Sunday, July 4, 2010
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Arnold Palmer walk into a bar. In a beefy tomato, beans, and toast English accent, Greg Lake says to the barkeep, “I’ll have a Bass.”
Keith Emerson follows with ease, “Well, mate, if wear dreenking what wear playin then I guess I’ll be havin’ me a ‘Games and Soda’ on the rocks with a trough load ‘a bitters.”
Lake, poorly hiding his bewilderment at his long time partner’s limp attempt at a joke, “Good one mate. You know I said Bass though, like the ale, sounds like the name of the fish.”
Emerson, slowly but precisely, raising his head as if attempting to peer through a periscope, surmises, “I was never a fan, don’t mind a good haddock and chips ever now and again, but I can’t stomach their music. I thought you would know that about me by now old friend.”
Lake, “You know I mean fish, the food, not the jammy noodle troupe.”
“Alright, there there. Has lih’uhl Greggie got his bass strings in a tangle?
What’s the uproar? What I shoulda said then was if wear dreenkin down what we playin on these days then I’ll have a ‘Tickled Ivories’ straight up yer arse!”
“And a yodelayhehoohoo is the pry-eye-aye-ieece of thee eearring,” all sung in a fake drunken Irish pirate/Popeye the sailor man voice not unlike those new indie bands from Brooklyn sometimes use to accentuate verses like, “Molly got her PHD but all she ever needed was what she learned at The Blarney on the street named Kiernan’s Knee and Joe was a whisky prick though he traded his father’s doctor’s smock for a frock of lamb’s wool from LL Bean and Teddy gets mean with his widow’s peek while trying to pinch a lass’ cheek but she laughs because all he’s got’s an MBA and on and on and Craigy Finney’s underpants and Peg Blue’s bustier while Taryn Snow sings love songs about mops. It shall be noted that Taryn Snow was brought into the business on the coat tails of her brother Terry Snow, who at his manager’s behest finally gave in and became known as simply, Snow, agreeing that maybe the whole feel of “Informer” might not register if it was known that his first name was Terry.
“Christ, I’m your friend, not your enemy you joyless soap dish residue. You flaking cock rash. You cricket bat smuggler,” Lake says as he tries to simmer Emerson down.
At this very moment Arnold Palmer, asserting himself via an exaggerated posture, arching his back, his arms wrapped around what seems to be a rather large Persian rug, asks in a Dean Martini/Moons Over My Hammy Davis Sr. inflection, “Do you two tea lovin’ sallies ever give it a rest? Want to lift up your feet Keith, so I can put this rug down? What do you say chappie?”
Keith Emerson, believing that Arnold Palmer is actually his drummer, Carl Palmer, and not Arnold Palmer the legendary golfer, says, “You know the drill, mate. Circle of fifths,” an obvious yet indecipherable reference to Arnold Palmer’s weird responsibility amidst the trio.
Greg Lake never had the heart to tell old Keith Emerson that Arnold Palmer was an amply adept, and not to mention iconic, professional golfer who was so good at golf that he somehow transformed his incredible skill on the green into a mild telekinesis that magically produces a delicious fusion of iced tea and lemonade out of thin air. Every time he takes a swing of the old 9-iron a glass somewhere is filled with the elixir that bears his namesake. Palmer explains, “When life hands you lemons don’t tell me that terrible AIDS joke, make Arnold Palmers instead, baby.”
So whenever Emerson, Lake, And… as they are currently known, because Lake recently forced the group’s manager to copyright the word “And” as part of the band's new and official trademarked moniker. The ruling granted ownership of the word And in favor of ELA and subsequently swept the entire gutless industry stripping ALL bands, past and present, containing the word And, or any symbol in their monikers connoting it, of it, forcing them in a display of musical totalitarianism to “revise” their catalogs, recalling all visual artwork, advertisements, publishing records, licensing agreements and so forth. Many were ordered to have platinum records commemorating sales re-engraved. For example, Gun & Roses became Guns Roses, Simon Garfunkel, Prince The Revolution, Loggins Messina, Love Rockets, Kool The Gang, and so on. In order to not upset or confuse all the old school rabid tweekers, the one way streeters, the plumply withered grey old cats on the scratching posts, and most importantly the lobster smurfs, Emerson, Lake, And played a free “awareness raiser” at the Mohegan Sun in Danbury, CT, one humid June night during the Solstice of 2010. Hot Tuna opened, or what’s left of them anyways.
So, Greg Lake, enmeshed in more webs than a spider in a spider whore-house, is not only concerned about not deceiving his supporters and preserving his legacy as progressive rock papacy but also about helping his friend live a lie, that being Keith Emerson’s belief that Arnold Palmer is the other original guy from their band. To keep the lie afloat Greg Lake just hires Josh Freese to fill in live outfitting him in golf attire to create the visual decoy. Live, Emerson doesn’t see or hear anything except the rug so it’s been an easy coping mechanism for all three of them actually, three people with one-third an unshared talent.
After Palmer finishes “dropping the rug,” which is what his responsibility has become whenever the old progsters decide to perform, go to a bar, dine out, or attend an awards ceremony, Arnold asks Keith, “Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m having?” Keith Emerson, never having heard of any drink or man by the name of Arnold Palmer obliges, “Well, what are you having mate?”
Arnold, Palmer says, “Well, I’ll have an Arnold Palmer, naturally, Keith. You know, I get them free everywhere. It’s great. I never have to spend a dime hydrating the old pallet,” carrying on as Hammy Sr.
“I get it we’re making jokes about drinks you’re trying to make a joke about a drink. Seriously, what’ll it be mate?” Emerson is visibly agitated.
“You have no idea who I really am do you Keith?”
“I know who you are. You’re Palmer. No need for the old litmus test...”
The conversation comes to a halt as Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Arnold Palmer look up to the television monitor broadcasting above the mirrored wall behind the bar, a scene not unlike the back cover of Huey Lewis The News’, “Sports” album. The three look up to see indie celebrity Vick Winner doing a two step with a literal mop on the prime time reality television boogie competition, “Dancing With Scars,” a program which pairs modern day “celebs” with a dance coach to eventually throw down in a Rug Cuttin’ Royale. Greg Lake breaks the silence, “I think Vick Winner’s choice of the mop as his instructor and partner was purely calculated, a nod to his DIY ethic and artistic voice. Cheers! Although, I wonder, is there something wrong with the bloke’s neck, or is his head just too heavy to hold up.? I’ve shot my arm full of black tar dragon dust with a fourteen gauge spike and’ve been able to hold my head higher than that lad’s up there.”
Their drinks arrive as the bartender asks Arnold Palmer for an autograph finding it odd to encounter him mingling with the two others. Palmer assures the bartender, “I know my roots kid. I used to get all jintzed up with Jackie Gleason. I’m just horsing around out here, doing time for past infringements, paying in to the old karmic retirement fund so to speak for when I’m just another link in an endless trail of bones, gone, then forgotten, then reborn in disguise to repeat the whole damned tragic-comic episode.” The bartender changes the channel. Emerson, Lake, and Arnold Palmer collide their pint glasses and begin a conversation about Huey Lewis The News’ upcoming gig in Montclair, NJ, complaining about being snubbed as openers.
A living room in Los Angeles, CA, strewn with instruments, an upright bass, guitars, old and new, acoustic and electric, boxes of strings, amplifiers, and as few as three dogs at any given time, a pound and a half of freshly grown weed drying in a closet over a non-functioning toilet, small rat shacks with thin walls, a middle bedroom with a tractable bed which descends to half the room’s height in order to allow for storage and workspace underneath, which is comprised of an old mixing board, vinyl records, old tennis racquets. This room is also full of instruments, a faded stencil the size of the entire northern living room wall displays the impression of some original flag, a hole from the living room floor which leads to a hole dug out underneath the house which acts as storage for more instruments and amplifiers and also serves as a live recording room. Old surfboards, wet suits, bicycles, old shoes, and a bookshelf brimming with books occupy the enclosed patio's back porch. The backyard, accented with plumeria, overlooks the whole of downtown from a few clicks northeast of Elysian Park…
An old roommate once mentioned that celery and pineapple, when taken antecedent to a night of coitus, act simultaneously to thicken and sweeten the byproduct of a man’s ability to manufacture rope. In the laid man’s terms, “It makes the old butternut taste like it was washed with sugar while being squashed from way over across that there room,” Known in some circles as the Peter North diet, pineapple and celery are nothing less than delicacies fit for a decorator and guidos, or whatever you want to call them, on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, know this. In a conversation that inevitably veers into “fellatial waters,” a young woman who has recently undergone extensive jaw surgery is overheard saying, “You gotta please me before I do any of what I used to do,” a defense undoubtedly aimed at the gaudy innuendo offered by her macho companion, “How are we going to test this hypothesis?”
“Where else but LA?”
In college Yahanaya was a budding feminist and a card-carrying member of the Subterranean Penis-Stomping Movement wherein she habitually defiled photographs of random men performing random activities by X-ing out their johnsons with splotchy red ink. Unlike the johnsons usually hidden beneath the pants or slacks of Yahanaya’s random targets, Yahanaya herself wore her adolescent ‘lust rage’ not so much on her sleeve as on her polka dot lapel. A life of privilege had it perks, monetary freedom to use book money for designer drugs, alcohol, and plane tickets being one of them, an expensive quirky wardrobe meant to look inexpensive being another.
Admission to the SPSM was gained through recitation of the mantra:
Of pink cock
Drinking was the prime activity and general “idea maker” in the SPSM. Driving while drunk, meandering off two lane highways at high speeds through cornfields, and physically challenging boys to fist fights were activities reserved for downtime and weekends. Yahanaya was not only known to piss out literal conflagrations started in her dorm room but also to piss in jaggedly halved aluminum Coca Cola cans while crouched in the back of a moving Volvo, the cans ripped and drawn apart by Yahanaya’s bare hands.
Yahanaya once sat on a boy’s lap at a party. “I hear you have a crush on me,” she said with eyes aflutter. Yahanaya leaned in for what the unknowing boy, undoubtedly stunned and speechless, thought to be an unsolicited kiss coming his way. Before the boy could close his eyes to pucker up, Yahanaya revealed a halved lemon previously hidden in her left hand and promptly squished it into the boy’s left eye. The boy, not so much enraged as shocked and stunned, his left eye a burning world of citrus fire, flung Yahanaya from his lap, her absence thereby revealed the hard on she had been responsible for, and yelled, “What the fuck? You just punched me in the face with a lemon?!”
Yahanaya, always using reverse psychology in situations of sexual affront, perceived nothing wrong with her course of action for determining whether or not this boy liked her. Yahanaya, with deadpan ease, put it in plain terms for the boy to comprehend, “If you have a crush on me you have to fight me FOR REAL in the backyard.” This is a challenge the boy would later regret accepting not because of the immediate and authoritative kicks to the left shin he withstood from Yahanaya's forthright boot, or the realization that he was actually in danger of getting his ass kicked FOR REAL by a girl, who tattered the boy’s shirt and knocked him to the ground before thoughts of how hard to actually approach a seeming lunatic, whom he really didn’t have a crush on at all, congealed in his mind. The boy, like all young fellows looking for the path of least resistance to the hole, fatefully decided to admit, “Ok. I do have a crush on you.”
The boy came to regret this admission via submission because it eventually lead to a year’s worth of sporadic unannounced visits to his bedroom in the middle of the night where Yahanaya dressed up like a superhero and incoherently drunk, would somehow shimmy her way through the boy’s window and curl up next to him in bed. After the first few times the boy no longer attempted to disturb Yahanaya’s slumber. Rather, once the boy awoke to find Yahanaya by his side he would instinctually get out of bed and leave his own apartment, aimlessly.
One night Yahanaya showed up dressed like Elvis, replete with wig, faux chest-hair, gold shades, glued-on side burns, jump suit open at the cleavage revealing medallions, the works. Not even reluctantly, as if she had meant to intentionally blur the distinction being that their names were only a few letters apart, Yahanaya admitted on that night that she looked more like a shitty Evel Kenievel than she did Elvis. Yahanaya, again deadpan but with a tinge of an accent a la “Aint Nothin But a Hound Dog,” inquired with the boy, “Do you want to know what it feels like to fuck the King baby?” Instead of fleeing, the boy for once decided to take her up on her offer. So, Yahanaya did her fair share of banana harvesting during her time with the SPSM. She relegated her aggressive concupiscence to the principle of, “Action for the cause, or a cause for action. I forget which one,” as she’d put it.
For years Yahanaya ran through ‘twos of ‘em,’ would love ‘em then leave ‘em both, then move on to the next pair. Usually the naïve sets of pals never knew what had hit them. A poor young man would be crushed when Yahanaya broke the news that she was now fucking his best friend and, “What to do,” or “How to be,” after so many honest heartfelt nights, and haunting low moments, were merely notions of false attachment. Through a sea of ale and ecstasy, once even crack-cocaine, Yahanaya’s self-ordained quest for enlightenment was, according to her, “an attempt to see things for what they really are and to abandon figments of false reliances and attachments borne by the ego.” Hers was a quest leading to a daunting and inevitable fork in the road, an early defining moment Yahanaya would later revisit psychically in AA for spiritual strength.
During a night of heated collegiate debauchery, Yahanaya, while attempting to perform a rooftop-pissing demonstration, leaned over a gutter from two stories above ground. The subsequent plunge brought Yahanaya to grips with her own mortality as the break she suffered in her arm thereafter would force her to sleep with nine cold metal plates in it for the remainder of her mortal life. This was a productive arm, this arm of Yahanaya.
These days, utter sobriety is the invisible but necessary cast for Yahanaya’s modified arm, an appendage steering a ‘fresh start’ life where looking back is to perceive the shadow-self, a different part of the soul that is never truly extinguished but re-channeled. A continual living reincarnation within the conscious mind is achieved by actively choosing NOT to revert back while also acknowledging the realness of a shadow-self representing the past as a not so jolly green giant chaos figure, imagine the alcoholic hulk, a force that can re-present itself and quickly wreak utter havoc on serenity, a Dionysus to utter sobriety’s Apollo.
After bearing her first child and long after the SPSM had spit her out, Yahanaya’s longing to re-channel the chaos deep within benignly awakens with a desire to once again create art and music on her own. At such a tender age Yahanaya peered deep within the chasm and kissed the mouth of the melancholic abyss, the limits of human consciousness, the incapacity to comprehend the causal structure of being, the inability to negotiate the parameters of reality, and the way things really are.
Yahanaya, a hyper-aware special breed of intelligence and creativity, possessed a passionate longing to be liberated from the attachments of the material world. Yahanaya was once paralyzed by the irreconcilable dialectic. A life lost in thought is a life misspent while a life with too much doing is surely ill thought. During the years of the SPSM’s operation, Yahanaya’s anxieties reared their heads like baby medusas and were manifested through an obsession with destruction, mostly psychic, but sometimes physical, a rebellion against the human condition enacted through inadvertent self-destructive attempts to commune with the black sheep of consciousness, the “other better half,” the beast within, humanity’s dark animal, the shadow-self.
The fire in the soul of the child is truer than that of the aged as years spent beating ones head against brick walls cause senility. Excuses to no longer want to know, laziness, and complacency extinguish the nubile ‘lust rage’ within that urges one to go beyond, “in spite of,” a very different notion than forging ahead, “because of.” As Yahanaya now looks back on her life she questions whether the balance necessary for achieving true fulfillment is contingent on this “in spite of versus because of” dilemma. Or is it something entirely different? Yahanaya now understands that it is not something different at all. Rather, growing into awareness, true fulfillment, and peace of mind are borne through an inner desire to live “because of.” It is in “because of” that one finds meaning and the power to transcend the limits of human understanding. “Because of” is the bridge from total awareness over the bottomless pit of loneliness toward liberation and enlightenment, a higher power for which Yahanaya traded what she deemed to be the misspent days of her youth. “Because of” is the pineapple and celery in the cum-shot that is life, sweetening it and making it go a little further.