May 09, 2006



Today is the 25th anniversary of Nelson Algren's death. I feel like City on The Make is more this city-soul, with it's do-right whores and Division street devils and ghosts at last call, old world Poles mopping the sidewalk with someone's face, the poor at the fringes--is more, still, this city than hogbutcher to the world. In that Joan Didion interview I posted a link to last week where she talks about how there is a whole novel in one line of Henry James, I think the same of Algren. I am finishing the new John McPhee, the one about frieght lines, and that feeling of getting lost (wonderfully so) in these strings of jargon (he writes in the exclusive dialects of truckers and ship cap'ns)--until it's tangled, hallucinatory--there is that in Algren, too. All that misery under the streetlight halos, real people misfortune, drunk boxers in love with good-luck girls, "Ogden Avenue eyes,"--if you have not read your Algren, start today. Or soon. Neon Wilderness is like a Lifter Puller album, without Special K and late night runs to the ATM. You'll be rapt! Promise!

Walked down Chicago ave this morning, with my ol' pal JR, on our near daily constitutional, me looking like a cross-dressing boy scout, JR looking like king-hell brawler with his shiner, stiches and sleeveless bootleg Motley Crue shirt. The streets are mean, but we look even meaner.

Also of note: Array of Joni Mitchell on You Tube. Bless.

Joni and CSNY do "Helpless" at Wembly, 1974. Neil seems hateful behind his reflective shades, Joni's voice sounds like wind in the reeds, Stills rips a sick solo.

"Hejira" from Joni's Shadow & Light film, which the poster describes, quite comically as "joni mitchell is skating while jaco pastorius is playing": dude, it's a music video. Seven minutes of Joni dressed like a giant blackbird, ice-skating, interpretting "Hejira" while a Canadian Olympian in a mens leotard rolls on the ice. Joni's beret + ice dancing man + Pat Metheny's solo + Pastorious globular, fretless tones---the only way it could get more 1980-sophisticate is if they were skating on a frozen lake of red wine, armed with the severed-boner of Donald Fagen.

Joni and Johnny Cash duet "Long Black Veil" c. 1970 on his variety show. Joni's teeth like a garden gate, Cash is southern chilvalrous and flirts with her using hillbilly humor.

Posted by Jessica at May 9, 2006 04:16 PM | TrackBack