Saturday, September 17, 2005

"I know what you can use for a sword -- Mom's got an old yardstick with all the numbers worn off." (Vic & Sade)

"I think I'm a little bit in love with you, Steve...we should do something violent, I don't know, knock down a cop or something." (Chase & Sanborn Hour)

Sept. 5-9:

Amarillo: Failed attempts to locate 2 Roadfood entries. Town appears to take Labor Day seriously; nearly everything but a so-so Mexican chain restaurant was shut tight, and the streets were deserted. Lots of flags out, but that could be an everyday occurence -- I have no other visit to compare it to.

Elk City, OK: Encounter out of The Birds with a flock of geese blocking a driveway into a park, all staring in one direction and slowly walking towards something. Flamingo Motel, run by an Indian women who noted that we'd come from California and made a face. Again, nothing open; stayed in and watched Singing in the Rain, and, the next a.m., the last half of The Big Lie, a vehicle for Bette Davis and Mary Astor to bitch at each other in an Arizona cabin. Like most movies, it turns boring after George Brent shows up. Stroud & Son's pawnshop (and ammo) on the way out of town -- picked up a Stars on 45 cassette and, mostly b/c it was strange to see it there, Ute Lemper's 1990 pop album Crimes of the Heart, which later turned out to be terrible.

[And the Romeo Void mentioned earlier -- a comp. tape called Warm In Your Coat. The Sam & Dave cover ("Wrap It Up") is weak, and they were spent by "A Girl In Trouble," but I still think It's A Condition kills. Someone please use the opening drum hook from "Talk Dirty to Me" (a.k.a. "casual, casual, casualties") for a mashup or a remix or something.]

Tulsa: Made sure I was taken past the memorial to the '21 race riots, which is accompanied by a notably non-conciliatory plague detailing, with individual names and amounts, several million dollars of unpaid damage claims. Otherwise, pleasant visit w/ a childhood friend of Bree's and her husband (who met in the phil. Ph.D. program at B.U. and decided to quit together and move to his hometown). Another foiled attempt to eat BBQ: The tempting-looking "Elmer's It-Be-Bad" took an extra-long Labor Day holiday (like, four days -- I even tried to stop there on the morning we left town).

St. Louis: Stayed w/ Robert Griffin and family; his daughter Rilke, who I saw as an toddler on the last couple of of 0pb jaunts, is now 9. Talked music, watched The Daily Show, was played an upcoming Scat release (a singer-songwriter w/ clear Pollard affinities, but less distractable), some Dungen. By either coincidence or subconscious plan, played Pretzel Logic, inc. "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo," on the way out of town. Took a kind of stupid-but-straight route through Chicago surface streets into Evanston b/c I was afraid of getting lost; made it home, in a manner of speaking, around 8.

Beyond what I've mentioned, and several hours of news about New Orleans, all I now remember listening to is Wha'apen, 3 Feet High and Rising, a recent Ethel Merman reissue, a few Frankie Laine duets that Bree and I like to sing along with, and the first disc of the Pet Shop Boys' b-side collection (not terribly good driving music, it turns out).


Rosemary and Keith Waldrop, Discrete Reading Series, 9/16: R.W. is a lovely reader, with pauses and emphases that leave no doubt that she knows exactly what she's up to. One effect of her collage method (and the texts to which she applies it, though, is that the joining of a "general" (philosophical) claims to more grounded statements that make one wonder why you would ever believe, or even countenance, something so abstract can produce a too easy reaction; here, a titter, as if to mark "oh, aren't those philosophers silly?" But I think her work's relation to these sorts of questions is deeper than that sort of response recognizes (not something I think about every poet who invokes the apparatus -- or tone -- of 20th c. philosophy; I see that Reichenbach is a source for Blindsight*). and numerous lines hit home: "A shadow fell across clear-cut narration as I followed Wittgenstein to places. Where nothing happens." (Read, I'm pretty sure, without the sentence break audible.) A renga-ish collaboration (read together) that I didn't get traction with followed; then K.W. read from The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon with Sample Poems, a collection of dry against-the-grain commentaries (with some emphasis on the metaphysical) ascribed to a fictive "unique geezer" (per the jacket). Monsieur Teste was not alluded to in the portions read, but I was not shocked to find him mentioned early on in the book. Or, for that matter, Jabes, both b/c he's the family business, and b/c his rabbis are the obverse of the comic exegete constructed here. Excellent book -- an unstoppable read once I took it home.

*Not intended as sidelong mockery of Jane's numbering; no, rigor is not on offer, but nor is it claimed to be. Substantive comment to follow.


If you're overeating (for instance) to fulfill some other psychological need, being told this may be interesting, but doesn't actually serve to fill that need. Not sure why I had this thought just now; since we've gotten here, I've eaten more sanely that either in France or on the road trip. On the other hand, Bree and I (we've discussed it) often feel as if we're playacting at "keeping house"; it's partly to do with being surrounded by someone elses dishes, books [we're renting from a sociologist who's on sabbatical], wall hangings. But only partly. On the third hand, the weather has held since we've been here, with several simply gorgeous days. Having finished off the "tour diary," I'm not inclined to go into an even-more-boring "discovering a new town" mode, but I will say one thing: If you want to buy an LP of Marni Nixon singing Charles Ives at Vintage Vinyl, bring along fifty bucks; a Television Personalities LP will set you back a Grant and two Benjamins. Phooey.

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