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Kick 'em out, mf'ers

Sunday 5/12/19

Was just politely shooed out of the Starbucks which now closes half an hour earlier on Sundays but they sent me on my way with free food--a cheese and fruit protein platter and a tomato and mozzarella panini--which was very nice of them. I was not very productive today but I didn't do nothing it was just that it didn't add up to much. This week I need to battle. A marked degree of courage and character will be needed. I also expect to create no less than five works of art. And I have a book coming out. More on that later.


Today marks 1085 days without a drink. I walked three miles, did a quick five climbs of the Bunker Hill Monument, then went to Anthony's to stock up on some food for the week--I will not have time for shilly-shallying--and then hustled off to Cambridge, to meet my friend Ben (we met back in 2015 when he was doing publicity for Handel & Haydn and he sat with me in the top deck of a rehearsal space watching the orchestra prep for Messiah). for the annual Mother's Day screening of Hitchcock's Psycho. Cheeky, right? Wasn't a great print--color kept shifting. What people forget about the film is it's a Christmas picture. Note the decorations as Janet Leigh drives away from her job with the purloined $40,000. Rear projection can look hokey, but Hitchcock makes it work for him in Psycho. That car sequence is the second sequence where we read Leigh's face. The first is when the bulbous rich guy--the man with the money initially--flirts with her at her desk. She acts a lot with her face, in close-up, in this film, which is why her glassy-eyed death mask, in the bathroom, shocks us even more. As far as editing goes, that scene is perhaps only bettered by what James Whale did for the creation sequence in Frankenstein. Well, Welles was a great editor. That's where he found the rhythms of his films. The form dissolve of the drain to Leigh's eye is what Picasso would call a visual rhyme on the camera's eye.


The film is a sort of experiment, an exercise in cinematic virtuosity; it's Paganini with more soul, because Hitchcock couldn't just do craft and leave it at that (whereas, Brian De Palma could). It's two pictures, almost. The first half, with the tryst, the crime, the murder, then it becomes a locked room mystery, Norman Bates being that room, as it were, with a second couple--Marion's sister and Marion's now ex-boyfriend, I guess you'd call him. The peroration doesn't work, with the therapist hamming it up for the camera, all of those big flourishes; it's stagey and talky. But what I like about Psycho is that it is avant-garde art--it's as avant-garde as early Bunuel--but also populist. The blood is chocolate sauce, and 1960's audiences would have been shocked to see a toilet on screen. Here is something remarkable for you: Martin Balsam, who plays the private eye Arbogast--great name--was forty when this film was made. He looks about sixty. Afterwards we went to Grendel's and had a good long chat. No Bruins game on the TV. No TV. But I have been pretty confident with this series. I'm confident plain and simple with this team. I don't see them not winning the Cup. Last year on the radio I got every single NHL playoffs prediction I made incorrect. This year, I'm lighting it up with accurate sports predictions. Like, it's uncanny. I had the Patriots winning the Super Bowl after seeing half the season, nailed the Red Sox' record even, and I feel like I have a good handle on this Bruins team.


I actually quite like old motels. And 1980s motels. I find them romantic in an imagination-stirring way. I used to dig those old Tom Bodett "we'll leave the light on for you commercials," so I got a kick out of being a guest on the same radio program he was on right after me the other day. Riding around Cape Cod as a kid, if you had told me that someday that would happen--because it was like those commercials were always playing at night on the radio when my family took our Cape Cod vacations--that would have blown my mind. You were tired, dozing in the back seat, smell of salt coming in, all of those stars you could look up and see, and you were awake but so close to not being awake and that voice all but tucked you in; very safe and warming; it sounded like something warm to drink and a comfortable blanket and resting up in this magic in-between land, which is what a motel kind of is for me. Motels are so different from hotels. They're more imbued with the personal loving touch of kitsch; of buckets by the door, some sand scattered around, a mask and snorkel waiting for the next morning's use. Or a spontaneous getaway with physical conjoining--romping--with one's beloved, before a hike of the White Mountains the next day, of Dunkin' Donuts coffee cups and tacky decor you always recall, an element of the cartoonish, but also winsome. Someday, when this finally works out, this quest of mine, and I have also met the brilliant, talented, dynamic, historic, capable of being part of history, kinky, character-laden love of my life, maybe we can take a tour of the Eastern seaboard and give it a motel theme. Coastal spots and motels. Maine to Florida.


I need to go through a lot of emails, so I'm not sure where, if anywhere, this stands, but as I had mentioned, I floated the possibility with my JazzTimes editor of doing a short story in an upcoming issue. I've been thinking about story possibilities. One involving Lester Young and Herschel Evans has been taking some shape in my mind. I sent Meatheads Say the Realest Things: Satire from the End of Civilization to Netflix. A friend keeps stating to me that they also see it as a series. What manner of series this best might be I am not yet sure, but certain possibilities present themselves--could be an animated series, could be a series of fifteen minute episodes. There is a lot you can do with it, and other forms I can work it into, and it's obviously easy for me to do more of it, as I wrote the entire book in a single week and it's a style and voice I can turn on whenever I wish and invent endlessly with.


I also worked some more in my head on "Post-Fletcher," the story about the man not dead who has a ghost. It comes together well. The work should be formally composed this week, along with another story "A man outside of a playground." In the morning, I would like a hard push into the compositional business at hand, which would mean doing an essay on Orson Welles and Moby-Dick, knocking off these Wall Street Journal op-ed hockey edits so that is ready to roll with the start of the NHL Finals, then finish "Riding the Mare," back to the short stories, then Jimmy Blanton essay, hopefully something on Whitman, depending, clean up the Bierce essay and file that, compose an essay I came up with today in my head on how mobs differ from the make-up of the mobs of yore, tend to the Guggenheim application. Going to write a producer at Fox now. On Tuesday on Downtown I'll discuss notable albums from the first half of 1969: The Velvet Underground, Goodbye (Cream), From Elvis in Memphis, Led Zeppelin I, Kick out the Jams, Bayou Country. The Elvis album is easily the best. It's one of the best, period. I'm doing that Sam Cooke volume for the 33 1/3 series, but one of the other books coming out around the time of mine next year is on the Elvis LP. It's a good idea. A damn good idea. I need to write an essay on what is black music--which is so much more than what your skin color is--for The American Interest. Elvis will be in that. As well as Janis Joplin, with a new release of hers.


I encountered Emma on the stairs when I was heading down to Starbucks. She was out of town for a funeral and had a tough weekend, which she told me about, making me promise to never tell anyone--as if Emma needs a promise from me to insure my confidence--as we took Benny to the dog park. Connections are a funny thing. I get as close to happy as I get in this current situation and stage of my life, on this singular journey, with so much at stake, when I see Emma.


There is much more to write here, but that will have to wait. It is nearly half past eight and I have yet to eat today. I must also regather my reserves. This week we dig deep. And then we will dig a little deeper. Two benefactions of motivation, first. This is the concluding track of the CCR album I'll be discussing. It's also good advice.



Will also be discussing this. It's even better advice.