Blesok no. 99, November-December, 2014
PEAKS, IN THE FOG
I never mastered tight rolling, these days I am back to learning, but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by those who did it perfectly. A that time, the greenish substance was almost home produced, and would hit all the right spots, making us feel good atop ruined buildings where we dreamed of the road and traveling. Half the formula is knowing how far to go. Mix it with some suffering and laughter (http://youtu.be/AoKoE7RKx2k ) , add bands like Smog, Arab Strap, Cat Power… and dEUS, who was at the time the best band in the world, but as s a wise man said: As soon as they release 'The Best Of,' you can be sure to write them off.
In the early nineties 'Drag City' was an important institution with a well tuned ear – they pulled together artists such as ‘Pavement’ and ‘Silver Jews’. They also released various incarnations of Will Oldham's Palace. Band 'Smog" started out in the same home environment, one man, one machine, him against the world, fearless and ready to dream.
A man who chooses Stallone's Rocky over Scorsese's Taxi Driver is my kind of man, and our explanations of that choice are pretty similar: the story of an ordinary man fighting his way to the top, and a young actor trying to make a great movie is much more appealing then the story of Jesus.
This is the Callahan we relate to. I talk about him and see us, in a circle, atop a ruin which used to be a beautiful villa. There is a oddly green river below. Magical plant binds us. It is nineteen ninety eight. I see an office and blurry visions of the future of music and literature we are destined to change. I am sitting on a mattress stretched on the floor, there are records all around us, turntable is out of commission, skies are above, we trade visions and free ourselves of women by putting them in poems we will write.
Callahan loves boxing. When asked what he would do if he were not a musician, without much thinking he answered: I think I would be a boxing journalist, traveling different places and writing for a newspaper. His first book is a novel written if form of letters of a boxing fan. 'Letters to Emma Bowlcut' was published in 2010.
Bill got interested in boxing because of a friend who wronged him and needed to be knocked out of his socks and thought a lesson. So he started training. Everything for a perfect knock down. Fortunately, it turned out that his friend's bad deed was just a misunderstanding but love of boxing stayed with him.
I have a punching bag in the garage. Sometimes it takes on the likeness of nice people who somehow got their names in the black book of debts. Or sometimes I simply miss them. At those times I'm unkind to the bag. Red gloves burst at the seams. And I see a friend, in the car, turning the radio (http://youtu.be/2E91fd9rr0I) off, muttering something like: "What is this shit?" even though he can feel in his bones how good it was. On the other hand, he's right, it's time for 'Sing Another Song, Boys' (http://youtu.be/aIM-Se42QU4) , foot on the gas, burning miles and minutes. Time for the wall in front of us. I would not have felt sorry if we had ended it all at that time. It was a perfect moment. I never talk about any of this with hem, why am I telling it to you… there is no way to send certain memories into oblivion. There is no such confession, just like there is no perfect poem to capture those moments.
Eid Ma Clack Shaw:http://youtu.be/rqUqZDarYi4
After a long, long time, you felt the cold on your face. High in the mountains, surrounded by trees and forest creatures, seasons flipped on you. How may times did you go away? How many times did you watch yourself say goodbye? When you finally left, nothing is the way you thought it would be. Go ahead, admit it, to yourself and to everyone else. Honesty is sometimes rewarded.
Admit it and I will tell you a story about Callahan and his first records, when he used to call himself Smog, and how I feel them as post-war ruins of a divided city. City without the bridge, city with the bridge, and still nothing changes. Music remains. Callahan's experiments were a soundtrack to the quest of youth. His voice calmed that madness. I will also mention today's Bill, top musician and a cool cat, he doesn't deserve less.