Up just before 8. Weight 216.3 (rolling 10-day average; not good, but 3 pounds down from where I was on returning from California 2 weeks ago).
Not a prose day, by design. Caught up on debate reax. Went to coffee, wrote in what I guess you’d call my poetry daybook. [Aim is to draft 1 p. min./day of something, though what this means will change w/ notebook size. Idea came up in mid-June after reading that the late Ted Greenwald, whom I’ve been reading, kept up some type of daily writing practice for 50 years. It’s not a ‘poetic diary,’ and a lot of it is dross; I have no interest in checking back to see what’s revisable for at least six month, possibly a year.) Read about 30 p. of Paul Vangelisti, Border Music. Except in a Cold War-themes prose section, tone is more stable than subject matter; easy to let lines slide by, necessary to recall that “content is a glimpse” (though I don’t think Paul thinks much of Ab Ex). Rested listing to Shostakovich, String Quartet #10, not that it’s restful. Coincidentally, Q2 (WQXR’s streaming modern/contemporary channel) is repeating its Shostakovich marathon from his 110th birthday a few days ago; had it on sporadically throughout day. (Regressive listening, no doubt.)
Worked on office/online tasks most of the afternoon; had a list to tick through, mainly related to the Human Hearts/Allen Callaci/St. Lenox show next Tuesday. A few sidetracked, but made a dent. Needn’t detail most of them but I did dig out some Refrigerator 7”s with non-CD songs we need to learn to back Allen up (“Sara 99,” “Junk”), and figured out the changes. Also located chart for the song I’m playing with Laura Cantrell on Friday. A few exchanges w/ Bree throughout the day, but we were mostly getting stuff done.
Left apt. around 6:15, went to Mid-Manhattan library to put a “dispute” on a book coming due that I feel sure I’ve returned, though I’ve been wrong (and have probably returned a NYPL book to the Queens system or vice versa at least once). Checked out Charles O. Hartman, Free Verse (I actually want his more recent Verse: An Introduction, which Marie Carvalho pointed out has an accurate discussion of the song form of “Ballad of a Thin Man,” but I’m curious about this; don’t know Hartman’s poetry); Ara Banias, Anybody; Joseph Massey, Illocality. Headed to Village Vanguard for Henry Threadgill & Zooid (first set). I don’t spend on jazz often, especially not alone, but I’ve been blowing off shows the last few weeks, have never heard Threadgill, and needed live music. Made some to-do notes for tomorrow waiting for the set; one Maker’s for my minimum. Same instrumentation and, presumably, band as his Pullitzer winner In For a Penny, In For a Pound, which I listened to part of on the way down (there’s been one since, not on sale at the show): flute/alto, tuba/trombone, cello (both doing some base duties), acoustic (but fairly loudly amplified) guitar, kit (drummer had AEC-type little instruments hanging around but didn’t seem to go to them much). The dynamic isn’t so much brittle as reticent, but it’s jazz, whatever else it is – there are heads (though often not until the middle or end of a piece), solos, and possibly changes (charts on the stand), though no comping (no piano). But I would not be able to tell you the forms, what other compositions constraints were in effect, or how tightly – though it does seem like Threadgill (who lays out a lot) prefers his players to work in fairly narrow melodic and dynamic ranges; not a lot of “lyricism,” though the guitarist was most inclined to play “in” and show off technique. (The cellist just used it.) Satisfying, though not as entertaining as Air Lore, which I listened to some of (a trio arrangement of Joplin’s “The Ragtime Dance”) on the way home.
Read, on various trains, 50 p. quota of David Jasen and Gene Jones, Spreadin’ Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters 1880-1830. Mainly the sections on Will Marion Cook, Bert Williams, Cecil Mack and some other early black Tin Pan Alley publishers. The book is more about publishing/production/performance history than detailed musical readings of the songs, though the comments they do make (on music I know) aren’t inaccurate. They don’t discuss form; there are quite probably some hidden 16- or 32-bar AABA choruses in there between 1910-1914, but I’d need the song sheets to know. Some very useful pages on what a standard songwriter’s contract looked like around the birth of ASCAP, but I’m not sure what their source is. Glanced at Hartman, Banias. Home at about 11:45 Dithered online and wrote this at Shostakovich stream (the deadly 15th quartet), read most of Martin Plietz’ hard-nosed response to the Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne’s position on preventing and curing homosexuality until my wifi inexplicably went out.
Lights out 1:15 a.m.
[To clarify the ground rules, lower expectations, and give myself permission to do as I please: unlike poetry, songwriting, or considered critical prose, these entries are not a “writing project” or even a “practice.” The main point is to keep a record of first reactions to reading/listening/shows/movies etc., and to make public, in what may often be a dull and quotidian way, some of what happens behind and around the activities that lead to “works” (and performances). Since I’m trying to finish a book and an album in 2017 and then see them into the world, someone might find this interesting to follow – and possibly heartening, insofar as there will be as much wasted time (and delays and false starts) as inspiration and cosmopolitan eventfulness on the way. Things likely to be left out, unless they aren’t: eating, earning, the domestic economy, and too much bitching and moaning, though I’m sure trends in mood and affect will become apparent. I have done this for a few stretches on a disused social media platform over the last 2 years; sometimes it continues daily for months and resumes after a gap of similar lengths.]