For my money, the Roxbury Russet can be one of the most delicious, complex heirloom apples — and it comes with a natural conversation starter in that it was the first North American apple and etc. etc. But the ones I’ve found around here haven’t had much character this year. All changed this weekend.
Here’s the scoop for locals: go out to Allendale Farm and grab a passel of their own Roxbury Russets. Good as any I can remember tasting.
I see there’s a new biography about him. I should go back over the poems first. After a too-formal start, they do get dramatically stronger (and harrowing) and then better in a more reflective way toward the end. Wright and Richard Hugo were students of Ted Roethke and did hang out together. Here’s a couple anecdotes from Hugo about Wright. He said Wright was both wonderfully engaging and kinda terrifying to be around — since, though Hugo didn’t understand this exactly, if Wright was out at all, he was in a manic phase. Hugo said Wright slept with a full tumbler of straight whiskey next to his bed so he could start gulping it the moment he woke up. Hugo recounted another time when Wright’s son, Franz, was riding in a car with them, and noted that Wright knew his boy (who also won a Pulitzer for poetry) was gifted with language. As an example, he mentioned the six-year-old exclaimed, as they passed a big stars and stripes flapping on a pole, “Look! Our country’s flag!”
Continuing the process of trying to hear everything Cole recorded. To start at the start, I knew The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch” from the original Nuggets collection but for many years I did not know, out of raw ignorance, that this was Cole’s first band (only album came out in ’68 when he was 20). Then, since I never even saw a single copy of it, I smoothed over my curiosity by assuming (like the dummy I was) that Just Colour suffered from the usual Nuggets Curse (that is, aside from the one marvelous track, the album was either too derivative or outright bleh). I got the definitive 2008 reissue on Rev-Ola and wowsers was I wrong — one of the best garage-classic-containing LPs I’ve heard and a Rilly Weird. Piece of Work. “Underground Railroad,” “Who’ll Read the Will,” “Don’t Close the Door on Me” and the last track, “Sin” show Cole’s angry, morbid/supernatural and proto-punk attitude in place already. Only [small] defect: the two unreleased Bonus Tracks are weak. The sort of simpering stuff you were afraid the whole album would be like.
The YIKES is that on what I believe is the Pierced Arrows final album, Descending Shadows, the songwriting and performing remain intact, but Cole’s voice sounds wracked and ravaged. Not surprised this was the end. Still, perfect final song for a free spirit who flew his own way decade after decade: “Coming Down to Earth.”
I could not do any better than this.
Except to add a sad note — Avakian lived long enough to see albums and liner notes go out of fashion.
They’re kind of a menace, honestly.
They’re around here all the time. Have sat and shat on our roof. I watch for them nonstop, because especially groups with a couple Toms can become standout pests. You want to chase them away from any area you care about. Because if they think they can wander around with impunity, they will be back every other day.
I’ve had to smack a Tom with a broom as he raced toward me — his noise was not “gobble gobble” but a screeeeech. Now I don’t approach even a couple of hens without a broom and waving it at them aggressively seems to work. You think they must have a communications network: “Stay away from grumpy old Miles — he’s not worth the trouble.”
Confirmation that I’m on to something.
I have, surprise, two positive notes about the end of this psycho:
He has come to be viewed, not as a transgressive antihero or the depraved underside of all rebellion, but as a freaky product of freaky times.
Unlike what a lot of people feared, he’s become a smaller and smaller footnote to the story of the Beatles. Not least because their work remains undiminished.