Listening to a Tape - B - Interview with Jason Honea
Nothing has changed. The magazines and snippets of paper in various dimensions still cover my table. I had a break of a few days to do some other things. The sun shines fiercely. The wind sends cold messengers that sneak through the warm layers of air. We are a few days away from the first day of spring. The year is 2014.
Lets get on the Bed
Another proof of bliss. It is not a pocket radio that transmits at its peak volume, deliriously distorting the commercial message. It could be. Positioned on the big custard-green fridge, the kitchen door open, no-one at home. The jammer and glory feels more like a megaphone blaring from the roof of a little white car, a compact station car with round forms, a model they stopped producing in 1971. The company's name is written on both sides; impossible to detect what it sells. The announcement coming through in the sunlit empty street smiles like a kid on its first day of Summer holiday.
Jason: Breath in a meadow. Redwood coastal morning. Camp Loma Mar 1978. Bible summer.
I Thank Heaven For Everything You Do
Maybe this is a great song under the shower, or on a bench on the Maybach Ufer in Hip-kid Heaven Berlin, a bottle of cold beer, the smell of Turkish sausages on the barbecue. On this tape it is a minor incident in belo-fi.
Jason: My father told me about an incident on the Western Front in WW1 in which at some point a giant cross appeared in the heavens, a solar phenomenon of some sort. What ever the case , it caused fighting to cease in some sectors, soldiers walking away from their positions.
I know It Shows
And this is the song that makes you wish that Jason had run into Stevie Nicks when he got out of the supermarket near San Diego, and had the guts to ask her to listen to the cassette. Two acoustic guitars express that love, summer, youth come to an end, melt into an apotheosis to mark that after a long ride we finally arrived at the ocean; it is also a memory of the great uplifting feeling that a great last song of a great concert can achieve, it fills you completely; it makes you go on the street and engage in choreographic moves vaguely reminiscent of the fight scene in West Side Movie.
A manifesto of home produced music, a strong indirect protest against the anonymous studio productions; we hear friends who try out harmonium or other noisemakers, it doesn't matter if it fits in or not, and for this reason it fits in perfectly. The accidental caught fragment of conversation turns the song even more into a visit to a place where only a few objects remind of the life that once passed here. Did I really write that?
Jason: California coast just south of Half Moon Bay. As a storm comes ashore the sky fills and swirls with what seem like a thousand or two maritime birds that start to dive into the water singularly and in sets at all angels. The cove is teaming with anchovies or sardines. Now sea lions are appearing-dolphins and small pilot whales too. From where I'm sitting it looks as if the sea is boiling. All those feeding mammals breeching the surface look like massive cart wheeling rags.
Except In Dreams
I come to a point where I start to see and hear things that probably have nothing to do with the author of this cassette. A few boxes with sealed memories and dreams are delivered by my very own inter-conscious postman.
Here, this, is another tune that shines like Christmas in a perfect Hollywood movie. Ghosts of strangers suddenly appear through a thick curtain of big soft snowflakes that slowly fall down on a city that never sleeps. Hand in hand run away moments with a new found love, a sudden stand still in front of a shop window, to marvel at the reflection clearly visible between the presents that shine in all colours gold and red.
From a small loudspeaker above a song, hardly distinguishable because of its crappy quality, and maybe an electric disturbance. A loop of ten seconds from that song appears here and nowhere, except in dreams.
Jason: Our gazes met just seconds before he was gunned down by a New Orleans police officer. Death was upon him. I ran down there and saw him in a swamp of his own blood. The only thing he had on was a pair of nylon dolphin jogging shorts. James something... (15)
I Hold My Face
Up tempo guitar, and a bass walking around, picking flowers; we are back in San Francisco again, even if the song is recorded in Berlin. Jason sings like a new romantic; I can't figure out who or what it reminds me of, a first sign that we have yet another song worthy of FM play here, albeit not in our times.
We roam through an era during which all the good pop songs were played over the small loudspeakers of a transistor radio, or a car radio. It gives a quality of sound that leaves room for imagination. This is in fact the other song that should have been presented to Stevie Nicks; the typical West Coast harmonies are already there, maybe a result of the resonating strings.
Yeah, I can see her. Little woman in a big car, ejects the Cramps cassette and shoves this one into the player. There is no pitch. But she stops it after a minute and continues singing, slower rhythm, "Am I kissing true blood" does the chorus as well, very faint and angelic huhhhh, looks at Jason's guitar and asks him to play the song, but slower. After two minutes they are both singing: "Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies....true blood." They're an odd couple there on the parking lot. Jason is twice her size.
Jason: July 1986, Canada. After a show a kid invites us to stay at his place as his parents were out of town. It's quickly determined once we arrive that we need more beer. A small detail is sent out to handle that and our host goes with... but not before he tells us by all means NOT to go down to the garage which we immediately do. It's a gate of hell. Some one has a nest set up where a work bench should be.
Graphic b/w 60s and 70s horror stills are just a gentle introduction to what comes next. Shelves on three sides are jammed with jars full of human organs among other things. Larger containers contain a variety of dead animals that look for all intents and purposes like road kill. The floor around us is full of alchemical symbols that have been scorched on or drawn on with chalk. He's got a three foot high Roman Catholic sacramental candle on a tarnished brass stand that is also about that tall.
The candle's been painted over black with Testors model paint and it’s stuck full of upholstery nails in the form of an inverted cross. They too have been painted but in 50s red finger nail polish. His bed is a filthy comforter cover that I guess he wraps himself in and when he lays down on the concrete slab of the garage. All around the floor are a wide, wide variety of bones mixed with knives and fire arms. Strung from the ceiling with fishing line to a point just two feet above his 'bed' is a rotted side of beef with spine and hip included. Needless to say, the place stank like a decomp stench fest.
Moments and Whatnauts! If you don't know what it is, look it up. Again the rotten degraded crappy lower then lo-fi sound that makes the time leap right into the sunloaden early seventies. Tall slim groove walking black men with detective hats and big sunglasses. Afro, platform shoes in screaming colours, tight red pants. Talking is singing, walking is moving, moving is dancing. And all that is left from that period is an endless refrain and a piece of recording on micro-cassette from a phone-call.
Jason: We did a show with Bad Religion and Doggy Style in Sun Valley. I arrived later with Jimmy just in time to watch the city park across the street fill up with Vato knuckle head meat rags. This is going to get fucked real quick. At a glance they're only six. Turn your head again and they've turned into thirty. They start mad dogging us and begin to hurl fightin' words and gesticulate..
Then, the venue fills up with Venice suicidal psychos and some other punk gang. At some point a bunch of the Venice psychos get upstairs and break into one of the offices which they quickly convert into a blacked out chamber that they can hurl people into to get the shit kicked out of them anonymously in the dark. The locos from the park have now come across the street too and a couple of the kooks start flashing deer rifles.
We blast through our set in about thirty or forty minutes. We blazed! We banged it ! At some point I was back outside by our van when some one socked me on the side of my head so hard that I saw stars and saturns. I remember waking up somewhere north of Bakersfield on the 5 freezing in my own sweat.
Somewhere in between the former and the next song Jason does a western version of a muezzin, or maybe he had really managed to get hold of the microphone and was this song recorded outside of the mosk, while it drifted over the roofs of the old city of Fez.
Somebody does Philip Glass over here. Time to get the tape out of the player, or let it run.
Maybe try to listen what is happening in the background, a looped message recorded in a barren abandoned space.
Another somebody has joined, and does Philip Glass as well.
Noises in the background have moved to the Führer's bunker.
"Can you come over here a moment with that candle?"
If you listen long enough it turns into an adventure movie for kids.
"Can somebody read this stuff?"
The door slams shut.
End of tape.
Jason: Wilderness by Rockwell Kent. RK travels to Fox Island Alaska with his young son where they spend several months. Their only companions there are an old Swede and his fur foxes. RK and his son work hard to stay warm and dry and make tons of art: wood cuts, charcoal drawings, love letters. It's a big gorgeous book that smells really good. It’s in my blood!