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Thursday, August 30, 2012

EVERYTHING COMES BACK

 
  


Finally I've had to address my mother to put a possible end to the stiff-arm tactic she's used on me all my life, sentences that start, When you gonna ...? or I wish you would.... It's not a form of control, because it does not control me, never has and she knows it. Why does she do it? She goes to a Baptist church that is the only Truth on earth; everything the preacher says is RIGHT and all else WRONG. She has a head full of church cliches. "Jesus died for your sins." What a weird one that is. Jesus is supposed to be immortal, never dies. But he died. What? On account of you! The man that never dies died for you. Don't blame me. I wasn't there. Nor am I a preacher to kill him every Sunday with audience-pleasing parrotry. I don't have a problem with somebody who comes on straight-ahead telling it like it is. To the Pharisees (preachers--church dogma), "You're making the people two-fold more children for hell than you yourselves." There, in a nutshell is the reason I have nothing to do with church of any sort. I have seen so many people so "dead in Christ" (mother's ideal) that they miss everything but Jesus cliches, which have no meaning except for a kind of church slang you have to be a member to get.


It brings to mind a joke from high school years. A man first day in prison is in the cafeteria at lunch. Somebody yelled out a number and everybody laughed. Somebody else called out a number and everybody laughed. A few more times and he asked the guy beside him what was so funny about the numbers. The guy explained that everybody knew the same jokes, so they gave the jokes numbers. Instead of telling the joke everybody has heard, they call out the number and it's funny. He asked if he could try it. Sure. He called out a number. No laughter. He asked the guy next to him why nobody laughed. The guy said, "Some people just can't tell a joke." The next thing after getting saved is your duty to browbeat others about Jesus and church, The number of people you convince they need to be saved adds up and you get a Mary Kay pink Cadillac convertible in heaven so you can ride around in the glory of the Lord all day where night never falls. They have laws against laying rubber on the streets of gold. You better watch out or God's gonna condemn you.


If going to heaven is as stressful a deal as being an olympic athlete, there can't be anything to it. In the olympics you lose. Only one wins. Everybody else loses. You don't really know if you're going to heaven. Even if you're super-Christian of the month, you have no guarantee God really likes you. God knows you lied to your mommy once when you were 6. Every little sin of commission and omission is kept on a list like the register receipt at the grocery store. If you get one too many, that's it. The right wing militarist way of seeing it is "no exceptions." The original purpose of a judge was to sort through the subjectivity of all the evidence and find objectively the problem and rule according to the particulars in the individual case. Then comes the Reagan Revolutions mandatory sentencing. No consideration of context, one of the early American legal ideals. Judges have guidelines to follow, no exceptions, no variations. So what's the point of having judges? Have a trial and refer to the guidelines. Talk about saving taxpayers dollars! Getting rid of all the federal judges would save a very great deal. But the deal is not to get rid of them, but to put in only judges of right wing militarist mind. That way the laws created by corporate lobby to put more black folks in prison don't get watered down by judges who don't believe a black kid stealing maybe $50 from a convenience store deserves ten years in prison. Get rid of "liberal" judges like that, build enough prisons and the nigger problem is fixed. Please don't tell me the corporate world is not racist. It's less sexist than it is racist.


The Bible says "works" have no bearing on God's judgment of you, but Baptist preachers know better. I'm expected to go about believing myself to be a worm in the ground. I can see it in that all forms of consciousness are forms of God, life. I'm the same as a toad in that way, the same as a horse in that way, the same as Julius Caesar in that way, consciousness. At the same time, in this lifetime my consciousness is human being. I have a nervous system a bit more complex than a worm's. I have bones. I live above ground. I have responsibilities and concerns a worm cannot imagine because it cannot experience them. I also don't believe "worm" as low self-esteem is valid. Low self-esteem is self-defeating and depressing. Nobody functions well in their lives repeating self-defeating behavior and bound by depression. God wants us to do well in our lives. I don't mean in material wealth, though that is one of the ways. God wants us to live our lives. I take that to mean God wants us to live our lives. If I want to be a boxer, God says, Go for it, do it well (the best you can). If I want to be a painter, God says, Go for it, do it well. If I want to work as an architect, God says, Go for it, do it well.


This is what I have come to see in the course of my spiritual path in direct relationship with God, not through the kaleidoscope of the human mind religion has become. I've come to understand why the spiritual path is experiential only. Spiritually, reading counts for nothing. Only application works. Since kindergarten I knew that everything comes back. I'm rubber, you're glue, everything you say bounces off me and sticks on you. I'd known about that principle all the way along. Automatically when something we don't like happens to us, we say, "What'd I do? Like we know without knowing it that it must be something come back from something put out there. Everything comes back. We all know that, but how well do we know it? I believed I understood it up until in my fifties. One day I decided to make an "empirical" study of it, something like testing to see if light travels as waves or particles, though not so complex. I'd discovered practical application of spiritual principles. I wanted to pay attention and see what I could find.


I don't recall what I did, but one day I put something out there and the next day it came back. That got my attention. I've watched enough to see that it is not the exact deed, but the same degree of response to it. Like one I recall from just a few years ago. Somebody in my world made me mad unto wishing I could permit myself to contemplate murder. But I see consequences, for starters. I was so furious that I had to get revenge right now. Couldn't wait for karma to handle it. I looked at my thinking and saw it makes a really good case for long years in prison. Do I want to go to prison because this lying MF pissed me off so much it kicked me out of control? That's giving him power over me and he would know it and use it. He wasn't getting power over me, and I knew any reaction on my part would give him that power. Relying on this principle, that everything comes back, I put it out of my mind, thought about it no more, except paying attention, waiting to see what would come back to him. Two weeks later something happened totally unrelated to me but right in front of my face that made him as furious as he'd made me. I thought: I could not have commanded better revenge. It was the same degree of rage triggered by himself the day he made my blood run faster. That day I said to myself never to worry about anything again. As long as I don't be putting crazy shit out into the world, crazy shit won't be coming back.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

 
 
 

It's been this way throughout my lifetime listening to Republican-speak. It's been so absurd that their ability to do what they're told keeps me laughing with an attitude of derision, which I don't like to feel; although it is entertaining. Every election year we go through long months of hearing republican-speak, and year-round every year on the news. Misinformation with intent to deceive. When it's an individual person it's called lying. What a politician says is never what the individual says. They have staffs of writers and lawyers directing them. Herein lies the issue. The politicians have to be so careful in every word spoken it takes convolutions of sentences to spin meaning into anti-meaning and nonsense into truth. It's come to the place for me that I already know somebody is a republican before they tell me or I find out some other way. When somebody comes at me completely false in tone of voice and words spoken, or comes on with the false enthusiasm of a self-help guru, or brags about being a Christian, I know automatically. Key word: false. Though the word is never used except against the truth.  


It's not just politicians, either. It's government, how it works. It's religion. Our role is to be good soldiers, do what we're told, don't ask questions. Brings to mind someone I once knew who did CIA work. Some of what he said he did made me think about conscience, don't you have a conscience? You did THAT because you were TOLD to? Do you do everything you're told? Of course he had a mind of his own and a conscience. This was work. At work you do what you're told. Conscience and idealism are ok for them that want it, but not at work, and certainly not in government work. I've spent my entire working life avoiding any work connected with government and corporations. It's not possible in the absolute, because everything is connected in one way or another. When I had my "small business" of selling cds of mountain music, it was the corporate distributor, the corporate labels, corporate credit card operation, government tax laws and regulations.


I've always worked for individuals instead of corporations or government. I've not made much money, but don't want money bad enough to bind myself to government or corporate domination. A job that requires me to put aside conscience, I don't want. For one thing, there's no telling what kind of shit it will get me into, like killing the poor for being potential communists or terrorists or whatever. At the College of Charleston I was happy the school did not have big science laboratories and big sports programs. No government or corporate funding for research toward killing the poor in Vietnam (at the time). The school was too small to be of interest to the Bank or the Pentagon. Out of control. Like Patti Smith says, Outside of society!!! That's where I wanna be!!! I'd rather listen to Lenny Kaye's guitar than to militarists or religionists. Speaking of which, in the course of my lifetime in modern and post-modern America, the only thing I see of any real value in our society is rock n roll. Rock is rebellious because rock speaks truth. Kids talking to each other. Kids have a short fuse when they hear bullshit from another kid. They have to take it from adults, but not from other kids.


I found a wonderful intent of purpose quotation from Reagan's top CIA dog, William Casey, in 1981: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believes is false." Pretty concise statement of purpose. That was in the beginning of the Reagan Junta. Thirty years later the republicans have done a splendid job of bringing about the end of Democracy in America by way of the Reagan Revolution deceptions, like trickle down in republican-speak = vacuum up in practice. Take from the working people and give to the Bank. Now that "the people" are threatening the Bank with the Occupy protests the corporate press refuses to acknowledge (even NPR), I've an idea that when "our troops" come home, their idleness will be occupied rounding up protesters and guarding them in concentration camps. Republican legislation is taking us there in a hurry. Again, Gore Vidal comes to mind, "When the American people are unable to recognize stupid, we're out of business." And I think of WB Yeats, the center does not hold.


Centripetal force has been o'ertaken by centrifugal force. We have collectively no feeling anymore for community or neighbor. "Major Tom, this is ground control," has become the song of our time. Drifted so far from the shore there's no more communication, no more control from "the center," ground control. "Here am I floating in a tin can far above the world." Then there's the double-entendre, "Planet Earth is blue (depressed) and there's nothing I can do." It's easy for politicians to debunk science, because they appeal to people who will believe ANYTHING THEY ARE TOLD, the lower half of the population where natural intelligence is concerned. Ignorance has gone this far in its advance through the collective body of the American people like a spreading cancer. This cancer or dark cabal, whichever, is seriously threatening the rest of us, like the Nazi (right wing) takeover of Germany--the same cancer or dark cabal from within. Evidently the German people don't recognize stupid. The Japanese, another super-intelligent people, don't recognize stupid either. Both were bombed back to the Stone Age for their arrogance. Duh. Can anybody see where this is leading? When the republicans take absolute power, which they are on the very verge of doing, look out America.


In this lifetime I have watched step-by-step the rise of the dark cabal of the republican party, lock-stepping its way to idolatry with a void of a human being, Ronald Reagan ("the Alzheimer's President"), one of the Southern California / Arizona right wing maniacs, Charlton Heston one of them, Barry Goldwater another. These were the people Ayn Rand wrote her fantasies for. Since the 1950s these people have been fervent with the same zeal of Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston and Richard Nixon, McCarthyites that didn't die with Joe McCarthy, intent on keeping-the-niggers-down while exhibiting a passion for the exclusive power of wealth at the expense of everyone else. Decisions that concern us are made at country clubs without any consideration of us on the outside, except how to keep us uninformed. Misinformation is the key. Alas, it works predictably. Forrest Gump's mother was nobody's fool.  


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Sunday, August 26, 2012

LANCE ARMSTRONG AND A COUNTRY PREACHER

     robert mangold


Continuing absurdity in the news is the beating Lance Armstrong into the ground with "allegations" about "doping," by somebody who has a passion to strip Armstrong of his medals and everything. It's obviously a hate vendetta, but it's not PC to say that. They're saying because Armstrong is done with being hounded and tested and tested to the point he doesn't care any more, he's guilty. Let them have it all. They want his trophies and winnings so bad, he really doesn't have a choice. Now they're claiming he's admitting guilt by throwing up his hands and saying take it all. He's been tested every race, extensively tested and extensively tested on top of that. Like he, himself, said in his own words, "They have no physical evidence." The entire log of evidence against Armstrong is all hearsay, totally hearsay. Somebody said, I seen him do it. Then it's, OMG Somebody seen him do it! Next they have the guy they put out for doping accusing Armstrong, he too seen him do it. Now they have a line of people that seen him do it, but he has been tested every day along the way and there's no evidence at all.


These allegations badgering Lance Armstrong are something like small town gossip or faculty lounge gossip. He said that she said that he had halitosis. I knew an old-time Regular Baptist preacher, Millard Pruitt, in my first 15 years in the mountains. He was a man of honor. I knew him fairly well, knew some of his brothers and sisters, his wife and daughter, the people of his world, his entire family. I knew him to be a man of integrity. His integrity was between him and God, a direct line. It's true he had a weakness for pretty young girls, appreciated them for their feminine beauty. To say he was flirtatious would have been like saying he was a child molester because he liked little kids and the kids liked him. If there was any man I'd ever known who would not get himself a little something on the side from a girl in his church who was getting a divorce, it was him. No way. I knew the woman too. But the stories that went around the county about him stuck like glue, as those stories do. One absurd woman I knew told me about it to be certain I understood that preacher wasn't what he appeared to be. "I seen em do it!" I didn't allow myself to laugh out loud. I was thinking of dogs in the grocery store parking lot. Just telling me she was there to witness the penetration told me it was a lie.


All the time I knew Millard Pruitt, I knew a man who was incapable, even at the age of 30, to have a one-time liaison in public with a young woman in his church he'd known since she was a child, in the time that she was involved in a traumatic divorce. Not even in private. He was incapable. I knew his brothers and sisters. No matter what kind of sexual typhoon took hold of his crotch, his integrity as a man of honor, leaving the called-to-preach part aside, would not allow him to even entertain the thought if it came to mind, and I'd project that it never did come to mind. I knew he bore no guilt about it before God or his wife or the woman involved with him in the story. I knew him to be the same as a monk in his relationship with his Lord. He was from his beginning. Millard Pruitt lived in the world and was not of it. When he was being called to preach, he resisted the call for a couple years, didn't want to go there. He wanted to play fiddle at dances on weekends and work like a man all week. Called to preach, he had to give up playing fiddle at dances or playing the fiddle at all in public. It had the name the Devil's instrument. He didn't believe that, but that didn't stop everybody else from believing it. The spirit of the Lord won the struggle and Millard never looked back.


Along the way several people have said to me, "You know, Millard has a woman story 'gin him." Then we share our hypotheses on the matter. Some could not see even a remote possibility, and some could make a convincing case. I tended to prefer the individuals who saw Millard as I saw him, a man of such integrity of the spirit he's not going to have a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am moment with a young woman in his church involved in a traumatic divorce she's seeking spiritual advice over. He wasn't one to take advantage of anybody for any reason, certainly not a woman in her situation. Millard was such a personality that some people loved and some people hated. It was no in-between with Millard. The people that loved Millard paid the story no mind, while the people that hated him embraced the story and kept it going.


Millard's integrity was not self-repression. His integrity was drawn by his love for God. His integrity was open to the spirit. He lived his life in God's light. He valued that light. It was the light of day for him. By light I think I mean along the same line as what I mean when I feel reluctance to do or entertain anything that might knock me off my track, or out of my flow. When I'm in my flow I don't want interruption. My flow includes my everyday life, people I see, all that. It doesn't mean the phone ringing sets me into a state of alarm. And it doesn't mean shutting out the unexpected. I like the unexpected. Not always at the time. An interruption to my flow would be going away for a weekend, leaving Caterpillar. I can't go anyplace anymore, because I want to sleep in my own bed every night. I don't like to cross the county line anymore unless I'll be back by bedtime. When I'm in my flow, I feel like I'm in the light of God. It's best characterized visually by seeing a leaf float down a mountain stream, riding the flow around and over rocks, rollin' down the river. Slowness is the key to happiness. Sometimes I feel like I have slowed down now to a zone where I feel like I can now go slowly through the day and at the same time get a lot done. I feel like I'm sniffing the crack under the door to happiness.


In this time of the life I am able to do what I want to do. It happened by letting go of everything after a life that required me to be someplace else every day. I sat around and watched movies, read, visited friends, slept late, stayed up late, whatever. Passed the days as I felt like it. I foresaw a lengthy transition from being told what to do all the time to being allowed to do whatever I feel like doing. It feels like I'm more productive than ever, simply as a human being. Possibly more accessible in spirit. Maybe? Maybe so. I enjoy the people around me more than ever. In a big way I feel buoyed by the people around me, the people of my world. They are the cast in the play I have a role in too. I really have never cared whether Millard's "woman story" had any validity. If I believed he did, I'd have thought nothing of it. I understand matters of the groin somewhat. Enough to allow a man a lapse in a lifetime. Millard didn't have lapses. His faith didn't have lapses. Millard Pruitt was as much a monk as my monk friend Swami Yogeshananda living in a Hindu monastery in California. Millard Pruitt was a monk in the Regular Baptist branch of Christendom. I respected him as such in the time I knew him because I saw it in him. Millard was an honorable man. I believe Lance Armstrong is an honorable man too. I feel like he's all the more honorable for being able to tell them to shove it.


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

FIDDLIN KILBY SPENCER: SON OF WHITETOP MOUNTAIN BAND

     kilby spencer at rex theater 8.8.2010


Kilby Spencer's band The Crooked Road Ramblers played at the Jubilee on Main St in Sparta Friday night. They have the Friday night slot at the Jubilee every week now for as long as they want it. They kept the crowd dancing. They have a good drive for a dance band. Old-time bands are dance bands. Kilby's mother and dad are Emily and Thornton Spencer of Whitetop Mountain Band, a Grayson County Virginia band with drive that lets you know you're in the mountains. Kilby's sister, Martha, is staying with Whitetop Mountain Band. She plays every instrument, dances and sings. She is looking like the next WMB fiddler. She's been playing fiddle with the band, second to Thornton, for several years, possibly ten years, give or take a few. Kilby has played fiddle with Whitetop Mountain Band periodically since he's been able to carry out a fiddle tune, as Martha has too.


I've seen among older people I've known in the past that one of the aspects of the musical tradition in the mountains is for people who love the music, go to fiddlers conventions and dances, pay attention to the musicians, is to note a young fiddler or banjo or guitar picker who appears to have promise if he keeps on with it, if he chooses to go the way of music. It's not a matter of getting hopes up for one, because anything can happen. In the mid teens is a hurdle where a lot of them put the music aside and don't take it up again. Some take it up again and some don't let the music fall away. Kilby, like Martha, started when he was little. Mother and dad played, uncle Albert played, they played together all the time and probably every weekend. The kids grew up with old-time music. Records and tapes of different fiddlers from the past and regions of the mountains, old-time bands, banjos, that Kilby's mother and dad listened to. Kilby sent me a collection of 22 songs Thornton was either given by Fiddlin Art Wooten or he bought from Art. It was a home-made 8-track recording of Art Wooten playing fiddle, Jr Maxwell banjo and Wayne Henderson guitar.


Kilby is a folklorist from the inside. Something like AP Carter was, in his own time and place. AP gathered songs from the mountains a few hundred miles to the north and to the south of his home in Virginia, just across the NC line northwest of Bristol. Kilby has bought digital recording devises that pick up sound beautifully. He records people who have never recorded, like fiddler Raymond Gentry of Trap Hill, NC. Kilby has passed to me several of his recordings that he collects non-commercially, archiving, collecting samples of mountain music by people never recorded, as well as home-made tapes in boxes in the attic. Some of them actually survive. Kilby has found videos from home-movie cameras and put them on YouTube. His channel is whitetopmusic all one word. He has video of Albert Hash fiddling, Enoch Rutherford picking banjo with Thornton Spencer when Thornton was much younger, Doc Roberts, Thornton and Emily, Huston Caudill. You can hear some mighty fine examples of mountain music at Kilby's channel.


Kilby has been the young fiddler I've been watching grow. That's what he does. He grows by learning new songs, new ways to play old songs, a new instrument to learn and master, and another, until he can play a whole old-time band. His fiddle is Kilby's lifetime emphasis. The fiddle is his art form he has next to no choice about, like vanGogh driven to paint every day in nasty poverty because his art form needed full attention. Kilby is not playing the poverty role. He is a computer tech whiz who kept the computers of the school systems, county offices, the one you call when you're teaching computer class at the high school and something went cuckoo, like a virus or any of multiple million possibilities. He was moved to Ashe County where he takes care of the their computers last I knew. He's not told me he left Ashe, so I figure he's still there. The only news I get on Kilby is from Kilby himself. I like it like that.


Kilby Spencer is so dedicated to his growth as a fiddler I love to hear his new subtleties over time. He knows an awful lot of songs and plays all of them well. Very well. Kilby is a true heir in the line of Whitetop fiddlers, his uncle Albert Hash and his dad Thornton Spencer. Now it's Kilby and Martha, both of them Whitetop fiddlers of the next generation, the ones to keep the sound and the drive going into the next next generation. It's been an enjoyment for me watching Kilby grow from having no band at all to his Haw Orchard Band he made a couple of homemade cd's from. He gave me copies of his different cds he made for play on the radio show I was doing at WCOK in Sparta Saturday mornings. It wasn't for any commercial benefit. It was that I wanted to play every field recording I could find. The radio show's focus was the music of this county, then the first circle around that was surrounding counties, the next circle the Central Blue Ridge, the next circle the Southern Mountains. Kilby turned up with some music by musicians from close to home and let me play an awful lot of them to the listeners in the county. Bertie Dickens, Cleve Andrews, Jr Maxwell, Raymond Gentry, Howard Joines, Wood Blevins and quite a lot more.


I took the camera to the show tonight and made several still shots of Kilby on fiddle and the other musicians in the band, some of the whole band with dancers in foreground. Made several videos, too, of half dozen or so tunes. I was able to sit the camera on a counter next to Ernest's coffee maker in the corner at the back, out of everybody's way. Using the zoom and sitting the camera still I could get sharp focus and closeups on the musicians from the waist up with instrument. When getting a portrait of a musician, I like to get both hands and the face in the picture. Not always---a rule of thumb. My computer is so full that I have to unload much of it before I can put more in (like my house, like my mind). It's a time-consuming job that I don't know what it's going to take to motivate me to dive in and get-er-done. It won't be long. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day. I'll do it in my own time. I'll hurry slowly. Slow is good. I'm not working in a factory. Nor was meant to be. 

They have a cd available from cdbaby.com. It is Lost Train Blues by the Crooked Road Ramblers. You can see it at  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tcrramblers. Excellent old-time album. This link will take you directly there. The band has a website that is "undergoing routine maintenance" at this moment, but is subject to change any day or week. For when it's ready to go again, http://www.myspace.com/thecrookedroadramblers.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

SCOTT FREEMAN AND EDWIN LACY THE SIAMESE COUSINS

     the siamese cousins
 


I went to http://www.mountainroadsrecordings.com to check out the status on Scott Freeman and Edwin Lacy's new cd release as the Siamese Cousins, 2 CHAIRS, NO WAITING. I found they had a Preview This Album place where I clicked on the play triangle and it has played five tunes by now. It's a preview all right. Even allows me to hear the whole song from start to finish. I'm sitting here feeling gratitude to Karl Cooler of Mountain Roads Recordings for putting what is beginning to look like the whole album available to be heard here at the website. I'm now hearing Dori's second song, Gold Watch And Chain, the beautiful Carter Family song that she does so right. Her performance voice has developed beautifully and fast. I hear her more comfortable than ever, greater self-confidence now that she sees audiences listen to her. Steve Lewis is tearing up a lead guitar part, now Scott is carrying it with the mandolin, playing in ways that make my jaw drop. Edwin came in with banjo and they're all jamming with each other, all going at once, each doing his own sound and the music right there.


Edwin singing Gentle On My Mind. I think he said John Hartford composed it when he was in Glen Campbell's band. He wanted to use it for his own recordings, but Glen heard him picking it and wanted to record it. Edwin heard somewhere that Hartford had said he composed it for clawhammer banjo initially. Edwin picked up on that and is now recording it as a clawhammer tune with Edwin doing the singing. Edwin has soul in his singing voice. His banjo has soul too. I mean soul in the same way I'd say Ralph Stanley has soul. Scott sings Homeward Bound and picks his mandolin. They're on the last one now, Bowl Saint Croix. Must be David Johnson playing resonator guitar on it. It's over. Thank you, Karl Cooler, for that show. Now I don't have to wait another month to hear it. I love the cover. Really a clever image and a beautiful rendering of it in paint by somebody who did a beautiful job. Looks like Floyd the barber in the doorway is Willard Gayheart.


I did not know what to expect, so I didn't expect. All the time I've been hearing about them making recordings toward the collection I imagined it something on the order of what Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin recorded together, Long-Time Piedmont Pals, and one that Kevin Fore made with Kirk Sutphin, Round Peak, The Tradition Continues. Supreme albums of basically banjo and fiddle. This is what Scott and Edwin are doing, banjo and fiddle, mandolin and guitar with vocals about half the time. This album is not just pretty playing, its primary quality is the music. When these guys get together the music happens. They do not hesitate to make music. Edwin's banjo and Scott's mandolin sounded a little bit different from what I'm used to. I think there is more air involved in the venue at the Front Porch Gallery between instrument and mic and between speakers and audience. Not that there is a big distance, but a lot of air is involved. The recording of Edwin and Scott has both their instruments quite a lot more crisp to the ear---in the way lettuce can be called crisp---than my video recorder picks up. It is more articulate when the distance between the instrument and mic is just right and from mic to cd is no lapse. Plus, the recording of each instrument is on its own track. There is no blur of two different instruments playing close together. It's as close to what the instrument is doing as having my ear within a foot of the strings while Scott is tearing them up.


It was especially interesting to my ears to hear Scott and Edwin I've been hearing play together about 3 years now on an almost regular basis. They make music with Willard Gayheart and invited guests that is music I'd search the world over trying to find, and it's a 40 mile drive. Easy drive. Beautiful drive. I have 3 different ways to get there, each one of them 39.something miles and exactly one hour to the minute. Tomorrow night's guest I've seen before, Greg Cornett, and he's awfully good. However, Kilby Spencer's band, Crooked Road Ramblers is playing at the Jubilee in Sparta tomorrow night. I've not seen them in a year. Kilby gets better on the fiddle all the time and the band gets better all the time. He told me Peco Watson played banjo with them at Galax fiddlers convention and the band took 2nd place in old-time bands. Watson was banjo with New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters for quite a long time. I've not been to the Front Porch the last two Friday's due to circumstances. I don't like being gone so long. It feels like home there. The Jubilee feels like home too. I need to hear Kilby's band when they're playing so close to home.


I'm happy for the opportunity to hear Scott and Edwin's new album all the way through. I love it that Dori's two vocal moments were so superlative. The musicianship on the album is outrageously as good as it gets on a Friday night in Woodlawn at Willard's. When it's Scott, Edwin, Willard and Sandy playing bass, they get down and blow the roof off the place. It's music that satisfies the soul. This album is very different from the one Scott made with Johnny and Jeanette Williams. Can't say better because they're both up there at the top when it comes to how I'd rate them on a 5-star scale. 5 stars. No hesitation to question it. They're not 4.97. They are 5. I'm glad to see that Karl Cooler has an ear for what Scott is doing with music. Scott is a terribly complex musician who does chord progressions that make my jaw drop, who is articulate note for note, articulate like not missing any notes, and what he does with those notes makes some incredible mandolin and fiddle runs. He plays them very differently from each other, having no problem differentiating one from the other. I'm glad their good music as Siamese Cousins is available to be heard now. I noticed the MP3 is ready and the songs can be downloaded at .99 per. When I hear their music I feel gratitude that I have found mountain music in this lifetime. It's one of the greatest finds of my life.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LIES AS PARTY LINE

      alexander liberman, omega


Anyone who can't help but see the world we live in (civilization) falling into chaos is laughing out loud this week at the republicans lining up behind junk science over rape now and women's reproductive organs as political agenda. Again. That's an automatic given. Junk science, absurdity and willful ignorance characterize the republican agenda every time. Every day on the news I think of what Gore Vidal said, "When the American people cannot recognize stupid, we're out of business." Half the voting population indicate over and over, every time a republican is elected, that we're out of business. Stupid is held up high as intelligence. When half the voting population votes republican, we're out of business. Not only does it go unnoticed that stupid has a negative value, who cares? Hearing the pols talking junk science as agenda this week reminds me of a statistic I found a year or so ago that only 10% of scientists are republican. They must be what's left of the pre-Reagan republicans unable to deny the scientific method.


Today I pulled into a parking spot next to a car with Virginia FoXX on the back bumper. I sighed a groan, willful ignorance out in the open. The woman attached to the car came to open the door and saw me, "HI TJ!" Eek, I thought, the second worst Reagan republican I know, the kind that makes my skin crawl the same way the two words der fuhrer make my skin crawl. Even worse, because this is the great American Democracy that Reagan republicans are systematically dismantling unto only the military left, police state. Enemies of the American people is what they are. That's the only way I can see it. Self-destruction is ultimately their preferred direction. OK by me, but why take all the rest of us with you? I appeal to the republicans to go ahead and self-destruct, get out of our world; please don't take us with you. Just go away. I fussed about inside the car, entering an address into the GPS device on the dash, focusing my attention on my new tech device. It's rude to interrupt somebody operating a new tech device. I waited for her to pull away before emerging from the safety of my mobile capsule. Phew.


I'm not like that with other people I know who are republicans. I can't help but see anyone who identifies himself/herself a post-Reagan republican as anything but a parrot. The republican party has become the same as the Baptist religion where you believe what you're told and don't think about it. Recite the verses---book, chapter and numbers to show you really understand. Polly wanna cracker, Ship ahoy! It's like to become a member you have to sign over whatever natural intelligence you might have to the Party Line. In the 1950s "Party Line" was reference to communist countries where they did the same thing; you talk party line to show your loyalty on the one hand and to stay out of trouble on the other. Now the republicans after half a century of McCarthyism have become what they hate. Same as the Baptists are becoming what they declare to hate. An ancient saying comes to mind: be careful what you hate because the hate draws it to you. Hate is a powerful attractive energy like love. This is my argument with my mother and her Baptist parrotry about me needing to focus more attention on Satan. I say, Go ahead, you do it for me. Lord have mercy.


The center doesn't hold any more. This, I suspect, is why people are clustering into hate groups everywhere, the republican party a half-the-population hate group, the people who say NO to the well-being of the working people and YES to the Wall St robber barons. I'm one of the working people who values the democracy republicans have been dismantling since Reagan's first day in office boasting he had a "mandate." 51% thanks to the cooperation of the Ayatollah bought with drug money from involvement in the Central American civil wars created by CIA. It has been increasing republican skulduggery, Kenneth Starr, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, low-down weasel attitudes toward life, worse and worse since Reagan, all referring back to Reagan, W declaring himself, "I'm the new Ronald Reagan." He was. It was the only truth I ever heard him speak. Maybe he thought it was a lie when he spoke it, but it came true. After Reagan, we said, It couldn't get worse. Then it did when the Reagan supreme court placed the loser in the winner's circle. The entire Reagan influence has come from the dark side, characterized by nothing but lies and deception, taking from the working people and giving to the Bank. It's what they do. What we do as human beings in this world defines our character. Lying and deception defines a character I want nothing to do with.


I don't have any problem with somebody lying from feeling threatened, which can be something like stealing food when you're down and out and hungry. As soon as I find somebody is one to lie all the time, I steer myself around them like a leaf floating on the surface of a creek's water flow around a rock and over a rock on its way to someplace else. In a lot of social interaction between people who don't know each other very well much lying will be going on, but it tends to be what I'm coming to think of as fantasy creation. Like driving a car that's just a little bit more expensive than you can afford. Like the identity of your life being the party you went to on Erroll Flynn's yacht when you looked good undressed. That kind of lie I'm cool with. It's something of a logjam when I think of all the directions continuous lies come to us from. It's to the point that now we have the internet which we collectively agree is not necessarily accurate information coming from anywhere. Sometimes it is, but we're never sure. It's the same with the serial fiction called the News. We're probably in pretty good collective agreement that the news is fiction. It's just another tv show, one with commercials for Cadillacs.


It's become fairly clear by now that this house of cards that is the international banking system in sync with the political systems based altogether in lies, in denial, in self-centered unregulated greed siphoning off the top and trickling down the crumbs from the table for the dogs. Kinda like in the French Revolution time, but this time it's all the Western World. The Red Dragon has been here and gone. Destruction is the nature of its wake. I hear a reggae song in my head by Burning Spear, Babylon will fall, repeated as the chorus. Babylon is falling. It has been falling since 1980. Republican agenda has been to advance the fall. Ralph Nader felt no guilt being instrumental in setting up the situation that gave the supreme court the opportunity to show it's true intent to destroy our democracy through the legal system.  He said, "The republicans will get us there first." There, being the total collapse from which we will have to pull ourselves together and set out on a constructive destination, because that negative republican destination took us to destruction. As Ronald Reagan promised he would do in his campaigning. It was a campaign promise he kept.


This and much more is why I am not a republican and have little tolerance for a Reagan republican. I know Babylon must fall and this is the time for it to fall. And Ralph Nader is right, the republicans are taking us there fastest. Like Nader, I'd rather see it sooner than later, while at the same time lament seeing the destruction of an intelligent form of government by massive ignorance. Der fuhrer destroyed Germany's government with ignorance. He was the same destructive energy as the dark cabal the republican party has aligned itself with. The fall is inevitable, it is prophesied, it is process of transition from one level of consciousness, getting the old one out of the way in the past like tearing down a building in a city to put up a new building. The old way doesn't work any more. It has calcified subject to human ignorance for about as long as a government can last in this time. A couple hundred years (1776 - 1980) for an attempt at democracy that got about as near to the ideal as the Soviets came to the communist ideal. I know that the Reagan republicans are doing us a favor tearing down the old democracy as it has to get out of the way for what is next. If the republicans have their way, it will be a formalization of the police state we already have. This is why zealous Reagan republicans give me the creeps. I know it is time for the destruction, but still I don't like watching it unfold. I should thank them, but I can't. I'm not that advanced.   


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

KILLING GRASSHOPPERS

     balser's traume by anselm kiefer



Entertaining myself lately reviewing major decisions I've lived my life by that were made in childhood. When it comes down to it, I've an idea in childhood is where I mapped out the life that I have lived. It's an odd notion upon first looking at it. When it first struck me, I thought of a couple and was satisfied I'd made some decisions back then that I've lived by. Time rolls on and more come to the foreground; it's beginning to look like I made all my major decisions pre-pubescent. It's kind of scary considering my mental condition at the time. Nonetheless, the part of myself connected with my innermost self had understanding parents did not have, preacher didn't have, teachers didn't have, no adult in my life had, understandings that seemed obvious to me and I could not make out why no one else could see them. It wasn't that I was "crazy" and out there in my own interior space. Like what I have come to call the absolute subjectivity of everything, which I've come to see in my adult years is consciousness.


I see a deer assessing whether to run across the road in front of my car or wait til it goes by. The deer is conscious, conscious as I would be standing at the side of the road wanting to cross it when one of those big noisy boxes is approaching. The deer doesn't know anything but these things run only on the paved lanes, highways. Dangerous places. The deer doesn't know it hurts like hell when you get hit by one and sometimes it's deadly. The deer doesn't know that. It's only a year or so old. I can just about count on the deer jumping across the road in front of me, not understanding what 50mph means, no idea of what a ton of steel means at 50 mph. Can't assess speed by standing by the road seeing a car approach. It looks like it's going kind of slow when it's approaching. I touched the brake to slow down and be ready to stop if I had to. The deer bolted and I pushed on the brake pedal just enough to give the deer a chance to get to the other side. If I'd not seen the deer or if I'd not anticipated that it would run, learned from experience, it would have been a T-bone hit in the doe in full stride. She was too beautiful to hurt, too innocent. I've been told by someone who knows that I am hyper-vigilant, but my close lookout for deer about to cross the road in front of my car has kept me from hitting deer most of the time. Sometimes, they're like a rabbit and jump out of nowhere in front of you and there's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.


For one thing, it was in my childhood I realized I did not want to do any killing. I killed so many grasshoppers in childhood that surely the god of grasshoppers has cross-hairs on me. I had pet chickens and caught grasshoppers for them. My grandmother was happy that I kept the grasshoppers out of her garden. Kansas is loaded with grasshoppers. I was pumped so full of anger that I lashed out at the helpless, the grasshoppers, killed them by the thousands. I wasn't thinking about grandmother's garden. That was collateral benefit. It was the killing that was important about it. Redirecting my anger to the helpless innocent that can't fight back. The anger was powerful. All through that time I did not realize what I was doing. In adult years I've met two other guys who were serial grasshopper killers in their childhood. In each case was a daddy who lashed his own anger out on the helpless innocent kid, who turned his anger to the helpless innocent grasshoppers.


In adult years I have a few times caught a grasshopper to see if I still had the ability to catch one easily. I'd hold it, study its beauty close and tell it how fortunate it is that the grasshopper killer within has ceased his evil ways. I toss it into the air, its wings take over and it flies a little ways and falls into the grass. I watch it hop a few times and consider how I've changed, what I was going through in that time, what made me take my frustration out on insects. It was open season on all bugs. No big deal killing bugs. The adults approved of killing bugs. It's about all they ever approved of. Once, I did something so obvious it told volumes, but I didn't get it at the time. Daddy built a snowman one year in the front yard. Before the day was over I had chopped it down with a shovel, hitting it, hitting it, taking chunks out of it and watching it go away down to the packed snow. He never built another one and I was glad. I didn't want him to. That snowman was him and I couldn't stand looking at it. I hated it. It too was defenseless and unable fight back. In cub scouts we had to do a father-son project to work together on something. He built a little airplane out of little sticks and glue and paper. Rubber band worked the propeller. As soon as the father-son project was done and approved, I filled the plane up with firecrackers and blew it into tiny pieces and then I set them on fire.


By this time in the life I don't want to kill anything, not even spiders. Right now I have a big spider in the kitchen window. Its body is an inch and a half long and the legs that long too. Big thing, but I like having them in the house. I don't have flying bugs very long. The main reason came some time ten years ago, maybe. My neighbor had come into the house one day when I was gone, with permission, looking for something and a spider like this one jumped on him. A spider has never jumped on me in my house. Or anywhere else. He said he swept it off his shoulder with his hand. Next day a wounded spider like this one in the kitchen took up on my bedroom ceiling. I could see it had been seriously wounded. It stayed there over a week. Then it rolled up into a tight ball and stayed that way a day or two, then it disappeared, was gone. It may have gone off to die, or it may have healed itself. I don't know. But every morning when I saw it on the ceiling I thanked it for its bravery jumping on what it only knew to be an intruder. I thanked it every day for being my friend and putting itself in harm's way for my sake.


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Monday, August 20, 2012

ELSA & FRED THE MOVIE

     elsa & fred go to rome

Today's foreign film was ELSA & FRED, Spanish, made in Madrid. Elsa is a complex woman and Fred a man who worked the same job forty years. She's a bit of a dreamer and he's bound by pragmatic reality. In the beginning, Fred moves into an apartment across the hall from Elsa's eight months after his only wife had died. Elsa falls for him, commits indiscretions to spend time with him. He gradually comes to realize she's not always telling the truth in anything she says, she lives in a fantasy world of herself as Anita Ekberg in Felinni's LA DOLCE VITA. In Elsa's fantasy mind Fred is Marcello Mastroianni. He has a difficult time with her whims. She wants to charm him into falling in love with her and she does it. She charms him with her excesses, her spontaneity, her loco mind. He goes from calling her loco unto almost having a heart attack from the stress of his internal fury in reaction to her nutty behavior. He inadvertently fell in love and became her accomplice in following her loco fantasies. Such fantasies as taking him for lunch at a restaurant neither was equipped to pay the bill. She talked him into walking out with her and driving away. He did and he was hooked.


Elsa turned out to be such a terrific liar that Fred saw he couldn't believe anything she told him about her actual life with a son as a failure abstract artist and a stuffy son and daughter in law who were driven by money and appearances. The story goes on and I caught onto her lying as Fred was catching onto it. Fred's way of responding to her fantasies about herself was to appreciate it in her. He came to see that the dream was the real Elsa. Once he stepped through that passage Elsa became more fun than ever before. Both have their medical ailments and both are living in a time of their lives when any day is their last. They take pills, have doctor appointments, have grown offspring who believe their role is to control these old people. Both Elsa and Fred liberate themselves from that belief, while not alienating their kids either. They fall in love and their kids don't like it (naturally). They demand their freedom to live their lives as they will. Reluctantly the kids let them have their way, which they had already taken.


Watching Fred puzzle over Elsa's fantasies became the story for me. Finally, he discovers she really is loco and that's ok. In her dreams is where he found her. A couple of times he told her she was a teenager in an old woman's body and she thanked him for seeing it. Every minute throughout the story is a dance in the face of death. Two people in their last days refuse to give in to what is expected of old people. They will themselves to have happy times anyway. Who's to say old people can't be happy? This was also one of the questions entertained in the story. So they're a little bit silly in their giddy, sometimes childlike behavior. Sometimes they act like teenagers, laughing and cutting up in public whenever the whim strikes, getting a kick out of being seen in love. Elsa's successful son asked her what her purpose was with Fred. It was the first interjection from the world where Elsa and Fred are not understood, like teenagers. They had never entertained the question, as I had not either, of why and where it's going. For me, the viewer, it came as a kind of shock, because it was not a matter of consideration for them. The purpose is now. How could they explain that? They explained it by living it.


Neither Elsa nor Fred have much longer to live. They both know it. Her fantasies don't deny her dying. Her fantasies are about making the days entertaining, having fun, unconcerned about spending money. They were seizing the moment, living in the now. In love they had found the now. So what if Elsa lied about her past. In her apartment she featured a b&w photograph of Anita Ekberg from LA DOLCE VITA. She identified with the photograph, and it turns out she identified with Anita Ekberg and she was a knockout in her younger years. She wished she had been a star, but she had never come anywhere near being a star, but in her mind. Fred watched LA DOLCE VITA with his friend the doctor. It was funny for me hearing them comment on the brilliance of the photography, the sensuality of the fountain scene where Elsa visualized herself in Anita Ekberg's form. They talked like Europeans. It was notably not Americans talking in relation to a Fellini film. There are some, but not many. It had the subtlety only Europeans have access to, some Asians too, basically the subtlety of appreciation for art. 


Fred did not care about her past, did not want to know her past anymore. They didn't have a great deal of time left. She had never been to Rome, had never seen the fountain in the film. Fred's loser soninlaw had wanted a huge investment of cash to open a business that Fred reluctantly gave in to, having nothing else to do with his money. He came around to seeing the soninlaw was not worth the money that would be the same as thrown away. He put that money in plane tickets, hotel rooms and dining in Rome, the fountain the goal. Elsa waited until the third day to want to go to the fountain. By this time he had joined her fantasies as her partner. She wanted them to act out the scene, Anita and Marcello, standing in the fountain in evening clothes. They played their parts in such a way that it was Fred and Elsa as well as Anita and Marcello at the same time. It was done with incredibly subtle photography and editing. In the moment they were acting the scene, it turned into b&w like in the original. Their souls united in that moment. It stunned me to see how effective the transition in and out of that scene worked, how powerful the scene was. Even subliminally the viewer knows this is their moment ordained from when they first met.


The scene in the fountain was the purpose of their relationship to answer the soninlaw's question. His daughter, for apparently the first time in her life understood her papa for a day when he withdrew the money from his agreement to invest in their small business and take Elsa to Rome. Soninlaw complained he spent the money on that woman and daughter saw it as Fred and Elsa saw it, the money well spent for a priceless moment. The priceless moment was one of the themes that ran through the story to have its apex in the ultimate priceless moment for them. Early in their relationship she told him she was going to teach him to laugh and we see him finding occasion to laugh more and more until there comes a time he is laughing unselfconsciously out loud and in public. The actors, Manuel Alexandre and China Zorrilla, appear to have been well known acting in films in their younger years, he in Spain, she in Argentina. They were Anita and Marcello in Elsa's "teenage" mind, young and beautiful falling in love in a Roman fountain in LA DOLCE VITA. During the fountain scene I spoke out loud, "Beautiful movie!" in awe for every detail of the film and the story. It is about the ultimate heart movie that never even remotely fell into sentiment in its plunges into the depths of feeling that play all the strings of the heart.


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

PUSSY RIOT SENTENCE

     pussy riot

The verdict in the Pussy Riot kangaroo court is a sentence of two years for hooliganism and expression of hate for religion. That's what they were charged with, not permitted a proper defense, and that's what they were sentenced on, what they were charged with. I can't help but think it is a mind game played on them by Putin who may have set the nature of the punishment first day of their arrest. The judge following orders from headquarters. Whatever the case, the so-called trial was a mockery of law, which the State is free to do at will. It's like a Kafka novel and a Solzhenitsyn novel spun together as one. That's in Russia. I have no right in USA to be telling Russian State what decisions to make. I don't aim to. It's their business. But as a story, a story told by a Russian contemporary writer, the verdict is not the end of the story. It's the beginning of the next chapter. The plot thickens. The kangaroo trial and the martial sentence were done publicly, so I have a right to comment on it publicly; albeit with not anything like the international publicity they made for themselves.


It is no different here. Kangaroo trials abound here. No one can point a finger from this side of either ocean. 911 was an inside job and American Muslims suffer under the blame for it by the ones that pushed the button to set the plan in motion. The Pussy Riot girls pushed Putin's buttons in a time when he is evidently feeling threatened. It's not like they were in Amsterdam or SanFrancisco. They also pushed the buttons of the Russian Orthodox church, itself threatened by a falling away of the young. The way I see what they did from my own perspective, sitting with a laptop pushing buttons, they were children playing with firecrackers. I would never think of doing what they did without considering the consequences first. Maybe they did. If I chose to go ahead and commit the act, it would be aware of the risk. They got the shaft. If they didn't know that was the risk, they were too ignorant to be taken seriously anyway. These three women will be committed political activists the rest of their lives. They will be cheered at rallies, at rock concerts. Their names will ring all over Russia among the young. The more harshly they're treated, the more famous around the world they will be. Censoring the internet is what the State has to do. In effect, shutting out the outside world.


What's the problem with that? In USA we are so self-centered that the biggest majority of Americans isn't even interested that Russia is a country, couldn't find it on a globe. As a rule, Americans are not interested in anything beyond our borders except as tourism. Evidently Russians are not interested in the world outside Russia either. Why would Putin give a shit about what Madonna thinks of the Russian legal system? Or Bjork? Or The Edge? From his way of seeing, these freaks with freakish names are what's wrong with the world. To post-Soviet Russians, like in America, mostly rural peasantry, they're so poor the religion is all they have. Wiggle your ass in the face of what half the Russian population believes to be God's altar, and you've pist off very seriously an awful lot of the people around you, wherever you are in the country. The Pussy Riot girls did not get it how adamant religionists can be. On a news clip I heard someone from over there say the girls simply chose the wrong location to exhibit their protest. At the same time, what better indication that your protest really worked than a 2 year sentence? That's better than the front page of the Sunday paper for publicity.


I think I recall seeing something about a new single by the punk rock band Pussy Riot. It's another rant about Putin, or maybe the one that got them locked up. They're pushing it. I couldn't be so light-hearted going up against the Russian bear. The girls are so out of their league, they may end up wishing they'd taken up knitting in front of a television instead of political activism. Whatever the case, the story is not over and may not be over for quite awhile. A provocative action provokes. A 2 year sentence is what the Pussy Riot girls provoked for themselves. It doesn't seem right to people of the world outside Russia, but evidently it seems right to the people of Russia. Who knows? The press cannot be counted on to tell anything remotely close to actuality, theirs and ours. I know Russia is censoring internet activity that has to do with Pussy Riot. So what. They want control of the news inside Russia. US corporate government has control of the news inside USA. It's nothing we can make something of about freedom. It's just post-Soviet Russia acting like America. They do it their way, we do it our way. They have the Gulag, we have the biggest prison system in the world.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

THE OUTSIDER

     rb kitaj


It's a new moon in Leo. This evening I saw Roman Polanski's TESS, starring Natassia Kinski, who was then Polanski's wife, daughter of German actor Klaus Kinski. It was a good Thomas Hardy story. I think he has the name the First Modern novelist, something like that. I think I had to answer a test question on why he was the "first modern" novelist. It's been so long ago, I forget. Yet, watching the film, made by most modern Roman Polanski, he brought out the mind of Thomas Hardy. A story about a young woman who makes up her own mind was possibly on the borderline of scandalous in its time and place. Like Tom Wolfe's I Am Charolotte Simmons was not enjoyed by people of Charlotte's home town because it was so vulgar, so modern. Younger people see it as how things are and the older people see it in shock. Part of that shock has to do with a certain smugness that comes with getting older. I make conscious efforts to avoid that old age way of looking down on the young as completely out of control, uninformed criminals. I see it in my peers and I want to smack them. I want to say, You know better than to act like that!


In college, everybody I knew swore they wouldn't be anything like their parents. At a 30 yr class reunion, I saw they all became clones of their parents. I came from a different climate, and a summer night in Charleston, even in a seersucker jacket, was boiling hell. I'd sworn off cocktail parties when I left Charleston, and this class reunion was a giant cocktail party full of people I didn't know, people I'd forgotten, people who had forgotten me, and like usual, I'm at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder. Judges and lawyers galore and doctors, lots of doctors. Me? I didn't even have a career. Painted houses in the mountains for relatively very little, have spent the second half of my life rurally where katydids, crickets and tree frogs sing after dark. I had jumped out of the career oriented frying pan before the heat was turned on. It wasn't my way of life. In childhood I knew I did not want to be a social climber and did not want to marry one. In childhood I decided not to live chasing the dollar except as necessity, like for keeping expenses paid up. Money has never been worth to me what it takes to get it. When I finish a painting and sell it, the money in return is like nothing at all, like I gave the painting away for scraps of paper. What do I do with the money? Pay bills. How boring.


At the 30th reunion I stood around and my clothes were soaked with sweat. I was constantly drinking water, acting like it was a "drink," to keep myself hydrated. The sweat popped out all over. Nobody else was sweating like I was. They were living in the lowcountry and were acclimatized to the heat. I used to be, but no longer. I couldn't have felt more out of place if everybody spoke a foreign language. I didn't even want to be there, but went out of curiosity, not believing I'd be as bored as I foresaw. It was worse. I didn't want to be like them and they saw it. They belonged to country clubs and had a lifetime of cocktail party experience, knew how to talk and hold interest, how to sound important. I just wanted to be back on my mountain with my dog, not posing, not sounding erudite, not climbing. I never wanted any of that. Of course, as a child I lived what I'd been taught and wanted the rewards of the climb, like impressive house and impressive car. Impressive the key word. When I came to the place of finding out what it took to have impressive things, I wasn't willing to dive into total commitment to pursuing money. No corporation tells me I have to be married with 2.3 children, 2.7 new cars and live in a suburb where the houses "are all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same."


I'm disposed to want to tell you something impressive about why I came to the mountains, but it was just a matter of self-healing, getting myself among trees in a semi-wilderness world where the human spirit feels comfortable. We are, after all, the hairless ape. There is no missing link. If there is, we're it. We don't thump our chests like gorillas, but we do look down our noses conspicuously. We drive expensive cars instead of swinging through trees on grapevines. In some ways it can be said we're advanced. In other ways it can be said we're retarded. We have a lot of machines. Buying and selling machines is a great part of the economy. Golf carts, electric razors, televisions, vehicles, cameras, tractors, chainsaws, and a list so long it appears there is no end to it. We're retarded in that we don't know how to live among ourselves as a species. We're operating on patterns carried down through animal ways from way, way back. In human form we have ourselves to civilize the best we can, home-schooling where the student is the teacher too. The school of trial and error experience. I've never wanted to be the one running on a rat race treadmill. I'm the sort that if I'm staying in place running, I'll get off the treadmill and stay in place standing still.


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Friday, August 17, 2012

SURREALISM IN AMERICA 2012

      photo by diane arbus

This particular election year has really been boring, and it's getting worse as it goes along. Romney is even more boring than the guy Obama beat so soundly in 08. Romney's running mate is even a male version of Sarah Palin--big mouth, not much brains. I suppose he's got some kind of smarts, Obama called him the philosopher of the Repubs, the title I thought Limbaugh owned. This guy must be about the equal of Limbaugh. Like I would say Limbaugh doesn't have much brains, except he's generated his stupid mouth into a $4million commodity pumping up white men to hate everything not white male. I hear on NPR now quite a lot of attention given to republicans. It's because the repubs have been breathing down NPR's neck since Reagan, taking money away from them, reducing them to syndicating BBC. Each repub administration threatens NPR a little bit more. And when we have a democrat administration they do nothing to help NPR. The most recent threat is include more news about republicans or lose more money. So they put on news stories about Romney and it's funny how much like dead air time it is when Romney is the subject. When he talks, he takes insincerity to new heights, or lows, whichever.


It seems like Obama is sitting back letting Romney & Co talk and get as much attention as they can, because they're so boring they make Obama look interesting. It's like they're playing Whiteman's Last Stand again. That's all the repubs are doing these days is playing Whiteman's Last Stand. All for the white man, nothing for anybody else. Freedom for the white man, bondage for everybody else. That's been the way of the USA from the start, so who's to say it's going to change now? It won't be long before white man in America is just another minority, albeit the most arrogant minority, the one the others allow the delusion of power because it's so important to white man to be number one. Every time I see Romney it's the same pose, same face, same expression, like the image of George Washington on the dollar bill, always the same any way you look at it. Or like a face on a postage stamp. It's a face. It's always the same. A bland American whiteman face gazing into the distance like in Soviet and Maoist "realism." Like the new Martin Luther King statue in Washington DC designed by a Chinese sculptor who evidently had his foundation in Maoist realism where peasants and soldiers gape at the rising red star.


It's hard to even believe this is an election year. A little bit of bland talk about Romney, then a little bit of an example of his bland talking that goes round and round like a roulette wheel without a marble. He's totally upper middle-class suburban country club, only the best, Mr Niceguy with a benign smile for all. He has the authenticity of Al Gore, the reason nobody much cared that the Bush-Cheney-Rummy-Rice Junta used the Supreme Court to take the election away from Al Gore, the winner despite Ralph Nader making it difficult for him. I have a feeling that people generally get as enthusiastic about Romney as they did about Al Gore. Gore was a bland suburban Ken doll to the soulless max, as is Romney. In the Sixties they'd have been called Plastic People and Nowhere Men. They both were created by the political image machine from the time they were little. They play the role required of anyone in politics in America, a mask with a smile, nothing else. Whoever might be behind the mask has no relevance. Image is everything. Appearance is all. As seen on tv. And I'm told by people who want me to think they know what they're talking about that television is not having any kind of effect on people who watch it. I wonder if we'd have had these random sprays of rapid-fire bullets into anonymous crowds of people before television. No I don't wonder. It did not happen before tv.


Except: Paris in the time of Surrealism (1920s and 1930s); one of the Surrealists, possibly Andre Breton, envisioned the idea that the ultimate Surrealist act would be to walk into a crowd of people and fire a revolver randomly. It was held up as a kind of idea of the ideal, until one day somebody did it and it wasn't funny. I hear on the news about a whiteman taking an AK47 or something into a kindergarten classroom of Vietnamese immigrant children and blowing away the kids, the teacher and himself. How Surrealist is that? Kids shooting up a school. Surrealism. Suddenly, unexpectedly, out of nowhere, not even out of conception, a couple of guys start shooting in the cafeteria, in the library. Son of Korean dry-cleaners walks into a university classroom with an automatic pistol, shoots professor, several kids and self. The ultimate American statement. Maybe this is to say we are in a Surrealist time. When 98% of the population goes around during the day with last night's commercials, sit-coms and sports on television in their heads, there aint much going on but keepin on keepin on. Pantene for chlorine damaged hair. It's a riot how television leads us by imitating us; following the lead of a parrot, another word for the say-what-you're-told politician and reporter.


If you want to see mastery in lying with a straight face, check out Lyndon Johnson on YouTube telling the television audience about the patrol boats shooting at American ships in Tonkin Gulf, knowing it had not happened, that it was a fabrication to fool the American people into believing it was a justified war action taking place to start killing farm families in Vietnam. Before the March on DC in 1968 Johnson called a press conference and told the press what to report, a made up press release that was nothing like the event itself. They all had front row to the event and reported as told. Free press? Free to report as told. Only the Village Voice told about the press conference and told about the event as it happened. Later, Rupert Murdock bought Village Voice to shut it up. Too liberal. Politicians have to be good at lying the way a rock star needs to be good at screaming. I look at Obama when he is talking in so convincing a manner, the come-along-with-me appeal, and I think, What a good liar. He came out of his couple weeks briefing after the election with the FBI and CIA and the other top secret places of dark ops with deer-in-the-headlights in his eyes, up to and including the inauguration, where he so famously made a blooper. From then on, he's been a really good liar. The only reason Bush was busted for lying so much was he was not a good liar. He was just a dumb guy that lied all the time. Obama would be good on Broadway playing America's First Black President. The black man that lies as good as a white man. Electable.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GRUMBLINGS IN THE EARTH

        kurt schwitters, 3



In all my time in the mountains, I have had the same bed, a wooden frame with a 3/4 inch plywood surface and an old, like something Social Services would arrest me for sleeping on, cotton mattress, all fluffed up after a day in the sun, it's about 4 inches thick. After being slept on every night and countless days it's about an inch thick, if that, where the imprint of my mortal frame has custom-fitted it for me, personally. Like the way a shoe feels better the longer it's worn. That imprint is my hammock and with the blanket makes my cocoon from which I rise refreshed and ready to face whatever is next. I don't have wings, but my spirit has me upright, the spirit being what the wings symbolize, unless angels really do look like white doves flying.


I knew an old Regular Baptist elder who died of old age 20 years ago; he told me of a time an angel came to him in the living room and he recognized it for a winged angel. Another man told me of a time an angel came to him. These were old mountain people, the origin of American pragmatism. You're not going to fool one of them with an hallucination or a dream. Maybe you could fool one, but it wouldn't be Millard Pruitt getting fooled. Millard's credibility was a hundred percent with me when he told me he saw an angel. Accuse him of lying about it and he'd be up out of his chair before you could say scat. Though that wasn't the reason I believed him. I believed him because I knew him.


Back to the wooden bed. It has no springs, no cushioning. I prefer to sleep on the board itself, which I have done, but the mattress is the same thing as on the board, having no cushion value. The mattress is a mold for my frame that holds me in place comfortably like an old shoe. Some years ago reading a book about Shirdi Sai Baba, I saw that he slept on a plank of wood. It took years, a lot of years before I felt I was ready. From that moment on, it subconsciously became my goal to be able to sleep on a board. Chiropractors recommend a hard bed. I found I like it even better than on a mattress. My mortal frame feels best when I sleep on my bed that is the same as a board, as the mattress I lie on is about as thick as a thin blanket. I like it. It is the only bed I can be comfortable in. I've never liked a big mattress bed. They're more like wrestling rings without ropes than a place for repose. All the sheets and fitted sheets, box springs and all that goes with it, I'd rather use an open sleeping bag for a blanket. Wear bed clothes and it doesn't get dirty so fast. I'm not looking for a spread in Southern Living. The only way SL would look at my home would be an example of a Feng Shui disaster.


This is taking the long way around of getting to being able to feel grindings of tectonic plates way down deep. Most often, and consistently until the last few years, I felt the same kind of grindings. It was so subtle vibrating I'd question if the vibrating might be coming from inside me. I wondered what it was for a very long time, until I felt a fairly strong vibration, by comparison, from an earthquake maybe 300 miles away. Of course, I thought, a shock wave travels through rock way down deep underground perhaps at least as fast as sound travels through air. Maybe it's simultaneous. That one was notably a hair stronger than was the norm. Enough to make me notice it. It's amusing to be lying in bed and suddenly it feels like the Fifties motel room bed that vibrated a few minutes for a quarter, long enough to make you wish it would stop long before it does. It's like when the tree frogs are trilling and I can't tell if it's in my head or outside. That's the feeling. Am I trembling or is it the ground? By now I'm used to it. It was never enough to wake me, only felt it while awake.


Over the last year I've felt odd scrapings like I'd never felt before. They started getting my attention again after noticing the grumblings were becoming unsubtle enough to wake me from a light sleep. Then one came in rapid succession, like a slow Uzi, but more like slamming a fist from one hand into the heel of the hand of the other at a fairly rapid pace, though not all out rapid. It woke me and did that quck-punch grinding long enough that I grew tired of focusing on it and went back to sleep. Another time was a long, powerful grinding that felt so unnatural it flashed: fracking. Oh no. Halliburton, naturally. Dick Cheney, naturally. Enemies of the American people. It is seriously poisoning the water all over the country, doing it fast and doing it bad. By bad, I don't even mean where ethics is concerned, only the nature of their product: seriously poison water on a very large scale, like all the underground water, the source of our water. Soon we'll be like Bermuda, an island without fresh water. They keep the roofs painted white with lime and catch the water in barrels when it rains. If fracking goes on much further, at all further, our nation will be devoid of the next resource to go to war over, water. All the more reason for perpetual war for perpetual peace.


Allowing Halliburton and the others the right to destroy our ground water all over the country is beyond absurd. Yet, the gas corporation lobby insures full scholarships to the right schools for Congressional kids, the privilege of membership in the right country clubs, a nice car with a driver, expensive lunches and dinners for free, for corruption, for rising in society, for being sucked up to as a big dog. I look at the kinds of people who become politicians and they make phys ed majors look brilliant. We trust our very existence to them. How ignorant is that? They call the Indians that lived on the continent savages. They at least honored wisdom and after how many thousand years left the continent as pristine as before the first human set foot on it. They flowed with Grandmother Earth. In canoes they could see the bottom of the river and the fish, which were plentiful all those millenia of ignernt spear chuckers running about half naked and beating on a hollow log with sticks.


Don't laugh yet. We got nothing on them. I repeat. We got nothing on them. You and I are not the ones destroying our planet. We get the blame. We are doing our part for the destruction by allowing the corporate world to have its way. Now is too late to take control away from them, even if we made a commendable effort. But what can we do? The system does not include us. United States of America is out of business when the government does not protect the American people from predatory corporate targeting. Why would it? Our government has been usurped in the Shakespearean way, democracy outlawed while We the People watched it happen on tv every evening and never noticed. One thing we do know. The oil corporations are going to do what they want to do and we're not even the bother of a swarm of gnats to them. Not even the bother of a cell phone dead zone.


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Monday, August 13, 2012

CATY SAGE INDIAN MAIDEN

     caty sage memorial, elk creek


I was looking at the photograph I took of Caty Sage's grave site in the Turner section of Kansas City, Kansas. I grew up across the river from the cemetery, exactly five miles by road on account of the location of the bridge, and maybe 2 miles by crow. Had I known about the cemetery in the time of childhood, I could have seen it easily from Monkey Mountain the river made a bend around, the highest point for looking at distant landscape, maybe a half mile from the house. About the same distance as the waterfalls I live near now. I'd seen the sign beside the road at Elk Creek, Virginia, the next town after Independence on hwy 21 going north. It's 20 miles from my house to Independence, and Elk Creek is between 5 and 10 miles beyond Independence. In her childhood, Caty was snatched by evidently a trader in children. It happened then as it happens today. Snatching children goes back so far in our development that women probably have a gene for keeping an eye on their children, keeping them close in public, from countless generations of mothers carrying concern over losing a child in such a way. I've an idea Caty's mother never stopped grieving her loss.


Caty's brother eventually found her in Ohio before her tribe, the Wyandotte's, was removed from their land by the white genocidal enemy to the Turner region of Kansas, next to the river. Brother wanted to take her back to mama to ease her grieving heart. But Caty had a life. She'd been sold to the chief of the Wyandotte tribe, goldilocks, white jungle goddess. She was raised as the daughter of the chief. When the old chief died, the warrior who filled in the role of chief married Caty. When he died, some twenty or so years later, the next warrior who became chief married her, too. I think it was during her last marriage that her brother found her. Of course she's not going back. She is the tribe's matriarch. Her role in the tribe was the equal of the chief's. She couldn't be going off on a major journey through forest trails. It would take a caravan to carry her and all the warriors in the tribe to protect her. She may not have had but very few snapshot memories, if any, of life on the farm with her birth parents. Her life was with the tribe that evidently held her way up high. From the start with blond hair, the chief's daughter, other kids wouldn't pick on her so much. They must have been in a kind of awe of her at the very beginning. The chief adopting her was her shield of protection for being different.


You know she must have been scared out of her wits from the moment a strange man put his nasty hand over her mouth and carried her away running through the woods. A highway system of trails ran through the mountains in that time, days and days walking trails. By the time they reached the Wyandotte territory in Ohio, I'd guess she was depending on her captor to feed her and protect her. He was not a church kinda guy, for sure, and more than likely not an outgoing personality. He had to keep her looking pretty to get high dollar for her. That may have protected her somewhat from him. But I'd lay odds he had his way with her at will along the way. Maybe not penetration, but fondling, breathing his rotten breath on her. There came a time she knew she'd never be rescued and never see home, about the time she stopped crying. Along their travels northwest, maybe through Cumberland Gap, up through Kentucky into Ohio. He was surely good to her to keep her healthy for the long walk and to look good at the other end. If an Indian out on a long-distance hunting trip snatched her, her terror might have even been worse than with some white man traveler. There's no telling. Her snatcher might have treated her ethically. No. Somebody who snatches a child to sell it doesn't think ethically.


All we know is she survived the overland journey from Elk Creek, Virginia, to western Ohio. The man she was with surely was a hunter, a man who knew the mountains, knew the trail system well. Possibly, by the time they reached their destination she'd learned something about hunting and preparing the food. It seems like it must have been an Indian possibly of the Wyandotte tribe. Maybe he knew the chief had no heirs of his infertile seed, thought this blond jungle goddess would suit the chief and maybe get the kidnapper a significant reward. Evidently, the chief had no heirs and Caty became his prize babydoll. It may not have been very long before they had her feeling at home, the chief's wife her new mother, the chief and his wife both elated to have such a beautiful child to raise as their own. She probably grew up into a knockout, and evidently the hot thang of choice since the next man to be chief married her. And 20 years later in her late 30s probably, her husband died and the next man to become chief married her. By this time she surely was the tribal matriarch. They must have thought a great deal of her. Shaman may have divined a good story about her being sent from heaven to be the chief's heir, or whatever. I can't see a white man carrying her that far when he could have sold her probably several times along the way.


If it were an Indian, he probably would have treated her ethically, possibly having in mind getting her to the chief and himself becoming a big man for finding her and bringing her back. Her brother who spent his adult life looking for her, following every lead he could find. By the time he finally found her, he surely knew the nature of her kidnapping, who did it and why. That knowledge died with him and everyone else concerned. I can't see a white man who would kidnap a child would carry a child that far, in probably a bee-line over the landscape, and the child survive him. An Indian hunter taking her through the trails with purpose to make her the chief's prized daughter would be good to her, feed her well and more than likely be respectful with her as if she already were the chief's daughter; he's just delivering her. She may have had very little terror except when she began to realize she'd never see home again. Not to say this is how it was, I doubt if anything I'd imagine could be the case. But it's fun letting the mind run and do some investigative thinking from what I've learned of walking in these mountains, and what I've learned living among human beings all my life.


I can't see a white man of the time, a hunter, kidnapping her and delivering her overland so far away, for money, in any kind of good health, certainly not good mental health after what he'd have done with her along the way. She'd have been unfit for a chief's daughter by the time she arrived years later. If it were a Wyandotte Indian hunter who found her by chance and took her with solving the chief's problem in mind, I'd guess he surely carried her on his shoulders or made a device of straps she could ride in on his back. It wouldn't be far along the way that she would be dependent on him, not knowing where she was or how to find the way home. After a certain point, she probably took him for her protector. An Indian could strap her to his back and make some time. I can't see a white man condescending to that, or even thinking to. By the time they reached the tribal settlement, she was probably curious to see what new life she was being carried into, maybe even ready to assimilate, for survival. Caty's first day in the tribal setting, seeing and meeting people inside an Indian village, must have been an eye opener.


I learned about Caty Sage reading Bill Bland's book, Yourowquains: A Wyandot Indian Queen, the story of Caty Sage, that I found in the Alleghany library. I went to amazon and saw they have some there, too. At amazon I saw a book published 2009, The Saga of Caty Sage, by Jerry L Haynes. Both books were rated 5 star and the reader reviews of the Saga of Caty Sage made me want it now. But I'm reading something else at the moment. Can't buy everything I think I want in a gotta-have-it moment. The library probably has a copy. It must be known, then, how Caty was taken from here to there. The Jerry Haynes book looked awfully good. He evidently did a great deal of research and put it all together as a "novel" probably because so many of his sources couldn't be verified. It tells me it is written as a story, which gives it a good chance of being what I'd want it to be. She was buried in an unmarked grave, maybe originally marked with wood, in the Indian part of the big cemetery, the part with very few headstones. She was driven west with the remains of her tribe after white encroachemnt. Not by war. They were told to leave. The survivors of disease evidently took up in Turner, Kansas. This is speculative, so don't be taking notes. Faulty memory sprinkled with imagination. It amuses me since I learned where she was buried that she and I did a reversal. She went to where I grew up and I went from there to where she originated, just 25+ miles from where I am now. We made a circle. 


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

OLD-TIME HERALD ARTICLE

the crooked road ramblers at albert hash memorial fest 2011



In today's mail was the new issue of Old-Time Herald, a glossy magazine for old-time music all over the country, from Maine to California. It's published in Durham, North Carolina, edited by the very able editor, Sarah Bryan, the layout done by Steve Terrill, an artist of the visual who picks banjo with the Durham old-time band, The Hush Puppies. Steve always makes a beautiful magazine cover. This month the cover is a black and white portrait of a Missouri fiddler, RP Christeson. I've been taking pictures of musicians regularly for the last three years, so my eye automatically notes a portrait of a musician, in this case a fiddler. He's not playing the fiddle, but holding it by the neck vertically with the bow between two fingers. Only the upper half of the fiddle and only half the bow in the frame. RP has his head turned to his right in just enough profile to show the roundness in the face. It is a beautifully conceived photograph. On the left side is the blur of a figure too close for the camera's focus, just the upper arm and hair above. It says inside that the photograph was made by Howard Marshall in 1987. He wrote the article that accompanies the photograph. To Howard Marshall, I say, Congratulations, a wonderfully unique portrait of a fiddler.


And congratulations to Steve Terrill for seeing the art in the photograph. I met Steve one time at the Sparta Fiddler's Convention for a few moments. He was there with his band, the Hushpuppies. Molly, one of the band's two fiddlers was with him when we talked. My friend Jean was living then. When I'm in the presence of musicians I respect as much as I do them, I feel a fullness of respect, because I appreciate their musicianship and the artists they are. It's the artist I think I appreciate in them first. The kind of respect I feel when I see a painting or sculpture by Will Hernandez, new to the county from Key West, who has such an imaginative eye that everything I've seen by him I've beheld in awe for the art in it. Will is truly an artist. Steve Terrill is truly an artist. He has several expressions for his art sensibilities; doing layout for Old-Time Herald www.oldtimeherald.org, which he does beautifully, picking banjo with the Hush Puppies, beautifully, has a label for old-time music by bands, www.old97wrecords.com, designs the album covers and all that goes with it.


Sarah Bryan, the editor, has shown herself to me to be a first class editor, the kind of editor a writer can work with happily. We've become acquainted by email over the last few years, turns out we know quite a lot of people in common, I knew some of the teachers where she went to school growing up in Myrtle Beach. She told me her dad made the big sculptures of dinosaurs, the golden Buddha, all kinds of animals at the miniature golf courses. I have loved those things for a lot of years. Even wondered who made them. They're almost inconceivably outrageous. They are unmistakably Myrtle Beach. Sarah told me that while he was working on a new miniature golf course, he ended up with one creature too many. It was a rhinoceros. He kept it standing in the driveway at home for a year. Sarah said her mother was fine with it. I've wanted to meet them both ever since. If one of my neighbors were to do such a thing, I'd take them a couple bottles of wine to celebrate. The Sarah I've come to know by every-once-in-a-while email correspondence and facebook is sure enough their daughter. Sarah has a spirit of allowing about her. She doesn't seem to me a controller.


Sarah has a manner that is particular to her generation, a young woman with a fast and brilliant mind who followed her interest, worked with NC folklife center and came into the job at Old-Time Herald as editor. Not to say other women have not blazed their own trails. I'm thinking the post-women's liberation generation, the daughters of women's liberation. Girls raised with the convicted belief they can do what they want to do with their lives. Whoever made the decision to hire Sarah into the role of editor made the right decision. I don't have any idea what she's like at the office. I have only the finished product to go by, and every issue the magazine is a beautiful presentation of its content. The ads are even beautiful. She has a banjo picker doing the visual layout with as good an eye as he has an ear. I think Sarah plays fiddle. Together with their staff they make a good band. Looking at the magazine as the music they make putting it together, it works. The magazine is full of reverence for old-time music, though not corny. It's a reverence like the way Dale Jett sings Carter Family songs. It's not sappy. It's a tone of voice in deep respect. That says it pretty good for the magazine, too. It's full of respect, never corny. And it's full of good information.


This issue, v13/#3, has the account I wrote of the experience of last year's Albert Hash Festival at Whitetop, Virginia. I had been curious how Steve Terrill would work his magic with it, automatically figuring he'd change the photographs to black and white, which was fine with me in full confidence that what Steve does will make a very respectable presentation. As I once heard an old feller say, I was knocked off the log. First, that it was in rich, brilliant color. They were my photographs and it took my breath when I saw Whitetop Mountain Band all the way across the top half of both pages in color that was so nice Steve must have passed his hand over it. Below it Kilby and Amanda Spencer, an intended portrait I took of them during the show. I wanted something of them that made a good portrait of them making music. I was happy he chose the picture of Slate Mountain Ramblers with the heads of the people sitting in front of me in the foreground and other audience heads, then the dancers in the middle ground in full sunlight, and beyond the dancers the band with just enough blur to indicate distance. I was seeing if I could get a picture with three levels of depth, the audience, the dancers, the band. Not trying to get more three-dimensional than a 2-D image allows, but to include the whole into one picture, one above the other, like in a medieval painting.


I like that picture for context. It shows the nature of the tent the audience is sitting under, the nature of the chairs they're sitting in. It shows that it is country people in the audience, dancers between audience and band, the bandstand, and in the distance upstaging the heads in the foreground, the Slate Mountain Ramblers. I love taking pictures of bands at music events. I like to get the pictures from behind the audience, using the zoom lens. I like the tops of heads in the audience. It's how we see when we go to a concert. That day, I was taking pictures for myself to include a few in the blog. I wanted to get pictures from the audience perspective. I don't like to get up close and be obnoxious trying to get an arty cliche picture. I'm not in anybody's way in the back. No sticking my camera up in the face of whoever is sitting behind me.


I was as glad to see that context photo included as the two of Whitetop Mountain Band and Crooked Road Ramblers. Most of all, I was floored by the inclusion of the photo of Thornton Spencer I'd forgotten I'd sent to Steve some time ago. It's my favorite of all photos I've taken. The camera has a half second delay from the time I push the button to the time the camera clicks. It was difficult to control a picture of people in motion, until I caught on to letting the blur define motion. I pushed the button as Thornton sawed the last note. The camera went off as the bow bounced off the string and he lowered the fiddle simultaneously. At first, I thought: Oh no! Then I loved it.


I had not intended or even thought to write something for OTH at the event. Took some pictures toward the blog and made some videos for YouTube. The channel: hobblealong1. You can find them by searching hobblealong1 or names of the bands. If you want to. Judy Carpenter was here and she went with me. We had a great time. The music was supreme all the way through. The audience was all country people, the kind of audience I'm most comfortable in, like at Fairview, Ruritan. I was at home every minute there. Even walking up to the place to pay admission I knew I'd come home. I have a lot of good associations with Whitetop Mountain. Later, after I'd written the blog entry it came to me to write something about it. I imagined somebody had been sent to write an article about it and better pictures than mine would be taken there.


I thought I'd write something from the perspective of somebody in the audience. Maybe it could be a companion piece for the main article with the inside scoop on the bands and the background of the event. I don't know that I've ever seen an article anywhere as seen from the audience. That doesn't mean anything because I've seen a minuscule number of articles in my lifetime to what there are in the world. I don't think I've ever seen any. I'm not a folklorist, so I felt it best to approach the article as an audience member, one of the people that pays to get in. Sarah's minimal editing made it better than I wrote it. She didn't change much, but what she changed made it tremendously better to read. She's as masterful at what she does as Steve is at his job. I feel powerful gratitude to both Sarah and Steve for taking that little ole thing I wrote and making it look awfully good. Thanks from the heart to the entire staff. I have to say I'm honored to have an article in this fine magazine I hold in high respect.     



the slate mountain ramblers at albert hash memorial fest 2011


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