Archive for joy & saddness

“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.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Lipstick Shamaness, Music & Life & Sundays, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by alphabetfiend

This weekend — shadowy due to the solar eclipse perhaps? — has been morbid and over-wrought and thus Devo’s Fresh really wasn’t gonna hit the spot.

 

Due to the ache of the last couple days — Nightmares, Roadside Tragedy and other Ick — I really don’t have my usual Goof-given gratitude and all-around zest for life. And yet I do. You bet I do. It’s just that I’m all too aware of how easily that life can end in a split-second convergence of circumstance, timing and (bad) luck. 

Okay, fine, I’ve got gratitude and zest, sure, but no words. My eyes are red and my sockets are dry from too many tears. Every tear I shed took one word with it and now there’s no words left.

Rather than “Fresh” by Devo, I’ve chosen the blues classic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Actually, I was too spent even for the making of choices, but after I read my last post aloud to RB, he suggested I do “Death…” as it’s one of my all-time heart-wrenching favorites and unfortunately apt. Of course! “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” indeed.

“Death Don’t have No Mercy,” originally done by Reverend Gary Davis, has been covered many times by everyone from The Grateful Dead to, more recently, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. I’m especially partial to the version by the late great, John Martyn. Martyn did the song in the late 90’s, covering a Portishead song on the same album. (The song was Glorybox, the album was The Church With One Bell.)

I first fell in love with “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” when Martyn did it and so I was hoping to share his version with you but no luck. Nevermind.  The song is amazing, period, and both of the following versions are great. That said, I urge you to check out Martyn’s version, should you take to these. 

I often promise a less-wordy week than usual and then pull words like handkerchiefs from a magician’s pocket but not this week. I mean it. Seriously. I’m shutting up now. (If you crave the usual Sunday A.M. chatter, check out that last sad post.)

And now, the genius Reverend Gary Davis.

And now, my beloved Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy

Y’ know death don’t have no mercy in this land
Death don’t have no mercy in this land, in this land
Come to your house, you know he don’t take long
Look in bed this morning, children find your mother gone.

I said death don’t have no mercy in this land.
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land,
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land, in this land, yeah!

Whoa! come to your house, y’ know he don’t stay long,
Y’ look in bed this morning,
Children you find that your brothers and sisters are gone.
I said death don’t have no mercy in this land.

Death will go in any family in this land.
Death will go in any family in this land.
Come to your house, you know he don’t take long.
Look in the bed on the morning, children find that your family’s gone.

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

Death don’t have no mercy, but sometimes Death’ll take a raincheck, as was the case with the man who fell nearly 500 feet off a cliff and lived to respect the hell outta Senor Death. So keep hoping and keep loving, my mutant mystics, until that day when Death comes calling.

See you next week for another Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel.

Goof willing.

Happy Birthday, Frida!

Posted in Art & Culture, Art Lover, Goof & Glamour, Livin' La Vida Frida, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Today, on google, I was surprised to see Frida’s face. Was what Frida Kahlo doing on Google?, I wondered.

So I googled it.

I typed in “frida kahlo birthday???” and sure enough, it’s Frida’s 103 birthday this July 6, 2010. Frida was born in the sign of cancer and, like myself, on the auspicious sixth day of the month. (Mine is June 6.)

I love Frida Kahlo. I’ve loved her since I was a child. (My mother, also a painter, looks eerily like Frida.)

It’s interesting how she’s gaining a new kind of notoriety, what with Salma Hayek’s film Frida and now a Google tribute. I went to carnivale, just a few years ago, dressed as Frida. I piled a whole bouquet of flowers onto my head with braided loops and penciled my eyebrows together. I wore a velvet skirt w/tulle layers and a fringed shawl. I wrapped a tangle of faux barbed wire & bird around my neck. I stuck Diego’s face onto my forehead with eyelash glue. But the best part, by far — covering  my nipples — were the weirdest pasties EVER: big “EYES” with sequin irises and black plastic lashes.

"Diego and Me" by Frida Kahlo (Frida was married to famous mexican muralist, Diego Rivera)

My carnivale get-up — “Fleshpot Frida” — was surreal and beautiful and creepy. So Frida! The people who got it loved it, absolutely, but I was shocked at how many people had no idea who Frida Kahlo was, what she did or how she changed the art world. Frida Kahlo had always been akin to a catholic Saint in our home: Saint Frida!

It’s no wonder I love Vicki Berndt’s St. Frida painting! If I had an extra $1500 I’d snap that sucker up cause it’s still available for purchase and it’s so worth the money. (Berndt’s paintings are usually bought in a blink of an eye. If Frida were more well known, St. Frida would be sold by now.)

"Tree of Hope" by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a surrealist who painted deeply personal almost religious paintings, often depicting physical & emotional pain in a gory realistic way.

No one had ever painted PAIN like that before.

But amidst all the pain was glorious joy, prolific creativity and a profound insight into life and love.

Like Frida, I live with chronic physical pain, but I also have a frida-esque joy and gusto for life. I’m reading Role Models by John Waters and so I’ve been asking myself “Who are my role models? Who are those people who have influenced or inspired or helped me to live my life on my own odd terms?” Kahlo is definitely a role model. She’s a hero of mine for many reasons.

When she was hurting, she painted in bed and when she was able, she danced her ass off.

I totally get that.

When people try to force me to “take it easy” during my good times or to get outta bed on bad days, I just tell ’em to fuck off already cause I’m livin’ la vida Frida.

Livin’ la vida, Frida, bitches!

***Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo. I love you. Thank you. For everything.***

I’m Back, Bitches!

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Intuition & Gut Intelligence, The wisdom of the universe with tags , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by alphabetfiend

So…. I’d all but abandoned this blog ages ago. Hadn’t even peeked at my dash in over a year. I was so skeeved by the no man’s land that awaited — so afraid of seeing that intimidating “blog stats” graph all flat-lined and deflated — that I might have avoided it forever.

But then I began to miss my little blog. I enjoyed being the “editor” of my own little mytho-spiritual kinkster sex-fiend pop culture cache.  I decided to start a new blog (one not associated with my name, some little anonymous place where I could wait like a spider in this sticky “web”.) So I came tip-toeing back to wordpress… but before I could open a new account, I was drawn back to the old Cream Scene Carnival… a last kiss perhaps? I wistfully clicked on “blog stats” recalling how my heart would thrill to see that people were reading my goofy media mash-up. In the 6 weeks I was doing the blog I’d had tons of fun and had gotten between 12-14,000 views but the best part of the blog (and the reason I jumped ship) is because I’d met a magical muse-mate (platonic, people! Nothing lurid!) who cajoled me into starting a new novel.

After having been away from Cream Scene for a few months I assumed I’d lost all my readers and I felt like a very bad ringleader. I didn’t want to see this carnival cum ghost town. I didn’t want to be mowed down by a rogue tumbleweed. I figured it’d be better to start anew rather than fix up an abandoned house (You know the kind.  Teenagers have dry-humped on the buckled floorboards after spray-painting pentacles and BMW insignias on the sagging walls.) I wasn’t afraid of the ghosts so much as I was one. I was creeped out by my own ghostiness.

Thank you for supporting me, loyal subjects & fellow royalty. Hee hee.

I clicked on “blog stats” just for old-timey kicks and had to blink hard when I saw that Cream Scene Carnival had amassed 50,000 views in my absence. Oh my. It was 4 in the am and I mentally pinched myself. I got my car keys and went out for a drive, turning to cigarettes and the radio for a little “Holy shit!” solace. My mind reeled with surprise, mainly because starting that spankin’ new anonomo blog now seemed like a pretty dumb move. Even dumber than dumping CSC to begin with.

“But I was gonna be all fresh and perty and anonymous” whined one inner voice.

 Another voice snarled,”What an ingrate! You love Cream Scene Carnival! They love Cream Scene Carnival.”

A third voice broke in, ” Well, whatever. Good luck with your new blog: Whiny Wench Shares Piks of Dogs Wearing Wigs while Bemoaning the Cruel World.  That sounds like a real hoot and I’m sure you’ll get mad hits.”

Said voice #2, with a rallying cry,” Oh, c’mon, Cunt-licious! Your Kinksters need you! Someone has to turn Peggy hill into a porn star. If not you, who?”

Ultimately, I feel like those 50,000 hits are a gift that can’t be returned and a message that can’t be ignored. Soooooo… if you’ll take me, I’d like to come back. I’d like to be yer cunt-licious Carnie Queen again. Say you’ll have me. Say you can forgive me for wandering off.

I’m a bit worse for the wear. It hasn’t been an easy year. I had my heart smashed to smithereens by someone I trusted (not the RobotBoy! Cause he’s just peachy.) Nothing lurid. Just basic “people suck” saddness. I’m picking up the scattered shards. I’m trying to get to the point where people sucking doesn’t leave me (shell) shocked. So excuse me if I post some cry baby boo-hoo here and there. For my part, I swear that I’ll write some yummy new stuff:  art & culture… sex & gossip… poetry & freakdom… blow jobs & cream pies.

I bet you wish this was a blowjob instead...

Thank you so much my dear, sweet kinksters. Thank you for mowing the lawn and for tossing the moldy newspapers that piled up on the stoop. Thank you for keeping my seat warm. Thank you for reading. Would you prefer a soft appreciative buss on the forehead or a nice stinging spanking that’s sure to leave a red mark in the shape of my freakishly tiny hand? Readers choice.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in Art & Culture, Music & Life & Sundays, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by alphabetfiend

Some sad-sacks say this song is depressing but not me.   I think it’s breath-takingly beautiful.   A feeling doesn’t have to be “happy” to be worth something.  A Sunday doesn’t have to be “joyous” to be well, a SUNDAY.   I think this song — this “sad” song — is very life-affirming, very human, and very very AUSTIN.   It’s everything I’ve come to know and love about my life here in this stony Texas town…. Saturday nights spent with people I adore & music that moves me, drunken 6th street hugs as we all disperse after a great show.    Maybe in the morning you will feel achey or godless or lonely but that’s OK b/c you are an Austin punk-rock darling who loved Saturday too much and now Sunday is giving you the cold shoulder.   Have a smoke, eat an egg, enjoy being alive.   Make amends with Sunday.<BR><BR>See you next week for another installation of Punk Rock Gospel Blog… now go pick a handful of yer neighbors posies and see how easily Sunday forgives

Alphabetfiend is Dia VanGunten — a writer & wanna-be circus freak living in Austin, Texas.

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