Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

An Update on Many Things

Returning to the blog world after an absence of nine days is a little scary. I’ve got lots of ideas, of course, so many that I’m terrified of the blank Microsoft Word document. (Unlike in my youth, when typewriter pages truly were white and empty, the Word document always has those little icons at the top, which somehow makes me feel less alone. Doesn’t make it any easier to get started, though.)

Let me tell you what I’ve been up to. I thought I was gonna get a full-time job, but I didn’t. I was working for six weeks at Prison Performing Arts, a wonderful non-profit organization that brings the arts into jail. I didn’t actually go to jail myself. I was sitting in an office, learning new software, developing grant-writing and editing skills, and doing all kinds of interesting (and sometimes mundane) things. But, they chose to hire somebody else full time, and that’s the way that cookie crumbled.

I was going to write a post called “People Who Died” because that’s what seemed to be happening last week. One friend lost his mother, another lost her brother, and a whole lot of us lost a guy named Toast, who was one of those scene-making dudes who seemed likely to be a permanent fixture on the widest periphery of my life. I didn’t really have a clear idea how I was going to do that, though it was going to be based around the old Jim Carroll song and the fact that his birthday was last week.

I didn’t write about going to see Elvis Costello last Tuesday night, or about catching Bruce Springsteen on Saturday. (Or for that matter, about seeing the Bottle Rockets on Friday, or the very end of Sonny Landreth’s set after the Springsteen show.) Sometimes, my mind starts racing after I hear music, and I want to try to explain what I experienced. Other times, I simply enjoy it, as I did all this stuff, and words don’t come to paper.

I’ve seen some movies lately. Buster Keaton in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” and Marion Davies in “The Patsy,” both from the late 1920s, and both full of laughs with lots of magnificent physical comedy and facial mannerisms. The Keaton is his masterpiece, and it contains that scene we’ve all seen a million times in documentaries, when the building falls on him but he stands unscathed, having placed himself directly in the center of the empty upstairs window. I also caught a Frank Sinatra/Groucho Marx/Jane Russell piece of fluff called “Double Dynamite” that showed how the mighty had yet to achieve, or the mighty had fallen, or the mighty was posed as provocatively as the mores of 1951 would allow, depending on which mighty star you’re talking about.

I picked up some new CDs today. (For those of you worrying about my frugality in the face of unemployment, I’ve been trading out some old, unloved music for brand new stuff, figuring out that if I started playing all my albums, CDs, and cassettes tomorrow, at an average rate of say ten per day, it would probably take me a couple years to hear them all.) These I can recommend after one quick listen: The Flamin’ Groovies “Shake Some Action” reissue sounds even more amazing than I remember it, sticking true to the original production while somehow eliminating the murk of the record. Bobby Purify, “Better to Have It,” is a brand new old-school soul gem. Bill Frisell has a two-disc live masterpiece of trio stuff called “East/West” that absolutely blew me away. And Daniel Lanois has a new instrumental album of luscious, barely graspable beauty called “Belladonna.”

I read a great book called “Lost Delta Found” by John W. Work, Lewis Wade Jones, and Samuel C. Adams, Jr. Ever wonder what the contemporary researchers from Fisk University thought about the blues and sacred music and performers they studied back in 1941 when the whiter and thus more famous Alan Lomax was taking all the credit? This is what they wrote back then, left unpublished for 65 years, and it’s fascinating. I wish I had written something more in depth about it, because this is important new information helping to put that music back into its original context, before any of the people, including Muddy Water (before he was pluralized), became famous.

I’m working on some writing stuff for pay, too. And, I’ve got an opening into a part-time research job. So, while I still look for real work, I’m at least bringing in some money, and learning a lot, and figuring out what can happen next. And, I’ll be blogging more often. Seems like every time I pick up a few new readers, I go through a dry spell.


Blogger Good Knight said...

Buster Keaton is amazing! Lloyd is, like, Paul Revere & the Raiders or maybe Herman's Hermits and, of course, Chaplin is simply the Fabs; Keaton - icy and mortal - is more like... what? Real life.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buster Keaton rocked, man. He was the Elvis Costello of his time, dude. Amazing travel bargains at www.pickyourseat.com

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