There comes a time in everyone's life when they
have to choose:
Your favorite CD's
I've had to ask myself this question several
times in my 25 years, although the dinner part would often alternate
with rent, bus passes and tampons. In 1997, after a particularly
confusing break up, I decided I could never again live with another
human being, and therefore, commenced to paying double my rent
on this shitty one bedroom apartment in the Tenderloin district
of San Francisco.
It was a rough time, fending on only Top Ramen
and tunafish for days on end, handing my whole paycheck over to
The Man like it had never even graced my fingertips. Often at
times, I would take a dusty little crate from my closet, sit outside
on the corner alongside the rest of the career addicts, look heavenwards
Luckily one day--as I was preparing to marinate
my own hand for supper--God decided to spare me. He/She/It looked
down on my poor ass and said:
"Ye shall fret no more my child
Ye shall pack all of your CD's up in a little garbage bag
Yes! Even G Love and Special Sauce
and ye shall take them down to Streetlight Records and sell them
to the highest bidder
and with this gold ye will eat for days and days!
Wake up my child!
And so I did. I woke up to the wealth lying in my CD collection.
However, there are two CD's I own that I never
allowed to leave the apartment, no matter how hungry I got, or
how many times I tried to chew the jewel case. As a creative writer,
I've collected my share of spoken word albums, but these gems
are my prizes, headlining my collection to this day:
the latest album from the Bay Area's Beth Lisick Ordeal is like
listening to Parker Posey if she were William Foster in Falling
Down. Backed by The Ordeal (George Cremaschi on contrabass and
Andrew Borger on drums and samples), Lisick spits the perfect
example of your typical spoken word poet; sardonic, self-exploiting
and emotionally unavailable. Gems like Weekend Warrior, Nancy
Druid and Hit and Run spin the tales of urban suburban transplants...people
like myself who grew up with penny loafers and decided to trade
them in for a lip ring. Bus Ride of Diminishing Returns features
an all too familiar midnight ride on the #22 Fillmore, a San Francisco
bus line famous for it's out-patient-clinic-on wheels-like qualities.
Lisick has the uncanny gift(?) of telling you the gut truth about
yourself, especially if you don't want to hear it. Which can help
when you're hungry and mending a bruised heart.
bought Don Byron's Nu Blaxpoloitation (featuring Sadiq Bey and
Existential Dred) because someday I am going to bear his children,
and it will be nice to have something to listen to until then.
Actually, I bought the album at the prompting
of a lawyer friend who moonlighted as a clarinet player. He told
me it was the best purchase he'd ever made, but he couldn't explain
the album in any way. Nu Blaxploitation can never be an intentional
purchase, because you have no idea what you're in store for. Schizo
Jam (featuring Biz Markie) is worth the price of the whole CD
alone, but it's subtle, political songs like Dodi and Furman that
really make you commit to this artist. Byron is a jazz experimentalist,
and his foray into political content (his former albums highlighted
klezmer and Afro-Latin swing) is refreshing and addictive.
Personally, I loved the interludes between songs
the most, beginning with Domino Theories Part I, where-over a
casual game-Byron and Bey one up each other on their many bouts
with racism. These discussions are the real clues to the mental
genius of Don Byron, even more than his musicianship, his voice,
his lips, his hands, his eyes
Anyway, you may want to check out these artists
sometime, if only to get the full experience of being a starving
artist on Turk Street. But, I'm warning you: if you ever get hungry
enough to hock them for Taco Bell Bean Burrito, call me first.
I'll talk you through it.---dw