Lizette’s Conversation Club, Greenpoint Brooklyn
Introductions, Talking Tucson and Spilling Vodka
Lizette is a master of the art of conversation. Her intellect; Subversive Generation X, three levels of double entendres stacked like sideways smiles. Wild Hawk and I buzz in. Hawk with the introductions. I complement the digs. We vamp Tucson. Connections and Congress. Lizette spent time in the Old Pueblo, made a home there. Had family and friends and favorite dive bars in T Town. All traded for this glistening beacon of the East. This sweet Apple of the Hudson. This electric everything. This never ending something. This City that never sleeps but always looks like a million bucks. Gotham. God Damn. Go, Man. New York City.
Lizette pours drinks. Tito’s and Soda. My phone buzzes as the door buzzer rings and I reach for my back pocket and the front door at the same time and it nearly tears me apart inside as my Tito’s and Soda slips from my hand. The glass not breaking or even falling to the floor, but instead flipping almost gently onto it’s side on the kitchen counter and relieving itself of it’s responsibility as vessel, of its contents through and through: Tito’s, Soda, Rocks, Lime and all. Lizette takes the clean up. Wild Hawk takes the door. I take the phone.
Jordannah Elizabeth: Young. Black. Female. Writer. Fighter. Hawk was seeing Jordannah into Lizette’s as I was reading Jordannah’s text explaining that she had arrived and was out front. Lizette had finished cleaning up my mess, had poured me another drink and had now moved on to introducing herself to Jordannah and asking her what she would be drinking this evening. Let’s call it white wine. Jordannah surveys the room: spacious, open floor plan, minimal, comfortable. Southwestern aesthetic by way of Brooklyn art house loft. Places to talk. Room to operate. Names to remember.
Enter The Accountant…
The front door had not managed to close before another guest slid between its frame and into the picture: The Accountant. There was nothing peculiar about The Accountant. Nothing at all. Which seemed peculiar considering the circumstances and surroundings. He seemed at first glance to be almost perfectly uninteresting. Which, of course, peaked my interest considerably. I glanced his way and then, quickly and with little to no neck movement (in the style of western sharpshooters) I shot a glance toward Lizette. Her eyes narrowed wickedly. There was something about this guy that there seemed to be nothing about…
Jordannah was in town on a publicity trip for her book (Don’t Lose Track Vol. 1) She was doing a couple of New York appearances before heading off to Europe on a lecture tour. Her current focus, though, was the subject of under appreciated and overlooked African Americans in the world of Experimental Music. The Experimental Music genre in question consisting primarily of the Electronic/Modular Synthesizer variety of experimentalism, a subject I knew dangerously nothing about excepting that I had once mistakenly wandered into a Mills College recital and woke up some time later in a contemplative daze at a West Oakland house party. The Accountant was speaking now. He had come headlong into the conversation like an alien being who had never conceived of so much as music, asking questions simple and strangely hard for Jordannah to answer:
“What is a Modular Synthesizer?”
“What is modulating?”
“What is the nature of the Experiment. The Experimental aspect?”
“Is Experimental Music primarily electronic?”
“What about John Cage…?”
Lizette shot me sideways smile. I reciprocated. It was all a con. A conversational put on. The Accountant was well versed in the subject of Experimentalism. He fast pitched questions playfully. Slowly revealing. The cat nearly out of the bag. Pushing Jordannah deeper into formalist concerns and defining of terms. Never breaking character even in revelation. Jordannah volleying back but clearly off balance. Going for the phone now. Realtime electronic research assistant. She sees the twinkle in the Accountant’s eyes. He was taking her for a little ride. She smiles. The Accountant was what you might call an Experimental Human; he infused the spirit of experimentalism into his every encounter, into his day to day operations. He dressed as an Accountant to question assumptions and to slide between universes. He most certainly was not an accountant. The Accountant was an Artist. Life the canvas.
Leaving the faded Tie Dye City for the City Wire…
The conversation moved on to Jordannah’s recent return to her hometown of Baltimore from San Francisco, where she had been writing for several music publications. As Baltimore erupted in protest following the death of Freddie Gray, she felt compelled to rejoin her community, to take part in the reshaping of a city that needed all the help it could get. My guess is that she also realized that she had shown up in San Francisco a few years too late. Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall had moved south to LA. The Family Folk Explosion had disintegrated. The Blank Tapes were long gone. Michael Musika had gone north to Oregon. Jerry Garcia’s ghost was on vacation. People had eaten the Brown Acid. The party was over.
The city of Baltimore has hired Jordannah to teach underprivileged kids about art, writing, rock & roll, and the possibilities that life presents to the open minded and big hearted searchers of the world. She is writing books and writing songs. Making records and making moves. Book tours and LA Weekly covers lying in her wake. She has a mean left hook but it’s more for show. She is soft as a Billie Holiday ballad on the inside. I hand her a guitar and ask her to sing us a tune. She obliges my request and we listen to her song.
Sonny on mind. Determined to find…
Fryday had shown up during Jordannah’s performance and they were now on the couch holding conversation. Wild Hawk and Lizette were at the kitchen table unlocking the nature of art in the time of Digital Device with the Accountant. They were unfolding the post structural onion. Trading recipes for future ingredients. I was skating the outskirts of the conversation only half in it. My mind kept closing in on Sonny Santos. After finding the mysterious Sonny Santos tape in that south side Tucson thrift store last year I made a host of inquiries into his whereabouts in and around Tucson. Not much was known about him. Google gave me nothing. I called a few old friends at Crawdaddy and No Depression but they knew little. I had given up that he had walked off into Mexico and either died or else found Jesus in a handful of Magic Mushrooms in some half constructed tree fort in Oaxaca. Until I saw the old show poster in Chicago. Until the near miss at Fashion Week. Sonny was alive and well. He was fingerpicking through the apocalypse and I was determined to find him.
To Be Continued…