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Music A-H

Music I-P

Music Q-Z

Street performers

Music named for or inspired by Venice

What music says Venice to you

Francisco and His Cosmic Beam

Francisco Lupica interview

The Rhythm of Venice Beach

Studios, Labels, Venues

Oingo Boingo

Wild Blooms

Ted Hawkins

Slavin' David

Harry Partch by
Paul Tanck

Rickie Lee Jones

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Catlin poems on Harry Partch

Visions Fill the Eyes of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room:
a symphonic tone poem in three movements

1-Visions fill the eyes
So close to the desired end, earthly paradise is summarily withdrawn,
replaced by fevered heat dreams that rise from super-highway lanes,
borne on gasoline vapors instead of air, assuming the no longer
nebulous form of a white stretch limo parked in a blacktopped lot
outside the shower room, the arena, the black paneled windows smeared
with oil rich smoke and volcanic dust, acid rains etch furrows in,
spreading space like burst veins on a hot, slick surface, moist dots of
a clotted rain simmer and boil on, exploding, tiny worlds contained
therein, formerly entombed by glass, released now, lost galaxies of
hidden stars, marbelized, frozen in sidereal motion.

2-Of a defeated basketball team
Denied the basket and the ball, wordlessly they congregate at center
court, hours after the outcome, the arena emptied, shut in, lights
blackened, each man mimes his movements in the game they are forced to
play, scattered across the hardwood, twelve separate paths to the goal
silently blocked; in total darkness, they describe arcs to the hoop, no
longer one on one, they are blank, mirthless shadows within shadows,
silhouettes cut from darkness, pasted on a field of black, rising to the
occasion, spurred on by the worldess cheers of the dissipated crowd,
a white noise that rises and clings to the unseen rafters overhead like
smoke, a second skin or is it a flock of black birds descending in tight
circles, drawn downward by a primal need for revenge?

3-In the shower room
In he junkyard of Petaluma or wherever the detritus of civilization
collects, wherever the dead, exploded television sets collect, their
screens empty, glass fissured and scorched by internal combustion parts,
components in ruin, disconnected wireless radio messages, contained no
longer inside cracked stereophonic speakers released like the hot wired
audio machines welded to the generator that exploded expelling Compact
Discs, VCR tapes and cassettes, vinyl records that melt like blackened
eyes over the metal husks of rusted, ruined cars, on the tanks of
discarded toilets, in which all the filthy rain that falls, collects,
spreading tiny rainbows of oil and gasoline on the porcelain skies, rain
drops fill to different levels; a trained ear can make out the separate
discordant notes each drop makes, together, collectively, these notes
becomes a kind of symphony.

The Laundromat Revisited

Outside, the lettering on the picture window
says, LAUNDROMAT, inside we are through
a looking glass, listening to new music,
something that threatens to transcend sound,
a personal orchestra that the maestro dubs his
Instrumentarium, as he transcends ancient
graffiti from the never-been-washed-walls,
finding pencil markings that to us say,
"It's January 26. I'm freezing. Ed Fitzgerald.
Age 19. Five Foot Ten inches. Black Hair,
Brown Eyes...I wish I was dead. But today
I am a man..." but to him, these scratchings are
hieroglyphs he transcribes as notes on a blank
musical score in short hand by Gregg through
musical ideas by Schonberg. This man claims
to be Harry from the Junkyard of Petaluma
and he looks as if this may be true dressed as
he is in overalls smeared by all manner of offal
and grease that he insists came from practicing
new tonalities, random harmonies found striking
the sides of rain-water-filled commodes with
specially wrapped snare drum sticks. He insists
The Odes to Commodes are a small part of an
envisioned whole, a symphony for the ages
featuring Cloud Chamber Bowls, Kitharics and
Marimba Eroicas, instruments of his own invention.
Pausing in mid-explanation, suddenly preternaturally
alert, we sense maestro has discovered new time
signatures in the cycles of washing machines,
chaos ordered by the agitating props, an Orpheus
rising amid the soap suds, his Eurydice lost, her
uncanny aria drowned by a poet of other worlds
and antiquities chanting a personal lament,
"For death is all the fashion now, till even death
be dead."

 

 

"I am not an instrument builder only a philosophical man educated into carpentry."
Harry Partch

There is no concert hall,
no coliseum, no Hollywood
style bowl or acoustic wonder
like Carnegie to encompass his
work, his Gate 5 Ensemble,
a strange restructuring of
instruments, lengthened finger
boards for traditional instruments,
new creations, adapted guitars,
violas, tonalities amended
on the chromolodeon, a keyboard
for dreamers not satisfied with
the limitations of scale and note.
Only a new language and a new
alphabet for expression will
enable vision, new speaking:
Zymo-Xyle made from dented
hubcaps, kettletops, oak blocks
and old bottles in tune with
a Mazda Marimba those tuned
light bulbs severed at the sockets
and then eviscerated accompanied
by temple bells and gourd trees,
the magic of new seeing.
If, in another world,
the Marx Brothers are inventing
new music, their first composition
will be entitled: "I'm Just Wild
About Harry" and Partch will be
the leader of the band,
drawing arcs of flame from
stagnant air, wielding his deft
fingers instead of batons,
redescribing the night,
the day, this world and the next,
and the next thereafter.

 

Junkyard Self-Portrait in the Manner of Harry Partch

Dousing in cisterns with bent coat hangers,
mining the toilet tanks, dropping plumb
lines from junk heaped appliances, testing
refrigerator coils, sounding the bed springs,
wash boards, oil cans, all the spared parts
for a landfill sonata, for his atonal poems
of strange and unusual sounds, found music
for an expanded orchestra and an improvisational
scale, new notes invented for new instruments,
a devil's score composed completely by chance,
ecstatic and weird as a chorus of untrained
voices singing from random texts, no clear
directions provided, no key, no tempi, no cues,
nothing but a genius of seeing chaos as music.


 

"Laundromat Revisited" was published in Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review and "Visions Fill the Eyes" was published in Dirigible and was included in Catlin's selected poems Drunk and Disorderly published by Pavement Saw Press.

Contact the poet:
thecatlins (at) msn.com

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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