Friday, February 19, 2010

Charlie Beasley and the Eraserhead syndrome

Just taking a quick moment before getting ready for a Post Office run, an art opening and a birthday dinner.
Last night was the last time jazz musician and beloved local jazz scholar/teacher Charles Beasley will ever play in public, possibly at all.
The founder and leader of Beasley's Big Band, now in his early 80s, sat in for two numbers at the Wabasha Caves last night, then hung for one set and called it a night, leaving with one of his daughters and with all our love.
I've been going to see Beasley's Big Band on and off for 15 years now. Always a delight, like spending time with family and hearing some high-energy big band at the same time.
Now, his health an issue, Charlie wants to devote the rest of life to friends and family.
Thinking about Charlie stepping down reminded me of the film Eraserhead. You know, the offbeat freshman entry of David Lynch.
Eraserhead begins and ends with a man in a chair pulling a lever and silently screaming as sparks fly. In between these scenes, the story of a young man's life is told in surreal, disturbing and humorous imagery.
What some people, including me, think this film is about is simple. A man is killing himself by electrocution, and we are seeing his life flashing before his eyes, distorting by his frying brain cells.
So what Lynch is essentially saying in this movie is, "I did everything I was supposed to in life- a career, a love, a family- and it was all worthless."
A comment on what life is worth. According to Lynch in this film, not much. Might as well give up. Like the song in the film says, "in heaven, everything is fine." This implies that here on Earth, not so much so.
Mind, I still admire the film, but with this perspective in place, I can't find as much pleasure in it.
Charlie arrived at a different decision. I hope that when it gets really hard, we all find the strength to find something worthwhile in life.
Here's Charlie talking about his life, his love of music and the band. I have some other footage of them playing that needs to be digitized for download. Anybody else still have old VHS tapes to convert?