The Cat's Dreams About Coney Island (Kocourovy sny o Coney Islandu)

by Abbé Brémond Ensemble

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Cat's Dreams About Coney Island
Hommage to Emily Neville

(Cat's Dreams About Coney Island is the first album by Abbé Brémond Ensemble.)
Sound collage integrating read passages from the jazz novel "It's Like This, Cat" by Emily Neville from 1963 with electroacoustic compositions composed by Ká in summer and autumn 2003 (forty years after publishing the book). Ká primaly meant to illustrate the novel by large soundscape (to make a soundtrack for it) but finally decided for more accessible fusion of text in reliable vocal reproduction with individual compositions, and to portrait New York of beatniks, runaway cats and finders of beauty twice.
Vocal part of collage is based on the poetics of slip. It's a way to accent narrative character of epic literature. Such an interpretation is characterized by more suggestive expresivity and it refers to spontaneous, unprepared discourse and polarize the perfect written text. The question of timeless and temporal, stable and passing, deliberate and unintended enters between them. Complicated distinction between these dichotomies in the context of art is made more dubious.

Kocourovy sny o Coney Islandu
Pocta Emily Neville

(Kocourovy sny o Coney Islandu jsou první album Abbé Brémond Ensemble. Po jeho první soukromé edici vyšlo i oficiálně u labelu Ears and Wind Records.)
Zvuková koláž spojující čtené pasáže z jazzového románu Emily Neville Tak je to, kocoure (It’s Like This, Cat) z roku 1963 s elektroakustickými kompozicemi, které složil čtyřicet let po jeho prvním vydání (léto-podzim 2003) Ká. Jeho původním úmyslem bylo knihu zvukově ilustrovat (vytvořit k ní jakýsi soundtrack, jednu rozsáhlou, členitou skladbu), nakonec se však rozhodl pro přístupnější fúzi věrohodně reprodukovaného textu se samostatnými skladbami, a dvojmo tak portrétovat New York beatníků, toulavých kocourů a hledačů krásy.
Vokální složka koláže vychází z poetiky přeřeknutí, jíž lze vhodně zdůraznit vyprávěcí povahu epiky. Nese s sebou působivější expresivitu, odkazuje k spontánnímu, nepřipravenému projevu a cíleně polarizuje psaný – bezchybný – text. Mezi něj a sebe vpouští otázku nadčasového a časového, trvalého a pomíjivého, záměrného a nezáměrného. Jejich komplikované rozlišení v kontextu umělecké tvorby je tak ještě více znejistěno.

Information about ensemble:


released March 31, 2015

Conception, music and all instruments played by Ká: radio (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16), guitar (2, 10, 14), zither (6), upright piano (8), flute (12)
vocal by Jerzy Stanisław Baczonyi (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15)
Lyrics: passages from the novel It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville (in translation by Jitka Minaříková) (originaly published in Albatros, Prague in 1973)
All the lyrics is published here in English original (in the individual tracks with spoken word parts).

Music was recorded in the atelier LEN in the summer and autumn 2003.
Voice was recorded in Roman Kolliner's cellar studio in Cat's Street on Břevnov, Prague 18th March 2004.

Koncepci vytvořil, hudbu složil a všechny nástroje nahrál Ká: rádio (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16), akustická kytara (2, 10, 14), citera (6), pianino (8), flétna (12). Pasáže přečetl Jerzy Stanisław Baczonyi (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15).
Texty: pasáže z románu It's Like This, Cat (Tak je to, Kocoure) od Emily Neville (v překladu Jitky Minaříkové) (původně vydáno v nakladatelství Albatros, Praha v roce 1973)

Hudba byla nahrána v ateliéru LEN v létě a na podzim 2003.
Hlas byl nahrán ve sklepním studiu Romana Kollinera v Kocourově ulici na Břevnově v Praze 18. března 2004.



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Collective publishing project of a few kindred musicians, flowing outside (on periphery or in underground) the Czech music happening and mostly devoted themselves to alternative rock or avantgarde music. Stylistically diverse is united by a similar attitude to music perceived not as a medium, but as the way, autonomous and eminently participating on our lifes, on our road. ... more

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Track Name: The Cat and Coney I.
(English original)
We got up to Central Park and into a place they call The Horseshoe,
because the parking area is that shape. I opened the lid a crack to look
at Cat. He hissed at me, the first time he ever did. I looked around and
thought, Gee, if I let him loose, he could go anywhere, even over into the
woods, and I might never catch him. There were a lot of hoody looking kids
around, and I could see if I ever left my bike a second to chase Cat,
they'd snatch the bike. So I didn't let Cat out, and I wolfed my sandwich
and we went home. Nick was pretty disgusted.

Then we hit a hot Saturday, the first one in May, and I get an idea. I
find Nick and say, "Let's put Cat and some sandwiches in the basket and
hop the subway out to Coney."

Nick says, "Why bring Cat? He wrecked the last expedition."

"I like to take him places, and this won't be like Central Park. No one's
at Coney this time of year. He can chase around on the beach and hunt sand

"Why do I have to have a nut for a friend?" Nick moans. "Well, anyway, I'm
keeping my sandwich in my pocket, not in any old cat basket."

"Who cares where you keep your crumby sandwich?"

So we went. Lots of people might think Coney Island is ugly, with all the
junky-looking booths and billboards. But when you turn your back on them
and look out at the ocean, it's the same ocean as on a deserted beach. I
kick off my shoes and stand with my feet in the ice water and the sun hot
on my chest. Looking out at the horizon with its few ships and some sea
gulls and planes overhead, I think: It's mine, all mine. I could go
anywhere in the world, I could. Maybe I will.

Nick throws water down my neck. He only understands infinity on math
papers. I let Cat out of the basket and strip off my splashed shirt and
chase Nick along the edge of the water. No need to worry about Cat. He
chases right along with us, and every time a wave catches his feet he
hisses and hightails it up the beach. Then he rolls himself in the hot,
dry sand and gets up and shakes. There are a few other groups of people
dotted along the beach. A big mutt dog comes and sniffs Cat and gets a
right and a left scratch to the nose. He yelps and runs for home. Cat
discovers sand crabs. Nick and I roll around in the sand and wrestle, and
after a while we get hungry, so we go back where we left the basket. Cat
is content to let me carry him.

Three girls are having a picnic right near our basket. One yells to the
others, "Hey, look! The guy went swimming with his cat!"

Cat jumps down, turns his back on them, and humps himself around on my
sweater until he is settled for a nap. I turn my back on the girls, too,
and look out at the ocean.
Track Name: The Cat and Coney II.
(English original)
Still, it's not the same as it would have been a year ago. Then Nick and I
would either have moved away from the girls or thrown sand at them.

We just sit and eat our sandwiches. Nick looks over at them pretty often
and whispers to me how old do I think they are. I can't tell about girls.
Some of the ones in our class at school look about twenty-five, but then
you see mothers pushing baby carriages on the street who look about

One of the girls catches Nick's eye and giggles. "Hi, there, whatcha

"I'm a bird watcher," says Nick. "Seen any birds?"

The girls drift over our way. The one that spoke first is a redhead. The
one who seems to be the leader is a big blonde in a real short skirt and
hair piled up high in a bird's nest. Maybe that's what started Nick
bird-watching. The third girl is sort of quiet-looking, with brown hair, I

"You want a couple of cupcakes? You can have mine. I'm going on a diet,"
says the blonde.

"Thanks," says Nick. "I was thinking of going after some cokes."

"Why waste time thinking? You might hurt your head," says the redhead.

The third girl bends down and strokes Cat between the ears very gently.
She says, "What's his name?"

I explain to her about why Cat is Cat. She sits down and picks up a piece
of seaweed to dangle over his nose. Cat makes a couple of sleepy swipes at
it and then stretches luxuriously while she strokes him. The other kids
get to talking, and we tell each other our names and where we go to school
and all that stuff.

Then Nick gets back on the subject of going for cokes. I don't really want
to stay there alone with the girls, so I say I'll go. I tell Nick to watch
Cat, and the girl who is petting him says, "Don't worry, I won't let him
run away."

It's a good thing she's there, because by the time I get back with the
cokes, which no one offers to pay me back for, Nick and the other two
girls are halfway down the beach. Mary-that's her name-says, "I never saw
a cat at the beach before, but he seems to like it. Where'd you get him?"

"He's a stray. I got him from an old lady who's sort of a nut about cats.
Come on, I'll see if I can get him to chase waves for you. He was doing it
Track Name: The Cat and Coney III.
(English original)
We are running along in the waves when the other kids come back. The big
blonde kicks up water at me and yells, "Race you!"

So I chase, and just as I'm going to catch up, she stops short so I crash
into her and we both fall down. This seems to be what she had in mind, but
I bet the other kids are watching and I feel silly. I roll away and get up
and go back to Cat.

While we drink cokes the blonde and the redhead say they want to go to the

"What's on?" Nick asks.

"There's a Sinatra thing at the neighborhood," the blonde tells him, and
he looks interested.

"I can't," I say. "I've got Cat. Besides, it's too late. Mom'd think I'd
fallen into the subway."

"I told you that cat was a mistake," says Nick.

"Put him in the basket and call your mother and tell her your watch
stopped," says the redhead. She comes over and trickles sand down my neck.
"Come on, it'd be fun. We don't have to sit in the kids' section. We all
look sixteen."

"Nah, I can't." I get up and shake the sand out.

Nick looks disgusted, but he doesn't want to stay alone. He says to the
blonde, "Write me down your phone number, and we'll do it another day when
this nut hasn't got his cat along."

She writes down the phone number, and the redhead pouts because I'm not
asking for hers. The girls get ready to leave, and Mary pats Cat good-bye
and waves to me. She says, "Bring him again. He's nice."

We get on the subway and Cat meows crossly at being shut in his basket.
Nick pokes the basket with his toes.

"Shut up, nuisance," he says.
Track Name: West Side Story I.
(English Original)
The regular park man got sunstroke or something, so I earned fourteen
dollars raking and mowing in Gramercy Park in the middle of August.
Gramercy Park is a private park. You have to own a key to get in, so the
city doesn't take care of it.

Real paper money, at this time of year especially, is very cheering. I
head up to Sam Goody's to see what records he's got on sale and what
characters are buying them. Maybe I'll buy something, maybe not, but as
long as I've got money in my pocket, I don't feel like the guy is glaring
at me for taking up floor space.

Along the way I walk through the library, the big one at Forty-second
Street. You go in by the lions on Fifth Avenue, and there's all kinds of
pictures and books on exhibit in the halls, and you walk through to the
back, where you can take out books. It's nice and cool, and nobody glares
at you unless you either make a lot of noise or go to sleep. I can take
books out of here and return them at the Twenty-third Street branch, which
is handy.

Sam Goody's is air-conditioned, so it's cool too. There are always several
things playing on different machines you can listen to. Almost the most
fun is watching the people: little, fat, bald guys buying long-haired
classical music, and thin, shaggy beatniks listening to the jazz.

I go to check if there are any bargains in the Kingston or Belafonte
division. There's a girl standing there reading the backs of records, but
I don't really catch a look at more than her shoes-little red flats they
are. After a bit she reaches for a record over my head and says, "Excuse

"Sure." Then we catch each other's eye and both say, "Oh. Gee, hello."

Well, we're both pretty surprised, because this is the girl I met out at
Coney Island that day with Nick when I had Cat with me, and now we're both
a long way from Coney Island. This girl isn't one of the two giggly ones.
It's the third, the one that liked Cat.

We've both forgotten each other's names, so we begin over with that. I ask
her what she's been doing, and she's been at Girl Scout camp a few weeks,
and then she earned some money baby-sitting. So she came to think about
records, like me. I tell her I've been at Coney once this summer, and I
looked around for her, which is true, because I did.

"It's a big place," she says, smiling.
Track Name: West Side Story II.
(English Original)
picks up the record of _West Side Story_ and says, "Gee, I'd like to see
that. Did you?"

I say No, and to tell the truth I hadn't hardly heard of it.

"I read a book about him. It was wonderful," she says.


"Bernstein. The man who wrote it."

"What's _West Side Story_ about, him?" I ask cautiously.

"No, no-he wrote the music. It's about some kids in two gangs, and there's
a lot of dancing, and then there's a fight and this kid gets-well, it
isn't a thing you can tell the story of very well. You have to see it."

This gives me a very simple idea.

"Why don't we?" I say.


"Go see it. Why not? We got money."

"So we do," she says slowly. "You think they'll let us in, I mean being
under sixteen?"

You know, this is the first girl I really ever talked to that talks like a
person, not trying to be cute or something.

We walk around to the theater, and being it's Wednesday, there's a matinee
about to start. The man doesn't seem to be one bit worried about taking
our money. No wonder. It's two dollars and ninety cents each. So we're
inside with our tickets before we've hardly stopped to think.

Suddenly Mary says, "Oops! I better call Mom! Let's find out what time the
show is over."

We do, and Mary phones. She says to me, "I just told her I was walking
past _West Side Story_ and found I could get a ticket. I didn't say
anything about you."

"Why, would she mind?"

Mary squints and looks puzzled. "I don't know. I just really don't know.
It never happened before."

We go in to the show, and she is right, it's terrific. I hardly ever went
to a live show before, except a couple of children's things and something
by Shakespeare Pop took me to that was very confusing. But this _West Side
Story_ is clear as a bell.

We have an orangeade during intermission, and I make the big gesture and
pay for both of them. Mary says, "Isn't it wonderful! I just happened to
meet you at the beach, and then I meet you at Goody's, and we get to see
this show that I've wanted to go to for ages. None of my friends at school
want to spend this much money on a show."

"It's wonderful," I say. "After it's over, I'm going back to buy the

So after the show we buy it, and then we walk along together to the
subway. I'll have to get off at the first stop, Fourteenth Street, and
she'll go on to Coney, the end of the line.

It's hard to talk on the subway. There's so much noise you have to shout,
which is hard if you don't know what to say. Anyway, you can't ask a girl
for her phone number shouting on the subway. At least I can't.

I'm not so sure about the phone-number business either. I sort of can't
imagine calling up and saying, "Oh, uh, Mary, this is Dave. You want to go
to a movie or something, huh?" It sounds stupid, and I'd be embarrassed.
What she said, it's true-it's sort of wonderful the way we just ran into
each other twice and had so much fun.

So I'm wondering how I can happen to run into her again. Maybe the beach,
in the fall. Let's see, a school holiday-Columbus Day.

The train is pulling into Fourteenth Street. I shout, "Hey, how about we
go to the beach again this fall? Maybe Columbus Day?"

"O.K.!" she shouts. "Columbus Day in the morning."
Track Name: Left Bank of Coney I.
(English Original)
Coney Island is made to be crowded and noisy. All the billboards scream at
you, as if they had to get your attention. So when the place is empty, it
looks like the whole thing was a freak or an accident.

It's sure empty today. There's practically no one on the street in the
five or six blocks from the subway station to the aquarium. But it's not
quiet. There are a few places open-merry-go-rounds and hot-dog shops-and
tinny little trickles of music come out of them, but the big noise is the
wind. All the signs are swinging and screeching. Rubbish cans blow over
and their tops clang and bang rolling down the street. The wind makes a
whistling noise all by itself.

I lean into the wind and walk up the empty street. My sweater is about as
warm as a sieve. I wonder if I'm crazy to have come. No girl would get out
on a boardwalk on a day like this. It must be practically a hurricane.

She's there, though. As soon as I turn the corner to the beach, I can see
one figure, with its back to the ocean, scarf and hair blowing inland
toward me. I can't see her face, but it's Mary, all right. There isn't
another soul in sight. I wave and she hunches her shoulders up and down to
semaphore, not wishing to take her hands out of her pockets.

I come up beside her on the boardwalk and turn my back to the ocean, too.
I'd like to go on looking at it-it's all black and white and thundery-but
the wind blows your breath right back down into your stomach. I freeze.

"I was afraid you wouldn't come on a day like this," I say.

"Me too. I mean I was afraid _you_ wouldn't."

"Mom and Pop thought I was crazy. I spent about an hour arguing with them.
What'd your mother say?"

"Nothing. She thinks I'm walking alone with the wind in my hair, thinking
poetic thoughts."

"Huh? What for?"

Mary shrugs. "Mom's like that. You'll see. Come on, let's go home and make
cocoa or something to warm up, and then we'll think up something to do. We
can't just stand here."

She's right about that, so I don't argue. Her house is a few blocks away,
a two-family type with a sloped driveway going down into a cellar garage.
Neat. My pop is always going nuts hunting for a place to park.
Track Name: Left Bank of Coney II.
(English original)
Mary goes in and shouts, "Hi, Nina! I brought a friend home. We're going
to make some cocoa. We're freezing."

I wonder who Nina is. I don't hear her mother come into the kitchen. Then
I turn around and there she is. Holy crow! We got some pretty beat-looking
types at school, but this is the first time I've ever seen a beatnik

She's got on a black T-shirt and blue jeans and old sneakers, and her hair
is in a long braid, with uneven bangs in front.

Mary waves a saucepan vaguely at us both and says, "Nina-Davey-this is my

So Nina is her mother. I stick out my hand. "Uh-how do you do?"

"Hel-looo." Her voice is low and musical. "I think there is coffee on the

"I thought I'd make cocoa for a change," says Mary.

"All right." Nina puts a cigarette in her mouth and offers one to me.

I say, "No, thank you."

"Tell me...." She talks in this low, intense kind of voice. "Are you in
school with Mary?"

So I tell her I live in Manhattan, and how I ran into Mary when I had Cat
on the beach, because that makes it sound sort of respectable, not like a
pickup. But she doesn't seem to be interested in Cat and the beach.

"What do you _read_? In your school?" she asks, launching each question
like a torpedo.

I remember Mary saying something about her mother and poetry, so I say,
"Well, uh-last week we read 'The Highwayman' and 'The Wreck of the
Hesperus.' They're about-I mean, we were studying metaphors and similes.
Looking at the ocean today, I sure can see what Longfellow meant about the

I thought I was doing pretty well, but she cut me off again.

"Don't you read any _real_ poetry? Donne? Auden? Baudelaire?"

Three more torpedoes. "We didn't get to them yet."

Nina blows out a great angry cloud of smoke and explodes, "Schools!" Then
she sails out of the kitchen.

I guess I look a little shook up. Mary laughs and shoves a mug of cocoa
and a plate of cinnamon toast in front of me. "Don't mind Mother. She just
can't get used to New York schools. Or Coney Island. Or hardly anything
around here.

"She grew up on the Left Bank in Paris. Her father was an artist and her
mother was a writer, and they taught her to read at home, starting with
Chaucer, probably. She never read a kids' book in her life.

"Anything I ever tell her about school pretty much sounds either childish
or stupid to her. What I really love is science-experiments and stuff-and
she can't see that for beans."
Track Name: Left Bank of Coney III.
(English original)
Mary puts our cups in the sink and then opens a low cupboard. Instead of
pots and pans it has stacks of records in it. She pulls out _West Side
Story_ and then I see there's a record player on a side table. What d'you
know? A record player in the kitchen! This Left Bank style of living has
its advantages.

"I sit down here and eat and play records while I do my homework," says
Mary, which sounds pretty nice.

I ask her if she has any Belafonte, and she says, "Yes, a couple," but she
puts on something else. It's slow, but sort of powerful, and it makes you
feel kind of powerful yourself, as if you could do anything.

"What's that?" I ask.

"It's called 'The Moldau'-that's a river in Europe. It's by a Czech named

I wander around the kitchen and look out the window. The wind's still
howling, but not so hard. I remember the ocean, all gray and powerful,
spotted with whitecaps. I'd like to be out on it.

"You know what'd be fun?" I say out loud. "To be out in a boat on the
harbor today. If you didn't sink."

"We could take the Staten Island ferry," Mary says.

"Huh?" I hadn't even thought there was really any boat we could get on.
"Really? Where do you get it?"

"Down at Sixty-ninth Street and Fourth Avenue. It's quite a ways. I've
always gone there in a car. But maybe we could do it on bikes, if we don't

"We won't freeze. But what about bikes?"

"You can use my brother's. He's away at college. Maybe I can find a
windbreaker of his, too."

She finds the things and we get ready and go into the living room, where
Nina is sitting reading and sipping a glass of wine.

"We're going on our bikes to the ferry and over to Staten Island," Mary
says. She doesn't even ask.

"Oh-h-h." It's a long, low note, faintly questioning.

"We thought with the wind blowing and all, it'd be exciting," Mary
explains, and I think, Uh-o, that's going to cook it. _My_ mother would
have kittens if I said I was going out on a ferry in a storm.

But Nina just says, "I see," and goes back to reading her book. I say
good-bye and she looks up again and smiles, and that's all.

It's another funny thing-Nina doesn't seem to pay any attention to who
Mary brings home, like most mothers are always snooping if their daughter
brings home a guy. Without stopping to think, I say, "Do you bring home a
lot of guys?"

Mary laughs. "Not a lot. Sometimes one of the boys at school comes home
when we're studying for a science test."

I laugh, too, but what I'm thinking of is how Pop would look if I brought
a girl home and said we were studying for a test!