrack at Cheapies & really liked all of it. Jazzy, soulful, plus that strutting Blaxploitation wahwah. 

I have an mp3 collection his Very Best Of that includes things like I just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself. That deep sensual voice of his is hard to resist despite the heteronormative content of his lyrics. On this cd I includes Barry White’s Ultimate Collection another deep sexy voice that owes everything to Hayes. Here also is Carl Douglas’s Kung Gu Fighting – too bad he got trapped by that big hit.

 

On this cd is also The Jackson’s Destiny & Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall – prime disco & beyond, that is full of fun dancing memory for me. As is Marky Mark’s You Gotta Believe. Can Marky rap? I don’t know but he sure has a great six-pack and excellent taste in producers, as the samples that drive this album are amazing. Let’s here it for Loleatta Holloway for making Good Vibrations a classic that will outlive Marky’s six-pack.

Speaking of Blaxploitation I have a mp3 cd that includes Hayes wonderful Shaft soundtrack, as well his soundtracks for Tough Guys and Truck Turner (which he stars in). Funky with a dash of that Hollywood smoothness. It also has Soundtracks for Shaft’s Big Score by Gordon Parks; and Shaft in Africa by Johnny Pate. More wahwah with slightly different flavouring but not up to Hayes work. Finally a real jazz lp Jack McDuff – a funky organist in the Booker T mold. Here is his Sophisticated Funk & it is a delight.

Delight

‘Just what is this supposed to mean?’ Jill pointed to the inscription I had put in the book of Symbolists’ poetry I had given her.

‘What do you think it means?’

‘That you don’t value all the work I do to improve myself.’

‘It does not.’

‘Perhaps you have forgotten what you wrote – it says ‘Jill, you will find more in here about spiritual matters than in any self-help book.’ You mean to say that isn’t putting down all the good I get out of self-help books.’

‘Jill, it means that poetry comes from the heart, speaks to the heart – those self-books come from the head and speak to the head. The spirit is in the heart not the head.’

‘At least I can understand those books. This poetry doesn’t speak to me at all.’

‘Try reading it out loud. The delight is often in the sound of the words and not in any meaning.’

‘Then what’s the point?’

‘Are you so sure the spirit wants to have a point or is it merely to be experienced.’

‘You are talking in circles.’

‘Good. If you get dizzy enough maybe you can shut of your chattering monkey mind and just enjoy the sensation of being dizzy.’

‘What’s the point?’

‘There isn’t a point. Let go of the need to have a point. That’s what poetry can do for you. Savour it – what is the point of … say … the taste of food. Do you eat chocolate because it is nutritious or because it tastes so good. Poetry tastes good to the soul. Try it.’

‘It’ll rot my mind.’

‘As if that’s ever stopped you from eating candy.’

‘So now I have an eating disorder too. Is that it?’

‘Jill, you have to get rid of the notion that the mind does the work. If you want to open to spirit you have learn to let go of the mind. I said let go, not throw away. Surrender to the power of the images in the poetry. Picture them without need to understand them and perhaps then you may even begin to understand them.’

‘Easy for you to say.’

‘No easier than for you. I’ve just more practice at it. I had to start somewhere. Once I let go of the idea that understanding would do me any good I began to actually understand.’

‘But without understanding what good is the mind, knowledge.’

‘Both are good things and I said this isn’t throwing away the mind or knowledge but letting go of the notion they are all there is. They are the key not the door. You can do it. Try these poems. Take them. One a day. Read them out loud. Feel foolish doing that and eventually something will happen. Just don’t try to explain them. All they mean is what they the words pull out of your heart, not some articulate explanation of what they mean.’

‘Forget it.’ She handed me back the book. ‘I’ll stick to what I know.’

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every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Entertainment Afoot

The Shaw Festival production of Hound of the Baskervilles is top-flight entertainment. Well staged with a great ensemble cast it delivers a fun, fast-paced adaptation of the the Doyle novel that chills and even surprises in ways that will please the most dedicated Sherlock fan. Sounds too good to be true? Trust me I was anticipating a muddled mess like the Shaw production of Dracula last season.

With Sherlock it is hard to say who the lead is Sherlock or Watson. Damien Atkins, as Sherlock, heads a sharp ensemble cast, with Graeme Somerville as his Watson. Both were good – I found Atkins a bit young but enjoyed him all the same. Somerville gives us the ‘Nigel Bruce’ Watson, as opposed to the Jude Law take on the character.

The staging was perfection. The use of projection & scrims was precise & as effective as their use in Stratford’s current Coriolanus. I love the rolling stairways in the chase scene & the clever use of trap. The moors were perfectly created & properly moody. Sadly, in this preview production, the hound itself was not a success. John Gzowki’s music was so good I hoped to find a cd of it in the gift shop – no such luck.

The text brought in elements of the Sherlock mythos not in the novel. It stuck to the essential points of the Hound’s plot & characters but did insert some new scenes – a dinner party that was not in the novel but which worked perfectly giving a more romantic edge to the story. It also introduced layers of villainy that were satisfying. I was gratified that there was no nods to the current modernized Holmes. A fine production that I’d recommend to anyone.

Other summer reviews:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f 

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K 

The King and I: The King and My Memories https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y

Julius Caesar: Honourable Women https://wp.me/p1RtxU-33T 

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George Harrison

I have to confess I was never a huge George Harrison fan. One of my least favourite big hits of the Beatles is  Something & if I never hear it again I’ll be happy. But I admired & respected his outlook on life & his willingness to trade on his fame to help. He also opened the door to music that I may never have discovered.

I had the Wonderwall soundtrack on lp, replaced eventually by mp3. I have never seen the movie though, has anyone? 🙂 It certainly wasn’t pop music. I also had All Things Must Pass on lp. Eventually replaced by mp3. His spiritual leanings weren’t as interesting to me as his reflections of life eon the road as a Beatle – Apple Scruffs. 

But after Pass I took a pass. I heard bits of other things, Bangladesh but never felt drawn to having anything else by him. His guitar work, to me, was good but unexceptional, same for his voice & his lyrics. 

In the past few years I added the New Morning Sessions: his work with Bob Dylan which is of interest as a curiosity; George: another solo lp that I can’t recall a track of. In fact most of his writing, except for Pass, hasn’t drawn me into it. I searched out other stuff via YouTube & found it unexceptional.

I have the 30th Anniversary edition of All Things Must Pass – the bonus material is endless but worth hearing. It is on an mp3 collection along with Shankar & Friends – a nice set of instrumentals & song with Ravi Shanker that sparkles. On this particular is also Paul & Paula: Best of  – Hey! what can I say Harrison needed a historic context 🙂 Here too is the Electric Prunes: Release of an Oath: a rock group infusing music with spiritual searching. The Best of the Troggs: Beatles compatriots. Harrison did collaborations so I found Pay Pack & Follow John Phillips collaboration with Keith Richards! It’s a bit of a mess mind you but fun.

Wait there’s more on this cd: Paul Butterfield Band’s Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin’ – great fun blues work Finally Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert – where Harrison appears uncredited due to some weird contract, record label conflict. An interesting concert that also features Steve Winwood, Pete Townsend & others. Sound quality is good.

Land of the Lost

‘I must say this room has never looked neater.’

‘Thanks.’ Stef wasn’t sure whether this was a compliment or a dig. ‘Every now and then strange things do happen here.’

‘So what brought it on?’

‘Brought what on?” Stef wished her mother would come right out and say things. If she thought Stef was a bad house keeper why not just say it.

‘You know what I mean, dear.’ Her mother smiled and sat at the dining room table. Stef’s ‘office’ was under the window in that room and the dining room table was often an extension of it. It spent much of its time buried under piles of papers, magazines, books and, as much as she hated to admit it, the occasional pizza box.

‘It was time for some tidying up. After all, you’ve told me many many times cluttered house cluttered mind.’

‘Did you find it?’

‘Huh?’

‘I remember the one time your room at home was spotless was the time you had lost … what was it now … some political button a boy had given you.’

‘I did not lose anything.’

‘Just misplaced.’

‘Misfiled. Mother I’d rather say, I misfiled it.’

‘And you never found it.’

‘Not yet, I mean I stopped looking. But …’

‘There there dear. I know you creative types aren’t the best of maids.’

‘You are right there.’ She didn’t want to tell her mother how she had spent the last three days going through nearly every corner of the bungalow looking for the dust cover of the book she was reviewing. Bad enough it even had one but she had put it in a safe place while she lugged the book around on buses, read it in coffee shops. Now she was done.

‘You have no idea how much like you father you are. The same furrow of the brow.’

‘Thanks. I guess.’

‘So how are things. You know when I see the place this neat I worry you aren’t working as much as you should.’

‘Things are good. Better that they were last year.’

‘Getting any work done on your novel?’

‘As much as needs to be done.’ Stef knew she was avoiding that project with all these others. But it was these others that paid the rent, paid the bills, for now.

‘You need to concentrate on one thing at a time. That’s how things get misfiled. Thinking of too much at one time.’

‘Thank you mother. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m homeless.’

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every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Honourable Women

Where to start with this so-so Stratford Festival production of Julius Caesar? This early play, not regarded as one of Shakespeare’s better pieces, isn’t improved any by the casting of women in the lead roles. I was hoping there would be some layered resonance on the current discussion about gender & representation but if there is it was under too many layers. An arrogant & ambitious ruler meets a bad end. Assassins pay the price of their actions. 

Seana McKenna does not portray Caesar as being particularly arrogant or ambitious. She handles the role well but seems merely content to give the lines a well enunciated delivery. Michelle Giroux as Mark Antony invests the character with urgency & emotional connection. She handles the slyly manipulative “lend me your ears” speech very well. Now this a character with ambitions. Also good was Jonathan Goad as Marcus Brutus. 

Director Scott Wentworth does able work with the ‘rabble’ crowd scenes so they have good energy & theatricality – I really enjoy the opening of Act 2 with the rabble scattered throughout the theatre. Slow motion battle scenes & Gregorian chant didn’t work for me. I did like the hand washing nod to McBeth though.

When men play women, cross-dressing or doing drag, they are judged by how well they pass as women, so it is fair to do the same for when women play men. Seana is the most successful on surface appearance, Michelle is okay, Irene Poole as Cassius could pass as a teenage boy not as an adult male. Other women cast as men in the production are more androgynous than masculine. 

 

I was happy to see Julius Caesar and this is a solid production. I also appreciated the casting of women in men’s roles – this sort of gender play, only reversed, was the law in Shakespeare’s time. Maybe it’s time for a really tradition production where men play all the roles. Scott Wentworth would make a brilliant Lady McBeth.

PS: No one says: “Great Caesar’s ghost.” Also, I could not get that classic Canadian comedy moment “Julie, don’t go!  Julie, don’t go!  But he wouldn’t listen!” out of my mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR_5h8CzRcI

Other summer reviews:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f 

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K 

The King and I: The King and My Memories https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y 

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Reinaldo Arenas

Fridays will become a spot for revealing my literary influences & inspirations starting with Reinaldo Arenas. These posts will not be wiki detailed – if you want that you can google wikipedia yourselves:-) His life is remarkable though I read some of his novels before reading his full biography. The introductory notes to The Doorman had enough details to stun me.

The Doorman was the first of his novels that I read. Set in New York it is an allegory similar to Animal Farm. An immigrant writer gets a job as a doorman in an apartment building of odd-ball characters  & learns life lessons. Dogs, cats, even parrots talk but only he can understand them. It is a funny, wild & trippy novel. If you aren’t familiar with Arenas it is the best one to start with.

 

Pentagonia is a set of five novels that comprise a “secret history” of post-revolutionary Cuba. If you have been following my Village Stories (Wednesdays) you will see some of the direct influence he has had on me. The first couple of books mythologize his childhood. One in series sees Cuban society as insects with endless layers of governmental departments, another contains a huge poem/canto, another deals with his escape from Cuba.

It was his persistence in writing under nearly all circumstances that inspires me as much as the quality & imaginative depth of his work. I have enough trouble reconstructing a poem I’ve accidentally deleted whereas he rewrote a 300 page novel after finding out his original manuscript, written on, amongst other things, toilet paper, that was smuggled out of prison had been destroyed by the friend who was to keep it safe. It was his writing that gave him hope while he was in prison.


His literary style in these is breathtaking, even in translation. Like Joyce’s Ulysses there are sections in play form, footnotes, asides, verse, endless run on sentences. At times stunningly imagistic, impressionist & at others grimly & viscerally real.

 

His life in America was not the paradise he expected. partly because he was openly queer he wasn’t accepted or as culturally recognized as he hoped (or as he deserved). The film Before Night falls acknowledges some of this but I also found the film too deliberatively manipulative. I’m currently reading all that I have by him on my shelf.

 

Shitman

he had a shitty attitude

everyone knew that 

even passing in the the street 

strangers knew he had a shitty attitude

and he didn’t give a shit

if they didn’t like his shitty attitude 

they could eat shit and die

for all he cared

for all they cared he was dead

 

he knew that 

by the way they glanced so quickly

looking a way in dismay 

acting as if he wasn’t even there

as if they could see though shit

they didn’t know jack shit

that much he knew

and so he didn’t care

if they shit in their shoes 

when he was near them

he chuckled

 

shitman

would be his superhero name

is it a bird

is a plane

no it’s shitman

and they would crap their pants

that would fix 

all those mucky muck politicians

if he went to a big important speech

stood in front of them

as they spouted their 

bullshit to the nation

and glanced down at him

and shit their pants 

right there on stage

 

he could see the look on the president

the prime minister the queen

as they found themselves 

in front of the world

all those cameras microphones reporters

unable to hold it in another minute

that panic 

as sphincter muscles relaxed 

and they crapped their pants

as the smell was recognized

 

what a laugh that would be

as everyone pretended there was no shit

acted as if the mucky muck had not 

just dumped a load in his pants 

right their in front of everyone

as he waddled off stage

with that shit my pants walk

crap oozing down into his shoes

 

yea for shitman

that would be so sweet

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http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Jan Garbarek and the Windharp

 

Jan Garbarek is another of those jazz players I discovered via ECM. Like many in the ECM stable he was sideman to many & also a solo leader, so I can’t recall where I first heard him. He is a sax player mainly soprano. I have him in various settings. In the collection are as Lp to cd transfers: Esoteric Circle; Dis, Circle; Red Lanta; Red Lanta/Herbie Mann. In an mp3 collection I have Places/In Praise of Dreams w: Eberhard Weber/Parker/Kitaro/El TrioTucked in other mp3 collections is his Dansere; Sol Do Meio Dia. As stand alones I have: Twelve Moons; Officium; Ragas & Sagas

 

Theses range from the free jazz of Esoteric Circles to the meditative Officium. His soaring sax sound is to distinct I can recognize it in works I have never heard before. At once time I would pick up anything he was playing on. Now I suspect I have enough 🙂 His playing is more ‘intellectual’ than swing or bop. He rarely displays the energy of Coltrane but never becomes as sappy as the, to me, unlistenable Kenny G.

 

He is also a master of sonic tapestry as in Dis which features the use of a Wind-harp that is played by gusts of wind coming in from North Sea, creating tones and overtones. How cool is that. On Officium he plays with the classical Hilliard Ensemble, on Ragas & Sagas he is joined by Pakistani musicians.

 

Not all of his work is this conceptual. But he has never been trapped by one genre or texture. Well worth searching out if you are unfamiliar. Dis is a good starting point, as is any of his work with guitarist Ralph Towner. 

Larking About

No one was sure what it meant. The first order larks were positive this was a sign of unwelcome change. The first order robins, on the other talon, were certain that it boded only the best possible opportunities for all the creatures.

‘No. No. No,’ the larks bounced from branch to branch.

‘Yes. Yes. Yes,’ the robins jumped across the ground. ‘We have nothing to fear.’

‘Fear. Fear. Fear,’ the larks insisted. ‘That fear will unravel the nest of our safe lives here. Something must be done.’

‘Nothing must be done.’ the robins replied. ‘Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.’

‘Stop.’ a second string blue jay rasped. ‘This bickering isn’t going to get us anywhere. Does anyone know where it came from.’

‘Cat. Cat. Cat,’ the larks warned and the birds dispersed. 

A quick fragmented scattering of black, red and blue dots lifted into to the air over the trees and settled on higher perches to wait until the cats left.

‘Well. Well,’ the orange cat purred to the grey puss with him ‘We still have our power.’

‘Not all have fled.’ The grey puss looked up into the tree.

‘Ah. A new nest? Let’s investigate.’ the orange cat sprung up. ‘Coming.’

‘No that’s fine. I’ll wait here for you.’

The orange cat clawed up the side of the tree to the branch where the nest was wedged. 

‘It’s not nest. Just some toy that got tossed up into the air and landed here.’ The cat swatted it with his paw. One eye came loose. ‘Teddy bear.’ 

His claw got caught in the string. A tug, two tugs and it was more knotted up. He yanked and the bear came loose and they both fell to the ground.  The grey puss streaked under the gate.

The orange cat shook himself free, paced the yard, rubbed its scent where it was fading and curled up under the tree. Not asleep. Just waiting for those robins to come back. Tasty treats they were. Robins. Yum. 

‘See. See. See.’ the first robins began. ‘It has brought us luck. No cat has ever climbed so high before. 

‘We should have attacked when they fell.’ the blue jay pecked in the direction of the cat. ‘We would have no trouble ending its life. All of us could have attacked at once. But we’ve lost our chance.’

The orange cat stretched out in the sun its head on the teddy bear’s stomach.

‘See. See. See. They are accomplices. He will never leave. We will have to find new homes.’

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http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Bricks to Banksy 

Somehow I lost the notes I took at the Hot Damn! Showcase as part of Unit2’s Bricks & Glitter queer festival 😦 https://www.facebook.com/bricksandglitter/ So what I may quote from the show come entirely from my memory. One thing burned in my memory from the night is the actual getting to the west-end location on Stirling Road. Google was helpful to a degree, it got me in the right direction 🙂 The heat was intense, which wasn’t helped by a text message from a FB wanting to play that night. 

I gave myself time to get lost, which I did but I quickly got back on the right track. I have never been in this area, near Lansdowne. It is a simmering art warehouse district. One was dedicated to a Banksy show, a parking lot was set up as a sit-down outdoor movie theatre. A Museum Of Contemporary Art is being built. The House of Anansi  is nestled beside a craft brewery.

I found Unit2 easily & stepped back into my Cape Breton past. In Sydney friends of mine had gotten a grant to set up a store front children’s theatre for the summer. They made puppets, did show there & in playgrounds. Unit2 had that feeling of repurposed space, not finished or polished, of people working together for change, as opposed to profits. I felt more at home than I expected. In some ways it was like being in a large rec room to watch friends perform.

The showcase was excellent. Charlie Petch opened, as they do the ‘real’ show, with acknowledging the stolen land we are on & then played the Damn! anthem, on the saw. First feature was D’Scribe: ‘I pretended my parents loved me.’ I’ve seen him perform many times now & each time I have been caught up in his vision & struggles.

Charlie did the second set in which they gave us samples of Mel Malarkey, & Daughter Of Geppetto. They also did an amazing grief piece with live multilayered vocals, sound fx that invited the audience in to experience their own feeling of personal grief & loss after the recent Danforth mass shooting. It was a performance that transcended language & took us into pure emotion.

Sadly it was getting too late for me so I left before seeing Truth Is … I wanted to be home by 11 & to bed by midnight. It was a fine show & makes me eager for the start of Hot Damn!’s season 5 this fall at Buddies in Bad Times.

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Harris Harrison

I can remember hearing Richard Harris’s McArthur’s Park for the first time on my radio & being amazed & impressed by the lyrics & that such a long long song was on the charts. It wasn’t rock or actually pop music as I knew pop music. In some ways it still defies category – adult pop? Harris’s voice clearly wasn’t a rock voice either, nor was it say, Tom Jones or Frank Sinatra. But it worked.

I bought the album A Tramp Shining – which my buddies at time dismissed as romantic tripe but I loved it – here I am a tramp shining. It was unapologetically adult romantic, with little or no political or even trippy subtext. Later I realized the work was more the product of the genius of Jimmy Webb than of Richard Harris.

The follow up, The Yard Went On Forever, had no hits & was even more adult & also much darker in mood & lyric content. I liked it a lot as well but no one I knew cared for it. It had no freaky guitar work. It also was not pop, folk or rock. I have both of these – Tramp as a stand alone cd & The Yard in an mp3 collection. Both are too short for my liking 🙂

Another singing actor was Noel Harrison. His first lp Collage was a collection of folksy covers of thing like Whiter Shade of Pale, Strawberry Fields. I liked his low key take on these massive pop hits of the time. Not strictly folk as there was some sweet psychedelic flavouring, even sitar, to some of the tracks. I played that lp grey & now have it as an lp to cd transfer. 

As a stand-alone I the limited edition Life is a Dream – a compilation of songs from his other lps. It repeats some of Collage & there is some of Santa Monica Pier as well. He never did get a major pop career. He lived in Nova Scotia Canada for a time & hosted Take Time a TV show out of Halifax. Much like Richard Harris he was too adult to become a pop star.

As I said both were actors – though Richard Harris had a ‘bigger’ career. Harris became a singer thanks to film of the musical Camelot – he eventually did live touring shows of it. I don’t know that Noel ever did a film musical but he also did do touring shows of Camelot. 

Poor Old Marat

‘And on your left we have the bathtub in which Marat died. Poor old Marat.’

The group came to a stop behind the tour guide. 

‘But that’s not a tub at all. Looks more like a big pail.’ One of them said.

There was some polite laugher.

‘Perhaps,’ the tour guide smiled, ‘You are unaware that they didn’t have all the modern conveniences we do. You know,’ he lowered his voice, ‘they didn’t even have shower heads.’

‘What!’ another member of the tour said.

‘Please, you all must be aware of that! Our lives are very much different from those of people in the past.’

‘Yes, but still they must have had something.’

‘Not even a tooth brush.’

The tour guide continued up the hall.

‘Who was Marat?’

‘Pardon.’ The guide stopped.

‘Who was Marat? It’s all well and fine to tell us this is the tub in which Marat died but, if it isn’t too much trouble, please tell us who Marat was.’

‘Sir, this is an exhibit that encompasses famed baths of the past not personages. Now if you have a question about the fixtures, plumbing or such, I’d be only too happy to tell you what I know.’

‘See. He doesn’t even know who Marat is, only that he was too poor to own a real bathtub.’

The guide reddened. ‘I certainly do Madam, but that is not my job.’

‘Not your job?’

‘Quite right. I am to show and explain these particular relics. Period. If you wish to know more perhaps you should sign up for a different tour.’

‘I’m disappointed you don’t know more about these people. I mean these famous personages.’

‘I do, but that is not what I am permitted to tell you.’

‘Permitted?’

‘Right.’ The guide sucked in air between his teeth. ‘I am in the Plumbing Relics Tour Union and therefore cannot overstep those boundaries without infringing on the territory of another union.’

‘I see. Why didn’t you explain that before. How long has there been such a division of union jobs?’

‘I’m sorry, Sir, I cannot tell you that. You’ll have to speak with someone from the History of Unions Union.

‘Now if you’ll please follow me, we next have the toilet stall in which Lenny Bruce was found dead. As you can tell it wasn’t very clean but functional. The cubical was designed for single occupancy.’

‘Single occupancy? How did they manage.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Harper Hartman

I first heard Ben Harper on a CMJ (College Music Journal) compilation cd. I like the sample & eventually found the cd Cruel World – I think the song was Mama’s Got A New Girlfriend – a cheerful song about having two moms. I have it as a stand-alone as well as Burn To Shine, & there will be a light.

Harper is adult pop with some folksy, bluesy, even soul undertones. He plays a wicked slide guitar. His voice is appealing & emotional without striving to over-emote. ‘be a light’ features the Blind Boys of Alabama & is uplifting, spiritual without being overly religious. As much as I enjoy his cds I found that three was enough. I’ve heard others but, to be honest, I couldn’t tell one from the other.

A quick word about CMJ. I was a loyal follower of this monthly magazine & loved the compilation cds that introduced me to endless music. They were as eclectic as my collection with sample tracks from jazz, electronic, dance music, blues, pop, punk, rap, world music all on the same cd. The frustrating thing was that often what I really liked was unavailable in Canada.

Near Harper is an lp to cd transfer of Dan Hartman’s Instant Replay, with some tracks from a disco compilation Hot Nights & City Lights. ‘Replay’ was one of the few disco lps that was more than a hit song. Each track had energy & I always love hearing it when it comes up in my play rotation. I remember being compelled to dance to that title song when ever a dj played it, the same was true for Countdown. Hot Nights is a nicely mixed set of classic disco songs such as Boogie Oogie Oogie; Love Is In The Air – all of which make me feel like a teenager coming out 🙂

Pagan

‘Just smell the pine.’ Chris took a deep breath. He nodded to Peter to do the same thing.

‘Yeah. Pine.’ Peter breathed out. He didn’t really smell anything like pine. ‘Not very strong though.’

‘What do you mean?’ Chris pushed aside a branch and held it so Peter could pass. ‘Can’t mistake that smell. Or were you expecting Pinesol?’

‘Yeah. Something like that.’ Peter felt himself redden. In this cold it wouldn’t be noticeable.

‘Something like reality.’ Chris’s laugh echoed through the trees. ‘This is real. This is the goddamned outdoors.’ He stooped and pulled up a clump of snow, dirt. ‘This is the land. Not some high-def image. The soil. Something we don’t get enough of in the city. ’

‘I have enough dirt in my back yard.’

‘Yeah, right.’ Chris scoffed.  ‘All that chemical fertilizer and weed control doesn’t leave much of nature in that soil.’

‘Enough for … ’

‘There it is.’ 

They stopped. Peter saw the tree. Tall. Green. Biggest pine he had ever seen.

‘She is a beauty.’ Peter said.

‘She! Hell, that’s a he tree if I’ve ever seen one.’

‘I’m not going to argue that with you. So we going just gawk or chop.’

‘Neither.’ Chris took off his back pack.

‘I thought we were going to get real trees this year. None of that tree farm shit for us.’

‘Right you are but by real I meant we’d get real ourselves. Here … ’ He handed Peter two red candles. ‘Put one over there and the other directly opposite it. Stick close to the edge of the fir.’

‘You crazy or what.’

‘Trust me.’

‘Okay.’

Chris trod a path around the tree that criss-crossed at several points. In each another candle was placed and lit. A slight wind came up.

‘Next …’ Chris handed him a beer and opened one for himself. ‘repeat after to me … We drink to the spirit of the fir.’

‘We drink to the spirit of the fir.’

‘Now take a swallow and spit it out.’

Peter did.

‘Turn around and do the same thing again.’

Peter did. At first he felt foolish. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching. He closed his eyes and when he opened them the light had changed.

‘You see the difference?’ Chris asked.

‘Yeah? What is this? Some sort of pagan ritual.’

‘Could be. Just intent. Something my Dad showed me once. He said he had to pass it along to someone. Now I’m passing it along to you. We have to revere the land a little. Acknowledge the spirit.’

Peter took a deep breath. He could smell the pine. ‘I smell it.’

‘What?’

‘The pine! The pine! I can really smell it! I smell the earth too.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


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The King and My Memories

I have seen a few big productions on the big stage in Toronto but very few. The last ‘real’ musical I saw was Cats decades ago. So when I was given tickets to see The King & I was more than happy to accept them, mainly because this a piece that plays a strong role in my childhood – it was one of my mother’s favourites. She had the movie soundtrack & we would sing along to some tracks – Shall We Dance. Her other fave soundtrack was The Student Prince – Drink Drink Drink.

I loved that lp cover with Deborah Kerr in the amazing gold dress – I always wondered how did she get that – and beside her was Yul Brenner as the King – majestic, macho & Asian. I’ve seen the movie a few times & suspect that my attraction to Asian men started here. The cd soundtrack now includes the The Small House of Uncle Tom ballet sequence which I remembered from the film.

 

So you have a context of what I brought with me when I saw the stage production at the Princess of Wales. I was not ready for the power all of these songs had over me. Richard Rodgers music is emotionally compelling & romantic in My Lord & Master, I Have Dreamed. I could name check every song mind you. A Puzzlement with its shifting rhythms is more musically complex that I realized. The lyrics for most of the songs are unabashedly romantic.

The performances were solid. The singing itself was good as well. Jose Llana as the King was handsome but a bit young, to me, & Elena Saddow as Anna seemed more of mother figure than a possible next wife. Their scenes together was more fun than simmering.

The text was more political than I recalled. Her feminism was strong without being strident. The role of the arrogant colonizers in Southeast Asia was not overlooked either. The King was considered a barbarian mainly because he was resistant to European’s seeking to exploit his country. The European notion that ‘civilized’ meant conforming to their standards of dress & religion was used to belittle & suppress, not to advance & improve.

The production had a great diverse cast. Were all the Asian performers actually Thais? I can’t say – cast photos were on display not their family trees 🙂 As I said earlier performances were solid but the over-all production lacked energy. Only Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang seemed to fully invested in her character, though Jose Llana had some fine moments of puzzlement. Finally the Small House of Uncle Tom was given an excellent interpretation. 

My reviews of:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K