Sweet, Sweet Jane

This one is for Lou Reed fans. The introduction to the vocal is several minutes long and is just outstanding. This album gets played often at my home address, and played as loudly as my equipment and neighbors will permit.

It almost goes without saying that the song Sweet Jane is about drugs. After all, this is Lou Reed we’re talking about. In this case the substance is heroin. You might miss that in the lyrics … I did for the longest time … but it’s there. Part of the problem is that the original and longer lyrics to the song were dropped from the most popular recorded versions. So I heard the sadness and longing and missed the rest.

But watch the video, check out the vintage hair and mustaches and clothes, and get in touch with your rock and roll side for a few minutes. You know you want to. That bass player … is he inscrutable or impassive or imperturbable or what?

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The last spate of elections are over, and the Democrats are exhibiting their typical Brownian Motion, running around bumping into one another trying to figure out why they did so poorly this time around. Nobody asked me if I knew the answer. So I will put it out there anyway. Let’s say a political party spends an entire year and can’t come up with the equivalent of a mission statement. Who squabble so much among themselves that they can’t get the things done that they need to do to hold our interest, much less retain our loyalty. Why should we vote for them except for the fact that they aren’t practicing Cluck-ism? That might have been enough in 2020, but it’s not holding up very well as a reason.

If there is such a thing as an average American, their lot hasn’t improved one iota in the last two or three decades, while our “leaders” are enriching themselves so fast the money changing hands never gets a chance to cool off but is always slightly warm to the touch. The one percenters are so bored that they are climbing onto the Musk/Bezos rockets like they were a new ride at Disney World. “Excuse me, Elon, but I’d like an aisle seat if you please, and did I miss the snacks being passed out … I love love your peanuts!”

Once upon a time there was a guy named Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, a singularly courageous Russian writer. He dashed off a bunch of books in his lifetime, eventually winning a Nobel Prize for his work. Among the titles were The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich. The books were very good and they were very anti-Communist, so when he was kicked out of the Soviet Union and came to America we all thought he might become our new BFF. But then he gave some speeches directed at us that were the literary equivalent of a swift kick in the pants with a hobnail boot. He thought we were weak, effete, and had lost our way in a maze and haze of materialism and secularism. Basically we were doomed unless we saw the light … and he didn’t think we would. Three of those speeches were gathered into a book called A Warning To The West, and some excellent excerpts are published on the Goodreads site. They are well worth reading, and I think their lessons are as applicable now as they were unwelcome news in the 70s.

What we needed then is what we still need now. Different flags to fly, different songs to sing – those that lift our spirits and bring us together in the common work that needs doing rather than focussing on our bottom line, which can only drive us apart.

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The music of Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles album is doing its good work in my morning. That woman … what a talent … and what a fine double album this one is, recorded live in 1974. Music like this is never dated and sounds today as fresh as it did 47 years ago. The recording is clear and excellent as opposed to the mushy sound that live albums sometimes offer up. Here’s a photo of Joni and her backup band for the album, the L.A. Express.

It’s okay with me if you don’t rush out and buy this and listen to it just because I said you should. There is so much good stuff out there to listen to that it boggles the mind. As a matter of fact, I am having quite a bit of trouble getting unboggled this morning … perhaps the next cup of coffee should be intravenously administered rather than orally. I just wanted to let you know that this album was out there, in case you’d missed it the first time around.

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Grandson Dakota took his leave of us Thursday, on his way to the rest of his life. His car contained everything he owned, so off he went in a VW Jetta version of that famous truck in the movie, Grapes of Wrath. He is a fine young man and we are so glad we got the chance to know him better. ‘Twas a gift to us.

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As everybody knows, Paradise is located in Montrose County, Colorado. As of this morning our county is a Covid – 19 hotspot. Such news should not come, unfortunately, as a surprise to anyone. In the 2020 election, 2/3 of the county’s electorate voted for a presidential candidate who was completely unfit for the office, a charlatan of the first water. They knew it and they still voted for him.

Now, did anyone really think that having flunked Elementary Civics that these people would do any better at Preventive Medicine? The fact that we are now in a situation where nearly all of the deaths from this disease are in the unvaccinated segment of our society does not deter them from publicly refusing to be helped.

Denial? Death wish? Dumbassedness? Take your pick.

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The Many Pleasures of Nitpicking

It’s four in the morning and I am trying to edit a post on my blog and there is a fly in the house. Just one. In the entire place. And it has obviously taken annoying me as it’s life’s work. It can’t bite me, and there is no uncovered food to worry about being contaminated. But what it does do is walk on my head at random intervals. When I make a swipe at it it easily evades my primitive defenses and disappears into the murkiness that is the house at this time of day. Then suddenly there it is back again, traipsing across my scalp without a care in the world.

I am distracted beyond measure. I know that flies don’t laugh out loud, but I swear that I hear tiny chuckling noises. Such is my state of mind. Serenity is lost. Creative writing is impossible because my mental processes have been commandeered by this winged pestilence. There is a single word flashing across the marquee of my thought-stream.

REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM!

But now the fly has gone … somewhere. It’s been fifteen minutes or longer since I felt its presence. I know it hasn’t left the house, there is no exit available to it. It’s only waiting for me to relax and to begin to think that I can reclaim my day. Even though its life is (on the average) only 28 days long, it is very patient and probably is now reclining in a closet against one of my sweaters, filing its clacky little nails and waiting for just the right moment to come out and take one more hike …

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I am thinking that Senator Joseph Manchin is the Democrat’s equivalent of Senator McConnell. He seems to care less about doing the right thing than increasing his personal power, and is willing to wield that power widely for as long as he has it. If it were not for the slender margin of the Democratic majority, who would care what Manchin thought? He’s a backward-looking man who is still selling bags of coal to anyone who will buy, even as the earth begins to burn around his feet.

Reading about politics is a good way to spoil a good morning. My grandson who is spending some time with us is 29 years old. Here is the list of people who have been POTUS since he was born:

  • Bill Clinton (president fellatio)
  • George W. Bush (president Iraq/Afghanistan or bust)
  • Barack Obama (president who cares if I didn’t do squat – I’m rich, rich!)
  • Donald Cluck (president disaster)
  • Joe Biden (president wake me up when it’s over)

Now is that a lackluster list to contemplate or what? Keep in mind that these are the presidents, the holders of the highest office, and at least theoretically our best and brightest. God help that grandson if he starts looking at the sorry state of members of Congress during this same period. (I would never suggest that he do so unless a competent psychotherapist was right there in the room with him to ease him over the depression that would inevitably result).

A worm blob

I recently read an article about a blob of worms and its fascinating behavior. As I was reading I realized that without even trying my mind had made that squirming ball into a metaphor for American politicians and politics. Read the piece, watch the video, see if you don’t come to a similar conclusion. If not, please tell me why. There are days when my spirit could certainly use a boost.

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Our cats are already settling into winter behavior patterns. Basically this means more time spent indoors and less time in the back yard. They are eating more, sleeping more, and occasionally looking about as bored as any critter can look.

It has become apparent over the years that Robin and I are not stimulating company for a cat. At our best we are the providers of food, the openers of cans, and minions who deal with kitty litter in all of its delightful forms.

At worst we are poor conversationalists and don’t seem to know on our own when the best times are for the brushing of fur and for scratching behind the ears, and need to be reminded (sometimes forcibly) about doing our duty in these areas. In addition, we often let the weather get completely out of control, allowing wind, rain, and cold to run rampant on the other side of the cat door. Year after year we humans never seem to get any better at this. It’s enough to make a feline weep in frustration.

I know for a fact that Willow is thinking that if she had opposable thumbs and the keys to the car life would be a completely different story at our house.

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Robin and I got our booster shots of Covid vaccine this week. Just as before, it took 24 hours before we started to feel mildly lousy, but within another six hours our bodies were returned to us in fine shape but for sore arms. We are now armored as well as is possible here as players in the ongoing Montrosian soap opera I will call Days of the Numbnuts. The theme of this show is that over the first several episodes half of the town’s occupants are revealed to be mindless drones who get their instruction and misinformation from foxy television screens.

It isn’t long, however, before we find out that the drones are dying off one by one from a mysterious illness that results in their exploding at social gatherings. One cup of punch and they go blooey, leaving quite a mess behind for the host and hostess to clean up. By Episode Six no one is inviting them to anything any more, and they have only themselves to talk to. This is a state of affairs that they bitterly resent, but those TV screens are not providing them any help at all.

Not sure where this will all go from here, but the drama is mildly entertaining if you can just distance yourself and watch it as if you were an anthropological observer from Neptune. At least that’s how I am handling it these days. It makes me less crazy.

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