Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Pride March this past weekend, with the Anti Violence Project's group, particularly with Cat and Cleo, Cheri & Sadie, and of course Cory.  A good vibrant, loving group of people, and supporters for miles.  

The news reports talked about the somber tone in light of Orlando, and I won't pretend there weren't moments, or that there weren't tears.  But Stonewall had also just been declared a National Landmark, and love is love is love is love is love.

Tonight I was reminded at a screening of Neil Gaiman's exhortation (reminiscent of Bernstein's): in the wake of adversity, make good art.  A gathering like this, with family, friends, supporters, allies of every shape and size, counts as some version of that.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Brooklyn, that is.  Not Brexit.  That's a whole other box of wine.

Last weekend we went to our 2nd Celebrate Brooklyn show so far this season [the first was the amazing Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.]  The opener was the formidable Kristin Hersh, sans Muses, but fully loaded with guitar and growl.

Next up were the Violent Femmes in all their glory.  I managed my expectations pretty strictly, having last seen them way back when in Madison, (practically a home town gig for a Milwaukee band) at something like their height.  I was just a kid, but it was on the short list of highest energy shows I had seen, and the crowd responded in kind.  Gordon Gano told the (extremely) college-centric audience at the Civic Center something along the lines of "You guys are making us feel like we made it to the Final Four."

Might have been a line he used everywhere.

This show was a lot less collegiate, and the middle-aged family folk in the chairs up front kept their prospects parked in their seats almost until the end of the set, but Gano and Brian Richie put out plenty of wattage across a fabulous range of instruments along with John Sparrow on a variety of percussion including-but-not-limited to Webber grill, Blaise Garza on that gigantic contrabass sax among other things, and the mighty Horns of Dilemma.

All hail summer at the bandshell.

Now please excuse me while I have a cup of coffee and a Brexit Burrito and figure out what the hell we should do next.

This just in: According to the Times "Google reported a spike in (UK-based) searches for "What happens if we leave the E.U." And the question "What is the E.U.?" was the second most popular question in Britain"  In Britain.  If you're a little queasy, you're not alone.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Avant Garde

So this is kind of exciting.

All issues of Avant Garde Magazine have been made available for online viewing in their entirety.

It ran from 1968-71, 14 issues in total, published by the controversial Ralph Ginzburg.

Not universally beloved; there was particular loathing from some of the font fanatics (not to say fetishists) of the world (and support from others) against Avant Garde typeface created by art director Herb Lubalin.

You can view the issues online here, or download them courtesy the brilliant Internet Archive here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

After Orlando

The rational, measured, intelligent response that Obama gave to that gun guy at that town hall a couple weeks ago has been making the rounds an extra special lot in the last 48 hours.  Understandably.

Last night it came to me that there most certainly ARE some people who want to do away with all personal possesion of guns, or at least handguns & assault weapons: either repeal the 2nd Amendment or drive through the courts an interpretation that limits the right to bear arms to that well-regulated militia it mentions.  I don't happen to agree with them most of the time, although days like this make me step back and give them a little extra time to make their case, but these folks do exist, so we don't need to pretend that they don't.  Some of them are friends, and some of them are really smart.  

As far as I can tell, the "get rid of all guns" crowd is a pretty fringe-y minority, numbers-wise.  Important to be there though as a rhetorical balance to the other side of the scale, which is the "let anybody who wants one get as many guns, as powerful as they can carry, whenever they want to" crew.  I do not tend to lend them a friendly ear, nor do I generally have a great deal of respect for the "intelligence" at work in their reasoning.  ["More, and more deadly, guns in nightclubs will make things safer!" Right. Next.]  

Here again, I don't think we're talking about too many people in the "AR-15s for Everyone!" camp, although this wing of the argument is vastly more funded, and many many times more influential in terms of lawmakers and policy.  And here is where the anger gets hard to control.  Because it has been well demonstrated that a vast majority of the U.S. citizenry, including citizen gun-owners, wants some restraints placed on our current, nearly unfettered access to guns designed for the purpose of killing people. And yet the belief persists that limitations - which would strike most Americans as quite reasonable, not to say blindingly obvious - are actually intended to be the trickle that leads to the stream that leads to a gush to a flood of GUN GRABBING courtesy of the Feds.

Which it wouldn't be.  Did you notice we are talking about America?  How do you think that would play out?

But a trickle leading to a stream leading to a gush of being a lot more thoughtful about where and how and what kind of guns we want to have around might be a movement we could get behind.  Because as it is, we have a situation where - between this unprecedented civilian availability of assault weaponry with unprecedented speed, power, and capacity on the one side, and the literal militarization of local police forces on the other - we are in an arms race with ourselves.  And I for one am not the least bit interested in seeing how THAT would play out.

I could go on and on about the intolerance, the homophobia, the rush to link the murderer with a terrorist network that seems to have been barely aware of him, and by extension to a religion that would, and in fact already has, roundly condemn his actions, and much much more that is already being said out there. But one other thing I want to mention right now: please don't let the obsession with the perpetrator lead to ignoring the victims.  Let their names be known, let their stories be told, let their memories be honored. And while we're at that, please don't let the carnage at Pulse completely drown out the heartbreaking murder of Christina Grimmie, gunned down at the age of 22 by a fan while signing autographs and working the merch table after her own show the night before the Pulse massacre.  

Rough couple days for Orlando.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Reading Replacements

Last Saturday night we went to an event at Little City Books in Hoboken - a combination book release/signing, discussion, and concert, all in celebration of Bob Mehr's Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.

The 'Mats are one of the all-time great bands as far as I'm concerned, and the I-haven't-finished-it-yet-but-so-far-it's-more-than-worth-the-effort book has drawn attention from some pretty fab people.

Michael Hill, who helped the band navigate Warner Brothers.  Or tried to.

The interlocutor was Bob Mehr himself, writer and raconteur extraordinaire.

Glenn Morrow's Cry for Help

Jennifer O'Connor

Freedy Johnson with Dave Schramm.  Take that in for a second.  Dave also answered Morrow's Cry for Help from the sidelines.

More Freedy

The Dead Wicks.

It's not a big place (true to form) but we packed it pretty good.

From what I could tell, they sold all the copies they had of the book, and gave away all the Replacements gear (in exchange for donations to the bands) too.  It was a superfun night; happy to have done it in Hoboken rather than the Strand - though it did mean we had to miss the 75 Dollar Bill/Little Black Egg show.  You can't do everything.