Sunday, September 20, 2015

My friend Gordon Boraks, 72

Gordon Boraks and Jake Vaughan on Skylark sailing Hull Gut ca. 2004.
I met Gordon through Danny Weldon, and I remember Gordon was kind of quiet – looking at me from various angles. He'd size you up but he was ready to like you. And he could talk, I discovered. And he could hammer nails, blow sax, sail the Hull Gut. And he told me jokes that I still carry (1- the Jewish fellow who goes to confession in Catholic Church and 2-the Jewish fellow who takes up a Catholic Church's offer to convert for $200 cash today only - a theme developing, no?).

When Danny was sick, Gordon was so there. He organized the Weldone Weldon Ball at the Post, and he'd always visit him – just a great example of a true friend.

He was my friend and we would talk about music.  Monk and Miles, Sonny Rollins, Sam Butera and his mentor Junior Cook. He told me he heard Monk talk at Lenny's on the Turnpike. What did he say? Something to the bartender: "Whiskey. Straight. No chaser." He told me he went on the road early on in his life to play in circuses. Behind dancing girls. Wow! Gordon told me he played Night Train so many times that he could have the World record in the Guinness book. Ba-dum. 

Baaaaa-da/ Ba-da-da-da-da-da-da- dah. Night Train! Night Train!

Great days were when I was able to be talking with him, even about way back. He told me of heading on the road with Jeannie – I guess my details are shaky but the picture is clear. I am afraid to ask exactly how quite young she was. Driving cross country – now it could have been a Volkswagon, along time ago, I don’t know, but here is what I picture: The two Somerville teens in a White convertible Olds that's a block long, and they get to San Francisco and the see Miles Davis immediately at the Blackhawk.  This is a historic couple.  Its been so wonderful. 

And obviously Gordon balanced the jazz with putting the food on the table. Raising a family in Mission Hill. And he took pride in carpentry, in his union, he was level on the level. His enthusiasm was something that yougot -  too. It became a part of you.

A good neighbor. He helped me to hang a door, to insert a window sill. I cant remember all. We watched Kentucky Derbies, SuperBowls. We saw Elvin Jones, Steve Lacy. We watched prize fights. He and Danny were magnificent sports, even when the Tyson-Spinks fight lasted all of 91 seconds for $33 a piece.  It was great later to see him take to the sea with so much gusto – to learn the right way to sail, to share it, and to become  captain of Skylark. To take us sailing … to just enjoy the days. I feel he became a part of me. And that he is playing in the band in the big beyond. 

Have you anything to say to me?
Won't you tell me where my love can be?
Is there a meadow in the mist
Where someone's waiting to be kissed?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

La Monte Young, and The Second Dream of the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer

La Monte Young came to New York by way of Los Angeles where he played with Wayne Marsh and Ornette Coleman, and by way of the plains of Idaho where he was born. He was influenced by Gregorian chant, Asian Indian classical music and gamelan- hearty drone lineage, all - and, to hear tell, by the hum of power generators and transformer on utility poles. "It's the drone of the city," he said – and he heard it, and he followed it by way of L.A. to New York.

 He was totally dedicated to experimental art that still puts him outside the mainstream. He formed a group, Dream Syndicate, that included future Velvet Underground members John Cale and Angus MacLeis (and Billy Name). For Cale undoubtedly the experience was formative. The long sustained sound that Young favored was intrinsic to the Velvet Undergrounds re-interpretation of basic rocknroll. Something like SunRa,

Young formed a "Dream House" music collective that played a lot of monotonous music for many years, generally and deliberately eschewing recording. The circle of kindred artist spirits included Yoko Ono, performance artist. His compositions incldue The Second Dream of the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer. A recent New York Times article outlines his reformation of the Dream House for an extended run in Chelsea. La Monte Young opens a  new version of Dream House of visceral 'continuous sine wave tones.'

Dream House became a living expression of Mr. Young’s ideas about the importance of experiencing certain kinds of mathematically composed sounds over long periods, a path followed with what Ms. Ono described as a “brand of purity” unmatched by any artist she had known. “He edited his life into this,” she said.

His approach has to do with finding absolutes and realities. By way of explanation, he concluded the thought with a fable about a Westerner who traveled to the East and came across an Indian man sitting on the side of the road singing what sounded like a single note. The traveler asked the man why he didn’t sing other notes.

“He says to him: ‘You Westerners are always looking for your tones. I’ve found mine.’ ”

- By Jack Vaughan.  With disclosure/admission that this- story is largely based on "A House Finds a New Home," by Randy Kennedy, NYT,June 12, 2015,  p.c.1.

Addenda and switching gears
La Monte Young, like John Cage, like John Cale, like Yoke Ono, like Ed Sanders, was a part of the ardent NY Avant Garde scene of the 1960s. My research today uncovered another such astronaut, Tony Conrad. He was in Dream Syndicate with Cale, Young, and he built his own instruments, including the Long String Drone, which seems reminiscent, IMHO, of Ed Sanders work. And you could add Bob Moog, and Harry Parch… let us, like the author of a Walker Art Org monograph, throw in Les Paul too…

Long String Drone, attributed here to the year 1972. Long String Drone or, as Conrad coyly abbreviates it, LSD, sits perched on a pair of keyboard stands (not, it seems, original to the era). LSD resembles guitarist and songwriter Les Paul’s first electric guitar, “the log”—referred to as such because of its simple, rectilinear shape—which was made around 1940. Like Paul’s innovation, LSD is a long strip of wood, outfitted with an electrical element (the one musician benefiting from the precedence of the other, using a commercially available guitar pickup), tuning keys, and strings. Three long wire strings stretch from end to end, pulled tightly across hand-notched grooves, numeric and alphabetical markings, and a smattering of green paint and duct tape.


From the Vaults - Rashaan R.K.

I would posit that this begins with Roland playing a Stylophone,  an early portable electronic synthesizer. Here he puts the backbeat in Bachrach.

For wierd somewhat unbeknownst reasons Rashaan Roland Kirk appeared as the last artist on the last Ed Sullian show...THIS IS NOT THAT [above he plays I say a lil prayer].. On the Sullivan show he played a version of the recent hit: My Cherie Amour.


Saturday, September 05, 2015


We did a poetry reading - Jeff DeMark, Natawa, me, back in the day, that included music and it is here in a recording. Dylan's Million Dollar Bash to start off a very fun evening. I can still recall that Greg and Steve and Terri Spring refused to have the empties bussed from their table which in turn at the evening end displayed about 50 beer bottles. Bob Watt, whose work really got me going with poetry in the first place was there, so that was a super wonderful blessing. This was at the Creperie on State St in Madison on some Sept 4th in the 1970s, A full house for poetry and music. At 39cents for admission, why not? The music led by Jeff. Including Charlie Deming, Dana Poissin, Natawa and me Jim Haas did a solo during course of evening. It had the crowd going Ohm. A great crowd in fact. Jim Jones of Jonestown is mentioned here, and since he came to prominence in late 1978 one could guess this happened int 1979. But I think it was much earlier: 1976 or 1977. I have a recollection that there was a Daily Cardinal reporter there who reviewed The 39 Cent Poetry Reading, and gave general high marks except for a pan of one of the singers- he/she wrote : "A Patti Smith WannaBe" - Jack "I would need more ambition to qualify as a WannaBe" Vaughan

Click to hear on SoundCloud. (apologies to Bob Dylan's mechanical royalties system admin)

Click to hear and see on YouTube (apologies for grotty quality of visuals. I give up.)

Friday, September 04, 2015


Well-scrubbed exhaust is exhaust most hard to decypher/like a veiled charm girl-a war chief’s daughter.

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