Literature for the Aged

Literature for the Aged

The written word: immortal, ephemeral.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sally's Dream at the Moose Lodge

(Ed. note: SALLY'S DREAM is a Bloomington based women's band playing original Pop & Roll. They recently appeared in Indianapolis at the Vogue for the A.I.M. benefit and will be returning soon to a club near you. Gus Travers in an itinerant Bloomington DJ at WQAX-FM and critic of all he surveys.)

Invading new territory is always fun and what other chance would I get to go to the Moose Lodge, I ask you? Snowball's chance in hell, buddy. So, like any good investigative reporter I took my opportunity when I got it. The Moose Lodge is located out West 2nd street, at Cory Lane. The parking lot was full but this turned out to be deceptive as once inside we saw very few people. We never discovered where all those Meese were, in the woods perhaps, or watching MTV in another room.

We waited in the handsome foyer chatting with the very pleasant lady behind the counter as we waited for a band member to sign us in. It was Chrissy, the lead guitar player, who was very happy to see some familiar faces. We were led into a spacious auditorium with a high ceiling that was covered with some kind of strange fur. There was also a huge balcony that I was never able to explore, maybe that's where everybody was. Band friends were seated at the front so we occupied a table near them. A very efficient waitress took our orders while a few disgruntled Meese could be heard complaining about all the non-members that had invaded their sanctum sanctorum. Sorry, guys, but you could have a little fun if you'd just loosen up your assholes a little.

We probably would have viewed more Moose if we'd caught the first set but were unavoidably detained by my companion's insistence on watching an episode of Mike Hammer. She said that Stacey Keech was a "hunk," with which I agreed, but couldn't decide just what he was a hunk of. This particular episode featured a guest appearance by Herbie Hancock as a talentless jazz-rock musician. Never having seen Mike Hammer before I was surprised to note that the plot and dialogue were lifted almost verbatim from that old favorite of mine, Cannon. The big difference being that in a brawl Cannon dispatched his rivals with fewer motions. Also Frank Cannon always made friends with the women he met, unlike the hump and kill approach favored by Mr. Keach.

The start of the third set was marred by technical difficulties and the unfortunate spectacle of a middle-aged gentleman in a leather jacket mimicking singer Cyndi Hammond's body english as he and his friends left. You're the one that lost out, fella, because after wading through three cover tunes the band hit their stride and performed a cover of Boys Cry that would grow hair on a melon ball. I saw old Jay Clay dancing the short hop with a long-legged woman from outer space. Some game Moose got up to have some fun and they danced tolerably well. The dance floor was a little slippery like a bowling alley. With the right shoes you had a freedom of movement impossible to achieve in a place like the Bluebird where spilled beer gums up the floor. Keyboardist/Guitarist Jenny Davis cracked a few jokes to keep things loose. I've often felt that her contribution to the band is as much psychological as musical. She completes the chemistry of the band onstage, provides another focal point for audience attention and heightens the dimension of their sound. Drummer Emily Jackson, on the other hand, like every good drummer, provides the framework upon which the band constructs its sound. What I like about Emily's drumming is not just the originality, which is the first thing you notice, but that it is spare, clean and always correct.

I overheard someone at the next table saying that they thought the band was "kinky" but that table was bombed level and a might kinky themselves judging by their not too discrete but nevertheless playful lusting for one another. About this time the band was burning down a ragged, though inspiring, Jack of Hearts that featured Chris Dickinson's right pretty voice. Besides being an ace guitar player Chris has come a long way in confidence about her singing, adding that dash of paprika to Cyndi Hammond's basic white sauce. I'd love to hear her sing Honky Tonk Girl or Sleepless Nights or anything really.
There is no doubt that Sally's Dream gets much of its stage presence from Cyndi Hammond who seems natural there. She has complete control of the stage, expressing the band's mostly original songs in a way that the audience can feel and understand. After seeing a series of bands that seem to shrink or curl up on stage, like they don't know quite what to do with their hands, it's refreshing to see someone who knows what she's doing and can breathe a little soul into her performance.

A boss Moose kept approaching the stage asking them to play something contemporary like Barbara Mandrell, something people knew. They had spent a lot of time working on a country set but unfortunately concentrated on country classics which is fine but where were the hits? It's an old argument and the Moose did see them perform before they hired them and should have known what they were getting into but you can't blame them for wanting their members to have a good time and I guess that I'm impressed that they tried to bring their people something different.

At intermission Arthur Staggs won $525 in a lodge contest but the poor sap wasn't present so he couldn't collect. I went out to take a pee and noted the bulletin board where there was a long list of Moose who had yet to pay their dues. C'mon, you guys, your lodge needs your support.

For their last set the Dream decided to play for their ravenous fans who were about the only people left. And they kicked it hard, let me tell you. You follow a band around long enough and you know what its like when they're good and you know what its like when they're bad and if you're lucky you get to know what it's like when they're everything that they're meant to be and, good buddies, that time for Sally's Dream was their last set at the Moose Lodge. God knows what the remaining Moose made of all those funny looking people with bushed up, dyed hair, dancing a hole in their floor but by that time we'd drunk enough of their beer that we didn't care and had about as much fun as you can have anywhere which is why I go out. How about you?
Gus Travers 1984

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Moment

He was born. With a gasp he remembered his previous life. For once it hadn't ended so badly, he hadn't died violently or alone. Oh! Now he remembered all the times he had lived. He was doomed to live all lives because, one day, when he had lived them all, he would understand—become, you know, god.
He wondered where he was. This must be Mother, and her warm breast, which she offered him.
“And Father, he's quite a bit older than the last guy. And who are the three coots offering gifts?
That looks like a donkey! In my bedroom! My folks have shacked up in a manger! Where the hell am I?” He looked around desperately for escape.
Then he yawned. With every sip of Mother's milk the baby's thoughts became a little more cloudy. He forgot the shopkeeper's life he'd lived in Memphis, the cobbler in Macedon, the farmer in Gaul, the dancing girl in Rome. He forgot them all as he started his new life, in a manger, in Bethlehem.

The 3 Wise Asses--Bear's Christmas 2014

The story that poses the question: If there were three wise men, what did they ride?

It was a cold evening, the sky clear and dark as the three wise asses stood tied up beside the humble manger in the little town of Bethlehem. A boy passed among them, giving each a handful of parched grain.

“What's the special occasion?” grumbled the one called Meg, but the others were too busy chewing to answer.

Suddenly, the door swung open and the boss came out. “Bring Meg over here,” he hissed. “Quickly!”

The boys untied her and led her inside the shabby building where the animal was brought before a tableau of a tired looking couple and their newborn child. Meg snorted nervously.

Impossibly, the infant began speaking.

“Don't be afraid, Meg.”

Meg looked around but no one seemed to notice. “I didn't know you little ones could talk . . . for that matter, I didn't know I could speak Aramaic!”

The baby smiled. “You can't, but that won't stop you.”

“Right . . . well what can I do for you? . . .”

“Jesus . . . I guess I just wanted to talk to somebody before all this . . . rigmarole begins.”

“Say what?” the ass brayed.

“You and I are a lot alike,” Jesus said. “We take on people's burdens with very little thanks. In your case, you carry people and their belongings until the day you can't do it any more, then they get rid of you.”

“Hey, Buford-Saul has been good to me.”

“No doubt,” replied Jesus with a laugh.

“Well, what burden do you have, baby?”

The infant sighed. “Just the whole fuckin' world.”

Shocked, Meg backed away a step. “It's not right for a baby to use language like that, even if he is only pretending to talk.”

Jesus smiled sadly. “Here's the deal, Meg. Once I've grown up I'll give people a message of compassion and hope and the secret for a happy, fulfilled life—treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. Pretty simple.”

“Even an ass can remember that!”

“Then I'll sacrifice myself to drive the point home.”

Meg stared at him. “That seems . . . extreme.”

The baby shrugged. “Believe me, it'll be worth it. But what chaps my ass is that I'll barely be with the angels above when men start harnessing the power of my words to their own ends—for power, for money, for plain ornery meanness.”

Distressed, Meg wailed, “What can I do? I'm just an ass!”

Jesus laughed as his mother lifted him to her breast. “At least you admit it, dear Meg, at least you admit it!”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

God is only standing there, ego eyes watering like a typhoon. Eye here, eye there, watch 'em join together. A woman wants to hold his hand but he won't let her. The unfortunate occasion of which we speak, begotten son of Pan, standard drift on nightmare Ert, doing some bizarre rendition of a Russian squat dance, extending his long legs and clicking his cowboy heels on the street.
A red-faced girl laughed as she watched him, beer bottle in one hand, a cigarette between her fingers.
Others did the Herky Jerky, catalepting a frantic mosh. That's how it started. The heat and motion had them warping like cardboard, feet planted solidly, firm bodies arched . . .
But I wasn't dancing tonight, things were too damn scary.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Last Christmas Story

It was Christmas morning and a child played with his new toy, a “L’il Scientist” kit. There were test tubes and beakers, scales and diodes, a microscope and telescope, a mass spectrometer, and a pristine particle accelerator buried in the back yard.

He mixed up chemicals for awhile: turning water into wine and back again, learning the joys of vinegar and baking soda, nickel-plating his sister’s glass eye—until the fumes from the sulfur volcano he’d built caused his parents to suggest he play outside.

Disconsolately, he kicked around the faded clumps of grass in the back yard, sharp wind cutting through his hoodie like a knife through the frog he’s dissected and left in the bathtub. “I guess they ain’t found that yet,” he grumbled while kicking at a rock that turned out to be frozen dog poop. To get out of the cold wind he entered the particle accelerator’s bunker. Soon he was flipping switches and watching the readouts as a deep and delightful thrumming filled the building.

Suddenly, fireworks erupted as relativistic heavy ions collided.

“Let’s see what we got here,” he muttered while wheeling out his new double-ultra-microscope. Broken chunks of gold atoms littered his screen like jalopies at a demolition derby. “Cool!” he enthused.

Then he saw a speck of light. Focusing, he realized that it was actually a quickly growing bubble. “Outstanding!” he said, ramping up the magnification. Specks of light were embedded in the bubble like raisins in a muffin. “Imagine that,” he muttered, seeing tiny vortices. He focused on one of the little whirlpools and saw it was composed of millions of tiny sparks, some red, blue, orange, ultramarine and white. He chose one of the sparks near the edge, a yellow-whitish one.

He found that it had dark companions, small clumps of dirt and gas circled about it like horses on a merry-go-round. The big ones looked like swirly marbles and were cool enough, he supposed, but he quickly honed in on the one that had oxygen in its atmosphere and lots of water. He saw land, too, mountains, deserts, and verdant forests. He gasped—roads and buildings! He pushed his microscope all the way to its limit, wishing he’d asked Santa for the triple-ultra kit, until he was just able to make out a small building outside a village, where animals were housed—a barn or manger he supposed. There, three ornately garbed gentlemen offered gifts to a newborn child.

“Billy!” he heard his mother call, “Time for church.”

Reluctantly he turned off the monitor. Too bad, he thought, the bubble universe he’d accidentally created would be gone by the time he returned, evaporated back into the vacuum from where it had emerged. He’d just have to make another one tomorrow, he supposed, turning out the lights as somewhere a wise man noticed that the star that had guided him and the others to Bethlehem had disappeared.

And so will I.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dark End of the Street's Fan Box