Sunday, December 19, 2004

Also, A Tin Teardrop

Some more lucubrations on the Fast 'N Bulbous gigs (see yesterday's posting): the title of our upcoming album release, "Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind" (officially out in the world on Cuneiform January 20th) comes from a half hour audio tape I made of Don Van Vliet directly after his second David Letterman appearance in 1983 when he was staying with me here in my apartment in the West Village. For 30 minutes or so, the strain and stress of the Letterman show behind him (it was a cake-walk, Dave lobbed softball questions throughout while plugging Don's paintings in the form of the slides he brought with him from California), Don free-associated and extemporized in his inimitable childlike way in my livingroom, summoning up a host of phantom characters (his ur-baby, a 30's crooner, a hard living hobo, a country blues shouter, a tight-assed white collar WASPy boardroom exec and so forth) whose souls he inhabited so convincingly I fell on the floor laughing in delight and astonishment. These personae rolled off him like he was shedding skins, it was kind of like Robin Williams' manic verbal channel-surfing but Don was channelling something else that day, maybe there was something in the NYC tap-water (which he commented on with an off-the-cuff ode to its dubious purity:"Take a driiiink! Take a drink! Does it feel like somebodyyyyy, forgot to cleaaaan the siiiiink! Take a drink!!" He periodically punctuated this singsong babble with the basso profundo refrain: "MAFIA WATER"!")

Anyway in the midst of this aural exorcism (Don was usually at his best creatively with some kind of tension prodding him into wild flights of fancy; here, it was the sheer pleasure of release from having done this nationwide tv show so successfully), he dropped an incredible spontaneous down 'n dirty blues, line by line a la "The Dust Blows Forward" (which Bob Holman did a fantastic job reading Friday night at our show), limning the lyrics and rhymes as they occurred to him by starting and stopping his little portable Sony handheld tape recorder. It went something like this:

Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind
'N I Stabbed Another Bottle uh Wine
Ah was Hungry but I Knew I Had Time
The Smoke Stack Blew Me Down the Line

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! (Falsetto howl)
Little Baby Felt Fine!

Dig the rotten pork imagery in the first stanza, a direct correlative to the "Bacon Blue/Bread Dog-Eared" line in "Safe As Milk"
(describing the contents of an indigent artist's half empty fridge). And it gets better:

'N I Cracked Another Rack uh Bones
'N They Taste Like Cherry Stones

And so forth. Anyway, hence the Fast 'N' Bulbous album title (appropriate, we thought, as it's an album of moldy oldies... even if they are 100% beef, not pork).

We played this little field recording ditty on Friday night over the PA right before the band took the stage at the Bowery Poetry Club, and then kicked in with our traditional opening stomp "Pachuco Cadaver" (check out WNYC's archive as they have the whole hour-long show we did with John Schaefer on his "New Sounds" program on Wednesday up there... and it's a good 'un).

In the audience Friday night was my old friend the rock legend/raconteur/maker of scenes Danny Fields, the man who has done as much for promoting left field modern rock music as anyone alive, who worked with Jim Morrison at Elektra (introducing him to Nico and the Warhol Factory crowd), and later discovered and kickstarted the careers of Iggy Pop, The Ramones, the MC 5 and many others... Danny was also very likely the first DJ in America to play Trout Mask Replica upon its release, which he did with copious spins from the album in 1969 as a regular guest on Rudnick and Frawley's infamous Kokaine Karma show on good old WFMU. Danny loved our show on Friday, raving to me afterwards about the band, and also how much he enjoyed checking out the Bowery Poetry Club, which is rapidly becoming the favorite room of choice for discerning music lovers and hipster movers and shakers... it is indeed a great place to see cutting edge music, poetry, and theater in NYC.

Off now to see the new exhibit at the Neue Gallerie uptown, a wonderful museum dedicated to 20th Century German and Austrian art (Klimt, Schiele, Grosz, Beckmann et al) housed in an old mansion... I'm eager to check out their new exhibit dedicated to the spirit of the Comic Grotesque in Art.

The collected work of Don Van Vliet would fit comfortably right in there:

"Like a Finger in a Thrown-Away Glove!"
(from the "Pork Chop Blue" session, 1983)




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