Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"The lunatic is in my head"

Blogger-Slogger has done its dastardly deeds upon me yet again. I was all set to include a cool illustration here, but there is apparently yet another bug which is preventing me from posting it here. In the meantime, I am just posting this piece sans illustration, and hopefully will be able to add it in later. Sigh....

As the Fourth was my birthday, I decided to have a fireworks show in my brain by injesting some herbal supplements and listening to Pink Floyd's 1973 opus The Dark Side of the Moon,--the second-best selling album of all time, worldwide. Along with PF's Wish You Were Here and Meddle, it was in heavy rotation on my personal soundtrack for many a bong-induced bacchanalian college romp.

Even after 30 years, I find the album breathtaking, straight or stoned. What struck me most this time around, though, was how Clare Torrey's incomparable pre-Mariah, post-Arethra vocals on The Great Gig in the Sky seemed to perfectly mimic the majestic meanderings of a classic blues-tinged guitar riff. It sounded for all the world as if some fallen angel was alternately lamenting for and raging at her sad fate.

Syd Barrett, mentally ill acid casualty/musical genius, and one of the founding members of this legendary psychedelic/prog rock group, was the driving force behind Pink Floyd when the band was formed in 1965. But Barrett, whose behavior had become increasingly bizarre, was for all intents and purposes eased out of the group by '67-68. Stories, both verified and apocryphal, abound concerning his antics. From Wikipedia's article on Barrett:

"On one famous occasion, he refused to mime his performance for an apprearance on the Pat Boone TV show, and stood stock still, his arms limp by his sides, staring fixedly into the camera. In another well-known incident, shortly before going on stage, Syd crushed up the entire contents of a bottle of Mandrax tranquilizer tablets, mixing them with a large quantity of Brylcreem hair cream; he then placed the mixture on top of his head and as he played under the hot stage lights, the viscous mixture softened and began to ooze down his head, giving the appearance that his face was melting."

Forget Janet Jackson's nipple--now this, my friends, is what we call entertainment!

The mystique surrounding Barrett--and his short-lived but wildly experimental and influential musical career--endures today. As Wikipedia notes:

"Although his activity in pop music was short, his influence on 1960s artists (and those of successive generations), especially Pink Floyd, has been profound. Through his acoustic solo albums, he is cited as the first psych folk artist by many....Syd was one of the most original lyricists of his day and was also an innovative guitarist, being one of the first to fully explore the sonic possibilities of distortion and especially the recently-developed echo machine."

Dark Side of the Moon, which was peppered with such hits as Money, Time, and Us and Them, is one of several Pink Floyd recordings that are haunted by the ghost of Barrett. Again, from Wikipedia (I'm quoting them a lot, but you just can't get any better than this):

"Syd's decline was to have a profound effect on Gilmour and Waters' [Pink Floyd members] songwriting, and the theme of mental illness and the shadow of Syd's disintegration permeate all three of Pink Floyd's most successful albums. Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. ...Roger Waters drew on Syd's departure and condition as a major inspiration for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1973)."

On a more metaphyical plane, there is a popular theory abroad about an alleged connection between The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon. This synchronicity, called Dark Side of the Rainbow, occurs when the album is played as a "soundtrack" to the movie.

But wait: there's more...much more. See Wikipedia's excellent articles on :

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd trivia
Dark Side of the Moon
Wish You Were Here
Syd Barrett
Asperger's Syndrome, which some speculate that Barrett suffers from.

The title of this post is taken from Dark Side of the Moon's song Brain Damage.


At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy belated B-Day, Blackie,

When I was a kid, Mickie would tell me all the fireworks were for his B-Day. Of course, I believed him. Afterall, he was one of my older brothers-why would he lie?

Didn't Syd also write some lyrics, or scores for King Crimson? They had the 70's smash hit "21st Century Schidzoid Man", one of my all-time favorites. (A very semi-unbalanced, lyrical tune. It had
a odd mixture of psycho-creative background noise, coupled with a twisted, manic beat, to add to the assortment of weird, musical instruments). Oh, what a song!


At 4:30 PM, Blogger Walker said...

First off Happy Birthday.

What an album, what a show, I saw them twice and I can still see them when I close my eyes and hear the music in my head.
With 24 beers in my gut mixing with the bottle of Jack (which had barely fazed me)Pink Floyd got on stage and started to play. Then the music and the hash I smoked brought me to another plain of existance.
The 3 hour concert with a break in the middle was a total mind fuck.(not to mention the Big Pig foating over my head)
The lyrics hit home in their cryptic way, the hash made it easier to understand what was said and I was left awakened where I stood by the end.
I found my mother knitting one day upstairs in my room. She doesn't understand much english, but she was playing The Dark side of the moon on the record player while she knitted.
I asked her why her choice of this music and she told me it made her relax.
I sat there listening to the music and ignoriing the words and she was right.
The lyrics make me think and the music sooths the soul.

At 1:53 AM, Blogger Bella said...

Elvira- thank you so much for your comment on my site- it has really got me thinking.

I only found it today because Sara made mention of it! Sorry I havent visited earlier...will have to get stuck into your blog.

I will no doubt blog on the Emily situation soon. I got chilled when I read the material about physchopaths. It hits so close to home. Am doing some more reading on the net.

Talk soon

Bella x

PS- Happy birthday for the 4th

At 1:36 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!


Yes! Of course all those fireworks are for our birthday!

I don't think Syd had anything directly to do with King Crimson/Robert Fripp, though they were from the same era. My ex-boyfriend, along with many others, still idolizes the founding member Fripp. CK fans have a huge website, called Elephant Talk, that waxes poetic about the band. BG always teases me that my ex goes to concerts with a paper crown on his head as the band members come out in wheelchairs and walkers and hearing aids and sing their other big hit: Court of the Crimson King.

Actually though, King Crim is still going strong, and sound totally different. The old King Crim featured vocalist Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake and Palmer). I don't think anyone from the orig band exists except for Frippo. The new KC and their offshoots are good, but not worth worshiping, kid style.

21st Century Schizoid man--I thinkk they wrote that one with BG in mind.

Yep, sounds intense. I never saw them in concert: the closest I came was a few laser Floyd shows at the Museum of Natural History's Planetarium. Fathers came with their sons, even.

That's so cool that your mom likes them too. Yep, 2nd best selling LP internationally--all those zillions of record buyers can't all be wrong, right?

In one of those weird cyber-coincidences, my pal Henry had a post yesterday about psychopaths and sociopaths. He had a link to a very cool Wikipedia article about Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is basically the new term the DSM has come up with for sociopaths.

Hope I didn't upset you; but I think this is more common than most people imagine. Love your site; hope you visit again too.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Henry said...

I am so sorry I have arrived at the party so late. I hope I did not miss much of the celebration. That Slogwhore is a real bitch; you shouldn't have to deal with that on your birthday!

As you know, I have been very busy battling the forces of evil entrenched in City Hall. I think I had a breakthrough earlier today, but only time , and the Attorney General, will tell.

Your excellent sounding birthday celebration, complete with fireworks and herbal supplements, reminds me of several similar experiences in my own life.

I could tell you about the wild night I had in high school going to see Laser Floyd at the Hayden Planetarium as a prelude to the JGB show at the Beacon Theatre, and we somehow wound up inside the American Museum of Natural History after hours and found ourselves in the room with the giant blue whale; all while on a couple of hits of acid, but the Floyd connection is just the starting point.

Or, I could tell you about the time I took two Blue Note blotters and went to see the fireworks on the beach in East Hampton followed by a midnight showing of Day of the Dead, but, again, the fireworks connection is only the jumping off point.

I guess I should just tell you about the time I was in Byron Bay, Australia after college, and we picked our very own 'shrooms from a dairy field and made our own big batch of "Fun Guy" tea to celebrate my birthday. Fun Guy Phil is so silly!

First off, Lemme tell ya somethin':

When it comes to 'shrooms, there is nothing as good as fresh picked Psilocybe made into a nice mint tea with a bit of honey. Mmm Mmm, Good!

We began our journey, after the traditional 4:00 PM tea time, traveling up the Cape Byron Nature Trail. We were bugging out on all the sights and sounds, so it took us more than 2 hours to walk the 3 km (1.8 miles). We ended up at the lighthouse; since the Cape is the easternmost point on the entire continent, we spent some time contemplating that and staring at all the patterns in the ocean and in the clouds. Whoa! The sun set was spectacularly enhanced by the chemicals in our brains. Oh, the colors...!

After the sun set, we spun around watching the huge beam of the lighthouse. Woosh....Woosh. It made us dizzy, or was that the fungus? We ran around in the night air, jumping and laughing our heads off.

As the peak of the experience passed, we began out voyage back down the Cape trail. All the night critters were out in full force. The cacophony of the insects was incredible! As you passed by, they would go silent, but start making a ruckus again shortly. The effect was as if we were in a bubble of silence that moved with us as we descended back down to earth.

We ended the night with a huge, gooey pizza, some awesome Aussie beer, and a few bowls of some very kind greenage we scored from some locals.

The best birthday ever!!

I hope yours was better, Elvira.

BTW: The lunatic is actually sitting at your computer, staring into the screen right now! You crazy bitch!

LOL I loves ya, babe!!

PS: You've been holding in that dookie regarding my Letter to the City Manager for a while now; I really feel that it might be unhealthful to hold it in much longer. However, it is one of the best displays of anal retentiveness I have ever seen; you're eyes must be brown.


At 5:35 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


As Babs Streisand would say: "Memories, in the corners of my mind..." Twisted mushroom colored memories of the way we partied our brains into blissful oblivion...sigh.

Your stories sound like they could be made into an Easy Rider or Electric Kool Aid Acid Test redux. Young globe-trotting party lovers grabbing the gusto and squeezing out every last drop, from NYC to the Hamptons to Australia, with the aid of some of the best hallucinogens known to man.

I can't even begin to compete. Yes, I did see Laser Floyd, but I was cold stone sober at the time. No Hamptons frolicking--just a little doob in Montauk. Only overseas trip was to London and environs--also totally stone cold sober--even quit the cigs! Never did acid or 'shrooms--some little inner voice (LOL) warned me that I might just lose my little mind--and this was way before I actually did misplace it. Yes, the lunatic--and the party--are mainly in my head. But those stories of yours sound like excellent blog-worthy tales!


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