Monday, September 04, 2006

A Sleepin' Bee (not!)/Everyone Into the Gene Pool

Labor Day today, and I actually got a whole 6-7 hours of sleep, for a change--and thankfully without the aid of Ambien, introduced to me by my friend the Emmy award-winning tv documentarian Peter Bull some years ago before I made the long march from NYC to Tokyo, as a miracle drug whose very name in French translated into "morning wellness" :-)--which I actually hate to take, but will do so over Lunesta, Trazodone, Valerian, Melatonin et al (melatonin is actually illegal in the UK! Okay I admit I've smuggled some bottles over for the benefit of my pal Beefheart biographer/music writer Mike Barnes, send out an all-points bulletin--btw, good liner notes on the new EMI Virgin Beefheart reissues, Mike), as although ambien does do the job unlike the aforementioned meds/herbs it always makes me feel groggy and irritable the next day (insomniac, I normally average 4-5 hours sleep a night max when off the road, usually waking around 4 or 5am with my mind ticking over fullstop and lucid...usually a sign to get up and start working...actually the best time for me, early morning before the crack of dawn--love the sensation of "the city that never sleeps" golden slumbering all around me while I burn the post-midnight lamp in silence supreme, the only sound disturbing my reveries/lucubrations the occasional hiss and clank of a passing truck or street sweeper far below my window...good time to compose, too)--

plus you never get a sensation of fully rested deep REM sleep with Ambien (never mind the danger of turning into a raging ravenous beastie), there's something about putting a drop of medicinal poison in your bloodstream at bedtime that never quite works in the long term ("sand in the carburetor", as Dr. Thomas "The Myth of Mental Illness" Szasz so helpfully put it to me years ago in Syracuse when I went to visit him at age 22 for some short-term therapeutic consultation concerning my then direction-in-life after breaking up with my 56 year old girlfriend Anna Maria Levine--"Life is like a svimming pool, my just haf to jump into ze pool" was his sage advice--for which I slapped him five--"Thanks alot, Doc!"--then beat it the hell out of his office...after which he sent me a bill for 350 bucks for this nugget 'o wisdom...)

Some sad news, another death in the extended family--the great NYC DJ Adam Goldstone died suddenly last week en route to play at the Burning Man Festival in California, an accident, slipping in the shower of a moving camper van I'm told...Adam was one of the most creative and sensitive musical souls I've ever worked with, he and his then partner Perry Brandston made up the Departure Lounge Crew along with my friend Cosmo (Colleen Murphy who runs the Bacardi jammies I've been playing recently), I used to improvise with them on ambien't guitar regularly well after midnight at a little hole in the wall on the south side of the 14th Street Meat Rack between 8th and 9th avenues in the mid-90's...Adam also used to write for myriad dance publications and tip sheets, also Time Out NY...what a waste, what a can read a nice eulogy to Adam here by his brother DJ Sake 1 here.

Two excellent causes worthy of your support: my friend Jim Goodin, an amazing acoustic guitarist whose daughter Callie is stricken with diabetes hipped me to an upcoming Walk to Cure Diabetes taking part all over the country in the next couple months sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation--please visit their website here--or check Callie's personal fundraising page here to make a pledge...

And my old friend Howie Klein once again reminds us that midterm elections are upon us here and now is the time for all good menscheviks to come to the aid of the parrrrrrrrrrty-- and throw the (Bush League) rascals out--please check into his Blue America PAC here and give generously as it is sooooo time for a change...Howie recently commissioned a song called "Have You Had Enough" as sung by Rickie Lee Jones and a few guys from the Squirrel Nut Zippers which you can hear here and on progressive radio stations everywhere--and also see a cool video of here, which is now up on YouTube, and which you can also spread virally--also if interested please check out Howie's account of how this song came to be made on his Down with Tyranny blog here...this is one of the worthiest causes that I know and support and I urge all my American friends to do so too...'nuff said!

More comings and goings around town: wish I could muster up some more enthusiasm for Dylan's latest album (G-d only knows I thought his last one, released on 9/11 unfortunately, was his best since "Oh Mercy"), maybe it'll take a few more listens, anyway there was a symposium at the KGB bar here last week with classical critic Alex Ross and editor David Remnick from The New Yorker; the New School's Robert Polito (author of the quite worthy of your time Jim Thompson biography "Savage Art"); Robert Levinson also of the New School who teaches a course called "Discussing Dylan"; and also Mary Lee Cortez of the band Mary Lee's Corvette, who did a whole covers album of "Blood on the Tracks" couple years agi...kibbitzers included famed Dylan garbologist A.J. Weberman who did a year in the slammer in a what-goes-around-comes-around kinda karmic comeuppance when the cops went through HIS garbage and found details of his marijuana dealing; Larry "Ratso" Sloman who wrote the "On the Road with Bob" book re the Rolling Thunder medicine show; and my pal "hypnotist collector"/keeper of the sacred scrolls of Thoth I mean Bob, Mitch Blank, who showed a quick-on-the-eye video of "Series of Dreams" and played the 1931 Bing Crosby side with Eddy Lang on guitar, "When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day" which he swears Dylan borrowed the intro from for "When the Deal Goes Down" on Bob's new "Modern Times" album--best line of the night was when Mitch, pressed to comment on his reaction to the new album, opined that he thought it was "one of the nine best Dylan albums out of his last eighteen"...

Also present was former Polygram/Koch Jazz exec Donald Elfman who I hadn't seen in years, who unreservedly loves Bob's new album and failed to see what all the yammering was about, and me, who was (only slightly) embarrassed when my new cell phone with its rather loud ringtone of Jeff Buckley singing the chorus of "Grace" (the 1994 anthem I co-wrote with Jeff) went off right about the time when somebody brought up Dylan condemning all modern recordings post 1972 in his cover story interview in the new Rolling Stone :-)...

Personally I think Bob is the greatest male Caucasian artist this fair land has produced to date ('s funny too how Bob name checks Alicia Keys on cut one of his new disque--the Keys to the Kingdom!...see my blog of 9/5/05)--and in fact to further add to all things Dylanological I just happened to notice a possible new Dylan/Ginsberg concordance in this week's New Yorker; namely, line 15 of Dylan's old buddy/mentor Allen Ginsberg's 1951 poem "Paterson"--"...crying by a diner in the western sun"--and line 4, stanza 1, of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" wherein he sings "crying like a fire in the sun"...Oh mercy, indeed!

This just in: legendary tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman has passed away, what a bummer...check out Ben Ratliff's obit in the NY Times here
(Don Van Vliet, a/k/a Captain Beefheart, once remarked to me that "he never really dug Ornette-- Redman was the cat"... this backtracking after effusively singing the praises of Ornette and his Columbia lp "Science Fiction"--which featured Dewey Redman--on his "Spotlight Kid" tour, circa '72...this change of heart most likely occurred post- Ornette labeling Don a "chickenshit white hunter" after Don proved nervous about journeying up to Harlem to visit him...Don repaid the compliment thusly: "Hey man, you can say that--but I know a bar in Texas...and I, uh, won't even go in there...but YOU can go in there...")

Highly recommended: Kiki and Herb: Alive on Broadway, at the Helen Hayes Theater on 44th street--best moment was Kiki (Justin Bond) segueing into a rendition of Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype" rendered as a glitzy cabaret showtune while Herb (Kenny Mellman) madly pounded the piano behind her/him...not unakin to the episode of Martin Mull's late lamented 70's tv campfest "Fernwood 2Night", wherein Frank DeVol as bandleader Happy Kyne delivered a sterling version of KC and the Sunshine Band's " (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" ...

Kiki and Herb, yes!-- tongue firmly in both cheeks in the great tradition of musico-showbiz campsters Kaye Ballard, Elaine Stritch, loser loungers Bill Murray performing his immortal greasy "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" tune on SNL, Fred Willard (Fernwood's Jerry Hubbard) pining for the sounds of "Three Jacks and a Jill" in "Spinal Tap", the compleat Mrs. Miller, Ethel Merman just being herself, avant-gardster Cathy Berberian singing "Ticket to Ride", Susie Quatro belting "Can the Can" (just kidding)...

speaking of campfests, in the NY Times' recent obit for the great Glenn Ford some dismissive words were parsed concerning his role in the film "Gilda", best remembered, in the late Times film critic Bosley Crowther's opinion, for Rita Hayworth's "Put the Blame on Mame" star turn, eclipsing Glenn's "thankless role" in said pauvre film--WHATTTTT??? And so was dissed one of the greatest cinema campfests of all time (principally due of course to the hilarious, epicene antics of George McCready with his coded/queer manipulation of Ford, and phallic sword-cane fetish/subterfuge--"Meet my little friend, Johnny!"), as "Gilda" gets slung on the slag heap of (the) Time(s)...come ON, Pinch!

Heads Up: WKCR DJ Charlie Blass, who is no doubt up there at Columbia pumping Dewey Redman over the ether as I write this, suggested I reprint 2 recent favorable notices from this week's Village Voice and last week's Sunday Times (UK), concerning my live performance and new album "Coming Clean", respectively--but as I'm a sleepin' bee today (not!), I will refer you to my homepage at, where both notices are "up there", courtesy of web-mistress Tanya (btw, check out fantastic recent Columbia Legacy reissue of the great Harold Arlen/Truman Capote's "House of Flowers" Broadway cast album, featuring a rare Harold Arlen dictaphone memo to Truman wherein Arlen delivers cast notes and sings the exqusite show tune "A Sleepin' Bee" in a smoky, down home, blue-eyed soul kind of a voice you'll be amazed to know Harold had in him)...



ps pace my reaction to Dylan's newie, I really really wanted to like Brian De Palma's new film of James Ellroy's "The Black Dahlia" (which I caught at a screening this week with Caroline and Cineaste editor Richard Porton) alot more than I did--and again, maybe I'll appreciate it more with subsequent viewings...certainly it has some classic De Palma action set-pieces in it, quotes his own films and a zillion others, and was beautiful to look at (thanks to set designer Dante Ferretti, cinemtographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and the erotic heat generated by Scarlett Johansson, Mia Kirshner, and Hilary Swank)--but the film suffers from a delirious, semi-coherent, hard-to-follow script by Josh Friedman (Bruce Jay F. would have been better here probably) that left various sophisticated new yawk movie reviewers/goers grasping to puzzle it all out when the lights came up (my pal Jim Hoberman made a sensible quick exit before one could importune him to help explicate it) was enjoyable still on the whole: there's some weird John Wayne Gacy (and possible Red Skelton) references in there (smiling Gwynplaine-like clownish "joker hysterical faces" painted near the murder scenes), and a deranged imbecilic psycho-killer who looks like a cross between Rondo Hatton and the carrot-headed thing behind the door from "The Brain That Wouldn't Die"--and Fiona Shaw (last enjoyed in this parrish in her one-woman rendition of "The Wasteland on 42nd Street"--yes!-- as rich as Kiki and Herb on Broadway) does some over-ripe madwoman melodramatics, rolling her eyes and chewing the scenery not all that far afield from Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and Joan Crawford in "Straitjacket"...I ain't seen Brian D since Caroline and I had brunch with him at the old Paris Commune on Bleecker Street a couple years ago with his then-squeeze Elli Medeiros (so brilliant on my new album "Coming Clean" singing "Skin Diving"--a/k/a, Everyone Into the Gene Pool), and before that when he came with Elli to see me perform in Torcy, so hey B, despite my carpiing it was still way better and more entertaining than alot of other films out there, you're still a master, so is Dylan, I gotta go now to go talk to a French journalist about Arthur Russell and my new one...SEE YA!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link