Hallway

When does a hallway become a vestibule? You step into one (or the other) when you come in the front door of my house. On the wall to your right hangs a print of a calm English waterside scene. A lake? Could it be coastal France? Impressionist. Nicely framed. Not something I bought but rather inherited form a friend who died several years ago. He may have told more about it at one time but that’s forgotten. My friend isn’t. Best part of it, for me, is that you can’t read into it anything about me.

On the right side of the door is this stained glass window (original with the house) with this owl standing on the sill. The owl is my partners & he owned it before we met so it goes back at least 45 years. Metal (of some sort) painted black. On the base it says Austin Prod 1976. Prod is not a weird last name but short for (Austin) Productions Inc. The owl represents wisdom & thus is a good thing to see when I leave the house after I check to make sure my hat is on straight.

A little deeper in the hall one is confronted with one of my original paintings! Painted way back in 1981 when I was newly sober & reawakening creatively. ‘Clowns At War’ is written on the back so I guess that was my working title. The guns are cut out from a magazine. It tells several stories – clowns fighting over a hat, shocked dress shop sales person. I love the details in the windows over the dress shop. 

 

As one goes up the stairs hangs this very Cocteau/Toulouse Lautrec sketch of my friend, the late Jackie Burroughs. It was done by one of the stage hands when she was in a production of Colette’s Chéri. She played the maid. It was fun play. The secret to her performance was getting the right shoes. She insisted there be at least one moment when those shoes were seen by the audience.

Here’s a piece I wrote after Jackie’s funeral

. . . walk through . . .

her casket unadorned pine

pale

unvarnished for burning

heavy even with three on each side

the gentle struggle

to get it up church steps winded me

all glad to let go

let it glide on the gurney

through the narrow granite arch

into

the vaulted cathedral

massive stained glass window

images promised resurrection

 

we followed the minister

a slow steady pace

he held aloft a silver cross

each a single hand on the casket

 

oppressive organ music

muffling the simple choir

I longed for unadorned chant

then wanted the droning reverential

minister’s voice smothered

too much scripted polished scripture talk

and none of the real in the casket

 

      silence

 

then her voice

  previously recorded

  “… I walk through … ”

  all breaths held

  to take in

  her reading “ … I fear no … ”

  sobs for this real presence

  I looked to the casket

  expect it to shake   giggle

 

next the rites

  holy water sprinkled

  dense incense wafted

  I choked   gasped

  air thick

  smothered through the rest of the ritual

  we walk the casket out

  again the gentle clumsy struggle

  out the narrow granite arch

  the dead weight down the steps

  to the hearse

  where we all took a deep breath

  as it drove off into the sun

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

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre – Washington D.C.

 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Janis Joplin

In my Janis Joplin collection I have, as stand-alone’s, Big Brother & the Holding Company; Live at Winterland 68; Cheap Thrills; Pearl. As mp3 I have See See Rider; Kosmic Blues; at Woodstock. As well as these biographies: Janis by David Dalton (1971); Janis Joplin: Buried Alive by Myra Friedman (1974); One The Road With Janis Joplin by John Byrne Cooke (2014) [I have yet to read this one.]

 

In Cape Breton, when Janis hit big, with Cheap Thrills, any female with bushy hair & granny glasses was guaranteed an opportunity to sing with a band, whether she could sing or not 🙂 It was the emotional honesty in her voice that made Janis a star. Sadly it was that emotional openness that partially lead to her too early death. The other contribution to her death, I think, was the inability of the male music industry to let a woman succeed on her own terms. Something that had been in that industry (& may still be) back to the 30’s (& earlier I’m sure). I look at the careers of singers such as Judy Garland, Billie Holliday – & see that same pattern in Janis’s life.

Her music speaks for itself. I’ve had some of these as lps, then cassettes. Now cd’s & mp3s. ‘Live at Winterland 68’ is a performance while Cheap Thrills was being recorded & some of it shows up on Cheap Thrills. ‘See See Rider’ purports to be Janis before she joined Big Brother: live recordings of her folkie performances of songs like San Francisco Bay Blues. I downloaded it from iTunes so I figure it is really her but there is some doubt. Sounds like her.

I can’t say that I have a favourite track though. I’ve lover Summertime, Move Over, Piece of My Heart. There are couple that I’ve never liked from my first listen – both are considered her finest by many, but if I never hear Bobby McGee or Mercedes Benz again I’ll be happy.

The mp3 collection also includes: It’s A Beautiful Day: Live at the Fillmore West – prog rock psychedelics from compatriots of Janis. A great concert. Tina Louise (from Gilligan’s Island) It’s Time For Tina: easy listening lounge music. Evelyn “Champagne” King: Greatest Hits – Shame is a great song that I can imagine Janis doing. King has a great voice & if you love old school disco this is perfect for you. The Warning: Escape The Mind, XXI Century Blood: three Mexican sisters play hard-rock that kicks ass.

My connection to Janis was deepened by my friendship with the late, great Jackie Burroughs. Jackie was part of the film crew on the 1970 Festival Express – a train tour of Canada by groups such as the Grateful Dead – that included Janis. She & Janis were drinking & pot buddies so I got first-hand stories of their train-ride rides.

L.S.D and threesomes 

you know Dunc

I never really liked sex that much

not that I refused it 

or never chased after it

I always felt it was something 

I was supposed to

as opposed to something 

I wanted to do

 

some of it was good

I certainly enjoyed myself at times

even going through the motions

can have some positive results, right

 

the only man I ever really loved was Zal

we were both so young that it couldn’t last

I didn’t expect it to

 

usually I didn’t know what to say 

once it was over — thanks for the tumble

when Cohen apologized

for touching my then perfect body 

with more than his mind

I wanted to laugh at his conceit

 

often it was the only way 

most men would let you near them

they weren’t interested in conversation

I certainly didn’t want to know 

what they thought of my work either

 

the stories of them

are always more interesting 

than the having of them

l.s.d and threesomes with Janis 

the senator who later ran for president

the silver-tongued devil

 

though I did like some of them

I merely wanted them to want me

if I could have been wanted

without being had

I would have done that you know

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

L.S.D and threesomes

JackieB

rough draft

L.S.D and threesomes

you know Dunc

I never really liked sex that much

not that I refused it

or never chased after it

I always felt it was something I was supposed to

as opposed to something I wanted to do

 

some of it was good

I certainly enjoyed myself at times

even going through the motions

can have some positive results, right

 

the only man I ever really loved was Zal

we were both so young that it couldn’t last

I didn’t expect it to

 

usually I didn’t know what to say

once it was over — thanks for the tumble

when Cohen apologized

for touching my then perfect body

with more than his mind

I wanted to laugh at his conceit

 

often it was the only way

most men would let you near them

they weren’t interested in conversation

I certainly didn’t want to know

what they thought of my work either

 

the stories of them

are always more interesting than the having of them

l.s.d and threesomes with Janis

the senator who later ran for president

the silver-tongued devil

 

though I did like some of them

I merely wanted them to want me

if I could have been wanted

without being had

I would have done that you know

xmastree

I figured I’d close April with another piece about music. This one a companion piece to the Blues Magoos piece on Monday. Both were written for Jacob Scheier’s ‘writing about grief and loss workshop’ a couple of years ago. It’s also from conversations I had with the late Jackie Burroughs. I’ve put together bits from several of them, in which she named names but for the piece I opted to be more oblique.

She told me about her flings, about her acting misadventures and such. One of which was being on the film crew for the Festival Express in 1970 on which she became a drinking/drugging pal of Janis Joplin and they must have been a formidable pair to have crawl into a bed with – Eric Andersen was the particular target they never managed to get.

snowcone

It was clear that sex was an excuse to meet some of the men – a way into their lives – that could only be accessed with her body. It also made it clear to me the sort of price many men and women are willing pay to create connection. It seems nearly impossible for non-physical friends between the opposite sex to exist.

snowfort

I’d like to suppose this has changed but they’re still making movies about how this never works – sure I know movies aren’t reality but all too many take them as instructional videos. She said the sex she had with famous men was no different than the sex she had with stage hands.

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

broken

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Blues Magoos and more

Next on the pop shelf is a mp3 collection I got back to time & again. It’s a fun mix of generations all of which are now nostalgia. I have Blues Magoos, The Electric Prunes, Prelude, The Nerves, Live at CBGB’s and Tuff Darts! rubbing elbows.

tree

under the tree

Blues Magoos: Psychedelic Lollipop, Electric Comic Book, Basic: The extra trendy New York 60’s fashion on the covers is worth looking them up. I so wanted that polkadot shirt. The music is garage band, driven by that Farfisa organ of the time – very commercial and teen love ‘We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet’ with ‘psychedelic’ covers of Gloria, Tobacco road but this isn’t the psychedelic of The Jefferson Airplane or 5O Foot Hose.

I loved these first two lps & was shamed out of even owning them. But finally reclaiming for my iPod several years ago has brought me great joy – I play the first two over & over when they come up in rotation (even when they don’t I often get this urge to hear them again.) I guess there’s a strong residue of my youthfulness when I hear them. There are few lps that have this sort of play over & over hold on me: Country Joe & The Fish: Electric Music For Mind & Body; Mothers: Absolutely Free.

cars

four-car pile up

The Electric Prunes: Too Much To Dream, Underground, Mass – more ultra hip 60’s fashion. A guitar driven sound that made a radio splash then they sank – the songs are, at times, novelty type with hippy-dippy undertones. They seem so innocent now. Mass is exactly what it says: a Catholic sung in Latin. A minor sensation when it was first released, a sort of precursor to what began prog-rock.

Prelude: one hit wonder with a radiant take on After The Gold Rush – a sweet country folk sound that veers unexpectedly into Christian rock.

ball

the lonely ball

The Nerves would fit perfectly into CBGB’s – they wrote Hanging on The Telephone which Blondie recorded. They reflect the jittery rock power pop sound that CBGB’s breathed life into on the double lp of live music. The Shirts, Mink de Ville and more. I remember what a sensation this ‘new’ direction in music started but never really fulfilled. Tuff Darts! was one of the bands & I did come cross this lp of their’s: fine energetic rock. Where are the CBGB groups today?

sample

My late friend Jackie Burroughs lived in New York at the time of the Blues Magoos. She was married to Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful at the time. This is a true story.

JackieB

Blues Magoos

The song begins with a sweet thump of bass and drums, a guitar skitter and into a cheesy Farfisa burble — the singer starts smooth, “We ain’t got nothing yet.”

The music fills her apartment. Dust motes catch the light as they Swim to the music.

Jackie’s eyes widen as she sits in her well cushioned chair. She begins to laugh then coughs, can’t catch her breath. I stop the cd even though she waves for me to let it go on.

“Let it play, Dunc,” she gasps, takes a deep breath and is back to as normal as her many pain meds allow her to be. Pain meds that took a week of careful monitoring so she could keep a balance between awareness and total numbness. “Where did you find it?”

“Googled Blues Magoos.”

“You know I slept with their lead guitarist.”

“Dennis LePore?” I’d done my homework. The day before we’d talked about when she lived in New York in the mid-sixties, how she had slept around. A lot.

The next track, by a different band, started. Thin guitar, ragged drums, raspy vocal, “Are you a boy or are you girl?” This singer seems to struggle. The Blues Magoos were better produced.

“Holy fuck! I slept with the drummer. Moulty. I remember he only had one hand. Taped a drumstick to his hook on the other. The Barbarians.”

“I know. I know. Victor Moulton.” She had told me about Moulty a few times.

These were songs I remembered from when I was growing up in the sixties. Album covers I pored over to see what these exotic rock stars had in their pants. While I was poring she was sleeping with them, handling what they had in their pants.

She began to cough again. I was used to this cough. I’d been hearing it for some fifteen years now since I’d met Jackie. She was a walking cigarette that smoked like a chimney, so everyone expected it would be lung cancer but it wasn’t.

It was stomach cancer. Inoperable.

Tasty Toast

The Beautiful and the Damned (BuDa) Jackie Burroughs Toast at Zelda’s was yet another packed house for this new series. As one of the organizers I have to admit we are doing something right to pack them in with Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (http://www.cfsw.ca/) also packing them in on the same night.

DM Moore hosted a great show with strong open-stage performances by Marcy Rogers, and David Bateman.  Philip Cairns did a sweet, high-glitter, featurette with some of his affectionate poems about Jackie. First feature Sandy Day launched her book ‘Chatterbox  Poems.’ Having read the book I was curious to see how she would present her work. The book is structured with a prose piece then a poem – often the prose commenting on the poem to follow, which I quite enjoyed but wondered how the poetry would breath without the prose.

Sandy gave a strong if slightly nervous reading on her work. For her first time before an audience she did very well. The material was strong but as I did with the book, I found the prose passages more emotionally grounded.bluefloor

I did my featurette in the second set – mostly material from ‘Walk Through’ with one piece ‘Shitman’ that I had written with Jackie in mind. It brought down the house, while the ‘Walk Through’ pieces I choose got some laughs and even a few tears. Plus I sold some chapbooks.

bluebin

Rex Baunset closed the show with a rollicking, high-energy set of fierce gay-folk-punk songs. This man and an acoustic guitar can blew the roof off. I’ve heard Rex several time now and he gets better. His new songs were funny and hard-hitting at the same time. Someone get this man a record contract.bluesky

Being part of the BuDa team my opinions may not be totally impartial but such is life. The next BuDa is Thursday November 17 – hosted by Trasharella with spoken features – Heater Wood and Sonia Di Placido, musical feature Myke Mazzei – Zelda’s, 692 Yonge St.

samp01

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 super hero 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

redflowers