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January 01, 2006


Happy New Year.

My reflective, rather than anal, resolution is to enjoy my job. I tend to get perfectionistic and stressed about things. I create my own strees. In truth my job is easy, my students are sweet, and the administration likes me, so I have no reason not to leap out of bed ready to teach except for my own propensity for seeing failure in my successes. So: enjoy your job, lily. Take zoloft and feel blessed ( because I am ).
Paul and I have a ritual port-drinking and cigar smoking ceremony for whenever we feel like it, so we sat out on the porch, watched the fireworks, and imbided last night. My poor dog hated every minute of it. He cowered under my chair trembling until the noise finally ceased. Mostly the end of the year is a sad time for me since it means being another year closer to death, but there's that propensity for self-inflicted stress again! One of the (many) things I cherish about my relationship with Paul is our rituals, the way we lay down memories together,and this Christmas season was another layer of shared experience for which I am grateful and happy.

Resolved: Less time reading blogs, more time looking for clients.

Want to sue someone?

Want to sue someone?


CharleyCarp: I'm not a very litigious person, but if I ever decide to change, your comments have convinced me that I'll hire you. So if anyone you work with wants to know, commenting on blogs has drummed up at least some hypothetical business.

But it is, alas, very hypothetical business. About six years ago, I was in a situation when more or less every lawyer I know, including the completely sober ones who frown on needless or frivolous lawsuits, was advising me to sue someone, and I didn't.

Normally, I'm not litigious because I'm against needless lawsuits. But on that occasion, I was not litigious because what I wanted more than anything was to protect my soul against what I saw as the most damaging part of the whole thing: the anger. (It felt to me as though I had been poisoned. Self-protection was my main priority. And eventually I did help to get the person in question out of a position where he could damage other people.)

So, apparently, either things don't matter enough for me to sue or they matter too much. Oh well.

Have I ever mentioned here my experiences with Patti and her band circa 1974-5?

It's almost impossible to describe what she meant to me, and a couple of us.

She wasn't a Big Star then. She was unknown to all but a small poetry circle, to start.

I first saw her at St. Mark's Church, with just Richard Sohl backing her on piano. I forget if that was before or after that tiny independent pressing of her first single, with "Hey, Joe" on one side and "Piss Factory" on the other (although I believe "Piss Factory" was the A side).

A handful of us started falling her around from there to CBGB's (what a dump; it was hard to walk on the floor, with all the broken beer bottle glass, and random vomit, and there was about two-feet wide clearance to walk down the entire place to the stage area, which was about 10 feet wide, and not vastly longer, and the place stank so much, you could bearly stand it, not to mention all the winos you literally had to step over outside on Bowery to get in), Max's Kansas City, and here and there, including out to New Jersey and up to New Haven.

My pal Susan started sleeping with J.D. (Daughtery), the drummer, immediately, which would have helped get us in, except Lenny Kaye was one of the few hundred people who, a few years previous, back in the Sixties, had been in hardcore sf fandom, where we all knew each other (he got there about a decade before me, of course), but even in the Inner-most circle, where there were maybe only a hundred or so of us active at a given time, knowing all the same little in-group references and such, so since we had all these mutual friends, we were, of course, friends -- that's how it worked then.

I had copies of a few of Lenny's old zines. So he came to a few of our parties, and we never had a trouble getting into a venue where Patti's now-Group was playing. (I never did more than say variants of "hi," to anyone but Lenny. I'd probably have locked up with paralysis if Patti tried to hold a conversation with me, although I dimly recall a couple of sentences going back and forth a couple of times.

Her "My Generation" was kick-ass, too. Of course, sometimes she'd wander off into incomprehensible poetry on stage, and the band wouldn't know how to follow her, and she'd tell the most awfully bad jokes when she was vamping, but that's an Artist for you.

Horses... well, I can't say, I can't explain. All I can say is that it was the record of that period of my life, and of a few of us (who were more or less all in love with each other, to varying degrees), particularly through 1975. In '75, I was 16, and I'd been living with my 23-year-old girlfriend for a year. (It's a good thing no one gave a damn about checking IDs in those places in those days; I don't recall the issue ever even arising to think about it; not that I had yet touched alcohol or any other substances [aside from, like, Passover wine].)

It was also the year of Dhalgren.

It was all heady and mind-exploding beyond imagination, but that's what those years are like if you're very very lucky. They also imprint you. (Me, anyway.)

Gary: Likewise, except for the seeing her live part, and the knowing people in the band part, and substituting 1977-8 for 1975, and both Horses and Radio Ethiopia for just Horses, and love that would have been much more bearable had it been simply unrequited for living with someone. Actually, except for everything but this: "All I can say is that it was the record of that period of my life."

I'd never seen her live until two days ago.

"But on that occasion, I was not litigious because what I wanted more than anything was to protect my soul against what I saw as the most damaging part of the whole thing: the anger."

In line with an ancient anecdotal tradition about philosophers. Seneca in his treatise De Ira tells us that Socrates would say to his slaves when they misbehaved "I would beat you, except that I'm angry"; and Diogenes Laertius attributes the following variation to Plato: "Once, when Xenocrates came into his house, he desired him to scourge one of his slaves for him, for that he himself could not do it because he was in a passion; and that at another time he said to one of his slaves, "I should beat you if I were not in a passion."". (Anecdotes of this sort are always extremely dodgy so far as historical accuracy goes).

Now the modern version: the true philosopher says "I would have sued him, were I not so angry."

Exchange in taxi heading uptown from the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, @ 1:00 a.m. 12/31:

javelina: "One of the things that so great about going to a Patti Smith concert is that she's pretty much being herself up there. It's not about pretense."

hilzoy: "Yeah, she's not PRETENDING to be a shamanistic force of nature who's read too much Rimbaud, she just IS a shamanistic force of nature who's read too much Rimbaud."

[Special to Hil - We had a fantastic time, too. And since your departure from Manhattan the little one has asked about once every two hours when he's going to get to come visit you.]

javelina: I sent the little one a present... (grin)

[In Sacramento, dealing with a sick relative.]

[if we're trolling for business, i know a fair bit about Californian and federal admininstrative law, including CEQA, the federal and state ESAs, and california water law. any developers reading this post are invited to send RFQs to the e-mail listed below.]

happy new year, prof. h. i look forward to another year of your posts.

CharleyCarp: best of luck at Gitmo. You are a credit to our profession.

Happy New Year Hilzoy

from Sydney. Some blogger here, probably Tim Dunlop at Road to Surfdom, pointed me your way and I have enjoyed and generally agreed with your pithy and penetrating posts ever since. Keep it going..

Re Patti

saw her here a couple of years ago supporting Bob Dylan. Bob was good, Patti was better.

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!" Comments like yours above, Gary, convince me that you should write your own The Motion of Light in Water. Really.

As fer Patti, much as I like Horses, she's never meant as much to me as, say, Talking Heads. Maybe it's the (a few years) age difference. Which isn't to say I'd turn down a chance to see her live at all.

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