Tuesday, July 24, 2012
JFK’s Predator, Shaggy Tibetan, Verdi’s Slave Girl
To right-- that famous 1993 logodaedalus:
Sorting Things Out. Sort of.
It’s summer, heat wave’s over, and I can either catch my breath or do the laundry. I decide instead to go through a pile of letters and papers near a chair I hardly sit in any more. I generally sit at a computer, my back facing the to-do piles, and try to block out the chaotic real world. It works, I’m very good at avoidance. Olympic-class good.
First thing to do is clear debris from that chair I hardly sit in anymore. That’s not so hard, takes about 30 minutes, though for every action there is an equally unpleasant reaction. I don’t throw away the debris, I move it to another place. And that’s not good.
But now, at least there's a big chair to sit in, to sort nearby things in order to reward myself, to earn a shot at looking through some 10 or fifteen books I recently brung [sic] home and piled up in my hallway. I’ve found that if you don’t look soon at 'em soon enough, they lose their pizazz, so I‘m eager to look. Plus, my landlord doesn't much like books cluttering the hallway.
So, I start sorting whatever's closest and I find & go through a 1993 logodaedalus with some art and poetry by Paul Collier & I’m reading it, as if for the first time & it’s really fun.
Then I find a program, with notes, not mine, from an Alger Hiss lecture at Hopkins, May 3, 1974. I used to live across the street from Hopkins and caught some good stuff there, John Barth, for one, missed Derrida, probably moved to Kentucky Avenue across/past the stadium by May of 74. “TIME SHALL NOT DIM THE GLORY OF THEIR DEEDS”. Memorial stadium said that. “I had to go to Lewisburg to meet communists!” said Hiss, according to those notes which add: “(big laugh)”!
Next up in the pile-- some old NY times music reviews. I skip Stephen Holden’s take on Olivia Newton-John (“queen of toy music”[jan 82]) and Robert Palmer’s “Chic Discovers Life After Disco” [dec 81] but linger over John Rockwell’s riff on Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (“pop-single phenomenon of the year” [jul 81]). He compares her vocal style to Rod Stewart’s “frayed tenor” and also to Bonnie Tyler. Says Rockwell “That kind of voice, raspy, soulful and uncontrolled, triggers powerful emotions in people.”
Almost seven years later, June 1987, Jon Pareles, in a Times article, “Of Rasps, Yowls and Din (just guessing "Din" is last word, last word is cut off, just a "Di" showing)” says irritants are essential esthetics “extending the vocabulary of brass snorts and saxophone squeals... courting anarchy with increasingly open structures and far-reaching improvisations.” Cool take. And, asserts Pareles, an irritant could have commercial value by making a product more distinctive. Y'know-- the squeaky wheel gets the juice!? In early rock, “the ability to irritate became an asset, those who considered it raucous might as well keep on listening to Bing Crosby.”
Okay, enough of the Times, next in the pile, a San Francisco Chronicle, Datebook and/or Pink Section from March, 2004. Not sure at all why this is in a save-pile.
Here’s a question: what do JFK’s predator, Shaggy Tibetan, and Verdi’s slave girl, have in common? Answer. They’re part of a crossword puzzle compiled by Donna J. Stone on p. 73, of the Frisco Datebook. They are, in fact, 24, 28 and 29 Across.
And, y'know, after thinkin' about it-- pretty sure that I musta caught the Hiss gig and that the notes were made by my second wife. Nice lady.
I slip the program into the save pile.