Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Sea Mists of Winter

...was the title of a rather fine elegiac essay by Wyndham Lewis written in 1951, announcing to his readership at The Listener magazine, where he spent his twilight years installed as chief art critic after a lifetime spent on the more or less permanent outs of the British High Art Establishment, that due to his rapidly failing eye-sight (caused by a pituitary tumour), he could "no longer see a picture" ... and was thus resigning his post..."Pushed into an unlighted room, the door banged and locked forever, I shall then have to light a lamp of aggressive voltage in my mind to keep at bay the night..."

Sea misty mountain hop hop hopping up Mount Tamalpais last week in winter, ensconced chez Harrison with Jerry and Carole and a couple of their kids in what is probably the most beautiful house I have ever been invited into laying me a palette on the floor at (the Times wrote up a Home section cover story on Jerry and Carole's boho style renovation of their redwood-surrounded Marin County/Mill Valley aerie some years ago...same Times who on this very day smugly contrasted a black and white photo of a 70's 42nd Street grindhouse showing "The Christine Jorgensen Story"--the horror, the horror!--with a sunny color snap of a theater cross the street today currently housing "Mary Poppins the Musical" --replete with a Pecksniffian caption trumpeting a transformation of the naughty, gawdy, bawdy 42nd Street area from "a nexus of sex and sleaze" 30 years ago into a veritable mini-Magic Kingdom, all thanks to a judicious application of "a spoonful of sugar and a cup of capitalism", ie, Disneyfication)...give me Max and Dave Fleischer and the risque anthropomorphic sheer off-the-wallness of Fleischer Studios and Betty Boop and all that crazy New York Jewish jazz energy any day of the week over Uncle Walt and his squeaky-cleaned-up Snow White jive (Disney eventually drove Fleischer Studios out of business here)... sorry to say, but the present day Disneyfied 42nd Street audioanimatronic "Wonderland by Nacht" vibe creeps me out much more than the Forty Deuce of 30 years ago when I moved to this fairest of cities ("Sprinkle some fairy-dust over the bahstard!"--Reg Presley, The Trogg Tapes)...

Jerry Harrison came to spirit me away back to HIS Magic Kingdom after my CultureCatch/Macworld gig at the Great American Music Hall in SF last Wednesday night, gig was a good 'un too, after a look-see into the rampant computer geek-dom on display at the Moscone Center that afternoon (I mean really, does the Apple phone actually do anything NEW that current phones on the market do not?) I was rarin' to inject some blut and thunder into what was essentially ye olde Parade of Lifeless Packaging writ large (the CultureCatch Salon at Red Ink Studios was another story entirely, the CultureCatch Salon operating in the heart of the seedy old prime cut of real estate that is Market Street by way of the Tenderloin--right across from the stately Golden Gate Theater, where "Legally Blonde" the musical is about to open--which I hear is a fantastic new show!) (hey I like Mary Poppins as much as anyone, in fact it's Caroline's fave, both book and film, PL Travers was quite a crusty cutup indeed, 'jes like her protagonist, and really gave old Walt a shellacking over the ultimate Disneyfication/cinematic disposition of her book; also, to tell the truth, I had a crush on Julie Andrews anyway as a young whippersnapper and in fact an autographed photo that Julie herself sent me after I wrote her a loveletter at age 6 while she reigned supreme on Broadway in "My Fair Lady" is but a good 6 inches right under my flying fingers typing this here ramble, said photo buried in the oaken confines of my 20's German Art-Deco desk on top of which perches my G-4 --hey I love Apple!--and I viewed Julie's ascension into the pantheon after her star turn in "Mary Poppins" as only her rightful due, given her snubbing by George Cukor/Jack Warner in favor of Audrey Hepburn for the "My Fair Lady" film lead)...

During the CultureCatch Salon sideshow I got to speak to an ultra-friendly David Lynch on a live video hookup and his eyes really lit up/he was quite complimentary when I was introduced as "Beefheart's guitarist"--confusion will be my epitaph!-- Lynch waxing eloquently on the subject of Beefheart, stating that "Trout Mask Replica" was one of his favorite albums, I told him that "Eraserhead" was one of Don's favorite films, and lah dee dah dee dah, also good at the Culturecatch Salon was a mock confessional booth hosted by fetching podcaster Emily of CBS Free-FM's "Sex With Emily" show, I went into her darkened lair and delivered a reasonably truthful account of the current state of affairs, and she was, uh, taken aback somewhat, well she is kinda young to be offering such advice methinks, youth being wasted on the young and all, but a spunky trouper nevertheless, here's looking at you Emily!)... another good Salon sideshow was the dithyrambic peregrinations of Tiffany and her femme-bot performance troupe Double Vision (good name... check my album "Diplopia" with lute master Josef Van Wissem, "available wherever fine albums are sold"--not! But you CAN order it through my website), one particularly enjoyable bit of business was a couple of the Double Vision dancers highstepping over stretched canvas underfoot with tanks of yellow and blue paint respectively strapped to their backs, said tanks squirting copious amounts of impasto on this Pollockian palette on the floor-in-the-making with every wiggle of their hips/terpsichorean maneuvre and plie (accent ecru)...a fine mess, a fine madness, and very very sexy indeed, reminiscent somewhat of the great food-colour bespattering of Emily Mortimer by Ewan McGregor in the cinematic version of Alexander Trocchi's "Young Adam" (but I digress)...

Anyway I got up onstage at Great American Music Hall Wednesday night with my '66 seafoam green Strat and myriad black boxes of FX on hand (same set-up I've used for years and years, if it ain't broke don't fix it)-- and video artist/Columbia prof Luke DuBois began doing real-time video manipulation of my performance projected on a screen behind me, very much in the San Fran psychedelic '60's tradition--and, well, I'll let my old friend Bay area poet/editor and academic Jean Gier gyre and gimbal and generally set the scene for you here now.

In attendance were old friends highschool buddy Larry Shore (last scene in monstre gai Paree), SF hipster about town Jordan Loewy, ace new music photog and transplanted New Yorker by way of Milano Marco Ugolinni, and former rockwriter turned adman Bob Duncan, his wife the lovely Roni Hoffman and their son Hardy down from Reed College (took me to Mel's Diner for dinner avant shau)-- plus a crew of Macworld hypnagogues/liggers/rubber-neckers there to take in little old "thinking man's guitar hero" me (thanks to The New Yorker for that one), strutting and fretting my hour on the stage (you know, after nearly 17 continuous years of doing this for a living fulltime--and really, if you count the Beefheart era marking my first foray into professional status, 27 years playing for keeps-- you might think that the Sea Mists of Winter would be encroaching on my Diplopic purview by now... but you would be mistaken).

And then Jerry came and whisked me back to Fortress Harrison...and I spent a couple of excellent days in Sausalito holed up at his studio with fine madman Matt Cohen, "the world's most patient (Jewish) engineer".. and with the eventual arrival from LA of the real Rei Momo/Lord of Disorder/mixologist supreme Eric "E.T." Thorngren, the Whole Sick Crew was assembled-- Jerry's Kids!-- and I was proud to be as one with them...and we were working on a mix of my next album, a live DVD and CD of my recent CMJ Gods and Monsters show at the Bowery Poetry Club...and in between catching the rays of a studio tan I went hiking in Muir Woods with Jerry (what a jock!)...sampled several fine dining establishments in the nabe (Kitti's Thai joint across the street particularly notable)...and a splendid time was had by all, special thanks to Dusty Wright and Richard Burns of CultureCatch for spiriting me out to SF in the first place (also thanks to Absolut for their sponsorship-- my favorite rocket fuel after Slivovitz)...




Blogger Nicole said...

Dear Gary,
The Double Vision dancers with paint you were referring to was a piece by Nicole Zvarik. Based on the two body problem, it is a physics/dance/live art piece where the dancers enacted two bodies orbitting under different force laws, which the audience changed. The paint gave the audience a visual representation of the orbit patterns we or rather they were creating. Very sexy indeed!

Nicole Zvarik

1/22/2007 2:51 PM  
Blogger Gary Lucas said...

Right you are, Nicole! Thanks for sharing!


1/22/2007 4:01 PM  

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