Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My noise.

"We use volume as an instrument" launched into cyberspace at long last! It was retitled 90's Noise.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Back to the lake.

One of the handful of great late GBV tracks will be our informal theme song for Memorial Day weekend at Lake Mortimer, Winona, MS. I rode over with Bill and Susan; we arrived about 12:15 on Saturday.

Fords unloading

The rest of the gang arrived soon thereafter.


I had been told a camp house and certainly didn't expect a modern split-level A frame with four bedrooms, all mod cons including satellite TV, and various patios and porches.

A frame upstairs

Back porch

Fire pit patio

Really I expected the rustic Gothic South, kinda like this—the original Lake Mortimer homestead.

Original Mortimer Homestead

Mary Love's paternal grandfather was born and raised in this house which has been in disrepair for a while now, the front steps in summer disappearing in the grass, a site straight outta Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha.

Side View

Front Steps in Summer

The family has several hundred acres surrounding the man-made Lake Mortimer. The four adult children of the aformentioned grandfather all pitched in to build the new house with 4 bedrooms no less. They split time there monthly.

Entry plaque

Lake Mortimer

We did what one does at a lake house on Memorial Day weekend: relax, play, and eat!


Gals relaxin'

Mike and Steve relaxin'

More gals relaxin'

Playin', which entailed, fishing, swimming, "speed"boating, and muleriding around the local trail system.


Dock Loungin'

Approaching Mary Love

Bill en fuego

Our Wake

Mule Run on High


Eatin' Beyond interminable snacking, we had two meals. A late night dinner consisting of Little Dooey pulled pork BBQ sandwiches with hot or mild sauce, cole slaw, salad, bbq beans, and a special celebratory cupcake cake. Susan and Grace worked on getting the appetizers ready first.

Grace and Susan work on dinner

Cupcake PhD Celebration

For his design efforts on the aformentioned cake, Mike should be congratulated. The next morning after a nice lie-in, Grace made sausage patties and cinnamon rolls for everyone. The sizzlin' aroma tempted even the most sleepy-headed from their berths.

Sausage sizzlin'

No Grace, the cinnamon rolls were fine

By about 2:15 pm everyone had packed up and headed back to Starkvegas. A great time was had by all, even our four legged friends!

Curious Jinx

Friday, May 26, 2006

Don't look back.

Choose your poison: the 1978 follow-up to Boston (why it took two years to basically recreate the same record experience all over again I'll never know, but aren't Tim Scholz and his fellow MIT music geeks clever with their computerized guitars) or D.A. Pennebaker's 1967 Dylan in England documentary with the famous opening card sequence parodied in Bob Roberts or a 1965 Temptation's Motown single or even a song by The Boss. Being a contrarian, this blog seldom takes its own advice.

Cleaning out some old attaché cases in a closet, I came across a sheet of A4 paper I've been looking for now for at least five years. It was a list of addresses of friends from URY and my graduate housing wing of Wentworth College (the purple buildings at #29 on map's extreme left). In the masthead of the college's welcome page (and I see it's now all graduate), you can just see the corner of the dorm I lived in below the semi-circular building which wasn't there in 1985-6.

So now I can look back and update my earlier post re: URY folks with some more names in the order they appear:

Jeremy Ball
Andy Cook
Nigel Dallard
Duncan Grant
Jem Stone
Anni Johnson
(so he signed it)
Chrris Newell
Jo-Anne Nadler
(with a jolly nice invite to come and see the tennis at Wimbledon)
Stephen Palmer (headed off to Viking radio in Hull that summer)
Stephen Humphreys
Mark Brooker
John Cornley
Jonathan Walters
Simon Aldous
Clare Kellett
Paule Rolfe

and Mike Bond

Grad friends:
Mike Myers who in the 1960s in Chelsea had John Lennon ask him how long he'd be in a red pillar phone box (in 1985 he was what we Americans euphemistically call a "mature student")
Simon Loseby (now a lecturer in Medieval History at Sheffield) who first played a tape of John Peel's show with The Redskin's cover of "14 Tons" on it for me
and Barbara Couchman.

The folks I corresponded with for a good while were the gang who eventually lived at the semi-detached (duplex to us Yanks) at 24, The Grove (but was it Aldreth, St. Clements or Cameron?); just round the corner at The Winning Post on Bishopthore, The Wedding Present made their York debut in 1985. Of course, that group plus Jo-Anne also lived at 68 Frances Street just round the corner from one of my favorite neighborhood pubs, The Wellington Inn on Alma Terrace, to which one or more of them introduced me.For a while I wrote the the two Stephens and Simon. I still have some great mix tapes that Aldous and Humphreys sent me at Stanford plus one battered cassette of The Umbrella Farm's FROCKS & FLOCKS! Stephen's mixes were always thematically linked somehow like the famous State of the Nation 1986-7 offering which featured the "Bizarre love triangle" b-side for starters. Simon hipped me to Brighton's mighty 14 Iced Bears, yet another victim of collapsing record labels. How many careers did the financial shenanigans of Rough Trade US destory? My very last night in the UK in 1986 in London after finishing up MA thesis research at the British Library during its heyday in Bloomsbury and the center of the British Library (I came home to Florida and wrote the 80 pages in about two weeks prior to leaving for PhD studies in California) on the literature and iconography of the Peterloo Riot, Stephen Palmer met me at the then pristine free house, the Princess Louise on High Holborn, for a legendary evening of chat and his favorite tipple, Guinness. The next spring I came back for a visit, and the grove gang kindly put me up for the better part of a week. I trust they're all well and hale now! Someday we'll be in touch again.

I'll leave you with a bit of Gedge's wisdom:
Every time a car drives past I think it's you
Every time somebody laughs I think it's you
You changed your number and my phonebook's such a mess
But I can't bear to cross your name out yet
Each time the doorbell rings it might be you
Each letter the postman brings might be from you

The Wedding Present, "I'm Not Always So Stupid"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The greatest of all time.

So he's been retired for good this time long enough that we can do some revisionism re: MJ. And no, he's not the greatest NBA player of all time merely the second best with the "initals" MJ. The best . . . when Jordan is a stone cold passing freak machine who can strap it on and play center as a rookie in a deciding game of an NBA championship then he will be GOAT. Ain't happening and, as much it pains my Celtic heart to say this, Michael meet Magic. Oh yeah, Jordan is also only the second best clutch shooter of all time. Better was Bird! Trust me.

The most underrated NBA great of all time. Easy . . . The man with the one truly unstoppable shot, Kareem. Just look at the rings and the stats, kids. Much as I love Bird, if I need one shot to win it all: SkyHook, Babee! Apparently Bird agrees.

The measure of Alcindor/Jabbar's greatness; they banned dunks while he was in college to contain him. Final 3 year record 88-2, 3 straight Final Four MVPs, 3-0 in championship games. Guess what guys? All you did was create the SkyHook, the greatest offensive weapon basketball has ever seen or will ever see! Here's what ESPN classic says about his first game ever at UCLA as a non-eligible frosh:
Alcindor played for the best college team in the country in 1965-66, but unfortunately for him and his teammates, freshmen were ineligible to compete for the varsity then. In their first game, the first game ever at Pauley Pavilion, the UCLA freshmen whipped the varsity, two-time defending champions and preseason No. 1, 75-60. Alcindor scored 31 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked seven shots. The Brubabes went 21-0 and Alcindor averaged 33 points and 21 rebounds.


For an encore his first varsity game he breaks UCLA's scoring record with 56 and later that season he went for 61, as UCLA went 30-0 and won the first of seven consecutive for the Wizard of Westwood. Sorry Bill, putting 88 straight aside, 3 championships is better than 2 and 88-2 is better than 86-4 even if you were the greatest for one night against Memphis State:
On that magical night in St. Louis, Walton became a basketball icon. In the championship game of the NCAA tournament against Memphis State, the big redhead from San Diego, CA, canned 21 of 22 shots, scored 44 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and led UCLA to the NCAA title.

Somebody hurry up and give Kareem a coaching job; he's earned it!

This love for ex-Lakers is killing me. Guess I'll have to pull my "I hate LA" T-shirt out of mothballs!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Twenty four hours.

Curtis, Hook, Dicken/Albrecht/Sumner, and Morris on their brilliant sophomore effort, Closer, provide the classic soundtrack to one of the greatest TV series ever: 24, season 5, a quarter century early. My immediate response to the two hour finale: any serious discussion of the greatest TV series at their absolute peak must NOW include the current 24.

Other contenders:
M*A*S*H, The Prisoner, The Sopranos, Yes, Minister, Bob Newhart, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Wiseguy, and I Love Lucy, imho.
This year 24 avoided the pitfalls of dead end plots. Somehow everything tied directly into the main Jack Bauer-driven plot. And we knew the inscrutable "Chinese" from last season were not to be too quickly forgotten!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Feliz cumpleaños.

We celebrated Craig's 40th birthday last night at Chez Piper.

Grace made sure we knew what we were in for as we arrived.

There were quite a few "extra special" guests including Craig's sister, Ann, in from Spartanburg, Mary Love +1, and Dennis up from Jackson.

Here's a look at Grace's 1960s inspired spread: Swedish Meatballs and Cheese Fondue in a proper German pot and using real Kirschwasser!

Craig even got some specialty napkins!

Grace designed a Birthday Bingo game involving questions about Craig like R2 "Craig is obsessed with what chore?", I2 "Craig ate the last one of these in front of a guest once.", and G4 "Craig loves to eat this when Grace goes out of town."

Following the party's decades of Craig's life theme; prizes were from the 1960s. As the first Bingo achiever I got a tin of Spam®! Other prizes included Susan's French's green beans for that casserole and the Astronaut's "favorite," Tang!

Here some forlorn gifts await Craig's tender mercies.

Susan and Bill gave fisherman Craig a new tackle box full of gear.

Craig and the King salute each other!

After opening this gift, Craig began to explain the various subtleties of the changing song structure of "How Many More Times" on Led Zeppelin I:
You see Bonham here lays down this wicked drum solo at the 4:43 mark which totally changes everything . . .

We closed the party out with cake and a 40 candle wish.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I never promised you a rose garden.

This morning was the SAAC's Art in the Garden event. I had several reasons for attending, primary amongst them the opportunity to actually see the garden of my backdoor neighbors. We share a majestic oak and I see their help working in the mulch pit year round, but the garden has remained something of a mystery until today.

Frances and Harold Thompson
608 Lakeview Drive

Harold Thompson is a retired Professor of Piano at MSU and founder of our local Piano Showcase. His wife Frances Thompson née Benson is a talented artist. The garden started with "a dreadful eroded clay bank and a broken concrete patio." The former became the terraced beds you see here. That's Harold on the right below.


The garden has many features chief amongst them some nice laid stonework walls, a working vegetable garden, and a variety of plantings and beds.



This raised area seen below particularly reminded me parts of the gardens at Filoli in Woodside, California, an area I spent 10 years living near in the 1980s and 90s.



Famed local artist George Thurman did some plein air painting of the flowerbed just above.

george thurman1.jpg

george thurman2.jpg

There was an amazing plethora of different flora in bloom.


The next two stops were around the corner on Trotter Lane.

Barry and Karen Herring
109 Trotter Lane


Besides being an avid gardener, Barry also happens to be my dentist. Award winning local artist Dylan Karges was painting in the backyard accompanied by the dulcet singing of The Arnold-Peters Happy Singers. I didn't think to ask them what shape note tradition they belonged to, although an easy bet would be sacred harp.



I have several pieces by Dylan in different media in my personal collection, including the requisite clay figure and a striking black and white woodblock print.



But back to the Herring's nice garden.


What the mailbox promised, the bush beside the check-in table more than confirmed. Barry's blooms had the most "pop" on today's tour.


Barry proclaims this simple bed surrounding a fountain as seen below one of his favorite parts of the garden.


Hopefully she framed her imaginary picture better than I did my real one!


Since I didn't make a 360° tour of the house, I might be downplaying some elements of this garden which I missed. The garden really uses railroad ties effectively to highlight its various beds.

Jane and Ira Loveless
108 Trotter Lane


Jane is a Master Gardener and her garden features the most architectural elements of any we saw today, including an enormous and atypical square gazebo and a garden house whimisically made to appear "like an old homeplace."



As a child of the 1960s South and those famous old "blue highways," I especially appreciated the "See Rock City" birdhouse, which Jane tells me is currently home to some brooding and nesting bluebirds. The front porch of the garden house drives this theme home further.


Here's a sampler of the plantings and beds surrounding the back patio and 15,000 gallon goldfish, koi, and mechanical duck pond.


The two out structures are neatly tied together by a garden that leads one naturally down the sidehill into a natural unimproved area, that Jane calls a "shade garden," a feature too often overlooked by gardeners too desirous of shaping every single inch of space a la "Capability" Brown.


Marie and Frank Benci
400 Myrtle Street


The Benzi's garden was the oldest continually kept by original owners on the tour as well as being the quaintest and coziest house and easily the shadiest garden overall. One of its specialties are interesting front yard rock garden plantings with a slight Southwestern feel.




Another nice feature are the redbuds and hackberry trees which provide much of the shade.



The garden also entails a small amount of fairly intricate ornate stone and rock work paths.


So far I've shown you the public garden which you can see from Myrtle or North Montgomery. But there's also an interior private garden surrounding a pool and patio. Here's just a taste.


Marilyn and Larry Tabor
503 Lincoln Green


The Tabor's garden in its current state is the youngest on the tour. One feature by their pool patio I have yet to comment upon. I will note that a similar structure could be found at all five houses on the tour whether it was fully attached to the house, semi-detached, or a stand alone as below. Here Larry Tabor (r) and Chip Tempelton relax between musical sets and visitors. Apparently the pergola has made a comeback in landscape and garden circles since its nadir in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Around here they seem to like calling such structures "arbors." It's a fine distinction between shaded sitting and shaded walking. Furthermore, the relative size when an arbor becomes a pergola is unclear, so we'll call it a toss-up.


The backyard gently slopes down and away from the pool, patio, and house. One of the garden's specialties is azaleas, and I will surely return next spring to see them in their full glory.




As this was the last of the five houses I visited since it's on the other side of town from the other four and from my house as well, it's no surprise that Jeanette Jarmon is the furthest along of any of our plein art participants.


Well that was quite a morning. As Felder, Dirt, and Peter Gabriel would surely say:
Keep Digging In The Dirt!