Modest Mojo Monae

I bought my first Modest Mouse cd on sale at HMV. That was the moon & antartica. I subsequently added Everywhere & his nasty Parlour Tricks, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, We Were Dead Even Before The Ship Sank, No One’s First & You’re Next. All of which I have as stand-alone cds. In a way they are reminiscent of the Byrds with jangly guitars & sweet harmonies. 

Their sound is a mix of emo & indie-rock. Lyrics are wry romantic commentary with a dash of political. Great word play – as the cd titles reflect. Sort of nerdy, sometimes a bit funky & dare I say – often pretty. Songs that show in for sensitive moments in romcoms & crime movies to give them a ‘hip’ echo. I always enjoy these when I hear them but rarely do I get the mood to pull out for listen.

Mojo, which I think is still publishing, is a British pop music magazine that usually had a cd included. Sometime the cd was a collection of recent releases, sometimes it was one they had complied of covers of songs by James Brown, The Who.  This one from 2007 is Sgt. Pepper lp covers by groups such as Simple Rid, Dave Cloud & The Gospel of Power. These the magazine commissioned. I love Sgt. Pepper & the still obscure groups do a great job with these songs & some actually re-invent rather than re-create the originals. 

I kept reading raves about Janelle Monae. I caught a video of one of her songs, then accidentally saw her live on some daytime talk show as I skipping through channels. I like her retro look & was intrigued by the sci-fi subtext of her videos. So I picked up ArchAndroid on sale at HMV & enjoyed it. Then eventually added Dirty Computer. Great production values, interesting songs & a great voice.

A short story discovered in my archives. It goes back to pre-1995 as the original printout is dot matrix 🙂 I’ve done minimal editing. It is based on a real incident.

The Allegory of Love

2

He laughed, stumbling into me.

“So, what’s the promotion mean?” I asked, steadying him with an arm around his shoulder.

“More money, more responsibility.”

“A good worker like you deserves it.”

He turned. “You always say nice things about me.”

I was nonplussed. “Why not? People deserve all the praise they can get. You’re pretty good people as far as I’m concerned.”

“You never let me down,” he want on, quite serious.

“Let you down? I don’t understand.” I resisted adding, ‘I don’t see you enough to let you down.’

“You’re always the same. You treat me kind. So many guys are just … mean for the sake of being mean.”

“I like you, Steve. That’s the way I treat people I like.” I put my other arm around him & kissed the top of his head. “And you I more than like.”

“I’m sure.” He blushed. “Well, I see 1708 still has a light on.” He was squinting up at his apartment window. “I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means.”

“And if it does.”

“Come on,” He pulled out his keys & we went in.

“This is still a gays only building?” I joked.

“I suppose,” he answered flatly.

At his door, he fumbled with the keys, dropping them twice. “Shit shit shit” he cursed under his breath.

“Well, here goes,” I whispered as we went in. I headed for the living room. A glance over my shoulder down the short hall & I saw that Ron’s door was slightly ajar. Next to it was the bathroom & then Steve’s bedroom.

“So far, so good,” I thought as I sat on the sofa in the darkest corner of the room.

Steve went into the kitchen & got a beer. He unbuttoned his shirt & sat next to me. There was a rustling sound from one of the cages behind us.

“Ofeelme is preggers.” Steve explained, sitting up on his knees & gingerly putting on hand into the cage to brush the fur of a swollen hamster. “How you doing little mama?” He whispered gently.

“How’s Hamlet?” I asked. 

“Proud as can be. I separated them because the last time Papa got a bit jealous & ate some of the babies.”

“Gross, Steve. You really know how to turn me on.”

He laughed, lifting Hamlet out of the other cage. “He’s happy to see you. Say Hi to Uncle Bri.” He sat holding the hamster gently in his hand, lightly stroking the fur between its ears. “You always love me, don’ you Hamlet? Food in the same place is all you ask. You know,” he turned to me, “he goes back time & time again to the place where he got food hoping to get fed again”

I kissed Steven the shoulder as he put Hamlet back.

“Let’s go to bed.” He gave me another of his wonderful, sloppy kisses.

I darted past Ron’s room to Steve’s just on the other side of the bathroom. As I pulled off my sweatshirt the dark hall echoed with the slap of barefoot on hardwood. It was suddenly flooded with bright light.

“Steven! How dare you! You know I have to work in the morning, you know.” Ron exploded with an exasperated whine. There was the sound of a smack.

I held my breath as the bare feet came directly to Steve’s room. The sound of that smack reverberated in my mind. The last thing I wanted was some domestic squabble. The door was shoved open hard & I was caught in the intrusive hall light. 

“And how dare … YOU? I told Steve never to bring you into my house.”

He clenched his fist & hit me in the chest. “Get out of here, you trash.”

Not much of a punch,” I thought. The glaring light kept me from being distracted by his hairless naked body.

“Get going, now.” He handed my jacket & shoved me toward the door.

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Triangle

Back to pop with a pair of cds by The Beau Brummels – Triangle – is one of my all-time favourites recordings – with songs & studio work with VanDyke Parks & Randy Newman – it a masterpiece that got sideswiped by Sgt. Pepper. Gentle, emotionally satisfying and haunting it is a true 60’s classic. Sal Valentino has an amazingly seductive voice.

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making tracks

The other is The Best Of – which includes their hits (really!) Laugh, Laugh; Don’t Make Promises. Some of the lyrics are laugh-out-loud, flower-power stoniness but well worth it.

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making a trail

A few years ago I was watching Hammer Films’ Dracula A.D. 1972 – setting the Count in London’s swinging scene – it opens with a band at a ‘hip’ party & the  lead singer’s voice galvanized me – I googled the film & found that it was Sal with his band at that time, Stoneground – needless to say I downloaded that crazy sound track – Mike Vickers (of Manfred Mann) created a electronica, orchestral score that is great. But Stoneground are fantastic – the film itself is as dumb as a bag of Hammer films but succeeds as a time-capsule of what the movies thought the swinging 70’s were about.

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are you following me?

 

 

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Judge

When Don saw so many people lined up at the ATM he walked away in disgust. After spending the afternoon with a difficult patient at the hospice he just wanted something, anything, to go his way.

He was used to dying people, who set themselves up as judge and jury and executioner of the living but this guy, Carl, had gotten under his skin in a way no one had for several years.

Now all he wanted was to stop for a quiet drink after work, unwind a little before he went home to his empty apartment, to his cat and to his bed.

Well his credit cards were still good and he could always transfer cash around his accounts to keep things in balance. Keeping in balance was important to him. The less interest the better. The less time wasted the better. The less anger the better.

Ah happy hour at St. Jack’s. May be this was when things would turn around for him. The warm dark of the bar pulled him in to its embrace.

He didn’t feel at home but welcome, wanted here. He found a table and even as he was slipping out of his jacket, Craig, one of his favorite waiters came over.

“Hi handsome. How you doing today? Looking to get happy?”

“You said it or forgetful. Which ever comes first.”

“The usual?”

“Okay.” Don wasn’t sure what the usual was for him. Sometimes he would order a beer, sometimes a double shot of the house Scotch. But whatever Craig would bring would suit him as long as it didn’t have too large an umbrella in it.

Before he got the bar Craig stopped at another table. “Hi handsome. How you doing today? Looking to get happy?”

Ah, well, the way of the world. He wondered if Craig actually knew anybody’s name. But still it was good to be treated with some interest, some affection, even if it was just a professional stance.

He enjoyed watching Craig. He figured the waiter was about the same age as he was, looked like he got to the gym more than Don did, and had the sturdy heft to his calves that Don would enjoy seeing naked. Hmmm. Now that wouldn’t be the usual though.

Craig put a tall amber frosted drink on the table. Don passed him his credit card.

“Shall I start a tab with this?”

“Sure.” Why not? Watching Craig for a while would help make this hour happy for him.

“Then maybe I’ll get you some pretzels. Don.”

So he does know me. Christ my name is on my credit card.

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#RubberSoul

Now we come to my Beatles stand-alones: these are the peak of their recordings and it’s hard to pick a favourite but it is easy to see their progression as musicians: Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road, and finally Love.

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All, except for Love, have powerful memories for me – being amazed at the Revolver cover, in love with the Sgt. Pepper art work – if only I still had that moustache insert. Rubber Soul was a hint at what was to come with its subtle studio work, In My Life is one of my favourite Beatles songs. The tripiness of Revolver & the amazing sweep of Sgt. Pepper. It was as if our teen pop music had taken on a whole new dimension of promise and had proven it was more than just kids listening to their transistor radios.

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I’m not sure if I ever saw Mystical Tour. Paul is dead – play this track backwards for a secret message – never did that either – but those songs Baby I’m a Rich Man, Hello-Goodbye. I still have my original lp of this one. Any offers? We’re talking at least five figures here.

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Abbey Road is stunning as well, no one knew at the time this was their last real album. It also contains my least favourite Beatles track – Something – if I never hear it again I’ll be happy. Love is George Martin,s sample happy mash up, put together for a Cirque show in Vegas. Sonically interesting but, to me, sad that this is the fulfillment of that whole new dimension of promise.

 

 

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New Beginnings

Anna saw the police car in her rear view mirror. Her hand jerked to shut her purse and sent the contents of it over the seat. The  pint bottle she’d just taken a drink from flipped to the floor and the smell of vodka filled the car.

Shit! I thought vodka has no odour. A mint! she needed a mint! There must be one in here somewhere.

She took her eyes off the road. Nothing. not even a stick of gum. Why wasn’t she prepared? Shit! Good there’s a piece of candy. there. A linty lime life saver that she hoped would be her life saver.

The police car pulled up beside her and signalled her over. She rolled onto the shoulder of the road. She kicked the bottle under the seat.

“Seem to be having a bit of trouble ma’am.” The young police officer said once she unwound her window.

“Oh sorry about that. My purse tipped over.” She waved her hand the the stuff that had spilled out of her purse.

“Why don’t you get out of the car and I’ll help you sort it out.”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary young man. Now that I’m stopped I can do it myself. You just stay there & direct the cars away from me. I was afraid of stopping on such a busy roadway.”

“No, ma’am I do think you better step out of the vehicle.”

“But …” she trust her registration and insurance at him. “You  see everything is in order.”

“Ma’am have you been drinking?”

“I …. I did have a glass of wine with my mother at the nursing home. For New Year’s, you know. That’s not an offence is it.”

Another officer joined them. This one was a female.

“No, ma’am.”

The female officer glared though the passenger window. Anna was sure she would see the bottle. Shit! Why didn’t she put that vodka into the sunny delight bottle she usually used. No she had to brave it with the actual bottle. Damn. Damn.

“Then I don’t see what the problem is. I’ll just put my stuff into my purse.” She pushed the newspaper off the seat hoping it would hide the bottle but as she did she glanced up at the female officer and knew it was too late.

“I’m sorry ma’am.” The female officer opened the driver’s door. “but, we really do have to insist. Here I’ll give you hand.” She undid the seat belt for Anna.

“Please I can do that myself self you fucking fascist pigs.” Oh God! What had she said that? Why had she picked up that pint after promising her mother she was going was going to turn over a new leaf. So much for that damn promise.

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