16.2.07

Bio-terrorist Salad Forks

I get a call. I agree to something free. Because it is free. You see? I am late. It is cold. The wind punches me in the face for three blocks. I arrive pummeled with the tears welling and freezing and my beard more like a first recess work of art than a beard. But it was never much of a beard to begin with, so I will take what I can get. I am warned of pretension. I can smell it. I am offered whiskey that turns out to be brandy and then whiskey again as more is had, I refuse. I always refuse. But I can smell it. It smells like backseats of grandparents' station wagons and Legion branches with no leaves left on them. Where I am from--home--these names are put on giant glass engineering complexes. Here--not home--these names are put on old concert halls. That says more than I ever could about the differences between here and there, between home and not. What is a Schullich anyway? Besides some rich plutocrat? Besides some rich plutocrat who wants to leave his children with concert halls and shining engineering schools named after them instead of giving them the money to spend on things they might like, like the iPhone?

Music starts. I have heard this one before. Same as the next. I am fascinated by the pretentious teacher as he interviews his pretentious students about the inspiration for their pretentious modern music written for age-old instruments in a way to make it sound like out of tune age-old music.

Emily Dickinson sung soprano is as grating as Emily Dickinson sung any other way or not at all.
Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,/And sings the tune--without the words,/And never stops at all,//And sweetest in the gale is heard;/And sore must be the storm/That could abash the little bird/That kept so many warm.//I've heard it in the chillest land,/And on the strangest sea;/Yet, never, in extremity,/It asked a crumb of me. [1]
Hope dwindles. Nears zero. Then comes A. Tan. Then comes "Natspontawa." Which sounds aboriginal. Like Crowchild, Blackfoot, Deerfoot, MacLeod, and Glenmore. But he settles our intrigue telling us: "it is the combination of three words, natural, spontaneous, aware." A quote he found with Google. Likely the night before. Likely the morning of. Likely 5 minutes ago as he searched for some bullshit to tell us. He found it. He found the source. A cult leader/bio-terrorist who attacks salad bars with suicide salmonella attacks. It's the shits. A. Tan tells us he finds this halfway through the composition of a rather mundane piece that sounds like all the other mundane pieces, just without the Emily Dickenson soprano (thankfully). So it begins. Mundane. The same. Then he finds out his muse is a cult-leader/bio-terrorist who attacks salad bars with suicide salmonella attacks. David Koresh. Theodore Kaczynski. Joesph Stalin. Osama Bin Laden. James Bond. Gerd Leipold. Salad Fingers. Carrot Top. Eddie Murphy. Brett "The Hitman" Hart. Junk Yard Dog. I cannot remember who for sure. I could only hear half of what was said through half of one ear. Hearing and music aren't related however. Sweater vests and brown shoes are. Then came the miraculous reprieve that is a Steve McQueen car chase. He got caught in the end. He got away in the end. He always gets caught. He always gets away. Hung up on barbed wire. Hung up on by A. Tan. It ends ambiguously. Awkwardly. I think that was the assignment.

With Mozart and Johnny Rotten and musicians of taste and circumstance having spun donuts in their rotten pine boxes in pauper's graves. With Emily Dickinson's cackles from hell carrying more a "huh?" tone for a brief second. With bio-terroritst cult-leading salad bar salmonella suicide bombers being immortalized with Steve McQueen car chases. The program turned its thoughts to the classics. The program turned its thoughts to kicking the downtrodden and passed-out drunk. Charles Bukowski. Henry Chinaski. Creeps. Bums. The lady who lives on the handrail atop the downscalator at Place-des-arts Metro. Scraggly, mangy beards and dirty sweaters don't make it so. Or else I would be so. And so it would be. The road to the poor house or the post office is not paved with best intentions and a woman dressed as my crazy old aunt as conductor. The road to the poor house or the post office is paved with alcoholism, chain smoking, raw wiener for dinner eating, and a healthy dose of heart failure and insanity. The road to the poor house or the post office is a bumpy ride in the back of my grandparents' station wagon. Have a wiener and shut up. Chinaski doesn't compose aria's for the opera. He composes odes to the lady who lives on the handrail atop the downscalator at Place-des-arts Metro; for my crazy old aunt; for my grandfather with the bad teeth; for my grandmother driving half a block to the Legion in her old station wagon. But "Drunken Rant for Violin" leaves interests piqued in the back corner that smells like whiskey-brandy-whiskey. Until the "Drunken Rant for Violin" sounds staggeringly similar to Emily Dickinson's "Drunken Rant in Soprano" and all the other Drunken Rants for harps and pianos and piccolos and the french horn. Disappointment smells like whiskey-brandy-whiskey. Disappointment is met with snide remarks. As is fascination, amazement, boredom, Steve McQueen car chases after bio-terrorist cult-leaders fire bombing salad bars with viles of salmonella cooked up in KFC kitchens. As is everything.
there's a bluebird in my heart that/wants to get out/but I'm too tough for him,/I say, stay in there, I'm not going/to let anybody see/you./there's a bluebird in my heart that/wants to get out/but I pur whiskey on him and inhale/cigarette smoke/and the whores and the bartenders/and the grocery clerks/never know that/he's/in there.//there's a bluebird in my heart that/wants to get out/but I'm too tough for him,/I say,/stay down, do you want to mess/me up?/you want to screw up the/works?/you want to blow my book sales in/Europe?/there's a bluebird in my heart that/wants to get out/but I'm too clever, I only let him out/at night sometimes/when everybody's asleep./I say, I know that you're there,/so don't be/sad./then I put him back,/but he's singing a little/in there, I haven't quite let him/die/and we sleep together like/that/with our/secret pact/and it's nice enough to/make a man/weep, but I don't/weep, do/you? [2]
Applause.
Pause.

The offense wrought by whiskey-brandy-whiskey and I left us alone in our back corner. Snide is the reaction to everything.

Then came the moment we had been waiting for. Then came the moment we let the wind pummel out mugs for three horrid blocks. Then came the moment we allowed those frozen tears to well without wiping them. Then came the moment we sat through Dickenson in soprano, through McQueen's bio-terror cult salad bar salmonella plot, through Bukowski being made out to be some kinda bum. Post-modern accordion noise. By a guy named Randell-turned-Randy-turned back to-Randell. Like Prince. Without the Purple Pants. "Respiration." Why? "Because it has always been a big part of my life." Splendid. Deep breathes. Chaos. Splendid. Worth the price of admission. Worth frozen tears from pummeled faces. Maybe not Dickenson, McQueen, and Chinaski. But it was too late for that now.

Applause.

What remained blurred together into pretentious ensemble pieces composed by pretentious fridge insurance salesmen and some guy talking about particles spinning, exploding, collapsing, dissipating, and out doing the teacher's wild hand gestures. Spinning. Exploding. Collapsing. Dissipating. Disappointing. Snide remarks. Making a break for the door. 99¢ pizza for $2.75. Mexican for no reason at all. Face pummeling. Bus waiting. Phone calls that last all night and into the morning with no sleep afterwards because there is no time for that. There are classics to discuss. "Hope is a thing with feathers." Same shit. Different day. What is new with you?

Pause.

"Toothpaste: Sunrise" by Morgan Murray. Toothpaste on canvas board. 2006.
[1] "Hope is a thing with feathers..." by Emily Dickinson.
[2] "Bluebird" by Charles Bukowski.

1 comment:

Neena said...

Well written article.