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Beat

August 11, 2008
 Untitled 
This Ed Kranepool card is softer now than it was a week ago. It still feels pretty sturdy though. In fact, in some ways it seems tougher, as if it would be harder to rip in half than the other 1976 Ed Kranepool card I have, the one that stayed in my shoebox while I kept this Ed Kranepool in my pocket for the entirety of my just concluded week-long trip east. Maybe what seems like damage is something else altogether. Jack Kerouac pointed out that while the word beat in Beat Generation started out meaning “poor, down and out, deadbeat, on the bum, sad . . .” it came to accrue many more meanings, most notably beatific, as if the defeats of life, the beatings, could transform the loser, the beat, into the humble indestructible holy fool of god.

I can’t tell you if that’s true, about beatings leading to adamantine bliss. In fact right now I just feel beat, in the original sense of the slang phrase uttered by smalltime criminal and poet Herbert Huncke to Jack Kerouac (the first time the latter heard the phrase) in Times Square some sixty years ago. I feel a little ill, tired, maybe on the verge of a nasty summertime cold. I sort of deserve it, I guess. On Friday I got only a couple hours sleep after drinking many beers and seeing the Stooges in New York City, then Saturday drove a lot then rode on an airplane then on a train then a shuttle bus then a train then a bus and spent the rest of the day moaning on the toilet from maybe a bad pre-Stooges free hot dog at Rudy’s on 9th Avenue, then yesterday it being August I went to a baseball game back here in Chicago in only a T-shirt and shorts and shivered in the upper deck shade and wind for a long time as my team, the visiting Red Sox, proved that they might not have enough this year, their starting pitcher for the day, Clay Buchholz, beat in the sense of utterly defeated, lost (from today’s Boston Globe: “Once [Buchholz] was dressed yesterday [after the loss], he sat for a few beats, staring into his locker. He got up, missed while trying to kick a towel into a basket, and wandered off toward the back of the clubhouse. He seemed lost, in many ways . . .”). My team is beat, I’m beat, and now it’s back to the daily grind, which for all its unavoidable virtues (roof over head, food in stomach) is very rarely, if ever, going to bloom into the beatific. Whatever, big deal: I went on a vacation and now it’s that steroidal first Monday back. As Iggy might say, boo hoo.

But I still have this Ed Kranepool souvenir of my beatific, or at least interesting, week away. In its creases and fades are a hike up Camel’s Hump in Vermont, some mucky golf some miles south of Camel’s Hump, some mini golf a few hundred yards or so from doomed Shea Stadium, one last trip before the mini golf to Shea Stadium, that old undemanding friend, for a perfect sunny sweaty day drinking beer and cheering for the Mets yet not giving a shit when they lost their lead late and cheering again when they got it back in the bottom of the ninth on a David Wright two-run home run. In the creases of this card also the Stooges show and maybe also all the good moments with loved ones I don’t get to see that often in Vermont and New York, and (I’m rushing now because it’s time to go to work) also most of all for the water damage or on the other hand beatitude inflicted or bestowed on this card by a massive flash downpour on me and Ed Kranepool and a friend of mine who has been depressed, the downpour occuring as we walked over the Williamsburg Bridge, no shelter anywhere in sight. As it rained down my friend, who has been getting crushed lately in his mind by the beatings of the past, woke up fully to his old and real and alive road-going self for the first time all day, reveling in the rain beating down.

11 comments

  1. 1.  Sounds like you had a great time. The only beat missing was that of the newspaper reporter.


  2. 2.  1 : Good point about the use of the word “beat” in “beat reporter.” I should have prefaced the link to the Boston Globe article (which seems to not want to open; you can see the story of the 8.10.08 game today if you go to the Red Sox page on Boston.com) by saying that it was by “beat reporter Amalie Benjamin.”


  3. 3.  Channeling Jack… all beat sympathetic and pouring through. I am on the 5th day of a stay-cation (the wife not wanting to fly w/ a baby) and envy all you packed into yours!
    I wonder if the beat reporter pronounces it ‘ben – ha – meen’, or the other way.


  4. 4.  poetic.


  5. 5.  hey josh – there is an advanced style of funk drumming, called “linear.” linear “beats,” would be comprised of a groove where no two limbs (or instruments, obviously) hit at the same time. it’s constant change, flowing yet sometimes bulky, unwieldy and quite challenging. of course, sometimes it’s smooth as oleo and feels so good, it’s impossible to stop the train! anyway, i figure you can probably find a beautifully poetic sense to include “linear beats” to the aforementioned…


  6. 6.  FYI: Some good comments on older posts, most recently on the “before” version of this Ed Kranepool card, in which a commenter points out that the death of Shea will be the death of the spontaneous cheap-ticket ball game. Also see comments for Joe Wallis (A’s), Johnny LeMaster (Giants), and Joe Strain (Giants; the interesting photoshop work added to the comments in Johnny LeMaster is repeated in the recent Joe Strain comment, but the latter also has a link to more similar art by the artist).

    5 : Interesting. It sort of sounds like the opposite of what it is, drumming that spreads out in all directions, non-linearly. Any well-known examples of songs utilizing that style? (I wonder if George Hurley verged on linear beats with the funk-influenced Minutemen.)


  7. 7.  6 highly respected Boston-based drum teacher Gary Chaffee (Berklee area; Steve Smith & Vinnie Colaiuta are his top prized students of old), pretty much coined the phrase “linear drumming.”

    it does make sense, actually. everything is pretty much in a line and no two voices are played at once, such as in a chord. now, grooves can be mostly linear, whereas there are indeed two instruments sounded at once interspersed throughout the groove. this is probably even more common and would still be considered “linear drumming.”

    oh, tons of examples! i’m not hip to the Minutemen’s music, though i know of the band. you can hear linear beats from the master David Garibaldi in old Tower of Power tunes. “On The Serious Side,” from the In The Slot album, is a ridiculous groove! Mike Clark from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters tears this kinda style up and improvises like mad around it. Thurst is a good album. Steve Gadd has some nice linear stuff on all kinds of albums in the 70’s. hope that helps a little…

    i might be putting together a trio later this fall/winter to write some tunes based around a plethora of my own linear grooves…


  8. 8.  6 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon with Steve Gadd on drums, is linear. the main groove also incorporates a little New Orleans Second Line drumming w/ the snare rolls and floor tom shot, but the kick/snare/hat is linear. i guess the chorus is too, slightly – in a very simple sorta way…


  9. 9.  Because of the poor sound quality it’s hardly the best place to start an appreciation of this band, but here’s a link to the Minutemen performing some songs live in 1985 (the person who posted the video remarks that “What often stands out about [classic Minutemen album ] Double Nickels [on the Dime] to me is George [Hurley]‘s drumming, what’s more impressive is actually witnessing the drumming. George’s rhythms look as crazy as they sound.”):

    The first song is probably the least rhytmically interesting. Hurley really gets rolling by “Anxious Mo-Fo” (about 4:36 in); by that point his hat has flown off to reveal his famous hairdo, known as “The Unit.” The clip also features Mike Watt on what may be his recently stolen and long-beloved “little bass” (last week all the equipment of the Stooges, for whom Watt now plays bass, was stolen in Montreal).


  10. 10.  you went to Rudy’s! excellent! free hot dogs! That place is easily the best place within striking distance of times square to satisfy any desire for a dive bar in NYC.


  11. 11.  Glad you and old Krane had a good time. He looks better for the wear. Speaking of the Minutemen, if given the opportunity, take a peek at the documentary “We Jam Econo” for some excellent footage of Hurley’s chest out, bang’s flailing style of stick work. Good way to get started on the band, and an oddly touching movie to boot.



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