Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's been 10 years

It's been five years since I posted on this blog. But, I've decided to revive it (and, possibly, me). So much has changed.

The point of the moment: it's been 10 years since my father died. I'll post a photo, if I can remember how. Many anniversaries of his death have come and gone with little fanfare on my part, and this year - maybe because it's the 10th - seemed like the right time to do a bit of acknowledgment of his death and life and my reactions to both.

A detail: when he died, I sat in his hospital room, with my arm around his neck and my other hand holding his. He had been unconscious for days, and the life support had just been turned off. I sat with him as the monitors marked his demise in their precision. Beep, beep, beep, nothing.

I remember: the beeps marked time for a while, and when they stopped, time stopped. I noticed everything, everything, for a while. The sounds and smells in the room, the quiet of the hospital. Nothing mattered, nor would it ever again, in the same way. I recognized the Buddhist sense of being in the moment, and, lord Buddha God, was I in the moment. My father was motionless, mostly gone, not caring any more about his equipment or the yard work left to be done. One of his last things he asked me, a few days before: "who is going to take care of the details?" Not you, Dad, I replied. You don't have to, any more. Somebody else will.

The father-son relationship we had was fraught with difficulty. I hope there are those with much better experiences, but my father and I had a problematic time. We argued with no resolution, I hurt him in evil ways, he ignored my need to grow up and be a man. We had a peace that only manifested itself when we spent time together on a project. In the latter years, those projects were usually just cooking on the grill, drinking whiskey, and watching the sun set from his deck behind his house.

Perhaps the best time we ever had was when I invited him to go down to the coast of Texas to the "bay house" that my wife and I co-owned with her family. My father and I spent an awkward weekend with chilly weather and grey skies, but we ate a lot of great seafood and drank good whiskey. And, we talked. Our conversations were not profound, at least that I can remember, but they were conversations between a father, who had grown up on a farm in Kansas, was the high school football star, and became an engineer for an oil company, and his son, who had grown up in the suburbs of Dallas, never excelled at anything in school, dreamed of becoming a writer and ended up a poster child of ADD with dozens of careers. An awkward, difficult, meandering set of conversations, but that was us. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did.

We found an oak tree together. This oak was huge, having multiple trunks coming out of the ground all over a park, and had existed for hundreds of years. It was huge when the North shelled the Texas coast and burned the little town nearby to dust during the Civil War. The tree survived this and the myriad of droughts, hurricanes, and whatever else must have occurred during its life. My father and I walked around under its branches and talked about things. When the conversation was finished, we found a local restaurant that had great seafood.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Know You're Out There

I know fear. I think I know it more strongly, now that I have children, because I care deeply for them, and I don't want them to have to ever experience trauma.

It doesn't take a psychic to know where our country is headed. Read the subtext: Bush's approval rating below 35%. Bush's administration being probed for illegal activities, not the least of which is lying to the American public. The CIA's head brass quitting because of pending bribery investigations. Cunningham and DeLay surrounded by ethics violations.

And, then: Iraq, a mess we created that's getting worse. Osama bin Laden - does anyone even talk of him any more? Afghanistan, a mess we created that's getting worse. Sudan, a mess we had messy ties to, now getting awful. Iran, a mess we created long ago now coming back, big time, to bite us in the ass.

What does an American president do with such problems? See Reagan, Clinton, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Nixon for suggestions. We invade a country, saying words like "Freedom!", "Security!", and "Terrorism!" as loudly and often as possible. Call dissidents un-American and Socialist, though no one really knows the meaning of either term any longer.

I listened to one of my best friends, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive (used to be called liberal, before O'Reilly and others turned it into a epithet), as he explained why some military strike against Iran was necessary. "Necessary?", I asked. "They're crazy over there," he replied.

No, we're crazy. We're crazy to think that all serious problems in the world can be handled by extremely expensive military action. Terrorist attacks? "Kill, quickly." Iran wants nukes? "Kill, quickly." (even when it's a lie).

I am terrified for my country, and for the countries (and lives) we're destroying in our honor. So, today, a feeble attempt to call out to those folks out there for help, and to encourage speaking out.

A mix: "War and Peace"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Voxtrot Plays Art Museum Opening

I have a soft part of my heart for Voxtrot, I admit. I bought both of their EP's, right after they were released - I was tickled that they were shipped from a familiar street north of campus here in town. It's a very homegrown operation, you can tell. Listening to Voxtrot, I feel like I'm watching the beginnings of a group like the Beatles. Of course, they may never reach such heights of fame, glory, and achievement. But, Ramesh's enthusiasm for his songs, and his unadulterated joy for the performance, just drips off the music. I was able to stand amongst the teenagers last Saturday night at Austin's new Blanton Museum of Art, where Voxtrot was playing to a *very* mixed crowd of mostly art patrons, who were wondering why there was a pop band playing in their midst. No decent lighting, lousy echoey acoustics, but Voxtrot rocked. Somebody sign these guys, quick, before the fire dies out.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Earth Day Resolution: Watch the film Nobelity

My friend and neighbor, Turk Pipkin, has made a wonderful film that won awards at SXSW and is showing here and there around the country. In the film, he interviews nine Nobel prize winners around the world, and asks them hard questions about what the future holds, and what we might do about fixing the very screwed up things that are going on. It's a moving film, created as a personal statement about Pipkin's fears for his children. It's also a call to action. Watch the trailer, and visit the web site he's set up for the Nobelity Project the film has spawned. You can rent the film cheap to show to your friends and community.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Little Steven's Radio Show

I was scouring the internet for info on my latest find (The High Dials), and I ran across a mention that Little Steven (van Zandt, of Springsteen and Sopranos fame) loves The High Dials as well, and that he has featured them on his weekly radio show, Little Steven's Underground Garage. I've been a fan of LS from wayback - I loved his work with Southside Johnny (not to re-mention Bruce). And, he's an outspoken critic of the right-wing death machine that has seized control of our fine land.

Check out the radio show - you can listen to it online, and it's really, really good - full of music from all over the spectrum, put together with humor and a flourish.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In Memorium: Henry Lewy

Henry Lewy, with Andy Markley

Henry Lewy died April 8. Never heard of him? He was a music producer who was instrumental in the careers of many, many musicians. Best known as "Joni Mitchell's producer", he also helped create albums by Leonard Cohen, the Mamas and the Papas, Crosby Stills and Nash, David Crosby, Joan Baez, Neil Young, Joan Armatrading, Van Morrison, the Chipmunks, Jackie Deshannon, Leon Russell, Jimmy Spheeris, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Jude Johnstone, and tons of other musicians I'm not familiar with.

I have a friend who knew him well, and he visited him occasionally as he began his long decline. He said he was a remarkable fellow, who remembered well the folks he had worked with over the years. If you want to know more, there's a story about him on Joni Mitchell's site, here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Intelligent Dance Music

I don't know if Intelligent Dance Music is a moniker that makes any real sense, but it's a category that someone penned to describe bands like Sound Tribe Sector 9. This is not the kind of music I typically listen to, but a guy working with my wife handed her a CD and said "you just gotta hear these guys." They're currently living in Santa Cruz, CA, and have a considerable following from the jam-band aficionados of the world, a club I once considered myself a card-carrying member of. I have since turned in my membership to spend more time with music that has words as well as music (STS9 is all instrumental), but I definitely have a soft spot in my heart and head for music that directs the mental flow to very interesting places. Check 'em out and see what you think.