Wednesday, May 27, 2020

JOY ON FIRE // “UH HUH” // OFFICIAL VIDEO // 2020.



“Uh Huh” is a protest song, during a protest year, during a baffling era.

The lead instrumentation—John Paul Carillo’s bass and guitar; Chris Olsen’s drums and percussion—alternates between harrowing restraint and thumping outcry. Anna Meadors plays the song’s dirge on her alto saxophone; the song, then, absorbs the universal lamentations of people who’ve been deprived of other people. When all four of us participate at once, including the howling vocals, there is a variety of madness that we could call liberation, or honesty. Listeners will be rewarded again and again by the virtuosity of the musicians. The outro, in particular, estimates the emotional quandary of marching forward, despite a societal environment that cannot remediate its own destructiveness.

“Uh Huh” refers to brothers in the universal sense: close and distant family, comrades, colleagues. We are protesting an inexcusable societal blight like gun crimes, on the one hand, but many protests can be echo-located in “Uh Huh.” (What’s your protest?) In the lyrics, a gun is pointed at an unarmed person. This fundamental inequality can transfer from one situation to another. You’re powerless at a crucial moment, you fear for your life, you lack a basic resource. You struggle to envision a future, uh huh.
                                                                 
The artists who created the video—Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac—have stamped their narrative on the song. By turns eerie, disturbing, and deeply righteous, the video commences with the thermal imagery of headless bodies trudging toward a blank destination, at an orderly pace, their backs to the viewer. Without being told, we know that many of them are doomed. There is a gun-scope encircling a partial portrait, and an incongruous flag unfurling, and a litter of human shapes strewn upon a stained ecosystem that’s struggling, itself, to persevere.

De voi depinde,” said the poet Paul Celan: “It’s up to you.” What he meant was: the individual really matters. By design, the band does not appear. Our faces don’t outweigh the importance of the protest. What will our brothers be singing? What will our, what will our brothers be singing? If we deaden ourselves to loss, we’ll never challenge the status quo.

Play this song loud. Expect punk-jazz. Topple the establishment.




Joy on Fire is

John Paul Carillo (bass, guitar)
Anna Meadors (baritone and alto saxophones, vocals)
Chris Olsen (drums, percussion)
Dan Gutstein (lyrics, vocals)

“Uh Huh” composed by Carillo / Gutstein / Joy on Fire (2020)

Joy on Fire formed in Baltimore 12 years ago and is currently headquartered in Trenton, N.J.  Featured last year on NPR's All Songs Considered, the band is scheduled to play a Tiny Desk Concert in July.  Its most recent release is the Thunderdome EP, which features "Uh Huh," and is available on vinyl only at the Joy on Fire website.  Maryland label Procrastination Records will release the band's next full length album, Hymn, in June. States of America, the band's first full length album with vocals, and which will also include "Uh Huh," is currently being mixed with release plans to be decided.

Video and band photograph by Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac (2020). 


Monday, May 18, 2020

FOX, BEARD, ANNIVERSARY: A PHOTO-ESSAY DESPATCH (SIC) FROM CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN.








key to the images (click on them to enlarge)

1 and 2. The fox and I have bridged the vulpine-person divide and become friends. However, she is feeding her cubs these days and has little time to shoot the baloney. Here, she is pictured galloping toward the den with unlucky prey (a squirrel?) in her mouth.

3. Beard / Beered. That would be, of course, a stout. 

4. I made a mask! (Out of an old t-shirt.)

5. My parents, Ruth and Marty, getting married, 60 years ago. I am “embedded” with them, in order to help them survive the pandemic.

6. My parents today, sharing a nice moment at the kitchen table, having been married for 60 years. Many more happy returns to them!

The days ahead: Soon, there will be a video release by Joy on Fire, the band I collaborate with, and eventually I hope to “re-launch” my latest book release, which got swallowed up by the early days of the nationwide lockdown. Thanks for visiting this blog—I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. —Dan

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

THE NEW FOX IN MY LIFE: A DESPATCH (SIC) FROM CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN.


recognition
Behold, the vixen assembles herself for devotion. Yes, we believe this fine creature to be a female of the species. Our relationship started this way. She presents herself and I devote myself to her presentation. She’s in no hurry to be foxy; she’s quite foxy as it is. She encounters tens of twenties of twos of persons, while I typically encounter but one vulpine soul. Yes, we are socially distancing ourselves properly in the Coronavirus era, but we always begin with this moment of recognition on the grassy, grassy lea.



aloofness
In this stage of the vixen-human devotional, the fox asserts her aloofness. A person could outfox another person, a fox could outfox a person, a fox could outfox another fox, but a person will never outfox a fox, how could he? He is not the fox. She is the fox, and she is, oh yes, fundamentally aloof. She knows the damage that a pelt-monger could cause, and she won’t become fodder for a pre-barbaric line in a Tennessee Williams play. [In Brando nasal voice:] “Where are your fox-pieces, Stella?” Lo, she will endure.



the chase is on
The fox is low to the ground. Why does this matter? Because there are roots and limbs, god dammit, there are creeks and banks. Have I taken a tumble? Yes, I have tumbled into the freaking creek! Would you believe me if I said that the fox waited for me? A fellow can grow quite emotional in such a moment. Sitting there, in the chilly muck, wondering just what in the Jiminy Cricket he is doing with his life, but there sitteth the vixen, beautiful and vigilant. Would you believe me if I said that we ran through the foxgloves together? Well, you shouldn’t. I have no idea what foxgloves look like. But we have run together side by side, the fox and I.

coda
There may be more foxes before long. I know this because I’ve seen a second fox: le renard. He looked as if he were wearing silk pajamas, and he is, and he deserves every single bit of that glorious feeling, the lucky guy.

SELF-QUARANTINED WITH MY ELDERLY PARENTS: A DESPATCH (SIC) FROM CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN.



I am with my parents, both of whom are in their eighties. Every morning we hold a mandatory Staff Meeting (pictured above) in the kitchen. We discuss our approach to the day. Mostly, we discuss the ways in which we irritate each other. Truth be told, as Chief of Staff, these meetings are dominated by me describing the many ways that my parents extensively aggravate me. After that, we move on to provisions. I am sent once a week to a local greengrocer, and since I get to—since I’m now encouraged to—wear a blue bandanna around my face, I’m eager to go. I pay my bill, thus I’m hardly a robber; I just look like one. After provisions, we address cleanliness. We agreed to give the twice-monthly cleaning woman a paid leave, which is nice of my parents, except that I have to do all the cleaning! (We live in a medium-sized apartment.) But in lockdown / quarantine, the thing is: chores are good, they organize the day. I’ve also developed cultural awakening routine that I’m emplacing for at least a month, and probably longer. Here are my details, quips, activities, discoveries, notes, suggestions, et cetera, in digest form. Enjoy.

ULTIMATE GOAL
To get my parents through this crisis, healthy. The elderly have a lot to teach us. In no way should they—ever—be sacrificed in the name of Wall Street.




HIGHBROW & POP CULTURE
Current books: I am finishing the second half of W. Somerset Maugham’s collected stories, and the selected stories of Lucia Berlin. Both reads are enjoyable: one is swashbuckling, the other is comedy-amid-tragedy or vice versa.
International Netflix mega-series: Babylon Berlin (lotsa Berlin!) has been the best. Even as it’s more “fantastic” than Peaky Blinders, it’s more believable, and the performance scenes, in particular, are astonishing. Interestingly, the two series are linked by the PTSD symptoms of the main characters, who suffered through mental anguish in World War I. When English rock band The Fall asks “Who Makes the Nazis?” in their album Hex Enduction Hour, well, Babylon Berlin appears to be answering that question.
Domestic mega-series: Better Call Saul. This character-driven series is better—by far—than its leaky predecessor, Breaking Bad. It’s not even debatable.
New rock ‘n’ roll discovery: My friend Casey Smith brought Girl Band, from Dublin, Ireland, to our attention. They’re in the same league as Sleaford Mods, who will be appearing, hopefully, October 1st, in D.C.
Last ten jazz albums: Louis Armstrong, The Great Chicago Concert; Albert Ayler Quartet, The Hilversum Session; Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World, Vol. 1; Anthony Braxton, News from the 70s; John Coltrane, Giant Steps; Miles Davis, Milestones; Walter Davis Jr., Davis Cup; Booker Ervin, The Freedom Book; Charles Earland, Black Talk; Curtis Fuller, Blues-ette.

EXERCISE
Average daily running distance: 5.25 miles.
YouTube abs workout: The tatted guy at “officialthenx.” That workout is brutal, and I resent the tatted guy every day of my life.
YouTube pushups workout: Mike Rashid’s warrior pushups.
YouTube H.I.I.T. workout: “abnormal_beings.”  
Additional exercise: 40 minutes stationary bicycle + extensive burnout with 10 lb. sand dumbbell extravaganza.
Physical exercise summary: Running, cycling, upper body, and H.I.I.T., two to three hours daily.  
Animals I’ve seen while exercising: I’ve developed a cozy relationship with a foxy fox. Otherwise, there has been an increase in raptors: eagles, owls, and hawks. I see dozens of deer each day. I never see the white breasted nuthatch, but I hear it laughing at me, all the time.
Crossword puzzle: New York Times (available online via Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)
My Duolingo language: Francais.
Also: Could we get one sport to come back, with disease-free players housed in isolation, and games played in empty arenas / stadiums? Prem? Baseball? Shinny? The boost from that would be exponential.




DIET, SHOPPING, & SUNDRY ACTIVITIES
Diet: Vegetarian (I’ve earned my three year pin!) Thus far, it has been easy to keep this diet, except for the douchebags who are hoarding cans of black beans as if they were toilet paper. May your hoarding of the former lead you to require even more of the latter!
Great new recipe: Sweet potato vegetarian chili.
Beers on hand: Porters and Stouts. My friend Sausages also gave me a bottle (to be opened soon) of Laphroaig 10 year. I haven’t been drinking much, though. It’s hard to do this all alone. If you want to have a drink—or a coffee—let’s make a virtual date!
T.P. situation: Average. If there’s a gentle increase in pooping, we’ll still be all right.
Shopping strategy: I wear gloves and bandanna mask. I hand sanitize afterwards and wash my hands before unpacking anything. We place perishables in the fridge. (They are washed in cold water before use.) (We may switch to washing in advance.) Everything else is quarantined for three days in a side area, to allow for any surfaces to straighten out. I wash my hands again.

DEEP THOUGHT / LIFE CHANGES
Like many people, I have been examining my life closely. When this crisis ends, and it will end, despite the criminal mishandling of it by the already-impeached White House “leader,” I am going to make significant changes in my life. I will be talking to some of you, Dear Readers, about these changes when the time comes. Likewise, if you have anything monumental to relate in my direction, I’m here. I’ll be here for the foreseeable future. Mostly, be safe and stay healthy. May your loved ones be healthy, too.

QUIP
There should be a movie entitled Quaranteen Wolf, starring Quarantina Turner, directed by Quentin Quarantino.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ONE FINE DAY: HOW A NEARLY FORGOTTEN FREAKBEAT TUNE IMPROBABLY COMBINED SOME OF THE GREATEST BRITISH (AND AMERICAN) MUSICIANSHIP OF ITS ERA.



Written by a member of the Kinks and performed by half of Led Zeppelin, the little-known 1964 Freakbeat rocker “One Fine Day” does not disappoint. You may listen to it above, Dear Reader, via the good wonders of the internet. Play it loud and dance with abandon. The singer, Shel Naylor from Coventry, is really named Rob Woodward, a bloke who went on to do some unusual things with Stavely Makepeace and Lieutenant Pigeon. That he also played the ukulele and clarinet—in addition to piano and guitar—should’ve offered a clue as to his future eccentricity, but I get ahead of myself.

The Kink in question is guitarist Dave Davies, and the members of Led Zeppelin in question are Jimmy Page (guitar) and John Paul Jones (bass). Led Zeppelin wouldn’t materialize for a few more years, of course, but the Kinks would become an international sensation the very same year with “You Really Got Me” among other tunes. 1964 could’ve been worse, musically. David Bowie recorded his first single, “Liza Jane,” and Jimi Hendrix made his first recordings with the Isley Brothers. Also, a fellow named Rob Woodward cut two songs as Shel Naylor for Decca: “One Fine Day” b/w “It’s Gonna Happen Soon.” The drummer was thought to be the legendary Bobby Graham. Presumably, Messieurs Page, Jones, and Graham were the backing vocalists. Outside, it was London, everywhere you looked.

The Kinks might’ve recorded the song themselves, but instead, Davies gave it to Naylor, a teenager at the time. Noting the influence of The Ventures, an American group famous for its instrumental hit “Walk, Don’t Run,” Davies relied on a Ventures-like chord structure in banging out “One Fine Day” for Naylor on the piano; this, in the office of Davies’ manager. Apparently, the Kinks made a demo, but only so Naylor could understand the song. Given the benefit of—more than 50 years of—hindsight, I do believe that one can hear The Ventures, The Kinks, and Led Zeppelin in “One Fine Day.” (I also hear “Lonely Traveler” by Jimmy Lee Robinson, but that’s some archaeology for another post.)

As for the song’s narrative situation, we can tell that the singer’s “baby” ain’t around, at present. She will, however, come back home “whoa yeahhh one fine day,” according to Naylor. She seems to have instigated the separation. He still loves her, apparently. You can interrogate his value system, or not, Dear Reader, but knowing London weather, he might be waiting for a while. In the meantime (thankfully!) everyone contented himself to strenuously rock out, in the postmodern tradition. 




Shel Naylor, the music act, didn’t prosper, and Woodward abandoned the career of his alter ego in favor of vastly different projects: first, Stavely Makepeace, and later, Lieutenant Pigeon, which produced a 1973 chart-topping UK hit with “Mouldy Old Dough.” The Stavely Makepeace material is collected in a 2004 compilation album, The Scrap Iron Rhythm Revue, which features a few interesting songs, including “Slippery Rock ‘70s.” Critic Richie Unterberger describes the Lieutenant Pigeon sound as, in part, “…martial percussion, century-old sounding parlor music, and weird insertions of fifes, rickety pianos, and half-buried miscellaneous vocal growls.” In addition to “Mouldy Old Dough,” devotees of Lieutenant Pigeon cite “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” and “Desperate Dan” as worthy listens. In every song that there’s a piano, it’s Woodward’s mother on the ebonies and ivories.

Thus, the chord progressions of a successful American instrumental band (The Ventures) were channeled by a member of an arriving British megaband (Dave Davies of The Kinks) to produce a song (“One Fine Day”) for an unknown Coventry teenager (Shel Naylor / Rob Woodward), who’d go on to produce hits as part of two eccentric British groups (Stavely Makepeace and Lieutenant Pigeon), but not before two future members of, arguably, the greatest hard rock / heavy metal band ever assembled (Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin) would back Naylor / Woodward—by “back” we mean “blarst forth!”—on his Decca A-side, “One Fine Day.” Whew. You get the idea. In short: “One Fine Day” rocks. Enjoy, enjoy, hoy hoy!!!


Sources of Information
One Fine Day at 45cat
One Fine Day at Discogs
Freakbeat article at Wikipedia
Interview with Dave Davies at Record Collector Mag
Shel Naylor blurb at Jimmy Page Session Man site
Bobby Graham article at Wikipedia
Mouldy Old Music page at Discogs
Ventures page at Allmusic
Decca Biographical insert for “One Fine Day” (see photo, above)


Thursday, March 5, 2020

BUILDINGS WITHOUT MURDERS



Check out the trailer for my new novel, Buildings Without Murders, published by Atmosphere Press on March 1, 2020. Visit my brand-new website or the Atmosphere website for more information and purchasing options (paperback and e-book). In my base-town of Washington, D.C., Buildings Without Murders is available at Politics and Prose on Connecticut Avenue. The video is by multimedia artists Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac; visit their website for more information on their projects. Finally, consider following my Instagram page, where I’m just getting started. I’ll follow you, if you follow me. Thanks for taking a look! 

The video is captions-enabled, or here’s the excerpt from the book that’s read aloud in the trailer: “LaRousse’s smartphone buzzed. It registered the presence of several GPS pins orbiting her own signal, a collection of competent kissers, street kids, philanthropists, and rough-house run-rioters demonstrating recalcitrant intentions. Half her body shivered in a downdraft. She traced the origins of this chilly whirlybird by sizing up the architecture of the tallest crane, from anchor to tower head, until she espied the very phenomenon that the News Update had reported for the past several broadcasts, up high, adrift above everyday birds and skyscrapers. A single, available cloud bank blundered between the forces of opposing currents, the defiant and the stoic, its magenta-white lightning bolt fizzling in a brisk state of perpetual discharge. The cloud hauled a stroke of incomplete, ornamental lightning.”


Sunday, February 2, 2020

ELECTABLE AND COURAGEOUS: BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT.

 Bernie Sanders represents more individual donors than 
any other candidate. (Photo: Rebecca Cook / Reuters)


You go about your day and you encounter some Democrats who insist, “I’m for Biden, because he’s electable,” but when you convince these good souls to cut that out, to forget the “electable routine” for just one minute, and instead, credit the candidate closest to their value set, these good souls will invariably say—about nine times out of ten—Bernie Sanders. We’ll get to Bernie’s electability in a minute. Hold the line, please.

I don’t happen to dislike Joe Biden as vehemently as some hardcore liberals do. On paper, he presents remarkable credentials: Vice President for eight years, Senator forever, working class advocate, et cetera. He likes Amtrak. I like the train, too. Apparently, Trump fears Biden the most, or so we’d imagine, owing to the entire impeachment thing—maybe you’ve heard of this?— that’s been predictably stubbed-out by Senate Republicans.

Yet Biden can be maddeningly error-prone. He seems to be running—as Hillary Clinton twice did—because he wants to be president, rather than because he can communicate a compelling vision for his presidency. In any event, the mainstream media has been searching for a younger, less baffling version of “Sleepy Joe.” They have tried to champion Pete Buttigieg and Amy “Comb-uchar” but it’s hard to know what either of those two candidates really stands for, aside from the DNC talking points.

Noting that the Democratic electorate is of two minds—OMFG if the party should actually nominate a genuine liberal—the mainstream media has also been searching for an alternative to Bernie Sanders: left, but not left-wing. Some outlets have championed Elizabeth Warren. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I look at footage of Warren, I feel as if I’m about to get a C+ on my term paper. It perpetually appears like she’s detecting a sour odor, which does conjure the teaching corps in higher education (her former metier.) I know, I know, she has a plan for that sour odor.

Bernie’s in his upper seventies. He’s suffered a well-publicized heart attack. He represents a state that will likely vote for the Democrat no matter who leads the ticket. Some people call him “socialist” and / or “communist.” All of these fabulous highlights might have disqualified him during another election cycle, but we here at Blood And Gutstein note that Bernie’s the only Democratic candidate who’s been broadening the tent, via the trademark small donations, since 2016. In particular, young people hoot & holler for him. And if you can say one thing about Donald Trump’s ascendancy, it’s canceled any conventional wisdom about who might run and who can win. 


     AOC’s endorsement underscores the sentiments 
of young voters. (Photo: J Pat Carter / Getty)


It’s also clear to us that Bernie isn’t just spinning yarns because they might “play well” among voters. He’s been advocating many of the same policies now for decades, and his pledge to drive-out big money from American politics is the single most identifiable policy among all candidates for the Democratic nomination. His vision is clear and courageous. We also admire his zeal in campaigning with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is one of the most dynamic politicians in the world.

The Republican presidential nominees often succeed in positioning themselves as “tough guys” (even as many of the same “tough guys” deftly evaded military duty when called upon to serve) and toughness does resonate among voters in November. Should Bernie win the Democratic nomination, he’ll have to project toughness, not only in standing up to the forthcoming negative barrages from the right, but in leading during an era of unprecedented global challenges. Before that, however, it’s voters like you and me who must demonstrate toughness, by making the correct choice—Bernie—in 2020.