Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Secondhand Smoke

It's appearing that the choice of the hero in Secondhand Smoke who "goes down to the Yucatan" for Zapata over Sandino wasn't as arbitrary as he thought it to be. Feeling all epic dull he continues trudging ahead as hero anyhow because he knows no other route out. So on he bumbles, bouncing from obscurity to obscurity choosing each not for its merit alone but rather its lack of footprints. Imagine the torment trapped in his jaw when he rode the plane to Cancun with all the giddy spring breakers knowing that not only was he about to head off in the opposite direction of the catamarans and cocotinis, but that the only reason he wasn't in Nicaragua was because the Clash wrote an album about it before he did. What would his friends say if he told them British solidiers were training Sandinistas just across the border in Costa Rica to cripple the American trained troops on the other side?
"Yeah, I got that album too."
It eats him so he goes Zapata. It eats him also because the Clash never posit the strange connection between Bautista and Batista. If they thought like that they wouldn't be the Clash though, but it still eats him. Whatever, they got the topic first so that's the one we get with flaws and all. Our hero gets Zapata, he thinks, concilatorily.
However, singing his lyrics to "Where Cherry Blossoms Breeze..." at a concert in Austin Texas years later on el dia de los San Patricios (wherein Irish American troops defected to Santa Anna's army in 1847)it struck him that Cherry Blossoms brought him to the Yucatan, not just because it was the last unchosen choice. Lotus leaves! So he began with the obvious and worked up his reason from there and it is a fine one.
The obvious: Mexico abuts the States thereby making it more our logical other than Nicaragua.
On the Yucatan particularly: It's a pennisula that juts back up at the States and it's the cradle of one of the most important civilizations ever, The Mayans, whom if you recall two brothers in White Pigeons prove were equal parts Egyptian, Korean, and Celtic (amongst others that didn't serve their purposes of the moment).
On the Mayans: God was called "Malo" and took the form of a serpent, which if you were a Conquistador was like saying "we worship one bad devil."
The Pigalle inverted what it received so says the song.
Well a simple web search for inversions proved better yet.
If you fuse Toltec and Olmec and spell them backwards you have something very similar to Camelot!
Our hero knew where he was headed!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on the Death of the Flaneur

In the second chapter of 57 Octaves Steven Schecker diatribes on how the bike, if not kept in check, means the death of the flaneur. The bike is the vice of the walker. The over anxious flaneur uses it expecting to get more city than walking makes, but the effect is similar to the vacancy produced by flipping through three hundred channels rather than settling on just one. On the bicycle, you lose the eye contact of the street and once that's gone the city is no longer a living history. He goes into how a well intentioned but ill French flaneur invented the bike and how an Irish flaneur improved it, but had I been more thorough in my research he would have also told Ms. Doyen that New Yorker John Jacob Astor then improved upon the Irish bike. Astor invented a pneumatic device and a brake (previously the flaneur had to rely on their already precious heel). Buy yourself a bike friends, but beware the monkey, it steals the light from your eyes.

More on Things that Happen Mid Sea

Jokichiro Takimine gave D.C. and Newark the Cherry Blossoms as a gift of thanks for forcing Japan to open up when Commodore Perry's fleet flooded old Edo harbor. Say what you want, they may have been thankful. At the same time though he gave New York City, Perry's home, the Gingko Biloba tree. They're all over the city now. He told us the barks improve memory, but what New Yorker is gonna go through the trouble to brew the barks into a tea? And what was it they wanted us to remember anyhow? Didn't they know we were no good at that? They did! They laughed through the next fifty years as we failed to regard our memory. We couldn't (still can't) even remember from year to year: every spring the berries from the Gingko Biloba are one of the worst allergens in the city.
A Yank heard the snicker though. The U.S. did so much bombing damage to the Japanese countryside that post WWII the U.S. had to graft trunks from our fifty year old Cherry Blossom trees back onto the singed remains of any left standing in Japan. i.e. the Japanese Cherry Blossom saps American blood. Oh, but back to the Atlantic, that's where the "Where Cherry Blossoms Breeze..." metaphor began:
First, in the mid 1800s mildews and the insect phylloxera ruined France's Chardonnay vines. Luckily, the Francophonic Belgian Hugenots had been planting Chardonnay in the Hudson valley for two hundred years at that point and their vines developed a resistance to diseases the European vines still withered under. To save the European stock the Europeans had to make a grand concession. Americans grafted our vines back onto the same French vines they came from. i.e French Chardonnay is not only American, but Belgium too! Are there two things French loathe more?
And -- I'm glad I didn't know all of this when I wrote the song. I would have given up -- some say it was the American Steve Kaplan who while travelling through France after World War II, appalled at the state of subsistance baking had devolved to in such impoverished times, set out on a mission across France to remind them of their past bread making glory, and rebirth the baguette! Anyone know what kind of bread they eat in Madiera? I've never been.

More on the Celtic Japanese

In White Pigeons three brothers try to prove that the Ainu of Hokkaido Island in Northern Japan are of Celtic origin -- not an easy task, they struggle through it. If, however, I had only known at the time that the Irish also confuse 'r's for 'l's and 'l's for 'r's it would not have been such an arduous task.
For example: Molly is an Irish derivative of Mary. Maureen is too, but think about the extra effort it takes to say Maureen, like they needed to stretch the first syllable out as long as they could to prepare them for the correct literation. The best of these transliterations happened when the Scots made glamour out of grammar!

More on the Aral Sea

In 57 Octaves one of the tour guides spiels about the etymology of the word "slave." His rant takes him to the shrinking Aral Sea. At the end of his rant I wish he said either "It's one Aral scene on the arid sea" or "It's one arid scene on the Aral Sea."

Yes Yes No Yes

Marcellus, Nisa and I met in Bryant Park midday last June for a final edit of 57 Octaves. I ran across the street to Chipotle Burritos for three margaritas.
"To stay, right."
"Right, to stay."
A legal formality wherein it is actually better for the teller's kharma if you walk back out across the street with the margaritas to meet Marcellus and Nisa and edit and watch the marble shooting straight up get all aggravated by the swaying tree trunks who really don't mean anything by mocking their strict adherance to structure. Just teasing.
Marcellus has the ability to say as much about the city through his illustrations as I can in an entire novel.
Then Nisa goes and convinces me that though I think this book is about my love for one woman, it is really about my love for another. She's right.
So I keep thinking about the trees, the wind, the perfection of the meter of the language we catch snippets of as wise people who are privy to the same info we are about how to spend this day walk past. I think about the McGraw Rotunda hidden behind the marble of the New York Public Library the shadows of the trees mock. Have you ever been to the McGraw Rotunda? You have to go. It's on the third floor. When you go you also have to visit the "Rivers of Manhattan" map in the map room adjacent. You have to invite me too. Listen, I'm also overdue for something cute. Can we go to the Central Park Zoo aft? Not only does the $6 entrance fee include the seal feeding at 2pm, but it is also half the price of the sidecar and "complimentary" nuts we'll share at the Pierre later. But "who would ever visit the McGraw Rotunda today?" I thought. So you can understand then how the notion of ending this thing with a pathetic album just seemed vulgar at that point, right? All that in one regurgitation seems vulgar. The girl I thought 57 Octaves was about always refered to White Pigeons as vulgar. I'm sensitive for the time being to vulgar. No, the book and the album need some space from each other. Room to breathe. I could have thrown it all together but my cockiness posing as self deprication does have some limits so I seperated them.
Before we met up that day though I had written this as a part of the post script to 57 Octaves:

'In retrospect, of course, I was the fool who didn't realize every time I approached Maura she just got younger and younger. I was the chump who thought I could actually pass Maura off as someone other than my Maureen. That's not clever. Well I was also rude enough (yes, I've come to understand that that's the right word, rude) to think that love, by both not allowing me to expose it once again (the first failure was White Pigeons) and by in turn exposing me as the square I've been hiding from you all so well (and you thought otherwise!) had already had its last laugh. I was wrong again.
Not only do I apologize for not coming through with the goods I initially promised (that though not explicitly said this time, I know you read), I also apologize for this album love left me to howl as its purgatorial prophet: the manifestation of a malignant retribution I did not know I was waranted.
Aye, without further ado I offer you ten apologies I apologize ten times for I'm calling "Let's Duke It Out At Kilkenny Katz' " by the Vague Angels.'

And so it went. The album wrote itself out of the book just as the lady wrote herself out of my life. Something is still unsettled though. The discourse between the book and album has not yet closed. Forget it, whatever please forget it, this is not I assure you, this is not what we will talk about when we meet for drinks at the Pierre. And the Pierre, for the record, will also not be the culmination of our day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rejected Intro to the Postscript: dialogue begatin' dialogue!

To quote Samuel Menashe,

Using the window ledge
As a shelf for books
Does them good --
Bindings are belts
To be undone,
Let the wind come --
Hard covers melt,
Welcome the sun --
An airing is enough
To spring the lines
Which type confines,
But for pages uncut
Rain is a must.

I believe in the Living Book! In dialogue begatin' dialogue! In the pulverized powder of lost civilizations plushed with a brush upon our cheeks while we gossip!This is not to say I don't believe in our current civilization or view it through the lens of being futurely lost -- like thinking of the old Pennsylvania Station now buried in the Meadowlands which will be sunk forgotten beneath a brackish sea between the cliffs of Kearny and the Bloomberg Dikes -- or in dialogue not begatin' dialogue: when this Rebecca I've just met ends the word she earns it and I am left locked in a stare that might create babies if I don't watch myself (according to her).
I digress!
I embarress! because you heard the breath I held in when I bit my tongue when I said "I digress" holding back a long winded rebuttal that digression is it man, it! I believe the party that ensued in Cairo the week after the library in Alexandria burnt down brought decadence to grand heights whose counter balance begged for the coming crack of Mohommed's sword. Did you know they heated the public baths with the burning books? I swear. I even wrote a poem about it:


I smoked a hookah with you
While we watched the library burn down
The blaze illuminated your face
As every word burnt into space
Then with two tongs of tusk
I plucked an ember from our tin and threw it in
'Specting to add aroma to the cackling crackle of the din
When the pigs came along and locked me up for starting the whole thing!
In a day and a half I was back out on the streets.
Did I cop a plea for my release
When I took credit for the feats?

I believe that my books will burn, that this computer will crash, that all the king's horses and all the king's men will rebuild cities unbeknownst atop the old ones and fall in love with girls who woo them with mythical tales of America and Granada and even Edgar Cayce won't be able to
conjur the preancient Egyptian secrets. No biggy, we'll get them this go around before they burn again. Americans! Don't you know the real reason Canadians hate us is because there are six thousand year old Minoan-Cypriot copper mines on
Wisconson's Isle Royale and St. Louis sits on Cohokia mounds that paved the way for
the Mayan pyramids?
Bread basket of the world?
I digress into things I don't even believe!
Which is only to say that these strokes they grow wider!
So here is the postscript to 57 Octaves which is not included with the book.
There will either come a day when this Introduction to the Postscript and the actual Postscript to 57 Octaves exist around a book that has been burnt or a book that exists in the middle of a conversation (the conversation beginning with the Introduction to the Postscript and ending with the actual Postscript) that has already crashed and I'm telling you regardless of order of collapse the missing words will be felt, then heard, and finally understood because I believe in the Living Book! In dialogue begatin' dialogue! and in the pulverized powder of lost civilizations caked in my scalp weeks after I've left the beach,