Norbert Fragg: Parlous and Bagdad Black

Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003 22:16:15 EDT
From: Bknt at aol dot com
Subject: Norbert Fragg: Parlous and Bagdad Black

Norbert Fragg: Parlous and Bagdad Black

The possibility that Norbert Fragg would not finish his tour with Thing Dismal was considered a bitter confection until your humble correspondent learned the uncouth truth: that what we imagined to be our Norbert, cowering and cringing behind his stack of electronic devices as flash photography vied to pop him off his stool, was, in fact, a fiction! Through the use of Microsoft's new Dopplegigster, a software package invented by Fraggish soulmate David Doubleton that permits musicians to be anything but what they are, Fragg was able to duplicate himself! Yes, what frivolous fans believed was a concertizing presence of the true Fragg was a mere digitized enchantment: a virtual, but not exactly virtuous copy of the shirking, if no longer lurking guitarist: an anti-Fragg that exhibited all the delightful quirks, preposterous despondence, verbose correspondence, hotel interior design redundance, caffeinated mood swings and a wholly uncharacteristic tendency toward autography when interminably detained by a troop of Italian fans who saw through the mustachioed encrustation of cappuccino foam adhering to his philtrum, and shouted, "Freeg! Freeg!"

What, then, was the fate of the real and true Norbert? Since confessing his astounding psychic proclivity to identify Vicious Violating Tendencies That Might Not Exist But Should, Fragg found himself gassed and kidnappedajust like the eternally eye-brow arching Patrick McGoohan ("I am not a number! I am a free man!") of the beloved Prisoner TV series. Transported by British Air's new stealth mumbo jumbo airbus jet, with a passenger at his side who made unceasingly horrendous nasal snorts throughout the entire flight, our Norbert, upon arrival, was forced to don a black sport jacket with contrasting white piping, smartly pressed brown gabardine trousers and soft soled athletic shoes, and compelled to strut the dusty boulevards, war-torn by-ways and rocket-propelled grenade overlooks of scenic Bagdad, in search of salvation of Tony Blair's political future.

Was it the very Blair who, upon reading of Mr. Fragg's numbing response to Blair's delight in the FraggaBleeting Sour collaborative ditty 21st Century Peroxide Blonde, commanded that the former mobile intelligent unit serve queen and country in a quest for Vicious Devices That Haven't Existed Until Now But Had Better Turn Up Soon? We have only the enigmatic Fraggment from the secret diaries, discovered in an Iraqi lost luggage rack, to verify the impossible possibility: Hotel Incomprehensible, Might-as-Well-Bag-it-Dude Having tried in vain to secure an Ethernet port, the abducted gigster again contemplates the hubris of revealing his psychic talents. The ability to identify vampiric photographers in a concert setting, whether or not these photographers possess cameras and know how to use them, should have remained a secret. Sir Bardo Paunchy, my MI-6 "contact," assures me that the difference between a smuggled camera obscura and a ludicrously lethal WMD is "a matter of degree" and that all I have to do is find one measly WMD and I will be returned to my wretched persistence.

It would seem that Sir Paunchy's definitions are exceedingly exact. He has chosen to disregard my extra sensory identifications of Women with Massive Derrieres and the occasional Mighty Decolletages. Weirdly Mendacious Dentists, Waxed Moustaches from Denmark and a single Whirling Muslim Dervish have not paid the freight. What Monsters have Determined is worth contemplating. Thus, the search continues for unacceptable excuses for what otherwise would be recognized as an abomination of reckless human greed. The impulses that inspire photographers to violate a request for audient decorum, as well as the venality that compels the most powerful English-speaking nations to squander what had been an honorable idealistic heritage to satisfy the venal lusts of the petroleum industry, share a terrifying synchronicity.

Alas, a cafe beckons, on a blasted heath in what has been called the cradle of civilization. The purloined gigster momentarily abandons his mission for what Francesco Zappa, in a moment of weakness and strength, may have referred to as a Vile Foamy Liquid, that, in this demolished nation, is served with grace and, in the face of such unreasonable suffering, bravado. At least, in this faraway land, where the palms of my hands are not damp with expectancy, I am not compelled to be anything other than what I am: a visitor who wishes that his presence will not wound the already injured, who trusts that the music of human kindness might heal what has been brutally torn asunder.

Thus the cappuccino-fortified gigster leaves a generous lagniappe, and departs, ironically, if not laconically, quoting the I Ching to the Iraqi gentleman who has invested his future in preparing coffee in the manner of his conquerors:

"Pleasure shared is pleasure doubled."

Bill Kent

Mike Stok