July 4th is as good a day as any (better, in fact) to reiterate a salient point that I've mentioned elsewhere but you may not realize: the lightning bolts in the L!F!P! logo image designed by Justin Miller are coming out of the Liberty Bell, not into it. This means, in effect, that the symbol of American freedom is not being destroyed by outside forces, be they the punk this project focuses on or anything else. Rather, great bolts of luminous power are bursting forth from the Liberty Bell here in Philadelphia and out into the world. Putting aside any criticisms of this country by some of the interview subjects and sometimes me, I love and embrace the United States. For me, this project is a celebration of uniquely American voices and these voices, like the country that nurtured them, is a thing of beauty.
Two songs and a film clip in honor of Chloe the cat, beloved of Kathie, Jason, Leaf Worm, and me.
"How can the light that burns so brightly suddenly burn so pale?"
Today I mourn the death of my #1 cat, Chloe (seen here a few years ago). Chloe was actually the second cat that my friend Kathie and I adopted, but the first I truly loved. Kathie found her among some homes being refurbished by Habitat For Humanity in West Philly in over 17 years ago. Chloe lived with me from a tiny studio apartment in Rittenhouse Square, to a house in East Falls, and finally in my current home in Roxborough. Some years ago she moved to Oregon with Kathie and her boyfriend Jason and came to live in Portland. After a long bout of ill-health and dramatic weight-loss, she was euthanized with Kathie and Jason beside her in their home last night. I was to see Chloe in two weeks when I go to Portland for my annual visit. It'll be sad going there and not seeing her affectionate and intelligent little self, but she spent a long life being adored. Chloe holds permanent residence in my heart.
Today was an excellent day for L!F!P! interviews. It was a great pleasure for me to sit down with two enthusiastic guys, Billy Barton ex-USMC and in the bands Population Zero and The Charlie Few, and Mike McManus of Pagan Babies and The Heels. Interviews like these inspire me to keep talking to people because the end result is inspiring and the process of getting there is so enjoyable for me. These are voices that matter.
The great composer Carl Orff is mostly known today for his thundering "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" from Carmena Burana (1935/6). This piece of music is used in films as shorthand for "epic" (see: Conan and countless other movies). My love of Orff's work began in earnest when I heard it used in the the 1973 Terrence Malick classic film Badlands. Malick used Orff's gentle and playful compositions that you can hear on Schulwerk (Music For Children, 1958) to marvelous effect throughout the movie. Trunk Records (UK), known for years as purveyors of the fine and weird in music, have just issued a deluxe CD -- running a glorious 85 (!)) tracks -- of Orff's work with Keetman and choirs. I've been obsessively collecting Orff LPs and CDs for years, and this is collection of merry and joyous music is one of the coruscating jewels of his ouevre. In the US you can score a copy (while it remains in print) from Forced Exposure.
I've been interested in reading William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) since I saw it prominently appear in the beach ball-popping and whitey-hacking humdinger of an ending to Jacopetti and Prosperi's Farewell Uncle Tom (Addio Zio Tom, 1971). The book both won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and garnered accusations of racism. I picked up a copy of it at the Book Corner (the Friends of the Philadelphia Free Library used book store) yesterday largely because the cover called out to me. I mean, look at that little flying dude to the left of the very stoic head presumably belonging to Nat Turner. It looks as if he's about to be pegged by a comet that's flown through Turner's voluminous afro. I don't know what I'll think of the book when I get the opportunity to actually read it, but this looks to be the edition to own.
For my first blog posting I'm going to resurrect a very short story I wrote for an interview with me (in my standing as a member of Exhumed Films) on the Cinedelphia website on October 26, 2011. I took the standard interview questions and turned each of them into a short story. You can read the entire thing right here on the Cinedelphia site if you'd like. I've changed it in only a couple teeny-tiny ways. I'm re-posting this piece because it says something about how I think, though what that is I'll leave up to you, dear Reader.
Please note that while this site does not allow for comments (I run a business and many other projects, so I don't have time to boot out trolls) and does not feature a forum for discussion (by intention), you are welcome to write to me through the site or through any other place I'm attainable online.
Judith, age 38
After it happened, I knew I had to get away. I paid little mind to what I packed in my rucksack. I only needed to get out there, to get out walking. There was transport to the borderland, so I made haste to reach it. The journey there took longer than I anticipated, but at length I arrived at the edge of the forest and began walking inward, stopping only to remove the worst of the brambles that gathered on my clothing and to brush the spiderwebs from my face. There was no path to guide me, but I felt an almost magnetic pull as I stumbled over mossy stumps, shallow streams, and thick clusters of mushrooms that squelched around the sides of my boots. When night fell, I found myself assailed by the noises of the creatures that moved around me in the woods, above me in the tree canopy, and below in the teeming underbrush. When I’d rest to eat some bread or drink from my dwindling supply of water, I could feel them draw nearer, all eyes reflected in what moonlight could penetrate the reaching trees. Morning found me still on my feet, though just barely. I was moist with dew and I felt leggy life moving through my hair. I had reached the place I felt compelled to see. It was a field, a grassy expanse dotted with trees set far enough apart from each other that the dawn sunshine was allowed full vision. From each tree there hung a massive chrysalis twice the size of a man. It was comprised of countless strands of silver webbing. So thick was the outer coating of the cocoons, I could not make out the shape of the forms within. But then I saw the movement, the pulsing, straining movement. First a tear and then, from within, a burst of luminosity that blanketed the field in a spectrum of gauzy color. They strained forward in tandem, drawing breath into their great lungs and issuing forth a breeze that dried my clothes and suffused my body with warmth. I saw their antennae sense the air then stiffen somewhat as they surely detected my presence. I tensed up, apprehensive at being perceived, but soon relaxed again as I felt, somehow, their indifference. They wasted little time concerned with me. I was but a small form on the edge of the field and they were soon to extend their wings and sail skyward, at first somewhat jerky, but soon in command of their new bodies. When they were gone, the colors faded and the light resumed its assuring but common morning glow. Having crossed the border, I turned around and felt the pull of the place I once called home. Know this if nothing else: In doing what he did to me, he tried to take part of me away. He almost succeeded. All of you here have attempted to do the same thing, though with different instruments. But he couldn’t and you can’t. I’ll tell you why. I saw something you’ll never see, something so wonderful that it showed me that there’s so much more than this. You, all of you, you surround yourselves with such ugliness. But I saw it and the only part of me I’ve ever given up is the part of me that will always be there, among them.