Friday, March 10, 2006

Snapped continuity

Snapped continuity.

Pockets of angels.

Pockets of Boticelli, his quirky, almost cartoon-like rendering of all the stations of Hell.

"In the middle of the journey of our lives.."

Intermezzo del camin du nuestra vita...

Boticelli, perfectly capable of rendering angelic beauty as in that Venus-on-the-halfshell so reminiscent of Toronto City Hall, and then doing a complete 180- degree turn and illustrating Dante's hell for us. And what a proper hell it was, out of all the materials of the 14th century and a little beyond, into our present time. Was Urjo Revell thinking of Boticelli when he designed our city hall? Hard to say. From the beginning, in l964, they said that Toronto's new shell-like structure was ugly, even down to the turd-in-the plaza of Henry Moore. But look at that plaza now. Finnish furniture elevated to high art. Ikea with a whole lot of Boticelli thrown in. It is beautiful.

Ah, we ourselves are starlight, are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

I once took a page out of Joni Mitchell's book and produced a newspaper column whose standing logo was "Both Sides Now."

Oh the arrogance of it, thinking, at 34, that I had seen it all, had figured it out, that I'd been through hell and would be able to write the guidebook. Saw myself as a savant and started a column in the local paper.

At least, my young fool's notes were carrying the house. I had succeeded in cobbling together other people's material and making a living at it.

Other people's material.

Well, there was Woodstock. "Come with me, my friend, I'll show you another country", yes, Jefferson Airplane with Gracie Slick fronting, and Janis Joplin:

"Sittin' by the window
Lookin' out at the rain...
Seems to me like a ball and chain."

And then the aw aw aw aw Please! She seemed to be having an orgasm out there, right on the stage. Just a little piece of your heart now, baby.

It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack. All this time, I've been trying to write a novel. Yes. Weren't you?

Master Jack trying to be nimble at the typewriter, writing the great Canadian novel, f*cking it up, wife saying you picked a hard thing to be, writing the only thing you know and even at this you are failing. Jefferson airplane on CHUM FM. Artistic failure. You mean I am not in their lague? I am not an artist?

The saved-up joint lit up, hoping to get that sense of omnipotence and creativity back and it is not a good stone. Not even with the chelm. Three years go by. Same problem. "You are fucking up, baby. Looks like you'll have to go to work for a while."

I get work as a rock critic. I am still wearing the suit and tie they told me to wear at our "I think-I-can" technical university. Old school tie, yes, the beanie, almost.

Frosh all my days. Trying to be hip, trying to be cool. In blazer and slacks. Electric Circus, Brower and Walker rock shows at Varsity Stadium, an old haunt. Philosopher's walk, remembering some of the hazing at Trinity College. Poor kid with the beanie still on, carrot in his mouth, "Eat that, you queer." Preparation for life, yeah.

Well, they did prepare me for life. Trinity was sort of a finishing school for me, my mainline trade being journalist. Fellating the stars.

I finally got some paisley and beads and went the whole rock columnist routine. Here and there I would affect Riddler outfits, Batman, Superman, the five-inch high-heeled boots. Granny's. All our imitations of Studio 54. I had fantasies of meeting Margaret Trudeau.

And suddenly the bubble burst. The Toronto Telegram sank, and so did I.

Like many another screw-up, I retreated to my cottage to write that great Canadian novel. I huffed and I strained. It laid an egg.

Back to the journalism, back to the column I had titled "Both Sides Now", back on "boogie street", for I was making money again, and the next thing you know, I'm at the Toronto Sun with my scrawls and life is good. Except that I had screwed up the novel.

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world...I seemed to have
lost my soul, first to rock'n'roll and now to something like Neil Young's father--journalism. I was not an artist, just a moon reflecting all the stars, here and there mooning them out of sheer envy.

The standard artistic trick. Drive your family away. Find a garret. Become the novelist you were meant to be.

Ah.

Snapped continuity.

You reach for heaven, try for Beatrice among the stars and you end up in hell. The separation anxiety kills the creativity, your biopsychic intensities overcoming your proof page, the bottles piled up, the alcoholism, the shame of rehab.

And the question is asked, did he, did he deliver the goods?

Yes he did. But it was like Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. The project was finally completed, but it had been moth-eaten, and finally chewed upon by sharks.
And there was all this snapped continuity, what they had been talking about in the Sixties and Seventies.

I had finally gotten the snap. Where the hell is the rest of me?

"Major Tom to ground control..."

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom here, in a major way. Raw nerves burn when the air and light get to them, no? Yeah, sometimes life bites. That was yesterday, what is tomorrow? Other people's stuff? Can't help but be other people's stuff. What comes out on the white sheet is the sum total of all that we have read, and all the things that we have done, and the people we have met. Let's hope the punters don't catch on.

The girl riding the sea shell. I knew a girl in college that looked just like her. Blonde, too. Alas, her hair was long, but not long enough to cover all the bits that the sea shell rider covers with her hair. Wonder she is doing now? But Thomas said in his wolfish way, "you can't go home again."

Wonder what any of them are doing now, the people from the past, scenes in the movie starring me. Jackie P was so stylish, and rich, and we sat on the fire escape of the old brick school in the early evening and discussed what life really was and how far did space go, and what then? She is an exclusive retailer in Chevy Chase, a patron of the arts, and goes by the same name that she used way back then.

Lee and I made real rockets when we were kids and discussed astronauts and flying, and dreamed of going to the stars. He really worked for NASA, and started a company that flew jet airplanes over the top so you could experience weightlessness. He retired so he could enjoy his family and hobbies. He died in an intersection, T-boned by a drunk driver.

Sometimes I feel like Harry Chapin's taxi driver, giving a ride to all those ghosts. Sometimes like the guy in Steely Dan's "What a Shame About Me"...
I'm still working on that novel
But I'm just about to quit
'Cause I'm worrying about the future now
Or maybe this is it
It's not all that I thought it would be
What a shame about me

Ivan, I know you think the Dan suck canal water, but read the words.

Janice Joplin. During my research on Lenny C., I found that she did a Bill Clinton on Lenny once. So he says. Toad or goat? It's always Summertime for Pearl now.

Toronto in nineteen sixty-eight was the place to be for a young blond guy who thought he could be the next F. Scott. Hemingway lived here, eh? before Harry Hindmarsh fired his ass. CHUM-FM with music that was not played in the bible belt. Reiner Schwartz and The David Pritchard Program and Pete 'n' Geets. They played Janice, too. The hippie girls waded in the pool at Nathan Philips Square in the summertime. Always summertime for Janice the hippie girl. I the streets of Toronto are mean streets now, more like the city in Blade Runner.

You can't go home again. Thomas W. was right. What's gonna happen tomorrow? It's gonna be great, I know.

DoubtingThomas

jeff said...

Talk at and with me street preacher!

ivan said...

Cam't talk at present.
Two magnums of wine.
Quanset hut mechanics.
Looking for Loretta Swit out of
M*A*S*H*.

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas:
Are you ever getting it on!
Wolfish,hah?

Erik Ivan James said...

Ah, perspective. Thank you, Ivan.

ivan said...

Thank YOU, Eric.

ivan said...

Jeff,
Can't find your home blog.
Oh what the hell, you can bunk here.

Jeff said...

That's what she said...

ivan said...

Jeff,
You got any Nova Scotia in you?
The standard rejoiner to that is that's what she said "when the
bed broke down."

Chuckercanuck said...

this is a great piece.

Toronto's city hall will never be the same. Like the Japanese to Frank Lloydd Wright, "Glory to you, Ivan."

Jeff said...

Nope, I've got no maritime veins in my lineage. Born and bred Albertan as far back as the camera was capable of capturing. Great black and white of my great-grandfather breaking land with a pair of oxen and a plow. Legend has it that he also enjoyed a good fist fight when he took to drinking.

ivan said...

Saw a fair CBC documentary on Alberta. I for one, was impressed by Albera's contribution to just about everything Canadian. Also know some Albertans personally. Amazing folk.
Not like Ontarians.The Ontario guy, you know, will first size you up and then figure out a way to screw you. Not so with Albertans. Multitalented. And somehow Oriental in their practicality.
Heard something like "don't fight with your neighbour,help each other."
I worked as a PR representative for one Bruce Wilkinson, originaly out of Pincher Creek, Alta. The guy could photograph professionally, write newspaper stories,establish fitness depots
sire a huge family and make recreational rock climbing a local industry. For relaxation, he buils houses from the ground up. The amazing Bruce.
Also told me I was retarded, but in a different way. Alberta honesty!
Must be nice to know exactly where you came from and who your folks were, a rare feeling in these dislocated times.
Thanks for your interest in this blog. BTW: It starts with an old l925 tome, "The Story of Philosophy", by Will Durant. It has to be that exact title and that exact author.

Nightprowlkitty said...

"Sing of human unsuccess,
In a rapture of distress ..."
(--Auden)
Ah, writing the great novel, redemption, salvation, no loose threads, harmony of past present and future. Or what you have here, glorious chaos with no end, no neat packages of tied up meaning. I prefer the latter.

ivan said...

I thought it was just a mid-life crisis.
Not so high on Gail Sheehy these days, but I'd sure as hell like to meet Clay Felker.

ivan said...

Chucker,
Thank you.
I think it is my son on the blog team that has the eye.
I had put together some notes on Frank Lloyd Wrght, especially the waterfall house, but lost them in cyberspace. Interesting carom on Wright in you comment. More on the guy and Japanese influences?
Vice versa?

Chuckercanuck said...

Ivan,

So he builds this magnificent hotel in Tokyo. He invents as anti-earthquake construction, that earns him some scorn. Earthquake hits. And one of the few buildings that remain standing. "Glory to you, FLW." says the letter from the Japs who commissioned it.

Fallingwater - another reason Pittsburgh is such a wondrous place.

I saw another of his fantastic bldgs in Oklahoma City. He put art where art was never supposed to be.

Did you hear about the tragic end to his (2nd/3rd) marriage? One day he fires his gardener. Slightly ticked, the gardener burns the house down and as panicked guests rush out, he chops them up with an ax, including the missus.

Perhaps we haven't made sufficient sacrifice to please the muses?

ivan said...

Chucker,
With all reverence: Jesus Christ!
I'm so glad we got this into the current blog instead of the last one.
Yeah, I guess we don't entirely avoid self-pity as we shlep along with our dinky projects, calling ourelves creators, giving our life to Art, whoever that guy might be.
When it comes it comes to the Fuller building, I might just get by as a brush salesman.
FLR. A giant, Walter Grupius be confounded, though Bauhaus is all around us, certainly Edmonton.
I have read Tom Wolfe on these matters, but it has been so long that the content had dimmed.
I have nightmares of blockbusing.

Jeff said...

She sells seashells
I'll buy the seashore
Educalcool
Diminutive wit
Product of Barley and Hops
Thanks
Lots
Ivan!

I wonder if the shell girl has beach fatigue?

ivan said...

This is what I got from two snorts of Listerine:
Rubberbabybuggybumpers.
She sells seashells down by the seashore.
Is this the switch for Ipswich Miss?
SCENE:

Litte girl humming to herself at the seashore: I love my mommy. I love my daddy.
ANNOUNCER: Hello little girl.
LITTLE GIRL: F*ck off!

Jeff said...

Bolemia is hard to stomach
Ivan Illich the Hair Splitter
Deschooling society he
Waxed polemic
Softly swaying whilst
The Great Usurper
Caurausius II
Urb'anus'.

ivan said...

Ivan Illich was a shortsighted fool.
We tried his method, or part of his method in Ontario with the Hall Dennis Report and subsequent open concept teaching.

While Illich's idea was great for the genius, we in Ontario soon produced a generation of university students who couldn't spell, couldn't count, could hardly shuffle paper. It was not till about l982 that we smartened up and went back to the Three R's.
I think Anonalogue (who sometimes writes into here)has some ideas on open concept teaching. Yeah, you and I know, along with Illich that formal education is just a kind of babysitting. Learning is painful and more often than not, the teacher just gets in the way. We learn by picking , plucking and praying while working on actual stuff, hands-on. Answers come,more often than not, in the middle of the night. Old Francis Bacon had something on this: Work on the stuff.
But there are instances where a gifted teacher, secure in his own discipline--can set a student on fire. There are ways , of course, in the present system, as Aaron Braaten points out in his blog, of of a student achieving consistently high achievement through repeated quizzing and testing. I went through school with some whiz kids, Oxbridge material, and they would organize knowledge point-by-point, memorizing the points without fully analyzing that knowledge. Straight A's every time.
But, like even my old Economics teacher used to say, you might be able to explain something complex, like the Canada-U.S. Auto parts agreement in three or four lines of a poem.
Is that what you're laying on me with all this cryptic stuff? Avoiding verbiage to make a point?
Anyway, maybe you're right. You can make your point in a kind of supercharged Haiku.

But then we get into complex social situations.
In my own case, when I try to correct a young female's copy she will take it personally and see me as an enemy.
But then we guys can reach high humour too:

Woman" I don't want to see you any more."
Guy: Yeah, but what's your point?

Heh.

Jeff said...

Questions, always questions.

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas,
I can't get over your opening comment, the bit about Janis Joplin going down with Lennie E.
Hey, what man isn't interested?
Like many another intrepid scholar, I had to track this down, but I chose to go to text, i.e., Janis Joplin's songs--before commentary.
I am probably solipsistic about this, but a couple of lines catch my attention, especially in "Ball and Chain":
Sittin' by the window
Lookin' at the rain
(All around I felt it) All I could see was the rain.
Somethin's got a hold of me honey
Felt to me, Felt to me like a ball and chain.
JUST BECAUSE I GOTTA WALK YOUR MOUTH...
Whooee. Lennie's from Montreal
Sixointe....?

More:
Please don't you do it to me
Take this love I offer
and let me be
And:
You're playin with my affections, honey
Please don't you do it to me.
...You know that I need a man...

Well, I don't know if Janice had a perfect body, but sounds to me that he touched her perfect body with his mind, may have driven Janice crazy and went off in the only way he could.
Irreverent? Sacriligeous?
I mean, Cohen is a giant and I am only poor Ivan.
But it did strike me in the song that instead of touching her perfect body with his mind, he may have been handier if he'd touched it with something else.Maybe he did. To shut her up?
So did I hear Janice protesting,

"Please don't you do it to me.
Please don't you do it to me
If you don't take this love I offer, then let me be.
Lennie. Feh. Walk her mouth, you say. Schmutzig.
I guess I don't get out enough.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

To hell with TO City Hall.
Queen Street West completely rocks.

ivan said...

e.ann bardawill,
I've heard of you. I actually have.
Must be TVO and Toronto (New York?)press.
Thank you for gracing my blog.
Yeah, Queen Street West rocks. I only seem to visit there when I'm flat out and broke. That's when the chicks come; when I'm flush, nothin'.
I guess if you and I were to walk down the street we'd be a pair of Docs.
This is where it starts?

Anonymous said...

"I feel late, therefore I am."
-Janice Joplin

"Hubba hubba!"
-L. Cohen

"Hubba hubba!"
-Eye Prop

Hmmmm....
-DoubtingThomas

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas:
Brilliant!
CNR coming
Freight train coming.
Ivan coming.
He play with she. She play with he.
Ivan play with heeself.
Of such stuff is art made.

Small note: Bernita is madly in love with me. She can't help it.
The animosity, the animosity!
I mean, most people love Ivan all to pieces. Why should Bernita be the exception? Rumpelstilkin, feminist version?
She thought she was paranoid before!
Gonna come and getcha.

Anonymous said...

Lenny C told the BBC the following:

"There was the sole indiscretion, in my professional life, that I deeply regret, because I associated a woman's name with a song, and in the song I mentioned, I used the line "giving me head on an unmade bed while the limousines wait in the street", and I've always disliked the locker-room approach to these matters, I've never spoken in any concrete terms of a woman with whom I've had any intimate relationships. And I named Janis Joplin in that song, I don't know when it started, but I connected her name with the song, and I've been feeling very bad about that ever since, it's an indiscretion for which I'm very sorry, and if there is some way of apologizing to the ghost, I want to apologize now, for having committed that indiscretion."

Apologizing? What a concept Ivan. Chuck Norris never apologizes. Nor does Chuck Barris. Chuckee Cheese should. Hooda thunk that a dreamy Jewish kid from Montreal could create a character so cool and so depressed as Lenny did? "Music to slit your wrists to", it was called. The character he created has been a real chick magnet. And so it goes. Lots of miles under his wings, a coating of grey on the roof. Lots of memories; Lenny tells us they are bittersweet, but he must smile broadly sometimes, not for us.

Lenny lived the life of Dylan Thomas, F. Scott, Papa Ernie. Not cool any more. GenX didn't take to that. For anybody but Ivan, go back and listen to the Dan sing "Hey Nineteen." We certainly can't dance together. Mutton dressed as lamb.

Forecast of more ice fog tonight out here in God's Country. In the morning the leafless trees are solidly coated in white so you think you are looking at an infrared photo. Put the wallet away, the most beautiful things in our lives are free. Open your eyes, dreamer.

DoubtingThomas

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas:
Whatcha doin"? Writing a thesis?
It's certainly good enough.
Nails down some of the silliness of my own comments about Leonard
and Janice with good, solid research.
I'm sure readers are oing to find this of great interest.
Keep it up, man.

Aaron said...

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world...I seemed to have
lost my soul, first to rock'n'roll and now to something like Neil Young's father--journalism. I was not an artist, just a moon reflecting all the stars, here and there mooning them out of sheer envy.


That was PFG!!!!!!!!!

Pretty Fukn Good
Past Fukn Genius
Pure Fukn Gold

You just wordsmithed your own zeitgeist!

ivan said...

Did Steely Dan do the Caves of Altamira?
Have no idea of the lyrics, but if he was talking bout the caves of
Alta Verde,then he'd have something.
Shades of Willa Cather!
We are shaped by our geography and the people who have lived there,their lore, their religions, their ethos.
I have never been the same since visiting both pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico.
Haaunted by the feathered serpent, which somehow even explained dinosaurs to me. Some rosetta stone!
Meant to write something on the Rosetta stone, but couldn't find the words in the desert dust.

ivan said...

Aaron.
Thank you.
Sublety, though, is not wasted on the old, you anagram genius,you.
I got it! I got it!.
And you almost approached Joyce's "smithy of my soul."
How do you load all those gems into one phrase or two? Nice.
Thanks again.
Ivan

jeff said...

Ann Jemima waffled.

ivan said...

Betcha drive a rice burner.
Not converted?

jeff said...

I'm a hoofer
Husky slacks.
Pants and trousers.
Pull em up to my chin
And I'm off!

ivan said...

They asked Ringo Starr, are you a mod or a rocker. He said he was a mocker.
Well, I'm a guitar preacher.
The holy bible according to Leo Fender.
But I must have a gay streak.
I have to sit down to play a Fender.
heavy mothers. Crack your spine.

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