Heather Rose Babcock...Writing to Exhale

heatherrosebabcock:

This poem originally appeared in The Night Muse Spring 2013 edition.
Where Did My Face Go?
Where did my face go?
It was just here two days ago
In the looking glass over my sink
An artificial pink landscape
Populated with a pair of eyes, one nose and one mouth
All arranged in precise order and easily accessible.
But today, everything is astray –
Cracks and holes,
Nothing left but two grey half moons
Circling a starless sky.
Where did my face go?
Perhaps I’ll find bits and pieces of it around my house:
My nose in the clothes dryer, rolled up in a forgotten sock;
Eyelashes hidden between my sofa cushions;
A mouth under my bed, stuffed with dust bunnies.
The face itself is gone,
Skipped town,
It was too big to lose.
So where did my face go?
And why didn’t I notice it leaving?
- Written by Heather Babcock, 2013

heatherrosebabcock:

This poem originally appeared in The Night Muse Spring 2013 edition.

Where Did My Face Go?

Where did my face go?

It was just here two days ago

In the looking glass over my sink

An artificial pink landscape

Populated with a pair of eyes, one nose and one mouth

All arranged in precise order and easily accessible.

But today, everything is astray –

Cracks and holes,

Nothing left but two grey half moons

Circling a starless sky.

Where did my face go?

Perhaps I’ll find bits and pieces of it around my house:

My nose in the clothes dryer, rolled up in a forgotten sock;

Eyelashes hidden between my sofa cushions;

A mouth under my bed, stuffed with dust bunnies.

The face itself is gone,

Skipped town,

It was too big to lose.

So where did my face go?

And why didn’t I notice it leaving?

- Written by Heather Babcock, 2013

Making Words published on Tell Us a Story

"People don’t let me talk about you but I do anyway.  I open my mouth and the words fall out onto the pavement, melting on contact like wet snowflakes."

My creative non-fiction piece Making Words, about my personal experience with grief and the frustration that comes from trying to express it, has been published on Tell Us a Story.  Read it here:

http://truestorystories.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/making-words/

News:
I am very excited to announce that my short story Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards will be published in Descant Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue!
My flash fiction piece In Transit has been published on the Truck literary website.  Check it out at http://halvard-johnson.blogspot.com/
A short non-fiction piece that I wrote on grieving and forgotten mourners will be published in the Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO) Spring 2014 newsletter.

News:

  • I am very excited to announce that my short story Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards will be published in Descant Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue!
  • A short non-fiction piece that I wrote on grieving and forgotten mourners will be published in the Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO) Spring 2014 newsletter.
“Progress can turn up in the strangest places.” – The New York Times (in their review of the Monkees pilot episode)
For me, it all began on a late afternoon in 1991.
My sister and I, just home from school, had settled in front of our bubble screened living room television set, when, after flipping through the usual crudely made and tacky after-school TV fare, we were suddenly presented with a Pathe colored visual treat: four very cute boys singing and dancing their way through zany, mad-cap adventures.   We were instantly transfixed.  
“Dad!” we exclaimed, as our father arrived home, “Do you know about the Monkees?!”  
“The Monkees?” our father asked incredulously, “Why would you want to watch them?  Why, they’re as old as I am!”
I turned to the television set in confusion.  No, the Monkees weren’t old – I was looking right at them and they were young (and hot).  
My mother walked into the living room to see what the fuss was about.  “Oh, the Monkees,” she sniffed derisively, “They were just copying the Beatles!”
Um, who were the Beatles?
As I grew into my love for all things Monkee, I learned that my parent’s feelings toward the “Pre-Fab Four” were not unusual – or new; in fact, the backlash towards the Monkees started even before the pilot episode of their TV show aired in 1966:  At a time when Walt Disney had personally banned all long haired men and boys from entering Disneyland, several rural NBC affiliates refused to carry the program, which featured four unrelated and long haired men happily living together.  Audiences however quickly fell in love with both the show and its charming “long haired weirdos” (as the Monkees cheekily referred to themselves): Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith.  Despite the fact that they were bona fide celebrities however, the Monkees were still faced with contempt at their very own workplace: 
“We were hated on the lot at Columbia,” Davy Jones was quoted as saying in Glenn A. Baker’s book Monkeemania – The True Story of the Monkees, “Hollywood was supposed to be decadent and bizarre but they couldn’t even handle our hair; when we walked into the studio commissary for lunch the place would empty in protest.”
They had their defenders though – Timothy Leary wrote of the group in his book The Politics of Ecstasy: 
“The four young Monkees weren’t fooled for a moment. They went along with the system but didn’t buy it. Like all the beautiful young sons of the new age-Peter Fonda and Robert Walker and young John Barrymore and young Steinbeck and the wise young Hitchcocks-the Monkees use the new energies to sing the new songs and pass on the new message. The Monkees’ television show, for example. Oh you thought that it was silly teenage entertainment? Don’t be fooled. While it lasted, it was a classic Sci-Fi put on. An early-Christian electronic satire. A mystic magic show. A jolly Buddha laugh at hypocrisy.”
As the series went on, the show became even more subversive.  In the episode Monkee Mayor, the guys visit City Hall in an attempt to come to the aid of their elderly neighbours, who are facing eviction due to the government’s plan to put up a parking lot.  
“Look,” Mike says to the mayor, “there are a lot of innocent people and you’re just throwing them out of their homes”.  
“Why, throwing people out of their homes is the American way!” the mayor replies jubilantly.  
And then there was the music.  Shiny pop hits by the likes of Boyce & Hart, Carole King and Neil Diamond ensured that the Monkees’ first two albums outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  However Peter, Mike, Davy and Micky, all talented musicians in their own right, were unhappy with their lack of creative input and control.  When it was revealed that the first two albums featured studio musicians, the media (ignoring the fact that many respected artists from the Beach Boys to the Byrds used session musicians) went well, bananas.  
Micky responded to the outcry, stating to the British Press in 1967:
“I don’t know why everybody’s screaming – do Sinatra, Sonny & Cher or the Beatles play all the instruments we hear on their records?  We’re fed up with the rumours that we can’t play at all – so we’ve decided to make the time to play everything.”
It wouldn’t be quite so easy though.  First the Monkees had to fight a hard battle to release themselves from the iron (or solid gold) fist that held them in a tight grip, namely the very powerful music supervisor Don Kirshner.   By sticking together, the Monkees eventually won the right to creative autonomy.  As they proudly declared on the sleeve of their third album Headquarters:
“We aren’t the only musicians on this album, but the occasional extra bass or horn player played under our direction, so that this is all ours.
Each one of us has some musical thing, from Manchester to Texas, from the East Coast to the West, and when four people just go with their thing, what comes out is a whole. Don’t ask “a whole what?”, just listen. If only the smallest part of how much fun it was to make this record gets heard, it was all worthwhile.”
The Monkees also used their new freedom and their existing fame to give mainstream exposure to artists who were either up and coming or who were on the fringe: Mike invited Frank Zappa to appear on the Monkees episode The Monkees Blow Their Minds - in the segment, Mike dresses as Frank and Frank dresses as Mike and the two “play” (destroy) a car to the Zappa song “Mother People”; in another episode Charlie Smalls explains to Davy Jones that “everybody’s got soul!” while the two jam out to a song that they were writing together; Micky had Tim Buckley perform “Song to the Siren” in the episode The Frodis Caper.  Peter Tork, for his part, wanted to bring his friend Janis Joplin on the show but unfortunately this never materialized.   At Micky’s invitation, Jimi Hendrix, who had achieved some success in the UK but who had yet to break out in America, joined the Monkees as an opening act for their second American tour.  
Contrary to the opinions of many music history revisionists (oh hello, Jann Wenner), the list of artists of all stripes who either got their start from, or were somehow connected to, the Monkees is as impressive as it is long: the aforementioned Frank Zappa, Charlie Smalls, Tim Buckley and Jimi Hendrix along with Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Jack Nicholson, Diane Hildebrand, Chip Douglas and many more.  In fact it is more difficult to list 60’s icons that weren’t somehow associated with the Monkees than the other way around. 
And while songs like “Daydream Believer” and “Stepping Stone” stand as polished pop hits, the songs that the Monkees wrote themselves are much more subversive and interesting: Micky’s psychedelic freak out “Randy Scouse Git”; Peter’s hippie love in “For Pete’s Sake”; Mike’s “Listen to the Band” (just one of his many impressive B sides); and Micky imploring his fans to ask their parents what happened to the Native American in “Mommy and Daddy” (a song which may be the Monkees’ most subversive of all).    
Today, the Monkees may finally be earning some respect.  In 2013, Matt Weiner used the theme song from the Monkees’ motion picture Head (“Porpoise Song”) in an episode of his critically acclaimed series Mad Men.  The song was used to foreshadow Dick Whitman’s emancipation from the mask of Don Draper, just as Head was Mike, Peter, Micky and Davy’s emancipation from the mask of the Monkees.  
While their battle, and subsequent win, for creative freedom serves as an inspiration to artists, the Monkees are, even more importantly, a lesson in working class survival: 
Play along with the corporate monster if you must, but only let him *think* that he has you under his thumb. 

“Progress can turn up in the strangest places.” – The New York Times (in their review of the Monkees pilot episode)

For me, it all began on a late afternoon in 1991.

My sister and I, just home from school, had settled in front of our bubble screened living room television set, when, after flipping through the usual crudely made and tacky after-school TV fare, we were suddenly presented with a Pathe colored visual treat: four very cute boys singing and dancing their way through zany, mad-cap adventures.   We were instantly transfixed. 

“Dad!” we exclaimed, as our father arrived home, “Do you know about the Monkees?!” 

“The Monkees?” our father asked incredulously, “Why would you want to watch them?  Why, they’re as old as I am!”

I turned to the television set in confusion.  No, the Monkees weren’t old – I was looking right at them and they were young (and hot). 

My mother walked into the living room to see what the fuss was about.  “Oh, the Monkees,” she sniffed derisively, “They were just copying the Beatles!”

Um, who were the Beatles?

As I grew into my love for all things Monkee, I learned that my parent’s feelings toward the “Pre-Fab Four” were not unusual – or new; in fact, the backlash towards the Monkees started even before the pilot episode of their TV show aired in 1966:  At a time when Walt Disney had personally banned all long haired men and boys from entering Disneyland, several rural NBC affiliates refused to carry the program, which featured four unrelated and long haired men happily living together.  Audiences however quickly fell in love with both the show and its charming “long haired weirdos” (as the Monkees cheekily referred to themselves): Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith.  Despite the fact that they were bona fide celebrities however, the Monkees were still faced with contempt at their very own workplace:

“We were hated on the lot at Columbia,” Davy Jones was quoted as saying in Glenn A. Baker’s book Monkeemania – The True Story of the Monkees, “Hollywood was supposed to be decadent and bizarre but they couldn’t even handle our hair; when we walked into the studio commissary for lunch the place would empty in protest.”

They had their defenders though – Timothy Leary wrote of the group in his book The Politics of Ecstasy:

“The four young Monkees weren’t fooled for a moment. They went along with the system but didn’t buy it. Like all the beautiful young sons of the new age-Peter Fonda and Robert Walker and young John Barrymore and young Steinbeck and the wise young Hitchcocks-the Monkees use the new energies to sing the new songs and pass on the new message. The Monkees’ television show, for example. Oh you thought that it was silly teenage entertainment? Don’t be fooled. While it lasted, it was a classic Sci-Fi put on. An early-Christian electronic satire. A mystic magic show. A jolly Buddha laugh at hypocrisy.”

As the series went on, the show became even more subversive.  In the episode Monkee Mayor, the guys visit City Hall in an attempt to come to the aid of their elderly neighbours, who are facing eviction due to the government’s plan to put up a parking lot. 

“Look,” Mike says to the mayor, “there are a lot of innocent people and you’re just throwing them out of their homes”. 

“Why, throwing people out of their homes is the American way!” the mayor replies jubilantly. 

And then there was the music.  Shiny pop hits by the likes of Boyce & Hart, Carole King and Neil Diamond ensured that the Monkees’ first two albums outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  However Peter, Mike, Davy and Micky, all talented musicians in their own right, were unhappy with their lack of creative input and control.  When it was revealed that the first two albums featured studio musicians, the media (ignoring the fact that many respected artists from the Beach Boys to the Byrds used session musicians) went well, bananas. 

Micky responded to the outcry, stating to the British Press in 1967:

“I don’t know why everybody’s screaming – do Sinatra, Sonny & Cher or the Beatles play all the instruments we hear on their records?  We’re fed up with the rumours that we can’t play at all – so we’ve decided to make the time to play everything.”

It wouldn’t be quite so easy though.  First the Monkees had to fight a hard battle to release themselves from the iron (or solid gold) fist that held them in a tight grip, namely the very powerful music supervisor Don Kirshner.   By sticking together, the Monkees eventually won the right to creative autonomy.  As they proudly declared on the sleeve of their third album Headquarters:

We aren’t the only musicians on this album, but the occasional extra bass or horn player played under our direction, so that this is all ours.

Each one of us has some musical thing, from Manchester to Texas, from the East Coast to the West, and when four people just go with their thing, what comes out is a whole. Don’t ask “a whole what?”, just listen. If only the smallest part of how much fun it was to make this record gets heard, it was all worthwhile.”

The Monkees also used their new freedom and their existing fame to give mainstream exposure to artists who were either up and coming or who were on the fringe: Mike invited Frank Zappa to appear on the Monkees episode The Monkees Blow Their Minds - in the segment, Mike dresses as Frank and Frank dresses as Mike and the two “play” (destroy) a car to the Zappa song “Mother People”; in another episode Charlie Smalls explains to Davy Jones that “everybody’s got soul!” while the two jam out to a song that they were writing together; Micky had Tim Buckley perform “Song to the Siren” in the episode The Frodis Caper.  Peter Tork, for his part, wanted to bring his friend Janis Joplin on the show but unfortunately this never materialized.   At Micky’s invitation, Jimi Hendrix, who had achieved some success in the UK but who had yet to break out in America, joined the Monkees as an opening act for their second American tour. 

Contrary to the opinions of many music history revisionists (oh hello, Jann Wenner), the list of artists of all stripes who either got their start from, or were somehow connected to, the Monkees is as impressive as it is long: the aforementioned Frank Zappa, Charlie Smalls, Tim Buckley and Jimi Hendrix along with Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Jack Nicholson, Diane Hildebrand, Chip Douglas and many more.  In fact it is more difficult to list 60’s icons that weren’t somehow associated with the Monkees than the other way around.

And while songs like “Daydream Believer” and “Stepping Stone” stand as polished pop hits, the songs that the Monkees wrote themselves are much more subversive and interesting: Micky’s psychedelic freak out “Randy Scouse Git”; Peter’s hippie love in “For Pete’s Sake”; Mike’s “Listen to the Band” (just one of his many impressive B sides); and Micky imploring his fans to ask their parents what happened to the Native American in “Mommy and Daddy” (a song which may be the Monkees’ most subversive of all).    

Today, the Monkees may finally be earning some respect.  In 2013, Matt Weiner used the theme song from the Monkees’ motion picture Head (“Porpoise Song”) in an episode of his critically acclaimed series Mad Men.  The song was used to foreshadow Dick Whitman’s emancipation from the mask of Don Draper, just as Head was Mike, Peter, Micky and Davy’s emancipation from the mask of the Monkees. 

While their battle, and subsequent win, for creative freedom serves as an inspiration to artists, the Monkees are, even more importantly, a lesson in working class survival:

Play along with the corporate monster if you must, but only let him *think* that he has you under his thumb. 

Flash fiction posted on Truck

My flash fiction piece In Transit has been published on the literary web magazine Truck.   Check it out at http://halvard-johnson.blogspot.com/2014/02/heather-rose-babcock.html

(Photo courtesy of John Oughton - thank you John!)
Check out TO Poet’s review of the February Cabaret Noir (including my set) here:
http://topoet.ca/2014/02/11/hot-february-noir-night/

(Photo courtesy of John Oughton - thank you John!)

Check out TO Poet’s review of the February Cabaret Noir (including my set) here:

http://topoet.ca/2014/02/11/hot-february-noir-night/

Last night I was one of the features at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir.  What a wonderful evening!  Thank you to everyone who came out.  (Photo courtesy of Lizzie Violet)

Last night I was one of the features at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir.  What a wonderful evening!  Thank you to everyone who came out.  (Photo courtesy of Lizzie Violet)

Excerpt from my short story Half Off (published in issue 27 of Front&Centre Magazine)

Excerpt from Half Off (published in issue 27 of Front&Centre Magazine):

The glass soda pop bottles.

Mr. Proctor was using words like restructuring, downsizing and economy, but Wilbur could only think of the glass soda pop bottles hidden underneath Jason’s desk.

            Due to the financial crisis, we have to make difficult decisions such as this one in order to stay afloat, Mr. Proctor was saying.   The decision was solely based on your level of employment seniority, Wilbur.  It isn’t personal. 

In actuality, Pete had been hired five months after Wilbur; however it did not cross Wilbur’s mind to point out the fallacy.  During the three month probationary period of a new hire, the management team at Imvaughan Pharmaceuticals worked diligently, combining a blend of e-newsletter propaganda, shame inducing all-staff meetings and general every day acts of intimidation in order to effectively disable the employee’s natural instinct to assert the obvious. 

Even now, during his employment termination, Wilbur could feel his head bobbing back and forth in agreement.   His face, contorted like a finger poked ball of clay, struggled to convey a look of understanding and selflessness.  

Mr. Proctor’s own face had shut down, as though he was disgusted by Wilbur’s acquiescence.   He turned his ergonomically correct black leather chair sideways and passed the severance check across the desk towards Wilbur in exchange for the latter’s signature declaring that he would not sue, nor talk ill of, Imvaughan Pharmaceuticals. 

Mr. Proctor got up from his chair and motioned for Wilbur to do the same. 

            Can I get my things?  Wilbur asked him.

He shook his head no.  

            We’ll have Maria mail them to you. 

Mr. Proctor wasn’t holding Wilbur’s elbow as he escorted him to the elevator, and yet it felt to Wilbur as though he was. 

At the front desk, Mr. Proctor had Wilbur hand over his keys and swipe card to Maria, Imvaughan’s receptionist.   Maria had always been friendly towards Wilbur; the two had even shared lunch together on a few occasions, however today she simply nodded at Wilbur’s smile, averting her eyes as though employee layoffs were contagious and could be spread through direct eye contact.   Wilbur understood her fear – as the lowest paid employee at Imvaughan, Maria had the most to lose. 

Besides, in the past few months Wilbur had grown used to feeling like an abomination. 

The alienation had started shortly after he had filled out the medical reimbursement form for his anti-retroviral drug prescription.   As an underling in technical support, all matters related to Wilbur’s health care benefits had to first go through Jason, the department’s supervisor.   Jason was the stereotypical tech guy: a man-boy who masturbated to cartoon anime girls and who had an unfortunate aversion to deodorant.   Wilbur had felt certain that he wouldn’t know what the medication was for. 

A month later though, Wilbur was searching for a spare cable and instead found the stash of urine filled glass soda pop bottles calmly hidden under Jason’s desk.  

It was that moment in which it had dawned on Wilbur that Jason had stopped using the tech office washroom.   It was that moment in which Wilbur had realized, with a deliquesce fear, that his secret was out. 

 -
Written by Heather Babcock 2011

To read the full story, order Front&Center magazine issue 27 by going here: http://blackbilepress.com/Black_Bile_Press/F%26C_Archive.html