Tweet of the Day: #shepardfairey

Two cool Shepard Fairey-related tweets today!

LOVE, in the video from the first one, hearing his perspective on the value of street art and the analogy he makes with music.

Check it out!

Video Fridays: Flaming Lips’ World Record

I’ve been a big fan of Oklahoma City, OK’s purveyors of psyechedlic music, The Flaming Lips, for a few years now, and so the last few days have been exciting, as the Lips attempted to break rapper Jay-Z‘s Guiness World Record for most concerts in a 24-hour period.

And break it they did, in grand fashion.

Unlike, Jay-Z, who used his private jet to perform seven shows from Atlata, Georgia to Los Angeles, California in 24 hours, the Lips traveled by bus to eight venues from Memphis, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana in the same time frame, all of it streamed live as part of the 2012 O Music Awards.

In a bizarre coincidence, on the same day that the Flaming Lips started their record attempt I found out that the band I’m currently in, after having only played three gigs in the past three months, has been booked for three gigs in 72 hours this coming week, a private party on July 4th, and then a doubleheader on July 6th, 6-8pm at one venue and 9pm to, well, very late, at another. Add in rehearsals Tuesday and Thursday nights and the week will easily be the biggest music marathon I’ve ever participated in.


And so, for this week’s Video Fridays installment, I’ve chosen a clip of the song the Lips played as they officially broke the World Record. Appearing quite ragged after 24-hours of shows and miles and miles on the bus, I can only imagine that I’ll be similarly wiped out by the closing of our last gig on the 6th.

So, for now, Happy Weekend, everyone!

(Click on the following image to view the video at the O Music Awards site.)

Reunion Revisited

So, I mentioned recently that I was just on vacation (Post 1, Post 2), but what I didn’t mention is that it was more than a vacation.

Much more.

Back in March, I wrote about how I was adopted at birth, how I didn’t know I was adopted until I was 12 years old, how, from that point forward, I knew nothing at all about my biological parents except the name (misspelled until about a year ago) of my birth mother, and how, after years of on-and-off searching, I’d finally located and had contact with her.

I didn’t post anything about the two and half hour phone call we had soon after, and nothing at all since on the subject, for two reasons: 1. Nothing against diary-like blogs, but, only with occasional exceptions, Fish & Bicycles is not intended as a personal journal about my day-to-day life; 2. The experience of reunion had been so abstract — just some emails, a voice on a telephone, and some photos on Facebook — as well as emotional, confusing, and even scary, that I haven’t felt able to write anything about it.

That’s all been changed by the trip to Arizona.

Cuz, you see, a road trip to Sedona, Flagstaff, Glen Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Canyon was only the second half of the adventure.

The first half: A 4-day visit with my birth mother and my two “new” siblings, a brother and a sister.

Prior to the trip, and for some years now, I’d done a lot of research about adoption reunions, and so I was well aware that I was VERY fortunate to have not been rejected, and, on the contrary, to have been warmly welcomed into the family.

Backtracking a little…During the phone call back in March, culled from my two, single-spaced handwritten pages of notes, the following highlights:

  • I was the result of a chance meeting, no-names-exchanged, one-night fling in the Catskills, and my birth mother never saw my birth father again. Consequently, there is no way I will ever be able to locate him, leaving half of my biological and cultural identity forever incomplete.
  • My mother’s family is of Jewish Russian and Polish heritage, making it feel more fitting that I was raised Jewish, even though I’m now more of a Buddhist than anything else.
  • My mother, upon telling her parents about the pregnancy, was told to either “get rid of it” or she’d never be allowed back in their home.
  • My brother and sister, now both in their early 40s, four and seven years younger than me respectively, were told of my existence when they were in their late teens and have since wished they could meet me. Kinda explains why they so eagerly flew out from the east coast in order to do so.

Fast Forward to June 16, 2012, my wife, son, and I arrive in Arizona in near-100°F heat and are welcomed by the smiling faces of my mother and her boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend, and my sister. We spent our time together sharing our life stories, looking at photos, and going for daytime outings in various configurations.

I should say that I struggled a bit with what my expectations should or should not have been concerning what the reunion would be like. What should I feel when we meet? How will they feel when we meet? Should I cry? Should they? Should I call them “Mom”, “Bro” and “Sis”?

Trying to sort through all of that was confusing, but it in no way spoiled the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone.

That said, it mostly felt surreal. For instance, I really loved meeting my birth mother, and yet, when I was with her, without a lifetime of familial bonding, I was unable to see her as my mom, and I can’t quite think of her that way even now.

I’d be sad about that if it weren’t for something my genius of a son said to me when I tried to explain this to him, “It’s ok to be friends first and then family.”

Finally, after thinking about this a lot, I’ve come to feel this way about it all:

We’ve only just met, we haven’t had 47 years of knowing each other, but now that we have met, we’ve started building relationships, and that is a very, very good and wonderful thing.

A Moment Of Gratitude

I’d like to take a moment to thank my readers, including:

As a result of the sheer volume of visitors from Freshly Pressed, as well was the fact that for most of my vacation I was unable to use my computer or iPhone for more than a few minutes at a time, I wasn’t able to acknowledge much less respond to everyone. And while I have a disclaimer on my About page, declaring my inability to engage with everyone who visits, I still feel a need to express my thanks today.

To have been able to take a break from the blog for 10 days and still see notifications for new Likes, Comments and Follows filling up my email inbox while I was on the road, made me feel really, really good.

So, simply, thank you!

Antelope Canyon–Page, AZ

Best of Fish & Bicycles: Stuff We Need: The ultimate dung beetle

Originally Published: August 6, 2010

So, I have to say, as much as the idea of poo-power makes me a little squeamish, biomethane currently makes more sense to me as a renewable energy source than any other I’ve read about. When you think of just how much bio waste we humans and our livestock produce, when you consider how much carbon dioxide is released by all that waste, the idea of combating global warming by using this waste for fuel and energy production is nothing short of poetic.

From Daily Mail:

A car powered by methane gas has been created by a team of British engineers.

The vehicle named the ‘Bio-Bug’ is run reliably on biogas, which is produced from human waste at sewage works across the country.

Excrement flushed down the toilets of just 70 homes is enough to power the pioneering VW Beetle car for 10,000 miles – the equivalent of one average motoring year.

I still don’t like that this VW Beetle requires regular unleaded gas to start the vehicle and warm up the system before the methane is used, and I’d like to know more about the refinement process for the methane, particularly how much energy is needed to refine the biomass into methane, are there any toxic chemicals used, and are there any hazardous waste products.

And yet, if we can develop a closed loop system along these lines it could possibly be the greatest human accomplishment to-date.

Best of Fish & Bicycles: When Wednesday became Sun Day in Bellingham

Originally Published: March 25, 2010

A friend of mine who lives in famously sunny San Diego sent me a link to an MSNBC item this morning, an item that our local Bellingham Herald didn’t even publish:

    Bellingham school cancels classes for ‘sun day’

    BELLINGHAM, Wash. – A forecast of warm clear weather prompted Bellingham Christian School to cancel classes today for a “sun day.”

    Principal Bob Sampson says sun day celebrates spring, promotes positive school culture and is “just for fun.”

    Because the school lost no days to snow over the winter, the principal says it can afford to take a spring day off.

When I moved to Bellingham in 1993, I knew what I was getting into in terms of the weather.

From Wikipedia:

    Although the rainy season can last as long as eight months or more, it is usually about six months long, leaving Bellingham with a picturesque late spring and mild, pleasant summer. Although Bellingham receives an average annual rainfall of 34.84 inches (885 mm), many long weeks of short and cloudy days are commonplace in winter.

Sunbreak is a word I never heard before I moved to Bellingham. I hear it on radio weather forecasts all the time, and yet a Google search provides no evidence that it is an official meteorological term. Search strings like “weather+terms+sunbreak” or “meteorology+sunbreak” yield absolutely nothing.

I did find a post by a fellow blogger in similarly rainy Portland, Oregon who mentions this colloquialism, and Googling “sunbreak+definition” finally brought me to this:

From Urban Dictionary:

    Sunbreak – When the sun appears in a cloudy sky for a little while, then gets covered again.

    Commonly used in Seattle, WA.

    Person 1: Sure is cloudy this morning.

    Person 2: Look outside, there’s a sun break, how beautiful.

I’d been living in Bellingham a few weeks, when, on one rainy day, I parked my car in a lot and, out of habit, ran towards the building I was heading into. I wore no rain gear. A man standing in front of the building, wearing a rain jacket with his hood up, unprotected by any shelter whatsoever asked with a sarcastic tone, “Don’t you just get wetter that way?”

I hate to admit it, but I spent a considerable amount of time pondering the answer to that obviously rhetorical question, and I concluded that even if it was true, even if, because the rain is not only coming down onto a running person but the person is running into the raindrops that they would otherwise miss, the obvious answer is that, yes, you do get wetter if you are not wearing a rain jacket with a hood in its upright and secured position.

Another anecdote: The first time I visited notoriously wet Western Washington, before I drove up to Bellingham, I spent a few days in Seattle. On one of those days it rained, I was in the University of Washington bookstore, I innocently asked someone who worked there if it’s true that it rains like that as much as people say, and the reply I got was, “If you live in California, I’ll say it rains like this everyday.”

But that’s another story altogether.