This is one of the most famous songs certainly by Pink Floyd on one of the most popular album s of all time. So how do you cover it? You can’t lose the bass line, it’s way too important to the song.
But aside from that the song is pretty different–the vocals are machine tuned almost out of recognizability. And that’s when you realize that although this is a pretty faithful cover, it’s also a goofy cover. Not silly, not really disrespectful but not entirely right either (notes are out of tune and flubbed). It’s very mechanized, as if they are talking about the auto-tuned nature of making hit songs.
Henry Rollins takes the roll of the random punters ranting at the end of the song, and that’s pretty fun.
The whole thing is kind of a trifle. It works better in context of the album because you can understand what the group is doing. On its own it’s a bit of shock.
[READ: Week of July 9, 2012] JR Week 4
This week continues where last week left off–in the middle of trying to get Dan to convince Ann to drop the lawsuit against the school (for firing Bast). Whiteback tries to speak for Vern, but Vern will have none of it–Whiteback, despite being president of the school and the bank, is proving to be more and more of a pushover as the story goes along.
Vern gives his take on the school:
The function of this school is custodial. It’s here to keep these kids off the streets until the girls are big enough to get pregnant and the boys are old enough to go out and hold up a gas station, it’s strictly custodial and the rest is plumbing. If these teachers of yours strike just sit still and keep the doors open, by the time these kids have been lying around the house for a week their parents will march the teachers back in at gunpoint (226).
Dan interrupts the proceedings to talk to Whiteback about his mortgage (Vern magnanimously tells Dan to go ahead and conduct personal business during work hours). Dan’s mortgage is not working out so well because the studs in his house are too far apart–causing it to be less insurable and causing him to pay a lot more. When Whiteback commends Major Hyde’s house for being spectacularly built Dan says that he was surprised to see that Hyde was moving. Hyde doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Dan tells him that there was a moving van in his driveway taking all of his things out. There’s some chaos (and a stolen car) when JR comes in and tells them that Buzzie (who was sent down for possession) has taken off down the hall.
They tell JR to get the hell out of the office (he wants to use the typewriter). JR and Hyde’s son are upset that the new phone booth hasn’t been installed yet. When it is finished, JR calls the Bast residence (talking into a handkerchief) and Edward’s Aunts blow him off (but think he had a very strange voice). We focus on the Aunts again. They are upset about the crazy phone calls they’ve been getting–who was the first president? She said Lincoln and still won a prize. They agree that Edward was supposed to sell their stock of AT&T.
And then they realize that their front hedge is gone. This is a subplot that I have yet to really digest–strange goings on around their property. They claim that a religious group is looking to take over their house/yard–a group asked if it was for sale at one point and in the beginning of the story they heard the sounds of saws. Now their hedge is gone. Something is up but I have no idea what (and I don’t think we’re supposed to yet). Ann suggests they call the police but Julia disdainfully comments about what a mess they made in James’s studio that night that Mr Angel was out. They say that Mr Angel has called back but they’ve gotten nowhere with Edward’s case–and the ladies are unsurprised since it is they who opened the case in the first place. And a woman calling herself Ann (DiCephalis) called to tell Edward to look in the paper for information about the strike on his behalf (but the aunts saw nothing).
They speak ill of Stella again and say that the only reason Mr Angel married her was for the money (and those 23 shares) [Amusingly, I am now watching Arrested Development again and there's a big fight over the number of shares in the Bluth company, with Lucille II now having controlling ownership of the family business]. They state that the Aunts & James have 27%–Stella is to get 25% from the estate. But they also think that Stella is smarter than she lets on, especially the way she was grilling them about Nellie’s death. (Are the aunt’s more competent or more paranoid than they seem?).
They got a letter in the mail that said they sold 1,086 shared of AT&T at 44 (which would give them $47,000), but the other day they counted only 170 shares with Edward. Then it says they that bought (spelled bot) Quaker Oats, Ampex, Diamond Cable, Detroit Edison. They also received a tax assessment for a new sidewalk (the Church and their bingo people are behind it). Also The Foundation (Whiteback) called to tell them that they have once again rewritten a new check for Edward and they hope he hasn’t been inconvenienced.
The scene shifts as Mrs Joubert comes into Mr Whiteback’s office to talk about the 8th grade field trip tomorrow (Saturday). He mentions the lost child from the last trip (“We probably would have heard from the parent by now” (237) and the ticket overages which they still haven’t recouped. Mr Whiteback gets a call from Leroy who says that all of the forks that came in have disappeared. Whiteback never saw it in the budget and is now afraid it must have been a federal donation. And if they’re turning down a federal donation they might miss out on further funds. Then there’s a comment about them not even having a rifle club (so JR must have gotten bullets from the NRA).
Finally, he gets a call from Father Haight at Holy Name. Haight is supremely angry that Whiteback’s school took over the front page with the story of the accident when the Father’s school was supposed to be on the front page for their new plumbing (uh tv) facilities. The accident was car accident with a youngster who had seen the drivers ed video and was driving. Whiteback tries to apologize for this (which is absurd) and he says it’s just a misunderstanding like the Whieteback’s “French doors opening the wrong way” (238). Turns out that Dan diCephalis was driving Hyde to his house (to check out the burglary) when they were hit by the youth in the car (who was killed) [see Simon's comments below, the youth was Buzzie]. This is the second accident while leaving the school by the way. And the boy was on drugs (the kid who asked for the reds last week?) so they have instituted urine tests to everyone from third grade up.
Mr Gibbs comes into see Whiteback about getting an advance on his salary. Whiteback tries to talk to him as a bank manager and somehow switches the topic onto Gibbs getting a car loan (Gibbs does not want a car). Oh and by the way Coach Vogel was arrested for playing with some boys (just a mention of this, unclear exactly what happened, but it sounds like a misunderstanding). And while Whiteback has Gibbs here, there’s been a complaint fro ma group about him not using the prescribed openings for the classes. “Who’s the group the Ku Klux Klan? No, the Citizens Union on Neighborhood Teaching” [ha]. “All women?” (HA!) (241).
Ann DiCephalis comes in. Gibbs sympathizes with her about Dan’s accident, but she blows off the concern and asks if he has seen Mr Bast. She empathizes with Mr Bast because the people who sabotaged his lesson are the same ones who gave him the hasty sabbatical. Ann says that “she’s a talented woman who’s never been allowed to do anything herself” (242). She invites Jack to come over and …talk anytime and you know, the kids go to bed by 9.
Gibbs runs for the train and meets the same conductor from yesterday, so there’ a lot of German nonsense and the conductor doesn’t put up much of a fight. Then Mrs Joubert comes in and sits next to him. She wonders what that was all about. Gibbs totally lies saying the conductor is a young German boy that he is trying to help out. They sit in a cramped seat together (and Gibbs begins what turns into an endless quest for a cigarette).
They talk a lot and we get some real emotion in this sequence. Gibbs comes into the city a lot to get away from “that place” but also to talk to his publisher–he’s writing a nonfiction book about mechanization of the arts.
She talks of Bast and says that Gibbs was mean to him, and then she realizes that he never got the tickets in time and had to pay all the fares himself. Gibbs tries to explain (but was we see in every scene that never works out). Gibbs shows her a card he found at the post Office that says Edwerd Bast business representative with Lackawanna-4 phone number (must be in midtown). She says she thought he was composing and Gibbs brings up Bast’s TV lecture again. Joubert hasn’t seen it but she gets mad at Gibbs for taunting Bast again. Then he mentions “that appalling diCephalis woman” who is “sort of like you in a cheap edition, twentieth printing of the paperback when things begin to smear” (245).
Flattered, she remarks on Gibbs’ marvelous hands. He says he hated to use them against Hyde, but Hyde got in his way when he needed to help his friend, to talk him down from suicide. She asks if the friend is alright. He says he’s coming out of the hospital. We get an interesting perspective here. Gibbs describes Schramm:
One of those men who wanted to write and had a father who thought writing was for sissies, made a million dollars in timber and Schramm spent the last twenty years just waiting for him to die (246).
He ends by saying that Schramm has some bad periods especially when coming up against the likes of Hyde. Joubert says that she has the Hyde boy in her class (Daryl answered this for me last week, and now she’s spelling it out too). Gibbs describes the Hyde boy as
about the most unpromising human being that size I’ve ever come across keep stumbling over him with that grubby bot he hangs out with over in the Post Office (246).
Joubert chimes in:
Oh that’s J R probably, I think they send for things in the mail together…. There’s something a little touching about him, I think…. He always looks as though he lives in a home without, I don’t know. Without grownups I suppose, like he simply lives in those clothes of his…. When you talk to him he doesn’t look at you but it’s not as though, not like he’s hiding something. He looks like he’s trying to fit what you’re saying into some utterly different, some world you don’t know anything about he is such an eager little boy but there’s something quite desolate, like a hunger… (246-247).
And in what continues to be the most emotional scene so far in the book, Gibbs describes his own childhood (and his current situation with his daughter):
kids are in the way, that’s how they’re all brought up now, do a good enough job on them it can last for life just look… (247).
The spell is broken when Joubert reveals that it is Friday. He thought it was Thursday (he shows her a racing form which gets her super angry that that’s how he knows the date “And that’s why you’re upset. You missed betting on a race? (247)). But it’s much worse than that, he missed an appointment with his daughter.
The tone changes. She looks as his shabby dress and says he looks like a novelist. He says a novelist has to understand women (this led to a great discussion at Infinite Zombies, by the way). Gibbs is about to ask her about the day he saw her with Francis in the city, but then somebody sits down heavily in the seat front of him. And he rants about people sitting so close when there’s seats everywhere (here and in the lunch room and everywhere –and yes I agree). The conductor walks past again and she admits that she knows he’s not a German boy with his first job, because she talked to him about train times last week. He asks why she didn’t. … and she asks why he did…
Then he asks her to dinner that night He says he’ll meet her at 7. She says she’ll try.
The train stops and Gibbs gets to the phone booth and there’s a sailor also trying to use it. He gets in touch with his wife and we see a softer side of Gibbs–he can’t take his daughter to the dentist, but if she needs braces he’ll pay. And he bought her something from the shop–but it didn’t fit.
He gets change (for his last dollar) and calls Bast who is not at work. He was going to ask him for $10 [REALLY?]. The sailor tries to get the phone from him and Gibbs gets angry until he remembers to ask the guy for a cigarette. The sailor gives Gibbs a smoke and then Gibbs tells him to get lost while he makes another call. This time he gets Tom Eigen, who thought he would call yesterday. Gibbs asks Eigen for ten dollars and the key to the 96th street apartment. Tom says he can borrow his key, just come down to his apartment after work. Tom says he’s going to Germany tomorrow but he want to talk to Gibbs about Schramm–he;s giving them trouble at the hospital.
Davidoff calls Eigen and interrupts his conversation with Gibbs, but then Schramm comes stumbling in to Eigen’s office, bloody bandage and all. [Simon points out an important detail--we never actually SEE Schramm, he is off screen the whole book]. Davidoff will not be distracted by this and he tells Eigen to go have a meal with the man from Taiwan.
The scene shifts to Beaton’s office. Beaton asks why, based on this amateurish, misspelled letter, Davidoff agreed to send off $1,862 out of the PR budget (paid to a bank in Nevada). The money is based on 100 times damages of Diamond Stock holding (Davidoff asks why he’s getting so upset over $1800, I’ve paid that much for one speech plus, the PR budget is his to do with what he wants). But the precedent has been set for one hundred times damages! (“probably because it was easy to multiple by so that’s why they claimed it” (253)). They know it was the kids in Mrs Joubert’s class (“a savvy bunch of kids there” (254)).
The scene ends and he tells Carol (who comes into his office while he’s talking to her on the phone (ha)) to put a rush on hiring that girl as project specialist. (We don’t hear to much about her but she gave a good interview today). [See Simon's comment for details about this woman--who is Miss Flesch].
In the meantime there’s some business with a guy named Moyst and a lengthy subplot about the giant picture in the hallway (that began when the kids were in the office). The scene switches to Eigen calling back Davidoff, but no we are in Eigen’s home. The domestic scene is funny (funnier than the diCephalils home, anyway). Young David is trying desperately to get his father to play with him. Of course Tom is on the phone “last minute nonsense [Davidoff] can’t stand the idea of someone finding a moment’s peace” (258). David asks if Schramm can live with just one eye. And then he tells his dad that he beat momma four times at their game today. David is asked to pick up all the shoes in the hall (I can see my hallway littered with shoes too), but that never gets done in this scene.
We learn that Eigen has come home with Schramm and is waiting for Gibbs to show up. Schramm, upon hearing that Gibbs was coming, took off because he knew that Gibbs would try to put him back n the hospital. Marian says some nasty things about Gibbs (“he just wants the key to take some woman up to that…” (259) and that Gibbs is coming down here to bully Schramm, so Schramm had a right to leave, but Dan contradicts her and says that Gibbs doesn’t even know that Schramm is loose in this shape.
Then we learn that Eigen went out for lunch with the Taiwanese (Oriental, grinning Chinese) business man whose doctor has him on rare beef:
chewing up his slices of nine dollar steak and blowing them out on his plate…tells me his doctor says he can’t digest the meat but he needs its juices so he patiently chews the whole God damned thing bite by bite and blows every one of them out, now what the hell do you think that kind of lunch was, the whole place staring at us and the waiter coming over to ask if anything is unsatisfactory (261).
He asks what kind of food they have and she complains that she can’t stick food in their tiny fridge. Then he opens the fridge and complains about her spending $3.96 on lamb chops. More fighting.
Finally she says that he is leaving in the morning can he leave her some cash? He gives her $50 [Oh and just what is CIPAP?]. Then he complains about his job and the new woman who Davidoff may be hiring in PR “–he asked me how I like working for a woman. And I told him” (261). She asks why he doesn’t just quit. Especially since his book is getting noticed again. Their money fight dissolves into a fight about David. How Tom didn’t want to pay for David’s hernia operation until his work insurance covered it. Then she says that he never wanted David in the first place (ouch). He says that’s not true–he didn’t want kids so soon, but he loves his son. And then he retorts: “You’re like a, sometimes you’re like an illness Marian, you’re like a God damned long illness I picked up somewhere” (262).
Tom goes into his office to look at his manuscript in the typewriter. Then young David calls him.
Tom agrees to play young David in a Winnie the Pooh game that seems like Candyland (in which cheating is very easy). They play the game with David bragging at his success (and Tom saying he can’t win all the time, it’s impossible). Then David begins with the awesome questions:
–Did Jesus Grow up to be an Indian?
–What makes you think that.
–He has no shirt and he has those red marks on him.
–Those are blood, David, you know that.
–Then why is he wearing that hat? …
–Did those nails go right through his hands?
–They yes yes, they
–I always thought he was holding on up there.
Then David accuses Tom of cheating–you peeked in the bag! And David is outraged and doesn’t want to play anymore.
The doorbell rings and it is a policeman who says that someone dropped from a high window–blood on the ground and a dented car fender. Tom explains that Schramm went out the door but he didn’t see what happened after that. He must have jumped out the hallway window. He lives uptown. So the policeman drives Tom up to 96th street.
Marian starts reading Peter Pan to David and he has more questions, “Mama if God called you doesn’t that mean he would have to kill you first?” She replies that “that was just your teacher’s way of trying to explain to the class why the little Priftis girl’s seat is always empty now…. Miss Duffy used to teach in the parochial school” (267).
The bell rings again and it’s Jack. David is very excited to see Jack (that’s something in Gibbs’ favor, no?). David runs to get pjs on, and Marian begins talking to Jack. She says she’s going to leave him. That she’s doing it for Tom. Jack says he’s not pleased at this idea at all. He thought they bought a new apartment. And what about David? “Marian you don’t know what the hell a father is…. a father is someone who’s there someone who…”
Then more emotion from Gibbs:
I just had another round with the stale bitch who’s got my daughter penned up out there in Astoira, destroying her inch by inch just, making sure nothing grows, biggest event in that kid’s life is a trip to the dentist, Marian, you don’t know what a Christ awful mess everything turns into when these things happen and it never…. And it doesn’t end. It doesn’t end (269).
She says that Tom just goes into his workroom every night and nothing comes out. Gibbs says that the publisher of his book held on to the rights of Tom’s previous book so he couldn’t get a new publisher and now he’s releasing the paperback as a way of keeping the rights–that he’s really screwing Tom over.
Finally the discussion winds down Gibbs says “he’s going though a, just trying to adjust after nine yeas of …”
And she replies “And what about me! What do you think those nine years have been like for me?” They then get into a very real-world argument about men who don’t talk about work or who only complain about work, “How many husbands do you think come home from work all smiles come on Marian” (269). But she reveals that it’s very hard on her when people ask him where his next book is and they nod sympathetically when they realize he has to work to support his family. The great Thomas Eigen’s talent being thrown away in a stupid job because he has to make a decent living for his wife and son (270). She says that Tom, Gibbs and Schramm find excuses for failure and she won’t be one of them anymore.
Then the bell rings and the revelation comes that Tom has headed off with the police to find Schramm. Gibbs is livid that she didn’t say so earlier, and he takes off (but not without asking for $10 first). And as he’s about to leave he can’t help one last comment: “don’t ever try to tell me again you’re doing it for him, you can lie to Tom, lie to yourself, lie to David but don’t ever try to…the door came closed flat in his face” (272).
Gibbs hops in an off-duty cab, who agrees to take him but leaves the meter off. After getting uptown the cabbie takes the whole $10 (and somehow, one of Gibbs’ shoes). Gibbs runs up the stairs to find Tom and Rhoda (the young girl that Schramm was “seeing”) in shock over the fact that Schramm has hanged himself.
They talk about Schramm. He hung pictures of dead children on his wall (they were children killed in Belgium, although no real reason is given). They give the police a robe to cover him up. The robe is bloody and there’s some confusion as to whose blood it is. Rhoda says its hers from when she was having her period.
The men go next door to Grynszpan’s flat. Mail is everywhere and the faucet is gushing water. [I vividly remember this scene from when I read the book ten years ago, but it's hard to forget]. The place is an absolute mess with boxes everywhere. Gaddis describes the room by talking about what boxes they have to climb on, move or knock over. He never says boxes of, he just says the brand. ”he poised his stockinged foot on Wise Potato Chips Hoppin’ with Flavbor” (276). They argue and drink Scotch. When Tom runs to the store to get more, Bast comes in.
He says he’s been working here. Gibbs asks how he knows about the place and Bast says that he (Gibbs) gave him the key to the flat at the train station. They discuss things (but interrupt and say nothing really) and then Tom comes back. Gibbs introduces Bast and Bast thinks he is Grynzspan–he’s been expecting him, he put the mail i the oven. One piece of mail seems like a stock certificate–although it is addressed to Bast.
There is arguing (Bast doesn’t find out what happened to Schramm for a long time). Then someone tells a joke about blue and orange paint–paint one ball blue and the other orange (the punchline isn’t as good as the setup). The policemen come and take Eigen away to identify the body and Bast is left. Then there’s a knock on the door. An upstairs neighbor has come to ask if they can have Schramm’s apartment since they are old and don’t want to walk up so many stairs.
Gibbs arrives and says that there’s a car outside waiting to take Bast on his trip. But Bast has already come back–that car is for Eigen’s trip to Germany. Gibbs starts talking about Johannes Müller who tried to create a mechanical voice out of a human larynx. And how it would be the end of vocals problems for musicians. Bast leaves, he has an appointment.
He runs into Crawley at the museum. Crawley asks him about the zebra music which obviously Bast hasn’t done and then asks about Eagle Mills, which Crawley says he can sell but Bast says it is already sold. Crawley seems impressed with Bast’s acumen but tells him to go back to composing. Bast escapes to the bathroom but runs into JR when he comes out. JR gives Bast a leatherette briefcase with the initials ED. Bast gives him the newspaper about what he accomplished in Eagle Mills. He says JR can read it later but JR reads and asks questions now. They spelled his name Edwerd because they of one of those idiotic cards (an JR is excited to see a mention of himself–although not his name obviously).
Essentially Bast said that he and JR would be taking over Eagle Mills, they bought the company and have “investment intentions.” JR wants to know a lot of details and wonders for instance why the company is allowing the city to keep their trucks on private grounds and why they have a softball field. JR says he plans to sell the property back to them and lease it back. Bast says that’s a terrible way to treat the people whom he promised nothing but good news. “Just because you read about these things it doesn’t mean you can step in there and do them …” “How come?” “Because these are real people up there that’s how come: (296).
JR reveals that he hired a lawyer through the mail too. His name is Mister Piscator and he approves of JRs plans. JR also says that the Albertan debenture B has just put out a C and he got paid for B–shows what that Crawley knew and even Ace has doubled in price. He also confuses Depreciated Acceleration and Accelerated Depreciation ()which is pretty funny). Bast is agitated and trying to counter everything JR says (JR starts talking about Eagle Mills being worth five million dollars, but Bast says there isn’t five million dollars in the whole town).
Bast says he didn’t read any of JRs things because Schramm killed himself. Jr replies: “No but holy shit Bast this is serious, I mean like I’m sorry about your friends and all but holy shit this is like five million dollars and I mean where I’m paying your expenses for like this here trip” (299).
Bast is exasperated, “I’m trying to get you out of trouble and you’re just making it bigger” (300).
JR then makes a well-reasoned, if not entirely accurate argument
All I did was buy these bonds for this here investment and mind my own business and then they turn around and dump all these wrecked up buildings and people and stuff on me and what do they expect me to do, build them a park? I mean, holy shit… I have this here investment which I have to protect it don’t I? And I mean you’re so sorry for all these old people with this here stock they got in exchange for their bonds which they’d bought them for this investment just like I did so what about them? …all they give a shit about is will they get their dividends anyway, so like how are they going to get them if they just keep paying everybody to play softball and sing Stout-Hearted Men and then some smartass comes along and screws with a stockholder’s suit. I mean holy shit Bast… I’m just trying to protect their investment too, you know? (300-301).
And Bast replies that it has to stop somewhere. But JR says no, the president of Diamond Cable said if you’re playing you might as well play to win. You can’t just play to play because the rules are only for if you’re playing to win which that’s the only rules there are (301).
And that’s where we stop this week.
The dramatic tension really upped itself this week. The martial strife the monetary strife. Suicide, homicide. Romance, pathos. That’s a lot packed into 75 pages. I also love that amidst all of this Important stuff, there are still wonderfully weird little subplots that we have no idea if they will be resolved. Was that Terry in those photos? What happened to the Aunt’s shrubs? Where has Stella been all this time?
But more importantly than all of that is the amount of emotional heft that Gaddis has thrown at us this week. The first section of this book was o matter of fact (if not very oblique), but there was very little interior life (which is what happens when you talk at people). But now some characters have a chance to sit down with each other and really talk to each other and man, there is depth of character and very interesting ideas about humanity in the 1970s as well. For what seems to be an absurd comic story (6th grader makes fortune in stock market), there is a lot of reality here as well. It’s really a great story so far.
[And please read Simon's comments below for spoiler-free details.]