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gracie's world 2000


Welcome to Gracie's World, March 2000!


The band got all broke!


What a piece of work is cat.
~ m.t.


I. Ben

Our Little Ben

Wednesday, March 1
i slip in spittle.

once fondled, now spindled, folded, stapled, creased!

i descend down the oily quarter-notes into toneless hell with no handbag, no gladrag, no gigbag, no gig.

gig. gig.

backwards, forwards, same string of gagging phoneme blundering babbling baubles.

the gig is up! up goes the gig! like transparent glassine spheres that rise from chickenloaf's bubble bath.

pop goes the gig. gone.

soap gets in my eyes.

Thursday, March 2

shiny horn made of reynolds wrap! heady bouquet of valve oil!

flexing toes. keys clickety click! a trick of the lip!

high f way up over the staff!

drivels of spit from cork-capped valve. salve of the soul. make this native land refugee whole.

there i was satchmew.

here: gerbil poop under taloned paws.

Tuesday, March 14

we struggled through macarthur park. them in the dark, i the spark. cake melting in the rain. green runny stain. o the musical pain!

high tone! quarter note! clap clap clap! i played the avuncular gnome

of the metronome. same staggering measure 45 times. where is my crime?

they said i exacted, cruelly.

i, who am as gentle as a grape.

Friday, March 17

i crumpled my horn. yes, threw it down, allowed it to drown

'mongst mites in the carpeting. all those cats carping! even chickenloaf harshening -- claws on conga wood, sharpening sharpening. nini, endlessly harping -- those arpeggios from purgatory! my ears!

so yes, i stomped it back to flat Reynolds wrap. said it's a wrap

and stalked off a-one-and-a-two-and-that's-all.

they called after me that i am not fit
to orchestrate a puddle of spit.

then! pia flaunting her hamster fur boa, started up the haunting taunting! hissy fit! hissy fit!
doo bee doo bee doo!
ben thinks he's marsalis
but he's basset hound poo!

so yes, i, pure-hearted as the young maggots who sing in the wild roses of my native land, scorched by their scorn, i crumpled my horn.

a bit of pomp, i admit.

Sunday, March 19

in my native land when i performed the trumpet they worshiped me so! they brought barrels of vicuna milk and tuna water to the foot of the stage, tossed bits of rye crisp, scented astroturf... ...afterwards, the huge feasts of sautéed spinach -- yum! games of flush-the-mouse that lasted 'til dawn, goldfish swallowing. those hilarious singing mimes! rollo the clown!...

Thursday, March 30

last night i dreamed of donkeys.

up and down the walls of canyons they ambled. scab-kneed donkeys.

donkeys one and all.  

II. Chickenloaf

The Chick!

Friday, March 3
The band went away! It broked and it went right away! Piff! Just like that!


Saturday, March 4
I was gettin' so jazzin' good! I was playin' Chopsticks an' stuff an' I was gettin' so cool and groovy on those groovin' fingerslabs! Cheeks an' chops! That was me! I was makin' those old piano strings go tinkly tink tink tink tink! Just like Mr. Chick! Then they didn't go around callin' me Chickenloaf but Chick! It was rockin' cool! Jeez-O-Supercat that band sure was groovin' tootsie fun!

Sunday, March 12
Anyways then the band went right away! Boink! Just like that time Nini broke a harp string and it snaked all over the place and smacked Pia right on the tushie when she was hootchie kootchie dancin' alls over the stage in her red sequiny dress and make-me-purr red spike heels, and twirlin' her hamster-fur boa, and then the harp string went Boink! and Pia yelled Ow! and she smacked Charlie who was just mindin' his own beeswax and a-playin' his big ole upright bass!

Thursday, March 16
Speakin' a Charlie, ooooh Jeez-O-Supercat! That Charlie, he can slap down those killer bass noats! He just walked that bass alls over the room! Them blue jays, they don't call 'im Bad Man Scootie for nothin'!

Nights, we'd get all jazzin' up and groovy and some of us -- but not me! -- got all high on bottled water and LOVE SKAVOOVIE, an' we'd yell Play that stick, Skankin' Charlie Dude! You the Cat's Pajamas! You the Bee's Knees! You the Man!

Then we'd yell Take five, Charlie! An' just like that, he'd be a-Brubeckin' and a doo-dee-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo!

Skankin' Charlie, he a-go-gos like a litterbox a-fire!

Saturday, March 18
Somma-times when Nini got a-goin wi' "Ain't Misbehavin'" on her harp a-bendin' those notes like Mr. Stevie Ray, and Skankin' Charlie 2-Tone, he a-walkin' that bass just everywhere! Man oh man!


Sunday, March 19
Hey I'm a-telling you what! We was the real thing! We was comin' right at you on all four feets! We was hot! We was reeallllllyyyyy cookin' and I was buying all kinds of nice pants suits!  


III. Pia

Wednesday, March 1
I guess for me, things began spinning out of control about the time I started hanging with the musicians in the Hep Cats. They played over at Squeakin' Squeegee's, the dive with the band cage to keep the drunk Clydesdales from hurling bottles at you. You know what I'm saying.

It beat hanging with The Poots after gigs, let me tell you. Chickenloaf with her little plaid skirts, no-bake cookies, and early bedtime. Ben lecturing on proper syncopation. Dad blustering about the stock market while he's packing up his congas and dropping them everywhere. Weakie with her vague commentary nobody knew how to take.

And Nini! Those ridiculous dangly diamond earrings, sequiny gowns, the stuffy black-tie parties she'd throw after gigs and invite all those crashing old bores like Elton John.

I mean, gag me with a litter scoop, and make it mercifully quick.

Thursday, March 2
Looking back, I guess it was inevitable that me and the Hep Cats started distilling catnip.

Sometimes I was in the Nip Zone all night, and I was practically living on Pounce Hairball-Treatment Snacks and the funny thing was I think it improved my singing, in the midrange at least.

Mario, the leader of the Heps, he really wanted me to join their band and be the front singer, but Bun Bun, their lead guitarist's girlfriend, she was the lead singer, and that was that. God, what a stray she was. Singing all breathy and blowing smooches like Marilyn Monroe. Squirt me with a plant-misting bottle now, please. I mean, let's clarify: she was a fucking rabbit. Give me a break!

And jealous! If Mario had even brought up the subject of me being front singer, she would have clawed my eyes out, I'm sure!

Well, anyway. I don't care.

Besides, that's behind me now. The retro-grunge band is working out, and it's a better match for my personal style, anyway. The clothes are more comfortable, too, admittedly.

Wednesday, March 8
Nights after gigs with The Poots, I'd cruise over to Squeakin' Squeegees and hook up with the Hep Cats, and we'd drink bottled water chew distilled catnip and play Slapjack until the "wee wee hours," as Chickenloaf likes to say.

Some of those cats in the Heps got into eating grass, but I never did. Vomiting up green foam isn't my idea of a good time.

But let's clarify: distilled catnip is not for the guinea pig-hearted. Some mornings I'd wake up with my ears on fire and my head thumping like one of Dad's overblown conga solos, and I'd be surrounded by a bunch of cat toys I never remembered buying.

Thursday, March 9
I knew The Poots were well on the way out when Ben started getting all moody on us. I mean Great Morris in the Sky, that guy had moods. He could have written the book on the trite, temperamental artistic persona. It was actually pretty boring if you want to know the truth.

I mean, it just got to me like a big old dog tick. Really ticked me off.

Plus he wouldn't let Mom in the band, and Mom is the BEST, you know?

Saturday, March 11
I mean, let's clarify: Not only is Mom a terrific musician and a humble one, not to mention a good team player, which, trust me, is rare in a musician -- but she also lets me sit in her lap for as long as I want while she's reading books.

That means a lot to a kid like me who grew up in the streets and had to raise myself practically, and kill and eat chipmunks, guts and all, and sleep on piles of sticks and all that kind of crap.

Wednesday, March 15
When did The Poots truly hit bottom?

The rest of the band thinks it was the night I'd got enough at rehearsal and basically told Ben to go take a flying fuck at a Kit Kat Clock.

However, looking back, I believe it was the night we were playing at Stinky's and those Clydesdales came in looking for trouble. Amish horses -- they've got an attitude and a half. They were those big, muscular types with the bell bottoms. A bunch of Belgian's were already at the bar singing the Marsellaise over and over and knocking back dozens of Budweisers and chewing up the cans and spitting aluminum wads all over the floor, and they were wearing those heavy bronze shoes they like to use for kicking.

I thought, oh no, horsefight.

Trust me on this, there's nothing worse than a horsefight.

So then Ben, he gets this brilliant idea of us playing "A Horse With No Name" as a tribute to these guys!!! Charlie, he knew better and he said don't go there, but Ben was sort of getting off on this pay-tribute-to-the-horses-of-the-world trip, and he was sort of getting into the power of running a band, which is really funny since he weighs only 6 pounds.

So we play "A Horse With No Name" and Ben sings lead, and there's all this deafening, squawking microphone feedback, which drives horses crazy, and the whole scene totally sucks because we don't even have all the parts nailed down, not having rehearsed it much, and this huge brawl breaks out.

Thanks to Charlie we knew the emergency routine: pack up quick, get the hell out the back door into the alley, and dive into the trash cans. By the time the fight was over, all the chairs and tables plus that nice little baby grand piano were kindling wood, and two woodchucks got stomped.

Squealie, the bartender, got kicked from here 'til next Tuesday. And all we could find of the dude running the sound system was part of a fluffy ear.

I'd been telling Stinky for months, Stinky, you gotta get a bar cage. Too late.

IV. Nini


Friday, March 3
Harping! The heavenly notes invariably sweep me back to my kittenhood...playing the hammer dulcimer at my father's knee...

Excessive harping shall always be my first love.

But alas, the burdens of extreme wealth keep me rather too busy for harping -- and now, with the presidential campaign underway, and then there is of course my cooking show...well, the notion is simply moot.

It saddened me to turn down the Boston Symphony's invitation, as well as the New York Philharmonic's invitation -- and I'm such old friends with the conductors -- but, it had to be so. At times one must make hard choices.

Sunday, March 12
I was concerned about young Ben. Shouldering the responsibility for the musical group was ruining his health. He was developing large, unattractive bags under his eyes, his tail started lacking fluffiness, and he began carrying bottled water at all times. He claimed it was part of his weight-loss program, but I knew better.

Saturday, March 18
Oh yes, I heard about the horsefight. Thank heavens I was in absentia that evening, needing to accompany and advise one of my protégés who was on his way to a potentially volatile meeting with the NRA.

I interpret the horsefight, however, as a symptom, not a cause.

The real reason the musical group fell into disarray is one of the oldest reasons in the world. No, I do not speak of Promiscuity. I speak of Politics.

If working my way up from owning 69 cents and a coat button to becoming The Richest Mammal in the Universe has taught me anything, it is this: Ignore the political situation, and it will come around and sniff your behind like a senseless, hyperactive Labrador Retriever every single time.

Ben, I used to say, You simply cannot ignore the implications. Mother feeds us and keeps the litter boxes immaculate.

It was fatal faux pas to disallow Mom to join the band. Granted, her trumpet playing was a bit lacking. It was marked by weak tonality and a questionable upper range -- and of course she insisted upon playing with vibrato. Terribly passé! But excluding your Mom, that is to say your primary guardian, from your musical group when she is keenly interested in joining is just not comme il faut.

V. Charlie

Skankin' Charlie 2-Tone

Sunday, March 25
The thing everybody seems to forget in all this is that Ben is basically a well-meaning little orange cat.

Yeah, at times he's maybe a little too melodramatic; he has some silly litterbox habits; he's definitely a little purple around the edges when it comes to his writing style. But who of us hasn't been at the age when sensibilities struggle to catch up with intellect? Who of us hasn't sharpened our claws on a $3,000 leather sofa or vomited half-digested mouse parts all over three chapters of a Ph.D. dissertation?

I'll say this -- Ben has talent. There aren't many two-year-old cats who can construct a Bb trumpet out of aluminum foil and then get decent range and tonality out of the thing. Ben's musical genius was unquestionable. He had a killer understanding of pentatonics and a seventh sense for key change -- and he had innovative ideas. Playing "MacArthur Park" without using valves and adding a heavy industrial percussion line with harp solos and a walking bass -- it was bizarre, but the thing is, it worked. It's that kind of edginess that's missing in much of music today.

It's true that Ben's technique was still a little raw and maybe his style was a little too much of a combination of ethnic and avante garde for much of the U.S. jazz scene, but I could have helped him season as a player and develop a niche. I regret I didn't have more time to work with the little orange guy, get him to not stay so hung up on experimentalism but work on developing a consistent groove. As it was, he was picking up fast.

It's probably for the best, though. The band was ruining Ben's health. Toward the end, he was going through three, sometimes four bottles of Evian water a night, and then he'd pee himself silly.

Besides, medical school is keeping me busy these days, and The Poots would have been one too many bands, especially since I'm starting surgical rotation this fall.

Anyway, I wish the little guy well, and I hope this native jewelry thing works out.

VI. Gomez


Friday, March 17
Oyez! Oyez! I never missed a concert. Not a one!

Gracie, that lovely, winsome little creature! She was by far the best -- except for the ska bassist, of course...but Gracie! That darling was just a natural on the bongos -- I haven't heard bongos played with such panache since I departed my own Native Land. Certainly she was far better than that large Danish fellow with the melodramatic conga solos.

Oyez! Vamanos, mi bonita gata, vamanos! Baila mi gata! Baila para mi!

VII. Gracie


Thursday, March 2
Everybody says that our band it was so great but really it was sorta lame! I mean, everybody sorta did their own thing! It was so lame! Chickenloaf, she thought it was really really cool to lift up the piano lid all the time and pull on the strings with her claws, and Dad he was thumpin' on his congo drums sorta like a dope, and Nini she was goin' off on those really long whooshy harp solos plus Nini always overdressed in long, white sparkly gowns and white gloves and diamond tiaras!

Sunday, March 5
Anyways, the band was really lame! Except for Charlie of course on account of he used to play upright bass with The English Beat and now he's got a solid Boston Hard-Core sound and is already playin' in 2 other bands SKANKIN' CHARLIE 2-TONE AND THE BREAD-AND-BUTTER PICKLES, and HAIRLESS REX, that's his dinner-hour jazz combo which he sometimes lets me play bonkers I mean bonkos! Those little bitty drums!

Monday, March 13
That band it was so lame you shoulda heard rehearsals they sounded like a trainload of little aloominum wind chimes headin' for Walmart but wreckin' down over a hillside instead!

Actually it sorta sucked in a way!

Tuesday, March 14
Ben he would get so mad his face would turn all raspberry and it clashed with his orange fur something awful! Also his voice would get all trembly! Then he would stomp right out! Then he would come back! Then we'd take it from the top! Then he would stomp out and come back! Then he would stomp out again! Then come back! Then he would sorta sigh and mop his brow!

Usually by that time Chickenloaf, she'd be curled up in a hamburger bun kind of shape on top of her Steinway sound asleep, and Charlie he'd have one of his GROSS ANATOMY books (and I do mean gross! those pitchers are yuck!) propped up studyin' it whiles he was waitin for Ben to, you know, sort of accomplish something!

Wednesday, March 15
So anyways one day before rehearsal Chickenloaf and Nini they were jammin'! Jammin' means playing without thinking at all!

Anyways, Chickenloaf and Nini they were jammin' and vamping which means playin' music that should never see the light of day! They were really goin' off on "Ain't Misbehavin'" and Pia was singin' and dancin' like Courtney Love! And then Ben shows up!

So Ben, he sorta presses his lips together, and his little cream-colored chin pokes out, and his whiskers get all pointy and he taps his baton on his music stand taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap! Just like Weakie does with that metal pointer thing at the beginning of Geographic Information Systems class on Tuesdays!

And then Ben, he goes like this, he goes: "Attention everyone! MacArthur Park! Let's take it from the top and do let's watch the dynamics this time!" and then Pia says fuck you.

Then there's this great big silence!

Friday, March 24
Anyways, that's how Ben and Pia got in the Big Fight and anyways Pia was already upset on account of Ben wouldn't let Mom play in the band even though Mom plays trumpet real good also guitar real good also 47 other instruments all real good!

It was such a bad fight! Pia used awful goat words! Also some obscure Clydesdale terminology which she picks up from hangin' around Squeakin' Squeegee's, which I think those terms mean buckets of something!

Then Ben he takes his trumpet and he stomps it flat! Kind of like the Oh-Possum I saw one time near the driveway and Ben he stomped right out of the studio and he kicked that damned upright bass that's always falling over anyways and the upright bass goes slidin' alls over the place again and nearly kills every single one of us!



Saturday, March 25
You want my what?

My point of view on the tragic demise of Ben's Native Band, or whatever the hell it was called?

Well, how about if you demonstrate that there was a band, and then maybe I'll offer an opinion; how's that.

I don't have time for this. I'm a busy man, racking my brains analyzing the stock market day and night trying to support this little boat of nitwits. That's what's really happening here, and it's time it came to light.

Furthermore, the Internet, which some of us actually depend on for information, and which is already sagging from its own weight even more than Weakie's underside -- gets junked up more and more each day with everybody's and their pets' "journals" -- not to mention hundreds of thousands of 86-megabyte, 600-dpi photos of pet dogs, cats, hamsters, boas, tapeworms, ebola viruses, you name it, complete with somebody's arm sticking into one side of the frame, a cutsey caption, and red-eye burning like a pair of parking lights on a taxicab.

I'm convinced we need to register digital cameras like we do guns and require some kind of background check. Blurry polaroids of headless people in your history? Sorry pal, no Minolta for you.

Bottom line: The World Wide Web could use a few less stabs at "creative writing" and a few more financial planning sites for those of us who are looking for real information.

And while we're on the subject, Nini is a fraud. She doesn't have a cent to her name. She doesn't even have that damned coat button anymore.

Frankly, I think somebody is a little too imaginative for her own good.

'Nuff said. Time for a little sandwich.

IX. Chickenloaf

The Chick!

Thursday, March 30
Let me say to you right now! We was one rockin' combo! Hot and cool all at once, if you dig my meanin'! Kickin'! We coulda clawed ourselves right up those charts like they was nothin' but an ole tree full o' tasty chickadees!

But Ben he was gettin' to be a major drag he juss wasn't rockin' he wasn't turbo he wasn't hootchie kootchie!

He had these most terribly unusual ideas! He just kept a-harpin' cool jazz cool jazz cool jazz, my good people, puh-leeeze! Let us dispense with the excessive vibrato!

Ben he is really nice and a sweetie and a goodie with a pretty stripey tail an' he's the cat's pajamas really but that day of the Big Fight he was so totally square and a Baddie!

An' then alla sudden it was like, over, and it was like, Oooooooooh dork!


X . Ernie


Thursday, March 16
Yes! Well! What were we discussing?

Ah, the band incident. Oh yes, dreadful smashup, that.

Ben's a fine little yellow fellow with a lovely tail, but really rather a bit dotty, don't you think? I mean to say, if you take a close look -- peel back the eyelids and all.

Also, I dare say the old boy's a bit of the tippler. Though granted I wouldn't wager my propellor beanie on it, as I've not actually seen the corpus delecti. Let's just say I suspect. Rumor has it that he was getting pissed quite frequently. And I do mean pissed. Frequent trips to the litter box. Scratch, scratch, you know. All the buzz is that it was bottled water -- which of course is what nearly brought down Keith Richards. Not to mention a few others.

What was I saying? Ah yes, regarding Ben. Jolly little orange tabby chap, really. Fluffy tail. Nice upper range on his musical instrument -- clarinet, I believe it was.

And his band -- what were they called? The Scoots? Tended to play in grotty pubs full of wildlife and farm creatures as I recall, but pretty good venue. Of course it didn't hurt to have inherited a phenomenal bassist -- that Muzzlewhite fellow who used to play for The Beat. Quite the dishy lead singer, too.

Honestly, though, bongo jazz is not my cup of tea. Retro-grunge fan, you know.

XI. Pia


Thursday, March 30
Speaking of the Hep Cats, I forgot to mention the body piercings. They were getting out of hand. Even I'll admit that.

XII. Gracie


Tuesday, March 29
That band it was very very very very very very hard work but also it was such good fun! I sorta miss it kind of! In a way! Now we're watchin' Green Acres Friday nights but it ain't the same!

Unless Arnold Ziffel is on he is so cool!

XIII. Weakie

Her Weakness

Wednesday, March 15

It was weak!

XIV. Dad


Thor's Day, March 31
All right, I give up. Where's my grass skirt.

This time I'm taking a U-Haul.

Maybe this will end all the Sound and Fury, and I can enjoy my little sandwiches in peace.

I shan't bet my bagpipes on it.

XV. Gracie

Thursday, March 31
Hooray Dad is so cool he is going to Ben's Native Land and he's gonna bring back Ben's trumpet from his Native Land also Ben's piano and sitar and steel drum and marimba and bassoon and loot I mean lute and clavés and balalaika and his harmonica collection and his penny whistle and his didjeridoo!

Also Ben is writing up a big list of several things for Dad to bring back from his Native Land! For example Ben's lawn statues and his poop scoop for his trained Lipazzon stallions which it has been very inconvenient without it if you get my drift!

Also Green Acres was really really good last night! Misses Dougless she was talking to these chickens! She had names for all these chickens! It was so cool! These chickens they did all these great tricks like standing on one foot also they gave Misses Dougless eggs on request! Weakie says this is an example of Anglo-Marxism on account of it gives HUMAN ATTRIBUTES TO CHICKENS also Magical Realism on account of it is terribly weird!

Also funny!

XVI. Ben


Wednesday, March 30
o daughters of bast

take heed!

truth is not in tinkly cat toys and delicious hams!


but i digress.

i must center all energy

'round the sacred horn that dad retrieves! beamish boy!

o tapeworm! o flea!

o my lovely pillow shams!

shanti. shanti. shanti.

next gracie's world...