Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TC: Bach's Booty


File:Johann Sebastian Bach.jpg

Johann Sebastian Bach at age 61: Elias Gottlob Haussmann, 1748, copy or second version of painting made in 1746 (collection of William H. Scheide)

Three barrels of beer was Bach's pay. Still now
A dim shadow falls across the bright festal tone
As we follow the figured bass part down

Memory lane, where the art form's short term losses,
Simulating his disputes with authority,
Preclude the purple laurels victory brings.

Don't blow your wig, scholar. Let the beer fiddlers play
"The Warrior Minstrel of the Forlorn Hope."
Life remains long, but now and then as the silver

Chords gather and are sprinkled above the planet
Like sparks pinned to a blue velvet canopy
We get these inklings, self regard drifts away

From boreal night's cold lucid frame
Into postromantic darkness, and real stars come out.

Old man with stick leaning on a barrel: photo by Buschgens, 1943 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

TC: The Nelsons in San Roque


San Roque hub: photo by John Wiley, 28 May 2010

Those bungalows of San Roque
so perfect yet oddly sad
(“a little wood & stucco
to keep the sun out”)
always remind me of
where the Nelson family lived
way back in the days of Hi Oz
Hi Pop Hi Rick Hi David.

Everybody in that family was Okay
every day for a whole decade.
And when Ricky turned out to be
a low rider, it was still okay.
And that’s the way it is today
among the petticoat palms
of Calle Noguera
and Puesta del Sol.

You can’t rain on the parade
of the petit bourgeois
because it doesn’t have one
except at Fiesta
when rain’s against the law.

Ricky, Harriet, David and Ozzie Nelson: photographer unknown, n.d.
via lost in transmission

Dave, Rick and Harriet

David, Ricky and Harriet Nelson: photographer unknown, n.d.

Lauro Canyon Reservoir and upper San Roque
: photo by John Wiley, 18 April 2011

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TC: Hollywood Dreaming (Gavin Lambert / Russell Lee)


Young woman standing on sidewalk with suitcase, Hollywood, California
: photo by Russell Lee, April 1942

Driving home, I wondered if there was anything that anyone could do about her. Could the magazines come true, and Emma Slack (with a new name) be made a star? In a way, I didn't care. With her appalling, cruel, perfect egocentricity, it was difficult to conceive of Emma helpless, Emma lost: the little figure behind the palm trees, wandering down Hollywood Boulevard, turned away from the studio gate, listening breathlessly to a retired star's useless reminiscences -- this had to be a game, a chosen role. Nobody could be as naïvely heartbreaking as that. In a few weeks' time she might have to give up the part, with her savings gone she'd take a job as a waitress or store attendant, or go back to the aunts. And it would be all over . . . In another way, I cared a little. There was a kind of fanaticism about Emma, and perhaps this made her really helpless. In a city full of dreamers, she clung with such fierceness to an obviously fragile dream. When I thought of that, she struck me as about the most impermanent person I could imagine in the world.

Sign and ticket window of a large dance palace, Hollywood, California: photo by Russell Lee, April 1942

Russell Lee photos from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress

Gavin Lambert: Dreaming Emma, from The Slide Area, 1959

“It is only a few miles’ drive to the ocean, but before reaching it I shall be nowhere. Hard to describe the impression of unreality, because it is intangible; almost supernatural; something in the air. (The air . . . Last night on the weather telecast the commentator, mentioning electrical storms near Palm Springs and heavy smog in Los Angeles, described the behavior of the air as ‘neurotic’. Of course. Like everything else the air must be imported and displaced, like the water driven along huge aqueducts from distant reservoirs, like the palm trees tilting above the mortuary signs and laundromats along Sunset Boulevard.) Nothing belongs.”