Archive for Friendship

“Smoke Bend” Dollar Bill Johnston (Sunday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, I Heart My Love-Tribe, Music & Life & Sundays, politics, Republicans scare me, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Now it’s winter on the river, and a cold swift swollen tide meets a warm southern breeze from the gulf of memories.  

Every year, around the 9th of October, I fall into a funk. This blue mood is a complete mystery to me until the part of myself that’s been trying it’s best to keep the date from me will lag,  inevitably exhausted, and it will hit me. Oh! Right. That. The day that my father left this lousy place for good. The day that changed everything. The day that was so swollen with uncontainable sadness that even now, all these years later, it still will not be contained.    

      

I have another tough week in the spring. Another mysterious doom. “So?” Steffe’ll ask, pensively. “How are you? You always get down whenever y’know… me too. I miss him too.” And then it’ll hit me. Oh. Right. That. The week that our friend Paul had a heart attack in Florida, while shacked up with another poet on a houseboat.     

   

Souls have a secret calendar of agony.  

The Robot fades to black every year ’round labor day. The holiday serves as a hard-to-suppress reminder of the weekend his cousin/ little brother/best friend put a gun to his own temple. He was drunk and fighting with his girl friend, suddenly desolate, momentarily stupid. Maybe he meant to mash the trigger, maybe not. Those kind of over-wrought emotional moments can color the future with what is really just a temporary explosion of too too much. I keep a close eye on RB as the holiday nears. He wouldn’t do something so drastic but still, the date itself is a reminder of how hopelessness can swallow a grown folk whole.  

Like a snake eats an alligator.   

The gator goes down easier than you’d think.     

   

(Though I did see a story where a python tried to eat an alligator and the snake exploded… so that’s oddly comforting.)     

These last few days, I was hit by another mysterious gloom. It began with three days of insomnia — I was amped & aimless, annoyed with TV, avoiding the computer –followed by 15 hours of boulder-like sleep. It was a sleep-monster Saturday: ’round 4, Robo put me down like a toddler in need of nap; I reluctantly dozed off at the approach of 6; woke up at 3am to finish/post the gospel but mostly spent 2 hrs staring vacantly into space; then came Gospel!? We don’ need no stinkin’ gospel!; at 10am the Robot woke me with my favorite breakfast. I’m still annoyed and considering sending him back for reprogramming. It wasn’t until I finally got online that I ran smack dab into the Oh. Right. That.     

 Katrina.     

   

There, on the wordpress dash sat a letter from a reader/ friend, bummed about the anniversary of Katrina and wondering where-o-where was the Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel? Ah. Arggghrr. (That’s an argh that becomes a grr.) In a split second of watery blinking, I decided to forsake my previously planned song in favor of another song which we played constantly in the wake of that fateful & fatal storm. Before too, but so so often after. This song has meant the world to myself and the loverman (why, he was just a little robot, maybe 8 or 9, when he first started reading The Times Picayune; wishing he could get into the city, good old Big Easy, to see Black Sabbath at City Park.)     

We played that record ragged. That album was our refuge in the storm. That smoking Piggie was a good gentleman friend to us. The song is “Smoke Bend.”  The album is The Gourds 2002 release “Cow Fish Fowl or Pig.”      

   

Yes, I know we’ve just done The Gourds recently but we’re talking about Katrina today and for me, there is only one Katrina song.     

 “Smoke Bend” by the Gourds with Dollar Bill Johnston.      

Dollar Bill Johnston joins The Gourds on stage

Dollar Bill is the father is the father of Gourd, Max Johnston (also of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.)  Interestingly, Max’s sister and Dollar Bill’s daughter is singer/song-writer Michelle Shocked, who I love.       

        

They’re sandbaggin’ the levees     

They’re shovelin’ night and day     

It’s the year of ’27     

Gonna wash us all away     

 This song was not written about Katrina. Which in my mind, for my purposes, makes it better. Rather it’s about the ever-present worry that the levees might break and if so, then what?    

 The levee gonna bust     

On your side or mine     

A little dynamite on your side     

Help the river make its mind     

It’s about the day that you hope never comes. It’s about the risks we all take in life whether it’s living in the basin of New Orleans or loving even when you know know how much losing is gonna hurt.    

 Folks left that west bank town     

 Left it all behind     

 Start life on higher ground     

 Gonna get out just in time     

 I didn’t grow up in New Orleans, but I was worried by my own what-if’s.    

Even as a small child, my attachment to my father was so enormous that I was haunted by his mortality. This what-if stayed with me through-out my life. In college, laying in bed one night, I tried to picture the cruel day and could imagine no future for myself beyond it. I saw myself in my messy closet, tucked in the fetal position, refusing to come out. Ever. By the time it happened for real, that closet was long gone, and I was living in Austin, but I could still find the fetal position.     

It must’ve been crazy growing up in New Orleans in the shadow of what if?    

 After all, that’s was the place I wished to be.     

   

I’m a corn-fed midwestern girl (by way of A! I! Ohio!) so I’m not native to the south. But I wanted to be, oh I wanted it so badly, always, and I think that counts for something. It always made sense, jived with my version of self. I’ve kinda secretly way-down-deep-in-me thought of myself as the Delta Lady, the epitome of southern eccentricity. When I was very young, probably too young to long for such obscenity, I’d listen to Joe Cocker’s “Delta Lady” and think “That’s me! There I am! Standing wet and naked in the garden.”     

   

So it’s no surprise that this secret self-appointed Delta Lady found herself a mint julep of a southern gentleman.     

The Robot’s often spoke of the hurricane parties people have while weathering out the storm. They drink hurricanes, play cards and hope like hell. His stories were always punctuated with “Oh, you’d love it. You especially would love it!” ??? 

A hurricane party?     

   

It did sound like something I’d adore — the enforced play, the mandatory leisure; the tendency towards hedonism or at least too many hurricanes; the chaotic familiarity of community and iffy festivity of gatherings; kids running wild, adults divulging secrets; all that human energy, all that snap crackle pop, and over-top — the bristling electricity of sky & fear.      

But after Katrina, I dunno… it sounds too… scary.      

Robotboy grew up in Mississippi, just outside of New Orleans, so his family was hit. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over the family home. It was scary and it was scary even for us, waiting to find out if everyone was okay. They were. They lost a roof and few 100 year trees, a prized pecan, but our people were all very lucky. But then they weren’t depending on the levees…       

    

“Smoke Bend” is about the day that we hope will never come, and yet we know it will, and still that changes nothing.     

Now there’s mint juleps at Oak Alley     

  There’s poison in the air     

 There’s new dangers on the river     

 It’s so good to be from there      

    

We continue to love whatever it is we’re so afraid to lose. Once we’ve lost out, the love goes on. That’s another little something we can count on.     

{{MP3 17 – Part II – Smoke Bend}}   

Smoke bend 

CHORUS:

Now it’s winter on the river

And a cold swift swollen tide

Meets a warm southern breeze

From the gulf of memories

Missouri and clear Ohio

Give their currents to the tide

Now the river’s Louisiana’s

For the willow tree-lined ride

From cruel Angola down to Venice

Scatterin’ horseshoes everywhere

The river’s Louisiana’s

With no glory or bank to share

If the river had its way

The Atchafalaya’d be its home

Straighten out them horseshoes

Find another bank to roam

There’s cane fires up the bank

Of that horseshoe of Smoke Bend

The smoke was double thick

And the fog was rollin’ in

Tie your boat to a willow tree

Climb the bank so high

Above the blanket on the river

See every star in the sky

Smoke fog and family

Kept to that west bank town

Smoke and fog would burn and blow away

The folks they’d stay around

There was catfish with the Kingfish

And a culture spice gumbo

There’s coonass music playing

On a glowin’ radio

Klan and crackers on the side

At the Last Chance Cafe

Crawfish etouffee

Warm red river Beaujolais

CHORUS

They’re sandbaggin’ the levee

They’re shovelin’ night and day

It’s the year of ’27

Gonna wash us all away

The levee gonna bust

On your side or mine

A little dynamite on your side

Help the river make its mind

Folks left that west bank town

Left it all behind

Start life on higher ground

Gonna get out just in time

Now there’s mint juleps at Oak Alley

There’s poison in the air

There’s new dangers on the river

It’s so good to be from there

CHORUS

**************************************

Stay ahead of the snake, y’all, don’t get swallowed up cause really that’s silly, a gator in the belly of a snake, c’mon? Even a python! C’mon! And it’s not safe for the snake either. So just lift yer snout outta the swamp n’ hum a little cajun tune or maybe that one about the river, who did that one? The potatoes? The parsnips? The Gourds! With Dollar Bill Johnston!   

 So whaddaya say, alkies, got a hankerin’ for hurricanes? Well, why’ont you whip us up a pitcher!     

  

Thank’s to Mike — fellow Austinite, who grew up in Chalmette — for documenting his own (from afar & helpless) vigil during the storm and subsequent obsession with the recovery of his homeland. See his story and more of his storm photos (like above.) 

Immerse yourself in gourdy goodness at the band’s sweet sight, complete with wood round rekerd playa.   

If you’re in love with “Smoke Bend” (and you should be) the song can be downloaded for 99 cents. A great song for the price of a candy bar. The album “Cow Fish Fowl or Pig” available on amazon.  If you’re not ready for the I couldn’t nor wouldn’t begin to suggest where future aid should be sent so I open comments to suggestions.  

*************************************************   

Today’s edition of the Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel is dedicated to everyone who saw Nola through that storm as well as to those who continue to be with her now. To those who lost lives, loved ones, homes, schools, churches, haunts. To those still healing and still helping in the aftermath.     

My heart aches for all of you, for your families wherever they may live, and for every one who had their heart mangled by that hurricane (even if “only” in an an empathic human way)  

Today was hard for people, people’s hearts are still hurting. Even those not directly affected by Katrina, even those hearts are clenched like angry fists. In a strange sad way, Katrina became a shared trauma, a throbbing dated ache that yearly seizes up. Katrina blew through our TV screens and flooded our family rooms. Which is not to diminish the unfathomable experience of being in New Orleans both during and after that storm; nor the losses borne by other areas hit by Katrina.

Mad Men Sexpot Gets Wooly for ETSY

Posted in I like big butts & I can not lie, Style & Fashion, Technicolor Pop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by alphabetfiend
If that luminous hottie on ETSY looks like steamy actress Christina Hendricks, that’s because she is Christina Hendricks.
 
 
FYI, to those men-folk among you with a nose for anything “Christina Hendricks”, but not much else, ETSY is the web phenom known to crafters as the place to sell one’s handmade wares. For fashionistas with a taste for the unique, ETSY is the # 1 go-to for a find that wasn’t cranked out in a factory.
 
 
 
Blackbird Design House hawked handmade scarves via ETSY, using Hendricks as model. You may be asking, “How can I get Hendrick’s to model my DIY?”
 
Answer: Tamara Mello, the gal behind the knitting needles, is a Hendrick’s pal.
 
The cozies looked sublime on Christina. Her milk-white skin was the perfect backdrop for some chunky, funky stitches.
 
 
 
Wrapped in lambsy fluff, her creamy throat looked lush.
And mm-mmm her smokin’ curves looked plush.
 
 
It warms the cockles of my heart that the emmy-nominated Hendricks, who plays Mad Men’s voluptuous working girl Joan Holloway, posed in the wooly wears for a friend. What a stand up gal!
 
 
 
It’s just like I always say, “It’s good to have gorgeous and generous gal-pals!”
 
Tamara Mello?
Tamara Mello’s name may sound familiar to hardcore fans of television mastermind Ryan Murphy.
 
Murphy — the man behind Fox’s famous “Glee” and FX’s “Nip Tuck”) may recall a WB show from way back called “Popular.”  Tamara Mello played petite & punky Lily Esposito, the sassy latina.
 
 
 
Also on “Popular”: Tammy Lynn Michaels, who recently refused to be bullied into break-up silence by her ex Melissa Etheridge, with whom she shares children.
 
For Murphy enthusiasts, “Popular” is worth watching on DVD. “Popular” is a “Glee” precursor where-in Murphy worked out some of the kinks in the teen-drama genre, and maybe some of his own teen angst. Fans of Murphy as an artist working in the medium of television will get a glimpse into the writer,creator and director’s creative process. Fans of “Glee” will see the progression of that idea in the days before anyone thought we were ready for weekly song and dance on TV. 
 
 
In addition to her shibori dyed scarves, Mello also makes felted trays and nesting baskets for her company Blackbird Design House. Hendrick’s did Mello a hell of a friendly favor. Hype hype hooray! People are emptying  their pockets while they gawk. Those rosy cheeks, that pouty pucker. It’s no wonder Mello’s knits have been selling out quick.
 
 
But my favorite, the one that falls like a bodice of snow drift, is still available. Mmmmm. Hmmm. Can I really justify a 130$ scarf when I live in sunny Austin?  Well, it was once on the delicious nape of a zaftig goddess, which is my very favorite kind of deity.
 
Do you s’pose osmosis works with pretty? Yummy? Supernaturally sexy?
 
If I drop the bucks will I drop dead gorgeous? 
 
*Technicolor Pop (aka Alphabetfiend aka…) is a slave to fashion with a  television vice; based in Austin, Texas.*

The Axe-Throwing Phase of Our Friendship

Posted in Friendship, I Heart Friends, I Heart My Love-Tribe, I Heart Tricksters, punk rock, Spirituality & Religion with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by alphabetfiend

A GammaGamma Post-script: So..my dearling, did you see that Gogol Bordello cover album art?

It initially evokes two intersecting arrows but then the eye decides on crossed axe handles.

  

A thought like a gurgle and pop: We’ve moved past the whizzing arrows phase of our friendship.

Now we’ll enter into the hurling & hacking of  shaman tomahawks, of elven axes. Axes with the disreputable heft of carnie roust-a-bouts. Axes with the honed glimmer of gypsy seers… suave & swarthy… with impressive mustaches, upon which, fairy acrobats do aerial tricks.

They are weighty these axes but when wielded there’s a familiar folkloric flex. Flux.

One question? Will we develop an axe-trading act, taking rambunctious turns at nearly missing the others head?

(If so, if I lose an ear, I’m going to gift it to Van Gogh. Dramatically laid out in an oyster shell casket. Like a tiny fetus.)

Or will we just set off and hack — at the black — like psychopaths?

I’m in, either way.

Who is Eshu?

Posted in I Heart Tricksters, Intuition & Gut Intelligence, Mythos, Spirituality & Religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by alphabetfiend
“You who translate yesterday’s words into novel utterances, do not undo me.”– a Yoruba prayer to Eshu

 

 

 He is not Ecru. He was, once, for a while there — for me. But that is another story that Eshu has tricked me into telling. I hate to hafta do it but I will. But first a few facts about Eshu — the trickster God owns the crossroads, where he guides or puzzles travelers.The messenger between the humans and gods, Eshu is behind communication or miscommunication. He is fortune and misfortune, often both at once. You didn’t get what you wanted but you should thank Eshu for saving you from yourself. He is a god of language and words, which is why the story I’m about to tell is so perfectly funny. While ripe with meaning, the next few sentences are not metaphorical which is hard to believe but those in the know will see that I’m being quite literal. 

 

 

 

 

Not too long ago I set up shop right in the middle of a 5-road intersection. I was hawking fairytale frocks and bloomers sewn of the finest story-threads. I met a young fag-ling who needed hag-ling. I had tricksters on the brain and he had the password. Or I thought he did but the tricksters on my brain were playing tricks as usual. Eshu. When he presented me with this word, I gave him a key. Again, lit

 

Also dollars, duds & other dandy-makings, friendship, job, his first ever birthday cake, a place to live. He brought a statue of Eshu. We blew smoke in Eshu’s face so that he might also partake. I was giddy over meeting someone who “shared” my odd interests and thought surely the tricksters’ fingerprints were all over our meeting. They were. I should’ve known! I l once listened in as the RobotBoy regaled our guest with tales of Coney Island and was shocked when, the next day, he announced a coney-themed project which I knew RB was already planning. I pointed that out and he claimed to have had that idea “for forever.”  But I had seen the beauty of him taking it in for the first time. A trickster loves new information too much to pretend he knows everything. He also asked to use a scrap of baroque wallpaper to cover his “spell book” which he carried everywhere with him. One day I went to slip a check into the pages of the book and saw that it was a regular published book, not a blank book filled with his own handwriting as I’d assumed. I had to roll my eyes. How obnoxious do you have to be to carry around a book of spells everywhere you go, cover it in fancy paper, and they’re not even your spells which you’ve honed through trial and error over a bubbling cauldron? Finally we met a girl who quickly took up my role as hag which was a relief. She made fun of the Eshu “hoodoo” saying “When he starts talking about all that, my eyes glaze and I just go somewhere else for a while.” It hit me — this person was the kind of person who would rather know a little about something than a lot and he would prefer to hang out with people who know even less than him, so that when he espouses on his supposed passion they will not challenge him or even add to his knowledge in any shape or form. He would rather blither on while someone blithely rolls their eyes. I pulled away. I continued to give money, food, clothes, physical things that were needed, but I stopped putting any energy out. I kept him on as employee but I was just a boss, nothing more. Then I learned via customers that he’d been stealing. I lost fox-face. A huckster had uttered the name of a trickster and I fell for it. Tricksters are not hucksters and they don’t appreciate the association. I’d been more fool than fox.

When the huckster was gone, I missed Eshu. I hated that he got to take Eshu with him. He was shit talking me to Eshu, no doubt.

So I changed Eshu’s name. I should’ve chosen Simbi or Exu, other forms of Eshu, but bitchily went with something “unknowable” to the huckster. Then he’d be the one “on the outs” with Eshu. I chose “Ecru” which has two of the same letters and similar sound but is a type of fabric as well as a color. As a tailor, the huckster would have the unknowable name right in front of his face. Hee hee. Except the joke was on me. Silly Trix-ster, it always is. I “tricked” myself so thoroughly over two years that when I discussed Eshu in a series of recent comments I called him “Ecru” which is fine for a bitter brain game in the privacy of my own mind but otherwise mortifying. I actually blushed (a very rare seldom seen occurrence, like a UFO) I flopped on my bed like a fish. The RobotBoy howled with laughter. I said, “It’s like instead of Jesus, I said Jeevus.” Which I would do without hesitation, Goof knows!  I had to grin. That kind of embarrassing horror would never happen if Jeevus were my man instead of Eshu. Jeevus wouldn’t delight in my hot red cheeks and wilting IQ. But Eshu? Oh, he loved it. He roared, stomped, pointed. He wiggled his fingers at the other dieties who all lined up to laugh at me. That’s what you get when you change a god’s name so you can keep him to yourself. Even though, as a trickster, Eshu thought it was a clever plan and didn’t mind the alias. Eshu adores me but if given the chance, he’ll laugh mercilessly. I give him endless chances which is why he adores me.

This story is classic Eshu, as discussed on an African mythology site.  

Particularly keen on opportunity, communication and Instant Messaging, Eshu can be a powerful ally. But he’s also a God with a sense of humor and will often throw a spanner in the works to keep life interesting. This could explain why we don’t always get what we want. Be careful — this God of crossroads is also a master of cross-purposes. 

Eshu’s role in communication was examined in a article published in Gnosis, spring 1991,

While he embodies many obvious trickster elements — deceit, humor, lawlessness, sexuality — Eshu-Elegbara is also the god of communication and spiritual language. He is the gatekeeper between the realms of man and gods, the tangled lines of force that make up the cosmic interface. … He’s always traversing that region of babble, and embodies the hope and the peril of a more open channel: hope, because he allows us to speak with the gods and for them to speak with us; and peril, because he tends to play tricks with the information he has, to keep us perpetually aware that he oversees the network of exchange. His nickname is Aflakete, which means “I have tricked you.”

Moving along the seam between two different worldviews, he confuses communication, reveals the ambiguity of knowledge, and plays with perspective.

So Eshu is a master of exchange, or crossed purposes, of crossed speech. This is why his shrines are found both at crossroads and at the market, for he is master of such networks of desire. For example, he uses his magician’s knowledge to make serpents that bite people on the way to the market, and then sells them the cure.

The creator of plots, the player of many instruments, the trickster Legba always risks unleashing a Pandora’s box of powers. But it is only in risking such chaos that novelty is continually reborn, and the community is imagined to interact dynamically, rather than by some rigid structure. The potential for dynamic chaos is the metaphysical heart of the Trickster.

Right now I am particularly interested in Eshu’s part in communication as has to do with computers. The computer was where I made my Eshu faux pas and the “web” was where I met the person who was witness to it, though any and all are — through the computer. If it weren’t for the impulsive speed of computer conversation, I probably would’ve caught my mistake. Maybe. I’m shocked I made it at all so it’s hard to say. The region of babble, the open channel, the network of exchange. Hmm. Well, it’s late and I’m exhausted, the lines are tangled and it’s wonderful. What’s so funny about this is the fellow blogger, witness to my idiocy, whose been meeting Eshu head to head, challenged me to expose more in my blog and I was all “Nah, been there, done that, doing something else for now” and look, here I am, telling the last damn story I’d EVER choose to tell about myself. Second to last. And isn’t that just exactly the way it would play out?

Sweet Jeevus!
 

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