Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eyes Wide Shut

Joni Mitchell circa 1976, Northrup Auditorium, Minneapolis. Photo by John V. Peterson

Somewhere between the late sixties and early seventies, music, for the boomer generation, became a closed-eyes experience. The availability of quality headphones (and quality cannabis sativa) made these listening sessions an experience quite different from a tinny transistor radio or dad’s Mantovani on the Magnavox console. Hours were spent in rapt devotion to the music of the day, it was a way to escape from the banal existence we endured.

Today I picked up a vintage audio gizmo from the thrift store today so I thought I would try it out in an "eyes wide shut" 70's music listening session.

Sooner or later this kind of thing always seems to wind up with a big dose of Joni Mitchell. Tonight it was a mix CD of some Joni originals, some covers, resulting in lots of personal oblivion on my part, only this time no psychedelics were required. The last song was Joni singing Circle Game, but the song preceding it, a song she sang about her daughter who was given up for adoption, touched me more tonight:

Born with the moon in Cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer

He went to California
Hearing that everything's warmer there
So you write him a letter and say, "Her eyes are blue."
He sends you a poem and she's lost to you
Little green, he's a non-conformer

Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You're sad and you're sorry, but you're not ashamed
Little green, have a happy ending

Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There will be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the Northern lights perform
There will be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there will be sorrow

Little Green, words and music by Joni Mitchell

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Street Corner Philosopher Redux

Image by profkaren, Carbondale, Illinois, 1978, used with permission.

Mike Belchak was a regular presence in Minneapolis in the early 70s, a raggedly dressed fellow who walked about downtown and the University of Minnesota pulling a wagon covered with posters exhorting the virtues of living the simple life and being in harmony with nature and one’s fellow man. He handed out crudely printed little pamphlets by “Ernest Free Mann” with similar messages. Mike would be in the local paper from time to time when the police would pick him up, usually at the urging of local businesses who resented having an anarchist in front of their stores. The police didn’t really care about Mike and let him go right away; despite his appearance they knew he was truly a gentle soul. He would make an annual appearance at the May Day celebrations, once wearing a multi-colored gown fashioned from thousands of gum wrappers he had scavenged and linked together like medieval chain mail. He slept in the back of a laundromat, or so I heard, as sort of a caretaker/watchman. Eventually the business closed, and Mike went back to Illinois, where his mother lived.

Some years years later there was a short article in the paper about his death: he had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle. Other than this photo, I couldn’t find any trace of him on the internet, nor was he in any of my photo archives. True to his principles to the end, he lived the simple life, left no trace, and returned to the earth.

First published in FITK November 8, 2007. Republished with additional material and photo.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Hiatus #1

Well, it's becoming more and more obvious that I can't stay away from posting, so I'm back, sort of, with more indiscrimminate bloggery.

One thing which was on my summer agenda was a trip to the newest temple to the "twin" gods of athletics and commerce, Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. It was more of a trial than a recreation. For $300+ million I would think you'd be able to see the whole field from all of the seats. The gigantic TV scoreboard was filled with lots and lots of video (although if you were in the outfield you couldn't see it) and non-stop yammering over the PA, except when interrupted by jingoistic anthems. And no organist to surprise you with a clever performance of a novelty tune, just some lame audio samples.

It actually made me nostalgic for the old Metrodome, especially on a week-night in the early 80's, when the team wasn't very good and the place would be nearly empty. The ballplayers seemed more focused; the game was the thing then, not just a premise for marketing.

Still, baseball was played, the home team lost, but I really think we all were the losers.

I did dig the catcher for the visiting team, however.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 7 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dangling Conversation

A call to an old-blog pal, back from Iceland (via Pareé- must be rough!) brought back that feeling, the same feeling I have when I wake up in the morning after having spent a night in Dream-Iceland. Her conversation covered her travels, only a few days, but in many of the places I have been, and continue to dream of.

At times it seemed as if we were both in the same dream, so strong were my associations with her descriptions.

Not this year, maybe next...

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 12, 2010

American Splendor

Just taking this little break from my hiatus to acknowledge to passing of Harvey Pekar, the troubled and erratic creator of the American Splendor reality-comic and the subject of the great bio-pic of 2003 which starred Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis.

Harvey could be considered the proto-blogger; in 1976 he started chronicling his mundane existence in comic book form, using a variety of comic book artists to illustrate his stories of despair and futility. I feel I owe him a little- an ordinary person, with an ordinary life, creating a journal for the world to see, and find in it something of value. Here's to you Harvey- everyone has a story, and you went to the trouble of telling us yours in a compelling and unique way.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 6 

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