When I was in the jug, the guy in the next cell would each morning wake the block by cheerily chiming: “Wake up and do your time.”
The idea being that to sleep through the day was to cheat: to properly serve one’s sentence one had to be up and about. Doing something, anything, even if there was clearly no point to it, seeing as how as you were locked away in a cage.
More than twenty years on, age and ennui having transformed life itself into something of a sentence, I often come to consciousness with the same thought: “Wake up and do your time.”
The fact that there don’t seem to be any bars about when I today awake doesn’t really mean anything. In a long-abandoned novel, I pulled from the ether a character confined in a mental institution who proposed that part of the reason he was so confined was because he had discovered that the only really true free place on the planet is the Bohemian Grove. All else is prison. The fact that the prison is much larger than the free space, he pointed out, did not make it any less a prison.
Anyway. These days, to encourage me to wake up and do my time, I sometimes summon music. In recent months, I’ve taken to slouching into Tuesdays, as that day is referenced within it, behind a 1994 number from something called The Freddy Jones Band, “In a Daydream.”
You can find the thing below. The video is uninteresting and even a little frightening: those are some pretty pasty white boys. But the song itself does have that lift.
The Moody Blues’ “Tuesday Afternoon,” like “In a Daydream,” involves upbeat messages received from nature and pleasant misty mental states. Why Tuesdays would have such an effect on musicians I have no idea: the day is, after all, named after and ruled by the war god Mars, not a fellow normally associated with tree-hugging, cloud-luluing, and happily loving life.
“Tuesday Afternoon” was always a more melancholy song than “In A Daydream,” and today I find I get no lift from it whatsoever. This is no doubt at least partially the result of repeated exposure. Scoop Nisker used to caution that both experiences and memories are akin to cassette tapes: every time you play them, a wee bit rubs away. Play them over and over and over again, and eventually they’ll become so degraded they’ll barely sound at all. It was to combat this effect that Nisker would journey to Asia every year, there to enter for a month or so some Buddhist monastery, where he could “rest the tapes.”
An excellent example of how, in music, one can kill the one they love by obsessive repeated rewinding and replaying of the tape is San Francisco Chronicle Jon Carroll‘s experience with Paul Simon’s Graceland. For months and then years after the thing was released, Carroll waxed rhapsodic about it, over and over and over again. He couldn’t play it enough; couldn’t praise it enough; eventually, he sounded like Philip K. Dick genuflecting before Beethoven’s Ninth. Until, one day, to his shock, he discovered that he got nothing from Graceland at all. The thrill was gone. He’d completely degraded the tape.
And now the tubes tell me that there on the TV “Tuesday Afternoon” is currently being used to push Visa. Oh well.
It was shortly after I was subjected to the horror of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” enlisted to sell dishwashing detergent that I retired my television.