Speaking of Okra

The Latham Price Chopper has had good, big, fresh okra in the produce section the last two times I’ve gone shopping, which fills me with happiness and gratitude, even though I know it’s only here because a vegetable truck must have gotten diverted or something. I’m sure somebody in Low Country South Carolina is in a grocery store today wondering where the okra went, and what the heck this arugula stuff is anyway, and whether it can be cooked in a pot with fatback.

I sliced my okra up when I got it home, very much enjoying feeling the knife and cutting board grow ever more slimy as I did it. It went into a pot with some bacon (the fatback truck evidently really made it to South Carolina this month) and some diced tomatoes, then I set it on a low-medium heat burner and forgot about it for a couple of hours. When I returned: perfect stewed okra! Mmm mmm good! Eat it up, yum! I even tried to incorporate it into an elegant Valentine’s Day dinner last Sunday night, with rice and kebabs and salad. Marcia and Katelin politely dished some onto their plates, then hid it under some spare salad bits. Oh well. It was the thought that counted.

Just Say No to New Music

I’m a big believer that the best music ever made is the music being made right now. To believe otherwise is to accept that it’s not worth looking for new music, and I can’t psychologically ken to the fact that popular music’s best days are behind it.

Because of that, I generally hate it when people make statements about “The best music ever was from the ’60s” or “It’s all been downhill since the ’70s” or other such reactionary claims, since I really do believe that there are just as many musical geniuses plying their trades now as there were then, and I view claims to the contrary as nothing more than admissions that the claimant’s musical tastes have ossified, typically around the tunes that defined their teen years.

That said, I am completely loving Dave Thompson’s excellent book I Hate New Music, in which the irrascible rock writer opines that things really are much worse, musically, than they were during the classic rock era bookmarked by Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” It’s an absurb position, but Thompson defends it with such gusto and energy, and with such blindingly snappy writing, that it’s hard not to get sucked into his staunchly anti-modernist worldview.

I’m reading the book at a good time in my own listening, as I’ve been fixating on Fleetwood Mac over the past couple of weeks,, but only on the period between Peter Green’s departure and Buckingham-Nicks’s arrival. This was an era when combinations of Christine McVie, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch and Bob Weston (with occasional contributions from Jeremy Spencer early on and, briefly, Dave Walker later) defined the front-line, and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie still played with punch and muscle. I’ve had the albums Kiln House, Future Games, Mystery to Me and Bare Trees in heavy rotation, and have been looking for digital (either online or on CD at record stores) copies of Heroes Are Hard to Find and Penguin to complete the set, since I only have them on vinyl, and I don’t have functional turntable anymore. Penguin is generally regarded as the weakest album in the Mac pantheon other than the Bekka Bramlett-Dave Mason fronted Time, but I remember it fondly, and look forward to hearing if my memory is accurate when I finally score a copy.

So as much as I hate look-back bores and as much as I love the new music I found in 2008 and the early days of 2009, I’m running with Dave Thompson this week, hunkering down and digging my tunes from the classic days of classic rock. I’ll take the generally-overlooked Bare Trees or even Penguin any day over the completely-devoid-of-imagination (but Grammy-winning) Coldplay any day, any way.

Take that, modern rock!

Corvidae

As noted in earlier posts here and in prior blogs over the years, I’m a big fan of Corvids, the bird family that includes such smart, feisty, year-round denizens of these parts as crows, ravens and jays. I also like the Icterids, most especially the Grackles, but they aren’t generally around at this time of year.

I’ve been delighted to have a large murder of American Crows wintering in and around our back yard this year, apparently enjoying the aftermath of the ice storm, as broken trees reveal and expose new tasty things within, and create new places to perch and ponder. They are such intelligent, curious, clever animals, and I’m happy to share my yard with them; click thumbnails to enlarge.

Rosie the Cat, however, does not share my enthusiasm. She sits on her scratching tower making the chattering noise that cats make when they can see prey, but can’t get at it (left). She’s quite obsessed with policing the back yard, which is nice, in that I don’t have to look for the Crows’ arrival, but just wait for the Rosie Alarm to go off, and then quietly creep in to see what she’s spotted. That’ll do, Crow Detecting Cat. That’ll do.

Farewell Lux

Lux Interior of the legendary Cramps passed away on Wednesday. He was a true rock and roll original character, and I have always loved driving around singing along to his songs, way too loud. Here’s a great old video of one of my fave Cramps tunes: “Garbageman.” To paraphrase Lux’s words from that song: if you can’t dig this, you can’t dig nothing. Right on.

Tonkaview Redux

Okay, I lied. It seemed like a good idea to have a Tonkaview Room instead of a Harborview Room, but that was before the CAT 988F’s started their engines, gentlemen, at 6:00 this morning. It hadn’t snowed overnight! What or who could possibly require sand and salt that early in the morning? I am stumped. I suspect everyone else with a Tonkaview Room was too.

The 6:00 AM wakeup actually wouldn’t normally bother me that much, since I’m up around that time most days anyway. Last night, however, I was entertained from midnight to 1:30 AM by an insanely obnoxious, loud drunk woman and the dudes who enabled her (across the hall), and then from 1:30 to 3:00 AM listening to a marriage apparently disintegrate in the room next to me.

So my dearest Michael and Carol: I know more about you and your problems than you could possibly imagine (unless, of course, you were smart enough to realize that if you yell in a hotel room, everyone on the floor will hear you), and wish I could expunge it all from my brain housing group, stat. But I’m not sure some of the images you evoked will ever leave, once they penetrated the pillows I’d stacked on my head and nestled into my cochleas.

To the hotel’s credit: when I called about the drunkfest across the hall, they immediately sent someone up to deal with the situation. I probably should have called them about Michael and Carol, but decided to just ride it out. Probably my own mistake on that one.

All in all, it was a nice visit (I had a great dinner at the hotel too). Click on the thumbnail above and you can replicate my Tonkaview Room view at your own computer.

Mmmmm . . . . sand . . .