Jimmie Noone, Apex Blues, MCA/GRP/Decca, 1994. Recorded 1928, Chicago

On the title track, amazing throb-pulse of Lawson Buford's tuba. Earl Hines Piano break into feather-light, confident, encouraging Noone clarinet solo. Insanely stomping slow outro-chorus.


Reading Brecht’s Journals 1934-1955. Blog-like, short, razor-sharp entries. From Denmark:

5 mar 39
interesting, this new “realistic” american literature (CAIN, COY, HEMINGWAY). these people protest against the prevailing descriptions of certain milieu, bank heavily on the novelty of “unbiased” description. it all remains within the domain of the formal. at its inception stands the experience of film (and at the end stands hollywood). film, esp. silent film, needed an unexpectedly large amount of action (consumed a large amount of expression) . . . with these hard boiled men it is a matter of producing hot stuff, they need to arouse emotions because they are part of the great emotions racket. So they use emotions as a driving force, as the path of least resistance. They give a new 10 horse power engine, complete with appropriate brakes to the man in the street, to each of roosevelt’s new deal types, garage mechanics, farm hands, reporters, the souped-up petty bourgeois, a romantic character, comes into existence. he is a poor devil who is highly strung beyond belief, has been given a seconds spirit by rationalization, stands gasping, is threatened by unemployment, and invests his last vestige of strength in competitiveness. He bestrides the stage as hero and muscle-man, and the boards cave-in. 24


Professor Griffes

Listening to Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Collected Work for Piano, recorded 1979, (New World, 1997):

Griffes was an American composer, a somewhat more traditional contemporary of Charles Ives. Serene, beautiful. Really helping me with the returning-to-work stress.


Anthony Braxton, recorded 1969, (actuel, 2002) w/ Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, Steve McCall:

Three separate arrangements by Smith, Jenkins and Braxton. Quiet, carefully arranged music with a lot of space and revolving, unaccompanied soloing. Interesting even after multiple back-to-back listens. Henry (Katie’s parrot) really likes this CD, which is always a sign of high-quality music.


read The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud, Strachey translation, on the Fung Wah bus on the way back to New York:

"It goes without saying that a civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them to revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence." 12


Apparently, part of the magic of the Fung Wah bus when it is operating in beneficent mode is that I am able to read on it without getting nauseated. On the way to Boston I finished the Wire, read The Economist as well as the highly absorbing article in the New Yorker about Gertrude Stein. I’m guessing that the details of the disclosures therein about her right-wing tendencies are common knowledge to my many Stein-enthusiast friends. Esp. interested in Stein and Toklas paying to bust Nazi collaborator Bernard Fay out of jail. It made me think of the inverse moment when The Weather Underground broke Timothy Leary out of jail. Curious now if there is critical work on Stein that relates her reactionary/conservative tendencies to her poetics in some way? Has someone does this with Pound?

On the island I banned all electronic communication and kept reading to a minimum. I did bring two books, though. Writings of the Zen master Dogen (Northpoint) and Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire part two -- Faces and Masks (Quartet Books), two books that balanced each other out nicely. The Galeano book, in the course of its varied, clear and fluent historical multiplicities, contains some material appropriate to the current foreign policy of the US:

"In full imperial euphoria, the United states celebrates the conquest of the Hawaiian islands, Samoa and the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and some little islands eloquently named the Ladrones (Thieves). Now the pacific and Caribbean are North American lakes, and the United Fruit Company is coming to birth; but novelist Mark Twain, the old spoilsport, proposes changing the national flag: the white stripes should be black, he says, and the stars should be skulls and crossbones."


Out of town until Sunday, 20th.


Henry Grimes Quintet, Iridium, 7/8/03
Roy Campbell, Jr.(tp), Rob Brown(as), Andrew Bemkey(p), Michael Thompson(d)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Henry Grimes’ return to music after having been missing in action for thirty years. Grimes had been a important jazz musician in the fifties and sixties, having played with Sonny Rollins, Lennie Tristano, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Roswell Rudd, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner, and many more. He was recently discovered living in a SRO hotel in LA, having bailed completely on music since the late sixties. Word got out that he had been found and people started mobilizing to help him. William Parker donated a bass to him named Olive Oil. I assume this was the bass he was playing last night.

I’ve been listening to him for years on CD, including some of my favorite recordings -- such as Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures and Grimes’ own ESP recording The Call, with the amazing clarinet player Perry Robinson.

KCR did a Grimes radio tribute a few months ago, playing four days of the bassist’s music. I turned on the radio before I knew about the tribute, heard some tuneful, vibrant, and rather wild clarinet playing that I couldn’t place and, of course, strong bass playing. It turned out to be Grimes playing with Tony Scott.

Iriduim is a slightly odd place to hear this kind of improvised music, since it’s expensive and a little touristy, though I suppose it’s good that they’re supporting it were they can. I only wish the sound mix had been handled better. For some reason, Grimes’ bass doesn’t have a pick-up, so he was amplified with a mic. He was also buried in the mix for much of the set. You could only hear him properly when the band was at it’s quietest. It would have been easy to dispense with the horn mics and bring the band volume to his level. It’s frustrating that getting the bass sound right wasn’t a priority for the club when a living legend has returned for the first gig under his leadership in over thirty years!

Still, it was possible to tell what was happening, and it was beautiful. His playing had a strongly implied swing, but one that seemed to go in multiple directions at once. It was extremely supple, with constant variations of tone and rhythm. He was also able to imply multiple melodies without droning or limiting the melodic trajectory of his playing. It sounded inquisitive, curious. He was simultaneously supporting, adding new information and invigorating the overall sound field, and not one of these multiple dynamics was dropped for very long. It’s as though he was utilizing a system of musical multitasking, the sound of simultaneous human modes -- social, mental, emotional, physical….

His presence on the stage was modest and fragile, in fact he seemed to be a bit stressed, but this didn’t show at all in the playing.

The band was strong, as you would expect from this mostly veteran combination, though maybe slightly distracted or just not quite warm yet. The drummer Michael Thompson was the only player I hadn’t heard before, and his playing was impressively responsive, strong and gentle, like Grimes' own.


Interesting article about Michael Gira by Alan Licht in Wire 233. I didn’t realized Gira had any connection to Glenn Branca. Maybe I should just assume that connection exists with anyone downtown with any proximity to a guitar from 1977-1987.

I guess you could make the argument that the Swans were part of a American tradition of emphasizing sound, timbre, physicality of presence over form etc. that includes Cage, Feldman, Oliveros.

Ironically, Gira, Throbbing Gristle and Laurie Anderson could be seen as being in the same historical groove, crossing performace art with rock.

I recall liking the Swans as a teenager because of the extremity and slowness. I only heard the records, though. Now I wonder what the live shows were like.


Guilty pleasure: The Bad Plus, These Are The Vistas, Columbia, 2003.


Deleted a post responding to Nada's deleted post.


Karen Horney doesn’t use narcissism as a category in itself. It's a nook in the vast terrain of self-alienation which she explores with startlingly crystalline insight.

She sees narcissism as a element which immobilizes and hampers self-awareness.

In her book Self-Analysis, she uses the word narcissism interestingly in a discussion of Freud’s attitude towards the nature of the desire for self-improvement. Freud dismisses this desire as a "narcissistic" tendency towards self-inflation and excelling others:

"What Freud refused to recognized is the fact that this 'narcissistic' element is a contributing factor only. If the need for self-aggrandizement has been analyzed and abandoned, the wish to develop still remains, yes it emerges more clearly and powerfully than before. The "narcissistic" elements, while they have kindled the wish to grow, have at the same time hampered its realization. To use the words of a patient: "The 'narcissistic' impulse is towards the development of a phony self." The fostering of this phony self is always at the expense of the real self, the latter being treated with disdain, at best like a poor relation."

(When not quoting she doesn't use the term "real self", but tends towards pointing out the difference between possible and impossible self, and static vs. dynamic self etc.)

So narcissism is seen as a paralyzing feedback loop in the circuit of the character structure. It’s a drag because it prevents new information from entering the system.

It’s not hard to think of examples of writers who essentially use poetry to create a fantasy image of themselves which they are trying to get the reader to validate, even if this is done indirectly. I see this across traditions and styles. Work of this kind is tiring to read. You feel used. To what extent is poetry used as a place where one is allowed to more safely harbor and nurture one's neuroses?