Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wild

Flying back across the middle-western lands last night I finished both Leaving Atocha Station and Roseanne Cash's Composed. Then looked out the window as the light pockets of cities grew denser and we descended..

I've cooled a bit on Ben Lerner, though the end of Atocha still resonated.. There's something both compelling and off-putting about his micro-observations and interior narration. On one hand it's incredibly acute and picks up on pieces of experience that are so rarely articulated, but at times it gets claustrophobic and limited and self-referential / self-aware to the point of stagnation.

Similar thoughts on Composed. It's fragmented and despite touching on incredibly powerful experiences (her brain surgery, her relationship with her parents), skims the surface. Everyone she mentions is a "good friend" or "great influence" or "love of her life" - and the slices she presents never really go that deep. Lots of discussion of who the various session musician were on each record. She's clearly in awe of her father - but you don't learn anything about him, really. And the language was stilted and oddly distant.

Back in the office today, leaning towards seeing Wild tonight at E Street after work.. Perhaps I should also read the book. I read "Into the Wild" last spring and there seems to be some sort of thread..

Now onto Crossing to Safety..

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Twist & Shout

There's snow in the mountains and on the ground here in Denver. Cookies and candy and chipped teeth in the land of cookie cutter suburbs. But there are dogs and kids playing together and nothing of any importance to do..

Last night I went into the city and visited Twist & Shout and Tattered Cover again. Great records at good prices. I picked up physical copies of St. Vincent and D'Angelo's Black Messiah. Some Eric Anderson records. And the biggest coup of all - a copy of the 6 CD Anthology of American Folk Music - without book or box. Since I bought the set in late-97, I've lost most of the original discs.. and it's great to have them all back.

And then, in a truly surreal moment, at a Buffalo Exchange on South Broadway, picking up a handbag labeled "Grillot / 10 rue Cambon / Paris" (and a nice pair of Clarks). Some googling now has me intrigued.. Who were these Grillot's? Based on this, it seems they were active in the 50'-60's.

Today a solo escape to the Denver Art Museum (they seem to have some old favorites from DC on view). But for now, watching some videos from last week at Mavericks.

Monday, December 22, 2014

As if Seurat painted the Rio Grande..

I know I'm late to the party, but the new (to me) St. Vincent album is knocking me out. 

It's all I've been listening to the past few days.

There's an intensity, a richness, a depth that is just what I need on these grey late-December days. Flying to the mountains and the land of ticky-tacky on Thursday. Listening to "Little Boxes" just now (to find that link) I realized just how similar that sentiment is to Courtney's Rock Star ("I went to school / in Olympia / and everyone's the same").

Enough mid-morning rambles. Now back to work.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Les lettres

So I learned the other day that letters sent to Main Justice are x-rayed and irradiated and only slowly, slowly, make their way to our building... 

When I first moved to NYC in January of 2005, I started listening to WFUV, of course, but also WFMU where I ran across Laura Cantrell's Radio Thrift Shop (now, sadly, long defunct).  She was warm and charming and played just the music I wanted and needed...  Kitty Wells, Bob Wills, Ray Charles, and Neko Case all in one big wonderful mix.  Streaming her show at that large art table turned into a desk in the Vidipax video processing room.  Huge plate-glass windows looking down on W. 31st street and the WNET building. 

I later learned that she made her own albums and played around town a bit (I remember one night in the back of Barb├Ęs particularly well).  And it was from her that I first heard this Lucinda Williams song that Lucinda hadn't recorded (or at least hadn't released):



It captures that feeling nicely - of anticipation. Of tangible connection.

And, in heavy rotation lately, Time out of Mind, World Gone Wrong, and John Fahey.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline...

So I've limited this blog to two things: (i) music and (ii) books. Which makes sense. A diary is uninteresting except to the diarist (though I've tried it before).

But there are a lot of things that fall in between the cracks of those two things. Scrambling the billy goat trail on cold December Sunday afternoons with a five-year old setting the pace. The first night of French class in a balmy church office on Thomas circle, following the discussion and holding my own in conversation. The rituals of work and bike rides and records.   Endings, beginnings, circles.  Memories.

A few random music notes / links to justify this post:
  • Aquarium Drunkard has two great, monthly themed, playlists up now:  November & December.
As I said before, the reason for the new versions is that I've changed. You meet new people in your life, you're involved on different levels with people. Love is a force, so when a force comes in your life – and there's love surrounding you – you can do anything.
  • Ariel Pink and Ryan Bingham and Parquet Courts and Lydia Loveless and so much more coming soon..  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Falling Down Blues




Riley Puckett (center).  Mid-20's.  Georgia.

A wonderful trip to Joe Bussard's today.  Met NP and JP at the Glenmont metro around 9a, breakfast at the Sunshine General Store then on to Joe's up misty Georgia Avenue towards Frederick in the light rain.  Relaxed, easy conversation - music, life, good times..

It's been a few years since I last saw Joe.  Small changes.  He's definitely getting older..  no talk of politics.  Fewer rambling stories..  We started with some new stuff he'd just picked up.  A Jabbo Smith record led to more hot jazz.  Then JP wanted to hear some bluegrass which led to a lot of great Stanley Brothers..

I asked for Henry Thomas and he obliged with Old Country Stomp / Bull Doze blues (Vocalion 1230).  Then, without asking, he slipped into Furry Lewis.  I took off my glasses as he played Falling Down Blues.  Eyes closed, the room transformed and it felt like Furry was in the corner.  Playing.  Alive.  Out of time.   Then more blues.  Jim Jackson singing about his old dog blue (and almost choking up).

Towards the end he pulled out the old Martin to show off his fingerpicking slide work with a screwdriver before we ducked back into the rain.

I'm ready to go back...  soon.   



This blog's namesake label..

The records.  And that speaker - which is the source of most of the magic.

The one and only Charlie Poole.  That look.
video

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweet Tejas Music

So I picked up the new Oxford American Music issue yesterday, featuring the one and only Texas.  An incredible set - stretching from Buddy Holly to Ornette Coleman to Ray Price and Bob Wills. 

And then learned this morning that the one and only Ian McLagen died in Austin last night.  Though British he was a big part of Austin's musical soul..

 More thoughts on the OA disc as I dive deeper.  And read.  There's a promising article by Amanda Petruisch (of "Don't Sell at Any Price" fame) on DJ Screw.  Who should be on the CD.  Along with Blind Willie Johnson and Lefty Frizzell and so many others they no doubt had trouble licensing..

A trip to Joe Bussard's is in the works for Saturday...  I can't wait. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bob Dylan (DAR Constitution Hall - 11/25/2014)

It was my first time at Constitution Hall, and it's an impressive venue.  Not as beautiful as the ornately re-done Lincoln Theater, or the Warner, but stately in its way.  Good seats, chill crowd. 

I remember the sense of restless, rapturous anticipation I used to feel before Bob shows.  This sense of infinite possibility.  The thrill of seeing him, present and alive.   Maybe it's age, maybe it's perspective, maybe things have changed but that electricity wasn't there this time, at least not in the same way.

The lights went down, the stage was set with some gorgeous 30's-era movie-set lights.  And suddenly I felt it all again.  He was there.  The setlist, though static now, flowed like two separate - new -albums split by an intermission but thematically linked.  And there was this gorgeous sense of loss, yet hope, bubbling underneath.
 
And the fact that he sings the same songs every night gives them a tautness, a power, that the more ramshackle one-off arrangements lacked on previous tours.  He was performing these songs.  Like a play.  Like a story-teller.  And present in a way he wasn't in Delaware last year or at the Verizon Center in 2012..

The standouts were the remarkable ballads - Simple Twist of Fate (Maybe she’ll pick him out again, how long must he wait), Forgetful Heart, and of course Love Sick.  The intensity of High Water (for Charley Patton) (Things are breakin' up out there).  And the hymn at the end, Sinatra's "Stay With Me."  There's something fitting (from a long-standing country tradition) of ending on a hymn.
Lots of stuff from Together Through Life and Modern Times, which made me dust off those albums.  I wish there'd been more from "Love and Theft" - like, say, Floater (Too Much to Ask), but that's just wishing.

More soon, including thoughts on Serial.








Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

Dylan tonight at Constitution Hall.  By this count, it's show # 31 - though I'm pretty sure I've left a few off from the late 90's / early 2000's.  It was a fun list to put together - times and lives strung together.   

A review, of course, to come.  And more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Last Kind Words

So I just heard about the new Rhiannon Giddens album - Tomorrow is My Turn.  And lo and behold, the opening track is her arrangement of that timeless Geeshie Wiley song.  From the press kit:
Giddens charts a clear path through Tomorrow Is My Turn: “We start off with the unknown and end up with the specific.” Opening track “Last Kind Words” dates back to a rare 1930 78 “race record” and a largely unknown singer named Geeshie Wiley. To Giddens, “The timbre of the singer’s voice, the uniqueness of the chord structure…it reminds me of my grandmother and that era.”
She's outstanding in the Chocolate Drops.  And I can't wait to see how the album turns out.. 


Also, Zola Jesus at the Black Cat on 1/29. 




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lucinda Williams (Lincoln Theater, 11/12/14)




And yes.  That's exactly it.  I hadn't been back to the Lincoln Theater since the renovation (the last time was that magical 2002 Beck show)..   The energy at the show built - and by the end, she had the crowd begging for more.  Dancing in the aisles.  Rockin' in the free world.. 

She told short stories before a few of the songs.  Hit us with a one-two punch of Pineola and Drunken Angel.  Rocked West Memphis.  The band was tight and each song seemed to build on the one before.  This wasn't the firebrand I saw in Detroit in '99, or the laid-back homecoming show at Stubbs in 2006.  She was living inside these songs in a deep way - but still had the energy and vitality to push them across.. 

We'll see how Bob does on that front next week. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

10:04 (Ben Lerner)

What to say about this book?  I read it in a series of sustained late-night bursts.  And there's something about the flowing, almost stream-of-consciousness prose that fit.  Like Blonde on Blonde after midnight.  Thin, wild, mercurial.

Most of all it was wonderfully, tightly, observed.  Not much happens (though plenty of things occur) - but it's the narrator's perception - and how close he gets to the unspoken (but thought) - that matters.  Simple scenes - the opening, with him walking along the High Line with his editor.  Visiting Marclay's "The Clock."  Working the Park Slope Food Co-Op (his line about the surly cashiers brought me straight back to Brooklyn) - and falling into a deep conversation with a co-worker.   A residency in Marfa, that surreal Brooklyn-cum-West Texas. 

And he threads that thin line between fiction and poetry and life.   Like Bolano, who started as a poet, there's a remarkable precision of language. I liked living in his world.  Seeing with his eyes.  And so, now onto Leaving Atchoa Station..  and then, perhaps, back to Stegner and Crossing to Safety

Thursday, November 13, 2014

[TK]

It's been a while.  But several new posts are coming soon:
- Thoughts on Ben Lerner's 10:04 - easily one of the best books I've read in a while.  And Do Not Sell at Any Price - which had its insights.  And was well worth reading.

- Notes on the Lucinda Williams show last night.  And records (and books) picked up at Molly's in Philly last weekend.

- And some fiction in process. 

Dylan in 12 days.  Sloan on Friday night (RnR Hotel).  It's nice to finally be able to breathe..  a bit.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cass McCombs / Meat Puppets (Black Cat, 11/3) - Review

Chilly early-November night.  14th Street quiet in a Sunday-night kind of way.  Tall boys of PBR, reading Amanda Petrusich's Do Not Sell at Any Price at the bar, waiting for the show to begin..   A fantastic telling of a story that resonates:  falling, hard, for old music in a new age.  And peeling back the layers upon layers.  Feeling slightly jealous..  like it's the book I've wanted to write, but haven't.  Or at least there are pieces of me in it.  Which is what it is.. 

But then, the lights dim and I moved to the front of the room.  I honestly didn't know much about the Meat Puppets beyond the fact they wrote Lake of Fire which Kurt covered oh so well on that MTV Unplugged album I've played regularly for the last 20 years.  And that I always thought fit quite neatly with Clarence Ashley's Cuckoo - something about that fourth day of July line..

But they came out hard and loud.  Louder than I'd imagined.  But the guitar work was incredible..  and then came Plateau.  And Oh Me.  And I realized their sound was deeper and wilder and sweeter than I'd imagined.  They threw in a cover of Freddy Fender's "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" - a Texas classic.  Then Willie & Ray's "Seven Spanish Angels."  And I felt like I was back in Austin - this mix of intensity and psychedelia and soulful Tex-Mex waltz.  All breathing next to each other. 

They ended on a sincere cover of Sloop John B. and all seemed right with the world..  

And then, the much hyped Cass Mccombs came out.  Looking a bit like Conor Oberst.  With a band (with pedal steel!) - and dense, rich lyrics that got lost in the sound.  It was good stuff - but lacking a core of excitement, of interest, of electricity.  My mind wandered.  It was late..  and I rolled out mid-set.  Maybe if I knew the words..  maybe next time.  Maybe.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Angles

There most be some other possibility than death or lifelong penance, said the Ellen Ward of my dream, that woman I hate and fear.  I am sure she meant some meeting, some intersection of lines; and some cowardly, hopeful geometer in my brain tells me it is the angle at which two lines prop each other up, the leaning-together from the vertical which produces the false arch.  For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life.  Only the very lucky discover the keystone.  
 So I finally finished Angle of Repose the other night..  devouring the last 100 pages in a single, delicious, sitting.  As this review said:

There are some books you finish in a kind of hush, as if holding your breath to avoid disturbing the beauty of each successive moment. They carry you with them as they penetrate to the core of life and leave you overcome, not by their perfection (because novels, like people, are never perfect), but with the sense that you’re in the presence of greatness. There are very, very few novels that can deliver this sensation. “Angle of Repose” is one of them.
And that's exactly right.  I've read it in sustained bursts, over a fairly long period of time, but it's soaked into my thinking.  I can picture Lyman.  Susan.  Oliver.  Care about them.  I was quite taken by Lyman - how his character changes over time.  The dive into his life and relationships at the end.  That dream sequence..  And by the quiet desperation, over decades, for Susan and Oliver.

The use of the letters was brilliant.  This book was described to me as an illustration of how to do a family history "right." And man, is it ever. The texture, the depth, the interplay between past and present. I need to come back to Stegner..  there are worlds here.

Now on to Ben Lerner's 10:04...  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Part VII: The Canyon

Savoring the end of Angle of Repose today in Dumbarton Oaks Park (which, oddly enough, I'd never really explored before..) I came across this passage:
Then a volume in limp leather, tooled and stamped in gold: Tennyson's Idyls of the King, bound for her by Frank Sargent as a gift on her thirty-eighth birthday.  She let it fall open, and of course what did it open to?  "The old order changes, yielding place to the new." 
...she glanced out the window, down across the hill and the river with its parabola of a bridge, and by one of those coincidences that happen all the time in Victorian novels, but that nevertheless sometimes happen in life too, there was Frank Sargent unsaddling his sorrel horse Dan at the corral gate.
It was as if she had thought him into existence again, as if her mind were a flask into which had been poured a measure of longing, a measure of discontent, a measure of fatigue, a dash of bitterness, and pouf,  there he stood.  Gladness and guilt hit her like waves meeting at an angle on a beach.
That last paragraph.  That angle.  It's not quite the angle of repose, but..   Stegner's writing, when you pay close attention to it, is subtle and surprising and oh-so-rich.

The (view from the) reading spot:




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Museum Wandering

Back from California, I spent the last few afternoons gallery wandering.  The newly re-hung Hirschorn permanent collection.  The National Gallery.  The Phillips.  Punctuated by bike rides and coffee shops and notebooks..  Not a bad way to spend a few days off in a contemplative way..

Random thoughts on what I saw:
  •  The Wyeth show at the National Gallery seemed quite popular.  And there was a moment in late high school when I was quite taken by his work.  Now it leaves me a bit cold (though I admire his sometimes jarring sense of composition and perspective and subtle use of color).  The biggest revelation was the inclusion of sketches and studies for some of the finished pieces (including the NGA's own Wind from the Sea).  And his watercolors.. 
  • I'm warming to the post-impressionism galleries at the NGA.   There's a set of Modigliani's that I just love..  and discovered some fun, small Klee's that I really liked.  And then, of course, there's Cezanne.  Trying, in my mind, to rescue the whole genre from college dorm rooms (like Marley and Hendrix) and hipster snobbery.
  • My favorite paintings in the entire NGA - the two Duccio's - are down due to a renovation project.  The Giotto is still in that room though..   And elsewhere, the Van Eyck Annunciation.  And..  
  • The re-hung Hirschorn is a lot of fun.  A lot of stuff I hadn't seen placed prominently.  A great Rauschenberg combine.  Some excellent attention to stuff like land art.  A lot of favorites missing (Ana Mendiata, Bacon's pope paintings, Morandi) - but it's well worth repeat visits.  And brilliantly organized non-chronologically. 
  • And oh, the Phillips.  So full of itself.  So full of good stuff.  A neo-impressionism show that gave me much more of the genre than I needed.  Some incredible photography.  And a lot of solid Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley..
Now off to enjoy this gorgeous weather... 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breaking like the waves at Malibu..

Back in DC.  The humidity, the heat, is quite unexpected.  Off for the rest of the week - sitting in a coffee shop listening to Jack Johnson and other such fare.  Writing.  Reading.  Marking papers.

And thinking about Malibu..



Monday, October 13, 2014

Warm California Sun

Ah.  The end of a vacation.  Sitting in my hotel room in Santa Monica, J asleep.  Lights twinkling below, the pier in the distance and beyond, Point Dume.  I spent the afternoon on Zuma Beach, body surfing four-foot swells into shore while J danced in the surf and dug holes and laughed when I walked up with kelp in my hair.  The smell of the air off the sea.  Salt on my lips and in my hair.  The tall, tall palms. 

I could get used to this place.  And vacation. 


This morning, the Getty Villa.  I didn't pay much attention to the art (though there was a rather stunning Venus..  and some great mosaics), and instead followed J as she explored the architecture.  The gardens.  The paths. 

Not quite ready to go back to DC. 

Other musical highlights of the trip?
  • Seeing David Rawlings at the soundcheck for Dawes at Pappy & Harriets, in the pristine high desert above Joshua Tree.  Watching J's face as the full band kicked in and hearing her say that it sounded "just like heaven."  
  • Neko Case's voice cutting through the Mojave as we pulled out of Kingman and headed south and west, along abandoned Route 66.
  • Today Was a Good Day coming on the radio as we pulled off of I-10 and caught our first glimpse of the beach.. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Going to California

Leaving tomorrow on that big jet plane.  Escaping to the desert.  The wide open spaces.  The mountains.  That big canyon.  Stars and Joshua Trees.  Then the Pacific.  Getty Villa.  Malibu beaches.  Ameoba Records.  Letting it all roll over me.

In random music notes...

Bill Murray singing and smoking his way through "Shelter From the Storm" is charming:


I got a Johnny Rivers record yesterday at the Wheaton Friends of the Library..  and Roy Orbison (his cover of "What'd I Say" is worth the $1 alone).

And a going-west playlist is forming here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hear that Train a-Comin'


So I finally saw the American Masters doc on Hendrix...  and have to say, I could listen to this all day.  So much I didn't know about him.  So much to discover.

I was talking to JS about this, and there are some artists that need to be rescued from the College Dorm Room haze (Hendrix, Bob Marley..) and others that need to stay there (Dave Matthews...). 

Salut Tom (Mitchell, 1979)

So I took J to the Corcoran on Sunday morning to see the collection (for free!) before it gets swallowed by the NGA.  Lots of good stuff - plenty of 19th Century American - Niagara Falls, the West, that Biersdadt:


But what really grabbed my attention was a massive late (France-era) Joan Mitchell - Salut Tom:


Which just _breathes_.  And, of course, is infinitely better in person.  That and the Bontecou would be well worth seeing again. 

J counted 10 horse paintings, which, of course, she duly recorded in her notebook.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mountains and the Sea (Frankenthaler, 1952)

I've been thinking of my trip lately..  And mountains.  And the sea.  And this Frankenthaler.  That room in the basement of the NGA, with Lavender Mist on one side and this on the other:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby, I don't care...


I've been meaning to re-watch Out of the Past..  something about the way the people move.  The way Mitchum talks.  Jane Greer.  The way the story unfolds.  Those final scenes in the mountains.  Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum squaring off.  That house on Lake Tahoe.  Mitchum caught in the nets on the beach in Mexico:



Also, I just realized the Corcoran is now free..  I should get over there.  Soon.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kendrick Lamar - i

At long last, something new from the one and only Kendrick Lamar.  And it sounds great.

Where the Spirit Meets the Bone..



First listen here.

First thoughts (of mine), to come.

This crispness in the air is deliciously invigorating.

Lucinda Memories:

  • St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, May 1999.  Driving up from Toledo on impulse and walking into a tiny room where she blew me away.  I remember her guitar player..  sinister, bluesy, menacing.  Fresh off Car Wheels and in fine form.  Encores.  I asked for water, you gave me gasoline
  • Stubbs, Austin, March 2006.  A bigger room, outdoors.  Lots of friends and family in the audience and Austin stories.  But not nearly as intense.  
I went backwards and fell in love with Lucinda Williams and Happy Woman Blues and  Ramblin.  And paid vague attention to her later albums.  Get Right With God.  Essence.  West.  But my interest has been fading..  I'm curious how this new album works (or doesn't).

In book notes:
  • In Angle of Repose there's now a move from California (New Almaden, near Santa Cruz) to the Dakotas.  She's headed east while he gets set up again.  Have I mentioned I need some time to just.. read. 
  • I also finished In Search of the Blues - which was interesting, but not as helpful as I'd have liked for my purposes.  I do have some names and leads to run down.  
  • And I picked up Eat, Pray, Love on the theory it could work as a model for a memoir based on my Arizona-California trip (which, over lunch at Le Pain Q the other day, fellow prof JC suggested I write..)  so far it's..  interesting.  Also Hiking Los Angeles..

Monday, September 22, 2014

Great Music Moments / Wanda Jackson

The great Michael Corcoran puts together a fantastic list of the best Austin shows...  ever.   Oh to have been at any one of them (though he leaves off Johnny Cash at Emo's in '94 and plenty of others). I found that picture of the Dylan press conference in the Statesman negative collection at the AHC back in my Photo Curator days (another image from the same session is here).  And used to live in what was left of the Villa Capri (that mid-century hotel turned into ramshackle apartments just off South Congress).  And there are times I miss that job..  and that city.  I love the energy of the east coast - and my old criteria for a place to live (a major league baseball team and a good art museum) still stand... but.

Meanwhile, here, in the present.   My dad in town this weekend meant lots of Gordon Lightfoot and Pete Seeger and Johnny Horton and the Beatles and the Weavers.  H Street festival adventures.  On stage somewhere along H, J watching a band with a female lead-singer said to me, quite sincerely (with a hint of disappointment) - "That's not Wanda Jackson."  She loves this song, which she first heard on that drive to Cinci, and still insists on playing over and over:


Maybe I should take her to see ol' Wanda at the Hamilton on Nov. 15..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wait, I have a tumblr?

Wondering whether I had set up a lonesomeace tumblr, it appears as though I had..

Funny how time slips away. 

Sometimes, the Silence Can Be Like Thunder

Sometimes, I want to take to the road and plunder..  

Flashback Time:


Someone posted an amazing video of Love Sick  from Atlantic City in February 1999:



For some reason I got excited and thought I was at that show, but alas, was still in Ohio then.  I did go to the November 2000 shows (early & late) in AC though..  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Random Notes (II)

So there was a post called Random Notes that mysteriously disappeared.  I must have inadvertently deleted it when trying to clean up some recent draft posts.

But, in the spirit of that post, here are a few things of potential (future) interest:

  • A June 2000 profile of Lucinda Williams in the New Yorker.  Not long after I saw her at the lovely St. Andrews Hall in Detroit in May 1999.  Still one of the best concerts, in one of the best venues, I've ever seen.
  • The new Leonard Cohen album.  Only played twice so far, but that first track is gripping..  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ryan Adams - 9:30 Club - 9/8/2014

A cool Monday evening.  A pre-show drink then a line that wrapped around the club and down 8th Street.  The usual DC-hipster-mix, relaxed.  Happy.  Easy.

Found a spot upstairs on the balcony with a great view.  And despite no announced opener, some guys came out and ran through some ramshackle fairly standard blues-rock.  Then a long wait..

Finally, about 9:30 or so Ryan slides out.  Hair in his face.  Jeans.  Batman t-shirt.  And a lot of energy.  He was _there_.  Launched into Gimme Something Good - easily my favorite from the new album.  And it sounded so much better live.  Lots of stuff from the new album - but some classic Cardinals stuff too.  

A Kiss Before I Go:  One shot, one beer, one kiss.. 



And Easy Plateau and the incomparable Let it Ride.  But no Heartbreaker.  No Gold.


He was relaxed, present, enjoying himself.  Telling jokes and crazy stories.  Sober and happy and comfortable..   enjoyable.  But nothing extraordinary.  Here's the Post's take.  Comfort zone indeed..  but I found myself wanting to see him slip outside that zone and push the limits a bit further.. 

Flashback Section

So, thinking back - this was the third time I'd seen him at the 9:30.  The first was back in October 2001, just after Gold.  Just after 9/11.  An incredible setlist, amazing energy.  Pure sweet visceral rock and roll..

Then the two-night stand in October 2002 (what a month for concerts that was -> Neko @ Black Cat; 2 Ryan Adams shows; Guided by Voices, Wilco, Dave Eggers + They Might Be Giants).  My old notes from the first night:

Ryan came out around 10:15. Hair uncombed, flannel. cigarette burning as it would all night. Sits down at the center of stage and plays "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and you could hear a pin drop. it's the song that Gram always wished he'd written (and tried to write in Hickory Wind). it takes your breath away. From there to a plugged in resonator guitar for "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)". And we're off. He played most of heartbreaker. did "Brown Sugar" on piano in the same slow lumbering arrangement he did with Beth Orton. Played guitar along with Madonna records on a turntable in the middle of the stage (Like a Virgin no less). He was the most relaxed, most engaging, most intimate performer i'd seen in some time. 

And then the second night:


Around 11:30 Ryan sulked on stage, and started, once again into "Oh My Sweet Carolina". The energy of the crowd was type-A. Up front. Full of friday night swagger and beer and sex. you could tell right away that the mellow intimacy, the casual give and take between aud. and performer (despite some amusingly obnoxious crowd members on thursday night) would be harder to come by tonight. So he barely looks up. Then, as the night before over to the plugged in resonator for "To Be Young" - to the piano. back to guitar. back to piano. 30 minutes in he finally talks to us. responding to a drunk calling over and over for a (as far as I can tell) non-existent song, a sarcastic, half-sigh - "Wow." Then some cursory praise for Tegan and Sara. And the sulk was in full effect. He flew through the set. Hit all the structural notes of the set (playing along to "Like a Virgin") but without the sense of fun... no half-baked stab at the Stroke's "Last Night." No rambling attempt to play "The Bar is a Beautiful Place" despite having forgotten the chords to the bridge.. He didn't put on a Misfits record and rave about how he just had to play that here (on the very site of many Misfits shows..). He did stop everything and play, on request, "Damn, Sam (I love a woman that rains)" because "No one ever asks me for that one". The show was a good 45 minutes shorter and much less interesting. You got the sense you were watching an above-averagely talented brat. 

Monday's show had none of the peaks of  that first show (but also none of the valleys of the second).  It was just good.  And that's not a bad thing..  at all. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A song through time..

So there's this old Emmett Miller song (but it's even older than him):


That Hank Williams lifted (and recorded in Cincinnati no less), and launched a career with:


That Ryan Adams covered on a Hank Williams tribute album back in the 00's:


Then, of course, there's Lovesick.  Completely unrelated, yet on the same through-line.  The Grammy version (with Soy Bomb):


And speaking of Emmett Miller, he deserves his own post.  The sheer delight and surprise I felt one summer afternoon at Coney Island when I heard David Lee Roth's version of "I Ain't Got Nobody" - a song I knew only from Emmett.  Time collapsing and telescoping.   Love and Theft indeed.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Best of the Basement

At last.  A playlist.  In four categories (omitting most covers, and most greatest hits):


The Classics
  1. Crash on the Levee:  Sugar for sugar, salt for salt.
  2. I Shall Be Released:  I've seen my light come shining.
  3. This Wheel's On Fire:  King Lear.
  4. Goin' to Acapulco:  Rose Marie she likes to go to big places.. 
  5. Too Much of Nothing:  No one has control..  

The Playful

  1. Santa Fe:  My dear, dear, dear, Santa Fe...
  2. Tueplo:  A big flood.  Terrible.  
  3. I'm Your Teenage Prayer:  Take a look at me, babe..
  4. I Can't Come in With a Broken Heart:  Fuzzy funky bass line.
  5. I'm a Fool For You:  Could have been a Motown hit.
  6. All American Boy:  So you wanna be a rock and roll star?
  7. See ya later, Allen Ginsburg:  How high?
  8. Lo and Behold:  What's it to you, Moby Dick? 
  9. Yea, Heavy and a Bottle of Bread:  Take me down to California, baby..

The Sacred

  1. People Get Ready:  All you need is faith..  
  2. Sign on the Cross:  The fire sermon.

I'm Not There (1956) + Bonus

  1. I'm  Not There (1956):   So many words.
  2. Bonus:  Grand Coulee Dam (Woody Guthrie Tribute, January 68).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DRA

I'm enjoying the new album stream a bit more, now that I have tickets.  But am still not sold.  It feels so smooth, solid, processed.  Why do I keep waiting for Heartbreaker (or Faithless Street)?

And, for fun:  a great 1997 article entitled "No Expectations" from the Austin Chronicle on Whiskeytown - capturing them in that magic moment on the cusp of something bigger..   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Up and Coming

Here's my (wish) list...  so far:

(Tickets purchased / attended in bold).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crown & Anchor Me


Rain now rolling in..  perhaps it's time to post this one.  Letting the storm pass before I ride my (new) bike home through rain-slicked streets.

Blue

Sophomore year of High School.  Dayton, Ohio.  Ludlow and Franklin Streets.  Study hall.  Wearing Chuck Taylor's and a P-coat.  There's a girl sitting behind me.  Probably a junior.  Maybe a senior.  Long, dark hair parted in the middle.  Probably Birkenstocks.  And a conversation that fell into music quickly.  She raved about Joni, particularly Blue (and Leonard Cohen, but that's another story).  I'd known Court and Spark  and Miles of Aisles from my dad's record collection, but was just starting to explore everything on my own. 

So I picked up a copy of Blue at a thrift shop on 5th Street and took it home and played it in my basement bedroom, cool linoleum floor beneath my feet, for days.  Weeks.   I was hooked.  Sold.  Sunk. Lost.  I had no idea someone else had felt these things. Like an old friend talking to you in the middle of the night..

There  were worlds within worlds here -  a promise of adventure, of red-haired rogues taking cameras to sell.  Of dancing on Grecian isles.  Parties down long dirt roads.  Reading the news in a park in Paris France.  She'd been to sea before..  and I wanted to sail with her.

I remember being particularly taken by Last Time I Saw Richard.  The details (Detroit in 68.  the waitress. with fishnet stockings and a bow-tie. 'drink up now, it's getting on time to close.').  Which might be an Eliot allusion ('hurry up please, it's time.'), but I doubt it .



She made love sound like a complicated, delicious, entangling thing.  I hate you some / I love you some / I love you, when I forget about me.  But she could drink a case of me and still be on her feet.  I wanted to be her.  To be loved by someone like her.  It showed me a glimpse what I thought the world might be like.  And how people moved in places that weren't suburban Kettering basements.

Heijira

"I wrote the album while traveling cross-country by myself and there is this restless feeling throughout it... the sweet loneliness of solitary travel."
I'd always admired Coyote.  From the Last Waltz, among other places.  The sheer propulsiveness of the rhythm.  It's a train going somewhere fast.  Ruthlessly.  Those lines that cut deep, full of pitch-perfect details - keyholes, numbered doors, eagles, appaloosas, tides.. 




But it wasn't until years later that the whole album swallowed me.  Whole.   It's like Didion's Play it as it Lays.  Or Atwood's Surfacing.  It's elemental.  Liminal.  A person caught in a space without definition.  Or boundaries.

A series of snapshots.  A visit to Memphis to see the one and only Furry Lewis.  But not talking about his music (and certainly not imitating it) - just talking about him as a person.  His life.  His crankiness.  A plane leaving contrails on the blue sky becomes Amelia - oh Amelia - love was just a false alarm.  

But the big moment, for me, was when I sat down and listened carefully to Song for Sharon.  The story she tells.  The contradictions and overwhelming, overlapping, sets of desires. It starts so simply - "I took the ferry to Staten Island, Sharon. / to buy myself a mandolin."  And then the winding narration of a story about choices made (or not made, or allowed to be made).  Lighting a candle for your love luck and 18 bucks going up in smoke. Facing the dream's malfunction. The apple of temptation.  The lure of walking green pastures, by and by. 


It's darker than Blue (hiding behind bottles in dark cafes notwithstanding).  Sadder.  Richer.  Lives lived.  Love lost.  Back to sea.  Crown & Anchor me.  Circles within circles.  And actually has a lot in common with Yeezus - but that's for another post.

You & Me & Rain on the Roof

So I wrote up a lengthy post the other night (quite late) on Joni Mitchell and the mysteries of Blue and Heijira - but it's a sweaty, sultry, summer morning now and the tone just doesn't feel quite right.  I'm feeling a bit more Eddie Cochrane -


Oh, and the thunderstorms this weekend had me playing the Loving Spoonful again..  one of the first records from my dad's collection that I really took as my own, this song has a special spot in my formative-music-moment memory:


The thrill of getting caught in the rain.  Laughing while it soaks the flowers..   maybe we'll be caught for hours.  Moments outside of time.  But oh god.  The stock images in the video.  Maybe just listen and not watch..  or is the whole thing really that syrupy?




Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm Your Teenage Prayer

Random notes:
  • Ryan tickets are down to $76 on Stubhub.  Tempting. 
  • Listening to Geeshie Wiley now (Skinny Legs Blues) as I cycle through playlists.  And thinking of this amazing story.  What did that cold Wisconsin studio feel like to her?  Look like?   
  •  Pitchfork has collected some surreal highlights from the Basement Tapes.  There are so many more, but Teenage Prayer is particularly silly:


That, for now, is all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lost Time is Not Found Again

Wow.  So it's officially coming out!  The full Basement Tapes in all their ragged glory..



I first heard the tapes on some cassette boots in the late 90's..  And those scattered tracks on Jesse's copy of Great White Wonder.  Then my own copy of GWW, from a record store in Ann Arbor (which I still have).  Then a dub of the Genuine Basement Tapes then later the remastered Tree With Roots on CD-R (now on grooveshark, of course).  I remember playing it for hours in that Toledo apartment - about the time I fell into the Anthology of American Folk Music. And things changed. 

There are some amazing moments.  The sheer, indescribable "I'm Not There (1956)" - a song that contains worlds.  The giddiness, the bawdiness, the openness..  I can't wait to dive back in.. Deep.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Ryan

So Ryan Adams is playing the 9:30 on Monday, Sept. 8th.  I found out too late.  Sold out.  And the cheapest tickets on StubHub are $101.  Blerg. 

But his bio / resume on the listing is priceless.  A sampling:

  • September 2000 (what is it with September?) - Heartbreaker released, solo debut on Bloodshot Records. Produced, like Gold would be, by Ethan Johns. Includes “My Winding Wheel,” “Oh My Sweet Carolina” (featuring Emmylou Harris), “Come Pick Me Up.” You know you could.
  •  September 2001 to February 2002 - Gold released, major label (Lost Highway) debut that goes on to sell nearly a million copies worldwide to date. Features “When Stars Go Blue,” quoted in Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story and likely known to your friends and family as "that Tim Graw song the kid did on American Idol” or “the song the Corrs did with Bono.” Also features unintentional post-9/11 anthem "New York, New York” as well as "The Rescue Blues," "Answering Bell” and at least one or two others you’d recognize from a movie or TV show.
  • November 2003 to May 2004 - Produced with John Porter and recorded in New York and New Orleans, Love Is Hell is originally released as two EPs in late 2003 due to Lost Highway’s concerns about the full album’s commercial viability. They apparently do not have the same reservations about Rock N Roll, released in full around the same time. Love Is Hell ultimately released as full album, “Political Scientist,” Please Do Not Let Me Go,” “This House Is Not For Sale" still kill it, so whatever.

Blue Country / Tomorrow Night

Blue Country (Joe Dassin)

There are some albums that just sneak up on me.  Lately I've been listening to this Joe Dassin record that I picked up in a thrift store in Vernon a few months ago. A lot.




It's a fairly standard late-70's country record - just in French (mostly - except, oddly, for a cover of Tony Joe White's Polk Salad Annie).  The musicians are great (Nashville vets mostly - Kenneth Buttrey et al).  The song selection is great.  The whole thing is warm and delicious and kind of cheesy.  But so fun to listen to..  particularly on grey, rainy, muggy late-summer mornings.  Here's the title track from the Johnny Cash show:


Tomorrow Night (Lonnie Johnson)

In Cinci last week I made it to Shake It records - and it was a summer weekday (as opposed to a post-Christmas weekend when I usually go), so I had the store to myself more or less.  Thumbing through the Blues records I found an interesting-looking double album of Lonnie Johnson stuff, with minimal liner notes or context, just a lot of music.  Cheap.  So I picked it up and it's been wrestling with Blue Country for turntable time.

He has a polish, a sophistication (particularly compared to Patton / Skip James / et. al.), but a depth of feeling and an amazing ability to put a song across.  There are echoes of Emmett Miller or Furry Lewis or Django or Gershwin here - the blurry lines between blues and jazz and pop.  It's just good.  So very good.

A taste:







Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mixed Up Shook Up [Boy]

Driving back today, 10 hours across misty Ohio farmland, through the wilds of West Virginia, the majesty of the Sideling Cut then the ever thickening arteries of traffic funneling into suburban Maryland, I worked my way through the same CD stack with a few variations.
  •  Morning Phase (Beck) - 2x - Perfect for 6a misty morning driving.
  • Wrecking Ball (Emmylou) - I still prefer Red Dirt Girl - but there's some great stuff here.  Every Grain of Sand and Deeper Well and Lucinda's Sweet Old World and Gillian's Orphan Girl and.. 
  • Bob Dylan: Artist's Choice  (Various) - Unlike Joni he didn't pick any of his own songs.  But a lot of great stuff on here.
  • What's on Your Mind (Eric B. & Rakim):  This belongs on a mix..  


Dylan's Artist Choice CD which I picked up at Starbucks (apparently in 2008) and hadn't listened to in years has some great stuff (of course) and Chronicles-esque liner notes which are fun to read.  Standouts:

Wanda Jackson - I Gotta Know:  Rockabilly meets country meets Elvis:


Pee Wee Crayton - Do Unto Others:  Revolution before the revolution.


Patty and the Emblems - Mixed Up Shook Up Girl:  2 minutes of bliss.  That feeling..






Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cincinnati Kid

Now in lovely Cincinnati for a few days..  I do love Ohio in the late summer.

Drive soundtrack:
  •  Dylan - Love and Theft - My first full listen in at least a year.  And it's amazing to me how well it holds up (and holds together).
  •  PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love / Dry - Because I'm on a PJ Harvey kick.  And I couldn't find Stories from the City.. this morning
  • Blueprint (Jay-Z) / Good Kid M.A.A.D City (Kendrick Lamar) / Watch the Throne (Jay / Kanye) - Made the miles fly by
  • Jack White - Lazaretto / White Stripes Icky Thump - Lazaretto is growing on me.  Particularly "Willing and Able."  Icky Thump hasn't aged as well as I'd hoped.  There's some filler. 
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me.  Ohio stories on Ohio roads.
And thinking about music in this city..  King Records, Shake It's Anthology of Cincinnati Blues, the Afghan Whigs..

Monday, August 11, 2014

Anil's Ghost

So yesterday, after finishing most of the second half of the book on the plane back from Paris, I read the last 40-ish pages on the sands of Rehoboth, profiter-ing de soleil.

There's a lot in the book to unpack, and I liked the way the story built and unfolded. It was less episodic and fractured than Divisadero, but a lot messier in other ways.  The elusive, elliptical, emotional prose was rich and powerful - but like reading in a bit of dream.  I like the way he feels his way through a narrative, and the way he has the characters navigate the inherent uncertainty and shades of grey between experience and reality.  Between thought and expression.  Between emotion and surface. It made me think of Bolano (in 2666) in terms of grappling with unspeakable horror - but Bolano does something quite different (more in line with his visceral realism) and less intuitive with it.  

Now on to Angle of Repose.  Supplemented by Handwriting and some short stories (Dubliners 100) and my New Yorker backlog. 

Paris, Texas

He's uh ... he would introduce Mama as the girl he met in Paris. Then he'd waited uh ... before he said "Texas" till everybody thought that ... he meant ...  he would wait before he said "Texas" till everybody though t ...  after everyone thought he was talking about Paris, France. He always laughed real hard about it.
 So Friday night, my last night in Paris for the foreseeable future (though the future always has strange curves), I took Line 1 to Gare de Lyon (perhaps my favorite Gare) then wandered up to the Marche d'Aligre and through the Marais to Pompidou.  A Lebanese snack, then south, across the Ile de la Cite, past Notre Dame to Shakespeare & Co.  Ondaatje poems in the bargain bin out front, endless new novels of interest inside.  Then up to the Reflet Medici to see Paris, Texas (they've been moving the print around between the revival theaters down there..  and I was tempted to see The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Champo instead, but..).

And oh, what a film.  It starts slow.  And the dialogue is subtle, but rich.  Sam Shepard at his best.  And the camerawork - the shots of the desert, then LA, then Houston.  And the story.  He leaves large holes and slowly fills them in around the edges, obliquely.  The scenes where Travis is showing Hunter photos from the family album.  The way each person in the room reacts to the super-8 from the past.  And then that ending.  The monologue.  And oh, the soundtrack - which is both simpler and richer than I'd imagined.  And yes, it's Dark Was the Night - but it's more than that.  And pulls everything together quite nicely. 

I walked back to Porte Maillot, late.  Misty.  Through Saint-Germaine, then the quai d'Orsay, to Alma.  Those final images rambling around my head as I listened to the river..

Friday, August 8, 2014

Zadie Smith - Big Week

So there's a new Zadie story in the Paris Review this summer, and available online (for now), here.

At first I wasn't sure what to make of it.  The dialogue seemed a bit stilted for Zadie (particularly the bartender), the main character wasn't terribly interesting - until quite quickly he was.  And then there's an abrupt POV switch at the end and a final monologue that is simply incredible, ending the whole thing somewhere deeper and richer than I thought possible at the beginning.

Breaking it down in my head, there's really only four scenes:  (1) the bar, (2) the drive from the airport, (3) the library, (4) the move-out.  And the information you need along the way, to hook them all together, is nicely doled out in bits and pieces.  He lays out his schedule (for the "big week") in scene 1 (setting up 2-4), gives out key information in scene 2, which puts scenes 3 and 4 in context.  But the twist at the end is the killer.  Each piece seems so simple, but is so hard to do in practice..  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

FNAC in the Afternoon

So I finally decided to head over to the FNAC on Avenue Ternes and check out their music selection..  And this is what I came away with (click for full picture).  For far less than I expected. 



 So much good stuff is out of copyright here and the re-issues are _cheap_.  

Elvis Presley Blues (Gillian Welch)

I've been listening to a fair amount of Gillian Welch lately.  And swear there used to be an amazing official video of her and David performing Elvis Presley Blues in B&W in a studio.  But maybe it was another song.  Or something else entirely.. 



Anyway, there's a sweet simplicity to the song.  But a complexity as well.  And it's fascinating how Elvis has become a myth.  Like John Henry.  Unknowable, but standing in for so many strands of being.  A defiance tied to midnight ramblers and holy rollers - shaking it with his soul at stake.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Uptown A to 207


Dusting off some old fiction.  This is from, oh, 2005-ish.  It could use some polishing and perhaps another ending. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Paris Playlist

Back in Paris.  Making a playlist for afternoon background music while type-type-typing.  Starting to feel a bit of jetlag (as Mike would say, feeling like someone shoved a croissant in my face at 3am), but happy.  Renewed my Velib membership and discovered Paris, Texas is playing at the Champo (which I've never seen, but Ry Cooder used perhaps the greatest song of all time for the soundtrack - Blind Willie Johnson's Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground).   

Just found out about this record store / coffee shop called Walrus by Gare du Nord which will warrant a visit (hopefully soon)... 

Now playing: Paris in August.

Beck - Merriweather Post - 7/24/2014

I picked up Trevor in Silver Spring, at the Exxon station at 410 and Colesville, and we hit the road north.  Easy traffic, easy parking, a welcome change from my Merriweather norm.  Ready to celebrate my new job offer.. 

Plenty early, we stayed on the lawn for Sean Lennon's Ghost of the Sabretooth Tiger.  An interesting mix of downtown feedback (Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead) and Sean's voice which uncannily sounds like his dad's - sometimes jarringly so.  He had a presence - hat, curls, suit - which was charming, but it was too early.  The sun was still up.  People were filtering in. And any energy built quickly dissipated.  His partner, Charlotte Kemp, was stunning though and her voice cut through the noise quite nicely.. 

Then down to the floor in front of the stage..  meeting up with J.S. and her friend, a pre-K teacher in NoVa.  Middle, front-ish.  The crowd swelling.  As the sun starts to go down Beck slides out and launches into Devil's Haircut.  He's electric and propulsive.  Present.  Alive.  And it's exhilarating.  From there the depth is astounding.  He swerves from K Records era material (One Foot in the Grave) to the pure funk-sex-magic of Midnight Vultures (Sexxlaws, Debra) to a slow set of Sea Change / Morning Phase songs.  New Pollution.  Loser.  Que Onda Guero.  Short Circuit jokes and an uncanny awareness of his audience and band.  James Brown imitations, flourishes, and smiles.  So close, so real, so exciting. 

In fine form.  But he's always been incredible live.  I first saw him in Detroit in 1998 as part of the 89x Christmas show (hosted by the then-not-famous Kid Rock, also starring Garbage and Everlast), then the Midnight Vultures tour in Ann Arbor (pure funk sweat deliciousness) in February 2000.  A Lincoln Theater show previewing Sea Change (which I remember mostly for a piano cover of Hank Williams' Long Gone Lonesome Blues and the Velvet's Sunday Morning and a stunning Guess I'm Doing Fine) in 2002.  And this show had pieces of all of those.. 

I walked out to the parking lot smiling.  Energized.  Rejuvenated.  Alive.  Ready to celebrate a transition. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fragments



I. 

Will's new neighborhood entranced him.  He woke up with new light streaming unexpected, pooled to his left.  The furniture placement unfamiliar.  As he rose, he bumped the end table, spun, hit play on the CD player and backed into the bathroom - doing a moonwalk as Frank Black and the Pixies filled the room.  Where is my mind, indeed.

He stood for a moment and remembered.  The prairie wilds of Adventist fundamentalism.  The haystacks - (lentils on fritos with cheese) and homemade applesauce and grape jelly and every thirteen weeks grape juice in little plastic cups with thick wheat-y wafters.  There was a mystery alright, but it was tied up in vague ideas of right and wrong and desire and lost pictures.

Will could navigate in the woods without a compass, use a j-stroke to guide a canoe through rippling water.  He could parse Old Testament narratives.  Explain how Daniel foretold the end of the world, the ages of iron and clay - our modern age barely pressed together.  But here he stood, alone in a shower in a Brooklyn.  Warm water flowing.  Images from last night still flowing around him.  His co-workers, Brian and Weixuan and drinks and dancing in that little bar on University Place once nominally full of writers and poets and painters but now only occupied by NYU undergrads with fake ids and tights as pants.

II.

He was never sure if his first memory - of late afternoon sun streaming through a window, a Reds game crackling on a small portable radio - was real, or just something he'd always used when asked what his first memory was.  He could certainly remember telling the story as a boy, at birthday parties and whenever the subject came up.  He liked to think it was real.  Something neatly encased and carried intact from year 3 to the present.

He'd remained a Reds fan, and a fan of sunshine and late lazy summer afternoons.  These thoughts swirled as he twisted the knob on his stereo looking for the Mets game.  A stack of dirty dishes stood sentry in the kitchen.  A half-finished novel on the arm of his reading chair.  He was perched between them, suspended.  Twirling.  Honing in on the signal.  The game was just starting.  He turned it up and went in the kitchen to tackle the dishes.  Work before pleasure.  Or something like that.