Friday, June 29, 2007

Nasty music on Downtown Crossing

Some guy wearing a Quest Diagnostics polo shirt was playing a keyboard today out on Downtown Crossing. Horrible crap. Just screeching elevator music.

I looked in his case and there were a few coins. I wish someone rich would come along and throw in a hundred bucks if he'd stop.

I noticed Jenn Taranto is playing someplace in Newton Highlands tonight, and thought she might be out there today, since it seems like she plays there when she's up in this area. I hope she wasn't pushed out of her spot by this dope.

Jack's Drum Shop/new music teacher

Killing time yesterday and walked up Bolyston toward Mass. Ave. thinking I'll check out some of the music stores. Knew about Jack's Drum Shop from the store in Hyannis, so I stopped in.

Obviously, from the the name they don't have a lot of guitars. There was a Jasmine, exactly like Sue bought in Hyannis, and another low-end guitar. A few more in the window. That was it.

Got to talking to I guess it was the manager. He's kind of gruff and easy-going at the same time. Heard him say something about lessons to someone else and I asked about them. It's hard to replicate the conversation, because it was peppered with verbal jabs and feints, but the upshot was that he said the teacher was a Berklee grad and would be coming in soon, so I could talk to her if she had some extra time. I sat on a speaker and strummed and waited, and in a while a woman came in who I had noticed before sitting in a corner of the store. We talked, and I had a good feel for the whole thing, and signed up four lessons, borrowed one of their guitars and had my first lesson last night.

Music is a passion. I get up in the morning and after turning on the computer and getting a cup of coffee, I then put on some music. I'm listening to music as I type this. (Nanci Griffith, Country Gold) I got this from my father, who listened to everything...well, except rock. There's so much to learn, and I don't find it daunting at a matter of fact it excites me to know that there's so much to learn.


Today the world will be introduced to the Apple iPhone. 600 bucks for a phone...hmmm...well, first, it's a little more than a phone...but, if I had that kind of disposable income I wouldn't be spending it on something that lets people get to me, or me contact people. I'd be spending it something that would let me get away.

A nice used Martin might do just nicely.

Paris Hilton

I like Paris Hilton. I think she's a lot smarter than people give her credit for. I think it's real easy to pick on a skinny, white, blonde, rich chick. There are a lot worse people in the world. I think comparing her and her values with the rest of us is totally ridiculous, and I think that's the bit she gets...really gets. When she makes fun of "regular" people on the Simple Life, she's dead on. She makes fun of the stupid, dumb tweakers we all have to put up with and what makes people mad is that her money and status lets her do it. Yeah, she's got the money and the status to do it (but not enough to keep her out of jail) but that's not the point. The point is she sees how goofy the world is.

Urban music

Met-trooo....Boston Now....Met-troo...Boston Now....Met-trooo

Handing out newspapers in South Station, and a few dozen yards calling, the other responding...not sure if they even knew they were singing (or maybe they did)...don't know if anyone else heard them singing...but I did...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Love and marriage

Two young guys who sit near me have pictures of their wives in their wedding dresses displayed in their cubes.

I wonder if tacking my divorce papers up in my cube would be considered insensitive?

Wagamama/Boston a tourist's trap

The other night before the Morrissey non-concert, Sue and I had to grab a bite to eat. I suggested Wagamama since a buddy of mine raved about it and Sue was very familiar with it from the years she lived in Japan.

First, I have to say we both headed over to Faneuil Hall with some trepidation.

First, it's Faneuil Hall, the epicenter for all things touristy in Boston.

Second, my buddy has a tacky streak a mile wide and has, on occasion, suggested Applybee's because they "can handle a crowd."

And third, anything new and trendy immediately sends up warning signals for me. I smell money, sheep, and crowd-thought every time.

(There is a reason we do things in three, just like I did above with my reasons, but at this moment the name for it and the reason we do it escapes me.)

Wagamama is everything I feared.

We were seated at a communal table by a person with way too much cheer. Anyone that happy has to have something wrong with them. The prices aren't cheap at all...the cheapest entree was something like twelve bucks--for noodles!

The crowd, since it was Faneuil Hall, was pure white tourists. Not a brother or ethnic-type in sight.

And the waitress had loose wires snapping behind her eyes. She came up to us with a handheld device and launched in the process for ordering food--I kid you not. "You'll tell me what you want, I'll input it here where it will immediately be sent to the kitchen where the cook will make your meal..." Wait a minute, isn't this the way all restaurants work? Oh, the difference is some food takes less time to make than other food so that will come out first. Don't expect for the food to come all at the same time. Uh, have you ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant before? Or Legals for that matter??

She asked us what we wanted to drink, and I said we needed a little time to think about it. Later Sue said she knew that was my cue that I didn't like the place. (What's to think about? I drink beer.) She was thinking the same thing; it's in these subtle ways that Sue and I communicate.

The waitress chirped a perky, okay, and Sue and I looked at each other. I said to Sue that the prices were too expensive for noodles and I felt like I was in a tourist trap. The young woman sitting next to me obviously overheard me because she smiled (or smirked, hell, I don't know.) Sue felt the same way.

Chinatown's a short walk away, peeps. There's a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese sandwich I go to a couple of times a week where I can get a sandwich or a ready-made lunch of chicken or beef or pork and rice for $2.50.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cool people at Morrissey non-concert

At least you're hanging out with some cool people at a Morrissey concert.

Sue and I made our way over to the BofA Pavillion along the waterfront, and more and more I'm getting so fed up with Boston's glitterati. The cafe on Rowe's Wharf looked like the entire cast to "Let Them Eat Cake." People dressed to the nines (whatever the hell that means.) Cross the bridge over Fort Point Channel, and then at least people start looking more...kind.

Crazy-looking people at the non-concert, sporting some nice body art. Makes me start thinking about my next tat. Working back on my original shooting star theme.

Thinking of something along these lines, with three more smaller stars sprinkled around it.

Morrissey non concert, Boston

What the...?

Morrissey comes out, sings five songs, rips off his shirt, throws it in the audience, and walks off never to come back on stage.

He had mentioned something about being on David Letterman's show the night before and how Letterman keeps the studio at something like twenty-nine degrees (are we talking Fahrenheit or Celsius here?) and if he doesn't sound OK that we should blame it on "Letterman-voice". LiveNation is going to reschedule the concert, and you gotta think that Morrissey's voice is his money-maker, but still...

If the tickets hadn't cost over a hundred dollars, if Sue didn't have to sneak out of work on a really bad day at work, drive up to Riverside to catch the T, where she had to take a bus to Reservoir and transfer to a train, if it hadn't been so bloody hot, if the hamburgers hadn't cost 12 bucks apiece and we hadn't had to wolf them down, if the beer didn't cost nine dollars a freakin' glass, and if we didn't have to backtrack on the T's train/bus/train combo then pick up my truck at the train station, only to get home to a sweltering apartment around midnight maybe it wouldn't have been so bad.

Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman

"I was always drawn to heavy music. For the first part of my life that meant Marshall stacks and heavy metal was only in more recent years that I discovered some of the heaviest music ever made was just made with an acoustic guitar, three chords, and the truth."
--Tom Morello, a.k.a. The Nightwatchman

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Head for the White Mountains

I'm getting just a little tired of my fellow human beings. Feeling stressed and impatient by their, well, let's call it humanness.

Every time I feel this way I know I have to head for the White Mountains. Spend a few or four or so days backpacking in the back country. Backpacking in the mountains pares life down to the essentials. Food. Clothing. Shelter. If you want or have to get up a mountain, no one's going to do it for you. Being more popular isn't going to get you from point A to point B like in a business. What you have inside you is what gets you up.

You're on your own, and that's the way I like it.

The money changers

Last week we had at work something they called a re-stack. They shuffled around, oh 900-odd people, moving us all onto different floors and different spaces (read cubes.)

I moved into my new space on Monday, pulled open the desk drawer and (surprise, surprise!) found a load of pennies, which I'm sure a lot of people also did.

Over the course of my career I've moved into a lot of new spaces, and more times than naught I've inherited the previous owner's collection of pennies. To which I added until I moved on.

But I'm not going to do that this time. Today I brought a little ziplock bag and I've already put the pennies in it and I'm going to give them to the first street person I see when I leave today.

Weird, I know, and there's a really good chance I'll have some homeless person thinking, "Well, there goes someone crazier than me." But if every one of the 900-odd people in this agency did that, some people would either be eating or drinking just a little better tonight.

William James Stackman II 05.1941 - 06.2007

At some point in my community theater career I probably shook hands with Will Stackman. Maybe even exchanged a few words. I don't recall, though. He was a reviewer on and something I always liked about his reviews were that he didn't sugar-coat them. Other reviewers always were easy on the community theater productions, but a review with Will Stackman's byline was guaranteed to be a good one, meaning honest.

Anyway, he died a few weeks ago, and I read this obit written by his long-time life partner. After reading this, I wished I had gotten to know him, though there is a good chance he wouldn't have had any interest in me.

William James Stackman II, born May 1941 died June 2007 in Somerville, Massachusetts was a life-companion with me. I met Will in 1985 when he hired me as a folk singer for the Cambridge River Festival. The first memory of him was when on that day he was running madly through the streets trying at the last minute to make a place for the folk singers stage with some protection from a sudden rain that was unexpected. I followed him around and said, "Hey, mister, it's not your fault it's raining, don't worry." He grouchily said, " no, it's not my fault but I have to fix it."

The show went on between two trees on Memorial Drive and we all sang and the rain subsided. He had tried to string a tarp across from tree to tree. I called him the next day to thank him and we started talking. I asked him If I could meet with him again to get more ideas about performing in Cambridge. He immediately gave me names, ideas and sources. I continued to call him on artistic ideas and eventually he invited me to meet his friends and from there the friendship grew.

In 1988 we were lovers for a long time. We continued to see each other a few times a week but he had a certain living style and so did I and so we never lived together but instead spent much of our together-time at my home. He was my emergency contact on my passport, landlord, bank accounts and all. We shared everything, cars, people, information, theatre equipment, amplifiers etc.

Two years ago he wanted to formalize our twenty year companionship. I said paper wasn't necessary since everyone in the theatre, puppetry, and computer worlds knew and saw us together a lot. I wasn't much of a paper person. I was wrong, again, and he was right. Especially now that the details of his death are upon me.

William was honorable, brilliant, unselfish, giving, engaging, loquacious, funny, wise. He hated fools, cheats, liars, egoists, and especially gold-diggers. It seems his past had been loaded with them and he had estranged himself from friends and family who had exhibited some of these unsavory characteristics. This makes fulfilling his final wishes difficult since he was reticent about not getting in touch, or having me, or his other friends, get in touch with these neerdowells. Now, we must follow the laws. His next of kin, if they can be found by the detectives, must be informed by the Medical Examiner's Office before anything else can be done. Nevertheless, we go forward with many memorials that are planned and announced on this web site.

Many people who had seen us together at Cambridge River Festivals, Earth Day, Theatre Shows, parties, meetings and much more have called to tell me their favorite "William" stories. They are remarkably the same. "At first I was put off by his gruffness...but them I grew to love and admire and listen to him...." was the general outline with colorful incidents omitted.

As far as I can tell he had no enemies, did no harm, gave tirelessly of this mind, ideas, technical skills, laughter, physical strength and car. His only "flaw" seems to be his alternative-housekeeping style, and, a penchant for not giving out basic legal information (names, dates, numbers, addresses, etc).This proves to be his final challenge to those of us working without pay on the aspects of his memorials and his final wishes.

I look forward to reading all the comments and comical incidents that ran through this wonderful Sage's life. I remain in love with him till the day I go to "the other side," hoping, to see him again.

His particular voice rings daily in my ears and leaves my heart heavy. Our only alternative to sadness is to live up to the standards he demanded of us all. I am certainly trying as I cry daily for my man.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Outlaw goofy white tweaker men

But, if we are going to propose and support more idiotic laws (because most of them that we do propose are idiotic because long ago we covered the sensible issues) here's one I'd like to propose:

I say we outlaw all goofy white urban men who wear their briefcases on straps across their chests like little paperboys (oh, excuse, paper deliverers; there's a law against sexism); who wear the latest fashion in sunglasses (which, by the way, usually looks ridiculous on them); who meander all over the city sidewalks getting in the way of people (moi) who are focused on where they're going; who are totally clueless to others around them because they're in their own little worlds listening to "music" like oldies through headphones.

The sunglasses, the tweaker way you carry your briefcase, and most of all your music are all a total embarrassment to the human race in general and specifically your fellow men.

We have enough laws

We live in a law-happy society where we all seem so hell-bent on making more and more laws restricting everything we do. Just in today's paper, a legislator is proposing a law that would prevent violence to health care workers. I have nothing against health care workers, and I certainly don't want to inflict violence on them, but don't we already have laws against violence? It's against the law to murder, assault, batter, plot to murder, and all that? Why do we need more laws specifically for health care workers?

What it seems we don't have is enough people to enforce the laws. What's say we get rid of half the lawyers and hire more police?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Work to live

My daughter took a summer job scooping ice cream in the next town from where she lives. Kind of a nice little job...kind of...not a lot of hours for not a lot of pay putting up with the spoiled brats of the upper white middle-class, not seeing her friends because she's stuck a lot of time in another town and can't get rides...but, hey, I know what you're thinking: it's a summer job, she's in high school, don't expect too much. Welcome to the working world, honey.

See, that's my problem in life: I keep expecting too much. I keep expecting that life should be enjoyable. That you should enjoy what you do, even if you're a high school student and it's a summer job.

I don't understand people who say, why do you think they call it work? I don't understand people who say, I don't enjoy my job, why should you? I don't understand people who think because they suffer, everyone should suffer, too.

Shouldn't it be that, if you're suffering, you'd want to fix it for other so they don't have to suffer, too? If you walked two miles in the snow to school, shouldn't you work to build a school closer? If you hate your job, shouldn't you work so others don't have to suffer, too.

Ah, but misery loves company, doesn't it? It's the poor, poor me side of human beings. Everyone wants sympathy.

I'd never tell my kid to just knuckle down and work, essentially exchange her life for money. That's what I do, and I don't want my kids to do it, too. I want them to learn early on that work should support their life, and not the other way around. I made that mistake. Or rather, I love my work, I just don't like my job right now. And I'm working to change that. I'm not going to suffer and expect others to suffer too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Namesake and The Black Book

While the rest of the United States was seeking out the big summer hit, Knocked Up, Sue and I caught The Namesake and The Black Book this weekend.

Set in India and New York, The Namesake traces the life of two generations of an Indian family and the impact, or lack thereof, of Western life on its values.

The Black Book is a suspense film on the Dutch Resistance during World War II.

Yeah, Sue and I kind of march to a different drummer.

Friday, June 15, 2007


My daughter was the starting shortstop for her high school JV softball this year. She's been playing for a few years now. She actually likes the rough and tumble of tagging a runner out at second. She's a really good fielder, so good that when I coached her I started calling her Scoop. This season she was voted best defensive player on her team. This week she started working at an ice cream store.

The nickname still works.

My baby's back

My baby came home last night from Utah. She flew into Providence then came up to my house around 11:00. "See," she said, "I always come back."

Enjoy the gorgeous weather

Good Day Sunshine8-)

This was Al's away message today. Only she had one of those yellow happy emoticons wearing sunglasses after it.

It is gorgeous out. I had to get out. I'm swamped at work, and it seemed a sin not to get out in the sun just a little when we have such lousy weather here in the winter. In six months we'd die for a day like today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Now there's too many people trying too hard
Not to be outdone
They follow close behind their proud smoking gun

It's up to you and me whether to pay them any mind
Some people turn to tomorrow, and some, a bottle of wine
Remember back when there could be no wrong
It's different for everyone until it's gone

Now there's too many people trying too hard
Not to be outdone
They follow close behind their proud smoking gun

--Uncle Tupelo

Guitar gods

Musicians are great people. It seems they just want to have fun and share and make music and joy in the world.

Got this email from my buddy, Jason, today with the title of this blog as the subject line. A list of his all-time favorite acoustic guitar players that he wanted to share with me.

It's like being a kid in a candy store. There's so much to learn.

Here's Jason's list:
Tony McManus [my hands down favorite guitarist on the planet.]
John Renbourn [Brit folkie who with Bert Jansch was in Pentangle in the 60s] Travellers Prayer is some of his best guitar work.
Duck Baker
The name says it all.
Stefan Grossman
Great blues and ragtime player.
Pierre Bensussan
Great fingerstyle guitarist.
Michael Hedges
A little too new agey for me most of the time, but man the guy could play.
Tony Cuffe
Deceased fingerstyle celtic.
Preston Reed
Hedges disciple.
Beppe Gambetta
Never heard him, but heard good things about him.
Tim Reynolds
Furious flatpicker.
Peter Ratzenbeck
Another crazy tuning celticky guy.
Steve Creeder
Don't know if you can find too much about him ~ general guitar genius.
Jerry Douglas
Dobro motherfucker who plays with Allison Kraus ~ does the best version of little Martha I have EVER heard.
And just for fun
Jake Shimabukuro (ukulele god)
Give a listen.

Today's MBTA Framingham fiasco

Well, the 8:00 local never showed up. At some point a trained pulled into the platform from the east and we--all of us lemmings--just sat there for awhile. Then another train pulled in from the west. The conductor said that that train was an express and would leave before the train I was sitting on would leave. I, and the rest of the mob, hustled up and over bridge that goes over the tracks to the other side of the station. I was behind some fat guy lugging a backpack and I was so glad we weren't trying to escape some crisis 'cause the bastard would have died right there and taken a bunch of us with him.

We all clamored aboard the train and, you guessed it, it just sat there while the other train high-tailed it out of there and we limped into South Station around 9:45.

Couldn't have happened on a better day. I had a ton of rush jobs waiting for me at the office, and my manager from Detroit was in town. Thanks MBTA. You're the best.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Post show blues

Nope, not me. I've learned that there's an emotional drop-off after working on a theater production and to expect it. But more and more theater is just a part of my life, it's more on keel, and after a show is over I'm happy to get on with the rest of my life. Have dinner with my daughters like I did last night--take-out Chinese and the Chili Peppers on the CD player--or play guitar.

But some shows just won't go away, particularly if you're a set designer. For how many weeks was I wrestling (literally) with platforms in the dark in the barn. So what did I do last night? Around ten o'clock, screw gun in hand, I dismantled the platforms. Another theater company wants to use them now, so I'll be loading them onto my truck and lugging them one more time.

Michelle Shocked

Yes, I am a hick. I am naive and I am sincere and it's wonderfully unfashionable.

Check out her site. Check out her quotes.

The middle of the road

Every morning on my way to the train station I drive along a road, to the right is a horse pasture where I believe it's the state police who run a small herd of gorgeous horses, my favorite a black and brown. To the left looms MCI Framingham, a woman's prison.

One side, the right side, freedom. The other side, the left side, incarceration. Every morning I drive right down the middle.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Coyotes: Children of the night

Count Dracula: I bid you welcome.
[Dracula goes up the stairs. Renfield starts to follow him. Suddenly, Dracula hears wolves howling]
Count Dracula: Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.

Count Dracula had his wolves, and I have my coyotes. I heard them the other night when I was outside alone with Bob working on the set of Eternal Swim, and saw one, a small, swift grey one, running through the lights of the headlamps of the truck, and into the dark.

Let Liam Madden talk

Liam Madden is the former U.S. Marine who is criticizing President Bush and his war policy. I guess the Marine Corp. is investigating Madden for breaking some kind of rule about wearing his Marine uniform.

I don't know what Madden was or wasn't wearing. I read somewhere that he took off his name patch and a few other insignias. The military has always been a mystery to me about all its traditions and rules, most of which seem pretty idiotic to me.

But I say let him talk, and I'll admit part of my reasoning is I agree with him, that Bush's war policy has placed soldiers in a situation that turns them into war criminals. I don't want to hear about war is hell, that the soldiers knew what they were getting into when they signed up, it's a soldier's role, blah, blah, blah.

They don't know who the enemy is, there is no clear goal, it's just turning soldiers into cannon fodder, and they're going to go a little crazy. And the responsibility--and the guilt--for that falls squarely on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, and Ashcroft. Maybe these elected officials aren't pulling the trigger (well, except for Cheney when he goes duck hunting; sorry, couldn't resist.) But they are responsible for the deaths of all of those tens of thousands of Iraqis, and if they weren't American, every international court in the world would be going after their heads. If the leaders of another country did what the American government is doing in Iraq, they would be tried as war criminals.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Giovanni's Room II

"Perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, I don't know; but they have scarcely seen their garden before they see the flaming sword. Then, perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. Either, or: it takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare."

Giovanni's Room

"Nobody can stay in the garden of Eden," Jacques said. And then he said, "I wonder why."

MBTA commuter story: Riverside D line

Sitting on the train way in the back car this morning reading, minding my own business when some guy starts to sit next to me. Rather, he puts his laptop case down on the seat next to me then walks to the front of the car.

What the...?

He's dressed in a blue suit, looking like a Mormon or a Jehovah Witness, or something like that.

He can't be from around here, I'm thinking. You just don't dump something like that and just walk away. Post 9/11 and all that. Who can be that dumb?

Well, I got my answer. Yep, he could be that dumb. He was a lawyer. Weld and Todd, LLP.

When he came back I just looked at him. He looked back, either clueless or arrogant, it could have been both with him being a lawyer and all.

But I got news for you, tweaker. The next time you do that, your freakin' laptop is going out the door at the next stop. And there's not a jury in the nation that would find me guilty, either.

You just don't do that, and you should know better.

Or maybe I should have said, "Excuse me..." then gone on to explain. Do you think that would have worked?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dry Town

My baby leaves for Utah today for ten days...just try keeping a Sagittarius in one place. That's part of her allure. Hopefully I'll be there soon...there meaning right there next to her, pack on my back, going wherever...

In the meantime, I'm doing what I always do when life smacks me upside the head. I just make myself real busy, immerse myself in work and projects and music.

Well the road was hot and flat as a ruler
Good hundred miles between me and Missoula
That vinyl top wasn't gettin' no cooler
So I stopped at a Quickie Sack
Well I figured I'd need about a six of Miller
And one of those thangs so I wouldn't spill 'er
I asked the girl if the beer was in the back
She said

It's a dry town
No beer, no liquor for miles around
I'd give a nickel for a sip or two
To wash me down
Outta this dry town

So I turn right around, no hesitation
Cursed the law for ruinin' the nation
Waved goodbye to the boy at the station
But she wouldn't go into gear

He said it sounds like your transmission
You need Bob, but he's gone fishin'
His day off, he gets a long way from here

It's a dry town
No beer, no liquor for miles around
I'd give a nickel for a sip or two
To wash me down
Outta this dry town

Well back home, friends, you can get a dose of
Something strong from your local grocer
So I walked down til I came a little closer
To a place called Happy Jars

He said I keep some here for colds and fevers
And down underneath where I usual leave her
But just last night I felt a cold a comin' on

It's a dry town
No beer, no liquor for miles around
I'd give a nickel for a sip or two
To wash me down
Outta this dry town

--Miranda Lambert

Monday, June 4, 2007

Okay...but...did she kill Curt?

There are some evil people out there. Some really twisted, selfish people who basically are not too many notches above your basic animal using instincts to survive.

We're all connected, and if you haven't figured that out yet, I feel for ya. Dollars to donuts she contributed in some way.

Courtney Love and Linda Perry

Who would have thought? Man, she sounds good...

Friday, June 1, 2007

The difference between men and women

A man gets more excited when his friend buys a motorcycle than a woman does.

I called Sue and left voice mail telling her that I had some exciting news. When I told her that a buddy just bought a Suzuki 1000, she said, so what's the good news??
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