In passing

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GRANT HART (1961-2017): Lennon McCartney to Bob Mould’s John Paul in Hüsker Dü, the Beatles of SST Records. Grant had incredible command of a potentially wild voice, alternating between a molten bray and the loneliest boy in an abandoned room. He even looked brokenhearted sometimes, rattled in slept-in hair and yesterday’s clothes around a hopeful (if weary) smile. Labelmates the Minutemen gave punk its jazz-garde political fire; Hart and Mould, its volcanic emotion, with Hart on drums bashing its torment awake. A turbulent dynamic fueled a slew o’ albums between 1983 and 1987; although eventually swathed in major-label enhancements, plus an evolved sense of musicianship, their hooks penetrated flesh and their roar drew blood. Grant got the last word on the very last LP, Warehouse: Songs and Stories, a mantra of crashing relationships and fresh-won independence called “You Can Live at Home.” Both he and Mould became prolific solo artists, with varying degrees of success but no diminished sense of urgency and purpose. After all he endured, only illness from within could bring Grant Vernon Hart down. 56, St. Paul, MN.

 

harrydean

HARRY DEAN STANTON (1926-2017): Harry Dean, Main Man, built of life, powered by habit. His continued mobility was an amused defiance of mortality. On an episode of this season’s Twin Peaks, the horizon-centenarian remarked, “I been smokin’ 75 years, every fuckin’ day” and chuckled through breath his vices should have ended in the ’70s. He was a character actor in only that his characters had names, but they entered scenes as Harry Dean Stanton, sucking face with space beasts, piloting a glowing airborne car, outwitting a murderous 1957 Plymouth Fury, sacrificing himself for the greater good, or taking slugs at bar’s end, hangdog gaze reliving movies you missed. A vision I’ve had since I was a kid: the apocalypse hits— Rapture, whatever — last human croaks it. Harry Dean rises to his feet, stuffs his half-combed jungle into a nearby hat, then ambles away, too rare and real to die. 91, Los Angeles, CA.

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Weather Rapport (or, Whichever Way the Wild Wind Blows)

weathergraphic

LIZA: … and that’s how little Penny Lattimer got her DUCKS … in a row.

(Fellow newscasters chuckle over residual quacking.)

DERRYL: Adorable, Liza. Speaking of ducks, I hear we’re getting some wild weather this weekend. Meteorologist Tom Lumbago has the latest in StormProbe Alley. Tom?

TOM: Thanks, Derryl. And yes, while our duck friends may enjoy the ride, especially if they love being torn apart by a vengeful God and plummeting earthward to their own shrieks of terror, we hairless apes might find it problematic. Our latest reports suggest a not-so-scrumptious gumbo of doom from a super-aggro typhoon rerouting its hissy to the Northwest and Northern California sometime Saturday afternoon, because why should Florida have all the fun.

This means potentially high, vicious winds, rain and showers sharp as nails, and scalping gusts from the point of landfall through the valley, followed by soapbox squalls across social media from people who either find predictions of the storm’s severity exaggerated — like, “Hey, MAAAAN, if it’s so NASTY, why haven’t y’all NAMED it yet?” — or who chastise such individuals for their trivialization of disasters in the making. Distracted from their bickering over the election, they’ll come to the online equivalent of blows, inflicting minor damage with copy-paste links and toppled-lawnchair-STORMAGEDDON-WE-WILL-REBUILD memes that stopped being clever nine years ago but generate LOLs anyway.

Some 200 Oregonians are scheduled to record themselves wandering outside on Facebook Live. Sources confirm that 76 will be teenaged boys removing their shirts at various locations and screaming, “WOOOOOOO! WORLDSTARRRRRR!” while their girlfriends roll their eyes and sip from rum-laced Wild Cherry Pepsi Big Gulps. We’ve been told that three are named Tami with two “e”s, but only one is stuck-up about it. At least six videos will go viral, but the only one to appear on “Ellen” will have been produced by a 62-year-old divorcee who set an emotional montage of sepia-toned aftermath photos to Phil Collins’ 1990 hit, “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” complete with lyrics in a light purple Helvetica.

Additionally, there’s a 70 percent chance that my profession will be maligned by viewers who assume meteorology is not a field of study but blind voodoo guesswork, that I’m sensationalizing for viewership to appease the Illuminati and not actually performing a public service, saying, “Hey, things might get funky here, so please be careful.” Meanwhile, they’ll fecklessly post hoax forecasts written by nobodies just because they sound awesome — 700-mph cyclones spitting cow blood and Datsuns!

The furor is expected to subside Sunday morning, when everyone returns to their usual gibberish about the best places in town to Martinize doughnuts, having conveniently forgotten their bile and posturing amidst genuine expressions of concern the day before, once again proving that Mother Nature may be unpredictable, but human nature is not. For KOAN News, I’m Tom Lumbago. Hashtag peaceoutaight.

Sophisticated Whoppers

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Last month my neighborhood Burger King underwent a cosmopolitan rhytidectomy, in accordance with mandates to transform such troughs into elegant gastronomy. McDonald’s has emerged in recent years from an extended postpsychedelic adolescence to embrace the Library of Alexandria aesthetic, while Jack in the Box, under direct orders from draconian CEO “Jack,” has jettisoned its staple blues and reds for a soothing Humidor Autumn. The desired effect, according to corporate literature, is contemplative chi, as opposed to “Holy God, this Applewood Bacon Cheese Fist is wrapping itself around my heart.”

Having never patronized a chic Burger King, I decided this morning to have it my way. On foot I passed the phantom of its children’s playset — the industry no longer caters to plebes. In its place stood a scale replica of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon complete with tanzanite wall, over which flowed a talkative Chianti stream. Occupying its drive-thru lane were sleek fleets of Google cars activated by smartphone apps. Four impeccably attired valets monitored the parking lot, sending any vehicle older than 2008 to a “VIP lane” seven blocks away.

The building’s exterior could best be described as futuristic neoclassical. Its sanctum, inspired by the parlor in Don and Betty Draper’s Ossining home, wallows resplendent in oaks and comfortable beiges. Posted advertisements no longer boast of “flame-broiled” or “flame-grilled” meats; they’re now “artisan-crowdsourced.” Six overhead flatscreens broadcast “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,” with a corner space nearby to discuss the film with the shift manager, a former Harper’s editor-at-large. Wafting through the restaurant: Herb Alpert’s “Fandango,” on 180-gram vinyl.

I immediately recognized my counter garcon’s uniform as Yves St. Laurent. “Yes,” she confirmed. “They outfit us all.” “But what about grease stains?” I asked. “Those,” she said, “are flown in from Vienna.” She then apologized for the store’s wine steward, whose flight was delayed in Milan. “That’s fine,” I replied, and ordered the venison curly fries with a 32-ounce growler to go.

Because of the restaurant’s new decibel regulation, I saw only one other “broseph,” as BK calls us nonemployees: an older gentleman pecking at a laptop while seducing a mimosa. Sans prompt, he told me, “It’s a Dogme-esque novel about a man who’s smarter than everyone else but is too humble to share his rare gift, so he hangs out at Burger King, tormented in self-imposed silence, until a beautiful cashier who recognizes his shyness as intellectual superiority offers him her soul. I liken its tone to a Ferrari 458 speeding recklessly past the intersection of Huxley and Terry Southern, and crashing into an abandoned storefront that once sold steampunk fetish wear.”

Alas, I left before the BK book club convened in the alcove, but I’ll be back for the Appalachian dulcimer jam this evening. If you’re not too busy with the Taco Bell barrel tour, feel free to bro by. Bring your Konghou — and plenty of antacids.

O Adele

 

 

 

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O Adele

Marketplace fatale

Painted empress

Contralto divine

Watchful gaze from Target endcaps

Assorted displays, strategically placed

Exclusive bounties everlasting

Observing commerce

Participating

Surrounding

Dominating

Squired home in plastic

Anticipation

 

O Adele

Rolling Stone

Countenance vexed

Neck, Winsletian

Face scrubbed mortal

Thou speakest in voices two:

One wrings tears from august pearls

Cushions midlife minivan misery

Comforts captives lost between teenage walls

The other brays hearty

In Tottenham strains

The language of dockworkers

And washwomen

Rutting in puddles of porter

Splashed with tobacco

Stained in the blood of sailors

 

O Adele

Butter-lunged siren tart

Crestfallen

Skyfallen

Thine cradled words envelop

An ever-present current

As we shop for poinsettias

Purchase petrol and cigarettes

Scroll numbly through clickbait

Go Macho on the Del Taco No. 4

Splash ourselves in fragrance

Chase smiles in fleeting symphonies

 

O Adele

You sing of love

But does love exist without you?

O Adele

You sing of dreams

But are we not your dream?

Did we ever know 21?

Or feel the depths of 25?

Had we ever said hello

‘Til you acknowledged us in kind?

 

O Adele

Thank goodness you’re here

Our world is in turmoil

Our goodwill shattered

All hope is gone

Lead us

Guide us

Bring us home

 

O Adele

Wait

Your album’s not on Spotify?

Huh

Hm

Well

Fuck you, then.

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The Righteous Brothers: Mysti-Bliss at 2:55

Reportedly, Phil Spector, his hand-picked marksmen, and the two Righteous Brothers hammered through “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” from August to November 1964, and you know who was alive then? Not me.

I tried to coax some context from my parents, lowly adolescents at the time, albeit to no avail. They were woefully unaware in their microcosmic dioramas that Heartbreak History was going down in Los Angeles as summer tripped toward fall, which then slid into blizzards of promenades where they and other agog-orbed everybodies heard this song for the very first time, the paint still fresh and sweet. (I cursed their luck as I begrudgingly twirled partners to the pizza-box whimper of Bon Jovi, whose “I’ll Be There for You” nevertheless crowds my senses with the nectar of Doublemint gum, Aqua Net, and post-clutch expectations.)

My first “Lovin’” rush came through the pocket-comb prism of Hall & Oates, soaped down and hollowed out, a Xerox of a Xerox of pale-faced blue-eyed soul. A few years later it tumbled into the mitts of Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards, et al; their “Top Gun” barroom mayhem inspired scores of off-key parrots shit-deep in cheap beer and Cupid-drunk on cheaper love. Does no one respect the classics?

O’ to’ve been a stealth intruder during Spector’s grandiose construction. To have witnessed the impatient Bobby Hatfield, the Brothers’ honey-toned half, demanding to know what he was supposed to do while partner Bill Medley sopped up all the tape, only to have Spector, that bargain-carpeted pipsqueak custom-fitted over a tyrant scumbag, allegedly riposte, “You can go straight to the fuckin’ bank.”

Phil was sure an asshole, but he was an asshole with ears. His techniques and omniscience were once beyond reproach. After all, the dude had been moving units with alarming ease since he was a 19-year-old nobody leading his Teddy Bears to No. 1 (“To Know Him Is to Love Him,” 1958).

And he was right about “Lovin’” too: Hatfield is strictly support for the first two minutes — a chorus-bolster — then his tenor breaks free at exactly the right moment, when his Brother can no longer carry the burden alone. “Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you,” Medley sighs, weary, lonesome, defeated. Into the breach steps Hatfield with the save: “If you would only love me / like you used to do,” pleaded with every last-ditch pine a pain can articulate. Spector’s Wall of Sound surge falls back to a light pulse and lets the duo do its thing.

The song plays well to both men’s strengths: Bill could testify, Bobby could beg. Who the hell with a heartbeat could resist such a combo of honest regret? When the two then rise in a back-and-forth call/response —“baby” to “baby,” “please” to “please,” trading “I need your loves” and “bring it on backs” — it’s just not fair.

But that’s not even the best part, oh, no. Spector & Co. reserve the goosebump payload for the 2-minute, 55-minute mark, after the voices have spent themselves and left an open gasp for a downpour of strings and a crash of drums, an airborne soul touching terra firma following a hopeful glance that became a yes that became a freeze-frame kiss. The same DNA comprised “Be My Baby,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” and any number of play-’em-agains bearing crescendos that carried crushes through many a suburban daydream. It was a Spector specialty, that heavy, narcotic pain, creating a lovelorn beauty unachievable in life, the musical embodiment of teenaged yearning. If only she could see me. If only she ever knew. If only I could ever express myself, she’d see that it was true.

The Righteous Brothers at 2:55 is that moment: a cocktail of heartache and hope. Bring back that lovin’ feelin’. It still hurts even now, despite the fact that I know it’s coming, as I’ve known since the song and I first became acquainted, back when I pretended sentiment was beneath me. I saw every girl then. I’ve seen every girl since. That tiny sonic hiccup and they’re all fucking there, a cruel parade of vanished futures. And then they’re gone, gone, gone. Dust, glimpses, ghosts.

Songs like this don’t grow old. They age with you, their import intact. You can hear them ’til they’re empty — examine their structures, plumb their mysteries, dismiss their formulas — but when you set them loose, they find you. They hit you where you’ve always lived.

As heard on The Essential Phil Spector (2011)

Other Audiobooks for Samuel L. Jackson to Read

As the motherfucker has proven time and again, Samuel L. Jackson is the finest orator to ever tread the goddamn boards. Drop a monologue in his million-dollar mouth and he’ll ace that shit, smooth that ass with the fires of hell, and make every unforgettable syllable pulverize its intended target.

It’s this quality that made him a natural to read Adam Mansbach’s bonzo-dicked best-seller, Go the F**k to Sleep, now fusing tyke eyes closed and raising curtains on some bad-ass nightmares. You can download that shit for free here, send your own little bitches to slumber-land.

Which begs the question: Why doesn’t Samuel L. Jackson read more audiobooks? According to Audible.com, motherfucker’s tones adorn only Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales and The Bible Experience. Ain’t that some shit? Seems like a money move to bump the sales of flagging titles. Pair him with tomes that flow with his rhythms. Enliven the driest text to transform even the deadliest snooze into an inferno of crackling prose.

Here are but 11 page-turners that need a little goddamn Sam.

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
EXCERPT: “My blood was now fired to the utmost, and nothing could appear more provoked. I told him, for his fair means and his foul, they were equally condemned by me; that for my going to England, I was resolved to it, come what would; and that as to treating him not like a husband and not showing myself a mother to my children, there might be something more in it than he understood at present; but I thought fit to tell him this much: that he neither was my lawful husband nor they lawful children, and that I had reason to regard neither of them more than I did.”

Iceberg Slim, Airtight Willie & Me
EXCERPT: “‘Look, baby, you could be the most adorable bitch there ever was. You could be so motherfucking sweet you shit Chanel Number Five turds. But, wouldn’t no broad or stud young or old flash two hundred grand in stolen penitentiary bread and tip you to the rest of that private scam on no two month foundation. She could be as uptight as a saint in hell for a pal and she wouldn’t tip to you. You gotta be full of shit!'”

Ty Cobb, My Life in Baseball
EXCERPT: “But a fellow by the name of Hub Leonard would aim bullets at your head, left-handed, to boot. Leonard did it once too often. So I dragged a bunt down the chalkline, which the first baseman was forced to field. Leonard sprinted for first to take the throw, and saw that I was after him. He didn’t stop at the bag. Leonard kept right on going, into the coaching box, which looked like safe territory to him. He wouldn’t have been safe that day if he’d scrambled into the bleachers.”

Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves
EXCERPT: “This is why grown men have knock-down fights over the comma in editorial offices: because these two rules of punctuation collide head-on — indeed, where the comma is concerned, they do it all the time. … When Ross and Thurber were threatening each other with ashtrays over the correct way to render the star-spangled banner, they were reflecting a deep dichotomy in punctuation that had been around and niggling people for four hundred years.”

Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
EXCERPT: “What sloochatted then, of course, was that my cellmates woke up and started joining in, tolchocking a bit wild in the near-dark, and the shoom seemed to wake up the whole tier, so that you could slooshy a lot of creeching and banging about with tin mugs on the wall, as though all the plennies in all the cells thought a big break was about to commence, O my brothers.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
EXCERPT: “And long evenings by the fire or, in summertime, on the roof of the little house, when she told him those stories about the Other Place, outside the Reservation: that beautiful, beautiful Other Place, whose memory, as of a heaven, a paradise of goodness and loveliness, he still kept whole and intact, undefiled by contact with the reality of this real London, these actual civilized men and women.”

Charles Mingus, Beneath the Underdog
EXCERPT: “Was this the way a pimp felt, turning out his first girl and finding out he loved her? It couldn’t be. Pimps are usually pretty calm people, cool but lively, full of laughs and jokes and some are even intellectuals. … To be a pimp, one would have to lose all feelings, all sensitivity, all love. One would have to die! Kill himself! Kill all feelings for others in order to live with himself. … Mingus couldn’t be this … a pimp.”

Author Unknown, 2010 1040 Instructions
EXCERPT: “In most cases, you must report crop insurance proceeds in the year you receive them. Federal crop disaster payments are treated as crop insurance proceeds. However, if 2010 was a year of damage, you can elect to include certain proceeds in income for 2011. To make this election, check this box on line 8c and attach a statement to your return.”

Jean Paul-Sartre, Being and Nothingness
EXCERPT:
“Strictly speaking, no fact of consciousness is this consciousness. Even if like Husserl we should quite artificially endow this consciousness with intra-structural pretentions, these would have in them no way of surpassing the consciousness whose structure they are and hence would pitifully pull back on themselves — like flies bumping their noses on the window without being able to clear the glass.”

Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City
EXCERPT: “For the next two days, I loudly insisted that I wanted to sleep with Lita Ford. And I suppose I did. Why wouldn’t I? Lita was the rock chick I had always heard about in other bands’ songs. The fact that I couldn’t play this cassette didn’t matter; in fact, the music might have made me less interested, because most of Lita turned out to be shit. But at the moment of purchase, I had to assume that every song on the LP was going to be as cool as ‘Kiss Me Deadly.'”

Rachael Ray, 30-Minute Get Real Meals: Eat Healthy Without Going to Extremes
EXCERPT: “Honey Mustard Chicken Wings: Unreal! Forget Buffalo wings — not only are these healthier than deep-fried wings and way lower in fat, they simply are the best chicken wings you’ll ever have! They are super, uber-snacks that can be a simple supper, with salad or veggies on the side. The only carbs come from natural juice and honey. … Allow three or four for a full dinner portion per person, though my sweetie and I can eat all twelve if we’re watching a double feature that night!”

Those Damn Kids Today

MODERN YOUTH

There are many accusations leveled at the young people of today. One hears older people referring to the careless, lazy, altogether good for nothing young men of today and to the silly, shallow, excitement seeking young women. They say that modesty and courtesy are absolutely extinct; that the younger generation is extravagant, selfish, and irresponsible; that the object of their dancing is to accomplish the maximum of motion in the minimum of space; that fads are more contagious and dress more erratic than ever before.

Before answering these statements let us consider that generalizing term, “they.” This is an age of standardization in which everything must be condensed and labeled; but the young people of today cannot be standardized, as many older people are attempting to standardize them. It is not fair to any mass of people as large and varied as that characterized as “the younger generation” to judge and condemn it by a few of its number.

If the people who criticize the youth so broadly could see it in the classroom, they would realize that these young people are efficient, that they really observe and think, and above everything else, they are capable to take care of themselves. These boys and girls are looking ahead always; never backwards. They are on their way to character, not made by an immovable groove of traits and habits.

Again, who are the admired ones in the high school? Inevitably the upstanding athlete wearing the school letter, or the boy or girl who has won recognition through the writing of an article or the winning of a contest. The younger generation’s judgments are not all unbalanced.

Bear in mind that these young people are born in full possession and realization of the telephone, radio, motor car, airplane, moving picture, and any number of equally important modern inventions. Where their parents felt reckless driving behind a fast horse at fifteen miles an hour, the modern youth has the automobile and possibility of fifty to seventy-five miles an hour. The cases are essentially alike. These same parents traveled as fast as they could and enjoyed themselves as much as possible when they were young, and there is no question but that their fathers and mothers worried over them as much as do present day fathers and mothers. Today’s younger generation is doing exactly the same thing, the difference being that they have more to do it with. The youth of today is fundamentally fine and true, with an immense power for good that will someday rule the nations of the world as successfully as they have been ruled for the past centuries.

Author unknown
From the Albany (OR) High School Whirlwind, June 1924