Tuesday, September 02, 2008

An Awkward Empathy

A Happy Howling-Wolf Man! [Mr Ed: This Version Has Been Edited]
I just read twtp's comment about her "second and last parent" leaving the coil and how she's hitting the trail to the rubber room as a result. And I was extremely jumping-for-joy happy do to an unexpected roll of worthless dollar bills falling from the sky and giving me the energy needed to jump for joy and then I opened up the blog dashboard and found 2 comments hadn't been checked yet and they were both from thewomantrumpetplayer--and now I'm feelin' like that famous air-check clip of old time rock 'n roll record jiver, a little twerp of an L.A. nontalent who made it big, Casey Casem (real name Ahmed Kaseem or some Middle Eastern name like that), going off language-slanging angry on his Top 40 rundown radio show after they set it up where Casey had to talk about the death of a darling little dog after coming off an up-tempo rocker--Casey would get serious and say, "And coming in at Number 20 this week is Michael Jackson and "Whose Nose Is My Nose?" and we're sending it out to Patsy and Glen in Hogcall, Iowa, who are celebrating their 3rd year of commonlaw marriage this month"--and on this famous air check, Casey goes off on his staff when he has to "come out of an up-tempo tune" and talk about a death--in this case, the death of a little dog named Snuggles. And Casey starts off, "And now we have a request, a request dedicated to a death, the death of a little dog named Snuggles...Snuggles?" and then Casey's off on a rampage, "I tell ya...I tell ya, you guys are killin' me, I mean I'm getting fucking tired of coming out of a fucking up-tempo tune and then having to talk about a death, the death of a god-damn dog--I mean, it's fucking preponderous! Preponderous! Fucking preponderous...and, by the way, where are those pictures I ordered...." And I come out of my up-tempo happiness and then I was hit with a death, this the death of thewomantrumpetplayer's mother, and I, too, was feeling fucking preponderous suddenly.

I couldn't watch any of the John McCain Hurricane Gustav Hero and Already Commander-and-Chief and War Hero Snowjob Show--especially Commander-in-Chief Faux President Georgie Porgie Bush's promoting himself and his 19%-approval-rated ass...oh and the bullshit was piling up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which used to be the home of the Saint Paul Saints baseball team one of the most successful minor league franchises in baseball--and what the numbskull Repugnicans are doing in Saint Paul is showing how more like their boogieman Devil they are rationalizing than they are like their precious Jesus (a man who was born immaculately--which means no man stuck his dick in and fucked his mother, a teenage Jewish girl married to a 72-year-old carpenter; yes, folks, contemplate that: no man ever fucked the Holy Mother, no man ever shot his life-giving wad into her, which means that after he was born, Jesus never got a hard on--how could he since he never had an evil thought in his head, he never married--and if he had sex at all, all indications are that it was gay sex)--and that's the bullshit sort of stuff I heard briefly tonight as I dropped by the Repugnican Convention to take a dump on whoever was heralding John McCain and Mrs. Sarah Palin as the absolutely greatest presidential candidates ever in the history of crooked elections in this country--and there were tons of what they were calling "character witnesses" for both Cap'n Shotdown John and Mrs. NRA Babe of the Year, Sweet Sarah of Alaska (Franny & Zoe came up with that tag and I love it--fits Sarah to a tee--that and the fact she does closely resemble Mrs. Hank Hill)--and by NOW, I'm beginning to feel that Cap'n John "Mayday/Mayday" McCain may be the MESSIAH! Hey, take the Irish "Mick" out of his name and you've got a J.C.--except Cap'n John's "C" stands for "Cain" and not "Christ"--and I'm drifting off the road to reason into the ditch of ignorance in trying to write about such a farce of a gathering of FOOLS! Such a big load of total unwashed bullshit! Unedited bullshit! Shat out through big dumb grins and joyous constant smiles that look to me like smiles of pain--Cheshire-Cat grins of embarrassment even among these Repugnican goofballs of Cap'n Captured John's veep pick and the constantly revealing facts that she's a hambone loser of a hambone woman and her hypersexed husband and their hypersexed 5 kids are just as hambone, the husband double hambone, and one of their kids a dumb son of a bitch son on his way to Iraq! And where are Cap'n John's kids? [They did say last night the Loser Cap'n has a passel of adopted kids.] Can't he trot one or two toeheads out for a "vetting"--and when did that word "vetting" get into the politician vocabulary?--and I heard one time off the cuff that the brave Cap'n has a son in Iraq, too--what's a fifty-year-old son doing in Iraq?--is he a privileged officer or a privileged contractor making his nest egg while that war is still hot and rotten?

So I flipped off the Repugnican jokers in Saint Paul and broke through the password to getting into The Daily Growler only to find twtp's sad comment. She's lost her last parent and it's nice of her to grieve to the point of insanity, which shows how much she found alluring in her mother. I must shamefully (though I truly don't know what shame is) admit I got riled up at the funeral of my mother, made a scene--I refused to endure the religio-gibberish they were piously jiving about my mother, so I stood up and laughed right out loud and I was wearing sunglasses and some cool Don Roper duds I'd bought a couple of years back when I was out on Rodeo Drive in 10290, yep, that one-and-only Rodeo Drive, and I cruised in there as a kid just out of college in my '53 Chevy and I parked that wreck of a son of a bitchin' car right in front of Don Roper's Custom Men's Shop, went in, and bought a burnt orange shirt with black trim around the collar and down the buttoned front and a pair of Don's western-metro slacks--oh so f-ing cool and bright bleached white like a yacht captain's slacks--and the total cost to me was nothing since I put the purchase on my brand new out-of-college American Express card, the one I never paid--and uh-oh, the American Express Spy Corporation may be datamining blogs mentioning their name--I don't give a shit; I'm not a real person, I'm a character in a running novel being written as a blog--I'm really perhaps the ghost of John Dos Pasos. Or the ghost of Frank Norris! Or the ghost of Frank Harris. Now that's the ghost I'd like to be--except the final chapter to Frank's great inspiring work (for me) Frank Harris, My Life and Loves is one of the most depressing chapters to a autobiography I've ever read, where Frank is standing just over the top of the Hill of Age and realizing that looking ahead down the road he can see his grave, and he can see the tombstone on his grave, and he can almost make out the epitaph on his tombstone--and he's depressed, he's morbidly depressed--and he's dying--and he can't smoke cigarettes anymore--and he's pumping his stomach out once a day trying to survive another day--and he's lost his spunk and his ability to fuck underage girls (Frank said he could only get it up for 12-year-old girls--like Winnie the 10-year-old Indian girl who was his mistress while he was traveling by train through India) and then he realizes that he has no more life and loves to write about--and when a writer has nothing more to write about he either blows the top of his fucking head off or he just lays down and slowly fades (rots) away.

My mother's been dead now 44 years. That's amazing to me. I still remember her very clearly; I can hear her voice plainly still; I can look into her eyes and see them looking back at me; I remember clearly the way she walked; I remember her overweight ass that haunted her after I was born and stayed with her wide and broad the rest of her short life; I remember my mother dressing me, bathing me, combing my hair--yes, I clearly remember my mother; yet, I never knew my mother--knew her only as a rulemaking and rule-enforcing parent and never knowing her as a girl or a woman or as a mentor, no, certainly not as a mentor. And though I do remember my mother hugging me and babying me when I was a baby and telling me she loved me and blowing kisses on my belly button, when I got at that Age of Reason, that Age of Manhood and Womanhood, I abandoned her as a love and care source, an age in which I based everything I loved on the sexual feelings I had for a certain thing, the music, the literature, the culture, the subculture--aha, you see, I've been reading about the phony Thomas Wolfe, Tom Wolfe, the preppy good ol' southern "Confederate" journalist who announced one fine day that he was really a novelist, inventor of the journalistic novel--Tom Wolfe, the foppish journalist who wore the expensive white suits and wrote the unreal book he called The Right Stuff--but then here I go, here I go, here I go, pretty baby, going tangential with all my heart and soul off my intended theme--writing like King Pleasure putting words to famous jazz solos--he scatted words, actual words, to jazz solos like Bird's on "Billie's Bounce" and James Moody's on "Moody's Mood for Love"--and I'm going off on Tom Wolfe--who did startle me in an interview Chet Flippo had with him in 1980--published in Rolling Stone Issue 324, and Tom suddenly blurts out in the interview, "I started writing in the first person, which was a big mistake.... I wrote about thirty pages like that, and then it dawned on me that it was useless information and really detracted from the scene, which was the important thing. In fact, I find that the use of the first person is one of the trickiest things in journalism, and something that's rarely understood. If you write in the first person, you've turned yourself into a character. And you have to establish yourself, you have to make yourself become a character, and you have to have some organic involvement in the action" [page 97, Chet Flippo, Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, St. Martin's Press, 1991]. Son of a bitch, ol' Tom "the journalistic fop" Wolfe hit a home run with me in that paragraph--he's absolutely right about "first-person" journalism or writing of any kind--it's the hardest writing there is--that's why you don't read many good first-person-written books (except Mickey Spillane was a good first-person writer--in the lowest sense of the word, but, hey, Mickey made himself a successful character--Mike Hammer, Mickey's true-life persona!). I have written myself into a character role on this blog--a first-person-writing character, a protagonist, yes, but a character just the same with a big multiinspirational hand up my ass manipulating me as a writer, as an observer, and as a participant--and I know what Dr. Hunter Thompson meant when he said what he said about Tom because I've read a little of Tom "White Suit" Wolfe, and, yes, Tom's a Sociologist, but he's a nonparticipating--measuring with his own devices--Sociologist, like an anthropologist or a mad scientist for instance. Wonderful thinking though in terms of first-person writing.

My mother was always kind of fatalistic, at least she was after I came along. The first I remember her is when she used to dress up to the nines on Sundays when we lived in Enid, Oklahoma, and she and my father would take me out to the great Springs Park, a huge big government-paid-for park in Enid that had a zoo and a huge adult swimming pool and a very fine little kids's wading pool--a large pool fed by a fountain of sculpted marble lions's heads with their mouths open and water spewing out of their mouths like these lions were puking pure water out of their guts. I remember my mother not allowing me to put on my swimsuit and get in the kids's wading pool because it allowed "mixed bathing." That's the first time I started turning on my mother intellectually. Her forbidding me the fun of wading and then learning to swim didn't make sense to me and I cried and screamed and stomped my feet and ran around screaming mad and angry--and soon my mother soothed me down by taking me into the Sunken Garden among these banks of flowers of all kinds, and my father took a photo of my mother and me in that Sunken Garden--mother's lying on her side--she's wearing her Sunday dress and I'm sitting on the grass in front of her and I'm wearing a pretty swell tan matching outfit like a woman's pant suit--tan slacks with a tan shirt jacket-like top. And I have that photograph melded on my mind. Mother has that look in it. Her special way of looking. It was sort of a sneer, as if she knew something no one else around her knew and she was keeping it to herself, letting it come out only in her eyes and the shape of her mouth. My mother in other photos is tensed up, posing, you know--but in this photo she's got that look working--she isn't tense at all--laying there in that park full of beautiful full-budded flowers, some drooping with the weight of the overbloomed heads--and I know my dad who's taking that photo is dressed sharp as a tack in his Sunday best Hart, Schafter & Marx suit--made for him special at their factory in Rochester, New York, a summer wool job--with his favorite hat cocked at a cock-o-the-walk angle on his handsome head.

After forbidding me to mix bathe in Springs Park in Enid, Oklahoma, I don't remember any more satisfying moments with my mother. After I started to school, I sort of focused on easy living, like how was I on my own going to make it through life in spite of my mother and father. I began to not have much respect for either of them. I obeyed them at first but then I got to testing their demands and became a rather haughty and uncooperative sort of teenager. By then I'd discovered my male desires for girls--and girls who looked to me prettier and sexier than my mother. I don't remember ever feeling sexual for my mother--except I do remember an incident that happened when I was really young and my mother was giving me a bath and in washing my pecker area I got a hard on--a little bullet-hard hard--and it got so hard, I suddenly lifted my little ass up off the floor of that bathtub and sent my little rocket hard right up toward my mother's leaning over face. I give her this, she didn't go ballistic--she simply filluped hard my little boy hard and it soon went down--EXCEPT, then she advised me on what to do the next time my little pecker got uncontrollably hard like that--"Tuck it between your legs and squeeze your legs around it until it wilts." God-damn you, mother. That was the worst advice. My pecker is crowing like a god-damn rooster now, bent like a chicken neckbone--arching up from where my constantly squeezing it down with my legs force-evolved it into this constantly crowing shape!

When I learned my mother had been killed along with my old man in a horrible truck-car crash over in the East Texas Piney Woods, I acted as though I didn't give a shit! I was going on with my life! I was still young and I had a hot young wife and I lived in New Orleans and I was making nice bucks and so was my wife and we were living the civilized life no thanks to my mother and father--except ironically after their deaths and my brother and I split up our inheritance we were both so surprised to find how well-off our parents were, thanks to my mother's frugality. My mother was a very practical woman even though she was a Virgo same as I was...and my father, and we were living proof that astrology was a bullshit flim-flam because though the three of us were born on the same day we were nothing alike--I was born after my mother was in her middle thirties and my old man was already kicking on the door of 40--by the time I was a teenager, I thought of my parents as really old. My teachers at school were young things right out of teachers's colleges and they were the mothers I started looking to for motherly and womanly and girl-handling advice--these were the women I started flirting with and acting childish and cute around--especially the really young ones who seemed much more my age than my mother did. My father, hell, he was a loose goose--"Men don't kiss!" he told me every time I tried to kiss him. Fuck kissing his ass then, so I tried kissing my mother--she couldn't kiss for shit--kept her lips scrunched up too tight. I saw my mother in her underwear once and I felt nothing--I remember cruelly how she had a hole in her panties over her ass crack. That really turned me off.

I thought my mother was dumb and moving always against me, denying me the things I craved, though she always eventually gave in and let me do whatever it was I wanted to do--and another thing that turned me against her was when I started listening to my brother's swing records and then I started playing like those records on our piano--and then after I started taking piano lessons and making gold stars out the ass for my exceptional progress in learning piano theory and then composition and then turning on Bach and Chopin and switcherooing to boogie-woogie and I became a little boogie-woogie wonderboy (I am no longer facile enough to play boogie--I've turned modal on the swinging-rocking eight-to-the-bar beat--cool, broad, progressive chords and shit now are my passion--but my mother never offered me any encouragement in my music and that really pissed me off--nor did she show any interest in my writing after I started writing--in fact, on the music scene, my mother would come out of retirement as a pretty damn fine stride pianist to compete openly with me after I'd gotten up and done my boogie act--I'd do my little boogie act to great yee-haw and seal-flapping applause and then the crowd would turn their backs on me and tease my mother into getting up and playing the Devil's music long enough to cut my little boogie-ing ass--she always went to her forte piece, W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues," which she could wail on--but I resented her playing like that, upstaging me, and I finally worked and worked on my playing until one day I was able to play nooselike circles around my mom's pianoplaying neck!

Then when once my mother got a hold of a Sociology book I had spent my hard-earned college allowance on buying I wanted to read it so bad and she read the whole book in one night and then wrote me a 4-page criticism of the book, I suddenly realized my mother wasn't a dumbass. Of course her criticism came from the religious right--she called herself an "independent" in terms of her Christianity--she was culturally higher than the fundies and the Holy Rollers, who she despised as outrageous and white trash exhibitionists--my mother privately was having sex with Jesus Christ, who became her master and husband after she threw off secular fun--like my mom and dad were prize-winning dancers at one time--but after my mother married old Jesus Christ, that was it for reasoning--and though my mother's criticism of this wonderful Sociology book was based on her Christian narrowness it was brilliantly written--that surprised me--my mother was a pretty good thinker and wrote her thoughts down just like a writer--and then one day while prowling through her the drawers of her vanity, I found a notebook full of poems she'd secretly been writing on--she was actuallsy working on poems--crossing out lines and rewriting them--trying to rhyme--poems she struggled with though one or two lines were truly high-class poetic though they were brought down by maybe a next line that was juvenile and deteriorating in terms of her completing one of her poems. Later, after I'd left home, my mother became editor of the Texas School Lunchroom Workers Association newsletter--and as editor she published two of her poems in one issue--she also wrote a long article on improving school lunches through nutrition--my mother in her early fifties went to college and obtained her Associate Degree in Nutrition from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and was at the height of her new career when she was killed at age 59.

My mother and dad's funeral was a dumbass farce--the joint was packed--my father's old girlfriends all traipsed down the aisle and threw themselves weeping and wailing over what they thought was my dad's casket--the caskets remained closed because of the shape of their banged up, maimed, and mangled bodies--but in actuality these women were throwing themselves over my mother's casket. I laughed when I saw that. There was my cousin bonehead, I called her, bonehead because she was a very beautiful woman, but she was double-hick-dumb like her father, my dad's brother the murderer, and she was so dumb at one time in her life she had to do some hard time down in the Texas Penitentiary in Huntsville--a tough bitch, but like I said, beautiful, and my old man couldn't resist a beautiful well-built young woman not even if she was his niece! And bonehead threw herself all over my mother's casket wailing out my dad's name and weeping her alcohol-stained tears all over my mother's casket, too--and finally I couldn't take it and I laughed out unholy loud as hell and I said, "See y'all later, I'm hungry, going to the house, adios" and I took my hot young wife who was also wearing sunglasses and a little black dress--hot damn, and we fled that funeral and went back to my parents's house and chowed down on the casseroles and hams and things folks had brought over after the families had gathered from all over the US--and we ate our asses off and then we went out and got into my mother's Farini Nash whose frontseat went back and fit into the backseat and made a perfect bed and my wife and I had that Nash a rockin' up-tempo--just like one of those up-tempo records old Casey Cassem always had to talk about somebody dying after coming out of them.

Now when I remember my mother I'm a little kinder and more respectful. I've been to her grave once since she was buried--and that was 20-plus years ago when my brother and a journalist friend and I went out to my hometown and I got the bright idea to film a Budweiser commercial over my parents's grave--and we were all so drunk I couldn't hold the camera steady and didn't feel like getting my tripod out of my brother's van and we ended up toasting each other and then saying a little tribute to my family--seven of them buried there--and the space next to my mother's grave? "That's your space," my brother said, "Mother and Dad bought 7 plots back in the twenties"--1 for mother, 1 for dad, 1 for the brother my mother lost when he was 6-months-old, 1 for my mother's mother, 1 for my mother's grandmother, and 1 for my brother--except my step-grandfather, the New York City-born Dutchman, had been buried in my brother's plot--and 1 for me--"yes, that plot right there by mother is the seventh plot, your plot--where you're destined to be buried." My brother was jamming me one--he had already told me he was going to be buried on an old friend's West Texas ranch, in the ranch cemetery there--and when he died, sure 'nuff, they trucked his body out to far West Texas and buried him up on a hill over looking a huge expanse of wild prairie full of purple sage and distant horizons. My grave plot still lies out there by my mother's bones, at the foot of my grandmother's bones, with the tiny box of the tiny bones of my never-known brother who died as a baby in his tiny grave topped with the small marble headstone--and the dry winds blow raspingly through the old bulky large cedar trees at the four corners of my family's plots--strange whining winds--calling winds, except, I'm so far away now from that place, I'll never know if I make back there or not--it is supposedly meant to be the place I'm supposed to want to be buried.

No, sorry; the real Thomas Wolfe the real writer was so right when he coined the cliche that says "You can't go home again." Only angels look homeward.

for The Daily Growler

PS: As predicted yesterday, I just watched a newscast from New Orleans. It concerned New Orleaneans returning today and trying to get back into town and their homes. Where was this report coming from: from 1) a National Guard checkpoint and 2) a New Orleans Police Dept. checkpoint, both turning people around--not allowing them back into the city--the mayor, Ray Tom Nagin, was saying he was gonna keep the folks out for at least another couple of days--can you imagine this--these people are rushing back to New Orleans, the people who refused to evacuate were putting the word out that the damage was minimal and in fact it was only some tree limbs down and that today it wasn't even raining, it was bright and shiny--but NO, Nagin is not allowing people back into New Orleans--New Orleans is a police and National Guard state right now--Nagin says they need a couple of days to access the damage--then they showed a group of National Guard fools combing through a neighborhood--Wow, what a fucking trick-bag job the fucking bigshots did to the sucker citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast from Louisiana through Mississippi, Alabama, over to the Florida border. Nagin's excuse and the Governor's, a little right-wing weasel, is trumpeting this, too, for keeping folks away from their homes this time is that it's still not safe in New Orleans--a levee could still breach and holy hell could suddenly come rushing in through that breach--and then the teevee reporter sort of casually added that insurance companies were saying storm and wind insurance wouldn't apply to evacuees--you see, by evacuating, these people left their property unprotected so these insurance companies say that means by evacuating these people left their property vulnerable to storm and water damage--so soon these New Orleaneans will find insurance is not going to cover what damages they have suffered--damages they'll find out about when they are let back in and they find a city/parish condemnation notice tacked to their front doors--their property is condemned and being taken over by Donald Trump! So now, every time a hurricane is headed anywhere near New Orleans, those poor hundreds of thousands of people--the mayor says 2 million, though New Orleans is only about 300,000 at best--will be ordered to evacuate--and like lemmings, they will obey--Amurican people are such cowards--such sissies--so fucking POWERLESS!

Remember, Katrina didn't kill those 1,700 people who lost their lives in its wake--nope, the sloppy upkeep of those levees and their eventually breaching killed those people--if the levees had have been of the right size and in up-to-date repair, not many lives would have been lost, if any. Now hurricanes have become political!!!!


1 comment:

Marybeth said...

Thank you old Growly-pants. The parent-child relationship is insane to begin with and then death comes galloping in and there are too many feelings all at once. My mother wore her little angel pin in the casket, 'cause she always wore it, and we took it off her before she was sent to the crematorium, and were putting it on the alter we created for her, her piano that she bought with her own money when she was 18, bit by bit, over the months, with the money she earned at her crappy stenographer's job, and my little sister said, "Ah Ma. She was so cute", --pause-- "when she wasn't beating the shit out of us." And I just cracked up laughing. Yeah, I'm going nuts, but your post was sweet and made me laugh and thank you for that.

love, thewomantrumpetplayer