Dancing about architecture (August 20, 2001)

I’m writing this on the eve of my annual trip home to the East Coast of the USA (get me to the airport, put me on a plane), where I hope to catch at least a couple of inspiring concerts, in settings intimate or otherwise (inspiration can strike in a basement as well as a stadium, though the light show’s not as impressive). I’ve never thought much about how my writings might influence others, so it was an interesting experience to read the Eric Clapton article by Nancy, my comrade freelancer in this here Cohort, who has a dissimilar background from mine and quite a different writing style, but there’s obviously common ground in our current interest in things spiritual, tightly intermingled with things musical, especially in considering the performer as shaman.

Personally, I’ve never been much of a Slowhand fan, have never seen the dude in concert and have certainly never confused him with the Deity, but I’m willing to take another listen. Like Patti Smith, Clapton, judging by Nancy’s report, seems to have found the key to integrating the best of his past selves/songs into his present form, offering them up as if saying, “I’m not that person anymore, but what I created back then is still valid, retains relevance.” You can laugh at and pity some of those past selves of yours if you like (especially if you start thumbing through some of those photo albums from the `70s), but mature integration, I think, means feeling not only sympathy for them alongside, but gratitude that you’ve come through all of those Bad Things, intact and improved, to the more enlightened place you’re at today. To me, positive thinking doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand away from all the world’s pain and tragedy, but it does mean allowing for the possibility of hope (in an age of possibility).

I don’t know about that silly rug business with Clapton, though…next thing you know, the guy will be demanding wall-to-wall and a Barcalounger. (When I was in college, circa `78, I remember going to a long-since-vanished Boston club called Paul’s Mall to see Martin Mull, then in an intersection between his former career as a comic singer-songwriter and his current acting career on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and its spinoffs. His gimmick then was to drag his living room furniture (or so he said it was) along on tour with him, from venue to venue, setting up a couch and ottoman and coffee table on stage and so forth, so he’d be “comfortable.” Pretty sophomoric stuff when you look back on it, but then, I probably WAS a sophomore at the time and I thought it was great… )

August dog days or not, I’d sure like to hear from some of you in the room (or on the beach, if you prefer; imagine us all sitting around a big campfire as the sun sets into the sea on the rocky Pacific Northwest coast, as a big Lab retriever frolicks in the surf) who have been markedly silent lately…a bit too silent…I mean, we don’t have to sing “Kumbayah” but…maybe putting a Persian rug on the beach would help? As Paula Poundstone (who’s probably in our cohort) once said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we were all sitting around in feetie pajamas eating Ring Dings? I’d be happy then.”

Best to you each morning, and remember – a Do-Bee is proactive and pays no attention to branding, formatting and pigeonholing!

P.S. – I heard that Patti Smith’s three encores at her concert in Damrosch Park, near Lincoln Center, NYC, last Saturday were, in order, “Be My Baby,” Gloria,” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” Sorry I missed it, and I’ll bet you are too!)


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