Entry 0057: Personally Strict with Salt Man and Mirror Me

beefheartstrictly

LP: Strictly Personal by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

1968 Blue Thumb Records Stereo S1, BTS 1

Favorite Track: Kandy Korn

I may be hungry but I sure ain’t weird.

You’re a me and you’re a me ain’t no fat man’s toy sopping wet hammer thinkin’ a postman’s groovy. I ain’t blue no more mirror man. Salt Man gotta touch without take. In the mirror way, soft-cracker bats harp smiling yellow and orange and candy corn. Salt Man–the path is a mask of love. Beatles bones and smokin’ Stones, sorrows lollipop lands stick-broken with a telegram I said.

Oh mirror, mirror, red mirror, blue mirror, yellow sunset mirror. You’re a me and you’re a me big chicken legs beat when she walks let the lying lie. Aluminium rhythm whining trashcan blues. Mirror man, I never heard it put quite that way. We’re for you, Salt Man! Well my cigarette died when gracious ladies nylon sorta lazy sleazy cheesy harp cry “be reformed! be reborn!”

Can-can-can-can-can-mirror me.

Ol’ glass roosters–ye ole feathered kind–rolled around the corner turning up seven come eleven. The cheese in the corner with a mile long beard, golly golly. You gotta feel to reveal, Salt Man, Mirror Man, Salt Me, Mirror Me. Gon’ blow pure joy-girl, candy corn. I ain’t no golly golly anymore. Mirror Salt, Man Me. Me’re a you and Me’re a you dropped some drops in an ashtray. Saw a movie dropped the stamp and strawberry feels forever.

I blow rich electric bulb been out for years on the dark carnival ground. I ain’t no blue icebox inside looking like a harp smoke anymore. Salt Man harp kiss the dark, the light, the dark, the day. Stay stay stay warm.

I may be hungry but I sure ain’t weird.

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Entry 0056: Take This Writer’s Block!

IronLP

EP: Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

2014 BMG Records BMG14026V, Sanctuary 88103411160

Favorite Track: Run to the Hills

*The following is an attempt for me to write through some writer’s block on a short story that has been troubling me for a while. Right now, my strategy is to just write every little bit of detail out. Then revisit it in a completely new fashion. The language is weak, but I’m just trying to find the plot.

I never should have gotten involved with Count Vorobok. Impatient, curt, and prone to criticize the world at large, his viridian eyes melted my heart the very first moment I saw them through the snow. His clothing was always wrinkled and smelling slightly of turmeric. Being frugal, he cut his own hair leaving behind a thin mess of question marks on the wooden floors. I loved his conversations, his astute insights in my artwork, but found myself cringing when he snorted at his own jokes. He was too slim, each round of laughter worked its way through his shaking frame until his beak of a nose quivered like an overexcited rabbit.

The books. I couldn’t believe he lived in a such a cramped apartment surrounded by shelves and shelves. I insisted he move in with me so he (or perhaps just I) could breathe.

Hours and hours of the day spent searching through books, copying sentences, and being asked to read out loud while standing on chalk sigils. I hated to read out loud, always a tad timid of my voice and its volume. I really just wanted to take pictures of him strewn on the floor amid his books and pens. I only have one known photograph of him and today it is hanging up inside the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

But without him, I never would have read Franz Kafka. Count Vorobok had a talent for gift-giving–an annoyingly accurate one at that so that I began to resent my own gifts like they were fraudulent–and he had left one out in the open in his study. It was an autumn day with a fast moving storm turning the cloudless smear of blue morning into an afternoon blanket of deep blacks, smokey greys, and off-color whites. The note of the book read: “Parker / “In the Penal Colony” / Kafka.” I peeled the note without hesitation, without realizing how hurt his face would look when he learned I had discovered his surprise without his presence (and he never did understand that he didn’t need to be there for me to be surprised, but I am trying to not write down our arguments), and carried the book into the living room.

Sitting by the window with the book and a cup of tea, I paused to listen to the tapping against the glass. Each sheet of rain reminded me of a musical chord. The song was somber and steady. I curled my feet underneath me–the singular way to truly submerge yourself into the literature is to cut off a little circulation of your own. I read “In the Penal Colony” in one hushed, tense sitting. My neck was sore and I had pressed my fingers so hard into the pages, I had damaged the book. But my mind had been utterly effaced. I had been sentenced as a criminal, as a reader.

Count Vorobok never understood how guilty I felt that night. He just brushed the dust off of his coat, placed his top hat on the stand, and put that awful Lizst’s Totentanz on again. He did not shout, but the light was gone from his eyes. With feelings of guilt and betrayal, I hid in the bedroom taking photographs to soothe my emotions. One ended up being “Teddy Bear at the Intersection of Childhood and Adulthood” which earned me my brief period of fame.

I had in return got Count Vorobok started on his obsession that would send him to Prague. We had visited Roland Varth, an outsider artist whose work incorporates scarification with historical conspiracies. His latest work was about Jan Hus, the Protestant reformer burned at the stake for heresies. Roland was in a mood that night. His erotic escapades with librarians had given him access to the rare book room before opening and this morning he had stumbled upon a particularly occult reference in a letter from Hus to Wycliffe. Roland has bushy eyebrows that gave his face an owlish appearance when he was excited. Red from drink, breath reeking of garlic and leeks, he seized Vorobok by his bony shoulders and, without blinking, nose apart, said, “Witchcraft is misleading when it deals with monsters beyond the frivolous limit we call space.”

Entry 055: Dance With Death

drfeelgood

LP: Malpractice by Dr. Feelgood

1975 Columbia Records PC 34098, promo

Favorite Track: Because You’re Mine

The orchestra tuned to the hum of a dead grasshopper. The lead violinist took her seat, raised the bow to the strings, and stared forward with casual indifference as if performing before the King and Queen was just the same as sponging one’s self in the tub. The conduct was small, dwarfish man with spots of grey in his oily hair and spots of brown-black on his pallid skin. He had to place a footstool at the base of the cold marble podium so as to see over it and even then, the timpanist and most of the brass could barely see the man himself. All they saw was a flurry of baton motion.

Grumley sat in the balcony, fanning himself leisurely with a gift from his wife. It had a gnomish pattern on it: mosaic reds and golds and silvers suggesting the shape of a monstrous giant lizard, a dragon Grumley had argued but Telli would giggle and tell him he knew nothing about gnomes and their art. What it really depicted, she never said. But with each flick of his wrist, he remembered hers. How she would fan him during the sultry summer evenings while he read the latest and celebrated verses of Perrault and Stanley. The way she fanned feeling like she was breathing right into his heart.

Grumley fidgeted in his seat just as the symphony began. He had never been to a symphony. Telli had asked and asked, but he had never found the time or bought the tickets. It was, after all, an expensive trip from their country farm to the metropolis and then they would have to post up for the night at an expensive inn, they would be forced to pay city prices for half-cooked vegetables and poorly spiced seitan, and then they would have to be dressed properly as well and, because of the Doer Wars, silk was as rare as a unicorn sighting. But now, Grumley found himself right where he never took it, and never wanted to be if he were to admit complete honesty with himself, and he found a curious mixture of regret and resentment brooding just beneath the surface of his emotions.

Perhaps it was the first movement. What a gloomy opening, Grumley thought, the violins are drawing notes like a skeleton walking through a windy forest. Meanwhile, the bassoon is piping low notes from the very river Stax. Grumely paused in his fanning to look up the composer. He should have known. Baron Arturio von Brumsfeld. The infamous conductor of Black Masses and Chaos Magick. And this one was titled the Waltzing Funeral for Death. Bah, Grumley thought, an metaphysicist with melodies. This was going to be painful.

From the tepid dark opening, the first movement sprang into a delightful spring motif of frolicking flutes and ontological trumpets. Grumley noticed the rest of the audience was entranced, particularly with the lead violinists, whose fingers flew over the frets with a ferocity of a fawn in heat. She stamped her foot to the rhythm of the flickering baton, but her feet made no sound compared to the roaring crescendo of the ending bars. Grumley had not noticed how dark the auditorium had gotten. He really couldn’t even see the stage. A thick redolence of ashberry brought back memories of Telli that Grumley couldn’t shake. Tears welled in the corner of his dark eyes, hanging onto the ducts like icicles about to melt.

The second movement, the waltz, begun in clockwork fashion. The melody danced from cello to clarinet to zoolophone to oboes to a duel between the lead violinists and the second chair, fighting for dominance and the right to seat in the bony throne center of stage. Telli would love this, Grumley thought, and his throat seemed to close up on him. For a moment, he thought he had forgotten to breath and that life was rapidly draining from him.

And, in that moment, Telli spoke to him. She was sitting in the empty seat next to him, her outline phosphorescent and vermilion, her long curly hair running well down past her shoulders into purplish fire that seemed to form the V between her legs. Her face blinked in and out as she said, “Grumley, how I have missed you. Every night, and only night for where I exist now there is no need for the sunlight, I have dwelled upon the receding image of your face. I made wishes and promises and demands and threats and pleas to see you one last time. And now that I see you, I am despaired to find you, the mighty Grumley, reduced to crying at an orchestra.”

“I know,” Grumley quietly whispered. The lead violinist had won the duel and had launched her own attack about the very balance between noise and music. Her ivory violin made from the skulls of wolves seemed to bend to her very needs. The more madness she played, the more of Telli seemed to sit next to him. He could smell her now and a part of him wailed for physical contact. What harm would it be to reach over and touch a ghost?

“Do you remember me?”

Grumley nodded. How can one even go about and explain just how much he missed her. His head fogged, Grumley knew that the symphony was doing a better job expressing his emotions than words could ever portray. But was she even hearing the music? A dark line knitted across his brow.

“Would you like to dance to this waltz?”

Telli smiled a sad frown. Her hand reached for but then hesitated above his own which was gripping the armrest in mortal terror. “I can see them play, I can see their mastery, I can see the conductor’s great eye for detail, I can see the very vibrations leave their instruments and blend in the air above them like some kind of wonderful rainbow, but, no, I cannot hear them and therefore I cannot dance.”

Grumley cried. The waltz had ended. The third movement was titled Welcome to the Gates of Blank. Someone with a sick mind had moved a basalt gate onto the stage, both dark-stained iron doors open. Telli had taken his head and they were walking slowly down the aisle, just like everyone else. Most people had someone leading them. A few had a handful of children running around their legs. A handful were alone and they were too painful to look at. So Grumley focused his attention on Telli’s face as she read to him the latest verses of Perrault and Stanley, freshly composed and celebrated in the great white halls of Blank.

Their melody sounded just like an ominous bassoon.

Entry 0054: My Library and the Gift of Music

laila

LP: Laila Je T’aime by Various Artists

2012 Mississippi/Change Records MRP-016 SS-088

Favorite Track: Ce Weeti by Hamadth Kah (cuz who doesn’t love a really good Police cover)

Yesterday, I spent almost four hours organizing my record collection. I never want to touch them again, says my back. But the joy of pulling out the whole collection is discovering those hidden gems you forgot you owned. I put on many LPs I had not listened to in what could be an x amount of years while sifting, sorting, and taking pictures of the covers for this blog. I organized them mostly by geography and genre. By my front door, I started with Manchester Punk which took up a bin and a half because I own a lot of the Fall on vinyl. Then I started with mainland British punk although I threw in some swedish punk, irish punk, and the german electronic genius of Kraftwerk because for some reason I did not feel like shelving them with the other krautrock. Then the left hand side of the left IKEA cabinet has the rest of British punk. Then the right hand side was American west coast punk including riot grrrl, which I am on one of my amazing shopping finds and have gone from having no riot grrrl collection to almost having all the good ones. Then into the right cabinet we drive across America stopping in Washington D.C., Akron, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Providence, and New York City.

Over by the built in wall shelves, I have space for 80’s-90’s acts, which is dominated by the Smiths who I took out of Manchester for this very reason. Then I have a World Music shelf which is a mix of Brazilian tropicalia, Nigerian afrobeat and highlife, French pop from the sixties, and some Chinese surf-garage rock. Then I have a special shelf devoted to the Velvet Underground and its various members solo projects, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, the Stooges, Jim Carroll, and Nick Lowe all rather assembled by loose association. The top shelf is a hodgepodge of hip-hop, jazz, country, folk, and a Leonard Cohen album I didn’t know where to put anywhere else. Finally, in a large crate by the TV, I have all my Sixties rock. 7-inches and 10-inches have their own shelf in the IKEA cabinet.

I am notoriously difficult for someone to buy a vinyl record as a gift. But people have surprised me many, many times. Laila Je’taime was a Christmas gift. It is a on-the-spot location recording of Wester Sahel music often on the side of the road or behind a couple of buildings. There the guitar still holds a cursed stature and many of the musicians are nomadic. I received from a bundle of persimmon curls and beautiful freckles surrounding a luminous smile. I knew nothing about it. I put it on and the mesmerizing power of the guitar struck me immobile.

It is not rock’n’roll in that dirty garage band sound that makes up of most of my collection. But this is one of my all-time favorites. At times, I feel like I can hear outer space. Other times, each string vibrates like a snake winding itself through a desert dune. The voices can whisper screams and shout mumbles. It ends with a cover of “Message in a Bottle” by the Police.

It is the best cover song I have ever heard.

The album evokes the morning and the rising sun, heat, evaporating water, sitting in the shade of a tall tree. But I love to listen to it at night. I love to pretend that I am sitting in a cafe somewhere alien, not of this planet, and I am all alone with a glass of Woodford Reserve and I have the jukebox all to myself. Then, just as the last song finishes, the door opens up and seven barbarians with wicked curved blades, missing teeth and fingers, and a soldier’s gait rush into the room. I react with a typical shoot the lead guy through the chest and into the chest of the obligatory moron who runs directly behind another man in combat. Lasers are handy that way. The other five swing wildly cutting up tables and chairs but I am out the window holding my smoking guitar laser destroyer.

You can listen to and buy the album here. Do it: https://sahelsounds.bandcamp.com/album/laila-je-taime

Christmas is coming up in the way that America promotes shopping for Christmas before all things because BUY BUY BUY! And, yes, I will do James Chance and the Contortions Buy album for my Christmas post. It will be a year since I received this gift. I hope I can manage to do the same for someone else.