Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Falling for David Bowie...

Here's an admittedly tangential, but nevertheless true, David Bowie (-ish-esque-y) story.

In autumn of 1975, our band, Flood, was playing a late-Saturday-afternoon matinee at a large college club called Maxwell's in Iowa City, IA. Earlier that afternoon, a number of us had been at the Iowa State-Iowa game and witnessed Iowa win on a last-minute, classic, Statue-of-Liberty play. The stadium was a frenzy and that celebratory mood found its way to the club, fully intact. Maxwell's, a fairly large club (between 200 to 250 seats) --- with a capacious four-foot-high stage, a sunken dance floor, and a large high-wattage, Cerwin-Vega house PA (that rocked) --- was completely full by the start of our first of two matinee sets. Dancers and revelers were well lubricated and definitely interpreted the word "party" as a verb.

By the time we got to the end of the first set, our energy level was at least equal to the room's, and our volume level was probably twice that. We closed that set with Bowie's "Suffragette City," from the "Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars" LP. We were in the song's raucous ending chorus and, as I had the habit of doing back then, I was rocking back and forth with abandon. Stupidly loud met energized bombast and rarely had either one had it so good.

Then, it happened.

In less than the blink of an eye, I lost my balance on a backward rock, then, as I rocked forward, dizzy but aware I was out of control, I kicked out with my foot to catch my now lost balance, whereupon my foot smacked firmly against a strip of 1-inch-high molding that ran along the front edge of the stage. The Laws of Physics being what they are --- constant and immutable --- my forward foot-action resulted in an equal-and-opposite body-action, and I went up and out, feet over hands, into the wild blue yonder and onto the sunken dance floor. As I fell in what I recall being a cross between flying and diving into a sea of startled dancers, my left hand stayed firmly around the neck of my bass even as my right hand tried to find something/someone to grab. My bass's head stock struck the dance floor first (snapping off a small piece of wood that I would never find), my right hand landed second, and the rest of me, faithfully still attached, landed third in what could best be described as, a crumpled heap. Had the Russian judges been there, I would have carded a solid 9.0, easy. I had not had a drop to drink, by the way.

Anyway, and amazingly all the while, the band was still blasting away, with Tommy, Steve, Don, and Paige still singing the chorus. Even as I was helped to my feet, the band was still playing, seemingly oblivious. Even as I found my place on stage and re-tuned my now-sharp A string with the tuning gear that I had just bent on landing, the band was still playing.

I managed to finish the song with the rest of the band, and our version of David Bowie's tune, one of my all-time favorites, and one of Flood's best, might never have sounded better.

It was a small price to pay for rock-and-roll. May David rest in peace. I have always believed, and will continue to believe, he would have appreciated the moment.

Learning to Roll with The Little Stuff

The first winter we owned the cottage (2006) a Jehovah's Witness apparently opened the front storm door to leave a flyer --- I know because a Watchtower promotional flyer was hanging from the inside door's outside knob --- but just as apparently didn't fully close the front storm door, because the relentlessly constant, and, oftentimes, brutally strong, southwest wind from the lake tore the storm door off, twisting it into a weird aluminum and glass sculpture. (Ceci n'est pas une porte?) And so, as of winter 2007, we started latching the (new) storm door from the inside when we closed the place. And, as much of a shock as this might seem, we never did subscribe to that magazine.

Flash forward to today... Row and I drove down to Crystal, about an hour's drive, to check on some things, drop off some stuff, and pick up some other stuff. When we arrived at the cottage, we found that a snow drift, which had formed on the brand-new-as-of-last-August back stoop, had melted and refrozen enough times to transform itself into an impenetrable ice drift that now prevented the back storm door from being opened.

With the front storm door securely latched from the inside, as I mentioned previously, and the rear door rendered unopenable by the ice dam --- and not having a shovel or icebreaker because both were inside the safely locked garage, the key to which was inside the safely locked house --- we had no choice but to declare the place functionally impregnable, throw up our hands, laugh about it, capitulate to fate, and head home.

But it wasn't a total loss: it was a beautifully sunny day, a fun round-trip drive with Row, and a perfect excuse to have spare garage keys made, which we'll leave in our respective glove boxes... or cover the rear stoop... or rethink latching the front door...or stop on the way home at the Shepherd Bar for a beer.

Being back in Michigan has been enlightening, and there are only worse things.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I Want to Vote for a Woman for President

I mean it. I really do. I want to vote for a woman for president. We’ve had a couple centuries of male presidents, and it’s well passed the time that we give a female a shot at it. Throughout our history, lots of women have run, and rather than provide a list here, see this site.

It wasn’t until 2008 that someone other than a white man was elected POTUS, and because I know our first African-American president, President Barack Obama, engenders strong feelings on both sides, and because this is about women candidates, I’ll keep my opinion to myself and leave judgments to history. But, like I said, I really do want to vote for a woman for POTUS. I’d add “in my lifetime,” but this would be silly as I clearly couldn’t do it any other way.

This year, 2016, two women are running. I think this is great, and I hope it’s a trend for the future. I’m an independent voter and am registered with no political party. I’m a Liberal, but although I do know many folks who are far left of me, I tend to think and act moderately. Call me a Moderate Liberal, I guess. I think it’s great that the two women who are running are on opposite sides, but I’ve known that I won’t be voting for either one of them for some time.

I can’t abide Carly Fiorina because I think she’s making that faulty assumption that a government is like a business and that it can be run by applying business principles. It isn’t, and it can’t; otherwise it would have been long before now. Besides, even if I accepted this false premise, her questionable business choices at Hewlett-Packard, a once amazing company, would disqualify her. As for the other woman running, I simply don’t trust Hillary Clinton.

I used to be a big fan of Hillary Clinton. So much a fan was I that I wrote her a letter in 1999 offering my services as a speechwriter should she ever decide to run for office. (Yes, I really did this.) She was kind enough to reply to my letter back then, but I don’t trust her because I think she is as much a political opportunist as any man and is as beholden to outside interests as any man, and these are two things I don’t like about politicians in general, regardless of gender. Cynics might argue that this is how you have to be to be a politician, but I would argue that you don’t. You just have to be a human being, a good person, and people will respond to that. You don’t have to be someone who will say anything to get what you want. 

I don’t care about her emails; this is a red herring. This is just a way to get at her, to make her look bad. Should she have done things differently? Of course. I don’t think what happened in Benghazi disqualifies her either, because plenty of horrible things have happened on the watches of other Secretaries of State, and no one convened hearings about them, let alone the endless string that has come since Benghazi. I’m deeply sad for the families of those who died helping, but what’s happened since has been a dishonor to them, in my opinion. 

Nor do I care about her husband potentially being back in the White House as First Gentleman, although I have to think this title alone is causing no end of heartburn for thousands who hate the man. But I like him. Yes, he got Don’t Ask Don’t Tell completely wrong, he never should have pushed DOMA, he never should have allowed Glass-Steagall to die, and as a person in an obvious position of power, he totally messed up by having a sexual dalliance with an intern, a direct report (although all things being equal, I would argue that a smile on the face of the man [or woman] holding “the nuclear football” isn’t always a bad thing). So Bill doesn’t bother me. 

However, he’s not running; his wife is, and I don’t trust her. I do think she has some great ideas, and I agree with her on pretty much all of them. Yes, she made a mistake voting us into the Iraq invasion, and so did President Obama make mistakes where Nouri Al-Malaki was concerned after the last Iraq election. Many mistakes have led to the birth of yet another terrorist group; this was not all Bush 43’s fault or all Hillary’s fault or all Obama’s. I just don’t trust Hillary, and I can’t vote for her.

But I’ll say it again, I want to vote for a woman for president. I just don’t see the current options as folks I can support with my vote. I wish it were otherwise, but there it is. Maybe I'll get the chance to vote for Elizabeth Warren in 2020, or as VP in 2016... hint, hint.

Update: I ended up voting for HRC in 2016 because the alternatives were far too awful. In retrospect, I'm glad I did.