Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Forgotten Generation

You Are Now Entering the Soon-to-Be-Forgotten Zone; No Need to Fasten Seatbelt
I go on other blogs sometimes--it's a sport--makes me feel so ELITELY above-it-all--and Praise the Lard I AM (what I am), journeyman that I am, troubadour that I am, lost vaudevillian that I am, one-time little boogie boy all-star, once the budding poet, once the writer of an endless play, the writer of seven full novels (burned at the stake at the Westchester County, New York, Dump by a resentful lover), the author of 35 Catholic Church and one Episcopal Church parish histories (little moneymakers for the parish priests and rectors) and 2 bestselling (in Catholic bookstores) full-length books on the Polish Pope (John Paul the 2)--the second book sold over 100,000 copies on late-night teevee advertising--one of the first uses of what's now renown as an "infomercial," I can boast of a label-produced cassette recording (now available on the Internet in the CD format--though like Charles Mingus used to call Phil Schaap and tell him not to play certain of his albums because he'd never gotta a dime or an iota of NADA from them, I, too, have never seen a penny off my recording), I got to be lead singer for a downtown Manhattan cult band for 5 years, got to be the New Year's Eve entertainment at a fancy downtown Manhattan restaurant and bar for seven years, got to record with several of my more successful friends, got to be on the bill at a big jazz festival one year, worked in back-office television, worked with Ralph Baruch at the Emmy Awards, worked as a department editor for a huge crooked accounting firm (caught big one time though they came out clean (the corporate Jesus forgives them all their sins)), worked in pharma advertising for a decade, and just recently started playing the blues again....

I am listening to one of my home-made recordings from 2000. I'm not bad. I'm really not bad at all. Do I deserve to be forgotten for whatever I'm leaving behind? No, I ain't goin' anytime soon, not that anybody gives a shit, 'cause I'm in great health, a positivist (observer/observationist/elaborator) from birth and from education and from attitude, so I'm not expecting to be forgotten anytime soon--besides, I'm a cynic, yes, but still a positive one in terms of myself (right, Herr Doktor Freud?)--I call on Freud a lot--but then that's my generation, too, not Freud himself, but Freud's kids, like psychiatry babes, Anna Freud and Karen Horney (hey, I'm not making it up), and my generation were the analyzed kids, the tested kids, after WWII, a war that undid the mysteries of the rest of the world to the Boomer dads and mothers--my brother was one--my brother was from the Beat Generation--my brother (a T.S. Eliot worshipper) came out of the same starting blocks as Norman and Gore and Allen and Jack, though my brother hated Kerouac, thought he was a joke--I did not--that's when I realized I was different from my brother--a different generation--a totally different set of inspirations and curiosities all based on my later time of being born--I'm from a generation that got caught in the cracks and fell through down into the lowest part of the creative basement--or, as I prefer to put it, my created worlds end up in the basements of going-out-of-business bookstores and record stores. Where once Gertie Stein and her flock intrigued us with stories from Paris and novels romantically traipsing about Spain and France and the English Lake Country and the Irish countryside and the streets of Dublin and even the war-torn streets of Berlin--hell, by the time my brother got back from his South Pacific duty and China duty with the US Marines--I, a little kid, was a geography whiz and knew all about California, especially L.A., San Diego, and San Francisco--I knew all about the Northwest, had an aunt and uncle living well in Portland, Oregon, overlooking the Willamette River, and a cousin living in Bremerton, Washington, a ferry ride across the Puget Sound from Seattle--and I had cousins and hometown boys coming back from Italy, France, Germany; and I had a WWI hero uncle who'd once been the toast of Gay Paree; and I had another uncle who'd been a merchant seaman in the Caribbean and told me stories about Havana, Panama City, the Panama Canal, Vera Cruz, Port au Prince, Venezuela; and I had other cousins and my brother and his hometown buddies who came back from all over the Pacific; I even had a cousin stationed in Greenland who sent me Greenland stamps and pictures of Greenlanders; later when I became an afficianado of American artist Rockwell Kent I already knew about the places in Greenland Kent knew and loved and especially the Greenland woman Salamina he fell in love with in a concubine sense; and then I had contact with my crazy cousin, GAG, who'd gone nuts on a Navy submarine off the coast of Connecticut, had then served time at the Navy's insane facilities at Portsmouth (great Jack Nicholson movie) New Hampshire, and after he was released from the Navy nuthatch he went on out to sea to become a Navy radio and radar man, ending up on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the South Seas on its way to Tokyo--and after he was safe at home finally, he had a huge Navy-issued book of photographs of his carrier being hit by two kamikaze planes--and he sat looking at these photographs over and over after he came back from the War, just staring at those pictures sometimes all day long and sometimes even looking at them while taking apart radios and putting them back together again, his seemingly endless hobby--later, GAG, after getting a scholarship in engineering to a prestigious Texas engineering school, returning to campus one night driving his new Plymouth ran head on full speed into a railroad overpass concrete embankment, and GAG flew through the car's windshield to slam his bullet-like forehead dead-on into that concrete pillar--it cracked his skull open, drained a little juice out of his brainpan, and made him curse out his poor old mother, but after they patched him up and doped him up enough to get him back on his feet, they found out the cracked skull had made him a fucking genius--an electronics genius--yep, folks, my crazy cousin, GAG, suddenly just knew all kinds of electronics schemes and circuit designs in his head--like rocket electrical systems--yep, I kid you not and he went on to work for both the Navy and then RCA Laboratories where he became one of those top-secret-type dudes, though it was rumored he was working on missile projects and shit like that. GAG died of a massive brain tumor when he was only in his early fifties--GAG had been a chain smoker--never without a cig--even while he was soldering microcosmic electrical circuits he had a cigarette dangling out of his mouth--tobacco his Freud--his generation sent off to war at 18 or younger without ever having been analyzed--wild-eyed dumbass youth used as canon fodder by the Elders--and look who the Elders of World War II were: absolute power-nuts like Uncle Joe Stalin--and Uncle Joe hated everybody (he was a pipe smoker and pipe smokers used to be thought of as potential murderers), but especially himself and his children (remember Svetlana? That sly-fox PR bitch!); then there was pompous beyond belief old privileged soldier/statesman Brit fop Lord Winnie Churchill; and the absolutely pompous and priggish Charles DeGaulle (a wine-sot); and our own Holy Father crippled and bitter Frankie Delano Roosevelt (remember he was illiterate in restaurant French); and, of course, our absolutely nutjob enemies, Benito "Newspaperman" Mussolini (I kind'a like the Fascist Rome train station he built) and lamebrain Austrian Half-Jewish Adolf Schickelgruber, a little weak-eyed runt, Hirohito, in Japan who thought he was an emperor-god, and there was Tojo, the evil, grinning, Coke-bottle-glassed Tojo--I mean, come on, what a bunch of Elders--oh, and I forgot dear old Francisco Franco in Spain--Old Crip Roosevelt could have aided the Spanish Republicans against Franco's Nazi-Italo pals--only the Commie Russkies tried to help--Roosevelt could have easily prevented WWII by backing the Spaniards in their fight for freedom and democracy--the writers and thinkers of the day knew it, but not the Elders--like Henry Ford, that old scoundrel mother's-milk-drinking asshole--a common dumbass who had a way with bicycle frames and gasoline engines, otherwise dumb as an ox--but oh how old assembly-line Henry made bucks off both sides of the war, and that didn't matter to him--castigatin' the Jews as he went about tradin' with Japan--scrap steel! He pressured for WAR. Ford made tanks and shit during WWII--pure profits--and that made old Henry the first billionaire in this country--local Dearborn boy makes good.

So my brother's generation weren't analyzed. No Minnesota Multiphasicals for them--but yes for me--developed from army psychology--hell, they even tested my generation's young asses by putting fluoride in the water supplies to see its effect on our teeth--you know why? These fools believed fluoride would keep you from getting hurt in case of a nuclear attack. My generation were the atomic-bomb kids! That's what the Elders held over our heads. Diane Di Prima of my generation, though she's considered a Beat poet, wrote a poem about growing up an atomic-bomb baby called Memories of Childhood. It expresses the cynicism my generation grew up with, though we were extremely cleverly witty kids, with wild almost spontaneous senses of humor--a hurting kind of humor--not wittily clever like Mark Twain's sense of humor--nope--more cynically wittily clever--like Donald Barthelme or Mason Hoffenburg, like their senses of humor, two Texas writers of my generation. Mason was the Texas Nabokov. Candy. Associated, too, with Tennessee Williams's Baby Doll. Carol Baker the actress in Baby Doll was my generation's kind'a gal--wild girls--and that included the god-damn rapturously beautiful Natalie Woods--Rebel Without a Cause--and Rebel Without a Cause was originally a book of Freudian psychiatry, Clinical Psychiatry, by the great writer, Robert Lindner--my generation--R.D. Laing, my generation, too, leading the disoriented into the forest and then bringing them back out whole beings again--going into the forest with his patients was R.D.'s avant-garde form of psychiatry--and this after Eric Berne, the San Francisco psychiatric treat, had said life and love were just games, tournaments of competitions--games between men and women and the lives they live while playing these games.

Ah what fun I'm having trying to not be forgotten. All coming about when I went blogging early this morning--I clicked on one of Google's "Blogs of the Day"--a blog run by a babe who goes around with her girl pals to fabby New York City hangs and then writes chatty blog posts about them, not really professionally evaluating these fabby food and drink sets, but kind'a...well, she describes her blog as a help for "twenty-somethings" in eating and drinking out in New York City--you know, where this Little Megan (not her right name) probably originally from Long-ah-Eye-land likes to go--she runs out to Montauk and Sag Harbor a lot, too--and her comments are kind'a cutesy "Sex in the City" girl blabber--taking some nice fotos--though they may be stock fotos she's downloading off Google Images....

And how tired I was of the Sarah Jessica Parker bullshit that's been trumpeted all over NYC television the past couple'a weeks--and how good it was to see the movie make only 20 million its opening week--chicken-feed in the movie industry--but Sarah J P got plenty of free advertising--Jewish girl from Long-ah-Eyeland, I betch'a--and this was her first directing job--the Sex and the City gals are back, yep, looking a little longer in the tooth than they did on their HBO series--weren't they thirty-something then?--and poor Sarah is getting uglier and uglier, especially in HD teevee--a change in television broadcasting I still don't get--and it's government mandated, too, the teevee networks are "seriously" broadcasting! Not our faults, they're saying, the Feds by law are forcing us to cut out analog broadcasting and go totally unrelentingly digital. But, I ask, why can't you keep broadcasting analog, too? Or why can't somebody then take over analog broadcasting and start an alternative network? And all new HD teevees are overpriced Asian-made exaggerated screen things--all in the up-in-the-thousands price range--it's all suspicious to me--distrust a thing from my generation, don't you see?--we, like B.B. used to sing, didn't trust anybody but our mothers and sometimes we wondered about them, too--we certainly didn't trust big corporate media giants suddenly telling us that the Federal Government was forcing them to broadcast in High Definition digital teevee...or WHAT?, I cynically ask. What if a network kept on broadcasting an analog signal? Would they be fined? Have their licenses taken away? You can answer those questions no matter your generation.

Reading this twenty-something young babe's restaurant review blog (and she didn't get that many comments--about 5 or 6 per post) set me straight about one thing: my generation is the generation of the NEW SQUARES! My generation thought our parents and the Baby Boomers's dads and moms were the Squares! People who dug Perry Como over Sarah Vaughan were Squares to us. People who preferred Pat Boone's "Rootie Tutti" to the original one by the very original Little Richard Penniman--still kicking, by the bye--though facing his coming forgotten years with verve and pep and go-on-ahead-with-yourself pomp! A great American musician and innovator! There's tons of 'em from my generation: Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Brother Ray Charles, Clifford Brown, Bill Evans, Winetone Kelly, McCoy Tynner--now SQUARES? I wonder if Amy Winehead (or even the fat Burger-King-eating black blubber boy of American Idol fame) has any idea who Bill Evans is? He's a Square to Amy, I'm sure. Maybe she's right, though to me, Amy and those broads are just copying Janis Joplin, the wacky South Texas girl who became the persona of the white Bessie Smith--"livin' in the bottle"--man, remember Gil Scott Herron? Wow! My generation. King Curtis! "Soul Serenade." Funk. The Boogaloo! The Groove Organists. The 'gator gettin' your granny. The bass playing of Scott LaFaro. The carwreck on Long-ah-Eyeland that killed Scott LaFaro. The carwreck on Long-ah-Eyeland that killed Jackson Pollack.

Ah shit. I don't wanna be a SQUARE. That was the worst someone could say about my kind back when I was the thinking generation, the innovating generation, the influencing generation, kind'a the Pepsi Generation, because we had that kind of pep though our pep didn't come from a syrup of pepsin but from the juice of the Poppies and the buds of Mary Jane plants--and we didn't drink Coca Cola either, but the coca leaf meant a lot to us. We were the NONCONFORMISTS--and we were experts at nonconforming! We became the Hippies, the Yippies, the Hog Farmers, the communalists, the New Socialists, the new sociologists, the radical psychologists, the learners, the studiers, the book writers, the human rights advocates, the mental-health-reform advocates--the beginning takers of prescription drugs, too! I grew up being given paregoric for my belly aches (and I had them constantly since paregoric was a liquid opiate) and when my nose was stopped up (and it was a lot) I was given my own Benzedrine inhaler, a plastic dick-looking thing with a hole in its dick head and its insides stuffed with Benzedrine-soaked cotton balls and when you stuck this dick-looking thing up your nose and inhaled, ooooh the mellow calm that came over you--and how miraculously you could breathe so easy again--"Pass me that paregoric while you're up, Doc. I'll bet paregoric and Benzedrine go good together." And my generation had penicillin, too. Plus, we had Dr. Jonas Salk who eliminated polio in our culture. My best friend in elementary school was stricken with polio (that's how they used to put it)--I, however, was healthier than a horse then and at that time had already developed my nonconformist, contrarian, cynical, and atheistic lifestyle--my positivist cynicism, based on my love of the blues idiom--something that came into the white culture during my generation--my "white" rock 'n roll generation--yep, old Elvis was a part of it; so was Buddy Holly; so is Johnny Winter; so is Bob Dylan. Brilliant nonconforming dudes. We gave you the chance to wear long hair--in protest against the burr-headed Cracker types who were the pampered ones by the Elders. The burr haircut was of course a WWII cultural insert. Wearing long hair has always symbolized a free-form way of living. The Wild Men of history have had long hair. The Elders have remained crewcut--Cap'n John McCain wears a crewcut; he was militarily ordered to by his military creepy father and grandfather--oh how disgusting John McCain is to my generation's nonconforming progressivism--he's a loser not a hero. Heroes to my generation were the Rosenbergs--shows you what YOUR country can do to your ass should they declare you a TRAITOR! And Jews on top of that! We hated Jews in this country before my generation. These Holy Roller evangelicals are my generation, too, however; and this I have to admit. One of my best friends in high school, we loved the same girl, we screwed her on alternate weekends--and this bastard, a great actor he was in high school, too--what an actor--and I called him Barrymore, too, he was such a good actor--and what did he do with his acting? He became an evangelical preacher--and hell, one time in L.A. I turned on CABLE and there was my old high school friend, selling Jesus and my friend's blue-grass band's CD, slamming out the old Holy Roller Gospel from a huge church complex out in Thousand Oaks--and I learned later from a mutual friend that this bastard had been married four or five times--once coming back to my hometown and stealing his brother's hot wife from him--I told my wife in L.A. that day that my generation were proof that Americans were such hypocrites--projecting a false image when in fact the true religion in this country is hypocrisy.

My generation revealed the hypocrisy of religion. My generation declared "GOD is DEAD."

I concede to maybe one day being totally forgotten...but I ain't giving up just, give a second to light up a doob...

for The Daily Growler

The New Yuppy

I just got yet another book in the mail and I must mention it--God, that fool's picture (I recognize a New York City pretty-boy actor when I see one) above drives me nuts--"Go ahead and cook your brains just so you can have stupid conversations with your actor boyfriends...."--I'm just so professionally jealous of anyone who succeeds--anyway, I got this book in the mail, Just for a Thrill it's called, from the charming Cooper Square Press, which goes back to a point in the nineties with its publishing of interesting books, with titles like Michael Zwerin's Swing Under the Nazis, Jazz as a Metaphor for Freedom--the blues is the truer metaphor for freedom--for the freedom for jazz to become an American art form--saying the Nazis who got into American blues music and let it sway them into the arms of Lady Liberty--anyway, you catch the drift--and they published Henry Mancini's autobiography and Gene Lee's biography of Oscar Peterson--and Just for a Thrill is a biography of Lil Hardin Armstrong by Memphis-born, MY GENERATION, writer, James L. Dickerson. Writtin' 'bout Memphis's own Lil Hardin, Dempsey Hardin's daughter, the woman who learned to play the piano with the charm and flair of a woman but with the drive and performance of a man.

You know I can't resist reading every book the postman throws over my transom (boy, how archaic is that phrase NOW?), so I've already started reading Brother Jim's tome about Hot Miss Lil and the first thing he does is say right off the bat that Lil sort of exaggerated her history, and he means that in the gentler sense and not in any derogatory sense; Lil lied about her age a lot and she lied about her time at Fisk U; and she lied about musical training--but she didn't lie really! I mean, come on, Louis Armstrong lied all his life about his age and birthday. Like all Southern white boy writers, Dickerson tries to educate us to Southern white and black feelings from the liberal Southern white point of view--it's one that William Faulkner wrote about--about how down South both blacks and whites like to take their time at the common Southern slow pace in deciding when CHANGE can take place, you know, like about whether to actually allow a black person to be equal under the stupid laws of this land or to defend the righteousness of Jim Crow as a subtle means of eventually bringing the races together--it's based on "the poor hapless freed slave thing" after the Civil War, which Southern whites call the War Between the States--whites feeling sorry for how some slaves didn't want to leave their Masters after they were freed--yeah sure--I've heard this kind of white justifying a million times--"You all jest can't rush this kind'a stuff on us Southerners. I mean, old Unka Sugar over there'd agree with us white folks, you jest can't change a way of livin' that's hun-derds'a years old, it jest ain't natchrell"--it has to do with Southern whites down deep wanting so bad to be accepted by black people (they never are, I hate to tell them--not even if they marry them) and this is especially true about young white boys who grew up with the blues being blared out nightly right down the streets from their strictly white neighborhoods in New Orleans, in Memphis, in Saint Louis, in Chicago, in Dallas, in Jackson, Mississippi, in New York City! White boys who had the blues in their ancient genes and when they heard them and heard the black dudes playing the blues they flipped out with wanting to learn how to be so black and blue and yet stay white--and then the whiteys saw the syncopation starting the black kids's feet to tappin', then their rubbery legs to tremblin', then their bodies voluntarily leapin' up, seeking an opposite-sex body, and then there's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on--and there ain't no Southern or any kind'a black-culture-loving white boy (Norman Mailer called 'em "Wiggers") who's ever seen a really HOT black girl jump up and start shakin' her hips--OK, I don't have to get too descriptive, do I? This is a problem with white-boy writers especially who consider themselves competent musicians who can play jazz and blues--who see jazz and playing it well as one way to interact with blacks--it has worked for a lot of white musicians over the years--though at one time I tried to write jazz stories from the black guys's point of view in terms of working and being friends with white musicians or just white people. Blacks carry an inborn distrust of whites and why wouldn't they? Whites are much more deceitful than blacks. They are much more murderously crooked as hell. And white women certainly lie like hell about their age--and about their educations, too.

So, I found out Lil wasn't as young as she always said she was and no she didn't graduate from Fisk; in fact, she never was really a college student there--she was a preparatory student there--and she wasn't there long before she was gone and back in Memphis. Another mistake about Lil I've generationally made is that she was discovered in Memphis playing in Mrs. Jones's record shop--and that Jelly Roll came into that record shop--and now I know, that record shop was in Chicago, on the Southside, where her mother moved from Memphis in 1917 when Miss Lil was 18 years old. So I stand corrected. I think I'm gonna learn some more of Miss Lil's deceits later on, though I'm learning a lot about this woman who old Jim Dickerson, a good ole white boy from MY Forgotten Generation, is madly in love with--you can tell--Lil had that effect on men--though she was weird enough men were afraid of her and she would run when a man got too fresh with her and until she was 21 her mother met her every night at her gigs and walked her home--Hot Miss Lil was a finely "framed" young-looking girl, with lovely wide hips and powerful legs and arms and she soon she was working with Lesbian Alberta Hunter who got the hots for her and then she met Jimmy Johnson, a singer--but men respected her moxie--they respected her being able to act like she was tough as hell, and Lil was tough as hell; she'd grown up in one of the worst black neighborhoods in the world at that time in Memphis--Boss Crump's time in Memphis--W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues," by the way, was originally written as a political campaign song called "Mr. Crump," a campaign song that Crump hired W.C. to write for his first mayoral campaign. When Crump, who ran as a clean-the-city-up progressive, turned out to be as crooked as a snake at night when he took power, pissed-off Handy changed the name of the tune to "Memphis Blues," which he sold the rights to in order to survive--and it went on to become the first big-selling "blues" (it really wasn't a blues) ever. Handy later was able to regain the rights to "Memphis Blues" and make some big bucks off of it finally. My mother who was a pretty good stride pianist for a white woman--a flapper/swinger/jazz-age girl who'd eventually lost a baby and blamed it on her "love of black music" and her dancing and flapping and so she turned her life over to her fantasy superman who turned out to be Jesus X. Christ--and Jesus didn't dig black music--he remembered how his Big Daddy told how the old Devil, Lucifer, could wail the blues on the Celestial upright piano in Big Daddy's Heavenly Bar and Grill--but if you teased my mother enough--she loved attention--you could get her to wail a bit and inevitably the tune she'd play when someone talked her into raggin' around was Handy's "Memphis Blues." I've heard that blues played by a woman (which really isn't a blues) all of my life.
W.C. Handy in a photo taken by Carl Van Vechten

for this Addendum

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