Lost Cat Scratch Records

bleached lost notebookclosed lost notebook
lost notebook
tattered lost notebook flyingShelves and time and maybe a cat had pulled on Billie Holiday. The poor, young handsome Glenn Gould, too. All these great geniuses, not the minor kind. The kind that shoot across the nighttime sky, the horizon of time itself, once in a thousand years. My records inside their sleeves, inside their thin cardboard covers, they were mostly good. Maybe the White Album was a little trashed. Everybody’s White Album should be a little trashed, its middle fold holding a little spent shake even after all these years from someone rolling weed. So many of the records, LP’s as they get called now to distinguish them from something else quite meaningless in comparison to them (IRS records, medical records, police records, etc.), and from other media (downloads, mp3s, CD’s, etc.), but I myself never called records anything but records—they’ve gone the way of basement floods, the whirlwinds of Sandy’s destruction, and just the progressive whim of moving on to the next big thing . . .

Once I had had a party, and it was quite mad, and so was I, and I had all my records playing laid out flat on their covers on their sleeves on the floor. And after everybody was gone I couldn’t find Blood On The Tracks—only just the black record itself—to put it back. It was just gone. That was twenty years ago and when I went to confirm with a friend the other day which album Bob Dylan had sung his line about keeping on keeping on in, to end the curiosity that had popped up in the middle of our conversation, we pulled out my copy of Blood On The Tracks to see the record inside it was gone. Shelves and time and maybe a cat. Robert Frost might say, these had not done it, exactly, but something wild and bombastic and crazy once upon a summer’s eve had. After turning down a $15 vinyl copy of it at the flea market the other day, and even when the vendor had offered he could do it for me for ten (because I had wanted just another five dollar copy of it), I said no, but I appreciated it. Charlie tapped me on the shoulder a little later on from behind and gave me the CD  for nothing. That was sweet. “Another guy here just gave it to me, and I’ve already got one, here,” he had said, pulling the $8 sticker off the plastic case. Next week when I was making my rounds, I gave him a sack of vegetables—chard, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers—grown from my backyard vegetable garden. “I like vegetables, thanks,” Charlie said, and I wandered back off into the market and town again.

‘Blame It On A Simple Twist Of Fate’

He knew she did not want a scholar. He knew she didn’t want one who could quote Thucydides and Marx. He knew, too, that even though his conversations were aptly (and ironically) peppered with this and that funny reference to George’s declension in Albee’s great Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she didn’t want that either. He knew that what he was for many women might not be enough, that as a pianist, he was a hack. Not good enough there, oh well. Then off she went (some other) with another who held concerts at Lincoln Center. He spent so much time with his fingers in the dirt, plucking tomatoes he had tied up with strips of old bedsheets, that he did not have hours enough to understand her growing pains. He could not abide her learning curve (which admittedly was very long, and very steep.) Like J. Alfred’s hair parted behind, his patience was as thin as his time became brief. His mind’s harvest became all-consuming, and his heart’s willingness unforgiving. He became the inverse of the man he once had been. And as I looked at the lengths of heavy timber dropped off at the backside of my yard, I could feel the aching in my wrists to come, the splitting season about to begin. Above all else, I had to do this—chop wood—lest I be cold and also alone throughout the many lonely months of the days soon approaching winter.

Polaroid Tree On Fire

polaroid tree

We had always meant these things to be fun. And we had always meant these things to be extravagant. After all, we ourselves were fun and we were extravagant. If there had been fools to give our money to, we would have given our money to all the fools. And if we had been princesses, we would have given them all our jewels. There was nothing we would hide, and nothing we would not disclose. We went to market with our wallets open, our purses unstrung. One time, an archer among us, he had a quiver full of one thousand arrows, and he shot one thousand arrows directly into the heart of the Sun. The entire time he laughed, and was laughing. One of us, a dreamer, woke up laughing. “I dreamt a dream,” he said, upon waking, and then went back to sleep forever. The bankers banked. The looters looted. These were glorious times, and everyone did as he did. And everyone, too, did as she did. A seamstress among us, she sewed seams by night and day. The proprietor of a butcher shop, she cut with an ax bones and meat all day. Ah, these were glorious times indeed! Sometime a hard rain fell, and it was just that, nothing more: a hard rain. Since then, everything was mixed up. Since then, everything has been mixed up. Times and tenses askew, awry. . . .The pickpockets sell candy and trinkets on the corner place. The realtors herd sheep in the meadow. The priests sells bonds to large companies. The newspaper carriers collect extinct passenger pigeons in glass boxes, or pin the wings of butterflies back on white framing paper. The teachers peddle marbles and board games which of course nobody thinks of ever buying. The dancers fish coins out of wishing wells in this or that piazza. Some of us, who were the loners, we harken back in our minds to simpler times which we all still sometimes remember, chatting now about the old days gone, around campfires to our new found friends crouching with us there in the glowing dark.

Time On Our Side

collapsing barn

He and his wife had been on their way to hear Bob Dylan. He was playing in a baseball field. He’d heard Lou Reed, B.B. King, and even David Byrne, too, before her. And if there was one thing in the world he had wanted, it was to hear Bob Dylan play, if only once in his life. Along the way, along the rolling grassy green backroad hills to get there, there were small strawberry stands or local honey booths, and posted metal traffic signs along the narrow paved roadside warning motorists to look out for slowly moving Amish wagons. Before getting to Cooperstown, which is known for its Baseball Hall of Fame, there was a gigantic, wooden farm or farmhouse, a country building of some kind, that had been caught in the middle of falling down. There are of course castles in England where from the multitudes of missing stones enough of the walls survive so that the mind recreates them instantly. The imagination’s masonry does it practically without thinking, building up together all the ‘negative’ spaces with the ‘positive’ ones—the sunlit gaps of light with the impenetrable rock solids—to remake these great, regal citadels of yore. They are truly magnificent, and I have dreamt of standing before them one day myself.

But America is a land of barns and fallen wooden things, and wooden things fall apart in different ways than stone ones. Time pulls them down little by little. They don’t get knocked, not by elves exactly. And along the way, they take on new shapes of completely new structures which only remind us of the old and original ones, but don’t quite harken exactly back to them the way true castles do in the moors. Back in 2006, when Bob Dylan was in the hey-day of his Never Ending Tour, it was already over forty years after upsetting the world at Newport by plugging in his electric guitar in ‘65. After almost a decade after that concert in Doubleday Field, after that couple’s marriage had been long shot, the message for them once traveling together still remains the same: things they are always a-changin’, the only thing permanent is impermanence, and for all things that come into being there is decay. As for the show . . . the one put on by music’s august and craggy elder statesman that night in a black cowboy hat had been rockin’ great.