Monday, December 31, 2007

Year's Best: In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox by James Hand

The fiddle breaks into the intro. We walk into the eternal honky tonk. James Hand is singing In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox.

In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox
My favorite mourners and I
talk about these old hard knocks
our lives are measured there
by the bars clocks
In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox
So step in side where live has died
and you'll sure find me
with sadness and a haunted face
that's bound to be
Hidden behind the door that sorrow locked
In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox.

Do you know a place like that? Where people start out young honkytonkin and then retreat backwards into the old shadows? James Hand nails this like Poe in his Rounder
record debut.

He's past football playing age, James is. Comes out of Texas and says Willie: "James Hand is the real deal." It is that simple.

Waterfall tradeoffs on pedal steel and guitar. James Hand sings from deep down within. And he is trying as hard as he can to communicate what he feels with you.

What ever and where ever - what I like best is true heartfelt singing, crisp ensemble muscianship, melody, a beat, and a story. James Hand brings that in spades to In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox.

Jake and I saw him at Johnny D's in Somerville in July [he was in town for the Lowell Folk Fest]. And he was real. Like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams. Hey that's high praise, but the groove is that he has synthesized and absorbed this. He is like James Hand. He's my age - he dropped a pick and he just kept looking at it on the floor like it was a bridge too far.
We met him briefly afterward, what a gentleman, just you'd like you'd expect. And his band members were real cool cats. We bought the CD there. He signed it: "Jake, your pal, James Hand." We also bowled that night. And got a parking ticket.

My focus is on singles - good standalone songs, but let me make this clear about James Hand's The Truth Will Set You Free: This is a great album. Includes gems: Here Lies a Good Old Boy, Leave the Lonely Alone, If I live Long Enough to Heal, Just an Old Man, Shadows where the Magic Was, The Truth Will Set you Free, When You Stopped Loving Me so Did I. Hand is a terrific song writer.

The hair on you neck will crawl, boys and girls. Get the real deal! - Jack Vaughan

* * *

* * *
Hi everyone! 2007 was full of massive pitfalls, exceeding ennui, great Boston sport moments, and strange terror incubations. And great music! My numero choice: James Hand
with the eternal honky tonk epic: In the Corner [At the Table] [By the Jukebox]. The song actually came out in 2006. But I have to praise it as my song of the year. What follows is a list of some notable numbers - for me anyway - that I did not have the time to write up. And a hopefully cool snippet that sends you to iTunes where 12 of my
fave raves can be downloaded at a price. Keep Steve Jobs in pomegranites for another year. Give the gift of digital music.
If you came to this specific page, you can click
on the 'list-of-jacks-best' link and access all at once the full 2007 roll call thanks to the magic of tags. And there also follows links to previous top pick pages.

99 and 1/2 - Mavis Staples
Archilochus Rock & Roll Wail Out - Ed Sanders
Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered - Andre Previn
Billy 1 - Los Lobos
Block Ice & Propane - Erik Friedlander
Brown Liquor - John Anderson
Checking on my baby - Micky Jaeger
Crying time - Dwight Yokam
Dance around tonight - Paul McCartney
False Hearted Lover Blues - Levon Helm
Forget to remember- John Prince and Mac Wiseman
Four in one - Hank Jones and Joe Lovano
I Found a Love* - Ryan Shaw
I’m just passing through - Porter Wagoner
I'll Change My Style - Omar Kent Dykes and Jimmie Vaughan
I'm Going to Live the Life I sing About in My Song - Preacher Jack
In the Corner at the Table by the Jukebox - James Hand [grandfathered from 2006]
Irenen-Polka, Polka fran├žaise, Op. 113 - Wiener Philharmoniker & Zubin Mehta
Just a Bad Boy - Bob Stroger [grandfathered from 2006]
Look me up on your way down - Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson
My heart is beating - Mary Weiss
Rome wasn’t built in a day - Nick Lowe
Scotch and Water - Born to Swing Jazz Orchestra
Town to Town - Charlie Musselwhite [grandfathered from 2006]
You dont know what love is - The White Stripes

*Truly extraordinary. Just didnt get to write it up yet.

Noted Reissues:
Urubamba - Urubamba
I'm the Urban Spaceman - Bonzo Dog Band
Chester and Lester - Chet Atkins and Les Paul
Moby Grape 69 - Moby Grape
Ultimate Cash Gospel - Johnny Cash
Bach: The Gold berg Variations - Glenn Gould


[Jan 1 - Subsequently got the widget doo-dad, an embedded bit of iTunes to work on the January 1 Moon Traveller Herald Post. Go here to get to that really super cool thing.

Note: See, this has been a bit of work. Just wanted to let you know this is the last regular yearly musical review. It's been fun, especially this year, as iTunes became a
great purveyor of singles [like old Woolworth's or Soulville, before that damn Sgt Pepper thing made everyone think they could do LPs.] But I have to parse my time to
maximum effect cause I am a modern guy! Hello, Mr Clark!

It's a new age - Top of the world, ma! - Jack Vaughan

Secret Museum of Cybernetics Revisited

Everyonce and a while I pull something over from a former blog. Here is such an occassion..bunch of notes on Cyber.

Wiener - The efforts of Norbert Wiener’s biographers always will be shadowed by I Am a Mathematician. This, his own biography, is likely to overwhelm other attempts to write his story - He was able as a writer, engaging personally, and he ably perceived threads of significance as he viewed his own life.

A fair helping of subdued vanity aside, the threading never seems overstressed. This is important because, on the face of it, Wiener’s work, which ranged from estimations of Brownian motion to artillery shell trajectories and beyond may appear disparate, even topsy-turvy, in the light of history.

Wiener’s life was both blessed and vexed by the fact of his prodigiousness, which he handled in greater depth in another autobiographical installment. As much as he finally was to become the iconic image of the absent minded professor, he had a grounding in real life. That, he somewhat credited to growing up for a time in Fitchburg Mass where the kids treated him as different but still a kid. As the years went passing by his was a delicate dance of pure science and [mostly mathematical] thought partnered with an engineer’s, and sometimes, a medical doctor’s quest.

Ending up at MIT rather than Harvard might have been a cause or effect of this quest. His work on harmonic analysis fed readily into work on electronic valve implementations of Fourier transforms, and [thence] to the study of harmonics.

He discusses early interest and work in Harmonic Analysis and the Fourier Transform; and sees similarity of thread in these. Discusses his important work on Brownian Motion and his later work in feedback estimation and cybernetics.


WIENER. more - Norbert Wiener was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 26, 1894, and died on a lecture swing of Sweden and Norway in Stockholm on March 18, 2004, after having fathered the field of cybernetics, which seeks to study the nature of control in animals and machines.

Cybernetics, 40 years after Wiener’s death, is not so much a science or even segment of science – although the issues considered in cybernetic man-machine interaction are still at the heart of most considerations in science fiction and many other types of fictions.

Of course, the 1990s term cyberspace [and more recent siblings such as cybersecurity] derives from cybernetics. So Wiener’s influence in the public arena continues in a fashion.

The mature Norbert Wiener with a pince-nez and coke-bottle eye-glasses looked the very emblem of the European intellectual. [Stories of absent mindedness, too, are offered. ] But he was a son of the Midwest and New England. His father moved from Missouri to Massachusetts in 1895 and eventually became a teacher at Harvard. His son was prodigious. He was to finish high school at 11, and receive a Harvard PhD at 17.

Wiener the younger wolfed-down literature and was interested especially in natural scientism, although he admits in one of his biographical writings, ‘Ex-Prodigy,’ that he was as much occupied in the ‘diagrams of complicated structures...’ as in the adventure of naturalism. Turn-of-the-Century Norbert’s interests straddled the philosophical and the mathematical in way that is hard to imagine today.

Awkward – not physically dexterous among sportsman schoolmates, he was. In his own terms he was a combination of ‘mental quickness and physical slowness.’ In a way, this sets the scene for future studies of human and machine control systems.

Primary influences on young W. were philosophers Spinoza and Leibniz Spinoza for his somewhat mathematical approach to religion, and Leibniz for being a universal [the last universal thinker – the last individual to hold the existent world of knowledge in his own head.]

After Harvard Wiener took a travelling fellowship and met with Bertrand Russell, where he met up with Einstein’s works, and just basically became imbued in the heady [not Lamar] environment around Russell. Russell built upon Boole, to forge a link between mathematics and philosophy [logic] that became the foundation work for modern computing.

Wiener never lost a fond attachment to Harvard, Mass., and its surroundings, where his father had a farm, and where Norbert grew up. He like the fact that he could return there, and be himself, an eccentric genius, but a part of the order of things there. As his career continued at M.I.T. , he seemed to mix both theory and practice, and not too stray too far from one or the other. His basic practicality, neither conservative nor liberal, is seen in his critical comments on Russell’s personal preenings [libertinisms] .

He differed from Russell, in another, more pointed, way. He was far from a Pacifist, and Russell was one of the most famous pacifists of all time. When he returned to the U.S. prior to the country’s entry into World War I, he repeatedly tried to join the army – but indexterity, poor vision, and bad marksmanship mitigated against his initial conscription. Early after his return he worked at the GE Factory in Lynn, Mass. [echoes of Ernie Lillyia], and then in Albany, N.Y. at the Encyclopedia Americana [echoes of Jorge Borges!]. In 1918, math friend Veblen hired him as ‘computor’ at the U.S. Army Proving Grounds at Aberdeen, Maryland.

There he worked on range tables, which would ultimately lead, in World War II, when aircraft became the [moving] target, to his vision of cybernetics.

Wiener wrote autobiographically at some length. The notes here come upon reading “Norbert Wiener” by Pesi R. Masani.
LAMAR - Breakthroughs in the mathematics of information encoding are not too frequent. Lately – meaning over the last ten years – turbo code schemes have gained attention. As described in the current issue of IEEE Spectrum, Frenchmen Claude Berrou and Alain Glavieux have described an iterative approach that would seem to provide error free communication at data rates with incredible transmitting-power efficiencies.

Think of it as another step forward in the alchemists’ quest for unquenchable fire. Maxwell’s demon machine that scoffs at physics.

The inventor of modern communication theory, Claude Shannon, had shown in 1948 that the entirety of a communication channel could be used, if the error correction codes were up to snuff. As time transpired, this has remained true in theory but not in practice. The French coders’ turbo means promise to close this gap, and improve computer and cell phone technology, the latter of which seems to have maxed out and turned into as much of a nuisance as a savior in consumer hands.

Ah but what of the most likely unlikely encoder, Hedy Lamar? She - in the buff - of the breakthrough ‘30s art film Extase? Together with avant-garde composer George Antheil Hedy, remarkably, conceived a secure encoding scheme in wartime Hollywood. The method’s purpose was to foil radio jamming, and to enable radio-directed torpedoes [not too different conceptually from Smart laser-guided bombs of today]. Femme fatal Hedy had it in for the bloody Nazis. But, because she and Antheil fashioned a mechanical method - based on the then-familiar concept of piano rolls - or, because they were Hollywood artistes, their idea did not get much of a hearing at the time.


SHANNON - We live in an age highly influenced by information technology. For many people, it has become the basis for a life's work. For a few, at least, it has meant great fortunes.
Most of the great technologists who set the stage for this era -- for example, Norbert Weiner, Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, and John von Neumann -- are long dead. But Claude Shannon, the great theorist who formed the most basic tenets of the information age, survived until last weekend. He died at 84 last Saturday in Medford, Mass., after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease.

Shannon's work, like his passing, may not be widely noted among many who have followed him in the information, technology, and e-commerce industries. But there is little question that he is the chief progenitor of information theory and modern digital communications. Shannon's mathematical thinking and writing laid the groundwork for most of today's information technology industry. He is the man who discovered 1's and 0's in electronic communication.
Shannon was born in Petoskey, Mich., and grew up in Gaylord, Mich. He worked as a messenger for Western Union while in Gaylord High School, and attended college at MIT, where he was a member of Tau Beta Pi.

Although the algebra of digital binary bits was first uncovered by mathematician George Boole in the mid-19th century, it was Shannon who saw the value of applying that form of logic to electronic communications. As a student of Vannevar Bush's at MIT in the 1930s, he worked on the differential analyzer, perhaps the greatest mechanical (analog) calculator. His paper, "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits," which led to a long association with Bell Laboratories, laid out Shannon's theories on the relationship of symbolic logic and relay circuits.
While at Bell Labs, Shannon wrote the landmark "The Mathematical Theory of Communication." The information content of a message, he theorized, consists simply of the number of 1's and 0's it takes to transmit it. In a real sense, Shannon conceived of the "bit" that is now so widely used to represent data.

Later, he became a professor at MIT. His students included Marvin Minsky and others who became notable in the field of artificial intelligence. While Shannon's thinking could captivate academicians, it was equally appealing to practical engineers.

Shannon's work led to many inventions used by both technology developers and end users. His theories can truly be described as pervasive today.

When I was young, Shannon's work was a tough nut to crack, but it certainly was intriguing. As a high school boy, I was interested in the future -- maybe more so than now, when I live and breathe and work in what that future became. Grappling with Shannon's basic information theories was part of my education about the future.

Growing up in a Wisconsin city across the lake from Shannon's birthplace, I tried to plow through the town library as best I could. I wanted to learn about computers, automation, and the combination of the two that was known in those days (the 1960s) as cybermation. I discovered for myself -- by chance, really -- that the fundamental elements of those ideas were Shannon's inventions.

For the better part of Shannon's life, analog communication ruled. Of course, his greatest achievement was visualizing digital communication. Much of his greatest work revolved around defining information in relation to "noise," the latter phenomenon being quite familiar to anyone who often tried desperately to home in on radio signals before digital communication filters came into being. I came to appreciate that aspect of Shannon's work later on when, as a journalist, I had the opportunity to learn and write about digital signal processing.
Then I found out that Shannon had laid the groundwork for modern error correction coding, an essential element of things like hard disk drive design and digital audio streaming, and probably many things yet to come.

Day and night, data, messages, music, and more swirls around us -- all made possible to some extent by the idea of communicating electronically in 1's and 0's. It is something to think that a Western Union messenger could have conceived of this new world.
The Saga of Cybernetics – Some Young Guy

On reading Cybernetics, by John F. Young, published by American Elsevier Pub, 1966, New York, N.Y., Sci Q 310 Y66.

John F. Young writes in the late ‘60s. The author’s background is as a lecturer in electronics –at the University of Aston, Birmingham. But he is especially concerned with cybernetics as a bridge from electronics to neurophysiology, which later came to be known better maybe as neurobiology. Elements that are part of cybernetics for Young include machines of various kinds - game playing machines, which in chess and the like were one of the more entertaining aspects of early computers, included. Also studied by Young, but now less aspects of cybernetics [What’s that?] and more aspects of other enterprises were: Artificial nerve cell; visual pattern recognition; and speech recognition.

[p. 46] He gives a history or prehistory if you will mid-book on cybernetics. He worries that cybernetics will become regarded as an up-to-date form of Black Magic. In fact, that kind of happened as he forewarned. He posits first Descartes [who thought upon animal autonomics] as the father of cybernetics, and then, second, Wiener. The dream of an efficient machine, an engineer’s dream, is the dream here. Machine as discovered in the age of industrialism as [potentially] efficient engine, he notes, interested Wiener. NO CONSIDERATION HERE WOULD BE COMPLETE WITHOUT A LOOK AT FREDRICK TAYLOR.]

Later, as efficiency was sought for “machines capable of processing information rather than power,” the nature of the study changed. This set up things for Shannon among others. Radio and valves, and amplification are considered. The signals that are the input and output of the machine are the point. Noise and content within noise are the point. Returning output signal to input form of feedback or regeneration is discussed. FOR MY PART I SHOULD GET A SENSE OF HOWARD ARMSTRONG IN THIS>

The thermostat is given in the foreword as a case of the cybernetic machine. As is the automatic pilot. “Blueness” that I relate to “Blues” is discussed as something machines have problems with. [p. 129~].


Spam in a can, man – or the acme of cybernetics
When pretending to be pilots in the Rambler or Pontiac as kids, and enacting Flash Gordon style heroic epics, the plot could always move along faster on at least one level if we would ‘set the controls on autopilot.’ We could riff on a higher philosophical plain, before one of us would take the wheel again and buffet through the asteroids.

The autopilot predates and still stands perhaps as the acme of cybernetics. In reviewing some sparse notes I gather that it came to be in WWII, the result of work by Sperry on gyroscopes, and Honeywell , extensions of its control system work on thermostats.

The autopilot was pretty well established by the time Nasa came into being and started to pursue manned space travel. But this cybernetic demon becomes a nemesis in the hands of Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, one of the best ever epics on technology. Nasa’s program was juxtaposed versus the X-15 program; true pilots were juxtaposed versus Nasa human guinea pigs. The later in Wolfe’s phraseology became ‘spam in a can.’

The X-15 argument was that autopilots could be taken to an extreme – when chimps could be pilots, or pilots had no more to do than be probed as chimps, true flying was dead. As we look out in fighter pilot technology, the general feeling is that this next-gen of planes will be the last directly piloted by humans. [This week, Nek Muhammad, one of Pakistan’s most-wanted militants, was either gunned down by a drone, or setup by a drone to be gunned down by a missile.]

From Wolfe’s The Right Stuff:
He notes that as Project mercury was a scientific enterprise, scientists and engineers outranked the heroic test subjects. He paints the picture of cybernetics as adversary.
''Engineers were ... devising systems for guiding rockets into space, through the use of computers built into the engines and connected to accelerometers for monitoring the temperature, pressure, oxygen supply, and other vital conditions of the Mercury capsule and for triggering safety procedures automatically -- meaning they were creating with computers, systems in which machines could communicate with one another, make decisions, take action, all with tremendous speed and accuracy ...
Oh, genius engineers!''

The engineer in Wolfe’s depiction can be as manfully robust as the astronaut, kicking back some Virginia A.B.C. store bourbon and ‘letting his ego out for a little romp, like a growling red dog.” – P.150 Bantam Books Edition

My CyberarchiveThe Apollo Guidance Computer site At MIT
NASA Office of Logic Desgn - scientific study of the problems of digital engineering for space flight systems,with a view to their practical solution. 25-years ago
Between Human and Machine - Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics (Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology) by David A. Mindell
Cybernetics timeline - The Americn Society of Cybernetcs

Friday, December 28, 2007

Year’s Best: Checking up on My Baby by Mick Jaegger

Maybe you can point to Link Wray or someone else. But there is a certain fuzz bass sound that I associate with Chicago, especially a period of Muddy Waters’. It was a raunchy discovery of electronic music, and it was taken from the Chess labs and leveraged by – made them, really - the Rolling Stones in the Triad of Last Time, Satisfaction and Get Off my Cloud.

So it is weird but it is this type of sound that animates this year’s Checking on My Baby by Mick Jaegger. It’s on a greatest collection, and I believe, just laid in the vaults for a dozen years. – but it is great stuff, and makes you wonder what could have been if the Rolling Stones had missed the stadium and arena era and remained a bar band.

Mick pays homage to the original Sonny Boy on this. I think he did this with some L.A. blues band in the ‘90s – hell if I know. Perfect slurs and careful misdiction and stutters. It is out there! I hope he didn’t bust a button on his trousers during the making of this small epic.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kenosha Kitchen Band Christmas [First Hack]

Sad to report that Jeanne of Jeanne's Greens, our long-time flower person, passed over this year past. Her store was a small cavern shop of wonders. She was a rainbow. Here above is her Christmas design from circa 1997 which graced the depared at Christmas.

Best Christmas and New Year to all. It is a time of year we walk in darkness, and I time of year to, like Isiah, see a great light. There follows a poem [Kenosha Kitchen Band Christmas [First Hack]] this memory that came back to me of a Christmas party with all handicapped kids many moons ago.

Weight of a million years
and there is a hole in what I called time
Voidoid climbed into my life
when I was just being there burdened and blind.

Grabbed me by the throat
and took the air out, man
It was
all the Lutheran mothers
in the Kenosha kitchen band.

Took the stage again in the glare
at the bell school
the Special Ed place before they called it that
when the Edsel was a flop
and the hit was a power windowed Cadillac

When the handicapped
hadda find their own way
when they wouldnt let them in school
so parents banded bucks together
and then it was Christmas jumping
and the kitchen band
I recall all stood in a great light
And we were
In the dark
Our boots in the cloakroom
in snow puddles.

They took their forks and their knives
in their housewife hands
to play the Spike Jones music
silver bells
egg beaters pots and pans
Gene Autrey’s Rudolph Red
piezoelectric flour sifters cacophoning
at the Special Ed Chritsmas
The snowy long-ago eve.


In the audience of special clamor
a hundred special needs kids
most in good ruckus yknow
Georgie with palsy with cross eyes he stared
Taking the music in
A little gentlemen
but he'd help katie get her coat off there
the lights were on .. and the clatter was great
poor penny
on the coil not long
wiggles twists turns to see

And me like Georgie taking it in
Holding it a long time til
It tastes of drowning tears
the mothers clatter and hum
in my camera eye mind
at the Special ed party in a lobe
in an alternate Charlie brown universe
just seven days
before Christmas
watching the ceil while snow is falling

Kitchen band clangorous carrying abundant joy
great jubilee in this nebula life akimbo.
Crying time, buck, but
if I am going to cry
I will go home and cry
in what I call my good past time.
-Jack Vaughan, Dec. 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Year’s Best: My Heart is Beating by Mary Weiss

Mary Weiss. Name don’t ring a bell? How about: The Shangri-las? Okay now I got your attention. Bad birls, chewing gum – a girl group, but with the long-straight hair look. Not bouffants. Maybe black leather. And not New Jersy. No, Staten Island. Dark eyed girl children of the damned that paved the way for…oh.. I don’t know…let’s say The New York Dolls. Mary Weiss was the singer.

And she has come back. Little Steven [of Little Steven’s Underground Garage] hipped me to this one. Enter a pool parlor of youth. Racing nights. Figuring out the rules of love. Wondering about Juanita and saying why not.

The record plays. My Heart is Beating. Big chords and castanets. Brill Street beckons. But this is now and that was then!

When you held me close
That’s when I knew
Chilled me though and through
I couldn’t let you go
I couldn’t let it show

Got a buzz guitar. A doo-wap chorus bit sound. Her voice has the same plaintive tone. Her teen self sings through the filter of adult pain.

And this whole world’s unfair
I know it’s true
What can I do?

It could be the Shangri-las. The important thing is this sound has not aged a bit. It’s a hit in my blue heaven in 2007. This is garage music.

…My heart is beating, beating ….
I know you've been cheating

But if I take you back ….
You have to walk a straight and narrow path...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Window on Don

Had occasion writing about Zappa and was trying to visualize the young Capt. Beefhart. Remember the lyrics sheet on Trout Mask Replica? With Don young in school portrait looking like Jerry Mathhers? That’s the guy! Took a look at that and realized again what a blues surrealist he was – cause I read through some of those lyrics here’s a sample from She’s Too Much for My Mirror.

Ole Chicago she’s uh woman thata
Make uh young man uh bum
She howls like the wind
Make m’ heart grow cold
Make me long for that little red fum!

She make things fly ‘n she makes things roll
She got me way over here ‘n I’m hugry and cold
I remember m’ mother told be I oughta be choosey
That was way back when I thought she was m’ friend
Now I find out she’s uh floosey

- Portion of She’s Too Much For My Mirror by Don Van Vliet.

The Conductor reads the Mothers Prayer

Read along...Take care of your servantyour floor cleaning servant,lordthe world is grinding -grinding me downpolishing your childsand on the shoreI cry and no one hearsI always was I always amnewin town andnobody knows meand nobody caresI am being ground downcleaningthe baptist linoleumthe ritz linenthe old pasadena ceramic tuba young washer woman, your servant,listening, and prayingwatch overprotectmy babes.

Or Read the poem at its text page home.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Shroud of Zappa

Zappa the boy grows up out in the Los Angeles dessert. His buddy is Don Van Vliet . They dream while they are driving the in Don’s father’s bread truck - the one welcomed by the housewives on the dusty bakery road. This is a truck which Don will drive for a while. Zappa is a lonely boy. They are buds and they dream on. Incessantly play R&B. Dwell on things. Imagine a homemade movie, Capt. Beefhart and the Clay People.
Zappa is a lonely boy whose father works in the electronics world. The aeronautics world. The Lockheed-Martin-American part of it that world that is at cold war. Move 95, 100, 145 miles at a clip three or four times while zappa is growing. From San Diego to Lancaster, back, and beyond. Like American Graffiti, but more dusty.Zappa is growing so Zappa gets the growing lonely boy in the L.A. dessert blues. And he doesn’t go out for sports. Instead he is about Savoy 78s. The cutting guitar of Johnny Guitar Watson. But most especially Pachuco Doo-Wop.
He dug this culture. That and satire of the overriding culture, the sports culture, the one with cheerleaders and booming quarterbacks. That will be the fodder for his great shticks. Even in the dessert there was some radio. Even TV.So he dug Radio Stan Freiberg too. Okay the signal said. You can filter this and survive. Yet, he was in the marching band. Until he was seen smoking in the band uniform under the football stands. Yet the high school music teacher had the students try and play his scores. Cause he’d found Varese the classic Euro who wrote down the strange sound. And he saw Stockhausen on Steve Allen.. He read about this weird fancypants music in Life, maybe he read it at the dentists’.
Whatever, with a bass in the Chicano rocknroll camp, smart Pisano but inept drummer that he was, it was all the misogyny he needed. Wrote post cards to Varese.Made long-distance phone calls to Varese. But the satire and the high-culture had not come together with the blues and doo-wop yet when the satire melded with the doo-wop on Memories of El Monte.What was El Monte? It was first of all blessed by Earth Angel Gods The Penguins who with some original member gone winged into his sphere. This number is like Those Oldies But Goodies that Remind me of you. It predates The Mothers of Invention.
But for-shadows it to…remember, remember the dance, I held you so tight?
El Monte was where the pachuko doo wap champions would dances hold .. zappa's small opera its also like those weird mixes where one group after another is thread together with songs attached, to say, a Martian invasion .. this is what they did on radio in those his rev its tony allen .. marvin and Johnny .. The Penguins.. and so on… they would imitated be… .. it was Frank’s first real record.. The Penguins winged into his sphere and did so with gusto - didnt mind comping on the medium, which they helped create. the snake eatin itself to zappa's tune.
The popcorn was littering the movie theatre floor and Phi Zappa Krappa
Frank was like Fellini of the valley.
So Go Cry On SomebodyElse's Shoulder. It was what it was. This all came to frutition for me later. When I walked darkly into Soulville on Main Street and I picked up Freak Out!Note: This is art. Not all of this happened as in details depicted here. Some of the people were protected. Some of them were innocent.

Big Nod to Barry Miles.

Year’s Best: 99 and ½ by Mavis Staples

“It feels like 1960.” That’s not me talking, that is Mavis Staples on her 2007 record, “We’ll Never Turn Back.” She’s running. She’s trying to make 100 – percent, you know: complete and total inspiration – religious, that and more - in the middle of any day. Not a portion. Not an almost full portion. It is a full monte portion of God stamping on the serpent’s throat. This is a startling voice, one that found you when you were addling moronically through the supermarket. The voice is Mavis and it describes a God that wilo smite and smote and that’s what He wrote down a God that is about justice now. God’s characteristics.. such as Freedom God, conceptually mirror the Freedom movement. It’s also about Gospel crossing over to Soul. With a little Japanese guitar, and a marching male and female chorus . . this is a hit! First heard the mix from Wilson Picket, but of course it has roots in the Highway Travellers [friend of the Moon Travellers] and this is a new take, a new song, the song is ‘99 and 1/2.’ The Staple Singers had the most beautiul blues. A gospel blues, really. The blue note was their forte. They did it in harmony. Pops found some real unique keys, and had a tremelo thing on top. When Mavis addresses notes it is from such subtle angles. And not just one or two here and there. The whole magilla. And still boppin!

99 and 1/2 on Amazon [MP3] 99 cents
99 1/2 video on YouTube

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Grandmothers Prayer

Take care of your servant
your floor cleaning servant,

the world is grinding -
grinding me down
polishing your child
sand on the shore

I cry and no one hears
I always was I always am
in town and
nobody knows me
and nobody cares

I am being ground down
the baptist linoleum
the ritz linen
the old pasadena ceramic tub

a young washer woman, your servant,
listening, and praying
watch over
my babes.

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