I have a recollection, probably faulty, of some TV character, dressed as a beatnik, on a mid seventies sitcom reciting a beat poem. And the poem went something like, “little puppy with your nose pressed up against the pet store window, there is no puppy food for you today ... only death.” I found it hysterical.
Here’s the deal. As it was happening -- nothing happened, and when it happened it wasn’t happening anymore – I have to knock out this note before the day wiggles away. Lately, living has been bent from the front, so next go round I’m pinning this date on my wall, whip it around my prehensile wits; flip the switch that says stick. So done, so be it, now shout yeah! All the what’s and who’s and why’s jump out from everywhere and serenade the guru of gone! Happy Birthday! Belated or not, to the original gasser, the original hipster saint, the most far-out cat that ever stomped on this Sweet Green Sphere, who’s wailin', groovy hipsemantic orations tramped through the wiggage in our graciously affluent playground: the wordland we call the English language! The man, the years, the most flip embodiment of a life lived cool … none other than His Majesty, His Hipness, Lord Buckley! Birthday 102 …and though he found “the theme of the beam of the invisible edge” back in ‘60, they’re still digging his scrabble and his mad heart, looting strange truths from the head, all truths, even the feral truths, scribbling, splattering jive laid down to his bop ... as his Royal Flipness’ once said - “they supersede and carry on beyond the parallel of your practiced credulity.”
Though Lord Buckley is known for his "hip-semantic" interpretation of history, literature, and culture, sporting a waxed mustache, dressed to the nines and expounding on life in the manner befit of British aristocracy, intoned by way of Jazz riffs versed by hemp-headed hepcats, Lord Buckley was actually born in a coal-mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on an Indian reservation in Tuolumne, California, in 1906. Richard Myrle Buckley worked as a lumberjack as a kid and entered the world of showbiz by way of the medicine, carnival, and tent show circuit, eventually gigging in the speakeasies of Chicago during the 1920s, emceeing dance marathons and vaudeville shows, even playing on Broadway during the Depression. By the 1940’s he was working steadily in Jazz clubs, befriending many of the greatest musicians of the era. During the Second World War Buckley toured with the USO Shows and became close friends with, of all people, Ed Sullivan. By the 1950’s the unclassifiable Lord Buckley was cast as a comedian, his humor combined his incredible detailed knowledge of the language and culture; his true hepcat persona became one part stump preacher, one part raconteur, another part grifter and huckster, producing one of the strangest comedic personas ever invented.
March 15th is the Ides of March, best known as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, retold most famously by William Shakespeare's in Julius Caesar. But instead of printing out the Bard’s “Marc Antony's Funeral Oration” (Act 3, Scene 2, lines 74-108), I thought I’d take the high low road and present to you the version, updated and serrated, by the truest hipster saint, double-frantic sphere-gasser, the maddest bon vivant extraordinaire, joyous jazz monologist, and the most exquisite hepcat that ever breathed fire on this fair square planet, His Majesty … Lord Buckley!
"Hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin' daddies, knock me your lobes.
I came to lay Caesar out, not to hip you to him.
The bad jazz that a cat blows, wails long after he's cut out.
The groovy is often stashed with their frames,
So don't put Caesar down.
The swinging Brutus hath laid a story on you
That Caesar was hungry for power
If it were so, it was a sad drag,
And sadly hath the Caesar cat answered it.
Here with a pass from Brutus and the other brass,
For Brutus is a worthy stud, Yea, so are they all worthy studs,
Though their stallions never sleep.
I came to wail at Ceasar's wake.
He was my buddy, and he leveled with me.
Yet Brutus digs that he has eyes for power, and Brutus is a solid cat.
It is true he hath returned with many freaks in chains
And brought them home to Rome.
Yea, the looty was booty and hipped the treasury well.
Dost thou dig that this was Caesar's groove for the putsch?
When the cats with the empty kicks hath copped out,
Yea, Caesar hath copped out, too, and cried up a storm.
To be a world grabber a stiffer riff must be blown.
Without bread a stud can't even rule an anthill.
Yet Brutus was swinging for the moon. And, yea, Brutus is a worthy stud.
And all you cats were gassed on the Lupercal
When he came on like a king freak.
Three times I lay the wig on him, and thrice did he put it down.
Was this the move of a greedy hipster?
Yet, Brutus said he dug the lick, and, yes, a hipper cat has never blown.
Some claim that Brutus' story was a gag.
But I dug the story was solid.
I came here to blow. Now, stay cool while I blow.
You all dug him once because you were hipped that he was solid
How can you now come on so square now that he's tapped out of this world.
City Hall is flipped and swung to a drunken zoo
And all of you cats are goofed to wig city.
Dig me hard. My ticker is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And, yea, I must stay cool til it flippeth back to me."