March 2001

In Europe we had empires. France, Spain, Britain, Turkey. There was the Ottoman Empire, full of furniture for some reason. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, famous for fuck all. All it did was slowly collapse on itself...
Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill

Wait! God Almighty it seemed like she had spent her entire life waiting. Waiting for what???? Waiting to live. Yes, that was it alright, waiting to live...Waiting to live. Thinking of this as a rehearsal for living. Practice...There was nothing new in that.
Hubert Selby, Jr., Requiem for a Dream

Adolescence is the point in your life where you are inevitably forced by circumstances to face the most crucial questions about life, period. And the extent to which you maintain that attitude that you had as a teenager is the extent to which you remain alive...You increase your ability to operate efficiently in the face of the environment you perceive as you get older, but that doesn't mean that the turmoil inside you is lessened any.
Richard Hell in Lester Bangs' "Growing Up True is Hard to Do"

I suspect almost everyday that I'm living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don't like myself. What's more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we've got.
Lester Bangs in Lester Bangs' "Growing Up True is Hard to Do"

I don't write for an audience, I write for the person who understands.
Anne Sexton

Is it a groove or is it a rut?
The Corn Sisters (Carolyn Mark and Neko Case), "Not a Doll"

And to finish the line from the Corn Sisters, "everything happens either not at all or at the same time" which would mean they probably are bi-polar (which assumes they wrote the song cuz it is from "The Other Women" disc and there are a ton of covers on it the "Long Black Veil" being an absolute jawdropper in my book and it is not just cuz it is dedicated to shut-ins and being one of those...) nonetheless I am now having both of the lines printed as bumperstickers for the car I don't have but I'm sure will look stunning wrapped around the tube of my mountain bike. The Corn Sisters disc is really something. I got it back in January when Lord Ouch mentioned that it was out after he told me about roadtripping to Chicago to see Giant Sand play live and the show turned out to be Calexico (or something I am not up on my Giant Sand projects) with Janet Bean and Neko Case singing on New Years Eve. I stewed in a pit of petty jealousy and bitter envy for snowy month after snowy month over that one. AND Creemie and I were gonna go to Chicago for New Years but she wanted warmth and went to LA where she fell in love with some woman who is an alternative massage therapist but injured her back and now works as a waitress at the Staples Center and loves Felix the Cat and Wayne Gretsky or something like that.

I was reading this sort of stupid bio of Anne Sexton for a while. It took me a biblically long time to get through it cuz it is soooo psychobabble ridden (fave part was when the shrinkwriter analyzed the type of cigarette Anne Sexton smoked and related it back to her father I can't remember the exactness of it it was on the level of beyond absurd) however the biographer tried she couldn't kill the character of Anne Sexton. One of the things that I sort of loved was when one of Anne's friends commented on Anne's performances (which were sort of overthetop in those days) and she said that the togetherness and withitness that Anne exuded in her performance was so far from what she was capable of in her own life. And the first thing to say there is: it is so much easier to fix someone else's life than it is to fix your own. And I know I myself am very good at offering suggestions to other people that I would never dream of following myself. But there is more to that and it comes from the other moment in the book that grabbed me when some woman wrote to Anne asking advice about an abortion or something and Anne in a fit responded that the woman shouldn't look to artists/writers for advice because they are just as incapable of finding solutions as anyone else. Though, like everything else Anne Sexton contradicted this by teaching writing at a couple mental health institutions and colleges in the hopes that someone else could "save themselves" by writing like she did. I know I personally read stuff and I think wow that is great and like I said i get bumperstickers and crap and I think the expression is something totally different from looking to the actual person that created something for any kind of clue about anything and being a huge biography fiend I have this problem of overpersonalizing EVERY FUCKING THING and thinking there are clues in someone's life as well as their work. So that was a life lesson for me reading that Anne Sexton stuff and it took a life to finish it too.

The other book that spoke to me was Requiem for a Dream. Which everyone reads as a book about addiction and whatnot (in that Lester Bangs essay that Lord Ouch sent me and that I read a million times Richard Hell discusses life as an addiction and claims that he took that from Gertrude Stein's college thesis or something like that but that is a definite undertone of Tender Buttons) however, these days EVERYTHING is an addiction, spare me please, and addiction is BAD. I don't know I'd probably have to think about this some more and I really don't want to but I think that while the term addiction is thrown around for a lot of crap that isn't really ADDICTION, the completely fevered pursuit of something at the expense of all else isn't always useless. Ruin isn't always waste and decay isn't always meaningless decadence. To me, Requiem for a Dream isn't much different from Resuscitation of a Hanged Man in the sense that the main jist is more like the ways that faith and belief sort of join hands with delusion and self-deception. For me, I admired the characters in Requiem cuz they had the passion and faith to believe fully in their symptoms and in their reality and in the end didn't abandon that belief no matter where it took them. I am sure that most people would point out that the characters are supposed to be duped and their dream was false and that is why they fell. But they did not have some stunning revelation, there was no seeing the light for that crew and well to go back to that William Vollman quote...who dies best? cuz we all die in the end...dear god, this is not where i intended to go. The last thing about Requiem cuz i have just given myself the heebiejeebies is that the part that i think was masterful was the Sara Goldfarb character. I completely fell in love with her and the women sitting in front of the building getting sun and gossiping. I knew she was gonna come to some horrible end, but there is no way I could have imagined the terror. I haven't seen the film yet, but there is no way Sara Goldfarb could not have been a plump role for anyone let alone Ellen Burstyn. And the absolute absolute last thing, the sort other thing that works this whole thing about faith, belief, blahblah is the Sopranos I absolutely love this show. Not just cuz of Jersey pride and the fact that James Gandolfini grew up here, but cuz the show is about how do the characters keep going when they know their reality is riddled with cracks and faults and how do they keep it together when they know they have to believe things they don't really want to believe or think are worth much. What compromises and choices do they have to make to get through the day?

Last nite, I couldn't sleep. See I don't write anything if I can sleep. Everyone thinks neurosis is the creative impulse but really it is insomnia. And Anthony sent me this tape of the Lisa Marr Experience. And I have to admit that I didn't really like it at first but it sort of grew on me, and her voice isn't that NekoCaseCatherineIrwinTammyWynette twang that i crave, but the songs are sorta catchy and well i have given up my disco phase and headed back to country so it hit a spot. I have even been known to like Alan Jackson and Randy Travis of late. See I'm trueblue, I'm not just some snob tho I do love Richard Buckner more and more and more (as if that is possible). And anyway, the point here is that the songs on the Lisa Marr Experience are country-tinged but some of them are sort of torchy too and well there are a couple that feature some clarinet tracks. And well, I just don't hear much clarinet in most of the music i listen to. So i was happy. and i was lying there trying to sleep i had all these memories of high school when i was in the marching band. it wasn't just any marching band it was one of those hard core military band gigs...tons of the kids went into the marine corp band, drum corps, and it was also seriously musical i remember one year our field show was like capriccio espanol, pictures at an exhibition, rodeo, sherazade, paul simon and we had to memorize that crap and we never were allowed to carry music stands we had to memorize every fucking thing when we marched and in parades we always played traditional sousa marches which if you play clarinet is like runs and trills from a large portion of the kids either dropped out or else became semi-serious music students and a lot went to music mills like berklee school of music. you haven't lived when you are trying to march in the freezing winter cold and spit has frozen on your clarinet. the band thing was weird cuz the band director made bobby knight look completely sane and yes he threw chairs too. the lowlights of the whole thing were marching in the miss american pageant day parade in atlantic city (the nite before the pageant they have a huge parade down the boardwalk with bands leading in front of each contestant who ride in convertibles) and the arms for hostage tickertape parade when the iranian hostages were released. the most amusing thing about that was for the most part band people were considered geeks and no one wanted anyone to do with anything but when we got invited to march in that tickertape parade all of a sudden the cheerleaders who wouldn't give us the time of day had to come. and the only really good thing was when we went to ireland and marched in the st.patricks day parade in dublin. cuz ireland is like gods gift to the world if you ask me. the whole military/rahrah american thing sort of bummed me out once i really thought about it and by my senior year i was sort of wanting to be way out of the whole thing but most of my friends were in the band and it was hard to totally leave, but thinking about that fieldshow with pictures at an exhibition and stuff...i remember we played i think something from west side story and i'm coming to america and we unfurled some huge american flag and a fake statue of liberty at the end i think the whole thing was supposed to be some sort of comment about how this is all a nation of wonder the director was crazed trying to present a social critique to rednecks who live in the middle of nowhere via a hs band fieldshow. i was stuck in overly conceptual hell even back then. the really good memory i had of those days was our crazy band director also organized the palisades park fireman's band which had little to no actual firemen in the band but it had lots of my hs alums in it and some students and various friends of the director (who i remember being a swank trumpeter) and we would all drive all over the area doing like two or three parades on days like memorial day, labor day, the july 4th and all during the summer. and it was great to see these cars pull up and people pull like huge cases with tubas and drums and stuff in them and they would hand out the music (those same damn sousa march books i had to memorize) and we could READ the music when we played with the fireman's band and we would all sort of just get in something like a couple overemphasis on straight ranks and staying in step and we would just walk and play...and it was fun. and then someone was designated to stand in the front line and call out the order of marches...and signal the beginning and end...and that was a good time. i was wondering if that is all still happening that sort of gig is like real people making music and the sort of stuff that i think is neat. see i bet anthony is sorry he gave me that lisa marr tape.

Pretty as an angel from the day that she was born
Skin as fair as Lily's hair, as golden as the corn
They knew that she was special from the moment she first cried
She was a mountain angel certified
She was her momma's baby, she was her daddy's pride
Good at home, at church and school, at everything she tried
Everybody's darlin' led a charmed and peaceful life
The perfect mountain angel 'til he arrived
And ohh, she fell so deeply
Ooh, she couldn't stop
She gave herself to him, milled it completely
He lifted her so high he let her drop

She gave up everything for him that mattered in her life
All the others that had loved her and she vowed to be his wife
She dreamed of bearing children in an ivy-covered house
The mountain angel's sunshine turned to clouds
The wicked handsome stranger left the way he came
Broke her heart and broke her mind
She never was the same
They say he was the devil
That had come to steal her soul
She never loved another it was told
They say she had a baby
Some say that it had died
They it's just as well
As it had been the devil's child
They say good conquers evil
But here, evil won the prize
So the mountain angel took to the wild
And ooh, she couldn't take it
Years passed and she had long since lost her mind
She waited for him as her beauty faded
Her parents died from grief before their time

She tried to gather pieces of her life, they wouldn't fit
Beside the tiny grave deep in the woods is where she'd sit
Talking to the child, herself, to him, who knew for sure,br> Possessed they say by satan's insane lure
High a'top the mountain, for years they say she's seen
Looking down upon the town where she had once been queen
She'd sneak around the playground, watch the little children play
They'd see the crazy lady then run away
They say she roamed these hills for years, wearing not a stitch
The lovely mountain angel now thought to be a witch
She made those wailing mournful sounds
That you could hear for miles
Long after she laid down upon her baby's grave and died

And ooh, her ghost is callin'
She's waiting for the ones that she adored
Through spring and summer, fall when snow is fallin'
Her spirit roams these hills forever more
The mountain angel's voices ever more

Dolly Parton, "Mountain Angel"

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