Archive for the ‘Music that doesn’t suck’ Category

Be here when?

April 10, 2022

The Cuisinart bread warmer/scorcher.

On Saturday I was making breakfast and mulling over Ken Layne’s latest Desert Oracle podcast when I smelled something burning.

The Wirecutter boyos say you can’t buy a proper toaster anymore, whether you spend a lot or a little, and I believe them. If I don’t keep an eye on and make adjustments to this cheapo Cuisinart what I wind up with is either lightly dried bread or a blackened slab that looks like a smoking shake shingle from a lightning-fried cabin.

A little thing, to be sure. Hardly the foundation for a thumbsucker The New Yorker might buy. And never mind writing about it — simply thinking about it may be a red flag, or so posits the Desert Oracle:

If you don’t have any sense of mission or destiny, or religious faith, or really any sort of sustainable lifetime philosophy, then the small stuff is all you can think about. Because no matter where you are in life, at one time or another you are going to have all the usual problems: health, money, sorrow, disgust, anger, gum disease, athlete’s foot, too much house or none at all. Your dog either up and died or it’s neurotic and full of hate and will outlive you by decades. Everybody’s out to get you or nobody pays any attention at all. The entirety of modern technological society has brushed away and marginalized the personal practice of philosophy. So we lose the plot while we’re in it. It’s like one of those Disney “Star Wars” movies.

I’ve had all of these problems, except being outlived by dogs. And that rough beast is bound to come slouching around one of these days, because Herself wants one, even more than she wants properly toasted bread in the mornings, slathered with Irish butter and French spread.

Maybe I should relocate to one of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-branded “active-living communities,” a paradise for Parrotheads, which is a philosophy of sorts, maybe even a religion.

I had a brief Buffett period, and still enjoy his early works, like “He Went to Paris,” “Cuban Crime of Passion,” and “Death of an Unpopular Poet.” He may have foreshadowed his future as a geezer miner with the lyrics to “I Have Found Me a Home”:

And I have found me a home

Yes, I have found me a home

And you can have the rest of everything I own

’Cause I have found me a home.

I think we’re all bohos on this bus.

That song and the rest of my best-of-Buffett list are from his 1973 breakout album, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean,” which features, among others, Steve Goodman on acoustic lead guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and Thomas McGuane on liner notes (“We are beset by the quack minstrels of a non-existent America, bayed at by the children of retired orthodontists about ‘hard times’ and just generally depleted by all the clown biographies and ersatz subject matter of the drugs-and-country insurgence that is replacing an earlier song mafia,” and if that isn’t vintage Captain Berserko I’m a Daytona Beach Realtor.).

The folks who live in Buffett’s beach-bum burgs out there in Disney country certainly seem to have a philosophy that works for them. In his New Yorker piece Nick Paumgarten quotes Stuart Schultz, Latitude Margaritaville’s head of residential community relations (and a former summer-camp director), as saying that living in a Margaritaville property is “like being in college, but with money and without having to study. You have a great dorm room, you never have to go to class, and there’s always a party.”

Hm. I dunno. An earlier version of me never went to class but took in many a party, so I feel like I’ve done my time in that dorm room. And like the toast from my Cuisinart I have the scorch marks to show for it.

It’d probably be smarter to stay put. Get a philosophy. And maybe a dog.

Piece of Cake

April 7, 2022

OK, I know you folks floating around out there in the Innertubes are dying to know all the deets about the exotic life of the retired velo-scribbler.

So, hold my fake beer and dig this:

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s for some lawn soil to spread over the recently seeded bare patches in the yard and gave ’em a good watering, then mowed the healthier bits of grass. Later I cooked up a big ol’ pot of jambayala.

This morning I toasted and tea’d Herself, who has a full day at the lab. Then I fed and watered Miss Mia Sopaipilla, giving her a few head-bumps in a sunny spot for dessert, and emptied her litter box.

Next I got a loaf of bread going and set about watering a few shrubs and one tree out front, using SuperDuper! to back up The Main Mac to an external drive, downloading an OS update, and washing the breakfast dishes (two cups of strong black coffee and one of strong black tea will lead to multitasking).

And now the garbage is going out. Boom! You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.

I hate to go all Hollywood on you little people like this, but I figure the few of you who still have jobs deserve to know how I’m pissing away your Social Security contributions on my rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.

River of fools

March 22, 2022

Every little bit helps.

What’s black and white and cold all over?

The Duck! City at dawn.

We got a little smooch from the gods as they thundered eastward to kick the shit out of Texas. Rained all day Monday, then started snowing overnight.

The Mad Dog Weather Widget says we got slightly less than half an inch, and we will take it, thank you very much, if only to keep the dust and pollen out of our snouts and eyeballs for a little while. Shoutout to Thor and Mjolnir for not taking the roof off en route.

Elsewhere, the water news is not as cheery. Reporting from the University of Utah’s Stegner Symposium on the Colorado River Compact, John Fleck notes, among other things, that:

  • Colorado River Basin water users are currently consuming 14-15 million acre feet of water from a river that for the 21st century has averaged 12.3 million acre feet.
  • Lake Powell is sinking toward “minimum power pool” – its lowest level since filling in the 1960s.
  • Summer drying is making it harder for snowpack the following winter to make it to headwaters rivers.

Hey Zeus, etc. “The crisis situation on the river made for some pointed conversations,” says Fleck, and I believe him.

“Would you like a whiskey with your wee-wee?”

“Yes, please.”

“Sorry, it takes water to make whiskey. It’s straight wee-wee for you, pal. Shall I catheterize you or would you prefer to sample our Wee-wee of the Week? This week it’s Pima Pee, and yes, we stole it.”

Out in the woods

March 2, 2022

After my chores I spent a couple hours exploring on the Voodoo Nakisi.

“Hello?”

Joe Biden woke me up this morning. Either him or Fred Willard, I can’t be sure.

It was a dream, of course. We watched both of them last night — first Fred in “Best in Show,” and then Joe in “The State of the Union.”

Fred killed, and Joe had to follow him, which is bad news for any headliner, especially when that headliner is Joe.

The poor sonofabitch. He finally grabs what he thinks is the brass ring and it turns out to be Voldemort Putin’s man-tanned-and-waxed, KGB-issued butthole. In a rebooted DC Universe edition of Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Crazy Years,” just to give it an edge like Oddjob’s bowler.

Out in the woods.

And then, after a year that must have felt like the first hot lap in the Lake of Fire Criterium, he gets trotted out to recite the Laundry List of Shit That Will Never Happen for the political equivalent of Principal Poop’s pep rally from The Firesign Theatre’s “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.”

Over my lifetime the State of the Union has devolved from a simple constitutional requirement — see Article II, Section 3 — into a low-rent show-and-tell for a politically insane kindergarten. An excuse for eejits to dress badly and act worse while popping up and down like prairie dogs crazed on ketamine.

We were streaming this mess via PBS, which looked like CCTV from a Topeka nursing home. That outfit needs new blood worse than Dracula.

Now, I’ve had a soft spot for Joe ever since he strangled Paul Ryan in his crib during their 2012 vice-presidential debate. And I think he’s doing his level best with both hands and one leg tied behind his back.

But still, god damn, etc. After he and/or Fred woke me up this morning the song playing in my head was an old Leon Russell number, from the appropriately titled album “Carny,” called “Out in the Woods.”

Take it to the bridge

January 21, 2022

Sonny Rollins doesn’t play anymore because he can’t.

But there was a time when he stepped out of the jazz spotlight voluntarily, because he felt he wasn’t living up to his own musical expectations.

Rollins spent the next two years playing to the sky from the Williamsburg Bridge, spanning the East River in New York City. And 60 years ago this month, he returned to the studio for a session that led to his comeback album, “The Bridge.”

“What made me withdraw and go to the bridge was how I felt about my own playing,” says Rollins, now 91. “I knew I was dissatisfied.”

John Fordham of The Guardian has the story here.

Howling at the Wolf Moon

January 16, 2022

A nearly full moon and a bowl of jambalaya will spice up your dreams.

Eating spicy dinners as a full moon looms is a recipe for weird dreams.

The Wolf Moon won’t arrive until tomorrow, but it’s been howling at me for a few nights now, ever since I made a pot of jambalaya, a favorite dish adapted from a recipe by Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu by way of The Washington Post.

Last night I dreamed I had been confined to an assisted-living facility, and was sitting at some sort of crafts table with a couple old biddies, one on either side of me.

I was trying to write captions for some photos — longhand, on paper, since I had no laptop — and the biddy on my left kept crowding me, piling napkins and letters and whatnot onto my workspace. The one to my right asked me what a young pup like me was doing in the old mutts’ home, and I explained that I had apparently gotten my bell rung in some sort of bike mishap and was being held for observation.

This led to a good deal of cackling, especially after they asked how I was paying for my stay and I said I had no idea. Certainly not by writing those goddamn captions, ’cause I wasn’t making much headway there. If Herself had thrown me over and the Repugs had finally croaked Social Security and Medicare I was in a world of shit. “Golden Girls” meets “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

When I woke up it was in my own bed and Herself was still here, so I made her toast, tea, and oatmeal just to stay on her good side. You never know. There’s a bad moon on the rise.

Why the long shadow?

December 21, 2021

Gandalf the Grey? Nah. Gradaigh the Groady.

No, it’s not some dark twist on the old “a horse walks into a bar” joke.

It’s solstice! Short day, low sun, long shadows. Huzzah, etc.

Don’t forget your cap, squire.

I start carrying a cycling cap on rides this time of year. Generally I get a late start, because it’s not exactly toasty out there in the mornings, even in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert. And if I’m headed home into that low sun come midafternoon, I want some sort of eyeshade so I can see who’s trying to kill me.

Likewise on hikes I favor a broad-brimmed hat, either a Carhartt crushable boonie or a Broner fedora if I’m feeling stylish.

For runs I go back to the cycling cap — not the Rivendell, but a beat-up Campagnolo model that is so old I can’t recall where or how I acquired it, since I’ve never been a Campy man. I usually fetch a light Sugoi watch cap along too, and wear one while tucking the other into my waistband. Got to keep the brain-box warm since I don’t drink the antifreeze no mo’.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo. …

Just remember to keep moving, like the Earth around the sun, and the Milky Way around the amazing and expanding universe. Don’t crouch indoors like a gargoyle, puzzling out that goddamn WordPress block editor or how long it’s been since your last shot and whether you dare have your great-aunt Fannie over for tea and biscuits. Get out there and chase yourself around.

I know, it’s dark out there. It’s dark when you get up, dark when you go to bed, and in between it’s just dark.

But keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. While you’re at it, you might pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth. And keep one hand on your liver.

Good night, moon.

The dump is closed for Thanksgiving

November 25, 2021

Never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving? Where you been, kid? On the Group W bench?

We almost always close this dump on Thanksgiving; for a little while, anyway. Think of it as a friendly gesture. Gives you a chance to have a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, maybe a nap, before Officer Obie calls and all the after-dinner fun begins.

While you wait for the phone to ring, how about having a little singalong? If you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud. We’re just waiting for it to come around, is what we’re doing. …

• In related news: Our patron saint of Thanksgiving is getting married. Congrats to Arlo and his bride-to-be, Marti. May their one big pile be better than two little piles.

R.I.P., Paddy Moloney

October 13, 2021

Paddy Moloney, frontman and piper for the Chieftains, has gone west. He was 83.

Reports Mother Times, quoting Himself in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Our music is centuries old, but it is very much a living thing. We don’t use any flashing lights or smoke bombs or acrobats falling off the stage. We try to communicate a party feeling, and that’s something that everybody understands.”

I’m grieved to learn that Paddy has left the party to which he brought so much feeling. In his honor let us banish misfortune.

Something might be gaining on you

September 11, 2021

It’s been a long, long road.

While they continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and the dying.Erich Maria Remarque, “All Quiet on the Western Front”

I didn’t have much to say on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and a decade further on down the road I feel even less inclined to hold forth on the topic. A bunch of people got dead, maimed, or insane; another bunch got rich, famous, and powerful; and the rest of us went shopping.

Did we learn anything from the attacks and what Charlie Pierce calls “our blind, feral response?” Doubtful. We check the rear view every 10 years or so, but that’s just reflexive, like glancing at a TV as you pass.

Anything good on? Nahhhhhhh. Same ol’, same ol’. Hey, who wants to go to the mall?