ELW Photography #10

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This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.

Day tripping

The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.

Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!

As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.

Women’s Rights

2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.

Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.

Central Park Wonders

I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.

A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.

The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.

This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?

Park Summer

The Conservatory Garden

Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.

9–11–2020

19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.

We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.

Dear Readers, until next week…

Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul

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At midnight on March 27th, 2020, Bob Dylan released “Murder Most Foul”, his first studio release since 2017’s Triplicate and first original song release since 2012’s Tempest.

American Elegy—Our Nobel Laureate Publishes Another Masterpiece

In a career now spanning six decades Bob Dylan has been through numerous phases in a life that has itself become the stuff of living legend.

Now revealed that this song is the third side on his upcoming, Rough and Rowdy Ways, he continues to inspire and write brilliantly about history.

His ability to connect our ‘modern times’ with the ancient culture that brought it about, specifically the Romans, enabled his new life as a Nobel Prize recipient.

Murder Most Foul is Mr. Dylan’s longest song. if you take the time to listen to this track you will learn a lot about this wonderful country and its brutal past and present.

You will also discover an underlying feeling of hope in the soft accompaniment with its piano, light timpani, and strings.

Dylanologists are going to have another great track to explore for many years to come. There are a ton of deliberate references to all kinds of cultural arcana in this track. Too many in fact for a single blog entry.

But herein I will discuss some of my takes on this peerless work. The closest thing to a spoken word song or a revival of the beat poet in the vast Dylan catalog.

First Section

It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do, we know who you are!”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight

Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect
We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing

It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

Here in the beginning of the poem we are explicitly told how Mr. Dylan feels about the day President John F. Kennedy was murdered.

Using a phrase as his title, he frames the dreadful event as a Murder Most Foul. As the track continues there will be an evolution or rather a de-volution through the following decades as America’s culture and politics slowly decays.

The great hope of a young, handsome, and brilliant leader is cruelly blown off the face of the Earth. The promise of a new frontier delayed by his killing.

Mr. Dylan further frames the President’s murder as that of a lynching. Mr. Kennedy was white on the surface, but he was also the nation’s first Catholic elected to the Presidency. In Bob Dylan’s view he was ‘led like a lamb to the sacrificial slaughter’.

The first verses also make clear how this crime was such an American scene. Committed in broad daylight in front of the world; ‘greatest magic trick ever under the sun’.

The Second Section

Hush, little children, you’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age
Then I’ll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President

Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down

Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don’t ask what your country can do for you

Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity died
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn
What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl

Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

Now a tourist destination, the arts & entertainment hub of Dallas, TX was part of Kennedy’s fatal route on the day of his murder.

The last lines of these first 2 sections of verse connect to reinforce this crime as foul cold-blooded murder. ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s murder most foul; Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul’.

The actual neighborhood near the crime scene of Kennedy’s death is referenced following the pop culture explosion of The Beatles who became a salve for the real pain young people felt at the time. Deep Ellum, the arts and entertainment hub of Dallas, TX had a rise in crime too.

Referenced in the song’s second section above: ‘When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money on your shoe’.

‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you’, the famous Kennedy line to demand public service of youth is juxtaposed to remind people now trapped in poor communities not to expect any government assistance. The social contract was murdered too.

Explicitly calling out Woodstock and Altamont and the Age of Aquarius with the mythology of free love and the violence of Altamont. America has always created myths to soothe the wounds of very real crimes.

The reality of the made up summer of love is the real slaughter of men, women, and children in Vietnam. The daily death toll were surely murders most foul.

Mr. Dylan performs a conjuring trick as well raising the original sin of race hatred in a line that also references his hit “Hurricane”. Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down

Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street

Also quite cleverly references a Wes Craven horror film released in the decade that followed his hit song about boxer Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter.

The name covers Dallas’ real murder of a President and the fictional murders of teenagers in a genre called the slasher film. The cruelty on display in Dallas would continue to resonate for the decades that followed.

The Third Section

Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen
I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
Ridin’ in the back seat next to my wife
Headed straight on in to the afterlife
I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We’re right down the street, from the street where you live
They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials
Parkland Hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more

It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”
Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

I set the third section above in big bold type since at this point forward the song becomes full and explicit. Brimming with anger at President Kennedy’s demise, whom Mr. Dylan likens to a King as the Kennedy White House became Camelot, then in a blink ‘his eyes, nose, and ears were filled with blood.’

The Zapruder film in some way becomes America’s first slasher film, only it’s real.

Mr Dylan describes the piece which he claims to have seen over 30 times, as ‘vile and deceitful’.

That first piece of social media created an infinity of conspiracy theories. I see it as a reflection on his own youth. In his youth the repetition is easily performed. Now, at 79 Mr. Dylan only needs a single reading.

Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free

This is my favorite line in the poem/song. Using Whitmanesque phrasing to connect Lincoln with Kennedy. Both men were after all the great hope of a wounded nation. Slavery in Lincoln’s era and Vietnam/Racism in Kennedy’s time. Both men were victims of murder most foul.

Mr. Dylan has undergone phases of life where he composed Christian influenced records. He has deep personal beliefs that crop up nicely here.

Declaring, ‘the Age of the Antichrist’ has just begun following the Kennedy assassination the nation saw a steep rise in cult activity, the crimes of Charles Manson, and satanic music also came into being in American culture.

Echoing the conventional wisdom that the nation had lost its soul are Mr. Dylan’s lyrics describing the Kennedy post mortem: ‘No soul was found where it should be.’

The Fourth Section

What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues
He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that “Only the Good Die Young”
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind”
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back”
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

It’s Mr. Wolfman Jack to you. Bob Dylan has reached a point in his career that he can compose a poem that includes 1970’s icon Wolfman Jack.

This is a reference to the alter—ego creation that he underwent in the 1960’s, Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan; Robert Weston Smith became Wolfman Jack.

Also in the new age of the antichrist men were literally becoming beasts. It’s in this section that Mr. Dylan begins to recommend recordings using the word ‘play’ as a command.

It references his 2 years as a D.J. himself on satellite radio. Using famous titles/lyrics from the era’s violent refelctions include “Only The Good Die Young”, published in 1977, the year of the Son of Sam killings in New York.

Bob Dylan makes his listeners do a lot of history homework. I strongly believe this is why his work ranks so high.

Playing up the description of President Kennedy’s car of choice, ‘a long black Cadillac’, itself a coffin on wheels.

Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names

For my take these 3 lines set up why Bob Dylan has become such a master at connecting seemingly disparate ideas.

You see the ‘place where Tom Dooley was hung’ is in North Carolina, where the Wolfman took his last breath.

Being white, Wolfman Jack died of a heart attack not a lynching. Tom Dooley became the subject of many folk songs, a genre that gave artistic birth to Bob Dylan.

Tom Dooley is part of a sad American tradition known as Appalachian Murder Ballads. A murder most foul.

St. James Infirmary references blues music. An alternate title for the song was “The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime”) about a soldier who uses his money on prostitutes and then dies of venereal disease. The theme ties in with Kennedy’s death.

Then closing the section with a simple notation of why the name checking will continue unabated for the rest of the piece—to remember with clarity write down the names.

Only an artist of Bob Dylan’s caliber tells the listener his intent in writing this or any other song/poem is to preserve it for the ages to come beyond his mortal years.

The Fifth Section (Conclusion)

Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue
Play “Tragedy”, play “Twilight Time”
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust”
Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust”
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk

All that junk and “All That Jazz”
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds

Play “Cry Me a River” for the Lord of the gods
Play Number nine, play Number six
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy”
Play “Down in the Boondocks” for Terry Malloy
Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin”
There’s twelve million souls that are listening in
Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death”

Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth
Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way
Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well

Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon”
Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June”
Play “Lonely at the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave”
Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille”
Play “Deep in a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel”
Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp
And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp

Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-Stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”

In this final section of this elegiac piece Mr. Dylan reminds us of the worst scene of racial violence in the nation’s history.

The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in TulsaOklahoma.

It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street”.

This awful history was dramatized on the Premiere of HBO’s ‘Watchmen’. Here the line takes us back to the scene of the original crime.

He connects it to the currents of hate/racism that from 1921 became a tsunami that killed another American President.

Then swirling through the American history of Jazz music and its iconic progenitors he adds crime figures like Bugsy Siegel who builds Las Vegas and on and on in a dizzying meter of names that arrives at “Love Me or Leave Me” by Bud Powell.

This is Dylan’s response to the hateful crowds that state, America love it or leave it.

The final line is perhaps the most stinging reminder of how far America needs to go to overcome its bloody past and present: Play The Blood Stained Banner , Play Murder Most Foul.

‘The Blood Stained Banner’ was a Confederate anthem and a version of the Confederate Flag presented in 1865. Bob Dylan is telling the nation to never forget this happened.

And to kindly play the song just ended, his American Elegy, Murder Most Foul.

Back To “Normal”

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There has been a lot of talk lately about returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic hit America the nation was struggling with many issues. There were several fissures in the body politic. Never before this moment had the country been torn asunder by an invisible threat.

Our economy has been the engine that drove us through recessions and social upheaval. The wages of workers stopped rising after 1980. Remained stagnant through 2020.

If you grew up in America between 1955 and 1985 you were indoctrinated into a man’s world. Captains of industry were male. Physical strength dominated. Being smart was deemed weak or ‘gay’.

What men hide is the ability to empathize. To express emotion in a normative way is suppressed. We as a society are paying today in political divides and fringe pursuits of false ideas that support a nation in isolation.

When I was a kid boys always acted strong. Being physical was the primary motivator in boys.

America was so busy working and living mostly private lives decades before Facebook that boys’ real needs could be missed.

The politicians pass laws. Parents do their best. Why were our kids killing one another before this crisis?

The gendered kids of this time and place are wondering what happened to them. People who cannot conceive of anything outside their prescribed norms are angered or scared that gendering could be wrong.

Has anyone asked if closing the schools could end school shootings? Recently a lot of people have suggested this crazy notion. Actually, without schools kids lose crucial development of social skills. Those with limited resources miss meals that schools provide.

America has yet to really tackle the social pandemic of massacres, addiction, and lack of empathy.

A return to normal? What normal are people longing for?

Vaping was killing kids, socially isolated boys were killing classmates, and adults were being killed by opioids.

The rising tide of Anti-Semitism was killing innocent people too.

Police brutality has resulted in a renewal of civil unrest not seen in fifty years.

Leadership is absent.

Should we not imagine a society that is anything but normal?

Trans people, Women, and Racism must be addressed. Just to name a few issues.

During the recent Memorial Day holiday states were informed that if they met certain metrics they could begin re-opening.

I walked around my city. Central Park was full of people socially distancing. Picnics were few and far between on the lawns. Children played. But it was just New Yorkers this year. Anything but normal.

I read the paper every day to check in on the latest concerning the virus. The pandemic has hit the poor the hardest. And economies that have all their eggs in the hospitality basket are in serious trouble.

Has the pandemic stripped away people’s illusions surrounding capitalism? Now we have a clearer idea of just how fragile our social system has become in the last 50 years.

People throw around new wordage to describe our ‘new normal’ but this is a much more serious matter.

Re-opening is not a race. States are finding new outbreaks where there were none until people began to disregard safety measures.

The virus has managed to do what Russian interference could not: push Americans to the brink of a new Civil War.

People who have not fallen ill are voicing their anger toward officials for closing their states.

As New York attempts to re-open let us all hope new cases of Covid—19 do not return us to square one.

The Covid Age is just beginning…

Tao Of Bob

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

—–excerpted lyrics from Hard Times by Bob Dylan (1992)

Updates from New York City/ Random Thoughts in Downtimeland

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  • The New York Times today gave voice to the famous since they are lacking a platform. What do they miss about their beloved city?
  • Dear readers I can tell you what I don’t miss. The noise. The crowds. The expense.
  • I have a strong immune system. I go out everyday.
  • I danced in the middle of 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and intersections that now stand empty. I do not miss traffic.
  • No sympathy for Disney. Are we not capitalists? You take risks with your investments. The government must stop their welfare for the wealthy. If Disney fails let it go away. Some other thing will come along for the 21st Century.
  • This just in, Disney+ using Hamilton as bait for more subscribers! It’s meant to be seen live.
  • The 7 pm banging of the pots has started to fade. Less and less volume now.
  • That homeless dude on the 6 train was right 2 years ago. Anyone of you may be jobless tomorrow. Did anyone listen to him? nah!
  • I do not “like” any of our politicians. They do not know what to do.
  • The people with means left the city months ago.
  • Some days are better than others. Just like before the pandemic.
  • I wonder how suburbanites will survive. They have to drive everywhere.
  • Now is the chance to lower subway fares. Ridership will not return to previous levels. Why run empty buses? We need to build a new transportation system. Monorail!
  • Our current Mayor will close streets to cars. Pedestrian only zones so people can walk and be distant from one another.
  • How about motorcycle only roads? A Harley highway.
  • New York City was all about luxury for the wealthy before this hit. Now that many of them have left for good how about converting the completed condo units into affordable homes for the rest of us? A rent strike for universal suffrage. Rents should fall back to 1960 levels.
  • Convert failed retail spaces into community use areas.
  • Our primary is now a go! Yay democracy.
  • Delegates count. It affects the party platform.
  • Haircuts? Hey guys, let it grow! We need non-conformity! Learn about rebellion. You can stand out. The Constitution allows for it, lol.
  • We should support Amazon’s workforce. This is retail today. The virus will not go away. Physical stores will never feel safe again. It’s nice to shop at a click with a solid returns policy.
  • Movie theaters are going to have to do a lot more to get us back. YouTube has a lot of great films from all over the world, no CGI needed. Stories about people are making a comeback following a decade of shlock from Marvel (Disney).
  • If independent book shops opened across the city with a medium size sales floor people could enjoy the experience. A no children under 16 policy would be nirvana. Book shops should sell books. No toys, no stationary.
  • New York will remain closed until at least May 18. Politicians are biding (pun intended) their time.

You Tube Allows Discovery For Viewers

World cinema abounds on this platform.

https://youtu.be/3Y2pPaqcHtU

Cut and paste the above address to view a beautiful 30 minute French film about a family that takes a sea voyage around islands and sees whales. The boys swim with dolphins, explore sea life, and enjoy what looks like one amazing childhood.

The choices are yours on YouTube. Why are you wasting money on the banal service of Disney?

Heavy Metal Rules

The corporate record labels forced metal away from the mainstream. It made the culture stronger. Metal listeners are hundreds of millions of people from over two dozen countries. We love Lemmy, Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Metallica and a zillion other artists who play amazing music. It will last forever. A creature comfort. And always regains its stature when things go South.

Metallica are still America’s best metal band. “Hardwired To Self Destruct” is amazing.

The wearing of masks is so metal! Rock on. Up The Irons! Bang thy head that doesn’t bang.

That’s it for now! Just a quick update inside the city of New York 2 months into the pandemic.

Beyond Here Lies Nothing

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Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Pandemic.

There will be a new world developing over the next 2 years. Some will get to work. Others will get to die. This sounds harsh. Reality is not without pain.

I experienced a lot of physical pain this week. My back went out. Then after recovering from back spasms I wrenched a muscle in my chest.

The pain was crippling. All I could do was sit in a firm chair. The Global Citizen special relieved my stress. I am still recovering. I had mild fevers too.

All injuries today are approached haltingly that it could be Covid—19. It will be years before a vaccine is made widely available. I did not have the virus.

I have learned for myself that this awful time in our shared lives is like all things just temporary.

Before this emergency most Americans were oblivious to the pain lived daily by people without means.

Now many of them know what it’s like to have less. Disease is a leveler of inequality; a forced end to armed conflicts. I am learning to love the pandemic.

Most of America is now a welfare state. Learning the hard way that a strong social safety net is not a bad thing to have in place if things go badly.

I refuse the pie-in-the-sky prediction of reopening the economy. There will not be the same culture anymore.

New York will lose $10 billion during this crisis. The Fed will literally allow us to drop dead.

Forget what you thought was good for you before this emergency hastened by globalization and policies devised by right wing zealots.

You are not better than anyone else. The massive base of working poor must be enabled to get out of poverty.

Progressive policy making will make this a better reality and recovery for all.

We must confront racism, voter repression, and cruel doses of capitalism meant only to make millionaires become billionaires.

Those who are happy looking down upon others have a long in waiting come uppance to experience for the next decade.

America’s folly of allowing right leaning demagogues to enrich themselves with wars of choice is at an end.

The entire world will suffer together. I have learned to love the pandemic since it has the potential to unlock dormant energy from people who deserve a healthy planet.

Our system cannot sustain our population. If you watch news provided by just 6 state supported companies you get their picture of what they want you to believe is a good outcome.

Restaurants and other small businesses were being thrown out of business by greedy landlords long before Covid.

The pie-in-the-sky I cling to is the hope that we can allow industries to die for the sake of human survival.

Let the cruise industry end. The billionaire class only believes in welfare for other billionaires. Let movie theaters end. These businesses are not worth our lives.

What worked for the 20th Century does not work for the 21st. The corporate state will use all of its resources to convince you that a world of endless sequels and violence is just entertainment.

Our streaming platforms have made theaters unnecessary. They want you to pay for their shoddy product. I say no.

Let us create together a spirit for a new era of capitalism tempered with a strong social safety net. And provide grants to cities that grow green renewable energy.

I dream of fast food becoming a thing of the past. Let them go out of business.

Move low wage workers into a federally funded training process to work for higher wages in green businesses.

I was living mostly like a partially quarantined citizen before Covid. Now the rest of society is equal with my reality.

I have empathy for those who thought being upwardly mobile was okay. People must know that no matter their circumstances it’s not okay to leave people behind because access was eliminated by a narrow greedy class.

Living large is not okay. Many places across the country are finding out the hard way we have a housing problem because too many were sold a bill of goods that huge homes were your right.

The American dream is a nightmare of 20th Century thinking. Mostly white male identity that enabled huge cavities of poverty in cities and suburbs alike.

Let this pandemic open your eyes. Let go of your apathy. Downsize soon. My husband and I just want a one bedroom apartment with a normal rent. No living space should cost over a thousand dollars.

If the census is accurate we will see New York City get less from the Fed. Allowing developers to build million dollar cell blocks was never a good idea.

I think people need to become aware of the big picture. NYC & Co. Times Square Alliance are the corporate takeover of public spaces. Their short-term view is a disaster now.

Tourist economies were for third world nations. Why did the richest country in history turn New York into a seamy tourist theme park? Wax museum, a Believe-It-Or-Not gallery, and a lot of junky movie theaters. Our politicians did nothing for actual residents of this city.

Now we are in free fall. Will social conditions devolve back to the 1970’s? More than likely a state of disrepair will prevail. A result of our political class applying short cuts instead of the hard work of creating sustainability.

I just read that the city of Tulsa, OK offers $10,000 to new renters if eligible. Apartments are $825 a month. Bye bye New York.

Tao of Bob

My newfound support of Bob Dylan applies strongly to our country. My blog will feature his lyrics when appropriate. Here’s this week’s debut installment:

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win.

For the times they are a changin.

See you next week dear readers!

The City Sleeps

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Another week is done. I have calendars in my apartment. Two in fact. One features puppies in silly outfits and poses to fit the month/season. The other is a New Yorker magazine cartoon-a-day.

The small things that went unnoticed are now prime pins in my mental machinery. They keep me safe. Taking an anti-depressant is the other component in this equation.

Here we are in New York without sitdown service in restaurants. One diner remains with delivery. It’s called Midnite Express after the drug trafficking movie from the 1970s.

Funny to think how the underbelly of society is operating now. Are they wearing masks too? Everyone is required to wear them now.

So with all this time on our hands we come up with projects. My latest was listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog. I found out I could listen to 9 albums in one day. This infuriated my beloved husband but I was determined to finish in less than a week.

No theater. No baseball. No concerts. Summer will present a challenge. No day trips. May there be no heatwaves nor hurricanes. Oh, the city pools will not open. The last time that happened was the polio pandemic.

We should remind ourselves daily we must allow the health sector to do its best to curtail new illness. We should also keep in mind that all workers are valuable in any economy. Do not scapegoat.

At 7 each evening New Yorkers are banging pots and pans while cheering for nurses and doctors; food deliverers, store clerks; pharmacists, drugstore clerks. Hand in hand those with advanced educations and those with limited resources are working together to keep us all safe.

The city is quiet. You cannot help but feel how fragile society can become when faced with these unusual circumstances. New York pride was once about being open all the time. Things have changed.

Before the pandemic hit Manhattan the complaints to 311 (our city services number) over noise was hitting records. Subway ridership was bursting, and tourism was high.

Now those complaints are not happening and the subways are empty save essential workers. No tourists.

The past 2 administrations created a city for visitors. This has proved to be a shortsighted vision. Without their revenue now what do we do?

The city sleeps. Schools are closed. Life will not return to normal. Our lack of hindsight has proven to be our folly in 2020, funnily enough a year whose numbers literally mean healthy vision.

Last night at twelve Bob Dylan released another single, “I Contain Multitudes”, referencing Walt Whitman, Anne Frank, and the Rolling Stones! Mr. D is doing his part.

See you next week dear readers!

I Want My N TV/ Essay

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The gate has been reviewing records for several weeks now.

Starting today on this lucky Friday the 13th my blog will comment on the changed media landscape.

A bit of a rant in my opener…

Nobody alive today in America needs cable television. Internet service provides thousands of streams making broadcast/cable networks obsolete.

I strongly believe without a cable bill arriving each month I would still have my media diet satisfied.

This is my opening salvo against a cruel media culture that has consolidated its power. A small group of companies are damaging our ability to be a participatory Democracy.

Labeling people to reduce their voice is what we are doing. Liberal/ Conservative. Most of the citizenry live in the middle.

The recent surge of victories for former V.P. Biden shows how much of the democratic base wants the country to move back towards the middle ground.

Cable outlets are polarizing. Full of editorializing they just keep people apart.

I joined Amazon Prime when it started. They recently added a channel with metal concerts for a small fee. Still less costly than cable.

The media giants are advertising like crazy to convince you to stay.

So what if there is some hip series everyone says you need to watch. No, you don’t need to see it.

Netflix has great comedy specials, series, and films.

Likewise, Amazon Prime has series and films. You can rent first run movies too.

Blu-rays, 4K HD, and dvd are obsolete. If you are a city household you do not have a lot of space. Why clutter your place with movies you won’t watch.

All of the dollars saved can be put towards the move to a better space.

You are paying a monthly fee for their advertising. Cable channels are loaded with drug ads, political ads, and ads in general to make you feel bad about yourself. Who needs them? Nobody.

Think of all the propaganda created by mass media. An ideal version of life no one can live up to in sitcom land. When ratings fall have a wedding or a funeral.

24 hours “news” organizations are by their very design propaganda machines. Every 4 years they decide who is on each party’s ticket.

They even created a climate in which the general population agreed there were too many candidates.

The real conflict for democracy is our news programs are a branch of a corporate takeover of the public commons. Requiring them to turn a profit has placed all of the emphasis on tabloid stories.

If it bleeds it leads. Until the latest crisis arrived our local news was filled with violent crimes happening in far away neighborhoods.

Throughout its history TV was designed to deliver viewers to advertisers.

Streaming upended the business model of media. This is a good thing. We may break free of commercial messages.

Censorship lessens through streamed content. More stories are told. Diversity is not just tokenism. There are no announcements of a ‘special’ episode. You are not told you must see it.

Less regulation of the alleged public airwaves has enabled big pharma to send its message: you must sample the pill for this or for that condition you surely must have to battle each day.

Perhaps TV is why the US is one of the unhappiest countries on Earth.

You are bombarded with moronic personalities on talk shows and game shows which are cheap to produce.

You are told the only way to be happy is to get lots of stuff. Cars are still the most popular prize on game shows. Do they come with a parking space and free gas?

Right now I live in a small studio apartment with my husband.

When we eventually move into a one bedroom apartment I want nothing more than to strip down our material stuff.

I treasure records. No commercials.

Evan’s Gate will be here to comment on the culture at large. For now there are plenty of reviews out there.

When I talk with people they seem to not get why this shift of power in the public square is important.

Should Disney own everything you read, watch, listen to, or think about? They are dominant now. Are we becoming a Mickey Mouse dictatorship?

Trust me, this is not a good thing for a Democracy.

I will never accept conspiracy theories regarding our current affairs.

This blog will cover pop culture at large. This is a broad canvas with lots of interesting angles.

Just take notice how the crises of a virus has pushed away everything else. What happened to mass shootings and the rising level of anti-Semitism in America?

Have a lucky Friday the 13th.

Woodstock At 50

Searching For The Garden

For thousands of years humanity has been seeking methods to restore a sense of peace among peoples.

Despite my non-belief, I think religion is still the source of our greatest imagined narrative. Despite the reality of suffering on a terrible scale people still strive for universal peace.

I think to understand why Woodstock is important today we must look at the culture that preceded the hippie youth movement.

Let’s begin with a rough review of the 1950’s and 1960’s as they relate to the rise of a New Left and Hippie rebellion in America.

The American Experiment

The seeds of a new nation were planted on soil enriched by slaves. A democratic system evolved to include, to assimilate, and to uplift.

The democratic model of Ancient Greece led the founders to forge a centralized government. There was immense suffering and bloodshed to make this happen. Many were excluded from the possibilities of America.

North America’s native population was decimated. Minority peoples were outsiders. Women could not vote; seek higher education.

A fractured society led to our civil war. Following the Lincoln Era, the newly freed slaves were murdered on a regular basis. Cultural resentment continued in America through WWII.

Americans of every race, creed, and class fought alongside their allies to defeat anti-democratic forces. Unfortunately, the strains of hateful ideology that threatened the world continued to infect our democracy.

The aftermath would bring an era of conservative value making. Discrimination was visible in segregation. Queers of any type were invisible. Any deviation from the straight and narrow was mocked and punished.

If you were white there were many rewards. Good jobs, new homes, and college educations were granted to this newly minted modern middle-class.

Father Knows Best

The 1950’s reinforced a culture where straight white males were the dominant cultural force.

Children were to be seen and not heard. Adults were the authority. Obey rules. Listen to your parents, go to school, and always work hard.

This separate and unequal society had a post-war baby boom that produced 70 million teenagers.

The new technology of TV provided people with a new way of viewing the world .

Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley reflected a new musical expression.

A strata of white middle-class kids rejected the materialistic path they were educated to value. The silver screen rebel arrived in the form of Marlon Brando & James Dean.

White kids started to hang with black kids outside of the Jim Crow Codes. Black leather jackets, rock n roll music, and drugs punched a hole in the wall of conservative white male hierarchy.

Then the 1960’s dawned with America at a cultural divide. The Korean War was followed by Vietnam.

Our politicians put the Cold War with Russia above our domestic problems. Communism was cast as the great threat.

Then a new generation helped elect our youngest President. The Civil Rights movement pressured elected officials to take apart systemic racism.

Amidst all of this cultural change came a youth quake seen and heard around the world.

The Beatles arrival in America in 1964 changed everything. Teenagers wanted to gather in large numbers. The message was heard in stereophonic sound: All You Need Is Love.

Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out.

In contrast to the previous decade in which the teenage rebel was portrayed as aimless, the Vietnam War gave the kids a cause.

The great disillusionment arrived with young people organizing against registering for war. Vietnam was televised every night.

American teenagers did not want to obey. The war was immoral. Racism was immoral. Promoting hate was immoral.

Rebels with a cause. America’s youth did not accept Vietnam as a just war.

The Woodstock Festival became the visible embodiment of what the kids had fought for all decade long. This generation had a style, moral code, and vision that rejected the path of inequality, racism, and war their elders had enacted.

Harvard Prof Timothy Leary told kids to tune in, turn on and drop out. Forget the crap you were told; a new way is needed.

Kids dressed in jeans, colorful vests, and sandals. They took drugs to open their minds and dropped out of straight society to protest the government.

Boys grew their hair long, went shirtless and/or barefoot. Girls went bra less and joined with boys to form new communities beyond the white picket fence.

Many burned draft cards. They marched in solidarity with blacks. The authorities were quite shaken by the rebellion. Then at decade’s end came the big event.

Billed as 3 days of Peace, Music…and Love. On farm land in upstate New York where the Bethel Woods concert pavilion now stands, the festival took place.

The organizers of the Woodstock Festival were four young men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang. The oldest of the four was only 27 years old at the time of the Woodstock Festival.

The concert was envisioned to be a fundraiser for a proposed recording studio in Woodstock where many musicians lived at the time. Mr. Roberts was heir to the Polydent fortune. He bankrolled Woodstock.

The original proposed site in Watkill, NY was rejected. The town’s people passed a law against mass concerts. The hippies were not desirable to their town.

The hippie movement was influenced by Eastern religion, rock music, and experimentation with drugs. The youth of this era rose up in mass to protest the Vietnam War.

The Farm

Those American values formed in the 1950’s resulted in Michael Lang scrambling to find a new place for his festival. The township of the first proposal did not want hippies overtaking their community. Several towns declined to host.

He discovered a tract of land on the farm of Max Yasgur that had the right sort of shape for his concert vision.

Michael Lang, seen here on his bike, was the principal organizer of Woodstock.

The logistics got messy.

Tickets were $7 for one day and $18 for 3 days ($26 today) per day.

Fences surrounding the concert were not completed in time.

The promoters expected around 30,000 people. Over 400,000 came on the day closing down the NY state Thruway.

Instead of charging people the festival turned into a free “be in” the size and scale nobody could have predicted. Attendees created a community including makeshift playgrounds and camping areas.

On Day 2 of the festival thunderstorms shut down the music for hours. Chip Monck, the master of ceremonies for the fest, told people to come down from the towers. The monsoon like rains that came forced people to improvise sheltering in place.

Some of the concert goers stripped down, placing their clothes under tarps, and made the best of a tough situation. The temperature dropped quite a bit after the storms. Keeping clothes dry was essential to prevent hypothermia.

Goldmine magazine’s coverage of Woodstock provided an excerpt from Chapter 8 of the book “Back To Yasgur’s Farm” by Mike Greenblatt (Krause Books). Local police made a statement about the festival. Sullivan County Sheriff Louis Ratner said “I never met a nicer bunch of kids in my life.”

Goldmine Magazine’s Woodstock Issue and Mike Greenblatt’s Woodstock 50 book proved invaluable to this blog.

Main Event

Ritchie Havens performed his song, “Freedom”, to open the show. On Monday morning, with only about 30,000 people left, Jimi Hendrix took the stage with his new band, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. His rendition of our National Anthem is now rock culture’s preferred version.

In between there were The Who, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Country Joe MacDonald, and Sha Na Na.

Poster advert for the Woodstock Festival.

Aftermath

Day 3. Wet sleeping bags, utensils, and the footprints of 400,000 plus souls.

The concert on a hill became an expression of hope for millions of people around the US and the world. Unfortunately the backlash against freedom (free love) followed.

When I was a kid people used to say if you remember Woodstock then you were not there. The wink and nod was due to the use of drugs.

However, in 1969 only 4% of Americans were smoking marijuana. Today more than 50% of people support legalization of the drug.

Woodstock’s organizers had debt of $1 million and faced many lawsuits following the festival.

The documentary film released by Warner Brothers was a hit. The box office receipts helped pay their debts down.

Opposing the war in Vietnam, the hippie counterculture changed our body politic in 1969.
The movie “Easyrider” was in theaters. The modern Gay Rights movement began. America’s unjust war continued through 1975.

1969 was an exceptional year. Stonewall, The Moon Landing, Civil Rights Law, and nearly half a million teenagers/young adults gathered on a farm upstate to express their joys, sorrows, and hopes for a peaceful tomorrow.

50 Year Anniversary

Here in New York City a photographic exhibition will celebrate this milestone at The Morrison Hotel gallery.

https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/blog/VBHT7G/WOODSTOCK-50TH-ANNIVERSARY—Join-The-Celebration-in-New-York-City

The Oscar-winning Documentary film is being screened in theaters across the USA on August 15th at 7 p.m. Check Fathom Events for details: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/woodstock-1970-50th-anniversary-directors-cut

The first nationwide screening of the Oscar winning Documentary in theaters since its original release in 1970.

To commemorate the performances at the festival there are some notable records being issued. The original triple LP Woodstock soundtrack album has been re-issued on vinyl.

Rhino, a subsidiary of Warner, will release Woodstock 50: Back To The Garden in separate vinyl and CD box sets.

Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane’s Woodstock sets have been released on vinyl.

History should not repeat. The proposed Anniversary Festival was cancelled. I think people need to live in the present. Dwelling too much in the past is not only depressing but bears no fruit.

What I do know about the 1969 festival and the culture that fostered it is you cannot copy the past.

We can remember why this event became important to us; there is no repeating it. The emergence of the hippie movement for peace was a flash point in America’s story.

In Mike Greenblatt’s book “Woodstock” he notes a press conference following the festival in which Max Yasgur stated:

“The kids were wonderful, honest, sincere, good kids who said, ‘here we are. This is what we are. This is the way we dress. These are our morals.’ There wasn’t one incident the whole time. The kids were polite, shared everything with everyone, and they forced me to open my eyes.

In my opinion, we must remember that Woodstock remains in the social fabric because it was a successful event.

Nobody was patted down to enter the grounds. The promise of music, peace, and love was fulfilled.

In the ensuing 50 years we have grown militant, selfish, and distracted.

Unkind Millenium

Uncertainty is the word we hear a lot today to describe how people are feeling about society.

The five decades since the Aquarian cultural awakening of free love has seen horrors we could not have imagined.

Cultural shifts have moved our society far away from those of the counterculture. We lost the surplus; Gained record debt.

The ruling political class has been more representative of a shrinking geographical minority than of the actual new demographic reality of 21st century America.

Without a military draft the country has become disconnected in the face of unending wars in Syria and Afghanistan.

Advanced technology allows our government to strike targets a world away. The population suffers under crumbling infrastructure; the military gets billions.

Smart phones enable never ending surveillance. We have become more paranoid as a people. Heads are bent down to the perpetual glow of a portable screen.

I know it all sounds dire. Today we face a lot of adversity. We must overcome…again.

Several movements have started to respond to this litany of potential disaster. The issues today include: Gun Reform, Women’s Equality, Prison Reform, LGBTQ Rights, and Election Reforms.

We serve each other. The people are more powerful than any group or political party. We can assemble and make something positive happen.

Always keep in mind that something special blossomed over 3 days in those grassroots on a farm in upstate New York.

This blog is dedicated to all of the people who made Woodstock happen in 1969.

Birdseye view of the over 400,000 people at Woodstock in 1969.
Evan’s Gate
A Music Blog for Misfits.

Misfits Rising

NYC Public Library had a free exhibit documenting the Stonewall Inn in 1969. NYC lights the Empire State Building in rainbow colors. #LGBTPRIDE uses social media to promote the celebrations. STONEWALL 50 has been branded with its own logo.

There is a lot of attention when a milestone anniversary is reached in America. This year marks 50 years since the Stonewall Inn, a dive bar in Greenwich Village, became the epicenter of the modern Gay Rights movement.

Despite the importance of this moment in history it is not taught in public schools. Until this moment in time all homosexuals were thought to be deviant, perverse, and mentally ill.

A history not taught is a history made invisible to the mainstream.

Today many groups that include Women, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bi, Questioning peoples are struggling to have their stories told. To be rendered visible begins the process of becoming equal under the law.

Following World War II in which many homosexual and lesbian people gave their lives the straight white politics of America reinforced its culture by driving homosexuality into closeted oblivion. No visibility allows demonization. For hundreds of years homosexuals have been murdered and outcast without legal recourse.

Nazi Germany murdered countless homosexuals. Paragraph 175 was a law written when Kaiser Wilhelm was in power. Re-written by the Nazi regime to outlaw homosexuality. A clear example of the danger of letting hate become enshrined in law.

America’s laws have been cruel to minority people since its inception. Only straight white property owners were fully recognized as equal under our laws.

The hard struggle for the emancipation of slaves led to their being set free from their brutal owners. Freedom meant that white men were free to murder them. Their civil rights were not fully recognized until the 1960’s. Their struggle continues to this day. Not allowed to build wealth of any kind, African-Americans have never been able to catch up with whites.

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bi/Queer/Questioning black people are for this reason not even on par with their white queer brothers and sisters. This must be stated because Stonewall happened in the crucible of the civil rights movement. Collectively our struggles must help each other.

The Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement enabled the moment when homosexual and lesbian people could collectively rise together against their oppressors.

In the 1960’s the law proscribed that nobody was allowed to wear three or more articles of clothing that were not gender conforming. Men could not wear any clothing deemed feminine and women could not dress as men. Homosexuality was illegal in many states. You could be fired if you were out. Our culture thought it normal to make fun of homosexuality; violence against our community was deemed legally fit.

Stereotypes of the homosexual as less masculine were reinforced in movies, television shows, and music. Then one fateful day the patrons of Stonewall stood up for themselves.

Keep in mind that many homosexuals were closeted for decades due to the shaming of our queerness for generations. Loss of family, work, and potentially lives were the reason so many remained silent.

This was the reason organized crime took ownership of The Stonewall Inn. Gay bars were not allowed to serve alcohol; dancing was not legal in many establishments.

Before the raids took place someone was usually tipped off that the cops were coming. The liquor would get stashed away. Anyone who was not gender conforming could escape before the patrons were taken away to jail.

On June 28, 1969 the police raided the Stonewall without warning. Several of the patrons in the bar that night refused to take the ill treatment of the police anymore.

Police raids on gay bars was common during the 1950s and 1960s. Patrons would get lined up, names taken, and some officers took it upon themselves to degrade trans people, people of color, lesbians, and gays. The newspapers would publish their pictures. Forcing gays out of the closet without any legal standing happened daily.

The Stonewall Inn’s patrons backed out of the bar leaving the cops inside. They filed out into the narrow streets. They rose up to resist the police. Despite many being dispersed after that first night many people gathered in the following days and nights that resulted in several confrontations with law enforcement.

There were peaceful protests too. Kick lines formed to mock the stereotype used to define and defile the gay community. Judy Garland had just passed away. The myth that her death fueled the riots is pure nonsense. The uprising took place because not being treated as human finally reached the breaking point.

Rocks, bottles, and fists were used to fight back the brutal opposition. Stonewall burned in the ensuing riots. The aftermath would result in other cities taking notice of the new visibility of homosexual and lesbian people. A movement began. San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and L.A. soon followed with new groups to defend the rights of LGBTQ people.

The first year anniversary of the riots were marked by the first Gay Rights March in Manhattan. It was titled Liberation Day.

In just a few years hundreds of groups would form to defend the rights of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered people. The Human Rights Campaign and GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) are two of the groups I have supported for years.

The first march took place on the first anniversary of the uprising.
Anti-war, Anti-Fascism, and Pro Gay Rights in 1970.

The marches have promoted themes of equality, protest against Presidents who stood against LGBTQ people, and called out policies that hurt our community.

There are still many people in power who choose to oppress rather than lift up minority people.

For the millions who stand up for equality we are not claiming special rights. We want equal rights under the law. To love, marry, raise kids, and live together in a peaceful world. Displaying our bodies in the public square allows us to claim our person hood, bond with others, and be ourselves.

Gay Pride Day has evolved over the decades since the Stonewall Uprising. Today, the march down 5th Avenue to that bar in The Village represents tens of millions of people around the world. Holland, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Russia, Israel, Poland, France, Netherlands, Thailand, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Chile, and on and on celebrate LGBTQ pride.

The image gallery below shows expressions of pride: Top Left: 3 gay couples kiss. Middle Left: Gay Leather men march. Bottom left: Trans youth celebrate. Top right: A young man celebrates pride, perhaps coming out for the first time. Bottom right: a lesbian couple embrace.

Despite the ongoing threats of ignorant policy makers, hate groups, and others the LGBTQ community includes everyone in our celebrations. Our democratic ideals cannot otherwise be realized.

Thank you reader for taking time to read my blog! Evan’s Gate continues throughout the summer. Feel free to follow this page.

Yours Truly, a couple of years ago.
Showing leather pride in New Haven, CT for Queen’s jukebox musical, “We Will Rock You”.

Zappa The…

strange or extraordinary character ODDFANTASTIC

synonyms for weird

Synonyms: Adjective

bizarrebizarrocrankycrazycuriouseccentricerraticfar-outfunkyfunnykinky, kooky (also kookie), oddoff-kilter,  offbeat, , outlandish, outrépeculiarquaintqueerqueerishquirkyremarkablescrewyspaced-outstrangewacky , way-outweirdowild.

The above comes from the Merriam—Webster dictionary definition of Weird. For myself this was the word that always popped into my head when I thought about Frank Zappa. Not surprising that a single word could then be translated in many colorful ways. Much like the sonic experiments Mr. Zappa created, his listeners would receive a bounty that would never get exhausted.

This entry is happening now because on Friday May 31, 2019 for the first time on vinyl since 1976 comes a re-issue of “Zappa In New York” on 3 Lps. Recorded during a 4 show stint at The Palladium in New York City. Originally a double LP, the third record is a bonus!

Before I delve into my thoughts about the work, how did it come to be?

In 1964 Frank Zappa took over leadership of the American band The Soul Giants. He renamed the band The Mothers, referring to the jazz compliment of mother for a great musician. However, their record company, Verve Records , objected to the insinuation (i.e., “motherfuckers”) and by necessity Zappa had to change the name, creating (and defining) The Mothers Of Invention.

Necessity is the mother of invention” is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need.

Mr. Zappa’s need drove him to create music that would provide new pathways for musicians and listeners.

As a music lover I am relieved that my appreciation of his work comes after my obsessions with mainstream groups. Music is exploratory by nature. As a listener I need to be challenged. Following the former years of passive media consumption I want to be more actively engaged. Music does this for me. But like many of my fellow countrymen I listened to what was put before me, not what I actually made an effort to get. In an age where over produced pop is drowning us in simplicity I need complexity.

Now, in this age of information, the legacy of his vast body of work can be understood as a rigorous expression of subjects Mr. Zappa cared deeply about. Nothing to do with easy access or top 40 popularity. This music is label free. Fusion is the word used to describe what is the core of his output. He puts styles together to form a new sound.

Remaining outside the mainstream culture of mass consumer popularity Mr. Zappa is being reached for the first time by people like myself who remained in a fractured mindset. Applying self-made restrictions on what to hear or think about prevented finding this revolutionary sound.

Tellingly, Mr. Zappa spoke openly about the damaging effects of television that enable a crippling passivity. People become narrow and confused, bogged down in just one form of expression. Taught to consume without much thought. Creativity becomes necessity in such a culture. In his lifetime he released 60 albums of original work. The Zappa Family Trust, since his death in 1993, has put out 62 more works.

For a complete list of the 112 studio albums and 40 tribute albums use this link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa_discography

Even back in the late 1960s the idea of free thought was constrained by profit. His albums beginning with the debut, “Freak Out!”, sought to obliterate this filter. Without a filter he put out a record titled, “We’re Only In It For The Money”, with cover art that mocked the lionized “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The rock era is filled to overflowing with artists that sought nothing more than commercial acceptance. Nothing wrong with it. There is more to art than just profit.

I admit that my first impression of him was typical of a kid too young to understand anything more than top 40 drivel. Here was a guy with looks I found peculiar playing music that had sounds I could not readily decipher or pigeonhole. My prejudices were taught. Today there are more people with Zappa’s looks of otherness. I think this is encouraging. He brought humor into forms considered serious like jazz and blues.

Way-out experiments are not the commercial fruit bearing endeavors record companies want from their talent. Frank Zappa did it because there was within him a strong need to invent sounds that could not exist otherwise. He sought out musicians that could play this no boundaries music.

On YouTube there are several hours worth of interviews from different countries and years. His opinions were direct, smart, and well thought out. Knowing full well that America’s self-deception was the thing hurting the nation from era to era, Zappa spoke about our deep backwardness regarding sexuality and free expression.

“The American dream is to always be young, always be rich, and always be cute”— Frank Zappa

Sexuality was the pressing issue. He felt strongly that sex is as natural a function as going to the bathroom. In American culture many are taught to repress sexual expression. Look at what the result of this has been. Zappa did not believe in pornography or dirty words. Filters like religion and television have done damage in dictating that there is something wrong with sex. Notice how absent most expressions of sexuality are from our media. He recognized most license holders in television are right-wing.

I admire his tenacity when expressing these things. I agree with a lot of it. To fix the economy he stated that churches should be taxed. Then legalize prostitution and drugs. Both should be highly taxed and regulated. Make sure our politicians get what they need, especially sex.

Everyone in the country would have better jobs because America would be manufacturing goods. The economy would then be quite strong. And stop overfunding the military. I think this is why so many wanted him to run for President during the 1980s. Boldly put, do you really want sexually repressed people in places of power?

Speaking of power nobody was more aware of television’s deliberate consumer mission: to sell products. His 1978 appearance on Saturday Night Live was my first exposure to his music and personality. “Dancin’ Fool” was the catchy number I remember most. Re-watching it I discovered how relevant the other two pieces were in presenting his ideas. Click here to see it: https://youtu.be/PGWE7t3qO1I

Actually, after seeing it again now as an adult I think of Frank Zappa on the simple level of a George Carlin type with musical talent. Intellectual, probing, and skeptical of what we as a society think culture should be.

Mr. Zappa was a champion of First Amendment rights. In the 1980s when the Parent’s Music Resource Center, a group made up of politician’s wifes including Tipper Gore tried to censor rock music, Mr. Zappa testified before Congress. He defended the rights of all. He knew an attack on any form of music was an attack on him as well.

I think he would find the current state of things typical. We are still fighting over race, sexuality, gender, censorship, and inequality. The continuing legalization of marijuana would be progress, slow, but a forward step he might have been happy to see. Just imagine the Zappa response to ‘reality’ TV and ‘social’ media that do the opposite of what they pretend to be. Zappa was quite real and social. A real mother.

Searing instrumentals.
“Hot Rats” is a must listen. The second solo album.
Don Van Viliet (Captain Beefheart) featured on the only vocal track, “Willie The Pimp”.
The 112th release in the ever expanding Zappa Catalog.

Details of the 40th Anniversary release of Zappa In New York set (seen above) are here:

https://www.zappa.com/news/frank-zappas-beloved-live-double-album-zappa-new-york-celebrated-suite-40th-anniversary

In April a new concert experience played 9 sold out dates in America. A hologram of Frank Zappa performs alongside 6 musicians. The European dates are coming up.

According to Mr. Zappa’s family he hoped there would be a hologram tour after his life.

Getting back to how I started this entry. Can we define Zappa? I think we cannot. Fluidity is the main thing in art. Zappa the musician. That’s enough for me.

I have started listening from the beginning with the first 4 albums by The Mothers Of Invention. The first two solo albums were added too.

There may be more entries about Frank Zappa in the future. Although I still need to write about the albums and artists that were at the core of my love of music, the boundaries are ever expanding. The gate is always open.

June is Pride Month.

Coming Up: Stonewall At 50.

Thakn you for reading and following Evan’s Gate!