Friday, April 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band: A Memoir, excerpt two)

from Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon:

Jackie still lives in Malibu. Her husband, Bill, is dead. Maxie and her son, Mike, still live in Santa Cruz, but most of the others, including my parents, are gone. In the late 1980s, a short while after my dad stopped working, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His basic neurological functions began to leave him, one after another. At some point, my mom really wasn’t able to take care of him by herself, and she made it clear he’d be better off—in fact, it was his job and his responsibility to do so, she told him—if he went into a nursing home, which he did. My mom was tough and pragmatic, though in fairness to her, she didn’t have the money to pay for the twenty-four-hour nursing staff his condition required.

It wasn’t the Parkinson’s that killed him. It was the nursing home, where he contracted pneumonia, and then the hospital. A nurse, an old-timer who should have known better, inserted a feeding tube down the wrong pipe. But my family never sued the hospital, as by that point my dad’s Parkinson’s was so advanced it had taken away most of the person we all remembered anyway. In the year before he died, I remember how he never complained. I’m sure he missed doing things like cooking, and tending to his tomatoes, and playing with his custom-made smokers. I missed the father who’d given me a book of Emily Dickinson poems, sweetly inscribed, for my sixteenth birthday, even though I found Dickinson corny. I missed the man who took me to lunch at the UCLA faculty center, introducing me proudly to the people he worked with, making me so happy in return that he was my dad. During his last year I mostly remember his docility, his sweetness, his acceptance of what was ahead.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

the last book I ever read (Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band: A Memoir, excerpt one)

from Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon:

The band closed with “Teen Age Riot” from our album Daydream Nation. I sang, or half sang, the first lines: “Spirit desire. Face me. Spirit desire. We will fall. Miss me. Don’t dismiss me.

Marriage is a long conversation, someone once said, and maybe so is a rock band’s life. A few minutes later, both were done.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

the last book I ever read (Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh, excerpt ten)

from Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh:

Alone in your room, I sat on the bed with your remains. In the corner was your empty wheelchair and your guitar, your clothes hanging in the closet. It felt like it used to except . . . you were dead. I don’t actually remember you being there. Not like when you were flying around my parlor. It was real empty in your bedroom that morning.

I had a cinnamon Jolly Rancher in my purse. Bought a bag at the Atlanta airport and pitched all but one. Figured I’d trade it for a guitar pick, but I didn’t see any picks around, so I just left it on your pillow. “Eat candy, dammit,” I said out loud and then felt stupid. Too late to send you gentle into any good night, anyway. “See you in my dreams,” I tried and it sounded even dumber. I hoped that there was no one listening outside the door trying to make up their own last words to you.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

the last book I ever read (Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh, excerpt nine)

from Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh:

My bandmates and I pulled our van up to the sidewalk in front of Carnegie Hall and unloaded gear in the morning sunshine. Not a ton of gear; we were using house equipment as part of a gala dealie honoring R.E.M., who’d played an important role in our youth. Nice guys, too. Unusually nice. I mean, it’s unusual for musicians who’re more famous than others to not be vaguely focused on the area over your shoulder when you talk to them. The R.E.M. guys look you in the eye.



Monday, April 25, 2016

the last book I ever read (Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh, excerpt eight)

from Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh:

In Tucson, we played the show I’d promised you, at the Hotel Congress, with Howe Gelb and John Doe. You were not waiting on the sidewalk when we got there. Billy and I checked into our room—our very warm room. Felt like we were in Paper Moon. The Hotel Congress is without modern amenities, meaning, it is real and it is going-back-in-time and it is perfect. Our mushy, rainy winter-spring bodies were sucking up the dry Sonoran air, balancing. “I think my skin is smaller,” Billy said, pinching his arm.

“I’m gonna go find Vic,” I told him, “wanna come?”

Stare. “Nope.”



Sunday, April 24, 2016

the last book I ever read (Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh, excerpt seven)

from Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh:

A motel in Raleigh, North Carolina. Billy and I lay in bed, watching Holiday and ignoring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. We only had eyes for Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon, who played giggly, middle-aged professors. They lived in front of their fireplace in armchairs as far as we could tell . . . forever friends and lovers, forever telling time by the clock on the mantelpiece, for no other reason than that numbers are nice. No time in heaven, see. Clouds around the whole scene: their apartment building, their lives. A lovely limbo.

“That’s us,” said Billy.

“That’s us,” I agreed. And there was no time in that hotel room, even though numbers are nice.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

the last book I ever read (Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh, excerpt six)

from Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh:

You winked at me! And you were not a winker, but it was a winky moment and you captured it, which is just so . . . friendly. I try not to forget that wink because it was the opposite of so many looks you gave me over the years: drawn-and-quartered looks, tarred-and-feathered looks, beastly brains pouring out of your eye sockets. But I dunno, you were full of yourself, sitting at that piano in Ann Arbor, overflowing. So you winked at the only girl around: me. Barely a girl at all, just a road hog—hog child who crashed on your floor sometimes cuz my man and me always needed a safe house, a place to hide, and nobody but you and Tina would take us in and take care of us. But that wink meant it’s all a joke, so fuck it.

Of course, you were not The Singer. You deserve no credit or blame for what happened whenever you found yourself tuned in and turned on. But nobody does what you did; nobody can. You invented it and it died with you.