Altamont at 50

A nuanced, intricate look back that I think is quite necessary.  Some thoughts:

If you were stuck in the sticks as I was, it took years to piece together exactly what happened, period. Could not have imagined that I would get to a place where, after I found out they wanted $700 for a ticket to their latest concert, the Rolling Stones were performers I could hardly bear to think about.

The worthy move now is to step away from the monster villains Hell’s Angels, the tainted, tormented, tortuous superstars, the cosmic cultural moment and focus on the key victim. And never again imagine that Meredith Hunter died because he waved a pistol around.

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #69: Electrorganism 2010

Mixdisc I made that I ran across in that pile of books and CDs on the floor of the office. I particularly like the slow-build numbers at the start, then the program gets rather wacked-out before calming down for the finish. But at any rate, it’s Very Me and here it is:


1. K. Leimer, “Aerial” (1980)

2. Supernatural Hot Rugs Not Used, “Spa World”

3. Earthmonkey, “The Breeder Belt Tar Hogs”

4. Ghost, “Motherly Bluster”

5. Giant Squid, “Megaptera in the Delta”

6. Zodiak, “Sermons”

7. Nels Cline, “Dirty Baby, Pt. 3”

8. Mofongo, “Tumbao”

9. Miriodor, “La Roche”

10. F/I, “Observation (The Eye on Top of the Pyramid)” (1986)

11. Bola, “Versivo”


Number 10 is a special goodie for “Gravity Falls” fans.


Final Note on Tomi Ungerer

Got and read (the whole whopping 32 pages) his flat-out children book, Crictor (1958). I feel I have enough of his stuff now. Points:

Lovely that it’s set in a “little French town” where he can get the costumes and shops and landscapes intriguing and correct. Especially fun parts include: Madame Bodot feeding her “baby” boa constrictor milk from a bottle; knitting him a long wool sweater to wear in the snow; his diverse and clever interactions with French kids; and of course his foiling of a burglary in Madame Bodot’s apartment which makes him a snake-hero. Especially weird part: Madam Bodot being tied up and gagged by the thief reminds you of Ungerer’s bondage proclivities.

The ages recommended for the book are 4-8 and I was 6 when it came out. Wish I had read something by him at that time. Can’t imagine my reactions. But I know why he didn’t turn up in my elementary-school bookshelves.

The teachers sensed he was weird. Could cause waves.

Hear Crictor read.


R.I.P.: W. S. Merwin

The memory of you emerges from the night around

me. The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

I became obsessed with W. S. Merwin’s work and the man himself in late high school and early college. He wrote the earth-based but visionary type of poems I lusted to do myself (rather quickly I discovered I did not have the breath of the spirits in me) and his soaring translations of Pablo Neruda and Osip Mandelstam turned me on to both of them. The bucolic Buddhism flowing under his words is unmatched.

My book picks:

The Drunk in the Furnace

The Lice

The Carrier of Ladders (start with this one)

The Compass Flower

Opening the Hand


Merwin gave a reading at MSU in Bozeman my freshman year (1970) and of course I was there. Afterwards, I got him to sign the poster announcing the reading. He was naturally amused and thought it odd I wanted a poster and not a book, but, y’know, rock stars sign the posters of their concerts. He was a very gracious, generous and kind man who made sure the wobbly fan from the sticks did not freak out in any way.

I was blessed that the first two literary figures I encountered in person were William “Gatz” Hjortsberg and Merwin. I thought, “Wow, writers are very friendly and civilized people. Inspirations.”  Little did I know.  But the lovely fantasy made me want to do what they did.

Namaste forever.