Cloister Commentary, Day 98: Funereal Pianistics

Dad’s funeral. I’ve been wearing the same two dress coats for two decades, it seems, and my favorite of those was not perfectly appropriate. Turns out he and I wore the same jacket size, so I wore his classy, sober, grey one. I’m also one to get out of dress clothes faster than Houdini got out of chains, so when I got back I realized my Dead Moon t-shirt (the last clean one I had with me) wouldn’t quite work; I ended up wearing his Pitt State Gorillas t-shirt the rest of the day.

When we planned the service Monday, my mom was adamant it not be maudlin (her exact word), and that resonated exactly with my wishes. Talk turned to the music: no singing, please, but a pianist would be nice. Mom and the officiant had the same one in mind, as well as the tune: Englishman John Newton’s immortal 1779 hit “Amazing Grace.” They feared somewhat mildly, however, the pianist might exercise her apparently “jazzy” tendencies. That adjective means different things to different people. Turns out she stuck the landing: she coaxed the very familiar melody through, really, the multiple moods that always visit funeralgoers as they reflect on the life of the deceased. I, of course, had an ear carefully cocked to her shiftings, and my two favorites were “rollickingly sentimental” (which matched Dad’s feeling about being in the midst of big family gatherings) and “stunned and suspended,” which fit my own deepest feelings this week. For the latter effect, she gradually slowed down the melody until she was striking notes and letting them hang, as if they were transplanted from a Morton Feldman composition. Seriously, Charles!


All participants were masked, and in fact some very close friends of Dad’s who were at risk battled their wills and stayed home, with our full support. Nicole, however, captured the service on my phone, and after we stepped outside afterwards to meet folks, I used those absent friends’ need as an excuse to dip out of the post-funeral lunch (would have been my third round of fried chicken in 36 hours–I love the stuff, but…) and upload it for them.

Now for the tough stuff.

Note: I must add that I also discovered and binged the YouTube sensations twinsthenewtrend.


Streaming for Survivors:

Blues you can use.


Cloister Commentary, Day 31: “The Good, The Bad, and The Good”

The good?

Laughing our butts off at Randy Newman and his wife on CBS Sunday Morning (sheltering in place is bringing them spatial and motivational challenges).

Mixing a couple of tequila sunrises, cranking up the 2-CD Dead Moon compilation ECHOES OF THE PAST, and realizing we were fortunate enough to see the Coles play seven times, and get to know them. They have always been an inspiration to us.

A Zoom session with my parents Ron and Jane and my brother Brian and his gal Myra. We got caught up and enjoyed some great views of Dad’s belly (low-angle camera work). My mom is busy making masks for friends and my dad is out in the shop a lot. (See pic in comments.)

Mom and Dad

Nicole’s lasagna, made with fresh spinach from the Columbia Farmer’s Market–their operation is a model for these times. And doesn’t lasagna taste even better the second day?

Relaxing with a book, some music, and the windows open, and enjoying a beer on the front landing with our cat Tuxalini.


The not-so-good?

Neighbors. A neighbor of ours already had three dogs they insufficiently controlled, and they recently added a NEW dog and a cat that had not been spayed and now appears pregnant. Yesterday, they gathered in their driveway with (at least) four friends for almost two hours, definitely not practicing social distancing, sharing smokes–and allowing the new dog to run freely in the street (stopping traffic twice) and over into our yard multiple times, though IT HAD A LEASH ON THAT WAS APPARENTLY DECORATIVE. Upon the dog’s last foray, Nicole stepped out and asked them politely to keep their dog in their yard. Response: “I’ll do whatever I want.” Animal Control does not operate on Sunday; a heads-up to the authorities went unaddressed. That unnerved us for the rest of the evening. It is really difficult, sometimes, to sit with things you can’t control. We will get better at it, but Animal Control is now on speed dial.

The good–on the rebound?

Tyler Keith of Oxford, Mississippi, is one of the States’ last dyed-in-the-wool rock and rollers. In the Nineties, he led The Neckbones, which were what the first version of The Heartbreakers (with Johnny Thunders and Richard Hell in tow) would have sounded like if they had been from The Deep South. But Tyler, solo and with his various bands (The Preacher’s Kids, The Apostles), has continued to make barbed-wire, hard-hitting music that’s continued the Southern tradition, most vividly exemplified by Jerry Lee Lewis, of watching the sunrise with God and closing down the bar with Satan. He performed a Facebook live concert last night to celebrate the release of his new album (see below), and that rescued the day for us, in a way. By the way, the album is great.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

This album has always done us good. Perhaps it will do the same for you!

Cloister Commentary, Day 8: “In Vanessa Shanessa Style” (March 28, 2020)

As Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins would say, what was occurrin’?

An early morning nap.

Phone calls to cancel things.

A grilled cheese sandwich made with Blue Plate Mayo instead of butter.

Dead Moon, the Minutemen, Dramarama, and original garage rock blasting from the speakers.

Cats boxing 19th century style.

60% approval?

A board game.

More rain.

Mr. Show re-runs (oh, Senator Tankerbell…)

Thunder and lightning.

A late night power outage…

Power outages aren’t just power outages anymore.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: In their prime –>