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.

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.

Helpless, helpless

house

There is a place called Ontario. I had been there, long, long ago. In it was a lake and an island. On the island was a cabin. There was no running water, and there was no electricity. This was long ago. For water, visitors to the island walked down the pine needle-covered winding path to the lake with galvanized buckets, and carried them full of water back up to the top. To call this a memory is improper. To call this the ‘past’, too, is improper. Neither the past, as it once was, or—might have been—known, nor memory itself, exists anymore. They have all been smashed on the head of a pin, which formerly stood—the pin, or the head of the pin, in particular—as the image or the metaphor for the opposite or counter-reason for time being stretched out. Which is to say that if it were not ‘stretched out’ then everything that was shall already have been. That was the argument. However the instantaneity, the technological ubiquity of everything all at once, the operational ease with and by which any object or factum or ‘thing’ in the known universe can be summoned digitally by the wizard wands which persons today so commonly wield & possess, this has made the dimensions of time itself as we humans (when we were such) altogether, and if not that, then altogether quite, vanished from the planet. What were once imprecise and fallible and even unreliable memories become data points, scattered across a Cartesian coordinate system, perfectly locatable wherever they be, having no more nor any less value or meaning than any other dot or datum, virtually anywhere in this vast nebula qua network. In sum, the eternity of everything has made our own human living somewhere in the galaxy, this ‘Milky Way’, now pointless, useless, and any remaining nostalgia for the rag and bone complex of life itself is become its own remnant that in its hum-drum biology is only a superfluage which so far can’t be gotten rid of, like other things that once were discarded by hands as ‘excessive’, or ‘obsolete’, or ‘gone past’, or ‘let go’.