Puss and Glop 2018

This poll that started back when Neanderthals voted in the Village Voice has acted like I don’t exist for years and years now and I’ve returned the favor for a while.

I’ve only thought of one new thing to say: the poll had a lot of power in its peak era because it damn near covered the popular-music profession. The whole gang voted.

Now, given the interwebs horde of podders and posters and piddlers and poopdits, the poll doesn’t represent anything except another Usual Gang of Idiots among the zillions.

So — eeeh.

A Tiny Miracle I Don’t Praise Often Enough

A two-way MBTA train runs about 50 yards behind my office. I was sick with worry when we first moved in that the noise would prevent me from being able to concentrate on writing.

I plowed into the first serious project and a glorious feeling poured over me when I finished it and realized the train racket absolutely vanished when I was draining my brain onto the screen. I never hear it while writing.

When having trouble falling asleep, on the other hand …

You Are What You Bot, Not What Bots You

I got a malware pitch this week that tried to ask me “If I had any advice to blog writers.”

Sorry, evil machine, no direct response to you. But not the worst question. Because a quite simple answer came to me, which was of course an intention of the twisted bot pitch.

For me, blogs are:

Not Confessional

Not Confrontational

Are Conversational

Basically, the oldest message I’ve sent out on the Interwebs — don’t write/post/whatever you would not say on the open street where anyone could hear you. But try to hold an active, varied, funny conversation that entertains and provokes ideas and new interests.

I can do quick, informal reviews of whatever I want here, old or new. And I’m very gratified that these are now considered real journalism of very informal sort. That’s fun, and the fun is what I want to preserve.

The Chaotic Creation of the Digital Newsroom

I’ll probably need a second life to read this book, but I wish that were more possible. This is a crucial tale and the selected examples are perfect. Abramson was of course correct about how to keep the professional ethics intact, but in retrospect that was not gonna happen under any circumstances. Must note that the one myth believed by too many otherwise smart people was that “local news” was going to be the fiscal salvation of modern journalism: that readers would pay more for hacked-out stories set in their neighborhoods than the most brilliant presentation and explanation of world-sized stories. I thought it mostly reflected contempt for the audience.

There Goes Simon’s Rhymin’

We voted this morning (Yes, Yes, Yes and Mr. Baker is toast and even better there was no doughnut table to guilt-trip you about not donating something to the polling-place school).

Then I did my initial listen to what, for now anyway, is Paul Simon’s final album, In the Blue Light. And it felt like closing a circle.

Back in Park Senior High, the simpering set adored Simon & Garfunkel, but I thought “Parsley” puke and even “Sounds of Silence” too quivering-nerve. “Bridge Over” was impossible to scoff away, however, and did provide my first revelation: the simp set was in love with Artie and Paul was ready to divorce all of them.

I think the Dean has had a damn-near-perfect ear for Simon through the decades and we responded to identical same tracks. Except that I always adored “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor,” which came out the year I became an official adult and started living in my own apartment. Yeah, here’s somebody mirroring my mind. But I did have trouble with “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” — thought it was abstruse. I have not checked to see how much lyrics were modified, but sure enough, this is now a masterful metaphysician operation.

Biggest stinko of the whole set (I’ve listened to it twice and realized I did not even grok this cut the first time through) is that “Love” is track #2. It’s a plain regression to S&G manners and mores and even language. Worst of all, it confirms that part of Simon still respects simp swill. And if “The Teacher” is clearer than it used to be, I still can’t bother to pierce its opaque. It is abstruse.

“Darling Lorraine” is a casually complex example of the Simon the old pimple farms would never grasp — he became an adult, even a weathered adult, not just a pop star with years heaped on him. “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns” pulls back every lonely era of my life and best of all “Can’t Run But” delights me anew as a twittering and trumpeting machine that radiates the sensibility of the saints.

Thanks for the trip.

Fred W. McDarrah: “New York Scenes”

A superb hardcover presentation I am proud to own.

In sunny moments, I remember how seeing many of these for the first time on microfilm at Montana State University Library thrilled and excited me — this was how this world hidden by my isolated Montana culture looked!

In dreary afternoons like today’s, it can suggest not only a vanished world but a broken, or at least unfulfilled, promise: American bohemia would last forever; there was always going to be places, more and more maybe, where you could run wild and break the rules if you did it with grace and style. But true mass bohemia ruins the phenomenon. And the decline and fall of the Establishment made the rebellions empty.

In calm evenings like this, I can settle on being grateful that I met Beat writer stars Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsburg and found the latter to be especially funny, entertaining, wonderful in a rowdy Montana bar and even a wise, guru-type person. He conveyed a lasting impression of the freedom Beat and Hippie granted youth.

Oh, and the book includes a marvelous photo I had not seen of Leonard Cohen right before his first NY performance.