Tuesday, July 20, 2004

a piano bar...

Anyone know of a really lovely little piano bar?  You know the kind of place.  The sort of little side-street neighborhood place with a piano in the corner, like in a '40s movie.

I'm having a sort of film-noir evening.  I'd love to find some empty little place with good scotch and no one around.  The sort of place you can sit and play the piano and entertain yourself and muse about anything and everything.  Perhaps think about someone in particular, for a while.  Or perhaps just play and think about the keys, the music, old tunes you've long since forgotten.  Stop now and then for a drag off the cigarette you left burning in the ashtray next to you.

Then when the hour is very late, and respectable citizens are long since home in bed, you depart into the night and follow the rain-bright streets wherever your whimsy takes you.  You walk in the cool night air, hands deep in your pockets, until the horizon begins to go gray in the east.

Then you wend your way home to your own bed, to sleep too late and wake up and make fresh coffee and look out your window into a cloudy afternoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2004


I got a rather nasty forwarded email from a casual friend, a few days ago.  Still haven't decided why on earth she felt compelled to send it to ME, of all people.  The gist of it reads as follows:
(heavily edited for general idiocy)
Subject line:  HELL YEAH!!!
Bet you stand up and say HELL YEAH! after you read this.
I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some governmental stooge          with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts for squirting out babies.
Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. Youcan kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban youfrom driving to the ball game.
I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason,that is whythere are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts!
I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia,it is an opinion.
I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers.
The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory arethings like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black EntertainmentTelevision, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United CaucasianCollege Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America and see what happens. Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.
 I believe that if you are selling me a milk shake, a pack ofcigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, ifyou want to be an American citizen you should have to speak English!.
I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass ifyou threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the order"freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.
I feel much safer letting a machine with no political affiliationrecount votes when needed.
 I am sick of "Political Correctness" and of all the suck ups that go along with it. I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born inAfrica, so how can they be "African Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am aEuropean-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather wasfrom Europe.
 I am proud to be from America and no where else.   And if you don't like my point of view, tough!  GET OVER IT!!! WAKE UP WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A COUNTRY TO WAKE UP TO.
I'm not standing.  And I'm not saying "Hell, Yeah."  *Sigh*  Why is it always so uphill to get people to realize that sanity and tolerance takes a lot more courage than the above kind of crap?  And I am terrified that this particular bit of hateful garbage expresses the opinions of the majority of Americans.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Friday, July 02, 2004

To resonate. . .

Lately, I’ve been hearing Johnny Cash songs everywhere; on the car radio, or over the speakers in the local watering hole where I sometimes eat lunch. Then the twenty-something who works upstairs burned me a copy of his last album before he died. She and her boyfriend, just out of school and struggling, actually plunked down money for the cd.

On the first track, he reads from the book of Revelation, and the recording is scratchy, tinny, distant, like it’s been remastered from an old record. Then I’m instantly 7 or 8 years old, listening to my mom’s old Johnny Cash LPs. And something, I can’t define it, something in that grave, deep, southern-inflected voice–and I’m suddenly feeling waves of homesickness, for a warmer, kinder, sepia-tinted past: where a river flows slow and warm and muddy, and kids barefoot in the yard on summer evenings chase lightning bugs. A world where men wear western-cut suits and women wear print shirtwaist dresses to church, every Sunday, and everyone has faith, and hope. Everyone loves their neighbor. The kind of world where children are all safe, and loved, and fed.

Then I came to my senses.

I remembered, just in time, that I am in fact northern born-and-bred, and a lesbian, to boot. That sepia-tinted world--had it ever existed--would prove particularly inhospitable to me.

But I thought all afternoon about how a few words, spoken just so, invoke such a strong response–that’s resonance. For just a moment or two, I was utterly transported. And I felt sorry to leave. Powerful fiction.

The best writing does the same thing. It takes you to another time and place, and creates a longing, a nostalgia for something that never was. Then leaves you grieving when you reach the end.

It seems like there are some factors built into evocative writing. The images trade on the reader’s prior experiences and previous knowledge. Moby Dick might not ring nearly so deeply without the story of Odysseus, for example–a story almost everyone has been exposed to, whether or not they’ve read it. And the story of Ishmael, the outcast son of Abraham in the Bible underpins the whole thing, as well. And now, every story of a lonely man on a long journey has the added weight of Moby Dick driving it, as well.

I worry that it’s going to get harder to achieve that clean, resonant quality as fewer readers seem to be exposed to a canon of accepted-by-the-powers-that-be texts. I was talking to an English major, a college senior, the other day. She’d never read either Milton or Dickens. For what have we traded-out the texts written by those once-cherished dead-white-guys? I don’t know that we got the better end of the bargain.

If I hadn’t grown up reading the Bible (long story, I’ll save it for a different post) that Johnny Cash cd couldn’t have touched me quite the same way. Words from the book of Revelation might have seemed like lovely apocalyptic poetry–but they wouldn’t have rung with the promise of unleashed thunder soon to follow.

And without that thunder, I would still like the album--but it wouldn't really mean very much.