Monday, January 13, 2014

TC: My Black Sabbath Party


Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath, Vol. 4, 1972 (American release), album sleeve: photo by Christian Montone, 15 July 2010

Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 (Vertigo)

As the Sabs poured into "Wheels of Confusion" like giant gobs of wet cement gushing from the heavens in the never-ending sameness of a taffy-pull performed by mutants, people began pouring into my house. One by one they instantly began digging the Sabs, nodding, heavy dudes one and all. Everyone picked up that old Sab neck-wobble trip where your head sort of rocks back and forth on your neck python-fash, right? Where the organ comes in over the big slow power chords; no it's not an organ, call it a component, yah, straight out of the Middle fucking Ages! Sorta walks right on out. Like some giant prehistoric plant learning how to walk ... right over your house ... so boogie while you can. But you can't lose that dyno chthonic zoomout riff 'cos it's right there in the middle of the next song, "Tomorrow's Dream," which got us so zonked we felt absolutely heavy. The cat did too. Then on into a foxy sorta Carole King piano folk song or something, whew, "Changes," kind of David Bowie we guessed, hey orchestra right? What? Went its evil way? Ooh. The room got kind of deep and spacey, brown all over, and the notes then sounded sorta white coming out of that ... y'know? Like a snowfall? It went on forever. We could dig it. Like we dig chewing gum made out of caulking compound. Right? So then can you conceive of a piercing tone followed by reverberating percussion noises called "FX," huh, that was the next tune, then we got tight with some heavy familiar Sab vibes again, swimming right up there to deep space where nothing hears or talks, right? "Supernaut." My sister had a vision of electronic buffalo ranches on Uranus, so help me. The drum solo in this song did it to her. Also, my watch stopped. But the Sabs didn't. Who needs a watch? I ripped it off my wrist & stomped on it. Slowly. Crunch. Side one groaned to a close, but soon side two followed it, without delay adhering to the walls of one's septum — the total "icicles in my brain" riff — right — "Snowblind," no less — climbing those big staircases made out of vanilla fudge, right up into your mind — so feed your nose, hey? God's a Fuzz Tone, right? The Abominable Snowman? Hey. La Fucking Brea! The tar pits was a heavy scene, right? Ask Freud or Dave Crosby. What a streaming feast of nerve gobble anyhow! But on with the snow, I mean show. Time for a Pez break. Whew. Monster slowness of the unelusive strikes again: "Cornucopia." I about fell out. Ten-ton dogs snarled in the mouth of the volcano. Storms of liquid metal blasted their way into the soap factory. Soaring zoos, etc. Then on to babies' time; breakfast on a sleigh in Hawaii with violins, titled "Laguna Sunrise." All sweet lime stripes across a popsicle spiced with Quaaludes, right. A million artichokes can't be wrong. Dreaming in the sun with their eyes open? Sweet music must end. Grunting, we tumble on into the new dance craze, you guessed it, "St. Vitus Dance." You drive me nervous. Pieces of hair got into my mouth during this one. Same old power saw on Venus move, lovely. "Under the Sun" starts out slow, like dinosaurs yawning, then it speeds up a little. Or does it? I can't tell. Fantastic four-second guitar solo by a gorilla in there somewhere, right — beautiful — gorilla! The Sabs pour it on, man, it's right near the end of the record now and here's a great three-second drum solo by a polar bear, no shit! Put mud in my ears if I lie! I can dig it! Great buncha chords there too, I couldna chose better myself, whew, we're thudding down toward the ultimate rip chord now. Gotcha. Over and out. Molten rocks hurtling across space imitating the origin of the universe, you dig? Ah, lay those chord slabs on my grave ... whew. The Sabs are genius.

Tom Clark: My Black Sabbath Party, a review of Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 (Vertigo, 1972), Rolling Stone, 7 December 1972

Black Sabbath: Tomorrow's Dream/Laguna Sunrise, 1972 (German single release, Vertigo), record sleeve: photo by Klaus Hiltscher (Affendaddy), 8 October 2012

I wish I could tell you that every word of the above is (or was) true. Then again, I also wish that I could tell you that every word isn't (or wasn't).

My career as a record reviewer was, as they say, short-lived, and really not all that much fun while it lasted, despite the surprising daily arrival of abundant vinyl freebies in the broken mail box on a dirt road in the then-middle of Nowhere.

Of course the freebies stopped once the reviews began to appear. Industries are like that. Don't ever expect an honest review of anything from anybody who's in the industry. Doesn't matter which industry we're talking about here, in my experience they're all the same in this respect. That's entertainment, like they used to say. Not that it's all that complicated, duh. Everybody on the free stuff list is always in the industry, whichever industry it is. Until they aren't. I wish I could count all the lists from which I've been stricken. But then, I've been stricken with worse, in this slow, inexorable, quicksand-vertiginous swirling-down-the-blocked drain of the completely meaningless Vertigo reissue years.

This particular record, by the by, was probably the worst I was ever given to review.

The review adopted the point of view of a fictive persona assembled from several suspects of the period.

But don't just take my word on this as the last, though indeed it may well have been the first, given that time is now known to have traveled more slowly in that stage of the deglaciation. 

Ragnarok at Blackrock: Led Zeppelin VS Black Sabbath... who wins you decide [Blackrock, Brighton, UK]: photo by Wang Dang Doodad, 10 July 2011

The largest collection of cassettes I have seen in 30 years is upstairs at That '70s House in Penrose, Illinois. Black Sabbath, the Beastie Boys, the Ramones and Bauhaus are standard fare here, but there is some variety with the Beatles and INXS also represented.  A large selection of LPs are "stored" downstairs...: photo by Bill (BillsExplorations), 13 December 2012

Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 (Vertigo, 1972): photo by Greg(ory), 3 December 2012

Saturday, December 21, 2013

TC: Solstice ("Cold floating days...")


House sparrow (Passer domesticus) with winter plumage: photo by 3268zauber, 3 January 2009

Cold floating days, difficult to keep body

Temp. up as planet cools off mysteriously

This P.M. two small grey birds bump

Around in the rose bush for a while

A capella (no rush hour for once)

In last rays of tinny Christmas sun

While voluntary trumpets are quietly

Emitted by radio into Jerusalem foiled sky

Far off and to our great astonishment

O blue earth sounds your golden flower

From the bell of its silver horn

I didn’t think it would ever come back on

House sparrow (Passer domesticus) in non-breeding plumage: photo by 3268zauber, 3 January 2009

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

TC: Last Bus


Golden Gate: Gerhard Richter, 1989, oil on photograph, 10 x 15 cm (Gerhard Richter Art)

The last bus one hour and twelve minutes late
at the bleak nearly deserted downtown stop
and when I enquire of the only person waiting
at the kiosk
whether the bus may have already gone past
He says Fuck off don't you try to talk to me
and turns his back
and high above him atop the new tower block
the giant neon lights advertising
the hotel that wasn't there the last time I looked
flash on and off
advertising the five luxury dining rooms.

Tom Clark: Last Bus, from Truth Game (BlazeVOX, 2013)

Untitled (1.5.89): Gerhard Richter, 1989, oil on colour photograph, 15 x 10 cm (Gerhard Richter Art)

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Beach at Land's End: photo by DaNASCAT, 4 July 2010

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Golden Gate Bridge: cracks and spalling to the paintwork due to relative movements of the steel cable: Golden Gate Bridge architecture: photo by Tewy, 19 July 2006


Suicide prevention message, Golden Gate Bridge: photo by David Corby, 19 February 2006

Friday, October 18, 2013

TC: Robert Creeley: Generous Life


Ella: Gerhard Richter, 2007 (private collection)

Do you remember the way we used to sing
in church when we were young
and it was fun to bring your toys with you
and play with them while all the others sung?

My mind goes on its own particular way
and leaves my apparent body on its knees
to get up and walk as far as it can
if it still wants to and as it proves still able.

Sit down, says generous life, and stay awhile!
although it's irony that sets the table
and puts the meager food on broken dishes,
pours out the rancid wine, and walks away.

Betty: Gerhard Richter, 1991 (St. Louis Art Museum)

Robert Creeley: Generous Life from Yesterdays (2002)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

TC: Giuseppe Ungaretti: What would I want with images?


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Waves on sandy beach, Cabo Polonio, Uruguay: photo by Johntex, 2006

..These wandering landscapes of the ocean's

Shifting surface, the incisive

Candour of daybreak on these

Or those leaves: these things no longer

Draw me; nor can my old eyes make

Out light from shade against the stones.

..Forgot, what would I want

With images?


Leaves of European Birch (Fagus): photo by The cat, 2006

..Non più m'attragano i paesaggi erranti
Del mare, né dell'alba il lacerante
Pallore sopra queste o quelle foglie;
Nemmeno più contrasto col macigno,
Antica notte che sugli occhi porto.

..Le immagini a che prò
Per me dimenticata?

File:Foggy sunset at Land's End.jpg

Foggy sunset with Brown Pelicans: photo by Mila Zinkova, 2009

Giuseppe Ungaretti: Poem IX (Non più m'attragano i paesaggi erranti) from Cori descrittivi di stati d'animo di Didone (Choruses Descriptive of the State of Mind of Dido), in La terra promessa (The Promised Land), 1950; English translation by TC

Sunday, September 1, 2013

TC: At Matanaka Farm


File:Matanaka - Granary, Privy & Schoolhouse.jpg

This granary, privy and schoolhouse at Matanaka [on the South Island] are New Zealand's oldest surviving farm buildings. The three largest buildings were prefabricated in Sydney, and the granary and stable still have their original "Patented Galvanised Tinned Iron" roofs. The stable has a harness room, stalls for the horses and a gig room. Fodder was stored in the loft and there was a dovecote in the loft at the north end. The storeroom was probably the place where bulk supplies were kept, since there are orders scribbled on the original interior lining. The granary stands, like the stable, on its original site. The privy, which was placed over a large pit, was once nearer the homestead. The school was originally a barn, here in the farmyard, but was shifted nearer to the house in the 19th century for use as a schoolroom. It was shifted back to the farmyard about the beginning of the 20th century. It is divided into a schoolroom and a room for the teacher: photo by Karora, 23 April 2008

This is not a memoir, so that
as we rolled over the small rise
and saw, set on
that bare hill, the plain

wooden farm buildings
painted a uniform
deep red, with faded
and lightly rusted corrugated

iron roofs, and tawny
grasses swaying all about
against the two
tone blue of sea and sky,

we knew
no one would remember
we had once
seen these things.


Matanaka farm building, Otago, New Zealand: photo by travelling light (Derek Smith and Maclean Barker), 30 August 2004


TC: At Matanaka Farm, from Truth Game

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

TC: Now (from Truth Game)


Untitled (window), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

The imaginal representation of the mind,
the only world left to you. Continuing on. That poor
second best for which one would give everything
simply to have something to go on. The twisted
oaks. The stone steps descending
through the grove to where the light of morning
no longer bathes the contorted upper limbs
alone, but pierces them, at intervals, in the interstices,
with slender shafts that penetrate
the lower limbs and chequered
patterns of light and shade there made, all the way
to the bottom of the steep path.

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled, Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Untitled (garden), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

Tom Clark: Now, from Truth Game, BlazeVOX 2013