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.