Was up for a while around 4. Read my chunk of W&P, played a piano-orchestra piece by Vivian Fine on Spotify. Skimmed a pdf of a card magic book. Not sure when I got back to sleep; up for good at 9. Texted Jean for Tomeka’s info. Starting the day too late to grade, but did some course admin. Left room at noon. Listened to 1/2 of the Carla Bley best-of I bought yesterday walking around over the course of the day. Knox County Library book sale - came away w/ a book on symbolist poetics, one on “mathematical discourse,” and the hardcover of Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father (the same edition I remember from Upland Public Library growing up), + CDs of Poulenc and Samuel Taylor-Coleridge. $8. (No interesting vinyl, many discards of ’20-‘30s popular novels by utterly forgotten authors — I could imagine being interested, another time.) Bijou Theater, program of Joan LaBarbara, and then an ensemble of younger players, performing Alvin Lucier. I only grasp a little about this kind of work; it depends on slow shifts in pitch and timbre, and the effects of their interaction. Lucier took the stage at the end to perform “I Am Sitting in the Room,” the famous tape-decay piece that’s ground zero for one kind of post-Cagean line. Hearing an old man’s unsure voice (he has always had a stutter) disappear with repeated playbacks of the tape he’s just recorded gives the piece flesh, and a “literary” content about mortality that perhaps weren’t imagined in the original conception (like Ashbery’s interview line - “All that time I thought I was writing about nothing, I was writing about aging.”) He got a standing ovation (for sitting in a room!) Walked to the other end of downtown for Code Girl. I don’t know if Halvorson and co. will ever do another album in this song-based format, but it’s a very solid, memorable body of material; seemed like the improvises sections, esp. a drum/trumpet duo, have become longer and more dramatic since the Jazz Standard set I saw last year. Saw Gary Ostertag (who was at Carla Bley last week), Eric Weisbard, and Tomeka - met her boyfriend (who’s named David Brown, exactly like Jean’s husband). Took a break for a deli wrap, some mint chip ice-cream, and a coffee. Called my dad, and my aunt Rosalie (meaning to do that for a week or two). Walked to the museum (didn’t get quite as lost as yesterday afternoon, but had walked the wrong direction during phone calls) for panel w/ Mary H., Tomeka, and Larry Grenadier (Brad Meldhau’s bassist, whose recent ECM solo bass album I enjoyed). “Agreeable” conversation (as MH put it) on themes from Nate’s book, and some trio improv. Kind of a forced situation. Jean showed up just before the talk started - will presumably see her later this wknd. Tried to find a record store but the address in my app was wrong; it’s moved too far to walk. Went to one of the smaller/divier festival venues, Pilot Light, watched 1/2 a set by Sima Cunningham, a Chicago singer-songwriter w/ Tweedy ties. Hot and tired won out - came back to the room before 10. Read another chunk of the Rossouw book - a v. long documentary poem working off an inventory of Dutch slave holdings in early 18th c. South Africa (pre-apartheid per se). Author is the descendent of Huguenot immigrants “eager to benefit from slavery,” so it’s a work of historical guilt, which of course overlays present-day sections as well (“I stumble and pause/to remove my Adidas/as if I had the right/to even your blisters”). Also a good deal of apostrophe directed at a kind of idealized rebel figure, Lena van de Caab, extrapolated from the sketchy (decayed) historical records; she functions exactly like “Lucy” in the dance-theater piece I saw 2 nights ago. The poetry, in any case, is polyglot, fragmentary on the page in that Susan Howe working-w-documents manner, but oddly readable.
Knoxville, at least the part of it I’m seeing, is very New South — there are many bars, and it’s hard not to wonder where the broke part is. Speaking of historical guilt.