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reading tiger

Reading and Listening

Once again, my reading and my music writing converge thanks to the death of Justin Chin, who left us Christmas Eve after suffering a stroke. I've been re-reading his poetry, and thus ended up with an earworm of "The Rose" thanks to a passage in his book-length work Gutted. Justin specified the Bette Midler/Wynonna Judd duet version in a footnote.

Read the column here.

The other earworm I have had all week is his distinctive, raspy, deadpan voice. I hear it every time I read his stuff, and, this week, at other times too, sometimes not even saying distinct words, just a cadence.

The story I've been telling about Justin this week is the one about when I went to see a performance of "These Nervous Days" in about 1997 at the SF Art Institute. I was pleased to discover that the text of the performance is reprinted in Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms, which includes the notes that "although Holy Spook is the most performed work, These Nervous Days is probably the most known work." And also, "in some versions of this show, there was a video projected on the rear wall. The video showed stuffed animal plush toys being abused and molested, interspersed with distorted (by being played at various wrong speeds and directions) clips of classic Hollywood movie "deathbed" scenes, and extreme close-up frame-by-frame shots of various eyes." That's the one I saw. This is the performance that ends with him drawing a syringe of his own HIV+ blood, injecting it into a carton of milk, pouring the milk into a glass (pink and white and swirled), and then drinking it. As I said elsewhere earlier, I can use this performance description as a litmus test. If you "get it," I want to get to know you better. The part I left out in my earlier retelling is that I also remember telling it to my Clarion class just a year at most after I saw it, and watching them all turn away in horror (except one, you know who you are). Maybe I shouldn't have told it over lunch, though.

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