Monday, April 27, 2009

Roll Cadillac Roll, For Leonard

Leonard Cohen is out of the stupa, out and about again. Thought about seeing him yknow. BUt the freight was heavy and it wasnt in the cards. So there I was. Yknow. And I saw a DVD at the Video Underground in Jamaica Plain.


This DVD was a serious dissappointment. If I had time to rag on it I would. But suffice it to say that I liked Leonard's brief intermediary commentary. And I liked his one number [The Tower of Song] he did at the closing with U2. So go to try and buy it as an iTune. Nope, buddy, no luck, got to buy the whole soundtrack album to get that one. And why not? The parade of muscians in the movie proper are a bunch of turds that. taken together, do not make one shit.

I shook hands I suppose with Leonard Cohen once..it was the Mercer Center in NYC, on an intermidable intermission waiting for the New York Dolls to wake up or hop up and go on finally. "I really like your music," I said. He was polite.

Ok. So I am listening to the old birdon the wire's records again, yknow. Cause I cant go and see him. Thinking too about stealing.

We cant estimate the talent it takes to steal a song honestly. As the music of the 60s has been played over and over I think I have seen a lot of instances where really good songs came from a stolen premise. For example, it's said Dylan deliberately redid Norwegian Wood whe he did 4th Time Around. There is evidence that the Beatles created GoodDay Sunshine as they were trying to figure out the chords to the Lovin Spoonful's Daydream. Most thefts are blatant and less than the original.

I don't expect to surpass Leonard but the number clickable here Roll Cadillac Roll, For Leonard, is an homage with best intentions. The first words came to me in church on the 1st Sunday after Easter when Thomas doubts. I was in a little park square when I saw the bird [mentioned], and was in fact, shortly thereafter on the phone to Jeff DeMark [who was honing his homage to Rock LaPatina.] So here it us .. a bit biblical..if I have hit luck. Anyhoo, it's outthere now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Charles Simic on Blues Poetry

Recently looking at some writing by Charles Simic on the poetry of the blues.

Simic is a very lyrical, imagistic and accomplished poet, who also writes criticism. His steady stream of work has always impressed me, especially the reimaging work on the life of artist Joseph Cornell that he produced in 1992 [“Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell [NYR Book].

The pieces recently read were selections from Simic’s “The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays And Memoirs” [U of Mich Press, 1994]. As Blues Poetry has at times been focused on my blog, I thought I’d riff a bit on it.

The blues belongs to a specific time, place and people but it in turn transcends those limits, writes Simic. He continues: “The secret of its transcendence lies in its minor key and its poetry of solitude.” And yes, it was that odd key that first captured my imagination, I’d agree. It conjured up a world that could address one’s most elemental feeling – loneliness, let’s say. “Lyric poetry has no closer relation anywhere than the blues,” Simic writes in the essay “No Cure for the Blues.”

He then recalls listening to a blues record in a fleabag Greenwhich Village hotel on a cheap portable record player in the ‘50s, and how a neighborhood heard the plaint and asked to sit down and join him and listen. The music has made blues evangelists of some of us, because, yes, we have seen its effect on others.

Radio too, was a stairway to the music of the blues. It was a view into an “unknown America.” We each fill in the blanks for ourselves, the ones that, filled, draw a new picture of this part of the world.

“.. it was the radio that brought me surprises and delight…playing with the dial, I’d come across an unknown voice, a cornet, and a piano that would make me turn up the volume in my excitement.”

Then, always knowing, the song would end; “.. the blues, in the end, is about a sadness older than the world,” he writes, and I think of Matthew Arnold.

Simic book
The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays And Memoirs - amazon.com

Blues poetry pages

On John Sinclair - moontravellerherald 1
On Alan Wilson - moontravellerherald 1
BLUES POETRY MANIFESTO - moontravellerherald 1
Buy the Sunnyland Blues -Ad

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hail Dark Hero Norbert

Norbert Weiner [1894? -1964?] is definitely the father of cybernetics – and an influential thinker on the phenomenon of feedback. He was a brilliant mathematician, and, just like a movie math genius in his day and others, he was a little batty. A diminutive Belmont, Mass. Jew with a prince nez, Harvard grad and M.I.T. prof - he was absent of social artifice - as he would creatively and readily follow lines of thought and forgo the important social and practical niceties – unlike thus in manner to a lot of his competetive colleagues during the defining experience of World War II.

Now, cybernetics - the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems - never became much of a science unto itself, except, for a while, in the Soviet Union. Some of its interests informed AI which never became much of a science either. But regulatory system study continues, and people continue to find out things, and they generally should thank Weiner for in some way setting the stage.


My take on reading Dark Hero of the Information Age, a biography of Weiner, is that Weiner could best be considered as a theorist although one who was most interested in practical applications. He worked with engineers, but he wasn’t really of them.


Together with Bigelow in 1942 he worked to build a statistical predictor, or anti-aircraft firing system. Out of such efforts much significant technology arose. But my reading of Dark Hero leads me to conclude Weiner’s efforts were influential but not effectual. His predictor did not improve much on a Bell Labs predictor, although it may have been more elegant and forward looking in design in aspects. Still for me he is crucial.


Dark Hero of the Information Age – Amazon.com

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