Chris Ware-“The World’s Smartest Cartoonist”

Chris Ware stands in front of the original Art for the covers of his new book, “Monograph,” at the opening for the show of the same title at Adam Baumgold Gallery on November 10, 2017. Click any Photo for full size.

Chris Ware has been universally respected among his fellow Cartoonists & Graphic Novelists for quite some time. At this point, it’s becoming relevant to consider his place among ALL his peers, including the all-time legends. Now, he has made that a much easier thing to assess with the release of his new book, “Monograph,” a gorgeous, and, (typically) meticulously well-done, Rizzoli mid-career autobiography and retrospective in one. But before anyone else can begin to assess his accomplishment through it, no less than Art Speigelman, one of those enduring masters of Cartons & Graphic Novels in that pantheon of legends, calls him “the World’s Smartest Cartoonist,” in his Introduction to it. After he, his wife, Francoise Mouly, the Art Editor of the New Yorker & an Independent Publisher, and Ira Glass have their say up top, the rest of it is so well done, I don’t think there’s a better case to be made for his accomplishment. Take that, future biographers/monographers! For the rest of us, no matter how closely you’ve followed Chris Ware, you’ll find known favorites alongside much that is previously unknown, including a surprising amount of detail about Mr. Ware’s life along the way.

“Good cartoon drawing is good design.” Charles M. Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” in 1997. The published covers from the Drawings, above, for  “Monograph,” 2017. Front cover, right side, and back cover, left. Their “meaning?” Perhaps, that there’s a lot going on in that head…Inside (between the covers).

Speaking of what might be going on in that head, along the way, “Monograph’s” 280 pages also provides the best evidence that Chris Ware is a bit of a throw-back in his tastes in Art, Cartooning, Music & Architecture, a side that co-exists with, and informs, the visionary that is given to flights of fantasy, usually involving the past or the future, often without notice. They all coalesce in Art that, at times, could be mistaken at a distance for an Architect’s plans, as seen above.

An echo? Speaking of Architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, “Madison Civic Center (Monona Terrace)” Night View, 1955, Ink on paper presentation drawing. When I first saw “Monograph,” this drawing by Wright, recently on view at MoMA, came to mind. Chris Ware lives near the early Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the Chicago suburbs.

By now, none of this is news to anyone who has seen his work over what is already 30…Can it be? Yes, it is…30 years! What’s lesser known is that, personally, he’s also an enigma. I’m only 15 years in myself, yet, what I still have trouble getting used to is that along with all the things Chris Ware is, he is, on top of it all, endlessly self-effacing.

I don’t think it’s an act.

Take a look at his expressions and body language during his first national television appearance, November 13th, on one of the last episodes of Charlie Rose, which is, also, a good introduction to him. Note the 5:07 mark, for instance-

For the past 15 years he’s been telling me off and on that his original Art, which now sells for upwards of many thousands of dollars per in galleries, “is easily disposable.” First, he said it in 2002, after “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” came out. Just this past week, he said it again. Standing in the middle of the opening of his newest show at Adam Baumgold’s East 66th Street gallery. I had commented on the fact that he is his best and most astute collector, and asked if he was planning to open a museum. He replied by talking about disposing of it.

From left to right- Art for “Hold Still,” an iconic 2005 New Yorker cover, Art for the Acme Novelty Lunchbox, a page of Rusty Brown, subject of his next book, a very early “Jimmy Corrigan” page from Acme #1, two Self-Portraits, and a page that appeared in the New York Times Book Review in October, 2015, far right. Mr. Ware’s Original is titled “Why I O Comics.” I heard he wasn’t pleased that the Times published this with the heading “Why I Love Comics.” All of this Art is, or was, part of the collection of Chris Ware.

All I could do was shake my head and nervously smile when he said it, again, because he can’t be serious. CAN HE? Taking no chances, I did the only responsible thing I could. I told him to call me first. Then, I looked for “answers” in the show, and in “Monograph,” itself.

The museums will, also, come calling one of these days. I have no doubt of that. In my opinion, they should have, already. I’m referring to his work being in the permanent collection of MoMA, The Met and The Whitney, and the other big museums around the world. To be fair, the Whitney Museum did include Chris Ware in their 2002 Biennial, when he was the first cartoonist ever invited, and was given an entire gallery where about 48 works, by my count, were on view. They even commissioned him to create the poster for the show. He has, also, been included in important shows at other museums, at NYC’s Jewish Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, both in 2006, and elsewhere.

During this latest encounter, we stood in the midst of the opening for his newest show with Mr. Baumgold, for “Monograph.” The rooms were filled with original Drawings by Mr. Ware going back to the late 1980’s, when he was 20 or 21 years old, works that even his most avid readers have not seen, or probably even knew about.

“The Sunville Daily,” 1987, Ink and red pencil on paper. By Chris Ware at about age 20. Looking very closely, you’ll find elements of his later work, but, overall, this is shockingly different from everything that came after.

The fact that he’s kept a good number of his earliest work that those long time readers have never seen, proves that he attaches at least some value to them, himself, and I have a hard time believing it’s only sentimental. Chris Ware has a professor’s level knowledge of the history of cartooning (as seen here), as well as an acute awareness of it’s current state, witness the expert (yes, expert) contributions he’s made to books on George Herriman and Daniel Clowes, as well as the astute quotes bearing his name that appear on many new and notable graphic novels, including being front and center on the front cover of, perhaps, the most auspicious debut of 2017, Emil Ferris’ “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” which I wrote about here. Of course that eye is applied first, foremost, and probably, most critically, to his own work.

Athletically challenged. “Gym Class,” 1987, Ink and red pencil on paper, depicts some of the dread, and possibly, the bullying, he dealt with in school. One of the earliest works in “Monograph,” elements of his now “classic” graphic style appear, and are already confidently rendered. A key point in Chris Ware finding his direction. (That’s a reflection from across the gallery above the center character’s head. Sorry.)

Mr. Ware came to fame with the release of his first full length book, the graphic novel, “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid Alive,” in 2000. It won the Guardian First Book Award in 2001, an award that considers not only graphic novels, but ALL books released during the year. The glowing reviews served to highlight the fact that there had, literally, been nothing like it to that point. The graphic novel had seen it’s first big breakthrough in underground and non-superhero comics, perhaps, since Art Spiegleman’s “Maus,” the Pulizer Prize winner in 1992. Seven years in the making, it’s possible to watch his style solidify over it’s 380 unnumbered pages. Almost as soon as it was released, Chris Ware’s name had been made. When I first saw it, I knew from the one of a kind dust jacket that opened out into an amazingly intricate double sided poster that here was a truly unique book. 16 years later? A well worn copy is still near to hand. It’s a book that doesn’t reveal all it’s secrets in one reading. Every time I pick it up I still find new things, new threads, I’d previously missed. I’m not alone. “Jimmy Corrigan” has given rise to a continuing stream of critical examination, theorizing, analysis and speculation.

The original cover Drawing for the front of the remarkable folded book jacket/double sided poster for “Jimmy Corrigan” as seen in “Monograph.”

“Reading him, I always have the feeling that the pages aren’t big enough for everything he’s trying to squeeze into those orderly rectangular panels.” Ira Glass, “Monograph” Preface.

A flat of the whole, double sided cover, in color. The Drawing reproduced above is the left half of this image. Little discussed (perhaps because it’s the back of the cover/poster), the right half contains the story of Jimmy’s ancestors, including his African-American ancestors (one seen being sold as a slave), which were unknown to him. Some see commentary on the “imperialistic” nature of American colonization and the idealism of the “American dream” in the story of Jimmy’s ancestors as well.

“Jimmy Corrigan” turned out to be semi-autobiographical. In it, Jimmy gets a letter and phone call out of the blue from the father he’s never met suggesting they meet over Thanksgiving. Before going, he tries to imagine him and what impact knowing him would have on his life. When he finally meets him, he discovers he’s nothing like he imagined him to be. He also meets his dad’s adopted African-American daugther, Amy, who Jimmy had no knowledge of.

Some time after it was published we learned that Chris Ware, himself, never knew his father growing up, until finally meeting him, once, mid-way through writing “Jimmy Corrigan.” Sadly, the elder Mr. Ware passed away shortly before the book was finished, without ever having seen his son’s close-to- home masterpiece. Later, Chris Ware said that “I didn’t spend that much time with him. I added it all up once…I knew my father for just about five hours1.” That’s about as long as it takes to read it, something that is on my mind when I re-read it now, which I prefer to do in a single sitting to really feel that length of time pass. Through the mastery of his creativity, and the unique ways the characters are depicted, the work becomes more than a story, “more,” even, than Art. It’s also a record of the moment to moment thoughts, hopes and dreams of 4 generations of the Corrigans, and their reactions to events as their lives unfold before our eyes, across time. Reactions that most often include little, even no, inter-action. Almost every character in it is, mostly, cut off from every one else. In that sense, it’s also a classic of isolation, a meditation on it’s eternal nature (across generations)- Every character in Jimmy Corrigan suffers from extreme isolation and loneliness. Unlike the hard-core lonely, who have given up on the human race, every character longs for it to end. At least in Chris Ware’s work, life always happens in spectacular rendering, in color that speaks it’s own language, and with gorgeous, ever-surprising design.

Back at the show, increasingly sought after, only one “Jimmy Corrigan” original page, (from the Acme Novelty Library #1, which predates the book), was on display, but it was a good one, that succinctly sums up what I said about the book, itself.

“Jimmy Corrigan, Calling Mom,” Acme #1, 1993, Ink and blue pencil on paper. This page, from the first year he drew Jimmy  didn’t make it into the final “Jimmy Corrigan” book, though it captures much of the poignancy of it.

While Chris Ware is well-known as an admirer of the great George Herriman and his “Krazy Kat” strip, having done the cover art for the 13 volume reissue of what many, including he, consider the greatest comic strip of all time, his influence lives on in Mr. Ware’s own ground-breaking graphic design, which builds on “Krazy Kat’s” Sunday full pages, that Mr. Herriman treated freely, like a blank canvas, when it came to laying out his stories. Over the past 30 years, it’s been taken to the point that it has become one of his trademarks. Along with George Herriman, Charles Schulz and his “Peanuts” cartoon strip that ran for 50 years are another major influence on Chris Ware. “Charles Schulz is the only writer I’ve continually read through childhood and into college2.” Charlie Brown, who Mr. Ware calls “the first sympathetic cartoon character3,” is the predecessor of Jimmy Corrigan. Interestingly, the final Peanuts strip ran on February 13, 2000. After serializing the story in the early 1990’s, the first edition of the completed and collected “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” was published on September 12, 2000.

Learning at the elbow of the master. Chris Ware included this self-portrait in his “Tribute” to Peanuts after their final strip in 2000,  ending by paraphrasing Mr. Schulz final panel- “How could I ever forget them?” The complete strip is reproduced in “Monograph.”

In the years before and after Jimmy Corrigan, Mr. Ware developed a whole slew of characters, that appear sporadically, only some of them “human.” They range from “Quimby the Mouse,” and “Branford the Bee” to “Rusty Brown,” and “Rocket Sam.” But, in the end? It seems to me whatever lifeforms they are doesn’t matter a bit. It only serves to make them seem “uncannily human” to the reader.

“Quimbies the Mouse,” 1990, Ink and red pencil on paper. Later, he would lose the “siamese” aspect and it would just be “Quimby the Mouse.”

These appeared in the (shorter) installments of the “Acme Novelty Library,” released sporadically over the years. Mr. Ware’s full length books take him so long to create we’re lucky to get one per decade. There must be something in the water in the Chicago burbs because “Monograph” is second for this decade. And? At the show, he was speaking about ANOTHER book, to be released in 2018, “Rusty Brown, Part 1.” And though Zadie Smith commented “There’s no writer alive I love more than Chris. Ware. The only problem is it takes him ten years to draw these things and then I read them in a day and have to wait another ten years for the next one4.” it may take even Mr. Ware’s most devoted reader more than a day to work their way through “Monograph’s” 280 pages that are jam-packed with almost as many details as this image of the Milky Way.

“Monograph’s” surprises include this six page story including the red pencil underdrawing on paper he was using at the time. “I Guess, (from RAW Volume 2, No. 3, 1991),” 1990, Ink on mylar, red pencil on paper.

Over the years, Mr Ware has created books that range in size from miniatures to the gigantic, even one with a multitude of sizes (14) in one (the award winning “Building Stories,” 2012). Now? He has outdone himself. Weighing in at over 9 pounds and measuring 18 by 13 inches, it’s fitting that this mid-career Autobiographical Retrospective is large enough to mirror his achievement. In this case, “Monograph” needs to be this big. Trying to read the detail in something like the folded book jacket for “Jimmy Corrigan,” above, would be neigh impossible in a smaller size.

Speaking of gigantic. “Sparky’s Sparky Is Best Comics and Stories (I Am a Sickness That Infects my Friends.),” 1991, Ink, red pencil on paper, 50 inches tall(!) by 30 wide.

As for what else “Monograph” contains, Mr. Ware’s work has appeared on 23 New Yorker Magazine covers, almost every one of which eschews his “intricate” graphic design (the most recent one, in September, 2017, I wrote about, here), while also holding the distinction of being the very first “cartoonist” to have his work serialized in the New York Times.

The devil is in the details. Chris Ware is, also, endlessly fascinated with stand alone characters, especially hand-made mechanical examples. “Quimby the Mouse,” was incarnated as a wooden toy a while back. Unfortunately, the manufacturer painted every one of his eyes wrong. So? Mr. Ware grabbed the 14 of them in the vitrine and correctly hand painted each eye. Shown with the original Art for their box cover.

After “Jimmy” he continued to release regular installments of his “Acme Novelty Library,” along with smaller books, including “Lint,” two volumes of excerpts from his sketchbooks, a “Quimby the Mouse” collection, forays into mechanical figures, products and toys, book covers for others and the “Ragtime Ephemeralist,” an “infrequently appearing” volume devoted to you guessed it- ephemera, and scholarly articles, related to Ragtime, edited, designed and published by Chris Ware. The latest issue, from 1995, totals 256 pages! In 2011, he even broke out of the medium of print, for the first time, digitally publishing “Touch Sensitive” an interactive story from “Building Stories” that is still available for free download on iOS, here. In 2015, he debuted an actual internet-only work, serializing “The Last Saturday” online, here, on The Guardian’s website. Though he wasn’t a fan of technology early on, as the digital forays “Touch Sensitive” and  “The Last Saturday” show, Chris Ware is a man with one foot in the past who is, surprisingly, open to selectively dipping a toe in the future, though he is an avowed lover of the print medium.

3 Views of a Secret. A rare Chris Ware Painting, bottom, the Drawing for it’s appearance on an Acme cover, and a version of the same piece, as a New Yorker cover mock up, all featuring Jimmy Corrigan- with, and without, Super-man.

The next milestone was “Building Stories,” which had been partially serialized in the New York Times, released in 2012 in a large box containing 14 publications of varying size and bindings. The order which the reader read it was up to them, thereby creating countless ways it’s tales could be told. Five years later, almost to the month, now comes “Monograph.” It’s huge size is, no doubt, daunting to many. After seeing his original Art, I realized that “Monograph” mirrors the size of the illustration board Mr. Ware favors to draw his Art on. So, the book will provide an experience as close as is possible to seeing the actual original Art in person. As the ultimate Chris Ware (Auto)biography, it’s chocked full of historical Photos of Mr. Ware, his family, friends and associates, while it’s running commentary sheds new light on the path he and his Art has taken, an invaluable resource to those studying his Artistic development.

As we chatted this time, he drew two small self portraits in my copies of the Acme Novelty Datebook (his Sketchbooks), Vol 1 & 2. He seemed pleased to see them when I produced them for his signature, sketchbooks being near and dear to my heart (I made my own for many years). He mentioned that there would be a Volume 3! Later, I looked at the Drawings he did. Wow.

Sketch by Chris Ware in my copy of the Acme Novelty Date Book, Volume 1.

A bit reminiscent of this, which was on view in a corner across the room- “Acme #4 (Sparky’s Best Comics and Stories)” Cover, 1994, Ink and blue pencil on paper. What was I saying about all his characters acting “human?”

“The accolades he got he felt weren’t his, for some reason. He didn’t feel they were…deserved. And I think he didn’t feel particularly connected to the world.
He was appreciative and very, very loving about all of the good things that came his way but I think he was always mildly surprised.” Whoopi Goldberg on Charles Schulz 5

As with Charles Schulz, the creator of the most famous comic strip in history, I don’t know what lies at the heart of Mr. Ware’s self-effacement, but  I hope it won’t take another 30 years for him to accept the compliments his work receives. If he continues producing the kind of work he has over the past 30 years, then, he might not have any choice but to get used to people saying nice things about his work.

Back from the show, with this question on my mind, I began to re-read Jimmy Corrigan for the umpteenth time, this time in it’s paperback incarnation (which has a few significant differences from the hardcover), I happened upon this beauty on the lower right back cover.

A-ha! Chris Ware dumpster diving to SAVE copies of his work that have been discarded! “Jimmy Corrigan,” Paperback edition, back cover detail.

I get it! I FINALLY found the answer to his self-affacement. He WANTS me to throw out his work so he can save it and re-sell it!

They’re right. He IS smart! ; )

**********************************************************************
Collector’s Note- This is something I’ve yet to see anyone point out. While I suspect that many/most of Chris Ware’s fans already have “Monograph,” for those that don’t, I’ve discovered something that you might want to keep in mind.

There are TWO editions of “Monograph.”

When I discovered it, I called the publisher, Rizzoli, and even they didn’t know what the differences were! So, I took it on myself to find out. The “regular edition,” ISBN 978-0847860883, is the one most commonly available. However, there’s also the “Bookplate Edition,” ISBN 978-0847858125, which I’ve almost always seen selling for the same list price ($60.00) as the “regular” edition. However, it contains 2 major differences. First, it comes with a small double-sided “errata” sheet that is SIGNED by Chris Ware. Second, the “errata” sheet comes tucked inside of a folded reproduction of the original Drawing for his quite rare 2002 Whitney Biennial Poster, “The Whitney Prevaricator.”

Top of the inside of the inserted Reproduction of the Drawing for the Whitney Biennial Poster. If you collect Chris Ware, I recommend you get the “Bookplate Edition,” which is signed TWICE by Mr. Ware, and includes this.

On the top of the verso of this sheet is text noting that this is the “Fine Art Edition,(referred to as the “Bookplate Edition” in the trade) of “Monograph,” which Chris Ware has ALSO signed, and numbered out of an edition of 550. Buyer? Be Ware. (Sorry.)

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “In The Future When All’s Well,” by Morrissey from “Ringleaders of the Tormentors.” Another Artist who’s work is deemed “depressing” by some.

On the Fence, #16, The Smartest Birdies…on this Fence…on April 1st…at 3pm” Edition.

This Post was created by Kenn Sava for nighthawknyc.com
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  1. http://edition.cnn.com/2000/books/news/10/03/chris.ware.qanda/index.html
  2. https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6329/chris-ware-the-art-of-comics-no-2-chris-ware
  3. http://classic.tcj.com/alternative/interview-with-chris-ware-part-1-of-2/
  4. Quoted on a sticker on the shrink-wrap for “Monograph.”
  5. in “The Complete Peanuts, Volume 5 1959-1960, p.xi.

Cancer Saved My Life

I grew up in a pre-determined life.

An empty lot? No, this is the box I grew up in. Click any image for full size.

I existed to follow in my father’s footsteps. The problem was that I had absolutely no inclination, or desire to do so.  Right through high school graduation there was never one iota of thought or discussion given to thinking “he might want his own life” by my family. After I escaped, by going on the road with a band, my family actively worked against my efforts trying to force me to come back to their plan. I disowned them in 2005. Lots of lonely holiday seasons have followed. By then, the die had been cast. I wound up knee deep in a career I never wanted to be in just to survive.

I know how he feels.

Finally, I dug myself out and got back to having a career in music, which went very well, until I got fed up with the record business (back when there was a record business), but that’s a story unto itself. Then, in 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer. I got the news, the results of my biopsy done the previous week, over the phone while I was sitting in my office.

“How was your weekend?,” the doctor asked quite casually. “Good,” I said. “That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have cancer,” were his exact words.

Time stopped. The clock read a little after noon as I recall.

I could see the blurred shapes of my coworkers walking in front of the glass walls of my office who’s door was closed, but, after those words, that room symbolized how I felt. It felt like I was in this box surrounded by immediate circumstances- this diagnosis and my job. It felt like a room I’d never been in before. The world was going on outside of it, beyond the glass walls. I could see out the window across the hallway and see sunlight coming down the narrow street, shining on the windows on the other side, a few hundred feet distant.

I was in a different world now.

Life was closing in on me, putting me in a box. No stranger to spending a lot of time alone, I was now in a  world inside myself, more fully than I had ever been before.

After giving me my diagnosis on the phone, he said you really should come in to talk. “Yeah. I guess so,” I remembered saying. I was barely listening at this point. Disbelief is the first thing that hits you.

A few days later I went to meet with him, he sat down, and said to me “I had to show your slides to my colleagues. We’ve never this before.”

Huh?

What could possibly be worse? To get a diagnosis with cancer, THEN the doctor tells you “we’ve never seen this before.”

!?

Apparently all 15 of my biopsy cores came back with cancer. I asked “Are you sure those are my slides?” He said yes, and I don’t remember anything of the meeting after that. It was like a window shade rolled down over my mind after that, like it had been glazed over. I walked out of the hospital, in a daze and crossed insanely busy Park Avenue (which runs both ways) a few hundred feet north of 14th Street in the middle of the day without even looking to see if traffic was coming! Somehow I made it across to Union Square. To this day I have no idea how I got there. I walked back to work at 2 PM. My boss, Rob, who would become a good friend, and the only one I had told at work, came in and sat in my office, he looked at me and asked me if I was OK. I don’t remember responding, just sitting there in that space deep inside of myself still in shock.

Cancer? And? It’s bad?

I’ve never really been sick a day in my life. I’ve never had surgery. I’ve never spent the night in a hospital. There was no cancer in my family. I broke a bone in my hand once, I messed up my knee a little bit, I destroyed the hearing in my left ear playing in the band, and I destroyed my feet wearing rock ‘n’ roll shoes onstage made by the guys who made Kiss’ famous boots. That’s been the extent of my health issues in my life. To be diagnosed with cancer, and have to work your way through the biology, the medicine, the treatment options, the incredibly incomprehensible technology, and try to figure out, alone, what is the best treatment for you, is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Shock was the first stage for me, and it was quite a while before I got over it. Looking back now, it was years before I got over the shock that yes, I have cancer. Growing up, cancer was a death sentence. One thing I learned that even then, in 2007, most people I eventually told, treated me like I was going to die.

I was alone as I’ve ever been. Why is there even a light on?

Given all my responsibility at work, I didn’t say a word to anyone else there about any of this. A few days later my boss, Rob, came in and announced he was leaving. ! What? Are you serious? He got a better offer. The owner of the company, who still didn’t know, wound up giving me his job. He was the CFO of the 3 corporations with offices in 3 states! He was making $150,000 more than I was making. I was the Controller, but I wasn’t a CPA, which he was. And? I didn’t get a raise.

I had to deal with researching treatment options, not to mention the strain of being newly diagnosed with cancer, while learning his job, at the end of the year with a financial closing period looming for three corporations. I don’t know how I got through all of that. I had two full-time jobs.

Well? At least I didn’t have to worry about “celebrating” the holidays!

I did my due diligence, learned as much as I could, got four opinions, and then decided on the treatment. And then? Every cancer patient’s worst nightmare happened. I picked the WRONG treatment. I chose to have hormone therapy followed by two types of radiation treatment. That’s 3 treatments. Why? Because I just didn’t want to have surgery. People die during surgery.

So, at peace with my choice, that I had avoided surgery, I went back to the hospital to begin my treatment. The doctor who had diagnosed me sat nearby holding the needle with the hormones in it about 2 inches from my left arm. He said, “You know you’re not going to have any libido for twice as long as you’re going to be on this, right?” The treatment was scheduled to take 2 years. So? That was four years. “Um, what? No. I didn’t know that.” I had asked the question during the original meeting, but didn’t ask the right follow up question. Uggh!

I stopped him. He, basically, saved my life right there.

I went home devastated. After all of this, all of these opinions, all of this research I had made a mistake!

The writing on the wall SCREAMING at me. These letter are about as big as the mistake I made.

This treatment plan was chosen for the WRONG reason- basically, for my comfort. Since it wasn’t surgery, it was in my comfort zone. Ok. So? Now what, Kenn? The cancer is still here.

I had no choice but to start over. Square one.

Going to back to the beginning, I had to face that the most basic fact was the one I wasn’t focused on COMPLETELY. And that is-

Cancer was trying to kill me. This was WAR.

I then asked myself a hard, fundamental and essential question- What do you want to accomplish through treatment? There was only one answer. Get ALL the cancer out of my body as quickly as possible, via the means with the longest track record of proven results. By that I mean long term survival rates free of cancer.

A woman reached out to me online to tell me about her husband’s story. He had been treated and it hadn’t gone well. He had bad side effects after, and both of their lives were now negatively impacted, every day, by them. Then, she said, “If I had to do it over again, I’d insist he go to Dr. Samadi.” Who? He’s a surgeon. Since my treatment choice had turned out to be WRONG, I decided to consider surgery even though, yes, “people die during surgery.”

Umm..? People die from cancer, too, Kenn! MANY more people.

You want your best chance of getting cancer out of your body and possibly beating this horrible disease? Surgery was my best choice. (Mine. Every diagnosis is different. I am not a doctor and I am certainly not giving medical advice here. What worked for me may not for someone else. There are side effects from any treatment, and they are just one factor that needs to be carefully considered.) I was still young enough that if surgery didn’t work I could have radiation treatment(s) after. In my case, I couldn’t do it the other way around. I posted on a cancer support website asking who other patients thought was the best surgeon in NYC. About 20 people responded in 24 hours. Dr. Samadi got 3 votes. No one else got more than 1. The next day Dr. Samadi, himself, contacted me through the website.

“Hello. With your diagnosis, I can treat you and your prognosis will be excellent.”

Huh? What “good” doctor is on the internet looking for patients?

I didn’t respond. My bias against using the internet for this returned. What was I thinking looking for a cancer doctor ONLINE? The road to help, and an answer, felt endless…cold, lonely. It was November, outside and the dead of winter in my soul.

Life lies dormant on The HighLine in February. The path stretches far out ahead into the cold night…

About this time my friend, Fluffy, told me to try Columbia Presbyterian. President Clinton had been treated there. So? Being as Dr. Samadi was there, and with these other recommendations, I decided to call his office.

No one returned my call. ?

I decided to finally write back to him and tell him I tried. He said, “I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow at 1:30pm. Just come to my office and I will get you in.” Without an appointment? Again, irregular. But? Ok. I did. He did. Opinion #5.

I was impressed with every thing about him. He told me he could give me a triple golden outcome (i.e. be free of cancer with no serious side effects). An expert in the (then) new robotic surgery, he also had had state of the art training, and experience, in the two other, time tested types of surgery. Should the robot somehow fail, he could switch to one of them without missing a beat and complete the operation. No other doctor I knew of in NYC could do that. He had treated many patients successfully (I would speak to some). He seemed to have every base covered. The robotic surgery seemed to promise minimal incisions leading to a quicker recovery. I left feeling I didn’t want anyone else to touch me. I realized later that that feeling of ultimate confidence is something you MUST have in a doctor you choose to treat you! I decided then and there to make an appointment to have Dr. Samadi operate on me. I had done a 360 on surgery. Let’s go! It was the third week of November. The earliest appointment was in March!

What? Let me get this straight-

He’s booked FOUR MONTHS in advance AND still took time to offer his help (to me) online? Wow. Now? I was in awe. It felt like a hand had come out of the sky and plucked me out of the worst nightmare of my life. “Just get on the schedule and I will move you up,” he said, as my condition required quicker treatment.

He operated on me on February 7, 2007. 10 years ago today.

4 hours later, my eyes partially opened. The bottom half of my closed eyes revealed light. I slowly opened them more. There were trees, branches and sunlight. Where was I? It was early February. This wasn’t winter. This was spring. Around this narrow opening of light, it was all darkness. Just a narrow rectangle of light in the lower center.  It didn’t look like the famous “tunnel” near death experience survivors speak about. But, there was a center section of light surrounded by blackness.

Passing this doorway this week uncannily reminded me of “waking up” that day.

I laid there for over an hour and a half before anyone came over. I was in the recovery room. At least that’s where I was told I was. The light was from an open window about 100 feet across from me. I wasn’t sure I was alive.

To this day? Part of me feels like I died on that operating table on February 7, 2007.

In many ways, my life did end that day. As I realized that, I started thinking of my “new life” as having begun that day, too.

So, today? I’m 10 years old.

The part of my life that DID die from cancer? Ok…

I had no wife, no girlfriend, no family, no kids, no one I could see on a daily basis, there was almost no love in my life. Most of my friends took off after I got sick. The girl I had been seeing did me three days before my surgery, then I didn’t hear from her for four months. Until she sent me a card. A card? You live two blocks away from me. You’re the closest person I know in the whole world to where I live. I’m getting through my recovery alone, in a 4th floor walkup, with no one to help me. And, you send me a card?

She wasn’t the only one.

My “best friend” of seven years pulled up shop in New York and decided to move home to Indianapolis, Indiana. She went to see a friend of mine at a bar the night of my surgery when I was lying unconscious in the hospital. She told him she was leaving in the morning. He asked her, “Are you going to say goodbye to Kenn?” She said “Yes.” She never did. She left town and never even said goodbye to me. I was hoping and expecting she would help me over the next couple of weeks.

One of the first things cancer taught me was it made me realize that the two or three friends I had left were my real Friends (cap, mine, as I am wont to do in this Blog). Forget the online nonsense of what people call “friends.” How dare they use that word! I KNOW what a “friend” is. I learned the hard way. When push comes to shove, When the sh*t hits the fan, and all bets are off, like the soldiers talk about “in their foxholes,” you’re lucky if you have two or three people by your side. That was the first major lesson I learned then, and one reason I have nothing to do with so-called social media. It’s a total waste of time. All you’re doing is giving your personal information away FOR FREE to big corporations to use to sell stuff to you, or for other purposes that no one knows. If someone walked up to you on the street and said, “Hi. Tell me this, this, this, this, and this about yourself,” you’d think they were nuts, dangerous or criminals. Yet? Online, in front of the entire world, billions of people do it every minute of every day, without wondering about it. This is something I will never understand.

The doctor who diagnosed me told me I had a 20% chance of making it through year 1 after treatment without needing additional treatment. Today, I celebrate TEN YEARS without addtional treatment!

But? Early on? I was sure I was a goner. That 20% quickly flipped in focus to 80% against.

I decided to sell everything I owned and make preparations for “the end.” I lived like I was going to die. My assistant at work forced me out of my job while I was laid up in bed, so I left my job of 10 years, and the career I never wanted, to focus on my recovery. After I did, I took stock of my life.

Almost everyone was gone. My career was gone. My former boss, now friend, Rob used to ask me, “What are you doing in this job? You’re a creative guy.” It hit me pretty hard. I didn’t have an answer for him, until life handed me the answer. My cancer was gone (at least until my next test). What am I going to do now?

I decided to take care of myself. Complete my recovery, and live being myself- 24/7. Crazy, right? Who does that? 10 years later, I haven’t looked back. (Yet.) It’s pretty scary, though. I can’t say I don’t worry about the future. Then again? Who doesn’t?

Yes. There’s someone in that box, outside a “Home Parts” place.

So? Yes, a fair amount of the life I knew did die on February 7, 2007.

The second big thing cancer taught me was what REALLY MATTERS in life.

Are you ready?

I realized that ALL that matters in life is Loving and being Loved.

Read that again. I’ll wait.

That’s all. Period. End of sentence. Goodnight! Get home safely.

But, having no love in my life? Being a “get it done” kind of guy. I decided I could “get it done” and find love. I spent most of the next 5 years looking for love- E V E R Y W H E R E. What I re-learned was that “finding love” is impossible. Love isn’t something you can “find.” It just happens. Or? It just doesn’t happen.

 

I had an unforgettable moment on that corner, before things blew up horribly.

Of course, I didn’t find it. I thought I found it once, but it blew up, horribly, in my face and I came as close as I ever have to doing harm to myself. Yes, to actually doing away with myself. Cancer hadn’t killed me yet, but “love”/the loss of said “love” almost did. But? I survived that, too.

Finally? I decided to love myself. It was all I had left.

“The words of the prophet are written on the subway wall,” Paul Simon once sang. Or? A block away.

Besides? If you don’t love yourself, who will?

Beyond this, being thankful & grateful is absolutely essential. Of course I’ve been very lucky, and have so very much to be thankful for. I have been trying to practice mindful giving thanks from moment to moment. Having cancer, also, puts you in touch with the cancer community. I heard a lot of stories. Many terrible. Many inspiring. It’s miraculous, to me, that anyone survives cancer, given how it was when I was growing up. I’ve watched some dear people die from it. I’ve talked to quite a few people who didn’t have good outcomes- either from complications from their treatment, or from cancer returning and spreading. The cancer community is, also a wonder. Survivors like the author Musa Mayer, (who is “also” the great Philip Guston‘s daughter) have forged new paths in cancer advocacy and given hope and support to countless others in ways that didn’t exist when I was diagnosed.

I was privileged to be in the presence of Musa Mayer a few weeks ago as she spoke about her father’s work in the Nixon Drawings show @ Hauser & Wirth.

Beyond them, to say I’m grateful to the doctors who treated me and saved me 10 years ago is a huge understatement. Recently, I had the honor to meet another one who’s on the front lines right now, Dr. Melissa Pilewskie at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center. Listening to her, I couldn’t help but marvel at her inner strength, and those of my doctors. She told me that as a surgeon she has treated 2,000 patients in 5 years. That’s 400 a year. There’s only 365 days in a year! Ok, Dr. Pilewskie is obviously a world-class doctor, with an extraordinarily rare skill set. I couldn’t help but wonder…where does this young lady get the inner strength to deal with cancer patients all day every day? Let alone to deal with them so well. It was a humbling experience that reminded me of the debt I owe the doctors who treated me. On my 10 year anniversary, it was also an insight into how far cancer treatment has come in my lifetime, and continues to progress, and a reminder of how many very special people are in there fighting tooth and nail to treat, beat, and even cure cancer. This isn’t a “job” to them. It’s their mission.

THANK YOU! And, bless you all.

If you get diagnosed with cancer (PLEASE, no!), you now have a great chance of being treated, and then get to go on with your life. My advice to you is- Get the best doctor your insurance will cover and get treated. Go for your follow up tests, religiously. For everyone else who doesn’t have cancer? Catching cancer early really is your best chance to beat it. Don’t miss those checkups! That’s how mine was discovered.

The big reveal from my experience with cancer is that cancer wound up forcing me to have the life I always wanted to have.

Finally.

No one lives forever. I was living my life like I was going to live to be 200, and everything I REALLY wanted to do, I would get to one day. Well? One day is N O W. That’s why I have this blog. That’s why I spend my life going to see Art 6 days a week, taking photos and listening to music. I can’t wait for “one day” anymore. Damn the expense (which goes up every minute)! Damn the later impact on my life (he says now)!

Life on the edge.  Yes, someone is sleeping in the doorway of this gallery. Maybe they’re trying to be first in line.

If I don’t do this NOW? WHEN am I going to do it? I don’t know if any of this would’ve happened if I didn’t get cancer.

After I started to recover, I had some of those plastic bracelets made for my last Blog before this one. I was writing about my daily experiences with cancer, in an effort to give others who were newly diagnosed some information through sharing my experiences, because at the time no one else was doing it. On them, I had three phrases engraved. One was

Get tested

The second was

Get treated

And finally-

LIVE YOUR LIFE!

They were there as a reminder to myself, a mantra, as much as what I’d learned.

Close, and seeing this this week was a coincidence, and a reminder.

Early on my friend and cancer survivor, Stephanie 2, told me that cancer “would change my life in ways I could not imagine.” She was right. My experience with cancer challenged me in more ways than any other. In the end? It challenged me to face myself. To love myself and to be myself, fully, no matter what.

I’m not grateful for cancer. I HATE cancer. It’s taken the lives of friends, acquaintances, and many I’ve admired from afar. It’s cost me parts of my body I didn’t really want to lose.

In the end, I’m more grateful for life (than what it cost me to have it). For the chance to change the course of my life, and finally live the life I always wanted to have.

Ok, so cancer didn’t really “save my life.” Doctors Chuey, Dinlenc and Samadi did. I used cancer as a wake up call to save myself after they did.

So?

Life, in February. The High Line, February, 2017.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating my 10th Birthday.

If I’m actually still alive.

———-

With my undying thanks to those who saved me-

-Dr. David Samadi

-Dr. Caner Dinlenc

-Dr. John Chuey

-Helen Petrocelli, RN

-The staff of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital

To those who stood by me-

-Fluffy

-Rob

And, with my thanks, and admiration to fellow cancer survivors, patients, and a professional-

-Stephanie 2

-Dave (R.I.P)

-kitty

-Mrs. kitty

-Mrs. Fluffy

-Musa Mayer

-Sv

And,

-Dr. Melissa Pilewskie

I took all the photos appearing in this Post over the first six days of February, 2017, except the photo of Musa Mayer, on January 10, 2017.

*- The Soundtrack for this Post is “Accept Yourself,” by The Smiths (who you can watch perform it in 1983!, below), written by Morrissey & Johnny Marr. Morrissey was 23, or 24 when he wrote this. Astounding. It’s Lyrics, published by Warner/Chappell Music and Universal Music Publishing, just fit-

“Every day you must say
So, how do I feel about my life?
Anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
When will you accept yourself?
I am sick and I am dull
And I am plain
How dearly I’d love to get carried away
Oh, but dreams have a knack of just not coming true
And time is against me now…oh
Oh, who and what to blame?
Oh, anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
When will you accept yourself, for heaven’s sake?
Anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
Every day you must say
Oh, how do I feel about the past?
Others conquered love – but I ran
I sat in my room and I drew up a plan
Oh, but plans can fall through (as so often they do)
And time is against me now…

And there’s no-one left to blame
Oh, tell me when will you…
When will you accept your life?
(The one that you hate)
For anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
Every day you must say
Oh, how do I feel about my shoes?
They make me awkward and plain
How dearly I would love to kick with the fray…
But I once had a dream (and it never came true)
And time is against me now…
Time is against me now…
And there’s no one but yourself to blame
Oh, anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
Anything is hard to find; for heaven’s sake !
Anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
When will you accept yourself ?
When?
When?
When?
When?”*

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
Click the white box on the upper right, for the archives, to search, or to subscribe.
This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

Six Years Ago, Today…

this amazing photo was taken by Oli Scarff of Getty Images during the protest in London’s Parliament Square on December 9, 2010. (Mouse over it to read the caption)

Ever since I discovered it while researching my Post on The Smiths & Johnny Marr, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I think it’s the most powerful music-related image I’ve seen so far this young century. And yes, that Ellen Wood is wearing a Smiths shirt in it, puts it over the top for me.  So, today, in honor of Ms. Wood, I’d like to send “Hand In Glove” from “Hatful of Hollow,” who’s cover image is on her shirt, out to her-

“Hand in glove
The sun shines out of our behinds
No, it’s not like any other love
This one is different, because it’s us

Hand in glove
We can go wherever we please
And everything depends upon
How near you stand to me

And if the people stare, then the people stare
Oh, I really don’t know and I really don’t care

Kiss my shades, oh

Hand in glove
The good people laugh
Yes, we may be hidden by rags
But we’ve something they’ll never have

Hand in glove
The sun shines out of our behinds
Yes, we may be hidden by rags
But we’ve something they’ll never have

And if the people stare, then the people stare
Oh, I really don’t know and I really don’t care

Kiss my shades, oh

So, hand in glove I stake my claim, I’ll fight
To the last breath

If they dare touch a hair on your head, I’ll fight
To the last breath

For the good life is out there somewhere
So stay on my arm, you little charmer

But I know my luck too well
Yes, I know my luck too well
And I’ll probably never see you again
I’ll probably never see you again
I’ll probably never see you again
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh”*


Ellen Wood was one among thousands of students protesting government proposals to let universities triple tuition fees that day. I apologize to her for taking this image a bit out of context to focus on what she’s wearing. In the only interview I’ve found with her to date, from 2011, she says-

“I feel the country is spiralling backwards into hopelessness, etc, etc. I am just like millions of other people who love The Smiths. ”

The resulting photo might not have been enough to get Morrissey & Marr to reunite The Smiths, but it gives me a lot of hope for the world, a lot of hope that the power of Art & Music to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives is still with us.

Today, it’s 6th anniversary, strikes me as a good day to remember that, especially at a time when hope seems to be in short supply.

(You can see more of Mr. Scarff’s amazing photos taken that day, here.)

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “Hand In Glove,” by Morrissey & Johnny Marr from “Hatful of Hollow,” published by Warner/Chappel Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group.

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
Click the white box on the upper right, for the archives, to search, or to subscribe.
This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

Smiths Peace Is None Of Our Business

“Johnny Marr… So much to answer for,” to paraphrase a Morrissey lyric about Manchester in The Smiths’ song, “Suffer Little Children,” the great guitarist wrote the music for. I’ve never been quite sure what to make of Mr. Marr. SOMEONE has to take the fall for the end of The Smiths. Up to this point, I blamed Johnny Marr. In 1987, we were told that Johnny Marr left The Smiths1. The last authoritative source on the matter to speak publicly about it, Morrissey in “Autobiography,” claimed that as “the most famous face of the Rough Trade enterprise,” pictures began appearing in the press of Morrissey and not The Smiths as a group, who the press began dubbing “Mozzer’s men.” Morrissey says that this made Johnny fume. “It must have been at this time that Johnny believed that ‘If … well, ummm … if I just step from stage left to, ummm, center stage, then I, too, could gather lilacs.2” He goes on to say that Craig Gannon’s being added for the 1986 tour was Johnny’s decision 3 and says he brought up what he felt was “the sad lilt in Johnny’s chord structures,” during the “Strangeways” sessions, but was not listened to 4. That’s about it for why the band broke up.

Hmmm…

Morrissey, "Autobiography" one of a few signed copies he offered when "World Peace Is None Of Your Business" was released.

Morrissey’s “Autobiography” one of a few signed copies he offered in a bundle when “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” was released.

Later, in the extended section about the Mike Joyce case5, in which the former Smiths drummer sued Morrissey and Marr  for royalties, resulting in each losing over a million dollars, Morrissey speaks at length about Marr. “Johnny, too, was a bad witness, crumbling neatly from the top down. Although he and I were ostensibly on trial together as business partners, we were not actually business partners, and we had not even met once over recent years to discuss the Joyce claim, or the protocol of trial. I got the impression that Johnny’s verbal disclosures jumped about willy-nill and concluded with his exhausted inclination to accept anything at all that was said against me- in what I assumed was the hope that he might be separated from the one target who did not beg for sympathy (i.e. Morrissey)….He will, by now, apparently say almost anything at all in order to stay free, and seems willing to push anyone into the water in order to save himself6.” That’s Morrissey’s side, regarding why he may be on the outs with Marr, from “Autobiography,” in a nutshell, of course.

dsc03054pnh

I wonder if Morrissey will read it.

Now, with the release of his own Autobiography, “Set The Boy Free,” Johnny Marr’s been doing unprecedented interviews, and speaking candidly about the end of the band that he co-wrote the “songs that saved your life” for. We finally get to hear his side of things.

Unlike Morrissey’s books, where I read them multiple times looking for other meanings I missed, Johnny Marr writes in a straightforward way, like he was talking to you, so I found “Set The Boy Free” a quick read. For his part, Mr. Marr doesn’t have a heck of a lot to say about the breakup, either. After Joe Moss, The Smith’s original manager resigned as they left to fly to New York for their first appearance at Danceteria, many of a manager’s duties fell to Johnny (who was also a de facto producer on many sessions). Johnny doesn’t really say why Joe Moss resigned, only saying “When he resigned, most people around the band felt that it was because of a conflict between him and Morrissey, but neither Joe nor Morrissey expressed that to me at the time. I resisted any speculation for everyone’s sake, but there was something about Joe’s resignation that felt unresolved to me7.” He comments about feeling burdened by being the de facto manager here and there, but we are left to wonder if he mentioned his feeling about it to the band, and there is never any mention of finding a permanent manager until later.  The first sign of trouble in the book is during the making of “Strangeways” (The Smiths final studio album), a “brighter time for me8” having recovered from the trauma of a car wreck that he says could have been fatal. “In the middle of making the album, though, something suddenly changed. New allegiances were formed between band members…I didn’t understand why there was a problem….but the rest of the band made a sudden U-turn and it was three against one. Everything I saw as good management they saw as interference and giving up control, and I thought it was really weird that a band as big as The Smiths were trying to avoid having someone taking care of business9.” When Morrissey didn’t show up for the “Shoplifters of the World Unite” video shoot, he says he finally went to Morrissey’s house, “In a complete reversal of the day I formed the band, I banged on my partner’s door but this time he wouldn’t let me in. I was shouting ‘Don’t do this,’ but it appeared that we were no longer on the same side and it didn’t even seem like we were still friends10.” After the album was finished, the rest of the band suddenly decided to go back into the studio to work on more songs, though Marr hadn’t written anything else. Having booked a vacation, a first for him, he cancelled it, and complied, pulling all-nighters to finish the tracks before taking his vacation. When he returned, no one from the band contacted him. “Two days later, a story appeared that I was leaving The Smiths….Having the story out there I had no choice but to make a statement. I still hadn’t heard form the others, and with everything that had happened I just thought, ‘F*ck you.’ I faced up to the inevitable and announced that I was leaving The Smiths11.”

Regarding being on the stand in the Joyce case, he says, “I knew there was no point in trying to be clever, and by then I was under no illusions that Morrissey and I might win. I just answered as directly as I could, without letting Joyce’s barrister succeed in winding me up. I’d been forced to go to court, and I decided that whatever happened I was going to speak up for myself and get the satisfaction of putting a few things straight. At least that way I’d have no regrets and I could walk out of there my own man12.” By my count, Johnny Marr spends 4 pages out of 313 pages of text on the Joyce case (say 1%). Morrissey spends 40 pages on it, or about 11% of his 445 pages of text, 20 pages of photos omitted.

In his recent interviews, he addresses the subject of leaving The Smiths again, especially in this section from  The Guardian’s interview with him-

“In July 1987 a story appeared in the press that Marr had left, accompanied by a new photo of the band taken by their press officer in which Marr was scowling while the other three Smiths smiled away. At that point, he felt he had no option but to walk.

It sounds horribly stressful, I say. Yes, he says – not least the presumption that he would be the one to step in and manage the Smiths. “It’s what split the band up. To this day I haven’t met anyone who thinks a major rock group should be managed by the 23-year-old guitar player.” So why did he agree to manage them in the first place? “Well, because we were deemed unmanageable. When we fired managers, I always had to deal with it. When we got to the end of the band’s life, it was put to me by my partner that he wouldn’t work with the current manager and we had to go back to how it was. I wasn’t prepared to do it, and so it became untenable. There was no way forward.” For a moment, those tensions sound as raw as they did three decades ago. “I was waiting for someone to fix it, and make it so it didn’t have to happen.”

Why were they so resistant to having a manager? “A lot of it was to do with control.” Does he feel he was…? Marr finishes the sentence for me. “Forced out? Yes, that was the tangible public manifestation of all that.” He stops, embarrassed by his words. “Wow! Check me out! It was the feeling of being tested, and my role in the band being untenable.” He stops again. “Just like any break-up, bad sh*t goes on.”

The day that he confirmed he was leaving, the other band members issued a statement wishing him luck and saying: “Other guitarists are being considered to replace him.” How did that make him feel? “I literally thought it was a joke. It was the final nail in the coffin and it took me a long time to forgive them. It was pretty callous. But I don’t hold it against anybody now. I absolutely don’t.” Within a week, the Smiths were in the studio with a new guitarist. They never completed any new material, though: by the time their final album, Strangeways Here We Come, was released in September 1987, they had announced their split.”

So. There you have it. They both have spoken. Am I missing something?

Great musical groups are a 20th Century phenomenom that never existed in Western Music before. The great Jazz bands of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and others, were first early in the century, and great Jazz groups continued throughout. Towards the end of the 1950’s great rock and R&B bands also began to form. We take them for granted now, but they are historically new. Mozart never wrote with Haydn, and Haydn never wrote with Beethoven, either. It never ceases to amaze me that people like Morrissey and Marr actually found each other (at a Patti Smith concert!), let alone that the 4 Beatles found each other. Knowing full well how hard it is even to find real friends, I’m pained when these groups end.

“Don’t they realize what a miracle it is they met?”

I have been in bands I loved being in (that no one ever heard of) that broke up. A band really is a something like a multi-way marriage, and just as hard to preserve. As Johnny Marr admits in these interviews, he wasn’t even 24 when The Smiths were over. All of us have done things early in our lives that we look back on years later and wring our hands over. Most of us weren’t in a world famous band at the time. This reminds me of what the late, great Joe Strummer said in the documentary about The Clash, talking about the little things that broke them up, and what he wished he could go back and talk to his 20’s self and say-

“None of this matters. The addictions don’t matter. The personality conflicts don’t matter. You are in one of the greatest bands of all time. Don’t f*ck it up.”

But, in Morrissey & Marr’s case? Whatever caused their split continues. Johnny Marr is now 53, Morrissey 57.  I still don’t get it.

So? Where are we now? Johnny Marr says in the letter to Morrissey I quoted in footnote 1- “I’ve only recently come to realize that you genuinely don’t know all the reason for my leaving. To get into it would be horrible…I will never point the finger at anyone but myself…” I’m not sure he’s still “gotten into it!” I’m also not letting Morrissey off the hook, either. Why weren’t the others happy with Ken Friedman’s management as Marr asks on Page 202 of his book (“I didn’t understand why there was a problem.”)? Is there more we still don’t know? I’m about to give up on it and face it- they just don’t want us to know.

Smiths Peace Is None Of Our Business!

He wrote, usurping the title of Morrissey’s latest album, for those who may have missed it before it quickly went out of print. Wait. What? More unhappiness with a business relationship? Stop me if I’ve heard that one before. On other fronts, The Smiths have never ended. The music lives on in the solo careers of both Marr and Morrissey, who still perform Smiths songs in their shows. Whatever the problem is, at least they haven’t turned their back on their storied pasts, music countless people still love and revere. Morrissey’s last appearance in the NYC area on September 24 was instantly sold out. The cheapest tickets available on the after market approached 200.00. His set included 3 Smiths songs, and a Ramones song. That The Smiths still have the impact on, and importance to, new listeners it had on me when I first heard them can be seen, perhaps most poignantly in this instantly iconic picture (about halfway down that page) taken of a defiant protester in the 2010 London demonstrations in Parliament Square dressed in a Smith’s “Hatfull of Hollow” shirt. I haven’t seen anything since they broke up that speaks to their power more than that picture does. Only the words of Ellen Wood, the woman in it, are more impressive. Both Morrissey and Marr were impressed by it, too. Marr has included it in his book. Still? Even this wasn’t enough to get them to reunite. WHY? For me, though none of my business, this will continue to be the biggest ongoing mystery in rock.

This coming year marks 30 years since The Smiths broke up. Today, Johnny Marr continually sounds a bit mystified, himself, at why he is not on better terms with Morrissey (as he says he regretted he was not in his letter to Morrissey quoted in “Autobiography,” see footnote 1). The Guardian piece ends with him talking about their communication over the protester photo, which Marr brought to Morrissey’s attention. “Our communication continued for a day or so, but although I felt I’d created a moment of friendship, an air of disaffection and distrust remained betweeen us. It was a shame.” Marr says he hasn’t read Morrissey’s Autobiography (“so he doesn’t have to answer stupid questions about it.” He also adds that the only book that’s “alright” on The Smiths is “A Light That Never Goes Out,” by Tony Fletcher, who he cooperated with at length during it’s writing). While I will never understand everything that went on in and around the Joyce case, Marr seems resigned about it, and has moved on, in his book. Morrissey, based on how many pages it gets in “Autobiography,” will NEVER get over it. The man can carry a grudge with the best of them. Maybe he carries one about Johnny Marr? I don’t know. Unlike most of the best of them? He can, also, slay you with lyrics. While many feel he has done this regarding Mike Joyce13, I’m not aware of anyone saying he has done it regarding Johnny Marr.

Finally hearing him speak at length, and reading his book, Mr. Marr comes across as a musician first (one who always seemed destined to play with many groups), who’s also a thoughtful, deeply feeling man, who’s values seem to remain intact, and central. I think I was rash to blame him for the end of The Smiths those years ago. Now? I’m not sure it’s any one person’s fault. While they may have made it seem it was Johnny’s doing, they may all well share whatever “blame” there is.  So in the spirit of “Kumbaya,” yes, I did get a signed copy of “Set The Boy Free,” from his NYC appearance on November 15. and I’m going to “set it” on my shelf right next to my singed copy of Morrissey’s.

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“My name is Johnny Marr and I approve this book.” (Reader Did Not Meet Author in either case.)

It may be the closest I’ll ever get to seeing the two of them together, again. I am already blessed at having seen them together in person once. August 6, 1986 when The Smiths played Pier 84 on the Hudson River, which turned out to be their last NYC appearance, but I would camp out overnight(s) for a chance to see The Smiths again14. If they can’t get past whatever it was that ended “one of the greatest bands of all time,” I’ll put them together myself in the only way I can!

"Kumbaya my lord..." Uh oh...Marr & Moz first met at a Patti Smith concert. Marr's is taller than Moz'!

Smiths, reunited. Morrissey & Marr- TOGETHER! Next to Patti Smith, at who’s show they first met. Uh oh…Marr’s is taller than Moz’! “Kumbaya, my lord…”

But? I’m not alone. After they put it out, their music becomes a part of the lives of all those who hear it, and through them, it takes on a life of it’s own. That’s because Music is an aural Art- it exists to be heard! As this world seems to get crazier and harder to understand (like the Smith’s breakup?) with each passing moment, this rendition of Morrissey’s “First Of The Gang To Die,” from Jakarta, Indonesia, posted online today, gives me hope for the future. I hope it also gives Morrissey & Marr pause for thought about what a Smiths reunion would be like, what it would mean to countless millions around the globe, and the impact THAT might have on the world.

After everything they’ve said and written hasn’t done it, it might be the ONLY thing left that could reach them.

*- The soundtrack for this Post is “Kumbaya” a spiritual. Wikipedia says “‘Kumbaya’ has been used to refer to artificially covering up deep-seated disagreements.”

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  1. In “Autobiography,” Morrissey quotes a letter from Johnny Marr to him that says, “The main thing that I want you to know is that I really regret us not being friends. I’ve only recently come to realize that you genuinely don’t know all the reason for my leaving. To get into it would be horrible…I will never point the finger at anyone but myself, and I am glad I took a step towards making my life sane.” Morrissey, “Autobiography,” iBooks version, P.272, 
  2. ibid, P221.
  3. ibid P.221-23. Marr, in his book, says Craig Gannon was added as a replacement for bassist Andy Rourke, who was repaiced in The Smiths due to his drug issues. They soon reconsidered, and Andy was reinstated, which led to Gannon switching to rhythm guitar, which he was for the 1986 tour. Johnny Marr, “Set The Boy Free,” iBooks version, P.191. Wikipedia says that Rourke allegedly received the news of his being sacked with a note under the windshield wiper of his car that read, “Andy, you have left The Smiths. Good luck and goodbye, Morrissey.”
  4. ibid P.223
  5. Completely derailing what had been a most enthralling narrative to that point, in my opinion, as it apparently felt to him in his life
  6. ibid P.319-20
  7. Johnny Marr, “Set The Boy Free,” iBooks version, P.150
  8. Marr, P. 202
  9. Marr P.202-3
  10. Marr P. 203
  11. Marr P.206
  12. Marr P.253
  13. “Sorrow Will Come In The End,” is generally considered to be about Joyce, with lyrics including “Legalized theft leaves me bereft,” and “You pleaded and squealed, And you think you’ve worn, But sorrow will come to you in the end, And as sure as my words are pure, I praise the day that brings you pain.” By Morrissey & Whyte, published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC, Warner/Chappell Music., Inc.
  14. With their new drummer, obviously. My money is on Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son.

Magda…In Full Effect

Those of you who met my friend Magda (i.e. Magdalena Truchan, Graphic Designer/Artist, Fashion Guru and Blogger-extraordinare from prettycripple.com) from my Post chronicling our fashion shopping spree a while back (which included visits to some Meatpacking District boutiques since shuttered) now have a chance to meet her up close and personal, i.e. in full effect- visually and verbally, here, over at Wear Your Voice.com. I thought I’d post this link because I realize that I wrote about her without giving much of an introduction to her. So, now here’s your chance to get a good idea what’s she’s all about.

And, of course, you can still catch her at her terrific Blog, too.

Magda stoping traffic in Madison Square Garden's Lobby before Morrissey, June, 2015

Magda standing out from the hum drum crowd, as always. Madison Square Garden’s Lobby before Morrissey, June, 2015

Maybe now, you’ll agree with me that she Rocks, AND she Rolls!

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” by Morrissey and Mark Nevin, published by Warner Chappell Music Publishing and from “Your Arsenal.”

“Don’t lose faith
I know it’s gonna happen someday
To you”*

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How Can You “Love” An Artist You Don’t Know?

Sounds crazy, right? Maybe it is.

Yet, it’s something I hear said all the time- “I love van Gogh.”  Or Monet, da Vinci, Beethoven, The Beatles, Frida Kahlo, David Bowie or Prince. Obviously I do it more than my fair share, too. For those of us who say such things, those people are real to us in the impact they have on our lives.

“I don’t care if I’m not in fashion
I will follow you, I will follow you”*

Unlike “internet friends,” this is a phenomena that has gone on for hundreds of years, though it feels like it’s been increasing since the middle of the 20th Century. The Arts touch people deeply. People connect to Artists (Note- when I say “Artists” or “Art” in this piece I am referring to all the creative Arts) they most likely don’t know, will never meet, and possibly lived, and died, hundreds of years ago. Sometimes, almost nothing is even known about them.

“But I wait, I’m sinkin’ in my skin
And I wait, my heart is wearin’ thin”*

Why?

It’s happened to me quite a bit in my life. Maybe a hundred times. Maybe more. Sometimes it happens in a moment, I’ve called the experience “seeing The Light.” I’ll be in a show, minding my own business, and then all of a sudden, CLICK, and everything has changed. Suddenly, I “get it.”

“Cause Im looking for somethin’ beautiful.”*

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And then it happened. Little did I know that when I crossed that line of light on the second floor at The Met Breuer on April 14, “The Light” would literally go on, and 20th Century Art would never be the same for me again. (Recreated)

It can also happen listening to music, reading a book, seeing a play. Maybe, it’s happened to you? One thing about going to The Met(TM) so often these past 14 years is that I’ve “gotten used” to experiencing it. It’s one of the reasons I now go and see any show they have up, regardless of whether I know anything about the Artist or not. (Try it yourself. There’s usually upwards of 25 shows going on at any one time. Oh? And if none of them do it for you? There’s always the permanent collection of over 2 MILLION items. Maybe something there will.) Over and over I’ll discover an Artist I’ve never even heard of, most recently, Nasreen Mohamedi, and find myself completely captivated by him or, in this case, her.

Over the course of my dozen visits to her show, I often find myself alone in a gallery. Just me and her work. I’m not alone with her, of course, but with a “real” part of her (I feel). Still, I know this is NOTHING like what it would have been like to have been in a room with her, looking at her work, watching her work, or simply talking. Yet? Her work has captivated me to the point that I’ve written about her twice in 2 months (in addition to a dozen trips to her Retrospective.)

She passed away in 1990. Like 90% of people who say they “love” such and such artist, I didn’t know Nasreen Mohamedi, or most of the other artists on my list, which is coming. All I “know” about her and her life comes from reading the one monograph currently in print about her. Yet, her work cuts right through me like an x-ray, the prefect greeting card, the perfect gift, or hearing just the right word from a loved one does.

“And you say, Look up, look up, look all around you
Can’t you see the love that surrounds
The very soul of you?

Something in me almost breaks”*

How is this possible? Those people KNOW me, and I know them.

It’s also happened with the other Artists on my list, which includes Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Elvis Costello, Frank Lloyd Wright, Morrissey, Michelangelo, Brahms, Leonardo, J.S. Bach, Charlie Chaplin, Rembrandt, R. Crumb, Bjork, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Glenn Gould, John Coltrane, Shakespeare, Bela Bartok, Jimi Hendrix, Stanley Kubrick, Morton Feldman, and Richard Estes, among others1.

What’s your list look like?

I ask myself- What do they have in common…besides talent?

‘You stick your soul out risk it all
Your fearless beauty breaks your fall
Something in me knows there’s something more

And it’s so close I wanna run”*

They lived at different times over the past 500 years or so. They weren’t all the same sex, the same race, the same ethnicity, religion, or nationality. I’ve never even been to the places most of them lived or worked. I don’t know the challenges they faced on a daily basis, what they ate, if they worked out, and so much more. Some of them, like Shakespeare, have left people wondering if they even actually existed. Others, like Leonardo, Michelangelo and Bob Dylan are clouded in mystery in spite of being extraordinarily well documented during their lives. Oh well. We have their work, or what has survived of it. That says quite a bit in itself. Most people who have lived these past 500 years are gone without a trace.

Some say Music is the universal language. It’s certainly one. Most of us have seen that first hand. But I also have painters, sculptors, architects, film actors and directors on my list. That tells me that Art cuts across medium and method. It takes an intensely creative vision, along with a unique talent- and both of those things need to be backed up with an unstoppable drive.

I guess that in the end, it goes back to being human, the one thing I have in common (the ONLY thing), with everyone on that list. Though? Some of them seem “super human” to me. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, not only designed incredible buildings like the “Imperial Hotel,”  “Midway Gardens,” two buildings I would have given anything to see, and “Fallingwater,” he insisted on designing ALL the glass for the windows, ALL the furniture, AND, ALL, the dishes inside of them. How is that possible?

Because they are able to put in to a song, a poem, a building, a sculpture, a movie, a book, a photograph, or a painting or drawing things that we may know, things we may have experienced, things we may think but can’t express, things we can’t put into words (sometimes, neither do they), and in doing so, they help us to feel not as isolated among the billions living and billions now not. If an Artist from 500 or 2,000 years ago can express something you’re feeling or going through right now? There’s some comfort to be taken in that. Something to be learned from it, too.

The human condition is universal. It’s existed since Man/Garden of Eden Day 1, as seen up on the Sistine’s Ceiling done much more recently, and not a heck of a lot about it has changed since the Garden of Eden, or the Renaissance.

When people weren’t able to “Yahoo” something to look it up? They looked elsewhere for their answers. When something happened to them- good or bad, they, too, wanted ways to celebrate ir or mourn it. A few put it down in some way. On a wall, on papyrus, on a stone, on all means of other materials, including paper, canvas, marble, vinyl and celluloid. The message was more than the medium. That message has been communicating across days, weeks, months, centuries, epochs and continents.

Time Machine? Peter Blume's "Light of the World," 1932 Whitney Museum

Time Machine- Artist’s Conception? Peter Blume’s “Light of the World,” 1932, Whitney Museum

People spend their time fantasizing about “Time Machines.” Why? We are the future for all those who have passed. We know what the world is like when they could only wonder. Like “George” in H.G. Wells’ classic “Time Machine,” who always kept the Key to his Machine handy, we have the “Key” to Time Travel right now. Art from the past can take you back there anytime you look at it/experience it. As I said, the human condition is universal and not much about it has changed- what’s happening to you/us now? More than likely? It’s happened before. We have “Time Machines” right now that can show this to us any time we want.

"Too Much Is Never Enough," the motto of the NYC I love. Art/Culture is the main (only?) reason to live here, IMHO. Moma's Elevator April, 2016

“Time Machine” on West 54rd Street. Moma’s Elevator April, 2016

Millions of people “get this” possibly without even being fully aware of it happening. They connect. People look or hear and are touched, changed, moved, transformed. Don’t take my word for it, check yourself when you experience it next time. That’s why it forges such a strong connection in so many people. It touched them in a place deep inside, one of the most magical, and human, experiences in life. It’s intimate. If you happen to check the creation date, you may be surprised that someone in the past felt this, too, and can express it so that you “get it” now. That’s the magic element to great “Art”- it speaks to people over time. It begins with communicating. Some Art continues to speak across time. Some does not. In the end, it’s date of creation is secondary. You’ve been touched. I’ve been touched. Something remains inside.

DSC06029PNH

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenhim, NYC. Wright intended visitors take the Elevator/”Time Machiine” (inside the bump seen at the center) to the top and walk down the ramp, something every regime running the Museum since seems to have forgotten. No, that’s not his design for the glass dome- his were all circles.

I’m not alone in this. Neither are you.

Consider this- Over 50,000,000 people went to the top 10 most visited Museums in 2015. That’s ONLY the top 10 out of the thousands of Museums in the world (and includes only one of NYC’s “Big 4.”) For comparison, Major League Baseball, the most attended sports league in the world, drew 73.7 million in 2014. No other sport drew even 25 million- world wide! The top FOUR Museums combined top them by themselves! Yet? Art NEVER makes either the front or the back pages of newspapers (unless someone steals something or pays a record price for something), sports “news” appears on every newscast (Did you ever wonder WHY both of these are true- WORLD WIDE?2), sports appear on countless cable & TV channels 24/7/365.

Art is important, in my opinion, for a few reasons- One, being the best of it ranks with man’s greatest achievements in any field. It’s been created by the widest range of humanity one can imagine, people both scholars, or “uneducated” or “self-taught,” geniuses and commoners. By members of both sexes, all races, creeds, and on and on, and so, stands as, perhaps, our most complete testament of the human experience. Another is that Art continues to speak to so many people in so many ways, no matter how much things “change.”

The greatest music club in the world, IMHO- NYC's Village Vanguard. Inside you are in the same space most of the greats in Jazz history performed.

The greatest music club in the world, IMHO- NYC’s Village Vanguard. Inside this physical “Time Machine,” you are in the same space where many of the greats in Jazz history made History.

I guess for me, if an Artist “speaks” to me, I try and learn more about him or her. At least I want to see more of their work and see if it speaks to me as well. Perhaps I’m seeking something of a kindred spirit. Perhaps I’m seeking answers. Interestingly, for me, I notice that Artists I loved as a teenager still speak to me. Do yours?

I feel that looking at, or experiencing, Art is a selfish experience. The Artist does all the giving. The viewer (listener, reader or concert goer) does all the “getting.” I say that even while acknowledging that many Artists say they “create for themselves,” and that it can take some “work” on the recipient’s part to understand what is being presented. Yet, it’s not a one way street.

Worlds within Worlds. The eastern half of the 1st Floor of The Strand Bookstore.

Worlds within Worlds. The eastern half of the 1st of 4 floors of The Strand Bookstore. A “Time Machine” if ever there was one.

Though many of these Artists may have passed away, they live on through their work. People respond to it for many reasons- perhaps as many as there are viewers, listeners or readers of it. They come out in droves to see it. 661,500 people who weren’t me (out of the total of 611,509) attended “Savage Beauty,” TM’s show devoted to the work of the brilliant Fashion Designer Alexander McQueen in 2011, a year after he passed away, tragically, at age 40. And  yes, quite a few left feeling they “loved” him or his work. The show was then reinstalled at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, where over 3,500 a day visited it. This is one show, one example. The results are similar for individuals attending any show, big or small, hearing any record, seeing any show, book or film. Some don’t get it, some hate it, and some like it, even Love it.

The "manual" elevator at the "New" Whitney Museum seen in 2015 shortly after it's opening.

The “manual” Elevator/”Time Machine” at the “New” Whitney Museum seen in 2015 shortly after it’s grand opening. It won’t look this new long.

One result- Many Artists are loved more now than they were when they were alive!

Think about that for a minute.

That is unspeakably S A D.

“Love,” Nighthawk? L.O.V.E.? The same Love that Shakespeare’s Romeo speaks of for Juliet? “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”(Act 1, Sc 5).  The same Love that most of the other Artists you name probably wouldn’t feel for you? (“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” R&J Act 2, Sc2)

Something is amiss in the State of Art.

Well? I said it wasn’t a “one way street.” Many recipients of Art respond with real feeling for the Artists, though it may not always be as intense as “Beatlemania” was. I’m not telling those people what they were feeling wasn’t real.

I wonder how it would it feel to Vincent van Gogh if he were alive now? He’d be one of the biggest “stars” (whatever that “means”) in the world, mobbed anywhere he went. For someone as isolated as he was, it might well be too much for him, or any one, to bear. How would Nasreen Mohamedi, who also never sold a work, feel walking into her show right now?

The Met Breuer's "Time Machine"/elevator, May, 2016

The Met Breuer’s Elevator/”Time Machine,” May, 2016, Nasreen? 2nd Floor. Art/Culture is the main (only?) reason to live in NYC, IMHO.

All of this makes me wonder, yet again, about the incredible amount of attention being paid to, not to mention the even more incredible prices paid for, unproven Contemporary Art. With all due respect to John Waters book, “Contemporary Art Hates You,” my question is- “Do people LOVE Contemporary Art, and if so, who’s?” Looking at show attendance lists, I’m not surprised to see Ai Weiwei’s name near the top, along with Jeff Koons, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy in there as well. I, too, am taken with Ai, as a fellow New Yorker, as an Activist and as an Artist. I wrote about his work when his Passport was finally returned last year. While I admire him tremendously, and from everything I’ve seen, he seems like a very likable, even lovable guy. I wonder, however, how many people “Love” his work. Even if this isn’t the point of it, I don’t think this is splitting hairs. It’s easy for me, or others, to chalk the incredibly high prices paid at auction or in galleries for Contemporary Art to the few with excess cash looking for an “investment,” but for the mainstream Art lover to connect with them, as they do with whoever is on their lists, is something I wonder about. Much of what I see in galleries, (by others not named here), is downright hard to “Love.” I’d settle for “liking” it.

Is it "Art?" Or, just broken? Michael Brown @ Mike Weiss Gallery, 2016

Do you love me? Michael Brown recreates broken glass in steel @ Mike Weiss Gallery, 2016. One man’s junk is another man’s Art.

The last time something like this happened, Andy Warhol led a group of artists that got labelled “Pop,” and some of them, including Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, continued to innovate and speak to people, and so became established Artists, displayed in countless Museums, and also, loved. It will be interesting to see if that happens again. THAT is what some people are betting hundreds of millions of dollars on. Maybe they should have put that money into making their own “Time Machine.” Because?

Time will tell. We shall see.

“But I wait, I’m sinkin’ in my skin
And I wait, my heart is wearin’ thin
Cause I’m looking for something beautiful”*

One thing I can say right now- With all the attention that’s being given to Contemporary Art these days, which is rare historically (usually, it has had to prove itself over time to gain acceptance), and the level of it unprecedented, I hope some of that will trickle over to the other “Contemporary ArtS” that could sure use some- Writers, Musicians, Dramatists, Actors, Independent Filmmakers & Documentarians, among them, where there are many worthy Artists (I’m especially thinking of Artists who are in the middle or mature stages of important careers, to start with, like Jazz Artists Craig Taborn or Kamasi Washington, playwright Athol Fugard, composers John Adams and David Byrne, singer/songwriters Tom Waits and Tracy Bonham, (who’s song, “Something Beautiful,” is the Soundtrack for this Post), and Graphic Novelists Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware 3) who could sure use some attention and support.

Maybe even some Love.

“And I pray for it to come right in
There’ll come a day, my heart is wearin’ thin
When I fall upon something beautiful
Something beautiful, something meaningful

Something beautiful, something meaningful”*

I’ve written far too many “R.I.P.” pieces already this year. Let’s not wait till it’s too late. Use the Key to your own Time Machine right now and experience them. You have the rare power of being able to make time stand still.

No “Machine” can ever give that to you. Only being alive can.

*-The Soundtrack for this Post is “Something Beautiful” by Tracy Bonham from her 2005 album, “Blink The Brightest,” seen here in this very rare TV-with-Rabbit-Ear-Antenna to VHS dub-

Written by Tracy, Marc Copely and Greg Wells and published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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  1. Of these, I was blessed with encountering Jaco Pastorius in person a number of times over the last 10 years of his life, I met Elvis Costello twice, and I met Richard Estes once.
  2. Morrissey asks this very question in “List of the Lost.
  3. I’ve met Mr. Ware a few times as well.

What I Learned Shopping For Clothes With Magda

Those few who actually know me know that I’m pretty much obsessed with women’s fashion (on women), probably as much as I am with Art & Music. I spent a lot of my free time the past 10 years drawing my ideas for clothes and toyed with the idea of starting a line before coming to my senses about how much money it takes to do it right (thanks to my friend Maiya’s experience, who actually did it), and especially, how “stealable” fashion ideas are. It would totally suck to come up with something new and different that some people thought was good only to have the idea stolen by a big company and not have the resources to stop them. I figured I’d need 10 great ideas so I could keep them coming. I also came to believe that fashion should be one to one, as in one of a kind items, which is total financial suicide, unless you are a brilliant tailor, too. I finally decided that if I met the right girlfriend/muse, I might design for her. In the meantime, I’ve contented myself with sharing an opinion, or twelve, when asked.

My inspiration goes back to the something the late, great record producer Joel Dorn told me. Joel is immortal for having produced many great records by the Allman Brothers (he produced their first album), Charles Mingus, Yes, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, among many others and won back to back Record of the Year Grammy Awards, during a long and illustrious career. I met him after a seminar he gave at a jazz convention in the 90’s and he befriended me because we were working with in the same circle of “Downtown” musicians, centered around the Knitting Factory. He was starting to work with the Jazz Passengers which resulted in the very good and overlooked album, “Individually Twisted.” that also featured Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello. He’d call, and we’d discuss various Downtown artists and compare notes on the scene. Most of all, as an aspiring producer, I tried to gain as much of his priceless wisdom as I could. The most indelible thing he told me was-

“Don’t make a record that’s already been made.”

That’s easy for you to say, Joel- you made some of the records that are landmarks along the road towering in front of any who dare come along later! Then I thought more about it. Frank Sinatra gets credit for making the “concept album” a thing beginning in 19551. By that I mean conceiving an album as a whole- even if it didn’t have a unifying “theme,” per se, it hangs together as a statement. That wasn’t that long ago. How many albums have been made since? Music recorded before that gets compiled into albums for marketing, but the music probably wasn’t created to be together. So, we’re talking about 150 or so years of recorded music and 60 years of albums? Still, it’s pretty daunting to try and do something all of those greats haven’t done yet. That was foremost in my mind at all times. EVEN when it came down to drawing fashion ideas. Fashion has been around much longer than recorded music. The ideas were, primarily, things I liked and wanted to see worn (even though many of them were probably impossible to wear!), BUT they also had to be things I’d never seen done.

So, short story digressed from, there I was the other day with my friend, the Fashion Guru & Blogger extraordinaire, Magdalena, from prettycripple.com. Yes, Magda is disabled. She’s in a wheelchair. (I don’t think she knows that, though, so I won’t tell her if you don’t.) We decided to spend a gloriously sunny afternoon in the Meat Packing District, which I will refrain from giving my opinion about, and say that I VERY much miss what it was back in the 1990’s and before. Magda, who hadn’t been there in a while, wanted to see which of her old fave small boutiques were still in business. I was psyched to see what we’d find. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that many of her favorites were no more, and another one, Scoop, is joining them any day.

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Magda, outside of the now demised Hogs & Heifers, right before our shopping began.

Now I am someone with very strong opinions (shocker) when it comes to women’s clothes. So, we began, and I was watching her go through the racks, we’d compare notes on what she liked. It started out normally enough. At Scoop she got a very nice, reversible hat, which immediately came in handy in the bright sun at a nice discount.

Wait. Sun? Me? Mr. Night Owl? I know. I told Magda I’d “get up early for our 2:30pm get together.”

Ok. She has an eye for a bargain that’s also practical and versatile. No news there. Finally, we wound up at a pop-up type stand a few blocks away. Then things got interesting.  To my eyes, the clothes were a bit over the top, so I didn’t look very closely. They were handmade, though, which is always nice to see, fashion should be one to one. Women are unique, right? Magda agrees.

So, she picked out a blue number and I thought it was over the top but doable. Then, she took things to another level and she lost me. She picked out this top/jacket, and I didn’t say a word.

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I watched. If she had asked me, I’d have said, “No.” But, she was in a zone. She didn’t have to ask. Buying clothes is as much what you’re going to wear with something and I don’t know her whole, amazing wardrobe, only what I’ve seen her wear, and what she wears on her Blog. And, what she was wearing right then. There you see the final result.

She fell in love with it. I fought back my initial reaction and tried to see it through her eyes. This is where going to see a wide variety of Art, or listening to a wide range of Music pays off- you fight off your initial reactions and try to keep an open mind long enough so you can learn something about it. I can’t tell you how many times this has made a big difference for me. Many of my favorite Artists, Composers and Musicians got to me through this process.

Standing there, it was now happening unconsciously. Automatically.

Magda wound up buying the piece, which she had immediately loved, (and another), and we left. She wore it out. We parted and I was left thinking about the experience. I woke up today still thinking about it. I see the similarity with how I’ve come to love so much Art & Music.

There are Artists, and people, who are so good at what they do, and/or have a vision, that you have to trust them. You have to, at least, give them the benefit of the doubt. You have to see where they’re going with it, as they say. Try and see it through their eyes. Along the way you may learn, too.

Magda has her own style. I’ve known a lot of entertainers, Musicians and Artists who did as well. They were themselves 24/7. My last Post was about one, who I didn’t know. It comes out of their pores. They dressed “differently” than most. They thought differently than most. That’s part of the process of being that creative, and part of what makes them special, and certainly unique.

Magda has that.

When I was working in Music Production, one of the things I loved was listening to all the tapes people would send in trying to get work as a musician, singer or recording engineer. I was the first person at the company to make a point of listening to every single tape sent in (about 500 a years) and I created a database logging details and notes about each one. To my amazement, I would find producers sitting at my desk going through my database. The first thing I learned from doing it? There are A LOT of talented people in New York! (And the world, too, of course.) The second was to keep an open mind. While I was looking for expertise in specific styles or in a range of styles, I never knew what was going to come on next. I’d continually come across someone….”different.” I also got good at spotting people with talent. As in good enough to get signed talent. One, went on to sign one of the biggest recording contracts a new artist had ever singed at the time. You could hear that coming on her tape. When someone asked me who was good at this or that? It was my job on the line when I recommended someone. If they came in and sucked? Ok, they wouldn’t get called back. End of their story. Possibly end of my JOB. Big money (our client’s) was riding on those calls. I stayed over 5 years, working on over 2,800 recording sessions, until I left on my own.

I told Magda that I thought she could be a “celebrity.” She laughed. I didn’t mean it as a compliment, and I certainly didn’t mean to say it as I could help her do it, or to put pressure on her- she’s a busy lady. Celebrity is a meaningless word to me. I don’t understand our celebrity culture. Most of the celebrities I’ve actually known, though, were incredibly down to earth people. I meant it as she has that “thing” that sets her apart, BESIDES the fact that she’s in a wheelchair. She has “It,” as they say. As I said in my post about Matthias Buchinger, disabled people are the most overlooked segment of our society, IMHO. Magda could very well BE that person who breaks through because even out and about? People are immediately drawn to her. Maybe it’s her style, or that she’s a beautiful girl, or both, or maybe because she doesn’t act at all like she’s in a wheelchair- Nothing stops her. Not cobblestone streets, not bad pavement, crowds, nothing. One time we went to a concert at Terminal 5, getting there after the lights went down. She maneuvered through a packed standing crowd in the dark(!)- from the back, though the entire room to the front where the disabled area is without bothering anyone! I could barely keep up with her. She just deals and does what she needs to do. Never, ever complains, or utters an exasperated word, well, besides “Where’s my favorite Thai place? What’s  happened to this area?”

Besides all of this, the girl has a sense of style unto herself, as you can see above, and on her site, (where you will also see publications and other media starting to pick up on her), and yes, all the while, be entertained.

Ok. So, she laughed at me. I’m not ashamed. I was a talent guy, I trust my gut, and I think I’m right! So? Sorry, Magda. I’m going viral with it-

HEY! TELEVISION/CABLE NETWORKS? STOP with the dysfunctional people you shove down our throats on these so called “reality shows!!!!” How about putting someone on who’s disabled but MORE FUNCTIONAL than most of the rest of us? Someone who’s interesting, smart, sharp as a tack, funny as all get out, real, has her own sense of style, is easy on the eyes, and is more entertaining that about ANYONE who’s on reality tv or has a talk show right now???? Beyond inspiring the disabled and anyone dealing with difficulties, she is an inspiration for all of us.

Magda is more than “only” a “Role Model,” which she most certainly is. She’s a “Roll Model!”

Sorry. I digressed, again. But? I mean what I said.

So…What did I learn…

It’s one thing to help someone buy clothes and give them your opinion. It’s absolutely pointless to try and do it with someone who’s a force of nature.

Water seeks it’s own level. The winds blow where they will. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

Magda KNOWS.

Hey? If it ain’t broken? Don’t fix it. And? “Don’t make a record that’s already been made!” Meaning, be yourself- everyone else is taken.

So, the message to myself is- At such times? Shut up. Stay out of the way, and don’t get rolled over!

Some day soon, people are going to write about Magda. I thought I’d be first.

The soundtrack for this Post is “To Me You Are A Work Of Art,” by Morrissey. Thank you, Morrissey! If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have met Magda, and made a friend.

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  1. Woody Guthrie made, perhaps, the first concept album with is collection of Dust Bowl Ballads about 15 years prior, but that was a one time thing.

Watching The Watchers With Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras is, perhaps, best known for her Documentary “CitizenFour,” a behind-the-scenes chronicle of Edward Snowden’s unprecedented classified documents release and it’s after effects. It’s the culminating work of her “9/11 Trilogy”. For Ms Poitras, and many others, Film is an Art Form1. I would agree that as a means of creativity and expression, Film as an art form is undeniable. In the bigger picture, Film, being 100-odd years old (depending on when you say it began), is still a relatively young Art Form to be considered “High Art.”

Does it belong in Museums yet, or is that premature?

Face to face with unspeakable horror.

Face to face with unspeakable horror. A screenshot of Poitras’ video “O Say Can You See” in her new show, “Astro Noise,” at the Whitney Museum.

While Film’s place in the front ranks of our popular culture seems assured to us now, it’s unknown what future generations will think, as is if it will speak to them. Of course, they could also reject Painting, Sculpture or whatever Artform that we accept now, but given a few thousand years of history to the contrary it at least feels there’s a better chance those will endure. Then, exactly what Film’s lasting works are, if any, also remains to be seen. If history tells us anything about Art it’s that what appears to be “Great” to the people of any given time often gets resigned to the dust bin by those that follow. No doubt that will happen to most of what’s been created in our lifetimes, but some of it may remain that speaks to those who come after us, even much after us. Consider that documentaries (one of my personal favorite genres of Film) are an even newer form, one that is continually evolving in both form and possibilities, and it may be somewhat surprising that Laura Poitras, one of the most respected Filmmakers and Documentarians working today, now her first solo Museum show, “Astro Noise,“at The Whitney.

Obviously, The Whitney Museum, like many other Museums & galleries around the world isn’t waiting for the future to judge what is or is not Art. In this case, I applaud their choice, and given the controversial nature of much of the show’s content, their guts. That, actually, shouldn’t be surprising. As Whitney Museum Director, Adam D. Weinberg says in the Foreword to the fascinating book of the same name accompanying the show, (which features a striking contribution from no less than Ai Weiwei), “(Whitney Museum founder) Mrs. Whitney’s early commitment to radical realist artists and her profund belief in the democracy of American art positioned her as a champion of free expression and the Whitney as a site for potential controversy2.”

“Is this “art?” I’d say Yes- As much in the presentation as in the work3. I’m not big on most of what I’ve seen done in video in galleries or Museums (William Kentridge being one exception off the top of my head). The pieces on view are beautifully conceived (individually and as a group), charged with meaning (for her, you and me, yet globally as well) and presented in a very artful way that regardless of what side of any political fence you may be on will give you pause to think. They force you to see the world around you, very far from you, and indeed, even hidden from you while showing how the world has changed since that fateful day almost exactly 14 and a half years ago. In “Astro Noise” it’s all plainly on view.

Poitras “Disposition Matrix,” 2016. “Don’t attempt to control the horizontal…the vertical…”

The first room features a double sided video screen, a fact not obvious until you walk to the other side of it, both sides showing her 2 channel video “O Say Can You See,” 2001/16, pictured above. At first you’re faced (literally) with watching people’s expressions as they view Ground Zero in the days after 9/11. For most Americans, these are the first days of a new world, and these people are both witness to what is before their eyes and the implications of it their mind’s eye also sees. In spite of the fact that 9/11 was one of the most photographed & filmed tragedies in history, this is something not many who aren’t named Laura Poitras took the time to look at. It’s the “right in front of us” element of this show. As someone who lived here that day, it’s something “familiar” yet seen in a new way, which is always something I value in Art, (and reminds me of the Man Ray quote I Posted recently.) As we may not know from her documentaries, which deal largely with “others,” this powerfully shows that Laura Poitras is also gifted at documenting what’s in front of us and largely missed.

From here, all becomes “movie theater dark” as we encounter the unseen and the hidden.

Walk around to the other side of the video screen and the ramifications begin to become all too real. We watch two prisoners being interrogated in Afghanistan shortly after. Two types of reaction to 9/11. From there, the show’s dark & winding trail continues with video of drones in various night skies around the world intermingling with the peace, beauty and serenity of the stars, which you watch lying flat on your back. Then there are banks of “peep show” like slots containing documents and videos from various government surveillance agencies around the world (See “Disposition Matix,” above and “Anarchist,” below), including ours, which, unlike in the first rooms, can really only be seen by one person at a time, making it personal. Finally “Astro Noise” leaves us with a graphic proof that we are all now being watched- even while we’re looking at this show.

While I was pondering the “Art” of this, I realized that her trials and travails that are a part of the genesis of this show, and of her work, reveal something I admire about Laura Poitras very much-

Her integrity is not for sale.

As such, she strikes me as something of a “throwback.” She’s a throwback to Artists, Musicians & Writers of yore- men and women who created because they had to. It’s as if their very lives depended on it, their raison de’tre.  If the public responded to their work and paid for it, the better to create more of it, but regardless, they were on a mission. They lived, breathed and died their art.

Laura Poitras is using art to show us “ourselves”- our collective selves. Me, you, the people in power- elected or not, and enabling us to “see” them and decide for ourselves how we feel about it all. That’s pretty much all any Artist can do. Say what you want about Ms. Poitras politically charged show, she’s on a mission.

“World peace is none of your business

You must not tamper with arrangements

Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes

Never asking what for”*

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Poitras “Anarchist,” 2016. Somebody in the U.K.’s tax money hard at work. “What for?”

“Astro Noise” creates the undeniable feeling that somehow along the way Post 9/11, in addition to all the horror that’s gone on here and around the world be it by terrorists or by trying to stop them, as the “cost” of it all continues to become apparent, as the unseen becomes visible, we’re seeing we’ve all lost even more than we realized or consented to. We’ve lost our right to privacy.

While Edward Snowden “tipped” Ms. Poitras to the NSA’s role in that sending her a file titled “Astro Noise,” this week, I saw a headline that read “You’re On File In China.” Yes, that’s another part of the story, though every bit as concerning.

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A surveillance camera surveils a sign warning it’s presence. How quaint. There’s too many cameras to hang signs anymore.

Closer to home, it’s enough to make me how much of our freedom we’ve lost, too ?

“World peace is none of your business

So would you kindly keep your nose out”*

Consider this- In a country where the law says a suspect is “innocent until proven guilty,” all of a sudden, we’ve ALL being treated like suspects.

Why?

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “World Peace Is None Of Your Business”s by Morrissey & Boz Boorer from his 2014 album of the same name. Published by Warner Chappell Music and Universal Music Publishing Group.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com

  1. I think of filmmaking as art...”
  2. “Astro Noise” by Laura Poitras, Published by the Whitney Museum, P.20
  3. Whether this will be “Art” and continue to speak to people generations from now or not is anyone’s guess.

Morrissey’s “List of the Lost”

“Um, Nighthawk? Planet Earth, calling. You said you were reading this way back on October 23, 2015. Exactly 4 months have passed. Leaves and snow have fallen. ’15 became ’16. The Grammys finished making their own, annual, “List of the Lost.” So…

 

How the heck is it?”

I thought you’d never ask. ; )

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It’s a powerful, thought provoking, sad comment on human nature and parts of American society’s basest motivations that interestingly takes place in this country at a time when it’s author was yet to live here 1. It’s a work that will linger in the mind for both it’s messages and it’s craft. Along the way, many of the author’s long held core beliefs find their way into the narrative, along with a range of others. As an admitted Morrissey “fan” it’s not appropriate for me to “review” List, because of course, I’m going to say “It’s great! Read it!,” but it’s not that simple. Unlike Autobiography, which I think is 1/2 of a classic and I hope for an update one day, List is a novel, a dark one, that take place in a land where the sun never shines and where the untoward lurks around every corner, every moment. In the place of “review,” then, some observations. For those planning on reading it (as I write this it still hasn’t been published in the USA, but very reasonably priced copies are available online. Mine was less than 10. including shipping.) don’t worry, I will not “spoil the plot,” or give too much away. (As always, I have read nothing anyone has written about it, save for Morrissey’s quote on the back cover, which I pictured in October.)

I have been aware of Morrissey, listening to his music, going to see him and The Smiths (in 1986), and following his career since “The Smiths” (their debut Lp) came out in 1984. A number of my Posts here use his songs as their soundtracks. Almost 32 years on it’s IMPOSSIBLE for me to read something like this and not find my mind constantly being pulled in a hundred directions with every line, like following a decades long trail of bread crumbs. This is one reason I prefer movies with actors I don’t know (as when I first saw “2001”). Not knowing anything “about” them helps me believe their character more – there is none of their personal gossip and real life lore to get in the way. Reading List, it’s too hard for me to not bring any other point of reference to bear And? There are many- take 2013’s Autobiography. In it we learned (sorry for the spoiler, but you’ve had two years to read it) that young Morrissey was a runner, and one who did well at it. By chance, the 4 heroes of List are runners, a half mile relay team. Along with one of their girlfriends and the team’s coach they are most of the major players. In 1975 when the story takes place, they are 20, Morrissey was 16. So, is it fair to wonder why early on the author can go into such detail about the experience of running? The purpose of the runner? His feelings during training or of winning or losing? The depth with which he writes about their activity is knowing and considered. It’s obvious (or it sure feels that way) that he’s lived it. Been there and done that. So, Morrissey was a runner and has now written a novel about runners. A novel about 4 runners, a relay team, is very unusual if not unique.

And it’s in “coincidences” like this where my “troubles” began.

Morrissey’s Autobiography clocks in at 480 pages in paperback. HIs first novel, List of the Lost, totals a mere 118 pages. List took me longer to read. I started reading it 3 times. The first to get an idea of it, like I’ll take a quick walkthrough of a major art show I’m seeing for the first time, to get a feel for how to approach it. The restart was “Ok, let’s just read it.” Once I realized how very much Morrissey has packed into the very economical 118 pages, I realized it was too hard for me to read it in a vacuum (which won’t be a problem for most readers). I started athird, taking notes and making an outline. 28 pages of notes later, I finished reading List last night.

Readers Meet Author…”With The Hope Of Hearing Sense.”* Count Basie Theater, NJ Jan 15, 2013

As someone who grew up in America, 3,500 odd miles from where M grew up, though not all that many years apart, I find his observations on American family life fascinating. He does say in Autobiography that he visited the USA with his family as a kid. I grew up in one of those repressed households he describes early on, and seeing it through his eyes was a revelation- for me, about my own life-

“Sex was always there…yet… difficult to obtain…because of the atomic supremacy in the family values of their upbringings which, of course, circumscribed the sons’ freedom to fly, since a certain sexlessness kept the grown child tied to the family, even if the impossibly constricted demands could very easily lead to a form of sexual cremation for the young child. The parental mind would allow the child time to develop political views, but there would certainly be no question of allowing the child time to choose its preferred religion, and even more importantly, the grand assumption that all children are extensively heterosexually resolved at birth whipped a demented torment across the many who were not. Whether physical maneuvers were difficlut or easy (and it is usually one or the other, and for eternity), our foursome found in each other a generosity of spirit and determination that all other circumstances seemed blind to. Each would make up for the other’s loss- so firmly they took their friendship into their own hands, and around it went.” “List of the Lost,” Pages 11-12.

As you can see, he immediately folds this observation seamlessly into setting the stage for the characters in his book. Following this “crumb”, I began to notice snippets of more opinions and observations, at first gradually, then more at length, that are nothing less than commentary on society and a range of many other topics. They are generally well placed as context, but they did tend to “jar” me out of the story to ponder a bigger picture. As I read the book, I was fascinated by what the writer chooses to include, and leave out (see ^ below). This is largely accomplished through the voice I call the Narrator (N). Exactly who he is is never revealed. Yet, his views are remarkably similar to the author’s. (Narrator Meet Author?) He is the “other” major character in List.

The N provided a steady stream of interest for me, delaying my completion date at every page turn, and he pontificates for pages at a time in a 118 page book. Animal nature, animal rights and lack thereof, human nature, the differences between animals and humans, sex, hookups, middle aged men, old men, old women, Churchill, Princess-later-Queen Elizabeth, royals in general, nuclear engineers, the police, war and war dead, the asexuality of friendships, who really won WW2, sports as “news,” justice & the courts, meat overeating Americans and their children (a laundry “list” of M’s hot button issues if there ever was one), are some of the topics our N addresses at length, while key moments of plot happen in a flash. Other topics, yes including homosexuality are occasionally discussed at length by the characters, but mostly it’s left to the N.

For me, it’s tempting to take List apart and make it into two books- one of the Narrator, the other the story proper. There would be minimal overlap from the former to the latter, but the former may well stand as treatise by itself. The N goes deeper than I’ve heard Morrissey go on many of these topics before, even in Autobiography, where most of these are not touched on.

(^)Interestingly and completely absent among that list there is no music. No talk of it. No mention of anything going on in music at the time. This is very surprising. Autobiography is full of this talk. Would it have been all that unique if the 4 had been members of a band, instead of runners? Then everyone would have read it as The Smiths. Disaster. Besides, he’s addressed all that in Autobiography. Without music, we are, almost, in an alternate, USA-based, young Morrissey universe. The universe of Moz the runner and not young Moz the Bowie/Ramones/NY Dolls acolyte of a few years later.

His role seemingly all-seeing, the narrator also steps in to address and reveal the inner mind of the characters. Some of the best writing in the book comes at these times, in my opinion. At once- the micro and macro view of the world, and their worlds, big and small. It’s as if everything that happens in our lives, or life, takes place in the same cosmic “mind”, only in different parts of it.

Unlike parts of Autobiography, this time, things as a whole feel sharply focused. He has compacted the story to it’s most essential moments, leaving the rest of the room for the N. In that way, it’s cannily done. In two outings we have a fascinating autobiography that might be a bit too expansive in parts and a amazingly compact novel that doesn’t “waste” one moment’s time. It’s story, in spite of it’s twists and turns, could be outlined quickly- mine is less than a page, but therein lay lifetimes of choices, instincts, ramifications and intentions as seen from the eyes of youth and the aged. Each, a product of environment, experience and family like those on Page 11, has their point of view, their reasons, their dreams. Yet, in the end, each are destined to the same fates- over which they may have “limited” control.

By setting the piece in 1975 he allows some distance on the events- both figurative and literally, though of course, in the end, that doesn’t matter- all of the tale’s key points hold every bit as much today. A morality play set in 1975 that serves as a tale of warning for today, like a gift from a caring “Hey, watch out for this.” friend, lest we too wind up on the List of the Lost. The “problem” is that while many things are in our control, as we see here things also happen in life that no amount of watchfulness is going to stop.

What does his song say? “Books don’t save them, books aren’t Stanley Knives.”*

“List of the Lost” is published by Penguin Books.

Soundtrack for this post is “Lucky Lisp,” by the author of “List of the Lost” and Stephen Street from Morrissey’s “Bona Drag” album.  It came on one day recently and crystalized for me why it took me so long to finish this book. As in “Yes, I know it’s taking me a long time to finish. Then again, I still haven’t gotten what “Lucky Lisp” is about!” It seems these folks haven’t, either.

*-From “Reader Meet Author” By Morrissey and Boz Boorer from “Southpaw Grammar” published by Warner Chappell Music Publishing.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

  1. His first visit was apparently in 1976, per page 125 of the eBook Autobiography. He mentions “three more trips to America before 1980…and I cry my way back to intolerant Manchester,” where he works as a basement filing clerk “to get the money to return to America.” Pages 127-28. He’s famously lived in Cali, next door to Nancy Sinatra for years now

Written On My Soul- The Art of the Morrissey Tattoo

I don’t have the guts to get a tat, but if I did, a Morrissey-related tat would be on the short list of candidates. Possibly a small votive candle drawing of mine with “There is a light that never goes out” under it?

Candle in a rocks glass sketch. Well, not this one...

Candle in a rocks glass sketch. Well, maybe not this one…

Anyways, I am impressed, both, by those that have one, and by the new book depicting and honoring them, “To Me You Are A Work Of Art.”

Recommended unseen. I’d love to see what Moz, himself, says in the preface. UPDATE Feb 15, 2016- I have, and it’s beautiful! Clover Dean has posted it on Twitter so you can see it, here. “I feel a great responsibility when I look at these photographs because here is the listener answering back, and we shall now be close for the rest of our lives….The best music lasts forever…Now is the future when all’s well.”

It is?

I just got a whole lot closer to getting one.

Soundtrack for this Post is “To Me You Are A Work Of Art” by Morrissey and Alain Whyte from “Ringleader of the Tormentors.”

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.