Saturday, August 10, 2013

Existing in New York City: An Interrupted Cooling Out

Foto by tgw, "An Out-of-Work Musician's Studio...a sad place," New York City, 2013
MONEY IS OUR GOD...the rich rule from heaven on earth...the poor live in hell on earth
Say Goodbye to: Haji (Barbarella Catton), the Russ Meyer actress famous for her role in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (she wrote her own dialog); she became a cult heroine in some parts of the art world.   Haji, 67, Canadian actress (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).
Say Goodbye to: Johnny Logan. I was once, a long, long time ago, a Boston Braves fan.  The Boston Braves were Boston's National League team; it eventually was uprooted and moved to Milwaukee...only to end up in Atlanta.  Johnny was an all-star shortstop and a .288 lifetime hitter who specialized in bloop singles and doubles.  Johnny was on the Braves when they were great with Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews.  Johnny Logan, 86, American baseball player (Milwaukee Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates.
Say Goodbye to: Eydie Gorme.  As a young dandy, I saw Eydie Gorme one time by herself, without Steve, and I fantasized about making it with her for many a moon after that.  She was a very zaftig  chick.  Eydie Gormé, 84, American singer ("Blame It on the Bossa Nova").
A Lesson in Proudhon's Idea of Mutual Banking
We trust no man will do M. Proudhon the injustice to suppose that his labor and capital ideas are all condensed into the brief statement which closed our last article. In that we rather aimed to present the essence of the question than to develop an entire doctrine, or even to hint at any other than the main point of the general argument. By the way, we do not remember to have seen this presented in any chapter or passage of our author's writings, and justice to him requires it to be stated. Did space or time permit us to treat the entire subject thoroughly, we should have taken it up under several distinct heads,--namely: capital is essentially unproductive, and therefore rent and interest are robbery; rent and interest violate the law of fraternity, and cannot do otherwise; the natural increase of wealth tends to their diminution and ultimate disappearance, as is evident from history. They may and well be done away with by the organization of mutual credit, and therefore are intrinsically false.

    What is credit?
    It is a sort of corollary to the exchange of products, or a kind of second stage of that process. A has a bushel of wheat which he does not need and which B does, but B has nothing at present to give in exchange for it. A lets him have it, and receives his promise to deliver an equivalent at some future time, when he shall have produced it. Such is the operation of credit, which arose soon after the first commencement of exchanges. Presently it assumed a new feature, which may be illustrated thus: B needs A's bushel of wheat and has an article produced by himself, but cannot divide it so as to render an equivalent, or does not wish to dispose of it at present, and accordingly takes the wheat on credit. Thus credit is the giving of one product in consideration of the future return of another yet to be produced, or which is already produced, but not on the spot or in a condition which will allow it to be delivered. The uses and advantages of this operation are well known, and need no explanation.
    All credit presupposes labor, and, if labor were to cease, credit would be impossible.
    What, then, is the legitimate source of credit? Who ought to control it? And for whose benefit should it most directly be used?
    The laboring classes.
    But, instead of credit being governed by the producers in a nation, it is always in the hands of the intermediaries, the exchangers and agents of circulation; and, instead of being used to aid the workers, it is generally used to make money,--i.e., to get the greatest possible amount of the products of labor for the least return, and, if possible, for none at all. And it is manifest that, if the working classes could once gain possession of this great instrument, which rightfully belongs to them, they might escape from the necessity of working for others, or, in other words, of giving the larger part of their products for the use of capital; they might become the owners of the tools they use, become emancipated from the domination exercised over them by their agents and public servants, set up for themselves, and enjoy the fruit of their industry.
    But how can they gain possession of this instrument?
    By the organization of credit, on the principle of reciprocity or mutualism, if we may use a new word. In such an organization credit is raised to the dignity of a social function, managed by the community; and, as society never speculates upon its members, it will lend its credit, not as our banks do theirs, so as to make seven per cent. or more out of the borrowers, but at the actual cost of the transaction. A practical illustration of the above named principle in a similar matter may be found in the system of mutual insurance. [From Proudhon and His "Bank of the People" by Charles A. Dana]

Cooling Out in New York City...But Interrupted
It ain't easy: cooling out in New York City.  It means you have to withdraw deep within yourself. It means you have to ignore the outside real and live within your own private real.  I pass my time in this real space reading, writing short stories, writing short verses some I turn into song lyrics, thinking out loud, laid back, enjoying what short span of life I have left on this mysterious but marvelous mortal coil.  "Cooling out" means avoiding the barbarisms going on out in that outside real.  And like I said in the beginning of this, it ain't easy.

In the middle of my beginning this self-imposed cooling out, I was listening to a 6-CD set of the complete Prestige recordings of Sonny Rollins, when the god-damn phone rang.  And, yes, I curse phones and the behemoth phone companies all of which are offshoot scams of the once-hydra-headed beast called the Bell Telephone System.  My provider, for instance, is Verizon, a combination of vertical and horizontal that a branding company was paid big bucks to come up with.  Verizon's existence happened after, first, New York Bell and New England Bell merged to become NYNEX, and, second, NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic and who knows what other Baby Bells to become Verizon.  I recall a time when all these Baby Bells were going under and then along came the cell phone (there is an article running on Longform that claims Heddy Lamarr, the late actress of many dubious fames, was a major player in the invention of cellular technology).

My generation despised phones.  Phone calls drove us up the wall.  We hated phone calls to the point we got unlisted numbers.  Then we got caller ID.  But, like I said, then came these god-damn cell phones.  I walk around New York City amazed at young people walking along the sidewalks jabbering away with someone on their cell phones, cooking further their already cooked brains.  I wonder, who the hell are they having these marathon phone conversations with?  I go in restaurants and people are talking on cell phones in the middle of their overpriced meals.  I want to go up to them and asked them, "Hey, pal, just who the hell are you talking to in the middle of your meal?  Who the hell is it that necessary to talk to?"  Hey, most of my friends have cell phones.  But not I.  I've never owned one or wanted to own one and I'm reluctant to use one when a friend of mine hands me theirs and says, "Here, say hello to this one or that one."

So in the middle of my cooling-out session, my phone rings.  It's my old guitar-playing friend and band leader who's band I used to be in.  Since I haven't talked to him in many a moon, I answer with a quick "What's up?"  A couple of years ago I knew this guy had had open-heart surgery so we prided ourselves on being cardiac attack survivors.  This time he said he was sitting down one day a month ago and when he went to get up his legs collapsed under him.  When he tried to stand up, he found he couldn't.  A friend called EMS and they whisked him over to Beth Israel Hospital here in Manhattan where he was told he'd had a clot in one of his legs.  Believe it or not, though, that's not why he was calling me.  He was calling me to tell me his band had been fired from its every-now-and-then gig at a joint down in SOHO in lower Manhattan.  Ironically, this is the joint at which I was sitting in with his band the night I had my heart attack (now over a year and a half ago).  "Why the hell did they fire you, man?" "They said the band was too loud."

This old friend wasn't concerned about the fact he was possibly facing another major heart surgery.  His concern was over the state of his band and his losing a venue for his music.

After we finished our conversation, I sat by my phone and contemplated the misery my old friend had imparted to me.  A loss of a chance to perform a music that had been embedded in his make up since he was a teenager in Detroit.  I knew how he felt.  I myself once worked quite regularly here in NYC as a band singer, then as a blues pianist and singer, then lastly as a blues harmonica player.  Then in about 2005, all the venues I had to work in dried up.  I, however, took it as a fact of life in the music business.  Along had come a new generation with their new forms of music and their new ways of doing it and I realized I couldn't compete with this bunch so I "retired" to my inner sanctum where, yes, I continue to make music, to write songs, to compose instrumentals, and burn CDs, but I figure, and I think I figure logically, I'll never have a steady gig ever again.  So all I can do is feel sorry for my old pal the guitar player.  He was proud of his band.  And it was a good band, guitar, bass, drums, tenor sax, and trumpet...and harmonica when I worked with him.  Excellent charts.  But, and this is a big but, there came a time when as his natural heart began to conk out of him, so did the heart he put into his music conk out on him.  There's nothing sadder to me than a musician who can no longer get a gig.

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

languagehat said...

Going to hear the Growler's blues band was one of the dependable pleasures of my early years in NYC. The music scene hasn't changed for the better.