Saturday, June 5, 2010
I have not written a word while under the influence of amphetamine for quite some time. Or scribbled on a white sheet with lysergic acid diethylamide lapping at my brain. Nor have I worked on a drawing for ten uninterrupted hours while the psilocybin pumps up from where my feet are rooted to the floor.
I don't know why I mention this.
Blame it on Tillie. The refugee from Asbury Park, now retired and residing in the armpit of a tattooed man in Santa Rosa. And The Pep Boys. The one resembling Himmler, in particular; or Dr. Josef Mengele on vacation by the sea.
I woke up fairly early this morning and plugged straight into the mainframe. I did not light a cigarette. I did not plumb in the kettle or fill my little china cup to the brim.
I checked my mail. The sort which does not drop through the letterbox in a brown envelope stamped 'this is not a circular'. I huffed and puffed and hummed along to the white collar noise of the fans starting up. I startled the mouse and stroked some keys.
Then I made some coffee.
I have not visited my bus-driver pal for a while. Released at last from the routine of rolling on and off the Golden Gate Bridge. He has not been posting lately.
His account of shore leave back in New Jersey - a reminiscence of the now defunct Palace Amusements - stirred my own memories of the funfair. A photograph from Coney Island of beehived women eating a hole in candyfloss without a safety net; a Glasgow Fair weekend on the Isle of Cumbrae circa 1970.
Millport is a tiny little island anchored in the southwest coast. A grassy knoll the approximate size of Alkatraz.
"You can cycle right round the place in a couple of hours or less, I am told. They had a little fairground with bumpers cars; the dodgems, we call them here. I went on them one bleak Saturday night. Not only was I the only kid there, I believe I was their sole customer. I drove around in circles for the duration of my ticket, vaguely humiliated at persisting with the routine of negotiating nothing but empty space."
The New York photograph and my memory of the string of lights reflecting in the spectacles worn by my grandfather, my gandmother too, have merged in those intervening years. I seem to recall Engelbert Humperdink crooning over the tannoy, but the recollection may be unsound.
My grandparents silently watching me as I went round and round unsettled me. Their faces pinched, bent sinister.
"Are you enjoying yourself, ib ?" they wordlessly enquired. "We hope you are having a good time".
A kind of anxious telepathy.
Of course, every second out there on the hardboard polished deck was excruciating. The evening was not so warm that my grandfather forwent his cardigan. The roaring houndstooth sports jacket.
Later, we returned to the guest house. My grandparents sat drinking whisky. Toasted by what may or may not have been an open fire. I do not remember if there was a working television in the visitors lounge; nor if it was tuned to snow.
I remember my grandfather's face beginning to redden. His voice turning louder. Slurring. Lingering near the ceiling before drifting onto the hearth rug like ash.
The following fragmentary pieces can be listened to - or downloaded - as was originally intended @ The Free Music Archive, curated by WFMU. Chronicling the Virginia based experimental scene between 1970 and 1976, when this compilation was first issued on flexi plastic, the whole is "transcribed directly from one of the earliest two-sided EvaTone Sound Sheets (pressed on translucent red plastic)" on a limited imprint of 1,000 copies.
▼ TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT: ON THE CAN from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)
▼ RODNEY MAYNARD & THE HUNDRED DOLLAR BAND: SITTIN' ON A STOOL from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)
▼ LITTLE LACY & HIS TREMBLING LIPS: COCKTAILS FOR THIEU from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: ARTIFACTS VOL. 1 @ FMA