Here Goes Yet Another Year
I am all alone this New Year's Eve, a situation I have purposely placed myself into. I have no gig again this year. It's now been 6 years since I fronted a New Year's Eve band at a NYC club, a band I fronted for 7 years before one of the star bartender's galfriends, a violin player who had been around NYC for a long sagging bunch of years, a star follower...but I'm growling about a personal disappointment and I'm sure the violinist is no longer the NY's Eve band down there--but that was a wonderful time for me--I was a star then, and, boy, I gotta admit, I love the power of being a lead band singer and the miniscule stardom but still stardom that that brings--and, yes, the babes, ah the sweet women who love musicians, the best women in the world, that I guarantee, to put up with the emotions of a musicians, the depressions, the drinking, the associating, the drugs, the "always" disappointing hopes--it's a hell of an emotional trip for a musician's babe and god help 'em if they marry their musician--I don't give a shit if the musician is a successful musician--they're the worst husbands.
I have the draft of a novel I wrote on another laptop that's still up here above my head on a shelf gathering age, which is told by the layers of dust that have like tree rings collected on it. I fire it up occasionally just to keep it alive to me, but, anyway, in that novel I discussed what it was like being a musician and the problems a musician had with his woman--a horror story, a real horror story, too, a story that only a musician could tell, though most musicians aren't good writers. I must have written 500 songs about my particular horror story with women. [In that novel I talk about a young Viet Namese immigrant who lives directly across the hall from me and who still lives directly across the hall from me and who is into what I call "house" music, meaning it's a kind of mixing--which is stealing the riffs, beats, and actual recordings of real musicians to make a synthetic music that is called house music because it's the kind of shit you hear when you go in a Mafia-run or an Israeli-run dance club or "house" out in the distant boroughs of New York City. Young people dance straight up and down now and that's what this crappy music sounds like, just straight up and down boring, boring rhythms--their tempos never changing--boring, GOD-DAMN BORING. But anyway, he's just fired up--he's really a good neighbor, kept up by a really nice Viet Namese woman who's a strong, hard-working babe, the kind a real musician really needs and not this poor little amateur kid who truly thinks he's Amurican hip by playing his mixes--he told me one time he had over 2000 albums stored over in Brooklyn he made his mixes from--he tried to take advantage of me when he first moved in over there, hearing me practicing and shit he told me, "Hey, man, could you teach me to play a keyboard, I just bought this Yamaha...." Musicians are funny. We don't like to pass out tricks on to kids, especially kids who...oh hell, there I go again, growling due to my own frustrations with being a musician who used to work every New Year's Eve not having a gig this New Year's Eve.]
And that's why I'm purposely alone this New Year's Eve.
And what has been the worth of 2006 to me? I don't know. It was just another year to me. Let's see if I can recap what this past year was...
1) the 2006 baseball season was one of the best I've ever lived through, though as a New York City baseball fan I was terribly disappointed that the two best teams in baseball were eliminated by two rather second-rate teams who went on to perform in a truly boring and who-gave-a-shit World Series won by the Saint Louis Cardinals, the least worst of these two undeserving teams. That was bad; but the season itself was a winner, both for the asshole owners--they made billions, trust me--and the fans. The fans got their money's worth and the owners got much more than their money's worth.
Hey, here's another irony, it was the best year in the Yankees's long history in terms of attendance and earnings, and, yet, the greedy son of a bitch who owns the Yankees had the nerve as punishment for his all-star millionaire Yankees letting him down to announce he was raising Yankees ticket prices by up to 25%. Baseball ain't a kids's game anymore. What kid has $30 in his jeans to afford even a bleacher seat at Yankee Stadium? That means only people with good paying jobs are keeping baseball alive and well--it's no longer a poor people's sport and that's a shame. The only hope for poor people is that they still broadcast all Yankee games over the free radio--I mean, you have to subject yourself to what seem like eternal commercials, everything, even a ground ball to shortstop is sponsored by some sponsor--"Wow, here's hot ground ball to Jeter at short, brought to you by Toyota, the throw to first, brought to you by ConEdison, is, in time, brought to you by Budweiser, for the out, brought to you by the good people at Kay Jewelers." But, hell, it's free and you can be at every damn game, road or home. Of course, if you can afford a $100-a-month and can get ESPN, you can watch the games on television--but for Yankees games that means it's Bobby Mercer as the announcer. [Poor Bobby just underwent brain surgery down in Texas to remove a tumor from up there. Hey, Bobby is an old Okie hillbilly just like the Mick--in fact, Bobby was supposed to become the next Mick but he never could cut that mustard. As an announcer, he's kind'a boring, though the boy does know baseball in a hillbilly sort of way.]
2) In music. I discovered that Charles Edward Ives is the greatest classical composer ever produced in America, and to me, in the world; the most original composer ever. I raise a glass of Moet to Charles Ives--especially his Concord Sonata and his great 4th Symphony and all the stuff, man, all the Ives you can eat in one meal. Damn right, he's worth gorging on.
And then, I came back to pianist Jaki Byard, his playing and his leading and composing, and thanks to thedailygrowlerhousepianist I got my hands back on what I think is one of the greatest live recordings ever recorded, in jazz or whatever, improvised perfection, Jaki Byard's album from the 1960s, Live From Lennie's on the Turnpike, a dump of a club that used to sit outside of Brookline, Massachusetts, on the Mass Turnpike. It contains a Jaki tune called "Twelve"--it's written in 12/4 time, that's 3 triplets of eighth notes played 4 times in one measure, like a Delta blues, like Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscombe played, and it is massive, wide-open, free-as-a-bird, soul-stealing, giving wings to those same feelings that give us energy to rise from a nothingness into a 12-minute-long period of ecstasy, the highest pleasure man can enjoy, the pleasure of being entranced by a music as it arises and explodes--or ejaculates, though I'm reading it from a male point of view.
And as always, I've found Charles Mingus continuing to be fascinating, unbelievably fascinating right up to the time when his body told him he was through and he refused and kept on writing from his wheelchair--humming it out into a tape recorder. I got a DVD of Mingus at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1975 doing a rendition of "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" that just knocks your F-ing sox off, with Benny Bailey and Gerry Mulligan and Mingus taking over your totally aural intake and bringing it straight into your solar plexus where it turns to feelings, man, deep expressive feelings, feelings that soar you and cause you to memorialize Lester Young, man, that is if you know Lester Young like we jazz afficianados have to know Lester Young and we know it takes two to tango, two to rango.
Which brings me to another fun musical thing that happened to me in '06--re-getting-into Lester Young, the one master I tended to overlook coming alive when I did in the middle of the happening careers of Charles Parker, Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, the innovators--my teachers, the masters, but then, thanks to John Coltrane whose life I followed step-for-step till he died, I began listening tighter to Lester Young, especially a Columbia LP issued back in the earliest 1950s, called Lester Leaps In, and featuring the earliest Lester Young recordings mostly with Count Basie and the Kansas City gang from back in the late 1930s, Jo Jones, Freddie Green, Walter Page, and that band, that old Benny Moten band kicking Lester on and on note velvety perfect note after velvety perfect note, playing the tenor sax as though it were an extention of his body, which it was. Hail, Lester Young!
3) Politics in 2006. Politics broke my F-ing heart in 2006. Scary politics. Fascism blooming faster than crab grass on a southern front lawn right before our eyes and our leaders seem dumbstruck in their efforts to stop it in its tracks, its huge tracks, its overwhelming tracks, its big feet slamming down on us as it goosesteps over our necks with its bootheel-enforced philosophy of demand. Politics may be beneath me in 2007. I'll do it dog-style if it is--up the rump, if you don't mind my crassness. Bush. Hooey on that gone-astray monkey. He's a crushed wimp. Killing is getting boring to him. Killing Hussein should have been one of his thousand points of light, but it seems old George had rather be down in Crawford, Texas, on his faux ranch entertaining his advisors--"Here, boys, have a couple'a swigs of this Ezra Brooks here. My old pappy, that old sagging wimp, sent it to me congratulatin' me on stretching old Sad-dam's neck till it snapped. Gawd, there was a day when I'd like to have been there, like when I used to enjoy those executions I ordered down there in my adopted State of Texas. Yeee-haw those were good times. I don't know, boys, maybe I'm gettin' tired'a killing folks--though hell, I expected a lot more of our doughboys to have been killed by now--I used to think the more of my boys killed overthere the more peppy the populus would get behind me--you know, get behind in a good sense and not the sense they all seem to be expressing--they're gettin' behind me all right but I think they're fixin' to dog F me, boys--I don't think there's any luv in their motives. I may have to bail on you boys. I'm rich as hell; I don't have to take this; Prince Bandar Bush sez he has a room at his Pakistani Tiger Camp I could come live in with my old half-brother, Osama."
4) I started reading books voraciously this year. I love reading books like that. 14 at once presently--and looking to start reading another one as soon as possible. I've never read Finnegan's Wake. I think I'd like to give it a try. Here's a link that will lead you into that Joycean World, a fascinating man, Joyce; a man who wrote in many languages at once, Finnegan's Wake having that great long sentence--it has a name, but I've forgotten it--like there's one word mentioned over and over in it. Hell, go with me to this link:
You can even find out what "fweet" means.
Ulysses is the funniest book I've ever read; second is Lolita; and wouldn't you know Nabokov got to sit at Joyce's feet in Paris and idolized the guy; and James was an interesting sweet singing drunkard of a man, becoming eccentrically blind as a bat in his latter years, yet able to see amazingly through walls of words.
Happy New Year from
for The Daily Growler