Heroes, Villains

Cocaine Sessions

Brian and Dennis Wilson. ‘The Cocaine Sessions’ Bootleg, c. 1981.

What do you do when you procrastinate? I’ve got this one last paper, see? Easiest thing in the world, see? Three pages to dash off in English for my least important class, see? But I can’t seem to finish it. I usually ascribe procrastination to ‘fear of mediocrity’ or whatever, but this feels more like an acute bout of can’t-be-arsed.

If you weren’t aware, there’s been trouble down by the old Sorbonne this semester. Professors went on strike, which led the (other) students to strike in support of the professors, and, finally, the custodial staff went on strike because.. well, I’m not sure, but they did fashion a hideous mannequin with a wig and lay it in the foyer of the Maison de Recherche.

Now they’ve patched things up, and after four months without class, I get an email from a professor informing me that I’ll need to turn in a paper. About what? I realize that the whole concept of exchanging money for grades and diplomas is one of those things that gets creepier the more you think about it (something that Winnie Verloc would say, ‘doesn’t stand much looking into’) but this is troubling: isn’t the work your professors use to evaluate you meant to reflect your response to their instruction? If there’s no instruction, how can there be a grade? This paper is.. meaningless! I feel like one of those Lovecraft protagonists staring into some maddening cosmic gulf. It’s preferable to repeating the semester, but still..

This weekend, to avoid writing this paper devoid of any academic or intellectual worth, I wrapped up my second viewing of The Wire (all five seasons—I’ll try to post thoughts regarding the series in the next week). Last night, I organized all the papers in my desk and then fell down a wicked Wikipedia rabbit hole: cryptozoology. (Did you know that there’s some hairy, miniature creature of legend in the remote forests of Sumatra that might actually exist? At least, that’s what I concluded from the article; it might just be the work of X-Files fans devoted to keeping dubious articles like that ‘open’.)

Tonight, to dull the pain, I made an alternative cover for Brian and Dennis Wilson’s so-called ‘Cocaine Sessions’ (c. 1981) bootleg. (The name seems a little misleading and sensational; I think the Wilsons’ cocaine use peaked years before. These are also called the ‘Hamburger Sessions’.) I just took two pictures where they looked drugged out and did some P-shopping. It kind of looks like a joint album by Brian Cocaine and Dennis Sessions, but only the beardos seek this stuff out, anyway, so it shouldn’t cause too much confusion.

I wish I could provide more context for the sessions. Unfortunately, they’re not as cool as they sound. The alleged pièce de résistance, ‘Oh Lord’, isn’t all that irresistible. It likely would have been had Dennis been able to give it a proper recording. (Apparently, Brian did try to adapt it for the Beach Boys’ 1985 album, but that version is still safe in the vaults.) The other tracks are roughshod piano jams and yet another ‘Heroes and Villains’ snippet. The sound is very distant with an ever-present hiss.

But any Dennis Wilson curio is a treasure. The man was a genius. (He was also in pretty much the best movie ever: Monte Hellman’s 1971 Two-Lane Blacktop with Warren Oates and James Taylor, if you haven’t seen it.) I’d gladly rock out to ‘Dennis Wilson’s Complete Mindless Humming Under His Breath: The Manson Years,’ and a few of these cuts are little more than that. They’re not going subvert your perception of how music should sound, the way last year’s definitive reissue of Pacific Ocean Blue did, with its whole second disc of demos from Wilson’s unfinished second solo album—he drowned in 1983—but they’ll get you through a ‘white night’.

The whole Cocaine Sessions are easy to find through the usual channels. (I’d share it, but WordPress gave me a slap on the wrist recently and I lost a good post. Now I only work piecemeal.) Here’s a taste…

Download: Dennis Wilson, ‘Oh Lord’

It’s seven in the morning now and I need to finish this notorious (hint, hint) paper. It feels like an act of nihilism. I’ll just do my best Anthony Lane impersonation.

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~ by ohkrapp on June 17, 2009.

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