- Andante from Piano Concerto No. 21 - Mozart
- Please Don't Bury Me - John Prine
- The Christmas Song - Dexter Gordon
- Riptide - Lou Reed
- The Hippopotamus Song - John Lithgow
- The Beast in Me - Nick Lowe
- Always - Leonard Cohen
- Frosty the Snowman - Fiona Apple
- A Small Plot of Land - David Bowie
- Me & Saddam - Bill Hicks
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Geography. I'm a firm believer in it - especially when it comes to love, sex, and writing. I've been meaning to post this link for awhile but have been too busy re-reading to myself. Enjoy!
DEEP IN THE HEART OF IT
Where sounding dumb doesn’t equal being dumb.
My tenth-grade teacher, a remarkable young lady named Ann Lewis, lent me a stack of New Yorker magazines. It was a revelation. As far as I could tell, there had never been a damn Civil War in there. Or a Crucifixion. Nobody even seemed to go to church. People drank a lot, and made cutting remarks, but they were civilized, funny, even high-minded in a Yankee sort of way. My teetotal, faith-based mother wouldn’t have liked them, but you could imagine them passing muster with Mrs. Folger.
In those old New Yorkers I smelled a secular heaven. Well, no, there was scant emphasis on smells, except when Joseph Mitchell, a Southerner, was writing about the fish market, so let’s say I glimpsed it. First chance I got, I went off up to New York. In l968 I became a resident. Kids, divorce, joint custody, and going freelance brought me farther north to semirural Massachusetts, which looks a lot like North Georgia, and I like it (except in February and March), but I doubt I’ll ever entirely settle in.
Here’s what happened when I moved to New York. I hadn’t unpacked my bag before people started telling me, “You’re not from around here.” Didn’t I know that? “I see you haven’t lost the accent,” they would say severely, as if I were willfully convicting myself of narrow-mindedness with every syllable I uttered. (more)
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Watched a movie called "Jazz on a Summer's Day". Documentary footage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. What a lineup of artists. Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Sonny Stitt, Mahalia Jackson and Gerry Mulligan to name a few. But this was the day for Anita O'Day. This mesmerizing footage of an artist at her peak can be found on YouTube.com. Just search for Anita O'Day. The clearest footage is about eight choices down entitled "Anita O'Day-Sweet Georgia Brown & Tea for Two". There's also a trailer there (first choice) about an upcoming documentary about her life called "Indestructable".
- Humans from Earth - T Bone Burnett
- Everybody Knows - Leonard Cohen
- The Chanukah Song, Pt. 2 - Adam Sandler
- After the Gold Rush - Thom Yorke
- Innocent When You Dream - Tom Waits
- I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Al Green
- Mister Heat Miser - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- You're A Mean One Mister Grinch - Whirling Dervishes
- I'm Not Your Stepping Stone - The Sex Pistols
- Hombre Secreto - The Plugz
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
He’s wearing an olive green shirt. Short- sleeved and well-pressed. Blue slacks. Slacks, mind you. He’s not tucked-in. He’s spread out across the booth and gesticulating towards the ceiling with an unlit cigarette.
“Smoking is ghetto. I’m lucky I’m a sensitive guy because I’m well aware that cigarettes cut you off. If I quit smoking I’d be an emotional mess. You know what they say about touching someone three times don’t you?”
I’m suddenly aware that I’ve touched his knee, kicked his shoe, slapped his hand, and stolen his fork. I’m ahead of the game. He’s lost weight since going to L.A. Claims he’s happy in La La land. But I’ve never met anyone who was. Everyone is too shiny.
“They’re comparing me to Malkovich! Except they say I’m more butch. “
His enthusiasm takes him to his feet and he dances over to the counter orders two double Americanos and tosses a coin into the air. Mindful of the Tao.
He’s going to get work down there. His face. The camera sucks him up like lemonade through a straw. The deep crags from acne. Each one its own little Sea of Tranquility. His steel gray eyes. The left pupil torn like a cat’s eye marble. Cut by a piece of glass during a fight with his brother, Stan. His forehead, etched from worrying over his vast responsibilities and his fear of disappointing those close to him. I’m among those he cares about.
“My agent doesn’t know I’m back up here. I mean, she knows I’m up here. I haven’t copped to the permanency yet. I’m cabbing up here. Doing the longshoreman thing. I’m committed. I’m going to start being a labor organizer. That’s cool. I’m a born shit-stirrer.”
I can see his shadow stretched across the yellow wall behind us. He stops talking and ponders his situation, elbow propped up on the back of the booth, hand cupped over his mouth. He always looks up and to the left for inspiration. I always look to him.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
My mother snatched my plate. “Stop feedin’ that damn dog,” she said smacking my hand. A crispy piece of fat flew across the room and stuck to the wall. We sat in silence as Gertie licked at it while the fat slowly inched its way down the wall.
I took a long time in the bathtub that night because I wanted to be up when the candy came. We weren’t allowed to have candy except in our stockings at Christmas. It was also the only time we had fresh fruit; oranges and tangerines, which I loved, along with nuts, Brazil and almonds, which I didn’t. My dad figured me out though and made me go to bed even when I begged him to let me stay up. I was dead sure mom would need help unpacking the groceries. He wouldn’t give an inch. I pouted and dragged my feet into the bedroom. “You’re gonna trip on that lower lip.” “What an asshole,” I thought, but I knew better than to sass him back.
The next morning there was candy all over the house. On the coffee table next to my dad’s Lazy Boy recliner and in the telephone nook in the hallway near the stairs. It was in the bathroom in a Parkay butter bowl next to the baby blue crocheted toilet paper caddy my Aunt Betty had made. I sifted through the bowl with the sink water running pretending to brush my teeth. Butterscotch surprises, rootbeer barrels, peppermint curliques, and cinnamon bombs sifted through my hands like pirate treasure. I stuffed my pockets and headed for the front door. My mother was waiting for me with my Partridge family lunch box. “That candy is for your dad. You hear?” She waited as I emptied my pockets and then checked both my hands for strays. “I need candy too,” I explained. “I need it ‘cause I’m givin’ up butter. I’m givin’ it up for good.” Mother snatched a peppermint curlique out of my hand and shooed me out the door. “He’s gonna ruin Christmas.” I heard her say under her breath. “Ruin Christmas.”
My dad always ruined Christmas. Every year he found new and unforseen avenues to let the fizzle out of the holidays. He sparked no Christmas cheer and he wouldn’t be satisfied until we all were miserable and inpatient for the day to be done. I don’t think he was an evil man. Like I said, he was just an asshole who, for whatever his reasons, hated Christmas. Last year he yelled at me because I was scared of a piggy bank he bought me.
And who wouldn’t be? It was a haunted house with a smooth green hand that came out of the roof and grabbed your money. It gave my dad no end of pleasure – “Arlie! Looka that! It swiped that penny right outta ma hand!” I watched from the far side of the Christmas tree, quaking in terror. “Arlie! Arlie! Here’s a penny. C’mon and try it!” Why had Santa brought evil into my life? Hadn’t I been good? Hadn’t I? My dad’s voice sliced through my thought. “Dammit, Arlie. Git over here and put a penny in this here house. Where’s yer sense, girl?”
I came out from behind the tree and walked over to my dad. It was the only way out. Obey. I took the penny from his sweaty hand and held it out towards the house. “Yer got to git right up on it afore it kin retch it.” I moved closer. I held out the penny with my eyes closed. Creak! Whiz! The hand sprang out and snatched my penny. I swear it caught hold of my hand into the bargain. My dad let out a whoop. “A’ll be damned, if it didn’t do it again!” Apparently, like me, he could see the thing wrote its own rules. I screamed and ran to my mother. My dad’s face twisted up and he threw the bank across the room.
“I’ve never seen such a spoilt kid. You and yer mother you spoilt that girl, Pearl. Made her ‘fraid of her own shadda. Arlie- go pick up that bank and brang it here.” I stood there staring at him. “You hear me? Go pick it up and brang it here.”
It was wrong in every way. Curse the elf who built the plastic injection mold for that house. That house would torture my dreams until it burned up in the flames that were to engulf my room only two months later on one blistering cold February night. “Arlie! Pick up that gawd-damned bank and brang it here!”
Damn you Santa. Damn you Santa.
I reached out and picked up the house. It coughed out the hand and I screamed. A warm stream went down my leg soaking into my pink slippers and spilling onto the cherrywood floor.
Thank you for the humiliating memory, Santa. I wish I could die.
“Ruin Christmas.” My mother repeated as she shoved me out the door. I walked to school sucking on a cinnamon bomb I’d hidden in my shoe, convinced that. like my dad, Santa was bent towards the perverse.
To be continued…
Friday, December 15, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
- This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Joseph Spence
- Christmas Cookies - George Strait
- Long-Legged Guitar Picking Man - Johnny Cash
- Honey Bee - Cassandra Wilson
- Perfect Day - Lou Reed
- After the Gold Rush - Thom Yorke
- Innocent When You Dream - Tom Waits
- Better Days - Goo Goo Dolls
- I'm A Man - Iggy and the Stooges
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I've been away from home twice in the last six weeks. Las Vegas, Nevada and Regina, Saskatchewan. My wallet and I choose Regina. Beautiful city of about 200,000. Round-trip airfare from San Francisco can be found between 3 and 4 hundred. Bike paths all over the place, although you might be a bit more comfortable on a bike if you wait til March. People are open and friendly. Canadian beer is tasty. Check out Sleemans. U.S.money goes a bit farther. 120 bucks got me about 133 Canadian. And fear not you Nevada nuts. There's a beautifully restored train station converted into a casino. Casino Regina has the same machines and tables Vegas has, but no smoking and all the bells and whistles are at half volume. It practically makes gambling healthy and relaxing. One other fun thing. Natives pronounce Regina as the above title suggests.
When you get back from your trip and tell people where you've been, I find even the most sophisticated of adults experience a "Beavis and Butthead" moment.