Saturday, April 27, 2013

An assorted REM Reunion at Webster Hall

4/27/13 17:12 Home

The last two nights I was in the city.  I bought tickets the moment I heard Peter Buck was opening up for Robyn Hitchcock at Webster Hall.  Ali and were looking forward to the show, but just in case, I gave Eric a head’s up.  I told him, I might ask you to attend a show in the city.  Who?  Robyn Hitchcock.  Cool I like him.  Let me know.  Thursday, I tell him, looks like Ali is going, but thanks.  Friday comes and Ali can’t make it and then Eric tells me he can’t make it and I’m walking around the office looking for someone who could.  I’m out of luck, but I suck it up and drive into the city, park on 15th just as a car hit their alarm, the car's lights flashed telling me they were arriving and eventually pulling out.  What luck.  It was close to Irving Plaza, but I made my way to 11th, passed a Greek place which look very appealing. I avoided one of the premier book stores like a good disciplined man: Strand.  I’m selling my books on EBay since I have so many which are either signed or first edition.  I have amassed a library of good books.  This will be another blog entry some other time, you want to read about the show and I’m sorry. I was prepared for the show.  I bought Buck’s LP – which is limited edition – only 2000 copies were released - vinyl - on a small independent label Mississippi Records in Oregon.  I wanted to hear what he would do without the major influence of REM or his other bands like Baseball Project, Tired Pony, Minus 5 and Venus 3.  The album captures the music that Buck gravitates to when he places a needle to thin grooves.  You know he was having a ball recording it.  On the way to Webster Hall I saw Mike Mills walking in front of me, he has a sort of unique strut and his cowboy boots gave him away.  I caught up to him and like a kid, “Mike!” I called out. He turned around, not recognizing the chump who called out his name and said, “Hey...” and moved on up and in the venue.  I caught up to him again and asked if the Baseball Project would come back around, “Eventually,” I could have asked if REM would come back, but I knew the answer.  I assumed Mills was playing bass in Bucks’ band which is called Richard M. Nixon.  They didn’t have a bass player.   Surprisingly Peter was talkative, I dare say - comfortable almost aloof on the stage.  He said he hasn’t played this venue since 85, when it was The Ritz.   I think by ’85 REM were too big to play there since the previous year I saw them at The Beacon.  I know I am a dorky fan.  
Here is the set list: So Long Johnny, It’s Alright, Give me back my wig,  10 Million BC, Planet of The Apes, Monkey Man, Vaso Loco, Outta the House, Near Wild Heaven, Pushing too hard, I’m Alive.
 Buck’s band consisted of Bill Rieflin on drums, REM’s last drummer, Scott McCaughey, REM’s fifth man,  and Kurt Bloch.  Mills eventually joined Peter on stage and they played the REM song Near Wild Heaven.  Was this the first time they played an REM song?  Let the and REM HQers take note...Lenny Kaye from Patti Smith’s band joined him as well and performed Pushing too Hard…I was debating on calling it a night and head home.   I felt the mission was accomplished I saw the band I wanted to see.  I even sold the extra ticket to some guy who was looking for a freebie…I sold it to him for $10…cheapo…better than nothing.  I really don’t know too many Robyn Hitchcock songs.  I used this same excuse a few years ago when Ali and I went to see Buck and the rest of the Venus 3 support Robyn at the Knitting factory.  As you may know from the blog postings we are REM fans.  I repeat myself.  The rationale then, we had a chance to talk to meet and talk to Peter before the set.  We were honest and told him we didn’t know much of Hitchcock’s songs.  Oh you should stick around, he has great music.  I’m sure you’d like it.  Not taking his suggestion we left.  It was an early night.  So I waited for Robyn to come on and had a beer in the shadows. I was glad I stayed, it was a great show.  I liked how Robyn shared surrealistic stories before each song.  Each time telling us Bill Rieflin was going to keep us in tempo…He wore bright purple pants or some other brightness under the stage lights and a polka dotted shirt.  He will be sixty next week and this is a happy birthday to him.  The set was very diverse, included songs from his repotore, Kingdom of Love; I love you, Madonna of the Wasps, Adventure Rocket ship, as well as a Dylan cover.   Mike Mills joined him as did Lenny.  They closed the night with the Velvet Underground classic: Waiting for my man and finally an excellent version of The Beatles, She says…  She says…and the lights gradually came on as Robyn waved and walked off the stage.   In the night I found myself on the sidewalk, headed back to the car and not waiting as I'd normally do - to meet the band - since I don’t have to always be the obsessive compulsive neurotic fan.  Right? But if Ali was there…well then…neurosis and the chance encounter is rampant.

Thank you for reading this

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Bomb explodes in Boston a block away from my daughter

There is a lot to write about since this past week I was on vacation.  Let’s start with the bombs in Boston.  That Monday afternoon, I was paying for some food at the super market and had all the kids when Ali called.  She said Amanda just called her and she is Okay, but I will hear soon enough that two bombs exploded in the city.  She was walking towards to finishing line and then the bombs,,,she was safe, but was running away from the explosions with another friend from Simmons.  It was a terrorist act.  Being so far removed from Boston and trying to buffer the kids from what occurred was frustrating.  I wanted to drive up there and take her home. No child of mine should have to experience this.  Soon the rest of them found out what occurred as we turned from the Disney channel and watched the horrific news - a panic set in.   What was that red stuff?  Bella asked as the picture hovered over the sidewalk where blood was splattered, not sure I said, it could be fabric.  Yeah, she said there are a lot of flags there.  Listening to Amanda I could hear the shock in her quiet, shaken voice, that tried to sound controlled.  She repeated like a monk in a mantra, yeah….yeah…yeah after every response.  Evidence of post traumatic stress.  Violence changes life rapidly.  Earlier that day – Patriots day in Boston - she texted me, telling me she was on her way to see the Sox play.  I was happy for her, but she said she missed me.  The city of Boston and The Red Sox have a special place in our lives.   What a general statement without real resonance.  There is a charm Boston retains that appeals to our senses, the way history and dusty decades remain with a New England pride for generations.  Over the years, I brought Amanda to a couple of Sox games.  Once when she was a little girl we flew up there using discounted - standby tickets which someone from Delta lent to me.  For about thirty dollars we flew to Boston and back.  This was before 9/11…and caught a game on a warm autumn day.  Since we flew stand by, flying home was a bit of a challenge; we had to sit separately. It didn’t upset the curious and personable child who bid me farewell and told me she was fine, she sat back in her seat, feet dangling over the seat and struck up a conversation with the woman next to her as I sat alone and pondered how I was going to explain to Ali that our precious five year-old daughter sat next to a stranger on the flight home.  We survived.  After the bombing she was picked up from her dorm by Katie and Ben and brought back to Watertown - where they live - to get out of the city.  It helped, but she was still shaken and did not attend classes on Tuesday.  Simmons College gave the women the option of not attending.  On Wednesday she was back in class and feeling better.   Each day Amanda called Ali or I...yes sometimes I got the call...on the rare chance Ali was not available.  Funny how we always go back to our mothers when we encounter something horrible, but no mother can be prepared to console a child who witnessed two explosions.  Ali was in her element.  By Friday night, after being locked down on campus all day - Mo Cheeks and the rest of Boston and Watertown were dancing in the streets.  We survive through another day and grow stronger, but live with that uneasy feeling - and the unanswered question, why do this? Yesterday, I drove into Citi Field for the first time this season.  This was Bella’s first trip to Citi Field and since she is my baseball buddy as she tells me she is, I felt it was appropriate to ask her if she wanted to go.  Sure was all she responded with.  The other kids could care less about baseball.   Although it was a chilly day we made it to the stadium in about an hour, paid the $20 for parking and passed through security.  I wanted Bella to experience the rotunda at Citi Field, and pointed out the pictures of Jackie Robinson, one with them at a graduation procession and she was impressed with the link to history.  We went to the fan center where kids can play waffle ball and other games and then bought some pizza.  Standing while the national anthem played, with our hands on our hearts, we then took an escalator up to our section 307.  After an inning there it was due time for my sausage and peppers and down we went to find the vendor. I bought her some ice cream as well and we shared a Pepsi.  The wind was picking up, foolishly I wore shorts and we were in the shade.  It was freezing.  The seats will be perfect if it was raining, but it was cold and she didn’t want to move to the warm open seats in the sun light in case we were kicked out.  So we stayed and watched The Mets come back and then headed off to our car and drove to Queen’s museum.  I asked if she wanted to see the globe from the World’s fair and she did…after that I drove around the expressway and felt my steering wheel pull to the right, I thought some part or belt came lose or was damaged.  A van passed us and the passenger pointed to my front wheel, You Gotta Flat!  I changed it with the Manhattan skyline in the distance and gave Bella a lesson on changing tires.  It was the first time I changed a tire in years and felt lucky, it was not raining or bitter cold.  We were done and back on the road to home.   After a dinner at Friendly’s – it was her choice, we watched some videos on You Tube, decent music like The Clash and Cracker (her request) Fishbone, Problems Arise and I played Camper Van Beethoven, Take the Skinheads Bowling, which is now one of her favorite songs.  This morning we came downstairs, I gave her the medication and she played Take the Skinheads Bowling and sang along to it….Everyday I wake up and pray to Jah…  

Six Months since I saw my wife due to Covid

  9/6/20 19:13 Home Tomorrow will be six months since my wife and I waved goodbye at the airport in Mexico City.   I planned to work in Me...