Friday, March 2, 2007
As every urban dweller knows, mass transit can be the most horrible of necessities. But, occasionally it produces events of ineffable beauty. Here is one of them.
In San Francisco I boarded an underground train going to the East Bay and found myself confronted with three African-American teenage males wearing identical hip-hop garb. They were in the middle of an extremely lurid rap of manly exploits, with anal sexuality topping the mention list.
The black octogenarian church lady I sat in front of was getting very agitated and was telling them to stop it or she was going to call the transit police. Well, you how that goes; she gets louder- they get louder. So before things got out of hand, the train stops and onboards a Downs Syndrome, morbidly obese Asian kid who is dressed JUST LIKE THEM except for one detail: he's got himself Flava Faved-out with a little plastic clock hung around his neck. Nice!
The black teenagers stop their rap and stare menacingly at the Asian kid. The kid responds with the biggest, sweetest smile, overjoyed at finding his compadres. The black kids start muttering to themselves about how they're going to kick his ass when all of a sudden the Asian kid lets out a wail of ecstasy that's something akin to a sea lion mating call, and charges the black kids with arms outstretched. The black kids freak out as the kid attempts to hugs them while making strange sucking sounds. Finally, the black kids manage to push him away and quickly open the doors to the next car. The last one through turns around and before the doors can close emits the most plaintive 'Damn!' I have ever heard in my life. And before you think this is over, the church lady says under her breath, 'Four musketeers!' Perfection.
Love me do.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Remember when Jimi Hendrix appeared in the public eye and despite whatever it used to remove him, its' vision was forever changed. Jimi was like an alien art prince who visited us for a few years and then, inexplicably, left. Jimi stole rock from the white boys, created an unattainable aesthetic ceiling, and then died, thus killing rock-and-roll and sending it to the endless desert of revisionism.
What happened? When you think about it, all the artistic revolutions wereover by 1970; whether it be painting, literature, classical music, jazz,rock - it was finished. No marches, uniforms or banners. We achieved victory and subsequently, a Swiss-like peace. Sad. Sometimes I think comtemporary artists are the walking dead.
If you consider the legions of living guitarists as a huge organic computer,why hasn't it spit out a new genius in the last 35 years? And please don't insult me with the likes of an Allen Holdsworth, whose technique is as amazing as his music is boring.
Are we in a fallow period or have we peaked as a species and, as some social anthropologists have speculated, living our our last 100 years? We are DEVO!
Love me do!
Monday, January 1, 2007
On October 30, 1956 I was seven years old and living in a small southern Indiana town named Oolitic. Usually a very placid burg. Oolitic was under a dark cloud of what was assumed to be abductions of three preschool children. The chief suspect was a grizzly old bachelor that we lovingly called 'old man Webster'. All three kids had been last seen around his dilapidated old Victorian. He had been questioned repeatedly by the local gendarmes but to no avail. He had already been shunned for his irrascibility and now there was an expansive 'no fly zone' around his abode.
The town was thrown into spiritual stasis. When the sun went down the children were locked up tight; an unusual event in those days. I decided that if anybody deserved a Halloween prank it had to be "old man Webster'. After my parents went to bed I sneaked out of my bedroom window with one of my mother's large laundry bags. My plan was to dig up the old man's potatoes and then to fill in the hole as if nothing had ever happened. When he decided to get his potatoes there would be none. Missing. Just like the children.
I finally arrived at his house; scared out of my mind but determined to carry out my plan. I forgot my flashlight but slowly figured out where to dig and got to work. Eventually I unearthed the spuds, hastily threw them in the bag and replaced the dirt. I was quite pleased with my efforts and dragged my bounty home. Unfortunately, my father was waiting for me on the porch with his arms folded- a stance that promised serious discipline. I told him what I had done and waited for my punishment. That never happened because my father opened the bag and I saw under the porch light what my prank had uncovered. They were potatoes alright, but they were shaped like the heads of the missing children. My father made me swear on a bible to never, ever mention this to anybody and told me to go to bed.
As I looked at the almost full moon outside my bedroom window, I heard my father on the telephone talking to the town marshall and my Uncle Harold. He then left the house around midnight, returning around 3:00 am. I have no idea what happened in that early morning of Halloween but I am sure of three things:
1. Old man Webster was never seen again.
2. His house burned to the ground a week later.
3. Since that time, I have NEVER eaten potatoes.
Love me do,