Fast Eddie

September 27, 2008

In my line of work I’ve had the pleasure (and in a few cases, the misfortune) to meet some famous people, actor’s mostly, but some musicians and director’s as well. I’ve been invited to the homes of some, been on a first name basis with many and played cards and had drinks with more than a few. The upshot is that I don’t get starstruck easily. These people and I work in the same business and we are colleagues, just like any other line of work.

That being said, when I met Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward a few years ago right here in my little corner of Massachusetts, all of that went out the window. Here was Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Brick, Butch, Fast Eddie, for God’s sake, standing right in front of me and I was struck dumb.

It didn’t last long. Mr. Newman and Ms. Woodward were kind, generous and put everyone at ease. Joanne was like a kindly grandmother and Paul the slightly gruff Grandfather that you know is bursting with joy just under the surface.

There was a moment where it was just the two of us backstage, me and Paul Newman. He and Joanne had arrived at the theatre with a pizza they had picked up at Village. (I can’t help but wonder if anyone there knew who it was buying that small veggie to go). After eating only 2 pieces they offered the rest up to the staff. We had all just returned from lunch, so there were no takers at that moment. (As Joanne said, quite truthfully, “Who ever heard of stagehands turning down free food?”)

A while later, standing there, just the two of us, Paul looked in the pizza box and saw that, in fact, the pizza had been eaten in the intervening 2 hours since the first offer. He grunted in satisfacion, saying, “Good. Someone ate it.” I answered back, “Well, you know stagehands. Leave anything sitting around long enough and they’ll eat it or smoke it.” He walked by me on his way to the stage as I was speaking, stopped next to me, lowered the sunglasses he had been wearing all day and said with a twinkle in those famous blue eyes that could knock you off your feet, “Or fuck it.”

Up went the glasses and with a smirk and a chuckle he went onstage.

Thank you, Mr. Newman, for all the movies, the charitable work, the car racing, the popcorn, the salad dressing and mostly for sharing a moment with me in the world in which, for one afternoon, we both lived and worked.

Big Politics in a Small State

September 17, 2008

While I am trying desperately not to post about Sarah Palin because she doesn’t deserve the attention she is getting and the distraction she is causing is ridiculous, I thought this post from Alaska State Rep. Les Gara worth pointing out.

Its a brilliant description of what can happen when a national campaign, hell-bent on winning at all costs, invades the politics of a small (in terms of populace, I know it’s geographically huge) state and forces its agenda on the people’s representatives.

The investigation into Gov. Palin’s alleged abuse of power was moving along smoothly with everyone’s, including Palin’s, cooperation. It seemed to be a nice example of how the system can work when policing itself.

Enter McCain.

The timing of the investigation isn’t good for the campaign, since if everyone complies the results could be out by mid-October. Before the election. That just won’t do. So what to do about it? Send up a lot of Washington legal power and stonewall the investigation. Get the Governor to go back on her word to cooperate, instruct anyone subpoenaed to refuse to testify and sue to get the investigation stopped.

And what reasons are given for these moves, you might ask? Why, because the investigation is a Democratic plot to take down Palin emanating from within the Obama campaign.

Yes, an investigation started months before Palin was picked to be the VP candidate, OKed unanimously by a Republican controlled bi-partisan panel and supported by Palin herself is suddenly tainted by the Obama people.

I’ll let Rep. Gara explain all of the ins and out of this. The post  I linked to is part 2 of his observations on this. Read part one while you are there as well.

What I Did On My (end of) Summer Vacation

September 9, 2008

I have just returned from a week long vacation to cleanse my palette of the summer workathon.

What did I do? Vacation in Maine? Relax on the Cape? Hike the many trails here in the Berkshires?


With the help of my very talented carpenter father, I built a shed for storage with a playhouse for the child on top. Behold!

Here is a view of the shed door side:

Here is the child, surveying her domain from on high:


And here she is relaxing with a little light reading:

So there it is. It was fun and exhausting and I feel like I’ve done something with my time.

For my next vacation, however, I’m going somewhere and doing nothing. I swear.

More Perfection

August 26, 2008

Some of you (if anybody is still paying attention after my months-long hiatus) may remember a post I wrote eleventy-billion months ago on the ongoing list I keep with my friend Matthew of albums we consider perfect. That is, albums that have no filler, where every song is an essential piece of the whole that can’t be skipped.

Many of you contributed thoughts and comments on the subject so I thought I’d reopen the lines.

Here is an addition to my list:

 Dwight Yoakam’s Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room

As the heir apparent to Buck Owen’s Bakersfield Bounce (and a creepy turn as the abusive father in Slingblade), Yoakam has rightfully garnered praise from the entertainment world for his body of work. But Buenas Noches…is a standout masterpiece of classic country depression. Every song on this album is a delicious downer of lost love, squandered opportunites, revenge and murder.

Even the upbeat songs like “I Got You” are awash in sorrow. Yeah, the guy in the song is happy he has his girl, but he’s in debt up his ears, he has no job and the bank is taking away everything else. The listener gets the distinct feeling that the “I Got You to ease my pain” chorus is more a plea for the object of his affections not to desert him than a true “I don’t care about anything else as long as you’re with me” sentiment.

The hight point of the album, “Streets of Bakersfield”, is a first person narrative of the life of a couple of drifters that spend time in jail and steal to survive sung by Yoakam and the legendary Buck Owens himself.  It’s a remarkable centerpiece to a brilliantly executed album of real country music, the kind that would make Lefty Frizzell proud.

As the album progresses, it does lighten up a bit and with “Send Me the Pillow” there even seems to be a glimmer of hope, but the underlying current of the song is a bit too close to stalking to be entirely comfortable. Yoakam closes with “Hold on to God”, a nice piece of gospel complete with reassurances of salvation in Jesus’s love. But with everything that came before, the fast pace of the track seems more a frantic warning to hang on with all of your might than a joyous invitation to everlasting peace. On this album, Satan is lurking around every corner.

Bring it on, ya’ll. What other objects of perfection are lurking in your music collections?

Like I Was Saying…..

August 23, 2008

Let’s just put it this way:

If you have a job that requires you to perform a LEGAL prodedure that you have a religious aversion to performing, then try this: GET ANOTHER JOB!!!!!

Or how about this:

If you are a pharmacist and you have a religious aversion to distributing contraceptives I’d have to say you wasted a lot of time and money going to pharmacy school, because you need to GET ANOTHER JOB!!!!!

How is this OK?

Anyway. Olympics, anyone? How’s your summer been? What’s everybody listening to these days?

Just trying to get back in the groove. Stop by and say hello.

I’ve Made Up My Heathen Mind

December 12, 2007

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to go to schools, round up kids and pay for them to go and see The Golden Compass. Then I’m going to buy them the book that the movie is based on and all of the subsequent books in the series to make sure they get the “atheist” point and when they have read those books, I’m going to organize them into a protesting mob and we’ll picket outside of theatres that are showing the second Chronicles of Narnia film when it comes out this summer because it will clearly have dangerous pro-Christian themes (I think, because I won’t bother to see it first so I can have an informed opinion) because I don’t want children exposed to those myths that will turn them into God-fearing mush-brains.


I’ll go see it if I want, take my child if I want, act in a way that is consistent with my moral beliefs in regard to my family and LEAVE EVERYONE ELSE THE F#&K ALONE!!!!


I’m Back and Here’s What’s In My Ears!

November 17, 2007

Wow. Its been over a month? Really? I have no excuse, so I offer none.

On to more important things: Television.


No, not that. These guys:


For those that may not know, Television was a NYC 70’s punk band and were the first in that movement to play at CBGB’s.  More akin to Talking Heads than The Ramones, Television was still a powerful band live as the CD The Blow Out demonstrates. Tom Verlaine and Richard’s Lloyd’s twin guitars are fierce yet artistic and the rhythm section of Fred Smith on bass and Billy Ficca on drums lay down a solid foundation for the vocal antics of Verlaine.

Not very well known at the time (or now, for that matter) Television have been an influence for countless artists from Matthew Sweet to R.E.M. to U2 and although the band only released two albums in their 70’s heyday, Marquee Moon and Adventure, both are essential listening and very clearly a foundation for the next 30 years of indie rock.

(An eponymous reunion album released in 1992 is also worth a listen, as well as the three official live releases, the aforementioned The Blow Out, Live at the Old Waldorf, 1978 and Live at The Academy NYC, 1992.)

 killme.jpgWhat else is being overplayed on my iPod? Well, it’s all been effected by my recent re-reading of the book, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, an excellent book about the NYC Punk scene in the 70’s that has the good sense to start with Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground, Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 to give the proper historical background. (Check it out. It’s a good, quick read.)

So my personal playlist reads like a cast of characters from the book, with a bit of the next generation thrown in:

Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, The Damned, Matthew Sweet, Joy Division, The Buzzcocks, The Dead Boys, Patti Smith, The Clash and, completely off the mark, The Shins.

And you? What’s going into your ears these days? 

The Jesus Shield

October 12, 2007

This is absolutely brilliant!!!

I don’t know what I could possibly say, except I’m very glad I don’t live in this town.

Watch and laugh. And then cry.

More and More Everyday

October 11, 2007

Here’s an article from TIME about selective prosecution in a corruption case in Alabama. The Justice Dept. chose to prosecute or not based on party affiliation. Guess which party got off the hook?

TPMmuckraker brings it back to the White House for us. Anybody surprised?

Justice? Not Even Close!

October 10, 2007

The most unpopular president in years wins again.

This is just one more example of the devastation that the Supreme Court is going to wreak on the Constitution and basic human rights for many years to come thanks to Bush, a rubber-stamp Republican Congress and spineless Congressional Democrats.

Imagine if this had been done to one of our own and the offending government threw out the claims. I think our current adminsitration might just start a war over something like that.

But we do it to others and the Supreme Court says that’s just fine.

Is this what American justice is today?