Monthly Archives: September 2015

In Praise of Disorder

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I’m that variety of mug known as ‘a collector’. I’ve mostly collected music, in the form of records, tapes , CDs and sheet music. There are thousands of these artefacts all around the apartment. The collecting started in my teens and has continued unabated for some 50 years. My golden period was the 90s when Wellington Record Shops owned by such people as Colin Morris and Dennis O’Brien had a large photograph of me in their shop window bearing the legend, ‘If you see this man, please usher him in.’
I like to own what I hear and like. That is, rather than just call it up on the PC. Why? Firstly because I have a fabulous, and hugely expensive so it needs justifying, 2-channel stereo. Secondly because I’m compelled to. Not by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Oh no. But by the gene pool. My parents were collectors. Of anything and everything. Making my way from one side of their living room to the other was like a game of Twister, such was the care needed with placement of limbs, lest I disturb a ten bob resin ashtray adorned by a macaw or a 100 squid oil of a Kentish sunset by someone from the Royal Academy.
There was, of course, music growing up in South London; Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Stan Freberg, Mahler, Beethoven, Pete Seeger. And The Goons. It was all there. Everything.  Everything except Rock and Roll. That I had to get for myself and listen to by myself. The first record I bought with my own money was ‘Hit and Miss’ by The John Barry Seven – the theme song for TV’s Juke Box Jury. The latest arrivals, today, are by BRMC and Tangerine Dream. The beat goes on – as Sonny and Cher once sang, although I do love Patricia Barber’s take on that song. Where was I?
Oh yes. So. Where to put all this stuff. And how to order it? You can go onto websites that will tell you. And I do mean tell, They’re quite didactic about things like sub-genres, chronology, alpha and artist order. When I read the monomaniacal ravings of the nutters that proliferate these places, I can get a little puckish. I like to ask if John Fahey’s ‘Blind Joe Death’ should be considered for filing under American Traditional, Folk, Folk Blues, Guitar or just, you know, John Fahey. ‘Ah. But under J or F?’ I hear you ask. Such fun. And I haven’t even started on Portuguese Fado and whether or not it still counts as Fado if a man is singing.
Then there’s always Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity character, Rob Fleming, who has his music collection arranged to reflect his romantic liaisons. I could do that and have, like, about 120 sections – which would be great to explain to visitors. Then when the visitors leave, rearrange them back into the original 3 sections
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So here’s how I do it. I have lots of wooden CD cases all around the place. Over the years, I’ve played at storing discs by genre/sub-genre/alpha or by amalgamating all the sub-genres into one homogenous lump. The trick is never to finish anything I’ve started. That way, there may be two or three partially organised cases where, say, a Muddy Waters disc may be located. The prospects of finding anything within 10 minutes or so are significantly diminished if I have utterly forgotten  exactly where the genres or amalgamations are in the apartment.  This lack of certainty is greatly compounded by not having bothered at all over the last three years to introduce any semblance of order to recent additions. New arrivals are left in piles on, or by, the stereo, on the bed in the spare room or in places that only The Dark One and his minions know about.
But this chaos is positive. Creating danger out of certainty meets a creative need. I am fatigued – bored by order and safety. The joy of finding something cherished but lost, far outweighs the smug, slight satisfaction of knowing where to find that same thing without let or hindrance. And the pleasure is doubled, maybe trebled, enhanced by relief, when the disc finally goes on the turntable or in the player. I am recreating the first time.
And so I spit on your filing system. It is prosaic. I thumb my nose at your indexing cards. They smack of grey ennui. I pour scorn on your efficiency. It has no soul. Leaving nothing to chance removes the element of surprise. Duplications are evidence of life.

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Connery Confidential

Johnny Stomp wants to hit Lana. But the bar is busy. Mickey Cohen’s goons in the next booth. He bites his lip. She smiles.
‘Joe Kaufmann wants me to do this movie in England, Johnny’
‘Yeah. So you gotta go, huh?’
‘Yeah. Cheryl will be fine at boarding school.
Stomp combusts.
‘Cheryl! Cheryl! Cheryl! What about me, Lana?’
She reaches over. Cups his chin in her hands. Smiles again.
Stomp wants to kill her.

Stomp fidgeting in a wingback chair in Mickey’s hotel room. LA heat working on him. Italians working for Jews. But Mickey was smart. Dangerous too.
‘Sinatra shoo you off Ava G, Johnny?’
Stomp looks at his shoes. Colours up.
‘Broad’s a lush, Johnny.  And Lana’s working.’
Mickey’s dry, death rattle laugh, throwing Daily Variety to Stomp in the chair.
Front page. Lana and the Limey. She’s fucking him.
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Johnny Stompanato flying the Atlantic. He flew the Pacific. Beat the Japs at Okinawa. Now he’d beat the Limey. Show Lana.
Lana’s at the Hampstead house and loves Stomp. Gives him everything. Takes his blows.
Morning. The reporter outside asks who he is. Asks if Mr Connery knows about him. Laughs. The death rattle again.
Stomp in a taxi, flying the Pacific to Borehamwood. The Studio. Cracks the old man at the gate in the head. Finds the soundstage. Another Time, Another Place above the door. Running in. There’s Lana. And Barry Sullivan. Stomp shouting.
‘Bitch! You bitch!’
Lana crying. People shouting. Then him. The Limey. Sean. Walking toward Stomp. The gun. Stomp has the gun pointed at the Limey. Screaming. Running. Chairs tipping.
‘You keep away from her!. You keep away from Lana! I’ll kill you!’
Then his hand bending Stomp’s hand back. Searing pain. The gun is gone. The Limey’s death-rattle smile and then only the cold studio floor to embrace him.

A year later. 1958. Mr Connery in Tinseltown. At the Roosevelt. Receiving guests. His star ascending. Mickey Cohen comes to settle up.
‘We know you killed Johnny.’
Mickey holds his hand up. Palm outward. Toward Sean’s mask.
‘We know Lana’s got her crazy bitch daughter to confess. But we know you did it. There’s a contract on you.’

Sean on the lam. Staying at the Buena Vista up the coast. Grows a beard. Waiting for Mickey to find someone else to kill. Waiting for 1962. Waiting for when Johnny Stomp and Mickey Cohen would be old newsreel. Waiting for fame.

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Author’s Note
On April 4th, 1958, Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, stabbed Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner’s lover,  to death in her mother’s Beverly Hill’s home. The court reached a decision of  justifiable homicide and Cheryl was made a Ward of State until 1961.
Stompanato was an enforcer for gangster, Mickey Cohen, and had complained to Cohen about Sean Connery’s affair with Lana Turner when the two were working together on a movie in England. Connery did go into hiding briefly when Cohen let it be known that he felt Connery was the cause of Stompanato’s death.

PERFORMANCE

Meet, discuss, rehearse
Meet, discuss, rehearse
Repetition
No margins
Keep it inside the box

Meet, discuss, rehearse
The sets
The line-up
The keys
The tempi

Meet, rehearse, discuss
The venue
The audience
The expectation
The performance

Meet, rehearse, discuss
The road trip
The gear
The timing
The outfits

Meet and rehearse
Again
Do it all
Again
So it will be all right on the night

Do it all again
Know the music
Listen to each other
Stay inside the box
So you can step outside on the night

Imagine yourself there
The venue
The audience
The expectation
The performance

Arrive in hope
Set up
Sound check
Set lists
Excitement

Be afraid
Remember your first time
Feel that way now
The audience
The expectation

The performance
The intro
House lights
Applause
1,2….1,2,3,4

This is how it’s meant to be
It wasn’t
Not for them
And so
Not for me

Historic Town Hall and Court House, Martinborough, Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand