Of course I am embarrassed at being caught in such a scandalous gender change as I was in the Tuesday (Feb. 2) Growler (in my tribute to J.D. Salinger), though I'm just as embarrassed by revealing how many of the things I fly over by the seat of my pants are so incorrectly mapped on my flight plans. If I look down and see a huge scar on the earth's surface, I might write, "Wow, I flew over the Grand Canyon this morning and was disappointed in how not awesome it was." Then the radio control tower radios me that my position was not over the Grand Canyon as I wrote but I was several thousand miles off course and I was actually flying over a ditch along US Highway 8o, the highway on which I was born flying by the seat of my pants.
Music is what threw me off course in life (meaning: able to fuck up a factual remembrance in favor of a spontaneous response that is half wrong).
As a young piano student, I soon sat on that piano bench and self-analyzed myself deciding I was destined to be a cultural sociopath. I wanted to be a pianist, yes. I was already picking out tunes of my own creation on a piano prior to taking piano lessons and was raising eyebrows I was showing so much idiot-savant promise. But then when I started taking piano lessons, from a woman who looked like my mother (let's get Freudian), that's when I started defining myself as an advanced cultural sociopath, a maturing cultural agnostic. I started defining myself in terms of the self I saw when looking in the looking glass of those approaching me--of those trying to instruct me (Charles Horton Cooley's brilliant "Looking Glass Theory"--see footnote below sign off below), which led me to see myself, and as I found out society would see me, too, as a full-fledged Non-Conformist!
For instance, if I were not practicing my piano lessons and started doodling out a pretty firm boogie-woogie of my own bringing forth--playing my boogie instead of practicing the Chopin etude I'd been assigned to learn. If my mother or my piano teacher (they looked alike) corrected me--like saying, "Go back to your Chopin, sonny boy, and quit wasting your time playing that old Devil's music!"--then in rebuttal, I determined to overlearn boogie-woogie and fuck Chopin and my mother and my piano teacher who looked like my mother anyway. This attitude tarried over into everything I did from then on--a determination from right then on to fuck conformity. Conformity meant I had to like and perform music that my parents and my piano teacher could understand and take pride in bragging about how much input they had had on my being the greatest living interpreter of Chopin's piano music or of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier or of Tchaikovsky piano concertos.
I know I've told the story before but maybe not so roundly of how one day I arrived at my piano teacher's for my piano lesson and there was another woman there--a woman my piano teacher's age who also looked like my mother. My piano teacher introduced me to the woman and said she wanted me to play my assignment piece for this Mrs. Cliburn from Longview or Kilgore or somewhere like that--I knew it was over in East Texas somewhere. I wasn't shy so I whipped through my assignment piece--a Bach WTK exercise probably. I rushed it. I rushed everything in those days. It was the boogie-woogie in me--you see. The non-conformity in me. At the end of the Bach I had so much energy left I blusterishly started wailing the Bach line in boogie.
My God, you'd a thought I'd a'taken my dick out and flashed it at these two women who looked like my mother. This Mrs. Cliburn came over to the piano and pinched me on the cheek (God, I hated that--I was told by my mother it was because I had cute dimples and cute dimples tempted mothers to want to pinch them--lovingly). "You played Bach so lovely, " she cosily said. "My best advice to you is, stay with Bach, sonny boy. Let Bach guide your hands to perfect pianistic pleasure" (of course I'm putting words in her mouth, but she was as buttery or syrupy as that--however she worded it that afternoon). With this elderly advice, she chortled on toward the door and was soon gone.
My piano teacher came back beaming! "Little Master Wolfe, you know who that woman is?" "No, mam." "Her son, Van, is going to be the next Rachmaninoff, the next Rubenstein, the next Horowitz. You should listen to Mrs. Cliburn and stay with your Bach. I was embarrassed when you played that awful old jazz while she was here." That did it. Fuck playing Bach. Fuck playing Chopin. Fuck playing exactly like my mother, my piano teacher, and this Mrs. Cliburn from Longview or Kilgore, and her son, Van. They wanted me to play Bach--and I was gonna play what I wanted to play--boogie-woogie for the moment.
And by golly, there she is, Van's mother--she who pinched my sweet dimpled cheek one summer afternoon in Dallas, Texas.
So through my music I learned I was a Nonconformist. That's why I fell so readily into the arms of Madame Zzaj--Duke Ellington's mother of Jazz--wasn't she impregnated by the Drum?--Jazz was a totally improvised music--an improvised music free of Bach and Chopin--with improvisations that sounded like they were coming from an ancient distance and not Europe--improvisations based on heartbeat (instinctual) rhythms and harmonious oneness--into the swinging drones, wails, chants, sing-songs, accompanied by the polyrhythmic writhings, shaking the hips in polytonal abstract directions--directions within directions--and when I'm deep into a jazz improvisation--I'm lost within my deepest well of a self that only the lacing together or laddering together of long measures of improvised progression to find my way out of the well and into the light of day (somebody's ears perhaps) dressed in the character of an accomplished pianist. By my teenage years, I'm totally conforming to my nonconforming self's needs--I'm rocking my solar plexus in the bosom of my own Abraham. And from jazz came my politics.
"YOU WILL BELIEVE IN GOD!" I was ordered by my parents and their adversaries in the Christian church sales departments. "Oh yeah!" I smoked back, "Let me tell you how I feel: Fuck God! I don't see no God? 'Hey, God, this is the little Wolfe boy defying your ass! How 'bout a bolt of lightning to prove me a liar!'" Of course there was no bolt of lightning. Only my father's belt when I got too defiant of God, country, and the police. My father as he laid into me with his "Jesus Is Love" belt said, "As the Good Book says, sonny boy, spare the rod and spoil the child, so hold on, here comes some Holy Spirit." WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit had me running for the Atheist Mountains. I couldn't conform to such barbaric means of teaching truth.
So my generation was not the generation of rebels without causes--that generation represented by Marlon Brando and James Dean and Robert Lindner's analysis (though I loved reading Rebel Without a Cause and Lindner's 50-Minute Hour); nope, my generation had a cause behind its rebellion. The cause was the determination not to conform to anything without first thoroughly playing it as many different ways as there were keys on a piano. Conformity I quickly denoted as wasted time and wasted devotion to long-ago proven wrong solutions to the problems of evolution--wasted time and devotion to learning morals, to trying to understand and make fact out of religious hocus-pocus, to learning "good" manners, to respecting God, country, and the local law enforcement agencies, all of that and also being expected to "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" and the way they teach you to go. In other words, follow in your parents's footsteps, the first commandment of Conformity.
In my case I was supposed to follow in my father's footsteps. My father's faltering footsteps. To follow in his footsteps was to fail. I easily recognized that by the time I was 6 or 7. To follow in my mother's footsteps would have made me a mamma's boy. I never liked my mother--didn't even think of her as a woman--she was "Mother." I quickly learned the kind of love I was expected to show my mother was an abstract one and not a primal one as instinctively I tried to have sex-love with my mother but couldn't get it up for her or feel lust for her (OK, I know, it's Freudian, but I didn't deduce it theoretically when I was developing--I hadn't read Freud at 2, when I started figuring these kindred-love relationships out). I wasn't about to be a mamma's boy. I wanted to develop on my own cognition.
All of that self-analysis just to return to the reason for this post, my embarrassment at being caught at such a fuck up in terms of changing Franny Glass into Zooey Glass in terms of forgetting, having not looked at the book probably since it hit the bookstores in 1961 (I was in my Holden Caulfield state then), that Franny stayed Franny in both stories, and because out of all of Salinger's women, what man doesn't wanna make it with Franny?--even her cat Bloomberg has the hots for her and crawls up between her legs while she's stretched out in a bathing suit--"...he's absolutely mad about me."
And last night I found my copy of Franny & Zooey (it has an S. Klein pricetag in it--$2.65--yes, S. Klein on the Square (Union Square) was still in business when I moved to NYC) and started rereading it. I read enough Zooey to realize the idiocy of my blunder--my having forgotten the whole Glass tree under which the Franny story evolves and under which the whole of Zooey develops and the shattering of Glasses is really getting loud as Zooey Glass's wise-ass story emerges!
In rereading Franny & Zooey, I suddenly had this realization: how overwhelmingly influenced we are by the Ivy League ways of thinking and classifying and expecting. How ruled over we are by Ivy League graduates.
What got me thinking this way really was in the beginning of Franny. Franny arrives in New Haven on the train up from New York City. Her current boyfriend Lane is a Yaley and has been anticipating her arrival to join him for the big Yale-Harvard football game weekend. After she disembarks from the train she starts talking about the other girls on the train, playing a game as she rode along bored with them of judging by their individual behavior which Ivy League women's college they attended. She admits this is how she judges her best friends as well. For instance, one girl on the train who stayed in the train's toilet for an excessive length of time Franny determined was a Bennington girl, commenting that the girl was in the toilet so long because she was probably in there sculpting or painting--doing something arty. As I read this, I started chuckling to myself. I could personally vouch for Franny's comment about Bennington girls being artsy-fartsy types by referencing two rather involved love affairs I had with two Bennington girls back in wild-life 1970s. The first Bennington girl with whom I spent one summer of happiness, a Texas-born girl whose father was the US ambassador to a Central American country, was a graduate Pottery major. She had her own private kiln set up in the woods just off the Bennington campus and had a catalog of her pottery designs printed up as her Master's thesis. The other Bennington girl I had an affair with was simply too rich to have a major--she was directly kin to the Rockefellers--though when she talked about her life at Bennington, she declared she was working toward a degree in the Theater Arts. I'm not mocking this young woman--in fact, I found her a wonderfully down-to-earth young woman to be so fucking rich who saw something in me that made her fall stalkingly madly in love with me that same summer I was trolloping around with the ambassador's daughter. To be quite frank with you all, I could have had a partial wedge of that Rockefeller pie, folks, had I realized just how hoi-poloi this young lady was. I mean she wasn't bad to look at and she was warm and very loving toward me--but, like I've tried to convince you, in my head at that time I would have considered living off a rich wife beneath my nonconforming dignity.
There's one of my "wives" that I very seldom mention--for a reason--it involves a lot of denial--besides, the woman bitterly hates me now--and "I'm too young to die" as the old bluesmen used to sing when trying to resolve troubles they had with their old ladies--and besides, hey, with the destruction of Haiti and all its records, I could still be legally married to the Welsh-Mexican-Choctaw lady, wife Numero Dos--so I don't want to be accused of bigamy. I will, however, mention that this unmentionable wife fits perfectly into this discussion since she was a Sarah Lawrence grad. Where Bennington trains young rich girls in the arts & crafts, Sarah Lawrence considers itself a promoter of liberal women intellectuals--especially women writers and poets--my particular sidekick studying writing with E. L. Doctorow, who, as she quipped, was on a sabbitical most of the term--though he did check in once or twice and give a lecture, as she would add, "...with his hat still on and his bags still packed and waiting for him by the door."
One more parallel line I'm on with Ivy League graduates, my only niece went to Smith. She has a Smith attitude about life, too, though she claims she's not that kind of woman, dammit! A Smith attitude is one of making rich girls smart enough to marry Harvard men--so Smithies evolve from a Smith attitude into a Harvard attitude about life--and my niece spent her final years at Harvard (a feat of hers of which I'm very proud, though she will berate the hell of me for writing about this aspect of her fabulous life. I tell her, hell, you had your own Wolf attitude built in to you--as a Wolfe-woman, you ended up much smarter than a Harvard man).
And Smith girls are so different from Sarah Lawrence and Bennington girls. They're first of all politically rightwing. Bennington and Sarah Lawrence girls can be the daughters of lefties and anarchists and such.
[And, yes, I'm aware that most Ivy League women's colleges are now coed. I was once sort-of friends, though I saw him every day for a while, with the first male graduate of Vassar College up in Poughkeepsie from which he was turned out as a Futurist--Also, didn't the Steely Dan dudes meet at Vassar? Somebody will fact-check that statement, I'm sure.]
Since Teddy Roosevelt, we've had 19 presidents, ten of whom went to Ivy League schools--mostly to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. JFK transferred all over the place, from London School of Economics to Stanford to Princeton to Harvard. Two of our presidents, Woody Wilson and Ike Eisenhower, were presidents of Ivy League colleges: Woody: Princeton; Ike: Columbia University (the story I heard was Columbia really wanted Ike's brother, Milton, who at the time was President of the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League school, don't forget), but somehow Ike thought they meant him and he accepted--I can't imagine Ike as president of any college much less an Ivy League college--Columbia U, by the way, originally was a Brit college--it was called King's College. WKCR is Columbia U's radio station. Those call letters stand for King's College Radio.
President Obama attended two Ivy League schools, starting at Columbia, then going on to Harvard Law, where he became editor of the Harvard Law Review. In fact-checking this portion of this post, I was surprised to see that President Obama while in Chicago attended the University of Chicago Law School--no wonder he defends Neo-Conservative Trotskyite ideas!
But just look at Obama's advisors and cabinet crowd--Larry Summers (Harvard)(as president of Harvard Larry was a total failure--a dunce of an educator--he was fired by the students and teachers there)--Larry being an Ivy League Economics major--kin, I'm pretty sure, to the late Paul Samuelson. Then there's reconfirmed Treasury head and money-printing fool, Timmy Boy Geithner--he's a Dartmouth grad--snooty Dartmouth--Timmy Boy trained as a Civil Servant--what poor little rich boys with no ambitions except what their father's force on them end up majoring in--getting a Civil Servant degree from Dartmouth means you are suited for an easy fucking high-paying job with the diplomatic corps or to becoming a future Sec'y of the US Treasury. And, of course, that old meistercigardiddling ex-President Slick Willie Clinton got himself an Ivy League degree--and so did Little Miss Hillary, too, after she did her undergraduate work at the Ivy League girls school for quirky girls, Wellesley.
From fabiusmaximus here's the whole bunch of these Ivy League rascals in Obama's cabinet and advising him (and it includes wife Michelle) and now ruling us (how weird was it to see that Rahm Emmanuel is a Sarah Lawrence graduate!--wow, I'm laughing my ass off):
Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).
The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).What we tend to forget, is that Harvard and Yale started off as religious schools--schools of divinity. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton at one time also were all-White Male-only institutions. Blacks for damn sure weren't allowed on campus except as slaves and servants to the rich asshole White sons of the rich asshole White Power Elites--the aristocratic forefathers we so give honor to as great men of decency and democracy, an honor none of these White Men can live up to if you put them under a historical-research magnifying glass.
Check Out This Ivy League Christian Union (Dumb Christian Backwards Thinking--"Rah-Rah-Rah, JESUS!")
Why focus on the Ivy League? Here the Christian Union has a pragmatic vision. It recognizes that graduates from these universities are disproportionately influential in the world. (Consider the fact that eight of nine Supreme Court Justices graduated from Ivy League Schools, as did George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. FYI: John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy.) If students of the Ivy League can be drawn to Christ and encouraged to live out their faith in action, this will have a major impact on the world, according to the Christian Union.
What a brilliant idiot this Mark D. Roberts. But, hey, this idiot is correct about infiltrating our future Ivy League rulers with the 2,000-year-old Judaic-voodoo religion called Christianity.
Some of the heavy thinkers I respect didn't finish college--some of them didn't even finish high school. Eric Hoffer. Henry Miller. Ernest Hemingway. But, and I must admit to this, a lot of the heavy thinkers I do respect went to Ivy League schools. F. Scott Fitzgerald (he was so out of place at Princeton). Philip Wylie. Gertrude Stein (just think, Gertrude went to Harvard--a Jewish girl at White Christian Harvard--studying pragmatism under America's own pragmatist, William James). Norman Mailer. Most of my professors in college were either Harvard or Yale PhDs. I also had an unusual lot of University of Chicago PhDs in my college careers, one of whom taught me Economics--he probably knew Leo Strauss!
Oh my God! Connections. Look how easily we can connect ourselves to trends. There I was studying economics with a god-damn Trotskyite, one of the pupils of the professor from whence came the Neo-Conservative movement, and still I leaned toward Marx's sociological view of the class system and Capitalism and colonialism and provincialism and monopolies and oligarchies and cartels and plutocracies and plantations and masters and rulers and sovereigns and on and on and on into the history I have survived up until now and naturally rebelled against. Neo-Conservatives are ultra-Libertarians. They are national socialists. In other words, the economy and national wealth lead to the strongest nations and the strongest nations prove they're the strongest nations by a show of FORCE--a show of MONEY FORCE--and a big show of KILL FORCE!
I must abruptly interrupt myself and get off this Ivy League-dominance bullshit and...well, talk about eternal life and how the offering of eternal life is the trick bag that has led us to the brink of our own self-annihilation. I use as an example of what I mean, the profession of old Oral Roberts--who recently left the coil to go up and join Big Daddy and Jesus in runnin' Hebbin'. You can't knock old Oral if you really do believe in God and Capitalism. Think about it: Oral's old-timey-religion, rolling-in-the-ailses, speaking-in-tongues God let this old snake-oil peddler live 92 damn-good years. Plus, Oral's Eternal-Life-Jesus-flim-flam act left him rich as a god-damn rajah when he died and left all his wealth to his utterly worthless son, RICH-retard and his young-boy-teasin' wife, Lindsay ("Would you show Miss Lindsay your hard little boy tool if I were in your room naked? Praise the Lord!"). (I know all about these creeps--I grew up with them in West Texas and Oklahoma.)
Also, think about this, Oral was so privileged as a man who filed his preacher's license with the Federal government proving he got his orders straight down--ZOOOM--from the God himself--so privileged was Oral in the Orders of Yahweh, We the People gave him the divine privilege of not having to pay a lick of taxes on those hundreds of tin buckets full to the brim of thousands of sweaty greasy hard-earned dollar bills (cash only) he collected at his Selling Jesus pep rallies--which is all old Oral was, a Jesus peddler--a Jesus sales pep-rally cheerleader--offering pep to his assembled audience of scared-to-die yokels and rubes--offering those hayseed and hillbilly goonies the pep to jump up and down and roll all over the ground and get up spouting shit like "Eno-y-bo-ahbray-eel-hey-lo-um" and "Praise the Lord" and stopping in the midst of his hullaballoo and saying, "Hold on...er-ah, the Lord is talkin' to me--don't you feel his man spirit in the room right now?--all you horny-for-Jesus ladies out there--don't you feel him inside you now? He's telling me there's a lady in this audience who has breast cancer--big, big breast cancer--Praise the Lord--er-ah, and the Lord's telling me, Brother Oral, if this woman will stand and speak in tongues and come forth with that thousand dollar bill in her holy little hands, I will through you, my son, HEAL HER...." And 20 or thirty big overweight hillbilly women would tumble down and roll in the dirt of old Oral's tent church--trucked in from Tulsa, Okie-homa--with grubby dollars in their hands--pour down to old Oral's high chair--Oral used to sit up on a big high stool with a mic in his hands and preach and heal and shit--sitting at Oral's big-boater clodhopper feet to get healed of breast cancer.
You ever notice in your Christian churches how the preachers, priests, ministers, eunuchs, profligate cleric are always above their followers? The followers faces (and noses) are beneath their feet. Remember, their feet don't stink because a part of becoming a priest is the washing of feet--Jesus washed his disciples's feet--a custom in those days when men and women wore Jesus sandals--I mean, your feet got caked with crap--just think--when a Jewish woman went out to feed the chickens--she walked through all of that chicken shit--then traipsed it back into her dirt-floored house--and those feet--ohhhhhh, how the hell they must have stank! So you see, since the preacher's had his feet washed by Jesus, his feet don't stink anymore--so the worshipers can come easily and worship at Jesus's feet, the priest's feet by proxy actually Jesus's holy feet. Jesus Christ this is simple shit. Jesus Christ it's hard to believe that people who went to Ivy League colleges believe in this shit.
The key to these creepy dudes's success--and we include in this dude bag (it is a male profession) our own dear thedailygrowlerofficialspiritualleader, Pastor Melissa Scott (damn she's looking good these days--she's back on NYC teevee--at 1 am now)--is their offering of ETERNAL LIFE--a life of never dying--Jesus dying for you--and guaranteed by Yahweh--guaranteed by the priests saying God has told them he approves of it, too. "Thou shalt never die." "For Yahweh (same as Allah) gave his only misbegotten son that whosoever is cheeky enough to believe this little bastard Jewish boy is his son shall suffer eternal life...blah, blah, blah."
I remember from my Christian past my mother and father and their church pals arguing over who got Eternal Life! My mother believed it was those who were baptized by immersion (the full dunk) who would receive Eternal Life--and along with this belief came the belief that once you accepted Jesus as your personal savior you were saved (you had Eternal Life--that's what "saved" refers to in Jesus Script). The less holy than my mother were those who baptized by "Sprinkling"--as done in Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian (Church of Scotland), Episcopalian (US Anglicans), Anglican (Church of Henry the VIII) churches. And, yes, Baptists come from "the immersed" type of baptized Christian. Baptism being the substitute for the real true form of sacrificing--human sacrificing.
In all religions there is sacrifice. In the earliest religions a human being had to be sacrificed by the priests on the Altar of Whatever God in order to merit certain salvations--maybe salvation from starving to death. In the Torah that's why Yahweh told Abraham (the Poppy of the Jews, not the Juice of the Poppy) to take his son up to Abe's holy altar and put a Bowie knife through his heart.
Now here's the Christian trick bag. You see, old Jesus the Essene Jew, a crazy pep-talker who wandered the land yodeling out the Essene message of Jewish reform. The message that Jesus eventually turned into his own way of making a living--with Jesus coming to the shores of Lake Galillee, the largest fresh water lake in Judea (now Israel)--from whence most Israeli cities and supposedly Palestinian cities get their water supplies--a Salvation Lake--a place of eternal life--containing both water and food. That's why Jesus chose his fishermen pals as disciples--they knew how to fish for food. Plus, Jesus knew all these Nazareth dudes--probably went to Hebrew school with most of 'em--a burly bunch of MEN they were, too.
[Have I mentioned before that in the Christian legend of Adam and Eve, God at first didn't think of making Eve. He saw no sense in Adam having a woman. Think of that. Adam had to say to God, "Hey, Big Daddy, what the hell are those animals doing when those ones like me jump on the backs of those who have holes where I have this pole and start humping away. That looks like fun, Dad. Where's my me with a hole instead a pole?" Thus, God, made woman--Man's woe. The originator of original sin.]
Holy Crap. The selling of eternal life. That's what the USA has come to stand for. Whew! I've been talkin' to God, folks. Well, I am a soothsayer, even though I missed remembering Zooey was a MAN--Franny is the woe of MAN...and thus I'm back to being embarrassed about my Tuesday's woeful blunder.
for The Daily Holy Growler: "The Book of the Ivy Leaguers"
Charles Horton Cooley (born Aug. 17, 1864, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S. died May 8, 1929, Ann Arbor) was an American sociologist and the son of Thomas M. Cooley. He studied and went on to teach economics and sociology at the University of Michigan, and he was a founding member and the eighth president of the American Sociological Association. He is perhaps most well known for his concept of the looking glass self, which is the concept that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others.