Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gifts and Ripoffs

"Thanx to all the cats ... in our brotherhood." - Boris Koslov

I was digging around some old notebooks the other day, looking for a phone number I knew I'd scrawled - an old (212) number from 'back in the day', before telephone land lines (or spiral notebooks, for that matter) became obsolete ... and I was struck by what a fan I'd been.

In learning the craft of writing, and of becoming (more or less) myself, I seem to have tuned into a few of the biggies ... certain manna, and ticks and inflections of theirs, picked up by my young and thirsty antennae, all bursting with needing to take it all in.

All words and text below are mine (by Jeff Glovsky), as they were written -- sometimes thirty (!) years ago -- in the (sometimes overtly) sampled stylings of ...

John Lennon: 
Taking a might bath arggh, wee Bob?  I'll go ant pack me baggies!

Bruce Springsteen: 
Crucifix Jemina crossed me off the sidewalk.   Didn't have a leg to stand on anymore.

Charles Baudelaire: 
This city, even under the weight of fat tourists, reeks of thirty years ago:  all the noise and crime and ghetto-blasting; drugs, ill-tempered ugliness ... Its beauty become horrible, its awfulness old hat.

Henry Miller: 
New York now is dozens of little acceptances, all at once working to keep you down.  You're not a success, for one example -- or even taken seriously -- if you're not shelling monthly, say, two thousand for your hellhole.

Jack Kerouac: 
It's Tuesday, 10:15am ... What job to go, to do all day?  Resumés - Too many in the past too many each weeks.  Yet the phone's as sick and dead as soul.  Now she won't call.

There's been Steinbeck and Steely Dan, Dylan and Ginsberg, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain ... and, when needing to take Mathers into my own hands ... a little Eminem even enters my prose mix.  I've got a work-in-progress with a title Charlie Mingus might be proud of, and I reference Mingus (Mingus, Mingus) often ...

... the Clown's Afraid Too
All of these influences have shaped and informed not only my writing, but my disposition as well.  While certainly not "sunny" overall, I can make (and sometimes take!) a joke, and efface myself on a regular basis; overall, though my life has sucked at times, it's a blessing to be in for an eighty year plan - which, if I ever do happen to become "sunny" (or in the parlance of algorithmics, "optimistic"), might convert to 90+.

Thus simply, if not moronically, assured, I was strolling through Greenwich Village last night and I ran into a bass player I've known for the past ten years.  Boris is a valued member of the New York-based Mingus bands, all of the various configurations officially sanctioned by Sue Mingus, the Yoko Ono of Jazz (in a good way) ... in addition to playing out with his own groups and projects.

As we were chatting and catching up (I'd been a sound engineer for the Mingus Big Band), a woman came up to us and asked if we knew where Beyoncé was playing.  Totally rando (as the kids say) - having nothing to do actually with what the jazz bass player and I were discussing ... nor with the jazz bassist or myself at all.  Beyoncé and her (substantial) slice of the music universe light years beyond and away from the both of us, it was nonetheless common ground for the woman to approach, introduce herself and begin sharing her own dreams and small histories in entertainment ... Connecting in a way that only artists know how, because like attracts like, but we're all attuned:  to different stations, perhaps, but all with thirsty antennae and the radio on ...

Now if I could only find that phone number.