actin' locally

now playing: seals and crofts, "diamond girl"

ok, so i gotta share this with somebody. this is the front page of our local rag:

this is the letter that i wrote as a result:

Today, I walked through our cafeteria at work and saw the headline of your Thursday Reading Eagle with the headline, Bush Criticizes Kerry on munitions issue.

I had to look again at the date - for a moment, I thought I must've overslept a few months - and that John Kerry had won the November election. I mean, that's the only logical assumption I could make, since John Kerry is not (at present) our Commander-In-Chief. And, since Bush is still at the helm, this begs the question:

Who's in charge here?

The word "irresponsible" isn't strong or vivid enough to hang upon the lack of journalistic integrity it must take to print that. The blame for what happened at Al-QaQaa rests at the top of the chain of command, no matter how you slice it. Bush has steadfastly refused to hold anyone else "downhill" responsible for the atrocities of this ill-fated war, from Abu Gharib to this most recent bungling. Instead, we have Bush footsoldiers like Rudy Giuliani appearing on the Today Show saying things like this:

"The president was cautious - the president was prudent - the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"

So while our President is accusing Kerry of slandering our troops by criticizing Bush's ineptness, his RNC cronies are laying the blame at our brave soldiers' feet for not being capable of being in several places at once.

As an aside, your picture shows a group of Amish supporters holding a Veterans for Bush poster - I'm not even gonna touch the irony in that...not in print, anyway.

Tom Hampton


there's your media at work, berks county.

sox win, russia retaliates

now playing: janis ian, "in the winter"

oddly, i thought that the world would feel like a different place the morning after a red sox world series win. oddly, the only things i saw thus far this morning that struck me as a potential glitch in the matrix were a couple of people walking in the street in areas where there were sidewalks (one was walking his dog and probably thought that the likelihood of getting away with not scooping was greater in the street than on the sidewalk...the other woman looked as though she was sleepwalking - certainly dressed as such), and a late 80's red chevy cavalier with no hubcaps and a doctors for bush sticker in the back window. now, even if you play one on tv, you should be driving something nicer than that piece of shit....

and ya know, i was fine - i watched the final out, i watched the celebrating afterward, the interviews...and i was ok until that goddamn nike commercial came on - the one that showed the two kids in the bleachers at fenway park in 1918, and showed the years scrolling away at the bottom of the screen as the two boys grew to teenagers, then to adulthood, and then aging as the clock scrolled towards 2004.

then i got a little...how would mike myers say it? verklempt?

in all seriousness, i feel as though i gave up my right to rejoice when i wrote them off after game three of the yankees series - and honestly, i think a door closed in my chest when i wrote that, because none of what happened afterward affected me the way it would've had this all happened a year ago - but i couldn't be more happy for them. this should've happened a year ago, quite frankly, and i'm glad it happened before this particular team flies to the four winds and dissolves.

and i can't help but paraphrase evan dando a bit and say out loud that it's a shame about nomar.

well, with that little bleep on the cosmic radar easing past us, there's only the matter of next tuesday before life begins to return to some vague sense of normalcy...and boy, are things starting to get out of hand.

i haven't said a great deal about the Al-QaQaa situation, because there are so many on the right side of this window who are staying on top of this story in a much more diligent fashion than i could right now...and, whether delusional or not, i tend to operate under the assumption that those of you curious enough to dig a little deeper are either already aware of what's going on, or you may already be visiting some of those sites and don't need me to repeat what's been said.

today, though, there's a new twist to the story. first, though, let's go ahead and recap a bit:

late last week, it was published in the nelson report that 380 tons of high grade explosives were missing from a monitored munitions dump in iraq. they were under the watch of the IAEA until days before the US invasion, at which time the IAEA notified the invading forces of the situation at the facility, what was there, et cetera. however, from the time the IAEA left until after US troops began marching towards baghdad, the facility was unguarded. the facility was visited twice by US forces after the invasion, but no attempt was ever made to re-secure the facility...and now, after over a year of looting, the facility has somehow been relieved of enough explosives to, according to experts on the types of material that was there, re-create the oklahoma city murrah building catastrophe thousands of times over.

what this means, in effect, is that we essentially created a scenario that allowed for arming hundreds of "insurgents" (i've talked about how i feel about that word before...are you an insurgent if you're defending your home against an invading force?) with enough explosives to rig IED's and car bombs for as far down the road as i care to look.

this isn't the only instance of this that's been documented, either - there have been others as well.

now, the right is parroting all the usual rhetoric - this is an obvious left-wing conspiracy to bring down the president by bringing this up now, that the weapons were already gone when we got there...that one, of course, is my personal favorite. think about that for a minute.

either we're calling the IAEA liars, or you'd have to accept the frayed logic that someone was able to spirit away 380 tons of explosives in the middle of an invasion by occupying forces without anyone noticing. that, of course, makes us look mighty fuckin' efficient.

now, first of all, in the age of satellite recon in which we live, there's just no way in hell that could've happened without a blip going off on the radar somewhere. secondly, that period was probably the most intense flyover period of the entire war. no one saw anything suspicious?

now, as this story has aged during the course of the week, many things are coming to light. first of all, some of the commanders on the ground and others who were there in a reporting capacity are stepping forward and saying that the ordinance was definitely there a month after baghdad fell:

"There wasn't a search. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around. But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away."

so, as the theory that the ordinance was already looted before we invaded begins to lose credibility, now comes the ever popular wingnut conspiracy theory that the new york times and cbs are in cahoots with the IAEA to bring bush down...and the fact that anyone is even saying that says a lot more about them than anything else.

today, though, the bar is being raised. apparently, russia is concerned that some of the ordinance may have found its way into the hands of separatists in his neck of the woods and would like to see UN inspectors return to find them.

of course, that may not be necessary - as an iraqi group is already claiming to have them in their posession.

now, i know what i'm thinking at this point...what does rudy guliani think about all this?

"The president was cautious the president was prudent the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"

well, why didn't they just point that out in the first place? it's the TROOPS' fault! i shoulda known! i shoulda known the minute dubya started trying to say that by criticizing bush's bungling of the situation, he was really criticizing the troops. now it all makes perfect fucking sense to me!

maybe they should've gotten rudy to just flip 'em the bird?

the fact is, this story isn't going to go away anytime soon...and at some point, bush and the droids at fox news will have to agree on a story and stick to it. unfortunately, whatever they might come up with will almost certainly be debunked by what's already been reported.

thankfully, josh marshall has crawled up their asses and pitched a tent, and will probably be staying a while...so we'll be able to keep up with what's going on.


now playing: baseball tonight

ok, so now that we've established that the red sox are class A retarded assclowns, and that they suck serious ass, i'd like to first remind you that you heard it here first that they bite.

now that we've established that, i'd like to say a few words about john kerry....


a glitch in the matrix

now playing: cliff richard, "we don't talk anymore"

please forgive the long load time, dialup users...but i had to post this:

let freedom RING, bitches!

i hate to even think it, much less say it, BUT -

now playing: orleans, "dance with me"

here we go again.

how much of this kind of crap are we going to swallow this time?


now playing: eminem, "mosh"

note: above link is a direct download of the video (47.8mb). not sure how long it will be up. download it now if you want it.

also - my nominee for best signature file of the week: dick cheney is a persian cat away from being a james bond villian

so it's finally happened.

i've always outwardly denied that it could ever happen to me, that there's too much history that would prevent it from ever coming to pass, but come to pass it has.

i've fallen under eminem's spell.

ok, maybe that's not entirely true - but i have to concede that hip-hop is the new folk music. what eminem has done with his new single, mosh, is every bit as relevant to the social discourse as what people like dylan and CSN were doing 35 years ago. the differences are many - eminem's star had already risen about as far as it could before he decided to make this statement, whereas dylan burst onto the scene as a result of the stands he took as much (if not more so) than anything else.

it's becoming more and more obvious to me everyday that the times we're living in now are as politically charged as the sixties were, and for very similar reasons - an unjust war and leadership that's completely out of touch with reality. i'm getting the sense, on occasion, that perhaps this generation of young people might not be as apathetic and hypnotized as i'd previously written them off to be. well, maybe not as many of them as i had thought, anyway.

maybe it'll take someone like eminem to mobilize his base into the force that young people were 35 years ago - or maybe this'll simply be a small window of hope that dissipates back into apathy once the novelty wears off.

will there be long lines of black hoodies at the polls on november 2nd? or will we have already gone back to watching my big fat obnoxious boss?

we'll see soon enough.

eminem is the musical guest on this weeks' saturday night live.


now playing: shame, "one note serenade"

this is an amazing piece of research. i'm sure if we all put our heads together, we could think of something he might've missed...but then again, maybe not. McGreevey from NJ is conspicuous in his abscence, but that's about it.

really amazing. go have a read.



now playing: marty higgins, "california"

dylan spent the night last night - he's getting bogged down with homework, and i'm starting to feel ill-equipped to help him deal with it all. i feel as though i should be able to provide him with a certain amount of guidance, but i find myself having to make assumptions about his instructions, and second-guessing myself with regards to the help i'm giving him. last night, he was pretty lethargic and ended up going to bed early - although he was still awake an hour and a half later. (i had to enforce a lights-out to get him to finally go to sleep.)

the guidance counselor at his school has been operating on the assumption that he'd be out for two weeks - the initial word from the doctor was that he'd probably only be out for a week...it's starting to look like mr. hoover had it about right. his mom wants him to go back mid-week this week, but i don't know how this is all going to play out yet. right now, he seems to have his good days and his bad days.

i need to call blake and check in...he went through something of a work crisis recently, a bit of an "agree to disagree" moment with one of the customers he's responsible for. i don't know how he does what he does - i mean, i can see where the job fits into his life, in terms of allowing for other things...but i'm not sure how he manages to deal with some of the people he has to deal with. (this spoken from a person who has to deal sporadically with raving lunatics as part of his routine) at any rate, his conflict was apparently refereed by someone higher up in his company - and he seems to be ok with the way things panned out, judging from his outlook when i last spoke to him...but he's rounding the last turn with his record, and i'm hoping that his decision-making apparatus is intact and that he's able to fully concentrate on the task at hand.

i have a few opinions about making a record in the midst of personal turmoil...although while i might advise against it, certainly history has proven that some great art comes from said turmoil. i can't help but imagine that plenty of absolute horseshit has come from the same turmoil...but horseshit generally goes unnoticed by the world at large, so it's hard to say.

an example of horseshit that hasn't gone unnoticed would be practically every song written in the aftermath of 9/11... i've yet to hear one that hasn't been a trite collection of rhyming cliches. it's a subject that really defies the act of committing it to verse, i think. certainly, it defies being committed to verse by anyone whos' trying at the moment. i wonder if even dylan at his most relevant could've done it in a way that didn't seem blatantly opportunistic...certainly alan jackson never had a shot. the closest anyone was able to come was springsteen's my city in ruins.

says a lot about the state of creativity in our times.

and i'm not even gonna get into the whole ashley simpson thing again.

(except to say that i hope her band walks the hell out on her and she has to tour with mannequins - that is, to say, if she even bothers to tour, save for the occasional tv show.)

OK, enough of all that. here's this month's newspaper article:

Do You Know Your Candidate?

Tom Hampton, Kutztown Patriot

As the election draws closer, I’ve noticed a distinct trend in the media to concentrate their collective attention on issues that only the most partisan of chest-beaters could possibly consider issues that affect this election and the direction of the country. Does America’s fate truly depend on John Kerry’s mention of Dick Cheney’s daughter during the last debate, even though she’s openly professed her sexual orientation for some time now? Do we need the talking head parade to parrot an insignificant tiff between Teresa Kerry and the First Lady?

We’re barrelling towards November 2nd at a breakneck pace, and it seems that our media has opted to while away the space between the final debate and election day with such non-issues as these.

Conspicuous in its absence from the news of late are the results of a joint study from, among others, the Program on International Policy Attitudes and the University of Maryland that comes to some disturbing conclusions regarding those who support the President.

On the heels of Ron Suskind’s recent New York Times article, “The Faith-Based Presidency”, this new study reinforces some troubling trends about our gullibility as a nation. Here’s a sampling of the study’s conclusions:

* Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a program for developing them (25%).
* Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.
* Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found.
* Fifty-five percent of Bush supporters believe, incorrectly, that the 9/11 Commision found evidence of Iraqi support for Al Qaeda.
* Fifty-seven percent of Bush supporters believe, also incorrectly, that the majority of the world’s population favor his re-election (A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.)

Interestingly, Kerry supporters held opposing beliefs in each of the polled scenarios. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree."

Respondents were also polled on their candidate’s position on several issues, and failed just as miserably in that arena. For instance, only 39% knew Bush’s stance on the Kyoto global warming treaty (he opposes it), 38% were aware that he opposes US participation in the International Criminal Court, only 20% knew that Bush stood in opposition to an international land mine treaty, and a scant 13% correctly perceived Bush’s opposition to labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In comparison, 81% of Kerry’s supporters correctly perceived his support for such a standard.

Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

That seems to me a rather tactful way of saying that some of us are more than content to bury our heads in the sand in light of information that might cast our man in an unflattering light.


penguins for sale

now playing: blake allen, "the wind"

the only thing i can deduce from this is that things must be a lot worse than i thought.

ass-ley simpson

now playing: dan fogelberg, "hickory grove"

boy...i'm not sure what i think about this. on one hand, i want to feel bad for her, looking like an asshole on national tv and all...

but then when she turns around and blames her band for the fact that she's a talentless hack...

no, i don't. i don't feel bad for her at all. she's an ass.

video of the offending moments can be found here. enjoy.

still undecided?

now playing: poco, "ride the country"

if you'd like to review every possible point you should think about before stepping into the voting booth, stop by here.

you can also download a PDF of this particular list here.

in my travels, i tripped over this - not really a blog so much as a collection of links to news stories, but i couldn't help but post the link....if you have a few hours to read them all, it'll definitely warm the inner recesses of your heart.

if it's shitty news, it must be monday...

now playing: jackson browne, "barricades of heaven"

so today, i thought we'd first take a look at some of the good news coming from iraq:

first of all, a new york times article from friday points out that there's apparently significant amounts of saudi money going towards financing the insurgents in iraq:

Their financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports.

Only half the estimated $1 billion the Hussein government put in Syrian banks before the war has been recovered, Pentagon officials said. There is no tally of money flowing through Syria to Iraq from wealthy Saudis or Islamic charities, but a Pentagon official said the figure is "significant."

from that hotbed of liberal journalism the des moines register, we find out that people who even smell like trouble are being told that they'll be spending their time at bush rallies in the crosshairs of snipers. inn't that special?

the Most Trusted Name In News has a whole page of good news from iraq, including a picture of a burning bradley armored vehicle freshly hit by a roadside bomb that was probably made from a small portion of the 350 tons of conventional explosives formerly policed by the IAEA that seems to have turned up, uh, missing. not recently, no...over a year ago - right after the invasion.

we may as well have handed it out to the insurgents ourselves.

but, hey! not to fear! a week from tomorrow, we can all go to the polls and make this right, right? right?

well, maybe. or maybe not.

or maybe it doesn't matter what lever you pull.

maybe it'll be deja vu all over again.

some say the election is every bit this simple. maybe so, but will the outcome reflect it?

i'm really starting to have my doubts.

but if the idiots running the bush circus keep doing shit like this, then they might all find themselves out of work in a few months.

anybody see jon stewart last night on 60 minutes? he's such a sarcastic ass...i love it.

as we speak, my buddy mitch is making his way to love park in philadelphia to see john kerry and bill clinton. me? well, i'll be gettin' in my van shortly to make my somewhat-regular pilgrimage to kutztown to pick up a laptop from one of our vendors. i have a route that i usually take that brings me a great deal of peace. today, being somewhat overcast (and with me bein' somewhat melancholy myself at the moment), i'll just take whatever comes.


wake me up before you leave for the day...

now playing: eugene ruffolo, "beyond love"

today, i have an absolute ton of shit to do at work, but i somehow can't manage the motivation to dig in and get it finished. and even though i can feel the fingers of my workload tightening their grip around my neck, i find myself sitting here staring at an excel spreadsheet and an inventory from from our auditing software...staring, and yet not seeing a thing. my brain is drifting all over the place all morning, into the afternoon now. i'm not sure specifically why - but i can't seem to concentrate on anything at the moment. i know that my total and complete lack of focus will result in my being in this chair over the weekend, but i don't feel bothered by that right now, oddly enough.

this weekend, i have committed to helping dylan get caught up on his homework for his return to school on monday. i have committed to going to macungie tonight to patch a computer for one of my clients. i have committed to allowing jayda's new boyfriend to visit tomorrow afternoon, and to giving him a ride home later.

that leaves sunday, which will probably find me here.

and oddly, this doesn't bother me.

there are other things i'd rather be doing - there are some bare acoustic tracks that i got from charlie that i did some work on before i moved that i wanted to "tighten up" before he gets here next week. i may or may not finish those up, i don't know.

this particular brand of Lack Of Motivation isn't exactly confined to work, it seems.

i just want to sleep right now. i don't know why, necessarily - there are things on my plate that i genuinely want to do, but i just have zero motivation. hopefully that'll change before the entire weekend is wasted.

even this post had started out as what had the potential to be a long and thoughtful diatribe...but that was at lunchtime. it's now coming up on six o'clock, and i'm not even motivated to try and drive my point home anymore.

i will, however, share this with you:

oh, and here are a couple of shots from the nik everett gig a few weeks ago as well:

courtesy of tara johnson - thanks!


reservoir dogs

now playing: donna summer, "dim all the lights"

for some time now, i've been trying to figure out what it is exactly that goes through the minds of these folks who think, somehow, that dubya is the best man to hold the reins here in the good ol' u. s. of a.

it sure as hell hasn't been an easy task for me, lemme tell ya. but nestled among a whole group of great posts over on gadflyer is paul waldman's take on how this can possibly be.

still, though, no matter how any of us try to spin it, it still boils down to one inevitable, uncomfortable fact...

there sure are some dumb-assed people walking around upright in this country.

courtesy of moby:

Q: what's the difference between the vietnam war and the iraq war?

A: george w. bush had a plan to get out of vietnam.

also today, kevin drum points out that bush will end his 4 year term having fulfilled only 46% of his campaign promises from the 2000 campaign, as opposed to bill clinton having made good on a full 66% of his commitments during his first campaign. this is interesting on a couple of levels, not the least of which is the fact that dubya has had a republican majority in congress the entire length of his term, while clinton railed against a hostile legislative body for over half of his first term. he also has a post that brings up an interesting thought:

Finally he pointed out that history provides a gloomy prognosis. "I can't think of a single case where a popular local guerrilla movement failed to defeat a conventional foreign occupying force," he said. "From the American Revolution through Viet Nam, the guerrillas always win. Usually, it takes them a long time and they suffer most of the casualties, but they win."

a lot of folks are still wondering about this mysterious, top-secret 9/11 report...sure is a shame that it's been finished for some time, but someone only saw fit to leak it now.

i feel like i should give the CIA a good talking-to in the vein of what i had to say to my son a number of times this past school year: look, the longer you wait to 'fess up to something, the worse it makes you look...it's best to come to me and tell me up front, because at least then you'll earn some respect for having done so...

we have children who try to cover their lies running our government.

oh, and i'm just going to say one more thing about baseball and then i'll shut up.

i can tell you the exact moment the series momentum went the other way.

three games ago, in boston at fenway, fox came back from a commercial to footage of the boston pitching staff, led by curt schilling, marching across the outfield towards the bullpen, reservoir dogs style, as if they were on a mission.

fenway park went absolutely fucking nuts, and the yankees never managed to muster even the faint tingle of an erection from that point on.

but, lest we forget, i still think they're a bunch of assclowns, and i stand by my position.

at least until after the world series.

a brief mastercard moment

now playing: chicago, "wishing you were here"

tab at the save-a-lot on the way home from work: $4.70

bottle of preperatory post-game champagne: $12.40

shouting who's your daddy now, bitches?!??? at the tv after midnight: priceless

from today's new york times:

It was actually happening. The nerd was kissing the homecoming queen. Paper was beating scissors; scissors were beating rock. Charlie Brown was kicking the football. The Red Sox were beating the Yankees for the American League pennant.

none of the die-hard fans will admit this out loud, but it almost doesn't matter if they win the world series now or not. after what they've accomplished in this series, they have plenty of reason to be proud of their boys.


polishing the brass

now playing: steely dan, "FM"

i remember the summer that movie (FM) came out...the soundtrack was all over the radio. that movie came out at around the same timeframe as the awful movie version of seargent pepper's lonely hearts club band with george burns, peter frampton, the bee gees...grease with olivia newton john and john travolta, saturday night fever, later xanadu...it was 1978/1979...soundtracks were finding their legs as marketing tools, really. this movie of which i speak, the FM movie, was a huge failure as a cinematic experience, but the soundtrack sold an assload of records.

i remember buying my first records ever back then...my first 45 was love is like oxygen by sweet, followed by i'm not gonna let it bother me tonight by atlanta rhythm section. my first album was infinity by journey, followed by two albums that i got for christmas, point of no return by kansas and don't look back by boston. the boston album had a gatefold cover, and had pictures of the band playing live in it, and i remember staring at the pictures, wondering who played what parts on the record and things like that. i remember drawing pictures of bands, pictures of stages, pictures of huge, elaborate drumkits (what i wouldn't give to have some of those pictures back now, man....).

a little while ago, the radio station i listen to most days played the theme song from welcome back, kotter and it got me to thinking about this particular time in my life...they seem to be hitting a lot of songs from late elementary/early junior high school today, and i seem to be tuned into that pretty vividly. i don't know where that comes from, and how it is that i usually don't really think about that time in my life at all, and then on other days, i'll hear a song and i can remember little snippets of my life so clearly. i can remember the clock radio i had as a kid that was my lifeline to the outside world, where music was concerned - how whenever we'd go to my grandparents' house, i'd bring it with me because i couldn't stand not listening to music until i got home. i had the radio on constantly. after a while, i stopped even trying to reset the clock. later, i took the thing apart and actually melted a hole in the back of it big enough for a 1/4" jack, and i wired it so that i could plug headphones into it. then later, i had a pair of car speakers that i wired up to plug into the headphone jack when i was home, because they sounded better than the speaker that was in the clock radio itself.

i built a drum set. out of scraps that were lying around the yard and my grandfathers' shop. buckets, with the bottoms cut out and plastic lids for heads, nailed to strips of wood and driven like stakes into the ground. old tires that were patently useless from a functional standpoint as a bass drum (later, i'd have two, because all the cool drummers played double bass kits), and whatever i could find that was round and made of metal for cymbals...the best ones i could find were a pair of tub covers for the wringer washer in the basement that i stole to make cymbals from.

i'm sure my entire family thought i was completely off my rocker. i would sit out in the back of the yard with all this crap set up, stakes driven into the ground with the tires propped up in front and buckets nailed to them, some with big clanging metal disks on top of them, flailing away like a lunatic...making no sense at all at first, but slowly but surely beginning to figure it all out for myself.

i would stay up and watch the midnight special on friday nights, any live music i could possibly see on tv i wanted to see. i'd watch saturday night live and wait up for the musical guest, no matter who it was. i saw jackson browne my first time on SNL. he played running on empty and then it seemed like hours went by...i remember gilda radner playing a hispanic in one skit, bemoaning the fact that she couldn't buy gasoline for her low rider because, in her words, i gotttoo drive de big car dat sits low to de ground, and i gottooo have gaaaas! i actually turned the tv off, because i thought he wasn't coming back on again, but then i couldn't sleep because i figured i had turned it off too soon, so a few minutes later i turned it back on and he was just beginning to play the pretender. i saw talking heads, james taylor, patti smith, billy joel...and i was always trying to see what the drummer was doing. i remember seeing journey on the midnight special and being heartbroken when i saw that aynsley dunbar wasn't behind the drumkit and i had no idea who the new guy was and feeling like he had no place in my precious band....



everything i picked up about playing drums was second and third-hand this way...watching other people play and trying to apply it to that godawful pile of shit in my grandpas' back yard. over time, it fell into place and i started getting the hang of it. i was completely singular of purpose...i was going to figure this out for myself and then i was going to get into a band and move away and become famous. but, first, i had to get an actual drumkit.

i couldn't even play the snare drum in the band because it cost twenty bucks a month to rent a drum and take lessons at school. you can't begin to imagine how prohibitive that was for my family at that point in time. it may as well have been a million dollars.

but i had my buckets, man. i'd make do for the time being.

eventually, i had one drumkit-like contraption at my grandparents' house and one at home, on the back porch, away from everyone else in the house so that the hullaballo wouldn't distract from the rest of the familys' tv addiction.

i would literally go out back to the porch when i got home from school, take a break to eat dinner, and go back out there until someone would come and tell me to stop at bedtime. even when i was in school, i'd be gently and inaudibly tapping out rhythms on my desk in class. it was my sole motivation for getting out of bed in the morning.

later on, in junior high, a good friend of mine sold me a drumset for $40 that was barely an upgrade from what i'd already been playing on, but they were real drums. that was good enough for me. sure, i still had to use some of my homemade stands and such, but i didn't mind. they were real drums.

they were a mish-mash of stuff, really...there was a ludwig bass drum and two tiny toms, mounted on a hoop that was fastened to the bass drum itself, then a floor tom that didn't actually have any legs (it ended up sitting on a couple of stacks of books), and a tiny (for those days) 13" snare drum. no cymbals - i ended up getting some really crappy cymbals from my mentor, david phillips, for a time (they were cracked and ridden hard, but they were real cymbals, and that's all that mattered to me). and i had my first "real" drumkit. (i have a picture of myself as a teenager playing them, but it's a pretty sorry picture...maybe i'll scan it and try to clean it up someday.)

so i held onto that set until i was a couple of years older and ready to start thinking about playing in bands. then, i collected the pieces that weren't homemade and took them to david phillips' music store and traded them in for a legitimate drum set, one that you could actually take out and play in front of people without getting the quizzical looks that i used to get from my cousins. i played my first shows in public with that kit. that's the kit i was playing the first time my grandfather saw me play on, with a country band that was all brothers, plus dad, mom, and me...my first actual band.

i'm not sure how exactly to explain the sensation that you get from the first time you go from playing by yourself or playing along with records to playing as part of an ensemble that has its own momentum...you're no longer playing along with the finished product in your headphones, you're creating a piece of the whole, something that has its own pace - and as a drummer, you're actually driving that momentum, that pace.

it's a rush that you really can't get anywhere else. i know that sounds corny, but it's true.

what led to this diatribe in the first place, you're probably wondering by now....

today, i went to my favorite italian place for lunch (it's only a few minutes from where i work, and i never go. i don't know why. the only reason i went today is because i had to go to the bank to begin with, and it's less than a block from the bank.)

i was sitting there, at around 2 o'clock, the only non-employee in the place, and one of the kitchen workers was polishing the brass fixtures on the booths where i was sitting with Brasso...and i remembered that smell very vividly from when i was a teenager, polishing my cymbals in the room in the back of the house.

between that and the music that keeps coming up on the playlist today, i'm finding that i very much feel like i'm fourteen again right now...sitting in that pink-walled room with the christmas lights hung from the ceiling, in a house that's long since been torn down, trying to figure out exactly how this whole "musician" thing works.

and before i shut the hell up, i just gotta say...copacabana sure is a goofy-assed song, coming from the same guy who did weekend in new england, man.


the boston red sox are still a bunch of knobgobblers

i know, i know.

i stand by my position. the red sox have got to be the most unprofessional, most egotistical, least talented group of ballplayers ever assembled in one dugout. why, did you see manny ramirez slap the ball out of tony clarks' hand while he was running to first late in the game? what kind of asshole does something like that?

i'm so glad i've fallen off the red sox bandwagon. i can hardly stand to be in the same room with the TV when those bums are on.

losers. every last one of 'em.

and yeah, i most certainly was watching the same game you were...and i'll continue to beat the red sox suck ass bandwagon until at least this time tomorrow...because, baseball being the superstitious sport that it is, i see a chilling coincidence between the fact that they only pulled their heads out of their asses and started playing at right about the time i finished my swearing off article and posted it on my blog.

so if you need me, i'll be standing
next to the bandwagon, swearing to no one in particular in much the same manner as i have. i hope you'll understand.


any result you want from any number you want - guaranteed!

now playing: shame, "sparkle"

more from the you just gotta check this shit out department:

CNN ignores current poll numbers, uses old poll data that favors bush

no wonder america increasingly turns to jon stewart for real news...what a bunch of douchebags.

breaking news...and fiction as fact

now playing: blake allen, "everybody is ok"

ok, before you get too involved in anything, go check this out.

According to the intelligence official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, release of the report, which represents an exhaustive 17-month investigation by an 11-member team within the agency, has been "stalled." First by acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and now by Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by President Bush.

The official stressed that the report was more blunt and more specific than the earlier bipartisan reports produced by the Bush-appointed Sept. 11 commission and Congress.

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."

i wonder how pissed richard nixon would be, were he alive today, to see what those he hath spawned have been able to get away with without being held accountable in the least.

also on alternet - a nice wrapup of the sinclair story to date.

might wanna keep your eyes cast skyward if you venture out in the near future, lest you be hit on the head by a piece of falling sinclair stock.


BREAKING SINCLAIR NEWS at talking points memo!

i was just on the phone with my incredibly smart daughter, who asked me, "dad...did you know that they knew osama bin laden was a threat in 1987?" without getting it right away, i said, 'well, osama bin laden was receiving american support back in the eighties because he was part of the resistance in afghanistan fighting against the soviets, who invaded there in 1979..." etc, etc (friggin' history buffs make for long winded answers to short questions). well, she mentioned "this oliver guy" and al gore...and it took me a minute or two, but i finally realized what she was talking about (for those with short memories, go here and here for a quick refresher).

apparently, it's being taught in her civics class in reading high school as fact.

so i printed those two pages out for her to take to class tomorrow - she's a little worked up, after having heard that she's been railroaded by her civics teacher...but she's been butting heads with him on an ideological level ever since class started.

i'm not going to say anything about this to the school...yet. i don't want to create the obvious situation that ratting him out would create...at least not until after the semester when she won't have the class anymore.

at that point, all bets are off.


some links and tidbits to start your week off right...

now playing: firefall, "strange way"

some definite must-read material from the weekend....

first of all, atrios is continuing his sinclair stock watch...in the words of tom petty, they're "freeee....freeefallin'..."

if you haven't already read it (the internet is buzzing about this one), read ron suskind's sunday new yorker article first. it's long, so set aside some time...but it's a chiller.

"...on Feb. 1, 2002, Jim Wallis of the Sojourners stood in the Roosevelt Room for the introduction of Jim Towey as head of the president's faith-based and community initiative. John DiIulio, the original head, had left the job feeling that the initiative was not about ''compassionate conservatism,'' as originally promised, but rather a political giveaway to the Christian right, a way to consolidate and energize that part of the base.

Moments after the ceremony, Bush saw Wallis. He bounded over and grabbed the cheeks of his face, one in each hand, and squeezed. ''Jim, how ya doin', how ya doin'!'' he exclaimed. Wallis was taken aback. Bush excitedly said that his massage therapist had given him Wallis's book, ''Faith Works.'' His joy at seeing Wallis, as Wallis and others remember it, was palpable -- a president, wrestling with faith and its role at a time of peril, seeing that rare bird: an independent counselor. Wallis recalls telling Bush he was doing fine, '''but in the State of the Union address a few days before, you said that unless we devote all our energies, our focus, our resources on this war on terrorism, we're going to lose.' I said, 'Mr. President, if we don't devote our energy, our focus and our time on also overcoming global poverty and desperation, we will lose not only the war on poverty, but we'll lose the war on terrorism.'''

Bush replied that that was why America needed the leadership of Wallis and other members of the clergy.

''No, Mr. President,'' Wallis says he told Bush, ''We need your leadership on this question, and all of us will then commit to support you. Unless we drain the swamp of injustice in which the mosquitoes of terrorism breed, we'll never defeat the threat of terrorism.''

Bush looked quizzically at the minister, Wallis recalls. They never spoke again after that. "

then move on to the knight-ridder piece that should prove, once and for all, that there was never a plan to win the peace in iraq.

"The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace in Iraq is real and serious," warned an Army War College report that was completed in February 2003, a month before the invasion. Without an "overwhelming" effort to prepare for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the report warned: "The United States may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making."

...Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

earlier this weekend, atrios also linked to a great article by hal crowther that's guaranteed to piss you off if you have a modicum of dignity whatsoever that resides even partially in your citizenship of this country...

"....the occupied people will fight you to the last peasant, and why shouldn't they? If our presidential election fails to dislodge the crazy bastards who annexed Baghdad, many of us in this country would welcome regime change by any intervention, human or divine. But if, say, the Chinese came in to rescue us -- Operation American Freedom -- how long would any of us, left-wing or right, put up with an occupying army teaching us Chinese-style democracy? A guerrilla who opposes an invading army on his own soil is not a terrorist, he's a resistance fighter. In Iraq we're not fighting enemies but making enemies. As Richard Clarke and others have observed, every dollar, bullet and American life that we spend in Iraq is one that's not being spent in the war on terrorism. Every Iraqi, every Muslim we kill or torture or humiliate is a precious shot of adrenaline for Osama and al Qaeda."

"One problem with this referendum is that the case against George Bush is much too strong. Just to spell it out is to sound like a bitter partisan. I sit here on the 67th birthday of Saddam Hussein facing a haystack of incriminating evidence that comes almost to my armpit. What matters most, what signifies? Journalists used to look for the smoking gun, but this time we have the cannons of Waterloo, we have Gettysburg and Sevastopol, we have enough gunsmoke to cause asthma in heaven. I'm overwhelmed. Maybe I should light a match to this mountain of paper and immolate myself. On the near side of my haystack, among hundreds of quotes circled and statistics underlined, just one thing leaped out at me. A quote I had underlined was from the testimony of Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials, not long before Hitler's vice-fuhrer poisoned himself in his jail cell:

"... It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

Goering's dark wisdom gained weight when a friend called me and reported that Vice President Cheney was so violently partisan in his commencement speech at Westminster College in Missouri -- so rabid in his attacks on John Kerry as a anti-American peace-marching crypto-communist -- that the college president felt obliged to send the student body an email apologizing for Cheney's coarseness.

If you think it's exceptionally shameless for a man who dodged Vietnam to play the patriot card against a decorated veteran, remember that Georgia Republicans played the same card, successfully, against Sen. Max Cleland, who suffered multiple amputations in Vietnam. In 2001 and 2002, George Bush and his Machiavelli, Karl Rove, approved political attack ads that showed the faces of Tom Daschle and other Democratic senators alongside the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And somewhere in hell, Goering and Goebbels toasted each other with a schnapps."

OK, so let's see...in other, more local news, it appears that the GOP has brought their Suppress The Vote movement to philadelphia. apparently, they've been so successful in places like nevada and oregon that they figured, hey - why not take our special brand of brownshirtedness to the keystone state?

well, they're here.

oh, and as a postscript to the nevada situation...a judge there has refused to reopen voter registration in light of the GOP's escapades there. and the judge who issued the ruling just happens to be a member of the national federation of republican women.

it never fucking ends.


a not-so-sad goodbye

now playing: the silence that follows the shutoff of the tv

today, i cut the cord.

as of this moment, i stand and hold my hand up to you and say, no more.

i am setting myself free of the perpetual heartache, the constant sense of tension brought about by wondering when the shoe will fall...for history has proven to me that it's not a matter of if, but when.

as of right now, i am a red sox fan no more.

it was so easy, early on...you were easy to fall for. the lovable underdogs, constantly railing against the evil empire - everyone loves a winner, but everyone's heart breaks for a loser, and i couldn't help but take up your cause.

the yankees were like the cute cheerleader...the homecoming queen...the most popular girl in school. you, boston, were the really smart, cute band geek that i couldn't resist being attracted to. i knew that you were something special, but you couldn't possibly compare to the homecoming queen in the eyes of the rest of the class.

so i allowed myself to be taken in by your rough-around-the-edges charm...and i've regretted it ever since.

you wasted no time going from a pleasant pastime to an addiction - a sorry-assed codependent relationship that was completely one-sided. no matter how faithful i was, you always let me down. you'd fuck up, and then you'd be back on my doorstep, saying all the things a spurned lover normally says in those situations....

"look, i've changed. i've seen that i haven't been what i should've been. look, i even went out and brought in schilling and keith foulke! i even cut nomar's non-productive ass loose, just to make you happy! it can be better than it was, i promise!"

and i fell for it. again.

you became like a drug to me, impossible to justify to myself, and just as hard to turn my back on.

but, like any addict who eventually beats their disease, i think that tonight you've given me the reason i need to say no to you.

tonight was the night you were supposed to make it all right. you were home, you'd taken a beating the first two games, but you were playing against a pitcher whom you'd ravaged in a regular season game that seemed like it was no more than half an hour ago...everything seemed to be in place. things were gonna turn around, i could hear you saying. we're gonna fix this.

when i turned off the tv in disgust, the score was 19-8.

i will not wait up to see what the final is, for i honestly don't care anymore.

there will be no more wasted hours in front of the tv watching you set me up to knock me down again, no more planning my evenings to make time to share with you. there are far too many other things that need and deserve my attention, and you've proven over and over again that you're simply not worthy.

i will not piss away my valuable time on a one-sided relationship.

so goodbye, boston red sox. and fuck you.

seriously, Fuck You.



now playing: sarah mclachlan, "fallen"

so dylan is resting at home - he slept a good chunk of the afternoon after having a pretty shitty night last night in the hospital. he woke up a couple of times feeling as though he was choking, and i think it freaked him out a little bit.

earlier in the night, he was still feeling the effects of his pain medication. the stuff they gave him had vicodin in it...and when they said the word "vicodin", he grabbed his sheet and pulled it up over his crotch and croaked, "that's not like viagra, is it?"

then later on that night, the nurse came in to check his temperature with one of those wonderful, high-tech thermometers that fits just inside your earlobe. after she retracted it from his ear once it had emitted its customary three beeps, dylan looked at her and asked, "how much do i weigh?"

when his sister asked him at one point how he was feeling, he said, "that stuff really takes the edge off...."

he's such a goofball.

i don't know where he gets such behavior....certainly not from his father, who was pulling latex gloves over his head and blowing them up from the inside.

he seemed much more laconic this morning than yesterday, though - after all the effects of the anesthesia had worn off, he was starting to feel stuff through the pain medication he'd been put on after the fact. he seldom made any attempts to speak this morning, and restricted himself to nods and shakes of the head, with a few exceptions. he was sooo eager, though, after the doctor having said last night that he could have actual food today, to get something to eat when we left the hospital. i took him straight from the hospital to the drive thru window at KFC and got him a large takeout order of their mashed potatoes, which he loves...once we got home and i got him situated on the sofa, he ate a pretty large bowl of them and didn't complain once about whatever sensation swallowing might've given off.

i'm glad i was there....glad i was there yesterday before he went in, and glad i was there today to spend the morning with him after his crappy night, glad i was able to take him home and hang on the sofa with him, watching tv while he drifted in and out of sleep after he ate.

i'm not sure why it is, really...that i've come to find parenting to be more rewarding as my kids have gotten older. the only real reason i can point to is my own level of maturity (or more accurately, the lack of such when they were younger). or maybe it was just that i didn't really have the grasp on it then that i do now. maybe it took their mom and i splitting up to drive the point home for me. i'm feeling like i might've talked about this here before, i can't remember. i just know that while i enjoyed my role in their lives when we were all a 'unit', i think that my general unhappiness with my marital situation overshadowed everything else enough that it dampered my appreciation for my overall situation. or, my marriage sucked just enough to keep me from realizing just how special those early years with my kids really were.

i'm glad that i'm in a place where this has changed considerably, and where i can still participate in their lives.

there is much going on politically right now - too much to tack a byline onto an entry to sum everything up, which is fine....i'll get back at it soon. promise.


autumn leaves

now playing: the innocence mission, "tomorrow on the runway"

last night barry gave his notice to stone road.

i knew that something was going on, taking into consideration the conversations that had gone down since friday - and barry had made it clear to darryl that he was unhappy, but i didn't think he was this ready to take a walk.

the odd thing is how indifferent to it i feel.

when we reorganized the band, it's hard to overstate what a shot in the arm barry was. he sang well, and he had a great range, and it really added to our vocal sound...now in the time since, what with shawn being exiled from the band, our vocal sound has suffered considerably, and with barry taking a walk, i'm not sure that doing songs with vocal harmonies is even within our grasp. donnie sings, and he can sing harmony if pressed, but it's not something that excites him..or so it would seem - outwardly, at least.

so where does that leave us? we decided initially last night that we'll attempt to find another bass player, because there were two clubs that wanted to book 2005 dates with us, and they wanted to book them yesterday. the consensus was that we'd go ahead and take the work, and if things didn't pan out with another bass player, we'd have the option to cancel down the line....and there are always bands looking for work that'd be willing to take the cancelled dates for us.

so that's where things stand at the moment, regarding the band.

i had known this was going to happen, though...i'm not sure how i knew, but i had even said to people in conversation that i didn't think the band would last past the end of the year. barry had actually said last night when he came in that he'd hoped that someone else would pull the plug before he had to quit, but that didn't happen so it fell upon him to bail.

so the question comes down to - will this actually die down to ashes, or do we decide to keep it going?

i'm torn, personally.

i'm not so certain that this will ever really regain its former stature, personally. i think that in order to get the harmonies back to where they used to be, we'd have to hire two players with strong vocals. i did mention to darryl that i felt that we took a serious hit when we lost quin, and he knows how i feel about that. quin was our ace in the hole...the thing that gave us an edge, that made us just a little better than the countless other area bands that had the traditional "beatles lineup" - two guitars, bass and drums - and when we went back to that, i was pretty dejected about it. i mean, even the great "guitar bands" from back in the day - skynyrd, the allman brothers, all these bands that were revered for their guitar playing - had great, a-list keyboard men in the band.

at this point in my life, i just don't want to be involved with anything mediocre.

nik's band is a bright spot, and there are a few other things unexplored on the horizon that i haven't really pushed - including some personal projects that i'd like to work on as time is freed up for them...especially now that the studio is falling together as well as it has. blake's record is being mixed, with new parts being added here and there, but it sounds great thus far. i'd like to work on more records as the opportunity presents itself, and i'd like to play in a really tight, close-knit band that has its shit together.

whether any of this happens or not, i can't say. we'll see what opportunities arise.

i walked outside earlier today to go across the street to the supermarket to root something out for lunch that wasn't a sandwich with the word "salad" in it - which is what i'd have settled for if i'd hit the machines in the lunchroom (seriously - every day here is an endless parade of egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, ham salad, turkey salad, ad infinitum...i'm waiting for them to introduce deer salad, squirrel salad, or quail salad as hunting season approaches)...

it was a typical fall day, for the most part - grey, but comfortable. brisk. i took a couple of deep breaths as i walked across the parking lot and remembered the drive back to work recently when i had gotten lost on the backroads and ended up taking an extended drive on a perfect day that was exactly what the doctor ordered. i thought about just continuing to walk down the road a bit, for no particular reason but to be walking - but today just doesn't feel as though it would have the same cobweb-clearing effect as the other day did. not that it wasn't somewhat invigorating to be outside, but my head feels a bit too cluttered today for any time spent in such a manner to have maximum effect.

tomorrow morning, dylan goes in for his surgery at 7:10am. i asked him last night, while we were driving home, if he was having cold feet...typical of dylan, he replied, "no, not really...but my face is a little chilly right now." he came home with (get a load of this shit...) a copy of gone with the wind. i asked him, "dude...you're reading that?"

he said, "well, yeah...i gotta do something while i'm sick."

he must be planning on being sick for a while....either that, or his inner drama queen is gearing up for a very busy week.

he did read the fan man by kotzwinkle recently, though, and got a real kick out of it. he usually doesn't comprehend books once he's read them - or at least he hasn't historically. but he was actually able to talk about scenes from the book, and recalled what he'd read...which was pretty much unprecedented, i thought. i was impressed. i think that maybe i'm finally witnessing the transformation of dylan the begrudging reader to dylan the curious.

maybe. just maybe.

don't bet any money on this yet. old habits die hard.

is there a sentimentality epidemic brewing?

i wonder, because everywhere i turn lately, i'm confronted with it...lazy breezes of nostalgia blowing in from here and there, wistful remembrances of the past cropping up sporadically. it's definitely permeating the blogosphere...i've read some things of late that just make my heart hurt. this entry at spencer's journal is a great example:

"Where is she now? I think about her now and then. I can't remember how she smells but I can remember her face clearly. I can't remember the way she walked or moved through a room but I can remember the way she danced. She looked like a marionette when she danced alone. And when she danced with me it was like she came alive. The female version of Pinocchio. I can remember what she felt like. The feel of her hands over my eyes when she used to find me in dark bar rooms. Pressing up against my back. I replay her voice like a scratchy, overplayed record in the dusty attic of my brain. I recall the jacket she used to wear. The way it looked on her. When I was near her no other woman mattered. And for a long time after she left my life it was the same. No other woman mattered."

i mean, that's just an achingly beautiful sentiment. without putting everyone whos' written anything remotely wistful on the spot, i'll just say that this isn't the only example of this i've come across lately. my friend mitch, for instance, surprised me at home on sunday and stopped by - he'd managed, after over 20 years, to track down a couple of his college buddies from ohio, and was justifiably excited about having googled them down to a phone number with a voice on the other end. rachel had an erstwhile visitor who linked to her relatively new blog (still has that "new blog smell") that's just laced with heartache and loss.

what is it about this time of year?

for a long time, i thought it was just me.

i still have memories of things like driving down the hill at hay creek on route 10 in october early on a saturday morning, with chris and jake and dylan in the van, and being mesmerized by the swirl of leaves both in the air and on the ground on our way to dylan's football game. i remember walking along the ridge above the christmas tree farm in mohnton with the kids' mom before we were even married, feeling the new briskness in the air and enjoying feeling the chill on my cheeks, relieved that i was finished suffering the staggering humidity of that year's summer. walking from our old house up the street to the school where jayda and dylan both went, to meet them and walk them home afterward. i remember going to a campground with jayda and dylan and chris and jake, raking huge piles of leaves so that they could jump into them and start all over again....hayrides at an orchard...

it's been a perpetual time of elevated emotional sensitivity and heightened nostalgia, for me. it's become inescapable, especially as i get older and i see my children rise from infant to toddler to kindergartener, then through to preteen and to their present states - both of my children are tall enough now to look me in the eye standing in front of me. i look in the mirror at the greying hair that has elected to remain on my head, into the tired eyes that have life left in them on some days, on others i stand there and brush my teeth and i'm just not sure if anyone's in there at all.

but then i go outside in the early afternoon to walk across the street for lunch, and the air is brisk...brisk enough to warrant the sweater that i just pulled out this morning for the first time, and walk across to redner's with my hands in my pockets...i can hear the kids on the playground at schuylkill valley school in the distance - i can almost see them across the field, but not quite.

i almost want to just keep walking.....


now playing: alison krauss, "stars"

just a few political thoughts today....from the inimitable david corn:

He (Bush) derides Kerry for having voted for one version of an $87 billion appropriations measure which funded US military operations in Iraq before he voted against the final version. And Bush argues that because Kerry has termed the war a "mistake" foreign leaders will not respond when Kerry asks them to become involved (or more involved) in Iraq. Both charges can be neutralized readily by Kerry. He need only clearly state that he voted for the version that suspended a tax cut for the rich in order to cover the funding, while Bush threatened to veto the bill if Democrats succeeded in attaching extra health benefits for GIs and troops to the package. A slight touch of humor would help: "Come on, Mr. President, I wanted to pay for this war, you wanted to charge it. And you we're willing to kill the bill if we in the Senate gave GIs additional health benefits. What mixed message did that send to our troops?" As for Bush's other line of criticism, Kerry could reply, "Mr. President, you're asking the world to stand by while you continue with a mistake. I'll be asking it to help us clean up a mistake. You may not see the difference, but I think many others will."

boy, i dunno why no one's said that yet....

in other news, it looks like republican brownshirts are subverting the voter registration process in nevada...germany's defense minister peter struck has apparently insinuated that germany might be a little more willing to play ball in iraq if the us undergoes its own regime change.

feeling patriotic? want to tell the world, republicans especially, why you think bush should be our commander-in-chief for, like, forever? well then get out your pencil and paper and maybe you can talk your way into a bush rally.

the disconnect from reality is almost complete.


...after you're finished reading this...

is blogger down?

now playing: fleetwood mac, "storms"

just to clarify...because i think i need to....

my subliminal yearnings to take out a supermarket with a now-legal automatic weapon are not politically motivated in their entirety. in order to perhaps give you some insight into my frustration, allow me to share with you the first email i received after arriving at work today:

Mail Message
From: Michael Gaza
To: Tom Hampton
Subject: internet
Message: is our email & internet down??

now obviously, he didn't get the email stating that email was down...otherwise, he'd have known that he couldn't email me to ask if the email was working, because there wouldn't be any email for him to use to ask me, right? now, i know that i sent the email stating that email was down, because i did it right after i got off the phone with the phone company to tell them that my phone wasn't working. i remember, because i was sitting in the dark due to the power outage.

more on sinclair

now playing: louisiana's leroux, "new orleans ladies"

well, it hasn't taken long for me to feel better about this whole sinclair situation. their stock is continuing to fall today, their advertisers are starting to pull their ads from sinclair stations, and their stock has the lowest rating you can get. add to that the fact that the DNC has filed an FEC complaint against them and you gotta figure the folks over there are starting to turn up the air conditioning in the boardrooms....

i'd be reeeeal interested to see what the FCC folks have to say about this. they were plenty quick to form an opinion about janet jackson's breast not quite a year ago...

the cool thing about this whole situation is all the other information that's starting to come out of the woodwork about this company.

a few other interesting observations here. also, josh at talking points memo is all over this, so stop by there often for more updates.

i have to start thinking about something else soon or i'm going to be a candidate for walking into a supermarket with an Uzi.


now playing: national anthem - inside the vote for change concert tour

so i've done something pretty unprecedented for me...i actually sat in front of the TV for almost four hours, watching the finale of the vote for change concert tour. some stuff i loved, some stuff i could've done without. i definitely enjoyed seeing david grissom playing with james taylor and the dixie chicks - not that it was the greatest showcase for his playing, but he did get to stretch a bit in a couple of short spots. this guy deserves much, much more recognition than he's gotten. he's just a phenomenal guitar player - he pulls these bends out of his ass unlike anyone i've ever heard, really. he's a grittier, more aggressive richard thompson or a john leventhal (who, phenomenally, has no website...WTF?).

overall, it was a good show...i've had mixed feelings about some of the rumblings of what oliver willis calls the shut up and sing crowd. barry, the stone road bass player, was ranting during the last gig about how musicians had no place being involved in this kind of thing...

i think barry and i will have to agree to disagree on this one.


i mean, maybe barry thinks it's ok for companies like sinclair to propogandize the public airwaves, but we should all fold our creative little hands in our laps and shut the fuck up.



(oh, by the way, day one of sinclair's little ploy hasn't played so well with their stock prices thus far. it'll be interesting to see if they get away with this shit.)

this is my buddy nik everett's so-called liberal media at work...

maybe all the 527's should get together, pool their funds, and pay to air going upriver a few days before the election, too...or at least if the stations refused to comply, a much louder foul could be yelled, maybe.

i dunno.

i'm just thinking out loud at one in the morning.

i'm tired of living amongst fucking idiots.



now playing: tom petty and the heartbreakers, "straight into darkness"

i don't think i spent more than half an hour in front of my computer all weekend, and it felt pretty good. i did some ebaying, looking at new monitors for the studio, but that was about it. i found out during my last session that the ones i'm using at the moment aren't getting the job done...the mixes i did for todd were a little muddy, probably due to my adding in too much bass in the mix to compensate for an obvious lacking in the bass response of the monitors i'm using now.

unless a real bargain becomes available between now and after the first of the year, though, i'll probably hold off for now.

collecting thoughts here....

i don't know what to say about the debates that hasn't already been said by folks on my link list who would probably say it better than i would...the kids and i went for chinese food and hunkered down in front of the tv in time to watch dubya lose his mind at charlie gibson, entitled little frat boy that he is...i couldn't believe it. after the debates were over, we flipped over to msnbc for a bit, and jayda got up to leave...she said, "i can't watch this. it's like they're all for bush to win, and they had their minds made up before the debate even started."

and she went upstairs to her room.

she's fourteen, mr. matthews...and she has your number.

anyway, let's see...the things that i actually did this weekend that i'd planned on doing:

* began garage reorganization, threw stuff out with the trash, set up workbenches along common wall and took some of the other stuff up to the garage attic that didn't belong downstairs.
* opened up the freebie wurlitzer organ in the studio to begin troubleshooting - no real progress made. i had originally thought that it may just need to be cleaned up to get rid of some of the intermittent problems with the keyboard, but it seems to go deeper than that...i may end up putting it on the curb, too, by thursday if i don't get a clear idea of what's wrong with it.
* reorganized the laundry room and washed every dirty item of clothing in the house as of sunday morning.
* all dishes in the house as of after dinner last night are clean.
* got dylan's computer up and running, hung his gigantic "school of rock" poster, and attached a wooden pegboard to his bunkbed for hanging stuff on.
* hung some of the posters, etc, in the studio that i got frames for.

what i didn't get done:

* assembling the wall unit upstairs in the garage.
* complete rebuild of the studio computer, to include installing the DVD burner that i bought for it months ago, memory upgrade, and new primary hard drives (serial ATA RAID configuration), reinstall XP and recording software.
* take dylan to see "shawn of the dead" (we're going to go this week before his surgery).
* organize what few medical bills that fall on my side of the desk so that we can submit them to insurance this week.

i think that, all in all, the list leaned in the direction i wanted it to. i'll probably tackle the medical bills tonight, though...i want to get that stuff in so that we can start evening this situation out a bit. we have an alternative benefits plan at work that i agreed to sock a hefty amount of money into, and it's looking like i'm not going to come close to getting it all back.

if worse comes to worse, i may have to (gasp!) go to the doctor myself for something. ack!

i extended an offer to fellow poconut dave isaacs to stay over at my place the last weekend of the month, since they're going to be in town for the poco/pure prairie league show in collingswood that i'm not going to be able to go to. we've exchanged emails in the past (he's a fellow musician) here and there, but i've never actually met him - remains to be seen whether that'll pan out or not. waiting to hear back from him.

i also got a call on friday night from darryl - the drummer from stone road. apparently, he'd just gotten off the phone with barry, our bass player, and he's not terribly happy with the way things are going in the band right now. i think that, in a sense, that's probably true of us all - i know that i've personally been on autopilot for some time now. but, apparently, the gist of barry's call revolved around the thinning of the crowds of people who come to see the band, and (this was the part that i found intriguing) the fact that we play the same songs over and over again.

now, it should be pointed out, barry is the guy in charge of the setlist...when we play live, he calls the songs out. we don't write up set lists in the traditional manner, we work from a master list - which barry has in his posession. he then calls the audibles out as we go.

so, i guess that in my mind, barry complaining about the set list would be like the cook complaining about what's for dinner.

but, at any rate, darryl and i talked about all this for over half an hour, and the decision we parted with was that we'd have a meeting on tuesday night to determine whether or not we were going to continue on from here or finish out the dates we have on the books and be done with it all.

should be interesting. i think that a number of minds are already made up, from what we talked about on the phone last week.

anyway - the tempo of this particular day has turned this post into another segmented, impossible-to-concentrate-on-fully diatribe...so i'll try to collect my thoughts later.


whattta WEEK i'm havin'....

now playing: loggins and messina, "watching the river run"

as your typical "week in review" might go, it could be said that this week probably coulda went a little better for the folks in power, huh?

and it's not over yet.

did not serve

now playing: lou rawls, "lady love"

courtesy of moby:

(probably an email forward, but important nonetheless...)

I love it when republicans say that Democrats are soft on defense and show no ability to lead in time of war. here are some of our contemporary leaders indicating who served in the Military and those who did not!

Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star &DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart,
Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea

Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage ("too busy to go").
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete).
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. (defends Kerry's war record)
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.

Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

scatterbrained (it's early)

now playing: pure prairie league, "boulder skies"

i think that the writing is finally on the wall for tom delay, the house majority leader.

let's all take a moment to shed a tear....

(for those who don't remember, he's the mastermind behind the campaign contribution offer to representative nick smith's son in exchange for his vote for the medicare bill, behind using federal resources to try to intervene in a texas state legislature vote, behind setting up bogus charities as an end-around to federal campaign finance laws...these are just a few of his "greatest hits". there's much more information available out in the blogosphere.)

also, some potentially good news for my computer customers - it looks as though the US is finally taking action to make spyware a jailable offense...of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be safe from, say, malaysian spyware...or spyware from any country other than the US, really...and - what with the internet being a worldwide thing, the legislation is somewhat akin to radar detectors being illegal in virginia, but readily available in north carolina or maryland.

also, i'm finding myself inexplicably drawn to this blog of late. the writing is quirky and yet strangely habit-forming. not for everyone, but i love it.

link forthcoming.

the kids and i have the house to ourselves this weekend - the wife has escaped to maine for a friends' wedding for the weekend. the debates are on tonight, and sunday i'm volunteering at riverfest to man the vets for kerry table for a few hours.

in between all that, i'm going to try to get the computer situation at home straightened out, once and for all...dylan is getting an XP upgrade and a hand-me-down CD burner, and jayda has some issues since her upgrade that i need to get fixed...plus, i'm completely re-doing the studio computer and i'm considering putting a file server in the basement for everyone to use, too.

and the thought of finishing the garage is still weighing on my brain, too. since i'll have to be up relatively early tomorrow to take jayda to upward bound at kutztown, i may actually stand a chance of getting this done. we'll see.

i also have to give some thought to my next how to be in two places at one time adventure on 10/29 - poco and pure prairie league in collingswood, nj while simultaneously playing with charlie in phoenixville at steel city coffeehouse. i think the more likely scenario is that i'll probably go out to collingswood to meet my buddy jon and maybe catch the soundcheck before the show and then head back to do the gig with charlie. there's really no other way to cut it any closer. there's always the possibility of shooting back out to jersey after charlie's show and hanging out with everyone afterwards...which could happen, but it'll be a "play it by ear" night.

i have jon's cell phone number programmed into mine, so we'll manage to coordinate something.

a most excellent quote

now playing: lynyrd skynyrd, "tuesday's gone"

one of my absolute favorite magazines is tape op, a recording enthusiast's magazine that embodies the indie principle as well as it's possible to do so, in my opinion.

the last page this month is headlined "why should you vote?"

the absolute best quote on the page comes from Sam Coomes of Quasi:

"I used to think, since the differences between the two major political parties in the U.S. are, from my perspective, pretty insubstantial, and that neither one of them seemed likely to address most of the deepest problems in this country in a meaningful way, that voting was a pointless exercise. Events have shown, however, that these relatively minor differences can have huge consequences...and the importance of voting has become quite clear."

lissen UP, people.


happy news, the sequel

now playing: counting crows, "omaha"

we've all heard how unsafe it is to travel around iraq outside the "green zone"...apparently, it's not so comforting to leave your room inside the zone, either.

more great news from iraq!

now playing: charlie degenhart, "chainsaws and violins"

man, i'll tell ya what...

if you thought abu gharib was an abomination, wait'll you see this.

this is the kind of thing that has the potential to scrape untold numbers of support our troops bumper stickers off cars across the country.

dude....these are college age kids who shouldn't have to fathom making these kinds of decisions.

o'reilly on the daily show tonight...in what turned out to be a very civil exchange.

anyone else see chris matthews savage the slack-faced bush supporter over on hardball tonight?



now playing: aimee mann, "stupid thing"

WARNING! this is an extremely long post (6500 words). allow time to digest. drink lots of water.

ok, ok, ok...enough with the poco chants on the comments, already...

i give.


alright, first of all, some history (for those of you who may be lacking the necessary backstory)...

once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of california, there was a rock band called buffalo springfield. they were a fine, fine band, with a great deal of talent. too much talent, in fact, to fit neatly within the confines of one band. there was stephen stills, a great guitarist and vocalist, and richie furay, a former bandmate in a new york-based folk group called the au-go-go singers. after their demise, stephen moved west with the intent of forming a band...but not before meeting an intriguing singer and songwriter from canada named neil young. in fact, stephen and neil had discussed working together during their brief acquaintance, but (according to stephen), neil was lured back into folk music when a female acquaintance mistook him for bob dylan...so they had gone their separate ways before stephen left new york for california.

when he arrived, he found putting together a band a bit more daunting than he'd expected to...so he called his pal richie in new york and "invented" an already-formed band in order to lure him west. when richie arrived in california to find that there was no band, you could probably just imagine his surprise.

so, as legend has it, stephen and richie were driving down sunset strip when stephen saw a hearse with ontario plates going in the opposite direction. from his interview in vintage guitar magazine:

"I'd met Neil in Thunder Bay, Ontario; I'd been up there working with a Cambridge, Massachusetts folk group. He came through with his band; he had a bass player(the legendary rick james) and a drummer, and was playing folk music on a Gretsch guitar. I heard what he was doing, and said: "That is it," because the other big influence on my guitar playing had been Chet Atkins. I'd gone to see Chet Atkins doing a demonstration at a guitar store in the late '50s, and of course, I fell in love with his playing, and I began Travis-picking all over the South.

I arranged for Neil to get into the States on a working visa, but he decided to be "...the Bob Dylan of Toronto," broke up his band, and started playing acoustic music in small clubs.

After about a year or so, I was in Los Angeles; I'd decided to try to get a band together out there. Richie Furay had been in that Cambridge folk group with me, and I'd hustled him into coming out to L.A. too, but up to that point all there was to our "band" was just him and me, and Richie was about to get disgusted and go home. We'd been searching for musicians all over town. I was on Sunset Boulevard, and I pulled up behind a hearse that had Ontario plates on it; I knew exactly who it was before I even saw who was driving. Neil had another hearse that had died in Thunder Bay, but this one was a Pontiac he'd driven all the way to California, and when I pulled behind him, he was actually looking for 77 Sunset Strip (laughs)! Bruce Palmer was with him; Bruce became the Buffalo Springfield's bass player."

and so the buffalo springfield was born out of a chance meeting of acquaintances on the sunset strip...

the band was cemented with the addition of dewey martin, who was coincidentally also from ontario, although he wasn't to make their acquaintance until he had already been a resident of the US for some time, having come to america to work with country singer faron young. the band was signed on the strength of a series of live shows at the legendary whiskey-a-go-go nightclub, and began their recording career soon after. upon the deportation of bass player palmer, their recording engineer, a bright young fellow named jim messina took his place on bass long enough to finish a handful of shows and their final album, entitled last time around. one of the songs on the album, a richie furay ballad called kind woman, featured a poignant pedal steel part from a player who'd flown out from colorado specifically to play on the album named rusty young. as richie and messina began to read the writing on the wall, they began talking with rusty about an idea they had for blending the instrumentation of country music with the energy of rock and roll...and once it became official that the springfield was no more, poco was born.

half of buffalo springfield ended up in poco, with the other half going on to eventually form crosby, stills, nash, and young. obviously, everyone knows about CSNY, but poco is a lesser known commodity...which is one of the more frustrating aspects of being a fan of a band that virtually defined an entire genre of music. poco took the seeds sown by the buffalo springfield and grew the music we know now as "country-rock" from the early strains of springfield songs such as bluebird and kind woman into a full-fledged, legitimate musical form emanated by such poco devotees as glenn frey of the eagles and gregg allman, who actually auditioned for the band at one point.

furay was poco's frontman, the focal point of the band, the acknowledged leader. the band of messina, furay and young were rounded out by george grantham on drums, with bass being handled initially by randy meisner (who played on the first record before leaving for the eagles), replaced by timothy b schmit, who would ultimately follow meisner into the eagles.

poco came out of the gates hard, but also set about their long string of bad luck right away as well...first in the form of a lawsuit by cartoonist walt kelly over the use of the name pogo (later shortened to its current form as a result of the litigation). the early departure of messina might've been an issue, but he was replaced by a formidable guitarist in paul cotton, who has remained with the band, for the most part, to this day.

poco, however, remains rock and roll's foremost proponent of murphys' law. if there was a wrong place to be at the wrong time, they were there. bad decisions regarding management, producers, you name it - they were, after all, the band who opted to play a high school auditorium instead of woodstock.

they hit their high note, musically and critically, with their 1972 album a good feelin' to know. that same year saw the release of the eponymous debut album by the eagles, who would overshadow them commercially for the rest of their respective careers. when good feelin' failed to achieve the success that most agree that it deserved, many of the bands' biggest supporters were fearful that it would end after that record. in fact, around this time, richie furay was being courted by record industry snake david geffen, who felt that he'd be the perfect third man for his new crosby, stills and nash sequel, and caught furay at the height of his disillusionment with the band he'd poured so much of himself into since the demise of the springfield...so richie left, leaving the band a foursome - rusty young, paul cotton, timothy b schmit, and george grantham. they continued on, making some of their best music during this time (in my not-so-humble opinion), including their albums head over heels and indian summer, among others.

this was the version of poco that i discovered as a kid, glued to the radio and soaking in every note of music i could. i was blessed to be able to pick up one of the few remaining maverick stations of the golden age of rock and roll on my cheap clock radio...the old WKIR-FM in jackson, tennessee. they played everything from pure prairie league to king crimson, often from one into the other, and i first heard poco there, just prior to timmy's leaving the band to follow meisner into the eagles and george's departure to move to nashville and settle down after the birth of his daughter, grace.

that left paul and rusty...but they weren't finished yet.

they reassembled new players for the band after beginning work on an album as the cotton/young band that eventually became legend, and would go on to become the biggest commercial success of the bands' career, yielding two top 40 hits, crazy love and heart of the night. their follow-up, under the gun, would also do well, yielding radio play for the title cut and midnight rain, but their momentum would peak and dwindle after that record, eventually relegating them to their previous status as B-list players. they continued to record and tour, releasing several more albums for several labels, including atlantic and mca, but neither radio nor notoriety would smile on them for some time.

in 1989 (the twentieth anniversary of the bands' formation), the original members of the band reunited and recorded an album called legacy, which welcomed furay, meisner and messina back into the band, to the exclusion of veteran paul cotton. this embittered a lot of longtime fans of the band (myself included), who felt that paul should have been part of the reunion project, "original members" mindset be damned. it cast a bittersweet shadow over the project, which yielded a hit single in rusty's call it love and a meisner ballad called nothin' to hide.

i knew nothing about any of this, initially...i had just gotten back to the states the year before, and was unaware that they were even working on a new record. i was folding my laundry at the kenhorst laundromat, idly watching TV when the video for call it love came on, and i just about flipped right out of my skin. but...as the song progressed, i started picking out members...there was richie, strumming a gretsch 6120, jimmy messina playing the lead breaks on a strat, rusty singing, and - cool! george behind the drums!...ok, randy meisner....but - where's paul?

i kept looking for him....and looking for him...but he wasn't there.

so while i was thrilled to see one of my favorite bands of all time back in the spotlight with their video on VH1, it rang hollow because paul wasn't participating. and, somehow, i knew that this couldn't have been his idea.

so, paul sat this one out while the rest of the guys hit the road - i saw them on TV at the farmaid show from indianapolis that year, while richie was still with them, but richie left soon after to return to his congregation (he's a pastor at calvary chapel in boulder, CO - and has been for many years). he was followed soon after, one by one, by everyone else who'd come on board for the reunion...which put rusty in the position of either allowing the band to disintegrate or bringing paul back into the fray. thankfully, he did the latter, and brought in tim smith on drums and richard neville on bass to complete the post-reunion lineup.

this was the band as it stood when i first encountered them, at a show in pittsburgh on a floating stage just off the river there. i wasn't sure who was in the band, but i was all too eager to jump in my van and make the five hour drive to be a part of it. i actually had called the promoters of the show, and had explained to them that i'd recently recorded an album (the amateurish cassette prelude to our mutual angels that i don't really count as being part of my recorded output at all) and that i'd recorded one of rusty's songs on the record, and that i'd like to be able to give him a copy if i drove all the way across the state to see the band, and he told me he'd do his best to make sure that i got to meet the band if i made the trip out. i even brought my legend album with me, in case i could get an autograph.

it was an outdoor show and there were driplets of rain forming on my windshield as i was heading into the pittsburgh area - i thought the show might be cancelled, but i lucked out. i sat down next to another poco fan very close to the front of the stage and waited for the band to come out...

...and there, strapping on his white fender stratocaster with the tortoiseshell pickguard, was paul cotton.

i was thrilled.

they opened with the title track from ghost town, complete with dry ice and drama, and went from that song into legend...when paul started playing the intro riff to that song, i felt myself tear up...i had a lump in my throat. i had resigned myself to the possibility that i'd never get to see this band live, and yet there they were, right in front of me...and with paul cotton! the guy who wrote indian summer, from the album that i used to leave on "repeat" on my stereo overnight while i slept as a teenager...the guy who played that amazing guitar solo in widowmaker, from blue and gray, the guy who played his guitar solo through a leslie speaker on good feelin' to know, the guy who came up with that great opening guitar part for railroad days...there he was, man!

so after the show, i gave rusty a copy of the first version of made of stone that i'd done, saying that "if i had thought there was ever a chance in hell that you'd actually be getting to hear this, i'd probably have worked on it a little harder...". rusty and paul were good enough to pose with me for pictures and the album cover they signed for me that night, during our first meeting, is hanging on the wall in my studio.

i didn't see them again for a few years - until i got wind that a local promoter was booking them at the roxy theatre in northampton. i lobbied hard for the gig and won the opening spot - i knew there wasn't anyone else in this area who could possibly be a better match on that bill than i would, but the promoter insisted on adding a third band to the bill between me and them (a common trick among the bottom-feeding promoters...get as many bands on the bill as people's patience will allow to maximize ticket sales among the bands' individual followings and bring out as many people as they can), but - and i have audiotape evidence - i definitely outshined the other band. the stage manager told me that in twenty years of doing shows, he'd never had an opening act asked to come out for an encore before...but the truth is, i didn't really care about that. i was there to see one of my favorite bands playing practically in my backyard, and that was all i really cared about. being on the bill with them was a thrill, but so was being able to stand on the side of the stage and take pictures, and hang with the band during soundcheck...

after the show, paul was upset that he'd broken a string during one of his favorite solos, but he came around. jim, the promoter, came over and told me that everyone was going back to the bed and breakfast where the band was staying after the show, and asked us to come along. todd and i were only too happy to comply, so we packed the car and off we went. when we got there, the guys were all down at the bar, and we went in and got something to drink and joined the hang...jim was pretty drunk not long after getting there, and was his usual anebriated, animated self...rusty was pretty tired, so he signed some autographs and went up to bed...tim and rich, the rhythm section, hung out for a bit but soon did the same. so todd and i had paul pretty much all to ourselves for the rest of the night. i got to ask him about the rumor that MCA wanted to sign poco as a country band, but they wanted session musicians to play on the records and paul to do all the vocals (turned out to be true - paul even told me about his meeting label president bruce hinton where the subject came up)...they had vh1 on the tv in the bar, and the video for "fade into me" by mazzy star came on...paul looked up at the tv and said, "look...it's don henley sittin' on a car..."

later, though, we were talking guitars and one thing led to another and i ended up going out to the car and bringing the acoustics back into the bar and we all sat there swapping songs until almost 5 in the morning. paul played "bad weather", and then i played and sang "good feelin' to know" with paul and todd singing harmony, and on and on...i remember paul remarking specifically about my D-18 being almost weightless because it's so light, and talking about working in the studio with donald fagen from steely dan on the indian summer album...

that night ranks with the birth of my children as one of the highlights of my life thus far.

imagine idolizing the work of someone whom you consider a master of a talent you share with them, and then collaborating with them on something, even if it's in a fleeting situation like a jam session...that's essentially where i was at that moment.

this was prior to the release of my album in 1997 by a bit, and prior to my becoming internet-aware...both had come to pass by the next time i'd cross paths with them. once i was online, i discovered that there was a whole community of poco fans out there who corresponded with each other via a listserver that had been set up, named after one of their albums. one of the folks on the list was grace grantham, daughter of george, the original poco drummer. grace was born with a neurological disorder which i won't discuss here, because she's a bright and intelligent girl who has come so far past the circumstances she was born into that it really is irrelevant. among the people i befriended on the list were grace and an illustrator from stamford, connecticut named jon rosenbaum. another was an industry fella named billy gerstein, who worked for a distribution firm. i found that there was a tight-knit group of folks who looked out for one another there, and who cared as much about this band as i did.

my friend jon had become good friends with grace, and as such, had formed a relationship with george grantham as a result...at first via email, and later by phone and in person. george is one of those incredibly geniune people with whom forging a friendship is pretty effortless. i had found that to be true of the other folks in the band when i met them, and i didn't figure george to be any different, really...but i hadn't made his acquaintance at all. he had left the band again after the legacy debacle and had moved back to nashville, where he had relatively regular work as a sideman. i didn't know what the circumstances were surrounding his having left again, and it hadn't occured to me to ask anyone.

jon and his wife, georgina, were wonderful to me...they invited me into their home, allowed me a place to stay on occasions when i was passing through their area on tour, and we all became great friends.

so, anyway...

i had signed on with new management in the form of matthew asbell - matt was an eternally optimistic music junkie who had managed to create quite a bit of buzz for his first client, michelle nagy, and i had separated from my manager that had carried me through the recording of OMA some time before. matt had brought michelle to the open mike at the grape street pub that i hosted and we'd hit it off during our initial conversation, and after much discussion he decided to take me on. he was a go-getter (a quality that had been somewhat lacking in my previous manager), and he immediately put me to work - i did a lot of double-bills with michelle at various places, and a few trips on my own as well, but we definitely made a lot of music conferences - which were in between the initial era of mistrust and the eventual era of mistrust during those days...

we took one trip - the three of us - that was roughly two weeks or so in duration, and would take us through maryland, kentucky, virginia (where matt and i split bunk beds at the home of the promoter of our show...i remember staying up while matt slept to email my daughter from his laptop to let her know how the tour was going) and ultimately to tennessee, for an NEA conference in nashville and the folk alliance conference in memphis, which were within a few days of one another.

now, nowhere we went were there actual rooms involved...we hobo'ed it the whole time. in memphis at folk alliance, i split a bed with garry lee from june rich, a philly band who were showcasing at the memphis conference (garry was always the ladies' man back in philly, so i promptly made a homemade bumper sticker for my guitar case that featured an impromptu drawing of the back of garry's dreadlocked head on a pillow that read "i slept with garry lee"). in nashville, we slept at the home of a friend of matt and michelle's - they slept on the sofa bed and i ended up sleeping with their friend.


(i knew you'd ask, so i just answered the question. ok?)

anyway, not long after arriving in nashville, we went to the NSAI office to check in...NSAI is a songwriter's organization that exists solely for the benefit of songwriters there, and they opened their doors to us...provided us with telephone and internet access and gave us the run of the guest office there. my own itinerary there included an in-store at Tower Records on thursday of that week, amongst the conference and other goings-on...we had planned on going to the NEA opening night show at the Ryman auditorium featuring Jars of Clay, who i knew nothing about at that point, but that's another story. (they were brilliant, amazing songs, and they were playing with an orchestra - and matt jerked me outta there because michelle was having a fucking meltdown over having left a ring she'd just bought on the sink in the ladies' room after washing her hands and had forgotten it there, so i had to leave in mid-show due to her theatric antics. this is but one example of this that i could cite over the course of my professional relationship with matt, there were many more. seriously, many. but i've already digressed more than i'd planned.)

anyway, while we were at NSAI, i had been perusing the entertainment listings for the week and saw that rusty young from POCO was playing at the bluebird on saturday night...well after we'd be on our way out of town. i lamented to the receptionist that i was going to miss rusty's show because we'd be on our way to kentucky by the time saturday rolled around, and that i was bummed about it, and that i'd cut one of poco's songs on my album and that rusty and i had met a couple of times, etc., etc....

she left the room for a moment - then came back and handed me a scrap of paper that read:

rusty young

she said, "i called him and told him you were here and he said to give you his number and to give him a call."

my colon clenched up so tight that if i'd stood up from the chair at that precise moment, the cushion woulda been sucked up into my shorts...

so, of course, i did just that...i told him that i'd made a new record and had re-done made of stone and that i was playing this thursday in town, doing an in-store at the tower records there in nashville...and he said great...i'm in town, i'll stop by to catch your set.

so if the cushion wasn't stuck yet, at this point there was no way they were prying it loose for a minute or two.

rusty young was coming to see me play.

rusty young was coming to see ME play!

i got off the phone and went into the other office and jumped on the internet...i had to let some people know about this.

no sooner had i logged onto the PC and opened up instant messenger on matt's laptop than i saw jon rosenbaums' screen name pop up...and he beat me to the punch.

before i could tell jon that rusty was coming to see me play, jon had something he had to tell me...he had talked to george grantham, poco's original drummer, who lived in nashville now, and had told him that i'd be doing an in-store performance at the tower records in nashville on thursday, and that he really should go check me out.

so george told jon he'd stop by to see my set.

ok, so let's review...both rusty young AND george grantham are coming to see me play at tower records in nashville on thursday.

just let that sink in for a minute.

two fifths of one of my favorite bands of all time...a band i used to listen to as a kid and marvel at their talent...a band that i had idolized ever since...are going to show up to see my set on thursday.

i had to stand up at this point to avoid any damage to any of the office furniture that might result from involuntary, personally humiliating, reactionary bodily functions.

you have to understand - even at this point in time, i considered myself a pro. i'd been playing in front of people since junior high school, and i really felt that i had the process down at this point....but i was petrified. i hadn't had stage fright since i was a kid. on occasion, for the right gig, there'd be a bit of adrenalin, but never anything that actually resembled fear.

i was scared to death when thursday rolled around.

also in attendance at the thursday gig were a webcasting crew who were in town covering the conference and a fellow named Tiger, who had played on michelle's record and was (i found out later), a big buffalo springfield fan and a great guitar player.

adding to my trepidation was the fact that i didn't really have any insight or background into the details surrounding george's having left the band the last time...was it on good terms? did he leave amicably, or were there hard feelings involved? worse yet, would rusty be pissed at me when george showed up? i mean, this did have the makings of a bad after-school special in some ways...lure the two feuding bandmates into the same public place without the knowledge or consent of the other....watch the awkward intial sighting turn into a poignant reunion...jesus keeHRIST, man! of course he's gonna be pissed! this is just some fan who happens to have a record in the stores, trying to play matchmaker to the divorced bandmates!

whaddaaaa marrOOOOOONNNNN....

i just knew, as i was pacing about before my show, that this could only turn out badly. i shoulda swallowed my ego and called rusty and made an attempt to level with him...."listen, here's the deal...this is what happened, and i hope you're ok with it..."

but i didn't.

i'm still not sure why, to this day, but i left things alone and chose to sweat it out...i certainly didn't feel like i knew rusty well enough to expect him to think i was levelling with him if i had called him, and i figured there'd be some way i could smooth this out if it did turn out to be a bad idea for both of them to be there, somehow.

as it turned out, though, i had no real need to worry about it.

i was onstage, two or three songs into my set, when i saw rusty walk in the front door.

almost simultaneously, i saw george moving up through the classical section towards the stage.

i should tell you that, as i mentioned before, i rarely (never, really) get nervous as a result of a performance, but i was petrified with regard to what was happening here...but in a few seconds, it was obvious that there was no need to have been worried. they greeted each other like old friends, and stood there chatting a few yards from where i was playing.

so, ok, now i'm not nervous about the potential bad blood anymore....but now i'm being sized up by my idols.

it's a hard thing...playing guitar while your hands are shaking.

i got through the set, though - and after a short interview with one of the most insightful guys i've ever talked to before or since, i went over and caught up with rusty and george, who had been chatting with each other through the last part of the show. i gave rusty a copy of the album and he split, and george and i talked for some time and made plans to have lunch at one of george's favorite mexican food places in town the next day before i was to leave.

i've got to say that some of the best food in the country is in nashville, as far as i'm concerned...this past summer, i had dinner with ed king from lynyrd skynyrd at the most amazing barbeque place i think i've ever eaten at, and the mexican restaurant george and i went to was just as good.

i got to ask all my questions, and george graciously answered every one of them, to the best of his abilities...one thing he said stuck with me: "when you've made as many records as we have, and did it that long ago, it gets real hard to remember who did what. this was just part of our everyday life, no different than getting up and going to work for most folks. a lot of people don't remember those kinds of details of their lives. hell, there are people on the internet message boards who know more about this band than i do, i think."

we also talked a little bit about my record, which he'd had a chance to listen to (thanks to jon) and had a lot of nice things to say about...so i sprang the question on him: you think you'd be interested in playing on the next one?

"sure", he said.

we talked about it a little more and i agreed to send him some of the demos i'd already been working on for the next record...and i said goodbye and we left for kentucky a few hours later. i was literally floating...it had been a great week (aside from the perpetual mental breakdowns that michelle subjected both matt and myself to during the whole tour), and we were on the homeward leg of our trip and i couldn't wait to get back, to see my kids, and to tell steve wellner (my producer) what had happened during the trip.

but - the fact of the matter (which would remain lost on me for a little while yet) was that neither steve nor longview were terribly enthusiastic about the prospects of embarking on a second album adventure. steve and i continued to meet, and had done sessions for what would have become the second record, but i began to sense that steve's drive - his sense of optimism and his unwavering belief in what we had done with that first album was eroding, a little at a time.

i think steve had been just as disillusioned about the lack of success of the first record as i'd been...we'd gotten great press, good reviews from insiders in the community and in the industry, but that didn't translate into anything concrete in terms of contracts or distribution or anything of that nature...and we were both pretty certain that it was only a matter of time before we had AAA radio kneeling before us once this record was done.

we turned out to be wrong...not about the success of the record as a work of art, but about the success of the record in terms of laying the groundwork for something resembling a career. we didn't sell many, nor did we think we would, but we didn't get as much attention as we'd hoped, either...

so, without going too deeply down that road, we can suffice to say that the second record - the one that george grantham would have played drums on and that paul cotton had all but agreed to play guitar on in discussions after the fact - never happened....and still hasn't, as of this writing.

but the good side is that our mutual angels had proven my abilities as a singer, a songwriter, and a musician to some important people, including myself...and it created some opportunities for me that i certainly wouldn't have gotten without it. it got some great reviews...in performing songwriter and rockpile, as well as in a handful of smaller publications around the country...soundwaves, a connecticut magazine, compared my songs to dan fogelberg's early work and bruce springsteen's tunnel of love era, for instance.

and i soldiered on for some time, before starting to make the subconscious transition to my current path.

the best review i ever got, though, came from a stage in the center of Springfield, Massachusetts. i'll tell you about that shortly.

in the meantime, though, jon and i would try to take in every poco show that came within a reasonable distance of us...one show in particular at the foxwoods casino, where mark was to interview paul for his magazine, poco shared a double bill with pure prairie league - we all went to the show, met paul, along with rich and tim, at the bar and sat around for a long time talking about nashville and the music business in general. paul was making a solo record, called firebird, and i offered my services, should he need someone in the band to cover some of the poco-esque instrumentation...we talked about it seriously for a bit before paul moved on as well...and as jon and i were walking back to the hotel afterward, jon let me in on a secret...

that night was the last night for rich neville and tim smith, where poco was concerned.

george grantham was rejoining the band.

apparently, way back there in nashville, in that tower records store, george and rusty had reconnected for the first time since the legacy split, and had started visiting each other on a regular basis. they both lived in the same town, after all, and they started splitting weekends cooking out at each other's houses and such, and had had an opportunity to rekindle their friendship...and as such, george ended up rejoining the band. rusty hadn't said anything to rich and tim yet, but george had told jon about it before we'd come up for the show.

so...what he was saying, in essence, was that my having contacted rusty in nashville, and his having subsequently contacted george about my in-store at tower records had been the direct catalyst that led to george rejoining the band that he'd helped form almost thirty years prior.

of whatever good things that came out of having recorded our mutual angels, that was the biggest, in my opinion.

the next show we went to, with george newly in the fold, was in Springfield.

i drove up to connecticut to jon's house and the two of us picked up our friend mark gould and drove to springfield to see poco play in the square. jon recorded the show on videotape, and paul cotton actually rode to the show with us in jon's car.

it was a rainy night, and there was a leak in the cover over the stage, but the show finally got underway...i stood off to paul's side of the stage so i could watch him play. a few songs into the set, rusty went to the mic and said, "we've got a lot of friends in the audience tonight...one of them is a great singer and songwriter named tom hampton...."

"tom recorded one of our songs on his most recent record, and we liked his version so much that we started playing it again...so this one's for tom."

they then went into "made of stone", the song that i'd recorded on OMA...

that was the best review my record ever got.

not many people get a chance to even brush up against their idols...i got the chance to get to know my idols personally, to be a part of their lineage, to influence them in a small way, i think - they went on to go back into the studio and record running horse, their first album of new material in over a decade, with george back in the band on drums and a great bass player and songwriter, jack sundrud, joining rusty and paul to complete this recording incarnation of the band. and they resurrected a song from their past as a result of my having resurrected it first.

if you're a musician, if you're an artist of any kind who holds someone else up as a source of inspiration or motivation, then you know how huge this was for me. it justified the effort i had put into honing my craft and striving to achieve even a piece of what they'd managed to do. this is a band that fathered an entire genre of music. how many people can that be said about? bill monroe. chuck berry. b.b. king. hank williams.

and poco.

senator gone?

now playing: david crosby, "laughing"

the folks at the "hometown newspaper" cheney mentioned last night would like to clarify.

mr. VP, you are still not being straight with the american people...

now playing: graham nash, "simple man"

boy, oh, boy...

has the shit ever been flying around today, with regards to the lies Cheney dropped so effortlessly last night as proof of his statements....

i don't want to walk in the footsteps of others who've already done the work, but i do want to touch on a few of these - for the benefit of those who don't often visit any of the sites over to the right...

over at daily kos, the debunking machine has been going full force since before the debate was even over. they were the first site (to my knowledge) to actually display pictures of cheney and edwards together right after cheney made the statement that "In my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."

apparently, not only were they together at the 2001 prayer breakfast pictured above, but edwards also escorted elizabeth dole (whom, i might note, has skillfully evaded the "carpetbagger" label attached to hillary clinton when she ran for senate in her non-native state when she ran for senate in a state other than kansas) to her inauguration, which was presided over by...

...yeah. dick cheney.

(if you click that last link, you'll note that it's been mentioned that Tim Russert has said that the two actually met backstage on his show, as well...)

atrios was on this literally minutes after the debate concluded.

now, going back to what he said about being "up in the senate most tuesdays...."

another diarist (still hate the word "blogger") over at kos managed to do some research and found that edwards has actually presided over the senate as many times as cheney has this past four years....twice each. Edwards presided over the Senate on october 16th, 2001 and march 5th of 2002...while cheney saw fit to show up on november 12th of 2002 and january 7th of 2003.

twice each.

i brought upon myself the misfortune of having left MSNBC on afterwards, and i couldn't believe my ears...if there'd been five pundits instead of four, i don't know how they'd have arranged their heads so that they could all kiss cheney's ass simultaneously the way they did.

Andrea Mitchell: "I think Dick Cheney did awfully well at, first of all, putting John Edwards in his place, saying that I have been presiding over the Senate and I didn't meet you until tonight. Talking about his not having been on the job was pretty devastating."

Scarborough: "You know, I got in trouble last week when I said George Bush lost that debate. I tell you, tonight, no doubt about it. Edwards got obliterated by Dick Cheney."

Chris "Tweety" Matthews: "I think the analogy would be a water pistol against a machine gun. Every once in a while, Edwards would take a squirt at the vice president, and then the vice president would just turn the Howitzer on the guy."

Ron Reagan was in over his head trying to balance out the rest of the puckered-up lineup last night...but thankfully, olbermann was watching the same debate as the rest of us:

"A major truth foul has been declared against Vice President Dick Cheney, and his narrow victory over John Edwards in last night's Light Heavyweight Debate has been overturned by the Boxing Commission scoring the bout (me).

While rounds were scored even and Edwards was ahead on points at its conclusion, Cheney had been awarded the contest on the intangibles and the overall impact— largely because of a memorable phrase that underpinned his left-right combination that nailed Edwards in the solar plexus of his inexperience and the breadbasket of his alleged prioritizing of electioneering instead of Senatorial work: "In my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."

But Cheney and Edwards have met at least twice, once inside the Senate. Who did the Vice President know, and when did he know him?Within an hour of the last of the 21 rounds, a "freeze frame" from a C-SPAN telecast of Senator Edwards and Vice President Cheney at a 2001 Prayer Breakfast was being circulated around the internet.

And by morning, the Kerry-Edwards campaign had produced irrefutable evidence that when Elizabeth Dole was sworn in by Senate President Cheney as the junior senator from North Carolina just last year, it was Senator Edwards who (with her husband) escorted her to Mr. Cheney. Senator Dole was sworn in using Mrs. Edwards' bible."

those pretty much sum up the two main points...although there's certainly a thing or two to be said about cheney's denial that he ever linked 9/11 and iraq, but that's old news.

at least he was good enough to direct people to a non-existent "factcheck.com" site to get the facts on his ties to halliburton, the site was only to happy to bite the hand that misidentified it:

"Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us "FactCheck.com" -- and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton.

In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right."

i was a little disappointed after the debate, frankly...i was fully expecting cheney's head to change colors and burst like a big water balloon at some point, what with his famous temper and all - so it wasn't the home run i thought it'd be...but it was a solid extra-base hit...and i think the post-debate debunking will probably drive the run in.

however, i'll say this one more time...if one of these assholes doesn't soon put the 87 billion dollar issue to rest, i'm going to bust a blood vessel.

it's very simple. here, i'll even say it for you...

"there was a huge difference between the $87B i voted for and the $87B i voted against...and the american people should know that your president was already threatening to veto the second $87B, because we wanted it to be a loan, and george w. bush wanted to make it a gift. he wanted to hand your tax dollars over to iraq without any strings attached. so, yes...i voted against it."

sorry, man...but how fucking hard IS that?


debate poll results...thus far

now playing: daily show

poll results, thus far (as of 11:20pm on tuesday):

Source -------------------Edwards--------------Cheney

NBC10.com:----------------22422 (77%)---------6304 (22%)
FoxNews.com:---------------8378 (56%)---------6,344 (42%)
CNN.com:------------------44745 (82%)---------7708 (14%)
Yahoo.com:----------------19181 (62%)---------10071 (33%)

personally, i thought that the minute that cheney whipped out the line about never having met edwards until they met on the debate stage, it mighta been over.

not the homerun i had hoped for...i had been predicting that cheney's head would turn bright red and explode, but it looks like there are plenty of folks who feel it went edwards' way.

now let's see how the spin plays out the next few days.

couple of lengthy posts coming up tomorrow. sleep coming up ASAP.


emerging from the fog of the weekend

now playing: dee carstensen, "beautiful"

man...i do this to myself every week, knowingly, and yet i seem to refuse on the important level to break the cycle.

three hours' sleep last night...or, more accurately, three hours of less-than-restful napping with an on-again, off-again eye on the clock next to the bed, jarring awake every so often out of a subconscious paranoia that i would oversleep and fail to get those who rely on me to their appointed destinations. this is, of course, followed by a short series of gropes for the snooze button - prepared for in advance by setting the clock to a minimum of half an hour before i need to think about getting out of bed in the first place...because i know myself well enough to know that i don't budge on the first bell.

and then, as the week progresses, i stay up late pretty much every night of the week (i rarely get to bed before midnight) and by the time the weekend rolls around, the chances of my getting out of bed on a saturday morning before 11am are pretty slim.

i run and run and run until i completely burn myself out, and then i overcompensate for the lost rest on the weekends...and as such, weekends have become a pretty non-productive time for me - what with so much sleeping going on.

there are leaks in the roof in the garage that need my attention, a pipe that angles up from underneath the floor in the ceiling of the basement has a leak that's dripping into the ceiling tile in the basement, i want to finish weeding around the edge of the house and put down new mulch to settle in before the weather starts to change in earnest, i have shelves to put up in the space above the garage, i have cabinets sitting in the garage waiting for me to assemble them and reorganize, so that i don't feel the weight of the work needing to be done hanging over my head there...these things - well, some of them, anyway - require that i make use of what's left of the waning daylight.

i have another weekend to myself this coming weekend - no gigs, no one else in the house but myself...but i already think i know what'll be consuming most of my time this weekend, now that the studio is fully functional and the drums have returned.

i don't know if it's safe to discuss within these bounds (because i don't know if our victim is a visitor here or not), but a good friend to me and to my music has a birthday coming up soon, and something is in the works to commemorate said birthday, and i can't think of anything that would make this person happier than to have the first and only existing copy of some new tom hampton music, so i think i'm going to work on that this weekend...but there's no reason that has to be to the exclusion of other things.

the release party on friday for the new nik everett album was amazing...lemme tell ya - when you get used to ambling over to the corner of the bar to pick up your guitar and nonchalantly start playing for whatever group of drunks have assembled in whatever room you happen to be in, there's something extremely gratifying in the details...walking out of a dressing room and into a darkened hall to the cheers of an audience who came specifically to hear the songs you're going to play that night, being properly announced to an appreciate crowd, and being called back for an encore after your set when you've played well. this particular club has a great reputation for music in philadelphia, and it lived up to it on friday night.

it's funny, i've played this place maybe half a dozen times with almost as many different artists, and every time i play there it seems that enough time has passed since the last time that i completely forget how small the stage is. i went in there with almost a dozen different instruments - mandolin, hawaiian guitar, dobro, etc - all things that i'd planned on using on different songs, but it was simply not to be. i managed to make do with four guitars and a lap steel, and we just left out the different colors that i'd been planning on bringing to the party. there'll be other gigs, though...that's one of the reasons that (i assume) people hire me - for my versatility...as much so as whatever i might bring to the party musically.

i had a great aftershow - blake was there, as well as marc moss from target studios (where both the nik album and the upcoming blake album were/are being mixed) and my buddy marty higgins, and we all went across the street to a bar called "the grog" after the show to hang out and talk...i discovered that i miss being out of the loop sometimes. i enjoyed standing around and discussing gear and talking about the injustices of the music business and about how there are so few musicians who really understand what it means to play for the song and put their egos and their chops (or lack thereof) aside for the greater good. marc had a lot of input about this, since he probably suffers many more instances of this than any of the rest of those of us who were talking about it..what with him being a professional producer/engineer and all...

i remember thinking while we were talking that there's just no friggin' way i could run a professional studio and deal with clients whose music i didn't have a personal interest in...i'd go completely crazy recording crappy bands that i had no emotional connection to. but - if i could do five blake albums or five marty albums every few months, i'd be in good shape.

i did do my first outside session this week - my old buddy todd came over to work on a recording and brought a vocalist and an upright bassist with him. i had a couple of strikes against me out of the gate, namely that i hadn't gotten the entire studio set up the way i wanted it before we started, and that i didn't have enough of what i considered to be quality microphones to record an ensemble all at once...but, oddly enough, everything worked out pretty well. we started on thursday night and did about three hours' worth of work, and then todd came over yesterday afternoon to mix what we had. it was a pretty sparse mix - it was a bluegrass version of an iris dement song, "hotter than mohave". (yeah, yeah, i know...saying "bluegrass version of an iris dement song" is kinda like saying "country version of a hank williams song" in a way, but there ya go. whatever.) at any rate, we did hit a snag or two during the recording process and the mixing process, but everything that we ran up against worked itself out rather quickly, and everything went quite well.

well enough that i'm actually looking forward to recording some other stuff soon...i'm going to completely redo the PC that sits in my equipment rack, upgrade it and install some new components...and then i'll be ready to go. i need to start looking at other soundcard solutions as well, something with more inputs and with the ability to import ADAT tracks via the optical interface found on the ADAT machines. i've created an unspoken goal for myself to upgrade both the soundcard and to add to my microphone inventory after the first of the year.

in the meantime, here's a shot from friday night (disclaimer: i gave myself a very slight photoshop haircut.)


debates...and an unnerving picture...

now playing: replay of the first presidential debate

ok, it's very late - almost 2 am...didn't get to watch the first run of the debates, as i was engineering a recording session in my basement for some friends.

i've also been working on a huge post as requested by my buddy mitch since monday, in fits and starts...still not ready. soon, though.

a few things...first of all, polls are overwhelmingly reflecting a kerry win in the first debate. this is wonderful.

however, let's see what happens with the domestic spin within the next few days.

i'm not ready to get worked up just yet. i'm waiting to see what the thugs on the right have up their sleeve.

it was extremely gratifying, though, to see karl fucking rove stuttering on c-span earlier.

oliver willis has a picture on his blog that you should go see if you still think that things are going swimmingly in iraq.

i still agree with josh's quote linked in one of my previous posts...if you don't get it by now, you're not going to.

so maybe you don't really want to see that picture after all.

must sleep - big day tomorrow.