Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Freezin' on the Observation Deck

Notes From Off the Den Floor
I've been cleaning out the cabinets and drawers around the wolf den here on the Great White Way, especially a pile of schoolboy notebooks I found in one corner of the den under a stack of electronic stuff. Before I pitched 'em in the garbage--which brings me to a detour...

I got a new book in the mail yesterday, something that always gives me a thrill, the moment before reading a new book, when you see what it is and it's all new and stiff and tight and you hate to open it for fear you might accidentally crimp a page or worse break the binding loose from the frontispage, especially if it's a paperback like this one I got yesterday, a 1984 paperback still in mint condition, looking as though it had never been cracked open--ASIDE: I remember as a near-baby living in cold, cold northern Oklahoma my dad saying "Would somebody crack a window; it's gettin' stuffy in here."--

This morning early, I cracked the book open--it's Paul Bowles's little book about traveling called Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue--the title coming from Edward Lear (I know, "Who?"), from his poem The Jumblies--"Far and few, far and few,/Are the lands where the Jublies live;/Their heads are green and their hands are blue,/And they went to sea in a Sieve." In a brilliant short introduction to this volume, Bowles explains about why he loves traveling in undeveloped countries rather than the "civilized" ones--Bowles lived in Morocco for over 30 years; he at one time owned a home on a tropical island just off the mainland of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)--D.H. Lawrence also visited Ceylon way back in the 1920s; tried to live there but couldn't--the same thing happened to Bowles once he was in Ceylon and trying to live in his home--it was a huge rambling falling down place built by a Brit when Ceylon belonged to Queen Vicky, then the Empress of Injah, too, don't you know, and it sat on a bluff overlooking the sea--though soon Bowles like Lorenzo found he couldn't live there and eventually sold the house and moved back to Morocco.

Here's a quote from the Intro: "The concept of the status quo is a purely rhetorical one; modifications occur hourly. It would be an absurdity to expect any group or people to maintain its present characteristics or manner of living. But the visitor to a place whose charm is a result of its backwardness is inclined to hope it will remain that way, regardless of how its inhabitants may feel. The seeker of the picturesque sees the spread of technology as an unalloyed abomination. Still, there are much worse things." He goes on to talk about Levi-Strauss's saying "in order for the Western world to continue to function properly it must constantly get rid of vast quantities of waste matter, which it dumps on less fortunate peoples. 'What travel discloses to us first of all is our own garbage, flung in the face of humanity'."

Bowles concludes this, to me, funny-as-hell Intro by saying, "My own belief is that the people of the alien cultures are being ravaged not so much by the by-products of our civilization, as by the irrational longing on the part of members of their educated minorities to cease being themselves and become Westerners. The various gadget-forms of our 'garbage' make convenient fetishes to assist in achieving the magic transformation. But there is a difference between allowing an organism to evolve naturally and trying to force the change." Bowles has lived among Islamics so long he's rationalizing like one--Western culture is alluring the same as "sin" is alluring; therefore, like Elijah Mohammed taught, the WHITE MAN is the DEVIL and the Earth he's made his Hell.

Notes Read on a Subway Platform (My Notes From Underground)
From Alfred North Whitehead: "The higher generalities rarely receive any accurate verbal expression." Strong statement, Al. Something to think about. [Not my train--I'll read on.]

Whitehead says that what you can learn from reading Gibbons's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is that Gibbons is actually describing "the decline and fall of his own culture."

And dig this note I wrote after reading Whitehead: "Steam and Democracy replaced Barbarians and Christians--but Democracy did not rid the wolrd of either Barbarians or Christians." Yee-hah, I'm beginning do a little jig on the subway platform. [Where's my god-damn train!]

Here's just a random note I wrote: "Speed is the new essence."

Another note to myself: "'Missile consciousness'--Michael McClure's phrase for 1950s culture--like the Buick symbol--or the Oldsmobile's symbol of a rocket penetrating a new diadem." [Oldsmobiles after WWII were called "Rocket 88s" then "Rocket 98s." The smartcar of the 50s was the Buick Le Sabre--after the Sabre jet fighter.]

Here's a note where I wrote: "Timothy Leary said of Allen Ginsberg after meeting him for the first time, '[Ginsberg is] a liberated artistic mind.'"

Another personal note: "Kerouac was transitory--with a spontaneous mind, 'First thought is the best thought.'" How true, I am now thinking, still waiting for my train.

Faulkner on writing: "I don't know where it comes from...."

It was snowing and now it is raining.

Until we meet again.

for The Daily Growler

The Daily Growler Recommends:

I was listening to my fav "girl" reporter this morn ...

["And for a cow's horn/She'll do it at morn"--supposedly written by Bobby Burns--at least that's what it said on the back cover of one of the volumes of Bawdy Songs and Backroom Ballads I possessed once in my life, songs of real life recorded by the great Oscar Brand for Vanguard--I'm too lazy to Google it right now--anyway, on the back of the album I had, Oscar said the lyrics to this Scottish ballad--"The Cuckoo's Nest"--was rumored to be the great Bobby Burns himself. The title comes from "I'll give a man a'shilling/And a bot'le of the best/Who'll ruffle up the feathers of the cuckoo's nest"--and "Aye" I shout. And the verse which refers to "morn": "And for a cow's horn/She'll do it at morn/And for a sheep's skin/She'll do it again!" Bobby is also assumed to be the author of the very popular "The Ball at Ballynoor"--"Oh the ball at Ballynoor, where my wife and yur'rrr wife were doin' it in the floor." But I drift far from my intentions for this addendum...]

...Amy Goodman was good this morning and her guest was this dude Michael Pollan. By the bye, Amy claimed this morn that she was at one time an organic baker in Maine or some place like that--'scuse me, Amy, but I have a spontaneous mind--very transitory, never very accurate except in what it really means...

And this dude Pollan is a cool talker so I'm sure he's a cool writer--even though he works for the NYTimes--

Then I went on his Website and I dug it--cool design (I guess so NYTimes money)--and a damn cool shot of him writing humped over in a log cabin out in the middle of what may be those Berkeley Hills--since I think he teaches at UCal-Berkeley--like I say, forgive me, this is all spontaneous on my part, my like of this dude having to do with his speaking of his attitude about eating and dining, which is kind'a my attitude about eating and dining, too--I agree with him about eating what my grandmother called "food"--though my grandmother loved biscuits and gravy and ham steaks and red-eye gravy and chicken 'n dumplings and hog maw and hogshead cheese and deep dish pot pies oozling in rich creamy sauces but chocked full of fresh garden vegetables. Anyway, I recommend--all of this bullshit to get to this: check out Michael Pollan--


thedailygrowlerhousepianist Reviews Herbie Hancock's Performing With Lang Lang Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Grammy's This Year
Yeah Herbie did a good job. 'course I expect he
simplified some passages, and slopped through some
others(I mean precise execution of bravura isn't what
he's known for). Kinduva pity because neither player
was allowed to show off what he could really do.
Marcus Roberts does long improvised passages when he
plays Gershwin with orchestra; a pity they couldn't
have had Herbie do something similar. Probably not
enough time.

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

Yeah, Michael Pollan lives right near where I live, in the Berkeley Hills next to the University. I read his slender tome "The Botany of Desire" and found it fascinating. It's worth reading. It's about 4 plants that have captivated humans and made them crazy: apples, tulips, cannabis, potatoes. I'm a professional gardener, in this third career of mine, so I am very intimate with plants. I found "Botany..." delightful and I intend to read more of his stuff (along with everything else I intend to do-- yikes!).