This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Viking of Sixth Street, Old Joy, The Latest McSweeney's, and Ginab

As you might know I'll be visiting ginab this week, so I will be even more negligent in my blogging than I already am. But before I transfer my focus entirely to this upcoming trip, I wanted to tell you about a couple of things. First, here's Moondog:



Moondog is Luis Hardin, a musical prodigy who went blind when he was in his teens. In the early 1940s, after having studied all kinds of musical instruments, Moondog moved to New York and worked as a street musician, partly to raise the money to have his music transcribed from braille. He was a conspicuous figure on New York's sixth street not only because of his unusual handmade instruments and gorgeous compositions, but also because he wore clothing he made himself, including a furry hat with horns. Someone at work brought in this CD, The German Years, and now I'm completely hooked.




Here's a sample from one of Moondog's compositions called "Bird's Lament," which he (Moondog, I mean) wrote for Charlie Parker. I couldn't find MP3s of any other tracks on The German Years, which is a pity, because each song is unique -- "Bird's Lament" demonstrates only a fraction of Moondog's range. Each piece conjures a particular mood, though Moondog has a singular vision. It's as if Moondog were writing songs meant to communicate his psychological history -- we hear a soul as expansive as the harmonies he creates (using very few instruments to do so, mind you); fascinating rhythms that don't simply mark time because they, too, are melodic and serve to provide shifts and moods; and songs that come across, sometimes, as powerfully totemic, I guess because they often borrow from European folk. Many of his songs are mournful, and they seem to be about nature and life and death. Some pieces are rhapsodic in that they can sound loose enough to have been partially improvised (though I don't believe they were), and rhapsodic also because they're most certainly driven by an enthusiasm for their subjects. Perhaps you hear lamentation, Charlie Parker, and New York all at once when you listen to the sample. I do.

For those of you who've accused me of being extremely romantic I leave the lyrics from my favorite song on this album:

HIGH ON A ROCKY LEDGE

High on a rocky ledge lives a Mädel, Edelweiß.
She has a shadow, lovely as lace, and cold as ice.
High on a rocky ledge, I pledged my love to her.
Ev´ry time I climb up to Paradise.
How many times I´ve been up to see her, goodness knows,
Huffing and puffing, dressed in the warmest climbing clothes.
How many dances would be taken in my
Hopeless pursuit of the Schnee-Mädel-Edelweiß.
Then spoke a spirit, "If you would win your Lady Love,
There´s only one way: fall to your death from high above.
You will begin to grow in snow beside the one
You have waited for to be mated with."
Now, I´m an Edel, vice to my Mädel, Edelweiß.
Dying to be with her wasn´t any sacrifice.
we´re so deliriously happy on your ledge
Where I pledge my love to my Lady Fair.
You who are climbing breathless to see me and my love.
Snow flowers growing fonder on Lover´s Ledge above.
If you´ve the yen to pluck, then pluck us both,
For we who have lived as one, wish to die as one.


Isn't that dreamy?!

Next, I'd like to let you know about this great movie I saw with Matt, Byron, and Alan. It's called Old Joy, and it stars my absolute favorite songwriter, Will Oldham, who I'll be seeing at The Great American next Monday night!



Will Oldham's the guy stringing the guitar. Matty has a lot to say on his own blog about this movie, so I'll just give you the short version. First, it's excellent. Second, I think it's about how the quality of same-sex friendships change over time.

In Old Joy, two guys who haven't seen each other for a while go camping together. But something has come between them. One friend is now married and has a child on the way, while the other has remained single and uprooted. The single friend tries to revive their bond, but clearly there's been a tradeoff which has severed their former bond, and now they're bonded only by mutual memories and wistfulness.

Man, did I ever sympathize with this rift! I try to live as though there's a way around it, and I think maybe there is -- but only if friends stay in close contact. That's not always possible. Those of us who get older but don't start families wind up drifting on the fringes, I guess. Those who marry up might become a bit insular as their priorities change. You, of course, might not feel the way these two men feel. But I find something very honest about this film.

Finally, run to your local bookstore, find the literary magazines, and pick up the new McSweeney's! Read the latest Arthur Bradford story, in which a group of friends driving to a country wedding are flagged down by a man standing by the side of the road. He's been bitten by a snake, or at least he thinks he has. . . It's GREAT!

Okay, then. I'm off to my old stomping grounds, where I hear it may be snowing. I might get to see ginab work her magic with her writing students, spend some time with some good people, and enjoy that funky small-urban-town atmosphere.

See you soon!

18 Comments:

Blogger Ahva Rahn said...

I had heard about this movie from Sundance, or maybe Cannes, Ing; I remember comments about the lack of dialog. It is funny, my closest friend, I have known for over 38 years (longer than some of my siblings); there are times when we meet when little dialog is enough for the subtleties of our relationship, and other times when we could talk the leg off a horse. Either ways --and we have followed such different paths, especially in the last ten years-- we seem to understand each other, like distant 'twins' are supposed to. I am sometimes surprised that we have known each other for so long --I had just turned four when we met-- however, what is strange is, in my mind he has not changed since that first day at school. I will stop in London to meet him on my way back from India and a call from the airport will be enough planning.

Anyway, I am off to check out your Moondog, while I hope you revel in that funky small-urban-town and the re-kindling of one-on-one friendships.

take care,
-Paul
(say Hi to Ginab!)

4:29 AM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Your leaving town when I am working on one of my most important projects to date? My Dad had a Moon Dog record from back in the day, my brother in-law and sister are caretakers of that gem, you wanna buy it? They may or may not miss it, but thats what danger and intrigue is all about, I love heists. Have a great trip and bring gifts, spare no expense.

12:09 PM

 
Blogger Bunyan, Paul Bunyan said...

Crying wont bring you home,nope. Chin up,carry on...PB

9:43 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

I miss you.

I hope you're both having a great time! I'm sure you are! Don't get into too much trouble!!!

Is it snowing?!?!?

Oh, and, Ing -- that Moondog CD you gave me totally rocks! I am so loving it!!! I want to know more about him!!!!

Everyone -- Moondog!!!!

Not quite as cool as Goldfrapp, but cool!

10:15 PM

 
Blogger sage said...

May you get to enjoy a bottle or two of Bells Porter while visiting SW MI

6:09 AM

 
Blogger ticharu said...

Did I accuse you of being romantic??? No, surely not! :)

Moondog sounds like my kinda fellow, I've heard of him but never heard him.

5:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Missed out on Bells, didn't we?! oops.

Only so many hours and now they are sands of time through blankety hardin nights and oldham afternoons.

1:14 PM

 
Blogger Me said...

ha! "Local bookstore"...
"Literary magazine"... "film"...
right.
Feeling a bit bitter today here on my cold, blustery, wet, gray Rock. Now, for amusement I could go to the one and only grocery store and ask them for any literary magazines they might have. I'm guessing I'd be handed a copy of True Confessions amd that might be fun.
Managed to order the Proposition on Amazon and that made me feel a bit better.
I'll have to see Old Joy when it's on DVD now that both you and Matty have given it such good reviews.

For now I'll content myself with whatever the gods that operate satellite TV deign to give me. Last week it was Russ Meyer. Let's see what's on tonight....

7:10 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

One can't beat a Russ Meyer flick! Tho, I guess OLD JOY is a higher level of art. Or is it?

Ing? Discuss, please.

6:28 AM

 
Blogger ing said...

ahvarahn:

What a neat summary of your friendship! It differs from the friendship in Old Joy mainly because in the movie, the idea of the friend one character has in mind is now too separate from the reality. Or maybe the memory of one friend, as he used to be, is now too incongruous with the person the other has become. It's very sad, though, and I don't think the friend who's created this distance is ultimately happy. Maybe because he's traded in something that he really shouldn't have. He's become a cold person.

___________

JWW:

Since I know that the greatest gift of all is $$, I attempted to rob a couple of banks along the way. Alas, I wasn't successful. Instead, I'll give you the second greatest gift -- my warmest regards. I'll start saving for that Moondog album, but I doubt I'll ever have enough for a relic so valuable. Would the heist-thing bring you as much joy if you were to simply steal the record and send it to me? If so, could you please send it right away? I'll check my mailbox tomorrow.

_____________

Buns:

???

_____________

Matty:

I missed you, too, and now I'm back to cause more trouble than you've ever been in, so watch out! We didn't get any snow, though I predicted it several times. I have no magical powers there. But I gave ginab some Goldfrapp AND some Moondog. If that doesn't work, there's no such thing as magic.

______________

sage:

I didn't have any porter, but I downed quite a few bottles of amber. I'm still rehydrating. I LOVE Bell's. It's much better than Sierra Nevada.

_______________

ticharu:

Yes, I think Moondog is your type. You might be distant relatives. Did you know that Moondog was a pagan? I'm pretty sure about that (but not certain beyond a shadow).

You accused, and I guess I have to admit to the accusation.

______________

ginab:

Only so many hours, and too bad! But short is sweet. And I believe I threw back a number of Bells, if I'm not mistaken. I hope Oldham is treating you well. I'll see him tonight, and Tina might accompany me. Woo hoo!

_______________

Me:

Make it fun! Invite someone over to watch vids! And if you shoot me an email, maybe I can send you something you can't get at the grocery store. . .

_______________

Matty:

Oh, I don't think I've ever actually watched a Russ Meyer. I hear that the boobs are big. Bigger, anyway, than Will Oldham's. Maybe small boobs = high art?

I guess I like art forms that get across ideas so subtle I've never seen them addressed in the particular way they're being addressed, yet I feel like I don't have a lot of trouble grasping them. The ideas need to seem relevant, too. Does that sound like something Russ Meyers would do?

5:20 PM

 
Blogger lryicsgrl said...

came for a posting of pics...but, howdy!

i'm glad you had fun, and enjoyed the company of your "old" and dear friends.....although, it seemed you caught up on a lot of zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...ha ha!

-sue

6:38 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

I tried to find the old vinyl but nothing, I'll break in again soon, I think they work during the week. I will lower myself down their chimney, no...they dont have a fireplace...WINDOW! I'll break a window and ransack the place all for Moon Dog and ing!
I would like to give it another listen its been years, hmmm. Yes being blood I am part owner, me, my siblings, me mum and da...I guess you since I promised it to you, but now I guess only a small percentage...I go bed now, my head aches with all this plotting going on,not plotting in a bad way only in the "to benefit me" way...Now I go bed. Kind Regards JWW

8:22 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Peg Leg Sammy will be in contact with you and Matt soon, you will recognize ole Peg , he has a hook. A word to the wise don't ask him how he lost his arm,he loves telling that story it can last hours, save yourself.

6:16 AM

 
Blogger matty said...

Hey, Ing! How was Bonnie Prince Billy?!?!?! Report, please! Did Peg Leg Sam show up? I hope you were able to handle that one! Commander Josh has warned us!

6:27 AM

 
Blogger ing said...

lyricsgrl:

The pics will have to wait until this afternoon. I packed up and went to a cafe to work on this posting, but I didn't bring the right cord to transfer the photos to my computer!

Stay tuned. . .

_____________

JWW:

Here's what I need to know: if they have no chimney, how does Santa Claus get in and out?

And yes, now that I am the rightful owner of this Moondog record, I guess I can say that you may listen to it once before you send it off. Just please, Josh, be careful with the needle.

Thanks!

_________________

Peg Leg Sammy! Tell him to pick up the speed as he hobbles along! I want to meet this Mr. Sammy and his leg made of peg-material.

___________________

Matty:

Bonnie Prince Billy was awesome! Actually, last night he was "representing Bonnie Billy." "Bonnie Billy" is one of his personas, and it's I guess distinct from Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Anyway, you need to watch this -- don't put it off! : click me. This is a video of the overhead projector artist who performed in one of the opening acts called Dark Hand and Lamplight. I thought you'd like this vid because it features your fave Dolly Parton song. Anyway, the show was a complete blast!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm still waiting on this Peg Leg Sammy. Waiting and listening for his stumpy footfalls.

12:43 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

How does Santa get in and out? Now thats a real brain teaser. I think this being the 21st century Santa has learned to use the back door.
Just as soon as I break in and recover what is yours, it will be hmm... yours. JW
PS: Your correct I do not cower, by God I do hunker down!

4:29 PM

 
Blogger Bunyan, Paul Bunyan said...

Dont trust peg leg Sammy for one minute, count you fingers after your meeting. As Josh has warned for the love of Pete do not ask him how he came by his hook.

4:32 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

Ing! That is a magical slide show to a really magical song about a little girl dying with her dog! Magical! I so wish I could have been there!

6:12 PM

 

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