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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.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summertime Summertime



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Xinh Xinh Restaurant, Boston Chinatown

One of the best things about working on DTX is that you are within walking distance of Chinatown. A nice ramble and brushing up with the fabric of society brings you to a goldmine of Asian restaurants.

Up at the far end, the Washington Street end, are a bunch of Vietnamese restaurants. The Vietnamese moved into the neighborhood back when Boston's Combat Zone was still alive. It was dying but very much dealing in the skin trade, so real estate was cheap up there. Now there's only one strip club left, and while I've never been inside, it looks pretty tame on the outside.

Anyway, on a good day or when I want to treat myself, I head for Chinatown. Sometimes Saigon Sandwich. Super cheap sandwiches or little lunches for $2.50 consisting of rice or noodles, and chicken, pork, or beef.

Today I went to Xinh Xinh Restaurant and had takeout of chicken with lemon grass. The takeout was awesome. As you can see from Yelp, sit down meals are pretty darn good, too.

But it's not just for the food that I go to Chinatown. I guess, in one sense, I've never grown up. Growing up in the Midwest, I always wanted to be somewhere else. It seemed I never fit in. So, by the time I was 12 or 13, I was jumping on the #4 bus from Montgomery and riding to downtown Cincinnati. There I'd hang out in hotel lobbies and pretend I was a guest of the hotel. Pretty weird, huh.

All these number of years later, so much water over the bridge or under the dam, wherever the hell water goes, you'd think my imagination would have been shut off by now. But I go to Chinatown to take my mind out of the world. With not much work, I can transport myself to a more exotic place. And that's what I did today.

Different voices, different language, people who aren't so mainstream, who don't wrinkle their nose and say, it smells bad. (Chinatown does smell of garbage and a lot of other things including great food and city and funk and everything.)

Someday I hope to be living entirely in that world, and not just a little closet of that world, a little restaurant in Boston's Chinatown. And today, for about 10 minutes, it was pretty cool.

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After the Gold Rush


I'm reading Hotel California right now, the history of all that that went down in Laurel Canyon back in the late sixties and early seventies...kind of a rambling read...

But as I read it, I have more and more respect for Neil Young...there was so much talent there, but so much meanness and just hurtful behavior...he had the good sense to get the hell out and hole up in Topanga, which is also a fantastic name for a guitar.

And also, you can see how the music industry got to be what it is today, and why people are rebelling against it and doing their own thing.

Anyway, here's Neil doing one of the greatest songs of that time period, and one of my all-time favorites.

Thank you, boys (said in my best, Lawrence Welk, Svedish voice)...

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow

Toby Barlow is going to be reading from his book tonight at the Brookline Booksmith.

Okay, the book, Sharp Teeth, sounds pretty cool, but take the personality test at the site to find out what kind of werewolf you are.

Here's a synopsis of the book, and check out the site, it's a lot of fun.

Barlow’s gut-wrenching, sexy debut, a horror thriller in verse, follows three packs of feral dogs in East L.A. These creatures are in fact werewolves, men and women who can change into canine form at will (“Dog or wolf? More like one than the other/but neither exactly.”) Lark, the top dog in one of the packs who’s a lawyer in human form, has a master plan that may involve taking over the city from regular humans. Anthony Silvo, a dogcatcher and normally a loner, finds himself falling in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman. (“Standing on four legs in her fut/ she is her own brand of beast.”) A strange small man and his giant partner play tournament bridge and are deep in the drug trade. A detective, Peabody, investigates several puzzling dog-related murders. The irregular verse form with its narrative economies proves an excellent vehicle to support all these disparate threads and then tie them together in the bittersweet conclusion.


Tonight at 7 pm at:
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard Street
Brookline

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An MBTA Red Line moment

Coming home after dinner in the North End with my 20-year-old daughter, we were riding the Red Line. A real South Shore townie was further up in the car--excuse me, the cahr--talking loudly on a cell phone.

Suddenly, the rest of the passengers were riveted as the guy said in the most surprised voice, "You need a rubber for a blow job?"

Of course, he pronounced it rubba...

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A Boston cab moment

Al and I were standing over on Franklin Street; it was pouring buckets and we wanted to get over to the North End to grab a bite to eat.

I hailed a cab. The driver, speaking with an Indian accent, stopped me from getting in (remember, it was raining) and asked me first where I wanted to go. When I told him the North End, he pointed straight ahead to Tremont Street and said it's right up there and drove away.

Maybe it was better we didn't have him for a driver. (Note to non-Bostonians, the North End is in the other direction and would have been a nice faire for the driver.)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gonzo


a writer for whom any good writer has the utmost respect...



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Monday, June 23, 2008

Eve of Destruction

Just a good effing song...

You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place



The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad feels like coagulatin’
I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

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George Carlin RIP


I can't get through this day without mentioning George Carlin dying.

I almost put it up on my Facebook status. John is...really bummed about George Carlin dying. I tell you, I never met George Carlin, but I bet Facebook status lines didn't rank right up there on his A list. Fuck George Carlin, it's not on my A list either.

Anyway...

He was a genius, and was somebody I'd put on my I- would- like- to- sit- down- and- have- a- beer- with- this- person List. Along with people like Jackie Onassis. Couldn't you imagine having a beer with Jacki O? The thing is, I think she would have. The people on my list are actually people who I believe would have a beer with me. I can hear her saying, "Why not?" Well, I can hear her if she were still alive.

Anyway....

Carlin told the truth, that was the root of his comedy as it is all good comedy, and lately I've been wondering if the sixties haven't done us more harm than good (even though society did need a good shaking up) he was the guy who came up with the seven dirty words you couldn't say on the radio. This is more than comedy. This transcends comedy to the point where it changes society. It's truth and comedy and it's something powerful. This was about truth and the First Amendment and for a person who loves words the way I do, the following is like listening to music, it's like a freakin' rock opera, because he hears rhythms and watch his body, he's moving with the words and the words are moving him, which is what language or music should do.

Anyway, here are the seven words you can't say on the radio...and then he proceeded to use them throughout his career...



He was smart and saw the world for what it was and wasn't afraid to lay it out there. He was truthful and brave before he was funny. But he had a burning urge to communicate, too, and that's so him.

Anyway, here he is talking about religion:


And finally, children. I think my generation has made quite a few mistakes when it comes to taking care of our kids. And Carlin nails all the reasons why:


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The trouble with history....


"The trouble with history is that the people who really know what happened aren't talking and the people who don't...well, you can't shut them up."
--Tom Waits

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Summer Evening

Picked up this CD Friday night at the Lucy Kaplansky concert. Going Driftless, an artist's tribute to Greg Brown.

Then yesterday I hung out at the MFA. I'm not a big fan of the MFA, but there are certain things and places there where I go...my secret place.

Anyway, the new section has all those Winslow Homer's hanging, and this is a pretty famous one. Boys in a Pasture. I know this one. I lived this one. I know that hard ground those boys are lying on, ground baked by the hot Midwestern sun. I know the scratch and itch the stubble is putting against their skin, and the moistness that's on their skin from the humidity, but if they sit real still and quiet, as still and quiet as rabbits, there will be enough of a breeze that will keep them cool. And the things they'll talk about, they'll never talk about ever again anywhere or anytime in their lives.

Say this deal's about over, and I guess that's true,
Town used to have twelve stores, now we got two.
Big boys movin' in, small farmers movin' on.
The way may be goin', but the life ain't gone.

On a summer evenin' when the corn's head-high,
And there's more lightnin' bugs than stars in the sky.
Ah, you get the feelin' things may be alright,
On a summer evenin' before the dark of night.

Walked down by the river where my good fields are,
It's a dusty old road, but there ain't many cars.
Think about my wife, my daughter and my son,
If the good Lord's still lookin', the Lord's will be done.

But on a summer evenin' when the corn's head-high,
And there's more lightnin' bugs than stars in the sky.
Ah, you get the feelin' things may be alright,
On a summer evenin' before the dark of night.

Mmm, on a summer evenin' when the corn's head-high,
And there's more lightnin' bugs than stars in the sky.
Ah you get the feelin' things may be alright,
On a summer evenin' before the dark of night.
On a summer evenin' before the dark of night.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Today's Libra


From my horoscope on Facebook today, which as I've pointed out time and time again, doesn't mean squat...it's just a quick way to get something rattling around in my head.

Perhaps it's time to consider putting into effect the methods that you'd rather not use. You need some time alone but do not become too introverted. It is still necessary for you to interact with the outside world. Approach a long time project with a new angle if you want to get it done right.

Yes, I do need time alone, or rather, I need to get away. Just the other day I stood in the shower and realized after a couple of months it was great to stand there in the morning and not rehearse monologues. (Now all I have to do is memorize lines!)

But life is wearing on me. I haven't been away since last September when we went to Utah for a week, and that was the first time I got away in a couple of years. You don't notice it affecting you until you get away, but right now, nothing more than a spot next to the ocean with a chair and a book and a beer for a couple of weeks would be just grand. Just grand.

But I would never, never resort to methods "I'd rather not use." What are we talking about here?--invading Iraq?

We all end up on the same place, ultimately. What makes all the difference in the world is how we get there. And I intend to hold my ground and be that person I want to be. I don't always succeed. I guess truth be told most days I don't succeed. But I'm not going to do something just because everyone else is doing it.

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Lucy Kaplansky at Club Passim


Going to see Lucy Kaplansky tonight. Tell someone what you're doing and invariably you get people hiding smiles behind their hands. Covering up a snicker. I guess it's her name. I guess a Polish, ethnic name still has some residue on it, huh?

She's hot and great. Hanging with some great songwriters like Shawn Colvin and Susanne Vega and Nanci Griffith. Plus she's a doctor.

Here she is covering Ring of Fire:

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Today's Libra

My horoscope today on Facebook...

Again, this is the horoscope for the six jillion Libras on Facebook, so yeah, this is so me...it's more a departure point for me to blather on on this blog...

John, Keep your intentions out in the open where everyone else can get a good look at them. Where you once merely reacted, you are now in a position of control. Do not compromise and you will win the respect of others. Have faith that you have done the right thing in the past.

If I've learned anything in the past few years, is just keep focused on my own values and wishes. It's my life, and I can do whatever I want. I don't have to explain what I'm doing or how I feel, which is something I used to do all the time, trying to get my friends and people around me to understand me. It was so important to me that I was understood and liked. (Well, I am a Libra; we do like to be liked.) But that's all changed now. If you don't like me, well, get in line, because there are a helluva lot of people in front of you. I think that happens after you've lived a certain amount of years. You can't please everyone all the time, and after a while it just gets darn tiring.

And just throw everything out there for all to see. People are going to judge and criticize anyway, there's no changing that so don't hide it. I can't change how someone feels about me or what they think of me. You can for the short-term, but for the most part people are who they are and are going to judge and think and feel based on their own experience, and nothing you can do or say can change any of that.

And I do have faith in what I've done in the past. I've never wavered from that. I don't live my life frivolously, and I've never concertedly done something that I thought was wrong. I'm not like that. Not like that at all. You can thank the nuns for that one. They taught us (taught us?--hell they beat it into our heads) that you can even break one of the Commandments if you think, deep in your heart, that it's the right thing to do. Baxter told me there's even a name for that. He would know. Of course, I've forgotten what that word is.

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The Art of the Title

From Very Short List...the Art of the Title...

Sometimes, like all things that define cool, including actionbob, sometimes things fall a little flat, wouldn't you say?

But today, Very Short List came through with a real winner...

The Art of the Title is a big collection/tribute to the creative work that opens films. Sometimes these openings are better than the movies they open. I didn't see Stranger Than Fiction, but the opening makes me want to cut out of work, rent the DVD, lock myself in my apartment and sit on the floor with my dog with a big bowl of popcorn and ingest something reality-changing.

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The Big Dig was a Big Joke

I know this isn't news to anyone who commutes by car through the city, but I haven't had to do it for a long while, even when I lived out in the western 'burbs. But yesterday I had to drive from the South Shore through the city to North Andover during rush hour.

Don't ask why I was driving to North Andover. Why anyone lives up there is beyond me.

But...could someone please tell me what our billions of dollars bought from the Big Dig? It took me an hour to get from one side of the city to the other. I thought--naively, it seems--that tearing down that ugly raised roadway and putting it underground was also going to alleviate traffic jams.



It seems all that the powers that be did was take the awful traffic situation and put it out of sight. I knew that the Big Dig didn't do anything for those of us who lived to the west of Boston. The Mass Pike was still a parking lot out that way at both a.m. and p.m. rush hours. But I thought for some reason that the Big Dig was supposed to reduce the commuting time north and south of the city.

It was a big pile of cars, idling and polluting the sky, not getting anywhere...burning oil...using money we borrow from other countries like China to buy oil and pay off our other debts...

In the end, the Big Dig was just a big way to put a lot of money into people's pockets.

There wasn't a lot of vision that went into this Big Dig thing, was there? And by vision, I mean, some people out there who could think way beyond what the problem was. Public transportation. Something.

And don't tell me people won't ride public transportation. That they want their cars. In 1984, if someone had asked people what they wanted in a computer, no one would have said I want to have this thing that I can move around on my desktop click a button and point at pictures. The people at Apple came up with a mouse and graphical interface on the screen, called it Macintosh, and changed the world. Visionaries tell people things they don't know.

So, instead of just taking the same damn thing we had in Boston and burying it underground, they could have taken all those billions and torn down that ugly roadway, and built parking garages outside the city so anyone coming into the city could "pawrk their cawr" and take a way-cool transportation system that really worked throughout the city, and I mean throughout, one that connected all the parts of the city by train. Trains that worked. Trains that were comfortable and that ran on time and all throughout the day and night so they were dependable and you knew if you had to get somewhere you could get there on time.

And coming home, I sat in another traffic jam as road work was being done on the Southeast Expressway as it is always being done. You can't tell me that road needs to be torn up and fixed as much as it is. Or that the Mass Pike or any of the other roads around here need the same kind of work. We're just taking tax money that really doesn't need to be spent and handing it over to people who couldn't make it any other way without state or federal jobs to keep them going. It's pork-barrel politics, people. It's socialism, but no one wants to call it that.

The world could use a few good visionaries right now.

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Layla

What is it about rock musicians that they make their best music when they're on drugs or all fucked up in some other way? I go to Clapton's defense every so often. "Cool people" insist he's not so great, but when you asked them why they say that they can't answer. You get answers like, he just isn't. Which basically tells me someone told them that.

Anyway, I'm not deaf. Like so many others, he had a couple of great moments and that's it. And this was one of them. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be in love with your best friend's wife at the time...




What'll you do when you get lonely
And nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.

Chorus

Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way
And tell me all my love's in vain.

Chorus

Chorus

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celtics win; arts lose

The Celtics took NBA championship last night here at Boston. I guess it was a blowout.

I didn't watch it. As a matter of fact, I haven't watched one Celtic's game in a long time. Funny, the last time was over two years ago. I had gotten some tickets somehow and Sue and I went. It was maybe our first date.

It was a pretty day, so we met at my old apartment, took the T in to Boston. There was a David Hockney exhibit at the MFA that we both wanted to see but, the sweet thing that she is, Sue thought I was too broke to afford the museum, so suggested we just walk around Boston. Sue wanted to see where all that literature had been set, so we walked around Charles Street and Beacon Hill, and just talked.

Then we went to the Celtic's game, but not before Sue wanting to go to Hilton's Tent City--a girl of my own heart, I thought! We both pretty much got bored at the same time somewhere in the first half of the game, and then what has become SOP for us, we look into each other's eyes to get a bead on what the other one is thinking. We both knew and we got up and left.

Yesterday I was at the bank and the teller (yes, an actual humanoid and not an ATM) asked me if I was all ready for "the game"?

"There's a game?" I asked. I knew, but didn't care, and the teller actually gave me kind of a snotty roll of her eyes. Let's just keep our minds on the business at hand, namely my bank account, shall we?

I wish I were part of it (well, no, I don't; I really don't.) It's not the 1980's anymore and I'm not standing up on a table in a bar in Montreal writing, "Larry Byrd rules" on the ceiling. But it seems it was the place to see and be seen. Bill Billichick was there with his hot gf, and Steven Tyler, and Joey Kramer, Aerosmith's drummer. I don't think Jack was in the crowd, though.

So, last night, even if I hadn't had something else to do I wouldn't have watched. But instead I was in Cambridge hanging around actors and directors and writers.

The Celtics are champions, the Red Sox are champions, and the Patriots are step-children because they went 16-0 and then lost big in the Super Bowl. They didn''t win everything, they didn't win it all, so they aren't as good. I guess that's the way it goes in our world.



A few years back I was watching a middle school production of Cinderella that was riddled with horribly long scene changes (one lasted well over a minute), fumbled blocking, and missed lighting cues. And the members of the audience--most of whom of course were related to the kids on stage--were so accommodating. And I thought to myself, first of all, most of the people in the audience wouldn't know a technically good show if it fell on their heads. And second, if these sort of miscues and haphazard play were on a football field, basketball court, or baseball field, a lot of these people would be singing a different tune. They'd be a helluva lot more critical.

I'm not saying the arts should take the place of sports. I'm saying the arts should occupy the same place in our minds that sports do. I find it reprehensible that people know the nuances of the fast break, but don't understand the nuances of a well-rehearsed theater ensemble. I think it's absolutely mind-boggling that people don't understand Impressionism, or even what it is if they see it.

A 3-4-5 double play makes my knees go weak. So does a breakaway (in the Tour de France, peeps, not on the parquet floor) or a slant over the middle for a first down. But there are so many other things in this world, and the problem is most people can't absorb the world in its entirety.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Witness to Your Life

If someone saw me yesterday I was playing this song over and over on my Pod. Can't find a vid...this is off Lori McKenna's album, Unglamorous, kind of overproduced for my tastes, but she's happy, happy, so that's a good thing...

Anyway, I had to keep happy thoughts ringing in my head yesterday...good positive things, and this song reminds me so much of Sue and me. Sue and I aren't married, but people are always thinking we are, it's just the way we do things and act around each other. Actually, probably better. We can pretty much read each other's thoughts and when faced with something there's always this point where we're looking into each other's eyes and that's when we're a force of two.

Someone was crying and the bells ring
Then I don't remember a thing
You were talking but the words came - from somebody else
Someone said kiss her and so you did
I was smilin' like a little kid
You kissed my teeth and then we both hid - inside each other's arms

All you really need is someone to be here
Someone who never lets you disappear
And I will be that witness to your life
This may just be a softer place to fall
But somebody will answer when you call
And I will be that witness to your life

You got that job and joined the Union
Faught every urge that told you to run
Stared down the barrel of an empty gun - and wondered a bit
Stopped listening to all your friends
They think this is where life begins and ends
No one reaches, no one trandscends - they just learn to live with it

All you really need is someone to be here
Someone who never lets you disappear
And I will be that witness to your life
You should never have to be alone
Someone will always call you home
And I will be that witness to your life

All you really need is someone to be here
Someone who never lets you disappear
And I will be that witness to your life
Baby, I will be that witness to your life

Your car comes into view
And from our front lawn I just smile at you
And everyday I thank the Lord that you - took the right road home

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Father's Day?

I was going to ignore the whole Father's Day thing that was yesterday, but Becky C did such a nice job today that it got me thinking.

I'm not a big fan of Father's Day simply because it reminds me of what a shitty father I've been. I know the girls love me. I know everything is pretty much patched up, but I probably could go for the rest of my life not being reminded of the fact that I left their mother and was pretty much out of their lives for a good six to eight years. And for kids, they don't perceive it as you leaving their mother; they see it that you left them.

And the one thing that will make my heart ache to my dying day is that I wasn't able to kiss them goodnight for all those years. The warmth that comes off a sleeping child's head could breathe the life back into a dead man. And it did. 

And yesterday, I spent a beautiful day with my kids. They are two of the prettiest girls you could ever see. But more importantly, they are also growing up into really cool people. And they still love me, despite everything. 

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

My world today

These are the days made in heaven. Why we put up with the long, cold winters and the harshness of the city. 

Saturday, almost noon, and the breeze off the bay is stirring the leaves in the trees just outside the window, as if announcing itself before it enters and swirls around the house. The birds have settled down from their early morning ruckus. The pots hanging in the kitchen clang like wind chimes. 

The house is a bit topsy-turvey, in preparation of guests later. Important guests, too. 

All is quiet. Sue is off doing errands. The kids are doing whatever it is they do that makes them appear so busy. Bob, the Wonder Aussie, is happy to do guard duty on the floor at my feet. Lu is, I'm sure, plotting as I type these words.

I have a story due on Monday, and like all writers, am procrastinating. Anything is more intriguing to me right now over American Impressionism. I can do laundry, play scales, scoop up dust bunnies. But still a wizen face is in my mind's eye. No worries. 

There are certain people on my mind right now. As always, Sue is right there. The two kids of course. Two friends are ill. One, I'm assuming, will feel better today with some rest. The other I'm not even sure if she's out of the hospital yet, and will call her later. There's a good buddy whom I always wonder and worry about, and another who better be out riding Suzi or else he's nuts. 

And that's my world. Nothing important. Nothing earth-shattering. Things are coming along, and that's the way I like it. 


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Friday, June 13, 2008

Facebook keeps getting curiouser and curiouser...

I don't quite understand why a person who reads my blog on a fairly regular basis refuses to be friends on Facebook.

Or why we Google old boyfriends and girlfriends and kind of lurk in the shadows of the digital world.

Fear? Unresolved feelings?

Just sort of curious, huh?

There is a reason...and God love him, I think it has to do with Einstein. One of the many things that the digital world does is change time and space. And in the old days, if we broke up with someone, time and space would separate us, and except for people with serious boundary issues, the time and space would allow us to heal. (If you don't understand the meaning of that last sentence, check out the latest edition of the DSM.) Now, the Internet eliminates time and space and lets all those unresolved feelings work their charm/magic/undoing.

The digital world fascinates me. How it works. How it's changing us; not just how we do things, but actually changing who we are as a species. (We're going to have to realign ourselves with time and space, for one thing.) That's one of the reasons I took this job at the agency, to be immersed in what's happening in this new world. Not that any of us know what's going on. Trust me on this one: We're all feeling our way, making things up as we go along.

But Facebook...hmmm...I've already blogged about it once or twice before. I was about to quit a week or so ago just because I think it's pretty much a colossal waste of time, and kind of boring. You click a lot, but not a lot happens. But then Sue joined up. And then this other little issue cropped up (it's none of your business what it was; it's just not as seedy as you think), and suddenly...

For someone like Sue who has friends all over the world, it made for a handy tool to reconnect with people who she hasn't seen in a while. But what's weird is a lot of us tend to run in different circles. I have work friends and theater friends and music friends and crazy friends. And that's where Facebook falls flat. It just lumps all your "friends" into one big pot. Sue reconnected with friends, but plans to move to standard email soon.

Plus, when you're a certain age, the whole high school aspect of Facebook just makes it a bit juvenile. While I know there are lots of people who can't seem to get passed their high school years, some of us do like to live life in a little more adult fashion.

Just a couple of days ago I changed my Facebook picture, and changed my relationship. John is in a relationship with Sue. (The person you're in a relationship has to be on Facebook for you to do this.) Then I looked at it, and it looked so stupid. So I changed it. And suddenly it said I was single. Shit, I'm thinking, all my "friends" are going to think that Sue and I broke up. Suddenly I was in high school mode doing damage control. No, John is in a relationship. He's not a loser. He has a gf.

Gimmeabreak.

I joined Facebook for work. It's a fun little fishbowl to watch and not that hard to figure out on a superficial level. Get your friends together. Write a message. Write on your friends' walls. Update your status. John ... is tired ... happy ... stressed because he can't think of something witty to write every morning on Facebook.

Then it takes over. Rack up your number of "friends." Super poke this person. Kill this Vampire. Post pics, vids, links. You end up spending an enormous amount of time clicking around. Why?

Sue, during her teen years, was a champion dog trainer. Shelties. She taught me something with Bob. (Bob is a dog, in case you're new to this blog.) A trainer simply gets the dog to do what it does naturally. And that's what Facebook does. It sets up an environment so we can do what we do naturally. Why? For advertisers. Why else all the numbers? Why else would Facebook encourage developers to code apps like Take this Quiz: What kind of drug/drink/Lord of the Rings Character Are You? To attract all the members like flies to honey.

Co-worker Ryan, who knows infinitely more about this stuff than I do says that Facebook isn't ad-driven, but I think it is. I think it's just a lot less intrusive than most sites, which is the way to be in the digital world. Heavy-handed just doesn't work in the digital world. I mean, what was that little ad in the left-hand column today on my profile page asking the innocuous little question, Are you a songwriter? It took me a minute, until I realized that's in my interest. And then you can expand the page for even more appropriate ads.

And what about:



And:












These ads, and many more like it, are taken clean from my interests. Big deal. It's commercialism. It's just capitalism. Well...excuse me, Dr. Pavlov, I'm hungry.

Facebook and like sites remind me of a gyroscope. You spin it, and a little kid (or even a big kid like me) will just marvel. But then someone puts it in an airplane and suddenly that airplane can fly straight and true. Facebook is the toy. No one has figured out how to make it fly yet. But they're working on it, and in the meantime most of us are too busy poking and wracking our brains to write clever status messages to be paying attention.

Mark my words, the day will come when, instead of throwing a sheep at a friend, you'll be throwing Perdue Chickens at each other.

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Saw Lady

Received a nice comment on my blog from Saw Lady's blog.

I didn't know what to make of the name, maybe like you didn't at first either.

Even when I checked out her site I initially thought it was a little weird. I mean, music made from a saw? Isn't that so....jug band?

But then I gave it a listen. Kinda cool.

And the blog is all about busking and being a working musician in NYC. Interesting. Gives you insight into a world I, at least, didn't know existed.

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Ramblin' Man

When it's time for leavin' I hope you understand...




[chorus]
Lord, I was born a ramblin man,
Tryin to make a livin and doin the best I can.
And when its time for leavin,
I hope youll understand,
That I was born a ramblin man.

Well my father was a gambler down in georgia,
He wound up on the wrong end of a gun.
And I was born in the back seat of a greyhound bus
Rollin down highway 41.

Chorus

Im on my way to new orleans this mornin,
Leaving out of nashville, tennessee,
Theyre always having a good time down on the bayou,
Lord, them delta women think the world of me.

Chorus

[repeat and fade]
Lord, I was born a ramblin man...

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cowboy Take Me Away

Por Susanna...she's starting to learn this on the guitar...

Can I be your cowboy, darlin'...?



I said I wanna touch the earth
I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly

I wanna sleep on the hard ground
In the comfort of your arms
On a pillow of bluebonnets
In a blanket made of stars

Oh it sounds good to me I said

Cowboy take me away
Fly this girl as high as you can
Into the wild blue
Set me free oh I pray
Closer to heaven above and
Closer to you closer to you

I wanna walk and not run
I wanna skip and not fall
I wanna look at the horizon
And not see a building standing tall

I wanna be the only one
For miles and miles
Except for maybe you
And your simple smile

Oh it sounds good to me
Yes it sounds so good to me

Cowboy take me away
Fly this girl as high as you can
Into the wild blue
Set me free oh I pray
Closer to heaven above and
Closer to you closer to you

I said I wanna touch the earth
I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly
Oh it sounds so good to me

Cowboy take me away
Fly this girl as high as you can
Into the wild blue
Set me free oh I pray
Closer to heaven above and
Closer to you closer to you
Closer to you
Cowboy take me away.
Closer to you

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Joe Cocker: A Little Help From My Friends

What would you do if I sang out of tune? Because it's gonna happen...




What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

What do I do when my love is away
(Does it worry you to be alone?)
How do I feel by the end of the day,
(Are you sad because you're on your own?)

No, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love.

Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can't tell you but I know it's mine,

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody
I just need someone to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
with a little help from my friends.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So...?

A new music store to hang out in, where the people seem pretty cool and where I can start learning again. I've needed a place like this since Colleen moved to Austin.

A dinner of scallion pancakes, pistachio nuts, and beer.

An old dog. A best friend to lie down next to every night.

These are like single beads on a necklace. Bright, and so small.

But we've both said it before: We'd like to be long gone from here.

I emailed someone the other day, and to answer his question of how I was doing, I wrote: Life is going along...although i would love to be on an airplane right now with my guitar stashed in the overhead heading someplace far, far away where they don't speak english and the drinks are real cheap...lol...



So, how do we do this? How do we start this?

Well, usually it’s dark.

Dark?

Yeah, the lights are turned off. Or the curtain’s down.

Curtain?

Yeah, sometimes there’s a big curtain that hangs down in front of the stage.

Why?

So, people can’t see what’s on the stage.

Why?

I've said it so many times before: It's like watching summer reruns. You know how it's all going to end.

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Sam Barber, American Impressionist

I love my work. I love what I do. I write. And in the course of my work I'm exposed to all kinds of people and all sorts of lives and ways. And not only do I like the actual process of writing, of stringing one word after another so the thought they are reflecting (and that's all writing is is reflecting the thoughts inside your head) is so pure and right and perfect. I like what I learn as I go through that process.

Sunday, I sat with Sam Barber, an American Impressionist who lives in Hyannisport, right on the harbor around the point from the Kennedy complex. He and I and his friend John, whose birthday it was that day, and Sue and Bob, the wonder Aussie, sat in his studio in the old windmill tower on his property and ate pizza from Centerville Pizza, great pizza if you ever get the chance to try it, drank icy cold Stroh's beer from the can, and talked about art and color and light and painting and sometimes we even talked about politics.

The thing is, when you meet and talk with someone like Sam, someone who has lived his life so fully, who seems to have known what to do with this reality, you learn so much. It's like someone like Sam sees something the rest of us don't. Of course it sounds trite to say it, but you can learn something about life from someone like Sam more than you can from some drunk who you sit next to on a barstool. I think the drunks and winos and drug addicts of the world have been glorified for no good reason. Living hard and stupid may teach you something about yourself and life, but not in a truly pure way.

What I'm getting at is something that Sam said to me when I commented that he seems like the prototypical Impressionist. The French Impressionists painted the happy side of life. They loved life and painted it that way. He said that if someone is depressed and something is bothering that person, he doesn't want to hear it. He'll try to be nice, he'll try to be kind, but he doesn't want to hear about it or know about it because it will affect his painting, the thing that is his life. He protects that one precious thing in his life.


Why'd you let go of your guitar

Why'd you ever let it go that far

Drunken Angel


He's not a mean or cold person. As a matter of fact, a rather strange person passed by the house while we were outside, someone you see occasionally on the Cape or other seaside haunts, and stopped to talk, and Sam just naturally reached for a piece of pizza and handed it to him, sharing food.

There are people, though, who destroy lives and are, in the words of Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye, as insensitive as toilet seats. They are insensitive to the nuances of life and to people's feelings. They can't see them or feel them, so even if they are well-intentioned they are still so dangerous because it really is like working with a blind person. And most times I feel sorry for these people, because they are missing out on so much of life. Other times I think in a very Darwinian way that they really haven't progressed as far as the rest of the species. The people who don't see or understand the nuances that others feel are no different than the fish who couldn't crawl out on the land. You don't want them in the gene pool.

And I guess Sam has learned or already knew to stay clear of people like this.

Sam can see color where the rest of us can't. Sue has seen and experienced and interacted with a real, live ghost. (Isn't it funny to refer to a ghost as live? Don't you just love our language?) And if you can see color where the rest of us can't, or experience another dimension, who am I to say you didn't?

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Little peeps on the Red Line

Heading into work today on the Red Line, just standing there as always just letting the Pod go down a playlist. Got to the afore-posted song, Goodbye. Such a good song, but so hard to listen to, about suicide. But it's a good song that knows what it's doing, and you can't be afraid to go there, to go where a song takes you.

And that's what I was doing.

Then we pull into Andrew and above the song ...wtf? ... the train swells with little peeps ... a school or something and they do make noises just like little peeps. One big racket. Their life and their voices and just their presence made all the difference.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Goodbye



Occurred to me the other day
You've been gone now a couple years
well, I guess it takes awhile
For someone to really disappear

And I remember where I was
When the word came about you
It was a day much like today
the sky was bright, and wide, and blue

And I wonder where you are
And if the pain ends when you die
And I wonder if there was
Some better way to say goodbye

Today my heart is big and sore
it's tryin' to push right through my skin
I won't see you anymore
I guess that's finally sinkin' in
'Cause you can't make somebody see
By the simple words you say
All their beauty from within
Sometimes they just look away

But I wonder where you are
And if the pain ends when you die
And I wonder if there was
Some better way to say goodbye

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Hayes Carll: Crystal Beach Memories

Tells you a little bit about the guy...


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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Anais Mitchell at Club Passim


Checked out the Anais Mitchell concert last Friday (May 30) at Club Passim. Such a great intimate setting for her. Exactly the kind of place where she should be seen. Her family was there, and they sat at a table right next to where Sue and I were sitting in comfortable Windsor chairs up against the wall. There's no backstage. Matt, who runs the joint, gets up on stage and announces Anais, and she walks through the audience up to the stage. Most artists there walk on and off stage along house right, so if you want to get an up close and personal view of the entertainer, sit along the right-hand wall.

Anais waded through the crowd holding her beat-up guitar in one hand and her other hand raised high in response to the cheers. She's friendly and happy and perky on stage, reflecting an innocence and an openness that seems to be so much a part of her youth. And funny, I notice I'm departing from the standard way of referring to the subject by her last name because she's so darn personable and open and fresh that you feel like you do know her.

There's a playfulness about her that is also reflected in the word-play of her lyrics. You can see how each song is not what it started out to be, that the words started in one place, but were moved and shuffled to find other meanings. Look at the opening stanza to Your Fonder Heart:

come out, come on, come outside
don’t you hide your handsome face from me
I want to see you half-lit in the half-light
laughing with the whites of your dark eyes
shining
darkly

The way she repeats and contrasts the word "come" with out, on, and outside in the first line, and contrast of the words within the phrase "laughing with the whites of your dark eyes shining darkly" could all be just lyrical horsing around if it weren't for the new meaning that is imparted through the phrasing and emphasis she gives them with her voice that is part child, part caricature. She punctuates each syllable and note by modulating her voice and moving her body, feeling and reaching for the meaning of the lyrics, giving the impression she's discovering the meaning of the song along with the rest of us. Like many performers, it's one thing to listen to a recording of her voice and something completely different to watch her perform. Her stage presence is inviting, and as I said, she feels and projects every note and syllable with not only her voice, but her body.

Cosmic American is a breakup song stripped of any sentimentality, something that is so refreshing and just proves what a unique talent Anais is.

i’m a live wire, i’m a shortwave radio, do you copy?
i’m a flash of light from the radar tower to the runway
if i leave you i’m gonna do it semi-automatically
do you blame me?

you are so far out there in the static
hey, baby, am i coming through?
i am up above the buildings
i can see forever out the window of a hotel room
i spent a long night with a stranger i give my body to
still i miss you

There is an intelligence borne, it seems, on curiosity and an openness to the world. One of her most powerful works that show her songwriting and performance skills is an opera she's currently working called Hadestown. Here's a song from Hadestown called The Wall:



Here's an interview that gives you a pretty good picture of the person and the performer.

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Roller Coaster

Thanks to VeryShortList.

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Dona Nobis Pacem


Today is international blog for peace day, or something like that. I'm not sure. Mimiwrites, a blogger, came up with this idea. I found out about it from Becky C, at Just A Girl In Short Shorts Talking About Whatever.

Hokey? Maybe. Everybody puts in the same subject line and I guess the search engines go wild. I'm not sure. I'm not tech-savvy enough to know. (Actually, I am, but don't have the energy right now to figure it out.)

Anyway, I think it's enough to simply raise a hand to say enough of the madness. What war and the military-industrial complex (Eisenhower warned us about this) has done to this country is frightening, to the point where I wonder if we can pull ourselves out of this tailspin.

What do you do when you invade and destroy the wrong country? Even if you can repair all the physical damage, replace all the money in the treasury, how do you repair the emotional damage?

We are so lucky. I know a few people who were in the military. Most of them came out unscathed. I've met a coward, and I've met what I consider a hero, simply because he did what he signed up to do, and came back a changed person.

I know a woman with two sons who vehemently defends the war and supports the current administration, but when the subject of a draft comes up opposes the idea saying the people who signed up for the military knew what they were getting into. I wrote a song called Another Mother's Child about that.

And I think of myself. I went through one round of the draft during the Vietnam War before they abolished it. The draft, that is, not the war. And if I had been drafted I would have gone. I would have been Another Mother's Child. I didn't know anyone in Canada. I didn't have any connections anywhere. I would have been canon fodder.

Another Mother’s Child

The night was young and the people were fun
It was a good time in the ‘burbs.
The wine was red, the beer had head
There even was a little herb.

We toasted our lives, we laughed ‘til we cried
We could have gone happy to bed
Then our hostess spoke, these words she broke
And here is what she said.

They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to serve
It’s hard to believe those words I heard.
Her own blonde kids were safe in bed
No one’s dropping bombs on their heads
So now it’s all up to some other mother’s child.

The war is right and Saddam was a blight
On the good the free and the brave.
Well, whattya say? she repeats it every day
Coming from talk radio waves.

She’s got her pile, her fancy lifestyle
She’s fat and happy and set.
And despite what she preaches
She rather they’re leeches
Than turn her kids into vets.


((chorus)
They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to serve
It’s hard to believe those words I heard.
I can’t question your love
But you’re making me wild
For putting it all on some other mother’s child.

Sometimes I’ve had days when I had to say
Goodbye, to lighten my load
Sometimes I was sad and other times glad
It’s just life living on the road.

I’m doing what I must, leaving a friend in disgust
It’s just that I expected so much more
But when hatred’s the seed I have to pay heed
Or get dragged down with them evermore.

(chorus)
They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to serve
It’s hard to believe those words I heard.
Your own blonde kids are safe,
They ain’t gonna die tonight
And now it’s on another mother’s child.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blogblast for Peace


Okay, I'm not sure if this is going to work, but it's like one of those emails where if you pass it along to 10 of your friends in the next five minutes you'll get your wish. I guess I'm so damn desperate that I'm willing to give anything a shot.

As organized by the Mimi Writes blog, tomorrow is going to be Blogblast for Peace Day. Bloggers all over the world will send out one and the same message, and I guess the idea is that hopefully someone will get the message out there that the world is getting tired of the madness.

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