Madeleines

Sometimes I try (and inevitably fail) to gain some kind of perspective on my own life through the medium of writing this blog. What transpires as a result of it (meeting Mademoiselle MG, an invitation to the SF Symphony Gala, angry phone calls from my mother, nasty emails from performers, etc.), what I really want it to be, etc., are things which interest me. Last night I came across a blog called Echovar which made me realize this one still has quite a way to go before it's truly what I want it to be. "Echovar is Cliff Gerrish’s blog on the Internet, economies, language, philosophy and the arts" and it's Gerrish's ability to traverse these topics with such fluid ease that I admire. I also like the clean look of the blog, so much so that I'm thinking of moving this one to WordPress. On the other hand, the chief editor of the very cool and diverse Spinning Patters, whom I didn't know I was speaking with at the Paulina Rubio show, had some very kind words to say about the A Beast in a Jungle the way it is now, which I truly appreciated.

There is a certain schizophrenic quality to this blog, not by design, but due to my own personal tastes and peccadilloes. Yeah, I like Paulina, Nelly Furtado and Latin Pop almost as much as I like Wagner and Beethoven, and part of the intent of this blog is to explicate how these aren't incompatible appreciations. It's all entertainment, art, a visceral response to the work of another human being- whatever you want to call it or how you label it is beside the point. Art doesn't exist in neat silos. We choose to place art into silos so we can better understand it or more easily make it part of our identity by associating ourselves with certain genres or representations- in doing so the art's identity or reputation is meant to reflect favorably upon our own. I reject this idea, though I understand it.

My teenage years were spent in the San Fernando Valley of the 1970's. The movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, though based on a Pacific Palisades school, is an accurate representation of how and where I grew up. The influence of this area, at that time, has reverberated throughout American culture more than I can possibly explain, but if you were there and lived it then you know what I mean.

I vividly remember the first time I danced to Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" and what a liberating experience it was to feel that immesne Giorgio Moroder beat pulsating  through my body and hear Donna's orgasmic sighs as I danced with a girl named Veronica at the Teen Center on Victory Blvd.  The mantra at the time was "disco sucks," but how could that be true when nothing sounded so sublime and nothing sounded better than the Trammp's "Disco Inferno" pumping through my friend Stan's Chevy Nova's AM radio at full gloriously distorted blast- except perhaps for the sound of Ozzy's hacking cough and Tony Iommi's monster riffs that lead off Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," played at maximim volume as you took a huge hit from the bong at a party with your friends?

Many years later, when Veronica showed up at an amateur stripping contest in North Hollywood, where I was the emcee/dj, she asked me to play a certain Patti Smith song ("Because the Night") that was popular during the summer we spent together as she performed her routine. It was a Proustian moment unlike any other I've ever had. Fifteen years after that summer, I was reliving it all over again.
 
Why am I going on about this? Well, because I know there are few blogs where you'll find "Proustian" and "amateur stripping contest" in the same sentence. And that's pretty much the purpose behind the Beast.

In the next few weeks readers may see a lot of posts about KISS on this blog. The first concert I ever attended was in early 1976 and it was the first KISS Alive tour. Now the band is doing a 35 year anniversary tour and yeah, I'm going to go see it in November. Between now and then, I'll see a number of operas, performances by the San Francisco Symphony and a few concerts by bands or performers who sing in Spanish that many of you may have never heard of before. And yet it all strikes a chord, a chord that resonates like "Smoke on the Water" the first time you heard it on a radio, or the piano's entrance in Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto, or experiencing the communal release when Enanitos Verdes launches into "Lamento Boliviano" during one of their concerts and the audience is singing along louder than the band is playing it. The essential, unique feeling that music alone can convey to make one feel alive is present in all those moments and those moments feel the same no matter what the genre of music is, whether the notes comes from a Gibson Birdland or a Strad. This much I know is true- and it started with that KISS concert way back in the day. It's my own rock and roll madeleine.

Earlier I posted a notice about a local Enanitos Verdes concert this Friday night that also mentioned a concert they are performing tonight in Salt Lake City. Oddly enough, I've received a tremendous amount of blog hits today via search engines regarding the Salt Lake concert coming from many parts of the country (and Mexico). Mademoiselle MG is at that show right now and she told me there are about a thousand people there having a great time as I write this post. I suspect there are many people experiencing the sensory equivalent of dipping a madeleine into a cup of  tea tonight, all over the world, in various venues, who've never heard of Proust (or Enanitos Verdes for that matter)- and yet though he may have best transcribed the experience into words, it doesn't really matter- people every where still feel it- and I think that is what really matters.

Does that interest you? I'm not sure I can articulate why, but it interests me immensely. And there we are.