Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The song “Apostrophe” by Frank Zappa was about a three-year-old driving a car. The moral of it was: three-year-olds shouldn’t drive. I was discussing this on stage with T.C., telling him I thought Zappa was a brilliant musician but a lousy lyricist. He wasn’t paying attention to me, instead chatting someone up in the audience. Later, we played “Mr. Mystery,” but it was J.T. on bass. For some reason I had set myself up on stage too far to the left, and by the time I began singing I realized I was in the wing, with a wall in front of me, invisible to the audience. I had some difficulty remembering the song. It was the first time we’d played it in a long time.

I was in college and had final exams coming up. One was about tomatoes and one was about film noir. I was hanging out with other students who seemed to be versions of people I actually work with, or worked with recently. We were all procrastinating. Finally I got up and went to study my tomatoes textbook alone, knowing I was completely unprepared, wondering if I could remember at least a few facts. Nutritional value, maybe. I wondered whether they contain folic acid.

My preparation for the film noir exam consisted of drawing a scene in very heavy, black magic marker. It depicted a man in a barren indoor space. I’d written the words “dark” and “terse” on it. I handed it to a friend and asked him, “This is all I need to know about film noir, right? That it’s dark and terse?” He said yes.