Empathy for the Evil

by Mecca Normal

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1.
Art Was the Great Leveler They met at a party given by mutual friends – people named Fortune. She always liked that part of the story. They were both painters who loved nothing more than to pack up their watercolor gear and hike into the local mountains to paint landscapes. She was young and captivated by his charm and impressed with his brash, unschooled talent. Which side of town they were from wasn’t a big enough issue to keep them apart. To keep them apart. Art was the great leveler and an emotional connection formed. Art was the great leveler long before it was common to assess personalities, long before people were talking about other people’s personalities in terms of why such attractions developed. It would be rationalized based on their mutual interest in art, art and hiking. Art was the great leveler. Art was the great leveler. There was something else there. A dance. A dance, of sorts. A dance. They were doing a dance – one in which it was difficult to tell just by looking who was leading and who was following. Art was the great leveler. Art was the great leveler. They regularly heaved out an arsenal of verbal weaponry to defend and protect the mysteries of their deficiencies from possible detection. Impossible detection was their goal. Impossible detection was their goal. Impossible detection was their goal. Art was the great leveler. Art was the great leveler. They hid as much as they exposed. They hid as much as they exposed.
2.
What’s Your Name? When you’ve taken your hands away from your eyes from your face from your mouth – what do you see? What do you say? What is your name now? What is your name now that you can see, that you can speak, not looking, not at me, now that you can see? What is your name now that you can speak? When you’ve taken your hands away from your eyes, from your face, from your heart – what do you feel? What do you say now that you feel? What is your name? What is your name? Now that you see? Now that you feel? Now that you speak? What do you say? What do you say? What is your name?
3.
Wasn’t Said Look ahead to the time when you’ve forgotten all that was said when you look behind and it doesn’t matter anymore Look ahead — it’s hard to want to go there now that’s where you’re heading that’s what you’re waiting for it’s what you’re waiting for that time, when you’re looking behind you and none of this will matter all of this confusion will be so far in the past it won’t matter in the now In the now that’s still ahead Looking ahead to when none of this is gonna matter how it went and what was said and what wasn’t said To make this void of no communication no communication no communication now there’s nothing now There’s nothing now but to look ahead when none of this will matter what was and wasn’t said It wasn’t said
4.
Between Livermore and Tracy He’s got the white coat, no stethoscope Cause the movement to die out Several times over Walking the walls A cardiologist, white coat, no stethoscope Between Livermore and Tracy On rotation Uneventful, one uneventful night Just one uneventful night In the hall, he wouldn’t know left from right He’s got the white coat, no stethoscope Between Livermore and Tracy In rotation Just one, just one uneventful night Just one night of sleep Between Livermore and Tracy Can you hear delirium with that machine or is it just me? Between delirium and quick clarity Delirium
5.
Normal 04:48
Normal Quirky was how she described them. Her brother had other choice words for them. Freak show was popular. He would have preferred that his parents possessed the will to fit in, to be normal. That was not the case. In nearly all ways, Arnie and Yvette demonstrated their abhorrence for all things normal, including the word. Normal. Yvette knew how to dress, but when she deviated from his perception of what a mother should be like, he pitched fits and stayed in his room. Yvette wore Arnie’s old button-down shirts as painting smocks and she sewed rudimentary trousers with elastic waist out of boldly printed fabric other mothers might consider using for curtains in their rumpus rooms. Yvette had been known to nip to the grocery store in her painting clothes, but he wouldn’t be seen in public with her if she was going to wear the curtain pants. The girl didn’t understand her brother’s urge to comply with the universal code of normal, but she surely felt the impact of his reaction to divergences from it. He wanted to be part of a normal family that gathered in front of a TV set to have dinner off trays laden with grilled cheese sandwiches on Wonder Bread with tall glasses of Tang. At their house it might be steamed clams dipped in individual dishes of melted butter with a Caesar salad made from a recipe out of Life magazine. Her brother was grossed out by the clams, repulsed by the anchovies and annoyed that he was being denied whatever he suspected was normal. Normal. He wanted to be. Normal.
6.
One Man’s Anger This one man’s anger this one man’s rage this one man’s fear – it comes from pain oh ohhhhhh – it comes from pain No matter what look is on his face what words he choose to say this one man’s anger comes from pain it can fool you – you can be tricked he will tell you otherwise – otherwise But as he’s walking down the way you will know his anger comes from pain comes from pain This one man – is not a bad man, no he’s not a bad man in any way but this one man’s anger and rage Coming out again is from fear of pain And in the hollows of the shallows of the dark setting in In a quiet time A look on his face – just a flicker like a flame will allow you to see his fear is his pain he fears the fear he fears the fear of pain This one man’s pain and his angry ways the fire versus the flame the fire and the flame
7.
Naked & Ticklish The last two guys I started something with had Rottweilers. I’m not a Rottweiler fancier at all Guy One’s dog was young, dumb it jumped up, got its nose between your legs and ate the sleeves of Guy One’s wool sweaters. Guy One wanted to control the way the dog behaved. Guy One wanted to control everyone. He was starting a new religion – a new religion without a god. I guess Guy One wanted to be the number one guy. There was no door on the bedroom and the dog and his jumping ways and his cold wet nose were distracting during sex. Guy One got up and took the door off the bathroom and hung it on the bedroom hinges. But the bathroom door was simply smaller and it did not close. Guy One got a big chunk of coral from his collection to hold the door closed. Guy One was a big guy — over six feet tall – and he picked a big piece of coral. And for myself when I went to the bathroom I bent naked, naked and ticklish lifting and carrying the large chunk of coral across the room. With the door now freely open and Guy One’s dog with the cold wet nose – and me being naked, naked and ticklish – looking for where to set the coral down. Guy Two’s Rottweiler was bigger and older. Guy Two threw chunks of prime rib across the room. Guy Two’s dog didn’t eat the sleeves of sweaters yet it did want to come into the room during sex but there was a door and it closed without anything from the bottom of the sea holding it — holding it closed. So this was an improvement until it came time to settle in for the first night turns out the dog sleeps on the bed and I am in the dog’s spot and the dog would like his spot back. He keeps standing up and turning around and around. The door is freely open until the door is closed. Holding it closed — naked and ticklish — naked naked and ticklish.
8.
Maisy’s Death In the summer of 1936, Maisy died and without missing a beat, Nestor turned and began hurling his high-pitched railings at Odele, like javelin tips landing sideways in the tender field of her heart. Odele was fourteen when she took over the chores – the watering, weeding, the picking, trimming and slicing of green beans, making meals, just like before. It fell to her to tend the garden, carefully latching bean tendrils to the brittle netting that stayed out all year, weathered to grey. The beans were blind – reaching out into the vastness of her tiny universe – in the opposite direction, until Odele unfurled the coil of filigree and let it touch the net. The beans hung like slender green trout, green eggs plump in their green bellies. So much green – too much – and so much for the natural order her father talked about; the hopelessness of beans left to fend for themselves, on their own. After her mother’s death, realizing that as a female she was interchangeable and therefore he’d be trying to fill her up and kill her too, Odele developed a penchant for very long baths with bubbles. Her father wouldn’t have dared to yell at her while she was naked, but she had her blanket of bubbles just in case. The tub was behind the woodshed where her two brothers’ bottoms had been paddled until they were old enough to endure a leather strap across the open palms of their pre-pubescent hands. The strap was for the boys and the soap was for Odele, the only girl, and it was appropriate. The boys were always in some kind of trouble that involved their quick fingers and plump hands – taking money, raiding fruit trees or fighting on the dusty shoulder of the road home from school. The strap across the hands was fitting for the boys and likewise, it was Odele’s mouth that got her into trouble – sassing back to her father, expressing her opinions unasked. The soap, it was for Odele.
9.
Odele's Bath 07:49
Odele’s Bath Their cast iron clawfoot tub was raised up on bricks to make room for the fire beneath it. After supper, the bath regime began with Odele’s father climbing in first to soak for the better part of an hour, after which, when her mother was alive, she’d be next, but she tended to make it quick. After her – the boys, one at a time. Finally it was Odele’s turn. Frequently she had to chop more kindling to stoke the fire and wait until the water warmed up again. She pulled the sash of her pink chenille bathrobe tighter and swung the axe more accurately than either of her brothers, splitting wood like she was slicing bread. Truly alone, she sat on her thinking rock, poking embers, vowing that one day she’d take baths twice as long as her father’s and soak in bubbles until the cows came home. When she had a child she’d spoil it. It could eat cake all day long for all she cared. Odele shifted the wood with a twisted iron rod so familiar in her right hand that it was invisible to her. All week it hung beside the leather strap in the shed, next to the soap, until bath night when, individually they held it like a mediaeval weapon, jabbing it into the heart of the fire as heat flushed their faces and alone, they allowed themselves to imagine episodes of liberation – and even retribution – as they prepared to bathe their scrawny hillbilly bodies in murky water beside an unnamed stone on which sat the soap. Unnamed by everyone except Odele. It was her thinking rock, although she’d never said it out loud to anyone except herself. It was here that the term 'run through with an awl' played over and over in her head and she blamed the rock for making her think it. This was what happened when she sat on the thinking rock. It made her think awful things about her father. She blamed the rock for putting things into her head and she thought it best to say them, to let them out, rather than save them, in her head, fearing that she might blurt out 'run through with an awl' instead of please pass the potatoes at dinner. Odele kept her small bottle of bubble bath in the pocket of her chenille robe. As she dribbled it across the dirty water she repeated her mantra, 'run through with an awl'. Naked, one foot on her thinking rock, she used the soot-blackened poker to agitate the water, to make bubbles, and she laughed at how she must look, the real Odele, and she added to her chant – if all eyes were on me now. The saving grace of her otherwise woefully lacking existence was that her father was not a man of god. Unlike her schoolmates traipsing off to church, Sundays were her own. Not to run through fields of buttercups, but to catch up on chores. Odele sometimes found herself glancing skyward while she squeezed dirty water out of a mop, thanking god that her father was not religious, thus cracking herself up enough that she twigged onto how humour worked – it split apart the dark tendrils tightening in her gut and around her heart, soothing her like a slug of moonshine, but laughter didn’t burn and make her cough. Odele tried to find external sources to make herself laugh, to reduce the internal grumbling in what she knew was not her soul – nor was she hungry, unless what she felt could be called a hunger to express herself. If she laughed or cried her father got angry. He was a man who was staunchly confused about most things, but in his role as head of the household, he felt compelled to have strong opinions. Anger was the only emotion he let his family see. He pontificated wildly, combining nuances of opposing stances, putting on a show. All bluster. Odele tried to follow his logic, but when she was nine she heard the word irrational uttered by her mother while they were going through the remnant bin at Hester’s Dry Good Store. By the time she left the farm at sixteen Odele had eaten enough green beans to last her a lifetime. Emancipation from what she regarded as emotional tyranny came by way of the SMT Eastern bus line and her overwhelming determination to never again eat anything green.

credits

released September 16, 2014

Jean Smith: vocals (with some piano, guitar and sax), David Lester on guitar, KRAMER on bass, mellotron and organ.

Produced by KRAMER. Mixed and mastered by KRAMER at Noise Miami. Recorded by Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room, Miami Beach in November of 2012.

Album art by Jean Smith.

PRESS KIT
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meccanormal2014.wordpress.com/press-kit/

BONUS TRACK
"Malachi" meccanormal2014.wordpress.com/bonus-track

CONTACT:
meccanormal@hotmail.com

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Mecca Normal Vancouver, British Columbia

“Empathy for the Evil” (2014, M'lady's Records)

Press Kit meccanormal2014.wordpress.com/press-kit

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