Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some Great Thing (Vance Gilbert)

First and foremost… I {heart} galoshes – but I digress… :-)

To paraphrase, even a bad day at Falcon Ridge is better than a good day anywhere else – it was most certainly a long weekend of extreme pendulum swings… and we managed to weather (pun absolutely intended) it with grace and style.

Getting to the airport 90 minutes before my flight Tuesday morning, I found it to be cancelled – they managed to get me on another plane, routing through Atlanta (with a long layover), arriving 5 hours later than my intended 2:30 p.m. ETA. No worries – my dear friend Stephen/Mosh was there to pick me up and sweep me away to the amazing seafood restaurant we went to last year (do it twice and it’s a tradition), where I had lobster bisque, mussels and a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Wednesday morning found us segueing from Joan and Ed’s Deli for lunch to Newberry Comics in search of cinnamon Penguins (out of stock), then on to Target and Trader Joe’s for last-minute trip supplies, including bungee cords (for my exploding-out-of-the-box tent), crunchy green beans, sparkling sake and green tea mints. Continued downpours slowed our journey, and we arrived in Hillsdale about 5:30 p.m., where we saw Amy Putnam and the amazing Chris Chin (who had already staked out Camp Dar… a.k.a. Peace Branch Horse and Bible Camp) – the roads were too muddy to drive up, so we carried our camping gear up the hill and a small break in the rain allowed us to set up.

After much discussion, it was decided we couldn’t *not* do Dinner at the Diner, despite our fewer numbers (Chris, Jen T., Joanne, Candy, Stephen and I) and the lateness of the hour – so glad we did, as the owner and “our” waitress were delighted to see us (yes to tomatoes this year). Back to Falcon Ridge and more rain – it was at this point I unpacked and donned my (inspired by Meg and Kate last year)
Target galoshes.

We decided to pack a small overnight bag and trudge back up to camp - considering the mud was ankle deep, the rainboots easily transformed from fashion statement to function. “I {heart} galoshes”, I squealed, to which Stephen responded, “when did heart become a verb?”, stating that both the New York Times and Boston Globe had validated - someone walking by overheard us and was distressed, because the media had usurped their Internet speak (gotta love grammar geeks!). Lovely to have a short song circle, with Sharon Girlock and Jessie (and Jim, Reinhard and Cami) joining us at this point – lots of lightninging (sic) and more rain (imagine that).

Since I gave up coffee (I should have warned you to sit down!) over a month ago, Stephen suggested I begin Thursday morning by apologizing in advance to my favorite vendor for single-handedly putting him out of business – however, when I saw he carried yerba mate (my new favorite caffeine substitute), I knew all would be right with the world (especially since my galoshes made an encore appearance this day as well). Since my favorite food vendor wasn’t yet open, I opted for a Benevolent Burrito (I can change and adapt). Nice to see Gene and Isabel and their friend Jim… and Sheila, Bob and their beautiful babies – there was another Camp Dar song circle, with sparkling sake passed around (and much lower temps!). I hear Sally and Laura and Gail and Jen have arrived but don’t see them until the following morning – Camp Dar grows larger and more familiar…

The Artist Showcase officially kicked off Friday, and it was wonderful to see Danny Schmidt receive such a warm response (finally saw sharong later that afternoon and we did our usual mile-a-minute catch-up) – I lived life on the edge and got a combined Colorado/Wildcat Wrap. Loved the Beatles workshop (Blackbird on Lindsay Mac’s cello) - very cool to see ASL interpreter Jodi wearing a cape Maura Kennedy had put on her during the Strangelings set – the John/Eliza/Patty/Vance songswap was great. Stephen and I wandered up to the BudgieDome later to hear the newest SuperGroup (Anthony DaCosta, Abbie Gardner, Amy Speace… backed by Rad Lorcavic and Eric Lee) - Anthony: “more Rad in the monitor, please”… :-)

Saturday’s Love and Other Tragedies workshop stage sported a marriage proposal (down on one knee), aided and abetted by Katryna and Nerissa – it paved the way for more weeping during Janis Ian’s Society’s Child workshop, as she spoke of her mother’s declining health (a situation I can relate to all too easily these days). As I met Janis to get my book signed, she saw my Peace Love Anarchy hat and declared she and Todd Snider were e-mail buddies – knock me over with the proverbial feather. Wonderful to stumble across We’re About 9’s (duo) set on Vendor Row – I jumped out at Dan Pelletier for a change (rather than our standard M.O. of the other way around).

Hooray for Graham, Becky and Molly making it – ah, history. How could Dar top last year’s Iowa? – by bringing even *more* children onto the mainstage to witness the dark transformed by lights. Loved being able to hear three of the new songs – nice surprise to see Jake Armerding (Julie: “he’s dreamy”) performing with Eddie From Ohio. Martin Sexton was an entertaining powerhouse – our planned Camp Dar song circle was derailed by more rain, as we all got inside our tents just in time for a Haunting of Hill House breathing walls and electrical light storm experience.

Sunday morning was the Dave Carter Song Circle (hard to believe it’s been 6 years) and the Gospel Wake-Up Call – we went back to camp to break down and had everything packed in Sharon and Jessie’s van (except my tent) before the rain started (not again!). Over to mainstage to hear Tracy’s set (finally got to see Tina) as the rain comes down harder – they stop the music halfway through and we attempt to wait it out. The rain, coming down harder still, turns to hail and we are unceasingly and quite painfully pelted (ouch!) – festival staff finally makes us leave the hill and we retreat to Stephen’s car, learning later that the festival is declared over. We rescue my bent, bowed yet still-standing tent… and I realize I am officially ginger-ice-cream-less and Popeye-quesadilla-less – so sad…

We get to Four Brothers Pizza quite a few hours before our usual post-fest time frame – you’d think I’d learn to expect the birthday pie by now.. but I am always pleasantly surprised. We call Megan from the parking lot and tell her we missed her – goodbyes all around as we head our separate ways. We arrive at Stephen’s to find The Wizard of Oz on his HDTV – I marvel at the clarity of color… and fall asleep to “you’ve always had the power”.

Monday was my baby Eric’s birthday (20!) and we set up my tent in Stephen’s yard to dry out while we make another Trader Joe’s run and hit Fireflies barbeque (another tradition) for lunch - on to the airport for goodbyes and tears and promises of return, oh my!).

I {heart} Chris Chin. I {heart} Stephen. I {heart} ice cream for dinner. I {heart} Funny Money, even if it is soggy. I {heart} the teaser of an almost-played Love Shack on the workshop stage. I {heart} Jack Hardy’s Worst President Ever song. I {heart} my new dragonfly tattoo. Oh… and did I say I {heart} galoshes?... :-)

Related articles here and here...

SONG: Some Great Thing by Vance Gilbert

BOOK: Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill, John Wallner (illustrator)

POEM: may my heart always be open... by e. e. cummings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

QUOTE: "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself." ~ Henry Miller

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beautiful World (Eliza Gilkyson)

I am beyond excited... in that I am leaving for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival first thing tomorrow morning - last year's preview and review posts pretty much sum it up!

This will be FRFF's 20th anniversary... and my 10th - in addition to dear Dar Williams, artists performing are Janis Ian, Patty Larkin, Tracy Grammer, the above-mentioned Eliza Gilkyson... and so many others. I am delighted that Danny Schmidt has been chosen for the Artist Showcase - there will also be a Dave Carter song circle early Sunday morning... and, despite my probable lack of sleep, I will most definitely be there...

POEM: Not to Sleep by Robert Graves

Not to sleep all the night long, for pure joy,
Counting no sheep and careless of chimes
Welcoming the dawn confabulation
Of birds, her children, who discuss idly
Fanciful details of the promised coming —
Will she be wearing red, or russet, or blue,
Or pure white?—whatever she wears, glorious:
Not to sleep all the night long, for pure joy,
This is given to a few but at last to me,
So that when I laugh and stretch and leap from bed
I shall glide downstairs, my feet brushing the carpet
In courtesy to civilized progression,
Though, did I wish, I could soar through the open window
And perch on a branch above, acceptable ally
Of the birds still alert, grumbling gently together.

QUOTE: "In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." ~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Late for Your Life (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Today's blogpost is dedicated to my dear Rob - Just Do It, kiddo... <3

The DailyOm
July 17, 2008
Actively Participating
Showing Up For Life

The way we walk into a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk into a room curious about what’s happening, willing to engage, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer, then we have really shown up to the party. When we walk into a room with our eyes down, or nervously smiling, we are holding ourselves back for one reason or another. We may be hurting inside and in need of healing, or we may lack the confidence required to really be present in the room. Still, just noticing that we’re not really showing up, and having a vision of what it will look and feel like when we do, can give us the inspiration we need to recover ourselves.

Even if we are suffering, we can show up to that experience ready to fully engage in it and learn what it has to offer. When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. If we need healing, we begin the process of seeking out those who can help us heal. If we need experience, we find the places and opportunities that can give us the experience we need in order to do the work we want to do in the world. Whatever we need, we look for it, and when we find it, we engage in the process of letting ourselves have it. When we do this kind of work, we become lively, confident, and passionate individuals.

There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people that are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.

POEM: What Will Matter by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built,
not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

QUOTE: "I think, what has this day brought me, and what have I given it?" ~ Henry Moore

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Long, Black Road into Tulsa Town (Dave Carter)

As is my custom, I will be meeting up with my friend Kate tomorrow for our annual labyrinth walk to honor the memory of Dave Carter (August 13, 1952 - July 19, 2002) - hard to believe it's been 6 years since his passing...

Can't wait to show Kate my new tattoo - I'm betting the spirit of Dave (in dragonfly form) will be flitting about for a closer look as well... :-)

[ Added 7/20/08: a YouTube video just posted to the Dave-and-Tracy list... ]

An obscure meadow lures me,
her fast, close-fitting lawns
revolve in me, sleep on my balcony.
They rule her beaches, her indefinite
alabaster dome re-creates itself.
On the waters of a mirror,
the voice cut short crossing a hundred paths,
my memory prepares surprise:
fallow dew in the sky, dew, sudden flash.
Without hearing I’m called:
I slowly enter the meadow,
proudly consumed in a new labyrinth.
Illustrious remains:
a hundred heads, bugles, a thousand shows
baring their sky, their silent sunflower.
Strange the surprise in that sky
where unwilling footfalls turn
and voices swell in its pregnant center.
An obscure meadow goes by.
Between the two, wind or thin paper,
the wind, the wounded wind of this death,
this magic death, one and dismissed.
A bird, another bird, no longer trembles.

QUOTE: "People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad." ~ Marcel Proust

Friday, July 18, 2008

Come Up Full (Meg Hutchinson)

I feel as if I've been coasting on this blog since my Aunt Marie's death - too many Gimundos and Writer's Almanacs and Mark Morfords, oh my! Hard to believe it's been a month (then again, it feels like just yesterday) since I flew up to Atlanta first thing Saturday morning (6/14) and came back to Florida Tuesday evening (6/17), spending four full, bittersweet days dealing with funeral arrangements - hoping to get some closure as I download these ever-present thoughts from my head/heart to cyber-paper...

Snippets of magic moments:

~ someone beautifully singing Danny Boy in the Atlanta Airport MARTA (rapid transit) station as I was waiting for my train, the mournful melody echoing through the acoustically-perfect train tunnel...

~ helping to clean out Marie's room at the nursing home, finding homes for a pair of her shoes (across-the-hall neighbor Nancy), her clock (roommate Chris) and a pink plastic jewelry box decorated with butterflies (for down-the-hall friend Nelda, whose room is festooned with butterflies everywhere!)...

~ a planning meeting lunch with my mom, sister and brother... productive and peaceful, yet with undertones of sadness, envisioning we'd be doing this for mom sooner than we'd wish...

~ meeting with B, the deacon at mom's church, to choose readings and songs to use in Marie's service - everything he was recommending was entirely too fire-and-brimstone for us but as soon as we'd make a suggestion of something else, he'd reply with "is it in the Bible?" or "is it a sacred hymn?"... thus no
Kahlil Gibran or Way Marie. However, we were able to use Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (which in my mind, is equated with The Byrds, by way of Pete Seeger) - I also borrowed a book by Daniel Berrigan from the church library, which quite irked B (him: "he's a Catholic priest"... me: "he's a peace activist")... so I felt my job was done... :-)

~ my Uncle Fred (Marie's brother) and Aunt Jo (his wife) drove down from New York to be there - despite the somber occasion, it was wonderful to see them and catch up (their daughter Jennifer is getting married in September but we'll be unable to make the wedding)...

~ watching 24/7 coverage of Tim Russert (who died June 13, the same day Marie did) all weekend - viewing someone else's pain (his family, friends and colleagues) actually helped ease, and take our minds off, ours...

~ more bittersweet moments during the visitation before the service, with many of mom's past neighbors showing up to pay their condolences - it had been entirely too long since I'd seen many of those couples who were at one time surrogate parents (our neighborhood was that close)...

~ my brother Brad (Marie's son) doing the eulogy (reprinted below)...

~ going out to lunch after the service with many of those who attended (maybe 20) and celebrating the joy of appreciating life while honoring Marie's memory - there was indeed an official toast (and an empty chair... :-)

I leave you with an e-mail written by my sister after Marie's passing - we should all be lucky enough to leave the world this peacefully... this nurtured... and this well-loved...

I want to thank my family and very good friends for the love and support that came my way during this very difficult week. The plan was that once the doctor came in this morning that we would transport Marie (Ree Ree) to the hospice facility - well - for those of you who knew Marie pretty well, she was not one for keeping to the plan. She died very peacefully, gracefully and comfortably in her sleep at approximately 2:45 AM this morning, surrounded by her family as her son (Brad), sister (Connie) and niece (me) were all with her.

I think I told you all that we were all with her yesterday. Then at approximately 2 PM, my mom and brother left, as it was my turn for the night shift at the hospital. At 9 PM or so, her oxygen levels started to drop - not significantly - but enough to cause concern, and once again dear Laura, I thank you for your medical advice because you made me realize that if I had any kind of gut instinct about things, I needed to call the rest of the family.

Both Mom and Brad got on the road, with Mom arriving first. At one point, Marie's oxygen dropped below 60 - but mom and I talked to her and let her know that Brad was on his way and I swear - that damn thing shot up to over 90. Once the 3 of us were settled in, the levels stayed pretty steady. At about 2 AM, I felt like I needed to update my sister again since she was unable to be here yet as she lives in Florida. I emailed her - and damned if she wasn't up and emailed me right back. In her return email, she asked me to give a kiss on Marie's forehead from Sue. I read her email out loud and mom mentioned that Sue had mentioned that to her earlier and she had forgotten to do so. Right then, while telling her what I was doing, I gave Marie two kisses on her forehead, telling her they were both from Sue and that one was via mom and one via me.

I swear that she felt like Sue was in the room with us, and within the next 15 minutes, all vital signs started to drop quickly. Marie was very comfortable and peaceful throughout it all, and there was no final gasp for air - she simply slipped on to the other side.

Marie was a very special woman - she is so much more than "just" an aunt, and I love her dearly. I know this got lengthy and personal, but I feel better writing it and sharing it with the special people in my life. Thank you for your kindness and compassion.

Also, here's my brother's eulogy for Marie:

Good morning.

I want to thank all the friends and family gathered here today to celebrate the life of my mother Marie. As long as I can remember, she loved me as much as a mother could possibly love her son. The lady truly had my back! Growing up whenever I would approach a fork in the road – right being the proper path and left being the wrong path, I would choose to go left! And believe me, there were many lefts over the years.

She was always there for me! Whether it was money to buy me a new car because I had wrecked the previous one or funds to get me out of some other jam. She lovingly did everything she could do to make my life right at the time. As I have grown older through the years I realize all the sacrifices she made for me without hesitation. I am truly a blessed man!

As most of us here know, Marie faced a mountain of obstacles concerning her health that started in the prime of her life and really never ceased. But I never heard her blame anyone or anything regarding her condition – she really was a strong soul. Oh and how Marie loved the Lord. She was a devoted Catholic and obeyed God and all the church’s teachings.

It was truly amazing to me how she never lost faith. I know God is very pleased with her.

In the last week of her life while in the hospital it was very difficult for her to speak to us. She wanted to but it just wasn’t going to happen. But she did say four words to me. She said to me with all the energy she could muster and said “I love you Brad.” Incredible!

After she passed away into God’s hands, I promised her that I would live a more meaningful and better life so God willing I too will see her in paradise one day. I Love you Marie! You’re the Best!

Come Up Full by Meg Hutchinson

Heart: A Personal Journey Through Its Myths and Meanings by Gail Godwin

Sunset by Rainer Maria Rilke

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colours
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so helplessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs -

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

QUOTE: "The best exercise for the heart is lifting someone up, and raising them up." ~ Tim Russert

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ice Cream (Sarah McLachlan)

From today's Gimundo:

Nothing says summer like the cheery tune of the Good Humor Truck. You've probably got fond memories of a childhood spent begging your parents for extra change to buy one of those jumbo chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches, then wolfing it down and licking your sticky fingers.

Well, Matt Allen, otherwise known as the Ice Cream Man, is here to bring your childhood fantasies back to life. For the last four years, Allen has spent his summers driving around in an old ice cream truck dubbed "Bessie," handing out free frozen desserts to boys, girls, and grown-ups alike. He's traveled to dozens of music festivals, children's hospitals, and even an Air Guitar Championship, logging over 15,000 miles, and handing out more than 125,000 free ice cream treats.

Allen wasn't a pure altruist at the start: He actually got into the ice cream man business to make a few bucks, as most people do. But after his first season selling, he hadn't made much money, and had lots of leftover ice cream that he wasn't sure what to do with. So he threw an ice cream social, advertising free ice cream for all. It was a hit, to say the least.

"There was a line the length of a football field, all ages, waiting for free ice cream, and everyone was just so happy," Allen told the Austin Chronicle. "If I'm not going to make any money selling ice cream, why not find a way to give it away?"

So, traveling coast to coast across America in beat-up old Bessie, that's what he's done every summer since. He relies on corporate sponsorships from brands like Levis to cover his gas costs, and web surfers can sponsor the Ice Cream Man to help him hand out more free treats on his website, helping him reach his goal of handing out half a million ice creams.

That may seem like an ambitious goal, but the Ice Cream Man abides. "Either you go through your life thinking you can change the world or thinking you cannot," he said. "If those are the only two options, how can you not at least try?"

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
there are flavors in my freezer
you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations
too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor,
try the flavors on my list:


I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
taste a flavor from my freezer,
you will surely ask for more.

QUOTE: "I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream." ~ Heywood Broun

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Great Unknown (Dar Williams)

From today's Writer's Almanac:

In 1945 on this day, the first atomic bomb exploded at 5:30 a.m., 120 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. People saw a ball of fire that rose rapidly, releasing four times the heat of the interior of the sun, followed by a 40,000 foot mushroom cloud. The bomb was supposed to give the United States "peace through strength." Officials told the New Mexican citizens that an ammunitions dump had blown up. The project's director, Kenneth Bainbridge, watched the column of fire and dust and said, "Now we are all sons of bitches." Today, radiation levels on the spot are still 10 times that of radiation levels found in nature, and the ground is marked by a lava stone obelisk and a plaque that reads, "Where the World's First Nuclear Device Was Exploded on July 16, 1945."

The test was code-named Trinity, supposedly after a poem by John Donne which begins: "Batter my heart, three-person'd God"

Blue-green pebbles can be found on the ground. They have been named Trinitite. Trinitite was formed when the heat pulse from the explosion fused the desert sand into glass.

POEM: My Century by Alan Feldman

The year I was born the atomic bomb went off.
Here I’d just begun, and someone
found the switch to turn off the world.
In the furnace-light, in the central solar fire
of that heat lamp, the future got very finite,
and it was possible to imagine time-travelers
failing to arrive, because there was no time
to arrive in. Inside the clock in the hall
heavy brass cylinders descended.

Tick-tock, the chimes changed their tune
one phrase at a time. The bomb became
a film star, its glamorous globe of smoke
searing the faces of men in beach chairs.
Someone threw up every day at school.
No time to worry about collective death,
when life itself was permeated by ordeals.
And so we grew up accepting things.

In bio we learned there were particles
cruising through us like whales through archipelagoes,
and in civics that if Hitler had gotten the bomb
he’d have used it on the inferior races,
and all this time love was etching its scars
on our skins like maps. The heavens
remained pure, except for little white slits
on the perfect blue skin that planes cut
in the icy upper air, like needles sewing.
From one, a tiny seed might fall
that would make a sun on earth.

And so the century passed, with me still in it,
books waiting on the shelves to become cinders,
what we felt locked up inside, waiting to be read,
down the long corridor of time. I was born
the year the bomb exploded. Twice
whole cities were charred like cities in the Bible,
but we didn’t look back. We went on thinking
we could go on, our shapes the same,
darkened now against a background lit by fire.

Forgive me for doubting you’re there,
Citizens, on your holodecks with earth wallpaper—
a shadow-toned ancestor with poorly pressed pants,
protected like a child from knowing the future.

QUOTE: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker." ~ Albert Einstein

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King)

My husband and I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Carole King concert last night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood (Florida, not California!), where my daughter Sarah works - such a memorable evening from start to finish... :-)

It was billed as The Living Room Tour, and the stage was set up with couches, chairs, plants, rugs and lamps (as well as the piano, of course) - Carole came on stage about 8:15 p.m., escorting an older woman to a seat on one of the couches... and we soon found out that was her mom ("a local", she said), who sofa-danced and sang along all evening.

Carole was later joined by instrumentalist (guitar and mandolin) Rudy Guess, Nashville singer/songwriter Gary Burr and Louise Goffin, her daughter from former husband/songwriting partner Gerry Goffin who each showcased some of their own original material - the harmony vocals throughout the concert were sublime.

Seems in the 70's, Carole wrote a song about the Hard Rock Cafe... so of course I had to
go googling - in her introduction of it, she said something like "this is the portion of the show where I have a brief costume change"... and she put on a black Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt (which the hotel manager had given her earlier in the day) before sitting down at the piano and starting to sing... :-)

I thought the show felt very smooth and intimate, especially for such a large venue (I'm used to coffeehouses and house concerts these days) - I loved the way Carole encouraged audience participation (how gratifying to an artist for their fans to know every word to every song). She performed a good many songs from Tapestry, did a medley of her early Brill Building hits, finished with You've Got a Friend... and the encore was Loco-Motion - my husband and I were both moved to tears throughout the evening with memory floods from a very important time in each of our lives.

Here are photos and an article about her pre-show appearance, autographing a guitar for charity... as well as a March 2008 interview with Tavis Smiley and the Wikipedia entry detailing the overview of Carole's extensive career...

Rewind to 1994: When my husband and I finally purchased a CD player, in a fit of practicality I vowed that I wouldn't replace anything we already owned on album or cassette but would just move forward from that point on - my sister came to my 40th birthday party, gifted me with the Tapestry CD and said, "that's the stupidest f*cking rule I've ever heard"... :-)

P.S. My book club just finished discussing the book mentioned below, so the timing of this show was perfect - I highly recommend Weller's retelling of the lives of these three legendary singer-songwriters!

I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

POEM: Songs for the People by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life's fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o'er life's highway.

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.

QUOTE: "So she poured out the liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of his spirit." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Love in the Library (Jimmy Buffett)

You are not reading enough
Has the Internet killed the joys of sitting down with a good book?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The pile is waiting. The pile is getting higher. The pile looks impressive, probably isn't, still feels slightly overwhelming, vaguely threatening, even as it sighs, waits, drums its fingers on the inside of my skull, promising all manner of wonder and insight and syntactical bliss if I'd just, please, maybe, right now, even for just an hour or three, pay it some serious, focused attention. Please? It's a bit of a problem. More than that, it's a moral, ethical, personal issue, a deep indignity of the soul, a painful twist to the nipple of my id.

See, I love books. Admire and appreciate and adore. Was a lit major at Berkeley, read voraciously, still love to read, still like to consider myself a big consumer of books and deep thinker about bookish issues and ideas and authoralia.

And yet, if I'm painfully honest, I have to admit it: I barely read books anymore. Not nearly like I used to, anyway. Not for a long, long time. And chances are, if you're at all addicted to the new media vortex, neither do you.

It's become a social conundrum, a cultural sore spot, a morose sign of the times. The question has been posed by agents and writers and a confused, hyperconsolidating publishing industry: What happened to all the readers? What happened to the culture of books? And the hint of fatalism, just underneath: If few truly read anymore, what of the state of the American mind? How much more dumbing down can we possibly stand?

Oh sure, books still sell, product is moving like crazy, but by and large it's truckloads of self-help and how-to flooding over a precious handful of sure-hit novelists, topped off with the grand cherry that is Oprah, single handedly keeping the tepid melodramatic coming-of-age family saga alive. In between, 18 zillion copies of "Eat, Pray, Love."

But overall, the message is bleak: Fewer writers of real talent are being discovered, fewer publishers are willing to take any sort of risk, and serious, literary-minded reading, that glorious pastime, that fine personal art, the immersive and transportive and beautiful intellectual fertilizer, appears to be giving way to the more addictive but far less nourishing hellbeast of new media and the Net.

It's an easy beast to blame. I skimmed through Nicholas Carr's fascinating and depressing piece in the recent Atlantic Monthly ("Is Google Making Us Stupid?"), which talks up, among other things, the downfall of deep reading, of spending uninterrupted hours immersed in a literary tome or even a long essay, a victim to modern media's vicious ADD, short-attention-span approach to engaging the world of ideas.

Carr's upshot: The Net might actually be rewiring our brains, changing the way we read because it's changing the way we think, forcibly adapting us to tolerate only bite-sized summations and simplified blips at the expense of deeper thought, of the ability to parse ideas, to sink in for a long, committed intellectual journey.

Proof? That's easy: Just try to sit down with that dense copy of W.G. Sebald or Haruki Murakami after spending any portion of your week online, and watch as your Net-addled brain becomes almost instantly anxious and frustrated, eager after just a couple thousand words to jump away, ogle pictures, watch dumb teens humiliate themselves on YouTube, buy some shoes.
Christ, if TV numbs you out, encourages a passive, flaccid state of intellectual disengagement, the Net does the opposite, slamming so many tiny shots of pseudo-meaning and media and nothingness into your brain over the course of a few hours, it's like getting stung by a swarm of horny bees.

It seems all dour and dreary and unfortunate because not a week goes by that you don't hear about some gloomy book fair or publishing industry merger or the death of a legendary independent bookstore that just couldn't compete not only with Amazon, but with a generation trained to read nothing more challenging or lengthy than grammatically mangled e-mails or snarky text messages or snide 300-word pop culture takedowns on Gawker.

Ah, but I do believe all is not lost. There is lingering hope. I am moderately sure a brain thusly amped on the wicked energy drink of the Web can, through honest time spent, through forcibly yanking the Ethernet cable out of one's cerebral cortex, be re-rewired, untrained, re-addicted to the deeper juice. In fact, it isn't that difficult, really. We just like to think it is.

I can personally attest. About a year ago the most astounding thing happened: The hard drive on my MacBook suffered a rare and painful meltdown when I was away on vacation. I was, much to my initial horror, to be e-mail/Net-free for over a week. What was I missing? Who was e-mailing? What about all the blogs and the news and the Significant Global Happenings? What of all the salacious offerings of nubile flesh and social wonderment stroking my in-box as I sat there, entirely cut off and adrift?

Mercifully, the yoga kicked in and I quickly shrugged, sighed, noted the incredible opportunity, the gods trying to tell me to unplug. I hit the bookstore and bought three thick, sticky literary novels like a misguided vegan buys some grass-fed steaks for the first time, and devoured them whole.

As I did so, an amazing thing happened. Time slowed down. The brain quickly returned to its normal breathing. The mental seizures and the near-constant desire to click away and leap to something different, faded and soon vanished. And the books I so loved suddenly moved from the bottom of the intellectual priority list straight back to their original, top-tiered state of grace.
I vowed to never let them drop so low again.

Even though, right now, they have. Even though, right now, even as I add to the glorious pile of must-reads on my desk, I realize I've been sucked back into Net-time again, back to the world of instant feedback and clickable everything, as the pile grows heavy and scornful and lonely. Ah but here again, an opportunity. For it is here that I remember the most wonderfully humbling lesson of all ...

When I finally got my precious MacBook back, when all e-mail was restored and all Net access was re-granted and I was able to dive back into the perky digital maelstrom, when I spent a few hours and got all caught up, it finally hit me: I'd missed exactly nothing. The world was exactly the same. The beautiful churn continued, same as it ever was, with or without me. Isn't that fantastic? Someone should write a book about it.

POEM: In the Library by Charles Simic
for Octavio

There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

QUOTE: "To those with ears to hear, libraries are really very noisy places. On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization." ~ Timothy Healy

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Walking with Roget (Lou and Peter Berryman)

New word menu adds dash of mondegreen

—Associated Press
July 6, 2008

Is it acceptable to serve edamame to a dinner guest who's a pescatarian? And do you wash it down with prosecco or soju? Before your next party, go ahead and consult the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which now includes edamame (immature green soybeans), pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish) and about 100 other newly added words that have taken root in the American lexicon.

Quite a mouthful

Many of the new entries reflect the nation's growing interest in the culinary arts, including prosecco (a sparkling Italian wine) and soju (a Korean vodka distilled from rice). Others define new technology or products, such as infinity pool—an outdoor pool with an edge designed to make water appear to flow into the horizon.

Name your fears

Others reflect current events and much-discussed news topics, including dirty bomb (a conventional bomb that releases radioactive material) and norovirus (small, round single-stranded RNA viruses, such as the Norwalk Virus).

Mistaken identity

And then there's mondegreen. In a category of its own, it describes words mistaken for other words. A mondegreen most often comes from misunderstood phrases or lyrics.

It comes from an old Scottish ballad in which the lyric "laid him on the green" has been confused over time with "Lady Mondegreen."Among the best-known modern examples: "There's a bathroom on the right" in place of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "There's a bad moon on the rise" and " 'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in place of "kiss the sky" in the 1967 Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze."Merriam-Webster's editors were so amused by the mondegreen concept that they plan to ask people to submit their favorites on the publishing company's Web site.

New to who?

Mondegreen, first spotted in print in 1954, was among tens of thousands of words the wordsmiths watched for decades. That and others make the cut for the dictionary based on how widely they are used in publications ranging from newspapers to technical manuals."They can float for decades. What that means for the most part is that they've been used in more spoken forms than they were found written until recently," said Peter Sokolowski, an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster.

Et tu, professor?

Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society and an English professor at MacMurray College in Illinois, said he thinks the entries that grew from the popularity of cooking shows and international cuisine will be the among most lasting and useful of the newcomers."I'm kind of used to laughing at the choices these editors publicize, but this time I'm impressed," he said.
[ Added 7/12/08: this YouTube video was posted to the Joni-list - hysterical! ]
SONG: Walking with Roget by Lou and Peter Berryman

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics by Gavin Edwards (author), Chris Kalb (illustrator)

POEM: Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer by Sauce Unknown

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

QUOTE: "It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water." ~ Franklin P. Jones

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Don't Forget to Dance (The Kinks)

Christine Kane posted the above video (backstory here) a few days ago to her always-inspiring blog - to quote CK: "Here’s to a world that dances, laughs, and shines for no particular reason." (I second that emotion... :-)

SONG: Don't Forget to Dance by The Kinks

And Never Stop Dancing: Thirty More True Things You Need to Know Now by Gordon Livingston

POEM: Tomorrow by David Budbill

we are
bones and ash,
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls.

simple clothes,
empty mind,
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on,
let's go dancing
while we still
have feet.

QUOTE: "Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (Bruce Springsteen)

Boardwalk fixture and Springsteen song legend Madam Marie, the seaside clairvoyant immortalized in "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," died last Friday [June 27, 2008] at age 93, great-granddaughter Sally Castello told the Asbury Park Press.

The medium, whose real name was Marie Castello, was an iconic presence along the Asbury Park boardwalk, performing her palm reading next door to Springsteen's old Jersey Shore haunt, the Stone Pony.

"Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do?" Springsteen sang in the track off his 1973 sophomore release, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.

He was so fond of Castello that he always dropped by her small stand to say hello whenever he was in town.

"I'd sit across from her on the metal guard rail bordering the beach, and watched as she led the day-trippers into the small back room where she would unlock a few of the mysteries of their future," Springsteen writes in tribute on his website. "She always told me mine looked pretty good—she was right.

"Over here on E Street, we will miss her."

SONG: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) by Bruce Springsteen

BOOK: The Fortune Telling Book: Reading Crystal Balls, Tea Leaves, Playing Cards, and Everyday Omens of Love and Luck by Gillian Kemp

POEM: Hotel Insomnia by Charles Simic

I liked my little hole,

Its window facing a brick wall.

Next door there was a piano.

A few evenings a month

a crippled old man came to play

"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.

Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat

Catching his fly with a web

Of cigarette smoke and revery.

So dark,

I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.

The "Gypsy" fortuneteller,

Whose storefront is on the corner,

Going to pee after a night of love.

Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.

So near it was, I thought

For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

QUOTE: "A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it." ~ Jean de La Fontaine