This is an acoustic guitar rocker, that sounds perfectly nineties. It builds over a series of verses, getting louder and faster with backing vocals added as the song goes along. What’s interesting is that there’s no real chorus to the song. The verses are more or less the choruses, although that doesn’t quite seem right either. But after the verses, there are these quieter interlude pieces that are kind of bridges but not really.
But regardless of all of that, the song is catchy as anything (especially for a song that includes the word cranium–incorrectly used–“My heart’s crammed in my cranium”).
Wow, i thought that Black Francis has been quiet all these years, and yet I see that he has been releasing an album a year for a decade. Talk about under the radar.
[READ: Week of August 20, 2012] JR Week 9
Holy cow, this week starts off with a lot of fun chaos in the Grynzspan apartment. And there’s a return of lots of characters, too! The long story arc seems to return to whence it started–the “Bast apartment,” although there are many changes afoot there. And, for those keeping score at home, we finally get to return to the original Bast House–where kids have sex and shit in pianos.
But first the poor delivery man is back with his gross flowers. [Simon’s comments from last week have some great ideas about the plastic flowers, too, by the way]. But before that goes anywhere, Eigen shows up to the apartment–the first time he’s been here in a while. And as he’s coming in the door, he is given a summons for Mr Grynzspan (whom the police assume he is). Eigen tries to control the crowd and his temper, but he’s fighting with everyone. In particular, he’s fighting with Rhoda, who has some great lines here. When asked if she is Mr Bast: “Man look at these I mean do I look like Mister anybody?” When Eigen says her name “was Rhoda right,” she says “What do you mean was,” and every time Eigen puts his hands near or on her, “I said I can dry there myself.” Things settle down and Rhoda regales Tom with the story of the shipwreck they had last night, and she’s glad that Chairman Meow isn’t drownded (610).
Then Amy calls looking for jack. She’s back from Geneva but needs a few days to straighten out things before seeing him. Rhoda says that Emily is someone Jack doesn’t want to see Eigen says she’s the only think holding him together. They repeat the same statements about Gibbs’ book. Rhoda says that Tom is this “big important novelist” but he can’t see that Gibbs hates his own book and feels pressure from Emily/Amy.
Eigen is still trying to feel Rhoda up again and she’s getting more pissed. Finally he “compliments” her on her not needing “commitment and intimacy.” Shes finally had enough and storms off. Tom mutters, “Spread it for Schramm [yes] for Jack [not technically] for any, Bast probably for Bast too [yes] why can’t you…” (614). She says he’s a real bastard and he should just get a blow up doll filled with warm water. He yells that she really screwed up Schramm, that Schramm wanted a woman he could trust. Then they argue about whose fault it is that Schramm killed himself. She says he came from Tom’s apartment, he says that he only let Shcramm leave because he thought she would be there for him. She admits that she was home when he came in–but she was afraid of him so she hid while he hung himself. Tom freaks out about this.
They yell some more, about Eigen acting like he’s important, about Gibbs having passionate sex with the woman with the black hair. Rhoda again:
I saw those scratches down him man, like I mean all this passion and intimacy you’re telling me I don’t know what it is man I mean that was some free fucking dance lesson you don’t trust him none of you trust anybody you’re all scared shitless of it aren’t you, I mean he’s so hung up on this book he’s scared to lose this lousy opinion of himself that’s why none of you can… (616).
Rhoda leaves for her job, and Eigen tells her she doesn’t need to come back. Then it’s Eigen’s turn to learn things over the phone:
Indian uprising…Stella calls looking for Jack about General Roll–Tom thinks he signed the stock to his wife…Coen (without the h calls)…there’s a question of a paternity suit. Eigen starts sorting through the mail (I haven’t mentioned so far but I really enjoyed that there’s mail for all variations of Bast (Berst, Gerst which is confusing everyone and which will come into play shortly).
Tom gets frustrated by everything. He sees the gum bouncing at the window, he opens it and pulls down the string. Then he starts playing with his son’s marionette (he was storing bunch of his stuff in Grynzspan’s place). Then Jack comes back. And he brings Freddie with him (wearing a jacket from Bob Jones University), whom he bumped into at Grand Central Station. It’s been raining and they are drenched. He was thinking that Freddie could stay in Schramm’s empty place, but Eigen says that Schepperman’s staying back there.
Then Gibbs notices that the phone is off the hook, he says he’s expecting a very important–. But Eigen tells him that Amy called already. Gibbs is excited but annoyed about having to wait for two days to talk to her.
Then Gibbs says he’s out of money again. Well, the IRS has put a block on the money he put in the bank because there’s a lien against him for $28,000.
But Tom starts yelling at him about “this Rhoda that you’re…” But Gibbs say there’s not a mean bone in her body, she’s just outspoken. Then amusingly, Tom starts repeating all the insults that Rhoda said to him (he calls her a plastic thing you fill with water). Then Gibbs reveals the big secret–the black-haired woman he was with was a blonde woman he picked up in Penn Station who was wearing a black wig. But Tom isn’t pacified–he says Rhoda is out to destroy them like she destroyed Schramm. After some back and forth in which Gibbs says that Rhoda couldn’t have been there that night for Schramm, he says: “Tom…Nobody’s blaming you for Schramm” (621). Again Tom freaks out about that.
Tom mentions the manila folder and Beamish which reminds Gibbs that they each owe $68 to Beamish for estate taxes before they can disperse the funds from Schramm. They calm down a bit and then Gibbs lays down the bombshell–he has leukemia [where in the hell did that come from?] “Haven’t long to live that’s all” (622). This is compounded by Tom having to tell his son that he and Marian have split “worst thing I’ve ever been through.” And in a seriously emotional moment, Tom says:
I went out and found him just standing there carried him back in crying all he could say was, was wouldn’t I, wouldn’t I be lonely can’t even talk about it…” (623).
Marian has already papered his room and is complaining about the size of the house he had bought (that was supposed to be for all of them).
Then Jack notices the gum covered string and asks why Jack did that. “Somebody up there only God damned thing keeps them going’s maybe they’ll get that quarter out there why couldn’t you just let them…”(623).
There’s a phone call, a school field trip is to tour the uptown office. And there’s been a bomb scare. And then Tom reveals that Stella called for Jack and that there was a misadventure with Norman. Gibbs asked what happened, but he says he didn’t ask, “I thought she was the last person you wanted to hear from” (624). Then Tom asks if someone named Gall ever called for him here, because Gall has a copy of Tom’s play [now we know, all those pages ago how Gall got his play written for that “novelist writes a play” contest he won]. Oh and Carol had asked Tom if his novel was interesting, “Imagine asking a novelist if his novel’s interesting?” (625). Tom says he almost misses the sense of order you get in an office. He misses Carol, they way he could look up her… Tom’s a lonely horny guy. He reveals that he almost bought a prostitute, but she took his $20 and ran off promising to get change for him. Doh.
And then, after a final offer of freeze dried veal morengo, all hell breaks loose.
A deputy US marshal is at the door with a subpoena. The suboenas are for Mr Urquhart, Mr Teets, Mr Bast… And Jack is off on an anti-authority rant, calling the marshal Mister Marshal, offering him a bath, telling him the abominable snowman is in the back apartment and when the marshal (whose name is Drovie) says he wants the company records, Gibbs says “Got the Boswell Sisters doing Down on the Delta.”
Then Bast comes to the door unseen by all but Gibbs. And Gibbs tells him there’ s U.S. marshal looking for him. Bast wants his mail, but Gibbs says there’s 60 pounds. He also tells him that Crawley loved the music (but he’s having a problem with the film). While they are talking a box lunch order comes in. Then a Mr Bailey comes in with a sub… and he ushered into the apartment, then the man comes to put the bug back in the phone. Both Drovie and Bailey appear to be named Bill. They have basic descriptions of the men for their subpoenas. Bast’s is a picture in Indian costume, JRs is the description from the biography (steel blue eyes bulldog jaw). They suggest getting a fire inspector and Internal Revenue and a postal inspector for this room as well. bast heads downstairs
There’s more cross chaos–Gibbs is a master at it, offering them to play golf, singing lines from songs, offering them different books. Eigen tries to keep the peace then gives up and asks if he can run off with his personal papers. He says he’s going to go to see Mrs Schramm with the papers that he was supposed to deliver weeks ago. Jack says he should take that folder along too, “show her he was on the threshold of great things might have kicked the world to pieces.” Tom doesn’t understand why Jack can’t have loyalty to Schramm’s memory. Eigen makes it outside where the chaos continues.
Cars are backed up everywhere. The Hong Kong flower delivery truck is blocking the road. There are four black Cadillacs pulled up to the curb (with a joke about a funeral outside). And of course the Cinco Jones are out there too (coño).
Then we realize that there are kids in the cars: “Hey Mister Bast we going to the movies?” One of the kids is in the private limo that’s parked outside (which belongs to ZS). They should be in the Cadillacs that are for the school trip–which Davidoff secured to take the kids to the Waldorf where the General would be waiting–but he wasn’t there. Then everyone sees a cowboy coming (Brisboy) and Bast tries to hide from him. Mrs diCephalis had been with them but she hopped in a cab because she had to go to India to teach them birth control. Oh and by the way the new principal of the school is Mister Stye [nice callback] and JR Corp is going to buy the school The photographer and box lunches were supposed to be part of this takeover celebration at the uptown office.
Finally Brisboy knocks on the door (who are these urchins?) and says that mother has been fired. But he assured his mother that Bast would never do that, it was a ghastly mistake. Bast apologizes and they both agrees that Davidoff is terribly rude. Brisboy also can’t wait to hear about his trip–the drunken brewer chasing him among the vats–good thing his good side is in the Indian photo “I do so love pageantry.” And gosh the JR stock is trading at 4 now. They drive away with Brisboy running beside still talking.
And then it’s just JR and Bast in the car being driven away.
JR explains about the Hong Kong flowers (red daffodils and blue roses “they don’t have them real down at China like here they just made up all these here dumb colors.” And then JR focuses on where the delivery was going “this here whole world headquarters? that, that dump…?” (636). Bast asks what he expected for $61.40/mo.
Bast explains that he is going home. He has 37 cents, wet clothes a cold and a fever. JR can’t believe they’re leaving the city. Then Bast and JR have a tender moment. Echoing an earlier one, Bast asks if JR has a handkerchief. When he offers it to Bast, Bast tells him to use it on himself. And then JR says, “I always thought this is what it will be like you and, and me riding in this here big limousine down, down this, this here big street…” (636).
JR grabs a paper to ask about what happened. Bast is in this beautiful costume but the Indian chief is in a cheap chicken-feather costume. And the “neat story” that JR reads in the paper about the event was written before the event happened–by Davidoff. JR says that the Indians were so dumb they didn’t know their own history so he had to write it for them. And Bast says that when they read about their “history,” about the rapes and famines, their forefathers forced off their treaty reservations, they naturally freaked out and that’s why there are appliance pieces all over the place in the photo. JR is super pissed at how much that inventory was worth. But bast interrupts to give the simple detail that they don’t have electricity. JR says but everyone has electricity. Bast replies that that’s what that idiot Hyde thought too. Hyde’s son was there too and would have been scalped if he had more hair. Hyde is being held for $30 million ransom. JR: “this old man Hyde you think he’s worth like thirty mil…?” JR says they’re supposed to get the $30 million over time. Bast says they are so freaked out by their history now that they are afraid the government will screw them over again. They want the money up front.
That’s when JR informs Bast that he’s been fired. “After how you loused everything like I mean I try to fix everything up for you and I mean if it’s just you you’re lousing up but like you go lousing up everything for everybody what do you…” But it wasn’t JR who did it, it was the lenders that got pissed when he sold his shares.
Bast explains that he didn’t sell, he’s working on something that Davidoff explained [see Simon’s comments from last week’s post for an excellent summary that I couldn’t have explained very clearly].
Then they arrive at Penn Station. Bast thought they were going all the way to Long Island, but the driver is inflexible–he can’t go any further with them. All of the Cadillacs followed with all of the kids. They take all their stuff and get on the train (the kids have roundtrip tickets from earlier, but not Bast). When they board, JR tells Bast that they need to listen to all of the phones messages that have been subpoenaed. But that mid way through the tape there’ s a guy singing. And hey this old lady Begg is suing JR and Bast. She’s suing Bast for insider trading.
We also learn that General Haight was pelted with rocks because of the military contracts that were aiming to help the students with research. Bast drifts off.
JR asks him “Did you even know we hired Mr diCepahis hey? –No and I don’t really… –I mean I didn’t even know it either.” (645). They flew diCephalis to Texas to meet this big time scientist (wait for it…) Dr Vogel (HA) to fix up the problem with the noise shards and a method of transport so new it’s classified. JR even has a whole subsidiary set up for it called Teletravel.
Also, Milliken is pissed because an anonymous spokesman remarked that if his whole state blew up no one would miss it.
There’s also a funny extended joke that Piscator is taking all the credit for the Ray-X/Malwi deal. Of course it was really “Greenspan” [Gibbs]: “It’s just like he tried that time with that neat Triangle deal it was really Beamish that figured up” [actually it was Gibbs again, he told Beamish]. JR suggests that a lot of this is Bast’s fault as well.
Bast, exasperated, says:
Because a bank sells my stock and gets me fired for selling it and then somebody sues me while you’re running around getting loans for this here asset to borrow against for this here new asset to look haven’t I told you to stop? when the whole thing started? just stop and let somebody help you pull thing together instead of this more! more! ” (647). JR: “No but that’s what you do!”
Then JR reads in the paper that”Greenspan” may be behind the meteoric rise of JR Corp. And he also reads about himself, about how he’s being sued for erotic management of Erebus.
And then JR reveals that he has to go to court or they take everything. Bast thinks that means he and JR would go to jail
–So I can go to jail and you’ve got nothing to worry about you don’t even go to court you just…
–No No that’s what I’m telling you hey! I mean if I don’t show up and they get this here judgment and take all this stock off me where I lose control then I can’t even…
–Yes but that’s, then it’s over! It’s all over!
–No but wait a sec…
–Today right now you’re supposed to be there aren’t you? and you;re not. So you lose it you lose your stock you lose the whole thing the whole mess you’re out of it why didn’t you tell me!
–Okay but wait a…
–Okay what do you mean okay it’s the best thing that ever happened (648).
But JR is worried that Stye is going to be pissed that JR didn’t take over the school. Bast jumps in that he can’t buy schools. JR ignores him and tells of Stye’s scheme to pay the kids for good grades. a dollar for an A, fifty cents for a B, a quarter for a C, nothing for a D and if you get an E [sic] you have to pay the school a nickel.
Bast keeps telling him that it’s over, but JR says that they can still countersue!
JR gets absorbed in reading the paper about his Paper Empire and the description of himself that Virgina wrote. And the descriptions of JR are funny–his dogged persistence and what not. Meanwhile, Bast falls asleep (he’s looking really pale and ill and even coughs all over a beautiful woman in the paper–who turns out to be Boody (remember her?) heiress of Diamond Cable and ward of Zona). But then JR looks up and they’re at the station and all the other kids have gotten off already.
Bast wants a cab; there are none. Nor even any busses, because the bank took over Gottlieb’s loan and when he couldn’t pay, they took Ace Transportation. JR wishes that he had thought to buy a bank. So he and Bast walk, but Bast has to stop at the Marine Memorial.
And given all of the talk of abandoning children, there’s a great line. “Like where this newspaper just said the parent company I mean that’s me…that’s me the parent!” (654).
JR starts listening to the tape again and this time it’s JR preparing a speech for an eighth grade class in Orange, NJ who are planning to buy a share. But it too is cut of by an opera. JR is pissed but Bast tells him to shut up, stop saying Holy Shit and just listen to the music. Listen for some “intangible assets.” JR is afraid to say what he thinks about he music because Bast will just get mad.
Bast also says that he must know that everything in the paper is not real–that half of the acquisitions were surprises–JR didn’t even know what lithography was.
But JR fights back again saying he was even trying to have Bast marrying Boody, so he could get the stocks of course.
Bast tries to get him to talk about the music he heard. There’s no wrong answer of course–except maybe for JR’s:
So then this here lady starts singing up yours up yours up yours so then this man starts singing up mine then there’s some words so she starts singing up mine up mine and he starts singing up yours” (658).
Bast: “I never want to hear it again myself!you everything you ruin everything you touch!
Then Bast sums up the destruction they’ve caused:
Charley Yellow Brook in that smashed Cadillac; Mooneyham weeping in his omelet before his heart attack; George Wonder hanging on to me when the police took the gun away from him; that poor Brisboy; Union Falls–wipe it all out but your cemetery; that simple-minded Bunky selling your purple plastic daffodils. JR even ruined music. bast was listening to a station and found out that JR bought a sponsorship on the station: “brought to you in this new popular format by the J R Family of Companies bringing America its full share of holy shit!” (658).
JR says he was pissed that symphonies were so long. $2 million dollars for an hour and the band plays for half an hour, I mean holy. The station is losing so much money anyway, he bought it to help them out. And everyone is pissed at him. Beamish has quit (for the marijuana thing, the painting the water tower like toilet paper thing, and so many other things). JR keeps explaining his side of things but Bast isn’t listening.
JR tells about the aforementioned Bunky. He was put in charge of cloth rebates at Eagle.
–So this one place they’re getting like twice as many rebates…how come this one place just always getting so much lousy cloth so I find out there’s no such of a company! I mean we never even would of found out if he would of just gave them like the same as these real ones he had to try to grab all the listen! I mean I’m telling…
–I heard you! can;t you damn it didn’t you learn anything from that?
–I mean that’s what I’m telling you! I mean why should somebody go steal and break the law to get all they can when there’s always some law where you can be legal and get it anyway! (660).
Then JR tells Bast about that touching scene earlier when Mrs Joubert was trying to get him to appreciate the moon in the sky. JR reveals that the big circle in the sky was Carvel icecream cone stand and he bets there’s sure a millionaire for that. And speaking of Bunky, he did it because “this dumb shit he goes and signs up for these like nineteen thousand four hundred dollars of dancing lessons he should have went to jail only I try to help him out” (661).
And when it seems that JR is winding down and the rain turns to snow, he’s off again, asking Bast about doing lectures and maybe Bast could declare bankruptcy and start over again. And he should really hear the tape they made him and there’s that “bill for all these horns and kettledrums and…” (663).
And then a new voice comes in, someone looking for the Bast house. Where is it? It is gone! And where are his aunts? Coen has no idea he’s been trying to reach them. Standing there are Bast, attorney Coen and a police officer. The officer doesn’t know anything about the house, he just knows this is the new Cultural Plaza. We’ve seen this coming for quite some time, but seriously what happened to his aunts and all their stuff?
Bast asks what that thing is. It’s a giant sculpture that a child is caught in, that’s why the police are here.
Coen takes responsibility for Bast (who is deathly ill) and drives him away. Bast throws up on the outside (and some inside) of Coen’s car. Bast starts asking Coen about bankruptcy “get to start over right?” Coen: “in a manner of speaking.” But Coen is trying to talking to Bast. Coen is here because Norman Angel is in the hospital. Stella Angel found her husband Norman shot (that was the misadventure). She has been taken in for paraffin test. Norman’s chances of survival are slim, therefore it’s a homicide investigation. All this time Bast is babbling the same words over and over about starting over again. His feet are in the driver’s area, messing with the pedals, and he even starts to lay down on the font seat. He asks Coen if he wants to know how to say “scrotum” in Danish.
Coen gives up and decides to take Bast to the hospital. The same one that Norman is in. And as he pulls up, I think he might bump his car into the front doors?
This denouement has been wonderful. It’s like a rollercoaster heading downhill. I read these pages so quickly, it was great. I feel like he keeps piling tension upon tension, and yet it doesn’t feel like it’s out of control. Gaddis now has 58 pages to finish this chaos, and I honestly don’t know how it will end. There’s just so many possibilities.