Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Radio Man" : Extract 2

Larry Ferlinghetti’s combo are toppin’ the bill tonight at some club in Brooklyn.

“ I thought Larry was a bookhound. Cruisin’ ‘round town in a beat down caddy, riffin' on a bohemian vibe. You know these cats: from up in the Village, NYC to North Beach down in Frisco, they’re surfin’ on Coltrane and Camus. Hangin’ out with pro skirt and palookas, snow birds and stoolpidgeons, panhandlers and party people. Writing everything down in their damned notebooks. "Notes from the Underground" they call it.”

“You’re tootin’ the wrong ringer, Daddy O. Larry’s a solid gone john with a horn. “Dr. Sax” to the max. But Jack’s still the mack in the sack. Larry keeps his sax in the back of of his soft-top cadillac. Jack’s been up front blowin’ his horn since the day he was born. He’s always packin’ heat, hardwired to the street, keepin’ his shit sweet, tight to the beat. I gotta get back to the leader of the pack this black.”

The club was tucked away in the middle of Nowheresille. The cab driver spat us into the deserted streets of boarded-up shops and rundown ramshackle residences like an oxygen-gulping diner urgently expelling a fish bone from his throat.

Inside the club: red velvet drapes, conspiratorial booths. Bare red lightbulbs and slashed leather seats. Bordello-themed decor with traumatic distress built in as design feature. A single neon letter S flickers at the back of the small stage. A fitful beacon, a spasm of white light spilling through smoke-shrouded conversation. Dig that hipster vibe: conversational riffs like swingin’ solos spiralling upwards from bedrock buzz . Cigarette smoke and conversation wove around eachother like suspicious women talkin’ about the same punk. Pimps, pederasts, players, private eyes (Ellroy’s guys) pushers, Puerto Rican homeboys with platinum albums and movie deals. Fly girls, fall guys, flipsters, hipsters, flim flammers and gang bangers, film school students discussing showreels. Bohos, hobos, Noho bozos, Soho pros with joes in tow, joe blows workin’ that mojo. Voodoo chicks, hoodoo skirt teasin’ cheap tricks, Hollywood producers toutin’ new flicks, “me too” glitterati, old school literati, new techno illuminati. Zoot-suited pachucho cats with two-tone shoes and pimp hats.

Bill Burroughs in a private booth with some fag. Talkin’ out of his ass as usual. Frank Booth is sippin’ Pils, inhalin’ helium and talkin’ all that jazz with F.Scott Fitzgerald’s rotting corpse.

On stage a Latino percussion trio: Beatnik-brushed bongos blending subtly with syncopated jungle jazz juice freshly squeezed by hipster discophile. This cat’s flippin’ 45s like burgers at a barbecue. Polyrhythmic beat alchemy prelude to top-of-the-night treat.

Dean Stockwell ambles on stage, croons a number from his “cocktail music for psychopaths” back catalogue. Then it’s bill toppin’, finger poppin’ Larry Ferlinghetti’s combo swingin’ hard like Prima’s cats on heat. Hard-boiled hipsters hangin’ lean, diggin’ the scene on benzedrine. Larry’s got his own Keely in tow. Annie Mae was a beauty back in the day, but that day sure wasn’t yesterday.

Ewan McNaught

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