Anonymous yet personal, this Blog chronicles
the daily events and musings of Jim.
It provides an easy way for his friends and family to check in on him,
and serves as a online repository for his random
thoughts, kaleidoscopic flashbacks, and writings on an array of diverse topics.
“Deconstructing Jim” is simply here to
entertain you, but not intended for college credit.

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Chapel Hill, NC, United States

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Remembering Moondog

Today's flashback concerns my memory of a fascinating person known as "Moondog."

At first glance, he appeared to be a harmless, crazy, blind, homeless person who obsessively hung out at 53rd street on 6th avenue in Manhattan. Even in the hot summer he was often seen wearing his self-made Viking suit and trademark horned helmet. I don't remember hearing him perform, but he was a regular street musician and had some strange looking home-made instruments.

Moondog had graced the streets of Manhattan since 1940.  Office workers working that highly congested area of town would have walked past him on a daily basis. Over time, he became a normal fixture, and by the time I saw him in the late 1960's he had gained some notoriety. He was referred to as "The Viking of 6th Avenue."

Later I learned that he was a poet, philosopher, and composer of some note. His music had been performed, and he had a record out on a major recording label. Moondog was known by both jazz and classical musicians, and made an impact in both areas.

I've heard some of his music, and suspect that it stems from various tribal and earthy roots. Moondog most likely had freely adopted elements of Native American music - such as drumming and chanting - into his songs. He originally came from Kansas.

Around 1974 he departed his perch on 53rd street, and moved to Germany where he made a new home and died there in 1999.

While I am not a Moondog scholar, I do find his life fascinating, and I'm glad to have seen him in person and up close in NYC.

And there is an authorized biography (with a CD of Moondog's music) by Robert Scotto...