ReBloomed: a Gauzy Dress in the Sun
Bloomed came out when I was in college, and I saw Richard for the first time then, 20 years ago now. I have seen him perform probably once a year on average in at least a dozen different cities, and his records continue to be good, sometimes great. But going back and listening to Bloomed is still a special, poetic explosion of pathos. It offers a home for drinkers, doubters, lovers and people with broken and bruised hearts of all kinds. That voice and those words, the resignation of loss from a young man that captures where we came from and what we’re papering over. It means more to me than any other record maybe, and it keeps giving even into my middle age. Man, we have seen some shit, Bloomed and me…
"I’ve been stunned, and I’ve been turned
I’ve been undone and burned.
I saw you as the answer to
Years of blue and wonder.
Your voice shakes me through,
But you don’t know what I might be.
You haven’t seen the worst of me
When your eyes move up I’m silent.
Put your arm around me
Pull your mouth on up to mine.
What’s that word?
I forget sometimes.
It’s the one that means
The love has left your eyes.”
And just for good measure:
"Well, my dear, I miss you dearly.
Once I thought this breeze would blow the orchard down.
I guess the fire never withered in me.
Until I die all I’ve ever leave is ash and tears that once was you and me.
All tanked up and dressed down in desire,
And I hope you understand -
I’m not your man anymore…
No, I’m nobody’s man anymore.”
And more and more. Long may he run.
'I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow.
I’m drunk and dirty, but don’t ya know … I’m still, willin”
Everything about this is as true as I can make it, but it’s still false.
There are words on my screen, and soon hopefully, your screen. There are pictures. There is some conception of what pho is. There is a soup blog that was supposed to go for a certain length of time. Behind all of this, there is me. Or some version(s) of me. And there is you, in all of your various, glorious second-person versions. Soup has often been a part of it, but I think it’s fair to say that the potage does not give a shit. So, really, this is about me and you – remember?
So, here we are.
Waiting for my words.
Maybe you should give something back every once in a while. Eh?
But of course, these will remain my words here and now – my hesitant gifts to an uninterested world. Which means, they are probably really for me. A way to harness the voice in my head to better ends. To establish a tone, a paradigm, a way of being? More on that in the weeks to come.
I served this soup to a room full of mostly strangers, who all noticed it needed salt and politely added copious amounts. I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit, but always remember to taste your soup at the end, my friends, especially when busy and when you have a soup with a variety of components.
Anyway, after, I left my car at the party, and on my way home late at night, walked into a blizzard on the beach. An unbelieve assault of ice particles on the wind. Not hail, but like tiny flakes of broken glass (or sea salt!) peppering (!) me at up to 50 miles per hour. Although it was not terribly cold by many standards - 20 degrees F – 65 degree days are not uncommon right now, so my tolerance was low.
I staggered, sometimes I slowed to a stop. Everything my senses could process raged against me, and I felt like I was nothing – even though I stood there, a solid beast, on top of a hill, possibly freezing to death. I laughed at the thought of being found frozen on a beach in North Carolina along with some yowling foxes, and kept plodding. Certainly I might have had an accident and then who knows, so I imagined my fate like the icy Jack Nicholson’s mad man face at the end of the Shining.
I am a nothing that moves. And that mobility is a big tool in the Swiss army knife of life. I knew all I had to do was keeping moving, and I would get home. Didn’t matter how fast. Didn’t matter how straight the line was. Nobody was waiting. Nobody was worried. One foot, another.
— You mean like Super Boll, the great seed?
The front porch of a diner/roadhouse with a live jazz band playing inside. Man holds phone in front of Woman when she says she has read his entire soup blog front to back, and she wrote down her favorite and least favorite parts… He says to read what they are into his recorder.
W: Awkward, but awright.
M: Well, I don’t want to forget.
W: OK. Oh wait, it’s not under notes. It’s in trash … I think.
M: Trash? Did I get downgraded?
W: Yeah, I erased all your shit. Nevermind. Anyway.
[bigger voice into the recorder]
HERE’S MY FAVORITE … OK … HERE’S MY FAVORITE LINES FROM YOUR SHIT.
[Long pause with jazz guitar noodlings filling the space nicely]
'It's kind of false composure, but I have always considered it a fairly honest, if occasionally annoying, response to people and the world.' [Ref: Irish Lamb Stew]
That was a good one. And oh, oh wait:
'And anyway, if it was true, she would have lived near the old house where my parents got divorced, and besides my version has beer in it.' [Ref: Beer, Cheese and Broccoli]
That’s pretty fucking good.
M: Has beer in it?
W: Beer, dude, beer. You wrote it. How can you not know?
Dude, read your shit again.
M: I’m not sure that’s what it says, but ok.
W: Yeah, it’s pretty clever. Awright…
'But then I've had the sea on my mind a lot recently.' [Ref: Paradise by the ‘C’]
That’s just, nice.
Oh wait, this is a good one:
”Yeah, you know, I write about soup in my spare time.’ It’s like admitting you roll on the ground with dogs.’ [Ref: Winter squash and apple]
See, that’s good.
M: Huh. Funny.
W: ‘And then they’ll tell you it needs more salt.’ [Ref: Garlic and Rosemary]
But that’s just because I love salt.
OK, but my all-time favorite… My all-time favorite of any of the shit you wrote on that blog.
W: ‘This is not clever.
Really? Thanks.’ [Ref: Kale and Lentil]
That is my all-time favorite shit.
M: Nice. What about the bad stuff?
W: I wrote down one thing.
[Speaks very fast and low]
'I never thought my love would end …' blah blah whatever. Forget it.
You have a book here you know?
W: Well, just take out all the stupid soup and recipes and shit.
M: I see.
Tumblr sent me an email. It said that A Year of Soup was two years old today. Funny, right? Especially given that part of the blog’s tag line has always been ‘One year only! If I live that long…’
But then I have always felt my own mortality too strongly. I have felt like I am on borrowed time for so long that I have come to feel both truly blessed and truly cursed. Sigh…
Anyway, to defend my laziness a bit, Week #1 of a YoS did not come until the end of July 2012, so I actually have quite a bit of time before we really hit 2-for-1 slacking. Anyway, sorry I haven’t been there for you more.
Week #46 is coming soon. I hope to see you there.
Not all soup is created equal.
Definitive seems much too strong for this random, schizophrenic list. But that’s why people click on it. Anyway, if you’re a soup fan, even a Totally Subjective, Arbitrary Ranking of Soup Types can be interesting…
Some good, if simple-minded, stuff here. Are you people not putting love into your soups?
This is a chastening soup. A soup that casts an eye askew at me. ‘Stop being such an idiot,’ it says simply in its earthy, floral rumble, as only a bunch of worked up herbs can do.
Making soup, drunk and alone, in an apartment that sits uneasily like a graveyard, this verdant green offering starts making some sense. It asks have I ever wondered about the black box that is my own heart? How come my understanding often exists under the ‘X’ of a treasure map that I don’t even really remember seeing? ‘What do you want,’ my soup asks slyly before undercutting: ‘Want? What does that even mean as a linguistic construct without multiple qualifiers? Want to eat some soup?’
My soup might be insane for even thinking such complicated things.
Don’t worry, it’s the night before a small dinner party, and I am sharing some of this rich tincture tomorrow. And in these winter months, these musky herbs will try to remind us of love and heartache and the third of three stooges: death. They will say cataclysm. They will say catastrophe.
And we will taste it, and maybe we will say catalyst. It might be explosive and creamy and a powerful reminder of the sun. The musty herbs will be perked up with turmeric, Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and the like. And we will say recovery where there was none before. Herbs have healing properties after all. Their roots take from the soil, bloom into sacred leaf and then give unto our souls. Perhaps with the right blend of herbs, it will cure what ails us. We might take the spoonful of elixir and feel love and trust and forgiveness and health, and these things will wash over us like the wave of a hot summer’s day.
There is nothing really to worry about any more, and I am fine with that. ‘What does fine even mean,’ says my soup. And I say: ‘yes and what is the point anyway?’ But it’s time to think about a more merciful life, maybe the first hint of another spring? At least, it’s time to cross our fingers and hope, finally, for a fucking break.
'Above all, a bisque should be smooth, light without being liquid, glossy to the eye, and definite to taste.' - Louis P. DeGouy
'What is bisque?' It's up there in the top 10 list of most asked soup questions.
'What is bisque?' you say.
I ask back: ‘Think of it this way: what isn’t bisque?’ which usually sets things off on the right direction, so I continue: ‘Well, it’s like this…
The origins of the word are unknown, but I think we can safely assume it’s French. And like a lot of French soups that have become popular in America, that means smooth, creamy and flavorful. However, you might be shocked to find that the French are no help in our quest for meaning. In The Soup Book, good ol LPDG breaks it down this way:
“Three soups that are closely related to chowders are cream soups, purees and bisques. Each of these is different, but each has something in common with the chowders.”
Yeah, not very clear right? And try to get meaning from this:
“Cream soups often are made from a single vegetable, such as peas, corn, carrots, etc. But several vegetables also may be used together.
“A puree is much like a cream soup, but it is always made from sieved vegetables and is usually thicker than cream soup.
“Bisque is the third variation. It is generally a fish, crustacean, or shellfish soup, as well as tomato, pea, or similar vegetable.”
I know you’re confused. We all are. It is our humanness, so don’t worry. But I think we should, first of all, just make a rule that bisques are for seafood only. The bleeding of the word into other areas is just salesmanship. That helps our cause of clarity quite a bit.
Character 1: ‘We’re in luck! This must’ve been the cabin of a soup bootlegger back in the days of soup prohibition.’
…They look into the tub…
Character 2: ‘Oh, yeah, bathtub minestrone.’
'Townes Van Zandt standin' at the bar
Skinnin’ a Hollywood movie star,
But he can’t remember where he parked his car,
Or to whom he lost the keys.
Full of angst and hillbilly haiku,
What’s a poor Ft. Worth boy to do?
Go on rhyme somethin’ for ‘em, man –
Show him how you really feel.
Ain’t no money in poetry,
That’s what sets the poet free.
I’ve had all the freedom I can stand.
Cold dog soup and rainbow pie
Is all it takes to get me by.
Fool my belly till the day I die,
Cold dog soup and rainbow pie.’
- Guy Clark
This soup is terraqueous, made up of land and water. There is an umami broth with some potato thickness, a good helping of mushrooms and oysters at its heart, and with a devlish pistou on top, it reminds me of the folksy grit and contrarian wink of Townes Van Zandt.
I saw Townes perform three times in my life – all in a fairly short period of time about a year before he died. In terms of his music and persona, Townes was a hard-living cowboy wrapped in a shell of unassuming pathos, and there are beautiful and tortured streaks of sensitivity and emptiness in his lyrics that every so often mix together into recipes for living. By the time I saw him, he was older, slower, struggling.
The first time was in a basement venue in Columbus, Ohio. Surrounded by bombed out brick and dirt and a hundred people or so, Townes came out late, was too drunk to play his guitar and left with sincere apologies and talk of a nervous breakdown. After an extended ‘intermission’ of a good 45 minutes, he returned to about a dozen people and launched straight into a crushing medley of Marie and Dead Flowers that was sloppy and slurry but was so intense and so blue that I thought at the time maybe the whole breakdown had been part of a premeditated act designed to bring those remaining souls into his circle of feeling. Feeling the heartbreak in him as he connected the stories of homeless love gone hopeless and romance gone self-pitiful was one of the great moments of artistry in my life. Almost by his very nature, he inhabited it:
'Marie, she didn't wake up this morning, she didn't even try. She just rolled over and went to heaven my little boy safe inside. I laid them in the sun where somebody'd find them and caught a Chesapeake on the fly. Marie will know I'm headed south so as to meet me by and by'
'I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away…'
Monty Python’s philosopher jokes are the actual best.
One of my favorite things ever.
Nietzsche tells referee Confucius that he has no free will, and “Confucius he say: ‘Name go in book!’”