Friday, March 30, 2007

Navel ad Nauseum

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"
"Southern Cross"
"Johnny's Garden"
"Find the Cost of Freedom"

By the New Grass Revival
"Spring Peepers"

By Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene
"Blue Ridge"

By James Taylor
"Fire and Rain"

By The Who
"Who Are You?"
"Join Together"

By Elton John
"Rocket Man"

By Earth, Wind & Fire

By the Doobie Brothers
"Black Water"

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.



buddydon said...

ye writ the follerin:

'If you're still reading this, wow. You must like "The Gods Are Bored" a hell of a lot. We appreciate your patronage.'

still readin, n will be ever time i git the chants. this here post wuz one of yer best ever, brung tears to this ole hillbillys eyes, witch thats a problem on a counta i am at wurk!

Angela said...

These are the kinds of things that renew my faith that there is true magic in the world.

Great story, Anne!

Rosie said...

I'm so glad the Monkey Man was sent for the Heir. I so feel for her. I know exactly what that disappointment feels like. I'm sure you told her some version of this. And I'm sure she didn't really believe you, are her mother. Adonis is destined to a life of scrabbling up the corporate ladder in some soul-less corporation forever trying to reclaim some tiny bit of the popularity he now enjoys. Some day in the future, she will look back at this and laugh. Because she continued to grow. And growth is really what creativity is about. Not reaching some point where everyone likes you and your work. Indeed, sometimes it's quite better if they don't.

Hayden said...

Anne, I liked this one just about the best. An important human story, simply and directly told so that we could all feel it. That's not to say I don't like your usual, just that this was special.

Interrobang said...

Adonis is destined to a life of scrabbling up the corporate ladder in some soul-less corporation forever trying to reclaim some tiny bit of the popularity he now enjoys.

Mmmnope, gotta disagree. Those guys are Chairman of the Board by the time they're fifty years old. If you're good-looking, white, male, and act like an entitled asshole, it seems like half the world is prepared to give you whatever the hell it is you want.

It's the job of people like us to help make the system a little less tolerant of good-looking, entitled assholes.

Anne, I think The Heir and I would have a lot to talk about, music-wise. I'm almost certain I could introduce her to stuff she's never heard of that she'd probably like.

For instance,

A very strange cover of Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun by Moog Cookbook (which also has to have one of the weirdest videos I've seen in a long time), Tinariwen from Mali doing a song called Zin Es Gourmeden (sounds like Arabic bluegrass, but is actually Touareg), the late Ofra Haza, an Israeli of Yemenite (Timanit) extraction, doing Mata Hari, her Muslim counterpart Hadiqa Kiani from Pakistan, doing Boohey Bariyan (not the best version of this song I have heard, but the only one I can find -- the better version has a heavier drumline), and for a completely different change of pace, Einstürzende Neubauten (from Germany, where else?) doing Armenia.


Athana said...

Gosh, Anne, this is a tear-jerker. Have you figured out yet which bored god the Monkey Man is? Great photo of him, the monkey, and the Heir and the Spare! Did you know you can click on it and it blows up a billion times? Will you give the Heir my condolences re: Adonis? Yes, yes, yes, I suspect we all went to school with him. I suppose he’s at school so we all learn a bit about him before we meet him around every corner after graduation. Also, your taste in music is exquisite, I must say.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Bless The Heir's heart and her indefatigable spirit. Yes, the "Adonis"es of the world always do get the easy road, the promotions, and they always get away with murder in how they treat everybody else. Middle-management hacks salivate over them to the point of tormenting everyone else in the building.

It's not easy to be intelligent, creative, and original in this country. The MSM, the marketers, the sales hacks, the sheeple, they always pressure you (especially if you are a Uterine American) to CONFORM CONFORM CONFORM, to try to be less like YOURSELF and more like EVERYBODY ELSE. This can be a huge hinderance to the creative soul, if not outright torture.

Or, as one of my favorite artists, Mata, has put the mantra, "CONFORM CONSUME OBEY."

The truly gifted know that what they have inside is far more precious and valuable than any outside costumery, obedience, or group identification can ever bring. The rest of the world just kills-off their own uniqueness in barter for membership in the herd. The Heir & The Spare are truly fortunate to have been born to an artist such as yourself, who values all that they have to offer and who can teach them to honor and value all that they are.

I wish that I had some good advice for The Heir when it comes to dealing with the haves of this world, those who never have to work for anything, since it's all always handed to them, but I've never been very good at it myself. Kinda explains the resume'.

Just give both of those precious girls all of my support & hope, because it is indeed comforting to know that there is another generation of creative women coming up, not only to do battle with the mealy-mouthed mediocre bastids, but also to make their mark on the world through their art and their energy.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Please pass these on to the Heir & Spare:


Joel Veitch, anarchist artist from a whole other planet: