April 2019– “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” ―
– For the terrible now Po of the Month features work from a couple of visiting Poets Anthony Murphy and Phillip (Ancient Mariner) Giambri. Speaking of which in Cold Millers some info about Bernard & Diane Block performing up here in WNY towards the end of the month.
What are We Watching?
The French Connection is a 1971 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin. The screenplay, written by Ernest Tidyman, is based on Robin Moore‘s 1969 non-fiction book The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy. It tells the story of New York Police Department detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, whose real-life counterparts were Narcotics Detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, in pursuit of wealthy French heroin smuggler Alain Charnier. The film stars Gene Hackman as Popeye, Roy Scheider as Cloudy, and Fernando Rey as Charnier. Tony Lo Bianco and Marcel Bozzuffi also star. The Three Degrees feature in a nightclub scene.
It was the first R-rated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since the introduction of the MPAA film rating system in 1968.[Note 1] It also won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Hackman), Best Director (Friedkin), Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay (Tidyman). It was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Scheider), Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing. Tidyman also received a Golden Globe Award nomination, a Writers Guild of America Award and an Edgar Award for his screenplay. A sequel, French Connection II, followed in 1975 with Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey reprising their roles.
The American Film Institute included the film in its list of the best American films in 1998 and again in 2007. In 2005 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_French_Connection_(film)
This year, as every year, there have been some big anniversary rereleases. The 1981 Ivan Passer movie Cutter’s Way has just been dusted off, Kubrick’s 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange was treated to a big retrospective showcase at Cannes this year, soon Basil Dearden’s Victim (1961) is to be revived at BFI Southbank in London as part of a Dirk Bogarde season, and Alain Resnais’s Last Year in Marienbad (1961) has resurfaced.
I staged my own “anniversary” rewatching this week of a movie I hadn’t seen in many years: the last time was on TV decades ago. It is William Friedkin’s The French Connection, now 40 years old, based on a true story, and starring Gene Hackman as detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, a driven New York cop who wears a hat that makes him look like some sort of hip jazz musician and whose intuitive street sense allows him to nose out the secret players in a colossal heroin import operation, bringing the drugs into New York from Marseille.
What an experience it is to see it again, a movie whose vivid evocation of New York bears comparison to Scorsese but which I now realise I remember chiefly from one single scene. The gangsters employ a “Chemist” – a small role comparable to the gun-dealing “Easy Andy” from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. This is a smart-mouthed, bespectacled individual whose job is to test the drugs before they buy, and is by implication paid from the wares themselves. He uses a complex chemical kit including a thermometer in which the mercury rises with the purity. (Is that kit genuine? Or did Friedkin dream it up?) “Eighty-nine percent pure junk,” the Chemist finally pronounces, “if the rest is like this, you’ll be dealing on this load for two years.”
To watch The French Connection now is to experience the shock of the old: a lost world of the city, and a lost style of film-making. For a start, there is that poster image taken from the climax of the famous subway v car chase – Doyle shoots someone in the back as the man reaches the stop of a staircase, and his grimacing victim flings his arms out at the moment of death. It is a distinctive image, but eccentric, asymmetric, and utterly anti-heroic: the hero? The guy indistinctly in the background? And he’s shooting someone in the back? Surely not! It’s the sort of image that would never get used as a film poster today. A poster for The French Connection now would have the faces of Hackman and his partner Russo (Roy Scheider) sweatily to the fore, with a gun or two, and the automobiles in the background.
In the opening reel, the movie socks us with another scene that could never happen in 2011, or not without a multitude of ironising tics to deflect its potential for offence. Popeye and Russo storm into a black bar and harangue and slap around the customers, demanding answers. And when Popeye gets back to the station house, he drops the N bomb. The modern audience nervously asks itself: where is the black police chief to balance this? The black judge? Or maybe a black cop whose tough integrity and professionalism Doyle can come, finally, apologetically, to respect? Nowhere.
In one scene, Doyle and Russo take their suspect and give him a brutal working over in one of New York’s vacant lots – a feature of the era – burnt out waste-grounds, sometimes large, that Tom Wolfe in his 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities called urban “gloamings” and which Malcolm Gladwell, in the chapter on broken-window theories in his 2000 book The Tipping Point, said were the key breeding grounds for crime.
A modern Hollywood action thriller like this would need to show redemption for Doyle. For example, the precise explanation for his nickname would be an opportunity for some gentle backstory comedy, and meet the all-important need for him to be a sympathetic character. Not in 1971. His name is Popeye. That’s it.
One of his resentful colleagues, nettled at the chief’s indulgence of Doyle, furiously remarks that these hunches of Doyle’s once got a good cop killed. Again – a modern audience, schooled in modern screenplay verities, is primed for a big revelation somewhere before the big finale. Who was this good cop? Does Doyle, for all his bluster, feel desperately guilty? Will nailing the “French Connection” bad guys make up for it and bring Doyle redemption? Er, not exactly: the final moments of The French Connection are a powerful, even magnificent repudiation of the modern piety of redemption and sympathy. It is a stunningly nihilist ending, one to set alongside Polanski’s Chinatown.
Perhaps most striking of all is the leisured, unhurried pace of The French Connection. It is fully one hour before gunshots are fired. There are many scenes in which Doyle simply cruises around New York, searching, brooding; these, to me, evoke the city as powerfully as Mean Streets or Taxi Driver. The details are lovingly recorded: sometimes it seems as if we are watching a documentary by the Maysles brothers. And the ghostly, ambient honk of car horns, sometimes fluttering a little on the soundtrack, say 1971 like nothing else.
Having said that, a lot of The French Connection feels contemporary. The long surveillance scenes, in which we watch the shadowy mobster coming in and out of his “front” operation – a low-rent diner – accompanied by Doyle’s mumbling speculative commentary, anticipates the modern world of police work, as well as Hackman’s own role in Coppola’s The Conversation. And in their rackety, prehistoric way, Doyle and Russo look like the forebears of McNulty and Bunk in The Wire. Moreover, watching The French Connection again brings home to you how much the movie influenced James Gray’s dramas The Yards (1999) and We Own the Night (2007).
This weekend, you could do a lot worse than get the DVD out and treat yourself to your own special 40-years-on rerelease of The French Connection. https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2011/jul/14/french-connection
What are We Reading ?
The Making of the Fox News White House Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?
But the photo op dramatized something else about the Administration. After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen “huddling” with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as “fake news.”
Hannity was treated in Texas like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one. The same can be said of Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch. Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of “Messengers of the Right,” a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, “It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.”
Hemmer argues that Fox—which, as the most watched cable news network, generates about $2.7 billion a year for its parent company, 21st Century Fox—acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.” For both Trump and Fox, “fear is a business strategy—it keeps people watching.” As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead. All day long, Trump retweets claims made on the network; his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has largely stopped holding press conferences, but she has made some thirty appearances on such shows as “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity.” Trump, Hemmer says, has “almost become a programmer.”
Fox’s defenders view such criticism as unfounded and politically biased. Ken LaCorte, who was in senior management at Fox News for nearly twenty years, until 2016, and recently started his own news service, told me, “The people at Fox said the same thing about the press and Obama.” Fox’s public-relations department offers numerous examples of its reporters and talk-show hosts challenging the Administration. Chris Wallace, a tough-minded and ecumenical interviewer, recently grilled Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser, on the need for a border wall, given that virtually all drugs seized at the border are discovered at checkpoints. Trump is not the first President to have a favorite media organization; James Madison and Andrew Jackson were each boosted by partisan newspapers. But many people who have watched and worked with Fox over the years, including some leading conservatives, regard Fox’s deepening Trump orthodoxy with alarm. Bill Kristol, who was a paid contributor to Fox News until 2012 and is a prominent Never Trumper, said of the network, “It’s changed a lot. Before, it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” Joe Peyronnin, a professor of journalism at N.Y.U., was an early president of Fox News, in the mid-nineties. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he says of Fox. “It’s as if the President had his own press organization. It’s not healthy.”
Read entire Article at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/11/the-making-of-the-fox-news-white-house
What were you thinking ? – Missing Thread from Singing Mr. Cedric-
April pic hit(s)
Wes Montgomery, Milt Jackson & George Shearing- Wes and Friends – Full LP
(all titles can be cut/pasted in search engines to listen to)
Jan Garbarek- Brother Wind March– Twelve Moons
Chet Baker & Paul Bley- Diane– If I should lose you
Nils Petter Molvaer- Khmer– Title Track
Fela Kuti- Shuffering and Shmiling– Extended New Year Groove Version
Joe Turner- Lipstick, Powder and Paint- Meyers Jukebox edition
Harry Connick Jr. -The Last payday- Blue Light
Pharaoh Sanders- All night Sucker punch LP– Harvest Time
Lucky Thompson– They didn’t believe me– Willow Weep for Me
Stars of Lid– Artificial Pine Arch Song– The Ballasted Orchestra
Earth Wind and Fire– September- Live old school SFX Video
Rubber Rodeo – She Had to go- Extended EP version
Hank Mobley– Another Workout- Title Track
Eric Burden and War-Spill the Wine-Jukebox 45 single
Dusty Fletcher– Open the door Richard– 1947
Wim Mertens You see– A Man with no fortune with a name to come
Jim Ed Brown –Pop a top again- Jukebox cut
The Tremeloes -Here Comes My Baby- 1967
Soul Makossa– Manu Dibango
ANNA MEREDITH – Taken
Lee Gamble– Mnestic Pressure– Title Track
The Normal– Warm leatherette–
Anna Meredith– Nautilus- Varmints
John Surman– Pattern one– Withholding Pattern
Tangerine Dream –Risky Business -Original Soundtrack
Brian Eno– No One Receiving– Before and After Science
Johnny Hartman – I just dropped by to say hello– Ballads
Ry Cooder– Bolero Sonambulo – Mambo Sinuendo
New Order– Your Silent Face– Power, Corruption & Lies
Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian– Noosphere– Not Two, Not One
Charlie Haden & Kenny Baron -Twilight Song– Night And the City
The Temptations– Ball of Confusion-Sky’s the Limit
The Cure– Just Like Heaven– Kiss me 3X
Deacon Blue– He looks like Spenser Tracy Now– Raw Town
Mathias Eick- The Door-Title Track
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet- Festive Minor -What is there to say ?
Champion Jack Dupree – Nasty Boogie– 1958
Moby- These Systems are Failing– The Void Pacific Choir
Charlie Parker- The Original Bird –( Savoy 1944-49 – Vinyl Album)
Dexter Gordon- Body & Soul– Round Midnight Soundtrack
Nils Petter Molovear -Frozen– Streamer
Leonard Cohen– Chelsea Hotel-New Skin for an Old Ceremony.
Fripp Roach Fryman– Trance spiritz –Seeker
Steely Dan– Gold Teeth- Katy Lied
Jack DeJohnette (w/ Bill Frisell) –The Elephant Sleeps– …but still remembers
Earnest Tubbs– Walking the floor over you –The Definitive Collection
The Tubes– TV is King– Remote Control
Eberhard Weber- French Diary – Endless Days
John Surman– Portrait of a Romantic- Private City
Roach Reyes Saiz- Distant look- Suspended memories/forgotten gods
Bishop- Johnson et all– One finger Snap– Walk Spirit- Talk Spirit
Anat Fort- Morning Good- A Long Story
The Fire Balls– Bottle of Wine– 45 Single
Brain McBride– Overture- For the Other Half’s
Dave Peck– Every time we say Goodbye- 3 on 1
Apex Twins– Vordhosbn – Drukqs
Frank Zappa– What’s New in Baltimore ?- Meets Mothers of Prevention
Dead Can Dance -The Carnival is Over- Into the labyrinth
New Order- Age of Consent- Power Corruption & Lies
Eric Taylor -Peppercorn Tree -Hollywood pocket knife
Bill Morrissey – 23rd Street- Something I saw or I thought I saw
Enrico Pieranunzi -Marc Johnson-Joey Baron– Ninfa Plebea- Play Morricone (live in Japan)
Spunkshine– Reflective Temperature- Distorting the Hertzian Wave
Patrick O’Hearn– Sea –Transitions
Hammock– Will you ever love yourself ?- Raising your Voice-Trying to stop an Echo
Thelonious Monk– Evidence- Live Monterrey Jazz Fest 1964
James Hunter-Walk Away-People will Talk
Gillian Welch– Title Track- The Revelator
Joey Frehrenbach– Behold –Mellowdrama
Floating Points– Sals- Shadows (ep)
Miles Davis Quintet – If I was Bell- Live at the Blackhawk SF 1961
Northcape– into Sunlight- Captured from Static
Charles Mingus– Blue Gee- The Clown
Steve Roach– The Memory- Empetus
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Sitt, Sonny Rollins –Title Track- Sonny Side Up
John Abercrombie/Ralph Towner– Over and Gone–Sargasso Sea
Jan Garbarek (et al)- Dansere -Title Track disc 3/3
The Residents– Micky Macaroni- Demons Dance Alone
Stenson, Jormin & Motian -Send in the Clowns- Goodbye
Fredric Chopin– Nocturnes (3) – For Piano OP 9 Ct. 108-110
Steve Roach – Structures from silence- Structures from Silence
Terje Rypdal– I disremember very well- Rarum- Selected Recordings Vol 7
Big Joe Turner -Jumpin at the Jubilee – Chrono 1949-1950
Pat Anvo -Spiegel for Viola & Piano –Nicola Ben-Fentasic
Peter Gabriel – On the Map- Long Walk Home
Paul Motian – Yahilah- Old/New Masters
Eno/Hyde– DBF- High Life
Eilen Jewell -No place to go- Boundary Country
Stars of Lid – Austin Mental Hospital- The Tired Sounds of…
Louie Armstrong – Muggles- IV Armstrong & Earl Hines
Charles Mingus- Memories of You (alternative take 3)-East Coasting
Sanjay Mishra- Mirror- Chateau Benares
Champion Jack Dupree- County Jail Special- Penitentiary Blues (Songs to do hard time by)
Edo Castro- Chance of Rain- Phoenix
Rodger Eno- A Paler Sky- Voices
Jan Gabarek- Molde Canticle –I took up Runes
Helen Jane Long- Echo- Porcelain
John Danley- Cemeteries – Missed Trains & Blue Skies
Jack DeJohnette -Music in the Key of Om- Golden Beams Collected
Coeur Saignant – Marsen Jules– Les Fleurs
Oliver Nelson – Cascades – Blues and Abstract Truth
Pat Metheny – Sueno Con Mexico – Cafe Del Mar Vol 3
Pastoral – Northcape – Captured from Static
Terje Rypdal – That’s more like it – Vossabrygg
Bobo Stenson Trio – La Peregrinacion- Indicum
Jimmy Forest – By the River St. Marie – Out of the Forest
Charles Mingus- Myself When I am real- Mingus plays Piano
Nels Cline Singers – Ghost of the Pinata – Instruments
Joe Turner -Lipstick, Powder & Paint – Best of
Blind – TV on the Radio– Young Liars
Eno – Lux 4- Lux
Liquid Mind- Thought Museum-Liquid Mind V Serenity
Windy & Carl -ode to a dog- Eternal Struggle
John Zorn- Zhakor- Film works XlV
Steve Tibbets – Black Mountain Side – Big Map Idea
Stars of Lid– Don’t bother their here- Refinement of the Decline
Laraaji -Space Choir- Flow goes the Universe
Patrick Geren- Cross the line-Orange Skies
Frank Zappa- Part 1- Lumpy Gravy
Robert Rich/Steve Roach- La Luna- Strata
Champion Jack Dupree- No fool/no more- Emeritus
The Residents- Beyond the Valley in Day in the life- A Side Single 1977
Thrones- Easter Woman Day Late- Dollar Short
Gli Uccelli– The Bridal- Suite for Orchestra P154
Floyd Dixon – Tired, broke & busted- Complete Aladdin Recordings
Harold Budd – 0f Ancillary Dreams – The Room
Elmore James- Strange Angel – Complete Chief Fire Sessions
Gregor Samsa– Loud & Clear – 55 12
Herbie Harper Quartet – Jive at Five- Complete Nocturne Recordings 1954
Tentenmuller– The Very Last Resort- The last Resort
Anat Fort – Lanesboro- And if
(Very soon information regarding books will be moved to the Printed Matter section)
Got Abstract ? (2014)
Well, being a poet is a funny kind of jazz. It doesn’t get you anything. It doesn’t get you any money, or not much, and it doesn’t get you any prestige, or not much. It’s just something you do.
There is a light that is unquiet in creative endeavor . In this Synesthesia there echoes a sound that expresses a very private illumination in the certain knowledge of fragile seasons as time that digs in its heels in just enough to turn its back on you and smirk. You learn that to open your mind’s door to the inlays of the stream of consciousness is a very risky and vulnerable action. Abstraction in the currency of contemporary thought revealing itself as implied associative content twisting the Schemata theory of comprehension and language acquisition into a labyrinth of confusion.
Human beings are the only mortal beings able to articulate in the most confusing of protoplasm crosswords. We offer vague inklings of intents and meanings to each other shrouded in a personal cryptic emotional system of associations. Every human has two distinct histories. One of the interior world; unseen and seldom spoken and in the exterior the other is merely observed by the world at large without either compassion or perspective.
When the artist shrugs at this and cuts loose without filters the society at large shudders and is indigent. For all the talk about honesty, very few either want to believe or recognize it. There is this primal thread that we acquire here on earth call language
These words define us. Incoherence Incarnate. Thought; spoken, written or hidden. We are practiced liars here. Cowards to our own mutual fate. In permanent denial. We will leave this place without our flesh with only the lifetime of experience and sensation we employed in the primary vehicle we drove off this planet into the gutter lacking or the stars packing. What we thought. What we did. Who we loved and what was abandoned.
This collection is a recipe book of what was remembered recently and what could not be dismissed or forgotten, half baked or burnt and perhaps made lousy leftovers or hangovers. Much like a transcript of scar tissue there is this voice perhaps that reminds…. perhaps heals all wounds but then falls short to explain or console between promise and reality a reason for any of this.
Embedded in the very title of this collection is the concept of denotation and connotation. Some will think of an advertising slogan hawking dairy products. These minds indeed get milk, but not abstract.
This most recent collection of Po, Prose & Short Stories is available to order. In Hard/Soft cover & E-Book. Orders can be placed directly from the publisher
Additional access with usual cyber book stores to follow as they make the grid. Direct availability to anybody interested can happen here in the Rubber Eden. Just use the contact feature on any page to make inquiry. Can cut you a Gridville discount (have PayPal, take cash, checks & wolf tickets)
Sometimes Grief- barks up the wrong tree (2012)
Sometimes Grief –barks up the wrong tree is Vincent Quatroche’s most recent collection of Prose and Poetry. This hybrid work of rage, reflection, resignation and gallows humor straddles the high wire between a cryptic emotional stenography and literal response to the conundrum of attempting to navigate conflict and radical change while coming to terms with significant loss in daily life. Employing the theme of the four seasons Quatroche draws and quarter’s time into a metronome of signature expressions addressing not just theoretical or even traditional challenges of dealing with some sorrow, but with a deeply personal voice asks more difficult questions. What is the accepted appropriate boundary in grappling with remorse as society defines it and the unknown private parameters of just how long, how deep, and how far the echo of grief barking up the wrong tree resounds.
Vincent Quatroche continues to write about subjects that defy the ordinary perceptions of existence, while being clearly interested in the abstract fibers that compose that very same fabric. Sometimes Grief barks up the wrong tree takes a magnifying glass or telescope to some things that are very, very close and others that are as far away as can be and still barely be perceived. But seldom are these instruments of perception aforementioned employed in the conventional manner. The present here (his Terrible Now) is being jumbled with the past which as any future knows simply and only exists in the next second or word. Immediacy collides with distance; propinquity with remoteness while his ink stream of consciousness splits the difference to the page. A lifelong career educator and irritant this is Vincent Quatroche’s 7th collection of Prose, Poetry and Short Stories.
Forward from Sometimes Grief…..
The title for this collection of prose and poetry Sometimes Grief –barks up the wrong tree came to me in the late Spring of 2011 during an ensuing period of significant change and a series of disappointing struggles with some of the more harsh realities of life. The passing of my Father on last Easter Sunday was hardly an unanticipated event. His decline was (for the most part) mercifully brief and he left the earth with loved ones present, in his own home and quite peacefully. The rituals of saying goodbye were observed with the usual decorum and to be honest? That part of dealing with the inevitable demise of life of a beloved father was actually a quiet sort of sad comfort in the memory of a good man and vibrant artist. I thought I was adjusted to that. Not so. What ensued on a personal level was a real old fashion shit storm of confusion, doubt, despondency and loss. Normal you say? To be expected? Perhaps. On the surface maybe, but such a world of chaos descended that it virtually affected every aspect of my life. And then one late Spring morning after teaching a class at a local community college a phrase resounded in my mind as clear as a bell. Sometimes grief-barks up the wrong tree. It was a revelation really. Surely not an answer to anything, merely a sort of internal realization. A recognition. I was in fact grieving, angry and ashamed that my intense personal feelings of sadness and loss were not wholly directed to my Dad being gone. No. I was furious the world with all of its confusion, contradictions and uncertainties that had encroached upon what I perceived should have the appropriate grief towards my recent loss. I felt my emotional interior had been hijacked by worldly concerns. Someone or something was diverting and demanding my attention and energy towards a dead end of self centered remorse, regret and devastation. Intellectually I accepted, (even understood) someone very close to me had left. Died. But I discovered much to my embarrassment that I was ill-equipped to deal with the more collateral damage of the “off-the-rack” influence of others in my life and while it was true I once cared deeply about them, I now had to face the unpleasant truth that the relationship with them had now gone toxic and was damaging and draining my strength to move on to the next chapter of my life. I couldn’t let it go. And the same time it was like holding on to a burning white hot ember I responded by closing that hand into a fist and holding the pain tighter. I ran wildly with it, quitting long time teaching positions that represented normalcy, purpose and economic stability. In short ? I was gutting my life. Severing every tie, except the right one. I was determined to hold on steadfast to that smoldering coal in my fist. I wondered what would come first. It would simply burn out or burn a hole through my flesh. At this point I must make this clear. There was yet a third level to the grief. I felt I was being delusional. Indulgencing in private, pointless emotional suicide. I was trying to kill my feelings while entire world out there had real problems. Serious tangible sorrows and pains that dwarfed my perceived issues and again I was ashamed at my transparent mini-drama I was perpetrating upon myself. Shutting it all down inside myself switch by switch. My mother’s situation for example certainly could be taken into account. She had lost her husband and life companion of over fifty years and now at an advanced age herself had to deal with his absence on daily basis in the family home they shared practically their entire adult lives. I’ve provided a unique perspective into her own experience in dealing with grief in the section of this collection entitled The Edna Variations. So I did the usual self medicating prescriptions that depressed individuals do. With a vengeance. Thankfully I eventually grew bored with that. So I returned to an old friend. My oldest friend. My self- expression. Creativity. I wrote. And wrote. Much of it will never be seen. I was simply taking a sort of emotional stenography. Just to see those words on page after page in the notebooks seemed to reinforce exactly what I had heard in my mind that morning. Sometime Grief barks up the wrong tree. What is included in this collection are at least some of more lucid expressions of my feelings at that time. The hope is that another may read these someday and come to be comforted, perhaps understand how their own grief is barking up the wrong tree. Dealing with personal hardships is very different for everyone and I believe the truth of the matter is that the only way past it is through it. The problem is that while that might take time, we don’t really have a surplus of that to squander on what we cannot change by wishing if only we could. Ultimately the only real change we will embrace and have to face is what the next thing time will dish out at us. Perspective is key here. One must step back from themselves and honestly see oneself as just another sucker on the vine (for want of a less colorful phrase) and accept that whatever your are brooding over, fixating upon may just an unnecessary dress rehearsal for the time when grief will show up even larger and start barking up the right tree.
Sometimes Grief -barks up the wrong tree & 21 Short Dogs Stories are now available on line in at the local bookstore special order desk, and @ St. Mark Books in NYC (details in Cold Millers) or Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Xlibris.com or direct phone contact: 1-888-795-4274Â Ex7879 Vincent Quatroche’s 21 Short Dog Stories is a collection of the previously published works that appeared in Another Rubber Eden 1997, Attitude House 2001, Greetings from Gridville 2005, CyberStein 2007 and the Terrible Now 2009. Divided into three sections entitled Fiction, Work and Memory there is also an Essay on the life and work of Charles Bukowski that originally appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal Volume 29 Fall 2009. Demonstrating a desire to display a wide repertoire of genres, Quatroche has included a variety of prose rifts here. Everything from science fiction to baseball, affairs of the heart and family, life lessons and perspective of the common laborer and at least one good payback story. These tales and vignettes resist categorization. Somewhere in a far flung outpost of imagination in the deep underground of the contemporary world of Post Modern literature that seems to exist to drive and serve current trends de-jour in the marketplace only, these stories read like individual transcripts of day to day life experience, and at times the fantastic, the brutal, the beautiful and the ugly all are represented in a surreal hyper reality intended to transport the reader to the many dimensions of human existence in the Terrible Now. Of this it can be stated with confidence, there is a story here for you to recognize, remember, adopt and embrace as your own.
Vincent Quatroche Sr. pictured above circa 1949 was a vibrant, productive artist working in a number of mediums and styles. From abstract, cubist, pop-art (both in oils and tempera), pen and ink, and watercolors Quatroche employed a highly individualist style that evolved continually during his lifetime. His early influences were variations on the themes of Pollack and Picasso. As his creative production which numbered in hundreds of canvases, sketches and notebooks spanned over half a century Vincent consistently challenged himself to grow and express his talents with a variety of subject matter. His great love of the history of trains from steam to diesel figured prominently. Still life, landscapes of the sea and nature and portraits were also constant themes rendered in pen and ink and watercolors. In his latter years he returned to the impressionist treatment of another of his lifelong loves Jazz and the great musicians who were giants in this art form. He continued to work up to within weeks of his demise at the age of 89 on Easter Sunday 2011.
This book of short stories is dedicated to my father, who was my first teacher, mentor and friend and through his love, support and encouragement inspired me to find my own voice in creativity and expression.
The following excerpt is taken from the Preface of 21 Short Dog Stories
The stories collected in this book represent interpretations of the individual perspective spanning over 35 years. While somewhat biographical in places, like almost all alleged fiction is based upon, I will resist the wholesale codification that this work can be dismissed as trivial, contrived or confessional. What happens to us here on earth channels the prism of the collective through the sharp iris focus of the singular. We do share our elemental nature of humanity (well, some more than others), but of all the things we want to believe, love, fear or cling to this one truth is to my way of thinking unmistakable . Somewhere beyond philosophic negotiation or sophist negation the simple truth is you are born alone with nothing and will exit in exactly the same state at the end of the line. Any discussion of a supposed imagined afterlife is a matter for faith or conviction to either reassure or terrify. However any departure point for that debate might begin I believe with this perspective; If memory constitutes the soul then that soul must constitute memory. The soul could be defined a pure memory. If we take anything of personal identity away from this existence, would it not be every thought, action, dream or nightmare we experienced in a lifetime? If consciousness endures beyond the grave, we will inhabit our own memory for infinity. Perhaps a much more sobering thought than the traditional constructs of a heaven or a hell. In part the writer performs the act of expression out of a deep personal compulsion and necessity. When the voice of the Stream of Consciousness is obsessed in reliving a past event, reordering present reality or projecting a possible future so loud and clear there must be a release to attempt to restore some tentative truce with sanity. So the recording and retelling of experience commences attempting to make some sense, to make peace with the holocaust of confusion, fear and pain that seems to rage on a daily basis over the course of a lifetime unabated. So where does that leave joy, beauty, love and fulfillment to fit into all of this? Well of course it must, but unfortunately I believe it merely escapes, leaks or somehow perseveres to force itself as a counterbalance to the dark other. And of course there absolutely must be a Court Jester There has to be. Lacking a sense of humor and appreciation of irony or the absurd, the perspective is twisted in a mask of madness and bitterness which drains the color from the mind, heart and soul into a small, gray, hard core of desolation. Then, our existence in this flesh is reduced to merely a life sentence. Doing time in the skin where upon death swings open the cell door. They stories are my humble attempt at obtaining time off for either good or bad behavior, but above all? An early release
Singing Mr. Cedric 2010
Meanwhile Bartleby sat in his hermitage, oblivious to everything but his particular business there. I sat awhile in perfect silence, rallying my stunned faculties. … Immediately it occurred to me that my ears had deceived me, or Bartleby had entirely misunderstood my meaning. I repeated my request in the clearest tone I could assume; but in quite as clear a one came the previous reply, “I would prefer not to.” “The time has come; you must quit this place; I … am sorry for you; here is money; but you must go.” “I would prefer not,” he replied, with his back still towards me. “You must.” He remained silent. Will you tell me anything about yourself?” “I would prefer … not to.” “But what reasonable objection can you have to speak to me? I feel friendly towards you.” He did not look at me while I spoke, but kept his gaze fixed upon my bust of Cicero, which, as I then sat, was directly behind me, some six inches above my head. “What is your answer, Bartleby?” said I, after waiting a considerable time for a reply, during which his countenance remained immovable, only there was the faintest conceivable tremor of the white attenuated mouth. “At present I prefer to give no answer,” he said, and retired into his hermitage.
Bartleby the Scribner-Herman Melville
Singing Mr. Cedric is Vincent Quatroche’s 2010 CD collection of Sonic landscapes on Dan Berggren’s label Sleeping Giant Records. Music by Matt Wiggers and Mark Heistand. Sound realization by Dan Berggren, with additional contributions from Jim Briggs. Available now from CD Baby, directly through here in the rubbereden via the contact section (make inquiry) various internet outlets in both CD & digital formats. All that info now listed in Cold Millers. The creation of persona characters is hardly new to modern American literature. Writer’s such as John Berryman had his Henry, Weldon Kees occasionally invoked Robinson, while in the Secret Sharer Joseph Conrad had the protagonist go literally overboard with his literately other. Enter Vincent Quatroche who introduces us to his latest experiment with alternative contemporary identity in a new CD release of work entitled Singing Mr. Cedric. Invoking Herman Melville’s Bartleby the enigmatic Scribner who retreats from the reality and responsibilities of the every day world with the retort I prefer not to the mundane realities of day to day existence. Quatroche’s recent persona is faced with a future he is ill prepared to deal with. While the personal realities of decay, demise and death are disturbing enough, it is a sense of the overall state of the world and society are unraveling just as quickly where the worst that can happen simply might not arrive soon enough. As Cedric sifts through memory and the years of his life he discovers that once seemed as the most enduring has eroded and as much as he no longer recognizes his place in the world where the mirror of mortality is reflecting back a world that no longer recognizes him. Obscurity will be only a pale foreshadowing to the total obliteration that is only a matter of time away. And how long is that? No one knows So Cedric decides that while he would prefer not to deal with any of these terrifying eventualities he has little choice. At last the truth about his own individuality has come into a sharp focus. He will lose it. Lose everything of the flesh. Cedric resigns himself to the moment. To live completely in the Terrible Now. And most of all ? Sing.
Vanishing Breed (2009)
1987-1997 Re-Mastered Cassette Collection
of Works rescued from the Obsolete Technology of Rubber Eden
1. Dreams of War 2. Vanishing Breed 3. Time Fries 4. List at the End of January 5.Rubber Eden
6. Where is Lucky Ward? 7. Drowning a Fin 8. Pliers 9. Screwing Me through Schenectady
10. What are We working on Now? 11. Jupiter 12. Knocking Yourself Out 13. What Dexter Knew
14. Maul Set 15. In October When the Price was Right 16. The Dybbuk Dreams 17. Chinese Proverb
18. Long Island Sound 19. Good Story 20. Book Scout 21. Radio Baghdad
These selections are representations of four independent cassette projects produced and released over a ten year period. They represent the spoken word genre in the Spirit and influence of Ken Nordine, Vivian Stanshill, Tom waits and even some Chris Morris lurking in there somewhere. I would like to thank Dan Berggren for his encouragement, support over the years in my audio related creative endeavors. Jim Briggs for the superb job of bring new life to these sonic landscapes. And of course all the talented musicians who I had the good fortune and honor to work with in collaboration. I dedicate this collection to future generations whom I hope will rediscover how to stare with their ears (As Nordine coined it) and allow the imagination to peer into the subconscious history of Rubber Eden some day. I am confident there is always someone out there who will not allow this sort of storytelling to become a vanishing breed that dwindles to extinction. To keep alive the art of listening, to travel beyond merely hearing.
The Terrible Now 2009
In a conversation with a friend recently discussing the impending publication of this latest collection of my work the subject of the title surfaced. When I remarked I intended to employ the title The Terrible Now, the reaction was rather mixed. The central question that seemed to go begging was, What’s so Terrible about Now ? I realized that a good point (or least a valid question) had been raised. Despite the overwhelming negative denotation and connotations associated with the word Terrible, I believe in the using the term in conjunction with Now creates alternative possibilities to understand what I wish to convey by The Terrible Now. In deed if you look up the word terrible in the dictionary, the news is not good. Synonyms such as fearful, frightful, appalling, dire, horrifying and dreadful are predominate in the definition. The word terrible is derived from the Greek terrin- to tremble or Latin terribillis-frightful. And over a period of time the severity of the definition has grown in intensity. In 1526 the term was seen as a weakened sense of very bad. By 1833 the negative sense had increased to be defined as extremely and in 1930 extremely badly is added (however awkwardly) I believe we get the point. But there is a usage of this extreme description of the definition I find most interesting. It can be found listed fourth on the possible ways to interpret meaning and is as follows formidably great….as in a terrible potential. It is from this point I will try and explain something of what I believe The Terrible Now is all about. As you read these words here at this very moment you are indeed experiencing the Terrible Now. However transitory, elusive and even illusionary, I defy you to hold on to this second that just passed and this new one that is now gone. Now I don’t want to digress into Sophistry here (but really you have to admire the Sophist, those ancient Greek philosophers who pissed everybody off so long ago with their examination/discourse of life’s most basic mysteries and contradictions to earn a dismissive general definition in contemporary dictionaries of even seriously considering their arguments) but from my point of view this is where we all are. Perpetually cast adrift in the Terrible Now. Consider what you know of the relationship in your life between reality, time and identity. All we perceive of our existence is in the past. That past is gone. Long gone. Never to return. Those who insist in living there, never grow, thrive or see the world other than through the perspective of what has vanished/disappeared. Many live for today, failing to remember the mistakes of the past and (as they say) are doomed to repeat those failures. While existing only in the present invites all sorts of Carpe Diem romanticism, indulgence and general hell raising (which is good time, but) you fail to prepare yourself to the reality of just what the hell you’re going to do if tomorrow shows up. This of course brings us to the concept of the future, that I would congratulate you for just entering this very moment. Beyond that however, there are of course absolutely no assurances of next year, next month, or even tomorrow at suppertime. Are you beginning to see the dimension of the tightrope I’ve drawn out here for all us to have to balance upon ? Of course, the key to comprehending any of this (if you really want to, gives me a headache) is awareness. The majority of the population never considers in the slightest the condition of living life with this concept even in the back of their mind. Modern life now is very shallow. Distractions and deceptions abound. We are not encouraged to think, consider or ponder. We are inundated with a media assault on our senses 24/7 to consume. Obey. Conform. Reflection and individuality exist only as pre-packaged options ready made to define, adorn, and suffocate. And that is pretty terrible. Add to all this how we have weakened our world. The complex, fragile systems we have become increasing more dependent upon to provide sanity and comfort. The general lack of concern for how much is discarded, never considered and taken for granted. If there is a Terrible Now? This is where all these things are manufactured and reside. The good news is you don’t have to live there. Certainly there are preexisting conditions no one on earth ever escapes. We are born, flourish briefly and we wither. (Some much more quickly than others). So what do we do with our Terrible Now ? I believe the only solution for myself is to write. To create. To try and live as fully in the moment as the situation allows. The expressions in this collection are captured moments recorded to some end. To remember. Question. Observe. And at least as some sort of proof of what I thought and did in my Terrible Now. For you see I don’t believe the Now has to be so Terrible. How could it be ? It is in effect really all we have. All we will ever have. So if you find yourself right at this moment in your Terrible Now ? Going through hard times and wonder how, why or even if you can make it ? Deal and Endure. And if your life is swinging really sweetly as you read this ? Relish and Celebrate. But don’t get used to any of it. Now is nothing but over. Over and over again. And if you find yourself with the gift of this moment bestowed upon you ? That’s not so Terrible…. Is it Now ? Vincent Quatroche 7/2009 Mr.Cedric pictured above in rare photograph Cedric (pictured above in a rare photograph) first appeared during the Summer of 2007 as a default spell-checker identity replacement for the name Quatroche was who invited to be featured at the Brownstone Poets Reading Society in Brooklyn NY. There are conflicting reports over just who showed up that July Saturday afternoon. Increasing the confusion over identity or separation between Quatroche and Cedric has grown and persisted. At least some facts are known to be verifiable. In a purely Doppelganger sense, that either Dostoyevsky or Conrad would concur with, it is clear that at least somebody resembling Quatroche has been teaching students at area colleges and correctional facilities in Western New York for the last fifteen years. Those assignments (by virtue of the name on the paycheck) had been in the past attributed solely to Quatroche, but being a pure Gemini has it occupation hazards. According to an agreement in which the details were not made public, Cedric has given permission to allow Vincent Quatroche’s name to appear on the front cover of this fifth collection of Poetry, Prose and Short Stories entitled The Terrible Now in exchange for the inclusion of Cedric’s photo here. This tenuous compromise may be short lived however as both claim to be have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for Poetry by the Fox Chase Review in 2008.
Bored and cold in 1816, which was known as The Year without a Summer Percy & Mary Shelly were on chilly holiday with their good friend the poet Byron. Remanded to the indoors, huddling around the fire, they challenged each other to write the scariest ghost story to pass the time Mary Shelly composed based impart upon the Prometheus legend where in the hero steals Zeus’ fire from the center of the Sun. Now this is a big deal. The acquisition of fire allowed for the development of weapons and tools. Elevated and separated the human from the animals and maybe just a step closer to the gods. Well naturally Zeus gets pretty pissed. Punishes Prometheus by chaining him to a rock in the Caucasus. Every night he is visited by an eagle that ate his liver. (which of course grew back every day) Meanwhile Mary Shelly’s take on all this turned out to be in the form of a strange tale about science run amuck with a mad doctor experimenting with the re-animation of dead bodies invested with life into a flesh and body living, breathing fiend. Sacred the living shit out of everybody in the movies as Boris Karloff lurched across the screen as a menacing nightmare fiend. And now some 200 years later all our advanced technology has generated a contemporary edition. Here comes CyberStein. In the late 1920’s the first modern economic re-adjustment occurred with the crash of stock market based upon wild financial speculation that investors erected a mile house deck of cards made of stock ticker tape and when the inevitable happened with a house of cards at least they had a deck of cards to pick up. But now we have CyberStein. And we aren’t leaving so much as nano crumbs to find our way back. This time the collapse will be complete sending society back to the 19th century or maybe the time of the new Greek Legends. All depends on how big CyberStein is this time and how far we fall with him. So take your pick just what system we have stolen our fire to create: Infer-structure de Jour: satellites, weapon systems, power plants, global sanity. So go ahead you tell me about science fiction or Greek mythology or why all this matters and where CyberStein will show up next in a maybe not so new ice-age to eat all our livers which I guess will, presumably, grow back during the day. Vincent Quatroche’s 2005 collection of Poetry/Prose and Short Stories takes another look at both the ramifications and implications of the Prometheus legend and an emerging contemporary mutation of Mary Shelly’s dark vision of a menacing creation brought to life by science and technology. Primarily metaphorical in content and form, Quatroche’s voice evokes the individual’s fragmentation and offers narratives reflection upon the emergence of a new experimental byproduct of our technological age; Cyberstein; an entity neither dead nor alive in a human sense of the reality, but a lurking like a ghost in the machine to force us to reconcile with transforming the human beings experience in life with society, personal life, relationships and perhaps ultimately with fate itself. One thing is fairly certain there is no humanity to be found in Cyberstein. No remorse to be expected from this force. We are witnessing the birth of new Prometheus fire gone mad.
Greetings from Gridville 2006
Greetings from Gridville is chronicle of one consumer/citizen’s account of life from a highly subjective basis. These perspectives are shaped and rendered in the “newspeak” of the individual. The ability of the connection or value of the poems and stories to the reader will be in direct relation to their economic status, position or role in society and perhaps most importantly the nature and disposition of current and/or past life experience. Collectively and increasingly the “hive” grows more complex, perplexing and fragmented. We live on the zenith of a cyber/fiber optic “house of cards.” Each passing day we add to the precarious balance of this fragile edifice just by the mere act of living. All essential systems of life sustaining distribution of goods and services in virtually every aspect of existence have grown more and more entangled, entwined and inbred. The example of an incredibly immense ball of twine thread throughout virtually all aspects of this edition of contemporary existence is as apropos as it is chilling. We don’t understand it. We are addicted to it. And those who provide, maintain and oversee it doesn’t care. Except when we fail to pay for it. As of this writing there are two new fundamental commandments that consumer citizens must be aware of and abide by: Thou shall not run a foul the legal system and thou shall not have a catastrophic illness. Translation: don’t go to jail or get sick in Gridville. Now at this point, you might be asking yourself, why would I want to read anything written by someone with such a negative message coming from such a depressing place called Gridville ? And of course I see your point. And there’s only one problem with using that rational as an “out” or point of dismissal; that is, we are all in the same boat. The good ship “I’ve got mine” as suddenly sprung a leak. There is no getting off the “grid.” It’s been tried. Many, many different ways. Alternative lifestyles, communities, communes, dogma, dope, booze and compulsive binge and purge shopping. There is no escape. The exit doors have been bolted shut. And I’m afraid as Captain Beefheart once wailed, “There ain’t no Santa Clause on the evening stage.” I have no way of knowing what the future holds for all the Gridvilles spread across the Rubber Eden. But I do sense a couple of things about our current situation. There is no way to return to what life was life in our country a mere hundred years ago. The future dawns every day and we are not leaving so much as breadcrumbs to ever find our way back to somewhat saner, simpler times. Yet each Attitude House of Gridville still contains humanity at its best and worst, humble and self-important. Just people. Fragile. Vibrant… Newly born or those near time to depart. As it has always been here in the Rubber Eden since before all the rubber and merely the Eden. I think it’s time to get to know your fellow citizens here in the Rubber Eden. The nature of their day to day dreams, joys, loves and fears. Greeting from Gridville contains the voices of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, lost lovers and current mistresses. Turn off the “Reality TV” with its’ debasing vanity iris and read the poetry, the stories, memories and secret hidden sub consciousness of the great collective “nobody” from “nowhere” who dares still to express “anything” to “anyone” just because they the desire to express and still can. You might find more of yourself or someone you know in Gridville than you bargained for. Greetings from Gridville is an extended series of postcard like word-picture images in which enigmatic prose narratives appear on the reverse side in an archaic language scrawled in a difficult font sent from a country that either no longer exists or has declined to such a degree that not only do the citizens fail to recognize their national identity any longer; they seem to be embracing their cultural vacuity with open arms. Meanwhile the rest of the world regards their nation as a menace or some sort of surreal punch line to a bad cosmic joke delivered in the poorest of taste. In Gridville mind numbing complex systems struggle to regulate and maintain order in a cyber-optic spider web where lust and greed are lynchpins for celebrity obsessed, creature comfort driven, image conscious consumers. Dreams of power and nightmares of paranoia permeate the major urban population centers; while in the vast empty spaces of the heartland the core of the countries populace regard themselves as the “chosen elite” spiritual gatekeepers and moral jury masters of the collective soul. For those who come of age and fall in love in Gridville, the William Butler Yeats quote from the “Second Coming” can truly be appreciated, “…The ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Vincent Quatroche’s Greetings from Gridville is his third book of prose, poetry and stories. Previous collections include Another Rubber Eden (1997) and Attitude House (2002). For ordering info visit the “Cold Millers” section on this website Vincent Quatroche persists still in writing, publishing, recording and performing his rather askew worldview. The rational mind would think after thirty some odd years he might have gotten the message that not only does the literary world not even consider him a after thought and that perhaps if he insists upon annoying the general population of Gridville with his creative efforts that a knock at the door from the proper authorities wishing to interview him and ask a few questions regarding his personal political views and nationalistic loyalties is the best he might hope for. Vincent still resides on the outskirts of domestic strangulation in Western New York, with his wife and children, who with the passage of time have come to the ultimate realization that that their beloved father and husband is no doubt a couple of baloney slices short of a complete sandwich and who will not cease or desist insisting he hears the Sirens of Titan until it’s time for that long dirt nap in the wooden kimono. At press time collaborating comments from his students at nearby correctional facilities and local colleges were unavailable for legal reasons.