Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sadie Steinberg (1920-2018)



Field Guide

by Lisa Hirschfield
for her grandmother Sadie


Our morning walks
through cool chaparral
salt air and wild sage
trying and often failing
to memorize 
the accurate flash 
of color
until I could get home 
and open the book you gave me 

Golden-crowned sparrow 
house finch
Oregon junco
not to be confused 
with the rufous-sided towhee
and once the actual blue 
of a robin’s egg

All unexotic
but I wanted to know their names
their songs
their seasons
their other homes

Unlike learning to press wildflowers
watching your hands
gently arranging
larkspur
sand aster
cranesbill

and the illicit orange 
of the California poppy 
We interred them between volumes 
of the World Book Encyclopedia 
1955

For days I imagined pages 
of bright fields
But there was no place 
in my world yet
for faded things forced
into the wrong dimension

Though I must have saved them somewhere
because I never could throw anything away
because back then 
everything had a face

Now I am only sure of your body
so delicate it takes
four men to lift
so you can lie in the garden 
warming 
maybe feel the breeze
brush your paper skin

I imagine myself descending 
like you into these flowers 
you once named cosmos
but then my body buoyed 
by this invisible sea 
of sound and light 

How will you recede 
to that single point in the dark

When I was ten 
you told me 
once you hear a meadowlark
you can never forget it

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Reclaiming Sun Ra's Legacy



An excellent story by my friend Jim Knipfel about Sun Ra's posthumous legacy, posted at The Believer. The article discusses at length the work I've been doing since late 2013 administering and sorting out Ra's convoluted catalog and rights conflicts on behalf of Sun Ra LLC, the heirs of Herman Poole Blount. Pictured above: administrator and his "boss," Thomas Jenkins, Jr. (a.k.a. "Capt. T"), son of Ra's older sister Mary and patriarch of the family. Photo snapped Nov. 22, 2014, outside the Jenkins home in Powder Springs, Georgia.

From the article:
"Thomas—a man I love and admire for his diligence, humor, and strength of character—explained to me the parade of unscrupulous characters who, after Ra's departure, emerged from the shadows to assert rights without lawful claims. Jenkins provided conclusive, documented proof of chain-of-title on Ra's rights for Sun Ra LLC, as well as a chronicle of dubious, and in some cases provably fraudulent, claims by those who felt entitled to a financial stake in Sunny's artistic legacy. And when I say financial stake, I should add, such as it was. Ra died impoverished, and owed the IRS—are you ready?—$146,799.95." 
Chusid admits he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to step inside Sun Ra’s universe to try and sort a few things out.  “I did it to help Michael [D. Anderson], because he asked,” he says in retrospect. “I did not comprehend the scope of the task ahead and had no idea where it would lead. To be honest, I foresaw a tremendous expenditure of time and labor without any prospect of making it profitable. Just about every project I've developed—Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Jim Flora, Langley Schools, Shooby Taylor, outsider music—started as a labor of love, a challenge, something that intrigued me, and that was grounded on a unique artistic legacy that appealed to me. It was that way with Sun Ra. He's one of the great, unsung musical geniuses of the 20th century—easily dismissed as a crackpot or a charlatan by those who barely know his music. And if all you know is 'Space is the Place,' you don't know his music."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

One Space Cat



One Space Cat consists of recordings I made with R. Stevie Moore in 2008-2009. I sang and played drums and percussion. The lovely Amy Annelle duets on "Sin City" and Lane Steinberg plays all but drums and sings backing vox on "You Never Know." The album could have been called I Can't Sing, But I Sang (apologies to Florence Foster Jenkins). These tracks, released in December 2015 without fanfare, are not a resume item, but were fun to record. I love these songs, and it was an honor to perform them. They're available in iTunes and elsewhere, but you can have them for free. Download here.

The cover art is an acrylic painting by an unknown artist, found in a Frenchtown NJ antique shop.

The tracks were originally recorded and written by:
"Best of Both Worlds" - Miley Cyrus (as Hannah Montana; comp. by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil)
"Cinnamon Girl" - Neil Young
"Sin City" - Flying Burrito Brothers (comp. Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman)
"Since K Got Over Me" - The Clientele (comp. Alasdair MacLean)
"You Never Know" - Wilco (comp. Jeff Tweedy)
"I Want You in My Life" - R. Stevie Moore
"I'm From New Jersey" - John Gorka

Instrumental versions are included if you're inclined to record your own vocal.