Saturday, December 27, 2008


OK you comic geeks. I never followed comics the rags that were stacked in the drug store and the grocery store showing guys in tights and capes saving the world from the Nazis and Japs and whatever came along. Superman (although I did wear the t-shirt), Batman, Spider Man, and all those Justice dudes.

I had a friend in elementary school who could draw Superman. Detailed Superman. We did a class project of a Roman mosaic, but all the characters looked like Superman figures.

But the mid-60's caught my attention with the UNDERGROUND COMICS. These were the comics with political movement I agreed with.

So here are some of the examples of the poorly printed but exciting comics that kept my college years entertained.

Robert Crumb created the street wise collection of characters. Down to earth and straight forward. And a little dirty. "Zap", "Mr. Natural", "Whiteman", the list goes on and on.

Gilbert Sheton's "Wonder Wart-Hog" was a fearless, fighting foul mouth wonder hero, but who would have come up with a Wart-Hog super hero? Must have been the drugs, right Art?

Larry Welz's "Captain Guts" was America's Savior. Socking it to those wild hippies and political radicals while being controlled by beer to make him a super hero.

Gilbert Shelton's "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" captured the hairy guys who hung out together and did dope and thought about doing more dope in the roaches and cats and dirt of 60's apartments.

Don Dohler's "ProJunior" was a left over from the 40's. Here was a kid growing up with white eyes and no confidence. Sound familar? Lots of artist in the Kitchen Sink Enterprises did take offs like Mr. Crumb, Evert Geradts, Jayzey Lynch, Jim Mitchell, Peter Loft, Ned Sonntag, Wendel Pugh, Bruce Walthers, Dale Kuipers, Justin Green, Skip Williamson, Joel Beck, andBill Griffith. I'm sure there were others.

Will Eisner's "Spirit" has returned to the movie and possible DVD vision of a 40's crime fighter. Great graphics and very, very sexy.

Milton Moose's "Myron Moose" with his poor sinus problem and association to great classics. Must be a Canadian thing. Very dark and well adjusted.

Jim Mitchell's "Smile" characters of drugs, and sex, and happiness showed so much promise, that he is in the comic pages of daily newspapers.

Corben's detailed life after the end of the human race caught our imagination. Also the women were more than endowed.

Vaughn Bode" Junkwaffel" and "Sunpot" and much more showed creatures in space trying to face the ever present fear of death.

I'll let you Google and search for these artist and more who filled the pages of cheap prints like Print Mint, Rip Off Press, Apex Novelties, Smut Peddlers of America, Kitchen Sink Enterprises, and others providers of printing to young artist.

I tried to enter this realm during the early 70's with a character named "Roger Wilco" and his sidekick Wooden Indian. His big agenda was he only had 4-fingers, like Micky Mouse. More on that later.

So enjoy your fantasy and new artist will create worlds of magic that every reader will get lost in.

Unfortunately it will not be on ink and paper and a drawing board, rather than a mouse and computer screen.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

December 25, 2008

Another holiday. Another Christmas.

Wake up at 10, after a night up til 4:00 a.m., waiting for the paperboy to come by so I can give him a $20 gift card and some cookies. He looked surprise.

Sunny day. And warm. The kind of day that makes you look through the dusty window, past the bamboo and want to get out.

But the late night and the amount of alcohol has slowed my responses.

A night of working on a calendar for a laid off friend, a night spent working on a Christmas video for YouTube, a night looking thorough some old notes and books. Christmas eve
I believe they call it.

So today was spent avoiding the chatter of the Gilmore Girls, watching and feeding the yard critters, watching the sunshine reflect on the wooden beamed walkway. A day spent making a guitar Christmas CD.

Last year this time I was as giddy as a schoolboy. But time marches on.

So as families sit beside the fire, opening packages, and sharing the warmth of each other, I will enjoy the day.

Happy birthday Jesus. Enjoy the day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vacation Slug

Winter vacations are rough. The weather is cold. The sky is gray. The rain continues and does not evaporate. The wind blows. Yuck!

So with all the plans and things-to-do before the holiday season, television and music become the filler for no motivation.

The dark morning is broken by "Light" and a blinding brightness awakening the frosty air. With only a corner of a blanket and the bottom spread pull up off the corner and used for a sheet, you eyes don't open as cats bounce off your frozen body. As the dog stands under her blanket you hear "Coffee!" Sitting up, adjusting your hoodie sweatshirt, pulling at invisible covers, the television starts to blare "The Morning News".

"Sit up!" you slide you body up against the wall of pillows, still pulling whatever scraps of blankets and throws piled in mountains across the bed. The wind rustles the bamboo against the window air conditioner through the frost on the inside of the window.

The first sip of coffee is interrupted by two women chattering. It's the "Gilmore Girls" and the angst of a teen girl and her single mother with more money, funky parents, wacky boyfriends, Yale, crazy band, greasy diner, small town intrigue and things-to-say than anyone could imagine coming from two people at one time.

With the cuddly kittens crawling back under the covers and purring the sleepy rumble against the small speaker spewing constant conversation, the eyelids become heavy. Just a few more minutes.

Finally you can not take it anymore and must drag your body out of the bed. Slipping on heelless shoes sliding down the hall past the wallboard door and the litter room to open the flash of cold in the bathroom.

The hole in the wall behind the skin always lets you know what season you are in. The shower curtain blows in the breeze coming under the window pane frosted inside and out. Pour the bucket in the bowl to flush and place it back in the dropping faucet.

Pull off the over sized gray sweat pants and pull up the hole ridden dirt warn blue jeans over the dark blue long johns. Strap on the suspenders and re-load the dark gray sweatshirt over a thin gray t-shirt then another gray heavier sweatshirt on top, Gray homemade wool socks and old tennis shoes that are not really tennis shoes but I still use the term. They are actually "sports" shoes with walking treads, but don't do as much walking with arch supports and gel cushion. Slap on the VCU black baseball cap, although it has never played baseball and off into the world.
Pull the handle on the backdoor and over the crumbling porch, down the plastic steps to the walkway of timbers , gaps off rotten out wood, slippery from the rain.

Squeeze open the squeaky door to the spider web strewn studio and smell the mold. Spring is how many months away?

Time for the daily trip to the grocery store. Time to get the blood moving around the body. Got to shake off the slug.

Point down the Big Blue down the walkway made from a 6-foot fence and past the goldfish sitting dormant in the cool air. Up the gravel alley to the street, mount the saddle, and slid on tight gloves while you take in the sky and direction of clouds.

Turn right and glide onto the wet pavement. Listen for the traffic patterns as you roll toward the stoplight which is always red. Coast down the hill past the Westmoreland Lake and check the mirror to make sure there is room between you and the massive mobile machines and the mounds of slippery brown slushy leaves. It could be worst, it could be snow. Slow at the next stoplight and take a breath.

And today, after an evening and morning of rain, caused a pilgrimage of young and old alike, traveling with a uniform attention to a Kroger grocery store. Pushing carts, driving massive mobile machines, walking, talking to roaches in their ears, bringing their children, all moving toward the place of food and warmth.

As I locked up, a young woman walked pass me and under her dark glasses with a smile said "Good day for a ride". I looked up surprised at the comment and responded, "Yes, and the sun came out." Doesn't take much to make my day.

Back home and television and computer and music. Don't look at the stack of stuff you need or want to do. Don't go through your pack with the notes from weeks before. Don't even plug in the digital converter box for the DTV test, which none of the televisions passed.

Put on headphones and listen to the dozen of Beatle covers and original out takes or original poems put to primitive guitar and teen angst. Oh, that again.

Watch the comments of friends on Facebook, happy to see a new friend, and check out old music videos on YouTube.

What a way to waste a week.

But, now it's time to shake it off, rub some dirt in it, back to work, pay some bills, and get ready to end one weird year and start an unsure other one.

May the slug release me
and let me get back to



and life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Parade

After 25 years, I enjoy watching Richmond's last parade. Marching bands, floats, city notables riding in open top cars, clowns, flags, and balloons.

For years there have been parades of military drill teams and R.O.T.C. students marching down Broad Street to crowds of children sitting on the curbs and waving at their brothers and sisters.

Floats covered with paper flowers, pretty girls in gowns waving and smiling to the sidewalks filled with fathers and mothers presenting their children to the season. Trucks pulling the floats are covered with signs advertising their dealerships, showing their community involvement to sell more cars.

In earlier days, there were radio disc jockeys, Miss Richmond beauty queen, a little guy in a red coat and black hat calling out "Call for Phillip Morris" while football players threw out free packs of cigarettes. Even floats of the Literary Club of John Marshell High School and the cheerleaders of Thomas Jefferson High School .

And this year with over 100 entries, there was no entry by the local newspaper? Still the marching bands, floats, trolleys, smiling faces, and clowns, but not presence of the local city newspaper.

Is this the future?

25 years ago I did the artwork for the logo as a pro-bono job for the Jaycees.

If nothing else comes out of this season, I can still enjoy the parade. It makes the town I live in smile for a few hours, even in the cold.

Happy Holidays.

Where is my bailout?

Sometime in life there was a theory that money (coins, currency, checks, etc.) were WORTH a value. The value of work done to earn a salary. And the salary was value of work accomplished against the common value of goods and services.

but somewhere we have lost our way.

We have spent more than we earn, we borrow more than we can pay back, and we want someone to bail us out. We did not do anything wrong. We were following the American dream.

Sure, everyone wants to have someone else come in and take care of your problems.

Over spend yourself into debt. Run to mommy for a few extra bucks to carry you over the weekend. Maybe even worst.

When was the last time you whipped out the credit card, knowing you did not have the means to pay, and put your signature on a piece of paper as a blind faith that the item you have signed for will be repaid in a short time.

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." said Whimpy.

And the mail was full of plastic cards declaring you as a rich person and deserve to extend your wealth. Visa, MasterCard, Penneys, Sears, Hechingers, Dillards, Macys,...the list goes on-and-on. And your wallet is full of them.

Borrow from this one to pay that one. Pay the minimum balance or just the interest until next month.

And keep up the appearance of money in the bank.

Are we keeping up with the Jones?

So Uncle Sam, print more money, pour it all over the banking and the manufacturing industry. Hope more money will increase more borrowing of money that can not be paid back.

Uncle Sam, get us out of this!
Save our poor work ethics.
Save us from not noticing that our manufacturing was being shipped overseas.
Save us from not noticing that our greed was breaking us down.
Save us from our lack of innovation except for video games which waste our time while exporting the dollars from manufacturing overseas.
Save us from our demands for easy living and billion dollar debt, but if it doesn't raise my gas price or grocery bills or eating out every night or deflating my company bonus.....

then I don't care.

Prices are going up, jobs are going down, and our future progress uncertainty is scaring me and that feel-good forecast for a future easy retirement is GONE!

So panic little boys and girls. The sky is falling and running around in the barnyard will not solve the problem.

Like the great depression,
pick yourself up,
dust yourself off
and face ahead.
Do we cross the mountains or stop here?

Do we find new innovations to create energy in a safe, easy to use form?

Do we find new innovations to create an educational process that will provide our children with the knowledge they will require to function in the global economy, not just Burger World.

Do we find new innovations to take pity on our sick and poor to give them hope, wellness, and training to skills providing them independence.

Or do we wait for a bailout.

Mommy! Mommy!! MY SKY IS FALLING!!!

What is a NIMROD?

What is a nimrod?

and there is a nation

Richards turns 65

LONDON (AFP) — Famously drug-addled Rolling Stone Keith Richards turns 65 this week, but he remains tightlipped about any wild party plans he might have to celebrate becoming a pensioner.

The legendary guitarist, songwriter and archetypal wild rocker will reach the landmark age -- more usually associated with gardening and cardigans -- only a few months after Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who turned 65 in July.

"He wants to keep it very private," was all a spokesman for Richards would say when asked how the musician would mark his birthday on Thursday.

Named by Rolling Stone magazine as the tenth best guitarist in the world, the shaggy-haired star has proved remarkably resilient to a lifetime of substance abuse, explained by his view that his body was a "laboratory".

Richards toured the world with the Stones last year, and continues to release music, although his image as a hell-raiser was nuanced by his recent appearance in an advert for upmarket luggage maker Louis Vuitton.

But the myth surrounding him remains strong, reinforced by tales of him falling out of a coconut tree in Fiji in 2006, reports that he snorted his father's ashes with cocaine and, for younger fans, his reincarnation as Johnny Depp's character Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Born December 18, 1943 in Dartford, east of London, Richards was initiated into the world of the blues by his mother.

In 1960, he met up with Jagger, an old primary school classmate, and with Brian Jones they formed Rolling Stones, named after the Muddy Waters song.

Having built up a dedicated following, the band rose to prominence with the release of "(I can't get no) Satisfaction" -- Richards said the song's signature guitar riff came to him in the middle of the night.

With the talent came turmoil, however. As the Stones' success grew, so did their reputation as hell-raisers, with riots breaking out at many gigs as well as numerous drugs episodes involving Richards and Jones, who died in 1969.

Speaking to Esquire magazine earlier this year, Richards was asked about his intake of cocaine, to which he replied: "After the first maniac year of taking it, my intake of cocaine was, yeah, once after a meal."

In 1967, a now legendary drugs bust at Richards' Redlands home saw both him and Jagger given jail terms, although the guitarist's sentence was quashed on appeal and Jagger's was reduced to a conditional discharge.

For Richards, this marked only the beginning of his close relationship with drugs, epitomised by his remark: "My body was sort of a laboratory. I wanted to see what I could do with it."

His partner in much of this was Anita Pallenberg, the ex-girlfriend of Brian Jones with whom Richards had three children, although one died as an infant. He had two others with Patti Hansen, who he married on his 40th birthday in 1983.

In 1977, Richards was arrested for possession of heroin in Toronto, Canada, and in return for clemency, he and Pallenberg entered rehabilitation.

But the respite was brief, with Richards later remarking: "I've never had a problem with drugs. I've had problems with the police."

After the Canadian episode, the Stones returned in 1978 with what many considered their best album so far, "Some Girls". But in the early 1980s, Jagger moved the group towards a more modern pop sound, which Richards opposed.

The future of the Stones seemed rocky when, in 1985, Jagger launched a solo career. Three years later Richards released his own solo album, the well-received "Talk is Cheap", although this was not his first venture on his own -- he released a version of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" in 1978.

But talk of a break-up proved premature, and the Stones returned with a new album, "Steel Wheels", in 1989, which kicked off a massive world tour. Through to the mid-2000s they continued to produce new music and kept playing live.

Richards has since released several songs from his back catalogue and it has even been suggested that he is planning an easy listening album.

Asked in an interview with GQ magazine in 2008 about his dances with death, Richards noted: "There were plenty of times I could've given up the ghost. But it just seemed like such a cheap way out."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tis The Season

A December Sunday afternoon. Sunny but cold. Back from the store after filling the bags with comfort food and settling down to football and beer, little music, and SMACK kill that flying gnat.

But a few thoughts keep rumbling around this season.

Every December brings thoughts of the year past. The hot summer nights, the spring flowers, the fall leaves, the cold of winter. But this year has been different.

The first day of this year was the most incredible day I have ever had. But enough about that for now.

This 2008 year has been an ever tensing economy, realization that the secure industry you have worked for 38 years is sinking fast. Friends and colleagues day-by-day disappear. The cost of doing business.

The other day, I took a day off to control my once-a-year cold. The next day the newspaper printed that 18 employees were laid off.

"Do I have a job? Do I go back to work?"

So I peddle down to work, looking at the old sites and start to contemplate.

"What would I do if it is all over?"

Unemployment? Re-invent yourself? Go back to school? Just retire??

My thoughts went to some of my friends who have already retired. One is getting part time jobs. One is laying in a hospital bed. One is staying at home with a pacemaker.

Is that what I want?

But the economy is not all there is to the end of the year.

The season of reflections also means holidays with food, laughter, friends. Dressing up the house and yourself to party and travel to family gatherings.

Unless you do not have any friends. Or family. Then what?

Yes, I could attend gatherings with associates where the drink flows freely and debauchery continues to entice the possibilities of a dream soon vanished.

The season of giving, but giving what? The houses of organized religion wait all year for this month to decorate, sing, and praise the holiday, but only to those who give to them.

But it makes you feel good to give an open buffet meal to people in rags for one day and a few scrapes of tinsel and plastic to children who need an education and role model.

My tradition?

Wake up at sunrise and walk to the nearest park past the blue glow of TVs in every window. Stand silently. Enjoy the quiet because the rest of the world is inside their homes opening presents.

Throw a broken pieces from a couple of loafs of bread to the ground and stand still and watch the gathering before you. Feather and fur arrive to feast on the biggest holiday, but it is just a treat for them.

And when the feast is done, they scurry away. But that is enough.

The walk home is warm and fulfilling.

So what will you do this season?

Enjoy yourself with new stuff or have a fulfilling feeling?

It's up to you.

Monday, December 8, 2008


This cool season my eye has caught a new look.
An attractive look.
Long legs into big thick boots.

Leggings in dark colors against the pavement, and high thick warm boots.

Short jackets reveal fast moving legs keeping the warmth of these tall padded boots.

Ready for winter?

I am.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta and the Indian of the Group


NEW YORK – Odetta's monumental voice rang out in August 1963 when she sang "I'm on My Way" at the historic March on Washington, where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

She had hoped to perform again in Washington next month when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the nation's first black president. But the acclaimed folk singer, who influenced generations of musicians and was an icon in the civil rights struggle, died Tuesday after battling heart disease. She was 77.

In spite of failing health, Odetta performed 60 concerts in the last two years, and her singing ability never diminished, manager Doug Yeager said.

"The power would just come out of her like people wouldn't believe," he said.

She was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital with kidney failure about three weeks ago, Yeager said in confirming her death.

With her classically trained voice and spare guitar, Odetta gave life to the songs by workingmen and slaves, farmers and miners, housewives and washerwomen, blacks and whites.

First coming to prominence in the 1950s, she influenced Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and other superstars of the folk music boom.

An Odetta record on the turntable, listeners could close their eyes and imagine themselves hearing the sounds of spirituals and blues as they rang out from a weathered back porch or around a long-vanished campfire a century before.

"What distinguished her from the start was the meticulous care with which she tried to re-create the feeling of her folk songs; to understand the emotions of a convict in a convict ditty, she once tried breaking up rocks with a sledge hammer," Time magazine wrote in 1960.

"She is a keening Irishwoman in `Foggy Dew,' a chain-gang convict in `Take This Hammer,' a deserted lover in `Lass from the Low Country,'" Time wrote.

Odetta called on her fellow blacks to "take pride in the history of the American Negro." When she sang at the March on Washington — along with Baez, Dylan, Josh White and Peter, Paul and Mary — "Odetta's great, full-throated voice carried almost to Capitol Hill," The New York Times said.

"I'm not a real folk singer," she told The Washington Post in 1983. "I don't mind people calling me that, but I'm a musical historian. I'm a city kid who has admired an area and who got into it. I've been fortunate. With folk music, I can do my teaching and preaching, my propagandizing."

While she hoped to sing at Obama's inauguration, she had not been officially invited, Yeager said. Her last big concert was on Oct. 4 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, where she performed in front of tens of thousands at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. She also performed Oct. 25-26 in Toronto.

In 1999, she was honored with a National Medal of the Arts. Then-President Bill Clinton said her career showed "us all that songs have the power to change the heart and change the world."

She was nominated for a 1963 Grammy awards for best folk recording for "Odetta Sings Folk Songs." Two more Grammy nominations came in recent years, for her 1999 "Blues Everywhere I Go" and her 2005 album "Gonna Let It Shine."

Among her notable early works were her 1956 album "Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues," which included such songs as "Muleskinner Blues" and "Jack O' Diamonds"; and her 1957 "At the Gate of Horn," which featured the popular spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

Her 1965 album "Odetta Sings Dylan" included such standards as "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Masters of War" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

In a 1978 Playboy interview, Dylan said, "the first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta." He said he found "just something vital and personal" when he heard an early album of hers in a record store as a teenager. "Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar," he said.

Belafonte also cited her as a key influence on his hugely successful recording career, and she was a guest singer on his 1960 album, "Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall."

She continued to record in recent years; her 2001 album "Looking for a Home (Thanks to Leadbelly)" paid tribute to the great blues singer to whom she was sometimes compared.

Born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Ala., in 1930, she moved with her family to Los Angeles at age 6. Her father had died when she was young and she took her stepfather's last name, Felious. Hearing her in glee club, a junior high teacher made sure she got music lessons, but Odetta became interested in folk music in her late teens and turned away from classical studies.

She got much of her early experience at the Turnabout Theatre in Los Angeles, where she sang and played occasional stage roles in the early 1950s.

"What power of characterization and projection of mood are hers, even though plainly clad and sitting or standing in half light!" a Los Angeles Times critic wrote in 1955.

Over the years, she picked up occasional acting roles. None other than famed Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper reported in 1961 that she "comes through beautifully" in the film "Sanctuary."

In The Washington Post interview, Odetta theorized that humans developed music and dance because of fear, "fear of God, fear that the sun would not come back, many things. I think it developed as a way of worship or to appease something. ... The world hasn't improved, and so there's always something to sing about."

Odetta is survived by a daughter, Michelle Esrick of New York City, and a son, Boots Jaffre, of Fort Collins, Colo. She was divorced about 40 years ago and never remarried, her manager said.

A memorial service was planned for next month, Yeager said.


Jimmy Carl Black

Jimmy Carl Black (born James Inkanish, Jr., February 1, 1938 – November 1, 2008) was a drummer and vocalist for The Mothers of Invention. [1]

Born in El Paso, Texas, he was of Cheyenne heritage. His trademark line was "Hi Boys and Girls, I'm Jimmy Carl Black, and I'm the Indian of the group." He has been credited on some Mothers albums as playing "drums, vocals, and poverty". [1]

He appeared in the movie 200 Motels and sings the song Lonesome Cowboy Burt.[1]

In the seventies he has toured with Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band and with Geronimo Black, the band he founded with Mothers' wind player Bunk Gardner. In the eighties Jimmy and Bunk and Don Preston performed under the name The Grandmothers along with a bunch of other ex-Zappa musicians, but the band disbanded soon. Then Jimmy moved to Austin, Tx where he met English singer Arthur Brown. The duo recorded an album of classic R&B songs (Black, Brown and Blue)and performed together. In 1993 Jimmy moved to Europe, where he reformed The Grandmothers with original members Don and Bunk and with dutch bass player Ener Bladezipper and italian guitar player Sandro Oliva.

He also worked as a guest vocalist with Muffin Men, a Frank Zappa tribute band based in Liverpool, England, and with Jon Larsen, on the surrealistic Strange News From Mars project, featuring several other Zappa alumni, such as Tommy Mars, Bruce Fowler, Arthur Barrow.[1]

At Steely Dan's 2001 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction Walter Becker asked the assembled if they remembered who the original Mothers of Invention drummer was. Becker has unsuccessfully lobbied the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Black's inclusion as a founding member of the Mothers of Invention.

An autobiographical audio production by Jimmy Carl Black was recorded in 2007, called The Jimmy Carl Black Story, produced by Jon Larsen.

Black was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2008, and died on November 1st. A benefit was held on 9 November 2008 at the Bridgehouse II in London and a second is scheduled for 7 December in Crown Valley, California.

Both were big influences. Both will be missed for very different reasons.
Where's my waitress?

First Frost

Winter is here.

27 degrees.

The area is covered in a light dusting of white.

The huge metal mobile machines puff smoke and rumble as their glass eyes are scrapped.

The silhouette wooden finger reach for the orange orb for warmth,

Giant monsters sleep under the concrete, their breath smoke rising through the vents at the end of each block.

Bundled and booted, shivering dark figures walk fast paced paws on leases.

Fingers grow numb with the wind chill past city workers digging for the third time a hole near the church.

Then black ice.

A test to riding skills in the city.

Relief and rejuvenation is a long warm shower.

Then back in the saddle.

Christmas office party (sans drinks) and birthday wish to an old friend up north.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tis the season for the holidays.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.

What makes these days so special other than they are recognized by organizations as a day off from work. Businesses close down for these days, but not as much as years ago. Some places stay open or even open early to get more sales.

So we call these "special" days as holidays. And for what?

Families travels to group together. To bring massive amounts of food and gather around the video tube. They laugh and share stories. They bond. This is what holidays are about.

But suppose you don't have a family?

How do you "celebrate" a holiday?

A single person cooking turkey for Thanksgiving? Wrapping presents for Christmas? Opening Champagne for New Years? All by themselves?

So are holidays only for families?

What will you do this "holiday season"?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now That's Funny

Stopped at ye ole hangout spot on the way home from a busy day of work to have a few laughs with a writer friend...and it was his treat!

The day had been prepared as a pre-flight/ commercial/ troubleshoot/ data/ fix/ download/ ftp/ tone/ create/ advise.... kind of a day. But it turned into more of a backward crawl. My favorite "interruptions" filled the day, even getting the soup cold.

So why not a stop for a brew or two and a few laughs.

The Rust man had already settled into a booth with menus, table setting, and an empty glass. But he had a smile, so I unpacked my travel gear and settled into the wooden booth. After picking up the knife I knocked on the floor and wiping the sweat from my brow I said, "Hi!"

Looking around impatiently he responded, "I can't find our waiter. I would have already had two beers by now, but I don't know where he's gone."

That started a conversation about bad restaurants and service. The first of the laughs. It moved to the video entertainment industry that wants your business but won't stock the films you request.

Finally a young lad with short hair and a fresh but confused face arrived. "Another...?" "And I'll have a Bass ale." As he turned to run back to the kitchen or bar or wherever he found a place to hide, "...and I think we are ready to order." I said opening the menu. Rusty gave me the first order. "Hamburger, medium rare, no cheese, lettuce, tomato, and fries." "We put mayonnaise on it, is that OK?" he said shyly. "Sure." "Steak and cheese and fries for me", the Rust man said. "You mean the steak sub?" even more shyly (if that was possible) the wait boy questioned. "Yes... sure, the steak and sub and ...." stammered on.

Then down to business. No business, just information swapping between sips of dark ales and laughter, catching glances of the cute ladies dressed in goth sitting at the bar who would glance back with a smile while the Rust man would catch glimpse of the TV hanging on the wall.

Stories of the Florida keys, crazy driving home, strange families, and a little work venting. The sandwiches were hot and fulfilling. And the suds kept being replenished, but the salad never arrived.

More laughs and eye contact with the girl behind the Rust man. Another smile. That's all it takes.

After many good tales the time had come to pack up and travel on. Ha! The people behind me got up and walked to the other half of the building. "I think we upset them with ferret stories." Rusty observed. Ha! Ha! "Let's follow them and set next to them over there." Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

This dude and I should not be left alone... together. Maybe a road trip to Lauderdale might be good for both of us.

Thanks for a couple of hours of laughs and good eats, drinks and times.

Next time it's my treat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What do you see?

The cool morning ride presented a crisp shock of fall in the air. At the first stop was a line of white clouds spreading feathers of light filled strains stretching upward into the crystal blue sky. A brillant morning light.

And the evening ride against the wind in the dark presented mounds of dry brown leaves losing traction to cracking natures marble acorns. All the while listening to the constant concert of dry rustling trees waving the way home.

What did you see?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


There are many names that cross your path.

Commonwealth, Woodlawn, Sauer, Antium, Malvern, Layfayette, Revelle, Hamilton.

Names you've known for years.

Thompson, Nansmond, Rosenealth, Tilden, Cleveland, Belmont, Sheppard, Colonial, Boulevard.

Some are speed bumps to life, some carry you to new adventures, some just cross your path and disappear in the distance.

Mulberry, Robinson, Davis, Stafford, Strawberry, Shields, Rowland, Meadow, Grandby, Allen, Vine, Lombardy.

Every day you pass over these names enshrined in blue and brown. While others may not recognize them or even notice, they are there every day.

Plum, Harvie, Brunswick, Harrison, Shafer, Laurel, Vine, Belvidere

Names who are forgotten from the local scene, but familiar in addresses.

Henry, Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Foushee,....

and at the end of the day, the reverse list appears before you to travel. Names that are with you every day.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The 12-String Guitar

The strings are placed in courses of two strings each that are usually played together. The two strings in each bass course are normally tuned an octave apart, while each pair of strings in the treble courses is tuned in unison. The tuning of the second string in the third course (G) varies: some players use a unison string which is less prone to breakage, others prefer the distinctive high-pitched, bell-like quality an octave string makes in this position. Some players, either in search of distinctive tone or for ease of playing, will remove some of the doubled strings. For example, removing the higher octave from the three bass courses simplifies playing running bass lines, but keeps the extra treble strings for the full strums.

The tension placed on the instrument by the strings is great, and because of this, 12 string guitars have a reputation for warping after a few years of use. Some twelve-string guitars have non-traditional structural supports to prevent or postpone such a fate, at the expense of appearance and tone. Until recently, twelve-string guitars were nearly universally tuned lower than the traditional EADGBE, to reduce the stresses on the instrument. Lead Belly may have used a low C-tuning{See Julius Lester/Pete Seeger The 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly, Oak Publications, New York, 1965, 6}}.

Some performers prefer the richness of an open tuning due to its near-orchestral sound. For a very complex plucked-string sound, the 12-string can be set to standard tuning (or possibly an octave lower), then the top one and low two string pairs can be tuned to whole-tone intervals. The usual gamut of guitar tunings are also available. Many performers who play the twelve-string guitar use an ordinary six-string guitar as their primary instrument, switching to the twelve-string guitar for certain songs that seem to call for a brighter sound.

Because it is substantially more difficult to pluck individual strings on the twelve-string guitar, and almost impossible to bend notes tunefully, the instrument is rarely used for lead musical parts. 12-string guitar is however primarily suited to a rhythm or accompaniment role and is often used in folk songs and some popular music. Some hard rock and progressive rock musicians use double-necked guitars, which have both six-string and twelve-string components, allowing the guitarist easy transition between different sounds.

The greater number of strings complicates playing, particularly for the plucking (or picking) hand. The gap between the dual-string courses is usually narrower than that between the single-string courses of a conventional six-string guitar, so more precision is required with pick or fingertip when not simply strumming chords. The pairing of thin, easily broken octave strings with larger, stiffer bass strings presents difficulties to the player also, and only a very skilled player can reliably pluck single strings from within a course at any speed (notably the very high octave G string, which is the highest-pitched string on the instrument). Nevertheless, with practice, the twelve-string guitar is not unduly difficult to play. It is, however, generally used in a fairly restricted role which emphasises its strengths: rich ringing, full-bodied chords, and fast, rippling single plucked notes on the twinned strings. Twelve-string guitars are made in both acoustic and electric form. However, it is the acoustic type that is most common.

The double ranks of strings of the 12-string guitar produce a shimmering chorus effect. To produce this effect individual sounds with roughly the same timbre and nearly (but never exactly) the same pitch converge and are perceived as one. When the effect is produced successfully, none of the constituent sounds is perceived as being out of tune. Rather, this amalgam of sounds has a rich, shimmering quality which would be absent if the sound came from a single source. The effect is more apparent when listening to sounds that sustain for longer periods of time, such as a long guitar chord.

I started the 12-string in 1966. Loved the huge sound and chorus. Unique instrument and adaptable to any type of music. Also very high sound, like a piano or harpsichord or dulcimer. Strange for an electric bass player noting the bottom.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The End of The Experience

Just read Mitch Mitchell died. The drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The powerful force in this trio of unlikely 60's musicians who changed the sound of music. The power that created heavy metal, grunge, and so on. The break-through sound of "controlled" feedback, wah-wah, and a black man not singing soul. Feather boas, bright colors, overpowering noise, with this thin sexy black man swirling and dipping and playing the heck out of an upside down Fender strat.

Saw Hendrix in '67 at the Richmond Mosque. No one knew who this guy was, he was just another band from England and it was rock and roll in Richmond, so we bought tickets.

Loved the front band, Soft Machine. Amazed by their single 15 minute song. Bass, drum, and keyboard played music intertwining, then a sudden stop. They just stood up and walked off the stage to complete silence. Another English trio of experimental music and sound.

Then this trio of two wild haired white guys and a kinda shy black dude quietly announcing themselves. The music began and the crowd was a gas. Amazed.

Imagine the conservative commonwealth of Virginia of the '60's watching a piece of music history taking place before their eyes. "You're a fag" someone in the crowd cried out. "Noel Redding on bass looked back and winked. All the while this amazing dude on guitar created sounds never heard before.

Now I play guitar, but I'd never heard or imagined anything like this. I watched his fingers and tried to figure out the chords. "Hey Joe"! I know that one, but it sure sounded different.

I looked over at my date and she was lost in this sexual atmosphere the experience created. I'd lost her to some guy from another Continent. She would have jumped on stage and had it with this guy if her conservative Virginia background and me had not held her back. I do think it changed her life or a least her opinion of what sexual excitement was. I lost her to this guy that night and forever more.

So good-bye to another one-in-a-life-time-experience.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans Day

Tomorrow.... is the day we give respect to men and women who volunteer to go anywhere in the world at the governments orders to kill other people.

So is God on our side?

and I wear the ID bracelet from Clifford Davis McIver. He is MIA from World War II. I was named after him but never knew him. I also wear his distinguish flying cross to discuss what he might have done to deserve this award of killing other people.

America. Where are you now?

...and the day after my birthday.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Fall Ride

9:00 A.M. Sun is up and a light rain falls. It's time to go to the store. Stand up and slip on the slippers. Cover up the puppy. Move the sheet rock door to the dressing room. Slid on the jeans and sweater and sweatshirt hoodie. Lace up the old soft shoes and find your eyes. Slap on the VCU hat and off you go. No coffee, no water, just go.

Turn the blue bike with the saddle bags out to the gate over the moist walkway, past the birch tree. Open the gate and walk up the graveled alley.

Climb on the 29" bike and pause. Look at the cloudy sky. Turn right and off you go. Adjust the mirror and coast to the stop light. The misty rain still falls but it is clearing.

Coast down the hill pass the Westmoreland Lake and shift into 6th gear. Peddle up to the stop light at Monument. Pause for the runners iPods in hand.

Up pass the witches house and turn left to the newly paved streets. Pass the house sold on auction from the long haired strange sick person who lived there. Pass the VT gate that held the barking dogs. Pass the house that was sold at auction and is now for rent. Pass the house that half burnt down but is still there. Pass the cannon in the yard.

Mail the bills in the post box. Still use checks as a security issue. Up pass the traffic school for bad drivers just letting out. Turn right then left pass the gym just letting out. Blond girl talking on the phone has no idea I am there and keeps walking while talking on her cell. No tits, so she better keep working on that booty.

Drift down the hill and drift left to the back of the store.

Lock up the bike with the vinyl covered black lock. Take a breath. Attack the grocery store.

Avoid the old carts and the passengers who are lost in the maze of corn and shampoo. On to the animal isle. Pick up the 14 pound litter container and move as fast as possible to the 20 or less items isle. $5.24 the check out person says. I swipe the card and he slaps a sticker on the container and hands me a printout from the register.

Load up the bike, unlock, and wait for the traffic to go by. A guy in a Harley head rag smiles and give me a signal to go on. "I'm going this way" I say, as I turn the bike to the opposite direction. "It's OK" he says, "I watched how you waited for the other people to go by." "Patience" I said. "Yea, I ride a bike... a motorcycle to work every day and I understand." he said.

As I climbed on the bike he said, "And you look just like Jerry." I gave him the peace sign. "No more flashbacks for me" he said. "Stay cool" I said smiling and riding out.

The clouds lifted on my third trip and the day became warm by my forth trip.

Then on to football, 60 birthday cards? , a cake, and Beatles covers. Not yet!

And so it goes for another Saturday.

The best part? Stand out in the yard. Listen to the breeze. Listen to the tree monkeys jumping and running. Listen to the dogs barking in the distance.

Then go inside and put on the headphones and listen to music. Maybe make a couple of CDs.

And so it goes in another life.

Budget Cuts

With the down economy, the city budget cuts of millions of dollars are taking notice.

The first notice to it's citizens is a reduction in leaf removal. The trucks and rakes and brooms won't come out except once in December to remove leaves from the streets.

So the city residents are requested to bag the leaves themselves or preferred to compost.

While this cut might save time and money, it affects me in another way.

Leaves clutter the street. They blow into piles. The bright yellow and reds turn brown. Then it rains. And the leaves that so brightened the fall, turn to mush in the winter darkness.

Riding a bicycle is an act of balance and momentum. Part of the balance is getting traction on a wet pavement covered in mush leaves. And braking!! Slide.

So this new budget cut, while saving money, may be life threatening. Time to put my headlight on my helmet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Riding In The Dark

After the fall back of time, the trip home now is dark. 

Night has fallen. 
You ride the roads you ride every day, but it is night. 
Street lights covered by the fall leaves. 
Shadows dodging back and forth. 
Is it a dip or a bump or a shadow? 
The strobe lights flicker the reflection of the soft wet yellow fall leaves. 
Then the mobile machines lights blind  the darkness. 
Again riding blind.... in the dark or in blinding light.