Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Downtown Northampton - Daytime

"You've got mail!"
Photo above taken on Pearl Street behind the nightclub. Speaking of guitars, I saw "It Might Get Loud" this week at the Pleasant Street Theatre. It seemed like the "summit" hadn't yielded as much magic as hoped so there's very little actual chat between Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. What conversation exists is awkward and the jams are odd, especially The Band's "The Weight." How about asking Page to play "I Will Follow," Edge to attempt "Icky Thump," and Jack to try (obviously) "Hat's Off To (Roy) Harper?" The film is edited together into thematic and biographical parts. I was thoroughly engaged all the way through despite its shortcomings. It's fun to see Page in his record room using a turntable, the staircase where Bonham kicked off "When The Levee Breaks," the old new wave hairdos of U2, and hear the story of Jack and Meg's red and white peppermint motif and Jack's favorite song ("Grinnin' In Your Face" by Son House.) (Click to hear it!)
Above: The scene at Kathy's Diner; a place where hipsters and almost off the rails townies have always co-existed in a scrambled sort of harmony with Patsy Cline on the jukebox speaking to any generation within earshot. I used to eat there after a night of beer and music at Sheehans's when it was still the Red Lion Diner and that crazy ol' Big Mike(?) used to cook there. I pointed out a cockroach in my omelette to him once and he plucked it out and said, "there." Below: This is the flesh of a telephone pole.
I ran into John Allen after breakfast with Dave and he (Dave) took this photo. There may be an identical photo taken 25 years ago back when we were wee lads.
Alice and perhaps Sir Gawain on their way to meet the Mad Hatter and the Green Knight on an anachronistic double breakfast date at the Green Bean.
I must notify Sesame Street immediately about this find.
State Radio play the Calvin tonight and they played an acoustic set at NBO this morning prior to a 5K road race to benefit Darfur.
These two cats have both lost their way. Do you recognize either? Call the numbers below.
Written on the wall in the Thornes Market men's room.
Bonnie Ascher tributes continue. Below, the window of Yes Computers on Pleasant Street.
A sign seen around the Market Street neighborhood, here affixed to an angelic white "ghost-cart" outside of Roz's Place, inspired by Bonnie's vehicle of choice. This is a beautiful and inspired shrine in the tradition of "ghost bikes" for fallen cyclists. There is a website dedicated to these bikes and their pilots, but no ghost-cart site as of yet. Here is the site's page for dear Meg Sanders who lost her life on her bike at Smith College in 2005. Meg's ghost bike was leaning against a tree near the scene of the accident. Blake Goodman, a cyclist killed in Amherst recently, had his ghost bike vandalized. Who would do this? There is a reward offered by Blake's dad for info. Here is Larry Kelley's post about Blake's bike.
Here's Paul Shoul's photo of Bonnie, who did ride a bike on occasion which as you can see had a bin for bottles and cans strapped on the back. It's hanging inm the window of the fabulous vintage store RETRO GENIE. Click here to read the whole story of this picture.
Here is a delightful video shot in Northampton by World's Greatest Dad for their song "Jacqueline." Click the collage. This was shot around Market Street, Bonnie's 'hood.
Here's a short video clip I shot at the Iron Horse of Sup Pop band Dum Dum Girls who have a '60s girl group meets Jesus and Mary Chain magic that made me tingle all over. They opened for King Khan and the BBQ Show. P.S. Fuck Buttons tomorrow night (Sunday) is now at the Iron Horse, not Pearl Street.
I am Son Of Man by Magritte for Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2009

R.I.P. Bonnie

I saw my neighbor Bonnie carted away with an oxygen tank in an ambulance this weekend out my window and an anonymous poster here on Nohodome told me she died this weekend. Anonymous said...Sad news in the hood.... Heard today that Bonnie passed away. She was a tough old gal and a good heart. October 26, 2009 4:39 PM. Bonnie, like Timmy Young, was a downtown fixture. She seemed to have worked out barter arrangements with assorted restaurants, bars, and stores whereby she would sweep in front of the store in exchange for a meal or a drink. When she drank, sometimes I would hear her wailing in the night from her apartment across Market Street from me. "Why God Why Me!!!" I heard once. I don't know how she paid for the apartment. Bonnie DiCarlo (different Bonnie) who used to work at the antique store told me she had money but chose to live the way she did. "She has a daughter." To the casual observer, she was a "shopping cart lady" rounding up bottles and cans. She worked hard, and I always respected her, especially contrasted with the guys under the bridge that sit on the sidewalk and beg daily. "Brutha spare change?" 365 days a year. Morning and night. Bonnie was enterprising. She was hellbent on sweeping up the town. I saw her cleaning along the curbs, sweeping up gravel and dirt that didn't really need to be swept up. I didn't know Bonnie but she is another in the long line of people who have carved out an existence on the edges of downtown Northampton, recognized by all, known by none.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Old Sunrise

This sunrise over Market Street out my window is two weeks old. I didn't remember taking it when I emptied my camera onto the computer and it appeared amidst the conscious shots. I forgot it like I would forget a dream. Look, I captured two ghosts on Hawley just past the crosswalk. I had to tweek it to get some contrast thus the robust gold tint. Robust is a popular word in business and politics lately, you noticed? Robust legislation, etc. You used to never hear it but it's everywhere now "Language is a virus," as Laurie Anderson said.
I used to live right on Main St. looking out over downtown. At 4 in the morning the streets and sidewalks are deserted. You can see how wide the street really is; the way it looks on the old pre-automobile postcards. A few cars linger...perhaps left by responsible folks who caught a ride home with a sober friend. These cars are the meter-people's first stop at 8AM. Gotcha! I wonder if horses and buggies were ever ticketed back in the old days. I can imagine someone contesting a citation. "The horse ate the damn ticket."

Lately I've adopted a more aggressive cherry-picking motif in my life. I find the good song or two on a record and rescue them from the rest. I put them with all the others on an iTunes playlist, currently called Wedding/Funeral Playlist. Mediocre songs can eat time alive. I also have no problem skipping chapters in a book if they're not holding me. In younger days I'd just stop reading the book for good. It applies to many situations. If I realize I'm not going to be able to finish a pizza (I hate leftover pizza, so a pie gets just one sitting) I don't just eat as many full slices as I can manage and then stop. I eat the good parts of each slice that have the pepperoni on them and leave a pile of scattered "pizza bones" as Bill Stepchew's son used to call them. And for the record, those dough tumors that bubble up on a pizza piss me off. They rob perfectly good acreage from the pie. When those damn bubbles are on a pizza, they shouldn't serve it, god dammit.
Here's a piece of a Franz Wright poem (Wheeling Motel). How persnickity is this? Like the pizza, I don't just pick the poems I like from the book, I pick the parts of the poem. "Egads" as my grandmother used to say.

Then the moon will rise
like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining
the tear on a dead face.

Awesome. I also like this line from Daisy Fried's review of Wright's new book, also called Wheeling Motel, in the New York Times Book Review.

"Franz Wright is uningratiating, bumptiously witty, inexhaustibly joyless, and routinely surprising."

Bumptiously! And how about this one. When's the last time you saw the word cotton used as a verb?

"...those who are strenuously traditional or strenuously hipster won't cotton to Wheeling Motel."

I like the review better than the book I think. Hell, who needs books with robust reviews like Daisy's?

Book Sale at Troubadour Books in Hatfield this weekend

Troubadour Books, one of the best bookstores in the area, arguably in the country, is having a 35% off sale this weekend. Dave and I just drove out there and I picked up some beautiful art and photo books for Xmas presents. Bob Willig has been the man behind the counter for years now. Chris, who you may know from Pleasant Street Video also works there. Here's a great review of the store which is right on route 5 in Hatfield just shy of the Whately town line. There's no website which is just fine. There is a massive collection of modern poetry as well as 1000+ art and photography books. It's a store with no junk books. No filler. Every edition is a treasure of some sort. Free coffee and snacks from Trader Joe's and great music sets the mood for a good two hour browse.

Today Chris was playing Death Cab For Cutie and jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson. As I looked through some Ben Shahn illustrations I realized Death Cab derives a lot of inspiration from Elliot Smith, especially the vocals and arrangements. He was on my mind because my old friend Mary Lou Lord was commenting on Facebook last night about an old cassette she found of her and Elliot playing songs together in someone's living room. I wonder if that's something others might like to hear. I should ask her.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


As much as I like to write, I have never had much follow through or patience. I like the concept of being a "writer" but I tend to wallow in the idea more often than doing the work that would make it a reality. I'm quite pleased with myself for actually maintaining this blog for two years now. If it wasn't public, I doubt I would have stuck with it. Nothing like blogs existed in the 70% of my life that was pre-internet. But what is the modern definition of a writer? It used to mean a novelist or newspaper columnist. Maybe all this time that I have aspired to be a writer, I've actually become one. I suppose being paid is a good indication of writerdom. My friend Dave doesn't get paid but he is among my favorite writers. I have all his old pre-internet letters and they would make a hilarious "collected letters" book. I wonder if the equivalent of "the collected letters of author name here" will be replaced by "The Collected e-mails, Tweets, and Facebook posts of author name here." What would Shakespeare's tweets have been like had the technology been there or Bukowsi's or Virgina Woolf's? I lost a thousand or so emails exchanged with an ex-girlfriend (due to old Yahoo mailbox limits) written during the two worst years (in hindsight) of my life. (See "cakewalk of pain" below). I know there were some answers in there that would shed some light on what the hell I thought I was doing, but I'll never see them again, perhaps for the best.
What I do have is dozens of notebooks I bought whenever I was finally going to sit down and start my writing life. True to form, each has maybe 20 pages filled, and the rest is blank. Why was it so important to start a new one after abandoning the previous one for a year or so? I just love a crisp new notebook and not some old used one that's already written in. Silly but true. Sometimes I'd just flip the old one over and upside down and start writing from the back. SO. I am now paging through some of them and I thought I'd share some of the more notable entries. They are mostly short phrases. I know this is somewhat vain, and disciplined writers (especially Stephen King, whose On Writing I'm reading now) would scold me for dumping these nuts and bolts out on the floor. I have no defense. At some point I should cull all the worthwhile stuff out and consolidate it. Much of the contents is captured thoughts for use in "the novel" or memoir that will probably never be written. If I can even decipher my atrocious handwriting (example below.) Some of this I have no recollection of writing at all and I can't figure out what I was getting at. Some of it isn't even interesting so just for fun and to tempt buried meaning, the illustrations I've included are random images I found by googling the various scribblings (or parts of them) that precede them. I'm addicted to juxtapositions.

Rough draft of a poem read at my sister's wedding. (Pic is random, not us)
My sister Sarah is the son my parents never had.
She's got a lot of sand in her, and guts and lily pads.
When I tried out for Little League I couldn't play the game,
But Sarah led the Lassie League to slow pitch softball fame.
I've loved her since the 60s when she was a little baby.
When she grew up and guys would ask, I'd say I'm not sure...maybe.
When she came out her stymied suitors voiced a knowing Doh!
They should have seen it all along, the girl was indigo.


Malignant magic

Yawning earth

Thimble rigging
Old blind visionaries

Top and bottom shelf of the soul

Living but no longer longing

Pegged by a cupcake is beer.
I feel like it's worse now. Everything is worse. Things aren't even things anymore. They've lost their very thingness. Things have to sell things now.
My cakewalk of pain

Look upon all circumstances with the gratitude of a pupil.

Why no bus baggage security or bag scans etc.?

Live neither in the present, past, or future but in the eternal.

How could I end it?

Amputees disarm me.

Taking potshots at the hotshots and the bigwigs at their shindigs, free trade organic torture, minty fresh bloodshed, universal wealthcare, trim the hedge funds, risk profile of a salad bar, anti-retroviral pro-biotic carcinogenic Tuscaloosa pancakes.

Look out baby that shit's about to quintuple and leave us surfing with the cannibals.

People who bought this title also bought: The Tipping Point, crack cocaine in a public park.

That's nonsense? Nonsense!

Does the face look uneven, does one arm drift down, does their speech sound slurred.

What can your body do to your body?

Duck Duck Goose is like Russian Roulette for kindergartners.

George Bush should be challenged to take the SAT test. If he said no, he'd look scared,and if he took it, well, we'd see. I'd bet he'd get 400s.

I want to see an iMac in the Oval Office.

Do presidents really work at the Oval Office desk like we would at our jobs? What's in the drawers. Does the White House place Staples orders? Do they ever make copies? Replace toner cartridges? I mean, what isn't delegated? Do they staple?
Nixon was a character in MAD magazine to me. McGovern was a sticker on our family's van.

How long have you been her?