Pretty hard to write this without a picture-they are worth many words, you know-but the pictulotar device is not working, so I will persevere. Popeye The Sailor. Now there was a man with a unique view of the world and a way of explaining his thoughts that was every bit as singular. In my time, I have only met one man who was able to speak in that rambling parenthetical manner one associates with the feisty blue jacket and he was crazy as in keep away crazy.
This post is really not about Popeye or sailing for that matter. It springs from a nearly forgotten Popeye-ism where the sailor is strolling about the poorer quarters of some port city talking to himself while committing random acts of kindness or punishment on a case by case basis. In other words, nothing worthy of spinach, Looking back, it is quite amazing how the sailor man puts things right; he might help a mama cat get her kittens safely across a busy street and then with the wisdom of Solomon and strength of Goliath divide half a ton of scrap mental over which two junkmen were going to war. All pretty common popeye fare, these mini advents would soon lead to some intolerable situation where after some posturing and pipe spinning he would announce he had all he could stand ("cause I can't stands no more") and out would come the outsize can of spinach and down would go the villain. All these Thimble Theatrics have put me in mind of a single moment where, on one of his walks, Popeye allows "Here comes a guy what thinks he's a fighter" and sure enough down the path comes a man wearing boxing trunks and boxing shoes plus, he is shadow boxing, snorting, bobbing and weaving and in short he looks like a fighter. Without any fuss at all, Popeye knocks the guy cold and goes on his way. Odd that may seem, yet I have since taken that bit of animated metaphor to mean we should not try to present ourselves in past light. For instance, were I to be seen at play through the telescope of a planet 30 light years distant that vision would show solid entertainment to anyone who cared for the style, yet were I to beat the clock of ages and step on that stage tomorrow well, I would might get some spinach and some rotten tomatoes as well. I still have something to give, but it is far removed from what went before.
A point? Oh I am just reading and thinking about popular musicians of my day. The ones who should be long settled into a life of good times and good works, but suddenly pop up with projects of dubious value in an attempt to hold to something that often, at best, was but a wrinkle in the popular fabric of the day. I guess it falls on the old spike, "it's the singer, not the song" for a person who is trained in music and fills a billet as a musician can go on to the end of his or her forever, while the one who "cut the grass" for a season or two wants a return to that memorable meadow. (note to self: write "If horses were salmon...") I fear we have allowed the labels musician and entertainer to merge and, if we have, it is a pity because they seem to be heading this way and Popeye has vanished.