The Arms & Legs Live at the Phoenix Theater

After two days confined to the musty enclaves of Roger “The Raj” Tschann’s Grizzly Bear studios, your favorite anatomically-correct rock band, The Arms & Legs, has emerged head first with its first record.

The yet-to-be-titled release (send your suggestions to namethattune@daedalushowell.com) represents the cumulative efforts of Orion Letizi, Abraham Levy and myself (on guitar, drums and bass respectively). On vocals, as our producer Raj put it, is the Orion Tabernacle Choir.

The recording process went more smoothly than I think any of us expected, due to and perhaps in spite of the fact that we are all lifelong chums who share more prehistory than the early Pleistocene (the era, not the band). That said, be assured that our latest (well, only) record was not undertaken as an archival exercise, nor is it some post-20s nostalgia trip or remembrance of bands past. It is a new beast entirely. And it’s right behind you.

As an example of our sound, consider this: remember in grade school when, as a science experiment, you put a tooth in a bottle of Coke and retrieved it a week later only to discover that it had turned black and become totally decayed? Okay, our band sounds nothing like that.

Tell you what, download our single, “One of Many,” right here: http://daedalushowell.com/mp3/tunes/oneofmany.mp3

To celebrate our studio triumph, The Arms & Legs will ring in the New Year live with The New Trust, Free Cowboy Hats and Thus The Buzz beginning at 8 p.m., December 31, at the venerable Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St., Petaluma, CA. The gig is free and open to all ages.

For more information, point your browser to http://www.thephoenixtheater.com .

More free Mp3s at http://www.thearmsandlegs.com/

Sidekick Services Agreement

Below is your revised special services agreement as my personal sidekick. Several additions and/or adjustments have been made to address issues that arose during the past few weeks, or more pointedly, after your embarrassing crying jag at Han’s annual winter social. Accept it, that thing on your neck was a pimple and it was hideous. Damn it, man, if you can’t handle a casual half hour or so of gentle ribbing, perhaps we should end this little agreement right now. If you’re going to be my sidekick, you have the privilege of being the whetstone upon which I sharpen my rapier wit. Got it?

Points of improvement:

You simply must learn how to properly cork a bottle. This is paramount, seeing as I can hardly be called upon to open wine AND drink it. With a glass in one hand and the other tracing the seam of some little black dress or other, my hands are full. Where are yours, Sherman? Stuffed in your pockets as you lumber around staring at your feet? Make yourself useful, man, pop a cork or two. Then wait in the car if you’re going to be “shy.”

And about your car ? can we do something about this? If I’m going to be chauffeured around by you any longer, Sherman, you could at least consider something more befitting my station.

Also, stop grousing about your expense account. Many employees are asked to cover incidental expenses out of pocket. Rule of thumb ? anything that can be purchased at a convenience store is incidental: booze, cigarettes, condoms, Turpenoid, etc. And must you bitch every time I send you? How else would you track your expenses?

Note: call me “kemosabe” under your breath one more time and I’ll kick your fucking ass. I know what it really means and it’s not cool.

Another Note: Dictation. D-I-C-T-A-T-I-O-N. You will take it and like it.

Word to the wise, when I’m on some particularly tight deadline, you may again be called upon to mimic the “house style,” which is to say my style, even though, clearly, we’d also be staying at your house. It has come to my attention that I must remain “off the grid” for the good of the mission, but so long as you have a couch, we will both be comfortable. If your couch is a sofa bed, then all the better for you. But I digress, if you’re going to continue handling my correspondence and penning the occasional byline piece for me, Sherman, I insist that you ratchet up the brilliance, otherwise no one will believe it’s me.

Remember, per our confidentiality agreement, you must never repeat any detail or reveal the nature of our missions apart from those relating to the range and scope of my indefatigable sexual prowess, the beauty of my mistresses or similar points of interest relevant to the maintenance of my legend.

You must be willing to take a bullet for me (and not quibble when I hand you the smoking gun). This is meant both figuratively and literally. As you know, I will never pass the buck, literally, but will compensate with countless figurative buck-passings. In this capacity, rest assured, you are always on my mind.

That said, you’ve been very anxious about your fee lately ? must I remind you that you’re still in your trial period? Every time you raise the specter of your compensation, it tells me that you indeed require more apprenticeship. Frankly, you’re beginning to tax my generosity. Stop delaying your future! That’s not fair to either of us, is it? Especially me. Don’t you agree? Of course you do. You’re so goddamn predictable. You truly bore me, Sherman. Truly. Remember, I’m not looking for a “yes man,” but more of a “yes, sir man.”

Merry X-mas.

Look-Alike Contest

Are you a Daedalus Howell look-alike?

Does your rakish mien skew Mediterranean? Can your timeless charm be attributed to an aquiline nose? Do you wear a 44 Long Suit and size 11 shoes with no distinguishing marks, scars or tattoos? Dental records out of date? Never been fingerprinted?

If you match the criteria above, send a photo of yourself, day-time phone number and the most likely time that you will be alone in a rural area, to: fakingmydeath@daedalushowell.com .

Blake Replies

Read yesterday’s to follow today’s…

FROM BLAKE:

Attn. Daedalus (if that indeed is your real name) —

Poor sir, you’re a fool. This search for yourself in the eyes of women is dull and ordinary. Moreover, the identity motif in your slipshod reportage is not only trite but telling. No wonder you haven’t made any satisfactory gains on your unified field theory of women — you haven’t met any ? just these fantastic projections of your own neurotic notions onto the local talent. Borrrring. Need I refer you to Jung’s take on the anima once more?

[Women who are of “fairy-like” character especially attract such anima projections, because men can attribute almost anything to a creature who is so fascinatingly vague?]

Don’t you remember the time you were in the bookstore with Rocky Brava, your ex-girlfriend? You should have learned then. Look how that ended up?

In the motion picture version of your life, it would go something like this:

INT. OZMA’S USED BOOKS ? DAY.

(Daedalus and Rocky Brava, an alluring woman whose Latin looks seem refracted through the prism of Japanese animation, peruse the shelves.)

Daedalus: The old books mixed with the new. Bookstores like this have no respect for the linear nature of time. It’s meaningless here — only the arbitrary order of the alphabet, which is itself completely arbitrary. I mean alpha, omega, A to Z. Who’s to say? And even still that system is fallible. (replaces a mislaid title) What’s DeVore doing among the Munroes? And no Howell, of course. Tell ya, bookstores can be like a hall of mirrors for us bottom list writers — you can see everyone else but never yourself.
Rocky: (sighs) Dae, remember in the seventies ?
Daedalus: I’m a child of the seventies — I was swaddled in Christo’s Running Fence. Vote for Anderson?
Rocky: Remember the drought of seventy-seven?
Daedalus: If it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down. Blah, blah. Why?
Rocky: We’ve reached the flush it down part of our relationship. It’s gotten too complicated. For what it was supposed to be.
Daedalus: What was that?
Rocky: Brief. Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe we just need some space — some time apart.
Daedalus: No more nights and weekends.
Rocky: Dae, this is a relationship, not a calling plan.

(Rocky’s phone rings. She fishes it out of her bag and answers while strolling off. Daedalus, lost in his own thoughts, bumps into an ATTRACTIVE WOMAN who is of fairy-like character and fascinatingly vague.)

Daedalus: I’m sorry, excuse me.
Anima: Daedalus Howell?
Daedalus: Er, yes?
Anima: Omigod! I read The Late Projectionist! Brilliant! I think your writing is just ? just meow.
Daedalus: Meow? No one has ever meowed at my work before. Or even read it for that matter.
Anima: I think you’re meow too.
Daedalus: What, should I pet you or something? (catches himself) I’m sorry, I’m being cavalier.
Anima: You can pet me. I like cavalier. I even like narcissistic.
Daedalus: Really? ‘Cause, you know, I have a lot of self-love to give.
Anima: Mmm, I bet.
Daedalus: (having painted himself into a corner) Okay, now I have to go.
Anima: No you don’t.
Daedalus: Yes, I do. You’re precisely the kind of woman I fall in love with — immediately — unfortunately, “immediately” wouldn’t give my girlfriend enough time to convince herself it was her idea.
(Daedalus begins to retreat.)
Anima: Wait! Don’t go. I’m ? I’m your anima. According to Carl Jung, I’m the female archetype within your unconscious.
Daedalus: (reconsidering) I thought you looked familiar.
Anima: I’m a projection of your inner, feminine side.
Daedalus: You’re definitely my good side.
(She wraps her arms around Daedalus and smooches him.)
Anima: Listen, let’s ditch your girlfriend, go home and get it on. I’m your ideal woman — not her. This is you’re ultimate fantasy.
Daedalus: You’re right. And it wouldn’t really be cheating, would it?

(Rocky returns, shocked.)

Rocky: Dae! What the fuck?
Daedalus: It’s not what it seems. She’s my anima, my inner female.
Rocky: You’re kissing her.
Daedalus: I know, but it’s alright, you see, she’s just a projection of an aspect of myself.
Anima: He’s hyper-critical of himself so he projects his longing for self-satisfaction on women, which he over over-idealizes in inverse proportion to his innermost anxieties .
Daedalus: (to Rocky) What she said.
Rocky: You may over-idealize me, but you’re kissing her.
Daedalus: I know, it looks bad, but this is really just an elaborate form of masturbation.
(Anima nods. Rocky is disgusted.)
Rocky: Then go fuck yourself!

* * *

As I was saying, the agenda of the unconscious in instigating this sort of entanglement is to oblige the man to mature by assimilating more of his unconscious personality into his real life. Sadly, your at a loss here, pal — your personality is lacking and you clearly don’t have a life.

See you at The Arch (you owe me. fucker).

As ever,
Blake Drake / Drake Blake
Assistant Managing Editor
Lumaville Daily Echo

Her Many Lovers

Blake, man —

Forgive the lapse, chap. Been waylaid conducting important research: indeed, the search for a unified field theory of women continues. At least ex post facto. And no thanks to the Lumaville Daily Echo, by the way. It’s with some relish that I admit to having spent a week on the clock, wine-soaked and wrong, accumulating data, errata and other curios wholly unworthy of the company ink. The upshot? I’m a couple hundred words short on that vampire dance club bullshit you assigned (if you run the photo three columns it should plug the hole and if you cover my ass with Der Editor, it’s my treat at The Arch).

That said, I’d lay on the usual field report, but I’m too wrecked at present. Below are the some notes and stray thoughts, some salient points and foreshadowing of the heartbreak more sure to come than tomorrow’s edition. Edit at will. And don’t show Marlowe. She thinks I’m a cad already and doesn’t approve of the project (though it could be argued she’s done a similar study herself, but with less staff. Or would that be more staff?).

I’ll spare you the woman’s name, except to say it comes in the rueful hues of both long and short vowels, starts with a gasp and ends in a sigh. Sophie Dover. Of course, it wasn’t the name she initially gave me, but given my own upgraded byline, I wasn’t going to quibble (“paging Chris F.”).

Day one: “The suicide hotline put me on hold,” came her first smoky words when our elbows met atop the bar.

She snapped her phone shut, her expression bemused. I was deep in my cups at the Bitch and Bastard (as I’ve learned the art school townies have nicknamed it due to the reproduction Madonna and Child looming above the bar). “They’re under staffed this time of year. Holidays, right? I didn’t take it personally,” she continued in a mannered and measured voice, more strings than brass, more viola than cello.

“Are you suicidal?” I hazarded.
“No, no, fuck no. My ex-husband, he volunteers there. But I think he’s suicidal, so sometimes I call for him,” she said, stepping off her bar stool.

She was a rangy, slinky woman. Her thin wrists twisted as she spoke, as if she were twirling an umbrella.

I could hear Rigs’ voice in my head braying on about picking up strange women in taverns: “There’s no quality control,” he would crow, “We’re at the age where we should be doing strictly referral business.” But seriously Blake, which one of you mugs would ever’ve been able to refer me to this unusual beauty?

Eyes the color of the fecund earth, her gaze so concentrated that anything she examined took on added gravity; hair, cornsilk dusted in nutmeg; lips, when still, bowed such that their apex formed a textbook embouchure, bringing pangs of heartache every time she shaped a word beginning with W.

Our conversation continued on her sofa adrift in a tempest of wine and smoke. Compare, contrast. Same books, same films, she had better taste in music, though my passing familiarity with Bach got me through some early hurdles. She let me lure her into some clumsy sophistry about the interrelation between sex, death and food, expressing my dismay over not being able to fit love into the equation. “Love is when you share your plate,” she said and smiled, then rose and lit a candle ensconced in a leaded glass lantern.

She claimed to have given up on literature, preferring instead to peruse picture books of the sort that ballast coffee tables between hipster kitsch and the kind of esoterica proffered by museum stores.

One such tome was an anthology of woodcuts depicting Mad King Ludwig and his longsuffering footmen Porknuckle and Schticklefish, Bavarian folk characters who consistently find themselves in impossible and embarrassing circumstances whenever doing the king’s bidding.

Her eyes agleam, she bellowed in the monarch’s voice “Porknuckle! Schticklefish! Bring me a filet of pantomime horse,” then snorted, “And mead, damn it! An ocean of mead!”

She turned the page and with a pitying smile she interpreted the block prints: “Porknuckle and Schticklefish, then look to each other and sigh. They trundle off, their shoulders slack, ever the handmaidens to their own, inevitable humiliation.” Then she kissed me.

I noticed her fingers were trembling and she ran them through her hair. I lit a cigarette, but before I got in the first drag, I found myself kissing her again. After a moment, she said off hand, “Let’s do it now.” Then down the hall, her slight hips swinging, a tune on her lips.

I took the first and final drag of the smoke I had lit and let burn.

“And bring the lantern!” she called from her bedroom.

When I awoke in her apartment late the next morning, there was placed at the end of the bed a fresh towel, a new toothbrush and a fake mustache. The first two sprang from her hospitality and a gift for hosting that had kept the corks popping all night with the rhythmic regularity of a marching band. The mustache, I thought at first, was a joke and humoring her, I put it on. It was not the lick-and-stick costume shop variety, but a well-hewn push broom of the sort seen in theaters. A gale of laughter came when she first saw me. Then she shook her head, squinted, and after a few strokes from her whetted fingers, approved.

She put me out on the landing, embraced me and off I went. This same ritual occurred every morning for a week. At night, we’d make love — my body would leave hers, and there, as I lay naked and panting, she would begin to invent my new identity: thinking aloud, mulling sideburn extensions, beards in various states of pruning, caterpillar eyebrows, all matched to a rack of suits left behind by her ex-husband who also wears a 44 long. She left it to me choose the accents and stage business that would complete my transformations. Meanwhile, my own costume hung moldering on a peg in her closet.

“Tomorrow, I have no idea who you will be to me, or who I’ll be to you. We can only carry on with these crude approximations,” she explained, but later suggested that the fact was she didn’t want to distress her ex-husband by seeming as though she were interested in any one specific man. Instead she would diffuse the situation by making the one seem like many and thus, to the prying eyes of everyone from her chatty landlady upstairs to the postman and baristas pulling coffees down the street, I was her many lovers.

It’s here, Blake, that I will end this missive, having loped the hilly streets, shopping cafe windows for my chameleon reflection. The freak behind the counter keeps banging the espresso machine’s goddamn portafilter against the sink. I’m going to fucking kill him unless I split. Be assured, Porknuckle and Schticklefish are dutifully by my side.

As for my unified field theory of women, Blake, I’m discovering that anomaly is the norm, which is to say I haven’t much of a theory. More as I sober up?

Your Pal,
DH

P.S.: Remember the girl in Malta?