Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fall Music Preview

Today, as it does every year in early September, The Boston Globe publishes it's comprehensive lineup of upcoming music and arts. Here are a few of my picks for the Boston area this Fall.

September 25- Paul Weller & Ian Moore @ Avalon, Boston
September 30- Hot Tuna Acoustic @ Narrows Center, Fall River
October 1- The Bad Plus @ Somerville Theatre, Somerville
October 3- Built to Spill @ Avalon, Boston
October 6- Daniel Lanois & Tortoise @ Somerville Theatre, Somerville
October 6- Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra @ Iron Horse, Northhampton
October 19- Henry Rollins Spoken Word @ Berklee Performance Center
October 23- Son Volt @ Paradise, Boston
October 27- The Mountain Goats @ Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October 28- James McMurtry @ Johnny D's, Somerville
November 2- David Lindley @ Iron Horse, Northhampton
November 3- David Lindley @ Johnny D's, Somerville
December 10- Kelly Jo Phelps @ Narrows Center, Fall River

If I could I would buy a ticket for all of the above, but obviously that isn't happening. I will have to pick two, maybe three shows. Right now I'm thinking of Daniel Lanois & Tortoise, Henry Rollins, and Son Volt. If I'm lucky I may be able to sneak in one more show if it falls on a weekend. I'd love to see BTS and Paul Weller again, both put on fantastic shows the last time they played in Boston.

Listening to: Peter Case- Flying Saucer Blues

Friday, September 09, 2005

W. and Bill O'Reilly have Jumped the Couch

According to, the term "jump the couch" has become slang for "a defining moment when you know someone has gone off the deep end", we can thank Tom Cruise's insane behavior on "Oprah" for this one.

So when did Bush first jump the couch? Personally, I think it was in 2003 when he stood on the deck of that Navy aircraft carrier claiming "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, and how many people have died in Iraq since then? If there was ever any doubt, Bush's actions the past couple of months solidifies his incompetence. The following article by Maureen Dowd (published just days before Hurricane Katrina unloaded on the Gulf Coast) does a good job summing up the Bush administration's leap off the sofa. I don't always agree with everything Dowd writes, but I think this one's worth a read. Thanks to Fawn at Impervious Surface for the heads up and link to this article.

Bike-Deep in the Big Muddy

W. and his administration of spinsters never ceases to amaze me with their shenanigans. The very fact that Bush has spent the better part of the past two months on vacation is enough to make me question his stability. How can Bush and Cheney kick back in Texas and Wyoming, hosting BBQ's and flyfishing, when soldiers are dying everyday in Iraq?
I'm sorry, but when you are President and your country is fighting a war you got us into, you don't get a vacation, it goes with the territory. It has almost gotten to the point where I have stopped listening, I don't know how much more I can take. I have come to question everything they say and do.

This article, also written by Dowd, was published after the hurricane leveled New Orleans, and sheds light on the administration's further incompetence.

United States of Shame

I really despise Bill O'Reilly from Fox News. I can't stand watching him, and I do not understand how anyone can take him seriously. Here is what Bill O'Reilly said a few nights ago about the people who were stuck in New Orleans last week.

"If you're poor, you're powerless. That's why the poor got smashed in the hurricane zone. Columnist Liz Smith wrote that I failed to 'give the poor any advice on how one finds a proper education or a job.' Liz Smith is extremely fair and accurate, so I am pleased to respond to her. The USA has mandatory education, but nobody can force you to learn. If you refuse to do the work, you're going to be ill-equipped, and all the government programs in the world are not going to change that. Every American kid should be required to watch video of the poor in New Orleans and how they suffered because they couldn't get out of town. And every teacher should tell the students that if you refuse to learn, you will be poor and powerless. One does not 'find' an education. Public education is free, libraries are free, and scholarships are everywhere. For centuries charlatans have been telling Americans that government will provide, and you deserve to be provided for. Bull! Depend on yourself - get educated, get smart, and get personal resources. That is the lesson of Katrina."

Are you kidding me Bill? Do you really believe this? So the people stranded in the Superdome and Convention Center deserved to suffer and die? While it is true that education is the key to a better life, that is only a small piece of the problem. There is no mention of the institutional racism that still exists in this country that doesn't allow everyone the same opportunities to education. No mention of the fact that our schools (and most major cities) are just as segregated today as they were in 1967. And what about the government's lack of response during those first days?

I'm crawling back into my hole.

Listening to: Bob Dylan- Time Out of Mind

Saturday, September 03, 2005

10 Things To Do #8

A while back I posted a list of ten things, in no particular order, that I want to accomplish before I die. I thought it would be helpful for me to explain each thing on the list, more as an inspiration for me to keep striving to accomplish them someday. I already blogged about goal #3, kayaking the length of the Columbia River, here is #8 on the list.

Spend a month without seeing or speaking to another person.

Of all the things I want to accomplish on my list, this one may be the most difficult. Given the fact that I have a family and a job that requires me to talk to real people I may not get the chance to spend a month sans people for quite some time, but what good are goals that are easy to accomplish?

Why would a sane person want to spend a month without talking to anyone else? Let's just say spending that much time alone allows you the freedom to figure out your own shit. I believe we all need some headspace from time to time, to clean out the garbage that collects in our brains while we move through life.

Back in 1992 I spent 7 days on a solo backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana. If you have never been to the "Bob", I suggest you put it on your list. It is a wilderness area just south of Glacier National Park, in fact it's northern border is the southern boundary of Glacier. Most people opt to visit Glacier, so the Bob remains relatively untouched. Trails are singletrack horse paths, and it is not uncommon to see more bears than people (I saw one bear, no people, except at the trailhead).

As a college kid back in '92, I didn't really know who I was, didn't know where I was headed, but I never really slowed down enough to give myself the time to figure it out. You spend 7 days alone in the wilderness, and trust me, you get to know yourself pretty well. Driving back to Spokane from that trip I was more sure of myself, I felt like my life had a renewed purpose and I was released from the mental traps that I had allowed myself to be in. No longer did I feel like I had to fit into the mold that my family and society expected from me. It was during this trip that I also decided to move out of Eastern Washington after graduating, something I did two years later. Boise, Salt Lake City, and Bellingham were all places I considered, but Hood River, Oregon won out. Looking back on my six years in Oregon, it was a definitive point in my life, and had I not spent the time to figure out what I really wanted to do after graduation, who knows where I would be today.

So back to how I am going to accomplish this goal. I am lucky to have two months off every summer, so coming up with the time will be easy, but I'm not going to ditch my wife and family so I can go sit under a tree for a month. It is going to have to wait until my two kids are out of the house, which is going to be at least 18 years from now, and I figure by then my wife will be happy to see me go away for a month. So this one will have to wait. I also think once the young 'uns are out on their own it may be a good time for me to do a little soul searching to see what I want to do with the next chapter of my life. I love living in Massachusetts for now, it has a lot going for it, but I'm sure as hell not going to spend my retirement stuck in traffic, but that is a topic for another blog.

The second question is where would I go to get away from it all? If I am going to spend a month alone I would want a purpose or a task, like hiking through to a destination or building something. I'm NOT looking to meditate for 30 days, no dreams of finding nirvana or becoming a Buddhist, I'd go nuts in about three hours. I need to be doing something. I thought about hiking the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail, but I'm afraid I'd run into too many other hikers. I've considered sailing to the Caribbean, but again, it might be hard to avoid any contact. I might need to rethink the whole "not seeing or speaking to anyone" thing, maybe just doing it solo would be enough.

So where does one go to escape for a month? My family owns five acres on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, so that is an option. We built a small cabin on it when I was a kid, and I figure it might need to be fixed up in 15-20 years, so I could spend a month doing that. On top of that the cabin has no running water or electricity, so when I'm not repairing something I could be hauling water, preparing food, playing my guitar, or reading. Not a bad way to live for a month if you ask me. I've got some time to figure this one out, but I would appreciate any thoughts. Where would you go if you could spend a month alone?

Listening to: Son Volt- Wide Swing Tremolo

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hope in New Orleans

I had to shut the television off tonight, can't watch it anymore. It is beyond me what people are going through right now in the Gulf States. Unreal. I've read that power companies are not planning on repairing the damage, it's far too extensive. They're going to start over and redesign the entire power grid. As far as the violence and looting, all I can say is that yes, it sucks, I would hope for more unity and humanity, but most of the people involved are just trying to survive. Who's to say what you would do in a similar situation? The people of New Orleans will be remembered not based on how they act now, in these panic sticken first few days, but how they act in the coming months as the city rebuilds. I found this picture on the New Orleans Times-Picayune website, taken in the Louisiana Superdome on Tuesday, it offers some hope to what seems like a hopeless situation. Thank god kids are so resilient. I am optimistic that New Orleans will recover.

Listening to: Daniel Lanois- Shine