Video Fridays: Dead & Company

mayer-weirI haven’t written about one of my favorite bands of all time, the Grateful Dead, in a while, having published my last post on the topic back in July, but today it’s definitely time.

When I heard in August that three of the “core four” remaining members of the Dead — Bob Weir, Billy Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart — were going to do some shows under the name of ‘Dead & Company’, with the ‘company’ consisting of Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti, from Weir’s band Ratdog, on keyboards, and John Mayer on lead guitar, I was not surprised, but I was skeptical.

Not surprised, because earlier in the year, in February, Bob Weir was a guest on CBS’a The Late Late Show, guest-hosted by John Mayer, and they performed two very nicely done Dead tunes (see below), and during the interview segment Mayer professed his love of the Grateful Dead.

Skeptical for two reasons:

1. While I very much enjoyed Mayer’s work on the two songs I saw him play, and though I don’t believe that any guitar player stepping into Jerry Garcia’s vacant shoes needs to imitate Jerry’s tone and technique, Mayer did not at all emulate Jerry, which is fine when it’s Weir sitting in with Mayer’s band, but it won’t work for most Deadheads when Mayer sits in with the Dead.

2. In the Rolling Stone article announcing the Dead & Company shows, John Mayer said this (my emphasis added in bold):

“They take their time, sometimes too much. This free expressive sort of spirit – I listen and I want to find a mix of that openness. I kind of want to go to that show, if it still existed. But I wish that there were tunes that I was more familiar with. I wish that I could be the singer. I wish I could have harmonies. And I wish that I could make it seven minutes instead of 13 minutes. Now I’ll get the opportunity to kind of try that.”

I read that and thought, “Um, John, you wouldn’t actually dream of messing with one of the quintessentials of the Grateful Dead, would you? Really?! I mean, you do know that taking 13 minutes to play a 7-minute song was pretty much the whole point of the Grateful Dead, right?”

Well, what a difference a few months make!

According to Relix, Mayer has spent the time since then working 4-5 hours a day, learning the songs and rehearsing with the band in what he refers to as ‘Grateful Dead University’. In several articles I’ve read about his preparations, he sounded incredibly sincere and respectful, deeply invested in honoring the Dead’s and Jerry Garcia’s immense legacies.

And, last night was the first Dead & Company show, and right out of the gate they opened with a wonderful 15-minute version of Playing In The Band, one of the tunes that the Dead was most noted for stretching out on, sometimes as long as a half-hour, and Mayer not only nailed Jerry’s tone and technique, without sounding like a simple copycat, but he relaxed into the extended jam and fit in beautifully with the band.

For this week’s Video Fridays installment, then, let’s look at his transformation, first with Mayer being Mayer and decidedly not Jerry on The Late Late Show back in February, followed by Mayer channeling Jerry last night in Albany, New York.

Well done, John, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

Man Buns Revisited

man-bunLast month, I published a post titled To Man Bun, Or Not To Man Bun?, and the title was clearly a rhetorical question, cuz I’d already cut my hair to man-bun-prohibitive shortness.

Now, the Man Bun topic turns from rhetorical to hypothetical, thanks to some awesome Photoshopped images courtesy of DesignCrowd, and via FastCompany.

Hypothesis: What would various world leaders throughout history look like sporting buns for men, and how would this alter our perception of these men?

FastCompany says:

…these images will shake your trust in our safety to its fundamental core.

But I have the exact opposite reaction!

Being able to visualize these guys hanging out in a typical locally owned and operated hipster joint, drinking craft beer and eating artisan pretzels, makes the scary guys less scary to me, and makes the guys I like seem like dudes I could hang with!

Anyway, here are my faves, but be sure to check out the whole gallery.

obama-bun

lincoln-putin-buns

bush-bun

washington-kennedy-johnson-buns

Headlines of the Day: The Cognitive Dissonance Of Bernie Sanders Media Coverage

headache-smileyStunning, headache-inducing dissonance in these two headlines from two liberal-leaning online publications today:

Bernie Sanders is in big trouble: You don’t have to be a neoliberal shill to see the cold, hard facts

Salon

Yes, Polling Trajectory Shows Bernie Sanders Defeating Hillary Clinton and Winning the Democratic Nomination

Huffington Post

Jewell James Totem: Standing Guard At Whatcom Creek

 

Tweet of the Day: @TheOnion

Because Monday.

The Pros:

Reinert said the values Bisquick sought to embody in the design of the campus are the same that drive the company itself: simplicity, freshness, quality, and fun. To that end, Bisquick added many communal facilities, including a full-size saltwater swimming pool, 10 onsite pancake bars stocked with organic fruits and various flavors of syrup, a Japanese zen garden hand-constructed in Kyoto and reassembled on campus, and a weekly lecture series at the grounds’ 2,000-seat amphitheater featuring speakers such as futurist Michio Kaku, fiction writer Stephenie Meyer, and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

The Cons:

While many in the area have hailed the arrival of Bisquick, some longtime residents—wary of higher rents and the company’s famously insular corporate culture—have expressed skepticism.

“Bisquick is just another one of these Silicon Valley behemoths that moves in and totally changes the community—and not for the better,” said local resident Peter Watson, who noted that the land used for Bisquick’s indoor rock climbing wall used to be open park space that the city sold to help attract the company. “When I moved here in the ’80s, it was all students and families; now, my whole street is nothing but Bisquick millionaires in their electric cars and luxury penthouses.”

“My neighbors and I have complained to the city council, but with Bisquick’s deep pockets, there really isn’t anything we can do,” Watson added. “I guess we just have to put up with it and hope that, sooner or later, this pancake bubble bursts.”

LOL!

Liquid & Solid

liquid-solid

Video Fridays: Democracy Waking Up: Black Lives Matter & Insurgent Candidates

schuffmanRemember this quote from Bernie Sanders, from my post back in May?

“One of the greatest tragedies that we face today politically is that most people have given up on the political process. They understand the political process is stacked against them. They think there is no particular reason for them to come out and vote — and they don’t.”

Well, there have been several signs lately that people haven’t fully given up, and I’d like to highlight two promising examples here.

Black Lives Matter
On August 8th, three Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders campaign event in Seattle.

It was courageous and brilliant.

Anyone who thinks the activists were rude or barking up the wrong tree — because Bernie has an excellent record on civil rights for people of color — simply doesn’t get it, doesn’t understand the depths of the problem, the ugly persistence of institutional racism, the daily struggles of Black Americans, the daily degradations, the enduring discrimination and the lack of opportunity.

The Black Lives Matter movement clearly has not given up, and we should celebrate that they were successful in getting Bernie to meet with and listen to them, to strengthen his support for their work, such that when he was initially asked if black lives matter he gave a qualified answer — “black lives matter, white lives matter, Hispanic lives matter” — and when he was asked in the first Democratic Presidential Debate this past Tuesday he included no such qualifier:

Black lives matter. And the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail, or their kids are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.

THAT is getting it!

Insurgent Candidates
I don’t know the origin of the term “insurgent candidate”, it certainly predates its current use, but I absolutely love it. And yes, even when it’s referring to candidates I vehemently oppose, because a true Democracy should provide a real opportunity to anyone who wants to participate in government by running for office, and no one should be deterred by a lack of money, by a political party that favors establishment players, or by a rigid 2-party system that breeds polarization and gridlock.

Getting more specific, I see as a very good thing insurgent candidates who do not fit, and defiantly refuse to fit, the media-perpetuated definition of “presidential”. I and millions of other Americans are sick to death of highly polished, highly coached, highly focus-grouped, politicians. They are the reason why so many of us had given up.

If insurgency allows for a loudmouthed, racist poster boy for capitalist greed like Donald Trump to reach Republican front-runner status, it’s worth it if at the same time it allows plainspoken, SuperPac-less, unapologetically Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, to be a serious challenger to Wall Street darling Hillary Clinton.

Mark Hertsgaard nails this and calls it Bernie’s “secret weapon” in The Nation.

Anyway, I’m running out of time, it’s Friday, that means a Video Fridays installment is due, and so here’s the brief story of another insurgent candidate, Stuart Schuffman, who is running for Mayor of San Francisco, and whose campaign website is refreshingly called: Broke-Ass Mayor.

I LOVE this guy, I love his “I don’t give a shit. I don’t care if I don’t win, I’m doing this to make some fucking noise.” attitude. Being polite and asking the government nicely to help the homeless, to address income and wealthy inequality, to battle climate change, etc., will NOT cut it.

Go Stu! And, Happy Weekend, everyone!

Bicycle + Treadmill = Genius!

Lopifit-Electrical-Supported-Tredmill-1This, folks, is the Lopifit, and it is all kinds of brilliant.

I stumbled upon this treadmill-bike thanks to a Facebook friend’s post, and given my interest in bicycles AND the fact that I swear by the standing workstation I use at my job, given that I’ve blogged about bicycles numerous times in the past, given that “bicycles” is fully half of my blog’s name, I can’t not write a post about this!

The Lopifit is the brainchild of Bruin Bergmeester, from The Netherlands, and an article from a year ago at the Epoch Times describes the Lopifit origin story:

When asked how he came up with the idea, Bruin explains he works full time and sits all day, so he likes to exercise on a treadmill at home.

One day it was lovely outside and Bruin did not fancy spending time on a bicycle, which meant sitting again, so he thought to himself: “Why not bring the treadmill outdoors?” And so the Lopifit was born.

The article was accompanied by this very short video:

Well, what a difference a year makes!

When the Epoch Times piece appeared, Bergmeester had built five prototypes, and a shop in Utrecht could build them on demand, but now there’s a fancy Lopifit website, the Lopifit has crossed the Atlantic and there are now three dealers in the U.S., and the Lopifit can be yours, in one of five color options, for €1,899.00 or $2162.55 USD.

Commenters online naturally got around to asking the obvious question: Yeah, this seems like a great idea in notoriously flat places like The Netherlands, but how well can it handle hills?

While this may not be enough to convince someone in hilly San Francisco, Seattle, or even here in Bellingham, the Epoch Times article mentions hills directly, claiming that, thanks to the electric assist motor, the Lopifit “runs quite fast and is equally good going uphill”.

Me? I’ll take the orange one!

orange-lopifit

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…