pete seeger

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wandering again through the energies of the dead… and through music, and integrity…

the second thing I heard on public radio this morning when I turned it on at 5:00 a.m. was that pete seeger died last night. so I now spend the day listening to WAMC in albany, as they are remembering him all day long. he was a great friend and benefactor to the station.

when I was a teenager with undiagnosed asperger’s syndrome in the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century, my world was rather small. much smaller than those of my friends and acquaintances. I listened mostly to pop music on the radio. I don’t know that I’d ever even heard pete seeger’s name when he was so popular with the anti-viet nam movement. I certainly heard some of his songs, but since they were performed by other people, it would be many years before I would know that he’d recorded them first. I became aware of performers mostly only through other people. one friend gave me a judy collins album, another friend one by tom rush. and so I was introduced to various folk performers only when some friend gave me an album. no one ever gave me a pete seeger. it was the same for bob dylan. I knew almost nothing about him during the time of his most press-worthy fame, because no one gave me one of his albums.

when I became a public radio listener, I was nearly fifty years old, and suddenly there were folk music shows on the radio. on public radio folk music had never vanished from many stations, had been played steadily through the decades. only then, only when my fiftieth birthday was breathing down my neck, did I begin learning about so many people who’d been in the vanguard of both folk music and social protest when I was in high school and college, when I should have been listening to them every day.

it’s only in middle age, only since 1999, that I have learned a great deal about pete seeger, bob dylan, joan baez, judy collins, and many others. learned to appreciate their musical work to a far greater degree, and their social justice positions as well.

peter seeger gave his entire long life to family, creativity, social fairness and responsibility. he was dragged before mccarthy’s commie-haters. he organized, with others, the building of the sloop clearwater and the cleaning up of the hudson river. and on and on. you don’t need me to tell you about him. you can find his story in many places on the internet. you can find his story on four or five CD’s at WAMC radio, for a donation of $100 (800-323-9262). and no, I don’t work for the station.

I’m listening. to his voice. singing and speaking. he was an exceptional person. exceptional on the positive side of the scale. we have so many on this planet who are exceptional to the negative, that when a pete seeger dies, or a ghandi, or a cleveland amory, or any one of scores of others, we all lose. it’s a deficit for the world. we need to hope each time that one such person dies, one or two or three others will rise up in their places, to carry on in our world being exceptional in creativity, in humanity, in dedication to decency, in integrity and incorruptibility. where is the little child, or children, today, who will grow up to fill some of the empty spaces pete seeger left when he died last night.

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read…   Spite and malice…   All my stars

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2009-2014 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

 

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marian mcpartland

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wandering a little in music-land…

on tuesday 20 august, at the age of 95, the jazz world lost one of its brightest: the composer and pianist marian mcpartland. truly I don’t give a figgy about the jazz world, as in general I don’t like jazz.

marian had a public radio show for over thirty years, only stopping, I believe, in 2009, when she was 91. it was called, simply, piano jazz. I listened to it for one of those thirty years, from 2004 to 2005, back in my own life. before the personal holocaust and psychotic women banding together to ruin me and my animals, and all that other sick jazz. I didn’t really want to listen to it at first, but it was sandwiched in on sunday evenings (on WAMC in albany) between two shows I did want to hear, and I am usually too lazy to turn off the radio for one lousy hour. so I listened. now that it’s gone for good, I wish I’d hung in with it longer. I stopped listening because most of the guests were so full of themselves (as are a great many musicians, actors and writers). if the show had been marian all alone playing her compositions and her arrangements of other people’s material, I would have stayed with her until my life was destroyed.

I would have stayed for several years more because she herself, marian, fascinated me. I always perceived an enormous gentleness from this woman, and gentleness is another one of those things I’ve always craved in my life. one of the things I always get from animals, but almost never from humans. and as a student of language, her idiolect engaged me. I could pick out england in her speech, but also the bronx or brooklyn. it’s a very unusual combination that I’ve never heard in the speech of anyone else, ever, and it mesmerized me. eventually she did say on the show that she was born in england and only came to america as an adult, after marrying jimmy. and they settled in new york. she verified for me the dialects I was hearing in her speech. her speech which has never ceased to intrigue me.

I would have stayed… though I don’t like jazz. only marian’s jazz. she would no doubt  be horrified to read these words, but to me, her jazz didn’t  sound like jazz. it sounded much more like what they call new-age, and ambient, and things of that nature. I loved it whenever she played one of her own compositions, which wasn’t nearly often enough to suit me. and even when she does some typical jazz chord progressions that I normally cannot abide, I can get through them with only a minimum of irritation when marian is playing them. there is a magic for me when she touches the keys. the same gentleness I felt over the radio from her as a person, I felt, and feel, when I hear her play. there is no bombast there, no showmanship, just a completely loving relationship with the instrument and the sounds it produces, or so it comes across to my ears and to my soul. her touch and relationship with the piano are to me so deeply reverent and charming that I could listen to her for hours, even if she were playing things like chopsticks and three blind mice. if I had ever been really good at the piano (and there were years of lessons), I would like to have played it just the way marian did, minus the jazz.

public radio aired an excellent tribute to her last week, which sadly was much too short. I heard that great idiolect a couple of times, way too briefly. I heard a couple of solos, marian and the piano all by themselves, the way I like her best. and the very first piece they played was a solo she composed called threnody. this took me aback. partly because I almost never hear anyone use that word, and partly because, three years ago, I myself wrote a short piece of music on my lap-harp which I called threnody.  and I have a poem on my poetry blog with the same title, written at the same time as the music was, though the two don’t go together. synchronicities are always uncanny, but some are unusually so, and I was rather shocked when the first piece in the tribute show turned out to have that name.

marian and I will never know each other, and would never have met even if she’d lived yet another 95 years. but it pleases me at the level of heart and soul to know that if we had nothing else at all in common (and perhaps we didn’t), we each, unbeknownst to the other, wrote a piece of music called threnody.

they played another version of it at the end of the show, rightly pointing out that now there are threnodies for marian herself. all over the jazz world, these threnodies, and here in turners trolls in the heart of one anne nakis, who doesn’t like jazz, but who loved marian and her piano-art from afar; loved them to no small degree.

this page, from me, a small threnody for a genuine artist I could meet only over the radio.

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read…   scealta liatha (poetry)…     shadowpoems

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2009-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

lexicon lost

Page one hundred twenty-four

wandering through things lost… again… as ever

the dear, important things lost this time are words. some I rarely hear anymore… out of strangers’ mouths. some I never hear. but these words were part of the years before I was excised from my human family as if I were some kind of putrid, deadly tumor. as if I were worthless, deserving of no love, no respect, no regard. words of forty-five years. I can’t recall them all at one sitting, and so will have to edit and edit this page as lost, missed words come back to mind. words as much a part of my lost family as our meals, our furniture, our house, now also lost.

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you’re standing in the way of progress

you’re a pimple on the posterior of progress

you’re giving me agitta

oh go soak your head

take a long walk off a short pier

standing there posing for animal crackers

like a fart in a windstorm

that was a doozie

that was a blinger

slumgullion

myirror

birthtay

philadelthia

if he was any slower he’d be going backwards

if he had a brain he’d be dangerous

a la casa linga (sic)

numbnuts

padade

licky locks

the great one

the piazza

god love ‘im

bullcookies

ha-past eight

clam up

go top shelf

that frosts my cookies

(more in future)

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2009-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

streams 5

tuesday 26 february 2013

Page One hundred twenty-three

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I’m sick of you, putz-self… sick to death of your stupid star-eyes. you’ve been a bleeding fool forever…

you’re right, reality-girl… but don’t you get some of the blame? what took you so stinking long to get big enough? why did it take so many ugly scenes, so many knife-wounds in our gut, for you to scream at me?…

why did it have to come to screaming?… I gave you quiet talks for years, and there were plenty of days when I raised the volume some. … why do you need screaming?

because I’m bigger than you… the stars in my eyes shine loud… shine with stupid belief in possibilities, with sorry belief in people’s lies and shams… because I couldn’t black out all those stars… some of them, some, sometimes… but not all, never all…

now it’s time to blacken up, smarten up, tar out your silly stars… isn’t this enough now?… isn’t it enough now that asshole drank and asshole gambled and asshole lost the family house and asshole woke up dead?… dead in the bed for days, tissue breaking down, dead for days?…

no, no don’t say it. not in my family…  not in our family, another ugly newsflash… it’ll be in the paper, I suppose. asshole so-and-so found dead in bed in a state of … autopsy being performed… no, no, not in my family… wasn’t billy’s murder enough, splashed all over the papers from salem to boston, on the boston TV news… wasn’t that enough newsprint sordid stink in my family… and learning about the mafia man, dear departed grampa… wasn’t that all enough stink?…

embarrasses those star-eyes, eh?…

you know better… you’re as much me as I am… miniscule embarrassment… gargantuan heartbreak… my family doesn’t have sordid headlines… my family has sunday rides and cukes in the garden and dad playing the mandolin… my family has natural deaths in old age…

shut up!… in all the years since you supposedly became an adult, why did you ever, for five minutes, keep believing that this family is anything but a pack of deceiving, denial-ridden jackals, always out for blood, the other guy’s?… always out for yours, star-eyes…  why have you kept believing that any good you found in them could rise up and prevail?… did goodness ever prevail in any one of them?…

no…

say that louder, star-eyes…

no. no no no no no!

now you’re talking. now you’re waking up… a pack of denial-ridden, self-involved jackals, out for blood… worshippers at the altars of the lowest, most ugly things inside them… goodness was never going to rise to the stinking surface and stay there, and win the psychic battle… not ever… those stupid goodness-stars in your stupid eyes would not see…

my stupid eyes see now… any stars for humans are fading fast…

and how do you feel…?

like dying…  like killing, but that one is already dead in the bed…

out with the rest of it now… I’m the reality girl… I’m big enough now, and I’m yelling…  out with the rest of it..

I feel I wasted the energy of my heart and soul and body, any energy I spent on any one of them over decades… like I was swindled by them, and by my soft heart and starry eyes… like I’m the biggest putz who ever breathed… like dying…

well maybe we should… we can’t go on bleeding forever from all of their knife-blows… it’s no life, it’s not living… it’s stinking sempiternal suffering… let’s just pull the plug, finally…

we’ve tried that before, more than once… we can’t… whatever it takes to pull it off, to euthanize oneself and stop the bleeding, we don’t have it… we are failures at that too…

so we’re stuck… stuck till we wake up dead in the bed like that other one…

stuck… yes, stuck…

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read…  twenty-ninth december  

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2009-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.