Mingus Left Off the Question Mark
I spent most of the first 35 years of my life with music being pumped in through my ears directly into my brain. I've written before about the importance of earphones in my life beginning with my first pair, a pair of US Army Air Corps Bakelite earphones worn by pilots in World War II on through all kinds up until I got my first pair of stereophonic (a much more beautiful word than "stereo," don't you think?) earphones.
Stereophonic earphones ruined my marriage of ten years--and to a darling woman to boot, I have to add out of dearest respect for her memory (and oh how I once lusted for her; and yes she was just sixteen when I first lusted after her and, yes, she was one of my long line of Galateas on whom I had effect but from whom I received no credits whatsoever (he said in Shakespearean bitterness))--and before I got my best pair of earphones ever my wife and I would listen to music together, you know, around the stereo (there I go, there I go, there I go), and talk about it and she listened to Monk with me and Mingus, too, openly, you know, and then she was with me as I played barroom piano with my raggedy trio around town and even on the road once until she became the racing secretary for the whole state we lived in--horse racing, that is, and after that I gave up music and became a horse player--and a dog player, my most famous moment in dog racing happening one night when I won all nine races at the Juarez, Mexico, dog track simply because of what an old greyhound breeder I met at the Hilton Hotel in El Paso told me; he said to watch the dogs and watch their ears and then watch to see if one of 'em took a piss and to bet on that dog--that I did, and I won every damn race--the last race I even remember the name of the dog I won big with, LBJ, yep, LBJ the greyhound; and that night I entertained my entourage (and when your wife is racing secretary of a state racing commission you are soon deep in the heart of racing folks from jockeys, breeders, owners, all the way down to touts) at Cafe Central in Juarez with a quail and steak dinner opening with raw oysters, then the quail, then the huge steaks--oh what a life. (And speaking of greyhounds and how cruel racing greyhounds are treated (why you bet the dog that is pissing is because he's probably or she's probably pissing because she's been doped; and besides, man loves torturing dogs (anything so dependent upon man and obedient to him is going meet men who love to torture such beasts, whether human or dog or both), and I refer to multimillionaire pro quarterback Michael Vick and his vaunting of winning dogs and torturing and killing of losing dogs (greyhounds who can no longer run are probably burned alive or gassed or something, too, who the hell knows--all dog breeders are probably cruel to runts or misfits)--just the way it is in Michael Vick's culture, the culture of the multimillion dollar sports stars and heroes, men who are just children when they suddenly find themselves billion dollar industries and earning millions upon millions of dollars a year as head of that industry (the playing of a kid's game), their lives totally controlled by coaches and managers and that gang of buddies that always follow these people wherever they go (like my wife's horse crowd)--wow, what an F-ing life, right? So what if Michael Vick is hung up on dog fighting?--it's controversial, and Michael Vick's fame depends on the controversial as well as the glory he gets from being able to engineer a football game from just down under the center's big ass (meaning he's supposed to be a perfect American and role model for all our dopey dumbass ego-centered kids who have music being blasted into their brains through their iPods now, while they're watching videos and text messaging on their cell phones)--F these celebrity pros; the pro team owners don't give a hoot in hell what Michael Vick does as long as he's a high-paid quarterback, though the same happens to them when they're old or injured to the point of no longer having "field" value that happens with the limp and lame greyhounds and the battle-beaten pitbulls. Besides which one of us hasn't been cruel to an animal at some time in our lives? Who hasn't kicked a dog in the balls or thrown a rock at one, or hated one, or called the cops on one--come on, we all are cruel to dogs--look at New York City up-and-comers--they all have these damn dogs--first of all, a dog belongs in a damn dog house and not a human house--but here in New York City, you have beautiful babes, I know, I used to date this model, and they have these little incestuously bred purebred-hybrid dogs, like Yorkies or those miniature Chinese dogs that have faces that would turn a gargoyle to stone, and the beautiful (or ugly, too) women allow these filthy little ass-and-balls-licking demons to roam and romp at will around their apartments, dog hairs be damn, and animal dander be damned--all of it excused with "oh isn't he or she so cute"--"Hey, baby, your dog's pissing on the floor in here." "Is it over by the front door?" "Yeah." "Oh, that's OK, that's where he goes when I can't take him out for his walk." "When's the last time you took him out for a damn walk. From the looks of the floor over here where he just pissed he ain't been out in several days." "It could be a week; I've been so busy."
We have a tendency in this culture (and I'm not off the track, trust me) to make beautiful things ugly or maybe that's mankind's "mission," to destroy beauty--look at our ultimate beautiful women--how they are transformed from pimple-face, plain-Jane teeny bimbos into goddesses with beauty and shape that drives boys and men masturbationally mad from pure instinctual lust--"God-damn that's my woman! Ohhhh, god-damn, why not me, why that Hollywood morphadite?" And you know, I've read where every Playboy "playmate" has had boob jobs, mole removals, scar removals, and even then is airbrushed to almost albino perfection--not many black playmates really--(I don't think the Hef likes black women--probably because he has a small pecker). I can hear Hef now: "I ain't playin', baby, out of that bra and let me see those new breasts I bought you." "Oh, Mr. Hefner, here, look at 'em and you can even come feel 'em--so now are you gonna let me be a centerfold?" "Oh, not yet, baby, there's some other 'talents' I have to grade before I can authorize you as an official centerfold gal [puff-puff--Hef now smokes a bubble pipe like Bart Simpson smoked when he became so cool when he worked for the Mafia as a bartender]." [As an aside: The Simpsons have now been on Fox teevee for 18 years. There would be no Fox network without the Simpsons (Fox still loses millions a year (and this in spite of American Idol, too)--and so does Rupert's New York Post (practically a leftwing newspaper when I first came to New York--Murray Kempton edited it)--yet, "going in the hole" is chicken feed to these big-buck folks--they write-off their loses--it's all done on paper, you see--there's really no "money" involved in most wealthy peoples's wealth--it's all paper wealth--my wife, the one who became racing secretary for a whole state's racing commission, worked her way to the top through her ability to put rich men's affairs in order--she was only 22 when she became the chief assistant (yeah, his executive secretary) to the richest man in this particular state--he elected her racing secretary--he was a race horse breeder and owner and he also owned the racetrack in the city in which we headquartered in those days. From him she got references fit for a saint and my wife was a damn saint, and she came to New York City where she then became the same kind of assistant to a Lebanese billionaire with Saudi Arabian connections and with whom was working as a consultant the world's richest man at the time (1970s) who immediately took a liking to my charming, practical, and accountable wife--from her relationship with this bunch--like I said, they were connected directly to the Saudi Royal Family through the world's richest man whose father had been the Saudi Royal Family physician, my wife's worth rose from 20 grand a year when she started to over 50 grand by the time she quit the Lebanese, along with several hundreds of shares in a oil company he owned that is now a big player in the oil business in California--she left New York City and me worth at least a half a million bucks thanks to her talent for whipping these filthy rich men's affairs into perfect shape. Finally, while we were on a PR trip to Newfoundland--her boss had chartered the Queen Elizabeth II, at that time the world's largest cruise ship, for the stunt trip--President Tricky Dick Nixon was invited (the year before Watergate) and so was the amazing Spiro Agnew--and my wife, a staunch almost-commie, got fed up with the politics (ultrarightwing) of this bunch (mostly oilmen) of out-of-this-world bastards and we jumped ship in Placentia Bay and drove overland to way-out-in-the-North-Atlantic St. Johns and in a bar over an ale and some crackers and raw cheese she went mad with delight and started babbling what she'd been saying since the first time she went to work for one of these overrich SOBs, "These dudes are paper cowboys; they have no money; none of them; why American Express called every day asking when JS was going to pay his AE card bill and I'd tell them, 'oh, honey, I'm making out the check now and he promises it won't happen again, bye' and that's lyin', wolfman, and I'm the most honest woman alive." Agree. In her memory--what a woman I had--but, my quest for my own fame at her expense blew it--rather than riding on her fame and becoming, literally, I don't lie either, a playboy of the Western world, I chose to go my own impoverished way as a blues pianist and novelist-poet--wow, I could have been basking by the pools of the most famous hotels in the world, especially in Greece--my wife and I wanted to go to Greece and buy a place--but, nope, folks, I gave that all up because of what I was listening to under those stereo earphones--you see; like while she was working her ass off, I was home listening to music and writing my own personal greatest novels ever--a Galatea novel I was calling Rachel and a murder-novel that I finished called The Tripellians Adventures in America--about a bunch of cloned people who were put on the highways to rate hotels and restaurants--you know, like for the Mobil Tourguides or Fodors--you know, cloned reviewers who reviewed their assigned hotels and such according to how many stars the hotel's ownership paid for--masters of restaurant and hotel reviewing--star-givers, they called themselves. Oh how us writers love to reminisce.
And the music I was listening to was jazz--and I was especially frozen in amazement with jazz-cats like Prez, Hamp, Diz, Bird, Miles, O.P., Brother Ray, Hawk, Bud--and Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, and especially that Workshop album--and that masterful creation Mingus called "What Love." I listened to it again this morning--and that's what broke up my marriage--what I heard under those earphones, like this amazing "What Love," with no question mark.
Another episode in my continuing as is continuing in the continuing present of my pursuit of fame and how to get it, either on your own or with the help of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Sometimes there's fame and shame: as per the shenanigans of a millionaire pro football player setting dogs on fire who can't win or Lindsay Lohan drinking and drugging out of control because she's becoming aware her fame is on the wain and soon she may be a has-been--plus, shit, her whacky dad is out of jail now and he says he's gonna take care of his precious little family and especially poor little ego-tripping millionaire Lindsay. While these privileged assholes were burning dogs alive and driving drunk a hundred miles an hour all coked up (don't worry, she'll go to one of those Hollywood rehab spas and clean toilets or something--she'll be back drinking and druggin' in her low-brow way in 6 months), an Iraq veteran just home from Iraq, obviously in a very depressed state because he'd been ordered to shoot in cold blood two Iraqi soldiers (sorry, folks, I forget their "terrerists") and when he applied to the Vet for treatment for this depression he was turned down--so he came home and hanged himself in his folks basement where he was living--hanged himself using a rubber hose. On the bed by where he hanged himself he had placed the two dog tags of the Iraqi soldiers he'd had to kill--he had to shoot them point blank through their foreheads--he blew their brains out--he was ordered to do so by his superior--and that's the Army way--"KILL or BE KILLED." You have to learn to KILL in order to save your ass from being killed. That's the Army, folks. Case closed.
for The Daily Growler