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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

KATZ AND ROCK N ROLL

caterpillar glamorpuss after her role as ms hissy
in the short run off-off-off broadway satirical
cover of cats renamed humans



The rain has begun. It started a tiny drop now and again, a few more, more, steady light sprinkle, the kind that doesn't get you wet. Now it's visible in the air, showering at a steady and gradually quickening pace. The door is open. Caterpillar was frustrated today that I wouldn't let her spend as much time outside as she wanted. I explained to her I don't want her out there when the pack of dogs come over the hill looking for a cat. I'm like a mother letting her kid play outside, living on a busy street with no fences. Every time I let her out I remind her, When the dogs come, run to the door or a tree, whichever is closest. The dogs will bark, I'll come out and run them off. I keep the screen door open enough for Caterpillar to get through easily, but that's always the case.






The association of the Jewish name Katz with cats came from my early teens when supermarkets were new and everybody had to go to them. The end of the corner grocery store. While everybody else was shopping I'd hang at the magazine rack in the grocery store and look at pictures of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, James Dean's car crash. A new big drugstore turned up near the supermarket, not the soda fountain kind, but Walmart in the Age of Ozzie & Harriet. I started hanging over there when it was family night at the supermarket. It's where I bought my 45s of Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Gene Vincent's Be Bop a Lula, Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, Lucille, Chuck Berry's Maybelene, Roll Over Beethoven, Bill Haley's Shake Rattle & Roll and Rock Around The Clock, Ray Charles's Lonely Avenue, Big Joe Turner's Corrina, Corrina, Jerry Lee Lewis's, Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On, Duane Eddy's Forty Miles of Bad Road. Nearly all my records were forbidden to be played in the house when anybody was home.



Katz means to me the source for early rock & roll. I bought my very first 45 there before I had a record player, The Shifting Whispering Sands. One of those long talk story songs with violins in the background, a metaphor for the impermanence of "life." A Walter Brennan kind of thing. I forget who made it. I really liked Death Valley Days. They played the thing on the radio every fifteen minutes, and I still couldn't get enough of it. Evidently it spoke to me, and somebody else. I remember finding it and playing it several years ago with big disappointment. I liked that? You were a child. The same child that Heartbreak Hotel changed into somebody who found feeling in music. And that so soon after Johnny Ray's Cry, I could so easily have been carried away by, but my daddy was. That was enough. Same with Enzio Pinza's, or whoever it was sang In The Garden, that beautiful song my daddy killed for me when he had to get up and sing it in front of everybody at church. Heartbreak Hotel was mine. Elvis will never last. Rock and roll will never last. Half a century later, whoever heard of Johnny Ray? Kin to Link Wray? Faye Wray?



Caterpillar is somewhat subdued in TarBaby's absence. Tapo is too. They lay about. They like to go outside the door enough to lie in the sun for a bit, crawl under the house for privacy. Throw in my own quiet, and it kind of seems like all of us are in mourning. I don't know if they are because I am or if they feel the loss of their own. The relationship between Caterpillar and Tapo has changed remarkably. They both had hissy fits if the other approached too quickly, or passed by too close, or, worst of all, touched. Now they rub by each other in passing, even walk over each other. The one rubbed lets out a half-hearted hiss, for the record. I don't know if it's my own projection, which I'm willing to give it to, but it seems they have a new sisterhood about them, like, it's just us. They are now house cats. Outside the door is the death zone. Less fleas that way, only what I carry in.



Caterpillar and Tapo have become so close to me now I can only let them outside when I can be out there to guard them in case of dog attack. They look to me now like little moving targets walking around. I'm more concerned about dogs than coyotes. I tend to pay more attention to Tapo and Caterpillar than usual, hold them closer, talk to them more, remind them every day to stay away from dogs. In the door or up a tree. Dogs are not your friends. The 3 of us are developing new relationships with everything changed. It's understood Caterpillar rules, but Caterpillar isn't demanding. She'd rather lie in a sunbeam. When it's movie time, they both pile on. It's no longer a question of which of the 3 was first on my lap. Now, it's which of the 2. The other curls up on the pillow at my feet to wait her turn.



Volcanic ash shutting down European airways on the news. A few days ago I heard a pilot tell of flying along at night and the engines quit. He was way up there, 23,000 ft (don't quote me), couldn't speak on the intercom because the turning engines kept the radio circuits going. He glided a great big passenger jet through the volcanic ash in the dark to 12,000 ft where they left the ash cloud and the engines started. He told it in great pilot manner, like there was nothing to it. Probably just one of his many tight moments he's had to figure out in a hurry. That's why only people with fast minds get to fly those planes. On the ship in the Navy was a guy whose name might have been Soto, who would do things like say, Think Fast, and throw you a typewriter. That kind of fast thinking.



It's frustrating to Caterpillar that I don't let her outside but in short spells. At night, I turn the lights on when she wants to go out and I listen. Everything has changed. We don't have birds anymore. I'm wondering what is happening in Central America where they winter, United Fruit Companies and other corporate enterprises taking advantage of cheap labor, poisoning the fields outside the bounds of American standards, which kills birds anyway. Central America is loaded with corporate agriculture and pesticides that poison the bugs the birds eat. They come here, they eat bugs poisoned by pesticides. They don't have a chance. Like honey bees and cell phones. Good-bye bees. Lots of drastic changes going on now, near and far. Once we had birds, but television was too good for anybody to notice. Then we had no birds, and television was still too good for anybody to notice. Cats get a lot of the birds too. They're not telling about it on television; it's not good for birdseed sales. Lots of things don't get on tv.

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