Notes to Takoma C 1008|
The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party and Other Excursions
John Fahey, Vol. 5
A decisive young man, representative of his competitive environment that he was, lurched forward and upward from his aggresive, youthful xiphoid automobile and with a resounding,
sonorous voice he bellowed at the approaching declining gas stationman: "Hey, there, you
tell me something damn it. I hear that tonight, right here in San Bernardino, by God, a gala event is to take place; John Fahey and his Cajun Band from Los Angeles, with Blind Owl
Wilson, Anteater man and Tree Sloth man 1 are to inaugurate this evening's|
1. known also by his pseudonym, "Fermentation Man." Born April 12, 1941, in a brewery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, learned to play beer bottles at a very young age. Composed the song, "When The Sun Comes Over The Brewery," recorded by "Whopee" John Wilfart and His Orchestra, Decca, 28663. Plays beer bottles on this side and the reverse, "New Ulm Polka", and on both sides of OK 10450, "Gruss Aus Minneapolis," und "der Walz der Neues Ulm Dassein," von Hans Wilfahart's Concertina Orchester, im Minneapolis einge tragen.
festivities with a rare, public performance, courtesy of Ed Denson and his Intergalactic Fahey Supply." "WHERE ?," he shouted plangently, expressing quite intentionally the existence of a great cleft in the being of his knowledge; that he intended that this intolerable ontological / epistemic lack be quickly, and in straight-forward fashion eliminated from the burden of his Dasein servitude.
"Yes," whimpered the greasly, weasly old gasstationman, down-trodden product of his society that he was. "It is indeed true," he went on exhaling contains lead vapor, and with a beatific, lurid smile upon his pale and wanning countenance "Tonight," he went on, his aufheben gradually evaporating in the evening smog, "is the Great San Bernardino Birthday Party centennial / retroactive / anticipatory (Temporal proclivity, propensity and pro-basketball was somewhat lacking due to the intense heat of the day. It was difficult to tell present from future and past) celebration of the opening of the world's largest parthenogenic, anguilliform Radio Station, KROWELL which was founded, or is to be found, or something of the sort (I forget which) by our great Getchell." After he muttered these words temperately, he genuflected and began chanting somewhat phyrigianically numerous benedictions such as "Praise be to Denson and all of his Getchells, Linda and to her disciples and cohorts, Elfa-bent woman and the mole men. Praise be to KROWELL and to the top ten." Then emerging from his transcendent posture he continued: "The tamasha will be held right across the street there in the mirasma mexmarine. "
"Great Getchell," the positive young man halloed right there on the spot, and in the midst of time, wherever it was. "I want to film the party for my thriving young business enterprise, Amalgamated Associated Conglomerated Incorporated Company LtD. And, I am on time, as usual," he went on stroking the pelt of his pet Colacenth. "I film noteable personalities and their meetings," he went on melanthaceously. "I remember when Fahey first met the Getchell. I was a student at MIT. There used to be a song about it that circulated in oral tradition among the cohabs. The song was (perhaps erroniously or coleopterously) attributed to Fahey's authorship. I only remember the first stanza which was:
I met Linda Getchell, down at MIT
"The song," he went on with an air of colcothar and collagen in his voice, "was known as the 'Getchell Radio Station Song.' It was sung to the tune of 'Getchell You Can Roost Behind The Moon,' derived obviously from its Uhrform, 'Chicken You Can Roost Behind The Moon,' an antochthonic American folksong."
"I see," said the declining gasstationman.
As they looked across the street the aggressive young man directly perceived in straight- forward fashion (his epistemic induction facilities being conditioned by the body that he was a band of meager, measly mole men, carrying a maroon sign which stated:
THE PROMENADE OF THE GETCHELLS
"Where the hell can I get something to eat? ", roared the bold young man.
The august night was filled with marionated extoplasm. Fiery bulbus baloons exploded over autumn lawns. One could see that sparkling faces of the inhabitants of that quaint picturesque frontier town. Sky-rockets fell up in their brown shining eyes. Lovers walked hand in hand, the innocence of their sunny southern California Weltanschauung not allowing their aufhabens to be burned up like the leaves in the autumn wicker, gone like the soiled snow of an evil winter. It was a paning night of the hottest part of summer. More fireworks exploded like the sexual leaves of a red and yellow fall. The night was filled with open mouthed eagerness, like the torment of Tantalus. The season was hardly temperate.
The cold charred sticks of the Havre De Grace sky-rockets thumped down in dry meadows far away. Paper mache effigies of long forgotten war-heroes hung all around the mirasma mezmarine. The top ten boomed over a loudspeaker creating an impresionistic atmosphere as someone sang.
. . . working like a log.
The gentle night air caressed the evening smog softly and tenderly, reforming itself hodologically into new shapes and forms, somewhat colloidaly.
Fahey anebreated staggered onto the stage with his drunken troupe. The head Getchell, Linda, met them at the microphone and announced in her acrid voice:
"And now folks here is the one and only J.F. (applause) Thank you folks," she went on in a caustic manner. "What are you going to play for the nice folks John?" she asked tartly and in an anhydrous manner.
"Play?" he muttered somewhat obfuscated.
"Yes John of course tell all the nice volk what you are going to play for them tonight you know you're here to entertain the nice volk john now be a nice boy a nice john and tell the nice volk your going to play something nice for them."
Fahey looked dazed, disappointed. "But I thought you were having a birthday party," he groaned. "I thought you invited me down here for a birthday party - - - like the ones we used to have back home. I thought I was just coming to a nice birthday party. I didn't understand when the men. . . "
"Now John," interrupted the Getchell, "be nice and don't keep the volk waiting I had to go to a lot of trouble with Mr. Denson and the Hook to find out where you were hiding now don't act like a little boy now be a nice John and play some nice music for the nice people nice."
From behind Fahey, the Blind Owl spoke deliberately in a loud voice: "I! Don't! Like! This! Fahey!"
Anteater man continued:
Tree sloth man as usual refused to commit himself by saying anything definite. He started to adjust the hodological position of his beer bottles.
The audience was getting restless.
"No," Fahey went on dejectedly, "we'll play I guess. I guess we've just been duped again. I thought we were coming to a nice birthday party. I haven't been to one in so long. . . . No matter. OK folks." He managed to say in a somewhat more cheerful, if feigned voice. "The first song we're going to do is the Cajun Chauson de la Mardi Gras." (applause)
"Let's! Tune! Up!" said Wilson deliberately.
"Noitdoesn'tmatter." said anteater man. It's cajun, productofitsenvironmentthatitis. Itwillsoundallright," he mumbled.
Fermentation man spoke not, but continued fidgeting with his beer bottles.
"True," said Fahey. They began to play. The beautiful syncretic music sent the crowds into ecstatic paroxysms of delight.
After the song was over, Fahey, his dejection turning slowly into annoyance, spoke aside
from the microphone to the Getchell: "Look Linda, so you tricked me once more just to get
me down here to play for your friends and cohorts. That's ok, but it is a birthday party after
all, though with parthenogenic overtones. Nevertheless you must have a birthday cake. Do
you have a birthday cake?" he asked.
"Well, will you at least give me a piece of your birthday cake?" he asked.
"Of course I will nice John," she replied patting him on his head like a dog and winking at one of her feminine counterparts, Elfa-bent woman, product of her employment that she was. "Just play us another song nice John and I'll get it for you nice. "
Fahey however read this aside to the Getchell's cohorts to mean that she was not going to be true to her (?) word; that she was only attempting to supplicate his desire for the moment, with her (?) words; that she had no real intention of procuring for him a piece of her (?) cake. And to Fahey, conservative that he was, such trifles were most important. He, product of his upbringing on the green flowing banks of the Sligo River which ran through his fatherland far away, that he was, appreciated the old customs with which he had grown up among in his native Takoma Park. He longed nostalgically for occasional reminders of them, now crystalized in his mind in the form of a birthday cake, and one from Linda, who reminded him of much else. Just a little piece, to remind him of the old days before the 1927 flood washed away the old Fahey homestead on the banks of the normally gentle Sligo.
These thoughts were passing through his mind until suddenly he jumped up and with violent
brimestones in his eyes he yelled: "NO. You tell me one thing and do another you bitch.
You're not going to give me any cake. ("It'satrap," muttered anteater man. "I! Don't! Like!
"ARGHHHHHHHHH," Fahey went on.
Abruptly, and somewhat unceremoniously, all of the attendant mole men and other Getchellites scattered, her brave suitors, lackeys, cowards that they were, among them.
I want you to leave the stage John and never come back now be a nice John now calm down an go away and don't ever come back and bother me again with you. . . . .
"ARGHHHHHH, Fahey continued as he struck her with impassioned but considerate blows to the stage. After all, he thought, she was a woman (though with parthenogenic inclinations ), perhaps.
From his scabard he took his magic samurai sword and began hacking up the stage, microphone's etc, in a fit of drunken rage and of rellousage. The Getchell ran screaming from the stage, yelling at the audience as she retreated "get him get him kill kill kill." The audience, so used to listening to the Getchell over the radio (her New England charm had won them all over) and through subliminal suggestion which she had, through her broadcasts, implanted in them (to always obey HER) immediately advanced en masse upon the drunken Fahey. But Fahey cut them down row by row while Anteater man and Blind Owl Wilson hid behind him. Tree sloth man continued to play his beer bottles.
But there were too many of them. Luckily the Blind Owl saw a back exit to the stage and ushered them all out. Running down the alley, in the ensueing confusion, our heroes lost each other.
Fahey soon found himself lost, but looking at the stars he quickly ascertained where Los Angeles was in hodological relation to where he was. He attempted to set a path straight back to his home. But there was no path. Only moonlit desert. As he made his way through the crisp night smog, he said to himself somewhat autologically, "ah, once again, a woman posessed. And one that reminded me of homethings."
Wending his way through the evening rattlesnakes he was reminded of the verses of an old blues song with which his Negro nurse had frequently lullabyed him to sleep at night on the banks of the Sligo as she rocked him gently in his cradle:
Walking along in the dirty clay, (2)
As the sun came up in the morning, Fahey trudged through the sliding, grunting desert sands. Thirst and hunger overtook him, supplanted later only by thirst. But at the end of the day he approached the outskirts of Los Angeles where he saw an amusement park. The sign read:
Knott's Berry Farm
"Ah," he said to himself, somewhat reflexively, "perhaps I have found a haven of refuge or even a refuge of haven. Even, maybe, perhaps, I have found water."
He went in and amongst the throngs of pleasure seekers looking for water. Soon he came to the seal pond where he found himself posessed of an uncontrollable desire to drink and so he jumped in and began drinking of the seal-water. The seals were somewhat surprised at this and swam around him curiously.
But Fahey always managed to establish raport with animals, especially sea creatures for they were not malicious, insidious and cunning. And neither was he. They understood each other. "Ah," he said to himself, balneationally, "at last I have found water and I am among friends."
But in the crowd were numerous KROWELL listeners. The evil Getchell radio broadcasts reached even the outskirts of Los Angeles. A $1000.00 reward had been offered to any listener who brought in Fahey's carcass. The Getchellites soon spotted him and screamed "there he is, the bastard. He beat up our lovely Getchell." The KROWELL listeners, products of their reception that they were, quickly surrounded the pool and began chanting in the Dorian mode "Fahey, come forth."
They began throwing pavement and refuse at him. But the seals protected him.
And there in the midst of time, stood lonely little Knott's Berry Farm Molly, an employee of the park who worked among the berry groves, tending their sheaves by night.
"What a handsome man," she thought. "So masculine. I wish I could do something to help him. He might be nice to me. No one else ever has been. He looks so kind." But like a little girl lost in the woods, she could think of nothing to do.
Then thinking of her hebraic heritage she thought: "I wonder what one of the patriarchs would have done." Then thinking of her Polack descent she thought: "I wonder what Lawrence of Poland would have done. He, caped and with sword, would have charged forth bravely on his fiery black pig stallion and rescued the poor man, I'll bet, I'll bet." Then thinking of the Beatles, whose songs and motion pictures provided her with the only context in which she could think of how to deal with such (and other) matters wondered what they would have done. Then she knew.
"I will save him, I will, I will," she said to herself, and summoning up the courage of her Polack ancestry, and thinking of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, she forthwith entered the Seal Water Control Station. Quickly she adjusted the knobs on the huge panel so that the out- flowing seal water would cease out-flowing. At the same time she increased the influx of water as much as possible.
This caused the water level in the seal pond to rise quickly and soon the crowd of Getchell-lovers was besieged by a herd of mad seals who wanted to protect their new friend. Blood and gore mixed with the over-flowing sealwater, pavement and recluse. The Getchellites were routed. They ran, cowards that they were. And soon Fahey and Knott's Berry Farm Molly were alone in the moonlight, like two lost souls.
"I will save you, I will, I will, and I will, protect you," she said. "I will hide you amongst my berry flocks," his savior continued. "No one will find you there. "
"Thank you," said Fahey, feebly, as they wended their way towards the green follage. There, exhausted, he fell to the ground muttering, "thank you, thank you. . . . " and soon fell asleep.
She, kind little girl that she was felt his care and attended his needs in the ensueing days, feeding him milk and honey in her spare time as she protected her berry herds from the encroachments of the alligators who lived in the alligator farm across the street.
Fahey, upon arising one morning, now refreshed saw Molly running from a herd of alligators. They had learned that they would get more to eat in the long run if they did her in.
He quickly jumped up and ran into the path of the galloping alligators stopping them in their tracks . "Peace be to you and yours," he said to the scaly reptiles . "But eat no more of Knott's Berries, for in your own orthogonal reptile farm, there is food suficienteth for ten fold your number."
"Yea, verily, that is indeed rue," saith the head alligator to Fahey. It' s just that sometimes we like a change of diet. And we get tired of being cooped up in our farm. Many years ago we were taken from our homeland in. . .
"Speak no more of such things," Fahey went on. "The world is your home, and the climate is the same here as it was where you were born.
"Perhaps, there is truth in what you say," spake the head alligator. "Once a zen master came to us and spoke of such things. It was a very pleasant experience. His words were. . . . . . Well, it's hard to say what they were. But they made us fell very peaceful before we ate him. Yet I detect in your countenance great strength, and that I respect. Therefore we will not eat you."
"Thank you," spake Fahey.
"Besides, these berry sheaves give us diarrhea," the head alligator went on. "We will therefore come no more to bother Knott' s berrys. The people in the wax museum up the street might supply us with a pleasant diversion. We could chase them around when we get restless."
"A good idea," spake Fahey. "Now go in peace."
And they did. The alligators never came again to bother the poor little girl and her gentle sheaves.
A time to rest; a time to run. The entire farm had been wired by Silly James Bargrease for fear of infiltration by the viscous Fabian Socialists. The monitering system was rarely used for Bargrease's followers were falling off because of the insidious slandering which Bargrease received at the hands of the Fabians and the claws of the evil Getchellites. But one came every day or so, and one came one day, a bogus Bargreaseite, a spy from the Getchellites. And he heard Fahey and Molly talking in the evening.
The local Getchellites were alerted and that evening they came running through the sheaves trampling the poor follage herds under their evil cloven-hoofts, chanting
GET HIM! GET HIM!
somewhat mixoldyianically. Once again Fahey found himself on the run. "I will return, I will return," his voice trailed off into the evening smog leaving poor Knott's Berry Farm Molly behind with only a taste of honey in her mouth.
Fahey hopped a train and in a few days hungry and thirsty again found himself in Berkeley. Now safe from the Getchellites who seldom venturned, uninvited, into the northern part of the state, Fahey found his way to the central part of the city where once again he was befriended by an apparently generous person, Irish Setter Woman. She, recognizing in his countenance great strength and suffering, took him in. "Perhaps, I can imbibe some of his vital essence or overpower him in some way thus demonstrating to myself the realization of my Dasein." She gave him food and succor and got him a job at the local coffee-house, called the Jabberwock. But his thoughts frequently turned back to the quiet evenings he had spent making love with Molly at Knott's Berry Farm, caressing the now gentle alligators and caressing their hides as they swooned over him.
But a conspiracy arose between the evil Gar Fisch Man, henchman of the Evil Densons of the Underworld, and Irish Setter Woman. She jealous, he a paid man of Denson, both desired Fahey's death. Denson desired this so that the real Fahey would not be at large and thus jeopardize the Intergalactic Fahey Supply by making appearances thus competing with Denson's bogus Faheys.
Gar Fisch Man was a karate expert, and one night just before one of Fahey's sets he attacked Fahey with one of Fahey's coke bottles. Fahey was knocked across the table of Irish Setter Woman's lieterary agent. As Gar Fisch Man came down with his bottle for the final do- in, Fahey was saved by the normally gentle Jolly Green Giant who ran the place. Gar Fisch Man was inundated and relegated to the tomb of indeterminancy and obscurity but then he had. . . Fahey, unaware that Irish Setter Woman was in league with the Evil Densons of the Underworld, went, at her invitation back to her garage-house where she said she would heal his aching neck with an ice pack (pick she thought, ha ha ha). She cooked his supper and put rat poison in it. But Fahey's extra keen perceptive powers detected this ruge. He quietly left, a song running through his mind, a song which one of his pupils, Charley Patton used to sing:
My Beale Street Mana, gwine do like she say, baby. (2)
2. This song was recorded by Patton in 1929. It's title was "Minglewood Blues," and was issued on Pm. 12854. It's key verse was
When you go to Memphis, stop my Minglewood, baby. (2)
The genesis of the term "Minglewood" has been traced to the linguistic dislocation which occured at the hands of Mr. Mind during the second World War (see The Adventures of Captain Marvel, #36, June, 1941.) Mr. Mind with his bable machine first used this monstrous device on the City of Memphis. The verbal confusion which resulted from it is well known in the anals of the South. Ever since then Negroes and Whites have had a hard time understanding each other's speech, (as well as each other) Mind was finally foiled by Captain Marvel in circa May, 1945 at the close of the second World War, and was electrocuted in a miniature electric chair. A section of the city, known previously as Glingles, was now confused in the minds of the local volk (due to Mind's machine) with a portion of the first stanza of the ancient folksong, "Wormwood Flower:"
I will grind with my Mingles, swood graving glack bare.
The section of the city is still known as Minglewood (i.e., from Mingles, swood.)
On the street, Fahey ran into Evil Devil Woman, who had recently quit the Densonian organization and was attempting to lead a new life. She assisted Fahey to a private sanitorium where shortly before his release he recorded three of the songs of the present album, commemorating the recent events. (She also generously provided him with a guitar to play while recuperating, and the later recording session.)
"The great San Bernardino Birthday Party," is Fahey' s only programatic piece, composed deliberately during his recuperation. It depicts, comments upon, and celebrates the tragic events, the premonitions of disaster, the ride from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, etc. The final section begins with a tune he learned in Texas from Little Hat Jones called "Bye Bye My Honey Fare Thee Well" (vide. OK. 8815: "Bye Bye Blues," by Jones, recorded in San Antonio, Saturday, June 14, 1930.). The last few pitches, played in open G minor tuning (as is the rest of the song, with the exception of the Jones tune) is augmented with the use of a butcher knife (instead of the customary bottleneck) which thus produces a Hawaiian effect. The last six notes express futility, a hopelessness and general existential despair complicated by ontological absurdity.
"Knott's Berry Farm Molly" is played in standard tuning, key of C and D and is an attempt to express in music the personality of the gentle berry herd grover Molly, as well as Fahey's appreciation for her Polack domesticity.
"Will The Circle Be Unbroken: was recorded at Saint Michal's And All Angels Church, Adelphi, Maryland, in May, 1962 shortly before the great crossing over. The accompanying organist is Flea, now a prisoner of the "fellows" of the Church School for Organists, National Cathedral, Washington D.C.
"900 Miles" was recorded at the same time and place as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." The fIutist is Nancy McLean, presently a student at the Eastman Rochester School of Music.
"Guitar Excursion Into The Unknown," was recorded at the Alcatraz Apartments, Berkeley, California, during the summer of 1963.
"Sail Away Ladies," was recorded in late July, 1965 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The accompanying Veena is played by Blind Owl Wilson. It was at this recording session that Fahey was approached by the insidious Getchell in an attempt to recruit him, as a musician for her plans of world domination through radio broadcasting of hypnotic music. The result of this attempt has already been described above. This selection was originally intended for release on the Riverboat label. (Fahey Vol. 4, The Boston Period) but the tapes were lost in the ensuing confusion and hodological dislocation which followed the Battle of Boston. Epistomic disqualifications were rampant at the time. The Getchell transformation was just beginning.
The hymn, "Veni Emmanuel" was recorded at the Sanitorium at the same day as the first two selections. "Veni Emmanuel" is hymn number two in The Hymnal of Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, 1940 edition. The text states "melody adapted from plainsong, Mode I, by Thomas Helmore, 1854."
The Getchell still sits in her radio station broadcasting the top ten, waiting. . . . for revenge
when she will once again have a chance to do Fahey in, and to publically humiliate him. Perhaps someday she will have a change of heart. No longer a female Horatio Alger, she will approach Fahey with kindness. But then it will be too late. Fahey will never broadcast by her.
Getchell Radio station, down in San Berdoo