R.I.P.: Roger D. Abrahams

Listened to, and perceptively reported, what Zora Neal Hurston called “lies above suspicion.”

Right off my shelf are African Folktales (1983) and Afro-American Folktales (1985). And I should read more, esp. since he shows such insight into language nuance. Gonna go for the ground-breaker, Deep Down in the Jungle (1964).

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #61

(After many partial plays of Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues.)

Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John, Good Times in New Orleans 1958-1962 (Soul Jam, 2017) A collection of the good Dr.’s vintage studio work that I bought without remembering I had an earlier version of such a survey and played in an attempt to decide if I should ditch one or the other.

Khemmis, Hunted (Spin, 2016). Plugged by Motorhead head as something Doom fans should hear. I agree — fresh synthesis of everything Stoner and Doom from before without wretch-inducing lapses and, while songs are humorless, you can feel the love and comprehensive knowledge of the styles. Nothing feels long long long.

Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize Speech. Yep, as brilliant as everybody claims. Guy’s got a unique memory, seems to me — at my most credulous, I think he’s doing as much a bean-dump on the books as he is on his apprehension of rock, R&B and folk. These swirling spiels are what he retains and he polishes up only until it’s all in his own voice.

Dr. John, Storm Warning (The Early Sessions of Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack) (Jazzmine, 2004) See above. Well, chocomo fee nae nae — with a total 55 tracks between them (six or seven overlaps) the contrasting mood and texture of these collections makes them both worth keeping. The recent one has brighter, more detailed sound, this earlier one livelier mood and feels more like a Dr. John album.

Motorhead, Aftershock — Tour Edition (UDR, 2014). When I recently consulted the Motorhead head (see above) he said Aftershock was their best since the ’90s and said the live disc (“Best of the West Coast Tour 2014”) was either #1 or #2 of such programs. I donno about that, but it is exceptionally strong and highly recommended. The studio album is a deep–late-day triumph for Lemmy & crew — and the salute to him I’ve meant to do since the innocent days I thought his death would be the prime blow to the heart in 2016.

 

The Voynich Finds Its Niche

There’s no point resisting the conclusions of this essay. 

I’ve been fascinated by the manuscript ever since I heard about it as a romantic book-boy out in the sticks. I mentioned it early on in this blog. But I looked at my reproduction around the time I did that post and was disillusioned — how could I have thought the text was a made-up language? It’s merely decorative script-babble. Plus, the mysterious, secret-knowledge manuscript was a lot more common fantasy back in the ’60s and ’70s. I’m almost cynical enough now to put down the Voynich as being too famous for being famous.

Worlds At Once: Guillermo Del Toro at LACMA

Great hunks of the objects presented in this article are currently on display at a special exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And we spent a whole afternoon checking it out. Absolutely overwhelming.

I was amazed how much our fascinations overlapped — esp. up until the start of high school when I was equally obsessed with becoming a painter/comic-book artist and a fantasy writer. (My mother refused to let me take the one art class Park Senior High offered — because “artists starve” — but she couldn’t prevent me from taking English.)

Shortly after I began exploring the, yes, labyrinthine arrangements of rooms and themes, I fell into multiple simultaneous states and experiences:

I was awake and asleep. I relived the dream when I was eight where a giant rattlesnake was coiled in our shower stall and the most hideous creature my imagination ever created blocked my escape into the hall. I was watching TV shows and films that scared me so much I shivered and cried. I was being bitten by the monkey in the rock shop. I was so deep into comics in the sunny corner of my bedroom they felt like films unreeling before me. My father slammed the car door on my hand. I saw a shadow man dancing for many minutes at the foot of my bed. I saw whimsical, slightly scary creatures that nobody else could see scramble across floors and up walls. I poured over stills from horror movies that I longed to view. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad changed my life. Dinosaurs were the perfect obsession because they were monsters that had been real and were hiding somewhere in this current Earth. I was feeding hay to a hippo in a circus that came to town. I was looking at the carcass of a dead sheep as my father skinned it. I encountered Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come To Life. I saw the headlines that a second murder-suicide had happened in our little town in the space of 18 months. I flowed through the hallucinations caused by raw ether when my tonsils were cut out in first grade that prepared me for every drug illusion of my life.

I witnessed a collector who thrilled and gratified my heart.

Like they say, a must-see.

Hard Copy Meant Harder Thinking in Advance

This piece covers all the necessary aspects of this unfortunate dust-up. There’s blame to go around.

But my personal big takeaway is how much whipping out copy at an unimaginable rate has become the norm.

For whatever reason my handwriting has been miserable scrawl from day one (I struggled with it — both my parents had beautiful penpersonship that I much admired and wanted to emulate). So I have scant experience writing in longhand (some poems seemed to emerge easier with that method, but that’s about it). But any type of physical print forced thought before writing.The tedium and time consumption of writing, editing and re-typing is lost on young’uns today, but it made you concentrate harder on what you wanted to say before committing it to paper. The idea that you would not read your article a final time before it went to press was for, well, sub-professionals. Now it’s hit “send” and fergeddit.

I’m less offend by outright vile deeds like the above incident than I am by the endless streams of copy errors that turn up day after day in every publication, online or, sigh, in print.