Jazz has been one of the great loves of my life. I know, I get it. Jazz is not popular music. Jazz appeals to musicians and people with unusual tastes. It can’t be forced on anyone. It’s pointless (as I learned painfully) to throw it into the mix at a party. It’s a good way to get thrown out of a party.
It’s possible that you know nothing about Jazz. You might have seen films like “Bird” or “Round Midnight”. In spite of its relative obscurity, Jazz has nonetheless crept into our Pop Culture like the ink from a cephalopod. That is…an octopus or a squid.
Jazz has been for me a lifelong experience. I first heard Louis Armstrong when I was twelve. I was in the sixth grade! I had joined the Capitol Records Club, and ticked Jazz as my favorite category. I don’t know why. I had been listening to classical music, especially that of Richard Wagner, and I was getting a bit bored. Thank you, Capitol Records Club, for sending me this LP in the mail. I eagerly withdrew the vinyl record from its sleeve and put it on my blue and white Zenith Portable Stereo Record Player. This rig was built like a suitcase. There were snap-locks on each side and those opened up to become speakers that deployed to the left and the right. For a kid in the early sixties it wasn’t a bad place to start with regard to sound systems. The MacIntosh and Dynaco amps and pre-amps were cool as hell, but I could wait. In a couple of years I would be all over amps and pre-amps until my basement began to look like a used electronics warehouse.
I put on the Louis Armstrong record and held my breath. The music began with a blare of brass. At first it sounded like some kind of Asiatic music, it was alien and incomprehensible. I heard charging rhythm and thickets of notes. My confusion lasted about half a minute. Then, as if someone had rotated my brain, I started to hear that shining trumpet of Satchmo and it started making sense. I’d been playing trumpet in the school band since I was in the fifth grade. Okay, that’s only a year. I hated practicing and did as little work as possible. I was a Natural and I could coast on my good ear. I could play a little bit.
The next album I acquired was recorded by Count Basie And His Orchestra. The album cover was a photo of a mushroom cloud, all scarlet shades and orange flame. It was called, of course, Count Basie Explodes! I put that on the record player. I oh so carefully lowered the tone arm with its precious cartridge transducer until the needle hit and the speakers went “hissssssss” for a second or two before the wildest most confusing outburst of twenty two instruments raged forth and I thought, “Aww shit. Asiatic music only bigger.” Again, it took a little while for the music to come around and reach my precocious ears.
The mail man drives down the street in his little cart. He’s bringing another record from Capitol Records Club. Miles Davis’ “Birth Of The Cool”. This is one of the most important jazz records ever recorded. Miles had organized a curious group, an eight piece band otherwise known as an octet.
I didn’t have many friends in the fifth and sixth grades. I had Jay, who was a fellow musician and jazz fan. His mother was a jazz fan. This was in suburban St. Louis in 1962. It was rare but it happened.
My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t gonna support this shit at all! If I had to play the goddam trumpet, she often screamed; at least I would play respectable music like Mantovani or Andy Williams.
No mom. No. Not happening. I’m going my merry way and you can screw yourself.
My bedroom was at the far end of the house. I had some distance. Some. I could play what I wanted while my mom popped Seconal and slept away her life.
By this time I’m fourteen and I’ve moved into Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly and…ultimately…John Coltrane. If there is a magnificent Ganesh-Guru Hindu Monster Elephant Deity of Jazz Music it is John Coltrane. He was doing the impossible. His ideas were so deep and complex that they became equal to the founding of a neo-Buddhist philosophy. A School. A dynastic lineage of Consciousness.
Coltrane became my teacher. He became thousands of musicians’ teacher and remains so to this day. Get on Youtube and join the session. It’s alive and well. The young musicians, the ones who are serious, want to study and learn. And music’s everywhere. It’s in the air. Then it’s gone. That’s what Eric Dolphy, one of the unsung monsters of Jazz, said at the end of one of his precious recordings. Both Trane and Dolphy passed in the sixties. They were young. We don’t really know what happened. How did these magnificent musicians leave the scene so suddenly? It was shocking and it knocked me off my feet. I had yet to understand how dangerous was the jazz life, how stressful it was to make a living play Jazz.
Fortunately, we were left with other dynamic musicians. We had Charles Mingus and his epochal release of the album “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady.” This is some of the most sensual music ever recorded. It outrages church goers, it shocks listeners who aren’t prepared for music so graphic as to be well….erotic.
I developed new Jazz heroes. Ornette Coleman was sawing his way through musical tradition and his ideas caused fights on the Lower East Side. Imagine that: ideological fistfights over varying philosophies of Jazz. Strange but true. Jackie McLean kept the tonal orthodoxy but added intensity and adventure. I was pushing sixteen at this time and my world was filled with all this musical color, all these vibrant creative characters who courted addiction and death to get through the pressures of the jazz life.
By the age of sixteen I had acquired a set of drums and my instrumental voyages took on the nature of a student: a dedicated student of a peculiar art form. That was my jazz. That was my passion and I was about to leave home in the summer of ’65. I was determined to meet the by-now world famous Ornette Coleman. And so I did…but that’s another story. It’s in another book.
You can find a fictionalized story which mirrors many of Art’s young life in Confessions of an Honest Man: https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Honest-Man-Arthur-Rosch-ebook/dp/B01C3J0NK2/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Confessions+of+an+Honest+Man&qid=1601086887&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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Party On, Dudes
by Jeff Bowles
Nostalgia is a fickle thing. Sometimes it can make new spins on old content sparkle. Then again, it can also blind us to bad movies, books, TV shows, really anything marketable to our hungry and impatient inner kids. Nostalgia is often manipulated by the entertainment powers that be. Apart from sex and death, it’s Hollywood’s number one favorite tool. So how did this happen? How did we come to see the release of a new Bill & Ted movie in the year 2020, almost three decades after the last entry in the series, the aptly titled Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? In that movie, the hapless, witless duo from San Dimas, California went to Hell and back. Literally. Gosh, where else can we take them? More importantly, should we even bother? Especially since stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter aren’t exactly high school students anymore?
The answer is that while Bill & Ted Face the Music occasionally misses the mark, it never leaves us feeling empty or bored, especially if that nostalgia factor is in play. I first saw the original when I was a kid. I’m a product of the 80s and 90s, so you can bet this movie was more entertaining for me than it would be for audiences either much older or much younger than I. But if you’re in the mood for a fun, funny, ridiculous time travel movie that’s no more or less useless or necessary than the first entries in this series, look no further. Bill & Ted Face the Music is a great excuse to stay home and stream, avoid the movie theaters, avoid that pesky virus. Heck, I’m not even sure Face the Music would’ve survived in the normal corporate theater chain climate. It’s kind of a specialty product, one nobody was looking or even asking for.
Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan have had a hard few decades since they braved the time-ways and journeyed through Hell and Heaven. Their band, Wild Stallions, has failed to ignite the period of world peace and excellence guaranteed by their old mentor, Rufus, and though they actually can play their instruments now, nobody cares about their music, which must be a shock for supposed rock and role messiahs. And on top of everything else, their marriages to the royal princesses (remember them?) are falling apart. It is a most heinous and non-excellent time, dudes.
The rest of the plot is a hodgepodge of different ideas that reflect places and faces we’ve seen before. Bill and Ted must write that one amazing song they’ve been trying to write since they were young, and screw the basic scientific efficacy of the concept of time travel, they’ve only got a few hours to write it. So what do they do? Cheat and try to steal it from their future selves, of course. Meanwhile, their teenage daughters—also cheerfully known as Bill and Ted—go on a quest of their own to recruit for Wild Stallions the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Mozart. You see, the girls still believe in their dads, perhaps blindly so. After all, we’ve been promised Bill and Ted would save the world twice before. What makes anyone think they’re likely to do it now?
As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. And it’s only an hour-and-a-half long. More jokes land than miss, and there’s a larger supporting cast that’s hilarious to watch, including a robot assassin that feels terrible, just terrible for killing the wrong targets and the return of fan favorite the Grim Reaper, the ultimate rock bass player, Death himself.
Ultimately, the ride proves worthwhile, especially since Reeves and Winter give it their all. Neither seems terribly put out they’re having to reprise roles they haven’t played since the first Bush administration. They still hit their “dudes” and “whoas” with perfect timing, and it’s genuinely nice to see them again. I’m sure these guys never thought they’d star in another Bill & Ted, and to listen to them chat about it in interviews, they couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time making it if they’d tried.
Some lingering frustrations may ensue if you’ve allowed your brain to clock in at any moment during the running length. Also know this: the special effects were finished during the initial stages of the COVID outbreak, so some of them don’t look as bodacious as they otherwise might.
But so what? Bill & Ted Face the Music has a mind to rock you, entertain and overwhelm you with its nostalgic charm, and just like the original, you might actually learn something about yourself and the world. Like the fact that the great Satchmo was one of Jimi Hendrix’s key influences. Or that you’ve got more of that old goofy teenager lurking in your heart than you thought.
Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Bill & Ted Face the Music a 7 out of 10.
Now do me a favor and be excellent to each other out there. After all, any one of us can change the world. We just need to sing the right song. Catch you later, blog-reading dudes!
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!
Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!
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When I received the Inspirational Visions Oracle Cards, created by Judy Mastrangelo, I was delighted. My previous experience with Tarot cards and the like is minimal, with an understanding of them that relates more to the archetypes found in storytelling more than anything else. However, these cards are not a deck of Tarot cards, used to tell you what your future will be, but a deck designed to reveal what you can make of your future through inspiration and interpretation.
The deck comes with a booklet which explains the meaning of each card and instructions in how to use them to guide your own destiny. Each card comes with an inspirational message attached and the use and interpretation of the cards is up to you. The intent is for each individual to find their own personal meanings in the cards.
The Inspirational Visions cards are designed to inspire creativity and encourage soul searching, with uplifting positive measages. There is no hangman lurking in the deck, no death or destuction images ushering in ill fate. Even the menacing dragon carries connotation here.
Even if you don’t believe in fortune telling, you’ll want to own a deck of these colorful and inspirational cards of your very own. I could sit for hours, just looking at the delightful illustrations on each one. I am particularly drawn to the Bunny Gardner card, which the book describes in part as, “Tending your beautiful flower beds is so healing, as you contact Mother Earth.” I have some gorgeous flower beds this summer, as I planted sixty-five gladiola bulbs in the spring, and my garden is bursting with color, and it is healing to go out and work amoung them. Perhaps this card represents a validation for who I am?
These lovely oracle cards are wonderful for personal enjoyment, spiritual enhancement, creative inspiration, or as a gift for someone special who is dear to your heart, the bright, colorful illustations and inspirational messages are sure to delight. I give the Inspirational Visions Oracle Cards five quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.