Wednesday 20 July 2011

Very damn long: down (in the gold mine?)

On the 1971 Doors album LA Woman, a bloating Jim sang a song “I’ve been down so very damn long”, which I always thought was one of the better ones.

It turns out this is also the title of a book written by the much forgotten Richard Fariña. He died in a bike accident in 1966 and is widely seen as a fundamental influence on his friends Dylan, Morrison and a host of others who became really rather famous. Had he lived, it is likely his reputation & achievement would have rivalled them all.

Unfortunately, the reviews of the book that I have read don’t make me want to read it. I guess it’s certain this is where the Doors got the title from but how can you be sure?

Fariña sang with his wife Mimi, who was Joan Baez’ sister; he died on her 21st birthday. She had cameo appearances in Tales of the City and Six Feet Under. She died in 2001.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Daniil Kharms

Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) was an avant garde Russian author.  He died while a resident guest at one of Uncle Joe's less well appointed holiday hotels.  6 weeks after he died, his flat on Mayakovsky Street in Leningrad was bombed: his friends rescued his notebooks or almost all of his work would have been lost.

Very little of his work was [permitted to be] published during his lifetime. Most notable now is Incidences, a collection of short pieces in a style unfamiliar to western readers.

Just one example is:

The Artist and The Clock

Serov, an artist, went to the Obvodny Canal. Why did he go there? To buy some india rubber. What did he want india rubber for? To make himself a rubber band. And what did he want a rubber band for? In order to stretch it. That's what for. And what else? This is what else: the artist Serov had broken his clock. The clock had been going well, but he picked it up and broke it. What else? Nothing else. Nothing, this is it, in a nutshell! Keep your filthy snout out when it's not needed! And may the lord have mercy on us!
Once there lived an old woman. She lived and lived, until she got burnt up in her stove. Served her right, too! The artist Serov, at least, was of that opinion...
Huh! I would write some more, but the ink-pot has suddenly gone and disappeared.

Monday 4 July 2011

Grumpy Old Man (I)

So I catch a bus from Aberaeron to Llanrhystud. This alone is worthy of many pages of entertaining reporting, but skip that.

The bus arrives. An orderly queue has assembled: I am by some distance short of its average age and those without walking sticks have more sophisticated mobility assistance.

As I get near the front of the queue, a youth sweeps aside a clutch of old ladies and me, and becomes front of the queue. I adopt my well practiced "Aghast" countenance, but regrettably nobody is looking.

The youth (who speaks "adolescentte") is engaged in heated conversation with the driver, who explains that an "under 14" ticket is not available to people who are clearly not under 14. The youth utters many comments in his own tongue, & the driver ripostes "No you're not".

Seizing my chance, I call "And he pushed into the queue". A small Welsh woman in front of me nods vigorously.

"OK Sunshine; back of the queue and full fare" says the driver. The youth shouts "How are you supposed to know how fucking old I am?" [I understood this bit] and slouches off.

The driver and I exchange triumphant smiles. "Silly boys" he says, "Don't they realise it's the same drivers on this route every day?"

I shall enjoy being a Grumpy Old Man.