Lenny Bruce and our History of Resonances

excerpt: “History of the Groove, book three” Russell Buddy Helm ©2014 all rights reserved

History of Resonances. We all seem to have them. They go beyond time and space and inhabit our dark world; the unknowable. That is why the drum was invented; to articulate the mystery without using words that limit.

1968. “The Essential Lenny Bruce” was an important paperback for me as I slouched in the back of the Theater Arts course at University of South Florida. My first session. Suddenly a blonde energetic smiling clever beauty came gliding in, late and laughing. She joked with the chunky bearded professor who went all agog at her good looks and clever mind. He fell in love in about two seconds. I ignored it. The whole “college to get out of the draft thing” was uncomfortable. I would have preferred to focus on music; the band I had now was pretty busy. A local business man had chosen us as his pet music project. We rehearsed in the lunch room at his clothing factory. He block booked a recording studio and put us in it for three months; we finished an album, I shot movies of the whole amazing event. But I wanted more. I wanted a hit. And I wanted a band who could play, really play.

I put Lenny’s paperback in the right hip pocket of my slacks. I didn’t own a pair of blue jeans.  Little did I suspect that I would become intensely involved with Lenny Bruce’s manager, involving hit records, dolphins and murder in less than five years. Coincidence? That explains nothing. Harmonic resonances affect us in ways that we are just beginning to suspect. I see it in the drum. I used to drum and get work. It was that simple. Then time passes and patterns emerge. Echoes of other times and places and loves become dominant. Grooves change. But the ability to conjure using the simple sacred grooves is a skill that few drummers really understand, let alone use.

Resonance is vibrations. Vibrations are rhythms. Grooves can be like living entities. They make things happen and they respond to things that are happening outside of our vocabulary of literal definitions.

I could not fathom that the woman who had just arrived was there for me. She would get a hold of me, give me drugs for the first time in  my life, sexually appropriate me, brainwash me, trick me into interrogation scenarios using campus psychology staff,  then take me to CIA in DC as a recruit for antiwar undercover spying; undercover as a rock star drummer.

“Mom?” I asked her, a year earlier, back in high school, as she sat in the Florida room, enjoying a read of the Sunday St. Petersburg Times. She deserved this respite after much effort and travail; arriving here was acceptable and good. “What did my father do?”

She answered automatically, precisely, with no hesitation. “He was in Naval Intelligence and he worked with rockets.” She revealed absolutely nothing else. But it only hinted at the depth that was not being spoken. “Did  you love him?” The paper trembled. “Everyone is entitled to that much bliss at least once in their lives…. I would have jumped off a cliff for that guy.” I went back into my bedroom then and put away the scrapbooks of rockets and newspaper clippings about spies, deep down in a bottom drawer and tried to forget about them. It was not a welcome subject.

My older ‘college girlfriend’ used the music; “Don’t make promises you can’t keep” by Tim Hardin, over and over while we thrashed and lay in bed. Arthur Lee and Love, Holey Modal Rounders. An education for me. Unknown by me, she was programming Pavlovian responses. I would behave how she wanted me to behave. She pinned me down on the couch and shaved off my goatee. She didn’t like it. I couldn’t move while this happened. She was directing the show. Coincidence that she had picked me out of everyone in the class to do a project with? That explains nothing. I had wanted to be in the CIA when I was younger. It felt right. My father’s business. I studied the things that were called Tradecraft from an early age. They were talents needed for espionage. Martial arts led me to Alan Watts and Zen, and Chinese medicine, meditation. These felt right. More right.

These interests might have been typical for a lot of young men of that era, but one other element of my accumulated resonances seemed utterly unique; the psychic skills. They were the most exciting and elusive.

Theorists speculate psychic talents can appear after a person has experienced great trauma. Well then….that could be all of us. If you were born, you have delayed stress…But there are terrible events that resonate through our lives like a gong that will not die out. Or a gong that has yet to be played but knows it will.

Rudi was a French Viet Namese martial arts instructor.  I had tagged his assistant teacher at the Clearwater dojo during a test for a belt upgrade; kicking and hitting him simultaneously. “How did you do that?” the assistant instructor asked. “Oh yeah…You’re a drummer.” I hesitated to tell him that my lead singer was having an affair with his girlfriend; that would have muddied the waters. I was gifted with timing, long arms and legs but not able to use the killer instincts; lacked the will to kill. In reality there was so much anger in the way, that it was impossible for this young man to allow himself to be that powerful…or that calloused. He was becoming aware amidst the training to break bones, that building a connection to the ineffable was important and it gave him a sense of peace in a world of threat.

But the circle of resonances and paradox would come back around in reasoning like: “A good spy needs to be psychic…”

It was a bruising kind of love, partly as a result of my daily intake of Mu Tea and Ginseng in keeping with my calling to be a zen monk drummer, continually keeping me in a state of readiness for my unrevealed recruiter / lover. “How can you be like that even when you’re asleep?” She chided. I was focused on learning Bushido when I could have been noticing how wacked out this ‘State Department Brat’ as she called herself, really was. But then wacked out women were what I grew up with. I knew the feel and sound of that resonance. But this woman, my first girlfriend out of high school was running an agenda that I could not anticipate or even imagine. It went all the way back to a favor my father had done for some old friends back in nineteen fifty three; the year he was killed, when I was four and a half years old.

Excerpt: “History of the Groove, Book three” Russell Buddy Helm ©2014 all rights reserved

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