Tuesday, August 19, 2014

prism of cruelty



The madwoman's face reminds one more than a little of Antonin Artaud. Under a dyed black beehive.

After the teeth came out.

The Theatre of Cruelty has not been kind. Various assaults griddled one upon another like raw emotions uncongenially served.

She has this habit of proferring her middle finger. On which is perched a garnet set in yellow gold. There are some who stoop to kiss her ring.

There are always a few in any crowd.

We circle each other on the square like vultures. Sparring between cigarettes as only institutionalized lovers will. She tells me she drinks in the Saracen's Head. I look at her and see why some drink to forget.

After supper one evening she comes right out with it.

I don't believe you're a warrior monk. That vegetarian sham is just so much pish.

One eye glittering with malice, the other dry as a raisin. She has a point. A stiletto shank for a tongue.

No one has mentioned wars. Faith. A month of Sundays shy of gorging on beef has left me weak. I have no appetite left for a fight. No stamina to quarrel. I dig my arse into the bench and light a cigarette.

She looks at me and sneers.

I can see why she has so quickly risen through the ranks. Of the sedated. Sitting there like she has always been there.

in regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Erasmus might have been a queen. Here, he is just one more Napoleon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

pablo, king of the juice




Sunday is the cleanest time
for slipping through
picking at stitches, the damp
laundry of mourning sheets
an afternoon drizzle
High Tea and one last tipple.
 

Sunday does the dirty.
 

That first time
I was passing glass
one eye open
on a poorly fitted blind,
called on twice to step outdoors
usher in an ambulance
two undertakers
Noah's boys

measuring the stairs.

All the bullfighters are pissed
gored
we never much cared for them
regardless
those rained on Spanish sketches,

Pablo was another matter.
 

A cold egg roll
a Sunday broadsheet, a tabloid
laid out on the dashboard.
 

10 years ironing out the grieving
a sparrow's courting
through one Sunday to the next
a constant dash of claret
propping up the Indian in his cups
the Japanese brush
and the ink this time scarcely dry
on unsized paper. 

What stole onto the pillow slip
a groan
a blotted stain the size of Sicily
spilled over the carpet incontinent.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

part 11: the odds on evens, the juice


Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the stairwell echoes with the whisper of melodica.

A scale of notes. Piping.

From 10PM through 5, the disinfected steps slump wetly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down cobalt blue, tubercular rails faintly trembling. A distempered cough nudging metallic wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

Your cat is a long time dead. Unrecognizable under sod. Its litter, lost or stolen.

Door to door.

Hello ?

The knuckles trailing go unanswered. The neighbours are evicted.

By 1AM the sirens falter. Subside. The hammers to the south bed down to a pulse. Pablo never sleeps. Not soundly. The quiet he inhabits is the space between sinew and socket. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream. The engineering nowhere so critical as the end result: chin to midriff, thickening to a river. What started out as an anonymous pouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

Hello ? Jesus fuck, it's cold out here.

The wheedling bleeds and grates like he'll never be done. Give in. Come. Die. Inside the canvas blind comes undone and flutters like a bat until you get off the sofa to rescue it. You tie it down because you can't abide the way the wind plucks at it with the windows already drawn.

It takes two or three attempts to do it right. The cigarette knocked across your face, sorely tempted you are to set it ablaze.

And the trains. Always the trains. Harassing late into the night. The bastard son of Ernest Borgnine.

Motherfucker. Cunt. Turn on the heat.

And, slow at first, spattering, there comes a fitful pissing. On wheelbarrow. Tin roof. Crumbling sandstone lintel.

Under it a skin of gales.

We tumble as ash, smoke, past vast Georgian houses hugging avenue, circus, a puzzle of lanes.

Among those nursing homes and divided lets, an odour of squandered wealth persists: blackmail, jaundiced slants; under quarried flagstone and vans deploying fibre optic to the curb. Out of rookery and reclaimed wind.

Tunneling not with crooked sovereigns, but dog-eared subway tokens.

Friday, August 8, 2014

part 10: exorcismus


The afternoon sky in my window darkens every day about four.

The crows invite me to reconsider the uneven ground of our back lot. Undulating as over relics.

Two or three are already out there having dined early. Or breakfasted late.

Get out of Dodge, Pablo. Before they slip the cuffs on again.
But I sit in my room. And I smoke and I write. And I wish I could write that I bear you no ill will, but I can not.

And I think of you entertaining guests in our home. I imagine those visitors going through my things. Committing a hundred small uncharitable acts. Laughing in their wine.

And I should like to conjure up a storm. Something out of the fossil mouths of birds.

A prehistoric brooding beginning in the kitchen, say, a cupboard left ajar. Rattling preserves. Cutlery. Unwashed dishes. Standing in the sink.

A claw hammering on linoleum.

When we first fell upon each other you surrendered your key on on a tongue fastened on the roof of my mouth. I was bent on breaking and entering. Your toes curled when I snuck in through your basement window. Too much in haste to oil your catches.

Burgle me, you pleaded, quite beautiful in ambush. The long boned appetites of an ogress.

Spitting down the hall on the whirling hem of a go-go dancer. Upsetting coasters. Distressing appearances. Causing foul tempers to belch. Emerge.

Out. Out. Chasing out loiterers.

The only soul unruffled, my little son, safe in his pen. Clutching his elephant. Painted wooden wheels hurling sparks.

And, oh. Such a storm.

A crusading angel who folds, knots, the pretzel in my fist. Refuses to spare the soles of my feet. As I go marching in filthy socks. Begging for a match to burn it down. The inconvenience of a spouse breastfeeding swine, tickling bristled snouts with one long ring finger.

But the storm I conjure is not perfect. It does not compel you to run for cover. It does not ignite a firework in your pants.

Well. Such is my poverty in working magic twice removed.

When we fuck, in the aftermath of our coupling, I am plagued with insecurities. The sound of whittling.

The smell of wood shavings.

They scrabble up from between my legs. Blossom in my throat like cockroaches, deathwatch beetles.

And the crows are like flies. The hard buds on your breasts, candies. A priest might set a course by their swarming to deliver up last rites.

Your long winding sleeve. My impecunious anatomy, by comparison, is a blunt protrusion. Thrashed at by Sherpas travelling beneath sterile ice.

I want to throw you down on the bed and remove your leggings with my teeth.

But when it is done, when you have mined all roads meandering back, I refuse to go waving a scalpel.

Better to go bury all memory in a padlocked trunk. Load it on a ruptured trolley. Wheel it several miles to the bus station, one side bereaved and listing.

For this is where it terminates.

Between a police cone and a unicycle.

And the blood from the wounding refuses to scab. It snakes in coagulating tributaries joining at the elbow. Tiny black points when the gauze comes off.

And when it is done, papers are served, I will slouch into a stance and smoke three cigarettes. Buy a cup of coffee.

Watch people come and go, the seams on creased overcoats concealing destinations. Pablo, last of the degenerates.

And when the coffee has gone too, I will get up off my bench.

Inter what remains of a marriage in left luggage. Weighed down with charred silver chains.

part 9: scorpio rising


She rises late from bed, lidded irises chased by shadow. It is a little after 5PM.

You listen to hot needles rain down on her skin. From your stool in the kitchen. The sound of water hissing. Gurgling.

A spider walks over the simple meal you prepared for her while she was sleeping. You lift it on a fork. Conscious she will only pick at it, the smell and texture of cooked meat seems to repel her. She has no appetite.

You listen to her step out the shower and bind her head in a towel. You know her routine. She shaves her armpits with her husband's razor - your razor - you have not used it since the cuffs went on. She does not trouble her secret hairs but proceeds directly to her legs. Ankles. Calves. From there to the hall, the master bedroom.

Your son's bottle stands in a striped ceramic bowl. Near the open window which channels every whisper.

She enters the kitchen and lights a cigarette. Her back speaks to you so eloquently. The black strap of her bra unclasped, the damp coil of hair not quite aligned with her spine.

If there is anything left unsaid, neither of you can find the words.

The nurse's tunic hangs on the radiator where you have left it to dry.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

part 8: spike


Saturday. You revisit "Cain's Book".

Trocchi was in his mid-thirties, you have read, at the time of its completion. A relatively young man, still. Schooled in philosophy and the etiquette of parochial alliance.

One has the sense his embracing the spike, the spoon - its attendant reliance on facilitators - was just as rooted in the politic. The replacing of one narcissistic ritual with another.

Crows wheel. Make a racket.

Congregating on telephone wires. Consummating a primal urge to sound a warning bell. All the while picking at a union dashed against the rocks.

The caravan, its trousseau, is overtaken by Indians.

There is no sign of your fox out there. You've seen neither hide nor hair since that last time squatting. Tongue lolling while he excretes and sniffs his carefully laid festive turd.

Reminding you that everything turns to shit. Wily old bastard.

You are back where you started out four weeks ago. Painted into a corner. You need a good cut man. Someone to slice and dress just to to get you up off the fucking stool.

Inject a little insulin.

That thing with Trocchi.

The singular determination to avoid the consequences. Emotional fallout. You are naturally envious. In this he is spectacularly evasive, always gravitating to the simple mechanics of scoring. Proceeding directly to the hit.

Holding court in a lair in Sheridan Square, the cunt. Craftily fixing.

It is entirely as if he is still attending lectures, tutorials, in the thick of all this dodging. Engaging in a discourse with his mentor there.

The chemistry of alienation.

And all this time your wife continuing to dispense good care to the terminally wounded. Amputees marching helplessly in circles. Over toast soldiers and straight off the table.

Wiping shit off arses. Wrestling bodies into slings.

And you unreconciled in your beaten suede jacket. Riding the subway back and forth in a circle of her bidding too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

part 7: sunday morning


It is Sunday morning. Again.

What begins, innocuously enough, with coffee and cigarettes has me waving in coordinates less than one hour late later. Cell phone in hand. Leaning out over the geraniums on our balcony.

Irene, Irene. Turbulent of eye. Cruelly inflicting Category 3 damage in the Caribbean where she first dabbled in tearing down the house. Horrifying cosmonauts in perpetual orbit. Truck drivers from Campanario through West Virginia.

There is rain in the air. Bruised skies.

And the threat first nursed in her sulking retreat in a Latin safe quarter, silk knickers hand-stitched and waiting in a loft somewhere in Manhattan. Flushed north, west with the tourists. On across the Atlantic. Those sodden skirts whipping up a lather.

What's that ? I scream. No, no. Right I said. Turn right.

My wife hands me the baby and jumps down the stairs. She and our visitor miss each other by a couple of streets.

Take a fucking right and follow the avenue straight on down.

I windmill my arms and pace back and forth like Fidel on his mountain in 1957. Take our son inside and return to light a cigarette. It has been years since I have been close to a good cigar.

We meet up - our friend, my wife, her four-year-old daughter - and drink more coffee. Her little girl trips on the concrete and splits her knee. She does not blink an eye, but asks for pen and paper. Tires quickly of the scribbling and imprisons my tiny son in a pink chalk circle.

We listen to Cachao. Israel Lôpez. A little Miles.

I don't own a passport. I can't fake the moves. But I love to marvel at the women. The cars. Those tail fins. Radiator grills like the grins on circling barracuda; Myer Lansky's junkie cronies bedded down at the Hotel Nacional.

Hot-pants. Basketball vests. Ripe melons. Mojitos.

A ring of fingers spread along the Malecón.

Not quite 11:00 AM, my head is cloudy. Jammed full of trivia. Fatigued too easily.

Irene, Irene. She'll give you a slap still.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

part 6: dead beat defendant

EXTRACT: STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE

S38 (1) [FUC EWE 28 − 1]

The submission ought not to be regarded, by any means, as an admission of guilt. Neither is it an unburdening of mitigating circumstances.

My client contends that the preceding and following stand solely as a document. I would emphasize his determination, then, that it not be construed, either, as a plea for reconciliation. In short, it "is what it fucking is." Insomuch as, (it is) something no better or worse than   "idly doodling (noughts and crosses) while waiting for an aneurism."

part 5: interruptus


I press my nose into her belly and open my mouth. My nostrils filled with long dark hairs. Scented by musk. Damp not with arousal, but confinement. Her pants. Her jeans. Toil and walking.

I open my eyes and look up at her, over her pubis. Her head lolls faraway atop a pale mountain, the graceful pillar and tendons on her neck. The cool slab of one shoulder, folded blade turned away from me.

I open my eyes, then, and fasten my lips on the dark flesh of her cunt. No gentle cleft, but spilling from its canopy.

Sharp. Pungent. Confrontational.

A wound which has expelled three children, the long midnight sex which drew my seed. Alive with the sense of toughening.

I probe the entrance to it with my tongue. An exploratory nibble. Conscious of depths winding back through her cervix, into her womb.

The sweeping red wall of it.

The ticking of its pulse.

I tease out her clitoris and massage these folds which envelop it. Follow her labia down to where it sits on the arch of her buttocks. Caress its mended tear with all the tenderness I can muster. Her fingers on my left ear now, the gristle, as I turn to examine the stretchmark at the core of her thighs, the white scar of it there as long as I have known her.

Solitary. Almost abashed. Singular.

A fissure in the landscape of my map of her.

I open my mouth and drink of her. Wash my face in the river which springs from the heart of her. Listen to the rhythm of its current.

There is quiet here. Healing. A potency of volcanoes.

The potential to turn all to ash.

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, she will be gone. Taking our son with her, the son I would not let go. And my stepchildren are delighted, and my older son will miss his little brother. And my little son is too little to be perturbed.

So I sit at her well and I listen to the sound of her leaving.

Her pockets are steep to the strings of her coil. 


Monday, August 4, 2014

part 4: a knife, a fork, a spoon


I fall out of bed on the flat of both feet and weave to the bathroom. The Shaving Mirror. One glance is sufficient to identify a welter of mistimed feints. A jumble of standing counts lurking just beneath the tissue thin skin.

My eyes are ringed blue and black. The hair is an affront. I do not have the fortitude to peel back my lips to examine what remains of the gums.

I fill the kettle and leave it to boil. Forced to transfer water to it from an empty coffee jar. The sink is too shallow, its taps set too snug in its porcelain bowl, to do it directly.

The entire process reminds me of Necchi bailing out his scow, his barge, on that stretch of black ribbon between New Jersey and Coney Island. Several inches of bilge water lapping at the timbers, his kit packed neatly in a tin box on a string. Bobbing in the hold.

I sit on the bed and roll a cigarette.

It is three minutes past eight. Another morning, but this time I am summonsed.

Already I am hot under the collar of my favourite shirt. The colour of scorched jacket potatoes. The boiler is working again, intermittently since the front desk fixed it, a seizure during the night once more sending the temperature plummeting.

I crouch on the edge of the narrow bed and pull on the spastic chain inches from my shoulder. The blind flies up and rattles on the spindle fitted in the window. I look out. Watch a fox take a crap on the bed and breakfast's stricken back lot. Littered with felled trees from the storms, snow from an upended sugar pot.

Listen to a door slam and the creaking of the stair as the first tormented soul ventures down into the bowels of this ship for a cup of milky tea. A sliver of toast.

I rub my nose as the fox shivers up on its haunches.

The building has been besieged by an uncharacteristic calm all weekend. The tone deaf midnight singer has checked out. Two more ejected when prohibited paraphernalia is discovered by room service.

A crack-pipe on a bed. A stash of syringes behind a u-bend.

Anyone here will tell you.

You don't need fucking junkies ruining your Christmas.

Pupils contracted to the size of pinheads from his most recent hit. Irises the precise colour of pebbles paled and eroded by repeated body blows, the crashing Irish Sea, the constant movement of sand, peat. Weighing probabilities as he eyes my hands clenched in my pockets.

And through it all, yet, a New Year looming.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

part 3: pencil as scalpel

You're going to regret this.
What ?
You're going to regret this. I'm going to make you cry again.
What ?
Shut your fucking mouth, you prick.
Two hours a week.
Shut your fucking mouth.

Your clothes have not been machine washed in close to five weeks. You rinse your underpants in the shower, you scrub and scrub, and hot water rains down on your ochre aged body; but you dare not wash your socks.

The radiator in your mean little rented room is permanently cold to the touch. It is half way through December and you will never get them dried. Sick of constantly rotating your undergarments in the vague hope they might prove self-cleaning, you sneak out in this latest downpour and purchase the cheapest you can find.

Twelve pairs of stockings, like the days of Christmas, half as many boxers.

Room No. 6.

Scarcely big enough to accommodate a tangle of black thoughts; a worn pair of shoes drying too beneath a wash-hand basin, the brown nylon grip bleeding ropes of spoiled laundry when there is no space left behind jammed bureau drawers.

Ti jean's last dance in Big Sur cracked open on the bedsheets. Terminally crippled from a spinal injury. Slack jawed. Catching flies. Spitting bright red bubbles through the shredded pulp of a Florida orange.


Sitting barefoot in the middle of the floor, a sunlit rug browning in late afternoon, surrounded by lengths of copper tubing. Attaching paper notes to curling branches with surgical precision.

How do you like my emotion tree?

Wetting the gummed margin of a cigarette paper with your tongue.

It looks like it needs a Valium, doll.

So you fall back to the bed and try to count those dessicated insects entombed behind the glass ceiling shade. Fried there by the element tortured in the shape of a branding iron. Section 38. There are too many. Clusters of droppings where there once was fluttering.

Drawn there through the crack under the window on July's thermals. The air creeping there has long turned to ice.

Between hubcaps chasing trampolines down the street in 160mph winds to squirrels impaled on listing television antennae - more hurricanes, your son's first birthday, a quartered chicken smoking in the pan where you hide your head - you skulk in second hand bookstores when the subway is not flooded.

Looking to score.

"A writer of no literary consequence whatsoever."

Poor Alexander. The copy of "Young Adam" is decades removed from its first pressing. It is not, either, the book, that old acquaintance, you hankered after. The filmy jacket displays a women naked from the waist down. Submerged under water, legs splayed immodestly, an untidy parcel between her thighs spiraling up beneath a scrap of muslin.

She looks just like your wife, half drowned.

It is probably why you are drawn to it.

 

part 2: a knife and a fork

At which point does mere bickering simmer into something more heated? At which point do raised voices - agitated, rattling tea-cups - boil over into something actionable?

He said things. She said things.

He did not want her to leave with their baby.

He did not pause to consult a barometer, let alone measure degree.

She is present in court when I arrive for the hearing. 5'9" in stockinged feet. Arranged on a pedestal of sorts overlooked by the benches.

Two solicitors are engaged in a preliminary examination of the evidence. Peering up at her over the glittering rims of their glasses. Nodding at one another.

Whispering.

Unsettled by such close scrutiny, my wife raises one arm protectively. Covering her breasts. Since she is quite naked, save for knee length socks, the gesture prompts much chortling from the gallery.

The sheriff calls for order.

The younger of the two solicitors produces a set of tweezers from his waistcoat pocket as if bent on grooming his moustache. He wears a signet ring on his middle finger, lurid and yellow like something in a pawn shop window. A natural showman, he reaches out and teases a sprig of hair on her belly. Pincers it. Holds it aloft for his counterpart to appraise.

On the strength of an immediate assessment of one pubic strand's resistance to tensions, those existant special conditions of bail may or may not be removed.

I want to call out to her from the dock. But we are permitted no dialogue. I calculate the solicitor's brazenness to have caused a maximum of distress, to any reasonable person, but of course he is immune to all charges.

I remember my wife once arranging herself on unvarnished floorboards. Those long legs stretched out in front of her, sneakers and tights tossed under the sofa. Up to our ankles in winter.

You have beautiful feet.

What ?

Your feet. Are gorgeous. Beautiful.

The pocket-book allows me the luxury of revisiting the scene of the accident, all intersecting trajectories, but does not afford us protection.

 

part 1: out of a mouth, a dark crocus spills


Previously:


The consensus - propagated, largely, by a small tribe of transplanted New Yorkers: Myers, up to his elbows in mimeographed scribblings, the purpled stain of off-set litho; Hell, not Rimbaud, to Miller's Verlaine - was that the contagion spread exponentially from an infected locus on the Bowery. Between 1974 and 6. The Gorbals and Stonehenge. Via the tortured point of a safety-pin.

Conveniently bent to expose a path between (a) and (b).

Circumventing (c).

Evidence - memory, binary and mutating - suggests otherwise. That the virus first sprang up among those vacant lots littering America's Midwest. Where it would not be contained.

At times an addled spider, nesting veined and fractured tumors; at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent coalescing in cold blue flame. Licking out broken windows in downtown Cleveland. Igniting pockets screaming for change.

A tangle of words.

Jihadi. Pulchritude. Punk.

That its seeds may have been scattered by great squalls billowing up through the gulf. Ushered in from Kansas, the yellow brick threat of misdirected violence. Lying dormant. Awaiting excavation like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

2, 4, 5-T; 2, 4-D.

Leaking canisters of Rainbow Herbicide.

1000 genome clones transferred from acetate under 170 lbs per square inch of steam heated scrap iron. Its sum weight an exploratory craft set adrift, one hand pummeling on its rotten hull.

Waiting to catch a wind.

Well. Out of a mouth, a dark crocus emerges.

EXTRACT:

1) CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND LICENSING (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010 S38 (1) DOMESTIC

"The court granted bail and imposed the following conditions, namely, that the accused:

(aa) that breach of a condition imposed is an offence and renders the accused liable to arrest, prosecution and punishment under this act.

(g) that the accused does not approach or contact nor attempt to approach ____ ____ in any way.

(h) does not enter nor seek to enter _________ ____ or come within 100 yards of _________ ____. [sic]



Submission 1, Section 38 (1):

The fiscal submits that the accused did threaten, in a manner liable to cause distress and alarm to any reasonable person. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

shot to follow


ba. No nrg.  The soft cap does not erupt, ignite, less explode.

The parenthesis, (o), is an inexplicable blank. An empty chamber. An uncalibrated round of muted applause.

Not much has happened in the intervening years - psychosis; invalidity; crippling paranoia; sedation - but the churning underpins the explanation which one fears is inevitably demanded. Continuity.

There was a brief period of incarceration, stick it to me two times, I confess, but let's not infer anything incriminating beyond the merest suspicion of guilt. Less than one grain. Diluted twofold.

The first evolved over 48 hours at the close of 2011, my own Protex Blue. The second involved a short spell on a psychiatric ward some months later, but ended in my walking away too, nonetheless pursued, though I'm determinedly not about to begin fingering Blind Meloncholy. Washington, Jefferson, Nixon or a burned out Ford. A peanut harvester down on the farm.

My complexion is far too wan to properly pull it off.

I shed a lot of weight - identity too -  put it all back on in an instant. Consenting to medication. The cunting Procurator Fiscal tailed me relentlessly, would not let it sleep, but the courts found in my favour regardless. Not that their wigs are deserving of the merest thanks. A woeful tale of the indelible stain of an unwarranted Section 38. The rifled baggage of a marriage. Divorce.

The fiscal's representative nursed acne scars while I nursed an unspoken grievance. My own scars. The fuckers detained me but would not let me speak. With or without proper legal counsel.

And so. I'm back in black.

Rum and Coke, Rye and Coke, Brandy and Coke. The Aripiprazole without the coke.

I'm not being deliberately obtuse. Just a little soused.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9.11. dexter, sinister


On the subject of 9/11, I have little to say, save that I notice an elderly man across the street has planted American flags in his window. One large flag taped to the centre pane, two smaller ones either side.

The wound is too raw, even ten years on, the ceiling torn away so toweringly iconic, that it is difficult to reconcile trauma on the ground with repercussions rolling out from its epicentre.

I watched old footage of Bush, Jr on our television this morning. Bumbling toward some public play at catharsis. All sense of emotion evaded him then, I seem to remember, the human scale of things. Wide-eyed like a nodding imbecile in the classroom, he merely looked to have soiled himself.

New York City's mayor made a better job of mobilizing a response. Bill Clinton, stepping out of retirement. Dogshit and disgrace.

I was listening to the Ramones when flight 11 nose dived into the North Tower of the World Trade Center - 'Road to Ruin', I am not fabricating events - and I could not engage a pause. I sat and smoked a cigarette. The telephone rang. The word 'apocalyptic' is frequently misused, but the unfolding of the impossible seemed to resonate with biblical import. Twenty-two floors up, myself, small potatoes granted, I sat on my little wooden stool and braced myself for further impact; an explosion of concrete and glass.

Chicken Little, stripped to the bone.

I worried for my young son's safety - just three-years-old at the time - and decided there was nothing to be done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

poem for a stand up guy, in beer




I could not listen
for the scraping retort.
The
Cackling;
Hooting;
the explosive Guffaw,

Ears burning,
pricked by stitching,

Even the word
'Nipple'
Arousing raw heights
of inanity,
Spittled lips puckered
Wetly
in rows, front and back,

The spotlight trained
on
tired, spotted flesh,
Sticking
at the armpits,
Small beer, short shrift,

Arrivists in cashmere
Sweaters,
Hanging on each word.

Finally,
it is not the metal taste
of fear
which saws and stings -

the spoon,
the knife, the fork -

It is the copper ringing,
the dread
of the seasoned familiar,
The strings,
The posies,
The lantern jaw of the
wooden marionette in the
Shadow of a beard,
The singing of the crowd,
The flaccid chatter,

The monkey,
the organ, the grind.


I tossed out the above poem, listening to it rattle through my skull, between a supermarket trip and charging electricity to my key. Milo had been shrieking since 7 AM. There was no respite from his teething. Whingeing. He headbutted me twice, I think. He may have unplugged a tooth.


The last of the loosely presentable.

I was thinking on '
Hostage', recorded live at Redondo Beach in April, 1980; Jon's Trotskyite cronies in Echo Park, 1972, too consumed with politicking to peer over their noses long enough to register discomfit.

From a grandiose brownstone, to a pier on Venice Beach.

I don't know if you are familiar with '
Hostage'. It is all but insufferable. Charles Bukowski, it is alleged, detested public performance. The routine humiliation.

There is no sense in stepping in a prize stallion's shoes, it is remarked, unless one is prepared to break from the stalls at a gallop. Of course. Charles Bukowski studied form.

The odds, the skinny, shortfalls in rent.

Despite all this, he could not stomach the notion of pandering to the crowd. There is more joy, perhaps, in trudging pavements in the snow. I have tried that too. I have written of it in private correspondence.

Coming home from the night shift with one's arms three inches longer. Fingers torn and bloody from mail sacks fresh off the 3 AM flight. Falling straight into bed knowing Christmas is in the bag.

Well. The postman brings good news. A Trust here in Glasgow has agreed to finance a good part of my tuition fees. I am relieved. Ecstatic. That they have backed my horse before it is dragged off to the knacker's yard, that I have composed my mouth in one last gasp.

Allen Ginsberg famously courted the crowd. It was a good gig, while it lasted.

Such as it is, I am of a mind to visit a home recorded reading from New Orleans, Louisiana - of all places - from 1970, forty years and many ailing dogs ago.

Of course. I have not arrived. Not quite yet, I am not so addled, though the Merlot is back on the menu. The beer tucked away in our fridge.

It is a nod, to the living at least. As much a public nicety as I am capable of.



CHARLES BUKOWSKI: HAMMER AND LEASH from "King Of Poets" CD (Chinaski Records) 1997 (US / Germany)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

jock's away, in a manner of speaking























Oscar Wilde Brendan Behan Sean O'Casey George Bernard Shaw Samuel Beckett Eugene O'Neill Edna O'Brien Lawrence Stern Sean Kavanaugh Sean McCann Benedict Keilly Jimmy Hiney Frank O'Connor Catherine Rhine Russell Hoban Charles Bukowski William S. Burroughs Robert Stone...

Recorded by Ian Sommerville.

From a lecture given by WSB at
the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics,
Naropa Institute, April 20, 1976,
and Brion Gysin's Permutational Tape fragment,
BBC Studios, London, 1960.

Sans Big Jimmy Paterson on trombone.

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: ORIGIN AND THEORY OF THE TAPE CUT-UPS from "Break Through in a Grey Room " CD (Sub Rosa) 1994 (US/UK)
BRION GYSIN: RECALLING ALL ACTIVE AGENTS from "Break Through in a Grey Room " CD (Sub Rosa) 1994 (US/UK)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

4 million buys you shit























photograph by robert altman.


"It was cheap; cheap; cheap-uh," squealed Jonathan Richman at the age of 41, moved by the vaguely unclean spirit of Bubba-Ho-Tep. Mo Diddley. Blue Mask era Lewis Reed as dessicated hip priest. "Nowadays I hear the rents are steep."

I fell back on the futon, feigning a head cold. My wife busied herself in preparation of a Sunday morning expedition to the swimming pool. With our young son. My stepchildren. If I wasn't unspeakably selfish, I might never find the space to scribble.

Such is the routine loneliness - surliness - of the long distance sniveller.

I sheltered behind a paper shield. Saturday's edition of what was once a broadsheet.

Like everything else, it has diminished in stature somewhat.

"Mumbai's slums are being gentrified," writes their foreign correspondent, "as middle-class Indians... sell their flats in distant suburbs and purchase illegal shanties in the city's central areas."

Actually. It was the headline which glued my eye.

"'SLUMDOG' SHACKS SOAR IN PRICE AS COMMUTERS SWAP SUBURBS FOR CITY"

In a week which saw UK mobsters, RBS slapped with a writ issued in the US - for their part in the subprime confidence trick which all but crippled global faith in free market religion - India races one step farther in paying through the nose for a silk purse fashioned entirely out of a pig's ear. Stealing the show in staging a masterclass in the art of turning the other cheek.

In a country where it pays better to dabble in out-sourced customer 'service' from a US or European financed call centre, than to take the Hippocratic Oath, India's new wealth is defined by hard currency.

It is not immediately apparent just who is making a killing.

On the face of it, it is those people living in the heart of Mumbai's slums who stand to make a profit. Typically, investing in a slum dwelling may net the aspiring buyer a loss in straight 'trade'. A modest shanty in Sewri, for example, may fetch as much as "four million rupees". £50,000. The stench of human waste running freely in the gutter seals the deal; vermin openly feeding on untreated filth.

But as rents soar as a direct result, it is those families who settled there generations previously who are being squeezed out. To establish new illegal settlements in ever more harrowing no-go zones.

No schools. No community. Scant opportunity to make ends meet.

The scandal evolving, then, has less to do with the modern parable of playing pass the parcel with toxic securities than the age-old saga of slum landlords ruthlessly embracing token regeneration.

Lest one forgets. In the 1980s, the darkly comedic double act of Regan and Thatcher popularized the free market economy to a staggeringly gullible and avaricious electorate. Privatizing one industry after the other; peddling them back to the public at large in shrink-wrapped token stocks and shares.

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, not so much asleep as intoxicated at the wheel, were impervious to the consequences.

In such a climate, social housing was auctioned off with the rest of the family silver. Many individuals turned a tidy profit. Others inherited negative equity.

A lot of people spoke quite often of "collateral damage". Laughing all the way to the bank. A newly entrenched underclass - in Detroit, Glasgow, Manchester - took on the mantle of India's untouchables, and never shook it off.

House prices rocketed. Entire inner city areas, too, turned to shit.

Of course, there will always be a vocal element who stand to profit from shrouding the great illusion in still more smoke and mirrors. Mumbai, they will argue, is on the up. What's happening in Sewri, Dharavi, is indicative of India's commitment to eradicating poverty.

Really ? I think we've heard word to that effect numerous times before.

The Commonwealth Games village in Delhi dribbling sewage on the white hand stitched leather uppers of its athletes' Nike Airs, while government shoots for the moon. And an estimated £1 Billion in International Foreign Aid which still can not be accounted for. Not this side of Bollywood's space race.

Jonathan Richman tells it more entertainingly than I, sibling.

At some time in 1972 I guess he relocated to Venice Beach. In the company of David Robinson, Ernie Brooks and Jerry Harrison. The original Modern Lovers. 

On the heels of an east coast session for Warner Bros., recorded at Intermedia Studio in Boston, Massachussets, the group secured two demo sessions in LA; the first overseen by one John Cale. The Venice they encountered then might just have been invaded by surfers operating out of Dogtown, a seedier bay area on the south fin of Santa Monica.

In 1972, Jeff Ho, in partnership with Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk, founded Zephyr Surfboard Productions in the decrepit heart of Dogtown. Stecyk, a local artist, invested Ho's board designs with a delinquent edge informed by graffiti tags seen all over the street; wholly at odds with those saccharine airbrushed sunbursts washed up on Muscle Beach. In Dennis Wilson's beard.

Dogtown's surfers were hard core. Digging in and occupying an abandoned amusement park on the Pacific Ocean Park Pier - the P-O-P - midway between Venice Beach proper and their home turf back in Dogtown. The P-O-P was a dangerous spot to surf, seemingly teeming with rotting timber pilings, an Iwo Jima fought for and defended with dogged enthusiasm, it is alleged.

In 1972, too, polyurethane skateboard wheels emerged, and Dogtown's Zephyr crew slipped the leash, taking to the streets and sidewalks like punk Angels on a staggered run.

Zigzagginng as ferociously as hoodlum circus collies on rollerblades.

In 1972, this would have been a part of The Modern Lovers' Venice Beach. A part of the scene they stumbled into. Between the shabby rooming house inhabited briefly, and that studio session produced by Cale.

Who could have anticipated it ? 

Slumdog. Dogtown. Roadrunner, Once, Twice, Three Times.




JONATHAN RICHMAN: ROOMING HOUSE ON VENICE BEACH from "I, Jonathan" CD (Rounder) 1992 (US)

MUMBAI: PREVIOUSLY ON THE BLEACHERS


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"an experimental approach to understanding burnt fish bone"



The rain threatened, a sickly purple glowering, and I was listening again to some Charles - Bukowski not Ray - while my wife dressed the baby between coffees. '90 Minutes in Hell', via Nothin' in Sacramento.

Three short damaged pieces. I did not get so far as 'May Make Paris Yet'.

The readings are almost perfect, the theatrics of the title forgivable, his delivery - the timing - telling. Charles was acquainted with his own failings more intimately than most.

The mildly wheedling Hollywood inflection reminds me a lot of Bernstein - Steven Jesse, not Leonard - despite the younger man's relocation to Seattle; a maladjusted adolescent in oversized glasses. Pimpled round the edges.

The tone of each reminds me of all that is fine in poetry.

It startles me greatly that some are quick to dismiss his writing as miserable, coming out the armchair with scalpel blade as bookmark in their 'Grapes of Wrath'. Stabbing at perceived haemorrhoids, 'Their Finest Art' made tumorous flesh. Carver, for example, strikes me as more acutley grim. Editorially concise. Even while I admire the economy.

I don't know. There is nothing so silkily noir in those utterances from a bungalow with the drapes half drawn. Just the sense of making sense of routine.

Restriction. Absurdity.
Disability.

We bundled Milo into his buggy and set out for the second hand shops permeating Dumbarton Road. An outdoor market. The rain held off for a little more than half an hour.

I had the most peculiar dream much later, in the early hours of the morning, with our youngest son waking us for the third time before the grey of 5 AM.

I saw a book opened in front of me. A line or two in sharp relief.

"...Red on the outside with blackened channels, charred transgressions touching 1 mm at the bone."

I could not make sense of it. It conjured for me notions of plague. Bubonic transmissions. That "1 mm", though, seemed altogether too modern. Anatomically precise.

The metric overture to an excision.

I sat in front of the desktop monitor after I'd made coffee and punched open a tab. Googled the line as I remembered it. The computer is growing too sluggish to be smartly useful, the beach ball spins and idles. Like its operator, it may require therapy. Psychiatric intervention.

The search unexpectedly yielded more than one result. Nothing verbatim, but close enough.

"illustrate the taphonomic complexity involved in the formation of burnt fish .... transgression, supra-tidal berm building, ... fragments smaller than 1 mm in size. ..."
"DNA from burnt bone in the early stages of burial. Nicholls. (2000) also considered bone mass as a ...... in the site at all levels, particularly in the 1 mm fraction'. ...... transgression (c.6000 BP). Thus, the archaeological record ..."

More than a possibility, then. "An Experimental Approach to Understanding Burnt Fish Bone"; something more vaguely archaeological. Well. I am no chef. I might occasionally dabble with sauces on the side, but my capability with fish is strictly third rate. Raw tuna; a breaded haddock tossed under the grill.

I don't remember consulting any recipe. Less, any stone cold treatise. Locked in Mesozoic deposits.

This conundrum, such as it is, is more curious than debilitating.

King Charles' 90 minutes - 12-14 of them, at least - has again given me pause for thought. The finances are not good, but I am working up contingencies. Drumming up a sweat.

The poetry waits in its implementing.

The telephone rang.

"Hello, " a passive aggressive voice intoned. A woman's voice. Crisply officious, faintly bored. "We have your son here at the office. He does not look too good."

"Well, " I said. "That's a matter of opinion."

"No. He does not look good. Period. You will have to collect him."

I left for the bus stop with a bottle of Peptac Liquid in a plastic carrier bag. Aniseed. The Peptac Liquid, not the bag. There is a world of difference between heartburn and underlying condition. When I was a young man, I suffered from heartburn a good part of the time.

A little Milk of Magnesia always worked a treat.

"Hey," I greeted my older son. Bowed over on the bench and clutching his chest. "How are you feeling ?"

When I was staring at my teens, the notion of credentials got in the way. I decided I had not lived enough. That all good writers must first acquire a consumptive skin; tanned by alcohol, at least, like Kerouac. Yage, as with our more exotic Uncle Bill.

Except for Hemingway.

Even strawberry nosed bank managers, I knew, sought quite earnestly to emulate that inflated florid robustness. Right down to the ridiculously tidy maritime cap. Seemingly reserved for holidaying in remote Scottish parts; possibly called upon as an aphrodisiac where oysters failed.

The irony, of course, is that Kerouac - up on bricks - was more often off, than on the road. Visions of Neal. Cody. The train hurtling past his bedroom window as he sat at a desk and fed white paper in and out.

It was the rhythm which appealed to me, I think. The music of it. Before Eliot. Plath. Camus. Joyce. Stone. Trocchi. Ezra pounding.

An unabashed exuberance. Sharp creases duly crumpling.

"Listen," I said. "It's all simple chemistry. The litmus test."

Well. You are familiar enough with dipping those little squares of paper. Coming up red or indigo, occasionally a neutral yellow green. The rainbow in a bruise.

It's all the forensics I know.

It's why the Latin crash course feels so apposite. I am less taken with dispassionate bebop, possibly, than the heat of the rash. Heartburn. Thrush. Immediacy.

'An anger which moves', emphatically.

Maybe a Pablo could make sense of it all.

And my older son ? Thank you for asking, he's doing quite well. A lukewarm glass of milk was all it took. At a pavement cafe. Stay with me awhile, and we'll maybe figure it out.

Cold suite to follow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

hurricane irene | descargas in miniature



The last I looked, Manhattan was Joe Bataaning down the hatches in preparation for the worst. All along the financial district, while the last revelers refused to vacate Times Square even as the tourists were being flushed north. Within an inch of Harlem.

Irene, Irene. Turbulent of eye. The calculating stare of a catatonic in heat.

Cruelly inflicting Category 3 destruction in the Caribbean where she first dabbled in tearing down the house, horrifying astronauts in perpetual orbit; truck drivers from Carolina through Virginia.

A raffia skirt whipping. Foam from the chops of a slavering dog.

Born in Havana in 1918, the universe of Israel 'Cachao' López was shaped - moved - by waves from the outset. Schooled at home by classically trained parents, indulged by a burgeoning extended family of professional musicians, López stepped in on contra bass for the Orquesta Filarmónica de La Habana before he turned thirteen.

Credited with devising the mambo, circa 1937, his role in popularizing African rhythms - integrating them seamlessly into mainstream Cuban culture as an immediately identifiable motif - is impossible to overestimate.

"He played the acoustic bass with his late brother, multi-instrumentalist Orestes López. The brothers composed literally thousands of songs together and were heavily influential on Cuban music from the 1930s to the 1950s. They introduced the nuevo ritmo ("new rhythm") in the late 1930s, which transformed the danzón by introducing African rhythms into Cuban music, which led to mambo. They co-wrote the danzon "Mambo" which was called the "Mother of all Mambos" by Cuban writer G. Cabrera Infante."

More crucially still, in the thick of Batista era corruption, Havana's love affair with the tourist dollar - those government sanctioned rackets catering to Meyer Lansky's junkie cronies at the Hotel Nacional - Cachao was able to cement Afro-Cuban music as something beyond the disposable; a hoodoo preamble to louche excess.

A pastel coloured zoot suit. A lonely valise parked under the bed. An airline ticket. Prophylactics.

The exhausted platinum bleach job wilting at the table; the priapic used car salesman with his face melting like a French pastry on the beach.

In 1957, in those neon early hours staggered on from one paid set to the next, Cachao allegedly assembled a posse of musicians in a Havana recording studio to kick out the jams. To give vent to those emotions festering behind an endless circuit trotting out the same tired staple for vacationing guests.

The result was an outpouring of improvisation on a par with Miles.

Locked down in New Jersey with Pete Rugolo; Gil Evans. Hatching his birth of the cool. Plotting, maybe, some rudimentary sketches of Spain.


Israel López dropped the needle straight on the groove.

Delighted with what he knew lurked in the can, Cachao immediately set about touting the reel to Panart, Havana's leading independent record label, situated on San Miguel 410, between Campanario and Lealtad, founded 14 years earlier by musician and engineer, Ramón Sabat.

Panart, allegedly, did not share his enthusiasm. Nonetheless releasing his 'descargas'. Under the title, "Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions In Miniature", issue # 2092.

The world pricked its ears. Fidel proved not so generous.

Whatever seeds of disquiet were sown in vinyl, the Revolution of 1959 turned at a different rate. Havana's reign at centre of a profligate storm was finished, felled with a rifle shot straight between the eyes.

Cachao himself, walking wounded.

Departing for Miles' Spain with Ernesto Duarte's Orchestra in 1962 - while he could, or as directed - Israel López threw on the yoke of self imposed exile, trading the Egypt of his fathers for New York City, then Vegas. A dead red sea.

Faux pyramids; pharaohs; jazz and jism.

The hurricane, when it arrived, was all but spent. Spitting pennies onto the carpeted forecourt of a jangling casa. Front of house. An affront. Clasping hands, laundering old favours with those CIA pension cheques stacked up in chips.

Irene, Irene. She'll give you a slap, still.

All the way from her sulking retreat in a Latin safe harbour, those tortured silk knickers.

An acquaintance of an acquaintance - several times removed - is said to have alighted here. Arriving by cab, these past 48 hours.

"I don't get it," he is said to have said. "Is it real ? Pretense ? It reads like shit."

What's to get ? You're either on, or off the bleachers. Puckered in, or nudged between the benches on a trombone's sliding fart. Breaking wind in the dark.

Everything else is circumstantial.



CACHAO Y SU RITMO CALIENTE: DESCARGA CUBANA from "Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature" LP (Penart) 1957 (Cuba)
CACHAO Y SU RITMO CALIENTE: TROMBON CRIOLLO from "Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature" LP (Penart) 1957 (Cuba)

IN MINIATURE THROUGH A TELESCOPE


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

incremental air strikes




Incoming.

It had all the ingredients of some kind of coup d'état. What began with an 8:30 AM jaunt to the labour exchange - "wash n' go", the knives safely locked away for sharpening - saw me madly waving in the coordinates for an air strike less than one hour later.

Cellphone in hand. Leaning out over the geraniums on our balcony.

There was no rumbling approach of tanks. No three-wheeled baby carriages, even.

While insurgents were busy strafing Gaddafi's compound with heavy calibre machine guns mounted in flatbed trucks, an old friend of mine had lost her bearings.

"What's that ? " I screamed into the phone. "Just follow the road straight on down. No, no. Right, I said. Turn right."

My wife left the baby with me to go and intercept my friend and her four-year-old daughter. Needless to say, they missed each other by a couple of streets.

I windmilled my arms and paced back and forth like Fidel on his mountain in 1957. I lit a cigarette. It has been years since I have been close to a good cigar.

Fidel might have been dribbling a basketball, still, in baseball shoes.


We met up. We drank some coffee and ventured back out to collect my friend's five-year-old from school. He has just completed his first week there; my older son, his first out of the primaries. One through seven. Not an election in sight.

On the way there, her daughter stumbled and split her knee. The blood was streaming into her shoes. She did not cry. She is made of sterner stuff.


Her five-year-old was immensely affable. Dispensing observations on the nature of the duckbill platypus. And snakes. The hooded cobra, to be precise.

His sister imprisoned Milo in a chalk circle. Fitted dancing shoes on his little sockless feet.

We made our way home in the middle of the afternoon. Stopped off at the supermarket for groceries. The leaves on the trees have not begun to redden quite yet, but it is coming all the same. We turned the corner and caught up with our three older children, in time to redistribute the weight.

The key had scarcely turned in the lock when my stepdaughter stepped on the mail. Airmail, at that. Incremental Decrepitude. #1.

All the way from Connecticut.


Well. It's author, Dave Brushback, claims to have borrowed the title from one of my posts. I don't know. I'm immensely flattered, of course. I'm astounded that he managed to turn it around.

It has been a while since I've fallen back from the monitor into hard copy. The issue of obsession. Photographs; copy; the works.

"This issue was made entirely by hand.
Which is why you probably didn't get one."


The digital revolution has been something of a godsend to all manner of peons, the world around, on and off the bleachers. One base on an overthrow. The elimination of the need for camera ready artwork. Paste-up. The prerequisite to get to grips with paper; to wrestle with pagination.

A staple through one's index finger.

Newspaper is all but finished. News International, PLC. It strikes me, though, that should it all come down - incrementally, all at once - the digital paragraph will be the first to fail. SMS; ADSL.

Just goes to show. Don't throw your hat in the air next time those NATO jets scroll by. Or raise a clenched copper fist. How does one know if the postman knocks a third time, if nobody's home to hear it ?

GET YOUR COPY HERE.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

hot sauce | no colonel sanders, fast food pharaoh



photograph by james joern.


It was vaguely my intention, late into last week, to bring Alice Coltrane onto the bleachers. To dispel all notion of Yoko to her John. I don't know.

Dizzy psychotropic laments. Meandering astral flights in the footsteps of pharaohs, priests.

Instead, I tumbled through Friday afternoon into the weekend proper swaddled not by harp, but immersed in bugalú. Old Seeco and Tico releases from the barrio. Feverishly documented by Teddy Reig, Pancho Cristal, Miguel Estivill, Art Kapper and Joe Cain. Engineered, in the main, by Fred Weinberg.

A handful of Puerto Ricans dug in with the cockroaches up in Spanish Harlem before those Beatles disembarked at JFK: Tito Puente, Joe Cuba, Héctor Rivera.

By the end of it, I was itching to book a ticket to Havana. Pummelled half unconscious by mambo; cha-cha-cha; salsa; too much hot sauce.

I don't own a passport, and I am a woefully poor dancer, but I like to marvel at the women. The cars. Those tail fins; the radiator grills like the grins on a party of circling sharks.

Hot-pants. Basketball vests. Mojitos. Fidel's rationing out the good times when the generators fail. The gangster resorts of the Batista regime reclining in the twilight, a ring of fingers along the Malecón.

It is a little late in the summer to be thinking this way. The riots have subsided into facile politicking. A mother of two, languishing in gaol after receiving looted goods, has seen her ludicrous sentence overturned; David Cameron has set off to Cornwall to reconvene his holiday in the sun; the fractured jaw of the Malaysian student mugged on a London pavement seems to be mending nicely.

The tabloids have commenced a campaign to reclaim England's streets.

Tico Records was established as an outlet for Latin music by New York garment dealer turned impresario, George Goldner, in 1948. While Goldner was allegedly compelled to sell all stakes in Tico, Roulette Records, Rama and Gee in 1957 - to cover considerable gambling debts - his commitment to the label never waned. Artists signing to the label in its lucrative first phase included Mambo Kings, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Machito; huge draws on the dance hall circuit, but unable to capitalize on local demand for recorded product.

By the early 1960s, however, the US embargo on Castro's socialist republic was making an impact on those Cuban influences so integral to Tico's trademark sound. Its islands fell under quarantine as the Bay of Pigs fiasco ushered in yet worse to come.

The second generation of Latin youth, too, in New York City - born and raised in Manhattan's north-east quarter - was gravitating more towards those influences filtering out of Detroit, Berry Gordy's Tamla Motown. Incorporating elements into a new wave of homegrown music. Bugalú. Salsa.

Percussively anchored in familiar Caribbean rhythms, but buoyed - energized - by drifting currents.

Partly in response to Tico's success - now exclusively under the partnerhip of Joe Kolsky and Morris Levy - and partly informed by its decline, Fania Records opened business on 888 7th Avenue on March 25th, 1964. Dominican born musician, Johnny Pacheco, and Jerry Masucci, an Italian-American divorce lawyer who had previously worked in Havana's visa department, forged an alliance which sought to service that fundamental shift in focus.

To refine it. Market it to a global audience.

Fania incorcorated Tico records in 1974, with Masucci stepping out as chief producer for the imprint between that time and its ultimate collapse in 1981.

Bang, bang. Revolution - 45rpm - and foment.



JOE CUBA SEXTET: EL RATÓN from "Vagabundeando! (Hangin' Out)" LP (Tico Records) 1964 (US)
JOE CUBA SEXTET: LA MALANGA BRAVA from "Wanted Dead Or Alive ('Bang! Bang' + 'Push, Push, Push')" LP (Tico Records) 1966 (US)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

book of job



leonaert bramer, circa 1630.


Good things, it is said, come to those who wait.


In my experience, it is more often a case of the postman's second knock. A bum rap. Seldom - if at all - a welcome intrusion. Chinaski in tissue overshoes.

And puddles on the stairs.

Our mail, it is observed, largely arrives by brown envelope. From somewhere in Manila. Unwanted circulars. Bills and warrants, more commonly. Harbingers of farther ill tidings.

Knock-knock, the door goes. The letterbox.

In the absence of the giro - an anachronism - it is safer to remain in bed, the kitchen, to wait for the kettle to boil out the dread. The toast to pop. Or steam seal the cigarette paper, still on tiptoe, a resting bus conductor driven by fears.

No news is good news, they are wont to say, too, fudging
the issue.

In the event that first avalanche of mail drops like a stone; ill met by a sneer or ritual sign of the cross, the expected lottery result.

An ashen face fallen to scowling. A fermented apple, sourly caving in on itself.


I mention this, by way of habit. Better by far to prepare for the worst.

There is no mileage in premature ejaculation beyond the inevitable anticlimax, the disappointing end to a coveted false start. Better by far to dress for a funeral when all are making wedding plans. Better to buy in a litre or two of lamp black paint.

Then again. One would not want it said that one was parsimonious. In terms of casting runes.


Ejecting the unsolicited.

Even druids must have good days, though the very sound of it seems a contradiction. A sacrificing of verisimilitude.

I know of one druid at least who was always smiling, through one catastrophe to the next, it was his preordained lot to nod where others might wince. It was in his nature. The first time the mob turned on him he embraced it quite affably, the fool, they turned him upside down and the idiot grin did not falter. Without a hint of the Biblical, let's get that straight. He was as heathen as they come.


He spent some time in dharma. Absconded from it quite unpenitent.

"I don't know," he said, coming up for air on the Ducking Stool. "It's all so much water under the bridge."

Well. Such was his crime. When it all came down, he was unable to relinquish the predilection to paint a good face on it. An Easter egg. A beating.

In much the same way, it might be argued, I am inured to all talk of frogs; boils; gnats and lice. Staff and rod, and smiting.

Let my people go.

A caravan of wind-up amputees falling down. Marching off the table.