So anyway, I call my house The Library of New Alexandria because I have so many — some would say too many — books. In the book, Kafka by the Shore, by Haruki Murakami, the protagonist goes to live in a library, or at least he visits a private library that is open to the public and spends all his waking hours there. I am living in a library, and let me tell you, it is nothing like Haruki’s fantasy. In fact, there is barely room to turn around. I am entombed in books. Then to top it off, more people checked in and now I can’t find several crucial items that are integral to my daily routine. But I have started the process of cleaning up — excavating the rubble — and one of the guests, though recently checked out (both figuratively and literally), at least had the decency to leave the place cleaner than when she entered it. So I am keeping up the momentum.
My friend Pablo is sad, but he is always sad. So what else is new? He said he hadn’t played his saxophone for a while, hadn’t even taken it out of the case, but he was playing guitar a lot. I tried to show him something I came up with but he was going through Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period. We listened to Miles Davis playing “Blues For Pablo,” then Frank sang “Mood Indigo.” I will keep working on my ideas and maybe someday it will make more sense to him, but he isn’t in the right frame of mind just now. It was the channel of “Stella by Starlight,” the last eight bars, and then I have these voicings that were most all the possible permutations of half diminished to altered dominant. But why are you so sad, Pablo? I interrupted him. He was in love but it didn’t work out. He didn’t want to talk about it. Just wanted to pout and mope. So we didn’t talk about it. We just played “Stella By Starlight,” trading off on the solos and comping; 137 choruses.
I am reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and I am on about page 160 of 340. There is some guy named Phaedrus, spoiler alert, he is really the narrator before he underwent electroshock therapy. Phaedrus (Φαῖδρος) was a teacher of Rhetoric, which was discredited by Socrates and Plato, but perhaps they were onto something? One of Plato’s dialogues is called The Phaedrus, where Phaedrus & Co. discuss several ideas. Anyway, this book has a lot of motorcycle tips, lots of other stuff about philosophy and BIG IDEAS. It is a good book.
Speaking of books I thought up one of those great titles wherein, once the title is chosen, the book practically writes itself. The title would be The Cinder Block Rules, a take off, or perhaps more like an homage, to The Cider House Rules. Unlike the first rule of Fight Club — that there is no Fight Club — the Cider House Rule number one was that the people who lived in the Cider House should make the rules. That was really the only rule they talked about much because the other rules were things that were written by people who did not live there; plus the Cider House workers couldn’t read, apart from Homer Wells, who was raised in the orphanage by Dr. Larch; who also taught him how to be a physician, albeit an unlicensed one:
[Homer reads the actual Cider House Rules to the illiterate workers]
Peaches: What do they think, go up to the roof to sleep? They must think we’re crazy. They think we’re dumb %*##3rs, so we need some dumb rules, is what they think.
Rose Rose: That’s it? It don’t mean nothin’ at all. And all this time I been wonderin’ about ’em.
Arthur Rose: They outrageous, them rules. Who live in this cider house? Who grindin’ up those apples, pressin’ that cider, cleanin’ up all this mess? Who just plain live here, just breathin’ in that vinegar? Well, someone who don’t live here made those rules. Those rules ain’t for us. We are supposed to make our own rules. And we do. Every single day.
So there you have it. The Cider House Rules. But time for a rude transition. We segue back into a kind of an exploration of an hypothetical book I might write — the one I mentioned above — with the title, The Cinder Block Rules. This title is very evocative and I can picture what the book is about. There are these people, see, and they live in a house that comes to be known as the Cinder Block. The house is very messy but a woman moves in and begins to clean it up. She sees herself as a kind of a Cinderella. The wicked step mother shows favoritism to the other sisters, and she is forced to drudge through the sludge. She wants Prince Charming to come and bring her the glass slippers.
So, anyway. Time for one last segue:
Cinderella is mentioned in songs by Bob and Jakob Dylan. Father and son mentioned the same mythical character. I could expound and pontificate at length — and I undoubtedly will at some point in the not too distant future — but right now I will just post the pertinent excerpts. First from Jakob and his band The Wallflowers. The refrain from their one and only hit, “One Headlight”
come on try a little
nothing is forever
there’s got to be something better than in the middle
me and Cinderella
put it all together
we could drive it home
with one headlight
Now, from the numerous verses of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”
And puts her hands in her back pockets Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning. “You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place, my friend, you’d better leave”
And the only sound that’s left after the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row