WTM #1070: Jim Carroll + People Who Died

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies
21 September 2009 // 17.00-19.00

I’m your DJ… Nice to have you all aboard, nice to have you share, happy music on the air”
• Lil Wally
As simple as a walk to that cellar, I lost my virgin veins.
Jim Carroll
het huis dat aan het water staat / herinnering aan het foetus-zijn: / de deur intrappen met ogen dicht / en reeds het bankroet van de laatste snik / de laatste adem / het laatste gedicht
• Simon Vinkenoog, “Bloedgang”

I’m Your DJ > Lil Wally
The Flying Dutchman > Spinvis vs Simon Vinkenoog
Tegen Oorlog > Simon Vinkenoog [One World Poetry / Knipscheer-Melkweg-Giorno, 1982]
Balloon Polka > Lil Wally
Gnomendans > Spinvis vs Simon Vinkenoog
Sampling Nietzsche > Jim Carroll http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Carroll
City Drops into the Night > Jim Carroll Band [Catholic Boy / Atco, 1980]
Zen Tone > The Source [Home Experience #2 / Jarring Effects, 2008]
NBC’s Today Show (5.6.99) > Jim Carroll [“kids can’t cry today”]
+ Afraid of Nothing > High Tone [Home Experience #2 / Jarring Effects, 2008]
Nothing is True / People Who Died > Jim Carroll Band [Catholic Boy / Atco, 1980]
Goddank het Licht / Quick Quick Slow > Spinvis vs Simon Vinkenoog
Trance Dance > Hamid Baroudi vs DJ Krush [World Lounge / Putumayo
+ Work Not Play > Jim Carroll
+ I am Alone > Jim Carroll
Johnny’s Knocking Polka > Lil Wally
Son of a Gun/Caldwell Woods/Teacher/Division Street > Polkaholics [Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera / Polkaholics, 2009]
In Celebration of his Birthday Aug 1 > Lil Wally
Do It Yourself / Polka Superstar > > Polkaholics [Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera / Polkaholics, 2009]
Dont Tease Me > Lil Wally Worlds Polka King
I Miss Chicago Again / King of Happiness > Polkaholics [Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera / Polkaholics, 2009]
Zakopane Walz > Polkaholics [Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera / Polkaholics, 2009]
I’m Your DJ > Lil Wally

Decided to do yet another dancing on the graves of the dead show. Maybe it has more to do with the process of ageing and the fact that those you know, admire, listened to are also getting older, I have increasingly been concentrating on [forgotten] deceased soundmakers. In this case Jim Carroll [11.09.09], Dutch beatnik poet and personality Simon Vinkenoog [finch eye, 12.07.09] and Lil Wally [18.08.06]. I concentrated on these 3 for different reasons. Jim Carroll because of his influential Basketball Diaries, which in an elegant and straightforward poetic fashion, told the story of growing up in 1960s NYC. It was very influential for me and spurred me to write my own early novels. I bought the first edition [Tombouctou Books] with the great cover showing a disheveled Jim Carroll on the cover. Appropriately or just coincidentally his initials are the same as the other JC, Jesus, the one who hounded him his entire life.

I was so inspired I decided to write a review of the then still unknown [undergroundish / small press] book. JC had already published some poetry chapbooks and his talents were definitely there although probably struggling between sports prowess, poetry and the distraction of drugs. I wrote a review that became a kind of weird style for me: I would only write about things that meant so much to me that I could not separate the author from myself. This is similar to other [failed / distorted] reviews I wrote of seeing PiL, of the influence of the kinetic noise-poetics of that attractive Rimbaudian punk poetess Lizzy Mercier Descloux. But this time the review was a success as I saw in his writing and in his lifestyle not just slacker distraction but a gesture – however truncated by style and peer pressure – of revolt. My review was published in the “legendary” East Village Eye, haunt of Richard Hell and Ji “The Hound” Marshall, and was then reprinted in a slightly altered version, in the Yipster Times.

Several years later, me and Brad [the funniest human on the face of this flat planet] went to see JC perform at the Bottom Line. We went up and I introduced myself to JC and introduced Brad. JC actually recognized my name as the guy who had written the, in his opinion,  best review [ever] of the Basketball Diaries – that’s what JC said – and the concert live was great but I think JC always carried the burden of that first great book, being lionized as a boy wonder until he could no longer disentangle his art from the expectations of the outside world. His subsequent work was OK but never hit that transcendent plateau again. His music was lyrics riven but suffered from an obsolete sound [to my ears], choosing a kind of generic rock format for his rock poetics.

Poet Tom Clark has an excellent blog and addresses the death of JC here: “A poet departs, too soon, and there is a void that will not be filled. From somewhere deep and old the tears well up in the dark night. When I met Jim in 1967 he was seventeen. He had been leading a triple life: high school All-American basketball star, heroin addict/street hustler, poet. On scholarship at the elite Ivy league prep academy Trinity School (alums include Humphrey Bogart, Truman Capote, Ivana Trump, Yo Yo Ma, John McEnroe, Aram Saroyan), he had shown unusual abilities on the court. He had played against the city’s best (including Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had starred at Power Memorial, a school in Jim’s own Inwood Park neighborhood). His skills had drawn the attention of college scouts. The turning point, according to one of his versions of the story, had come when a representative of Notre Dame took him out for dinner. Jim told the story with great good humor; the Notre Dame man had ordered a spaghetti dinner. Jim had listened politely to the man’s talk of the virtues of a Notre Dame education. And then nodded out into the spaghetti [continued].

Simon Vinkenoog was one of those wonders of longevity, splurged and lived on a poetic edge that included many excesses and carelessness with regard to health. He died at 81 in July 2009 and represented the passing of a style, an era filled with contradiction and idealism, of agitation and levity – he, as the best Dutch rep of beatness, romantically believed in the transformative powers of words and here teams up with one of NL’s more interesting pop composers Spinvis to come up with a record that overshadows most perf poetry in its exuberance and kinetic thrust. He was in a league of his own beyond slam poetry. What I enjoyed/admired was his ability to make a kind of grander sense as he seemed to be playing the court jester, entertaining self and audience, his ability to be free of the constraints of fear and public opinion. The last foto of this lanky long-haired guy whose mere presence seemed to ooze a kind of vital life force that transcended the trends and fickle tastes of consumer culture. He emerged as alternative culture scourge to poet laureate of the Netherlands.

Lastly we have the Midwest’s Polka King, Lil Wally who reigned supreme over that world and his influences, his style of rambunctious dance music that went far beyond mere dance band into the realm of musical manifesto that spoke of the supreme right to fun. The Polkaholics, his spiritual grand-children, led by ex Algebra Suicide, Don Hedeker have produced a rock-polka opera that is part Hair Spray, part Hair, part Tommy. Lil Wally is polkas own Jerry Lee Lewis.

The dead live on through their art – this is a cliché you don’t even want to hear but when I listen to these three [very] different artists I definitely get the sense that immortality is in part defined by documentation and the ability of that documentation to illuminate our own lives.

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