Posts Tagged ‘Fortean’
Where some people find images of the Virgin Mary in a pancake or tree trunk, Tom Waits discovers more sinister or strange images in other similar mundane objects, such as the devil in a shovel, as seen in this youtube vid from the Conan O’Brien Show.
Waits, it seems, has a knack of discovering these arcane images all around him, as he shared with Dave Letterman a few years back:
This among, other reasons, qualifies Mr. Waits as a Fortean of the highest order, not to mention of the NorCal variety, as he lives in a small town that lies between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay. In the new and fine biography on Tom Waits, Lowside of the Road author Barney Hoskyns never once mentions the town in question, so I won’t name it either, as to do so would probably break some sort of spell that Tom has cast over this sleepy NorCal town to keep his privacy sacrosanct. In fact, on the outskirts of said unnamed town, is a bar straight out of an old Tom Waits song called Red’s Recovery Room that is scheduled to be demolished at the end of this month. A closing party is slated for July 11, in fact, and it will be indeed a bleak day for all us who love dive bars and sad cafes.
Waits, it should be noted, was born in Whittier, CA, just as was acclaimed Discordian, Kerry Thornley. Evil Richard Nixon, as well, grew up in that mystical environ, that bore witness to the birth of the Discordian Society in 1957 at the fabled Brunswick Shrine.
As a child in Whittier, Waits went through periods where he suffered a “heightened aural sense”, noting that as he lay in bed at night, even the slightest sound would become a deafening roar. “I’d put my hand on a sheet, ” Waits recalled, ” and it would sound like a plane going by…” This experience scared the crap out of young Tom, who began to suspect that he was going crackers. Later, Waits read how certain artistic people had similar experiences where they experienced periods when “there was a distortion to the world that disturbed them.”
Even though Waits came out of the San Diego folk scene of the late 60’s — then wandered into the rock scene of early 70’s Los Angeles — he was always an artist set apart from the rest of the pack, resonating with the Beats of the 50’s and more inspired by Kerouac or Frank Sinatra than those current trends back then of country rock and cocaine cowboys in the laid back Laurel Canyon scene. Waits, to the contrary, reveled in the skid row side streets of Bukowksi’s L.A. and for a period of time, in the late 70’s, holed up in the infamous Tropicana Hotel, a stay that became legend in the Waits mythos.
Ever the eccentric, a friend claimed he once looked in Waits’ fridge in search of a beer and discovered only “a claw hammer, a small jar of artichoke hearts, an old parking ticket, and a can of roof cement…” In his cluttered room, Waits surrounded himself with beer cans and assorted litter which enclosed an old piano he trucked into the room, a performance from which can be accessed here:
Located next to the Tropicana was Duke’s Coffee Shop where Waits slurped innumerable cups of coffee and dragged from endless cigarettes between eggs and sausage and a side of toast.