Friday, April 26, 2013

AP Obituary for George Jones



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has died. He was 81.

Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to his publicist Kirt Webster. He had been hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.

With one of the most golden voices of any genre, a clenched, precise, profoundly expressive baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s. He was idolized not just by fellow country artists, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others. "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones," Waylon Jennings once sang.

Word of his death spread Friday morning as his peers paid tribute.

"The greatest voice to ever grace country music will never die," Garth Brooks said in an email to The Associated Press. "Jones has a place in every heart that ever loved any kind of music."

Ronnie Dunn added: "The greatest country blues singer to ever live."

In Jones' case, that's not hyperbole. In a career that lasted more than 50 years, "Possum" evolved from young honky-tonker to elder statesman as he recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams.

Jones survived long battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, brawls, accidents and close encounters with death, including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he only avoided by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.

His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname "No Show Jones," and he later recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it. His wild life was revealed in song and in his handsome, troubled face, with its dark, deep-set eyes and dimpled chin.

In song, he was rowdy and regretful, tender and tragic. His hits included the sentimental "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the foot-tapping "The Race is On," the foot-stomping "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," the melancholy "She Thinks I Still Care," the rockin' "White Lightning," and the barfly lament "Still Doing Time." Jones also recorded several duets with Tammy Wynette, his wife for six years, including "Golden Ring," ''Near You," ''Southern California" and "We're Gonna Hold On." He also sang with such peers as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and with Costello and other rock performers.

But his signature song was "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a weeper among weepers about a man who carries his love for a woman to his grave. The 1980 ballad, which Jones was sure would never be a hit, often appears on surveys as the most popular country song of all time.

Jones won Grammy awards in 1981 for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and in 1999 for "Choices." He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2008 was among the artists honored in Washington at the Kennedy Center.

Jones continued to make appearances and put out records, though his hit records declined.

"I don't want to completely quit because I don't know what to do with myself," he said in 2005. "I'll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there."

He was in the midst of a yearlong farewell tour when he passed away. He was scheduled to complete the tour in November with an all-star packed tribute in Nashville.

Jones was a purist who lamented the transformation of country music from the family feeling of the 1950s to the hit factory of the early 21st century. He was so caught up in country, old country, that when a record company executive suggested he record with James Taylor, Jones insisted he had never heard of the million selling singer-songwriter. He was equally unimpressed when told that Neil Young had come to visit backstage and declined to see him, saying he didn't know who he was. He did listen to the Rolling Stones, only because of the guitar playing of Keith Richards, a country fan who would eventually record with Jones.

Asked about what he thought about Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and other young stars, Jones said they were good but they weren't making traditional country music.

"What they need to do really, I think, is find their own title," he said.

In 1991, country star Alan Jackson dedicated his hit song "Don't Rock the Jukebox" to Jones, asking in the song that country music remain faithful to the Jones style instead of drifting toward rock 'n' roll.

Jones was born Sept. 12, 1931, in a log house near the east Texas town of Saratoga, the youngest of eight children. He sang in church and at age 11 began performing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Texas. His first outing was such a success that listeners tossed him coins, placed a cup by his side and filled it with money. Jones estimated he made more than $24 for his two-hour performance, enough to feed his family for a week, but he used up the cash at a local arcade.

"That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward," he recalled in "I Lived to Tell it All," a painfully self-critical memoir published in 1996. "It started what almost became a lifetime trend."

The family lived in a government-subsidized housing project, and his father, a laborer, was an alcoholic who would rouse the children from bed in the middle of the night to sing for him. His father also noted that young George liked music and bought him a Gene Autry guitar, with a horse and lariat on the front, that Jones practiced on obsessively.

He got his start on radio with husband and wife team Eddie & Pearl in the late 1940s. Hank Williams once dropped by the studio to promote a new record, and Jones was invited to back him on guitar. When it came time to play, he froze.

"Hank had 'Wedding Bells' out at the time," Jones recalled in a 2003 Associated Press interview. "He started singing it, and I never hit the first note the whole song. I just stared."

After the first of his four marriages failed, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 and served three years. He cut his first record when he got out, an original fittingly called "No Money in This Deal."

He had his first hit with "Why Baby Why" in 1955, and by the early '60s Jones was one of country music's top stars.

"I sing top songs that fit the hardworking, everyday loving person. That's what country music is about," Jones said in a 1991 AP interview. "My fans and real true country music fans know I'm not a phony. I just sing it the way it is and put feeling in it if I can and try to live the song."

Jones was married to Wynette, his third wife, from 1969 to 1975. (Wynette died in 1998.) Their relationship played out in Nashville like a country song, with hard drinking, fights and reconciliations. Jones' weary knowledge of domestic warfare was immortalized in such classics as "The Battle," set to the martial beat of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

After one argument, Jones drove off on a riding mower in search of a drink because Wynette had taken his car keys to keep him from carousing. Years earlier, married to his second wife, he had also sped off in a mower in search of a drink. Jones referred to his mowing days in the 1996 release, "Honky Tonk Song."

His drug and alcohol abuse grew worse in the late '70s, and Jones had to file for bankruptcy in 1978. A manager had started him on cocaine, hoping to counteract his boozy, lethargic performances, and Jones was eventually arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1983 on cocaine possession charges. He agreed to perform a benefit concert and was sentenced to six months probation.

"In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time," Jones wrote in his memoir. "If you saw me sober, chances are you saw me asleep."

In 1980, a 3-minute song changed his life. His longtime producer, Billy Sherrill, recommended he record "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a ballad by Curly Putnam and Bobby Braddock. The song took more than a year to record, partly because Jones couldn't master the melody, which he confused with Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night," and partly because he was too drunk to recite a brief, spoken interlude ("She came to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good.")

"Pretty simple, eh?" Jones wrote in his memoir. "I couldn't get it. I had been able to sing while drunk all of my life. I'd fooled millions of people. But I could never speak without slurring when drunk. What we needed to complete that song was the narration, but Billy could never catch me sober enough to record four simple spoken lines."

Jones was convinced the song was too "morbid" to catch on. But "He Stopped Loving Her Today," featuring a string section that hummed, then soared, became an instant standard and virtually canonized him. His concert fee jumped from $2,500 a show to $25,000.



"There is a God," he recalled.

In 1983, Jones married his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulveda, whom he credited with stablizing his private life. He had four children, one with first wife Dorothy Bonvillion, two with second wife Shirley Ann Corley and one with Wynette. His daughter with Wynette, Georgette Jones, became a country singer and even played her mother in the 2008 TV series "Sordid Lives."

RIP George Jones: 9/12/31 - 4/26/13

I first discovered George Jones's music in 1994, when I was a grad student in San Francisco, homesick for Texas, desperate for anything to cling on to. His music was beautiful...heartful, soulful...I felt everything he was singing. So grateful to him for making me feel at home in a strange place.

Even the dedication to my thesis reads, in part: "...with love and gratitude to George Jones, whose music's sadness and soul and spirit got this Texas girl through San Francisco and grad school."

I got to see him play live twice in the late '90s. Once from very close to the stage at Stubb's in Austin, and the next year from afar at the Austin rodeo.

Thank you, George, for your music (and soul and spirit).









Are you up?

Are you up? She doesn't answer.
Wanna schtup? She doesn't say.
I'll never ever be a dancer.*
Tomorrow is another day.**

------------------------
*Robyn Hitchcock
**Scarlett O'Hara


For this moment, reveling in being able to do stuff when I want to at 4am! I liked a lot the temp media work I've been doing for the past 2 weeks: searching online for relevant press releases, editing and posting internal news to the company's website. I really could do that all day. (Despite the innate stupidity of the task: gathering items to deliver to those who get off on seeing their name mentioned in print, despite how trivial the mention. It's not like I would have CHOSEN this task when I was 5 and the teacher asked me what I wanted to do with my life, but hey... We can't all be heiress/artistes who choose to remove themselves from life's phoniness like J.D. Salinger and James Merrill and Edward Albee; if I'm going to have to get paid for something, searching the Internet is a darned easy thing to get paid for. I also liked that it involved some thinking, unlike, say, blankly making appointments or travel arrangements.)

But still, when the job ended today... I couldn't wait to come home and... take a nap! At 6pm! I woke up at 11pm... And I didn't have to fret about getting back to sleep before the alarm went off at 6:20am! And I got to putz around rearranging my CD collection for 3 hours. And now here I am, writing on my blog at 4:30am! I'm FREE! (Albeit temporarily. Three months of freedom, to be specific. Since being booted out of NYC in 2010 for lack of funds, I'm now, 3 years later, constantly hyper-aware of what I have in the bank and how long I can live off of it. Right now, I can go 3 months without a job and still survive.)

p.s. I'd FELT I had about a thousand CDs. Actually only about 270.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I can't quit!

After my online CD buying spree of a couple of days ago, I THOUGHT I was done... But no, there's more I just HAD to have! (In my defense, though, all of these are used, and most cost about $5 each, including s/h; none were more than $8...)

Asterisk indicates I'd NOT owned this before:

*Kinks Singles
*Hollies Best of
Byrds Greatest
*Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn
*Moody Blues Days of Future Past
Creedence 20 Greatest
*Bob Seger Greatest
Queen Greatest
Ramones Greatest
Tom Petty Greatest
John Mellencamp 78-88
Siouxsie & the Banshees Singles
*Lady Gaga Fame Monster

Now, what's the point?! I don't feel comfortable playing everything I've been buying at the loudness they deserve because I don't want to bother neighbors (who have been very quiet for a long time now and I don't want to set anybody off with my own music). Maybe in anticipation of the iPod that I will be buying soon? And HOURS AND HOURS of FUN transferring all of this stuff to digital and then making the 2013 equivalent of MIX TAPES?! Yup, I think that's it! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Hollies



I didn't realize until today browsing around on Amazon that many of the singles from the mid-60s that I always liked so while driving around in my first car in '81 with AM radio only (options: talk sports, talk religion, talk politics, oldies) were by The Hollies.

Seriously: Just One Look, Bus Stop, Carrie Anne, On a Carousel, Stop Stop Stop... I had NO IDEA until today who sang these great songs, or that it was the same group doing all!



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coward

Today while waiting for the bus, I saw an injured bird stuck in the middle of the street.

I didn't see it fall. I guess it dropped out of the grand live oak across the street that has branches extending over the road. One minute I was sitting there at the stop alone; the next minute, there was fussing in the road: There was the hurt bird, and there was another bird next to it, nudging and pushing it. The hurt bird wasn't moving, despite the other bird's help. After a bit of trying, the other bird gave up and flew away when the first car came. The hurt bird continued to sit there dumbly.

A car, then another car, then another car came along. It was a residential street so people weren't speeding along; but I could tell that the people in the cars were seeing the bird and were kindly and doing their best to avoid hitting it.

Me, I sat there dumbly staring at the whole (to me) horrifying scenario. What the fuck should I DO? Go out in the road and pick up the crippled bird and move it to the yard across the street? I was not so much scared of the (mild) traffic, but I was scared to touch the hurt bird (is it going to struggle and peck at me?). And I had memories of a couple of attempted baby-bird rescues from my youth...the birds always died.

I sat there cringing. Maybe 5 more cars went by, all managing to avoid hitting the bird.

Despite the various cars passing, the bird finally shook off its shock and slowly hopped over to the closest yard. Then, feeling MUCH better, flew up into the big live oak. PHEW.

It turned out well for the little bird. But not so much for me. I learned that I am a complete coward. I should have helped the bird out of the street. But all I kept thinking was, "Just how injured is it? Is it going to hurt me if I try to touch it? Is it going to die anyway even if I move it; would it be more humane if a car just ran it over?"

Kudos to the bird's friend for initially pushing at it to get it to move. THAT bird-friend was the real hero that I couldn't be.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Yabba Dabba Doo



Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter that looks like Elvis
I soaked the label off a Flintstone jelly bean jar
I cleared us off a place on that one little table that you left us
And pulled me up a big ole piece of floor
I pulled the head off Elvis, filled Fred up to his pelvis
Yabba dabba doo, the King is gone and so are you

'Round about 10 we all got to talking
'bout Graceland, Bedrock and such
The conversation finally turned to women
But they said they didn't get around too much
Elvis said, "Find 'em young" and Fred said, "Old-fashioned girls are fun"
Yabba dabba doo, the King is gone and so are you

Later on it finally hit me
That you wouldn't be 'a comin' home no more
'Cause this time I know you won't forgive me
Like all of them other times before
Then I broke Elvis's nose, pourin' the last drop from his toes
Yabba dabba doo, the King is gone and so are you



My favorite questions...

Where I'm temping (only through next week, alas), aside from compiling press releases, etc., I'm also responsible for answering the Help line. Which initially panicked me: "I'm new! How am I supposed to answer people's questions?!" But, let me just say that often, very often, the questions have NOTHING to do with the media company I'm working for! It's just that SOMEHOW people get a hold of this particular Help number and figure that I can help with WHATEVER! My top two favorites so far:

(1) A teenaged girl called today and requested that the company Tweet and post on its website the fact that she has entered a radio contest to win a date with Justin Bieber. Whoever gets the most votes wins. So could we please Tweet and post her contact info so she'll win? (ME: "Um...I don't know if that's quite appropriate for us. Give me your contact info and I'll have my boss get back to you with the final word, but I don't THINK we'll be able to do that." Since the company is a SERIOUS media org, NO we're not going to Tweet/post about a Justin Bieber contest!)

(2) A man in his car somewhere in the Dallas area was panicky because his GPS wasn't working. How did he get to the Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Austin? So I got on Google Maps... He wanted to tell me exactly which city around Dallas he was starting from so I could give him EVERY Google direction from there, but I had to cut him off (politely): "Sir, I KNOW you'll be able to find I-35. So get on I-35 South and keep going for about 3-1/2 hours until you get near Austin..." (Again, the company I'm working for has NOTHING to do with the Circuit of the Americas!) :)

I'm going to miss this place! :)

Finally, I think, caught up!

Liking this temp job so much...usually extremely busy the first half of the day with fun, interesting media-related stuff and slow-pokey/relaxing in the afternoon--giving me time to MUSIC SHOP! The Manson album I ordered a couple of days ago started off another binge not seen since a year ago! At this point, I think I've FINALLY re-acquired most of the CDs I used to own over the years and sold off at one point or another (either because of abject poverty or moving)!

Here's what I ordered today (asterisks indicate I've NOT owned it previously but always wanted to):

Hank Williams 40 Greatest
Roy Orbison Greatest
Beatles Abbey Road
Lennon Some Time in New York City
*Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd The Wall
*Essential Leonard Cohen
*Essential Clash
*Van Halen I
Van Halen II
*AC/DC Back in Black
*Guns-n-Roses Appetite for Destruction
The Cure Singles
Violent Femmes Hits
*Housemartins London 0 Hull 4
Housemartins The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death
The The Mind Bomb
The The Infected
Crowded House
Indigo Girls Rites of Passage
Melissa Etheridge Yes I Am
Alan Jackson Hits
*Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island



Our bed is empty, the fire is out
And all the love we've got to give has all spurted out
There's no more blood and no more pain
In our kingdom of rain

You think you know about life
You think you know about love
But when you put your hands inside me
It doesn't even feel like I'm being touched...

-------

Above is "Kingdom of Rain" from the 1989 "The The" album "Mind Bomb," with Sinead O'Connor guesting. And below is "Five Get Over Excited" from '87's "People Who Grinned..." by the Housemartins.


Love

= The sweet way in which surrender's outrage may be forgiven.

SJ, writing at age 20 in 1986 [Wevill marked his approval of this line] ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

LIE: The Love and Terror Cult

OK, since I'm 47 and not 17, I think it's safe for me to have ordered the CD of Manson's music! (i.e., I'm not going to become a cult member; plus, when I listened to two of Manson's songs -- "Arkansas" and "Look at Your Game, Girl" -- I liked them and didn't get bad vibes at all).

What I'm looking forward to hearing is something raw and honest. If I hear any more daily office-lady conversations in the bathroom (or in the office), or any more Rachel Zoe-intonations/platitudes on Bravo, or any more "You messed with the wrong city" platitudes (re Boston), I'll start shrieking with the nothingness/insanity of it all. Sad that I look forward to Manson's music giving me a sense of REAL?

-----------------------------------------

The songs (all written by Manson) were recorded in '67 and overdubbed in '68. (i.e., Yeah, people, these were PRE-Tate murders. When Manson still had hopes for himself.)

"Look at Your Game, Girl" – 2:03
"Ego" – 2:27
"Mechanical Man" – 3:18
"People Say I'm No Good" – 3:20
"Home Is Where You're Happy" – 1:29
"Arkansas" – 3:03
"I'll Never Say Never to Always" – 0:41
"Garbage Dump" – 2:34
"Don't Do Anything Illegal" – 2:52
"Sick City" – 1:36
"Cease to Exist" – 2:12
"Big Iron Door" – 1:10
"I Once Knew a Man" – 2:33
"Eyes of a Dreamer" – 2:35

2006 ESP-Disk CD bonus tracks

Devil Man (3:15)
The More You Love (1:41)
Two Pairs Of Shoes (1:56)
Maiden With Green Eyes (Remember Me) (1:24)
Swamp Girl (1:58)
Bet You Think I Care (2:12)
Look At Your Game, Girl (Alternate Version) (1:45)
Interview (3:17)
Who To Blame (2:26)
True Love You Will Find (2:52)
My World (1:45)
Invisible Tears (1:33)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie:_The_Love_and_Terror_Cult

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wevill gets his stuff back!

OK, now that I'm getting the hang of my current temp job, it's fun! I spend most of the day gathering media info and posting it to various mailing lists. One of the interesting things I found today was about my old poetry professor, David Wevill, getting his old manuscripts back.

When he left London and Assia in '68 and moved to Austin, he left all of his stuff with her; which then for some reason went to Ted Hughes upon her suicide in '69. (Not sure how Hughes got everything, since they weren't ever married, but anyway...) The Hughes Estate recently tried to put the David Wevill stuff up for sale with Bonhams, but when he complained, the auction house agreed to just give him everything back.

p.s. Boy, is that a great picture of Assia! I officially "hate" her (Team Plath), but...she's so pretty...



p.s.s. Here's an interesting 2010 interview with DW.

One quote (that says absolutely nothing emotionally; David Wevill's Achilles heel both as a man and as a writer): "As for Assia, no satisfactory account of her and those London years has been told, or I believe will ever be told, as no one is competent to do it, myself included. And there is too much contention, conflict of information, impression and emotion for a fair picture to emerge. I've tried, and failed. She remains as a shadow that moves through much of the poetry, inextricably part of the bloodstream." (Dispense with the bullshit, man, and just answer the fucking question: What was she like?)

p.s.s.s. I was hanging out on the street across from campus at lunch today (Wednesday) having a cig... I think Wevill walked by me. (He's a professor emeritus here.) He's nearly 80 now, and I knew him when he was 50-ish... this man was much smaller than I remembered. And he wore a beige baseball cap to match his neat beige clothing. But his face was basically the same, though a bit pinched... Wevill or not? If so...an interesting but absolutely meaningless bit of synchronicity...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taxes... DONE!

OK, Thursday and Friday I did a new temp job that was pretty intellectually hard to do. (At $14 an hour, nothing should be harder than stocking groceries, but this stuff was hard.) So when I got home from work on Friday eve, I let loose and drank mightily. KNOWING I still had my taxes to do over the weekend by their due date of Monday, April 15. (Seriously, I really did start thinking about my taxes back in mid-March and semi-vowed to get them done this year at least 2 weeks earlier than April 15, unlike my last couple of years of returns, posted on the very last date... Didn't happen.)

So after my drinking binge Friday night, I wake up on Saturday about noon. OK, get up and do the taxes, girl. Nope. Went back to sleep again around 2. Slept 'til 5. Kept lying in bed for the rest of what was Saturday, all sorts of negative thoughts running through my head: Give up, you're not going to get the taxes done. Nor your laundry, nor all the dishes, nor your grocery shopping. And, p.s., when you go back to your temp job on Monday, you're STILL not gonna know what the hell you're doing. LOSER!

Well, luckily by Sunday the hangover had worn off. Initially woke up at 7am. Still hated being awake. Dozed again until 11am. At which point a puppeteer pulled some strings: GET THE FUCK UP!

I did. Gathered all my tax forms (and calculator and pencils/pens). Sat the fuck down and did the motherfucker. Took... ONE MEASLY HOUR! (This past year, there was no freelance non-taxed work; only regular W-2 forms; just a 1040 -- easy! And I made double what I made in both 2010 and 2011.)

After this hanging over my head all week and then being taken care of, the rest of the day was easy: Laundry, dishes, groceries. All DONE off the adrenalin of the tax rush.

Still not so sure about how Monday is going to go at the temp job. Whatevah -- it's a fucking 2-week temp job that pays $14 an hour! :)

1931: Crawford and Dietrich

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Charles Manson - Arkansas

Should Manson still be in jail after 44 years?

Well...probably.

But still. I've read all this before, but in the past week read the following again, right in a row: 1974's "Helter Skelter" (by trial prosecutor Bugliosi), 1986's "Manson in His Own Words" (Manson's fellow inmate in the early '60s and later confidante Nuel Emmons), and 1998's "Taming the Beast" (Manson prison counselor Edward George).

Manson in Emmons's book is the most telling: In the days leading up to the Tate murders, the law had been coming down on the Manson group; and Bobby Beausoleil had (rightly) been charged with the Gary Hinman murder (stupidly driving Hinman's car to the Spahn Ranch, where the Manson group lived). As Manson told it to Emmons, everything was going bad, and he was full of hate, remembering his mother, remembering his time in jail and not wanting to go back; everything that he'd built in the desert slipping away. And he was, surprisingly for him---the Leader---sick of people not being able to think for themselves. At this moment, saying "Fuck it. Do what you will."

I completely believe Manson when he says he was sick of his followers and that on the night of August 9 he, fed up, told them to do what they wanted to do. But I also think that this night followed many nights of him talking about "fear" vs. "no fear" and "life" vs. "death" and how the twain are all the same and intermingled, etc.

I think he was doing a mind experiment, just to see what would happen. And thinking he would be immune from the results.

Technically, he actually DIDN'T kill anyone. But he did suggest that his ranch-mates kill people. But... they didn't HAVE to. There was no punishment awaiting if they did not. So why did they?

From the below video: That is Manson's actual song and actual voice for "Look at Your Game, Girl." Is the YouTube creator's choice to play Manson's song over images of Sharon Tate sick, or somehow accurate?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

RE "Evil"

EFB: Below is a case I do consider pretty close to "evil":

http://www.murderpedia.org/male.M/m1/mcduff-kenneth.htm


But to me, the evil aspects aren't limited to just Kenneth McDuff's deliberate acts. They include deliberate acts by law enforcement.

As for McDuff: I first became aware of him after a 1991 murder of a young Austin woman (28 to my 26; her name was Colleen Reed) who had gone to wash her car around 9:30pm on a mild evening the week after Christmas. (How often had I gone out in the evening to do chores by myself in Austin? And that carwash on Lamar Blvd wasn't in a bad area.) McDuff and an accomplice kidnapped her, raped and tortured her for a few days, then murdered her.

I didn't know the name "Kenneth McDuff" in '91. He wasn't identified until he murdered another young woman, this time in Waco, the next year and was arrested for that crime. He was executed by the State of Texas in 1998.

OK. A snake's gonna be a snake. Here's the shocking part to me, though: The law had several opportunities to stop him. That's where THEIR "evil" comes in. (Worse, because they're supposed to be the Good Guys. The Smart and Rational Guys.)

First: McDuff had been SENTENCED TO DEATH in 1966 for the murders of 3 teenagers: he'd shot 2 boys in the face, and raped and strangled their female companion, all for no reason. But...after the US Supreme Court overturned the Death Penalty in 1972 and
"due to extremely crowded Texas prisons, McDuff was paroled in 1989. Upon release McDuff was arrested on a series of parole violations, but he was never locked up for any substantial length of time until he was arrested for the murder of a 22-year-old Texan woman [Melissa Northrup in Waco in '92]..."

Not to be a Nancy Grace about it, but let me just get this straight: He killed 3 random teenagers in cold blood for no reason. But gets parole only 23 years later. That, to me, is just about as sick in its nonsensicality as McDuff's own actions.

Here's another horrible thing that I read about The Law's handling of McDuff: The following came out at his trial for the Northrup murder in '92: In early '92 (after his murder of Reed but before Northrup), a car later identified as owned by McDuff was travelling around in central Texas when a police car pulled up beside it. When the officers glanced over, they saw a woman holding up her handcuffed hands to the window, obviously screaming and gesturing to them. Only minorly alarmed, the officers put on their lights. The other car sped up and raced away. The officers briefly gave chase. Then, luckily for McDuff, he crossed a county line. "Eh," the officers decided. They turned around at the county line.

No one knows who that woman was. We can pretty well guess what happened to her. The officers were not even reprimanded.

The behavior of those officers was, to me, Stupid and Evil. The decision to parole Kenneth McDuff in 1989 was, to me, Stupid and Evil.

I very much believe in the Death Penalty. For people like McDuff. Like Jeffrey Dahmer. Like Ted Bundy. Like the two men who committed the recent murders of the family of four in Connecticut. People who kill and rape/torture random people for no reason.

But not (1) for criminals who kill police officers in the heat of battle (as is one current determinant of "death penalty"-worthy, at least here in Texas).

And not (2) for Jodi Arias. Who, despite being accused of being a stalker on TV, had an intimate relationship for years with Travis Alexander, right up until just a few hours before she killed him, according to the photos on her camera... Maybe he'd said "come here/go away" just one too many times and she emotionally snapped. As I've opined earlier here, Arias surely does NOT deserve to go UNpunished: To me, 20 years for a "2nd-degree murder"/Crime of Passion seems logical and fair. Just not all of the witch-hunt "Oh my god, Travis Alexander was the BEST person! And Jodi was just EVIL! I could tell because her eyes were so...black and soulless! And she once confronted me in the bathroom and told me to stay away from her boyfriend!"

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Sweet Sixteen, 1981



Me on far left.

Mashed Potatoes

Up doing website stuff, with HLN coverage of the Jodi Arias trial in the background. I absolutely HATE the utter ignorance of both Nancy Grace and, even moreso, Drew Pinsky. Pinsky in particular because he's a psychiatrist. (Grace a former prosecutor.)

Pinsky, a psychiatrist, continues to call Arias every day on his show an "evil" person. And continually stresses how she "lured" men in with sex. First, I'm shocked by a psychiatrist, of all people, calling someone "evil." "Evil" is a superstitious, uneducated term usually shunned by those in the mental health field. (In addition to that, Jodi Arias had plenty of reason to kill Travis Alexander in a "crime of passion." Nothing "evil" or "mysterious" about that.)

As for Grace: She was going on tonight about how, if Jodi Arias was "abused," as she claimed, then why weren't the police ever called? Why was there no evidence of broken bones, et al.?

In response to that, let me just say as a 12-year-old witness to domestic violence: Aside from my father coming home drunk and demanding that my mother sleep with him and then shooting at her when she refused, one of the next-most traumatic things was seeing him, a few months earlier, coming home drunk and demanding that she make him dinner. When the dinner wasn't to his liking, he dumped a big ol' spoonful of mashed potatoes on the top of her head and made her sit there like that, until he passed out, with his face in his own pile of mashed potatoes. I watched all of this from the living room.

That kind of shit went on all the time. That kind of shit, you can't call the police about: What're ya gonna say? "I'm scared! There're mashed potatoes on my mother's head!?" Other things no one could call the police about: When my divorced father chose to drive 40 miles from Fort Worth to our rural driveway and then pass out there. When the police showed up after we called, all they had to say was: "His name's on the mailbox." Another time: Him showing up at the back door at 2am, me the only one up, watching my beloved late-night movies, having to go fetch my mother, long asleep, to deal with him. Again: No one calls the police about this sort of mental terror.

I hate Grace and Pinksy for their utter ignorance. (They're professionals, they should know better about human behavior, they should have seen and been aware of more.)

I hate my father for his sadism. I hate my mother for her masochism (which lasted long after their divorce and my father's deserved removal from the house). The neighbors were talking, the school-friends were talking... I had a bright-n-shiny exterior while all the time going home to hate and fear. All the while the two of them spewing stuff about how "superior" they were. (Perhaps in Azle, Texas, having Reader's Digest books in the home and a subscription to "Time" magazine and 5 classical records might constitute "superior." When I went off to college, I was to learn just how inept these people were, just how little they had prepared me for any sort of better world, just how little they ever envisioned me having one. In the truly middle-class world I was to enter, I NEVER heard of parents wanting LESS for their children, as both of my ignorant parents seemed to.)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

An Adventure (Louise Gluck)

1.
It came to me one night as I was falling asleep
that I had finished with those amorous adventures
to which I had long been a slave. Finished with love?
my heart murmured. To which I responded that many profound discoveries
awaited us, hoping, at the same time, I would not be asked
to name them. For I could not name them. But the belief that they existed ---
surely this counted for something?

2.
The next night brought the same thought,
this time concerning poetry, and in the night that followed
various other passions and sensations were, in the same way,
set aside forever, and each night my heart
protested its future, like a small child being deprived of a favorite toy.
But these farewells, I said\, are the way of things.
And once more I alluded to the vast territory
opening to us with each valediction. And with that phrase I became
a glorious knight riding into the setting sun, and my heart
became the steed underneath me.

3.
I was, you will understand, entering the kingdom of death,
though why this landscape was so conventional
I could not say. Here, too, the days were very long
while the years were very short. The sun sank over the far mountain.
The stars shone, the moon waxed and wanted. Soon
faces from the past appeared to me:
my mother and father, my infant sister; they had not, it seemed,
finished what they had to say, though now
I could hear them because my heart was still.

4.
At this point, I attained the precipice
but the trail did not, I saw, descend on the other side;
rather, having flattened out, it continued at this altitude
as far as the eye could see, thought gradually
the mountain that supported it completely dissolved
so that I found myself riding steadily through the air ---
All around, the dead were cheering me on,
the joy of finding them obliterated
by the task of responding to them ---

5.
As we had all been flesh together,
now we were mist.
As we had been before objects with shadows,
now we were substance without form, like evaporated chemicals.
Neigh, neigh, said my heart,
or perhaps nay, nay --- it was hard to know.

6.
Here the vision ended. I was in my bed, the morning sun
contentedly rising, the feather comforter
mounded in white drifts over my lower body.
You had been with me ---
there was a dent in the second pillowcase.
We had escaped from death ---
or was this the view from the precipice?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Another First Line

[See the previous entry, re "Everything begins with her in bed."]

"I am currently the accidental beneficiary of a very good haircut by a usually very mediocre stylist. For the next four weeks only, I shall act accordingly."

What is so interesting to me about both of the abovementioned lines/voices that forced me to write them down is that they're not ME speaking them. They're just me channelling and ADMIRING them, and then them challenging me to go on, if I have the guts and intelligence to follow through. ("Everything begins with her in bed" SEEMS TO demand something more spiritually expansive than "I am currently the accidental beneficiary of..." But the latter seems to beg for at least a short, razor-tight follow-up...perhaps more than anything my lazy mind is capable of.)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Thanks, Mrs. Robinson!

Yesterday, totally depressed and hopeless-feeling, managing only 3.5 hours of freelance stuff at home before feeling the urge to get into bed at 4pm. I'll only nap 'til 7 or so, then get up and do some more, said I. Nah. I just kind of lay there channel-surfing 'til midnight or so, dozing only fitfully, never feeling any burst of energy that would propel me out of bed.

But at least, after hours of desultory surfing... THE MAGIC OF CINEMA!

First, "Cool Hand Luke" was on TCM. Maybe one of my Top 25 movies of all time. Yes, because I identify with the "anti-authoritarian individualist self-destructive god-wishful loser" that is Luke! :) "Sometimes Nothing is a real cool hand." Of course I cried about my own pitiful life while watching it, but it also made me feel kind of cleansed and heroic and Christlike in my Nothingness afterwards!

And then, better yet, "The Graduate" followed (one of my Top 10)! (Thanks to former Indian Pacer Reggie Miller, of all people, who was TCM's guest programmer that evening.) While "Luke" was a cleansing downer, "Graduate" was/is the opposite: Every time I watch, I feel a huge surge of HOPEFULNESS and of the LIFE FORCE! Which is actually odd because the movie is a pretty dark commentary on both society and personal relations...but done so cleverly and humorously and with such understanding. Maybe I love it so because I first saw it at college when I was 18 and could completely relate to Benjamin's dismay/confusion at the world's phoniness and his inability to do anything about it except to half-heartedly attempt to join it. And then, probably even more importantly to me... I, still a virgin when I first saw the movie, was just dying to be seduced by Mrs. Robinson (and remain hopeful about her to this day): That leopard fur! That hair! That cigarette! Those stockings! How she ordered her drinks. The deadpan, "Art." Her not telling Benjamin that she didn't want him to see her daughter because she'd be hurt and jealous. The look on her face in the hallway after she'd chased Benjamin through the rain back to her house... I LOOOOOOOVE her character! She's maybe my second-favorite character in movies after Scarlett O'Hara.

So, by 3 in the morning, I was in a GREAT mood! (Next in line on TCM came "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," which I always find annoying and cloying, but still watchable enough to go to sleep to...)

When I woke up this morning, I felt completely refreshed, the opposite of the day before. With a weird sensation: There was someone very warm lying next to me. Not really, but, with eyes still closed, I was imagining/feeling a woman lying on her back next to me to my left, with a bracelet or arm-band on her right wrist, emanating body heat, with no intention of going anywhere else that morning. And then I, eyes still closed, started thinking about how else I'd woken up with real people, and then I thought of something I'd read in a bio of James Dean, about the time he and a male friend of his had had a 3-way with a female friend and how Dean later told the male friend how the female friend had been literally radiating heat, how sexy he found that... And then a line came to me:

Everything begins with her in bed.

Which is the to-be-famous first line of SOMETHING.

And I had to jump up and write it down. And the day's been a good one ever since.