Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we can't help it but pull up the old Budweiser t-shirt every now and then and gaze at our navel. Oh goodie, it's still there, all puckered and cute!
There'll be nothing particularly informative about this post, so skip it if you're looking for our usual logic. We're keen to lay down a personal narrative today.
First, we at "The Gods Are Bored" remain baffled by puberty. Two weeks ago my daughter The Spare informed me that she wished I would die so she could sell all my stuff. Last night she asked me to make a list of all my favorite songs. She got on the web, found 'em, and burned them all onto one CD. On the CD she wrote, "To Mom with love from The Spare."
For a geezer like me it is perfectly amazing to hear the New Grass Revival's medieval "Spring Peepers," followed closely by "Who Are You?" The Spare even found a really super version of Anne's personal Pagan anthem, "Everything Is Round." Hey, don't look for a link here. Ask the 13-year-old nearest to you.
Amazement. I think the world is much more complicated than we can fathom.
Herewith we begin the personal narrative we want to save for the Anne Archives.
Older daughter The Heir is a multi-media artist. Sometimes she paints, sometimes she draws, sometimes she makes films, sometimes she writes poetry. She's not technically inclined (just like her mom), so her films are short, stream-of-consciousness things. This year's offering to her school's annual Student Film Festival was a three-minute excursion through maximum weirdness called "Static Bliss." When I mention that the background music was an obscure track by Lou Reed, you'll understand The Heir's no ordinary 17-year-old.
The Heir goes to a posh Blue Ribbon School where you're dirt if you're not smart and good at sports. The Heir's class is dominated by a golden boy I'll call Adonis. Adonis is a multi-sport phenomenon, an accomplished artist, girls swoon over him (Heir excepted), teachers suck up to him, he's in the National Honor Society ... and he made a film for the festival.
Festival hour arrives. Five students are present to view "Static Bliss." But when word gets out that Adonis's film is about to air, a couple dozen "populars" file in to watch the Adonis offering. Which, of course to these adult eyes writing this entry, was nothing more than a self-indulgent, glitzy techno-snobbery, poorly filmed and pretentious.
It didn't help that the asshole teacher introduced Adonis's offering by saying, "Now, here's the one we've all been waiting for. It has proven to be very popular."
So Heir and I are sitting there watching this thing, and the substitute teacher in me starts deconstructing it. How did Adonis get free rein in the school to manipulate empty corridor lights and film in parts of the school that are off limits to students? When The Heir left a textbook at school one weekend the janitors wouldn't even let her in the door to go to her locker. Slurp slurp slurp! Someone's sucking up to Adonis big-time.
Didn't you go to school with one of these perfect pricks?
Anyway, Adonis's film just crushed the poor Heir flat. When it was over, she left the room, rushed out of the school, dashed her VHS with "Static Bliss" on the ground, and tore into the park. I let her go. Sometimes we just need to walk off our anger, don'tcha know?
When I got home myself, though, she was sitting in the living room weeping. Mr. Johnson and I just couldn't get her calmed. It sure didn't help that she was preaching to the choir when she said that no matter how hard some people work on perfecting their visions, their efforts go completely unappreciated by the boobs and morons who populate the globe.
A little blur of movement caused me to look out the window. And there was the Monkey Man, streaking past on his bike. First time he's been on our street since New Year's Day.
I leaped from my seat and rushed out to the street. He was already half way down the block. I yelled, "Yo! Monkey Man!"
He turned around and came back. He had two puppets with him. His monkey, of course, and a butterfly. There was a lot of other stuff in his bike basket too.
I sketched out what had just happened to The Heir. By that time The Heir had come out of the house with her face all puffy and teary-eyed. We talked awhile in the front yard. The Monkey Man is a locally regarded poet, so he was probably the very best person to settle The Heir. Like me, he's a substitute teacher. Who can make it as a poet? And yet he's reading Monday night at the Philadelphia Public Library. You have to calibrate your expectations when you're creative. He's done that.
Then the Monkey Man asked if he could see The Heir's film.
Next thing I knew, the Monkey Man himself was sitting in this very chair I'm using now. He flirted with Decibel the parrot. And how was it that Decibel, usually hell on wheels with strangers, talked and laughed with the Monkey Man?
The Heir had shattered her VHS when she threw it on the ground. It was her only copy except what was saved in her camera. So the Monkey Man had to watch the tiny little screen on the camera. Which he did.
The Monkey Man graduated from high school when I was two years old. And that makes him Vietnam generation. Except he didn't go to Nam, he went to San Francisco, Haight to be specific. The residue of that experience clings to him resolutely.
He said to the Heir: "God, you can just see some great weird rock band using this footage behind them on the stage."
The Heir said, "I never thought of that."
This was news to me, as Cy has indoctrinated the Heir thoroughly on the very weirdest bands of all time. Lou Reed is the tamest among the Heir's favorites. I actually though the Heir had been inspired by some video of a Residents concert or something.
Shortly after that, the Monkey Man returned to his bicycle. I said to him, "What brought you by here this afternoon?"
He said, "The wind blew me this way when I got off work." He admitted that usually when he rides through our neighborhood he uses the street on which he grew up. It's the one behind ours. But somehow he found himself on our street.
It wasn't like he was lurking in front of our house. He was rippin when he passed here. I had to shout to get his attention.
Then I reminded the Monkey Man that he'd have 7 miles of riding home, face into the west wind. He said, "I'll cheat and take the El."
Mr. Johnson and I are still puzzling about the strange synchronous appearances of the Monkey Man. By chance on New Year's Day when he was bike riding alone in a drizzle of rain. That day he needed some companionship and a warm supper. By chance yesterday when most needed as a hippy role model for The Heir. When you factor in the long, convoluted story of how we came to know the Monkey Man after puzzling over him for years, it's just ... emmm ... maybe bored gods or dead parents at work or something
If you're still reading this, wow. You must like "The Gods Are Bored" a hell of a lot. We appreciate your patronage.
Long enough post? Not hardly. While writing it, I've been listening to the CD the Spare made for me. So I've had to stop and cry a few times. Here are my all-time favorite songs (factoring in that I had a notion what the Spare was up to, so I used all easy stuff to find):
By Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (or combinations thereof)
"Wasted on the Way"
"Find the Cost of Freedom"
By the New Grass Revival
By Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene
By James Taylor
"Fire and Rain"
By The Who
"Who Are You?"
By Elton John
By Earth, Wind & Fire
By the Doobie Brothers
By the Commodores
"Easy Like Sunday Morning"
By the Moody Blues
"Nights in White Satin"
By Ricky Scaggs (cover)
"The Walls of Time"
By an unknown folk artist
"Everything Is Round"
Spare added "Lean on Me." We like to sing that together when she's not feeling like killing me and plucking out my eyeballs.
Geezer stuff all, except "Everything Is Round." Which it is. Awen.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS