Life Lived Under Headphones
In a way it's wonderful--you are alone in your head with beautiful music in stereophonic glory--or you can listen to every breath William Faulkner makes as he reads from A Light in August [my favorite Faulkner was his "potboiler," as he called it, Sanctuary; and the novel of his that first charmed me was Mosquitos. Plus, Bill was the king of neologists, a man of his own language]; yes, that's a wonderland for me, but then how long can a human being endure under headphones? [They hurt my ears after awhile, though I'm sure for a few thousand dollars could find a pair contoured to my skull, maybe even sewn to my temples; mine are recording studio headphones--they cost a few hundred, but they're made where you are still in contact with the world outside because these have vents on the sides that let's outside high-pitched sounds in, like a phone ringing.] Headphones, in spite of their digging into your temples all day, are still a wonderful place of privacy, especially when listening to something as brilliant and full of chess moves as the Charles Ives Symphony #3, which I'm listening to as I type this-- though it's conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, who I appreciate for his bold approach to new music, but think his conducting is choppy sometimes. He doesn't seem to have the patience Ives's music demands in terms of flow and ebbing of tempos and rhythms, its chordal manisfestations and interplaying of old white spirtuals and campground shennanigans woven with a smooth, cool needle. In other words, my ear tells me he's rushing it--which may be due to the recording space he has on a CD. Recordings are governed by recording engineers; actually in editing they can speed the tempos up and down as they please even at the bitching of the performer. Ives himself makes these same complaints about the time he was recorded, both in New York City and in London, England, in CBS's Abbey Road studios, too. As hot tempered as Ives was, he was cool, especially in his compositions. That's just my opinion. [Though I must confess, Charlie Ives played a real choppy piano--and he sung his songs choppy, too, though come on, he was an old man by then, an old man who had suffered a heart attack rather early in life, so it wasn't easy breathing right when singing his songs by that time, thus some of the choppiness in his singing--he had a very gruff laughingly sarcastic voice--hell, he was a sarcastic man, in that quaint white New England manner. I don't know if black folks born and raised in New England have that attitude or not; it comes from the transcendentalists of whom Ives was religious about, especially Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne (who by the way is an amazing writer; his novel the Marble Faun is full of psychology of the Freudian bent and full of early American symbolism in terms of the actions of the characters. Most artists in those old days were very impressed with Italy, especially Tuscany. I've never been to Tuscany, but those of my friends who have been there tell me it's a wonderful true earthy place of good wine, good food, and charming countryside. Even D.H. Lawrence loved Tuscany. Their message was: There is only one God, and that's the God that is within each one of us, that God that is our "I am." That was Ives's attitude about his music; you don't understand my music, you can't comprehend it and perform it because it is the music of the God and the spirituality that is ME the hearer of the celestial musics coming to me from the universe that is within me. You bet, that's great thinking; it's true thinking; it's American thinking, white yes, but it applies to every damn human ever born, even to the slaves that built the foundations of this country from Boston on down to New Orleans, the farms, the roads, the dams, the leevees, all the shit work, done by slaves--some who were freedmen, though even as freedmen they were forced to work like slaves--if you couldn't hire 'em to do the shitwork, you could arrest them and through the prisons put them into forced labor on the sugar plantations or in building the road system in this country. There were indentured servant whites, too. It was always rumored that my family came from England and Scotland to this country on the Mayflower--only problem was, they were in coming as indenture servants due to debts so they were put in mid-deck and made to row the damn boat overhere; why members of my family became good drummers and why I have a natural-born sense of heartbeat time in a drumming way. Bass players find it hell playing with me when I'm playing the piano; it's because I learned the piano as a percussion instrument as a young boogie aficianado where you have to be your own rhythm section and my mother was a slamming stride pianist who played the piano hard, like Ives, and like Jelly Roll Morton, so I'm overheavy in my left hand, which I want to integrate with my right hand though it insists on keeping so many different times, like I say, bass players go nuts trying to accompany me. My singing is on a different beat than most accompaniests can stand, too, and it takes me forever to drop down on the right notes, you know, those that follow the measures correctly with the right tempos and note hitting--I eventually can do it. Hell, I can sing like Old Blue Eyes if I want to, though I hate crooning. I was told one time by a guitar player, a mighty fine one, too, who idolized Chuck Berry's guitar playing--a unique style that this guy had extended into his own style, which gave him a double sound, Chuck's and his blended, and he told me, "Hey, man, you're a natural crooner...you should croon the blues...that's different, man; it might sell." I argued, hell, weren't B.B. and Bobby Bland crooners enough? Or Johnny Acea? Or even Frankie Lyman and Barry White, weren't they crooners enough? Naw, I wanna sing like I hear it in my head, no matter the dissonant slips and missed notes.
I'm looking at an Ives score and I'm thinking, damn, he didn't mean for you to maybe hit it note for note as long as you covered the notes correctly--does that make sense or is it no-sense nonsense? I love a world I call the world of NADA. I got it from Ernest Hemingway's reading of the "Lord's Prayer" (the Christian mantra that protects them from darkness and evil, the boogiemen of their nightmares--Jesus, you see, being the LIGHT. Like the Pharos in Alexandria, which is now preserved atop the Empire State Building--and it used to have a revolving light up there, too, way back until the FAA made 'em cut it off. That Pharos was supposed to the a dirigible docking port, but, hell, it didn't work, they never figured out how to get the passengers out of the gondolas and into the terminal, unless they learned to walk on several yards of air). Hemingway's "Lord's Prayer" went; "Our Nada who art in heaven, hallowed would be thy name/yeah, though I walk through the shadows of the valley of death, I shall fear no Nada...." Jesus, I write like I'm an Ives symphony.
This all started out being a tribute to NOISE. My apartment is situated in the back of a 12-story building in the very heart and soul of Manhattan Island. Behind most buildings from old New York City, and my building was built in 1875, is an airspace, in the case of this building it's like an alleyway, several feet between the back of my building and the backs of the buildings across from me, of which I mostly above except for one building that is exactly the same height as my building. But in that airspace....
Note: The continuation of this post, another 10 pages of sterling thegrowlingwolf narration, one of his best posts, was lost when trying to save it. It disappeared into the ether of cyberspace. We apologize for this. It was a very long and involved post about Noise and an irritating noise that had suddenly developed in the airspace behind thegrowlingwolf's apartment. He'd signed off on it when we accidentally deleted it into cyberspace while trying to save it as a draft. We regret this; it's the first time it's ever happened.
WE CONTINUE with regrets:
From the Wolfman
Nothing pains a writer more than someone losing a huge chunk of what he calls "brilliant writing," which is what I call the post I wrote early this morning for today's posting. Hemingway's first wife once lost a briefcase full of works in progress including a novel--you think someone has that briefcase in their Paris attic and don't know what it is?
I write spontaneously--like a jazz solo; I'm purely improvisational, conversational, and continuously in the present, the here and now. Once it's done it's done with me and then Ethel the Editor goes over it with her fine-toothed comb and then she posts it. Blame it on a woman, I'm chided, but, no, I don't blame it on her; in this instance I blame Firefox, and don't get me wrong, I love Firefox--especially when using my Toshiba laptop--it does work in blocking out the crap, but occasionally it F's up and that's what happened with this post. Firefox blew the connection to Blogspot and in the process wiped out the save--sent it off to god knows where in cyberspace. Oh well, nothing bothers me when it comes to accidents--I gulp down my anger and begin thinking on the next project, whether it's writing music down in my studio or writing on this blog up here in my loftbed.
Trust me, it was a great blog--I delved into to everything, you know how I'm good at taking sideroads to get to my central location--you know, like diving off into several pages on an aside, from how noise affects the psyche to how a man should sexually treat a woman--you know, explaining the difference between lust and love--a penetrating study if I say so myself.
But those things happen. We couldn't have progress without accident; I think Darwin said that didn't he; accident being the cause of evolution. No preordination in this man's mind, sorry.
I don't believe in psychics either; what a bunch of F-ing phonies, like the Caribbean babe that made millions before foolish folks were told she was a stone phony; or remember the white babe who made down-and-out former star Dionne Warwick a couple of million bucks before she was slammed down on charges of fraud. Dionne Warwick came out of it smelling like a rose.
An accident today; a completeness tomorrow...PERHAPS!
In the meantime, I discovered the source of my irritating new noise--it was a sawing going on continuously for 12 hours a day. It was the Vietnamese dude in the apartment under me, he's also the building super, tearing out and rebuilding a whole big huge bay window in his apartment--just like the huge bay window in my apartment--I mean ripping the whole massive piece--it's mahogany wood, too--out and putting in a totally brand new window, a job that has now taken the dude two weeks. That's what the sawing was and the hammering. The hammer is the most used tool in America; maybe even the world. In this day of power tools, including power hammers, the old human-wielded claw hammer is still the ruling noisemaking king, especially here in Midtown Manhattan--you can hear hammering going on somewhere every day in my neighborhood.
So sayeth thegrowlingwolf
for The Daily Growler
How embarrassing was Georgie Porgie's, our "president," press conference yesterday, especially his explanation of why we had to stay in Iraq--and then his explanation on why we were there in the first place. Some maccaca reporter had the nerve to ask baldface-lyin' Georgie why we had to stay in Iraq now that it's been proven Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction, so why were we there and why couldn't we pull out immediately. Bush hem-hawed around thinking up another dumb answer--and, by God, he found one--we have to stay in Iraq just because we have to stay in Iraq..."We are at war," Georgie sputtered out--NO WE'RE NOT, GEORGIE, YOU LITTLE FOOL--NO WAR WAS EVER DECLARED ON IRAQ--CONGRESS APPROVED THE MONEY FOR THE WAR BUT THEY DIDN'T DECLARE WAR ON IRAQ! NOR AFGHANISTAN EITHER--AND WE ARE ONCE AGAIN FIGHTING A HUGE ON-RUSH OF TALIBAN FORCES COMING AT US OUT OF OUR ASSHOLE BUDDY OF A NATION, PAKISTAN, THE CURRENT HOME OF OSAMA, WHO BUSH TOLD US WAS THE REAL INSTIGATOR BEHIND 9/11--EVEN THOUGH OSAMA DENIED IT AT FIRST.
Bush sputtered on and then he brought up the 3000 Amuricans who died in 9/11. HEY, GEORGIE, YOU LITTLE DUMBASS PRICK, A LOT OF THOSE 3000 WERE NOT AMERICANS; A LOT OF THEM WERE IRISH or BRITISH; AND A LOT OF THEM WERE SAUDIS OR ARABS. THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ALSO HOUSED ONE OF THE LARGEST CIA DATABASES IN THE SPY WORLD. IT ALSO HOUSED A LOT OF FBI OFFICES. IT ALSO HELD A HUGE BIG VOLUME OF GOLD--rumored to belong to the CIA. Hey, it's a fishy event, that's all we can say. IS THE KILLING OF GOING-ON THREE THOUSAND OF OUR TROOPS OVERTHERE REVENGE ENOUGH?--WHICH MEANS THAT 9/11 HAS NOW ACTUALLY KILLED 6000 AMERICANS WHEN YOU ADD IN THE DEAD SOLDIERS TO THE PEOPLE BLOWN TO SMITHEREENS IN THE WTC. THEN YOU MUST SAY 30,000 IRAQIS HAVE BEEN HACKED TO BITS OR BLOWN ASS-UNDER IN REVENGE FOR 9/11! I'M CONFUSED--AT FIRST BUSH SAID HE WAS PAYING BACK SADDAM FOR TRYING TO KILL HIS OLD PAPPY. NOW IT SEEMS BUSH IS SAYING HE'S WARRING AGAINST THE IRAQI PEOPLE BECAUSE SADDAM USED GAS (GAS GIVEN HIM BY THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION, OF WHICH GOOD OLE RUMMY WAS THE CHIEF GO-BETWEEN) ON THE KURDS. HELL, EVERYBODY HATES THE KURDS, GP. ARE YOU GOING TO INVADE TURKEY? THEY ARE AMASSING TROOPS ON THE IRAQ BORDER TO JOIN WITH IRAN TO MAYBE HAVE AT BUTCHERING SOME KURDS--THEY'RE GETTING OUT OF HAND SINCE BUSH LET THEM CAPTURE KIRKUK AND MOSUL WHEN WE FIRST "INVADED" IRAQ--HEY, LET'S KILL SOME KURDS TODAY--I THINK THAT'S A COMMON RALLYING CRY IN THAT AREA.
for The Daily Growler