So Dig This Big Crux

Month: October, 2015

Rhapsody

rhapsody

Once when I was young, I saw a science fiction movie.

The soundtrack was by Rachmaninoff. How did I know it was Rachmaninoff? In the titles, at the end, I saw the name Rachmaninoff. Of course, I didn’t know who Rachmaninov was at the time, but it was the only thing I remembered about the movie. Later, when I was older, I began to listen to Rachmaninoff, but not because I particularly remembered the science fiction movie. It must have been something else.

But then I came across a recording of Rachmaninoff performing his own music. It was a strange feeling, listening to the composer play his own composition, from a distant time. I believe it was recorded in the 1920s. The quality of the recording was poor, the sound was dense with scratches and fog, but there was something essential about it. Something else.

The day of my death, I requested a phonograph and the Rachmaninoff record. I believe it was a piano concerto. The science fiction movie I saw when I was young came back to me, complete. It felt like I was seeing the movie for the first time, but in my final moments, I knew the music by heart. I experienced the film as something new, but heard the music as something else.

 

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Stingray Ray

bar

I think he was a Navy guy, lived in Key West, stationed in Cuba part of the year. This was ’71, ’72. He’d go back and forth, making house calls between Cuba and the Keys, selling joints and bags of grass to the base rats. Totally anonymous, really easy, he said. Shit, his commander was hittin’ him up for joints all the time. He gave ‘em away free just to keep it cool. None the wiser, right kid?

Once, he came back to that shack on Duvall Street, right in the middle of downtown, with a shit-ton of grass, the biggest score he’d ever had. This shit don’t come round that often, he said. Maybe this is it, time to cash out, sell the whole load up in Miami to some Canadian with a yacht. Hit the bars by the inlets off the beach and see what’s what. So he got out of town, headed north, up to South Florida. Those days, ridin’ the highways with two suitcases full of shit was cake. Before the cocaine cowboys took hold of the waterways and the public imagination and before the cops started stakin’ out highway rest stops and fuckin’ 7-Eleven parking lots. Shit, those ten fuckin’ lanes outta Miami didn’t exist. If you had an officer’s uniform, you were invisible, unless you stirred some shit at the joints on the strip, and you’d just get shown the door, thrown out on yer ass. Hell, county cops didn’t give a shit, they were there gettin’ loaded too. Get your lean on, gentlemen.

So my man hooked up with a buddy of his from Hollywood, Bruce I think. He did handyman shit, mainly on boats down along the shore in Lauderdale. Rich northern fucks who knew dick about boats. Bruce copped his share of shit every now and then, nothing big, just enough for party money. So my Navy boy cashes, sells the whole joint to Bruce. Cool, clean, concise. Just walked away from that two-bit weed business. One last killer bail sold for hard bills, you know what I’m sayin’? So get this. He takes that cash and walks right into a Corvette dealer on 441 off Atlantic. He tells the salesman he wants the cherry red one, the one parked right outside the goddamn showroom.

Well, that’s the owner’s, keeps it right here to bring guys in off the street. Looks like it worked.

Yeah, well, that’s the one I want. How much to drive it off the lot?

No can do, Army man. Nope.

Navy.

What?

I ain’t Army. Want the red one. I got cash, all of it.

I seen that shit show before buddy, maybe you should take a walk.

Listen, you get the captain, tell ‘em there’s a Navy man here with a shitload of cash, you got that?

Shit.

Cul-de-sac

kizz

Scott was the ultimate cool burner. He never wore shirts. He kept his ‘75 Camaro clean and tight and parked it high up in the driveway at the appropriately perfect angle. Damn, that fucking car ruled. Scott liked to blow bones out on his back porch while listening to Kiss Alive II on endless repeat. Sonofabitch had a portable 8-track. Scott turned Will on to Kiss, which became an obsession for Will all through junior high. Will joined the Kiss Army, drew the Kiss logo everywhere, even drawing the band members conquering historical inevitabilities; Gene Simmons on the battlefields of WWII stomping Panzers with his dragon boots, Ace Frehley slaying battalions with electric rainbow lightning bolts streaming from his guitar’s headstock.

Scott’s room was a den of late 70s cool; the red velvet Rush starman poster, the green and blue cracked lava lamp, the stacks of only the coolest new long players. Ashtrays filled with roaches, a thick brown rug covering the walls. Will wanted to be like Scott. Shit, everybody wanted to be like Scott.

Scott told Will about girls, women he called them. How he loved women, and their smooth bodies. That was his obsession, he told Will. That, and grass. Scott’s girlfriend Tracey spent a lot of her time lying on Scott’s bed. She didn’t say much. She might have been a junior, if that. Pretty, Will thought. She reminded him of somebody on TV, but he couldn’t remember who. Will wondered what she looked like naked. Do you love her? Will asked. Shit little man, you don’t love girls, they love youScott laughed, and then Will did too, but only because he thought he was supposed to. He wasn’t really sure why.

High school, so far away it was impossible to imagine. The only girls Will knew were the ones from across the cul-de-sac who used to pull their pants down in the fenced alleyway between apartment buildings. They liked to show the boys what was down there, but they never asked to see what anybody else had down there. Will wondered about that, too.

Van Gogh, Without Canvas

vinvent

He awoke from a dream, a dream he later considered a bad dream. This dream concerned a photograph, a photograph of an artist, which no photographs were known to exist. At first he thought the photograph was of Vincent Van Gogh, but he thought again and realized, no, there were photographs of Van Gogh, known photographs. But then again, maybe it was Vincent Van Gogh after all, because this photograph was of a man in a field, a man in a field of sunflowers, and wasn’t it in a field of sunflowers that Vincent Van Gogh found himself, painting, on occasion? But there was something odd about this man, or something odd about the photograph of this man. The photograph of this man, who was painting in a field, but there was no canvas. This is to say the painting was occurring in the air. The act of painting, without the physical reality of paint being applied to canvas. And in that moment and on this day, in this photograph, it was clear this was an image of Vincent Van Gogh.