Friday, February 25, 2005

One night in bangkok.

Made my second and perhaps final trip to the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood for Thai Dinner Party Workshop. The class was taught by caterer Lynda Posey of Laurel, MS. This is her daughter. I especially enjoyed making the Tom Kha Gai and Pad Thai recipes, two of my staple orders eating out at Thai restaurants from the Bay Area's Berkeley Thai House through South Jackson's Thai House to London's Sri Siam Soho.

Stayed at the Viking-owned boutique hotel, The Alluvian. Rooms were beautifully appointed and spacious (especially nice was the sauna-like marble seat in the wide shower stall; if it hadn't been 31 degrees this morning, I would have had breakfast outside on their fourth floor terrace. I wandered down to the Greenwood Delta Blues & heritage Museum run by Steve LaVere who holds the intellectual property rights for the Robert Johnsons Estate. Steve Cheseborough worked here before he wrote the book on Mississippi Blues Tourism. Had a nice chat with Mr. LaVere and picked up a few pieces of blues vinyl by Howlin' Wolf and Robert Lockwood (the musical heir of local legend Robert Johnson). One of the highlighs of the museum was its gold record collection, featuring albums which had Robert Johnson tunes on them--everybody from Cream and Clapton to Zeppelin, Skynyrd, and even Elton John!

By the way, whatever happened to Murray Head? I didn't realize Chess was the first ABBA-composed musical!

I'm going to see my friend John Brocato play live tonight at Roxie's. He hasn't played live in Starkville since last year's Cotton District Arts Festival. It's gonna be fun!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Love song for no one (any given thursday).

Now that it has been officially confirmed by both the artists management and the local booking agent.

I'm very please to announce the following co-present:

4 AD Recording Artists
The Mountain Goats

Live at Martin's, Jackson, MS

April 7, 2005.

Be there or . . .
and we say April Goats showers, please bring May Shins flowers!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What is hip (part 3); or, long distance runaround

I was once a pretty good long distance swimmer: I completed a swim-a-thon (5000 meters) in under an hour at age 14, that's something like a continuous 1:10 pace per hundred for 50 hundreds (4 laps in this particular pool). I don't naturally come by a lot of athletic talent, so I had to work pretty hard to accomplish such achievements as age group bronze medals at Florida Junior Olympics, AAAA time standards in most events at 13-14, and "most famously" a 4th place at Junior Olympics the second time I ever swam the 500 free in competition as a 12 year old (more on this later). My success until I entered high school in 1978 was due to two coaches at the Tallahassee Swim Team (TST) which later became the Area Tallahasse Aquatic Club (ATAC) in 1979: Gerry Norris and Terry Maul.

Terry Maul ca. 2005

The mighty TST at '76 Killearn Invitational (which we won going away).
Terry's on the left; Gerry on the right; I'm in between wearing visor in first seated row.

Gerry graduated from FSU in 1974 and, even as an undergrad, was a part-time coach at TST, where I started swimming at Wade Wehunt Pool at Myers Park during the summer of 1971. Note: this pool was fed by a natural aquifer, so it had crystal clear but ice cold water. He served as coach and director of TST and ATAC for another decade before becoming an administrator with the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department under Randy Trousdell on a team which in that time has builta nationally recognized program. Gerry always made practice fun. Under his tutelage, I mastered the basics of all four strokes and became a more than competent age group swimmer.

In 1975, Terry Maul became the Head Coach of the FSU Women's Swim Team and the TST swim program as well. This is the moment when I really became a serious yearround age group swimmer going to practice before school, lifting weights at FSU atheletics stadium complex, cross training with things like elastic cords and the infamous sideways skateboard pull up the underneath stadium ramps at Doak Campbell, practicing again after school, and swimming outside in inclement weather. One morning it was actually snowing while we swam outdoors (in a heated pool of course). It was cold enough your hair froze on the way to the locker room and ice formed in your flippers between uses. Technically the most important thing he ever taught me with respect to distance swimming was alternate breathing (that is switching sides) which smoothed out a tendency I had only to breathe to the right and thus veer that direction slightly. I also perfected my buttefly stroke under his tutelage setting up what would become my best events (distance free, 200 fly and 400 IM). In previous incaranations I had been first a very good breaststroker and then a quality backstroker (I swam that stroke leadoff on our 11-12 medley relay about which more post haste). Truth be told I was always a bit of an all rounder. My two bronze medals at the state level actually came in the 200 yard breaststroke.

In 1976, our 11-12 200 yard medley relay bested a state record at the Killearn Invitational. The time couldn't be double checked so we didn't "set" the record, and honestly Killearn's pool was notoriously fast and in all likelihood slightly shorter than an actual 25 yards. Most impressively perhaps, we lapped every other team in the pool beating the second place team by 55 yards in a 200 yard race!

That's me in the back. Steve Kupiszewski (standing in front of me) went to Arizona State University on a swimming scholarship after being high point scorer and Florida Swimmer of the Year at the 1981 High School Championships. He's now a night court judge in the Phoenix area, where he presided over Glen Campbell's DUI booking a few years back! I don't really know what happened to Greg or Kyle (to my right and left respectively).

Later that summer we had one last go round against national caliber competition at the Cincinnati Marlin's Invitational, still the farthest distance I ever travelled to an age group meet; we did not embarass ourselves in the at-that-time relatively unfamiliar long course (50 meter Olympic size pool) format, finishing 5th in our first ever national competition. Most exciting, local product Jim Montgomery became the first man to break the 50 second barrier in winning the 100 meter freestyle Gold Medal at the Montreal Olympics, which we watched on a big screen as the meet was briefly interrupted. It should be noted the world's best sprinter South African Jonty Skinner was not allowed to swim at these Olympics lest the majority of African nations had boycotted over the RSA's apartheid practices. A movement which led to the 1980 and 1984 political boycotts by the US and the Soviet bloc respectively. Skinner got his revenge crushing the record and Montgomery in Philadelphia later that summer at the U S Outdoor Nationals. Now he's a naturalized citizen and works for USA Swimming. Thanks to Rick Demont's tutelage at the University of Arizona South African swimming set a new high point winning the 400 meter freestyle relay at the Athens Olympics.

Still later that summer I came into my own as a swimmer at the Florida Junior Olympis in Bartow, FL. Several months before the AAU had decided to experiment with allowing 11 and 12 year olds to compete in a distance event, the 500 yard freestyle. I swam my first 500 at the Sattelite Beach Invitational and followed coach's orders by negative splitting a 5:50 pace, feeling I could have gone much faster. At Jr. Olympics, I decided on my own to go for it, all the while alternate breathing. I dropped over 30 seconds from my time finishing in 5:12.12 and "might" have won a medal had it not been for a miscue by my assigned lap card person. More importantly, the icy cool facade of Coach Maul split, as mutliple witnesses attest he was seen jumping up and down and yelling for me to "get it into gear" and "swim faster"! I went on to have a decent swimming career despite my short height, non-swimmer's build, and general lack of athletic talent. I did win two bronze medals at the state level, walked onto a Division 1 Top 10 team at Harvard where I earned a letter and joined the Varsity Club. But the summer of 1976 was arguably my best as a swimmer. In 1977, I lived in Freiburg-im-Briesgau, West Germany and swam throughout Germany while my father held a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt fellowship. I was visited by my friend and fellow relay member Steve K. We played at being Mark Spitz in Munich at the Olympic Park. I was also visited by my 8th grade algebra teacher, Mr. Davis, who had taught me some rudimentary German. He will be a future featue of this column. I last ran into Coach Maul outside Mexico City in December 1981, where the Harvard Men's Team and FSU Women's Team trained with and competed against the Mexican Olympic Squad. I've seen Gerry numerous times over the years in my hometown of Tallahassee, Fl. I haven't swum competitively since April 1982.

I won't conclude with a bunch of uninteresting clichés and platitudes about the value of sport. I will simply say that swimming got me in shape and convinced me that I could succeed at athletics. I learned a lot about discipline, hard work, and stick-to-it-tiveness from Coaches Norris and Maul. Finally the endless lap swimming allowed me to do some of my best thinking with respect to essay writing. In grad school I replaced swimming with long jogs in the Stanford Foothills, during which I puzzled out intractable textual problems in Shakespeare plays. For all that, thanks Terry and Gerry!

Shop around.

My mother has been visiting since last Tuesday. She claims "it's been a long time since I was last in Starkville." She was here less than five months ago! You decide. We had a good visit.

Yesterday, we drove west along Highway 82 into the Delta and to Greenwood, MS, where we investigated Cotton Row, cruised along Grand Avenue, and drove beside the muddy Yazoo. Also visited Cotonlandia, a better than usual local museum. I especially enjoyed the archaeology room full of Mississipian period polychrome Indian pottery from the Humber-McWilliams site. The history of Greenwood and Leflore county rooms were well laid out as well. Unfortunately, the two nicest watercolors from the current Robin Whitfield exhibition were already sold. We also went shopping downtown. My favorite was Dancing Rabbit Books and its lengthy walk-in "closet" lined with used books. Mom liked their photo of the famous Shelby, MS juke joint--The Dew Drop Inn.

Unfortunately our plans to eat Lusco's didn't happen because the restaurant was shuttered due to the Cotton Ball. Fortunately, Harvey's was serving our favorite quiche option, crawfish!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This is not a photograph.

Here are the rest of my catoptric banner submissions with commentary.

Tree themes

This big foreign tree is a landmark in Santa Barbara down by the ocean and railroad station.

This lone oak was damaged in the Stanford Foothills fire. The radio dish shot on catoptric is from the same area. Originally Frederick Law Olmstead wanted to put the Stanford campus up here; fortunately he didn't, and now it's a great green space on the Peninsula. It's a small range 800+ feet that backs up to coastal range 3000+ feet.

Bridge themes

They don't call it the Golden State for nothing

The Bay Bridge doesn't get the love but is equally as beautiful a structure. Famous from George of the Jungle, The Graduate, and The Maltese Falcon.

The Bixby Bridge in Big Sur just south of Carmel is almost as famous a feat of engineering as the Lyn Cove viaduct in Virginia. You've seen it in a hundred car ads.

A famous early railway bridge in the Yorkshire Dales on the Leeds to Blackpool line.


This shot is with back facing City Lights Bookstore looking across Jack Kerouac Alley at the famous Beat bar Vesuvio. This mural adorns the outside wall.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Across the universe.

What can I say the first minute and a half of this all star sing-a-long was effing dreadful and an embarassment to all involved with normally sure-footed artists singing out of key and not into their mics (Hey Stevie over here man). It was rescued a bit by Wonder's harmonica riffing towards the end. And was this the most random assortment of talent since the horrible Beatles thing last year, only salvaged by Pharrel Williams' drumming. Note to self: Slash and Steven Tyler looked awfully cool together. Now there's the basis for a supergroup I'd pay to see. Normally a sucker for charity records—I have the Two-Tone "Starvation" 7" (the best ever made) for example—I'll have to find another venue to support Tsunami Aid.

Make a joyful noise.

Moby's new single "Beautiful" might just be the best windows-down cruising tune since the Cranberries' "Zombie"! It is assuredly a return to the electronica-cum-powerpop glory days of Everything's Gone Wrong Again.

A fine romance.

A special Happy Valentine's Day to some special ladies in my life.

Bailey as the Church lady

My Swingin' Pals Marissa and Bailey

Talley with Raggedys

Lily spies Daddy approaching

Harper's first tailgate. Go Dawgs! Class of 2025?

Curious Bailey cooks!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Mrs. robinson.

'Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?" Now they're all dead, as Marilyn Monroe's last famous paramour, and in this case husband, Arthur Miller died yesterday at 89. He was a mighty liberal activist and artist of the old school and will be missed.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

House party.

They held one for rivalry week at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The final 18 seconds were some of the best man-to-man defense I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Back at the chicken shack.

The master of the Hammond B3 organ has left us. I have no sermon for you, but I know that's some heavenly house party about to break out. Jimmy Smith, R.I.P.

What is hip? (part 2)


1969-70 sure seems like it was "a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." It would also prove to be my most adventurous year to date. My father had his first sabbatical as Biochemistry professor at FSU and would work with an eventual Nobellist in Sweden, Bengt Samuelsson. We joined an FSU group on Alitalia out of JFK, my first trip to the Big Apple, and a thrill to be in that famous TWA terminal 7,


and flew into Pisa. FSU had a study abroad program in Florence. We slowly made our way north across Europe, stopping in Wolfsburg to pick up a 1970 baby blue VW squareback. Finally we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden and the Wenner-Gren Center, a mini scientific United Nations, where we had a three room apartment; here I am on the back patio modelling some German lederhosen. Meanwhile back in Tallahassee, FL school busing started and my neighborhood (white and full of liberal professors was paired with an all black school that was far closer to another white neighborhood, but one full of conservative, working class types (hmm . . . ). Furthermore, they also built a new "white school" Astoria Park, which opened in 1969, across Tharpe Street from San Luis Ridge. I attended first grade at the Stockholm International School, then known as the Anglo-American school after its primary clientele, at Johannesgatan 18, which had been a school since the late 19th century. Over the side entrance was a stone inscription, "Brummerska Skolan grundad 1882." I really enjoyed reading and writing in my diary there. The only bad day was when our teacher, Miss Spillett from Dover, taught the class to sing "Georgy Porgy," really not what a five year old needs to hear from his classmates! The British are a bit different. We had a fantastic, formal sit-down lunch every day. Annually on December 13th, the school had a special Lucia celebration; it was a highlight of my four months there.

I also loved tramping around the cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, seeing Joan Baez sing "Blowing in the Wind" at Tivoli, visiting Skansen, and viewing the recently salvaged Vasa at the original temporary Vasavarvet.

When I returned home to the States, I got ready for my first day of US 1st grade at John G. Riley Elementary. I walked from 1301 Parga Street down the hill to the intersection with San Pedro Ave, where I caught the bus. I spent my first day in first grade quite miserable. No other student in the class could read (not a requirement of the FL DoE then) and I got yelled at because I colored a tree outside the lines of my giraffe picture and colored the giraffe purple with blue spots. It had to be "yellow and brown" to be correct. Jesus H. Christ lady kill an imagination before it's even begun. Anyway I said the right things to my Mom because magically the next day after some time at the Principal's office I was now a second grader assigned to MS. Dena West's class. That was o.k. skipping a grade so young, if mainly because all the kids I had grown up around were 3-6 months older than I and in second grade anyway.

Dena West (then) was a groovy chick as the picture above attests. A native Tampan; she had recently graduated from USF in Tampa. She taught for 1 1/2 years there before moving to Tallahassee. Anyway Dena was in her first year of what would be a short lived teaching career, but a spectacular one whatever its length. I loved her as much as I loved Miss Spillett back at the Anglo-American School in Stockholm, but Dena had the kind of deft touch that would never do anything in a classroom which might even accidentally backfire on a child. Well except for those old floor heaters (basically pipes full of hot water running under the floor--real bright idea in an elementary school, no?). They always turned on on the hottest days and many a Krayola was offered up to their wrath until it looked like we had a rainbow coalition wax floor covering.

Dena sure knew how to make a new student fell right at home. She took me to the front of class and told students that I had just returned from living in Sweden and then showed them where that was on an overhead flat world map. Then she announced "His name is George Evans but we will call him G. E.," and thus the "legend" was born. Ironically no one else had ever noticed this simple fact about my given name. That half year went by in a rush, but I remember it as being endlessly educational and fun beyond all resonable expectation and involving lots of A+++++s and multliple gold stars (but note everyone in the class got their week to shine and receive special commendations). When you're six, it should be about encouragement not competition. I also know that special introduction earned me the undying "love" of every little girl in the class. For the next two and a half years I had the only female posse I've ever pulled. I'm not sure why it collapsed in fifth grade. But hey ancient history, ne-c'est pas?

I had forgotten but Dena reminded me that she made the unusual shift of moving up with our class from second to third grade. So she taught me for 1 and 1/2 years and then moved on to other ventures. But really, her leaving education wasn't MY fault!

It takes a special kind of teacher to hold onto an old photo and badly drawn birthday card and then send them on as a return birthday gift 30+ years later. I only hope I treat my special former students with the same thoughtfulness, love, and respect in the future. Thanks Ms. West!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Did you see jackie robinson hit that ball?

I see in today's USA Today that the Selecção, the Portuguese national team, will wear special black and white team uniforms as part of nike's "standupspeakup" campaign to protest the racism rampant in soccer instead of their usual red and green. Football has had a hand in combating racism. Nowhere is this moreso than in Brasil, where passion for the "beautiful game" outweighs considerations of color. It also didn't hurt that Pelé had preternatural skills.


The Jeopardy Ultimate Tournament of Champions begins tomorrow. I'd prefer to see Ken Jennings compete straight up with everybody else, but I guess his winning streak earns him the bye. Since they seeded some other great players (see Frank Spangenberg, my personal favorite) I guess I can't complain too much, but still a BYE straight to the finals. C'mon!

Monday, February 07, 2005

What is hip?

Long before Victor Conte formed Balco, he played bass for Oakland, CA's Tower of Power from 1978-9. During that period they asked the classic question which titles this entry numerous times. It will be the first in a series of reminiscences about the great teachers I have had the privilege to meet and study with/under over the years. They won't all be teachers in the traditional sense of a red brick school, classroom, chalkboards, and textbooks. But they all brought something special to their craft be it as a coach, a devotee of a particular instrument, or a specialist in a high-minded topic like Old Norse Sagas.

I'm starting with a professor I first met in the spring of 1983, with whom I have carried on an off-and-on correspondence for 20+ years and who did more than anyone to jumpstart my burgeoning career as a pop culture writer, even if it took me those same 20+ years to fully take the jump. He also best fits the bill of how I'd answer the title's question with respect to the topic at hand. And hey, without him, I wouldn't have my 20 year old vinyl copy of Abbey Road. But that's a story for later in this column.

John Brewer is a native Liverpudlian and the child of antiques dealers. He attended Cambridge University where he received a rare "starred" first in the History tripos. He proceeded to take a D.Phil. under J. H. Plumb, while also working with Bernard Bailyn as a Henry Fellow on a Visiting Fullbright at Harvard University. His dissertation became his first book, Party Ideology & Politics, published by Cambridge University Press in 1976. Since then he has written or co-written some 11 books on topics as diverse as crime, Britain's naval economy, satirical cartoons, the production of consumer goods in the eighteenth century, and the writing of history. His best known titles include The Birth of a Consumer Society (1982), The Sinews of Power (1989), Consumption and the World of Goods (1994), The Pleasures of the Imagination (1997), and A Sentimental Murder (2004). He has held academic positions at Cambridge, Washington University at St. Louis, Yale, Harvard, UCLA, European University Institute, Chicago, and Caltech, where he is currently Eli and Edye Broad Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of History and Literature. From 1987-1991, he was also Director of the Clark Library at UCLA.

Of the books, I'd like to speak briefly about one of the now least well known, the collection of essays on law and rule which Brewer co-edited with John Styles. Of all the volumes coming out of the vibrant cultural exchange between British social history and the Annales School of France in the mid-seventies, An Ungovernable People (1983) had the widest range and the most purely fascinating essays even moreso than Albion's Fatal Tree, even if the latter's impact in the field of history was probably greater. Two personal faves were Keith Wrightson's study of two concepts of order (but then I too became a scholar of the early modern alehouse) and John Style's work on renegade Yorkshire coiners (who knew people filed down 18th century coins because they were made from actual precious metals?!?). These kind of detail specific studies which also generalize to larger theoretical concerns are always my favorite scholarly work. Here I must venture afield to mention my single favorite academic essay of all time, Dick Hebdige's "Object as Image," a heavily theoretical wide-ranging historical reconsideration of the various gender stereotypings of the Italian motorscooter from its birth as mass transit in the immediate post-war aftermath to its transition into a fashion accessory at the height of the mods versus rockers clashes down Brighton way.

I've had to blather on for this length about John's scholarship because it's so central to his identity and to his teaching, in a way that only the best teachers can integrate cutting edge material for undergraduates. Brewer arrived at Harvard from Yale as one of two young, modishly fashionable, and impossibly brilliant Cambridge-trained historians (the other was Simon Schama), the main distinction being John only had one set of colored plastic framed glasses--green if memory serves. I decided to take a look at "The Hanoverian Golden Age 1680-1790" in the spring of 1983 because the previous year's Confidential Guide to Courses at Harvard-Radcliffe 1981-82 had talked it up and Brewer was the chair of my concentration (translation: major), History and Literature. Here's how the Confi Guide introduced Brewer:
Yes, there is hope for you sophisticated scholars. Tired of not being taken seriously just because you're cool? Follow the example of John Brewer: he wears green-rimmed glasses, new-wave neckties, and a gangster hat, cuts his hair to the scalp, and is one of the leading historians in his field.
The authors went on to note that Brewer's lectures were highly organized yet still passionate: "He jumps around the stage, from maps to blackboard to slide screen, cursing irresponsible historians, and bellowing out the Truth." Most telling was their conclusion:
More than a lecturer, more than a fashion-plate, John Brewer is a teacher. His interest in students occasionally overflows into demagoguery and bad jokes, but the sentiment is there.
That indeed was the John Brewer I came to know well and admire in my remaining two years in Cambridge. That class is also one of those special ones where what you really learned only becomes clear in the long run. I didn't do quite as well as I had hoped (My grade? None of your business and that's not the point of this essay anyway); however, I still regularly refer to and use concepts from E.P. Thompson's classic essays on the "moral economy of the crowd" and "class struggle without class." In fact, the latter informs a recent essay I wrote connecting the Mekons and punk rock to American Alt.Country. In that class John had the publishers rush us pre-publication copies of Roy Porter's mighty little English Society in the 18th Century, invited John Styles over from Bath to lecture on class, and hosted a visit by Graham Swift, who'd just finished but hadn't yet published Waterland. Now that's what I call intellectual juice!

As I was preparing for my fellowship year abroad at York, he arranged to have lunch at one of Cambridge's hidden gems, Iruña. Over spanish omelettes and a pitcher of Sangrìa, he took me through everything I'd need to know to survive life in a British university, suggested some less well known tourist trips worth making, and generally helped me prepare for life abroad by myself (I had lived in Stockholm, Sweden and Freiburg-im-Briesgau, Germany previously but always with my family). As always we also talked about my latest musical finds.

That semester he also taught a new, experimental class, "Britain since 1945." This grand interdisciplinary course featured a listening party of the finest British rock and roll from Tenpole Tudor right the way through to the latest offering from the Smiths, an incredibly diverse reading list, and a fantastic film series with everything from Albert Finney's starring debut in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning through Peter Seller's brilliant dual roles in I'm All Right Jack to Bob Hoskin's modern noir classic The Long, Good Friday and my personal favorite Bill Forsyth's small gem Gregory's Girl featuring Altered Image's oh so fetching frontwoman, Clare Grogan. I wrote a paper based on research I did at the British Library's Music divison during spring break in London on the politics of punk rock with respect to The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Jam.

Oh yes, the in-class competition. One day in class Brewer casually mentioned he had a prize for whoever could identify the most faces on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's. Sir Peter Blake's original is in a museum now. A few days later I gave him a nearly complete list. Truth be told, I did consult some reference sources at one point, but they were mainly unreliable as so much rock writing is. One of the evils of the Internet is it makes contests like this almost pointless anymore. The next class somebody asked if the contest was still open and I was so proud to hear Brewer say, "Technically yes, but don't bother because you won't win!" Score! My prize was the purchase of an album of my choice from the Harvard Coop's famous record department, then the finest in New England. I chose Abbey Road which was the one late Beatles album I had somehow missed out on purchasing back in the late 1960s or since then. Yup, that's what I call hip.

Post-Harvard, I have had infrequent meetings with John, usually when we were both in London working at the Reading Room of the British Library. In those days it was still inside the British Museum in what is now the Great Court. We would get togther for lunch (Italian or Greek somewhere in Bloomsbury) or drinks (The Museum Tavern or The Princess Louise on High Holborn) and chat about our projects and whatever was of interest in the papers that week. John kindly put up with my sometimes overly enthusiastic naïveté. But always he asked me "What are you listening to?" as if my taste really mattered. For that and for everything else John, thanks ever so much. And as they say in my beloved Yorkshire "Ta."

In future editions of this column, which like an endless Ray Charles tune will be titled "What is Hip? Part [appropriate number here]," you'll meet amongst others the 2nd grade teacher who first dubbed me G.E. Light, the swim coach who saw me finish 4th in the state of Florida at Junior Olympics while dropping 30 seconds off my previous time in my second competitive try at the 500 yard free as a twelve year old, and the 8th grade English teacher who first showed me Citizen Kane, thus beginning my formal cinematic education.

An elegant chaos.

People I see
just remind me of mooing
Like a cow on the grass
And that's not to say
That there's anything wrong
With being a cow anyway
But people are people
With the added advantage
Of the spoken word
We're getting on fine
But I feel more of a man
When I get with the herd.

That's probably my favorite all-time song verse, which might say more about how much attention I generally pay to lyrics than the essential quality of Julian Cope's drug addled visions. Anyway it's the last verse of "An Elegant Chaos" from World Shut Your Mouth. Equally as cool is the emphatically sung grunt "Uh" that highlights the middle of the second verse: "Its not a problem of secrecy / I take it in my stride / Did I learn to breathe / To be killed like this? Uh." I just got a "used" CD copy in the mail of this favorite from my time as a Rotary Post-Graduate Fellow in England.

Julian Cope has always been sort of a mystery to Americans. The Brits certainly overhype his original group, The Teardrop Explodes, much as they do, in my opinion, their better known Liverpudlian brethren, Echo & the Bunnymen. But I will admit "Passionate Friend" is a nice single. Since the Teardrop really exploded, Cope has been on some strange musical journey of self-realization whose highlight is probably the double eco-psyschedlic classic, Peggy Suicide. World Shut Your Mouth is his most accessible album.

Today I did one of those 5 DVDs for 5 night deals. In alphabetical order:

De Lovely
La Dolce Vita
Napoleon Dynamite
Ray, which didn't quite finish last week.

Given the rain coming down out there right now, I might get through two of them today. Forthcoming on TNA will be a new set of entries about my "Great Teachers," personal odes for personal heroes.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Every day I have the blues.

I'm doing my first show on WMSV, Mississippi State's "Community" Station for about 3+ years this evening. Of course I drew opposite the Super Bowl! But that's o.k., from 6-8:30 on the Juke I'm bringing the stone cold, old school blues with a few modern twists (Probably the White Stripes "Stop Breaking Down" and Moby's "Natural Blues"). The first three tracks will be Albert King, "Blues Power," John Lee Hooker, "Frisco Blues," and Jimmy Reed, "Take Out Some Insurance."

The King is the famous 1968 live recording made at the Fillmore in San Francisco, which explains track 2. The King comes from a great recent Stax compilation, We'll Play The Blues For You which is my featured CD of the week. My insurance guy Jack F. is a huge Jimmy Reed fan; Track 3 is for him. Plus we're trying to get him to co-underwrite The Juke with Rick's, where we recently held WMSV Blues Night. From there, anything goes: Memphis Minnie, Robert Johnson, Eddie Cusic, Etta James, Charlie Patton, Champion Jack Dupree, Hound Dog Taylor and his Houserockers, Pinetop Perkins, R.L. Burnside, Howlin' Wolf, The Fieldstones, and on and on and on.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I love my label.

Stay tuned for major breaking news about a The Nevermind Aesthetic co-presents at Martin's in early April featuring a 4AD recording artist. Yes, you anglophiles that 4AD! And they said it couldn't be done. PSSHAWW!

Stay hungry.

So I went and did this this evening. I like to cook but have no formal training beyond watching a lot of instructional shows over the years. One thing they can't really teach is the proper technique for holding knives and doing all that quick, repetitive chopping with ease. I'm no Martin Yan yet, but I feel like my cooking will go better and be easier now. I'm also going back in a few weeks for a Thai cooking class, the one kind of ethnic cooking I'm really interested in learning how to do myself.

Tonight I mastered the batonnet, brunoisette, chiffonade, cocasse, hacher, emincer, and rondelle. But my tourné needs work before it will past muster at Fleur de Lys. Yes, our instructor, Chris Marquis, was Le Cordon Bleu trained. I really enjoyed the class and managed to get away without getting sucked into the post-class shopping frenzy. The classes are well done and underpriced but clearly set-up to move merchandise and perhaps eventually kitchen refits. I was surprised that there were far more men than women at this class (maybe because it had the word Knife in the title!).

Greenwood reminded me a lot of my visit to Clarksdale a few years ago: a decaying central downtown with numerous boarded up buildings and a general sense of better times in the past but a hint of urban renewal in the air due to a singular angel. Clarksdale first moved the Delta Blues Museum from the library to the Train Depot and then along came Morgan Freeman and Madidi and Ground Zero. In Greenwood, it's Viking Range Corporation, the Viking Culinary School, the new Alluvian Hotel and the opening soon (April 1st no joke) Mockingbird Bakery, where our knife instructor will supervise the kitchen.

After class, I drove across the tracks to Lusco's. My booth was the second one on the right, and that was my server. I had the famous head on whole Pompano and for dessert an orange chocolate cheesecake, really a chocolate cheesecake topped by an intense orange meringue but with the added touch of orange peel and orange juice mixed into the graham cracker crust!

Note to Speedy Marie: On the way to Lusco's, I saw my new favorite overly explanatory business name: "Likker Legger Package Store," which was definitely on the wrong side of the tracks! That's almost a triple entendre!