Video Fridays: Happy Birthday, John Lennon!

lennonSo, John Lennon would have turned 75-years old today if some lunatic with a gun hadn’t taken him down nearly 35 years ago.

Don’t get me started again on guns.

Lennon was a polarizing figure for sure, a flawed human being like everyone else, but there’s no question that his is one of the greatest stories in music history, and I’ve got to say that he’s been a huge influence on me, musically and otherwise.

John Lennon, the Beatle, seemed to have everything: superstardom, adoring fans, a critically acclaimed body of work, a loving wife, and a beautiful son. He could have coasted the rest of his life on that wave, but he chose to evolve as a musician and a human being, gradually drifting from the relatively clean-cut guy who wrote Please Please Me, to psychedelic poster child, to hippie activist, and beyond, never looking back.

He alienated his fans, he alienated his songwriting partner, he left his wife and son, and he left the greatest band the world has ever seen.

Like I said, one helluva story.

I’ve never been one to argue who the best Beatle was, as is common amongst fans, and I never disliked any of them, though I’ve not always liked all over their post-Beatles material.

And yet, there’s no doubt that John was my favorite. I’ve always, on the whole, loved his music more than the work of the others, ever so slightly more in some cases, and yet it was his emergence as a peacenik activist in the late 1960s that won me over completely. That he was willing grow out his hair and beard in the face of stifling and oppressive conservatism, that he was willing to leverage his massive celebrity to promote love and peace at a particularly volatile period of history, moved and influenced me deeply.

Yes, you were not and still are not the only dreamer, John.

But like I said, he was no angel. He was part hippie and part raunchy Rock&Roller, kinda like me!

And so, for this Video Fridays installment, I thought I’d show both sides of John Lennon, starting with his first overtly peacenik song, All You Need Is Love, a song that, in it’s message, however naive some may call it, still makes my eyes drip; and followed by one of my all-time favorite live performances, the White Album track Yer Blues, performed with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell at the 1968 Rolling Stone’s Rock & Roll Circus.

Happy Birthday, John, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

If More People Were Into Extreme Shepherding, The World Would Be A Better Place

shepherdingThere was a time, not long ago, when I would watch a video like the one below and cynically dismiss it as the product of people with WAY too much time on their hands.

But when I watched the following earlier today, posted by a friend on Facebook, I had a very different reaction indeed.

With all of the horrible, destructive things that humans are prone to spend their time on, if more people were to be wrapped up in innocent, playful, harmless activities like Extreme Shepherding (you’ll see), I really do think the world would be a far, far better place.

See, I’m still shaken up by the shooting at Umpqua Community College last week, and as details have emerged about the paranoid delusions of the shooter’s mother, the power trip of deadly weapons shared by gun owners all over the country, the glorification of and longing for a return to Wild West justice, is indicative of a community of people who invest an enormous amount of time and energy in the culture of guns.

Ironically, this is how one of the shepherds involved in making the video below describes the project (my emphasis added in bold):

“We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts.”

If only…

Guerrilla Grafters: A Refreshing Conflict

Photo: Tom Levy,
Photo: Tom Levy,
With all of the acute conflicts going on in the world — the Haves vs. the Have-Nots, climate change deniers vs. science, gun control advocates vs. the NRA, Caucasians vs. people of color, Jews vs. Muslims vs. Christians, etc. — conflicts of such great and often terrible consequences, how refreshing it was to read this morning about a conflict going down in San Francisco that is wonderfully small-scale, at least for now, and while some might call it trivial, I’d prefer to think of it as quaint, but not at all in a bad way.

Via the San Francisco Chronicle:

Hui and Goldberg are members of the Guerrilla Grafters, a loose-knit band of undercover orchardists blending farming and urban activism as a way to spark debate about the use of public space. For the past two years, the Grafters have been secretly attaching fruit-bearing branches, known as scions, to non-fruiting plum, pear and apple street trees.

City officials in San Francisco call their actions unlawful. Urban architecture connoisseurs call it groundbreaking: The grafters’ subversive project is being featured in the U.S. pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale’s 13th International Architecture Exhibition opening Wednesday.

Now, on the property of a house I used to live in, we had a couple of ridiculously prolific Italian plum trees, a pear tree, and an apple tree. As a result, every year in late summer and fall, so much fruit dropped in our yard, more than we could have ever consumed, we were never into canning, and so walking around the house was like navigating a minefield, one step, two steps, three steps, squish!

So, I kinda get the concern of SF city officials who worry, as the article states, of slip hazards from fruit falling on sidewalks and streets, BUT I tend to agree with the Grafters who argue:

“With grafts you only have a few branches that are bearing, and it’s really very manageable,” said Goldberg. The Grafters also say that stewards and gleaners can ensure that ripe fruit from trees they graft is safely harvested. They say they can also help maintain trees needing pruning, propping or watering.

This conflict says so much about urban life in the U.S. these days. A simple, natural and historically nourishing occurrence — fruit growing on trees — is seen as undesirable while poverty persists and gentrification pushes lower income residents out to the margins of the cities.

It’s not that middle and upper class urbanites don’t like fruit. It’s that they want it picked for them and neatly arranged in colorful displays at their local farmers market, evident by a 76% increase in the number of U.S. farmers markets from 2008 to 2014.

First World problems, indeed.

Cognitive Dissonance Hurts My Brain

headache-smileyNot much else to say about this, other than what my post title suggests.

The cognitive dissonance in a piece this morning at hurts my brain (emphasis added by me in bold):

A vigil was held in Roseburg, Ore., last night, hours after a man killed nine people at the local community college. Investigators say the man behind Thursday’s shooting is also dead — and the local sheriff says he’ll never say that man’s name in public. Seven people were wounded in the attack.

“I will not give him the credit he probably sought, prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” Sheriff John Hanlin said in a briefing about the shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Hanlin later told CNN that he doesn’t want “to glorify his name or his cause.”

The alleged gunman is 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, who lived in a town near Roseburg, a logging community with around 22,000 residents.

Godamn Guns

no-guns-allowed-bloodyAs of this writing, 9 people are dead, slaughtered today by a now-dead-as-well gunman at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
A slogan used by gun rights advocates

See, the problem with this statement is that if we wait until a gun owner is dead before we pry their weapon(s) from their rigor mortis hands, there is a very good possibility that the gun owner has already killed people.

To Man Bun, Or Not To Man Bun?

man-bunWhen I first heard my 17-year old son refer to some guy’s hairstyle as a “man bun”, I chuckled heartily.

Little did I know at the time just how much of a thing man buns are!

See, I’ve lived here in Bellingham, Washington for 22 years, and there has always been a visible, healthy, active, engaged hippie presence in town. Since the late 1960s, men with long hair, tied up or flowing freely, have been decidedly commonplace, and so modern hipster culture‘s embrace of long hair, and the man bun in particular, just didn’t register for me.

Well now, thanks to an article at Vox titled Man buns, explained, posted by a friend on Facebook today, I know much more about this trendy-once-again hairstyle than I thought I needed to know, including the names of some of the many man bun variants:


Interesting timing, all this, because I just got a haircut, my hair had reached a length that could very nearly support a man bun if I was so inclined, and yet I have a very complicated relationship with my hair, it’s a hair paradox, really.

I’m the type of person who prefers a low-maintenance appearance, partly based in an effort to avoid vanity, and partly out of simple laziness. I prefer to spend as little time looking at myself in the mirror, fussing with clothes and hair and such. I’ve got MUCH more important things to spend my time on!

And yet, my hair is a major pain in the ass. It’s incredibly thick, curly, and dry and frizzy. It’s easiest to simply towel dry and forget about it when it is very short, but it grows so damned fast that I’d have to get a haircut every other week to keep it that easy, and yet, paradoxically, bi-weekly haircuts are not low-maintenance at all!

Conversely, if frequent haircuts are too much maintenance, you could argue that another solution is to just let the hair keep growing and eventually tie it up into a ponytail or, I don’t know, let’s say, a man bun, and forget about it.

Only, with hair like mine, the longer it gets the more work it takes to tame it: more shampoo to get it clean, more conditioner to keep if from being ridiculously frizzy, more time painfully running a brush through it to get out all of those insidious knots, cuz no offense to Rastafarians everywhere, but I ain’t doing dreadlocks.

Conclusion: Even if I was a hipster, which I’m decidedly not, and may be too old to try to be with any self-respect, (See the recent Noah Baumbach film While We’re Young), the answer to the question “To Man Bun, Or Not To Man Bun?” is clearly: Not.

Eyecatchers: The Street Art Of Oakoak

oakoak-1Hey, everyone! Fish & Bicycles is back on the air after a particularly busy period paying the bills, so to speak.

So, let’s kick things off with an Eyecatchers installment, featuring the Street Art (a favorite genre of mine) of French artist Oakoak.

I stumbled upon Oakoak via a photo gallery at The Guardian, and I’m so glad that I did. His work ingeniously adds painted, stenciled, or pasted images and other materials to existing urban elements, such as the manhole cover in the first photo here, resulting in clever compositions, in a humorous vein.

Oakoak is quoted by The Guardian, describing his work thusly:

What I like about street art is that you can find somewhere to draw anywhere and it is a surprise for the people who find it. Any wall can be a canvas.

He really has a great eye!

Below are some of my favorites, but please do take the time to view the whole gallery at The Guardian, and even more of his work at his website.