Thursday, November 01, 2018

Episode Two: The Goose Invents Day Drinking

Welcome to the second part of my story. There are links to the audio presentation below,
and the text follows that.

Episode Two: the Goose Invents Day Drinking

    The Witch lived in a cluttered apartment in a brownstone near Rittenhouse Square.
It was a little bit moved in, a little bit lived in. A gaylord box did double duty as a table. It was  disguised by a lamp and an antimacassar which had been stolen from the arm of one of the two couches that were partially visible.
    The stolen antimacassar was from the far end of a green sofa against one windowless wall. The green couch had one vacant seat, with a deep greasy groove. Next to this space was an enormous sewing box with countless drawers and compartments full of all sorts of things.
The rest was heaped with laundry. Plastic baskets peeped through the multicolored clothing.
    The Goose had taken up residence on the other couch, which was vicious shades of
brown and orange found only on furniture from the nineteen  seventies.
    Dust stuck to acorn oil haze on anything that wasn’t moved often enough.
   The Witch kept the thermostat high and the windows open a crack.
    Hanging plants died in dusty windows. The colorless carpet was stained and had sticky
places, with pools of “especially so”.
    Through a passthrough window over a cluttered counter, the Goose could see into the Witch’s kitchen.
A ceramic tile counter and double sink, covered with stacks of antique and antiquated pots and food preparation devices, most covered with a haze of dusty corn oil.
   During the long days, the Goose would take up a perch by a filthy window, looking
beyond the sawtooth rooftops at the lonely, distant sky.
   After a few weeks, he still hadn’t learned to brew tea, in spite of the Witch’s efforts.
   The Witch came and went on ordinary and magical errands.
    She was a witch under contract. A local business had hired her to enchant a shipment
of nails, so that they would hold fast with one blow of the hammer,every time, yet let go of the wall entirely when the correct word was spoken.
   This kept her away most days.
She pulled a rubber wheeled, light grey metal cart through the red brick warehouse by the river. She set up her tools at each stack of wooden kegs of iron nails, spoke her piece and moved along the rows of pallets in a slowly drifting corona of incense smoke.
   Some evenings the two would set out, making a circuit of a few small tap rooms. They drank draft beer and smoked cigarettes until late.
   She underdressed him for the cold. Boozy conversation would flow by and the Witch would add a nasty
comment here or a clever observation there. The Goose would laugh too loud.

   Ravens did raven things, some as silhouettes, some as shadows.
   In Pennypack Park, moss dried out, nuts fell and leaves became new substance
for the forest floor.
  Grey Squirrel had a difficult time compared to other squirrels, these days.
     Always a strong competitor in spite of himself, now he was slowed down, handicapped
as if by an injury. He was preoccupied, carrying his treasure from place to place.
    There were days when he could stash it like a nut and forget about it. He preferred to
have it close, like his teeth and claws.
    Since the Circle of Ravens, and the Witch’s intervention, Grey Squirrel had new fears.
They were slower than the usual Squirrel fear. Heavy beat of black feathered wings and rasping, croaking voices built new fears in his head.
    The gold and white metal of the Witch’s broken scissors held potential, promise and
security. His tiny hand wanted to feel the metal become warm, to learn
to trust the paw sized, gold plated human hand that stuck out a couple of inches in front of the hoop of the handle.
    Concentration made him stop and think when another squirrel would have jumped.
Jumps became longer, parts of flowing chains of motion that ended with the Witch’s
broken scissors sticking out of a protrusion of the tree bark. Within the twitching of the increasingly brittle leaves, the rhythm of the branches and everything else moved. The bright point of the scissors became a fixed place around which all things shifted.
   Fear of the ravens kept the cold gold, unyielding hoop in his unaccustomed animal grip.
He didn’t know it, but he had discovered something that few animals that lived in the wild did. The difference between instinct and training. The practice and development of technique with a tool, an extension of oneself. The feeling of extending into an instrument. The feeling of increasing the effect of one’s will.
    Grey Squirrel imagined his confrontation with the ravens again and again, relishing the decisive, vindictive thrust at the end of every instance that didn’t end with a tattered, bloody squirrel.

   The Goose sat at the bar at McGlinchey's, gloomy over a glass of beer. His broad
shoulders took up two places at the bar, as he was repeatedly reminded when it was
 crowded in the evenings.
    He flinched and twitched, reseating himself on the unsteady, uncomfortable nest
provided by the barstool.
   The cavernous depths of the daytime bar were bare of the crowded coziness of night.
Worn plastic surfaces wrote their story in chipped corners and cigarette burns. Light filtered in through the unworldly colors of the leaded glass windows onto thirteenth street.
   The Bartender recognised him, which the Goose took as part of the advantage that his enchanted good looks gave him, as the Witch told him many times, over real men.
    She brought him another draft beer. The Goose sipped the cold drink, dreading the walk
home in his threadbare canadian tuxedo.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Dan Lange's Guide To Secret Walks / Episode One :The Goose

Episode One; The Goose

Introduction to Episode One: The Goose

Welcome to the first episode of  “Dan Lange’s Guide To Secret Walks”.
    Learning how to share this story is important to me. Everything about this is an experiment.
The story is derived from years of notebooks, recordings and sketches I’ve made. There’s already a beginning, middle and end - the arc is established, I’m just looking into my best abilities and inclinations to bring it to you in these episodic chunks of words and music.
     There are worlds inside the world we see. Our perceptions change, and we see different things illuminated by different internal light. A hike through local woodlands gives us the opportunity to visit places beyond our own imagining.
     Look at animals. Watch how your perception shifts when you hear a noise in the woods - as you try to identify the source, as the animal comes into view and can be identified, as you watch familiar and unfamiliar behaviors. A chipmunk or a junco can seem enormous - until you think that you know what they are.

    The musical background has been recorded in my home studio, a mix of acoustic instruments and electronic manipulations. Special thanks to my friend Steve Hall for his excellent performance on goose calls.

How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?   Wm. Blake, “The Marriage Of heaven And Hell” 1790

Episode One: The Goose

The Witch had been drawn North on that early October Sunday. It was a fine clear day, sweater weather before heavy coat weather.
            The forces which had drawn the Witch North that day were part of a push and pull of conflicting feelings, countered by homesickness for her house and family in the land between the lakes, far to the south.
             Here no distant hills could be seen. The square and sawtooth waveforms of rooftops under an iron sky slid by the window of the train. Skeins of geese formed and reformed across the sky. Their cries could not be heard over the rattle and throb of the elevated.
            She saw into tiny apartments on stories just at the level of the train tracks, some with no blinds or curtains at all to shield the lives within from the casual eyes rolling by a few yards away. On an industrial rooftop, a water tower shaped like a huge, rusty bottle chugged by. Low, brick row houses extended to the horizon, punctuated by steeples and trees, larger buildings, a school, a hospital, a super market.
             She'd taken the elevated train to the end of the line and wandered around the terminal, settling on a bench to wait for a bus. She studied a group of pigeons, grey and black and white, foraging beneath the train tracks.
            She ate ginger snaps from a black and orange box she took from an enormous handbag. She and several other travelers boarded the bus, she rode in silence past more nearly identical rows of brick houses. Possibly at random, she pulled the signal cable and left the bus. She began walking, seeking open ground.
            The various reds and purples of the endless brick were subtler  hues of the colors of the maples, oaks and sycamores that lined the streets. From somewhere she smelled burning leaves.
            The sidewalk opened up on her left, on a field that ended at a line of trees, bordering on denser woods. Beyond the field and the patch of woods, rows of connected brick houses, about as tall as the trees.
            A solitary goose called, unseen for a moment, the winsome sound coming from all around until it was overhead.
            Broad wings spread wide as the hind quarters of the goose tucked in as he came to earth on the close grass of the baseball diamond. His black beak pointed briefly at the Witch and then he waddled a few feet away from her, browsing the grass. She could see, in the fine afternoon light, every feather and line as the goose walked and browsed. The deep chest, cloaked by the folded wings seemed just perfect.
             The goose, or gander, seemed absorbed by the swath of cut grass before him, full of tiny insects, hopping life, food. He ambled along, absorbed, roughly toward a stand of white birches at edge of the woods. The Witch slowly followed.
             In the growing shadow of the trees, there was a rough ring of dark figures. Her eyes baffled for a moment as to scale, she recognized the grouping as seven large ravens surrounding a grey squirrel. The squirrel’s stance was wide, low, head bobbing up and down as he turned, facing all of the ravens at once, as far as was possible.
            Without a thought, the goose acted, lowering his dark head and rushing at the circle of ravens. He hissed as he came on and flapped his broad wings, outstretched feathers sweeping the grass. As he reached the circle, he was honking. The ravens merely parted, stepped further apart and gazed with black mocking eyes at the goose. The squirrel had vanished.
            The Witch dropped her handbag on the ground, stooped and began to rummage around in the beadwork satchel. She took out a padlock. On it were looped and locked three small pairs of scissors.
            With a tiny key she freed the scissors, taking one pair onto the finger and thumb of her right hand. She turned towards the goose and the ravens and gestured with the baby’s fingernail scissors, rounded half circles at the tips, blades curved.
             She snipped the air and muttered softly. In lengthening shadows, a soft light seemed to be cast by the grey and brown Canada goose, soft, goose colored light. The Witch stood foursquare to the goose, arms overhead. She sighted along the shears and clipped a piece of the sliver moon just as it rose from behind the trees.
            The Goose light became liquid goose as the creature flowed and stretched.
             The Witch was fully absorbed by the sight before her, the strong shape of man's body on the grass where the goose had been.
            A raven let out an abrupt “Kark”, and another, closer, darted past the witch, landed beside the open top of the handbag. The setting sun glinted off of bright blades as the black bird flew off with a pair of the freed scissors. Freed, the scissors fled the ravens grasp, spinning through the air. Flying, the raven chased the whirling blades. Hiding in tall grass, the squirrel was startled as a moving loop of the scissors strikes him. The full weight of the raven came down fast on the startled squirrel, who shifted fast without letting go the flashing steel. The tiny screw holding the two blades together popped free. One blade was caught fast beneath the raven’s wing, point pressing the black feathered breast.  The other loop was caught in the squirrel’s paw. The small shoulders rotated, the bushy tail shot back, away from the raven. The sharp point of the Witch's scissors broke the surface of the raven’s eye. A dreadful low rattling cry came from the injured bird.
             The Witch knelt by her creation, wrapping him in her purple cloak. She carefully padlocked her remaining two pair of scissors and placed them in her bag. She led her foundling to the bus stop as the ravens comforted their damaged comrade. The squirrel, carrying half a pair of the witch's scissors, had vanished, beyond the white barked birch trees into the beech and maple woods of Pennypack Park.

© Dan Lange 2018 This is a work of fiction. All characters portrayed are fictitious and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.
Dan Lange's Guide To Secret Walks
All rights reserved
a Zoester Records production

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Official Zoester Records Biography for Dan Lange.

I dropped out of the Philadelphia College of Art in the early eighties,  to play guitar and work on mural commissions. My busking career began around this time. Soon I found myself in Shakey Lyman's band "The Boogiemen". Hosting the open mic and jam sessions at Bacchanal around this time gave me needed experience. Later I was a founding member of Tim Pikunas'  now long standing act "The Hired Guns Blues Band"
   In the early nineteen nineties,  I had relocated to London, England where I worked as a solo artist,  busking the underground, Covent Garden and Camden Lock. I hosted the open mic at a Firkin pub, played a three month residency at Bunjies Folk Cellar and gigged regularly at venues  like the Twelve Bar Club.

   A period of travel and adventure landed me in the San Francisco bay area by the turn of the century,  where I formed two different iterations of "The Dan Lange Band", busked a lot more, and began playing Farmers Markets. During these years I worked at Beacham Sound,  providing live audio for events and recording demos for artists while recording my own albums "Please And Thank You" and "Streetwise". One of my tracks was used in the award winning documentary film "Mine". While I lived in California I was fortunate to be picked by  Bread and Roses, who presented my musical performance to halfway houses, hospitals, and other places of healing.

  When we moved to Portland,  Oregon, I set up my own small recording studio. Here I tracked instrumental and vocal talent for educational and corporate training films, as well as voice talent for several advertisements for Thompson Center Arms. I continued to perform at area farmers markets.

   We left the Pacific northwest  for Vermont, where again I brought my music to farmers markets. While in Southern Vermont I participated a number of charitable and community events. I built friendships with local musicians, artists and craftspeople .
    I recorded guitar and mandolin tracks on the album "Cold Chills" by Tommy Scavotto's "John Thomas Band".
   In recent years we've returned to Oregon, where I'm developing recording techniques and creating my long form episodic narrative,  "Dan Lange's Guide To Secret Walks " which will be offered in monthly installments as a release through Zoester Records.
   In addition to vocals, I play slide guitar,  harmonica, detuned mandolin and in truth, I'll mess with anything that has strings, including the longbow and the fishing rod.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017