Desolation Town

“Education in Reverse”

Posted in Cave Paintings by Michael Grace, Jr on November 7, 2008

Prologue:

 

So now seems like as good a time as any for a second act in an American life, to quote…and then contradict …F. Scott Fitzgerald. Who if I were to be honest, I have been quoting and then contradicting for a quite a while now.

 

I decided to start this blog, as opposed to continuing the one I began (and then abandoned) when my previous band dissolved, because I’m a sucker for reinvention. That previous blog, along with the  of dj-ing at the Mondo dance party in NYC, were the two things which helped me keep my bearings during those unsettled days. They kept me connected, respectively, to words and to music.

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So on the eve of the first release of my current band, The Secret History…I launch this journal. I have never been of the opinion that knowing when a stranger is brushing his teeth is the stuff of the crucial arts, so I will try to make of this blog what I have tried to make of my songs; a kind of lucid etherea that lies to tell the truth. I will also use it as a way to converse and conspire with anyone who wishes to leave comments, and promise to do so dutifully.

 

The Post proper:

 

So aside from finally releasing songs again with The Secret History— my second act. This whole gloriously damned Nation is beginning it’s second act with President-Elect Obama. As much as the cynical, Billy Bragg listening commie in me knows that profound change is probably impossible in the butcher shop of American Capitalism…where the butcher hath always his thumb on the scale, and we are the sausage…I can’t help but be enchanted by Barack Obama none the less.

 

Maybe it is, as it often is with me, the enchantment of second hand nostalgia. I grew up listening to my mother, god bless her, telling the same two or three stories over and over again whilst doling out steaming plates of pasta. My mother was as a grade school teacher in the 1960s in the povertly stricken borough of The Bronx in New York City. She was a five foot tall, twenty-something young women in a wool overcoat from a clositered enclave of southern Italians in Glendale Queens. She takes great pride in recalling the time she spent teaching there, and the love she put into educating children for whom the odds were stacked against. Aside from the time a black teenage girl poked her with a hairpin on the subway, she recieved nothing but affection in return. Sheepishly she admits that the watchful eyes of the corner mafiosi aided in her sense of security when walking to the subway during the twilight afternoons of December.

 

Her best story is about the surprise visit Robert F. Kennedy made to her school. How all the children and teachers alike…froze in awe. In the closing days of his campaign, Barack Obama began to say he had a “righteous wind” at his back, an expression which…as someone equally suceptible to the charms of poetry and prostilization…doubly moved me. When my mother discusses the atmosphere in the school when RFK, less than a year from his doom, stood amongst them…she often refers to a near climatic change…a magnetic field. She constrasted that with the airless agony caused by the sudden erasures of both Kennedy brothers, and Martin Luther King.


So I’ve had a shameful love affair with the ghosts of the Kennedys since childhood. On the infrequent mornings that I recall my dreams, one recurring alternate universe I visit stars The Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio. In this quorum, I do believe lies the secret to everything.

 

So I went to vote Tuesday morning. I haven’t switched my polling place since I first voted as an 18 year old still living with my parents midway across Long Island. As loathe as I am to admit it, it’s probably just an excuse to return to the inside of my elementary school every couple years. There is a suffocating and addictive sense of unease for me in the old school, and neighborhood alike. To quote Morrissey  (oh for Christ’s sake I couldn’t even make it through one post?)…

 

“I never stole a happy hour around here.”


I actually felt tingly voting for Barack on the hapless “Working Families” line. I am more or less a teenage girl.

 

Oh, if I haven’t circled around properly, President Obama is my JFK…or at least the fractured, fragmented postmodern version which is all one could hope for in a fractured, fragmented postmodern era…where by donating $25 dollars I am able to recieve emails from my hero…asking for another $25.


 

After voting in the gymnasium, and visualizing myself age 10, in a “Miami Vice” t-shirt, shooting free throws admist a white noise of mockery…I veered north on another ill concieved trip down memory lane.

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The day was still awash in the eerie glow of coastal morning when I arrived in Port Jefferson. This town was the insufficient refuge of my college years…spent at The State University of New York at Stonybrook. I took a brisk and lonesome stroll around, pausing to look at some sad antiques in a shop window. Every time I return, the phantoms get fainter, and the melancholia of miseries recalled is replaced ever so surely by the meloncholia of miseries forgotten.

 

The new e.p. is called “Desolation Town.”

 

I’ve lived in a few, though for lack of a fresher expression… it’s  more a state of mind.

 

Holtsville, Long Island; was the first. With its glue sniffing adolecent thugs, and an endless highway lacerating us…ironically we could never see a way out. I eyed a few of those tormentors for the first time in 20 years in line to vote (for McCain.)  The visage proved all theorems behind “The Suburbs Are Killing Us.”

 

Manchester, England was the second.  I’ve never been, but I lived there for years at a time. With my headphones on, it was…to quote Melville…a drizzly November of the soul.

 

Port Jefferson, Long Island was the third. Where I hid from the world on an black reef…while sending out rescue flares in the form of songs about neon lights…it was, in the full blossom of summer…the most desolate of all.

 

Astoria, NYC; was the fourth. A single room occupied by squalor and despair. A deserved state of exile after I had ruined the sea.

 

America is the fifth and the first and the last.

 

God Save Barack Obama.

 

 

 

The “Desolation Town” ep is released officially on the Le Grand Magistery label Tuesday November 11th, but is already available from I-tunes and through the impeccable Darla mailorder (http://www.darla.com) The cd is lovely to look at, but for those who download it, images and lyrics will soon be available at http://www.thesecrethistory.net which is in its final bit of construction and currently forwards you to our myspace page. Please consider picking it up.

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11 Responses

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  1. Michael said, on November 12, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Exciting release! I ordered two copies just to make the minimum on Darla’s site….clever way to double your sales for those of us old enough to remain faithful to physical product.

  2. Michael Grace, Jr said, on November 12, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Hmmm….what is there some minimum for shipping? Curious. Did not know that. Next time get My Teenage Stride’s record if you need a second. Send me your address and i’ll send you a badge and a little booklet we had made as a thank you…

  3. Gustav said, on November 12, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Having now listened to the record about 15 times i can easily say it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. The wait has not been in vain although maybe a wee bit long for our weak hearts stand. Hope you can bring out the next record before summer.

    Will you at some point complete the horror themed songs that was supposed to make up the third My Favorite record? it sounded like such a good idea for a record and i really loved My Life With The Living Dead and How I Saved My Life.

    Also.. i would love to buy me a copy of that booklet and the badge you Mentioned. will there be The Secret History t-shirts?

    Sincerely Yours
    Gustav

    Gothenburg is waiting for you so please hurry over here!

  4. Michael Grace, Jr said, on November 12, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks Gustav! That means a lot. I know the wait was way too long, but the full length is actually ahead of schedule and will come out next spring…I’m pretty sure.

    regarding the Horror songs…a few them are going to show up on the full length, including God Save the Runaways, Johhny Nightmare, a new version of My Life With the Living Dead, and a handful more I wrote to kind of tie it up. So essentially the TSH full length is a revised version of the ‘horror record’….

    If you promise to spread the word, i’ll send you a bunch of pins & booklets. Give me your address. We do have t-shirts, i’ll try to get those available via mail order soon. If you send me a tshirt, i’ll send you one…

    Hoping to come back to SE in 2009!

    Truly,
    M

  5. Gustav said, on November 13, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    How very kind of you Michael!

    Heres my adress

    Gustav Josefsson
    Dr Hjorts Gata 4A, apartment 110
    41323
    Gothenburg

  6. -Rob- said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I can’t wait to get the physical release. I am hoping to make it down to the show next week.

    As far as the horror theme goes. Does this mean that “Death Mods” will be included? If not, is there anywhere the song exists? I have been searching for years with no luck. When dcn.com was still up I would stream that song “to death.”

  7. Michael Grace, Jr said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:46 am

    We’ve actually played ‘Death Mods’ at a few shows, but didn’t track it for the full length record which will come out next year because, i dunno…just the balance of tracks, and the fact that it was 6 minutes long. Another ‘horror’ song “Count Backwards”…didn’t make it either. The full length is kind of ‘Martyrs & Monsters’, so some monsters got nudged for a few new saints. We will record it in our next sessions, perhaps as b-side…

  8. Gustav said, on November 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Will “Count Backwards” also be recorded?

  9. toby said, on November 20, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Michael, even after all these years I still marvel at the eloquence of your words. It’s utter brillance no less, and you should know it. I’ve been in limbo since the lost detectives went off the web. Keep on keeping on, Toby

  10. McDonough said, on November 24, 2008 at 1:00 am

    just so you know…I wasn’t able to buy it on itunes

  11. Michael Grace, Jr said, on November 25, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Just checked it on the I-tunes store, it’s there. Search “The Secret History.” Did you have a problem with the link itself?


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