"hyphenated-man" is the name of my third opera, "contemplating the engine room" (1997) being the first one and "the secondman's middle stand" (2004) being the second. I expressly put together the missingmen (on guitar: tom watson and on drums: raul morales) for this proj a couple of years ago and now w/the mastering by john golden (august 19, 2010), I am so glad to say it has now been realized. it's first release was october 6, 2010 in japan on parabolica records and then released everywhere else on my own clenchedwrench label on march 1, 2011.
whereas "...engine room" dealt w/my pop's life in the navy as a metaphor for the story of the minutemen and "...middle stand" was a parallel to dante's "comedia" dealing w/an illness that almost killed me in 2000, this third opera is quite different in that it has no standard narrative (libretto!) meaning no regular beginning-middle-end and is as it were "simultaneous" in the way a mirror from just inside my head - right in this middle-age moment of mine - was then shattered into thirty pieces and then each piece stuffed in the head to show a piece of my state of mind (or out-of-mind) as of now. "thirty tunes?" yes, they're little ones... actually they're "thirty parts" of one big tune. back in 2005, too heavy to really hear minutemen stuff for many years, I had to face myself and get the nerve up to hear it again when I agreed to let keith scheiron and tim irwin make the "we jam econo" documentary (many thanks to them and all who helped out on that). I even did a few gigs w/george hurley w/us as a duet doing some of the old tunes and it was trippy for me, like I was digging on how "econo" those tiny tunes were - no filler, right to point and distilled down to the bare nada. also, a big influence was those little creatures in those old hieronymus bosch paintings - I read a theory about them maybe being visualizations of proverbs or aphorisms and me, not knowing much about sixteenth century dutch/flemish culture, made up my own meanings! the main parallel I saw w/the minutemen was how many little trips could roll up into one big one. the other thing that came into play was this idea of dorothy (from that "the wizard of oz" movie) kind of tripping on what men do to "be" men - me, taking that perspective on the story and not caring whether mr baum - or the people who adapted his work for that film - intended it or not (though no disrespect to him or the others). so I piled those trips into one pile and that's where this third opera came from.
oh, it was kind of trippy how this piece was actually made. I wrote all thirty parts on one of d. boon's telecaster - the black one he got in kent, ohio in 1984. now I'm not a very good guitarist but tom watson was quite the righteous man in his patience and determination to take the palsy demos I gave him and bring them to the piece. he'd join me a my prac pad w/his guitar and me w/d. boon's and while clearing up uncertainties by actually showing him where my fingers were on the neck, we both would play along and I would have raul try out different drum things so I could piece his parts together. I wanted him to stretch from what he was used to but still have it be natural for him. the main thing I was trying to do was get what I considered an "interesting conversation" between them musically. then in the middle of the "prac'n the 3rd opera" missingmen tour (trippy cuz not once in that whole tour did we play and 3rd opera songs for anyone but I would relentlessly pound the piece into tom and raul's head every day while we were driving in the boat!), we took three days off in the middle (may 3 - 5, 2009) and put into studio g in brooklyn, ny w/one of my bass heroes tony maimone to record just the gutar and drums - no bass or spiel at all. in fact, tom and raul never heard one word or bass note 'till I spent a week doing that stuff in at the g w/tony during june of 2010 and then still not yet 'til he had did the final mix a month and a half after that while I was out on tour w/the stooges. damn, what would this piece be w/out bass brother tony! big respect, same for tom and raul. it might've came out of my head but these dear cats helped me big time realize it. I am truly grateful to them, truly.
you can get the japan-only cd version from cdjapan.
and for the version that came out everywhere else:
vinyl + cd click here.
itunes click here.
uncle ray wrote an essay on his take of the piece here.
tina clarke's wrote an essay on her take of the piece here.
some other reactions to mike watt's "hyphenated-man"
now what came first the thought or the man? a crack in the shell a busted-up plan thirty pieces of broken-up mirror stuffed in the head spilled out here one axis booted the other from a bow errant apparent out from the crack one eye is witness confused w/the facts every second word muted only half of the whole arrow-pierced-egg-man...
fumblin' for footin' on fuckin' ice skates funnel full of folly fitted firmly to head the message, the message is held in the beak speak?
thinkin' there's some solitude in starin' off at the furthest view while closer up the assault begins the castle that's a bird comes hammerin' funnel-capped but steadfast too sharin' some of your attributes the hammer blows, the hammer blows! the castle bird's arms throw and throw while movin' its wall w/creature feet nearer and nearer w/out retreat musterin' resolve you get the clue you've met the enemy - guess who? it's you
the hankerin' for other skin is trippy for middle man ripe for them pretendin' they were more younger again bird-in-the-helmet-man armored tail in the sand arrow planted in the rump talon-toed for scratchin' stuff danglin' from the helmet's hook by the bone a sawed-off foot panderin' to work the shill procurin' ink for the quill now here's the deal, here's the seal here's exactly where to kneel the thought that got bought was fraught w/reality much too real
yeah, to know, to know is to feel it in the gut and not just w/spielin' beyond spiel, that's really feelin' a belly w/ears stuck to some legs no arms or chest - not even a head stabbed w/truth fuckin' gets bled gut kicked - hard truth hits - hard emotions gush - but no word hole in the dirt, knocked on the ass all sprawled, just boots and a cap thunderfucked and bellystabbed
inside the drum beat down dumb the orders come respondin' numb can't get plumb blows of thump bounced around beaten down outside the drum just wanna pound the drum! trapped inside nowhere to hide thumped in the bin merciless din
in the fucked-up parade ridin' on a mouse cradlin' the aka-chan w/a head for a treehouse leaves all gone peeled bark maybe just maybe maybe tannis root? ridin' side-saddle the mouse marchin' backwards the root like a tail danglin' downwards cradlin' the aka-chan, cradlin' the aka-chan...
in the shell of the belly of the hollow man some cats made it into a kind of party pad both legs planted w/boats for feet the melancholy face is an analogy now the hat that's worn is like a horse track pairs of peckers promenadin' 'round a sack, a swollen bagpipe waitin' for the ear-knife castrate hack and up the stairs climbs another wack
conviction's like some affliction w/out the clout of some doubt it's fuckin' nonsense ignorin' content and lettin' the mouth just spout what's over there ain't over here don't look over here it's over here cuz of what's over there hey! look over there the only one w/the clothes on, the only one w/that face? that's a good point but what's the point, to finger someone or to warn? look what's your way, comin' our way packin' a backhand of harm
twistin' the head all the way 'round workin' it this way to embellish the sound wearin' the boots to stomp w/the feet makin' like it's only cuz to stay in the beat blue in the face blowin' the brains out makin' damn sure that it's showin' it out now go figure the trigger to really holler fuckin' holler and hoist yeah, foist expression from repression not badge-buffin' or baggin' wind but to get out what's stuck w/in
in the pan parts of a man all cut up, gettin' all cooked up over a fire that never tires a life of toil for the oil w/blood and sweat brought to boil relentless ain't this fuckin' hell? in the pan a face of a man intensely hurtin', intensely blurtin' "ain't it done, ain't I done?" but the fryer's a liar and heats up higher
again, feelin' less than a man usin' a cloak to hide what's missin' the look on the face: BAKA! and w/a knife in its scarboard - in the cloak... feathers stickin' out the back waddle about, waddle about feathers in the back, stickin' out no arms for the knife only feet to pace, head to wonder what a wonder, what a blunder! what a fucked up thing it is
swagger swagger stagger stagger fumble bumble stumble tumble noggin bobbin' bobbin noggin hardened guarded shoulder-parted fuckin' tail's a fuckin' flail probably end up self-impaled half a man is only half a man! fisted twisted knitted fitted scarlet hearted costume-parted
in the garden green serene a crown of two cherries gently perched interestingly passion put-there borne of dream carved that way passion-painted reason fainted no, swooned unbalanced, balanced headspun swirlin' and sloshin' jumpin' on tears
loss and liberation forever the connection forever the question be brave, watt stop never reflectin' the lesson ain't ever less than the lesson never lessens
like a mouse... like a mouse... and the mouse sings... like a mouse...
a hankerin' yeah, a hunger actually stronger when more younger but sentimental ain't so gentle actually comical when less younger tryin' to act like somethin' stronger but the ego just won't let go so the shamin' bursts out flamin' a dynamic woman w/special skills abandon body hear her spiels but this costume fuckin' blows so get naked let weakness show yank off antlers and fuckin' chuck use the bass be old man punk
mangled-up parts together twisted didn't realize most existed bafflin' how they're connected can't understand what's existin' took half a life to get this way livin' the other half in dismay got a hunch, got a notion this trip's like an ocean some shit sinks, some shit floatin' tripped and slipped took half a life to get this way livin' the other half in dismay experience makes an appearance some wise but lots of it regret remedy for memory: forget? fuck that, man - learn from it
inside the bell as the clapper thighs beaten as they hit the lip cries deafened by punishin' chimes above the yoke a huge horse skull unknown inside here in the bell knowin' only groanin' the sound of the toll of the soul the swinger thinkin' and swingin' keepin' time, solemn time
ill-fittin' boots, notice the stagger yeah, that's right, a fish out of water waddle about in the middle of helltown searchin' around for somethin' to chow down mindless helmet head ridin' on top mindless helmet head bein' propped up mindless helmet head mouth wide open one day get bucked off, surely hopin' oh yeah, wings - forgot to mention those things might be cuz they're tacked on w/nothin' to act on no-flyin'-fake-things only for posturin' add to that housin' the face of a mouse
thistle-headed-man! w/hawks on your hand a mule that's a jug is what you saddle up you spread your own feathers boastin' you're untethered from your place in line even the mouse you're behind thistle-headed-man! butch for the show promenade your cocked-head bow ridin' backwards you, not the mule! a crown of thistle fashioned for you to match your head match the swagger mock the mocked loose the bladder
full of folly funnel-capped-man thinkin' you had it happenin' a solution maybe to the problem let go that ego that you're trapped in
blow the flute become the flute there's no sound in flutes! throat veins throbbin' eyeballs crossin' insane ragin' fuckin' ravin' god damn go off far too far off 'pert-near ready to pop! (and no beards)
stumblin' around tumblin' down fumblin' about all drown swimmin' in wallow w/every swallow sentimental shmaltzy-bound make the leg a plug and stick it in the jug leg in the jug now sop it up
green tunic red tights lute slung behind your back now dagger shinin' bright what were you thinking? can't see your face
in the mirror: fuckin' poser been around enough to know there's nothin' underneath those robes except a big time gorilla jones a book for fake readin' a nest on the head w/egg in or funnel on top of beagle ears but very glad to admit this irony: one of the greatest devices kafka irony kierkegaard irony bosch's irony cure the mockery cure the mockery cure the mockery work the paddle pedal jitensha work the BASS!
hey, arrow in the forehead whoa, woman at the back gate hey, face like a nitwit whoa, seein' the sinkin' ship up and down the fuckin' hill hey, roots comin' from the legs whoa, out the soil... must be stumps made of a hill planted here gotten somethin' solid between the ears
gettin' caught up in it buildin' this fuckin' shit but back in the mind a truth's realized the other men the better men the real men respect to them submit, retreat embrace defeat and get to work heave-ho the shirk and do the dance the wanna-be-man-dance and burn your ass from flamin' hoop jumps compensatin' for just what ain't and up the ladder up the scaffold w/sacks of bullshit, many mouthfuls hammer for hammer crowbar for rod smoke and fire flames and fire higher and higher pile it up higher
at the heart is envy in the heart of no heart abandoned humanity all tore apart in the pit is pride boss of fraud slave of greed willfully lost man shittin' man, man!
many men make up the man the paintin' and the painter's hand I'll never truly understand a life is many days? taiyo teaches me his name and tsuki dances through her phases I think I've learned that life's for learnin' as I'm goin' through my trips - me on the wheel as it's turnin'