Out of Nowhere

white_giraffe_01I am auditing a class by Dr. Stafford Betty on the Spiritual Quest, and such phenomena as Near Death Experiences, Terminal Lucidity, and Poltergeists. The subject under discussion the other day was Instrumental Transcommunication. There is a section in Dr. Betty’s book:


When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying? Afterlife: The Evidence

What this is, ITC, it seems to me, is using electronic devices in order to facilitate communication with spirits of the dead. Like, you tune your radio to some in-between frequency of static and white noise, and listen until you hear voices. In some ways, this is much less efficient than the standard séance using a human medium. The advantages of ITC are there is less chance of colorization, where the medium’s personality comes into play, and distorts the message, or at the very least influences it, and at the uttermost end of the spectrum, the message could be fashioned completely from the medium’s imagination–either innocently, or with intent to commit fraud.

The drawback of the Instrumental Transcommunication method is that the messages are not as clear or detailed. You could be listening to static for months until you hear something, and then you still might just be imposing an imagined pattern on random noise. Is it just an example of an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters randomly composing Hamlet?

One of the sources discussed in Dr. Betty’s book is Anabela Cardoso of Brazil, a career diplomat and the editor of itcjournal.org.

Electronic Contact with the Dead:
What do the Voices Tell Us?

is the culmination of Anabela Cardoso’s twenty years of research into Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC). I like it that her name is Anabela, similar to the woman in Poe’s “Annabel Lee”. Not only is this the last complete poem composed by Edgar Allan Poe, it also concerns communication with the spirits of the dead. That is a favorite theme of his–the death of a beautiful woman. For example: “The Raven”, “Ulalume”, “To One in Paradise”, and the prose poem, “Berenice”.  In his 1846 essay, “The Philosophy of Composition”, Poe explains the method behind his madness, as this is “the most poetical topic in the world”. The distance between the object of desire and the one doing the desiring is the greatest. It is the longest possible distance between two points.

If you want to delve deeply into this subject, Instrumental Transcommunication, you are welcome to research it further, but I just want to talk about which episode of The Twilight Zone this reminds me of. Submitted for your approval, let’s look at episode 58 of Rod Serling’s masterpiece of American Television first:

“Long Distance Call” is episode 58 of The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on March 31, 1961 on CBS.

A few minutes into the episode the narration begins. The familiar yet terse and ominous voice of Mr. Serling intones:

“ As must be obvious, this is a house hovered over by Mr. Death, an omnipresent player to the third and final act of every life. And it’s been said, and probably rightfully so, that what follows this life is one of the unfathomable mysteries, an area of darkness which we, the living, reserve for the dead—or so it is said. For in a moment, a child will try to cross that bridge which separates light and shadow, and, of course, he must take the only known route, that indistinct highway through the region we call The Twilight Zone.”

Billy Mumy plays Billy Bayles, who is just now having his 5th birthday. His grandmother gives him a toy phone. She is very possessive, to the point of cringe-worthy creepiness. She subsequently dies, and Billy is rather morose at first. He cheers up later as he plays with the toy phone, having long and animated conversations with his dear departed grandmother, who begins asking him to come and visit her. Under her influence he almost gets himself killed. Anyway, you have probably seen this episode, though episode number 73, “It’s a Good Life!” is the one that Mumy is most remembered for. That’s the one where he has telekinetic powers and ruins everyone’s life with his tyrannical tantrums if anyone so much as criticizes anything he does. He sends someone into the cornfield and turns a would-be Perry Como fan into a Jack-in-the-Box. Mumy was in one other TZ, but makes but a mere cameo in “In Praise of Pip,” starring Jack Klugman. Mumy is the son of Klugman’s ne’er do well, and like I said is seen briefly as the Young Pip. Bobby Diamond plays Pvt. Pip, a soldier who is destined to die in Viet Nam. This episode aired on September 27, 1963. This was slightly more than a few months before that ominous date of November 22, 1963. That is the day that Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Interesting that Pvt. Pip is in Viet Nam, as we weren’t even really at war with Viet Nam at this point. After JFK, LBJ would get us entangled in that quagmire. Billy Mumy would go on to play young Will Robinson in Lost in Space. Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris, was always luring Will into ludicrous predicaments causing the Robot to wave his arms and warn:

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Anyway, “Long Distance Call” comes to its not unsuspected conclusion, and it’s summarized by Rod Serling like this:

“A toy telephone, an act of faith, a set of improbable circumstances, all combine to probe a mystery, to fathom a depth, to send a facet of light into a dark after-region, to be believed or disbelieved, depending on your frame of reference. A fact or a fantasy, a substance or a shadow – but all of it very much a part of The Twilight Zone.”

As I sat in Dr. Betty’s class, these words played in my head:

The radio and the telephone
And the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies,
And in time may go!

I was picturing the spirits trying to master the technology to respond to Anabela’s enquiries. They had spirit radios in the underworld, but didn’t quite know how they worked. In the background their celestial VCRs blinked eternally: “12:00. 12:00. 12:00. 12:00. 12:00. 12:00.” Another stanza of the song in question caught my ear:

In time the Rockies may crumble,
Gibralter may tumble,
There’re only made of clay,
But our love is here to stay.

The song was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by his brother Ira Gershwin for the 1938 film The Goldwyn Follies. This was George Gershwin’s last song. He died in July of 1938, and he was only 37 years old. Ira finished the lyrics after his brother’s untimely demise, and so the words take on a poignant flavor, and can easily be interpreted as about their enduring brotherly love and their prolific song writing partnership.

The other day a friend remarked that “Summertime” by George and Ira Gershwin was their favorite song, and I had to be Mr. Know-it-all and say that it was George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward who wrote it. Ira is listed as a co-writer, but for that tune, and indeed most of the “opera” Porgy and Bess it was DuBose who wrote the lyrics, as he wrote the 1925 novel it was based on,  Porgy, and he and his wife Dorothy also adapted it into a play. I put the word “opera” in quotes not meant to be ironic or derogatory, it is just that it is different than most operas, so I did that. Anyway, Ira did provide some lyrics for Porgy and Bess, but he was given the co-writer credit mainly because he was the songwriting partner of his brother George–not because his contribution was that significant.

Another song that popped into my noggin that day, “like a bolt out of the blue” (bonus point if you know where that line is from) was “Out of Nowhere”. This song was by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman. Johnny Green dedicated this song to his first wife Carol, because she persuaded him to give up his day job and pursue a musical career. Composer Green and Lyricist Heyman also wrote “I Cover the Waterfront”, recorded by Billie Holiday, and their most well known song, “Body and Soul”. This was a huge hit for Coleman Hawkins, kind of a fluke for an instrumental version. Coleman Hawkins was one of the first tenor saxophonists to really make the tenor saxophone an important jazz instrument. Anyway, “Out of Nowhere” was the first hit song for Bing Crosby as a solo artist. He recorded it in 1931, and was the first singer to record it. Coleman Hawkins, Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, and Benny Carter–on trumpet instead of his main instrument, alto saxophone–did a rendition of this tune in 1937. “Out Of Nowhere” was also featured in the 1931 Paramount western comedy “Dude Ranch”, and really, with a name like that I can’t help but imagine a bunkhouse with a rug that really “pulls the whole room together.” I first heard this song by Charlie Parker. Everyone who is anyone does this song in G Major–including me the other night at The Jazz Workshop:

You came to me from out of nowhere, you took my heart and found it free,
Wonderful dreams, wonderful schemes from nowhere,
Make every hour as sweet as a flower to me.

If you should go back to your nowhere. leaving me with just a memory,
I’ll always wait for your return out of nowhere,
Hoping you bring your love to me.

One more song’s lyrics are featured in today’s blog:

“FM (No Static at All)” is the title theme to the 1978 film FM. The song did better than the film, which flopped, while the song made it into the top 40. It was not on the Steely Dan album Aja though it was released as a single around that time. Songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, alias Steely Dan, played on it, as well as saxophonist Pete Christlieb, drummer Jeff Porcaro; on backing vocals were several members of the Eagles. The strings were arranged by Johnny Mandel, who was also a great songwriter who wrote “The Shadow of your Smile” and “Emily”. Although Anabela was trying to contact the spirits by listening to static, on this tune, celebrating FM radio, there is “no static at all.”

Worry the bottle Mamma, it’s grapefruit wine
Kick off your high heel sneakers, it’s party time
The girls don’t seem to care what’s on
As long as it plays till dawn
Nothin’ but blues and Elvis
And somebody else’s favorite song

Give her some funked up music, she treats you nice
Feed her some hungry reggae, she’ll love you twice
The girls don’t seem to care tonight
As long as the mood is right

No static at all . . . .

Of course there is a bonus song for extra credit: During the outro to “Rubber Ring” by The Smiths, a sample from an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recording is repeated. The phrase “You are sleeping, you do not want to believe,” is a ‘translation’ of the ‘spirit voices’ from a 1970s flexitape. The original recording is from the 1971 record which accompanied Konstantīns Raudive’s book ‘Breakthrough’, and which was re-issued as a flexi-disc in the 1980s free with The Unexplained magazine. Raudive was a Latvian Writer and student of Carl Jung who studied EVP, and somehow ended up on Morrissey’s radar in “Rubber Ring”.

A sad fact widely known
The most impassionate song
To a lonely soul
Is so easily outgrown
But don’t forget the songs
That made you smile
And the songs that made you cry
When you lay in awe
On the bedroom floor
And said : “Oh, oh, smother me Mother”
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

The passing of time
And all of its crimes
Is making me sad again
The passing of time
And all of its sickening crimes
Is making me sad again
But don’t forget the songs
That made you cry
And the songs that saved your life
Yes, you’re older now
And you’re a clever swine
But they were the only ones who ever stood by you

The passing of time leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled (the passing)
The passing of time
Leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled
I’m here with the cause
I’m holding the torch
In the corner of your room
Can you hear me?
And when you’re dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head
And think of me kindly
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

Do you
Love me like you used to?
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

You’re clever
Everybody’s clever nowadays
You’re clever
Everybody’s clever nowadays

You are sleeping
You do not want to believe
You are sleeping
You do not want to believe
You are sleeping
You do not want to believe
You are sleeping






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