Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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Archiv: Januar 2018

2018 30 Jan

Friesen Akt H21

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„Es war am Wochenende unseres Jahrhunderts, als ich bei starkem Unwetter auf einem westfriesischen Deich entlangging. Zur Linken hatte ich schon seit über einer Stunde die öde, bereits von allem Vieh geleerte Marsch, zur Rechten, und zwar in unbehaglichster Nähe, das Wattenmeer der Nordsee. Ich leugne nicht, ich wünschte mich mitunter in sicheres Quartier.“
 
(aus dem etwas veränderten Schimmelreiter von Theodor Storm)

 

Ich fand eine gemütliche Unterkunft in Leeuwarden. Ganz in der Nähe befand sich der schiefe Turm von Pisa, so wurde die alte Kirche genannt. Ein turmhohes Klanggebäude war daneben aufgebaut, verhängt mit durchsichtigen, „den heulenden Böen“ standhaltenden Planen. Pünktlich zu dem Jahrhundertereignis sah man nur schattenhaft das niederländische Königspaar die Kulturhauptstadt von Europa 2018 einläuten:
 
 

LEEUWARDEN UND  FRIESLÂN.
 

Kom dyn nêst ut jonge

Li nêst waarm fan feline

Skuor iepen de gerdinen

Spring derút de dei is Nu

Hearst de klokken
 

(aus dem Eröffnungslied: Seis oere thus)

 
 

Alle Glocken in Friesland läuteten um 22:15 am Samstagabend. Ich stellte mir die Bauern der Einödhöfe oder der Warftanwesen vor, wie sie stolz unter ihrer Glocke standen. Oder wie der Deichgraf seinen Schimmel zur Rückkehr lenkt, um dem vertrauten Geläut die Ehre zu geben.

Mir gefällt die provinzielle Choreographie ausgesprochen  gut. Hier hat ein Organisationsteam für die Kulturhauptstadt 2018 seine Umgebung betrachtet und dann geplant. Drei Kulturprojekte, in denen sich die friesische Provinz widerspiegelt, seien hier vorgestellt.
 
 

1. POETIC POTATOES
 

Kleine Kartoffelsäcke, an denen Gedichte befestigt sind, sollen per Schiff nach Valetta (die andere Kulturhauptstadt2018) gebracht werden. Von dort sollen Gedichte und Kartoffeln zurückgesendet werden.
 
 

2. In dem Song „Genius“ besingt Warren Zevon das „meisje“ aus Leeuwarden.
 
 

„Mata Hari had a house in France

Where she worked on all her secret plans

Men were falling for her sight unseen

She was a genius“
 
 

Das FriesMuseum widmet seine schönsten Räume seiner schönsten Einwohnerin Margareta Zelle, später dann MATA HARI.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Es sind nun 100 Jahre her, dass sie von 12 Fusilisten erschossen wurde. Ein Schuss traf ihr Herz. Da war sie 41 Jahre alt. Der meist begehrte Körper dieser außergewöhnlichen Frau wurde in ein Pariser Krankenhaus zu Studienzwecken gebracht. Ihr hübscher Kopf wurde entwendet und ist bis heute nicht auffindbar. Aktuell sitzen französische Juristen über der Akte von Agentin H21, um herauszufinden, ob Mata Hari wirklich auch für die Deutschen spioniert hatte. Bereits zweimal haben die Stadtväter von Leeuwarden nach Paris geschrieben und darum gebeten, ihr Meisje von aller Verratsschuld freizusprechen. Zweimal wurde dies abgelehnt. Man darf auf das Ergebnis der Aktenuntersuchung gespannt sein.
 
 
3. PASSAGE DE LA BALEINE 2015
 
Ich gehe durch die Gasse im kleinen Leeuwarden und denke an das große Passagenwerk von Paris. Dieses riesige Walskelett über mir ist jetzt echt eine Herausforderung. Wie bekomme ich es an meine Leine? Dieser Auftritt würde doch die frühere Eleganz der ausgeführten Schildkröten toppen, oder?

„Es ist meine letzte Momentaufnahme der europäischen Intelligenz.“
 
(Walter Benjamin)

 
Sjoddy = See you
 
 
 

 

„Noise can become so complex that you get to a sort of complete gridlock, a kind of stasis; it’s almost meditative at its most extreme. I always remember Lester Bangs saying he had a friend who took acid once a year to blow all the shit out of his system. Bangs responded by saying that he, instead of taking acid once a year, played Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. I thought that was great.“

audio

2018 27 Jan

Brush with Life

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[Suggestion: Try reading this piece while listening to the MP3, (with headphones if possible,) which although recorded in my studio, is typical of the kind of atmospheric free Eel River music we play down in the Yolla Bolly.]

 

 

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” — Jack Kornfield

Every year for more than a decade, my best friend/music partner and I have gone backpacking into the Yolla Bolly Wilderness region, a stretch of some 284-square miles of open country nestled deep in the Mendocino National Forest in northern California. My friend Pablo, a classical guitarist and singer who teaches music in elementary schools in the Bay Area, makes his home in the Bolly for a month nearly every summer to clear his head. He makes multiple trips down to the middle fork of the Eel River, where he sets up a luxurious campsite, complete with beach guitar, chairs, novels, sheet music, and plenty of amenities. There he practices Bach and composes with nothing but the river as his accompanist. When he is not practicing, the silence is only broken by the occasional sweet falling song of a bird calling in the wee hours of the morning and again at dusk.

About halfway through his solo trip, I come up to meet him in the little, colorful, sun-drenched town of Covelo, where the residents are a mix of Native Americans, hippies, and farmers. There we stock up on supplies at Keith’s Market before heading into the forest. It’s a 10-mile drive to the fire road, and then, to get to the trailhead, another 25 miles or so of rutted dirt roads, so funky that without four-wheel drive, one must go no faster than 15 mph – any attempt to drive faster will undoubtedly result in a flat tire. (I speak from experience.)

The drive in is breathtaking. Leveling off at around 4000 feet, the road winds through steep back-country, a near straight drop on one side revealing open land and distant mountains covered in fir and pine. Except for the rare lake, it’s a dry, rocky, and foreboding world.

Our ritual is always the same: We camp close to the trailhead the first night, grill some fresh chicken or salmon and veggies, and drink a cold bottle of Chardonnay. After breakfast we trek down to the river before the sun gets too high.

 

 

The walk to the river isn’t really that bad for a couple of older guys, even those with full packs and hangovers. A fire road for the first several miles, the trail to the river becomes a series of switchbacks straight down to the campsite. Across the river, rocky canyon walls dotted with trees reach straight for the sky. The river isn’t too wide here, no more than 30-feet across. Lush water plants and smooth rocks create small eddies, transforming the area into a peaceful sanctuary. Surrounding the campsite on two sides are low rock walls, which provide protection from the river as well as convenient food-preparation areas and a natural built-in fireplace. With its shade tree and sandy ground, it’s an ideal spot to pitch a tent.

Once we settle in, the routine is a simple, relaxing one: It’s often cold in the morning, so upon rising we don our down jackets and long underwear, get a fire going, and heat up water for coffee. The usual jokes are made after the previous night’s meal of notorious Indian Tasty Bites. I remark that the brand name of Pablo’s sleeping bag, “Windy Pass,” is apt. Soon we are sipping mugs of hot coffee and dipping spoons into bowls of oatmeal sprinkled with nuts and raisins. We are old friends and happy campers.

A typical day goes like this: For a while, Pablo will practice classical guitar while I tune up my chromatic thumb piano. Then we will dutifully head over to the sunny beach with the swimming hole next door. We will bring camp chairs, towels, a camp stove (to make a fresh pot of coffee later in the day), and a bag of biscotti, special treats crafted at the legendary Wild Flour Bakery. They are like the elven Lembas bread in Lord of the Rings: They seem to last forever and provide spiritual if not actual physical nourishment.

The rest of the day will be spent alternating between sunning ourselves on the beach, playing spontaneous kalimba and guitar duets in the shade, gazing at the “Tree of Life” (a vibrant tree that grows by the river and brims over with life force), napping, snacking, and doing yoga on the sand. Rinse and repeat. It is a good way to spend one’s time. All too soon, the sun will set over the top of the canyon, and we will head back to our campsite to make a fire and dinner. More jamming around the fire ensues before we head to bed.

Over the 15 years we have been visiting the area, there have been many day hikes. There are miles and miles of beautiful river and beaches to explore, not to mention mountain trails. Just upriver are multicolored fudge-cake layers of rock that hug the riverbank, and mysterious “moon-rocks,” sculpted over time by cascading waters, which create miniature pools that feed into a series of waterfalls—a natural fairyland.

 

 

Occasionally, we run into wildlife. One hot afternoon, while exploring, we came across a hidden pond in the woods, its surface covered with green algae and lily pads. Right in the middle of the water was a black bear, peacefully soaking, his head and shoulders exposed and eyes closed. We left quietly so as not to disturb his meditations.

Over the years, we came to think of the Yolla Bolly as our backyard and playground. Of course we were aware that it is, after all, wilderness. But we had grown to know it so well, we became inured to its very real dangers. Rattlesnakes are commonly found all over the area, and one has to be especially careful when climbing the rocks that a handhold isn’t a resting place for a sleeping viper. And then, one could conceivably fall and break a leg—it would be tough to get out of there. It is never a good idea to become complacent in such a place.

Just one year prior to the events laid out here, I was reminded that one must remain alert. I was driving behind Pablo on that 25-mile stretch of bad road and was almost to the campsite when, for some reason, I decided I simply had to check the title of a track off of Foxtail Brigade’s Bread and the Bait album. I steered towards the hill side of the road as I looked down to the display on my stereo. All of a sudden the car jolted and I heard a loud crash as the front of the vehicle dropped several feet and the car came to an abrupt halt. The road had quickly narrowed, and I had driven directly into a deep ditch. The car was stuck and had sustained serious damage; it wasn’t going to come out without assistance.

Eventually Pablo got the idea something was amiss and returned. We had to drive all the way out that night and camp in a public campground just across from the park entrance. The Coleman stove wasn’t working, so we ate a cold dinner. Then, in the middle of the night the campground sprinklers turned on, waking us and soaking us to the bone. We laughed at the absurdity of it of all. Suddenly, we were in a Chevy Chase movie.

The following morning I discovered AAA had a new policy: Their tow trucks would now only go 100 feet off the paved road. In desperation, I called unaffiliated towing companies in the area and received quotes of $1,500-$2,000 to retrieve my battered vehicle. Disheartened, we headed over to the ranger station in Covelo, where a tough Native American park ranger got on the phone with the local AAA boys and gave them a piece of her mind. Next thing I knew two cowboys showed up with a tow truck, leaving us in a cloud of dust. By the time we returned to my car, they had already pulled it out of the ditch.

All of which is to say, the Bolly is not your average backyard.

 

 

Two summers ago we were down in the Bolly doing our usual thing, when we decided to take an adventurous hike to Wright’s Valley, some 6 miles away. A fleet of fluffy white cumulus clouds was quickly moving east across an indigo sky as we made our way upriver. The weather changes quickly in the Bolly, but it was completely still down by the water. After making a right turn at a nearby fork, wading through neck-high waters, Pablo decided to take a short cut up the side of the canyon to a trail that ran parallel to the river. It was a steep climb, but there were plenty of trees and boulders to hang onto. Once we got to the top of the ridge, we began hiking high above the river.

There had been extensive wildfires through the region a few years back, barring us from entry to the Bolly for a couple summers until the area recovered. Trails in the Bolly are sketchy at best, and signage is rare. The fires had obliterated the few remaining signs, and the undergrowth that had grown back had totally obscured the trails; we were basically bushwhacking. Most of the trees were dead and blackened; it was a bleak and unwelcoming landscape. As the afternoon wore on, I began to feel fatigued. I was trying to avoid two scarred branches when I slipped and stumbled, finding myself awkwardly pinned between them. I barely avoided being impaled by a sharp branch. My leg, however, had fared less well: I had sustained long lacerations along my left thigh and calf. I rinsed the dirt off my wounds with drinking water, and we trudged on.

Soon it became apparent we weren’t going to make it down to the valley, now plainly visible in the distance. The cool beaches and idyllic swimming holes Pablo had been waxing rhapsodic about would have to wait for another day. It was getting late, and we still had a long trek back. Due to the ongoing drought, the springs we encountered were muddy and clogged our already failing water filter. It was hot, and we had used most of our drinking water. Now there would be no more until we got back down to the river.

We were faced with the choice to either backtrack via a long trail down to the river—a route that led away from our site—and then river-walk home, or try to find the same shortcut we had used on the way up. We chose the latter. Pablo, who had uncharacteristically swallowed a small cannabis brownie that morning (an activity usually reserved for our more stationary river/jam afternoons), seemed a bit confused as to its precise location.

 

 

We walked over to the side of the canyon to get our bearings. Directly below us stretched a nearly featureless wash, a 200-foot wide, steep, sandy ravine dotted with clumps of low-lying scrub. For no apparent reason, a strange sense of misgiving came over me. Before sitting on the edge of the ravine, I said out loud, mostly to myself, “Well, if I’m going to die out here, at least I’ll get in a good piss first.” After relieving myself, I shambled back to the edge of the wash where Pablo was sitting. Together we surveyed the desolate landscape below. Devoid of trees, the steep ravine underscored the depth of the canyon. The river looked very far away.

While sitting on the edge of the ravine, still engaged in a heated discussion as to the whereabouts of the shortcut, without warning, the parched ground beneath me literally cracked and gave way; a low branch I had been holding onto for support snapped, and I was sliding down the ravine on my butt, still holding onto the broken branch. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to feel fear or think. The only thought going through my head was “tree.” Because the wash turned out not to be entirely featureless after all: For the first time, I registered a young pine tree, no more than 2 1/2 feet in diameter and about 100 feet below me. And I was heading directly for it. It was almost as if the tree had been standing sentry all these years, patiently waiting to receive me. I was picking up speed rapidly by the time I hit the tree trunk dead on, feet first. I watched as stones, sand, and debris I had dislodged continued their descent down the ravine, smashing against the rocks below.

I surveyed my surroundings, looking down first at what would’ve awaited me had the tree not broken my fall. About halfway down lay rows of large, toothy rocks; they would’ve nicely tenderized me as I accelerated toward the tangle of sharp branches and boulders strewn about at the river’s edge. To my left was a long stretch of unbroken slippery sand that ran for at least 150 feet. No escape that way. To the right, nothing but more sand and a small, scrawny baby pine tree about 8 feet away. Beyond the sapling lay a spiky, dead fir tree facing down the mountain some 15 odd feet further away from it. I was safe for the moment, but what to do? I couldn’t stand up in the sand; it was so fine it would immediately uproot me and send me down the ravine.

 

 

Pablo was above me, frantically running back and forth, trying to figure out a passage down. After a while he disappeared. It was quiet. All I heard was the high wind and the faint sound of the water below. A kite flew overhead, his white belly exposed, calling out just once before swooping down to the river to hunt. I pulled out my water bottle and took a long drink. I was already very dehydrated. I ate the other half of the apple I had left in my daypack; I had brought no other food. The sun was still hot, and I felt my legs baking. I dug in my backpack and applied sunscreen to my arms and legs as I waited. If I was going to fall to my death, at least I wasn’t going to have a sunburn.

Suddenly, Pablo appeared, scrambling down the fallen tree. We chided ourselves for not bringing a rope with us—what little rope we had was back at camp. He suggested a jump. “I don’t want to die out here, man,” I said. As far as I was concerned, it seemed the most prudent thing to do was to stay put. “I could head back to camp, get both ropes, tie them together and pull you out,” Pablo offered. I declined, partially because by the time he got back, we would’ve lost the light. I also knew Pablo’s knot-tying lore left something to be desired. The only other option would involve Pablo heading back to our campsite, hiking all the way back up to the car, and driving out. He would have to camp out somewhere overnight, and head over to the Ranger Station in Covelo the next morning with the intent to bring a ranger in to help pull me out. For a moment, I had a vision of the tough bespectacled Native American ranger, who had helped us with the tow truck coming to my rescue in her crisp unwrinkled uniform, throwing down a rope from the top of the trail, and single handedly pulling me out, all the while chastising me in her no nonsense voice for being stupid enough to get myself into this predicament in the first place.

But that plan would require me staying put on that tree overnight and at least throughout most of the next day. It got down to the low 40s at night and I had no jacket, just the short-sleeved shirt and shorts I was wearing. And what if I fell asleep? I could easily wake up hurtling down the ravine.

It was getting late and a decision was finally made: Pablo would go back to the campsite and grab the rope. He would hopefully return in time to pull me out before dark, that is, if he could find me. Just as he disappeared from sight, a part of me screamed, “I want this to be over now!” I looked to my right and once again noticed the small, spindly pine tree: It was only about 3 feet high and no more than 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Could it hold me? Without thinking, I jumped to it and just barely grabbed it. I pulled myself up, and tenuously straddling the scrawny sapling, shouted, “Pablo, I jumped to the little tree!” Footsteps, scrambling, and then Pablo reappeared on the downed tree. “Alright,” he said breathlessly. “ Now we are going to get you out of here.”

I had jumped—I had committed. There was no way I could hang on to this tiny tree overnight. After taking stock of the situation, Pablo pointed to a small, damp patch in the sand, about halfway to the downed tree. He suggested I jump to it and push off from it to the fallen tree. It was quite a leap and I wasn’t sure I’d make it. But I knew I couldn’t stay where I was.

After some 10 minutes of terror-induced paralysis, I summoned enough courage to make the jump. I pushed off with my left foot from my perch on the small tree and hit the damp spot dead on, pushing off of it with my stronger right leg. I fell short of the dead tree and began to slip downhill. Pablo had climbed to the edge of a branch of the fallen fir tree and was leaning all the way out with his arm outstretched. I reached out and felt the firm grasp of his extended hand. His grip seemed to say, “No way am I going to let you go.” He pulled me to safety.

Hand over hand, we climbed up the dead tree. But there was no safe passage to the top – how Pablo had gotten to the downed fir tree still remains a mystery to me. (I do know he injured himself in the process and limped for several months after the ordeal.) We were going to have to hike horizontally across the ravine until a way up revealed itself. We crawled on our bellies along a sandy stretch, holding onto low-lying scrub. At the end of the line of brush, Pablo tried to stand—instantly, his feet went out from under him. He would’ve plummeted down the ravine had he not grasped onto a nearby bush, which barely held as he repositioned himself on the slippery ground. He stood up once again, this time jumping from one small rock to another, successfully clearing the sandy strip. I followed his footsteps to safety. We found ourselves in a field of flat slate rocks and began to slowly climb up to the trail. At the very top, the hill became nearly vertical. Pablo grabbed onto the black, flat rocks embedded in the hillside and pulled himself up to the trail. I followed suit. “Climb like a monkey. Use all your limbs,” Pablo said encouragingly. Just then, one of the rocks I was using as a handhold came out of the hillside – I was falling backwards. I dropped the rock just as Pablo reached out his hand to grab mine and pulled me up to the trail. We were finally safe.

We walked in silence towards the trail down to the river, away from camp: There would be no more attempts to find the shortcut today.

After entering a wooded area, we came to a small forest clearing. Late afternoon sunlight dappled the trees and the verdant forest floor. The middle of the clearing was covered in long, deep-green grasses, and we heard the sound of running water. We had found a spring! Pablo pulled out the pump and managed to get it working. As we sat and drank the cool water in the peaceful glade, a thought came to me. “Pablo, what if I’m in a ‘he’s already dead’ movie, you know, like in The Sixth Sense or Jacob’s Ladder, and this is just my weird dream as I leave my body?” “Then, why am I here?” Pablo shot back. A few moments went by in silence. “Do you think I would’ve lived had I missed the tree?” I asked. “You might’ve lived, but if you had, you probably would’ve wished you hadn’t,” he responded tersely.

 

 

The walk back was difficult in the failing light. We must’ve walked right past the bottom of the ravine above which I had been marooned only a couple hours before. So intent upon getting back to camp, neither of us thought to stop to get a view of it.

By the time we returned to our campsite, it was already dark. We were famished and ate an early dinner. As we played music around the campfire, I felt grateful and happy to be there, instead of on the side of a cold, lonely mountain. A few minutes later, the sky opened up, and we were caught in a torrential downpour. Laughing, we scurried to our tents, hastily put up our rain flies, and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep and lay there for a long time, listening to the rain. Every once in a while a large rock would dislodge itself from the canyon wall and come tumbling down, crashing into the river. My thoughts kept returning to the moment the ground went out from under me; this time in my mind’s eye I missed the tree, and watched helplessly as I tumbled all the way down to the boulders and scattered broken limbs below. I relived the incident several times before drifting off to sleep.

When I came out of the Bolly a couple days later, I was a changed man. I felt a renewed joie de vivre that had been missing from my life for a long time. I felt more willing to take risks and be more courageous and open to life. I made sweeping resolutions: I would start afresh with projects I had put on the back burner for years. I would write more music and finish my next album, write more stories, love my family more deeply and be a better partner, a better friend.

I tried to hold on to this renewed resolve, and for a little while I was truly happy just to be alive. But not long after, the vivid memory of the event began to fade, and I gradually returned to my habitual neutral state. I went back to my old ways of procrastination and self-doubt; the vague sense of dissatisfaction that had haunted me most of my adult life returned.

So If I didn’t stay a changed man, what real impact, if any, did the experience have on me? When I was stranded on the tree, it was like getting a whiff of cosmic smelling salts. There’s nothing like the threat of losing everything—and having your best friend save your life—to wake one up to the importance of love, connection, and community.

At my best moments, I let that knowledge inform my interactions with my partner, family, and friends, and when I remember, even the girl at the checkout counter. I may have lost the depth of the experience, but not the message.

Mundane life has a way of reasserting itself. This is what it’s like to be human. Yet “between the forceps and the stone,” the way we spend that short span is entirely up to us. The rest is grace.

 

Note: the mp3 is of the first time we attempted to record one of our free „river jams“ in my studio. We had just returned from one of our trips, and Pablo had just gotten his new custom guitar. There are now dozens of such recordings, vastly improved in both quality of performance and recording techniques, but despite its rough edges, this one perhaps best captures the spirit of what we actually do by the river, albeit played on much nicer instruments. For this recording, I’m playing an Array Mbira, a 4 octave, 128 note chromatic instrument built by Patrick Hadley and designed and tuned by Bill Wesley. For more information, please visit www.arraymbira.com

Pablo’s classical guitar was built by Richard Prenkert, Sebastopol CA.

 

2018 26 Jan

In memory of Mark E. Smith

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Hello Michael.

I hope 2018 has started well for you. It’s a while since we emailed, but I was moved by hearing of the death of Mark E. Smith to share my experience of seeing The Fall.

Just two gigs by The Fall in my concert-going history. The first (1982) at Hammersmith Palais, co-headlining with The Birthday Party, attended with my then girlfriend Theresa: the second (1998) at The Purple Turtle in Reading, attended after separating from my then wife Sally.

There were probably a thousand people at the plastic palm tree-lined Palais, but just thirty at the sweaty and dirty bar in Reading. In both gigs, a suited Mark E. Smith slurred and ranted his scorching yet funny invective, his wired band members looking scared and exhausted. I left both with my ears ringing and thoughts jangling, certain I could never see and hear anything better. I had been thinking it was time to see him again, but have now missed that chance.

My day? Attending a meeting on junior doctor suicide in London, then travelling to Bristol to give a talk on anxiety. Whilst walking from the Hammersmith and City line exit to the mainline station at Paddington, I was surprised to see exactly the same battered portakabin still standing, where I had worked in the St Mary’s Hospital Drug Dependency Unit over thirty years ago. All around its temporary structure, new shiny buildings have appeared – but it will probably outlast them all.

As John Peel observed about Mark E. Smith and The Fall – Always different, always the same.

best wishes – David

 

2018 26 Jan

la piscine

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Es fasziniert mich, wenn durch Musik ein Raumgefühl entsteht, das Gefühl für einen Raum im weiteren Sinn, einer Landschaft oder auch für eine Szenerie mit unerwarteten Wirkungen (Lügen?), ein magischer Ort. Ein Schwimmbad an einem Sommertag, Kinder toben herum. Disconnected? In la piscine, track no. 8 aus dem Album mit dem wundervollen Titel m.=addiction, wird den Geräuschen, die auch von einem Schulhof stammen könnten, die ruhige melancholische Melodie eines Saxophons oder einer Klarinette entgegengesetzt, und am offenen Fenster sitzt jemand am Klavier und streut beiläufig ab und an einen Ton bei. The e-song, outside? Sprechen, als spräche ich nur vor mich hin (sonne free).

 

2018 26 Jan

„Ein Kunde“

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„Es gibt Momente in meinem Leben, wo ich keine Ablenkung aushalten kann; kein TV, kein Buch, keine Freunde, keinen Alkohol und sonstige Drogen – und keine Musik! Ich will mit mir allein sein. Naja, um ganz ehrlich zu sein: Es gibt genau zwei Dinge, die ich in solchen Momenten doch aushalten kann: Van Morrison oder Terry Callier’s Time Peace. Time Peace ist schön, melancholisch, soulig, funkig, friedlich, versöhnend und seit 2 Jahren meine Lieblings-CD überhaupt. Beinahe schon ein guter Freund.“

(7. Oktober 2000)

 

Als er bei Amazon Platten besprach, nannte er sich „Ein Kunde“, und doch gab es es ihn nur einmal, sein Stil war unverkennbar. Anonymität störte ihn nicht, nachts hörte er des öfteren gute Radiosendungen. Wir hoffen, es geht ihm gut. (MHQ)

 

2018 25 Jan

A Frank Nikol Classic

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2018 25 Jan

Speaking of modern day road movies …

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Es ist gar nicht lange Zeit her, da bewunderte ich zum ersten Mal in meinem Leben die Elb-Eisenbahnbrücke von Dömitz. Mit ihren 986m Länge galt sie einst als längste Eisenbahnbrücke Deutschlands. Während eines Luftangriff wurde der östliche Teil der Brücke im April 1945 zerstört, heute stehen nur noch die 16 westlichen Vorlandbrücken.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Hatte ich diese Brücke, die in die Leere führt, nicht schon einmal gesehen? Gewiss nicht, never ever. Und doch, vor ein paar Wochen kam ich während der Beschäftigung mit dem Filmemacher Wim Wenders auf die Idee, mir seinen Film Im Lauf der Zeit mal wieder anzuschauen. 1977, kurz nach Erscheinen des Films im Jahr 1976 hatte ich dieses Werk ein einziges Mal gesehen, seither nie wieder.

Wenders hatte es ein paar Jahre nach Abschluss seiner Filmhochschulzeit in München bereits zu einiger Berühmheit gebracht, immerhin, er hatte schon Die Angst des Tormanns beim ElfmeterAlice in den Städten, Falsche Bewegung und andere kürzere Filme gedreht. Übrigens, Peter Handke hatte Wenders bereits während seiner Studienzeit kennengelernt, sie sollten lebenslang beste Freunde bleiben.

Einer der ersten Filme Wenders, sein zehnminütigen Musikfilm 3 Amerikanische LP’s, stellte eine erste Zusammenarbeit dar (diesen Film hätte ich so gerne einmal gesehen, leider ist es mir bislang nicht gelungen, diesen Streifen zu finden).
 
 
 

 
 
 
Das Drehbuch zu Im Lauf der Zeit hätte von Handke stammen können, geschrieben hat es allerdings Wenders selbst. Es passiert wenig in diesem 168minütigen Schwarzweißfilm und doch erzählt der Film so viel. Einer der beiden Hauptfiguren im Film ist quasi ein Jukebox-Man für Filmprojektoren. In einem alten MAN-Umzugs-LKW fährt er entlang der ehemaligen Deutsch-Deutschen-Grenze und steuert die im Niedergang begriffenen Lichtspieltheater dieser Gegend an, um dort die Filmvorführgeräte zu reparieren.

Der Mann lebt und arbeitet in seinem LKW, hat eine Jukebox dabei und vorne im Führerhaus einen tragbaren Plattenspieler, daneben einen Single-Platten-Ständer für ca 50 Singles. Während der Fahrt kann der Fahrer nebenher seine Platten in den Schlitz des Plattenspielers stecken und schon läuft die entsprechende Musik zu diesem fantastischen Roadmovie. Einmal, unser Mann hat gerade eine Nacht auf einem Parkplatz an der Elbe hinter sich, rasiert er sich und schaut nebenher auf die halbe Brücke von Dömitz (daher also kenne ich die Brücke!). Plötzlich hört man rasendes Motorengeräusch, ein VW-Käfer fährt mit Höchstge-schwindigkeit ungebremst in die Elbe. Die Fahrer kann sich und einen Koffer über das Schiebedach des Wagens retten, ehe der Wagen in den Fluten verschwindet.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Von der Geschichte des Films möchte ich jetzt nicht mehr verraten, nur noch eines: der Vater des VW-Fahrers betreibt eine kleine Druckerei. Der Film zeigt liebevoll die Maschinen aus dieser Zeit, die Setzmaschine, die Druckmaschine, die riesigen Filmprojektoren, Filmklebemaschinen, all das, was es in heutigen Filmtheatern nicht mehr gibt. Im Lauf der Zeit stammt aus einer ganz anderen Zeit und doch hat meine Generation genau die erlebt, man glaubt es kaum. Die gezeigten Lichtspielhäuser wird es schon längst nicht mehr geben, die Jukeboxen sind aus den meisten Kneipen verschwunden und auf den diversen Müllhalden gelandet, all das Vergangenheit. Kameramann Robby Müller hat diesen Film unglaublich schön gedreht, es ist ein Genuss dieses nun vierzig Jahre alte Werk anzuschauen.

Zur Musik: Die meisten Musikstücke dieses Road-Movie stammen von der Gruppe Improved Sound Limited. Dann hören wir noch Heinz Burt: „Just like Eddie“, Roger Miller mit „King of the Road“, Crispian St. Peters (ja, das ist der, der „Pied Piper“ gesungen hat) mit „So long“ und Robert Johnson mit „Love in Vain“.
 
 
 

 

2018 24 Jan

Glanzlichter und Schatten

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Nicht alles (so genau) wissen wollen
 
Im Buch Lichter des Toren – Der Idiot und seine Zeit von Botho Strauss stöbere ich oft und gerne herum. Aus dem simplen Grund, weil es dem Leser Freiraum lässt, seinen eigenen Gedanken nachzuhängen und geradezu zum Abschweifen einlädt. Genau jener Schreibstil ist das, den ich einst bei Handke oder Cioran entdeckte und schätzte, weil er zwischen Poesie und Prosa oszilliert und ins Aphoristische tendiert: weder Klartext sprechend noch affirmativ überzeugend, vielmehr tentativ ins Dickicht philosophischen Denkens führend.
 
 
Im Zweifel beheimatet bleiben
 
Sich irgendwann einmal der Gottesfrage widmen, wenn die Zeit dereinst dafür gekommen sein wird. Schwebend dann (in der Art, wie es M neulich trefflich andeutete) und immer freiwillig, von innen, ohne Andrang. „Woran glaubst du denn?“ fragte S, Zeugin Jehovas.

„Nimm bitte die Pistole von meiner Brust!“ meinte ich scherzhaft und fügte ernsthaft hinzu: „Ich glaube an den Riss in allen Dingen.“ Es gäbe unüberbrückbare Gegensätze auf dieser Welt, erläuterte ich, und jener zwischen Christen („der alleinige Gott“) und Anhängern der Gnosis („der abwesende Gott“) sei nur einer unter vielen.
 
 
Gottlos
 
Godless ist ein Netflixserien-Western, den ich zu den besten Western aller Zeiten zähle. Nostalgische Erinnerungen wurden wach an jenes faszinierte Gebanntsein und Mitfiebern mit Lederstrumpf, Tom und Hucky oder dem Seewolf. Hier sind die Helden grossenteils Frauen, die eine Stadt am Rande des Ruins managen und standhaft den Bösewichten die Stirn zeigen, nachdem deren Männer einst bei einem Minenunglück ums Leben kamen.

Passagenweise brutal, aber auch mit Humor und Tiefgang erzählt, menschlich anrührend, spannend und mit tollen Bildern. Kurz gesagt: wiedermal ein Sehnsuchtsstoff. Kleine Kostprobe gefällig? „So eine hübsche Lehrerin habe ich noch nie getroffen. Hatten Sie schon immer den Wunsch, Kinder zu unterrichten?“ „Nein, Sir. Ich war früher eine Hure.“
 
 
Byung-Chul Han
 
Das preisgekrönte Filmporträt mit dem etwas sperrigen Titel Müdigkeitsgesellschaft – Byung Chul Han in Seoul / Berlin beeindruckt nachhaltig. Ähnlich wie das oben erwähnte Buch von Botho Strauss sind auch die Bücher Hans – wie auch dieser Film grossenteils beim kleinen, feinen Verlag Matthes & Seitz erschienen – Einladungen zum Weiter- und Selberdenken.

Es beginnt in Schwarzweiss. Das gibt dem Ganzen einen dokumentarischen, kontemplativen Charakter, wirkt als stilistisches Mittel der Abgrenzung und zeitlichen Unterscheidung. Ein Mann schlendert der Kamera entgegen, rezitiert Handke, schwärmt von Wim Wenders´ Himmel über Berlin, schlendert durch die deutsche Haupstadt, steht in Schöneberg auf seiner Lieblingsbrücke. Einst in Clausthal-Zellerfeld hatte Han zunächst Hüttenwesen studiert, als Fortsetzung eines Metallurgiestudiums in Korea.

Seine Eltern musste er mit diesem vorgetäuschten Studienwunsch belügen, sonst hätte er nicht gehen dürfen. Rückblickend befremdete ihn wohl, so der Eindruck, diese Zeit („Ich ernährte mich nur von Brot und Marmelade, anderes konnte ich nicht essen …“). Eigentlich wollte er nur eins: Philosophie studieren, was er dann auch tat in Freiburg, promovierte über Heidegger. Han liebt die deutsche Sprache und Kultur, das ist deutlich.

Es wird farbig. Einmal im Jahr, immer im Winter, reist Han nach Seoul in Südkorea. Man gewinnt interessante Einblicke in ein fremdes Land von einem, der es kennt. Einmal sagt er, auf einem jener zahlreichen Gräberhügel sitzend, er denke viel über den Tod nach, habe in seiner Jugend sehr viel damit zu tun gehabt.

Träfe ich diesen Wanderer unterwegs (vieles erinnert an den Taoismus), fragte ich auch nach seinem wundersamen Studium der Katholischen Theologie. Doch vieles darf im Dunkeln bleiben, denn wir brauchen ja Geheimnisse wie auch die Schattenbereiche des Nichtwissens.

Ein wesentliches Credo des koreanischen Philosophen selbst ist ja: zu transparent sei alles in der digitalen neuen Welt. Ebenfalls nimmt er den Neoliberalismus aufs Korn. Die Bilder in der U-Bahn in Seoul schockieren: die durchweg übermüdeten Menschen schauen permanent auf ihr Smartphone. Han ist beunruhigt, weil niemand mehr den anderen anschaut: als seien die Gesichter selbst verschwunden. Viele dort begehen Suizid. Er nennt seine Heimat eine „Müdigkeitsgesellschaft im Endstadium“.
 
 
Georg Baselitz
 
Ein Filmporträt des bedeutenden deutschen Malers zeigt, wie sehr seine Kunst mit seinem Charakter (widerborstig, willensstark, sensibel) und seiner Herkunft („DDR“) verwoben ist. Insofern einmal mehr ein Beispiel für den Tatbestand, das durch das Aufzeigen biografischer Lebenshintergründe eines Künstlers oder Autoren sich dessen Werk oft neu öffnet.

Ich sah den Film nach längerer Zeit zum zweiten Mal und jede Sekunde hat sich gelohnt. Unglaublich, wie fleißig solche Menschen sind (im Studium nannten wir sie „Malschweine“). Momentan gibt es, anlässlich zu seinem achzigsten Geburtstag wohl, eine Ausstellung, auf der auch gezeigt wird, wie er ältere, bekannte Motive grafisch äusserst reizvoll remixt.


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