Remember them as you see fit!

First, before I launch into the merriment of this holiday which is meant to honor the dead who served our country in some form of military service, but is now more about cookouts and picnics and going to the lake or beach, etc. — I just wanted to say that I don’t think my lungs are ever going to get back to normal!!!

Basically, I’m breathing fine now but as soon as high humidity is in the air (like today), it once again becomes a struggle to catch my breath.  I’m starting to feel like this is permanent — that a little bat disease is part of my lungs now. Forever and for all time. (It has been over two months now.)

I happen to love bats so, you know, I guess I’ll deal with it, but it is really frustrating that it just won’t go away.

Okay!! Well. I’m doing laundry here. It’s another absolutely stunning day (high humidity notwithstanding).  I like to think I’m going to go out and clean up those leaves that are still hanging out around my front porch, but we’ll see. I’m still working on that new “Letter” (#8 “The Choice to Kill”) for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse. And once I’m on a roll, it’s seriously hard to get me to stop and do anything else — unless, of course, a natural stopping place simply happens all by itself.

I’m also now reading  The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, after having read Live or Die (1966) the other day, about 3 times in a row. (A great book of poems — it won the Pulitzer Prize for that year.)

The Complete Poems is sort of like an orgy of awesomeness. It includes ten volumes of her poetry — including Live or Die, along with 2 complete books of posthumous poems, as well as the very last poems she wrote, and then also a bunch of poems from the entire course of her career that she had set aside because she didn’t know where they fit in.

If you like Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems is a real treasure, since you can see how her writing style progressed over the years all under one cover.

I like all of her poems, but I prefer the ones from around 1960 – 1967.  Her later poems, from 1971-1974 are still very good but sort of merciless. I can identify with everything she writes about, but the closer she gets to committing suicide (she killed herself in Oct.1974), the harder it is for me to take, because I totally relate to all that stuff she writes (and seems to think about constantly) and I don’t want to, you know?

(And in fact, 1974, the year she finally committed suicide, was a truly horrible year for me. Just the nadir of my existence. So I have my own personal demons rumbling under her poems at that point, too.)

The difference between a writer/woman like Anne Sexton and a writer/woman like me (except for the glaring oversight that I haven’t won my Pulitzer Prize yet!!): She seems to have been waiting her whole life for the right time and place — the exact moment — to kill herself. It seems like her entire life (she lived to be 46) was just something she did while waiting for the best moment to die. (She attempted suicide a few times.) And that’s okay. It’s not a judgment; it’s an observation.

I’ve actually known a few writers who were  like that (who ultimately also committed suicide). But I just don’t want to be one of those. It is something I fight against with everything that I am. (I attempted suicide twice, between 1975 – 1979, and have struggled from suicidal depressions ever since.)

The thing that has (sort of) saved me, though, is that at least in Western society, women are no longer expected to find the best possible husband, help him earn as much money as he can, have children, run a perfect house while the man goes out and is the one who does all the great stuff — and try to have a stellar writing career of her own. (Assuming they don’t go out of their fucking minds  — i.e., Diary of A Mad Housewife or Anne Sexton’s whole life.)

It’s still a choice you can make if you want to — and a ton of women still do — but society, as a whole, doesn’t really care anymore if you’re a woman and don’t want to go that route.

Another glaring difference between Anne and me — she re-committed herself to the same mental hospital several times.

When I was committed to a mental hospital — a private one, like the one Anne describes in her poems; the kind of hospital that doesn’t seem to exist anymore because they became indescribably expensive– I was committed against my will and hated every moment of it (nearly 5 months). And while in there I was exposed to a lot of the older patients who were there by choice and seemed to be content to live their entire lives there — re-committing themselves when their outside lives became unmanageable for them.

Here are some shots from the hospital I was in over 40 years ago — it’s closed now:

When I was committed there, the roads were paved, but it still looked like this.
I remember standing on this porch many, many times, and wanting to just run away…
Here’s a photo of the demolition getting underway, sometime in the early 2000s, I think.
More of the demolition — but that white building was the Arts Therapy building (and the upstairs was the schoolhouse). In  Arts Therapy I learned about Jackson Pollack and Picasso. And I also stole a bottle of black India ink and some needlepoint needles, because me and my roommate, Kathy, were going to give ourselves tattoos. (We did. With varying results.)

I found those sort of “eternal” adult patients truly horrifying, since I would have given anything to get out of that place. And once I got out, I never wanted to go back. A couple of the people my age that I became friends with in there, developed that habit of going in & out of mental institutions well into their adulthood. And I just found that horrifying.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t continue to suffer from mental illness — because I did. But I hid it to the best of my ability because freedom has always meant everything to me. Even the freedom to be fucking nuts.

Well, anyway!! Whenever July 14th rolls around each year (the day I was committed in 1975), I celebrate my freedom, regardless of whatever else might or might not be going on in my life; at least I’m free.

Okay! I hope this finds you feeling really free today, too, regardless of the waning pandemic and the continuing social restrictions. I’m going to get back to the laundry and then get back down to work on Letter #8 for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse.

Thanks for visiting, gang.  I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning — a leftover from Bob Dylan’s birthday yesterday: Joan Baez’s “Diamonds & Rust,” a song she wrote for him back in 1975 (after suddenly getting a phone call from him again after they’d been split up for many years).  It’s one of my favorite songs of hers (followed closely by “Love Song to A Stranger,” “Blessed Are…” and “Billy Rose”). So listen and enjoy and have a great Memorial Day (or Monday) wherever it takes you. I love you guys. See ya!

“Diamonds & Rust”

Well I’ll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that’s not unusual
It’s just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I’d known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin’s eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

Well you burst on the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half-shell
Would keep you unharmed

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you’re smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

© – 1975 Joan Baez

Summer is Basically Here, Gang!!

Yesterday was just amazing! Such a beautiful day. I was able to keep the windows open all through the night.

And for me, nothing beats that feeling of waking up just before dawn to wide-open windows. All that fresh air.  All those birds singing. All that peace.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I am in love with the silver maple tree in front of my house. My house is 119-years-old and I’m guessing the tree is about the same age — it is easily twice as tall as my house.

The front part of my house is totally shaded by the tree — including my bedroom. Here is a view of the tree right now, as I’m leaning out from one of my bedroom windows and trying to look up. I’d say this is still only, maybe, 1/4 of the way up the tree.

My silver maple. God only knows how many people have been shaded by this tree in this bedroom over the past century.

My house is what’s called a “salt box” style house, so the front of it is flat — straight up and down. The ceilings inside are high, so the second story, where the two bedrooms are, is up pretty high.  It’s very difficult to see into the windows of the second story from outside — you have to be pretty far down the street to do that. In the summertime, the tree makes it just about impossible to see up into the windows from any angle, yet I still have an amazing view of the outside because the windows are really tall. All of the main windows in the house (10 out of 21 of them) are 6-ft, 4-inches tall.

The combined amount of privacy I get in my room from the enormous tree and the old-fashioned style of the house is kind of magical, gang.

Just one of the many reasons why I love living here. (And also why I hate raking leaves now — there are just a ton of them in the fall. It’s insane. I used to love the meditative process of raking leaves in autumn, but now it’s like — you’re kidding, right??!! Jesus.)

Okay!!!

Another great thing that happened yesterday — I sat down at my desk to do some more editing on The Guitar Hero Goes Home, and suddenly — and I mean truly from out of nowhere — Letter# 8 for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse started to come out!!

I mean, it was not even on my mind, in the slightest way. And suddenly the words started coming. A whole stream of them.

I was literally in the process of editing Chapter 7 of the Guitar Hero, when a bunch of words came into my head. And they were kind of provocative, so I stopped what I was doing and wrote them down in my notebook. But suddenly a bunch more words came out, and a title: “The Choice to Kill.”

And I was, like — whoa; this is Letter #8 for Girl in the Night.

In total, about 8 paragraphs came out all at once. So I stopped editing Guitar Hero and gave my attention to Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse. I hope to have it finished today but it’s kind of an intense section (as perhaps the title of it implies) so I’m not sure how long it will really take me.

I hadn’t even thought about Girl in the Night since February (when I wrote Letters #6 & 7) because I was so busy revising the play (Tell My Bones) at that point. And then, of course, I got completely wiped out by the coronavirus for nearly 2 months.

So this is exciting, gang.

(That whole time I was sick, I really struggled with thoughts that I was never going to write again. And so, now, to have it just spring up again — feels like old times!!)

Okay. Well, today is Bob Dylan’s 79th birthday. And in honor of that event, I went over to YouTube to find a song to post here for the occasion. However, I can never log onto YouTube without first checking to see what’s playing on Bad See TeeVee. 

This morning, I logged on just in time to hear Warren Ellis give an impromptu commercial for the channel over the phone, while, visually, there were these great little animated line drawings of Warren and Nick Cave “dancing” provocatively in their Y-fronts.

(That’s why I can’t ever get onto YouTube without checking Bad Seed TeeVee first, because you just never know what the heck you’ll be looking at!)

And then it went into the video for “Red Right Hand”, which is just so great — the video as well as the song (from the incredible Let Love In album, 1994). So I’m going to leave you with that song today, in addition to a Bob Dylan song, in honor of his 79th birthday.

I have chosen a song of Dylan’s that I absolutely LOVE — it won the Oscar in 2001 for Best Original Song — from the movie Wonder Boys, which I also totally love — to pieces!! (I think most writers loved that movie; it really captured just how fucking insane it is to be a writer, and also to struggle with the politics of academia, if you ended up choosing that route.) (I didn’t. I was always just a “hit the ground running” kind of writer, hoping I wouldn’t starve to death…) (I didn’t.)

All righty!! So, as the sun shines in on me, I’m going to close this now and get going. Have a great Sunday, wherever you are in the world — and continue to enjoy the holiday weekend if you live Stateside! Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys. See ya!

“Things Have Changed”
(from “Wonder Boys” soundtrack)

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There’s a woman on my lap and she’s drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin’s eyes
I’m looking up into the sapphire-tinted skies
I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train

Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose

[Chorus:]
People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

This place ain’t doing me any good
I’m in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood
Just for a second there I thought I saw something move
Gonna take dancing lessons, do the jitterbug rag
Ain’t no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag
Only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove

Lot of water under the bridge, lot of other stuff too
Don’t get up gentlemen, I’m only passing through

[Chorus]

I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road
If the Bible is right, the world will explode
I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can’t win with a losing hand

Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet
Putting her in a wheelbarrow and wheeling her down the street

[Chorus]

I hurt easy, I just don’t show it
You can hurt someone and not even know it
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I’m in love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake
I’m not that eager to make a mistake

[Chorus]

c – 2000 Bob Dylan

Have A Great Memorial Day Weekend!

If you live Stateside, that is!

If not, then, well, just have a great weekend.

Here, today should be even more beautiful than yesterday was — and yesterday was kind of unbelievable, gang. Hence, I never managed to get onto the blog and post anything.  I did get a good bunch of edits done on The Guitar Hero Goes Home yesterday, but other than that, I just didn’t want to be at my desk.

My breathing is FINALLY back to 100% and I just wanted to be out in the sunshine.

This is the weekend that I usually plant my flowers. But I’m not 100% sure I want to go get the flowers today, since this whole area has come out of lockdown and, even though we still need to wear masks and only a certain number of people are allowed in the stores at one time, there will likely still be a crowd at the store since the weather will be ideal for gardening and yard work, etc. And that means waiting in a long line to get inside.

So I might just wait until Tuesday, when the holiday weekend is over. But I’m feeling that having my flowers out and about will make it feel like life is finally back to (the new) normal around here.

Nick Cave sent out a very brief Red Hand Files reply-thingy yesterday — it was quite cute, and heavily implied that we should not kowtow to the cat… (You can read it at the link there, it should take you about 4.6 seconds.)

And speaking of cats — every one of them was just so happy around here, yesterday. It was just so sunny and warm, they were having the best time at all the open windows. (And so was I — I love the way this house feels when all the windows are open again.)

Well, for some reason, I’ve been in a real poetry-reading mood around here lately. Even though I still have two books I’m in the middle of reading (Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands by my friend & colleague, Roger Gaess; and The Judas Brief: A Critical Investigation into the Arrest and Trials of Jesus and the Role of the Jews by Gary Greenberg), I’ve just been wanting to read poetry.

Currently, I’m reading Anne Sexton’s Live or Die (1966 — winner of the Pulitzer Prize); Sharon Olds (The Father: Poems (1992) and Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002); and The Poems of Octavio Paz (English translation -2018).

And, since I long ago ran out of Mr. Moto movies to stream, I switched over to the Charlie Chan movies. I have seen all of the Charlie Chan movies that star either Warner Oland or Sidney Toler a bazillion times. I love these movies. (Racial stereotypes galore, notwithstanding.)

Out of the couple of dozens of Charlie Chan movies made, my favorites are the ones from the mid-1930s, that starred Warner Oland, and often Keye Luke as his son.  Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) is great — if you can come to terms with Stepin Fetchit (the actor, Lincoln Perry’s, stage name). It helps to not try to lay contemporary cultural standards over top of these movies from 90 years ago.  If you’re not able to do that, than just don’t even try to watch these films. Otherwise, Charlie Chan in Paris (also 1935) is also really good, followed closely by Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937).

All of these movies were only an hour long and low budget and relied heavily on stock footage, which is one of my favorite things about these films. Actual footage of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings; of Paris, and of Broadway from the mid-1930s. Pre-WWII and moving out of the Great Depression. I especially love the footage of Paris.

Which reminds me — I decided to continue studying French, now that I have the Mondly app for another year. It seemed to me that it would actually be useful to me, instead of undertaking an entirely new language just to do it, without any reason to think I would actually ever use the language anywhere. At least my new friends in Switzerland speak French, so I will have reason to use it all the time.

The Mondly app also lets you have conversations with it and can correct your accent. So far, my accent has been reasonably good! You can hear yourself have the conversation with the app, which is a native-speaker of the language you’re studying. So you can actually hear your own accent immediately. It is a really fun app. However, if you’re trying to seriously learn a language from scratch and are only using the app, I’m not sure how effective it actually is.

Well, anyway! I’m yet again “studying” French — which means 52 years now of “studying” it. Perhaps I should have the epitaph on my tombstone be en francais!! That way, when I stand in front of my own tombstone, in Spirit, I can look at it and cry out: “What does it say??!! I don’t speak French! I’m still studying it!!”

Perhaps I should have the epitaph read:

Qu’est-ce que ça dit? Je ne parle pas français. (“What does that say? I don’t speak French.”)

And then when some non-French-speaking person happens upon my grave here in Crazeysburg, looks at my tombstone and says: “What does that say? I don’t speak French.” I can stand next to them (in Spirit), chuckle softly and say to them: “Au contraire — apparently you do!”

All righty!! Let’s get this day happening here, okay? Thanks for visiting, gang. Have a terrific Saturday, wherever you are in the world!! I love you guys. See ya!

I Guess I’m Gonna Be Brief!!

Sorry for being late this morning.  Not only was it a rain-free and very mild morning around here, but after my first cup of coffee, I also ran out of milk — the only thing I hadn’t foreseen yesterday when I decided to delay my trip into town because of the flooded roads.

And loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I cannot drink my coffee without milk in it.

So, since it was sort of a perfect Spring morning, I went ahead and got into my car and drove into town and was at the market by 8:30am.

I’ve had just a really perfect morning so far, and I’m expecting a really good day ahead. I got some great editing work done on The Guitar Hero Goes Home yesterday and am hoping  that it will be similar today.

I also stopped into the Home Depot while I was in town and I got a bunch more yard waste bags. I can get the front porch area cleaned up in time for the upcoming holiday weekend — which is when I buy my flowers!! I’m getting excited, gang. That feeling of Summer is definitely on its way.

And I forgot to mention that the Amish guys were back in touch with me the other day about giving me a new barn door, so that’s scheduled to happen the first week of June.  I can’t wait. This means that not only will I have a barn door that’s not lying flat on the ground but is on the actual barn where it’s supposed to be, but also I will finally be able to get in and out of the main part of my barn all by myself.  Something I have not been able to do the entire time I’ve lived here. I’ve always needed an extra person to help because part of the door was off of its roller. (Now the whole door is off the rollers and has fallen over for good…)

There’s so much cool old stuff in that barn that now I’ll be able to start going through whenever I want to.  Just a real adventure — going through one hundred years of old stuff!

Okay. I’m going close this and get started here today. The morning is almost over. I hope you are having a perfect Thursday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I leave you with my listening-music from last night. Thanks to a friend on Instagram, I was in a Nina Simone frame of mind, playing a lot of her greatest romantic hits.  This specific song is not romantic and was banned in most of the South when she first recorded it — “Mississippi Goddam” (1964, Live at Carnegie Hall). Listen and think. And have good day. I love you guys. See ya!

“Mississippi Goddam”

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Desegregation
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
Reunification
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That’s it!

© 1964  Nina Simone

Let’s Forget Shopping Today!!

Wow. The first headline I saw on my phone this morning at 5am was that the heavy rains will continue and that one person drowned in the flood yesterday…

I was planning to drive into town to get the groceries today but after seeing that headline, and looking out at the still dark, rainy world outside my bedroom window — I decided that I have enough food around here to last me until tomorrow.

So I guess I’m just gonna plant myself here inside all day today and continue to work on editing the novel (The Guitar Hero Goes Home).

Mostly, I’m looking at the structure of it — and not necessarily the story structure, but the layout.  For whatever reason, the four books I currently have in progress (2 memoirs, 2 novels), have all come out of me in much shorter chapters,or segments — whatever you want to call it. I wouldn’t call it flash — except for perhaps In the Shadow of Narcissa; that one is flash (nonfiction/memoir). But I do really love the whole flash genre of literature, so perhaps on some level, I am creating now in that briefer way.

Even though The Guitar Hero Goes Home already has really short chapters and sub-chapters, I’m still breaking a lot of it up into even smaller sections — or themes, really.

There’s not a ton of sex in the book, but what is in there is usually explicit sex, so part of the structure involves sort of “roping those scenes off” so that they are set up, visually, to feel different, and maybe won’t feel quite as jarring as they have felt to me by not setting them apart. Meaning, the guy is talking about something and then suddenly he’s either talking about or having explicit sex. It feels strange to me. So I think that by giving the reader’s eye a cue that something is changing, it will help the sex stuff feel less out of place.

So that’s what I’m working on around here. When I’m not trying to breathe, that is.

Even though I’m still taking the large doses of Vitamin D, which are definitely helping, I am still having issues with catching my breath and it is making me completely insane. So I began wondering if maybe that specific problem stems strictly from stress and not from the COVID 19. I had the same problem back during 9/11 in NYC — when my C-PTSD was off the charts for several weeks and it was affecting my ability to breathe. Back then, in order to get through the day, I would take one Tylenol PM caplet every few hours in order to calm down, and it would work and then I could breathe.

So yesterday, I started taking one-quarter of one caplet throughout the day, to see if maybe that little bit could calm me down and stop the constant feeling of needing to catch my breath — and it worked, without actually putting me to sleep.

I tell you, though, I am going to be really, really happy when this part of reality is over and something else is going on. (That, hopefully, won’t impair my breathing.) I’m really, really sick of this.

So, this comment doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’ve just written, but I think it’s completely insane that Hollywood is doing a remake of the movie Scarface. I realize that Pacino’s film from 1983 is a remake of the 1932 version, but still. Pacino’s Scarface is simply too legendary for words. Why on Earth remake it? You know how Hollywood has this reputation now of having no original ideas left? Well, hmmm. Can’t imagine why…

For me, it feels sort of like when Bas Lurhmann, for some reason, needed to make a version of The Great Gatsby (2013) that would just jump right into your face. This is a film that had been made first in 1926, then famously redone in 1974, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. And even while it might not have been a complete critical success, it was a legendary version of The Great Gatsby, and it kept to Fitzgerald’s gentle pacing of the book.

Fitzgerald was never a “jump into your face” kind of writer — he crafted every sentence with grace, and beauty, and emotional power. So, rather than turning Fitzgerald’s masterpiece into a bunch of noise, what would have been the harm in writing a whole new story about the Jazz Age that had never been written before, that maybe felt perfectly suited to jumping in our faces?  I guess the harm resides in it being too risky; the resulting story might not have been good enough.

Well, anyway. So a new version of Scarface is getting underway… I’m just glad that cable and streaming platforms helped break television writing wide open because we at least have all of that great (often exceptionally original) writing to turn to now.

And on that lofty note!! I better get started here today. I hope you have a nice (dry) Wednesday, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting, gang!! I leave you with a track from Mark Lanegan’s new album, Straight Songs of Sorrow. The track is “Churchbells, Ghosts.” This album was my listening music from last night. Definitely not cheery, but still really good. So listen and enjoy. (Oh, and hey — maybe even purchase a download at a music streaming platform near you??) Okay. I love you guys. See ya!

 

“Churchbells, Ghosts”

Strange things happen in the city
Strange things happen in the street
Here I am, here I am out here walking
Walkin’ in wilderness so deep
In every passing car I hear her calling
In every one she speeds away
Lord, help me now because I’m bleeding
And I don’t want to fall away

All my life I’ve held this hammer
Hammered boulders into stones
Now I choke on tears of anger
And I am quickly growing cold
Lord, I wish that you could see me

I stagger now a wounded Atlas
Nothing else but blood and bone
Lord, help me now because I’m drowning
My boat don’t know the way to shore

Now I find myself in Kansas
Here I am, here I am, an aging hustler
Born without a mother, born without a soul
I’d ask somebody for a quarter
If there were someone for me to phone
Lord, don’t you hear me? I am calling
Lord, help me now, don’t let me fall

I find myself in Charlotte, find myself in Jacksonville
Here I am, I’m disappearing
There’s nothing left for me to kill
In every train that’s running by me
I hear her singin’ in the wheels
Lord, help me now, I’m going over
Lord, help me now, I’m going down

Lord, don’t you hear me crying?
Don’t you hear me saying goodbye?

© – 2020 Mark Lanegan

Just Oodles & Oodles of Puddles Today!!

A steady beautiful Spring rain out there today — and supposedly it’s going to last all day. Which no doubt means that the Wakatamika Creek is going to flood the bottom land like crazy.

I’ve posted this a few times before, but this is my favorite photo of the Wakatamika Creek in summer — this spot is not too far from me, but it’s in the opposite direction from where it floods like crazy:

 

 

 

Oddly enough, the creek is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.  (It has something to do with where the Muskingum River and the Ohio River meet, because here in Crazeysburg, we are quite far from the Mississippi.)

Wakatamika was a Shawnee Indian name — the Shawnee tribal nation had a settlement along this creek before the Revolutionary War. But literally thousands of years before that, this area was home to the ancient Mound Builders (sun worshipers.)

Here is a beautiful aerial view of some of the many ancient mounds preserved near me — this is over in the town where I do my marketing (the moon, of course, is not always there!!):

We Asked a Historian Where to Go in Ohio - HISTORY This stuff is all part of why I love living out here in the middle of nowhere, where rush hour traffic on Highway 16 constitutes about 10 cars — I’m not exaggerating, either! And we have all this incredible history that’s just lying around.

All righty!

Well, Nick Cave sent out a really beautiful Red Hand Files letter yesterday.  He talks once more about how different his life is now, emotionally, after the death of one of his sons. And he also talks about the Red Hand Files itself, and all the many letters people write to him every day. (He gets about 50 letters a day — and, no, 49 of those are not from me!!)

Sadly, yesterday was yet again mostly about streaming Mr. Moto movies on YouTube. I got some writing done in the morning yesterday, but it wasn’t work-related — it was a letter; but after that, I had no energy left. In fact, last night, I slept for 10 hours. I was so tired. I think I was psychologically worn out, or something like that.

I have to run another quick errand over at the dollar store — why is it that whenever I go into the dollar store, I can never manage to remember to get everything I need in one trip? And on top of that, I come out of there with things I don’t need at all, but which delight me no end!!

For instance, I got this cool light there the other day — it’s one of those Himalayan salt lamps. It’s really small but it was only $5 and I just love it!! It’s supposed to have all kinds of health benefits, but that’s not why I bought it. I bought it because I think they’re cool looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then, of course, I had to make a return trip in order to buy stuff I actually needed. Today, I’m guessing, will be similar. We shall see. I just become spellbound by the weirdest things in that store.

Another thing about this quarantine that I hate, that I know a lot of people are also suffering from (besides getting the stupid virus), I’ve put on quite a few pounds (8!!). Mostly because I do absolutely nothing except a little yoga. A little tai-chi. And I’ve spent, literally, most of the past 2 months in bed. My metabolism is basically non-existent right now. I still eat the usual intensely boring but healthy organic, non-GMO, vegetarian foods, so it makes me angry that I’m putting on weight without even having the thrill of snacking!!

So I bought more ice cream at the dollar store the other day, too. I was just so over it, you know? If I’m gonna put on weight, I want to at least have fun with something that I’m eating around here.

So that’s my big excitement: all-natural vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. I guess I’ll do that (again) until it gets boring.

Meanwhile, the morning is more than half over so I suppose I should get started around here, enjoying my little rainy day. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world.

I leave you with what’s leftover from my letter-writing yesterday. I’m going to try to proceed in life without, you know, having a broken heart. Something like that. (And try to remind myself that “it is better to have loved and lost (and made yourself completely nuts) than never to have loved at all…”) This song is one of Dolly Parton’s legendary hits, from back in the days when I really, really loved her.  (Before she went “Hollywood.”) (I saw her once at the Ohio State Fair and you would not believe how she could play a banjo with those ridiculously long fingernails she has, but she did it.)

Okay, her song from 1974, “I Will Always Love You,” — a song that Whitney Houston had a huge hit with, as well, but I always preferred Dolly’s own version — it just seemed more genuine and heartfelt to me.  So, enjoy. And thanks for visiting, gang! I love you guys. See ya.

“I Will Always Love You”

If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go, but I know
I’ll think of you each step of the way
And I will always love you
I will always love you
Bitter-sweet memories
That’s all I am taking with me
Good-bye, please don’t cry
We both know that I’m not
What you need
I will always love you
I will always love you

I hope life, treats you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you ever dreamed of
And I wish you joy
And happiness
But above all of this
I wish you love
And I will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you

© – 1974 Dolly Parton

Mysterious Vs. the Ordinary!! Oooh, Aaah…

I just love that illustration, gang. A mermaid, puzzled by a shoe! (And it’s also interesting to note that the illustration is from Spring 1925 — almost 100 years ago.)

I don’t know about you guys, but today is a weird day over here.

First on the list, as always: I can’t breathe. But today it seems to be more because it’s incredibly humid here this morning. Not hot at all, actually kind of pleasant, but just humid enough to make it hard for me to breathe. The mega doses of Vitamin D do seem to be helping a lot. But now the air itself seems to be the culprit.

Second, it is the anniversary of two suicides in the music world today, and it is all over Instagram: the 40th anniversary of the death of Ian Curtis (Joy Division), and the 3rd anniversary of the death of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden). So that’s cheery, right?

Luckily, it is also Olivia Harrison’s birthday today — she was George Harrison’s second wife. So that’s nice — a birthday! Except of course that George is dead and has been for a really long time, so we’re back to that.

I’m not sure what to do about today. I like to think I’ll get something creative done, however the lack of easy oxygen makes it difficult for the brain to work. I’m going to at least try, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had to chalk up another day to streaming old Mr. Moto movies again on YouTube (luckily, Peter Lorre made a ton of those films back in the 1930s! So – see?! There’s some good news!!) (And, yes, it is now considered extremely politically incorrect that a German Caucasian portrayed a Japanese detective, however, Peter Lorre is still just wonderful to watch on the screen.) (But it’s also interesting to note that most of the nationalities in the Mr. Moto movies are all screwy. For instance, when Mr. Moto (a German man portraying a Japanese man) is in Peiping (nowadays called Beijing), one of the key Chinese characters is actually a Japanese man.  Stuff like that happens in all of the Mr. Moto movies, because Mr. Moto is always in some intriguing and very dangerous far off foreign land where no one knew for sure what anybody really looked like yet!!)

[I have been corrected by a reader that Peter Lorre, while he did make movies in Germany before emigrating to America, was in fact Hungarian. — Ed.]

Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto – The German Way & More

 

 

 

 

 

“Mr. Moto” was also a song by The Ventures, that absolutely great surf-guitar band from the 1960s!!

However, if I am able to think straight today and do something besides watch Mr. Moto movies, I’ll do some more editing on The Guitar Hero Goes Home. These are not major edits I’m struggling to do here, just minor tweaks here and there. Still, when my brain is not at full capacity, even minor tweaks seem to confound me. I can look at the same sentence twenty times and be unable to decide if I want to tweak it or not. Stuff like that. It makes me utterly insane, and usually, I’ll end up just closing the laptop and walking away.

I am so fed up with this COVID 19 breathing-nonsense. And to add insult to injury — I’m sure you’ve seen the reports that habitual cigarette smokers seem less likely to get severe cases of the virus (because their lungs are perhaps protected by that build up of tar & nicotine)? Of course almost everyone in the world (especially strident mothers of tobacco free teens!!) asks you not to believe this report — along with the World Health Organization, the very same organization that also assured us that COVID 19 was not contagious, so, hmmm…

Decisions, decisions… to smoke or not to smoke??

I am of course just kidding. Still. Wouldn’t that be something if all this time it would have just been better for me to fucking smoke??

Okay, on the personal front. My birth mom has moved off my sister’s farm and is now in a one-bedroom apartment in a senior living place (back in the town where I was actually conceived, if you can imagine that!!).

Greenfield, Ohio | Ohio, Greenfield, Street scenes
I believe the automobiles have changed since then… (and, no, I was not conceived in the backseat of a Buick, I was conceived out in a field on someone’s farm because my parents were not old enough to drive yet!!).

What I find really, really interesting about my mom’s move is that she now lives in the very same apartment complex that her husband lives in! They are still legally married but have not been together as husband & wife since 1978.  But they now live 4 seconds away from each other, and now they hang out together, drink beer and smoke cigarettes.  And she’s 73 now and he’s 83 now, and when they got married she was 15 and he was 25.

I just find that kind of stuff awesome. I mean, come on — there is just no way of knowing where life & time will take us, right?  Except perhaps right back to where we started!

I was 20 when I first got married and my first husband was 25. We met in Brooklyn, NY; I was from Ohio and he was from Singapore. We have become very close again, even though he lives all the way in Seattle and is in a long-time, committed relationship.  Still, wouldn’t it be so weird if, when I’m 73 and he’s 78, we suddenly found that we lived right next door to each other and started to hang out together again, drinking and smoking??

If I live that long, I am not going to dismiss any possibility whatsoever. I guess we’ll just find out.

Well, all righty. I have nothing left to say.

I’m gonna close this and go take some more Vitamin D and another cup of coffee and see if I can get some decent editing done here this morning! I hope Monday is good to you, wherever you are in the world, gang. Thanks for visiting!!

I was only a mild Joy Division/New Order fan, but my favorite song of theirs was one that the late Ian Curtis was a co-writer of, “Atrocity Exhibition” from the infamous 1980 Joy Division album, Closer. I’ll leave you with that today. Okay, I love you guys. See ya!

“Atrocity Exhibition”

Asylums with doors open wide,
Where people had paid to see inside,
For entertainment they watch his body twist,
Behind his eyes he says, ‘I still exist.’

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside…

In arenas he kills for a prize,
Wins a minute to add to his life.
But the sickness is drowned by cries for more,
Pray to God, make it quick, watch him fall.

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside…

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside…

You’ll see the horrors of a faraway place,
Meet the architects of law face to face.
See mass murder on a scale you’ve never seen,
And all the ones who try hard to succeed.

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside…

And I picked on the whims of a thousand or more,
Still pursuing the path that’s been buried for years,
All the dead wood from jungles and cities on fire,
Can’t replace or relate, can’t release or repair,
Take my hand and I’ll show you what was and will be.

© – 1980 Curtis Ian Kevin, Hook Peter, Morris Stephen Paul David, Sumner Bernard

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis