Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It ain't why why why—it just is

This is neither here nor there, but...

After Van Morrison left his group Them, he recorded solo material for Bang Records (including T.B. Sheets, which has two early versions of tracks later found on Astral Weeks). Eventually he found the Bang contract onerous, and "wrote" and recorded 36 nonsense songs to fulfill it. Titles include "Jump and Thump," the conversational "Want a Danish," "Blow in Your Nose" (and "Nose in Your Blow"), the words-free "Chickee Coo," the audience-razzing "Freaky If You Got This Far"...

Here's a partial transcription of Van Morrison's "All the Bits":

All the bits.
No, ya' see, ya' get, ya' get a thing goin' like that,
it's uh, uhh...
and then, you put it on the end, ya' go
"Dahnt-dahn," you know, like that,
at the end of the lyrics,
"Dahnt-dahn," that's nice

And here are the lyrics, in toto, for "You Say 'France' and I'll Whistle":

You say "France"
and I'll whistle.
You say "France"
and I'll whistle.
I'll whistle,
you say "France".
No, you say "France" and I'll whistle.
No, no, you whistle and I'll say "France".
No, no, you say "France" and I'll whistle.
Yeah, you whistle, I'll say "France", yeah.
No, no,
you say "France" and I'll whistle.

(A tip of the Dizzies whirligig to the mysterious B. Kite. For more on Van Morrison, here's a brief review of Clinton Heylin's VM bio. My friend David S. played "Ring Worm" on his WFMU show—you can listen at the archive!)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Continuum mysterium

I'm doing a bit of computer housekeeping, throwing away stuff. The problem is that every word I write is so incredibly fascinating that it deserves to be kept for posterity—or so I'm told by Ginger and Heinrich, the new Dizzies interns.

Case in point: Here are the entire contents of a file marked "22park.doc," an abandoned go at a review of the B.S. Johnson biography. (Oddly, it wouldn't feel out of place in Johnson's See the Old Lady Decently.)

Like a Fiery Elephant
By Jonathan Coe

But it’s no substitute for reading Johnson, whose idiosyncrasy ______.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Books Do Furnish a Room

Originally uploaded by Edwardius.

The Third Dream — "Hawaii" — Freud

This morning in the Times: A terrific article by Sophia Kishkovsky about the flourishing one-upmanship in Muscovite restaurant restroom design. One such eatery is called Cafe Freud. It contains three dining halls, Ego, Superego, and Id, and outrageously/thematically named dishes (a soup called Libido Sexualis).

There are a lot of great details, such as the "nearly 400-page volume on the history of Russian bathrooms and their place in world bathroom history" and a bistro named Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

But something else made me stare at the piece . . . a couple years ago, I had a dream in which I drove by a place called Cafe Freud — it must be something I wrote down, and I'll have Pru and Fred, the Dizzies interns, comb through my notebooks for more details. I do remember that the dream took place in somewhere like Honolulu or Taipei or perhaps Seoul.

Upon sitting down to write this deeply fascinating post, I found a mostly mystifying note that I made while in Hawaii (dateline Kauai, June 13, 2005):

Roosters all day, frogs in the parking lot all night—

UKELELE [drawing of ukelele]


1. 15¢ -> grandfather -> a photocopy ->

A check [reading:]
Fifteen Cents

2. Mailbox -> full of flour bag, etc. -> keep opening wrong one -> key is breaking

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Memories of murder

It's a beautiful morning in New York...recalling the beautiful weather on the morning of September 11 four years ago. We lived on the East Side then, and we would take walks in the morning...

1. I remember noting how blue the sky was.
2. I remember signs for the various candidates—local elections were being held that day.
3. I remember coming back home and logging onto the Times website for a little news, and seeing a sentence about a plane hitting the first tower.
4. I remember going to other sites, the Drudge Report and so forth.
5. I remember turning on the radio.
6. I remember going to the roof of our building—it was 35 stories high, on York Avenue and 70th Street—and looking south.
7. I remember about a dozen people were on the roof, some with their cameras out.
8. I remember not bringing my camera.
9. I remember thinking if I took a picture it would be this evil thing inside the camera, inside the computer when I downloaded it.
10. I remember talking to my mom as reports of the attack on Washington surfaced.
11. I remember that night watching TV in absolute terror, listening to rumors about mysterious cars found near bridges into the city.
12. I remember thinking about a short story I'd written in August for a reading, a story about the destruction of Manhattan, bridges broken, the island floating away.
13. I remember it being whimsical. It would be the last fiction I'd write for a while—for years, actually.
14. I remember going to Food Emporium and buying bottled water and frozen food, salmon patties and vegetarian patties. We kept them in the fridge for over a year and then threw them out.
15. I remember the awful stench for weeks afterward, in the streets around where I worked downtown, sometimes even uptown as I got off the subway.


In other news, this article, from today's NYT magazine, is interesting.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Some N.O. songs for uke

This is strangely moving.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Louisiana, 1928 (or thereabouts)

Most of Harry Stephen Keeler's novels are set in his native Chicago, but he liked New Orleans and sent the plot thither in The Voice of the Seven Sparrows (1928), his first novel published in the U.S. A piece of correspondence (which I can't locate at the moment) to a fan in N.O. confirms his fondness for the city. It's no surprise, given that he championed the vibrant, multicultural nature of Chi, which he often called the "London of the West." (The title of this post is a nod to Randy Newman's "Louisiana, 1927," which has been playing on a more or less constant loop in my head this week.)

Here's a NOLA excerpt from HSK's novel, which also displays his fondness for cartographical precision, extreme dialect, and all things Chinese:

He came upon an express office shortly and left instructions and money for the picking up and delivery of his portmanteau. Then a few minutes later he emerged into the refreshing openness of Canal Street, where he threaded his way across the traffic to a grey-clad policeman who helped to control it. Then was he to be treated to a further sign of Southern courtesy.

"Where would I be able to find the Chinese section of this city?" he asked. "I'm a stranger here."

The traffic policeman first put up a sunburned hand to stem the flood of autos and cars rolling out into Canal Street from the American side of the city. Traffic came to a dead halt. He turned.

"Well now you see this heah street heah? This is Canal Street, the centah o' the city. You go clear up Canal just as far as you can go till you come to South Rampart Street—Rampart Street used to be the ramparts of the old N'Awleans in the days of the fighting of the Spanyahds. It's the negro section. You then tuhn to y' left—don't tuhn right, or you'll be on N'oth Rampart and back in the French section." Auto drivers were fuming in their cushioned seats, street car motormen were stamping about on their platforms, and Smith, the centre of all this disturbance, felt decidedly ill at east. But the policeman went on imperturbably. "You then tuhns to y' left, on South Rampart Street, and you keep going along—well, two, maybe three blocks, till you come to a street called Tulane. This heah street, Tulane, from South Rampart to Sa'toga Street is known as Chinaman's Block. All the Chinese o' N'Awleans try to crow in on this block, but there being mo' Chinese than there is quahtahs, they've spread outa bit in either direction along South Rampart Street, and if you're looking for a particulah store or Chinese, you may have to go eithah way along Rampart. Have I made it quite cleah?"

"Quite," said Smith embarrasedly, looking at the big mass of traffic fuming on the intersecting street. "Thanks."

"No trouble at all." The policeman blew a shrill blast on his whistle, and at once the traffic poured forth into Canal and Smith felt a relief as he turned to cover that broad street in the direction given him.

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