Sunday, September 25, 2016

Music Collection...

People still buy records. Used records and new releases. I'll pay up to $5 and maybe $10 if I have to have it and I kind of had a policy that I would not buy a new release on record but I violated that when something came out that I had to have and it was on record only. They always have a way of getting you.

On my travels around this summer I only bought one used record. It was some African drumming, an early 70s release and it related to a book I was reading on the music of Cuba. I bought it in Chicago. I would guess that the hip neighborhoods of Chicago all have a record store every block. A record store seems to have a certain focus these days, lots of just arrived been picked over for the rarities $1-$3 discs or collectible high priced stuff. I can usually just walk in and tell if I'm feeling it or not and should start digging through the bins. In Munich I saw this booth at the old Marianplaz market. I did not even browse because I figured this guy had found all the good stuff. I could not feel it. 

In Innsbruck there was music in our AirB&B apartment. I don't remember what Cathy had picked out but for whatever reason we could not make the stereo play.   


Here is the owner of the apartments collection. Not bad, a little on the heavy side.  


This week I cleaned up our music room about as good as it ever gets. There is a couple of music rooms at my house. One is for instruments. Cleaning up means picking up records and cds off the floor and cramming them in what shelf space is available. I remember when we bought that cd rack. We though we were set for life. I built the record cabinet in the 70s. It was designed to hold 100 records per shelf. There is probably 200 records on the floor. That's about 45 years of collecting. 

For some reason and I can't exactly verbalize it but if you have all your music on your phone, I pity you. 
I do listen to my phone also, maybe that's why but it's only when I can't get to this room. 


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Woke Up With Things on My Mind...

Sometimes things pop up in my head and I try to find a way to tie them together or at least get them down in this space so that maybe one day me or my editor (a person that does not exist yet) will go back and see a way that fits things in a place we might not have originally seen. So it was this morning I woke up thinking about a Baptist preacher, a beer party and a mosaic of the Last Judgment I saw and photographed in Prague. 

A couple of years ago, one Sunday morning I found myself in a Baptist church. Although now Catholic but raised a Baptist, not unusual. Let the legend say something like it was a family obligation, a civic duty or the plane was going down. The preacher was an old school guy but he had updated his message for modern behaviors very nicely. I don't recall the verse he preached on but he said if there was a new restaurant in town he would not want to go to it if it was not good. None of us would. We ask each other "have you eaten at the new place? Was it good?"  We want to know before we get there and I won't forget his inflection, cadence and the way he emphasized the word good by seeming to add a few extra letters such as n and u to drag the word out so we knew that good was important. 

Back when I first began to participate in facebook someone invited me to "like" a group they had put together based on a beer party that took place in the early 1970s. Without facebook event invites I was not even aware it took place at the time and was too young to drive out to the location although I will admit that had I known of such I would have been very curious. The reason I was asked to be a group member was that  I did get to know some of the principles involved in this beer party thing. Even though I have not drank a beer in over 20 years people seem a bit surprised even today that I have not been drinking but I'll let you study on that. At about the same time as all this was organizing I was forming a facebook group at my local church and I do remember being a bit jealous that the beer party had more likes than a baited patch supposedly interested in the resurrection of Christ. Anyway time does tell and my group overtook the beer party and interest traveled far and wide. There was no money but there were compliments and publicity which really may lead to worse sins that anything that goes on at a beer party barring murder or occult practices. 

So speaking of party, Christ, and time we come to St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and the mosaic on the side by the Golden Portal. It's a depiction by Venetian artists dating to the 1300s of the Last Judgement.

A quick history tells that the first church on this site replaced a pagan temple in 930. St. Vitus was chosen as a name because it kind of sounded like the same name the pagans had for their sun god and besides Good King Wenceslaus (yeah, that guy) had one of the Saint's arms. Hopefully this all went smooth for the pagans because I can see how if not explained properly there could be some misunderstandings with the relic business and with cultural misunderstanding there is war and so forth.    


It took 600 years to build this church with some work still being done in the 1920s. Here you see the Golden Portals where the Royals entered. With a lot of current discussion most of it at beer parties about the lack of God in life I could see how it might be an effective technique to have the leaders of the country or anybody for that matter walk under and consider their judgment, not someone else's  at least once a week.  


Looks like good tattoo material. I have a large religious tattoo on my back so no room for this but there is always my big head.  


My favorite part. The dead rise from the ground on the last judgment. Lots of folks want you to be scared of this but as I say barring murder and too much enthusiasm for ghost stories I will bet that most of my friends, even those at beer parties get to do this. My Heaven has a pretty wide gate and I want you to notice that all coffins are open in this photo. None remain closed so remember, as I have stated before, everything means something.   


Looks like musicians will have a gig. Glad I play a horn. I don't know where you are going to plug in your amp or set up the drums. Oh wait, if you get to dance around with a tambourine can I swap with you for a while? 


And finely notice that the rich people are standing on the ground. It could have been a burning in Hell kind of scene painted here but hey, they rode till the real King came and now they should see that walking is not so bad. The musicians are flying in the air and the dead some of which include, as statics demonstrate, people who after drinking at that old beer party went on to drink themselves completely out of existence are all going to be OK. I think you will be too.     


So if you are wondering, the last judgment is going to be like a beer party. It will be good! 

So if you are wondering all this material including photos produced  and property of me. 
        .     

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Place to Listen...

I often visit the city. It is the only place I can get some relief from skinning all the catfish my wife catches here in rural East Texas and I know that folks like this area because it's not the city. They feel the city is all crowded and run and gun all the time. There are places to be found in the city, especially a historical city and I like to listen and hear the voices of the past in these places. 

While out bike riding on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans we picked up po-boy samiches and boudan at a little local spot and as it was a lunch counter place with no sit down service we looked for a place to sit and eat. We found this area on the bank of the river.  

With the river levee to the left and the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the distance someone has put up this rope swing for good simple fun. Simple fun might be all that's available to the swing builder as this neighborhood has a high crime rate and is one of the poorest in the country.  


Trying for an art photo here as I look and listen. No one else is around out side the levee and few people pass on the nice walking biking trail that tops it. Maybe it's just the afternoon heat but it gives me a chance to   hear the voices that came before. This area was land granted as a plantation in 1719. The voices of the plantation slaves rang out on this ground. It did not incorporate until 1800 as a city. Legend says it was  called Algiers possibly because the French Quarter is close across the river or that  it looked liked that country when viewed from a boat.  

Along the river here slaves imported from Africa were held  to recover from the terrible voyage before being taken to the slave markets across the river in the French Quarter. Later when importation ended and slave breeding became an industry the sounds of this time, the songs brought from across the water were lost, the prayers for help to the belief systems of these peoples from various countries thrown together in misery forgotten.  Listen to them echo. They are here.

The the Acadians who became the Cajuns when expelled by the British from Nova Scotia were also held here during the French and Indian War. They were a little more successful in establishing and maintaining a culture. Even persecuted they were free. The voices are here.


On the West Bank there were ship and rail yards. They were so mechanically proficient that any part for a train or steamship could be manufactured. Until the building of the Huey P. Long Bridge in the 1930s up river rail cars crossed by barge. Other traffic crossed here by ferry until 1958.  Cathy made this picture of the sandblasting of a ship hull in dry dock. Listen to the old voices, deck hands, steamboat captains, ferry men, conductors, engineers and sailors from around the world.


This photo was made I think from the bike trail zooming up St. Louis Cathedral across the river. You can see the tourist crowds and I admit I have made many a photo from the park in the foreground with the old church as a back drop. History is there but with the crowds it's harder to hear the voices of the past. The city, the people intrude in and sometimes it just becomes a place you rush past. 



Stop, listen, find out who we are. 

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

For the Fishing Log...

A quick blog post for the fishing log. With Pop and Geneva, 42 cats, 9-12 PM 30' deep. Ten pounds of fillets






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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

More From the Alps...

Ok, to dispel any confusion due to a facebook profile photo I am not in the Alps today. I spent a pretty routine but pleasant day at the old day job, went by my mom's, rode an exercise bike 45 minutes and made a wretchedly ethnic but crudely beautiful and effect percussion instrument. Since all that kind of blows a hole in my whole myth making hero status I do have photos from the Austrian Alps above Innsbruck.  

The Innsbruck valley has been inhabited since the stone age. Here is looking down the mountain, Note the gondola cars, and the people hiking and biking on the trails. Winter sports are big and Innsbruck has hosted the 1964 and 1976 Olympics. You see many people, more in Austria but some in Germany that hike using what looks to be two ski poles with maybe a bit of adaptation for no snow as a balance or perhaps a practice/conditioning aid. It might be the way they get ready for the season. I can only admire the folks pulling this mountain on bikes. 

Cathy sits on the edge. Really great views and a good place to sit and reflect at a restaurant patio.  


The it's a small world encounter. Beverly and Ross, our hosts for this trip greet a friend of Beverly's, Melody and her husband Ronnie who were vacationing with a grandchild in the baby stroller. Melody has been the Special Education Zsar for the U.S. Department of \Education, soon to be teaching at Ol Miss and Ronnie was the governor of Mississippi 1996-2004.  Just never know who you will run into. 


Despite the good view, the friends and people watching available me and Cathy set out for the top. 


This summer I have hiked in the rainforest, the Alps and second lined in the French Quarter. At my age I could be forgiven for having a heart attack but on this climb I took note that the others I encountered seemed to be huffing and puffing also. I'm not worried.  



If you look close there are bits of snow in shady, high places. 


Careful where you step. There was animal poop in the grassy spots. We did not see any but looked to be two different kinds of  critters about somewhere. Cathy says donkey and goat. Girl knows her business. 




Seems in the mountains of Europe gliders and hang gliders are a popular pastime. Good wind currents. 


This guy was setting up a hang glider. For you therapy types reading this he had a recently healed Open Reduction Internal Fixation of the right ankle. From the looks of the surgical incision I would guess that this day might have been his first flight since he broke it, and we can only assume, on his last flight.  




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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Garfield Park...

Life in the big city.. Lots of people. Crowded. Those things come to mind pretty easily especially if you are trying to drive and park a car. There are nice places to find to get away from this and we find them sometimes as we bicycle around the cities we travel to. In Chicago we found Garfield Park and Conservatory. 

I does not take and great leap of reasoning to figure out that the park was named for President James Garfield. Garfield was assassinated in 1881 and after 11 weeks of various sufferings mostly caused by the un-sterile medical techniques of the time he wondered aloud what his place in history would be and died. The park which was originally opened in 1874 was named for him after his passing.  It is the site of the largest greenhouse plant conservatory in the USA. The park which was designed by William LeBaron Jenny, the father of the skyscraper and opened in 1905. 

Seeing the French design influence on the Garfield Park Field House I bet you thought "He's in Paris" but the ADA approved hand rails give us away as the USA. 


The Field house is beautiful inside and is used by the city for parks and recreation type after school programs. 


Inside the plant conservatory. 


Cathy finds the plant of life, the chocolate tree. 


Koi pond. There are also ponds on the park grounds. I will never travel without my pocket fisherman again. 


The desert room. 


A mosaic in 10th century Moroccan style. Don't worry, it's a recreation, not stolen.   


Outside of the conservatory. It underwent a restoration project in 1994 and still follows the original vision of it's designer. 


As for old John Garfield It's a good day to remember him. The most memorable quote of his inauguration speech in what was still an age of Reconstruction addressed his belief that the rights of freedmen were eroded by southern white resistance and illiteracy. Garfield said " Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen."  Garfield had a plan but did not get to carry it out. These issues still make the news today.  

Singer songwriter John Prine thought about the Late John Garfield. Here is one of his tunes. Listen to it and get away from the crowd and go to a park. 

 

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Friday, September 09, 2016

Street Musicians Europe...

I have noted that when I tell folks that we will be busking downtown that the word "busk" is often new to them. Busking means street performance for gratuities. Street performance, it can be music or anything entertaining is practiced the world over but it's something new in Lufkin. It was very gratifying recently as we busked downtown to have the young man from Seattle come up and tell us it reminded him of home to see us playing on the street. I doubt I will devote much time to long term performing bands as I have in the past but  continue to polish my street act as I can incorporate everything I play from the cigar box guitar to the tuba into an act.

Here are some photos form Europe of street musicians. All musicians were tipped for their work. The accordion player was on a Munich street.  

Clarinet plays in Munich. 


Beverly's favorite. 


Organ Grinder. 


Plenty of work for organ grinders. 


Classical guitar Munich. 


Hurdy Gurdy Man invites sing along in Bavaria 


Pretty good dixieland music in Prague. Banjo was top notch and I want to be the percussionist when I grow up. 


Traditional trumpet fanfare every hour on the hour Prague. 


Some type of modern tongue drum  St. Charles Bridge Prague. 


Munich. I have bid on ebay a couple of times for a big triangle shaped bass like that but fortunately for yall I have not won yet.  


We made friends with these folks in Prague. They pointed us to a good music club. 


We are thinking about busking at the food truck tonight. It's not the scheduled night but what the hey. 



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