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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween/Merry Christmas

Snuck out of work to catch a breath and went over to Borders on Downtown Crossing and today being Halloween imagine what I thought when I saw Christmas trees and ornaments upstairs in the music department.

Do we have to have Christmas rammed down our throats each year sooner and sooner? Buy, buy, buy. Why? Why? Why?

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If You Knew What I Know

Sweet, I wish I could write like this...both lyrics and music...give it a listen.

And if you knew what I know
You wouldn't go to see her
And least of all believe her when she says that she wants you
Well you're just another puppet, she's not even keeping score
And the lazy way she cheats you leaves me cold
She'll laugh about you, my best friend, but you don't know

'Cause if you knew what I know
You wouldn't go to see her
And least of all believe her when she says that she wants you

She spends her daddy's money
And she drives her daddy's car
And what's crazy is the way you think that's style
And all the while my heart is breaking
You're not even on her mind

'Cause if you knew what I know
Babe you wouldn't leave me
You wouldn't turn away from my love it's what you said that you believed in

I say this as your friend
You'll be the poor boy in the end

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in on the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men."

Holy shit. The opening paragraph to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.

It's a book about women, an African-American woman, to be exact, and compare that paragraph to this one in chapter two:

"She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of the bloom; the thousand sister -calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid."

Well, that's a different take on things. The writing, to this point, is almost biblical, and reminds me of when I taught Sunday school, and once a year I had to take my class on a Christian retreat where I was surrounded by the most Christian zealots I had the displeasure of meeting. To get back at the sorry lot, I would sit quietly, feigning piety, reading from my bible the Songs of Solomon, some of the sexiest, most sensual words you'll ever come across.

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Quiet Man

Strolling down the highway with my shoes in my hand
Don't talk much, I'm a quiet man
Beauty and silence both run deep
And I'm running like crazy
While you are asleep.

(chorus)
You got news for me
I got nothing for you
Don't pin your blues on me
Just go ahead and do
Whatever you wish to.

Last Monday nite
I saw a fight
Between Wednesday and Thursday
Over Saturday nite
Tuesday asked me what was going on
I said, "Sunday's in the meadow
And Friday's in the corn."

(chorus)

Hocus pocus maladusted
Don't you think my tears get rusted
Steady losing means you ain't using
What you really think is right.

(chorus)

Oodles of light
What a beautiful site
Both of God's eyes
Are shining tonite
Rays and beams of incredible dreams
And I am a quiet man.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Webster's New World College Dictionary new word: grass station

The 2007 Word of the Year at Webster’s New World College Dictionary is: grass station Last year's Word of the Year was crackberry, named for the addictive quality of Blackberrys.

Grass station, a pun on "gas station," refers to a theoretical fill-up spot in the not-too-distant future; it reflects America's growing love affair with hybrid cars and vegetable-based fuels (and words), including ethanol and biomass fuels—some of which really are distilled from plain old grass—said Webster’s New World editors.

I too have a new word that I think I should pass on to the editors at Webster's New World: Disneyfication. It describes the process of making Americans believe that there is no danger in the world, just the way life is in Disney World. Disneyfication resolves people of all responsibility in protecting themselves in the real world because they are under the notion that some larger entity with big ears is watching over them. Even more so, it causes people to be irate if someone or something doesn’t look out for them, even in situations where one would think that common sense would come into play.

Because of Disneyfication, people act as if the bears in national parks don’t bite, because in their minds the bears are really just big, playful singing animals. A cup of hot coffee doesn’t burn because they believe some larger corporate entity has taken pains to ensure that the coffee is the perfect temperature for sipping, and not burning.

Unfortunately, Disneyfication can sometimes lead to accidents, because in reality there really is no big entity with ears looking over you, you big moron! Despite this fact, when accidents do happen, people and lawyers and judges still act under the premise that the world really is like Disney World. Instead of gently chiding people for trying to pet the wild animal with big teeth, or for stupidly placing a hot cup of liquid between their legs in a moving car, they perpetuate Disneyfication by rewarding people with large sums of money for being delusional.

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Please Don't Bury Me

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride

When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:

Chorus:
Please don't bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up
And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don't mind the size

Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just get "em" out of here
Venus de Milo can have my arms
Look out! I've got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman
And give my love to Rose

Repeat Chorus

Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ass goodbye

Repeat Chorus

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Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm just tired...

Sometimes I get so damn tired. I get so tired of people who are clueless who should know better. Who are so insensitive or worse, callous, to the heartache and suffering that can go on in this world. I'm so tired of the entitled, well-off in this country who never had to struggle in their lives, who had everything handed to them, who judge the rest of the world from inside their air-conditioned bubbles, acting so all-knowing. Don't judge the hungry unless you've been hungry. The homeless until at least your home was in jeopardy. The poor until you've woken up not knowing how you were going to pay your bills. Until you've had to hide your poverty, your hunger, or your pain.

I'm sick and tired of people who ruin other people's lives (especially those who are conscious that they do it) and then just cut and run, leaving others to pick up the pieces.

I am so tired of coddling people. I'm so sorry you weren't hugged enough when you were a child. I'm so sorry you had it so bad. That's no excuse. It's terrible, but it's no excuse to go around hurting people and ruining other people's lives.

We're all connected on this planet, and just because some people are too damn stupid to see that, to understand, doesn't make it any less true. Ignorance is not an excuse.

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Ignorance is no excuse

Ignorance is no excuse.

And that's all I have to say on that right now.

But those words apply to just about every endeavor we do.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Inspiration

Sue told me about this kid she met who lives in a shelter in Roslindale. He's from Africa, and he's from a big family. He was in line to inherit the family wealth, so one of his brothers set him on fire. (His brother is now serving time in prison.) This kid is here in the U.S. for the multitude of operations to put his body back together. He's learning English, living in shelters, and doing menial work to make ends meet.

People avoid him on the bus.

They stare.

Remember this when you think you're having a bad day.

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Hollywood screenwriters missed the boat

I couldn't have said it better.

Dashes and Splashes

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He said/she said

He said:

The Wild Side of Life


CHORUS:
I didn't know God made honky tonk angels
I might have known you'd never make a wife
You gave up the only one that ever loved you
And went back to the wild side of life

The glamor of the gay night life has lured you
To the places where the wine and liquor flows
Where you wait to be anybody's baby
And forget the truest love you'll ever know

REPEAT CHORUS

You wouldn't read the letter that I wrote you
You told me not to call you on the phone
But there's something that I've just got to tell you
So I wrote it in the words of this song

CHORUS:
I didn't know God made honky tonk angels
I might have known you'd never make a wife
You gave up the only one that ever loved you
And went back to the wild side of life

The glamor of the gay night life has lured you
To the places where the wine and liquor flow
Where you wait to be anybody's baby
And forgot the truest love you'll ever know


She said:

It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Written by J. D. Miller
Recorded by Kitty Wells

Capo on 1st fret:
As I [A] sit here tonight the jukebox [D] playing
A [E] tune about the WILD SIDE OF [A] LIFE
As I listen to the words you are [D] saying
It brings [E] mem'ries when I was a trusting [A] wife.

CHORUS:
It wasn't God who made honky tonk [D] angels
As you [E] said in the words of your [A] song
Too many times married men think they're still [D] single
That has [E] caused many a good girl to go [A] wrong.

It's a shame that all the blame is on us women
It's not true that only you men feel the same
From the start most every heart that's ever broken
Was because there always was a man to blame.

REPEAT CHORUS




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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wish You were Here

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain

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The Road

"When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the east for any light but there was none."

Wow. Those are the opening lines of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I needed a good book. I just finished Into the Wild, and when my days are kind of gray the way they have been for what seems like a long time now, I need something to preoccupy my mind. To take it far, far away from here. And since I can't bring a guitar on the train for the two hours I'm riding it, that means a book.

Still, there's something very hopeful about those lines, huh? About him feeling the child breathing next to him. Maybe you have to be a parent to feel that. Once I wrote the line, "When my daughter sleeps, the warmth that comes off her head could breathe the life back into a dead man."

Because it did.

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Monday Afternoon

MONDAY AFTERNOON

Capo II
Intro: (G)

(G)It's Monday afternoon and I'm drinking again
And I (Em)know I promised you that the Lord would be my friend

But the (G)Lord and I don't get along so very good

He doesn't (Em)speak a word out to me

Like you promised that he would 

And I'm (C)telling you
I (D)wish I was a better (G)person

(G)When the clouds roll in and the sky promises rain

You just ac(Em)cept the way she is and you don't even complain

Though you (G)wish that it was sunny and the sky would stay blue

You don't ac(Em)cept a thing about me

And wish that I was just like you

But I'm (C)telling you

I (D)wish I was a better (G)person

(C)I don't want to (G)work at it

(C)It should come natural(G)ly

(C)It shouldn't be so (G)difficult

Should be (D)more like honey to the bee

Well the (G)bee has his sting and the sky has her rain

And I have (Em)all of my things that I should do over again

But if I (G)just say the words and I look you in the eye

That I am (Em)promising you, I promise

I (C)wish I was (D)a better (G)person

(C)I don't want to (G)work at it

(C)It should come natural(G)ly

(C)It shouldn't be so (G)difficult

Should be (D)more like honey to the bee

Well it's (G)Monday afternoon and I'm drinking again

And I (Em)know I promised you that the Lord would be my friend

But the (G)Lord and I don't get along so very good

He doesn't (Em)speak a word out to me

Like you promised that he would 

And I'm (C)telling you (D)

I am (C)telling you (D)

I am (C)telling you

I (D)wish I was a better (G)person

A better (Em) person

A better (G) person

A better (Em)person (C)(D)(G)


--Lori McKenna

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One from Colleen: Luckenbach, Texas

Here's a comment from Colleen on a older post where I posted some lyrics from Steve Earle's song, Guitar Town. These are some great lyrics that shouldn't be buried in the comments of an old post.

Thanks Colleen, and good luck.


Great song John. How about this one by
Waylon Jennings?


There only two things in life that make it worth livin'
That's guitars that tune good and firm feelin' women
I don't need my name in the marquis lights
I got my song and I got you with me tonight
Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of love

Chorus:
Let's go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin' got us fueding
like the Hatfield and McCoys
Between Hank Williams pain songs, Newberry's train songs
and blue eyes cryin' in the rain out in Luckenbach Texas
ain't nobody feelin' no pain

So baby let's sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high socitey you cry all day
We've been so busy keepin' up with the Jones
Four car garage and we're still building on
Maby it's time we got back to the basics of love

Chorus:
Let's go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin' got us fueding
like the Hatfield and McCoys
Between Hank Williams pain songs, Newberry's train songs
and blue eyes cryin' in the rain out in Luckenbach Texas
ain't nobody feelin' no pain

Let's go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin' got us fueding
like the Hatfield and McCoys
Between Hank Williams pain songs, Newberry's train songs
and blue eyes cryin' in the rain out in Luckenbach Texas
ain't nobody feelin' no pain


Colleen in Austin TX

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Coco and Lafe

Who the heck needs MBTA radio? Really, it's true, there are too many really good musicians busking out there that give this city so much soul.

Out in Irish Famine Memorial Park outside Borders near Downtown Crossing Coco and Lafe from the Republic of Vermont were playing their playful, earthy songs today at noon.

Lafe started while I was sitting, and he was playing nice picking songs with open chords. When Coco stepped up to the mike and joined in, the crowd formed.

From cocolafe.com: "Coco and Lafe have a vocal chemistry that pays off in friendly, cohesive warmth." They sing original acoustic music, as well as covers by Bob Dylan, John Prine, Lyle Lovett and others.

They'll be at the farmer's market on Copley Square on 10.23, and back at the Irish Famine Park on Wednesday 10.24. Check them out. Request Let's Get Away.

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Jame Lipton: I was young...i needed the money

That excuse has been used more than once...

From the National Review Online:

James Lipton, the host of U.S. talk show, Inside the Actors' Studio, once worked as a pimp in Paris, France.

The revered TV presenter, who has sat down with Hollywood's biggest names for in-depth chats about their life and work over the last 13 years, has revealed he once procured clients for French hookers.

He says, "This was when I was very very young, living in Paris, penniless, unable to get any kind of working permit... I had a friend who worked in what is called the Milieu, which is that world and she suggested to me one night, `Look, you'll be my meck... We would translate it perhaps... as pimp.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Web 2.0

Sat through a presentation today of Web 2.0 and all it's implications.

People are ruling the Internet. It's a true democracy. It's communication, not monologue. It's interaction. It's honest.

True, all true. But you still have to be careful. Case in point: product reviews. A product can live or die based on what people say about it. But, who the heck are these people? Case in point: The presenter today just happened to use a site for an example where people could write reviews. The site was to learn about outdoor gear. There was an image of some urban woman model striding along, power walking and I noticed a couple of reviews for trekkers (shoes).

I'm a pretty serious hiker. I used to work for both REI and Eastern Mountain Sports. I think I know outdoor gear pretty well, and I'm leery to advise people about gear. Part of the reason is you can get killed out in the outdoors. And there are lots of people who would use a site inhabited by suburban mom power walkers to base their buying decisions for gear.

If you present information, no matter what--write reviews, comment on politics, write recipes--you have to have a modicum of knowledge in that area. And the thing about the Web is anyone can post (even me!) Not everyone is going to take the responsibility. Or they might think they're responsible, but haven't a clue what they are talking about. The rule still applies: You have to check the source. But there's no way of doing that on the Web.

So the Web is wide open and everyone has a say. That's the good news. It's also the bad news.

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Catalogs are a-clogging my mailbox

I guess the holiday season is coming, cause my mailbox is jammed with catalogs. LL Bean. National Geographic. Sundance. Territory Ahead. They all are filled with clothes and items that will prove to the world what a hip, tasteful, cool person I am if I wear and decorate my home with all this stuff.

It's called branding and taste and style. It's something we've all known about since the time we were teenagers and wouldn't be caught dead wearing a certain pair of jeans. It's gone way out of control now, though, to the point where it almost looks like people are wearing costumes, and not clothes. Looks like we're walking around on movie sets. Look at me: I'm a mountaineer. I'm a world traveler. I'm a rancher right out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I'm a rough but sensitive cowboy.

There's another word for it, too: Posing.

But I should talk. We all have a way we want to present ourselves to the world. Me? A pair of jeans. A scuffed up pair of boots. My beat-up old truck. My old flea-bitten dog. A guitar. What does that say about me? Effing Marlboro Man? LOL.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Manny says team has no reason to panic

From the AP on the MSN site:

With the Red Sox just one loss from elimination, the star slugger was asked about Game 5 of the AL Championship Series against Cleveland.

"Why should we panic?" he said Wednesday in a rare clubhouse interview. "We've got a great team."

And then, this: "It doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world."

Gotta love Manny. He isn't afraid to tell it like it is. To be himself. It isn't the end of the world. For the fans who live and breath the Sox, get a life. For the players, we've known all along, just like Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Mick Jagger, you're all just a bunch of entertainers who get paid a helluva lot of money. Instead of strutting the stage, you strut the ballfield. It isn't mom and apple pie anymore, and probably never was. That's marketing. That's branding.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are cousins

Lynne Cheney, the vice president’s wife, revealed this bit of political trivia during a television interview Tuesday.

Obama's response?

"Every family has a black sheep,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

As my co-worker, C, pointed out, this is better than learning that Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond were related.

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Green Line extension to Medford and Somerville

The Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford is in the first stages of development. An environmental review and preliminary engineering study is in the works. Work is slated to be completed by 2014 to the tune of $560 million.

Well, first we know it's going to go over budget and off schedule. These things always do.

And completed by 2014? Gee, what's the rush?

Sure, things take time, but man, by the time the extension is finished it will be out-of-date. I guess the project itself has been postponed time and time again over the course of 17 years. Who knows why, because for me, upgrading and extending the T all over Boston should be a main priority. Sometimes I think the money spent on the Big Dig would have been better spent on public transportation. Traffic is still snarled in the city. Maybe we should have knocked down the Central Artery, made a park, and built big parking garages north and south of the city where people would have parked then taken trains into and around the city.

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MBTA radio

Okay, I've heard it twice now, down below in South Station, and ya gotta wonder who's idea that was. What idiot marketing person came up with this idea?

Monday night I was strolling through, singing a song to myself (yes, I sing a lot to myself as I walk along these city streets) and I got interrupted.

Last night, same place. Coming down the stairs and into that central area where the Charlie card machines are, I heard the last bit of some pop song. Then some kind of announcement like, You are listening to MBTA radio.

First, it's only loud enough to be annoyingly noticeable. Second, it's annoying that some damn organization wants to tell me what to hear during the course of my commute. Plus commercials. I want to hear either my own music (and especially not some vapid pop crap) or my own thoughts.

Big question: Who's making money on this? Find where the money leads, and you got your answer. Does some T exec's brother-in-law sell this? What's the reason? Why do we need this anyway?

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The separation of professional and personal lives

The talk at lunch yesterday turned to the separation of private and professional lives. How you should or shouldn't keep things separate, and especially not post "compromising " pictures on sites like MySpace and FaceBook. And there was a slight nod to getting personal like I do on this blog.

My life is my life. It encompasses not just my work, but my family and friends and Sue, my interests in music and theater and books and the outdoors and travel and well, you get the idea. My life also includes my feeling and thoughts and values and ideas. I don't want to separate them out. I'm not going to post pictures of some drunken night I had, that's not the purpose of this blog anyway. But I'm not going to shy away from politics or even those nasty, gritty thoughts and feelings that we have deep in our recesses.

I work at a marketing agency where the dress code is lax, but I've worked places where there was a dress code. And people, commenting on the grey flannel suits and ties and dress shoes they were wearing would say, "This isn't me. On the weekends, I, blah, blah, blah."

Yeah, that is you. It's you if you're willing to compromise and do something you really don't like doing or feel uncomfortable all for the dollar, even if it's wear clothes you don't like. That says more about you than anything I'd ever put down in this blog.

When I was freelancing, I would walk into big fancy clients wearing my daily wardrobe of Levis, scuffed cowboy boots, and open shirt. It said, this is me, this is what you're getting, I'm comfortable with it, now let's all make us some money. If some potential boss is going to judge me and not hire my based on this blog, well, that's for the better all the way around. Why the heck would I want to work someplace where I can't be who I am? Or work for someone who won't accept me for who I am?

Like the profile says, read the blog, draw your own conclusions. If you don't like what you see...well, get in line. There are a lot of people who don't like me, just like there a whole bunch who think I'm A-OK. Just fine the way I am.

I guess I could fabricate some online persona just to keep my personal life a secret. Just to get a job. I could post a picture of me, a pretty blonde wife, a cute little boy and girl with a golden retriever. I could swallow my opinions and my beliefs and my prejudices, and keep them hidden. That kind of deceit isn't for me though. Always tell the truth. Always seek the truth. It really won't hurt you.

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Madonnna partners with Live Nation

Madonna broke ranks with Warner Music and signed on with music promoter Live Nation in a "global partnership." The "partnership"--I love that word, especially when used by corporate types; they use the word in the same shallow way that I've said Americans use the word, "friend"--encompasses all of Madonna's music and music-related business including albums, touring, merchandising (hey, get your Madonna t-shirt, perfume, stainless-steal (sic) bra), fan club/website, DVDs, television and movie projects, and associated sponsorship agreements. That last bit sounds like lawyerese for, "and everything else we couldn't think of but we can make a buck off." Be prepared for lots and lots of litigation in the years to come.

Well, shit...

As I've posted and ranted about for awhile now, the paradigm has shifted (and I think that's the last time I'll use that particular phrase because Madonna's been quoted in the press as saying that. If Madonna's picked up on it, I'm packing my bags and heading further out on the fringe where it's quiet.) Musicians have to figure out other ways to get their music out there, figure out other ways to get heard.

But this isn't about music. This is about the almighty dollar. And more and more bands and entertainers are going to milk the cash cow. Why shouldn't they? Well, for one reason, it's gonna mean that things--tickets, a souvenir t-shirt, a beer, hell, a download--are just going to get more expensive. When you see the phrase, revenue stream, in an arts story, you know the somebody's selling out somewhere big time.

Madonna, though, deciphered something called branding a long time ago. She's a product and people buy it/her. I don't know who's buying, but Live Nation expects to reap $1 billion during the life of the contract.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guitar Town

Everybody told me you can't get far
With 37 dollars and a crap guitar.


Actually, the lyrics are, "With 37 dollars and a Jap guitar<" but it's an easy fix to appease the PC crowd, and I kinda like crap guitar better anyway.

Just speaks to overcoming adversity, that's all.

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A half-million dollar condo

There's changes in the wind...

Sue and I were out this weekend looking for apartments in Boston. We get so despondent. Sue found what looked like an apartment in Washington Square so we headed up into Coolidge Corner to look around. (The apartment was taken, anyway.) I don't know what I ever saw in that part of the city. We were grabbing a bite to eat, watching people go by on the sidewalk and I thought to myself, these are going to be be my neighbors. I've done the young, urban couple thing. I've done the push the baby carriage around. You get older, you change. Hopefully for the better, right? But I couldn't see myself having anything in common with most of the people we saw.

We walekd. And talked. And sat. And talked.

We saw a sign for an open house and went in. A condo for a half-million dollars. Good God. Just a normal abode in Brookline. Nothing that special. And what I thought about, as we trudged down the stairs was that, yes, it was a nice place, but I know what happens--if you have that kind of money to begin with.

At some point something happens. Something changes. Someone loses their job. Or a change happens at work. Or you change. And you not only have this monster mortgage, but you have condo fees and other bills including credit cards to furnish the condo in the manner in which it is used to being decorated because you can't just put some cheap fouton in the living room. And so you have to give up something really important in your life to pay those bills.

You compromise your dreams, your hopes, your values. And it gets to the point where you don't even know you're doing it. Or if you do you just get mad, or depressed, but you just do whatever it takes to keep that condo. You don't see your kids. Don't see your spouse. Work so hard under so much pressure that the love you once had in your marriage or your relationship just whithers.

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. Some people can deal with this, no problem. I can't. I couldn't. Didn't want any part of it then, don't now.

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Tennessee Blues

fare thee well i'm bound to roam
this ain't never been my home

blue dog on the floorboard redhead by my side
cross the mighty hudson river to the new york city side
redhead by my side, boys sweetest thing i've found
goodbye guitar town

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Radiohead distributes In Rainbows on Web, pay what you want

Is it the final nail in the music industry’s coffin? The end of CD sales? A giant leap forward in the way music is distributed?

The answer to all the above is no.

First of all, it was interesting that this news came through the arts side of the news business, and not from business writers. This is a business story, not arts news.

Radiohead’s decision to distribute their latest album and let people pay whatever they want is just a little experiment to see what will happen. Because the simple truth is no one yet knows what to do with this thang called the Internet, especially when it comes to the music industry. But the one thing we do know is this: It’s one heckuva delivery vehicle. (More on this later.)

Radiohead’s decision to let people pay what they want is an interesting choice. It’s like busking over the Internet. Instead of playing in subway stations and city squares with an open guitar case, they’re letting people decide how much spare change to part with using their Visa cards. Interesting. Radiohead can do this because they’re established. They can experiment a little with their cash flow, or so I’m assuming. They’re cool, ‘cause they’re not signed to any record contract, so it looks as if they’re independently probing different business models with the Internet as the foundation. Smart.

And asking people for something, anything, is a nice little gesture, again, a nice little experiment because the age of getting free music is here, and sorry, RIAA, it’s here for good. There’s no getting around it. If anything, Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want policy might set the baseline for downloads. Let the people decide what’s fair. (Democracy is still very much alive on the Internet.)

Big fat record execs had it made for a long time because there was no mechanism for efficiently copying and distributing music. But that sort of idea has been around forever. I’m a writer. I write a book. You buy my book and like it, what do you do? You pass it along to a friend. You don’t say, hey, that’s stealing. Or you don’t even buy it; you go to the library and borrow it. You like something in it, you go to a copier and print out one, ten, a hundred copies of the passages. There have been copyright laws in place forever but no one ever paid any attention to them. That’s been the writer’s life.

Then came the Internet and kaboom…(see the notation above about the ‘Net being a delivery vehicle on steroids.) The music industry just was in the wrong place at the wrong time…sorta. I say sorta because business and technology are always changing and it changes fast and big.

But the record execs were too busy counting their money to see the paradigm shift. The Internet was coming down the tracks like a locomotive and they either didn’t see it or understand it to begin with. Probably the latter. And now they’re crying piracy and trying to make us all feel bad with their moralistic stance (it’s stealing! Stealing? What do you call pricing CDs way over the cost of manufacture and distribution just because you’re greedy?) The simple fact is they weren’t quick enough to change. There’s still money to be made. Tons of it. In concerts and promo items like forty dollar t-shirts and eight dollar cups of bad, water-down beer. Music is now a commodity, sad to say.

Nashville has the idea, sort of. Not that I like any of the music that comes out of Guitar Town, but the town loads up with great studio musicians and songwriters and matches them up with country singers. They turn them into a product no different than dish detergent or toothpaste, a product that can fill stadiums with forty dollar-t-shirt and eight-dollar-a-beer-buying fans.

Other musicians take other routes. Alt/indie folks gets their music in the fans' hands any way they can, realizing that a good way to build a fan base is in the philosophy that if they hear it will come. Forget FM drive-time play. Get your song played on Gray’s Anatomy or some show about blondes in southern California and you got a hit. You’re not a musician if your not giving your fans access to your music for free on MySpace.

It’s all just part of the wild crazy way musicians are living today, and thank God it’s starting to put some control back with the artists.

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Walking through the Fire

Let's stick with Mary Chapin Carpenter for our morning song today...

I can hear Sue singing this...

When you set a match to your heart, fueling it with bitterness and doubt
That's the place that once it starts, no amount of tears can put out
I know you're scared, but no one's spared when you play with matches
You got me walking through fire
You got me walking through fire

Maybe you've been burned by lovers, maybe you've been scarred by the pain
But baby, I'm not like the others, drawing moths to a flame
Spite is like a spark, crackling in the dark, consuming all it catches

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Music to my nose

I finally put away the tent we used in Utah. It's only been what?--three weeks ago we got back? Big deal. I don't think I took down my Christmas tree until March this past year. I'm constantly tripping over backpacks in my apartment, left over from some hike. It's not unusual for a sleeping bag to be found draped over the couch, airing out. Or a bladder drying on a towel rack in the bathroom. My beat-up hiking boots were cluttering up the landing for a good week, and my trekking poles were rattling around the front seat of the truck until a week ago.

I wiped the thick layer of red dust off the groundcloth yesterday morning in the bathtub, transferring the dust from the cloth to my hands, reminding me that that's the way my skin felt for a solid week. Dry but not dirty. It's a clean dirt, powdery and fine, like talcum.

And the tent I yanked out of compression bag this morning; it was already partially out anyway because I didn't want to stuff it tight in the bag. It's an REI Quarterdome UL, supposedly a two-person tent, but it's really a one-person-and-his-dog tent. Sue and I do just fine in it, though. One night, the night we had it pitched on slick rock on the edge of a canyon and thunderstorms ripped all around us, we even had all our gear in there with us. I slept that night propped up on my pack, and I never slept better.

When I yanked the tent full out, the pungent smell of ripstop/tent filled the room. I imagine Bob experiences the world and all its rich smells that way...so strong, that a smell conjures up an entire journey for him. That explains why he gets so excited when I pull gear out of the closet in preparation for a trip that's still day's away. The symphony of smells the gear gives off--mountain air, mud, cool stream water, rock, and wood smoke--is music to his nose. (That's possible, right?)

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Passionate Kisses

Let's start our day with a song. Mary Chapin Carpenter nailed Passionate Kisses cleanly, but Lucinda does a nice job wailing this one out, too.

Is it too much to demand
I want a full house and a rock and roll band
Pens that won't run out of ink
And cool quiet and time to think
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you


Hell, I don't want much, do I? Can I throw in world peace, too?

Just for the record, I'm lucky enough in my life to have most of that stuff, except for the rock and roll band and the pens. I'm short on pens right now. Come to think of it, I'm also a little short on the cool quiet. Don't have any time to think either.

Hmmm....well, when all you're left with are passionate kisses, who's gonna complain?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Never eat at a place called Mom's

...or climb into bed with a woman with more problems than you. (Or almost as many as you.)
--Seldom Seen Smith

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Lindsay Lohan out of rehab

I try to keep as far away from even thinking, much less blogging, about Hollywood types and especially spoiled little, entitled Hollywood types. But I can't get Lindsay Lohan out of my mind because she actually seems to be telling the truth and wanting to straighten out. (And right now there's a voice screaming in my head, saying when oh when are you going to learn? Forget Hollywood glamour pusses, you can't even do this in your own life, getting burned time after time after time. When are you ever going to learn not to trust people?)

She actually spent the full time in rehab, not checking out after a day or even a week or two. Rehab is just the start, and it takes time...lots of time.

She's going to stay out of Los Angeles and away from the people who encouraged her substance abuse (those people are called enablers, just so you know.) Always good to take temptation away, especially if you're someone who believes the best way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it.

Is she afraid of a relapse? "Of course I am!" she reportedly said (exclamation mark not mine.) Knowing the devil is just over your shoulder is also a good sign. Fear is a great motivator.

Anyway, good luck to her. Not that I know shit about her except that she's in the news a lot, looking a lot like a train wreck, like so many other of the glitterai.

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A lottery ticket in my pocket

I've been carrying around a couple of Mega Millions lottery tickets in my wallet for a while. I play the Lottery occasionally, usually when I'm buying a six-pack and I'm feeling a little more desperate than usual. You know I'm really reaching for straws when I plunk down a dollar for a quick pick. Gee, maybe there is one chance in a gazillion that I'll win millions and millions of dollars. I mean, somebody's gotta win, why not me?

Well, the quick answer is no, no one has to win, that's the way the Lottery is set up. I don't even really expect to win. I guess that's a good thing; then I'm never disappointed. Or I play Cash Winfall, which usually doesn't have a pot of much more than a million. I don't want God to think I'm greedy. Really, Lord, I can get by on $750,000.

I think what you're really buying for your dollar is a little bit of hope. That ticket in your hand is a license to dream a bit. Who hasn't ticked off the things they'd do if they scored big? Pay off debts, buy a boat, throw a party for all your friends, help some of your friends out (the real fun is picking which friends you'd invite and which friends you'd help.) You can really get a sense of someone's values when they start dreaming about winning the Lottery.

Me? I swear I won't change, but who knows if that's true. I can't imagine having that much money not changing a person. On the surface I say I'd still drive a beat-to-shit pickup ('cause now I could really afford the gas) and maybe drinking better beer, but that's me just trying to cast himself as a common man.

But I do know one thing, after setting up my kids, Sue and I would get the hell out of Dodge, for a long, long time.

Oh, and I checked this morning and I wasn't carrying a winning ticket, which is why I'm typing this in an office in Boston, and not from some warm beach somewhere with Sue sitting next to me in her bikini.

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On the Orange Line

A young African-American girl, earbuds firmly plugged in somewhere under her cap and hair, stared hard at her miniaturized MP3 player in her hand like it held the secrets of the universe. She was totally immersed in her music, feeling it, moving to it, singing it quietly. I love seeing that. I don't know where she was, where her music was taking her, but I wanted to go there with her.

Music, particularly now when I'm playing it, does to me what running used to do, only more gently. Running unhinged my mind, and the thoughts just ran free like wild horses. Music transforms me, and just like a warm blanket doesn't get rid of the cold it just protects me from the cold, music doesn't get rid of the bad memories and feelings, they just don't hurt for some reason. Baxter knew what he was doing when he handed me LuLu a year ago.

So, I don't know where that young girl's mind was this morning, but I have a pretty good idea what she was feeling, and it was a joy to see.

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On the commuter rail

On the crowded commuter train this morning, an older woman staggers down the aisle of the moving, lurching car. Not a single person, not a sinlge young, healthy person in the predominantly white, suburban crowd gets up and offers a seat, except for the old guy with the bad back.

"No, that's all right," she says.

"No, really, take a seat. I kinda like standing," he lied.

"Well, if you insist," she said, gratefully.

Before he absorbed himself back in his book, he looked at the faces of all his fellow commuters, and wondered just what the hell happened to manners, and respect, and taking care of your fellow man.

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Mr. Tambourine Man

Let's, as always, start the morning with a song.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.


I love this song, and to this day I have no idea what it means. And I'm not the only one. Hunter Thompson, in a memo to Rolling Stone publisher, Jann Wenner, about his manuscript, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, said trying to figure out Fear and Loathing was like trying to figure out the meaning of Tambourine Man.

But I imagine a Tambourine Man, like the Pied Piper or a Catcher in the Rye, protecting me and leading me away to some place better.

Maybe this should be my travelin' song. It can't be Leaving Normal, by the Junkies, so says Sue, because I still can't play Normal on the guitar. Goddamn Michael Timmins, anyway, and his fancy strumming in the opening. "How can it be your travelin' song if you can't play it?" she asked. Good point.

Your travelin' song is the one that exemplifies your spirit on the road, and the one that is finally sung at your funeral, where either Sue or I will sit in The Chair and hold the other's hand for the last time. Like my spirit sign tattooed on my shoulder.

I play it, as Lori McKenna might say, in the key of capo on the third fret. I heard her make that joke once in concert, and that's like I play. I play chords sometimes that I don't even know the name of. I just found them and they sound good where they are and that's good enough for me. Someday I'll learn their names, maybe, or maybe not. I don't get too uptight about that. I keep remembering that Stevie Ray Vaughan couldn't read music, and shit, look how he played.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

God love VW


Thanks to Jen A for this one...

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We're all in this together

The Internet indeed is amazing the way it ties us all together. I've known for what seems like forever that we're all connected, we're all in this together...by this I mean this weird reality we call life...and the Internet, in turn, proves it in a digitally geographical way.

Just in the past couple of weeks or so, I've had people from Bogota to Brooklyn to Beverly Hills visit and read this blog. I've had people in Shinjuku, New Delhi, La Plata, and Mont-Royal stop by. I even seem to have a fan in Clinton, Washington, on Whidbey Island, who has stopped in on occasion. Now who in the heck on Whidbey Island would care about me or what I have to say? This is what makes the Internet so darn fun.

Anyway, I know I've got this one-way thing going here. That's not communications; that's monologue. There is a way to comment, but I know people can be shy. But just so you know, if you decide to leave a comment, I see it before it's published. So if you want to drop me a line and start a dialogue, that's a cool way to do it.

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More on Blog Action Day

Well, first off, I love the title, as you might tell from the name of this blog.

And if I can do anything to leverage the "power" of this blog to advance environmental issues, I will. Not that I'm sure what gazillions of bloggers around the world will be able to do for a day. Nor am I sure what I'll post on that day. I'm just mulling over ideas, now, but we'll see.

I tend to vote green, and read writers who have a strong interest in the environment and nature. Right now, as regular visitors to this site know, I'm reading The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. Another favorite book of his is Desert Solitude. His take on the industrialized world and what it has done to the natural world, particularly that most beautiful part of the world I just visited, southern Utah, should be hot-wired into every young person today and rammed up the collective asses of every politician, developer, and banker.

Redmond O'Hanlon is another all-time favorite. He's the only person I know who can make the story of one of his best friends going slowly mad in the South American rain forest funny.

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Christians: Not like us

Seldom smiled. "We'll all go in with you, Doc, the four of us together, and you can say, 'I need a houseboat for my friends here, one for the gal, too, that'll be sixty-footers, please.' The man at the desk he'll be kind of surprised but he'll oblige. Them people'll do anything for money. You'd be surprised. They ain't like us, Doc. They're Christians."
--The Monkey Wrench Gang

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The ties that separate

In this day and age in the business world, your team members are usually scattered all over the world. Conference calls, IM, email are how you all talk to one another. But sometimes we depend too much on the digital world, and it doesn't bring us together, but instead pulls us apart a bit, and sometimes in very funny ways.

I sat in a meeting today with people in Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. At least those are the cities where I knew there were people. There could have been others in other cities, too; I had no way of knowing.

Three-quarters of the way through an hour-long meeting, one guy in Detroit asked someone else who normally is in Detroit where he was, and lo and behold, he also was in Detroit. The first person then said, oh yeah, I can see you. Up until that point, neither person knew that the other one was within view of the other.

And some people might think this little story is funny, but I think it's pretty darn sad. They could have been sitting together, collaborating during the meeting, getting more information via personal contact. And it also exemplifies a general behavior in society in general. I think that while the digital age is bringing the farthest reaches of the planet together, for instance people in as far away places as Patagonia can communicate with people in the United States, the closer we are geographically, the more it separates us, as shown by my two co-workers sitting in nearby cubes.

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Depression: a logical reaction to society

There's blue, down, down in the dumps, unhappy, sad, melancholy, low spirits, doldrums, dejected, gloomy, glum, wan, mopey, down in the mouth, morose, mournful, weighed down...the list goes on.

We have as many names for depression, in all its myriad forms, as the Eskimos have for snow (fluffy, granular, icy...) I think for anyone who has lived to a certain age in our society, the only logical response is some form of depression. Anyone who can cheerfully go through a full day after the age of say, 35, is either a blooming idiot or heavily medicated.

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Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. The aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

Learn about it.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Song lyrics

I almost always have a song in my head, playing on a tape in the background of my mind. Like dreams, I've learned that whatever song it is, it's usually a fair indication of my mood, of how I'm feeling. Music means so much to me. In so many ways it saved my life. I'm still alive today thanks to the creativity of some really talented people who shared their gift with the rest of the world. Who shared their experiences and life lessons and widsom in musical form. I put the lyrics down here in this blog so the lyrics also might resonate with the few people who frequent this space.

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Me and this Road

But somewhere there's a bridge that'll take us out of here
Free as a river flows
Me and this road.

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OTL

Out to lunch

Outside the lines

Over the line

Over the limit

It doesn't matter, it's a great name for a band.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

The Sartorialist

Check it out.

Scroll down to Monday, October 1, 2007:
Friday Evening "Accordion Jazz Dance Night" , Milan

Great site, and this is such a sweet posting...

Thanks, K...

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The Low Anthem: What the Crow Brings

The CD release has come to Providence! We just sold out The Cutting Room in NYC so come early in the evening to ensure you get your free copy of What the Crow Brings. We'll give away 100 copies.

The line-up for the night is an incredible selection of musicians from VT, Boston, Western Mass, and RI.

The Low Anthem
The Accident that Led Me to the World
Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers
Avi and Celia
Roz Raskin
Chris Pappas (of The Everyday Visuals)
Dennis Emsley


These guys and gals are the real deal. blues, rock, folk, indie, the best of the best

Saturday - October 6

AS220
115 Empire St.
Providence, RI 02903

9pm - all ages - $10 - Free hand-made CDs

We'll see you soon. If you can't go to the show, be sure to download the record from Itunes

also, check out our new website:
www.lowanthem.com

to all, all the best,
Ben, Jeff, The Low Anthem

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Breaking the mold

Today, S, a young woman of Indian descent, came to work wearing traditional clothes, and R stepped off the elevator proudly wearing a beautiful pair of Western boots.

Finally, finally, in the same day, two women broke from the standard fashion regalia, the mid-American A&F/Gap/skateboard/surfer-dude uniform so prevalently worn here by all the young white people.

They looked so refreshing.

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Boston fire fighters and the First Amendment

On August 29, in the Boston neighborhood of West Roxbury, two fire fighters died while fighting a blaze that started as a grease fire behind the ceiling. "Sources" leaked autopsy reports saying that one was intoxicated and the other had traces of cocaine in his body.

A judge suppressed a television station from reporting the leaks, citing previous rulings about protecting the families of the dead men. Normally, I'd defend First Amendment rights, but in this case, I'm thinking the judge may know what she's doing.

In light of the reports, Boston Mayor Menino ordered a full review of the Boston Fire Department. Okay, not a bad idea, but the media tends to turn stuff like this into dramatic witch hunts. If the city thinks it's a good idea to see if there's a drug and alcohol problem within the ranks of the fire fighters, then do it calmly and intelligently without pointing fingers or bringing politics into play. Do it for the safety of the public and the fire fighters themselves.

None of this should diminish any acts of heroism or simple humanism performed by these two men.

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The presidential horse race

Hillary Clinton raised $27 million in the past three months ($27 million!!). Barack Obama raised $20 million. We don't even blink at numbers like that anymore, whether it's fundraising for a presidential election (if you want your candidate to win, damnit, you damn well have to pay for it) to professional athletes to the daily cost of the war in Iraq.

I think usual normal working stiffs just can't comprehend the size of the dollar amount. Just figure out your annual income, think about how hard you work everyday just to make ends meet, then just overlay that figure over a politician's war chest or a baseball pitcher's contract. You start by doubling, then doubling, then doubling some more, realizing that you would make that much sometime around the next ice age. The figures, you realize, are epochal.

Lots of people are saying Clinton is going to win. Bush, they say doesn't have a chance. Obama is losing steam, as indicated by his "lackluster" fundraising in the past three months. (I wish my paycheck was that lackluster.) I don't know about Clinton. The Northeast is so insular. People here forget there areSti 3,000 miles between here and northern California, and I still can't see people in say, Nebraska, voting for Hillary. But other, smarter, more politically astute people start dickering with all the electoral votes, and they say it's clear she'll win.

I'm not sure I'd want either one in the White House, but I know a few people that would just spit nails if Clinton won, and it might be worth seeing the look on their faces to have it happen.

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Winter's coming; take a walk

Winter and cold will soon be here. It's the thing about fall that makes me kind of blue. While the days are so gorgeous here in New England, and nature is pulling out all the stops like the horse smelling the barn, I still can't help but think of the dark and cold and wet that soon will be here for so long.

I hate to use the word bittersweet because it's so overused and so cliche and sappy, but that's a bit what it's like. I, like I'm assuming many people, can hold and feel two opposing emotions like joy and despair at the same time. Weird, and it makes for some interesting and frustrating interplay with some people, mostly those who are concrete with their feet planted firmly on the ground. Serious types who insist on the world being black and white.

So...on my commute I've been getting off the train at Back Bay and taking the Orange Line to Chinatown, one stop before Downtown Crossing where this winter I'll be able to get off and keep dry by ducking under overhangs on the short walk to the office. Now, I stroll up Washington Street while I can still enjoy the nice weather.

Downtown Crossing/Washington Street is still vibrant, despite the construction on the Filene's Building that caused all of those vendors to vacate. At that hour workers and street people co-mingle. The constant flow of people delights me. An Asian nun gives way to a heavy-set woman with a small tattoo on her jiggling bosom. Another heavy-set woman pushes a stroller with one hand and walks a small chew-toy dog with the other. It's getting late in the season, but two tourists orient themselves to that standard map the info centers hand out. Rounding the corner of the Filene's Building, I almost run smack into one of those bicycle-riding Boston cops. I try a smile but his work is grim and serious; he wants no part of it.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

On the Roadish

Last night I had to pick up my daughter at the high school after what I thought was volleyball practice. Instead she had a game, so I was sitting there in an empty parking lot more than an hour before the team's bus was due to arrive from the game.

Not a problem.

I almost always have a book (this time it was The Monkey Wrench Gang), I had four CDs with me, and I had stopped off at the grocery store before heading over to the high school so I had a bag of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, peanuts, ginger ale, apples, grapes, bananas, cheese, plus a few other things. I was all set.

So I popped in Chris Knight, rolled down the windows so I could hear it, and ate fried chicken, drank a ginger ale, and finished off some peanuts, throwing the bones in a bucket that's rattling around in the bed of my truck and the shells just got tossed in the bed. Just leaning against the truck and thinking about high school and life as I know it in Holliston, Mass. Which is not to say it's all good. It all sounds romantic and On the Roadish, but there's comes a point in your life where you have either have to make changes or die (and sometimes a metaphorical death is worse than the real thing: your eyes are still open) and I think I'm at that point.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Friendship

Now this is more like it.

After blogging just today about my friends, or lack of them, I get this email. This is what I'm talking about.

Now this is more like it!

Are you tired of those sissy "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see no cutesy little smiley faces on this email. Just the stone cold truth of our great
friendship....

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile -- I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much Worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.

7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

9. This is my oath... I pledge it to the end. "Why?" you may ask; "because you are my friend".

Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it, But only you
can feel the true warmth.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, Then get depressed because you can only think of four.

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Daddy's Junky Music

One of these days I'm going to walk into Daddy's Junky Music and they're going to stop me and say, either buy something or get the hell out. I go in at least once a week around lunchtime, play their expensive guitars, dream a little, then maybe buy some picks, or maybe an occasional songbook.

Which is what I did today. Except...when I walked into the acoustic guitar showroom there was this young guy in there just playing along. Kind of a hippie/troubadour-looking kid with the cap and the slouch.

Okay, usually, when you're the only one in a music showroom you can bang away, but once more people come in you tend to quiet things down a bit, just out of politeness and respect for the other person. Not this guy. He actually started singing. While at first it was kind of annoying, it actually got kind of funny when he started singing because he couldn't sing. Not well, at least. But he sure thought he could. And he couldn't play that well either, because, laughably, he played like I do: kind of repeating the same chords over and over again, because that's all I really know right now.

You got to wonder what the hell goes on in some people's minds. Can he really not hear himself, or is he thinking American Idol is his ticket out here? Does he really think that his boring style of playing is something that everyone wants to hear? Is he really that stupid when it comes to music that he doesn't know good from bad?

Why do I think, "yes", is the answer to all those questions?

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Good-bye to all my friends

Good-bye to all my friends. And truthfully, they weren’t my friends to begin with, and I think it’s time to just sort of simplify things.

When I was young, I had maybe one or two very close friends. That seemed to be all I needed. Then something happened, and more and more people entered my life. It was fun (most of the time.) For the most part they were fun to have around; it’s nice to be in the center of things, be invited to parties, but many times I sensed there was something missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It centered around intimacy, the real deep sharing that friends, I thought, did. Like when we were kids, and your best friend knew your deepest secrets, and still liked you for it. That incredible level of trust that you had with a person, knowing that he would always be there. That was always missing. I thought at times I had found it, but I was wrong. So wrong…

I think I make a pretty good friend, in the true sense of the word. But it’s time to stop being a doormat. It’s time to stop letting people walk all over me in the name of friendship.

Sue has said that Americans misuse the word, friend, and that it throws many non-Americans. We use the word friend where other nationalities might say acquaintance. How sweet and naive, huh? In this day of MTV and reality TV, where the vilest, most base people are glorified, I’m looking for some reincarnation of Mayberry RFD. But that’s the way I am. I’m dumb and I'm naive and I’m a hick and I’m “a little bit country.” So what? I like who I am.

I heard a person say he or she was my friend, and I’d think they were talking in the true meaning of the word. I’ve been burned more than a few times on that. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, because I never wanted to be harsh or hard or hurtful to someone. Rejection is a horrible feeling and I didn’t want to inflict it on anyone.

I watch my daughters and their friends. They are true friends to one another. That's the teen years. As we get older, most of us lose the idealism and dreams of our teens. But I think that we are our most lucid when we're that age. We can still see the world clearly, and we can see who and what we want to be. I know I did. I’ve strayed so far from who I was when I was 18, and when I really try to get centered I go back to that time, to my hopes and dreams when I was that age, and things seem to feel better then.

I think growing up, as it is called, is highly overrated. What's called growing up is really growing hard.

When one of my daughters' friends gets hurt, they're there for one another. They have understanding, and more importantly, empathy. They really feel for one another in the truest way. Adults shut off the feeling, because of the years of feeling eventually wears on them. They're cowards, and run from the pain, even though pain isn't always what they feel. They’d rather shut out the good because of the bad; they, as it is said, throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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The perfect moment

The best part of being an insomniac is the quiet hours. The time when the rest of the world is asleep.

I never used to be a morning person. But now, I'm usually awake before 5:00, sometimes the clock says 4:00 and I'm just there. I've heard that as you get older you need less sleep. Or, I don't know if you need less; maybe your body is telling you that life is running out, and you should be aware of it as much as possible. I'm not that old; hell, I'm not old at all. Maybe someone, or something, is telling me life is running out. Sometimes it feels that way.

This morning, I had enough time before chasing the train to sit for a good half hour and just strum my guitar. I sat on the edge of the couch, just staring out at the foggy morning, and there are times when everything just works, the feeling that the day and this life and me and everything is just in sync for the moment. All the bad is gone, and it's a good feeling to coax pretty sounds from an instrument, or make just the right image with a camera, or, as Hemingway wanted to do, write the perfect sentence. That right combination of words, in the right order, no more, no less, that capture the spirit of something beautiful.

So maybe a half hour is all I'll be blessed with today. If that's it, I guess that's it.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Monkey Wrench Gang

The desert eased his vague anger. Near the dirt road which turned off the highway and led east for ten miles to the volcanic ramparts of Kofa Mountains, he stopped, well away from the traffic, and made himself a picnic lunch. He sat on a warm rock in the blazing spring sun, eating pickle and cheese and ham in onion roll, washing it down with beer, and opened himself through pore and nerve ends to the sweet stillness of the Arizona desert.

The river, the canyon, the desert world was always changing, from moment to moment, from miracle to miracle...

"The wilderness once offered men a plausible way of life," the doctor said. "Now it functions as a psychiatric refuge. Soon there will be no wilderness." He sipped at his bourbon and ice. "Soon there will be no place to go. Then the madness becomes universal." Another thought. "And the universe goes mad."
--Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

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Guitar Town

Gotta keep rockin' why I still can
I gotta two pack habit and a motel tan
But when my boots hit the boards I'm a brand new man
With my back to the riser I make my stand
And hey pretty baby won't you hold me tight
We're loadin' up and rollin' out of here tonight
One of these days I'm gonna settle down
And take you back with me to the Guitar Town

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When coyotes yell

Worked on it some more last night and here's where it went...starting to think of the tune a bit...it's coming...it's so much fun and so exciting to see a song come alive...

Sue gave me Jonatha Brooke's CD, Plumb, for my birthday. Love the way she writes, love her lyrics and the surprises that come out of the way her songs turn this way and that.

I woke from a bad troubled sleep with somebody on my mind---
I pushed aside the tent flap,
and saw my old friend, the hunter and his dog coming up behind.

What are you doing? I asked. You weren’t due back for another few months,
I couldn’t imagine something wrong, and if there was
I couldn’t imagine him coming to me in a song.

Everything was right, everything was bright, and that’s when the coyotes started to fight.
Ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell,
but no one invites them to set a spell?

I pulled on my pants pulled on my boots
and we walked for awhile in the desert night.
I said you always bring a chill, and he laughed and said you have no idea,
and I laughed and said oh maybe I do.
That’s when he looked at me and I looked back
and suddenly felt myself grow a little bit slack.
I gulped real hard and said, now? And he said, well maybe, it was up to me.
My dog’s getting old and so am I,
but still not sure the time is right and he said that’s fine, there’s time.

Everything was right, everything was bright, and that’s when the coyotes started to fight.
Ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell,
but no one invites them to set a spell?

We walked some more and he asked me about you,
wondered if I’d miss you and I said sure, you would too.
He didn’t say nothing about that, just shouldered his pack
and gave me that smile, and said, I’ll be back in a while,
how ‘bout you?
Yeah, sure I guess, but I don’t know when,
I wish I did but you know and my voice trailed off then.
He gave a whistle I did too, his dog came running but you know Gus,
he’s always sniffing around for something to fuss..

I couldn’t follow and I couldn’t go back, the desert’s got a way of doing that and that’s when the coyotes started to fight. Ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell, but no one invites them to set a spell?

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Monday, October 1, 2007

When coyotes yell

I woke from a troubled sleep with somebody on my mind---I pushed aside the tent flap, and was surprised to see my old friend, the hunter and his dog at his heel. What are you doing? I asked. You weren’t due back for another few months, what’s the deal? Is everything all right? I couldn’t imagine something wrong, and if there was I couldn’t imagine him coming to me in a song.

Everything was right, everything was bright, and that’s when the coyotes started to fight.
And he said ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell, but no one invites them in for a spell?

I pulled on my pants and pulled on my boots and we walked for awhile in the desert air. I said you always bring a chill, and he laughed and said you have no idea, and I laughed and said oh maybe I do. That’s when he looked at me and I looked back and suddenly felt myself grow a little bit slack. I gulped real hard and said, now? And he said, well maybe, or maybe not, it was all up to me. My dog’s getting old and so am I, not sure it's the right time and he said that’s fine, we can wait.

Everything was right, everything was bright, and that’s when the coyotes started to fight.
And he said ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell, but no one invites them in for a spell?

We walked some more and he asked me about you, wondered if I’d miss you and I said sure, you would too. He didn’t say nothing about that, just shouldered his pack and gave me that smile, and said, I’ll be back in a while, how ‘bout you? Yeah, sure I guess, but I don’t know when, I wish I did but you know and my voice trailed off then. He gave a whistle I did too, his dog came running but you know mine, he’s always sniffing around for something to find.

I couldn’t follow and I couldn’t go back, the desert’s got away of getting real still and that’s when the coyotes started to fight. Ever notice how everyone likes to hear the coyotes yell, but no one invites them in for a spell? And that’s when I knew where my dog was.

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You gotta watch the left as much as the right

The introductory conversation around the breakfast table always includes where ya'll from. One woman, obviously a lover of oats and groats from her overall demeanor and subdued clothes, said she was from Burlington, Vermont.

It's filled with liberals, she said. It's a great place to live.

If you're a liberal, I said. Which I'm not.

Nor am I a conservative. I, quite frankly, feel you have to watch the left as much as you watch the right in this country. I've gone from being someone who used to read three newspapers a day (and write for one on a consistant basis) to someone who really can't tell a Democrat from Republican. No one seems to represent who I am, what I'm about, and what I value. I can't stand the present administration, but can't believe that Al Gore was the best the Democrats could come up with in 2004.

I'm more prone to throw my support behind people who use their influence to help the world. Say what you want about Bono and his collosal ego, but he's trying to make the world a better place. Lance Armstrong is another one, who is leveraging his money and his fame to change the world. I'm gonna get flack on this one, but Don Imus and his ranch out west is helping little kids with cancer.

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Happy Birthday from Dede

Yesterday was my birthday. I don't do birthdays very well. It's all tied up in feelings of self-worth (actually, no feelings of self-worth is the better way to say it.) I have a hard time being the recipient of love. Long story short, I don't feel I deserve it. And I've put myself in some bad situations and in with some really shitty people because I guess I felt that's the best I deserved. (You know who you are.)

Anyway, still, Dede sent me this link wishing me happy birthday from Margo, Michael, Peter, Alan Anton, Neil Young and Dede.

You're always so on spot, darling. Thank you so much...




There is a town in north Ontario,
With dreams comforts memories to spare,
and in my mind I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there,

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes.

Helpless, helpless, helpless
Baby can you hear me now?
The chains are locked and tied across the door,
Baby, sing with me somehow.

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes.

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