His Many Voices
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Johnnie Taylor - "Rome (Wasn't Built In a Day)"

Miami was hot even in winter. So we dressed like it was summer underneath our coats and mittens and scarves, denuding once inside. What an appropriately named bar!

Inside - this was the last time I saw her before I first spoke to her - she was dressing to leave. A white tuque and a red pea coat. Her young cheeks were flushed from drink and she sang along to "Crazy," which played on the jukebox. From what I could hear, her approach was more Janis Joplin than Patsy Cline, and it didn't suit the song at all.

Later, when I first approached her, she ignored me. "Hi," but she walked right past me. So I went back to my g and t and tried to cool down. This happened three more times.

Her first words to me were slurred only ambiguously in my direction. "Guess my middle name!" This had something to do with a separate conversation, not involving me, and on which I'd been conspicuously eavesdropping.

"Elizabeth," I proffered and immediately regretted it. An old woman's name.

"Starts with an 'm'"

"Oh. Mandy!"

She didn't speak to me again for three weeks. We were outside; though I'm not sure how we got there. My roommate, Joel, was talking to some acquaintance of hers and then whispering and then we were out in the cold, standing in a circle composed of Joel, me, her and four of her friends (douches). They were passing around a joint. I'd never smoked before, though I wasn't about to let anyone know that. Once the smoke hit my lungs, it wasn't long before I was talking too much and calling her Mandy again, which didn't get the reaction I was hoping for.

It's true that we never exchanged another word - if you define 'word' in the traditional sense. It's also the case that, from that point on, she always eyeballed me in a way that most people reserve for weirdos who may pose a threat of some kind. And then, at some point, she was gone from the city, then I was gone from the city. But I wouldn't say, as you probably would, that I blew it. I prefer to think of it as having planted a slow-germinating seed of love.

Persistence, I understood even then, is paramount. "Where there's life, there's hope," I always say, and then study the faces of my audience to see how quixotic/creepy I am coming across. After all, it occurred to me one day, years after I first smoked pot just outside of Miami, that Rome wasn't built in a day. It took many days to build Rome. And ever since, I have been deeply heartened by this analogy, for if our love is Rome then yes, it will take time to build and no, neither of us can escape it. No matter where we stray or what our (her) instincts or preferences or circumstances might dictate, inevitably, all roads, etc.

Pere Ubu - "SAD.TXT"

[buy Johnnie, Pere]

Posted by Jordan at December 20, 2007 11:12 PM

This is brilliant.

Posted by Karin S. at December 21, 2007 3:29 AM

its a little purple for my tastes.

Posted by an affectionate critic at December 21, 2007 4:52 AM

Takes me back, John.

Posted by Joel at December 21, 2007 3:58 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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