Friday, October 30, 2009

The Way of Music

I wrote recently that I'd been dabbling in Kurt Weill. Well that led to a re-discovery of Carla Bley, one of the first major women jazz band leaders, who had a fascination with German marching music, as well as the music of the Weimar Republic. Tracking down Bley also led me to her collaborations with Nick Mason (of Pink Floyd) and Robert Wyatt. It also evoked many memories of old friends, concerts, and life in a seemingly more adventurous yet simpler time. Currently listening to Third by Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt drumming his way into the future.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buying Byron

Now that Lord Byron's letters are for auction at Sotheby's it gives us a chance to ruminate on the days when a poet had the same "larger than life" persona that a rock star does nowdays (i.e. Michael Jackson), given the communication constraints of the era of course. Aside from the always obnoxious and persistent commodity fetish we subscribe to the "things" of famous persons, the fact that this sale actually represents letters of a poet is grand enough. Undoubtedly thousands of people will pick up Byron, perhaps for the first time, and if some beauty enters the world because of it, then it's all good.
Our last American larger than life poet was arguably Allen Ginsberg, whose spiritual and to a large extent stylist mentor was our first grand, and much larger than life poet, Walt Whitman. If Walt were alive today he'd probably be a hip-hop artist or rock star. Poetry is quiet in America, despite the popularity of slams. But perhaps it is just estavating, waiting for the right person to come along. Someone large, bold, bad, brilliant, and very damn good.
My favorite Byron tidbit thus far, picked up from NPR, is his reference to Wordsworth as TURDSworth. Nothing like a smack-down to get poets into the limelight.

On other issues of proportion, check out the Book of Genesist illustrated by R. Crumb. It may succeed in giving back the bible (this book anyway) its elemental and perverse humanity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Going Rogue

Marvel to the days when one can have a bestseller before the book actually exists, which is what has happened with Going Rogue, Sarah's somewhat premature memoir. But I say Fair's fair. If people are allowed to pay for a book that doesn't yet exist, we the people should be allowed to pay so that it will never exist. I'd pay $10 for that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Not What You Say

The following post by Atrios ( garnered 99 comments.

"Morning Thread

I'm sure I'll have something to say once I've had some coffee."

I wouldn't get any comments if I said this because it would mean something entirely different. I drink Maxwell House.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Marianne Faithfull

I'm tracking down as much Kurt Weill as I can these day, and making forays into German Caberet music, all as a result of hearing Maianne Faithfull's 20th Century Blues (originally released in 1997). Marianne's husk-smoked voice serenaded by the incomparable Paul Trueblood on piano and arrangements, introduces her interpretations of many classic Weill songs. I was thrilled to hear them, remembering the Three Penny Opera LP my parents owned and played when I was a child, versions of Mac the Knife that wouldn't leave my head, and the cover of Alabama Song by the Doors that could be mundane or insanely edgy depending on Morrison's psychotropic cocktail that particular night. Anyway, thought I'd share this rather good youtube of Marianne singing "I Want to Buy Some Illusions" There are several of the Weill songs on youtube as well but the imbed feature has been disabled. This will give you a taste however. Now onto the Berliner Requiem.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New (to me) Chanteuse

Looking for that Perfect Gift Book?

Look no further. Awful Library Books has hundreds of ideas, from cat dissection to embalming fetal pigs in plastic to curing VD at home; books titled "Looking Forward to Being Attacked" (who can wait?) and "Nice Girls Do: Now You Can Too!" (I'll be looking at nice girls differently after this one.
Anyway, thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Moon at Dawn

This morning while walking the dog I was, as Charles Olson once wrote, "seized by the moon." As contemporary cosmology has proven, the light of the moon is not merely reflected sunlight, but a remarkably altered light, with it's own mysterious qualities.
It's wondrous eye above the dark fir caught me in its gaze. Still holds me hours later.