Tuesday, September 08, 2009
A Man Named Lawrence...Or Was It Shaw? Or Was It Ross?
Lawrence of Arabia on his motorcycle as Private Shaw
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Not the last movie I've ever seen but one of the last movies I saw in a movie theater was "Lawrence of Arabia," a massively filmed epic filmed in some wondrous areas of Arabia and featuring a host of holy stars and based loosely on a book by a pompous self-promoting early Movietone News newsman named Lowell Thomas called With Lawrence in Arabia.
I saw "Lawrence of Arabia" way back in the early seventies at the Rialto on Times Square in the Big Apple--when all the movie houses were on Times Square, currently being swamped by a bunch of bedbug-ridden chain hotels and several tacky looking buildings that are going up like 3-Mile Island mushrooms around this square that was never a square but rather a triangle. And speaking of max-tacky, hell, Times Square is about as max tacky as this world-famous meeting of streets and people has ever been in its history since our billionaire mayor, who has a fetish for malls, up and changed the traffic patterns of the square named after a newspaper and not "time"--this billionaire do-as-he-pleases mayor disrupted natural traffic patterns that were based on Broadway being the world's longest street, the streets around Times Square designed so as to leave Broadway to continue to follow the original Native American path that slices diagonally across Manhattan to run from the Wall of Wall Street all the way up past Poughkeepsie, New York. [Did you know the phrase "going up the river," meaning "being sent to prison" originally referred to convicts being sent by boat up the Hudson River to the famous prison at Ossining, New York, whose official name is Sing Sing? From Wikipedia: Ossining's original name, "Sing Sing", was named after the Native American Sinck Sinck tribe from whom the land was purchased in 1685.]
I must admit "Lawrence of Arabia," amazed me as a movie. Yes it did, with its fantastically grand camera sweeps of such brilliantly bold and threatening desert and mountain landscapes, a movie of wide-screen expanse, and, I thought, containing a superb acting job by Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence--O'Toole really did favor Lawrence--eerily so.
That's Peter O'Toole on the top and T.E. Lawrence on the bottom.
I still have a VHS copy of that film I watch maybe every 5 years or so--I'm sure the movie's great digitalized but I'm not that modern yet.
I was already a T.E. Lawrence enthusiast and had read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom before I saw the movie. I have always favored dudes like T.E. Lawrence in terms of my respect for their vast talents and their lives and life accomplishments using those talents. Lawrence was a well-educated man, an anthropologist by training, but also a linguist (Anthropology and Linguistics are rooted in Sociology) (they say he seemed to learn Arabic overnight), and a fine graphic artist and cartographer. He started out as a nobody, as a private in the British army at the beginning of Great Britain's last-ditch effort to save its Empire that ended up being called World War I. The Brits were going after command of the Red Sea sea routes but also, working out of Cairo, they went off to get the Arabs under control, to get control of their land and its wealth, especially after British geologists came back to the Shepherd's Hotel in Cairo telling of vast amounts of OIL being stored by Mother Earth under all those Arabian desert sand and land, perhaps the largest pool of OIL on the whole planet. SALVATION from the Earth as our Mother God--but then that goes against desert religious theology (the three great desert religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) that edicts that salvation only comes from "the heavens," the sky. Showing how religions are so scientifically backwards, since the salvation that comes from the heavens over deserts comes in the form of water. And how does that water get into the heavens? Don't be a heathen now and say it comes from the true God Sun and the true Mother God Earth cohabiting--water thereby given birth by the very earth on which spring deserts--all being under the command of the Great One and Only God SUN, the true big daddy of the heavens. The true giver of LIGHT, not the desert gods, Allah and Yahweh--on the other hand, I don't know the record of the other desert gods like Baal or the Egyptian made-up Nile Valley-protector gods--their gods of storm and thunder and lightning--or the ancient gods of the Mongols and the wandering tribes of the Hindu Kush or of the Great Gobi or the original gods of Afghanistan.
You notice we never concern ourselves over why OIL is a part of the planet in the first place. We assume it is pooled between the earth's fiery core (Hell) and the earth's crust due to it being "created" there by the various human-invented gods we see as our creators and therefore the earth's creators, too. These human-invented-for-the-sake-of-human-beings gods put OIL there for our particular use--to bring light to darkness, darkness being the human animal's greatest time of fear and mystery--due to night being in our instincts as that time of wariness when night predators like panthers and lions and tigers and hyenas are out looking for fresh meat for dinner--and to these (also) god-created beasts why not some tasty "big smart-ass monkey" meat like we humans represented when we first climbed down out of the trees and entered what now has become reality to us.
Energy to us means "producing electricity" (you can't fire up a combustible engine without a spark of electricity thrown off by the sparkplugs that are powered by the generator that makes electricity--and you need both oil and water to produce electricity and to also cool down the extreme heat generated by electricity-producing dynamos (generators))--and electricity gave us more light than we'd ever imagined possible without figuring out a way to lasso the sun and bring it down and break it up into commercial offerings.
The fundie Christians see Jesus X. Christ as "the light of the world." The Zoroastrians saw Mazda as the light of the world. Mazda the god of the continually burning flame as represented by the Sun. Zoroastrians worshipped in Temples of Fire. Tom Edison named his first lightbulb the Mazda after that Zoroastrian god that was the flaming human image of the Sun, our only true god--our fire altar in the sky. In Egypt, the Sun was the god Ra--Sun Ra the jazz musician of a long-gone-now past took the holy name of the Sun (Ra) as his own holy name and as leader of what he called his Arkestra.
Sun Ra (his real name was Herman Blount) wearing the Sun on his forehead.
So the solution to our energy crisis is found up in our astral space and not under the Earth's thin skin. It's found in the source of our true god, the Sun! The Sun should be our source of energy and not the earth's precious lubrication we call OIL.
Most of the wars we have fought since Edison invented the lightbulb (remember, according to our rewriting of history, our own crackpot scientist Ben Franklin discovered electricity) have been fought over LIGHT against darkness--over energy--over OIL. I contend even the Vietnam War was really a war for oil, especially after Michael Rockefeller, a geologist, told his poppy, old randy Nelson Rockefeller (he died with a big grin on his face after two girl toys treated him to a fine afternoon of up-close lovin'--his life ending just as he got a happy-ending blowjob) about tons of oil being under the Indo-China reefs. Michael then went on down into the Indonesia area, to Papua-New Guinea, looking for more oil. Instead, he disappeared, some say eaten by Papua-New Guinea cannibals--and I'm sure he made a RICH meal, too--all that good Rockefeller-raised white meat!
Michael Rockefeller in Papua-New Guinea. That kid could be saying to him, "My daddy says he's fattening you up for Thanksgiving dinner...yum-yum."
Just think of how wonderfully ironic our planet is. Some animals fear the dark; some animals fear the daylight. Some things bloom at night; others wilt and die during daylight. A human without light is called a zombie.
After I read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, I became fascinated with his character, and a character old T.E. was, too. At the time I read that tome I was immersing myself in the life and works of D.H. Lawrence who I became interested in when I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and met and hung with writers, painters, and poets who had known and supped and traveled with D.H. during his time of living in Santa Fe (with the poet Witter Bynner) and then of living on his ranch up in Taos--up there surrounded by women throwing themselves at him. He wrote during his time there that the only female he could tolerate after a while was his cow. All of D.H.'s women wrote books about him, Mabel Dodge Lujan (Lorenz) and Dorothy Brett (Lawrence and Brett, a Friendship) and, of course, his Brunhilde wife Frieda (a real German broad). Dorothy went on to become a Taos celebrity as a painter--not a very good painter, but a painter whose paintings now, I'm sure, out in the Santa Fe chic-chic galleries sell for tens of thousands of dollars. D.H. was a painter, too, remember, a much more interesting painter than Dorothy Brett.
During my time in Santa Fe, too, I got my hands on Witter Bynner's Journey With Genius and devoured it. A finely written book about Bynner and his companion and, yes, lover, Spud Johnson (a great friend of Ezra Pound's who actually got Ezra to contribute a column to the Santa Fe New Mexican back in the 1920s called "Ez Sez") traveling with D.H. down to their home in Chiapas, Mexico.
In this book Bynner describes how D.H. wrote his Mexican novel The Plumed Serpent (a pretty weird and I think magnificent novel--though it's highly castigated by the literary elite, of which I ain't one, thank you). Bynner said that Lawrence wrote by hand out under a tree in their yard. He wrote from early morning all day into the afternoons. Bynner observed that as soon as Lawrence finished a draft--and this novel isn't a shorty--it's a tome--he would cast it aside and begin writing the second draft immediately. Bynner said he once glanced at what Lawrence was writing on the second draft and compared it to the first draft and he said it was word for word the same. Lawrence wrote 4 drafts of The Plumed Serpent while with Bynner and Spud in Mexico.
After T.E. Lawrence finished his first draft of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (he once claimed he had started this book before the war but he had destroyed it--burned it)--and it was a huge handwritten manuscript--and as he was traveling about--it was during the Paris Peace Talk years and Lawrence was traveling back and forth from London to Paris--and during one of these trips he accidentally left his briefcase containing his complete manuscript in the Reading train station. Though it became a national emergency and all the newspapers carried the story and offered rewards for anyone finding the manuscript it never turned up. Staunchly regrouping his emotions, Lawrence then set out to write it all over again. He ended up writing it over at least 5 times. The original manuscript had been 250,000 words. The rewritten book zoomed up to 400,000 words. Lawrence sent the book around to be read by some of the greatest writers in England at that time, including G.B. Shaw and Thomas Hardy (Hardy and Lawrence were good friends) before he released it for publication.
D.H. Lawrence's Women
Dorothy Brett (L) (courtesy Yale Library); Mabel Dodge Luhan (R)
Above is Ottoline Morrell: this woman was of the privileged class due to her brother's inheriting a dukedom--she was cousin to a future King's wife--with plenty of conspicuous time and wealth to dabble in the arts by becoming a patron of the arts and salon mistress and hostess to meetings of the Bloomsbury Group of artists--very influential in the London literary and beaux artes circles of the 1920s into the 30s (Ottoline died in 1938). It was she who invited D.H. Lawrence into the Bloomsbury Group and he was an active member for a while in London until during WWI he was looked upon suspiciously by the British War Department as certainly a draft dodger, which he was, but since he was married to a Prussian woman and she certainly must be a Prussian spy then he certainly, too, was probably also a German spy. D.H. had to move out to the tip of Cornwall in a wild and lonely place to get away from the British Government, an harassment that continued most of his pale life in England and ended in him fleeing England to wander the world, going around the world with his German wife to Australia, to Ceylon, then to New Mexico, then to Mexico, then back to Europe where he ended up in Italy in a villa--and where he eventually died of what was said to be tuberculosis, which he'd probably had all his life--he grew up in the coal fields around Northampton--weak as a child--but staunchly strong in his desires and feelings and ambitions--writing as if he was born to write--supporting himself as a schoolteacher until his first novel hit and he became a true literary figure in a day when writers could become celebrities--something that may have ended with the late great self-promoting not-that-great-a-writer Truman Garcia Capote (don't get me wrong, his books Other Voices, Other Rooms and The Grass Harp I totally enjoyed and thought very well written. Even Breakfast at Tifany's amused me but by then Truman was beginning to wear glitter and wanting glamorous attention and letting his fame become his trademark--Truman in actuality was Holly Golightly).
Though Ottoline and D.H. supposedly never had an affair, she wrote him very alluring letters and he conversed with her and was fascinated enough by her he used her as the model for Hermione in Women in Love, a tough novel that I might imagine women hate--when, if I remember correctly, it is really about men loving men. Though Ottoline was married to Phillip Morrell her whole life, and had a daughter, Julian, with him, she wasn't faithful to him. She openly admitted to affairs with Bertrand Russell (he writes about her in his autobiography) and the painter Augustus Johns. Frieda Lawrence herself became an easily accessible sexual object at those Bloomsbury affairs, writing in her after-D.H.'s-death book that all the couples in the Bloomsbury Group were fucking around--several of the women doing each other, to boot. For instance, Ottoline admitted to having an affair with Aldous Huxley's wife. Frieda wrote that she had had to fight off sexual advances by most of the men in the group herself, except in Middleton Murry's book he wrote about Lawrence he intimated he'd made it with Frieda.
John Middleton Murry had married the writer, Kathryn Mansfield. His adoration of her while she was alive and then his grief at her dying early in life and their marriage had screwed with his mind and left him steeping himself in mysticism and goofball religions. Kathryn Mansfield, in fact, died at a Gurdjieff Center for Human Life or some such nonsensical brand name for G. I. Gurdjieff's snake-oil-swami solutions to the problems of life.
Murry knew Lawrence well and was a big promoter of him when he first came to London. They even started a magazine together. But supposedly he had a little extra lovin' left in him for Frieda--an affair Frieda never denied. Later, after Lawrence's death, Frieda married an Italian Army lieutenant she had met and had an affair with while Lawrence was dying in an Italian hospital. It was the lieutenant who later got the Italian government to release Lawrence's remains to her so she could bring his ashes back to New Mexico and bury them in a handcrafted mausoleum in a concrete casket sitting on its own little altar--awaiting for D.H. the Phoenix to arise from his ashes and write once again. Frieda is buried just outside that little mausoleum just in front of the entrance to that sacred room, still guarding her Lorenz.
Lawrence and Lawrence--yes, on parallel lines with themselves and with me. T.E. Lawrence was born August 16, 1888. D.H. Lawrence was born September 11, 1885. I'm an August child--with a Virgo classification same as someone born on September 11--though neither T.E. nor D.H. believed in astrology and neither do I. I do believe that the season you're born in matters--like being born in the summer like the Lawrences and me makes us more romantic--but that's probably bullshit--more than likely.
T.E. Lawrence first changed his name to T.E. Shaw. Under this name he gave us a translation of Homer's The Odyssey--not a good one but not a bad one either according to Simon Loehkle (a New York City radio personality whose passion is giving lectures and readings of his favorite classical literatures with an expertise in James Joyce (in terms of Joycean peculiarities) and who claims he has read more than just several translations of The Odyssey). T.E. changing his name twice was enough for me, a lover of many identities, but T.E. Shaw later became 352087 A/c2 John Hume Ross (RAF)--and then becoming T.E. Shaw again later when the Brit Air Force reassigned him to the Tank Corps. It was while being John Hume Ross that Lawrence became fascinated with motorcycles, especially Brough Superior bikes, of which he owned seven near the end of his life. His life ended near his cottage in Dorset when the Brough SS-100 he was riding too fast skidded off the road and that was the end of the fastly and independently lived life of T.E. Lawrence, T.S. Shaw, and J.H. Ross--they died as one.
I rode on a motorcycle one time. In college. On the back of a brand new Indian driven by one Pedro Parker, a bongo-playing, leather-wearing, jazz hanger-on, life-gulping dude from Fort Worth, Texas, where his family had a very successful chicken ranch. That ride on that motorcycle that night, with egomaniac Pedro Parker determined to give me a thrill, gave me such a thrill, once I got safely off the god-damn thing, I swore on the bible of my fear of death that I would never ever again ride a fucking motorcycle. I've stayed true to that vow ever since. The same thing happened to me in relation to riding a horse, but that's another tale for another time. [Mr. Ed: I'm sure the man who says he's a wolf meant he had a "horsetail" to spin at another time. I whinny my most famous horse laugh at him. Neigh, brother, neigh.]
for The Daily Growler
We here at The Daily Growler knew that Jimmy Guiffre had been very ill with Parkinson's up in Massachusetts but we somehow overlooked Jimmy's passing back in 2008.
thegrowlingwolf: I actually met Jimmy Guiffre one time briefly in the Music Department rehearsal hall at North Texas State University. NTSU was Jimmy's alma mater, graduating from North Texas State Teachers College in 1942 as a music major. Jimmy Guiffre played an instrumental role in putting North Texas on the jazz map when he along with Stan Kenton set up the first Jazz Music Department (the first Master's of Jazz degree) and organized the first Jazz Lab Band the school became world famous for in jazz band competitions from the late forties through the fifties on into the 60s until the Beatles arrived in this country and jazz pretty much petered out except for the diehards like Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes and Art Taylor, dudes like that who tried to keep jazz going--Miles hanging on the longest on up to his final band in the 1970s.
Anybody who knew anything about jazz knew who Jimmy Guiffre was. We knew Jimmy really loved jazz, you know, cherished it as a unique American music form, a homegrown form of music, grown right out of the good ole American slave-worked soil, a mixture of ancient music, aboriginal music with the contemporary rhythms of the 20th Century, the century of mobility, of escape from the enslavements of the 19th Century, escape from the Old South via the new rails running down from Chicago to New Orleans and over to Mobile, Alabama, and way down into the Deep South and down through Tennessee and Virginia and over into North Carolina and Gawjah--all the way from Chicago via rail down to Key West, Florida, at one time. And along those railroad tracks not only went this special music but as it went it picked up new rhythms, the rhythms of the rails, the clickity-clack of the coaches riding along being pulled at 60 miles and hour by a big steam-powered iron horse, the punctuations of the hollers of the conductors calling out the stations, the tunes beginning on the notes of those lonesome steam train whistles--long lonesome pulls on those cords that released the stream of steam through those brass steam whistles--some of them bellowously-deep roars, some of them high and lonesome, all of them suggestive of moving on and going to new places, to new heights, to new levels, to new....
And Jimmy Guiffre came to fame back in the late 50s with a trio thing he called "The Train and the River." It featured Jimmy on clarinet, Jim Hall on guitar, and Ralph Pena on bass [it is interesting to note in Jimmy's NYTimes Obituary Ralph Pena is named Ralph Pea]--and it was just like a train running alongside a river, filled with the different musics, blues, heard as that train travels along that river--from town to town, from swinging blues to counterpuntal blues to be-bop. The Jimmy Guiffre Three were featured in the famous 1957 CBS "Omnibus" teevee show entitled "The Sound of Jazz" doing "The Train and the River." I can still hum it in my head--pretty much every movement of it--it's a cool little suite dream of a piece of music.
Jimmy had become famous in jazz back in the WWII-era forties when he was an arranger for the Woody Herman Thundering Herd and was the composer of the famous Woody Herman classic "Four Brothers," the tune that made Woody's sax front line famous: Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Herbie Stewart, and Serge Chaloff became known as The Four Brothers.
Jimmy was involved in the first jazz guys to call themselves "Cool," the West Coast jazz movement led by Jimmy, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Russ Freeman, Claude Williamson, Shelly Manne, and Howard Rumsey, the bass player who also was the boss at the famous Hermosa Beach, California, Lighthouse, from which every Sunday afternoon Rumsey ran jam sessions featuring the above jazz artists along with all kinds of special guests including Max Roach, a young Miles Davis, and a very young Chet Baker.
In the 50s, before "The Train and the River," Jimmy had put out his revolutionary album "Tangents in Jazz," featuring a pianoless quartet made up of Jimmy, Florida trumpeter, Jack Sheldon, bassist Ralph Pena, and a New York City drummer, Artie Anton, a swing band drummer.
Jimmy's clarinet style became sort of unique in its sound. It was couched in a very low register. When word was out Jimmy was going to be teaching clarinet at Berkeley one year, some jazz man said, "So who's gonna be teachin' the upper register?" It gave Jimmy a very distinctive style which he took full advantage of on "The Train and the River."
At the end of "The Sound of Jazz," the show ends with a jam featuring Jimmy Guiffre and the great Peewee Russell, himself a truly wackily unique clarinet man who played in streams up and down and in and out of registers, playing the blues against each other.
I'm sorry to hear that Jimmy finally had to give up against Parkinson's--a horrible disease for anybody who uses their hands and the power of their lungs to make a clarinet work at its high-end best for their living. Near the end Jimmy was pretty much immobile yet he persevered on like a good jazz man should--the tunes and the different ways to play them still jumbling through his musical mind.
I raise a growler of the finest ale to my jazz mentor and fellow Texan (Jimmy was from Dallas) and fellow North Texas State alumini.
Here's a YouTube of Jimmy Guiffre Playing "The Train and the River"--No, Folks, It Wasn't a Folk Song!
From L Hat at www.languagehat.com comes a very funny 1961 interview with Shel Silverstein--I think it's Paul Krasner interviewing Shel for the Realist: