"Summer of Slack" Top 10
1) Leisure. It's trite but it's true: not having anything to do rocks. Sure, I've been going to work for most of the last couple of months, but having an extra day off every week that I wasn't actually "on vacation" has been a bonusburger. I can honestly say I've promoted more slack this summer than at any time since I was 20 or so. And along with that, I've had plenty of time for...
2) Sleep (The Act). My middle daughter theorizes that the reason my short term memory is so bad is that I lived through an ongoing sleep-deprivation experiment for 20 or 25 years. As she says, "Those short-term memories never got downloaded into long-term memory." Perhaps there's truth in this. Time was when I'd get up at 6am even when I didn't have to. Lately, I've been sleeping until 9 or 10am on days I didn't have to work earlier...unprecedented in my experience. And I'm dreaming more (as I've noted in some earlier posts). I could get used to this shit. Being a relative gentleman of leisure has given me lots of time to explore some favorite musical rabbit holes, such as...
3) Jeff Beck. Idol of my youth, a veritable Zen master of the electric guitar, I got back into _the other_ JB via his live-at-Ronnie-Scott's DVD last year, and was even more floored by his Emotion and Commotion CD this year. These days, the man deals in pure melody and feeling; his technique, while jawdropping, is transparent. Where once he bulldozed his way through the blooze, now he essays Italian opera arias. And I've also been going back and listening to bootlegs of his Truth-era band, my pick for the best rock band in the world in 1968 (MC5 notwithstanding).
4) Joe and the Sonic Dirt From Madagascar. Solo vehicle for my HIO cohort in crime Matt Hickey, I've waxed ecstatic on this blog about his Research and Development: 2006-2009 and A to E Are X, Why, and Z. I've never been in a band whose recordings I liked to listen to as much as I do HIO's; even when I don't like what we're playing, I like that we played it. And while Terry Horn has been more influential on me, I've never played with anyone who recorded stuff that astonished me as much as Hickey's stuff astonishes me.
5) Pretty Things. Getting the new Ugly Things mag (which, this time around, includes Laurent Bigot's in-depth e-mail int with the Nervebreakers) always catches me up with the newest Pretty Things developments, which this time included a deluxe reish of their 1970 album Parachute, once which always played second fiddle in my personal cosmology to their '68 psych masterpiece S.F. Sorrow. As fortune would have it, I was able to score a '70s double LP reish of both albums from Doc's, and spent an inordinate amount of time this summer getting up close and personal with Parachute. Big Mike Richardson accused me of hipsterism for saying I dig the Pretties more than the Stones and the 'oo, but there it is. I like what I like.
6) The Kinks. Speaking of the new Ugly Things, this time around, they've run Jon Savage's unedited interviews with Ray Davies, which he conducted in support of an '84 Kinks tome that I haven't read. Which of course sent me back to my Kinks kollektion (on vinyl of course) of goodies from Face to Face through The Great Lost Kinks Album. Is there a better song than "Strangers" from Lola vs. Powerman? I think not. But "God's Children" from Percy via The Kink Kronikles comes close.
7) Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. Howard Mandel's tome on the three most significant jazzmen of their time takes a more personal and idiosyncratic approach than most of his other scrawl. Mandel's the only jazz scribe besides Francis Davis that I've read with regularity since Hentoff moved on to First Amendment issues and Gary Giddins folded his "Weather Bird" tent. I think O.C. and C.T. both have legitimate claims to being the greatest musos of their time, bar none. Luckily, while were in Princeton, I was able to score a nice stack of Ornette vinyl, including Dancing In Your Head and Of Human Feelings, and after reading Mandel's book, I found a copy of Cecil's Burning Poles vid from the '80s (his dreadlocks-and-Tony-Oxley phase) online for less than I thought I'd have to pay.
8) Frank Zappa. Sure, he made more than his share of shit music (as a means to finance the stuff he really cared about). And his stuff was derivative of, well, all those people that he listed in the liners to Freak Out! But the whole "Beefheart was the _real_ avant-gardist" thesis seems spurious in light of the fact that all of Don's stuff was through-composed, with the help of _significant others_ (Messrs. French and Harkleroad), while FZ followed his own muse wherever it took him, from Varese/doo-wop pastiche to aleatoric improv. Hearing his conductions, as documented on Weasels Ripped My Flesh and in the Baby Snakes film, prepared me for Don Cherry, Harry Partch, and ultimately, HIO. Lather and You Are What You Is remain undervalued masterpieces.
9) Flicks. I'll admit it: I don't like hanging around in bars much anymore. I don't feel like I'm missing something if I don't go out. This means that I generally only go out to shows when I'm playing, and I only go to bars when I'm having drinkie-talkie with HIO. I prefer sitting at home with a book or a crossword and a cat in my lap. Or a flick. We've watched a shit-ton of them this summer. We're old fashioned. We don't like movies with lots of things that blow up, much graphic violence, CGI F/X, or shock horror. We prefer flicks with interesting characters and realistic situations. And evenings with like-minded friends. I just ordered us a DVD of Mary and Max after my sweetie watched it with Laura while Darrin and I were talking music, 'puters, and families last night.
10) Spending Time With My Sweetie. I'm a lucky asshole. Really.