Monday, March 29, 2010

No Photos, No Music, Just Ranting, Sorry

On Monday, April 12, the Missoula City Council will discuss the proposed anti-discrimination bill and many people on both sides of the issue will show to state their views.

I don't know what it is like to be gay, but I know what it is like to be bullied. It began when I started school, because I was one of the smallest kids in the school, and I wore thick glasses, a rarity in those days among grade-schoolers. "Hey, 4-eyes!" was the signal I was about to get my ass kicked. In middle school, came "Chuck you Farley," another signal I was about to get my ass kicked. Calling me Chuck still puts me in fight or flight mode.

For years I ran from bullies, until I learned that didn't work. Pop said he always just whipped the shit out of bullies, but he had a twin brother to back him up. However, he still insisted I stand my ground and fight back. My track skills atrophied, and I took more beatings. I began to berserk a bit and cause more damage to my attackers than it was worth and then during the four years of high school, I grew 10 inches and gained 48 pounds.

The first time I was called a queer in high school, it was being used synonymously with nerd, and I didn't know the already accepted urban meaning. Strange and odd I had in aces, and that was the dictionary definition at the time. I have been called queer many times since then, because I like to converse with friends, and quite frankly...well, some of them are queer.

It wasn't always so. I had a friend come out in college, and for some time I shunned him, as did many others. I'm not sure exactly where the tipping point occurred, but I recognized his being my friend as more important than his sexual orientation. He never represented any threat to me. That was in Eugene. Later, whenever I passed through San Francisco, he and his partner always had a place for me to stay. We hit a place called the Cabaret one night and had some serious fun.

Bullies have been with us, since human history began, and they have been mirrored in nature forever by the larger stealing food from the smaller. They try to appear powerful by terrorizing those smaller and weaker than themselves. Since they fear any they perceive as different than themselves, they are always looking for excuses to attack others. Carefully created propaganda can have bullies bellowing in herds. Look around this country, and you will see the process in action. Our last national administration was made up mostly of bullies, and the media is still full of them.

Back to today's issue of equal rights for all people no matter their sexual orientation. A bunch of Bible thumpers are yelling abomination, and shouting they have a right to discriminate and god is on their side, yadda, yadda, blah, blah. The dictionary meaning for discriminate is "to recognize a distinction." We're not talking about discrimination here; we're talking about prejudice: "preconceived opinion which is not based on reason or experience." In short--ignorance.

Personally, I don't care what consenting adults do with each other, as long as they don't force others to participate. I have big problems with the snake handlers in the south and the traumas they inflict upon their children. Those assholes shouldn't be allowed to have children. Meanwhile, homosexuals have no more tendency to prey on others than heterosexuals, but the Bible thumpers don't want them adopting or teaching children. Speaking of Bible thumpers, dare we bring up how the world's largest religious bureaucracy is lumbering around hiding and defending the sexual predations their minions have practiced for centuries?!

Sinead O'Connor was so right about the pope on SNL, and the catholics came out of the woodwork to harass her everywhere she went.

That pious dress-wearing man condemns other men who wear dresses. That strikes me as hypocrisy. In fact, just thinking about that whole mess angers me too much, and I must change the subject.

The Dalai Lama is coming. This guy is the real deal. He has a firm spiritual base, is still learning, is willing to admit his mistakes, looks for dialog and is a true agent of peace. May all the powers that be bless him and this visitation.

I took time out to read the comics. Some of the oldies in constant circulation start to finish include Bloom County, Boondocks and Calvin and Hobbes. My selection varies as some come and go, and others change, but I'm serious about finding laughs every day (seems almost an oxymoron). I linked the home site for the biggest batch of titles I know to Facebook. I'm going to restore the comics links on this blog, too, but not right now.

All Christians blindly following the neo-con agenda need to read the sermon on the mount and other teachings by the man they call Lord, before the conservatives chop everything out of the Bible they consider too liberal. Look at what Jesus said not what every jump-on-the-bandwagon scam artist through the centuries said. Don't look to current religious leaders for your answers, because they are full of shit, and they've sold out to the dark side. Those frauds haven't changed since Jesus' time when he compared them to tombs whitewashed outside but full of rotten meat and dead men's bones.

Yes, I'm talking about the pope again, and the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, Hagee, Dobson, and all those self-righteous fakers. They appear to be sheep only to lead the sheep, and are wolves. That's bad imagery, because I like wolves.

Back to the dunderheads who will be at the meeting shouting against equal rights for everyone. I'm not sure I have time to waste on such ignorance, but I should be there for my friends on the other side...

Life presents another dilemma.

I didn't even turn my computer on all day yesterday. I'm thinking of making that a regular ritual. Now, I've blown my pipes clean with a rant and can get on with other things today. I sat down to rant about the war, Obama, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but this is the 21st century, and it is way past time to allow all humans equal rights, with, of course, the exceptions for those wishing to harm others.

Equal Rights 4 Everyone

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Elks, Skurfs, Fun, Gavin, or is it Donny(?)

Gavin is new to me, since he returned to Missoula recently. Not long after I arrived in Zootown his previous band, Arrows to the Sun, held their final event at the Bike Doctor, I missed it, and Gavin headed to warmer climes. Now he's back with a band called the Skurfs, labeling their music mountain surf. This is the real deal. See them ASAP.

Gavin plays as Donny McBride. He and bandmate, Danny Venture, produced this show, where 15 bands performed on Friday, March 12, at the Elks Club. Minor glitches aside, this event was a spectacular success. Mike Avery covered sound, Gavin MC'd and a line up of Missoula new and different bands laid out some energizing music.

I arrived in time for the Chalfonts.

Next up, Bright Northern Light saw the trumpet and raised a French horn.

Love the Clerks t-shirt.

The audience was growing. I had to skip out to the Top Hat for Butter and the first few songs by Lukas Nelson, before returning in time for the Skurfs. The crowd was even larger. Only Hell's Belles at the Badlander had a bigger draw, and it wasn't nearly as much fun as what happened here.

Gavin was channeling Buddy Holly, and generally enjoying his work, which made the crowd happy to listen.

It was another great night in my hometown. There are 24 images of this event on flickr.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Thoughts..

...about a lot of things here and now, then and there, and coming up tonight.

Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt are today's soundtrack. I just spent several days selling my photographs on the street. The first and third day went so well, I became optimistic, but the last two days produced not a single sale. Thus, I haven't left my yard today. I'm thinking about planting morning glory to climb the trellis on the east end of the porch. Flowers are good medicine for depression. I learned that one from Dr. Weil. If you are not familiar with him, Google.

I cannot go any further without mentioning this place,

because tonight this band will be on stage with that man up front,

and there's a good chance

this songbird will be up there part of the time, and that takes care of the future. 

Meanwhile, back in the present, I didn't rush downtown this morning, as I have been doing, in order to think through this street marketing concept, and how to improve it. I see some mistakes I made. Having albums of photos to look at only distracted from my merchandise. The desperate sprinkling of 2nd hand items included yesterday were just another distraction, rather than profit producer. I dropped one of my favorite images and shattered the frame, while packing up the second day. So it goes. 

Oh, holy hannah, I feel a rant coming on. Sweet Jesus, should I make a break for the outdoors (it's gorgeous today), and spare you. Nope. Can't. It started when these street canvassers approached me three times in two days to sign their petition to cap taxes in Montana. When questioned, none could say what taxes other than property and estate, two that will never impact me. 

Within a few years of California's famous Prop 13 passing, the state's school system, always among the best, fell into the low 30s in state quality standards. Infrastructure went to hell, too. Assholes have been yelling about the estate tax for years, except they like calling it the death tax in screaming boldface. That bullshit started with Ronnie Raygunzap. When the rich guys bought the White House for him, they immediately insisted that taxes be cut for them and their rich friends, and the companies they owned, were invested in or ran. They kept shouting tax cuts, proposing tax cuts, and passing tax cuts, but taxes weren't really cut. They were shifted downwards.

Landed aristocracy is one of the bad old ideas passed over through Europe from ancient empires. Rich people would love to go back to the dark ages, when the poor died in their ghettos, and on their farms, while the aristocrats lived off the fat of the land. Nothing has really changed. The plutocrats who run this country will do anything in their power, and use any trick to make themselves richer and the rest of us poorer. They embrace a lot of high sounding ideals, but the bottom line is all that matters.  

Raygunsap supporters (early tea-baggers called jock straps back then) voted tax cuts, deregulation and other legal steps, which did nothing but make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Why people vote against their own interests is a puzzle studied by many experts. 

Tax cuts produce spending cuts. What gets cut? The cutting starts with anything which benefits the citizens, and stops where it impacts corporate profits. Health services gone; insurance companies deregulated. Utilities turned over to private ownership, who cause financial hardship raising their rates to improve profit lines for the stock holders. Education is my biggest beef. They cut education, because ignorant people are easier to control. What education they fund will be what to think not how. And damn, are they good at just saying no. 

Education is first asked to sacrifice the arts, considered worthless to the rich, unless you're talking about what they have on their walls. Art teaches the brain to function properly, the synapses to fire cleanly, the ideas to fly and the art to appear. Foreign language is another thing which teaches the brain. To all the ignoramuses out there shouting, "Learn English, or go home," I say learn Algonquin or go home. 

Those jackals who supported George II and his mad war jeered at the French. In France every student must learn not only the full history of their native language and it's middle form, but at least one other foreign language. Guess what? That makes them smarter than us. 

I think I will end on that thought, not because it is true, but because language and art are important, and there's a funny hook for it all to hang on, language, art, education, foreigners, taxes...

blah, blah, yadda, yadda, gotta go make something happen

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Butter Melts Hat

As I have matured over the decades, I have learned to keep my priorities straight. When four women I love are on stage at the same time, guess what my priority is? If you said getting my ass down to the Hat to see Butter, you would be correct. There was plenty of music in Zootown last night, and I have tons of material from the 13 or 14 band blow out at the Elks Club. Gavin of the Skurfs orchestrated that bash, which came off with a minimum of problems for an enterprise that big. Right now, I just want to give a shout out about some beautiful and talented women musicians. Well, shit, that's hardly fair. What do they call men like me who are prejudiced in women's favor? To be fair, there are two male musicians in Butter. Here is one:

Jesse Netzloff tuning his guitar, and below is Martin McCain.

Maria Kendra and Jesse Netzloff

Maria, Jesse and Lisena Brown

Hermina Harold

Bethany Joyce

Butter was opening for some national name...let me think...son of a real famous singer...what?

OK, dammit, it was Lukas Nelson, son of Willie. That's what the ads said, and then I walked into the Top Hat and saw a lot of promotion for "Promise of the Real." Turns out that's this young man's band, and the whole name is really Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.

Hey, a bonus for the Kitchenpoet: this is a kick-ass outfit with attitude and style aimed for fun.

Drummers are often hard to photograph because they are behind everyone in the dark. This one also put up a half circle of cymbals right at head level for more protection from paparazzi.

So much music in Zootown, Kitchenpoet can't always keep up, and in my defense I say: no one could cover it all. All I can do is give it my best shot. Capturing the spirit of the moment is one of my many goals. Thank all you denizens of Zootown for welcoming me home, when I arrived.

Timeslip update: Now on flickr a full set of Butter. Click on the set, hit slideshow, let it play, and tell me what you think.  I'm processing a lot of material, again, as well as selling my photos on the street in front of Celtic Connections. I have to get some sleep. Still to come the 13 band blow-out at the Elks. It did wind up 13 didn't it? I'm not really sure, but it was a gas, and I've a bunch to work through.

Tom Catmull Starts a Fire

This crazy fucking drummer was almost calm for a change, as Tom  rocked it the way he always does, on Sunday, March 7, when Tom Catmull and the Clerics opened for Backyard Tire Fire at the Top Hat.

Visually, Backyard Tire Fire offered little material for a photographer, but aurally, these cats could play. They had done their time, paid their dues, had every note in place, and played them with strength. 

I must confess I had never heard of these guys before the ads for this event went up. When I checked their pedigree, I found they had opened for, toured with, or were friends with, writing songs with some of my favorite bands including Govt Mule, Cracker, Horton Heat and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Knowing that, I had to make this show, and I am so glad I did.

Zootown, where were you that Sunday night, when two excellent bands put on terrific performances at the Top Hat? I must say the witnesses present did show great spirit, but bands this good deserve a larger audience.

More images from this event are here  flickr. BTF has their own set of 12, and Tom has a set of images combined from this night and the last gig at the Union Club.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If I titled this Memories of My Mother, would you think it hokey?

Memories of my mother flitted out of nowhere, settling on the barbed wire. I was waiting for Home Resource to open in search for new display ideas. Mom always loved the snow; it is snowing. Mom always loved those little round-bellied birds; there's a flock of them in my vision. She had given up by the time I arrived in Arkansas to help. She could have carried on, as Pop did, but she wouldn't. It would have taken a cattle prod to move her.

Mom learned to drive late in life. My sister was already born, and Pop had bought the 1957 Ford Fairlane which Mom learned to drive, because we were moving to Oregon, and she would have to help drive. We were all regular church goers, and it seemed, half the congregation saw her the day she couldn't restart that Ford and got out to kick it in the busiest intersection in town.

Driving freed mother to visit the sick and shut-ins, an action she considered her Christian duty. At a formative age, I found myself in the company of the elderly, the ill, the injured, heaps of National Geographic magazines, and others (i.e. Arizona Highways), and daily newspapers sometimes in grand old houses ripe for exploring. Those are among my fondest childhood memories.

I must confess, I feigned illness to avoid attending church sometimes, because it bored me to tears. My father often escorted me outside and used his belt on my behind, when he caught me with some trinket or toy I took to church to play with rather than listen to the sermon. I was a kid, for Christ's sake , and what the preacher had to say meant nothing to me. Alone at home with my illness, the radio tuned to the African-American church service in Oklahoma City, I rocked out.

Still love National Geographic. Still love my mother, too. She's still around, you know. On a recent morning, as I sat in my car in front of Home Resource, she arrived as a flock of birds and danced on the wires in front of me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kitchenpoet's Weekend was Terrific, How About Your's?

Kitchenpoet leaped on the weekend like a cougar on a steak. The photo above was taken by this dude.

He captured a better image of me than I did of him. My apologies. He laid down on the sidewalk to get that shot, and I'm too old to lay on sidewalks.

The weekend was off to a hard charging start with all the activity of First Friday, as previously posted. Wolf Redboy played again on Saturday, this time in the Palace.

Moonshine Mountain @ the Hat

Zeppo was playing the Union Club, but Ruthie strictly forbade my taking photos, saying it was time for me to just enjoy myself. She doesn't get how much I enjoy taking photos, I guess. Anyway, I had a great Saturday night, after a great Friday night, and I have something to say about Sunday, too, but I've other things to do right now. Time to get downtown.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Friday--March, 2010

Three shows in four months. Take the brakes off. Yes sir, I did. We're smokin' now. Hotdiggetydirt. And wowzerfuckingdamn too.

My show dedicated to Ruthie opened at Computer Central on First Friday, during the gallery walk. I was too busy meeting and greeting to take any photos. Once again, I can say I am proud of my work. I tried a different display concept designed for the venue. Come see the show. Computer Central is next door to the old Raven, later Dauphine's, just west of the Post Office. As always, I am open to suggestions, criticisms, barter and haggle. I'll be spending some time over there admiring my work and tooting my ego.

After my opening, I went to see how the young anarchists were doing with their protest against the new homeless and panhandling regulations. Some of my best friends are among this group.

David Lewis Johnson /Reggie Herbert

One goal was accomplished as passers by stopped to ask about the issue. There will be a follow up discussion at the Union Hall on St Patrick's Day. That seems so appropriate on more than one level.

Around the block and over to the Top Hat

where I found another photographer taking pictures of another friend. Back up to Main and over to the Union Club to see Russ Nasset

There is no better guitar picker in Zootown. I say that not because Russ is a friend. I say it, because I love people who work at their art, and this cat is an artist. In addition, he's talented as hell and a true gentleman.

Feet were tapping, and folks were dancing. First Friday was one of those really good nights at the Union Club, and the very next night, Zeppo was there, but that is another story for another time. 

It's 11o'clock, and I must get to Ceretana's to see Wolf Redboy and his new line up. Wolf is one of the truly original denizens of Zootown. Again, as with Russ, I didn't say what I did about him, because he is my friend. He is my friend, because he is one of the most original fuckers I've ever met. I dig the shit out of his stuff and have, since I first saw him with Amanda Cevallos on bass and Martin McCain on drums at PBR two years ago.

Speaking of Amanda Cevallos reminds me, here is another Amanda, who was at Ceretana's Friday night. I'm trying to remember if every Amanda I've known has been drop dead gorgeous. It seems like it.

What's the time? My evening is ready to start. First stop, a Northside party, and then it downtown to the Top Hat. Tom Catmull is opening for Backyard Tire Fire, and I told Tom and Travis I would be there, if the creek didn't rise, and it didn't. I'm on my way.