Jeune Zappa joue la musique de la vieille Zappa ...

Yesterday it was beastly hot in Montreal: 31C which is about 88F with 85% humidity. It was also Canada Day. I saw a news poll that only 31% of Quebecers feel a connection with this national holiday versus 61% of the rest of the country. 
We did a bit of wandering - and sweating - to feel the local groove - and like most things here it was subdued. Mostly we retreated to places that were air conditioned - including our flat - and caught up on some reading. Later that evening, however, I was feeling the need to explore the world of the night. As often happens about this time in our travels, Di needs a quiet time alone away from festivals and the sometimes frenetic energy of her partner. 

So, I started slipping into darkness about 9 pm and didn't quit until I got home about 2 am. Mostly, I walked the neighborhoods surrounding the Jazz Festival to get a sense of what's happening in these locales. Part of me loves to walk into an unknown bar, chat up the bartender and listen to his/her story about what's important at this moment in time.
To be completely honest, I am also fascinated by the people who thrive in the late hours of the evening. How did Edward Winter put it: those who only come out at night? They're the Lou Reed/Tom Waits crowd - a mostly gentle, creative community of souls who often put on a brutal exterior in their quest for connection - and I have always been intrigued by how their world works. It is not, you see, my natural habitat. I am more at home in bookstores and libraries - small jazz or folk clubs and coffeehouse work, too. But since the time I first wandered around the West Village during the summer of love - and then made countless pilgrimages to the Fillmore East - I find myself eager for proximity to this unusual and deeply compassionate under class.
I guess it is somehow fitting that our last show in Montreal tonight will be Zappa Plays Zappa. The Mothers of Invention were my first concert ever. They played the old Garrick Theatre in the West Village. And the combination of seeing their LATE show - with all its bizarre jazz, biting social commentary and foolish lewdness - plus the spectacle of taking in the burgeoning NYC hippie groove in 1966 apparently scared me for life. I learned a LOT from those guys about acceptance, creativity and diversity. In their own way, the Mothers embodied the down and dirty reality of Christ's kingdom where no one earns their way into God's blessing, it is just absolutely free. What's more, "who cares if you're too poor to buy a pair of mod a-go-go stretch elastic pants? There will even come a time when you can take your clothes off when you dance!"
This world wears its brokenness and wounds on the outside - expressing with no uncertainty the tragedy and sorrow it knows all too well - while keeping its beauty, tenderness and hope very, very private - something that is shared only with those who can be trusted. This is, of course, the polar opposite of what I grew up with - bold, outward expressions of beauty, faith, hope and love - but I think both are different sides to the same coin. The cultural critique of bourgeois society and its bottom line values ebbs and flows. It finds a public expression, however, because every human heart aches to be loved and every human soul yearns to be affirmed. The aesthetic expressions of this longing looks different in time, culture and context, but the truth of this cadre - from Baudelaire and Rimbaud to Ginsberg, Kerouac, Joni Mitchell, Marge Pearcy, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and l'orchestre d'hommes-orchestres - remains constant: at our core, we ache for truth, beauty and love.

So off we go to see young Zappa bring tribute to his poppa and introduce a whole new generation to the wisdom and weird genius that was Mr. Francis Vincent. It will be a little bit of reunion for me so how appropriate that today is my birthday...

Comments

ddl said…
"This world wears its brokenness and wounds on the outside - expressing with no uncertainty the tragedy and sorrow it knows all too well - while keeping its beauty, tenderness and hope very, very private - something that is shared only with those who can be trusted. This is, of course, the polar opposite of what I grew up with - bold, outward expressions of beauty, faith, hope and love - but I think both are different sides to the same coin."


hmmm...this quote invites more reflection... I never considered it this way, but it's true. So, I wonder, how to reverse this or bring it into balance? A rhetorical question...

Happy B-day.
James said…
Let me know what you come up with after some reflection. We're heading home but I've been pondering this all day - especially after Zappa played "Other People." More soon
ddl said…
I totally have NOT figured anything out exactly-- it's kind of like running down multiple paths of thinking and peering down from a balcony at a mouse (me) in a maze or possible thoughts...but sometimes that's just the stupid PTSD talking, seriously (I asked). And sometimes it's just the soul trying to take responsibility for its own crap and still point to some injustice. Nevertheless, I ultimately came to the conclusion that I'd like to proclaim more beauty, tenderness, and joy, as you say...but the reckoning perhaps had to happen first?

Okay-- so the book-- Fr. Richard Rohr's "Breathing Under Water" is awesome and very hard, especially step 8 -- the one about coming to terms with your own selfishness and apologizing for your own mess. I think that the title of the chapter is "payback time" and it has been messing with my head, along with the PTSD stuff. Ugh.

So, upon reflection, I am going to just say that this whole thing about dealing with brokenness is such a BOTH/AND and that paradox is hard-- a very ZEN kind of thing-- or maybe jazz-- because the theme sort of stays the same but there are all these variations that we need to consider to be healthy and spiritually whole.

So there's your reflection.
And constantly to remember about everything that it isn't always about us (my husband's favorite riff)
RJ said…
I love your words... and resonate with them. Two thoughts: first, I think this IS a lot like jazz - which is one of the reasons I am so grateful my journey stumbled upon playing this music - as there are 3 constants to jazz. 1)Tradition and improvisation - you play the theme and then play with it and see where it leads before returning to the theme; 2) Beauty - whether it is intellectual or emotional, the goal is always beauty even when it is a hard beauty; and 3) Collaboration - we are NEVER doing any of this all by ourselves. Indeed, it is NOT about ourselves, but ourselves in collaboration with others whom we listen to and learn from and also share with, too. PTSD is a monster! But grace is bigger still, yes? I am grateful for your going deeper and your sharing. Thank you.

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