Cloister Commentary, Day 226: Pressure That Burns a Building Down

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day: bringing in and storing Halloween decorations, watching CBS Sunday Morning and reading the New York Times, setting back the clocks–I do love receiving an extra hour (I know it’s an illusion, really), because I know what to do with one–Zooming with family and friends, searching for and listening to some new music, enjoying some fresh chick pea masala, seeing if SNL could deliver. But all the while, Nicole and I both–I didn’t ask her, but I’m sure–felt a creeping, rising force. You know what I’m talking about.

If not, well, this might help. I have a rule of thumb regarding commenting on music that I follow 98% of the time: I do not want to waste my time denigrating something–life’s too short, and it’s better spent exalting powerful works. I violated that rule yesterday on Facebook when, after listening to it twice and being unmoved, I labeled the new Karen O / Willie Nelson cover of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” as having a “lay-down-and-die” energy level, which I still believe, though a) it was a great idea, and b) I am a very, very enthusiastic Wille Nelson fan of many years’ duration. A few folks I respect greatly chimed in to the effect that I might be a bit off in my assessment, which is OK with me, though considering that we all come to art with different experiences and values that cause our responses to vary, it’s a bit futile to say about a song, “No, I’m right and you’re wrong.” Which, unsurprisingly, is the main reason I imposed upon myself the above rule in the first place! BUT…one of those friends (jokingly, I’m sure, at least partially) suggested that no one ever listened to the lyrics of the original in the first place, whereas (I am assuming) the less strangulated (?) and bombastic singing applied to the cover version draws those lyrics to the fore. Perhaps; Rodney, it’s a very good point. BUT…I did listen to those lyrics as a 19-year-old in 1981, and I distinctly remembering they absolutely sold the song for me. Bowie, Queen, and the arrangement were all terrific, but I felt those words. I did have to listen to it multiple times (that was no problem, as I lifeguarded that year and had no choice) to, um, untangle and extract a few syllables), but throughout that process it hit me harder and harder. In case you need a refresher, and to loop back to my original intent in hunting and pecking this out, here those lyrics are:

“Pressure, pushing down on me,
Pressing down on you, no man asks for.
Under pressure that burns a building down,
Splits a family in two, puts people on streets.
It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming, “let me out”.
Tomorrow gets me higher.

Pressure on people, people on streets.
Chippin’ around, kick my brains around the floor.
These are the days, it never rains but it pours.
People on streets.
People on streets.

It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming, ‘Let me out!’
Tomorrow takes me higher, higher, high!
Pressure on people, people on streets.

Turned away from it all like a blind man.
Sat on a fence, but it don’t work.
Keep comin’ up with love, but it’s so slashed and torn.
Why, why, why?
Love (love, love, love, love).

Insanity laughs, under pressure we’re cracking.
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love,
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love.
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the
Edge of the night, and love dares you to
Change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves. This is ourselves.

Under pressure.
Under pressure.

I don’t think it’s our last dance, but neither do you or I need to be so damned literal in applying these foolish things. Have a careful next couple of days.

Streaming for Strivers:

Put on a happy face. The clown’s scared, too.

Cloister Commentary, Day 145: The Difference Between You and Me

If you read yesterday’s entry, you’ll recall I recently experienced a battery-related vehicular kerfuffle. I am frequently reminded of my borderline competence, and yesterday was one of those occasions. Had this kerfuffle happened to YOU, YOU, once your car was jumper-cable resuscitated, would have driven it directly to a location where the battery could be replaced; many of you would have bought a battery and put it in your dang self. I, on the other hand, thought that, since our vehicle started right up off the jumpers, the battery was probably fine. Wrongo. Also, YOU, if you didn’t replace your battery, YOU might have, with intelligent caution, BACKED your car into the garage and NOT activated the electronic parking brake (see Commentary 144). Not only didn’t I follow that course of action, but I also pulled the car as far into the garage as I could (???). Yep: the battery was dead as a doornail, and Roadside Assistance sent the exact same tow company and employee that helped me before, which was only just: so I could be revealed as a moron. This time, I just had it hauled to the shop. Fool me two times in a row, and don’t bet money you won’t again.

On the plus side, one thing I miss about teaching high school is reading good lit aloud. I love the challenge of interpreting great writers’ work, and Nicole invited me to read some short stories from the New York Times’ “Decameron Project,” a chapter from Lawrence Wright’s The End of October, and a small bit from Gilbert Hernandez’s Ophelia: The Love & Rockets Library, Volume 5. At least I am good for one thing!

Streaming for Survivors:

Need some strong stuff? Me, too. Here.

Cloister Commentary, Day 37: So Long, Flo

We said a somber farewell to Nicole’s Grandma Florence Martinez, who passed away at the age of 95 yesterday. She was a strong, smiling presence in her kids’ and grandkids’ lives, and she will be sorely missed. Florence had a mischievous smile and eye-sparkle she would frequently flash that will last forever in my mind’s eye. I try to confront this mess we’re in with an even disposition, but the stabbing way it has robbed humans at the arrival in their lives of birth and death is especially cruel, and makes me just want to loudly lose it a little bit. Adam, Chrisy, Angela, Big Joe and Little Joe, and Cathy, we’re with you in spirit if we can’t be in physical space.

The highlights of a stormy day were simple: Frenchy Treats‘ delicious macarons, which we purchased at the Columbia Farmers Market (they really have their operation together), and a revisiting of a movie we have loved forever, Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. Did you know the title refers to a very close relationship, not an oppressed state? My interpretation is, you’re down with someone according to your own laws for a human relationship.

I also was very pleasantly surprised by feedback from two very amazing former students, Justin and Arianna. When you’re a teacher of hoarier vintage, who’s been away from large groups students of students for awhile, you can start picking at yourself, wondering if you’ve still got the knack and shouldn’t consider getting out before you overstay your acumen’s duration. For better or worse, you two, my hand’s still in the game thanks so much to your kind words.

I hate it when I forget to read. I didn’t even read the dang paper. I did read a student’s essay but that doesn’t quite count.

Used to be, the only time my nose ever itched was when my hands were in a soapy sink. Now, it itches every single time I really hadn’t ought to touch my face. I hereby dub this phenomenon “COVID nose.”

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

I’ve noticed on social media that this one of a kind album (even considered in this one of a kind artist’s oeuvre) has been landing in many friends’ lives lately. Perhaps it’s time for you to make its acquaintance if you haven’t already.