Who are we? We are our stories.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Willie and Wynton

I am posting this during the Grammys. There is a lot of bad music being sold today. Or at a minimum, music which an old man cannot appreciate.

Willie Nelson ... Knauer's Meats - think about it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Sibley Elementary students perform in musical

Sibley Elementary School students are getting a taste of musical theater this week.

Seventy-three students in grades three through six have been working since Tuesday with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre to prepare a unique production of “Sleeping Beauty.” Their work will culminate in two performances: one at 7 p.m. today and another at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Southwest’s Little Theatre. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

The Sibley parent organization, S.H.A.R.E., has been sponsoring an artist in residency with Prairie Fire for about 10 years, said third-grade teacher Lorna Berg.

Auditions were held on Tuesday (they were originally set for Monday, but school was let out early) and then the main characters went right into reading their lines. Students were expected to have their lines memorized by Thursday.

Many of those cast have been in previous Prairie Fire productions.

“They know it’s hard work, but they know what they need to do,” Berg said. More

Friday, January 29, 2010

Six Levels Below Plant Life.

Old Farts Unleashed on the World

This morning I picked up Dexter Henschel at his house for a road trip - two old adventurers out without boundaries. I was driving so I got to be Don Quixote today and Dex was my Sancho Panza. It's about 100 miles to Minneapolis from his front door. Our first stop was the shop of Chris "Da Man" Kvale. We met Chris's older brother, had a little small talk, a lot of big talk. Chris says his new web presence is keeping him busy, even taking a bike order from Europe. He gave me a little more insight on my McLean frame, it's overall condition and what he did to it. He made it gorgeous, that's what he did.

Kvale gives the O.K. to Dex.

We carefully wrapped up the frame, pump and a couple of forks in blankets and headed to the home of Mark "Bikesmith" Stonich. Mark has been to my house within the past year, but he and Dex go way back to their motorcycle trials days. There was some discussion about how long it had been since they've seen each other, and they came up with 30+ years. Much discussion of weight and not looking a day older. As we looked at Mark's sometimes quirky bikes and current projects, the old war horses recounted their days of youth, strength and glory on motorcycles. Dex whipped out his cell phone and played the recorded sound of his current steed rumbling, then screaming through the gears. Nice.

Mark took us out to a nice lunch- talk of health and diet. Then we continued over to Hiawatha Cyclery, a great old school bike shop, of the fendered, racked, canvas bag sort. There were Goodrichs in the windows and reworked Raleighs and new Surly's on the floor. Surlys are not manufactured here, but they are based in Minneapolis and have certain Minnesota sensibility to them. Holy Minnesota! That Pugsley has big tires! Met some friendly folks there. Dex had to get home by 5:00 to take Jan out for dinner and dancing, so it was time to cut it short and we headed back home. A good day.

Wash and Wear

There is something to be said for considering a titanium Seven a "beater". From Jack Gabus:

"I got to thinking of you and your dilemma regarding no car and the beater Colnago. May I offer up a suggestion? You need to get something like this…..

This is my Ragbrai bike. I call it “wash and wear”. It has made it thru tornados, extreme rain, pestilence and famine. The bike is basically Phil Wood visa vi bomb proof. Also I must admit that the best way to break in a Brooks is to ride it in the pouring rain for one solid day and let dry. It rides like a Catchers mit. This one of my favs and is like a trusty ol’ dog."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

God On a Bike and a Two for Two Day

Last of the six day bicycle racers. God on a bike, Ted Ernst (top) at Madison Square Garden.

I bought a 1980 bicycle frame. Shortly there after I received an email offer from a man I've never met, "I have a set of newly rebuilt vintage Phil Wood hubs laced to Super Champions, front and rear, that would fit that McLean really well. You can have them for the cost of the rebuild and shipping." The rims are probably worth that. Phil Wood hubs that old are somewhat rare, but they are smooth as silk and never wear out. They bring $250 or $300 on eBay. Some francophiles will argue that old Maxi-Cars are theoretically better, but how much longer than forever is really necessary? So my McLean has Phil hubs.

Arguably the state of the art in freewheels in 1980 was the Regina Oro. I had a couple hanging on pegs in the shop. I took one and spun it on. It looked right at home. It was a bit of a corncob (not a bad thing) and I decided that at 65 years of age I really needed more of a granny cog, so I tried to remove the freewheel. Shit? The freewheel tool wouldn't go on far enough. I emailed Mark at Phil Wood. He explained that they made a custom remover for Reginas, discontinued it 25 years ago, but they might have one I could have for $10. A month or more went by. They were still looking through boxes of old stock, but at some point they're all gone. Yesterday I put out a feeler on the CR list. I received a number of hints on how to rework Park Tool removers, offers to rework my Park Tool, to loan me their Phil tools, or to sell me old Phil tools for almost nothing. The best offer was from Ted Ernst, at 80 still a god on a bike, and obviously a prince of men. Free tool, free shipping.

Earlier I had had a long telephone conversation with Dexter Henschel, another old local bicycle aficionado, who had previously had sold me another vintage Phil Wood front and rear wheelset for $50, again almost nothing. I thought that maybe he still had a tool in a drawer somewhere. Yesterday I got a note from him, no tool so far, but he had a Brooks Pro saddle I could have ... free. It might cost me coffee and a donut. Dex and Mark Stonich are old buddies. I told Mark about the saddle and the freewheel tool. He attributes it all to karma, because I gave him the rims off the Henschel wheelset which turned out to be 27", not 700c. I don't know about karma, but it was a good day for me. Hamachi, your Phil Wood wheelset came from Dex. I got the rims free too, but I can't remember where. Maybe Lestrud, he built the up the wheels. Too many free things to keep track of.

So Michael, don't send me the shipping for the shifter. I can't afford it in the long run.


From our West Coast correspondent, explaining wife non-appreciation of new old bikes and components. As posted on another list:

"WAF" Wife Acceptance Factor is in direct correlation to the economy. When the economy hit the skids women go in to a hyper-nurturing state. RE: squirrels and acorns. I call this safe haven syndrome. My wife is at its zenith right now.

Unfortunately you are a male and you as all the other males on this list you have "GAS" Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is caused by the downturn in the economy also, you hate your job, less money is coming in, your wife has less appreciation for you. So what does the male do? BUYS BIKE for a better sense of gratification and self. That is where I am now.

Mix those emotions and what do you have? Well, see the conversations regarding Potato guns, Gas balloons a la Keith Anderson...You get my drift.

Hunkered down!

Jack (abnormal Psyc. Minor in college) Gabus

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Knauer's Meat Market

The sign says "Since 1886". There are Knauer Meats in small towns and city neighborhoods all over America. They might have other names and they probably don't sell lutefisk year round. They might sell blood sausage, pickled cow brains or strong hard cheeses, but they are still Knauers. Sometimes they are even bakeries that know how to make a special ethnic pastry; something you don't even realise is ethnic fare because you've eaten forever. Hold them close to your heart. Do not assume they will be there tomorrow. They won't be. They'll be the victim of "neighborhood improvement". The old man will retire. His son will manage the meat department of a discount grocery. People die. All fine things stand balanced on a knife edge. I can guarantee that one day soon it'll be gone. One morning you'll walk by and it'll be a parking lot or an auto parts store. And you won't even remember Knauers closed ... or how long it's has been gone.

A Response to the Exchange of Ideas

Clipped (without permission) from a longer email from Lucky Lestrud:

I read some of your blog and have to make some comments about A Respectful Exchange of Ideas . First off, has anyone asked the monkeys what they think? It would be interesting to know if they believe in creation or evolution. They always seem to be at the center of the discussion, but no one ever gets their opinion on it. If I had to make a guess I would say that they believe in creation, or that they want to believe in creation. They probably get tired of being called the "grandparents" of the human race. It's like someone always reminding you that you have a bastard child. People should quit dragging the monkeys into this argument all the time before they develop a complex, if they havn't already! (I could have swore that I saw the monkeys in the last National Geographic episode wearing necklaces with crosses on them.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Benny Waters (With Ted Unseth)

Benny Waters was 91 years old at the time. Serendipity. While I was looking for him on YouTube, I found him playing in the Americana Classic Jazz Orchestra, a band led by Ted Unseth, someone that I went to high school with here in Albert Lea. I never really knew Ted, he was just a kid a year behind me that could really play. He apparently can play them all, but his real instrument is the orchestra. And my folks thought a baritone horn was expensive. He's made a living all his life writing, transcribing, arranging and playing the music he loves. Isn't that what life is all about? This 20th Anniversary was 17 years ago. Maybe he can still be knocking it out into his 90s too.

On Favorite Things and Places

Don't worry, this will make no sense to anyone but me. I live my life with a sound track running in my head. Life's an elevator. You meet us on the streets every day, humming continuously to ourselves. I internalize my humming. I also have some color synesthesia, wired into music and loud noises, but that's too hard to explain. People understand humming. It is my normal. Anyway, the Rev had a posting which had me brain playing These are a few of my favorite things. I started rhyming and listing things in my head and for some reason my brain jumped to the cougar sightings in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Well, that took me to London and changed the color of my tune. Life doesn't have to be logical to be interesting.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

When I was in school I was forever getting my ass in a sling for drawing pictures - cartoons and caricatures of students and teachers. At that time my idol was Mort Drucker, who did drawings for Mad Magazine. He was, or is, a splendid artist, able to capture people with minimal strokes of the pen. After I moved into the working world, I continued to do sketches of my co-workers. Eventually I had to quit when actual work got in the way. While I quit sketching, I still admire draftsmanship and real edgy political cartoons. Ralph Steadman continues to be a favorite. In 1973 he published an illustrated Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I don't know what one of these is worth, but the 2003 re-issue is $684.13 on Amazon. Lorna says we cannot afford a $684.13 book, and I will have to settle for the $13.57 paperback. (sigh)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Small Victories

I worked for the same company most of my adult life. I rode that horse as it went from nearly a thousand employees down to about 150. I saw my friends terminated, even had to let some go myself. It's hard. One day, overwhelmed by frustration with management, I couldn't take it anymore and walked out. I swore I would never set foot in there again. Well, never say never. Things happened. The parent company was purchased by Warren Buffet, management was replaced, but the economy was bad and the slide continued down to about 100 employees.

About a year and half ago I received a call asking me if I wanted to come back and do some contract work. I had been contracting for another company and as that project had played out, I had time on my hands. So for a few months I went in half days and did the design, solid modeling and drawings for a new product line. After the project wrapped up I left, and went back to my garden and bicycles. I did keep updated on tooling, prototyping, early production, just keeping tabs on my new baby. In the mean time the recession deepened and the number of employees fell to about 50. You have to realize that these are not just numbers to me. These are my friends, the people that I worked with for 35 years.

A couple of days ago I asked my waitress at Nancy's Cafe how her husband was doing. He was one of those last men still standing at the plant. She said, "Really good, people are really showing interest in that new product line, they've called 27 people back to work and it looks like there will be more soon." Now, she doesn't have a clue that I was involved, she's just happy. I didn't do it to be altruistic, I was paid quite well. But damn, it makes me happy to have helped just a little.

Historic 7-Eleven

For your perusal, pulled down from the dusty rafters of our West Coast correspondent, Jack "Silk Hope" Gabus.

"I have this in the rafters in the garage, a bit of cycling history. This is Jeff Pierce's frame or I should say whole enchilada. I got this on ebay 5 years ago, one of my cherished pieces. Jeff was the first American to win the last stage in the TDF. These frames are kind of funny, very heavy for a racing frame, but seem to go on their own inertia. Smooth as silk and the ol' Dura Ace works like a champ. Wolber at that time must have been giving away tires because their logo shows up on Raleigh, Huffy (Serotta) and Merckx. Maybe that is why they no longer exists."

A Respectful Exchange of Ideas

I read the opinion pages of the local rag. I should know better. This goes on every day. A respectful exchange of ideas. Now, right up front, I will admit to being arrogant, disrespectful, and a master of straw men and red herrings. A couple days ago there was a commentary on health care that quoted Allen Quist as a primary source. Allen Quist on the health care bill, “This is the most insidious, evil piece of legislation I have ever seen in my life… Every one of us has to be totally committed to killing this travesty… I have to kill this bill.”. He is a man that I consider a complete wack job. I could not contain myself. There were other comments, but these are mine or the resulting thread.

Posted by GunnarBerg on January 20, 2010 at 6:20 p.m.

Allen Quist?!? You have got to be kidding.

Posted by diesel on January 21, 2010 at 8:38 a.m.

In response to Gunnarberg's post. This is a reflection of the liberal arrogance that prevails on the left. Some one, like Allen Quist in this case, cannot be credible because they hold to core conservative values. Mr Quist is actually highly educated and has been a college professor, something that only seems credible if they are liberal.

Posted by GunnarBerg on January 21, 2010 at 9:31 a.m.

Tim Pawlenty is educated. I do not agree with his politics, but I do not think he is a fool. I do not know if believing in creationism is a "core conservative value". Allen Quist writes curriculum guides for creationism. To me that is like saying the earth is flat and the center of the universe. If thinking that Allen Quist is an educated fool makes me arrogant, so be it. I'll wear that badge proudly.

(I did so want to say, "For Christ's sake, Allen Quist writes curriculum...", but opted not to do so.)

Posted by diesel on January 21, 2010 at 2:39 p.m.

It takes a great deal of speculation to believe that our grandparents were monkeys. In truth, the sientific evidence is far more conclusive to the creation concept of this planet than other scientifically paper thin theories like evolution. Sedimentary rock has both human and dinosaur fossils in it. As well, recently a whale carcass was found that would have had to have not decayed for several million years if accepted sientific beliefs were used. As well, why has there never been a complete evolutionary skeleton found, just bits and pieces of bone?
I guess when a person's bitterness rules their thoughts, it is hard to be objective. The evidence speaks for itself!
As a matter of fact, the odds of all of the creationism backed scientific evidence being disproved is absolutely miniscule, gunnar, take off your secular humanist goggles, and seee reality!

Posted by GunnarBerg on January 21, 2010 at 4:19 p.m.

I am speechless. Believe what you will.

At this point I gave up, but someone with more staying power jumped in.

Posted by swwinter on January 21, 2010 at 11:40 p.m.

"It takes a great deal of speculation to believe that our grandparents were monkeys." --It takes a great deal of misunderstanding of what evolution really means to even make a statement so ignorant.

"In truth, the sientific evidence is far more conclusive to the creation concept of this planet than other scientifically paper thin theories like evolution."--Well, that settles it then. The real "truth" according to Garp is that the planet is about 10,000 years old and not a day older. Debate closed.

"Sedimentary rock has both human and dinosaur fossils in it."-- That settles it again! Real proof, real honest, real science!

"As well, recently a whale carcass was found that would have had to have not decayed for several million years if accepted sientific beliefs were used."-- Well, there you have it! Of course it's only logical to conclude that all "accepted scientific beliefs" are, well, bunk.

"As well, why has there never been a complete evolutionary skeleton found, just bits and pieces of bone?" --That's a brilliant observation, Of course! If a whole complete skeleton has never been found then the other parts of the skeletons don't mean anything! It's like they didn't even happen. Ya, that's the ticket.

"I guess when a person's bitterness rules their thoughts, it is hard to be objective." And objectivety is your strong suit I see. Why of course you'd know a thing or two about being objective seeing as how you aren't about to let any religious beliefs influence you one little bit.

"The evidence speaks for itself!"--It most certainly does sir, even more than you think.

"As a matter of fact, the odds of all of the creationism backed scientific evidence being disproved is absolutely miniscule, gunnar, take off your secular humanist goggles, and seee reality!" --I guess we know whose ancestors forced us to believe the sun and planets circled the Earth don't we? Forced us to believe it for 1200 years. Didn't the church kill a lot of people over that one.

And so it goes on and on. For Christ's sake, these people vote. For Christ's sake.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hope for the Abused

Reference my earlier posting concerning the allegedly abused street McLean. There has been renewed contact between the potential buyer and the present owner. This time the woman (Nina) has not rebuffed his advances and he (Jack) is more hopeful. In her exact words, "Yes, I do have the McLean still! And I do still love it... Are you still interested in restoring it?"
And so, the game is on.

Cannondale for Winter

I'm still trying to come up with an efficient way to get around town. This is my daughter's Cannondale. I swapped out the sidepull brakes for cantis, installed the rack and added fenders. This may be more practical than the Colnago, but the frame is way too small for me. I feel scrunched, but don't dare raise the seat more. I think some upright bars might help. The fenders were a hassle. I can dink around for a day getting a good fender line with clearance. The bike was set up for racks but not fenders - no holes in the bottom and brake stay, etc. So I futzed around and fashioned little widgets. I eventually strapped the fender to the rear rack with a little leather belt. I'm giving it all a thumbs up. The crankset gets a thumbs down. Even on snow and ice I need more inches. What's the point of a triple crank if they're all small and you have a big rear cog? This was originally an upright town bike (re-did the bars earlier). Somewhere in a cubicle someone got paid to spec this. I would wager they were not a bicyclist. Oh, I upgraded the rear derailleur too, because I had one. I'll deal with the tinkertoy front derailleur when I replace the crank.

After I posted this it was pointed out to me by a bicycle professional that my gear choice, big rear cog/big front ring, smacked of poor bikemanship. I can not deny this, but at the time was a reason for it and I hereby throw myself on the mercy of the court.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Context and Sam Phillips's tribute.

A remastered 1944 recording. The first Rock n Roll recording?

The Viking Defensive Front

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Freemasons

This confession is from today's Archdruid Report, a discussion of health care and our loss of a sense of community. If you turn over enough digital rocks it is amazing what will turn up. Today's disclaimer: my brother Elbert is a Freemason:

"Yes, I’m a Freemason. Some years back a series of accidents clued me in to the huge role that the old fraternal orders had in structuring American communities a century ago, and in the process I also learned that the handful of fraternal orders that still survive are rapidly going under for lack of new members. The obvious response was to apply for membership in a lodge, which I did. The results have been an experience, in almost every possible sense of the word. I’ve given and received quite a range of secret handshakes, and worn some very exotic headgear; I’ve spent evenings in mostly empty lodge halls while a handful of elderly members try to remember the details of initiation ceremonies none of them have had a chance to perform in twenty years; I’ve seen old men, proud as hawks, get teary-eyed as they reminisced about the days when the rest of the community responded to the lodges and their charitable work with something other than total indifference."

The Honorable Alan Cedric Page

The photo is Alan Page. I point this out, because of course young people don't know who Alan Page is. You should. He is an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. At one time he was a football player - a pretty good defensive lineman. In 1969 he led Notre Dame to the national title. In 1971 he was the NFL Most Valuable Player... not just Defensive Player of the Year...MVP, as a defensive lineman. Unless you saw him play you cannot comprehend how quick, how fast, how dominate he was. When he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1988 he made a nice speech, never once mentioning football. While playing he earned a law degree and began practicing law in the off season. After retiring from football he eventually became a judge.

James Floyd Margadant was a lineman too, and a long time Minnesota Viking fan, though not of the rah! rah! ilk, more as a student of the game. Like Page he became a lawyer, even a judge for a time, before taking a staff job with the Sierra Club. This old fart, sometimes cynical, always curmudgeonly, much to Brenda's chagrin bought an official NFL Alan Page football jersey... to wear while he sits on the sofa next Sunday watching the Viking game.

Jimmy, Jimmy, you know they will just break our hearts again.
(I hope he doesn't paint his face purple. You cannot know how out of character this jersey thing is for the Big Guy.)

More Colnago Abuse (Not Really)

The following, a reaction to an earlier post, is from Michael White. This is definitely a classier frame than mine, but the thought is generally the same. In fact I already have the Jitensha flat bar just waiting for a vintage Shimano trigger shifter to show up in the mail. Nice cafe racer, Michael, a real wolf in lamb's clothing.

About a decade ago, I spotted this Colnago frame hanging, NOS, in the front window of a Florence shop (Cicli Conti). On an impulse, I brought it home on my shoulder. I built it with expensive Super Record parts, many of them pantographed, which I found (mostly NOS) on Ebay over the next six months. It was intended to be a Sunday bike, something that would take me back to my roots, etc. It did what I asked it to. People noticed. I polished it. Gradually, though, I found that I took it out less and less. My modern road bikes got and still get most of the miles. One day, I realized that a year had passed since I’d last ridden the Colnago. This made me feel a little queasy . . . a betrayal of sorts.
So I rebuilt the bike in the style of so many older steel bikes I’d seen in the cities of Europe. I took off the expensive Campy parts, and put on cheap stuff from my parts boxes. The only noteworthy components now are the Jitensha bar, which I really like; the Bullseye hubs; and the single Simplex retrofriction lever. The bike is completely transformed. In the past two years, this bike has become my steady commuting bike, my go-to bike for almost every shorter ride. (It’s still fine for longer training rides, too.) Usually it has a VO saddlebag and lights attached. I’m a professor, and find that though I love bags and racks, I actually don’t need to carry much to and from school. Also, I live in a temperate climate, which helps, though I sometimes use clip-on fenders.
If you haven’t ridden a Colnago, they have very stable handling, which works nicely in this configuration. A lugged bike like this is reasonably light for a road bike, of course, but it seems super light and snappy and fun and elegant as a café racer/commuter. Also, this bike sees every version of me, in everything from lycra to gym shorts to hiking pants to dress slacks. It has versatility, speed, and style in spades, and it never fails to delight.
William James had a school of philosophy termed “pragmatism,” whose basic premise is to try to understand what works for people. Not what they want, not what they say, not what they think or desire, but what actually works in practice. This bike isn’t what I wanted, not what I set out to build, but it is the bike I grab about 90% of the time when I need a bike to get down the road.
Michael White

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Legendary Carrot Cake

It's a drop dead beautiful morning here at 1410. I don't think anything I could write would add to the photos. I have spent the morning mis-baking a Legendary Carrot Cake for Lorna's book club this evening. At one time the cake was referred to as Ordinary Carrot Cake, but that was before "the ant incident". To the best of my memory, Lorna's sister Joy had baked the cake a couple of days ahead of time. As she finished frosting it the day of the soirée, she noticed it was covered with tiny ants. Thinking fast she put it in the freezer and checked it periodically. The ants, agitated by the cold, climbed up through the frosting where Joy picked them off one at a time. The cake was served with no mention of the potential protein additive, or if anyone noticed they were too courteous to mention it.

My cake today doesn't have ants, but it isn't going well. I have baked it a number of times, yet continue to invent new ways to screw it up. My best hope is that by the time they get to the cake they will have had enough wine so anything will pass muster. More rum in the frosting might help, though I suspect there may be limits to that.

Legendary Carrot Cake

Cream 2 C sugar & 1 1/2 C. oil (if you add rum to the mix, cut back on the oil)

Add 4 eggs (1 at a time) on high speed (I have no idea why it is supposed to be "high speed". "Slow speed" has proven to be a neater option)

Add 1 can (drained) crushed pineapple

Sift and add dry ingredients:

2 C flour (I like unbleached because it looks more like food.)

2 t. soda

1 t. cinnamon (or cumin, ginger, nutmeg, or whatever, though I haven't tried cayenne...yet. and I think a little more is better.)

1/2 t. salt

Fold in

2 C shredded carrots,

1 C chopped nuts (usually walnuts)

Handful or two of raisins or dried fruit (is there a good abbreviation for handful? If so, could also apply to chopped nuts)

Bake at 350 º in a greased & floured 9 x 13 pan

Frosting (whip and spread on cool cake - scatter any leftover chopped nuts on top)

8 oz. package of cream cheese

½ C. margarine or butter (margarine whips better, but we usually stock Hope Creamery butter. Maybe melt it a little?)

2 C. powdered sugar

Rum to taste. You can add quite a lot of rum to the cake, but you get more bang for the buck in the frosting, but BE CAREFUL!

Note: I have tweaked the recipe to more reflect reality. I just tasted the baker's corner. No matter how bad you screw up things, if there is enough good stuff in it, it'll taste good...as long as you don't burn it. - Berg's law.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blue Skies Smilin' At Me

The weather has moderated some so I'm having a chance to work on this winter bicycling thing. Albert Lea is situated between two lakes and the traffic flows are dictated by them. To get any place I have ride part way around Fountain Lake. Today when the temperature was in the mid 20 s with just a slight breeze, it was a joy. It brought the ne'er-do-wells and layabouts up off their sofas and down to the fish houses. Their joy. When it's frigid and the wind howls across the lake with nothing to slow it down, it's a bitch. A bitch with very sharp teeth.

At the intersection of Jazz Vocals and West Texas. Some performers try to reproduce the sound of the original recording. Mr. Nelson's songs continually evolve - the phrasing, the melody, in some cases the lyrics. I suspect it's out of boredom and pent up creativity. Also, there some nice harp by Mickey Raphael.

Lindsay Whalen

I'm not a rabid basketball fan, but some stories transcend the game. I first saw Whalen in the televised high school state tournament games, then playing for the Minnesota Gophers. When she came to the U, girls basketball was an obscure sport played in a little shoebox gym. Soon the seats were filled with rows of little girls wearing Lindsay Whalen jerseys. They were forced to move the girls' games into The Barn, and it turned out she could sell out the 14,000 capacity Williams Arena too. Her senior year she took the Gophers to the Final Four. That year Twins pitcher Johan Santana won the Cy Young award, the NBA's MVP was the Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett, but Lindsay Whalen was the Minnesota 2004 Sportsperson of the Year. For the last five years she has been an All-Star point guard for the Connecticut Suns. Until last week when she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA.

Lindsay Whalen is back home.

(I was going to post some Youtube highlights, but whoever is the Whalen fan posting them has just brutal taste in music)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Minnesota Vikings

I have no idea who these kids are, but what the hell, they're cute.

This afternoon I watched the Vikings beat the Cowboys 34-3. It was a nail-biter, as I had an extremely large wager on the Vikings by 30. Favre came through with a score-jacking touchdown in the waning seconds, just to piss off the Cowboys and save to my finances from further ruin. Go Brett. Actually I have only bet on a sporting event once in the past 20 years, and I still owe my brother-in-law five bucks on that one.


Not much to say. It's been our song for 40 years. Late one Saturday night 35 years ago at the Kabooze Bar, the D.C. Drifters dedicated an entire set to a hot little blond in the back corner, because they couldn't play a request for "Crazy". My Lorna.

Now I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue
I knew
You'd love me as long as you wanted
And then someday
You'd leave me for somebody new
Why do I let myself worry?
What in the world did I do?
And I'm crazy
For thinking that my love could hold you
And I'm crazy for crying
Crazy for trying
And I'm crazy for loving you

Incidentally, apologies to Mickey Raphael, but for a marginal musician it's a bitch to play well on a harp.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Joe McCarthy and Larry Adler

-Irish assholes and Jewish harp players-
Lawrence "Larry" Cecil Adler was born on February 10, 1914. A young Jewish kid from Baltimore, he ran away from home at 14 and went to New York to began playing harmonica professionally. He was good, probably the first harmonica player to be recognized as a serious musician. In the late forties Joseph McCarthy showed up on the public stage. Rightly or wrongly, he accused Adler of being a communist sympathizer. Adler as forced to go to England where he died on August 7, 2001. I guess my point is that McCarthy was a worthless low life turd and yet he was able to force fine musicians, artists, actors, and simple common people to run and hide. And our country aided and abetted him with his blacklists. Think about Joe McCarthy the next time you see the Michelle Bachmans of this country accusing liberals of being "UnAmerican". We've been through this before. And Toots Theilmans? Well, he has nothing to do with all this, other than he could really play the harp too.

Have a Nice Day

Mr. Steadman and I share some strong feelings on the death penalty. That's all I will say on the matter, as this blog was never intended to be a moral forum. Have a nice day.

Addendum: I see Haitian thugs patrolling the rubbled streets in gangs armed with machetes. They should be shot on sight, no questions asked. So, I guess I do believe in a situational death penalty. Guys, this moral judgement stuff is still hard even after 60+ years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Billy Joe Shaver

I've been trying for years to convince people that Billy Joe Shaver is the Real Deal. All of the rest, Willie, Waylon, Kris, are pretenders. I spent my younger years waiting for the next LP to see how B.J. was doing, like waiting for a blog entry. I ain't converted even one person yet.........to my knowledge. Once in a while I stumble onto someone who gets it. This is from The Selvedge Yard, a quirky photo based blog. Truthfully, I'm not certain that he gets it either. B.J's songs are not just songs, they are a diary, a journal of his life.

From Billy Joe Shaver’s “Honky Tonk Hero: An Autobiography”–

I was not even born yet when my father first tried to kill me.

It was June and the evening light had started to fade, but it was still hotter than nine kinds of hell. We were outside of Corsicana, a little cotton town in northeast Texas, and I was in my mother’s belly, two months from entering the world.

Buddy Shaver was convinced that my mother, Victory, was cheating on him. That was bullshit, and he probably knew it. But he’d been drinking. My father was half-French, half-Blackfoot Sioux, and one-hundred-percent mean. He drank a lot, and the booze didn’t mix well with his Indian blood. You know there are some guys who are just born naturally strong, with big shoulders and a chiseled upper body even though they never work a lick at it? That was my father, and my mother didn’t have a chance.

It’s just a story I’ve heard, told by family members who don’t enjoy the retelling. But I can see it as clearly as if I was there. They were standing next to a small stock tank with black, still water. It was the middle of nowhere, with no roads or houses in sight. Who knows what he told her to get her out there, or whether she knew what was coming when they stopped there? He held nothing back, yet his cold gray eyes showed no emotion as he beat her within an inch of her life. When she was down, he stomped her with his cowboy boots until she stopped struggling. Then he tossed her limp body into the water like a sack of potatoes. Years later, when I was a grown man, my momma couldn’t stand to be around me when I wore cowboy boots— she never could forget what they did to her that night.

Momma laid there for hours until an old Mexican man showed up to water his cattle. Even though he knew my kinfolk pretty well, he didn’t recognize her at first. He thought she was dead. But she spoke to him through the bruises and the blood, and he threw her over the back of his horse and carried her home.

The violence of that night set the stage for my childhood: It’s the reason my father left, it’s the reason my mother didn’t want me, and it’s the reason I went to live with my loving grandmother. In many ways, I think that night is the reason I write country songs.

I hope this happy little ditty, backed up by his son, the late Eddy Shaver, helps make Billy Joe's life make sense. It seems important to me.

The evening sun is sinking, moving homeward

As darkened shadows claim the fight they won

With upturned eyes closed from the light of darkness

And two crossed hands that raised another's son

Gone, oh gone the one who really loved me

For what I was not what I ought to be

Who never questioned falling leaves in autumn

Nor silver nests built on a dying tree

In gingham gown she warmed me from the coldness

The winter nights seemed warm as summertime

Another love will never touch as deeply

As love that flew on silver wings of time

On pension for the aged she raised a young man

Who learned the love of God and other things

Now, love he knew that twelve times warmed his winter

Has flown away on time's bright silver wings