My wife and I have substituted the daily relationships we had with our now college rooted children with a revivifying blend of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a splash of HBO and Showtime.
We are revisiting our initial dating patterns from now long ago without any of the thoughtful incorporation of each other’s feelings. If viewed from a distance and with a cold eye, our marriage is now dependant on how rapidly a new season of our favorite programs come available.
As a fatalist, I constantly fret that Hollywood will not keep pace with our romantic hybrid. My ever-optimistic wife concerns herself only with “which” and never “if” new shows will come along,
By the time we had finished “Game of Thrones,” I had bought a long-handled, two-headed ax and had our dog scared shitless that I was coming for him. I had also knitted a flattering hair shirt. My wife had chained our cat in the basement for random and destructive fire-breathing , ( it incinerated the parakeet).
The twenty-three-year run of “Breaking Bad” provided three extensions to our house from the windfalls from my sale of bright blue methamphetamine to my now high strung neighbors.
This month we are watching “The Tudors”, so I am guessing it won’t be long before I take on a couple of new wives and spend my days ripping bodices.
The life of a woman consists of one adventure which can be multiplied by coupling with one or more men. This product, in and of itself remains essentially unvarying except for the occasional very unexceptional children or, perish the thought, dangerous ones.
All else is filled with chatter and worry. The life of the man is an continuous exploration for avenues to be competitive without killing or being killed prematurely each other.
This only applies to men who are Steeler fans. All other men are actually women.
Always that same LSD story, you’ve all seen it. ‘Young man on acid thought he could fly, jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.’ What a dick! Fuck him, he’s an idiot. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off on the ground first? Check it out. You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south—they fly from the ground, ya moron, quit ruining it for everybody. He’s a moron, he’s dead—good, we lost a moron, fuckin’ celebrate. Wow, I just felt the world get lighter. We lost a moron! I don’t mean to sound cold, or cruel, or vicious, but I am, so that’s the way it comes out. Professional help is being sought. How about a positive LSD story? Wouldn’t that be news-worthy, just the once? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition and lies? I think it would be news-worthy. ‘Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves’ . . . ‘Here’s Tom with the weather.’”- Bill Hicks
Bill Curbishley, on the right, is the manager of The Who. If he had chosen to, he could have managed The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as well. He quietly changed the live music touring business, but what he enjoyed most was robbing deli’s with me on off days.
Taylor Swift savages boyfriends who cross her. There is a hazard to getting close to such a girl. In vague comparison, if you fucked over Pete Townshend, it was time to renew your passport and run. I listened to his music long before I knew him. When I was in college, I wouldn’t have been able to name the band individually. It just wasn’t something I was concerned with, and I don’t think this was at all uncommon. They were simply The Who and maybe my favorite band. The hardest band to remember their names were Lynryd Skynyrd. I had to practice so much I got blocks. It is why I only got to know Ronnie well.
“Can I have a word?” Townshend says to me by the hotel phone around midday. Like some rare birds, he was an uncommon sight until late afternoon at sound checks. It was not a settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. For me, at first, it was a reasonable cause for dread. He made me uneasy. It took years to work that shit out. Bill, Jackie, and I were having a laugh in a hotel room working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour when his call came. Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far, because the shows started in Montreal, we had a drawing of a giant green frog, with a chunk of Canadian bacon in its mouth, hopping on each city they would play. The amphibian was wearing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform, and he had a beaver under each arm. The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it. I thought of it as an example of my favorite form of art, topical and bursting with ridicule. But that phone call dampened me, so I headed down to his room. He did not look well. He had his tea. He could remind me of a bloodhound waiting for a proctology examination. I expected the worse because I had passed his security guy in the hallway, and he barely recognized me.
” Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied, he would be pleased.” Yes,” I said. “How much?” He actually groaned when I told him. “Fuck,” was all he said “Who was here?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter. I must have passed out.” He seemed to sigh, but he might have been still gasping in shock. “Want me to put Jim on it?” I said. “No, it’s gone, thanks.” And I left.
My career incorporated moving each day from one bunch of people to another. The populations of these audiences ranged from 250 to 150,000 individuals. In each instance, almost all of them wished they were me. That never helped.
The stark contrast between watching someone who you love die and watching that same person die if you hate him is an exhibition opening all over the United States today. When I was little, I was torn apart by the death of King Kong on the Empire State building as machine guns shot him from the biplanes ( the ancient black and white film version.) He fell victim to loving the wrong girl. Most of my friends in the movie theater applauded his massacre. I could barely watch. Even in the story’s remakes today, it still cuts me. Watching Trump pass on is the same for me.
“Could I have a word?” Townshend said to me on the hotel phone around midday. Like certain rare birds, Pete was seldom sighted before late afternoon for sound checks.
It was not a settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. In my case, it was fair cause for dread. He made me uneasy and I him at first. It took years to work that out.
A couple of us were having fun working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour .Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far we had a sketch of a frog with a greasy slab of Canadian bacon in its mouth hopping from city to city outlining where they would play. He was dressed in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform and in chase of a tubby beaver. It was in a time that people could laugh at themselves.
The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it. But that phone call dampened me, so I headed down to his room with my bag .
He did not look well. He had his tea. There were no headless bodies and only his security guy who was desperately trying to focus his eyes on the sofa.
”Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied to him he would be pleased. ”
Yes”, I said.“
How much?” He gutturally groaned when I told him.
“Fuck,” was all he said
“Who was here?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter I didn’t know them. I must have passed out.”
I think there is something particularly human in repetitiveness. As I age, I more understand the working relationship between creativity and forgetfulness. I am just creative enough to see that. If I were more, it would never occur to me. Regis Boff FaceBook sends things I have posted back to me in their “memories”. My guess is it makes me appear small in the eyes of the very few who show any interest in me. Below is such a recall. It makes me cry a little. Regis Boff
From Brian Wilson’s autobiography: Today (October 11), Brian Wilson releases his long-awaited memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. In this excerpt, he discusses the influence of two of the Beach Boys’ only true rivals in the ’60s: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And also, how bandmate/rival Mike Love helped him to finish “Good Vibrations.” ~ The one that really got me was Rubber Soul, which came out at the end of 1965. Rubber Soul is probably the greatest record ever. Maybe the Phil Spector Christmas record is right up there with it, and it’s hard to say that the Who’s Tommy isn’t one of the best, too. But Rubber Soul came out in December of 1965 and sent me right to the piano bench. It’s a whole album of Beatles folk songs, a whole album where everything flows together and everything works. I remember being blown away by “You Won’t See Me” and “I’m Looking Through You” and “Girl.” It wasn’t just the lyrics and the melodies but the production and their harmonies. They had such unique harmonies, you know? In “You Won’t See Me,” Paul sings low and George and John sing high. There’s an organ drone in there, a note that’s held down for the last third of the song or so. Those were touches they were trying, almost art music. What was so great about the Beatles was you could hear their ideas so clearly in their music. They didn’t pose like some other bands, and they didn’t try to stuff too much meaning in their songs. They might be singing a song about loneliness or a song about anger or a song about feeling down. They were great poets about simple things, but that also made it easier to hear the song. And they never did anything clumsy. It was like perfect pitch but for entire songs. Everything landed on its feet. I met Paul McCartney later in the ’60s, in a studio. I was almost always in a studio back then. He came by when we were at Columbia Square working on vocal overdubs, and we had a little chat about music. Everyone knows now that “God Only Knows” was Paul’s favorite song—and not only his favorite Beach Boys song, but one of his favorite songs period. It’s the kind of thing people write in liner notes and say on talk shows. When people read it, they kind of look at that sentence and keep going. But think about how much it mattered to me when I first heard it there on Sunset Boulevard. I was the person who wrote “God Only Knows,” and here was another person—the person who wrote “Yesterday” and “And I Love Her” and so many other songs—saying it was his favorite. It really blew my mind. He wasn’t the only Beatle who felt that way. John Lennon called me after Pet Sounds—phoned me up, I think the British say—to tell me how much he loved the record.
But Paul and I stayed in touch. Another time not too long after that he came to my house and told me about the new music he was working on. “There’s one song I want you to hear,” he said. “I think it’s a nice melody.” He put the tape on and it was “She’s Leaving Home.” My wife, Marilyn, was there, too, and she just started crying. Listening to Paul play a new song let me see my own songs more clearly. It was hard for me to think about the effect that my music had on other people, but it was easy to see when it was another songwriter.
I think the protests caught everybody off guard though Columbia College was well ahead of the national curve. The nature of the place was to question everything, learn from the debate, and build skills. It felt abrupt that argumentative and embarrassing exchanges became personal and sometimes violent. It must have felt like a stain to the professors and administration at first. The place has a history of the mind overwhelming violence and is proud of that. Schools had become a haven from Vietnam, and Columbia was no different than the rest. You did not have to die if enrolled. The tearing apart of that shelter took real nerve. We were all very young men ( All male school at the time). We were among the first to act on our conscience. We figured out that something was very wrong. That was no small realization at the time. It was dangerous to resist. Columbia, above all else, was brave. A bridge from our academia to the outside world let something new and savage inside. Clear sides formed. Words could no longer settle anything. Fifty years later, my life still never pauses to be grateful. Discredited are the divinities that demand gratuity. Gone are parents who held my hand for a while. Even my excellent luck is not a thing to tip a hat too. There is only one place I wish I could be again because it was perfect. Columbia College the way I found it in 1967.My class seemed to be trying to tear it apart. In my last two years there, it seemed to collapse entirely. My college disappeared overnight, and I had not enough time or wisdom to regret it. Violence does that.I understand now what a college should aspire to be, memory—where you can find all truth and none. I know that school is still there. —
I only want to watch attractive people have sex. As a youth, I was curious about what beautiful gay people did to each other. Once I got a handle however on the structural opportunities they brought to the table, the identical disinterest in unattractive homosexuals repeated itself.My riddle is that I am not attractive myself yet I still demand what I see and sexually touch to be beautiful. All men are this way. Ask them.The Early man simply sniffed out beauty. It was a successful system, and we multiplied notwithstanding our repulsiveness for millennium. All that ended with the advent of perfumes.In the early fifties, all human sexual aromas were drenched by the French liquid, Chanel # 5. This perfume instantly made billions of unpleasant people sexually uninteresting. Men immediately, in their perspicacity, associated beauty strictly with their eyes and only so, from then on.Of course, this was the last thing old Coco Chanel thought she was doing when she came up with her scent. She thought it would level the playing field for hideous people. It did not.
Every black person freezes me, at that moment when I was five when my mother is screaming at me, “Look at what you have done.” Her favorite vase, shattered at my feet dropped on the floor. I can’t lookup. I can’t put it together. Something big is gone forever.
Roger Daltrey would not stay in hotels whose windows would not open. John Entwistle wanted long stay overs in cities where the deep sea fishing was good. Pete Townshend insisted his room be as far away from Moon’s as possible. And Keith asked only to be informed they were touring in time to get his outfits together. Louis XIV, France’s Sun King, had the longest reign in European history (1643-1715). During this time, he brought absolute monarchy to its height, established a glittering court at Versailles, and fought most of the other European countries in four wars. Had he been offered the choice, he would have opted to go on tour with The Who. It was far more fun. Entwistle was stone-faced impervious to the un-uniqueness of his fishes. He stuffed them all, and we shipped them to his home. He would rent a boat and take whoever wanted to come for the day. There was no career advantage in landing the biggest one. It would have been not polite. One such early morning in Miami, Moon arrived at the dock unexpectedly and dressed in a white Admiral’s outfit, with a sixteenth-century captain’s hat, shoulder tassels, and a monocle. It was a rare accuracy for him to even roughly guess where the fuck he was going, let alone to be in sync with any dress regulations. In fairness, it could have been a coincidence. Keith was drinking heavily before the boat began dawdling out toward deeper seas. Drinking after a night of drug-taking was nearly medicinal in his mind—a sensible pharmaceutical rebuttal in Rock terms. Anyway, the fishing went poorly. After only a couple of hours of seafaring, the drummer began crying and baring his soul to anybody who would listen. Listening to Keith was always a dangerous mental bear trap because he was very talented and deeply deceptive. It was routine to find yourself neck high in especially embarrassing shit. He had crashed into an epiphany. He ordered John to turn the boat around and put it into a port near the ablest hospital in Miami. He intended to apply the three days remaining in our stopover, to “purge himself” under the guardianship of “master doctors.” Forfeiting a show because he passed out on stage was yet to be routine, but it was a deadly threat. This plan grew support from everyone but Entwisle, who was fishing and not buying a word. So we continue to troll while Bill Curbishley and I tried to bribe hospitals to take him in. After admitting a weepy Moon and depositing him in a hospital bed, we set off back to the hotel for lunch, feeling pretty damn smart about everything. Later that day, we got a desperate call from the hospital saying that the police were on the way, and we had to get Moon out. The administrator said the drummer was on a payphone in the hallway in his dressing gown doing interviews with the local radio stations. He was inviting the kids to come to the hospital for a party. When we got there, the crowd was a couple of hundred deep.
It was the seventies, our hotel, seven or ten hours after the show had ended in Dallas.
“Do you have him?” I asked, knowing full well they did or calling me would have been a waste of time because “the hunt would be on” by all the security. I would have been irrelevant.
“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but he’s been pestering for you,” he whined.
I got dressed and palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills and headed up.
His elevator opened to a sea of teenage girls wandering the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards me but drooped because I was a grown-up.
One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked, putting the cop money in my pocket.
The likable young tough shrugged at me like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
Moon’s living room was empty except for Tiny, one of Jim’s security guys, standing lookout at the bedroom door.
He was naked except for the laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
Tiny was a goliath ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun storing it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor.
He had shoulder-length greasy black curly hair. His eyebrows, arms, and whiskers were testicular sparse. He resembles the sad outcome of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear.
Though gulpingly repulsive, Tiny always had the prettiest girls with him. He could outdraw Daltrey. Roger, of course, destroyed him on volume.
After a favor, he did me. I told him to order anything he wanted from room service. Passing by his room later, I caught him on his bed with a girl and two serving spoons. He had a glass bowl of forty or so ice cream scoops balanced on his stomach. They looked like life was at its summit. Tiny was not a man to fret the absence of inner experience.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.
“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim Callaghan cracked the door to peek at me. He was naked, “No clothes, governor’s orders.” was what he said.
I undressed except for my briefcase. I kept my shoes out of curious modesty.
I like hookers because they are a little like The Who. They are real.
Seven of them were on his king bed, staring at something in its center.
It was a Scrabble board.
A forest of breasts had blindfolded the drummer. He batted a few to clear his view of me.
“Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?” He charged.
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
I lose his attention as he turns again to the board.
“Well Reg, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confused our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and The Wheel of Fortune. They must have had a British equivalent from somewhere in his past.
“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him seductively, shoving a blond to the floor. I sat covering myself with my leather case.
For the first time, I noticed Dougal, his lifetime best friend on the floor, stewing in four girls. Callaghan had returned to one corner and was working on swapping blowjobs for backstage passes. The exercise was stupid because the girls all had been paid for already by Moon. But Jim had been at this for so many years it was an erotic accessory for him. I think he started with the Osmonds.
“I have these ladies on the run, but the play is getting crowded. The board is very condensed.” Moon groaned competitively to me.
I glanced at it. Three words had found their way into the match, but none of the wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed some confidence. They were beautiful by any standard.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one.” She carefully laid down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team.
So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit next to naked men regularly, and so I worry about sweat.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes to his.
My briefcase is likely the most valuable item on tour except for the guitars. Our security would rescue it before any attention came my way.
I hand him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a deep jungle musk genital pouch.
I was half thinking of getting hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag before breakfast.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there, think she could be mine?”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality is not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“Please,” I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”
Jim and Doughal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case please,” he commanded, putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.
He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
He fixed on a number, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.
Opening the case, I counted out the packets, handed it to him, and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money to Doughal, who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Doughal sprang for it before the girls did.
On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.
Keith Moon was out on the street, working as a doorman/bellboy at the Navarro Hotel in New York City in between shows at Madison Square Garden because he was running out of money. I got him that job thinking it might be a character-building experience. It also relieved, for a little while, everybody’s constant anxiety over where he was. The hotel manager, Mr. Russell, a personal friend of mine, arranged it because he felt obliged. After all, the band had rebuilt three of his hotel rooms over the last two tours. I always turned to the word ” shredded” in reporting what Moon had done to them. It was August 6, 1978. I think. We were in one of the suites playing scrabble and waiting for something to happen when Mr. Russell called to warn that Moon and his entourage were heading upstairs and that he was carrying two bags from a new guest that he had forgotten to leave in the lobby. The initial confusion of having their taxi door opened by a rock star wearing a six-foot-long Indian headdress was working out in the manager’s estimation. The regular bellmen seemed please at the increase in tips coming in. He was also sharing his gratuities with everybody conscientiously though he got ill-tempered with the math. It has, in fairness to Moony, been my experience that no rock star can count. In minutes the drummer blasted into the room like a one-person Apache raiding party. Behind him trailed our security guys, five groupies, two bellmen, and I guessed from their suits the people chasing their stolen bags. ” Have you heard the news?” he was nearly moaning with excitement. “Some Pope is dead! “ Feathers whipping in his breeze, he whirled on Anne Wheldon, our publicist who lives in a barely suppressed nervous hysteria, ordering her to ” get me someone on the line right now from The New York Times and Billboard Magazine!” He started to wring his hands like an early Adolf Hitler slavering over a defenseless prewar France. “Go right to the top, Anne, tell them I am throwing my hat into this Papal ring.” His eyes had an almost religious luminescence. She had the entertainment editor from the Times on the phone within minutes. He straightened his feathers and hunched over the desk phone. The room grew silent. We hung on his side of the conversation.” “That’s right; I have wanted to leave the band for years,” he confirmed to the guy. ” “Given this emergency, I believe that moment is ripe.” He listened, and his face seemed to droop. “No, I am not Catholic,” he paused, perhaps sensing his tactical error.” “But I am a quick study, ask Pete Townshend,” he attached smoothly. “And don’t let that motherfucker Mick Jagger hear about this. He is the devil, you know,” cunningly racing to blot any competition quickly. By this time, we were rolling on the floor, and Anne was standing next to him, trying to get his attention waving her arms and mouthing that she had Rolling Stone on the other line. He put both hands over the phone and, in confusion, shouted at us,” Fuck, he wants to know what I think qualifies me to be the next Pope.” Ever quick, Bill Curbishley, his manager, shouted back to him”, Tell him twenty-five platinum albums.”
Most everybody from Pittsburgh grew up on a hilltop. Hills surround the city. We were bigots and racists. All of us had our peak, the results of the game of musical chairs that is continuously playing in America. Our timid arriving immigrant masses huddled on any vacant space they could find. Then they hard prayed the English language would become decipherable to them in time.
Our little ethnic villages stood like bearded goats on these elevations, each confident that their summit was closer to whatever they believed was God above them. There were no hills for women, as they were scattered equally and none for gays and lesbians because they did not yet exist. Blacks somehow did not get any top land, so they got a middle ground and called it a “side.” Jews seemed to be hiding around the big University of Pittsburgh. They appeared to feel safer there. I hardly knew about Jews when I lived there in the fifties and sixties. But we knew all we needed because of jokes at their expense. Mind you. We made fun of everyone except ourselves. Class envy existed, but nobody had very much of that. We were all kind of a shitty shipment of lower classes, so fighting about so little would have just proven demoralizing and too obvious. No, the best playing fields for prejudice lay in the more fertile areas of skin color and accent. I grew up in a time when snobbishness was a greater offense than discrimination. Nowadays, conceits are confused with power, and bigotries punished like little homicides.
The geography of my youth helped me stumble into a critical ditch of reality in my life. It is that crowds are meaner than individuals. One person can reflect before they make a mistake, but a group cannot. Groups develop from the fear of friends. There was no one to show this to me when I was a kid. Hurting someone weaker or different is reassuring to anybody frantic for acceptance. You do not have to come from Pittsburgh to know that.
We are forever guessing
if we are a song.
Nothing is soundless.
but are never sure that our noises carry.
may reach Neptune.
But Neptune, like God, does not echo.
Birds don’t care so much
for their songs.
They care about eggs and nests
and the size of baby new wings.
Cicadas lullaby summer evenings.
But the night doesn’t pick up
and begin to dance.
Flies whizz their little ditties
by our ears.
And we brush them away,
like eavesdropped insults.
exhale their perfumes
into the winds to
blind the dazzled slave bees.
Nothing disturbs the evenhanded blizzard
that is being alive,
but the drama of surprising death,
and the odd collisions with love.
She sits among her snowflake suitors.
Each the same
Until she finds
the one that echoes her song.
PUBLISHED: June 30, 2016
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
PUBLISHED: January 1, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
He insisted they had a connection.
It was awkward.
She was beautiful by any standard.
I showed him a picture someone had snapped of her in a flowered smock, the typical shapeless tent of a day dress popularized in the fifties. He was smitten instantly. He wouldn’t let it go, bringing her up out of nowhere, asking about that picture.
The trajectory of my mother’s life and death were much the same as his, inevitable and sad.
From a distance, I saw them both as hapless geese plowing into the propellers of aircraft taking off from God’s airport. Neither the plane nor their shared psychosis was willing to alter courses. So they had no chance.
Her broken feathers scattered all around me, Moon’s drifted over everyone.
When she died, conveniently between Who tours, he took it in pace. He never mentioned her again, except to annoy me about the task he had set me on. Finding a dress like the one in her photo. Of course, in his size.
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2017
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
I wasn’t going to tell.
I wrapped him in brown paper
and went home
and hid him,
after he raped me.
He was pleased.
He climbs on me at night.
We do bug things.
He scares me again
but now in whispers
his voice in mean humming pitches
like warm August night locusts.
I am forgotten.
across the table from me,
he asks, “So what shall we do today?
So casually. I am confused.
My life with him is beginning.
His claw touches my hand,
He is pleased.
My deceit holds no estate in him.
I am vanished into what has hurt me.
Life forbids that I feel nothing at all.
My life might be very long.
PUBLISHED: December 29, 2016
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
I valued small print as a child. Somehow it conveyed gravity and possibility. We had this vast family dictionary that had every word in it.
I would close my eyes, then pick a random page to open on and look at the words. I did the same thing with the Bible. On occasion, some words would have a tiny drawing. I was the first kid to see a Dodo bird in my neighborhood. I still remember this picture.
My mother built my first encyclopedia by redeeming green stamps at our supermarket, getting one letter a month. It was a Funk and Wagnalls.
We failed to complete the set for reasons long forgotten.
I occasionally find empty pockets inside the U, V, W, X, Y, and Z sections of my scholarship.
I spent hours chasing ants on my hands and knees trying to burn them with a large magnifying glass angled to the summer sun’s rays. I had built fires this way in Boy Scouts. I used twigs, not ants, for that.
The ants often adopted a “clump together” stratagem in their insect terror, and this was a bad move.
In retrospect, there is a cruelty in children that blends agreeably with innocence.
Much of my career, such that it was, depended upon rationalizing that rock bands needed their money defended. It would be hard to argue that I was not good at it.
Ticket prices grew over the years. The Who’s ticket price was always an internal cause for concern with them. Raising the ticket price one dollar could provoke a rare band meeting that could end in a screaming faceoff. The Stones did not give less a fuck.
Thinking back on it now, we taxed the kids based on how much they loved art. And it was art.
There was a formula involved that was hard to describe. The pain of the price diminished as the size of the venue increased. It was almost as though the fans did not mind getting fucked as long as tons of others did too.
In my years, The Who reached the point they could play as many stadiums in each city as they wanted. The big bands made sure they did not go out at the same time and we would coordinate by calling each other. They could suck all the money out of a city.
The virtues of ticket pricing eventually vanished and were replaced with making sure that we did not cheat whole cities out of an opportunity to see them play.
Through it all, I remained loyal to their money.
When the Poet of Avon, Mr. William Shakespeare, awoke this very morning, he stumbled headfirst into brevity. Twitter.
In doing so, he doomed all other English playwrights, a mostly sterile ladle of plagiarizing snakes, to drone on while in morbid awe of him for all eternity.
The notion of premièring himself on this afternoon, as the writer of fewest words, flung him into malicious merriment. “I am now and forever will be a port-wine reduction sauce of succinctness.
“My genius is the tabernacle of the truncated,” he gloated,” I will leave the breadth of things to the freshmen.”
“Verily,” he bragged, (too loudly, for his mother, now overhears him while hiding behind his bedroom door), “and forever, my works will be posted with nails onto trees in twenty-six words and less and will be known to the audience as “tweets”.
Hearing this vow, his mother, the severely verbalized Mary Arden Shakespeare dismays.
Mary was a woman who could trace her long-windedness as linearly as an erection, back to the most crucial exercise of unnecessary human print, “The Doomsday Book.” She feared her son was maneuvering into a near-criminal puddle of abbreviated verbal sulkiness.
She slumped, legs splayed into bunches of skirts, muttering miserably to herself, (wholly in Old English, to her credit), “I will not allow him an eternity of pithiness of verse.”
But Bill speeds by her determined to stop his life’s drudgery of taxing inventiveness before she can interfere.
“Romeo and Juliet” was already rewriting itself in his mind as a love story that lasts only as long as a stick of sassafras chewing gum.
“Romeo has the scheme, parents will be sorry; R. fucks everything up, big mess, J. is an idiot The End,” was all it needed to be.
Shakespeare sprints to Stratford’s Speaker’s Corner to announce the new course for England’s scholarly conversation.
“Forever on,” Bill bellows to a gathering crowd of the muddy, toothless, and lice-infested, “My tragedies and comedies will come to you now nailed on trees. To be read as “Twits.”
“Be it known that if it must be said, I will say it from inside the prison of twenty-six letterings or less. And all will carry a dollop of gruel for authenticity. Henceforth to be understood as my “gruel tag.”
“My histories, poems, and essays will remain on my Facebook page.”
I think memories must wait impatiently in lines to be called up. Until the last. After all, we dream to the very end. And things can get crowded. There must is a special place for the dreams of young girls though, for even mirrors bow to them.
Bill Curbishley, on the right, is the manager of The Who. If he had chosen to, he could have managed The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as well. He quietly changed the live music touring business, but what he enjoyed most was robbing deli’s with me on off days.
Taylor Swift savages boyfriends who cross her. There is a hazard to getting close to such a girl.
In vague comparison, if you fucked over Pete Townshend, it was time to renew your passport and run.
I listened to his music long before I knew him. When I was in college, I wouldn’t have been able to name the band individually then. It just wasn’t something I was concerned with, and I don’t think this was at all uncommon. They were simply The Who. The hardest band to remember their names were Lynard Skynyrd. I had to practice so much I got blocks.
“Can I have a word?” Townshend says to me by the hotel phone around midday.
Like some rare birds, it was uncommon to sight him until late afternoon at sound checks. It was not constitutionally a settling experience to talk to him one on one before then. For me, at first, it was a reasonable cause for dread. He made me uneasy. It took years to work that shit out.
Bill, Jackie, and I were having a laugh in a hotel room working out a logo/poster for the upcoming Canadian leg of a Who tour when his call came.
Canada is big and mostly settled by moose. So far, we had a drawing of a giant green frog with a chunk of Canadian bacon in its mouth, hopping from city to city where we would play. The amphibian was wearing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform. He had a beaver under each arm. The bacon was my touch because I grew up eating it.
But that phone call dampened me, so I headed down to his room.
He did not look well. He had his tea.
” Did you give me money last night?” he said without really looking up. I got the feeling that if I lied, he would be pleased.”
Yes,” I said.
“How much?” He gutturally groaned when I told him.
“Fuck,” was all he said
“Who was here?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter. I must have passed out.” He seemed to sigh.
I knew Harvey Weinstein. He was an emergent live show promoter in Buffalo, New York. I would pass through this market over and over again with Genesis, who would barely sell a ticket. He would always lose money. His parents and grandparents would cook the band dinner after a show. We both started out in high school gymnasiums and old movie theaters. A decade later we were doing stadium shows with The Who and the Stones. He made money then. Harvey was one of the promoters I trusted. I think it was because he was playing the broader game of building a sound reputation. He may have deceived me about who he was, though I doubt it. I am not typically unaware of my surroundings. I ran into him long after his success was apparent in the movie industry. He offered to help me, to come work for him. He told me that I should call him. Would I have slept with him? I guess we will never know.
Nations thrive only when the most exciting people, the sexual deviants, are free to sin without anxiety or worry of reprisals. Ancient Greece and Rome, the Roaring Twenties and every day in France are examples of this. History will show that this decade in America will outdo them all. Our fantastically liberated commonwealth is so diverse right now that we need to employ the alphabet to identify our gender and sexual federations. Say no more. Oh, happy days! But I sense dark clouds forming on our open-source bi-coastal orgy. In my experience, sex does not long remain pleasant unless others hold that what you are doing is lewd, immoral, or scandalous. I fear we are draining our population unduly of prejudice. We are persecuting anyone not engaged in the study of elegance based solely on sex. I dread that Oscar Wilde may have been describing us when he said, “Only the great masters of style ever succeed in being obscure.”
It bears noting that trumpets, drums, and the piano are inventions that came before the fire. Horns and drums did not get much more complicated after that. The piano developed from dropping rocks on piles of bow and arrows — drums from chasing away snakes and prehistoric bears while we huddled in caves and horns from choking on the insects we were sucking out of hollow twigs. Only the piano stool is a modern contraption.
Interviewer: I ask Dylan about the time he and Bruce Springsteen were invited to a dinner party at Sinatra’s house and whether Bob thought Frank had ever heard his songs.
“Not really,” Dylan says. “I think he knew ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I know he liked ‘Forever Young,’ he told me that. He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”
We were not friends, but there was a curiosity between us. I heard Keith Moon say to him, “You know he is never going to forgive you.” I did, and he made me cry, as he said he would when I first met him. In Bill’s words,” He told you he was sorry. He did that for you, and you have to allow it to be enough.” Hard for someone like me who has a lifetime of unforgiven frozen people. In real life, it is never a good idea to believe you know someone. It is barely passably accurate most times to say you understand yourself, let alone another. No one who got close to the band was a fool. We had all passed the humiliation test, The Who included. The band never ill-treated strangers, but if you were with them, working from day to day, you had better watch out. You had to remember who you were. And that’s what made it so much fun. It was all so authentic. A simple exchange of vanity for living so grandly entitled, it took your breath away.
Jim Callaghan, the early morning remains of Keith Moon’s security detail shifted nervously from foot to foot. He was wearing only one shoe.
We both ignored him.
Moon was seated legs crossed in an Admiral’s uniform having tea on a small Victorian table against his suite window that opened to whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was sometime in the late seventies.
The drummer summoned an image of an unshaven Judy Garland during her last catastrophic years.” He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” He offered, not aware there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he added.
“I wanted to pick up more money,” I dropped, working to deflect him and to get to his point. “Increased money” worked on him, I knew from practice.
He regarded me as a magically tall cash fountain and understood vaguely that on occasion, I needed replenishment.
“We have disturbing confidences to discuss. I have finally slept with the wrong woman.” He paused here searching our faces for some sympathy or recognition. None arrived. But we didn’t laugh either.
Callaghan broke first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” he whispered, “this is our grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
I was immediately ahead of the puzzle,” I’ll get a doctor over this morning.”
I had a doctor in Keith’s suite within the hour. I can make anyone do anything for enough Who tickets and cash.
That afternoon I got the call that confirmed our boy had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea. I headed back up to the room to tell him and found him and his close friend Dougal hunched over a coffee table with pen and paper looking liked Hitler and Goebbels planning a North African panzer campaign. “Should we let the girl know?” I asked Keith. “The girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word, “What girl?” “There is no girl, Regis, don’t be stupid, there are zodiacs of girls. We are standing on the tip of a dangerous iceberg! Women moved like buffalo around the free range of any rock tour. ‘Moon’s Iceberg,’ as we were later to name it, made notifying the potential girls unimaginable without also calling the National Center for Disease Control. We settled, the three of us, on cataloging all of our crew and traveling party that Moon knew for sure had shared one of his girls. I would call them and make them come to get their shots. This doctor now worked for me. He made a fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start his own Ticketron. To my great discredit, I grasped that innocents were named, caught up in the net of Moon’s finger-pointing enthusiasm, but the drummer, once he got into the melody, could not stop implicating bystanders. Nearly the entire Who entourage was English. Britains are always the last ones to realize they are victims of a trick. They came over to the suite with a sick look on their faces and dropped their pants. Sadly, this was one of the funniest days of my life in the business. There was a picture taken of everyone standing or kneeling together in the suite, like a baseball team card. The little Indian doctor was sitting in the center holding a lap-full of Who tickets and a syringe. I don’t know who has that photo today. I would pay anything for it.
I am more familiar with the last Ice Age than most of you. You are more adjacent to Earth’s promised scalding flameout. We are both wedded to our alarm. Advancing glaciers scared the shit out of me as a kid. Our schools and media certified it was only a matter of time. These transcontinental icebergs would come gnashing relentlessly towards my home. They would overwhelm our 1956 Chevy and mashing our too slow to react dimwit of a family dog. Glacial speed was faster than global simmering to us. I knew where my hooded fur coat and galoshes, ( bet you haven’t heard that word for a while) were at all times, even in the heat of summertime. Today’s children and village idiots are encouraged to fear incineration by slow global baking. But I won’t change. I’m betting on ice. We had science too. PUBLISHED: September 20, 2018 FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds
My dad was good at being cheap. He was an everyday man living in the compost of his 1930’s Depression memories, which he had passed to us with regimented seriousness. I still carry his odd, but brightly austere shrapnel in me now into my own old age. I have long forgiven him everything. He gave me a good reason to be smarter than him. My sister and I never entirely escaped the atmosphere we grew up in. We slowly scratched his fears off of us, as best we could, and carried on without his advice. His penny-pinching ingenuity still shows in my behavior. Clemson, my dog, and I will both eat merrily out of cans for pennies a day if left alone too long. Our Dad invented “entropy.” It is a hypothesis in physics that contends that all things gradually decline into disorder or in his words, “wear out.” ” Every light bulb has only so many on and offs,” he would threaten as he hit me. Of course, I turned this into a lifetime of glancing skyward expectantly figuring the universe was going to run out of daytime.
I saw this picture of Bill Graham posted by Lisa Seckler- Rhode this morning, and it grabbed a memory from that section of my mind that is usually only aroused by drugs.
We were doing a deal with him for The Who to play San Francisco sometime in the late 1970s. He was bawling that we were not paying him enough, a not unfamiliar theme.
It can be exposed now that concert promoters never got what they said they did on deals with the Who. Usually, we took most of the money in exchange for our permission to lie about it for face-saving.
Predictably Graham’s negotiating tactics relied chiefly on whining and screaming.
When doing deals with him in the old day’s Bill Curbishley, the Who’s manager would be on his suite’s phone, and I would be in the bathroom on an extension. No cell phones.
In Graham’s standard, and there are pictures, we put the phone on a coffee table between us and could still hear him screeching.
He was a formidable adversary. He controlled San Francisco. Few promoters had the courage to stand up to certain bands — the Who had become too big to lose.
That said, when I started with Genesis, he did me endless favors, which he did not have to do. He was infinitely and deeply kind.
The other variable was that the band (The Who) loved him, so we never really fucked him. No doubt, he did them many favors too early on.
The conversations about these shows actually went on and off for years, Always breaking down somewhere.
We had settled on the Cow Palace in San Francisco for two shows.
The contract between us was one of a kind. It was one sheet of paper because we could not agree on anything.
The shows represented at least 250,000 tickets( most likely far more, I can’t recall), to be sold at an agreed ticket price.
Our biggest apprehension was that The Grateful Dead wouldn’t leave the stage when the Who were set to begin. They sometimes just played and played, on and on.
The contract read, ( and I still have it somewhere), The Grateful Dead can commence their show anytime after dawn and must leave the stage at sunset.
The Who will guarantee The Dead X. 50% payable on return of contract. That was it.
These were fabulous shows— in the sun in a beautiful football stadium. Everybody had a backstage area, The Who, The Dead, the press, self-important assholes, various Indian tribes, and bicycle gangs. Nothing could have been more fun.
They indeed started very early and played all-day. Everybody was nice to each other.
They were a fabulous band. I seldom knew an individual song unless it was about trucks, cocaine, or Uncle John’s band.
In the greatest trick ever pulled by a rock promoter, without telling us, Graham raised the face ticket price ( which he printed) one dollar, hoping to keep the money.
When confronted, he replied nearly in tears,” But you were stealing from me” — again at the top of his lungs.
One of a kind. We took the money.
Dark grey winters would finally unclench into light grey springs in Pittsburgh Pa where I grew up and went to high school in the middle sixties. I played football.
Our field was enclosed with black cyclone fencing. It was built entirely on concrete and was attached to our school like an athletic bedpan. Every other spring a caravan of heavy loaders filled with dirt would enter through a special gate that was theirs onto this field to refill it.
People who lived in the neighborhood would show up and sit outside this fence on the cement spectator stands connected directly to our field like a giant stone Legos. These folks came because it was something different. We would steal peeks from our windows when the teacher had his back to us.
We did not get new dirt every year, as erosion was nearly impossible, it being jailed in the field’s cement encasement and besides, dirt was not cheap. The pitch must have lost some of its volume from the unavoidable adhesiveness of our uniforms, cleats, and eyes and ears. A lot of the valuable dirt went down our mother’s water drains at home every night.
We would start practice for football in the hot and dry late Augusts before the school year started. Oil trucks had come the week before to spray the dirt dampening its dust. Through the first few weeks of practice we would come home much stained and slick.
Many of us grew what the coach called “carbuncles” on our backs. I remember them as sort of elephantine pimples. It had to be from the oil of course. I still remember my coach telling me to tape a raw slice of potato over them at night to draw out the bad stuff. It did work just so you know.
The weather of my childhood was sometimes a surprise.The news accompanied the weather and was, minus the forecast, twenty-nine minutes long. If you missed any of it, it would arrive anyway. No one felt ill-equipped to handle what came.The evening news was very serious. It was delivered by somber, just shaven guys who you suspected of bad cologne. They were not going to take any bullshit from the viewing audience. It was what you needed to know. They gave you the facts then pushed you out the door like they had other matters to attend to. It had to be done because the viewing audience were sheep that wandered inconsequentially.No one in my generation grew up with an opinion. We didn’t feel like we lacked one though. Maybe it was because ideas weren’t practical.It followed reasonably that if we did not care to view ourselves as indispensable to the national photograph, why fret about what the neighbors were thinking? Every person in America at that time thought their neighbors were stupid. Now we believe them dangerous.