COLUMN 106, JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE COSMIC GOURMET
We were walking down Sixth Avenue when Dave Amram said
he wanted to get a cosmic gourmet delight.
"A cosmic gourmet delight?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said, "a cosmic gourmet
delight. I ask
for a cosmic gourmet delight and he gives me what he wants to give me
walked into Art Foods a concert of contemporary Delicatessen, the last of the
old-time Village Intellectual lunch hangouts of the l0th Street neighborhood
where Igor, who used to be a drama and music critic before the war, keeps his
library in the back booth. When
Igor's busy, he expects his friends to understand why he serves them last.
Amram immediately went behind the counter and asked three doctors and a
nurse from St. Vincent's Hospital what they wanted.
The doctors were wearing long, white coats.
"I played at the peace demonstration up in Central
Park the other day and they were throwing rocks and bottles at Senator
Hartke," Dave said. We were underneath the stage and I saw this sign,
'Overthrow The U. S. Gov?ernment By Any Means,' and the musician I was playing
with, Roland Mousaa, he's an Apache Indian, a folk singer---he said, 'This
doesn't look like a very peaceful scene to me, I want to go home.' So I told him
in this type of situation, the audience isn't supposed to make you feel
peaceful. You're supposed to make them feel peaceful."
of the doctors asked for salamis on rye. The other wanted a turkey on white
toast with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing. The nurse with them just wanted
a cup of coffee. She was on a diet. Amram immediately put the toast in the
toaster, picked up the telephone, poured himself a giant container of coffee and
dialed a number. He was calling
RCA, his record company, to ask when his new album was coming out. There had
been several delays.
As Amram was finishing a conversation in Spanish with a porter from across the street, the voices of Max Wilcox, RCA's Mr. Golden Ears, and Artur Rubinstein, the man who produces not
has learned to think
the Philadelphia Orchestra but also David Amram, began crooning into Amram's
ear. Max Wilcox told Amram they were trying out a new chemical ingredient in the
plastic for his discs and the album would be shipped the first week In December.
Amram said thanks and clicked the phone down just as the toast popped up
in the toaster.
"Conducting an orchestra and composing for an orchestra, you learn to
think contrapuntally like that," he said. "'That's the way you
have to live in New York. That's why I spend as much time as I do in the
country. It's the same with all the musical scenes in New York. I conducted a
choral rehearsal for a
concert of contemporary classical music and then I went up to hear Gordon
Lightfoot. There was a party afterwards but Bobby Neuwirth gave us the wrong address
and we kept walking up and down Central Park South until we ran into Bobby. He
said, 'Man, where you going?' So we followed him and ended up in a dead end."
Amram started making the two salamis on rye and the
turkey on white toast with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing. The three
doctors and the nurse gave a sigh of relief. As soon as they had been served,
Amram went back to the sandwich board and started loading a slice of
Pumpernickel with unsalted butter, Russian dressing, a slice of lettuce, two
slices of tomato, four slices of cucumber, some finely sliced onions, another
slice of rye, salted
butter, mayonnaise, tuna fish,
liverwurst---and then a slice of whole wheat bread spread with mustard, a dash
of pepper, sardines and anchovy paste. Amram
reason I seem to be so happy," he said, "is because I'm a really
serious person. And now, a great
many people in America, including young people, are getting very serious.
And that's true, you know. He
took his sandwich, cut it in two, put It on a plate, came out from behind the
counter and sat down at a front table that had just been vacated. The dirtied
plates and emptied coffee cups of those who had just vacated the table were
still on the table.
are really important to our society today," he said. "Music and all
forms of expression,
when they're done by people who are for real, are the principle means of spiritual
communication. Like Bob Dylan's
song about George Jackson is really important, not only because it's
beautifully conceived and performed
but also because its message will mean something to a whole generation who don't
feel that they're getting the news straight.
school and college I go to and every benefit I play, I try to show the audience
through my attitude towards the musicians I'm performing with that a lot of
people working together are more powerful than one person trying to take it all. That's
why I call my new album No More Walls. The walls that kept musicians
separated are tumbling down. They're getting united behind the responsibility of
keeping alive the spirit."
David Amram nodded for emphasis and then took his first bite on his cosmic gourmet delight. ##
AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP
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."
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