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Archive for the ‘David Albahari’ Category

1968_12_28-200SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (November 08, 2001).

horsetavThis is the final show for 2001 at the Rheostatics Live website.  This show is the second of eleven (11!) straight shows at The Horseshoe.  Since it was part of their Green Sprouts “week,” it is chock full of guests.

Kevin Hearn is playing this night (and a few others), but there’s also guest vocals from Sean Cullen and Gord Downie!

The recording is not quite two hours which I assume means that parts were cut off.  I mean, a Rheos show that’s under two hours during Green Sprouts week?  Unheard of.  Earlier that evening Bob Dylan was playing in town, so it seems like the early parts of the show were a bit quieter than usual.

The show stars with “Fat” which sounds like it may have been coming in from something else or that’s the intro music–hard to say exactly.  Then they play two new songs–“The Fire” (with a funny joke about someone’s folk apparatus (a harmonica)) and “We Went West.”  Then comes their first guest, Canadian comedian and songwriter Sean Cullen.  They play his Stompin’ Tom tribute/parody “I’ve Been Beaten All Over This Land.”

I love the version of “Junction Foil Ball” with th every amusing comment that a Globe and Mail reviewer described one part of the song as “a hippo jumping into a giant puddle of mud.”

There’s a very cool section that’s a Kevin special.  Songs from Group of 7 and Harmelodia: Boxcar Song, Landscape And Sky, The Blue Hysteria, Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun, Easy To Be With You, Loving Arms and I Am Drumstein.

Then Gord Downie comes out–sadly his introduction is cut off, so we don’t get to hear what they say about him (or the fan reaction).  They start in the middle of his song “Chancellor” from Coke Machine Glow.  Then they play “Canada Geese.” And then Dave asks if they can sing one of the Rheos’ songs (“sure thing, Tim, uh, Dave”).  Ha.  And Gord sings “Take Me in Your Hand.”

There’s a great version of “Stolen Car” and they end the show with three songs from the then new album: “P.I.N.,” “Mumbletypeg” and “Satan is the Whistler.” It’s the best live version of “Satan” that I’ve heard so far–perfect whistling, and they don’t mess up the fast part at the end.

I’m sure the other ten nights were equally great.  But this is all we have to close out 2001.

[READ: May 12, 2015] “The Cafeteria”

I read this story because it was alluded to in David Albahari’s “Hitler in Chicago.”  In Albahari’s story, a character on a plane is reading Singer’s book and the person next to him asks if he knows Singer’s story about a woman seeing Hitler in New York.

Indeed, in this story, there is a woman who sees Hitler in New York, so it was a nice full circle, and I applaud Albahari for playing around with an extant story like that.

This story, translated from the Yiddish by Singer and Dorothy Straus, is set in Manhattan.  The narrator, Aaron, has lived there for nearly 30 years–about as long as he lived in Poland.  He has many friends who he meets up with in the cafeteria.  They speak Yiddish and talk about the Holocaust or the state of Israel.  He looks forward to talking with them but he is a busy many (writing novels or articles) so he can’t stay too long.

Most of the people he meets with are men, but one day a woman, who looked younger than the rest of them, appeared.  She spoke Polish, Russian and some Yiddish.  She had been in a prison camp in Russia.  The men hovered around her, listening to her every word–she was surprisingly upbeat. (more…)

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harperioctSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Icehouse, Victoria, BC (July 18 2001).

ice-house-oyster-bar-tofinoAfter playing the free show earlier that afternoon, the Rheos played a show at The Icehouse that evening.  And it seems like quite a number of people showed up.  And they were not disappointed.  They also got to see Michael Phillip Wojewoda on drums.

Although the show begins with some slightly sketchy sound quality, it clears up pretty quickly.  This show starts with a bunch of great older material “King of the Past,” “Fat,” “Northern Wish.”  There’s an amazing guitar solo in “Christopher.” And “Fat” is one of the best live versions I’ve heard.

When they play “Four Little Songs” it gives MPW a chance to sing his bit.  But when someone requests “Guns” Dave says that MPW doesn’t do poetry.  At what I believe is a fan’s request, the play “The Pooby Song,” and then joke that they are going to play the entire Nightlines Sessions. 

Then they talk about Stompin’ Tom Connors and how they met a 65-year-old man who scares the Canadian into you.  This is an intro to “The Ballad of Wendel Clark” which includes two Stompin’ Tom fragments “Gumboot Clogeroo” and “The Ketchup Song.”  The seven minute version of “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” ends with a crazy riff and noisy drums–a rare jam section.  There’s more great drums on “Song of Flight” and excellent harmonies on “California Dreamline.”

This is a really fantastic show–one of their best.  And as Lucky notes the “Dopefiends -> California Dreamline -> Song of Flight -> Self-Serve -> Winter Comes Reprise” is killer.  The end of the show tacks on an amazing version of “Horses.”  But it doesn’t seem like it’s from this show.  The sound is a little different, and it seems pretty certain that the night ended after “Record Body Count.”  But who knows.

[READ: April 19, 2015] “Hitler in Chicago”

This short story, from the book Learning Cyrillic, is fascinating in the way it begins as one thing and then turns into something else entirely.  David Albahari is a Serbian novelist and the story was translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać.

As the story opens, the narrator talks about how afraid he is of flying on planes.  He would much rather ride by carriage.  Why is everyone in such a hurry, anyway?  But he needs to fly and so he does.  He pays careful attention to the stewardesses and then tries as quickly as possible to fall asleep.

On this flight to North America, he falls asleep pretty well, but when the book he was reading falls off his lap, it wakes him up.  His seat mate picks up the book and smiles.  The book is by Isaac Bashevis Singer and is called Enemies, A Love Story (a real book).  The woman says that knows Singer and asks if he has read the story where Singer met Hitler in New York.  He has.

Then she says,

“I spent a night with him.”
“Hitler?”
“No, she said, I would never have allowed myself such a thing.  I meant Singer.”

(more…)

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