My Secret Mess

I've been writing by hand again - Pilot G-2 gel pens on lined paper. These early drafts are a slithery secret mess, full of cross-outs, blobs of black ink oozing through the pages, words I can't read ten minutes later, arrows pointing upward and down, private abbreviations and meaningless squiggles. I just finished a new novel - the whole thing done first by hand. A thousand words a day at my kitchen table, then downstairs to the screen and keyboard. Typing them in reduces the heady generative chaos. It's necessary of course, if I want anyone else to read the words. But every time, I feel a pang of loss. Creativity is a mess, or it's nothing.

Happy Doomsday

High point of the weekend: singing shape note music for three hours at a Mennonite Church. No mikes or amps, no instruments, no audience, four part harmony, a couple dozen people, loud and raw. Some of the songs - like my current fave, "Doomsday" - go back to the mid 1700s. "Behold! with awful pomp, the Judge prepares to come. The Archangel sounds the dreadful trump and wakes the general doom. The living look with dread, the frightful dead arise, start from the monumental bed and lift their ghastly eyes." Out of the grave - singing. Up to the skies- on wings of wonderful-terrible song.


When I get sick, when the fever spikes, my thoughts get scrambled. The flu hit on Friday and by Monday, I was hot, achy, and delirious. The whole time, I was reading Brian Jones: The Making Of The Rolling Stones. Highly recommended (the book, not the flu.) Brian founded and named the band, and taught Mick and Keith how to be rock stars. It's not a happy story - but full of exotica, sixties high flash fashion, beautiful girls and journeys into weirdness. Fave episode: Brian travels to Morocco to record a crazed all-night ritual to conjure up the Great God Pan. A sacrificial goat, endless drumming and dancing. I was feverish through the whole thing (the book, not the ritual.) Do me a favor - find it - I think it's all true - and see if what I remember is actually there.

A Clockwork Orange

Behind glam rock - and Bowie was honest about this - lay A Clockwork Orange. In 1971, the film version was released and glam exploded. Walter Carlos (soon to make the transition to become Wendy Carlos) created the soundtrack. It was mostly thunderous classics (Beethoven, Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary, the Day of Wrath) mutated by early analog synthesizers. On the screen, wild goon squad teenagers rampaged in bizarre costumes. On my turntable: the soundtrack album. Carrying secret copies of A Clockwork Orange became a fad among my high school friends. The book, the movie, the music, spread their vicious tentacles far into our suburban nowhere culture, and we talked much about "tolchoks" and "groodies." For a while, we lived the imaginal droog-life: not much violence, plenty of secret words.


Is it candy, or is it poison? Or both? Tiny, black, and mysteriously vile, Sen-Sen seems to be something spies would hide in a false tooth to bite down on when captured. But in fact it's claimed to give "breathtaking refreshment" which "masks the odors of smoke, food or drink." The taste? Dead flowers, formaldehyde, licorice and cheap hotel soap. For over a hundred years old ladies have carried tiny foil pouches of Sen-Sen. I first experienced the noxious burning flavor as a little kid, digging for gum in my Grandma's purse. I suppose I never really recovered.

Roadkill BBQ

Back from central PA - I mean, Pennsyltucky - where I enjoyed genuine barbecued roadkill, again. At a farmhouse just east of Butztown and Hecktown, I was pleased to find a crockpot full of spicy meat harvested off a big doe. It had been hit that morning and wandered, dying, onto Farmer Dan's land. He said that if the car hits a deer going too fast, the internal organs explode. So roadkill from winding back roads is best."Slow killed, slow cooked," his wife said. "That's the best." Afterward, many of us went down to the basement and sang for hours, old loud hymns in four-part harmony. My kind of party.

The Lost Thirteen

These are the bands I've performed with. All of them either did live shows or recorded, or both. Most are long, long forgotten:
Health and Beauty
Mongo Fury
Ju-Ju School
Screaming Vinyl
Caravan of Fear
Those Wild Swedish Mongoloids
Flat Planet
Nemo's Omen
The Fabulous Rectotem
The Behemoth Brothers
Invisible Stain Removers
Tape, vinyl, digital, memory: all dissolving into the past.