Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year (An Improvisation)

There’s only an hour and a half left in 2005 and I’ve only just learned that Derek Bailey died on Christmas Day.

To anyone familiar with the history of free improvised music, I don’t have to tell you who Bailey was. If you haven’t heard of him, suffice it to say that free improv has lost its Washington, Edison, and Einstein in one fell swoop.

What really shocks me is that the death of someone like Bailey, whose accomplishments were acknowledged universally, can go virtually unremarked upon, at least here in the United States.

I can find sympathetic and intelligent obituaries of him that appeared in England’s Independent and Guardian (and Bailey was English, granted), but can’t seem to Google up much U.S. interest in his passing, save for an article in the L.A. Weekly.

Now I’m not arguing that my fellow Americans are a bunch of uneducated philistines because they weren’t aware of Derek Bailey. His music was difficult and cerebral and we live in a culture where the noise level is so deafening that most folks don’t know how to turn it down anymore, let alone tune in to something that’s quiet and nuanced.

Sometimes I wonder about our country and the arts, though. What is it about us that makes us measure everything out in money?

It often seems as if other countries are able to see that money is a means to an end, rather than that end itself.

It seems as if other countries understand that life, art, and love is more valuable than money, that life is measured by the living, the daring, the accomplishments, the heart, the sun, the sky, the air.

They understand that there is value in things that you can’t necessarily see or hold in your hand.

It’s funny, because it also seems to me that America holds in its great beating heart a mighty willingness to explore freedom in an artistic sense, an urge to forge a wild and untamed ecstatic beauty out of itself.

And yet…

I don’t know what it is. How do these seemingly contradictory notions manage to live side by side here?

Why can’t we seem to bring them closer together?

A tiny wish for the heart of America in 2006, then.

Don’t give up.

Just…don’t give up.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a chalkboard shaped like a cat in my kitchen. A few months back (during the worst of the heartache) I wrote Keep Trying on it as a message to self. Yesterday I changed it to Don't Give Up.

Maybe this will be a movement?


Sunday, January 01, 2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

Could be, but talk about tempting fate...

Might be best to refer to it as We Surrender when in the company of the uninitiated.


Monday, January 02, 2006 4:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All right, it's entr'nous for now. But since I wrote it on my chalkboard before reading it on your site, if it does become something I claim the title Mother of the Revolution.

Happy New Year.


Monday, January 02, 2006 10:56:00 AM  

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