Der Parkbank Pinkler Kapitel VII: Projektionen & Projektile

“It’s a sweet little flyover”
Jayne Mansfield

Eine Kinderschaukel, zwei Geschwister. Auf jeweiligen Bretter schießen sie in die Höhe hin und her. Ein Ball, ein Junge. Dieser schießt jener an der Mutti vorbei. Ein Hund, kein Halter. Das Erstere scheißt auf den Spätsommer getrockneten Rasen. Ein Beobachter, zwei Augen. In den Letzteren sind alle glücklich bis auf den nicht spürbaren Hundebesitzer. Um die überfüllten Mülleimer häufen sich die Abfälle von denen, die auch sonst nicht zu sehen sind.

Ins All geschossen, aus dem selben wird geschossen auf die Erde hinab, grob fern gesehen und bedient, profilgezielt und gesteuert, gewiss was die da drüben machen, was die da nicht lieben. Wovor sie Angst haben glauben sie noch nicht. Oder doch.

Sie glauben automatisch alles, was sich nicht nicht zu glauben getraut wird. Vor einigen Jahren, bevor man die Ferngespräche aus der Hand bis ins Ohr hinleitete, glaubten alle, umsichtig und genervt von den Selbstgespräch führenden Verrückten zu sein. Nun sind sie nur genervt, meinen die Anderen sollten ihren Drahtlosen irgendwo anders machen und dann tippen sie ohne jegliches Ichbewusstsein eine Beliebige an, erzählen von der daneben sitzender Nervensägen, die sie gerade ertragen müssen.

Die Masten wissen was sie anrichten. Dafür gibt es Regeln aus der Wissenschaft. Die Menschheit will da nur, nach der Forschung Attributen zuschreiben, aber die Eigenschaften werden sie nie genauer anerkennen. Sie glauben entweder an den freien Wille der Überaffen als exklusiven Naturrecht, oder kontern, dass es gar keinen Willen gibt.

Aber wer sind diese Beobachter und wer betrachtet das alles hin, und wohin überhaupt mit dem Icherzähler? Einige sind schon lange tot. Kiek ma, wie sie im Sekundentakt die Schwelle überschreiten.

Kapitel VI << >> Kapitel ??
Under the Overpass, Hammersmith-London – 2014

Tag der Einheitlichkeit

Hover your cursor over the image for my English translation.
Seuch’ ein Vogel/Such a Dirty Bird :: Breite Straße 32, Berlin-Mitte – 2014

A note on the title for the less initiated: Tag der Deutschen Einheit is the Day of German Unity representing the anniversary of German reunification in 1990.

Einheitlichkeit means uniformity or homogeneity. My choice of wordplay represents the fusing of hard & soft quasi-representative Authority into an incomprehensibly comprehensible middle ground, largely negotiated by middle management, more cruel abroad, for sure, yet still quite as deadly as it ever was.


A collection for your Sundae Edition, but first, credit where it’s due: BLCKDGRD inspires the portmantitle above, and several of the phrases that occur herein (or at least an “also too” or two).

I ain’ gonna lie. I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for triggers in me sub-thoughtfully deeming it more valuable than a simple purge of verbilirubin, or were it never or sometimes or always more or less the introspectatorily abeit yon- Blegsylvaniatic.

With that out of the way…

From the gaze dept:
Since I became aware that The Don’t Be Evil Corporation had enabled the bloggerblogger to see popular “published posts” without the use of one of the various outside “who reads this shit” applications, I have taken occasional notice. I recall the excitement I felt when someone from Russia had read one of my entries. And then China. And then Indonesia. It didn’t take me too long to realize, that not only did I not have readership in any of those countries, not only was there not a massive contingent of dissidents using Tor to anonymize their browzery so’st to read my cohab-dissension from the relative safety of their commune in Idaho, at least ten percent of the clicks that load one of these pages is prompted by robots.

No, not the robots that lead people to believe that using a router developed by the military is a surefire way to stay ahead of the international feds, but little bots that just be doin’ shit… for any number of reasons not worth considering.

Them aside, I do have surmising number of readers, many of whom just happen on-by based on searches that lead to one of my titles, like, say, STORM BLASTS LAND, which was, yes, written in all caps to accentuate the satiric pun and is my most clicked entry. My second most read – and this one likely a more accurate assessment of reality – comes via a link that adorns the top of The Crow’s Eye

This is where Jack Crow has no longer been active for far too long, but whose “worth your while” column nevertheless leads people even to my latest entries significantly often. Which goes to show, Jack, if you’re reading, people e-check in on you regularly.

What prompted this gaze, aside from the real of the virtual in my sidebar, is that amongst the most clicked includes a few reviews I’ve written – like, actual reviews of things I attended, watched, listened to, and/or read – more specifically, the recency and how fast they trended toward the top.

I’ve oft imagined these & those, & myself to a certain extent, to be amidst the artistic of the outsider kind. Some less outside than others. Clearly. For example, my review of Jacob Bacharach’s first novel, written only five months ago, has recently past last year’s review of the final episode of Breaking Bad.

This is remarkable in that the latter has enough of the real title in tact to generate no shortage of searcher’s curiosity and ‘bot-ism from far away rogue rands. More remarkable to me, however – and, to be honest, prolly the real reason I’m writing this – is that my recollection of The Kate in Me and the Before the Dawn show I attended this month is such a bullet that it knocked that little teevee show out of the top ten and is likely to sit at number 1 before Jake gets anywhere near The Devil and [née] Bradley Manning.

Thankfully, the barely late but greatly great Fred Burkhart continues to generate interest and, I hope, generates inspiration for generations to come, not just at the foot of his earthy departure.

This is his photo of Eno.

I have two Fred originals & think he’s the best “outsider photog” to have gone going (that is, to’ve been going) or to have graced this globus & those of us on it with a place, or inspired us to think of this place, whatever it is, as a home away from it.


From the Ghazi dept:
The meme that ostensibly stems from certain wingnutters’ blaming the president for things so absurdly out of his control goes thus: “Thanks Obama.”

It’s true that there exist in the United States people & folks who find the current president’s actions insufficiently wingnutty regardless of how wingnutty they are or aren’t, and in spite of the fact that they might have found them sufficiently wingnutty if someone they thunk was more like themselves were in the offices doing the deciderery.

But here’s the thing: There exist plenty of people & folks in the US who fancy themselves superior to the wingnutters, also, too, who would believe the current president’s actions to be way too wingnutty if there were someone they thought less like themselves in the office doing the deciderery.

The “Thanks Obama” meme is more attributable to the Obamapogists than the imputed wingnutters for it serves to accept with a condescending chuckle anything he or his administration does, because whatever the “wingnuts at FOX” are all apoplectic about must be noise about nothing. But the distracting noise has accomplished just that. Maybe I’m giving the Obamapologists to much credit here, in that they’d distract themselves from their dissonance just fine without the wingnuts. But still.

So this Sundae link is a perfect excuse to go straight to the comments section, because that is seriously where it is at. A story that clearly illustrates the lie that military action will in any way curtail the killing of activists or the motivation thereof, and most of the takeaway is “Thanks Obama!” versus “Well, you blamed Bush!” versus “If it weren’t for Bush we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

You see, the “Thanks Obama” people & folks, and the “”Thanks Obama”” people & folks are exactly the same amount of right & wrong about themselves & each other.

This kind of thinking, womyns & myns, is what will continue to give the world the worst/best president ever every four-to-eight years. Not that it matters. But still. If we’re judging that Iraq is a disaster because of the previous or any previous prez, then Libya is the same because of the current one.

But they are all a disaster because of all of the above and more. Moreover, there was, and probably is still, plenty of “there” there in re: BENGHAZI!!11, not because of, but in spite of FOX News apoplecti-sourcery.

One additional tidbit I cannot resist commenting on is from an insider artist whose made at least one movie I like. In his Huffpost about the ridiculousness of TV warfare, Barry Levinson compares not the joints chiefs or the Pentagram or any of the odd elements therein to the caricatures in Stanley Kubrick’s most famous film; at least it’s not that clear a comparison, as far as I can tell.

He rightly points to the overblown insanity in the media’s enthusiastic reporting of every avowed huge-threat to the world’s biggest war machine. But amid his admission that this self-perpetuating monster will never end, a transference takes place:

At some point the beheadings will lose their impact, as disgusting as that sounds, and will be replaced by something even more vile and disgusting.

You see, the new Dr. Strangelove is not the offspring of US assimilated Nazis that perfectly represents the Western psyche still today; the new Dr. Strangelove is not the Saudi enabling freaks of American bank- & bunksterism who continue to create the new enemies. No, the new Dr. Strangelove, if I read Levinson correctly, is ISIS.

The diff may be nominal only, but still.


Finally, from the 1% free of argh dept:

This month’s calendar comparison, via hover-linking:

Rigaer/Liebig Straße, Berlin-Friedrichshain – 1905/2014

Change has come and changes come, but squatting will never go out of style.

Depend Ants

To daze online media surrounds the Scots in the pen dance, with imagery, images, post-analytical slogans and the like. We begin with…

All that Jazeera

The Yes’ers No, Sir said the Beeb be biased.

But so is everyone. There is something ominous about the mantra “No to independence”, hence the title of this entry.

While the Guardian scrolls abundance…

…you can hover on this one to see a contrast of reaction…

…and All that PrintiN’ to fYT will not be outdone…

…capturing at least one moment of despondence…

…among shiny happy people & smiling pretty girls with flags.

…the press in general angles the celebration. What do you reckon the old grey lady has on her print edition?

Being Independent, and in on the action…

…or in LA, where by default they’re always a day behind…

…with that lovely weather.

What does it tell you that the same photos get circulated from outlet to outlet?

We wouldn’t be online without AriannaOnLine, who get the America’s two languages of the rejection correct.  (hover)

Is that “Bueno” o “No es bueno”, AOL? Tell us, because we need to know.

Neighbors to the north have independence concerns in spades.

They get the “Democracy is Awesome” version.

I tucked Germany behind Japan because only two people ever read Huff Po Deutschland…  (hover)

…which could be roughly translated to “Blow it out your ass.”

In case you’re wondering, the line at the top of the Japanese version means ‘September 19, 2014 in the US and in the UK ’19 September 2014′.

Le Huff provides the most, both for my hover-image purposes, and the interpretation of text with picture…  (hover)

…a French twist on a Brit paint job and dependent dissension all-in-one. Wait? “disent” means “say”? So I guess the mantra here is no different.

Leave it to the e-boulevard Bild to give us blonde on Blondine action.

Nobody does it better than the ‘bloids. Not in that they feature up front what most others don’t, but because they keep consumers who look down their noses at them feeling justified in their superiority…

…and what they see as their superior taste in media, and superior politics, and superior attitude while looking down their noses at others, this time, ironically, being in declared majority of those paying attention.

And that apparently is all you need to celebrate.

Everyone has a clueless opinion about what is none of their business & no opinion about what is their business because their told what is & isn’t their business day-in & day-out in as superficial a fashion as is all the rage. Under such conditioning, you would expect anyone to choose dependence… even when they don’t.

What is What

One side’s alleged lament goes that Cheney and his comrades fucked up Iraq, therefore America has a moral obligation to help fix it. The problem with this thinking is that one must assume that, whoever “America” is, they have any intention of fixing whatever “it” is.

One can avoid acknowledging fault in accepting fallacious assertions at face-value by finding the most absurd version of the same lie. This makes the equation so small that the equals sign appears to be something other than what it is, which is an “is”.  But the solution to a problem based on a lie, no matter how small the lie, is not an “is”. As a matter of fact, it is always an “is not”.

Most people are birthed on this earth to dedicate their entire lives believing what they are told even when they don’t. So even when they don’t believe that a mission is protective or humanitarian, they think that by carrying out military operations at the behest of whatever other interests, to put it nicely, a positive end can be achieved as a side-effect. Like, “Yes it is this, but it is also that.”

Plugging that in, you get on one side putative representatives of the people in politics and media aligning themselves with those who stand to profit from a “four corners of the globe seek & destroy mission”, an equals sign in the middle, and “less of these scary bad guys” on the right. Even the smallest version of this lie is so fucking huge that there are people who don’t believe it who will nevertheless give those telling it the benefit of the doubt.

This kind of logic is subsidized by the constant threatening presentation of a somehow always new and growing most-evil-army-ever, coupled with mild media skepticism of tactics and/or strategy to make it look like a discussion is taking place. The most passive side-effect to result is “we cannot do nothing”. Quite a convenient conclusion that. At the end of the day it means “better anyone else but me” and all hands are washed of fact that the faultiness of the equation is deliberate, because the whole problem is an outright lie worthy of no doubt and no benefit thereof.

You’ll hear the occasional talk of how bombing only grows the army bigger, even how the controlled chaos for perpetual war is the goal, but you never hear about how growing the biggest armies is precisely the project, only that they were grown, and how dumb we are in making the same mistakes again and again.

Words apparently matter. They give comfort to believer and non-believer alike. As long as we can parse just one actual notion out of the entire book of lies, their power will not have been diminished.


You didn’t have to be a hardcore supporter of Bill Jeff XDII during the Great Starr Fishing Tripp to know that is’ connotation – that is, the potential variant meaning of “is” – can be technically germane to a matter under discussion. Depending on what it is, of course. And then there’s the heart of the matter, without which there wouldn’t even be a question.

What is it? What is is? What is what?

Watching Bill Jeff XDII’s testimony in context, you witness a witness who, in basing his truth upon temporal reflection, swings emotionally from discomfort with the discussion to pride at his own grammatical gymnastics. It is a remarkable thing to observe. On a personal level, such verbal dexterity matters. Clearly no liar cares about authenticity, but the appearance of it is crucial. Still, it takes a special brand of narcissist to be proud of his dishonesty.

It’s become more and more clear that the order of military action necessitates no nod from the public. It is more plausible consent than actual consent requiring only their money and ignorantly raised children.

Can plausible consent be withdrawn? This endless exercise is like an experiment to see how few would be willing to cast all these simplest explanations aside and call out the lie for all its inglory, no matter who is telling it.

If anything at all, that’s where the dissent should begin. Don’t call it the truth just because more people are dying, or say there must be some truth to it because you cannot otherwise reconcile being wholly powerless to do anything about it. The least you can do is call it what it is.

Otherwise, it is what it was and will forever be.


D’you know what? I love you better now.

It takes effort to explain the adolescent passion effused by the enchanted Kate Bush enthusiast at the mere promise of being in the presence of her expected bewitching majesty, let alone communicate a review of what it was like to have been there, to get to see her feet planted firmly doing what I’d theretofore only imagined she’d do best if she did, along with the rest of her bests. Then she goes on and does it.

Therein lies my appraisal’s paradox: A pure description of this extraordinary happening can only be done in the fashion with which she and her collective achieved it.

As she alternately belted out and whispered her words and their notes or sauntered about the stage warbling and humming more notes and their connotations – previously only known as they’d come crafted and honed, sometimes for several years at a time, now reworked in service of a more specific theatrical interpretation while at once remaining true-to-life in performance as originally inspired – I was reminded of the most remarkable thing about the whole endeavour:  She is human.  Which is what I am.  I am one of those, which seems unfathomable. Graciously, she lends consistent reminders of this shared humanity between the lines, crosses, and curves that sometimes stun.

That may sound like an absurd way to say that her performance was life-affirming, but it’s not just that. It’s that after decades of listening to her painstakingly recorded compositions, now hearing her voice live, even as powerful as it remains, really brought it down to earth. Extraterrestrial she will always be, but so incredibly human.

There is this impression I have had of her over the years that came exclusively from the records because I didn’t know anything else. Many of her lyrics have rung straight to the core of my person; I’ve often idealized that she felt the way I did; she was relating to me personally, not the other way around. It creates the effect that her greatest talent comes from some ineffable elsewhere instead of her simply being in tune with what resonates uniquely with this odd subset of followers. With the penultimate song of the evening, she rang me up again, this time live, alone at the piano as we, several hundred, sat spellbound. It was abundantly apparent that I wasn’t the only one who’d felt it.

To be embarrassingly honest in the hopes of not belaboring a point, or maybe just finally getting to it, I long fancied that if she were depressed like me, that I’d be less pathetic. 

These are not unusual thoughts to occur to an admirer of any number of musicians, but when you talk to Kate Bush fans across the spectrum, they all mention the profound universality of her poetry. She is able to capture complexity simply, or sing the otherworldly as commonplace and vice-versa. And the way she’s owned each of the characters on all the albums would lead one to assume that she is each and every one of them. Of course, in a sense, she is, as we all are, for that is what this art is about. But she draws on a lot of sources for her inspiration, and it’s how she makes them invisible in renewal that creates the honest illusion that no one had ever sung this song before or has since.

An occasional lyrical re-visitation of hers is something quite commonplace in folk and popular music: appreciating love for all its worth or suffering the devastation for not having done so; or dealing with the infectious turmoil of contradictory impulses like reaching out vs. shying away. But she really nails it right down to the heartstrings, often quite twisted, spinning schmaltz into sophistication by connecting the innermost to the world outside with the utmost brevity of gorgeous, ambiguous precision, leaving loads to interpretation.

Now it’s not just the recording of carefully crafted phrases that – these thirty-five years of laying it strictly on the record – she’s communicated to the each & every, as if leaving a private message. Now it’s in person. That seemingly everyone in the room was taking her call, and collect, showed we were as happy for her as we were for ourselves at having gone through whatever to actually get to the gig. The musician Anna Calvi put it perfectly when she recently talked with the Beeb about how everyone was rooting for her. You could feel it.

I don’t really know why, but I always had the impression that she’d be as kind a human as you’d meet and, man, did that come across on the night. Not just her genuinely grateful and humble response to the cheerful applause, it was also the way she carried herself in the performance: how she smiled and swayed to the grooves she had arranged without the slightest hint of pride; the words she used to heap praise on the band and the creative way she went about it; all the way to the end, when she wished us all safe trips home, her way of politely letting us know that it really was the last song of the night and that she really cherished that we’d come so far. I don’t know any less cheesy a way to put it than to say that she exudes sweetness through and through.

It’s been said that she’s so humble that it makes her seem oblivious to her talent. Some would chalk something like that up to feigned modesty, but I think she believes that the exemplary results she achieves are down to good fortune, which might be partly correct. I choose to give her full credit nevertheless. If it’s luck, she’s made good on it. This human has earned those wings. Ultimately, as far as I can tell, she is the one doing the delivery.

So that’s Level 1, and the most important one: She could not have delivered the music any better than she did. It was pitch perfect in tone, attitude, and emotion.

But at six songs in, we hadn’t reached the theatre just yet.

Giving moments back

If you’ve read reviews of the Before the Dawn performances, you have an idea that an awful lot went into creating the overall spectacle. Obviously you’d need to witness it yourself to truly relate, but to get this show and its reception, you’d have to receive it in context; if you don’t know this woman’s work, it’s at best spectacular bells & whistles with the occasional unusually pretty melody thrown in.

Having said that, there is something you can get either way, but it requires giving yourself over completely to the possible transcendence of a live performance, which necessitates the respectful receptiveness of your surroundings, and the relaxed raptness of your person.

As life has become so distracting, many people don’t understand this kind of submission. The short attention span brought on by the golden age of television is but a shrinking blip amidst the growing influence of documenting everything all the time while paying barely any attention to it. Now that we can share whatsoever instantaneously, the first thing out the window is the ability to tell what’s worthy of being shared, which includes recognizing that moment that is for you, now.

Odd that a world in which people spend most idle moments tending to mobile fidgetry more closely resembles the dystopian depiction of zombified masses staring blankly into space than does staring blankly into space. I’ve witnessed both and know the difference. If I stepped onto a train and everyone was just looking straight ahead, I’d feel a great sense of relief.

These 21st century-fangled idle moments are space invading, for it is no longer that people are getting things done where they might’ve been just sitting around; this tasking has become finding things to occupy oneself with, in turn so compulsive, it’s taking over other moments that used to require special focus and translating them to meaningless downtime.

As I tried to descend the stairs to the tube to Hammersmith, I was greeted by the primate version of bats swarming from an alcove at dusk’s conclusion. I’d seen some pretty crazy shit at rush hour when I lived in Chicago (Berlin being barely better) but never as extreme. Once on the train, however, it was pretty typical of how I remember any rush hour: the default arrangement, a molestation of whoever your standing next to; jockeying for exit position one station ahead of time lest you miss your stop; climbing out stinking like an animal even though you’d showered within the hour. Passengers still managing to finger their tiny screens in all that chaos, and who were therewith genuinely trying to get work done, represent consummately the tragicomedy of the tech industry’s promise to make life easier.

It is still possible to shut that shit off and pay attention to what is going on in front of you, which is essentially what Kate was suggesting one week prior to the debut of the run when she expressed how much it would mean to her if the show were free of cameras of any kind. For most of her fans this was an unnecessary request, as it so turned out, and most of the on-line response was supportive, but there were still those few cynics who expressed the belief that her motivation was crassly commercial. My guess is that such do not believe in the utterly transformative power of the unified collective experience, save for mass starvation, circle jerks, and the hundred iPhone salute.

Even so, you might find yourself thinking “Jesus, dude, it’s no big deal! If you’re so enraptured by the concert, how is my taking a memento or two going to distract you from it?”

Symptoms meet the disease.

But with these words I, too, get easily distracted, for this was not a problem in the least at the show. And I don’t mean to place myself above the fray; I do understand that even someone whose intention was to refrain might anyway be overcome by the compulsion to sneak one particular moment artificially forever. We are buried in our current culture and are not going back just yet, at least not in that sense. But for those familiar with the Kids in the Hall “crushing your head” sketches, keep in mind that a smartphone in front of me would have been both bigger and smaller than what I was trying to focus on.

Fortunately, the pre-show reminder reiterating the artist’s polite request in slightly more absolute terms may have been the pre-emptive shaming necessary for anyone unable to resist the residual impulse in spite of themselves. If there was a lighted mobile device in the room, I didn’t see it.

With the description of that pleasant outcome out of the way, the stage is set for the song-suites, which comprised the vast majority of the show both in time and theatrical expense, my recollection of which here now contains spoilers aplenty, ameliorated, I’d like to think, by my allusive approach.


To survive or not to survive?

The Ninth Wave is the concept side of 1985′s Hounds of Love. Here it is presented via two corresponding forms of media:

One medium depicts what is really happening: Our life-jacketed protagonist stranded upon a vast expanse of water, face to the dark sky. I find Kate’s performance at once effectively agora- & claustrophobic, the vocals accomplished under extreme circumstances. How? I have no idea.

The other medium represents the coping stream of conscious & unconscious thought scattered over the course of the first medium’s depiction of the steady threat of the loneliest death in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sea.

As on the album, this human struggle plunges into the grim longing to let go And Dream of Sheep and takes on various phantasmagorical forms until The Morning Fog.

In between, it doesn’t skip a bit: feeling suffocated Under Ice; persecuted upon life’s little memories Waking the Witch; forced to endure Watching You Without Me, dis-communicably in the alienating presence of loved ones; confronted with a future self’s Jig of Life, during which poet John Carder Bush’s new reading is relevant and powerful in a way I never knew.

Each wave bigger than the last

I figured Hello Earth might be a fave; it gets to me with the emotional sound of the phrasing of syllables as much as with the lyrics digested in toto. I hadn’t thought of it as a part of the whole before, but, then again, the journey was never quite like this. It steals my breath as the Irish would say, literally. It turns wondrous and terrifying. Kate’s portrayal is heart-wrenching and the set design is clever madness. The staging shows something way beyond what I ever thought it was supposed to be, not that I could explain it to you now. Still, Kate cries out from between the lines with an intensity unmatched in theater or song that I have seen, which is probably why it ends up, indeed, topping the rest until…

…we arrive at another art of climax with the conclusion’s comedown. But I guess you might say the denouement does what it’s supposed to by changing my goosebumps.

B E G I N   S P E C I F I C   S P O I L E R

Ushering in the The Morning Fog, the entire band steps forward away from their stations, each with his or her acoustic instrument in hand or over the shoulder. I’ve seen others do this before and, indeed, one of the band were in the other group that did it.

E N D   S P E C I F I C   S P O I L E R

But the singer and the song make all the difference in the world. And the circumstances (my being there). I’ll get back to this one later when I wrap this up.

After this intense opera and the enormous response to it – which, with the opening mini-concert that preceded it, was an hour-and-a-half give or take nothing – Kate gushes as if we were the ones who played for her. I do believe she is grateful to us for more than our thunder: It feels good all around when we are unequivocally available to one another. A lesson I’m still learning.

King of the mountain, yeah.

So she informs us – in the way of a kindly bashful grammar school teacher whose class has just completed the first act of the school play – that there would be an intermission of about twenty to twenty-five minutes to rest up a bit after which they’d be back to play more music. It’s these glimpses of innocence amidst brilliance that, for me, elevate her to the crown.

This’d be a good point to tout the band’s versatility, including the chorus’ performances in & out of creepy fish and bird costumes and how utilitarian they were, carting unwieldy things about while keeping their vocal parts true to the music.

And for all of the moving set pieces and detailed workings of the effects presented on-stage, professionals familiar with the art were required in no small number, though thanks to their being dwarfed by the immensity of what they were manipulating, they never intruded on the fantasy.

And, sorry, I cannot help but mention Kate’s doing the “whoops” in the song (as if not naming it avoids spoiling it) that I’d always assumed were from some weird instrument played by her brother Paddy. Her present take displays a mastery of juggling vocals in odd time along with the more recently re-acquired physical stage movement.


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Not being a drinker meant I pee’d during the interval,

but not because I had the overwhelming urge.

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Lovely Bertie

By her own account, this return to the stage would not have happened were it not for the urging of her son Albert. Given the integral part he played on Aerial, his being made prominent over this extended segment is essential, even if it were not to be in the flesh, and even if he hadn’t consulted on the show. Which he was, and he did. One might hint that he was the featured artist within. One’d have used a pun. Doubled?

I can imagine him doing well in theater, musical or not. It’s too soon to tell for sure from what we’ve witnessed so far, but with the right guidance, he can probably do whatever he wants. I’d like to think he hasn’t ruled out becoming a doctor like his grandfather, which reaped amazing results. Whatever he chooses (my god, he’s barely sixteen, for chrissakes) I am eternally grateful to him for making this happen.

Aerial (2005) was released twenty years after Hounds. It might confound some fans that the music that’s been played during this run, with the exception of one song from 50 Words for Snow, came exclusively from three albums bookended by these two.

What? Nothing from the first four!? Nothing from The Sensual World?!  In retrospect, I am a little surprised that I didn’t notice it at the time. It could be that giving over to the moment can protect you from disappointment, but I frankly didn’t care what she was gonna play. And once the show’s over, being disappointed by what I didn’t get to hear would be on the flimsy end of flakey.

In short: I think the choice of material is solid from beginning to end and see no reason to contrast how I’d feel hearing what I didn’t. If you asked, “Come on! You telling me you didn’t want to hear anything from The Dreaming or want her to play more solo piano pieces?”

Shush! It’s starting…

Just that something more

As in song-suite number one, A Sky of Honey is also the concept side of its album, this time the aforementioned Aerial. Its narrative is less dramatic, but also more bizarre, following an artist and a puppet and an assortment of birds and whatever else Kate surprises us with through a cycle of the sun and, in this case, the moon.

Prelude: LIGHTS, BIRDS, ACTION! We were in for another marvel, entirely different. The contrast is paradigm shifting, or maybe just pallet cleansing. It is an effective break, but this is an assured intro to ease us into something else. Here I refer mainly to the tableau, for thematically, there is, at least, an interesting transition from the end of the wave to the beginning of the sky.

So much goes on that I cannot be certain, but I think that the greater balance of effects in this half are done with Mark Henderson’s lighting design and impressive projections that are hard to give singular credit to, not to take away from the set- & costume-piece work that continue to astonish.

The beginning is innocent enough. As unsettling as the beauty of the previous one was, the beauty of this one is pure. Where the light from the first was dark, here it is vibrant bright going down to deep shades of deeper color.

And the music just swims.

For you who have seen the official photo of Kate at the piano, it is from Prologue, number two of this side. Getting to see & hear her play this is priceless.

Relative to that, I’d like to mention something about the proximity to the stage of one’s seat at a venue. It’s true you want to be able to observe the fingers on the board, or the creases of facial expression. To see the artist breathing out and breathing in. To catch that twinkle in the eye. More important, in spite of all that, is the sound.

Especially in a theatre like this one, there is a sweet spot, usually fairly central, within which one can be enveloped in the power of the perfect mix, assuming there is one. Before the Dawn had a pretty perfect mix. Most crucially, Kate’s voice was as clear as I have ever heard a singer’s voice betwixt & between this kind of instrumentation, especially from the relative proximity of row Y, seat 5.

The thing is, being four seats from the outside aisle definitely kept me away from the sweet spot. And, I dunno, you know what? It might be a good thing that I was. Had I been dead center ten rows back during this Prologue, I’d’ve been reduced to goo never to return, like the snowman in that Mistraldespair animation.

Speaking of animation, in addition to serving as one of the chorus throughout the night, Bertie gets to do some pretty nifty tricks with this suite’s special representation of the sky. And then there’s the broader sky that he gets to dabble with later. He must be having a good time with this.

Up on the roof

There aren’t that many moments during Before the Dawn that lend themselves to physical audient interaction. Sunset has one of the bits that would get another venue to stand & shimmy, and I have no doubt that there will be subsequent performances where this is the case. If there were anything I might wish had been that wasn’t, it bears upon this.

We might have for example yelled in precise unison “…and sunset!”  in response to Kate’s call of “Oh sing of summer…” Not that the chorus weren’t doing an exemplary job of it, but I know the artist can get as much a kick out of this kind of thing as the audience does.

In fairness, I wasn’t leading the charge and people are afraid of those who do. Either afraid that they’ll, then, never stop, sit down, and shut up, or that the whole lot of us will screw up the show trying to sing our part ( el-oh-el ;-)

In spite of this cognitive-whiplash inducing nitpicking, however, A Sky of Honey is plenty uplifting throughout. My god, just naming the individual titles makes me long to go again. I mean, throw a dart at the album side and your likely to hit an moving epos of poetic concision all its own. As much as I was into what was being played, it’s a wonder I didn’t freak out knowing what was coming next.

And she just doesn’t let up. The final song, the title track to the album, rips with the combined power of everything that came before it. And the bird song imitation: just fucking perfect. I take it back; she’s not human.

Undoubtedly, the insane anthropomorphic costume and set design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel and Dick Bird, respectively, would seem to confirm that suspicion. And as I said before, everyone is playing their part. Musically, David Rhodes’ guitar really helps send this one over the edge. If not for Kate’s aw-shucksing at the conclusion, I might’ve thought they hadn’t come down. I know I haven’t quite yet.

For the sake of those who hope to enjoy what you believe might be the inevitable DVD (I wouldn’t be too sure), I’ll spare you the final image. In lieu of that, just this cliché, multi-tiered for the fan: Wow.

To be clear, that monosyllabic reaction includes a lot more than just the final image.


 Aren’t we all the same?

When you know there’s going to be an encore, you also know what’s coming. She emerges alone, crosses from stage left to right where the piano is, sits, and…

What’s it gonna be? You know it’s gonna be sooo good. No, not that one. She played that already.

We talk of art speaking to us, so it’s not out of line to say that a song speaks to us, accordingly, that a singer speaks to us. In this case, I feel complementary effects that lead me to a massive internalized gasp: First, as the piano begins, I feel like I am hearing this for the second or third time, as when I was just getting to know the album, then the vocal begins and for a flash… it’s like she actually says something directly to me… the sense of which gets a microsecond echo barely one time in my head while she completes the phrase with such careful focus and focused care. Gingerly specific gorgeous ambiguity.

The closest feeling I can use as a comparison is like how your name sounds in the belly of your brain when you get called on in class because it’s obvious you weren’t paying attention. In that I am paying attention, though, it’s not too much like that. Maybe it’s more like I can’t quite believe what I’ve just heard. I’m stunned to have been called out. In a daze. Before she’s done with the second line, I feel so exposed that I just about look around to see if everyone is staring at me.

The rest of the song continues to speak to me in the more general sense, as others have done, but it is the very first time for this one. It doesn’t make sense why that should be. Oh my god; it’s like she is calling me out for not having got this message before. And how she must feel singing this. Or having felt compelled to write it… and now singing it.

She pulls me in, deeper, right down to the final word when… as the last chord decays… she can’t resist breaking the tension by thanking us before it falls silent. After all she wrang out of us over the last few hours, could this woman still be so unsure? In and out of doubt, so incredibly human.

We’d’ve broken the tension for you, Kate. We just needed a second.

Anyone reading this far who is also familiar with her entire catalog might think they’d be disappointed that this song was the only one she played from the latest album. But if you were there, and, without leaving the piano, she came up and tapped you on your shoulder and whispered in your ear, you wouldn’t give a fuck if she were farting Yankee Doodle Lionheart in total disrespect to her earlier magnificence.

My point being: Were I, for example, given the silly authority to choose what gets played, I wouldn’t have had this experience – not to mention I couldn’t have settled on a decision. Surely we trust our favorite artists to create their own work; we should trust them to know what to present. Her choice here was inspired and gutsy beyond what one might fully be able to appreciate. So sublime.

I hid my yo-yo

Drummer Omar Hakim starts the last song in a “seems like an obvious choice but only once you hear him doing it” way, though I dare-say that a plurality of the audience doesn’t know what is coming. If I may, it’s the drum pattern that normally only climaxes at the end, when this time the audience, indeed, shows Kate and her supporting chorus what we’re capable of. A touching touch to an evening this verbal attribution is probably unworthy of.

But this is more than an evening, or a residence of a couple few weeks. I need to return to The Morning Fog to put my best spin on this, to try to justify writing about it in the first place.

I have been given so much from this music over what now amounts to well over the majority of my lifetime. If many of the songs themselves have made my eyes wet, or I’ve wept harder in despair because of whatever I was going through at the time, it made me want to persevere long enough to hear more, if nothing else.

I can’t know if Kate Bush has ever felt exactly the way I have when I am at my lowest, or thought precisely the way I do in whatever state I’m in. I only know we’re both human.

I also know that after a period of well over half her lifetime she was encouraged to play out again by her son, to whom she all but dedicated an album that had taken twice his contemporaneous age when it was finally released. You know what?  It is better for it.

Thirty-five years ago, before I knew who she was, she had just concluded a rewarding but stressful period of production, both in the studio and on the stage, that evidently persuaded her not to continue in the same vein. This was no absence. She still lived half-a-lifetime working more or less during any given period, dedicating her artistic energy to composing better work with each of her albums and made more people happy along the way than any president, prime minister, or priest.

Like all humans, she went to sleep and awoke and in between made decisions and traveled roads both real and conceptual, but by all means personal – the decisions and roads rarely a straight line, and when the stages upon which she had danced and sang crumbled, she continued, and when new stages were built, she continued, and when paths crossed after for so long leading in divergent directions, the stage was still there. The extended time away from the stage was just a vacancy of one kind of thing. Obviously she hadn’t a need for that thing. And you know what?  She seems better for it.

I take her at her word when she sings that she loves us better now. This line rings as true as any other on a night whereupon she shares half her lifetime’s worth of moments compressed into a few hours, an eternity longer than the same few hours compressed to symbols representing running time.

One can only guess how much and to what extent these songs correspond in quality to her historical state of mind and how much and how far she has to go to cull them from her imagination. Wherever they come from, they’re a mirror to the human condition held up by one with the same.

What is this human condition? Why do some of us sink and some of us swim and some of us soar & sing until the sun goes down? How is it that there are those who relish and those who dread the light that breaks the morning fog?


The light

Begin to bleed,
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak.
D’you know what?
I love you better now.

I am falling
Like a stone,
Like a storm,
Being born again
Into the sweet morning fog.
D’you know what?
I love you better now.

I’m falling,
And I’d love to hold you know.
I’ll kiss the ground.
I’ll tell my mother,
I’ll tell my father,
I’ll tell my loved one,
I’ll tell my brothers
How much I love them.

The Morning Fog music & lyrics by Kate Bush

Biggest surprise: that King of the Mountain was so thrilling.

Biggest disappointment, but not really: that she was probably too nervous to wait until the cheers subsided so I could hear all of what she had to say between songs.

Favorite moment: Wow. (No, not the song. You didn’t skip to the bottom, did you? Write me and tell me if you did.)

This one goes to eleven: ✳✳✳✳✳✳✳✳✳✳✳

Back in Berlin

Ripe Summer Sunset o’er Warschauerstraße – 2014

RIP Fred Burkhart

Poet & performer, photographer & friend, a true artist and inspiration, Fred Burkhart has gone. This time for good. He gave me much, and his last words to me were graciously understanding and lovingly kind, when he responded to my email with:
“A beautiful letter. I will write more at another opportunity. Love is real, no matter the thousands of miles we are separated.”

Sadly, he never got that other opportunity. Bless you, Fred, wherever you may be.  I know your essence remains with each of us who hold you thus blessed, but it’s fully realized only as it could be known collectively just how much you’ll be missed.

As you concluded so many times, on patterning the nerve speech:

The Eternal as the Origin of Words – the Logos
Somehow tragically lassoed and waylaid
and reduced to the flesh of obscure places

Lost in a world of name-calling and retribution
Reduced forever more to a Date With Noah Webster

Words forever lost on eulogizing one another.