SECTION THREE

sm
COLUMN 106, JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist) 

RETROPOP SCENE:
THE COSMIC GOURMET
DELIGHT


DAVID AMRAM

We were walking down Sixth Avenue when Dave Amram said he wanted to get a cosmic gourmet delight.

"A cosmic gourmet delight?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said, "a cosmic gourmet delight. I ask for a cosmic gourmet delight and he gives me what he wants to give me anyway."

We walked into Art Foods a concert of contemporary Delicatessen, the last of the old-time Village Intellectual lunch hangouts of the l0th Street neighborhood where Igor, who used to be a drama and music critic before the war, keeps his library in the back booth.  When Igor's busy, he expects his friends to understand why he serves them last.  Amram immediately went behind the counter and asked three doctors and a nurse from St. Vincent's Hospital what they wanted.  The doctors were wearing long, white coats.

"I played at the peace demonstration up in Central Park the other day and they were throwing rocks and bottles at Senator Hartke," Dave said. We were underneath the stage and I saw this sign, 'Overthrow The U. S. Gov?ernment By Any Means,' and the musician I was playing with, Roland Mousaa, he's an Apache Indian, a folk singer---he said, 'This doesn't look like a very peaceful scene to me, I want to go home.' So I told him in this type of situation, the audience isn't supposed to make you feel peaceful. You're supposed to make them feel peaceful."

Two of the doctors asked for salamis on rye. The other wanted a turkey on white toast with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing. The nurse with them just wanted a cup of coffee. She was on a diet. Amram immediately put the toast in the toaster, picked up the telephone, poured himself a giant container of coffee and dialed a number.  He was calling RCA, his record company, to ask when his new album was coming out. There had been several delays.

As Amram was finishing a conversation in Spanish with a porter from across the street, the voices of Max Wilcox, RCA's Mr. Golden Ears, and Artur Rubinstein, the man who produces not


David
has learned to think
contrapuntally


only the Philadelphia Orchestra but also David Amram, began crooning into Amram's ear. Max Wilcox told Amram they were trying out a new chemical ingredient in the plastic for his discs and the album would be shipped the first week In December.  Amram said thanks and clicked the phone down just as the toast popped up in the toaster.

"Conducting an orchestra and composing for an orchestra, you learn to think contrapuntally like that," he said. "'That's the way you have to live in New York. That's why I spend as much time as I do in the country. It's the same with all the musical scenes in New York. I conducted a choral rehearsal for a concert of contemporary classical music and then I went up to hear Gordon Lightfoot. There was a party afterwards but Bobby Neuwirth gave us the wrong address and we kept walking up and down Central Park South until we ran into Bobby. He said, 'Man, where you going?' So we followed him and ended up in a dead end."

Amram started making the two salamis on rye and the turkey on white toast with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing. The three doctors and the nurse gave a sigh of relief. As soon as they had been served, Amram went back to the sandwich board and started loading a slice of Pumpernickel with unsalted butter, Russian dressing, a slice of lettuce, two slices of tomato, four slices of cucumber, some finely sliced onions, another slice of rye, salted butter, mayonnaise,   tuna fish, liverwurst---and then a slice of whole wheat bread spread with mustard, a dash of pepper, sardines and anchovy paste. Amram   weighs 192.

'the reason I seem to be so happy," he said, "is because I'm a really serious person.  And now, a great many people in America, including young people, are getting very serious.  And that's true, you know.  He took his sandwich, cut it in two, put It on a plate, came out from behind the counter and sat down at a front table that had just been vacated. The dirtied plates and emptied coffee cups of those who had just vacated the table were still on the table.

  "Artists are really important to our society today," he said. "Music and all forms of expression, when they're done by people who are for real, are the principle means of spiritual communication.  Like Bob Dylan's song about George Jackson is really important, not only because it's beautifully conceived and performed but also because its message will mean something to a whole generation who don't feel that they're getting the news straight.

"Every school and college I go to and every benefit I play, I try to show the audience through my attitude towards the musicians I'm performing with that a lot of people working together are more powerful than one person trying to take it all. That's why I call my new album No More Walls. The walls that kept musicians separated are tumbling down. They're getting united behind the responsibility of keeping alive the spirit."

David Amram nodded for emphasis and then took his first bite on his cosmic gourmet delight.  ##


FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK!

IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM", TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."

 

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