A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the Border

Here's Taz on the sidewalk a couple of doors down from our house. She's straddling the border of the Armory Quadrangle Historic District. Her back legs are inside the district, and her front legs are not. This nice brick sidewalk runs all the way down the street, but I don't have the fancy herringbone pattern. That stops after the Richardsonian church which sits on the edge of the district.

My driveway, I believe, was put in at the same time as this sidewalk. The asphalt is cracked and buckled from thirty years of frost heaves, whereas the sidewalk is still nice. If I had the money to redo the driveway, I'd lay brick, which is more beautiful, more historically correct, and longer lasting. And I'd treat myself to the herringbone pattern, too.

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Bad Poetry: Louie Louie

One phrase that makes me see red is, "Poetry is dead." Knowing I'm in for a fight, I nevertheless take the bait and reply, "No, it's not. Of course, a lot of it has morphed into song lyrics, especially rap." Then I have to listen to the invective about rap and how it's crap. Well, 99% of rap is crap, but then, 99% of most everything is crap. The only difference is that rap is too new for all the dross to have been skimmed off yet.

Of course, lots of song lyrics are mere nonsense. Case in point: "Louie, Louie." The famously "dirty song" of my youth (nobody could understand the lyrics, a widespread rumor held that they were dirty, and when the FBI got in the act and spent two and a half years investigating it, that clinched it) was written by Richard Berry and recorded by him in the late fifties with the Pharoahs. The Kingsmen released what has become the definitive version in 1963. The actual lyrics go like this:

Louie, Louie,
me gotta go.
Louie, Louie,
me gotta go.

A fine little girl, she wait for me;
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone;
I never think I'll make it home

Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there;
I smell the rose in her hair.

Me see Jamaica moon above;
It won't be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then
I tell her I never leave again.

In the Kingsmen's version, the lyrics are nearly unintelligible. According to snopes.com, the definitive urban legends site:

  • Lead singer Jack Ely had strained his voice participating in a marathon 90-minute "Louie Louie" jam the night before the session.
  • Ely was singing with braces on his teeth.
  • The boom microphone in the studio was fixed way too high for Ely, who had to stand on tiptoe and sing up into the mike.
  • What the band thought was a rehearsal run-through turned out to be the one and only take of the song.
  • Bottom line: it's a great song. The opening riff is as famous as any in rock and roll. "Louie Louie" was at the top of the list of songs in the mix I created for my toga party, about which some are still talking. I've been listening to it since 1963 and I'm not sick of it yet. Dancing on a beer-sloshed floor, walls vibrating with the bass, shouting out the lyrics along with the band, who cares if "Me gotta go" isn't worthy of Dylan or Simon or Garfunkel or Shakespeare? It's perfect for what it is.

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