Can't really explain the hiatus in blogging – no heavy-duty reading series planning, literary foundation-laying, or newish child duties, like the estimable Josh Corey – not much productive reading gotten thru, certainly no writing to speak of (save for the first poem of a series that I'm still too superstitious to say much about, but have high hopes for). We're in the throes of having a new roof installed, after 6 or 7 years of running about with towels & buckets whenever it started to rain.
Roofing – I'm not sure I'd wish it upon an enemy. They spent a full day ripping off the old roof, sending clouds of grit & ick down thru the slanted tongue-&-groove ceilings of several rooms, in the process discovering acres rotted wood that needed replacing. (A rather unsettling experience to arrive home after having gone out to dinner – who wants to cook & eat among such racket? – and find a 4'x4' hole in the ceiling of the den – late afternoon sun streaming thru – & a highly competent fellow with a soul patch named Israel assuring us that it'd be closed before it was too dark.
The next day – Friday – they installed what they call "paper," but which I gather is actually some sort of watertight composite covering. You install it by nailing. Suffice it to say nobody spent much time around the house that day. This weekend it rained: it rained four 14 hours straight, buckets & poolfulls, which promptly came trickling thru the "paper" in about a dozen different spots.
All this, I've been assured, is a thing of the past, since they came Monday and painted the whole damn'd thing with hot tar & laid down another layer of something or another. All that's lacking now is installation of the tiles, which will give us perhaps another two days of relentless noise. And then there's a decent chance much of it'll get blown off come the hurricane season in a couple of months, & we can start over from scratch.
I've been working my way slowly thru The Poem of a Life: my first real reading of the book in print. Mostly looking for errors – typos, misstatements, things that might get changed if I live long enough for a second edition to be needed (I fool myself – I'll be lucky if the things goes into a second printing). A number of helpful people have sent me corrections & suggestions, which I heartily welcome. I may, I fear, be entering the stage of post-partum depression with the book: that sense that the thing, like so many other things I do, has fallen off the edge of the world, & said world has nothing to say to me but "what have you done for me lately?"
In the interstices of my days, I've been seriously ripping my CD collection onto a hard drive, discovering scores of disks I didn't know I owned, had perhaps listened to once or twice then shelved. Much listening these days to old P-Funk things, to the jangly alt-rock things of my youth, to vast blocks of Beethoven quartets. Don Share (himself a native Memphian) reminds me of one of my youthful enthusiasms, the twisted post-rockabilly of Tav Falco's Panther Burns, one of the strangest phenomena to crawl out of the Memphis region during my high school years. The fact that I only own a vinyl copy of Behind the Magnolia Curtain, which features not merely the godlike Alex Chilton but the Tate County, MS Drum Corps – the closing apocalyptic version of "Bourgeois Blues," which ends with Tav ranting the first lines of "Howl," is one of the grandest moments in recorded music – is at the moment my greatest spur to unpacking J.'s USB turntable & figuring out the software for converting LPs to MP3s.
Mostly tho I've been rediscovering the many faces of bassist/producers/impresario Bill Laswell: his work with John Zorn's Painkiller; the funky Material; his various dub remixes (Miles Davis & Bob Marley on heavy rotation) & collaborations with folks like Jah Wobble. A stroll thru a Boca thrift shop yielded surpringly enough a copy of the first Praxis album, a sort of metal-funk supergroup put together by Laswell that includes P-Funk veterans Bernie Worrell & Bootsy Collins & the pretentiously masked but undeniably virtuosic guitarist Buckethead. Here's a later version of Praxis, with Buckethead on guitar & Laswell himself on bass:
And here's Laswell really laying it down in a live performance of Zorn's 3-piece Painkiller outfit. (Turn down your speakers, ye of tender ears...):
Come to think of it, I haven't seen a picture of Laswell without headgear in 20 years or more, & it's a look I rather like. So a year hence, look for me in stocking cap. (I don't think I'll go for the pointy beard, tho.)