Thursday, April 28, 2016

Books and Bluegrass and Bikes

Cool, wet, grey. Rolling down the First Street cycletrack, raindrops on my cheeks, I felt alive. There's something soothing about this weather. It's like Paris in October. That low blanket of clouds that settles in over the city.

Random Notes:

  • I'm volunteering at the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival on Saturday! On some variation of trash duty, but it's good for free admission and a free t-shirt and a beer token.
  • Still listening to Sturgill Simpson quite a bit but ready for something a bit funkier..
  • Got a ticket to see Bob Boilen read (with Carrie Brownstein!) on Monday night at Sixth & I. I picked up a copy of his new book at East City Books the other day - the East Side's answer to Politics and Prose (I hope!). Then Delillo on Tuesday night. Same place. Words, words, words..

  • Making my way through Wild. It's better than I thought it would be - she's a great writer and tells the story well. Then Fates and Furies. Before I make a solid stab at Anna K.

  • Coming up.. Funk Parade. Heartless Bastards. A thousand other things.

  • I'm taking a creative writing class at CHAW - Writing Games. It's been fun to play - and is pushing me to dig back into my old work and push it forward..

  • Checking the tides... Ready to get back into the water.
That, for now, is all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lets Go Crazy

Things I found in Watts Branch this morning. Happy Earth Day!

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Danced to Let's Go Crazy this morning with J before school. Then off to Marvin Gaye Park for Earth Day clean-up.. I wore waders and went along the streambed picking trash. A great way to spend a morning...

Playing all afternoon. The greatest halftime show of all time:

Also this:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Akounak: Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It

Last night at E Street Cinema for FilmFest. It's a simple story, really. That classic arc (from Footloose to Purple Rain to 8 Mile). But Mdou Moctar had a presence, a charm, a style that rose above. It's a great big beautiful magical world.

That and my Big Bend guidebooks and Topo map showed up at my door yesterday. Good times, indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sailor's Guide to Earth

I can't stop listening to this album. And it gets better every time. From the NPR interview:

On the album's ultimate message:

"Love. Just thinking about a lot of points in my life when you're young and you're angry or confused or just misplaced or lost and you have this tendency to not be aware of how much [love] really is around you, and even shut it out. So, it's kind of a reminder."

And here's his 2015 Newport set. Also courtesy of NPR.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I still love you, New York.

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Back from a sunny Sunday in NYC which was everything I needed. Camera battery at B&H (so efficient!), wandering across Chelsea, then down through the East Village to SoHo through thrift stores and record stores and bookstores and coffeeshops and Veselka. Picked up, at last, a copy of Nin's Henry & June and Strayed's Wild (I saw the movie, time to read the book).

Finished Book 4 of Ferrante - the Story of the Lost Child - on the bus ride back. And they way that it built, and then came together, at the end, was simply stunning. It was better than I expected. Richer. She works subtly, piling up sentences. Building. Like Stegner, really. Nothing flashy, but at the end they both build something stunning and substantial and deep. I care about the people in her story. Keep running scenes through my head. And I'm glad I pushed through to the end.

Now listening to John Luther Adams and working. Re-starting my creative writing class tonight at CHAW. Smiling. Still finishing Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra. Muir can sometimes over-rhapsodize, but has a sense of humour, and himself, and beauty that is quite touching. And makes me want to head West.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Take Me Back to Austin (March Rambles + Music Notes)

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Late-March rambling... Landing on a sunny Sunday in Pasadena, nestled in the hills. Good Goodwills and Hawaiian beer at Roy's for Aloha Hour.

Then up to the high desert for work. Hiking 49 Palms Oasis after a day of meetings. Dinner at Pappy & Harriet's - a slice of LA tucked amid rocks and infinite sky. Then back down to the sea, winding through the hills back into the haze. French food with Erik (a bit of a Trinidad DC rendezvous in LA) before hopping a red-eye back Wednesday night.

After 36 hours in DC (filled with kindergarten choir concerts and flat bike tires and paper signing) - touching down in Austin on Friday evening, there was a smell, a feeling, an electricity in the air. Grace picked me up at the airport, infinitely hospitable, and whisked us off to El Chilito for tacos. I tried hard to eat nothing but for the rest of the trip...


A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Then music:

Cornell Hurd Band - Driskell Hotel - 3/25/2016

After tacos we parked downtown and as I marveled at the new (the Moody! the Willie Nelson statute!) we made our way to the majestic marble of the Driskell's bar. Still full of kitsch but now also full of button-downs and polos and tech money. Cornell was playing his lounge act - none of the bawdy, darkly funny songs we were hoping for.. So we picked up and headed to:

James Hand - Continental Club - 3/25/2016

Now this was more like it. The Continental, same as it ever was, dark and deep. James Hand played that mix of Western Swing and 50's Country for hours and the dancers spun. Old, young, hip, square - it didn't matter. The music flowed on. And on. The third set ended well after 1a and we rolled along. Smiling.

Why Not Satellite / Wild Seeds - Carousel Club - 3/26/2016

After a day of BBQ in Tim's backyard on Saturday, it was off to the Carousel. Still frozen in time. Circus murals on the walls. A giant pink elephant at the back of the stage. A relaxed open space where you could wander in and grab a booth and see old friends and buy a drink or not. No one cared. There was space to just.. be. Grace's friends swapping stories about SXSW adventures. Then the music. Both bands were 80's Austin mainstays, but new to me..

Why Not Satellite came first. Jangly, gorgeous guitar sound - loud, driving, but melodic - not unlike, say R.E.M. Great lyrics that flew by - demanding further listening. But what grabbed me were the covers. First - Venus in Furs - which made me sit up straight and pay attention. And then, at the end of the set, a re-imagined version of the Beach Boy's In My Room.

Then the Wild Seeds. They were louder. Faster. Tighter. But with lots of room in their sound. The lead singer had a thin spotlight on him and the rest of the room melted away. Even from the back. The covers again jumped out - Cinnamon Girl and Cortez the Killer. I scribbled notes in the back and smiled.

Conjuntos Los Pinkys - White Horse - 3/27/2016

Sunday afternoon, after a dip in Barton Springs, I walked down to the White Horse where Los Pinkys played for the 214th Sunday in a row.. It was dancing music. Social music. Long accordion-based songs and a big dance floor, folks circling, spinning, laughing, talking. It sounded like a mix of polka and tejano with a dash of zydeco mixed in.

Sitting out back with food truck tacos and friends I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years - picking up where we left off. And speaking of covers they slipped effortlessly into Doug Sahm's She's About a Mover and nearly everything I love about Texas music clicked neatly into place.

Peterson Brothers - Continental Club - 3/28/2016

Monday night. Time for one more show. Back at the Continental to see the Peterson Brothers play to a rapidly swelling happy hour crowd. Deep blues, Texas style. Playful.

The brothers are young (late teens / early twenties) and still in love with the music. And each other. The highlight, easily, was when they paused and played Amazing Grace - the first song they learned to play together.

This post has been in draft forever.. So much more to say. Stolen moments. Long lunches at Foodheads. The thrift stores on Burnet. Waterloo Records. Topo Chico. Baby Great Horned Owls at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The smells. Turning corners and finding old nooks intact. But the snapshots will do for now.

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Coming up next - thoughts on Ferrante (almost done!), and NYC (this weekend!), and more music (Sturgill Simpson!) and more books and bikes and life...