Monday, January 21, 2008

What I've Learned 1 and 2

OK. I'm stealing this from Esquire.

What I've Learned One:

Oral Surgery + Pain Management Mismanagement divided by Leonard Cohen then multiplied by a primarily 30-something upwardly mobile pub full of Brits (who look upon their parents' Elvis Costello and Squeeze albums much the way I looked upon my parents' Dean Martin and Brazil '66 collection) = utter disaster.

First song in my solo set I thought would be a youngish Brit pub crowd pleaser. "Goodbye Girl" by Squeeze. Easy-Peesy. Three chords. Sing-along chorus.

There's a You Tube version of Glenn Tillbrook playing this solo at a football match, and I used this as a model. When I finished my singing for the 9th "Goobye Girl"--that's it, that's the chorus--silence ensued except for an occasional uncomfortable cough. So mugged was not the word (whatever that means).

Next, because it has been running through my head on an endless loop since a friend of mine followed
Arthur's tracks to Australia for a recent holiday, I had to get this out of my system: "Victoria" by the Kinks. For me, this song kicks major ass (oh, I mean arse). Why it is not the British National anthem is a mystery to me.

Again--a great sing-along chorus. Veddy British. Veddy British crowd, but. . .

. . .when the song ended and as the vibrating, ringing tones of the chorus effects on my first position "G" chord died into the churlish, choleric chill of the desert evening, a weary tumbleweed cowered its way across the dance floor; somewhere crickets chirped as a loose shutter squeekily swung to and fro.

(Is that last sentence too Charles Karaultish?)

Next--Elvis Costello's "Veronica" which admittedly has some pretty depressing verses but it also has an uptempo, bright Buddy Holly-esque bounce to it and only a few naughty major 7ths and diminished chords that slow the song down at one point for a little E.C. poetry recital. I really like this song although I've long been lukewarm on anything E.C. has done since Imperial Bedroom--an early album of his and his opus--I only know this one well enough to play it because an old friend was once very much in love with this song (it reminded her of her grandmother so she'd play it over and over and over).

When I finished this song on its final first position "C", another short period of uncomfortable silence followed broken only by these words, “Where's the loo?"

I may as well have gone on to "Everybody Loves Somebody" at this point, but in a final act of defiance, like that mouse flipping off the eagle about to snuff the lil critter for dinner, I did not finish with my emergency back-up, leave them tapping their feet version of "Paint It Black" (which survives down the generations because of Vietnam war movies). I thought, "fuggit" and went with Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire".

Joe Cocker covered this song. In fact, he's the first person I'd ever heard sing it. So for me, that makes it a British, not a Canadian song. But this crowds' grandparents would only have known this song, yet then again, maybe not.

That song was about as out of place as. . .as. . .as a "drunk in a midnight choir".

I fretted about the underwhelming response in an Email I sent to this the feller I dueted with and he reassured me by writing back:

"Hey, Man,
Don't sweat the performance you gave. I've done songs there that haven't gone over very well just because they're a bit too folky or American. It's a very British crowd who wants lots of poppy, danceable tunes, preferably by British artists."

Beg pardon.

Squeeze? Elvis Costello? Kinks? Not poppy and dancey and British

Truth is, it wasn't just me. Even this very tight British blues power trio made up of architects also got a subdued response. The guitar player is exceptionally good. They even broke up what can be the monotony of 3-chord electric blues by playing this ballsy version of "Caravan"--and quite well, I must say.

The organizer of the once a month event and my duet partner did notice the same thing I noticed that, coincidentally, the blues guitarist also noticed and we discussed this: Everyone who did a Beatles' tune, got a nice round of applause. Chris and I did "The One After 909" and that did go over well. As did, "Things We Said Today", another song we played

So next month, the word is going around: we're gonna have a Beatles tribute night.

I've called dibs on "Across the Universe", "Yer Blues", "Julia" and "Run for Your Life". because they should all go down well with my upper register nasally mama cat giving birth voice.

What I've Learned Two:

In 1964, a banner welcomed The Beatles to New York. It read "Beatles 4 ever". And I'll be damned. That sign was right.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The sound of one hand barfing

Can't Talk/ Comin Down

I've been back from Bangkok for a week. The day I got in, our plane had to go into a holding pattern for two hours because the entire UAE shut down--all roads closed, everyone stay at home, in doors--200 million dollars lost in revenue because Bush was in town. To be fair to asshole, I'm sure the Sheikhs insisted on showing off their fancy new civilization.

The four horse men of the apocalypse must follow this guy like a bad odor. After he left, three days of end times rain shut down the entire country--fancy new civilization forgot to install drainage. Flash flooding on major roads. Commerce a no-go for another three days.

Where's a suicide bomber when you need one? Like cops and taxis, I suppose.

Open mike is tomorrow--this month I'm doing two sets--one solo and one with another feller who likes to harmonize, so he's had his hands full with me, trying to keep me on the John part of a Beatles' song or the bass part on "Weeds, whites and wine" from Little Feat's "Willin' ".

Pity the poor Rose as her man detoxes from 10 days of swallowing codeine and little else, 24/7. I dropped 10 pounds, but I might be in the market for an emergency back-up woman once she disappears into the night--gone to get a six-pack and cigarettes--same as it ever was.

Hey--at least I've reached a point in my life where I know that as much fun as opiate-derivatives can be, I have to sign in at work on Sunday, and we can't have a pill-popping me on board. Not for long anyway.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Post Op Ramblings

Kevin is also in town having bones tended too. He's a guitar strumming friend of mine who lives in virtual retirement in Siem Reap, Cambodia. My bones jaw bones are a curse of aging and genetics. All that flossing would not have kept me from this inevitable date with an oral surgeon. It's an aging thing.

The bones Kevin needs mending shattered after he'd done what he usually does whenever he came to a speed bump which lay in his path. He revved the engine and hit the bump, pushing hard on the front shocks expecting the equal and opposite reaction of clean bounce into flight to clear the obstruction. The process did not go well. The bike bucked and sent him soaring. When he finally fell to earth, his collar bones absorbed the shock, shattering them into tiny, splintered fragments.

So here we are in Bangkok by coincidence, a gathering of old men, each with our own surgery tales to tell.

No boom boom. No yummy yum. No short time. No long time. Just the two of us cooped up in our boutique hotels very near the clinics occasionally phoning one another to swap codeine for anti-biotics.

The night before our respective consultations, we did hook up at the Nana Plaza, an area infamously put on the map because that's where the freelance street walkers ply their trade. As we were sharing a pitcher of beer, maybe a dozen or more girls from the north country, the farming area where most of the hookers call home, came by to hang on our shoulders and quote their prices and a variety of skills, "Me give Yum yum, no condom, only condom for boom boom" No girls. Sorry girls. Not tonight girls. Wedding ring girls. Some girly-boys, the Thai transies must have picked up on this--us chasing away the real things, and so they came up hoping that they were what we were actually in search of. Breasts with Adam's apples and a willy between their long, shaved legs. Eeew.

Jebus! Can't a feller just come to Thailand to have his aging bones mended and not his aching bone sated?

Day three in bed with chipmunk jaws. I miss my wife.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tickets, Money, Passport

There was this Absolutely Fabulous episode about mumble grumble years ago that sent the show's storyline to Morocco. From that show, these lines:

Edwina: We've got everything. [She Leaves the house. Two seconds later storms back in] Tickets, money, passports! Tickets, money, passports!

Who says the "telly" can't be educational? I've been reciting these lines for years when I leave the house, bound for the airport, and I continue to recite them obsessively/compulsively throughout my traveling--before plane disembarkation, while standing in the immigration queue fretting over the lines to the left and right which always seem to be moving faster than the one I've picked; I recite these words once settled in the hotel, while flagging down tuk- tuks, on and on, over and over because if this triumvirate of items remains undivided whilst on the road, one can lose all else (camera, toilet kit, even luggage, bottle of diazapam) and you can still have a decent enough trip. However, if one of the three goes missing, you are really fucked.

Usually this recitation is done while I discretely pat down my body to affirm that they are still in my possession. Anything else I can lose and not lose it.

I am taking a suitcase this time, not a backpack. It's a softcase trolley type with extendable handles, you know, like the kind Grandmothers and Japanese tourists use?

This I find unsettling. It's bad enough that I am going to freakin' Bangkok in order to save my aging, crumbling oral substratum so's I won't have to gum my way through meal of mushed corn and stewed prunes in a few years. But a trolley suitcase? Can an angioplasty be too far off?