Archive for March, 2010

 
I have been possessed body and soul by the spirit of New Orleans as embodied in their music, and I mean all of it: traditional jazz, cajun, zydeco, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, country, or any combination of the above. If you could see inside my brain with the little guys in axon and dendrite costumes conducting happy impulses up and down my cerebral corridors, if you could just look on the walls…there, see the speakers. Now listen, see…New Orleans music. The internal soundtrack that backs up all these serio-comic thoughts that you are reading as we speak is entirely “mos scotious” music from that neck of the woods. I apologize in advance in case it happens to bubble to the surface, usually in the form of some sort of nervous rhythmic outburst. Something to do with the triplet structure or the syncopated rhythms seems to fit right to the beat of my biological clock.

As soon as Shirley and Lee beckoned me to “C’mon Baby, Let the Good Times Roll” and Huey “Piano” Smith gave me “Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie-Woogie Flu”, I knew I’d had a gateway musical experience which would lead to a habit I’ll never be able to kick. Professor Longhair, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Clifton Chenier, Beau Jacques, The Meters, Nevilles, Dr. John, Alan Toussaint, Jesse Hill, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Sonny Landreth, Ernie K. Doe, Tab Benoit, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and that’s a real short list.

Some, hell most of the most influential music of the last 200 years has come from that seemingly inexhaustible gusher of talent that surges on, undaunted by petty natural disasters, to pump out the sweetest sounds, to the West via National Neural Network, to my ears and eventually my bloodstream where it provides me with untold medical and spiritual benefits to this very day. At this very moment I am listening to the Dr. John version of “Money, That’s What I Want”, a New Orleans-influenced song written by Berry Gordy, originally performed by Mississippi born Barrett Strong, restyled by New Orleans’ great, Dr. John. And yes, it’s making me feel like I could bon ton roulez forever, thanks for asking.
Unfortunately, my closest brush with “The Big Easy” had nothing to do with musical magic. That’s right, I never got closer to this musical Mecca than the very outskirts of town. Me and two co-conspirators were fleeing a sour South Florida scene because of: various and sundry failed relationships, small town ennui, fear of being busted/drafted, you name it. We were on a mission to NorCal’s freer climes. Oddly though, we stayed our quest long enough to pick up a strangely-dressed hitchhiker, standing at a crossroads where our interstate West intersected with a state road out of New Orleans.

Our battered ‘61 Volkswagen Van was loaded with all our earthly belongings (and a significant amount of unearthly shit that didn’t take up much space) which still left plenty of room for an odd hitchhiker with only one suitcase . There was a little nervous tittering when we pulled over and got a load at close range of what we were picking up.

He wore a long black cape with red underside, a high-collared white shirt with a pleated front, and a pendant pentagram on a red silk ribbon, black tuxedo pants, and pointy-toed black boots. This Draculoid ensemble clashed with his blonde, wholesome, Southern California good looks, giving him the appearance of a Partridge Family Aliester Crowley.

It seems he was returning to Ventura after his pilgrimage to the grave of The Voodoo Queen, Marie LaVeaux had successfully concluded. As squeaky-clean as he looked (speaking of the parts that weren’t concealed in Gothic get-up) he still managed to give us hardened, cynical, Post-Summer of Love, Hippies a pretty good case of the willies.

All the way from just outside New Orleans to King’s City, California, where we bid him adieu (whew),we would exchange glances with unspoken messages, looking in the rear view mirror, wondering if the guy is for real, wondering if we had stumbled into a real life horror movie. It happens all the time. It didn’t make us any less nervous that at every rest stop, every gas or food stop, he would search the immediate environs till he found sufficient hand-picked stones to fashion a pentagram somewhere on the ground near the microbus. He would crouch near this rock configuration chanting some odd, guttural-sounding words under his breath in a chilling sing-song kind of way. Then he’d stand, turn around, see us gaping, beam his best surf’s-up smile, and kick the rocks into their original state of randomness.

The old van bumbled and shook, jarring us along through desert and mountain pass , from the middle of nowhere to King’s City, where our journey continued North to San Francisco, and our Transylvanian Traveler would leave our company to head South.

There was a group sigh as we pulled away, leaving our dark-side proto-Harry Potter dwindling in the distance. Then the release of pent-up hysterical laughter that was probably still bubbling up a chuckle or two a few moments and .75 miles from King’s City when the VW Van threw a rod. Before you could say, “Thoth Naagoth, remember me and your mamma at Miskatonic University?” our only means of transportation had turned into a pile of metal caca.

We figured in our later discussions that the Crowley wannabee had learned sufficient of the Craft to keep our decrepit van going long enough to serve his evil agenda, with his infernal pentagrams and muttering. Didn’t have the common courtesy to give us a little mojo power for the rest of our trip to San Francisco. Some people just give practitioners of the Dark Arts a bad name..

My current plan is to use my new magic gifts (recently presented to me by the Illuminati) to get me and the LSL to the huge cultural arts festival that goes on in New Orleans every Spring. Everybody who’s anybody acknowledges the mammoth musical debt they owe to New Orleans by playing their asses off on a number of stages , all stewed up in a hot and humid gumbo of love, for the better part of two weeks. And I’ve never been there!

With three more Mentors to go in my training program before I can safely utilize my super powers for anything of a personal nature. It’s beginning to look unlikely that everything will fall into place for me in time for this years ‘ festival.

Wait a freaking minute. I keep forgetting the million bucks the Kings deposited in my account for the use of that song of mine. And I seem to have neglected to say anything to Lucy about it either. And, I am still putting off any rudimentary sketching experiments with the Black Pencil. Some superhero, huh?

 

 

Undead Friedman Funkifies Before Feasting On Fainted Fraulein

To see me in 3D (and who wouldn’t want to) just find a quiet place where we can cuddle up, turn your cell phone off, put on some Alicia Keys, and stare at me cross-eyed.

3D Mug Shot: Mondo Weirdo's Most Wanted

Hey Kids! March 26th is "National Confront Your Worst Fears Day" Help celebrate by coloring in my nifty fear cartoon or draw and color your own. Now, for God's sake, while there's still time!

Then he had resumed the shut down routine just as though nothing had happened. Turning off and covering the computer. Nothing had happened. Checking to make sure no windows were left open. Nothing real had happened. Checking the heater thermostat and turning it down for the night. He must have just dozed off in the easy chair and had an amazing lucid dream. The last thought he could remember before his head hit the pillow and he lost consciousness was “Wow, I can’t wait to tell Lucy that Steven King came by last night and gave me a magic pencil!” It had been all he could do to suppress the hysterical laughter that seemed to be bubbling inside him, and he slid into slumber with a lop-sided grin on his face, drool seeping out of the corner of his mouth and a vision of himself imitating Woody Woodpecker and bouncing all around the inside of the RV.

He awoke with that strange high that he’d felt building since this Acapulco dive into the Abyss of Madness had started just a few hours ago. And he awoke earlier than usual, feeling the need to practice acting normal a little before the LSL and Gojira arose. Involving himself in the mechanical morning routine might help him push the craziness into a dark little corner somewhere in his brain where it just might evaporate on its own.

As quietly as possible he poured water into the coffee maker and clicked the on switch, thankful that he had remembered to grind the French Roast beans and dump the coffee in the filter the night before. He turned on the computer, selected channel four news from the favorites list and turned the volume way down.

It wasn’t till he’d started to wipe the kitchen table that he’d noticed the black, #4HD pencil, sticking realistically as hell out from under a curling Safeway receipt. Hallucinating at night had been weird but sort of fun. But you have to draw the line somewhere; mustn’t allow temporary insanity to affect daytime team performance. He hurriedly stuck the very black pencil in among the other pens, markers, pencils and small tools inside the antique Phi Delta Theta beer mug, the only relic he’d salvaged from college, where he hoped it would melt away into obscurity.

Just as the quiet burbling of the little old coffee maker and the cheerful drone of the weather babe were washing over him like warm, welcome waves of returning reality, he remembered that he’d forgotten to say yes or no to the King’s request to use his “Steven King…” ska tune…for a MILLION BUCKS! Actually he couldn’t remember saying anything at all during last night’s hallucination or lucid dream or whatever the hell it was.

But what if…? His LSL had recently trained him to use the computer to check his bank account. He could feel his state of agitation building as he raced through the sequence of entries necessary to access his account, muttering and scatting looney tunes like a deranged Popeye all the while. Badly feigning a normal visit to his virtual bank, he struggled to portray calmness as he waited for the screen to appear that would show his checking account balance to be…$1,000,465.89!

When Lucy woke up, there would be some ‘splainin’ to do.

Cover From Defunct Drug Rag, Flash, Which Was To Carry The Writer's Comic Art inside. The Writer received not a penny for his work and the only known rare xerox copies of the art are shown below. Four thousand dollars or best offer. Just kidding, not.

Title Page and credits for this legendary hippie milestone from 1979 (the birth year of The Writer's son)

Comic art for Smokeout Poem, page 2

Third and final page of comic art with Smokeout Poem

Above: Ancient Knowledge Booklet Cover; Below: Official Illuminati Document

Actual Illuminati Mentor Correspondence

You will see above, the unassuming cover of the Ancient Knowledge Booklet just as I received it in December 2009. Below is an actual page of correspondence from one of my Illuminati Mentors, enumerating the many perqs I’ll enjoy as a member.

 Will Friedman’s joints cracked as he propelled himself up and out of the comfy chair for the first time in quite a while. He had been enthralled by the HD-3D, “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” double feature, evidently courtesy of Illuminati Dish Network. But now his eyes felt like poached eggs, his logic was getting fuzzier by the minute, and he had to be somewhat alert for that tax appointment tomorrow morning. So, with a yawn, a stretch and a minor leg cramp he began the shut down ritual, after which he intended to shamble off to Bangalor for some even more comfy down time. He could hear his wife, or was that Gojira the dog, snoring as he stepped up to the sleeping compartment of the mobile mansion. He could hear something else. . It sounded like a large man-thing clearing its throat; and it sounded as if it was just outside the metal door, shuffling about on the deck.

It was 11:30 PM. No one shows up on the deck shuffling and snorting at this hour. It could only be mischief afoot, or worse. He felt along the base of the wall behind the chair (still warm from his body he noticed as he leaned against it) to find his only combat item at hand. It was a formidable brass-headed, World’s Fair Memorial Jack Daniels Cane. And he knew how to use it. For a moment he thought of his blowgun and steel-tipped darts, but he’d have to get by that hulking shadow he could see silhouetted by pale moonlight, and all the way to the shed.

 
 He brashly flicked on the overhead light above the door. At that the tall, slightly stooped figure stepped forward into the light, his right hand raised, the light reflecting off his glasses.
 
“Well, may I come in? I know it’s very late and I apologize for that, but believe it or not, I actually have a life too.” said Steven King , ducking his head as he entered the RV. He made a turn of the living room/dining room/ den, checking out the odd figurine, painting or photograph (he even raised an eyebrow at a Satchell Paige-autographed baseball), before settling down in the comfy chair Will had recently vacated.

“Do you realize that I actually read all those books I write blurbs for? Anyway, I’m Steven King, and I’ve been picked to be your first Mentor. I know you would have preferred Dan Simmons, but they just thought I was a better match for some reason.”

“Don’t worry, thanks to the Illuminati Tech Guys, we will be speaking in a virtual Maxwell Smart Cone of Silence and not likely to wake up the LSL. Please sit down and listen closely. Close your mouth too, before something wicked crawls into it as my dear auntie used to say. “

“We have been watching you in our crystal balls for decades since you used your cleverly written speeches to cloud the minds of your classmates, using comedy over content to win their votes and a much-undeserved Senior Class Presidency back in ‘62. Oddly enough, these speeches and several of your letters to the editor exhibited a persuasive power that the High Boys feel that they can amplify and utilize to advance their inscrutable freaking agenda. I’m not in the Inner Circle. But all in all they’ve treated me quite well and I consider them the “Boston Red Sox” of Secret Society’s bent on improving the world through science, magic, quantum physics and wicked huge thick best-sellers.”

“Oh, before we get into the actual Mentoring business, Tabatha made me promise to ask you if we can use that jingle you wrote (with the unauthorized use of my name) “It’s A Steven King Kind Of Day”. She thinks it’s cute and funny, so does Amy Tan, and they want to use it with our band. We’re doing a Haitian Relief Fund Raiser with Bono and Tom Waits. We could just direct deposit a million into your account for the use of the song. If that’s Okay with you, of course, it would really make her happy. Believe me, making her happy is a good cause in its own write.”

From “The Writer’s Secret Journal” here are the words to “Steven King Kind of Day”

“I know there are a thousand questions you want to ask. But you must trust me and accept the role of passive receptacle of some of that good-old-fashioned Ancient Knowledge that we weave so well, and before you know it you will be ready for the next Mentor and another step closer to becoming “The Writer”. Frankly, I envy and fear you..”

Will had been thinking, “I would never have thought Steven King would be so gabby. Not that I’m not hanging on every freaking word. My freaking God, this is not really Steven King, and I am not at all comfortable with how real this freaking hallucination is , and how can I make it stop, maybe if I just put down this pen and stop writing?”

He could see “Steven King’s” mouth continue to move, see his hand reach into his leather Star Trek-looking jacket pocket and pull out a black pencil, which was now being thrust at him.

“…pencil that I used in “The Dark Half”. Somehow, by golly, it has been endowed with special powers, as you will soon see, and oh (reaching into another pocket and pulling out a white gum eraser that glowed fluorescently in the dim light of the RV) you’ll be needing this too.”

“Just get yourself some paper and start noodling around a bit to loosen up. Do some still-life writing exercises or drawings, making slight changes to the reality you’re depicting. Check the results. Have fun with it. I really must boogie, my strange new amigo. Your next Mentor will be here within 48 hours.”

And for goodness sake, man, can some of your filthy habits. You know, the same kind I used to have before I almost got my ass knocked clean off by some bull goose loony in a van as I was out walking after midnight (Thanks Patsy) It’ll improve your writing and everything else, believe me, I am more rich and powerful than I’ve ever been. Nyah-hah-hah!”

And with that Steven King, for all intents and purposes, winked out existence.

I think that it is high time (I think that way a lot) that we stop for a moment and summarize what we’ve read so far. Smart-ass wannabee writer bites off more than he can chew and embarks on a Kee-Otic Kwest to prove once and for all that he is a downright amusing chap who fully deserves to make enough money writing Stuff© to subsidize a very modest lifestyle and a dignified retirement. Though it’s a worthy cause and his early vision included more community involvement and the eager participation of a cadre of local talent (that he thought he could assemble) “to craft a true community-manufactured New York Times Best Seller, it turned out to be a task for which he had neither the “people skills” or the work ethic, to bring off.
Seems like the author was not the only one on a Kee-Otic Kwest. The cadre of local super talents all had Kwests going on as well. Fortunately the author is easily distracted (and that’s putting it mildly). He starts drawing cartoony, R.Crumb derivative self portraits, gets derailed by his uncontrollable movie addiction, reads a lot more, all to divert himself from the prospect of utter failure. And, he decides, if it is indeed to be utter failure it would probably be best to take the job on his scrawny old shoulders alone. The author is no stranger to pulling it off alone. (drum roll)
He wrestles mightily with the task while trying to make it seem easy and fun. Many pages, alternately cheerful and optimistic, followed by periods of darkness with a chance of whining and self-doubt, take the reader on an emotional roller coaster. Then there is even more aimless wandering which the author decides to document anyway.

In a fit of performance enhanced delirium, he decides to try his hand at blogging, rationalizing that not only will it be good writing experience but it will serve to get his “voice” heard by a larger audience, and it just might be suitable as material for his magnum opus (New York Times Best Seller). At first the author experiences the elation of seeing his Stuff© out there for all to read. “All” doesn’t seem to be lining up to read his blog postings, however, so a predictable session of fear and loathing follows.

The author is subject to many flashbacks, both self-induced and involuntary, which he readily throws into his infernal furnace of creativity to spew out loosely thematic rants which he hopes will set readers off on a hearty chortle and bring them tittering back for more. Blogging starts to be fun again. If only he could afford the cost of adding videos to the blog. Then people could really dig his wild and crazy, multi-talented Renaissance Man thing in all its three dimensional splendor.

Eventually bored with trying to put a humorous slant on his basically humdrum existence, the author attempts to add a little edginess to the mix by fabricating a conspiracy sub-plot complete with Illuminati, Bohemian Grovers, Ancient Knowledge, Senior Moments, and I forget the other Stuff© As we resume the story, the author is multi-tasking: watching Steve Reeves (Hercules #1) hurl a discus to another area code (eerily inappropriate theramin music keens in the background with Sylva Koscina smiling on at Herc’s cool achievement); automatically writing; listening to Aldo the dog snoring; thinking it might be fun to blur the line between fact and fiction a little more with a bit of the olde Hysterical Faction.

We now return you to the story in progress as smoothly as possible. Watch your step. Slower folks to the right, please. Don’t go near that stream of consciousness, Ma’am, there’s where the vile things are.