Everything Day Logs
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Curtis Mayfield is dead. And yet another of my nodes turns into an obit. I have few memories of the guy; my early-childhood listening was more about Top 40 WABC and the burgeoning freeform stations in New York - I remember the local soul station WWRL (I think it was) blaring from some of the houses, but it never became part of my own listening habits.

During the summer of the Apollo 11 landing, I spent a good deal of time with the North Carolina branch of the family, and The Impressions' old 45 of "Amen" was an oft-played one on the turntables of my aunt and uncle in Roseboro. But I didn't know that was Curtis.

I first saw him on The Midnight Special, around the time of Superfly; they'd pretty much given the show over to him that night. An old black guy with glasses and a scruffy beard, playing his guitar without a pick and in an unorthodox fashion. A weird falsetto voice - a cool weird. He'd written a "new theme song" for the show - a groovy ballad to "replace" the canned session player generica rock of the real theme, a theme that probably had Leadbelly cringing from the grave. Curtis' cool weird alternative theme made me happy to be a pre-adolescent insomniac.

But still, it was only years later that I would associate "Amen" and "Choice of Colors" and "People Get Ready" and "Keep On Pushin'" with that boho-looking Superfly singer. "So that was Curtis?" Yes it was. My old vinyl of "Future Shock", etc, are packed away, but it might be worth the effort to unpack 'em for a few minutes.

My greatest Curtis memory only has him on the periphery. The Jam, in the throes of breaking up, released an EP that included a cover of "Move On Up"; it quickly became my favorite song of the moment (and the horn arrangement is playing in my head as I write this). I was blindsided (wonderfully so) by the full-blown move to soul by the band, and the balls-out exuberance of the performance made me think that this is what it must have been like to have had a brand-spanking-new Impressions 45 in one's hands, back in the day. I'd play it, and raise a toast - real or imaginary, depending on the moment - to Curtis. And now that horn line is playing in my head for you, sir.

Move on up
towards your destination...

The day begins at 1 minute after midnight, where I have roused myself from four hours delayed digestive catatonia induced by the consumption of too much vegetarian dim sum some eight hours previously to be informed that if I want to get home from Happyfish's house tonight, the last Skytrain (like a subway, but lame) back into the city is running in a matter of minutes.

Shup shup shup is the sound of me skedaddling my ass out of there, trying to locate what direction the station is in (it's only a block away, but the fog obscures even that) - I get in and wait for 20 minutes for my train (to no avail - the click-and-squawk speaker informs me after that time that the last train left during my vaporous reorientation) so, a bit irritated (having been sitting still just long enough to cool off - there's no cloud cover, stars peeking through the fog, so it's quite chill) I trudge along the subway tracks to the next station where there's a bus exchange back to the big city, boarding shortly after I arrive, and, some quips on my hat from drunken suburban chicks nonwithstanding, I arrive at my house about 45 minutes later, ready to resume my sleep-digestion.

Instead, I find two roommates up and awake, one watching "a lame Michael Crichton movie adaptation" and the other preparing to go bowling (at, let me reiterate, 1 am) with someone he met on the IRC, who, it turns out, used to go to my high school and in fact worked on the school newspaper (The Ideograph, no less) under my steady editorship.

So I take a deep breath, get a sip of water and allow myself to be whisked away into the icky pooness which is the tangible manifestation of local cyberculture. Truth be known, non-stop sexual innuendo isn't so tedious, but you have to reach a certain stage of sleep-dep before it becomes actually enjoyable. "Get your hands off my balls, woman!" "I don't see why I should- you're only using one of them." "I alternate between them."

Let it be known here and now that, despite brushing up on Elf Bowling during the previous day's warez-orgy, I am an atrocious bowler.

Would you believe they actually had bowling shoes in size 15?

The insanity continued after the alley closed (a half hour after we got there - why we had to go to the far side of an adjoining suburb to bowl is as yet an unanswered question - in a concensus that the only thing to follow this Sunday morning nonsense would be food consumption, leading us on an epic tour of 24 hour restaurants terminating at Denny's, one with particular resonnance (both physical and chronological) for my roommate and I: circumstances under which we'd first met.

I proceed to order way too much food (under ordinary circumstances - plus I was still groggy from the digestion of the too much dim sum, recall) - the waiter actually asks me to reconsider my humongous order, straw-wrappers are blown at each other, syrup bottles talk to each other, breasts are rested on tables, feet are stomped, and all the usual nonsense is engaged in. A refreshing continuation of my societal reboot.

After I finish my banana split (and some radio-wrestling - "What do you mean they call it gay house?"), we are driven home where my roommate goes to sleep and I, groggy from digestion (and shreds of sleep-dep - only having caught naps in the previous days) decide that though I am up to rote formatting I'm not on a par with further non-chatboarder articulate interaction settle down on a roommate's computer (ah, glory!) to prepare and ultimately post several Stay As You Are nodes as well as looking at fixing up some older texts which I couldn't wangle properly in lynx.

Somehow this takes me out of dark and into light again, roommates squirming out of the woodwork and I take it upon myself to eat old newspapers (with my eyes, I disclaim) until I get tired (not just tired, but tired enough to sleep, a whole different beast), and somehow this takes until three or four in the afternoon, during which time a roommate announces that SAYA number 5 is coming out in a matter of weeks. The whole house rejoices.

I fall into a strange and squiggly sleep and am rudely awoken once, only half-remembered, by roommates barging in, peeling back my covers and putting a dinosaur stamp on my ankle. So goes life at the tabhouse. I am surprised to find the stamp mark existant when I wake.

In an attempt to wrestle with my sleep schedule (or lack thereof) I force myself to lie in bed, awake, lights out and eyes closed, from midnight to three am so as to begin engaging in activity cycles remotely approaching those of my peers and kin.

And that brings us into December 28, 1999...

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

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