Mélange

1. It’s September? It’s September. It’s September?!? It’s September! It’s September. It’s September . . . (it’s September) . . .

2. I was sorry to hear of Glenn Cornick’s passing this week. He was the bass player on the first three Jethro Tull albums, as well as playing in a few precursor bands, and co-writing the group’s first single, “Aeroplane,” mistakenly credited to “Jethro Toe.” He was a fantastic musician, and it’s hard to imagine how such signature early Tull songs as “Living in the Past” or “Bouree” would have been so wonderful without his tasty chops holding them together. Click those two links in the prior sentence, and actually listen to the bass. Incredible stuff, truly. He had a fine post-Tull career as well, that I wrote about in a post a few years back about Heavy Organ Music, and I highly recommend his work with Wild Turkey, Paris and Karthago, if you can find it. (Paris also featured the brilliant Bob Welch, who has also flown away from us, sadly, as I wrote about here). I was “friends” with Glenn Cornick on Facebook for a couple of years, back when I was more profligate in my social media practices, and his communications there were always fun, enthusiastic, engaging, and endearing. He seemed to be a generous man who loved and was proud of his family, as well as a gifted musician who played an important role in an important band for me. Here’s wishing his friends and loved ones peace through difficult times.

John Smith, International Terrorist? Apparently so, until proven innocent.

Is this the passport photo of John Smith, International Terrorist? Apparently so, until proven innocent, again and again.

3. As noted in prior posts, Marcia and I had an amazing time in Europe last month, celebrating our 25th Anniversary. One of the things that we most appreciated was the excellent public transportation opportunities available to us, where we could effortlessly move between four sovereign nations via clean and timely trains, and could also move freely around our chosen cities in a variety of trams, buses, trains and autos. Our entire passport control experience on entering Europe was a pleasant, two-minute interview at Flughafen Frankfurt, Germany, while carrying our backpacks, and keeping our shoes, belts, jewelry and outer clothing on our bodies throughout the entire procedure. Compare and contrast this with our experience on arriving in Houston International Airport, where we waited in long lines, were yelled at more than once by airport security personnel, had to remove various items of clothing, and dismantle our traveling packs and — worst of all — where I was, once again, singled out, isolated, and treated as a security threat for no offense graver than being named “John Smith.” This is the fourth (or fifth?) time this has happened to me when returning from abroad in the post 9/11 era, so while I’m getting used to it on one level, it never ceases to deeply offend and aggrieve me to have to be separated from my traveling companions and put into “supplemental screening” rooms after having my passport confiscated by airport security staff. In Houston, they would not let Marcia stay with me, and I was put under surveillance in a secure office immediately adjacent to the quarantine room where, presumably, anybody exhibiting Ebola symptoms would be held. I don’t want to be too much of a drama queen about this, but, you know what? I served my country, honorably, for a long time, and it feels really, really, really wrong for me to be treated this way when I return home after traveling abroad. It’s obviously some sort of profiling based on my very common name, but it seems that at one or more of these unfortunate stops, someone would look at the unique number on my passport and make a note in a computer somewhere that I’m really not that John Smith (whoever he might be), and that I should be able to enter the country where I was born and have lived and worked my entire life without causing security staff to put their hands on their pistols. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think it is.

4.  Another thing I enjoyed about our time in Europe: I had no cell phone coverage or connection, so I would check in via the hotel’s business center or our Netbook occasionally, but otherwise was fairly blissfully disconnected from the digital world for most of the day while we rambled about some of Europe’s great cities, seeing sites, taking pictures, drinking beer, and eating all of the things, all of them. It was effortless and delightful, and I’ve tried to eliminate a lot of online connections since returning home (e.g. sorry if I am not your Facebook friend anymore, nothing personal, really) to preserve that sense of actively living in the real world, without feeling obligated to monitor the virtual one, continually. That being said, I hereby authorize anybody reading this article to punch me in the head repeatedly if I ever succumb to writing one of my least favorite internet memes, wherein highly-connected dooders or doodesses cut him/herselves off from all electronic toys for a day/week/month/whatever, and then blog about it as though the experience were analogous to living in a Somali refugee camp for two years. It’s not that dramatic to be disconnected, people, honest. Most of our internet activities are nothing but habits, and if we make a little effort to break said habits (since most of them are bad habits, if we’re honest with ourselves, right?), and successfully do so, then . . . . well, then, nothing, because it’s not really a big deal. Seriously. And if you ever liken misplacing your Smartphone or closing your Facebook account to losing basic fundamental human requirements like food, water, and real face-to-face contact with peers and loved ones, then you’re kind of a schmuck, honestly, and there’s probably a reason why you don’t function very well in the real world. Just saying.

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