Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Dating Poems" (installment #6)

[Here's the latest LE Leone poem for your enjoyment. Since this was very late posting due to a power outage, this will be the top post thru Wednesday 6/30!]

ZACK


After he left I sat
by the fake fire pit
on the sidewalk outside
that surfer burger joint
and cried. I didn’t think
I could do this anymore,
this people-meeting, even
though I love meeting
people and want to meet
one to love. But the funny
thing that isn’t funny at
all is that I’m not supposed
to be here right now. I was
one of the lucky ones, who
actually met and fell in love
with and was loved in return
by the love of her life and
soul mate and so on and so
forth and so, yeah, I cried a
little into that fake fire pit.
This really has nothing to do
with Zack, who I liked very
much, but who didn’t like me,
which is fair enough
but I thought about how, as
a child, one of eleven, I
used to love being alone.

L.E. Leone
© 2010

Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control….


We’re running just a bit behind today! In fact, the power went out here yesterday evening about 8:00 p.m. & was off until about 11:30 this morning. As a result, the timing of blog posts has gone just a bit haywire. The usual Tuesday L.E. Leone poem will be up shortly, & will be both the post for this afternoon & for tomorrow, while I'll be motoring northward to the far reaches of Montana on a pilgrimage to hear Rory Block. Pretty sure there will be a post on Thursday (first Thursday of the month, so more poetry, this time with Robert Creeley), & then back with L.E. Leone in her Sister Exister guise for Friday’s Homegrown Radio!

As I get L.E.’s poem together for posting, thought you might enjoy a few pix of the happier parts of the power outage: Eberle’s wonderful breakfast cooked on a small Coleman stove: scramble composed of organic Yukon Gold potatoes, farm fresh eggs from my Farmer’s Market gig, green peppers, onions, mushroom’s, our good friend Heather’s homemade feta cheese, & bacon. This was really good!

Yours truly, by request, sang for his breakfast!

Back shortly with L.E. Leone’s latest Dating Poem!

breakfast songster














kitchen sink?















kitchen!

la pièce de résistance!

Monday, June 28, 2010

“Banty Rooster Blues”

Hi folks—yes, you’re in the right spot: this is Robert Frost’s Banjo.  I’d never tinkered with the blog’s overall look since starting it up in 2008—added a gadget here or there & re-arranged things, but had kept the same background & layout.  Hope you like the new look; I’d be interested in getting feedback.

This is Monday, of course, which means music, & because I have a plan for next Monday’s musical offering, I’m doing something a bit unusual in posting the Monday Morning Blues two week’s running. 

Today’s song, “Banty Rooster Blues,” is associated with, & probably composed by the now-famous Delta blues musician, Charley (or Charlie) Patton.  I’m a huge fan of Patton’s work, & I perform several of his songs.  Patton lived in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area, around the large Dockery Plantation.  He was born sometime between 1887 & 1891, & died in 1931, & is generally considered to be a seminal figure in the development of the blues form, especially in the style that music critic Robert Palmer called “the Deep Blues.”  Palmer uses this term to describe the blues as performed in the Delta region by Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson & others, which later transformed into the electric Chicago blues typified by Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Otis Rush, etc.  Although some have questioned Palmer’s assessment of Patton’s historical importance, no one questions that he was an extraordinary musician, with a powerful voice, a vigorous guitar style, & an ability to incorporate complex polyrhythmic textures in his songs.

In other news: I’ll be heading to northern Montana on Wednesday morning to see Rory Block  play!  Looks like Eberle will be coming with me, & we’re both looking forward to it.  I do plan on having scheduled posts for both those days.

& now—hope you enjoy my humble version of this great song!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Photo of the Week 6/27/10

Hay Bales at the ZU Ranch, Midvale, Idaho
Friday, June 24th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's the next poem in the A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets series.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

“That Summer Feeling”


Happy Saturday! It’s a busy weekend here at Robert Frost’s Banjo central—Eberle & I have the pleasure of a visit from SoCal friends Sally & Annalou, & yours truly is playing music today at the Council Farmer’s Market. As I result, I decided to opt out of Sepia Saturday this week—I don’t this I’ll have the time to do it justice.

I did think I’d share a beautiful song with you folks, however: “That Summer Feeling” by Jonathan Richman. For those of you who don’t know, Jonathan Richman erupted on the music scene in the 1970s with his Boston-based band, The Modern Lovers. I can still remember early college days being mesmerized by his great song “Roadrunner” as it was broadcast on the University of Vermont’s college radio station. At that time, Richman was a straight ahead 3-chord rocker, but he had some of the most infectious energy that any popular musician of our time has evinced. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Johathan Richman perform live—last time was in the late 90s—but he still had that infectious, joyful quality then, & I’m sure he still does now. If you’re not familiar with Richman’s work, you should most certainly check it out.

In the meantime, please enjoy this sweetly poignant ode to summer!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Homegrown Radio 6/25/10


June is drawing toward its end, & that means this will be the last Homegrown Radio segment featuring Earl Butter—thanks so much, Earl, for the fine material & thanks for all the support, dear readers; & a big thanks to the Bay Area folks who made last week’s Homegrown Radio segment one of the most popular posts here in some time; & thanks to Ray & Scotty who helped facilitate that!

Even tho our time with Earl Butter is drawing to a close, don’t be too sad—next month you’ll get to enjoy Homegrown Radio with Sister Exister, who readers also know as poet L.E. Leone!

So let’s see what Earl has to say about today’s songs:

Step Aerobics is the song that started this whole thing. I was working with this guy Sonny Smith and we were cleaning out some the gutters on this pretty high house. There was a big ladder. Sonny writes songs. A lot of songs, all the time, it's songs with this guy. Songs and his obsession with Paul Simon. So I thought maybe I'd write him one and came up with Step Aerobics for him. A gift! An Earl Butter song! A gem! He didn't seem very impressed and never did anything with it. Never even, really, accepted it as a gift. So, I figured, wow, finally I've written a song again after all these years. And such a great one. Perhaps the greatest song ever written! I should at least record it. I think this one has brushes on a cardboard box and me and the mac and the pinmike.

After I recorded it and heard the greatness, I was able to keep going. The rest is history, or something a lot like it.

Timecrimes? Well, I was watching a movie called Timecrimes and I noticed I kept singing this song, over and over to myself and cracking up, so I paused the movie and went over to the macbook and recorded it. It is all a capella. It is, simply, the greatest song ever written (unless Step Aerobics is). Although, like Van Gogh, it will probably not be properly recognized until after my death.


Enjoy!

Timecrimes



Step Aerobics


Thursday, June 24, 2010

“Gertrude Stein”


Hi, folks! Having spent the morning booting & re-booting the computer in various attemots to solve performance issues (nothing too major, but all annoying at least), I am finally here with our Final Thursday featured poem.

We’re bringing our two-month look at Mina Loy to a close today with a short poem that Loy wrote in the early 1920s as a tribute to Gertrude Stein. Mina Loy was an active member of Stein’s salon, & was close friends with many of the artists & writers who congregated chez Stein. Gertrude Stein paid Loy a high compliment in her Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, when she wrote, "Mina Loy . . . was able to understand without the commas. She has always been able to understand." There was a great deal of mutual respect between Stein & Loy—interesting, because they are unquestionably two of the most important yet misunderstood writers from the “Modernist” period.

If you’re not familiar with the work of Loy & Stein, please do yourself a favor & check them out. Loy’s poems are fortunately in print, as The Lost Lunar Baedecker, while Stein’s works are readily available. A good introduction to Stein (I think) would be either Three Lives or The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas.

Featured poet for July & August? Robert Creeley. But for now, enjoy these lines about Gertrude Stein—& consider in what ways they are about Loy as well!

Gertrude Stein

Curie
of the laboratory
of vocabulary
        she crushed
the tonnage
of consciousness
congealed to phrases
        to extract
a radium of the word

Mina Loy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #14

The Council Leader
Published Every Thursday by the Council Publishing Company
Fred Mullin, Editor

April 11, 1912
WE DO NOT PUBLISH POETRY
This is the time of year when the little microbe known as poetry gallops through the veins of a large number of people and many express their poetic feelings on paper and send them to the country newspaper for publication. Some poems sent to said newspaper are good, some bad, some indifferent. The man who writes the bad verse thinks his production is just as good as the other fellow’s, and if only the good one is published, then the other fellow is mad, and so it goes.

In the last week or so, this office has received several original poems. Some of them are good. We thank the donors very kindly for remembering us, but—WE DO NOT PUBLISH POETRY.

November 9, 1911
The famous Musical Shirleys will appear in Council Saturday evening. These people have gained a worldwide reputation for their renditions of the highest class of music on ten different instruments.

December 7,1911
Mrs. C. W. Wight will give a lecture at the Congregational church December 14. Her subject will be “What is Woman.” This lecture will be both humorous and instructive and everybody is cordially invited to attend.

December 7, 1911
HIGH CLASS ENTERTAINMENTS GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY
Last summer, a number of the businessmen of Council decided that there should be given here a number of popular entertainments throughout the fall and winter months. They realized that there is little of amusement offered in our midst, and believed that the people of the vicinity would lend their support by attending the various numbers when offered. These men, to give the public something really worth attending, contracted with a Lyceum Bureau for a four number course of entertainments and personally agreed to stand good for the cost of the same.

With the exception of the lecture course, there has been nothing doing in Council; there has been nothing more of amusement and entertainment offered here than is offered in the most remote vicinities of the county. The enterprising and wide awake business men of the valley believe that there should be offered to the public entertainments of real worth, such as will make the winter pass pleasantly and with benefit to all. Those in charge of the lecture course feel gratified because of the support thus far given. But there is going to be a deficiency which these men must pay unless a number of the good people of the community, who have not yet shown their appreciation of the attempt to bring Council a little to the front, come out and attend the next two entertainments.

High-class entertainments are good for the community and are good for each person individually, and we cannot believe that the people of Council valley are going to see a thing they really should support fall behind.

March 14, 1912
The four reels, set pictures, together with Miss Brown’s musical renditions, make an evening’s entertainment that is well worth your time and money.

April 4, 1912
BASE BALL CLUB
The balmy air of the past few days has brought local fans to a realization that another ball season is on. The boys started out with a subscription paper and raised a snug sum of money, and feeling much encouraged, proceeded to organize. Negotiations are underway for the organization of a league, composed of the clubs at Midvale, Cambridge, Council and Meadows. With proper coaching and teamwork, we may expect some games worth seeing this summer.

August 22, 1912
BAND CONCERT
The band will appear in the public square again Saturday night and give a concert far better than ever. Professor Stoner is due great credit for making this band as good as any in this part of the country.

September 12, 1913
THE REAL THING AT ONTARIO
Ontario is the gateway to the largest open range left in the west. Ontario is headquarters for the most horse men and cattle men of this last wide open range; and central Oregon is noted for its scores of daring riders, wild horse tamers and efficient ropers, who are all coming to the Malheur county fair. The Wild West sports at Ontario will be genuine; that is, the real thing without imitation. They will be fascinating, dangerous, and sensational.

October 16, 1914
The pictures for tomorrow will be of the same high standard as usual and will be deserving of the patronage of all the people. We are sure you cannot find a better place to go tomorrow night than to the picture show and the price is always reasonable. The music alone will be worth the price of admission.

January 29, 1915
AMUSEMENTS
There is no lack of amusement in Council this winter. First the youngsters had excellent skating, now the coasting is good; parties and dances have been held at a number of places in the vicinity and we have been fortunate in having high grade picture shows each Tuesday and Saturday evening to fill in the remainder of the time. Tomorrow night the high school pupils will present their play, “Oak Farm.”

Rev. Night is still holding revival meetings with a good crowd every evening, regardless of the severe cold weather.

Quite a number of the young people from here went to Hog Creek to the dance Friday night.

August 27, 1915
E. F. Schultze, the violinist, returned Saturday evening from Pendleton where he has been working for some time. Our fine orchestra is now complete again, with new music on hand, and the dances for the coming season will be better than ever.

Perils of Pauline
We haven’t space for the story this week, but will say that it is exceptionally good. The scene is western and Pauline is captured by a band of Indians, to say nothing of other thrilling experiences. You will want to see it at the movies tomorrow.
February 26, 1915

TOO MANY SHOWS
Council had too many shows Tuesday night—Joseph in the Land of Egypt at the opera house and Grace V. Bonner at Odd Fellows Hall. Both were of the highest order and neither sufficiently patronized. Remember the regular pictures and the big dance tomorrow (Saturday) night.

September 15, 1919
This vicinity was well represented at Weiser on circus day last week.

July 2, 1919
FEATURE AT COUNCIL CHAUTAUQUA

Miss Willey comes from California where the art of whistling has reached its highest development. She imitates birds of all sorts, whistles classically, and ragtimely. Not only is Miss Willey a rarely good whistler, but she is an all-around musician and entertainer.

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"The Jews Reading Rilke"

[Here's another fine poem by B.N. for your enjoyment!]


The Jews Reading Rilke

All night the Jews are awake
At their oak tables, Rabbinical insomniacs
Mistaking the intonation of restless birds
For the sure knowledge of something beyond
This world, the ghastly redness
Of the spilled wine that never suggests blood.
They read Rilke to the slow monotonous
Pull of the underworld, and have become
Orpheus each turning to address you as the errant
Uncle who conned the family out of the fortune.


In Prague at this time of year nettles have sprung up between
The cracks in the pavement; if you were to just
Brush against them lightly they'd burn your hands.
A few still may remember how a soup or tea
Of these boiled in shallow black pots.
But I imagine you far from the city, at the window
In the tower you could see swans pulling their
Lengthening reflections across the water. Sweet afternoons
Poured into Dresden cups. In those days
Europes' aristocracy had to satisfy your longing,
You inventing your own ancestry. It no longer matters.
How could you know that your lyrics were celebrating
The last innocent hours of your language.

From my window the world is repeating itself
In the arch of tree branches. Your city comes to me
Tonight as a memory of bridges, archways, and ornate
Bavarian clock I saw once as a child. Perhaps a replica
In a gift shop window. Figures marching to the
Precise mechanism of an empire flung down
Like a stone into the dirt. What we in the Americas
Call history, names of towns and cities we have
Traveled to (for whatever reason) dropped as if
To say, yes we know we've been there and stood and
Looked out from that very bridge also.

Down by the river, the construction keeps the time
As longshoremen men adjust their belts and hoist up
Sacks of grain, readying for a strike. On the news
Prague is a celebration in streets, one long drink
Taken up and spit back out defiantly. Tonight
I read you in disguise—a translation.
You bow a kind and haloed head, your advice
Moves like an emissary taking a princess's
White hand to your lips.
I am writing because lucidity fades like language
Or lyric, and I know that it is an unlikely
Connection to make, but when my grandmother calls
She speaks to me half in English and half in Yiddish.

There in the subtle stages of her senility, I
Believe that I might be able to make out the thinnest
Hint of your German. It is in this confusion of
Words spoken in a dying language, sounding so poetic
So damned poetic that it keeps me up.
For me an understanding of that language always
Depends on something purer than fluency—
Call it hope, or expectation, or even the simple
Knowledge that it was the language used to
Render me the beautiful girl I was not.

Once she stood in a line, in your city for D.P.'s
I do not know how she came to be there
Or how long she stayed—a night or two I imagine.
There was still a shop left then with an
Unbroken window with Hebrew letters spelling
Out the word, books in Yiddish and a long list
Of names of people and towns had been posted.

Tonight all the people you knew
Are dead just as all the people she knew are dead
But someone close to you must have lived
Long enough to have seen what I am talking about.
Those pages inscribed with the names
Of the righteous. Maybe some of the names you
Might recognize, people you knew in passing,
Someone who sold you a woolen suit, someone
Who served you a meal, someone who touched your hand.

B.N.
© to the author 1983-2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hellhound On My Trail


It’s the Monday Morning Blues again, folks! The selection this time around is my version (humble as it is) of what is certainly one of the greatest blues songs, Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail.” By the way: see below for an explanation of this pic, which may seem incongruous!

There are several stories that can be told about “Hellhound On My Trail”—some Johnson fans look at it as evidence of Johnson’s pact with the devil; the hellhound in that sense is the devil coming to collect his end of the bargain for giving Johnson his “supernatural” guitar-playing ability. Of course, there’s no real proof that Johnson himself believed in this legend; Son House made reference to it in the 1960s, but given House’s health problems, including his proclivity for strong drink, he was not necessarily the most reliable witness. Still, there’s no denying that Johnson’s songs are dark, & this—perhaps his strongest set of lyrics—seems particularly chilling, especially when rendered in Johnson’s eerie falsetto.

Moving away from the stuff of legend & the supernatural, it’s also interesting to see how this song places Johnson within the larger blues tradition. For lack of a better term, blues is a “folk” tradition, & as such, doesn’t value originality in the same way that this is valued in our current culture. Putting one’s stamp on material is valued in such a tradition, but there isn’t the same imperative to make something completely new. In fact,
from a musical standpoint, “Hellhound On My Trail” is recognizably a re-working of Skip James’ great song “Devil Got My Woman.” As sung by Johnson, the melody is very close, & the basic musical background has many similarities. Would Johnson have been able to record “Hellhound On My Trail” under copyright laws as they’re currently enforced? I’m no lawyer, but I think it's an open question. For those who wonder what has happened to evolving folk music, this is worth considering—especially when we consider how many prominent traditional musicians played repertoires that contained many “re-worked” songs—not just Johnson, but a number of other old-time musicians, including such notables as the Carter Family & Woody Gurthie.

Before moving on to the song, I should explain the third verse: “She sprinkled hot foot powder all around my door; it keeps me with ramblin’ mind, rider, any old place I go.” Here’s the lowdown from Harry’s Blues Lyrics Online:

Hot Foot Powder and Hot Foot Oil are old Southern hoodoo formulas that are used to rid oneself or one's home of unwanted people, to send enemies packing and to keep peace in the home by eliminating troublemakers. Similar formulas, known as Drive Away Oil or Get Away Oil contain virtually the same ingredients, namely a proprietary blend of Guinea Red Pepper, sulfur, and essential oils that include Black Pepper and other herbal extracts. The scent is hot and spicy, but it is not at all unpleasant.


Hope you enjoy the song!



Top pic: Eberle & I playing “Hellhound On My Trail” at the opening of the Wild Hare Salon in Cambridge, Idaho earlier this month. We were joined by Valerie on slide whistle. I believe this could be the only time the song was ever played by a young girl on a slide whistle. Valerie was good—she & Eberle rocked out!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Photo of the Week 6/20/10


Harrison Yellow Roses, a sure sign of June in Idaho
Saturday, June 19th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's the next poem in the A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets series.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday 6/19/10


It’s Sepia Saturday again, folks—tho it almost wasn’t! Eberle & I have purchased a new all-in-one machine—quite a fancy contraption—& as a result it took some time to get the scanning function figured out; then Adobe Photoshop seemed to get some strange ideas of its own yesterday evening….but no matter, here we are, & better late than never!

The photos this week are of my maternal grandfather, Joseph Atkinson. I don’t know too much of Joseph, & the facts as I know them are:

1. He was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1868
2. At some point he lived in the Washington, D.C. area
3. He was considerably older than his wife Inez, who was born in 1881
4. He was a salesman (not a ship’s captain, as reported earlier—turns out his father was the ship’s captain)
5. He played the banjo
6. He thought oatmeal was one of life’s necessities
7. He died in 1946

Now, you will notice that two of these facts stand out from the rest, & I know about these from anecdotes, both of which give some clues about his personality. I think I told the banjo story in an earlier post, bu
t in case you missed it: my uncle Joe as a young boy knocked a music stand over into the banjo & ripped the head. My grandfather never had the banjo fixed. Now, I find this curious, since replacing a banjo head is not a major operation. He lived in the greater Boston area, which means he should have had access to a repair shop, & he was middle class, which means he should have been able to afford it. Why didn’t he get it fixed?

The second story is less enigmatic, & is somewhat dark. It also complicates the fact that to this day, my mother has nothing but the highest praise for her father (tho she is the one who told me this story, which also complicates things). My grandfather insisted that his children eat oatmeal as a sort of “rite of passage.” For a long time as a child my mother refused, saying she was too young & he was apparently forbearing; but he asked her at what age she would be old enough. I believe she told him “eight.” On her eighth birthday, my grandfather presented her with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. She refused to eat it. The bowl was taken away, but was presented to her again at lunch, & when she refused still, taken away & presented again at supper. She finally ate the stone cold oatmeal the next morning for breakfast, having had no food for a day. Needless to say, rather than having the intended effect of making my mother a lifelong devotee of oatmeal, this incident insured that she never eat it again once she was no longer
under constraint to do so.

So it would appear that Joseph had a harsh, authoritarian side. I find this interesting in light of my mother’s devotion to him, because when she tells the oatmeal story, you can still hear the pain it caused; & there are a couple of other stories I’m not sharing that further illustrate this side of my grandfather. But it reminds me that the devotion of a child often is given in spite of a parent’s behavior. Parents play such a truly mythic role in our lives—they are as large as life itself when we’re children, & even after we’ve broken away from our parents, they still command a very large symbolic presence. Sometimes, the only way we can deal with this presence is to make it overwhelmingly positive in our minds & souls, despite evidence to the contrary—it’s difficult to see parents as quirky individuals with strengths & weaknesses—difficult to see, sometimes, that the latter may far outweigh the former.

I know this is a bit of a “down” Sepia Saturday note, but since so much of Sepia Saturday is about families, I think it’s important to acknowledge that not all family relationships are positive ones—some of these relationships can have an extraordinary negative impact that carries forward thru adult life. As an adult now well into middle age, I see this not only in my own life, but in the lives of many of my friends.

Thanks for stopping by, & please check out other Sepia Saturday participants here.

Pix:
Atkinson family: young Elizabeth, Joseph, ?, Vera, Inez
Joe Sr. & Joe Jr.
Young Elizabeth with Joseph

Friday, June 18, 2010

Homegrown Radio 6/18/10

Time for some more Homegrown Radio with Earl Butter—so let’s get right to it & see what Earl has to say about this week’s songs!

It is weird to think that I was singing the underwear song to my cat, but I was. I think the logic to it is airtight. It makes more sense than any song I've ever written. It's recorded throught the pinmike, very quickly before I ran off to work one morning. It made me realize the beautiful beautifullness of my voice, and how great it would be if there were more of me. I am super proud of that song. Even with all the motorcycles going by my window.

I threw Meadows in there, too. It is also the greatest song ever written and was the soundtrack to that little movie I made. Feel free to show that, too.


& we are showing Earl’s movie, complete with the greatest song ever written as a soundtrack. Enjoy!

Underwear


Meadows

video

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Coverage


Please check out our good friend Audrey Bilger's coverage of the California Proposition 8 gay marriage ban trial on the Ms Blog. Why is this important reading for everyone? Human rights issues aside, it turns out that, according to pro Prop 8 (i.e., anti-gay marriage) lead Attorney Charles Cooper, the real reason why California needs Proposition 8 isn't for gay couples, but for straight couples. Curious how this topsy-turvy logic works? Check out Ms.

Thanks for the fine coverage, Audrey. You're a blogging star!

Union Pacific #3 & #4

OK, so this is the week of me pre-empting things! I know I’d promised to post another Musical Snafu story, & don’t worry: I will do that soon. But in the meantime, these two newest poems in the slowly continuing Union Pacific series were “burning a hole in my pocket,” so to speak, so here goes.

Hope you enjoy them.

Union Pacific #3

All moments past are skating along the blacktop the
white timothy grass in the headlights the exhausted
patches of March snow granular along the shoulder the
stark abrupt eruption of a great horned owl from the
pasture grass a looming ghost in the headlights
                in other time zones friends already in
the midst of it
                I’m trying to reach them thru the wisps of
fog along the Weiser River the red iron canyons the
luminous guardrail the great horned owls eruption all
moments past skating along the
                                                      blacktop high tension wires
massed over the trailer houses & bare
locust trees
        in other time zones in other times
distance the wheels can’t cover skating a-
long the blacktop all these ghosts e-
        rupting out past the headlights


Union Pacific #4

Snake River sunrise thru cross-hatched
            locust branches
                                          a glint off
the steel bridge a glint of power lines the
Union Pacific headlight 15 miles back the
junkyard’s weathered wooden fence
              salvage
a 1950’s Chevy marooned along the
              Payette River bird sanctuary south-
east of cliffs exploding at twilight into swallows
              except it’s dawn now can’t you see it
salmon-flesh sunrise above the
              Snake River I’m crossing & crossing
again the salmon-flesh mosaic waters
              rippling under power lines I am
driving east out of foggy night the
moon traveling east after moonset under-
neath the world the
Union Pacific headlight I
              want to go home on the morning train


Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“Korea”


Happy Wednesday, all. I’ve been looking for the perfect time to feature today’s video—a story from folksinger / raconteur / anarchist Utah Phillips with musical backing by Ani DiFranco—for some time. At a certain point, I realized there might not be a perfect time—so I’m taking this opportunity to share it with you.

I can’t add much to what Utah Phillips has to say; this is an extremely powerful & moving testimony. There are many memorable moments, but the final line always sticks with me: “It was all wrong & it all had to change, & that change had to start with me.”

Hope you find this moving & inspiring, too. Oh, yes
: Adams County Makes the News will be returning on June 23rd, & will continue every other Wednesday from then on until the series is completed.




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Dating Poems" (installment #5)

[Another of L.E. Leone's Dating Poems! Enjoy!]

ANDREW

He’s midwesterner than me,
says gosh, and golly. Once:
“Gol…”

Mennonite,
he loves Christmas tree lights
and Christmas, always orders the same
thing, and never tried pot

Oh but he could go and go! And go . . . (I take time,
and he had it.) If I was lucky one of his drops
of sweat would land on my lip

I like raw red meat, sushi, chicken hearts,
and any kind of liver. In lieu of tampons, or even makeup,
a bottle of hot sauce in my purse. Plus:
I suck the insides out of crawfish heads, with passion and
joy, unbridled. Dirty girl
on a low road, I tried real hard, too hard
not to fall in love.

Goddamn it, Andrew.
I miss your square ass.

L.E. Leone
© 2010



Monday, June 14, 2010

Lullaby


It’s another musical Monday, & time for our Alice in Wonder Band song of the month. This time around it’s a song called “Lullaby,” & it has an interesting back story.

Our good friend & sometime collaborator JudyAnderson gave Eberle a wonderful Christmas gift in 2002—a book called The Flower Festival, which is an English translation of a 1914 book by Swedish author & illustrator Elsa Beskow (the original is called Blomsterfesten).

It was Christmas evening, & we were both propped up in bed in the old (& cold!) farmhouse where we lived at the time. Eberle was looking thru the book, & I was playing the ukulele. Yes, that’s right—I used to play ukulele in bed quite often; it’s pretty much the ideal instrument for this, not only due to its size, but also its mellow “vibe.” In any case, Eberle read me the poem that concludes the book, & one or both of us decided it would make a good song. So I started to plunk & strum away, & came up with a chord progression. Meanwhile, Eberle got another uke & started to compose a melody to go with said chords
—even now, when I don'tplay the uke much, I still say you can't have too many ukes! This actually wasn’t the first song we wrote in bed using two ukes—that was “The Owl & The Pussycat Samba,” which interested parties can hear in an earlier Robert Frost’s Banjo post here.

The song worked out nicelyfor the band, I think. I stated on uke (a concert-size Fluke I believe), while Eberle moved to marimba. Our oboist Art Troutner moved to tenor recorder, & our violinist Lois Fry switched to viola; singer Deadre Chase did a wonderful job with a lovely but difficult melody.

The song was recorded at the Alpine Playhouse in McCall, Idaho, I think during a show in February of 2003. Hope you enjoy it!



Pic is an image by Beskow from
Blomsterfesten

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo of the Week 6/13/10


Female Cowbird (?) enters the picture - view from Midvale Hill, Idaho
Thursday afternoon, June 10th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's the next poem in the A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets series.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

California or Bust!…Busted….

As some of you know, my recent California road trip came to an abrupt halt in Winnemucca, Nevada—turns out good pal L.E. Leone has contracted some sort of respiratory infection that sounds quite a bit like the flu. Anyway, discretion proved the better part of valor, & sad to say (for L.E.’s sake) it was a wise decision, as apparently her condition has not improved.

But speaking of blogmates, I have Audrey Bilger to thank for stressing to me that I should take road trip photos—this, combined with some good music on the cd player, made what would have been just a long, disappointing ride into some fun. Thought I’d share a few of the pix with you this evening—& what I think is the best of the lot will be appearing here tomorrow as the Photo of the Week.

Meantime, yours truly is quite tired out, & so hasn’t been paying any blog visits for the past couple of days. I expect that to change tomorrow!

Top pic: US 95 South in the Oregon Desert

Abandoned shack in the Owyhee Desert, near the Idaho-Oregon border

Old homestead with obligatory locust tree, east of Jordan Valley, Oregon

The High Mountain Desert in Southeastern Oregon


Diner/Service Station in Burns Junction - no longer a going concern

Casino with a matter-of-fact name; McDermitt, Nevada, just over the Oregon border

The Orovada Store, Oravada, Nevada - out of business

Snow falling near Paradise Summit, Nevada - a few miles south there were patches of snow on the road shoulder

Sand dunes north of Winnemucca, Nevada

Winnemucca, Nevada - the end of the trail this time around!





Friday, June 11, 2010

Homegrown Radio 6/11/10


Friday is upon us, which means it’s time for another edition of Homegrown Radio—this month featuring Earl Butter! Let’s not shilly shally; here’s what Earl has to say about today’s two songs:

Library Lady and Eve, I believe are actually the same song, but written one step down from each other keywise. Eve, I think is the odd man out of this batch, in that I believe it is from a lyric idea I had laying around for awhile, and then one day picked up the guitar and decided I was going to "put it down" before I lost the little scrap of paper it was written on. It also keys in on my wonderful voice and the magic that I can do with it by stretching out a note and wiggling it around. It really is a great gift and I really am wonderful.

Library Lady really IS unwritten and spontaneous, and really was sung to (kind of at) my cat. I get very anxious before every class I teach, and well, this day I remembered that we were having a guest come in and boom, as I am Earl Butter, I made it into art. It really is just a chorus, or an intro or something. But notice how wonderful the harmony is. Wow. Way to go Earl Butter!

Both of these have added verses and stuff to them, and will someday be recorded in full. But I think they stand alone the way they are and the way they began, as beautiful spontaneous and incredible and amazing little bursts of songcraftingism.

Hope you enjoy them!

Eve



Library Lady


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Musical Snafus #1


Some friends have been telling me: “You need to tell more stories on the blog!” Ah yes, but one is always casting about for material, & when you’re producing daily posts as we do here at Robert Frost’s Banjo, it’s easy to fall into various patterns—not to say ruts!

Of course the best stories often involve some sort of snafu; that’s been a theme in my Country Living posts. But recently it occurred to me that the life Eberle & I have spent over the past dozen years as amateur & semi-professional musicians has certainly had its share of snafus that were maddening & occasionally scary at the time but funny in retrospect. So I started compiling lists of all the various screw-ups & mishaps I could recall.

It was striking in compiling the list how often the actual printed music & music stands cropped
up as a source of consternation; & when I think about these, I’m even happier than ever that in my current performing incarnation, there’s no printed music to worry about. Don’t get me wrong—I’m very happy to be able to read music. But as an item to worry about in performance—no thanks.

The Alice in Wonder Band, the band Eberle & I were in from 2001-2004 was, however, a “reading band.” We didn’t necessarily have all our arrangements written out note-for-note (tho we did have some of these); we also played from what are called “lead sheets,” which have the bare melody & chord names, which a musician uses to “fake” his/her lead or accompaniment parts—in other words, re-interpreting the information.

Nonetheless, we were tethered pretty firmly to our music stands—which brings me to the Alice in Wonder Band’s first stage show ever, outdoors at the McCall Folk Festival held in Roseberry in July of 2002. Roseberry is in Long Valley, a stretch of mostly level farm & pastureland around a mile in elevation in neighboring Valley County. In fact, that may have been the first year the Festival was held in Roseberry after years in McCall itself.

The Alice in Wonder Band was going to be the lead off act of several that evening. As we loaded in our instruments, the sky began to look more & more menacing—angry gray clouds piled atop one another & a wind began whistling thru the area. There were the usual sound check headaches—particularly, as I recall, involving my bass (I was playing electric guitar, electric bass & banjo at that time)—but eventually things were squared away.

I don’t remember the song order, but I believe our first song may have been the old hot jazz tune, “Jazz-Me Blues.” At any rate, there we were, lined up to play this up-tempo number—for
which Eberle had written a wonderful—but very exacting—arrangement. It's also significant to know that the arrangement was several pages long, & so it wasn't practical to hold the pages down with clothespins or other clips. Meanwhile, the wind was whipping & howling; I believe there were scattered raindrops. Our precious music notebooks were perched precariously on the music stands!

The song kicked off & the wind picked up. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but at
one point I noticed that the pages of our oboe player’s book were turning rapidly & randomly in the wind—I remember asking myself what I would do if that happened—which of course it did—& soon, pages, books & finally music stands themselves were all doing a most uncooperative & madcap dance—pages flapping, books closing, stands tipping over. The amazing thing is we didn’t have an actual “train wreck”—in other words, the song never screeched to a crashing halt. Thru some rather miraculous chance, it turned out that not more than one or at most two books were going haywire at a time—which left four people to take up the slack.

We made it thru the set. “Jazz Me-Blues” was the worst of it. As fate would have it, the squall passed as soon as we were done & the next band was taking the stage; the rest of the evening was calm & lovely.

Next Thursday: “Weebles Wobble & They Do Fall Down.”

Top Pic: The Alice in Wonder Band at Roseberry 2002 - not during "The Jazz-Me-Blues!"
2nd Pic: Turning the Page
Bottom Pic: "The Jazz-Me-Blues" line-up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On The Road Again


Yes, indeed, folks—yours truly will be hitting the road again tomorrow morning, tho not on any cross-country odyssey such as in March. Instead I’ll be headed west thru the deserts & mountains of Oregon & Nevada & on to the Golden State for a whirlwind visit to Baghdad by the Bay, or The City, as San Franciscans modestly call it.

I’ll only be in town Thursday evening & Friday, & then Robert Frost’s Banjo’s own Chicken Farmer Poet, L.E. Leone, will head back with me to Idaho, where she’ll visit with Eberle & me over the weekend & early next week. We’re all jazzed about this!

Posts are scheduled for tomorrow & Friday—tomorrow’s post will involve a bit of story-telling in the musical vein, while Friday will be the second installment of Homegrown Radio with Earl Butter (who I hope to see in person on Thursday or Friday). I don’t have anything scheduled for Saturday—I know I won’t be joining Sepia Saturday this week, as my schedule precludes it. I might or might not post something on the fly Friday night or Saturday morning. Stay tuned! However, I won’t be able to respond to comments as much as usual for the next few days.

That’s all folks!

Pic shows an installation at the Thunder Mountain Battle Monument near Imlay, Nevada

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #13

The Council Leader
Published Every Thursday by the Council Publishing Company
Fred Mullin, Editor


October 10, 1912
ADAMS COUNTY AND COUNCIL

On March 15, 1911, Washington County was divided and the new county of Adams was created. A number thought we should have a new county because we had the wealth and the territory to warrant it, and by making a county would get the credit for whatever of progress and prosperity that came our way, and which would be an advertisement that would bring new settlers into our county. The latter view has proven correct, for the population has almost, if not quite, doubled in the new county, new industries have sprung up on every hand, and an era of substantial development is upon us, with good prospects of becoming one of the richest and best counties in Idaho. Its versatile resources of mining, lumbering, horticulture, farming and stock-raising give Adams an advantage over many of the other counties in the state.

Within a radius of fifteen miles of Council, three-fourths of the population of the county reside; within a radius of ten miles of Council, more than half the votes of the county will be cast; within a radius of 12 and a half miles of Council there are 3,000 acres of orchards worth at least $500 per acre, to say nothing of the new orchards that will be set out within the next three to five years. It will take an army of people to care for the trees and handle the crops, which will always keep Council in the center of an ever-increasing population.

The town of Council is the present county seat and is a live, growing place. It has good streets, cement sidewalks, proper drainage, good churches and schools, and ample hotel accommodations. All lines of trade are represented and large stocks of goods are carried in the four big general merchandise stores, which have carried many people over misfortunes and hard times when money was scarce. Then we have a number of up-to-date exclusive stores, such as hardware, furniture, feed and grain, confections, notions, fuel, lumber yards, box factory, repair shops, livery and feed stable, and as good physicians as there are in the state.

Exceptionally good wagon roads, for this western country, lead from Council to every section of the county that is populated, by the most direct accessible route. From the Meadows valley, Council can be easily reached by rail. The train coming down in the morning and back at night gives those people an opportunity to transact business in the county seat and get back home the same day. The above are a few reasons why Council should remain the county seat of Adams County.

LOCAL ITEMS, 1912

Sure death to smut. Just received a fresh supply of blue vitriol and formaldehyde at Cool’s.

I have the only public bathtub in town. Your patronage respectfully solicited. Frank Weaver.

Fresh oyster stews at Billie Browns.

See my new line of children’s hats before buying elsewhere. Iola DeGaris.

Remember I am the only Licensed Weigher in Adams County and my scales are absolutely correct. Fred Cool.

Married— January 20th, at the Congregational parsonage in Council, Will Wilkerson of Salubria and Miss Mary Ricksecker of Indian Valley. Both parties are well and favorably known in the valley, the groom having been born and raised in our sister valley and the bride being prominent in the social life of the valley the past two years. While the happy event was a surprise to all their friends in this part of the country, all join in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life.

A.J. Anderson, W.E. Henke, A.J. Francis, J.I. Linder, A.E. Bailey, Thos. Hutchison and Frank Murphy attended the meeting of the anti-Council League at New Meadows, January 16th.

On Monday, January 22nd, the home of John Hutchison was burned to the ground. Only a small part of the contents was saved. This is a heavy loss to Mr. Hutchison, as he has a large family, and had their winter provisions stored in the house, none of which was saved. The origin of the fire is not known, but is supposed to be a defective flue. There was no insurance so far as we have heard.

At the state fair at Boise last week, Adams County won 73 premiums, mostly on fruit. So far we have been unable to get a list of the winners, but we hope to have it for publication next week. Indian Valley won second sweepstakes on dry farm products.

Our people were surprised Tuesday night to learn that Fred Cool, the popular feed store man, had developed a sudden and severe case of appendicitis. Mr. Cool was taken to the Weiser hospital on the morning train Wednesday accompanied by Mrs. Cool and Dr. Martin. Word received from Weiser Wednesday evening stated that an operation had been successfully performed and we all hope for his speedy recovery and return.

“Dr. Stork” visited our valley again last week and left a 10 pound girl at the home of Clyde Steward. He was accompanied by Dr. Schmidt of Cambridge.

Remember the Carnival at the Eagle opera house tomorrow. A good chance to buy Christmas presents and at the same time visit with friends.


Nels Hanson was in Saturday and requested us to say that he did not file complaint against Walter Schroff and his wife as stated in the Leader two weeks ago.

August 22, 1912
ONE ON THE DOCTOR

A good joke on Dr. Gillespie leaked out this morning. He was hunting grouse east of town yesterday and flushed a bird which flew into town. The doctor thought it alighted on the hill north of Dr. Brown’s residence and took a long tramp after it. When he came to the home of his brother-in-law, he asked Mrs. Ransopher if she had seen the grouse. She had. The bird had flown into her woodshed where she caught it and had it in a box. We will not try to express Dr. Gillespie’s feelings, but the Ransophers had chicken for supper.

November 13, 1912
A CIRCULAR LETTER

To the Citizens of Council and vicinity:
A political campaign, honestly financed and conducted, may be productive of good. It is inspiring. It is educative. It tends to provoke thought. The late campaign was a complex one. Local issues made it a vitally interesting one to us as citizens of Council and vicinity. But the campaign of 1912 is over. Election day is past. Wilson is to be our next president, Haynes the new governor of our state, and Council the permanent county seat of Adams County. The last named result of the election is very satisfactory to us all. Other results may not be as satisfactory to more or less of us, but they’re beyond our power to change for the present. To be grumbling and grouty will only make matters worse. Let us settle down and make the best of it for nation, state, and county.

The Great Architect who built the earth has piled up many grand hills and mountains and dug out many beautiful valleys. We are living in one of those beautiful valleys. Let us see to it that our city is a sane and safe place. When fathers and husbands and brothers come to Council on business, may those at home not fear their return crazed with drink or penniless through gambling, or tainted by vice of any kind. Let us keep our city free from standing temptations to vice and sin—a place where it is comparatively easy for men and women to be good.

Our churches are meant to be standing invitations to good living and good citizenship. Now that political excitement has subsided and the season of greater leisure is approaching, we, the undersigned, pastors of the churches of Council would urge upon you a broader and deeper interest in our work. As pastors of the churches in Council, our business is to get men and women to live right before God and with their fellows. We ourselves desire so to live before you that you will not be ashamed to own us as ministers of the gospel and pastors of the churches in Council.

Yours for what is high and good,
E.I. Getman
H.C. Stover


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Winter Marriage"

[Another beautiful lyric poem from B.N. - enjoy!]

Winter Marriage


Consider, how consistently the light gets less
in the rim of the window, then the room,
the way we grow quiet each night at 8 o'clock.
It has been a winter of arguments, broken clocks
and black-outs. We aptly call these silence and darkness.

Given enough time I can make sense of anything,
our tracks in the snow, the snow filling the forgotten
boots next to the back stairs, the clay pots
on the sill, the TV and our heads
in R.E.M. sleep.

I know that the geese, afraid to be overcome by snow travel
In a constant V and sound a hard call back and forth, knowing
both their shape and sound as imperative.
Sense has a pattern like snow and sleep
or silence and darkness.
                              And here we are the power concealed in it.

B.N.
© to the author 1983-2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

FEMINIST HULK SMASH!!!



What do Marvel Comics & feminist theorist Judith Butler have in common? Quite a bit if you're one of the 11,641 (& counting) who follow Twitter phenomenon Feminist Hulk! If you’re not aware of the Feminist Hulk, you should most definitely check out our own SoCal Special Correspondent, Audrey Bilger over at the Ms. Magazine Blog where she presides these days—her post today is an exclusive interview with Feminist Hulk!

Smash patriarchal hegemony—oh my!

"The Gone Dead Train"


It’s time for another edition of the Monday Morning Blues, & today’s featured song is a wild romp even by the standards of old blues. It’s called “The Gone Dead Train,” & it originated with a singer-guitar player who went by the name of King Solomon Hill.

It’s thought that King Solomon Hill was one Joe Holmes, who was born in Mississippi in 1897 & lived much of his life in Louisiana in the Minden area, & specifically in a place called King Solomon Hill Baptist Church. Holmes recorded six songs during his lifetime, tho there are no known copies of two of them. The four that survive are “The Gone Dead Train,” “Whoopee Blues,” “Down On My Bended Knee” & “Tell Me Baby.” A small output, but at his best he was a guitarist & singer with uncanny power & range. He did play slide style—reportedly using a steakbone as a slide—& from what evidence we have in his four surviving songs, he played a spare & highly individual guitar style. King Solomon Hill was apparently was a friend of the great Blind Lemon Jefferson, & like Blind Lemon was probably a street musician.

As per usual, the song is my version, not an imitation; for one thing, King Solomon Hill had an amazing falsetto, which I don’t possess. One of the riffs I use came from his song “Whoopee Blues”—a truly disturbing song about vengeance, but one that contains some interesting guitar work. “The Gone Dead Train,” on the other hand, is a hobo’s story about displacement & alienation & the inherent dangers of a life riding the blinds on freight trains.

Hope you enjoy it!



Sunday, June 6, 2010

Photo of the Week 6/6/10

Cambridge, Idaho Town Water Tower, with clouds
Saturday afternoon, June 5th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's the next poem in the A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets series.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sepia Saturday 6/5/10


Good morning & a happy Sepia Saturday to one & all.

In a continuation of my mother’s photo album, today I’m featuring my maternal grandmother, Inez Atkinson (née Putnam). Inez was the only one of my grandparents I ever knew—in fact, she lived with us since before I was born in 1956 until her death in the summer of 1967. I have strong memories of her, but I was a child—less than 11 years old when she died, & she was in a hospital for some time during the spring & summer of ’67. What do I recall?

Inez liked to walk; before the feebleness of old age really took its toll, she would walk along the highway that ran past our house. It was not so much traveled in those days; I actually remember when I was very young running to the window to see cars passing—interestingly enough, not unlike the road I currently lived on (& I believe the Saxtons River Rd also was unpaved when I was a toddler). She also loved to collect rocks—she kept part of her colelction in a wooden box in her bedroom. In fact, she would even patrol our unpaved driveway with her stout hickory cane in hand, looking for more specimens. I still have her Golden Nature Guide of Rocks & Minerals.

She liked to visit antique shops—there was one in Westminster Station that we often
frequented—it was run by an older gentleman named Graham, & it had the most delightfully musty odor. I don’t know what she purchased—I actually think Mr Graham may have sold some rocks—but I know there were old postcards there & I was fascinated by them—another old postcard connection relating to my mom’s side of the family.

I remember too that she used to recite “Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross” while dandling me on her knee. On the other hand, she often seemed remote, & I seem to recall she had a temper. Of course, she was elderly when I knew her & for the last few years, in poor health that eventually degenerated into a form of senility that seemed quite frightening to a child.

What was Inez like as a young woman? I know very little about her younger life. I know she married a man much older than her; she was born in 1881, while my maternal grandfather, Joseph Atkinson was born in 1868. My mother doesn’t speak of her too much—I sense there was conflict, & that my grandmother may not have been “maternal” in a traditional way. I do know she spent all of her life in Massachusetts, except for the years she lived in Vermont toward the end of her life—& even then, she often spent summers in Quincy, Massachusetts with my Uncle Joe; this continued until she couldn’t travel.

She seems well put together in these photos, if a bit stern of aspect. Yet there’s a warm smile in the picture below with a young Vera to the left & her husband, Joseph to the right. Based on similarities to other pictures, that snapshot may have been taken in 1913—it was almost certainly taken before my mother was born in early 1916.

Inez was very Victorian in her morals—I believe my mother & Uncle Joe had quite a strict upbringing, & I know Inez was not altogether keen on my father—he was from a lower class, Irish in large part, & born Catholic—all strikes against him, I believe, in her book. Truth be told, he was also quite a hell-raiser in his youth, so perhaps some of Inez’ misgivings can be forgiven!

Hope you enjoyed the photos; I should note that I have a gig today, so I may be late in catching up on Sepia Saturday comrades. However, please be sure to check out other Sepia Saturday participants here.

Photos:
Inez
Inez (L) & Joseph (R) with a stringer of fish; don’t know the man in the middle, nor did my mother
Vera, Inez, Joseph & ?, probably 1913