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Month: August, 2016

“Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave”

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                        Hank Williams

                              _______

halfway through The Last Picture Show
recently, a celebrated movie from the early 
Seventies I was watching, about the early
Fifties, I was sidetracked by the Hank  
Williams soundtrack till I was out and out 
stopped by its fervent Cold, Cold Heart 

I put the film on pause 

another love before my time, I warbled,
made your heart sad and blue, and so 
my heart is paying now, I wallowed, for 
things didn’t do, in anger unkind words
were said, I rued, that made the teardrops 
start, why can’t I free, your doubtful mind, 
I fretted, and melt your cold, cold heart 

but I wanted to hear Hank Williams do
it too, live if I could, and lo and behold 
got it

but listed as an option among other 
options nearby was also a longer  
feature purporting to be a 
representation of a concert he 
never  gave the night, December 31, 
1952, he died, the movie is called,
not inappropriately, Hank Williams:
The Show He Never Gave

the actor who plays Williams steps
right into his shoes, he’ll break your 
heart, you’ll need a lot of Kleenex

one of he best film biographies I’ve 
ever seen 

watch it

Hank Williams died of a heart attack
on the night of December 31, 1952

he was 29

may he rest in everlasting peace

Richard

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“Through a Glass, Darkly” – General George S. Patton, Jr.

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                 General George S. Patton, Jr.

                           ______________

Through a Glass, Darkly

Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
I have fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.

In the form of many people
In all panoplies of time
Have I seen the luring vision
Of the Victory Maid, sublime.

I have battled for fresh mammoth,
I have warred for pastures new,
I have listed to the whispers
When the race trek instinct grew.

I have known the call to battle
In each changeless changing shape
From the high souled voice of conscience
To the beastly lust for rape.

I have sinned and I have suffered,
Played the hero and the knave;
Fought for belly, shame, or country,
And for each have found a grave.

I cannot name my battles
For the visions are not clear,
Yet, I see the twisted faces
And I feel the rending spear.

Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
In His sacred helpless side.
Yet, I’ve called His name in blessing
When after times I died.

In the dimness of the shadows
Where we hairy heathens warred,
I can taste in thought the lifeblood;
We used teeth before the sword.

While in later clearer vision
I can sense the coppery sweat,
Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery
When our Phalanx, Cyrus met.

Hear the rattle of the harness
Where the Persian darts bounced clear,
See their chariots wheel in panic
From the Hoplite’s leveled spear.

See the goal grow monthly longer,
Reaching for the walls of Tyre.
Hear the crash of tons of granite,
Smell the quenchless eastern fire.

Still more clearly as a Roman,
Can I see the Legion close,
As our third rank moved in forward
And the short sword found our foes.

Once again I feel the anguish
Of that blistering treeless plain
When the Parthian showered death bolts,
And our discipline was in vain.

I remember all the suffering
Of those arrows in my neck.
Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage
As I died upon my back.

Once again I smell the heat sparks
When my Flemish plate gave way
And the lance ripped through my entrails
As on Crecy’s field I lay.

In the windless, blinding stillness
Of the glittering tropic sea
I can see the bubbles rising
Where we set the captives free.

Midst the spume of half a tempest
I have heard the bulwarks go
When the crashing, point blank round shot
Sent destruction to our foe.

I have fought with gun and cutlass
On the red and slippery deck
With all Hell aflame within me
And a rope around my neck.

And still later as a General
Have I galloped with Murat
When we laughed at death and numbers
Trusting in the Emperor’s Star.

Till at last our star faded,
And we shouted to our doom
Where the sunken road of Ohein
Closed us in it’s quivering gloom.

So but now with Tanks a’clatter
Have I waddled on the foe
Belching death at twenty paces,
By the star shell’s ghastly glow.

So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.

And I see not in my blindness
What the objects were I wrought,
But as God rules o’er our bickerings
It was through His will I fought.

So forever in the future,
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter,
But to die again, once more.

                 General George S. Patton, Jr.

                        ____________

General George S. Patton, Jr., a 
celebrated American general who 
fought bravely during the Second  
World War, is known to my  
generation especially through the 
much acclaimed film, Patton“, 
which lionized him then, 1970 

George C. Scott portrayed him 
impeccably, indelibly searing him 
into our collective consciousness

he appears to have been the very
paradigm of American heroism, 
rough, coarse even, wilful, 
inflexible, unforgiving, righteous 
to a fault, but instilled with a 
sense of divine mission 

he believed in reincarnation, notably,
the poem above recounts throughout 
history his many lives as a warrior

to me he seems the very incarnation 
of the Greek god Ares, rather, come 
down from high Olympus, again 
throughout history and time, to  
 effect his defining role as the
immortal God of War

George S. Patton was also, it would 
appear, a poet, if the example above 
is to count, maybe he was, indeed, 
inspired

Richard

“La traviata” – Guiseppe Verdi

La_Dame_aux_camélias_d'après_Charles_Chaplin

             La Dame aux camélias

       Charles Chaplin (1825 – 1891)

                       _________

this version of La traviata has no
subtitles, but it should be remembered
that only a few years ago none of them
had, 
not even in opera houses

I learned to love La traviata on CD,
couldn’t 
either see the performance
then, 
now the internet supplies us,
gratis, with complete operas, from
very 
Gluck‘s to very Philip Glass
with the text 
translated throughout


a synopsis 

Violetta is a courtesan, a traviata, a
f
allen woman, who’s fallen all the way
to the top of Parisian 
society, she has
just recovered from malaise and is 
hosting a celebration, her salon 
entertains many who’ve been 
instrumental in securing her not 
unsullied reputation, it is the world 
of Marcel Proust

a new suitor arrives, Alfredo Germont, 
who pledges his love undying, she is 
eventually seduced, by his, no doubt,
impressive arias, croce e delizia, he
sings, she counters, agony and 
ecstasy, indeed

the ups and downs of love ensue,
Germont’s father objects to the match,
claiming Alfredo’s sister’s chances
at marriage would falter should her 
name, their name, be defiled, he 
convinces Violetta to leave Alfredo
for the sake of his family, whereupon 
everyone feels betrayed

Alfredo, Alfredo, she cries, di questo 
core non puoi comprendere tutto 
l’amore, Alfredo, Alfredo, you cannot 
understand fully the love I have in 
my heart, she moans, begrudges
 
but love conquers all in the end, 
though not life, as it turns out, Violetta 
succumbs to her malaise, which had 
all along been consumption, 
tuberculosis nowadays

you’ll see Spanish dancers, gypsies,
they are part of Violetta’s entertainment,
have nothing to do with the story,
otherwise the music itself tells all

the camellia, note, which you’ll see 
highlighted here and there, is a 
reference to Violetta’s inspiration,  
the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, 
or junior,  his La Dame aux camélias“, 
which the same author shortly 
thereafter made into an equally 
successful play, Camille” in English, 
the lady of the camellias, incidentally, 

Renée Fleming has taken over the role,
from Maria Callas in the Fifties, then 
from Joan Sutherland in the Eighties, 
she is the traviata for this generation

she is perfect, her arpeggios will 
shoot up your spine 

listen


Richard

to Socrates – on monotheism‏

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      “The Sacrifice of Isaac (1598)

                        Caravaggio

                               ________

by very definition, the inevitable
result of monotheism, Socrates,  
is war, if there is one authority it  
will eventually be opposed by a 
contrary, however picayune, 
however trivial, opinion, see the 
Protestant Reformationsee Islam, 
for instance, now
 
after which there is disintegration
 
before Christianity, there were gods, 
a pantheon of them symbolically
alive among the rivers, the trees, 
the mountains, read Ovid for an
exhilarating description, wars were 
waged for territory, not conscience  
 
Judaism, the religion of the Jews,
evolved for their own existence a
deity, Yahweh, who was their one 
god, disdainful of foreign others,
an uncharacteristic attitude among 
other religions then, becoming one 
of the very first monotheistic, and
consequently existentially 
compromised faiths, if not the 
first
 
the intent was to rally ideological 
support among its adherents so 
that they could protect the lands 
of Israel and Judahtheir ancestral 
homesas they would have it, a 
sanctification of the territorial 
principle
 
their Bible, the Torah, a vengeful 
work, and the basis for the 
Christian Old Testament, 
demanded of its followers 
unblinking and cruel allegiance,
the sacrifice of Isaacfor instance,
a father required to sacrifice his 
own son, however might it ‘ve
been at the last minute averted by 
the intercession of an angel sent 
by that very Lord
 
Christ came along to turn the other
cheek
 
which didn’t last long 
 
indeed Montesquieu, an early 
philosopher of the French
Enlightenment, tells of the 
King’s librarian of Chinese 
texts, who had been converted 
to Catholicism in China, but 
who was nonplussed upon his 
arrival in Christian France to find 
that the French did not do onto 
others as they would have them 
do unto themselves, nor did they, 
more catastrophically, turn the  
other cheek
 
for that matter see what Christian 
Europe did to the Americans
 
Christ’s own followers, once they’d 
achieved political prominence, after, 
admittedly, 300 years of persecution 
by the prevailing Roman authorities, 
set their own deity, God, on high, 
indeed beyond the rivers, the 
mountains, the trees into the very 
ineffable, the inscrutable abstract, 
and squelched any opposition for  
the next thousand and some years,
the philosophical underpinnings of 
which was the work of your 
contemporary, Plato, Socrates, his 
ideal of the Ideal
 
Augustine signed those recalibrated 
papers with his City of God“, it took 
the Renaissance to make a dent in its 
armour, and another several centuries 
to declare the Christian God dead, 
Time magazine in the ’60s, on the 
heels of Nietzsche‘s nihilistic  
pronouncement some 70 years earlier, 
that God had exited history
 
what we are left with, Socrates, is every 
wo/man for hirself, therefore the Age of 
Human Rights, for better or for worse
otherwise many of us would’ve been 
guillotined, burnt at the stake, stoned 
to death, by now
 
what do you think
 
I’ll bet I can tell, you think that every 
wo/man owes allegiance to what s/he 
believes in, even to inexorable death, 
however impractical, unfortunate, or 
fateful, if your exemplary life has  
anything to say about it 
 
 
cheers
 
Richard

in recognition of Prince

ladies-in-the-rain.jpg!Large

Ladies In The Rain (1893-1894) 
 
         Maurice Prendergast
 
                _____________
 
 
trying to find a musical representation

of me for a love recently lost, but with
whom the interaction is nevertheless
cordial, for a letter I was writing him,

cordially, and which I would sign me,

I hit upon Prince’s Purple Rain“, I never  
meant to cause you any trouble, never 
meant to cause you any pain, perfect, I 
thought, I only want to see you laughing 
in the purple rain
 
how else can one love
 
I remembered that Prince was a hero, 
an angel, a prophet, an epiphany of the 
late Twentieth Century, some voices are
indelible, incandescent, illuminating,
avatars of love
 
 
note the pace of Pink Floyd, the 
hypnotic, messianic even, tempo,  
note the elements of the prophet
 
 
 
Richard

 

to Socrates

Socrates_Louvre

                                      bust of Socrates
 
                                           __________
 
 
                        The way to gain a good reputation
                                 is to endeavour to be what you
                                      desire to appear”Socrates
 
 
having lost faith in the natural 
philosophers, ThalesAnaximander
AnaximenesSocratesit’s no wonder
you turned to more introspective 
speculation, what is virtue rather than 
what is the world
 
but thereby you ran right into the wall
of the word, which had been there from 
the very beginning, but so intimate as 
to not be able to see the forest for its 
trees
 
what is virtue, you wondered, but 
got caught up in the fray of, even 
conflicting, opinions, making it 
clear that everyone had a different 
answer, what could that mean
 
it could only mean that virtue was in
the eye of the beholder, not as your
disciple Plato would have it, that we 
all partook of an ideal Virtue, never
real, a theoretical abstraction merely,
but serving nevertheless as its
authoritative standard
 
but who would’ve set that standard, 
you would’ve asked, never stopping 
at so fragile a conclusion, setting the 
tone for proper philosophy, however 
ill the lesson ‘s since been learned
 
the proper answer to any and every
question is ultimately another  
question, that is the true lesson of 
philosophy, an observation, sir, to 
build a life on
 
questions mean you’re  learning
 
thank you, Socrates
 
 
Richard