Saturday, April 29, 2006

April showers.

No rain marred the cocktail party at my house last night. Thanks to AC for the encyclopedia iPhoto coverage, of which the following is but a smattering of sights and events of the evening.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oops, I did it again; Or, For what it's worth.

The boys are at it again. This time Neil Young, top 25 songs.

My List
1) After the Gold Rush
2) The Needle and The Damage Done
3) Over and Over
4) Heart of Gold
5) Ohio
6) Harvest
7) Cortez the Killer (Zuma version)
8) Don't Cry No Tears
9) Arc (extended feedback loops)
10) Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) (Live Rust version)
11) Cinnamon Girl
12) I Believe in You
13) Words
14) Don't Let It Bring You Down
15) Barstool Blues
16) Southern Man
17) Mr. Soul
18) Too Far Gone
19) Winterlong
20) I'm the Ocean
21) Bandit
22) A Man Needs a Maid
23) Long May You Run
24) Helpless
25) Cowgirl in the Sand

Here's some of the the mail with two others lists that started this thread.

Ok, for those of us whose who have been in a coma since 1980, selection #13 is from Broken Arrow, and selection #21 is from Mirrorball.

1. Powderfinger
2. I Believe in You
3. Old Man
4. Harvest
5. Pocohauntas
6. Ohio
7. Comes a Time
8. Needle and the Damage Done
9. Heart of Gold
10. For the Turnstiles
11. Captain Kennedy
12. Barstool Blues
13. Big Time
14. Ambulance Blues
15. See the Sky about to Rain
16. Cinnamon Girl
17. I am a Child
18. Tell Me Why
19. Revolution Blues
20. Bite the Bullett
21. I'm the Ocean
22. Down by the River
23. Motion Picture
24. Hey Babe
25. Sugar Mountain (Live Rust)


Here's my list. Of course, I swore Neil off after he came out for Reagan in 1980, so my knowledge of his work for the past 25 years is sporadic at best. This list also includes Buffalo Springfield and CSNY tunes.

1. Thrasher
2. Cinnamon Girl
3. Powderfinger
4. Goin Back
5. Expecting To Fly
6. After The Goldrush
7. On The Beach
8. Out On The Weekend
9. Like A Hurricane
10. Broken Arrow
11. I've Loved Her So Long
12. Cowgirl In The Sand
13. I Believe In You
14. The Needle and the Damage Done
15. Journey Through The Past
16. Hold Back The Tears
17. Homegrown
18. Revolution Blues
19. Peace Of Mind
20. Pocahontas
21. Don't Cry No Tears
22. Lost In Space
23. People On The Street
24. Ohio
25. When You Can Dance I Can Really Love

Which list do you think was written by a guy with grey hair and formerly a ponytail?

Thoughts, comments, share your Top Neil choices with us as well . . .

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Let there be rock.

Only one thing could top Saturday's Cotton District Arts Festival, The Drive-By Truckers at the Old Main Music Festival. Last night, there simply wasn't a better rock band playing anywhere in the known Universe. Sure, there have been Southern three guitar bands since the early 1970s, but never one with three lead guitarists with variant styles who also serve as three distinguished singer/songwriters: Jason Isbell, the young gun and guitarmeister extraoridnaire; Mike Cooley, of the acquiline visage, and equally fluid and swooping guitar licks in the Allen Collins vein with a soupçon of Duane bottleneck for good measure; and Patterson Hood, the good ole gutbucket emotionalist who holds the whole band together and continually drives them to greater heights. Add a fine drummer, a great bassist, and at least last night a guest pedal steel guitarist and you have a recipe for one of the rock shows of your life, if you're so lucky as to acquire a ticket.

Old Union
I was lucky enough to skip last-minute replacement and Nashville Star winner, Bucky Jewell. Also hailing from Nashville, Old Union play "original coal-fired rock & roll." They were a creditable opening act for the DBTs and brought on Jason Isbell for a multi-song guest spot at the end of their set.

Isbell w:OU

The Drive-By Truckers
The DBTs set was about 90 minutes long followed by a 40 minute or so extended encore. They played across all their albums with seeming special focus on Decoration Day and The Dirty South. The latter providing a show highlight in Mike Cooley's autobiographical murder ballad, "Where the Devil Don't Stay."

They also pulled out a few tracks from their new release (as of last Tuesday), A Blessing and A Curse, and two Patterson Hood solo things.

One of the things that separates the DBTs from all the other pretenders is the sheer joy with which they always play live. It seems after years of struggle and heartache leading up to the eventual breakthrough with the Dave Barbe-mastered Southern Rock Opera, the DBTS MK 2.1 have achieved a newfound inner peace due to various marriages (Isbell and bassist Shonna Tucker are a couple) and parenthood. More importantly they seem to enjoy each other's company on stage. Sure they do a lot of cock rock posturing; they are a rock band after all. But when Isbell climbs aloft the mini drum risers to solo furiously, he's pointed directly at the bearded Brad Morgan as if to serenade him and him alone and not the crowd at his back. The truth of this comes out whenever Patterson Hood takes time to address the crowd in an extended fashion, as when he told the tale of his first ever trip to Starkville (That's Mississippi not Michigan stoneponeyhead!) as a 16 year old 25 years ago this February to see Bruce Springsteen on the River tour at the Hump. Now that's a story to tell on such a night as this.

Show highlights were the triple guitar attack to close out "Decoration Day," a particularly savage "Outfit," "My Sweet Annette," the oft-overlooked but trenchant political venom of "Puttin' People on the Moon," Hood's Southern Rock Opera anthems "Let There Be Rock" and "Ronnie and Neil" and Cooley's bitter "Shut Up and Get on the Plane" from the same. The show closer was "Buttholeville". Here Patterson begins to let it loose.

Wandering off Main Street when it was over, you felt like you had been sanctified in the mysteries of the deep, dirty, rawkin' South.

Late Addendum May 8, 2006

Prof. I.B. shared his avant garde masterpiece of the whole show scene:

Kennel district; Or, Who let the dawgs out?

Gal w:pal.JPG

Well there was much more music at THE CDAF than just Brice Miller. I saw whole sets or the better part thereof by five other artists/groups between 12:30 and 5:00 pm. Above was a brief collage of some musicians (The Mississippi Bluebloods, Drew Dieckmann, and the Keith and Margie Brown band) and some local celebs (WCBI's new Sports Guy, a gal and her dawg pal, and Gourmaes' Tony, "Vice Mayor" of the District in his new dual business role). The last two acts on the University Drive stage were The Persians and Rubber Soul buffered by Y'all's first ever Sweet Tea Consumin' contest (cuz what I saw wasn't drinkin' really).

Ya'll's Sweet tea pukefest
The Persians
Like Xerxes before them, they came, they played, they rawked, sweeping away all but the most hearty Athenian dissent. Here they are at the load-in and as the club opens.The show featured a special guest vocalist shot by

Persians load in.JPG Club is almost open.JPG

Starkville's favorite mascot Bully during a cover of Guided by Voices' "Bulldog Skin."

Bully's solo.JPG

Extreme Riffage,jpg.JPG

Steve did his usual J. Mascis noise routine.

Steve full on Mascis.JPG

The band generally rocked us like a hurricane,

And, of course, they did "Sucker with a pretty face . . ."

They even closed with a unexpected gem, Ace Frehley's one song from Kiss' 1974 eponymous debut, "Cold Gin." After all that excitement, how could Rubber Soul be anything but a let down? Well for starters "George" could tune his guitar and/or learn how to play it a lot better!

Rubber Soul
The suits were cool, the accents much better than passable, the vocals fine and the gear was . . . well "gear"! I just wonder what "Eric Burdon" was doing passing as "John Lennon."

Burdon lives!

They did the two singers at one mike stand thing successfully on more than one occasion.

Paul & George? Macca:lennon

And a good time was had by all.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cotton eyed joe.

It's that time of year again, the 10th (!) annual Cotton District Arts Festival. I arrived around 11:30 to see Brice Miller N.O. Jazz All-Stars. Two standout tracks were a fabulous version of Cannonball Adderley's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and the standard "When the Saints Go Marchin' In."

Here's Brice as Cannonball

The band also featured Doug Thomas on tenor saxophone, Columbus Mayor Jeffrey "Breezin'" Rupp on guitar, and Richard "Six" on the heavy stix. I knew His Mayorship had played in a local duo Jeff and Jeff a decade ago, but I had no idea he had legitimate jazz chops. Here he is deep in the groove (and that ain't no Lee Atwater-esque publicity photo).

Brice was the New Orleans public school system's jazz educator before Katrina "relocated" him and his family to the Golden Triangle, where he is completing an MA in teacher education at MUW. He often lectures about jazz history as well as playing the same. One favorite is the second line classic "Saints Go Marchin' In". Here Brice exhorts the crowd to "Iko Iko" Get Up.

Directin' CDAF 2nd line.jpg

The Cotton District is, of course, Starkville Mayor Dan Camp's 30 plus year old experiment in slum renewal as new urbanism. Taking a blighted neighborhood abutting a defunct cotton mill, Camp has developed one of the favorite places for MSU students to dwell. Here are two shots of street action during today's festival: Page and Maxwell (the shadier one), both looking north toward University

Page twords Univeristy.JPG Maxwell shade.JPG

It is an arts festival, so here's one of my favorite local artists, the self-taught Frank McGuigan, who usually paints with gouache.


I'm a big jazz and blues fan, so this is the McGuigan that adorns my home.

My McGuigan.JPG

Well I have to head off to the Old Main Music Festival to see the Drive-By Truckers in five minutes, so I'll close chapter one. Tomorrow more music including The Persians, The Mississippi Bluebloods, and Rubber Soul.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A hard day's night.

I spent the afternoon and early evening of Wednesday, April 19 in Office Suite 32 at an undisclosed address along S Pear Orchard Dr. "Why?," you ask. Well my mission directive was the following:
What will happen at the auditions?

Aspiring teachers and tutors are asked to give a five-minute teaching presentation, which must include some audience interaction, to [name deleted] staff and fellow auditioners. Auditioners will be stopped at five minutes, so be sure to wrap up your presentation within that time.

What topic should I choose?

Select a topic with some substance, and one that interests you:
. Do not choose a test-preparation subject.
. Do not choose a topic that focuses on physical demonstration, such as
origami, knitting, or juggling.
. A board will be available, and effective boardwork is a plus.
. Imagine that you are presenting to students, not to peers.

Examples of successful audition topics in the past include "How to Interpret the Label on a Bottle of Red Wine," "How to Find an Apartment," and "How Parachutes Work." Note that they have in common a "how to", non-academic focus and the potential for fun. In the end we are less interested in your topic than in your handling of it. We seek to measure each auditioner's skillfulness in presenting, as well as your interaction with the group (teachers) or ability to communicate one-on-one (tutors).

How will my audition be evaluated?

Your presentation will be evaluated on the following criteria:
(1) Clarity.
(2) Effectiveness and organization.
(3) Your ability to create an environment of active participation
(4) Your comfort level in front of a group
(5) Time management-that is, completing your presentation within the allotted time.
(6) Professionalism.
(7) In addition, prospective teachers will be evaluated as to their boardwork.

Prepare and practice your presentation thoroughly, with those criteria in mind. (For those primarily or exclusively interested in private tutoring, criteria #4 and 7 will matter less than the others.) Treat the audition as the job interview that it is. You will have only one opportunity to audition, so make the most of it.

Like a latter day Mr. Phelps, I set about organizing my plan. And, of course, like old whitehead, I went far beyond the specific parameters of the assignment if only to make my actual 5 mintue audition believable for myself. So I conceptualized a class and developed a syllabus for at least the first 6 three hour sessions. My audition would come from the first five minutes of session 2.

My class: a Marxisant Cultural Materialist offering entitled Object Lessons in Popular Culture.

Here's a sniff of the syllabus
Week 1 Course Intro
syllabus review, instructor and student intros, theory intro
Raymond Williams' "Dominant, Residual, Emergent"

Week 2: How Music is Heard at Home
Recording Media: CD, LP, MP3

Week 3: My Music
The portable transistor radio and the prehistory of personal stereos, Sony WalkMan, Sony D-50 "Discman", Apple iPod and other MP3 players

Week 4: My Movie
Home Productions: Super 8, 16 mm, VHS versus Betamax, DVD, Beta Redux: Blu-ray versus HD DVD

Week 5: My Photo 1
Kodak Brownie, Polaroid's Land camera, Leica M series, SLR revolution

Week 6 My Photo 2
Digital and Streaming Media
Videocameras, Camcorders, Webcams, Camera Phones (Sharp's J-SH04), Digital Photography

From this syllabus, I then set about devising a 5 minute spiel that would mimic the opening 5 minutes of Session 2. It set up thusly:
1 minute recap of Wms tripartite model of culture and now apply theory to practice

what is dominant form of recording media?-CD
(but quibble that in certain younger demographics has probably been supplanted by digital downloads)

what is residual form?-LP (but will also accept mention of any tape format and wax cylindera)

what is emergent?-MP3 or digital download/streaming media

All present know what a CD is; many know what MP3s are, but most too young to ever really have dealt with LPS, which were supplanted from dominance by CDs as long ago as 1988.

2 minutes What is an LP?
circular disc of polyvinylchloride (PVC) usually coated with carbon black to a diameter of 12" (actually 302 mm) with a thickness of 0.075" + 0.010" and cut with an modulated spiral groove. For official RIAA vinyl specifications, go here.

2 minutes How does an LP Work?
record based on analog sound recording and reproducing technology which involves a variable signal continuous in time and amplitude as opposed to CD's digital technology, which converts an analog signal into a series of digital packets with either off on (0,1) designations or as a series of steps between the designations of 0 and 1.

Time here, but if they permit me, I will close with comparison of CD and LP as sound recording media

My audience you ask. Kinda daunting, an audience of 1: the capo di capi tutti of the local organization. But he got into the spirit of the thing, answered my opening questions and then kept interrupting me with followups, so that I was worried I'd get screwed on going over time (we went on for maybe 15 minutes formally and another 10 post PowerPoint Slide above in general discussion). His best question at one point referring to residual media was, "what about tapes?" I got to do two nice things:
1. make the point that Williams' model is not simplistically trinitarian; i.e., there is only one dominant culture, but at any given diachronic moment there can be multiple residual and emergent cultures, and

2.Tape technology proves this point. We have Reel-to-Reel of varying sizes, 8 track, cassettes (which in 1985-7 briefly were dominant due to the WalkMan [remember the eerie feeling when you went in a record shop and the vinyl was suddenly at the metaphorical "back of the bus"], and DAT. And I cleaned up the complete history of recording media by mentioning wax cylinders and the shellac 12" 78 rpm.

The results of this audition? Well that's a tale not yet told or sold for that matter. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, April 20, 2006

For no one.

Recently I received the following email from a good friend under the subject header "10 Best Beatles Songs Ever":
This list is off the top of my includes both group and solo.

1. I Am The Walrus
2. God--Lennon
3. Come Together
4. Here Comes The Sun
5. Working Class Hero--Lennon
6. Tug of War--McCartney
7. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
8. I'm Only Sleeping
9. A Day In The Life
10. Long, Long, Long

My response was first to note the lack of one of my faves as well as that of the late John Peel: "And Your Bird Can Sing" and also wonder about what happened to songs from Rubber Soul. Suitably inspired I started this impossible task (only 10 Beatles songs—c'mon!)

My list (as dreamed up 4/20/06 and valid for today only):
1. I am the Walrus
2. And Your Bird Can Sing
3. In My Life
4. Working Class Hero-Lennon
5. Live and Let Die-McCartney and Wings
6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
7. Please Please Me [eds. note in sleep deprived-state I picked the wrong early single, mea culpa]
8. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
9. Beware of Darkness-Harrison
10. Across the Universe

10b-d honorable mention to "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "She's Leaving Home," and "Something"

O.K. fire away and tell me how "wrong" my very personal list is, or better yet passionately defend the tracks I forgot.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I'm having a 4/15 IRS day party. Here's the virtual invite:

Celebrate The IRS Blues

When: Saturday, April 15th 7:00 pm on
Where: 119 Edgewood Drive
What: The Usual

Regrets Only

Here's our music for the evening:

Elmore James, The Sky Is Crying
Stanley Turrentine with The 3 Sounds, Blue Hour
IRS Blues Mix
Porest, Tourrorists
Dinosaur Jr., You're Living All Over Me

What's the mix you say?

The Beatles, "Taxman"
Pavement, "Haunt You Down"
Superchunk, "Cool"
Liz Phair, "Stratford-On-Guy"
LCD Soundsystem, "Tribulations"
The Maytals, "Pressure Drop"
Scritti Politti, "Skank Bloc Bologna"
Elf Power,"Skeleton"
Billy Bragg, "Levi Stubbs' Tears"
Billy Bragg, "Days Like These"
The Specials, "Litle Bitch"
The Mr. T Experience, "A Song About A Girl Who Went Shopping"
The Mr. T Experience, "Dumb Little Band"
Archers of Loaf, "Web in Front"
Archers of Loaf, "Fat"
The Replacements, "Bastards of Young"
Jon Langford, "The Country Is Young"
The Avengers, "The Amerikan in Me"
X-Tal, "Happy Americans"
Swell Maps, "Let's Build A Car"
The Ex, "Listen To The Painters"
The Detroit Cobras, "Shout Bama Lama"
The Who, "I'm Free" from BBC Sessions

"Huh?," you say. That's O.K. It makes sense to me and as the immortal Lesley Gore would warble: "It's My Party."

A variety of hot and cold hors d'oeurves, cheeses, dips, and mini sandwich fixings will be served along with wine, beer, EANABs and a basically open bar limited by my holdings. Lots of folks are out of town as Mississippi State has a long weekend for Easter with Good Friday off. Still I'm hoping for about 25 people.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Return the gift; or, Blowing it.

I sent the following review out by email to friends in a post entitled "Not boring exactly …"
Here's a quick recap of the Dj show in Memphis. The official guy said no photos so I'm not gonna blog it, esp. after he sat there and did nothing while people shot digitally all around him. Major league MFer and the last time I ask. If they don't have it posted or on tix: "no photos", then screw 'em.

Both of the opening acts were pretty dreadful in their own unique way.

"Hey we're from Montreal," the 1970s long hair hippie says in broadish Ontarian vowels straight out of Etobicoke. Yeah right dude, can you say scene jumper. In fairness the set was like 5 songs and 30 minutes long so one shouldn't complain too much. But a 5-minute drum solo a la Buddy Rich in the middle of the penultimate song.

C'mon. The kids around me were all referencing how fun it is to see an 80s hair metal band totally missing the heavy Bad Co./Free Simon Kirke backbeats on one song and the straight up Sabbath steals on another. It's like the 70s don't exist anymore; that might not be the worst thing ever really.

Dead Meadow
Now indie stalwarts on matador and a Malkmus fave supposedly, Had some interesting sonic textures but the mike was basically off on the lead singer, so the set was utterly pointless in a way.

Dinosaur Jr.
J is basically either all grey or white. Murph and Lou played tightly, but with passion and abandon and J of course shredded everything in sight, but in a melodic kind of way. So why didn't I like the show more then?

One problem was sequencing. Given their back catalogue, there's tons of ways to go. Somehow the set and two encores J put together just didn't grab me and keep my interest. I wasn't able to quickly grab a setlist this am off the web, so you'll just have to trust me on that call.

It doesn't bother me that J had to change keys on certain songs to be able to sing them. But once or twice he didn't and the results were simply awwwfulllll, as Johnny Rotten would snarl. Somehow in "Little Fury Things", he missed a high note, slowed things down and dropped everything down a half step midsong, so it ended up like some minor chord death metal dirge not the gloriously punning Monty Python thing (little "fury" or is it "furry" and the rabbits, tell me about the rabbits george--quick we need the Holy Hand grenade etc.) it ought to be.

My favorite moment came in the close of the first encore, when he did "The Lung." After the first chorus and during the first extended guitar wigout, he slipped in the melody of "Just Like Heaven." I was like "cool he's letting people know that's all their gettin' tonight of his most novelty record hit". Then they were "convinced" to do a second brief encore. And they trundle out the Cure song destroying that perfect earlier moment. They closed with a wall of noise and Lou shouting, which I took to be "Don't" but I could be wrong.

The whole thing with breaks clocked in at maybe 90 minutes. If you're a fan of the first three records, you would have been pretty happy because that was where 95% of the material came from.

As an experiment in social observation it was an interesting show, but as a show qua show it was only so so.

What is hip? (part 6); or, Back to york.

John Boswell, no relation to the great biographer, is a New Agey pianist from LA who once wrote a musical with Tim Robbins (well Susan Sarandon has already made her appearance in this blog, so you knew he was coming), while they were at UCLA (sorry but you got well and truly chomped!). He also did an album, The Painter, which includes the track "Back to York."

I was fortunate enough in Spring 1985 to win a Rotary Foundation Post-Graduate fellowship which would allow me to spend the following year on a M.A. course on the English Romantics at the University of York. I traveled around Great Britain a lot doing a slide show on differences between the US and the UK and more specifically similarities betwen the South and Yorkshire. One jokey example: clearly the US was bigger, better, and more powerful because we had AAA while Brits are stuck with AA for roadside assistance. That's right we're 1 better—to the accompaniment of slides showing car windows with Aaa2_05.gif red, white, and blue Triple A and mainlogo.gif yellow and black Automobile Association stickers. I also had a lengthy excursus on Panama City Beach and especially the famous Goofy Golf. The fact that we want to play putt putt through the legs of a giant paper mache T Rex says a lot about America's kinder sensibilites not to mention our general lack of historical education.

I was very lucky to be hosted by the Rotary Club of York (the oldest in the area and one which often features the Archbishop as an ex officio member). Back then they met weekly in the famous Royal York

Royal York Hotel RYH location map

railway hotel and provided with a real opportunity to get an insider's view of many aspect of life in the North. I fondly remember a special tour around the eaves of York Minster as they were being repaired by a Rotarian's company, of course, after a major lightning strike (that's a rare opportunity to get that close to the genius of medieval engineering), stumbling through the waterlogged "ditches" that comprised parts of the Brönte Way walk only then to soar/well scramble up really onto the most glorious heaths you have ever seen. We started in Lancashire (probably at Wycoller and I should mention that many of the ewes had just calved) and ended in Yorkshire nearby the famous Haworth parsonage, all a bit of walking and fundraising. In fact the greetings and hospitality I met at every Rotary Club I visited were superb from Sheffield to Bradford to Harrogate to Wakefield and beyond. York, of course, was also an ideal situation for my own personal travel as it's not only a rare node for going east-west on the train service but also part of the East coast Intercity 125 service. A non-stop would get you to central London in under 2 hours! I often astounded my English undergrad friends when I told them I Had gone down to London for the day and was back. Morning train, quick early lunch a matinee show or shopping and then home. American and British senses of distance are quite different, probably due ot the relative sizes of our countries.

Yes, I learned a lot about Keats, Shelley et al. But I learned a whole lot more: how to shift with your left hand and drive on the "wrong" side of the road, what specific gravity is, what Peculier means when not referring to a religious division, how hard it is to come up with daily swim team workouts that don't rapidly become repetitive and boring, why Wensleydale with Bath Olivers is the snack of the gods, why Tetley's Bitter now Cask (the real ale not the tea) should have a foamy head and a soapy taste, how to properly cue an album for radio presentation at URY (memories from that experience here, how to hold original rare prints by the likes of Cruikshank and Gilray in your hands at the British Museum's prints and drawings department, how to format for and print A4 paper on an American laserjet set up for 8.5" x 11", why the Commonwealth games really are cool, why Timothy Taylor Landlord cask is one of the greatest pulls ever, why the cricket fans at Headingley piss of the London and especially MCC establishment, how to navigate central London's traffic grid (what was I thinking? 20 years on you could offer me a million pounds and I would refuse to drive inside the M 25!) et cetera, et cetera.

But this is an entry about some significant mentors not a glorious year abroad. I had three tutors on my course: Professor Tim Webb, Jack Donovan (like me an American), and Hugh Haughton (the then junior partner). I wish my memory were better but I've lost track of names from 20 years ago. I briefly visited York again in March 1987 and took this photo of my MA classmates who happened to still be in town for one reason or another.

York MA Reunion March 1987

Tim Webb
Tim Webb was the senior fellow and leader of our merry band. He specialized in constructing devilish library problems usually involving an unexpected twist that required some kind of lateral thinking before one could begin to arrive at a proper answer, if one indeed existed. Thus the infamous Cervantes Shakespeare similar birthdates question.

Tim took an MA from Trinity College Dublin and D.Phil. from Oxford. His early academic work focused exclusively on Shelley with a sideturn into Romantic Hellenism. Before becoming a Professor at York in 1985 as I was arriving, he had also taught at Leeds and Michigan State. He moved with Professorship to Bristol in 1989 and spent the decade of the 90s as its Head. His further publications are too extensive to discuss here; let it suffice that the interested look here for further details.

The picture above captures something of the spirit of the Tim Webb I knew. The slightly (but only slightly) demonic glint in the eyes behind the doorknocker beard. He could crack the whip when it was needed; I remember an interesting office session after my first short paper offerings about standards. Let's just say it didn't happen again.

Jack Donovan
Like my position amongst the students on our course, Jack was the sole American Reader. He earned a BA from BU, an MA from KU, and a PhD from Birmingham. His early work on Samuel Butler's satiric masterpiece Hudibras came out as a series of articles in the 1970s. More recenty he has focussed on Shelley, serving as a contributing editor to Longman's edition of The Poems of Shelley and just now finishing up a Penguin Classics edition of Shelley's poetry and prose. Since I left York he appears to have gone part time and splits between the English Department and the now decade-old Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.

Speaking of distances again. A funny thing: I once had a seminar paper due which was done but that I had forgotten to drop off. I called Jack at home from a phonebox outside my B&B on Skye and said I'd have it to him that afternoon; he was a bit shocked when I told him where I was. We still managed to tool around Ben Nevis and across the lunar landscape that is central Scotland before doing a late lunch in Auld Reekie and then jamming down the A-68 to the A1 at Darlington en route to Heslington.

I did my very best to draw up a list of common differences between English and American spelling to avoid "errour" in my M.A. thesis, but more than a few Americanisms slipped through I can assure you. Rumor has it (well Tim Webb told me when I visited in the Spring of 1987) that Jack had done the yeoman's chore of whiting out and correcting these items in the final copy. Thanks!

Hugh Haughton
Junior partner in our triumvir of teachers. Hugh took his BA from Cambridge and an MA from Oxford assuming a lectureship at York before completing a D.Phil. 20 years ago this became a running gag with the other course leaders as Hugh notoriously "missed" deadlines, including some long forgotten (at least by me) essay. But a cursory glance at his academic biography tells an utterly different story now. The advantages of a system which allows ideas time to percolate are manifest. He has become a recognized expert and well published in no less than 3 (count 'em) distinct fields! There's nonsense lit where he did a definitive edition of Lewis Carroll's two Alice novels as well as one of Kipling's Wee Willie Winkie plus he edited The Chatto Book of Nonsense Verse. In Romanticism, he edited the first major collection of essays on the newly canonical John Clare, a poet I was first introduced to by John Brewer in the spring of 1983. And then there's the Moderns be they poets or Irish writers of any ilk belying his roots in Cork. His major study of Derek Mahon is forthcoming.

Personally I was always fascinated by Hugh's interest in any scratchy old vinyl he could find, be it blues, jazz, or classical. We managed to talk jazz which was the area of those three I was most knowledgeable about then; I've done a lot of gruntwork on the blues since then, but that's another story. I first heard Enrico Caruso in the seminar, when he played us a bit of a recording of Beethoven's Fidelio, a truly memorable auditory experience. He was in attendance when I tried to enliven our seminar by casting my discussion of some rare lost ms in the terms of one of Dr. Watson's narratives of a case for Holmes, but was kind enough only to critique the one or two anachronisms, linguistically speaking.

YORK M.A. thesis
Looking back at my thesis on The Parlance of Peterloo: Common Themes in Discordant Reactions to the Manchester Massacre, I'm still surprised by how little major work has been done on this central event in the general revolutionary history of Enlightenment England. I guess people too easily take such a famous event for granted without fully understanding it. I know since writing my thesis there's been at least one major book and some significant coverage in Chandler's England in 1819 not to mention Jeremy Black's conterfactual revisonism of said event, but still . . . . I mean Melvyn Bragg didn't get around to the Manchester Massacre until late last year. I suspect if I did the thesis now it would have a much heavier theoretical component. What exactly did I mean by "verbal," "visual," and "iconography." Are there any complex reasons that conservatives and radicals alike used the same iconography to describe the events, merely changing to whom each symbol referred? Why was the primarily biblical imagery of the Pale Rider so apt here? Surely there are other icons of death available for deployment (unless of course it really was all about Wellington's troops and his supposed "whiteness")? If I had actually re-read the thing after 20 years, I suspect there'd be far more question to think about. I'd also be forced to deal more with all of Ronald Paulson's oeuvre. I can only imagine what directions John Barrell would have pushed me in had he been at York in 1985-6. Still I learned a lot, got to deal with my beloved, crabby conservative Scott "once more," and actually held some Cruikshanks and Gilrays in my gloveless mitts down Bloomsbury way.

Serious Coda and a Moment of Quiet Reflection

I recently learned that my dear Rotarian host, Dennis A. Nicholls, formerly of Strensall and Terry's and Rowntree Mackintosh, passed after 88 wonderful years. Here's a picture from the last time I saw him in the back beer garden of Heslington's Charles XII pub:


I am extremely sorry my condolences are so belated. But deeply heartfelt thoughts for Elizabeth, Penelope and Robert, and for all the grandchildren and the one great-grandson. I'll always remember Christmas day 1985 with the Queen, crackers, and the lot.

Official notice of his service of celebration can be found here.

His wonderful spirit continues to surround me at home, as I have framed many of his famous Christmas cards which were fronted by intricate pen and ink drawings of typical York scenes. Here's a few examples: