March 17, 2008

leprechaun St. Patrick’s Day is definitely NOT a big deal here in Phoenix. Oh sure, plenty of bars and restaurants in Scottdale and Tempe celebrate it OK, but the feeling is just not the same. Now Cinco de Mayo – that’s a whole ‘nutha thing entirely. Up in the Northeast, and in Savannah and Chicago and other places, it’s huge, and I’ll miss pubcrawling with the Goodboys in downtown Lowell MA and the $2.95 corned beef and cabbage dinner at Cappy’s Copper Kettle, but that’ll have to wait for another year.

(Of course, this year several of the Goodboys chose a freakin’ quasi-fern bar in Dracut instead. Sigh…I do declare, the lads are going soft in their old age!!

But no worries, Tracey and I will have our own home-made feast right here at home. And entertained by live-streaming Irish music direct from Dublin, no less!!

What would any St. Patrick’s Day post be without a little Irish humor:

Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn’t find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said, “Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey!”

Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, “Never mind, I found one.”

The last word on this day goes to John Lennon, from his song “The Luck of The Irish” (one of my favorite tunes of his, BTW), commenting on the heavy-handedness of the British when it came to Northern Ireland:

“If you had the luck of the Irish, you’d wish you were English instead.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:10 | Comments Off on Happy St. Pat’s Day!
March 16, 2008

palm_sunday

“I watched with glee, while your kings and queens
fought for ten decades for the gods they made.
I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys?
When after all it was you and me.”

— The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy For The Devil”

I know what you’re saying – what does a Rolling Stones song have to do with Palm Sunday? Well, first of all, let me say that Palm Sunday at St. Anne Catholic Church provided the right balance between the triumph and tragedy, and the sense of joy and devastation that is Palm Sunday.

We are in Holy Week.

There were a few differences between the way this St. Anne parish commemorated Palm Sunday from what I have been used to in my own Episcopal tradition at St. Anne’s. For one thing, there was no congregation procession outside and around the building to the familiar strains of “All Glory, Laud, And Honor” – something, I have to admit, I found refreshing, as I always questioned the whole purpose of that particular tradition, both from a historical and theological standpoint. Anyways, today, we received our palms prior to entering the church (as opposed to when leaving) – the purpose being, we were asked to raise our palms high for a procession, upon which the congregation was sprinkled with holy water – something I found both incredibly powerful and moving, bringing me almost to tears with joy and humility.

For this Palm Sunday, St. Anne brought out the “A” team in terms of musicians and singers – and for good reason – as the Gospel for the day (recalling the Lord’s Passion, from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem through his Crucifixion and Burial) was not simply read by a number of parishioners (usually the case in your typical Episcopal parish), but rather performed in song and spoken word by Fr. Greg and an additional contingent of musicians and singers brought in especially for the occasion – quite different from what I’m used to – but done exceedingly well.

Fr. Tim’s sermon following the Gospel was rather straight forward and to the point – no more than a minute or two. His theme? That as much we’d all like to think that we’d be the “good guys” in the whole Passion play, that we’d be the ones offering to help Jesus carry his cross, or wailing on the side of the road like the Daughters of Jerusalem, more likely we’d be the ones amongst the chief priests, or the crowd shouting, “Crucify him!”, or, like Peter, denying he knew the Lord out of fear for our own safety. As he noted, while we human beings have an incredible capacity for doing good, any look at the newspapers or cable networks would tell you we have an equally great capacity to do evil – a very humbling and sobering message, to be sure.

And it was then during communion that, listening to Fr. Tim repeating “The Body of Christ”, “The Body of Christ” as he gave commmunion that, for some reason, Mick Jagger singing that Rolling Stones song from 1968 popped into my mind; how, only forty years ago, our country was recoiling in horror at the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the riots and tear gas at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. And all of a sudden it made sense to me: it wasn’t the chief priests, or the Pharisees, or even Pontius Pilate that killed Our Lord – it was you and me. And I realized in horror that, far from being one of those in the crowd calling for the release of Barabbas and screaming, “Crucify him!”, I’d be the one at home vacuuming the damned pool, or running errands, or working my ass off, or even kneeling in front of my prayer table to God while Our Lord was strung up on a cross and brutally killed. And it was then I saw in my own personal mirror the horror and disgust of all those years wasted pursuing ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, and how so much of it I was doing it for me, and not for Him. And I felt ashamed.

It wasn’t a pretty picture, I’ll tell you that.

So it was then I realized – maybe for the first time – how we all have been given our own particular crosses to bear. I thanked God for the cross of not being able to receive Communion on Palm Sunday, even though every fiber of my being has been crying out in anguish, hunger, and thirst to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in bread and wine. But it could be worse – I thought of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Catholic archbishop recently kidnapped and killed in Iraq simply for his faith, or the Christians in Africa and China persecuted for the same damned reason, and all those those throughout the world who had prayed this very day to God, or Jesus, or Mary out of loneliness, pain, sorrow, fear, hunger, grief, or remorse. I realized then that the cross I bear is far smaller than many do in this world.

A humbling revelation, to be sure.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments Off on A Passionate Palm Sunday
March 15, 2008

It appears the Doug Mirabelli era in Boston is over, once and for all. That’s right, baseball fans, it appears the Red Sox have finally – FINALLY – come to their senses and sent the surly pantload packing. Were he just a backup catcher like your typical journeyman backup catcher who plays 20-30 games a year to give the starting catcher an occasional breather, it would be one thing, but relying on him to catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield every five starts was giving him WAY too much exposure.

And, I might add – with all due respect to Wakefield – WAY too much respect.

Consider this: not only could anyone’s grandmother swing a bat better than Mirabelli ever could, but, looking back, it’s simply unfathomable that the Sox actually gave up on a young and talented catching prospect, Josh Bard, simply because Bard had trouble handling Timmy’s flutterballs. And to add insult to injury, the Sox actually traded Bard to San Diego to get Mirabelli back – thereby giving Sox fans the unique privilege of watching Mirabelli strike out three times on nine pitches every fifth day or so, regardless of who the opponents were.

The Padres GM Kevin Towers had it right, calling Mirabelli a “cancer” in the Padres clubhouse and swearing the SP would never be allowed to squeeze his fat ass into a Padres uniform again as long as Towers was GM. It’s unfortunate that it took the Sox this long to realize the same thing.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:54 | Comments Off on There Is A God (Baseball Version)
March 14, 2008

OK, we’re out of the ’60s now and into the year 1970. This collection includes a back-to-back-to-back set of songs reflecting the final releases of three ’60s powerhouse groups, and a generous collection of songs from CCR’s “Cosmo’s Factory”, arguably the most successful pop album of that year. At this point, the psychedelic sounds of mid-’67-’69 have pretty much given way to what will become known as ’70s rock, but, given the college campus violence of the year – most notably, the Kent State shootings – political consciousness and the sense of things-gone-awry still abounds.

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Ramble Tamble
2. Diana Ross and The Supremes – Someday We’ll Be Together
3. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
4. The Beatles – Let it Be
5. Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young – Woodstock
6. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ Out My Back Door
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through The Jungle
8. Three Dog Night – Out In The Country
9. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Ohio
10. The Doors – Peace Frog / Blue Sunday
11. Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (long version)
12. Melanie – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)
13. The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
14. The Beach Boys – Student Demonstration Time
15. Sugarloaf – Green-Eyed Lady
16. Grand Funk Railroad – I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home (long version)

I’ve also included a fair dose of cuts from The Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” – at that point, the hardest rocking blues album they had ever done, but an ever harder (and in my view, better) album was still to come.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments Off on Flower Power Vol. 5
March 13, 2008

Greetings, comrades! A little entertainment for today here. The challenge: correctly guess the one who said the various quotes. And don’t worry if you get the questions wrong, the comments are half the fun!

(Hat tip: Free Republic)

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:16 | Comments Off on Quiz Show
March 12, 2008

OK, continuing on with this series, I’ll admit this is a quirky list of songs, but you have to understand that back in the year 1969 was my first exposure to traditional country music and I found I liked a lot of it. Heck, I was the one that suggested to our Top Priority keyboard player Jerry “Keys” Palma that the two of us should start a knock-off C&W band called Jerry “Red River” Palma and The Saddlesores after my brother (and drummer) Mark and our guitarist “The Cat” left to join the armed forces.

Really.

Anyways, on to the song list for this CD – even if some are quirky, you have to admit most are pretty damned good.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down On The Corner
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son (one of the GREAT late-’60s protest songs)
The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women
Three Dog Night – Easy To Be Hard
The Monkees – Circle Sky
The Box Tops – Soul Deep
The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
The Monkees – Porpoise Song
The Monkees – As We Go Along
John Lennon – Give Peace A Chance
The Monkees – Listen To The Band (long version)
Bob Dylan – Lay, Lady, Lay
Tammy Wynette – Stand By Your Man
Tommy James & The Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion
Sir Douglas Quintet – Mendocino
The Yongbloods – Get Together
The 5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In
The Beatles – Come Together
The Beatles – Something
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Up Around The Bend
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Who’ll Stop The Rain

I know many looking at this list are gonna say, “Hey, Great White Shank, this list is a little ‘poppy’, where’s the heavier stuff – Steppenwolf, Cream, Country Joe & The Fish, The Who, Zappa, Bonzo Dog Band, etc.?” Well, keep in mind I was only fourteen back in 1969; heck, even if my schoolmates wanted to protest about something, it would have only been not getting enough food at school lunch for our quarter. The whole Vietnam/protest/hippie thing was for the older kids, and back then there was a vast – and I mean, VAST – difference, even if you were just two or three years older.

Heck, back in those days I was far more interested in playing baseball and listening to WRKO-AM Top-40 than anything else; the idea of groovy chicks and/or crossing the country in search of the truth and driving a psychedelic VW Microbus with only a Fender Twin Reverb amp and a Ricky 12 knock-off while getting bummed out on grass, Jimi, and Janis was as foreign to me as the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton would be today.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments Off on Flower Power Vol. 4
March 11, 2008

rutles I’ve often found myself laying awake at night wondering if the “Pre-Fab Four” – Dirk, Nasty, Stig, and Barry could ever finally put aside their differences and reunite once again. Me, I thought it would take some multi-billionarire to offer then significant dinero in the same of some worthy charitable cause that would benefit the human condition – you know, like financing an 8-lane super highway through the Tanzania National Wildlife Refuge or something like that, but no, it appears they’ll reunite simply to commemmorate the 30th anniversary of the NBC television special that chronicled their incredible rise to fame and fortune.

Say, I’m wondering if this might warrant the launch of a Rutles tribute band to introduce their legend to a whole new generation of listeners – you know, similar to the Beatles Tracks band. Sounds like a helluva idea to me – what say you, Ken Sandler?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:00 | Comments Off on A Rutles Reunion!
March 10, 2008

OK, here it is, my own version of the height of psychedelia. Everyone has their own favorite bands, for sure, but hard to deny that most, if not all, of these songs, would fit on just about anyone’s late ’60s collection.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Commotion
Canned Heat – On The Road Again
Deep Purple – Hush (featuring one of the best power bass lines you’ll ever hear)
The Doors – The End
Vanilla Fudge – You Keep Me Hangin’ On
The Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today (long version, psychedelia par excellence)
Donovan – Atlantis
The Beatles – It’s All Too Much
Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine
The Rolling Stones – She’s A Rainbow
Janis Ian – Society’s Child
Status Quo – Pictures Of Matchstick Men
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Eric Burdon & The Animals – San Franciscan Nights
The Bee Gees – Words
The Monkees – Words
The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

Can I make an editorial comment here? You’ll probably think I’m nuts, but a great pop album at the height of psychedelia was The Monkees’ “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd.” Lots of diverse and great sounds throughout – especially one of the first Moog synthesizers ever used in rock music. I could have included several songs from that album on this CD but I had to make room for even more better stuff to come.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:55 | Comments (2)
March 9, 2008

A quote from St. Augustine uttered during the 4th century Donatist controversy is haunting me. Roughly translated from the Latin, it is a statement that says, “wherefore the entire world judges out of security, they are not good who separate themselves from the entire world, in whatever part of the entire world”.

It was the discovery of this Augustine quote, and his subsequent fervent meditation upon it, that led John Henry Newman, noted 19th century Anglican and leader of the Oxford Movement, to realize that the Church of England was, in reality, no less schismatic in its relationship to the historic Catholic faith than the Donatists and the Monophysites were back in those formative years of the Church in the late 3rd-early 4th centuries.

I have to say that, unlike my view going in to reading Vincent Ferrer Blehl’s fascinating book about Newman’s journey from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, “Pilgrim Journey”, I’m pretty impressed – and not a little persuaded – by Newman’s subsequent view that the Christian faith as practiced by the Roman Catholic Church, even given its own historic excesses and corruptions (which, BTW, all churches inevitably fall into in their own time), remains the closest in terms of spirit, doctrine, teachings, and traditions to the church of the Apostles and the early Church Fathers.

You can see the power and underlying sense of Newman’s view looking not just at the Church of England today and the total mess the worldwide Anglican Communion finds itself in after decades of slipping and sliding away from the historical teachings and traditional doctrines of Christianity, but in the way each of the various mainline Protestant churches that emerged out of the Reformation have continued to fracture and splinter out of disputes – some significant, others arbitrary – into churches and denominations of diminished importance and doctrinal irrelevence in their attempts to be more or even less Catholic.

None of this should come as any surprise, for what all these churches have in common is a continual, ongoing act of reformation constantly at the mercy of the times and increasingly at odds with the ancient traditions from which they themselves originated. Paul Thigpen, in Patrick Madrid’s book “Surprised By Truth”, writes of his own revelation in this regard:

…I saw how Rome has remained the spiritual center of gravity for the churches that have separated from her. However much they try to distance themselves, they keep finding their way back: when the arid, rigid predestinationism of Calvin grew at last intolerable, they turned to Wesley for a more human – and more Catholic – view. In the Holiness movement they recaptured something of the Catholic traditions of asceticism and works of mercy; in the Pentecostal movement they recovered a sense of sacrament and mystery.

Meanwhile, even our now-secular society – itself spawned in many ways by the logical conclusions of Protestant views – still attempts to make up for the useful Catholic traditions it has repudiated. As G.K. Chesterton once noted, whatever Catholic elements the Protestants threw out of their churches, the modern world eventually reintroduced because they couldn’t live without them. But they always brought them back in a lower form. Instead of the confessional, for example, we now have the psychoanalyst’s couch, with none of the safeguards of the confessional. Instead of a glorious communion with the saints who help us on our pilgrimage to heaven, we now have spiritualists who frolic with demons that seduce us into hell. p. 29

Like Thigpen and Newman found in their own spiritual journeys, to re-discover the Bible as THE BIBLE is to discover that the Catholic Church does, in fact, have it right. Look at all the Psalms that speak of how we are known and loved by God even while we are still being formed in our mother’s womb (BTW, this is not hard to do, just find The Pslams in any Bible concordant or Internet website and search for the word “womb”), and then you tell me what faith is correct in its stand on the sanctity of life. Unlike the mainline Protestant faiths who go out of their way to encourage us to celebrate being who and what we are – after all, that’s what worship at the altar of diversity, inclusiveness, and tolerance is all about – the Catholic Church calls its members, more than anything else, to holiness. One look at the cross behind a Catholic church altar will remind you of the burden we all share our waywardness and sinfulness. Read John chapter 6 and tell me which faith teaches the sacrament of the Eucharist in its most authentic and historic form of truth.

How I have come to arrive at these mysteries after all these years is difficult to comprehend in my own mind, and the truth is, I’m still grappling with it all. But, just as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem” (Jn 4:21), each of us has to find, in our own way, that living stream that leads us to where we can be united with the living God both “in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24).

It’s all baby steps thus far, but I’m beginning to understand Newman’s comment, “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant”. As it was with Newman, it is becoming more apparent to me that, as Thigpen writes, “Veritatis Splendor – the spirit of truth, as the Holy Father has so aptly called it, blazes forth from Rome.” And while that fire for me still remains a curious glow on the horizon, with each day the glow gets brighter, and the waters towards the Tiber start to run all the swifter.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments (4)
March 8, 2008

OK, cats and chicks get ready to enter a prolonged psychedelic haze, as these are the songs I’ve included on my Flower Power, Vol. 2 CD:

Scott MacKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)
Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love
The Doors – Break On Through (To The Other Side)
The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
The Beatles – Penny Lane
The Doors – Light My Fire (long version)
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (dedicated to Cosmo)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles – With A Little Help From My Friends
The Beatles – Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds
The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday
The Turles – Elenore
Eric Burden & The Animals – Sky Pilot (long version)
The Troggs – Love Is All Around
The Beatles – All You Need Is Love
The Turtles – You Showed Me
Tommy James & The Shondells – Crimson And Clover (long version)
The Beatles – Blue Jay Way
Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air
The Doors – End Of The Night

Lots of good stuff here, but this is nothing compared to the next volume, which, arguably, rflects the height of psychdelia before it all started going violent and angry. Enough to kinda make you want to get out a black light, a lava lamp, and head down to the local gun store to place daisies in every firearm you can find 🙂

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:36 | Comments Off on Flower Power Vol. 2

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