Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sorry, what I meant was...

In my Wasted youth post I tossed off a line about a pair of my relatives being "literary snobs". Of course, what I meant was that Tom and Maureen have actually read virtually all those books that everyone who is truly literate is supposed to have read.
They have no need for the best selling book "How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read'.
You know, this could be a parlor game, in which each person tries to top the others by admitting to not having read various "essential" works of literature. In a quick aside, I could get a great score in this game by confessing to never having read one book written by Ernest Hemingway.
Here is an example of what I mean about Maureen and Tom's literary knowledge: As we walked, a couple of weeks ago, to the J. Pierpont Morgan Museum and Library, I happened to mention that I was reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice(after having enjoyed the dvd of "Being Jane"). I asked a vague question of them about the financial aspects of Jane Austen's gentrified period, in which people, usually young men, are referenced as having "three thousand pounds a year", or similar amounts.
Not only did they understand but they could answer. The next few blocks of walking were filled with information about academic works addressing inheritance traditions, value of land, what entails actually are, cost of living, and how inflation would have changed the value of those numbers. I learned all I needed to know about what I had questioned.
Maybe we will eventually hear about Maureen and Tom's literary tour of New England.

Kearney Nebraska

I forgot in the haste of my last post to mention that I have being invited to "move back home". I received a post card from "you'rehome Kearney!" just the other day. It talks about the convenience of a city with a slower pace that lets you enjoy life. It suggests hundreds of job, in stark contrast however to the recent news of one company going bankrupt and another doing temporary layoff. However I remain interested. Retirement looms down the line.

I guess I should be pleased that they want me back. I am not sure how I got on the list of invitees, but it made me feel good. So, if you didn't get the postcard you can go to for all of the details.

The way my retirement investments are going I may need to take them up on the offer.

Wedding Stuff

We continue to receive the RSVP's and being eternally paranoid, a product of 1967 to 1971, I worry about space. I remind our Dilbert like workgroup that we may need to engage a Burger King near the reception to handle the overflow. No one seems amused and I am assured by the Bride that things will be okay. Why do I feel like the Captain of the Titanic being told by the boiler room that they are taking on a "little" water?

I think we finally broke the cycle of everything costing $800, veil and alterations were only $363...I feel so good.I know that cake bill is out there.

Groom is searching today, along with Bride (she is everywhere) for the best Tux deal; well the one that the Bride feels will work. I suspect a fitting soon.

I will soon be forced to select a song for the traditional father/daughter wedding dance. I pretty sure that nothing by the late Warren Zevon will make the cut. I had a list of songs several months ago, but I am unable to find it now. I am pretty sure that it was a great list, with some non traditional songs that would have been "wow".

Now I am back a square one and will probably land on a traditional (Beatles) song, although the singer may not be the original artist. How much of a rebel am I?

I think the problem is that there are a bunch of requirements for the song. First it almost always has to be slow and somewhat dance worthy. I am not sure why, I can't dance very well. It can't be vulgar, I guess. I am open to any suggestions.

I did listen to the cassette tape of our wedding and was wondering if the guy that sang at my wedding would be available? That would be another palce to set. He was all about the Beatle, Sir Douglas, I believe he is off following the Dead.

One piece of good news, the table center pieces have been agreed to!!!! Yippee!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wasted youth

I earlier mentioned that we visited the New York Public Library a week ago Saturday. Actually, brother Tom had a quick bit of touristing planned for us, primarily because we didn't have a lot of time. I mentioned the books we saw, but I failed to talk about a huge exhibit that the NYPL was sponsoring.
It was a very detailed retrospective on the "beat" author Jack Kerouac. Confession time, here. I have read no Jack Kerouac, and could care less about "the beats". Among the authors I've never read would include Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, and William Burroughs.(I only wish I could say that about Edgar Rice Burroughs). I did once read Howl, by William Ginsberg, but it didn't make any sense to me. So, I'm no hipster, not a beatnik in any way, shape, or form.
The exhibit was nevertheless quite interesting. Detailed examples of the various notebooks, note-cards, teletype paper, and regular typing paper that he apparently wrote and typed on from morning to night, based on how much of it was on display. Interestingly enough, this supposed master of just writing whatever came to his mind, actually wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again. There are multiple copies, all different, of all his major works.
Anyway, we're having a great time, eavesdropping as a pair of docents led big groups through the room, with Tom and Maureen, literary snobs that they are, comparing notes on Kerouac's writings that they of course had actually read, when my cell-phone, against all likelihood as well as rules, rang. I must admit my cell rarely rings. So I took this very important call, and slipped outside to make the equally important call the first call caused. You are supposed to note the irony in the previous sentence.
When I went back in, I find my group convulsed in laughter, gesturing madly to get me to come to the only corner of the exhibit that I had not examined.
Even though Easter is passed, I find myself preparing for my second confession in one blog post. Now the first one wasn't a real apology or confession, because I feel no remorse at all over not reading the beats. This one is much more significant, in that, while I'm not exactly remorseful, it still is not something I have been in the least willing to let anyone know about. My siblings, spouse, and children know, and I figure Kevin does, but otherwise it has been lost in the fog of the past.
Here it is. I wasted significant amounts of time, probably about fifty hours a week, during the years we used to call junior high. I know it is now middle school, but in the very early sixties, it was junior high. My childhood fascination was baseball, and what I did, along with my best mate from those days, Mike Jackson(who is fond these days about calling himself the "real Michael Jackson") was create a fantasy baseball game using dice. We played hundreds of thousands of games, keeping detailed statistics. We had seasons, playoffs, and World Series. Drafts were serious affairs. and trades of one player for another often included real assets. I got my favorite ever baseball bat, a 32 inch, 32 ounce Al Kaline model in a trade for a player I had that someone else wanted.(this bat eventually was stained and taped and became, until we were caught, illegally used in a fast-pitch softball league nearly a decade later) It was about ten of us who would meet on summer afternoons in Jerry Morgan's basement-my best guess is that was the coolest place we had access to- and played entire seasons in a week or two.
I must enhance my confession. Our game was distressingly simple. We must have made a decision to keep it simple, probably so it was easier to draft other wayward boys into our wayward ways, or maybe because we were 12 years old. I have since worked out in my mind, any number of significant improvements, either using twelve and/or twenty sided dice, or different colored dice. Any of these could have created a statistically sound, maybe even fun game. But, no , we kept in minimalist, before we knew what that meant.
So, in the corner of the Kerouac exhibit, was HIS fantasy baseball game, about a thousand times more detailed than ours. Instead of dice, he used 55 cards he lifted from his Dad's print-shop. He had entire seasons, fantasy teams(one league was named after cars, another colors) logos. I wouldn't have been surprised had he designed t-shirts. He did this when he was eleven years old. Later on, he created a fantasy horse racing game, something we were never tempted to do. I am left to think that not only were we not original, we were also pikers in virtually every aspect. Purely second rate.
Now I have to decide if this is enough to get me to read any Kerouac.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wedding Update

Just brief thoughts. Mom and daughter are in Kansas City getting the bride fitted for the wedding gown. I am at home waiting to go to 4 NCAA basketball games, I win.

Today we received the first of the RSV P's and no one is here to open them. I certainly have not been cleared to open anything so I am left to ponder: are these yes or no and can we move to a B list person? The anxiety is immense. I can hardly wait to see how many more come tomorrow.

Found out yesterday that the Sims brothers are flying in on May 9th to see their Mom. I asked her why and she said she thinks that it is an intervention. Not sure what they might be intervening about. By the way Molly's daughter is now in SF and will be living in Noe Valley.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Last Weekend in New York

From an early age, I have loved live music. But not any live music-no jazz, big bands, classical, and certainly no swing choirs. There pretty much has to be guitars. I guess the Beatles are to blame, but Bob Dylan has a share also. So, I'm a teenager in McCook, Nebraska, watching the Beatles in black and white on Ed Sullivan in the lobby of the Keystone Hotel. About the same time, Dave "Woody" Salisbury and Randy Loose forced me to listen to an early Dylan album. I am hooked. I love music, and I soon discover that I love it best LIVE, whether it is on the stage of the City Auditorium in McCook, or the similar facility in Hastings, Nebraska, or any of the other dozens of places I eventually saw music performed.
I never got to see the Beatles live, but that really doesn't bother me, because I would have been disappointed, in that they were better on record than live, partly because you could hardly hear them for the screaming. Bob Dylan I have seen several times, each time an adventure. And I would make a wild estimate that I have seen several hundred groups or individuals in concert, in venues as diverse as smoky bars(thanks to the smoking ban I don't have to worry about this anymore) up to a famous football field full of 60,000 fans.
As opposed to my running statistics, I have not kept notebooks listing who I've seen, and where. I bet I could be surprised at what I've forgotten(probably should have kept records).
I do keep, however, a running total in my mind of individuals or groups I have seen more than a few times. It is not a huge list- I've lived too much of my life in rural Nebraska. I have seen Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Greg Kihn Band, Emmy Lou Harris, and Bob Dylan five times each.
But for over 25 years my focus was on Bruce Springsteen. Ever since first seeing him, at the Berkeley Community Theatre over the summer of 1978, until early this century, Bruce has been the center of my musical focus. It helps that Kevin and I had the opportunity to attend a show later in 1978 that was broadcast on fm radio, widely distributed, and has been regularly described as Bruce's single greatest concert, therefore the greatest rock and roll concert ever performed anywhere.
I own virtually all the officially released Bruce, dozens of bootlegs and rarities, but the fact that I could only see him eight times in 25 years somewhat cooled my jets. The concerts we saw in Fargo and Kansas City(twice) in relatively recent times were outstanding, very nearly as good as the much younger Bruce we saw back in the California days. It was particularly fun taking Maureen, Emily, and Pam to these concerts.
But, apparently my musical affections were ripe to be stolen away as I discovered a virtually unknown band, the Saw Doctors, from County Galway, Ireland. You couldn't buy their cds or see them in concert, but the music I could find, usually by downloading from Napster, was infectious. And indescribable. Over the summer of 2002 we visited Galway, bought cds and t-shirts. It took until 2004 before I could manage to see them live, in Chicago, over St. Patrick's Day weekend, amidst a crowd of about 1500. OK, the crowd was smaller and the music different from Bruce, but the feel was a bit similar. Everybody was glad to be there. A good time was being had by all. A really good time.
The music is absolutely indescribable. You know, if you had to describe Bob Dylan 45 years ago, you could reference Woody Guthrie. If you were fond of the Dave Clark Five, you could say they're somewhat like the Beatles. I could go on and on, even more than I already have, but my point is that there exists no possible reference for my new favorite band.
Even the name creates questions. In rural Ireland, Scotland, and England, a saw doctor is an itinerant craftsman, a wanderer who will sharpen your saws and mend your pots and pans, before stealing your chickens. The closest word we would have in the US would be "tinker", not nearly as memorable a name for a band.
The band is originally from Tuam, a town of around 3,000 people in the west of Ireland. It is a typical story as veterans of various bands eventually coalesced into yet another band. This one had the benefit of playing in a small pub frequented by a rock group in town recording their new album. The group was the Waterboys, whose classic Fisherman's Blues was being recorded in nearby Spiddal. Chief Waterboy Mike Scott asked these kids(actually one of them was an adult who had settled into a full-time job as a weaver) to accompany the Waterboys on an upcoming six week tour of England. The five of them traveled in a small van with all their equipment.
The next few years found them gigging around home, eventually releasing a couple singles, one of which, "I Useta Lover" became a smash hit, number one for nine weeks, still the best selling single ever in Ireland.
Steady touring, which eventually included the US has created a loyal fanbase virtually everywhere there are people who are a little bit Irish. In 2006 they played a huge concert in Dubai, where, apparently large numbers of Irish work in construction and services, of which Dubai has more than its share.
So, since driving to Chicago in 2004, we have driven to St. Paul, MN, flown to New York three times, Chicago twice, and driven to Kansas City and Joe drove a carload of Maureen's stuff to Massachusetts and saw a concert with Tom and Mo in Northampton. My ninth and tenth Saw Doctors concerts were Friday and Saturday, eclipsing my eight Bruce Springsteen concerts.
These two were the best of the ten, featuring sellout crowds at the Nokia Theatre, on Times Square. Although none of us were in a VW van, or under the influence of lsd, the fans are sometimes compared to Grateful Dead fans, primarily because of the distances we travel.
We ate Saturday night at Emeril's favorite Irish pub in NYC, and our flight from Nebraska wasn't even the second longest at our table. A pair of guys flew from Manchester, England, and our friends Donna and Jim came from Seattle. Actually, Tom and Maureen came the shortest distances of the twelve of us who ate together.
The concerts themselves are a bit tribal, or perhaps cultish, as the faithful know the lyrics, when to sing, clap, laugh, or point fingers at the lead singer(chanting "We don't believe you").
The music is not the least bit traditional- no pipes or fiddles, no clog dancing, and no Danny Boy. It is very Irish, however, but in a cultural sense, not a musical one. There are songs about highways, a legendary local dj, the first minister for fine arts and culture, young love and lust, yearning for home far away, and an regular reference to various things Catholic. Sample lyric:

"you know you'd often wonder
as the years go past
why you ever bothered
going to mass
was it the fear of god
or to find a wife
or just buying shares
in the afterlife"

So the deal is I travel thousands of miles to see a band and when you tell people you're going to see them, they invariably say, "Who?" They've never had a hit record and actually don't have a recording contract. Every few years they record and release a cd which you can buy at concerts or from the office in Galway. This actually maximizes their slim profits because they'll never sell a million, so big record corporations aren't interested in investing in them. They make enough touring to be a viable business, but just, if I had to guess.
The two nights at the Nokia were cosmic- sold-out good times full of rollicking rock and roll and wonderful camaraderie. I have seen five shows in the last 53 weeks, although it will probably be a year before my next. The deal is that lots of people see them much more often than I do. It's not like I'm even in the top ten of big fans.
I'll give up now, but can you tell that my sixty-first birthday celebration was a good time?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Joe's biblical Saturday

I will no doubt write more about my weekend jaunt to New York, primarily to explain why I cannot make any comments about Bruce Springsteen's first appearance in Nebraska since 1984, but first I want to write a short bit about what I saw in the big city.
None of what follows did I know until last Saturday. We had a limited amount of tourist time, but we made two short but very productive stops. The first was the J. Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum; the second was the main New York Public library. Little did I know that these two places are the only places in New York where you can see original Gutenberg Bibles. Only 48 of these remain, and I saw two of them in about an hour and a half. Although not the first book printed on movable type as legend says, it was the first major work done with an invention that changed the world we live in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Springsteen in Omaha

Just a few words about the concert on Friday. First, they were nearly over 1 and a quarter hour late in taking the stage. I suppose it is my age, but anything over 45 minutes is unacceptable to me. I have been to several concerts at the Qwest, Stones, Clapton, Paul, etc, no one was that late.

Once on stage they performed at the level you would expect and the quality and quantity of songs was as advertised for the tour. I think if you polled a hundred fans they would want 6 less songs from Magic and 6 more from the past, but hey that's why they tour, to support the CD.

About the only surprise was that they did both Jungleland and the Detroit Medley. The encore portion was very good,except that Conor Oberst needs to remember the lyrics to Thunder Road, I could have done as well, well maybe not. My son could have.

We were stage right and slightly behind the band. I had a really good view of Max and his work is amazing. He has great posture for a long show. Nils and Stevie both did a nice job and of course Bruce was, well Bruce. Sally and I agree that he is just like our old friend Jack Luther, but with talent. I am sure that Jack would agree.

The other problem for us was that being so close and behind the band the vocal were a little less distinct. Sally felt like she was listening in a fish bowl.It was okay on the well known songs for me and the other for the most part.

It wasn't Winterland, but then again neither am I.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wedding Countdown

Okay, its 65 days until the wedding. It is time to begin to panic. I thought I would provide a little running blog on the days leading up to the wedding from the Dad's point of view.

Invitations need to get out, which means we have to have our lists done. Getting the list down to what we can invite was a task. We have both an A and B list and will get invites out the B list folks as declines arrive from the A list. This is a zoo.

The reception hall only holds 400, so simple math suggests that we should have no more than 400 attend. I think the initial list, our initial list had over two hundred! The grooms parent had 224 and the Bride and Groom had a 100. I can do the math.

Anyways lists notwithstanding the mailing continues, oops, the envelopes weigh too much so we remove the interior envelope to get down to weigh. Locating Tuxes is next.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kevin is published

Initially I posted this as a comment on the previous post, but decided it needed to be posted by itself.

Kevin has a great item in today's Omaha World-Herald, remembering his first Bruce concert, from 1978:

• My favorite album has always been "Darkness on the Edge of Town," released in 1978 and a follow-up to the commercially successful "Born to Run." I saw Bruce and the E Street Band at Winterland in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 1978, in what is considered his finest concert. It was nearly three hours long and was all about drag racing and rock 'n' roll. He did nearly 30 songs, including eight of the songs off "Darkness." One reviewer said it was like Phil Spector meets Jack Kerouac, hooked up to about a dozen car batteries.

• Winterland's final concert was two weeks later with the Grateful Dead, but we all thought that the final concert was the night Bruce and the E Street Band played into history. It is ironic that I bought my tickets for this concert on Dec. 15, 2007, the 29th anniversary of the first of four times I have seen them.
- Kevin Gallagher, Omaha

This is on the first page, at the top, of the entertainment section. They had asked people to tell them their favorite Bruce albums, and will be running stories all week.
Way to go, Kevin!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Blue Cheer-Springsteen is near

It has been one long tedious winter. The temps since November have been generally below thirty and we have had snow on the ground since December. Not a lot of snow, just constantly there. In Feb the average high was 21 and change. Today it will be mid 30s about 14 degrees below normal. It has been brutal.

Spring is near, Springsteen is closer. Next Friday at the Qwest, Bruce and the E Street Band will appear. I have been tracking his set lists since he recently started the tour, March 3 I think.

He has only started with the same song twice, Night, and has ended each concert with American Land. Badlands, Born to Run and Reason to Believe make each list. His most recent shows are exhibiting some changes. He did Rosalita on the 6th and added Buffalo Gals(in Buffalo) and Devil with a Blue Dress last night. He only has one more show prior to Omaha so it will be interesting to see if this trend continues. About twenty three songs, except for one when he did twenty four.

We are seating just to the right of the stage and back about one section so we will be in pretty good position.

Omaha is becoming quite the concert town. Santana in April, The Police w/Elvis in May, Tom Petty w/Steve Winwood in June or July and now Dave Matthews in July. For those who are really into it I think that Richard Thompson will be here the night before Bruce.

Friday, March 7, 2008


OK, I'm home from working out(twelve minutes walking backwards on a treadmill at 1.5 mph, twelve minutes walking forward, starting at 2.5 mph, topping out at 3 mph, eighteen minutes on an Airdyne, fifteen of it hard, and twenty-three minutes on a recumbent stationary bike, fifteen of those minutes going faster/farther than I ever have on that machine). I eat a bite, go down to check my email, and while I'm at the computer I get telemarketed by a slow talking adult male, whose native language had to be English.
He is, honest, trying to get me to buy HGH. I tried to tell him my baseball career was long over, but he kept telling me how great their product was. It isn't injectable, he said. It is a sublingual spray. I always wonder about people who buy pharmaceutical products after getting spam emails, and I think obtaining your enhancement drugs over the phone is just as scary.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Uplifting news story

Exciting news here in Lincoln, as today's paper reports two quality instances of shoplifting. Abercrombie and Fitch noticed they were missing 180 t shirts, valued at $4410, prompting one wag to comment that works out to $24.50 per, and wonder who the actual thief was. Victoria's Secret reported 60 bras lifted, with a value of $2700.
There should be a joke, beyond uplifting in there, but I don't yet see it.
Another keen observer noted that even at 5 ounces per t shirt, the A & F theft would weigh 56 pounds, and not exactly be the kind of theft you slip in your pants' pocket, or under your coat.
We'll keep you informed of any breaking news.