There was the night about a decade ago that I was hanging out at Hollywood & Highland with a multi-Grammy winning pal and then sharing a table at a jazz dive with three other Grammy winners watching an Oscar winning pal playing some terrific saxophone. At the time, tho’, that didn’t seem anything special. I don’t know if that sort of jazz scene exists anymore, cool digs where Grammy winners and brilliant musicians and stoners and writers and fans and movie stars mix together like it was the most natural thing in the world, and the music cooked and sometimes was so in the pocket that the murmur of voices and laughter subsided completely as a saxophonist reached the essence of a melody and then released it into the ether with a final drawn out breath.
Just heard Lady by Beck Bogert Appice for the first time in several lifetimes. When I was about fifteen that was my all time favorite song, even more than the live Highway Star or Panic in Detroit or Why Does Love Have To Be So Sad or Rock and Roll Queen or Love or Confusion even. It hasn’t aged as well as some, I guess, a little thin and slightly ridiculous, and the rest of the album was stone weak aside from the killer version of Superstition, but it has the frenzied tempo and zillion notes all at once that I dug as an adolescent awash in testosterone. I guess I get that rush from be bop now. Some people never grow up.
Watching the end of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey and amid the smoking wreckage Mitch Mitchell rockets his sticks into the stunned stoned freaked and tripping crowd and every time I see it and (and I’ve seen it a hundred times) I think that I would have given anything to have been in that crowd and caught one of those sticks, it would still be my most treasured possession, that stick, even now, that half a century before had rolled across those toms with absolute abandon and bounced with loose wristed splats off the snare and set the cymbals roiling and splashing and crashing with Jimi’s every move and sound and look and thought. Airborne for only a second or two, the sticks disappear into offstage darkness, first the one, then the other and Mitch, laughing, steps out of view. I turn off the TV right then, before the interviews begin and reduce the music to history, and I wonder again about those sticks.
How Do You Do by Mouth and MacNeil is earwormage at its worst. It’s always mostly wordless: How do you do/oo oo/oo oo/oo oo/oo uh/oo oo. It goes on like that, till I hear “I’m living for” and it loops again. Try it yourself.
When you find yourself looking up your ear worm on Wikipedia it’s time to do something about it. Mouth and MacNeil were Dutch, it turns out. I have a history with Dutch ear worms. Little Green Bag was actually little greenback but was misunderstood by somebody no doubt stoned. I found that out a few ear worms ago. And Plastic Bertrand was Belgian so maybe I actually have a history of Low Country ear worms. Plastic Bertrand. That worked. Ca Plane Pour Moi moi moi moi moi….
I had always figured that by this stage of my life I would know why it’s spelled My Woman From Tokyo but sung Tok-A-yo, with that one hell of a long A phoneme, like a misplaced Canadian. After nearly a half century I just have to ascribe it to mysticism, one of the mysteries, some grokked chakra thing, some stupid with a flare gun, whatever. I hung with Funky Claude once, we talked, I forgot to ask him, he died, and that was that. Some things are perhaps best left unknowable.
That ten minutes of in the middle of nowhere halfway through North By Northwest is one of my favorite scenes in a movie ever. Not sure why. I know exactly where it was shot, too, I mean exactly. Beyond Bakersfield a stretch, not far but a world away full of nothing but space and silence. I live surrounded by old movies here in Silver Lake, they filmed hundreds within just a mile or three of my pad. But a jillion things have happened since, a big crazy city full of big crazy Brownian motion all the time year after year after year. Nothing is as it was. But the fields surrounding Cary Grant in 1959 are still there, just fields, the horizon geometrically perfect and bare, the air still and hot, and distant cars spawning dust devils that swirl and spin and disappear as if nothing between then and now happened, nothing at all.
From Here To Eternity not on TCM and they don’t let Ernest Borgnine call Frank Sinatra a little wop. Instead his lips move like a puff of air. Remember Maggio? Monty Clift asks, all methody emotingly understatedly enraged. Ernest Borgnine exhales. Puff. As if puff was a word. It could be, why not? The Bushmen click, the Arabs gack, there are languages in the mountains of Southeast Asia that poing and bong. So Ernest Borgnine puffs. But it’s his penultimate puff. He dies a moment later with the last puff. Two puff’s worth of Ernest Borgnine, and no Italians offended.