Neal Cassady Drops Dead

Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s tears shampoo his beard
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s lips tighten and thin
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s hosed down in a barn
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s howl becomes a growl

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringlets full of ringworm
Angel of distemper
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Minor’s melanoma
Tykes full of gripe. 
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me!

Victim, or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?
Victim or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you? 

Lyrics by Morrissey

Last night I heard a brilliant podcast about Allen Ginsberg.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I will try to find it and link to it somehow.  In the meantime I have been thinking of these lyrics by Morrissey.  Everything dies.  The only thing you can choose is to live life to the fullest or not in the meantime.

The Master and Margarita Overview

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The Master and Margarita Overview

In one of my earlier blogs today I briefly mentioned Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.  It is one of my favorite books.  I thought about writing a review of it, but truth be told it is a complicated book and I read it several years ago.  I searched the internet and found a pretty comprehensive overview of it.  What is really great about the above overview is that at the bottom it provides links to even more information about the book.  There are some spoilers in this overview, but a book this original, where so much of the magic comes from the world that the author creates, I don’t believe spoilers apply in the way they do to most books.

The book is a complex and fascinating read.  It is partially set in Moscow in the 30’s when many people were “disappearing”.  It is part fantasy, part political satire, full of dark humor, and at times creates scenes of chilling horror.  Any book that features Satan and a talking cat as two of the main characters is not going to be your typical novel.  If you love the power of language, poetry, and how words can impart strong images on the imagination, than this is a book that you will love.  And although the two authors are very different, I think anyone that likes the dark humor and haunted language of someone like Flannery O’Connor will also love this book.  There is really no way that I can do this book justice.  It is one of those reads that simply must be experienced in full.  A truly unique and captivating read, and an absolute masterpiece of literature.

the crunch

Too much
too little
or not enough

too fat
too thin
or nobody

laughter or
tears
or immaculate
non-concern

haters
lovers

armies running through streets of blood
waving winebottles
bayoneting and fucking virgins

or an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe

many old guys in cheap rooms without
any photographs at all

many old women rubbing rosaries
when they’d prefer to be rubbing cocks

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movements of
the hands of a clock

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it blinking in neon signs
in Vegas, in Baltimore, in Munich

there are people so tired
so strafed
so mutilated by love or no
love
that buying a bargain can of tuna
in a supermarket
is their greatest moment
their greatest victory

we don’t need new governments
new revolutions
we don’t need new men
new women
we don’t need new ways
wife-swaps
waterbeds
good Columbian
coke
water pipes
dildoes
rubbers with corkscrew stems
watches that give you the date

people are not good to each other
one on one.
Marx be damned
the sin is not the totality of certain systems.
Christianity be damned
the sin is not the killing of a God.

people are just not good to each other.

we are afraid
we think that hatred means strength
we think that New York City is the greatest
city in America.

what we need is less brilliance
what we need is less instruction

what we need are less poets
what we need are less Bukowskies
what we need are less Billy Grahams

what we need is more
beer
a typist
more finches
more green-eyed whores who don’t eat your heart
like a vitamin pill

we don’t think about the terror of one person
aching in one place

alone
untouched
unspoken to
watering a plant
being without a telephone that will never
ring
because there isn’t one.

more haters than lovers

slices of doom like taffeta

people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other

and the beads swing and the clouds cloud
and the dogs piss upon the roses
and the killer beheads the child like taking a bite
out of an ice cream cone
and the ocean comes in and out
in and out
under the direction of a senseless moon

and people are not good to each other.

By Charles Bukowski.  I used to read a lot of Bukowski the last few years I lived in Pennsylvania.  I wanted to post something of his here, so I started reading some of his poems tonight.  Even though I read many, I kept coming back to this one, which was actually the first one that I read.  The language is so visceral.  It’s beautiful and vulgar at the same time.  If you have ever watched the show Deadwood I believe you will understand that even vulgarity, taken far enough, used in the right way, with the right combination of words and meter, can become something truly beautiful.  At least I do…

Both Sides Now Lyrics

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now 
From win and lose and still somehow 
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now 
From up and down, and still somehow 
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Both Sides Now written by Joni Mitchell.  This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  It is just a brilliant piece of writing.  I’ve posted a link to the video before, but never the lyrics.  Although I love Joni, she is one of my heroes, I actually prefer the Judy Collins version.  I also love the slowed down version that Joni recorded later in life.  Her voice, having been lowered by years of smoking, gives the song a different context.

Here is the link to the Judy Collins version if you didn’t see my original post:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Xm30heHms

Here is a link to Joni Mitchell’s version that she recorded in 2000:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCnf46boC3I

Insane Language

Over three years, fires raged, violent crime spiked and the murder rate soared so high that on a per-capita basis, it “put us somewhere between Honduras and Somalia,” says Police Chief J. Scott Thomson.  

“They let us run amok,” says a tat-covered ex-con and addict named Gigi.  “It was like fires, and rain, and babies crying, and dogs barking.  It was like Armageddon.”

I read those sentences in an old Rolling Stone today.  They were in an article by Matt Taibbi about Camden, New Jersey.  I understand what is going on there to be a human tragedy.  However, those sentences were so batshit insane they made me laugh.  I have a thing for over the top language.  Whether it is Hunter Thompson or the writing on Deadwood I just enjoy that type of language.  Maybe it is the kind of thing where if I didn’t laugh I’d cry.  Who knows such things…

Roads Still Yet to be Traveled

I’ve really become interested in electronic music lately.  Some bands that I’ve been listening to lately have been Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, OMD, and Book of Love.  I also love the Knife, though their music fits less moods than the others, as they are more abrasive and confrontational.  I also love the music on Johnny Jewel’s label, especially the band The Chromatics.  I’ve always loved synth pop.  I grew up on bands like New Order.

I’m interested in the idea of people getting emotion out of technology.  Also some of the best pop songs are in this genre.  Bernard Sumner from New Order can write endless melodies that never leave your head.

Although I grew up with bands like New Order, Electronic, and Depeche Mode, some of my current interest has been driven by the films of Nicolas Winding Refn.  He uses this music to great effect in films like Drive, Bronson, and Only God Forgives.  He understands that although this music is very synthetic on one hand, it is also capable of great emotion.

If country and folk music, which I also love, evoke pastoral settings, electronic music reminds me of the city at nighttime.  That’s not to say that electronic music can’t also be pastoral.  Brian Eno’s 70’s album Another Green World is an album that brings nature to mind more often than not.  Kraftwerk’s Autobahn album also has moments like this.  Although I love songs that have a message and am a fan of great lyrics, sometimes music is wonderful when it just creates space for dreams.

Haruki Murakami’s book After Dark creates a surreal dream like version of the city at night.  When I read things like this I often picture certain pieces by Kraftwerk and the Chromatics as being the perfect soundtrack to these worlds.

I grew up as a fan of the pop song.  More recently I’ve begun to be as interested in music that is non verbal.  Music that is non verbal has to create emotion and thought through pure sound.  This can be music that is instrumental or music that has the vocals obscured through production techniques.  Non verbal to me can even be bands that sing in foreign languages, where I can’t understand what they are saying, and the voice becomes just another emotional texture.  Often in electronic music, especially as you see with bands like Daft Punk and Kraftwerk, only a few simple phrases will be repeated throughout a song.  Even though you understand what they are saying it is open to interpretation when combined with the music.  The words become almost just another sound that feeds into the music and vice versa.

Although I write in the pop song format, and it’s still my favorite format, there is something to be said about music that is non verbal.  The human imagination is a powerful thing.  In the place of words we will often find that our dreams take over and place meaning into things that may or may not be intended by the artist.

I’ve mentioned before how David Lynch liked using grainy digital video for the movie Inland Empire, because he wanted the human imagination to fill in the space that the imperfect images left.  I think a lot of electronic music, the kind that is non verbal or almost non verbal, does this same thing.  It allows for interpretation and dreaming on the part of the listener.

Well there are many forms of instrumental music, many of which I love, the sounds created by electronic instruments create a different headspace.  Again it is often, but not always, more urban and futuristic.  Some bands like OMD, who write pop songs and instrumental pieces, create a retro futurism.  It’s like the sonic version of a film noir that takes place in the past and the future at the same time.  One of my favorite albums right now is their album Dazzle Ships.  It is an album full of mystery, ideas, and dreams.

Too often I think people let cultural or tribal things get in the way of exploring new worlds.  People are more open now to new musical experiences than ever before.  Sometimes though, there still exists a certain tribal instinct that gets in the way of people enjoying different forms, based solely on what they might find “cool” or acceptable in their group.   The human imagination can go anywhere and should be given as much room to roam as possible.  Don’t listen to anything but your own gut.  There are many roads still yet to be traveled.