COLUMN 117, MAY 1, 2005
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Man, we're down here in Memphis doin' the first Memphis Blues Festival and
we sure would like some of that good red Leb hash y'all got there."
was a good ol' southern Huckleberry Finn clone, red hair, freckles and all,
from nooneknewwhere, Carolina. Who,
maybe was found at 14 sleeping in a Washington D.C. train station by a drunk
philanthropic State Department honcho. The
statesman took Tom home and raised him as a son.
Maybe he was. Tom rode the gravy train for maybe ten years, periodically
disappearing for three to six months at a time, until he lit out for New Orleans
with the 14-year-old daughter of a U.S. senator and got an APB sent out with his
name on it.
upon hearing of this problem, decided that the safest course would be to mosey
on home, at a leisurely pace, going up backwoods roads through Mississippi,
collecting blues memorabilia and records at the same time, along with some sweet
the way to D.C. they stopped off in Avalon, Mississippi, canvassing the Black
area, and Tom spotted an old gentleman sitting on a porch bottlenecking an
"I usta play real fine but
now I got me arthuritis an ah caint do so good as before."
put the old man in his car and headed for Philadelphia where he knew some
musicologists---the old bluesman was Gentleman John Hurt, long thought dead.
He dropped lil' sweetmeat off
at her father's, who dropped the charges.
"But daddy, ah love him "n beside ah done it with lotsa people, the
gardener,the chauffeur, an' some of your friends too."
was pretty cool in my book, plus I wanted to see what was going on in the
South, a region that I didn't know. The
civil rights struggle was going on full force and I wanted see what I could see,
to do what I could do. There was a
sort of Blues based renaissance that I thought might be interesting.
Tom seemed to have an endless supply of young tight southern pussy and
besides business was slow.
I caught a flight to Memphis and met Tom on Jefferson Avenue near Crump park.
First night we smoked some Hash, and I fucked this girl with tattoos
named Lydia ("Oh Lydia Oh Lydia. You encyclopedia.
Oh lydia you tattooed lady") on a levee next to the river.........BROOKLYN
DREAM TIME. Second night; more
of us smoke my hash and Tom gets laid.......Third more of the same......fourth
night ditto and I decide to import my own talent. So I call down Rosemary, a good "ol gal from Highlands, North Carolina, and the next day we
actually sell some hash but now the festival is over.
was great and pathetic as well, those wonderfully talented but now past their
prime black music-men who had waited so long---too long preserved by traveling
FSA ethnographers during the Great Depression and then forgotten by those who
came after. I'm
losing money. Rosemary was
due in two days. We had
nuthin much to do and Tom says "How'd ya like to hustle the Delta for old
music stuff with me tomorrow?"
day found us in Tom's VW, D.C.plates, heading into Ol' Miss. We crossed the
bridge into Mississippi and as we passed the "WELCOME TO MISSISSIPPI"
billboard, a state trooper comes motorcycling out.
are you boys doin in Mississippi?"
jes passin' through collecting black folks' music. They sho' (Tom was
laying it on thick) do make fine music.."
I'm sho' glad to hear that y'all er jes passin through.
Ah hyah the nigras in awkansaw (he was thicker) sho do make some fine
music. The bridge to Awkansaw is
awfacer, we sho' do appreciate yawr good advice, suh."
we crossed the Arkansas Bridge, Tom turned to me.
saw you're a yankee by your clothes. We
gotta dress you better."
we stopped off in the outskirts of West Helena, Arkansas at "Chang's General
Store: Alcohol, Firearms and Provisions"
Chang's General had two front doors.
One was marked "Whites only"; the other "Colored and Orientals."
Mister Chang had to enter through the "Colored and Oriental " door.
we pulled up we crossed paths with an old Chevy station-wagon pulling in next to
us. The car looked mean and rough,
the driver meaner and rougher. Six
feet tall, thin, wiry, eyes so pale blue that you knew no color survived here.
He followed us into the store and started writing a list that he gave to
the black clerk.
found some used workman clothes, including a Texaco filling station outfit with
'sARGE" embroidered over the pocket, and headed for the cash register.
As I got to the register "blue eyes" stepped up in front of me,
pulled a long barreled .38, put it under my neck and said, "Watcha doin hyah
I'm not jumping the line on you, sir."
grabbed me by my hair, "You sure got long hair."
grabbed his hand and pulled it off my head.
Tom jumped in.
down here collecting old black folk phonny graff records.
Buy em fo' fifty cents. Sell
em fo twenty five dollas. Workin
our way through school."
black clerk leaned over the counter. "I
think that you better put that gun away, sir"
a pretty big gun, ain't it, boy."
sir, but I've got one home just as big."
Tom explained to
me that blue eyes was a Mississippi dirt farmer and therefore not allowed to
punish an Arkansas "darky'"..States Rights.....but could report the
behavior to the local white citizens council.
Mississippi was a "dry" state and blue eyes was in Arkansas buying hooch to
smuggle back, this was not advisable. He could shoot us, though, but he would
lose his stash and wouldn't do that.
Besides, he was just "funning".
Then this southern psycho turns to me and says,"Hey any a yew fellas
ever take that LBD stuff" (
HUH "??) Ah done read all bout that
stuff in the Satday evnin' Post an sho do sound crazy."
brightened like a winner. I could
feel the tension rolling right off him. MAN
WANTS DOPE....WHY YOU DONE COME TO THE RIGHT PART OF TOWN.......STEP INTO MAH
sho nuff have done that sir. Evry Friday night boys in our Frat house---FRAT
HOUSE....TOM IS 32 YEARS OLD....BUT THEN AGAIN MAN WANTS DOPE WILL BELIEVE
ANYTHING!---chip in and buy that stuff...hire in some dark poontang an do it all
weekend. Stuff gits yer pecker up
better "n two quarts a bourbon. Caint
hardly get it down for two days. Them
darkie gals sho do earn their five-dolla bill."
Eyes perked up like like a houn' dawg smellin' possum.
let me interdoose mahsef. Names
Gerald Malinger an ah owns fifty acre an a duck pond down the road.
Next time you boys pass by this way you bring me some a that stuff n
we'll sit on my back porch n shoot some game.
You'd be supprised what you kin find bottom a my duck pond."
after assuring Mr. M that our very next acid trip would be with him, I changed
into my new down-home outfit, and we took off for West Helena, Arkansas.
riverboat town, typical southern medium size...divided into sections: rich
white, po'white, main street shopping and courthouse, railroad, black and
shantyville black. People on the
street (mainly white) minding their own business. We made the pro forma visit to the local "Music n Victrola"
,we aint got none a those old nigra music left.
German fella come round bought up all we got.
Pay me dolla a piece sell em for ten.
I reckon got some old Bing Crosby singin White Christmas if'n
y'all want. Wouldn't go down to nigraville if'n I were you.
They got nuthin anyhow."
always say that. Tomorrow he'll send his clerk down there to buy up at a
dime a piece."
was getting to be late in the day so Tom brought us into the black barber
shop---Queen of Sheba's Pomade:
straightens nappy hair and
informed the folks that we would be paying Fifty cents a piece for "Ol'
timey phonny graf records." "You
know the big black ones with the little hole."
so the folks know that we ain't intergrating (and they don't sell what they
have for ten cents to the music store), on the way out of town we stopped off at
the town pharmacy and lunch counter.
(Whites Only) Got ourselves some Arkansas Razor Back Hog Bacon and Tomato
sandwiches---which are the best in the world---chatted up the cutey-pie soda
jerk, Miss Hawg Caller Queen 1963.
come up to Memphis. You are model material for sure.
My friend here in the Texaco work shirt is a world famous
photographer," And so on.
back to Memphis and Rosemary. Rosemary's
bus came in late the next day and by the time she unpacked and knocked off a
couple bum-fuck quickies, it was past noon.
Rosemary was a farm girl and her sex education came from observing the
beasts of the field. Rosemary's
previous and only boy friend had been convicted
for bestiality---chicken fucking---and was called the "pluck n fuck
kid." When the judge asked him how he could do such a thing, he
knock it until you tried it yo'sef," and drew a max nickel (five years).
myself once met a guy named Pigfucker Mc Duff Junior.
It seems that Pigfucker's dad was doing time in Folsom State Farm,
which had a piggery. Senior fell in
love with this three hundred pound sow named Mable.
Unfortunatly Mable decided to sit down at an inopportune moment, pinning
punishment, the warden changed Henry Mc Duff to
"Pigfucker Mc Duff" and Henry was called Pigfucker ever after.
He liked it so much that he named his first-born Pigfucker Jr. So it goes.
with Rosemary was somewhat adventuresome but fun nevertheless.
She quacked like a duck. I guess that's what turned her ex on.
We got to West Helena late that afternoon and started canvassing the
better-off black section. Tom
taught us The Drill and we spent the afternoon canvassing, to no avail.
would walk the street and if we saw an old Black Lady rocking on the porch,
we'd approach her and say, "Howdy ma'am, how are you today?"
I'm jes fine, suh, and how are you?"
I'm jes fine, thank you Ma'am. Maybe
you're wondering what we're doin' here......"
we're here to help you change some of your old throwaways to money.
We're lookin to buy some of those old time phonny graf records. You know the big black ones with the little hole.
Blues fellas like Charley Patton "n Robert Johnson.
Pay you good money for what you got in your attic collectin dust.
Maybe fifty cents apiece."
the lady would shake her head and say:
I'm sorry that I caint help you. We
used to have a whole bunch of those fellers.
Folks that me and James, he's dead now, danced to when we were courtin
before we got married but the chillun moved to Dee Troit after they was growed
and took some with them and when the gran chillun came down to visit they took
the rest and scaled em across the lake. I
do have some Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.
You look peeked. Would you
care for some lemonade?"
we would move on.
was starting to get dark and we were hungry and tired so we decided to have a
last BLT and chocolate malted and head for home.
We stopped off at the day before's luncheonette.
Miss Home Coming Queen was agitated.
nice fellers. Maybe I'll get in trouble but they got a roadblock set up
outside of town. Take the back
we hit the street we noticed that it was deserted, empty of people.
go fast," Tom said. "It's real bad trouble."
jumped in the car, me driving, Tom and Rosemary in the back seat.
Tom said if they saw a southern girl sitting with a Yankee, they might
get offended, but if they were two southern kids out for a good time we stood a
on I discovered that they would be more likely to shoot a single person driving
in the front then someone sitting with a Southern Lady. I took my Randal Bowie Knife out of its sheath and laid it
beside me on the front seat. Twilight
was falling. We got about five
miles out of town when we got jack-lighted from the back and blocked in front.
Deputy sheriff: Flashlight in my face, then Tom's and Rosemary's, then
back on me and then on the knife.
folks are going to come along with me. That
it's not officer. I know the law. I
wouldn't break the law in your state."
both knew the law. You could carry a knife in Arkansas. Not taken aback,
I think it's illegal. So we're going to the Station house and find out."
drove back to town. He took the knife into the station house telling us to wait
in the car. He came back an hour
later: it was night---dark!
knife's alright but you must keep it in your glove compartment out of sight.
Knife like that might frighten somebody."
put the knife in the glove compartment.
have a nice night. Drive careful."
drove off. When we were out of
sight, I took the knife out of the glove compartment and laid it, in plain view,
on the seat next to me. We drove about a mile. Road
Sheriff....Flashlight in my face and then on the glove compartment.
right here officer. In plain view. Carrying
a concealed weapon is illegal in Arkansas."
careful and don't come back."
did, we didn't.
had bought this old Chevy in Bryson City, an old thunder-roader---'56 Chevy
hemi, 365 cc. Could get up on
its hind legs and whup the shit outta any V8 Ford.
Drove Rosemary back to Highlands. I
could tell ya some stories about that Chevy.
It only had 97 thousand miles on it---according to the fella in the straw
hat who sold it to me for a hundred odd bucks.
the way, we stopped off at the State Fair in South Carolina.
I got hassled by three young black militants because I was white.
So after being close to killed by white bigots, and beat up by black
bigots, I decided to take refuge a while with Tom at Cliney Lee's Blues
Commune in Whittier, North Carolina about twenty miles or so from Highlands,
adjoining Cherokee Indian Reservation in the heart of The Smokies.
commune thing was just getting under way in America at that time and Cliney Lee,
descendant of the aristocratic Lees of Pennsylvania had established this
farmhouse music commune in one of America's great but forgotten areas:
Appalachia, a section of America famous for rebellion, tolerance, music,
bootlegging hooch and feuds.
THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS THEY WERE FEARLESS MOUNTAIN BOYS??"
a week at Cliney's dropping acid and turning on the crew, I got THE MESSAGE
we like you but having you in a cabin is like having a 16-man marching band in a
I decided to leave. But before I went, I figured to register the Chevy in
Georgia, which then allowed out-of-state mail-in auto registration and had no
compulsory auto insurance laws. Highlands, N.C., where Rosemary lived was on top
of a mountain. Macon, Georgia was
at the bottom so after breakfast at
Rosemary's restaurant, I drove down to Macon to register the Chevy.
top to valley, the American south, pleasant
temperate to beastly torrid, back of neck sweaty gnat bites, Pastoral
scene of the solid south/ The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth.
town square: confederate flag, courthouse, loafers, statue of some Johnnie Reb
slaveholder general, sword in hand, facing north.
I pull up into a parking spot and enter Motor Vehicle Office:
10AM to 12--2PM TO 5."
is 2:15. Over head fan, peeling
green paint, shirt sleeved clerk, beady eyes, pale blue. Did they all have the
can ah do fer you?"
inquiry, not a question.
come to register my car."
register your car unless you have a residence address in Georgia."
got a residence. 115 Patillo Way Emery,
outside Atlanta. My son lives
go there. It's a different
the same state and the law says that I can register my car anywheres in the
don't know that law besides the office is closed.
Come back tomorrow."
up "closed" sign. Slams locket window.
the street. Get in car.
OH, OH. DEPUTY SHERIFF WITH HAND ON .38 CALIBER S&W.
officer. Did I do something wrong?"
find out. License and
hand this scum bag with a badge and gun my papers.
He takes out an unofficial note book with handwritten notations, and
grubby finger at point, goes down a list of names.
No Nate Fitts. Humorless
you ain't done nuthin---YET. Gonna
make sure you don't. Git outta my town."
the speed limit, officer?"
miles per hour."
driving at 34?"
idea. Don't come back."
I got back to Cliney's, there was a message from Black Star: could I stop off
in Frankfurt, Kentucky, where they were burning Beatles records because John
Lennon had insulted Jesus?
whole country's going nuts---I'm getting out," I decided.
was ending. I had a bit of
cash---which I figured to invest in hash and acid---and then drive out to the
west coast, double my money and winter in Ol' Mexico.
So, I called Rosemary and she's up for it.
Rosemary. We can share the
I'm real bored here."
FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK
"A masterpiece!" --- SALLY GROSSMAN, widow of Bob Dylan's brilliant original manager, Albert Grossman.
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Duritz (he's the lead singer and writer for the famed
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. .It is a fascinating, insightful read. You are such a wonderful
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"I could not put this book of yours down for a minute."---ED GALING, POET LAUREATE OF HATBORO, PA.
"Quite simply, Al Aronowitz is a living legend"---JOHN FORTUNATO, THE AQUARIAN.
"Every student and fan of The Beat Generation, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones will want to read this book"---RON WHITEHEAD, POET
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BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, VOLUME ONE OF THE BEST OF THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST
The sometimes scattered chronicles of
the rock journalist's friendship with a few of the most recognizable music icons
in rock and pop history.
certainly takes a bit of hubris to say that "the '60s wouldn't have been
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But coming from Al Aronowitz, the former music columnist for the New York
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sentiment is perhaps justified.
Here, in a compilation of many of his unpublished manuscripts, Aronowitz
describes in candid yet affectionate detail his friendships with Bob Dylan and
the Beatles. As
a music writer and fan who recognized the musicians' limitless potential early
in their careers, Aronowitz decided to bring them together for the first time,
in a New York City hotel in 1964, a meeting that also involved the Beatles'
introduction to marijuana. His prescience was soon bolstered by the 1965
releases of Dylan's Highway 61
the Beatles' Rubber Soul, both seminal albums that altered the landscape
of pop music. This
landmark moment is just one of Aronowitz's colorful memories and musings of
being a hanger-on with these legends and their associates, including The Band,
Beatles manager Brian Epstein, poet Allen Ginsberg, deejay Murray the K and
provocative are the accounts of Dylan's erratic behavior and short temper, which
often led to fitful confrontations and even the ending of friendships, including
that between Dylan and the author.
It's also evident that Aronowitz was particularly fond of George
Harrison, and the two remained friends until Harrison's death in 2001.
Most remarkable is the close proximity he maintained to these gods,
whether he was at their homes, hoteI rooms, recording studios, or concerts.
Though his personal life certainly had its share of woes (particularly
bankruptcy and his wife's death), Aronowitz exhibits a marked sense of
pride---and rightly so---for playing a key role in music history,
An enticing backstage pass to the meeting of arguably the two most influential acts in rock history.
"BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES: Volume One Of The Best Of The Blacklisted Journalist is a golden stash box of Al's You-Are-There history of two thirds of rock's Holy Troika"---MICHAEL SIMMONS, LA WEEKLY.
". . .Amazing stories in this book" ---JAY LUSTIG, NEWARK STAR LEDGER
". . .Aronowitz has a place in the annals of history that nothing can erase"---DAVID DANKWA, GAZETTE LEADER
". . .Aronowitz has a simple, straightforward writing style that makes the reading go fast. . ."---JEFFERY LINDHOLM, DIRTY LINEN
"Aronowitz. . .witnessed things that most rock fanswould give an arm and a leg to see"---REGIS BEHE, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW
"The best of Aronowitz's writing. . . offer riotous and rambling time capsules comprising detailed vignettes and told in a voice that's direct, disarming and self-deprecating"---MIKE MILIARD, BOSTON PHOENIX
". . .Addictive reading" ---GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
you are truly interested in the 'behind
the scenes' events of people who spawned an entirely new direction in the time
we identify as the sixties, this book is truly for you!"---JOHN
IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM," TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
AND HERE'S ANOTHER BOOK BY AL ARONOWITZ!
THE MOVIE WAS FICTION. THE TRUE STORY IS STRANGER THAN FICTION: FOR MOST OF HIS SHORT BUT SPECTACULAR LIFE, BOBBY DARIN UNKNOWINGLY LIVED A LIE
". . .A highly entertaining and informative read"--HAMMOND GUTHRIE, THE THIRD PAGE
". . .Its 43 chapters provide snapshots of Darin's brief, sensational life>" ---GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
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