Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
"SOL INVICTUS has banish’d FALSE WINTER at long last.
LET THE PROLETARIAN RESISTANCE TO HEAT BEGIN!
I mean, I’m ready for the sun and all but my mist-clad veins prefer the wan light which heats with gentility and manner, in opposition to the wanton, savage rage of the flaming orb currently wilting plants to the far-flung corners of my very yard. Well, this heat can’t last, right?"
The picture shows Northern California today. That white stuff isn't clouds. It's smoke. The whole damn state smells like smoke. The little red spots, if you can see them, are known active fires. There are hundred of fires that are not being fought because there's no one to fight them. There's speculation that there may be hundreds of fires that no one even knows about, because they are in remote areas. The fire season usually starts in late summer and peaks by October. At the rate we're going, everything flammable will be burnt by then.
Personally, I had an OK Day. I just started a book called Weaveworld by Clive Barker. I'm pretty new to Barker. I bought the book on the strength of a short story by him and because of his introduction, which includes one of the finest single pages of writing I've ever read. I avoided the mobs in San Fran for the LGBT, and, I believe, Q parade. I'm glad we have that celebration and I'm glad I don't have to drive in it, or look for parking spaces in it or drive a bus with drunken gay teenagers back to suburbia. I've done those things. It sucked.
This, by the way, is not some heterosexist prejudice on my part. I ran into my friend, Phil, last night. Phil moved to SF a while ago. I don't see as much of him as I'd like. He is very openly gay, a leatherman and an active part of the leather scene. He's as good a fellow as it's ever been my privilege to know. I'm not saying this to show how tolerant I am of gay dudes. You can ask almost anyone who knows him. Phil is something special.
"Phil," I said, "To what do we owe this pleasure?""
"Gay pride weekend." He replied.
"But that's in San Francisco!" Says I.
"I know. I can't stand the fucking traffic."
Get to know The Handsome Family. If Jorge Luis Borges wrote country songs, he would have sounded like The Handsome Family.
I've been hearing people say that they intend to vote for McCain because he "understands war". What he understood was flying off of a carrier, making a bombing run and landing in time for beer. He was the son and grandson of Admirals in the US Navy and he was looking forward to a military career. He may or may not have conducted himself honorably as a prisoner, but that doesn't make him an expert on war. His experience of war was impersonal. He fought for his career. He can kiss my ass.
Here's a different view of a war that McCain didn't know about and didn't care about. In addition to 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam, 4,000,000 Vietnamese died. That's four MILLION.
From back in the days when I used to do things. The Dancing Cigarettes were friends of mine. The weren't punks, but they hung out with the punks. They weren't a dance band, they were arty as shit, but when they played, everybody danced. They were great lyricists:
Two living things growing side by side
One casts a shadow, the other dies
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I don't know why, but I like the fact that this uke comes from Ohio. Maybe because I'm still a Midwesterner at heart. I can admire those fancy ukes from Hawaii and California, but I had to get my hands on an Ohio ukulele. As The Gizmos used to say, "Polish sausage sauerkraut/ Chew it up and spit it out/ Show 'em what you're all about.
Completely by accident, I stumbled upon the weblog of a man in Brazil who really, really likes buses. Nothing there but buses. Check it out.
I never would have thought it possible but here's a dub version of Lee 'Scratch' Perry's "Ne Run Down", played on the ukulele.
I'm rather pleased with myself, because I figured out a strummed, rather than finger picked, version of the basic riff that the song is built around. I did it on my new Waverly Street ukulele. For some reason, I'm finding it hard to blog about that instrument. It's beautiful, hand made and painted, with a sound all it's own. Maybe I'll write something later today.
" I had always believed in a Power greater that myself. I had often
pondered these things. I was not an atheist. Few people really are, for
that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe
originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes no where."
~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill's Story, pg. 10~
I have no great resentments toward the church I grew up in. On the other hand, I've not had much luck finding God there. Nice people- really really nice people- always willing to compromise themselves by way of reaching a compromise. When I was a kid, the great debate was whether or not Negroes should be given the same rights as real people. Then there was the great debate as to whether women should be given the same rights as real people. Right now we, the members of a church with a closet big enough to hold about half the church, are debating whether or not lesbians and gay men should be given the same rights as real people.
There are some fine people involved in this discussion. Check out my friend at Hagar's Daughters, or Jack at The Mustard Seed. If you'd really like to understand the compromise position you can read my own Father Matt's blog, The Hopeful Priest. I like Father Matt, but he's got a political job and I'm not enjoying watching him put himself through these contortions.
Meanwhile, Jesus continues to exhort us to love and serve the poor. He just doesn't seem to care very much about what kind of sex we happen to like. Lucky we've got religion to set us straight where Jesus gets it wrong.
None of this offers much comfort to my heart. It is Sunday morning and I could use a little comfort. In that spirit, here's some music that speaks to the heart.
Not quite so uplifting, but still a treat for the ears, here's a little old time church music. I should add that it is definitely not old time Anglican church music. I might be a bit more of a faithful parishioner if we could puh-leeze put the Anglican hymnal out of it's misery.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I swore this wasn't just going to be a music blog. Nope, I was gonna post stuff about stuff and then there'd be some music to go with it. Last night was kind of exciting in a package opening kind of way, and I need to rest and I really like Julie Doiron and that, for the moment, is all I've got to say.
Here's Julie with Eric's Trip, very young, and sounding as though she is about to burst into flames. Warning this is not opera.
This is Julie today, all grown up and a mommy and a wife.
Buy more music by Julie Doiron and Eric's Trip
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Somewhere in Glasgow, a city about which I know absolutely nothing, I have a acquired a new friend. He has a terrific music blog, SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS. He was nice enough to post a link to me, and I've been meaning to post a link to him. The trouble is that he posts so much, that I can't get him to stand still long enough to point you at any one particularly interesting piece. His tastes are, catholic? eclectic? I hate that "eclectic" word so I guess he is the pope of his own all encompassing tastes. For his, and anyone else's amusement, here's The Bassholes.
I was conceived in Brooklyn and Executed in New Jersey. My parents were afraid that I would be kidnapped and eaten by Puerto Ricans. When I was in High School, I compared notes with several of my fellow ragamuffin suburbanite hippie wannabes. It came out that our parents were all from the same part of Brooklyn.
Every Christmas, we would drag ourselves out to Brooklyn to visit with Grandma. She lived in the same three room tenement apartment my dad grew up in. At one point in his childhood, there were at least six people living in those three rooms. They shared a toilet in the hall with another apartment on the same floor. It had a big old tank up by the ceiling. You reached up and pulled a chain to flush the toilet. There was no bath tub, but in the kitchen there was a deep soapstone sink with a cold water tap. You could fill it up and stand in it to wash yourself, or you could heat hot water on the stove and fill a big zinc tub.
My father was born in Newfoundland, Canada. His father was an alcoholic iron worker from Massachusetts. His mother grew up on a dairy farm. I've never really had it explained to me how they met. After my father was born, my grandmother bundled him up and immigrated to Brooklyn. When I was a tot, I could crawl into the cupboards in the kitchen and the grownups would forget about me. Sometimes they said things I wasn't meant to hear. I remember my grandmother telling my father, "When they called me up and told me they found your father dead in the street, I told them leave him there."
It was not a close family. I can't remember all my Aunt's and Uncle's names. I know I had an uncle, Joe. He died in the Korean war, before I was born. I had an uncle, Freddie. He was a homicide detective in Brooklyn for thirty years. He ended up a big shot in the NYPD. My grandma had the medal that he won as a young patrolman. He got in a shoot out with three bankrobbers and killed or wounded all of them. That's what got him promoted to detective. Freddie had a daughter, but I don't remember ever meeting her. She would be about my age. I've been told that she became a nun. I have a cousin who is a nun.
My aunt, Maxine, and her husband, whatsisname, lived downstairs from Grandma. They had two sons, my cousins Charlie and Billy. Charlie served in Viet Nam, went straight to work as a Teamster for Bohacks grocery stores. He worked there until he retired. Billy discovered heroin, killed someone in a dope deal that went wrong in Jersey City. He served 14 years in Rahway State Pennitentiary. I'm told he works as a mechanic.
My aunt, Dorothy, was my father's youngest sister. When I was a teenager she married a funny little Irish merchant seaman named Gene Murphy. My aunt told me his nickname was "Gene the Drunk". I liked Dorothy and Gene when I was a kid. Dorothy was the closest thing that family had to a hipster. She went to San Francisco on her own and came back with a picture of herself on the large orange bridge. Uncle Gene has been sober more than thirty years. He worked on seagoing tugs and then pilot boats out of Connecticut for his whole life.
Gene and Dorothy had two little boys. I only met them once or twice. One of them went to the Merchant Marine Academy. He's a ship's engineer on a civilian ship that is a transport vessel for the US military. The ship is on standby at a dock in Virginia. My cousin lives ashore and goes to work on the ship, making sure everything works. His ship went to Kuwait recently. He didn't have to sail with it, but he was flown in to keep everything going while it sat in port there. My aunt was scared. My other cousin has had problems "finding himself". So far it seems he's found drugs, alcohol and mean hearted women. At one point he found himself in possession of a winning lottery ticket. That kept him in trouble for several years. Last I heard he had moved in with his parents and was trying to get sobered up.
I spoke to Dorothy last year. It was the first time we had spoken in 25 years. I liked her even better than I remembered. She told me some heartbreaking stories about my grandfather. A lot of things about my father made sense after I heard them. She told me that she thought my father was a snob. I reminded her that he was horribly insecure. She asked me about myself. I tried explaining, that, I, uh, lived kind of in the country, and that I didn't have central heating for 15 years and I came home from work and split wood in the rain and I used to have a girlfriend who kept a garden and we had been stuck with a couple of elderly sheep by our landlord, and uh...
"Oh my Gawd Jonathan!" She interrupted me, "You're a hippie!!!"
I'm not going to quibble with my old and estranged aunt about my subcultural allegiances, so I said, "Yeah, pretty much."
"Oh Jonathan, I'm so proud of you! You're nothing like your parents wanted you to be!"
She got that part right.
Those are my people. The Brooklyn they came from wasn't the least bit cool. It was dirty and kind of scary and the two main activities were drinking and complaining about the Goddam Puerto Ricans. It never occurred to me to wonder what the Puerto Ricans did with their time. I guess I thought they drank and complained about us. It always seemed to be dark there. We never went across the Brooklyn Bridge to get there. We went across some other, less interesting bridge, but you could see the Brooklyn Bridge down the river. What Brooklyn looked like was the movie, "Dark City".
Those were my father's people and they came from Brooklyn. My father went to Boy's High in Brooklyn. When he graduated he went straight into the First Marine Division. He was sent to San Diego and then on to the Solomon islands. He was with the First Marines at Guadalcanal. When the war ended, he took advantage of the GI bill and went to Fairleigh Dickinson College. It's a university now. That's where he met my mom. He married up in the world. She was a classy red head and he spent his whole life trying to live up to her standards. He ended up as a salesman in the New York garment district. He lugged a sample bag into loft factories in Manhattan and later in Mexico, China and Eastern Europe. When he came back, we would ask him, "Daddy, what's it like there?"
He had two answers: "It was nice. It looks a lot like New York", or, "It was a dump. It looks a lot like Newark."
In the end, he did all right for himself. When I was a kid, there was a lot of scrimping and saving, but nothing remotely resembling want. After I grew up, he made some pretty good money. When he married my mom, he promised her that someday he would buy her a mink coat and a convertible and they would go on vacation in Bermuda. Big talk in 1949. He did those three things and he and my mom retired to Arizona when he was 60.
At first, he played golf every day. He was club champion in his retirement community two years in a row. He doesn't play anymore, but when I called him today, I had to scream into the phone while he told me told me how Tiger Woods was doing on the TV. My mom died in 1995. He got a girlfriend, but lived alone after that. When his girlfriend died, last year, he started to fall apart. My sister got him into an assisted living apartment. It costs a fortune, but he says he can afford it. I'm not worried about my inheritance. My sister worries constantly about her inheritance, but she did the right thing by him. The place is nice and they make sure he showers and eats and flirts with the old dolls who live there.
For years, my father and I fought, almost on sight. The only thing that kept us from killing each other was my mom. We both loved her. Over the years we've mellowed. I had to lay down the law once or twice, but we were finally able to reach an understanding as two grown men. My managing to stay sober around him helped that a lot. Now that he knows I'm not going to turn up drunk and belligerent, he has begun to let down his guard around me. Just a little, but some. He never told me about his father until just a few years ago. He never told me about anything much. Now he'll share memories occasionally.
I finally realized that he wasn't a fallen idol. He is some guy. He could be a real bastard, but so could I. It isn't our defining characteristic. I know his father didn't give him a lot to work with, and considering that, he did a hell of a job. I think he knows I'm proud of him.
For years, I called my family "those people". Now, I'm one of them. I'm my father's son. Thanks dad.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I went to Spider Murphy's today, ostensibly to finish up my sleeve, which is an interpretation of the words, "We have been rocketed into a fourth dimension". In fact, Theo was tired and, after adding some very nice color, he said that he didn't want to finish the sleeve, because he didn't want to just end it in a lame way. He felt that there was a space left on my arm that needed something and he wasn't sure what. Considering that I'll spend the rest of my life with the final results, I guess I can wait.
So there we were, with some time on our hands and a lot of tattoo stuff, so Theo asked, "Is there anything else you want me to do?"
It so happens we have often discussed our mutual love of The MC5. I was a teenage member of the White Panther Party, and I've been a fan of The MC5 since I was 15. At one point, Theo had suggested that we should get matching White Panther tattoos. He was wearing his favorite MC5 t-shirt, so what the hell, I said, "Why don't you do that White Panther for me?"
He made a stencil of the White Panther shown above, slapped it on my shoulder and gave me a nice little White Panther, free of charge. I am either a fool, nuts, having a wonderful time or some combinations of the above. Anyhow, I keep rolling up my sleeve to look at it and laugh.
Future Now- MC5 (buy)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I know someone who went to high school in the town Richard Nixon grew up in. I went to high school in the town he lived in after he, uh, "retired". What a coincidence. Really, just an excuse to post this, my favorite image of The King. It's also my favorite image of Nixon. I can forgive Elvis his excesses.
The papers are full of stabbings today. When I got home from work this afternoon I turned on the computer and let it pick songs at random. The first song up was 'Flying Jelly Attack' by Shonen Knife. If I was William S. Burroughs I would say that was no coincidence. Then again, If I was William S. Burroughs, I'd be dead. I met Burroughs once. He's on my list of famous beatniks I have met.
Anyhow, I have many, many regrets in life. Sorry, that 'no regrets' thing won't cover it. One of them is that I didn't go see Shonen Knife in SF with my friend Michael Gold. That was- What?- last year? It was "too far to drive". I was "too tired". Plus I've never done well with crowds. I shared that quality with Michael. We were both nuts. Michael is comparing notes with Burroughs in eternity. He won't be back. Maybe Shonen Knife won't be back either. Shit.
Monday, June 9, 2008
In return for the link, I promised Frank that I'd try and write like someone who takes recovery seriously. Let me make something clear, all of this, the whining, the aimless reminiscing and especially the ukuleles is backed up with enormous gratitude. I have a wonderful life through no particular virtue of my own.
I thought that nobody knew about people like me until a group of people like me took me by the hand and loved me back to some kind of sanity. I live in a world that is bigger than the confines of my skull and I feel genuine love for people because I was helped to find a relationship with a power greater than myself.
Now, back to whining, reminiscing and ukuleles.
This is the Texas death chamber but here in California we kill a lot of people too.
I've always thought that government executions were an especially shitty and evil institution. Just to remind you how creepy the whole thing is, I've added a widget that gives information on a particularly stupid or unjust execution for that day.
Then there's the Texas Department of Criminal Justice executed offenders website. You can read last words like these:
"Uh, I don't know, Um, I don't know what to say. I don't know. (pauses) I didn't know anybody was there. Howdy."
Please, before anyone jumps in to tell me that murderers are bad people; Do we have to make it all official by killing someone else? Even if he's a real bad person? And by the way, what makes you so sure that you're more human than they are?
Sunday, June 8, 2008
This is a somewhat dumb commercial for Spider Murphy's tattoos. I've left them a bit of my blood and they've left me a bunch of their ink. Heath Preheim gave me a tattoo depicting my great grandfather's boat, The Onward, sailing in front of the large orange bridge. It's on my right calf. I got it for a lot of reasons relating to family and history and stuff like that, but it's the tattoo that people seem to notice the most.
So I'm eating a very late breakfast in Sam's For Play Cafe, and the waitresses all like my tattoo. One of them stopped everything to take a picture of it. She said it reminded her of her Dad who was a merchant seaman.
Waitresses are a wonderful institution. If you're a regular, and polite, and tip reasonably well, they are nice and friendly and female and offer great comfort to single men. I've seen over the road truckers fall all to pieces because a truck stop waitress was nice to them. I don't mean a beautiful truckstop waitress. I mean a human female. I'm sure that was as much human contact as those guys had in days and it might have been the most contact with women that they'd had in weeks. Being a man is a lonely business sometimes.
I wonder if there's anything similar for women. I don't think so. A lot of women ride the bus. A lot of them are single, but for a lot of them, the car and the gas money is reserved for hubby. I try to greet everyone in a friendly way, but women seem to really appreciate it. I've only dated one passenger. That was a long time ago, and there's quite a story to it. I think that women deserve a group of men who serve the same function that waitresses serve for men. From what women tell me, bus drivers don't fill the bill.
By the way, I have no illusions about waitresses. A while ago, I walked into Sam's and the waitress, who didn't seem very young, was just beaming at me! "Oh, I just love to see you." she said, "You look just like my dad!" She looked about twenty five years older than my stepdaughter. I still took as a compliment. I like compliments sometimes.
I think I have about 5 regular readers and two of them are in Canada. You guys are used to seeing a ship like my great grandfather's. It was a Grand Banks Fishing Schooner from Newfoundland. Fish a dime out of your pocket and look on the back.
I used to read about these guys in a fanzine from Boca Raton called 'Mouth of the Rat'. In those pre internet, pre hardcore days, punk was about being part of a local scene. That was a long time ago. Scroll down to the post entitled "I couldn't have put it better myself". Anyhow, this is what a punk rock show looked and sounded like back then. We thought it was fun. I wonder what that girl is doing now?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
thanks to the always interesting RJ Eskow
It's Saturday. I got a decent night's sleep. It was a big week for cows sacrificing themselves on the freeway. I survived. Life is good.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Shhhh! Listen now…"
For a second there, I thought he was talking about Peter Laughner.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan for instance. He's a terrific writer and a fine human being. When he says there's a problem, I believe it. My objection is to neo- reaganista hippie liberals who think they're better than the rest of us because they're blocking traffic with their bicycle. Also have no use for the John Zerzan crowd. They're all closet Reagan republicans with a religious faith in "The Marketplace" as the true forum for democracy. Dang it you kids, the problem here is not consumption- too much, too little, not the right kind- it's the ownership of production. I don't care how far back in the woods you live now. Somewhere in there you watched too much damn television. Then there's people who aren't afraid to take a stand for what's right, even going so far as to buy a Prius....
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
"They" are going to outbreed "us" unless we force some sustainability down their throats.
and don't forget,
Our ethics are colorblind and if you criticize them you hate the Earth.
Look, there's some real environmental problems, but sometimes I wonder just how progressive a lot of Green thinking really is.
I'm just sayin'....
Monday, June 2, 2008
My check came today. $600. Consider it a fucking bribe. If I thought it would do any good I would give the money to anyone who was willing and able to begin impeachment proceedings against little bush, not to mention the criminal charges. Instead I paid off a bunch of bills. I'm a hell of a guy.
I will say that Recording King has promised that they will be releasing a lot more of these little resonator ukes later this summer. Probably need to find more child slave laborers to work in the factory. I suppose I can wait.
I've been reading quite a lot of Howard Thurman. What a guy. Allow me to share a quote:
"Sometimes there are ragings of anxiety, of hurts that we do not want to see disappear. They provide excellent opportunities to bolster up our own ego or own sense of faltering security. This fact must not blind us to the great power that there is in what is here referred to as the central stillness."
I enjoy sounding off like some kind of wise guy. A friend has suggested that I spend a little time with Psalm 46.
RIP Bo Diddley. For some reason, Bo Diddley's lyrics have been running through my mind lately. "The night was black, the sky was blue/ Down the alley an ice wagon flew." I haven't had much to say about poetry, but let me say now that Bo Diddley's lyrics were as fine an example of poetry as any in the English language.
RJ Eskow has written a worthy tribute at his Nightlight blog.
Mojo Repair Shop has links to some free downloads.
Dust and bones.