New Year's Revolutions

New Years is here and the time is right for violent resolutions. So let it be resolved that henceforth and hereon I shall update you more regularly on the goings on in Jew Punk land – even when these aren't necessarily Jewish or Punk in nature.

On that note, let me tell you about a recent gig in which I took part that had as much to do with insomnia – and my new book AWAKE! A Reader for the Sleepless – as it did with PunkyJewsters like yourselves.

This event was a bit of a last minute affair, at least for me, but I’m happier than someone pleased-as-punch that I took part. It took place at Atwood’s Tavern, a wonderful mostly-free-music bar around the corner from my house, and it involved everything from 1930s turntables to clarinets to a guy reading from Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape via a cell phone for the audience.

In other words, it was a “happening” in the original sense of the word, and according to the planners, I could do anything that I wanted. I could get up and take the stage and read from AWAKE or The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s or most anything really, whenever and for however long I chose. Unfortunately, this posed certain problems for me. After all, I am something of a split personality when it comes to the avant-garde vs. the ancien regime. At once thoroughly supportive of innovation, I also am a bit of an indecisive, careful, far-from-impulsive sort. As a result, I was thrown back on my existential resources and suffering a crisis. Too many decisions. Yet another irony of the modern condition. What to do and when to do it and for what reason … it’s a bit of a torture chamber for those of us who might have enjoyed the days when the net was fixed and God was safely in his kingdom. I mean, if anything goes, why not read from the back of a cereal box at this happening? Why not intone in portentous tones the instructional manual for assembling a portable commode, “Socket A Goes Into Slot B” the first line in an epic poem for a new millennium, the one with the KYJ problem?

Yes, I’m a silly old-world modern man, torn between this place and that: The Village Green Preservation Society. Give me the option to do anything that I want and I freeze in place; at least initially. And yet, once things start happening, I happen right along with them. So here for you now is what happened at the happening.

As the noise collective played (“bass banjo,” AM radio, something that looked like a guitar) and the cell-phone Beckett gave pause, I took the stage and began riffing on insomnia in all its wondrous glory. Without at all intending it this way, a pitch-bright ironic tone emerged from my lips in that thin high Bob Dylan mode, the spittle-flecked microphone meeting my mercury-singed tongue with the words of wisdom of AWAKE’s contributors. Charles Simic, Matthew Rohrer, Lydia Lunch and Priscilla Becker. All gave the crowd the derangement of the senses that it needed. Yet it wasn’t until I fell onto the page of “modern surrealist” (how, I’ve heard, he hates that title) James Tate and his tale of an archaeological dig in his back yard, that the crowd really began to “groove” and the noise collective to gel and the gelatinous spotlights of post-bourbon pleasure to glow with the words and music and fire. Tate’s piece, at once comic, dark and lightly deep, brought laughter in the “ah ha” (as in funny strange AND funny ha ha because it’s TRUE) mode, and made me smile as the crowd laughed. “Now we’re getting there,” I thought. “Now we got our Hojo’s workin.”

And quick as an all-you-can-eat clam fry, I Hopped over to your favorite other book – yes, the Jew-Punk epic Heebie-Jeebies (henceforth and hereon known as HBJB’s) – and rendered unto the assembled multitude the message of the Blessed Un-Virgin Lenny, Patron Saint of Jew Punks everywhere, Mr. Bruce of his dirty talk and clean-ass ways, his un-hypocritical anger and rage at hypocrisy’s daze, his restless days and nights in the clubs of America, declaiming in comic tones a jeremiad that might have put even chaste Jeremiah to shame.

“In the beginning was the word and the word was fuck...”

And so forth and so on, you’ve been there my previous readers, and you’re going there, in a hand-basket, the rest of you, so hop on board and brace yourselves, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

Happy New Year to all and to all a good whatever.

La Revolution lives.

We’re going to sleep tight in the streets.