Instant Karma 1970

john top of pops 1

I think I begged my first grade school teacher to take me to the record store to get this single. Funnily enough I was unaware at the time that John had shaved his head. At the beginning of that year he and Yoko was vacationing in Aalborg, Denmark to be with Yoko’s daughter Kyoko, which was where the young girl was living with Yoko’s second husband Tony Cox and his new wife Melinde.

For reasons unknown, possibly to keep up the profile with their peace campaign, John and Yoko cropped their hair the shortest it’d ever be in John’s adult life. On February 4th,  1970, they swapped their shorn locks for a pair of Muhammed Ali’s boxing shorts, which they said they intended to auction off to raise money for peace. That’s the crew cut you’ll see in their Top of the Pops gig.

John was mostly quiescent as far as live appearances go in 1970. That’s okay, he’d make up for it in 1971. He was continuing the peace campaign he and Yoko had begun at the Amsterdam bed-in the year before. He was also undergoing primal scream therapy with Dr. Janovich. This would inevitably led to the quality and intensity of his masterpiece John Lennon Plastic Ono Band.

“Instant Karma” was recorded in a single night, January 27, 1970, in a single nine-hour session. The producer was Phil Spector, and this led to a long-standing working relationship between him and John and George as well. This would also lead to Spector invitation to remix the Let It Be album.

“It was great, ’cause I wrote it in the morning on the piano, like I said many times, and I went to the office and I sang it. I thought, ‘Hell, let’s do it,’ and we booked the studio. And Phil came in, he said, ‘How do you want it?’ I said, ‘You know, 1950 but now.’ And he said ‘Right,’ and boom, I did it in just about three goes. He played it back, and there it was. I said, ‘A bit more bass,’ that’s all. And off we went. See, Phil doesn’t fuss about with fuckin’ stereo or all the bullshit. Just ‘Did it sound alright? Let’s have it.’ It doesn’t matter whether something’s prominent or not prominent. If it sounds good to you as a layman or as a human, take it. Don’t bother whether this is like that or the quality of this. That suits me fine.”

-from Lennon Remembers, Jann S. Wenner

John recruited George Harrison on lead guitar, Billy Preston on electric piano, Alan White driving the thundering drums & Klaus Voorman as bass man. John provided acoustic guitar on the single. The mass chorale and handclaps closing the single was provided by Yoko and the patrons from Hatchetts, a local London nightclub.

On Feb. 11 1970, the Plastic Ono Band taped two versions of “Instant Karma” for an appearance on the BBC program Top of the Pops, for later broadcast on Feb. 12 and 19th, respectively. Technically , this was not a live performance apart from the actual appearance of the band. Actually it wasn’t even the same band.

John sang a new vocal on top of a single-track vocal and instrumentation from the January 27th EMI recording session. The prime difference between the two versions being that in one Yoko would be seen knitting, while in the second she was holding cue cards. John sat in and sang behind piano while Yoko did her things, blindfolded with a sanitary towel, beside it. Neither George nor Preston were present. BBC DJ BP Fallon mimicked sitting in on bass, Mal Evans in a business suit was on tambourine, along with actual bass player Klaus Voorman. The first version with Yoko knitting was broadcast Feb. 11 while the second was transmitted on Feb. 19th, the following week.

john top of pops 2

For the cue card performance John bangs on the piano in a denim jacket with a “People For Peace” band wrapped on arm while go-go dancers frolic in the background. (By the way, the cards say ‘smile’, ‘peace’, ‘love’ ‘hope’ and ‘breathe’. With reverb over the microphone he delivers a very intense vocal, gritting his teeth for the final verses while Klaus and BP mime on bass.

Available on: It’s hard NOT to find this on home video. The ‘cue card’ version appeared on The John Lennon Video Collection VHS from October 1992. The ‘knitting’ performance shows up most on DVD, first on Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon, a 2003 set accompanying the CD of the same name. Apparently for this collection, they changed the original audio track, replacing the live vocal with the clean studio track. This version was also released on Power to the People: the Hits, the CD/DVD Experience Edition from 2010.

john lennon vid coll     lennon legend.jpg2    john power

Beatles Bible Instant Karma link:

Instant Karma!

 

Live Peace in Toronto, Sept. 13, 1969

Toronto poster rock-roll-revival-1969

“We got this phone call on a Friday night that there was a rock ‘n’ roll revival show in Toronto with a 100,000 audience, or whatever it was, and that Chuck was going to be there and Jerry Lee and all the great rockers that were still living, and Bo Diddly, and supposedly the Doors were top of the bill. They were inviting us as king and queen to preside over it, not play–but I didn’t hear that bit. I said, “Just give me time to get a band together,” and we went the next morning.” 

–John Lennon, 1969

Well, almost. Toronto promoter John Brower was the man who made this historic phone call. But while everyone else had convened at Leeds Airport the following morning, John and Yoko were still in bed, and guitarist Eric Clapton apparently was unaware of the plan. He soon received a call from Brower: “Eric, you may not remember me, but I’m the promoter who lost $20,000 on your Blind Faith show last month. Please call John Lennon, and tell him he must do this or I will get on a plane, come to his house, and live with him, because I will be ruined.”

Toronto Clapton live_peace

For this show John had collared a handful of people he knew. Eric Clapton had played the classic guitar line on George Harrison’s song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on The White Album the year before, as well as providing lead guitar for John’s performance nine months earlier at the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus. Klaus Voormann he’d known since the Beatles’ days rocking Hamburg at the Kaiserkeller club, as well as designing the album cover for Revolver, for which he won a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts. Klaus became an accomplished cover artist and from 1966 to 1969 was bassist for Manfred Mann.

Toronto Alan White

At seventeen years age, Alan White chose music over technical school and toured with Billy Fury’s Gamblers and Griffin, the band where John Lennon saw him in a club. At first White disbelieved the call he got from John, thinking he was a prankster, but luckily chose to accept the invitation to play. In 1972 he joined Yes as their permanent drummer.

Toronto PlasticOnoBandKlausJohnEricTorontoFlight69

(Clapton, Lennon & Voorman on the plane to Toronto, 1969)

John reluctantly crawled out of bed. Long story short, they arrived backstage around 10 p.m. and waited in their dressing room before they were announced by guest emcee Kim Foley at midnight. I can’t imagine the kick this concert must’ve been for John, and nerve wracking, since he’d be following on from the idols who’d inspired him to play rock and roll. Actually, I can imagine, since John said as much to Jann Wenner in his historic Rolling Stone interview in 1970:

“I just threw up for hours until I went on. I nearly threw up in ‘Cold Turkey’–I had a review in Rolling Stone about the film of it–which I haven’t seen yet, and they’re saying, ‘I was this and that’. And I was throwing up nearly in the number. I could hardly sing any of them, I was full of shit.”

The Doors headlined the one-day event at the Varsity Stadium of Toronto University. The Toronto Rock and Roll Festival included an all-star lineup featuring legends Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, plus Jr. Walker and the All-Stars. Among the up-and-comers were relative unknowns like Alice Cooper and Chicago Transit Authority, as well as lesser known acts such as Cat Mothers and the All Night Newsboys, Doug Kershaw, Screaming Lord Sutch, Nucleus, Milkwood, Tony Joe White and Whiskey Howl.

It’s not often noted but the other performers were also having a good time. At this point only fifteen years had passed since the birth of rock and roll, and a lot of these guys were relatively young. While this may sound strange to the young people of today, by the standards of the 1960’s rock crowd, they were ancient. The oldest artist was Bo Diddly at age 41, followed by Little Richard at 37; both Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis clocked in at a youthful 34. Chuck Berry was 43 but he could still play and duckwalk. Yeah, at my age I say people that age are still in diapers. What would that say about John Lennon, who was less than one month away from his 29th birthday?

Toronto card Kim Foley introJohn stepped in front of a live audience for the first time in three years and said, “We’re just going to do some numbers we know, you know, because we’ve never played together before.” And thar’s how the Plastic Ono Band was born.

While he might have pulled this band out of his ass, and the total rehearsal time encompassed their flight from London to Toronto, they put on a decent performance. They started off with the classics–“Blue Suede Shoes”, “Money” and ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy”. This would be the second and last time John would perform “Yer Blues” live, again with Clapton as lead guitar, and boy does he love that fuzz guitar.

Toronto performance

Then John cut in and said, “This is a song about pain”, before launching into the live debut of “Cold Turkey”. John had not officially recorded the song yet; that would come eight nights later on September 25 at EMI Studios. And thus began a pattern of performing a song live before he’d committed it to vinyl, as he would with his later song “John Sinclair”. It’s not all that unusual; Pink Floyd auditioned future songs from Dark Side of the Moon for months before sitting down to record that classic album. The band managed to hash their way through, though the moaning and shrieking at the end of the upcoming single would be remarkably abbreviated tonight.

Yoko…ah Yoko does her usual performance art wailing. “This is what we really came here for,” John said as he led the audience through a loose rendition of “Give Peace a Chance.”

Toronto lennon

Then it was Yoko’s turn. For the first two tunes she’d laid on stage in a white bag. Well, now the cat was out of the bag. “Don’t Worry Kyoko” was mercifully short at 4:18 minutes, though it might have felt longer. For her second number, “John, John (Let’s Hope for Peace)”, Clapton grooved on a single riff while Yoko inflicted new dimensions of pain for 12:39 minutes. To be fair the keening was at least tolerable while supported by John’s guitar feedback.

“At the end of “John, John”, all the boys placed their guitars against the speakers of their amps and walked to the back of the stage. Because they had already started the feedback process, the sound continued while John, Klaus, Alan and Eric grouped together and lit ciggies. Then I went on and led them off-stage. Finally I walked on again and switched off their amps one by one.”-

-Mal Evans

Toronto grop photo POB2

(Group photo of the Plastic Ono Band, 1969)

Toronto was a turning point for John. It gave him the confidence to step beyond the outsized shadow of the Beatles. On the plane ride over he’d already confided to Allen Klein that he was leaving the group. A week after the festival, John told the group, “I want a divorce.”

 

the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera blog:

http://torontodreamsproject.blogspot.com/2014/03/how-toronto-helped-break-up-beatles.html

Beatles Bible entry on the Toronto Festival:

Plastic Ono Band live at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival

Available on: On September 25, on the eve of the release of Abbey Road, the actual final album by the Beatles, John mixed the tapes of the Toronto concert into stereo at EMI Studios. These were taken to Apple by Geoff Emerick. The album cover was gorgeous in its simplicity, a single puffy cloud on a sky-blue backdrop. Live Peace in Toronto 1969, the first record by the Plastic Ono Band, was released on December 12, 1969.

Toronto LivePeaceCover    R-522067-1521967993-3235.jpeg

An early version of “John, John” could be heard at the beginning of “Amsterdam”, which is a collage of musical interludes and dialogue taken from their first bed-in earlier in 1969. That track takes up the entire second side of John & Yoko’s Wedding Album, released October 20, 1969.

Famed filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker was on hand to record most of the concert, released in 1971 as Sweet Toronto. Then at one early screening Janis Joplin called out during a song by Chuck Berry, “Keep On Rockin’!”, which became the title of the 1973 version without the John & Yoko sequences. The full film would not be seen again until its re-release in 1988 for television and home video as John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band Live in Toronto ’69 by Shout Factory.

 

Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.

f & d cover

Mike’s Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA

Yoko & John Coffin Car at First International Feminist Conference 1973

gettyimages-1171054033-612x612

This is one of those things you stumble onto in researching another topic. To wit, I was looking for stuff on John & Yoko’s collaborations in the 1970’s, before the legendary Lost Weekemd; I don’t recall exactly what I was looking for, but in my searches came across this reference. Yoko Ono was invited to speak at the First International Feminist Conference at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts on June 3, 1973. She spoke of how her role in society as a woman, as a person in general was reductive because she was seen only in her role as John Lennon’s spouse.

I say this is interesting because I had to piece what little I’ve shared together from bits and crumbs. If you want to find out about the First International Feminist Conference at Harvard in June 1973, well, good luck. There is practically NO information. It’s as though the Phyllis Schlaflys of the world collaborated to erase all traces of that gathering. Luckily we have at least part of her speech preserved as bonus tracks on the reissue of Yoko’s 1973 album Feeling the Space. After her speech she sang “Coffin Car” with John as backing musician, and well, let’s let Yoko herself explain:

This disc has all the songs from Feeling The Space and songs which were dropped from it to make it into a single album. In June of ’73, I was invited by the National Organization of Women to their International Women’s Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was asked to give a concert there for the Sisters. John and I took this very seriously. I made a booklet of my songs and statements specially for the occasion and carried copies of them with me. John carried his guitar. He was to be my band. The conference was incredibly memorable for both of us. I never will forget how all the women at the concert suddenly stood up and joined me in singing the chorus of WOMAN POWER. Their power at that moment was so strong that it stopped the video camera from running! Our photographer did not know why his flashbulb suddenly did not work. Things like that happened a few times in my life. This was one of them. During the conference, when some sisters gathered to have coffee, I met a woman who had come from Middle America. She said she had left her husband and her children and was not intending to go back to them. She was a sweet girl with large frightened eyes. Those eyes have seen stuff  our mothers never taught us to be part of the deal in life, I thought. I asked her how she felt. She said she missed her children, and sometimes she heard them crying in her dreams, but she felt okay because she knew her husband was not bad to her kids. She also said she was having a hard time finding a job because she had no skills. A classic case. That was how ANGRY YOUNG WOMAN came to me. John and I visited Salem, Massachusetts. on our way home from the conference. We went to a house where a witch was believed to have lived. It turned out she had not been a witch but a doctor (of course!) and her beautiful, clean but rather austere house seemed appropriate to have once encased an astute and intellectual mind. We went up the hill where she, supposedly, had been burnt on a cross. The grass on the hill seemed dry and flattened out by kids playing baseball. We walked through the main streets of the town. It was a summer evening, the high ceilinged shops, probably built in the 30’s, were closed, and the shadows of street lamps were long on the dusty pavement, with not many people around. John and I felt as though we were walking in the town of The Visit, an old Ingrid Bergman film, where all the factories were closed because of the anger of one woman who had sought justice. We walked for a while and then went back to our car where our driver, Peter, was waiting. I was very touched by our visit and wrote the song WOMAN OF SALEM. When I started to sing the song in the studio, a musician pointed out that in my lyrics I had referred to the time as being 1692 and that I should probably change the date since Salem would not have existed then. He must be right, I thought.
But I decided not to touch the lyrics because the song had come to me
like an automatic writing. “The song could be about Salem in England-if
there was such a place,” I said to the musician. My first vision of the
song was quite vivid. A woman sat in a darkish room, at a table under a
window from which the morning light was coming through and you could
hear the birds chirping amongst the summer green. Then I was the woman
quietly closing her diary. Anyway, it was a symbolic song. If the time
was a bit off – even a century or so – it didn’t really matter. I was
going to push it through with that and I did. I don’t know why I didn’t
think of checking the year, which would have been an easy thing to do.
Had I simply been stubborn for being told of my possible mistake? An unsettling feeling had lingered at the time and then it was forgotten.
It was only last year, ’91, I found out that in the year 1992, Salem
would be observing the 300th anniversary of it’s 1692 trials! With ANGRY
YOUNG WOMAN in my pocket and the other songs I took to the International
Women’s Conference, I felt it was time for me to go into the studio
again. I felt I had to get a new set of musicians for the kind of sound
I had in mind. So I hired session guys with jazz backgrounds. The first
day I walked into the studio, I noticed there was some nervous tension.
To break the ice, I suggested we do a jam to get to know each other.
That’s how IT’S BEEN VERY HARD was made. It was the first take of the
first day. They didn’t know me from Adam. I think the song shows how
brilliant these musicians were. From then on we were like a family. That
summer, John and I moved to the Dakota. Some of the Sisters from the
Conference visited us in our new apartment. A woman representative from
Norway taught John how to type. So John said he would be playing with
his newfound toy, the typewriter, while I made the album- and he did (it
was the beginning of Skywriting By Word Of Mouth). Every day John waited
for me to bring back a rough remix of what I had done that day. He
started to say he wanted to play on a couple of my songs. “You should
call me in when you’re ready, just like you would call in a session
guitarist and I’ll come and play.” I knew I could not get a better
guitarist than John for WOMAN POWER. So I called him in for that-like he
said. He did an overdub guitar on WOMAN POWER and SHE HITS BACK that
afternoon. Sean’s friends, who heard WOMAN POWER for the first time in
the 90s, say this track sounds contemporary. John would have been
pleased to hear that. One day I came home and heard John playing a
beautiful song which was later to become STEEL AND GLASS. “It’s great
that you’re doing this (recording) because now I feel like I want to go
in and make mine,” he said. After Feeling The Space was done, John went
into the studio and made Mind Games with the same musicians.

taken from http://imaginepeace.com/archives/6364

notes from Yoko Ono’s Onobox, 1992 6-disc collection from Rykodisc

More Yoko at Genius lyrics:

https://genius.com/Yoko-ono-i-learned-to-stutter-coffin-car-lyrics?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=2f365bcf99eeb2bddf6091ca820e2da8d325da6b-1581476197-0-AZ8FoeJ8zSYZp38KVfuBEiwOV_LRuokkKR3tVzXCvvWLqSp_x_FLSszT9_br6pwhg4YFcP2SkfkWEZJuQxkbN6uSWYAV_FsSucHc2-V_rLX2TbkqGew1TZNVfywJJeyseUxAWHNPxEgjhMIUWjypa6yZl6ucMMCoQJw2w7vt5p27JTh50WMCpZwPIShLHBkZ2FJ-v8Xf46ALN5XoeAElMTV_RRyD6TeqVyq99esCDXcP3IT_gWQ5wphWZzCQHgNVt7O_eNp34l3mEQ8ELcQhS_rzNLXlNgLr0vJNOWL_a2Juh7WwK_5FKAlyQkd0L4axeG0j_5kVuF61FJsDyPgqbbXkGNkx-GyXWtR8YTOva7zDvdq4TNW_pSez8Ath_GEqW67iqCuqe_Bm8N82ovi11vc

While john is setting up the amp…

What happened to me was that I was living as an artist and, who had relative freedom as a woman and was considered the bitch in the society. Since I met John, I was upgraded into a witch and I was…and I think that that’s very flattering Anyway, what I learned from being with john is that the society solely treated me as a woman, as a woman who belonged to a man who is one of the most powerful people in our generation, and some of his closest friends told me that probably I should stay in the background, I should shut up, I should give up my work and that way I’ll be happy

And I got those advises, I was luck, I was over thirty and it was too late for me to change

But still, still, this is one thing I want to say, sisters, because, with the wish that you know
You’re not alone, i…because the whole society started to attack me and the whole society wished me dead, I started accumulating a tremendous amount of guilt complex and in result of that I started to stutter. and I consider myself a very eloquent woman and also an attractive woman all my life and suddenly, because I was associated to john, that was considered an ugly woman, ugly jap, who took your monument or something away from you
And that’s when I realised how hard it is for woman, if I can start to stutter, being a strong woman and having lived thirty years by then, learn to stutter in three years of being treated as such, it is a very hard road. Now the next song is called coffin car and this is a song that I observed in myself and also in many sisters who are riding on coffin cars…

I appreciate Yoko’s comments and may we all take them to heart.

Yoko-Ono-Feeling-The-Space-214175

Available on: The studio track “Coffin Car” first appeared on Yoko’s N1973 album Feeling the Space with the Plastic Ono Band, Apple SW-3412. John Lennon is billed as ‘John O’ Cean’ in the credits. He provides guitar on “Woman Power” & “She Hits Back”, as well as backing vocals on “Men, Men, Men”. Oddly enough, coming as it did on the verge of the Lost Weekend, this was released around the same time as John’s Mind Games.

It was twice reissued, first on Rykodisc in the UK and Japan; two of the bonus tracks were taken from her appearance at the First Feminist Conference in 1973, “I Learned to Stutter” & “Coffin Car”. For the 2017 reissue in the U.S. & Europe it appeared on the Secretly Canadian & Chimera label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lianna: Into the Microverse-introduction

Lianna into the microverse300(This is a short story fragment serving as an introduction to a current art series on my DeviantArt page. It follows on from two previous art projects, requests really, that have come over the past couple of years. Enjoy.)

Bad luck that the Professor came in at the precise moment I was adjusting my skinsuit’s fastenings. “Ah, Lianna, we need to talk about–whooaaa!” He swerved to one side so as not to see his little girl peel her suit off her torso.

He covered his eyes, still looking away, as my crimson bloboid Stavros peeled the legging from my right foot, then proceeded to work on the left one. Amba was on my left to steady me. The guys at the observatory had gotten used to their presence, my two alien lovers. Huh, alien…that’s a funny word. As far as the universe is concerned, we’re the aliens.

I have my own ideas about these two girls. Clearly they’re largely photosynthetic, manufacturing energy from their respective stars. Minerals augmented their nutritional needs, but it’s what they can do with their bodies that fascinates our resident stargazers. They can contain themselves in roughly humanoid forms; Amba especially has a height advantage over me. Still, it’s an approximation, where their faces hold the shape of a human face without any definition–their eyes are like round anime buttons. Back on my ship, they’re apt to slump into a mass of gel and…well, that’s for me to know.

Apparently my nakedness was more than the Professor could stand. Yeah, he bathed me as a child, but the last time he did that was like fifteen years ago. So now he snatched the nearest cot blanket and tossed it over my head. That was no deterrent at all. Stavros had been swept under the enveloping coverlet too, still assisting me in stripping down. “Might I ask the purpose of this?” the Professor inquired as the skinsuit flopped from under the covering onto a nearby seat with a rubbery smack.

“I told you what I saw, Poppa,” I muttered. “Lady Smirnoff is still alive on the microscopic level. She’s a prisoner of Kali, or a form of Kali, I dunno.”

“You’re seriously going to do this, undertake a rescue mission on your own, to a world beyond our comprehension, on behalf of a woman who’s already tried to kill you once, using the same gas she was exposed to herself? Oh dear…” He averted his gaze as Stavros and I flung off the blanket.

“Yeah, that about sums it up,” I said.

“Well that’s crazy! Child, consider what you’re saying. You may have been mistaken in what you saw.”

“How could I have been? That’s a very specific delusion, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”

“The mind plays tricks. You have had some extraordinary experiences. Perhaps–”

“I can’t stop thinking about it, Poppa!”

My butt slapped on the cold bench beside him. Neither of us could look at the other, mostly because of his discomfort at my state of undress. “I can’t stop seeing her, dissolving into Kali’s body. I can’t forget the hate in her voice when she tried to kill me. I didn’t know she felt that way about me. I didn’t–if I hadn’t made her storage tank rupture–”

“She’d have sprayed you with the same dosage of reducing gas she was exposed to, and you’d be lost.”

spec 1a-47 lady sm engulfed in gas300

“Do you hate her so much, Poppa?”

“NO! it’s not–” his hands fidgeted, but then he reached over with the right hand to squeeze mine. “In the past you’ve come back to me with so many injuries because you never took the proper precautions, or you were careless. Lady Smirnoff was jealous of the attention I lavished on you, but what could I do? You were my child…adopted child, since your parents…

“Are you really willing to undertake a mission where no blame is attached to you? She’s not going to stop hating you. God knows, she might be on the brink of madness, after what she’s seen in that hidden world.”

God, he was so sad. Out of some childish habit, I dropped down in front of him and clutched his knees. “Poppa, I can’t unsee what I’ve seen. Whatever she feels about it, I can’t live with myself if I don’t try to help her. And I have listened to you enough that I’m taking some precautions.” I stood up then. “Come on, girls, let’s get started.”

Now that the suit was dispensed with, both my shipmates, my blobs, my lovers began what at first might have seemed like a massage, rubbing their hands over my body with circular strokes. I’m sure the Professor observed, at one of those times his avoidance strategy lapsed, the thin sheen of green and crimson goo they smeared over my epidermis, which was quickly absorbed by my pores. “A biological coating to shield you from contaminants on the microscopic level,” he said. “Very good.”

“I can’t take the skinsuit, it probably won’t shrink as handily as a biological subject–” and I tapped my chest with my fingertips, accidently jiggling my sweaty gigs. Oddly enough he wasn’t looking at me as a sexually active woman. Maybe in his eyes I’d always be that wary seven-year-old girl he picked up off a derelict starship, suspicious of all things except for that skinny balding scientist who became her adoptive father.

He swallowed, then seemed to remember not to stare. “Umm… assuming you find them, what’s the plan? Are you just going to ask the Goddess of Death to give you whatever’s left of her?”

‘That’s the general idea.”

The circular door hissed open like a gushing refrigeration unit, admitting Pederson, our overly tall microbiologist, carrying a tray of samples. “Hey, how’s my favorite geltoid?” he grinned–at Amba.  As soon as he bent over the coolant unit to slide in his tray, Amba’s arm reared back, stretching an extra half meter as her ‘hand’ flattened into a roughly paddle shape. A sharp crisp smack rang from Pederson’s ass on impact.

Pederson’s head banged on the coolant unit’s upper frame. He staggered around, slipping on the slick tile floor. But there was no mistaking the sly grins that passed between them. “Ayy, are you two flirting with each other?” I demanded. Pederson shook his head, not very convincingly, while Amba offered only the slightest shrug.

The door gushed again to let Hue in next. “Oh please, the more the merrier,” the Professor grumbled. ‘Well, what do you have to say for yourself?”

The small stipple-haired fellow also avoided staring at me in my birthday suit. “Professor, we have tested the reduction samples. The subjects have all passed. We can replicate the process that reduced Lady Smirnoff safely with Lianna and recover her when needed.”

“Wait, wait, it’s illegal to test an experimental procedure like this on people–or animals, for that matter,” I interjected. “What did you test it on?” I happened to look in the mirror at the precise moment Amba and Stavros both tentatively raised their right hands.

“Girls!” I exclaimed. “What did you think you were doing? You don’t know what that stuff will do to you! Whose idea was this, anyhow?” And again, both ‘geltoids’ pointed at their own chests.

Then the Professor’s hand rested on my shoulder. “Child, they volunteered. Nobody coerced them. The young ladies volunteered a small quantity, barely a teaspoon from their core bodies. The formula Lady Smirnoff left on her database was applicable on both test subjects. Believe me, nobody in the observatory would dream of harming your best friends.”

“Even if some of you are bent on hitting on them,” I said, glaring at Pederson as he ogled Amba.

“Misses,” Hue continued, “we’ve prepared the nanobots, as you instructed. They have already been miniaturized and will be waiting in the lab when you’re ready. Forse will be here momentarily.”

Sooner than expected, as the door admitted yet another specialist, this time our resident optometrist. “Hey Four Eyes, whatcha got for me?” I grinned.

“Nothing if you insist on that peculiar frame,” Forse replied, but still with a twinkle in his baggy eyes. He opened a compact, keeping his stare on the two round half-orbs resting inside instead of my boobs. “These contact lenses will serve the same as compound eyes. Each has thousands of optical facets that will adjust to the focal points of your eyes, enabling something resembling normal vision.”

“Thanks, doc.” That’d be one advantage I’d have over what happened to Lady Smirnoff. At microscopic levels the light spectrum is pretty much irrelevant. God knows what I’ll find but at least I might be able to make some visual sense of it. It only took moments to pop the contacts in each eye, but then, I was facing a thousand semicircular images, all the same and yet peeling off from another angle, and another–

“Focus,” Forse chided. “Concentrate on one image, one form. The professor–seek him.”

Well I could see him, thousands of him, some facing me, more at half-profile the further out each image zoomed. But maybe, if I chose the one in the middle, and focused–Yesss! All those hundreds of warped eye-fields seemed to blur towards the center, dimming wetly before coming into crystal clear sharpness–probably the sharpest I’d ever seen my old man as he smiled.

From there it was but a short march to the lab. I entered alone. On the platform lay an open valise. Sensing my presence, there now rose half a dozen drones, barely visible to the naked eye. That’d change soon enough as the gas took effect. The nanobots I carried inside my own body had already received their peculiar instructions for whatever dangers we expected to encounter. Kali alone knew if that’d be enough.

Sucking in a last few deep breaths, I called, “All right, boys, let ‘er rip!”

LITM Into the Microverse 1300

My DeviantArt gallery: https://www.deviantart.com/mike3839/gallery/

FATHERS & DAUGHTERS is still available on Amazon.com as a Kindle & paperback form.

f & d cover

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA

 

 

Elton John a perspective

elton-john-eyewear-bb13-beat-2019-billboard-1548

“Rocket Man ” was the first Elton John song that I fell in love with. It wasn’t even mine, my brother Kenny bought it, god rest his soul. The first single I bought on my own was “Daniel”, which I traded away. I guess I was disappointed at the time because it wasn’t a rocket like lot of his stuff was. Today I can say, “you IDIOT, why would you give that record away? It was a great song!” Maybe I share Elton’s lack of judgement; in his recent book Me, he admits that he thought “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me ” was a terrible song: funny how things will look so different in retrospect.

elton-john-rocket-man-1972-15    elton john daniel

He was fortunate to have ‘come out ‘ in 1967, the very year that the UK struck down its law making homosexuality illegal. Or we should say he was Found out by his boss Long John Baldry: “Oh come on, don’t you know you’re gay?”(or words to that effect).

It never bothered me that Elton was bi or gay or whatever. I just loved the music, his preferences were his own business. Gay wasn’t a thing people talked about when I was growing up, at least not around me, so I didn’t have a chance to be indoctrinated by anybody’s paranoid ravings. It’s just funny now. For instance I always liked Queen from the beginning and I never got the gay reference in their very name. Didn’t know, didn’t care. Those fellas could still rock.

Elton’s early records came out on the Uni label, a division of MCA Records, which is how his early singles like “Rocket Man ” looked like that in America but by the time “Daniel ” came along everything was on that black MCA label.

Oddly enough the songs I listened to first weren’t actually sung by Elton. “Lady Samantha” was a song I loved and picked up on my dad’s Three Dog Night record from 1969, ‘Suitable For Framing “. I remember we were at his cabin in Lake Land Village,  a development over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge near Allyn, Washington. Three Dog Night was also the first band I heard doing “Your Song ” on an album I got for Christmas of 1971, “Golden Biscuits “. Elton’s version was already a year old by then.

ELTONMUP

Of course he was also notable for announcing that he was retiring, and then coming right out of retirement a few months later. For some reason retirement just didn’t seem to take with Elton. The first time he said that was 1976 or ’77: didn’t last long.  He’d be in a slump for a while but that was okay: he’d give himself a jumpstart like his live Melbourne shows in ’86 or ‘The Lion King ‘ soundtrack.

Maybe I also liked Elton because he wore glasses.  So did John Denver but see the thing was, in the 1970s glasses were not sexy. I always wore glasses and I was never good at sports at any level of schooling. If you wore glasses, you were a four eyes: if you couldn’t play ball, you  were a faggot–sorry, their words.

elton john glasses 1    elton's glasses.4 jpg  elton's glasses 1974

Elton wore ’em, so did John Lennon. Not only that but Elton made them a fashion statement.  He had a gift for flamboyance unmatched in the rock world,  which is saying something considering it was par for the course with acts like David Bowie and KISS on the loose. I always appreciated Elton’s music and his example, and I thought I’d say so now.

The foregoing was inspired by Elton John ‘s 2019 biography Me, published by Henry Holt and Company.

me elton john book

December 15, 1969 Peace for Christmas at the Lyceum Ballroom, London

From December 2 to the 12th, George Harrison made his first stage appearance outside the confines of the Beatles when he sat in as an anonymous member of Delaney & Bonnie’s tour, alongside Eric Clapton who’d persuaded George to join in on what would be a enjoyable and fulfilling concert experience.

Is it a coincidence that every time John Lennon performed “Cold Turkey” live, in 1969 anyway, Eric Clapton was on hand to reprise his epic guitar riff? Organized to benefit UNICEF, John pulled together a larger Plastic Ono Band in just under 48 hours.  The other acts performing included the Hot Chocolate Band, the Pioneers, the Rascals, Jimmy Cliff and Black Velvet.

LyceumFullBandx

George was also present, the first time that two Beatles had appeared on a stage together since 1966. And if George had wanted to fade into the background, he succeeded as his guitar was barely perceptible amongst all the other gathered artists that day who included John, Yoko, George, Eric, Klaus Voormann, the incomparable Bobby Keys, Billy Preston, Keith Moon, Alan White, Jim Gordon and Delaney & Bonnie. John would later to refer to this gathering as the Plastic Ono Supergroup. “Cold Turkey” had already become a concert favorite for John, this being the second time he’d performed it live. It’s a respectable reproduction of his terrifying single, though the screams don’t reach the same drug-fever pitch until the six-minute mark.

john lennion lyceum 1969

Next up is Yoko with “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand in the Snow”. This is an exercise in dissonance. If I were a child and my mother sang this to me, I would be very frightened. Before the song begins she’s crying “John! I love you! Britain! You killed Hanratty, you murderer!” (James Hanratty (4 October 1936 – 4 April 1962), also known as the A6 Murderer, was a British criminal who was one of the final eight people in the UK to be executed before capital punishment was effectively abolished. c/o Wikipedia)

One harsh riff settles into a groove over the usual screaming, interspersed with Yoko wailing “Kyoko! Don’t Cry!”, with too few horns to accentuate her cat-like shrieking. Fifteen minutes they had to endure which only ended because the drummers sped up in a desperate attempt to end the song. Unfortunately the band raced along to keep up as well, so it still dragged on until John wound it up with his guitar blaring feedback from a speaker.

Beatles Bible: Plastic Ono Band Live at Lyceum 1969:

Plastic Ono Band live at Lyceum Ballroom, London

LyceumComposite

Available on: Side One of the Live Jam LP included with Some Time in New York City

john-lennon-sometime-in-new-york-city

Release date: June 1972

Remixed with Overdub in New York, 1971 by Geoff Emerick, with Nicky Hopkins on electric piano, replacing the original organ track. (P.S. the original performance of “Don’t Worry Kyoko ran for 40 minutes but it was trimmed down to 15 minutes for the album release. Emerick was forced to change reels during the song, and there are three edits evident in the Live Jam version. )

f & d cover

Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.

Mike’s Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA

 

 

A Beginning [fragment]

[Hello there. This was something I scribbled one night for a project that may or may not ever come to fruition, bringing together all my female characters. Just for the hell of it I’m throwing it out here. See what you think. Enjoy.–Mike.]

She pushed herself up from the pile of bodies, wrinkling her nostrils against the sulfar stench wafting up from the lowlands. She stood tall, her cinammon-skin already damp with perspiration. Someone had thoughtfully provided a tight pair of snakeskin trunks, while leaving her feet bare. Next time, she mused, I get to pick my outfit.

Perhaps it was still night, Jamai thought. Somehow she knew this purple skyline with her roiling storm clouds had always been so. All it needed was a cliché bolt of–

Holie!” And here it comes, grounded to the lightning rod her small companion thrust into the catwalk at the last second. A blinding flash illuminated her in white silhouette, but in all respects she appeared unharmed.

“Hah! Take that, you dinkoff! Nobody beats science around here!” After taking one quick around, she added to herself, “God willing.” None the less, her khaki shorts and dingy white safari blouse appeared undamaged.

“Well played, sister,” Jamai smiled, taking Kiana Richards’ hand.

“It was nothing special,” Kiana shrugged, flicking her neck-length auburn hair back from her face. “These things were just lying on the catwalk. It just seemed like the thing to do. One question…”

“Yes. Where are we?”

“Exactly where you need to be,” another voice intruded. Another sister. Her bootsteps rattled on the catwalk’s struts, shaking the fragile structure and sending sympathetic shivers through all their bodies. The violet skinsuit graced all her best features, while the window cut into the chest fabric did nothing to hide her globes.

“Lianna,” Jamai nodded.

Kiana did the same, adding, “This is gonna get confusing fast. So tell me, we were all called together for a reason, or fell out of time or some crap?”

“No need to get snarky, red.” A collective startle jumped up into their hearts as they jerked to the right. Another blonde like Lianna crouched on the handrail, honey-tinged this time. But even in this dank light she was pale beyond reason, the tips of her fangs dimpling the corners of her lips. Leather cloaked her from those wetlook leggings to the slinky coat on her back. “Hi there. I’m Vye.” Nudging Jamai’s forearm, she said, “Hi again, bosoms. Been a while.”

To the others she said this. “It’s probably appropriate that I’m here at least. Take a look down.”

Her gaze angled over the rail. Together the three of them joined Vye in peeking twenty stories down to the field of lava breathing acrid fumes below. A dark crust formed over a large proportion of the landscape, but there remained bubbling honeypots oozing fresh magma. And towards the east, from their position at least, there heaved a maw filled with stalactite teeth, wide enough to gorge on an elephant.

“Let me guess,” Kiana whistled. “That’s the devil himself.”

“I’m going for something more general,” Vye replied. “Evil from before the dawn of time.”

“And what say you, Godwalker?”

This was getting to be such a regular occurrence, the ladies simply joined in a mutual sag, then turned to greet the new intruders. Apparently this was to be the first man on their team, a husky fellow in buckskin breeches and waistcoat over a plain white shirt, with moccasins and a leather sash girding his Bowie knife.

“Welcome, Jeremiah,” Lianna grinned. “You’re just in time. Bring the reinforcements?” He nodded.

As the portal opened wide behind him, Kiana asked, “Excuse me. Godwalker?”                     “Just a nickname,” Lianna squirmed.

“You don’t say,” Jamai queried with her raised eyebrows.

Throwing up her hands, Lianna elaborated. “All right, I may have met some Hindu gods, and they were kind to me…”

“Hah! More like they fondled you!” Vye laughed.

“So wait…are we all…dead?” Kiana whispered.

“Only some of us, lass!” spoke the tall Irish beauty striding from the portal, flowing skirt trailing her. Beside her a girl of Chinese-American descent practically skipped to keep pace. Besides her TV-Western cowboy outfit, she also lugged a Santa Claus-sized bag across her right shoulder.

The flaming red Irish woman shook all their hands in turn. “Top of the day, lasses. I’m Caitlan, this poor we’en is my partner, Fong. As ye can see, television has thoroughly corrupted her.”

“Sez you,” Fong’s higher pitched voice laughed. “I got the gear.” She looked toward Jamai and smiled. “Hi, Granny!”

Six pairs of eyes at various heights swiveled to a suddenly bashful Jamai. “It’s an affectionate appellation…ohh!” Any shy feelings evaporated as Caitlan and Fong both swept in for a hug.

Lianna harumphed, drawing their attention. “Okay, we all know each other…most of us. We’re all connected in some way. We’re all sisters. A-and brother,” she noted, waving a hand to Jeremiah.

“We’ve all experienced our days of terror, all looked into the face of damnation. I can’t force you to do this, but…that thing down there represents a power even the gods are a little nervous about. We all have our powers, all have our own little gifts, and that’s going to come in handy in the next few minutes. So, I’m asking you, will you stand with me?” As she spoke, so she circulated among the gathered, touching each of her allies with a gloved hand. Those hands were now open, beckoning.

“We’re gonna need a way down there,” Vye commented.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Fong huffed, dropping the bag onto the catwalk. Reaching inside with both small hands, she distributed a rocket pack to each of her fellow warriors. Each one of them fastened the gear as though they’d done this before, like they’d done this all their lives.

“All we need now,” said Kiana cheerily, “is Gail Simone to lead us.”

“Maybe next time,” Fong chipped in.

“Ready, Godwalker?” Jeremiah smiled.

“Don’t call me that,” Lianna moaned. As the smallest, Vye and Kiana bunched on the rails, ready to push off. Everyone else dropped to a runner’s crouch, ready to watch Lianna’s back.

“Okay,” she called, “Let’s go!”

—-

Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.

f & d cover

Mike’s Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Michael-Robbins/e/B00CMHSMYA