Thursday, October 28, 2010


It is the end of an era.  Today is my last day at Wilson Library at Western Washington University. I will miss library work and the students, especially.  Working on University campuses and in academic libraries over the last 15 years has been a privilege that I have appreciated deeply.  

My tenure at Wilson Library has not been without excitement and growth.  I was laid off due to "budgetary cuts" and after giving my choice to stay in another position a serious amount of consideration, I opted to leave. 

Certainly I have learned things about myself in that library - things that one could never find in a book.  Who knew that I was so difficult and that  a "good job" comes with no guarantees of happiness or even stability?  These are blind spots and unconscious expectations that needed to be revealed and addressed when deciding what I need in a work environment.  There was difficulty.  I am difficult.  Everyone is.  How we manage our complexities in our relationships with others determines who we are.  In this case, I carry my complicated ways and my new awareness out the door and on to new horizons with a renewed sense of what is valuable and productive within me and my relationships with others.

The day that I was told that my position at the Music Library had been cut, I came home curled up on my couch and watched "Castaway".  Films, stories, poetry, music help when words fail and it was a capitol day for language dysfunction.  Art can take the worst day and make it the first day.  So it was as I watched Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland struggle to hold on to the plane and his precious time piece as his aircraft plummeted into the Pacific Ocean.  I took comfort in the story of his process of surviving an impossible situation by using only what knowledge he had and what happened his way.

I cried with renewed appreciation as he mourned the loss of his best friend and constant companion, Wilson.  Grief and loss.  It seems that I've seen plenty of this in the last five years.  I laughed again appreciating the subtlety of the symbolism of the whale that kept an eye on him on his floating journey home, reminding me that whatever element you are thrown into someone or something calls it home and wants to love you.

I started this blog NightMonkeyShines back in 2007 as a Library 2.0 exercise.  That was back in the phat days when we had time to actually learn things and try to develop a sense of integrity and involvement to our work in serving others. That was before Golem and the great baggage of budget woes darkened the door blowing out the side of my cargo plane.  

I've maintained two blogs. I suppose many people keep two blogs but I see no reason to continue. This one was primarily for work and for my association with a group of Elder Bloggers I enjoy at Time Goes By.  It was my thought that keeping two blogs would allow the option of sharing the tamer writing and putting more radical thoughts in the other blog.  Initially, as well, I thought I would be blogging more about things work related.  That is not what happened. I've used this blog for more local notices of events and such. I never hid the other blog but I realized that most people would not bother with digging any deeper.   I often double posted.

 I also have come to realize by now that I underestimated the mettle of my elder blogger friends.  There is little of strong language or scurrilous thinking that they have not already dealt with in spades!  The rest of cyberspace will just have to endure or skip my local fixations when they are posted.

I'm feeling hopeful, if a bit tremulous.  So in the in the spirit of change - doors closing and discovering others and opening them - I leave Wilson Library and this blog NightMonkeyShines with a link to my other blog and a nod of thanks to everyone who made my last six plus years an often enjoyable and an always enlightening enterprise. 

"...And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"
                                                        ~ Chuck Noland,

Hopefully, I will see you at my other digs and I will find something of interest to write about:


Monday, October 25, 2010

Look Who is Voting While you Choose Not to



This is not a good time to pass on politics, should that be an inclination for you this week. What happens in the coming weeks will cast either a light or a giant shadow across all the choices to made in the future. Stay informed; stay the course for change and a better world for yourselves and those you hold near and dear to your heart.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Gonna Go Get My Weary Bones Saved

Antje Duvekot, singer/songwriter, chanteuse extraordinaire announces that she has been writing songs again. No better news can be heard across the land. If you are not familiar with Antje's music please let me introduce you. You will never regret the introduction, I promise you.

Go to her website. Listen to her music. Get on her mailing list to make sure you do not miss her when she performs near you.

I find her so talented that I made my first grandchild be born on her birthday...Ok, well...I had nothing to do with that but I am thrilled none the less. It was: "Oh GOD!! I'm a Grandmother and my little angel shares a birthday with Antje Duvekot! Holy Cow!!" True story.

I trust you will be charmed and her music just might become part of your personal soundtrack as it is mine.

Your welcome.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I am on the cusp of being unemployed with my position being eliminated due to budget cuts.  Consequently, I'm up at 4 AM  this  morning .  I'm 57 - not old enough to retire - not young enough to hire.  I'm not marketable. That is the fact of it.  What I bring to the work place of skill, enhancements and vision are not recognized as valuable by current standards.  In the bleary predawn I was trying to amuse myself  after a restless night by scrolling through songs.  I spent some time watching Johnny Cash videos, seeing as how that is the only cash I can spend right now.  I then moved into songs about the heart of the matter:  work and the economy...

For a long time I have been thinking in terms of the last twenty years when I think of America's dependence on oil and an inflated economy but as I looked at this video I realized that our dependence is really embedded deeper within the American psyche and it goes back farther than that.  It actually seems to reside on the level of myth for those of us born into the automobile culture. 

Given that the oil industry provided the groundwork for the American economy for so very, very long, it stands to reason it will take some time and creativity to realign the structure of the economy on a new foundation.  With all the pressure for social reform, tea parties, posturing, posing and denial it seems I am part of a collective group of people who have driven the combustible engine to the end of the line and we just can't stand it.  Right and left both seem apoplectic over how they have been "wronged" by each other. I contend that the arguments are somewhat distracting from what has really happened to us all.  The gas guage is empty and we have run out of road. 

Just as sure as I have skittered along as a wage slave all of my life on the high tide of other people's wealth, taken my directives as a worker bee and carved out my niche of happiness, so have I reached the end of my working day as I have known it.  Nobody took me where I didn't want to go and the same goes for my post-war baby clan because on some level, we flow together and we are identified as a group.  We are the aging; we contributed ; we deserve respect for that because our work added to the greater good. We will never be young again and...I must say it, though it raises the shackles of my friends who design their very lives around raging against the tide of age, "I'm sorry, but young is NOT better than old; it is other than old".

When it comes to speed and efficiency in the workplace, we are not young and uncomplicated.  We bring the depth of experience into the bigger picture.  In most work environs, the older worker spells problems and without an understanding of the need for depth and value in the work environment, we become parodies of ourselves and a farce in the workplace.   We are living history and history has a vital and rewarding place in all aspects of society.  Not recognizing this fact is not only ageist (and a financial bonanza in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic field), but it is detrimental to the greater good of any organization or nation.  Elders are in jobs or needing work to make ends meet.  Some of the ends are not going to meet because, frankly, some people just don't "get" it. Sadly, some of the worst offenders are the old themselves who are so afraid of their own reflection that they can't stop staring at their wrinkles long enough to recognize the strength staring back at them.

Clearly these are hard times for everyone but if we do not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and defeated over the loss of what was by busying ourselves with criticizing and commiserating over bits and pieces of our lost youth and arguing over our entitlements, we may just find the things that are possible and have enough strength left over to help develop positive changes.  I see this economic stop as a chance to build something not born of war or built on greed, self interest and suffering.  Anyway, this is my strategy for the time between now and my next mortgage payment.  ( I hear a Greek chorus in the chambers of my mind chanting, "Good luck with that.")

This flashback of Lucas' film "American Graffiti" as it is edited into this song inspired these thoughts in me. The combustible engine gave us a tremendous lift, didn't it?  Look where it took us all!  Some made piles of dough that they spent right away on novelties or adventures.  Some made a haul that they saved and lost in the stock market by trusting people who were greedy and disguised themselves as the status quo.  Some made the money and invested it in a better future for others.  Some made so much they did all three and then some! I think it is time to park it and take honest stock in what we think is our entitlement here.  It seems to me, if we did not enjoy the ride we were given when we were given it, we should check our complaining at the door. Whether we get paid for it or not, there is elder work to be done.

Thanks to AK47bandit for the "Get a Job" video

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ball of Confusion (that's what the world is today)

I'm in the third quarter of my word of the year Clarity with the autumnal equinox today. In moving along with this, I've learned a bit about the world and myself and this word, I must say. I'm not the sharpest tool in the box but I think I have a moment or two of inspiration that allows me an egress into an occasional area of something close to validity and value. I am posting this video to maybe give some idea of the kinds of situations I have been trying to clarify for myself. This has been one hell of a week for me, defining clarity has been a harsh mistress this year and it all rests on the close of one hell of a decade. I found this video with the help of those noted below and it just says it all. The lyrics are included below. The fact that the song was a hit single 30 years ago makes me wonder how we could all be so incomprehensibly dense. So it goes. Anyway...

Here's to living in interesting times.
Everybody DANCE!

People movin' out
People movin' in
Why, because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run, but you sho' can't hide
An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth
Vote for me, and I'll set you free
Rap on brother, rap on
Well, the only person talkin'
'Bout love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems,
Nobody is interested in learnin'
But the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration,
Integration, aggravation,
Humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball of Confusion
That's what the world is today

The sale of pills are at an all time high
Young folks walk around with
Their heads in the sky
Cities aflame in the summer time
And, the beat goes on

Air pollution, revolution, gun control,
Sound of soul
Shootin' rockets to the moon
Kids growin' up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will
Solve everything
And the band played on
So round 'n' round 'n' round we go
Where the world's headed, nobody knows
Just a Ball of Confusion
Oh yea, that's what the world is today

Fear in the air, tension everywhere
Unemployment rising fast,
The Beatles' new record's a gas
And the only safe place to live is
On an indian reservation
And the band played on
Eve of destruction, tax deduction
City inspectors, bill collectors
Mod clothes in demand,
Population out of hand
Suicide, too many bills, hippies movin'
To the hills
People all over the world, are shoutin'
End the war
And the band played on

Clarity, vision and transparency are words that I have heard tossed around relentlessly over the past year. From a distance is it so much easier to spot the very large problems. Up close we are so myopic it is nearly impossible to even figure out who to ally oneself with when the suffering becomes commonplace. Sometimes there is no way for one person to stop a poorly constructed concept from gaining momentum, however, one less feast for the beast might gain the one day necessary for the recovery of the what is progressive and positive. As long as there is time; there is hope. I've isolated the bad guy in myself and I will have my hands full with that. In the end, sometimes walkin' the talk means walkin' away when the bottom line is moved too far to accommodate in good conscience.

Thanks to Citizen K and Just a Song blogs for helping me find this video by terris1958

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

This isn't a post about events at work as might be suggested by the title.  This is a post about how I was invited to explore the music of a band who is going to be playing at he the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham WA at 9:45 pm on Thursday, September 16th . There is promotional work to be done; there are posters to hang; there is word to get out.  So it was that I found myself up to my earlobes this weekend in the music of Elephant Revival.

I first heard the Elephant Revival on Sue DuMond's Gleanings Lopez Island radio show that is streamed through KLOI on Tuesday evenings and I asked her about them.  She waxed poetic about the band and then someone yelled "Squirrel!" and I was off on to the next thing...until this weekend.

Elephant Revival hail from Colorado.  I've never been to Colorado.  I think DeVotchKa likes it there so it must be fabulous and everything DeVotchKa does makes me a little light headed.  What is beautiful about Elephant Revival is not the Colorado Rockies, though I DO hear a hint of that country Rocky Mountain High whispering through the pines on a few tunes.  It would be understating what I've been hearing in their music to isolate their sound by a location as there is some sweet layering of musicianship and genres at work.   Here is a taste of what I have been spending the weekend enjoying:

The press says that Elephant Revival transcends folk.  I have not heard enough of a panoply their work at this juncture to say but I do hear Celtic, country, folk, bluegrass and a touch of tribal melding into their sound.  I look forward to being able to define this clearer after seeing them play live. Of course, they have violin and I've a weakness for this instrument.  My name is Cile (no last names please) and I love me some fiddle, God help me. The fiddle player, Bridget Law, in this band is wunderbar and when added to the rest of the pachyderm, well...there is something lovely at work whether you call it transcendent or not!

An elephant is like a rope; an elephant is like a wall; an elephant is like a fan; an elephant is like a pillar...on and on it goes.  This Elephant Revival will be like whatever will touch us in time and space and they invite us to listen.  We may even transcend to being able to recognize the elephant in the room.

See you at the show.

video credit: mystic111mike
photo credit: Anne Stavely

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hamell on Trial into the Great White North

It was the perfect night to celebrate Nancy and Jim La Hatt's 40 year anniversary with Hamell on Trial at the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern in Bellingham, WA.  I hope my elder readers enjoy this video as an example of what was enjoyed last night.  It seemed appropriate for the occasion...

I have to envy this person hosting such a talent in their living room.  House concerts are indeed the saving grace of many musicians who choose not to perform as trained circus acts supported by sponsors.

Ed Hamell is headed to Anchorage so I want to post this for my Alaska chums (the pals and music enthusiasts - not the fish) in case they are knocking around Anchorage or Palmer in search of the real deal this weekend [Saturday, September 11th and Sunday the 12th].  Check out his website, keep an eye on his touring schedule and enjoy him if you get the opportunity.  I certainly had a great time. He's not for everyone but he may be more for Alaska than one might suspect!

Thanks Jim and Nancy for sticking it out and making marriage look so easy at your 40 year mark and thanks, Ed Hamell, for stopping in Bellingham.  I hope your trial goes well in Anchortown and Palmer you don't get the hangin' judge.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Happened to Cile's Indy Day News?

...thanks for asking.

I am not vested in my Christian upbringing.  I think of myself more pagan.  The 4th of July is close enough to the Summer Solstice that I feel it is a good time to reflect.  The truth is there is less math with trying to remember four cycles of the earth around the sun, no rules regarding celebrations and less commercial interruption from what I consider to be the point.  I can make it up. That is the appeal.

For a few years now one of the things I made up was sending out an annual Newsletter, Cile's Independence Day News to friends and family.  Traditionally I would spend the 4th of July constructing the thing.  It provided for me a way to sit back and assess my past year giving me a sense of continuity.  I sent it out to people because I wanted to share.  It was my thinking that I receive updates from friends whom I have been long separated by circumstance (usually at Christmas time) and that I enjoy hearing from them.  When I received these updates, there was a sense of relief that I was still somewhere in the orbit of their lives. So it was that I began sending out the newsletter to friends and family.  My first attempts at this were dreadful but I improved it. Sometimes I included a CD of music that found tight rotation for me on my MP3 player that year.

I stopped doing the newsletter this year.  I stated in it last year that it was becoming cost prohibitive but that isn't the only reason.  I truly enjoyed the putting together the publishing of it and the copying the CD and updating the addresses and writing the individual letters to everyone over the course of July.  It felt like I was really active in the lives of those I often think about but rarely have time to follow through with tracking down.  I trust they think about me in a favorable light. For that kind of fun, I could have found the dough. What happened is that the footprint became to big.

The BP oil spill this year really shocked me into realizing how disastrous ignoring the overuse of resources has become.  There's the 60 sheets of high gloss 11" x 17" paper and the 2 sided printing with colored inks, the 60 CD's and their envelopes with printed information on them.  Then there are the mailing envelopes, the stamps and the miles of travel and useage of fossil fuel to get the things where I send them.  It is too much.

I've long since stopped buying out of season produce that flies all the way from places like New Zealand to my vegetable bin and opted to stave off until it is in season for my part of the world.  Likewise I began to see my newsletter as a bit of overkill that required a reassessment.  There are a lot more resources available to me electronically than ever before.  Some of them I have been utilizing all along but I never insisted that my relatives and friends step up and visit me this way.  It never really occurred to me to ask until I sat down at my computer on July 4th of this year.

Facebook was probably the tipping point for me.  I began to use this social networking site in spades as my granddaughter was born and it has kept me close to my son and daughter-in-law and the progression of this family event in a way that is nothing short of miraculous.  I went to visit this month and it was as if I just stepped out of the Facebook page.  It seems to me this was because we have been communicating and sharing all along.  I haven't even explored the telecommunication possibilities of applications like Skype and individual, specialized chat rooms!  My point is there are alternatives.

The great sun giveth;  the great sun taketh away.  In this case I feel I've been given an opportunity to explore an alternative way of sharing which is fortunate.  More often than not, valuable things just disappear without such an obvious replacement.  My challenge is reconstructing my habit of the way I "used" to do it with a new way.  The obvious alternative would be to post the newsletter as an electronic attachment.  I opted out of doing it that way this year.  It has taken me longer than I expected to get my bearings with the changes.  It will take me some time to construct how I want to do it and I need a better understanding of why I do it at all.  An annual assessment of what happens in a year in my life will always be necessary, however, I feel the strain of a crowded time-line stretching behind me already from not doing it this year.

So this is my explanation.  A certain amount of people never even read the newsletter.  I know they don't because they ask me questions that I already covered in detail in the newsletter! [I'm laughing] I liked to pretend everyone reads the the thing and listens to the music. Those times of dilution have passed, however, and if I can let go of a cumbersome yet satisfying enterprise for the sake of the greater good and make a change, those who are inclined, can catch up with things electronically as I try and bring a more consistent sharing on the interwebs.

Well, I feel certain that the sun knows I'm sincere when I say I can only love you all as much as I love my life and my life is loving you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Millie

I found out about Millie through Ronni Bennett, of the blog Time Goes By. I've met a lot of cyber friends there. Older voices. Elder brainstorming, free associative thought, in-depth analysis of elder issues and storytelling that looks and feels more natural to me than the posturings that prevail in a multi-faceted younger perspective. We age; things look different. Things ARE different; things are fleshed out and clearer with age. Experience adds power and love in the world in a different way. As I age, I'm becoming more economic in my thinking and I find that I really prefer to "cut the crap and get to the point". I feel a companion in the awareness of how little time there is to get to the essence of things...

Blogging is a perfect elder past time and a possibly the most valuable tool for those of us willing to learn a few new technical tricks. Millie is one of the pioneer elderbloggers in the cyber sphere. She has been blogging since 2005. She was 80 years old when she started My Mom's Blog By Thoroughly Modern Millie and Millie turns 85 years old today. That's right she started talking on the intertubes at 8o years old! I think this speaks rather loudly for her intrepid spirit. I can only hope that I have a small amount the fortitude and pioneer spirit that this woman has exhibited should I make it to 80! You are an inspiration, Millie!

Dear Millie:

I understand that you like Sunflowers. I want to share with you a clip from one of my favorite movies, Everything is Illuminated. I'm not sure of the lyrics but I'm trusting what I found below on the internet about them.

to quote the commenter, kerbed "...the lyrics are lines from an Alexander Pushkin poem called To A.P. Kern. in English:

In the torture of hopeless melancholy,
In the bustle of the world's noisy hours,
That voice rang out so tenderly,
I dreamed of that lovely face of yours.
That voice rang out so tenderly,
I dreamed of that lovely face of yours.
Then to my soul an awakening came,
And there again your face appeared,
Like a vision, fleeting, momentary,
Like a spirit of the purest beauty.
Like a spirit of the purest beauty. "

Happy Birthday, Millie!
Many happy returns of all the love you give!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Subdued Stringband Jamboree ~ Year 10

The blackberries are ripening and it is soon to be Subdued Stringband Jamboree time again.  Fri-Sat, August 13th and 14th.  I wait all year for this local festival.  I love it.  It is year 10 this year and the line up is stellar, as par.  I've only been to the last 6 jams but it is such a thing with me now that if I could not go, well, I'd have to kill myself. There are about 15 other sacrifices before that one to make, so I think my life is relatively safe but you get my drift.  Still, if you live around here you are crazy not to go.  That's just all there is to it.  It's 7 miles east of town, its inexpensive, its fun and its family oriented...did I mention it was FUN?   These are some of the nicest musicians and music lovers to walk the planet and they converge here annually like it's a calling.  The music they play goes all day.  It also goes all night as people visit and jam at campfires situated across the log show grounds.  You can come for a day to play or stay and revel in the merriment by camping.  I camp and though I try and stay up all night, I end up falling asleep to live music and the soft sounds of people laughing and enjoying themselves.  Then I begin snoring and everyone moves 50 feet from my tent so they can hear themselves sing.

jamboree 2009
If you don't live around here then, well...I know you all live in swell places but this weekend, I feel sorry for you... this weekend you are missing the most joyful noise in the greatest place on earth.  You can ameliorate your loss by looking at this slide-show of last year's fun.  If you are still irreparably unrequited and if you would like to look at prior years from THAT there are pictures of those years on the Flickr site too.  (I thinking here that I have turned into one of those people I used to make fun of who would drag their friends through boring slide shows of their trip to Italy!) and if you still cannot brave the future without partaking of this musical extravaganza, make it a point to join me next year.  It is the second weekend in August.  I will take your picture.

Geezerville picture credit:  Nancy La Hatt.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Boy Howdy! Carrie Elkin is in town!

News FLASH!!!!

Carrie has agreed to return to Bellingham after her gig in Portland on Saturday to play here once more.  She will be playing at Vartanyan Estate Winery, 1628 Huntley Rd., Bellingham this Sunday, August 1, 6 to 8pm.  The show is $8.00 dollars [and it all goes to Carrie]. If you missed her at the tavern, you missed a lot.  Here is the opportunity to see and hear her perform in an entirely different venue.  Don't miss this opportunity.  You won't be sorry. Directions are here.


Carrie Elkin is a singer/songwriter who hails from Austin, Texas.  She's on the road and she's here!  I know her music from hearing her perform  Whole Wheat Radio Concerts on-line and hearing her music streamed there. I've heard enough to confirm that she has a spirited and joyously infectious presence not to be missedShe is a gem of a song writer and performer. Do not miss her should she pass through your town.  Here is her tour schedule.  I suggest you get on Carrie's mailing list or friend  her on Facebook to make sure you do not miss her.  
For those of you here in Bellingham-town, do yourself a favor and get thee to the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern, 902 State St.  Wednesday, July 28th.  The music starts at 9:30pm and that cold, refreshing beer [No Crap on Tap] awaits you as soon as you cross the threshold!  Sure you can stay home and watch another rerun of CSI with a can of Bud or you could do something for yourself and the health of traveling troubadours all across this great land in supporting artists who live and work where the rubber meets the road. Treat yourself to an earful of great talent and do some friendly canoodling with your like-minded music lovers in the bargain. It's summer.  Come on out and play.

Here's a listen to Carrie singing "Questions about Angels".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cr Avery ~ Quakin' not Slurred

For some reason my local berg has been host to artist CR Avery on a lunar cycle of late. Perhaps you are tired of listening to me wax perpetually about this man's talent and ability to claim a room but it is my blog and my party, so....

I'm not sure how he stakes his claim. I don't want to know. I just want to be there when he happens because to see CR Avery ply his trade is to go to a happening in the good old fashioned sense of the word. Everything is somehow tolerable and worth it by the end of the show and with the kind of psychic weight lifting we've been doing lately, that is no small blessing.

CR's show can be something on league with a spiritual revival meeting one minute and a monster truck show the next- neither of which is going to appeal to every one - but let's just say for those of you who like your spoken word shaken and quakin' not stirred and blurred, you should not miss CR Avery at the Green Frog Accoustic Tavern, this Tuesday night, June 15th, 9:30pm...and if that is not doable then know that it is rumored he will be gracing the main stage of the Subdued Stringband Jamboree in August. If you miss that too you'd miss Mt. Baker on a clear are a clown.

Sometimes CR performs alone...sometimes he has his band "The Boomchasers" with him and sometimes he has the magnificent Noah Walker in tow as in this video clip I shot winter of 2008.

Though this is a better example:

See you there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Treasure of Time - A Streetcar Meditation

My brother sent me this video and I found it a fascinating historical meditation. It made me wonder if, when it was filmed, it was a folly or a lark. Look what a fascinating spectacle it is 105 years down the line!

I want to share this as a special post for my Elder Blogger friends at Time Goes By and the Elder Story Place for their willingness to follow through on sharing the larks and follies within their hearts. The stories and the experiences are amazing to me and can only increase in value over time. You never know where a legacy may be hidden,  The treasure of time and the ability to recognize what is truly of the blessings of aging.

The first track from Airs' Moon Safari
album, accompanied by scenes from a video
shot from a streetcar traveling down Market Street in San Francisco in 1905.
Before the earthquake/fire of 1906 destroyed the area. Remarkable footage of the turn of the century lifestyles in California.Made by cleaverb!

Thanks to cleverb for producing this clip.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Entitlement - Love You Some of What Loves You

There has been much gnashing of teeth of late, it seems to me, on the issue of entitlement. I'm picking this up from musicians. People who are sensitive types - aware types. They receive the world this way. It is what they do. I have been wondering why we are not recognizing their situation and valuing their circumstances? If I can generalize here for a moment, I suspect that our ignorance in conjunction with world events may be subjugating artists we love to an abundance of unhappiness.

This subject surfaced last week when Dayna Kurtz, in an attempt to garner support and funding for an upcoming artistic goal, invited people to participate. This was seen by a fan as soliciting and unbecoming of an artist of Dayna's standing. Dayna composed a strong and articulate response to this fan and shared it with all utilizing social networking [Facebook]. It made me wonder a bit about how it is that we have come to expect so much from our artists.

I also see another factor preying on artists. Mass disasters, war and human suffering. An artist that is trying to piece together a living does not get to choose in the same manner that fans and listeners who hold labors do. An artist, being sensitive to these extremely painful worldly concerns, has to still try and garner support and comes up against the one thing that they intend to translate or record or somehow interpret. The money that would fund their enterprise wants to fly to the disaster of the week.
Now there is a moral conflict.

I then read in a blog post of Krista Detor who in a moment of reflection, seemed to questioned whether she should allow herself something that you and I would never even think twice about giving ourselves. Is it bougeois to have a place to sit in her back yard where she could enjoy friends, sit with a cup of coffee or have space to write a song out in the bright out-of-doors? I read this, frowned and I thought to myself that this is just not right.

Later I was reading David Byrne's on-line Journal and I stumbled upon this March 25th entry:

"...Some see any presumed cleverness or market savvy on behalf of an artist or performer as distasteful. They feel that serious work should be driven primarily by passion or some kind of authenticity and purity, and that financial considerations — figuring out how to monetize one’s work and activity, as it is phrased in dot-com terms — is tacky, and goes against the rules. What rules? Where are these rules written down? Shouldn’t artists be cheered for making money if they can, if they don’t dilute their work?
The “rules” as I intuit them say that cultural production takes place on some moral and ethical high ground where money is not a consideration. According to these rules, for an artist or musician to take financial factors into consideration is to automatically lower and demean work that is supposed to stem from and engage our higher impulses. The work, once money enters the picture, is now assumed to be “work for hire,” to use the legal term. This is why fine artists often look down their noses on craftspeople, illustrators and graphic designers. During the Renaissance, they worked hard to separate themselves from the laborers of the trade guilds, and worked hard to gain acceptance for the idea that they were more than mere craftspeople — so to risk slipping back into that ignoble territory is completely unacceptable…
...According to the old fine art rules, it’s nobler to be poor — which is a cliché for sure, but one that is still held on to dearly. The assumption is that being paid well allies one with the bourgeois one is supposed to be busy offending and shocking. As if anything is shocking today...
There is something about fans maintaining this perception of exception that has to be recognized as destructive to an artist's creative process. I think there is an investment for fans to believe that art is divinely actualized and we should consider leaving off the faux religious aspect and embrace the reality of the situation. The internet - what I like to refer to as The Great Equalizer - has brought all of us an opportunity to democratically participate in supporting and interacting with our favorite artists like never before. We need to evolve as fans. At the very least, we need to encourage our artists towards abundance. Everyone benefits. Pay for the art you enjoy. Be a part of the solution and healing a world of hurt.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I.C.G.B.W.B.Y.C.G.* Look it's Danny Schmidt!

...I might write a bit about my jealousy of your having this Sunday night off but that is a given....Have I written enough about how great Danny Schmidt is? It is somewhat embarrassing....okay. I'm over it.

*I.C.G.B.W.B.Y.C.G. means: "I Can't Go Because of Work But You Can Go" and you would be a fool to miss this special early 6pm show on Sunday, May 9. To quote, James, the benevolent proprietor of the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern that is to host Danny Schmidt:

Sunday, May 9: Danny Schmidt, 6pm.

Okay, folks. Here is a treat. We are going to have to put the Slow Jam on the back burner this week, but it is for a really good reason. Danny Schmidt is one of the best songwriters in the country. No joke. This guy will tear your heart out, hold it in his hand, convince you to swallow it and it will magically start beating again right where it is supposed to be. You will not have any opportunity to have your own thoughts. You will not be able to move. He is that good. Take notice that the start time is really early, at 6pm. You don't want to miss this. I promise from the bottom of the heart that this man has made me swallow.

That's the word on the street via James. This being an early show allows a rare special treat to early Monday morning risers. Not only because you will be home at a comfortable hour but sweet dreams will enhance your week as you bask in the wake of being in the presence of Danny's talent on Sunday night. This is also Mother's Day. You may want to leave off giving the women in your life the embossed potholders and treat them to something you will BOTH enjoy...your heart with a beer chaser. This is a special treat. Don't miss it...and don't let anyone you love miss it either.

Those of you in the greater cyber-spacedance, here is a link to Danny's touring schedule. Join his email list. Don't miss the opportunity to see him play live, if you can help it.

Did I mention that I'm fond of Danny Schmidt's work?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life [you pathetic jewel of a human being]

To be a fan of music and not be a musician is to be a person of questionable stability. This is what I have understood about myself for 40 + years as I went about my business leaning into my speakers in slack-jawed amazement as "a listener". A listener. Every time I write it or post this I think to myself, "That kind of sounds suggestive and hopelessly lame as in: I like to watch". Thanks to Steve Almond and his accurate definition of drooling fanatic I realize that I am so much more than a listener. I crawl from the muck of the river Denial to face the music and realize that I'm closeted. In reality and in the eyes of oh so many who are too kind to mention it, I'm a nut job.

I do not usually buy books as I work in a library as a minimum wage slave but it was the perfect storm. I ordered the book, "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life" by Steve Almond when it was suggested by Dayna Kurtz on Facebook. It all happened so fast...

I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed reading "Rock and Roll will Save Your Life". Even if you are not into openly admitting you are a popular culture whore, you will relate to the engaging way Almond tells his stories. He has a strong command of the language and it provides him with a larger palette than many who I have read who approached sharing these types of experiences. It is just the broad stroke of his storytelling that give this personal discourse their snap and will knock you into laughing in spite of yourself.

Through the mishaps and the discoveries you get to follow along as Steve tears his life up and puts it all together again as he wants it. There is just too much packed into this tiny book to even begin to describe it's delights to a music lover. I have to say what I personally liked a LOT - even more than the the hysterically funny bits - was the way Almond tied up his story. I can't really call it an ending because it isn't and he subtly seems to incorporate this. It was a dignified and pleasant surprise twist and I will not spoil it for you but I will tell you this: I feel better about myself and my penchant for being spasmodically devoted to people who are creative and dedicated to sharing their talents....and I do so because of the charming way this book dandled my perceived weakness and returned it to me as a strength.

Rock on you crazy Almond...and thanks for the melodies.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You Can Leave the Light On

I don't draw much anymore so when the opportunity presented itself to contribute art to a local arts organization, Allied Arts here in Bellingham, I was a little apprehensive. I decided I would try. The task was to decorate donated lampshades to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the arts in education programs the organization supports in the community. I had some paper that was given to me a few years back and I thought I would draw on that to make a design for the light to enhance when turned on. I'm pretty much a one-trick pony when it comes to visual art. I draw abstract pen drawings on just about anything. This time, a lampshade.
I've never taken my interest in drawing with pen and ink any further than doodling. Consequently I'm not trained as an artist so this is a risky situation when I take on making something someone else is going to put in their home. It crosses my mind, "Will this burn someone's house down, strapping me to them artistically and karmically like Ahab shackled to Moby Dick?" (but perhaps I read too much John Irving)...I have no idea what will work and what is archive quality, let alone what's flammable! In spite of this I decided to try it, using my artistically inclined friends to help when I'd get stuck. Aye, there's the training...
No doubt, when you attend any school that is going to have you manually wrestling with any medium, one of the first things they are going to tell you is, "tie your hair back". It never occurred to me that I should consider my unruly mane before I undertook an art project. Consequently my lampshade has embedded in a seam for all time a genetic thread to the artist, a long streaming hair from my ponytail. I considered withdrawing my donation when I discovered this after I lacquered the entire shade (of course it would be at the very end that I find it). I then found the original pleated voile covering that I removed to decorate the shade and it occurred to me that maybe if I covered the shade with a negligee it would disguise the blemish. It occurred to me that there is some other word for a garment that is thrown over a negligee but I could not recall it. My muse using Google eventually came to my rescue with the word I sought: a "peignoir"... which is a garment worn by a woman to brush out her hair to keep the all the hair from sneaking about into unwanted places while she's grooming. No kidding... So I took the cover and designed a little removable peignoir for the shade, which covers up the special present in the seam, should that be disconcerting to the lampshade owner.
I imagine partnered people putting the peignoir on the lamp as a discreet sign to let each other know when one or the other might be inclined to " change the oil in the Buick" or something....I've heard that couples sometimes create special messages for each other....As for myself, I prefer the universal means of non-verbal communicating to the world. I turn my porch light off when I don't want to be tricked or treated.
So here is my imperfect offering. I took a lot of pictures because, frankly, I was kind of surprised that I could draw at all and I suspect that this ability will be lost to me in the somewhat near I'm happy the way it turned out. I hope that someone else likes it and Allied Arts makes some money by selling it.
"You Can Leave the Light On;
Enlightenment with Peignoir"

Peignoir: A long outer garment for women frequently sheer and made of chiffon or other translucent fabrics. The word comes from the french peignoir, to comb the hair describing a garment worn while brushing one's hair, originally referring to a dressing gown or bathrobe.
I can't wait until the first Friday Art Walk this weekend when I get to see all the artists ideas in a room together. It is always pretty amazing where creative people will run to with an idea when given the opportunity. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

There's No More Stories 'bout Bridges

Tonight is my Friday night so when I got a message from Danny Schmidt that Radio Station KALX in Berkely CA was streaming a retrospective of Danny's work at midnight tonight, I was ON it. Don't get me wrong. I like sleep. I'm a big fan of it but I can't think of any dream more eloquent and beautiful than a sit down with a glass of wine and a ponder with Danny Schmidt's muse. I encourage you fans and insomniacs alike to join us at midnight PST and give this show a listen.

Sometimes you have to stay up late and peer into the darkness to get the satisfaction of the big think. Below is a video I captured of Danny Schmidt singing "Grandpa Built Bridges" that he performed at the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern in Bellingham, WA. Danny is sharing here a bit of his inspiration for the song and I apologize for the lack of sound and video quality.

I encourage you to listen to the proper recordings of his work to be found here . Some singers you listen to and they bring you a melody and some singers you listen to and they bring you news from a sacred place. Danny brings both. Give his work a listen, if not tonight then sign on to his email list so you will not miss him when he travels through your town. He travels a lot. He's the real deal.

"...Grampa built bridges with crestview spires
With braids of wires and wings of steel
Til he walked on over with his heels on fire
And the bridge burned back with a captive haze..."

Thank you John Grubb of Rockslide Photography for the picture of Danny.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Independent Music 101

Marian Call is a talented musician who, after years of studying music, found the music industry lacking. She's one of the first of many musicians raised in a world of technology and entitlement who do not easily buy into existing business models of earning a living. She's wise for her years in that she suspects (I think rightly) that being sponsored and supported by an industry comes at a cost. She is also savvy enough to cultivate her own fanbase through the internet. A tremendous amount of focus and work goes into this on her behalf. Her fans are financing her next album.

There are many singer/songwriters who do this already and many, it seems, where initially forced into learning how to do it for the sake of survival. I find Marian unique (but my no means alone) in that her embracing technology grew alongside her cultivation of her talents. In this short video Marian talks about that process and how it fits her values.

I found as I listened that we have much to learn from those who come after us wanting the same things that we want: freedom, independence and choice. They deserve our interest and support. I'm not so sure that they are not born to bring us greater understanding in how to live large in freedom and prosperity. I think they may be hard-wired for nothing less and I think we should pay attention to what they are doing and saying.

Thanks to "Alaska Dispatch" for posting this video.

Monday, January 18, 2010

For the Man Who Has Everything: Throwing Grandma Out with the Bathwater

It seems like too much of my life is spent trying to identify the good guys from the bad guys lately. I wonder how it is that this line became so blurred...but it has. My current conundrum involves the debate about Social Security. I have always heard that the program was in trouble and there would not be enough money to help my children and grandchildren. Everyone has heard this so much that it has become fact even though it is a myth. Now I understand upon further investigation that there is an strong element of grandstanding and posturing for private agendas involved in cultivating that rumor. What to do?

There is currently a bill: Senate Bill 2853 that appeals strongly to everyone's sense of responsible fiscal action in government. It proposes a shortcut to expediting policies. Behind this bill is a fellow with a LOT of money by the name of Peter G. Peterson who has decided, I understand, that his legacy to the American Public will be to dismantle what he deems as a worthless program: Social Security. (He has his eye on Medicare and Medicaid as well but that is an addendum to this issue). You might recall in 2004 when then President Bush was rallying to reform Social Security by investing all that secure money into the stock market, Mr. Peterson was all for that idea...

( ....I will stop here for a minute to allow your imagination to work with your hindsight a moment. Imagine the current scenario that would have been the result of that action, should it have been enacted by the American people....).

It was the democratic process of open debate that saved all those elders from having to loose everything (often little anyway) when everything tumbled in winter of 2008. You think it is a crime to see dead bodies piled up roadside in Haiti due to a poor infrastructure and political philandering and think that disasters such as this could never happen here? Put America's financing on a "fast-track" so we can "get 'er done" and you will see things worse than New Orleans post Katrina. You will see your own Grandma and Grandpa denied care and funding that they paid into by working all of their lives. What's more you will have the opportunity to help them directly perhaps with the funding that was earmarked for your child's eduction.

Yes there are things to be done to improve Social Security and you can read about those things in simple language here at Ronni Bennett's Blog, Time Goes By. The Senate Bill 2853 that reads at the the onset to be so practical is really a way to circumvent the system to act swiftly on making financial cuts that could eviscerate the stable existing lifestyles of millions. We are talking cuts made by politicians with minimal debate done behind closed doors.

(...again let me pause a moment while the imagination has a chance to confer with hindsight regarding unchecked politicians, policy makers and lobbyists...)

Venture capitalists are very wily people. That is how they became so wealthy. When you get powerful and affluent people wanting to make a name for themselves like Mr. Peterson things can become very scary very quickly. Certainly that is the case here. Money talks in American politics and too often all it REALLY wants to talk about is itself. Be careful of this bill working it's way into our lives.
There is a recourse strategy. Tomorrow, 19 January, is Call-In-Day. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, who are, understandably, all over this bill, are joining with other elder advocacy groups to inundate the Senate with telephone calls against this bill. There is more about this in Time Goes By with links and explanations. To cut to the chase, the number to call is 800-998-0180 and the details of the bill can be found here . I encourage you to join me in making sure that reform does not spell deconstruction of programs that are, fundamentally honorable and sound and are simply in need of some compassionate attention.