one more time/blahg/part 1

Yesterday I was trying to celebrate our gig & homecoming in St Louis on my computer — BUT my iMac chewed it up & shat it out into some kind of cyber limbo — how can a machine be such a cruel editor? — I sang & soared 2 hours of praise songs erased by a what? a glitch? an omen? juju? —
yeah yeah, I got the St Louis Blues –

have been going & performing in St Louis for over 40 years — why? because it’s the realized integrated arts core community that many other urban palookavilles can’t fathom or realize — you can kill each other or embrace & learn to work together — that’s what was so rewarding about our last gig –

OK — back-story:

1969: Tina & me & our 3 daughters (Amanda, Maggie, Jennie) in a funky white second-hand Plymouth station wagon are driving across the US of A towards permanent exile abroad, we’re headed to the Old Country & we want to show the kids some of the landscape they’re leaving. I’d set up readings along the way by contacting poet friends & academics who arranged readings & sometimes their apartments or houses for the Meltzer brood. When we arrived in St Louis — on one of those numbingly hot moist times of the year — our host was Howard Schwartz, a recent friend & contributor to Tree, an irregular journal I edited focusing on kabbalistic themes like Shekinah, Yetzirah, Evil, putting ancient texts in dialogue w/ modernist writings. Howard was devoted to dreams, parables, Kafka, jewish folklore, & ECM Records. He was a professor of Literature & Writing at UMSL & belonged to a vibrant cultural nexus of poets, musicians, Donald Finkel, artists, congenial eccentrics. Buddhist artist & poet, Michael Corr, gave up his apartment to the Meltzers in one of those 3 story brick cubes lining the streets. It seemed every night there was a gathering at someone’s place, but the one I remember best was at poet Michael Castro’s digs. In the basement people were playing kora, mbiri, xylophone, all kinds of drums, guitars. Poets reading, chanting, burbling & babbling. Our daughters loved it. A good sign. Then Howard, maybe Michael, & I read at marvelous Duff’s, a bar & restaurant that to this day flourishes thanks to Karen Duff, indefatigable, & generous to creative types like us. I met not only teenage prodigy Marty Ehrlich, but the wonderful jazz guitarist Lyle Harris, who we’d work w/ over the decades. I remember one night we stealthed into East St Louis to read poetry at a local “underground” radio stations. Remember, this was the ’60s & “revolution” & “free” was in the air. St Louis was the apogee of our road trip & we’ve staid in touch over decades!– DM

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