Jack Kerouac 1957-1969: The Years of Toxic Popularity

May 26, 2010

Jack Kerouac lived a life that symbolized freedom.  Kerouac’s great novel was about the freedom that comes from traveling.  His literary style was modeled after the improvisational free spirit of Jazz music.  After Kerouac first got published and fame came with the popularity of On the Road, he began to lose the latitude he enjoyed from being an unknown.   Jack Kerouac began to drink more as the world he knew and loved changed dramatically.  His books became accounts of his current despair and recollections of his youth. In his final days, Kerouac isolated himself from much of the counterculture movement he reluctantly started.

Jack Kerouac wanted to catalog his entire life in autobiographical novels similar to Marcel Proust’s Remembrances of Things Past.  Kerouac once said ‘I intend to collect all my work and reinsert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy” (Kerouac,Charters).  Kerouac began working toward this goal with The Town and the City . In the novel, Kerouac writes about his family’s struggles with finances and the differences between his life in the town and the city. (Amburn 123-127).  Allen Ginsberg hailed the book as a masterpiece and with the help of Kerouac’s former professor at Columbia University Mark Van Doren, the book was published in 1950 by Harcourt Brace

(Amburn 123-127).

Shortly after Kerouac started working on The Town and the City, he met Neal Cassady in 1946 and their first meeting is recounted in the book On The Road.  While The Town and The City followed a standard novel narrative format, On the Road debuted Kerouac’s spontaneous prose style (Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com).  In order to write in this style, Kerouac typed out the manuscript of On The Road on a roll of paper so that he would not have to pause and replace the paper in the typewriter. (Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com)

On The Road is considered the Great American Novel. (Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com). The story recounts Kerouac’s first trips across America between 1947 to 1950.  Joyce Johnson recounts Kerouac’s hopes for On The Road “ he was hoping the book would bring him a little money and some recognition in literary circles for what he called his “spontaneous bop prose.” (Johnson www.boingboing.net).  Jack Kerouac did obtain the recognition he desired after Viking Press released On The Road 1n 1957 and this success would change his life. (Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com).

The characters in On The Road, though renamed were also writers who became known as Beat writers. The term Beat is attributed to Jack Kerouac who first used the term and the literary movement became known as the Beat

Generation. (Kerouac,Charters).  The term beatnik became a blanket description of everyone associated with drugs, jazz and homosexuality and Jack Kerouac was referred to as the ‘King of the Beat Generation.”  The King of the Beats and much of what that title implied was rejected by Kerouac who said ‘I’m not a beatnik, I’m a Catholic” (wikipedia).

Displayed his disillusionment toward his title in the following passage from Big Sur, “..the poor kid actually believes that there’s something noble and idealistic…about all this beat stuff, and I’m supposed to be the King of the Beatniks according to the newspapers….I’m sick and tired of all the endless enthusiasms of new young kids trying to know me…like those pathetic five highschool kids who all came to my door in Long Island one night wearing jackets that said ‘Dharma Bums’ on them, all expecting me to be 25 years old according to a mistake on a book jacket and here I am old enough to be their father (Kerouac Big Sur pgs109-110)

The demands placed on Kerouac required him to make appearances on television and in his book Big Sur, the author recounts his experience on the Steve Allen Show,”the hell with the hot lights of Hollywood ( remembering that awful time one year earlier when I had to rehearse my reading of prose a third time under the hot lights on the Steve Allen Show….one hundred technicians waiting for me to start reading, Steve Allen watching..as he plunks at the piano, I sit there on the dunce’s stool and refuse to read a word or open my mouth,’I don’t have to REHEARSE for God’s sake Steve!’-‘But go ahead, we just wanta get the tome of your voice’….and I sit there sweating not saying a word for a whole minute….finally I say ‘No I can’t do it’ and I go …get drunk)(but surprising everybody  the night of show by doing my job of reading just fine.(Kerouac, Big Sur Pgs.24-25)

Viking Press, the publishing house demanded Kerouac to produce a second book so they could build off of the success of On The Road. This second book  became known as The Dharma Bums . Unlike On the Road which had some names being changed and the toning down of content to make it more accessible, The Dharma Bums was altered drastically by Viking Press (Wikipedia,Gifford,Lee Jack’s Book).

The noted publicist Malcolm Cowely recounts  his experiences with Kerouac and The Dharma Bums “It’s very acceptable prose, but this time he had a terrible fight with Viking about the changes that his editor and copy-editing department had made in the style…he got mixed up and thought I was responsible for them. I never saw the manuscript…I read it as a book. I never liked the Dharma Bums very much, because it had no people in it except Jack and Gary Snyder.” (Gifford,Lee ‘Jack’sBook pgs242-243)

The story of the Dharma Bums is about Jack Kerouac and poet Gary Snyder’s search for Zen truths while they studied Buddhism.  Kerouac’s new found notoriety brought literary and content criticism from Zen teachers Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Alan Watts, the latter of which became a friend of Kerouac’s

(Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com).  As the figurehead of an entire movement, Kerouac became severely alcoholic while he received all of the pangs of his success.

Kerouac was aware of his alcoholism and his experiences which made up the text of Big Sur explain how the man was not coping with his problem.  In the following passage, Kerouac explains alcoholism. “Any drinker knows how the process works: the first day you get drunk is okay, the morning after means a big head…you can kill with a few drinks and a meal, but if you pass up the meal and go on to another night’s drunk, and wake up to keep the toot going, and continue on to the fourth day, there’ll come one day when the drinks wont take effect because you’re chemically overloaded and you’ll have to sleep it off but can’t sleep any more because it was alcohol itself that made you sleep those last five nights, so delirium sets in-Sleeplessness, sweat, trembling, a groaning feeling of weakness where your arms are numb and useless, nightmares (nightmares of death).” (Kerouac, Big Sur pgs 74-75). Big Sur was the last novel that would make up the Legend of Duluoz collection although the author would continue to write about his youth in future works.

In Big Sur, Kerouac concludes the novel with a detailed account of his nervous breakdown. “Masks explode before my eyes when I close them, when I look at the moon it waves, moves, when I look at my hands and feet they creep-Everything is moving, the porch is moving like ooze and mud, the chair trembles under me” (Kerouac Big Sur Pg 200).

During a paranoiac passage, Kerouac explains a premonition of his death.

“But angels are laughing and having a big barn dance in the rocks of the sea…Suddenly as clear as anything I ever saw in my life, I see the Cross…it stays a long time, my heart goes out to it, my whole body fades away to it.(Kerouac Big Sur Pgs.204-205)

After Kerouac’s breakdown on Big Sur in 1960, he returned home to be with his mother in Northport New York.  Kerouac attempted to improve his physical health and continue to work. (Gifford, Lee Jack’s Book pg.295).

Big Sur was released in 1962. The novel earned critical success for its realistic accounts of sickness and madness (Gifford, Lee. Jack’s Book pg. 295) .  With the release of the novel, Kerouac began to move up and down the east coast. Kerouac still lived with his mother Gabrielle and together they relocated from New York to Florida in 1960 and from Florida to Lowell, Massachusetts in October 1962. (Gifford, Lee. Jack’s Book pg. 295) .

As the sixties progressed, Kerouac’s alcoholism removed him as the head of the counter culture movement.  Kerouac’s friend and fellow Beat writer became  the figure head of the counter culture movement.  Kerouac, still dismissive toward the movement said “Ginsberg’s messianic robes don’t suit him.” (Amburn. “Subterranean Kerouac” )

In November of 1966, Jack Kerouac married Stella Sampas in Hyannis, Massachusetts . John Clellon Holmes describes Kerouac’s mood the night he got married. “During their wedding celebration, he called us, and he put Stella on the phone. I had never met Stella-knew about her of course…he was drunk and happy. He sounded great. (Gifford, Lee Jack’s Book pg.304)

Though Kerouac was married, his wife describes his isolation after marriage.  “It was bad for Jack, living in Florida. He had no real friends. In Lowell, Jack was…as isolated as he had been in Florida. Though she (Kerouac’s Mother) was fairly incapacitated by her stroke he was still operating under the stern eye of Memere.” (Gifford, Lee Pgs305-306).

With Kerouac’s mother sick, the author attempted to continue his writing.  Between March and May of 1967, Kerouac wrote a reworking of the period of his life he covered in The Town and The City called the Vanity of Duloz. (Gifford,Lee Jack’sBook. Amburn, Subbteranean Kerouac Pg. 356)

In February of 1968, Kerouac was told by his friend Luanne Henderson that Neal Cassady had died in Mexico City.  Henderson spoke of Kerouac’s reaction after hearing of Cassady’s death “Afterward, Jack liked to pretend he didn’t really think Neal was dead, even telling interviewers from The Paris Review that Neal would show up again someday and surprise everyone.” (Gifford, Lee pg.310).

After resettling in Florida by 1968, Kerouac settled with his wife and together they tried to take care of the author’s ailing mother. Kerouac’s childhood friend  GJ Apostolos, recounted Kerouac’s life during his final year. “Jack wrote very little during his final year. He had two ideas for what the next book should be, speaking often to his new Florida friends of his desire to write a novel covering the ten years of his life since On The Road was published…only a few nights before his death, he had decided to call it ‘Spotlight Print’.  Because he needed the money, Jack resurrected Pic, his imaginary chronicle of a black boy in the South, padded it to a novella-length and sold it to Grove Press.  Stella and Memere talked him out of his original ending, in which the black boy who narrates the story hooks up with Dean Moriarity and Sal Paradise. Jack to his typewriter to Gabrielle’s (Memere,Kerouac’s Mother) bedside, and she helped him write the final scene, in which a priest saves the boy from a wasted life on the road.  Jack rarely went out of the house. He had no one but Stella and Memere to talk to..sat with the shades drawn in against the Florida sun, watching television with the sound off, playing Handel’s Messiah on the phonograph as loud as it would go. He was forty-seven years old. (Gifford,Lee pgs 312-313)

Kerouac died on October 21st 1969.  The official cause of Kerouac’s death was bleeding esophageal varices caused by cirrhosis. (Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com).  Kerouac’s wake was described by his childhood friend Scotty Beaulieu as being  “ a big mess, full of hippies and whole crowd of people laughing and talking. It was so crowded and noisy you couldn’t even get close to his coffin. (Gifford,Lee. Jack’s Book Pg. 314)

Jack Kerouac lived a life devoted to the free spirit he cherished.  In his novel On The Road the life he lived became a symbol of freedom which resulted in the development of an entire Beat movement. The price for Kerouac’s vision led to his success which in turn resulted in excessive alcoholism.

Bibilography

Amburn, Ellis. Subterranean Kerouac. New York, St.Martin’s Press, 1998.

Gifford, Barry & Lee, Lawrence Jack’s Book an Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac New York, St. Martin’s Press 1994

Kerouac, Jack. The Portable Jack Kerouac Ed. Charters, Ann. Penguin Books, 1995.

Kerouac, Jack. Selected Letters 1957-1969 Ed. Charters, Ann. Penguin Books 1999

Kerouac, Jack. Big Sur Penguin Books 1962

Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody Penguin Books 1960

Kerouac, Jack The Town and The City New York. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1950

Johson, Joyce “Joyce Johnson: Jack Kerouac and the 50th anniversary of On The Road” boingboing.net posted by David Pescovitz. Date accessed Nov. 20, 2008

<http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/31/joyce-johnson-jack-k.html

WikipediaStaff.wikipedia.com. date accessed Nov. 20, 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Novel

Wikipedia Staff.wikipedia.com date accessed Nov. 20, 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kerouac

WTC Station revisited

May 26, 2010

It had been ten years since I set foot in the WTC train station. To say a lot had happen since 1999 to New York is a grotesque understatement. I found myself taking the PATH train to the WTC station so to avoid the jubilant frenzy of midtown Manhattan. I had arrived at Penn Station regularly over the course of the year and found it hadn’t changed a bit. The Hudson News stores were comfortably seated where they always were. The coffee in the deli’s still tasted better than any coffee I have ever tasted. The gift shops, floral stand up by the steps leading down to the LIRR station were all as I remembered it. Somehow seeing things had not changed made the world seem safer and comfortable.

The scene in Penn Station was much the way the WTC station was the last time I had seen it. The walkway out of the PATH station looked like every single hallway you would find in your average good old American mall. Somehow, the lighting under the WTC looked different. A warm yellow filled the underground and this yellowish look blunted the florescent gleam coming from the stores. These stores sold everything from clothes, books, shoes, and of course souvenirs. Looking back, it seemed a miracle that these businesses didn’t go under considering the state of the hallway during rush hour. They all lined the walls as swarms of commuters rushed the walkway as fast as they could to the escalators. And these were not just any escalators, these were massive escalators that seemed to stretch 50 yards into the sky. And the sky is what you saw too when you approached the lobby of the WTC. The massive windows brought in more daylight than perhaps the average
early morning commuter cared to see but they were a welcome sight. I never was conscious of the size of the buildings above my head when I was in the lobby. I only ever remembered the plaza out front, and the bushes that lined the outside entrance into the subway system. The sun seemed to shine regularly back in 1998 and 1999 when I made this trip everyday from New Brunswick New Jersey.

The sun was not shining on New Years Eve 2009; my return to the WTC station. I made this return trip by memory. My mind was calling up what I learned from ‘98/‘99, but these thoughts made it feel overwhelming.

The PATH trains, like the NJ Transit trains never changed, Newark station and hadn’t changed but my destination, the WTC station had changed. As the PATH train lazily lumbered along northenr New Jersey with a handful of passengers staring blankly into the gray landscape passing by. The wires were sticking out of all of our ears and our expressions all looked much how I was beginning to feel, uncomfrtable. THe train finally submerged under the Hudson into the tunnel. Slowly the train rolled on then it began to slow down even further. My ears hadn’t popped before it became apparent the WTC station was close; a hole in the wall revealing debris and construction lights passed by. THen more debris and more flood lights. Then more shattered debris off in the distance as the train approached the platform.

GOne were the shops, gone were, the soft yellow lights, the lenolium tiled floor was even gone. All of this was replaced with wooden planked walls stretching 25 feet up, blocking the sight of God knows what behind them. The ceiling overhead wasn’t low to conserve space, instead it was a 100’ high metal ceiling with poles serving as support, and with florescent flood lights attached contributing to the cold atmosphere.

The few of us who walked the hallway knew what happened here and we were all quiet. The only thing that survived 9/11 were those damned escalators too. They still stretched 50 yards toward the sky; they still made me lean forward; but you didn’t see the sky approaching. Instead you saw a nightmarishly designed ceiling approaching. This ceiling was set low toward the ground and it led straight onto the sidewalk. Gone was the plaza, instead you can see plywood again blocking the average passer by from seeing what can only be described as a graveyard.

And the sun was not shining on New Years Eve, instead the clouds, air temperature and cold misty rain couldn’t have made it all feel less inviting. Gone seemed to even be the sun from my memories of the place. When you are there, you have to wonder if the smoke, fire and then the dust from 9/11 made it impossible to see sunlight at Ground Zero ever again.
This rememberance flooded my mind today because the WTC site has made it into the local news twice. First, 48 bone fragments, some no larger than a fingernail were discovered in the transported debris from the World Trade Center. The second story involves a Manhattan community board’s vote to go ahead with a project which will turn a 13-story building over looking Ground Zero into an Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque. The American Imam, Feisal_Abdul_Rauf
who is the leading spokesman for this project wishes the buildings commencement would take place on 9/11/2011.

A day in the life of a modern American

May 26, 2010

A day in the life of a modern American

6:00

My cell phone is vibrating and beeping me wide awake to start a new weekday. My teeth and gums ache a little every morning and this morning is no exception. I thought about trying one of thse teeth grinding guards that my girlfriend Jan told me about a few weeks ago but they are $25 and that is sadly not in my budget these days. Although things have been rough paying the bills and looking for a job. I have the strongest feeling that today is just going to be the day. Everything will fall into place and if that bright mid May morning sunshine wasn’t storming into my bedroom right now, I would still feel the same. I know things will workout and it is high time to get this day going.

6:10

The cell phone shows no text message from the girlfriend and no voicemail from a company. I guess it is too early for anyone to send me messages although I thought Jan would have at least replied last night or overnight. I wish things were better between us.

 Time to go online and check today’s job postings and to check my email. The computer turns on and I still have my internet and cell phone paid up until the end of the month, I better make the most of both of them while I still have them.

6:25

No jobs again are posted that have anything at all to do with an English degree. That can’t be much more frustrating. I sip my black coffee and check my email and find no message from Jan. Now I am a little worried. What happened to her? Her and I haven’t been that great since I graduated college last fall and started to look for work. Now, my savings is all but gone and she seems more frustrated than I am these days about where I am in life. I just know things will work out,

8:30

 I have spent the last 2 hours looking and applying for jobs. Some I am sure I am qualified to do and some I know I will work my ass off to do well.

THe third cup of coffee is beginning to anger my body. I wish I had some food in this apartment but all I seem to have in the kitchenette is an oven, coffee pot, can of instant coffee and a blinking flourscent light which I keep off as much as possible. My fridge hasn’t anything to offer for a good breakfast. I shower sahve, get dressed and, bring a suitcase filled with only my resume. Time to hit the streets.

9:00

What a sight! THe sun is literally blinding me at 9 o’clock in the morning! I almost can’t see the traffic from the sidewalk it is so bright. The delivery trucks are driving down the street and the postal trucks are beginning to join them. God how I envy those guys. They have been working while I have been looking. They are in the shade of their work cars and I am exposed under this almost punishing sunshine. This light is an omen. I am not usually this optimist but I am feeling it today.

 Last night, was another story. I felt an emptiness inside that comes from the feeling of helplessness. You might call it a sense of worthlessness. I hardly have said a word to Jan since I argued with her over a week ago about where I am in life and how I am doing all I can to change that. She hung up on me. I decided to give her time to cool off and we have texted since then but….all I can say that feeling of worthlessness has only worsened since that argument. I am positive the right attitude will change things. I just know it will.

10:30

I bought a banana and a newspaper at the local deli and sat for much of the last hour looking over the classifieds. It is hard to believe that with all of the internet job sites out there, that there are still companies that post listings in a newspaper. That is not to say that there are many jobs to look at but this one did catch my eye. Allied Chemical is looking for a self starter to help with the advertising end of their company. I can dash out a few spiffy lines that could make a reasonable housewife consider a hairspray. THe company is also only 15 minutes away by bus! That is damn convenient! I knew things would work out. I am heading over there now.

11:00

I am at allied chemical. it looks like your standard large red brick building sitting alone on route 22. I just got off the bus and I am standing feeling a little nervous and foolish in front the large lawn. The lawn is being cut by a Mexican man who looked to be having fun sitting and driving around that large lawnmower. He is earning some money today, God bless him. I only wish that was me.

I texted Jan while I was on the bus I said “I love you and I miss you a lot. I only wish you would say the same to me”

She didn’t reply but I just turned my cell phone off anyway. Time to go inside.

The lobby reciptionist buzzes me into the entrance of the building. The lobby is expansive and cool. A relaxing sancturary from that Kentucky Fried Chicken lamp like sunshine outside.

The receptionist looks like a cool and expansive type woman with blonde hair and thick red glasses. She seems content with her work. I can’t blame her. She looks to have downed a few dozen jelly doughnuts during her tenure at Allied. Maybe a few more than a few dozen jelly doughnuts. I can’t say I blame her.

 “Hello, I am looking for the human resources department”

“Yes, please sign in, it is down this hallway (pointing with longfingernails to her left). You will see the sign over the door on the left.”

“Thank you” I smile a toothless but sincere smile and head down the hall. Visions of being inside one of these rooms and brainstorming an ad campaign flowed through my mind.

The Human Resources office is mobbed with people. Suddenly I don’t feel so good. Could all of these people work here? Could all of these people be applying for the same job. I am assuming that the latter is true because we are all herded together like cattle on the opposite side of the brown wooden desk which isolates us from the cubicles behind it.

I soldier my way to the desk and speak to the seemingly overwhelmed African American woman sitting behind it.

 “Hello, I am here to apply for the job posted in the paper.”

“Hi, Yes can you wait here just a moment. I think 20 people are here for the same job”

“Thank you” again, another toothless smile. I don’t like the way my teeth look so I smile broadly with my mouth closed.

Around me, I am surrounded by people who look to come from all backgrounds and all of these people have the same look in their eyes that I have in mine. A look of optimistic desperation.

1:30

I have been sitting here for well over 2 hours and judging from the amount of people that are still here, it looks like I will have to come back tomorrow. I gave up on the chance of an interview so I turned my cell back on and read the rest of the paper.

I got no calls for jobs on the phone and no message from Jan. My stomach is feeling like it has that sickening pit in it again. That feeling of heartbreak. I know my hands are trembling and I am fighting yto hide my emotions.

I approach the woman behind the desk who looks more relaxed after she returned from lunch.

“Listen, can I just leave my resume and my name and number here?”

“Oh my God, you have all been waiting here all this time? Of course, please everyone, just leave your name, number and resumes with me and I will be sure to forward it along. You all should hear back from us in a couple of days.”

I did what she asked. So did a man who looked to be in his 40’s, another in his 50’s. A woman in her 20’s, another in her 40’s and there was me a man of 32, stuck. Still, need to keep it up.

2:15

 I am standing with a small group of people out in front of Allied Chemical waiting for the bus. While waiting, I broke down and tried calling Jan. I know she wasn’t going to be at her paralegal job today. No answer.

I texted her

“I said I am in love with you, why can’t you say the same to me. I have the right to a reply.”

She did reply

“I emailed you. I can’t talk now because I am not alone.”

I make of that what I will. I was starving before this message. Not anymore.

The bus is coming. Please bus take me back to my apartment as soon as possible.

3:00

Back in my apartment and Jan’s email sums up how I feel.

“I am sorry but I think we have had a misunderstanding here. I told you over a week ago that I needed someone who can give me a serious relationship. SOmeone who will give me a home and a family. The best answer you could give me is “I don’t know when I will be able to give you these things” That is what you said. I am 32 years old now and I can’t be with someone who has so much up in the air in his life. I thought my behavior since we talked made that clear to you I am sorry things didn’t work out, Jan”

sad.

4:30

That sunshine isn’t coming through my bedroom window anymore but I can see it raining down beyond the shadows. I didn’t get any other emails while I was gone but I did receive a letter from my landlord and a couple of calls from a collection agency. I don’t know how to pay for these things. I have a college degree. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t mess around with drugs and yet I find myself looking at applying for welfare benefits and food stamps….things looked so good 8 hours ago.

6:00

 I gave up looking at job postings online about a half hour ago and am now watching television while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. At least grilled cheese is still a relatively cheap meal.

The news is on. The oil has stopped pouring into the Gulf and the rain is falling again on the flooded state of Tennessee. In the economic news, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9% and the President of the United States says that this is a good thing. THat last bite of cheese and bread was hard to swallow.

10:00

An empty night. Empty in every way imaginable. I lost Jan, can’t find a job or unpaid internships, and I am well behind on my bills. I went back online again to look for work and apply for welfare. Recent college grads don’t qualify for unemployment so we don’t get counted as the unemployed but we are here.

It seems like every night is ending like this. Tomorrow will be different though. I just no tomorrow will be something special. After today, things will change. I just know it.

Monk’s Blues: Not His Best But It Went With The Times

May 16, 2010

I acquired the rather small Columbia Years box set of Monks work where they respond to the criticism of the album. At the time his Columbia output was being greeted by critics and fans alike for being too much of the same old thing. He debuted a few new tracks but never broke the same ground using new exciting musicians in his studio band, so in response to this he went to California and had Oliver Nelson set up a big band for him to play with. His live big band albums are truely classic and this album simply cant match the greatness of those two live masterpieces(“At Town Hall” and “Big Bandl, Quartet Live”). This album was the last of his Columbia albums and it was attacked by everyone the minute it hit the shelves.
I can say I do enjoy this record. Even though it isnt up to the standard of the live albums he did in this vain it is still very good. I do recommend this album if you are a fan of big bands and Oliver Nelson and not if you are seasoned veteran of Monks music if you are willing to accept it as a change of pace and that it is and with its flaws it still can stand on its own two feet.

This Thing Is Monsterous (Review of Miles Complete Live at Montreux)

May 16, 2010

I decided to give this a glowing review even though before hearing it I was not a fan of Miles Davis” music after his “retirement”(retirement is in quotes if you read his autobiography you will understand). This is simply everything you could think of hearing from Miles after 1983. It also is almost entirely new music!! I had to hear the first two discs which are from 1973 and found them to be good but really he wasnt making anything bad at that time, And although I admit to not likling his 80s stuff at first I grew to love it through this box set!! The Cindi Lauper cover is unrecognizable to the original and that is good for jazz fans I think. The real treat for me was the already relased on a single disc from WB giant 50+ band Miles worked with in 91. The Gil Evans orchestra under the direction of Qunicy Jones is worth hearing on its own too so if the money for this is quite insane and it is because i still havent bought it get that album separte. The last disc shows a changing Miles again which makes me super angry that he didnt hang around longer. The band was his smallest in years and they were concentrating on soloing for the most part which is always a real treat. If you are lucky like me you will hear this before buying. If you are a Miles nut and you feel like I do now that the man did no wrong then this should be yours.

Review of NFL Films Complete Game Archives Oilers @ Bills 1993

May 16, 2010

This release could be the start of NFL films releasing of full NFL game coverage of the past. If so, then these DVD releases should be popular for a lot of football fans like myself. That aside it is fitting that they chose this game to start the ball rolling (also there is a 12 game collection of the Bears during their dynamic 1985 season (the team and season that made me a fan in the first place).

The game featured on this DVD comes from the playoffs in 1993. I remember seeing it lived when it was broadcasted on NBC. I only remember this game so well because one of my favorite teams (The Oilers, led by Warren Moon and his receivers Haywood Jefferies and Curtis Duncan) had all but completely ran away with the game by the half. It looked as though the perpetual AFC Champion Bills were going to end their winning streak. The NBC commentators even went as far as to jeopardize their ratings by saying in effect that it would be nearly impossible for the Bills to come back and win. You can take a guess at the outcome of the game by the size of the Buffalo Bills name on the DVD cover. Frank Reich was the Bills QB, Reed, Beebe (who was involved in a controversial play). I was just a kid when I saw this game live and it was heartbreaking to watch at the time, but it was a grat football game and well worth watching again. Historical note for newer football fans, the Oilers became the Titans and look for many current hall of famers in the line-up. This DVD and the Bears boxed set should be good and the start of something better.

When walls disguise everything or reveal too much. (Review pf Polanski’s The Tenant)

May 16, 2010

I first became acquainted with this film after reading how similar it was to Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Polanski’s first feature made outside of Poland, “Repulsion.” I had been a huge fan of both of these films so when I discovered this films mere existence I did not hesitate to track it down for viewing. Needless to say, I found the experience as rewarding as a horror film can be.

The plot is about a common man who rents a small apartment previously occupied by a young woman who attempted suicide. After her death, the man moves into the apartment and slowly begins to believe he is a part of a plot hatched by the other tenants to force him to a identical fate.

The character development of the man is immediately developed into the script. Polanski plays this character himself named Trelkovsky. Polanski portrays this character as being someone very shy and perhaps overly concerned with how he is viewed by others. The fact that his character is already very sensitive hearkens back to Deneuve’s reading of Carole from “Repulsion”, though with vastly different reactions from these disturbed souls.

The richly developed character of Trelkovsky gives the film a strength and meaning to push forward for me, the viewer to continue watching. Without it, the film would be difficult to grasp and the impression would be more of a ghost story than a psychological thriller. I ended up wondering if Trelkovsky’s potential unraveling was from the result of his fragile feeling of displacement (He repeats his plea for acceptance in Paris, declaring he is a Frnch Citizen), or if he really is the part of some bizarre game that his dementia distorts as being a evil plot to his own destruction.

While there are story similarities to the two films I previously mentioned. The style of those films is alien to “The Tenant” This film plays up the claustrophobic element to such an extreme that one can sense its deepening with every encounter Trelkovsky has with the other characters in the film. In “Repulsion” the story was more or less a trip into Carole’s madness while she remained completely isolated from people (mentally and physically).

Perhaps I am a mere sucker for psychological thrillers but this remains one of the best films I have seen in that genre of film. The film has a low budget look and that only adds to the atmosphere of these types of movies.

A Decent Place to Start (Review of Sun Ra-Greatest Hits: Easy Listening for Intergalactic Travel)

May 16, 2010

If you find your self a little interested in Sun Ra, Maybe the name hit you out of the air from a friend or the radio actually played one of his songs(abonafied rarity)then pick it up. You will find songs of order out of his most chaotic (Philadelphia)period. If your already a serious fan ov Sun Ra then you will not find anything new sadly but a well programmed disc to take you to the quieter side of the universe.

Very Clever Title, and Still Great Music (Review of Blondie: Curse of Blondie)

May 16, 2010

I was in a very small record store in Point Pleasant Nj about 20 Minutes from home and flipping through various titles I saw with great surprise a New Blondie Album?? I was shocked! I had heard about a single floating around but I fifugred it was some random old track that got sudden late recognition (see Queens Bohemian Rhapsody after it was canyonized in the Wayne’s World film) , But here was a complete new album! Now Ive been a on and off fan of theirs for a very long time now, but lately its always been on so maybe Ill be a bit bias in this review(being from New Jersey helps too)

If your expecting variety that was offered in Autoamerican and No Exit, it isn’t here to such a degree. This album (…) is their first straight forward rock album since “Eat to the Beat” (also a clever title).

Blondie never had set out to rehash their old music. They have a sound that is their own, thats what makes Blondie, Blondie. I find the title to be clever because I think its the only way the band memebers can make any money anymore. its understood that, that happens hence the slew of reunions that crop up anymore(Iggy Pop working with the Asheton brothers again, Sex Pistols reunion in 96, and the classic Roxy Music reunion in 01)

This album is somewhat different from No Exit. In that (no exit) album there was 17 years of terrific ideas waiting to explode from the band members.Thats what happens with very smart and creative minds. Jimmy Destri in fact was a key songwriter on that album (I can recommend his long lost early 80s solo album, worth tracking down on vinyl) So variety on that wasn’t a surprise.

Here we find the band finding the sound they had in the old days. I of course bought the import and then the US version for the video on it. The album made me a fan right off the bat with “Shakedown” which is about as rocking as you’d expect a punk band (at heart) could sound, it helps with the Jersey based lyrics, Myself being a son of jersey, born here and still here and all.
The second track “Good Boys” is a clear hit. Some random songs you hear on the radio with the hooks and feel just scream hit, and this track does that. “Undone” is my favorite track on the cd however, with tremendious vocals and great production that got the most out of the song.

All the musicianship you’d expect to hear on a Blondie album , Great singing, great writing, great playing. I like and would recommend it.

On a random note reading the liner notes to the “Eat to the Beat” reissue the producer writes how he felt the title was about record executives eating the band alive to the beat. I found that to be rather fitting.

Some of the finest Jazz from the 70’s (Review of Ron Carter Piccolo)

May 16, 2010

I knew the name Ron Carter and liked alot of the albums on Prestige so I decided to buy this. Bang! I was out [$] dollars and up one of the greatest jazz albums I have ever owned. This album contains Mr. Carter with the unique sound of his Piccolo bass backed by half of the band soon to be called Sphere(named in tribute to Thelonious Sphere Monk).The atmosphere this album lets out can actually transport you away from your body if you let it. It wont happen the first time. The first time through it will be like meeting a potential girlfriend that you want to get to know but not sure how. After like the second metting you are more comfortable with the unique sound of the Piccolo bass and you are on your way. To think this came from one session is unthinkable. I think this will be around for awhile but I would pick this up without hesitation had I heard it before i bought.
A truley great jazz discovery. God Bless You Mr. Carter.


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