Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the ponderosa and the ark of the weak heart

Twenty-two floors above, the green JCBs resemble not so much a rise of the machines as their last bronchial rattle. Scrabbling in the dirt for purchase. Listing drunkly like a man with motor neuron disease. Clinging to employment.

The blueprints for fuel efficient housing will be rolled out where they are needed least, I suspect.

They will not be built round here - not in my lifetime, at any rate - nor in those mountainous rural backwaters to the east, where every last penny of huminatarian aid is siphoned to stem a tide of mainiacs squatting behind RPGs.

Or to line the pockets of a few bent shopkeepers.

At present, those compact intended domiciles exist only as a byproduct of social etiquette. I am supposed to peer out my window and enthuse.

"Oh! What an excellent idea! How nice to see all those young men doing something constructive at last."

Instead, I am having none of it.

The solar panels look splendid. The clay brick and whitewashed wall. When the 4x4s eventually pour in behind the fence with offers, those same young men will hurry back to their street corners. Their leaky tenements and blistered detention zones. Brewing milky teas over toast while they huddle in pyjamas.

A scrum of newspapermen will descend on them with cameras - to take their picture as a local concilor rumbles into a microphone and hands out diplomas - and the instant will immediately be interred.

They will tear down the two little houses they have built. Harvest its parts for organ transplant.

They will lay polythene sheeting over the supparating foundations to prepare the space for a car park.

They will chisel and gouge and my contorted face will be at the window still. A little more lined, simian. A monkey. A nun. A sentinel fed by tubes.

A stain.

Gradually fading away to nothing like a sun bleached snapshot. A splash of urine drying in the crotch of a mildly befuddled hospital patient.

There will be no spontaneous protest which has not first been vetted three times over by the politically correct. The first out of the trenches will be mown down as they fumble for the switch on an antique bullhorn. The ones idling just behind will obediently fall back to their beds.

The nursey is what we know. Sand. Gravel. We fasten to its smoke and mirrors even as the generators fail.

The LP which came to be known among collectors as "E-E Saw Dub" - twelve original Jacob Miller riddims mixed and overdubbed by King Tubby at his Waterhouse studio - was a paper sleeve only limited release, mislabelled as Earl Zero's "City of the Weak Heart". Recorded at Randy's and Joe Gibbs, and produced by Ian and Roger Lewis of Inner Circle, these dubs are celebrated in no small part as the result of quite innovative techniques involving synth patterns overlaid by IC keyboardist, Bernard 'Touter' Harvey and enhanced by Tubby.

"Ghetto On Fyah Dub", too, specifically brings Augustus Pablo's contribution centre stage.

While the original vinyl release is much coveted and fetches exorbitant prices at market, the LP was subsequently reissued in digital format - with two bonus cuts - as "King Tubby Meets Jacob Miller in a Tenement Yard" through the independent UK label, Motion Records, active between 1996 and 2007.

Horsemouth Wallace & Santa Davis: drums and percussion;
Ian Lewis: bass guitar;
Chinna & Michael Chung & Roger Lewis: guitar;
Bernard "Touter" Harvey: keyboards and synthesizer;
Augustus Pablo: xylophone.


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