Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Waylon Sings Billy Joe Shaver

Waylon could sing, but mostly he was a mouth piece for B.J.Shaver.

(above for Abraham.)

Waylon would like us to believe that he wrote this. He did not . He "borrowed" it. Note: the baby in the line "my woman's tight with an overdue baby" turned out to be Eddy Shaver. More on Billy Joe and Eddy later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pines

The acoustical guitar belt runs from Texas north through the Heartland to Minnesota. Or at least it used to, then "unplugged" albums came out and the electrified Coasts rediscovered wood. I don't know how stark country is pigeonholed, but The Pines, out of Minneapolis, are the latest practitioners in a long line of low-key north country bluesmen. Writing about The Pines in Rolling Stone, David Fricke called it, "quietly gripping tension". I would like to say it's nice to have 89.3 The Current, a Public Radio station that regularly features quality live music. Also, the Dakota. So...be gripped...but no toe-tapping please.

Ralph Steadman

The old Gonzo is still in there fighting the good fight.

"Mr. Steadman has generously donated 50 limited edition prints of his PLAGUE DEMON to Moonflower Productions International. ALL proceeds from the sale of these prints will benefit the first-ever U.S. production of PLAGUE and the MOONflower, the new-century revision of the acclaimed eco-oratorio penned by Mr. Steadman in 1989, with music composed by Richard Harvey. Presented with the projection of Steadman’s vivid paintings, PLAGUE and the MOONflower illuminates the hapless waste and destruction we fuel with apathy while a sustainable Earth fades from the futures of our children.

THE TIME IS RIGHT for this new-century revision of PLAGUE and the MOONflower to come to the United States, as the prospect of a dying planet thrusts both despair and inspiration upon us, more and more each day." Learn more

The Plague Demon

The Darkness

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A23 Fights the Good Fight to THE LINE

From The Light Of the World. As I told him, anyone can fight for the glory of first. It takes a special courage to fight heart and soul, give it everything you have, for the glory of 59th place. Inner glory.


Two men, turning themselves inside out for 59th place.


A lot can be said of a pleasurable Sunday out at the races. Some beers, some kicks. Families and Wives sitting out the rain in the
tents, managing bored kids. Probably dinner somewhere later.

Something to do around the house. A long shower.

All of this life. This regular guy stuff. But, at this moment, right here, all I cared for in the world was to cross the line before that other man.

We had been at war for two miles, breathing like horses. Insane in the mud and regretting every wrong thing I'd ever done:
Imagined music pounding in my head, and bile in my throat.

And the mother***r pipped me at the line. He had it. I didn't.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


A couple of days ago the Lighthouse Keeper poached a bottle of the Judge's French wine and stopped over to talk smart. The three of us killed the bottle in short order. (Sweet Carolyn was staying with her parents.) There was a lull and I fetched the cordial glasses and an Aquavit from the freezer. I had three choices, but it seemed like a good time to try the Krogstad, an American entry into the world of Nordic liquors. I received it as a gift from A23 and had been saving it for such an occasion to share with a fellow connoisseur of kerosene. For the unschooled, Aquavit or Akvavit is really a highly refined vodka with herbal favorings - caraway, dill, cumin, anise, etc. It is served at freezer temperature in stemmed shot glasses to keep it cool. It is about 80 proof so you have to treat it with respect. Some, like the Judge, won't drink it at all because, as he says, "it makes people crazy". So, what do we have to lose?

My rankings:
  1. Aalborg Jubilaeums (Denmark) Very good, but is hard to find, as apparently the main favoring ingredient is Unobtaina Berries.
  2. Linie (Norway) Aged on ships. Over the equator twice. The ship's name will be on the inside of the label. A gimmick for 200 years?
  3. O.E. Anderson (Sweden) Lingen berry flavoring?
  4. Krogstad (Oregon) Probably not available in the Midwest. Good but a little heavy-handed. Very strong anise/licorice flavor, almost Ouzo. Described by Tim as "What you'd expect from an American distiller. If some favoring is good, twice would be even better." I still quite like it. Maybe could be number three.
  5. Aalborg Taffel (Denmark) The one that gave Akvavit it's bad name. Prior to Taffel it called "Akvagodt". But that was back in 1846.


This may seem amazingly similar to a link posted yesterday on Facebook by Jon Guinea, but...............okay, I did steal it from him - twice. Jon, you are not obligated to listen to it again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ska Madness

Reverend Dick, pastor of the Church of the Sweet Ride (might as well suffer), has done it again. He has taken me on a memory trip back to a time I know he cannot recall himself. He posted some Ska, and it took me back to 1963 and the college on the hill. St. Olaf (yes, it's real) had a very strong music department and all the music geeks played the latest hot stuff. Ska was hot. I have a weakness for live performance. In this case the tired old man live, pales before the vibrant young Prince on vinyl. Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shirley Horn

I love Shirley Horn's tasteful piano and unforced two octave voice. She never spent a note that wasn't necessary and really understood the tension of silence, that sometimes music is quietness. I enjoy the tick-tock of the drum on this one...and of course Miles Davis's trumpet gently floating above it all. It's not elevator music. It requires you to close your eyes and just listen. A killer trio. Her backups were always the best. This album featured Miles Davis, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Toots Thieleman among others. She died about 5 years ago.

This is another one for Maria Guadalupe DeReseda, who in moment for rashness 40 years ago ran off with a jazz trumpet player. And worse yet, she married him. No one warned her that jazz players are for flings, not for marrying. The marriage failed after ten years, but in the process he left her with a life love for jazz. After posting the Chet Baker piece and Judi's response, I got a note from Maria, recounting a outing she and David had listening to Miles Davis in a small club for three hours. Three hours of Miles. I hope she was high.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Trike Stuff

Giorgi Farroni winning the
2009 UCI CP2 World Championships
More than you wanted to know: http://www.trykit.com/
(all pics and links from ongoing CR tricycle discussion.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Racing Trikes

At first glance these things look innocent enough, like something an old man would take to the grocery store. They're not. Though their heyday was in the 1950s, there are still groups of crazies who race them down the twisting roads of the Alps or on ovals - like steel chariots.

The video is by Paul Patzkowsky of Longmont, CO. The video quality is ..well, not good, as it was the first time the operator had used a video recorder. When Paul leans side-saddle through the turns, we can still get an idea of how wild the ride would be in a race with a number of riders.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Wild World of Haze Adkins

On April 25, 2005, Elvis Hasil Adkins died at the age of 67. The youngest of 10 children he grew up dirt poor in a tar paper shack. Depressed and hyperactive, he attended school a total of 4 days in his life. Hasil was a one man band who claimed to know 9000 songs, 7000 of which he wrote himself. He was known to exagerate.
"Recurring themes in Adkins' work include love, heartbreak, "hunchin'", police, death, decapitation, hot dogs, aliens, and chickens. Adkins often noted in interviews that his primary heroes and influences were Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Little Richard, and Col. Harlan Sanders, the inventor of Kentucky Fried Chicken." - Wikipedia.
You might think you're not interested. You're wrong. He might have been one of the giants of rock'n roll. The tubes start off a little bizarre, but that's only fitting. Hang in there. If you aren't completely satisfied we will double your money back (the standard Oakwood guarantee). Many thanks to Rev Dick for the heads up on Haze.

Time well spent,eh?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oakwood in Fall

It seems like it's been raining for weeks. It was the coldest September on record. If nothing else, the cool dampness greened up the moss on the path, the signature feature of the garden. The last of the Fall migrating warblers have filtered through, to be replaced the last couple of days with flocks of White-throated Sparrows and a handful of Least Flycatchers. After the hard freeze we had, it has to be hard making a living catching small gnats and mosquitoes. Today I saw the first Juncos, Arctic visitors that winter down here, basking in our Minnesota sunshine. As always, all things are relative. Now that the leaves are falling for real the local birds, Chickadees, Cardinals, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers have a lot of nervous energy. It's like they think they should be doing something, but don't know what it is. Weather changes always seem to agitate them. They fly around peeping and making continual runs to the feeders burning off energy, practicing for Winter. Since I posted the owl house pictures, the Barred Owl has generally made himself scarce. I've seen him occasionally during daylight moving through, trying to shake his escort of Crows and Jays, but we haven't heard any calls at night. At this point I don't think I can consider him "our owl". I'm still optimistic.

McLean Update 2

I took 5030 around the block. It was a bit of a trick as there are no cables attached,i.e. one gear, no brakes. Since the last ree-port I got the old Modolo brake levers back from their vacation in California and reunited in marriage with their Modolo Pro calipers. Thanks a bunch, Jon. I also installed the period REG bottle cage (per Allan Pollock's suggestion) and the Cinelli toe straps (pretty, pretty). I wrapped the Campy toe clips in leather because they were scraped up and it was cheaper than buying new ones. Eventually I'd like to find Cinelli clips. I have some, but they're all beat to hell. After this thing is built-up neat I'll take a set of pictures, then ride it hard without worrying too much about it. It's not a weapon that should be sheathed. The bars will shortly be wrapped with dark blue Tressostar fabric tape. I considered stitched leather covers, but it wouldn't be typical for the period. In general, I really like the angles of this bike and it's quite light for a 60cm steel frame. The photo is nicely detailed if you want a closer look.

R.I.P. Willie DeVille

The picture of Willy DeVille reminds me of my late friend, Phil Wylie. Now Phil looked bad too. He looked bad and mean. Phil was a biker - could just make those Harleys fly. I never thought much about his appearance. He was just Phil. He was intelligent, creative and funny. When I talked with Phil on any subject the conversation was always stimulating. One day I was pissed at my bank and I asked him where he had his checking account. "Checking account? Hell, when you look like I do you have to show an I.D. to pay cash." Never, NEVER judge a book by it's cover. (More on Phil later...)
Last month Willy DeVille died. Damn, he was one soulful sonofabitch, but heroin is a tough mistress. Do not judge the cover.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Justine, sometime commenter to this blog sent a link to a commentary on a gay-bashing incident in her neighborhood in N.Y. and the resulting protests. How long does this crap have to go on? A couple of years ago a gay friend had the hell beat out of him in a bar, not because he was bothering anyone, it was just because of his sexual orientation. This didn't happen in some strange faraway place like New York or Wyoming or California. It happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Listen, you ignorant redneck S.O.B.s, this is my final warning, I'm not going to put up with this shit any longer.
-Thank you

Judijudijudi on Chet Baker

"Thanks so much for posting my drawing and the news about it on your blog! I really appreciate it.
Also, want to tell you that Chet Baker is one of my all time favorites. I have the album. He was the best. The first time I went to Berlin, in spring 1985, I was staying in West Berlin at the Kempinski and went to a very late show of his at Quasimodo, Berlin's oldest and greatest jazz venue. It is a cellar club and Chet's show started at midnight. The room is small and I was sitting at a table - like from your kitchen table to your range was how close I was to him. He played for THREE HOURS. He took a couple of breaks, but he was into it. High for sure, but so incredible, he sang, he played. Breathtaking. After he stopped, finally, I walked up onto the street at about 3am, it was pouring and I had no idea where the hotel was by then. I saw a light on inside the Paris Bar, across the street, went and banged on the door, though the bar was closed. Thought maybe they would help me find a taxi. A man came to the door and invited me in, asked me to share a nightcap with him and his two friends. That's when I met my friend Christina and her husband-to-be, Bernd Koberling the artist (google pls) and of course, Michael, who owns the Paris Bar. That night was only a couple of months before Chet got tossed out of a hotel window up in Amsterdam and died, he got in trouble with the drug dealers up there, they had enough of his shit and just gave him a shove. Too bad, he was some talented dude.
Thanks again,
Best to you,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Desperados Waiting for a Train

I was looking for Jimmy Dale Gilmore doing I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, a just killer version of a classic song, maybe the best, when I kicked this one up out of the dirt. Guy Clark singing a song about his Grandma's boyfriend Jack, then passing it along to some of the best songwriters of what is called Americana, or Alt Country or just damned great music. All these old people singing? I remember when we were all young. God, I love this song.
Guy Clark
Nancy Griffith
Jimmy Dale Gilmore
Rodney Crowell
Eric Taylor
Steve Earle
Jerry Jeff Walker (where's he been for the last 20 years?)
and I think I see Butch Hancock in the dark playing keyboards.
Kids, if you're from Texas (or anywhere else) it just doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maria's Favorites

Conjuring for Cash

Ogg is flaking a stone projectile point by the firelight. The kibitzer, who's a gatherer, not even a hunter, leans over his shoulder and says, "You ought to put little notches on the big end." Ogg, who has been making spearpoints all his life, just reaches over and whacks the fool on the foot with his heavy ax. I have been whacked a lot in my life.

In my past life I spent most of my waking hours in front of a computer, imagining widgets and thingamabobs to solve "issues" ("Gentlemen, we have a number of issues with the ACME account."),then making solid computer models of my solutions. I didn't actually "make" anything. I carefully constructed computer representations of things that might be manufactured to solve real or imagined problems. By controlling material characteristics, colors, textures and light sources these models could appear very real - like photographs of something that only existed in my head. They weren't "real". It was not nearly as satisfying looking at digital nothings on a computer screen as holding, touching the actual parts when they were finally manufactured by the Oggs, the people who actually make things with their hands.

Some mornings as I walked up the long walk to the front door I thought about how bizarre my life really was, how I had become an expert at conjuring things in my mind and that people were willing to buy the idea, to reward me with a handful of tokens every Friday, which were just as fake - "solid models" representing some imagined value.

Whereas I gave this thought the 30 seconds it took to stride up the walk on sunny mornings that should have been spent outside, John Michael Greer has thought about it a lot. A lot.

(This one is for the guys in the Model Shop who suffered me for years...and were still able to smile when I came out there with another one of my cockamamie ideas.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I received an email from Judi Jensen today. If you're in any of the towns listed, stop by and have a look. Thanks.
Hi All,
I am very pleased that a piece of my work from the Berlin Wall series 'At the End of the Street: the Berlin Wall After 25 Years' has been selected to be shown on Rise and Fall, a web site that is devoted to this November's 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. You can look at my work at www.rise-fall.com or see it exhibited at the following events, which are open to the public:

Nov. 5 - Public Assembly featuring live painting by COOL Magazine; Brooklyn, New York, $8

Nov. 12 - White Room; Miami, FL, $10

Nov. 18 - DC9; Washington, DC, $8 in advance, $10 at the door

Nov. 19 - Enormous Room; Boston, MA, FREE

Nov. 20 - Tazza Café; Providence, RI, Price TBA

Nov. 21 or 22 - Venue TBA (a part of German Week); Las Vegas, NV, Price TBA

Nov. 27 - The Purple Lounge at The Standard Hollywood; Los Angeles, CA FREE

Thanks to all of you for your continued interest in my work. I am an artist in my heart and will always be! I have attached the piece that they are showing, so in case you do not have time to go to their site, you can easily take a look at it. This piece is one of 85 drawings that are in the series, completed in Berlin in 1985. If you would like to see more of my Berlin work, please let me know.

Best regards,


J. Peter Weigle

Some of the most wonderful craftsman do not have websites. J.P.Weigle and until recently, Chris Kvale come to mind. But damn, they do nice work. Check out the handmade stem, neat rear bridge and Iris Blue paint on this sweet little 650b mixte number. She's hot!

It's the Monty Python Show!

For T.M. Honker on this the 40th Anniversary of the English lads acting silly.

L'Eroica 2009

I like the old riders speaking different languages, talking about their wonderful old bicycles. A couple days in the saddle interspersed with good food and wine shared with over 2000 old dudes on old bicycles. With the wisdom of age, most of them savoring the experience, in no hurry to get to the end. What could be grander than that? Maybe someday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Message for Allan Pollock

Dwight Yoakam (without Flaco)

I went off on the accordion jag while looking for the version of Carmelita with Flaco Jimenez. No can find. Too bad, it's fine. I'm settling for this one from Dwight's younger years. Scrunch up your ears a little and try to imagine the accordion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Huge Squeeze box Throwdown II

Squeeze Box I was posted to mixed reviews, up to being requested to permanently delete the posting so they wouldn't stumble on it by mistake. Tasteless, lowlife miscreants! I suppose it's only fair to explain the accordions. I live in a small town with a noticeable Mexican population, some of which goes back to the 1930s. And some of which I'm related to. Across the lake from where I live is a park with a bandshell. There's less now, but when we first moved here the Sunday afternoon air was filled with norteno music from the local conjunto bands. Accordions! After being forced to listen to it, it kinda grew on me. Then I found that there was a whole accordion world out there and an instrument that could be sooo bad on Lawrence Welk could be wonderful. It's a close call , but the panel has selected Joel Guzman as the winner of this week's big prize, with Clifton Chenier a close second. As always, a tough call.

for Anymouse 5:25

1986 Peter Mooney
More pics and info here. The bags are French, by Gilles Berthoud. Actually they'e made by Veronique Durrant, but Berthoud sells them. The Japanese seem to be fans of all things French. These are Honjo copies of Lefol fenders - better than the originals. Head and tail lights are vintage 1950s Luxors!

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

In general, I like live performance recordings. Unfortunately The Dock was release posthumously. So....

In the mid 1960s I was drafted into the United States Army. A black guitar player named William Alexander, took me by the musical hand and introduced me to Soul Music. Being a rube from the smalltown white Midwest I didn't have an opinion on Soul Music. I didn't even know it existed. For me, other than jazz, Black music started and stopped with Huey Ledbetter. Alexander was an amazingly patient man. Of course the one thing we had a lot of was time. We had bunches of time and plenty of no money. He sang songs for me. He taught me structure and chords for Blues and Soul music. I wasn't a good student. I still can't play any of it, but at least I can recognize it when I hear it. So here's thanks to Alex, where ever you are.

Shave Your Cat

(music and lyrics by Aldo Ross, © 2002 StormFrontMusic)

Shave your cat everyday
Keep that cat fur at bay
Shave your cat, shave your cat,

Shave your name in his side
So when he passes by
People know he's your cat
And you shaved him like that

Small goatee, Fu-Man-Chu
One eyebrow, or maybe two
Perhaps sideburns would be
Just the thing

Shave his tail like a fox
Give him little argyle socks
Shave your cat, shave your cat

Sunday, October 11, 2009

McLean Build Report

(Apologies for the full photo. House layout forces me to shoot at a downward angle, which distorts bars, seat, etc - looks top heavy.)
Progress so far:
1. Cannibalized Heron for brake calipers, Phil Wood bottom bracket, Chris King headset (without modern logo-not yet installed), Campagnolo SR rear derailleur, etc.
2. Purchased proper vintage Cinelli bars and stem, Campagnolo front derailleur, and Simplex retrofriction shifters on EBay
3. Got the vintage wheelset from Chris Kulczycki for a song - vintage Phil Wood hubs laced to Super Champions. The spokes are very heavy and someday I'll probably replace all but the rear drive-side.
4. Bought a vintage Special Oro Everest chain from Scott Davis. In the process of cleaning off the old hardened shipping grease, the gold came off too, so now it's polished nickel. This is a Duh Moment, I've done it before. Doh!
5. Played musical chairs with existing saddles, pedals and toe clips.
I need to have the pump (which I have) painted to match and think about paint quality. Wraps, brake levers, straps, etc.
Addendum: The bottle cage will be replaced by a proper vintage, Italian made REG.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Damn! The feeder's empty.

As I am an old fart who feeds the birds and other critters, this one struck home.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Program Notes

I received the New Yorker this afternoon. This is high humor of the type that people like myself find quite amusing. "People like myself", he said...in that stuffy, New Yorker sort of way.

Claude Debussy—“La Mer” by Yoni Brenner

Though poorly received by critics at its 1905 première, “La Mer” (“The Sea”) has survived to become one of Debussy’s most beloved and enduring orchestral works. A brilliant exhibition of cascading motifs and shimmering orchestration, “La Mer” was a deeply personal project for Debussy, who had long been fascinated by the sea, having roomed with a langoustine at university. For years, he had sought to capture the majesty of the ocean in various quartets and sonatas, but he destroyed them all, explaining, “They never sounded wet enough.”

The opening section, “From Dawn to Midday at Sea,” begins with the plaintive call of the oboe, announcing the rising sun. The English horn and the trumpet answer in a minor key, as if to say, “Thanks for the tip, asshole.” The flutes quickly change the subject, introducing the famous surging triplet melody. The theme bubbles and courses through the orchestra, constantly elaborated and ultimately recapitulated in a massive crescendo of horns and trumpets, at which point the flutes are totally drowned out and seem not a little jaded and you have to wonder if they regret having introduced the theme in the first place.

“The Play of the Waves” is often described as a scherzo, light and humorous, although, as in much of Debussy’s work, the laughs come at the expense of the violas.

“The Dialogue Between the Wind and the Sea” pits roiling strings against strident brass, belligerent woodwinds, and unhinged timpani bent on physical reprisal. Again, the composer ingeniously juxtaposes regular and triple figures, a development that for many years was hailed as a breakthrough in modern composition, although it is now generally acknowledged to have been a printer’s error. Still, the layered rhythms create a spectacular lurching effect that vividly evokes the roll of waves, as well as a tremendous desire to urinate.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky—Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

Tchaikovsky wrote only one violin concerto, or, as he himself said, “one too many.” Tchaikovsky had always had an uneasy relationship with the violin, which scholars attribute to a childhood nightmare in which he found himself violently and relentlessly rubbed against an enormous brick of rosin. Though he had already employed violins to magnificent effect in the Second Symphony and in “Romeo and Juliet,” he never trusted them, a neurosis that only intensified when an unbalanced concertmaster sucker-punched him during the first performance of “Swan Lake.”

The composer’s anxiety is manifest in the turbulent Allegro Moderato—among the most vindictive movements of the Romantic canon. The violin plays nearly continuously through the movement, introducing the theme and weathering a ferocious cadenza, while several other instruments, including the trumpets and the second bassoon, luxuriate in anywhere from thirty-five to forty-seven measures of rest. It is unclear whether this accommodation was made specifically to taunt the soloist, but many conductors will encourage idle instrumentalists to doze off or grab a sandwich or something to heighten the effect.

Quiet meditation gives way to exuberant pyrotechnics in the finale, in which the composer either eschews or forgets the theme from the first movement. Instead, the violin launches into a galloping melody that catches everyone by surprise except perhaps the basses, who had a sectional rehearsal earlier in the week. A brilliant, robust allegro follows, packed with dynamic swings, dramatic key changes, and a delightful murder mystery featuring an intrepid dowager and her endearing but accident-prone Portuguese gardener.The searing Andante has been variously interpreted as Tchaikovsky’s anguished confession of homosexual love for his nephew Vladimir Davydov and as a metaphor for the Resurrection of Christ. As always, the truth is somewhere in between: the movement is in fact a metaphor for Christ’s anguished homosexual love for Tchaikovsky’s nephew.

Johannes Brahms—Symphony No. 2, Op. 73

Little is known of Johannes Brahms. He is believed to have been Dutch and to have possessed at least a rudimentary knowledge of music composition and theory. No photographs exist, but he has been described as five feet seven or five feet eight, with small, piercing eyes—one green, one blue—and extremely annoying.

“A genius,” the Post-Impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec once said. “His appetite for life was surpassed only by his appetite for food, which was surpassed only by his appetite for crossbreeding house cats with wild squirrels. Also, he smelled of cumin.” Although the two artists never met or corresponded—nor were they really contemporaries—their unique and idiosyncratic bond remains one of the most fascinating artistic partnerships of the nineteenth century.

The Second Symphony was written at a moment of great trauma. Brahms had suffered from bouts of paranoia for years, convinced that a man named Meier was trying to steal the “h” from his last name. Just two weeks before the première, Brahms caused a scandal during a state dinner when he put Franz Liszt in a headlock and refused to release him until he confessed his homosexual love for Tchaikovsky’s nephew. Brahms was briefly imprisoned, but was granted clemency when Liszt intervened on his behalf. This led to a poignant moment, three years later, when a chastened Brahms visited Liszt at his summer retreat in Weimar, and solemnly resumed the headlock.

Even though Symphony No. 2 is believed to be Brahms’s first symphonic work, the composer demonstrates a sure hand from the outset, with a glowing thematic statement from the horns. The flutes answer with a supple ascending line, requesting that the horns be more specific. But the horns simply re-state the same phrase a half step up, which only serves to irritate the flutes, who promptly hand the melody to the violins, as if to say, “Here, you deal with them.” Brahms sustains this call-and-response pattern throughout the movement, a motif that he first explored in the little-known Variations on “The Dreidel Song,” Op. 34 together, the second and third movements constitute one of the most elegant and sophisticated symphonic interludes of the Germanic repertoire. Taken separately, they are cloying, derivative, and sort of hard to take seriously. Regardless, authentic performances are rare, owing to the difficulty of securing a bullfrog who can transpose to E-flat.

The last movement, Allegro con Spirito, is nothing short of a miracle. Lush, organic, effortlessly powerful, it resolves the major themes of the symphony with phenomenal grace and imagination. Like all great art, it imparts to the audience a profound sense of empathy and belief, as well as a tremendous desire to urinate.

Also, another plug for Jim's new Dakota Backcountry blog. Try it free for five days. If you aren't completely satisfied he'll refund your money.

Crazy Swedes

Peace Prize? A prize for what he might do? Someday. If he gets a chance. Maybe. Depending on circumstances.

My goals and intentions are good and noble too. Maybe next year.

P.S. A Gentleman pointed out that the decision is made by Norwegians. As my heritage is Danish I can safely say that we're all crazy. Not sure about the Finns though.

Ahhhh...I Forget

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Old Toads

This is a little weird. I was checking the Toad's blog to see if he wrote anything. Naw, he has good intentions, but he never actually writes down any of his heavy thoughts. I love toads, particularly the large wizen looking ones. They always remind me of my grandfather, the late, great N.C. Berg. I like the picture (that's me on his head), but the copy was from an email that I sent to Todd. So I'm quoting Todd, who was quoting me. I'm not sure about the quotation marks?

"I was thinking about a nice toad or two to sit on the flat rock I propped on the edge of my "water feature" to give the birds and critters access. For years my namesake grandfather had a large toad he dubbed Molly. Molly? Anyway they had a dripping outdoor faucet beneath their bedroom window. The enormous toad would sit under it to stay cool. Grandma said she went to sleep to the thump... thump...thump of the waterdrops hitting the big toad on the back. Grandpa would pick up the old toad in the morning and take it out to the garden while he worked. He hoed; the old toad ate slugs. When he was done he'd pick it up and drop it off under the tap on his way to the kitchen."

Don't get a chance to use "wizen" very often.

Traditional English Touring

Dave Sears, a reader from England (how the hell does that happen?), sent these old film clips of traditional English touring. I thought that Mark Stonich, Alan Wenker and any other English 3-speeders would enjoy it - or any Freds with a more refined sensibility. (Where do you suppose they came up with the doodlie-doo background music in all those 50s film shorts? Did somebody actually select that style on purpose? Did musical kids grow up aspiring to get into the doodlie music field?)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dakota Backcountry

My friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, Jim Margadant, finally gave in to the pressure and started his own blog yesterday. He is intelligent, insightful and full of bullshit - perfect blogging tools. As the title, Dakota Backcountry, would indicate I would expect it is going to be weighted toward the outdoors, that and the fact that part of this is being driven by his position as Regional Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club. I'm not certain exactly what he does, but it seems to involve a lot of driving around in pickup trucks and hanging out in coffee shops - please keep in mind the bullshit factor. Give him a look if you have a little extra time. And you do... you're reading this for Chrissake. Next, we'll try to get Dexter to go public with his bullshit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We Win!

After the hectic stretch run this probably wasn't too pressure filled for the young men. They were so far behind that every game, every inning, every at bat was crucial. Last year their run culminated in a one game playoff loss to the White Sox. Two #$&*% years in a row! But then again they have won the division five out of the last eight years. Of course the big problem facing them now is the series tomorrow (today, rather). They are snake-bit against the Yankees, even more so than most. In their early series this year they lost three straight hard fought, walk-off games to the lads from the Bronx. That was tough. Their steel has been forged in hell.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Knut Hamsun

For ten or fifteen minutes of my early life I attended a college where I studied, among other things, Scandinavian Philosophy. No shit. So this one caught my eye and jarred my memory. Hamsun may have been a fine writer but he was a scumbag of a human being - enough of a scumbag that he been filed under slime in the library and you've never heard of him. Unless you happened to attend an obscure midwestern Norwegian college. Now we have to ask ourselves the question. Can we separate the person from his works? Can we appreciate what he did rather than what he was? In this case, apparently not. He went over the line.

Knut Hamsun may lack name recognition in the English-speaking world, but the admiration of his contemporaries suggests the stature he once enjoyed. “The whole modern school of fiction in the 20th century stems from Hamsun, just as Russian literature in the 19th century ‘came out of Gogol’s greatcoat,’ ” declared Isaac Bashevis Singer. To Henry Miller, Hamsun was “the Dickens of my generation.” Hamsun received the world’s greatest literary honor in 1920. Summing up the modernist literary consensus, Thomas Mann issued a characteristically lapidary pronouncement: “Never has the Nobel Prize been awarded to one worthier of it.more

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Twinkies

Minnesota was seven games down to the Tigers on Sept. 6. They finally caught the Tigers yesterday to move into a tie for first place in the American League Central. As I have said before, I am not the REAL fan in my house, but it's hard not to get swept up in the excitement. The Twins are a team of journeymen players with the exception of Joe Mauer (batting average .364 & beauty in a catchers mask) and Justin Morneau ( who has missed the latter part of the season with a stress fracture in his back). They develop sound ballplayers which then tend to migrate to major market teams because the Twins cannot match the money. Their pitching is only adequate except for closer, Joe Nathan. In baseball parlance they are "scrappy". They play "small ball" with speed and sound fundamentals. White Sox coach, Ozzie Guillén referred to them as the "Piranhas". He said they aren't like sharks that attack you, they are like piranhas that slowly nibble you to death. We Twins followers are viewing the upcoming one game playoff with Detroit on Tuesday as only a technical formality. Then they will face the Yankees and no doubt get blown away. But it's a short series and who know? Though I suppose they ought to deal with the Tigers first.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Freds and Fausto Coppi

A "Fred" is a disparaging term used by the Lycra clad, racer wannabes for the rest of us; that is, those of us who bicycle wearing comfy denim shorts, a loose t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Often you can spot a Fred riding an old ten-speed with an enormous soft saddle and the bars spun around backwards - not pedaling furiously with an anguished look on his face, just cranking along, enjoying the ride. The original Fred may have been Fred Birchmore who rode his bicycle 25,000 miles around the world in 1935. His bicycle Bucephalus (obviously a learned Fred) is now in the Smithsonian museum. In one hypocryphal incident in Italy he mistakenly got caught up in a bicycle race, passed the racers and finished first riding his loaded touring bike. Not likely, but a good win for the Everyman in all of us.

Fausto Coppi was the coolest man to ever mount a bicycle. While certainly not a handsome man, he had that sense of slightly arrogant style that only the Italians seem to be able to pull off well. He was a bit of a sinner, a ladies man, playing anti-hero to his longtime rival, the straight-shooting, religious Geno Bartalli. In the saddle he had what the French call souplesse, which translates as suppleness, but as applied to bicyclists it denotes balance, poise and grace. On his worst day Fausto was beauty on a bike.

What do Fausto Coppi and the Freds of this world have in common? It appears that beneath his suave veneer, Fausto was a closet Fred.