Purple Flowers

Pacific GroveI’ve got Ligeti’s Lontano running—vast sheaves of tones, building and yielding like the striated dark bands in the edge sands of a beach—while the sun sets through clouds and fern pines. The shadows on the windows are swarming minnows rising and falling before the dense mass of new rain like a Great Wall to the west.

I just returned from an overnighter to Monterey, running out from Cannery Row along the complex purple-flowered walls of Pacific Grove, yelping harbor seals cooking along the rocks and thin spits of sand, their voices mixing with the endless baby wails of seabirds as evening set in.

And Prince is dead. I seem to be commemorating dead people these days. I thought he was an interesting oddity in the earliest years of MTV with his soul moves, but didn’t really find a degree of respect for his talents until I was in the Peace Corps and on leave to the capital city of Fiji, Suva, over summer break (December-ish, 1990). I had nothing better to do than to wander the streets, meet-up and drink with whoever was available, and go to the air-conditioned movie theater whenever I could afford it. I saw Graffiti Bridge probably four times and, by the second showing, had revised my opinion of Prince to that of a great innovator. The music was both like and unlike anything I had heard, rippling with tempo changes and rapid polyrhythms, sharp synchronization and dense harmonies. The movie was, however, terrible.

Like Bowie’s Quicksand and Velvet Underground’s Candy Says, I memorialize Cream and Kiss, and, perhaps the most impressive, Sinead O’Connor’s rendition of Nothing Compares 2 U. It still brings tears. She apparently had a fist-fight with Prince over her more religio-politico antics.

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