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+ NOW PLAYING: Bob Dylan · Blood On The Tracks +

"You made it there somehow
You're a paw girl now. . .

WEARING: old t shirt.


STICK BOY to CAT: 'What have you been doing?'
CAT: 'Acting mad.'

TOP PEOPLE in the PILL BOX this week . . .:

William Blake
Raymond Durgnat
Saint Augustine

This week we shall be mostly worshipping . . . Erzulie

". . .for while the elemental cosmic principles which are
personifed in the other loa apply equally to all levels
and forms of life, Voudoun has given woman, in the guise
of Erzulie, exclusive title to that which distinguishes
humans from all other forms: their capacity to conceive
beyond reality, to desire beyond adequacy, to create
beyond need. . .
The lady of that sublime luxury is Erzulie.
In her character is reflected all the elan, all the
excessive pitch with which the dreams of men soar, when,
momentarily, they can shake loose the flat weight, the
dreary, reiterative demands of necessity. . ."
{Maya Deren

SO' BOY of the Weak

"I'm going out of my mind
with a pain that stops and starts...

I am, I have to tell you, in excrutiating pain as I write this: an en-pained Pawboy.
I am - it had to happen - a for-real poor boy.
Last night, bending to grasp a brite yellow tennis ball (my cat Buckley fancies himself an odds-on David Seaman replacement, and I have to say he doesn't have far to go) my back WENT crick-snip-aaaargh . . .
And it is worse this morning.
So if I am even more crotchety than per norm, you know why.

Amphetamine eyed PAWBOY of the High Ground...:
This week's cat owner/Honorary PAWBOY is . . .

cf. cover of Bringing It All Back Home [1965]!
Go - check it out! Look: awwww!


I like Graham Norton - couple of GREAT air clearing Beyond Good and Bad taste jokes on Friday - but he (or his scriptwriters) just seemed to be grasping at bitchy, size-queen straws on Monday night - picking out the big guy Gos in Big Brother for censure because he's ... well, he's a BIG-mother big brother.

"This year they seem to have gone for 11 pretty people and ... someone to cook for them."

Well, yeah - but so wha'?, given that the Big Guy does at least strike you as the only one there of these chuckling prank playing Idiot-babes who might actually HAVE SOMETHING HE CAN DO besides looking as bland and shiny and pointless and value free as a nu (skool) penny.

"We're i-d-i-o-ts babe,
It's a wonder we can even
Feed ourselves

Having said all that, I went straight right off him last night when he piped in thus:

"It's ALL about the 'bling bling' - it REALLY is."

Discuss: why is this so cringe making?

Discuss {and we shall be, soon}: BLING: liberating flight into ritual luxury a la Erzulie, OR Idiot Wind?

{or: There's maybe sometimes a LITTLE more to a fully lived life than designer fucking t shirts you bunch of empty headed shiny happy twats you...}

Ted Joans. 1928-2003

"At different times, he claimed membership of the
American beat movement and called himself a latterday
surrealist. He was also a jazz musician, a jazz poet and
a painter with a degree in fine arts from Indiana
University. [...] Prolific as a prose writer and poet, he
had a finger in many branches of literature, often
illustrating his work with collages similar to those of
Max Ernst. A strong humorous streak is apparent in all
his work, and he had a cruel wit when it came to
depicting the bourgeoisie, especially when philistine
attitudes were involved. He lived precariously and
frugally - " {John Calder, Guardian Obituary}

. . .AT ALL. . .

Well, god is in his heaven
and we all want what's his
But power and greed and corruptible sin
seem to be all that there is

I'm gazing out the window
of the Saint James hotel
and I know no one can sing the blues
like Blind Willie McTell. . .

{Bob Dylan, Blind Willie McTell}


Never mind my back, my short term memory seems to be slipping away like sand through... something something. I only made the following note a few hours ago:

"le-can-can qts?
ALSO but - PSYCHO 216-18 [if you run psycho backwards..."

and I already haven't a clue what I was on about.

I have been reading the brilliant A LONG HARD LOOK AT PSYCHO by Raymond Durgnat [1932-2002 RIP]; and I know I had some thought that linked the finally gone-mad Norman Bates' look/stare to . . . LACAN [i.e. le-can-can] to . . . BIG BROTHER and notions of reverse surveillance or something... {I'd also already started to link it to ALIEN, I think...} but this shivving shriving back pain seems to be slowing my usually oh-so-nimble crag-leap thought processes. . .

OTHER BOOKS which have landed on the PILL BOX desk:

Images of Terror · what we can and can't know
about terorism
· Philip Jenkins
The Essential Hegel · Paul Strathern
The Peoples Music · Ian MacDonald

all of which we will be considering by and b(o)y.

Also currently being scanned in:
John Betjeman's Collected Poems
{a major grade revelation: so DARK!)

St Augustine's Confessions
{oh so tender and philosophical and beautiful!
We ask ourselves: was St A. the original PO' BOY?
"People tell me it's a sin / to know and feel / too much / within.")

and the ever fascinating
Divine Horsemen The Living Gods of Haiti ·
Maya Deren.

+ ----- -

One of those dreams last night: in the dream itself awful things unfold but the mood is light, suspended, affectless. It's only when you wake you realise the awful symbolic weight. And feel suddenly chastened and scarred.

Dream's fade-out fade-in. One minute I am standing surrounded by figures from present and past, love, hubbub, fancies, looks, unforced & fertile interaction.

Next moment EVERYONE in the (my) world has left without me:
I have missed Life's bus.
("Felt that emptiness inside. To which he just could not relate. Brought on by a Simple Twist of Fate.")
Put like that it sounds a bit embarrassingly so-what?
But its air was chill dread.

On the other hand. . . previous night. . .

First. Return of SIX FEET UNDER {hooray!} - great scene where NATE wakes up with a start to write down deeply urgently meaningful dream.

I did this other morning - waking up as I THOUGHT with this vital clue that could start or restart a whole book a whole new realm of THOUGHT, who knows. . .

Dream: I am delivering a somehow crucial book to a somehow crucially meaningful Someone but instead of its usual accepted established name I have somehow (crucially meaningfully etc) re-named it. . . and this feverish nomination somehow means the WORLD. . .

So I wake, groggily, scribble down this urgent meaningful name/message, and go back to sleep.

Later, I wake up proper and inspect the vital note:

"... EncyCLODpaedia KITTYanica ..."

it says.
There. That was it. Cold light of day. The great breakthrough:
EncyCLODpaedia KITTYanica

Sometimes I wonder if Freud, Lacan, everyone was really barking up the wrong cat scratching pole, you know? That maybe just maybe the much feted dream work is just like one of those sink disposal units ... all the mental crap of the day goes through them and the going through of it - in a circular gnashing jumbled up motion - is all we dream. (Tony Soprano: "It's JUST a fuckin' dream!")
And the remains, which we 'recall' and pick thru. . .
Ah, here's a glob of cat-hair-coffee-filter-melon-rind-V8-label - and it reads: encyCLODpaedia KITTyanica.

Then again, there are doubtless Kleinians who would say that my "random" (OH yeah?) choice of 'pussy hair - bitter tasting filter - MELONS - "V"-ate- labial ' ...
'- enough, ENOUGH. I didn't SAY pussy I said-'
'Uh huh. You just keep telling yourself that's the case...'

- ----- +

PLAYING yesterday/last night. . .

TWEET: Southern Hummingbird {brilliant}
Sugababes: One Touch
Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Chile (a slight return)
Crooning on Venus [disc1]
John Fahey: The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death
Bobby Womack: That's Amore
Mutant Disco*

*First time in AEONS I'd played this (to tell the absolute truth I'd forgotten I even owned a copy: it was shoved away in a cupboard in the real deep bunker part of the PB) and, I have to say, I was surprised at HOW GOOD it sounded.
Specifically SOUNDed: the deep luxuriant textures of early Kid Creole & Coconuts; the still terrifying awesome rush of "WHEEL ME OUT"; and even "Me No Pop I" - which I feared might be unlistenably twee* - I thought was the BOMB. It had me in hysterics, and it truly ROCKS.**

{* at the time, if I remember correctly, certain members of The Birthday Party had badges made up which read: KILL COATI MUNDI. Discuss, WITHOUT using the words 'rockist' or 'cocktails'}

{** incidentally, this is the original vinyl copy in MINT condition virtually unplayed, with sticker on front and IP sleevenotes. If anybody wants to offer me a ludicrously outsize sum for it, I'm more than happy to sell. Does anyone know what such a thing fetches? Now they're re issuing it in expanded CD form, there MUST be a fanboy Collector nut out there who would pay crazy money for the opportunity to whip this out and say '- oh, of course, I have the original...')

----- +

Raymond Durgnat VERY smart on how the Cult Studs Industry just applies linguistic/psychoanalytic grids willy nilly onto cinema and other cultural modes where maybe they don't actually work or belong.
I wonder about this. I imagine LACAN would have been the first one to disdain a lot of what passes now for 'Lacanian'. {A a la Marx, seeing into the future: "I am not a

Does anyone know?
I would suppose it all mostly happened after his death. But I imagine his reaction to people using bad Keanu Reeves movies to explicate his deep dark diabolic theories would have been one of hushed chilly intolerant DISGUST. Rather like Derrida's reaction, [PILL BOX passim], on Seinfeld & sitcoms.

For one thing such usage is WAY too instrumental. "In this essay I will use Lacan's mirror stage theory to read Faster Pussycat Kill Kill..." you know. . . Things just aren't that cause and effect. 'Theory' isn't a cute glow-in-the-dark passe partout which unlocks any/every pop culture EXIT.

Anyway, I certainly can't read whole swathes of it any more. ANYTHING which begins with one of those sentences "In this essay I will use Vladimir Propp's hatstand to hang my Stussy cap on..." no, NO, no. It just too often seems like some academic squirt without a creative lateral thought in their bonce, using somebody ELSE's thought process in a way it was never intended; like using a wrecking bar to open a packet of Revels.

Creative re contextualisation is one thing, but using, say, Lacanian mots about REAL trauma & psychosis - and tres difficult mots at that - to re-state the bleedin obvious about minor film noir (cinema is about ... LOOKING! the darkness of noir is about ... SEX!) - who needs it? A Hollywood B-movie needs a post structuralist apologist like a giraffe needs a Prada handbag...
What we NEED is NEW theory, NEW noir, NEW Lacans.

Durgnat very sneaky funny wise also about how whole otherwise sane & spunky armies of feminists went over wholesale to the then suddenly trendy Lacanian "phallocracy", in the process stampeding over perhaps more interestingly gynecocratic thinkers like Melanie Klein say, or Francoise Dolto...

Also: film and music are such collaborative arts and... anyway but, I'm starting to drone on a bit. BUY the Durgnat book. Buy ALL his books.*

(* I met him once, and he was LOVELY too.)


"As Hegel grew up he read omnivorously - through
literature, newspapers, and treatises on almost any
subject he could find. Yet even at an early age he
already believed in a strictly systematic approach,
meticulously copying out in his journals excerpts from
all he read. This thorough training in pedantry (his
'excerpt mill', as he called it) contained quotations on
everything, from physiognomy to philosophy, from
hyperboreans to hypochondria. Personal matters were
included in this journal only when they illuminated an
abstract principle. And on days when he found nothng
serious enough to record, Hegel took this seriously
enough to record why such a lamentable state of affairs
had occurred. Avid scholarly readers of this junk shop of
the mind may come across side by side a report of a local
fire and a criticism of a concert he has attended,
followed by a description and analysis of the cold
weather, a brief treatise on the homily 'Love of money is
the root of all evil', and a list of the merits he has
discerned in the Latin dictionary he has just received as
a present."
{frm The Essential Hegel · Paul Strathern.


18:01 pm, one day last week:
Odd moment.

Jump up from computer to switch TV on for the daily BBC2 SIMPSONS repeat. Those first few seconds when you've got SOUND but the TV screen is still image-free. Only voices.
So: TV on: BBC1: Huw Edwards is reading 6:00 News headlines. CLICK remote to BBC2: a-n-d it's. . .Kent Brockman, reading the News headlines! A-n-d. . .the headlines are about WAR breaking out between Springfield and the FRENCH!

Mayor Quimby: "I refuse to retract. I stand by my ethnic slur! Do your worst, you filthy pretentious savages!"

This episode also features one of my ALL TIME favourite Simpsons moments. It loses in translation (you need to hear the note-perfect DELIVERY of the line), but anyway, for melancholy fanboys everywhere. . .

The fat nerdy COMIC BOOK STORE guy is walking down the street, reading a COMIC, and talking to himself: "But Aqua Man, you cannot marry her, she does not have gills..."
He looks up to see: this huge French missile is shooting down the high street and he is right in its path. "Oh. I've wasted my life."

All this & a Johnny & Edgar Winter joke, too!


MONK. BBC2 {Saturdays, times vary}

Last week. . .

Guest star. . . WILLIE NELSON!

(I've got his autograph, you know.)

Two immediate highlights spring to mind, well, three, three immediate ... oh, now I remember it's actually FOUR. . .

1) Willie's geetar playin' in general, which seems to come & become more odd & abstract & distilled & distracted and West Coassst Bop Cubist with the passing of the years... as un-Nashville as can be.

2) The scene where the police come into a recording studio to arrest Willie; so then but ... his band, one by one, 3 or 4 of them step forward and say "I'M Willie Nelson" ... "I'M Willie Nelson". . .

(I've got his autograph, you know. Did I mention that?)

3) The scene where Monk takes a jerky, hesitant, silence strafed 'whistling' solo.

4) A pony tailed C'n'W rebel Trickster and a grey suited grim-visaged urban neurotic, duetting on acoustic guitar and clarinet, bringing an old standard back to temporary life over a dead woman's plot... Monk & Willie, two primal innocents, displaying their cuts tracks & bruises, finally together at last, a duet, light duende, graveside.

Monk's odd, semi-comic-semi-tragic tone is a hit and miss thing.

It's so full of holes and so much and so obviously a thing of its star Tony Shaloub's odd take on American sentiment & sentimentality and so archly (at times) a self conscious 'remake/revisit' of a lost 60s/70s US TV time of larger 'innocence' (which, forget the fact that these more 'innocent' tv tecs like Rockford and Columbo were prowling the bedrooms of the rich and the shooting galleries of the black untergrundbahn at the time of Vietnam and Watergate or just post-) that I couldn't or wouldn't seek to defend it against someone's indifference or opposition the way I would a truly electric mind-bend like The Sopranos, say, or Six Feet Under...
... - both of which are perhaps, if anything, self-defeatingly radical: we get so used to their relentless evolution and convention-shredding that we cease to even notice any more. (Both are essentially - and gloriously, winningly, powerfully - inhabitations of the Family Soap Opera idiom, and in THAT sense, you can draw an unbroken line back to Peyton Place & on sideways to any other Soap on TV. But you get so used to their fleet invention and casual rule breaking, who even notices any more when a startling exemption from given form occurs, such as on 6Ft, last Sunday, when not only do we see Nate & Brenda having sex (what sort of sex they have, occasionally loving, occasionally hungry pure fucking sex, occasionally Zen wistful sex, occasionally anger displacement sex, etc, and in re which, I've long thought it would blow most Soaps out of their stagnant water if this necessarily hidden Phallus of the Soap world - ie What People Are Actually Like In Bed - were revealed [eg just think about seeing what Phil Mitchell is Actually Like In Bed, or... whoah..., Haley & Roy...]) but, for perhaps the first time ever that I can remember, an all too realistic Not Having Sex, Brenda crying off, bored, frazzled, mid fuck, sleepy, not In the Moment.... brilliant. People talk about Things "They" Don't Want You To See (usually teenboy nitemare now-now conspiracies involving 2 Jews, a bloodbank and a remote controlled mechanical shark) but this is precisely what you never seem to see in Hollywood/US TV 'love/family' scenes ... the UNsymbolic workaday Real.

Anyway, Monk.
Wouldn't defend it blah blah, BUT, I would posit that it's full of odd little wonderful moments; and that, taken as a whole, it has - like 6 Feet Under, only not so quietly revolutionary, more in the lineage of The Rockford Files - a strange and unsettling and sometimes uncommonly affecting story arc.

Is he in fact or figure a ... monk?

Well. . . he is unnaturally (and un-leading-man-on-US TV) ascetic - to a questionable hi/lo neurotic degree, a trait he must always have struggled with, but which now has poison-bloomed out to take over his life entire now that his beloved Other, his sweet wife is gone. He relates everything back to this... lack, gap, map.

In the opening credits we see his [lost] police uniform; but he now wears his own [monk's habit] uniform of unvarying cut hue fibre.
The 'work' of detection/investigation commingles with the 'work' of Mourning to a degree where they are one and the same... he is 'looking' for clues to explain lack, loss, detour, absence.
His neurosis has 'freed' him (only) into a cerebral space of heightened perception, a pitch where his constrictive obsession with EVERYTHNG IN ITS PLACE [as it should be, as it used to be, as he wishes it would be, but as it never will be again] is so acute [in both senses] he cannot but notice the MESS and fuss and dirt and ends left hanging by the workaday world and thoughtlessly accidentally callous people and then the walking dead who think only in terms of RIGHT and WRONG and how you can use one to pervert or blind or blinker the other rather than LOVE and DEATH and how you can use one to address the Other.

It really hadn't occurred to me before this instant, in fact, but this is the exact same tone essayed by M.Ward on his Transfiguration of Vincent CD. And Ward's 'dedication' there could easily be used likewise as a coda to Monk:

Except Monk keeps the loss alive but hasn't quite managed to find his own correct, apt, suitable way to put it behind him.

It's an odd programme.
On one level it's a half-admirable half-annoying near-pastiche or tribute to the SPIRIT or TONE of a more innocent TV 'tec time - the spirit of Columbo and Rockford and Quincy, programmes with fairly noticeble ethical/moral baselines; which blended light humour with often quite severe melancholy. The 'eccentricity' of e.g. Rockford or Quincy was often no more than the fact that (a la Philip Marlowe) they refused to barter down their own ethics for an easier life or bigger pay-off. Monk's emotional autism is but a degree zero of this process; his 'eccentricty' is actually a rubbing out OF all eccentricity: he sometimes barely exists, as a person.
(His two admitted 'heroes' so far were an African long distance runner. And ... Willie Nelson. Heroes of loneliness and endurance and the long game ... one wonders too, how much this reflects Shaloub's own mindset, as he is visibly no spring chicken.)

The programme has so far stood back a little from exploring the logical next step of all this - that, seeing as it's only the memory of his dead wife that 'keeps him going', any Real disruption might push Monk towards suicidal territory. But in one shocking episode - which again, juggled quirky character based humour with really quite dark plot developments - Monk seems finally to be on the trail of a clue which 'explains' his reporter wife's [really quite random, probably] death. This "clue" leads him to two twin sisters, sensitives, tealeaf gazers, clairvoyants. And just as the episode's and Monk's and the viewer's momentum seems about to crash against some form of 'revelation', one of the twins WHIPS the fluffy carpet away: but don't you remember us, Mr Monk...? We remember you ... you come here every year... to ask about your wife.
He's stuck in a detective work of mourning which has turned by cruel degrees into an eternal repetition, a scheduled 'REPEAT', forever. . .

Nice theme tune, too.


In re VINCENT GALLO [who I don't care what anyone sez I persist in liking & believing in him] and the whole fuss at Cannes over his BROWN BUNNY film - a supposed creative disaster (and what's more, it would appear, a self-admitted one...)

What if the the whole thing were designed and imagined and staged BY Gallo as a publicity not so much stunt as PRANK?

If Gallo had, in fact, re-drawn and imagined 'publicity' (something he knows a LOT about, let's not forget) AS a kind of art form? Interruption as art form and as toweringly contemptuous gesture of self-belief...?

(He has previously remarked in the past that he rates fashion photographers and video makers and others as far more on the ball than Hollywood in general, which he thinks is full of dreadfully dull people cossetted by protective PR and persauded by their minions that they're truly creative pee-bul and great macho risk takers when they're nothing of the sort...)

And what if this were just a way of TORTURING the industry with (t)his sleepwalk act of absolute hermetic vanity/self love/narcisism - a hymn to Vinnie - which moreover
actually (from what I can gather) rubs his COCK in their faces?!
Like, here I am... you all ignore me and despise me and here's my great big Italian outsider prole cock being sucked by beautiful Chloe Sevigny... what kind of a willed and charmed dream-cum-tru life have I? And what kind of a creepy life have YOU, you fanboy critic-boys in the dark who can only spit n sigh n DREAM of such things - hah, like, right, you'd ever be so make-your-own-luck risky...!
You know?

{I love him! I'm sorry, but I do. I think he's almost as talented as he himself does.

And the BIG COCK thing...?
Could this ACTUALLY be the reason four fifths of male Hollywood ACTUALLY hates him so?

And let me tell ya, if you dismiss that thought out of hand, then I'm sorry to tell you, you KNOW NOTHING about Hollywood and its stars and how they think and how they maintain their power and how it all works...

Yes, sigh, it really is JUST NOT FAIR when people can't see past your admittedly huge cock to the sensitive creative dreamer behind it. .. ah no it really really isn't.


CAT POWER in Guardian on favourite records:

"... and I must recommend The Byrds - I really think everyone should listen to 'I Wasn't Born To Follow'." - only one of my favourite tunes of ALL TIME...

AND: "[...] BOB DYLAN, her original inspiration and favourite songwriter of all time. "I highly recommend Dylan's Bootleg Tapes," she says."

How much more of an honorary PAWGIRL can this girl get...?

Is there a more beautiful line in the entire canon - both written and sung, conceived as something both written and sung - as that late moment in "Lilly, Rosemary & The Jack of Hearts" where Dylan . . .

"Lilly had already taken ALL-OF-THE-DYE-out of her hair..." ?

I can't BELIEVE Ian MacDonald [in the above mentioned The People's Music, his new collection of reviews + essays, due out in JULY] - in an otherwise pin sharp, fascinating essay, which seems to be entirely cogent for 35 pp, and then goes COMPLETELY off the rails for its final two pages - says that BLOOD ON THE TRACKS "...lacks expressive taste and finesse, let alone the musical bouyancy of his finest work. Emotion abounds here, but so does cliche. An air of mindless generalisation..."

Say WHAT???
"Mindless generalisation"?

You have to wonder when the Author here was last tangled up in real life love or loss. Who can listen to Blood On Tracks, having known heartbreak, and perceive "mindless generalisation"? It's precisely the details (as per above) that raise it above the watermark.

And as MUSIC!?
Texturally, it's the most luxuriant, seductive, fascinatingly up/down/all around exercise of Dylan's work.
AT least until 1997's Time Out of Mind, which, equally unbelievably, or perhaps even more so, I Mac demotes as "a dispiriting and possibly drunken exercise in life-loathing misanthropy..."

What? WHAT?? W-H-A-T!!!???
"Not Dark Yet" - dispiriting?

Or the way Dylan throws off little trickstery jester lines like:
"I've been all around the world, boys..."
"I've been to Sugartown, I shook the sugar down..."

Or the hilarious, risky, surreal flirtation between Dylan and the waitress in "Highlands"?

"I've still got the scars / but they're starting to heal..."

I have to say - on an unforgivably confessional note - that lines and moments like this in TIME OUT OF MIND buoyed ME up during one of the worst years of my life.

This is a BLUES record! And surely this is key to appreciating the ultimately redemptive tension between the upful sonic cloak of (i.e.) "Not Dark Yet" and its nakedly honest been-down-so-long lyrics?

Sorry: grumpy little detour there. More on this anon.


OH HOW SOON we move on, oh so blinkered and blithe. . .

Buried away on PAGE ELEVEN [!!] of The Guardian [27.5.03] at the very bottom of the page in an IN BRIEF box:

US soldier killed in Iraqi ambush
"A US soldier was killed and another injured when their supply convoy was attacked with MACHINE GUN fire and ROCKET GRENDADES in northern IRAQ yesterday."

So, is this just going to be the norm, the given, now, for ever and ever, AMEN?


Sunday morning 9.30 am sharp brovaz & sistaz!

Pastor I.P. Benjamin-Benjamine will be a preachin' and a-signifyin' on ...

"Thru the Phantasy Screen of Pretend Reverse SurVILEance:
. . . being an Extended analysis of planet Big Brother."


"Diamond life is 2 hard sometime..."

"Between yo' rocks and a hard place..."

"Taking the rap: bling as self-imprisonment in chains of pearly signifiers..."

Deep & fevered speculations on Bling Bling and rap-life materialism...


That idea I aired on Saturday ... the 131 Instances of Musical Fall or Flight?

I think I might do it. Here. Soon. Maybe.

posted by Ian 5/28/2003 09:44:00 AM

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