May 20, 2017

I’ve been saying all along that once the true extent of voter fraud during the 2016 election is finally known people are going to be astounded. Believe CNN, NPR and every other sniveling liberal bastion of lies and propaganda all you want, but there is no way Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote legally. And – as my GOP upper-echelon guy told me after all the votes had been tallied – it will ultimately be shown that Trump should have won the states of Virginia, New Hampshire, and Minnesota if it weren’t for the extensive voter fraud. Perhaps even Nevada, New Mexico, and/or Colorado as well.

If this is the best the Democrats have for a Arizona gubernatorial candidate I would say they have a serious problem with their bench.

The Red Sox are hard to watch. So much of their pitching depth issues go back to that moronic decision last year by idiot John Farrell to have knuckleballer Steven Wright pinch run in a game. He ended up, of course, hurting his shoulder, was never right in Spring Training, and ended up getting injured again. Farrell should have been fired for that decision alone. Fortunately, I do still believe he’s going to be fired: the team sucks, it lacks discipline and an identity, and is horrible when it comes to playing fundamental baseball.

As long as replaces her ball properly after marking it, it would seem there’s nothing LPGA golfer Lexi Thompson can’t do.

When all is said and done Democrats are going to realize the extent of damage done to them in 2016 by Hillary’s “right hand man” Huma Abedin was incalculable. Heck, a bona fide Republican plant couldn’t have done any better. People are right to talk about Hillary’s judgment when it came to her e-mail server, but she can be equally faulted for her judgment relying on Huma’s judgment and her relying on hubby Anthony Weiner’s judgment. Bad judgment all around, I guess…

..but of course none of that matters because it was his Russia connections that gave the election to Donald Trump. Riiiiiiight.

Happened upon this song on the radio the other day and it reminded me just how damned good some of Neil Diamond’s earlier stuff could be. The song reminds me of bare trees, brown grass, and chilly Novembers walking in the woods alone in New England. Folks can laugh all they want, but Neil in his day could be real: his Robbie Robertson (The Band)-produced Beautiful Noise release from 1976 is one damned fine album – easily one that would fall inside my top twenty albums of all time.

There is a certain madness that seems to have taken over the political left in this country. I read stories like this and am damned glad that a month from now I’ll have my concealed carry license and my own weapon. The one thing I know about these so-called “activists” is that it never ends: there’s always something else they’re gonna be pissed off about and want to take away from other people. And I don’t think you should be screwing around with a nation’s history – you can’t wallpaper over who we are and how we got where we are. Simple as that.

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May 12, 2017

850 songs, that is, on my Zen Surf music collection featuring surf music both classic and contemporary from around the world. I’ll admit that since my last post on this most respected and underappreciated rock music genre, my collection has laid pretty much fallow since my last post nearly two years to the day. But a couple of things happened recently that inspired me to re-engage to see what was out there: 1) listening to it over the past few days while working made me realize it had become a little stale and predictable, and 2) stumbling on a couple of new (at least for me) and exciting surf bands while ordering other stuff on Amazon.com.

Regarding #1: it’s no surprise that I’d be posting about surf music around the same time as my last post. Just like August draws me into listening to classical music for a couple of months before the fall draws me back to music by Pink Floyd and Gordon Lightfoot, among others, and after the New Year my taste turns to my Tropical Breezes collection, as soon as spring starts thinking about turning into summer and the days start getting demonstrably warmer, I start listening to surf music. And as far as my Zen Surf collection goes, well, I’d put that up against anyone else’s surf collection. Still, it’s only natural that after a while you get used to hearing a lot of the same songs over and over again and you start thinking about what might be out there that you are missing.

Regarding #2: last Friday night I was poking around Amazon.com because I wanted to order the new Jimmy Buffett biography coming out in a few days (it will be my reading material when I go back to Massachusetts for Goodboys Invitational week in July) that Amazon pre-selected for me a release by The Bambi Molesters, a surf band from Croatia, which then led me to a band called Insect Surfers, which in turn led me to an all-girl band called The Neptunas, which finally led me to a wild and crazy “surf n’ roll” band Messer Chups from Russia. What can I say? I cranked up my Amazon Music application and started downloading like crazy.

The Bambi Molesters are a damned fine group – in fact, their release “As The Dark Wave Swells” is about as good a surf release as anyone has done. Their music is wonderfully arranged, not too crazy when loud, almost hypnotic in their quieter arrangements. And they have a very attractive bass player, Lada Furlan Zaborac, who plays as good as she looks. Here’s a YouTube video that’ll give you a good idea as to their look and sound. All their stuff is good.

Insect Surfers is a band from Washington, D.C., of all places. A solid surf band that serves up classic sounds with a hint (sometimes more than a hint) of psychedelia that has been around a long time – can’t believe I’d never heard of them. Here’s a YouTube video to give you an idea of what they look and sound like. Note the classic Fender equipment and the tiki in the background!

The Neptunas have what I would consider the most classic surf sound of the four bands. Lots of ’60s surf and garage rock influence here, almost as if the Go-Gos decided to go a little retro and try surf. I wouldn’t say their music is memorable, but it’s definitely surf and a worthwhile addition to the Zen Surf collection. Here’s a YouTube video of their sound.

I’ve saved the most exotic of the three for last. The only way I can describe Messer Chups is that they’re close to the surf band equivalent to what Pink Floyd was in how they use music as just one aspect of their multi-media approach. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what they’re identity is. Certainly, surf is the foundation for everywhere else their music takes them, but as their website explains:

In their music Messer Chups combine surf, beats, film samples, scratchy historical recordings, lounge-y and cartoon sounds from the 50?s and 60?s.The show is combined with video from trash cult movies of the middle of the last century – Betty Page, Bela Lugosi, zombies, Russ Meyer’s and Ed Wood’s heroes all mixed in video collages of the master Gitarkin. Messer Chups is the project of Russian composer Oleg Gitarkin, and while the band’s instrumental rock is hard to neatly categorize, it’s safe to say that it would be enjoyed by fans of rockabilly, horror punk, scratchy surf records, Italian slasher films, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, pulp fiction, lounge music, Ed Wood, the theremin, the Cramps, Russ Meyer movies and the theme song from “The Addams Family.” Gitarkin incorporates all of these elements and more, layering samples from Russian B-movies over weird vintage keyboard chirps and groovy horn loops.

What I found immediately striking about Messer Chups was that, like The Bambi Molesters, they have a female bassist named Zombie Girl or Zombierella who is – and I’m going out on a limb here – one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. What can I say? Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube video. It gives you a good idea of what the band sounds like. A few of their songs are a bit over the top – they really like to incorporate their love of horror into their music – but their music is unique and a welcome addition to Zen Surf.

So there you have it: in four very different bands a microcosm of why I love surf music so much. No bullshit rap, no phony synthesizers, just music played on real instruments that is clean and distinct. A genre that allows for lots of improvisation. A genre where you can’t hide behind space-age technology – either you can play or you can’t. And that includes female bass players. :-)

Dudes (and dudettes), my Zen Surf collection just keeps getting better and better.

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May 10, 2017

A few thoughts and comments at the midweek:

We had some pretty strange weather these past few days here in the Valley of the Sun. On Saturday we hit a high of 101, approximately ten degrees higher than normal, then saw the high on Sunday drop to a cool 72. Last night we actually had a quarter inch of rain from a storm moving across the state that actually brought the rain in from the southeast. Very unusual, considering: a) May is usually our second driest month (behind November), and b) rain from the southeast typically doesn’t happen until the monsoon season. And then tonight, bright moon shining down on the swimming pool from a hole in the clouds while rain poured down creating stars on the water. The air so clean and finally dust free, the cornstalk rustle of the palm trees – wish y’all could have seen it, it was a beautiful sight.

Yesterday morning, I was taking a break between calls and was talking to my neighbor John, and he remarked how we were living in paradise: the temperatures in the low 70s and a little humidity in the air – we could have been in a town outside San Diego. Not only that, but the houses in our subdivision are at the highest re-sale values he’s ever seen. You see, we’re benefitting not just from a rebounding economy – thank you President Trump! – but from all the building they are doing to the east and southeast, which is just making our location ten minutes from all the main freeways around here that much more desirable. In real estate, location is everything.

…Of course, in order to sell you have to somewhere to move. And right now we’re pretty content as to where we are.

I already liked VP Mike Pence, but knowing the Pences have a bunny for a pet only reinforces my view he’s a good man with a good family. You can even follow Marlon Bundo, “Bunny of the United States” on Instagram. He’s cute.

Just finished reading Robert Lusetich’s “Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger’s Most Tumultuous Season” and found it fascinating. Folks tend to forget that before his cheating-on-Elin scandal erupted Woods was playing at a very high level. It’s incredible to think we’ve now gone nearly nine – count ‘em – nine years without Woods winning another major. He was, and remains, a complex individual – one who, even with the incredible career he has had, I have little doubt would admit that he underachieved during his professional career. He futzed around with his swing too many times and made some questionable choices off the course that resulted in injuries he never should have had. Most importantly, he’s never sounded as if he were truly happy – a sad way to go through life. His father’s passing had an incalculable impact on him, but even before that he never projected himself as anything more than a brand to be cultivated and sold.

Frankly, I’m amazed FBI Director James Comey lasted this long. His handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail affair was beyond incompetent, and he should have been amongst the first fired by Trump. He knew damned well what Hillary Clinton had done, knew what laws she had broken, but chose politics over the rule of law in order to accommodate the Obama administration, Loretta Lynch’s corrupt Department of Justice, and Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

…If I were Robbie Mook, Hillary’s former campaign manager, Comey’s firing should have him terrified – for his former boss. Hey Hillary, I’ve got two words you might want to write down for future reference: Grand Jury. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if AG Jeff Sessions reopens the Hillary investigation and lets the courts decide whether what Hillary did as far as her e-mail server and classified information go rise to the level of prosecution.

…But somehow I think she already knows the answer to that question. I will say this: Donald Trump is holding one very large bargaining chip when it comes to the Democrats, and the funny thing is they’re too clueless to even realize it.

I tried to tell y’all based on what I saw of them in Spring Training, the New York Yankees are for real and are going to give the Sox and Orioles all they can handle in the American League East. And outside of a couple of players, they’re not an unlikeable bunch. I’m not sure they have enough pitching, but neither do the Sox. And don’t be fooled by the Sox’ offensive explosion of the past weekend – the Twins are awful. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Sox and the Yanks go down to the wire as far as who finishes in first.

…along those same lines, it’s too bad the Sox had to bench CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.; he’s one of the players I truly enjoy watching. But after 3+ years it’s pretty clear that while he’s an incredibly-gifted CF, he’s also a frustratingly streaky hitter – something you just can’t have in a lineup with offensive holes at both 3B and catcher.

…along those same lines, isn’t OF Andrew Binentendi fun to watch? He’s going to be a good one.

Hard to believe, even with the mainstream media so damned biased against the Republicans, that this story isn’t getting more play. I think it’s clear that Hillary Clinton’s failed run for the presidency (I’ve got the book and can’t wait to start reading it) was the result of totally corrupt Democratic Party machine headed by the equally-corrupt Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Talk about a swamp needing to be drained!

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May 8, 2017

Our story begins more than fifteen years ago (was it that long?) back during our time in Kentucky. Our good friend Jana, who decorated her entire house in a kind of Florida beachfront kind of motif, had collected a bunch of shells and seashore kind of stuff to create a lovely sea-sculpture for us. I had a picture of it somewhere but can’t find it for the life of me. But it was lovely, becoming a mainstay decoration in my bathroom in Louisville, then our tiny bathroom for the year plus we lived in that tiny apartment in Massachusetts, and finally, in my bathroom here in Arizona.

Like just about everything here in Arizona, the dry atmosphere and the dust takes its toll. A few years ago, while gently moving it so I could clean the countertop, a couple of shells came off. I tucked them into a larger shell, but the esthetics took a bit of a hit. Then, last year, the foundation started to come loose. And there was no point trying to dust it and return it to its original glory: the whole piece was just too fragile. Finally, the foundation came off and I knew the time had come, like it comes to all of us. It was time to return it to its source.

So, accompanying me back to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago was a plastic grocery bag filled with the pieces of the sea sculpture, now nothing but a dusty main piece and a collection of small shells.

One of the mainstays of any visit back home is to visit the seashore, and this time was no exception, albeit one with a purpose. The Sunday I headed up to the beach in Rye, New Hampshire the day had started gray and cool; by the time I hit the beach it was windy and cold. Spring comes late to the New England seacoast, and the day felt more like late March or early April than one day before the first of May. The various parking areas along the coast road where you could pull over and sit on the rocks and contemplate life, death, or whatever a vast expanse of ocean prompts one to dream of, typically filled with sightseers, were empty.

I pulled over and took off my t-shirt, pulled on a heavy sweatshirt for warmth. The sea, more often than not calm whenever I’m up there, was restless and choppy, and moody and gray as the low clouds scudding from east to west above. It would have been nice to do the deed on a bright sunny day, the sea sparkling, and the Isle of Shoals so clear in the distance that you felt you could almost touch them, but such was not to be the case. It could have been a depressing moment, I suppose, but it wasn’t: I felt good about returning Jana’s sculpture from whence it originally came. I thought about Jana and would have called her except there is zero – and I do mean zero signal at Rye Beach. I know she would have approved what I was doing. Given her view of the universe it would all make sense in a symmetrical way.

I thought about times past. I thought about our time in Kentucky – me, Tracey, Jana, and Jana’s parents. I thought the cats and all the rabbits we’d had, all of them long gone. I thought about how in just a few weeks’ time would come my first Mothers Day without a mom to send a card to and call. But then I saw how timeless the ocean is, how endless the waves are, and how nothing lasts forever. It didn’t seem to make sense to spend more than a few minutes dwelling on things one can’t change – besides, it was getting damned nippy out there. The only thing left to do was to get on with it and set the sea sculpture free.

I opened the bag just as the wind came up and a bunch of shells went flying unceremoniously onto the beach and the surrounding rocks. Didn’t even see where they all went. All that was left in the bag was the broken main piece of the sculpture itself. I took it out and gave it a simple Tom Brady fling, watched it plop into a pool of water beside one of the distant rocks…

THWAP! It wasn’t in the water more than two seconds when a seagull came swooping in over my head, plucked the sculpture out of the water before it had completely sunk, then flew it to a nearby rock where it began to systematically decapitate it, undoubtedly searching for tasty edibles.

“You son of a bitching bastard!”, I yelled at the gull, laughing at the absurdity of the whole moment. I knew Jana would have gotten a good laugh out of it as well. I stayed for another minute or two watching the gull destroy it, continued to swear at it. The gull didn’t care, and frankly, neither did I. In just a few hours the tide would come in, the rock would be immersed, and the sculpture lost to the sea. The fact that a seagull helped with the proceedings added just the right amount of joy and absurdity to the whole thing. Sorta like a reminder never to take things too seriously.

A few drops of cold rain began to fall, the waves sloshed against the rocks, the wind whipped through beach rose vines. It was time to go – a warm Mexican restaurant and a cold margarita awaited. I would drink a toast to Jana, the sea sculpture, and a memorable way to end an era. I would never look at that spot on my bathroom counter the same way again. And it would make me smile.

I took off the heavy sweatshirt, put back on my summer t-shirt, and drove away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:50 | Comments (2)
May 2, 2017

A few thoughts before heading back to Arizona where a certain set of irons are waiting, as is a yet-to-be-chosen driver and 5-wood as well. Lots of final assessing to be done there.

Boy, Massachusetts truly has become the domain Tom Brady and Bill Belechick when it comes to sports! Even with the Celtics in the playoffs interest in the Pats is at an all-time high given their Super Bowl win and their off-season moves. Not surprisingly, there’s very little interest here in the Red Sox – something that has to be concerning to the brass up on Yawkey Way. While there’s some talent there without a doubt – any game Chris Sale pitches is a must-see and OF Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogearts are a joy to watch, and OF Andrew Binentendi, while still raw, looks to be yet another in a line of top-notch left-fielders the team lacks an identity following the retirement of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and there are some big holes that I don’t see getting plugged anytime soon (third base, bullpen).

Sticking with the Sox, I’m holding fast to my earlier prediction that we won’t see David Price pitch this year. He’s a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen, and he doesn’t really fit this team anyways. Those two final big moves before the Sox got GM Dave Dombrowski – Price and 3B Pablo “Fat Pig” Sandoval – are gonna haunt them for a long time. They’re woefully in need of a third baseman who can both hit and defend. 3B is an offensive position in the bigs, and with Jackie Bradley Jr. (love his defense) being as streaky as he is, between CF, 3B, and catcher that’s a lot of offense to be giving away on a nightly basis.

Lots of folks on the conservative side of the fence are pretty upset over the GOP getting nuked by the Dems on that continuing resolution (CR) funding the government through Sept. but I’m not one of them. In reality, it’s the last Obama budget, so what did they expect? Now, come September I fully expect the first Donald Trump budget to be the culmination of all the promises he made during the campaign (build the wall, infrastructure, defunding Planned Parenthood, draining the swamp, etc.) and it better happen, or the 2018 midterms are going to be bloody for the GOP. I am confident the Prez will find a way to make it happen.

I was never much of fan of Queen’s music but there was never a doubt how talented their lead singer Freddy Mercury was. Dude could sing almost anything, and he did. In that regard, I love this video and his rendition of the old Platters hit. It’s just so over the top I was laughing out loud as I watched it.

Catch y’all once I’m back in Arizona!

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April 23, 2017

A few thoughts to ponder while in between some serious house cleaning…

It’s the end of an era as The O’Reilly Factor is no more. Wonder what Megyn Kelly is thinking about. She got too big for her britches too fast and should have just cooled her jets. Now she’s in nowheresville and the chance of a lifetime – heading up the nightly FOX News lineup – has gone buh bye.

Tiger Woods has another back surgery. It’s becoming increasingly hard to see him coming back to play professional golf full-time. But if it truly is – as his agent says (an agent, BTW, who has yet to tell the truth in a single statement he’s ever made), a way for Tiger to simply live the rest of his life pain-free, well, after all he’s been through the guy deserves at least that.

Lydia Ko has now gone through nine – count ‘em, nine! – caddies in her brief professional career. Either the girl is nuts or she’s getting mucho bad advice from her team. As Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie can both attest to, as Frank Sinatra famously sang, “you’re flying high in April, shot down in May.” At least Ko is young enough to grow up.

…which is why I’m never crazy about these teen phenoms turning pro so early. Your youth years are so short. If you’re that good, you’ll still be good enough when you’re 23 or 24. The risks of early burnout and injuries (as Wie can attest to) are just so high. No matter how good you might be, kiddies, professional golf is still for grown-ups.

If an asteroid strike is truly coming, I’m just gonna sit on my patio with a Hemingway Daiquiri or two or three and just watch it happen.

Can I just say a word or two about the Doc Ford series of novels by Randy Wayne White? I’ve already read nine of them and there hasn’t been a bad one yet. Just good entertainment and a fab alternative to sitting in front of the TV and feeling your brain cells getting sucked out of you. If you like fiction set in southwest Florida and all over the Caribbean and the St. Somewheres of the world let me know – you can have them after I finish them!

If you’re a Red Sox fan, I hope you haven’t bet the farm on seeing David Price pitch this year. Dollars to donuts he’s going to end up having Tommy John surgery, and you heard it here first. And with that go their chances for a deep playoff run this year. I’ve seen just a few games so far, but it’s not hard to see that the team’s weakness is their bullpen and inconsistent 3-5 starting rotation. They’re just not deep when it comes to pitching, and it will kill them in the long run.

Much as I hate to say it, keep an eye on the Yankees this year. They are up and coming!!

Woke up the other day with this early Pink Floyd tune in my head. Reminds me just how cool a band they were and how much my brother Mark and I loved their early music before Dark Side of the Moon turned them into superstars. I hear this song and I’m transported back to the old house on Main Street, lying in bed in the morning and hearing the birds outside.

My latest music craze is Hawaiian music. If you’re interested in mellow music that’s bound to help keep you sane in a world like this go to YouTube and check out the likes of Cyndi Combs, Hawaiian Style Band, Dennis Kamakahi, “Sister” Robi Kahalakau (she, Stevie Nicks and Charlotte Church are my favorite female vocalists), Elua Kane, Gabby Pahinui, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Keali’i Reichel, and Kuana Torre Kahele. Believe me, you’ll catch my drift.

These clowns are lucky they weren’t born 55 years ago – they’d find themselves storming beach heads in the South Pacific. It makes one almost embarrassed to be an American.

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April 21, 2017

Yo! Cats and chicks out there, I gotta confess there have been only a relatively few times in my life when hearing a song for the first time absolutely blew me away. Like in a life-changing way.**

But it was while surfing the Internet the other night and checking out one of my usual haunts, a Phil Spector/Wall of Sound appreciation site called Cue Castanets! that, much to my surprise, I came upon this video by none other than “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen backing a track from his 2007 release Magic. And I have to say, not only has it rocketed into a very exclusive list of my favorite tunes of all time, it seems to have occupied a place in my brain ever since – even while sleeping. I seem to fall asleep and wake up to the song in my head.

Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a Springsteen fan – he’s always seemed a bit too much of a limousine liberal for me to fully embrace his music. Sure, there have been releases over the years (Born In The USA and Nebraska, to name a couple) that I’ve enjoyed, and just about every release of his has had at least a couple of tunes that were OK, but not enough to turn me into a bona fide fan, if you catch my drift.

But I am familiar enough with his music to know that amongst his greatest influences as a musician is Phil and his so-called “Wall of Sound” (“Born To Run” the most obvious example; there are others). And just hearing those first opening bars with the multiple guitars strumming in sync (a Phil trademark – “Be My Baby”, “My Sweet Lord”, “Isn’t It A Pity”, to name just a few, but to these ears it sounds like a faster version of John Lennon’s and Phil’s unreleased “Be My Baby”) was enough to perk up my ears and think that something special was obviously happening.

Although recorded nearly a decade ago, “The Girls In Their Summer Clothes” sounds like a period piece, something that easily could have been recorded in the mid-to-late sixties by the Righteous Brothers or the Walker Brothers. Besides the multiple guitars creating a lush background, you have castanets and Bruce’s weary vocal carrying the initial verse before Max Weinberg’s drums lead the E Street Band into a full band second verse (another Phil trademark). The piano flourishes in the choruses sound like something Jack “Specs” Nitzsche would have arranged for Leon Russell to play. There’s nothing here that smacks of 21st century electronic wizardry: it’s a band just going all out and playing their asses off from start to finish.

And the lyrics are just what you’d expect from Springsteen. Images painted of small-town Americana: the front porch, the sidewalks filled with people and lovers walking hand in hand, the bank building and the department store in the center of town, the diner on “the edge of town” (just off the interstate?) a respite and means of escape from the loneliness and restlessness he’s feeling. After all, the girls in their summer clothes are not just passing by, they’re passing him by. And you have the waitress serving him coffee asking “a penny for this thoughts”, as if that is all he’s worth.

Well the street lights shine
Down on Blessing Avenue
Lovers they walk by
Holdin’ hands two by two

A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin ’round
Jacket’s on, I’m out the door
Tonight I’m gonna burn this town down

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

Kid’s rubber ball smacks
Off the gutter ‘neath the lamp light
Big bank clock chimes
Off go the sleepy front porch lights

Downtown the store’s alive
As the evening’s underway
Things been a little tight
But I know they’re gonna turn my way

Frankie’s Diner’s
Over on the edge of town
Neon sign spinnin’ round
Like a cross over the lost and found

Fluorescent lights
Flicker above Bob’s Grill
Shaniqua brings a coffee and asks “fill?”
And says “penny for your thoughts now my boy Bill”

She went away
She cut me like a knife
Hello beautiful thing
Maybe you could save my life

In just a glance
Down here on Magic Street
Love’s a fool’s dance
I ain’t got much sense but I still got my feet

La la la la, la la la la la la la

No matter what happens, even amidst the weariness and the melancholy there remains a sense of hope that things are just ready to turn around – after all, he’s got both the ability and the agility (his feet) to take advantage of the opportunity if only it would come.

The lyrics are timeless: he could be singing about last weekend or memories cherished (or not so) from long ago. Either way, the sentiments of loneliness, restlessness, desperation, and coming to terms with the fact that youth does not last forever are universal. I love the way the chord change at 2:49 seems to express a sense of hope that one person or one thing can change everything, can bring it all back. It’s all these things that makes the song so meaningful and personal to me.

Want to hear something funny? I listen to the song and its lyrics and I can picture my fellow Goodboy friend “Cubby” Myerow sitting in an aluminum lawn chair on his front porch in Salem, Massachusetts, just a stone’s throw from that Elizabeth Montgomery statue, the ocean just blocks away, a cold beer in his hand watching the world passing by on a summer night as the heat of the day starts to wane. With perhaps the aroma of an Italian restaurant just down the street filling the air along with the sounds of basketball being played on a nearby playground. Not sure why that is, but that’s the image I get. Hope you don’t mind, Cubby!

But I digress.

The whole purpose of this post is to say that “The Girls In Their Summer Clothes” is a memorable and breathtaking performance from start to finish, destined to take its place in the roll amongst my favorite songs of all time. Well done, Bruce!

BTW, if you want to see the official video for this song click here. It’s really good. Catches both the mood and the underlying melancholy really well. And the fact that both of the videos were shot at the Jersey shore, well, I’m a sucker for anything that involves the ocean.

But I have a feeling y’all knew that, already.

——————————-

** For those wondering, off the top of my head, the Ronettes “Do I Love You” (my first exposure to Phil’s “Wall of Sound”), The Beatles 45 RPM of “Hey Jude” b/w “Revolution” (in my view the greatest single in rock music history), Fleetwood Mac’s “Think About Me” and “Bleed To Love Her”, the first time I heard the music of Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys In Concert and the Pet Sounds albums, The Sandals’ “(Theme From) The Endless Summer”, and Charlotte Church’s “Cold California”, to name just a few.

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April 19, 2017

For Easter I dug out one of my prayer candles from out of the office closet and lit it this past Saturday, then placed it under the table in the prayer grove. It looks nice there, glowing amidst all the bougainvillea flowers that have fallen off the bushes in the past couple of days.

Death and resurrection, I guess that’s what it’s all about.

I titled the post in the hope of the Resurrection rather than in the faith of the Resurrection. I think that’s a more accurate statement of where my spiritual situation stands at this juncture in my life. I was thinking about it on Sunday and realize that outside of my mom’s funeral service last year I haven’t been to church for the better part of four years. And it really didn’t bother me. I still think about religion, and God, and the Church a lot, but what I believe is a whole different thing.

A large part of me has come to believe that we who are privileged to live here in the US of A, with the freedoms we take so much for granted, our supermarkets full of the bounty of God’s creation, plentiful clean water to drink and food to eat, a governing system that, while far from perfect, is hands above just about any other on this planet, and everything else we tend to take for granted: well, perhaps this is what heaven is. We’re not enslaved by totalitarian regimes, the majority of our people don’t live amidst garbage and filth and poverty beyond anything we can imagine like folks do in large swaths of Africa and Asia. For all bitching and complaining we do, to be alive here in the USA of the early 21st century is where it’s at. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this, is what I’m saying.

What happens after we die? Well, I’m not going to worry about it. When my time comes I’ll deal with it then and let God, whomever He, She, or It is, handle things from there. I like to live in the present: I find thinking about the past makes me feel melancholy and a bit lost – not because of what I have or haven’t done, or under achieved or over achieved in, it’s just those I’ve loved and everything I knew as I’ve grown to this age is increasingly lost to the passage of time. I look at my life and have very few regrets about anything I’ve done, decisions I’ve made or things I should have done differently, and can only ask how do I know whether I would have come out of them better or worse than I am now? You can’t dwell on that kind of shit – it’ll eat you alive.

So I focus on the present: the things I need to do at work, the quiet joys of relaxing on my back porch, the golf clubs left to complete my set, the books I’m reading, the tasks of everyday life at hand. As far as the future is concerned, Tracey and I have done as much as we can to plan and prepare for our retirements (mine coming much sooner than hers!), so it’s just prepare just in case you live long enough to experience it. I know things will change, some for the better, perhaps, most surely for the worse. But you can’t fixate and worry about it: life has its own way of coming at you just like it always has. Life is fleeting. Joy and anguish equally so. You deal with the cards you’ve been dealt and deal with it as best you can.

Which is why a candle burning in a little secluded prayer grove may seem a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, yet perhaps it means so much as well. It’s a gesture that recognizes there are much bigger and smaller forces out there that we simply can’t comprehend. And that, in the end everything comes down to death and renewal. It may not be resurrection in the most Christian of terms, but it’s a symbol of how tenuous our holds are on our own little existences that mean even more little in the long run. It’s my own little reminder of just how fragile life is, and how important it is to live every day to its fullest, ever mindful that my life, just like that candle’s in the prayer grove, and just like all those fallen flowers that were once so full of life and color, has its limits.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments (0)
April 17, 2017

A items to start the week:

The 2017 Masters has been history for a week now, but for some it will remain a precious memory forever.

I guess my Augusta National is Portsmouth Country Club, where the view upon turning into its oak tree-lined lane with its clubhouse at the end of the driveway doesn’t look a whole lot different. It’s a drive I’ve made many times, and it’s one I never tire of. Hopefully I can play it again sometime this year. All I need now is a set of clubs!

Folks might notice I haven’t posted much about the politics lately, and that’s because I haven’t got a lot to say. I’m pretty much with the Prez on just about everything he’s done to date. He’s pretty much as advertised – impulsive, unpredictable, still feeling his way around who the players are and what is and is not possible. Unlike the nattering loons in the mainstream media, I don’t think a president’s first one hundred days means squat outside of setting a tone for the rest of his presidency. Talk to me in six months as to whether I think he’s doing a good job or not.

That being said, this seems about right to me:

“It has become increasingly clear to me that there was widespread wiretapping of President Trump and his associates and that the underlying justification was pretextual — it was actually intended to spy on a political opponent. And it is equally clear that the nonsensical post-election tale that Russia colluded with Trump so that he could beat Hillary Clinton was a coverup tale to justify the unmasking and leaking of some of the information — particularly about General Flynn — which has taken place. The prior administration was so confident Hillary would win that they left their tracks uncovered and afterward were desperate to hide the truth so they projected and whispered the Russians were colluding with Trump.”

The whole Trump/Russia thing only makes sense when you accept the fact that the mainstream media is nothing more than a group of Democratic Party operatives.

…and they still can’t believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election. And they’ll never accept it. Nor will she. When will people finally wake up to the fact that she was, and was always, a lousy politician who headed up a lousy campaign? But I guess it’s easier to say that it was the Russians who through Donald Trump decided she shouldn’t travel to Wisconsin at least once during the campaign.

I can’t say I’ve agreed with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on much, but if he keeps this up I might have to start paying more attention to him. I’ve watched her in action during a number of Senate confirmation hearings and she’s an embarrassment to the Senate. Not, unfortunately, to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I’ll bet. All the more reason to live in Arizona.

President Trump is right, you have to wonder who’s funding these organized protests. Me? The moment I see Barack Obama’s medical records and college transcripts then I’ll ask PDJT to release his tax returns.

I miss the team of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy. Thanks, YouTube!

I miss Warren Zevon. Thanks, YouTube! Another must listen is Mohammed’s Radio, with Lindsay Buckingham and a (then) Stephanie Nicks doing on background vocals.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:04 | Comments (0)
April 6, 2017

…so the last time I left this topic I was discussing my plans for the middle section of the back yard, the area you see when you’re standing inside the house and looking out back. In my original post, I detailed why I was seeking a kind of radical redesign – one that would use space and light colors to create an airy kind of buffer between the east side of the back (the swimming pool and pool deck) and the west (lawn and Tiki bar deck). As I mentioned in that post, the idea was to have the patio and that area of the back yard create the kind of theme we sought to achieve in the overall landscape design: in our case, something both whimsical and tropical in the “St. Somewhere” vein, a combination of the Caribbean and the South Seas.

The original post showed what the area looked like. Now let’s do some before and after shots to give you an example of everything that went down over the past few weeks. First: the patio. Amazing what a sprayer and some white flat latex paint can do to make wicker look bright and cheery. Here’s the before:

…and here’s the after, albeit from a slightly different angle, but you still get the idea:

We also re-positioned the chairs around the Jimmy Buffet “Boat Drinks” table so that anyone walking outside onto the patio to get to the barbecue or the swimming pool no longer has to walk around the furniture. It’s all designed to make an area that’s actually quite small appear more open an allow the new “strand” area and the pool deck stand out.

Speaking of the “strand” area, just to jog your memory, here’s a picture of what the area looked like before – definitely more of an Arizona, desert-y feel than anything remotely tropical, right?

And now after, showing what a ton and a half of light-colored rock, a second queen palm, and a tiki purchased from a local artist who distributes his work at the nursery down the street can do:

Actually, to call it a “strand” doesn’t really describe how the area ended up, it actually looks more like a small tropical island in the South Pacific than anything else – especially with the palm debris that was allowed to stay right where it dropped courtesy of Mother Nature and a big windstorm we had the day after it was done. Funny thing: last Friday I came home to see the debris picked up by our landscaper Carmelo’s crew (they’re thorough if nothing else!). Fortunately, they only tossed the debris into our trash barrel, so I was able to retrieve it and put it back where it was.

I’ll have to speak to Carmelo this week to make sure it doesn’t happen again – you can’t let landscaping stand in the way of art!

But it’s not just the view from the back door that is transformed: look at the before and after pics taken from the lawn looking towards the swimming pool. Like I said in the original post, it was a jumble of stuff masquerading as an Arizona backyard:

Now the area looks bright and airy, especially after I spray-painted our patio dining set the same white as our wicker chairs. It looks especially nice in the late afternoon sun:

Pretty nice, huh? The area also looks really nice at night with the new palm softly lit and the big mesquite in the far right corner brightly lit with a new spotlight that enables you to see it from inside the house at night, thus emphasizing the four-season (actually, it’s only two, “hot” and “not”) lifestyle we have here in the Valley of the Sun.

Total cost? Between the landscaping, three tikis (I bought two others, will show you those in a later post), the queen palm, and the patio furniture painting project (including one false start due to bad advice from the True Value guy), the whole effort cost a shade under two grand. Not a bad investment for getting the back yard looking pretty close to way I originally envisioned it so many years ago.

Of course, when you own a house no good deed goes unpunished. In this case, by upgrading everything around it you end up highlighting stuff that still needs to be done. In this case, it’s the pool deck, which may not look too bad in the photos above, but it’s in dire need of resurfacing. But that’s a project for next year. Tracey has her own (strong) ideas of how it should be resurfaced; I think in this case I’m just gonna sit back and let her decide once we get all the quotes. But that’s a long time away – for now, it’s nice to just sit outside, during the day or at night under soft pineapple lights, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment not just for a job well done, but of a vision and concept successfully realized.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:28 | Comment (1)

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