Friday, January 19, 2018

Dan Godston multimediates


  1. Down a Green Plain

    Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run
    with cobblestones falling down the riverbank
    when the willow's roots exposed from the dirt
    Uriah lifts a vase full of river water

    with cobblestones falling down the riverbank
    tumbling through the lightshow vortex
    Uriah lifts the vase full of river water
    as Janis Joplin ascends the stage

    tumbling through the lightshow vortex
    Patti Smith's Blake death mask print sits
    as Janis Joplin ascends the stage
    so does Timothy Leary's psychotropic sermon

    When Patti Smith's Blake death mask print sits
    upon the Peace Eye Bookstore cash registers click
    so does Timothy Leary's psychotropic sermon
    tell Tuli Kupferberg a verse after his Brooklyn Bridge plunge

    upon the Peace Eye Bookstore cash register Chuck Berry album
    so Ed sanders swims to the nuclear submarine
    tell Tuli Kupferberg a verse after his Brooklyn Bridge plunge
    when Diane Arbus' camera aperture blinks

    So Ed Sanders swims to the nuclear submarine
    then down a green plain, leaping, laughing
    the Harpy face behind the rose
    when the willow's roots exposed from dirt

  2. Uriah was one of the "mighty men" whom king David of Israel relied upon. David impregnated his wife and then arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. Uriah Heep, however, was a British rock band formed in 1969, named after a villainous character in Charles Dickens' 1850 novel "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)." One of the band's songs "The River" by Mick Box/Ken Hensley/ Trevor Bolder / Lee Kerslake / John Lawton:

    River, rising to hide
    Across the midnight
    Wanderin' westward by daylight
    Take us and lead us to tomorrow
    As fast as you come and can flow

    River, you're windin'
    An unending rhythm
    The sooner keep
    Movin' to warn him
    The spirit that keeps
    Us from sinking
    Guide us from going astray

    Point us a way
    To a shoreline ahead
    Through the mist and the fog
    Of this valley of death
    Too many years we have
    Walked in a sleep
    Now we're awaken and ready to flee

  3. Janis Joplin was a legendary blues singer of the 1960s who died of a heroine overdose in 1970. Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote "Bird Song" as a tribute to her:

    All I know is something like a bird within her sang
    All I know, she sang a little while and then flew on
    Tell me all that you know, I'll show you snow and rain

    And you hear that same sweet song again, will you know why?
    Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passing by
    Laugh in the sunshine, sing, cry in the dark, fly through the night

    Don't cry now, don't you cry
    Don't you cry anymore
    Sleep in the stars, don't you cry
    Dry your eyes on the wind

  4. Patti Smith, the "punk poet laureate," fused rock music and poetry in her work, as in "my blakean year."

    In my Blakean year
    I was so disposed
    Toward a mission yet unclear
    Advancing pole by pole
    Fortune breathed into my ear
    Mouthed a simple ode
    One road is paved in gold
    One road is just a road

    In my Blakean year
    Such a woeful schism
    The pain of our existence
    Was not as I envisioned
    Boots that trudged from track to track
    Worn down to the sole
    One road is paved in gold
    One road is just a road

    Boots that tread from track to track
    Worn down to the sole
    One road is paved in gold
    One road is just a road

    In my Blakean year
    Temptation but a hiss
    Just a shallow spear
    Robed in cowardice

    Brace yourself for bitter flack
    For a life sublime
    A labyrinth of riches
    Never shall unwind
    The threads that bind the pilgrim's sack
    Are stitched into the Blakean back
    So throw off your stupid cloak
    Embrace all that you fear
    For joy will conquer all despair
    In my Blakean year

    Before William Blake died in 1827 he suffered from "that sickness to which there is no name." In 1819 he began a series of deathmask-like sketches called "visionary" heads" based on historical figures who modeled for him.

  5. Timothy Leary was a Harvard University psychologist who championed the use of psychedelic drugs. At the massive 1967 Human Be-In gathering in San Francisco he exhorted the 30,000 attendees to "turn on, tune in, drop out" (a slogan actually coined by language philosopher Marshall McLuhan); in promotional literature for his League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion with LSD as its holy sacrament, he explicated the phrase: "Drop Out – detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn On – find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Go out of your mind. Get high. Tune In – be reborn. Drop back in to express it. Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision." On the day in 1969 that the Supreme Court overturned his 1965 conviction for possession of marijuana he announced his candidacy for governor of California, for which John Lennon composed "Come Together" as a campaign song, which was recorded by the Beatles on "Abbey Road," their final album:

    Here come old flat-top, he come grooving up slowly
    He got ju-ju eyeballs, he's one holy roller
    He got hair down to his knees
    Got to be a joker, he just do what he please

    Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me, shoot me

    He wear no shoeshine, he's got toe-jam football
    He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
    He say, "I know you, you know me"
    One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

    Come together, right now
    Over me

    He bag production, he got walrus gumboot
    He's got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker
    He got feet down below his knee
    Hold you in his armchair, you can feel his disease

    Come together, right now
    Over me

    He roller-coaster, he got early warning
    He got muddy water, he one mojo filter
    He say, "One and one and one is three"
    Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to see

    Come together, right now
    Over me

    However, in 1970 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 1968 arrest. Based on psychological tests he was given (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory" he had devised a decade earlier) he was assigned to work as a gardener in a low-security prison, from which he escaped with help from the Weather Underground Organization, a leftist terrorist group which took its name from a line in Bob Dylan's song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows). He was recaptured and sentenced to 95 years but was released in 1976.


  6. Poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg founded the Fugs in 1964, named after Norman Mailer's euphemism for "fuck" in his 1948 novel "The Naked and the Dead." An FBI memo called the band the "most vulgar thing the human mind could possibly conceive." In 1944 Kupferberg he was seriously injured after he tried to commit suicide by leaping off the Manhattan Bridge, an act which was memorialized in Allen Ginsberg's 1955 poem "Howl": he was the one "who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer." Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman also wrote about the incident in their prose poem "Memorial Day 1971": "I thought that I had lost the ability to love.... So, I figured I might as well be dead. So, I went one night to the top of The Manhattan Bridge, & after a few minutes, I jumped off.... I landed in the water, & I wasn't dead. So I swam ashore, & went home, & took a bath, & went to bed. Nobody even noticed." Sanders opened the Peace Eye Bookstore in New York in 1962; he was arrested on obscenity charges in 1966, leading to his being featured on the cover of "LIFE" magazine as "a leader of New York's Other Culture."

    Diane Arbus was noted for her photographs of dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers, and others whose normality was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal. In 1971 she took an overdose of barbituates, wrote the words "Last Supper" in her diary, put her appointment book on the stairs leading up to her bathroom and slahed her wrists with a razor in her bathtub. The next year she became the 1st American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale, and the accompanying exhibition book, "Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph," is the best-selling photography monograph in history. Her brother Howard Nemerov was the nation's poet laureate in 1963 and 1988, and her sister Renee Nemerov Sparkia Brown was a noted sculptor/painter/designer.

    Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. After serving 3 years as a teenager in a reformatory for armed robbery and carjacking he began performing in 1953 In 1955 his song "Maybelline" sold over a million records but was sent to prison in 1962 for taking a 14-year-old girl across state lines for illicit purposes. In 1979 he was jailed for tax evasion amd in 1990 he paid $1.2 million to 59 women who claimed he had installed a video camera in the bathroom of his restaurant. Although he continued to perform he stopped recording original material in 1979 until 2016 -- "Chuck" was released after his death in 2017.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?