Thursday, October 11, 2007

Montoyota monoplane eccentric

It donna look like anything speesh-al.
So what what it looks like. Grab it.
Sez you?
Sez me!
Ingrate. He grabs the bag. It’s a bag full of blood and money. And metaphor.
But dey got da loot and hied off to nowhere.

Rumblings overhead. Footsteps. Running. Clanking, falling things. Damn kids.

A gray day. Veddy. Veddy gray. Cold. Huddling, humbling cold ever west wind, the smell of cow dung, husks and field dust blown gone wicked flight on ever ever punishing, rounding wind.

21st century summer smells stinging brisk awakening ammonia The Hastening, in the corn fields as elsewhere. Reminder of the inconvenience, the hydraulic lift CO2 levels sure yeah media hype but come on mosquitoes in October? Ba da! Northwest passage passable. Walruses got some new digs. Still the townies rev their motors, proud combustion.

Done said my piece o’ pizza about ‘dat. Ya sure. Boomba goss. In situ. Parnassus. Manassas. Sassafras.

Okay, enough messing around. The word is out there. Said in the desperate tones of a heart-throbbin’ cataleptic shrill wide-eyed loony bin. The word IS out there, brother!


I found out a little more about Carlos Montoya, and will recall from memory instead of cutting and pasting the info. This fulfills one of the rules of my 1,000 words a day criteria: All the words must be my own.

Also, my free, spotty Internet access is out at the moment.

Montoya lived from 1903-93. He was, during his heyday in the 40s and 50s, the world’s most famous Flamenco guitarist. But he has never been regarded seriously by real Flamenco guitarists. Montoya, American born, but with deep Spanish ties, was dismissed by his uncle, Ramon (?) Montoya, who refused to give Carlos lessons because Carlos wasn’t talented enough. Uncle died knowing lousy ol’ milquetoast Carlos eclipsed him in fame and earnings.

In traditional Flamenco music, the guitar keeps a strict and steady rhythm for the dancers, with short solo flourishes, even as it works through a variety of moods and tempos. Carlos Montoya first played out at the age of 14 and worked in various dance outfits throughout his adulthood. He did not release his first solo album until he was 42. Afterwards, he was an instant hit.
Carlos Montoya played solo, without dancers, and varied tempos in his own idiosyncratic fashion. While he never learned to read music, with the help of others he composed many pieces.
He has never been regarded by serious Flamenco fans, but has sold more records than any artist of his genre. Montoya also did a lot of crossover work, including a blues album. That’s all I know from my scant minutes going Google happy. But I like the dramatic elements of Montoya’s life. Popular and rich, but snubbed by family and not taken seriously by the purists in his genre. And yet he added something to the oeuvre, something the mass ear, however tinned, wanted to hear in its time.

I nodded in recognition when I read about Montoya gaining a musical influence from Spanish gypsy music. Whenever I hear the tracks, the manic guitar strumming, foot tapping on wood, and coaxing staccato vocal outbursts, I imagine a peasant street fair, skirts and hair bonnets, onlookers crowded around the dancers and player. The rhythms are irregular and earthy, they breathe with nuance and emotion, but not the metrical perfection called for by the genre. The mono-track recording suits the mood. This isn’t some fancy studio. This has gotta be on the street. What‘s that in the background of 6:43 in “Malaguena?!”

I don’t know when and where these songs were recorded, but I guess they’re earlier recordings because of experiences with bargain bin CDs by other artists (remember I paid $2 for the simply titled Excelsior label, “61+ minutes“ says the cover). So they could still be “field” recordings. The album came with no liner notes.


Speaking of guitar, I haven’t played with any intensity in a while. I want to quit messing around and actually learn some covers. But I’m too much of a cheap ass to buy the sheet music for the songs I want to learn, and the net tabs are approximations at best, which is fine for some easy songs, but lousy for the more intricate numbahs.

As a player, I’m like Montoya. I don’t play well with others. I know I could. I just don’t have the practice on guitar. I sing well to other’s playing and can also sing in choirs, but I’ve never sang and played the guitar at the same time with any great confidence. And I realized a long time ago the lack of confidence is warranted because it usually stems from either (a) lack of practice, or (b) over ambition and over practice. Not so mucha B dese days. I’ve got a stronger sense of my own limitations.

I know my chords, major, minors and sevenths, at least, and I can hunt down the right pitch right quick. But I lack the dexterity for any speedy solos. I keep good time and have a good sense of mood and, ya know, killah, da hook, mon. (maybe I’m not like Montoya). The groove, baby, that’s my secret weapon. Jah.


When I think about my future, my near future, the next 5-7 years, I‘m surprised to see how settled it is. While there are many question marks, I know I’ll be teaching, staying indefinitely in the DeKalb/Sycamore environs, helping raise my son. I want to write for publication again. Anything from fiction to a weekly newspaper column. I’d like to be able to get a month off every year for long-distance hiking or canoeing or whatever new sports crop up as I can afford them. I want a small house on a big lot. A variety of paddle craft, biking, and hiking gear. A big kitchen with all the gadgets and utensils I’ve longed for, like a cuisinart. I don’t know. I just said that.

How does that fit in with my proud in poverty, scavenger outcast sensibilities? I guess that’s the weird dichotomy, like my friend Todd idolizing Nietzche and Isaac Hayes, an epicure with a raw, yet keen and innate sense of style, taste, and fashion lurks beneath my Salvation Army exterior.
Settled. Somewhat. Like I said, still a lot of unknowns ahead, but one of the biggies (CAREER!) is taking off nicely. When I was a young man, I imagined my thirties would be the most productive years of my life. So far, that’s how its been. And I hope that’s how it goes. But I’m not motivated by greed or material gain. Experience trumps stuff any day. And, for the most part, experience is free. Or at least the best ones are.

Hey, am I at 1,000 words yet? Indeed we are. 1,134

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