Wednesday, October 22, 2014

EMERALD GREEN JUNGLE WITH SCREECHING MONKEYS SYMPOSIUM


I remember standing in the emerald green jungle with screeching monkeys swinging and dancing on tree limbs. Colorful parrots of reds, blues, greens and yellows watched me silently, suspiciously, as if a gold toothed conquistador. Beautiful flowers grew wild and free, like the ones in the hair of young girls on Sunday mornings down there, with red dusty bare feet and honest smiles. The roar of the gigantic falls reverberating across the gorge, thundered as a cranky old lion bothered by flies. The chilly Brazilian night left us shivering under llama wool blankets, warmed by dry red wine, sustained by thick bread and rich cheese. On my strolls through the bush I must have been like Fawcett in search of some place or something like Z. Whatever that may have been?

THE BILOXI BLUES CONSORTIUM


Story of wise guys formerly from New York who are part of the Biloxi Mississippi Mob. They set out on a trip to Mexico to collect a debt and while there find themselves in trouble with Mexico's most dangerous drug kingpin. They flee Mexico and hide out in Florida. Before long the Mexican drug cartel begins to hassle the Biloxi mob looking for them. The mob feels the gangsters are stirring up too much trouble and put out a hit on them. Soon they are hunted by the Cartel, the mob and the authorities and have to think up a quick score so they can disappear. While reading the newspaper one of the gangsters formulates a get-rich-quick scheme which completely backfires on them. All along there has been a wily twist developing that leaves the reader with their mouth hanging open when "it all goes down." This is a fast-paced read with twists and turns like Thunder Mountain going at 150 miles an hour.

BILOXI BLUES
BY GREG EVANS
Copyright 2014
Available on amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle
CHAPTER 1
It was one of those Fridays, perfect in every way, just before lunchtime in early June. The sun was out and a warm soft breeze rustled the leaves of the hawthorn and honey locust trees. Italian and Puerto Rican mothers in short skirts and tight jeans were out strolling along the avenues of the Belmont section of the Bronx, pushing carriages gossiping and throwing salivating glances at the shirtless construction workers hanging from scaffolds. Teenagers were being cool at the basketball courts, ditching school, sipping cheap beer and smoking cigarettes, and wise guys were running numbers, doing rackets from lawn chairs parked in front of Sole O Mio’s, a Sicilian joint known for its caponata. That’s the way it was in early summer. The young kids scampering around the streets playing games of stick ball and there was Jimmy, ordering a hit, a cigar hanging out of his mouth, the first of a Yankee double header blaring from an old boom box.
         Jimmy had bribed a young wise guy to whack one of his girls who he suspected was getting in good with the fuzz. You see, Jimmy “the Sticks” Solero ran broads for a living and was damn good at it, but in the state of New York that is a felony offense. Jimmy wasn’t about to serve no time because one of his quiff had a hard on for some Mick cop. Guy said he had it all set up, strangle the bitch and bury her upstate, north of Westchester, in Ulster or Dutchess. Claimed he’d done it a half a dozen times before, even had an old timer from Bensonhurst vouch for him but the Grandpa turned out to be a schmuck doing a favor for the punk’s uncle and didn’t even know the damn kid. He had never heard of Jimmy the Sticks who at the time, was still pretty much a nobody outside Yonkers and Belmont. Well the punk took the money Jimmy had given him in advance of the hit and spent it and never got around to plugging the bimbo. So Jimmy had to whack the prick which pissed off the goombah uncle in Brooklyn. It took months to calm everybody down. Jimmy thought about leaving the area. He also thought about knocking off the uncle but that would have started a new Ginzo war and both sides would lose more than gain so they called a truce and Jimmy was exiled from the Tri-state area for life. Before leaving town he paid the escort who caused all the trouble a little visit and years later in Biloxi Jimmy would tell his wise guy buddies, “That broad was my first hit, took her into a basement on Oak Point Avenue, down in Fort Apache and beat her to death with a tire iron, Christ whatta mess. Her body was found two weeks later by a couple kids in Yonkers. Her foot was sticking outta the dirt. The cops never were able to pin it on me.”

CHAPTER 2
“Jesus, when are we landing?” Johnny said glancing at his watch.
         “Hour or so,” Jimmy said flipping the page of his novel. Johnny stared at the seat in front of him feeling sick from inhaling the illegal quantity of gas station perfume reeking off a large woman across the way. The tension was like an itch, like a guttural howl and Johnny could feel his toes curling in his shoes. He had always been an edgy person and the banning of smoking on airplanes made travel sheer torture. Johnny felt himself slipping.

CHAPTER 3
The two wise guys stood up after the plane ride from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport to Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City. Jimmy stretched his back which cracked in about four places. Like Johnny he found flying commercial disagreeable, being scrunched into tiny seats, forced to sit next to tofu eating HR hacks for a large CPA firm.
         As they exited the plane, walking down the portable staircase, a blanket of heat and humidity sucked the breath out of them both like a blast of napalm. It felt like Biloxi in the dead of summer. The tarmac was full of armed soldiers shirking about, congregating in the areas of shade where they sat playing cards, smoking and checking out the skirts.
         Jimmy stretched his back again and said, “Let me tell ya, every time, airplanes fill every bone in my body with aches.”
         “Damn perfume on that saddle bag across the aisle got my head pounding,” Johnny said.
         The men moved through the poorly ventilated cavity which masqueraded as a terminal, the air smelled of sugus candies, fried pork, and thick diesel. They passed easily enough through customs. Customs officials in third world countries are notoriously unscrupulous and venal and their faculty for pilferage, legendary. The trick is to either simply leave everything home, or mail it to a P.O. Box and pay some street kid to retrieve it.

CHAPTER 4
“Hey, you want a drink, I need a drink,” Jimmy said.
         “No I don’t want a drink,” Johnny said.
         “I’m a get one,” Jimmy said.
         “Just meet me at the baggage claim,” Johnny said and wandered off in the direction of the arrows on the sign pointing toward the picture of a taxi-cab yellow suitcase. Johnny wore a black Armani suit, black wing-tipped shoes and white medium starched shirt.
         Jimmy was wearing a blue suit, brown Prada shoes and white lightly starched shirt. He didn’t have to wander far before coming upon a bar. It was a bar that had an old-world quality to it, no gaudy neon or lacy pantyhose peculiarity. He pulled out his cigarettes, lit one and placidly seated himself on a stool resting his right arm on the cherry wood bar. The Mexican airport was much different than any in the states. The security seemed lax, everyone was smoking anywhere they wished and nobody seemed to give a damn that there were stray portly cats roaming the filthy hallways. A cost-effective method for dealing with rodent issues.
         The television had a soccer game on which interested Jimmy about as much as cows fornicating in a field, and instead turned his attention to some American college girls at the end of the bar, probably changing planes for Cancun or Puerto Vallarta on their way to spring break. The young girls giggled and drank mixed drinks the color of truck stop condoms. They were attractive, well kept, no visible tattoos, probably from affluent homes and all had long either bleached blond or brown hair with blond highlights, firm bodies, fake tans and fun breasts like juicy plums.
         The bartender walked over and spoke listlessly, “My friend what can I get you.” He was a light skinned Mexican with fair English speaking skills wearing a blue button-down tucked into jeans and cowboy boots. A thick dark moustache hid his thin lips and thick dark hair was parted with obvious care.
         Jimmy said, “Finally someone who speaks English, I thought the language was extinct?”
         “Twenty years the whole world’ll be speaking Chinese,” the bartender said.
         “Not on my watch,” Jimmy said.
         “What’s your pleasure?” The bartender said lighting up a cigarette.
         “Twenty-one and blond,” Jimmy said and the bartender cackled.
         “Gimme a scotch on the rocks, whatever you got,” Jimmy said inhaling smoke from his own cigarette and exhaling slowly.
         “How about Glenlivet?”
         “Make it a double,” Jimmy said.
         “Coming right up,” the bartender said. To Jimmy’s right posing on a barstool like a concubine in a merchant window he noticed a petite Mexican woman giving him a once over. Wealthy looking Americans weren’t hard for the poor hustlers of Mexico to identify. He kind of glanced at her and gave a little nod. He wasn’t sure but suspected that she had returned a wink. She had long dark hair and was wearing a leather mini skirt, a white tank top and black high heels. In third world countries, unlike the states, staring at the legs, cleavage or rear end of a woman created not a row or ammunition for a harassment lawsuit but instead lustful sparks and for some, a day’s wage.

CHAPTER 5
“Your double sir,” the bartender said and Jimmy tossed him a few pesos. The man was pleasant enough but far from the over enthusiastic salesman. Years of living below the poverty line in a wrought-iron world had made him bored, though with the college girls he was flirty and offensive. Jimmy put down his scotch with a giant gulp and ordered another double. This trip might not be so bad after all.

CHAPTER 6
Jimmy found Johnny at the baggage claim still waiting for the luggage.
         “You wet your whistle?” Johnny said.
         Jimmy nodded.
         “Bourbon?” Johnny asked.
         “Scotch, twelve years,” Jimmy said, “No bags?”
         “Damn third world airports,” Johnny said. Jimmy didn’t respond.
         “Pretty soon I’m a take this conveyor into the back and split a few heads,” Johnny said lighting another cigarette.
         At a little over 5’10” with dark, greased back hair, Jimmy the Sticks Solero and Johnny Flowers Giacomo looked like fraternal twin brothers, both handsome, well built old school New York hustlers, gangsters known for numbers racket, skimming, money laundering and breaking knee caps and in Johnny’s case a free ticket to the bottom of the ocean. They continued to wait impatiently for the luggage, Johnny reading a brochure about ruins over on the Caribbean coast and Jimmy focused on brown cleavage protruding from a white button down blouse. Johnny on the other hand was married to a sexy blond, a Norwegian former B-movie actress who reveled being married into the wise guy life.

CHAPTER 7
They were on their way to deal with a diamond cutter named Mel Kyle who owed Jimmy 80 grand on bad bets but Kyle skipped town without paying. Oddly enough Jimmy suspected he fled to either Canada or Mexico because he was too stupid to go somewhere nobody could think of like St. Helena or Vanatu. Two days earlier Jimmy overheard a friend named Dominick “Numbers” Longo, who had been in Mexico on vacation with his broad, say that he ran into Mel Kyle down there in San Luis Potosi at a cantina playing the eights. He said when Mel Kyle saw him he turned white as a ghost,
         “And I says to him, whatta think I’m a cop or somethin’? He only smiled at me lookin’ around funny like, you know,” Dominick then showed them his best imitation.
         “You saw that Suzanne down there?” Jimmy said. The gangsters on the Mississippi used the term “Suzanne,” as someone who takes the money and runs.
         “Yeah what about it, he owe you? He seemed nervous, on edge you know,” Dominick said.
         “He saw you and figured I was there too. He was watching out for me cause he owes me a suitcase full of cash,” Jimmy said.
         “Well it looked like he had plenty,” Dominick said.
         “That son-a-bitch, get clip to the back of the head,” Jimmy said.
         “Hey, tone it down,” Johnny said. They were sitting in a local Italian restaurant in Biloxi run by the son of a mobster named Ignacio.
         “Promises to pay me with interest and then jets,” Jimmy said.
         “When was this?” Johnny said.
         “A couple months ago when we were at the Caroline Club celebrating Marcy’s birthday,” Jimmy said.
         “Yeah I remember,” Johnny said.
         “I’m a go get my money and deal with this Suzanne,” Jimmy said,”
         “Mexico ain’t no place to mess around. While I was down there, Christ, talk about gun fights, lit up the night like Baghdad. Them cops were armed with automatic weapons, RPG’s, still got shot to pieces. I watched the shit flying from a patio of this little restaurant eating a pork taco on the floor under a table, damn good pork too. They say your not supposed to eat pork down there because they feed the hogs trash. For-get-about-it.
         “Mel Kyle will find himself in a hole in the desert, let the scorpions eat out his eyes,” Jimmy said.
         “You don’t want to be having no problems across the border, you hear me. Kyle ain’t never won a bet anyhow. He’s a great jeweler, but he ain’t no gambler and you think he’ll have any money to pay them bookies down there? I heard stories about them gangsters there. They’ve been known to skin a man alive, have crows pluck out your eyes, or toss you into a barrel of acid. Nasty business.” Dominick said.
         “I’m going down there, get my money or get even, forget-about-it. It’s about respect now. Thinks he’s a tough guy? I’m a tough guy.  I can’t wait to see the look on his face when I tap him on the shoulder.’”
         “Right there in the bar you’re gonna whack him, in front of all those people? You think the cops, the hoods down there will like to be shown up like that? Huh? By some schmuck Gringo? You think you can go down there and play the wild, wild, West? Better believe someone runs that turf.” Johnny said.
         “Who you calling a schmuck?”
         “Lighten up,” Dominick said and took a long puff off a cigar.
         “I’ll figure that out when the time comes. What was the name of that place you saw him?”
         “Leave it alone,” Johnny said.
         “The bar, Dominick, what’s it called, I don’t need no Goddamn lecture Johnny,” Jimmy said.
         “For Christ sake Jimmy,” Dominick said, “Quita No Mas, it was called Quinta No Mas. A tourist trap.”
         “What’s it look like?” Jimmy said.
         “Big neon blue sign out front can’t miss it, Cidrule,” Dominick said.
         Johnny thought Jimmy was a smart enough business man but too much of a tough guy, wannabe Al Capone, always trying to prove how hard he was and never even did time in a real clink. All he ever had in terms of “experience” was fifteen days in county for DUI. The stupid guido sideswiped the broad of the Sheriff of Pascagoula. Jimmy claimed the reason he never went to the joint was not because he wasn’t hard but because he was too smart to get caught. Before he was exiled Jimmy was running a small escort service out of Yonkers, New York and actually filled out tax returns. On the forms for profession he put down pimp. Apparently the IRS never contacted the police or FBI, all they wanted was their cut, Jimmy gave it to them and they turned the other cheek.  Johnny said that it took balls for Jimmy to do such a thing and showed that he had brains.
         “So Dom, find your self a young Mexican Zoccola down there?” Jimmy said raising his eye brows.
         “I was with my broad. She thinks I’m cheatin’ on her as it is,” Dominick said.
         “But you are,” Johnny said.
         “Yeah, but she don’t know that for sure,” Dominick said.
         “Johnny here won’t cheat, he’s the straight and narrow,” Jimmy said.
         “One woman your whole life. That ain’t living,” Dominick said pulling out a second cigar from the inside pocket of his blazer.
         “You both think the world owes you something,” Johnny said.
         “We work hard, we get a little on the side, so what?” Dominick said.
         “Not my game,” Johnny said.
         “Hey, why don’t you come with me?” Jimmy said to Johnny.
         “Where, to Mexico?” Johnny said.
         “No, to Alaska,” Dominick said.
         “I don’t wanna go to Mexico,” Johnny said.
         “Come on Johnny, it would be a blast, just the two of us, whack a Suzanne, drink some Mezcal like the old days in Rosarito before you married that Swedish broad.”
         Johnny let it slide and exhaled a long breath.  “For Christ sake, let me talk to Beatrice.”
         “Ah, forget Beatrice,” Dominick said.
         “Hey this don’t concern you Dom,” Johnny said.
         “Forget-about-it,” Dominick said.
         “Come on Johnny, who wears the pants in your house, Jesus?” Jimmy said.
         “All right, all right,” Johnny said.
         “So you’re coming?” Jimmy said.
         “That’s what I just said,” Johnny said.
         “You’re a true gangster Johnny,” Jimmy said.  The problem was that when Jimmy’s father was dying of lung cancer back in the 80’s, on his death bed he made Johnny promise that nothing would ever happen to his stupid son. How could Johnny say no to a dying man, a mentor at that? So now whenever Jimmy asks Johnny to tail along on some idiotic idea of his, Johnny goes because he fears retribution from the old man’s ghost if something happens to Jimmy and he wasn’t there to make an effort to protect him.

Monday, October 20, 2014

THE VINCENT VAN GOGH QUAGMIRE

The rain had been falling for hours. Jolting blasts of lightning crisscrossed the sky and roof-shaking thunder loosened the cobble stones in the streets of Arles. The heavy down pour is what sent the witch hunt into the pubs and cafes seeking shelter. It was the only way I was able to skip out of town without losing my hide. Angry town's folks, art historians and two local politicians demanded my head on a stake placed at the entrance to town. Women in bonnets with newborns strapped to their chests shouted for the spilling of my blood, "stretch and quarter the bastard!"

"Stretch his Yankee neck and leave him for the crows!" They chanted in bloodthirsty amaurosis. My only crime was to arrive in the tiny ancient stone town and question the well-known discrepancy regarding the death of Vincent Van Gogh, a man who at the time was an unknown dirty vagrant harassed by children and loathed by the local hookers. Other painters in the area deemed him disagreeable and only once in his short lifetime did one of his paintings sell.

It had been around noon the day before when I met a local "Van Gogh expert," in a cafe at the edge of town. He was an annoying man, overweight with a squeaky voice. I didn't like him from the start simply by the way he looked in his tweed jacket and combover, but once he opened his mouth I figured the meeting would more than likely end in blows. I didn't beat around the bush and came right out with it, "Van Gogh didn't off himself."

"Whatever do you mean?" he said. The nerve of the guy being that there had been a conspiracy theory since the time of Van Gogh's death that he hadn't shot himself but had been shot. It wasn't a knew revelation but the fact that I ended up on the run for my life was something peculiar. The story is that Van Gogh had been out in the wheat field that day carrying a loaded pistol. Why he was carrying it is a debate that would never be agreed upon, but at the same time it is irrelevant. The details that follow are much more mysterious and interesting. Supposedly, as it is told, Van Gogh had been heading back to his small apartment located over a little cafe in Arles. At some point he came upon a few of the local teenage misfits of the area. Van Gogh may have befriended them. It is said that he accompanied them to a barn and was showing them his pistol when one of them pointed it and shot Van Gogh by accident. After the gun went off striking the artist in the chest the kids took off. Van Gogh struggled back to his apartment where help was called. His brother and best friend, Theo, was summoned from Paris. Theo was at Vincent's bedside when he perished. The rumor is that Van Gogh whispered to his brother not to tell the cops what really happened. He said that he didn't want the kids to get into trouble.

When I gave the fat man my story and explained that I was looking to expand on this theory and even one day turn it into a book he became livid. He jumped up shouting at me and spilled his cafe late. Other patrons in the cafe stared in disapproval and horror but not at him for his behavior but because of my statement. "You miscreant!" he shrieked. "You vulgar otter! How dare you presume to re-write the history of Arle's greatest melancholy!" I leapt up and grabbed one of the old wooden chairs to defend myself as the ferocious rotund beast man came crashing toward me. I thought through my options quickly and realized that I would never make it out of the cafe in one piece if I laid porky out by battering him with a chair. I jumped behind a woman and then in the confusion made it to the door. "Get him, for the love of God, get him!" The expert screamed. I was already out the door and hauling tail down the road and patrons exited the cafe in a weak pursuit of me. They were as confused as I was, but the confusion didn't last long. By the time I made it back to the inn where I was staying word arrive that a gang had formed and they were hunting me. How dare I try and steal Van Gogh for Arles was their argument. It was insanity. They had no argument and their call for my public execution was asinine. I went down to the desk and saw one of the maids that I had befriended earlier in the day when I first arrived.

"What is going on?" I asked her.
"What did you do?" she said.
"I don't know, what did I do?"
"You better get out of town and do it tonight. You can hide here until dark but then you are on your own," she said. That was all she had to say. I knew that if the town's people caught me I would be murdered right there in the town square. Killed because I believed a story that was different then they did. So is the way of the world. Suffice to say, the witch hunt had zeroed in on me most likely due to my maid friend's sudden change of heart. I made it out a window and was just about to be surrounded when the sky opened up and people began scurrying for shelter. I knew Van Gogh hadn't killed himself. But sometimes it seems history isn't that interested in being changed.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

BURIED IN THE STRATOSPHERE CONCLUSION

Imagine having your remains floating down to earth in a snowflake? Or maybe your loved ones would hear the rain falling on the roof and inside one of those raindrops would be one or two of your ashes. The others floating somewhere on the wind somewhere in the world. A company called Mesolof will charge a few thousand dollars to send your ashes up into space in a balloon and then release them. Depending on how much you are willing to spend you could even have them dropped on a special location. In an unmentioned article the idea was called "creepy," but just the opposite, it is fascinating. Would I ever go to such extremes? The answer is that I will one day opt for cremation but not to be dropped out of space. But at the same time I think it is poetic. I actually went through a period of time when I wanted to be cremated and then painted onto a canvas in a picture of my design to be one day hung on my daughter' wall. But of course after thinking it over I decided that that wouldn't be the best course of action.

I think the idea of somebody having a funeral service at the edge of space is "totally Venus!" The whole techie boom of the 90's was intense and pretty space age for back then. The new intergalactic boom that is fast approaching is going to to take space age to the edge of comprehension. It was inevitable after all. Do you think in 1888 the world was ready for what lay in store with the airplane and then the industrial age? What would you say? It turned out fine, everything is working like a charm? Has the world evolved any? Sort of... But for sure the age of space advancement for the wealthy and eventually the average person is so close that our palms are beginning to sweat. Just a few weeks ago articles were racing through the science magazines about scientists working on sending a crew to Mars by way of extended sleep periods and IV dietary supplements. It is remarkable and the spreading of ashes into the atmosphere is equally interesting. Where exactly will the ashes go and will any of them just get caught in orbit and float around and around and around for the rest of eternity? The average person walking along the street has no concept of space. Maybe in the next 1,000,000 years when the comet decides to come on by our solar system again maybe the atmosphere will be full of the ghosts of the parents of the children of the intergalactic age. We look at our children playing in the sand box or swinging on the swing sets but but we fail to glimpse is the glints of the future. The ones moving the technology to the grandest of all scales, to the furthest dimensions possible and those, as far as we can tell now, exist somewhere outside this world.

Imagine the view looking down on this beautiful, crazy world. Especially at night with all the lights of the cities. How will the ashes react to the radiative action and other processes going on at that altitude. It probably doesn't even matter up that high anyway. After a few hundred thousand years they will start to explain sunsets and sunrises around the world on the ashes. The theory is that the ashes would fall down to earth on a specific locale though who can really tell yet. With winds and storms and chemical reactions up in the stratosphere nobody really knows yet how it will all work out, or do they? Or have people already been laid to rest in the stratosphere? Would it even be possible to track where the ashes landed? I don't know how relevant that would be and most likely the deceased would rather imagine their ashes being caught in the winds of time and traveling the world forever, stopping periodically at some of the finer beaches and nature preserves or historical monuments. God forbid the ashes fall out of the sky and land in some place like Detroit or Camden. Any offense taken by either or those cities is greatly deserved. They have done little for their own reputations. Anyway I'm not interested in those places. What interests me is space travel, time travel, mega-dimensions, super string and anything related. The future is upon us.

Friday, October 17, 2014

THE CAPRICCIOS ON FRIDAY NIGHT, FIREFLIES AND CHERRY TREES CONJECTURE

Capriccios on Friday night, fireflies and cherry trees.

Boats drifting along the blue river currents, narrow streets and Catholic churches. 

Friendly faces and familiar voices. The smell of cigars and Spanish Rice.

The sunsets over Senasqua and the honking of horns through the old graffiti covered tunnel. 

Lights on the dock reflecting in the water.

Boats at rest and couples strolling, trains squealing.

Warm breezes and wide open skies.

Driftwood and sea glass, fresh mussels and footprints in the sand.

Childhood.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

JACK KEROUAC THE MAN THAT CREATED THE MODERN WORLD

Before Jack Kerouac made being "beat" something cool and hip, before stretching the avant garde lifestyle past the unknown bohemian artist studios of the Lower East Side and SOHO into the mainstream, music was conservative and clean. The music then was great and uplifting but at the same time it was about to change. On September 5, 1957, On The Road was published and became the most influential book of the 20th century because of the impact it had on not just the literary evolution, studio art and culture but even more powerful was the impact on music. In fact it was the seed of what we call today, "modern."

What is interesting about the work is that it was created from a series of notebook pages typed out in a stream of conscious over a three week period and encompassed a generation of young people coming out of war torn times searching for reason and truth in a broken world. The great depression was still a fresh nightmarish memory, many people, nearly everyone it seemed knew someone who had been killed, maimed or psychologically damaged by the war and people were on the move both physically and intellectually. Something was bound to burst. The times were moving faster than globalization and the industrial age was becoming a dinosaur. With the techie boom silently waiting in the wings the world needed something or somebody to bring it into the new age. It doesn't get much more romantic then setting off on the road with nothing but $50 in your pocket and an enthusiasm about a life that has no road map to follow.

But with all the magical horizons before them, excitement and adventure the reality of their situations begins to close in on them. Pregnancy, poverty, depression, loneliness, vice and the darker sides of life that we conveniently ignore until it is staring us right in the bloodshot eyes. The hangover pounding and you start to wonder how it all went so Goddamn wrong. So initially it was the journey, the unknown, the sailing along on the great jazz music of the time, carrying individual dreams and illusions and urban, iconoclastic fantasies sewn up in the dirty ripped jeans of a disadvantaged youth or at least those who pretended to be. It is the life of the average people. Their big expectations and dreams and then they wake up and realize that it all lead nowhere. The marriage under the golden cathedral ceiling culminating in a rotten vicious divorce. The kids turning around to shun you followed by twenty plus years of silence and a lack of communication. You remarry but walk in on your new spouse naked in bed with your best friend. Claustrophobia sets in and every day just seems so bland when you go out and pick up an alcohol or pill habit and find yourself either pregnant at 45 or having knocked up some strange whose name you don't even know. That is pretty much the direction of On The Road that leads you down an empty hallway into an empty playground that looks like a thousand that you've seen before. It is the ultimate mirror of life so practically everyone. At least that is so for everyone who is honest and not hiding behind the flip book of good times we call the social media galaxy.

The idea of a "Beat" was sentimentality. It is was the quest for independence in a world that had a strangle hold on an evolving culture. On The Road signified the necessity of the dilution of different generations into the creation of something that was supposed to be extraordinary. The idea was form of anti-a priori. It was experiencing life through observation and shunning the deductive reasoning mumbo jumbo.

The moral of the story is that the journey is only part of it. It begins inside the soul first. It could be something as complex and reinventing oneself. It is done all the time for many different reasons but the journey itself is something that is there to add dimension. The foundation is what begins within the mind and then the building of a life can begin. No good fortune or happiness is accidental. It it the product of a continuous work in process that began with an idea and was constructed over the long and often difficult journey that one can look upon as a great adventure. A cliche would be to "Get off the couch and Get On The Road." Or maybe that isn't so cliche after all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

IKEY OWENS AND THE ENTERING OF THE WHEAT FIELD

Ikey Owens, the keyboard player for Jack White was in the prime of his career has entered the wheat field and left behind a legacy. A poet in his own right. A poet of sound, of tone, of tune and tenacity. The rhythmic mystery and magical twinkle of genius. Here and there do the great ones appear out of the bright light and for such a short time do they dazzle before once again heading off on that narrow highway into the red sunset. And there we wait and wonder and ponder the reasons and the meanings and the what ifs and should bes and nothing more can be deciphered from the paint by numbers picture but mere illusion. And for a moment you feel like you are suffocating but it is a loss you have felt before. The sound of the music hits you like you are in a fish bowl. But the storms calm and the weather moves along but there are always those days that feel like autumn. Those October moments where the nostalgia rocks you and the music savagely tugs and wrenches it's way through you. Some create to it and others cry. But it is universal the appeal as is the sadness from the loss. So instead of the melancholy it is celebration that is in order with the bang of a giant cannon of music into a neon night of dancing, smiles and remembrance. An immensely talented man who once performed with the Long Beach Dub All-Stars could be likened to Damien Hurst in terms of music ingenuity or simply the John Coltrane of his profession. He had the world at his fingertips though his life was cut short while on tour with White in Mexico and he will be missed. The cause of his death has not yet been released.

Owens joined White in 2012 for his solo debut Blunderbuss. He also played with numerous other acts like Sublime, and Mastodon among others. It is hard for young people to fully grasp the finality of loss. The idea that someone was there one day and gone the next, especially someone with great influence like a musician. I don't know if people fully understand the magnitude for which music moves us as humans. For many people struggling through the day to day grind of life, the broken relationships, the bad marriages, or just enjoying the good times with friends music is both that which helps us to escape and makes us feel even that much more alive. It is something that touches us across every facet of our being and makes us want to rage, or dance, or make love, or dream, or paint, or touch the sky. The creators of that music to many people become intertwined with their own beings and when a great musical giant like Ikey Owens dies so does a small part of those whom the music moved so deeply. When people like John Coltrane, Elvis, Brad Nowell, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and others passed at such young ages the fans felt an emptiness and hollowness practically as if they lost a member of their own family. It is not weird or creepy but a significant realization that music is that powerful and meaningful to us as humans.  Ikey Owens was merely 38 years old. In some sense he was just beginning his life despite having experienced and accomplished so much. Doesn't it seem sometimes that those that experience so much so young and quickly are the more likely to meet early death? Of course that isn't true but philosophically it could be argued. But then one could ask why have members of the Rolling Stones that experienced as much as anyone else not been struck down? There are two or three sides of nearly every argument that can be put to the debate hall of any Bowery poolroom, but at the end of it all is the lone highway we all eventually take. Whether that journey is expected, welcome or feared it is inevitable. Nobody knows what to expect. There are many ideas and even one or two experiences, but for each and everyone it will be their own personal journey and may it be filled with music.

There are some out there that feel cheated and may be angry with Ikey for leaving us so soon. The young people will take it the hardest. But the music will live on. One day you will be walking along down Hudson or First Avenue and through a boom box from some fire escape you will hear Ikey's music floating through the warm humid night. And you may stop and lean against the brick or brownstone and close your eyes and memories or nostalgia will lift you up into the lights and silence of the city nights. There will be Ikey smiling from behind that keyboard, fingers moving like the tides of some blue ocean somewhere in your own little corner of the world. The thing about music is that we all like our own style of music and there are those certain songs that in the privacy of our own galaxy we play over and over like OCD freak maniacs. That strum of the guitar or the steady pop of the snare drum that captivates you like a drunk salmon trying to swim up the waterfall while the bears stand around laughing and slapping each other's shoulders. Those warm fuzzy euphoric feelings that some of you may mistaken for a sophomoric post-coital acid flashback are really the sensation of the music seeping into your skin and your soul. Music that tickles the ears of God. Music that can silence the ferocity of a battle or take us away to simpler times. There were once simpler times. Quiet evenings sitting before the black and white keys of an old piano at four in the morning, the flickering shadows of a candle light dancing along to the music.