Motherly Love


On the shelf by the Mothers of Invention I have: Freak Out 1966 MOFO Project includes original plus out takes etc; Absolutely Free 1967; Only For The Money 1968; Cruising With Ruben & The Jets 1968; Uncle Meat 1969; Weasels Ripped My Flesh 1970; Live at Fillmore East 1971; The Grand Wazoo 1972 – big band mostly instrumental; Bongo Fury 1975 w Captain Beefheart. We’ll get to Frank Zappa when I get to ‘z’ 🙂

The Mothers expanded my music consciousness with their humour, their sometimes complex engineering, their fearlessness & their musicality. I can still hear ‘Susie … Susie Creamcheese.’ The endless layers on ‘The Money’ is a headphone extravaganza. The lyrics are timeless – who are the brain police – what’s the ugliest part of your body – brown shoes don’t make it.

Musically they veer from doo-wop, to rock, blues, avant-guard, Motown – sometimes all in the same song 🙂  One of few really prog-rock bands that continued to grow & show their listeners radical political & musical theories. I have to admit those first three lps were my favourites & can still be challenging to listen to today. the MOFO reissue of Freak Out is excellent. It includes full tracks of the pieces that were edited down for the lp. 

Absolutely Free defines the anarchic hippy counterculture in a way no other band at the time does. It spared no one, including the hippies themselves. ‘Money’ from its all out cover attack on the Beatles is sonically stunning, lyrically merciless & musically stunning. Plus Eric Clapton on guitar, if you can find him in the mix.

Ruben is a tribute/parody lp of doo-wop & bubblegum pop that verges on being the real thing. I love it. Uncle Meat is a sprawling mixed bag highlighted by the King Kong variations with Jean Luc Ponty. The cover is wild, but not as visceral as the cover for Weasels Ripped My Flesh: mix of live & wild studio work. If you are unfamiliar with the Mothers start with Absolutely Free.

Zappa’s musical influence is reflected in there work of Plastic People Of The Universe Czech rock band from Prague 1968–1989: Apokalyptikej Ptak (Live), Co znamená vésti koně (1981). A video of their’s turned up in my Tumblr feed so I tracked them down. This is an amazing, radical band that I dig. Check them out of YouTube.

Anticipation 2

Even today, just thirty-one years after that first reading of The Book Martin could still taste that vomit. He rinsed his mouth out with hot water & spit it out. ‘Oh God, why me?’ he thought. Inhaling ‘Thank You’ held in, breathed out ‘God.’ After nine breaths reversed the sequence.

Towelling down he recalled that by the day of his tenth birthday he had forgotten all about The Book. He had his first bicycle to look forward to. A fire-engine red two-wheeler. The Martin Flyer he had named it weeks before even asking for it. He ran alway home from school in anticipation of that bike. Sure enough it was there on the front veranda. A big red bow tied to the parcel carrier. In the house there was a cake on the dining-room table.

“Did’ja get ice cream, Ma?” He asked. “Let me go to the store & get some. I’ll ride the Martin Flyer & be back in a jiffy.”

“We have plenty.” She laughed. “But …”

“Yeah, Ma, what?”

“It’s not important.”

“What Ma?”

“Well, I thought maybe you should meet Dad down at the bus stop. He may have something for you to carry home.”

Martin was out of the house by the time she said bus. Much to his disappointment his Dad was at the front gate already.

“I was just coming down to meet you!” Martin exclaimed.

“Well, don’t let me stop you.” His Dad laughed, “I could still be there waiting for you, too.”

“Ah, Dad.” Martin half-laughed.

“You’re home early dear.” His mother came to the door & kissed his father.

“Well, I wanted to be here when …” He stopped & nodded at Martin.

Martin suddenly remember The Book. His stomach began to ache.

“I don’t want to know,” he said louder than he intended. “I need to know what any weird book says about me.”

Now looking at himself in the mirror he still didn’t want to know. Strangely he really didn’t know anymore about it all than he did then. Except that he would finally know today, at 1 p.m. All would be revealed.

It was several days after that birthday he finally rode his Martin Flyer. The ache in his stomach turned out to be his appendix. An ache that was not in The Book. At first his parents thought he was reacting to what had been written for him in The Book.

He, Martin, would heal the world. The phrase ‘heal the world’ made him dizzy for many years. No mention of how. Just the bare fact of when – ‘In his 41st year on February 14, 1 p.m.’ That ‘when’ was finally here. Or would be in a couple of hours.


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Morphine Machine

The Music Machine: Turn On! Yes, let’s turn on to 1966 with this amazing garage band. This was one of the first lps I remember buying. Still in high school & ‘innocent.’ I loved the hair, the black leather gloves they wore on stage, the turtlenecks. The front cover is reminiscent of the Beatles but the music is not, even though they do a cover of Taxman. I dug them 🙂 Listening to it now it is well produced with good studio use of echo, even a touch of flute. Reminiscent of early Steppenwolf or Grassroots. 

The lp was worn grey. The band was lost in the wake of the British Invasion & my interest was washed away by Hendrix, the Stones – you know, music that wasn’t built around Farfisa organ & bass. Definitely teen boy music. I bought the cd in September 1994 when I was deeply involved with Bushwack Theatre. I remember walking from the Lab on Britain St. to Sam’s on Yonge St & looking for this in particular. It was there but as a high-priced import, with no bonus tracks. I think I went back to Sam’s twice before I gave in & bought it. That year I played it over a dozen times for the powerful nostalgia it brought. I do not have any specific memories to go with it though 😦 except of me loving it in 1966.

The first track I heard by Morphine was either Honey White or French Fries With Pepper. I don’t remember where I heard it but I loved the sax driven sound. I was also taken by the lyrics & the voice of their lead singer; he reminded me of Tom Waites in delivery & the jazzy sound was perfect for me. I have Cure for Pain; Yes; Like Swimming; B-Sides & Otherwise. All are my favourites 🙂

Because of its instrumentation Morphine is considered ‘alternative.’ It’s definitely not U2 but the music is not that challenging or abstract. Solid, propulsive, hummable & relatable; adult music not teen-boy pop. They were on the verge of going mainstream when their lead vocalist died of a heart attack onstage in Palestrina, Italy, on July 3, 1999. What a way to go. If you are unfamiliar, start with any of their lps.

This piece goes back to late 80’s.

Anticipation 1

The electronic alarm bubbled. He took several deep breaths. Inhaling he thought “Thank you” held it, breathed out “God.” Then reversed the sequence. He didn’t want to feel he was breathing God out but inhaling the strength that his feeling of God gave him.

The telephone burbled. He thanked God for electronics. No more thought jangling ringing. The telephone continued to burble. Now, was that one burble or two? He wondered, as he picked up the receiver.

“Good morning, Martin.”

“Mother?” What did she want?

“That’s right dear. You remember what day this is?”

Martin glanced as the read-out glowing on his clock. “February 14, 19 …”

“Now Martin don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten …”

“To send you a card? Of course I did but …” Then he remembered. “Not that February 14?” Shit! Shit! Shit! This was not going to be such an ordinary day.

“That’s right Martin dear. The prophesy will be fulfilled today.”

God Thank You God Thank You God, he breathed in & out deeply. “Thank you, Mother.”

“One o’clock.”

“I know! I know! I’ve lived with the damn thing for … ”

“But you forgot.”

“As was foretold. ‘His mother would remind him.’ Isn’ that what it said in The Book. Thank you Mother. Now can I take a shower before …”

“It doesn’t matter what you do, dear. The prophecy will be fulfilled today.”

“Please, mother, give it a rest. Good-bye.”

As he hung up he heard her say, “Christ be with you.” 

Thank God, he breathed in, I’m not, he held his breath, a Christian, he breathed out. He repeated that nine times on his way to the shower. With the water almost too hot to tolerate he remembered the first time he had read The Book. 

It was a week before his tenth birthday. The Book was kept in a chest under his bed since he’d been born. He knew it was in there from having seen his parents look at it late at night when they thought he was asleep.

For the few months before his birthday he’d felt an urge to see it. As soon as he thought they were asleep he pulled the chest out & lifted up The Book. It seemed to resist him the way like poles of a magnet repel each other. It wasn’t very thick but took all his strength to lift it. The cover, as thin as it was, resisted his effort to open it. Once he had it open the heaviness was gone.

In the half-light of the moon he couldn’t make out what was printed on it. The typewritten pages, ragged along the edges, were covered with finger smudges & circle stains where cups had been set on them. As he turned the pages they became clearer & easier to see & to understand.

His heart beat faster & he uttered a little cry when. at the top of one page he saw, in capital letters, MARTIN. His eyes skimmed the page & fell on ‘At ten years of age he shall be told, but he will already know. He will want to escape, but he will never stop knowing.’

Suddenly fearful, he shut The Book & shoved it back inside the chest, pushed the chest back under his bed, ran to the bathroom & vomited.

(what else is in The Book – tune in next week for another trilling episode)

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The Monkees

I have to admit the first time I heard ‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone’ I wasn’t impressed, main key because I was a snob who felt only the British groups made real music. The Monkees music was dismissed because they didn’t even play the instruments on their lps & some doubted if they even did their own singing. They were a live action version of the cartoon Archies – in fact both groups shared the same musicians & songwriters. The TV show was madcap fun & more anarchic than, say, Bewitched.

Over a couple mp3 cds I have The Monkees 1st; More of The Monkees; Headquarters; Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones; The Birds,  The Bees & The Monkees; Head, 33.3 Revolutions Per Monkee;  Instant Replay; Changes. Over time they wrote & played on more of their songs, toured, worked with Frank Zappa but never lost the taint of being a package product. Finally they became a nostalgia circuit feature.

Today I love those early lps, full of solid innocent songs that are well-crafted & beautifully produced. I know enough of their history to know the actors were musicians but like many musicians they were boxed in by commercial needs of the industry. The songs would be just as solid by any band. The construction of boy/girl bands is an industry manufacturing process that continues today. Listening to them I hear a sexual innocence in the lyrics & performances. I knew girls who loved the guys in the band & who drummed of kissing & hugging them. I doubt if they dreamed of gang bangs in motel rooms.

Rounding out the cds are Tommy James & The Shondells: Cellophane Symphony; Anthology – some of this is prime radio psychedelics. The unneeded version of Crimson & Clover is wild. Symphony is worth seeking out if you don’t have. Three Dog Night: Harmony – more prime radio music that is well-crafted & my favourite of theirs. Finally Paul Revere and The Raiders: 63-67: The Essential Ride – more golden oldie hits that bring back memories of high-school sock-hops. It was perfect doing homework music.

This story goes back to mid 80’s.

Cooler

part 2

A leather number from behind Dan said. “Gimme a Blue, Carl. Looks like a slow night.”

Carl had already gabbed a Blue before the guy had asked for it. “It’s early, Mike.”

“We met before?” Mike asked.

Before Carl could answer there was a ruckus in the front bar. He couldn’t see around his cooler to find out what it was, until a very drunk man fell into the middle of the dance floor.

“You bunch of fuckers. You bunch of dumb fuck fuckers.” The man was weeping. “None of you gives a shit about anyone but yourselves.”

Carl recognized the man as Jim, the doorman who had been let go just before he started. Something to do with missing money.

Jim got up unsteadily, pulled his jacket off & started swinging it around over his head. “He’s dead & all you ass holy queens want to do is drink & fuck. You don’t care. You don’t even care about yourselves.”

The he that was dead was Wilson, the man whose bar station Carl now had. Let Will wet your willy was the sign that used to be where Carl’s Cooler was now. Jim was in front of Carl, glaring at the new sign.

“God, I loved that man.” He was on his knees crying into his hands.

Those men who weren’t stunned, looked away embarrassed by this unexpected display of reality. 

“Interesting floor show.” Carl heard someone snicker as he passed.

“It wasn’t his heart, you fuck heads!” Jim shouted at no one in particular. “This bar killed him. He died right here. You cunts don’t even have the decency to respect his memory.”

“What did you expect us to do?” Jack asked, firmly pulling Jim to his feet. “Have his cooler sign bronzed? We sent flowers. We closed the day of his funeral. We …”

Jim shoved him away. “Big fucking deal. Flowers. We all owe that man something. All of us. You throw away his sign & people’ll forget him. You can’t forget him, ever. Please don’t forget him.” He grabbed Jack & shook him. “He was a good guy. Not like these other assholes. He cared about people.”

“I know. We all know.” Jack sighed. 

Carl shook his head knowing Jack was bullshitting Jim. When he was hired Jack had told him he was glad to be rid of Will. Will was too fond of organizing bar nights for the local AIDS group, fundraisers, that seemed to attract an uptight bunch, who rarely spent enough to cover the cost of lights for the night. To Jack, Will was a community pain in the ass.

“You don’t give a shit & you all don’t give a flying fuck. You bunch of simpering self-centred cunts. Especially you Jack …”

“Calm down Jim. We’re even …” Jack paused to think “ … setting up a fund in Will’s name for the AIDS hospice. Yeah, that’s it. All the boys are going to chip in one night a week’s tips, too, to keep it growing. Right Carl?”

He turned to Carl for help in getting things back to normal.

“Oh, yeah. Sure.”

“How come no one knows about it? I don’t see nothin’ anywhere.”

“We haven’t had time to get signs. Carl, you were going to look after that, weren’t you?”

Not wanting to get drawn deeper into Jack’s deceit, Carl answered, “They’ll be up before the night is over, Boss.”

“Jeez,” Jim became sheepish, almost apologetic. “Sorry.”

“Come on,” Jack guided him firmly to the front bar. “Have a drink on the house & I’ll get you a cab home.”
Carl put up a Back in 5 sign & went to the supply room. It took him almost twice that long to find pieces of cardboard, finally torn from a beer case, to make a couple of signs that said: 

Will’s Hospice Fund

Once there was a Will

Now there is a way

He taped it to a water carafe & propped the carafe at the end of his counter. He hadn’t known Will at all, but could sense how much he regulars missed him. Will had worked there since Matthew’s first opened nine years ago. Some still half-expected him to to be there when they came to the cooler.

The crowd quickly got over Jim’s reality reminder & business picked up sharply. Carl like it best when there wasn’t much time to think. Just bend, grab, open, make change, thanks, next, repeat, jokes, thanks. It gave him no time for anything except what had to be done. No time to dwell on the past, future or Jack. Just smile, say thanks, & drop his tips into Will’s can. He briefly thought about Dan & wondered if he wanted to be bothered with this whole meeting someone routine.

“Miss a turn on the Yellow Brick Road?” a young guy is a black t-shirt asked.

“That’s right. Now don’t get this on your red shoes, Frank.” He passed the guy a beer.

“How did you know my name? Better yet how did you know what I wanted?”

Carl tapped the side of his nose & winked.

“Well, smell her. A real witch. ” Frank smiled to his companion. “No wonder there’s weird vibes back here.” He went on. “Is it colder back here or is it just me?”

Now that it had been mentioned, Carl realized that he had been feeling chilled, but moving in & out of the cooler made it hard for him to judge how warm the space was.

Don’t miss the thrilling finale next week 🙂

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Moby Grape

Their 2nd release was the double lp Wow, Grape Jam – which were eventually also released as separate albums. Its gimmick was a track (featuring Arthur Godfrey) recorded to play at a 78 rpm – I rarely heard it then as I was too lazy to change the speed. The other gimmick was the Jam album of live jams with the likes of Mike Bloomfield, to prove their musicianship.

 I can remember getting that first lp from the Columbia Record Club as there was no retail store in Sydney that carried much non-top 40 music. The same for Wow. I really like the art work & the titling for 2nd lp Grape Jam etc. Very clever & trippy. I enjoy that jam music now more than I did then. I replaced those early lps & the two subsequent ones with mp3 downloads. I had never heard Truly Fine Citizen or 20 Granite Creek until I downloaded them. Booth were critically well-regarded but not hit parade material 🙂

The band was plagued by internal conflict & major management issues & that was reflected in the music they produced. They never developed a cohesive sound – having 5 lead singers may have influenced that. The music is rock with some psychedelic touches. Their sound was never distinctive but each lp has great tracks & some unexpectedly pretty moments. Even a few classics: Omaha, Murder In My Heart. 

Truly Fine Citizen, 20 Granite Creek are more cohesive if undistinguished. They move from a rock sound to a more country-rock sound. I have downloaded the re-issues of the first lps which come with lots of bonus tracks. The group apparently is still together with some of the original members. If you are unfamiliar that first lp is an ideal one to start with & it is a classic of the late 60s California sound.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures. 

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St. Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of body wash brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dollop of moose mustard on your red hots. 

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Joni and Ancestors

 On an mp3 collection I have by Joni Mitchell: Live at Club 47 – 68, Clouds, Ladies on the Canyon, Blue, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira. as well as: Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day; Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth (Little Boxes): Melanie: Candles in the Rain. As Joni stand alones: For The Roses, Court and Spark, hits 1. Plus Herbie Hancock’s jazz homage – The Joni Letters.

I enjoy Joni Mitchell but I am not a huge fan. I certainly respect her as an artist & love her willingness to follow her musical muses regardless of commercial appeal. But if I never hear ‘Both Sides Now’ again I’ll be fine 🙂 As I look over the rack listings for the lps I have my favourite remains ‘Songs To Aging Children Come’ which, as I age, becomes even more pertinent.

I never really followed her career’s ups & downs, or her private life so I hear her songs without that baggage. There are cuts on each of these lps I love, some lps that I can’t name a track from. I find that one of the lps suffer from a mix that buries her voice in such way that it is lost, to my ears. Tracks slip into one another – if there were no silence between them I wouldn’t know when one ended & another began.

Unlike similar female artists, such as Laura Nyro, she survived in the  male-dominated & dictated music industry. She didn’t get buried for forging her own path or for not selling zillions of singles. 

On this mp3 collection I put her into context with other California folkies. Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day – this is sweet, folk-rock with a tinge of jazz, bluegrass. Richard’s early death turned him into a legend. 

Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth. Best known for the hit Little Boxes (the precursor in a way to Big Yellow Taxi) this is protest music in a fun 60s way. Almost traditional folk this a lost treasure full of sharp social commentary. The New Restaurant is timeless, as is Little Boxes – some things never change. 

Melanie: Candles in the Rain. Melanie owes a lot to all the above. She managed some top ten hits then sort of faded away.  Lay Down owes much to the Edwin Hawkins Singers for its success. ‘Look What They’ve Done To My Song’ is a classic but in her case it’s also come ‘’Look What They’ve Done To My Career’ when her label dropped her for refusing to produce lps on demand.

The Grinding

Festive readers, I am pleased to bring you a wrap up of the week-end’s events.  The highlight of which has to be the annual Lighting of the Trees. Held in several locations in the hills about Crab Apple Corners the horizon is illuminated by the first official rite of the season.

I choose to attend the ceremony at Hijil’s Farm – they had obtained two of the remaining stand of ancient red wood sycamores and had them flown in for the occasion. Trees so large they needed two helicopters to carry each of them.

The first flame was applied to them by our local Miss Pig Driver, Tanis-Lotus Flatly. The trees did us the great honour of being slow to ignite, but once they had been engulfed in flames the look of joy in the faces of the children was worth the wait.

Once these two trees were in flames, burning torches were taken to the sites where other trees were ready for the ceremony. The Great Maple at McCracken’s of Daw Hill was the next to be torched and quickly one could see similar fires all across the country side. Hijil’s Farm perched atop Green Bluffs gave us a splendid view of the various tributes to the season.

Once the first two trees had been burnt to cinders our parish Vicar Father Frank did The Grinding and was quickly joined by the other men who were of age, to participate in this ritual.

I was thrilled to be offered by my one and only Hank Grebly the fruits of his grinding. A jar filled with these delicate ashes and moose fat can sit proudly on any mantle piece. There will be enough here to guarantee me a year of fertility and good weather. After all, it only takes a pinch a day, tossed into the wind to catch the eye of the spirits for protection.

The carolling at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral was once again a thrill, especially now that the bells have almost been tuned. The climax of each verse is a ringing of these bells that echoes though our happy valley and shimmers through the fragrant smoke produced by the Lighting of the Trees.

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Jefferson Airplane

Next on the shelf is Jefferson Airplane. I have as stand-alone or in mp3 collections: Takes Off, Surrealistic Pillow, Feed Your Head Live 67-69, Bless Its Pointed Little Head Live 1968, After Bathing At Baxter’s, Crown of Creation, Live at The Filmore East 1968, Volunteers, Blows Against the Empire, Bark, Long John Silver, Red Octopus, 2400 Fulton St, Spitfire, Earth, Reunion.

I can remember the thrill of hearing Grace Slick sing Somebody To Love, then Greasy Heart. I loved the Airplane & the journey of their first releases that went from folks, to counterculture icons – from Surrealistic Pillow to Blows Against the Empire. I couldn’t wait for where each new album would take me. Then they lost focus, thanks to drugs & booze released wildly uneven lps like Bark & Long John Silver. A sort of return to form on Red Octopus, Spitfire, Earth – but lost their edge & became a fine pop group. When corporate rock I lost interest. Members left, new ones joined. Finally an original members reunion 1989 that I do enjoy.

Those early albums are the epitome of late 60’s summer of psychedelic love vibe. Baxter with its amazing engineering, harmonies, guitar work & awesome songs is a classic. Volunteers – ‘up against the walls mother fuckers’ blew my mind. Blows Against The Empire with its scifi underpinning stunned me with where rock could go. 

The live albums are amazing, even when the sound is a little muddy. Feed Your head is a collection of rarities & oddities. 2400 is a nice compilation of hits & some B-sides that never made it to lps, that is worth having. I’m resisting name checking my favorite tracks, even the sloppy lps have good moments (Pretty As You Feel).

 

All have created work outside of Airplane that is worth tracking down. Marty Balin’s Lucky is amazing. Sadly my cassette copy disintegrated & it has yet to be re-released 😦 Don’t know the band?! Shame on you 🙂 Start with any of the hits compilations & After Bathing: some of those cuts are best heard as they are sequenced on the lps. 

Scent

The morning was silent. Cool. I could smell the cold. Some quality the cold gave the air. What ice remained on the streets would crack underfoot like bullets. I wanted to go out, to feel that crack, to hear it echo down the still street, before the noise of life took over. I wanted to make the first noise of the day.

There was that dim blue light hovering on the roof tops, starlight reflected off snow and clouds, early distant sun waiting as the earth turned to face it, as the earth turned my house to face it. 

Too much cloud cover now for a real sunny morning, it would be dim cold and flat. Another day to race the sun to nightfall.

A noise – birds. The flutter and chirp. Bird feeder two houses down brought them out. Twitter twitter – small, harsh, clacking sound and flutter of crisp feathers – flutter feather and fly – tiny nails clicking along the eaves trough of my house, right over my window –

Can birds smell – did seeds have some scent that attracted them – I never figured out how they knew when and were to find those seeds. When that house stopped putting them out in the spring it took a few days before the birds would stop skittering around and even then there would an occasional foray to see if the seeds had returned.

Winter birds, little warm balls of heart racing heat. Was it worth it? To find some nook in a tree somewhere and hope not to freeze into a black fuzzy ice pellet overnight.

More light. I could see the ceiling now. Clouds must be thinning as the light has some red in it. The ice blue warmed by some red. Nice. I’d like to get a sweater in that color. Cold Morning Mist. Now there’s a color name. Something with a cracked black line across the mist with a single pair of dirty brown birds snuggled together near the shoulder, over my heart.

Hmm. Good ideas won’t get me to work. Why hasn’t that alarm gone off yet? Bed too cozy to leave anyway. Lift my head enough to see the window, to look out, to see roofs of the world. That’s enough. Those hoar black streets can wait. White frost and salt residue along the curb. One good rain will wash it away. One good rain and spring will spring into summer. Yes, I think I’ll pray for rain today. Lots of rain.

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

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

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The Incredible String Band

 

 

The cover of The Incredible String Band’s The 5000 Spirits (by The Fool) is the epitome of 60’s psychedelic art. Iconic & instantly defining the best of the era. I didn’t have to hear the album to know I would love it. To be honest I was expecting something of the Jefferson Airplane style of psychedelic but instead got almost straight-ahead folk music.

 

A sort of gothic, renaissance sound of dulcimers, lutes, tambours with slightly off-kilter sing-songy  songs full of Yates type lyrics. On my first listen it sounded like something anyone could perform. I loved it. As I listened more it became layered, more complex & emotionally involving. No Sleep Blues, First Girl I Loved … so sweet & with a twinge of humour. Way Back In the 1960’s is a time-capsule of that era. I may still ahi emu regional lp saved because of that album art. It was one of those lps that a actually made it to Cape Breton.

I picked up their First as a stand-alone CD, on sale, at Sam’s way back in 2003 – October Song is sweet; also as stand-alone a double cd set of The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion & The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – this took some searching as I was replacing my Layers lp with the cd & I found it via eBay in 2003. Hearing 5000 crisp was a delight. Hangman I had never heard – it continues that psychedelic folk mood. Both sound traditional but lyrically combines trippy with almost renaissance folk lyrics.

 

They also had the classic hippy look of long haired, beaded, fringed & farm living commune minstrels. I didn’t really follow them though. Maybe too twee for me then & now a fond memory. There are lots of great folk/pop bands: Fairport Convention, The Pentangle, Kaleidoscope, Donovan – of the time but only The Incredible String Band had such a homespun feel. They were too gentle to become big stars. The band gained, lost members, split up, reunited, continued recording but became & stayed a folk mainstay.

Dream

The dish ran way with the spoon. The spoon had belonged to my grandmother and the loss of it became an insurmountable obstacle to progress. Several important scientific discoveries were put aside as futile gestures without the spoon. Mankind was bereft of the one key, the one object that was vital to intellectual stimulation and financial progress.

My sister wasn’t sure what to to tell me. I had been late, again, coming home from flying school. I had hoped to follow in my father’s footsteps and keep up the family name but the tragic news of the spoon put all that in jeopardy as well.

‘How could such a thing happen.’ I demanded of her.

‘I wish I knew. No one was expecting it. Least of of all I.’

‘And just where were you when this transpired.’

‘Asleep.’

‘Asleep!’ my voice rose. Two windows in the left wing were shattered by my explosive anger. I had to keep it in check and usually did, but occasionally I lost control. This was one of those rare occasions.

‘After losing two nights of sleep worrying over Gabriella, is it little wonder I drifted off. The afternoon was hot, balmy.’

‘You have a knack for making excuses.’ I set about packing my bags. ‘But this time you have gone too far, even for a sister.’

‘Ferdov please, please forgive me. I doubt if I can go on knowing you feel so strongly.’

‘Tell that to the spoon.’

I dashed down the hand-hewed alabaster stairs to the dock and leapt into my motorboat. I had longed to escape this island, this family trap of of the past but had hoped it would be an easy departure and not this sort of emotional break.

‘Wait! Wait!’ my sister stood on the pier waving her apron aimless in the breeze. I would not return. How could I? There was nothing holding me to them now. Now that the spoon had run away with the dish the next part of the prophesy would also come true. If I could somehow keep that in check perhaps there was hope after all.

The two-way radio on the dash sparkled to life. 

‘Reports have come in that the last of the three blind mice has perished in a disastrous fire in the east wing.’

‘God!’ I raised my fist to the sky. ‘This is all your fault. Why have you deserted me now in this moment of trial.’

I stopped the motor of my boat. I needed some silence. Some small dollop of calm before I could face what I knew remained to be faced. If this was to be on my shoulders I would need to be ready. A hand appeared at the side of the pea-green boat and two men pulled themselves aboard, one on either side. ‘So Ferdov this is where you skulk to when you are needed.’

‘Father,’ I was amazed at the beads of water that dripped like topaz diamonds from his thick black beard. It had never shone so in the afternoon sun. ‘I did only what I felt in my bones I had to do.’

His valet, Rudo, grabbed me from behind and yanked hard on my arms, clasping my hands and wrists together tightly.

‘You’re hurting me.’

‘You like that, don’t you?’ Rudo breath rosewater assaulted my senses.

‘On your knees,’ My father punched me in the forehead. I sank to the teak deck of the boat on my knees.

‘This is a fine mess and you are responsible.’

‘I? I’m not the one who fell asleep.’

‘Yes but it was you who fed those silly notions of freedom and adventure to the dish. It was you who convinced him that there was more to life than being convenient conveyer of our food stuffs. You made him question his basic sense of self and now you see the result of your interference.’

‘But Father, I was only repeating what you had told me so many times.’

‘Do not try to cast aspersions on the legends of our family. Never has such a thing happened. I will not allow you to escape punishments.’

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http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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If 

I bought a cassette of If I at the Radio Shack in the Zeller’s Mall (now the Sydney Shopping Centre) when I was living in Cape Breton. In fact that is where I bought my first stereo system. They had a rack of discontinued, discounted cassettes from which I bought music that never showed up at the local record shop. We’re talking early 70’s.

 

This British band has a great jazz sound – a British Blood, Sweat & Tears. I loved that cassette. Each track is sweet & still contemporary – it could be released this week & sound fresh. Dockland is brilliantly moody. The horn work is superb, as are the lyrics, the singing.

I kept my eye out for more by them for decades. Nothing else by them reached Cape Breton. None of my music buddies ever heard of them. They got reviewed by the US rock press: ie Rolling Stone. As far I know they never had a hit song. When I upgraded from cassette to CD this was one cassette I wanted to replace before the tension was shot but I could find nothing. It was as if they disappeared. Then in I found a 2008 CD compilation ‘What Did I Say About The Box Jack’ of tracks from heir first albums. I was happy to hear those songs I knew & some that I had never heard. The booklet was excellent too.

When I finally upgraded my internet to high speed I did a search & downloaded mp3 version of their first two lps & a live concert from 1972. If you are unfamiliar with If, that first lp is worth tracking down. Or if it’s still around the 2008 compilation.

Care

‘You’re nothing but trouble.’ Drak resisted the temptation to hit. He knew hitting would get some response but would also slow things down. And things were going badly enough as it was. ‘You hear me? Trouble.’

‘Yes,’ Steve stepped back. ‘Sorry. I’m …’

‘I know what you are trying to do.’ Drak lost control and the back of his hand smacked Steve across the cheek before he could stop himself. Struck Steve twice more and was stopped on the third blow by a hand that clenched his wrist. Hurt it.

‘Enough of this. There’s too much at stake for you two to be playing at enemy with each other.’

‘Sorry Sis Care’

‘Sorry Sis Care.’

The two men were ashamed.

‘But he …’

‘Drak,’ Sis Care stood firmly before them. ‘I don’t want explanations or excuses. I want action. Not infighting. You know that.’

‘Yes.’ Drak answered.

‘You both understand that?’

‘Yes,’ Steven muttered.

‘Drak, you understand that don’t you?’ Her face was inches from his interface.

‘Yes, Sis Care. It’s just that …’

‘I said, no explanations and no excuses. This one is the last one.’ She tapped the laser pistol at her side. ‘I don’t need much to make me use this. You both know that.’

‘Yes,’ they replied.

‘Okay. Now we have less than ten minutes before we rejoin Group R. Have you laid all the trip wires?’

‘Three to go but Steve here was …’

‘Drak, cut the crap. Three to go and they take five minutes each to set. We have ten. Get your asses in gear.’

The three of them laid the trrace2 wire filaments along the base of the copter pad and over the catwalk entries. Once all of these optic paths where broken the blast would be set off..

‘Hurry up,’ Sis found herself impatient with Steve. ‘What are you fumbling with there anyway?’

‘Sorry, I get …’ Steve reddened as the ply slipped from his hands.

‘Give it to me.’ She snatched it up. ‘I’ll finish this off.’

As she picked it up Steve stepped on her hand.

‘Not so fast, Sis.’

She had her laser in her hand before he could react. A blast ripped through his arm and sent him sprawling ten feet away from her.

‘What …’ Drak raced over.

‘I guess he wasn’t your fault after all. Okay we’re done here. Let’s go.’

‘What about?’ Drak nodded at Steve.

‘Leave him. He’s not one of ours.’

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


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

The Hollies

I have a love & not-so-loved relationship with The Hollies who since the 60s have made some great recordings & also some banal, tedious records. I have a fairly large collection that spans 4 cds of mp3’s as well as one stand-alone, Romany (one of my favourites).

Part of the initial British invasion in 1963 The Hollies are still together & performing in 2018 with some of the original members. Members have come & gone & come back. I think my first memory of them is Look Through Any Window. My first lp was Stop! Stop! Stop! But because they were considered radio-fodder & not as deep as say, The Rolling Stones, I didn’t really follow them. 

When Graham Nash left 1968 it was a ‘thing’ because he felt the group was trying to be too serious by doing an lp of Bob Dylan covers. His departure was probably the best thing that happened to them as they went on to produce some amazing singles & lps: My favourites are Distant Light, Romany, Another Night, Crazy Steal. Romany is a under-rated masterpiece & a great place for anyone to start their Hollies exploration.

I have, as mp3s: Stay With the Hollies; In the Hollies Style; Hollies; Would You Believe?; For Certain Because; Evolution; Butterfly; Hollies Sing Dylan; Hollies Sing Hollies; Confessions of the Mind; Distant Light; Out on the Road; Hollies; Another Night; Write On; Russian Roulette; Crazy Steal; 5317704; Buddy Holly; What Goes Around (1983 reunion with Nash); Staying Power; Then, Now, Always; A’s B’s & Eps; Epic’s Original Master Tapes.

The later recordings: Staying Power; Then, Now, Always – aren’t bad but not as vibrant as their mid-period work or as playful as their earlier lps. Also in this mp3 collection I have CSN; CSNY. these are here because of Graham Nash. These are classic pop & highly influential recordings. Stunning songs, harmonies & politics, though only Neil Young managed to create great music outside of the group. I  find Nash’s songs to be banal but pretty. 

Gentle 

The eraser tore through the paper. The fourth page Jan had spoiled. Only ten minutes left to the end of the class and she still wasn’t any closer to starting than she had been when the class had started. She shoved the papers, pencils, crayons off her desk and to the floor.

‘What’s wrong Jan?’ Her teacher, Miss Grant kneeled by the desk and began to pick up the stuff that had just been pushed to the floor.

‘Nothing. Nothing is the matter. Why does something have to be the matter? Why?’

‘It doesn’t, Jan. Let’s see what you’ve done so far.’

‘Nothing to see.’

‘Miss Grant! Miss Grant!’ Dave piped up. ‘I have lots for you to see.’

‘I’ll get around to you Dave. Why don’t you start again Jan. Try something simple. Small.’ she folded a page into quarters. ‘See. You don’t have to fill the whole page like the others. Such a waste of the rain forest, don’t you think?’

Jan nodded in agreement, clutched a pencil and began to make lines on the page. Lines that became tree trunks.

Miss Grant stood and went over to Dave.

‘Whatcha you doing?’ Syl turned to peer at Jan’s picture.

‘Never you mind.’ Jan covered her work as best as she could and in doing so crumpled the picture she had started. ‘Oh shit. Why don’t you leave me alone.’ She balled the page in her fist and hit Syl on the ear with it.

‘Now, now, Jan. You have to play gentle with the other. Not everyone is as strong as you.’ Miss Grant rushed over.

‘Well, so what. Just leave me be for a few minutes.’ Jan stood and tried to push past Miss Grant. The teacher held her firmly by the shoulders. ‘You let me go. I’ll report you. I’ll tell.’

‘Tell what?’ Miss Grant forced her back into her desk. ‘You have to be slow with your self Jan. There is no hurry. Just take your time.’

‘I don’t give a crap about you or this school or growing up. I don’t. So just leave me alone.’ She covered her head with her hands and sobbed onto her desk.

The buzzer went. 

‘That’s all for today class. Now leave quietly and I’ll see you all back here tomorrow.’

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 1 -30

http://nanowrimo.org

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Herman’s Hidden Cameras

As much as I enjoyed Herman’s Hermits as a teen I wasn’t encouraged to admit it. They were radio-fodder bubble-gum as opposed to real musicians like the Rolling Stone or even the Beatles. They were regarded as sweet, squeaky-clean and a band only girls could enjoy. Music hall songs like ‘Henry the VIII’ didn’t help their image either. I picked up stand-alone cd The Very Best of back in Dec 2006 to reclaim that part of my past.

Sure some of the songs suffer from ‘clean’ but many of them are solid, if not brilliant, pieces of pop music. The band wasn’t terribly original, creative or even were outstanding musicians. But their studio work is impeccable. It helps that Peter Noone’s voice is sweet & appealing. ‘No Milk Today’ is a breathtaking track – the production work is sublime & still amazes. The fact that it was written by Graham Gouldman (10CC) certainly helps. 

I picked up stand-alone Highs of the Sixties back in 1994. This is the complete opposite of the Hermits. A compilation of the sort psychedelic, garbage-band music that I could easily admit to enjoying. It includes tracks by Love, Count Five (one of the first latino bands to make it big), The Standells – many one-hit wonders but all fun. I’ve since tracked down collections by some these one-hitters like Blue Cheer, The Seeds, Count Five. I already had an extensive Love collection before I picked this cd up.

But what about the present you might ask? Next on the shelf are these stand-alones by The Hidden Cameras: The Smell of Our Own; Mississauga Goddam; AWoo. This a fun, queer, musically-diverse band that I really enjoy. With songs about water sports ‘Golden Steams,’ politics ‘Ban Marriage,’ love ‘Music is my Boyfriend’ & life ‘Learning the Lie’ performed with energy that invites all listeners into their world. Led by Joel Gibb  the band uses standard rock augmented by strings, wind instruments to create an often rollicking, sometimes folky, sweet romantic tapestry of music that often makes an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to the lyrics. Hidden Cameras take sound pictures of the world in a way I like to see it. 

Lucky Day

It felt good to sleep in. Something I didn’t allow myself to do that often. A warm, snug bed from which I could hear the cold wind outside. As I rolled over to try for another few winks the door to my room opened enough for a head to pop through. 

‘Good morning, sleepy head.’ Jim smiled at me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I sat up.

‘What do you think?’ he came into the room.

‘And why aren’t you dressed?’

‘Another dumb question.’ He slipped into the bed beside me. ‘Neither are you.’

Our bodies nestled together comfortably. 

‘I got the day off so I figured, why not drop over here and spend some of it with you.’  Jim gently bit my shoulder.

‘Great idea. That spare key was for emergencies.’

‘Yes, well this is an emergency.’

‘So I can feel.’

I rolled over on top of him. Just then my cell buzzed.

‘Don’t get it, or you won’t get it.’ He warned, twisting the ring in my left nipple.

The cell buzzed, and as programmed, the buzz got louder the longer it rang.

‘I have too.’

I reached over and picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Hi Dave.’

‘Steven is that you?”

‘Yep. Just arrived in town.’

‘You should have warned me.’ I covered the receiver, ‘It’s Steven, my agent from New York.’

‘Well, I was hoping to surprise you. I have the new contract. Bidding stopped at 2.5 mil.’

‘2.5 mil!! I’m amazed.’

Jim was biting my stomach under the covers. ‘Stop that for a minute will you.’

‘Sounds like I caught you at a bad time.’

‘Not at all. No wrong time for 2.5 mil.’

‘Free for lunch?’

‘Lunch? Sure. You staying at the same hotel.’

‘Same room is fact.’

‘Okay see you around noon.’

‘Frank wants you for lunch and I want you for breakfast.’ Jim came from under the covers to kiss me.

Just then the door bell rang. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my bathrobe and dashed down the stairs to the front door. A flower delivery man waited.

‘David Bradley?’

‘That’s me.’

‘Sign here.’

I signed for a box that opened to reveal two dozen red and white roses.

‘Looks like this is your day?’ Jim looked over my shoulder. ‘Who are they from?’

‘I haven’t checked yet. But find today’s paper. I should check my lottery numbers.’

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

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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