Many Too Many

I have a whiteboard on the wall of my home office, next to my computer, where I write down ideas for articles, stories, poems or projects, many of which end up here at Indie Moines. Some things, of course, are posted on the blog without ever passing through the whiteboard, dumped straight from frontal lobe to keyboard in fit of inspiration. But some things go on the board and never quite ripen to full fruition, so they often get consolidated into omnibus blog posts involving several short pieces, in lieu of one long one. As I look at the whiteboard tonight, it looks like it’s time to do a little slate cleaning, as I’m running out of space to write new things. So tonight’s omnibus post clears everything off the board, so I can wash it clean, and start afresh. You’ve been forewarned . . .

1. Before there were blogs, there were journals and diaries, and Robert Fripp has been keeping one of the latter since his youth. Fortunately, he’s chosen to share it online with interested readers, including me. I admire him immensely for his guitar-playing skills, of course, but I also admire him immensely as a man: he loves his wife and his pet rabbit, he stands up for what he believes in (even when it is unpopular to do so), he offers sage counsel and wisdom in fields where he is expert, and he appreciates the little things that make life lovely. I especially liked this quote from his August 23, 2012 entry: “How wonderful life can be, in its small details, when your home is where you live.” Amen.

2. Speaking of Robert Fripp, The 40th Anniversary Editions of the King Crimson catalog that he is producing with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree are revelatory and masterful. They have moved Starless and Bible Black and Lizard up into my all-time favorite album list, and I am really looking forward to hearing Lark’s Tongue in Aspic later this year, since I’ve listened to live versions of songs from that album more than the studio originals in recent years, and hope that the 40th Anniversary treatment lets those studio recordings soar the way they ought to.

3. The vocalist-bassist on Lark’s Tongue in Aspic was John Wetton, later of Asia fame. Before he joined King Crimson, he played with a group called Family, and the two albums he released with them, Fearless (1971) and Bandstand (1972) are also among my all-time favorites, and have also been relatively recently released in strong, well-mixed digital editions. Worth seeking out, if you’ve never heard them. They are sort of cross between a classic progressive rock group and a rowdy English blooze band. Here’s a great live cut from 1971 with Wetton strongly featured: “Spanish Tide.” He’s the one playing the twin-necked guitar and singing.

4. I don’t watch a lot of television, but I’ll generally have at least one show at any given time that captures my attention enough to watch live or make a point of recordings. My current favorite television show, that I tape and watch religiously? Adventure Time. It’s mathematical!

5. The locations of the nine greatest restaurant meals that I have ever eaten, and who I ate them with:

Channel Bass Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia (long closed, me and Marcia)

Cafe Marquesa, Key West, Florida (me, Marcia and Katelin)

Zuzu, Napa, California (me and Marcia)

River Street Cafe, Troy, New York (no official website, many meals with many people)

Driftwood, Oranjestad, Aruba (me, Marcia and Katelin)

Barbes, New York, New York (me, Marcia, Katelin and our friend Pat, two meals)

Hótel Búðir Snæfellsnesi, Búðir, Iceland (me, Marcia and Katelin)

V Mertz, Omaha, Nebraska (me and Marcia)

Unknown parilla (steak house) in La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina (me, Marcia, Katelin and Katelin’s friend, Kenna. I can’t find the name because apparently it has closed; I know where it was, but it does not show up on maps anymore).

6. The greatest story songs of all time (I’m not doing all the links this time . . . you can find them if you want the proof):

“Ode to Billie Joe” and “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry

“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” by Richard Thompson

“One Tin Soldier (Ballad of Billy Jack)” by Coven

“Buenos Tardes Amigos” by Ween

“Lady Waters and the Hooded One” by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians

“Common People” and “Sorted for E’s and Whiz” by Pulp

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by The Band

“Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” by Meatloaf

“El Paso” by Marty Robbins

“Maddy Groves” by Fairport Convention

7. Gay Tastee’s “Beautiful Brand New” is one of me and Marcia’s all-time favorite songs, a hands-down desert island disc for us both. There’s a video for it on Youtube that somehow makes it even more poignant and haunting than it already is. You need to see it.

8. XKCD’s Click and Drag is the coolest interactive web experience I’ve had since, oh, I dunno, maybe the day I discovered snarg in 1995 or so.  Go explore it, and don’t miss the underground civilization, nor all of the things up in the sky.

9. Vacations are the time to do things that you don’t normally do when you’re at home. When we were in Wyoming, this included going to see the idiotic final Batman movie. The experience made me even more firm in my resolve to never again pay to see a movie based on a comic book superhero. Of course, given the total lack of imagination evident in Hollywood in recent years, this pretty much means I’m just staying home and watching “Adventure Time” most nights.

Dodo/Lurker

1. For as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve titled omnibus posts — meaning those with short, multiple topics — after songs by specific artists. In the beginning, these posts all had titles from songs by The Who. Then I used Bee Gees song titles for several years, and I’ve been using Frank Zappa song titles since around 2010 or so. Tonight, I feel inspired to honor a new band. Props to the music geek who identifies the new omnibus post titling band first. I should note that I am making the switch after watching about five hours of documentary interview footage online about this band’s back catalog. Because that’s how I roll, yo.

2. Marcia and I went to Omaha last weekend. It was our first time in Nebraska’s largest city, and we went to see a classic car exhibition at a restored historic manor house there, as a prep and research tour to support the exhibition that my staff and volunteers will be offering at Salisbury House. We stayed right downtown, and really enjoyed the Old Market area, with loads of stores, restaurants and bars packed into about a sixteen square block area abutting the Missouri River. We had an absolutely divine dinner at V. Mertz in a subterranean passageway in the Old Market, with excellent, knowledgeable service, an outstanding wine list, and some truly innovative and perfectly prepared entrees and small plates, largely featuring fresh regional meats and produce. I had a rock shrimp appetizer over polenta with a buckwheat fritter and great, tasty fruit and sauce accompaniments, while Marcia opened with a heritage tomato salad that looked like a work of art. I don’t care for tomatoes, but Marcia reported that its taste lived up to its appearance. For our main courses, Marcia had a duck dish that was built around the best tasting, most tender duck breast I have ever eaten, and I had a salmon entree prepared over a creamed wild rice bed, livened up with apples, turnips and fennel. We capped the evening with a beautiful, leathery 30+ year old Pedro Ximenez sherry and a flourless chocolate cake served with almond ice cream. We even had a perfect table, tucked into a little niche in the corner of the restaurant, where we could unobtrusively people watch, without being overwhelmed by other peoples’ conversations or traffic in and around the restaurant. It’s definitely a contender for the top ten list of greatest meals I’ve ever eaten. Highly, highly recommended the next time you find yourself in Omaha. Or anywhere nearby even, since it’s worth a trip in and of itself.

3. On our way to Omaha, we stopped in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to play a round of golf at the Dodge Riverside Golf Club, immediately adjacent to a large Harrah’s Casino. The course was pretty busy, so we waited at the tee box at most holes behind a foursome who were good golfers, but of that obnoxious variety who spend way too much time thinking about club selection and walking back and forth from their carts and swinging a dozen practice swings before each meaningful stroke of the ball. When we rounded the ninth hole, we headed straight for the tenth without stopping, hoping that we might leap frog the guys who had to throw grass in the air before every stroke, since we are pretty much “ready golf” kinds of players who just want to keep moving. When we got to the tenth hole, however, things did not look good: there was another foursome there who were clearly inebriated, having a loud conversation with a ranger. We sat back from the tee box so as not to crowd them, but one of the players saw us and waved and invited us to play through. We gratefully accepted. In the tee box, the foursome introduced themselves to me by first names, mentioning that they were in Council Bluffs for work, and that they lived in Los Angeles. I politely inquired as to what brought them to Iowa, and they said that they were in town to play a concert at the casino the following night. They asked me where they could get a good steak in town, and I apologized for not knowing the area well enough to give them a tip. We chit-chatted a bit longer, and then my music geek curiosity got the best of me, and I asked, “So what’s the name of your band?” Their answer? Weezer. Oops. I think they were kind of disappointed that I had to ask but, hey, I was really too old for college rock when they were at their creative and commercial pinnacle, so they aren’t on my “recognize immediately” radar screen. We thanked the four of them for letting us play through, though, and then amusedly watched them fall farther and farther behind us throughout the back nine. I think they must have stopped golfing altogether at some point and just decided to hold court in a bunker around the 16th hole.

4. One of the more entertaining things about being a long-time blogger is when people who have been reading my words for years without ever commenting decide to de-cloak and reveal themselves to me. Since I know the total traffic levels that my sites generate, and I know how many of those folks actively comment, I can deduce that something like 90% of my readership falls into the category of “lurkers:” people who happily read from the sidelines, without ever actively participating in the conversation. I appreciate this, since there are lots of sites where I do the same thing. So in honor of this post’s title, I formally applaud the lurkers of my various website . . . and if the spirit moves you to de-cloak via e-mail or comments, I’ll be delighted to have some idea of who you actually are. Holla!

5. My sister the artist honored by one her region’s leading arts businesses as the Asheville Area’s Artist of the Month, which she has concluded entitles her to assume the title of “Miss August.”