Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Deak Tetralogy

The Deak novels are the comical autobiography of an all time great rock superstar and musical legend.  Deak tells his life story by explaining his lyrics and describing the strange people and ridiculous events that shaped his life and inspired his songs.  All four novels are complete and a fifth is in the works.

Born Deacon Downes in Reserve, Louisiana in 1960, Deak is a quixotic character who was inspired by the films This Is Spinal Tap and Bad News Tour.  He is a musical prodigy who achieves early and life long stardom at the age of five fronting his first band, Deak and the Ducks.

The first novel, The Deak, introduces the hero and details his life in New Orleans until age 21, and describes his birth, his early music and Bourbon Street shows, his years as a child and teen star and the tragic ending of his first marriage.  The table of contents and first five chapters follow below.

The second novel, The Second Book Of Deak, spans the years 1982-1985, with Deak relocating to a Laurel Canyon mansion to become part of the Los Angeles music scene.  The link leads to a very detailed synopsis and sample chapters.  The arc of the second novel is Deak’s accidental, unwanted and utterly absurd feud with Michael Jackson that stretches on for several years.  The novel (and Deak’s feud with MJ) concludes on July 13, 1985 at the Wembley Stadium site of the international Live Aid benefit concert. 

Because Deak's peers are rock music royalty, some story lines involve real musicians and events, like the aforementioned Michael Jackson and the Live Aid Concert.  Also appearing in no particular order are Paul and Linda McCartney, Freddie Mercury, James Brown, Prince, Bob Geldof, Elvis, Lionel Richie, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Brian Wilson, Elton John, Flea and Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smiths, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and more.

The third novel, Deak the Third, picks up in London with Deak at the Live Aid concert.   Follow the link to read a synopsis and sample chapters or scroll past the table of contents to read the opening of the first novel.

The Deak

Table of Contents


1)   In the Beginning, There Was the Deak
2)   First Kiss, First Song
3)   Rolling Into New Orleans
4)   Bourbon Street
5)   Deak and the Ducks
6)   Eulogy for Yulelog
7)   My Guitars
8)   Persephone
9)   Marvin the Midget
10)  Quack, Quack, Goose
11)  Storming the Charts and the Country
12)  My Vegas Debut
13)  In Cognito
14)  The First Second Coming of the Deak
15)  One Man Band
16)  I Parade Around the Earth
17)  World Dance Party
18)  Ricky Venunziano
19)  Deak and the NPS Express
20)  My Blue Period
21)  Deak in the Country
22)  Razzmatazz
23)  The Rock of Deak
24)  The Orchestral Deak
25)  Cornucopia
26)  UFO
27)  I Am God
28)  Elvis
29)  Jesus
30)  Isabella
31)  The True Second Coming of the Deak
32)  With Podi in Madrid
33)  The Arguers
34)  My Baby
35)  The Birth of Isaac
36)  Upon This Rock
37)  Deak and the Invaders
38)  Ancient Melodies
39)  Trouble at Home and on the Road
40)  The Kookie Kola Fiasco
41)  The Belle Blossoms
42)  The Worst Night of my Life


Throughout my twenty six blessed years of life literally hundreds of people have approached me with the idea of collaborating on my biography.  I am always flattered they think highly enough of the life I’ve lived to want to document and share it with my fans and the rest of the world, but I’ve always chosen to decline for a variety of reasons.  The first is that although my musical career has been long, successful and illustrious—there is no shame, I am what I am—I have always been too busy continuing it to stop, reminisce and write.  And besides that, I’m still plenty young enough that I’ve never felt until just this morning actually (I’ve been confronting my mortality here in the hospital) that the events of my life, incredible as they’ve been—there is no shame, I am what I am—warranted the composition of a biography.
Also, in trying to maintain a shred of modesty I have always deemed myself unworthy of so self indulgent an undertaking: but even as I’ve just begun with this little preface, and given it a few minutes thought, I realize that all the anecdotes and stories of my romances, affairs and my  loves; the recording sessions, the tours and television appearances, the colorful promotional interviews and the scandals could meritoriously fill volumes.  I don’t mean to sound boastful, but that is the plain, unchangeable truth—there is no shame, I am what I am.
So why now?  Why does the Deak pause at this point in his life to write his story?  Another assortment of reasons, the foremost of which is that being laid up in traction as I am with fractured vertebrae and skull I’m going to have an abundance of idle hours on my hands for the next few weeks, making the moment certainly right.  And who better to write the story of the Deak than Deak himself?  (If you want to know why I’m busted up skip ahead to the song ‘Traction’ at the end of the third book, or use it as a literary device to keep yourself in you wish.) 
I am also writing it on the advice of my long time friend, lawyer and manager Larry, to counter ongoing efforts to tarnish my image in the press.  These vicious, unwarranted attacks against my person are being perpetrated by what I call ‘envious wannabes,’ base scoundrels who have long waged an unfair war against the Deak.  People filled with desire but lacking talent become critics, and critics are all too often jealous of the genius.  Much of what is published about me is rubbish and lies, sensational exploitations of my fame fabricated for the singular purpose of selling magazines and newspapers, and I have every confidence that when reached the verdicts in the libel lawsuits currently in litigation against some very high-profile publications will vindicate my character and good name. 
With regard to litigation, I, here at the outset, on Larry’s advice, must make several outright and unequivocal statements of fact.  With regard to the numerous paternity suits pending against me, women have been wrongly accusing me a fathering their children for years—money and fame make me a constant target—and I am confident the current raft of suits will be dismissed like the past ones and the many inevitably to come.  The charges of tax evasion against me are also wrongful—I have never cheated anyone out of anything, so much as a penny—but if by some strange and unforeseen quirk the courts decide that I do owe the government money I will abide by that decision and make haste to repair every last penny. 
The only crimes I have ever committed were trashing two hotel rooms in my wild adolescence, which damages I recompensed in triplicate.  Those two instances of vandalism are the only laws I’ve ever broken, and none others.  Nevertheless Larry has suggested, and I agree, that it will serve me well at this stage of my career to adopt a charitable cause, so a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book, and my next album, will be used to establish The Deak Foundation, to build a chinchilla preserve in an as yet undetermined corner of southern Texas.

Other than that let me just get on with it, trusting that my loving muse Persephone will guide my pen-wielding fingers as gracefully across the page as she has up and down the necks of my guitars all these years.  And since my life and music are so intimately entwined it seems logical that I tell my story by explaining my lyrics and describing the people and events in my life that inspired each song.  Peace out, rock on and love forever, my brothers and sisters.  And always remember—there is no shame, we are what we are.



Chapter 1
In the Beginning, There was the Deak

I was born in Reverse—I mean, Reserve.   Heh, heh—I get things backwards all the time!  Reserve is a small town in Louisiana about an hour west of New Orleans.  My father was a crawfish dealer and my mother a midwife, but as she understandably couldn’t midwife her own son, my aunt, who was also a midwife, held the honor of delivering me to the world.  Eight days later I was christened Deacon Evan Downes, but even the minister who dunked my head in the holy font called me Deak, and that’s how I’ve always been known.
While so many infant boys are nurtured with footballs and sports gear in their cribs by fathers that hope they will grow up to become great athletes, mine had the wisdom and foresight to lay a small guitar and six harmonicas next to me; and when she later introduced herself, I realized that my muse, Persephone, had provided him with the inspiration to do so, for which I praise and thank her constantly.
My memory dawned at the unusually early age of six months, although what I recollect was more like a vision I witnessed from the perspective of participant.  I was snoring and drooling through a nap while my parents entertained some friends in the next room.  A wind-up music box was playing ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ behind my head, which became the soundtrack of a dream.  The notes of the melody fell from fluffy clouds, dancing and flitting in the air above my face.  One by one they dropped onto my tongue, and as I sucked and chewed on the divine confections they filled my mouth with honeyed nectar, and made my whole being tingle in ecstasy. 
I had been cradling my little guitar as I slept, and when the music box wound down I immediately picked up playing where it left off, not missing a note, as if I were willing those succulent candies to keep floating down my throat.  When at last my belly was full I awoke to see my parents and their friends circled around my crib, staring down at me in awe.  I was still playing the song, finger picking it classical style, although I had embellished the simple music box arrangement with some very ornamental arpeggios, making my instrument sound more like a harpsichord than a guitar.  My audience of six was astonished, but to prove it was no fluke I repeated the performance on three different harmonicas, in the keys of C, B-flat and the chromatic, as I clearly recall.  That was the first inkling that I was a prodigy and my thrilled parents acted in a very according and appropriate manner.

Chapter 2
First Kiss, First Song

In many ways the next year and a half was one of the most painful periods of my life, for although my brimming brain was bursting with songs I did not actually write my first one until shortly after my second birthday.  In that meantime I versed myself in the rudiments of blues, jazz, rock, classical and improvisational guitar under the tutelage of Yulelog Henderson, the greatest of the fabled blind bluesmen of New Orleans.  My parents sent for him shortly after that first performance in the crib, and although he was immensely helpful to me in the beginning, when after just a few months he was learning more than he was teaching, and my father wanted to start charging instead of paying him for the lessons, his fragile ego revealed its flaws and he returned to the Big Easy in a huff.
I practiced every day for sixteen to twenty hours, mastering the guitar and harmonica while achieving high levels of competency on piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, tuba, a wide array of percussion instruments, and the acoustic double bass, which I had to play standing on a high chair.  I was able to hear a Mozart composition once and play it back perfectly before I could walk or talk.  But the whole time I was mastering the instrumental aspect of my craft the other remained trapped within my heart, as if locked within an inescapable prison where it ached and throbbed for release.  I speak, of course, of songwriting—how I wanted to sing for the joy of love and the sorrow of love lost, to elicit a chuckle or inspire a thought, to be clever and witty, and all the messages of peace and love I wanted to sing that would change the world forever. 
But I was still barely able to communicate to my parents when I was lonely for a hug and when I was hungry or needed a changing, or just plain tired and ready for a nap.  And although it was for all those reasons and more that I yearned to speak, the most powerful drive and desire I had to master the English language was so that I could commence producing the art for which I had been created.  Fortunately during those early years—and ever since—every time my frustrations reach an intolerably painful pitch Persephone always appears in my ears softly singing,  “Patience…Deak…patience….  Everything in its time…first the blade…then the ear…then the corn.”
How right she was, for an event occurred just after my second birthday that triggered the inspiration for my first song, but more importantly uncorked the bottled up geyser of music that has gushed to this very day.  It was my first smiting by a pretty face, and I will follow the lyrics of ‘Chrissy Kissy’ with the story behind them.

Chrissy Kissy

She was the girl next door to me,
I was the boy next door to her,
And when our mothers got together for tea,
One thing was for sure....

They’d leave us alone in the playpen
And go out on the lawn;
Then we’d start singin’ and laughin’ and
Dancin’ the moment they were gone.
And I’d cry....

Chrissy!  O Chrissy!
Come give some kissy kissy!
Though we’re only two
We know what to do,
And if I could talk I’d shout, I love you!

Our secret tryst went on for weeks,
They knew not of our love,
And how we two were sometimes one,
Like a hand and glove.

Then one day they caught us
With our diapers at our knees,
And snatched away and tore us apart,
Despite our gurgling pleas.

I never ever saw her again,
And her pretty little bangs,
But I think of her every now and then
And my poor heart pangs,
And I cry....

Chrissy!  O Chrissy!
Come give some kissy kissy!
Though we’re only two
We know what to do,
And if I could talk I’d shout, I love you!

The lyrics pretty much tell the whole tale.  Chrissy’s real name was Annabella Gumm, and her family lived next door to us.  Our mothers were friendly neighbors who took tea together two or three times a week, and while they were in the kitchen or out in the yard Annabella and I were left alone in the playpen.  The first few occasions were harmless enough, though only because I was too naive to read the lust behind the gleaming twinkle that appeared in her eyes every time she looked at me.  Then one afternoon, while I was enjoying a little siesta, she crawled into my arms and started smothering my face and neck with her lips.  It was my first passionate kiss, and it whet my palate for the many more I would soon enough be giving and receiving fast and furiously; but after only that single glorious eye opening kiss the Fates conspired against us and, as I sing in the song, we were torn from each other’s arms and smothered in our over protective mothers’.  She never came over again and two weeks later the Gumms moved to Cheyenne, taking Annabella away from me for what I thought was forever.
By more than coincidence I did run into her twenty two years later in Pasadena on the Big Hair tour.  What an indescribably lovely reunion.  She had been through two broken marriages, and confessed that she had always wondered what might have been had we stayed together, and showed me the ‘Deak’ tattoo that she had sported on her ankle for ten years.  She hopped aboard the tour bus and we spent a marvelous weekend together at our three sold out San Francisco shows.  Also, I played harmonica on a remake of ‘Chrissy Kissy’ a few years ago with The Shakin’ Sidewinders that was a minor hit on the Japanese charts for six or seven weeks.  

Chapter 3

Rolling Into New Orleans

For the next six months I remained holed up in the house playing and writing.  I composed roughly one hundred songs that, for lack of proper equipment, and my inability to speak words yet, were never recorded.  I remember every last one, and have used bits and themes from them in other songs over the years, and some day if I have another child or more I plan to record a selection of them for a children’s album.  For the curious, here are a few of their titles:  ‘My Sippy Straw,’ ‘The Six Fingered Fist,’ ‘Little Girls and Mini Skirts,’ ‘Pacify Me Baby,’ ‘Moo Cow Blues,’ ‘Cookies and You,’ ‘Cartoon Faces,’ ‘Take You to Neverland,’ ‘Blue Suede Shoe Blues,’ ‘Turn Me in the Hay,’ ‘Pretty Little Booties,’ ‘In My Crib,’ ‘Tie the Clock, Set My Shoes,’ ‘Dinner Belly Rings,’ ‘Belching in Rhythm,’ and ‘Naptime Lullaby’ among others.
At last my tongue string loosened and the songs began to pour out and I was just a month shy of my third birthday when my parents and I agreed I was ready for my public debut.  We booked a local men’s club hall for the performance and the turnout was disastrous.  Although I had an audience of exactly ten that night I played as though they were a hundred thousand, and my heart pumped gallons of sweat from my heart before I had finished.  Quite simply, I blew them away, they spread the word like wildfire and the next night the hall was stuffed to capacity, with hundreds more crowded at the doors, some of whom had come from as far away as five hundred miles away to hear me play.  At that second show they demanded seven encores before giving me a forty minute standing ovation and my life was never again the same.
Only the best manager and lawyer the music business has ever known, Larry Hymes, was in attendance at that show.  The overwhelming turnout of that second show produced an equally overwhelming pile of receipts, and a dispute about their division naturally arose between my father and the owner of the hall.  Larry was a man of imposing stature and a lawyer who spoke fluent legalese.  He overheard their argument, intervened on my behalf, puffed his chest and tossed out a few legal phrases and in moments reached a settlement with the manager even more favorable than my father had been seeking.  We entered into an agreement with him that night and immediately set about launching my career.  The first decision we made was to move to New Orleans where I could front a band on Bourbon Street, a hot, jamming scene that was consistently turning one incredible performer after another onto the national circuit.  As quickly as we could get our things packed and shipped ahead we were on a southbound train.
I remember viewing our venture into the unknown with trepidation and wonderment.  I was leaving behind my cozy creative cocoon to expose myself naked to the big city, to have with me as she pleased.  But I also knew the decision was right, that my family and I would be protected, and that the music of which I was guardian and dispenser would flourish and be embraced by a warm, welcoming world.  While those worries, fears and dreams crowded my tiny mind as the train trundled along, the rhythm and cadence of the rail infected me and I slipped into a meditative trance, and when we arrived at the station I took out my guitar there in the lobby and performed ‘Rolling Into New Orleans,’ which I had written in my head on the train.

Rolling Into New Orleans

Landscape window paintings pass by me on the train,
My melancholy mood plays in the patter of the rain.
I’m leaving home forever, never going back,
With nothing but a dream and a guitar in a sack.

Courage, son, my papa tells me,
As mama dandles me on her knee,
And even though I’m only three,
I’m quickly becoming a man.

Rolling into New Orleans,
Jazz parades and Dixie queens,
Hot corn bread, red rice and beans,
Hoping she’ll fit like perfect jeans.

I know there will be bumps and traps and ruts,
Diversions, ditches and pitfalls,
But I ride this train of life through the tunnel
At the end of which my muse calls.
She’ll smooth the hills to fill the valleys
And make water glass if there I tread;
She’ll quell the fires, cushion the rocks
And keep my mouth full of bread.

Courage, my boy, papa tells me,
As mama dandles me on her knee,
And even though I’m only three,
I’m quickly becoming a man.

Rolling into New Orleans,
Jazz parades and Dixie queens,
Hot corn bread, red rice and beans,
Hoping she’ll fit like perfect jeans...
Hoping she’ll fit like perfect jeans...
Hoping she’ll fit me....

There were about thirty people there in the station, and the moment I finished they burst into a loud cheer of whistles and applause.  “Encore!  Encore!” a man wearing a hat cried.  They demanded more, but I was a bit overwhelmed by their response, and so I nervously jammed a few instrumental bars of ‘Pop Goes the Weasel.’  That was met with more thunderous approval, and the same man doffed his cap, put ten dollars in and went round to everyone imploring:  “Come now!  Fill the hat!  That’s one hot little cat!  Fill the hat for that hot little cat!”  Then he came to us and insisted on knowing my name.
“I’m the Deak,” I squeaked.
He shook my hand, then stuffed it with the bills.  “Jacob Kilvenny.  You are incredible!  Where do you play?  You should play out!  I can line up gigs for you....”
Larry hastened to put his hand on my shoulder and protectively replied:  “He’s already under management.”  Then he whisked my parents and me away to a waiting car.  As we cruised to the house I counted the money—over one hundred dollars!  My starry eyes swelled with greed and shot Larry suspicious looks from where I sat in the back.  

Chapter 4

Bourbon Street

The house was one of Larry’s properties, on the corner of Dauphine and Toulouse, one block off Bourbon.  It was five comfortable rooms with a spacious music studio at the back fully outfitted with recording equipment and various instruments.  Both he and my parents were in adamant agreement that I be kept in seclusion until they figured out a way to smuggle me in and out of the house without belying my whereabouts to the many people who would surely be hounding me from the moment I debuted on Bourbon Street. 
Larry bade us goodnight and left, and then my parents began unpacking while I diddled with a mandolin.  It bored me quickly, however, as did all the other instruments in my new studio, for I only wanted to go outside and explore.  I was madly restless to do so, and ere very long couldn’t stand being cooped up one moment more.  I checked and found my parents conveniently upstairs preoccupied with their books, and so slipped unnoticed into the night. 
I followed the music like a wafting scent into the intoxicated crowd, wandering forward while gazing up and around me in total awe.  I was dazzled by the lights and the action, the pretty women, the drunken kissing and groping, and the music!  Jazz on the left, blues on the right, Dixieland straight ahead, all horns, drums and guitars, guitars, guitars!  It seemed like a paradise, but soon proved to be no more than a mirage.
I was feeling a bit thirsty, and still had all the money in my pocket, so I stopped at a beer stall and bought myself a cup of cola.  I wandered on through another crowded block, where I paused and listened to a couple of bands.  I have to admit I was disappointed, for although they had sounded good from a distance, upon closer scrutiny one could clearly hear that the instruments were out of tune and the musicianship generally sloppy.  It’s no secret that I love improv and open jams but these cats were all over the place like cars out of control!  The bass player sounded like he was following the guitarist in the bar next door, the drummer like he was keeping beat to the feet in the street, and I don’t know what that harmonica player was thinking but he would have sounded better if he’d had a kazoo or even a hollow bamboo shoot stuffed in his blowhole!  In short, it was a huge letdown of high expectations and I left that doorway despondent that the fabled music scene was, in truth, drunken discordant covers of the simplest standards.  But it did serve well in bolstering my confidence that I would very soon ascend like fresh cream to the top of that crop.
I briefly lent my ears to two more bands which proved no better, so I gave up on the music and started ogling the women.  My fledgling libido was racing like a horse and I longed, yearned, craved, ached and hungered like I was in a famine for a kiss from any of the hundreds of women streaming by me with ruby lips, pearly teeth, dark eyes and dressed to the nines.  I wanted to try out one of the pickup lines I had been working on but I was too overwhelmed by the crowd—which was more than twice my height—and too self conscious to speak, and so I stumbled around with my mouth agape.  Then I suddenly felt myself snatched up into the air and found myself staring into one of the painted faces I had been lusting.
“What a cute little boy!” she said to her girlfriend then turned back and asked me.  “Where are your parents?”
Without the slightest reservation or hesitation I lunged, and in the next instant my mouth was pressed into hers giving it a deep, passionate kiss.  She resisted at first, then gave in for several seconds, then resisted again and gently moved me a few inches further away.
“Where did you learn to do that?” was her exasperated response.
“Chrissy?  Who is she?”
“Kissy!” I answered, plunging back in.
She indulged herself in a second and longer kiss, then swung me back off her face again.  By then my feet hadn’t touched the ground in three minutes.  “How old are you?”
“Three but that’s irrelevant,” I replied.  “Where are you two staying?”
“We have a room at the Monteleone…why?”
“What do you say the three of us go back there and play romper room?” I suggested.
They were shocked speechless by the idea, during which wordless moments I took a closer look into their faces and realized that they were much like the music—lovely and enticing from a distance, but up close the truth, which can never be truly hidden, revealed them to be time worn past their blooms, with sloppy makeup poorly disguising topographical maps of wrinkles and blemishes. 
I sighed in despair, but then thought:  Beggars can’t be choosers.  “Well, what do you say?” I asked, then mounted my third labial assault, this one on her friend.
We were interrupted almost at once by a stern, authoritative voice.  “Excuse me, but may I ask what is going on here?”
We turned to see a large, muscular, broad shouldered cop standing there with his stout arms folded across his barrel chest.
The woman who still held me suspended in the air tried to answer, but she couldn’t get two words from of her mouth so I spoke out.  “If you’d just look around you’d see plenty of other couples making out so why are you hassling us?”
“Because they aren’t doing it with three year old children,” he answered.
“I can assure you, officer,” I confidently replied, “that I’m a full grown man trapped in a little boy’s body.  I’m way beyond my years.”
“He does kiss like it,” the women said.
“What’s your name?” the policeman asked me.
“Deak,” I proudly replied.
“Deak what?”
“Not ‘Deak what?’” I cried.  “THE DEAK!  You’ll know me very well soon enough and will regret having treated me thus—I swear it!”
“Where are your parents?” he continued contemptuously.
“Man, what’s with the third degree?” I indignantly demanded, then insisted the woman set me down, which she did.  “Why don’t you go arrest some criminals instead of harassing the citizens you’re hired to protect, and with whose taxes your salary is paid?” I shouted up at him.
“Why don’t you learn to respect the law?” he rejoined.  “It’s a lesson I’ll be glad to teach.  What’s in your cup?  Are you drinking under age?”
He bent down to grab my arm, but I evaded his grasp with a quick step back and answered:  “It’s a moron and coke!”  I threw the soda in his face, then bit his wrist, kicked his shin and sprinted away calling over my shoulder, “Sweet adieu, ladies!  It’s been lovely!”
I never looked back, so I don’t know if he gave pursuit, but I do know he never caught me, as I was able to hide myself amongst and swiftly navigate the tangled legs of the crowd.  I slipped down a side street and walked back on Burgundy to our house on Toulouse.  My nerves were a bit frazzled from the whole experience, so I took several deep breaths before going in.  When I finally did, my mother flew across the room, swooped me up in her arms and smothered me with a suffocating embrace, crying, “O my baby!  Where have you been?  We were worried sick!  Your father’s out looking for you right now!  He should be back any minute, and we were going to call the police if you hadn’t showed up.  Where did you go?”
“Mother, I can hardly breathe.  Would you please stop blubbering and put me down?” I calmly requested.
She hesitantly acquiesced, saying:  “Now I thought we discussed that you weren’t to leave the house at all yet, least of all alone!  And at night!  You’re only three years old!”
“What can I say?  Curiosity got the best of me,” I replied.  She started to respond, but I interrupted.  “Look, I’m not your normal kid.  Do you really think God above would give me all these talents and then fail to protect me wherever I walk in this world?  This world I am here to sing to and about?  I think not.  Have a little faith!  Jeepers!”
And on that note I went into my studio, grabbed a guitar and hastily composed the song ‘Bourbon Street.’

Bourbon Street

City of fools!  Wicked charms!
Counterfeit jewels!  Spiritual harms!

See the pretty lights, how they dazzle the eye,
Attracting drunken moths to the streetlight stars in the sky.
And see the pretty women, how they make you dance,
Stirring thoughts of…mmm!  C’mon!  Take a chance!
And hear the strains of music drifting through the night,
But in this seeming perfect scene there’s something not quite right,
Lights are not stars,
Lust is not love,
Your guitars are out of tune
And you’re a crow not a dove.

It’s the marketplace in Babylon, Bourbon Street…
Where phony bologna muffalettas melt in the heat!
Anything that would be good is trampled by the feet
Of the drunken mindless zombies marching Bourbon Street.

Your smile beguiles!  All goodness has fled!
You work your wiles!  You’re the living dead!
Your streets are paved, but not with gold,
That’s beer and puke and rancid mold.
The air is warm, but your heart is cold,
And you have no soul because it’s been sold...

At the marketplace in Babylon, Bourbon Street…
Where phony bologna muffalettas melt in the heat!
Anything that would be good is trampled by the feet
Of the drunken mindless zombies marching Bourbon Street.

Chapter 5
Deak And The Ducks

Soon thereafter I held the first rehearsal with my first group, The Ducks.  They were accomplished seventeen year old twin brothers, Dicky and Duncan Duckworth, who played the bass and drums respectively, and the name Deak and the Ducks presented itself as obvious and natural. 
Larry had discovered them busking in Jackson Square and his ears proved to be as keen as his business savvy, for despite the differences in age and musical ability there was rarely an awkward musical moment between us:  we connected and clicked instantaneously, and they learned my songs as if they knew them already.  Even I was astounded at how well they gelled with my playing.  By way of introducing the band to the audience I wrote the eponymous ditty, ‘Deak and the Ducks,’ which was our first hit and our signature song.

Deak and the Ducks

We are Deak, Dicky and Duncan Duck;
I sing and play guitar to their quack and cluck;
We’re here to rock and to make a buck;
Don’t care what you think, no, we don’t give a duck;
Still we wish you all the very best of luck,
Sincerely, Deak and the Ducks…
Sincerely, Deak and the Ducks…
Sincerely, Deak and the Ducks…
Sincerely, Deak and the Ducks….

Robert Charest

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Deak Novel 3 Chapter 25 -- Brian Wilson

Chapter 25

On the liner notes for Hot Chick Beach the album’s producer is named only as Brian.  I’ve been asked a thousand times, in person and in the press: “Brian who?”  Here at last is that mystery explained. 
Jonesy had indeed drawn a name from a hat to choose the actress who would play opposite him and that was how Jackie came to play Tara.  Jackie was a new age free spirit from San Francisco, quite the opposite of Lizaveta, and she and Jonesy became very chummy, and so as we began filming we were all in fresh and fledgling romances with our respective leading ladies.
Less than a month after the Venice Beach slaughter, just a couple weeks removed from escaping incitement charges only by the grace of a fortuitous piece of film showing clear police consent for the concert, Desmond finagled a permit for us to film on the same beach by seducing a councilwoman.  He then rewrote the script to incorporate the footage of the Hell’s Angels massacre by simply inserting it immediately before the battle of the bands.  The film implied that the girls were fighting the bikers as much for self protection as to clear the beach and hear the bands play; and in their performances following the mayhem the bands were driven by the bravery of their beloved women to inspired heights of musicianship.
Between the film and our romance Tzarina and I were together most of the next few weeks, and became intimately acquainted.  She was from Piscataway, had gotten bored and took off on her motorcycle to look around the country and find herself.  She had spent a year in New Orleans, so we had much common ground there for conversation.  While in New Orleans the carefree flamboyance and the colorful local characters and all the parties and the parades had inspired her interest in fashion, and she meandered west on her motorcycle, through Texas, Vegas and finally to Los Angeles. 
Acting came to her naturally, and she had been practicing the craft since childhood, but she was not passionate about it.  It was the oddest thing—while most women were in LA supporting themselves by any variety of menial means to try and break into acting, Tzarina planned to use her acting abilities to support herself while she pursued her dreams in the fashion world.
When she had gained employment in the café her owner and boss became another star struck fan, and offered her use of a beach bungalow (another reason she didn’t want to give up her job at the café quite yet).  It wasn’t far from where we were shooting the film, and we ended up spending most of our time there.
One night we were sitting on the bamboo bench before the bungalow watching the sunset when we suddenly heard a guitar strum and a familiar voice sing:  I’m sweet on you like the morning dew on the blooming flowers, I want to drip into your slip, and bloom your bloomers with a shower.  The way you’re guarding your garden is so hard on me, And if I’m being too forward beg pardon me.   Tzarina…is the queen of…my heart….
“Hi Brian!” Tzarina said over her shoulder when he finished his song.
“Brian?” I asked.
The bamboo bench was situated across from a hammock chair that depended from a tree by a single rope.  The singer emerged from the dark carrying a guitar.  He sat down in the hammock chair and I recognized him at once:  it was Brian Wilson!
“Good evening, Tzarina.  Nice to finally meet you Deak.”  He swung forward and shook my hand.
“Brian Wilson!” the fan in me exclaimed.  Then I recalled the lyrics he’d just been singing to my girl, my heart flared with jealousy and I immediately tempered my enthusiasm with jealous suspicion.
“How do you two know each other?” Tzarina innocently asked.
“Brian Wilson is the musical brain of the Beach Boys,” I said.
“Why didn’t you tell me that?” Tzarina asked Brian.
“Because you didn’t seem to recognize me and I wanted you to like me for me, for the real me, not the face smiling at you from an album cover,” Brian explained.
“I was actually wondering why you weren’t famous already, since your songs are so catchy and you sing so well,” Tzarina observed.
“Songs?” I asked as a general question for either to answer.
“I met Brian when I first arrived here a couple months ago,” Tzarina explained.  “He lives nearby and walks this beach all the time.  And then when I started working at the café I found out he likes to go there too.  He was one of the first friends I made here.”
“She inspires me,” he said, then strummed and sang:  Tzarina is the queen of my heart…Tzarina is a beautiful work of art.  Then he stopped playing and said:  “See? I just made that up.”
“That was beautiful, Brian,” she said.  “All your songs are beautiful.  You’re the Beach Boys, now it all makes sense.”
He directed his attention to me and said: “I’ve been hanging around the beach while you’ve been filming.  I’ve heard the songs and I got hold of a copy of the script which I read.  Would you like to hear my thoughts?”
“Of course I’d like to know your thoughts,” I replied to him.
“As you know we have been kings of the beach for over twenty years—since you were a child—and we should have the opportunity to defend our realm,” he cryptically said.
“Your realm?” I answered.  “The beach?”
“That’s right,” he said.  “As it is you’re somewhat of an imitator riding my coattails—we created the beach sound.”
“An imitator?” I indignantly responded.  “No more than yourself.  I’m an innovator inspired by what came before me.  Music I’ve absorbed influences me just as it does you.  It all comes through us from the ether—you know that better than anyone.  What are you getting at anyway?”
“We want to be in the battle of the bands finale of the film,” he said.
“The Beach Boys!” I exclaimed.  ‘Great idea!  We could definitely work in a clip of you doing one of your songs!”
“That is a great idea,” Tzarina agreed.
I then realized something rather important, and said to Brian: “You do understand that according to the script the best I could offer you is to finish runner up.”
“About that,” Brian replied.  He paused and strummed a short progression.  “That was one of my thoughts.  When you rewrite the Beach Boys into the script change the ending so we have a real battle of the bands decided by the audience.  To make it as realistic as possible, let’s keep it real.  We can compete for Tzarina’s hand.”
I took Tzarina’s hand up and kissed it, then held it and replied:  “This hand?”
He strummed and sang his response.  As your name is not Nancy you’re just a passing fancy.”
“I really do like Deak a lot, Brian,” Tzarina said.
“You’ve liked others in the past and you’ll like others in the future—I like to see myself in that future,” Brian optimistically stated.  She remained curiously silent.  Brian looked at me and coldly challenged:  “You’re not chicken, are you?”
“It’s not a matter of bravado, it’s a matter of our making a film about our band culminating in the ending that we have already written which glorifies our band,” I explained.  “There are roles in the film for the bands that finish second, third, fourth and fifth but we are the predetermined winner.  That’s the point of having a script.”
“And scripts are rewritten,” Brian rejoined.  “It happens all day every day everywhere in Hollywood.”
“And ours was just rewritten and we are happy with the result which is finalized and what we are shooting,” I said.  “Would you write a film about the Beach Boys where they finished second to me in a battle of the bands?  If you’d like a role in a movie, I’m happy to offer you runner up in Hot Chick Beach.  If you want something otherwise, that’s for another time and place.”
“Just as I thought,” Brian ponderously replied.  “Let me show you something else.  Your theme song is lacking.”
“’Hot Chick Beach’?” I answered.  “That theme is tight—simple, catchy and rocking.”
“There’s an entire melodic underpinning missing, a couple planks out of place in the bridge and the chorus is hollow.  What you need to do is get a copy of ‘Be My Baby,’ by the Ronettes and play it one hundred times in a row.  I’m serious, go in your room, lay in the dark and play that record back one hundred times and you will hear what I can only try to explain with words.” 
“If you say so,” I skeptically replied.
Brian got to his feet and held his guitar.  “You think about the things I said,” he said to me.  “The lovely Tzarina’s not going to stay with a man who wilts in the face of a little heat, a man whose macho words precede the actions of a coward.  When she realizes all that and bores with you, me and my songs are waiting here on the beach.”  Then he turned to Tzarina.  “And good night to you, dear Tzarina.  When that sweet hand is free again mine is here waiting to take it.  I’m off now.  I get around, but to get around you’ve got to be around.”
“Bye Brian!” Tzarina replied to him.  “Have a great night!  We’ll probably see you tomorrow.”
“That was odd,” I said.
“He’s so sweet,” she replied, then hastened to reassure me.  “He’s too old for me anyway and right now I’m not interested in any men not named Deak and you’re the only one I know.”
We kissed and passionately made up for a fight we’d never had, then retired early to rise up early to film.  As we lay in the dark Brian’s words nagged at my restless mind.  ‘Hot Chick Beach,’ was a great song—the perfect theme.  What was he talking about? I asked myself. 
Several of Tzarina’s admirers at the café brought her a number of cassettes and a player, and she had a copy of the song in the bungalow.  We decided to do as Brian had said, and spent the next five hours playing ‘Be My Baby’ one hundred times.  It was a great song but not very complicated, and after several listens I had it memorized and was waiting for some mysterious epiphany.  I was skeptical, as was Tzarina, but we plodded on through listens thirty, forty, fifty…and at 5:06 in the morning we cued the song for the one hundredth time.
With the song echoing in my ears and etched into my brain I didn’t know what magical effect to expect, and the skeptic in me expected nothing, but as the music started and the Ronettes’ vocals kicked in a musical tapestry unfolded in my mind.  I was hearing two songs at once in stereo: in my left ear was ‘Hot Chick Beach’ and in my right ‘Be My Baby.’  Then my inner ears merged the two songs into one and I heard exactly what Brian had described:  the melodic underpinnings, the half finished bridge and the hollow chorus.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I was enthralled and aglow with inspiration, and immediately seized a guitar, sat out front of the bungalow and rewrote the theme song as the sun began to banish the night.  Tzarina sat and listened and offered a couple of suggestions and in twenty minutes the revamped version of ‘Hot Chick Beach’ was born.  With the new melodies, the bolstered bridge and the effusive chorus of one hundred women the revised version was now a sure fire hit.
I played it first thing for Desmond and Jonesy when I saw them on set and they agreed that it was much improved.  Tzarina was there beside me, and remained silent when I failed to explain specifically who had inspired the changes in the song.  As we played all day in the sand with cameras rolling I looked around for Brian in the crowds and passersby; and recalling my own experiences, had my eyes out for him in disguise, but I never noticed him. 
After a long fabulous day of fun in the sun, Tzarina and I repaired to her bungalow for the evening.  I wondered if Brian would show up again, which made me a bundle of conflicted emotions.  I was jealous of him as a rival but his contribution to our song was significant enough to warrant credit as collaborator. 
We purposely sat out front of Tzarina’s bungalow to watch the sunset as we had the night before and déjà vu—just after dark Brian started singing from the shadows.  Tzarina’s smile at Brian’s voice made my heart flare.  I reminded myself that she smiled at everyone, and quietly listened to his song. 
When he finished he again seated himself in the hammock chair.  He remembered meeting me from the night before, but aside from that he repeated our conversation about putting the Beach Boys in the battle of the bands as if we were having it for the first time.
“He does sometimes repeat certain things,” Tzarina softly said to me.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I went along with it exactly as I had the night before.  The dialogue was virtually verbatim until he reached the point where he gave his thoughts on our songs, and I said: “I have to tell you, we took your advice and listened to ‘Be My Baby’ one hundred times and you were absolutely right.  May I?”  I motioned to his guitar, which he handed to me.  I played him the new version of the theme song; he just smiled and nodded his head as he listened. 
“That’s it, you got it,” he said.  “I love people who listen.”
“What else?” I asked.
 “Your song ‘Boardwalk Boogaloo’ is lacking in several places.  You’re missing a fill between the second chorus and the bridge, there are a number of places where a chorus could supply some backing vocals, and as a whole the song is lacking a certain syncopated oomph.”
“Should I listen to the Ronettes again?” I sincerely asked.
“Not for this song.  Phil Spector produced the Ronettes and you should listen to Phil for everything, but ‘Boardwalk Boogaloo’ cries Gershwin.  ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ of course, and ‘I Loves You Porgy’ and a few other standards are mandatory, but I would think eight hours of any Gershwin will be enough for you to figure it out.”
“Eight hours, you say?” I replied.  “I must confess myself ignorant of all things Gershwin.”
“Then you’re in for a real treat,” he said, rising to leave.  “And remember what I said about that battle of the bands.  You may win a battle of the bands in the little fantasy world of your film, but you can never call yourselves kings of the beach until you’ve dethroned the ones currently perched on the throne.  Let’s go head to head on stage with Tzarina’s sweet hand the stakes.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I mumbled: “It’s not my decision to make.  I mentioned it to the director and the other guys and they’re thinking it over.”
“Just don’t take the coward’s way out,” he answered, then disappeared into the night.
Tzarina was equally as interested as I to hear what eight hours of Gershwin might do to ‘Boardwalk Boogaloo,’ and since she didn’t have a note in her bungalow while I had a couple of old Gershwin albums back at Easytown, we decided to spent the night back at my place.  There were quite a few people hanging out, including Desmond and Jonesy, and Lola and Jackie and several others from the set.  We briefly said hello, fetched my two George Gershwin recordings from the wall of albums and repaired to my room and commenced to listening to them over and over all night.  At some point in the early morning my brain went voila!  I raced downstairs pulling Tzarina by the hand, we sat down at the piano and rewrote the song.  While incapable of playing a note, she nevertheless provided several invaluable suggestions. 
We finished the rewrite of the song just as Pierre was rising to start the morning.  In the midst of our creative fervor we played it for him; he loved it and continued to hum it as he went about his morning chores.  Jonesy and Desmond came downstairs with Jackie and Lola, and we played it for them. 
“They are great, but where are you getting all these new ideas for our songs?” Desmond asked.  I intended to demure again, but then Larry walked in.  I had been planning to speak with him that day, and there he was, so I asked him:  “What do you know about Brian Wilson?  I’m not referring to the Beach Boys.  Where does he live?  What is up with him these days?”
“He lives in the nearby hills with his live in therapist, a guy named Eugene Landy,” Larry replied.  “He’s had a lot of bouts with alcohol and drugs and mental health and breakdowns over the years.  From what I hear Wilson’s house is like a rehab center with a live in counselor, but I couldn’t attest to anything specific.  I just know the hearsay.  Why?”
With everyone present I confessed to what had been going on with Brian Wilson at Tzarina’s bungalow, and how Brian’s unpredictable musical suggestions were the true source of the changes I had been making that had been elevating the songs to new heights, completing them.  Then I explained how he had twice challenged us to be in a real battle of the bands, and I didn’t know what to do.  It was nothing short of muse intervention that was bringing Brian’s suggestions to our songs, but the blessing of that locked me into a no win bind.  If we did go through with a battle of the bands and for some reason the Beach Boys did win it would sink the film; and if we did go through with it and defeated the Beach Boys on stage, it would have been using songs Brian could claim to have co written. 
We filmed on Venice beach for almost two weeks.  I never once noticed Brian on or near the set, but every night he came round the bungalow singing to Tzarina, challenging me to a legitimate battle of the bands while then improving our songs by sending me on musical journey that stretched across centuries.  The main theme for the song ‘Drag Strip’ came from one of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, which Brian had me listen to for twelve hours.  He sent me to the record shops scouring the racks in search of obscure surf records, and Mississippi blues, contemporary pop hits and old composers.  ‘Hot Rod Annie,’ for example, drew vocal ideas from the Archies and a chorus based on the chord progression of a Mozart piano concerto.  I never knew where he was going to send me with any particular song, but if anyone ever deserved a ‘producer’ credit without having set foot in the studio, it was Brian Wilson on the Hot Chick Beach album.
As he stopped by the bungalow every night to sing to Tzarina and to give me ideas to shape the next song on the record he also reiterated his challenge to a legitimate battle of the bands.  Tzarina explained that he occasionally repeated himself and was forgetful, but the idea was clearly fixed in his mind.  Tzarina reassured me repeatedly that she was not interested in Brian’s romantic advances, but that she also enjoyed his friendship and did not want to damage it by hurting his feelings.
Finally one night near the end of the second week of filming, Brian was emphatic about being included in the battle of the bands, which he knew to be up coming.  He had dropped by the bungalow at the usual time to sing to Tzarina, and shortly after he sat down she excused herself for a few moments to refresh herself.
Brian pounced upon the moments alone with me and boldly said:  “I know you’re almost done filming, and I want this resolved.  Tzarina is not going to stay with you forever, and we both know it.  I like girls a lot, and there are lots of girls, but right now my eye is still sweet on Tzarina.  Are you going to compete with us in a real battle of the bands with the very real prize of a lady’s hand?  Or are you going to take the coward’s path and stick to your own script?”
“I’ve mentioned it and received mixed response,” I lied, then immediately told the truth.  “I promise to discuss it with Desmond, Jonesy, the director and all the decision makers involved first thing in the morning, and I will guarantee you a definitive answer tomorrow night.”
Tzarina returned and Brian went on to bring up my song ‘Drag Strip,’ for which I needed to spend a night listening to any fifty different car songs and both New York Dolls albums.  Tzarina and I did just that later that night and were not surprised when I rewrote a new and improved model of the song.
Tzarina and I discussed it, the following morning I explained everything to Jonesy and Desmond and the director and all the girls and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the guys who were playing Cletis Diesel and the Truckstops, and we put our heads together and devised a plan.  That was Wednesday, and the filming of the battle of the bands was scheduled for Friday.  Red Hot Chili Peppers were to be given a full song, and then for the other bands we had scratched together a few Sunset Strip musicians to play the musicians in the losing bands.
The plan was to stage two separate battles of the bands.  The first one would take place earlier in the afternoon, and would be the actual finale of the film.  The second one would be toward evening, to satisfy Brian.  When he came around Tzarina’s bungalow that night I explained the details.
“After many long discussions this afternoon, here is how the battle of the bands is going to work,” I explained as he, Tzarina and I sat before her bungalow.  “We’re going to film late in the afternoon to capture the ambience of the twilight and the grandeur of the sunset.  The Beach Boys, or whatever collection of musicians you bring, will perform last, after Desmond, Jonesy and I.  Also, the producer is particularly fond of your songs ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘California Girls,’ and has insisted that you use those two to conclude your set.”
“Those are the terms?” he replied, laughing.  “I take the stage last and have to play two of my best songs?  That’s like starting a football game with a thirty point lead, or giving me the first ten moves in a chess match.  What gives?  Is this alright with you?” he asked Tzarina.
“It sounds like fun,” she replied.  “I’ll go on a date with you if you win.”
He smiled, then looked thoughtful…suspicious.  “Who is judging? audience applause?”
“We’ll form a panel of judges by having each band choose two girls from the crowd,” I explained.  “We’ll start by measuring decibels of applause, and if that’s a tie we’ll resort to the panel.  Can you be there ready to play about five?”
“I wouldn’t miss it!” Brian cried, jumping out of the hammock chair and grasping his guitar.  “I’ll see you both tomorrow, and I’ll see you Saturday night too,” he added to Tzarina.
The following day was the final day of filming; we started early and shot the final take of the last scene around three.  We then got everyone to stick around for the staged battle of the bands by throwing a party. 
Brian arrived promptly at five with one of his brothers and several other musicians.  He presented Tzarina with a bouquet of flowers then excitedly busied himself with preparations for their performance.  The party had been roaring all day, so the huge crowd was in great spirits when the bands took the stage and the ‘battle’ commenced.
The band of ragtag musicians warmed up Cletis Diesel and the Truckstops, who warmed up Red Hot Chili Peppers, who warmed up for us, who warmed up Brian’s configuration of the Beach Boys.  Brian played with great confidence, constantly glancing and smiling and waving at Tzarina where she stood holding hands with me in the front row.  The moment Brian launched into ‘Good Vibrations’ we launched our plan.  Flea strapped on his bass, I my guitar, Jonesy slipped his saxophone over his neck, Anthony Kiedis and Desmond grabbed tambourines and we invaded the stage, entirely uninvited, and joined in the song.  As we played Desmond and Kiedis marched along the front of the stage dancing and banging their tambourines and stirring up the women in the crowd, and the moment Brian started singing ‘California Girls’ the Sexadactyl made an inimitable leap onto the stage.  Throughout the afternoon we had made specific arrangements with a number of beautiful women to surround Brian as he sang one of his signature songs.
When that song finished the stage was packed with willing musicians and a hundred women screaming for dance music and so we played a couple more songs that became a three hour encore. 
The whole affair turned into one of those spontaneous parties that achieves legendary status and is fondly recalled for many years after.  At one point a while after the music had stopped Tzarina and I were hiding in the shadow of some trees making out when Brian approached.  “That was a great gig!” he said.  “Great fun…great, great fun.  But we never decided a winner.”  I put my hands up and shrugged.  “I guess that was the idea.”
“Everyone there was a winner!” Tzarina optimistically said.  “It was a great night!”
“But you were the prize and you’re with Deak,” Brian said to her.
“Brian, you know what it’s like to have lots of fans,” Tzarina gently said.  “On a smaller scale in a different way I do too.  But out of the many I can only choose one, and for now that one is Deak.  You do understand?”  She squeezed my hand and looked at me adoringly.
“Of course,” Brian replied nonchalantly.  “You California girls come and go.  I learned that a long time ago.  You’ll inspire a couple songs about heartache and heartbreak and then tomorrow is a new girl.”
“There you are,” an attractive young woman said to Brian as she approached us.
“I’ve met one already,” Brian said.  “Tzarina, Deak, meet my new friend Rhonda.”