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Open Faces One


OPEN FACES, OPENING PLACES

Terreson, Florida 1987



Getting free of Wasteland themes is what led me back inside the ripening morphology of a Rock n Roll scene. As for the sweet people who inhabit these pages, if there is any resemblance to anyone living in the present and unfriendly order of things, I can only wish them a smoother way. On second thought, I would again ask to get steeped with them.



“We shall end by having had enough cynicism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically. How will that come to pass, and what will we really find? It would be interesting to be able to predict, but it is better still to be able to feel the kind of foreshadowing, instead of seeing absolutely nothing in the future beyond the disasters that are all the same bound to fall like terrible lightening on the modern world and on civilization, through a revolution or a war, or the bankruptcy of worm-eaten states.”

Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, in the south of France, 1888.


Come On In


Richard knows the precedent has already been established for this sort of thing, for sitting in the corner of a low life bar with pen, paper, and the unwinding thread of a story loosely in hand. What he doesn’t know is if a story dancing as closely to its storyteller as this one could be told. But he knows, for example, that the crazy Russian writer who had explored the regions belonging to dead and proprietary souls, the same as who had described swan songs of love over bordering steppes of Cossack emotion, had felt a particular fondness for scribbling away inside the dark and cooling reaches of a roadside tavern. Richard also knows of a successful writer, a Shakespearean scholar by day, who goes looking for a noisy bar when it comes time to unlock the gates holding back matters more watery than another opinion on some dramatic polestar. And he has always wondered, while feeling his way between the straightened lines of a newspaper’s report on the natural, and not so natural, disasters attending somewhere inside the global village, at how many jiggers of liquor had been needed for a frontline reporter to dilute outraged impressions; or how many lines had been crossed out for that report to be tailored to the requirements of a safer society back home looking to be informed, not overthrown.

But there are stories, and then there are stories. The one he is setting out to tell, Richard figured, is of a kind that cannot be told from some middling point of observation, nor even with a frame of reference to lean his back against while taking his bearings in the uncharted sea of emotions swirling around him. Sitting here, now, with a tumbler of whiskey to purify what he sees, he isn’t even certain if it is a story that can be told. He has a hunch that, sooner or later, he must be pulled down with it, since, the text is all around him and the content is the page. There are no pictures of superimposed images that, at the very least, could be scraped clean. And he doesn’t really know if the perfectly modern art of film-splicing personal lives could be of much help to him either. It is just a sea, the story of rock n roll that surges through them all. And they are all like fishes, big and little, being buffeted by the same current of warming energies, looking for the same sunny places and dark water valleys, and having been stirred by the same libido hunger. They will all keep to the story until each in their turn has been coughed up onto some sandy stretch of land, and bleached as white as bone. The best he could hope for, Richard decides, is to maybe learn a new trick, and to keep to it for as long as he can. And so he has lately taken to studying the circling patterns of wood ibises flying while resting on currents of purest motion high above his watery home.

A watery home. It’s what Richard had come back to. Just before his mother died, and finally admitting that the dining and drinking circuit of nighttime service is the only way he is going to support his writing habit, he quit a piebald career of jobbing adventures to return to the restaurants and bars from where he had first looked out onto the changing light play of days going into night. He had also returned to the marshy home of the subtropical climate that first formed him. She told him, then, it is in his blood, his making the rounds of nighttime service. He could remember reaching an involuntary hand to his neck to check for the signs of a moon mark. He didn’t much like hearing her tell him that, or hearing the note of triumph her voice carried. He also hadn’t cared for the earliest memories the rake of her words uncovered for him. Such as being perched on a barstool while his father neatly measured off the slippery glasses of liquor, and being unable to make any sense of the dark faced desires curling all around the room. Or of waiting in some free zone of a restaurant, what was always known as the waitresses table, while his mother served her platters and started her customers off on another night of soft illusions. But it wasn’t so much the waking memories he didn’t care to be reminded of, as it was the memories of the waking nights when he would start from a bad dream while waiting for those two workers to come home. The sharks, the ghosts, the gardens from which he was being chased in the moonlight, and the swamps and the marsh bottoms entangled in snakes up to the knees. He knows now, looking back at these things, there had been no reason to fear the swirling sea dreams that could rise out of the ocean for so many tourists, and aching hearts, who came to his beachside town for an eternal summer’s grace. He just wasn’t in a position, those many years ago, to understand the nature of so much unfettered, unfettering, energy. Or that the order of things that first nourished him, the one he is now willing to cultivate, was not as unfriendly a place as it first seemed. So maybe she was right. Maybe his blood did run more freely inside the neon tubes of a seaside city.

Richard knows, then, that the story he is sitting here to tell has never really left him. All he has to do is unwrap the brown paper covering another memory, or feel the flaring of his nostrils at the scent of a reddening hibiscus flower brushing past him in close quarters, or even admit the sadness that can open his chest at the sight of pretty-face-images passing through the room, to understand there are some things that never do leave. He can concede, if not to a literary friend, that the epiphany of a madeleine eater always seemed to him to be less a moment of high discovery than a closer reason for unending explorations into regions of lonely geography. Such as with the reasoning vein he is looking to mine in the geography of the mothering culture everyone knows as rock n roll. Besides, how can the years die, either then or now, or be lost down some long tunnel of never again, since, they don’t even die on a cellular level? There are just so many packages for Richard to open, both then and now, whose contents of liquid emotions always come as a surprise. Such as the first Go-Go girl he had ever seen, fluttering around in her cage above his father’s bar, and trying in the best way she knew not to bruise her wings while losing her sense of herself to the new, and rainy, weather coming in on a California breeze; and who maybe wondered at how many more blinds would fool her before she found a nesting ledge along her own life’s ridge. Or the fighter pilot who brought what first had been an exotic war into Richard’s early adolescence when he tried to drunkenly take possession of the bar, and who Richard’s father had reminded it was still a war being played outside by bouncing him out the door. Richard could still see a fighter pilot’s face, streaming with tears, as he too easily let an older man from an older war carry him out the door. And Richard knows these are only the stock and trade memories of his generation; that they are all personally relevant, and generally useful for the purpose of space/time coordinations, so long as you have the right code. But he also has a hunch they are of the sort that stop their kicking, crying, and trying only at such a time as the thread of logic running through a rock n roll generation rounded itself perfectly and tied itself off in a kind of unbreakable bloodknot. Which is the rainbow surprise Richard feels tonight, and sitting in Tara’s Place. It is the thread of a heart’s kind of logic still seeking to round itself, still trying to make itself perfect, and still half-way wondering if it ever can. It is also what could bring Richard to the more problematical side of the story, or how it is a story never really the same. Like some slender waisted river girl belonging to some !@#$ drenched, unwashed Greek, it is a story never the same twice over, always different. Being here tonight, while waiting for his friend Sean to get off from work at the uptown restaurant where they both tended bar, and looking through the heavier-than-air medium that can as easily burst into flames, as it can wash them all in a high tide of midnight emotions, Richard sees the real difficulty to telling this kind of tale is that it nightly changes along the feeling lines of its own telling. And that after so many years of unfolding, of following a kind of unreasoning reasoning, it still reaches back to a place somewhere inside itself, transforming itself, and nightly making itself new again. Every bar Richard has ever been in has run the same gamut of infinite variables. Tara’s Place is no different, it is just not the same.


Last edited by Terreson, Jan/1/2011, 3:44 pm
Dec/18/2010, 6:34 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces One




The band playing up on the stage tonight is a local trio that mostly keeps to the strains of rhythm and blues. This being what they are doing now, and letting the rest of Tara’s swimmers tag along, as they make their dive deeper down inside their music. Richard knows the bass player slightly, and he sat with the man earlier in the evening, along with a few other bench warming dudes, outside on Tara’s porch. Alex is a mountain man from Kentucky who can play his back-up bass like some long haired Daniel Boone cradling a rifle in his arms. And even when his turn came to go chasing after a note or two, he would still be standing somewhere inside himself while his fingers tell the strings and frets what to do. But they were sitting on the porch while the sun was slowly being swallowed up inside the marshland and sandflats of the interior, and they had been feeling how the night wind was coming on and changing directions. They had also been watching the cars cruising by, and watching how Tara’s Place was filling up for the evening. One of the cars, especially, asked for and received their attention. It was a silver gray corvette of indeterminate age, and slowing to a stop at the street’s stop sign. As it did, its driver peered up and through its cutaway roof while turning on an interior light to show them all his face. Then it slowly drove out of the side street that was Tara’s to a chorus of catcalls and wolf whistles coming from the porch. And one of the Nam vets, Chuck, climbed up onto the porch’s banister, simply singing – Come on in! Come on In! - Richard looked around and exchanged a smile with Alex, and Alex nodded, saying as he did – Prep City, Baby. - He was up there now, up on the stage, with a drummer whose eyes always seemed to be leading the band down some disappearing line of perspective, while the lead guitarist was trying hard to fly away, fly so high, flying away from his daytime worries. And Richard started to wonder if the rhythm man would make it tonight. Also wondering about come on in, come on in.

There is just no other way to describe what is in these places. Rock n roll was nothing less than a sea of emotions. And coming into Tara’s is like finding yourself at the bottom of that sea again, maybe after a day of stormy weather, or of shallow, rock scraping matters. It is like coming across an underwater city in which there is an enclosed precinct, an overgrown park of evergreen trees and flowering bushes, of unruly paths and long, liquid walks. The further inside you walk the more you felt at home. The more you want to stay there, in that moment – for always, forever now. But then the next night might be different. Flowering faces may have changed, or turned away, leaving you to stumble inside an unfamiliar room. The silent strings that drew you down the night before, the ones you may have even followed home, could have also snapped or been drawn around another changing place-name. And if you were so inclined, each time you entered this forest of musical emotions, you might stop off at a place a little closer to shore, a little safer and more in keeping with your own sense of well being. Then everything that is still changing inside, still trying to stay liquid and alive, might become nothing more than a sweet cheat for you. You wouldn’t necessarily admit you are afraid of changing too, or that there are some games in which cheaters always lose. But you would still know, at that quiet place of knowing and with a cellular kind of thinking, that in the deepest part of this underwater park, where very little is at it seems, a light-in-shadow game was being played whose stakes are a rainbow dream, and where the winner is given another chance at being tilled and turned back under.

This, at least, is something of what swirls through Tara’s tonight, as it does every night, while the rhythm and blues boys up on the stage wash them all in a rhythm and blues wave. And it is always the same, only different, since, the very nature of the game keeps you from playing it in the same way twice. Maybe someone should tack up a sign at the entrance to the bar in the interest of fair play. Something as perfectly unoriginal, and to the point, as: ABANDON HOPE ALL YE CHEATERS WHO STUMBLE THROUGH THESE DOORS. Even if Richard isn’t all that certain what could keep any of them from letting out an occasional cheat, or a good line, in spite of their best intentions. And even if he has a hunch it has to do with a deepening of perceptions. This being what he banks on, sitting here now with pen, paper, and the moorings of a table, while hoping somehow to open a door within a door. He knows that, sooner or later, he would have to let go of all these things too, that it isn’t a story he can tell without getting told. He asked an older friend a question, earlier in the evening, much to the same point.

Hugh is an older sailor, and of an age that sets him a little apart from Richard’s generation. He has spent most of his life on the sea, and in bars such as this when on land. Richard has never seen him be very kind to himself. He is always spending himself furiously, as if he can live forever. But there is also a certain amount of detachment to Hugh, a kind of amusement with his own disorderly proceedings that never seems to leave him, even after he closes down another bar, and the bare electric light bulbs get switched on to show them all the door. It is an involved kind of detachment that was explained to Richard’s satisfaction the night Hugh told him his training had been in anthropology. The explanation was enough for Richard to understand his friend is another one of the last, and falling away, romantics; a seafaring intellectual still hoping to find a soul-light’s treasury just over the ocean’s not-so-distant line. But Hugh has been in town for over a year, his sailing vessel having been impounded by the authorities as material evidence in a cocaine arrest. He recently had it returned to him and he was making it ready to take him back down to the islands. And so Richard has been asking Hugh questions, such as why does he keep coming into these places instead of staying on his boat and letting himself be rocked in the slow and easy rise and fall of a river’s docking. On this one in particular, Richard wasn’t certain if Hugh understood what he was asking, as his friend just kept pulling at his beard until Richard began to think the strokes of inebriated contemplation would be his reply. But then Hugh stopped his stroking, and he said he didn’t know for sure, except he thought it may be curiosity. When Richard asked him about what, Hugh slowly waved an arm to take in the surrounding space of Tara’s room. When Richard suggested it was all still pretty uncharted, Hugh’s eyes lit up for a moment before saying he still wondered where it would all be taking him. Which is pretty much it, Richard thinks again as he gets ready to leave for the night, and realizing Sean would not be stopping in. It is as if they are all still dancing, swimming, or, even, dreaming inside the precincts of a Dionysian kind of grove where face masks are constantly giving way to newly uncovered face masks, and in whose grove they still keep to an idea of streaming embraces, wondering about a loveliness they couldn’t even name. And it didn’t seem to matter how many times you have to circle the grove, or how deeply you might become lost before finding the hiding place of that loveliness, so long as you never traded the pleasures you could surrender for the ones you had to steal, or, even barter. Which, he had a feeling, meant they would have to keep to this story, and they would have to keep surrendering everything they owned under the cover of its doorway, if only to get it right once.
Dec/19/2010, 3:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Open Faces One


Terreson,

I finally got around to reading this first part. Your style comes through. There is a denseness through it that could discourage a literary agent because they are looking for easy reads. It wasn't as easy to read as the series of vignettes you wrote over the last two or three years. Your vignettes are like Hemingway's short stories (in my book) and comparing them to your longer lit is like comparing Hemingway's short stories to his novels. Having said that, I think that this is serious literature, and there are enough gems sprinkled throughout that makes it worth reading. I'm going to continue reading. My comments may coalesce as I read the various sections, and they may become more clear.

Many times it will take me a while before I get around to something. For example, I bought the bestseller by Marlantes, a Vietnam war novel, a year ago. It sat on the shelf for a year before I finally read it. Things compete for attention.

Glad I read this. Zak
Nov/1/2011, 6:56 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: Open Faces One


Zak, the novel will keep up for as long as the board is around. Three years into the board and I'm looking forward to three more. You got time.

Novels are different from all shorter prose forms. They require a world self-contained in the narrative. I learned this from the same masters Hemingway learned from. His big teacher having been Flaubert.

Hope I give you entertainment.

Tere
Nov/1/2011, 7:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 




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