February 28th, 2005


Salt Chunk Mary

I awoke this morning at 5:30. That's my habit these days. I spend around six hours working on various projects, answering correspondence and making preparations for my departure to America on Saturday. This journey is being undertaken for a number of reasons:

1. To conduct research into American patriotic/propaganda music of the Pacific War and its representations of Japan and the Japanese. This is the subject of my MA dissertation and will take me to New York, Kansas City and, possibly, Washington DC.

2. To write an article on William S. Burroughs' legacy in Lawrence, Kansas and how he is remembered there, both formally (e.g. the dedication of Burroughs Creek) and informally within any such community or communities.

3. Pleasure. This may be found in both the first and the second also. The pleasures of friends, strangers, conversations, anecdotes, random occurrences, long walks, cuisine, smells, abandoned buildings, bird song, typefaces, spittoons, whistling and all similar diversions and possible future epiphanies.

4. I need to take a break from London.

Well, there could well be other ways of describing my purpose, but those do just about describe it.

I awoke this morning and wept a little. It's hard to describe quite why. I came home from the pub and saw a comment on the LJ Orthodoxy page asking "Can demons heal?" and similar. I wrote a long reply, rather too much in the tone of some character torn from a story of Turgenev, and I am glad that I didn't post it. I can see the original poster looking at my arch reply and then turning to my short story. The two don't quite tally, or rather I'd have some explaining to do to show precisely why they did.

No, the reason I wept wasn't out of relief for not having brow-beaten some young and confused man with a playful tone he might well have misinterpreted. No, it was these words in an email that James Grauerholz, WSB's secretary, estate executor and dear friend sent to my main Lawrence contact which I was cc'd on. I won't quote the entire email for obvious reasons, but I'm sure he won't mind me quoting the following....

[Well, I thought about it for a while and thought he might well do so it's edited out! Admittedly this post has little sense now]

That made me cry. I shall have to do my very best for The Old Man. Feet, hands, mind, heart, stomach, ears, penis, spleen, soul... Do not fail me now!

Whad'ya mean you've not heard of Salt Chunk Mary?

Mugwump Stew

Some things I've learned about Lawrence, Kansas recently:

1. There's some fiscal difficulties over declining sales of Girl Scout cookies.

2. Horseradish seems to be playing its part in forensic evidence concerning prosecution of KSU English professor Thomas Murray for the alleged murder of his wife. The victim, Carmin D. Ross, was a Lawrence resident.

3. Basketball is a big deal.

4. Miller Lite sponsored the Women of KU 2005 Swimsuit Calendar I did watch some of the videos but became too disturbed to continue. That's disturbed, folks, not aroused.

5. There's a retrospective of Brion Gysin's work at the Spencer Museum of Art. Now, that is arousing! I've got an appointment with the curator.

6. The New York Times recently published a 36 hour guide to enjoying Lawrence [registration required]. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics won't be appearing high on my itinerary. Pachamamas, the article's White Tablecloth Kansas suggestion, seems overly complicated in its menu and confused to my eye. New World cuisine? Hmm, I'll stick with other suggestions I've received.

7. Fortunately, I booked my Nooks and Crannies room in the Halycon House B&B before the article recommended it as "cozy and charming". It's full now for the next few months. My advice to Lawrence visitors and inhabitants? Avoid going anywhere suggested in the NY Times article for a while. It'll be full of Yanks and maybe an occasional Brit trying to find somewhere he can have a fag on the sly.