ISSUE #1            OCTOBER, 2000
page 6 of 8

Bob Bannister, from a post on the Kosmigroove mailing list:
The "non-idiomatic" approach to free improv (avoiding anything that is tonal or has any rhythmic "periodicity" [that's free jazz lingo for "groove"]) results in the following paradox: "in their rigorous avoidance of anything familiar sounding, it all ends up sounding the same."

Don Cherry MADE Ornette Coleman....May I suggest a little Don Cherry to remedy the above? Free jazz that might actually be almost 98% 'free,' and totally grooving, totally gushing. "Like the feeling of a breeze in your face." Exactly. (Don Cherry said that to describe the quality he loves about jazz music. ) Also nothing like a 'rigorous avoidance' of anything, no fear of incorporating the 'familiar sounding' if it is there making like it should be incorporated. Listen to the two Mu albums, First Part and Second Part, as released in the 1960s on Actuel (see below), now reissued (and perhaps already in need of a repress) on CD by Charly. Free-flowing duets, anchored by Ed Blackwell's hammering grooves, over which Cherry floats his "breeze in your face" brass fantasy melodies. (The 'breeze in your face' style is his link to the past, to a "jazz tradition" that even Wynton Marsalis would approve of, exemplified by bop standards such as "Breezy," and by extension tunes like "A Foggy Day," "Softly As A Morning Sunrise," even things like "Autumn Leaves"and "Stormy Weather," because their titles and 'moods' suggest the possibility of 'outdoors' -- and therefore wind, breeze, etc. "in your face.")

Don Cherry...MADE propeller beanies...the hip fashion statement that they are today SOME DON CHERRY LINKS:
A page that is basically an ad for a CD-Rom interview with Cherry. It is worth checking out for a couple sound clips from the interview as well as some fine pictures. (And who knows, you may want the CD-Rom, I kinda do. I'm such a consumer.)

An extensive discography on a web page from Japan.

KOSMIGROOVE can be accessed thru:







BIG SHIT ABOUT MELTZER   He’s the closest to making a story stay a story while turning into sequences of just----------t--------------t------------t----------t jagged lines on a page, zeros and ones or at least just black squiggly shapes tyepset onto white space------- ------ -------- -------- ----- then then then there’s there’s there’s things things things like like the the Pendulum Pendulum Pendulum review review review of of of the the the Creedence Creedence Creedence LP LP LP, which which which is is is yeah yeah concrete rete rete poetry try try,,, rock rock and roll roll styleyleyleyleyleyleyl…
.. (reverb unit style) but Meltzer rarely writes outright concrete poetry – what he is really doing almost 90-94 percent of the time is writing actual journalistic essay prose about things he’s done, events he’s attended, and what he thinks about things. Y’know, ‘standard’ personal essay material but of course he is still cutting it up ('subverting,' 'deconstructing,' 'blah,' 'blah blah') with all sorts of unpremeditatedly (though by now, at least 15-20% meditated) ‘personal’ techniques, namely the extensive-to-the-point-of-‘method’ use of slang, and a slang that ends up being so unique to Meltzer that it becomes (to the ‘average reader’) sustained gibberish….

I can write like Meltzer. ‘Rockwriters’ say that other ‘rockwriters’ often ‘write’ like Meltzer, it’s a common thing. I can do it too, and like any form of imitation, the flattery can get annoying. The only thing that might save me when I get to writing like him is that my intent is different -- hey, we're totally different people. Meltzer’s intent often seems to be to write, as Charles Lieurance said, "like an insane person." However, in the afterword to the 1990 reissue of the 1972 book Gulcher, he reveals that his real intention was to write like a PRE-SCHOOLER, and indeed, he can do very well. Okay, I’ll quote ‘im on it:
            "Then I remember—thank fuck for something—that what it was about was KINDERGARTEN. Kindergarten, y’know, preschool, as sacred writerly First Principle: everybody, I contended (and still contend), should go play with mud for a while, fishtank slime, at least blocks. Stack ‘em, knock ‘em over (piss on ‘em). Splash paint on teacher’s pantsuit. Throw spitballs. Every growed-up writeperson, every so-called creative jackjill (of whatever persuasion), really should get that 'basic'—or why bother?—am I right?"
            This afterword is also published in A Whore Just Like The Rest, and in Meltzer’s introduction to that he clarifies further:
            "A couple more things should be said about the context in which most of this dizziness was conceived: For better or worse, however narrow/broad you wanna draw the demograph, rock-roll was/is—and clearly was then—a music earmarked for KIDS, and one of its bottom-line burdens was thus to arm kids against their parents and, at a real trench-warfare level, their teachers. As a rockwriter (or hell: postrock-writer) it seemed my burden as well: to interpose myself in there somewhere, to offer a pattern of disobedience and with it (perchance) a system for transcending schoolteach authority, its culture, its spell: to, in the most basic fashion, get in there and muck it up so that kids, if they followed my example, did my homework, ha, would never again be COERCED into unsplitting their infinitives, knowing which president fought Sonny Liston, or accepting ANY school-hands as dealt, any classroom/textbook paradigms of anything. (Though I use the kindergarten model, obviously this entails the whole damn K through 12.) Hey, I’d been liberated, time to pass it on."
             So gosh, all along Meltz has been doin’ it….for the kids.

          ….Tim Ellison of San Diego, who writes a hell of a lot like Meltzer in his zine Modern Rock Mag, said in a letter to me (which wasn’t written so much like Meltzer) that he thinks Meltzer is totally repeating himself and hasn’t created anything as good as his ‘good’ stuff for fifteen years….okay I’m re-and-perhaps-misinterpreting your letter here a bit through memory, hi Tim, but I disagree, I think Meltzer is still doing all kinds of good stuff, such as the John Cage review and the fairly devastating piece on the LA Riots ("One White Man’s Opinion") and what I believe to be his stone masterpiece, the San Diego Peep Shows and Piano Bars thing, to name just three, and really I enjoyed the last half of Whore Just Like The Rest more than the first--it’s laid out more or less chronologically, and the early stuff is just too ‘DADA,’ too ‘concrete,’ it’s fun for what it is, i.e. it’s fun TO LOOK AT and to think about like a good comedy sketch on TV is fun to think about, but there isn’t as much ‘insight payoff’ – which Meltzer can deal out in spades – as there is in the later stuff.

          To say it another way, I’ve always admired Meltzer’s early work but not in a way that I care to read every word. Like with Burroughs -- even if you make it through Naked Lunch, are you really gonna read every word of The Soft Machine AND Nova Express after it? (Okay, I read every word of all three but in retrospect I can't say I needed to.) The Aesthetics of Rock really is concrete poetry when it comes to reading every word, because most of it is made up of intentionally obtuse philosophy-of-rock jive, tunneling through one basic statement of purpose with thousands of phrases that end up being zeroes and ones (figuratively not literally). All of these sequential words, which you could read, or, if you just unfocus your eyes a bit, instead merely appreciate as artful black lines running across many many pages that spell ONE WORD, a vast kabbalistic word which some say cannot be spoken aloud, and other people pronounce as "OM," and still other people haven’t even ‘learned’ yet, dig, but of course they too ‘feel it’ during quiet times and certain periodic rites like daydreams, sex, cooking/eating, deep conversation, familial love, celebrations with music, drug experiences (including things like aspirin and caffeine), etc. etc. and here’s some tiny extracts from that ONE VAST WORD as Meltzer spells it (looked at with a micromicrominiscope), two examples, back to back footnotes on p. 61 (Da Capo, 1987):
73. His [Ray Charles’s] only blues relapse occurs on Crying Time in the form of dead-mother/lost-sight sadness. And maybe (occasionally) in his seemingly enforced isolation to the problem of working his way out of other guys’ songs which deal in content with his general recent (past-perplexing) scene, "Yesterday" ("wait a minute!") and "Eleanor Rigby" ("died in the church and was buried along with her name, nobody came, all the lonely people…") in particular.
              74. "Will the moon still hang in the sky, when I die" ("Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" by Jefferson Airplane) focuses standard rock necrophilial vision in a conceptually imperceptible temporal modality. This forced naïve extension to the non-reiterative locates functional necrophilia/renaissance (actually, suddenness of vision of persistence/ continuance after conceptual gap of a priori inattention) in death/posthumousness iteration.

              A WHOLE LOT of the book is like that, hard to fathom but rhythmic – ‘jive’ is really the best word, or what I meant above by ‘slang.’ With The Aesthetics of Rock, and many short pieces from around that time (like "Recent Reinstantiations of Flea-Flop in the Mustard Tusk Scene," pp. 43-52 in Whore Just Like The Rest), Meltzer was goofing on the ‘slang’ of the philosophy undergraduate, or more specifically the possibilities implied by the ‘slang’ of the philosophy undergraduate, and his goof was to write reams of philosophical jargon about rock'n'roll, injecting it with beat-spirit rhythm to make it 'rock' as per the subject. The end result doesn't end up making much sense but that’s Meltzer’s point all along, because how rock works is indescribable, because it is "OM," it is the sound of one hand clapping, it's the river you can't step into twice…..which is what I mean by his book The Aesthetics of Rock, when read sequentially, taking shape on the printed ‘readerly’ page as one long "OM" from the spirit of the universe, which, we all know, as vast as it is, is still just an "O" and an "M." What makes Meltzer "Great IMHO" is that if you dip into the "OM," frame by frame, say on page (as Meltzer himself suggests in the Foreword) "204, 66, 148, 155, 222, 142 (paragraph 2), 156, 86 (footnote), 318, 312, 146, 130, 256, 236, 220, 181, 173 (paragraph 2), 308 (paragraph 3), 322, 261 (footnote), 284," on any of these pages, at any moment, he is capable of peeling off some prose that sticks to the wall and hums. Such as what is probably his most infamous paragraph, at least from the first half of his career; the ‘thesis statement’ of his essay on Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Approx. 5-6 pages long, it was originally published in Crawdaddy magazine, and then edited into Aesthetics on pp. 224-230. In Whore Just Like The Rest, it is reprinted alone, a much punchier presentation. Said infamous paragraph:
Okay, let’s work on a logic of ascent/descent that’s more fun and even less fun than Fitch proofs or Nelson Goodman or even the famous Aristotle. Man like we can be so high that the high is irrelevant and so systematic that system crumbles so we might as well be structurally ready and readily structural so we can guarantee a good time for all total awareness freaks. Of course A and not-A. Of course, of course. Although she feels as though she’s in a play, she is anyway. I can pick your face out from the front or behind. It really doesn’t matter, if I’m wrong I’m right. And some people like to talk anyway, like Paul McCartney in The True Story of the Beatles: "John propositioned me. He told me that he thought the group could do nicely and anyway it was a lot of fun. He didn’t talk about the possibility of turning professional. It was me, I think, who realized that skiffle could easily lead to some useful pocket money so that we’d be able to date the girls and maybe get a few clothes for ourselves. Remember, though, we were very young…" (a peculiar quotation for a paragraph on logic). Enter: Jimi Hendrix, pre-literate, post-articulate, proto-logical, bi-lingual (at least English and American), plurisignative. His major logical contribution: (A pubic hair B).
           The A pubic hair B correlative is illustrated by Meltzer with a line drawing that I’m not going to show you in this article, ‘cause I’ve already spoiled enough, and you should see the rest for yourself.

        Now? Now. I’ve maybe, in about 40-60 various 5-60 minute ‘sittings’ I’ve had with Aesthetics of Rock, read the equivalent amount of pages/words as the whole thing (346 pages), but there are still whole pages, whole book-chunks, that I probably have never even looked at. For example, just two days ago, I read a great paragraph about Ornette Coleman and jazz-as-rock that I had never noticed before:
          But Blue Cheer is outdone cacophony-wise if not volume-wise by Ornette Coleman's great Free Jazz, which had eight guys (including the late great Eric Dolphy at his most honk-oriented) just wailing for half an hour and occasionally coming together for a theme reminiscent of "Swinging On A Star" just for polar contrast. The late great John Coltrane tried to top this with his Ascension session but just about didn't, so in this year of Blue Cheer Free Jazz is making its way into ordinary record store windows for the first time (released around 1960/61/62). A letter in Downbeat a while back angrily suggested that the people buying Ornette-Dolphy-Coltrane stuff just have to be teen-age rock and roll fans because the chaos affinities were obvious, whereas the letter writer himself, who had been raised on the tasteful bands of yore, was still buying and loving good wholesome Count Basie. It's nice to see such distance as genetically possible within jazz itself. This easily generalizable distance allegory just about makes jazz elgible for consideration as not only a source of the music of rock but as holder of membership within rock as a foreshadowing and continuing subset.
        Okay, this little treatise might have started as a review of A Whore Just Like The Rest, which I highly recommend to anyone with eyes, but it really ended up as a quote-fest from The Aesthetics of Rock, which is probably my least favorite of Meltzer's books. Still, as you can probably tell, it contains much insight for those willing to subject themselves to it. I hope I haven't gone beyond the bounds of propriety by quoting all this stuff, and I hope it'll inspire you to read this guy yourself, and buy his books so that he'll make some royalties, and that sort of thing.

Meltzer circa 1980

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