Halfway home, the sky goes from dark gray to almost black and a loud thunder snap accompanies the first few raindrops that fall. Heavy, warm, big drops, they drench me in seconds, like an overturned bucket from the sky dumping just on my head. I reach my hands up and out, as if that can stop my getting wetter and open my mouth, trying to swallow the downpour, till it finally hits me how funny it is, my trying to stop the rain.This is so funny to me, I laugh and laugh, as loud and free as I want. Instead of hurrying to higher ground, I jump lower, down off the curb, splashing through the puddles, playing and laughing all the way home. In all my life till now, rain has meant staying inside and not being able to go out to play. But now for the first time I realize that rain doesn't have to be bad. And what's more, I understand, sadness doesn't have to be bad, either. Come to think of it, I figure you need sadness, just as you need the rain.Thoughts and ideas pour through my awareness. It feels to me that happiness is almost scary, like how I imagine being drunk might feel - real silly and not caring what anybody else says. Plus, that happy feeling always leaves so fast and you know it's going to go before it even does. Sadness lasts longer, making it more familiar and more comfortable. But maybe, I wonder, there's a way to find some happiness in the sadness. After all, it's like the rain, something you can't avoid. And so, it seems to me, if you're caught in it, you might as well try to make the best of it.Getting caught in the warm, wet deluge that particular day in that terrible summer full of wars and fires that made no sense was a wonderful thing to have happen. It taught me to understand rain, not to dread it. There were going to be days, I knew, when it would pour without warning, days when I'd find myself without an umbrella. But my understanding would act as my all-purpose slicker and rubber boots. It was preparing me for stormy weather, arming me with the knowledge that no matter how hard it seemed, it couldn't rain forever. At some point, I knew, it would come to an end.
Antwone Quenton Fisher
Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us--simpatico dudes that we are--while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time--while the other dudes hold onto the wire. Which is not to say that no one has tried to dispense with wires. Many have and sometimes it works--but it doesn't feel like jazz when it does. The music simply drifts away into the stratosphere of formal dialectic, beyond our social concerns.Rock-and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us--as damaged and anti-social as we are--might possibly get it to-fucking-gether, man and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we can't. The song's too simple and we're too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whetehr we want it to or not. Just because we're breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.And you can thank the wanking eighties, if you wish and digital sequencers, too, for proving to everyone that technologically perfect rock--like free jazz--sucks rockets. Because order sucks. I mean, look at the Stones. Keith Richards is always on top of the beat and Bill Wyman, until he quit, was always behind it, because Richards is leading the band and Charlie Watts is listening to him and Wyman is listening to Watts. So the beat is sliding on those tiny neural lapses, not so you can tell, of course, but so you can feel it in your stomach. And the intonation is wavering, too, with the pulse in the finger on the amplified string. This is the delicacy of rock-and-roll, the bodily rhetoric of tiny increments, necessary imperfections and contingent community. And it has its virtues, because jazz only works if we're trying to be free and are, in fact, together. Rock-and-roll works because we're all a bunch of flakes. That's something you can depend on and a good thing too, because in the twentieth century, that's all there is: jazz and rock-and-roll. The rest is term papers and advertising.
Dave Hickey
You know, one time I saw Tiger down at the water hole: he had the biggest testicles of any animal and the sharpest claws and two front teeth as long as knives and as sharp as blades. And I said to him, Brother Tiger, you go for a swim, I’ll look after your balls for you. He was so proud of his balls. So he got into the water hole for a swim and I put his balls on and left him my own little spider balls. And then, you know what I did? I ran away, fast as my legs would take me I didn’t stop till I got to the next town, And I saw Old Monkey there. You lookin’ mighty fine, Anansi, said Old Monkey. I said to him, You know what they all singin’ in the town over there? What are they singin’? he asks me. They singin’ the funniest song, I told him. Then I did a dance and I sings, Tiger’s balls, yeah, I ate Tiger’s balls Now ain’t nobody gonna stop me ever at all Nobody put me up against the big black wall ’Cos I ate that Tiger’s testimonials I ate Tiger’s balls. Old Monkey he laughs fit to bust, holding his side and shakin’ and stampin’, then he starts singin’ Tiger’s balls, I ate Tiger’s balls, snappin’ his fingers, spinnin’ around on his two feet. That’s a fine song, he says, I’m goin’ to sing it to all my friends. You do that, I tell him and I head back to the water hole. There’s Tiger, down by the water hole, walkin’ up and down, with his tail switchin’ and swishin’ and his ears and the fur on his neck up as far as they can go and he’s snappin’ at every insect comes by with his huge old saber teeth and his eyes flashin’ orange fire. He looks mean and scary and big, but danglin’ between his legs, there’s the littlest balls in the littlest blackest most wrinkledy ball-sack you ever did see. Hey, Anansi, he says, when he sees me. You were supposed to be guarding my balls while I went swimming. But when I got out of the swimming hole, there was nothing on the side of the bank but these little black shriveled-up good-for-nothing spider balls I’m wearing. I done my best, I tells him, but it was those monkeys, they come by and eat your balls all up and when I tell them off, then they pulled off my own little balls. And I was so ashamed I ran away. You a liar, Anansi, says Tiger. I’m going to eat your liver. But then he hears the monkeys coming from their town to the water hole. A dozen happy monkeys, boppin’ down the path, clickin’ their fingers and singin’ as loud as they could sing, Tiger’s balls, yeah, I ate Tiger’s balls Now ain’t nobody gonna stop me ever at all Nobody put me up against the big black wall ’Cos I ate that Tiger’s testimonials I ate Tiger’s balls. And Tiger, he growls and he roars and he’s off into the forest after them and the monkeys screech and head for the highest trees. And I scratch my nice new big balls and damn they felt good hangin’ between my skinny legs and I walk on home. And even today, Tiger keeps chasin’ monkeys. So you all remember: just because you’re small, doesn’t mean you got no power.
Neil Gaiman