Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three Reading Cycles

Reading defeated me when I was obligated to hold-to a particular book until finished. A foray becomes a commitment becomes an obligation becomes a tedium becomes an avoidance becomes no reading at all.

That was true in a corollary way with books loved: life transforms itself so much with a good book that the next book -- even if equally as good (!), but of a different author and different style -- suffers by letting the built enthusiasm of 'Book One' lapse.

So, I read in stacks, never going too far into one book before arbitrarily putting it down and opening another.

The 'three cycles' have developed from there:

1) Group One: the bedroom stack, often seven books, usually no more than ten, serves to greet me before sleep, an hour or two, if I can afford the time, or 10 minutes, 2 pages, if not. These are books that can be read in a period of months, possibly weeks, short or very engaging so as not to remain in the stack too long, not overstay a welcome. One or two of these also serve as 'travel' books to take to appointments where waiting in line or to take on trips.

2) Group Two: the day stack, two or three that are long and that find a rhythm to fit comfortably a period clearly more than a year or two. The enthusiasm level may be high, and these books are greeted as dearly as those in Group One, but their periodicity is longer, and the 'rotational mismatch' with those in the first group deserves separate reading attention -- weekends, vacation times, return visits.

3) Group Three: the auxilliary stack, maybe another 6 to 12, those that can't be handled easily before sleep: print too small, chapters too long and not accommodatingly paced, dense style (descriptive, too technical, 'educative'), but containing material that wants to be read and has personal virtue. These may have started out as Group One, but quickly got identified as something else. Too important and well-chosen simply to give away, they serve as 'change-ups' for the other two groups, and never (re-)enter routine consideration for regular reading rhythm, only periodic sampling for reassessment of virtue.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Pear, A Loaf, The Gentle Pause

This Age I won't be living:

Nestled under a willow by a small stream, my very self humble beneath the sky of the Creator reaches into a rucksack to draw out -- what? -- a thin book of poetry, a sketch pad, a book of prayer?

No. A flashdrive. My vade mecum.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RIP: That Era Then

Just as a reminder. What we call 'The Sixties' was a whole bunch of things, delineated by-- if we can reserve this entry for one such delineation and that alone for now -- and bracketed by, the dates November 22, 1963, and April 15, 1974.

The dates are recognizable. First, President Kennedy's shooting in Dallas. Nothing but fear and only nervous, momentary hope since then. Yes, Lyndon Johnson had a 'mandate' actually to engineer the Civil Rights Act and The Great Society through a Congress where he had held formidable power. But within a year: Gulf of Tonkin incident and the great escalation (we now know partly out of his fear of being outflanked by even worse anti-Communist whackos) of the Vietnam War.

The somewhat arbitrary (but personally-felt) end date is the Hibernia Bank robbery in San Francisco by the Symbionese Liberation Army, one of whose members was the kidnapped Patty Hearst (revolutionary name, Tania). This was followed closely by the departure of Nixon from the White House after many hours of televised Watergate hearings.

Very hard not to see the downward slope in that, the trough, the depression.

Very hard not to understand the defiantly-long, stringy hair, the sideburns, the randiness, the alcohol consumption, the marriage loss, the spiritual depression.

When It Goes Dead

Like when you first feel Fall.

It's still summer -- even High Summer, August.

A cloud passes (okay, just a cloud)

Temperature dips, and the smell,

The smell of flora, shifts.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


When the man ate the stone
He couldn't pass it.

When the stone ate the man
nothing was said.

3 Ways Of Looking At

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.
Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.
Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet . . .

Diminutive dwarf girl in motorized wheelchair unmoving -- abandoned?
No! On cellphone!

Samson (the dwarf): You can only know a man so much.

The Last Time Ever I Dialed AM

Let's call it Summer, 1973, and let's give some slack for 'recent oldies' or 'call-in requests' on that day, whenever it might have been.

Hurricane Smith, Mongo Jerry, Maria Muldaur, Sylvia, and Minnie Ripperton.

Visceral memory.

Not Enough Credit

Women directors who should be noted more:

Sophia Coppola

Lost In Translation
Marie Antoinette

Mary Harron

American Psycho
I Shot Andy Warhol
The Notorious Betty Page

Sally Potter


Noticing now for the first time that all (?) of these films deal with 'off-kilter' love relationships, and I wonder if that's more telling about me (!!?) or the directors or women-as-directors or what-makes-for-interesting film.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Pipe Dream? Perhaps

My goal: to be able to write about anything I know nothing about.

For instance, great African run up Kilimanjaro in barefeet.

For another instance, to converse with a Korean kimchi take-out hostess:

She: (pointing at the taoist yin/yang circle on my t-shirt) You?
Me: It helps me to sleep.

For a third, to analyze Fred Astaire's dance partners.

'Small Zine' Titles

So far as I know, these mags don't exist, but they should:

Sharky Baby
El Locoloco
Young Churchill

Norman Conquest
Kris Kane
Smooth Jabbilist

Finer Trinket
Some Guts
Girl Fatale
Label At Risk

Friday, June 20, 2008


Think about it. To be somebody and nobody at the same time.

At once, both about to decompose and to ripen.

Ignored by the universe and be its justification.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hefting My Share

If I carry the water, carry my weight

not carry a grudge or a torch,

I carry the day and

carry it on home

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's '64, I'm 35, The Sun's 85

What can be said about Brazil that isn't encapsulated by fine beach, samba, and Jobim?

One of my incarnations will be as the tall and tan me in a white tropical linen jacket, light-weight trousers, a plastic card with no credit limit, a small cigar, and rhythmic verve to my walk. Am I Orfeo? Vadinho? Or simply a well-tailored Fernando Lamas?

Where's the casino, namorada?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Long Life!

Well! I certainly don't intend to spend the remainder of my life in this century!


She was 'alone in a crowd' those last years.

Of course, I was just a lad -- 15, 16 -- as she approached her self-chosen death. But she did befriend me; I did learn the offerings of 'full living'.

The Kennedys? She, not they, would be the one likely on call.

I: a puppy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life Span

When I scan the lay of the cards before me, do I see a full ten years?

The idea of 'future' has been with me for as long as my 'past' remembers. At the last moment of consciousness, no doubt, anxiety will focus on 'future after the gone body'. So: ten full years?

What about ten minutes?

That seems a surer bet. I'm home. No road excursion set for another half-hour, so auto accident, a feral threat always, can be kept at bay. Morning hour, sleepy suburb -- the best time for coffee and musing, for poetry, for imagination, for taking stock, for stocking up, for a clean start.

Next to nil are the chances of a misplanned bank heist to occur on this spot. Very far is this from a main transport road with suspect trucks loaded with fertilizer and chemicals designed to blow buildings into world headlines. Extremely low in priority is this place on al Q'aeda's 'Top Ten Target' list.

No. Not near enough to the urban anomie, either, that can break a skull and leave you deaf or tube-fed in an expensive care bed.

Here. Hot coffee. Muffin-cap, a Danish, rugalah, the scone. Today, a 'classic pastry': sugar-crumble on soft cake whose layers split by a cinnamon goo.

What about ten minutes? It eats me up as I digest.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


(whisper it)

(surprise tartness of a tangerine wedge)

(hide all my reference to it from the surprise knock)

Fold Edge 'Me' Into Slot 'G'

Looking into scientific assuredness, we have complication after complication of combines and disassemblies, dissolutions and reattractions, appearances and escapes. Beyond those -- and they are numerous and vast, both minute and gigantic -- beyond those, we, as 'scientists', know nothing.

The grand question, one that spurred the scientific project in the first place, remains: is there 'nothing' outside the physical combinants which include the impulses that cause even this very writing by this very person?

Science itself rightly claims modest silence.

So, we either hold ourselves satisfied with the 'unanswerableness' of 'Why', or we're left with the abdication of our leading scientific types of inquiry or with the arbitrary creeds that preceded them.

If there's no discernible (large 'P') Purpose to the ever-more discoverable (small 'p') process, is there then a suggestive (small 'p') purpose that might give rise to a (large 'P) Process? That is: 1) out of nature, consciousness; then 2) out of consciousness, purposeful reordering of nature.

We may have the notion of (large 'G') God, because what we see as the ordering power -- inordinately, indefinably, impossibly (!?) Other (note the 'O') -- that ordering power really belongs to (small 'g') godlike us. Because we alone have conceived it. We, in our physically-grounded neural system, may be among (or, as yet, the pinnacle of) the most creative of chance complications.

And if there is indeed a (large 'P', large 'G') Purpose or God, we may be its vanguard.

It may be, therefore, that everything we do does have tremendous consequence just in its creative trials.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hound Dog

Elvis: the White Man's Black Man.

No wonder they didn't like his hip gyrations. It wasn't so much the 'sexual suggestiveness', the 'improper motion', the 'lewdness'.

More than that, the importation of Black relaxation about such things. By 'Black', of course, we don't refer to the ministers and Christian church goers whose propriety was as buttoned-down as any
Danbury, Connecticut, White Episcopalian -- even though the Gospel enthusiasms did sweat and did sway and did yearn for promised release.

The 'Black' providing worry in the 50s meant those cut loose from any White regard -- born into that disregard, that use-value-only, that exploitation, that mean spot.
Their movement seemed a psychic danger, for sure.

How far a racist imagination from musical body motion, dance, wild dance, to other body motions? What would slave holders have bequeathed and their embittered scions carry in terms of past power? The
seigneurial fruits of 'first coition', the jiggle and wiggle of lynchings?

One thing to muse over such heritage, glass of Jack in the hand, another to see it brought to light, dance-released, vinyl-repeated, toyed with joyously by your children.

Elvis: the Black Man's White Man.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Le 'Moi'

A sense of self-importance no one finds but only remotely justified.

An overlooked prophet becomes a prophet of the overlooked.