Bad Bad Spirit Pie in Your Hair

Next on the shelf is a mp3 cd collection of radio fodder male singer/songwriters of the 70’s, with one exception. Here is Don McLean’s American Pie, Don McLean, Homeless Brother. Pie & Vincent are era defining songs that are used in countless movies for instant period ambiance – in fact all it takes is the ‘buy buy’ oops, I mean ‘bye bye’ & you know where your are in time. I loved that song. Vincent less so – too gentle & greeting card for me. McLean never matched this early success but continued to record. The self-named album sees him as a pop version of Noel Coward with fun songs two of which are worth tracking down: Narcisissma, On The Amazon. He’s sort of the US answer to Gordon Lightfoot 🙂 

I loved Jim Croce. On this cd I have You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, I Got A Name, Life & Times. As a stand alone Photographs & Memories; Greatest Hits. His writing & music was emotionally accessible, unpretentious & catchy. He wrote about ordinary men & women with lived-in affection. Looking for the track listings for his lps I want to name check every song as they are each classics. The emotional directness of some of the songs can make me almost tearful. His unexpected death in 1973 at 30 ended an amazing career.

Also inescapable was Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky. The album is sweet folksy, slightly psychedelic & fun with of course his big hit. Canned Ham his second ‘hit’ was good. He recorded a few more stepped lps then back – the music industry wasn’t for him.  The same is true for Scott McKenzie: The Voice Of … smash hit with If You’re Going – that road the crest of flower power sweetness – the album is a tad bit darker but those flowers lost their petals, as it were. Thanks to Papa John Phillips he (& Barry McGuire) fill blanks in the Mamas & Papas catalogue nicely. In fact Scott became a member of that group for awhile.

Lastly in this compilation is Elmore James: The Final Sessions. I wanted something to balance out the flower power weight of the other performers & this set. James is a true blues slide guitar magician. Only one album by him was released during his lifetime. This set collects his final two sessions from February 1963 in New York City, and he would be dead within three months of a heart attack at the age of 45. Timeless music.

The Kick Outside

On the subway the little girl kicked me in the ankle. She was about six but at that size and age who can really tell except a parent. I’m no parent. She was one of the prime reasons I wasn’t interested in being a parent.

I said, “Stop.”

She laughed and kicked me again.

I looked for a parent. Across the aisle was a woman beaming at her cute little girl, smiling at me to indulge the little sweet thing.

The little sweet thing had on patent leather shoes. Black shiny hard. As she was about to kick me again I gently pushed her back.

“Stop that.” I said.

The mother glared me.

‘“How dare you touch my child. Keep your hands to yourself.”

“Tell your child to keep her feet to herself.”

“You perverted slime ball.” The mother stood. “Touching my child. Don’t think you’re going to get away with that.”

Grinning, the child kicked me harder. People looked at us. The little girl began to cry.

‘“Look what you’ve done! Hold him there while I get the police.”

Two large men appeared and held me by the shoulders.

“The child was kicking me and I pushed her away.” I explained as they pulled me off at the next stop.

“She musta had a reason to kick you, you asshole. Your type makes me sick.” One of the men grunted.

They held me there for about ten minutes until the subway police showed up to see what the fuss was. The woman and child where gone. The guys holding me admitted they saw nothing.

When I got home there was a bruise on my ankle.

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Made a last minute decision to see Hay Fever at Stratford. Who can resist a plotless play about a dysfunctional family more into their snapping at each other than they are with their objects of their affection?

picnic family is no picnic

Stratford’s Hay Fever is fun, fast & good looking. The set gets applause when the curtain goes up. It’s clear that the cast is enjoying themselves as they invest their characters with great energy, and, as the script apparently calls for, artificiality. No line goes under-performed.

As much as I enjoyed this over-the-top-ness I found it hard to tell, at points, when or if the characters were being real, or what was ‘important.’ When every line comes across at the same volume they begin to lose emotional content. But perhaps that’s the point – how easy it is to get into that frame of mind one loses perspective.

plates family – the purple plate special

Throughout the play I felt echoes of Chekov’s tragic families, where the disfunction usually leads to unhappiness. Here the disfunction leads to more of the same – they remain unaware of the patter they perpetuate. I also saw in this the roots of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf: a family who plays emotional games with each other, invites guests into the games – in Hay Fever the guest recognize the pattern and slip out leaving the players still trapped in their game.

postcard  wish your family was here?

As I say the cast is strong. I loved Sarah Orenstein, who brought back, to me, with her constant cigarette, memories of the late, great Jackie Burroughs. A good solid production worth seeing even if it never quite takes flight


out of the 1999 archives:


the weather of me


evening sky

mainly clear

thin fragments of clouds

linger across the face

of the setting sun

red pink amber

the gentle persistent glow

that always returns after the rain

cool enough for comfortable sleep

sunny enough for plant growth

occasionally too hot for more

than a night of restless tumble

with regular winds

to blow the tired city air away

aware that even on those cloudy days

the sun is still shining

wise enough to know that the sun

doesn’t burn with intent


rare dramatic blizzards

infrequent tempests

predictably calm comfortable


a steady driving rain

between the sheets

an eager darting breeze

in conversation with the leaves


not easily affected by

other high or low pressure zones

stable enough to fend off

pressure zones from others

the welcome rain

the comforting sun

a breeze that blows clear and clean

most dusty horizons


a thunderstorm that knows

the clock will still tick

once the storm’s bluster

has died down

tree01 trapped in the family tree