BAR 017 CD

‘Dirty Windows’ is the first full length release of Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo since ‘From here to infinity’ in 1986. It contains Ranaldo’s music and spoken word pieces on CD, plus a book with a selection of his writings and photo’s by Leah Singer. Travelogues in time, a stream of impressions of people and places gliding by on their way to the fixed state of a photographic image.

 

OPENING

this is the longest movie

I’ve ever been in

nothing can alter these images

this is life like a movie

so real to the touch

injected with feelings

with no final fading

 

this is the same still frame

that holds us like frozen lanterns

in mid embrace

this is the movie that should last forever

always on the screen

this is the phone left off the hook

 

we must be responsible

and contain our movements

to a few frames on each reel

but we can freeze the image

and extinguish the sounds

of everything outside yr room

a drawn out sigh becomes the pealing of bells

yr skin an endless surface

which I will explore again and again

 

this is a moment which we must save

to prove such things are possible

this perfect kiss cannot be erased

tho its’ image may fade and bleach

what comes next doesn’t matter

only this perfect, living image

shut from the world

safe in our heads

 

we’ll live in our heads now

bright musty chambers

shut from the world

no windows open

swept under the carpet

 

SKIES / LAST NIGHT

 

I’ve been studying the skies here

by default

they do not reply.

Death surrounds me

whips past the steeples

time exposures

moving fast.

 

Last night

at last

a vision:

deep hiways

we racing

the trees standing

hard edged

every leaf outlined

every gesture frozen.

 

Then the trees

were dancing

alongside us

-4 a.m. and

time they danced

In dark pools

black holes in the land

In a night

so deep

so opaque

it would never crack.

Heavy grasslands

girls w thick

black hair

and dark eyes.

 

SECOND SIGHT

 

Second sight

is mine tonight

Every thing that’s past this threshold

is now clear

Every mistake stands out

in hard light

Every knot

every misshapen image

every dust mote

all the dirt

Grains of every hour drop

Several sins are mine

Several roads have been left

Several seasons in time

can be see clearly

in hindsight

 

DIRTY WINDOWS

 

Pelts!  Human pelts for sale – get ‘em while they still stink.   On

Seventh Avenue by West Fourth Street a Puerto Rican girl is screaming

at a black guy, they’re pushed up very close.  Jade and I are walking

by, night.  I wasn’t making out with him! she screams.  Bitch!

Bitch! he’s yelling back.  Then as we’re moving along: I didn’t stick

my tongue in his mouth!  O yeah you bitch!  Amazing how quickly this

arguement escalated from one thing to the next.  I wanted to turn to

look but only did at the last moment as we rounded some construction,

fearing she’d point me out to him and he’d come at me with his six

inch gold blade next.  This film tonight was full of brutal

stabbings, and I don’t like knives one bit, having once been on the

holding end, staring at the gash.

 

Let me take you to the last scene first and work backwards across

this thing: this gripping film, as they say – this is the picture the

term was made for – which took all of about two and a half minutes,

seemingly, to inject it’s tale into my skull.  Or was it up my ass,

jamming in another nail, maybe?

 

Last shot* : the white hero cop laying in the dirt outside the old

house as his backups pull up, his multiple wounds filling with dust,

his flannel shirt a bloody wreck.  He’s cradling a little black boy -

his unknowing son – in his arms.  The boy’s mom is shot on the porch,

a hole in her forehead, alongside her scheming companions.  The pros

from LA are too late.  He’s laying, dying, holding this little boy

cradled in his arm.  Her brother could’ve saved her, but he chose to

hide her out, and helped to kill her.  The cop himself could’ve owned

up to having fucked her and fathered this little child, too, but he

also helped kill her instead.  After all he had an eight year old of

his own at home, with a white woman, of course.  The dick from LA was

slipping whiskey into his morning coffee, he too a lost fuck up.  The

rest were all hicks, hoodlums or slow.  They

 

all died in the end.  When it’s finally revealed that this bumpkin

cop who’s going to try to be the hero had fucked the beautiful black

girl and fathered her child, it was all just too clean and pretty. So

why should the end of this movie have been so affecting? Why did we

walk home in silence, one full hour, all these filthy visions of this

city drifting by, all these contradictions playing out before our

eyes?  I can’t even recount them all now in any fair sequence, but

thoughts seemed to unfold like a true short story – which is what

this movie was, and why we like short stories – not just Carver’s

either – and why movies approximate them, in one sitting.

 

I spoke to Cody on the phone today – this is the first thing I

thought, thinking about that little boy in the movie – Daddy are you

gonna see me today?  That’s the kind of question kids ask these days.

Yeah I’m gonna see you, son.  Can we baseball, baseball, baseball?

Yeah, guess we can.  I spent the day trying to sell some records.

Talking about myself.  Feeding some bland new images to the world.

 

When a bum brushed Jade’s shoulder and spazzed off some fat girls in

suburban clothes standing on the corner with their boyfriends laughed

like the idiots they were.  Signs everywhere are advertising every

little last lame thing, and in these dark streets after all those

blades every person seems treacherous, an enemy, especially on the

darkest streets. Under the flourescence of a Citibank sign a black

man lay with his shirt off on the sooty marble, only his eyes which

followed us giving any sign of life.

 

In Koln, Germany a few nights back, on a small street I walked

alongside a polished XJ6 with it’s engine running, parked in the

darkened lane, and it was only after a moment that I realized the

driver was getting head from a local street walker.  Gay men were

walking arm in arm, in relative peace under the dark quiet night

there.

 

The tape plays music made on insturments fashinoned exclusively from

human remains; skulls and bones echoing in a subteranean cave…

 

On a night like this I fear for the lives of my loved ones, and

discount all dreams.  Here I walk beside this beautiful young woman,

she’s finishing her chocalate ice cream.  But another love sits home,

alone, tonight, are they pushing in her screen window at this very

moment?

 

Fuck the icons and media salesmen.  Fuck the baseball players and the

president.  Fuck Marilyn Monroe, up there too in a window, she died

30 years ago and I don’t have any designs on her corpse.  How

unimportant she is, really.  What else, what else? Human pelts, get

em now!  All words escape me now.  All pictures of this silent night.

I’ve written a book in my head, oh yeah, and fuck me too, most of

all, because you’ll never read it.

 

The carnival machines were all folded  up and the lights in the

square were being taken down further up Seventh Avenue.  The streets

were filled with people, beautiful ones in tight black, and ugly ones

in flapping bolts of frayed and faded cloth, and they each had a

movie flashing in their heads, all playing out at once.  I can’t hear

any of them right now.  Why do they all seem to be suffering, nearly

laying down in these dirt awful streets?

 

On Fifth Avenue above Fourteenth Street some people behind us were

yelling and we crossed the street, avoiding the shadows under the

trees.  All the shop windows dead, waiting to scream into the traffic

again, come daylight.

 

Jade, yr bare foot goes up and down beside me now, and I’m

exceptionally comforted knowing it’s you here, yet I wonder if I’ll

ever be free to enjoy this moment, with yr lovely tapping foot; free

of all the ghosts and real people crowding around me.

 

My mother called and I happened to pick up the phone at Duane Street.

Well well do you recognize my voice?  I guess you just haven’t had

time for thinking of us, have you?  It’s been three weeks!  I guess

we just don’t rate anymore.  I’d been away, true, but now home three

days I could only stammer and wonder where all the time goes.  Been

busy…

 

I’ve got projects, Projects, do you hear?  Left right and center,

above and all around me now, not least of which is baseball bsball

bsball with Cody, and every second of these days now is being

consumed with endless activity.  Some people should be so lucky…

 

swing leg, swing

draw me into a world of the flesh

draw me closer to ev’ry spinning image

lead me on into rosy sunlight

grass

green

love

life

drumming

drumming

scratching at all these

dirty windows

knocking

hard

on

all the panes

one ending

following another

crescendo upon crescendo

wave

wave

wave

never letting up

never letting up

pounding the message home.

 

THE END OF LIFE IN AMERICA…

 

the end of life in america

a broken chain of meanings

a torn carpet

that gash in the wall

where the chair flew

dirt under the beds

meaningless headlines

and silence between us

years swallowed up

waiting for something to happen

 

 

ANGELS

 

mindfuck on the teevee

says you’re a jackass

sitting finger-to-button

as unknown teletypes clamor

far off, in my head

they speak of ideas

i haven’t yet seen

 

one million people passed me today

you passed me

eyes to the ground

the dog hadn’t been fed all day

and she has strewn the garbage

from the kitchen pail

throughout the house

she starves, and wonders why

 

your angels are dead

the last of a breed

the sky a hollow tomb now

you can’t see it yet

walking the streets

but you’ll find out later…

 

death on the hiway

crash on the levee

tears of love

dis-belief

radio eruption

crazy roads running

cruising infinite

auto-dimension

auto-matic freedom

confuse

confuse

delude

delude

refute

refrain

black tread in

circles caught

headlight beam-search

explosive glass-shatter

red arclight warning

screaming metal field

dreamland wheel-spin

the flower

the meadow

the hill

proceed with caution

proceed with caution

 

*  *  *

 

images from a child’s dream

rising, awake

through sunlit portals

a fallen angel

no longer

in earth orbit

no more

a dark angel

on a stolen ocean

sails up

into the wind

voices reaching

through distant

fingertips of sound

the ideal transfer

from me to you

the crystal encasement

held, locked tight, forever

 

allow

for a moment

if you will:

 

the

angels

glide

down

on

wings

of

corten

steel.

wings of victory

that

is

their

feat.

 

a solitary

thrill

a lonely moment

a dark pool

a damp threat

 

wish fulfillment

 

SMOKE RING

 

Right now we’re in northern California traveling through dusty

valleys ringed by tall peaks.  An ancient feeling to the movement of

the car – as if hurtling down and endless moibius strip of hiway, the

same moods, same golden dusts and strips of land go by again and

again.  We settle comfortably into a timeless niche:  a hard fact on

the freeway.  We, mute, static, looking over eternal world planet.

I’ll see you when we break free of this void…

 

THE LEAP OF FAITH

 

One of those rainy day car rides, my head imploding.  The atmosphere

in this car a mirror of my skull:  wet, damp, windows dripping and

misted with cold.  Walls of gray.  Nothing good on the radio, not a

thought in my head.  I’m clouded over and hemmed in.

 

We’re back in New York State now.  After all the traveling I’d

forgotten this place still existed.  The trees are all yellow and

orange under the cold rain, leaves half gone and sort of glowing

under this dusky sky.  The vineyards here are withered and colorless

by comparison, rooted into this green earth, this world of clay.

 

Here’s one:  telephone poles like praying mantis against the sky,

metal arms outstretched.

 

So much land traveled, so little sense made of it.  It doesn’t mean a

thing, this land all laying out behind us.  I’d like to take off into

these woods and just get good and lost for awhile.  I’m disgusted

with petty concerns, parking tickets, breakfast specials.  Does

someone just have to carry this weight?  A certain pressure out here

in Nowheresville – ideas flow but don’t stick, they appear and then

run off like rain on the windshield.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

The windshield itself is exploding.  I’m moving out into these clouds

of orange with a big, winged, gliding stroke.  All that is real now

is a black-cut shape of mountains against the horizon.  Taillight

beacons tell me there’s life up ahead.  How can I make this postcard

available to you?  Not in any way, no how.  But it’s waiting for you:

take a left off Hiway 686 and just keep going.

 

Take a left

off hwy 686

and just keep going.

 

Try and pick up on the wind.

Stay outta cars.

Stop smoking.

History set this trap.

 

The plains reise up to meet the silhouette of the mtns and I barely

recognize this mean black road, not sure where it’s going.  I want

off, now, next exit.  I’m lost, years lost on this road.  How to move

through life’s mysterious shroud?

 

THE LEAP OF FAITH.  It cannot be rationalized or pried free with

dogma.  To see this crescent moon glow silver in the sky should be

enough.  Let me leap; prove to me that life simply is, and nothing

more.  I am not insane, like Daniel who can pour forth uninhibited

like a dog, free from the critical gaze.  Spinning forth from the hub

of a wheel on fire is a logic which makes me cling, and spin

helplessly.  I am caught in a web of logic, synapses crackling in

this heat.  No free lines of verse can escape.  No word-play can jump

the net of mind, to flee across the plains in peace.  Where shall I

go?  What shall I do?  Have I been here before?  All these questions

still unanswered.

 

 

The hiway stretch

laying like lead.

De ter i or at ing.

The sky here

is a big sky,

as large as the mind,

loud, and beautiful,

just like heaven.

 

A BIT OF MEMORY

 

summer’s almost on

the diamond days ahead

i can feel it

the need to immerse

to pull under its’ cover

its’ foggy haze

 

i can take it all in

and open the gate

throw sand in the cracks

and watch it filter down

 

this is the end of the day

these are the times of our lives

talking, hoping

laying in wait

trying to stumble across something sensible.

 

all the boys tighten their belts and

stick it to each other.

who is on top?

and who is in place?

 

open the papers

and tell me the news

light up the pages

WAIT for tomorrow

climb down off that truck

 

Ignition:

charged up

screaming in the din

waiting for nothing

I REMEMBER EVERY WORD YOU SAID

each time we meet

I can’t remember

yesterday

but I can remember

ten years ago

when nothing was important

and everything mattered

QUITE A CLEAR PICTURE

the back porch was so significant then

gleaming glasses on sunlit tables

green and gold and brown

you said nothing was important

and everything mattered

epic discussions

and then

 

I’d meet you in the bedroom

sliding across your body

late in the night

while they’re talking next door

through thin walls

under low lights

meeting in the bedroom

and not speaking  a word

 

a dead end world

of memory floods

ideas under water

wet as stones

all the machinery rusted

till nothing was left

our house itself raised

I set up a room on yr porch

it was summer by then

the cats slept in the middle of the driveway

the light shot straight through the pines

from Syracuse all the way to Binghamton

 

a room for me on yr porch

you danced around me in that room

the last time I really had friends

was the last time I really had none

a group without enmity, ended

they tore the house down

and tarred it over

 

Memory is an epic poem, an endless story, the details shifting in

place.  Hazy light on dim faces, photos turning grey.  I need a

fulcrum to lift each day now, to elevate need to a burning desire.

I remember the pressing need, the longing, the beautiful empty

feeling of wanting, of being incomplete.  But that was long ago.  I

can’t remember how it went.  Now nothing matters, and everything,

every damned thing, is important.  Memories are forever backing up,

mixing up, jumbled and unclear.  All that i have left to strive for,

each event these days, means less and less.  And yet every damn thing

is so important.

 

TRAIN WRECK

 

I can’t think about God

I can’t see his face

can barely find this day

these road movies

But I can feel yr sigh

from here

just read yr letter

about the rain

I think about you

again and again

yr split face

yr empty shell

at the end of the cable

out on the wint’ry range

 

cards on the table

radiatorhissss

unbelievable nonstop conversation

Miss Understanding

you are Miss Communication

I’m an earphone

Yr. a radio tower

I love you

 

junkyard language

loose change

lost ideas

brand new satellites

a Mack truck this close

out of the woods

and onto my tongue

a blank sheet

invisible

dark skin

invisible

deep ocean

crystal spray

damp hair

the whole of you

vanishing

invisible

 

X 9

 

We’re out past the desert now, in the rolling gold of Texas and

Oklahoma farmlands.  LA is just a few days past, and a dream already.

Out here the sun is beating down so hard that all memory is erased.

No-one out in the sun here.  It appears almost deserted.  Voices have

been replaced by lge colorful billboards, fading in the heat.  They

sing on wavelengths of light.

 

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA: AUTUMN

 

I cannot concentrate

Everything before me blurrs together

until nothing is sharp, or simple

Our lives mixed up, and complicated

In the bookstore I can barely see

to let a few words from some page through

 

All these words collide

and jostle one another:  Anne Sexton:

I open at random and find ‘Sylvia’s Death’

which then

bumps against biographical blurbs on Dylan, and Joni,

A children’s book about weasels

and how life consumes life

A map of the heavens, every star illuminated

A recollection of some long lost memory

 

The courthouse square, my head still for a moment

The breeze scattering jewel-like leaves all at my feet

Burnt violet, bright yellow, mottled reds and oranges

I press a few into my book, why?

Have you kicked through leaves, in the city?

Let them come up under your toe?

Well I have, out here, while thinking of you.

 

I cannot concentrate, cannot shut off this day

How I’d love to do it clear.

Where am I, amidst these blowing leaves

which shake shake shake and fall

through the telephone wires?

 

The world is too full,

I wait for it to spill at my feet

like these leaves

Your eyes appear everywhere:

in the green lawns,

and upon these frozen statues

The jade plants in this window echo your stage name

I am late and I do not care

Absent from where I should be

Neglectful of my duties

Trying to sort out these various avenues

which run to and fro

 

I have made a new book from all the random pages

The story the same no matter how we sequence it

Change is in the heart

The head waits, and follows, a slower creature

and that is what I am doing, now

 

Waiting

for this pursuit to end

Waiting

to see you again

You or anyone who can disconnect me

Show me some new language

Close the car door

Find the nearest exit.

 

Help me clear this up

Help me keep this feeling

Help me save these thoughts,

which I want to hold so much

Help me see this through.

 

TO MARY

 

Mary

a word

a simple word

are you there

in the cold country?

mtns in yr eyes

like a tunnel?

yr mouth still full?

horses galloping

across yr pages?

i’m coming thru

doldrums thru

the trees

to wet sounds

of life.  sun

filled rms.

a word just

a word

to mark yr

absence.

 

NOTES:

 

cards:

Hallowe’en

ideas

early stills

our portraits

fire-wheels

optical eye-prints

:the name

:the title

:full length

 

Susan driving

in twenty-four frames

a walk thru woods

in single frames

on a roll

tape edits

southern exposures

rhythmic beating

 

notes:

from London

Moniek, so blonde

wanting the card

 

that cool green one

so big

and the bridge

blurred

w birds flying

west

the yellow priest

in cool

streetlampglo

 

ENROUTE

 

enroute thru Missouri,

Illinois and now Kentucky

on to Atlanta thru

the 3 a.m. hazy

moonglow night.

finally the visions

have come:  L.A. and after

tumbling one upon the next.

 

LOOSE/HEAT

 

I hear the beat of drums, the clatter of pool balls on the ancient

greens of fast eddie’s, the hum of electric current, voltage flowing

thru me. A bone-crunching pain.  Threatening to level everything, to

seal in this world.  Life hangs, in danger of being erased.  The more

you have the more you stand to lose when the fires come burning up to

your door.  The church steeple looms out and over me and bends in the

heat, bursting w the spirits of ancient prayers.  On the street

headlights gleam.  Nobody walks out of this dark heat.

 

*  *  *

 

I’m soaked, I love it.

the road rolls, it groans at noon and wraps around the landscape

in the evening, the sun setting fireball red under a desert moon.

a moaning moon, cool and electric after midnight.

weeping radiant heat.

majestic arms spread.

indian ghosts on the high ridges.

yellow heat.

my skin, w yr. thoughts.

over the top in my head.

cease in the heat.

skin visions.

electric aces cool us.

 

my choice suicide:

in the desert

in the heat

scorching across the land.

golden visions invade the mind

bleaching the spirit

pulling six ways at once.

yes, to burn on the way out.

 

power lines cut the air

we bask in the current

fuzztone/lovetone

we heat up sounds at night

 

electric whipcrack snap

mental jukebox sailboat

we soak up light

in dark rooms

 

*  *  *

things are moving

past the window

in a way more

exquisite

than any movie

 

could ever be.

the whole green scene

let loose.

all the cool shit

the young planet

the landscape especially

demands to be run through.

I touch the earth

I live mental:

the two sides rebel.

I can’t see clear.

I can’t see anymore

at all.

We can’t belong

because

we don’t belong.

So many things now, the things that happen everyday, to everyone, are

hitting me all at once.  We’re back in the east, close to people.

Kids on the street, little kids, look at me; they’re not sure if they

should look me in the eyes, not sure if they should feel confidence

or fear.  Afraid to look me in the eyes, confusion running inside,

unprepared for this confrontation.  Threatened by the unfamiliar.

How horrible to grow up here.