The Kenton Experience

There is a genre of classical music in which pop music is turned into ‘serious’ music. There are lps of the Beatles done as Bach. The Vitamin Quartet has made a career of interpreting the likes of Coldplay, Lady Gaga, even Led Zeppelin as string quartets. All of which I have tucked away in my collection. Of these cross-covers one of my favourites is The Kennedy Experience. 

Led by violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy this Experience tackles – you guessed it – The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But instead of turning Hendrix into classical music it stretches into an exploration of wider musical horizons. Some meditative, Third Stone From The Sun; some rock out, Fire. All are fantastic & resonant. Music to treasure.

Near by on the shelf is Stan Kenton: 100+ Classic Greats: includes West Side Story. This high quality easy listening jazz. Instrumental music falls into so many categories – some of Kenton’s work falls under exotica, some nightclub, some late night cafe stuff, all good stuff though. This is a jumbled assemblage of a dozen or so lps dumped into a collection. I’ve arranged some of the tracks back into their original release lps, some I left randomized. The Latin tracks were easy to sort, a set of blues, one of show tunes, one of jazz standards.

Kenton is not a challenging band leader but is never boring either. You want challenging try Coltrane 🙂 You want boring try Kenny G. My partner had Kenton’s West Side Story as lp & I enjoyed it enough to replace it with mp3 version & when I checked it out on iTunes up popped this massive collection of 100+ Kenton, for under $10.00. So I bought it. Well worth it.

Another similar massive collection was ‘Songs You Know & Love.’ Songs I knew from movies, some my parents favourites & some from the radio. Performed mostly by original artists. Things like McGuire Sisters: Cuddle Up A Little Closer; Dean Martin: When Your Smiling; Eddie Cantor: Ma, She’s Making Eyes at Me. Another great public-domain jumble from iTunes for under $10.00. 

As I listen to these I wonder how long it’ll be before there are similar mp3 jumbles of today’s stars?

Anticipation 3

Another day Martin would never forget was the day he finally believed the prophecy. As a child he didn’t question the truth of what his parents had told him. At about fourteen he began to doubt, within himself, this weird reality that his parents had forced on him.

The doubt crystallized during a school seminar on ‘The Future.’ Because it had been set out for him ‘to heal the world’ he had never given his future much thought. He had no concept of what he wanted to be when he grew up. The Book made no career references, no hints as to whether he should become a doctor or a garbage man. What profession would suit the healer of the world the most?

His listened to other kids talk about how they had discussed their futures with their parents. Futures that included colleges, marriages; futures that had real plans. All he discussed with his folks was how was school today. He realized how abnormal his parents were. Maybe even a little crazy. The Book, The healing of the world! What a crock! They didn’t even go to church.

He carried those doubts for the next few years. Those years of believing his parents were insane were the worst. He spent days plotting to have them legally committed. He never spoke to his parents about his fears of their sanity. After all, there was food on the table. Rarely any shouting or fighting. A very normal family in all ways but this one little wrinkle – The Book. He pulled away from them & their crazy notions.

His best days were those on which he forgot the prophecy. Sometimes he even had weeks of that blissful forgetting, in which he was just a man plodding through his life as best as anyone else.

The worse days were the ones when he felt painfully trapped by a fate he couldn’t alter. A fate he didn’t particularly care for & which he had tried to escape any way he could.

“What if I die in an accident?” He once asked his mother. “Then what happens to the world? Huh?”

“You won’t Martin. You won’t die.” She admonished him gently.

So he became a daredevil. Drinking hard, playing even harder, fast cars, high mountains. Seeking to escape but always being faced with what couldn’t be changed.

Though his twenties he couldn’t make decisions. He turned his will & his life over to any escape he could find. Alcohol, heroin, women, men. It didn’t matter. His life was charmed & cursed both at the same time.

One fateful night he had a car accident. A little stoned he hit an icy patch, swerved into another car, & rolled his own. He lived. He needed steel pins to put his leg together. Three people died in the other car. He was unconscious for two days.

His mother was there beside his bed. The Book on her lap. As he opened his eyes, she read, with a calm flatness, “Even as a vegetable Martin will fulfill the prophecy. The decision is his.”

“Hell. Hell. Hell.” he muttered painfully. “Why doesn’t it tell me more. I want to know what to do till then.”

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The Discorporated Man

The Discorporated Man

<>

at first 

I thought I was dead

I thought

so this is what death is like

you feel nothing

you see though

<>

because I could see

I figured I wasn’t dead

I held my hand up

I couldn’t see myself

not even a reflection

not even that lame

blurred outline

like they use in movies

I wasn’t transparent

like glass

because you can see glass

I wasn’t there

<>

I could feel my skin

but all I could do was touch

I couldn’t hold

couldn’t grip

I couldn’t feel the air around me

yet I knew was standing on the floor

it was solid under me

I didn’t know if it

wooden carpeted earth

well I saw it was wooden

I knew I was here

<>

outside 

no one could see me

they didn’t walk though me

but somehow

around me

I could touch them

but not feel them

they didn’t feel me

not even a sight breeze

<>

I went to the office

no one sat in my cubical

the office manager

asked where I was

I could heard myself answer

she didn’t hear me speak

I was present

I wasn’t there

<>

I was breathing

I could feel my heart beating

I was discorporated

and I liked it

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Burton & Piazzolla

mirror01

I’ve written about Gary Burton before: https://topoet.ca/2015/06/08/gary-burton/ so won’t repeat much of that – a fascinating career arc that has produced a range of amazing music. His work with Piazzola is superb.

mirror02His work with Chick Corea includes Crystal Silence: a meditative, soothing, healing and sometimes playful set of duets I play twice in a row to get the most out of it. The holds true for his duets with guitarist Ralph Towner on Matchbook. The pieces on both set the mind drifting. Sound quality is superb as well.mirror03

The mp3 collection has some of this work with Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, & Astor Piazzolla. Each quite different – playful & delicate with Corea; jazzier with Metheny; dreamy & relaxing with Towner; sultry & latino tangos with Piazzolla. Burton was always a fine supporting play & a tasteful lead – he never out shone those he dueted with.nowgreen

Also in the mp3 collection is work by Lito Vital: romantic latino; Gismomti: superb guitar & fun latino; Gerry Mulligan playing with Piazzolla is a delight. Finally as a contrast Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller: one of my top 100 jazz lps of all time.sample

Sound Stone

‘No thanks,’ I mumbled.

A gradual silence rippled out from around me till the whole room was quieted. Even the harsh hip hop crackling from the broken sound system seemed to drop in volume.

‘No thanks?’ Mary turned and shouted the rest people in the room. ‘Anti-stone alert!’

This was greeted by  guffaws. The room babble slowly returned to it’s former pitch.

‘What?’ I asked. ‘Can’t I be here without getting high with you?’

‘Oh yeah sure honey.’ Mary purred as she leaned toward me, ‘I don’t give a shit.’ She stepped to the centre of the room. ‘But I’ll have to see what the others think.’

‘That is if they can think.’

‘Ooh temper temper. Sarcasm is the dullard’s defence.’ she chided me.

‘You use it so well.’

‘Not as well as you do,’ someone laughed from behind me.

‘Child either you are with us or you are aren’t. It is pretty simple. This is the Brotherhood …’

‘ … and Sisterhood,’ a female slurred out from another dark corner.

The stereo cut out. Through the broken window I could hear rain, cars, sirens, barking dogs. Was this pulse the next cut starting up?

‘Yeah … and Sisterhood of the Stone. No one sits here at this time of night without being a part of it. A complete part of it. Dig. Or do you want to become one of those conformists out there? Safe. Secure. Clean. Tight assed conformists.’

Someone handed her the tube and a lighter. She held one end of the tube close to my ear.  As she flicked the flame under it the resin in the end of it popped sharply. She drew deep breath in the other end. She handed the tube to the next person.

‘Conformity?’ I mused. ‘Conform with the pathetic rat race out there or conform with the people in here. Some choice.’

‘Babe,’ Mary exhaled the bitter smoke, her fingers toying with my zipper. ‘Do you know what you are turning down.’

‘Do you know what you are turning down?’ I kissed her and then pushed her away.

The electronic blip exploded into a shattered jumble of tones. I headed for the door. ‘Maybe there is no lesser of two evils.’

http://nanowrimo.org/

money

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mirror

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Aliens Anonymous

This title came to me while I was at a meeting recently. With my recovery anniversary near the start of July I’ve been thinking a little about when I arrived in the rooms, as it were. By the end of my drinking I was caught in a shame spiral that made death by alcohol seem deserving.

findme01

can you see the real me?

I was unable to be openly honest about my sexuality, except, of course, after a few drinks & oops things did happen with a ‘straight’ drinking buddy. So I was queer, a compulsive liar (because if I couldn’t be honest about myself why tell the truth about anything anyway, right); I was a thief. As a child I messed around with other children so I was a child molester anyway. There were no role models for me & like many closeted queer, I thought I was supposed to be a cross-dresser too.

On top of which I was (& still am) intensely creative, imaginative, & driven to express myself. Creativity is only respected if it makes lots of money – poetry is not butch enough – though no one ever quibbled about Leonard Cohen’s manliness.

findme02

am I’m in the kitchen or the bath?

I felt like I was from another planet – an alien – alienated from the culture I was living in on the east coast – there was an artsy crowd but I wasn’t considered their intellectual peer so never felt invited into it – coming into recovery was, for a time, finding myself with guys who were in many ways like me – queers who drank to get through the identity struggle.

findme03

there’s a whole person somewhere in there

In the recovery literature there’s a passage to the effect that ‘the old pangs of anxious apartness would disappear.’ Well, let me tell you that after over 37 years this hasn’t happened to me – I still feel that apartness, but today I’d rather feel it that numb myself to it. The apartness is a part of being human, I’d rather be human than an alien.

samples

another of the rough rough drafts of my canto-by-canto rewrite of Dante’s Purgatory. By ‘rough’ I mean this is the first time I’ve looked at this canto since I first wrote it several years ago.

canto 6

Verlaine urged me

toward the exit

on to the next stage of our journey

when the denizens of the terrace

turned nearly as one to me

and various of them

began to plead with me

 

‘Duncan please

you are the one who can bring us rescue

tell us what to do

or better yet intercede on our behalf

make the gates opens

let new light flood through to us here

let the steamer work

so we can get better espresso

call a repair man

we’ll pay you back later

you have the juice we need

to get all of us back on line

plug us in

line us up with the right wifi provider

bigger tetra-bytes of memory

please we trust you

you know deep in your own creative soul

that this is what you are intended for

don’t you don’t you

you many ever reach the heights

we have reached

but you can give us the boost we need

please

take a few moments

write a little affirmation for us

an ode to our creative souls

that will release us

from this endless unproductive waiting

you have to

you must

please pretty please

think what it will mean to you

you can become

a foot note

in our great biographies

in each of them

there are so many here

each of us is counting on you now

now bring the light to bear upon us

to get the beans ground properly

to get the waiters

to bring us the right orders

so what if we weren’t sure of what we want

you can straighten that out

get them to go to the Barista

the big steamer in the sky

to perk us the proper brew

please

please

only you can do that now

when you return from that trek

get all your friends to do the same

the more who wish us the well

the sooner we can get on with

whatever their is for us to get on with

do you understand

are you willing’

 

The misery and desperation

on their faces touched me

and sickened me at the same time

 

‘Get the fuck away from me

you bunch of lazy bums

so what if you had the spark

and let expectations dull it

shine your own shoes

that is the only way to do it

stop moaning and groaning

and counting on things

outside your own volition

to get you anywhere

the glimpse of purity you have had

can continue

but not though my eyes

only through your own

so stop looking to critics

buyers

juries

to give you light

but look instead to your own inner soul

to your own creative need

to do and keep doing

don’t blame me

if that light flickers

even if that light doesn’t appeal to me

so get the fuck out of my way

I have better things to do

than intercede on behalf of any of you.’

 

‘Oh yeah

what is Verlaine doing

is he not interceding for you.’

 

‘He is my guide nothing more.’

 

‘Then be our guide too Duncan

you have to lead us

through to the next level of consciousness

to the great transformation

you must

you can do it.’

 

‘Look I have enough trouble

doing that for myself

I’m not to be followed

in any way

I don’t even like Verlaine’s verse

I hate to admit that

I can’t even think of a line

but he has been sent to me

unbidden

so perhaps someone will be sent to you.

so now get lost

because it was in being lost

that I was sent this guide

lost and powerless

not knowing there anyway out

you think there is a way out

until you lose that thread of hope

there is no way out’

soon02

September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo

Expo15

( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

http://fanexpocanada.com

October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice

noiroc

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nano02

http://nanowrimo.org/

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mirror

shelf reflection

#Washroom #Selfies

Is there a National Selfie month yet? Maybe April, because that’s the only month with an I in it 🙂 One of the many things I realized when I watched the Vivian Maier documentary was, not only wasn’t I taking enough photographs, I wasn’t taking enough selfies.

me03 I’m down there somewhere

I consider myself more a guy who takes pictures than a real photographer but the film pushed me to make some concerted changes in my approach to what I point and click at. But I get bored easily and once I have enough pictures, say, of toilets at the curb, I lose interest.

me02 don’t ask about the mirror spatter

I have lots of shots of me taken by others, mostly me on stage trying not mug for the camera or the audience. So I decided to start taking pictures of myself in various reflective surfaces. I know the traditional selfie is camera at arms length pointed at oneself but that’s not me (yet).

me01 dimly dimpled

Turns out that the mirror selfie is an almost requirement for cute (or otherwise) (maybe) queer guys. I have seen endless washroom mirror shots of guys, flexing, smiling, jacking off, etc in the mirror. From all sides, nice ass shot hot stuff. Which lead me to start doing the same – only fully clothed. I picked public washrooms that I actually use – some in parks on my morning walks, some restaurants where I dine. Some in cast off mirrors on my walks. I’ve never been comfortable having my picture taken & taking my own makes me feel more uncomfortable – something about not wanting to appear too vain and lack of positive self-image iced together.

me04 there is an i in both urinals

This exercise has helped reduce those feelings, somewhat. The next phase will be to do adopt the comparison trope – guys hold something next to their cocks to prove just how big it is – remotes, beer cans, tape measures & the like. I won’t go the cock route (yet) but will see what I can hold up to show how big my ego is in relation to some ordinary item 🙂

 

samples

The Golden Triangle

I wonder where they are

that background – what is it

why that wall paper

why those paintings

the men in the picture

naked sometimes hard

sometimes with flies open enough

to let their business out

or pants pulled down enough

to see pubic flourish

with that aching member arching

into the camera’s eye

my eye

wandering away from the pivotal point

the golden triangle not holding me

as I wonder

where did they get those curtains

where is the light coming from

how long have they squirmed on that couch

that weirdly colored rug

while someone

clicks and focuses

getting them to turn this way that

ooh that’s good

getting them to pout to smile

grimaces that only convey

how uneasy they are in front of a camera

faces that reveal nothing

not even discomfort

sometimes a splash of stoned

the goofy far away look of someone

who has once again

retreated to some other moment

while someone with a camera

zeros in on the part of them

that tells viewers nothing

that may make mouths water

but it ends there

I wonder   what next

did they go for drinks

was there money exchanged

paying their way through college

or

are they just hapless street boys

lost and being prayed upon

are they confident hustlers

aware of the power of their sweet grins

firm chins and eager eyes

is there pleasure there

more than a rote factory of okay

if you ran into one of them

on the street

sitting across from you on a bus

or serving you a coffee

what do you say

do you recognize that face

does it seem familiar

but you just can’t place it

without those curtains behind it

if you remember

then what can you say

‘I really dug your scene on BBoys’

how do they move

knowing there are men

out there who know

their photographic

pixilated

flatscreen bodies

better than they know their own flesh

viewer and viewed

strangers in a circle

a lens

that captures them both

one in a moment that never changes

each time it is viewed it is the same

no new light no new angle

can fall on the image

no matter how often

I count the petals on the rose curtains

study the business

that is never put back in its pants

I can never taste it

warbox bigger is it than my head

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