Sunday, December 5, 2010

Almost Fameless

After a long hiatus, Gutter Folk is back, and, if not better than ever, then at least as good as it was.
The hiatus was in part due to Waiting for Pornoetry, but partly because I am a fickle person sometimes. Distracted first by communism and the revolution and then by a girl and my over-the-top reactions to such. That and, it can be a little tricky to get ones inertia back.
However, I did make a resolution last January: to give music my all for 2010. Instead, as it happens, I only gave it my some. However, the year isn't done yet, and the least I can do is give it my all for that little which remains.
Then we'll see where we are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On June 21st 2010, to little or no fanfare, Gutter Folk launched its website.

And here it is.

Edit: No it isn't. Curse you, Internet!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dues & Don't's

Somebody once commented on a spectacular chip in the otherwise flawless paint of his guitar. "Shame about that," the somebody said, pointing to the flaw.
"On the contrary," Jeremy replied, hefting the guitar to bring it closer to eye level. "Every scratch, every chip, every single scar on my guitar is a badge of honor. You can't bring your sword into battle day-after-day and not expect to occasionally notch the blade. This isn't an ornament after all: it's an instrument."
On another, separate occasion he referred to his guitar as a universe-making machine. When pressed to clarify this odd remark, he refused, saying only "For every chord I play there are a hundred that I don't."
And with that we will have to be content.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Polaroid

From Pornoetry:

For me, a picture was the paltry price of my soul.
Others would have held out for money or power, perhaps, but it wasn't their soul to sell. It was mine and I let it go for a Polaroid.
It began with the strange man who came into the bookstore I worked at. It was ten minutes to closing when the bells chimed, announcing his arrival. I groaned inwardly for I recognized his rumpled, shabby type immediately: here then was a traveling salesman, a peddler of cheap pens and worthless watches and neon fanny packs and who knew what else. He was here to sell, not to buy in other words; and in brazen violation of the 'No Soliciting' sign which he smiled at upon entering.
Hoping he would make his pitch so that I could kick him out and close up, I waited at the counter for him. He shot me the same insolent smile he had given the sign as he approached, brandishing a battered briefcase that doubtlessly contained his wares.
"Good evening, Bookseller," he said with the slightest nod. His voice was cold and strangely sterile; like fluorescent lighting it got the job done, but the effect was far from pleasant.
I shrugged noncommittally in reply, as though my duties prevented me from knowing-one way or the other- what sort of evening it might be. I held my silence and waited for his pitch but it didn't come. In that same dispassionate voice he asked for Marlowe. And Irving. And Chekhov and Wilde and Bradbury, until a tidy pile of books lay between us. When I rang them up and read the total he laid his briefcase on the counter beside them.
"I read on the sign outside that you accept trades," he said.
So that's how he meant to play it, I thought. Inwardly fuming over the time I had wasted finding his books, I said "We trade books for books, two-for-one generally; but we don't accept stuff that's trashed and we never accept romance. Books," I added firmly.
"Alas," he said as his hands undid the briefcase clasps as one, "I have no books to trade. I have only Beauty."
He opened the case and my eyes followed the motion - fully expecting to see junk and trinkets, knick-knacks and cheap souvenirs. My eyes were surprised, therefore, and the rest of me a moment later when it registered that the briefcase was empty save for a single Polaroid picture laying on the bottom. The contrast between the black of the briefcase and white of the picture frame was striking; in much the same way that great art is elevated by a gallery wall, so to did the Polaroid profit from the context of its sparse surroundings.
The picture itself was blank; a milky white as though the picture had been taken only seconds before and was still developing.
Before my eyes the faint outlines of a human figure appeared, female -and, as the seconds passed and the image swam closer to clarity- visibly naked. Her face couldn't be made out yet, but it was framed by long, raven black hair; a tattoo sat astride a pair of perfect teacup breasts.
The tattoo, that of a heart flanked by angel wings, was the first part of the picture to fully develop; I had just long enough to recognize it from memory when the lid of the briefcase slammed down, severing the picture from my sight.
"Wait-!" The word was torn from me before I was even aware; I heard it without registering it as mine.
"Ah," said the man, "see something that catches your fancy, do you?"
I nodded wordlessly, though my gaze never lifted. It was as if the briefcase had acquired an enormous gravity in the past few moments and I clung to the countertop desperately. If I let go for an instant I would fall towards it, I was certain.
"So maybe we can arrange a trade after all, yes?"
Again I nodded, my sluggish brain still wrestling with the various surprises and desires that had been sprung on it.
"Who- who was that?" I managed at last. "Who is the girl in the picture?"
"The most beautiful girl in the world, for you," the man replied, confirming what my heart swore was the truth but that my stubborn brain refused to believe. Simply because it was impossible.
"How-" I began again, but could think of no coherent way to phrase the question. He waved it away as if he could hear it regardless, and considered it irrelevant.
"Nine times out of ten," he said, "I open that case and it's empty: the person I'm showing it to just hasn't the capacity to see the... type of beauty I have to offer. But every now and again I'll meet a special soul -like yourself- whose life is a desert in its loneliness; whose heart is dead enough, empty enough that it can be quickened and filled by desire alone."
As before I heard every word without hearing a single one; they floated in my ear like individual bubbles and popped into nothingness inside my head.
"Take the books," I said in a voice that was pained and pleading.
"Now, now," he said softly, gazing at me with a touch of pity, "we both know the rules. Books for books, you said. For your hearts desire..."
He trailed off and for the first time I looked at him and saw not a salesman but something inhuman and supernatural. And I felt so cold, cold as I have never felt; not even in the darkest depths of winter. The only source of warmth in the world it seemed, was the briefcase - in my fevered imagination it glowed between us like a pot-bellied stove.
His eyes held mine and I nodded. Then he nodded and something inside me switched off forever. He opened the briefcase once more and laid the Polaroid face down on the countertop.
"A pleasure doing business with you," said the man who was not a man, and he closed the case and departed to the sound of chiming bells. Though it was now past closing I made no move to lock up. My eyes were fixated on the photograph and the words which were written upon its back in an ugly scrawl: See you in Hell.
For a long time I stared until finally, I could stand the sight no longer. More to hide those terrible words than anything, I flipped the Polaroid over.
It was blank.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A pact with the Devil, a pact with the Christ.

Any religious scholar will tell you that this world is doomed, but, that it'll all be okay so long as you accept Jesus into your heart and all that ooey-gooey stuff.
But what if they're wrong?
Such was the conundrum faced by a young Jeremy Owen when he went out to the crossroads and sold his soul to Jesus. He came away from the bargain with a red guitar, 3 chords and the Truth, but felt uneasy nonetheless.
Never one to put all his eggs in one basket, Jeremy sought out the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, etc, and made another deal. No longer having an immortal soul with which to bargain, he offered instead his heart -the very symbol of his mortality. The Devil accepted and gave to Jeremy a battered fedora, a walking stick and a briefcase, inside of which was a book of songs.
That which we now call Gutter Folk owes it's origins to these two, seemingly contradictory, contracts.
In the mortal world, during waking life, Jeremy Owen was the Devil's man; doing the Devil's work in everything that he did.
But when he slept, and when he died, Jesus would claim him and put him to His own works.
Said Jeremy in a 1982 interview:
"Yeah, it was pretty confusing, being pulled one way and then the other. And a lot of the time my work of the day would be to undo what I had done the night before and vice versa. It was like playing a game of Chess by oneself - no matter what, you're guaranteed to lose. Eventually, however, an equilibrium was reached."

Just how, exactly, this middle way was discovered or implemented, scholars and historians can only guess. What is known is that in 1963 -around the time a young Bob Dylan was making a name for himself- Gutter Folk emerged on the scene as a serious contender and an upset to the pre-established order. Nothing would ever be the same again.

-From 'Reflections on the Void: How Music and Nothingness conspired to save the world' by Gypsy Crow. Pub. Longman, London, 1805.