What I am about to unload is so disgustingly rich in degradation that it will rock you like a hurricane and chill you to your inner Borgnines. My hair is the worst it’s been since I was 9. Similar in texture to that fake hair you find at the end of sticks that hippies wave unconvincingly in the air at badly organised outdoor festivals. I’ll probably have it cut when you see me again and be revived!
(photo pinched from here: thomashawk.com)
Modest Mouse were fiery as all hell the other night. They keep producing hit after hit. I can name a bunch of bitching tunes of theirs off the top of my head (Heart Cooks Brain, Convenient Parking, Lounge (Closing Time), Gravity Defies Everything, Third Planet, Float On, Ocean Breathes Salty, Black Cadillacs, Blame it on the Tetons, Bukowski) plus a few killer ones off their latest, which is flannellette funk at its finest (Parting of the Sensory, Missed the Boat, Dashboard, Florida). The Mouse were much better than the last time we saw them with (name-dropping alert!) thirty three and a third of The Cannanes. That was shitful. Love the Cannanes.
Speaking of whom, or rather fifty percent of that fraction of feelings, she (FJ to the G) recently introduced me to Simon Gray, who writes while he thinks (in The Smoking Diaries), whereas I have spent several hours on this sentence alone, though it is really superbly well-crafted, ye must admit. I suppose I’d be a little disappointed if Simon did revisions although I believe he does because every now and again he alerts you to the fact he’s going to leave something there as it is and if he wrote everything down that came to him in an instant, he wouldn’t be saying stuff like that.
I particularly enjoyed reading his recollections of Robert Lowell, who he once had a sardonic, drunken dinner with. Simon was mates with Ian Hamilton who I recall wrote two books that I read and adored called Searching for JD Salinger and another about the literary heavyweights of the 20s working in Hollywood. He was also Lowell’s biographer and one memorable night long ago Lowell was dropped off in Soho by a middle-aged mistress mute long after Hamilton and Gray had already eaten. Lowell then proceeded to order copious oysters which he didn’t so much as touch and mucho wine when there were already two bottles half drunk on the table. Just disgraceful.
Gray is appalled and disgusted yet impressed to see Lowell writing a cheque as he gets up to leave. Lowell hands Hamilton the check then is whisked away by his drab mistress. Hamilton shows Gray a cheque made out to the tune of six million dollars.
What amuses me most about this recollection is that in The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer describes Lowell as a serene angel of unfathomable depth, whose intelligence and grace makes Mailer feel furiously inadequate. I don’t think Lowell was any tamer I just think that Mailer was quite severely mad. The portrait of Lowell was so touching in Mailer’s book that I bought a collection of poems in Daylesford over the Queen’s Birthday and it was with Lowell’s poems where I truly believed that I began to understand how to read poetry. Why it’s simple, I thought, you read it like prose. How I was blissfully enlightened by such a rudimentary concept befuddled me.
Gray quotes a Lowell poem in ‘The Smoking Diaries’ as the only one he has really admired called ‘Home After Nine Months Away’, so I looked it up in the collection I have (Selected Poems) and I all I found was 'Home After Three Months Away'. Gray either has it wrong or there’s another poem out there. Personally I could care less. I read the thing when I was brutally hungover on Saturday and it did not register in the slightest way whatsoever with my thick skull and I became rather pissed off you know. Began hating myself. I won’t reach for it now, but honestly it felt like everything I had worked hard for just walked out of my life for good like a wife and six kids in a trailer park that deserves a lot better than this. I'm pretty sure I'm delusional.