Into the Van

Continuing to listen to the heartbeat of Van Morrison I have Wavelength 78, Into The Music 80, Beautiful Vision 82, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart 83, A Brand New Sense of Wonder 85, No Guru, No Method, No Teacher 86, Poetic Champions Compose 87, Irish Heartbeat 88, Avalon Sunset 89, Enlightenment 90, Hymns To The Silence 91, Too Long in Exile 93, Days Like These 95, Duets: Re-working the Catalogue 2015. 

So you could say I’m a fan 🙂 Some these I had as lps, some as cassettes & now some are stand-clones & others mp3. Wavelength was Van going out his period of transition & into what I consider his prime with a series of spiritually complex &  musically compelling albums with often astonishing lyrics. He accomplished the sort of mystic poetics that band like Moody Blues failed at.

The albums from 78 up to 91 follow an increasing Zen sense of being with assessable lyrics & sweet music. There are some tracks full of memories of his Irish childhood that become universal – who doesn’t remember listening to the radio late at night, who doesn’t remember poets who raved on to open them to new thoughts. Van plays his sax in some deceptively simple instrumentals on some of these lps. He fully embraces his Celtic roots on Irish Heartbeat. 

The later albums are more reflective of his musical career & he is clearly aware of his legacy, which he continues to add to. He always followed his own muse, there is never a sense that he is out to create hit songs. This is adult pop – like Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne – to name a couple – who make music they want to make not what the market demands. 

This is a piece I wrote in the early 80’s.

Down The Drain

1

“It’s time we talked.”

“About what?”

“What do you think. About us. About what is going on & what’s to come of it.”

“About life & the superficial way so many people deal with it?”

“Don’t make fun. For once let’s be serious. Or does that make an unbearable demand on you?”

“I’m listening.”

We’d had this conversation once before. Then I’d only known Jim for almost four months, for me a remarkably long time. More than amazing was that nearly a year had passed since then & for the past few months I’d been expecting him to start another ‘serious’ talk.

Sitting on the sofa I pulled him close to me. 

“I’m listening.” I brush this moustache with mine, quickly darting my tongue along his lips. “Sex is all I can seriously think about when I’m with you.”

“I’m not complaining about that.” He pushed me away from him.

A vague tiredness came over me then, a sort of dismaying boredom, this time I knew he would corner me. I was used to slipping away. It wasn’t going be easy on either of us.

“Neither am I. Shoot.”

Jim seemed a bit surprised to find me receptive. He knew I preferred to avoid, or at least to cloud, emotional issues between us.

“Do you know where to begin?” I asked.

He shook his head. 

“Well, what it is? Does it something to do with me flip fucking you last night?”

“No.” He took a deep breath. “Weekends aren’t enough. You know I’d move in, we could …”

I silenced him with a finger on his lips. “Impossible. I couldn’t do anything with you around all day.”

“Fuck impossible! Do you know what it’s like for me when you aren’t around. You & your privacy. Selfish fucker you are.” He went to the window. “Sometimes I feel that what I want & what I feel aren’t really important to you, that this is all you want from me.” He gestured to his crotch.

“Okay, I’m selfish. I admit it. I want my own way, my own time & space. I can’t …”

“Jesus, Donald.” He punched the window frame.”You know how difficult it is for anyone of us to … You should understand …” Futility fused with a trace of tears challenged his usually placid composure. “I …I’m not blind. It’s not as if …”

He moved quickly, suddenly. My eyes blinked for the moment the back of his hand cracked against my cheek. I thudded heavily into the couch, my shoulders twisting as my head rebounded from his blow. I bounced a little into the next, slammed into the full force of his fist. I could taste blood.

The inside of my mouth was bleeding.

Silence.

I heard my breath.

Lungs bursting I inhaled blood & anger. Jim was crying, staring at his hands.

I wanted to talk, to say I understood his anguish, to explain how I invited this fury but I couldn’t. Words disappeared even before they could be conceived. I wanted to make a joke of this but I couldn’t.

Touching my nose I was relieved to find it wasn’t broken, merely bleeding. My left eye was numb, vision fuzzy, my bottom lip felt inches thick. Blood was dripping onto my t-shirt.

I tried to talk but gagged, spewing a self-swallowed mouthful of blood. Dazed I stood slowly. Jim backed away shocked & frightened.

(part 2 next week)

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Astral Van

I have been a Van Morrison fan since Moondance. Over the decades I have built a fairly complete collection, so large that I’m splitting it into two posts.  The first song of his I was familiar with was Gloria – though at the time I didn’t connect it with him. It was a cut on The Blues Magoos’ Electric Comic Book. 

His music journey has from from Irish garage-band rock with Them, to his early searching solo years after Astral Weeks, then Moondance, a return to traditional Irish, a transcendental mystic time of great spiritual discovery, to his present sense of looking back – even re-recording some of his early work. Each period has great work by this restless musical spirit.  

There are several books about him. I have read Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 which is an excellent look at the pop scene of the time & his formative US years. Many of the songs it discusses are found on Bang Masters (67). I picked this up in February 1993. Brown Eyed Girl was his solo break-though. Mostly good solid soulful rock. The Bob Dylan inference shows on some tracks.

I have as mp3: Astral Weeks Expanded Edition 68 – which has extended versions a few tracks. The jazzy/chamber music setting is sweet &, at the time, quite revolutionary so radio stations didn’t know what to do with – musically a clear influence on the chamber rock of groups like Antony & the Johnsons. 

A stand-alones I have Moondance 70, His Band and The Street Choir 70, Tupelo Honey 71, St Dominic’s Preview 72, Hard Nose The Highway 73. At one time I had them as cassettes & upgraded to cd. Moondance remains a classic, timeless album. A more commercial recording than Astra Weeks. The music is celebratory, romantic & fun. The next ones are less hit-song driven, his sound changes from one to the next, choirs on one, more horns on another. I had most of these as cassettes at one time. Also mp3’s of Veedon Fleece 74, A Period of Transition 77.

Listening one can sense how his real life is reflected in his music. The end of his marriage, the wrestle with booze & drugs, his spiritual longings & his search for ways to express though lyrics & music his need to balance his expectations, fame & friends. In some ways a male version of Joni Mitchell but with a more rock sensibility. All of these are great albums but if you are unfamiliar start with Moondance & then Astral Weeks. 

More Van next week.

Anticipation 4

It was as he said ‘I want to know’ that he realized he did, in fact, accept The Book. It didn’t matter what he did, he couldn’t avoid his fate so he might as well start living to enjoy it. It didn’t matter what he did as long as he did something. The idea of making a decision that was not escape frightened him. That was also in The Book – ‘Martin will make the fearful choice after death.’ He regretted that it was someone else’s death.

So, this was the day. Overcast & slushy. No Michelangelo skies. As he dressed he wondered exactly what he would be doing at the moment of impact, the fulcrum of healing? Saving a drowning child? Taking a good shit? ‘What becomes the healing the world the most?’ he inhaled ‘God’, held it; breathed out, ‘Thank you.’ Then reversed the order.

Recently he had been pre-occupied by what would become of him after that moment. The Book ended with ‘On that February 14 Martin will begin the healing of the world.’ Nothing followed. Not that The Book had even been helpful in any important way. He had frequently wished it had said things like ‘Martin will become a doctor, or ‘wear those blue shorts to the beach.’ It only commented ‘… will then no longer feel lost.’ The horoscope in the newspaper was more helpful.

He hoped that once he got the healing started he could begin to live his own life for himself.

A list of To Do Today on the fridge had only one item on it – ‘Replace plug on corner lamp.’ That meant a trip to the hardware store, people, uniformed sales clerks. All the things he’d rather avoid.

The elevator in his building wasn’t working, again. Luckily he only had a six flight walk. In the carpark he discovered his arial had been snapped off, again. At least this time they hadn’t scratched a map of the world on his roof.

He went the hardware store in the mall. Found what he wanted quickly then went over to Finest Burgers in the food court. Ordered one with works & found a quiet spot that faced the dining area.

He looked at the hamburger & the fries. Fries overcooked to just the brownness he liked. The first bite was perfection. He knew it wasn’t the most healthy food but the combination of salt, ketchup & grease exploded in his mouth in the most satisfying way. A way he knew alfalfa sprouts couldn’t come near.

The molecular structure of the grease changed & the cholesterol deposits in Martin’s arteries began to dissolve. 

Brenda’s doctor looked at the test results. “Gone! Completely in remission.”

Charles put the gun down.

Brian decided he could look after the kids without her.

The blood sample on the slide mutated, the helper cells began to win.

Sylvia decided not to have that last donut.

Martin glanced up & saw that it was just after one. The healing had begun! He looked around expecting to see transformation. All he saw was people eating. He bit into his hamburger, Perfection again. And so it should be, after all wasn’t this a perfect day. The first perfect day ever.

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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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McRae Baker Faithful

I love creating mp3 cds of mixed styles, generations & voices. On this one there is Carmen McRea, Anita Baker & Marianne Faithful. Can you imagine them doing an album together? Neither can I. I picked up a couple of 2nd Carmen’s lps decades ago & enjoyed them enough to transfer them to cd, then to mp3. I like her take on Alfie. The songs are jazz/pop standards & her style bridges jazz & pop nicely without becoming lounge. Not a mellow voice but pleasant enough. She’s in the Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson mold. Here I have: Sings The Great American Songwriters, Alfie, Portrait of Carmen.

 

I enjoy Anita Baker. She has a warm, sensual voice than could wring emotion out the phonebook (do they still publish phonebooks?). A female Barry White. She sings about love, unrequited, betrayed, lost, fulfilled & unexpected. The songs tend to merge into one another though – unless one is a real fan it is hard to tell them apart or even to tell which lp any one song is from. Comfortable, non-demanding easy-listening adult music. Psalms to codependency. Here I have Compositions, Rhythm of Love, My Everything. Copied from a friend’s collection.

Finally, as a real contrast to the other two, is Marianne Faithful’s Strange Weather. This is a stunning lp filled with songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Her voice is astounding, her world-weary lived-in interpretation of these songs is dour but not defeated. I love this lp & the emotional depth & history she brings without making the work maudlin or depressing. As she sings ‘As Tears Go By’ you sense that she doesn’t regret crying but that she’s not crying anymore. She’s a survivor. A must have.  

Micturition

Jim had to piss. Badly. He cursed the extra large coffee in his hand. If he didn’t have this so called important meeting at work, he would have stuck to the usual medium but felt he needed that extra zip of caffeine to get through it. Now here he was in transit and needing to take a pee so bad he was tempted to find a corner on the subway car to do it. He’d had to take this leak for the last two stops. He had another dozen or so to go and knew he couldn’t hold it. 

So against his better instinct he stepped off at the Bloor/Yonge station. He knew there were public washrooms there. The thought of going in there filled him with dread. Thousands of men a day went into this bathroom and the place had to be a cess pool of filth, stink & germs. 

The washroom was tidier than he expect though, but busy. Men of various heights at all the urinals. It looked like the last toilet stall was unoccupied. Even if all the urinals had been free he would have headed for a stall. Privacy was the key in public places.

He could smell shit. The smell got stronger as he neared the stall. Just what he needed. Some people couldn’t flush. Was that why this one was unoccupied. He nudged it open with his elbow. His hands touched nothing. His foot slid a bit on the damp floor and he nudged the door with more force that he intended. Something stopped it from inside.

“Sorry.”

There was someone in there. The door bumped whomever it was on the head. The whomever slumped forward off the toilet pushing the door shut again. One arm slid into the next booth. The head protruded from under the door. It lay at a weird angle to the rest of the body.

Jim dropped his coffee and stepped back.

“There’s a body there.” He said to the man he bumped into.

The next stall emptied. Jim stepped in over the arm. Body or not he had to take a piss. Damned if he was going to wet his pants and then have to talk to the police.

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Van McCoy Voyage

This mp3 cd collection is filed under Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony. Sweet Rhythm contains the hit The Hustle – which is a disco icon of the  Philadelphia sound. Strings galore, flute & still a template for dance music that emulates old skool. To be honest I hated it then but now it is sweet nostalgia & more than bmp under a diva’s voice.  Van McCoy died young in 1979 of a heart attack. Sweet Rhythm is easy & sexy.

Peter Brown’s A Fantasy Love Affair is more brilliantly produced dance music. In 1977 his 12″ version of “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me” reached the million dollar mark making it the first gold 12” single in history. This one brings back memories of my arrival in Toronto in 1979 & my discovery of discos in the gay ghetto. This is hip thrusting music, catchy & fun. Sexual & sexy.

These two were performers I had heard of before I downloaded their lps (with bonus tracks). The rest of there were unknown to be, even though I did know the songs. All were ‘discovered’ by tracks posted in my Tumblr feed. My music collection needed more r’n’b from the 70’s/80’s to round it out. 

I have the hits collection by The Main Ingredient: Everybody Plays the Fool that includes Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely. I loved both these songs but didn’t know who originated them. A sold soul band with strong vocals – reminiscent of groups like the The Four Tops – this is great music. Similar but more on the disco side is B.T. Express: Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied) B. T. stand for Brooklyn Transit. Great club music with a strong sexy edge.

I don’t know what the T stands for in T-Connection. This a band out Nassau, the Bahamas. I have the  Expanded Edition of their self titled album that includes the dance floor monster ‘At Midnight.’ The song brings back memories of getting home after Midnight and reeking go cigarette smoke & sweat. A good memory. Similar to them is Con Funk Shun’s Funk Essentials. As you might guess this a dance funk band – one that I’d never heard of before but am happy to hear now.

The holds true for Blue Magic. I have the remastered release of their first, 1974 lp. More in The Spinners mode of funk.  The longest lasting of many of these groups is Earth Wind & Fire here I have their 1980 Faces. I have several of their other lps scattered through my vast collection. Best known for their ballads this is another smooth, funky with a dash of jazzy band that produced dozens of constant lps.

Finally a San Jose, garage soul band Syndicate of Sound: Little Girl. This a bit of an anomaly here as fun, disco isn’t noted for garage bands the way rock’b’roll is – oddly street-corner doo-wop was never considered as garage band – maybe too much emphasis on vocal harmony 🙂 Anyway this a fun lp, energy with interesting r’n’b under pinning.

Had Enough

Except for the bartender the tavern was deserted. Doug ordered a bottle beer. Took a table that wasn’t too dark. He sat and watched the beads of condensation form and trickle down the side of the bottle. They pooled around the bottom. The pool heavier on one side than the other. The table wasn’t level. He wondered if there would be enough bottle sweat for it to form a stream away from the bottle.

As his eyes adjusted he could see the stains of other bottles left to stand on the table. The lights from the bar reflected and distorted on the wet surface of the bottle.

“You gonna drink that or what?”

“Huh?” Doug looked up.

“You been staring down that bottle for the last ten minutes. Won’t jump up to you mouth, you know, you gotta lite it for the full effect.”

Doug looked up to the voice. It was a young man. Late 20’s, he guessed. Shaved head big smile loose t-shirt and baggy shorts.

“Or would you rather be left alone.”

“I’m just having a beer and a think. Not looking to buy anything else.”

“Do I look like a hustler to you?”

Doug shrugged. He didn’t know what a hustler would look like but figured no one talked to strangers in places like this just to make conversation.

“Besides you look to be doing more thinkin’ than drinkin’.”

“Yeah. Well a think is all I wanted. Here …” Doug slid the beer towards the bald man. “I’ve had enough to think for one day.”

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Madonna


In my modest Madonna collection I have, as mp3: Like A Virgin, The Immaculate Collection, Music & as a stand-alone Confessions From The Dance Floor. So it is clear I’m not a fan – fans have everything, fanatics have everything plus the remixes, the outtakes, the concerts, the artfully torn t-shirt & the aluminum Sex.

Is she musically creative? Does it matter when you have such great collaborators, producers, costume designers, stylists & video directors? She admits she is a product, package & a boss lady. To me she was more a provocateur than a visionary. Like Mae West she used sexuality to establish her self, unlike Mae Madonna didn’t rely on a single persona to keep her career moving.

I love some of her songs, hate some of them – Vogue was one I hated & would leave a club (when I went to clubs) when it was played – I just knew we would get the 45 minute remix. Same with Papa Don’t Preach. Some I couldn’t resist: Lucky Star, Like A Prayer.

She sampled, borrowed, adopted, adapted freely from most pop genres with varying degrees of success. Her electronica didn’t work for but her retro disco, Dancefloor, cd was great. The Immaculate Collection of her hits is probably enough nostalgia for anyone; Material Girl is solid pop & in its way, is a landmark album of promotion power. I did have her ‘Sex’ but lacked

the sexy spunk of Mae West. 

 

Gambit 

I heard later than two guys were arrested for the beating. Jim Donaldson and Victor Hanson. Both almost twenty, so not guys we knew at all. My father called them trouble makers and wasn’t surprised they were the ones behind this. Seems they heard Mr. Razov had money hidden his house and broke in to get it and when he caught them they beat the crap out of him and left him for dead in his own house. Some kids have no respect for anything these days. My dad liked to ride that one whenever he had a chance to remind me to watch my step and show proper respect.

Midterm exams were coming up, so we all sort of forget about Mr Mr. Razov. He did recover from the beating but walked with a weird shy turn of the head whenever we guys saw him in the street. He never did come back to tutor the chess club. I don’t even know what happened to the guys who beat him up. 

Fifteen years later and I’m visiting my folks for a few weeks in the summer. University out of the way and I have a decent job in the movie biz. Lightning and that sort of thing. Pays well when it pays. I’d just broken off with Kevin. He was sweet but we both saw it wasn’t working out. So a few weeks out of all that was appealing to me.

Sitting at the table in the kitchen that had changed every time I saw it – new cupboards one year, new appliances another – it was not the repository of any childhood memories. My favorite cereal bowl wa along gone. This summer they were having the pluming redone to install a dish washer and so there’d be new counters et al. 

My Mom brought me a cup of tea. “I suppose you heard Mr. Mr. Razov finally passed away. Poor man. He was never the same after that time. You remember him?”

“When did he die?”

“Just last week. Service early next week. They’re waiting till his family could be here.”

I vaguely recalled that when he deflected he’d left behind some family. 

“Wife?” I asked.

“Nope. A son. It’s all in the newspapers out in the front porch.”

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

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Ravel, Tartini and Bach

Next on the classical shelf is a nearly 8 hour mp3 collection of work by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Giuseppe Tartini (1692 –1770) & soprano Amelita Galli-Curci (1882 –1963).

Ravel is best know for his Bolero & perhaps his Pavane for A Dead Princess But he did actually write more than that :-). His string quartet is often paired with Debussy’s string quartet which reflects the impressionist style that Ravel wrote in. I have the Bolero & Pavane in other collections. In this one I have the complete solo piano music & his piano Concertos, which includes the concerto for left hand written for a concert pianist who lost his right hand in the war.

The Bolero unwittingly set the template for much popular music. It starts with a single instrument & every 8 bars or so adds another layer or beat – which is how many jazz, pop arrangements are constructed. It’s almost mathematic in the progression & variations. Sadly Bolero itself is a piece of music I don’t care every to hear again though. The Pavane is elegant & so relaxing it frequently shows up in collections of the most relaxing music ever.

The solo piano is similar to Debussy but a bit more mathematical as opposed to impressionist. Dreamy, relaxing. I love the sonatas. The String Quartet is surprisingly sensuous as the strings wrap around each other & you.

I had one of Tartini’s violin concertos as lp to cd transfer but wanted a better quality, so picked up the Complete Violin concertos. Best known for the Devil’s Trill, these are great Baroque pieces full of trills &, I’ve been told, virtuoso challenges for violinists.

Also in this collection is Leopold Stokowski’s Bach Transcriptions which includes the Toccata & Fugue. The orchestral sound is lush, soothing & even spiritual at times. I love the toccata & this is one my favourite versions. Stokowski turns Baroque Bach into orchestral Beethoven. Stokowski is best known for his work on Walt Disney’s Fantasia – which is a movie that introduced many generations to the power of classical music & his orchestrations are the key to the success of the movie.

Finally in this collection is Amelita Galli-Curci. She was one of the most popular operatic singers of the 20th century. I’m not a big opera fan but this set of 1917-1928 recordings is one way of stretching my ears to music I’m not that familiar with. The sound quality is okay, as it is often is with these period recordings. I’m happy with these but don’t ask me to decide who is better her or Maria Callas 🙂

Ink

“Get your lazy ass over here! You hear me. Get that lazy ass of yours over here pronto!” Jen hung up the phone satisfied she had done all she had to do. 

It wouldn’t be her fault if Jim didn’t get there on time. No one could find fault with her. Unless it was because she had made the call. It wasn’t up to her to be anyone’s alarm clock but she didn’t want to see Jim get fired. 

Jim was told if he was late one more time that would be it. She didn’t really like Jim but was used to him. She didn’t want to have to learn how to put up with some other jerk off.

She went to the customer washroom. There was still time to check to make sure she looked okay. Her hair was not too wild but not too tame either. Her lip ring was healing. The redness gone. It didn’t distract too much from the eyebrow piercing or the shock of pink she’d had put in her hair for the week. Something  to change appearances around a little. The customers liked variation. Jim felt consistency was reassuring. He didn’t like change.

She could tell by the way his eyes sort of narrowed looking for a safe place on her face to look at. There were no safe places.

She glanced at her wrist watch. Hello Kitty’s face looked so snug strapped in the middle of her full sleeve, roses & koi tattoos. Expensive but not nearly as painful as the she had expected. Both arms. A girl never had to worry about what to wear with these. She held both arms out in front of her, turned them to enjoy the wrapping and overlapping vines, castles stars & comets that danced along and over her shoulders down her back. Sweet. Sweet Sweet. What would she get done next.

Jen went to the front of the shop. She didn’t want to open up till someone else was there. The design books were laid out, a sketched pad was by her station & she began working on the pirate ship she knew would look good on Jim. 

Yes today was the day he would get his lazy ass inked once and for all.
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More Than Love

A couple of one-hit-wonders songs from my highschool days have stuck with me. One is Seven and Seven Is by Love. It made me a fan but on the east coast finding their lps other than daCapo was all but impossible. In my collection I now have, as mp3s their First, daCapo, Four Sail, Forever Changes Concert, False Start (w/Hendrix) & Arthur Lee’s solo Vindicator; as stand alones: Forever Changes, Out Here.

Some I did have as lp but upgraded to mp3. daCapo is an amazing work, though Forever Changes is now revered at a modern classic. daCapo features Seven and Seven Is, plus Revelations – a nearly 18 minute track. The other songs are excellent pop too & the sound quality is excellent. They were on Elektra & were quickly eclipsed by The Doors. The record company put their push behind the easier to market Jim Morrison.

Each of Love’s albums is quite different – the first is garage rock pop; daCapo is more pop but with a Rolling Stones vibe; Four Sail has a Neil Young vibe; Forever Changes has a bit of an Astra Weeks feel. The live concert is sweet. Out Here is a cd I found here in Toronto & is good rock, pop. Arthur Lee is fascinating – a black, non-soul musician who had an uphill battle for recognition. Time for a bio pic of Arthur Lee.

Also on the mp3 collections are (naturally) The Lovin’ Spoonful: Daydream, Singles, Hums. I loved loved this band. The singles are classic radio pop, the lps add a nice mix of jug band & blues to their sound. This is music that makes me happy. Another 60’s classic is Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. The long title track made his reputation. The other songs are decent folky rock. For Brit balance I added Dave Mason’s Alone Together: British folksy rock from a sometimes member of Traffic.

The 2nd mp3 collection includes Canada’s The Collectors: First, Grass & Wild Strawberries – psychedelic band out of B.C. that still holds up today. I did mention earlier Count Five, so I added Rarities that includes a radio mix of Psychotic Reaction plus loads of other very garage band stuff. You might remember The Fool more for their trippy art work & clothes than for their Psychedelic Folk Essentials – very Incredible Stringband.

Wait there’s more! The obscure but enjoyable Erik: Look Where I Am – mild Moody Blues; Joey Scarbury: America’s Greatest Hero – a one-hit TV theme wonder, nice mild country rock songs. Someone posted a YouTube video of another obscure band: Wool: Wool – fun rock. I get to relive so many radio memories with Lou Christie’s Lightening Strikes: a hits compilation. The Gypsy Cried. Time for a bio pic of Lou Christie.

Finally is Donovan: Shadows of Blue -the most recent of all the music on these compilations. Yes he’s still alive, still recording & making okay music. Not the hippy dippy lyrics or the mystic feel of his early works – more of a comfortable country feel but his voice is recognizable.

Spring Gardening Tips

this is what I thought – he doesn’t care. I know it’s hard to see now why I thought that but that is what I thought – he doesn’t care – maybe it was because I didn’t really care myself. not many did actually but I didn’t want to admit it then. it was important that one appeared to care, right, so I was all about keeping up appearances. he wasn’t. even then it was clear he didn’t care. didn’t give a rat’s ass for anything. not even himself. I felt like my mother who planted a garden every summer regardless of badly it turned out.

my mother was working in the back yard. every spring she planted a garden. she was like that, hope would infuse her once the snow was gone and she would be on her knees digging in the dirt planting things for future generations. things that sort of grew then withered. she never found the right seeds. planting things that needed lots of sun in the darkest part of the the yard. things that liked it dry were always too close to the rain pipe. her intentions were good but her results were always dispiriting. she would sit on the back step smoking cigarette after cigarette as if some sort of tobacco ceremony was all that was needed to get the plants to grow like they did on the packages. I doubt if the cigarette ash was of much help.

the plants didn’t give a rat’s ass for her hopes, intentions, all they wanted the right soil. he wasn’t my right soil.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), is best known for a short movement in his Romeo & Juliette ballet suite, which I do have but was never that taken by. I have a double cd collection of The 5 Piano Concertos. As well as an 8.8 hr mp3 collection that includes his Complete Piano Sonatas, Complete Symphonies, & the Ballet Suites: The Buffoon, Love For Three Oranges, Waltz Suite, Romeo & Juliette.

 

At one time I had the Piano Sonatas as a MHS box set & an lp of one of the concertos. I upgraded to the Sonatas mp3 & found a double cd set of the Piano Concertos. I love piano music & Prokofiev straddles the gap between romantic & modern nicely. Not as lushly melodramatic as Tchaikovsky the concertos are excellent, the sonatas are emotional, lyrical but with a more mathematic sense of structure – not as florid as Chopin.

The Symphonies, which I have as mp3, become more modern & sweeping like Shostakovich but not as dissonant. Like many Russian composers Prokofiev makes use of stirring Russian folks songs that us delightful, somewhat patriotic & satisfying. If you are unfamiliar start with the piano concertos.

 

One thing I enjoy about many of many eastern European composers is the use of their folk melodies to create amazing, emotionally commanding music that even without being from there myself I am filled with a sense of losing & nostalgia. I have found little North American classical music does that to me. Is there an epic, sweeping symphony based on, say, Native American musical themes?

Green

“Apples bin Irish peace.”

“Yes. Go on.”

“I can’t think of anything more.”

Dr. Clarke put down his pen. “I see.”

“Is that a problem?”

“I don’t know. You tell me?”

“I wish I could think of more. Really. Sometimes my mind just goes blank … or so many things flash that I can’t grab them all. Don’t know which ones to say and as I start saying them the others darken. Disappear. Blank. I’m left with a blank.”

“That can happen. Try to relax. Green?”

“Peace. Did I say that already? I’m so afraid of repeating myself that I can’t think of anything to say. Nothing comes to me. I want to go.”

“You can leave anytime. If you want to get well you have to try harder.”

“I don’t see how this helps.”

“It helps me to find patterns of thinking. What does peace mean to you?”

“Peace? I’ve never thought about peace. Really. I guess it means like gardens and butterflies. Quiet. No, maybe some birds singing. Yeah and kittens chasing the butterflies around. Yeah, that’s what peace means to me.’

“That’s a postcard picture of peace but go deeper than a picture.”

“Peace isn’t perfection, is it? that’s what you want to me say isn’t it. Peace is impossible, it only exists in my imagination not in the world out there. There is no peace. Never ever going to be peace. Peace would be boring as fuck anyway. You know that, don’t you? Impossible.”

“Take a breath. That’s not what I mean but peace has a cost. In your picture who mows the lawn? Who plants the flowers? Peace isn’t an abstract thing.”

“I’m never going to get well, am I”

“Ready for the next word?”

“Yes.”

“Family.”

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January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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