“Written on a Plane, Headed West”

March 26, 2009 at 9:48 am (Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

 

 

Flying westward across America

Headed for the San Francisco Bay

To trace the steps

Of Ferlinghetti

To walk the same

City streets that Kerouac

& Ginsberg walked on

50 yrs past

Where “Howl” was first

Screamed

& the Beat Revolution roared

Wondering if I’ll recognize

Any of the same places

That I’ve read about

In books, once banned &

Reviled,

Now considered classics

 

Flying

High above the ground

Somewhere deep in the

American Midwest

3 more hrs to go

Until United

Touches down on California

Soil & I’ve never made it

Off the East Coast

Never walked beneath

The Calif. Sun

Or breathed in

Cool Pacific air

I wonder what lies ahead

 

All I can see is endless

Mtns. & dirt & clouds

Rocky valleys

Not a building in sight

 

Bad elevator music

Passing as modern jazz

Is playing in a speaker

Above – sounds like a

Daytime soap opera theme…

 

Permalink 2 Comments

Jim Morrison – Poems from “Wilderness”

March 25, 2009 at 6:24 pm (Jim Morrison, Poetry & Literature)

I think I was once
I think we were

Your milk is my wine
My silk is your shine

~Mosaic~

a series of notes, prose-poems
stories, bits of play & dialog
Aphorisms, epigrams, essays

Poems? Sure
~~~

~The Opening of the Trunk~

-Moment of inner freedom
when the mind is opened & the
infinite universe revealed
& the soul is left to wander
dazed & confus’d searching
here & there for teachers & friends.
~~~

Moment of Freedom
as the prisoner
blinks in the sun
like a mole
from his hole

a child’s 1st trip
away from home

That moment of Freedom
~~~

LAmerica
Cold treatment of our empress
LAmerica
The Transient Universe
LAmerica
Instant communion and
communication

lamerica
emeralds in glass
lamerica
searchlights at twi-light
lamerica
stoned streets in the pale dawn
lamerica
robed in exile
lamerica
swift beat of a proud heart
lamerica
eyes like twenty
lamerica
swift dream
lamerica
frozen heart
lamerica
soldiers doom
lamerica
clouds & struggles
lamerica
Nighthawk

doomed from the start
lamerica
“That’s how I met her,
lamerica
lonely & frozen
lamerica
& sullen, yes
lamerica
right from the start”

Then stop.
Go. The wilderness between.
Go round the march.
~~~

he enters stage:

Blood boots. Killer storm.
Fool’s gold. God in a heaven.
Where is she?
Have you seen her?
Has anyone seen this girl?
snap shot (projected)
She’s my sister.
Ladies & gentlemen:
please attend carefully to these words & events
It’s your last chance, our last hope.
In this womb or tomb, we’re free of the
swarming streets.
The black fever which rages is safely
out those doors
My friends & I come from
Far Arden w/ dances, &
new music
Everywhere followers accrue
to our procession.
Tales of Kings, gods, warriors
and lovers dangled like
jewels for your careless pleasure

I’m Me!
~~~

Can you dig it.
My meat is real.
My hands- how they move
balanced like lithe demons
My hair- so twined & writhing
The skin of my face- pinch the cheeks
My flaming sword tongue
spraying verbal fire-flys
I’m real.
I’m human
But I’m not an ordinary man
No No No
~~~

What are you doing here?
What do you want?
Is it music?
We can play music.
But you want more.
You want something & someone new.
Am I right?
Of course I am.
I know what you want.
You want ecstasy
Desire & dreams.
Things not exactly what they seem.
I lead you this way, he pulls that way.
I’m not singing to an imaginary girl.
I’m talking to you, my self.
Let’s recreate the world.
The palace of conception is burning.

Look. See it burn.
Bask in the warm hot coals.

You’re too young to be old.
You don’t need to be told
You want to see things as they are.
You know exactly what I do
Everything
~~~

I am a guide to the Labyrinth

Monarch of the protean towers
on this cool stone patio
above the iron mist
sunk in its own waste
breathing its own breath
~~~

~Power~

I can make the earth stop in
its tracks. I made the
blue cars go away.

I can make myself invisible or small.
I can become gigantic & reach the
farthest things. I can change
the course of nature.
I can place myself anywhere in
space or time.
I can summon the dead.
I can perceive events on other worlds,
in my deepest inner mind,
& in the minds of others.

I can

I am
~~~

People need Connectors
Writers, heroes, stars,
leaders
To give life form.
A child’s sand boat facing
the sun.
Plastic soldiers in the miniature
dirt war.  Forts.
Garage Rocket Ships

Ceremonies, theatre, dances
To reassert Tribal needs & memories
a call to worship, uniting
above all, a reversion,
a longing for family & the
safety magic of childhood.
~~~

The grand highway
is crowded
w/
lovers
&
searchers
&
leavers
so
eager
to
please
&
forget

Wilderness
~~~

Now is blessed
The rest
remembered
~~~

A man rakes leaves into
a heap in his yard, a pile,
& leans on his rake &
burns them utterly.
The fragrance fills the forest
children pause & heed the
smell, which will become
nostalgia in several years
~~~

Sirens
Water
Rain & Thunder
Jet from the base
Hot searing insect cry
The frogs & crickets
Doors open & close
The smash of glass
The Soft Parade
An accident
Rustle of silk, nylon
Watering the dry grass
Fire
Bells
Rattlesnake, whistles, castanets
Lawn mower
Good Humor man
Skates & wagons
Bikes
~~~

Where’d you learn about
Satan- out of a book
Love?- out of a box
~~~

night of sin (The Fall)
-1st sex, a feeling of having
done this same act in time before
O No, not again
~~~

Between childhood, boyhood,
adolescence
& manhood (maturity) there
should be sharp lines drawn w/
Tests, deaths, feats, rites
stories, songs, & judgements
~~~

Men who go out on ships
To escape sin & the mire of cities
watch the placenta of evening stars
from the deck, on their backs
& cross the equator
& perform rituals to exhume the dead
dangerous initiations
To mark passage to new levels

To feel on the verge of an exorcism
a rite of passage
To wait, or seek manhood
enlightenment in a gun

To kill childhood, innocence
in an instant
~~~

~Lamerica~

Trade-routes
guide lines
The Vikings & explorers
Discoverers
The unconscious

a map of the states
The veins of hiways
Beauty of a map
Hidden connections
Fast trampled forest

Madness in a whisper
neon crackle
The hiss of tires
A city growls

rich vast & sullen
like a slow monster
come to fat
& die
~~~

~The Anatomy of Rock~

The 1st electric wildness came
over the people
on sweet Friday.
Sweat was in the air.
The channel beamed,
token of power.
Incense brewed darkly.
Who could tell then that here
it would end?

One school bus crashed w/a train.
This was the Crossroads.
Mercury strained.
I couldn’t get out of my seat.
The road was littered
w/dead jitterbugs.
Help,
we’ll be late for class.

The secret flurry of rumor
marched over the yard &
pinned us unwittingly
Mt. fever.
A girl stripped naked on the
base of the flagpole.

In the restrooms all was cool
& silent
w/the salt-green of latrines.
Blankets were needed.

Ropes fluttered.
Smiles flattered
& haunted.

Lockers were pried open
& secrets discovered.

Ah sweet music.

Wild sounds in the night
Angel siren voices.
The baying of great hounds.
Cars screaming thru gears
& shrieks
on the wild road
Where the tires skid & slide
into dangerous curves.

Favorite corners.
Cheerleaders raped in summer
buildings.
Holding hands
& bopping toward Sunday.

Those lean sweet desperate hours.

Time searched the hallways
for a mind.
Hands kept time.
The climate altered like a
visible dance.

Night-time women.
Wondrous sacraments of doubt
Sprang sullen in bursts
of fear & guilt
in the womb’s pit hole
below
The belt of the beast
~~~

Worship w/words, w/
sounds, hands, all
joyful playful &
obscene-in the insane
infant.

Old men worship w/long
noses, old soulful eyes.
Young girls worship,
exotic, indian, w/robes
who make us feel foolish
for acting w/our eyes.
Lost in the vanity of the senses
which got us where we are.
Children worship but seldom
act at it. Who needs
temples & couches & T.V.
~~~

We can do it on a sunny
floor w/friends & make
any sound or movement
that comes. Roll on our
backs screaming w/mirth
glad in the guilt of our
madness. Better to be
cool in our worship &
gain the respect of the
ancient & wise wearing
those robes. They know
the secret of mind-change
reality.
~~~

“Have you ever seen God?”
-a mandala. A symmetrical angel.

Felt? yes. Fucking. The Sun.
Heard? Music. Voices
Touched? an animal. your hand.
Tasted? Rare meat, corn, water
& wine.
~~~

An angel runs
Thru the sudden light
Thru the room
A ghost precedes us
A shadow follows us
And each time we stop
We fall
~~~

No one thought up being;
he who thinks he has
Step forward
~~~

Shrill demented sparrows bark
The sun into being. They rule
dawn’s Kingdom. The cars-
a rising chorus- Then
workmen’s songs & hammers
The children of the schoolyard,
a hundred high voices,
complete the orchestration
~~~

“In that year there was
an intense visitation
of energy.
I left school & went down
to the beach to live.
I slept on a roof.
At night the moon became
a woman’s face.
I met the
spirit of Music.”
~~~

An appearance of the devil
on a Venice canal.
Running, I saw a Satan
or Satyr, moving beside
me, a fleshy shadow
of my secret mind. Running,
Knowing.
~~~

The day I left the beach

A hairy Satyr running
behind & a little to the
right.

In the holy solipsism
of the young

Now I can’t walk thru a city
street w/out eying each
single pedestrian. I feel
their vibes thru my
skin, the hair on my neck
-it rises.
~~~

~The Fear~

Eternal consciousness
in the Void
(makes trial & jail seem almost
friendly)

a Kiss in the Storm

(Madman at the wheel
gun at the neck
space populous & arching
coolly)

A barn
a cabin attic

Your own face
stationary
in the mirrored window

fear of restroom’s
Tragic cold
neon

I’m freezing

animals
dead

white wings of
rabbits

grey velvet deer

The Canyon

The car a craft
in wretched
SPACE

Sudden movements

& your past
to warm you
in Spiritless
Night

The Lonely HWY
Cold hiker

Afraid of Wolves
& his own
Shadow
~~~

The Wolf,
who lives under the rock
has invited me
to drink of his cool
Water.
Not to splash or bathe
But leave the sun
& know the dead desert
night
& the cold men
who play there.
~~~

a ha
Come on, now
luring the Traveller
Mighty Voyager
Curious, into its dark womb
The graves grinning
Indians of night
The eyes of night
Westward luring
into the brothel, into the blood bath
into the Dream
The dark Dream of conquest
& Voyage
into night, Westward into Night
~~~

~Lamerica~

Clothed in sunlight
restless in wanting
dying of fever

Changed shapes of an empire
Starling invaders
Vast promissory notes of joy

Wanton, willful & passive
Married to doubt
Clothed in great warring monuments
of glory

How it has changed you
How slowly estranged you
Solely arranged you

Beg you for mercy
~~~

The Crossroads
a place where ghosts
reside to whisper into
the ear of travellers &
interest them in their fate

Hitchhiker drinks:
“I call again on the dark
hidden gods of the blood”

-Why do you call us?
You know our price. It
never changes. Death of
you will give you life
& free you from a vile
fate. But is is getting late.

-If I could see you again
& talk w/you, & walk a
short while in your company,
& drink the heady brew
of your conversations,
I thought

-to rescue a soul already
ruined. To achieve respite.
To plunder green gold
on a pirate raid & bring
to camp the glory of old.

-As the capesman faces
poisoned horns & drinks
red victory; the soldier,
too, w/his trophy, a
pierced helmet; & the
ledge-walker shuddering
his way into inward grace

-(laughter) Well then. Would
you mock yourself?

-No

-Soon our voices must become
one, or one must leave.
~~~

Forest strong sandals
burnt geometry fingers
around a fire
reading history in blackened
books, charcoal sentence
in moot splendor

Flame-tree
Sire, we met in Eden
The troubled time
we had
rustling in the night leaves
a sniper aimed at our window
a kitten mewing in the blasted
strong air
I must go see

-You’ve found your Voice,
friend, after all else
I recognize fast the
Strong sure tones of
a poet
was it a question
search or of strangling?
I wonder
We never talked
But welcome here
to the camp fire
Share our meal
w/us
& tell us of your life
& the hanging

-Well 1st I screamed
& I was a child again alive
Then nothing til the age
of 5

& then summers & the racetrack
I looked for a girl in
New Mexican
bars
& found jail
The prostitute looked out
her cell & saw
Fuck god scratched
on a leprous wall

-You’re rambling boy
what of the rest
the jazz hiway
he winks.

-I got picked up
& rode thru the night

-did you see any buildings

-did I…
What was I doing
of course we danced plenty
She had nice sides
the cop hit me
Stop, I don’t remember

-The logs are melting
we must move on
The fire’s ending
we’ll hear more
at the next altar

(musical interlude)

Trees
Train-death
The American Night
We went thru 5 cords
of wood this winter

-he told me beautiful stories
& had the most beautiful visions
He was a truly religious man
at the end

-you know, I like you guys
god-damn!

(I saw this cat run out
of the ocean, one night,
and beat-off into a fire)

I’m going down to Mexico
To this border town I heard
about & I’m gonna buy
me a girl & bring her
back up here & marry her, it’s
true. This guy told me.
A friend of his knew someone who

-You’re too much
~~~

There was preserved
in her
The fresh miracle
of surprise
~~~

~open~

The night is young
& full of rest
I can’t describe the
way she’s dress’d
She’ll pander to some strange
requests
Anything that you suggest
Anything to please her guest
~~~

~Sirens~

Midnight
criminal metabolism of guilt forest
Rattlesnakes whistles castanets

Remove me from this hall of mirrors
This filthy glass

Are you her
Do you look like that
How could you be when
no one ever could
~~~

Poet of the call-girl storm

She left a note on the bedroom door.
“If I’m out, bring me to.”
~~~

I dropped by to see you
late last night
But you were out
like a light
Your head was on the floor
& rats played pool w/your eyes

Death is a good disguise
for late at night

Wrapping all games in its calm garden

But what happens
when the guests return
& all unmask
& you are asked
to leave
for want of a smile

I’ll still take you then
But I’m your friend
~~~

~Ode
New York Maidens~

everyone has Their own magic
There is no death
so nothing matters
High Style
Flash & forgive me
high button shoes
clean arrangement
messy breeding
love’s triumph
everlasting hope & fulfillment
~~~

~The American Night~

for leather accrues
The miracle of the streets
The scents & smogs &
pollens of existence

Shiny blackness
so totally naked she was
Totally un-hung-up

We looked around
lights now on
Top see our fellow travellers
~~~

I am troubled
Immeasurably
By your eyes

I am struck
By the feather
of your soft
Reply

The sound of glass
Speaks quick
Disdain

And conceals
What your eyes fight
To explain
~~~

She looked so sad in sleep
Like a friendly hand
just out of reach
A candle stranded on
a beach
While the sun sinks low
an H-bomb in reverse
~~~

Everything human
is leaving
her face

Soon she will disappear
into the calm
vegetable
morass

Stay!

My Wild Love!
~~~

I get my best ideas when the
telephone rings & rings. It’s no fun
To feel like a fool-when your
baby’s gone. A new ax to my head:
Possession. I create my own sword
of Damascus. I’ve done nothing w/time.
A little tot prancing the boards playing
w/Revolution. When out there the
World awaits & abounds w/heavy gangs
of murderers & real madmen. Hanging
from windows as if to say: I’m bold-
do you love me? Just for tonight.
A One Night Stand. A dog howls & whines
at the glass sliding door (why can’t I
be in there?) A cat yowls. A car engine
revs & races against the grain- dry
rasping carbon protest. I put the book
down- & begin my own book.
Love for the fat girl.
When will SHE get here?
~~~

In the gloom
In the shady living room
where we lived & died
& laughed & cried
& the pride of our relationship
took hold that summer
What a trip
To hold your hand
& tell the cops
you’re not 16
no runaway
The wino left a little in
the old blue desert
bottle
Cattle skulls
the cliche of rats
who skim the trees
in search of fat
Hip children invade the grounds
& sleep in the wet grass
’til the dogs rush out
I’m going South!
~~~

~Miami~

What can I read her
What can I read her
on a Sunday Morning

What can I do that will
somehow reach her
on a Sunday Morning

I’ll read her the news of
The Indian Wars

Full of criss-cavalry, blood
& gore

Stories to tame & charm
& more

On a Sunday Morning
~~~

Some wild fires
Searchout
a dry quiet kiss on leaving
~~~

Like our ancestors
The Indians
We share a fear of sex
excessive lamentation for the dead
& an abiding interest in dreams & visions
~~~

~Explosion~

The mushroom
The unfolding

instant of creation (fertilisation)
not an instant separate from breakfast
It all flows down & out, flowing

but that instant:
not fire & fusion (fission) but a moment
of jellied ice, crystal, vegetative mating
merging in cool slime splendour
a crushing of steel & glass & ice

(instant in a bar; glasses clash, clink, collide)

far-out splendour

heat & fire are outwards signs of a
Small dry mating
~~~

event in a room
event in space
a circle
Magic rite
To call up the godhead
spirits, demons
The shaman calls:
“When radio dark night…”
We are eating each other.
~~~

The Voice of the Serpent
dry hiss of age & steam
& leaves of gold
old books in ruined
Temples
The pages break like ash

I will not disturb
I will not go

Come, he says softly

an old man appears &
moves in tired dance
amid the scattered dead
gently they stir
~~~

I received an Aztec wall
of vision
& dissolved my room in
sweet derision
Closed my eyes, prepared to go
A gentle wind inform’d me so
And bathed my skin in ether glow
~~~

Drugs are a bet w/ your mind
~~~

The cigarette burn’d
my fingertips
& dropp’d like a log
to the rug below
My eyes took a trip
to dig the chick
Crouch’d like a cat
at the next window
My ears assembled music
out of swarming streets
but my mind rebelled
at the idiot’s laughter
The rising frightful idiot laughter
Cheering an army of
vacuum cleaners
~~~

Mouth fills w/taste of copper.
Chinese paper. Foreign money. Old posters.
Gyro on a string, a table.
A coin spins. The faces.

There is an audience to our drama.
Magic shade mask.
Like the hero of a dream, he works for us,
in our behalf.

How close is this to a final cut?

I fall. Sweet blackness.
Strange world that waits & watches.
Ancient dread of non-existence.

If it’s no problem, why mention it.
Everything spoken means that,
it’s opposite, & everything else.
I’m alive. I’m dying.
~~~

1st wild thrush of fear

-A phone rings
There is a knock on the door.
It’s time to go.
No.
~~~

~Jail~

The walls screamed poetry disease & sex
an inner whine like a mad machine -
dropped in a
cave of roaches
or rodents

The Computer
faces of the men

The wall collage
reading matter

The Traders (dealers)
~~~

I am a guide to the labyrinth
Come & see me
in the green hotel
Rm. 32
I will be there after 9:30 p.m.

I will show you the girl of the ghetto
I will show you the burning well
I will show you strange people
haunted, beast-like, on the
verge of evolution

-Fear The Lords who are
secret among us
~~~

Leaving the phone-booth, I was
Struck by a whiff of
the weird.
Insane old country woman
come to nag the haunts
of town
Hairy legs w/open sores.

From what swamp or under-rock
did you crawl to remind
us what we choose
to leave
~~~

~LAmerica~

Androgynous, liquid, happy
Heavy
Facile & vapid
Weighted w/words
Mortgaged soul
Wandering preachers, & Delta Tramps

Box-cars of heaven
New Orleans Nile Sunset
~~~

The form is a plane above
the earth. A soldier bails
out, leaving his entrails
fluttering, billowing. Scoop’d
down, windy midwife, wrench’d
by the world from her rich
belly, my metal mother,
ripped cord, down & frozen.
Following pilot the eye of
the plane; “Great Eye of Night”
God on a windscreen, wind-
scream, wormwind
Trailing.

(& hide among women
like a toothless bird)

Burned by air
Burned bad by light
in the

(gun shot)

O Wow
he’s shot
& the scarlet news
(hoarse mute confusion
of the witness crowd)
~~~

Airport.
Messenger in the form of a soldier.
Green wool. He stood there,
off the plane.
A new truth, too horrible to bear.
There was no record of it
anywhere in the ancient signs
or symbols.
People looked at each other,
in the mirror, their children’s
eyes.
Why had it come.
There was no escape from
it anywhere.
A truth too horrible to name.
Only a loose puking moan
could frame its dark interiors.
Only a few could look upon
its face w/calm.
Most of the people fell instantly
under its dull friendly terror.
They looked to the calm ones
but saw only a green
military coat.
Repent!
None of the old Things worked.
~~~

disciple
Scar
death
Magic
Prison
Garden
Shelter
Princess
of Sorrow
Wilderness Angel
dancing wings
of envy
Call Me
Tomorrow
Bones
Landing
Gold
Arrival
~~~

Street. Steel thrust sucking space.
Silent willful turbines, motors
raving

City of clouds, pirates of air.

Land of rainbows & scarlet rare
islands.

We are here, parables.

Silent climbers.

The breast engine mattered.
Monster in drag, a tin damsel
Shuddered & flew

Cut spent space
Crazed ace
Collect
The cake-walk.
~~~

~Horse Latitudes~

The barn is burning
The race-track is over
Farmers run out w/
buckets of water
The horse flesh is burning
They’re kicking the stalls
(panic in a horse’s eye
That can spread & fill
an entire sky.)

The clouds flow by
& tell a story

about the lightning bolt & the mast
on the steeple

Some people have a hard time
describing sailors to the
undernourished.

The decks are starving
Time to throw the cargo over

Now down & the high-sailing
fluttering of smiles on the air
w/its cool night time disturbance

Tropic corridor
Tropic Treasure

What got us this far to this
mild equator

Now we need something
& someone new
when all else fails
we can whip the horse’s eyes
& make them cry
& sleep
~~~

France is 1st, Nogales round-up
Cross over the border-
land of eternal adolescence
quality of despair unmatched
anywhere on the perimeter
Message from the outskirts
calling us home
This is the private space of a
new order. We need saviors
To help us survive the journey.
Now who will come
Now hear this
We have started the crossing
Who knows? it may end badly

The actors are assembled;
immediately they become
enchanted
I, for one, am in ecstasy
enthralled.
Can I convince you to smile?

No wise men now.
Each on his own
grab your daughter & run
~~~

“Oh God, she cried
I never knew what
it meant to be real
I thought all this was a joke,
I never let the horror, or
the sweetness & the dignity
penetrate my brain”

“Let me up to see
the window. Dark Riders
pass in the sunset
coming home from
raiding parties.
The taverns will be
full of laughter, wine,
& later dancing, later
dangerous knife throws.

Antonio will be there
& that whore, Blue Lady
playing cards w/silver
decks & smiling at the night,
& full glasses held aloft
& spilled to the moon.
I’m sad, so full of sadness”
~~~

She’s selling news in the market
Time in the hall
The girls of the factory
Rolling cigars
They haven’t invented musak yet
So I read to them
From The BOOK OF DAYS
a horror story from the Gothic age
a gruesome romance
From the LA
Plague.

I have a vision of America
Seen from the air
28,000 ft. & going fast

A one-armed man in a Texas
parking labyrinth
A burnt tree like a giant primeval bird
in an empty lot in Fresno
Miles & miles of hotel corridors
& elevators, filled w/ citizens

Motel Money Murder Madness
Change the mood from glad to sadness

play the ghost song baby
~~~

a young woman, bound silently, on
a hostpital table, obviously pregnant,
is gutted & rifled of her empire

objects of oblivion
~~~

Drugs sex drunkenness battle
return to the water-world
Sea-belly
Mother of man
Monstrous sleep-waking gentle swarming
atomic world
Anomic in social life

how can we hate or love or judge
in the sea-swarm world of atoms
All one, one All
How can we play or not play
How can we put one foot before us
or revolutionize or write
~~~

Does the house burn? So be it.
The World, a film which men devise.
Smoke drifts thru these chambers
Murders occur in a bedroom.
Mummers chant, birds hush & coo.
Will this do?
Take Two.
~~~

each day is a drive thru history
~~~

~Bright Flags~

The great hiway of dawn
Stretching to slumber
pouring out from her greedy
palms a shore, to wander

Hesitation & doubt
Swiftly ensconced

O Viking, your women
cannot save you
out on the great ship

Time has claimed you
Coming for you
~~~

And I came to you
for peace
And I came to you
for gold
And I came to you
for lies
And you gve me fever
& wisdom
& cries
of sorrow
& we’ll be here
the next day
the next day
&
Tomorrow
~~~

There’s a belief by the
Children of Man which states
all will be well

Search on man, calm savior
Veteran of wars incalculable
greed. Search on man, calm savior
God-speed & forgive you
morning-star, fragrant
meadow person girl
~~~

~underwaterfall~

down
  down
    down
      down
        down
          down
            deep
              below

children of the caves will let their
secret fires glow
~~~

An explosion of birds
Dawn
Sun strokes the walls
An old man leaves the Casino
A young man reading pauses
on the path to the garden
~~~

Bitter winter
Fiction dogs are starving
The radio is moaning softly
calling to the dogs
There are still a few
animals left in the yard

Sit up all night,
talking smoking
Count the dead & wait
’til morning
Will warm names & faces
come again
Does the silver forest end?
~~~

December Isles
Hot morning chambers
of the New Day
Idiot first to awaken (be born)
w/shadows of new play
learned men
in Sunday best
we’ve had our chance to rest
to mourn the passing of day
to lament the death of our
glorious member
(she whispers secret messages
of love in the garden
to her friends, the bees)
The garden would be here
forevermore
~~~

Mexican parachute
Blue green pink
Invented of Silk
& stretched on grass
Draped in the trees
of a Mexican Park
T-shirt boys in their
Slumbering art
~~~

-I fear that he’s been
maim’d beyond all
recognition

He hears them come &
murmur over his corpse.

Street Pizza.
~~~

funny,
I keep expecting a
knock on the door
well, that’s what you
get for living around
people

a Knock? would shatter
my dreams’ illusions
deportment & composure
The struggle of a poor poet
to stay out of the grips
of novels & gambling
& journalism
~~~

A quality of ignorance,
self-deception may be
necessary to the poet’s
survival.
~~~

Actors must make us think
they’re real
Our friends must not
make us think we’re acting

They are, though, in slow
Time

My wild words
slip into fusion
& risk losing
the solid ground

So stranger, get
wilder still

Probe the Highlands
~~~

Bourbon is a wicked brew, recalling
courage milk, refined poison
of cockroach & tree-bark, leaves
& fly-wings scraped from the
land, a thick film; menstrual
fluids no doubt add their splendour.
It is the eagle’s drink.
~~~

Why do I drink?
So that I can write poetry.

Sometimes when it’s all spun out
and all that is ugly recedes
into a deep sleep
There is an awakening
and all that remains is true.
As the body is ravaged
the spirit grows stronger.

Forgive me Father for I know
what I do.
I want to hear the last Poem
of the last Poet.
~~~

~The Connectors~

-What is connection?

-When 2 motions, thought
to be infinite & mutually
exclusive, meet in a
moment.

-Of Time?

-Yes.

-Time does not exist.
 There is no time.

-Time is a straight plantation.
~~~

~The Connectors~

The diamonds shone like broken glass
Upon the midnight street
And all atop the walls were wet
Their white eyes glint & sleek

Then from afar a gnome appeared
An angel flashed on furry feet
The boulevard became a river
While waiting crowds began to quiver

I was in a motel watching
Whiskey in my hand
Her breath was soft, the wind was warm
Someone in a room was born
~~~

Accomplishments:

To make works in the face
of the void
To gain form, identity
To rise from the herd-crowd

Public favor
Public fervor

even the bitter Poet-Madman is
a clown
Treading the boards
~~~

Cold electric music
Damage me
Rend my mind
w/your dark slumber

Cold temple of steel
Cold minds alive
on the strangled shore

Veterans of foreign wars
We are the soldiers of
Rock & Roll Wars
~~~

Whether to be a
great cagey perfumed
beast
dying under the
sweet patronage
of Kings
& exist like luxuriant
flowers beneath the
emblems of their
Strange empire
or by mere insouciant
faith
slap them, call their cards
spit on fate & cast hell
to flames in usury

by dying, nobly
we could exist like
innocent trolls
propogate our revels
& give the finger to the
gods in our private
bedrooms

let’s rather, maybe,
perhaps,
get fucking out in
the open, & by
swelling, jubilantly
Magnificently, end them.

Permalink 30 Comments

“Contemplating War”

March 25, 2009 at 9:09 am (Poetry & Literature)

 

Inside the boiler room

Making plans & reading blueprints

Taking urgent calls from authority

21 men crowded in like sardines

Strategies being discussed in coded silence

The air is heavy down in the chambers

And the tension runs high

As we contemplate murder against our sacred enemies.

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Pink Floyd – “It Would Be So Nice” (1967)

March 25, 2009 at 8:57 am (Music, Psychedelia)

Pink Floyd’s unpopular 4th single and their first single after the Syd Barrett era of the band had come to an end. This song was written and sung by keyboardist Rick Wright and is kind of an amalgam of their earlier psychedelic sound, mixed with a lightweight whimsical pop feel. It’s actually not bad looking back.
I could not find a promo clip for this song.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Pink Floyd – “Apples and Oranges” (Promo – 1968)

March 24, 2009 at 8:49 am (Music)

Pink Floyd’s somewhat forgotten 3rd UK single from November 1967. This promo is from sometime in 1968 though, because as you will notice, Syd is noticeably absent and Roger Waters is lip-synching the vocals. Plus, David Gilmour is seen playing the guitar. This promo was filmed at a fruit market in Belguim after Barrett was fired from the band.
Anyhow, this was the end of the Barrett era and the beginning of the Gilmour era…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Tracy Binette – “One Voice” (2009)

March 23, 2009 at 8:01 pm (Life & Politics, Reviews & Articles)

 This was written today, March 23, 2009, by a good friend of mine. I wanted to share this because I’m sure there are many people out there who feel the same way. With this AIG fiasco and everything else going on, it seems like we are feeling more and more in this country, like we have no control over where America is heading. All the power seems to be in the hands of a few rich greedy people and we poor people are the ones who are getting screwed.  It’s a frightening time we live in. Everywhere I turn, I hear about people who are feeling depressed and frightened and simply lost.
Let me know what you are thinking. We need to let our leaders know that we are no longer going to stand by and swallow the lies they keep handing us about companies like AIG and why they are REALLY in trouble. We need to all stand up and take back our country once and for all….

   
With all this financial crisis and worry in the world, that has been going on, it has led me to believe that my life is somewhat on hold. Being unemployed with no money and a truckload of problems, I often worry about, not only my country’s future, but mine as well. I was talking to a dear friend today, who has similar problems as me and it hit me: I’m not only afraid to die, I’m also afraid to live.

Let me clarify that: being down on my luck and penniless, I really don’t feel comfortable or if I even fit in with today’s society. I see people when I go out in public and wonder if they are trudging through similar problems or are they one of the lucky ones it does not affect in the least? I have always worked up until recently but this downtime has been a slow death for me.

Sometimes I cannot see the point in getting out of bed in the morning or going to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. I literally have to force myself to get up, shower and get dressed just to fill out countless job applications I will never hear back from.  I spend most of my days on this computer, listening to music, talking with friends and of course, looking for work.

Getting let go from my last job has instilled a fear of failure in me I cannot describe. So the question I have been asking myself these past few months is: will I ever get ahead? Well, with all that is going on in our economy right now, it seems impossible.  The jobs that do call back are never foolproof and end up costing you more out of pocket to work for, and of course don’t offer benefits.

I’m not  writing this for pity or sympathy. I mean I think I’m writing this to save my own sanity as something therapeutic. I hear President Obama speak and it does give me hope and comfort for awhile but that doomed feeling lingers over me like a dark cloud.

I know its been said in hard times, “this too shall pass.” Believe me, I sometimes need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for reasons to even feel a little bit ambitious or excited about SOMETHING. Even though I’m not as bad off  as some, I wonder about the future. I always pictured myself married with a house and a couple of kids by the time I hit 37. Of course, it didn’t play out like that for reasons I had no control over. But being afraid to live is nothing more than just being afraid to fail, and I always heard failure was success turned inside out.  But honestly right now hearing that doesn’t bring me much comfort even if it IS true. They say even The Great Depression wasn’t this bad which in fact terrifies me because I remember all the miserable stories my father had told me  about that time when he was growing up. The fact is, I’m not the only one who is afraid to live, we ALL are, at least us working class poor and unemployed. I mean what do we have to look forward to? A mountain of bills every month, not knowing when or how you’ll pay them? I have heard our leaders speak about having hope to build a better future, but my question is, what about now? What if by the time the future is here we’re all penniless and homeless? 

I don’t mean to sound so glum but I feel I needed to write this to maybe give our President & our leaders a personal view. I don’t know if it will accomplish much but  the only ones who are in our shoes is us, not them. I encourage all of America to speak out with personal stories of their hardships and fears, due to this recession.  We are not just numbers tallied up by the Census Bureau. We are the ones getting kicked when we’re already down, hoping and praying for change. We are the ones who worry how we are going to feed our families, pay our rent and mortgages and our vehicles. We are the taxpayers who funded those greedy bastards at companies like AIG, with their blood money bonuses.  The time to speak out is NOW! Who cares if you think no one will listen? I am listening and at least it will feel better to know we are not alone, we all have each other to pray with, laugh with and hopefully look into the brighter future with. 

Tracy Binette

Permalink Leave a Comment

Jim Morrison – “Horse Latitudes”

March 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm (Jim Morrison, Poetry & Literature)

When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
Poise
Delicate
Pause
Consent
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined
And sealed over.

Permalink 2 Comments

Chris Michie – “Frank Zappa: You Call That Music?” (2003)

March 23, 2009 at 2:29 pm (Frank Zappa, Music, Reviews & Articles)

Part 2 of this long, extremely fascinating article on Zappa’s recording and mixing techniques, comes from the Feb. 1, 2003 issue of Mix magazine. Zappa was a pioneer in the recording field and this article gives great insight into that fact…

 

The story so far:

 

By the end of the 1970s, Frank Zappa had released 28 original albums (including seven two-LP releases), either by the Mothers of Invention or under his own name. Deeply distrustful of large record companies, Zappa had set up his own independent record label and, frustrated by the cost and logistical difficulties of scheduling lockouts in commercial studios, had constructed a state-of-the-art personal studio, the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (UMRK). And to ensure the highest-quality live recordings, Zappa purchased the Beach Boys’ remote truck.

The refurbished truck, dubbed the UMRK Mobile, became an integral part of the touring organization and was used to record every show, as well as premix various instruments for the FOH and monitor engineers. “I might have 22 channels on the drums,” says Mark Pinske, then working as Zappa’s recording engineer in the truck and at UMRK. “I would take the combination of all of it and send, for instance, tom toms left and right back out to the house. We might take nine different stereo keyboards, and I would mix them all down to a stereo keyboard mix that could go back to the monitors onstage and back to the house mix. We found that we had a lot more control over the feedback and a lot fewer problems with the recordings, because we had the same sonic tone and the same path pretty much going to each of the locations. I had 85 noise gates in the truck, and we could pretty much control everything. I could hear problems — little buzzes or hums — and we could isolate the problems, and then I could treat them with some of the best outboard gear you could get and send it back to these guys, and it would be all spiced up. And, of course, you’re not going to get the kind of equalization that you have in a Neve console out of a little portable Midas board.”

With two Ampex MM1200s running at 30 ips, the operation soon required bulk shipments of tape to various points on the tour. “On the first three-month tour, we had 946 master tapes, if I remember correctly,” says Pinske. “A huge amount of master reels of tape. Normally, it would take about eight reels a show, overlapping them. A lot of times, we did these small theaters in America, so we would do double shows, and Frank had a habit of not repeating any of the songs from show to show. So we’d have pretty much different tunes through both shows.”

 

MAGIC FINGERS

 

Having played about 825 concerts in the preceding 10 years, Zappa retired from touring in July 1982 and devoted his energies to new studio recordings and mixing the now-enormous backlog of live tapes. Bob Stone, formerly chief engineer at Larrabee, where he had mixed many of Casablanca’s disco hits, including Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” joined the UMRK staff in 1980, and he and Pinske wound up tag-teaming on Zappa’s various remix projects. “Frank liked to work around the clock,” recalls Stone, “so we’d take shifts. I’d leave a setup for mixing on the console and leave any notes that needed to be done.” In fact, the surprise hit “Valley Girl” (from the 1982 Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch album) was mixed while Zappa was asleep. “When he got up the next morning to check out what happened the night before,” Stone says, “he thought maybe one of the vocal raps might have been a little different, from a different track earlier in the tape. But I’d already tried that and knew it wouldn’t work. I demonstrated that to him, so we went back to what I had and moved on. That was about all the attention we gave it.”

“Valley Girl” became Zappa’s highest-charting single and, along with an out-of-court settlement with Warner Bros., provided funding for Zappa’s next recording adventure. In January 1983, Zappa and Pinske traveled to London to record the London Symphony Orchestra performing various “classical” pieces that Zappa had composed since 1968. Unable to secure a good concert hall for the recording date, Zappa wound up recording the 105-piece orchestra on a soundstage at Twickenham Film Studios, using about 40 prototype Crown PZM microphones (supplied by Ken Wahrenbrock) in unusual close-miking configurations. Another technical innovation was the use of Sony’s new PCM-3324 digital recorder, but neither the wide dynamic range of the digital medium nor the separation achieved through close miking could entirely save the performances. “I think we had about 1,000 edits,” Pinske recalls of the remix sessions. “We were counting them at one point — we got up to like 900 — and we decided that counting them was ridiculous. But [Zappa] could edit like nobody could. When I first started with him, I was afraid to pick up a razor blade. Now, I could put a breath into a vocal or take a breath out. I was just privileged to be able to have learned from somebody like that.”

Despite his dissatisfaction with the LSO’s performances, Zappa was extremely impressed by the apparently noiseless digital recording medium and wound up leasing and eventually owning two Sony PCM-3324s, as well as a Sony PCM1610 for 2-track mixdowns. From 1984 on, all of his new recordings, both in the studio and live, were in the digital medium.

 

HE MADE ME DO IT

 

Back at UMRK, Zappa, Pinske and Stone busied themselves with an array of recording and remix projects. With various lawsuits finally settled, Zappa had regained the masters for all of his LPs on the Warners-distributed Bizarre and DiscReet labels, along with the MGM/Verve master tapes of the early M.O.I. albums. Most of these records had long been out-of-print, and, as it turned out, several of the master tapes were unplayable and required considerable restoration work before the LPs could be reissued.

Fortunately, a Studer 2-inch 24-track had been included in the purchase of the Beach Boys’ truck. “That was a lot better 24-track, sonically, than the Ampex MM1200s,” says Pinske. “We made homemade guides so I could take the 12-track 1-inch tapes and play them on the bottom 12 tracks of the 24-track 2-inch head. It was a real meticulous thing: You couldn’t rewind them fast, because the tape would creep up and wouldn’t pack right. And, you could really only pass them through one time, because the guide system wasn’t all that great.” Over a three-month period, Pinske managed to transfer all of the various M.O.I. masters to digital and also created digital-clone safety copies.

The first Old Masters box set of M.O.I. LP reissues came out on Zappa’s Barking Pumpkin record label in April 1985; the seven vinyl discs included a Mystery Disc of outtakes and archival oddities. Two more nine-LP volumes were released in 1986 and 1987, the first of these also including a second Mystery Disc. Some of the albums were more or less unchanged transfers of the original album masters, but several had been completely remixed and, in some cases, had new bass and drum tracks added.

 

DRUMS ARE TOO NOISY

 

As Zappa wrote in his autobiography, “What qualified as an ‘acceptable drum sound’ on a 1950s recording seems laughable today,” and as technology advanced, he expended considerable time and energy on getting better-than-acceptable drum sounds, both live and in the studio. One of the benefits of owning the UMRK Mobile was that all road tapes were made on the same equipment and tape format, factors that allowed Zappa considerable latitude in editing among different shows. In order to ensure even more consistency, Pinske and drum tech John Goode developed a system to permanently mount microphones in Chad Wackerman’s drum kit. “We would try all kinds of different drum heads and all kinds of different microphones to get the absolute best drum sound we could get,” recalls Pinske. “So when we were done, we would have a really elaborate, great-sounding drum set. I think the ultimate drum sound that we ever had was on the Man from Utopia album [1983]. And Frank started really liking this really good drum sound and kind of wanted to start hearing it on just about everything. I was kind of upset about the fact that he wanted to replace the drums [on the older albums], because I had already gotten a pretty good drum sound out of even the mono recordings that were on the original tapes.”

In some cases, reassembling the original album proved impossible. “I always liked the Fillmore East – June 1971 album, because I laughed at that album a lot,” says Pinske. “But Frank couldn’t even remember where he got all of the edits from to put that together; he had edited that thing, silly. So when we tried to reconstruct that album, it was damn near impossible, because he couldn’t even remember where he got what cut from. So, we’d have to hunt around and say, ‘Jesus, where’s this next section?’ And sometimes, we just didn’t find them.”

Another problem with archival tapes was due to the different aging characteristics of the two tape stocks used for live recordings. “We cut a deal with Ampex to drop hundreds of rolls of tapes at different cities, like Chicago, New York, wherever,” says Pinske. “Well, Agfa started bidding for the business, and we started using Agfa 468. We switched in the middle of the tour, and when we got off of the tour, we started razor-blade editing a lot of the songs together from different shows, and you couldn’t even tell the difference in the cymbals across the edits. That’s what Frank liked about the consistency we did in the recording. Well, some of the tapes that we meant to mix for an album we didn’t get to mix, because we edited way more songs than we were able to have time to mix, so we put them in the tape vault. When we pulled them out a year later, the edits didn’t work. The cymbals would drop as much as 3 or 4 dB at the high frequencies when they went to the Ampex 456, and then when we went back to the Agfa tape, it would get bright again. This was very frustrating from an engineering standpoint. When I remixed the whole Baby Snakes movie [1983], we would have tapes that maybe the first 20 seconds would sound right, and then all of a sudden, it would get dull and everything would change. We’d have to strike the board and reset everything just to make the edit work. And you might strike the board maybe eight, 10, 12 times through one song, just to try to make the sonics match on edits that originally ran across like butter.”

 

THAT’S NOT REALLY REGGAE

 

These problems did not, of course, affect digital recordings. By 1984, Zappa not only had an all-digital setup at UMRK, but he had also started working on the Synclavier DMS, an all-digital sampling computer that allowed him to compose and reproduce music that would stump even the most capable human musician. Zappa’s first project with the device was an all-Synclavier rendition of chamber music by the obscure 18th-century Italian cellist — and possible ancestor — Francesco Zappa. More sophisticated Synclavier tracks showed up on The Perfect Stranger – Boulez Conducts Zappa, a 1984 recording by the Ensemble InterContemporain, and Synclavier tracks and samples also began to appear in Zappa’s band-based recordings.

At this point, Zappa’s recording universe was complete: He owned a state-of-the-art digital recording facility and the ultimate sampling synthesizer, both maintained by a skilled technical staff available around the clock; he had regained control of his back catalog; and also had access to a cadre of superb musicians who could play pretty much anything he put in front of them. Distribution of Zappa’s records continued to be problematic, but having paid all of the recording costs up front, he was in a position to demand exceptionally profitable royalty rates. “He would give the record company 15 percent,” recalls Pinske. “So Frank ended up making, in those days, like $2.25 off each record sold. And that was unheard of compared to somebody like Dylan, who would make 18 cents a copy. By having that kind of control, he was able to take more money in and not have to have all Platinum albums. Because he knew his music was off-the-wall enough and wouldn’t be played on the radio — that he couldn’t get that kind of volume — he set up his business accordingly. The bulk of his money still came from live performances — he got paid well for performing — and also, he sold a heck of a lot of memorabilia, whatever you could put in the mail: T-shirts, you name it.”

 

I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN

 

One segment of Zappa’s business, however, remained stubbornly unprofitable. Despite the apparent success of his “classical” outings — The Perfect Stranger had reached Number 7 on the Billboard Classical chart and also garnered a Grammy nomination — the costs associated with orchestral performances proved prohibitive. Exasperated by the world of “serious music,” Zappa returned to the road in July of 1984. Again, most of the 130 or so shows on the six-month 20th-Anniversary World Tour were recorded, this time in the 24-track digital format. At the end of the tour, Zappa again announced his retirement from the road, though he kept several bandmembers busy overdubbing on various current and archival projects and recording sample libraries for the Synclavier.

For the next three years, Zappa hunkered down at UMRK. Only one new band-based album appeared during this period — the 1985 Frank Zappa Meets the Mother of Prevention — and it seems likely that Zappa spent much of his time working with the Synclavier. In 1986, he released Jazz From Hell, which, apart from a live guitar solo from the 1982 tour, was entirely created on the Synclavier; the record was nominated for two 1987 Grammys, winning one for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Zappa was always interested in achieving the best quality possible on vinyl; for better fidelity, most of his LPs clocked in at less than 20 minutes per side, and his past experiences with inferior pressings, unauthorized MGM compilations and bootlegs made him extremely wary of sending out master tapes. Eventually, he went so far as to prepare metal parts for foreign pressings and would typically cut multiple lacquers for each release.

“I still have a collection of studio lacquers, because Frank had me pretty much do all of the mastering runs,” says Pinske. “We started doing a lot of mastering over at Capitol, and eventually, we ended up with a guy named John Matousek over at Hitsville, Motown. I would run down at two or three o’clock in the morning, we’d run off a lacquer, I’d bring it back up to the studio, and Frank and I would listen to it. Frank would say, ‘Okay, go down and have them take off one-half of a dB at 800 Hz.’ And I’d go down there, and most of the guys would laugh. One-half dB? Some of them didn’t even have one-half-dB increments. But we would do it. And Frank could hear the difference. I would even put the wrong one on, just to see whether or not he would hear the difference, and he would hear it right away.”

 

THE CHROME-PLATED MEGAPHONE OF DESTINY

 

By the mid-’80s, it was clear that the CD format would soon overtake LPs and cassettes. But Zappa, whose distribution arrangements seemed to be in a constant state of flux, had only two CDs on the market: The Perfect Stranger on the Angel label and a live album from the 1984 tour, Does Humor Belong in Music?, released by EMI in Europe only. After making a deal with Rykodisc to reissue 24 albums on CD over a three-year period, Zappa again went back to the master tapes. According to Stone, “Frank’s concept was, if there’s a new gadget that might improve the sound or make a technical difference, he’d say, ‘Well, let’s try it. We’ll just remix it or remaster it with the new goody.’”

Not all of the new goodies proved useful. “Somebody once showed up with a box that was supposed to do something wonderful,” recalls Stone. “I’m not sure I can even remember, or should remember, who it was, but it had a bypass position, which was supposed to be direct. So I set up to A/B from our source and pointed out to him, ‘How come it sounds different in the bypass position?’ They couldn’t quite explain that one to me, so they went away.”

There were some hiccups in the CD-reissue program: Rykodisc inadvertently pressed from a wrong or truncated master tape and several excellent-sounding European CDs were replaced with obviously inferior versions. (The two most egregious examples, Tinsel Town Rebellion and You Are What You Is, have since been remastered by UMRK engineer Spencer Chrislu.)

By 1988, Zappa was itching to perform again and put together an 11-piece band for a projected six-month tour, Broadway the Hard Way. The tour unexpectedly ground to a halt due to personnel differences, but Zappa was able to salvage three live albums — two of them two-CD sets — from the 48-track digital tapes. And, as the tour got under way, he introduced his biggest project to date: the career-spanning You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore series.

Though superficially straightforward, being nothing more or less than a record of Zappa’s various groups in performance captured over a 20-year period, the You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore series incorporates a slew of mind-boggling edits and demonstrates a total mastery of sequencing — no trivial accomplishment in the context of 12 concert-length CDs. And, for the first few YCDTOSA volumes, matching ambiences from one track to the next required considerable skill. “Frank loved to edit things himself, like the multitracks,” says Stone, who is credited with engineering supervision for the entire YCDTOSA Series. “So he’d take the road tape 24-track and do brute-force edits from one show to another. Now, you can imagine the acoustic and sonic differences from a small club to an open field, not to mention the difference in performances. His idea of editing was to edit for musical accuracy. So it was my job at that point to transform those edits into something that sounded like a natural EQ change. We had some programmable equalizers that I could preprogram for different EQs, and sometimes I’d make the EQ changes on-the-fly as the thing was going. Some of it was done in the mix; some of it was done in the mastering. I ultimately got him away from editing the multitrack and developed a system where I could mix and match to an EQ or a venue.”

By the time Zappa and Stone worked their way through to YCDTOSA Volumes 5 and 6 (released in 1992), they were able to use Sonic Solutions, which allowed for more or less seamless edits between performances recorded as long as 17 years apart. Zappa also made extensive use of Sonic Solutions’ ambience-matching capabilities in his final Synclavier masterwork, Civilization Phaze III, which blended under-the-piano dialogs from the original Lumpy Gravy sessions with new characters and conversations recorded two decades later.

 

BEAT THE REAPER

 

Zappa had been experiencing health problems for some time when, in late 1989, he discovered that he had advanced prostate cancer. Despite the rigors of chemotherapy and his steadily declining condition, Zappa continued to update and tweeze his catalog and, in addition to the YCDTOSA set, managed to prepare for release of at least another nine CD collections, including five two-CD sets. One of these projects resulted from a collaboration with the Ensemble Modern, an 18-piece cooperative of highly skilled classical musicians who sought Zappa out and demonstrated their commitment to perfecting a complete program of new and rearranged Zappa compositions. After extensive and grueling rehearsals, the finished 90-minute program was presented — through an innovative 6-channel surround P.A. — at the 1992 Frankfurt Festival and at other concert venues in Germany and Austria. A concert recording named The Yellow Shark was released only weeks before Zappa’s death in December 1993 and reached as high as Number 2 on Billboard’s Classical charts.

Zappa’s entire catalog (70 CD releases and counting) is available from Rykodisc and Zappa’s Barking Pumpkin label. Further, the Zappa Family Trust has recently established the Vaulternative label as a conduit for further releases from the massive archives. Of course, the sheer volume of Zappa’s output makes it difficult for all but the most determined (or obsessive) listeners to digest and appreciate his wide-ranging oeuvre. But, as implied at the beginning of this article, even those Mix readers who are indifferent to Zappa’s music cannot fail to be impressed by his technical expertise and dogged pursuit of sonic excellence. Even hardcore Zappa fans would admit that not every release is essential, but, as with any serious artist, unfinished sketches and imperfect realizations often illuminate the main body of work. Anyone with an interest in the recent tumultuous history of recording technology, a curious mind, tolerant housemates and enough time to spare should attempt to climb this Mount Everest of the critical-listening landscape.

 

UMRK REDUX

 

Though Frank Zappa’s personal studio, Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, was a state-of-the-art facility throughout the 1980s, it was more or less mothballed after Zappa’s death. However, in 2002, the Zappa Family Trust decided to finance a complete refurbishment, including architectural changes.

“For the last eight years, nothing has been done in that room,” explains Dweezil Zappa, himself an accomplished musician. “The last major change to the studio was to accommodate the change of console from the Harrison to a Neve VR 62; that was in about 1990.” In fact, Dweezil tried using the studio during the 1990s but, unhappy with the sound of the control room, instead built a project studio in the vocal booth. “I had done some projects with that Neve, and there were always some things that seemed questionable,” recalls Dweezil. “I have some old Neve modules — 1073s and 1272s — and I like the old stuff. But for some reason, anything I did with that console and in the old room didn’t work out, so I didn’t feel confident with it. The monitoring were these giant JBL speakers, and I thought the room sounded a bit strange.”

The impetus to update the control room came from the Zappa family’s decision to continue releasing archival material on the recently formed Vaulternative label. (The first release, a two-CD volume that documents a 1976 live show in Sydney, Australia, became available in summer 2002.) “Our hands have been tied while the studio has been nonoperational,” explains Dweezil. “It’s only now that we’re going to be able to pick up the pace and deliver things that people have been asking for and also discover things we didn’t know existed.” One much-anticipated release will likely be a selection of live recordings by the so-called Petit Wazoo band, a 10-piece M.O.I. that played a score of dates in late 1972.

The acoustic redesign of the UMRK control room, a collaborative effort between Dweezil and Zappa’s wife Gail and Art Kelm, features a full 5.1 monitoring setup. Though only a couple of Frank Zappa’s mid-’70s records were mixed in the quadraphonic format, the composer specified a six-point surround P.A. system for the 1991 Yellow Shark concerts and would undoubtedly have remixed much of his catalog for surround had he lived. “We recently did a 5.1 project with one of the concerts from 1978 in New York at the Palladium,” notes Dweezil. “It was originally recorded by Joe Chicarelli, and we got in touch with him to do the 5.1 mix on it: We thought it would be fun for him to revisit the material all these years later. So that release effectively recreates the concert and adds so much depth to the music. 5.1 is a different format that works really well, I think, for Frank’s music, because there are so many textures involved and they’re constantly changing. It’s not necessarily the best format for all types of pop music, but it works for people whose music stands the test of repeat listening.” The 5.1 Palladium remixes in DTS are scheduled for a January 2003 release on Vaulternative.

To properly accommodate a 5.1 surround-monitoring system, the control room was expanded in the rear and a new machine room was added to house two digital Sony 3324s and various analog tape machines. “The ceiling is now much higher, and it’s a more open-sounding room,” notes Dweezil.

Another major change is that the analog Neve VR 60 has been replaced with a digital Sony DMX-R100. “I had been working with the Sony and found it to be a much better tool for me,” says Dweezil. New or remixed recordings will be stored in either a Euphonix R1 hard disk recorder or workstation-based Steinberg Nuendo. “The Synclavier we’re keeping because there are probably over 2,000 compositions in it in various stages of completion,” adds Dweezil. “Even though it’s an archaic setup, there’s nothing else we can use to get those things out. Ultimately, over time, we’re planning on making a sound effects library out of the samples that Frank made and trimmed himself.”

Though some of the original studio equipment has gone missing — Dweezil especially regrets losing track of the Pultec equalizers — the vintage mic collection is still choice. “There’s a nice collection of Neumanns: some M49s, some M50s, some U47s. I believe there’s one Telefunken U47,” notes Dweezil.

Staffing the newly revived facility will likely be on an as-needed basis. “I’m going to be the main engineer on my projects, and if there are other things that we decide to bring in, we will hire some other people we enjoy working with,” says Dweezil. “Vaultmeister” Joe Travers, whose full-time job is to identify the many hundreds of tapes in the vault, will no doubt be involved in some of the archiving. “As it relates to projects of Frank’s, it’ll most likely be the two of us,” says Dweezil. “I’ve also talked to other engineers, like Bob Clearmountain, and I’d like to get some other engineers’ takes on Frank’s music. I hope to do some high-end 5.1 or detailed audiophile special projects that involve great mixers. We’re also working on putting together some DVDs and finishing the Roxy and Elsewhere movie that Frank started to make. There’s all kinds of stuff in the vaults that Frank did on 2-track or in apartments. There’s easily another 30 years of releases — it’s that crazy.”

 

Chris Michie

Permalink Leave a Comment

Pink Floyd – “See Emily Play” (Promo – 1967)

March 23, 2009 at 8:40 am (Music)

The 2nd single by Pink Floyd from 1967. You can tell not much money was spent on this promo clip (or the one for their previous single, “Arnold Layne”). I love how cars are just driving past in the background. This is more like a home movie. But of course “videos” were not considered very important in those days. Remember, this was 14 years before MTV…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Leonard Cohen – “Never Mind” (2005)

March 23, 2009 at 2:24 am (Leonard Cohen, Poetry & Literature)

The war was lost
The treaty signed
I was not caught
I crossed the line

I had to leave
My life behind
I had a name
But never mind

Your victory
Was so complete
That some among you
Thought to keep

A record of
Our little lives
The clothes we wore
Our pots our knives

The games of luck
Our soldiers played
The stones we cut
The songs we made

Our law of peace
Which understands
A husband leads
A wife commands

And all of this
Expressions of
The High Indifference
Some call Love

The High Indifference
Some call Fate
But we had Names
More intimate

Names so deep
and Names so true
They’re lost to me
And dead to you

There is no need
That this survive
There’s truth that lives
And truth that dies

There’s truth that lives
And truth that dies
I don’t know which
So never mind

I could not kill
The way you kill
I could not hate
I tried I failed

No man can see
The vast design
Or who will be
Last of his kind

The story’s told
With facts and lies
You own the world
So never mind

Permalink Leave a Comment

« Previous page · Next page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers