A Review:

Momentarily Yours

Larry Hosford’s New Release

By

R.E. Prindle

Here’s Larry

Larry Hosford has been singing and playing for the last fifty years giving him longevity to match that of the Rolling Stones and while he has a tremendous reputation on the Central Coast of California he’s not as well known outside his home territory.  I hope to introduce him to a wider audience such as he deserves.

Larry was a war baby born in ‘43 in what was then the lettuce capitol of the United States- Salinas, California.  Those unfamiliar with Larry’s extensive body of work will probably be unfamiliar with the Central Coast of California.  The CC is a fairly extraordinary area not only of California but the world.  Let me give my impression of the CC in the sixties when I was there as well as of Larry.

Salinas is the  seat of Monterey County home to the fabled Monterey Rock Festival of ‘67 that Larry may have attended.  Monterey lies due West of the better known central valley city of Fresno but on the West side of the very arid Coast Range of mountains.  Wild, wild mountains.  Today Salinas is a city of 150,000.  Back in ‘60 when Larry began his career it was much smaller.  The city lies athwart fabled Highway 101 with California Highway 1 a few more miles to the West.

You want to stay off Highway 1 unless you have time on your hands, a lot of patience and a full tank of gas.  1 is perhaps the dreariest and most isolated highway I have ever driven.  I have absolutely no desire to drive it again.  Forget The Graduate.

A few more miles down the road from Salinas is the town of Carmel that Clint Eastwood put on the map when he went political and became its mayor.  Hi Clint.

In those days, 1964, I had a job with a mortgage banking firm for whom I covered the entire Northern half of California from Fresno/Salinas to the Oregon border.  While the majority of the mortgages were in my home base of the San Francisco Bay Area I made the trip to what I called Monterey once a quarter.

At the time I lived in Larkspur in Marin County so it was a three hour drive, maybe four, down through San Jose and the town the Hell’s Angels trashed, Hollister, into Monterey.  I was listening to Country at the time so my radio was tuned to an SF jock whose moniker was Black Jack Wayne.  He was an odd duck Country announcer I could never get to used to but he was what was.

In addition to DJing Black Jack aspired to be a country singer.  He had his own label which ensured that he was recorded, and a number of singles all of which, apparently, can be heard on the internet.  Black Jack wasn’t deterred by a lack of success.  At the time, just after the Beatles had landed, Larry would at one time be signed to George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, Black Jack was pushing a young Buck Owens who he styled the Bouncing Beatle from Bakersfield.

After the Okie invasion of the thirties Bakersfield/Fresno became the West Coast center for hillbilly music.  Nashville in the East, Bakersfield in the West.  The area produced the great Ferlin Husky, Tommy Collins, Merle and Buck as well as the wonderful Rosie Maddox and her brothers.  Rosie and Cal backed Black Jack up on a couple of his efforts- to no avail.

Black Jack Wayne

Black Jack and his brother Chuck used to have a Country place down in Niles, one of the five burgs that later formed Fremont, called The Garden Of Allah.  Perhaps Larry played there.  Rough place, good place to leave a few teeth in the parking lot.

Black Jack was a big hero down in Niles.  I saw him leading the parade for the annual Essanay Days back in ‘59.  Niles Canyon was the location they made the Bronco Billy western movies back in the silent era.  Bronco’s company was Essanay.

So with Black Jack on the radio I planed down 101 at 85 per to Monterey.  It was always fascinating country.  Real wild west, just like Bronco Billy’s movies.  You could imagine yourself coming up behind John Wayne’s Stagecoach trundling down the highway.  It was a two laner at the time, probably four today, and almost empty on a week day.  I was almost all alone out there.  Sometimes my mind would plane along at 85 plus.

The mountains were just stunning.  Following the Salinas River upstream on an exploratory venture the road stood a hundred feet or more above the stream, head watered down by the mission of San Luis Obispo.  As it was Spring the river was flowing nicely above ground.  Later in the year the river becomes what is called an intermittent stream, even if you can’t see the water it’s still flowing underground.

Salinas River

I got out to admire the scene when looking down I saw a man coming out of his house carrying a shot gun which he proceeded to point at me.  The range wasn’t very good for a shot gun but the attitude was telling so I sauntered back to my car and returned to the valley.  Discretion being the better part etc.

How very hostile I thought to myself.

Given my job the scene down in the valley was hardly less hostile, in fact, one might say threatening- bodily harm and all that sort of thing.   With the imagined sound of a shot gun blast resonating in my ears I took these All American types more seriously.

I was walking a little lighter in my loafers but not for the reason you might imagine.  Still, I found time to wander down to where the river braided through the sands.  A beautiful sight that was.  I hope Larry enjoyed it as he passed his childhood hours down on the South Coast among the refugees from civilization.

Things weren’t much better down in Clint’s future bailiwick.  I was driving a white ‘63 Chevy that was a famous car among the deadbeats of the territory.  I seemed to be recognized everywhere; when they saw the car coming the alert was sounded.  Someone must have phoned down there to tell them I was on the way.  While they wanted to beat me up in Salinas and even Monterey, another tough town, all the Carmelites, being more affluent, wanted to do was call the cops on me.  A strange solution I thought when all they had to do was send the mortgage payment in.  But I was in high learning mode; it was sort of like Poe’s story of Tarr and Fether in which the inmates had taken control of the asylum.  Their’s was a different line of logic.

Larry was in good literary company in the area though.  Henry Miller, the famous pornographer, lived around there; Jack Kerouac spent some time around the area bounding down the hillsides to the sea, even Joan Baez had a place there where she was entertaining her brother-in-law Richard Farina and Bob Dylan, even at that very time.  Farina went off the road on his bike there ending his sojourn in the basement of life.

Oh yeah, and a few years back John Steinbeck had made his fame in the area.  Pulling weeds out there in the lettuce patch he undoubtedly looked at all that lettuce, thought of the lettuce the lettuce growers were making from all that lettuce and wondered how he could turn that lettuce into lettuce for himself.  Then as the unforgiving sun beat down on head he had a flash of inspiration, or perhaps sunstroke, and wrote East Of Eden about all that lettuce.  When he wrote it up he had a best seller that did make him a lot of lettuce.  Later East Of Eden became a very successful movie starring James Dean that kept the lettuce flowing in.

Those Old Lettuce Fields Back Home

Larry, of course wasn’t too interested in working the lettuce fields so he became a musician.  That was somewhen  about 1960 when he was seventeen.  He didn’t have to study the situation and agonize over it; he just picked up his guitar and began to yodel.  A great folk music scene was going on in Monterey as well as the rest of the country.  It was a folk singing time folks, Harry Belafonte, Chad Mitchell Trio, Lonnie Donegan, Bud and Travis and let’s not forget the immortal Kingstons among a folk singing host.  New Christy Minstrels, Jesus, let me tell ya’, all lustily singing This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land.  God bless that old folky Woody Guthrie, hey?

The Kingston Trio.  Boy, there was a blow that would getcha.  Who that was there wasn’t knocked silly by the great Kingston Trio In Concert disc?  No wonder Larry wanted to try his hand at folk singing.  Steinbeck’s Cannery Row had given up canning fish as that bank was overdrawn.  Now it was trying to be a tourist attraction offering folk music.  Very dismal looking place.  Lotta heavy overcast on the coast at Monterey, most days the sun didn’t even come out.  You have to cross that first ridge of hills to find the sunshine.

Kingston Trio

Folk music wasn’t that rewarding for Larry so passing through musical phases he found himself where he belonged, deep in Country music.  That was where I first came across him in my own record store owner incarnation.  The yo-yos at Shelter signed him and released his very fine record titled Larry Hosford aka Lorenzo.  His mother must have called him that.  Great songs- Long Line To Chicago, Everything’s Broken Down, memorable stuff.  Never could figure out why a good lookin’ guy like Larry didn’t put his picture on the cover, a sine qua non for  a first record.  Everyone wants to know what the artist looks like.  How else can you tell how good they are?

I tried hard to sell the record but with minimal success.  And then in the hurry and rush of daily affairs I lost track of Larry until just this July when Adam Zerbe of Carmel’s 4th Avenue Records asked me to write review of Larry’s new record.  I don’t know why me but, there you have it, Adam did.  That’s it.  Gosh, you know, when a guy’s first record tanks, as a record buyer you think the artist went back to house painting or something, like Arthur Brown did. But, no, fifty years later here’s Larry still strumming’ and singin’ with a new release.  I couldn’t hardly believe he was still alive let alone myself.  It’s not that the years aren’t stacking up.  Both of us have a huge pile, I’m five ahead of Larry.  I’ll give ‘em to him if he wants them.

Adam sent me a copy of the new release and I was surprised to find that Larry sounded as good as ever, maybe better.  The years had added a mellow richness to his voice and a couple hard bounces after the first kick have given him a certain understanding of the true nature of life.  I was, am, impressed.

It’s like the whole history of country music has been assimilated by Larry’s mind.  It is like listening to everything that was ever good about Country rolled up into sixteen little pills.  Pretty extraordinary.

I would have liked a little more of the Maddox Brothers and Rose in evidence but Larry leans more heavily to Texas music

Rosie Maddox

and especially the Western Swing of the great Bob Wills and Texas Cowboys.  You can hear a lot of Ernest Tubb and some of them other good old boys too.  Larry’s voice encompasses them all while having its own distinct Country twang.  A great country voice.  If he keeps it up for another few years he’ll be the real Voice of America.  I like the record, or CD.  Used to be records but time moves on and you have to keep your canoe midstream to keep up.  I’m tryin’ but I sure like the sound of Larry’s new record, er, CD.  Buy a copy and make yourself feel good.

 

A Contribution To The

ERBzine ERB Library Project

The Beau Ideal Trilogy Of

P.C. Wren

Beau Geste~Beau Sabreur~Beau Ideal

Review by R.E. Prindle

Part I.    Introduction

Part II.  Review of Beau Geste

Part III. Review of Beau Sabreur

Part IV. Review of Beau Ideal

      The first novel of the trilogy signifies a good, beautiful or noble deed.  The deed being the Geste brothers taking the odium of the theft of the sapphire on themselves.  The second, Beau Sabreur, meaning the Noble Warrior or Fighter.  The story then centers on its Lancelot like character, De Beaujolais with attention to the noble actions of subsidiary characters.  Hank and Buddy fit in as noble warriors also.  Beau Ideal then centers on the noble ideals that activate the characters and are part of Western Culture as against that the the others.

     I will put the dramatic first chapter second begin with the second section called The History of Otis Van Brugh, perhaps meant to be a Gawaine type.   Beau Ideal is Otis’ book as the first was that of Michael Geste and his brothers and the second that of De Beaujolais.

     Otis, Hank and Mary are brothers and sister with a last sister who remained at home in Texas.  Their father was a brute of a fellow who drove all his children from home except the last sister.  Wren himself must have had a wretched father because all the fathers in the trilogy are failed men, fellows who don’t have a grip on the meaning of really being a man.

     Neal, or Hank Vanbrugh, refused to put up with it taking to a wandering life.  On the road he met Buddy where they became pals ending up in the Legion.

     Otis and mary being younger subsequently left Texas to lead a peripatetic ex-patriot life of the well to do.  The history of Mary, Hank and Buddy has been given in Beau Sabreur.

     When Otis left De Beaujolais he tried to reach the French contingent in the fort.  Along the way he ran into Redon who filled him in.  Otis was to try to reach the fort to request them to assist a detached unit fighting their way to the fort.  He succeeds.

     In the process Redon diverting the attack away from the fort is shot by friendly fire.  Both he and Otis were dressed as Moslems.  Otis attempts to reach Redon but is shot falling unconscious outside the fort.  Thus when the French are massacred he is the sole survivor.

     He returns to England where psychologically shattered he is stopped by a policeman.  While being interviewed he is conveniently rescued by the leading ‘alienist’ of England.  Given refuge  in his asylum Otis discovers Isobel whose mental health is destabilized because her husband John Geste is in the penal battalion of the FFL.  She implores Otis to find John and bring him back alive.  Here’s a beau ideal.  Ever loving Isobel Otis agrees to sacrifice his happiness to go back to Africa to find John.

     What a guy!  Otis joins the Foreign Legion with the intent of being sent to the penal battalion called the Zephyrs.  He joins and succeeds in being sent to the Zephyrs.  Now we return to the opening chapter.

     Anyone who ever fancied joining the Legion, and the notion was discussed a lot down to the sixties of the last century when I was launching my bark upon the waters, should  have read Erwin Rosen’s In The Legion first.  The Legion was unconcionably cruel to its soldiers in everyday life let alone the penal battalion.  As an example, the Legionnaires complained of excessive marching.  They were required to do thirty miles a day carrying 50 lbs. or more with pack and rifle.  One really has to read Rosen’s description to realize the horror.  Those who dropped out were left where they fell.  Arab women found them subjecting them to horrid tortures.

     This became so common that the Legionnaires were given leave to slaughter the Arab women as a lesson.  This they did with a vengeance.  Rosen was shown a purse by a fellow soldier made from the severed breast of a woman.  Rosen said they were common at one time; an example of what  can happen when civilization meets savagery.  Civilization is lowered but savagery isn’t raised.  The Beau Ideal is lost.

     One of the punishments Rosen mention was called the Silo.  As he describes it these were holes dug into the ground with a funnel put where the victim had to stand exposed to the blazing sun during the day and freezing cold at night.

     Wren converts the idea of these silos into an actual underground grain storage unit capable of holding several men.  In his version the funnel was closed off admitting no light.  As the story opens several men are sweltering in the pit.  A Taureg raid was made on the penal colony building a road near the pit that  killed the whole contingent so that no new supplies were lowered.  The men are dying one by one.

     Otis is in the silo the next to last survivor.  He discovers that the other survivor is none other than John Geste.  On the point of expiring a scout from Hank and Otis’ tribe, or headquarters,  discovers the silo and hauls the two out.  Coincidences and miracles just naturally go with the desert.

     The scout take them to a member tribe of the federation.  Both are now wanted men by the FFL with no hope of salvation.  They have no alternative but to get out of Africa hopefully avoiding France.

     I can’t ask you to guess who was in the camp because you wouldn’t.  Remember the Arab dancing girl Otis met in Beau Sabreur?  She’s the one and she’s still in love with Otis.  Wren names her the Death Angel.  Wren was heavily influenced by E.M. Hull’s The Sheik.  Maud in Beau Sabreur was mad about sheiks, overjoyed when she won one in the person of Hank.  Of couse Hank was an American sheik and not an Arab one, much as Hull’s sheik was in reality half English and half Spanish.

     So, perhaps Otis and the Death Angel are revenants of the Sheik and Diana from Hull’s novel.  In this case the woman has power over the man but the sexual roles remain the same as the king trumps the queen every time as Larry Hosford sings.  If you don’t lose track of who you are it’s true too.  Otis doesn’t lose track of who he is.  Revisit the story of Circe and Ulysses.

     The tribe that rescues Otis and Geste is a rival of Hank Sheik’s but a subordinate member of the confederation.  Hank has organized a sort of United Emirates of the Sahara of which he serves as President for life but without any democratic trimmings.  In a parody of the Sheik then the Death Angel demands ‘kiss me’ of Otis.  He’s not so easy to deal with as Diana.  Even with the Death Angel’s knife at his breast he refuses.

     In the meantime the Zephyrs reclaim Geste and he goes back to his old job of building roads.  Rosen’s account of the FFL compares with Burroughs’ account of his army days.  ERB too was put to work building roads, complaining of moving or perhaps breaking huge boulders.  Both his experience and that of the penal colony of the FFL are quite similar to the chain gangs of the old South of the United States.

     Even when not of the Zephyrs the Legionnaires were given detestable tasks unbefitting the dignity of soldiers.  According to Rosen the men were required to clean out sewers in the Arab quarter of Sidi Bel Abbes.  That’s enough to make anybody desert.  And then get sent to the penal battalion. Crazy, crazy world.  Rosen’s In The Legion is well worth reading if you like this sort of thing.  Download it from the inernet.  Only a hundred pages or so.

     Geste then has to be re-rescued.  This forms the central part of the story along with Otis’ struggles with the Death Angel.  Hank and Buddy get windof the two FFL captives coming to investigate.  Otis then discovers his long lost brother.  It is settled then that Hank and Buddy will give up their Sheikdom to return to pappy’s farm, or ranch.

     Even though Hank and Buddy are powerful sheiks they are still deserters from the Legion so getting out of Algeria is a problem.  Rosen tells a story of a deserter who made it back to Austria where he became a rich and  successful manufacturer.  He made the mistake of exhibiting his manufactures  in Paris in person.  There he was recognized by his old officer who arrested him sending him back to Africa.  There he died.  So Hank and Buddy run the risk of being recognized and arested on the way out of Africa as well as Otis and Geste.

     Geste’s rescue is effected.  The quartet successfully exit Africa arriving safely back in Texas.  However the Death Angel’s help was necessary.  To obtain that help Otis promises to marry her.  He doesn’t want to but a Beau Ideal is a Beau Ideal and so he is going to honor his commitment. On the eve of departure the Angel gives Otis a locket she wears as a good luck charm.  Very bad move.  The locket contains pictures of her mother and father.  Otis examines the mother with some interest then turns his attention to the father….

     Should I ruin a perfectly good ERB ending for you?  Sure, why not?  I’ve got a little sadistic streak too.  Everyone was using this one.  No fooling now, the Death Angel was Otis’ sister because dear old Dad was her mother’s wife; he was known as Omar out there on the burning sands.  Well, there’s a revelation, not that keen sighted readers like you and I didn’t see it coming from miles away.  You can see a long way out there in the desert.

     Hank, Buddy and Otis’ excellent African adventure is over.  The whole episode was like watching a movie except real.  But, back in Texas it may as well have been a dream.  The old codger is still living as the troop of Mary and De Beaujolais, Hank and Buddy and Otis assemble at the ranch, John and Isobel are there too.  Sister Janey is still waiting on her father.

     Well, Hank has Maud, De Beaujolais has Mary, Geste has Isobel but Buddy’s staring at the moon alone.  Still there’s Janey and that’s a match made in heaven but Dad won’t let her go and Janey waon’t leave without his consent.  Otis intervenes pushing Janey toward Buddy then turning to face down his Dad for the first time in his life.

     Pop doubles his fist moving to deck Otis.  Otis holds up the locket like a cross before Dracula stopping the old man in his tracks.  Confronted with the truth the old fellow buckles giving his son the triumph.   So the Beau Ideal triumphs.

     That’s all there is, no more verses left.

Bob Dylan The Reactionary

January 14, 2009

 

Bob Dylan The Reactionary

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     As I say I haven’t listened to anything by Dylan since ’66.  Not exactly true, I have listened to and watched a couple of newer items on You Tube or wherever but I hope I won’t be judged too harshly on account of a chance listening like that.

     What I mean to say is a correspondent sent me a quote from a song called Highwater- for Charlie Patton.

     I’m more clear now on why I haven’t listened to later Dylan because I didn’t think the song was very good.  The Poet Laureate of Rock can surely do better than that.  The song was from an album called Love and Theft.  I’m not sure which half of the equation this song represents.

     As the quote has religious overtones perhaps my correspondent was reacting to the recent examination of Dylan’s religious attitudes  in the movie by Joel or perhaps to some religious essays on Dylan I’ve written like for instance, Lubavitcher Bob.  Beyond that I don’t know what he could have meant.

     From the lyrics it looks like Dylan takes himself quite seriously as a man in black.  I thought the lyrics were pretty nonsensical as represented by these three lines:

     Well, the cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies

I’m preachin’ the word of G-d, I’m puttin’ out your eyes

I asked Fat Nancy for somethin’ t’ eat

     Well, I’m not going to struggle too hard to unravel the deep inner meaning of those lines, let Charlie do it, but I am taking Dylan literally on the middle one.   As a man in black he is preachin’ some word anyway- G-d, the D-vil or somewhere in between.  Not always easy t’ tell.

     But back t’ the quote my correspondent sent that does have probable religious overtones.  Since it’s expressed so cryptically of course, it’s all deniable:

Well, George Lewis told the Englishman, the Italian and the Jew

You can’t open your mind, boys,

to every conceivable point of view.

They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway 5

Judge says to the high sheriff, I want him dead or alive.

Either way, I don’t care.

Highwater everywhere.

     In this song of unlimited non-sequiturs this verse can almost be read to make sense.

     In the next verse which may make it related, or perhaps not, Dylan says he’s a preacherman so we’ll assume Dylan is speaking Biblically.  He is a Bible scholar you know as well as a Lubavitcher.  Dylan always blazes new trails, don’t he?

     OK.  I don’t know who George Lewis is supposed to be.  There’s a couple Black musicians by that name so let’s assume a Black man is ‘tellin’ the Englishman, Italian and Jew what’s what.  Nobody can believe three things at one time so the wise thing would be to bet on the Jew if you want to win, win, win.  That last is a parody on a line or two from the old folk song Stewball for those who didn’t recognize it.  I almost didn’t.

     We will assume that Darwin and Evolution are meant by the Englishman, the Pope and Catholicism by the Italian while the Jew needs no explanation.  Might be Dylan, I don’t know.  Two, Pope and Jew, are religious while Darwin is Scientific  and his science demolishes religion.  “The King takes the Queen every time’ to quote a new folk song by Larry Hosford.  So the Pope and Jew are out to get Darwin in order to preserve their folly.  Thus they have Darwin trapped out on Highway 5.   Why 5?  Why not 61?  Dylan must have been cruising the highway from LA to Seattle at the time looked out the window of the bus saw a sign saying I5 so he said ‘That rhymes’ and put it in.

     Dylan trapped on Highway 5 is filler so to the Judge i.e. Biblical authority tells the high sheriff- high sheriff sounds real wild west, don’t it, I knowed you’d think so- he wants Evolution/Darwin brought in dead or alive. OK.  So as Dylan believes that the Bible is literally true and the veritable word of G-d proceeding from his own lips then it follows that Dylan is anti-Evolution and Darwin.  Must be or we’ve got ourselves a contradiction here.  Dylan is thus first cousin to William Jennings Bryan who persecuted Scopes way down there in Tennessee where they make that sippin’ whiskey.  Hence Dylan is a reactionary rejecting the truth, as Woody Allen would say, for G-d.

     Well, brav-, but a big raspberry for B-b if that is what he meant.  Who can say?  It’s poetry.  Of sorts.  A bigger raspberry for my c-rresp-ndent who should learn to say what he means without pinching his heroe’s words.

     Highwater everywhere.  He’s a drowning man.