Friday, November 30, 2012

Remember (the Axis-Bold-as-Love kind)


November always leaves too quickly for me.  It is my favorite of the cruel months—nearing the end, but far enough for quiet sinning reverie--- still the magic feeling of 9 and newness, and the soft ember of the word.  The annual Hendrix birthday gig brings up a sad tale I have been unable to write or commemorate—not in a song or a poem… so I will try here, in the lingery last hours of the month of long lunescent Rockwell Kent-ish nights….

My friend met this woman on a crosstown bus—she picked him up, she’d boasted… he looked so eligible and kind and ‘presentable’; she, the black-haired, black-clad, black-eyed stranger who in another time might have had a veil.   The sex was great—you could feel that… he treated her with uptown attention, and she led him across the soft boundary of downtown edge.  They’d show up late at my gigs—both of them tall and giggling… and they’d dance, like some old-world ballroom couple… they’d drink, go out to get high, come back and dance until the end.  Although she was much younger, she instantly embraced my dark sisterhood, and  confided with abandon things I felt I hadn’t deserved.

Anyway, it went on--- the relationship had its webs--- maybe a wanted or unwanted pregnancy, a dangerous flirtation with one of his friends…. some street drama, some interior drama…the usual.  When they’d show up, I was happy.  She always asked us to play ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and we would oblige.  Jimi would have loved her--- she was leggy and unafraid and so dangerous in that black-Irish witchy sort of way. 

I visited her once or twice at her place; it was an appalling mess.  Clothes everywhere, food containers, ashtrays overflowing--- bottles, the scent of marijuana and sex and perfume.  She was obsessed with shoes and had maxed out not just her own credit cards in a sort of charming way because everything was smashing on her, and worth every cent. 

But most of all, she wanted my hat-- the old black Stetson which I could let her wear, but couldn’t give up.  Until one day she called me urgently---I had to come over that minute… and she greeted me stark naked except for the new hat—she’d managed to find a twin—and her great hoarse infectious laugh and a joint and a filthy martini glass.  So her fall outerwear debut—the hat and a new black Raymond-Chandler-esque raincoat, with whichever of her spectacular shoe choices--- was well received by all.

As the year wore on, her silly insistence on my friend making an honest woman of her began to wear on him.  He was distancing himself slightly from her indiscretions, her excursions, her junky ex-boyfriends, the debt and the hangovers.  I, of course, forgave her everything.  All I had to do was watch her dance, listen to her stories, receive.  You are my angel sister, she used to tell me; when you find a diamond on the street--- it will be me, giving.  

One day he called me—in utter grief.  She’d been standing on the platform at West 4th Street, 11 AM, about to change trains—and the rush of tunnel wind blew off her hat.  Undoubtedly she was stoned--she generally smoked a joint before her morning coffee--  so as she reached for the hat, with impaired leggy grace,  she leaned in and something jutting from the oncoming train slammed into her head with mythological force.  And there she was, stunned and silenced, the white skin and the black hair, with streaks of red now, bleeding profusely into the lap of an NYU law student who spoke eloquently to the NY Post, the hat trampled and lost somewhere by the voyeuristic crowd.  She was DOA, in her black trenchcoat--- hatless. 

Somehow I felt responsible.  Somehow I couldn’t grieve.  It was more than I could stand.  Her family came and probably witnessed with horror the mess of her apartment, apparently made judgments, because they refused to disclose the circumstances of her funeral.  I craved a piece of her, I wanted to call the law student who maybe had a bloody souvenir.  But I couldn’t find her. 

I have yet to find a diamond, but I am always looking down and occasionally pick up a shining dime which I know is a wink from somewhere.  And I silently dedicate the Hendrix always to her.  Maybe they are together somehow, and he is playing 'The Wind Cries Mary' or 'Angel' or something new he wrote just for her.  And she is dancing—with the shoes, and the trenchcoat she never paid for, naked underneath,a cigarette in her mouth, the mascara’d eyes closed, locks of black hair falling everywhere, wearing Jimi’s hat.  She had a hat, I complained to some version of God, who took her for his own one rainy November wish, eleven moons in, never to grow old.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

General Knowledge

I had this book of riddles when I was small... and besides the chicken and moron jokes, there were a few philosophical sphinx-worthy entries that have stayed with me.  One was 'To What Question can you never answer 'yes'?  The answer was 'Are You Sleeping?' but of course this was the PG version of 'Are You Dead?'  I don't quite know why, but trying to filter the meaning of the Petraeus resignation today, I kept coming up with alternate riddles like: 'To What Question can you never answer yes and keep your military appointment?' Or for Eliot Spitzer... '..and keep your political office'... or for Anthony Wiener... or Bill Clinton, who maybe never actually answered the question... etc., and kept his office, his wife, the money, and besides a karmic and perhaps metaphorical cardiac crisis, he seems to have maybe increased his rockstar politician status.

But really, what is it about this 21st century culture that makes adultery so newsworthy?  And considering the horrific bloopers and perverse incidents that have smudged the broad heroics of our troops in the Middle East, is a little romance or a little affection really criminal?  It hadn't really occurred to me that there were 'General' groupies... but why not?  And why can't the media leave politicians to their jobs and let them have their human flaws.  God knows our Founding Fathers dipped their pens in several inkwells and whichever bullet assassinated JFK, it was undoubtedly not fired by a jealous ex.

As a musician, I've heard all kinds of tales about the habits of rockstars-- their sexual preferences, their obsessive little idosyncracies... but rarely do I hear this kind of thing from the guys in their band.  Professionals know they're privy by proximity to a certain TMI level... and they respect this.  It's really no one's business.  To be crass, how many times have you found yourself in the next stall from someone you know on another level and absorbed information you simply flush away and delete before you go back to your table?  No one's business.  So what is wrong with these people?

A mere week ago I was biting my nails and fretting about the elections.  Has anyone noticed how quickly the looming monster-head of Mitt Romney has receded?  A bit like the Wicked Witch of the West after the bucket of water  I read today his Facebook fans were abandoning him in droves.  Just like that....all his beautiful wickedness... pay no attention to that man behind the mask...whatever...  we are Mitt-free for at least 4 more years...onto the horrific hurricane aftermath, the long winter of financial difficulty for my small family, thankfully untouched in our neighborhood,  the pathetic inappropriate omni-coverage of this Petraeus scandal like the military version of Bachelor.  I suppose the Hollywood treatment of CIA and FBI has done much to bolster their image... and am I the only one who wondered why a 4-star general and super-hero would feel the need to color his hair?  Has anyone taken a poll of Republican vs. Democrat hair-dyers in Congress?

When I was kid, reading my little joke book, I also had Bible class.  Among the enigmatic Ten Commandments, I misunderstood Adultery as kids pretending to be grown up--- maybe lying about it--- or maybe something that happened to cream.  I didn't ask questions back then.  So how can people be criminalized for consenting private adult love?  What is inappropriate except this voyeuristic supposition... or the suspicion that something official and dangerous was exchanged, betrayed?  Can't he pull a Bill Clinton....or is he too honest?  What do Mormons consider adulterous anyway?  And what did Mitt have to do with this whole story which broke on election day?  Was this some Republican desperate last-minute attempt to slime the administration and  complicate the Benghazi story?  Is the insinuation that Petraeus was too busy having biographical sex to respond to a crisis?  Is there something more heinous for which the sex scandal is simply a smokescreen.. and what a news-greedy screen it is providing... now another General is involved, the word 'scandal' is viral, the adjective 'explosive' is  already in overuse... now it's 'bombshell'... and I am beginning to yawn?   Ironic that it is Veteran's Day, people are homeless and hungry and cold-- many of them veterans who cannot afford hair dye or extramarital women and will never have a biographer or a jealous groupie or even a pension and proper healthcare if we don't start straightening out priorities and get on with the business of balancing the budget.

Tonight a shindig next-door with a DJ-- while we were underpaid, working long hours slagging out our old veteran analogue music, well-dressed party-goers  dancing to LLoyd Banks, Fifty Cent, Bankie Banks--- (such names-- how about Goldman's Sack?)... maybe they are celebrating the End of Capital Gains Tax Cuts? Or maybe just Capital Gains? Certainly a common denominator, judging from the coats, bags, and jewelry.

But on the way out,  2 AM, a young beautiful girl passed out, police standing around, ambulance on the way--- we hope she can be revived, she seemed seriously unresponsive... and they dance on, the drunk happy people in their finery--- young, carefree, drunk and unafraid--- they have everything; they wait in the VIP line, they text, they fail to look, some of them undoubtedly failed to vote... they fall on the dance floor, they get up; turns out the unresponsive girl, despite fake ID, is merely 19--- my version of 'Adultery'... so what is the crime, the accountability, the punishment, ... to what accusation can you never respond 'Not Guilty'?