06 April, 2012

ain't the years gone by fast/I suppose you have missed them ...

It can be a real chore accounting for the last 18 years. In a nutshell, I left school, failed at several relationships, fronted or semi-fronted 3 failed bands, moved from Bowling Green to Toledo back to Youngstown and ultimately to Chicago, worked a few jobs and counted the grey hairs slowly invading my pate. 1994 to today has been a veritable lifetime, during which I guess I've led many lives.

So, 18 years ago today ... (my first) senior year at Bowling Green ... a grey, rainy friday morning a year into the first Bubba Clinton administration ... hung over from last night, late to my morning newspaper meetings, I start the shower. I find my black cassette copy of 'Bleach' procured from a high school friend's older brother ca. 1990, put it in a boom box & crank it. Washing off the night before, I find myself singing along, rocking out, thinking out loud, "wow, this is *still* the coolest album, is so much fun." And it is. Negative Creep. Scoff. 'Daddy's little girl ain't a girl no more ...'

I walk the near-mile to campus. My meeting is at West Hall & my coworker at the paper has a radio show downstairs, so I pop in to say hello. He says, "have you heard?"

"Heard what?"

"They found a body at Kurt Cobain's house. All they're saying is it's a small, blond man in his 20s."

"It's Beck. I hope. Or some homeless kid," I say. Hoping against hope.

I go up to my meeting & keep one good eye on the Associated Press wires for the next couple of hours. Soon enough, all of us know the story. Someone has a party that night and I give a good load of angry shit to some jam band-listening coworker who can't spell. It will be a solid four years before I can really enjoy 'Bleach' again.

A lot has happened in 18 years. David Geffen has gotten richer. David Grohl has made a fortune in nonthreatening show tunes. I would say the world of working in song has suffered, but the songs are still there. Something about the opposite of Marc Antony's soliloquy in 'Julius Caesar.'

09 September, 2011

rewrite

(orig. shat this one out for a 'pome-a-day' piece a couple years back. Forgot about it. 730am revise, years removed, is as follows):

THE HI-ROAD DRIVE-IN



leadfooted down U.S. 68 past Dunkirk to
Columbus
for a wedding
20 yr. old music from my boyhood shuffling
the big W. OH sky

clear & cool @ noon 1st day
of spring & nearly blew by it to spite

our eyes peeled for it, anonymous, almost hidden
outside passengerside window, just beyond
irrigation ditch, hemmed in by distant
treelines not yet leaved, rumble
of tires on gravel in reverse to pull into
its dirt driveway, disembark & photograph

sun/weather-bleached box office marquee recalling
tornados on Katie’s birthday, June ‘89
broke off & carried away the bigger part of
its whitewashed plywood screen, yet unmended, to leave
those few here for the movies squinting
as if watching grandparents’ portable TVs

oblivious, it would seem, to advances
of kids like me, there to lose/take cherries, now as then & back
to frame the marquee, this
tumbleweed, if you will, to that cobwebbed corner, my
sentimental mind & take cover behind
driver’s side door to skirt

wind-kicked dust. Resume driving
sign aliases in an antique café guestbook
downroad in Kenton, marvel @ unchanged
farm machines foreground to yellow thaw
19th, to be exact, since I last blew through &

left behind & Stipe’s voice filling the car rings
apropos: Take a picture here. Take a souvenir.

03 March, 2010

comes a time when it's later , honey, I'm sure ...

Three semi-feral male cats patrol my block of Hyde's Park. Two are silver tabbies and the other is a yellowish shorthair. They're all muscles, claws and fangs. The tabbies are friendly. The shorthair is fearless and likes to bite, but he's friendly, too. I believe and have heard tell they 'belong' to one of the neighbors. Any neighbor who would leave his housecats out in the elements is no friend of mine, but these three guys are pretty damned awesome. They can get up a 50-foot tree in about a second.

Oh, there are 'missing fluffy' posters all over the neighborhood, and I can only wonder if this trio have anything to do with small dogs & birds disappearing. If yes, more power to 'em ....

My granddad used to say he didn't trust anyone who didn't like cats. I believe he was right about that a little bit more with each waking moment.

02 March, 2010

I'm a little bit country punk ...

This Leno back on The Tonight Show business makes me happy I no longer have a TV.

I woke up surly yesterday, and spent the morning flaming some dude who blogs wine reviews, yet doesn't seem to understand the difference between a right bank Bordeaux and a left bank Bordeaux. Seriously, who drops a mere $7 on a bottle of St. Emillion and expects it to knock their socks off all 1978 Pauillac-like? Yes, I was once jerked around by airport security for being a terroirist.

My two cents, and I'm not the first (see: Lynn Sweet) to go out on such a limb: Lots of congressional incumbents will lose their seats in the midterms regardless of party affiliation. The electorate doesn't see democrats or republicans as the problem. Rather, it sees congress as a whole as the problem. The White House knows this (see: Obama at the recent 'health summit' talking trash about 'seeing what happens in November,' or whatever his exact words were), and those are some pretty crack wonk psychic witches (Axelrod, et al) working there. And there I go, talking my leftie friends down once more ...

01 March, 2010

I could swear I have posted since Xmas. Oh, well ...

People in Chicago drive like assholes. Especially in crosswalks. Or when behind the wheel of something German. Go figure.

I think I saw Paul Westerberg walking into the revolving door of the Michigan Av. Filene's basement today, but for a moment before I realized who dude looked like I thought it was Ozzy Osbourne.

25 December, 2009

the last blowing past

I first heard/got into Vic Chesnutt on an R.E.M. tribute album from the first half of the 1990s. "Surprise Your Pig," it was called, and his contribution was a groovy mashup of "It's the End of the World as we Know it (& I Feel Fine)." Being the dilligent music fan, I did my research and got into his work. He'd been writing songs since childhood, came from a musical family. Played a mean guitar from a young age.

I next really got into Vic's music with his 1998 album, "Is the Actor Happy." Vic wrote a mean lyric & did the most interesting things with the basest chord progressions & the most creative & spare arrangements. His "The Gravity of the Situation," from that album, is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

In the '80s, when Vic was 18, he was paralyzed in a car accident. He re-learned the guitar with his now-limited arm/hand movement, which forced his songwriting hand to the simpler. The simpler, you know, is the more tried and true way, at least in the music I like. This past summer, I had a dinner party and a friend of mine, himself a survivor of a tragic car wreck, confided an anecdote about meeting Vic at a show at Schuba's, requesting a song Vic's band didn't know, sharing his own car wreck story ... Vic played him the song, in spite of his sidepeople being out of the loop. Nice guy, I thought. I know it meant a good lot to my friend.

Vic released a great album, "At the Cut," this year. He recorded it & toured in its support with Fugazi's Guy Picciotto and a number of other fine musicians. In the past, he worked with great bands like R.E.M. and Lambchop. He received accolades from *everyone* who matters. In a town like Athens, Ga., where *everybody* plays in several really good bands, that means a hell of a lot.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon an interview with Vic & Mr. Picciotto a week or so back, on NPR. Vic was as intimate as his songs, honestly and humbly discussing his accident, his addictions, his past suicide attempts (there were many). As had been the case as long as I've known the man's music, I kept liking him more the more I heard.

Vic passed today/yesterday, 24 December. He'd overdosed, intentionally, and left a note, instructed the authorities who found him to contact his friend, Kristen Hersh. The first reports were that he was comatose, but soon enough, his death was confirmed.

All that has ever been cool in music or the arts for that matter lost a very, very good one this holiday season.

03 November, 2009

Things I Learned Reading Hemingway

-- Don’t be impressed by one’s titles, accomplishments, etc (“Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that ...”).
-- Don’t live vicariously. Just live.
-- A good man may know his limitations, but that’s no excuse to walk the line as long as you’re honest with yourself and others.
-- Tell it like it is. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t go around comparing her to a summer’s day. Save your breath. She knows that’s bullshit. “She was damned good-looking” takes less time and space and says miles beyond any archaic, verbose sonnet.
-- Keep your writing friends separate from your tennis friends.
-- When in doubt, best to trust balls and grace. My late friend, Carl, put it that way once, but he was paraphrasing Hemingway.
-- Your art/craft above all else. When cash-strapped, buy books, not clothes. Gertrude Stein’s edict, adopted by EH.
-- At the end of the day, when it comes to you, it’s your way or the highway, and stay the hell away from mental health professionals.