Tuesday, April 15, 2014

July 1972, posthaste


Hunter Thompson:

Now, walking down a long empty white corridor in the Atlanta airport on a Sunday night in July, I had a very clear memory of my last visit to this place -- but it seemed like something that had happened five years ago, instead of only five months.  The Lindsay campaign was a loose, upbeat trip while it lasted, but there is a merciless kind of "out of sight, out of mind" quality about a losing presidential campaign . . .

As it turned out, the Lindsay campaign was fatally flawed from the start. 

It was all tip and no iceberg -- the exact opposite of the slow-building McGovern juggernaut....

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

July 13, 1972:

When I got back to the Doral, I found a message saying to call Senator McGovern, URGENT....We were ushered in rather quickly....

McGovern was as composed, natural, unaffected and wryly humorous as ever. 

I don't know why one always expects that winning the nomination will produce an immense change in a man you know well;

but one always does (or at least I always do), and then one is astonished to see that they are about the same today as they were yesterday. 

(It is different, though, when they are elected President.)...

George said he had been trying to reach me about Kevin White, the mayor of Boston, whose name had inexplicably boiled up in the last moments of the vice presidential consideration.

Keith Richards:

I remember the gig in Boston on July 19, 1972, for two reasons.  The first was the motorcade the Boston police provided to get us to the stadium when their buddies in Rhode Island had wanted to lock us up....I got arrested. 

And Mick and Bobby Keys and Marshall Chess demanded to be arrested with me....

But in Boston that day there was a riot going on in the South End.  And the mayor of Boston [Kevin White] was saying, you let those [people] go right now, because I've got to deal with this riot, and don't give me a Rolling Stones riot on the same day.  And so we were sprung, and these cops escorted us to Boston posthaste, with outriders and civic fanfare.

Pat Moynihan:

13 July 1972

Dr. Clark Kerr
Carnegie Commission on Higher Education

Dear Clark:

...I went to the Harvard Commencement this year....If, as would seem likely, the Administration [Nixon admin.] is returned to office, I would hope some efforts would be made to establish better relations with the university world. 

I cannot approve what has gone on the past four years; on either side. 

Perhaps if Richard Nixon is re-elected and it is finally over -- no more chance to beat him, no more chance for him to beat -- some persons might grow more sensible.  I grow contemptuous of the leaders of higher education who seek to secure the good opinion of their undergraduates by vulgar attacks on the President of the United States. 

I mean vulgar.  Not a trace of elegance....

My impression of our graduating class this year was of persons who had apparently scarcely had an adult conversation in their full four years. ...

Fear And Loathing:  On The Campaign Trail '72.  Hunter S. Thompson.  Copyright 1973 - Straight Arrow / Warner Books.
Journals, 1952-2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.  Edited -- Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007 - Penguin.
Life.  Keith Richards, with James Fox.  Copyright 2010 - Back Bay / Little, Brown.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan:  A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.  Edited -- Steven R. Weisman.  Copyright 2010 - Public Affairs / (Perseus Books Group).


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

beyond heaven

------------------- [excerpt / Keith Richards - Life] ------------------- The first time the Stones went to America, we felt we'd died and gone to heaven.

It was the summer of '64.

Everybody had their own little thing about America.

Charlie would go down to the Metropole when it was still swinging, and see Eddie Condon.  The first thing I did was visit Colony Records and buy every Lenny Bruce album I could find.

Yet I was amazed by how old-fashioned and European New York seemed -- quite different to what I'd imagined.  Bellboys and maitre d's, all that sort of thing.  Unnecessary fluff and very unexpected.  It was as if somebody had said, "These are the rules" in 1920 and it hadn't changed a bit since.

On the other hand, it was the fastest-moving modern place you could be.

And the radio!  You couldn't believe it after England.  Being there at a time of a real musical explosion, sitting in a car with the radio on was beyond heaven.  You could turn the channels and get ten country stations, five black stations, and if you were traveling the country and they faded out, you just turned the dial again and there was another great song.

Black music was exploding.  It was a powerhouse.  At Motown they had a factory but without turning out automatons.  We lived off Motown on the road, just waiting for the next Four Tops or the next Temptations.  Motown was our food, on the road and off. 

Listening to car radios through a thousand miles to get to the next gig. 

That was the beauty of America. 

We used to dream of it before we got there.

{Life, by Keith Richards, with James Fox.  Copyright 2010, Little Brown.}


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

too content to play a duet

Lucia's friends -- or, bridge-playing partners -- from her social circle are flooded out, so she and her friend Georgie invite the "refugees" to stay in their homes temporarily until the crisis is over, in E.F. Benson's novel, The Worshipful Lucia.

Of course, people like to be generous but then it becomes a pain....

------------------- [excerpt] -------------- "...Dear me, for the last fortnight I've hardly opened a book."

"I can imagine that," said he.  "Even I, who had only the Padre in the house, couldn't settle down to anything.  He was always coming in and out, wanting some ink in his bedroom, or a piece of string, or change for a shilling."

"Multiply it by three.  And she treated me all the time as if I was a hotelkeeper, and she wasn't pleased with her room or her food but made no formal complaint...." ---------------- [stop excerpt]

It's just so closely observed (or -- imagined), so mundane, silly, and true -- and tiny.  Tiny, tiny, like highly-skilled needlework. 

Delicate, like a soufflé.

Tart, like a lemon.

---------------------- [earlier excerpt] ----------- Lucia crunched a piece of coffee sugar in a meditative manner.

"An interesting study," she said.  "You know how devoted I am to psychological research, and I learned a great deal this last fortnight.  Major Benjy was not very clever when he wooed and won her, but I think marriage has sharpened his wits.  Little bits of foxiness, little evasions, nothing, of course, of a very high order, but some inkling of ingenuity and contrivance.  I can understand a man developing a certain acuteness if he knew Elizabeth was always just round the corner.  The instinct of self-protection.  There is a character in Theophrastus very like him; I must look it up.  Dear me, for the last fortnight I've hardly opened a book."

---------- [later excerpt] ----------- {Lucia:}  "...Let's go into the garden room.  My dear, how delicious to know that Benjy won't be there, smoking one of his rank cigars, or little Evie, running about like a mouse, so it always seemed to me, among the legs of chairs and tables."

"Hurrah for one of our quiet evenings again," said he.

It was with a sense of restored well-being that they sank into their chairs, too content in this relief from strain to play duets.  Georgie was sewing a border of lace onto some new doilies for finger bowls, and Lucia found the Characters of Theophrastus, and read to him in the English version the sketch of Benjy's prototype.

{The Worshipful Lucia, by E.F. Benson.  Copyright 1935, Doubleday, Doran & Company.  Copyright 1977, Harper & Row.}


Monday, April 7, 2014

how's tricks?

1979.  March 4

I got back from Richmond in a heavy fog about noon today, 40 minutes late ----------------- [excerpt] ------------------ , and then lunched with Arthur Burns....He was in a reminiscent mood and told stories about George Humphrey, whom he regarded as a great phoney, Eisenhower, whom he respected, Kennedy, for whom, he said, "I came to acquire great respect and affection; he always did his homework."

I asked what his estimate was of Nixon's intellectual qualities.  "Oh, he would have been a first-rate professor of political science or law in any of our best universities," Burns said.  "He had a powerful, well-organized mind.  It was a pleasure to watch him take hold of a problem and break it down.

Of course he was much more interested in foreign than in domestic affairs."  I asked him whether he had been surprised by the Watergate revelations.  He paused for a moment (he is a great pauser), then said slowly, "No, I was not.

I had a foretaste of it."

He described an incident in 1971 when he had come out for an incomes policy and Nixon, one evening on the Sequoia, had told Charles Colson, "The time has come to cut Arthur down to size."  There followed a series of White House leaks designed to discredit Burns.

After Colson found God, he came to Burns, told him the story and sought his forgiveness.

Arthur said:  "I wouldn't have minded it so much if Nixon had said that to Colson in a passing mood of irrritation.  But he said it a very cool, collected, considered way."  I asked whether he ever saw Nixon anymore.  He said, "Well, I'm not sure you would approve, but I call him every New Year's Day to wish him well.  It takes hours before I can bring myself to do it, but he is such a lonely man living such a sad life; so I grit my teeth and do it."

{Journals.  1952 - 2000.  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.  Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007.  The Penguin Press, New York.}


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

the real blues purists

Blues aficionados in the '60s were a sight to behold.  They met in little gatherings like early Christians, but in the front rooms in southeast London. ----------------- [excerpt, Keith Richards autobiography] ---------------- There was nothing else necessarily in common amongst them at all; they were all different ages and occupations.  It was funny to walk into a room where nothing else mattered except he's playing the new Slim Harpo and that was enough to bond you all together.

There was a lot of talk of  matrix numbers. 

There would be these muttered conversations about whether you had the bit of shellac that was from the original pressing from the original company. 

Later on, everybody would argue about it. 

Mick and I were smirking at each other across the room, because we were only there to find out a bit more about this new collection of records that had just arrived that we'd heard about.  The real magnet was "Hell, I'd love to be able to play like that."  But the people you have a meet to get the latest Little Milton record! 

The real blues purists were very stuffy and conservative, full of disapproval, nerds with glasses deciding what's really blues and what ain't.  I mean, these cats know?  They're sitting in the middle of Bexleyheath in London on a cold and rainy day, "Diggin' My Potatoes" . . . Half of the songs they're listening to, they have no idea of what they are about....They have their idea of what the blues are....For better or worse it was their passion.

And it certainly was mine too, but I wasn't prepared to discuss it.  I wouldn't argue about it; I would just say, "Can I get a copy?  I know how they're playing it, but I just need to check."  That's what we lived for, basically....getting a chance to hear the new B.B. King or Muddy Waters.

{Life - Keith Richards with James Fox - Little Brown - 2010}


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

records, contacts, dogs

A black and white photo of a railway station under rubble after being hit by a bomb

When  a person thinks about World War II, we think about England and America being Allies, but when we think some more, we realize on our respective home-fronts, we did not have the same experience.  England was bombed by the Luftwaffe --

I was BORN -- in a crossfire hurricane --
Bomp-BOMM--ba ba BAH -- ba Bah BAH

Rolling Stone Keith Richards, born 1943, recalls the phrase "before the war" being what the adults used to say a lot, when he was a boy in post-war Dartmouth, a London suburb.

"Before the war it wasn't this way."
"Before the war we used to do it that way."
"Before the war..."

--------------------- [excerpt, K. Richards autobiography] ------------------ When I was growing up, it was heavy fog almost all winter, and if you've got two or three miles to walk to get back home, it was the dogs that led you.  Suddenly old Dodger would show up with a patch on his eye, and you could basically guide your way home by that.  Sometimes the fog was so thick you couldn't see a thing.  And old Dodger would take you up and hand you over to some Labrador.  Animals were in the street, something that's disappeared.  I would have got lost and died without some help from my canine friends. -------------------------- [end excerpt]

In his book Mr. Richards discusses anticipating National Service, upon graduation from school.  (National Service?  Some kind of -- peace-time draft, I guess....)

------------------- [excerpt] -------------- I had spent my entire school life expecting to do National Service.  It was in my brain -- I was going to art school and then into the army.  And suddenly, just before my seventeenth birthday, in November 1960, it was announced that it was over, ended forever.  (The Rolling Stones would soon be cited as the single reason why it should be brought back.)  But that innocent day I remember, at art school, you could almost hear a massive exhale, a huge sense of relief that went through the school.  There was no more work that day. -------------- [end excerpt]

------------------ [excerpt 3] ------------------- Mick and I must have spent a year, while the Stones were coming together and before, record hunting.  There were others like us, trawling far and wide, and meeting one another in record shops.  If you didn't have money you would just hang and talk.  But Mick had these blues contacts.  There were a few record collectors, guys that somehow had a channel through to America before anybody else.  There was Dave Godin up in Bexleyheath, who had an in with Sue Records...[break in excerpt]

Hang on, I've heard of Sue Records, but in only one other source -- Tina Turner's autobiography -- [excerpt -- I, Tina] --------------------- Ike sent tapes of "A Fool in Love"

You know you love him, you can't understand
Why he treats you like he do, when he's such a good man

to a St. Louis disc jockey, who in turn sent them out to several record companies, including Sue in New York City.  Sue was that rarest of record-biz phenomena, a label owned and operated by a black man.  Its proprietor, Henry "Juggy" Murray, had grown up on the streets of Hell's Kitchen dancing for nickels on street corners.

Ike sent "A Fool in Love" to every record company in the country, and every one of them turned it down.  I didn't know him from a hole in the wall when the tape arrived in my office.  But I knew it was a hit, and I got in touch with him.  He wanted to know how come I thought it was a hit and nobody else did.  I said, "'Cause they don't know."  Ike was a musical genius, but he wouldn't know a hit record if it fell off the Empire State Building and hit him on the head.

So I flew down to St. Louis.  Never been there before.  He sent his driver to pick me up at the airport in this long black Cadillac and take me to his house.  East St. Louis was a hell of a town -- had gambling twenty-four hours a day, and they bet down there like they bet in Las Vegas, I'm serious. ...[end, Tina excerpt] ----------

[return to Keith excerpt] ------------------- There was Dave Godin up in Bexleyheath, who had an in with Sue Records, and so we heard artists like Charlie and Inez Foxx, solid-duty soul, who had a big hit with "Mockingbird" a little after this.

~~ Google Mockingbird  Charlie and Inez Foxx > You Tube
~~ Google Mockingbird  James Taylor and Carly Simon > You Tube

Godin had the reputation for having the biggest soul and blues collection in southeast London or even beyond, and Mick got to know him and so he would go round.  He wouldn't nick records or steal them, there were no cassettes or taping, but sometimes there would be little deals where somebody would do a Grundig reel-to-reel copy for you of this and that.  And such a strange bunch of people.  Blues aficionados in the '60s were a sight to behold.  They met in little gatherings like early Christians, but in the front rooms in southeast London. ...


Monday, March 31, 2014

the mystery of how it was done

"...Works of art have always seemed to me to have a supernatural power, and I believe that visual images constitute a universal language through which the experience of the past is transmitted to the present, and by whose means all lives can be immeasurably enriched."
-- John Pope-Hennessy, art historian and curator at the "Met"  {Learning to Look, 1991, Doubleday}


Some of the people I know who knit and crochet voraciously will look at a garment, or toy, or decoration and say, "How can I make that?"  When you read Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards' autobiography, you know he's a person who, when he hears music, says, "How can I play that?"  Or -- "how can I make that sound?"

-------------------------- [Life excerpt-1] -------------------- Almost immediately after we met we'd sit around and he'd start to sing and I'd start to play, and "Hey, that ain't bad."  And it wasn't difficult; we had nobody to impress except us and we weren't looking to impress ourselves.  I was learning too.  With Mick and me at the beginning, we'd get, say, a new Jimmy Reed record, and I'd learn the moves on guitar and he would learn the lyrics and get it down, and we would just dissect it as much as two people can. 

"Does it go like that?"  "Yeah, it does as a matter of fact!"  And we had fun doing it. 

I think we both knew we were in a process of learning, and it was something that you wanted to learn and it was ten times better than school.  I suppose at that time, it was the mystery of how it was done, and how could you sound like that?  ...And then you bump into a bunch of guys that feel the same way.  And via that you meet other players and people and you think it actually can be done.

Mick and I must have spent a year, while the Stones were coming together and before, record hunting.  There were others like us, trawling far and wide, and meeting one another in record shops.

---------------------- [excerpt - 2] ----------------- Mick and I knew each other just because we happened to live very close, just a few doors away, with a bit of schooling thrown in.  But then once we moved from near my school to the other side of town, I became "across the tracks."  You don't see anybody; you're not there....

Temple Hill -- the name was a bit grand.  I never saw a temple all the time I was there, but the hill was the only real attraction for a kid.  This was one very steep hill.  And it's amazing as a kid what you can do with a hill if you're willing to risk life and limb.  I remember I used to get my Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual and put it on a roller skate, width-wise, and then sit on it and just zoom down Temple Hill.

{excerpts, Life, Keith Richards, Copyright 2010, Little Brown (US)}