Saturday, December 21, 2019

Troubadours and Troubles in a Night in Tunisia, Wresting with Civil War or Democracy, Jean Genet in a Foggy December

Scenes from a strange week in Times Square
with James, Babs, Walt, Andi Rae's Xmas Xtravaganza!, Chris Botti, Bread and Puppet, Albert Marquees Trio and Jean Genet.
LA Kauffman photo and caption, 
"Last night with a few favorite miscreants."

Kinda says it all....sigh... 

It's hard to watch the wreckage,
the world getting away from us,
Progress a hostage to our darker angels.
Last Friday’s paper as bad as they come.
Impeachment, Brexit, democracy grief, Tessa killed in Morningside Heights.
Criminals appointing the judges on their trials.
Is Brexit us?
Toxins spreading. 
The pollutants are everywhere.

“Stop and take in the traumatized sky,” writes Chis Kerr,
In a poem in my in box, Our Atmosphere:
“Our lives like sunspit hit the earth
Casting back light’s lengthened waves
Captured by gluts of what lets us live....”

Skipping  my union meeting, I find myself at a Honky Tonk bar on 5th Ave,
Andi Rae singing her heart out at Freddy’s Backroom.
Songs of love and lust.
To a half empty room.
Its all so familiar. 
Dejection and rejection.
Still out there playing.
Something eternal,
Sounding like Lone Justice.
Might have been Maria or Waylon.
Could have been the Gallopin’ Goose or Bar of Soap back home.
Some wandering in for a beer,
In between a whisky one musician after another.
Playing for chuckles.
Could be the best bar band in America.

“Please take my cd’s.  I don’t want them in my house,” Andi implores the crowd at
December 12th
Biking home into the fog through
Holy Brooklyn.

Writing all day long,
Barely Disfigured here.
Kids there.
A daiquiri here,
A conversation  there.
Oysters to share,
Friends everywhere.
Laughing at it all.

Babs meets us at the bathhouses on 42nd Street.
On a boulevard of Broken dreams.
A Hacienda where people cavort.
At least someone knows what they are doing.

Saturday slow rains.
The little one hits the mean streets.
Walking to the L Train Vintage.

Before Dad and Jean go for a date with Querelle.
Jean Genet’s 1945 novel of crime and sex. 
There is Gladys on 8th street.
Finding new friends.
One of my old students helps her on the way to the reading,
Where we review the goings on Querelle.
Stimulating an understatement.
No moral compass, pointing us toward oblivion or something new.
Porn literature.
But it wasn’t the sex that was important,
It was what happened around it.
The bodies in time,
In cities, on the water, sailors passing from one body of water to land
For shore leave as they used to do on Sands Street.
The  sailor as a universal subject,
like Ishmael, Moby  Dick, transcending social mores, a new way of looking. 

“When I started reading it, it opened up, the descriptions of the city, the port, the fog, a little murder, I’m down for this,” notes Emily, not quite aware what she was getting into. “Noir, sex, he put it out there. The Lieutenant’s obsession with Querelle, describing the scene.

The description of the city on Page 25:
“While it is the least elegant of the brothels in Brest, where no  men of the Battle Fleet ever go to give it  little grace and freshness, Le Feria certainly is the most renowed.  Is is a solumn gold and purple cave providing for the colonials, the boys of the Merchant Navy and the tramp steamers, and Longshoremen.  Whereas the sailors visit to have a “piece” of a “short time,” the dock workers and other say: “Lets go shoot our wads.”  At night, La Feria also provides the imagination  with the thrills of scintillating criminality.  One may always suspect three of four hoodlums lurking in the fog-shrouded pissoir erected on the sidewalk across the street.”

Robert sleeping with Madam, Lieutenant, diary.
Dick power, problematic.

At the brother, he was free to leave his body, he grabbed for his body, “for his balls.”

When someone dies, I want to fuck somebody.
The universal lament.
Grasping for eros in Thanatos.

In 1947, it was the story of a criminal,
Underworld queer.
Illegal to be yourself

Today, the backlash.
From the Clit Club to Stella McCartney store.
Gentrification of the Mind.

But it wasn’t always that way.
Cursing in the fog.
Dion and David W at the Piers off Hudson Street.
Where people met.
And sometimes disappeared.
A broken floorboard separating you from the icy water below.
Encountering a body in the dark. 
A fuck in the pitch black.

Taxi driver in Paris,
Driving him to a club.
That didn’t exist,
Looking for sex.
Which the taxi eventually offered.
A fuck in the back.
Extortion and threats
After a hookup.

Pier Passolini run over by car, beaten, death.
Extortion again.
Querelle kills the sailor.
 Nausea follows.

In between it all,
exquisite beauty.

At the piers, David W found something,
Writing  in his Waterfront Journals,
“I lean back and tilt my head so all I see are the clouds in the sky. I'm looking back inside my head with my eyes wide open. I still don't know where I'm going; I decided I'm not crazy or alien. It's just that I'm more like one of those kids they find in remote jungles or forests []. A wolf child. And they've dragged me into this fucking schizo-culture, snarling and spitting and walking around on curled knuckles.”

Back in Brooklyn, where David lived off  Court Street,
Discussing Querelle all afternoon.

“…perhaps the finest novel I have ever read in my life,” writes –Dotson Rader. “It literally sent shivers through me, the sheer beauty of the language, the exquisite perversity of the imagination…”

And  then meet up for  jazz
Albert Marques
Saturday, Dec 14 @ 6PM
Soapbox Gallery
636 Dean St, Brooklyn
Night in Tunisia
“The moon is the same moon above you
Aglow with it's cool evening light
But shining at night, in Tunisia
Never does it shine so bright”

Sometimes I don’t even know where I’m going.
The movies down  into a dark place,
Where Manson and Charlies angels lurk.
Sleeping, dreaming, lost in Belgium.
Unable to find my way home.

Off to Judson, where Micah reminds us of the imperatives of the season,
Even if few of us feel joyful.
Stories of brothels and nativity scenes.
Mary’s coming and it’s a mess, gushes Micah at Judson the next day.


1O TO make a most jubilant poem!
O full of music! Full of manhood, womanhood…
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a poem.
3O to be on the sea! the wind, the wide waters
O to sail in a ship under full sail at sea.
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time
—I will have thousands of globes, and all time.

Here you go.
Here is a place.
For connection vs hopeless noise.
Mudita, hopeless joy.
Vicarious, pleasure,
Solidarity with each other.
Delight in the happiness of others.
The seed could break through in a chain reaction,
The eros effect expanding.
Spiraling like lightning.
Opening us up to everyone.
We are everyone and nothing. 
Somewhere and nowhere.
Drawing joy in each other.
Are you saying  nothing when you could say yes?
What do we do with this mess today?
Lets make a  pact to juggle  it out together.

Outside,  converged under the arch,
Sing out Louise are laughing at the lunacy of it all.
Its beginning to look lot less Christian.

The teenager and Dad talking the blues,
Walking  to Café  Reggio.
Teenager reminding me its  ok to forgive.
Its  not forgetting.
But we can forgive  ourselves.
For our trespasses.

The feeling remains.
We walk East to West,
Through the old neighborhood.
The holy village, reminding us.
Hippies and punks on the corners.

Bread and Puppet at the Theater for the New City.
Its good to see a few hippies left in the East  Village, I say to Jim Eigo,
Sitting at the show. 
“Sarah Schulman told me Querelle helped form her,” Jim  follows.

The Grasshopper Rebellion Circus on 6000 years of human revolution against the mess we make of it all, celastic tigers feasting,  grasshoppers bouncing from here to there…the Bread and Puppet Circus Band usherring Saints Marching In,
Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

I pick up We by Peter Schulmann, a book of Schulman’s images of “vulnerable  humanity.”
“Across a half a century of the theater’s work these figures, and those who oppress them, have been the pervasive characters of Peter Schulmann’s  concern, present in hundreds of forms, the background and face of his universe,” write Marc Estrin and Donna Bister.

“But recently, the background has arisen, and broken into the foreground – as refugees created by the US – spawned chaos, the truly “wretched of the earth”, have desperately  crossed borders, seeking safety and a temporary home.  The consequences,  along with the climate mayhem, will  define our 21st century. Peter Schulmann, himself once  a refugee, has compressed his  analysis and his rage into this little book.”

Into this play.
The kids taking  the lead.
Pushing  back.
At the center of the stage.
“A star is born,” gushes Jim.
Sarah’s kids running to and from around the stage. 

Querelle was feeling better.
“In the midst of all his  sadness – or shame – he now recognized the existence of a new, yet already proven certainty. He  was discovering  himself again.  All his being was now running…”

Maybe we all were.

The Blue Note with Al and Bobby,
Blood Sweat and Tears.
Telling  stories about David
Babysitting for Caroline in 1973.
Chris Botti covers of  Nat King Cole.
There  will never be another you.
And Miles.
Blue and Green from Kinda Blue.
Where Miles opened a new way of looking at it all:
No chords ... gives you a lot more freedom and space to hear things. When you go this way, you can go on forever. You don't have to worry about changes and you can do more with the [melody] line. …there will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.

We chat about Ornette before the show.
Ten years before I came along, the shape of jazz to come would remind us of something else.
We’d be able to descend and find our way back.  
Finding new ways of hearing and creating music.

"I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend..."

John Milton, Paradise Lost

By Tuesday, meetings were canceled.
Kitty was going.
While he was departing.
We were out in the street, marching to IMPEACH.
The night before the vote. 
From 42nd street as far as the eye could see.
Rain poured.
Light filled the streets.
Ascending to the peaks.   
Brexit is not us says Alexis.
Crowds screaming to and  fro.
Looking down the Boulevard,
Yana arriving.
All of us marching. 
Enough dreams broken.
Enough for now.

IMPEACH voted  the House. 
Who knows  what’s in store
No  one’s sure.
Civil war  or democracy?


Storm the Senate January 6th?
What’s next we wonder in  our 20th Anniversary Salon
Did we shut down the WTO or stop it for a  weekend,
Two decades ago.
Lots of questions.
The next night with
LAK and Andrew and  Virginia and Christine and Paul and Zach and Babs  and Yana and  Elissa.
Andrew yacks with Virginia.
We all laugh for  a moment. 
Andrew, he’s a real philosopher says my therapist.
My therapist really  loved Boyd’s
Little Deconstruction Book.
“That Andrew Boyd is really clever,” he said every week.
“Your friend Andrew is really a philosopher.
Yes, I know. 
Andrew is well liked, I replied.
He loved Boyd’s homage to Postmodernism.
PoMo to go still resonates
And reminds as we sit in  the muck:
Fragments  and reminders, 365 lines:

But activism is  an ongoing  narrative.
Not an paradise lost.
Even if we do get lost in a night in Tunisia.
Between  poems and people,
Criminals and heroes,
See you in the streets!y, frame locally.

But activism is  an ongoing  narrative.
Not an paradise lost.
Even if we do get lost in a night in Tunisia.
Between  poems and people,
Criminals and heroes,

See you in the streets!
Research by the little one.  

a salon and a loo back


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