Cheers, Baby!!

And a very happy little Mother’s Day to my birth mom, Cherie.

I’m guessing she will celebrate today with a 6-pack of beer and a pack of Pall Malls and some old style Country & Western music, as she contemplates how she survived giving birth to four babies by the time she was 19 years old…

Okay!!

Mother’s Day is not my favorite day of the year, that’s for sure. It’s just sort of a reminder of how difficult it was to try to make my adoptive mother happy when I was growing up — especially on Mother’s Day.

When I was a wee bonny lass, I used to get a weekly allowance from my dad. This was back in the 1960s, when money went a lot farther. Still, for most of my childhood, I only got 25 cents a week (1 quarter). When you consider that a candy bar only cost 5 cents back then, a quarter wasn’t the worst thing to have when you were 7 years old.

Of course, the only thing I ever wanted back then was record albums. And those were just impossible to afford. Even to buy a 45 RPM was about 3 weeks’ worth of allowance money.  But every year on my birthday, an aunt of mine would mail me a birthday card with a $5 bill inside, and that was absolute heaven to me! It meant I could go straight to Woolworth’s and buy a rock & roll record album, which, back then cost about $3.99.

We had lots of record albums in the house because my parents loved music, but they were all jazz, classical, or Broadway musical albums. And a Top 40 radio station was always playing in our kitchen, or in the car, and I loved Top 40. But I really, really loved The Beatles and The Monkees (a TV show). So, once a year, I had to choose: I could buy one of their albums. For instance:

The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour (Gatefold, Vinyl) | Discogs

OR

Headquarters (The Monkees album) - Wikipedia

The rest of the year, I had to rely on girlfriends who had older sisters who had way more records than we did.

Then, when I started babysitting when I was 11, I finally hit paydirt and could afford to start buying a lot more albums. My taste in records at age 11:

Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden | Discogs

Full Albums: The Rolling Stones' 'Exile on Main Street' - Cover Me

Greatest Hits (The Jackson 5 album) - Wikipedia

500 Greatest Albums of All Time | Imagine john lennon, Imagine ...

At Folsom Prison - Wikipedia

Anyway. That was a digression.  One of the worst Mother’s Days in my memory was when I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I was able to buy a beautiful blooming red geranium for my (adoptive) mother for Mother’s Day from a florist around the corner from our house in Cleveland. I could get there on my bike.  The geranium was inexpensive enough that I could afford it with money from my own piggy bank. And I was so thrilled. Just thrilled — it was the first Mother’s Day that I didn’t have to borrow money from my dad. And when I gave the geranium to my mother, she looked at it with actual disgust and said, “I hate geraniums.” Then she immediately stuck it on the steps out in the dark garage and then, later, threw it into the trash.

Obviously, I have never forgotten that.

And, btw, she did not hate geraniums — she had plenty of geraniums over the years. She just wanted to be mean to me.  (It worked.) (Then multiply that times every day of my life with her…)

Anyway. So, I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day.

Still! I did send my birth mom a pretty card replete with messy glitter, full of gushy sentiments of love.

All righty.

So. Yesterday, I had the best chat so far with the director of Tell My Bones, and the arrangements for the Zoom staged reading just keep getting more and more exciting for me, gang. At this point, it’s going to be June before it will be taped/performed. But that’s really just around the corner, and a ton of stuff has to be organized by then.

I was reluctant, at first, to go the Zoom route but now I’m seeing that there are a lot of options to Zoom that can give it a higher quality than what I’m used to seeing. So I am really getting excited.

Okay. Well. Today I’ll be chatting with Valerie for a while in the early afternoon, but other than that, my only plans are to sit here at my desk and focus on two things: Some editing on The Guitar Hero Goes Home (aka Blessed By Light), and do some new writing on Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town.  (Plus drink a lot coffee. I hate that it’s gotten so cold again and all the windows need to be closed. That fresh air last week was really helping my brain work again. But, in a pinch, I’ll resort to coffee. Or maybe tea.)

Enjoy your Sunday, wherever you are in the world. If you are separated from loved ones today because of the pandemic, I hope that this time next year arrives in a heartbeat and that all will be well in your worlds once more.

Thanks for visiting, gang. I leave you with my rather unexpected breakfast-listening music from this morning. It’ s kind of a sad song, but it’s still really beautiful to listen to, and I’m not sad today; I just wanted something pretty to listen to. So I leave you with “Foi Na Cruz” from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds The Good Son album (1990). Enjoy! And have a wonderful day. I love you guys. See ya!

“Foi Na Cruz”

Foi na cruz, foi na cruz
Que um dia
Meus pecados castigados em Jesus
Foi na cruz
Que um dia
Foi na cruz

Love comes a-knocking
Comes a-knocking upon our door
But you, you and me, love
We don’t live there any more

Foi na cruz, foi na cruz
Que um dia
Meus pecados castigados em Jesus
Foi na cruz
Que um dia
Foi na cruz

A little sleep, a little slumber
A little folding of the hands to sleep
A little love, a little hate, babe
A little trickery and deceit

Foi na cruz, foi na cruz
Que um dia
Meus pecados castigados em Jesus
Foi na cruz
Que um dia
Foi na cruz

Dream on ‘till you can dream no more
For all our grand plans, babe
Will be dreams forever more

Foi na cruz, foi na cruz
Que um dia
Meus pecados castigados em Jesus
Foi na cruz
Que um dia
Foi na cruz

© 1990 – Nick Cave/Traditional

Here’s Hoping Today is Splendid, Gang….

Because yesterday fucking sucked.

I’m guessing the full moon had a lot to do with it. And I had awoken in such a great mood yesterday, but then it was all down hill after that.

I’m not the type of writer who posts negative criticism of the work of other writers. If someone comes to me and wants my honest opinion as an editor, or if I’m teaching a student or something like that, I’m always honest about what I really think.  And I try to be as helpful about it as I can be. But if it’s just my opinion on another writer’s work and it’s negative, then it’s just my opinion and I keep it to myself.

I will say, though, that when I expect amazing work out of a writer because I want to feel that thrill you get when someone’s work really inspires you, really moves you, and even makes you want to live a better life — and then you get the opposite. It is so disappointing to me, gang. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning and not only do you have no presents waiting for you, but someone stole your tree during the night, too.  Just amazing disappointment for me.

Especially when writers just want to give you their anger about life, without sublimating it somehow.

I have plenty of reasons to be angry about my own life, but finding the underlying reasons to still be joyful is what sublimates my whole approach to staying alive. Leaving that part out, in my opinion, makes art meaningless to people who aren’t you — meaning, the readers.

By the end of the day yesterday, I was so disgusted with everything and was really having a lot of questions about my own work, that I couldn’t write anything new.

So I gave up and went downstairs and then I streamed the Joker movie (2019) on Amazon, because, oddly enough, that movie calms me down.  Even while it’s nothing at all like Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), which was just a phenomenal film, there’s something about this new Joker that actually feels like real life to me.

I don’t want to end up killing people. I honestly don’t. And I really don’t see it happening if I haven’t resorted to killing people by now, you know? But I totally relate to what it feels like to have pain upon pain upon pain just heaped on to you, for years; and struggling with mental illness on top of it — and then that’s supposed to be your “life.” And then, after running around helplessly in that dead-end maze, you come to a horrific understanding about your mother, on top of it all.

People can suck big time, without ever having a clue how hard you keep trying — or even just keep trying hard to smile, right?

Totally the Joker.

I try to work my issues out with people by being a writer, obviously. (And by living as far away from humanity as I can possibly get these days,  and only “showing up” in the world when I feel completely ready for it.) But there’s something really psychologically comforting to me when Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker takes a whole other approach. And I also love that so much of society ends up being on his side, too. And helping him, even when it’s by accident.

I also love how much he fucking smokes in that movie. Jesus. One of these days, I am just going to have to start smoking again. The only reason I don’t like to smoke anymore is because it makes my heart race now and makes me feel like shit the following morning. I never actually had a smoking habit. I smoked when I wanted to and that was it. Nowadays, I want to smoke constantly, but I just don’t want to have the awful feeling in the morning.

Well, anyway. So I streamed Joker last evening down at my kitchen table and loved every moment of it (including every moment of Frank Sinatra singing Sondhiem’s “Send in the Clowns” as the closing credits rolled). But then the moment it was all over, I was still left with having had just a lousy day.

That feeling, like: What am I doing any of this for? What the fuck is the reason for all of this? Who am I, anyway? I just can’t figure anything the fuck OUT.

And that’s, unfortunately, the frame of mind I had when I went to sleep.

And today, I awoke in a not so good mood — at all — however, I’m hoping the reverse of yesterday might occur!! And that a not so good morning will lead to a day that just gets better and better as it unfolds.

It’s quite sunny today, but it got really super cold here. In fact, I got up during the night and put the flannel nighshirt over top of my pajamas.  I was absolutely freezing, even with the heat on and two blankets still on the bed.

And now that the virus seems to have completely left me, I’m back to not needing very much sleep at night. So that’s good, and it gives me more energy so I hope the brain just shifts into high gear today, and I can get some good work done on Thug Luckless. (And maybe take up smoking again.)

All righty. Well. I hope today is good to you, wherever you are in the world.  And I hope the full moon hasn’t been vexing you the way it’s been vexing me around here.  Thanks for visiting, gang. My breakfast-listening music today was once again “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which I posted here recently.  So I think I’ll just post the true musical high point from Joker (I won’t include spoilers of what’s happening on the screen) — when  Frank Sinatra is singing “That’s Life.” Lyrics are in the video.

Enjoy, gang. But don’t shoot anyone, okay? Try to figure out a better way of looking at everything — and if nothing else works, just call me. We’ll figure something out! Okay. I love you guys. See ya!!

Thank God It’s Whatever Day It Is Now!!

Okay, so here’s something funny.

You know how I can never figure out how to save other people’s Instagram photos to my own private photos on my phone?

Well, of all the photos I have absolutely loved over the last couple  years, and couldn’t save, yesterday I accidentally managed to save this one!! And while I do love it, and consider it a motto to live by, I’m not sure I actually need it on my phone. How on earth did I do it? (And can I repeat it? — is the most important question!!)

I so fucking LOVE this. The best 17 words ever. This saves me from having to actually write my memoirs…

 

 

 

 

 

Okay! On a similar happy note… I got great writing done yesterday on Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town. I am really happy with the tone of it and with where it’s heading. I am still only on Chapter One because I am totally re-writing what I had originally written last fall, or whenever it was that I began writing this novel. But it’s like night & day — the difference in the tone of it.

Other good news — the mourning dove eggs have hatched! There are now little chirping baby mourning doves, in the nest that’s in the rafters of the roof overhanging my front porch. And one heck of a busy mom, darting back & forth, and back & forth, all day long, trying to keep them fed.

It’s a rainy day here today.  But, of course, I’m not planning on going anywhere. This afternoon, online, is that fundraiser for Marcus Books in Oakland, CA.  (Noon, Pacific Time/ 3pm Eastern Time.) A live poetry reading. (If you want to attend it, the details are here. They ask you to purchase a ticket, at whatever you can afford, because it is, of course, a fundraiser.)

I also have a couple of private invites to watch some short subject films premiering online today. So I’ll do that, too. But other than that, I’m just going to work on the new novel. And probably do yoga.

Bob Dylan dropped another new song yesterday. This one titled “False Prophet.” And they announced that his new album is coming this summer, titled Rough and Rowdy Ways. It is available for pre-order wherever you get your music from.

I like “False Prophet” but so far, I have only listened to it one time and, once again, while I was doing something else. So I wasn’t really listening that closely to the words. I’m not really sure what it’s about yet. But I loved the feel of it — blues. And the sound of his voice.

Okay, so I just went into my storage closet to find a Neo/Matrix McFarlane action figure from 1999, and instead I found my collection of Olympia Press Paris first editions (!!!) that Richard Kasak had given to me as a gift a couple of decades ago. (Gift meaning, absolutely FREE.)

They are all first edition Olympia Press Paris titles, but a couple are also actually first editions that ever appeared in print, anywhere — and, at the time of publication, were still illegal in the US and the UK. Including:

1959, and 1961

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that amazing?? Kasak was in publishing for so many decades — starting at Grove Press — that he didn’t even care about most of what he had anymore.  Obviously, he knew what Maurice Girodias and the Olympia Press meant to me and one day he just gave me all of those books. I think there are about 10 titles in the collection. And none of them have ever been read.

Well, that was an unexpected little digression!

Okay. I guess I’d better get started here today, gang. I hope you have a nice Friday, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from today. I think I posted it here once before, a few months ago. “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart,” from the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds cover album, Kicking Against the Pricks (1986).  (Oh my god, 700  million people keep texting me. I am so serious. I really gotta close this and get to work here.) Okay, gang. Enjoy!! And thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya!!

I knew this chick was a liar, but come on….

Yes, I’m sorry!!

I said I would be back here to post again yesterday but I lied.

But I’m here now, so let’s just move on! All righty??!!

Well, the sad news first: Today is that dreaded day that comes once every 3 months, when I have to go down into my super scary, 119-year-old unfinished basement and change the filter in my furnace.

I can’t tell you how much I don’t look forward to doing that. Even though, once I’m down there, it’s never as bad in reality as it is in my imagination. It’s just that forcing myself to go down those stairs at all is the really hard part.

Well, okay. Just had to stop and have a phone chat with the director of Tell My Bones. I was going to post here today about how happy I am with how the plans for the Zoom staged reading of the play are progressing!! So I will just go ahead and say that right now:

I’m really happy with how the plans for the Zoom staged reading of the play are progressing!!

I really am, gang. I am getting so excited. Even though it’s not the whole play, and all the music is being taken out to simplify the reading, you will still be able to get a good feel for the overall play.  Plus, I personally can’t wait to start hearing actual people reciting the dialogue, you know??

Between the four years it’s taken me to adapt this play from the film script version, and then the few years that I was focused just on the film script version — that’s a long time to have this story in my head and never hear a single other soul speaking a single one of these lines of dialogue. So I am getting really excited.

The other good news, of course, is that they finished putting the new roof on my barn yesterday. And I am so happy, gang!! Unfortunately, the back alley and one segment of Basin Street are now littered with the bodies of neighbors who died from heart attacks yesterday afternoon  because they didn’t think I was ever gonna fix that roof, but oh well. That’s the trade-off, I guess.

Of course, I jest! No one died. But I did indeed notice people noticing it, that’s for sure.  So it is a huge relief for me to finally have that barn looking more presentable. It still needs re-painting, but the worst part of it is now over.

And not only am I starting to make some interesting progress on the new novel, Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town, that is making me feel really happy, but I am also coming into a new relationship with Blessed By Light, which is now indeed going to be officially titled The Guitar Hero Goes Home. (So, as of today, I will no longer be calling that novel by its old title, okay? Hopefully, it will not be too confusing.)

It’s really interesting how, having the virus completely gone now, is making my brain work again.

Valerie in Brooklyn sent me a link during the night to an article in a NYC newspaper, where they interviewed people who had recovered from the virus to find out what the virus had felt like. It is the darnedest thing — how differently it affected different people. But there were two people interviewed who had the exact same experiences that I had: mainly, the weight of an anvil on the lungs, inability to breathe, overwhelming fatigue, and inability to think straight. (I also had the loss of the senses of taste & smell.)

Anyway. It just feels so great to be back to normal. And also to be able to work out again. Yoga especially feels so good now.

All right, well, the day before yesterday, Nick Cave sent out another Red Hand Files letter. It was one of the sadder ones, where he replies to people who are struggling with the deaths of their own children and he talks about how he and his wife continue to manage their grief over the death of one of their sons. You can read what he says at the link there. It’s enlightening.

Well, it’s another beautiful day here, but a little chilly. I did make a quick trip into town yesterday to buy more groceries and — YES — to buy yard waste bags in order to start raking up all those dead leaves outside my backdoor.  Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll do it today or not, only because it’s cold out. Not because I’m (still !!!) being incredibly lazy.

I did notice, on the trip to town and back, that traffic is back to normal now around here. A lot of Ohio is coming out of lockdown, though not all of it. (And you still have to wear a mask pretty much anywhere you go.) But there was plenty of traffic. It’s no longer a ghost town anymore. And the gas prices are inching upwards. It felt good to see that. Although in the county where my dad lives, they are getting new confirmed cases of the virus every day. So the more populated urban areas of the State are still having issues. But it was good to see that for a lot of us, we are now entering that light at the end of the tunnel. For now.

Okay, I’m gonna close this because I want to get started on some writing and editing here today.  I leave you with three options. My music-listening from last evening — an old song by Shaggy from 20 years ago (!!) that they play on TikTok constantly and the chorus always just cracks me up. Talk about infidelity, right? “It Wasn’t Me” (2000, from his album Hot Shot): “But she caught me on the counter (It wasn’t me)/ Saw me bangin’ on the sofa (It wasn’t me)/ I even had her in the shower (It wasn’t me)/ She even caught me on camera (It wasn’t me)…” 😂

And then this morning, my breakfast-listening music was from an upcoming new album by Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade: Round Again. The song is “Right Back Round Again.”

And then this one will give you sort of an idea of what some of the music to Tell My Bones will eventually sound like!! This is a vintage recording from Smithsonian Folkways Records of Ella Jenkins and the Goodwill Spiritual Choir of the Monumental Baptist Church!

All righty. Thanks for visiting, gang. Have a great Thursday, wherever you are in the world. Enjoy that Super Flower Moon in Scorpio tonight!! Assuming you live with someone you don’t have to stay 6 feet away from, this is supposed to be a very, very sexy full moon, so enjoy those vibes! (Since I live alone and dearly love myself, perhaps tonight I will, I don’t know, take up smoking cigarettes again!! Yay!) (Remember that old joke about cigarettes and sex? HE: “Do you smoke after you do it? “ SHE: “I don’t know, I never looked.”)

Okay, on that happy note. I’m outta here. I love you guys. See ya!

What about just being happy — has she thought of that?!

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve gone about 36 hours now, being able to breathe just fine. And I know for sure now that the virus is completely gone. All the pressure is 100% out of my lungs.

Yet, I awoke at about 4am, knowing for certain that I was completely well again, after an entire month of dealing with that virus, and all I could do was cry. For, like, two hours. It’s been the weirdest morning.

I don’t know whether it was because my body was letting go of everything — the stress of having to always overcompensate for not getting enough air. Or what.  But it was just weird. Especially since, yesterday, for the most part, I had just the best day.

I know that part of what made me sad, though, is that yesterday evening, when I went across the road to get my mail, there was a letter in there from my dad. And it was a list of all his art pieces and I was supposed to put a check mark next to any of the things I wanted  after he’s gone, or in the event he has to go into the actual nursing home and thus downsize.

It was depressing. There are a few pieces I actually really want but I have no room for anything whatsoever. No room at all. One is a painting of empty boats at a dock that my dad has had forever. Another is a crystal sculpture of the sail of a sailboat — something else he’s had for most of my life. And so I would like to have those things. The other is a somewhat enormous wooden model of a galleon ship, replete with sails. My dad built it and it’s really awesome. However, it’s also really just huge, you know? I have absolutely no room for it. And it doesn’t actually make me think of my dad, because it’s not that old. It actually makes me think of Ghosteen, by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (“Galleon Ship”), and so I want it, too.

Even though I actually really want these things, what the heck am I supposed to do with them? So I know that was weighing on me — the idea that my dad sent me that letter, I mean. That alone stressed me out. But that’s not enough to make me cry for two hours the following day…

I think that, mostly, my writing is weighing on me. Just generally.

I had a great session with Peitor yesterday. We worked for two hours on revising the “Lita” script and we are just about done with that. All we have left after that will be to create the pitch deck presentation.

And I made the decisions to hire a “happiness engineer” to help me put the rest of the web site together.  (It really has just gotten to be too much for me to figure out how to make the most with these “user friendly” web templates. And it just makes me so frustrated. I can’t tell you how simple it used to be to throw together amazing looking web pages, just knowing html and a little bit of java code, you know?)

Anyway. I decided to release that stress and just hire someone at WordPress to make sure it got done correctly. So that Peitor and I can keep moving forward and be ready with everything the moment LA gets back to normal. And he and I are both really excited about the studio in Alabama, too. Just having access to that space, with the cinematographer right there. It’s going to be so much fun.

Plus he and I have never been able to travel much together, but when we do, we really have fun. Once, about twenty years ago, we took a trip to Catalina Island, back when it was still really charming, and we had just the best time. We stayed in a bed & breakfast that used to be the writer Zane Grey’s estate. (And oddly enough, the County Seat of Muskingum County is Zane Grey’s birthplace — isn’t that weird?)

We laughed like crazy that whole trip. In fact, here’s a photo of Peitor in our room at the bed & breakfast — 20 years ago:

 

 

 

 

 

He’s in his 40s here and he looks so young! It’s hard to believe we’d already known each other 15 years by this point. How young were we when we actually met, you know??!!  (We met at the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC, when I was 25 and he was 27.)

So, I’m really looking forward to the Alabama trip.  And the director of Tell My Bones texted again, saying that he was going to call this morning to give me an update on what he and the producer of the staged reading are mapping out. So I’m excited about that.

Not a whole lot of reasons to cry here, right? So I just don’t know.

I sat at my desk and read over what I have so far of Thug Luckless yesterday. I wasn’t unhappy with it, I just wasn’t sure how to proceed with it. And that bothered me.

And then I took a look at the beginning of Blessed By Light (or whatever I’m planning to call it) to begin the final edit of that and as much as I love that novel, it disturbs me that I always manage to write things that are just so impossible to market, you know? And it’s not like that’s ever my goal, or anything. I’m just lucky that way.

So that depressed me a little bit, so I closed the file and, instead, began reading the latest newsletter from the Biblical Archeological Society. There were several really cool articles about the Canonical Gospels. One, specifically, about the Hebrew-language origins of the Gospel of Matthew. And it also examined how later versions of all the Gospels seriously revised the role of John the Baptist, in order to make Jesus seem more like God. And that kind of stuff always fascinates and disturbs me. (Meaning the manipulation of information in order to control people.)

And just as I was deep into reading a section about the symbolic role of Lazarus in the Book of John, I got an alert on my computer screen that Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds had just uploaded something to YouTube. So I clicked on it and suddenly Nick Cave is reciting from And the Ass Saw the Angel, saying, “Pa beat the mule to death in Autumn…”

Jesus Christ, you know? (No pun intended.) But I certainly wasn’t expecting that. (I love that novel, but still. Whoa. Thank you for putting that image into my head…)

I listened to the whole thing because it was only 2 minutes long, but then decided to close down the computer for the night. I went down to the kitchen and streamed a PBS special, titled Inside the Vatican. It was really interesting. All the various people who work at the Vatican are so cool; they have such meaningful jobs, you know? But it made me feel like I don’t really know what my purpose is anymore — or if I even have one. I know that I don’t actually need a purpose in order to exist. But it just felt disconcerting.

And I’m guessing the tears this morning stemmed from that, which I know must be connected to my writing in some way. Now that I’m finally well, and what’s left of my life is still ahead of me, what am I planning to do? Right?

And then I was really missing that man who died a couple years ago. He had this really uncanny way of knowing exactly what I should do about everything. And I mean, everything — all the things that mattered to me.  He would just tell me what to do, and he would always be right.

And then he died, and I went back to floating off on my little cloud again.

Well, in other good news: The Amish guys called yesterday to say that, weather permitting, they will be here on Saturday to put the new roof on my barn! And that really does make me happy. I can’t wait. And now that I’m finally really well, I can start cleaning up that backyard — get all the dead leaves raked up and out of there. Get ready for summer.

Okay. On that note! I’m gonna close this and get started on something around here. I hope you have a really good Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. I’ll leave you with “Galleon Ship,” off of Ghosteen, even though I think I might have already posted it here once before. I can’t remember! Anyway. I love this song. Enjoy! And thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya!

 

Finally!! A Good Morning!!

Guess who woke up breathing today??!!

Not only did I wake up breathing, but I got out of bed and went downstairs and was still breathing. And the morning has officially gotten underway here and I’m still breathing.

I can only hope this means that the virus is actually completely gone.

I even extended the yoga yesterday to half an hour instead of just the 15 minutes I’d been doing for a few days now, and I still woke up breathing.  I didn’t go in reverse at all. So I’m thinking that maybe I’m finally really well, gang.

I can’t tell you how relieved that makes me feel.

I slept with all the windows in my bedroom partially open all night, too. Even though it cooled down during the night, it felt so good to have all that fresh air. So maybe that helped, too.

It’s really just a gorgeous morning here today, gang. I’m in the best mood, too.

Peitor and I are planning to actually work on the “Lita” script today. Just checking the script for typos (there are tons!), and making sure the formatting is as readable as possible.  The script is 98% shots, lenses, blocking — it doesn’t read like a normal script does. So now we’re trying to make it “readable” for the other people involved.

I’m also feeling inspired today in two different directions, finally. Doing a final edit to Blessed By Light (and probably changing the title to The Guitar Hero Goes Home), in preparation for getting it into a publishable format. And also doing some brand new writing on Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town.

BTW, I did try to watch another episode of “Dummy” on Quibi (the show about the girl who befriends her boyfriend’s AI sex doll and they go on a road trip). But I just couldn’t stick with it. There are a lot of elements to the show that I like, however, the dialogue just aims way too low. And, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to. It could still be racy and dirty and challenging and funny, without resorting to just being smutty.

(You know, if I was able to laugh out loud over the dialogues between Adolph Hitler and a 10-year-old Nazi boy in JoJo Rabbit, then we ought to be able to move mountains — dialogue-wise — with an AI sex doll, right? I should think so.)

Okay.

I finally finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera. And instead of picking up Rilke (for now), I went for James Merrill’s The Changing Light At Sandover because I really am feeling like getting underway again with Thug Luckless. And I keep thinking that something about Sandover is going to inform the direction of Thug Luckless. (For some inexplicable reason, a few months ago, it occurred to me that the original name of P-Town before the Apocalypse was “Sandover.” I’d like to find out why that came to me.)

So I’m feeling inspired. And it really has been weeks since my mind was clear enough to attempt any new writing. So I just feel really happy.

Oh, and another “btw” — I looked through all the old lyrics & music sheets yesterday and never did find the chords I was looking for to that song! I found chords for everything else. Apparently, I thought the chords to that one song would simply live on forever in my mind. I did see a ton of set lists that indicated the song was in the key of C# — but I guarantee you, I never wrote a song in the key of C# in my life. That has to be something the lead guitar player changed at some point.  But it doesn’t help me. I see something now like the “key of C#” and my brain implodes. (“What the fuck is C#? How do my fingers do that? And what other horrible chords go along with it???” — stuff like that.)

Okay!!! So. Have a great Monday, wherever you are in the world, gang.  (May the 4th be with you, and all that happy Star Wars stuff!) I’m gonna leave you with two options today, both of which I have posted here before. My breakfast-listening music — John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (1964) (because I was feeling supremely happy about love at breakfast today). And my post-breakfast-listening music, “Little Empty Boat,” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, from their B-Sides & Rarities collection (1997, 2005). Enjoy!! Make it a really great day, okay? I love you guys. See ya.

 

It Can’t Possibly Be All The Booze…

I used to love to drink and drinking used to love me — until I was about 42, or something like that. I don’t know. Somewhere around there, it stopped being fun.

Still, it doesn’t account for something astounding that I discovered yesterday. Because back in NYC when I was a songwriter — I never drank while writing. Nor did I ever do any drugs. I didn’t even smoke. I never wanted anything besides maybe caffeine to assist my brain while I was writing.

Although I’ve always kind of secretly wished I could be like Kerouac, or Philip K. Dick, or Stephen King in the early days, and just get really fucked up and see what came out. Take a bunch of speed and just start churning it, you know? However, I was never like that. Even though I did at times do a ton of speed and a ton of drinking when not writing.

Anyway. I was fooling around with my guitar yesterday afternoon and I couldn’t remember the chords to a song I’d written back in 1984 — a song that I played live for years. I was drawing a complete blank.

So I went to the storage closet and found the files that had all my old songs in them. And it was such a weird thing: there were quite a number of songs in there from the later days of my songwriting that I had no memory of whatsoever. And according to all the set lists I had stuffed in the files, too, I played those songs live a lot.

I even looked at the bottoms of the lyrics pages to see if maybe they were covers of someone else’s songs, but they all had my copyrights on them. Clearly, I’d written them.

It felt so fucking strange. And reading over the lyrics — they were good songs. Although they looked like they leaned more towards country than folk, but still good lyrics. And yet I had no clue what the melodies were that went along with them. It was like I’d never seen those songs before in my life. And yet there were lead sheets printed up and stored in there and everything.

It turns out that every song I ever wrote from 1974 (!!!!!) until 1994 — when I finally stopped the songwriting and focused on fiction writing exclusively — are in those files. There are songs in there from the early 80s that I never actually performed because I didn’t think they were very good — those songs I still remember perfectly — melodies and lyrics. I remember them; I just never really liked them. So the fact that a bunch of songs that I thought were good enough to perform (all the time) in the early 1990s– and I don’t remember them at all?

It felt like maybe somewhere in there, I became another person. You know? Like I split off into some other probable reality. Something like that. I’m serious. It really felt like that. What woman who had my name wrote and sang those songs?

All the songs –except for one — that I wrote between 1970 and 1973 are gone forever because I lost that notebook somewhere after moving to NYC in 1980.  The one song that I still have from 1970 (yes, from when I was 10), I still have only because it was actually used in a short film that my Girl Scout troop made about air pollution for a huge conference on the environment that was held in downtown Cleveland that year. And the lyrics were also printed in the school bulletin, which my parents kept and then gave to me years later. (It’s a rather political song, as perhaps you can guess, since it was about the environment. Cleveland had horrific problems with pollution. We had steel mills and the auto industry back then. Cleveland is also notorious for having had an actual river that was so polluted it caught on fire — yes, a river that caught on fire.)

Help light Ignite, a celebration of the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire ...
Cuyahoga River on fire in Cleveland, 1969

So that one song survives. And I don’t think I really need to see all the many songs I wrote from when I was 10 until I was 12 that are lost now. It would be cool, I guess. But I don’t really need to ever see them again.

That said, though, the songs I looked at yesterday from 1974 — when I was still only 13 — were interesting enough, thank you. Jesus. And then I found songs in there from 1975 — when I was in the mental hospital for 5 months.  That’s when I closed the files and walked away.

Until yesterday, I had no clue any of those really old songs were in there. I’d thought that anything before 1981 was lost for all time. I glanced quickly through the old songs but I didn’t have the stomach to actually read them — especially those ones written in the mental hospital. I was only looking for chords for that one specific song from 1984, anyway — which I never did find. Although I found the original lyrics, which look like this:

Song in progress, 1984. NYC. I even made a note there that my grandfather was in the hospital back home in Ohio and that a cousin was having another baby. Knowing me, I probably wrote letters to them. I was always a big letter-writer (still am), even though almost no one ever wrote me back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yesterday was really very interesting. I will probably look over those files again today, because I know the chords to that song must be in there somewhere. And I think I might force myself to read over some of those lyrics from over 40 years ago. Plus, I even found the lyrics to 3 songs that Peitor and I wrote together back in, like, 1986 or something like that. One of those songs is one we always really loved, it’s titled “(I Can’t Help It If) I’m Still In Love With You.”

The demo was quite plaintive and little-girl-sounding. Tons of reverb on my angelic vocal and on his piano, and it had some sort of rain sound in the background, and the ubiquitous drum machine from those days. And the lyrics were essentially: you suck, the world sucks, my whole life now sucks because I met you in the first place and now you left me but I can’t help it, I’m still in love with you.

That kind of thing — but not in those words, of course. Peitor and I had a blast recording that. It was funny to us but, you know, it was actually good. It wasn’t a funny song — just funny to us.

Anyway. I guess it’s good that I saved all this stuff. I can’t imagine what if anything it really means to me all these decades later — to who I am as a writer. But I’m glad I’ve got them.

On the virus front: I’m feeling really good today…So here’s hoping. One of these darn days, I have to be actually really well. Right?? Maybe today will be the day…

Okay. Here is the cover art for the forthcoming Marc Bolan tribute album, AngelHeaded Hipster (produced by Hal Willner who I think just died in NYC from the virus). This is the album where Nick Cave sings “Cosmic Dancer” — and sings it so beautifully. I don’t even know how many times I’ve already watched the video. I just love it.

 

 

 

 

 

And I’m still loving that Bad Seed TeeVee. I’m still finding stuff on there that I haven’t seen yet — or even seen before, ever.  It’s just so cool.

And on a somewhat unrelated music note– have you noticed that everyone’s buying ukuleles again? I mean, like, everyone’s buying them. And they have all different colors now, all different price ranges, too. Of  course, the one I like best is the Epiphone Les Paul tenor acoustic-electric ukulele (below) — I’m not certain of this, but I don’t think there’s a more expensive one out there, so of course it’s the one I love. I’ve come close to buying it several times already…

Epiphone Les Paul Tenor Acoustic/Electric Ukulele 2019 - vintage ...

Anyway, on that note… I’m going to get Sunday underway over here. I hope yours is a good one, wherever you are in the world. I leave you today with probably the most famous/favorite ukulele song, ever. From the late Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole; “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Enjoy, gang. And thanks for visiting. Make it a good one, okay? I love you guys. See ya.

Let’s Call It Beautiful!!

I am once again back to not being able to breathe, which so fucking sucks, gang. However, it is a truly gorgeous day here today so I have decided to just ignore that feeling of suffocation…

(Honestly, though, sometimes I feel like it is going to be like this for the rest of my fucking life. It’s been one month already. Yesterday was absolutely perfect. I was breathing great all day, all night. I thought the damn virus was really over.)

Meanwhile…

The birds are building nests everywhere, all around the outside of my house.  So much life going on around here. And that damaged soffit above the back door, where the starlings build nests each spring? There are several little cubbyhole type things inside the exposed eaves and it turns out that not only starlings have built nests in there, but sparrows, too.  Equal Opportunity Housing around here — we do not discriminate!

I found that really interesting, though, you know? Different types of birds, building their nests so close together. I didn’t know they did that.

There is also a starling nest in a hollow in the maple tree right outside my bedroom window. And a mourning dove has built a nest up inside the roof that extends over my front porch.

Soon enough it will sound like the Twilight Zone out there. Have you ever heard what its like when baby starlings cry out for food? It’s truly intense — other-worldly sounding. And then add to it baby mourning doves and baby sparrows. It will likely be very interesting. A celebration of noisy life, every day.

So.

Yesterday, I had a great phone chat with Peitor about Abstract Absurdity Productions stuff. It turns out that the cinematographer who will be shooting several of our micro-shorts has a 5,000 square foot studio in Alabama, not far from Memphis (!!.) (Yay — I love Memphis, gang!!) And since there’s no telling when LA will be back to normal after the virus, Peitor wants to use the studio in Alabama to shoot several of the micro-shorts — including maybe even the “Lita” film, because he can build the exact sets he wants for “Lita” in that size space.

I am so fucking excited, gang!! The studio also has sleeping accommodations, so he and I can sleep right there at the studio. The shooting will likely begin sometime this summer, so that has perked my spirits.

Between that news and the continuing good news about the staged reading of Tell My Bones, I’m not really even noticing that I’m not getting any new writing done yet. (Well, I am kinda noticing, but I’m trying to keep my attention on stuff that makes me feel good.)

I am almost done reading Love in the Time of Cholera. It has been so much fun to be able to lie around in bed and read that again, gang. I can’t even tell you. (Part of having this virus has been sort of good for me — forcing me, for the very first time in my whole life, to just lie around and not do anything.)

Next, I think I’m going to re-read Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet. I took that down from the bookshelf yesterday and was glancing through it. I haven’t read it in close to 40 years. I think it would be really cool to see how I react to it now. I remember that I loved the book, but I don’t really remember much about it anymore.

I took it off the shelf yesterday because I finally streamed the movie JoJo Rabbit (2019). (Rilke’s work is mentioned a few times in the film.) I’ve been wanting to watch that movie for months and for some reason, yesterday was the day I finally decided to watch it.

What a film. I’m not really even sure what to say about it  — how did I feel? It was disturbing on  many levels — Nazis and Hitler, and publicly hanging people who were helping Jews. (Horrible images that were a huge part of what haunted my childhood.) But the film was also really funny, too. And also very endearing. Just way out in left field, you know? Just so well done.  I loved it, but the reality of that war is a steady under current that is hard to “love,” you know? But they managed to make the whole thing just really moving.

And then ending the film with Bowie’s German-language version of “Heroes” was just brilliant. I’d forgotten all about that. At one point, a musician I used to hang out with a lot in NYC had the German-language version of that song on cassette, and I remember feeling like the song just sounded overwhelming in German.

And it still does.

The choices of music throughout the film, though — including Bowie at the end — added a sort of emotional distance to that horrible under current of the reality of that war, which, you know — I’m not sure how I really feel about that. But I did really love that film.

But it also made me wonder, at what point is the buffer of time malleable enough to take atrocities and skew them in a way that enables us to make light of them in whatever ways? We can watch that film and appreciate that the Jews are now considered human and their lives valuable; but the German survivors of the war suffered unspeakably, too, albeit in a wholly different way, when the allies came in to free Berlin. German children, German women. Starvation and unbelievable poverty. And the endless, endless months of Russian soldiers raping the women of Berlin every single day.

None of that stuff is even hinted at in the film — if you don’t know your history, that is, and can’t fill in the blanks. And so what’s left is this joy over a Jewish girl being freed and a 10-year-old Nazi boy seeing the light and Bowie singing on the soundtrack.

I guess if we can distance ourselves emotionally and be selective about the details and about which details we want to give a sort of magical realism to all these decades later, we can then make a really effectively entertaining film and even find reasons to laugh…

(Yeah — I’m really fun to go to the movies with.)

Anyway.

I wanted to mention that next Friday afternoon, May 8th, live on Facebook, Marcus Books in Oakland, California, which is the oldest independent  Black bookstore in America, is having a poetry reading to support the bookstore. You can find out about it here. Some amazing poets will be reading live.

On that note, I think I’ll get my day underway over here. I’ve noticed my breathing has improved now, so maybe it’s just that early morning thing — once the body gets increasingly more awake, the breathing gets better? I hope so. I’d like to have another whole day where I feel fine again.

I hope you have a nice Saturday, gang, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with two things today. One, the official video of “Loverman,” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds that is in regular rotation on Bad Seeds TeeVee. ( I love this video.) (The song is from the 1994 album Let Love In — one of my favorites!!) And the other is the aforementioned German-language version of Bowie’s song “Heroes” (1977). Enjoy, and have a great day, okay? I love you guys. See ya.

 

Looks like my worst mistake was my best one!!!

Remember yesterday? Remember how I almost died there in my kitchen, trying to breathe while my lungs exploded after I used the steroid-based allergy spray for the first time in a month?

It took awhile for the feeling to level off, but it does seem like the steroids actually helped. By the end of yesterday, I was breathing normally for the first time in a month. And so far today, I’m still breathing normally.

So I used the allergy spray again this morning, since I need it for my allergies…

I hate to speak too soon, because every time I post here that it seems like I’m nearly 100% fine — finally — I then get breathing issues again. However, I actually am feeling just about 100% totally fine. So we’ll just see.

Well, my dad is leaving the house today for the first time in 6 weeks because he has a doctor’s appointment. When he told me about this yesterday, I was totally speaking to him like he was a two-year-old: Wear your mask, don’t touch anything, don’t speak to anybody, wash your hands! I was so not happy that he was planning on leaving the assisted living “compound,” you know? He’s almost 90 and he’s made it for 6 weeks without getting the virus.  And he lives in a county that has a high rate of not only the virus, but also deaths from the virus.

But off he goes to the doctor today, so we’ll just see about that, too.

All things considered, yesterday was a really good day around here. I discovered that the very old tree in my backyard  is a dogwood tree! I noticed yesterday that it was in bloom, so I went out to look at its blossoms and, lo & behold — it’s a dogwood. All the other dogwoods in town have lost their blossoms already and are green now.

I love dogwoods so much that I was even thinking recently that I should plant a dogwood tree in my backyard. And in keeping with the absolute magical nature of this crazy town — voila! — I suddenly discover that I have one!

The tree is ancient. Last spring, I did notice that it had some sort of white blossoms on it but I never took the time to really investigate them. However, since this spring I am just indescribably here, 24/7, and always looking out the kitchen window at my backyard, I took the time to really look at it. Plus, this spring, it seems to have way more blossoms than it had last year. So, what a great discovery.

My dogwood, yesterday afternoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, yesterday, the a1000mistakes blog out of Australia posted that Einstürzende Neubauten has a new album coming out on May 15th, Alles in Allem, and that they dropped an official video for a new song, “Ten Grand Goldie,” featuring Blixa Bargeld singing in a lovely surgical mask.

I watched that video many times yesterday — some of the lyrics are in English, but most of them are in German, so I have no idea what the song is about, but I still really liked watching it. (And it could very well be that even if I understood German, I still wouldn’t know what the song is about, because I don’t really understand what most Einstürzende Neubauten songs are about. ) Anyway. It’s posted below.

I also watched a video for The Birthday Party’s song from 1983, “Fears of Gun” numerous times.  Whoever put together the images for the video, I liked it a lot. It’s an intense song and I don’t think I ever really understood that song, either, even though it’s in English. It has something to do with not being super happy about love, though — and so on and so on…

I also streamed the movie The Vicious Circle, a British crime-thriller from 1957, starring John Mills (father of the indescribably adorable, Hayley). It was really good. I loved the cinematography — great black & white footage of London in the late 1950s. Plus, I never did figure out who the murderer was until the final 3 minutes of the film, so that was cool.

And I also did some thinking yesterday about how I’m feeling about my writing, even though I didn’t actually do any writing yet. When I spoke to the director of Tell My Bones on Wednesday, he mentioned again how “risky” the scene/song is that’s all about lynchings and slave auctions. And he kept saying that he loved it, and was standing by it, but that it was so risky. So I thought about that a lot yesterday, too — you know, like, why does he keep saying that it’s risky? Am I really setting myself up here?  To me, it just feels powerful and completely unexpected. Which, to me, is art, you know? It won’t be included in the staged reading, because none of the actual musical numbers will be included. But I know that it will at least be “alluded” to and I’m really curious to see how they’re going to do that.

Also, yesterday night, Dana Petty uploaded a photo she took of Tom Petty and their dog, Ryder, on a deserted  Malibu beach at sunset.  (If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, their dog, Ryder, died the other night.) Wow, what a stunning photo. It was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. I know there must be a way to copy photos from Instagram, because I see Instagram photos on Pinterest a lot, but I do not know how to do it. So you’ll either have to follow Dana Petty on Instagram, or simply take my word for it that it was a really touching photo, even though it’s mostly a photo of Tom Petty from behind, as the dog is running toward him, along the beach. (It did have the feeling like the two of them were already in heaven…)

Okay, well. Today is May 1st ! Which was Elvis & Priscilla’s wedding day. And also my own wedding day — back in 1993. I have no idea where the time went, so don’t even ask me!! But May 1st, nonetheless, is one of my favorite days of the year.

I believe in spring weddings — I really do. I’m totally into the whole “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time” idea. Both my weddings were in the spring. (And I actually left both marriages in the spring, although I didn’t plan it to be like that.) If I ever get married again, I think I’d like to choose a spring day that doesn’t actually exist — you know, make something up: like, Tuenesday May 34th. Something like that. And perhaps then the marriage will only exist in theory and thus be a spectacular success. We’ll see!!

Okay. I’ve just been notified on Instagram that Bad Seeds TeeVee has just had some new videos uploaded to it, so I will no doubt watch that again today! I am actually going to try to do some writing today, too. I am feeling that good, finally.

So I’m gonna get this day underway here. Thanks for visiting, gang.  I hope you have a perfect Friday, all things considered, wherever you are in the world.

I leave you with all my listening music from yesterday: “Dead Radio,” by Rowland S. Howard, from his amazing Teenage Snuff Film album (1999). The aforementioned “Fears of Gun,” by The Birthday Party, which I believe is from their Mutiny EP (1983) but I’m not positive about that (lyrics are in the video). And Einstürzende Neubauten’s brand new song, “Ten Grand Goldie,” from the upcoming Alles in Allem (some lyrics, in both German and English are in the video).

All righty! Enjoy. I love you guys See ya.

“Dead Radio”

You’re bad for me like cigarettes
But I haven’t sucked enough of you yet
Nothing is sacred and nothing is true
I’m no-one that’s nowhere when I’m here with you

I’ve lost the power I had to distinguish
Between what to ignite and what to extinguish

I blew in last night, I’m the ghost from the coast
When the lighting is bad I’m the man with the most
You left me to choke on a heart up in smoke
Smiling through your tears and your tetracycline overdose

You’re good for me like Coca-Cola
I don’t get any younger, you don’t get any older
Everything’s sacred and everything’s true
All of this is possible when I’m here with you

I’ve got a lot to say but I keep my own counsel
I’d like to spit it out but I won’t speak with my mouth full

I blew in last night, I’m the ghost from the coast
When the lighting is bad I’m the man with the most
You left me to choke on a heart up in smoke
Smiling through your tears and your tetracycline overdose

© 1999 Rowland S. Howard