mike gee

A Tribute To Jeff Buckley (August 1997) ~

By Mike Gee

“I couldn’t awake from the nightmare
It sucked me in and pulled me under
pulled me under
Oh, that was so real …”
  - Jeff Buckley (“So Real”) -

Those lines take on a haunting, horrific nature now. It’s as if some
two or three years ago Jeff Buckley wrote his own epitaph: now they
echo a sad, painful, farewell.

Jeff Buckley, 30-year-old genius of a singer/songwriter/guitarist, and
son of the great and legendary Tim Buckley - a father whose shadow
haunted, taunted and perhaps, ultimately, consumed him - is dead,
drowned in an offshoot of the mighty Mississippi River in Memphis. The
last time he was seen alive he was swimming on his back, fully
clothed, singing. Perhaps, that is the memory those who loved his
music, his astonishing songs and incredible, incendiary voice - so
like that of his father - should cherish.

What to say then of a man claimed so young, who left just one album,
an EP and a bunch of singles, and guest appearance tracks, yet was
already considered one of the potential greats of his times. Perhaps,
that although he always spoke so much of living, of the need to live
life at its fullest, to smash the culture of anti-life as he saw much
of society, government and authoritarianism as representing, Buckley
was as close to death as he was life. He walked such a fine line.

A product of the Greenwich Village folkie and bohemian circuit,
Buckley lived on the frontline, choosing to mix it amongst the
communes and squats where he found what he called the last real
writers, artists, expressionists; people he could relate to, people
unafraid of society’s mores and dictates, willing to take a chance.

Over 1994 and 1995 I spoke to him twice. Each time we spoke mostly of
life, what he saw around him, the injustices, the fear, the laws that
repelled him, the death of Western civilization, the loss of
spirituality, the problems he had coming to terms with the modern
world and those in silent power, and, sometimes, the shadow of Tim,
the father he hardly knew who died when he was just eight.

Tim Buckley knew no limitations; for him, songs were a springboard for
risk-tasking, for delving into the dark side of man’s nature and the
indefinable nature of the spirit. Tim only knew that once he found the
edge, he had to go over it. And through a series of extraordinary
albums that tested the limitations of jazz, folk and rock and his own
free-form fusion of the elements he took those who listened with him.
On June 25, 1975, at the age of 28, Tim Buckley was dead from an
accidental drug overdose.

Today, he is revered as a true great, a man capable of charging songs
with an emotional depth few have ever reached or dared to try and
find: it was a trait that somehow passed itself onto Jeff, even though
he was forever trying not to admit it.

One stinking hot LA morning when the temperature had already soared
past the older 100 degree mark, Buckley who had been talking with more
and more literalness for half-an-hour suddenly said, “All this stuff
about my Dad, I never knew him, really. It’s so hard to live with. I’m
Jeff not Tim. Do you think what they say is true?”

The question never got answered. How could you tell him, yes, he was
so much his father’s son. The way he sang, that extraordinary
multi-octave voice, the jaggedness of his music, his willingness to
throw it into free-form chaos, to bend between genres, and the passion
and the scary, fractured, hanging on and yelling out emotion that flew
effortlessly in unforgettable codas that spanned much more than words
can ever transmit in songs such as “Grace” and “So Real”.

No, Jeff Buckley could never be told that, it didn’t seem right. He so
much just wanted to be Jeff Buckley, and he so badly wanted to change
the world. Instead we talked about how LA’s city fathers owned a tank,
about the ‘no smoking in certain public places’ law, about how he
didn’t want to write the second album the record company or anybody
else wanted him to write and how he would write the songs that he
felt, no matter what anybody thought. To Jeff, it was all part of
beating and breaking the system. The streets romanced him and the edge
scared him - there he was different from his dad. He already feared
what he might find out and he already feared what he might become.

Somewhere towards the end of the conversation, he spoke of insanity -
he saw it all around - and how he feared that he too would become
insane. Yet, you sensed there was something driving him on, something
terribly urgent and restless within him. He could, easily, have taken
the soft option; given the music industry, the public, what they
wanted - whatever that was. But it would have been a defeat Jeff
Buckley could never have lived with and so he went on, taking a very
long time to write his second album, which he was finally just about
to go into the studio and record.

Buckley was due to begin working up material for his long-awaited
sophomore effort at Memphis’s Easily Studios on Thursday, the day he
disappeared. Former Television leader Tom Verlaine was originally down
to produce the project, but that partnership was scrapped in March
when Buckley decided he needed more time to come up with material for
the album. Recording with Andy Wallace - who produced Buckley’s
phenomenal debut - was scheduled to begin at the end of June. The
not-yet-titled album was set for early 1998 release.

Although Buckley already had more than two-dozen songs finished, he
wanted to spend the next month preparing himself for the production of
the album. Buckley most recently appeared on a track featuring Inger
Lorre on Rykodisc’s Jack Kerouac tribute, 'Kicks Joy Darkness’. He was
also going to contribute a song to Hal Willner’s forthcoming Edgar
Allan Poe tribute alongside Lou Reed, Diamanda Galas and Leonard
Cohen; and was to appear on the 'First Love, Last Rites’ soundtrack.

The facts then as they are: On the night of Thursday, May 29, Buckley
was hanging out with a friend at the Mud Island Harbor marina, half a
mile inland off the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee. He and
the friend were listening to a stereo and playing a guitar when
Buckley waded, fully clothed, waist-high into the water. He started
singing and laid back on the water, when a boat went by causing waves
to come in to the shore.

The friend on shore turned his back to move the stereo away from the
incoming waves and when he turned around, he couldn’t see Buckley.
After a 10-minute search, the friend called local police. The Memphis
police department began dragging the waters that night and continued
to do so - weather permitting - for the five following days. They also
checked on the chance of him having wandered out the water. Friends
were contacted and people in the area of the marina questioned. They
came up with nothing. Jeff Buckley simply vanished.

Finally, the news came through at about 7pm on June 4: the body of
Jeff Buckley had been found. Police said that a passenger on the
American Queen river boat spotted the body at the foot of the city’s
famous Beale Street. The body had a pierced navel - like Jeff’s - and
was in the same clothes he was described as wearing when he
disappeared. His body was subsequently identified by friends and taken
to the local morgue awaiting an autopsy. The waiting was over and the
tears could finally flow unchecked for a beautiful spirit, tragically
gone.

And so we have lost another young genius, and another man who saw
perhaps too much, too soon. Worst of all, we’ll never know what Jeff
Buckley was thinking, what those 20-plus songs contained, where he
would have taken that unshakeable faith and idealism.

Some interviews you remember. And I remember that last one, so well,
too well. His voice is still as clear as if it that interview was
yesterday; its nuances, its pain, its anger, its frustration and its
love. Jeff Buckley could never hide how human he really was.

Ironically, but fittingly, the words that best fit this tragedy are
Patti Smith’s in “Beneath The Southern Cross” from “Gone Again”, her
stunning comeback album of last year, and one of two tracks on which
Buckley appeared, his voice soaring ethereal like some ghostly angel
calling from the infinite beyond. It seemed right he should sing with
this woman who has known more tragedy than most. They were like
spirits. “Gone Again” celebrated life after death and a great spirit;
the honesty of loss; an enduring love.

Jeff understood all those qualities and now in their light we should
remember this blazing light shaded far, far, too early.

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On this day in music history: April 17, 1990 - “People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm”, the debut album by A Tribe Called Quest is released. Produced by A Tribe Called Quest, it is recorded at Calliope Studios and Battery Studios in New York City from Mid 1989 - Early 1990. The group has its beginnings in 1985 with Q-Tip (born Jonathan William Davis, renamed Kamaal Ibn John Fareed) and Phife Dawg (born Malik Izaak Taylor), who are childhood friends having grown up together in the same neighborhood in St. Albans, Queens. While attending high school, they are joined by DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and fellow MC Jarobi White. First known as Crush Connection, the group are given the name A Tribe Called Quest in 1988 by members of The Jungle Brothers. Tribe begins to record home made demos which are heard by legendary Hip Hop figure Kool DJ Red Alert of the Universal Zulu Nation (also JB’s member Mike Gee’s uncle). Red Alert takes Tribe under his wing, assisting them in landing a demo deal with Geffen Records in 1989. Tribe record a five song demo for the label who pass on signing them, leaving them free to shop the tape elsewhere. They attract offers from other labels, but go with RCA distributed Jive Records based on their past track record with other rap acts such as Boogie Down Productions and Too Short. Having learned how to make beats from Large Professor (Main Source) and recording engineer Shane Faber, Q-Tip puts the tracks together with assistance from Shaheed. They sample from a wide and eclectic mix of jazz, R&B, funk, rock and pop records. The groups unique approach to writing rhymes also stands apart from other rappers, proving to be an excellent compliment and counterpoint to the music. Proceeded by the single “Description Of A Fool”, the album spins off three other singles including “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” (#9 Rap), “Bonita Applebum” (#4 Rap, #56 R&B) and “Can I Kick It?” (#8 Rap). “People’s Instinctive Travels” receives praise from both music critics and within the Hip Hop community for Tribe’s fresh perspective and musical vision. Though just a modest seller at the time, its stature grows in exposure and influence as it is sampled by other artists and discovered by a new generation of fans. For its twenty fifth anniversary in 2015, it is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl, featuring three additional bonus tracks. The same year, Get On Down Records releases a limited edition eight disc vinyl box set, with the full album (plus non-album B-sides) pressed on 7" 45 RPM discs. The set is limited to only 1,000 numbered sets and sells out almost immediately. Due to popular demand, another small run of the set (non-numbered) are released in 2016. “People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number ninety one of the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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THE SURVEY CORPS VETERANS (PT2: THE FORGOTTEN FEW)

Mike Zacharias: Gee thanks for reminding me of his screaming and tears, guidebook. Let’s talk instead about how he laughs through his nose. HEE.
Nanaba: “A young soldier…” I wonder how old she was. Can’t be that young. “Resolve” matches ‘determination’ well I think… I love that they acknowledge that Mike inspires her. Huehue.
Gelgar: “Boozy” though. Facepalms. HE LOVED LIQUOR BUT HE HELD BACK! Poor Gelgar. I’m glad they do have intelligent things to say about him here, though. I’m a little sad that Lynne and Henning weren’t even acknowledged, but…whatever.
Moblit Berner: RETORTS 10/10. MOBLIT U SASSMASTER.
Thomas: A talented rider which is cool… But I totally forgot about him? Yet he’s still alive somewhere… Thomas, where are you? I also vote that he has “biggest mouth” he looks like a titan in that one panel…
Dita Ness: Okay I thought Ness was pretty cute. I’m still bitter.
Ilse Langnar: Her wits score should be lower imo, since she ran around during the daylight with a journal out instead of paying attention to where she was walking. Maybe by that point she didn’t care anymore, though.

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The Jungle Brothers: “It’s A Culture For People of Color”

At last year’s Roots Picnic in New York City, we got the chance to talk to Mike Gee and Afrika Baby Bam from Native Tongues posse, The Jungle Brothers about their thoughts on how Hip-Hop Culture is a BLACK culture.

Peep it!

And listen, excuse the audio but we ain’t traditional! This is some raw hip hop building.

12 DAYS OF SHIPMAS - DAY SIX (MARVEY)

In case you missed the original post, here’s what’s going on.  

And here are all the other stories so far!

I’ll be honest, I’ve been extremely sick the last 24 hours, so I’m quite amazed I was able to get this written and up on time - I blame Mike and Harvey for their indestructible sexual tension.  YES!  Today is Suits day, and I couldn’t be happier.  There isn’t a show on TV without a more obvious couple on (except maybe Supernatural) and I was thrilled to finally have a chance to write these two.  

2K words, no smut.  Picture set by me, though I don’t own the images.  Tagging @ourloveislegendrarry, as well as my favourite Marvey blogs @fionafusuits @fuckyeahmarvey and @harvey-bangs-mike 

***

Six Geese a-Laying

   “You wanted to see me?” Mike asked at the threshold of the dimly lit office.  New York twinkled beyond the floor to ceiling windows that Harvey was currently gazing out of, customary tumbler of whiskey in hand.  Even relaxed and in contemplation he radiated assuredness, and Mike felt his insides squeeze a fraction in awe.  

  He turned and gave a tight-lipped smile to Mike.  “Sure kid, come on in,” he said.  Despite the fact he was pretty sure they were the only ones left on the floor so late at night, Mike closed the door after he stepped inside.  Any excuse to be alone.

 He was always extremely careful when they were in the office never to cross the professional line that they had spent so many years treading.  All that had finally changed, thankfully, when several months ago Mike hadn’t been able to take torturing himself anymore, and had thrown himself at his boss after a heated, drunken argument about their usual pointless bullshit.  He had been pretty certain he was going to get himself fired, but he’d not cared. It was worth it to find out what Harvey tasted like, if only briefly and never again.  

  To his astonishment something had broken in Harvey, as he fisted his hand through Mike’s hair and grabbed the back of his shirt, hauling him in closer and kissing him a like drowning man gasping for air.  Mike had kept telling himself not to be too disappointed, not to read too much into it or get attached, that as Harvey had pulled him into his hotel room that it was going to be a one-time thing and he would be grateful for having it as opposed to the nothing he had ever expected.

  But here they were, almost at the end of the year, and Harvey was still pulling him into his bed.  Pulling him into his life.  

  “Is this about the case for Jessica?” Mike asked, still standing as he waited for an indication from Harvey.  “Because I haven’t had a chance to look at the files yet.”

  After a moment of hesitation, Harvey turned and licked his lips, looking at Mike through his eyelashes.  “Actually,” he said, a hint of reservation in his voice that made Mike nervous.  “I wanted to give you your Christmas present.”

  Several emotions shot through Mike’s chest as he struggled to keep his face neutral. Shock, and then absurd happiness that they were crossing their self-imposed line by discussing something so personal at work.  Fear as to why they were doing it at work. And then finally, shame and panic. “But,” Mike blurted out stupidly. “I thought – I haven’t got your present yet,” he admitted.  He thought he had more time.

  Harvey though smiled at him warmly, and waved his glass at the plush chairs where a wrapped box stood on the coffee table.  “I forgive you,” he said with a smirk.  “Now sit down and open your present.”

  Mike swallowed, unsure, but slid down into the leather seat.  “I could wait?” he said, almost afraid to touch it as Harvey sat opposite him.  “I feel bad.”

  But Harvey bit his lip and leaned forward, the ice rattling in his glass between his knees.  “Don’t feel bad kid,” he said genuinely.  “You know part of the fun for me is getting one up on you.”  He winked, and Mike relaxed a little.  

  “That is true, you old bastard,” he teased, scooting the box over to him and reading the tag.  

  Harvey scoffed.  “Okay,” he said, amused and shaking his head.  “Don’t push your luck.”

  The note simply said “Merry Christmas” on it; nothing more personal or incriminating, such as their names.  But the fact they were doing this at their place of work made up for that, Mike felt.  Like Harvey was defying the firm by doing this out in the open.  There were pretty strict rules about partners sleeping with associates, and it could get them both fired.  But Harvey Specter was never really one for rules.

  “I take it Donna wrapped this,” Mike said, deliberately pushing his luck as he inspected the silver wrapping with purple ribbon.  It was either that or admit how hard his heart was banging in his chest.  

  It had never just been sex between them, not since that first night, or even since they first met.  Mike cared deeply about Harvey, he admired and coveted him and his approval.  But it had not gone unnoticed how Harvey had held Mike after their first time together, how his fingers found any excuse to linger on his skin – even the way he would gruffly fling coffee and the morning paper at him like a he was a nuisance was him showing his particular brand of possessive affection, and Miked loved it all the more.

  He loved Harvey, he knew he did.  But it was much easier to tease and rile him rather than say the words out loud.

  But this ceremonious present giving was making him nervous that they were about to cross another line, personally speaking, and he was ashamed to admit he was afraid.

  It was always a case of taking what he could get from Harvey, and appreciating that it could all be ripped away from him at any given moment.  Harvey was always the one in charge, and if he realised how stupid they were being Mike couldn’t’ blame him for putting an end to it.  So he always held back, just a little, not willing to give himself over fully so he would have something left of himself when it would all inevitably come crashing down.  It was a sort of self-preservation, he guessed.

  But moments like this, where Harvey caught him off guard, always brought his defences up. In case this was the moment of no return, in case this was finally the time he would finally shatter Mike’s heart into a thousand pieces.  

  Harvey took Mike’s barb about Donna wrapping his present with an arched eyebrow.  “What, you think I couldn’t possibly do a good job wrapping a gift?” he quipped.  Mike held the present as if it were fragile, unable to look up at Harvey.

  “No,” he said honestly.  “I just don’t think you’d deign to do something so lowly yourself.”

  “Would you just shut up and open it,” Harvey groused, taking a sip of his drink as Mike laughed, nervously.  So he did, sliding his fingers along the creases and ripping the paper noisily in the quietness of the office.  Inside was…another box.

  “Gee,” Mike said sardonically as he pulled the second smaller box out, wrapped again in silver.  “Just what I always wanted.”

  “Okay,” said Harvey in defeat.  “This may have been Donna’s idea, so you can give her a hard time about it later. Just…keep going.”

  After a moment of paused intrigue, Mike looked back from Harvey and tore into the fresh paper, lifting the lid and unsurprisingly finding another wrapped box. This went on for two more layers, with Harvey looking on in amusement as Mike got more and more flustered, before finally he reached a small, unwrapped box that he knew instinctively was the real present.

  He paused, turning it over in his fingers.  “Go on kid,” Harvey urged.  That was the third time he’d called him kid since he’d arrived.  He was nervous.  

  It was this that gave Mike the courage to open the last box.  He wanted to alleviate Harvey’s worries, even if he himself was practically shaking in apprehension.  But he was surprised to see that all that lay inside the box was a simple key, and he fished it out to frown down at it.  “It’s a key?” he said, aware of how dumb he sounded.

  “Nothing gets past you, does it?” replied Harvey, and Mike looked up finally to see how tense he was.  What kind of key could make Harvey Specter tense?

  And then it hit him.  His eyes snapped back down, and he almost didn’t dare breath.  It couldn’t be, could it?  “What’s it a key for?” Mike asked, striving to keep his voice even.  

  “What do you think?” Harvey replied.  Of course he was going to make him say it.  There was no going back from this if he was wrong.  

  He licked his lips and took a steadying breath.  “It’s…a key to your place?” he said, unable to keep the question from framing his words.  

  Harvey just gave him a single nod, and hope and exhilaration exploded through Mike’s chest like the God-damn Fourth of July.  “We talked about you spending Christmas at mine,” Harvey explained.  “And I figured this would be easier than me having to babysit you.”

  A key to Harvey’s flat – he was being intrusted with Harvey’s home.  Mike felt a lump rise in his throat, and he coughed it away.  “Thank you,” he stammered.  “I uh, that’s great.”

  “But?”

  Mike looked up sheepishly.  He could never fool Harvey.  “But why now? Why not when I come over on Christmas Eve, and have your present to give you back?”

  Harvey chuckled affectionately.  “What’s the obsession with giving presents at the same time?” he asked.

  Mike rubbed the back of his neck and tried not to let his emotions creep out.  “Because you always give me so much,” he said. “I wanted a chance to give you something back.”

  He risked looking over at Harvey, who put his drink down and laced his fingers together between his knees.  “Well, lucky for you,” he said measuredly.  “That is my present from you.”

  “How?” Mike breathed, not daring to let himself hope.  But Harvey’s eyes were wide with vulnerable sincerity, and he couldn’t help himself.  “How is this my present to you?”

  Harvey didn’t blink.  He just held Mike’s gaze for what seemed like forever.  “It is…if you wanted to move your stuff in in time for the holidays?”

  Mike’s vision went entirely white as he took the split-second to process what Harvey had said.  When it returned, he dropped his gaze back to the innocuous looking key held precariously between his fingers.  “You want me to move in with you?” he whispered around the solid lump in his throat, unable to stop the wetness collecting behind his eyes.  

  “Yes,” said Harvey firmly and simply.  “I want you to be home for Christmas.”

  Home. Home.  He wanted Mike to share his home.  He wanted it to be their bed and their coffee cups and a million other stupid things that would be theirs.  He wanted Mike to come home.

  Without a word, Mike stood and walked around the table, not stumbling but with purpose as he reached Harvey and folded into his lap, glass door be damned.  He buried his face into Harvey’s neck and shivered as strong fingers ran up his back, as lips pressed against his hair.  “Is this what you really want?” he mumbled, and in response Harvey pulled him in tighter.

  “Yes,” he said determinedly.  “I want you in my life.  I want you to be there every morning when I wake up, I want your God-damn bike in my lobby and your toothbrush and ties next to mine.  But,” he said, inhaling deeply as Mike shifted in his lap to look at him. “Only if that’s what you want?”

  “Yes,” Mike replied immediately, before hungrily kissing his lips several times.  “Yes, please, that’s what I want.”

  Harvey let himself be kissed, his fingers carding through Mike’s hair as he leaned even further into him.  He had been so terrified of falling all the way for Harvey, he hadn’t once let himself consider how good it might feel.  It was freeing and wondrous, and he hoped it would never end.  

  After a time, Harvey pulled back and ran his hand along the side of Mike’s tearful face. He wasn’t even embarrassed, for once he wanted to be completely honest about what Harvey meant to him.  “What do you say kid?” he asked, prising Mike’s fingers open from where they had clamped so hard over the key they had left a red imprint.  “How about we go home?”

  Mike nodded, his hand entwining with Harvey’s the key pressed between them.  “I think that sounds perfect.”

 End

I get emotional sometimes when I talk about this band. Most people don’t understand it or think that I’m just a mega fan. Now don’t get me wrong this is true. But that’s not why I get so emotional over them. My chemical romance SAVED my life. A lot of people say that. I can’t say anything about another person. But I was going to kill myself. I planned it. I could have done it easily. And what’s crazy is I was surrounded by people who knew and loved me. That day when I was going to do it. And no one knew. That’s how good I am at hiding things. I was so close to the edge. So close to ending it. But in my earbuds that day. “Forget about the dirty looks, the photographs your boyfriend took, you say you read me like a book but the pages all are torn and frayed. I’m.. O.. Kay.. I’M OKAYYYYY. IM OK NOWWWW, but you really need to listen to me, I mean it! I’m TELLING YOU THE TRUTH (trust me) IM NOT OKAY, IM NOT OKAYYYYYY” over and over these lyrics screamed and called out at me. They kept me sane that day. They saved me. People write music off or just say “oh it’s a kid that’s too attached to some famous band” well for me it’s more than that. To me the four guys. Gerard, Mikey, Ray, and Frank. They saved my life. And Gerard. He’s such an inspiration to me. I spoke with him briefly. Just once. I would give anything to talk to him again and thank him. And actually have a REAL conversation with him. He’s amazing. An imperfect human like myself. But amazing nonetheless. Thank you gee. Thank you my chemical romance. I wouldn’t be here if not for you guys. I owe you my life literally.