Tuesday, October 14, 2014

To and Fro

Hey remember in the Geneva Bible when God asks the devil, "Where commeft thou?" and the devil says, "From copafsing the earth to and fro, and from walking in it"? You're probably wondering about my recent travels in the same way! Okay, you twisted my arm. But to understand my wandering properly we have to go way back to when my glasses fell off my head in the lobby of a swank New York City hotel some months ago. I lost a very nice silver pen in that same lobby! And Megan Abbott gave me a pen to replace it. Was the replacement a fancy silver pen? No! It was one Megan picked up in a hotel during her own travels. This pen was a gift from the heart! And cheap though it may have been, it was of an unusual and pleasing shade of blue, its body made of a sturdy, semi-opaque plastic, I believe. It advertised a company called Kimpton, which owns hotels and restaurants, apparently. So on my recent trip to Birmingham to do a reading, I thought I had left the pen Megan gave me behind in a bank! But when I came home it was just sitting there on the TV tray. While in my Birmingham hotel room, I distractedly watched the shoe factory show. Hey remember on GILMORE GIRLS when Luke had a daughter with another woman and that woman was angry when Lorelai (who was dating Luke at the time) hung out with the daughter and it caused problems in Lorelai's relationship? Well, now they are making Lauren Graham go through that plot line again on the shoe factory show, just like the other time they stole a plot from GILMORE GIRLS and marched Lorelai, I mean, Lauren Graham, through it. Lauren Graham is like some doomed soul, forced always to reenact the same torments! What a bummer. While I was watching the shoe factory show, Dr. Theresa was back in Oxford, having an elegant dinner with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls and T. Cooper, whom she had introduced on the Thacker Mountain radio program earlier in the evening. THEN! It was on to New Orleans, where I saw many of my fave former students from back when I used to teach: Abby, Elizabeth (wearing her mother's prom dress from 1968!), Burke, Rachel and SKIN MAG, Ryan, and Anya (wearing a wedding dress because IT WAS HER WEDDING DAY, a happy occasion I wouldn't have missed for the world). It was a lovely ceremony on the porch of an old house, the kind of house where I kept looking up at the attic windows expecting to see a gently approving ghost but I didn't. Burke gave me a book with this great first sentence: "Art has a way of undermining all aesthetic theories." Just like Jerry Lewis! I added the part about Jerry Lewis. On the drive back to Oxford, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys came on the radio and I suddenly remembered going to see a feature-length documentary about the theremin back in Atlanta with Dr. Theresa - I think it was just called THEREMIN - and Brian Wilson was interviewed in it about the memorable theremin part in "Good Vibrations." You know how Brian Wilson thinks and talks. He's a genius! And he comes off very open and vulnerable and eccentric sometimes. And I think he said the theremin was scary and made him think of sex. Is that what he said? So, the director of THEREMIN was there for this screening (and as I recall, so was Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer!) and in the Q&A session afterward, some fool in the audience asked the director if it was "hard not to laugh" when interviewing Brian Wilson and the director shot back with shocked sincerity, "No, it's hard not to cry." And that came back to me so vividly while I was driving that I was completely absorbed in experiencing that memory and sort of forgot I was driving. Has that ever happened to you? Don't do that! It's not safe! Dr. Theresa snapped me out of it. And then I started thinking that Brian Wilson's genius might be profitably compared to Jerry Lewis's in its directness. When Kelly Hogan was just visiting us, she was trying to learn a Brian Wilson song for an upcoming performance. Hogan expounded thoughtfully on the lyrics "I wrote a number down but I lost it/ So I searched through my pocket book, I couldn't find it/ So I sat and concentrated on the number and/ Slowly it came to me so I dialed it/ And I let it ring a few times, there was no answer/ So I let it ring a little more, still no answer" and their relationship to the complex transparency of Brian Wilson (which is different than Jerry's complex transparency). Complex transparency! (It comes to me just now that the theremin documentary featured a clip of Jerry's encounter with a theremin in THE DELICATE DELINQUENT.)