Thursday, January 31, 2008


The word nostalgie was coined in 1668 by the Alsatian physician Johannes Hofer. Combining the Greek nostros for "homecoming" with algos for "pain, grief, and distress" Hofer invented a term to describe the disease of "extreme homesickness." At the time, this nostalgie was one ill plaque. It would jaundice the soul, blind the spirit, and wither one to dust if left undiagnosed. Doctors shuddered less even when encountering the similar stiffness of ennui because at least ennui , though an equally arresting condition, had a way of mutating randomly here and there into eurekic snaps back out to languidity; as if the sufferer of ennui, bored to death by life, kept whittling away substance he could no longer find interest in until he'd narrowed it all down to one single dot on the wall, a dot he'd then transfix on for weeks trying to whittle down further still until -- in the fortunate cases -- the force inside this dot propelled by cosmic ebb and flow would then reverse its own trajectory refusing to get caught (think past and future Big Bangs) releasing the ailed into a furious sweat of ideas, and hence, frantic liberation. The sufferer of nostalgie however had no similar simple reactionary hope. He would stare at this same dot transfixed similarly because it was also the end result of his attempt to whittle back to the point he'd come from unable to ever return. Depression came to the nostalgent from the feeling of being stuck on a line oozing pointlessly and joylessly forward, and yet to turn him around would be to place him back in the original direction birth had him running from: nostalgie then was an awareness of the same dot at both opposing ends of that line. And so the doctors were stuck too. No honest treatment could be found for this crippling disease.
Seemingly making matters more complicated, returning home in the Alsace- Lorraine has never come easy. Rarely could a doctor just send the sick homebound to start afresh. Home was often in someone else's hands. The first recorded history of the region has Celts fighting vertical wars with Romans over control of the salt mines; since then some sort of horizontal Franco-Germanic conflict has kept the area inflamed or at a minimum, instantly provokable. A-L (with a naiveté appropriately opposite to that found in L.A.) has been continuously pummeled from every angle. Who knew what language would be spoken in the home you grew up in, assuming your home was even still standing. Well miraculously, it was this same displacement that inadvertently produced the cure. Truth is, Hofer did invent the word nostalgie, but not the condition. The condition was already well researched, documented, and revered in German as heimweh; Hofer was well familiar with it.
Being Alsatian, Hofer spoke both French and German and had formal studies on both sides of the Rhine. In 1668 most of the Alsace was in French hands though, capitulated by the Hapsburgs in the Treaty of Westphalia only a few decades earlier. The Hapsburgs would then lose the rest to Louis the XIV within the proceeding decades therein making French that centuries temporarily imposed tongue (though whether it was by a Franco royal edict or personal preference to speak French, history appropriately does not document), so Johannes Hofer transposing a French word where a German word already existed stumbled him into the recipe for vaccinations one hundred years before the first vaccine was accredited in use for fighting smallpox. In other words, Hofer discovered that the antidote to the virus is always the same virus. The antidote is never very far or different from the original old dote. Dote coming from the Greek didonai which meant "to give" which shares the same Proto-Indo-European root with "grab" which is essentially the same thing as "taking" meant that by fighting heimweh with nostalgie Hofer was able to spin the victim's maligned existential lines into whirlwindic circles that vacillated the victims give-taking between languages thereby losing track of who's on first, what's on second, how will we ever get to third, ad infinitum until being flung from the infirmary on a long slow ginger skip home.
"Wait doctor, so is it heimweh or nostalgie that I suffer from?"
"Well you see, in a word son, both…it was heimweh, it is currently nostalgie, and if I have my way you may very soon carry with you something similar called nostalgia.
"Whatever word we chose to use, this condition which ponders the past exists in all tenses. It is always around us, yet it is also this inescapability that frees us. May I offer you October Fifth as proof? This is a day just deep enough into Fall to begin feeling nostalgic for past summer's follies while simultaneously near enough to the future holiday season you look forward to nostalgically as a summation of all the past holidays enjoyed. On October Fifth both the past and the future are nostalgic. Whatever direction you turn you see the past. This is an impossible equation, no? All things lead backwards? Well if this is the case then we must have mistaken what backwards truly is. Backwards must be forwards as well then. On October Fifth you therefore move forward with no other direction to go. Or better, On October Fifth you are finally just moving unconcerned with direction. It's for this reason you can not recall a single memory from October Fifth {sic: we are pausing while you search}. You were moving forward then, free of memory. You don't remember it, but you were also happy then. The day is so liberated from memory you aren't even sure if it's October Fifth precisely you fail to remember. It may have been the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, or Eighth, who knows! And seeing as you can't remember the day, you also can't recall the date. Yes, you were happy then because regardless of direction, you were heading home to the cradled beginning -- as you are now.
"Patient, allow me to continue extrapolation. You must also understand that to bring you this word for your condition I had to travel to Greece to seek the words the ancients would have used to secure firm footing for my new word. You would have eschewed a proper new word as yet another propigant further forward and an old word would have been but another reminder of just how impossibly distant the past feels. I needed a nonchronistic offspring of them both. Thing is, with imperial forces in these parts toppled as frequently as they are, I also needed a word that would weather any crown. This is how I solved it: from the Alsace to Greece there are two routes to go, the northern and the southern routes. The northern route would take me through German states, through the circle of the central Hapsburg duchies, and across the Balkans to Greece. The southern route would take me over the Alps, into the Savoy, and down through the Italian peninsula where I would embark via boat to Greece from Brindisi. I decided to try them both as 'both' seemed to be the opposite of the singularity your malady has you only seeing now. I chose the southern route on my way there, and took the northern on my way back.
"As I passed through the Italian republics on my southern route I heard the first part of this word nos which they used to mean "our." On my return voyage through the northern route while winding through the Schwarzwald I heard the second part of this word tal which the Schwabians used to mean "valley." This suffix "gie" was used in some way in every language, dialect, and slang I encountered to mean just about anything so let's call this tail to our word "everything." Inadvertently, I discovered by taking this circular trip to and from my destination that I was in possession of a compound word whose separate pieces with entirely different etymologies from the same compound word of the nostalgie from nostros plus algos I invented in Greece share identical meanings to each other! Fraternal twins who happened to plop out identical! You see, in this circular etymology nostalgie translates quite literally to 'Our Valley of Everything.' Whichever homonym you choose we all therefore suffer from nostalgie to a greater or lesser degree. We carry it with us. It is our communal collection. It is therefore not just your disease, dear patient, we all share it -- and if we all share it well then it can't quite be considered a disease at all then, can it? Please, don't burden yourself with the weight of the entire load. It is there with or without your extra burden."
And so through the wordplay of Johannes Hofer the pain was imparted into all of us and nostalgie mellowed into the softer nostalgia and ceased tormenting us as a disease proper. It may continue to exist as a valley of sorts, but if we recognize it as "the valley" doesn't that in the very least say something of our position on the hill? Nostalgia exists like any element does. It is not a force to eradicate. It is yet another element to monitor and ride as it adds its hue to the impartial scene. Luckily, it's also a beautiful word and just to say it keeps its hazards in check. Say it with veneration, nostalgia. Gorgeous even.
Problem is, our northern fear of stagnation and lack of advancement has created an unbalanced cultural focus on all things future tense that clouds our ability to appreciate nostalgia's full spectrum. Our northern goals for our days and what we feel we need to get done during them place such an unbalanced focus on progress and societal betterment that we push nostalgia to a delicate periphery where a fear of retrospection (in the event that a spelunk too far down could suck you into some reminiscent unproductive bog) could cancer nostalgia back into a disease again. It's not necessarily a negative word though; it doesn't even have to be a depressive one. It is a word that demands a certain comprehensive time-sensitive breath to say right, true, but any word that complete should. Perhaps we get nervous around it in the north because our contribution to the word, the valley, the tal, is the heavy side. If that's the case, perhaps we should. Maybe even the jobs allotted for the proper functioning of nostalgia have been divvied appropriately then: judicial monitoring for the north, executive risk-taking for the south where the first part of the word, the collective part, the uplifting part, the nos came from on Hofer's southern trek.
Along the Mediterranean on his southern leg, Hofer found the northern and southern uses of nostalgia to be rather different, existing in concentric circles that overlapped in the 'comprehensive time-sensitive breath' quadrant and worded similarly in the dictionary, but with a nuance that rendered them almost different words entirely. The rest of the free space in the southern pie of nostalgia that does not overlap with the northern nostalgia actually leans towards things like progress, the timeless wisdom of masonry, and endless inextricable communion. Hofer came to surmise that this Mediterranean soul surrounded by ruins is raised on his imponderable equation: when every direction leads to the past you find yourself heading towards the future back to home. They don't need to learn it on the Mediterranean, it's in them. The ruins have stood millennia as Vespas, theocratic campaigns, and souvenir crazed tourists whipped within and without. They've been bombed, burned, pardoned, and recently internationally preserved. These people aren't living in the past by carrying it with them, they're celebrating the story of past, present, and future as it happens at once in all directions.
It is our northern inability to wrap our heads completely around this notion that not only impedes our ability to digest and enjoy the ruins as our own ruins but also impedes our ability to appreciate the gaudiness of the modern Mediterranean art being thrown up in seeming contrast around them today. We vacation to Rome to ponder both how a modern city grew around ruins without knocking them down (lazy or respectful?) and how the intellect of Michelangelo could produce something as garish as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We can dig into the gaudiness through irony, yes, but to discuss irony is to discuss a different disease altogether. There is another purer way to value gaudiness. Michelangelo understood it. The Egyptians got it. The Moors of Al Andalus sanctified themselves through it long after both their name and their religion have survived centuries of attempts at vilification. It's simple really, Mediterranean art is meant to ripen. Ripen over centuries with salt from the sea air, curious paws of passing patrons, bullet holes from wars we can't too soon forget. The colors are meant to be too brash, the columns are meant to be overly ornate, the grotesques are not all meant to remain. In Mediterranean art what may first appear as overdone is in fact a great understanding of humility. The artist knows that though he is a conduit for a Muse there is a man in between to contend with. A flawed man. A man who can't possibly get it right. Therefore, the Mediterranean artist overdoes it to allow the immaculate visions of history and the elements remedy his faults.
Interestingly, the Romans never specified which Muse exactly was the Muse of Art. Vermeer believed Clio, the Muse of History, moonlighted as the Muse of Art. Vermeer knew that now is the time to see the Parthenon, for example. It's ripened with history. It may have peaked in the past century, but it was certainly way too much to look at when Iktinos completed it 2,500 years ago. History has finally completed the job. It took away what wasn't meant to stand. I think Vermeer would also agree that Venice's Basilica de San Marco awaits some more. Clio's not yet done. She may be waiting for Venice to sink, when the only way to visit the church is by boat and who wouldn't concur with her then that that would perfect the project.
William Hogarth believed Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, masqueraded as the Muse of Art. He was on to something too. Moving west across the Mediterranean to Barcelona we face a metaphor too blunt, too cheesy, to admit: Antoni Gaudi is both the architect and archetype of gaudy. Painfully so. He's bedazzled Barcelona with eyesores Catalans have no choice but to esteem. It would be too much to expect the Catalans to humble into a confession that their number one attraction, La Sagrada Familia, is downright hideous -- Oh there I go with my northern mind already forgetting why Hogarth invoked Thalia! Yes yes, the Barcelonans are laughing at me! Gaudi's creations are modern history! They have yet to ripen with us and the elements! In due time they will mute, soften, breathe and be breathed upon, occupy a nook in "Our Valley of Everything," and our collective narcissism will both take credit for and adore them as they will be worthy of adoration.
I talk this talk though fellow New Worlders further West and centuries younger than perhaps the spirit of any New Worlder is qualified to do. As I pause for a minute to reflect on my own city I realize how hard pressed you'd be to find a single New Yorker not ready to tear down Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim and start anew. We don't just hate seeing it, we think it's dumb. But am I trying to tell myself that in due time this building will make sense? It's already starting to peel and the renovations made to it this year were the first on the abomination in over a decade. Are the curators already on my nostalgic tip? No, I don't buy it. Just because things go up doesn't mean they should stay up. The Guggenheim should come down and I promise my opinion does not stem from a rash American deus ex machina machismo. It just doesn't work. It won't ripen. We're gradually figuring out how to read these things. Beginning with the transference of the banners of modernity to the newer and taller skylines of Asia and then solidified by the bombing of the Towers, the spirit of New Yorkers is changing. We're almost part of the Old World. We're gaining nostalgic perspective. Even New Jersey is producing a successful organic vineyard these days. As New Worlders we're plowing ahead with our ability to accept the past in the present while attempting to carry with us our own past of a complete irreverence for it.
This is obviously no easy task. Thalia's been our Muse since conception. We've been tearing mansions down to build skyscrapers in their stead. We've been consuming everything that floats ashore and claiming it as our own creation. We've proudly sold shirts proclaiming things like "Welcome to New York Mother Fucking City, Now Duck Bitch." We've been laughing at ourselves.
That's not our city anymore though, and yet we're cautious to welcome Clio in as our new Muse. These are tricky times, go easy on us. This flux of Muses has left us debating helter-skelter things like whether to or not to tear down the legendary "punk" club CBGB's. The lease is up and the new one's got an extra zero. In the last century this debate would have never even existed. Goodbye Cotton Club. So long Copacabana. We awaited the next step. Goodbye Filmore East. Goodbye Cat Club. Couldn't wait to see what came next. The dance clubs in West Chelsea have changed names and hands a hundred times. The Palladium became an NYU dorm. Christ! Can you imagine if they all still stood? How old would that make us? CBGB's, though once seminal, still stands and hasn't supported a non-referential act in over a decade. Last call to define the genre boundaries of the bands that play its stage closed at a hardcore matinee in 1988. Of course, newness isn't an essential element of goodness, but packaging redundancy and selling it as newness is reason enough to support that new lease. Yes, love our northern minds for studying the ways of the south, the nos, by trying to officially make CB's "ours", but pity us for being stuck in the classroom still unable to get down to the curb. Eager to get the nos we've tried to lose the tal, yet you need them both to form the word and there are other ways to fill the valley than leaving all the ruins up. The air holds memories as well as the soil does. If we buried CBGB's in the soil of the Fresh Kills landfill rest assured the ocean air would breeze across Staten Island as it does now and bring CB's and all its original smells back to us everyday. CBGB's is everybody's now. Time to offer her up.
So aged Jersey rocker Little Stevie of E Street Band fame has been spearheading the movement to preserve CB's with the inane claim that "it's the last rock and roll club in the universe." Good god how my heart aches for all the good people behind La Sala Rosa in Montreal, The Earl in Atlanta, Kafe Kult in Munich, Mono in Glasgow, The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas and the myriad other crusaders across the globe losing money dealing with the petty idiosyncrasies of musicians because they believe in it when they have the nagging option all along of just turning on the jukebox and simply selling booze. Muddy Waters is spinning in his grave embarrassed by the hacks that consider themselves his offspring. Muddy Waters was tearing walls down, rockers, not putting them up. Where was Little Stevie in 1971 when Caetano Veloso released the song "Nostalghia (That's What Rock and Roll Is All About)"? Where was Little Stevie when Tim Yohannon led a parade of casket bearers carrying effigies of hippies down Haight Street proclaiming the Death of Flower Power in 1967? And could Little Stevie have possibly made it through school without reading Leo Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata" wherein the revolutionary grip of music causes infidelity amongst the refined against their greater will? Tolstoy managed to never use the words "rock and roll."
Yes, it is time to close CBGB's, but more importantly we should applaud ourselves for at least debating it. In debating it we've created something new; a debate where none would have existed in the past. And seeing as this debate truly is something new, I propose we offer up this newness as our appropriate eulogy to the newness CB's once spawned. We're looking back to our musical past for advice and it tells us to start a revolution towards the future, but to tear the building down is contrary to our architectural past which is on one hand ashamed we tore down masterpieces like Penn Station but proud we're rebuilding it in the future according to plans similar to those of the past. In other words, it is October Fifth or thereabouts today and I expect it to remain this way all year long. Savor this transference of Muses on our trip home because if things work out we won't remember it when we arrive.

{Postscript: In the summer of 2008, despite two years of benefit concerts and protests, Thalia's comedy overlapped with Clio's history and the doors of CBGB's closed for good. Thank god.}

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Historics Bio & the "Infinidelity" 3 x 12" series

I wrote this for Historics:

Everyone needs to see some sweat, but there's a fault with where we think we need to see it, due to this hard-wired Protestant work ethic that's still trying to cool things down. It's got us thinking we have to see you sweat before we'll believe you really mean it. But what about divination? What about gliding with the gift? What about finding the faith to believe some people are just tapped conduits channeling this stuff out with Jedi-Mind-Trick ease? This is where Don Devore's deftness is so dope it can have the affect of arching back around the curve of things toward being a disability. 'Cause really, how can you believe this guy isn't behind the scenes sweating it out like the rest of us? I mean, maybe he is, but if so, he does it like the savvy gentleman that doesn't really exist in this age outside of Graham Greene novels; which is to say, if he does it at all, he does it in classy secrecy.

The first time I met Don I played a Thanksgiving Day party he threw at some three-story town house in Central Philly. "Hey man, come down and play a party," was all I got from him first. Upon arrival I found a massive spread with cranberry sauce, stuffing, savory pies from ye olden tymes, weird beers brewed according to Ben Franklin's own personal recipes, a decent p.a. in the living room, a packed house, and not an exclamation point on Don's face. For all I knew, this was just how this guy lived it (except when he mumbled under his breath, "I actually prefer Thomas Jefferson's brewing methods"). Nothing about Don gave the impression that this night was any different than any other; nor that there was even a finger lifted to make it happen; nor that any worlds involving the spectrum of things between oxycodone and lawn croquet (or both together) would seem discordant to either nun or non. No, the dude just channels it and you follow. Always has. I've seen him play in Ink and Dagger with make-up on his face in front of 700 sweaty kids in an industrial suburb of Detroit. I didn't flinch. I've called him up to jam, only to find out he's in Melbourne recording a Souls She Said album for the week. I didn't ask. I've arrived at parties on the Lower East Side at like 11 am to find Don both bartending and DJing whenever he felt moved in either direction. I just accepted the drinks and danced. And whether there are or are not sacks of money following this guy around seems beside the point. Like a proper diviner, it appears like he's operating aside from even that tectonic.

Part of this particular brand of divining is a Gertrude Stein-like craft at curating the ever movable feast -- and that goes for not just Don but everyone in this band. In fact, it was Mickey Madden from L.A.'s Maroon Five that first envisioned how this puzzle should congeal. One might think Mickey’s already being busy with music non-stop would render the dude spent, but it doesn't work like that. When more is really on it always makes more, and if only the goodtimes weren't so fast that we could actually remember how they happened, I'd ask Mickey which cocktail lit the lightbulb that said, "Don, tonight we do not go to that party, we jam with Josh instead", Josh being Joshua Grubb of Austin’s Vietnam. So add to that trio of puppeteers the hard-to-catch wandering myths (that somehow got caught) of Ryan Rapsys from Chicago's Euphone and Dale Jiminez from Philly's Need New Body, and so begins the writing of "Strategies For Apprehension", on both coasts, in studios ranging from the sun soaked Sunset Sound studio number 2 (already made famous many times over by the likes of the Doors, the Beach Boys, and Zep, etc.) to Earl Greyhound's rat-infested Dumbo basement studio in the dead of winter. All the while the studio doors remained perpetually open with a collage of helpful hands and ears that might look like puke if you put all those colors together on one canvas at the same time (I'm sorry did I say punk, I meant puke)-- you just have to accept that these things happen casually, don't ask how, I tried. You stop asking when Don tells you he hooked the track up with Kool Keith at a chance encounter at Sundance when Kool Keith was transitioning between his Black Elvis and Black Warhol stages. Word dude, word.

Anyhow, it's also beside the point for Historics -- and this is where this sort of channeling bends all the way over the curve to a disability. Historics are not Rasputin-like augurs working to bed the queen and topple the empire (I mean, maybe that too, but first), they just wanna make perfect sounds and when the bliss is this guided no one will or can say no to the pursuit thereof. But listen, now I'm just looking to write this bio for reasons that may be obvious to you and me -- to convince people that they must, must, go forth and seek "Strategies For Apprehension" -- but this is not so obvious to Don. When I tried getting out of him what I deemed to be the proper info I intended to use to pique your interest, he instead took me through the entire album track by track describing where aerosol spray cans were used in place of a hi-hats, or how fat fingers hit heavily on a floor tom with a blown out mic sound like thunder, or why at some points it's necessary to run to Radio Shack and just buy the cheapest mic you can find. Dude, girls don't care about that stuff. There's a cover of Queen's "She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)" on this album along with a cover of Sub Society's "A Lot Less" and they flow with the spectrum of pure Historics surrounding them like they were always just there, you don't ask how. You just sweat it 'cause it seems like it always was, like these songs were already here and just needed to be tapped. There's sweat here yeah; it's yours though, not Historics'.

And Egads! In August 2009 RVNG Records will be releasing a 3 x 12" Historics series. Mark McCoy is on the art, here's my part for the words:

Part I

For awhile nothing happened. Fantastic excursions to amazing maize mazes with spiked cider and Dutch mansions with 400 hand-carved pumpkins upstate with couples Nick knew from academia; extended-hour museum galas with proven German djs and home in time for sober fucks with familiar hands that had figured out just how to slap me; pasta a casa in front of the tv for marathons of “Locked Up Abroad” and gossip; weekend strolls through the barrio with endless drool dripping from the corner of my monkey boyfriend’s mouth as we passed every Dominicana ass which I always balanced with something like, “I might not drop my pants for the entire Greater Antilles, mon amour, my tastes are a bit more selective, but I would and will do every last one of your friends and you‘ll never know, so who’s up?” So perfect that when one of us failed to tease jabs about infidelity for a long enough gap we assumed the other must be concealing something. This wasn’t an obsession of ours, more like an exercise in honesty, like c‘mon, after a complete spliff and an hour in the frankincense and culo drenched Iglesia Dio Poderoso we‘d hit up some Sundays, are you really gonna tell me I’m the crazy when I explode on Nick after all he had to offer was “do you have to find Faith to be the drummer in a church band?” that he must be hiding something because he hadn’t mentioned a single Dominicana ass all service? The drummer! Right, he was paying attention to the drummer when there was a swaying chain of three generations worth of Latinas who knew Dio loves the way they paint their threads on so tightly as to better facilitate His views of the fine work He’s crafted (at least that was Nick’s logic during what I perceived to be more honest times). I mean we were perfect. The cosmos had lost their frigidity, the homing pigeons homed, if the grippe grasped me I wouldn’t have flinched, and the confinement I once dreaded at first snowfall had given way to cozy with a capital Comfort, which is all to say we were veering perilously close to that nothing that consumed all our other “spoken for“ peers, those time-bomb relics of slavery. Nothing. Serendipity (when it came) came with a smiley face. Night had a destination. When New Yorkers walked fast I really believed they had someplace to be. This was solid. There was nothing I couldn’t do with him, nothing I couldn’t bring to the table, no chamber he wouldn’t let me in, I need only ask. Thing is, I didn’t always ask, neither did he. Knowing we could was enough to make curiosity feel like one fluid breast-stroke. Fluid, that was it. Even our fights were fluid. Slamming bedroom doors, storming out of bars with half finished beers, and poverty even felt fluid. Rare bouts of paranoia even felt fluid. Everything was breast-strokes. When the apartment was silent I no longer heard the Fear. Yes of course, “thank god” you say. I’m with you, the Fear blows. But to not even hear it when you know it’s there? That’s some frightening shit. The Fear slices, hacks, pounds, haunts, and terrorizes -- but at least it engages. This other thing, this residue, this seeming handle on things, stares up at you expressionless from your empty brunch plate, deceives through keeping plans, patiently replaces your frayed ends one by one with fauxly-synonymous fantastical encyclopedia entries. I unplugged the refrigerator because it hummed. I picked up my phone and frantically avoided all my impulses to call Nick (he'd become my go-to when I was scared), shaking the phone with nervous tears in my eyes staring at the number that memories-of-phone-calls-past had morphed into another image of him, I kissed the "Nick", turned the phone off, hid it in a nook in the couch, and left the apartment. To save this relationship, to highlight our chafes, to connect through tatters and pulsing vulnerabilities, to keep the breast-strokes blissed, I needed to conceal something. With a secret between us we’d be closer to the knowledge that the knowledge isn’t ours. I needed to conceal to remind us both that something is always concealed.

Part II

But now which avenue to choose? Since I was bubbling with ballz I thought about sneaking off and scaling Mt. Shasta alone to bring back some light through the lie (‘cause there’s that other conduit to the Fear through light, remember? The kind that reveals via the limitless vastness of the first summer days when too many options flatten into one grand inconsequentiality, where any path taken leads to a marvelous story, so what‘s so marvelous about that?), but no, no Shasta for me; passing the couples along that trail searching for the Fear in tandem with matching t's and posturepedic rucksacks would divert my attention to a bitter and very non-transcendent impotence, or whatever the girl version of impotence is, implodence? I could leave him a note saying "Babe, I'm off, I'm out. Try to not overunderstand my need for freedom, try to sweat some, try to let it bite a bit please, Yours" and hole myself up in a hotel room until I’d estimated he'd found the Fear again and, not knowing which road he went down (be it jealousy, suicide, moving on, worry, muting, rationalizing) I’d thereby work myself into my own palpitating horror wherein paranoia would bring me close to that fabric I sought. Can't though, can't impose the pain, that assumes some safety-netted interconnected “we’re in this together” support which is exactly what I’m trying to extract myself from. I could get a nose job or ass implants and return perfect, so perfect I’d conceal through the flaw which is lost for good and more impossible to recreate than a perfection. That would fix him fucked! But then the Fear would be ever present and overt and let’s not forget I only seek this slit so I can return back to a more well rounded breast-stroking. This is the same reason why I can’t just run down to the candy store to drain my retinas pale with complacency. Regardless of what they tell you, no one’s ever gone down that route and returned home, they remain elsewhere even (especially) in sobriety. However, they do sell things there that make you hyper-aware; I could conceal through accuracy and come back with my eyes bulging bright hanging on his every word! Still, could I really take credit when a guide led me there? No, I had to re-find the Fear myself without any vice as advocate. I could become an expert on something on the sly, maybe entomology so he’d have no idea I knew all there was to know about all those little creatures feasting off his filthy flesh flittering about him, my refocusing on the little guys would make him seem huge and who doesn‘t want that in a lover? Think about how lonely he’d feel if ever I was to bust out that I knew everything about katydids. That would bring the Fear on a‘ight, but it seems like a trick and tricks wear off. I needed something with a constant subtle sustain that I could never risk leaking. I thought about immersing myself into the icy healing waters of the River Béarn with no illness to heal only to therefore emerge hypothermic where others find Creed and wither in some Pyrenees bath retreat for months, backwards backwards backwards into history -- when you wander through those ancient villages don’t you feel eyes following from their shaded windows? That could be me! And what a pure way to conceal, simply by sticking a twig in the spokes. But nope, know why I’ll never do it that way? ‘Cause that way sucks, and I’m psyched on things. When I get back to that fissure I wanna greet it with a cackle not a cough. I’m finding this Fear again, I’m bringing it back home, and I’m getting off in the process -- not just for me, as an ode to us as well: Nick wants me happy, not miserable. Oooh, the Fear already tickled a trickle in once I’d made up my mind I was seeing this thing through. For a heartbeat I even thought that was enough, I proved my point, done. But no, no way, the only way to secure it was to live it. Up until this point my head had done all the walking, now it was time to lay her aside. Well, one more job for her before we parted ways; I stopped by the pharmacy on my way there to buy the same bar of soap Nick and I share at home so I could lose the trail in lather later.

Part II (I Mean, Really)

So now which avenue to choose? I thought about how often I regretted snapping at Nick that he only thinks about one thing. “One thing!?” he’d flip back, “One thing?“ and his eagerly inflating eyes would elate with the rare opportunity I’d just opened up for him to expound upon the fantasies he’d been harboring on this One Thing, “I think about little ones that get me pitched like a quarterback ready to receive the hike, and formidable mounds that position me as a lumberjack at one end of a heave-hoing saw prying open the sequoia’s base, and quick ones in public bathrooms so I can continue conversation at the bar with you, and lengthy one’s that give me something to talk about at the bar with them, and white ones that spent as many centuries under clouds creating diversions to kill the time that inevitably lead them to twisted obliquities off course as I have, and brown ones…and the brown ones!” etc etc until he’d hammered it in stiff for me to never ask that question again. And then the aftershocks he’d hit me with blocks down our jaunt, “…and the brown one’s that though sapped of pigment by the Februaries in New York we’ve all shared together are still not what you'd call white, and the short ones…” Fair enough, so which “non-one thing” would it be then for me? A Nick clone so I could examine nuance through similarity? A beast so I could limit my confusions that it might be about anything else (I’ve always envied hideous gay men for this reason, pure hole with friction)? Or do I take it when I’m least needing it to approximate that same purity? Or take it when I absolutely need it to approximate that same purity? Or one of his best friends I could walk arm and arm with at a later date with Nick present and Nick think nothing of it? Maybe even call our potential into question via a sexual joke to ensure he’d think nothing of it and conceal through transparency? With a close friend all things are possible; I could have close friend text Nick that he’s boning a skinny bitch like his chick and ask for pointers and see what Nick comes through with and see how close friend then acts them out. I could extract a small fee from close friend, something nominal like 40 bucks, just so we can notch that one off as well (and how much you wanna bet I could up it 10 bucks every time thereafter once I got that ball rolling?). Or what if I went with a man with a face of no coast? Could I implant a sea about such a face or would I be the one who walks plasticed with prairie? Foraging the fridge of a man with the face of no coast in a banana strap and no panties! Or along those lines, what about a man that looks like he knows no one? I could just grab a guy like that off the street. To smear across my belly the seed that spewed from a spring with no outlet for story could be one precious story indeed to keep; one that would bleed into fiction before I even started to sweat about keeping it a secret, and thereby one I’d need to do again -- remember, I need that secret. Or should I orchestrate a “swap” that isn’t a swap at all? That would be some multi-pronged assault with concealment: find my meat, tell him he needs to find a complimentary chick for Nick that he’ll pretend is his girlfriend and call it a swap and see if Nick ever catches on that in fact it isn’t, just four people fucking. Or is it not the who but the how? Do I in fact want to leave tracks that he can find and then chew him a new ass when he suggests I might be up to something? Men are such steadfast retards with their reasoning that without substantive facts he’d eventually sell-out his proper intuition laying it aside (as much as he could) for the “facts“. I could freak out on him about it! Blame him for paranoia about ever ever insinuating such a thing knowing the whole time he’s right! All I need to do is build a solid case in my defense and he’ll sell his own gut right out for reason. Or I could do something purely for me, something that wouldn’t torture Nick at all but that he thinks would; I could grab an ex, someone who knows my body but whom I also detest (as is the cases with exes), do it strictly for the bone and the breach. Aye, this is far too much jurisdiction to allow my head free reign in, she being the fabricator of those calcifying non-secrets, when it’s her grand collection of things that’s threatening to appear like some discernable picture that got us into this precarious state. No, I just need to leap. K, just one more job for her before we part ways though; I stopped by the pharmacy on my way there to buy the same bar of soap Nick and I share at home so I could lose the trail in lather later.

Part III

It’s incredible how little time it all takes! From buzz of the doorbell, to the stairs up to his flat (Jesus, another flight up? How am I supposed to fake any semblance of cadence?), to his opening of the door, to full on, through cigarette breather, to return to full on, through cuddling like we knew each other, through showering and the lingering molassesed infinity from the turning off of the faucet to having to peel my mind away from that image of the bar of soap I was leaving there, and then the drink together at the bar next to the bar that Nick sometimes goes to, what, was it even three hours? Best yet, our return to civility at that bar revved me up all ready to go again -- which of course is when I re-invited my head back into the hang to ensure the go-again would be with Nick when I got home. To return to that persistent statistic with a million epithets, scarlet letters, and inferred approvals within the respective sexes, that old fail-safe paradox that still bears such dripping fruit after all we’ve dredged her through that never ever ever dries up, to be just another faltered number while at the same time feeling like a vital viral piece working towards a more sinister unraveling gets your incisors bleeding ecstatic venom through the panthered panting. Venom? Venom, from the love-potion pricking goddess of beauty and love herself, Venus! And from where else could such a name come other than the Latin “venire” for “coming”. I’d succeeded at putting all the pieces back together again, all these words that once danced together around the bonfire in more closer-to-the-ground-living times: “amare” is "to love" in Latin, but a couple letters away from “amarus” for “bitter”, and hence always tinkering with/teetering on the “amoral” -- and “amorire” was “to kill“, baby. Really, have you ever savored placing your house key inside the lock and turning it? How ’bout even noticed it? How about fidgeting in your bag for eternities looking for those keys amidst the tampons, wallets, make-up, pens, gum wrappers, business cards, and assorted black matter? On this day it was religious, all of it, the two block walk from the subway home even had weight, felt like it meant something, the creaking open of the door to the hallway light that’s always on that no one needs, the quotidian menus from “Great Wall” slipped under the door that daily find their way directly to the garbage, the pallid glow from the tv that somehow blankets its dampened hues into the most light deprived cavities, the perfume of whatever sauce Nick was up to over the stove, all of it. My “Hey Cad” welcoming home together slap on his ass and subsequent big smooch had it all too, the complete pie, everything, which is to say that finally the all-out terror I’d lost now made up a gigantic piece of this puzzle again and his attack of my lips for a more curious second slip in meant the fibers of secrecy do ruminate! He tasted it, he liked it, he needed it, he didn’t ask about it, he didn’t want to, he needed it. I know I know, in time the Fear will (better) find its sweet spot on the bell curve sleeping snuggly in the convertable's backseat while we cruise up front with a wall of breeze between us (I’m no fool, I know the sensation of its presence will also dissolve in time like it had before and we’ll be back where we started; kinda can‘t wait), but for this moment at least I was trembling only slightly above hysterics with the idea of Nick at that same amazing maize maze that so bored me last fall disappearing around that same bend of corn stalks as something now no longer corny but frightening, freezing, my god petrifying because now I could touch it again, that one day he will in fact disappear behind those stalks. This horror was birthing some potent breast-stroke desire, and quickly. Maybe go to the movies together manana? And his stale colleagues from academia who’d never connected with a single thing their entire lives unless there was a published reference point functioning as mediator? Well their glacial separation from the rips, the cuts, the tears I was suckling like a fiend exposed their lack of abandoned joy as in fact the most brutal articulation of the Fear I’d witnessed yet and I could not wait for another excursion together. Call ‘em up Nick! And when we breast-stroked that night I felt a slight resistance in my wide brushes, little shocks as reminders to hold on tight, tiny snaking sizzles cautioning that none of this is mine, and again I found myself back with a man that I did not know, will never know, and yet whom I love and know unlike any other nonetheless. Fluid, that’s it. Fluid like the fluid that’s not only moving towards something, but also running the hell away from something else.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More on Knowledgeful

In White Pigeons Vera and Chris sat next to a family of Basques at a Burger King near 14th and 6th in Manhattan and decided that the word is "knowledgeable" rather than "knowledgeful" because true knowledge is nothing stable, it exists in a state of flux and lust.

If I'd moved to Italy before I wrote White Pigeons my tempo would have changed and that book would have never been written; conversely, it would have been impossible for me to move to Italy until that book was written. Two working titles for the book were "A Stroll with an Explosion" and "Can't We At Least Sculpt This Purge?" so you can see how you'd have to dive deep into a Napoletano or Calabrese dialect to find suitable translations in Italian. I opted to sculpt those explosions a little.

If these two versions of me somehow did manage to coexist though that passage would have been ever so slightly longer. Chris would have said something to Vera like, "Yo! How much you wanna bet that "noleggio", "to rent" in Italian, and "knowledgeable" are related words. We're just summer renters, aren't we babe? I mean, if we weren't we'd get this seasoned life over with and move to the tropics once and for all, ne? Wait! wait: "to season" and "seasons"?! The seasons are assassins the like French assaisoner!"
Vera, "Chris, yuck, don't...and anyhow the word "assassin" comes from a different land where there were never any seasons to assassinate."

More on "Gran Raccordo Annulare, You Spin Me Right 'Round" and "The Sword in the Sheath"

As Beniamino Ambrosi and I began editing "Gran Raccordo Annulare, You Spin Me Right 'Round" and "The Sword in the Sheath" for their inclusion into Feathers Like Leather it was clear that neither was going to be one of those magical pieces the writer only need usher along, pruning here and there while the he waits for the piece to miraculously wrap itself up neatly taking credit when its done. No, these ones wanted to keep going. They became monsters we spent more time battling ceaseless barnacles off of than tending to the sails. New, bigger, stickier barnacles kept calcifying at every turn just when we thought we'd finished. Well dry dock the boat, you say, but that would have just killed the stories. "Gran Raccordo" and "Sheath" must always remain wet. In the end we left you with the most streamlined version the topics could afford, all along knowing we'd need to find a place for the accruing barnacles at some point somewhere down the road. So here we go.

For "Gran Raccordo":

-- Throwing a middle finger up is called "flipping the bird". As stated in the essay, Italians call their member a bird. To communicate the same sentiment flipping a bird does for us, Italian men grab their crotches, i.e. their birds.

-- A man who eats a bird would therefore be considered gay. A tasty bird to eat is a pheasant. Italians therefore call gay men "pheasants", which are "faggiani" in Italian. If they are in a rush, they could call them just "fag-".

-- A duck in Spanish is "patos", again, a synonym for dick; just one letter away from "patois", the language of the dick. Otherwise, most languages refer to gays as ducks, yet/and ducks are one of the only birds with dicks -- and not just any dicks, dicks 20 to 40 cm's long!

-- But Wait! Both English slangs for cock, "woody" and "pecker", were once part of the same word, "woodpecker" -- a bird! Though, truthfully, "pecker" could have also come to us through imitation of "pecado", Spanish for "sin", or via the "prick" to "pick" to "peck" chain. "Prick" has always been used for "cock". In 16th and 17th century England women even used "my prick" as a term of endearment for their boyfriends.

-- a sparrow is a "passero" in Italian and hence, being a bird, also a cock. However, Italians feminize it to "passera" if they want to refer to a pussy. Sparrow and passero both come from the Greek "aspera" (wish) and earlier "aster" (star) from the Proto Indo-European sper, a starling. By the time the root made it to Germany as "spar" it was "to break off" and by the time it made it English it was "to box" and by the time "box" made it to American English it was yet another synonym for pussy. If a passero inside a passera is not a boxing wish wherein the end result is things breaking away from the participants involved, then the thing we are speaking of does not involve passion at all, just passing. And a sparrow is not one of these birds with dicks. When sparrows conjugate they therefore place star to respective star, they "wish" upon a "star".

-- If you still don't find the articles before "el coño" and "la poya" respectively shocking after reading Gran Raccordo, try referring to them in their pronoun form instead; tantamount to calling one's penis a "she" and one's vagina a "him".

-- "Fashion" shares the same root as "fica" (pussy) and "fuck", from the Latin "facere" for "to make", but though it looks like "fascinate" probably does not share the same root, it may share the same root with the "fag" we get from the Latin "fascis" for "a bundle of twigs". "Fascinate" once meant something more akin to "bewitch"; to get back to the knotted root, picture a witch whispering spells over a cauldron she's stirring with a bent stick. The witch doctor was seen as "the maker", from whence we also get the word "fetish" from "facere".

-- Though we generally think of a sycophant as an ass-kisser, it also has its roots in The Maker. A sykon in Greek was a "fig" and phanein was "to show". A sycophant is therefore someone who "shows the fig". To "show the fig" you place your thumb between two fingers creating what the Greeks believed looked like a vulva -- sykon was also "vulva" in ancient Greek!

-- "Geil" means "horny" in German and Dutch, but kids use it to mean "cool". Seeing as "cool" is something often exclaimed, the stress comes immediately: "GUY-l!", which sounds like the way Italians pronounce "gay". "Guay" is "cool" in Castellano which not only sounds like "geil" but is pronounced exactly like the Italian "guai" which means "in trouble" and we're back at "bad" meaning "cool" like "bad" means "good".

-- Like "la poya", "la pizza" and "la cella" are other feminine slangs for cock in Leccese and Marchigiano respectively. However, Italians switch back to Standard Italian when referring to them in pronoun form thereby restoring them to their proper sexes. If mother tongued English ears were to hear an Italian say, "ho toccato la mia pizza, l'ho tocato" it would translate as "I touched my lady dick/pizza, I touched him". To English ears "pizza" comes in triangles and pies with red sauce and is therefore a synonym for pussy, but the sense in Italian is that pizza is only something a maniac could deny and hence an effective plea for putting it in the oven ("fornication" comes from the Italian "forno" for "oven", which became "horno" in Spanish who have the tendency of adding h's to things which means that by the time it made it to the North it was "horny" as well as "oven". The logical opposition to this etymology would be that "horny" comes from "horn" which comes from "corn" which is mais is American, wheat in English, rye in German, and antlers in Italian -- all invoking the same protruding imagery we associate with horny. Doubtful though. The idea at the base of all of those is "kernel" for "hard shell", same root as "cranium"; not perfect, but when one puts hard shells from protrusions into the oven things do pop. Plants have many roots, one days words will too).

-- A logical pursuit on the heels of "el coño" from the "icon" and "fica" from "facere" could lead one to "fica" as "the figure" then, but you would be selling her short. The subtle difference between an icon and a figure is that a figure must have a form. A form for fica as synecdoche of everything is too limiting though. "Figure" does not come from "facere" like it sounds like it should; "figure" has been a "figura" since it was the Proto Indo-European *dheigh for "form". On the same lines, neither "false" nor "fake" nor "fiction"(all with separate roots!) come from "facere"; if one thing can not be make-believe it has to be The Maker.

-- But if men are naming the parts, "el coño" from "con" as "the not, the opposite" seems properly primitive.

-- Or if God's calling the shots, women as Satan's vesicles by which to tempt men could give us "el coño" from "cunning", which comes from the German "kennen" for "to know" which brings us back to the All Knowing "Maker" again and, again, we are growing less and less confused by the article gender confusion of these words. If "cunning like the fox" draws its "cunning" from "coniglio" for "rabbit" we're beginning to see how Brits find an excuse to slip "cunt" in between every other word in a sentence also. The cunning fox became so because he was able to slip into the rabbit's burrow. The rabbit we call bunny, from cunny from coney from the aforementioned coniglio, took it's name from "cuniculus", which was Latin for an "underground passage". In French this rabbit's burrow underground passage is called a "clapoire" from whence we picked up our slang for chlamydia, "the clap". Makes one wonder what sort of "underground passages" the French were mingling in. The French have also always used "pussy" as a synonym for pussy, just in the form of "chat". So a quick literal read of the etymology of caterpillar as "chatepelose" as "hairy cat" could have one wondering what they be tripping on, until you reread this chat as pussy...and the metaphor works a little better.

-- I mention that the Afarian word for nipple is "dikika" but that I had yet to hear anyone call a dick a nipple. However, I have heard clits called nipples and therefore, by extension, seeing as we discussed many words that mean "dick" in Italian but "clit" in English, we are almost at completed cycle.

-- Let's call this addition "Three Lefts Make a Right, Three Links Make it Tight". On the never ending saga of how all things left, back, and bad come from bent, and all things right, forward, and good come from straight, I draw your attention to the German "links" for "left" vs the English "link" for something used to hook things together. Both "links" here are related to bending yet not related to each other! However, our word "slink" is a top runner for best bad left curvy word and an immediate derivative of the German "link" for "left". Now, if you think I'm way off base with all my amblings through twisty-curvy land, stew on "articulation" whose Latin roots came from "separating into joints". "Gelenk" is "joint" in German, related to our word "link".

-- The most overlooked thing I ever did done do in my life: "cirlcle" is "circulo" is Spanish.

-- as if we didn't already prove that bad wasn't gay enough, Badb was the Irish Woman God of War. That's pretty gay.

For "The Sword in the Sheath":

-- The night after I concluded the essay with "words, swords" a couple other things came to me during my celebration.
Unrelated: quality of dancing rides a bell curve from African-American to African proper with all other shades falling in between. Cockiness had me hitting the dance floor jet black, which quickly exaggerated to a flaming giddiness after the first cheers, which when then totally toasted turned to my best recollection of the accompanying moves to Meatloaf's "Bat Outta Hell" which wasn't playing, at which point my blood-sugar levels sent me soaring into the throes of a Yoruba conniption.
Related: Deep in this dark trance Orisha spoke to me, "If sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you, then sticks and stones must not be words, which we know they are, which means they can not hurt you either" and my fever broke.

-- Between the Latin "ex" and the Italian "s", the Spanish negate with "es" which, consistent with the paradoxes that occur when one detaches or attaches Latin prefixes to words, "es" is also "is".

-- Therefore, (S)pain's relationship with (S)Iberia is made magnificent with "España"!

-- And speaking of Spain, one of the examples I used in the essay to communicate the confusion that ensues when a Latin article attaches itself to the host word erroneously over time was "inverno" (winter) vs "inferno" (hell) if assuming both words draw their lineage from "forno" for "oven". It's the end of March 2009 now and seeing as I am in New York and not Italy, I revisited the names of the seasons through Spanish ears rather than Italian -- where one jarring difference reveals an incredible truth: "summer" is "verano" in Spanish, not "estate" like Italian.
That is, "primavera" is therefore "before the truth", prima the vera.
"Verano" is "the truth".
("Otoño" is from an Etruscan root, not a Latin, so forget it."Vernacular" is also Etruscan and looks like it should belong here, but it doesn't, yet.)
"Inverno" is "against/not the truth".
And if the truth apparently occurs when it's warm, none of this negates my seasonal etymologies from the "oven" where we put things that are "seasoned".
To think, up until today no one was sure where the word "simmer" came from. Glad we've finally summed that up.
The "ver" sound found in both words related to "verita'" (verity, very, the straight truth, etc) and "versus" (vernal, verde, and things that bend and turn, etc) have been kissing cousins as far back as we can currently trace words to their Proto Indo-European sources, or should I start saying springs? No wonder the more "verse" I dedicate to this matter fails to set it any straighter.

-- "Scopa" is "escobar" in Spanish. Think no further on why it's such a common surname.

-- But back away from the immediate post-Latin Spain to the immediate pre-Latin Greece where much was once known and then lost again as the wide brush of history mandates. In ancient Greek, an "uncovering" (i.e. a "fuck" and a "scopata") would have been an apokalyptein from whence we get "apocalypse" in case you were skeptical of the gravity of this matter! Apo in this case serving as the "un" means that rather than doubling the prefix to get us to the ever salacious ununcovered(ish) ex-fuck as we must with the Italian "exscopata", we can take our cue from the Trinidadians and dance around this slippery topic with the aid of streamlined "un un-ed" calypso, from the Efik phrase ka isu for "go on, continue" as we know things do anyhow, so go on, continue.

-- But how could we have really been expected to bring all of ancient Greek's info along with us through the ages when they were so ruthlessly relentless with their unloading upon us of such complex riddles? Riddles that they themselves never got. Was there ever a king of the Aegean who didn't expedite his fate by misinterpreting a Delphic vision? I mean, they called themselves "Hellen" afterall and we're expected to just overlook the glaringly evil root therein? Or did they see "helle" as they do in Germany where it means "bright" -- a marked improvement from the Latin "Graeci" possibly meaning "grey", and one can imagine hell's fires generating quite a bit of light therefore making a euphemistic attempt at reversing one's ill fortune of spending an eternity in misery could be to see it as "bright", a possibility. But I'm not buying that, last I checked Greece represented something quite the opposite of hell to most. Or maybe that's just it; they called themselves Hell to dissuade invading Persian armies! If Xerxes and the leather-clad Scythians from barren steppes would have made it to the land of sweet figs and fermented grapes the Greeks would have never gotten rid of them -- send mis-info. Or maybe their advanced understanding of the endless cyclical astral peek-a-boo game led them to the same word play this (equally endless) essay can't move beyond: "Hell" comes from the Proto Indo-European kel which meant "to cover" like the shell on the outside with a hall on the inside the hellion in the cell is counting down the days 'til he can stick his helmet back in; um hello, what is covered now will be uncovered then and vice versa world without end of exscopatas.

On Black Flag's "Louie Louie" and the Death of Debate

This will be out in a future Heartworm reader on Black Flag:

At an early age my mother recognized my means of putting it all together was by taking it apart first, coming to my conclusion on things by abutting the whole with its pieces before I'd allow myself to become a proper believer. She waited patiently while I tore apart a box of tea bags on the kitchen floor separating the tea from the bags into two huge piles and then sitting perplexed at the uselessness of the two without each other in tandem. In the end, she salvaged one intact tea bag and held it up to my nose and I giggled. One Halloween I painted myself instead of the pumpkin because I thought it a better arrangement for the pumpkin to be put to bed while I waited on the steps to greet the ghosts. My parents took a Polaroid of my paint-drenched body next to the naked pumpkin and showed it to me adding a "doesn't the pumpkin look lonely that way?" to drive the point home. Not enough. It was the maple syrup I loved most about french toast so I showered in it one Sunday after church thinking this way I could lick it whenever I wanted. Rather than scold me, knowing scolding just gives us an enemy to rebel against, my mother waited until my father came home from his parish meeting to clean me up, giving me ample time to learn the lesson myself. By the time he arrived it was impossible to assess just how delicious my maple caked skin may have been because, neglecting to account for its adhesiveness, the history of inedibles I encountered between the pouring of the syrup over my body and the lashing about in sticky frustration had now formed a second coating my tongue could not penetrate to taste. When my father found me he donned me "sticky" and the nickname has stuck ever since, like a lesson I repeat over and over again refusing to learn: things are stuck together, whether I take them apart or let them be, I should just believe.
Nope. Though gradually I am increasingly zeroing in on all out believing and know I'm getting hotter and hotter by the day, it's never come easy. I have all the faculties to line up the evidence affirming the obvious that, yes, I'm most certainly of this place; yet why don't those mathematics bring with them comfort? Why does the base still feel so unstable? And it's not just me! Look around! All sorts of things are freaking out uncomfortable to be here like they have any other choice.
I wonder, if instead of my mother encouraging me to explore the things I didn't understand she pushed me to pursue only the things that inherently came easy (if it's allegedly all sticky anyhow Mom‘s, what would the difference've been?) would I have been a bigger Black Flag fan than I am? This isn't to say I'm not a Black Flag fan (hold your horses), I like 'em just fine; but growing up I felt like there was that comfort level in their dissent I couldn't jive with. While my angst was embattled in martyrous jihad, dissent seemed to come to Black Flag, and by extension their fans, comfortably as yet another inextricable piece of the whole. When I threw an egg at a cop I did it in the name of justice and Rites of Spring and Econochrist were my soundtrack. When sharing the same carton of eggs with a Black Flag fan I felt like they did it in the name of pure splatter. I'd construct my manifestos against the priests using a precise combination of words recently plucked from a vocabulary textbook as a foundation from which carefully placed vulgarities could then leap off of striking with sacrilege, Dag Nasty and Youth Brigade were my soundtrack. I remember the Kosciusko brothers (both Black Flag fans) arguing with me that ideas, and by extension arguments, did not have to come in the form of words. I hated them yet we skated together everyday and passed mix-tapes back and forth.
At the time the differences didn't seem so profound, just a subtle hue change in preference. In fact, I always appreciated the Black Flag fan's contributions to the mix-tape. They worked well alongside the songs I plucked from the socially and aesthetically awkward DC punk scene whose uncomfortabilty felt congruous to my concept of (lack of) place. Black Flag's "Louie Louie" stands out as a song at the time I remember both not computing and loving at once. When the mix-tape rolled to "Louie Louie" it was like a cue to set all the serious 360 nollie backside hand grab heel flips aside and invent some real gay shit. This is when step-off tricks would be momentarily pardoned, everything without a name became a "backside shadrack", caveman slides could be done with one's butt on the board, it was legal to slide your deck into another skater to fuck up his trick, and the execution of a perfect slappy reigned supreme.
All the fun during "Louie Louie" doesn't mean I got it in any permanent way though. Frankly, it seemed pretty stupid to me. I was still too caught up breaking down the whole into pieces before I could accept the whole. In my mind there were a series of retarded events leading up to the whole that stood at odds with the core of me:

a) Of all the cover songs Black Flag could chose from to cover, they chose "Louie Louie".
b) Not just once, but enough times to actually take it to the studio wherein they spent money rerecording a song that has already been rerecorded a million times.
c) This is early in their career (1981) and they're wasting their time like this?
d) They'll then spend even more money releasing the thing.
e) Of all the records duchebags can buy, enough will buy Black Flag's "Louie Louie" that it makes it onto mix tapes at least one coast away.
f) the Dischord catalog did not offer me the same follies.

I've since come to understand that "Louie Louie", in all its incarnations both past and future, is the best song ever written. Not even the Gin Blossoms could fuck it up. But by the time I would've been cognizant enough to go back and reassess the Black Flag catalog, other things had already filled the burgeoning gap that was so nascent in the days of those first backside shadracks. Falling off skateboards hurts now so I use Martha Graham to keep my awareness of empty space in check (and fine, to form arguments without words). And when the anthem was killed once and for all after the last vestiges of puberty finally burned off, I was free to find house music (and yes, all the silly subgenres therein). Discount it if you need to, but Black Flag's "Louie Louie" is both responsible for and stuck to the same piece of twine that can lead one to house music and modern dance. It may be taking me a long time accept the validity of all elements (in my heart, I got it in my head), but with "Louie Louie" enlisted as both substance and rebuttal to substance of my every move, I know I can't lose. Try it yourself! Keep “Louie Louie” on the tip of your tongue to be used as a response to whatever they throw at you and see what they're left with. No way! The only response to "Louie Louie" is more "Louie Louie" and we all win.