Strange Traditions

Seven forty.

It would be nice to feel comfortable and free from pain for a while. The word indolence comes to me, in its original sense of painlessness.

On Thursday afternoon I put on the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears and listened to all of it. It didn’t get much critical acclaim but it was a commercial success, according to Wikipedia. In the mid seventies, however, Jaco Pastorius and Mike Stern both played with the band, so BS&T was good enough for them. Every once in a while I dig out the CD and give it a spin, like a point of reference or a yardstick for my life. That insane Lew Soloff trumpet solo on “Spinning Wheel” always gets me hyper. And the joke at the end: “That wasn’t too good.” The band cracks up because they knew they were good. After the third album they lost their producer and were never as popular. And yet they kept the band going with the drummer as producer and still persisted underground, jamming and inspiring younger players. It became a band by musicians for musicians.

Nine o five.

It’s a cloudy day. There isn’t much to say right now. Yesterday I had a dream about an old friend and band mate, a guitarist named Marc. But the scene with music was rather unsafe so that I felt scared. I wanted no part of the devil or going to hell— and I didn’t see the relevance of demonology to music anyway. It’s not a good thing for a schizophrenic person to get into. Better to keep things simple.

I actually resent that old Blues tradition, but I can’t kick against such a majority. I’d like to know what the devil really has to do with it.



Eleven o’clock.

It’s another strange kind of day to me, and I didn’t sleep well during the night because of my financial worries. I just hang on and hope that things get better around the world.

And the strong seem to get more

While the weak ones fade

Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade

Mama may have

And Papa may have

God bless the child that’s got his own

That’s got his own

Noise and Glory

Seven thirty.

The silence right now is sepulchral. But when I went to the store it was fairly busy. I saw mostly guys there, but also one Black woman in line ahead of me. It’s another clear morning with the high expected to be 98F. In the parking lot of the market I passed a car occupied by a very voluble bloodhound. It took me a minute to realize the origin of the noise; I could hear it from many yards away on the sidewalk. When I compare a day like today with events only a year ago, I think, “There hath passed away a glory from the earth.” I wonder whither fled the visionary gleam with the freshness of a dream. Everything is so ordinary, prosaic, and mundane nowadays. And yet, who are we to demand more than this? Vaguely I was also thinking of my mother as I walked home, and her name just happened to be Gloria. It was she who gave my creativity a soul for most of my lifetime.

Eight twenty.

Aesop my cattle dog had his breakfast of turkey and green bean canned food, chomping it down with gusto. The quiet prevails, broken only by the sound of birds. But now, Roger decided to come out and do one of his projects. There’s a siren beyond my suburb screaming bloody vengeance at somebody. Silence is golden, but the noise can’t be helped. It’s the contract we make with society. I’m opting out of church again, indefinitely. I’m free to do at least that. “Give me my freedom for as long as I be / All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.” If silence is golden, then music is glorious.


Eight thirty.

I was at the store looking over the frozen foods when I heard “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears come on the radio. I listened along and then I realized it was the album version with the incredible trumpet solo by Lew Soloff. I mentioned it to Michelle, but she didn’t know how to respond. But for me it was a kind of inspiration, and in spite of everything else that goes badly, I feel that my life still has cosmic meaning and purpose, as guided by the “stars.” It is difficult having Saturn for my ruling planet, yet it motivates me in my perambulations east and west along Maxwell Road and elsewhere in the city. I shuffle on the sidewalks like an old bum, hearing music in my head and muttering things to myself, though I’m an intelligent old bum. 

The BS&T song this morning makes me rethink my music projects, even if the issue of alcohol is one that will never go away. I just hope I’ll have the wisdom and strength to resist the temptation in the future to drink. It’s a gray and overcast day so far today, so maybe it won’t get as warm, and I can make my trip over to Bi Mart without any trouble. 

On My Third Anniversary

Nine o’clock. Just dreamed about trying to play bass guitar on a push button phone: it didn’t work. I wanted to accompany some Rush recordings with my own bass playing. The tones I got from a phone were unsatisfactory. Just an electronic beep and burble. Even the background music was not as expected. Neil didn’t sound like himself on drums. The soul of the music was lost in the Digital Age. So now I long for analog times, which sounded warmer and more natural, more human. As a 52 year old man, I feel like Rip Van Winkle, an anachronism, a man out of time. The rain begins again as I sit here tapping an accursed iPhone. Aesop stares at me innocently. I dread the day when they do bionic surgery on people. I’d rather die than live longer with computer chips in my body. Just let me go naturally, as the old BS&T song goes. One song that only I remember, unless it be fished out of the archives for commercial purposes. I heard it on the PA at Grocery Outlet once. Shop for your mortal needs while “And When I Die” reminds you that time’s a wasting. Time… but do they know about eternity? This is the part they don’t advertise, and it’s up to you and me to find it, on the Internet maybe, or better in the features of a landscape, both seen and heard. Or in the warm, smooth tones of a vinyl LP playing music of the earth and of the Spheres…