Ode To Autumn Leaves

IMG_1175on a late-October hike
along the roaring Nooksack River
autumn leaves
— mostly Bigleaf Maple —
drifting down from the trees
in a beautiful, unplanned aerial show
to their final resting places
… some would say

but no rest here, really

each falling leaf
as unique as snowflakes
flying stem-first
some traverse across the sky
others travel downward in wide or tight spirals
some, make it to the river bed
others to the trail
and others still, caught on a branch
like our leaf here
held in a kind of limbo

bringing her attention to the falling leaves,
i say to my wife,
“look, next stop decay”
but, she says, “no,
first they land in a big pile
with their friends”

BurgerEmojiGate

Video Fridays: Saturation Point Edition

head-in-sand

Hiding Your Head In The Sand

It’s a saying that always has a negative connotation.

Literally speaking, there is some logic to that assessment. After all, when your head is in the sand your butt is in the air, highly vulnerable, and you are unable to see any threats coming your way.

And yet … I believe that the impulse to hide one’s head in the sand resides in a precious moment of self-righteous self-preservation, a moment when one reaches the saturation point, unable to take in one more portion of “real world” shit, no matter how wafer-thin.

Example: I’m driving my car, I have six presets on the radio, several of them are NPR stations, two air Democracy Now!, and all of them, during commute times, broadcast news/talk programs. Invariably, before I get halfway through my drive I’ve heard so many horrors that I can’t switch to music on my CD player, or from my phone via Bluetooth, fast enough.

I contend that at that precise moment I am most in tune with reality, aware that all of those horrors are an insult to reality, a violation of reality, the reality that all people, all beings, the planet, and the universe are all one and interdependent, that the optimal state, then, is one of mutual respect, cooperation, and preservation.

Besides simple silence — also a good remedy — music works reliably well for me as protection from all that does not earn the label “real”. As a musician myself, I know what it takes to make music, even more, what it takes to make good music, and good music is the product of a desire to make something beautiful, beautiful in that artistic sense, beauty that can sometimes include ugliness, but an ugliness made pure and valid as an expression of the human experience.

Anyway, I’m feeling this whole topic quite acutely today, feeling the need for music right now more urgently than normal, and making a selection for this installment of Video Fridays was very easy because I’ve been on a serious R.E.M. binge lately, during which I rediscovered and reveled over a YouTube treasure, an entire show from 1985, via the amazing German television show Rockpalast, from the European tour for one of my favorite of their early albums, Fables of the Reconstruction.

Watching and listening to this makes me feel good on SO many levels, though it does induce a powerful, potentially unfulfillable longing for a 12-string Rickenbacker.

Enjoy, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

NEVER feel bad for Nazis

punch-nazis4Listen, you don’t get to feel bad for Nazis.

Ever.

Especially so-called “Neo-Nazis”.

Stretching the idea of forgiveness to its breaking point, you can try to suggest that Germans and other European people who fell under Hitler’s spell were exploited, brainwashed, and used to commit some of the worst crimes against humanity ever perpetrated, many not knowing the  full scale of the Holocaust until the war was over.

Like I said. A stretch. Maybe the biggest stretch possible. Maybe not even possible.

Neo-Nazis, on the other hand, adopt this proven genocidal ideology knowing full well what that ideology wrought during World War II, eager to continue and grow the movement.

“Punching Nazis” is a thing, nothing new, but in Trump World it’s a more frequentlyoccurringthing.

And, opinion is split on whether or not punching Nazis is a good thing. Some say yesSome say noSome say, well, not yet.

As a lifelong pacifist, raised Jewish post-Holocaust, the question of whether or not violence is justified in order to fight a genocidal ideology has been the single most difficult question I’ve wrestled with in my lifetime.

But, if you ask me to look at the photos included here, of the Nazi punched yesterday at the University of Florida, and then ask me whether or not I feel bad for the Nazi…

…HELL NO!

That motherfucker decided to wear that t-shirt and attend that demonstration and if he can’t take a punch in the face then he should have never showed up.

The main argument against punching Nazis is that it’s violent suppression of free speech.

But, I ask you, why the hell do Nazi’s deserve free speech?! We’ve seen what they do with it!

As one of the signs held by an anti-facist protestor read:

You are not a difference of opinion.

You are hate.

Monopoly Busting, 2017-style!

Excuse me, while I make like an ape man.

R.I.P., Tom Petty :-(

tom-pettyOh man, I wish it didn’t take the death of one of my Rock & Roll heroes to get me back to Fish & Bicycles after a six month break, but it’s just the way it is and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Tom Petty was a quintessential rocker.

More than that, he was a prototypical rocker.

He was a Chuck Berry, a Jerry Lee Lewis, a Buddy Holly, an Elvis Presley.

He was a prolific songwriter and a natural, charismatic frontman. He was cool without flash, and onstage he always looked like he was doing the only thing he really wanted to do.

He was a bandleader in the most important ways. Not an egomaniac who demanded obedience, but a consummate musician who built one of the tightest bands of the era, a band that he could command with just the nod of his head or the wave of his hand. He was to The Heartbreakers what Bruce Springsteen has been to the E Street Band.

Rock & Roll has an intoxicating power. As someone who has had the privilege of performing in a rock band, I can tell you that it is incredibly easy to let the music take over, to entirely lose control of it.

Imagine all five members of a band experiencing that at the same time, imagine doing this in front of thousands of fans who are on their feet and grooving to the music, and then imagine Tom Petty, with his back to the rest of the band, just raising the headstock of his guitar in the air and then suddenly jerking it back down, stopping this freight train in its tracks.

Yes, he was that powerful.

I remember when The Traveling Wilburys happened, and many people wondered what Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne of ELO fame were doing in a band with legends Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan. I might have even held that belief momentarily when first hearing about the “supergroup”.

Now, Jeff Lynne still seems the odd man out, a successful songwriter for sure, but for all his success he was mostly there because he’d become good friends with George Harrison after producing George’s comeback album Cloud 9. I don’t really give a shit, he’s a great musician and talented producer, but it’s true that he just didn’t have as impressive a resume.

Tom Petty, on the other hand, by the time the Wilburys came together, had released one of the most impressive string of records ever over just 10 years.

Back in May 2013, I wrote this about the band Dire Straits:

Seriously, their first three albums are frickin’ incredible…

(Yes, there’s some great stuff after that, like Telegraph Road, a very Springsteen-ish song from their 4th album, Love Over Gold, and some of the stuff on Brothers In Arms.)

…and I think it’s stunning to think about them in the context of what was going on in music at that time, the late 70s and early 80s, so dominated by punk, post-punk/new wave, etc., and there wasn’t much else out there that sounded like Dire Straits. Maybe Tom Petty and a few others.

Early Dire Straits was like a great early to mid 70s Rock & Roll band, full of American roots music influences, who stubbornly decided to just keep making great early to mid 70s Rock & Roll.

Tom Petty also made it through the entire 1980s without abandoning his roots, which is a considerable accomplishment.

I wasn’t the biggest Petty fan. I didn’t buy every record and see him on every tour. But, his influence on me was huge. Like Tom, I play rhythm guitar and I sing, and when I’m at the mic, singing and strumming my six string, I often think of him, as I did just a few weeks ago, when me and my band played our medley of George Harrison’s Beatles-era If I Needed Someone and Petty’s Listen To Her Heart.

Tom, thanks for all of the wonderful music and the great fun you brought into the world. You’ll be missed, brother!

I’ll always think of you like this: