Monday, March 26, 2012

Elegy For Stanley Gorski, Men of Like Passions, Regrets, The Beatles, Drive-By Truckers

Joe Laspro left and Victor Morales in "Elegy For Stanley Gorski" at Subversive Theatre.

Big house for Elegy For Stanley Gorski at Subversive Theatre Saturday night, a play I'm cast in. Thanks for coming, guys. And for picking up the tab.

I run into a person I casually know on Elmwood Avenue. Should we hug? Hug? Are we hugging? Yes! It's a hug. Hugging. Hugging.

Men of Like Passions at Buffalo East.

Playwright Justin Karcher of Theatre Jugend asked me to come and review his new play Men of Like Passions which just completed a run this past weekend at Buffalo East. After serious deliberation with myself I posted a mostly negative review on my blog. By the end of the day I realized how wrong my review was and deleted it. His back alley anti-everything comedy about three young slackers navigating life with an unhealthy Christian obsession indeed possesses a strange magic. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Troubling and alienated, it defines a moment in today's aimless youth culture that is the historical now. I'm thinking, rock musical?

Last night I didn't get to sleep at all, all ,all. - The Fifth Dimension

No, but seriously. Asking to befriend someone on Facebook and de-friending them a little while later is an exercise in malice normal social life doesn't offer. Go punch a mirror, clown.

So anyway, I got this play cooking on the back burner. OK I exaggerate, it's simmering on the back burner. All right! All right! It burnt on the back burner. Here's the only line I salvaged and I'm thinking it may serve as the closing line of the play:

"He didn't, as I feared he would, run up to the stage and clobber me with his Rudy Valle megaphone".

Any suggestions?

"one, two, three, comp, comp, comp, four, five, comp, comp, comp ..." (Kathleen Gaffney counting the house during the last days of Studio Arena).

Victory: The Father Baker Story. Still haunts me. Nasty comments were inexcusable. Talk about your misdirected malice.

And Susan Sorenson is still the finest actress I've ever seen on the local stages, (and I had the pleasure of working with her twice). How I managed to say anything else about her on this blog is beyond me.

Time for me to go to church. The church of music that it. Forgive me Father for I have wanged, danged and doodled all night long. The iPod gods have handed me my 10 random penances:

1. The Beatles, Fixing A Hole

Indeed I am. Hundreds of years from now music lovers will still be listening to Beethoven, Bach and The Beatles. It's a comforting thought. The Paul McCartney penned and sung Fixing A Hole is all about fixing what you can and embracing what you can't. It's the quintessential Beatles art-psych song. The simple stark vocal track has just a perfect bit of dubbing manipulation causing me to imagine, "Seven Beatles standing there", (The line is "See the people standing there"). Could somebody somewhere be suggesting that an entire team of talented recording engineers worked on the record? That's producer George Martin on harpsichord. From Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

2. The Beatles, Here Comes The Sun

While being a simple and lovely ode to sunrise, Here Comes The Sun is also an intricate and complex recording with illustrious technological wonder. Loaded with subtle syncopation (the crawling Moog synthesizer rising just above the last stanza's rhythm; the manipulation of speed), the song draws the listener in to a garden of audio delights. It's a George Harrison composition and project without any contribution from John Lennon who was recovering from a car accident when it was recorded. The late astronomer Carl Sagan tried to include Here Comes The Sun on spacecraft launched in The Voyager Space Program in 1977, on a recording intended to provide to any alien life forms an example of human civilization. The corporate owner of the song, music giant EMI, refused to relinquish the rights to the song. From Abbey Road.

3. The Undisputed Truth, What It Is?

Over-powered by funk. The Undisputed Truth were a 1970s psychedelic soul group who had a smash hit with Smiling Faces Sometimes, and a minor hit with What It Is?, a funk guitar driven jam with lyrics suggesting we all go down dancing with the system - "Ain't no words to this song, you just dance and hum along". If this beat doesn't get you moving, you have no brain cells left. From the album, Face To Face With The Truth. Funk out!
4. Caustic Resin, Fry Like Ace Jones

God, what a beautiful song. Did you ever get a cold chill right through your heart while looking at an old 1930s police file photo of a gangster getting electrocuted? No? Well, you and me don't mix well anyway. A soul stirring, slide guitar wailing, acid tinged cry-out for humanity from a doomed rat. It's lovely. Brett Netson, original bass player for Built To Spill, and his band Caustic Resin played an intimate show some years ago at Mohawk Place in Buffalo, NY, (there were about 5 of us in attendance), and it was truly inspiring. When Netson's guitar string broke in the middle of a gorgeous slow ballad and I laughed out loud, I was certain he was going to set his guitar down, walk over, and kill me. In my humble opinion, one of rock 'n roll's best kept secrets. From the album, Keep On Truckin.
5. Drive-By Truckers, Wallace

I've done these random iPod lists three times on my blog, and all three times Drive-By Truckers have showed up, with three songs appearing on this list alone. Wallace is a brass and bluesy Skynard sounding song with a Sweet Home Alabama chorus welcoming the late segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace to Hell - Throw another log on the fire boys / George Wallace is coming to stay / When he met St. Peter at the pearly gates / I'd like to think a black man stood in his way. From the album Southern Rock Opera. Hear Wallace here.
6. Angels of Light, Song For Nico

Michael Gira's (Swans) other band. I don't know Nico (Christa Paffgen). I 've never actually listened to The Velvet Underground and Nico's debut album from 1967, even though it's widely considered to be one of the best rock music albums of all time. Her influence on pop culture is considerable. Bob Dylan was inspired enough to write a song about her, I'll Keep It With Mine. There are at least two other songs with the title Song For Nico by Marianne Faithful and Los Angeles band The Warlocks. She was a model, singer, songwriter, actress and beloved heroin addict who died in 1988 as a result of a bicycle accident. She made films with Andy Warhol and hung out with Rolling Stone Brian Jones. Not knowing her doesn't keep me from loving Angels of Light's Song For Nico, a song so audio friendly you just want to plug an electric guitar into an amp and play along. Easy chords. Hard-as-nails Michael Gira has a sweet, tender side and it finds him here conjuring a richly textured simplicity hip deep in flowery love and cosmic longing. From the album, How I Loved You.

7. Drive-By Truckers, Dead, Drunk and Naked.

Proud to be an alcoholic and working on the drug addiction. Oh, youth! You can here Dead, Drunk, and Naked.

8. General Public, Tenderness

An 80s new wave lollipop of confectionery pop that is irresistible. Love the (French?) horn dropped subtly into the mix and the lyric, I open my mouth and out comes something spiteful. General Public was an 80s supergroup with members from The Beat, The Clash, Dixies Midnight Runners and The Specials. They dissolved after a severe lineup change and a second album. There is a great 12-inch extended version of Tenderness somewhere out there in eBay land. From All The Rage. Get a little Tenderness here.

9. Drive-By Truckers, The Southern Thing

Given the odds of The Truckers showing up here so many times, I really should go play craps while pumping them out of my iPod. Another decry at Neil Young's anti-racist rants (Southern Man), the song says to "stay out of the way of the southern thang". I will because I'm a damn Yankee. The song has a great pump and hook. Get some Southern Thing here.
10. The Beatles, Wild Honey Pie

From The Beatles, (The White Album), this short ditty sounds like love's last anguished remorse as sung by dying vegetables in an autumn garden.

funk power. over and out.